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A World Enough in Time

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They weren't human. They were incubi. Demons.

It was easy to forget, Mika mused as she watched them over dinner. James and Erik both looked like they had walked out of a romance novel and were each elegant in their own ways, James with formality and Erik with grace, refined in speech and motion. Matthew and Sam were the polar opposite, enthusiastically informal, Sam rougher, Matthew more playful and both very relatable as they acted just like guys she had seen around school. Damien was the bridge between the other four, laughing with Matthew and Sam but he had an innate refinement that worked well with Erik and James. As they bantered together though, the differences between them seemed to fade and they really look like a family, like any human family. They looked normal and happy. Were it not for her experience earlier that day, Sam and Erik’s kisses, how they had healed before her eyes, it would be so easy to forget. Watching them, even talking with them a little, there were points when she couldn't help but smile, even laugh.

After a little while Matthew went to reach for a jug holding some kind of sauce. Sam must have had the same idea because he went for it too, but Matthew was closer. Suddenly, in a move far too fast to be human, Sam snatched it, hands a blur.

“Hay!” Matthew exclaimed. Sam grinned back cheekily.

“Sam!” James snapped, a warning in his voice.

“What?” Sam frowned back at him.

“We have company.” James' tone was pointed.

Sam glanced over to her then back to James and rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on! It’s not like she doesn't know already.”

“Even so.”

“Its fine.” She said, trying to settle the air again, though the demonstration of Sam’s inhuman ability had made her tense. They weren't human, they were an unknown, as human as they may seem.

What have I gotten myself into? She thought as she took a steadying breath and resumed her dinner.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

The next morning she was on edge, caught in uncertainty, stressed more then she was willing to admit. She had a lot to be stressed about, even discounting school, the loss of her grandfather and being forced to live in a new home, though each of those was substantial in their own right.

First, the fact the she was house sharing with five strangers, incubi, demons. Yes, they were in need, and yes helping them felt right, but… had she really known what she was getting into when she offered to help? No, clearly she hadn't. She still didn't and that was starting to worry her. When she had first invited them it hadn't seemed too huge a prospect; they were all strangers in what was, if not a completely strange house, then one that she was only partially familiar with and did not yet, in her heart, consider home. It was like being in a hotel, only she was both guest and land lady at the same time. This morning, however, reality was starting to creep up on her; She didn't know them, and this wasn't a hotel. She had no intention of telling them to leave but she was anxious now.

Her second big problem was the house-warming party her father had dropped on her, set to happen tonight. She knew her father, she knew there would be more to it then it seemed, that there would be some kind of expectation attached, a trap. She knew there would be some way for her to fail if she wasn't careful but she also knew she had no choice but to go along with it anyway, and face the consequences.

Next, this morning, her nightmare had shaken her, badly; that voice – Malix, the James in her dream had called him - had terrified her.

And now, lastly, on top of all that, the reminder of Damien’s mind reading was getting to her, too. She didn't blame him, he seemed sincere about not being able to control it, which, she realized, must be a harsh ability to have.

Following him and James downstairs for breakfast she couldn't stop her mind from spinning, unable to ignore the reality of Damien’s ability no matter how hard she tried; So she had no privacy now? How close did he have to be to read her mind? What about things she didn't want him to hear? What if he wound up angry with her, hating her even, for things going on in her head; everyone had dark thoughts, moments of anger or lashing out that they didn't really mean. What if-

“Please don’t worry.” He said, suddenly, startling her, looking at her with a small smile, clearly trying to be reassuring. “Before we came to the human world, I spent all my life around people far more terrible then you will ever be. I doubt I will ever hear anything in your mind that would truly bother me.”

She looked at him wide eyed. The implication was both comforting and horrifying at the same time and she suddenly felt deeply sorry for him.

“As for privacy,” He continued, “my brothers all have their own techniques for guarding their thoughts that I am sure they will share with you if you ask them.” He paused then grimaced, adding quickly. “Please don’t ask Sam.”

“Oh?”

James gave an amused snort and looked at Damien in sympathy. “He’s still doing that?”

Damien made a face and nodded.

As they stepped into the dining room, the smell of bacon and eggs filled the air, making her stomach growl, distracting her from their convocation.

James and Damien excused themselves, heading back to the kitchen while she sat down. With no one around the memory of the dream came back unbidden, the fear of it, and she shuddered, closing her eyes.

A sense of movement was her only warning, a presence, but no hostility. A warm hand was placed on her head and a soothing wave washed through her. Suddenly she didn't feel so afraid any more. She glanced up at the owner of said hand, wide eyed; Sam. She didn't understand how but she knew with absolute certainty it would be him even before she saw him. “Huh?”

“Morning. You alright?”

“Yeah, I'm fine.” And she was, it was true. She wasn't afraid, she felt at ease… but she was very confused. Did he just use his powers on her? It was nothing like when they first met, her mind was completely clear and there was no warm glow of want. She was keenly aware of him standing there though, his presence.

Sam raised an eyebrow at her, regarding her for a moment, before rustling her hair and moving to sit down at the table. The moment he broke contact some of her tension returned and she stared at him now convinced, but, given he hadn't hurt her, not knowing what to say.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

The boys kept surprising her, first with their offer to help with the house warming party her father had dropped on her lap, and now with how they were handling the situation with Suzu and Naomi, by pretending to be servants. It seemed almost rehearsed and they must have at least discussed the strategy among themselves before hand. She wished they had let her in on their plan, though she supposed there had simply not been enough time given everyone was only just starting breakfast when the girls had shown up.

It counted as one of the most uncomfortable breakfasts that she could ever remember having, her eating with Suzu and Naomi while the guys stood back, playing as servants when they should have been eating too, rather then giving the literal food from their plates away away to maintain a cover. Sure, they could make more, but it just didn't sit right. Sam, who was only maintaining the barest pretence, didn't look too happy either and that just made it worse.

After she had seen the girls off she sat back at the table with the guys, Erik and Matthew with fresh plates of food for themselves, as the five began to eat. The reminder made her want to sink in her seat, embarrassed.

“You guys know I don’t think of you all like that, right?” She blurted as they settled. “I would never- I mean, you’re not servants. Just because I asked you to pull your own weight and help out doesn't make you servants or lesser or anything and I just...” She floundered under the weight of their gazes, ducking her head. “Not that it wasn't a good idea though; I really had no idea what to say to them and I...” She shrugged, red faced. “I-I guess what I am trying to say is, thank you and I am sorry?”

“Its quite alright, Miss, it is no trouble. And, thank you, for your kindness and consideration.” James said, smiling warmly.

“We were going to tell you about our little ruse during breakfast.” Erik said, “Unfortunately, circumstances didn't afford us the time.” He tone shifted, becoming a little flirtatious. “Not that a princess such as yourself doesn't deserve the very best of service, of course, something we are very happy to provide. Repayment for your hospitality, if nothing else.”

“Speak for yourself.” Sam grumbled.

“We are really sorry if you were uncomfortable.” Matthew added, ignoring Sam.

She shook her head. “It is a good plan. I wish I could think of a better one but, well, it’s done now.”

“Indeed.” James said. “So, we should discuss what needs to be done for this party tonight…”

They talked through the remainder of breakfast as the guys ate, planning out chores and assigning jobs. With the incubi able to cover one area each Mika had the freedom to choose who to help.

She choose Sam.

She wasn't quite certain why, but the memory of his touch on her head earlier, how it had soothed her, lingered. Fighting stress and more then a small measure of anxiety over everything, that memory drew her like a moth to a flame, for more reasons then she dared think about.

Besides, She told herself, If any of them are going to slack off it is probably going to be him, so I might as well keep an eye on him.

Sam went ahead as she helped Erik and Matthew clear the dishes from the table. It only took a minute between the three of them and she expected to see Sam just starting when she stepped outside. Instead, she saw him doing Tai Chi, a martial art she was familiar with.

She crossed her arms, glaring, disappointed. “Aren't we supposed to be cleaning the front yard?”

“You were taking too long. I already finished cleaning.” His tone was dismissive and he didn't even open his eyes.

“Wha-?” She looked around; He wasn't lying, there was nothing left to do. Stupefied, all she could say, feebly, was, “You work fast...” She remembered how fast he had been at dinner last night but this was something else; This should have been impossible. What the hell was he capable of if he could do this...?

Sam didn’t respond, simply continuing to work through the motions of his form.

She watched him, wary at first. As she began to relax a little and really study his form she realized, after a little while, that it was familiar. There are many types of Tai Chi but this one was old school; Chen style, the original Tai Chi. She only had vague familiarity with it herself from watching videos, but she had seen enough to recognise it. She watched him more carefully then; Chen style had combat application, outstanding for self defence once you got good enough, which made it appealing to her. However, finding a teacher for Chen was not easy, she hadn’t found even one within travel range. So, she had wound up studying a different style instead. She wasn’t the best of judges but Sam’s form looked good to her, really good. She hesitated a little before determination hit her; she might not get another opportunity like this for all she knew. Stepping closer, she began to try and follow him.

