Author's notes (ooh, and at the start this time): Some sort of concoction of the movie and the cartoon, as most Beetlejuice fics seem to be. I don't have a beta, so as always...please don't hesitate to point out any glaring errors. :)

Rated B for Beetlejuice's Belly. Rated T for Telling, Not Showing. D:

One French ex-fitness guru with no muscles left on his bare, bare bones, and one chatty, red-headed, leggy cadaver who used to be a chatty, red-headed, leggy tap dancer: Obviously a reference to Jacques and Ginger.

Thirty-seven is the age Michael Keaton was when Beetlejuice was released, so that's why I chose it.

Title picked from the lyrics of 'Down by the Water' by PJ Harvey.

Little Fish, Big Fish

Ninnik Nishukan

Summary: There's the age difference, there's the living in different dimensions and of course the little matter of mortality. Beetlejuice and Lydia. Primarily friendship, with a few vague instances of sexual tension. A sort-of sequel to The Point Sometimes.

Well, he's back. He doesn't seem to feel like telling her how he did it, but he's back. Her ghastly summertime pal. Except now fall and winter have already passed, and it's spring again…and somehow, he's not just an ambiguously charming annoyance anymore, but her new best friend.

He just popped up one day, as you do, while she was riding her bike home from school. In mid-rant about 'sending him up shit creek without a paddle' (being 'abducted' by Juno must've made him recall her 'broken wedding vows', or perhaps he'd gone crazy and had expected her to stop Juno somehow, as if she could), he must've noticed she wasn't looking where she was going.

If it hadn't been for him, she really would've plummeted off the Winter River bridge, and really, how ironic would that have been? Never mind that she might've paid attention to where her bike was headed if he hadn't distracted her. After that, after the rescue, he seemed to gradually forget what he'd originally come here for, and in turn, his corny jokes gradually grew on her.

Lydia Deetz, the teenaged, skinny, short, gothic outcast, now holds the undivided attention of a centuries-old poltergeist. And not just when it's just the two of them hanging out at her house, either. It's even when they're in the Neitherworld, where there are so many things to turn his head, too.

It makes her feel proud, but she's not flattering herself. It's not like she's so terribly interesting or anything. The reason why he's so attentive around her is because she's doing the same thing for him; even despite his corny jokes and hyperactive behavior, she has the feeling that she takes him more seriously than anyone he knows.

She feels like they have something in common; Beetlejuice, it seems, is considered weird even by the dead and by the other bizarre creatures of his world. While Lydia is a far cry from a bringer of chaos, she can relate by always being the odd one out in her town and at her school, often even in her own home.

She still misses Barbara and Adam, though. Juno's finally got a new partner again, and they've been reevaluating the Maitland case. Apparently, it's a tricky business when you've done something as unconventional as ride a sandworm into the real world. It has to involve a lot of paperwork. And then there's always the whole Beetlejuice fiasco to work through and cover up so it won't make the bureaucrats look incompetent and their security lax. The Maitlands have only been to a couple of meetings and hearings. What makes it so hilarious (crying is even funnier) is how an hour there is about three months here.

Lydia understands why Dad and Delia can't be them, because they're not an unhappily childless couple who suddenly have an entire afterlife to devote to doting on a teen. Her father and her stepmother have enough to deal with (their marriage, the house, their jobs, the neighbors, Lydia's school and Lydia herself, for example). Lydia is also beginning to suspect that Delia might be pregnant, and that she and Dad are simply waiting for the right moment to tell her. This only serves to make her even more aware of the current Maitlands-shaped hole in her life.

And when they get back (if they get back; her oh-so-favorite recurring thought at certain times of night), will the potential baby have already been born, and will they then direct their attention towards it instead?

And anyway, what good is it to finally have a sibling to supposedly keep her company when she'll already be in college by the time it's old enough to even have a simple 'See Spot Run' level conversation?

And she doesn't even want to imagine what outlandish breed of new mother Delia is going to be, although words like "unbearable" and "frantic" probably enter into the picture, along with lots and lots of hysterical shopping and redecorating.

Or (oh, gods) what if Delia gets it into her head that she wants them all to move again? Especially considering she never wanted to move to Winter River in the first place?

So, yeah…Lydia is looking more and more forward to each of Beetlejuice's visits. While there are definitely things that qualify him as a big ball of instability, he'll never change, not really. He won't get older, he'll always look the same, he won't die (because he already has), he'll always be incorrigible, and he sure as heck won't get pregnant. And so far, it looks like he won't leave, either (although she'd thought the same about Mom, so you never know, right?).

