The Sweetest Dish

by Angela

 

Note: There are references to material that do not belong to myself or Tricia, such as Harry Potter, Dukes of Hazard, and Princess Bride. No offence is intended. Have a sense of humor.

*****

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

– some wise guy who probably was a Slytherin in an alternate universe.

*****

Black rubbed his eyes. He had been going over mission logs for several hours now and his eyes were getting tired. He had to find a way to make the team better. Nevermind that they were feared on the streets, nevermind they were the boogiemen of Juxtapose City’s underground. They had to improve.

Black lifted his arms over his head, stretching his back. Dear God, that felt good! He had been hunched over for way too long. He groaned, then settled back into his chair and opened his eyes.

He blinked.

*This is not the tactics room.*

Black sat up quickly in his chair, turning his head to look at the room. Gone was the familiar table with computers and large plasma screen. Instead, the room was white. The walls, the floor, the ceiling, the door, even the chair and table he sat at. It looked like a blizzard. The corners were crisp, the walls empty of ornaments or mirrors. Unless there was a camera or mic built into the furniture, which there always could be, it didn’t look like he was being watched.

Black promptly checked the furniture. No mic or camera. He stood up and walked to the door, moving cautiously to stay aware of his environment. The walls did not attack him. He reached the door and carefully placed a hand against it, to see if it was hot or trapped. Again, nothing happened. He took hold of the knob and gently turned it. The door was unlocked so he carefully pushed it open, never in his life wishing for a gun more than he did now.

*****

“Somebody get the number of that craft,” Calyx grumbled, carefully rubbing his hands over his eyes. There he was, minding his own business, staring at the ceiling and thinking of new and interesting ways to seduce Black, and this brilliant flash came from no where and seared his eyes. Needless to say, his excitement had calmed considerably and his eyes hurt like hell.

After a moment, the pain went away and Calyx opened his eyes. The room was white, white walls, white ceiling… well, you get the idea. Calyx sat up quickly, his eyes darting about him. “Where the hell am I?” he wondered aloud but, of course, no one answered. He climbed off the bed he was on and headed for the door. He gingerly tested the doorknob and, finding it safe, opened it.

The hallway before him was decorated in various earth tones. The walls were a warm caramel color and the doors down the hall were dark as rich coffee. A nook in the wall about five feet from Calyx held a polished mirror with a small table the same dark color as the doors. A basket overflowing with cream, white, and yellow flowers rested on the table. Beside the nook stood a familiar golden-haired figure.

“Fancy meeting you here, sweetheart,” Calyx purred.

“Calyx,” Caled greeted with a slight nod. “Where are we?”

“Funny, I was about to ask you the same thing.” Calyx leaned against the doorway, his haltertop riding over to reveal a smooth expanse of stomach.

The man’s eyes roamed over the empath, taking in the skin Calyx had knowingly exposed. “Where are Hades and Black?”

Calyx frowned. He had briefly forgotten about his handsome leader and little Doe-Eyes. He opened his mouth to reply when a door to his right opened and Calyx turned…

…and was swept away by the clearest, most beautiful blue eyes imaginable.

*****

*I must be in Hell,* John thought. He stared up at a blank ceiling, unsure exactly what had awoken him. He raised his head, glancing around one very white room that was very unfamiliar. He dropped his head back down onto the cot he was lying on. “First, there was Benji. Then came Finn. Now white rooms. Its getting that a guy can’t even drink himself into a stupor without some kind of interruption,” John mumbled.

He climbed to his feet, weaving in a woozy manner as the room spun slightly. He wasn’t sure how long it had been since he had passed out, but it apparently wasn’t long enough. He stumbled to the door and leaned against the frame, wishing he had his gun, though he knew he would probably just shoot himself with it. He threw the door open and looked around.

John’s first impression was that he was in some psycho hotel with strange white rooms. The hallway definitely looked like it belonged into a hotel. He then quickly noticed the other two occupants of the hall. The man on the left was dressed in worn jeans and a loose teal shirt that was very striking against his tanned skin, dark hair and chocolate eyes. The one on the right had black hair that spilled like oil over his shoulders and wide gray eyes so pale they looked like polished silver. He was dressed in a very old English style, including a cloak, and in complete black. John spared a glance for the sweatpants and wifebeater he wore. Figures he looked like a slob.

“What are you two doing here?” John asked.

“A better question would be ‘Where the hell are we?’” Black said.

John looked around. “Good point,” he replied.

“There is a door at the end of the hall,” Hadrian said, pointing. “Perhaps someone down there can help us.”

*****

Finnian glanced between the two much larger men in front of him. He was created to be loved and was used to the looks that he received because of his beauty. However, the absolutely gobsmacked _expression on the faces of both blondes was absolutely hilarious to the redhead. He threw his head back and laughed.

Finn’s laughter seemed to snap the two out of their daze. Caled narrowed his eyes at Finn as Calyx chuckled. “Well, you are a lovely surprise, angel,” Calyx said.


“Good seeing you, too, Calyx,” Finn replied, smiling.


“Now that you’ve finished laughing, do either of you have any idea where we might be?” Caled asked.

“Not a clue,” Calyx replied. “One moment, I was minding my own business, daydreaming, and the next I was here.”

“Me, too,” Finn said. “I was on my way home from work when there was a bright light and I was suddenly in that room.” Finn looked beyond the two towards the end of the hall. “But the hallway isn’t giving us any answers and that door looks promising.”

Both Caled and Calyx glanced behind them. There was, indeed, another door that stood by its lonesome at the end of the hall, looking inconspicuous and innocent. “Well,” Calyx shrugged, pushing off from the wall, “there’s no time like the present.” He took off down the hall. Finn and Caled followed him. Calyx reached the door and pulled it open.

Through one door stood Calyx, framed on either side by Caled and Finnian. In the other was Black with Hadrian and John. A large oval room stood between them.

“Darkness!”

