A/N: Here there be quite a bit of corse language. Also, slight trigger warning for somewhat graphic scene of getting beat up. Mentions of sex. I'm trying out some stuff from Pepito's point of view, tell me what you think :)
A whole week went by relatively uneventfully. Todd watched as the numbers of Pepito's followers grew to a group of five. There had been a party over the weekend that Pepito invited him to, but as usual Todd declined. He knew what went on at those kinds of parties, just a lot of booze, drugs, and sex. Oh, Todd knew that his friend had been sexually active since the age of thirteen, he suspected it was one of the ways in which Pepito got people to sign over their souls to him, by getting them involved in some satanic mating ritual or something. Todd didn't really want to know, and had picked up more hints in group conversations than he would have liked. His time at the D.H.M.I. made him generally fearful of human contact. He was only comfortable with the level of closeness he had with Pepito because they had been somewhat friends before he was committed to that place of torture.
Because of James, in that first week the popular kids labeled Todd as gay. He didn't actively try to dispel the rumors, it helped sometimes to keep them away from him. It was a little annoying, and the teasing was getting worse, but he figured if he didn't react and fended off any defensive attacks from Pepito with a smile across the room in chemistry, everything would be just fine.
Todd was the first to arrive at their usual lunchtime hangout, an old table with cuss words and inappropriate phrases carved into it so many times that it was finally dumped out by the dumpster in back of the scool. He ignored the few smokers not yet recruited by Pepito, leaning against the brick wall several feet away, staring listlessly into an overcast smoggy sky.
Zita was the first to join him, "Hey Squee, seen Pepi yet?" she asked.
Looking up, Todd pointed behind her where he could see the object of her question walking at a steady pace in their direction, followed by four others.
Reaching the table, Pepito embraced Zita in a hug, followed by a swift kiss on the cheek. Todd mentally noted that Pepito did indeed kiss friends on the cheek, but returned to his earlier confusion when Zita pulled the disguised Anti-Christ in for a proper kiss, whispering something in his ear about "later". Todd quickly focused back on his notebook, pretending to reread the story he just wrote about a boy who becomes so skinny that light bends around him, making him invisible. Of course Pepito and Zita were having casual sex every once in a while. She said as much to Todd in a highly awkward conversation a year ago where she had practically asked him if it was ok. Todd, completely embarrassed, quickly denied being anything but friends with Pepito. What was almost more embarrassing was that at the time Zita laughed it off as him just being modest, saying, "Oh, come on! How can you not be banging that?"
He almost blushed again at the memory as everyone took his or her seat around the table to chat about whatever party was going on next. Todd took notice of Pepito watching the newest member of his group, a guy named Dekker. Todd figured his friend was staking out the right time to reel in his next victim. Internally shuddering, he tuned out the conversation as best he could.
While packing up to go before the end of the lunch bell rang, Todd was surprised by an unfamiliar arm settling across his shoulders. He jumped, letting out a signature squee.
The owner of the arm, turning out to be none other than Dekker, laughed. "Now I know why they all call you Squee! Hey, what do you think about getting together sometime?" then whispering conspiratorially, "I bet I could show you a good time."
If it was at all possible, Todd shrank into himself even more, sending a nervous glance towards Pepito who no doubt heard the guy. "Um, uh…" he stammered.
Pepito disengaged his arm from around Zita to pull Todd in under his arm and away from Dekker, "Mi amigo here isn't much for partying I'm afraid," his grip around Todd's shoulders loose, "Are you Squee?"
"N-no." He managed to get out. Pepito's familiar excessive warmth was somewhat comforting, but something in the taller boy's tone sounded almost possessive, making him a little nervous. He shook that notion away as a trick of his ears. Pepito was just helping him out of a situation that he clearly didn't want to be in. It was something friends did. That's all.
With a disappointed looking smile, Dekker backed off and wandered off to whatever class he had next as the lunch bell rang.
