Because Pyramid Head don't get no respect.
This fanfic goes out to Pyramid Head, who never gets to tell his side of the story. I salute thee, sir.
James Sunderland wanted to die.
He didn't think it was that unreasonable of a request, really. Wasn't it what he was here for? His Mary...his dear sweet Mary...he deserved to die. He deserved to die, deserved to go to Hell, deserved to suffer.
"Excuse me? 'Scuze me! Can I get some ice in this, please?"
Then again, maybe he was in Hell.
"Thanks, Tina," said the executioner as the bartender dropped a few ice cubes from its chest cavity into his drink. As it staggered away, he leaned closer to James and whispered conspiratorially. "Always forgets the ice, Tina. It makes no sense, really-I mean, iced tea, ice...it's pretty obvious. But she's such a sweet girl, I can't hold it against her."
James stared blankly at the mold-covered chunks of flesh that had fallen into Pyramid Head's drink and nodded.
"She's putting herself through college, you know. Plenty of people laughed at her, said she couldn't be a surgeon without hands, but did that stop her? No, sir! She just picked up that scalpel with her autopsy incision and started saving lives! People complain, sure, but like I said to her, a little cocoa butter and a positive attitude should clear those multiple lacerations right up..."
He had expected more burning, like the nightmare he had watched Angela ascend into. Burning he could handle. It would at least dry out his socks.
"...and you'd think the doctors over there would be more supportive, what with all those staff members getting clubbed to death with a steel pipe-say, you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? No? Well, anyway, you'd think they'd need the help--"
"Pyramid Head," James interrupted, a note of desperation in his voice. "Stop talking."
"This...isn't right. You're here to punish me...for my...sins..." James trailed off, staring at the long, black tongue that had dropped into his drink. Pyramid Head withdrew it apologetically.
"Just wanted a taste. Sorry, what were you saying? Sins?" He rolled his tongue into his own glass.
"My wife. Mary. I...I killed her." The truth was horrible enough to tear James' eyes from the creature's proboscis. "I was weak, and selfish....and tired..." He lowered his head in shame. "I didn't want her there anymore. I killed her."
"Ohhhh, that." The executioner thought for a moment, sucking an ice cube up the length of his tongue into a slot in his helmet. "Well, you seem sorry."
James waited. Pyramid Head crunched on his ice.
"That's all. You learned your lesson. I mean, you're not going to try that one again...are you?" He teasingly shook an accusatory finger at James. Teasingly! Despite his earlier musings on suicide, James was starting to fear for his life.
"B-but, you tried to kill me before! You threw me off a roof!"
"You didn't read anything into that, did you?" He clapped James companionably on the back. "That was just a bit of fun! Er, are you all right? Have a drink, you'll feel better..."
A drink wasn't about to restore feeling to James' shoulder, but he didn't have the heart to say so. Instead, he sipped at his glass and asked the question he'd been carefully wording for the past half-hour.
"Why did you swim to the bottom of Toluca Lake, wrench me out of the wreckage of my car, and drag me all the way back to the Lucky Jade?"
"I haven't paid my tab at Neely's lately and Spencer said last time I was there that if I don't have money NEXT time I'm there he'll get Liz to follow me around kicking me in the head."
"Are you joking? No, of course you aren't. My God, that's even scarier."
James was standing now, ready to run and wishing for his beloved wooden plank. And Pyramid Head...he couldn't actually look hurt, he didn't have a face. But no, the tone was there in his voice when he spoke.
"You don't have to be scared of me. I didn't do anything. I saved you, remember?"
"I didn't want to be saved," James muttered blankly, staring at the man. Was he a man? He supposed he was, if only from the neck down. He was certainly male, at any rate.
One thought triggered another, a gruesome memory James had tried in vain to block out, and he took another step backwards. "You have done something! You...did those awful things to...dear God, you're a monster!"
There was a moment's silence from the demon, and James, belatedly and in horror, remembered Eddie. What was it he'd said to himself? 'James, you are never, ever going to provoke an insane murderer again'? Something like that. He staggered back and groped for a weapon.
Half a syllable cut through the ringing in James' ears. "What?"
"Are you talking about the girls?" Pyramid Head asked patiently.
James raised his hand, ready to stab, unsure of what he was hearing. "...what?"
"The girls...you DID see us, didn't you? Oh, this is embarrassing..."
James' arm, still running on autopilot, brought the object in his hand down on the executioner's helmet. Embarrassing? How could this abomination possibly be embarrassed?
"They were pestering me, and I know they get lonely, and I hated to just...er." Pyramid Head blinked. "Why did you just hit me in the face with a saltshaker, Mr. Sunderland?"