“What are you doing?” He asked, standoffish.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” She responded, teasing, trying to cover her unease.

“Humh. This isn’t supposed to be fun, okay? Its actually supposed to be difficult.”

“I know, I've studded Tai Chi… never managed to find a teacher who taught Chen, though.”

He cracked open an eye at that. He almost looked impressed. Almost. “I ain't your teacher.”

“I didn’t ask.” She didn’t expect any different, not from him given what she had seen thus far.

He regarded her for a moment before closing his eye, ignoring her again.

Despite herself she felt a bubble of amusement, suddenly reminded of martial arts moves where the student had to impress their would-be teacher before being accepted. Given this was Chen style, that had probably happened more then a few times in reality through history. She couldn’t help but let out a slight breath of laughter at it all.

In the relative quiet, he noticed. “What?”

“Nothing.”

He looked at her then with a slight glare, still without breaking form, and she couldn’t fully repress her smile given her previous train of thought; he might as well have been following the script of one of those very films by looking at her like that. He blinked at her with a frown, “Humh.” before closing his eyes again.

She allowed herself a few more moments of her amusement before she sighed and tried to focus. She didn’t expect anything long term to come out of this but still wanted to make the most of the opportunity while she could. Sam would never agree to teach her, she was certain, but as long as he practised, she could still follow.

For a while, it went well. His motions were slow, giving her time to following along. It was relaxing, though at this speed it didn’t take long for her to start to feel the ache in her thighs as they supported her and she hoped she could stick it out long enough to get to the end of the form.

It wasn’t to be.

Watching videos was no substitute for in person observation and she didn’t know all the foot work. At one point, during a step, she fluffed her balance by putting too much weight into her forward motion. The edge of her toe caught on the corner of a brick and, already poorly balanced, she tumbled.

Sam noticed. He spun and stepped forward in time to catch her by the arms, breaking her fall. “H-Hay! Watch it!” She landed heavily against his chest.

“S-sorry!!” She squeaked, looking up at him, bug eyed.

She blushed fiercely, mortified and frozen, her upper body pressed against his. Her chin against the fabric of his vest, the metal of his dog tags brushed her skin, warm from his body heat. A blush spread across Sam’s face as he looked down at her, seemingly uncertain of what to do in that moment himself. After what felt like forever, red as a tomato, she brought her hands up to his arms, using him as a prop to help get her feet back in order. To his credit he helped, supporting her, though he was almost as red faced as she was.

“Man,” He said as she stepped away, his hand still on her arm, steadying her. “watch what you’re doing next time.”

“Y-yeah, sorry. In my defence, my foot caught on a brick.”

Sam made a face and she cringed; if her balance hadn’t been off that wouldn’t have been an issue, and they both knew it.

She sighed, flustered, “Well, um, I guess that’s me done for today! I’ll, er, go help one of the others for a bit. Yeah...”

He nodded, letting go of her arm. She took a few careful steps, testing her ankles, before looking back up to him. She blinked.

For a split second she thought she saw his eyes glow.

“Er, thanks, for catching me.” She mumbled after a moment, caught off guard.

“Yeah, sure, erm, whatever.” He shrugged, looking away.

She nodded with a small smile, fighting to hide her unease, then turned to head back to the mansion. She felt his eyes on her and heard him sigh before she went back inside.

After the doors closed behind her. She stopped and buried her face in her hands, embarrassed and insecure. Had she really seen that?

“Are you alright?” Damien asked from where he stood by one of the banisters, duster in hand. She fought her wince; she had forgotten Damien was working in the lobby. She fought down a spike of anxiety; Damien genuinely seemed like a nice person, but his power...

Trying to play it cool she said, “Y-yeah, just, you know, being a klutz.” She peeked at him from between her fingers, still blushing a little from her fall. “I tripped!” She confessed with a bit of a squeak. “Crashed right into Sam… Though he did catch me, which was nice.” She sighed. “He was not happy.” She hid her eyes for a moment, shaking her head as she remembered.

“It’s alright, Sam didn't really mind.” Damien said and she peered through her fingers again to see him smiling a little. “He is more worried about you then anything, he just doesn’t know you well enough yet to really show it.”

“Oh?” She felt more relieved at that reassurance then she expected to be.

Damien nodded, eyes creasing with his smile.

A small smile of her own spread over her face unbidden as she allowed her hands to drop so she could fold her arms under her chest. “Doesn’t know me well enough, huh? Well, I guess, I hope that changes.” It was equal parts sincerity and bluster; the guys seemed nice, Sam included if what Damien said was true – and it tied into her suspicions about his personality after his apology to her yesterday – but she’s be lying if she said she wasn't trying to put on a front to cover her nerves, too.

“You like him?”

“I-” She faltered, surprised at the question. “I don’t know. I mean, we've only just met, after all. A day- well, half a day, really, is no time at all.” And there were still so, so many unknowns. They weren't human, after all...

Damien’s smile faded and for a moment he looked sad, so sad. She was about to speak, concerned and worried she had said or done something wrong, but he shook his head and beat her to it.

“So,” he said, expression clear again, “what are you going to do now? There is still more work to be done and the rest of us can’t finish our chores as fast as Sam.” He made a face at the end there, briefly. She thought it looked like disapproval.

“Oh! I...” She faltered and looked at him. The desire to comfort him following that sadness she saw was still strong. That made her mind up for her, unease be damned. She smiled at him. “Well, I am here now, I might as well help you. What still needs to be done here?”

The fresh smile that bloomed over his face was worth it alone, she thought. It suited him. Pretty. When he ducked his head with a blush, smile turning coy, she startled with a new blush of her own.

Mindreader…

He laughed softly. “You are very sweet, and kind. Thank you.” He walked over to her, his step light, and held his duster out to her. “Here. You use this, I’ll go get us some more supplies.”

She nodded, too embarrassed and unnerved at what had just happened to speak, accepting the duster from him. She watched him leave, rooted to the spot, before shaking herself and getting to work, determinedly, trying to distract herself. Anxiety clawed at her at being caught out so easily by his ability. It made her feel too exposed, too vulnerable… like a deer tied in a field surrounded by wolves; No where to hide, no where to escape to. She shuddered, then mentally slapped herself.

He can’t help it. He seems sincere about not being able to help it. She repeated to herself.

As she worked, stubbornly trying not to think about Damien’s mindreading, she couldn't help but think of Sam instead. Had she really seen his eyes glow? And… he had caught her. She would have hit the drive hard if he hadn't of done that, she probably would have been hurt.

Sam caught her.

She frowned and paused in her dusting. Something about that… She remembered;

Shit. She fainted.”

Yesterday, before she passed out, he hadn’t sounded that close before, had he?

She heard Damien’s footsteps as he entered the lobby again, more cleaning supplies in hand. Turning to him, she asked, “Hay, Damien? Yesterday, when I passed out, did anyone catch me?”

His smile was a little too knowing, but his eyes had a hesitant flicker as he watched her now. “Yes, Sam did.”

She nodded, turning back to her work, unable to help a small smile of her own. “I thought so...”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

That night, as she stepped down into the lobby, the boys were waiting for her, dressed impeccably in uniform, poised and professional looking. And handsome, a small part of her noted. This time they had had time to discuss their strategy for the night with her, the jobs they would be doing to maintain their appearance as servants.

When her parents stepped through the doors – her nearly choking in anxiety over what they might say about the presence of the incubi – the boys surprised her yet again; her parents didn’t question it, and, judging by how Erik and Sam were looking at them, the boys themselves were responsible. That, they hadn’t discussed with her before hand.

She tried her best to drown out the alarm bells that sounded in her head that they were capable of that kind of manipulation at all, but it was difficult. Had they used that ability on her…? Would they…? Her parents didn’t seem to notice a thing, so, why would she?

It was a haunting thought as much as she tried to ignore it. It was fortunate, in a way, they she wasn’t given much time to dwell on it.

As she pulled back from her mother’s hug Mika kept her father in her peripheral vision even as she faced her mother, watching him for cues, anything in his face and body language she needed to be aware of. It was an old habit, one she wasn't going to break just because she didn't live under the same roof as him anymore.

The incubi watched them silently. Naomi and Suzu stood a little way off to the side, trying to be discreet but looking awkward.

Laura, her mother, beamed at her. Mika could smell a hint of red wine on her breath. “Gorgeous. You look so lovely. David, look at your daughter and tell her I’m right.”

David glanced at her, then at his wife. When he looked back at her he gave a small smile, though to her, it felt hollow. “Your mother's right. You look like you’re all grown up.”

“Thank you, daddy.” She smiled brightly, and it almost reached her eyes. If her mother had never said anything… but she expected nothing else.