Todd and Pepito walked silently to P.E.
The dreaded class was more torturous than usual today. They shared it with James and his football friends, and to make matters worse, the teacher announced that they were going to be playing dodge ball. Why the overweight man thought dodge ball was a good idea, Todd could not fathom. James leered at him from across the room as the teacher assigned sides.
"…James, team one. Todd, team two. Pepito, team one." He finished off.
Oh no. Oh no no no. This was bad, really, really, really bad. Todd fought back a panic attack as the class split up, noticing his side was mostly the nerds and geeks. His gaze fell back to James, who was grinning at him evilly from across the room, mouthing the word "faggot". Todd closed his eyes in fear. He was so dead.
The teacher dumped a bin of unnecessarily hard balls in the middle of the floor and blew the whistle.
The carnage began.
Todd instinctively ducked behind other students, dodging the assault. Ducking and weaving in an attempt to put more distance between himself and James, he whispered apologies at every scream that broke out as a kid in front of him was hit.
He suddenly found himself on open ground. Time seemed to pause as he swiveled to see none other that James directly across the middle line from him, the evil grin back in full force. Deciding that it was better to die facing your enemy than running and screaming like the others, Todd steeled himself for a full-powered hit to the face. He closed his eyes, clenching his fists, and waited. Instead of the brain-damaging blow he was expecting, he was knocked over and winded by the ball slamming into his side. He gasped at the blooming pain, and through the spots in his vision, saw James sprawled out on the ground with an almost equally surprised look on his face. Had someone knocked him over?
Todd didn't wait to find out as another ball sailed over his head. Scrambling up, he clenched his aching side and dodged his way over to the bleachers where most of his team were already sitting, nursing various bruises and a few bloody noses. He had seen a flash of black and red tennis shoes moving away from James. It must have been Pepito who saved him, but why? He watched the half demon gleefully slamming balls into the other kids, obviously reveling in the cries of pain and spatters of blood from noses. Not for the first time, Todd felt somewhat grateful to be friends with a creature of darkness.
Later in the changing rooms, Todd absentmindedly studied the growing grape fruit-sized bruise on his side. Noticing Pepito grinning at him from several lockers down, he quickly tugged his shirt down all the way and, closing his locker door, ducked to the water fountain for a drink to avoid recognition by James who walked by.
Pepito was waiting for him as he stepped out of the locker room and into the hallway.
"Sorry I was a little late there amigo, you ok?" genuine concern permeated his voice.
So it was Pepito who had prevented a broken nose and possible brain damage. "Thanks Pepi, I'm fine." He could not meet his friend's gaze. What had he ever done to deserve a friend like Pepito, unless of course the teen was still after his soul.
History went by uneventfully. Todd immersed himself in the incredibly flawed textbook, trying to ignore the lingering pain in his side, which flared up whenever he breathed. At least in this class the teacher never asked anyone to stand up to answer a question and he could just hide out in back under the poster declaring his textbook as the only God.
Todd knew he was in big trouble halfway through chemistry.
James was deathly silent through the entire period, and if the death glares being sent to Todd from James's girlfriend told him anything, it was that James had already created some version of P.E. class that blamed Todd for his tripping and missing the head shot.
Todd glanced at the clock, really regretting drinking so much water earlier. Squirming in his chair, he tried to focus on the equations they were supposed to be working on instead of his complaining bladder.
Five minutes passed.
A kid sitting in front of him got bored and decided to play with the sinks at the lab tables. The steady stream of water pattering at the bottom of the sink and swirling down the drain was too much. Todd raised his hand.
"Yes, Casil?" Mr. Sunburg drawled in monotone.
"Can I please have your permission to use the bathroom?" He worded his request carefully, doing his best to avoid the 'well, I sure hope you can' response some teachers thought was funny.