“Hades!”

“Daddy!”

Everyone glanced at the redhead. “What?” Finn asked.

The room they had all entered was quite large, decorated similarly to the halls. A large oval table with six chairs stood in the center of the room and the wall opposite of them housed a large plasma screen TV. Everyone filed in.

“Did we miss something?” Finn wondered aloud, looking around the room.

“This was the only door out of our hall,” Black replied.

“Ours as well,” Caled said.

Just then, the plasma screen blinked on. A woman in glasses with black hair and gray eyes was on the screen. “Hello, boys,” she said happily. “Please sit down.”

No one moved. “Who are you?” Calyx said.

“All will be revealed. Sit down. The chairs are quite comfortable,” she answered, grinning at them. Finn shrugged and gracefully fell into a chair. Seeing that he didn’t blow up or die, everyone else took a seat. “Good, good,” the woman said. “Well, hello everyone. My name is Angela. I trust you all have had opportunity to meet?” Her words were greeted with silence. “Well,” she continued, “for those who don’t know, I’m one of the readers on Tricia’s Juxtapose Fantasy site.” There was an audible groan from everyone in the room. Angela’s smile softened. “I take it the site is familiar to you.”

“I remember you,” Caled said. “You’re the one that made Hades get possessed by a ghost.”

“And wrote that awful poem about… whatever it was about,” John muttered.

“In fact, weren’t you the one who made Starr and myself have sex in the snow *in my head*,” Black said, his eyes narrowing. Calyx mouthed ‘thank-you’ to the screen.

Angela’s eyes darted around the room nervously. “Uh, well, that’s beside the point.” She cleared her throat. “Anyways, I’m sure you are all too familiar with some of the things Tricia writes for you.” There were collective shudders and moans around the room. Angela looked sympathetic. “Well, myself and the readers of the site have decided that something needs to be done.”

“Oh God, this isn’t some stupid Mystery Science Theatre thing like the poor Harry Potter guys get, is it?” Black asked.

“Nope,” Angela said cheerfully. “Besides, some of those are really funny. No, we are giving you the opportunity to get even with the people who have hurt you.”

“Tricia?” everyone chorused.

Angela looked a bit disturbed. “Uh, no. We like Tricia. Besides, if you tortured her, who would write all those steamy sex scenes?”

Caled looked thoughtful. “True.”

“She also gave you guys ice cream in the anthology,” Finn pointed out, turning to Calyx.

John rolled his eyes. “Is that all you think about?” he said.

Finn licked his lips. “Of course not, Daddy.”

“Hey, don’t knock ice cream,” Calyx said, pointing at John. “It’s quite possibly the most wonderful food in the world if you know how to eat it.”

“Back on topic, boys,” Angela said, raising an eyebrow. “I’m talking about the people who *really* hurt you.” The screen she was on split in half. She remained on the left while a picture of Abylon appeared on the right. “Now, this is the kind of person I’m talking about. Not this,” the picture flipped to a dark haired woman sitting at a computer, smiling for the camera, “this,” the picture flipped back to Abylon. “Any questions?”

“How do you define ‘get even’?” Calyx asked.

The slow grin that spread over Angela’s face was purely malicious. “Oh well, you know, the usual. Bamboo sliver under the fingernails, hot needles through the soles of the feet.”

“Um, that’s a little disturbing,” Finn said, huddling in on himself.

Angela sighed. “Oh, well, if you’re squeamish I suppose a simple hack and slash with a dull knife will work too.”

“Excuse me,” Calyx interrupted, “but the asylum called. They’re looking for their favorite psycho.”

Angela shrugged. “Call me crazy,” she said, “but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to pay back the people who hurt you, without repercussions might I add. Do what you want. I’ll just leave you alone with the contestants to decide. Touch the screen to pick a person.” Angela’s face blinked out and the screen split into eight sections. Everyone peered carefully at the screen. One by one, faces began to appear in the sections, causing various people to gasp or cringe. Their choices were Kragen and Illeana, Abylon, all three members of the Consortium, Dickerson, Jack, Sin and Malice, Sola, and Gavedon.

“Why is Dickerson up there?” Black asked. Everyone glanced at him.

“Sweetheart, if you don’t know by now that Captain Dick is a bad guy, you haven’t been paying attention. My rape at his hands should have been enough of a clue,” Calyx said.

“The man sells his body to Dickerson to keep his men safe and he still can’t believe the asshole should be branded with hot irons,” John said, shaking his head.

“Beaten to death at the very least,” Caled agreed.

“And that just for cheating on his wife, the woman you call your mother,” Finn added.

“Yes, why don’t we start with the illustrious Carl Dickerson?” Calyx purred as he rose out of the chair and moved to the plasma screen. He touched the stern face of the police captain and that section enlarged, engulfing the entire screen.

“Captain Carl Dickerson of Juxtapose City,” a pleasant, computerized female voice said as the words she spoke appeared beside the picture of the man. “Accused of: Raping Agent Calyx Starr, Plotting for Reasons Unknown against Lt. Black, Blackmailing Agent Calyx Starr, Blackmailing Lt. Black, Cheating on his Wonderful Wife, Coercing Lt. Black into Situations Unknown but Definitely Bad, Being a General Asshole. Recommended Punishment?”

There was a brief silence. “Did it leave anything out?” Hadrian asked.

Calyx looked thoughtful. “No, it seems to be pretty thorough.” He turned back to the screen. “So, uh, computer…” he looked at everyone else. “I feel like a bad Star Trek rerun.” He turned back. “How does this work?”

Angela’s face appeared on the screen. “I knew you’d go through with it,” she said smugly. “Now, here’s what you do: you have to come up with an appropriate and horrifyingly awful punishment for each bad guy. You can ask the computer to test several scenarios and it will show you the results of each. When you have picked one, just tell the computer that ‘So-and-so’s punishment is’ and you will get to watch them suffer their fate.”

