Chapter 11 – The Healer
The feeling had gotten worse upon her arrival back at the school. Lalia had headed home as quickly as possible. At first she’d tried looking for Ethan but quickly realized that using her eyes would not be the most effective choice. She’d paused half of the way home and found a tree, sheltering her back against it she had closed her eyes…and she had wished. She had put as much strength as she could into finding Ethan. Even better, bringing him to her.
His voice cut through the air and she opened her eyes. That hadn’t even taken more than a minute of thought. “Did it work?” she asked.
Ethan nodded, smiling warmly at her. “If you’re referring to your calling to me…yeah, it worked. Really well.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder, “I was just wandering around trying to make sure there was nothing too dangerous in the neighborhood and then it was like a beacon.”
“You teleported?” she asked. “You can do that?”
Ethan shrugged, “Most demons can though you have to have a place in mind. Though since you’re my master I could just…focus on appearing for you. So, what’s the problem?” He glanced around, “Doesn’t look like you’re in danger….did you just want to see me?”
Lalia shook her head. He had been smiling like things were all right but she knew that they weren’t. “I felt something at the school,” she said, “I couldn’t…place where it was coming from but I felt it. Something…malicious…” She lifted a hand, gripping at the base of her scarf anxiously. “I tried to tell Salvador but…I couldn’t get him alone.”
Ethan rolled his eyes, “Figures. Honestly he’s been coasting on that stupid necklace of yours. It’s a wonder he can use any magic at all given how lazy he’s been.”
“Ethan,” Lalia said, looking up and into the eyes of the other, catching them and holding them in a strong gaze, “I might be upset with him…for what he did but…I don’t hate him. He had his reasons…he wasn’t doing it to be cruel. He was wrong but…his intentions were good. I don’t…” She paused and took in a breath, “I want to become friends with him again. I think I’ll need him. I need you too. Something inside…tells me you’re both important.”
Ethan stared back into her eyes. She watched the grey irises move as he examined her. “I understand,” he said with a nod, “I’m not saying I’m going to let him off the hook. Angels have attitudes that most of us demons find irritating…but…I’m willing to give him a chance on your behalf.”
Lalia smiled. She wasn’t sure how she’d managed to get a demon like this on her side. She knew he was as well. Today had confirmed that for her entirely. The presence in the school had definitely been a hellish and demonic energy. It had the same base feeling as being around Ethan. However that base feeling was the only similarity. The feeling in the school had been full of something else…something powerfully evil and cruel. There was a desire to cause pain in it. Ethan gave off an entirely different feeling. He was a demon but…she couldn’t sense any malice or desire to hurt coming from him.
Together they headed back to the school. Once there Ethan paused outside of the school grounds. There were still people this far away chatting. He turned towards her, “I can feel it…” he confirmed, “Definitely a demon hiding its presence.”
“Do you know where?” she asked.
“I’ll have to get closer. Us demons don’t really hide from one another but this one is definitely subduing his presence. It’s a real testament that you were able to sense something was wrong. I doubt your angel friend has any idea. I’ll go in the school and see if I can find it and come back out. I can probably fake being a wandering demon and not rouse any suspicion.”
“Should I come in too?”
“First of all, you’re not able to be invisible…or at least…you haven’t had the practice,” Ethan shook his head, “Also, we don’t want the demon to know how important you are. Hopefully they don’t already know. The best you can do right now is to focus on hiding yourself just in case. You need to focus on cloaking your own presence. Just like this demon is doing, hiding yourself so that they can’t spot you. Stay out here and focus on that while I go inside.”
“Cloaking my presence how?” Lalia asked.
“I can’t decide on your own magic,” Ethan shook his head, “But the crux of it is…you want to be invisible from those with malicious intent. Focus on that, okay?”