When her father said the board members from the toy company were coming to asses her, her surprise and disappointment were dull things; of course there was a catch, there was always a catch; A trap.

At the edge of her vision she noted that Damien watched them with slightly narrowed eyes. The twitch of Sam’s hands, wanting to ball into fists, was a little harder to ignore and she almost flinched.

When her father led her to the doors following his inspection of the rooms, which he made little comment on – a good sign –, he said;

“Now, you are up to date on the latest information I emailed you on the company, correct?”

“Yes, father.” The more formal address was appropriate, now he was talking business.

“Good. Once you transition to CEO you are going to have to spend a lot of time on company matters, I want you to be prepared for that. I trust this will not interferer with your school studies, either. Your grades are important, I expect you to be able to handle this.”

“Yes, father.” It was the barest of answers, just enough so he knew she was listening, which was all he wanted.

The atmosphere in the room was changing, she could feel it prickling the hairs on the back of her neck. She looked at her father discreetly; he seemed normal, considering. She glanced around quickly. James stood a little straighter then he had before, more ridged.

David continued, her attention snapping back to him, “Good. Mr and Mrs Hayson should be among the first to arrive, don’t waste too much time on them, his position in the company is effectively obsolete in the grand scheme of things, you wont have to worry about him.”

She nodded.

“Mrs Sanandril, on the other hand, is an influential member and should be arriving soon, too. I want you to approach her and introduce yourself. Her husband should be attending with her, he works as a botanist and would be an easy convocation starter.”

She nodded again. “Understood… does she have any hobbies?” Her tone was as engaged as she could make it be when she felt so lifeless about the whole thing.

His lips twitched in the barest of approving smiles. “I don’t know, but it would be useful if you could find out.”

She nodded again.

“Don’t forget posture and manors, you mustn't leave a conversation mid way, even when food is called.”

She said nothing. He didn’t want a response that time. By the door she saw Erik shift slightly, a hard glint in his eyes, there then gone again. Sam was about as ridged as it was possible to be without breaking out of his role as servant. That prickling on the back of her neck was even worse now.

Is it them? The incubi? What was wrong?

David pressed on as the sound of car doors could be heard from outside. “I expect you to do well tonight. Your potential in this world could be great and I do not want you to squander it. Do not let me down, Mika.” His voice was harder now, warning.

She fought down her anxiety at the tone shift, sighing carefully, trying to calm herself without him noticing, and nodded. “Yes, father.”

“You could have it all, Mika. And you will.”

He wasn’t looking at her, was barely even talking to her. This wasn’t about her, it never was; she hadn’t forgotten how he had snapped when she inherited this estate, for one.

She glanced around the room one last time and the troubled look on Matthew’s face surprised her. He caught her looking and it was gone in an instant. He flashed her a quick encouraging smile. Nearby, Naomi and Suzu gave her a thumbs up, a clear ‘you go girl!’. She smiled back at them, as much for her own sake as theirs.

The front doors opened. The night began.

Chapter Text

As the evening progressed things with her parents and their guests – because really, Naomi and Suzu aside, they were all her parents guests, not hers – went basically as she expected. She wore her mask, answered the questions put to her as she was expected to, regardless of how she felt. She wished she could have likened it to a dance but it felt like a march over rough terrain instead. Every convocation, every round of questions and answers, felt like a battle. Attack, parry, defend. If she fell she would be hurt, sooner or later.

The presence of the incubi was an added stress. She hoped that nothing would happen, that they would blend into the background and that would be it, yet she couldn’t help but expect something bad anyway. It was the unknown, the uncontrollable, that stoked her fears.

She expected something to happen, and she couldn’t help but fear the worst.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Mika clutched her hands together in front of her, trying to stay calm. Pinned down by four female associates of her mother, she could feel their judgemental looks boring through her. All she wanted to do was get away.

“You really should sign up, darling, as an heiress you are going to have to be careful in the dating arena now.” One said, as though she were talking to an idiot.

“Oh yes.” Another chimed in, “there are some terrible gold diggers out there. Its not just women who can be that way, you know.”

Mika was mortified. “I- I really don’t think that is going to be an issue yet, I’m not-”

“Pff. You don’t know how stubborn they can be, how persistent.” The first cut her off and her stomach churned, her chest felt heavier; I must have given the wrong answer… Her mind whispered to her. “They wont care that you aren’t actively looking right now.”

“Mhmm.” A third agreed. “They will come sniffing around like hungry mutts, you just wait!”

Just as Mika began wishing the ground would open and swallow her, her hands starting to tremble just a little, a smooth male voice inserted itself into their ‘convocation’ like warm butter;

“Lovely ladies, might I interest such refined beauties as yourselves in drinks and canapé? Only the very best, of course!” His voice was a purr tailored to catch the ear and imply that more then just snacks were on offer.

Erik, of course.

All five of them, Mika included, turned to him in surprise.

With two trays held out to them, balanced on each hand, he bowed deeply with a small flourish, managing elegance and grace without disturbing the drinks even a drop. It was an impressive display of dexterity and finesse, made even more alluring by the familiar flirtatious look on his face. The woman giggled and blushed, reaching for the drinks and snacks as they shared looks with each other. Mika blushed herself and might have looked away if she hadn’t already seen this kind of charm from him already, though the display of physical skill was new. It was just as well she didn’t as he caught her eye and, with a mischievous glint, he winked at her and with a small inclination of his head motioned away from the other women. It took a second for her to cotton on before her eyes widened, surprised; Erik was making a distraction for her so she could make a break for it.

With the elegance of a dancer, he circled them until he stood on the other side of the women to her, distracting them further as he described the drink and food he presented. They turned to follow him hungrily, and all of a sudden their backs were to her. Hidden, she mouthed a ‘thank you!’ to him and his smile widened and warmed for an instant, eyes flickering to her, before he turned his attention back to the other women. She backed away gratefully, loosing herself into the crowd, touched and still surprised that he seemed to have been looking out for her.

A few minuets later she managed to get a hold of Erik again when neither of them were otherwise engaged to thank him properly.

He merely smiled charmingly in response, “My sweet princess, we are all here to serve and service you, gladly. Remember that.” He gave her a saucy wink.

She smiled and ducked her head with a blush. Choosing to ignore the double entendre, she replied, “Not so sure Sam agrees, but thank you.”

“Oh, don’t worry about him!” And with a giggle and a smirk he sauntered off, leaving her shaking her head, amused, touched, and still blushing.

A short while later, Mika had just stepped back inside after getting a little air while talking to one of the directors from the company, a pleasant older man, close to retirement. Talking to him had been comparatively soothing as he had shown sympathy over the pressure she was under and his relaxed demeanour had been almost infectious. They had made a pact; should she become CEO, she would keep one of the other board members off his back and he in turn would help her with the rest, even offering to advise her after his retirement. It was a very reassuring convocation, and they had even reminisced about her grandfather briefly, with had been bittersweet for her.

As she made her way back towards the lobby, a young man cornered her in the dining room.

“Hay, pretty.” He grinned at her.

She could smell the alcohol on him, a bad sign, and it made her recoil, heart beat accelerating. “Er, hello. Excuse me, but I need to get back to the lobby.”

“Aww, come on, you’re as bored with that lot as I am. Talk to me a while, I don’t bite.” He stepped closer to her.

“I’m sorry, I really can’t stay.” She tried to back away only to notice she was already close to the wall, which made her tense. She tried to rally herself; she didn’t know this man, didn’t know if being anything other then the picture of perfect manors would land her in trouble with her father later. She plastered on her fake smile and tried her excuses. “I’m sure people are looking for me.”

He wasn’t having it. “Please, like you really wanna be out there. Come on, try me, I can hold a convocation better then any of those old fuckers.”

Out of the corner of her eye she spotted Sam approaching, a frown on his face. She didn’t know if this was a good thing or not, so she redoubled her efforts to handle it herself.

“I-It’s not you, I, I just have a responsibility tonight.” The barest stammer almost made her cringe. “I really can’t walk away from it, so I have to go.”

“Really? Come on, please? Just talk to me-”

Suddenly Sam’s voice cut over him, firmly, making him jump while she repressed a flinch. “Hay.”

The man spun and glowered at him, “Hay yourself. Do you mind? I’m trying to talk to the lady.”

“Yeah, sure.” Sam barely spared him a look before turning to her. “There’s a guy out there looking for you. He’s getting pretty insistent.”

Looking at Sam’s face she had a strong suspicion that he was lying and she almost smiled, relieved and grateful, surprised again that one of them was looking out for her, but decided playing along was better.

“Really? Thank you.” She gave a fake smile to the drunk. “Well, I gotta go-”

“Oh come on.” He whined, “Fuck ‘um. Let them go blow smoke up each other, we can have fun by ourselves.”