"Thanks." He scurried out of the room and down the hall to the freakishly filthy men's bathroom. Focusing on a few inches of clean-looking surfaces to avoid freaking out and carefully breathing through his nose, he tried not to vomit.
Stepping back out into the hall, wiping his mostly dry hands reflexively on his shirt, Todd looked up and froze. Now he really wished he had remembered to tuck a nice hardbound book in his shirt for protection. There was James, standing in the deserted hallway between him and the classroom. No escape.
"You and your creepy faggot friend thought that was funny back there in P.E. didn't you?" James cracked his knuckles, taking a step forward.
"N-no." Todd frantically shook his head, taking a step back to find himself pinned against a locker.
"Did too, you fucking whore, I'm gonna teach you a fucking lesson, you get that you fucking cocksucker?" James continued to advance until he was within punching distance. Then he struck.
Todd was knocked to the ground, the left side of his face exploding in pain, biting back a scream that he couldn't hold on to much longer as the jock proceeded to kick him hard in his already bruised ribs. Then adding new bruises to his arms and back. Another swift kick to the twice-damaged side had Todd yelling out in agony. James laughed.
"Hah, freaking pussy!"
"Didn't your mother tell you to not pick on kids smaller than you?" A familiar voice rang out close by.
Todd cracked open his right eye to see Pepito casually leaning against the lockers a few feet down the hall, face perfectly expressionless and calm. Deceptively calm, Todd noticed, as his right hand fisted behind his back was glowing with demonic energy that grew brighter every calm step Pepito took towards the bully who was recovering from his surprise.
Todd's eyes widened in fear, "P-Pepi, no…" he managed to get out weakly through the growing fog of pain.
Pepito stopped and gave Todd an unreadable look, the green glow dimmed, which is when James decided to strike.
"Fucking queers!" He yelled and swung his fist at Pepito's head.
The Anti-Christ was much too fast for the bulkier jock. With a quick side-step and a movement so fast it made Todd's head swim, he avoided James's lunge and used the bully's own momentum to drive his gut into Pepito's fist. The momentum of James's much heavier body also aided in his own defeat when Pepito grabbed his shoulders, kneed him in the groin, and sent him careening over into the lockers opposite of Todd. James slumped to the ground, moaning and clutching his crotch.
"Be thankful I didn't touch your face." Pepito stated so coldly it felt as if the room dropped in temperature, which seemed to return to normal as he turned and strode to crouch down in front of Todd, "Let's get you to the nurse."
The one eye that wasn't swollen shut widened to the point where it felt as if it might pop out of his head. Not the nurse. No doctors. Just no. Scenes from the D.H.M.I. flashed before his eyes and he shook his head, already starting to panic.
Pepito's face softened almost beyond belief, "I'm afraid you have no choice amigo."
Pepito moved out of his sight and Todd felt strong hands lifting him to his feet. A hand touched a bruise on his arm, he hissed in unexpected pain.
"It's ok." He managed to croak as Pepito maneuvered his arm over his own shoulder for support. Todd gave a small start when Pepito's hand grabbed onto the waist of his pants to help hold him up, but a quick breath reminded him that the alternative would have been too painful.
Surprisingly, the whole fight hadn't attracted any students into the hallway and it was a very quiet walk to the nurse's office. Todd shuddered involuntarily and had to use all his self-control to not ball up into a quivering mess as he passed under the sign. He closed his eyes for the transition, pretending with all his might that it was the front office and he was just going to ask for a simple Band-Aid. Just the front desk. No doctors. Just a lady with a phone and some papers. Yes.
The nurse took one look at Todd, who had opened his eyes to stare at her in plain terror, and looked back to her cosmetics magazine.
Pepito growled and with obvious restraint in his voice, said, "Then get out and let me do it."
She hesitated, looking back up, but Pepito gave her a look that Todd thought meant he was using some kind of magical persuasion, and she grabbed her magazine in a daze and walked out the door. Pepito carefully moved Todd over to one of the cots before closing the door, locking it, and pulling down the shades. He turned back to Todd with that same unreadable expression that had become increasingly common lately.