Lalia nodded. With that Ethan gave her a reassuring smile and turned towards the school. As Lalia watched him go she took a moment to figure out where she should settle herself. She decided on the bus stop. Then she would look like she was waiting for a bus. There were multiple ones who came to this spot so she wouldn’t attract attention if she let one pass her buy. Settling herself on the bench inside the bus shelter she placed her hands on her lap. Closing her eyes she tried to figure out what she should focus on.
Make me invisible. No…she didn’t want to be actually invisible. Don’t let demons notice me. That didn’t feel right either. It took a few different trains of thought before it crystallized within her mind. Hide me from those who would want to hurt me. I’m a normal girl. Don’t notice me. She repeated this like a mantra inside of her head, willing all of her being into making it so. She could feel that dark energy even more so now and she pressed herself into focusing on this spell more and more. If you want to hurt me you can’t see me. If you want to hurt me you can’t see me. The darkness coming from the school had somehow become even more overwhelming and she kept her eyes closed tightly. Focus. Focus.
Then it stopped.
As though a faucet had been turned off. The dark energy began to drain away and the source could no longer be felt. She opened her eyes and looked around a bit but could only see a few stray people walking back laughing to one another and chatting merrily. There was…nothing else. No other ill will to feel. It was as though it had vanished…leaving the lingering chill in the air from its previous presence. She swallowed and slowly stood up.
“Lalia.” Ethan’s voice rang inside of her head. “Lalia, go home and call me. Call me and focus on allowing no one to follow me. Do you understand?”
“…yes?” Lalia said aloud, not sure how he was speaking to her from so far away but then concluded…magic. She stepped out of the bus shelter just in time for a bus to be coming her way. She was only 4 stops away, perfect walking distance, but decided the bus would get her home sooner. She got on and took the short ride home. Upon arriving she quickly entered her house and shed all of her outer clothes to the floor before moving to the living room. From there she closed her eyes again and called on him. Ethan…bring Ethan here and let nothing of ill will follow him.
This time she opened her eyes in time to catch him appearing, a swirl of grey smoke inside of her living room and then he was standing there in human form. Draped over his shoulder was Salvador…
The young man was unconscious, hanging limp. Ethan had put one of the angel’s arms over his shoulder and was carrying him but the other was clearly out of it. Blood had dribbled from his mouth and his wrist hung from his other arm unnaturally.
“Oh my god Salvador!” Lalia nearly shrieked before clapping a hand over her mouth just in case neighbors heard. She watched in a panic as Ethan brought the Latino teen to the couch and draped him over it. “What happened?” she whispered to Ethan fretfully.
“There was a demon there,” Ethan responded grimly, “A powerful one, even stronger than I thought. Easily several ranks above me. If it weren’t for your naming he likely would have easily been able to chain me. He’d hidden himself well…it’s obvious angel boy here had no idea.”
“What do we do?” Lalia asked in a panic.
“I’m a demon,” Ethan said, “I don’t heal. I’d say you’ve got a better shot at it than me.” He leaned over the teenager, letting his fingers linger over parts of his body. “I’d say he probably hit his head pretty hard…that should be your first focus. Then broken bones…” He pressed gently into the boy’s ribs and elicited a groan of pain from the unconscious youth. “Broken for sure…same with the wrist,” he shook his head, “Damn…I was really hoping we wouldn’t have to deal with something so big right off the bat.”
Lalia ignored this last part, moving over to the arm of the couch. Gently she placed her hands on Salvador’s head, lacing her fingers through his hair. Heal. Heal. Fix him. Fix him. She strained. Using her small powers before she’d never really noticed a flow of power in her body but since yesterday she could feel it more and more. She could also see it, that sparkling golden glitter gathering on her limbs and sparkling. It was sparkling because she could feel it leaving, entering Salvador instead. Even still it didn’t feel right. It felt unbalanced. She focused first on his head, sensing out the flow of the energy she could feel moving from her hands. She pushed it forward until it felt like it was bouncing back. She then redirected it towards the rest of his body but…she was beginning to feel dizzy.