Caled rubbed his hands together eagerly. “This is going to be very enjoyable.”

Angela smirked. “Indeed. However, keep in mind that the best punishment isn’t always a painful or even physical one. “For example, you could pour boiling pitch all over Genesis, or you could lock him in a sensory depravation chamber by himself with no Bliss for a year or longer.” Calyx blanched, his eyes widening. “He dies, or he suffers for a very… long… time.”

“You’re sick, sweetheart,” Calyx said, shuddering.

Angela rolled her eyes. “Thank-you, Calyx, for proving my point. You don’t bat an eye at bamboo slivers but threaten your Bliss supply…” she grumbled and the screen flicked back to Dickerson’s information.

“So,” Hadrian broke the silence that followed Angela’s departure. “What should we do?”

“Let’s just boil him in pitch and move on so I can go back to bed,” John said thickly, rubbing his throbbing head.

“Angela said we should think of less painful forms of punishment,” Hadrian reminded him.

“She didn’t say it couldn’t be painful,” Caled said happily. “Just to make it creative.”

“How about gluing a pink bunny suit to him and locking him in police headquarters,” Finn suggested. Everyone stared at him. “What?”

“We’re trying to torture Dickerson, not the put the whole of Juxtapose City’s Police Department into therapy,” John replied.

“Still,” Calyx said with a wicked grin on his face, “it would be fun to watch.” He turned to the computer. “Uh, computer,” he rolled his eyes, “can we see the scenario of locking Dickerson in police headquarters glued into a pink bunny suit?”

The information on the screen was replaced by what looked like the graphics of a sixties arcade game. The details were non-existent, but everyone could clearly make out a big pink bunny with a human face hopping around spouting symbols out of its mouth, which everyone could only assume were swearwords, as what looked like people in blue uniforms either pointed and laughed or ran around screaming.

Calyx tilted his head, looking at the screen. “A bit exaggerated, perhaps, but amusing none-the-less.” He straightened. “Hey, Angela, what’s with the horrible graphics?”

Angela’s voice sounded over the speakers. “It seemed amusing at the time.”

“It’s ridiculous,” Black stated, his face dark. Suddenly, the speakers started blaring music. “Dancing Queeeeen, yooung and sweeeet, ooonly seventeeeeeennnnnn… Dancing Queeeeenn, feeel the beat ooooof the tamboriiine, ooohhh yeeaahh-“ The music quickly cut out. “Shall I continue with the soundtrack?” Angela’s voice asked dryly.

Calyx, who had dived under the table, poked his head out. “No, that’s okay. The graphics really aren’t all that bad.” John just moaned, rubbing his temples.

“Is that the kind of creative torture we’re looking for?” Finn asked Caled.

Caled grimaced. “Probably.”

“Well, as fun as it would be to put hot needles through Dick’s dick, I guess we’ll have to settle for something a little less… graphic,” Calyx said.

“Well…” Hadrian said slowly. His eyes were down and a faint blush began to stain his cheeks. “Since Dickerson is always harassing you for being a whore,” his blush deepened as he spoke, “why not make him one?”

“Irony. I like it,” Caled stated.

Calyx snorted. “That tub of useless flesh wouldn’t make it one week on the street and only a john with a few screws loose would buy him.”

“Unless he didn’t have to live on the street,” Finn said, a grin spreading over his face.

Sensing Finn’s excitement, Calyx purred. “I think I’m going to like this.”

“Make him a concubine,” Finn said.

“What?” Black said in a flat, unfriendly tone.

“Make him a concubine. Put him in the harem of some big, fat, hairy sultan.”

“Where he’ll be pampered the rest of his life?” John asked, doubtful.

“Maybe,” Caled said thoughtfully, “but he’ll be a pampered slave with no control over anyone and keep in mind that being forced to please his disgusting master won’t be pleasant.”

“Besides, do you have any idea what a concubine goes through in the name of beauty?” Finn said. “For instance, a beautiful concubine is a hairless one. They didn’t exactly have Nair in that society, you know.”

“Hairless?” Hadrian said, looking uneasy.

“Well, everywhere but the top of the head. And I do mean *everywhere*.”

“How did they remove the hair, dare I ask?” Calyx said, looking very eager.

“One by one.” Finn smirked.

Calyx clapped his hands. “Darkness, I want that punishment,” he said gleefully. “Can I have it? Pleeeeaaassse, Darkness?”

Black frowned. “You realize we are talking about the man who saved my life?”

Calyx flopped down into a chair. “For what purpose, Darkness? Since the beginning of these stories, he has been setting you up, forcing you into situations you don’t want to be in. You get five steps ahead and he knocks you back seven. Only you know how long he has been doing it before the stories even begin.”

“He’s only doing what he thinks is right,” Black said weakly.

Calyx narrowed his eyes. “Sure he is, sweetheart. So tell me, what was so right about putting me in JC2? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to leave. If he hadn’t assigned me to you, where would we be? However, you have to consider his reasons.”

“His reasons are his own,” Black said sharply.

“His reasons were for me to seduce you, sweetheart. He wants you to fall and he wants you to fall hard. He deserves what he’s getting.” Black looked unconvinced.

“If we can’t do it for you, then think about Anna,” Caled said softly. Black’s gaze snapped to him and it was very unfriendly. “She loves you, Black. You are her son. When Dickerson hurts you, he hurts her, and don’t forget that his indiscretions are listed as an offence on the screen. Punish him for her.”

Black looked thoughtful for a moment. Everyone held their breath, half expecting him to say no. Black looked at the screen with its block-shaped pink bunny and screaming police officers. “Computer,” he said. “The punishment for Captain Carl Dickerson is to make him a concubine in a harem of the most disgusting and perverted sultan you can come up with. And make the harem small, so he is sure to get lots of attention.”

