The weeks had come and gone. It had taken that long for Mimipede to attempt sewing together a small sack for Oogie's new bugs to live in. It wasn't pretty, or very tightly sewn, but it was better than nothing. The potion had taken longer than expected to be ready, and of course even the anticipated completion date had been for ingredients, not the whole shebang. But finally, finally it was done. They had to wait until midnight to take the potion, in the moonlight, but they waited.
"You don't really think one measly hour is gonna make a difference," Oogie drawled.
"I don't know," Mimipede growled back, "but I'm not taking that chance!"
"Ugh, fine, fine," Oogie grumbled. "You could at least use the time to work on my poor, under-inflated body…"
"It's fine," Mimipede snapped. "You'll have a body, be happy with that!" Sewing with just his mouth and awkward insect legs was excruciatingly long and tedious. The smaller insects were just mindless drones that were of only some help sewing, and Oogie couldn't possess them at the moment.
"But I don't even have legs really! Or arms!" Oogie protested.
"You have a body! And the corners are long enough to move around as you need to!"
"You could've at least paid someone to make somethin' better…" Oogie continued to complain.
"With what money?"
"I don't know! Scare some, scam some, gamblin'! I could'a helped you with that!"
"Yeah, no," Mimipede snarked. They'd tried that, and Oogie couldn't just scare a scam into his gambling in actual public, or with Mimipede's body.
"Even one of the kids could'a done better," Oogie griped.
"I'm not going back to those cretins," Mimipede hissed. "You can in your own body!"
"I'm tellin ya, it could'a been just fine—"
"It was not going to be fine!" Mimipede interrupted. "It is not fine!" It hadn't been since they'd been stuck together!
Oogie was quiet a moment. "… Well, this stinking potion should fix it up, finally," he muttered.
Mimipede sighed and nodded.
It was strange talking like this in one body, but they'd gotten used to it. Far too used to it.
"… Mims?" Oogie finally said.
"Is it time yet?"
Mimipede rolled his eyes with a heavy sigh. "No, Oogie, it's—"
Looking at the moon, though, it was nearly time.
Oogie seemed to get the notion as well, for they both got antsy and excited, moving their feet in unison and fidgeting. Finally, what felt like forever later, but was really not terribly long at all, they drank the potion.
It tasted awkward and nasty, to both of them, but they choked it down. And waited. And waited.
"Those lyin', two-faced—" Oogie started, but was cut off with an explosion of itchiness in the throat, in the limbs, everywhere under the exoskeleton. They twitched and groaned in unison and in fighting contrasts, falling to the ground and flailing to get up, fall again, writhe on the ground… A splitting headache followed, they yelled, and soon they could literally feel themselves being torn apart. It was awful and liberating at the same time, but the liberation felt fleeting and minuscule in brief spurts between howls of suffocating agony.
Finally, with a last throe and twitch, Oogie's shadow tore from Mimipede's body with a shout, and staggeringly fell onto the bag of bugs waiting for him not two feet away. The bugs screamed, and then lay quiet. Mimipede breathed heavily.
Slowly, eventually, Mimipede reared up into a more normal standing position. He looked at Oogie, who had done the same. Oogie looked… oddly adorable as a small sack with nubby appendages. But the main thing that both of them noticed was the quiet.
They couldn't hear each other's thoughts. They could see each other, outside of the body. It had worked.
They let out a yell of excitement, and rose higher in the same moment, movements still synched from the past few months. But they didn't care, they were free.
"I've got my body again!" Oogie yelled. It was less deep, and the shift gave him pause for a moment.
"And I'm on my own again!" Mimipede grinned. "No more 'gabmlin urges', or stories of your revenges, or memories of—"
"No more whinin' and complainin' from you even when you're quiet!" Oogie returned, grinning as well. "No more mutterin and—"
"Oh you're one to talk about muttering!" Mimipede laughed.
"As I should!" Oogie continued, folding his arms as much as he could. "Now you better get on makin' me a better body!"
"Me?" Mimipede countered. "You're the one with hands!"
"Have you seen these?" Oogie held up his mitt-like hands.
"And you've had to deal with these," Mimipede growled, rolling his legs and getting more in Oogie's face.
Oogie glared at Mimipede a few moments, then sighed. "Alright, alright; but I expect you to help me out here, I'm not at what I could be."
Mimipede drew back and narrowed his eyes a bit.
"First thing's first," Oogie said, "we're gonna have a frighteningly fantabulous time gettin revenge on that bonehead and his gal. So while you're in town gettin' information—"
"Woah woah woah," Mimipede stopped him. " 'We'?"
Oogie gave him a look. "Yes, we."
"I don't remember agreeing to this."
"We've been thinkin 'bout- For months-" He remembered the animosity Mimipede felt about those tangents. "...Well you're workin for me, remember?"