By a stroke of luck, the words 'Mr. Sunderland' landed in a puddle of alcohol upon entering James' brain, so he didn't completely break down. The wheels, however, began grinding. "That...the mannequins, and the other...thing...that was...consensual?"
"They don't have hands," Pyramid Head muttered, and smoke started rising from James' inner machinery as he realized the creature was blushing. "They need...help."
"Help." The ringing in his ears had turned to an industrial whine.
The executioner glanced to make sure the bartender wasn't nearby, then whispered guiltily. "I don't like it very much. They get excited, and, well, things get a little too rough for my tastes."
"Your tastes." He was absolutely motionless for a moment. Then, slowly, the gears began turning again. James had an awful feeling that they were going in reverse.
Blushing harder (How? How was he doing it? He was doing it, James was sure of it), Pyramid Head leaned even closer. "What I really like is..."
James nodded serenely to the furtive whispers. "Uh-huh. Like with a feather?"
"Not so loud!" hissed Pyramid Head, covering his lack of a face with his hands.
James continued to nod. He felt perfectly calm. This situation was one he could handle.
"Mr. Sunderland! Wait!"
James tugged fiercely at the door. He might deserve death, but this was too much. He had suffered his way through limitless misery and light puzzles, and now he was getting out of this town, and he was getting out there and then, and back to Hell with the inhabitants, and he turned to tell the man so...
For the first time, instead of seeing a monster, James saw a man. A man who wanted nothing more than a friend. A man who seemed somehow piteous with pepper spilling down the sides of his helmet. A man with a pyramid for a head, sure, but a man.
A man who was also paying the bar tab.
James slowly put down the remains of the pepper shaker down and walked back over to the table. "Sorry. Cockroach."
Pyramid Head nodded. "They get big around here."
James Sunderland wanted to die.
Forcing bilious eyes open, he stared bleakly out the window. A bird sat on the neighboring roof, regarding James and his massive hangover with equal interest. He thought it was a bird, anyway. Never mind that it was seven feet tall, it was chirping and flapping its massive arms, it was a bird. Too early in the morning for anything else. Even it was late afternoon.
James closed his eyes and sunk back into the pillows with a groan. What had he done last night? It had involved a lot of alcohol, whatever it was. And karaoke. He had no idea where the song "Raining on Samhain" could have come from, but he certainly had found it amusing.
What else? Being kicked out of places, yes, many places, and making crank calls on a phone that, now that he was sober, he imagined didn't work. Phones never worked in this place. Wherever this place was. Had he pissed on a cop car? He thought he had. Fell on his face, too. Only way to explain those cuts.
He shrugged mentally and settled back. Maybe last night had been wild, but at least he could sleep off his headache. If the bird would shut up, that was. Fuck, it sounded like someone had clapped a metal bucket on his head and was beating on the-
Metal. Bucket. Head.
James Sunderland sat bolt upright and began to scream.
There had been arguing, of course. Samael had gone into a terrible fit, ranting about irresponsibility and tradition and duty and physical impossibility, but had to give up in the end. The evidence was, after all, right in front of him. And so it was that Pyramid Head sat on a couch in an apartment in Woodside, surrounded by his friends, most of whom were being uncomfortable.
"Oh, it's absolutely lovely!" he gushed, holding up a small blanket with bloodstains in the shape of rabbits on the front. "Did you make it yourself, Liz?"
The mannequin bobbed an upper leg in the general direction of another creature. "Rob helped."
"I got the blood, that's all," he muttered, trying to disappear beneath his bedframe.
"It's beautiful! Thank you so much, you two."
"We wanted to help out any way we could, big guy," Liz shifted closer to look at the tangle of metal and flesh nestled in the carriage next to Pyramid Head. "He's...uh...cute."
"He's a helmet with tentacles and eyes."
"Shut up, Rob."
"He really is, isn't he?" Pyramid Head wrapped the blanket around the larva, beaming.
"A helmet with tentacles and eyes?"
"Shut UP, Rob."
"He's adorable," agreed the nurse, noting the blissful oblivion in the father's eyes. Mother's? She let her mind go blank; some things didn't bear thinking about. "Er, have you thought of a name?"
"I sure have!"
"That's wonderful! What is it?"
Almost too proud to speak, Pyramid Head spoke. "James Junior!"
"I'm dying of originality over here."
"SHUT UP, Rob."
"By the way," Pyramid Head looked over at an underhanger, who flapped his arms passively. "Is something wrong with Mortimer?"
Several blocks away, Cybil Bennet brandished a hose, scowling. "Stupid kids," she grumbled, and began to wash her car.
~which is fancy talk for "you can go now"