Cherubs and Monsters

October, 1984

A small figure in a wildly patterned jacket wandered the dark beaches of Santa Carla beneath a beautiful moon.

He was 5'6" of pure energy, wild and untamed. His long blond curls framed his Cherubic face, on which he wore a massive grin. His white crop-top revealed well-defined abs, and stretched across a well-muscled chest. His jacket was denim, and covered in an eclectic, colorful mix of fabrics from varying sources. A shiny earring dangled from one ear, a tiny, grinning skull on the end.

His brothers were out at the Boardwalk, but for some reason, the youth didn't feel the call of the lights and noise and excitement of the crowds. Something drew him away, into the quiet solitude of the more secluded areas of the beach.

It was a beautiful night, the sea was fairly calm, and no one was nearby. Though Santa Carla was known as 'The Murder Capitol of America' or sometimes even 'The Murder Capitol of the World' the boy had no fear, either of the darkness or of any unseen threats. The threats of Santa Carla would not touch him.

He listened to the gulls and pelicans as they sat in their roosts, watched small crabs scurry out into the moonlight, and just listened to the gently lapping waves of the sea.

It was a good night.

XXXX

The famed horror writer and scholar H.P. Lovecraft once said something to the effect of: The oldest and most powerful emotion known to man is fear. And the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown.

If Mr. Lovecraft were still alive, the boy could tell him honestly that he was wrong.

The greatest fear was the one that you knew was standing right beside you. The one that you knew was going to brutally beat you for even the slightest mistake, the smallest slip-up. The one that mocked you as it rained down blows and pain. The one that you knew was there, and would always be there. The one you could never escape, who would never let you escape.

The young blond had spent most of his sixteen years fearing the Monster currently beating him into the increasingly bloody sands of the secluded beach.

But fear was no protection against Evil.

Thankfully, it didn't hurt as badly as hope.

His golden curls were heavy with blood, his own blood.

He heard something snap, felt the pain. Another broken rib. If he lived to twenty he'd have a chest like that guy from Alien after the monster popped out like a demented Jack-in-A-Box.

At the moment, he doubted he'd live to see seventeen.

Part of him desperately hoped that he wouldn't.

The short blond curled into a fetal position in a feeble attempt to protect himself.

He was wearing a denim jacket with no shirt, leaving his muscular chest and torso bare, blue jeans and trainers, all bloody.

The Monster was screaming again, always the same things. Weak. Useless. Faggot. Ungrateful brat. Respect and Responsibility.

The boy was strong. He might even be stronger than The Monster Himself. But he could never bring himself to strike back, he could beat steroid-enhanced jocks bloody, but the creature above him had never felt his fists.

The blows stopped, and bright blue eyes opened in utter terror.

When He stopped hitting, when He stopped kicking, when He stopped screaming in rage, the Monster was at his most dangerous state.

"I'm going to drown you like the rat you are." The Monster said.

Please. He prayed to anyone who would listen, Let this be the end.

As the monster dragged his unresisting form toward the waves, he allowed himself to hope.

Maybe this would be his lucky day after all.

Maybe today would finally be the day when Billy Hargrove died.

XXXX

The Cherub-faced blond heard the shouting, screaming, more like it, from some miles away.

A man's voice. He couldn't make out the words, but the tone was ugly and full of hatred.

Screams were a common sound, and he himself was often the cause.

He wondered idly what it was? A murder? Some druggie on a bad trip?

It didn't really matter to him.

Unless it was a rape.

That s*** wasn't going to go down here. Not on his Pack's territory.

It was silent for a moment. Maybe the poor bastard had died.

And suddenly he could make out the sounds, and they chilled his cold flesh to the bone. He heard a boy, whimpering in pain, and a man... A Monster, hissing in quiet rage, "-had to leave for Hawkins, for F***** Indiana, because of your weak, worthless, faggot ass. I'm doing you a favor, really, you should thank me. How could you have come from me? Some weak, filthy little slut boy-"

"-Never be a real man! You, a weak, girlish little runt, could not have been mine. Your mother must have whored herself out!"

Another blow from the walking stick struck the boy in the face. His small, cherubic features were swollen, he thought he felt a tooth come loose. His brown eyes were wide with fear as the Monster poured himself some more whiskey.

"Honestly, had the doctor not been there, I would have strangled you at birth." His voice was becoming quieter now. It was worse when he was quiet. When he was quiet was when he'd take the boy upstairs...

He couldn't cry. If he saw him cry, it would be worse. So much worse...

"Your whore mother-"

The boy wasn't smiling anymore.

Soft brown eyes turned reddish-yellow, the cherubic face distorted into the visage of a Demon. His features twisted in unrestrained hatred, pure, unadulterated rage. His fingers turned into talons, and fangs grew within his mouth.

This Monster sounded just like his own.

Marko snarled in fury and rushed toward the sounds, faster than any mortal man could go.

XXXX

The salt water burned his wounds like fire, but he didn't care. All he cared about was escape.

Hell couldn't be as bad as this life.

The Monster stopped, looked down into those beautiful blue eyes.

Mocking him.

No.

Just a little further...

It was a joke, a cruel joke... Dear God... He wanted to give him hope, and then wrench it away.

The Monster was going to let him live...

No... Please... Do It! Kill me!

Neil Hargrove smiled, a hideous parody of affection.

Suddenly his expression changed to confusion, then terror as some power flung him backwards towards the sand, landing in a crumpled heap with a cry of surprise, and pain. Something had hurt the Monster...

"Oh, man... He really worked you over, dude..." A face appeared above him. The voice was sympathetic, but the face, the face was the face of a Demon.

And then, suddenly, it wasn't. It was just a young guy, handsome. Beautiful, if he was being honest. He had a face like those little Angels in the old paintings. Cherubs?

Was he finally dead?

Was he free?

"I'm going to get you some help, okay?" The Cherub spoke softly, kindly.

No. It wasn't Heaven, like he'd ever be allowed past the guards. He'd never get close enough to even see the Pearly Gates before they dragged him off like the trash he was...

His body was still wracked with pain. His ribs still broken, along with his right arm. He was still bloody and bruised and hurt...

