Reverse Mode II - Popular Monster

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Possession - Day 1

Arlo woke up in a cold sweat, jolting upright in his bed and rapidly scanning the walls, displaying no clear recollection of his surroundings and muttering to himself at what he saw. His muttering only intensified when he looked down at the hoodie he was sleeping in. This, obviously, would not do. He located the closet on an adjacent wall, got out of bed, and approached it.

On his way there, an odd shape on the floor caught his eye. He picked it up to find it was some sort of headband bearing an iridescent black band from which two wolf ears covered in glittery black faux fur protruded. It wasn't his usual style, but he found it compelling, so he donned it and adjusted it around his ponytail. Once he looked into the closet, he browsed through the hangers, only to find himself frustrated that it just contained various formal outfits and the official Team Rocket admin uniform, so he turned to the boxes down below. One marked "Orre Stuff" seemed promising, so he opened it and produced a tolerable outfit, consisting of a somewhat worn shirt featuring the tagline from Fashionably Late, a pair of black jeans with buckles across their legs, and a spiked choker and matching set of bracelets on either wrist. He looked at himself in the mirror and found this presentation satisfactory, but something seemed...missing. After a brief sojourn to the kitchen, in which he grabbed and rapidly consumed a protein bar to give himself the bare minimum of sustenance, he picked up a box of permanent markers from Cliff's craft supplies and decorated his arms, chest, and other areas of exposed skin with choice designs.

Now that he'd gotten himself breakfast and an acceptable outfit, it was time for work. He checked the schedule on his phone to find that today, he needed to check in at the downtown complex to pick up a new shipment of the Shadow Pokemon formula and deliver it to the main Team GO Rocket leader building. He got in his car and took the most efficient route to the downtown complex, approached his lab, grabbed a black lab coat from a hook on the wall that he proceeded to put over his shirt, and approached Jet for the news. His research assistant, her normally face-covering dyed forest green hair tied back while she worked with volatile chemicals, looked up and down his body, pausing on the designs he'd drawn on his face and the choker on his neck, and shook her head.

"Nope. We're not doing this."

"Doing what?"

"I'm willing to work with Arlo. I'm not working with this."

"I am not a 'this'." He growled slightly at the end of his sentence. Who did she think she was to be disrespecting him so blatantly?

"You know, the spikes and the...drawing on your face I can sort of understand, but what's with the headband? It doesn't match the rest of you and if you're trying to do a Popular Monster reference, the tattoo designs are anachronistic."

Arlo stared blankly at Jet, his eyes narrowed. Whatever she was going on about, he wasn't in the mood for it.

"You know what, why don't you take the day off? Go hang out with your boyfriend and deal with...that. I can handle the takeovers and routine lab stuff for today."

"I'm your boss. You don't get to tell me when I can --"

"I'm giving you express permission to ditch work and hang out with Spark. Are you really going to say no? If the admins ask, I'll tell them you're sick. Since clearly something's wrong."

Whatever had just happened, he wasn't going to object. After all, he had official permission to spend time with his boyfriend. Without any announcement, he pulled up at Instinct HQ and texted Spark that he'd surprisingly gotten work off and was available to hang out. The other leader, upon getting his text, grabbed their backpack and bounded downstairs to the parking garage, beaming at the sight of his boyfriend. Arlo, too, was fond of him, seeing the pure joy in his face. Spark truly loved him, despite all of his flaws. They didn't have the slightest idea of the darkness that lay within him, or anyone, really. They had the capacity to see the good in everyone because they hadn't had the notion coldly snuffed out by reality. They'd approach someone who self-identified as evil and whose soul was made of darkness and blood-tipped knives, take him in, do his laundry, and give him a hug.

This wasn't sustainable. It was time that he taught Spark about the true state of his internal and external world.

"Hello, Spark. Come with me. I have a surprise for you."

"Great, I love surprises! Nice, uh, cosplay, although I thought the anime con was next week? I don't mind, though, the spikes are kinda...doing things for me, so if you're available tonight..."

"Oh, that was exactly what I was planning. First, we need to stop for supplies."

Arlo keyed in the address for a nearby "adult fantasy store" on his phone's map app and the couple set off in his car. Spark noticed that he wasn't playing music at the same volume as usual and attempted to make small talk several times, only to get terse answers. Evidently, Arlo was supremely focused on whatever he intended to get, which only made Spark more excited. That night was going to be great!

Once they arrived at the store, the proprietor, a woman with graying brown hair whose name placard coupled with a she/her pronoun pin identified her as Gladys, waved at them and invited them over to the cashier.

"Oh, you must be Spark and Arlo! Blanche talks about you all the time."

Arlo stood back and hesitated. Spark was also confused, but approached. "Uh, I didn't know you knew Blanche, but yeah, we are. Arlo's my boyfriend and he said he had a surprise for me!" Spark beamed and pushed Arlo forward to show him off and emphasize his statement.

"Oh, yeah, Blanche is in my book club. We meet every month to discuss mystery novels and drink tea. Anyway, it's so nice to finally put a face to a name! You boys have fun and let me know if you need anything!"

Spark and Arlo stood there once Gladys returned to the back room, stunned. Spark was the first to comment.

"Well, that was odd. Good to hear Blanche has a social life outside of us, though, right?"

"Go back to the car."


"I'll make my selections and then meet you. After all, we can't spoil the surprise, right?"

Spark was a bit tense at first at Arlo's cold tone and lack of reaction to his comment about Blanche, but he relaxed when he softened up at the end. Clearly this was all part of some fun roleplay thing he had planned, and he knew that Arlo always went all out for this kind of thing so there were no hard feelings. He cheerfully went back to the car and played games on his phone until Arlo returned, bearing an extremely nondescript brown paper bag. He launched a devilish smile at Spark before they drove back to his headquarters in silence, leaving them to speculate about what he had planned.

Once they arrived in Arlo's room, he wasted no time. He directed Spark to lay down on the bed, removed his hoodie and shirt, and produced a choker from the nondescript paper bag. Its design was overall simplistic: a thin black faux-leather band with a single charm at its center of an inverted pentagram inscribed in a heart. On the back, its clasp contained a lock, which Arlo produced and turned a key for, leaving Spark unable to remove it. Arlo sat up, still on top of him, smiled in that inhumanly wide way he did, and caressed Spark's exposed neck.

"You see, Spark, I have tasted your blood. From this point forward, we are bonded. As far as you're concerned, you belong to me. By the way, is that too tight? Let me know and I can adjust it. Also, there's a failsafe button next to the clasp if you need to take it off for an emergency."

"Ah, so we're doing a vampire thing? Okay, sir. You can bite me all you like."

After that, a night of tightening various chains and harnesses, tracing the lines of Arlo's permanent marker tattoos, and dramatic monologues about fate, ownership, and constricting red strings ensued. Spark remained relaxed through the whole scenario. Sure, Arlo had been acting oddly that day, but it was clearly all in preparation for this. His boyfriend was going to be fine, and hey, the combination of passion and ruthless efficiency and enthusiasm to bite he displayed was pretty hot. Spark wouldn't have minded seeing that side of him more often.

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