"Only for that one job," Mimipede muttered. "And it failed. Miserably."
"And you back-stabbed me!"
"You back-stabbed me too, you know!"
"You did it first!"
"Well I don't want to be the one pointing fingers, Mims, because you ain't got no fingers in the first place, but even if you are upset, you should be upset at that Jack Skellington!"
"What?" Mimipede retorted.
"Yes! Jack did this to us!" Oogie continued.
"I don't— Jack wasn't the one who tried to take over my body!" Mimipede snapped, getting in Oogie's face.
"W-well," Oogie tried to put up a brave face. "I was dyin'! What was I supposed to do!"
"Not kick me out of my body!" Mimipede said.
"Well I didn't!" Oogie pointed out. "I just tried to!"
"Ugh!" Mimipede turned and started leaving.
"You know I stopped!" Oogie called after him, following. "And we worked it out!"
"After we argued for hours!" Mimipede returned. "And you still wouldn't let me do things for days! We've been at each other's throats in the same body for months!"
"We had rough patches!"
"Why would I help you!"
"Cause Jack done messed you up!"
Mimipede turned on Oogie, fangs bared. "Jack didn't bathe me in acid."
Oogie was quiet. "… Right. Well…"
"You were just trying to save yourself, I know," Mimipede sneered.
"Yeah, well, wouldn't you?!" Oogie accused. "You did, I saw you, tryin' ta hide out away from everythin. You did same as I did, just with a body! And I've been in your head, bud! Griping is all you ever do! Do somethin' with it for once!"
Mimipede glared at Oogie, then exhaled. "I can help get you more insects, but that's it, Oogie. I'm not carrying you around, doing your bidding, working for you—"
"Alright, alriiiight!" Oogie said, waving a stunted arm with a smile. "Of cooouuurrrsee—"
"So I'm leaving," Mimipede interrupted, and skulked away into the night.
Well, tried to. He got as far as some trees a few yards away when he almost ran into someone. Mimipede avoided and hissed at the figure, who he then saw was Demise. Mimipede blinked, then narrowed his eyes. "What do you want?"
"It's nearing time," Demise said calmly.
Mimipede could hardly believe it. Weeks, months had passed, and Demise hadn't so much as glanced his way. Now, suddenly, he was expected to just go back to work? At the drop of a hat? Right after getting away from Oogie?
"No," Mimipede growled.
"I'm sorry?" Demise asked.
"No," Mimipede repeated. "I have been stuck with Oogie Boogie sharing my body and mind space for months, without so much as a 'are you still alive' from you! After nearly getting killed back at the treehouse! Meanwhile, you disappear and just decide to show up when it's convenient for you, now, right after I just get my body back!"
Demise seemed unruffled from the rant. "So I take it things did not go well with the Boogie Man."
"No, they did not!"
"And, because of this, you think you can just crawl off and not deal with life anymore?"
"I certainly don't need to keep listening to idiots who think they're too good to do any of their own work!" Mimipede said.
Demise looked at him, quiet, lips a tight line.
Mimipede realized he'd said to much, but it was said, and he wasn't in a mood to retract anything.
Demise wanted to snap at him, snap him; he had a schedule to run and Mimipede was making things more difficult. He sighed and rubbed his eyes for a moment. "Fine," he muttered.
"... What?" Mimipede asked, tense and wary.
"Alright," Demise said, voice done with the discussion. "Let's leave." He started walking off.
Mimipede squinted after him before carefully following. "What do you mean?"
"Get you out of here," Demise said as if it were obvious. "Since you clearly won't be any more help."
Mimipede stopped. "I'm not going anywhere with you." He didn't know the reaper's whole plan, but he knew that Demise didn't take anything sitting down.
"I'm just getting you to the Doors," Demise snipped.
Mimipede knew the way, hesitated to follow. Demise had to be planning something. But it had happened so quickly, so smoothly... maybe he did just want Mimipede out of the area? He jumped when Pariah cawed behind him.
"You haven't even backstabbed me, Mimipede," Demise said, voice more relaxed. "Stop acting so on edge."
"Fat chance," Mimipede muttered, but he did start walking again. He hadn't sold Demise out to anyone, or changed the plans more than they were going to already. They came to the edge of the lake.
Demise looked around at the water's edge, as if getting his bearings. The moonlight shimmered off the lake, reflecting off Demise's white bones beneath his guise as well. "The Doors are... East?"
Mimipede came a little closer and looked around as well. The outcropping above the water gave a good vantage point, but it unnerved him almost more than the reaper beside him. "Northeast..."
"You know," Demise began, "When I gave you this life, I only asked you to help me."
Mimipede couldn't tell what undertone the reaper had, and he tensed. "... Yeah. And I did."