Calyx grinned at Black, then turned to the screen. The pink bunny faded. A large, breezy room filled with draping white fabric came into view. Dickerson stood in the middle of the screen wearing nothing but a pair of harem pants. His face was wide with shock and surprise. From the side of the screen came a large blob of a man, easily 350 pounds with a scraggly black beard and little piggy eyes. His beard and chest were covered in crumbs and in his greasy hands he held and entire leg of… something.

“Is this my new concubine?” the man rumbled, his eyes roaming the captain hungrily. Dickerson face went white and he began to splutter.

A man draped from head to toe in black stepped forward. His face was hidden, but the large falchion at his side was not. “Yes, your highness,” the eunuch replied.

“Why does he not bow in my presence?” the sultan boomed. “Make him bow.”

The eunuch kicked the back of Dickerson’s knees and, with a grunt, the captain collapsed. This seemed to snap Dickerson out of his stupor. “ Just who do you think-“

The eunuch stepped forward and backhanded Dickerson hard across the face. “Feisty,” the sultan said happily. “I like feisty. Prepare him and train him. I want him ready for my bed in a week.” With one last, hungry look, the sultan bit a large chunk off the meat he was carrying, turned and walked away. Dickerson’s face took on a sick green tint as the picture faded. The sectioned screen came up again but Dickerson’s face on the screen now appeared with x marks over his eyes and a cartoonish tongue lolling out of his mouth.

“You have five bad guys left to punish,” the computer said.

Everyone stared at the screen. They all seemed to be in a sort of stupor. Slowly everyone turned to look at each other. Suddenly, Calyx leapt out of his seat, thrusting his arms into the air and laughing in a maniacally gleeful manner. He danced around in circles to the amusement to the others and stopped only when he saw that Black wasn’t celebrating with him. “Oh, come on Darkness,” Calyx said, crossing his arms. “You can’t tell me that you didn’t enjoy that.”

Black’s eyes darted to Calyx’s face, darkening. Calyx merely tapped his head. Black stared at him for just a moment, then looked away. “Maybe just a little,” he muttered.

“I *knew* it!” Calyx said. He ran up to Black and pulled him off his chair. Holding the smaller man tightly in his arms, he began to dance an awful waltz around the table, all the while cajoling, “We got rid of Dickerson!”

Black began to push at the empath. “Starr, stop.”

“We got rid of Dickerson!”

“Starr, stop!”

“We got rid of Dickerson!”

“STARR-“

Suddenly, Calyx stopped moving, looking down at the man in his arms. “You’re right. That was too much fun. We have to do that again.”

“Not so fast,” Caled said, standing. “Our turn.” Caled walked over to the screen and touched a picture. “Kragen and Illeana of Juxtan. Accused of: Abducting Caledon ni Agathon, Hadrian ni Leyannon, Manix of the heather, Syellen ne Duruman, Delio, and Gambel ni Weyver, Lying to Hadrian ni Leyannon, Casting a Compulsion Spell on Caledon ni Agathon, Raping Hadrian ni Leyannon, Using Hadrian ni Leyannon to Find the Throne of Sellised. Recommended Punishment?”

“How about using acid remove a few of their favorite body parts?” Caled growled.

“Tempting,” Calyx deadpanned, “but not terribly creative.”

“Well, what is it that Kragen and Illeana wants most?” John asked.

“Power,” Hadrian said softly. He had his cloak wrapped tightly around him, his face pale as his wide silvery eyes stared at the table.

“I’m sensing a pattern,” Finn remarked.

“Two points make a line, not a pattern,” Black said absently. He blinked. “Where have I heard that?”

“I’m with Finn on this one,” Calyx said. “Take their power away.”

“And do what?” John asked, rubbing his face. “Cut off their tongues, noses, eyes, hands, and feet and toss them to the village folk?” Everyone stared at him. “I must have heard that somewhere,” he mumbled.

“Okay, that was creative,” Calyx said, “but still not what we’re looking for.”

“This may not be very creative,” Black said thoughtfully, “but sometimes the old ones are the best. What if we strip them of their magic and make it so that, no matter what they say, no one will believe them and people will forever be chasing them off? They’ll be helpless vagabonds.”

“Not painful enough,” Caled growled.

John snapped his fingers. “But wait, there’s more,” Calyx remarked dryly.

“The Wild Hunt,” John said.

“That sounds better,” Caled said.

“Care to elaborate, sweetheart?” Calyx asked.

“In Celtic mythology the Wild Hunt is a ghostly group of hunters and hounds. They would appear to hunt a victim, ever giving up until they catch their prey then they disappear. What if we take Black’s idea except make Kragen and Illeana’s search for shelter more desperate by adding the Hunt on their heels?”

“Make them immortal, chased eternally by the Hunt, and I think we’ve come up with a suitable torture,” Calyx said, smirking.

Hadrian was staring at everyone with wide eyes. “You’re doing all that to them?”

“Of course we are, sweetheart,” Calyx said. “Rape is bad. Degrading someone is bad. Degrading and raping someone for so long that they convince themselves they enjoy it is just plain evil. The fact that they did it to pretty little inoffensive you is just salt in an already fatal wound.”

“Computer,” Caled said, turning to the screen. “The punishment for Kragen and Illeana is to strip them of their magick, make them immortal, make it so no one believes their words or trusts them, and send the Wild Hunt after them. And make sure they can’t leave each others presence as long as they live,” Caled added as an afterthought.

The screen faded into a picture of Illeana and Kragen looking warily around them on the outskirts of a town in Beyfan. A farmer was walking by with a mule and wagon, seemingly unconcerned with the fact that two people just appeared out of nowhere. “Excuse me,” Illeana said, walking up to the man. “Can you tell me where we are?”

The man eyed her suspiciously. “I don’t have time for the likes of you.”

Kragen’s eyes narrowed. “Tell us where we are or we’ll torture it out of you.”

The man snorted. “Sure you will. You and what army?” He shook his head, continuing on his way.