She didn’t have a chance to answer as Sam stepped closer to him, a warning in his posture. He said, “The lady is busy, why don’t you go enjoy the buffet, sir.” He didn’t growl or snap, he didn’t raise his voice; He was still playing the role of the servant but there was something in his tone, an undercurrent. The drunk ignored it.

“Like you get to tell me what to do. Go back to serving drinks. Come on, pretty, let’s go hang out outside or something.” He made to try and grab her arm.

In the heartbeat that followed Mika could literally see the exact instant Sam reached ‘fuck it’.

Catching the drunks wrist he said, voice low, “Go home. Now.”

The man’s eyes looked glazed for a moment then he nodded, numbly. “Yeah, I need to go home, now.” Sam let go of him as he went to walk away, aiming straight for the front door.

Mika watched him go, mouth agape, too stunned to be anything other then impressed. She turned to Sam, who smirked at her reaction. “You just Jedi Mind-Tricked that guy!”

“Pft, like there was anything there to trick.”

A thought occurred to her. “Oh, I hope his home isn’t too far, or he had to fly in or anything.” She looked at Sam as his smug expression fell.

He made a frustrated noise and ran a hand over his hair, mussing it up. “Fuck.”

Without another word he strode after the drunk, presumably to make sure he didn’t wind up trying to walk across half the country or something else equally bad trying to get to wherever home was for him.

Watching him leave she couldn’t help the small bubble of laughter that rose in her chest; it was a little ridiculous after all.

A Jedi mind-trick! She couldn’t think of how else to describe what had just happened, and it was funny!

Her laughter died as she remembered what he and Erik had done to her parents. Neither they nor that man had shown any sign that they had known what had happened. If they didn’t, there was no reason she would, either.

That put a spike of fear through her.

Could she really trust Sam? The others? Yes, Sam had caught her, twice, and they had all been helpful, so far... But in the grand scheme of things, that was nothing... right? She felt her fear rise as possibilities began to circle her mind. Had Sam, had any of them, all of them, manipulated her like they had manipulated her parents to get her to accept them? Like Sam had just manipulated that man? Had she been tricked? Had they lied about not wanting to hurt her?

It was what she expected, after all, a part of her in the deep dark recesses of her mind, whispered.

Her fathers voice broke her out of her growing spiral, forcing her back into the present as he introduced her to someone else from the company. Mika put that thought from her mind to focus on the now, and the battle in front of her.

Later, having pulled herself away from another round of questions with scripted answers, nursing the beginnings of a stress induced headache and feeling a little sick from too much tension, too much anxiety, too many thoughts rushing around her head, she slipped away from the crowd. She made her way to the kitchen to make herself a particular soft drink that wasn’t laid out on the table already. Just outside the door she stopped when she heard voices ahead:

“Seriously dude, she’s human, she doesn’t know how all this works!” Matthew. He sounded exasperated, frustrated.

“Yeah, thanks for stating the fucking obvious, Matthew.” That one was Sam and he sounded tense, she would even go so far as to say upset.

“Look, bro, I get it, I do, but you really gotta tone it down.”

“I’m sorry, okay?! I- I will. I just-” He sighed. “I never meant to frighten her, I only wanted to help.” Definitely upset. She blinked at that, suddenly feeling torn, but she didn’t have time to dwell on that feeling...

Damien spoke up then, and her heart began to thunder. “We know that, Sam. She just needs more time, a lot more. It’s not just you though, we all need to be more careful around her. Using our abilities to get her parents to accept us alarmed her as well. She fears we did that to her, too.”

“Oh, shit...

“No, seriously??”

Mika bolted, walking as fast as she dared.

E avesdropping around a mindreader… I’m in trouble… think, think of something else, anything else!

Overwhelmed suddenly and near panicking, breathing harder then she knew was socially appropriate all she wanted was to get away, to hide. Damien… I can’t hide from him…!

Fanatically she scrambled to try and think of something, anything other the fact that she had just been eavesdropping. Passing the buffet again she focused her mind on that. It was the first and only thing she could think to latch on to in her frantic state.

It’s a good buffet! Really, really, good. A nice wide selection, and everyone really seems to like it, which is good...

She made for the front door, heels clicking rapidly on the polished floor.

Yeah, it’s a good buffet. The pastry on the mini pies is lovely, nice and tasty, not soggy at all.

Tears stung her eyes as she fought for composure.

The chicken was good too, tangy and spicy. I’m glad Suzu liked it, though she still dunked hers in extra spicy chilli sauce, but hay, that’s Suzu. Naomi liked the quiche better though...

Just before her hand reached the door a voice made her jump.

“Miss?”

James. He sounded concerned. Worried, even.

Her back to him, heart racing, she didn’t know what to think.

“I’m fine.” She squeaked, scrambling for something, anything to say. She wasn’t fine and she didn’t sound fine, either. “I’m just getting some air.”

“Did something happen?” She heard him step closer and her fear spiked, making her stand straighter, hands twitching and sweaty. The sounds of the party were beginning to distort in her mind, like everything was underwater.

She couldn’t look at him, couldn’t dare to bring herself to look at his face though keeping her back turned was beginning to make her tremble. “No, no, I-I’m, I'm just a bit stressed. Everything's going well though, t-thank you.” Her mask was a shield, she wielded it even as she felt it begin to shatter, saw the pieces falling away.

“Mika, if there is anything you want to talk to me about, I’m right here, if you wish it...”

“No. No, I-I just need air. Thank you.” She put her hand on the door, needing to get away, now, now, now...

Opening the door before anything else could be said she went outside as calmly yet quickly as she could manage without feeling like she was making a scene and started walking quickly in the opposite direction to Damien along the side of the house.

James didn’t follow.

She wasn’t wearing the right shoes for walking on the grass but she went anyway, heels sinking into the soft turf when she didn’t step carefully enough. She stumbled a few times but kept her balance, barely. She kept moving, needing to get away, needing privacy. She kept going until she had gone as far as she could without walking on flowers or passing the property boundary, though going further was tempting. Only the fear of punishment, coiled in the back of her mind like a viper, an old companion, stopped her.

The ground was dry enough, so, hitching her dress out of the way, she found a sheltered spot out of sight behind some bushes and knelt on the dirt, ignoring the press of small bits of bark on her skin.

For a few moments, everything was relatively quiet, the sounds of the party muffled by distance and foliage. Breathing deeply she tried to control herself, tried to fight the tightness in her throat, the prickling in her eyes, the crushing weight on her chest, the nausea.

She hated how it sounded when the first sob broke loose, crying out in frustration at her perceived weakness.

After the third sob she gave up and, burying her face in her hands, she cried.

Damien knew. He knew all about her suspicions, her fears, and now his brothers did too. What did that mean? What would happen? What would they do? What would they do? What could they do?

That thought, ‘what could they do?’, made her gasp as her breathing quickened. There was so much, so, so much, and her mind went to all of the darkest places it could possibly go.

They were five grown males, for starts, and she was alone...

Ears starting to pound with her pulse, her sense of reason began to shatter completely and suddenly running away, crossing the property boundary, began to seem like the only option...

A little way away she heard a movement and her head whipped up toward the sound, holding her breath. Illuminated by moonlight, she could make out Matthew near by, heading her way cautiously. He held up his hands when she saw him and froze.

“Hay...” His voice and eyes were soft, sad and worried. As though speaking to a frightened child he said, “Please, don’t run or anything, it’s okay. It’s okay. I just wanna talk, that’s all. I won’t hurt you or do anything else, I swear. Just talking, I promise.”

She let go of the breath she was holding with another sob and scrambled to her feet, too frightened to stay prone on the ground like that. Her hands clenched into fists as she turned to look at him. Matthew’s face fell and he took a couple of steps back, hands still up in a placating gesture.

She took a step away from him too, uncaring of the plant she crushed under her heel. “H-Have you all been using your powers on me? Are you just trying to control me?” She blurted, voice shaky, frightened but seeing no reason to hide her suspicions at this point. They all knew anyway.

“No, no we haven’t. We’ve done nothing that you don’t know about anyway. Just those kisses when we met.” He seemed sincere, serious but kind.

“Liar!” She accused, defensive in her fear now. Her anger bubbled in her chest.

“What?” He looked confused and surprised.

“Sam did. This morning. He, he touched my head and I felt calm. I-it was like this wave and I felt calm. What was that?”

Matthew grimaced. “Ah, that. That’s something else… Sam’s an idiot though, he shouldn’t have done that.”

“And what was that, Matthew? What did he do to me?! And how do you know? You weren’t there!” Her anger was rising more and more, trying to protect herself.

“I know about it because it left a hint of his energy on you, like a signature, and we asked him about it. And its nothing bad, I swear! He just shouldn’t have done it. You had a nightmare this morning, right? The others told me about it. Well, Sam was just trying to comfort you, that’s all, I promise.”

“How do I know? How do I know it wasn’t like what he and Erik did to mom and dad? They certainly have no idea you guys played them!”

