Beloctober Day 10: Favorite AU
I don’t know who came up with this concept first - I just know I saw it somewhere (I’m going to be honest, I was probably half asleep at the time, that’s common), I took it to Wig, and next thing ya know we’ve got whole subplots going on top of a main. (and with that in mind I desperately want to turn this one into a full fic. But we’ll see, we’ll see...)
So if you get done reading this and realize that you are the one who first came up with this, please come forward so I can shake your hand.
The recent acquisition of the portal key was nothing short of a blessing, damaged though it was. Damaged was fine - Belos could work with damaged, he just needed a little time to play around with things.
(That, of course, being where the majority of his problems arose: he needed time. Which, with his deadline approaching with increasing aggressiveness, he didn’t have.)
The portal was still behaving strangely, though frankly he’d expected that to some degree. The thing had been blown up – a few hiccups in its operation were inevitable, no matter how diligently he reconstructed it. Still, it was… concerning. Far be it from him to get the jitters before proverbial-showtime, but…
Belos closed his eyes and took a small breath in and out to clear his mind. Run a few tests, pinpoint the issues, then resolve them. That’s all he needed to do. Time was running short, but he wasn’t out of it, not yet. He gestured, and the Abomaton standing ready off to the side began the now well-practiced task of opening the power-flow to activate the door. The doorframe glowed as the magic entered it, and Belos glanced down at the patched key in his hand. He felt himself take another breath, but this time around he held it as he raised the key to the lock.
The key had leaked a fair amount of blood. Would it still work? It had to. It had to…
He slotted the key into place, and his heart lurched when it didn’t disintegrate on contact. He turned it, hearing the tumblers click into place, and he would admit his hands were shaking when he went to turn the knob.
His cautious hopes were swiftly dashed at what he saw on the other side of the door.
It wasn’t the human realm, that much was obvious (or at least he hoped not; something there had gone very wrong indeed if it was). The landscape was comprised of abstract shapes, and there were… cubes? Floating cubes? Dotted here and there.
Belos leaned forward slightly, trying to get a better look, grudgingly fascinated. True, his disappointment at his failure was paramount, but at the same time this was like nothing he’d ever seen before surely he’d never seen it before. If it wasn’t the human realm, where was it? What were those floating cubes, what purpose did they serve—?
He finally looked down, and his stomach dropped.
He’d seen dark ooze like that before. Typically, on the floor or walls as he shuddered in residual pain from an outburst.
Close the door, something told him. This is all wrong. Try again.
His arm twitched as though about to follow through with the thought (truly, he wanted nothing more than to not be looking at the pool of sludge in front of him anymore), but stopped as he noticed… he wasn’t sure, exactly. Movement was what had initially caught his eye – somewhere ahead there was something stirring in the muck, he just couldn’t make out what.
It appeared to be something slowly rising to the surface, he decided. Though most bizarrely it seemed to be rising vertically, which considering the paced speed at which it was doing so shouldn’t have been possible. It came to a slow stop, and after a prolonged moment of squinting to get a better look Belos decided it almost resembled a person (albeit one thickly coated head-to-foot in the surrounding muck) on their knees, head tilted back as they gazed upward.
It was… exceedingly unnerving, to be honest.
It moved, slowly tilting its head down to look directly towards the door, as though it had just noticed it was there. Belos got the distinct impression somehow that he was being looked through rather than at. There was a beat wherein he just looked back, unsure how to respond (if indeed, he ought to respond at all), and then it began crawling towards him.
Fumblingly, Belos moved to shut the door, but at that moment the frame began shuddering and sparking. He jolted back instinctively, and his (mostly voluntary) exclamation signaled for the Abomaton to shut the portal down. From the corner of his eye he could certainly see it trying, but its efforts weren’t making any difference in whatever issues the door was having. If anything, the malfunctions seemed to get worse.
He cast around for absolutely anything he might use to deescalate the portal’s apparent breakdown. If it kept up like this it might irreparably damage itself, and he couldn’t lose all his progress now. Not after how far he’d come, not when he was so close—
Close it! shrieked something frantically. Close the door!!
Belos tried, jerking towards it, but before he could get it to latch something slammed into it from the other side, nearly knocking him down the stairs behind him. Before he could regain he bearings enough to once more launch himself at the door to try to shut it, whatever he’d seen on the other side staggered past the threshold. It had managed to rise to its feet at some point, apparently.
Very well, that was fine – the portal was still wide open, all he’d have to do is knock it back through, far enough this time where he’d have time to properly lock the door behind it—
So of course that was exactly the moment the Abomaton managed to finally shut the portal down. The mystery world on the other side fizzled from view, the door swung shut of its own accord, and Belos was left with a hunched-over thing dripping in ooze that he didn’t know what to do with. Utterly sensational…
Belos summoned his staff, preparing for a confrontation, when the figure once more dropped to their knees and promptly began to vomit.
…if this was its strategy to catch him off-guard, it was working fabulously. Looking closer at what it was expelling (more because he couldn’t look away than anything else at this point), he recognized the gunk as what it had just been floating in and what was presently covering its entire body.
…except wait, no, the ooze was starting to slide off, mixing with the vomit pooled on the floor. To Belos’s surprise, his initial summation of the thing seemed to have been correct: It was, indeed, a person who’d simply been covered in slime. But how—?
Hacking and coughing, the mystery individual raised their head to miserably wipe their mouth with the back of their hand, and Belos’s eyes went wide.