Illeana opened her mouth to hiss at the man but was interrupted by the blaring of a loud horn. They turned.

Five dogs stood but a few yards away, enormous and black. The hounds were snarling at them, smoke rising from their nostrils and eyes wild and burning as steaming saliva dripped from their mouths. Behind the hounds were five riders atop five black horses. Each horse, like the dogs, had fiery eyes and smoking nostrils. They pawed the ground in agitation, causing sparks where their hooves made contact. The riders were all cloaked in black, their faces hidden. The one in front looked similar to the others except for the large antlers that spouted from his head. The leader turned and looked at them. They could just make out a pair of burning red eyes.

Kragen and Illeana looked at each other, then turned and ran.

The screen went back to the options page. “That was the Wild Hunt?” Calyx said. “Scary.”

“No one has ever accused the Wild hunt of being less than that,” John said.

“So, who’s next?” Calyx asked.

Hadrian stared at the screen for a moment, then walked over and touched a picture.

“Abylon of Juxtan. Accused of: Harassing Caledon ni Agathon and Hadrian ni Leyannon, Coercing Caledon ni Agathon and Hadrian ni Leyannon, Ordering the Injury of Caledon ni Agathon, Molesting Hadrian ni Leyannon. Recommended punishment?”

“Target practice,” Hadrian snarled. Everyone looked quite surprised at Hadrian’s murderous exclamation. Calyx in particular looked slightly disturbed.

Caled, however, looked greatly amused. “I think I would like to see that. Computer?”

The screen faded to the blocky sixties graphics. On one side of the screen was a small picture of Abylon dodging brightly colored blocks and crying in terror. The other side held a much larger Hadrian, garbed in black, who was cackling maniacally as he threw the colored blocks, presumably spells, at Abylon. Finn laughed.

“That’s actually really funny,” he said.

“Did you have to make Hadrian look so evil?” John asked.

“Of course,” Angela’s voice replied over the speakers. “It’s all a part of his psycho sorcerer charm.”

“As amusing as that might be, Doe-Eyes, you don’t like to kill, remember?” Calyx said. “Maybe we should pick something that won’t haunt you for the rest of your life.”

“Coat him in honey and toss him onto a red anthill?” Finn suggested. The screen changed to demonstrate that rather painful possibility. Hadrian’s eyes glittered in satisfaction.

Calyx shot a glare at Finn. “Angel, you’re not helping.”

“Well, what do we know about Abylon?” Black said.

“He wants power,” Finn supplied with a helpful tone.

Black also favored him with a frown. “Of course he wants power. Finnian, are you ever serious?”

“As serious as you want me to be, my sexy little lieutenant,” Finn said. Black shot him a glare so fierce the criminals of Juxtapose City would have dropped dead in their tracks. Finn just batted his brilliant eyes.

Caled cleared his throat, grabbing the reluctant attention of the dueling parties. “He is a mercenary, so maybe we can work with that.”

Calyx nodded. “Yes. Make him impotent, as it were.”

“How?” Hadrian asked.

“Well, being a mercenary requires a lot of death in his life. Take away from him his ability to kill,” John suggested.

“Again, how would we do that?” Hadrian said.

“Hemophobia,” Black said, smiling slightly. “Better yet, necrophobia.”

“Better still,” Calyx smirked, “both.”

“What are those?” Finn asked.

Black explained. “Hemophobia is the irrational fear of blood. He would never again be able to stand the sight of it. However, you don’t necessarily need to shed blood to kill someone, so I thought of necrophobia, which is the fear of death and dead things.”

“Interesting hobby of yours, sweetheart,” Calyx said, grinning at Black. “Memorizing phobias.”

Black gave him a cool look. “Well, let’s see, there’s alektorophobia, which is the fear of chickens,” he said, ticking off the list on his fingers, “didaskaleinophobia, which is the fear of going to school, and, my favorite, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.”

Everyone stared. “What the hell did you just say?” John said. Black calmly repeated himself. “That’s what I thought you said.”

“What’s that the fear of?” Finn asked.

“Long words,” Black replied.

Calyx’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding,” he said. Black just looked at him. “You’re not kidding. Dear God. How could you possibly get treated for that? Trying to tell someone what’s wrong with you would send you into a fit of hysterics.”

“That’s assuming you can even say it,” Caled noted.

Hadrian cleared his throat. “Everyone? Abylon? Let’s try to focus.”

“Right, so give him a fear of death and blood,” Calyx said.

Hadrian shook his head, his inky hair shining in the light. “No. It’s not painful enough.”

Caled looked at Hadrian uneasily. “Hades, he will no longer be able to do the only thing that he knows how to do. I believe that turning Abylon into a farmer is punishment enough.” The dark glare he received from pale silver eyes shut him up.

“Well, what would you like to have done, Hadrian?” Finn said, his voice soft and soothing.

“I like Calyx’s idea. Make him impotent.”

“So he’ll be nonfunctional for the rest of his life.” Caled shrugged. “If that’s what you want, Hades.”

“No, don’t,” Black said. Hadrian’s eyes shot to him. “I’ve got a better idea.”

“Do tell,” Hadrian purred dangerously.

Calyx winced. “You really don’t like this guy, do you Doe-Eyes?”

“What was your first clue?” John grumbled.

“We should give him the phobias,” Black started, “and then psychotic hallucinations so that whenever he is engaged in any kind of sexual act, he starts to see his partner as being dead or bleeding profusely or a combination of both. He’ll have screaming hysterics for the rest of his life.”

“Darkness,” Calyx said slowly. “You would tell me if I did something to piss you off, wouldn’t you?”

Black’s look spoke infinite volumes.

“Then,” Finn elaborated with a small smile, “we can lock him in a room with a bunch of nymphomaniacs.”

“Attractive nymphomaniacs,” Caled elaborated.

“Nymphomaniacs who look like, say, us?” Calyx suggested.