Before she knew it she could feel Ethan holding on to her, supporting her from behind. Looking up in a daze she realized she’d all but fallen backward. The world was swirling around her and she felt uncontrollably dizzy and weak.
“You need to learn when to stop,” Ethan chastised her but he was smiling, “Good job.”
“Thanks…” she said weakly, “I think…I need to practice that…”
“You’re worn out,” Ethan nodded, “You should take a nap.” Before she could protest he shook his head, “I’ll make sure you’re up before your parents get home. And him as well. Don’t worry.”
Nodding her head Lalia stood up straight and with some support walked to the stairs. From there she took the hand rail and slowly made her way up to her room. She didn’t even argue with it. She was so exhausted. A nap would do her well. She couldn’t even properly tuck herself into bed, instead simply crashing over the end of it and allowing herself to fall asleep.
Chapter 12 – The Guilt
Pain. Pain was the dominant thought in his mind. His chest hurt and his arm hurt though…his head was no longer throbbing. In fact his head felt decently okay. He could think somewhat straight and mostly that thought was the pain in the rest of his body. Though he was resting somewhat comfortably. There wasn’t the cold ground of the gymnasium floor beneath him but a soft, plush surface. Clearly he had gotten out of that place. The last thing he could remember was the hell hound entering the room. It had entered and then…defended him. Demons weren’t supposed to do that. He should have allied himself with Jacob. Together they could have easily taken Lalia. Instead…he had been the one who got a hand.
Salvador cracked his eyes open. Where was he? This didn’t look like the nurse’s room nor was it his own home. It took him a while to gather that it looked familiar because he had been here yesterday. Lalia’s home.
He blinked, opening his eyes wider and turning his neck to find that he was indeed in Lalia’s living room.
“You’re awake…that was fast.”
Ethan strode into the room carrying a mug of something and moved to sit on the coffee table across from where Salvador lay on the couch. Licking his dry lips Salvador cleared his throat, “What…happened?” he asked warily, not sure what had happened after he passed out.
“Lalia and I brought you here,” Ethan said nonchalantly as he lifted the mug to his lips and took a sip. He pulled a face, “Coffee grinds…” he commented off-hand. “You passed out…understandably so. Pretty sure you hit your head really hard…not to mention a few broken bones. How do you feel now? Lalia attempted a healing but it was her first time doing something so major.” He spoke so calmly and straight forward as though this were…fine.
It made Salvador feel a pang of guilt. “I don’t think my ribs are broken…” he said as he placed a hand to his rib cage and pressed. It was bruised, definitely heavily bruised, but no longer broken. It felt different from before. His wrist though still felt like it was in a lot of pain. “I think my wrist is broken still…” he said in pain as he tried not to move it.
“I’ll splint it,” Ethan said as he placed down the useless cup of coffee. “Wait here.” He left the room and returned shortly with the home first aid kit and a short handled broom from a dustpan. “This’ll have to do until Lalia is up.” Sitting back on the table he gently placed the broom next to Salvador’s arm, bristles outward, and using gauze began to splint the hand. He seemed absolutely impervious to Salvador’s bewildered stares.
“Why did you help me?” he asked then immediately gasped in pain as Ethan took this moment to lift his arm a bit to wrap the gauze underneath it.
“Wanna try that again?” Ethan asked, eyeing his face with a raised eyebrow.
Salvador grimaced, “We didn’t exactly leave as friends last night,” he elaborated, “I understand how you could resist Jacob…the demon’s control…but why help me?”
“I’ve decided on Lalia as my master,” Ethan shrugged, “And I don’t think she wants you dead. Plus, having you in a demon’s possession would be heaps inconvenient for protecting her. Not to mention…” he finished wrapping the gauze and tied it tightly, “I honestly think it’s better if we work as a team than as enemies.”