Beetlejuice, whether it's because of his strange brand of Poltergeist magic or perhaps because time only passes strangely in the bureaucratic part of the Neitherworld, never leaves for months at a time, or even weeks…not even days, really, if it comes to that. The thing is, the creepy thing is, that below the layers and layers of sleaze and grime, Beetlejuice turned out to be fairly decent. She can deal with the grossness and the chaos as long as he's done with the business-and-other-related manipulation and exploitation.

Which he probably isn't, not completely, but whatever.

Sometimes she wonders if they, Barbara, Adam, Juno or the rest of her department are aware of it. Beetlejuice doesn't take her anywhere even near the Waiting Room or the Courthouse when they're in the Neitherworld, though, so she has no idea...maybe they don't. She supposes there would be repercussions if they did. The Neitherworld seems like a big, big place to her, with many, many hiding spots. He doesn't seem to want to say, so she doesn't ask. Upsetting the status quo isn't exactly what she's about these days.

"How old were you when you died?" she asks Beetlejuice, one rainy afternoon as they're lounging about in her gloomy room, playing a game of cards. It's one of the few days when he's not running amuck in her house (as much as he can without her parents noticing him too much). On the other hand, he's taken the opportunity to cheat at poker a total of sixteen times and counting.

"What do you think?" He smirks at her in challenge as he strikes a ridiculous parody of a sexy pose.

Lydia giggles indulgently at him before shrugging. "Dunno. Thirties?" This would be her best guess; he doesn't seem to be as old as her dad, and not only because he acts like a petulant child or an unruly teenager a lot of the time, but because of the way he looks. It's hard to tell, what with the graveyard dirt and the dark circles around his eyes, but yeah…he has to be younger than her dad. Something about the way he carries himself, the way he moves, something around the mouth (no, not the specks of beetle juice), and something about the eyes.

Beetlejuice frowns, looking momentarily suspicious. "Early or late thirties?"

She hesitates a bit. "Early thirties," she settles for diplomatically, giggling again as he preens, once more attempting to look sexy and failing. Mid- to late thirties, then, she thinks to herself. Thirty-seven, she decides. He'll probably never tell her his exact age, anyway. Likes to be all mysterious.

And then she wonders how weird it is that somehow, the concept of him being in his thirties just sounds so incredibly…incredibly old when she didn't react much to it when he told her he was more than six hundred. Maybe it's because six hundred seems so abstract, like such a silly fantasy number, while thirties just sounds so solid.

She's just turned fifteen— he gave her the antique, bizarrely lizard-shaped necklace she's wearing right now— and even though he's about ten years younger than her father, he's old enough to be her father; well, okay, so he'd be a pretty young dad, but still—

—wait a minute, hell; he's old enough to be her great-great-great-great-great-great-etc. grandfather, isn't he? Never mind father! Even so, he'll still look like this even when Lydia herself is long dead, and the possibly fertilized egg inside Delia is having its adult diapers changed in a nursing home somewhere. She's still not sure exactly how she feels about that, outside of the inevitable macabre fascination.

Even though he promised he wouldn't, he still brings up the subject of the botched marriage from time to time. It's obvious that he's getting antsy, that he wants to get out and about and stretch his legs in the world of the living without having to be dependent on being called forth by her. Still, it should be obvious to him by now that it's not gonna happen, and maybe it is, because he's not really pushing the issue, not really.

So why is he hanging out with a fifteen-year-old girl, playing poker with Raisinets for chips on a boring, rainy afternoon? He's an ancient, powerful poltergeist! What's he even doing here?


"Yeah, Lyds?"

She glances curiously at him before refocusing her gaze on her cards. "Would you be hanging out here with me if there'd been somebody else willing to call you out?"

"Nope," he says promptly, and her face falls. He doesn't even seem to notice. "I wouldn't even know ya now if ya hadn't been the one to call me out, babes," he goes on, and it dawns on her then that he hasn't even picked up on the real significance of her question.

Sighing, she rearranges her cards, absently swatting at his forehead when he extends his neck so far he can just about peek over her shoulder at her cards. It should be kinda creepy, she supposes, but she's finally getting used to his many transformations.

"I mean…" She bites her lip. "Isn't this boring for you?"

"Boring?" He blinks, his neck reeling back in, fast, much like the cord on the vacuum cleaner snapping back into the machine at the touch of a button, whenever Dad's done using it.