Was this Hell, then?

The song came to his mind unbidden.

"So..."

The Angel looked down in curiosity.

"So... Do ya'... think ya'... c-can tell... Heaven... from Hell...? Blue Skies... From...Pain...?"

The Cherub grinned, an amazingly wide grin worthy of the Cheshire Cat himself. "So, so do you think you can tell, Heaven from Hell? Blue skies from pain? Can you tell a green field, from a cold steel rain? A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell?" The Cherub sang along, his voice was as beautiful as he was, "Wish you Were Here. You like Pink Floyd?"

Billy smiled weakly, "Good... Taste..."

He was in the Cherub's arms, and he was moving away from the sea. Away from the pain. Neil lay sprawled on the beach, his left leg twisted at a bizarre angle. He was too far to hit him now. He was safe in his Cherub's arms.

"You... an... Angel?... always... figured... I'd go... Hell."

The Cherub's eyes flashed, just for a fraction of a second, into something hellish. Then they were soft and big and brown again. But Billy wasn't scared. His Angel had a little Devil in him? Made sense. So did he, after all.

"I'm no Angel, trust me on that. And this isn't Hell. Not for you, anyway." He cast a meaningful glance towards the figure pathetically trying to get to his feet. "My name's Marko. What's yours'?"

"Billy...Billy Hargrove."

Marko somehow managed to hold his gentlest smile despite the rage that burned within him toward the Monster, toward all the Monsters of the world. Billy needed help first, once he was safe... He'd deal with the Monster.

"What... What are you?!" The Monster asked, terrified, and Marko turned, allowing his mask to fall when Billy could not see it. The Monster screamed, almost like his Monster had. All Monsters were the same. Disgusting. He shifted his features back and looked down at the injured boy in his arms. Concussion, probably. Broken ribs. Broken right arm. Sprained wrists, both of them. A nasty gash on the head. He'd have to take him to the hospital. He hated the idea of going so far from his territory, but he couldn't let Billy suffer like that. It didn't help that he was wearing a St. Christopher's medallion on a necklace, that could really hurt him of it touched his flesh.

It was blessed, too. That was even worse.

And, amazingly, he had a dangling earring in his ear, just like one of The Lost Boys. If that wasn't a sign, he didn't know what was. Human or not, this boy was practically family.

He heard a pleading voice, the Monster again, "You l-like him? You can have h-him... T-take him. Do whatever you want with him. J-just stay away from me."

For a brief moment Marko lost control, a deep growl reverberating in his chest as he whipped his head around to glare at the wounded Monster.

"I'm not here for his soul. I'm here for yours'. I'm going to drag your soul back to Hell were it belongs!" His voice was as fierce and demonic as his Vampiric features.

The Monster soiled himself, the stench heavy in the otherwise clean air.

"P-please, you c-can have him...I...Have a d-daughter t-t-oo. She's yours', both o-of t-them... if you let me l-live."

Dear God, this Monster was offering him both his children to save his own skin...

"Oh, you'll live Monster." Marko assured him with a snarl, "You'll last many nights..."

Marko gently lifted himself from the bloody sand into the air, sparing no glance for the Monster, for fear he'd lose control and attack him while Billy needed help now. And the Monster could wait. There was no one around to help him, no one to save him... Let him wallow in his fear and filth.

"We... Flyin'?"

"Yep."

"Cool."

Marko wished that Billy was aware enough to enjoy the sensation. He passed swiftly through the night, though it seemed in slow motion.

He arrived at the hospital and walked right in to the emergency room. Fortunately, public buildings did not require an invitation. After he got the nurse's attention Billy was whisked away on a gurney.

Marko realized that, no matter how much he wanted to, he could not stay.

Billy would live. He was strong. He could see his mind, his inner strength. God, the boy would make a great Vampire. But he couldn't bring himself to place that curse on another so like himself. Billy was violent, because of his pain, but he was no murderer. In fact, he was sure that Billy would die to protect others if necessary. He could not Damn this boy the way he himself had been Damned so long ago. And the memories... He'd have to live with them, with the memories of the Monster's cruelty, just as Marko had to live with his own Monster. So long dead, but still waiting for him in his nightmares.

The staff recognized him at once, every local knew The Lost Boys, but this was the first time they'd ever seen a Lost Boy trying to save a human life. As a protector rather than a predator. No one really knew what to think, how to react.

He'd have to be extra vicious for a while, to ensure that people didn't think he'd gone soft. A frightened nurse approached him with a clipboard. Questions, a statement. He wasn't going to mention the Monster, there would be no salvation for him. Marko answered a few basic questions, Billy's name, what injuries he'd observed, leaving out the Monster. He'd be dispensing justice to that trash personally. He blamed the Surf Nazis. Why not? They did beat people to injury, or even death, from time to time. When he'd said all he could, all he would, Marko turned and went back into the night.

It was time to confront the Monster.

XXXX

Billy Hargrove lay in bed, wondering. What had happened last night? That couldn't have been real. But the nurses had described the Cherub, his Cherub, Marko, almost exactly as his foggy mind could remember. But, they'd described him with fear in their eyes, as if speaking of some lurking Demon, just waiting to rip out their souls. Neil wasn't here. No one could find him. Susan and Max were in the waiting room, trying to rest after the police managed to find them at the Boardwalk.

When he'd described his Cherub to them, the cops had gone pale as well. They were afraid. They were afraid of Marko. Why? Why would everyone fear the boy who'd saved him? Who'd protected him from the Monster?

He vaguely remembered something about Pink Floyd, and Neil begging Marko to take Billy instead. But Marko already had Billy in his arms, he was taking Billy. It didn't make sense...

He hated being concussed. He liked to have a clear head at times like this. Sure, he often tried to drink away the pain, the fear that gnawed at his bones every day like scavengers at a corpse. But when it mattered, when he needed to know what was happening, he needed to be at his best. A clear mind could often save him from more pain.

He looked out the window. Santa Carla was beautiful, but there was something about it that had sent subtle signals to his mind, a sense of danger. He didn't feel that something anymore.

For the first time in far too long, he felt safe.

