Seth sat on the floor in front of his motorcycle, covered in grease and swearing up a storm, “Why won’t this damn thing work!”
“Well, I’m no mechanic but did you remember to put gas in it before you tried to start it?”
“Yes, of course I put gas in it! What do you take me for?” The half-angel leveled a glare at Jessica.
She sat perched on his workbench hands clasped around one knee while her foot beat a steady tattoo on the concrete, “You could always try-”
Seth stood and threw a wrench across the room, “What! What can I try! You want me to try talking to her? What would we discuss? I haven’t told her anything!”
Jessica’s mouth worked for a moment as she slid off the bench, “Actually, what I was going to say was, you could try getting a new bike.”
He continued on as if he’d never even heard her, “And why are you here? Has Gabriel finally washed his hands of me?”
“No, he felt this situation called for a more…feminine touch.”
“I don’t need to be coddled.”
“That’s painfully obvious. What you need is to be slapped.”
Seth snorted, “And that’s the feminine touch?”
“The most feminine touch of all,” she smiled, shaking her head.
“Well, I thank you and Gabriel for your concern but I really just want to be left alone to think.”
“Yeah, you looked like you were thinking really hard when I came in.”
“I think best when my hands are busy.”
Seth mounted the bike once more and kick started it. The Chief came to life with a satisfying roar and he smiled triumphantly, “That’s my girl.”
“And I supposed you’re going to just drive off into the snow without a helmet or jacket. Do you have any sense?” yelled Jessica over the noise.
“Not really. God seemed to make me lacking in that department. Could you open the door and then shut it when I’m gone?”
Jessica swooped over and grabbed the front handlebars, “When are you going to stop running away and face things!”
Seth killed the engine and leaned over until he was nose to nose with the immortal, “Have you ever known me to shirk my duty?”
“I’ve known you to go head to head with an angel because of your duty.”
“Then don’t insult me by saying I run away.”
“But you do run away. If things get emotionally complicated you run and hide somewhere. However, it’s not at the expense of your duty.” Jessica released the handlebars and straightened.
“She’s falling in love with me…and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.” He rubbed absently at the tattoo on his arm.
“And this is a…bad thing?”
“You know my track record, Jessica. Yes, it’s a very bad thing.”
“Has she shown any signs other than the nightmares?”
Seth shook his head, manifesting a pair of sunglasses from his bedside table, “Not yet.”
“Then, I don’t see-”
“Look, every woman who’s ever gotten involved with me has either gone stark raving mad, or died horribly, or…” The half-angel frowned and shoved the glasses onto his face. “The end results have never been good…even for the one night stands.”
“And so you stop trying.”
Jessica chose not to answer and crossed, instead, to the door, “Do you love her?”
Seth watched her slide it open, listening to the bone chilling squeal of cold and rusted metal, “I don’t know.”
He kick-started the motorcycle again and roared out into the snow like a bat out of hell. The white powder flew to either side as if some giant snowplow went before him leaving the road clear and smooth for the oncoming storm.
Jessica clicked her tongue at the blatant display of his power. Shutting the slider against the ugly weather she turned and looked hard at the space behind her. The room was entirely gutted, the walls charred and blackened by flame. Deep marks scared the sooty concrete and in the middle of them lay human remains caught in a twisted lump of molten metal.
“Please, please, make the right choice,” she murmured, turning her back on the possible future and disappearing in a flash of warm, cleansing light.
* * * *
It was cold as ice in the abandoned hospital but Kasen infinitely preferred it to where he’d been before. Trapped in stifling heat, worse than any furnace and darkness which no light could penetrate. He’d lived in unspeakable agony for many years, and then…a breakthrough. And after that…waiting. And now, it was finally time for him to move forward. That is, if one of his minions didn’t blow it first.
“Shireen!” he yelled, his English accented voice echoing off the walls.
The female demon appeared instantly, “You bellowed?”
The sound of the slap was loud in the quiet of the room. Shireen’s hand flew up to cradle her cheek, her eyes wide with shock and fear.
“Sometimes I think you forget who you’re dealing with,” said Kasen, snapping his fingers to bring up the lights in the disused morgue.
“I’m sorry,” murmured Shireen, lowering her head.