She shrugs. "You said you were in your mid— um, early thirties when you died…" she begins reluctantly, stalling; not wanting to ask, but needing to, "…so what in the world are you hanging around me for? Wouldn't you rather spend time with somebody…I dunno…your own age?"

His eyebrows rising, he gives her a long, sideways look.


She must be the only girl he's ever met with such enthusiasm for the gross. She squeals in delight when he puts on his most frightening, snake-infested face, gapes in awe when he does things like magic his own head away, and he's seen her on her knees in the garden digging for bugs in her parents' best flowerbeds more than once.

When she found him a particularly fat beetle to eat one day, her eyes shining with ghoulish curiosity as his bizarre tongue darted out to snatch up the helpless treat and devour it, he knew she was someone special. Sure, she gagged and went a little green when he actually ate it, but you couldn't deny the curiosity. He's got very different standards of what's positive about a person than what other people might, and it's obvious by the way she laughs at his cheesy and often macabre jokes that she does, too.

Instead of shuddering and screaming, she yaks on and on about make-up effects and underlying political meanings when she watches zombie flicks.

It's rare to be surprised when you've been around for over six hundred years, that's all, but it's not like he's gonna tell her that. Kid's got enough power over him already.

He scoffs. "People my age don't appreciate a good prank."

She sends him a quirky grin. "Neither do I, a lot of the time."

"Yeah." He grins softly, flashing his horribly neglected dental hygiene. "But ya appreciate it when it counts and you laugh at my hammy jokes and ya don't mean it when you yell at me."

That brings a strict frown to her brow. "What? I do mean it! You just choose not to listen to it!"

He shrugs, fiddling absently with his cards. "Yeah, yeah, but you yell at me because…because, you know, so…so then I don't mind so much."

She blinks at him. "Huh? 'You know' what?"

He clears his throat; not that it improves any on his already gravelly voice. "'Cause you…care and stuff," he rumbles grudgingly, "Good intentions and all, like the hopeless case y'are…and it's not like I never listen to ya."

Lydia's mouth twitches into a small smile; she looks down at her cards to hide it. "Thanks, Beej. That's almost kinda nice of you."

Beetlejuice gasps. "Aww, what a rotten thing to say about a guy, babes! Got a reputation to uphold, ya know!"

He stands there frozen for a while, a look of utter surprise on his face, probably matching the expression on her own, and she automatically looks him over. He doesn't look as gross as she'd expected, what with all the revolting things he usually keeps about his person. He doesn't have snakes coming out of his armpits, mould growing down his arms or bugs crawling up and down his legs, despite all the speculating she's done whenever she was bored. Whatever he looked like under the stripy suit had always been a nauseating and mysterious prospect for her.

It could be anything. It could be a black hole, for all she knew. A black hole filled with writhing, slimy things. Or just a gory, chewed-up mess, George A. Romero style.

Instead it's this. He's a weird, grayish-yellow pale, like his face, and undeniably dirty, but he's not grotesquely mangled and hasn't got any bizarre things growing on him. She's almost a little disappointed, in her own morbid kind of way, though she notes the skull-and-crossbones design on his boxers with amusement— what is he, a pirate?

His arms are more muscular than she'd thought they'd be, what with his rounded face and flabby gut. His legs, too. They're not that impressive, really, but they look…solid. Strong. So does his chest, even though he doesn't really have anything that could be called notable pecs.

And then there's his belly, the final clincher that he wasn't a very young man when he died; out of shape, not as young as he used to be etc, etc. He looks like a guy who liked and likes to drink, and she knows he does. It's not a swollen, bulging belly, but it's definitely…a belly, overhanging his boxers. This guy probably never did a sit-up in his entire life.

Lydia wonders if his belly would decompress like a squishy marshmallow or if it would bounce like a springy mattress or if it wouldn't yield much at all, strained like the skin of a drum or a balloon holding too much oxygen— he is magic, after all, if such a fruity word can actually be applied to whatever-the-hell he is—

"Close your eyes! You're just a kid!" he bellows the second he's regained his composure, crossing one arm over his bare chest. He already covered up his crotch the moment he noticed she was there, and she has to wonder why. He's still wearing boxers.

His words leaves her more shaken than she would like to admit, cuts her to her core, icy veins of insult, hurt, outrage and humiliation branching out across her body. She was standing there, almost, almost evaluating him like a grown woman would— and he calls her a kid?