XXXX

Neil Hargrove lay in total darkness.

This was Hell.

It was cold and moist and he wanted to go home.

At least the Demon was gone, for now.

He'd promised pain for tonight, and as many nights as he'd last.

He spoke of a fellow Demon with a skill with blades. A Demon that could flay a man and leave him alive.

Neil lay in his own filth, unable to rise with both legs broken and both hands burned by a torch the Demon had grabbed on a whim.

I'm going to do to you what I did to my Monster. But down here, I have much more time...

He had no way of knowing that his Demon slept above with his brothers, unable to act during the day.

Why him? Billy was young, and Maxine was a virgin... But the Demon didn't want that. He had broken his right leg when he suggested it. Called him a coward. A Monster. A sick pervert.

He'd always been strict with Billy, perhaps a little too strict for those nosy fools that had called Child Services. But the boy had to learn his place.

Beneath him. Always. Beneath his fists, beneath his kicks and his hate, beneath the cold ocean water he used to torture him.

And he was going to be made to pay for every single bruise, every single blow, tenfold.

For eternity.

He lay there and stared into the darkness. He knew what he had done. And he would do it all again. This Demon had no right to judge him! They were brothers in evil! Both Demons, in different ways. Perhaps he could persuade one of the other Demons to make him like them. To torture the Damned as he had tortured his worthless son.

I would sooner burn myself alive than ally myself with a Monster like you.

He heard the Demon's enraged voice in his mind, and he began to weep.

XXXX

"And you let him live?" David was shocked. Marko had not only left a witness alive, but had saved his life.

"He was so out of it, I doubt he even remembers me."

"Max won't like this." Dwayne looked at his younger brother, "We all understand why you did it. We've all seen into the mind of that... Thing down there. I think you were right, but Max might not be so merciful."

Paul put a hand on Marko's shoulder, "Who cares? Really, when was the last time any of us cared about what Max thought? If he wants to get to Marko, or that Billy kid, he's going to have to go through me." He looked around, "Who's with me?"

"I am." Dwyane said.

"So am I." Alex, their resident Werewolf, announced. A Werewolf doesn't abandon his Pack, especially in times of danger. Even knowing that Max barely tolerated him, that he hated his kind and would happily kill him, he would not desert his Pack.

David gave an exaggerated sigh, rolling his eyes. "Okay. I'll go help."

Marko grinned widely, for all their bickering, The Lost Boys stuck together. Not even Max was going to come between them.

"We'll need at least one of us to watch and make sure Max doesn't come after Billy." Marko pointed out.

Dwayne gave a slight smile, "At least we don't have to worry about the day."

Paul chuckled, "I wouldn't mind if Max decided to get some sun."

"We'll have to work up a schedule of some kind..." David noted and they began to figure out how to approach this.

XXXX

Marko stood just outside the hospital room, while a hospital is a public place, someone's hospital room was not. He needed permission to pass the threshold. He hated that part of being a Vampire, so many restrictions...

"Are you going to come in?" Billy asked, amused.

Marko chose to answer honestly, "I have to be invited in."

Billy's bright blue eyes widened for a second.

It couldn't be, could it?

Did it even matter?

Hell no.

He went back to his casual look, gave a slight, knowing grin. "Oh. I get it." He smiled, "I'm inviting you in."

Marko walked into the room freely and went to Billy's bedside, looking at the damage.

It was pretty bad. He was little more than a lump of bruises and bandages.

"It's a mess, I know. I thought I was going to die there. And I welcomed it." Billy grinned, but there was little true joy, only dark irony, "Don't fear the Reaper."

"I've felt like that a time or two myself." He looked at this remarkable human, "So, you understand what I am?"

"Yeah. I get it. Not my place to judge, we all gotta eat, right?"

Marko gave a warm laugh. He rarely laughed with sincerity. But it felt right.

A thought struck Billy, "I hope my medallion didn't hurt you."

Marko shrugged, "I just nudged it under your jacket. It never touched my skin. And I wouldn't blame you if it did. I'm surprised that I was able to get so close to a holy symbol, though."

"That's because you're my Angel, Marko." Billy's eyes decided to betray him at that moment. A few treacherous, salty drops fell. His face flushed with embarrassment, until he looked up and saw Marko's eyes had betrayed him as well.

At that the dam broke, and they both cried, something their Monsters had never allowed, had never tolerated.

After a time the tears stopped, both boys' eyes red and puffy from crying for the first time in God-knows-how-long.

"What about... Him? He's not coming back, is he?"

"No, he's not coming back."

"Thank you. Thank you so much." Billy's gratitude was almost enough to drive all of the coldness from his his-long dead heart.

"Oh my God...You're real..." Marko spun around to see a young, red-haired girl with pig-tails standing in the doorway, "I thought Billy was crazy, talking about Angels and Cherubs..."

"Maxine, what are you doing here?"

"What do you think? I'm making sure you're not dead." She turned to Marko, looked him over appraisingly in his colorful jacket, white crop top and tight blue jeans, "Nice."

"Maxine!"

"Max. You can call me Max, everyone but Billy and Neil does." She held out her hand, and Marko shook it, she had a surprisingly strong grip.

Max... At least this Max had a warm, beating heart, and wasn't likely to hurt him or Billy.

He smiled gently, "Name's Marko."

"I know, Billy told us about how you saved him."

"Marko, this is my Step-Sister, Maxine. Ignore her, she's a nuisance." He lowered his voice to a whisper, "She doesn't know anything about Neil hurting me."

"My brothers say that about me all the time." Marko snickered and brought his hand to his face, chewing on his thumbnail. It was the most ridiculous, most adorable thing Billy or Max had ever seen.

"I like your jacket." Max hummed, looking over the wide variety of fabrics.

"Thanks, I made it myself."

"You're good at it."

"Thanks, Max."

Max's expression turned grave, "When you found Billy, did you see a tall man with black hair and a thick black moustache?"

"No. Why?"

"His name's Neil. Neil Hargrove. He's my stepfather. He didn't come back to the motel last night. After what that gang did to Billy, my mom's getting really worried. His truck is missing, too."