Matthew ran his hands through his hair, clearly frustrated and upset, “Okay, okay, one thing at a time, alright? First, the thing that Sam did this morning, yeah? I’ll explain that more, first, okay?”

She eyed him suspiciously but nodded for him to continue.

“Right. We, demons, have many ways we can use magic, okay? For us, incubi and succubi, using magic through touch is a big one, but! It’s not like, like casting a spell on someone, not the thing that Sam did anyway. There is a whole group of touch based magic that we do that is, basically, like a language. We use it to interact with each other and sometimes other kinds of demons too, along side talking and stuff, like humans do.”

She listened intently, still not trusting but intrigued enough to have calmed down a little.

Matthew continued, “The thing that Sam did, it’s literally just something we do to reassure someone who is afraid… like, like what you would do for a kid who’s afraid of a storm or something like that. That’s all, I swear.”

“… That’s it?” She was dubious but he seemed sincere.

“That’s it.”

“No… side effects or anything? Like making you trust them?”

“What? No...” Matthew eyed her curiously. “… Why do you ask?”

She shifted, uncomfortable, unwilling to say more. Suddenly she remembered, “There was something else he did.”

Matthew groaned, hand coming up over his eyes. “Seriously?” He shook his head then said as though directed back at Sam inside the mansion, “Dude, it’s only been one day...”

She snorted despite herself. “That’s what I keep thinking.”

“Heh. Yeah, it has been a lot in a short time, hasn’t it.” He shook his head. “So, what else did my idiot brother do?”

“I… His eyes glowed.”

Matthew frowned. “When? What happened?”

“It, it was when I went to help him in the front yard. Well, he had already finished when I got out there-”

Matthew groaned again, making her pause. Face in both hands now, he said, sounding long suffering, “He shouldn’t have done that.”

She couldn’t help the small twitch of her lips in amusement, blinking her own emotional shift. She continued, “He was doing TaiChi when I got out there-”

“Oh, of course he was!” He was watching her from between his fingers, cringing. Despite herself, she found his humour infectious, and a little calming.

“Heh. Weeell, I, I recognised the form he was doing. It’s one I have wanted to learn for years, so, I decided to try and follow him for a bit… I, um, caught my foot on a brick and fell. Sam caught me.”

“You fell.” He let his hands drop then. His lips twitched into a small smile, face softening.

“Yeah. I was just about to head back inside after when I saw it, just for an instant when I looked back at him.”

Matthew chuckled, surprising her. “Erm, by any chance did you catch the colour his eyes glowed?”

“Erm… dunno, they just glowed?”

Matthew grinned shaking his head. “So, green then, huh?” She nodded. “Ah man, Sam… He didn’t do anything, not to you, anyway. He was just making sure you weren’t hurt, think enhanced senses…”

“He was checking up on me?” The thought warmed her more then she wanted it to.

“Yup!” He grinned. A look flashed across his face, too quick for her to follow, and he said, “Sam’s a meathead and a bit of an idiot, but he won’t hurt you. You really don’t have anything to worry about with him.”

She took a breath, steadying herself and looked at him levelly. She didn’t trust this yet, there was still too much she didn’t know, it was still too soon... But, she would be lying if she said she didn’t feel a little reassured.

“What about what he did to that man?”

Matthew shrugged. “From what Sam and Damien said, just your basic command type of power, like hypnosis. Sam’s pretty good at that one, though how I don’t know. He doesn't seem the sort, does he? Heh.” He gave a small cheeky grin at that, though it faded when she didn’t respond to his humour. “So, erm," he continued with a quick intake of breath, "that power only works for simple things, things people can do without thinking about it too much. Like going home after a long day when you know the rout, doing chores you’ve done a hundred times, stuff like that. Granted, that one could be a bit intimidating but it has some big limiters. One of them is fear; can’t use it to put someone in a position that would frighten them, like putting them in danger, they’d just snap out of it right away. It only works for simple commands too, like ‘go home’.” Matthew grimaced then, “Though, honestly, Sam was being a bit stupid using that command there, given the guy probably hasn’t been here before. He’d have probably pulled out of it before he got too far; He’d have had to think too much about where he was going.”

It was a lot to take in, but it didn’t seem that bad, if Matthew was telling the truth. She asked, nervous but determined, “What happened to him, that man?” It was worrying her now. If something had happened to him…

“Sam changed the command to ‘go have a nap’. He’s sleeping in his family's car if you wanna check on him.”

She snorted, surprised amusement pushing through her fear for a brief moment. “Seriously?? Sam told him to have a nap? And he did?”

Matthew flashed a grin. “Yup! Pretty easy to pull that off, given he was as drunk as he was. I can point the car out for you later… I think I know which one it is. Shouldn’t be difficult to find, anyway.”

“I’d like that...” She couldn’t deny it, it was a little funny, and reassuring. She sighed as her amusement faded and her anxiety began to claw at her again. There was still one more thing… “And my parents?” She asked.

“That’s not as bad as it might look, either. All Erik and Sam did was take an idea that was already in your parent’s heads, that we are servants, and just sort of, emphasise it. Like shining a spot light on it. Its why they opened the doors for them like that, to give that first impression to build on.”

“Clever...”

She frowned. Clever, and manipulative. There were a lot of possible implications for a technique like that. If Matthew was lying about them using their powers on her, that ability could be the one they had used. She would have to think carefully about it…. Think… Damien.

She paled as she remembered; She wouldn’t be able to work this out alone, in privacy, with Damien around.

Matthew was watching her carefully. “Are you alright?”

“I…” She couldn't speak, fear spiralling again. 

Anything I do, anything I think, any fear, any suspicion, he'll know... It was a suffocating thought.

“We didn’t hurt them, that isn’t a harmful ability, at all.” Matthew offered, cautiously.

She nodded, feeling ill, her chest too tight, breathing too quick. There were too many unknowns, the stakes were too high, the danger too great and the time too short.

She wanted to hide. But she couldn’t.

She was starting to panic.

“Hay,” Matthew said, sounding really worried now, “it’s alright, it’s alright, really. If you think we did that to you, please, don’t worry, please. It wouldn’t have worked like that.”

She looked at him wide eyed, tears starting to fall again. She wanted to ask what he meant but couldn’t find the words.

Matthew sighed tightly, looking like he wanted to reach for her or at least get closer, but was holding himself back. “Okay, just, listen to me, please?” Her focus snapped to him. “That power they used on your parents, it takes one idea, one simple idea, and shines a light on it, yeah? That’s fine and well for a party like this, or if your parents only ever see us now and then but that wouldn’t work if they were here all the time. Its like a disguise. You can’t wear a disguise all the time, eventually your wigs gonna fall off.”

She snorted at his description, though it came out more like a sob.

“There, you see? Living under the same roof as you, it wouldn’t work. Even something like trust… do you have any idea how complicated trust is? That’s not simple at all, there are so many layers to it, and it’s fragile too, this wouldn’t work on that…”

She frowned, blinking as her tears eased again. He seemed sincere, still, and it did make sense. Wariness warred with a desire to trust, fear clashed with a wish to be able to just relax.

He sighed as he watched her, expression pained. “I am really, really sorry we dropped all this on you, you don’t deserve this, at all. I wish there was something we could do to prove that we really don’t want to hurt you, that we haven’t been trying to control or manipulate you, really. We are so, so grateful that you let us stay, but...” he took a breath and gave her a sad smile, “If this really is too much, if you really can’t handle us being here, then… Then we can leave.”

Leave? A thought cut through her fear; The gang out there that was hunting them had almost killed them. They’d face that again just so she could have her space?

What…? Why?? Why would they…?

She felt lost, crying yet again, “I… Y-you guys… t-that gang...”

“Don’t worry about us.” Matthew said firmly with a shake of his head, determined and kind. “Whatever comes, we’ll take care of it.”

His expression was a little too even, his eyes a little distant. She didn’t understand what it meant but a feeling in her gut made her ache.

Hand over her mouth, eyes wide, she blurted, still crying, “Stay. Please. S-stay. I don’t want a-anyone to b-be h-h-hurt.”

Matthew’s stance relaxed a little, but he smiled sadly at her. “We don’t want you to be hurt either. This is a lot for you, we understand.”

She heard the hesitancy in his voice, felt him start to pull away, and it tore at her heart, despite her fears. She shook her head violently, hands over her eyes now, sobbing. “P-please, p-promise me you’ll a-all s-s-stay? A-at least until its s-safe? Please.

Matthew was silent for a few moments as he watched her scrub at her eyes, trying to get herself under control. “You are so sweet...” He said, softly, eventually. “I'm so sorry.”

"Please!!" She insisted, vehemently.

"I..."

"S-stay, please, Matthew, please...!"

"I, I will..." He whispered, with a warmth she almost missed he spoke so quietly.