“…William…?” he breathed.
The man – William, that was his brother William – looked up unfocusedly at the sound of his name. He jolted a bit upon seeing there was in fact another person in the room with him, then glanced around the room. To Belos’s surprise, he saw his face twisting in fear. Well, fair enough, his present surroundings were just a touch disconcerting, and certainly nothing like what he would be used to, but more pressing to Belos was how this was even possible. The last time he’d seen his brother he’d been—
…no, he hadn’t been… Belos had been with his brother, his curse had flared up, and when he’d come back to himself he had found copious amounts of blood and never saw his brother again. The implications were… obvious.
Also, apparently, wrong. Because there he was.
“William,” he tried again, moving towards him, “how—”
“Lucifer!!” William suddenly shrieked, making him jump. William scuttled backwards until his back hit the door behind him, face contorted in horror. “Begone from me, I’ll have none of you!!”
Behind his mask, Belos rolled his eyes. How silly of him, he’d forgotten his brother was Like This. Unwarrantedly, as he often was, though egregiously so in this case. There was nothing in his castle that would suggest anything particularly religious, much less anything that could invoke the image of Lucifer—
…mm. Belos surreptitiously glanced around the room himself now, then down at his clothes. Upon second thought, actually…
He shook his head. He could address whatever subconscious damage that symbolized later – there were more pressing things to deal with now. He resumed his tread towards his brother, sighing, “William, calm down—”
Looking more and more frantic with his continued approach, William began reciting (very quickly, and at a pitch higher than his normal speaking voice): “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name—”
“—thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven—”
“William for pity’s sake—”
“—give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive—”
Belos growled, dropping down to William’s level and seizing him by the shoulders. “William would you stop it, it’s me.” (Rather apart from doing as asked, William’s voice just rose another two octaves: “—as we forgive those who trespass against us—!!”) Belos hesitated just the barest of moments, then reached up to undo his mask and pull back his hood.
“William,” he repeated, “it’s me.”
“—lead us— not into… into temptation… b-but…”
“‘But deliver us from evil, amen,’” Belos finished tonelessly. “Are you finished now?”
William stared at him, uncomprehending (or rather, perhaps, comprehending just fine, but not presently possessing the ability to do anything about it). “Philip…?”
Belos’s brow furrowed at the use of his birth name, but he supposed he could ignore it for now. “Only took you a short eternity to work that out,” he huffed instead, rising to his feet once more.
“Philip what…” William began falteringly, once more glancing around as Belos moved to replace his mask on his face. When William looked back to him, there was a strange, undefinable edge to his voice as he spoke. “Philip, what have you done?”
…come fucking again.
“‘What have I done,’” Belos repeated flatly. Then, tone rising, “‘What have I done’?!”
Hunter was drawn to the portal room by the sounds of a rising argument. Major cause for alarm as far as he was concerned – the only person who had clearance to be in the portal room at the moment was his uncle. If he’d invited someone else down there with him, fine, but if he’d invited them, why were they yelling?
Even more concerning, he also could clearly make out his uncle yelling, which just wasn’t something that happened. Emperor Belos was a man who rarely raised his voice above what was considered polite, preferring let his words showcase his displeasure, not the volume of them. It was so rare, in fact, Hunter couldn’t even call up a memory of it.
He was yelling now, though. Which was why Hunter was racing towards the portal room like the seat of his pants were on fire. He doubted his uncle would need any help with whatever was happening (“most powerful witch to ever live” and all), but if he did he would be there to give it.
…along with some others, unfortunately. About halfway down to the room he ran into Kiki, heading in the same direction, likely with the exact same intent he had. He offered her a glare (she glared back), but rather than make any kind of comment he just put on an extra burst of speed and kept his course.
(Life must just be so darn hard having such tiny legs, he suspected.)
He reached the door to the portal room first (Kiki wasn’t far behind, but still: ha!). He threw it open, fully prepared to launch himself at whatever was bothering his uncle—
—it was him. He was looking at himself. Well— not exactly, it— they were taller, obviously older— was this some sort of – of— mind-screwy illusion—??
“You look just like your father,” his uncle had told him once, his voice quiet and heavy and distant and, Hunter could tell, sad. He felt bad for asking about his parents at all.
Hunter’s heart was racing as he stared, and it wasn’t because he’d been running.
A/N: I know technically I have no proof this is an AU yet, but for this to not be an AU they’ll essentially be ripping off A Tale of Two Stans from Gravity Falls, just making it Evil. Which... considering the multiple links between it and Owl House, people would definitely notice. But with that in mind, I saw no reason not to lean into the similarities a little bit, hence the less-than-snuggly reunion between the brothers here.
For more... insight? context? on the situation here, here’s this.
Also, y’know what? Have some technical stuff because I’d actually taken the time to reason them out:
Why didn’t B’s portal work? Because with the combined damage done to the portal and the key, it was only able to go halfway between realms, similar to Luz’s makeshift portal in Yesterday’s Lie.
How come Bel was able to look in and see the weird halfway realm from his side of the portal when all Luz could see was a galaxy screensaver? He’s working with more refined materials (broke and busted though they are) so he was allotted a better vantage point. (Plus if Luz had seen it wasn’t the human realm first thing she wouldn’t have jumped in and we’d be short an episode, and if B couldn’t see I’d’ve been down a whole dramatic build-up. So narrative purposes factor in too.)
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