Salvador watched Ethan lean back on the coffee table. He had to admit the words made sense but it was still startling to believe that they were coming from a demon. It was a demon offering a deal of teamwork. That shouldn’t happen. Who was this demon? How was he able to resist all the inclinations of his kind and offer this sort of thing? Demons were supposed to hate angels and vice versa. Though…did he hate Ethan? He didn’t trust him.
Though, that distrust had lessened in the past hour. But still…a team? He felt his face grow hot and thankfully he didn’t have pale skin that could make it even more apparent than it likely already was. A quick glance at Ethan and he wondered if he perhaps caught a bit of a smirk. Or was that just a smile?
“I get it,” Ethan said, “This goes against the nature of heaven and hell itself. I don’t even know what is compelling me to offer it so casually. But…” he looked over his shoulder to the stairs, “Something led me to her. Call it fate or destiny but…I’ve had a rough go these past few years and she’s like a beacon of light in the dark.” He shrugged, “I’m willing to give it a shot. The rest is up to you.”
Salvador pressed his good arm down on the couch and scooted to sit up a bit. It hurt and it took a lot of gritting of teeth to not make a sound of pain while he did so. “I’m…willing to call a truce,” he said in a hushed voice, “I don’t know if I can accept you without…taking some serious though. But I’ll admit that I appear to have misjudged you.” He nodded his head, “I’ll accept you staying by her side but a team…I don’t know if I can do that. Not at the moment at least.”
Ethan shrugged, “You’re an individual. You do what you want.” He leaned forward, “That being said, you need to give Lalia some of that respect as well. She’s an individual who can make her own decisions. She doesn’t need shields, she needs support and education. I can’t teach her everything and I have a feeling that’s one of the reasons you’re here. You need to accept her as an equal, even if you don’t accept me.”
Salvador frowned but the demon had a definite point. He felt a great amount of guilt over what had happened. All this time he had been friends with a demon and ignored Lalia in public. He had been wrong. That had not been the way to protect her. He should have accepted her as the friend, spent time with her in public. “Was this…what she wanted to tell me at school today?” he asked with a wince.
“She sensed the demonic energy even though your friend was hiding it,” Ethan nodded, “She didn’t know the source though which is probably why she tried to approach you.” He pushed himself back up and grabbed his mug which was still mostly full of coffee. “It’s not just her that has things to learn it seems.” With that said he moved back to the kitchen and Salvador could hear him pouring the coffee down the drain.
He hated to admit it but the other was right. If he had gotten past his stupid embarrassment, he wouldn’t have been taken by surprise. He had to make a change in that regard. No…not just that regard. In a lot of ways. He tucked his arm close to his chest and swung his legs over the edge of the couch. Ethan returned from the kitchen and Salvador could hear the coffee machine going again.
“Lie back down and rest,” Ethan told him but he sounded more miffed than demanding. “Lalia is sleeping but she should be able to heal you more when she wakes up.”
Salvador shook his head. Honestly he felt like retreating right now with his tail between his legs. The concern of the demon was downright mystifying to him. “I have healing spells of my own,” he said with a nod, “I can patch myself up when I get home.” For the most part. Broken bones were tricky business so he likely would try and do it slowly over time to ensure he didn’t end up with something crooked. But he had to do it over the course of a few days because otherwise…he’d be unable to take Jacob on again.
“Before you go, I need some questions answered,” Ethan pointed out as he reached out and almost placed a hand on Salvador’s shoulder. A flinch from the angel caused him to retreat before the action could be completed. “That demon…you knew him. How?”
“He was…my friend I guess you could say,” Salvador admitted tensely, “He was pretending to be my friend for a few years.” He gritted his teeth, “I can’t believe I never sensed him. You were right…I allowed myself to get soft. To get sloppy.”
“You didn’t allow yourself,” Ethan shook his head, “You never had to deal with something like that before. First time for everything and he’s a powerful one. He hid his presence amazingly well. It’s simply a credit to Lalia’s powers that she was able to sense him at all. He was like a needle in a haystack.”