“Computer,” Hadrian said, his voice confident in his satisfaction, “the punishment for Abylon is to be given necrophobia and hemophobia and to have hallucinations that trigger his phobias whenever he is engaged in a sexual act, then to be locked in the room with six men who look like us.”

John winced. “Did you really have to add that last part?”

The screen faded to a rich-looking room with a very prominent bed in the center. On the bed sat Abylon, looking around him warily. A door at one end of the room opened and the boys saw themselves file in the room, every last one of them with a wicked gleam in his eye as they surrounded the man on the bed. Abylon looked like Christmas had come early.

“Alright, enough,” John said, his face pale as he watched himself on the screen. “I don’t want to watch this.”

“Suit yourself,” Angela replied as the screen went blank.

Black let out a breath. “Well, we managed to dodge that bullet. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t looking forward to watching myself seduce him, either”

“Who do we do next?” Calyx asked as the option screen came back up. “My vote is Sola.”

Black glared at him. “I’m not torturing one of my men.”

Calyx rolled his eyes. “Sweetheart, we’ve been through this. They are bad guys. You know they are bad guys. Why can’t you admit that and let us bitchslap him like the whore he should be?”

A blood-curdling scream echoed through the room, filled with such terror and horror that the hair on the back of everyone’s neck stood to attention. “What was that?” Finn asked, alarmed.

“That,” Angela replied, “was Abylon. You said you didn’t want to watch. No one said anything about hearing.”

“I’d say he just got to the ‘sexual act’ part,” Caled said.

“I’d say you’re right.” Angela’s voice was smug. “Anyway, back to Sola. Give him hell, Calyx.”

Calyx grinned at Black. “See, even Angela thinks he needs to be punished, and she’s in charge.”

Black snorted as Calyx touched the screen. “Sergeant Wolf Sola of Juxtapose City. Accused of: Conspiring against Lt. Black, Wishing Lt. Black Harm, Wishing Agent Calyx Starr Harm, Molesting Agent Calyx Starr, Spying on Lt. Black and Agent Calyx Starr, Giving Wolves Everywhere a Bad Name. Recommended punishment?”

They all looked at the screen for a moment. “I guess Angela likes wolves,” Finn said.

“Give him street detail,” Black said, unenthusiastically.

“Come on, sweetheart, you’re far more creative than that,” Calyx said. “At the very least he should be tied naked to a pole in the middle of the Silent City with a sign around his neck that says ‘Use me.’”

“He is one of my men, Starr,” Black said. “He’s an asshole, but I’m supposed to protect him.”

“What if we humiliate him instead of hurt him?” Caled suggested.

Calyx looked thoughtful. “How so?”

“You called him a whore a moment ago,” Hadrian said. He seemed much calmer after having punished Abylon.

“We already did that one,” Finn pointed out.

“Besides,” Calyx said, cutting off Black’s retort, “I think Darkness would consider that harm.”

John was eyeing Finn. “What?” Finn asked.

“What if we made him a stripper?” John said, turning to Calyx.

“Dressed as something humiliating, like a young girl,” Caled said.

“Catholic school girl,” Calyx said, smirking. He then made a face. “Ugh, can you imagine?”

Caled turned to Black. “Would that satisfy you, Black?” he asked.

Black looked unhappy, but he took the time to consider it. “As far as punishments go, it’s pretty mild, but he would find it utterly humiliating,” he replied.

Calyx knelt beside Black, throwing an arm around his shoulders. “Just think, sweetheart. All of those men drooling after his skirt-clad ass. That would kill him.”

“Probably the best we’ll do without maiming him or driving him insane,” Black said. He sighed. “I guess we’ll have to settle on that.”

John relayed the punishment to the computer. The image of a smoky bar appeared on the screen. A spotlight shone on a walkway in the center of the bar where Sola stood, his _expression similar to a deer caught in the headlights. He was dressed very Brittany Spears in a catholic schoolgirl costume. Music started somewhere deep in the bar and, to Sola’s apparent horror, his body started dancing to the howls and jeers of the audience.

“Dear God, make it stop,” Calyx said, trying to look horrified for his ‘teammate’ and smother his laughter. He was failing spectacularly on both accounts.

“That was… very disturbing,” Black noted, his face slightly gray.

“This is fun. Who should we torture next?” Caled said, looking eagerly at the screen.

“We haven’t tortured anyone from Finn and John’s storylines yet,” Hadrian commented.

“That’s right, sweetheart,” Calyx commented as he grinned at the angel and detective. “We haven’t.” The screen flipped back to the options page.

“Sin and Malice,” John said as Finn shuddered, curling in on himself.

Calyx pushed the picture of the two demons.

“Sin and Malice from Angel: Reverse,” the computer voice intoned. “Accused of: Corrupting the Innocent, Molesting Finnian, Raping Finnian, Being Evil. Recommended Punishment?”

John sighed. “Calyx, they’re demons. They live in Hell… or something like that. How do you think you’re going to torture them?”

Calyx looked thoughtful for a moment. “Chinese water torture to drive them insane?”

“They are already insane,” John pointed out.

“Well,” Hadrian said, “we could do something similar to what we did with Dickerson. An ‘eye for an eye’ torture.”

John shook his head. “No. They would just encourage the punisher. I suppose that goes with the whole ‘corrupting the innocent’ thing.”

“We could make the punisher someone who is more evil than they are,” Caled replied.

John gave him a strange look. “What part of ‘they are evil demons from Hell’ did you not understand? How much more evil can you get?”

Black snickered, his eyes distant as if lost in thought. Everyone turned to him. “Okay, Darkness, spill,” Calyx said.

“I just had a thought… I think it would be a wonderful torture for them…” he leaned forward and whispered in Calyx’s ear. Calyx’s eyes went wide.

