"Under New Management" by NobodyAtAll

Note: this story takes place after the events of “Hell on Earth”. There are spoilers.

Xavier Laine steps out of the elevator, and heads to the office at the top floor of Faucheuse Tower.

The office that used to belong to his friend, Pierre.

It’s been a couple of months since the Invasion. Since literal demons overran the city.

Pierre, having gotten all of his affairs in order, announced his retirement last week. He’s already moved into the cabin with Nikola and Audrey. He’s told Xavier he’s free to blip in whenever he wants, as long as Xavier calls ahead.

Pierre is still running the Cabal, however, because Deston isn’t back from his vacation yet. Sorcière and Merlin are with Deston. Sorcie’s never been to the Outer Plane of Arcadia before.

Today, Xavier is meeting with with the new CEO of FauCorp.

He’s already met her before, and her sister.

But this is the first time that he’s meeting Susan Stoley, Pierre’s youngest child, as the CEO.

While Pierre will soon retire from the Cabal too, he will always be happy to help his friends, and his daughters have joined the Cabal in his place. They both care about fluffies as much as their father does, and will ensure that FauCorp’s mission to better fluffykind comes first.

They’re already the richest family on Earth, so making a profit is just a bonus.

If Xavier could be completely honest, he’s a bit nervous about this meeting.

Not because Susan scares him. Oh no. She’s a very warm and friendly woman, though she’s also a shrewd businesswoman, and she can be scary when she’s angry. But she’s got a lot of patience.

No, the reason he’s nervous about this meeting is the same reason he’s nervous every time he’s met Susan.

And that’s because he’s in love with her. She’s a decade or two younger than him, he thinks, but she is a rather attractive woman. The Faucheuses are known for having very attractive features. Pierre and Deston are both quite handsome, despite their age.

Though, of course, Xavier knows their secret.

Susan doesn’t know how Xavier feels about her, however.

And Xavier doesn’t know that the feeling is mutual. He thinks he’d never have a chance.

Xavier reaches the door, and pushes the buzzer.

On a screen above the door, the face of the new CEO appears.

“Ah, Xav. I’ve been waiting for you. Come inside.”

Xavier manages not to react to the accidental double entendre, that most people probably wouldn’t even notice, as the doors swing open.

Good thing he’s not wearing baggy pants today.

Xavier enters the familiar office, which has gone through some changes.

The old painting of the Faucheuse brothers and their parents is gone, and is now hanging in Pierre’s cabin. In its place hangs a new painting of equal size:

Pierre, Deston, Susan, her older half-sister Valerie, and Susan and Valerie’s first cousin once removed Sorcière, along with Calvin Korkea, who is like a son to Pierre, all smiling.

“Do you like it, Xav? Uncle Des painted it for me, as a present. To commemorate my new promotion. It was the last thing he did before he went on vacation.”

Susan, seated at the desk, gives Xavier a warm smile.

While both Susan and Valerie have black hair like their respective mothers, Valerie’s is sleek and shiny, while Susan has the signature frizz of the Stoley family.

Yeah, both of Pierre’s wives had black hair. He has a type. He actually agrees with Victor that Helen Oldman is, to put it as Victor did, a tasty dish, but unlike Victor, Pierre is not a cad. And she’s happily married. Pierre’s always been a bit of a prude, after all. You should remember how he reacted to Tommy and Maria Fonda’s invitation.

But, to get back on topic, Susan and Valerie both have the trademark Faucheuse bone structure that makes them look so much more haughtier and aloof than they really are.

“Wait, but how could he paint it if he was pose-- oh, right. Magic.”

Xavier sits down on the other side of the desk.

“Yes, it was actually quite amusing. But I didn’t laugh, because I’ve seen it before. You know, a lot of those paintings uncle Des has hanging in his Sanctum are his own work.”

“Really? Wow. I don’t think he’s ever mentioned that. I’ve seen those paintings, Des brought me there during, well, y’know.”

“Yes, he was fighting demons with one body and bringing everyone he could to the Sanctum with the other. He couldn’t save Lavender when James the Turd grabbed her, but she got out alright thanks to the ChaotiX.”

“When are Des, Sorcie and Merlin coming back, anyway?”

“Uncle Des sent us a spell saying they’d be back next week. They’ve been having a great time in Arcadia. They might go to Elysium next year.”

“Honestly, I’m still not used to all of this.”

Susan gives Xavier another smile to reassure him. Xavier’s heart skips a beat every time she smiles at him.

“You’ll get used to it eventually. I grew up in this world. So did Val. So. How are things going at Fluffywood, Xav?”

How are things going at Fluffywood? We haven’t touched on that in a while.

Well, things have been running smoothly since Bill, one of the AAs, got #MeToo’d for raping the younger AAs.

Since then, there haven’t been many incidents. A few minor ones, but nobody’s been retired. And they’ve stopped naming AAs after controversial actors.