Salvador sighed. Once again it was a demon reassuring him. It felt bizarre but at the same time the words were indeed nice to hear. They didn’t alleviate him of the guilt he felt but they did help him quite a bit to not completely hate himself. All the same he wished he hadn’t just let life move by him like he was a normal person. He wasn’t a normal person.
“He knows where you live I assume,” Ethan cut through the silence.
That was a sickening thought. Salvador hadn’t even given that consideration. “…yes,” he responded softly. “He does…”
“So theoretically he could be waiting for you,” Ethan said, “And watch the direction from where you came.”
“So I can’t go home?” Salvador asked, “That puts my family in danger. I can’t just avoid my house.”
“Agreed,” Ethan said with a solemn and thoughtful nod. “I really think it’s best we wait for Lalia. Do you have the strength to create a protection spell as well as heal yourself? And hide yourself when you leave from here?”
Salvador’s face flushed hot once more and he tore his eyes away from the other with a pout. “No…” he admitted.
“Then we wait for Lalia,” Ethan said with a nod, “And anyway, she needs to start practicing her skills and see what she’s capable of. So lie back down, rest and I’ll make you a coffee or something.”
“Do you remember to put a filter in the machine or is it going to be full of grinds again?” Salvador asked, expression flat and accusatory.
“Put a what in the machine?” Ethan asked.
“Yeah, no thanks,” Salvador shook his head and pulled his legs back on to the couch. He laid his head back on the pillow and let his eyes drift shut. There was no headache at all. In fact his head felt perfectly fine. Lalia’s healing abilities were….really something. It was likely she could just be vague with her spells. He had to be a bit more specific since his were word based but she could just…heal. Basically. Waiting for her would indeed be the best thing for them to do. He was also intrigued to know how quickly she could tap back into her magic after using so much she needed a nap. It would be good exercise though. The more she utilized her abilities and drew magic from all around her the easier it would become.
He could hear Ethan muttering something as he left the room and returned to the kitchen. There was rummaging and a few curses of pain as he had likely decided to interrupt the coffee machine and see what the problem was. This did bring a soft smile to Salvador’s face for a moment.
Chapter 13 – The Waking
Lalia woke up groggily, through a haze, but mostly she felt…all right. She would have thought the exhaustion she had been feeling would have been coupled with extreme nausea when she woke. However she woke feeling more or less all right. Her mind was basically clear and besides still being a little tired she felt fine. She rolled to the side of the bed and cast her legs over the side. For a moment she pulled herself up into a seated position and just sat there contemplating how she felt. She’d have to experiment with doing things. When she had given Ethan powers she had only felt weak in the knees however after healing Salvador she’d needed to sleep.
Scrambling to her feet she practically tumbled down the stairs to the living room. Ahead of her she could see Ethan in the kitchen, working on something and muttering to himself.
“He’s trying to make coffee,” she heard an amused voice from the living room.
Turning her direction toward it she saw Salvador on the couch, he was still lying down but awake. He lifted his good arm and gave a small wave. “This is his…fourth attempt I think,” he chuckled. “You might want to help him out.”
“How are you…feeling?” she instead asked cautiously.
“I’m not going to die any time soon,” Salvador said, “Though that coffee machine might if he continues.”
“Shit!” Ethan called from the kitchen and there was a sound of falling coffee grinds across the counter.
Lalia smiled and moved into the kitchen, craning her neck to look at what he’d done.
“I put a filter thing in the past couple of times but there are still grinds in it!” Ethan said exasperated as he dropped the spoon he had in hand. “Plus it’s just…way too bitter.”
“Let me help,” Lalia chuckled, “First, if you forgot to include a filter the first time there’s likely grinds all over the place. We should run a few cycles with just water to clean it out. Then you have to balance the amount of coffee with the amount of water.” Over the next thirty minutes she guided him towards making an appropriate tasting cup of coffee, three cups to be precise.
Bringing them into the living room she watched Salvador rouse himself a little. “Finished?” he asked groggily.