Todd squirmed a little under the intense gaze.
"I've never done this before, but I'm pretty sure I know how." Pepito leaned down in front of him.
Those were not comforting words at all, and Todd flinched violently backwards as Pepito made as if to grab his arm. The taller boy's eyes immediately took on a look of pain and worry.
"You don't trust me?" He even sounded hurt.
Todd stilled. He had never seen his friend look hurt, ever. Now he was greatly conflicted. He didn't want to cause his best friend emotional pain, but he was terrified of anything medical, including medical magic, which he assumed was what Pepito was talking about. When Pepito reached again, slower this time, Todd let him though still letting his fear show plainly.
"It's ok amigo, just a simple healing spell. It won't hurt at all, I promise."
He waited as Todd relaxed more before gently turning over his arm and running his fingers over one of the smaller bruises.
Todd watched, first in nervousness, and then in both surprise and wonder. Pepito's fingers were impossibly warm and yet they did not burn as they slid gently over the bruise, leaving a patch of perfectly healed skin in its place along with lingering warmth. He had never seen Pepito so gentle and careful in his life. As the demon's touch repaired the capillaries under his skin, Todd found himself relaxing further and his gaze traveled from the healing bruises up to Pepito's face. The look there was one of concentration, mismatched eyes closed as he felt his way over Todd's damaged arm. Todd didn't want to break his concentration, so just assumed that Pepito was somehow sensing exactly where the damage was. He continued to watch in fascination as his friend finished that arm and found the next without opening his eyes. Warmth from the boy's ministrations was the most soothing thing Todd had ever felt. When Pepito lifted his hand from Todd's arm, the human boy found himself in a sort of daze, taking hold of that incredibly warm hand and guiding it to his swollen left eye. When the hand made contact, he almost sighed in pleasure as the heat seeped through his skin and he could feel the swelling subside. When the healing there was done, Pepito's hand lifted off, but Todd could feel it hovering above his face, emanating heat. Wait. Feeling only? He opened his eyes, not remembering when he had closed them, to find Pepito's eyes still shut and that look of concentration still there. When his voice came, it sounded a bit far away.
"Squee, you need to take off your shirt."
That statement broke the calm haze in Todd's mind. He tensed again and immediately regretted it as the pain in his side and back flared up once more. Shakily, he slowly slid his shirt off as Pepito withdrew his hand and rose to scoot around behind him on the cot, eyes still closed as if respecting Todd's privacy. Once the shirt was off, he felt that warm hand settle over the bruise that had yet to fully form on his back. He again eased into a relaxed state as the half-demon rubbed heat into his skin in slow circles. Starting at the edges of the bruise and moving in, increasing in pressure very slightly in the center. Then his hand ghosted down to Todd's left side where the worst damage had been done. Pepito's fingers barely brushed over the ever-darkening area before he gasped and snatched his fingers away.
The pain in Pepito's voice was so great, Todd turned to look at him and found something that made his heart skip a beat.
Two watery mismatched orbs gazed widely into his. If they hadn't been so watery or he hadn't been so open in facial expression, Todd wouldn't have figured out in that instant the unreadable look Pepito had been giving him for a while now, possibly years, was adoration. Possibly love.
He had little time to think on this revelation before Pepito closed his eyes again and pressed his forehead to Todd's shoulder, hand moving back to heal his side.
"He fractured your rib…" was whispered so quietly he could barely make it out.
The words had far less affect on him than the way in which they were said, with such regret.
"Wasn't your fault." Whispering seemed the right thing to do.
There was no verbal response from Pepito, but he slowly shook his head against Todd's shoulder. The pressure from his fingers increased as Todd guessed he must have been healing the bone as all the pain was sweeping away in a wash of heat. Todd figured he should probably be freaking out about finding out that Pepito might have feelings for him while the two of them were locked in a room with his shirt off, but the feeling of healing was leaving him in such a daze he couldn't find the brain capacity to fret about it just then.
