Payback's a Bitch



Justin arrived early at the Munchers' on Halloween, but he didn’t go inside. Instead, he concealed himself behind a bush near the porch. Worst case scenario, he’d waste his time and get a little bit cold; best case scenario, his research would pay off and he’d head off another Halloween horror like last year. He figured it was worth a try. Last Halloween had been just too damned freaky.

After his conversation with Emmett, Justin had done some thinking. The image of that little green face in the corner of his photo of Brian at the supermarket kept tugging at his mind. Eventually, he’d taken to the internet to see what he could find out about goblins or pixies or any other kind of little green men who might take to playing Halloween tricks. He found lots of material. Most of it sounded totally far-fetched and made him feel ridiculous for even looking. But something had made Brian behave like a complete schizo last Halloween and it was just too much of a coincidence that it had happened right around the time their friends were playing that lame game. There had to be more to it than Emmett and the gang playing stupid “let’s pretend” games. The game might have shaped the forms that Brian’s behavior took but something (or someone) else must have intervened to jerk his partner round like a fucking puppet responding to the suggestions made in the game, and Justin didn’t think it was the power of Deb’s puttanesca.

His research had led him to think that the fucking goblin in the photo must have had something to do with it, and that, if the fucking thing didn’t feel he’d had his fill of jollies that he was likely to come back to play some more.

Well, it was welcome to try.

But if it thought it was going to play a return date fucking with Brian’s head while he stood by and watched, it had another think coming.

Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed; and Justin had come armed. This time he was determined to turn the tables. This time that gremlin was going to be sorry it had ever come near Brian Kinney.

All Justin had to do was wait for it to show.

But as it turned out he didn’t have to wait very long. Apparently the goblin was as anxious not to miss Brian as Justin had been not to miss the goblin. He’d only been waiting for around 15 minutes when he saw its pointy ears twitching just the other side of the bush he was hiding behind.

Now he’d find out if his research had paid off.

Grasping the recommended iron chains in his hands, Justin pounced. He cast a loop of chain out in front of the bush, then pulled it tight. There was a startled squawk and a volley of what sounded like furious cursing as the goblin was hauled into view. Before it could do more than struggle feebly against the chain, Justin had snapped an iron collar around its neck.

It screamed, a thin piercing sound that hurt Justin's ears in a strange way as if the sound carried across more than one dimension.

He took a deep breath and said the words that he'd found in an old book.

"As icy north wind, the iron is fierce,
If thou playest false your heart it will pierce
As love and death, the iron is strong,
Before it's removed thou must swear no wrong
Or harm will ever come to me or mine
Through any thought or deed of thou or thine
And thou will'st do my bidding right
In all things till the stroke of deep midnight."

The creature squealed something that might have been assent, but Justin, though he was genuinely sorry to see it truly suffered, held firm.

"Swearest thou by thy name?"

"I swear! I swear!"

"By your name!"

"I swear by my name, Otiloksar!"

There was a kind of swirling then and for a moment, a shimmering mist bound the two of them. Then it dissipated, but Justin knew somehow that it was safe now to loose the iron collar and the chains.

The creature sank to the ground, weak, almost fainting.

"What do you want?" it hissed petulantly.

Justin pulled a plastic flask out of his bag and held it out.

The creature eyed it warily.

"No tricks," Justin reassured it. "It's just hot milk with cinnamon and a little whiskey. It should make you feel better."

The creature snatched it and drank greedily. Almost at once it seemed to recover its vigor, just like all his research had suggested.

"What do you want?" it asked again, and Justin could see it trying to find a way to twist anything he might say.

"I have your name," he reminded it.

It huffed. "Fine. Let's get this over with then. You've got till midnight. What do you want?"

"Let's take a little walk," Justin said. "We can't really talk here."

So they walked together down the street to the little park and sat on the wooden bench and as they did, Justin began to explain what he wanted.

"Do you remember last Halloween?" he asked. "How you played some kind of trick on my partner?"

"He kicked me," the creature whined. "He said bad words to me."

"So you thought you'd pay him back. Well, now it's my turn. I want some payback too. Do you remember what you did?"