The redesign for Dark Captain Fluffy has been generally well-received.

Calvin, who is now a personal friend of Xavier, got to give his opinion directly to the man himself.

“Honestly, I think the new design looks a bit over the top. And evil twins are so played out.”

Oh, if only Calvin knew.

Gary, the technician working in post, got let go a few days after we had seen him complaining about sound effects and his career choices. He was caught abusing one of the AAs. Yeah. He was that stupid. Fortunately, the AA wasn’t seriously hurt, and after both of the Faucheuse brothers treated her, she went back to work on the set.

A while after that, Gary went fluffy hunting with James, hoping to vent his frustrations about being fired.

Then Gary’s gun backfired on him.

James just left Gary there and ran. Gary soon bled out, and his body wasn’t found until after James had gotten life in prison for shooting up his college.

That’s the charge that finally got James executed. That, and killing a few of his fellow inmates during a prison riot. And two of the guards.

James was stupid enough to steal Gary’s wallet before he ran out on him.

And, even stupider, James dropped his college ID card as he was putting Gary’s wallet in his pocket, and James didn’t notice it was gone until he was back at school.

Even if James wasn’t directly responsible for Gary’s death, he did nothing to help him.

Gary wasn’t happy to see James when the school shooting bastard arrived Down There.

Xavier finishes his recap of recent events at Fluffywood.

“…Other than Bill getting #MeToo’d and Gary getting let go, nothing else out of the ordinary has happened.”

Susan’s eye twitches.

“Xavier. I know you just lied to me. And you know that’s my power.”

Yes, even Susan is X-Positive too. Her power is, as she said, that she can detect lies.

The poor woman has to wear a power dampener every time she watches a movie, otherwise her eye just won’t stop twitching, and the nagging sensation that she’s being lied to just won’t go away.

And imagine how hard dating is for her.

The upside, however, is that she’s never been screwed over in business negotiations.

“Well, there was one incident last week. A little one.”

Susan’s eye twitches again.

The week before, one of the AAs, Hayley, was making a public appearance outside Flufftopia.

Autographs were being signed, photos were being taken, and, unbeknownst to Xavier, a wily stray passing by got a look at the very pretty mare, blended into the crowd, and bided his time.

Xavier went inside for five minutes.

When he heard the noise, and the gasps it caused, he came running.

“Enf! Enf! Enf! Enf! Enf! Gud feews!

“Oh, you horny little bastard. You do not rape the AAs!”

“Wut am ayy ayys?”

The horny little bastard never found out.

“…Fortunately, Hayley had taken a No-Foals Treat that morning, so a disaster was averted.”

Another twitch.

“Okay, so her caretaker forgot to give her the No-Foals Treat that morning, and he had to give her a Bye Bye Tummeh Babbehs Treat. But I fired the guy who messed up!”

Yet another twitch.

“Okay, he’s still working there! But I gave him a stern lecture. And put him on litterbox duty for the rest of the month.”

No twitch.

“Y’know, Suzy, I lo-- like you, but if we’re gonna be meeting like this, I think you should be wearing a dampener, because this is driving me crazy.

Susan smiles again, this time mischievously.

“Is it my fault that you weren’t telling the truth?”

Xavier can’t help but laugh.

“That’s fair. I’m sorry, Suzy. We’re going to be working together, so you’re right, I should be honest with you. Listen, it’s been great, but I’ve got to run. We’re working on the script for the Fluffzilla movie.”

“And I need to go downstairs and see how my dear sister is doing. Shall we go down together?”

If Xavier had been drinking something right now, he would comically spit it out. Instead, he just splutters and falls out of his chair.

Susan hurriedly continues, as Xavier gets back up.

“I meant go down on the elevator, Xav.”

“Oh, right.”

With a push of a button, the office doors open.

As Xavier and Susan walk through it, their shoulders bump against each other, and both of them blush.

As they try to pretend that it didn’t happen, and wait for the elevator, they make some small talk.

“Xav, we talk about my family all the time, but you’ve never really said much about your family.”

“There’s not really much to say. My dad ran out before I was born, all I got from him was his surname. My mother died when I was young. Brain cancer. And then my grandfather raised me. His parents were Holocaust survivors. Grandpa died shortly after I graduated from college. Top of my class. He was so proud.”

As Xavier wipes a tear from his eye, Susan continues.

“And I’ve never really asked, but how old are you?”

“I’m turning 52 soon.”

“52? Wow. You do not look it. I thought you were around my age. Well, my physical age.”

Xavier knows that all of the Faucheuses enjoy an extended lifespan, due to various methods.

Susan privately thinks that her genetics would get along with Xavier’s like chocolate and peanut butter.

“And how old are you, Suzy?”

Susan winks.

“Don’t you know that it’s rude to ask a woman that, Xav?”


The elevator doors open, and Xavier and Susan step inside.

They both blush again when their hands brush up against each other, as they both reach for the buttons at the same time.