"... Then I'll help you," Demise said. Mimipede sensed the danger and tried to back away, but before he could move a curved dagger sliced off two of his legs on one side.
Mimipede cried out and tried to fall back, but the sharp karambit went around his side and pulled him towards Demise and the water, roughly, the point breaking into his exoskeleton.
Demise looked at him while Mimipede yelled in pain and writhed; Demise's hair that usually covered half his face brushed back with the sudden movements and his two stacked red eyes glowed brightly at Mimipede.
"I'll help you leave this life."
Mimipede tried to bite the horrifying face, even as it flashed to a skeleton with fangs almost as large as his own, elongated bones feline-esque but too large. But then Mimipede was tossed over Demise's head, held with the knife digging into him, and then released and thrown into the lake, the blade ripping more breaks in his exoskeleton. Mimipede screeched as he bled, cracked, lost legs and any sensation but pain. Then he hit the water. More cracks, more pain, more flailing. Water entered his mouth and wounds, and he tried frantically to swim.
Demise watched from the land. His face had its facade over the bones again, but he now wore a long, thin grin. Green blood dripped from his weapon, and he watched Mimipede struggle in the water. He knew Mimipede couldn't swim, not at that depth. And certainly not that injured. With that much blood coming out, he was also sure one of the lake's creatures would finish things up sooner or later.
Mimipede thrashed and yelled when he could, though it was a gurgling, half drowned sound. Demise chuckled, and eventually shook the blood from the karambit with one swift shake.
"You didn't want to be here anyway..."
He sheathed the weapon, then stood more relaxed, continuing to watch. Mimipede tried to swim, bled, drank and breathed in water. Mimipede's efforts kept him above water less and less, until his head no longer resurfaced. Bubbles no longer came up. A few smooth shapes dented the surface of the water from below curiously, before delving deeper. They stayed below as well. Demise waited a little longer, then left.
Even when he was on a schedule, he always had time to watch a good death.
Oogie was running as fast as his stupid little gloriously his own legs could take him. But that oaf Mimipede had made that difficult. Of course, now the bug was- dead, probably. Oogie had heard the gurgling and thrashing behind him. He wasn't going to stick around, though. He-
He tripped and splayed across the ground. A stitch came loose and some bugs flew out. Oogie gasped and tried to recollect his bugs.
A bird cawed on a tree behind him. Oogie jumped, and tried to hide the loosened seam. He glared at the bird. "Scram!" he tried to yell. His voice was much less impressive right now, but he tried to imbue it with as much of a scare as he could.
The bird flew off the branch, but only went to another tree. The four red eyes only served to aggravate Oogie more. He waved a single arm. "Go away!"
"He troubling you?" Demise sat on a nearby tree stump.
Oogie whirled to face the reaper. He'd seen a few memories in Mim's head, gotten the gist of bad vibes and overarching schemes. But mostly he knew the creature had destroyed Mimipede just now without issue or apparent reason, and Oogie didn't stand a chance in this body.
"O-oh!" Oogie tried to recover. "H-hello there! What was your name? I'm afraid I didn't catch it before- before I- left, you see, as I was-"
"My name is Demise." He stood.
Oogie relaxed a little and laughed. "Ooh, haha, you- yes, your name is Demise... What- What a name... Good to meet you."
"My raven's name is Pariah," Demise said as he walked closer. "He likes eating insects."
Oogie deflated some, paling under the fabric. He held his seams closer. "I-I see..."
Demise smiled, amused. "Only the ones skittering along the ground. Out in the open. Sometimes he'll dig a little for them." Demise stopped, looking down at Oogie. "Shouldn't be a worry, should it?"
Oogie looked warily at Pariah, who watched him curiously. Oogie didn't like it.
"Well... As long as he doesn't just- go at people..."
"Of course not," Demise said, still smiling.
Oogie glimpsed some of the green blood on Demise's cloak, and shifted uncomfortably.
"Now," Demise continued, "I thought I heard you wanting to get back at a certain skeleton in town? Jack, was it?"
Oogie perked up. "Yes? Yes. Jack Skellington. He's-"
"A bother," Demise finished, then raised an eyebrow.
Oogie relaxed a bit, and nodded with a fist clenched. "That's one way to put it."
Demise smiled, a thin line over his face. "I think I can help you, as I need him distracted for a time..."
Oogie slowly grinned and rubbed his hands together. "Oh really now?"
"Of course, the method would be up to you," Demise continued. "And I don't care what happens."
"I do, but I also know what I'm gonna do to that bonehead," Oogie said.
Demise shrugged. "We have a deal?"
Oogie paused. "... You gotta help me get a better body."
Demise glanced Oogie over, then shrugged. "I can help you get what you need."