Eternal Ch. 07byFeotakahari©
Gay warning again. (It kind of bugs me that I have to do this--I've never seen anyone give a lesbian warning--but I guess it's considered weirder for a guy to read guy-on-guy than for a girl to read girl-on-girl.)
With the sound of a pop, Randall found himself inside the office building again. It was night by then, but he could still hear sounds outside--a crowd had gathered in the wake of the carnage, and it had not entirely dispersed.
"The police came in here, too," a voice said from behind him. "Good thing I had a spare suit--I claimed I'd managed to hide, and hadn't seen anything, and they left me alone again. They didn't even ask about the blood on the floor. I think they're aware this is one case they can't solve."
Randall turned to find Neil behind him, staring at the floor. You're hard to catch off guard, aren't you, kid? he asked. Then again, that's pretty common in people who've had to deal with Judith.
"I don't know about that. I'm not really sure who Judith is."
I should have seen that coming. It's been less than half a month since the portals reopened, and from the sounds of it, she's hated you for years. You must have known her by a different name, back when she was still human.
"I still don't get what's going on. Is Judith the thing with its eyes sewn shut? It showed up at my back door, three nights before Valentine's Day."
Wait, what? No, but that's Judith's shtick--she sews shut the eyes of the demons she controls. Damn, she must really be after you, if the first thing she did after the portals opened was send someone to kill you. At that point, none of us even knew what was going on. He had a sudden realization. You didn't hurt that demon, did you, kid? It seems to be easier to break Contracts if you're in a different world than the Contract-holder--if she's still alive, and she hasn't killed you, we may have a truly free demon on our hands.
"I slammed the door, and she ran away. Now, could you please tell me what this is all about?"
-- -- -- --
For a very long time, Randall answered Neil's questions--first about his world, then about himself. At Neil's urging, he told a story of his past, casting Belial as a ruthless criminal, and himself as a policeman who died trying to bring him to justice. (It might even have been true, had he been able to remember.) Neil followed up with stories of his own life, somewhat less exciting, but with a certain dry humor.
It was Neil who ultimately cut it short. "I don't think you came here just to tell stories, demon. What's your plan for me?"
I'm hoping I can somehow use you to kill Belial, Randall replied. I've given you a bit of demonic power, but you're not under his control, and if you kill him, I'll be free.
"There's one thing you're missing. Why should I do this? I mean, you're nice for a demon, but I don't want to risk my life for you."
It's all about the carrot and the stick, kid. Let's start with the stick, since I'm more sure of it. Hop on one foot.
Neil strained for a moment, but he hopped five steps before Randall told him to stop.
That right there is the Contract. I'm bound to one too, and Belial ordered me to be at his side whenever he needs me. He's asleep now, and I have someone anchoring the teleport to bring me back--he hadn't told Grace where he was going, but she seemed to trust him--but even in this world, I'm not strong enough to break free.
"So if you tell me to kill Belial, I've got to do it. God, I really am a wimp, getting myself into this position."
If there's one thing I've learned from Belial, it's that giving people orders isn't enough. If they hate you, they'll find some way to twist your words. Kid, you have something I've never found before, and I think I may have something you want as well. The last time you saw me, what did you feel?
"I thought you were going to kill me. I tried to be brave, but then I couldn't . . ."
That wasn't my question. What did you feel? Was it like what I felt?
Neil struggled with the words. "When you called me 'kid,' I began to remember something--I'm still not sure what. It was like there was something inside me, something that controlled me. And then you made the cuts, and I felt . . . purer. You weren't hurting me, you were hurting the thing. I felt like I finally had a chance at Heaven."
You're not the first guy I've known who likes it rough, kid, but I've never met anyone who likes it quite that rough. There's so much pain in you, and so much sorrow, but at the same time, there's something strange--maybe even beautiful. When this is all over with, I'd like to help you find it.
For once, Neil looked him directly in the eye. "You're weird, you know that?"
As a demon, I'm amazed to have found a new form of pain. As a man . . . Well, it's basically the same.
It appeared that he'd finally found a way to catch Neil off guard. "That--that doesn't matter. I mean, you're a demon. I'm not gay, and this would be gay if you were a man instead of a demon."
Randall didn't bother responding to that in words. Instead, he moved closer, and ran his knife-tongue along Neil's cheek, not quite piercing the skin. Neil stood appropriately still, but Randall was certain he was trying not to shudder. Randall tried the other cheek, this time making a shallow cut, and he was rewarded with a sudden blast of this strange pain.
Better not spend too much time doing this, Randall told Neil. It takes twenty minutes to charge up to teleport, and I need to get back before Belial knows I'm gone.
"Just one more," Neil insisted, and Randall obediently matched the lines on Neil's cheeks, even as they vanished again.
Randall did not say goodbye--he had long since lost track of formalities--but he offered Neil one last promise before he began to concentrate.
When Belial's dead, we'll be able to do this whenever we want. I'm not sure how we'll manage, but I'll find a way.
Neil, too, had something to say. "That demon with the sewn-shut eyes could be useful to us. I think I know where she's hiding. If I'm right, I'll bring her tomorrow night."