Somehow she's often felt a little older than him, mostly because she's his guardian and has always been forced to act like the adult in every situation because he's just like a big kid— sometimes she almost feels like a babysitter around him— and she's always felt more emotionally mature than him despite the fact that she's only a teenager—

So this comes as a big shock. A great big bucket of ice water down her back. She's been foolishly acting like some kind of adult when really he's so, so, so much older than her and has experienced more than she ever will, and she wonders for a second whether he's been snickering behind her back about how holier-than-thou she acts around him when she's really just some brat wearing too much eye shadow who thinks that death is some kind of cool fashion statement or something and doesn't know she's playing with fire—

"Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!" she snaps, sending him back whence he came, like some foul demon, catching his bewildered, frowning expression the second before he pops out of her world.

She hasn't felt like this since she plucked up the nerve to ask one of the older boys at school for a cigarette once and he laughed right in her face, mumbling something to his friends about crazy goth chicks and their kink for health risks and death.

He was only two years older than her. How the hell did that give him the right to be so arrogant? He didn't know more about life than her! Probably less!

Afterwards, when the anger and outrage passes, she only feels sick. Sick with humiliation. Trembling with it.

That boy never made her feel like this. He only made her angry and insulted— Beetlejuice has managed to hurt her, and she refuses to even contemplate the possibility that she might be over-interpreting or overreacting.

Why did he pretend like he wanted to be her friend? He only hangs around her because he has no choice…right?

After three days, she calls him out once more. She wants an apology. Or maybe she wants to give one. She's not sure.

"Hi," she begins, uncertain.

He doesn't return the greeting. "You can't just call me out whenever you feel like it, you know," he grumbles sulkily. "I was kind of in the middle of something," he adds, and her face flushes at once, as she realizes exactly what he'd been doing.

But— but he's dead! He's not supposed to do stuff like that anymore, is he? And again, she feels so desperately young, so terribly naïve.

Of course he does, of course he is. He's always dripping with innuendo, and Barbara told her once that he felt her up several times when they first met and even went as far as to kiss her— completely without her permission, of course!

And he tried to marry Lydia, and what kind of person tries to marry someone who wasn't even fifteen— but then he'd only done it to be free, anyway, so she supposes it doesn't matter. He would've never consummated the marriage, so that's not the point.

But the thing is…it looks like the dead— some of them, anyway— are still capable of performing acts of the flesh.

And she should've known, shouldn't she? He's always so…lively; a nice word for being a big ol' perv. But the thought of him doing…that with someone makes her flesh crawl…and it's with no small amount of shock that she realizes that it also makes her vaguely jealous, in a disturbing, trying-to-shake-it-off kind of way, her face feeling hot with anger, betrayal and discomfort. It just opens up a whole new can of worms, so to speak.

There's nothing non-sexual and safe about him anymore, if there ever even was; not even in her own deluded mind. He's a thirty-seven-going-on-seven-hundred-year-old guy who's hanging around a fifteen-year-old girl in her room. That has to be wrong on so many levels.

It's been so easy to never really think about it, distracted by his flamboyant way of acting and his corny sense of humor. He acts so often like a big kid.

But then again, that's not even really an issue, is it? She's got nothing to fear because he's not interested in her like that anyway, because it looks like he's getting all the action he needs on the other side. Who knows, maybe he even has a girlfriend? She's never asked, she's always just assumed he was single and alone by the way he acted, but yeah, who knows…?

"Oh," she mutters.

He gives an exasperated groan at her apparent cluelessness. "When I got back there, the broad was already leaving— total mood-killer, Lyds!"

"…who was she?" Her voice is tiny, and it makes him pause.


"The…the 'broad'. Who was she?"

He hesitates a little, frowning deeply at her. Something has changed, something in the atmosphere of the room, but he can't quite put his finger on what. "Just some girl I met down at the bar. Probably never see her again," he says; and why did he even add that last part? It's not like she cares; it's not like he cares if she cares.

Suddenly, Lydia gives a short, nervous laugh. Shit. She doesn't want him in that way, can't even conceive of the concept, yet somehow she doesn't want anybody else to want him, either. It's so juvenile, selfish and possessive that it makes her nauseous. She hadn't realized she was capable of such petty, irrational emotions.

Well, then she's obviously already forgotten how she felt when her mother announced she was leaving, when she wanted to force her mother to stay even though her parents clearly weren't working out and her staying would only have made it worse. Because it would make her fragile world fall apart, and because she feared she'd receive even less attention, and because her mother was the only person she knew who shared any of her strange and unusual interests. None of the other kids got it.

When commenting on her eccentric wardrobe, in that frustrated-parent-of-a-teenager sort of way, Dad loves to theorize that she melodramatically started mourning her mother's departure, and then never bothered to change out of her funeral clothes.