"No, I'm afraid not. I mean, a lot of guys who look like that come through. Do you have a photograph?"

"No, not on me. Mom might have one..."

He frowned, he was a good actor, and he knew it, "I'll keep an eye out, ask around." He looked into Billy's mind, caught up on the cover story, "Those Surf Nazis, they don't play around."

Max almost laughed, despite the situation, "Surf Nazis? What kind of brain-dead idiots call themselves Surf Nazis and think it sounds cool?"

"I never said they were smart, just mean." Marko gave a shining smile.

"When the cops said you brought Billy in, they seemed almost scared... Like you were a ghost or something."

"I have kind of have a reputation around here. Like I said, I'm no Angel, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I'm glad I was."

"So am I." Billy said, softly.

"Well, I need to go back to mom, since Billy got so beat up and Neil went missing, she's terrified that I'm going to vanish, too."

"Bye Marko, Bye Billy!" She turned, pig-tails flying and walked back out.

Billy let out a sigh of relief. "That was close."

Marko eased into a bedside chair, "So, what will you do now?"

"Hopefully move back to LA. I do not want to end up in some no-name town that probably doesn't even have indoor plumbing."

That got another set of snickers out of Marko.

"Marko."

Marko and Billy looked up to see a very thin, young teenage boy, with brown hair and eyes looking in, "Is everything alright?"

"No problems here."

The boy walked in the door, evidently he didn't share Marko's 'condition'.

"Hi, my name's Alex, you must be Billy." The boy went to extend a hand, but saw that both of Billy's wrists were injured. He pulled back awkwardly and stroked back his hair. He wasn't dressed anything like Marko, just a simple t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. His look would have screamed 'good boy' if not for the chain earring dangling in his ear, a wolf's head on the end of a chain. He was handsome, in way, but he seemed way too skinny. Billy could see past that, though. Those skinny arms were all lean muscle, and he was willing to bet that Alex was all lean muscle. He moved gracefully, like an animal in the wild. Not in the same way Marko moved, all predatory and dominant, but more subtle.

"Alex is one of my best friends, I consider him my brother, even though he's not by blood, he is by spirit." Marko threw an arm around the boy's shoulders.

" Does he...?" Billy asked.

"Yeah, he knows. He's not exactly human either."

Alex nodded, "Yeah, I'm just more... Lon Chaney than Bela Lugosi."

"Am I on the good, good stuff, or is this real?" A Vampire and a Werewolf? And no Neil? This had to be a dream.

"It's real alright." Marko reached into his jacket and pulled out a small tape player, then a cassette.

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd.

Billy blushed, "Wait, I actually did sing to you..."

"Yeah." Marko handed over the tape player and cassette, and pulled another from his jacket.

Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon, both Pink Floyd.

Marko looked at the cassettes, "I like 'Brain Damage' myself, what about you?"

"'Brain Damage' is cool. I prefer 'Another Brick in the Wall', though." Billy grinned, "I'm a bit anti-establishment."

"Our brother Paul loves 'Comfortably Numb'." Alex added, "Because that's the usual state he's in..."

More laughter, even though it hurt Billy, with his broken ribs.

Billy looked at Alex, "What about you?"

"I like Southern rock and Country, Creedence, Skynyrd, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton etc..., I'm from Georgia, originally. But I also like The Doors, The Stones, Bobby Womack, Billy Idol a wide range, you know. A little of everything. "

"Like Corey Hart, Cindy Lauper, Phil Collins..." Marko listed off mockingly.

Alex smirked, "You have no right to judge me, I know you sneak off to listen to Sonny and Cher!"

Marko gave a fake show of outrage, "That was supposed to be a secret you mutt!"

"What was that, Snickers?" Alex asked in false innocence.

"Johnny Cash is good, and Bobby Womack, he's incredible. He's pretty much the father of Soul." Billy grinned, "But the Johnny Cash part doesn't leave this room. I can't have people thinking I'm into Country Music.""

'Which one first?" Marko held up both cassettes.

"Wish You Were Here, of course."

"Of course."

XXXX

His Angel, his Cherub, was a Vampire.

Billy didn't care one bit.

Marko had saved him from the hell that had been his life. Regardless of what else he might be, he was Billy's hero.

It made sense now. They'd only seen each other at night, his power in tossing Neil around, the flying... He had been certain that had been a dream, but it wasn't. Marko had actually flown his sorry ass from the beach to the hospital. And he'd promised to do it at least once more before Billy left.

That also meant that Neil... Neil was either dead, or dying. And from the look on Marko's face when he'd confronted him at the beach, he was certain Neil wasn't going gently into that dark night. Marko wasn't just his Guardian Angel, he was his Avenging Angel. He'd promised to drag Neil screaming into Hell, and Billy had no doubt he meant every word.

But someone had hurt Marko. Someone had hurt his Guardian Angel. A Monster, like Neil. Billy could see the pain in Marko's eyes, familiar pain. Behind that big, playful smile he was hurting. Billy felt helpless at that, his Cherub was suffering, and he could do nothing.

He should have felt something for Neil. Grief, pity, sadness... After all, for all of his faults, Neil had been his biological father, a terrible, vicious parody of a father, of a man, but still... A human being. Yet, all he felt was relief. God, or Satan, only knew what kind of suffering Neil was enduring, but Billy couldn't find the compassion, the love that should have been there for a son to feel towards his father. He was probably in some kind of mental shock, Vampires, Werewolves, a whole new world existed that he'd never suspected, he'd been beaten almost to death, again, nearly drowned, a first, and was saved by an Angelic Vampire.

His world would never be the same, and he was grateful for it.

XXXX

Over the next few days, Billy met all of The Lost Boys, as they called themselves. They were a cool group. Paul was funny, with a serious side, and loved to talk at length about music and pot, it was almost impossible not to like the man. Paul was the youngest of the Vampires, having been born in 1946. (Alex was the youngest out of them all, having been born in 1964.) He was hurt too, deeply so. There were far, far too many Monsters in this world. One of his friends back in LA liked to joke that there were 'Too many people, and not enough man-eating predators'. He wondered if he'd be happy knowing that at least one species of such predators existed here.