“Oh, Darkness, that’s just mean,” he purred. He walked over to the computer and spoke very quietly to it. A moment later, the image of Sin and Malice sitting a desk appeared on the screen. The room was dark and dank with several desk and benches sitting in an orderly fashion. There were a few small windows, but most of the light came from torches that lined the walls. A desk with a chalkboard sat at the front of the room.

As the two demons sat, looking around them in confusion, a door in the back of the room slammed open and a dark-robed figure swept in, past the pair and up beside the desk at the front. Then the figure swirled around.

Sin and Malice leaned in together, their eyes narrowing at the black clad figure in front of them. The inky black eyes of the man in front of them glittered coldly, not backing down so much as an inch. “Turn to page three hundred and ninety-four,” Snape drawled in a silky voice. The image faded away.

There was stunned silence for a moment, and then Calyx fell against the wall, cackling madly.

“SNAPE!” Finn cried out, looking at Black. “You sent them to SNAPE!”

“Why not?” Calyx asked, gasping for breath. “He’s a evil, he’s a git. And have you read the Harry Potter fanfiction? There is absolutely nothing they can attempt to make him do that some random fangirl or guy has not made him do before. He’s incorruptible.”

“I had considered making them spend Valentine’s Day in the Great Hall with Gilderoy Lockhart, but they would have reduced him to a whimpering puddle of catatonic flesh in no time,” Black remarked.

“Besides, there are those who consider Snape’s potion classes a circle of Hell unto itself,” Calyx replied.

Finn seemed unsure of how to react to that. “So,” Calyx said cheerfully, rubbing his hands together, “who do we have next?”

They all looked at the screen. Five out of the eight listed bad guys had the x’s and lolling tongues. Only three remained: Jack, the Consortium, and Gavedon ni Leyannon. Calyx, Black, Caled, and John looked at their respective bad guys with expressions of pure loathing. Hadrian and Finn looked slightly worried. Finn’s frown deepened as John very deliberately stood up, walked to the screen and pushed the picture of Jack. “Jack from Angel: Reverse. Accused of: Molesting Finnian, Allowing the demons Sin and Malice to Molest and Rape Finnian, Intending Harm upon Detective John Stonebrook, Murdering the Family of Detective John Stonebrook, Committing Serial Murder, Being a Psycho Asshole. Recommended Punishment?”

“Burn in Hell,” John snarled. Finn looked incredibly alarmed.

“Don’t say that,” Finn said.

“He murdered my family, kid. I’m not going to just stand here now that I have the chance to get even.”

“We can’t,” Finn said, rising to his feet. He looked desperate. “You’re right, Jack murdered your family and should be punished, but we shouldn’t be the ones to do it.”

“Wait a minute, sweetheart,” Calyx interrupted. “You had no problem punishing everyone else. You even helped to convince Black to torture one of his own men. But now that one of the people you want safe is on the block, you take on a ‘Judge not’ attitude?”

“We punished Sin and Malice,” Black said. “Now it’s John’s turn with Jack.”

“Oh, of course,” Finn said sarcastically, “just as soon as you geniuses manage to figure out how to do that without harming Jeremy.” Everyone grew quiet. “After all that has happened, I can’t deny John the chance to punish Jack, but I will fight tooth and nail to protect Jeremy.”

“Isn’t there something we could do to protect Jeremy from Jack?” Hadrian asked.

Finn looked tired. “I tried everything I can think of. Unless you know something I don’t, whatever you do to Jack also happens to Jeremy.”

“What if you could separate them?” Black asked.

“How?” Finn asked.

“Finnian, we are six men from three totally different universes trapped in a room torturing bad guys under the instruction and encouragement of a woman who reads about our lives off the internet,” Black replied. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but there should be a way to manage it.”

Hadrian muttered something. “What was that, Doe-Eyes?” Calyx asked.

“Take power away from him,” Hadrian repeated.

“Well, of course, Hadrian. We’re trying to decide how to do it without hurting Jeremy,” Black replied.

“No, you don’t understand,” Hadrian said. “Making Jack and Jeremy two different people doesn’t take power from Jack, it gives him more. We’ll never be able to get rid of him then.”

“You do realize that we will be sending him directly to the torture chamber, right?” John said.

Hadrian said shook his head stubbornly. “Instead of splitting the two, take away Jack’s ability to hurt anyone. Lock him up inside Jeremy so that he can never again get out.”

“But how does that hurt Jack?” Caled asked.

“There is nothing quite so painful as to live in a world that you can no longer interact with,” Hadrian said darkly.

“So, lock him in Jeremy’s head so that he can no longer take over or even speak to Jeremy, but give him just enough awareness that he can see through Jeremy’s eyes? That is cruel,” Calyx said.

John grumbled. “Not quite as satisfying as torturing him.” He turned to Hadrian. “Are you sure this will be awful?”

Hadrian’s look was grim. “Trust me.”

John frowned briefly, then turned to the computer and relayed the punishment. The picture faded to Angela.

Black frowned. “Did we do something wrong?”

“Oh, no,” Angela replied. “It’s just sort of hard to actually see inside a person’s head. Instead, I’m just going to tell you that I explained to Jeremy what has happened. He is very happy and kept saying that he knew Finn would take care of him. Jack, on the other hand, is in an absolute violent hysteria trying to get out.”

“So Jeremy’s okay?” Finn asked, worried.

Angela smiled warmly. “A-okay.” Finn heaved a sigh of relief, falling back into his chair. “So,” Angela said, turning back to the others. “You have two bad-guys left. The Consortium, or Gavedon?”

“Gavedon,” Caled bit out. Angela smiled and the screen went to Gavedon’s stats. “Gavedon ni Leyannon of Juxtan. Accused of: Emotional Abuse to Hadrian ni Leyannon, Breaking Mage Council Law, Torturing Hadrian ni Leyannon, Coercing Hadrian ni Leyannon, Destruction of the Town of Rhiad, Mass Murder, Attempting to Murder Caledon ni Agathon, Being a Bad Father. Recommended punishment?”