Without really realizing it (boy, she had herself convinced she wasn't such an idiot), she's been feeling so damn special, so apart from everybody else, so cool and mature, because she gets to contact and even visit this whole other universe, and not in a cheesy symbolic sense, either, like the kids use to compare Winter River and New York, but in a completely and utterly literal sense. And the thing is…the thing is that it's been Beetlejuice who's not only made the whole thing possible, but Beetlejuice who's…who's validated her, made her something else than a dime-a-dozen goth depresso, sitting alone in her room writing wretched poetry and thinking about death.

Now, she doesn't have to think about death, because she can talk to it directly (before Beetlejuice, there was Barbara and Adam, of course, but despite being ghosts, they look and act so normal that she rarely thinks of them as 'dead', let alone 'death') but also, and more importantly, she has a friend, a real friend, the kind who understands and doesn't just pretend to.

Lydia loves Barbara and Adam so much, but Barbara and Adam are, or were, regular people. They're not into horror novels or horror movies or insects or her bizarre photographs or anything. Adam smiles nervously at her dark and admittedly melodramatic poetry, and Barbara tries, carefully, to steer her towards pastels and to get her to spend more time in the sun. They mean well, and she loves spending time with them, they're great company, and she misses them, but they're not friends, they're parents; they want to be parents.

Beetlejuice…is a friend.

And being reminded, abruptly, and again, of their obvious age difference and their separate worlds, made her afraid she'd lose it all. Made her afraid that this, she, was only temporary for him, that she wasn't really that interesting, that she really was just a stupid kid with too much make-up on, too much time and delusions of grandeur. That she didn't factor in his decisions, that she had no power over him, whether literal or emotional. That he wasn't her friend, that he hadn't changed at all, and she was naïve not to have seen it…that despite what he'd said, he would leave as soon as he was free, or maybe sooner.

Sometimes she wonders whether Dad married Delia because he was looking for the most distracting person he could find to put their minds off of Mom leaving. Well, Delia's plenty distracting, but Beetlejuice is without a doubt the big cheese when it comes to distraction. For one thing, Delia can't make spaghetti levitate or turn her body into a carousel. And Barbara and Adam have each other, and Lydia won't be a kid forever…especially not when the Maitlands are gone for months at a time.

And then, of course, there's the new kid that's on the way, a fact that Dad and Delia had just confirmed at dinner— right before Lydia had flown into a rage at Beetlejuice, in fact. It had been why she'd summoned him in the first place, to discuss (or complain about) this piece of news. Then she'd been called a kid, and how could she be, when it wasn't her part in the family anymore? And what, anyway? Does she want to be a kid or not? When she's with Beetlejuice, she's even less sure about the answer than when she's with her parents.

"What?" Beetlejuice grouches then, making her realize she's still laughing.

She shakes her head. "I'm sorry, Beej. I'm just overreacting and…being a kid, I guess. Still."

Making one of a wide variety of mucus-y noises he's able to produce, he shrugs, scratching his moldy temple. Aww, hell, he can't stay mad at this pint-sized weirdo of a girl, no use even pretending. Pfftt, only six hundred going on seven, and already getting soft? Whatever. "So? That's what y'are. Legally until you're eighteen, and mentally a few more years besides. You're allowed."

Sighing, she nods. "Yeah, I guess. Just don't always like to be reminded of it, and then…with the stupid. Sorry about your…uh, date," she adds, choosing her words carefully.

He makes another careless, spittle-air kind of sound, then. "Don't worry 'bout her, hardly even had time to notice I was gone, and really didn't mind anymore when I came back, if y'know what I mean." He smirks, waggling his bushy eyebrows.

Lydia pulls the mandatory face; it's more than mandatory this time.

Again, he shrugs. "Think of it this way, babes…being a kid means you have more time left than all the other sorry meat bags in this place, and trust me, whether you die of natural causes or not, that waiting room at the end's a real bitch…and so's Juno when she feels like it, which in my experience is often," he says with emphasis, then clucks his tongue: "Nothing to look forward to, really…except the fact that ya can't drink yet— now that's a real shame."

She only makes a non-committal noise, doesn't want to admit (in that sulky way she can't always avoid) that she still sometimes wishes she was dead; not when she's already acted so blatantly adolescent. Also, she tries to discourage his more…colorful commentary about women whenever she can, this time by not laughing.