Dwyane was quiet at first, but once he opened up they were able to talk about things most people didn't get or bother to think about, things about nature, history and life in general. Billy wondered how he'd gotten so intelligent about everything without attending a day of school in his life, but Dwyane had told him, that, once Max had taught him to read, he couldn't be stopped. And he'd learned by experience and observation, he'd actually lived through some of that history, he'd fought against white settlers and soldiers, he'd seen, and fought in, several famous battles. He was the most interesting person Billy had ever met.

David was harder to pin down. He was dangerous, just one look at him was enough to tell that, but he was smart, in a cunning, devious way. He was the oldest of the boys, the leader, outside of their Master, Max, who no one seemed to want to talk much about, except to say that he was once a good Master, but he'd been losing his marbles over the past few decades. David was an obvious Alpha type, but not overbearing, hypermasculine or cruel like Neil. He was happy with himself and accepting of the differences in others. He was far more of a man than Neil or his buddies could ever imagine being.

Alex was the one he could talk mechanics with, everything from antique motorcycle restoration to clockwork to muscle cars. He wasn't as aggressive, or as open about his status with The Lost Boys as the others, nor was he out to prove how masculine he was by intimidating people or hurting others. But he was always willing to talk shop and trade tips. He also appreciated music and old movies, and was full of trivia. He was a bit of a geek, but a good guy nonetheless.

Marko... Marko was so many things. Behind that Angelic face and cocky demeanor was a keen mind and wicked sense of humor, a prankster, a fighter, a thinker and a dangerous predator. Most of all, though, he'd been through something like Billy had, but even worse. He was someone who could understand where Billy was coming from, why he seemed like an evil a**hole. He was a little crazy, and definitely not an Angel, but he was still Billy's Cherub. The one that had saved his life and freed him from the Monster that had ruled him with fear and pain for so long. Sadly, it seemed Marko's own Monster refused to die, hiding in his mind like the coward all Monsters were, waiting to strike. Billy desperately wished he knew some way to help, but he didn't, even Dwayne hadn't been able to root the Monster out, but he was sure that psychology would improve with time, and they'd be able to find a way to stop the Monster for good.

Max. Billy only met him once. The entire gang had tried to block him from the corridor, and warned Billy not to invite him into the room. He did anyway, not because he wanted too, but because he was afraid the elder Vampire might do something to hurt the boys, or Maxine or Susan. He was polite, but gave off an air of menace and arrogance. They talked about turning, and Billy was flattered, he really was, but he still had unfinished business to work out in LA, and he couldn't just strand Susan and Maxine in Santa Carla. Besides that, Billy might be a bully, but he wasn't a killer. While he respected that Vampires had to kill to live, he couldn't accept a life that depended on him killing other people. Max had accepted that, and explained that he was welcome to come back once he'd finished what he needed to do. He hadn't been as bad as Billy expected, though he certainly wasn't ready to trust him yet.

The almost constant presence of the gang unnerved the hospital staff, terrified some, even. With the exception of Alex, all the boys inspired fear among the locals, and he'd been given whispered warnings about Vampires by at least six nurses and one doctor. Despite what Max (the Vampire, not his stepsister) might have thought, his big secret was apparently known by the entire town. And they all looked the other way, including the police, which was very convenient for the Pack. The locals didn't seem to know about Max being a Vampire, just a businessman, and they all considered Alex a 'nice boy' with a bad crowd, the kind Billy would usually bully at school. In fact, if they'd met under different circumstances, Billy would have probably stuffed him into a locker. Or tried to, anyway. The locals apparently had no idea that he was a Werewolf. Several nights during his stay Billy had heard mournful howling, attributed to a creature they called The Lonely Wolf for it's sad, lonesome howls. Alex had openly admitted it was him, letting loose his frustration and sadness at the fact that he was the only Werewolf he knew of in Santa Carla, and that he hadn't seen another of his kind since his Pack was murdered years before. He knew others existed, but for all intents and purposes, they might as well be on the moon.

Alex was also the only one other than Marko that Max and Susan actually trusted, probably because he was so clean cut and polite. A street rat, (or Wolf), who acted like a Boy Scout. Billy wondered how he'd become so charming after living on the streets for years and then bunking with a Pack of crazy Vampires who couldn't even spell 'etiquette', (except Dwyane, who preferred not to conform with such things anyway.). A Werewolf street kid turned nerd who ran with a Vampire biker gang while helping little old ladies cross the street and saying 'please' and 'thank you' without having to be told to just wasn't natural.

But, even with all the new friends he'd made, Billy knew he'd be leaving the hospital, and Santa Carla as soon as he was healed up. He was honestly intent on coming back when everything was set up back home.

XXXX

"What the Hell's going on, Billy?"

Billy rolled his eyes, "Language, Maxine."

Max Mayfield crossed her arms and planted her feet, "I'm not an idiot, Billy. I know what gang bangers look like."

"Good for you, you'll know what to look out for."

"Why is there always a Lost Boy here? Even after visiting hours? And who was that tall, nerdy guy they were trying to keep out of your room?"

Billy closed his eyes and took a deep breath, despite the pain in his ribs. If he said the wrong thing, she'd latch on like a leech until she found something out.

"They just want to make sure I'm okay. The Lost Boys and the Surf Nazis have a lot of bad blood between them."

"And they think the... God, it's such a stupid name, Surf Nazis, are going to break in here and kill you?"

"I think maybe at first. But they're all great guys, and they're fun to hang out with."

"Most of the people in the hospital have been telling me that they haven't aged since the 1960's. Or longer. That people who wander off into the dark with them either never come back or are found dead, and they do only come out after dark, don't think I haven't noticed."

"Aw, you do care."

"I don't want you getting all of us in some kind of freaky gang war!" She huffed angrily, "Do you know what people say about them?"

"I've had dozens of whackos trying to tell me that they're Vampires, Max. If you ask me, the people in Santa Carla are nuts. There's no such thing as Vampires, Maxine, outside of cheesy movies and books for geeky, loser virgins with blood fetishes and no actual lives."

"Then why don't they come out during the day?"