She sobbed and murmured a 'thank you' as she tried to get her breathing under control.

Suddenly, with her fears over the incubi being, if not gone, then manageable for now, a new one reared in her mind. Her head snapped up and she stared wide eyed at the mansion through the bushes. “Fuck!!”

“What??” Matthew asked, alarmed at her sudden shift, looking back the way she was.

“The party! Dad! Shit!!” She had been gone too long, she knew it. She was in trouble. Her crying intensified, unstoppable now.

Matthew looked back at her wide eyed and apologetic. “Oh!! Oh, right, sorry! I forgot to say! It’s okay, It’s fine! My brothers are covering for you, its alright! Please, don’t worry!”

She barely heard him. The dam had burst, there was no stopping it now until it ran its course. Uncaring for her dress this time she began to crumple to the ground.

Matthew darted forward at last, drawing her into his arms. He didn’t hold her up but sank down onto the ground with her, pulling her partly onto his lap, her head against his chest.

Rocking her gently, one hand soothing over her hair, the other rubbing small circles on her back, he said, softly, “It’s okay, Mika, it’s okay. I’m here. We’re here for you. You won’t be in trouble from your dad, we’re covering for you, its okay...”

He carried on like that for a little while as she bawled, just muttering soothing nothings and reassurances against her hair.

Without her ever having meant to she began talking too, about everything; the stress of school, needing to get that perfect score, the perfect grade, always more work, always more study; the pressure to take over the toy company as CEO when she hadn’t even really lived yet, when it hadn’t been her choice, hadn’t had a choice in the first place; her grandfather, how much she missed him, how much his loss had hurt, how much he had cared for her, the times they had spent together; her father and his coldness, how he pushed her, seemed to set her up to fail, gave no room for argument, how he had slapped her - and not for the first time - when she had confronted him about her grandfather; her mother and her lack of real engagement, how she was there but not there; the pain of living in her grandfathers old home so soon after his death, and how, despite it being hers now, she barely knew it; And, finally, her fears regarding the brothers and their abilities, her confusion over Sam, how James and Erik both charmed and intimidated her at the same time, how much she was struggling with Damien’s ability despite enjoying his company otherwise and how guilty she felt over her difficulties given he had no choice either.

“And me?” He asked, lightly teasing, though his voice was a little tight, a little rough.

She was silent for a moment then said, in a serious tone “Too cute.”

Matthew gave a bark of laughter, “Oh! Well, if that’s all then-”

“You aren’t all you seem.”

He stilled.

She continued. “T-this? Tonight? This is… t-there have been points that have felt so... different  to how you have been t-the rest of the time… Y-you’re a little like Erik, I think; you’re hiding stuff, parts of yourself, but, but you do it better then he does. If it h-hadn’t have been for all this, here, I-I’m not sure I would have seen it, not this much… Unless, unless something else came up, I-I guess... It’s… worrying.”

“I...” He cleared his throat. “Everyone has parts of themselves they hide...”

“… Until yesterday, n-no one I knew had mind altering powers... That puts a whole new spin on things for me.”

“… Fair point.”

She pulled away from his now soaked chest to look up at his face. She gasped, going a little wide eyed; he’d been crying too. She took in his own tear streaked face and slightly bloodshot eyes, the watery smile he gave her. She reached up to touch his cheek briefly, feeling the wetness under her fingertips.

She hadn’t expected this.

He ducked his head a little, with a barest huff of a laugh, “Hay, I have a heart too, you know...” His small smile faded, expression turning sorrowful. “I didn’t realize how much you had on your plate, and so much at once, too. I’m sorry, so sorry, that we’ve added to that.” He looked back up at her seriously, sincerely. His hand brushed her hair lightly where it fell over her shoulder.

She nodded, glancing down herself. After a few moments of silence she remembered something, and frowned. She glared back up at him. “You didn’t promise.”

“Huh?”

“About not leaving.”

“Oh! Oh, erm...” He sighed and glanced away, smiling sadly. “I, I want to look after you too, Mika. If that means leaving, well, so be it.” He sounded reluctant, but resigned and determined.

“Matthew-”

“A compromise.” He looked her square in the eye. “If I do leave, I promise, if I have any say in it, it wont be a surprise. I’ll say goodbye.”

Her eyes began watering again unbidden and she suddenly hated the idea of him leaving at all, even with all the stress having him and his bothers here was causing her. Right here, right now, having poured her heart out, Matthew was a lifeline and one she hatted the idea of loosing. Besides, the thought of him and his brothers putting their lives on the line again just because she couldn’t cope wasn’t one she was willing to stomach. At. All.

Distressed and overwhelmed again, touched this time, she let herself fall forward to lightly rest against Matthew again, ignoring the dampness of her previous tears, as fresh ones fell. “Matthew...”

He wrapped his arms around her, holding her comfortingly. Joking weakly, he said, “Well, hay, on the bright side these tears are a good sign this time, yes? Better then you being frightened of me, anyway, heh… sorry, that was bad.”

She leaned a little closer, her head touching his jaw lightly, but said nothing.

“Hay, whatever happens, I meant it; don’t worry about us. We have no intention of dying either, you know. We’d be fine, we still have a few tricks up our sleeves.”

“… That’s a lie. If it weren’t you wouldn’t all have been half dead in the lobby yesterday.”

“… Yeeeah… Yeah, okay, ya caught me. Though in our defence we were low on energy then.” He admitted with a wince.

“You’d do better now?”

“Well, we know about them now, so...” He shrugged.

That wasn’t good enough for her. She sat up again, glaring at him.

She smacked his arm.

“Ow!”

“Promise.” She narrowed her eyes at him pointedly.

“Okay, okay! I promise I’ll do what I can to make sure we all stick this out, at least until we can be safe… happy?” He said with a weak smile.

She made a face, regarding him. “… Mmmm… Fine.” She wasn’t happy, it wasn’t really what she wanted, but it’d do for now. She didn’t have the energy to argue any more.

Matthew snorted suddenly in surprised amusement.

She blinked at him. “What?”

He sniggered, “It’s just, suddenly you reminded me of Sam. Ya know, with the violence and all.” He teased. She gaped, not sure how to take that, and he laughed. “Hay, its all good. You’re a lot smarter then he is. Prettier, too. Beautiful, even. And I’d never say that about Sam.” He grinned, both flirty and playful.

Now she blushed, floundering in the face of his unexpected flirting. “I, I…!”

“Hehe, sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I’ll quit, hehe... You are cute though!” He grinned and had a slight blush himself. He looked away with a small sigh. She looked the other way, trying to process what had just happened.

Why would he do that? He can’t be serious… I’m not that pretty...

He looked back at her, smiling coyly before growing serious again, smile fading into a grimace. “Hay, um, I hate to bring this up but how are you feeling now? Think you can head back inside? It’s kinda late, you should probably socialise a little more before everyone leaves.”

“Oh! I...” She froze, then sagged. He was right. She hated it but he was right. She cringed. “Yeah, yeah I can go back in. I’m a mess, though.”

“I, um, if you want, I can help with that. With magic.” Matthew offered, hesitantly.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, er… Oh! Watch me. I’ll fix myself up first so you can see. Okay?”

“Okay...”

He smiled and nodded, pushing her back a little so she could see. “Alright then.” He eyes flashed gold and a faint gold and purple mist appeared over his face, neck and chest. It vanished almost as quickly as it appeared and with it, all signs of the emotional upheaval he had just shared with her. A flicker of gold over his irises and even his eyes weren’t bloodshot anymore.

“Wow… That’s… Very convenient.”

“Heh, yeah… So, may I?” His offer was still hesitant, to the point it almost made her cringe.

She nodded with a small smile, burying her lingering fears as ruthlessly as she could. “Okay.”

He smiled a little brighter and nodded back. “Okay, here we go...”

His eyes flashed gold again and a wash of warmth rolled over her skin. It was gone almost immediately. She brought her hands up to her face and the top of the dress; all dry.

“One last thing.” He said, cautiously, still as kind as ever, “That didn’t fix the redness in your eyes, but, if I may touch you, I can fix that, too...”

“Oh.” She wanted to ask what that would entail, but, suddenly, his hesitancy, treating her like glass, was beginning to annoy her. Not that she blamed him. “G-go ahead.” She cringed at the stutter.

Matthew sighed. After a pause as he considered her, he said, “It’s okay to be afraid, Mika. This is all completely new to you, and it’s not like you have had the gentlest of introductions, either… Plus, the timing really sucked.”

She snorted in agreement at the last part, but still looked at him surprised. “I… thanks...”

“Its okay. So, um, to fix your eyes, I’ll just need to touch your eyelids. You’ll see a gold glow through them, and warmth, but that’s it. It’ll only take a couple of seconds. That sound alright?”

She nodded, relieved and grateful, feeling more comfortable now with this, and him, then she had expected. “Ok, that sounds good.” She even managed to smile a little, if weakly.