Tilting his head at her, he gives her that narrow-eyed grin that tells her he aims to entertain. "And, uh, hey, did I ever tell ya I actually met Cleopatra once? Dontcha think even I'd seem like a kid to that old mummy?" He chortles, briefly rubbing his own thigh in that vaguely obscene way he does sometimes. "Still, wouldn't say no to a piece of that MILF action, I gotta tell ya!"

Lydia laughs, wrinkling her nose; finally can't resist her cue when she hears it: "Eeeww, Beej…! Just eeww."

Next evening, they're sitting out on the porch of his roadhouse and watching the stars, him with a beer and her with a large mug of spicy tea (he lets her keep a stash here now, and her own clean cup, emphasis on clean), despite the hot weather.

It's funny how he can swallow beetles like they're candy yet complains when his beer's gone warm.

He's grown unusually silent all of a sudden, and she can hear the eerie Neitherworld crickets chirping, like muffled nails on blackboards. Glancing at his pasty profile, she clears her throat.


He tries to stifle a belch in order to speak, only partly successful at this. "Hmm?"

"If I marry you…" she begins, and hesitates as he immediately sits up straighter, staring at her intently.

His dark-ringed eyes shining with interest, he leans a bit closer. "…yeah?"

"If I did," she ventures, "would it count in the world of the living?"

"Huh?" He blinks, leaning further forward; she catches a whiff of a not-so-delicate odor. She'd almost forgotten about that.

"It would just be to get you out, right?" She clears her throat, leaning back. When she continues, she notices that she's rambling a little. "It wouldn't be a real marriage? I mean, if a minister here from the Neitherworld married us, it wouldn't count as a real marriage back home, right? It would only need to count in the Neitherworld, right?"

"Uh…I dunno…" he mumbles, thrown for a loop; normally he would've just said yes to trick her into doing it, but the question came so unexpectedly, and besides, this is Lyds, the only person he's not supposed to trick; not in any way that'd matter, that is, not in any way that'd harm the little chick.

"What'd happen if you got out, anyway?" Lydia asks, tilting her head at him as she clutches the big mug of now lukewarm tea in both her hands on her lap.

"You'd do that for me, babes?" he asks, either not noticing or just ignoring her question. "You'd marry me just so I'd get out?"

She fidgets. "Maybe. I mean, if you really needed me to." She worries at her lip with her teeth, looking down. "But it wouldn't count in the world of the living, right? I could still be free to marry someone else…right?"

His dead heart seems to clench at her question, and he doesn't like that fact one bit. She really is growing up, isn't she? Now that the new sprout is on the way, she seems to have turned her nose towards adulthood, like a cartoon bloodhound aiming towards their prey. She's got a long way to go and all, sure, but he doesn't like the sudden images her questions conjure up; her in a real wedding dress, her with babies, even— her not digging for bugs, her not going on adventures— her first gray hairs— gah, mortality, who needs it?

"Anyone particular in mind?" he asks, sounding more hoarse than gruff all of a sudden.

She wonders if this means he could possibly have even an ounce of the same abandonment issues about her that she's unfortunately developed about him; wonders if he's got any friends in the Neitherworld. She's met a couple of his acquaintances, such as the tenants of his roadhouse— one French ex-fitness guru with no muscles left on his bare, bare bones, and one chatty, red-headed, leggy cadaver who used to be a chatty, red-headed, leggy tap dancer— but as for actual friends…no, for all intents and purposes, Lydia Deetz seems to be it.

Her awkward silence tells him what he already kinda suspected, that she doesn't have any candidates, not right now (the kid's only fifteen, after all, but hey, he's over six hundred years old, and things used to be so different), but she still wants to be able to marry someone else someday, someone…real, to put it like that. This could mean he'd be evicted from her life later. Then again, the fact that she's even willing to consider doing this for him has to count for something. Has to count for a lot. She's a good kid.

He hopes this doesn't mean she'll have a rough time of it, out there. Hopes she hasn't developed a soft spot for lazy, manipulative trickster slobs like him. Hopes it's just him, because then she'll be fine. Also hopes it's just him because it makes him feel good about himself in a way that doesn't have to do with smug, mischievous triumph, and that's rare.

"Yeah, Lyds…you really are one of them hopeless cases." He chuckles, trying to lighten the mood, but also meaning what he said. Only this kid could feel affection for somebody like him, could want to help him.

"We'll see," she says, and he supposes they will. She's lucky, she's only fifteen. Who knows how she'll turn out? He's gonna stay the same for eternity, but with any luck, he'll at least get to see her grow up.

The End.