Billy laughed, a mistake, as his ribs flared with pain, he shook it off. "Alex comes during the day."

"Yeah, but he's the only one."

"Did you stop to think the others might have day jobs?" He moved his unbroken arm toward his chest, pointing at the medallion, "St. Christopher, Patron Saint of Travelers. My mom had it blessed by a priest... Do you really think, that if Marko were a Vampire, he could have carried me here with this?"

Max wavered a bit, the argument made sense, if the legends were true.

"How did he carry your heavy ass all the way here?"

"He's strong Maxine. You check out his muscles every time he comes by! He's short, but he's ripped."

Max blushed, but recovered quickly. "And the nerdy guy?"

"His name's Max. Maxwell Ward. He's some big shot businessman, owns a few stores and he's on the Chamber of Commerce. They don't get along because he thinks they give the town a bad name."

"Besides 'Murder Capitol of the World', you mean?"

"It's not their fault if the cops can't do their job right."

"You can say that again. I don't think they're even looking for Neil!"

Because they know they won't find him.

"You were at the Boardwalk. You saw all the Missing Posters. This place is worse than The Bermuda Triangle."

"I met some interesting guys on the Boardwalk. Total nerds, but they made a lot of sense. They said that The Lost Boys are Vampires, and that they're responsible for almost all of those missing posters."

"And you believe them? Really Max, I thought you were smarter than that. Now get out, I want to try to get some sleep."

She went to leave, then turned to look back at her stepbrother, "I really hope you know what you're getting into."

XXXX

Shortly after being released from the hospital, much to the relief of the staff, who didn't want the boys hanging around, Billy was washing his Camaro when a deep red 1940 Indian Chief motorcycle with black trim and an attached sidecar rode into the parking lot.

They admired each other's rides for a few moments before Alex handed his keys to Billy and stepped into the sidecar.

"So, Billy, wanna' go for a ride?"

Billy grinned.

Susan and Max were off trying to find Neil, (not gonna happen), and he'd stayed behind, citing not wanting to deal with anymore cops. The boys had offered to show him a little of the real Santa Carla, and he'd agreed. He climbed onto the crimson chassis and took off for the Boardwalk. The old bike was a bit hard to maneuver, and she wasn't as fast as the newer ones, but she had character and style.

It was near dusk, and the boys would be coming out soon.

The walked idly around the Boardwalk for a few minutes, with most people either ignoring them, (or pretending to), or avoiding them like the Plague. They passed a comic shop with a couple of little middle schoolers trying to warn Billy about the Vampires, (or S***-Suckers, as they called them). The boys, the Frog brothers, (Alan and Edgar), seemed to know Alex pretty well, and he dutifully took a free copy of some comic called 'Vampire Everywhere!", which the brothers said would explain how to spot Vampires, and how to kill them. They also warned him to avoid The Lost Boys. Apparently these little kids were the only ones in this town with the balls to call the Vampires out. Billy admired that. They were still total dorks, though. Must have been the nerds Max was talking about warning her about The Lost Boys.

"How do they not know you're with them?"

"I don't come to the Boardwalk that much, outside of the comic shop, I don't dress or act like they do, besides the earring, and I'm usually at home asleep when they're here. Of course, the Frogs don't trust anyone, even each other. I've seen Edgar holding a cross up at Alan more than once, thinking he might have turned in the time it took him to get a hotdog... They're good kids, they just have bad parents and too much time on their hands." Alex explained, "Their folks are stoners, half the time they forget they even have kids. I'm glad they don't beat them, but they could at least pay them attention, you know?" He stopped dead in his tracks, "Uh, Billy. You know how to fight, right?"

"Of course! Do you?"

"When you look like I do you have to be able to defend yourself."

He directed Billy's view to a group of mean-looking punks glaring at them, "Surf Nazis. They like to harass strangers, and they know I work with the boys. They see me and Marko as the weakest, and they'd love to take one of us down."

"S***" Billy muttered, "How many do you see?"

"Six." He looked at Billy, "And you're still hurt! Want me to take them?"

Billy gave a cruel smirk, "Hell no! I can defend myself against punks like these. Six to two, that's hardly a fair fight. Even with me down an arm, we'll still kick their asses. Maybe we should give them time to call some friends?"

"Marko will kill me if I let you get hurt!"

"Nobody lets me get hurt, Alex. I dish out the hurt."

Alex grinned wolfishly, "Okay, but I'd rather finish it quickly. The boys will be here soon, and we have a lot to do."

Several of the self-proclaimed Surf Nazis walked up to the boys.

"Well, what do we have here? Got a new boyfriend, Alice?"

Billy grinned, this was going to be fun, "My name's Billy Hargrove, bitch. I've kicked the asses of punks twice as bad as you in LA, and if you don't want to be eating through a straw for a month, you'll go hide back in whatever hole you slithered out from."

The punk swung, and Billy let it hit. He grinned and wiped a little blood from the corner of his mouth, "First blow. Pathetic, but self defense now. Your ass is grass."

The Lost Boys arrived a few moments later to find over half a dozen Surf Nazis sprawled across the Boardwalk, bloody and beaten. Alex and Billy standing triumphant above them, with the latter motioning to several others to come try their luck.

David clapped, "Good job, guys. I'm impressed."

Billy smirked, a cocky smirk, this time. "Those guys were nothing. The only shot any of them got in was the one I let them get."

"Self defense. Good thinking." Dwayne laughed.

Paul and Marko whooped and hollered as the Surf Nazis who could ran away, carting off their less mobile friends and shouting curses and threats behind them.

There were several security guards nearby, but none of them approached, merely working to hold back curious onlookers.

Billy turned to his companion, "I have to hand it to you, Alex. When I first saw you, I could tell you were strong, but you didn't strike me as much of a fighter. Much less as a street fighter. And fighting dirty... All this time I was thinking you were a Boy Scout."

Alex shrugged, "Like I said, I had to learn to fight to survive. I don't like it, but I'm not about to let some idiot clobber me or my friends."

"Walk softly and carry a big stick, huh?"

Marko snickered into his hand, "And he does have a big stick, believe me, I've seen it."