He ignored her and sat on one of the steel tables protruding from one of the refrigeration units. “You knew I didn’t want my name mentioned to Seth and you did it anyway. Do you have a love of punishment because if that’s the case I can indulge you.”
Shireen’s voice quavered as she replied, “No sir.”
“This is why ‘good works’ are so overrated. You help someone and it always comes back to bite you on the ass.” He sighed and flicked his hair over his shoulders.
The female demon held her sarcastic comments inside knowing they would earn her another slap or worse. She watched Kasen pull an ebony cigarette holder from the air, complete with a cigarette already affixed to the end. He lit it with a simple gesture and sat blowing smoke rings at the cracked ceiling. Shireen held her hands behind her back, waiting.
“So, how close to the edge is he?”
“Very. Although, he has the worst stubborn streak I’ve ever seen. I think that’s really the only thing saving him at this point.”
Kasen blew out a cloud of smoke, a sweet smile curving his lips, “No, the inherited stubbornness isn’t the only thing keeping him together. The other team has brought in a new player.”
“Oh her. I don’t think she’ll be much of a threat,” scoffed the she-demon.
“You don’t?” Smoke misted in front of Kasen’s eyes dulling their silver color. “Then why do you stink of jealousy?”
“I’m not jealous of her! She’s only a human. I could grind her into dust if I chose.”
“The ability to lie is an admirable quality in any demon, however…” he paused to light another cigarette, “It isn’t wise to lie to me.”
“Well, maybe I am just a little.”
“A little what?”
“Ah.” Kasen pinched the cigarette and its holder out of existence. “Come here.”
Shireen edged closer unsure of his intentions.
He leapt off the slab and pulled her forward the rest of the way, “Now, haven’t I been good to you and kept you safe?”
“Yes,” Shireen nodded but didn’t dare look up at the man who towered over her.
“And don’t you love me?”
“Then why are you jealous?”
“Because, she’s taking Seth away from me! He’s mine and she’s slowly but surely taking him!” The demon’s outburst would have sounded almost petulant if not for the venom behind it.
“Is that all?” Kasen chuckled darkly, shaking his head. “You’re worried about losing your plaything.”
“It’s not funny. He’s your plaything too, don’t forget.” She shivered as Kasen took her hand and laid a kiss on her knuckles.
“Never,” he smiled, turning her hand over and kissing the upturned palm.
“You’re such a charmer.”
“Mm, how do you think I end up getting what I want?” he lifted her chin so he could look her in the eyes. “Now, don’t talk about me anymore, pet.”
“He’s going to find out,” argued Shireen, braving her lover and master’s wrath.
“Of course but it will be the time and place of my own choosing. I have high hopes for Seth. All he needs is a little gentle pushing in the right direction. And if Katherine gets in the way I’ll take care of her.”
“Can I watch?”
Kasen smiled, “How did you become so bloodthirsty?”
“I don’t know. I suppose I spend far too much time around you,” replied Shireen, echoing his smile and leaning up for a kiss.
Kasen tore himself away from the female demon and glared at the being in the doorway, “What is it, Hattboi? And if you call me ‘Boss’ again I’ll cut your tongue out.”
Hattboi swallowed hard and pulled his knitted cap lower on his head, “Sure Bo—I mean, uh, the lady wants to talk to you. She says it’s important.”
“It always is.” The blond immortal growled as his eyes turned from silver to red. “There ain’t no rest for the wicked and I’m working all the time.”
Kasen flung out his hand and curled his fingers into a fist. Hattboi contorted grotesquely, screaming as he burst into flame and collapsed in a pile of gray ashes.
“Did you kill him this time?” asked Shireen, coolly examining her fingernails.
“No. I just sent him to a place of torture for awhile. When he isn’t making a pig’s breakfast of his duties he’s actually a decent source of amusement for me. And it’s so difficult to keep me amused.” He slammed on abandoned gurney into a wall, where it crumpled like so much used aluminum foil. “He does like to persist in seeing that woman. I’ll break him of it yet…or I might save myself the trouble and kill him.”
“I’m in favor of the latter option,” she grinned, wrapping her arms around his neck.
“Somehow I thought you would be,” he replied, making them both vanish in a flurry of creamy white feathers.