Slowly, as if he was reluctant to, Pepito removed his hand from Todd's side and his head from his shoulders, looking at him with that same gaze as before.
Todd, acting on an impulse, leaned in and planted a very light kiss on Pepito's cheek, feeling immediately silly afterwards with a blush creeping up into his face. Now, quite possibly the most surprising thing of all happened, a small but widening smile crept up Pepito's face, reaching all the way to his eyes. It was the most sincere smile Todd had ever seen on anyone except Rosemary. He ogled it for the split second it was there because a moment later the scool bell rang and Pepito's head whipped around to automatically look at the clock on the wall.
He stood, and when he turned around the same guarded, mischievous, and crafty smirk was plastered on his face. The sudden change had Todd reeling.
"Better get your shirt back on amigo." The voice was back to the usual teasing tone, "Don't want to get caught by a teacher like that." He paused, "Listen, I've got this thing going on tonight and I won't be home until super late, so…" he trailed off.
"Yeah, I can spend the night at my parent's house, no problem." He surprised himself with how easily he too dropped into a speech pattern that acted as if nothing had happened. As Todd slipped his shirt back on and the two of them exited the nurse's office and went their separate ways, he began to question himself.
Maybe it hadn't.
As he watched Todd shuffle around the corner of the hall, Pepito let out a long sigh. That went better than he hoped it would. The frail-looking boy always intrigued him. That first day, so long ago, he had sensed only uselessness and selfishness and a life to nowhere from every kid in that kindergarten classroom, but Todd was different. That boy oozed a kind of purity Pepito had never encountered before. There was fear too of course, so much fear and trauma rolled off the kid in waves. But that was just it. They rolled off him. At best, he could only ever get snatches, glimpses of people's souls as they walked around and almost everyone was a mash of dull gray boring energy of stupidness. What he could glimpse of Todd's was so very different. It fascinated him, this pure, glowing soul, bursting with intelligence and kindness through all the pain he suffered. Todd was the only human with a soul as pure as his own.
What started as pure curiosity, his friendship with little Squee, and a young hunger to own a soul, changed. He couldn't remember quite when it happened, but somewhere along the line he grew to sincerely care for his only true friend in the world. He liked having the other boy around, even found himself being attracted to him. It wasn't until recently he realized that he seriously liked Todd.
While driving home, he thought about how good it had felt to heal those bruises, to run his hands over the pale skin. He wanted to feel that again, feel that closeness. More. His fingers itched on the steering wheel. But he had to be so patient! The other teen was so fragile, so damaged by human touch that getting close to him and truly earning his trust seemed like an impossible task. Until today. Today Pepito felt he made a major breakthrough, getting the other boy to actually initiate physical contact at all was a feat, but he went so far as to kiss him! Pepito was internally bubbling with glee, but had to snuff down some of the excitement, remembering that he still had a long way to go if he was going to protect Todd from the bullies without being allowed to melt the flesh off their heads. Although some certainly deserved it, his little amigo didn't like it much.
He knew Zita and the others would probably be annoyed with him at the party, because this happy buzz would probably keep him from focusing on them, and he only really had wild sex to drown out loneliness anyway. He was feeling a little less lonely today.
Late that night, Todd lay wide-awake in his bed, the now silent Shmee clutched to his chest, reflecting on the day. So much happened between him and Pepito, but had it really? Could he have been reading the half-demon completely wrong the whole time? Was this just another part of a scheme to get his soul? Was Pepito really still after it? He is the Anti-Christ, it is his destiny to capture souls and bring about the end of days, when all shall die and only the faithful and good are allowed into heaven. But in that case, was he already cursed for hell? Todd was still more confused. He clutched Shmee tighter and allowed his body to flutter off into the world of horrors that plagued his dreams.