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Hell to Pay

The house seemed eerily quiet when Dave and Chris returned. Oogly sat at the top of the stairs that led down to the art room. She looked up at Dave and gave a questioning, "Meow?"

"Yeah, I know. Things aren't quite right down there." Dave turned to Chris. "Would you go in that cupboard and get all the cleaning supplies we'll need? I'm gonna change my clothes."

Chris nodded, trying to smile. "Okay." He patted Dave's arm.

Dave filled the bathtub in the master bath, which was separate from the shower, with a few inches of cold water. He'd always been told that cold water would help get blood out. Then he stripped off his clothes and put them in the tub, soaking them through and through. Already he could see the blood coming out and the water turning red.

Using the sink, Dave washed off his stomach and thigh, which were tacky with the blood that had soaked through. He also thoroughly scrubbed his hands and under his nails. Blood got everywhere, didn't it? Once he was done, Dave had to hold tightly to the side of the sink and will himself not to break down again. It was hard, after washing so much of Taylor's blood out of his being.

He felt better after he'd put on fresh clothes. Dave got a plastic red laundry basket and went back to the tub to get his wet clothing.

Suddenly, he saw the head in the tub. The bloody head Nicky had shown to Jordyn. And then it was gone.

Dave gasped, stumbling back a few steps. His heart lurched in his chest. What the hell was that?

The vision did not happen again, and Dave was able to collect his clothes. He thought about what had just happened while pretreating the remains of the bloodstains on his shirt and jeans. By the time the clothing was in the wash, he had figured it out.

Nicky was trying to communicate with anyone in the house, just as he had before they brought out the Ouija board. He was feeling out in the dark.

Seething with anger, Dave walked down the stairs to the art room. Chris was already there. He avoided looking at the statue as he mopped up Taylor's blood. Most of it was gone, the mop water turned pink and sudsy. Dave was grateful to him for doing it.

"Thank you, Chris," he said, rubbing his shoulder. Unable to stop himself, Dave approached the statue.

"Careful," Chris warned.

"It's okay," Dave said. "He's trapped." He looked the statue in the eye.

After a few seconds, a trail of blue paint ran from its eye. Like a tear.

His face twisting into a snarl, Dave screamed, "CRY ME A RIVER, BITCH!" and punched the statue so hard, its head hit the wall behind it and left a dent in the plaster.

Chris came over to him, taking his arm. "Dave, don't do this. You'll break your hand. It's a plastic mannequin."

"Maybe he can still feel it," Dave mumbled.

"No, I don't think he can. Nicky's a ghost."

"He'll still know how I feel about his pathetic little tear." Breathing hard with anger, Dave looked the statue up and down. "Come on. Help me get this fucking thing out of here. I'm getting Nicky out of my house."

"Where are we taking him?" Chris asked.

"To 606. I'm going to lock him up in a closet until I figure out who did this to us."

"What about Kurt?"

The question took him aback; Dave had been so focused on what happened to Taylor... "Oh, right. The last time we saw him, he was fighting with Len..."

"And then he possessed Taylor," Chris added.

"Maybe I better try that meditation thing and go talk to him."

"Is that safe?" Chris warily eyed the statue. "Is Nicky wandering the white space now?"

"I have to find out. Kurt may need my help." Sitting down on the couch, Dave tried to calm his breathing. "Will you watch to make sure nothing happens to me?"

"Yeah. If you start struggling or anything, I'll pull you out." Once more, Chris eyed the statue. "The last thing I want to do right now is go in there with you and possibly see or speak to Nicky."

"I can understand that." It was the first thing Dave wanted to do, to find Nicky and knock his soul all over the mindscape.

Dave leaned back and closed his eyes. As he had done before, Kurt pulled him quickly into the mindscape. It had changed again. The big bed had been replaced by one with clean, light blue sheets. Most of the doors were hidden away. Kurt lay on the bed, his hands clasped on top of his stomach. He raised his head when Dave walked up. "Hey."

"Hey." Dave sat on the edge of the bed. Kurt sat up so they were eye-to-eye. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm alright. Boddah kept Len from hurting me," Kurt explained. He finger-combed some of Dave's hair behind his ear. "How is Taylor?"

"He's in surgery to stop internal bleeding. They say he should be okay."

Looking down, Kurt said, "When I told Taylor that getting seriously yhurt would drive Nicky out of his body, I never meant for him to stab himself." He looked up, eyes damp with threatening tears. "You know that, right? I was just trying to explain the advantages he had over Nicky in the fight."

"I know you weren't trying to hurt Taylor."

"I just wanted him to know about Nicky's lies and manipulation. It's very unlikely he ever would have killed Taylor no matter how many times he threatened to do it." Kurt shook his head. "You see what happened when Taylor stabbed himself."

"Nicky went right back in the statue." With a sigh, Dave asked, "Why didn't you tell me? If I'd known Nicky wasn't going to shoot Taylor, I would have fought him for the gun when I had the chance. I would have - "

"I didn't know, I didn't know until minutes before Taylor woke up! Yes, there are things I've known all along, but that wasn't one of them," Kurt replied, frustrated and feeling guilty nonetheless. "I tell you things as I'm told them myself, and as I'm allowed to. You don't know how many times I wanted to tell you how to wake Taylor up, but Boddah said it was too soon, that he'd take me out of here and I wouldn't be able to help you anymore. He's very serious about interfering with fate."

"Well, he's a reaper. I guess he would be." Dave pulled Kurt into a hug. "I'm sorry I got mad. You couldn't help the things you didn't know and couldn't tell me."