“You can stay sleeping if you want,” she said as she placed the cup of coffee in front of him.
“No…I should probably go soon,” Salvador said, “Your parents will be home soon won’t they?”
Lalia checked the clock on the wall and shrugged, “Depends but yeah…maybe within the next couple of hours. What’s the plan?”
Salvador grunted as he pushed himself up into a seated position, “I need a favour,” he said plainly but avoided making eye contact. “There’s a possibility that Jacob might already be at my home. Or watching it. Waiting…”
“Jacob?” Lalia asked with coffee in hand. “Jacob….your friend Jacob? One of the most popular kids in school?” She could easily put two and two together by what he was saying and it was shocking to say the least. “Jacob was the demonic energy I felt? No wonder you didn’t want me close to you at school!”
“I….didn’t know he was a demon,” Salvador admitted sheepishly, hanging his head. “I didn’t know until this afternoon. He had hidden himself from me. I’m…sorry…I put you in danger this whole time by associating with him.”
“No that’s…that’s lucky isn’t it?” Lalia pointed out with a shake of her head. “I mean, if you were unwittingly friends with a demon it’s a good thing he has no idea who I am or what I am. Right?”
“I…guess…” Salvador said slowly. He shook his head, “Regardless, it’s dangerous. He felt you the other day and he knows something is up and he suspects that I’m connected to you. Since we were…friends…he knows where I live. He might be waiting there. He might have…” he swallowed, “He might have already been there and done something horrible to my family. I don’t know.”
“What do you need from me?” Lalia asked. “To finish healing you?”
“No…” Salvador shook his head, “I have some healing spells that I can use. I need you to hide my presence. Make it so that he can’t figure out where I am or where I’m hiding. That way he won’t think I’ve gone home.”
“Can I do that?” Lalia asked, arching an eyebrow.
“We discussed this,” Ethan pointed out, “You can basically do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.” He lifted a hand and knocked it against her head lightly. “Get some confidence.”
“Where would I even begin with that?” she argued back, “And even if I could hide his presence it’s like you said…Jacob knows where you live. You’re friends. Even if you were invisible he’d just wait there and wait there and do something to your family…if he hasn’t already. I don’t like it.” She placed the cup down, “And then what? We all go to school on Monday as though nothing is wrong?” She paused, looking to Ethan as he sipped his coffee, “Sorry.” Of course he wouldn’t be going.
He shrugged, not stopping his sipping.
“Lalia,” Salvador said, “I plan on coming up with a plan but it’s as you stated…your family will be home soon.”
“He’s not invisible to them like I am,” Ethan took the moment to speak, “He’s got a mortal body.”
Lalia frowned, “Didn’t you just say I could do, and I quote, ‘basically whatever I want’? If I could maybe hide him from a demon why can’t I hide him from my parents? I’d think a demon is smarter than my parents.” She looked back and forth between them, “Don’t you think so?”
The demon and the angel exchanged looks. Clearly they hadn’t thought of this.
Lalia rolled her eyes in exasperation, “If you two think I want you to handle things on your own without involving me think again. When I healed you Salvador…I got a glimpse of what I could do. And also…how little I know about how to do it. I can put my mind to something but general thoughts will only get me so far. I need practice. I need to work on things. That won’t happen if I’m sitting at home alone while you two do things.”
Ethan lifted a hand, “For the record,” he pointed out, “That’s been my opinion on the subject since I met you. It’s angel boy here whose resistant.”
“Hey!” Salvador declared, leaning forward so quickly that it caused him to wince in pain. “Okay, you’re right…I did…think keeping you out of things would keep you safe. But…you’re right. I need to involve you.” He rubbed his ribs, “So you think the house is safe?”
“I think ever since I’ve been a kid I’ve enchanted this house,” she grinned, “Whenever I would watch scary movies as a kid I’d lie awake at night wishing that bad guys could never find out house. That they’d always just pass over it. If we’re following logic…then the house should be hidden from bad guys. Jacob is…a bad guy so…we should be good. Though…working on something more specific would probably be a good idea.”