Alex turned red and shook his head as they all laughed, "I get no respect. No respect I tell ya'."

XXXX

It was like nothing Billy had ever felt before. The only solid object nearby was Marko's body, to which he was clinging unapologetically. Hey, if he had to hug another guy to experience flying, especially his own Guardian Angel, that was fine by him. Especially if that guy was Marko. He could see the Boardwalk beneath them, even the Ferris Wheel had been left behind. The ocean stretched out into the horizon on one side, and Santa Carla and the cities beyond on the other.

It was the most incredible thing he'd ever seen. The most awesome thing he'd ever experienced.

"Hey, Billy. Enjoy the view?" Marko asked.

"There are no words, man. None at all."

"It's just like in Peter Pan!" Paul shouted, "All it takes is Faith and Trust and Angel Dust!"

"I think that's supposed to be 'Pixie Dust.'"

"Not if you want to fly!"

Marko laughed, and Billy joined in. Soon the sky was full of laughter.

They flew along the beach, passing over bonfires and people making out, none of whom could could figure out where the cat-calls and whistling were coming from.

They finally arrived at an old hotel, almost entirely sunken beneath the sand. Billy had never seen anything like it. They rocked out to Metallica, RATT, and other select choices from Paul's collection. Along with a select few cigarettes that weren't tobacco, but helped lighten the mood further, also courtesy of Paul.

It was a great night.

It was also a great mercy that he had no idea what lay far beneath his feet.

He'd never know what really became of Neil Hargrove.

XXXX

He could hear music again. At least, that's what they called it.

Were he capable he'd kill them all.

But he wasn't capable.

He couldn't even move, now.

The Demons had done their work well. The first one, the small Demon the others called Marko, had brought his Demonic friends down for some 'fun'. Unsurprisingly, these 'friends' knew Billy somehow. Had the little bastard conjured them himself? Apparently the little faggot was having the time of his life without Neil there to keep him straight.

He cursed that boy to Hell. This was his fault, Neil had merely punished him, as a father should. Disrespectful, lazy, foul-mouthed little faggot had it coming.

His hate was the only thing keeping him from succumbing to madness. The pain was unbearable, the things they did, unspeakable. Even the Viet-Kong wouldn't have sunk so low. At least Charlie was human, after all.

Marko had said the next time he saw him would be the last, that he would 'unman' him and watch him bleed out. He understood the Demon far too well to think that meant anything other than taking his manhood as a final insult.

This Marko Demon seemed to hate men, Real Men.

Men like Neil.

Marko was certainly a faggot, with that hair and those clothes, his body small and effeminate, he might as well be standing on a street corner, selling himself as a male whore. Someone like that would hate and fear a Real Man... But he'd called Neil a pervert when he offered to let him have his way with Billy in exchange for his life... Had he really...? But, he would have enjoyed it, that's all those freaks think about, their perverted sex. Billy probably gave the Demon his body freely. And Max... Dear God, Max! He'd offered his little girl... What kind of man would do such things?

No man, no Real Man, would cower behind his children, offer their bodies to Demons' perversions in exchange for his own life.

Marko had no need to unman him.

Neil had surrendered his manhood freely on the beach that night.

Neil felt tears running down his face. He, a Real Man, had begged a faggot for mercy. He'd offered him his own son for sex. His own little girl... He'd cried and wept and screamed like a woman, wept harder and screamed louder than Billy ever had...

His fag son was more of a Man than he was.

The darkness started closing in as his mind began to shatter under the realization that he wasn't a Real Man at all.

XXXX

They never found Neil.

They found his truck in the water just off a cliff near the edge of town, no body. They figured he'd got swept out to sea after the crash. They were actually pretty happy to find the truck, so they could avoid having to think about any possible involvement of The Lost Boys. Night, an unfamiliar road, a cliff... It all made sense.

A lot more sense than Teenage Vampire Biker Gangs...

Max (his Max, Maxine) didn't buy it. Billy was sure of that. But she couldn't prove anything beyond that Marko had saved Billy and that the boys were strangely protective of him.

Susan didn't want to stay in Santa Carla much longer. Any longer, actually. He liked to imagine that she was as happy as he was Neil was gone, but no one was as happy as he was about Neil's 'disappearance'. With Nowhere, Indiana off the table, they'd decided to go back to LA.

Thank God for that.

It wasn't all that far a drive from Santa Carla, and all his old friends were waiting for him at home. With Neil dead... Er, missing. Lost at Sea via truck or whatever, he didn't have to worry about being beaten within an inch of his life, at least, not without being able to actually fight back, anyway.

It was hard, saying goodbye to the boys. Hopefully, once he got a job, or at least graduated with job prospects, he could move to Santa Carla. At least part-time. The boys were all sad to see him go, and he knew that they'd leave a hole inside of him until he could come back. They each gave him different gifts, a nice antique pocket watch from Dwayne, Tapes and records from Paul, a gold dollar from the 1800's from Alex and a charm for his earring from Marko, a little gold shark.

It was all unnecessary, and Max would question why a gang was giving her step-brother gifts, Susan being too distracted to care. He wondered how Max would react if she knew the truth. Of course, she already knew the truth, she just didn't know the Frog geeks were right. Would she be interested in learning about them, or would she pull out the stakes and holy water? It was hard to tell, she seemed like the type to fling herself into danger one way or another. He thought about how he treated her, he was mean, rude and typically avoided her. He hoped that was Neil's influence, and not something broken inside himself. He'd rather die than be like Neil.

Maybe he could be a little nicer to the red-headed stepchild. After all, if a Vampire can be an Angel, Billy could shake off Neil's twisted legacy, right? He laughed at the thought as the Camaro hit the highway, leading the rental van towards home.

Yeah, maybe he could be somebody's Angel.

Foul-mouthed, mean, scarred inside and out from a lifetime of fear and pain.

An Angel with a little Devil in him.

Just like Marko.

XXXX

"So, we consign the body and soul of the Monster Neil Hargrove to Hell or whatever, Amen."

Marko kicked the body into a massive rift caused by the earthquake way back in 1906. He and Paul gave mocking little waves as it tumbled out of sight.