The creature giggled, and Justin suspected it might be the slightest bit tiddly from the whiskey.

"They were playing a game, and I just … helped things along."

"And he behaved like a lunatic, and I was scared out of my mind. And hurt. And angry."

The goblin eyed him warily.

"Oh, not at you. Well, yes, at you. But not mainly at you. Mainly I'm angry at our so called friends who just … think they're so smart and so funny to sit around dissing Brian all night because they've got nothing better to do."

He shot a sideways glance at the goblin. "You should be mad at them too. If they hadn't played their little game, I wouldn't have got mad enough to work out how to trap you into helping me get back at them. You wouldn't have been sitting here with me, you could have just been out enjoying Halloween doing whatever it is you do."

The creature pouted. It was true. Those stupid humans. He could just have made the tall man trip and tear his fancy pants or something. It was all those humans' fault he was sitting here, bound. He wouldn't mind getting back at them at all.

"So," said Justin. "We're going to play a little game of our own. Just for a couple of hours. Which should mean that you've finished well before midnight and if it all goes well, I'll free you once it's done. Okay?"

The creature peered at him and then nodded.

"But just a reminder," said Justin. "Three things. One is that nothing is to happen to my partner. The second is that no permanent damage is to happen to any of my friends. They are "mine", my friends and kin."

He looked at the creature sternly. It huffed, but nodded.

"The third," Justin said, "is that I have your name. And I will use it to bring dire consequences upon you if you try to trick me or go back on our bargain."

Again the creature huffed.

"Okay, then," said Justin. "Here's what I want you to do."



Ten minutes later Justin rang the bell at the Munchers' house. Mel answered the door, clutching JR a little awkwardly.

"Sorry if I'm late," Justin said brightly. "I got held up. Are you ready for your night out?"

"Well, I'm ready," Mel said, "but Lindsay's gone out of her mind."

"Mel, will you get your ass up here and help me find the fucking vest?" Lindsay hollered down the stairs, sounding a lot less politely WASP than usual.

Mel thrust the baby at him and ran to the stairs. She passed Gus as he barreled down them.

"Jus'in! Jus'in!" the little boy called excitedly. "Are you gonna take us Trickertreatin'?"

"I am," Justin answered firmly. "Your Daddy and I are both taking you. He'll be here any minute."

He'd better be, Justin thought. If he isn't that damned goblin might get some extra instructions.

But the doorbell rang just then, and Justin, relieved, admitted his not exactly ecstatic but apparently resigned, partner.

Truth to tell, Brian figured that he'd done okay out of the plan he'd concocted with his devious little shit of a partner. Instead of having to go to the GLC's damned Dinner and Halloween Ball, he'd agreed to take the kids trick or treating and then babysit them till the girls got home. He figured the kids would be out like a light by 8. 8.30 at the latest. So that meant he only had to face a couple of hours of purgatory instead of a whole night – 5 -6 hours at least – of the excruciating Hell of a GLC sit down dinner and costume ball. He even came out of it looking like the good guy because he'd paid for the whole fucking table so everyone else could go and then had "volunteered" to stay with the kids so Linds and Mel could have a night out. It was a bonus that after the kids went to bed he and Sunshine could make use of the Munchers' couch in ways that would probably give Mel nightmares for weeks. It was all good.

His thoughts on how to best wear the kids out so they'd be ready for bed early were interrupted by the Melanie's voice, sounding slightly strange, "Hey, I didn't know you'd arrived."

She seemed to be dressed like some kind of street kid and for once actually sounded almost fucking glad to see him. She slithered down the last few steps on the stairs in a way that was presumably meant to look sexy and then moved towards him, rubbing herself against him in a way that would have been disturbing from any of his friends, but from Mel was just … wrong.

"When are you going to ditch the blond," she purred at him, "and give me a try. You'll be surprised how good I can be."

"What the fuck! Get away from that asshole and behave yourself."