Matthew nodded, looking happier now. “Okay then. Now, close your eyes...”

She obeyed.

She would have been lying if she said she didn’t feel a twinge of fear at being so vulnerable like this, blind, but, it was manageable now. His touch on both sets of her eyelids was feather light, she barely even twitched. Just as he said there would be, a soft gold glow shone through her closed eyes and a pleasant warmth washed over her face. It was, she admitted to herself, quite nice.

The light faded and Matthew pulled his fingers away. Blinking, she opened her eyes and could immediately feel the difference.

“There.” He smiled. “Good as new. Would you like to check in a mirror?”

She nodded and he reached into his pocket, pulling out a small hand mirror. Accepting it, she checked herself. Though it wasn’t entirely clear in the moonlight, she looked fine.

Handing it back to him with a smile, she said, “Thank you…” She looked down, a little bashful. “Really. Thank you, so much, for helping me tonight, for being here with me. I, I feel much, much better now.” She looked up to him with genuine warmth.

True, there was still some weight sitting on her chest, she still had suspicions, but this went far beyond what she could ever have dreamed of him doing for her; being out here with her, trying to help her.

She hadn’t expected this.

Matthew smiled brightly back, looking relieved. “You’re welcome! That’s good! I mean, I’m glad. Really, really glad. I… I…” His smile softened, “… Mika… I know that it’s too soon for you to really trust us yet, but I really, really want to earn your trust. It would mean a lot to me. I know my brothers feel the same, too.”

She blushed, ducking her head briefly with a small smile. Looking back up at him, she nodded. “That sounds nice, I think I’d like that.”

Matthew’s smile was radiant, and she couldn’t help but smile wider in response, fears be damned.

 

Chapter Text

Back inside, the last hour of the party passed remarkably well. Despite Matthew’s reassurances that his brothers had been covering for her absence it still surprised her that no one really enquired about where she had been, not even her father. He had given her a long look when he first saw her, but whatever he had been thinking, he didn’t comment on it, simply turned to introduce her to an older man he had been talking to, another higher up from the toy company. As she fell back into the practised routine of scripted questions and answers, she almost sagged from relief; she wasn’t in trouble after all. They really had covered for her.

It surprised her.

As she settled back in, however, keeping half an eye on the rest of the room, she noticed something odd; Erik had vanished.

The other four were there, playing their roles as they had before. Matthew would catch her eye more now, giving her small encouraging smiles and at one point a quick thumbs up, making her smile in turn before having to resume her mask of bland politeness. Sam, on the other hand, seemed to be avoiding her gaze. For the most part James carried on exactly as he had before, all professional poise and pristine manners, though she was certain she saw him glancing her way more now. As for Damien, whenever she happened to look his way he was always busy focused on something else but a few times, when she was talking to someone else, just in her periphery she could have sworn she saw him looking at her. It made her tense and she couldn’t help but fear that, even at the edge of the property, he had still heard her earlier. After a little while, probably knowing he’d been caught, he stopped.

As the guests slowly began to file out as the hour drew to a close she kept her eyes open but still there was still no sign of Erik.

Eventually, with less then half the crowd remaining she managed to catch hold of Matthew, the only one she felt comfortable approaching at that point. Quietly, she said. “Hay.”

“Yo, what’s up?” He responded, just as quietly, keeping his body language respectful given they were in view of the guests, and her parents.

“Where’s Erik?”

He cringed slightly, not quite meeting her eyes. “Oh, heh, he’s fine… I can explain later, okay?”

She frowned. “You guys shouldn’t be going off by yourselves given, well, everything. Where is he?”

Matthew looked distinctly uncomfortable. “Not far, I swear. Trust me, okay, Erik will be more then capable of looking after himself and, depending on some things, he should be back soon anyway.”

“Depending on what?” She asked, suspicious.

Matthew winced.

He was saved from answering by the approach of her mother, leading a young man with dirty bond hair and hazel eyes. She frowned after Matthews rapidly retreating back, hoping he could feel her disapproval before turning to her mother and her guest.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After the last of the guests had left she said her goodbyes to Suzu and Naomi.

With a hug and a kiss to either cheek, Suzu had taken the opportunity to whisper, “Call us when you have time, we’ll throw you a real house warming party!” Pulling back with a wink out of sight of her parents, she grinned.

Mika smiled with a shake of her head and refrained from answering, uncertain given her house-guests, before returning Suzu’s goodbye hug and cheek kisses; you didn't spend so long around such very proud Italians, her family included, without learning to adapt to them.

After she had seen the girls and her parents out, she sagged against the doors of the mansion slightly. Being away from her parents at last was wonderful and so very numbing at the same time. Leaning on the doors, she was tempted to just sink to the floor there and then. There was, however, still one point of worry, one problem that was still keeping her on her feet; Erik still wasn’t back.

Turning she walked over to where the four present incubi were standing. Exhausted but concerned, she asked before any one else could speak. “Where is Erik?” She demanded, worried.

“Weeeeell…” Matthew rocked on the balls of his feet, uncomfortable.

“Miss,” James stepped forward, his composure practised but his eyes showed unease as he watched her. “please don’t take this the wrong way but...” he glanced over his brothers but non of them seemed to have anything to offer, all looking somewhere else; James was on his own. He sighed, looking back to her. “With how events unfolded tonight, we were, to be blunt, uncertain of our future here. Given that, we thought it prudent to take… precautions.”

“What precautions and what does this have to do with Erik being missing?” She fidgeted, uncomfortable, tense. It stung that they had doubted her, that she had given them such a valid reason to doubt her. For all her fears, she still didn’t want them to come to any harm and she had meant it when she had told Matthew that she would like the opportunity to get to know them, to trust them, in time.

“Well-” James began, cautiously.

From the back of their small group, however, Sam spoke up, suddenly. “We need energy. Erik’s getting some.” He had the attitude of someone removing a band-aid quickly, rather then going through it slowly.

She gaped at him, the pieces crashing into place in her mind, the implication in what he said and how he said it being quite clear. She could feel her face all but glow.

Sam...!” James gaped at him, sounding exasperated, disapproving and even a little disbelieving.

“Oh my god...” She whispered behind her hand, bug eyed. Her shoulders began to shake.

Matthew made a pained noise in his throat as he glared at Sam while Damien closed his eyes and hung his head.

Sam just shrugged, hands in his pockets, looking at a spot on the floor. He grumbled, “No point beating around the fucking bush...”

The first bubble of hysterical laughter over took her and she joked, eyes starting to water, “No, because apparently that’s what Erik’s doing!”

As one they turned to gape at her. She lost it.

Doubling over, she clutched at her midriff, laughter and tears uncontrolled. Glancing back up at them only made it worse; Damien, a slight pink blush over his cheeks, hand over his mouth, was laughing a little too. Matthew, was staring at her slack jawed. James was bug eyed and looking at a complete loss as to what to do or how to respond, mouth working as though he wanted to speak without making a sound. Sam was looking at her like she had grown a second head, though a smirk was gradually working its way onto his face.

Slowly she crumpled to the floor, clutching her sides now. “Oh. My. God. Oh my god...” She gasped before laughing hard again.

Laughing a little himself, Matthew stepped over to her and sat down next to her. “Well,” He said with a giggle, “That’s one way to react to that kind of information.” His hand came to rest lightly on her shoulder and she reached up blindly to clutch at his sleeve.

James knelt at her other side with a sigh and began to run his hand soothingly across her back, though he didn’t say anything.

She laughed and laughed and laughed… Until her laughter faded and she was gasping for air, tears trickling down her face, crying softly. She cried for almost as long as she laughed, though this time she didn’t know why, only that she couldn’t stop.

When her tears faded at last, anxiety crept around her again, faint but enough to be felt even through her exhaustion. She said, quietly, “I-I’m sorry. P-please, please don’t leave. I don’t want anyone to be h-hurt.”

“It’s alright,” Matthew said soothingly beside her, “It’s been a long day, we understand. I said I would try to make sure we all stick this out, and I meant it. We aren’t leaving, certainly not tonight.”

“Agreed.” James said, softly, “Please, don’t worry about us, Mika. We wont go anywhere if you don’t want us to.”

She nodded, blinking, her head starting to clear a little.

Belatedly, she realized that she was slumped over on her side now, head and shoulders on James’ lap. She blushed, pushing herself up shakily. James and Matthew helped her, propping her up to sit between them.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered.

“Don’t apologize.” Sam said, kindly, surprising her. “You’re stressed to high heaven, we get it.”

She looked up to see him and Damien sat shoulder to shoulder next to each other only a couple of paces away. Their nearest hands were pressed together, wrist to wrist, palm to palm, fingertips to fingertips. It took a moment for her to take the sight of them in and she blinked in concern when she saw how sad, how painfully sad Damien looked as he watched her, his eyes intent.