"He's all yours', Satan. Don't do anything I wouldn't do..." Marko laughed, "That was fun, while it lasted."

"It would last longer if you'd wait before ripping off their-"

"It's no fun if they're too far gone to feel it."

David looked down into the pit, "You, Marko, are a sick, psychotic bastard. We're lucky to have you."

Marko swiped at a fake tear, "That's the second nicest thing anyone's ever told me."

No one had to ask what the first was. Surprisingly, beyond demanding a medal for his act of public service, Marko hadn't bragged about what had happened. He was actually someone's hero. He was a villain, a monster, a killer Vampire. But around Billy, he could almost believe he was something more.

Billy had promised to write to their post office box, (None of them trusted Max, {Maxwell, not Maxine} with their mail, when they had need of any), and tell them how he was doing in LA. Marko had asked for a postcard of the Le Brea Tar Pits. Or maybe a book from their museum... Nothing expensive, of course, just something informational.

As Marko went to sleep that morning, he slept well, a genuine smile on his Cherubic face.

The End?

XXXX

Notes-

Billy Hargrove, Neil Hargrove, Susan Mayfield-Hargrove and Max Mayfield all come from the TV series Stranger Things. Everyone else is from The Lost Boys except for Alex Winther, who is my own creation.

I use the term 'Faggot' a lot in this story, because in the 1980's that was the general term (at least where I lived), though it was still mainly a slur. My family and I considered it a 'curse word', not to be used. 'Homosexual' was just a fancy term mostly used by the media and educated folks. 'Gay' or 'Queer' were the more common, acceptable terms for polite people. Neil is not a good person, and he hates Billy regardless of what he does or who he loves. He simply enjoys hurting him, he's a sadist. Is Billy gay? I think so. From the way he interacted with Steve Harrington, (when he wasn't beating him up), he was clearly flirting with him. Especially in the basketball/school shower scenes.

Billy is very OOC here. He probably would have tried to save Neil, even after everything, between Stockholm Syndrome and the fact that Neil is his father. He couldn't here, because of his concussion he wasn't fully aware of what was going on and later he assumed Neil was dead. He's also not as angry or belligerent here. I think his rage in canon was due to being afraid and helpless against Neil, and he took it out on others. He was badly in need of mental help, which wasn't that easy to come by in the '80's even if Neil had cared enough to try and help him. Despite the things he did pre-Season 3, he was clearly horrified by the awful things The Mind Flayer made him do after he was possessed, and I believe he would never have deliberately killed anyone given the choice. That's one reason why he didn't become a Vampire, Marko didn't want him to become as corrupted as he was. He saw himself in Billy, and saw a chance for a life that he no longer had. A better life. A life without blood-stained hands.

Pink Floyd is awesome.

Bobby Womack is the father of Soul, and one of the greatest musicians of all time. He may be gone, but he left his mark on music forever.

Don't Fear the Reaper is a song by the band Blue Oyster Cult.

Snickers is Marko's nickname, for obvious reasons.

I had this idea writing my story The Lost Wolf, about a young, orphaned Werewolf named Alex Winther. (No, I didn't name him after Alex Winter, but a Norwegian actor named Allan Winther, whom I used for his face-claim) who lives with The Lost Boys, protecting them during the day.

In the story, Marko had an extremely abusive father as a child, ran away as a teenager and came back as a Vampire to repay dear old dad. I call him 'The boy' in flashbacks because Alex Winter said that Marko isn't his birth name, and I don't presume to give him one. He threw his name away, not wanting anything of his father's. Sadly, he has PTSD and sometimes thinks back to who he used to be, disassociating and having panic attacks, flashbacks, lashing out, etc... I thought, What if one short, curly haired blond with an abusive father met and saved another short, curly haired blond with an abusive father?

And so Lost Boy Marko met Billy Hargrove.

Since Billy never went to Hawkins, something else happened in Seasons 2 and 3. The world was saved without Billy dying. Maybe the Mind Flayer took Troy Walsh... That kid is one of the worst villains in the entire show. He tried to force Mike to kill himself while holding Dustin at knifepoint. He's truly sick. Or Ozerov, the Russian military creep who had Steve tortured. Or Nancy Wheeler, who also tortured Steve, in a different way. It was most certainly not my beautiful freckle-faced Angel Tommy H.

'His Angel had a little Devil in him? Made sense. So did he, after all.'

Billy doesn't panic about Marko because he sees him as his savior, and he doesn't care if his savior is a Vampire because anyone who would help him has to be a Saint. A short blond Cherub who likes Pink Floyd, crop tops and crazy patchwork jackets.

"I get no respect, no respect I tell ya'." Is one of the more famous bits by '80's comedian Rodney Dangerfield.

Marko usually hates being called an Angel, or a Cherub, etc... He doesn't like not being seen as or respected as the dangerous predator he is. But Billy really means it, he's not just talking about his appearance like he was a doll or something. Billy sees him as his Cherub. His Guardian Angel. Marko's never been anyone's hero, in life or undeath, especially someone so much like he himself was. It makes him genuinely happy that Billy won't have to suffer like he did, and that he, a monster, a Demon to most, was able to do something good for someone.

Angel Dust, is, of course, the nickname of an illegal drug, PCP, Phencyclidine. It's a dangerous hallucinagenic, and I wouldn't recommend taking such a thing. As the late First Lady Nancy Reagan said: "Just Say No to Drugs".

Charlie is a nickname/slur the soldiers in Vietnam gave to the North Vietnamese, probably after the popular Chinese character Detective Charlie Chan, who was in a number of movies, books, etc... He was a stereotypical character, of course, but he was a good guy, a hero, and that was a big step up from the popular Chinese villains like Fu Manchu and the Yellow Claw.

I have nothing against those who served in the Vietnam War. My father was there as well, and it was... It can't properly be explained by someone like me, who has never been in a situation even remotely similar. All I can say is that is was horrible for all involved. Neil isn't evil because he's a Veteran, he's evil because that's just who Neil Hargrove is. He's a sadist, probably a sociopath. Marko and the others, were they human, could be called the same.

Is there some spark between Marko and Billy? Maybe, it's up to you to decide.