An almost unrecognizable Lindsay came down the stairs. She was wearing navy leisure pants, a white t-shirt with 'My pussy eats shrimp like you for breakfast' inked on it and over that a vest. The vest had a number of badges and buttons which seem to have been covered with bright yellow tape and on them were written various slogans which would definitely cause a stir later at the GLC. But they weren't the cause of Brian's eyes widening and Mel's look of disgust. Those were due to the weird wig Lindsay was wearing. It looked as if someone had taken a long dark wig, hacked at it till it was sticking out in all directions and then dyed it red with some kind of paint.

Justin after one glimpse had to stifle a smirk. Looked like his plan was working alright.

The two women bickered a little more before heading out to the car, Mel being forcibly dragged away from one last would-be seductive slither against Brian.

Brian turned his eyes to Justin and managed to stifle the "what the fuck?" on his lips in deference to the two kids who were looking up at him uncertainly.

"Mommy and Momma didn't say goodbye," Gus said a little sadly.

"I guess they were excited to be going to their party," Justin said quickly. "And we should be going too. We don't want people to run out of candy before we get there."

Just the thought of that sent Gus scurrying for his coat, and it was only another 15 minutes or so before both kids were bundled up in coats and costumes and ready to hit the streets.



Meanwhile, across town …

"Emmett, you must have something I can wear. My hair's a mess, I just can't go wearing this stupid super hero costume. I need something with … well, a little class."

Emmett gaped at Michael who had turned up on his doorstep a few minutes ago demanding help with his costume for the dinner and ball that was about to start any time now.

"Perhaps a blond wig. What do you think? And maybe a nice evening gown? Surely you have something I can wear."

Emmett had no idea why Michael had suddenly developed the yen to go in drag or why he'd left it so late, but he supposed he could help. His own costume had been surprisingly easy. He'd had all the stuff in his wardrobe from his "see the light" days, and had just needed to pull it out and give it a quick run over with the iron. Of course button down shirts took a little time to make sure that they were pressed properly, but at least he'd been able to borrow some hair gel from Carl that had his hair sitting nice and smoothly. It might be a costume ball, but really he thought it was more important to dress well at these affairs. He was relieved that he'd been able to find the Placido Domingo Sings Broadway cd in Deb's collection as well. They could listen to that in the car on the way there. It wasn't opera, but at least it would be nice and soothing, listening to that glorious voice.

So he took Michael into the bedroom, and had found a suitable dress that wasn't too long on Michael and shoes and even tights and was helping him fix his wig when Hunter appeared in the doorway. He was wearing some kind of red feather boa that Emmett thought he might have seen in Debbie's room at some point with a pink satin shirt and what looked like violet leggings.

"Oh, Hunter, really! Not red and pink together," Michael said before Emmett could get any words out.

"Oh, pish!" Hunter responded. "I like to add a little color to people's drab lives. If it's too bright for them they can wear shades."

"Michael! Hunter!" Ben's voice calling up the stairs had much more of an edge to it than any of them were used to. "Come on, we're going to be late. Only assholes like Brian fucking Kinney think it's smart to be tardy to these affairs."

"Take it easy, Ben," they heard Debbie advise. "It will all be the same in a hundred years. Just relax and enjoy the anticipation."

Hunter left the bedroom, having managed to snag a bottle of cerise nail polish from Emmett's dresser that he was painting on as he moved downstairs, and Emmett managed to do a quick makeup job on Michael that he thought would just have to do, although he couldn't seem to find anything that would hide that five o'clock shadow.

The blond wig looked effective though, and Michael actually seemed taller as he finally went down to join an increasingly agitated Ben.

"How do I look?" Michael simpered from the bottom step. Ben huffed and said, "Fine."

Then he stopped and gave Michael a smoldering look. "Hot, actually," he said. Michael gave a silvery and very un-Michael laugh. Ben smiled at him, and pushed his hand back through the hair that had been gelled into spikes on top and coaxed forward around his cheekbones.

Michael fluttered his false eyelashes at him and Ben took his hand.

"Hunter, you can ride with Carl and Deb."

As they walked out, Ben said, "Let's try to have tonight to ourselves without the kid."

They heard again that silvery laugh from Michael in response.

Hunter huffed and tossed his head. "I guess my light just shines too bright for them.