Salvador frowned, “Fine, I’ll stay. But we need to figure something out. My mom is a witch but it’s not going to be at any level that could possibly contend with a demon. I don’t anticipate he’d just sit back and wait for a long time while we figure things out.”
“I think I have…the beginnings of a plan,” Lalia said hesitantly. She had no idea if it would work at all. However, if she were to give herself some credit, up until yesterday magic had just been a little thing so the fact that she had a plan to contend with a demon was something to be marveled at. Though she knew it was only a start. She had no idea what demons were capable of. She needed input. Who better to give that input than another demon and an angel.
They’d simply have to see.
Lalia’s parents had returned late but Lalia was more than prepared for them. With some gentle coaxing from Salvador she’d managed to create a spell to disguise his presence from her family. He had been able to enhance it by channeling more of his angelic self and putting him on a level like Ethan existed on. Too magical to be perceived by normal people. After that point they’d worked on Lalia’s plan. As she suspected it was entirely basic and in dire need of more specifics that only a demon could provide. Ethan, not surprisingly, had a lot of insight. As Lalia prepared dinner they had dove into a lesson of sorts.
They were dealing with a demon likely on the 5th tier. Ethan currently existed in a strange zone in between the layers. A hell hound typically sat on the 6th tier. They had awareness and thoughts but often served a higher level demon. He had a great amount of power that Lalia had gifted to him the previous day but couldn’t properly access all of it outside of an official contract. He would be able to fight Jacob but it wasn’t clear if he’d be able to win. Demons fought dirty. As for Salvador it was already clear he wasn’t on equal footing with the demon and was likely to lose. This didn’t sit well with Salvador and Lalia could sense his discomfort. She had to be careful otherwise his wounded pride, and concern for her, would have him go off alone and get himself hurt.
Their best plan would be to work together.
After Lalia’s parents got home she ate dinner with them before retreating to her bedroom. Salvador and Ethan were waiting there for her and it was clear from their body language they hadn’t spent that time happily conversing with one another. Ethan sat on the floor cross-legged with his hands resting on his ankles. He still sat a bit like a dog even when in his human form. Salvador, on the other hand, sat on the bed. His broken arm was across his chest, supported by his good arm and one leg looped over the other one haughtily. It was clear he had spent some of the past hour healing himself as his motions were much less stiff. The broken arm was still there but he seemed better.
“What happened while I was gone?” Lalia asked in exasperation, “I was downstairs for an hour.”
“Angel boy is upset that I’m stronger than him,” Ethan pointed out with a wry grin.
“You’re only stronger because of Lalia,” Salvador hissed back, “Stop acting like you’re some sort of…power house. I don’t appreciate being talked down to!”
Ethan rolled his eyes, “I know more about the world kid,” he shrugged, “I’ve been on it way longer than you.”
“I’m an immortal angel!”
“That lost most of your memories when you were born on earth, I know how it works,” Ethan counteracted. “You angels play by stupid rules.”
“S-stupid?!” Salvador shouted back, rising to his feet.
“Enough!” Lalia said, moving to stand in between them with her hands up. “We were doing so well. Clearly I can’t leave you two alone for even a few minutes.” She looked to Ethan, “Ethan, I want to talk with Salvador alone. Also…you need a bath. Can you go take one…please?”
Ethan pursed his lips from the floor but nodded. Without a word he moved to his feet and sauntered into the bathroom that was attached to Lalia’s bedroom. She was lucky to have a bathroom connected just to her bedroom. It would make hiding the both of them much easier. Once Ethan reached the door he turned dramatically with a wave of his arms and then gave an over exaggerated bow. With that done he closed the door. Lalia waited until she heard the hiss of the water being turned on.