“Give me a moment,” Caled growled. “I’ll settle on a few.”

“No pleas for mercy, sweetheart?” Calyx asked Hadrian.

Hadrian looked at him bleakly. “He must be punished for his crimes. I’ve been aware of this for a long time.”

“Then why do you look so grim?” Black asked.

“Knowing how cruel Dickerson has been to you, you still pleaded for him, didn’t you?” Hadrian asked Black. “Gavedon was an awful father, and a cruel man, but he is my father. We have to punish him, but I don’t have to enjoy it.”

“You know what we should do?” John asked. “We should give Gavedon the same affliction as Hadrian.”

“What affliction?” Black asked.

“Life’s revulsion of him,” Finn said. “Remember, Hadrian can’t touch anything of Life.”

A dark smile curled Black’s lips. “Hadrian,” he said, “What place in Juxtan has the greatest concentration of Life?”

Hadrian shook his head, his eyes wide in dawning horror.

“I believe Manix said once that it was Fieran’s Peak, was it not?” Caled said.

“This is going to require a lack of clothes,” Finn replied.

Calyx was frowning, watching Hadrian. “Wait-“

“Computer,” Caled said, “the punishment for Gavedon ni Leyannon is to give him the same inability to touch Life that Hadrian has, strip him of clothes, and put him on the top of Fieran’s Peak.”

“No!” Hadrian wailed as the screen darkened. Gavedon stood on the freezing top of the mountain, completely unclothed and gazing around in confusion. Suddenly, his eyes widened, as if he heard a voice speaking to him. He threw his hands up to cover his ears and screamed, crumpling to the floor. The screened darkened.

Hadrian’s scream of rage broke the satisfied silence. “How could you?!” he shouted at Caled.

“It’s what he deserves, Hades,” Caled said, looking startled at Hadrian’s reaction.

“No one deserves that!” Hadrian sobbed, tears running down his face. “He’ll be insane in seconds.”

“I thought you wanted him punished,” Finn said, confused.

Hadrian shook his head. “Not like that. Anything but that.”

“It’s alright, Hadrian. He probably won’t remember, anyway,” Black said, awkwardly trying to soothe the distressed sorcerer. Everyone looked at him.

“What do you mean?” Hadrian said, taking deep, hiccuping breaths as he tried to stop crying.

“The only stories that stick around are the canon ones, right? Well, this,” Black spread his arms to indicate the room, “isn’t exactly canon. When this is done and you go back, Gavedon will be happily chasing you with his wolf golems, same as always.”

John looked bitterly at the screen. “Sure. Just burst that illusion for us, Black.”

“Then what’s the point?” Hadrian asked.

Finn smiled. “To make us feel better.” He looked at Hadrian. “Well, some more than others.”

“And I, for one, am not passing this opportunity up,” Calyx said. He walked over to the screen and touched the final picture.

“The Consortium of Juxtapose City. Accused of: Filming Snuff Porn, Harassing Lt. Black and Agent Calyx Starr, Raping Lt. Black and Agent Calyx Starr, Torturing Lt. Black and Agent Calyx Starr. Recommended punishment?”

“Well, let’s see,” Calyx started. “What do you think, Darkness? We could dump them in boiling pitch.”

“Electrocute them,” Black supplied.

“Break every bone in their body, one by one.”

“Flay them alive.”

“Shove bamboo slivers under their fingernails.”

“Make them unable to take Bliss.”

Calyx looked at Black. “Good one.”

Black shrugged modestly. “Thank-you.”

“We could also make them perpetually aroused and unable to get off,” Calyx suggested.

Black shook his head. “God knows who they’d hurt trying to fix that problem.”

John smirked. “You could strap them to a chair and make them watch Saturday morning cartoons for the rest of their life.”

Finn frowned. “Hey. I like Saturday morning cartoons.”

Black and Calyx looked at each other. “Has potential,” Black said.

“Strap them to chairs and make them watch the worst TV show known to man forever?” Calyx said.

“Electric chairs that shock them irregularly so they can’t fall asleep.”

“So what’s the worst TV show?” Finn asked, curious.

Calyx frowned. “Not sure. I don’t watch a lot of TV. Too many interesting things to do.”

“Angela,” Black said, “any recommendations?”

“Tricia suggests ‘Dukes of Hazard’,” Angela replied.

“She *would* know,” John muttered.

“We are talking about the woman who enjoys torturing us, remember?” Caled said.

“I like it,” Calyx stated. “Computer, the punishment for the Consortium is to tie them to electric chairs that shock them at irregular intervals and force them to watch reruns of ‘Dukes of Hazard’.” The screen changed to a dark room with three chairs facing a screen. In the three chairs were the three Consortium members. There was something over everyone’s mouth to keep them from talking and pumps that injected something into their arms. The screen in front of them started playing the show. After a few moments, the three began to struggle against their bondage. Suddenly, Mr. Bright jumped. He had apparently just been shocked. The screen changed back to Angela.

“Give them a few hours and they’ll be begging for mercy,” she said.

“So, that’s it then?” Black asked.

Angela nodded. “Yep. That’s all eight. How did it feel?”

“To tell you the truth,” Calyx said, “a little stressful. Fun, but a few of these guys just don’t know ho to get into it.”

Angela grinned. “Well, better luck next time.”

Black raised an eyebrow. “Next time?”

“So now what are we supposed to do?” Hadrian asked.

“Now, I have to get you guys home,” Angela said. “I promised Tricia I’d only borrow you for a little while and she does have work to do.”

“Work,” Caled said suspiciously. “What kind of work?”

“The story kind,” Angela said vaguely. “Now shoo.” All the boys began to make their way back to the rooms. “Oh, and Hadrian?” They all stopped. “This weeks rotation seems to be ‘Hadrian Ascending’. Good Luck.” With that, the screen clicked off as Hadrian groaned.

“Why me?”