Deb smiled tolerantly and straightened the black scholar's gown Ben had brought for her to borrow as she picked up her coat.

"Well, I guess we can go if everyone's ready. Or would anyone like a cup of herbal tea before we leave?"

Nobody seemed keen on that offer so they were all ready to go when Ted's car pulled up.

He stumbled up the steps and greeted them with "Did I miss Michael?"

"Yes, Ted," Deb said quietly. "He's just left. Can I help at all?"

Ted sighed. "I don't think so." He scratched his head. "I was hoping he could maybe open the shop for me. That maybe he'd have something there I could wear. I could only find one costume place open and they didn't have any comic book characters left. Not even Batman and they always have heaps of Batman."

He looked truly dejected.

"You are just so lucky," Hunter told him happily. "Michael was already wearing his Captain Astro costume when he changed his mind and headed right on over to Emmett to help him find something more swishy to wear tonight. It must still be up in Emmett's room."

"I'll make that herbal tea while we wait," Deb said.

It was another fifteen minutes before they all headed out, Carl at least having a lot to think about.



All through the evening, Justin was fielding various text messages.

'Emmett kept singing in this really weird voice in the car.'

'Ted looks so funny in those tights. It's like he's never worn them before in his life and doesn't know how to adjust himself.'

'I think Lindsay's had a little too much to drink. She's swearing like a sailor and honestly, that outfit!'

'I can't believe Emmett came to this thing dressed as some kind of businessman. Well, I guess for Emmett that is a costume, but he looks so strange in it.'

'I hope Hunter's just experimenting. It's all very well to dress up for one night, but he needs to start thinking seriously about his future.'

At around 10, pleading the need for a little fresh air after a particularly vigorous fuck in front of the girls' faux-fireplace, Justin, leaving Brian to check on the kids and make coffee, pulled on his coat and walked down to the park.

The goblin appeared almost immediately.

It was grinning.

Justin grinned back at him.

They high-fived wordlessly, then Justin said formally.

"Reminding you of the conditions of your name-bonding, that no harm comes to me or mine through deed or thought of thee or thine, I now release you. Go. Have a good time. Happy Halloween."

The goblin grinned at him once more and threw something in the air just before he vanished.

The thing spun, glittering in the filtered light of stars and moon and the occasional street lamp.

Justin reached out his hand and the thing fell into it.

It was a shiny silver coin. On one side was a goblin's head. On the other swirling script which spiraled round from the outside edge to the very center and read "You have dealt well with us. Keep this safe and it will bring you and yours good fortune and protection."

With a huff of something that might have been relief, Justin pocketed the talisman, tucking it away securely into his wallet. He'd find a safer spot for it tomorrow.

For tonight, Brian would be getting impatient. Smiling his best Sunshine smile, he hurried back to the Munchers' house.



Next morning, later than usual perhaps, everyone met in the diner. There were strange stories about the various costumes everyone had chosen – mostly at the very last minute. And how halfway through the evening it was like they'd all suddenly realized how really inappropriate some of the costumes were.

"So we kind of swapped things around a little," Emmett explained.

"No harm done," Ben agreed.

"It would have been hot if you'd been there," Hunter leered at Brian. "You could have helped me change."

"I suppose you both had an enjoyable evening," Carl said quietly.

"Very, thank you," Justin said demurely.

Brian stuck his tongue in his cheek and grinned at Mel. "You want to hear about it?" he asked.

She waved him off. "I don't even want to think about it. We're having the whole place steam cleaned as soon as possible."

"Well, if there are any cum stains the best thing to get rid of them is …"

"Debbie!" Lindsay protested, putting her hands over JR's ears.

Brian laughed. And if Justin looked a little flushed as well as a little smug, that was probably to do with the fact that Brian's hand seemed to have disappeared under the table in his direction.

Only Carl wondered.

But he figured it was too far-fetched.

And anyway, no harm had been done.

In fact, they'd all had a very happy Halloween.

None of them knew at the time of course, but thanks to Justin's coin (and his fair dealing with the eldest child of the Goblin King), they would have many, many more of them.

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