“I know you don’t trust Ethan,” she said softly, turning towards Salvador and walking to her desk. She took a seat on the chair and placed her hands in her lap.
“I don’t,” Salvador admitted though his bravado had deflated a bit. “He’s a demon. It’s in their nature to be tricksters. He’s unattached. You may have named him but he’s a risk.”
“I know it’s hard to believe,” Lalia responded, “It’s hard to explain but…you trust in my abilities right? Maybe not me. I’m…a novice. I’m still at the start of whatever mess this is. But you can at least trust my magic…right?” She lifted a hand to her chest, taking a handful of her shirt between her fingers. “Something deep inside my gut tells me I can trust me. Just like I can trust you. I really…don’t think I can handle it if you two start bickering the moment you are alone together. It feels like we take a few steps and then you revert back into hating each other…”
“I don’t…hate him,” Salvador sighed, leaning forward and bracing his good hand on his knee. “Lalia, you have to know that I’ve already taken lots of steps that are against my nature. Heaven and hell are on…really shaky terms. The fact that I’ve accepted that he’s part of this is…a big step for me. He did…save me today and I’m appreciative of that. And I apologize for…letting you see our bickering. But you need to also tell him to stop pressing buttons. But…I’ll accept your explanation. If your gut is really telling you that you can trust him then…I’ll stop telling you not to.”
“Thank you,” Lalia said with a smile. She hoped this would be the end of it though she had a feeling it wouldn’t be the end to their bickering.
“Also, you picked a ridiculous name in Ethan,” Salvador pointed out with a chuckle.
Lalia couldn’t resist a small giggle, “I’m realizing that more and more,” she pointed out. “But there was a massive mask monster thing. I didn’t exactly have the time.”
“Ethan the demon…” Salvador laughed. “Truly he will be the most powerful of demons.”
This brought more laughter bubbling up from Lalia’s chest, “Is it much better than Salvador the angel? That’s a mouthful.”
“I was born to a very proud Mexican family,” Salvador pushed back but he was smiling now. “Salvador is a family name. Don’t tell me you’re thinking of renaming me as well.”
“No, no,” Lalia shook her head, “I wouldn’t do that. Just…is it okay if I call you Sal? At school you’re part of the group that seems…untouchable. Salvador sounds like the title of a prince. If we’re to be friends I think nicknames might be okay.”
Salvador sat back a little and winced a bit as it shifted his arm. He lifted his good arm to cradle the broken one again, “Yeah…I think Sal would be okay.”
“You can give me a nickname too,” Lalia said with an excited smile, “I’ve never had a nickname before.”
“I don’t know…” Salvador said hesitantly. “We’ll figure it out when we get there.”
Lalia frowned but not in genuine hurt, moreso in a playful pout. “Fine, but I want you to call me something natural. Okay?” To that Salvador nodded his head.
They waited for Ethan after that. The demon finished his shower after quite some time and it brought both to laughter when the hell hound opened the door. He was wearing a towel around his waist and he very much resembled a wet dog. His black hair, once stringy and dirty, was now falling in wet waves around his head. Lalia didn’t have any clothes for him but managed to sneak into her parents’ room to fetch a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt.
Lalia then fetched her hair drier and her mother’s diffuser. Ethan complained a bit about being fussed over but soon relented and allowed Lalia to dry his hair. Once it was shining the black waves looked admirable though still a bit messy. She fetched a hair tie and a brush and managed to coax it back into a tie and off his face. The mangy dog was no longer there, instead she was faced with a handsome (though still eerily pale) man.
“Thank you,” Ethan said with a smile, his unnaturally coloured eyes showing a warmth that Lalia hadn’t yet seen as it had often been hidden behind his unkempt hair.
“You’re welcome,” Lalia said, sitting back on her heels. She turned her eyes to her clock, it was already midnight. “Let’s sleep for now. Then tomorrow we finish healing up. Sound good?”
This time both the angel and the demon faced her with smiles, nodding their heads in unison.