Kurt hugged him back. "I'm just glad you all got out of this alive."

They eventually broke the embrace and just looked at each other for a moment. Unable to resist, Dave leaned in and kissed Kurt, a kiss that lasted longer than he meant for it to. He briefly wondered to himself if this could be considered cheating, messing around with the ghost of his former lover. "Sorry, I just can't forget what it was like to be with you, and... I..."

Kurt shook his head. "You don't have to say it. I know that I devastated you when I killed myself." He looked down, chewing on his bottom lip. "I devastated a lot of people."

"You're making up for it, Kurt. You really are. I can tell just by speaking with you that you've grown a great deal in the years that have passed."

With a little pride on his face, Kurt raised his head. "I have. I've learned so much from making amends with the people I hurt with my suicide." He cradled Dave's face in his hand. "You're one of the last."

Dave rubbed his cheek against Kurt's fingers. "So what happens now?"

"Now? We find the witch who put the spell on this statue and get her to help us send Nicky back to Hell."

"Why do we need her help?"

"Because it's her spell. If we work against it without knowing exactly what she did, it could fuck everything up. Nicky could go free."

Dave leaned back, looking up and sighing. "How are we ever going to find her?"

"Boddah says you know someone with latent psychic abilities. Someone who could read the statue, give you a lot of information." Kurt explained. "Do you know who that is?"

"Uh, I think so. If I moved the statue out of my house, would that cause any problems?"

"Wherever the statue goes, I go with it. My best advice is to get the psychic to read the statue first, and use the information she gives you to safeguard this space while we work to give Nicky a one way ticket back where he belongs."

Dave nodded. "What do you mean by safeguard this space?"

Uncomfortable at the thought, Kurt squirmed a little. "Nicky's caged, but he's still here. He'll keep trying to communicate with anyone who comes around. That's unless you shut him up."

"It concerns me to leave him here, in my house."

"Of course, but if you move him now, it's going to mess with the spell. Just get the statue read, and safeguard it, and then it can be moved." Kurt swung his legs over the side of the bed. "Once we send Nicky back, we'll only have a few days before this space collapses, and I go back into limbo. So let's make sure we take care of everything first."

Dave nodded again. "I better get busy, then." He looked at Kurt. "What happens to you in limbo?"

"I start looking for forgiveness again. Got a few left."

Dave didn't ask who; he thought he already knew. "Before I go, take me to Nicky's cage. I have a few things I need to say to him."

The cage that held Nicky was covered with carved symbols, ones Dave didn't recognize, ones he had seen before but didn't know the meaning of, and some different types of crystals. Nicky paced the cage, his hands balled into fists, his breath coming quick and angry. When he saw Dave and Kurt approaching, he grabbed the bars and shook his body against them. "You let me out of here! Let me out!"

"You know that's not going to happen."

Grinning, Nicky hissed as he asked, "Did Taylor die? I hope he died in your arms while you cried, covered in his blood. I saw a glimpse of bloody clothes in your bathtub."

Dave shook his head. "No, he's alive. He bravely drove you out and he survived."

"You know what? It doesn't matter." The evil smile on Nicky's face sent chills up Dave's spine. "Someone else will try to communicate with me. I'll possess them and this time, I'll live again. And I'll find Taylor and cut his guts out. Then I'll come get you and cut you into pieces. Your wife will arrive home and find your head on the kitchen counter to greet her."

Dave didn't want to show fear to this psycho, but he couldn't help but wince. "No. No, you're not going to do any of those things. I'm going to find a way to take away any power that you have and send you back where you belong."

"Fine." Nicky pushed himself off the bars and began to pace again. "You made your choice. You could have been mine, but you'd rather die. We'll see who reaches their goal first."

Dave and Kurt said nothing else to him. They left the bubble in which he was trapped and returned to the safety of the big bed.

"What about all those demons? Where are they?" Dave asked as they reached the safe space.

Kurt explained, "Most of them have gone back to Hell. Len is still here because he linked himself with Nicky's soul. He's been caged too. Len can't do much to anyone as long as Nicky is trapped."

"Good deal. So once I get this psychic here, what do we do to safeguard the place?"

A few minutes later, Dave opened his eyes and sat up. He saw Chris scrubbing at the bloodstains on the chaise lounge with a brush. "Hey, thanks."

"Hey. What happened? Is Kurt okay?"

Dave explained everything he and Kurt had discussed. "I don't pretend to know how Witchcraft and spells work, but if a spell got Nicky in there to begin with, then a spell can take him out."

"Makes sense, I guess." Chris used a towel to blot up the fabric cleaner. "Um, can you move? I need to clean that cushion."

Dave looked behind him at the middle, back couch cushion. "Why?"

Chris guiltily looked at the cushion he'd rubbed himself against while Dave and Taylor made love. "I was kinda... sweaty sometimes... while I was lying here." He avoided Dave's gaze.

Even after twenty more minutes of cleaning, Dave still wasn't sure he wanted to keep the two pieces of furniture upon which he and Chris had been chained. "I may just chuck them both."

Chris checked his watch. "I really need to catch my flight. Will you be okay if I leave?"

"Yeah. I'm going to get started on what Kurt and I talked about. If I can get a hold of my psychic, I won't be alone in this house for long," Dave replied.

They said their goodbyes and Chris left for the airport. Dave took out his cell phone.

She answered on the second ring. "Petra? Hi, this Dave Grohl. Do you have a minute?"

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