“Are you alright?” She asked him with a small frown.

Next to her James sighed, while Matthew squeezed her hand that she hadn’t realized he had been holding. Sam shook his head, looking down, sighing. When he glanced back up at her, his eyes were gentle.

The sadness vanished from Damien’s face a little too quickly and he gave her a small, soft smile that made her heart warm. “I’m alright. Thank you.”

She nodded though she was still concerned. He obviously wasn’t going to say anything else though so she took the time to more fully assimilate the position they were all in, sat in the middle of the lobby... Because of her. Suddenly embarrassed, she went to stand, but paused as a wave of exhaustion hit her. She idly wished sleeping on the floor were socially acceptable, and comfortable.

Damien smiled slightly as James and Matthew, a hand on each arm, gently helped her to her feet.

“Come on,” Matthew said, “Let’s get you to bed.” She nodded with a weak smile and made to take a step forward as James moved away. Matthew however stepped up closer to her.

Suddenly she felt his arm on her back and behind her knees. The world tilted as he picked her up and she squeaked in surprise, cringing, her hands flying to grab his jacket. She heard Sam and Damien chuckle.

She looked up at Matthew wide eyed and blushing. He grinned back down at her and said, “Humour me, okay? I promise I wont drop you, I'm stronger then I look.” She pouted but relaxed a little, to which he simply chuckled lightly and walked towards the stairs.

“Erik isn’t back yet.” She noted.

“Don’t worry.” James said from somewhere behind Matthew. “He’s fine, we checked.”

“Someone smack his arm or something for me for staying out late and making me worry.” She grumbled sleepily.

“I volunteer for that.” She could hear Sam’s amused smirk, even if she couldn’t see him.

Half way up the stairs however, Matthew froze. Her mouth suddenly felt dry, like all the moisture had been sucked out of the air.

“Malix!” Damien hissed, voice low and cold.

The anger in his tone had her heart pumping, adrenaline forcing her back to alertness. Her fear spiked further when she remembered the name from her nightmare, something that felt like a week ago rather then just that morning. Quickly but carefully Matthew lowered her to the floor by the wall, turning to stand with his back to her, facing down into the lobby, shielding her with his body. She recognised the subtle shift in his posture; he was ready to fight.

There was a strange sensation in the air and she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.

“Oh-ho-ho… It didn’t take long to find you little shits after all…!”

She squeaked in alarmed surprise, hand flying to cover her mouth. The voice, she same one from her nightmare, echoed around the lobby like a spector.

“Don’t worry, no one will hurt you.” James said from the bottom of the stairs. She could feel the anger, the tension from him, from all of the incubi presently there.

“Are you sure? Are you REALLY sure?” The voice taunted, as the bitter, smoky feeling in the lobby grew. She could almost taste ash on her tongue.

The front doors flew open with a bang, making her jump. As the two figures crossed the threshold, she screamed, muffled behind her hand.

A man and a woman, he with white hair, she with brown fading to orange at the ends. Their clothes were rough, blood stained, tattered. Their ears were pointed, the whites of their eyes tainted yellow. Their skin… it was like they had no skin. Red, she could see the muscle and twisting red and black blood vessels that should have been hidden. The air warped around them, like a heatwave.

Their heads snapped in her direction at her cry and she saw the male grin, his teeth pointed.

Matthew shifted to the side, blocking them from her sight.

Words were exchanged but for a moment, she heard nothing, ears full of the hum of near-panic. Forcing her breathing, swallowing her fear as best she could, she peeked around Matthew, the sounds of the room swimming back into focus.

“Aww, whats the matter, boys?” Malix taunted them, “You really didn’t think I wouldn’t find you, did you?”

Sam, Damien and James were at the bottom of the stairs while Matthew had stayed with her, about half way up.

Sam growled at the taunt, stepping forward in a combat stance, fists balled. “I hoped you would you piece of-”

BANG

In her mind it was as though the world froze in that instant. She saw his hand whip out from his pocket, saw the gun, saw him point it right at Sam’s head.

She would have screamed if her throat hadn’t been locked tight, if she hadn’t been holding her breath again.

No...

There were more words, drowned out by the hum in her head. She knew it hadn't worked, she could see Sam still standing, but her mind kept replaying that split second over and over, of Malix going to shoot Sam in the head, right there. Right in front of her.

“Why the fuck wont you work?!” Malix’s frustrated snarl and the clicks of his gun pulled her back, but only for a second.

In her mind that moment replayed again; Malix pulling the gun from his pocket, pointing it at Sam, firing it at his head, aiming to kill.

No… no…

Next to her, Matthew put his hand over his mouth and muttered something, something short but too quiet for her to hear. After a moment, his eyes flashed blue.

“What did you say, shrimp!?” Malix snarled at Damien.

“This place has a seal, protecting it from hell-born magic.” Damien declared, drawing her back to the present. She took a deep, harsh, shuddering breath.

By the front doors the woman was looking around the room, a small hungry smile on her lips.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?!” Malix snapped. In a fit of frustration he threw his gun right at Sam, at his head.

She saw Sam dodge but in her mind that loud bang resounded again.

No, please...please...

Matthew was looking at her from the corner of his eye, hand still over his mouth. “Breathe, Mika, breathe.” He said to her, quietly, “We wont let them hurt you.”

She barely heard him.

At the bottom of the stairs, James said, “The previous owner placed a protective barrier around this house. From the looks of it, it only disables Hell-born magic.” There was the barest note of smugness in his voice she hadn’t heard from him before, not like this. Not edged in viciousness.

Enraged, Malix shouted, “Then what’s stopping me from DRAGGING YOUR ASSES OUT AND SHOOTING YOU THEN?!”

Malix threateningly motioned one clawed hand towards Sam, who stood closest to him.

Sam...

Malix’s hand shot out from his pocket, gun in hand. He aimed at Sam’s head and fired, trying to kill him, to kill Sam. Right in front of her.

NO!!!

Her world narrowed to a singular point, her feet moving without thinking. Everything else a blur, she rushed at the hand rail, swinging herself onto it, kicking off her heels as she went. She flew down it towards Malix, dismounting early to land cat like before charging him with a battle scream.

She had to stop him, had to stop him, had to put. Him. Down. Her instincts screamed at her.

“What the?!” Malix’s startled confusion was lost on her.

She threw her whole body at him, launching at his chest, sending them both sprawling closer to the front door, her on-top of him, her fists swinging before their momentum had fully stopped, all aimed at his face. The sounds of her fist on his flesh satisfied and drove her on, punch after punch after-

Pain and force exploded through her side knocking her off him. She cried out in pain but in that moment it was nothing to her; her mind didn't care about it any more then it cared about the incubi in the room. She felt Malix scramble away, making her snarl.

Suddenly brilliant purple and crimson light exploded through the lobby from somewhere behind and above her, blinding her. The air howled around her but through it she heard retreating footfalls, rapidly fading, and knew in her gut that one of them was Malix. Her instincts, her panic fuelled rage, roared at her to chase him, to end him, stop him, but she couldn’t follow through this.

As the light cleared she was on her feet, disorientated, blinking to clear her vision. Her eyes settled on the open front doors and she immediately went for them, teeth bared, fists clenched, heartbeat thundering in her ears. She was seeing red.

Suddenly Sam was in front of her, hands up in a pacifying gesture. “Mika!! Stop!!”

She didn’t hear him, the sound of a gunshot rang inside her head again, making her world narrow once more and she made to run past him, rage still burning strong.

Sam was behind her, his arms around her, pinning her arms to her sides before she realized what had happened. She shouted and struggled, trying to break free. Suddenly, she felt the fight begin to leave her, felt her rage bleed out of her, the red fog being pulled from her mind. Her struggles faded with it. As her perception cleared she felt the pull of energy, the last remnants of her rage like lines of blood red fire, being pulled from her… and into Sam.

She looked back towards him over her shoulder as she began to shake.

“You’re a fucking lunatic, you know that?!” He said. She thought he sounded worried.

Her vision bleary, exhaustion crashing though her, she couldn’t quite make out his expression and she wasn’t feeling too certain about his tone of voice either. As darkness closed in she couldn’t help her slight smile;

Sam was alright, that was good.

Chapter Text

Voices… the incubi. She could hear them talking.

Drifting in and out of consciousness she heard them speaking, though they sounded odd. Familiar but different. She recognised Erik at one point, and some part of her was happy at that. He was back and safe. Sam’s voice was a comfort too, while Matthew’s brought a sense of warmth.

There was a gentle touch on her head and the darkness rushed up around her once more, soothing and soft.

Cocooned, she drifted. The sense of not being alone followed her but it was a comforting sensation rather then a worrying one. Occasionally the sensation grew stronger, a protective presence wreathed in crimson light that soothed and relaxed her.

At one one point the darkness of sleep gave way and her drifting mind sharpened. Words rang out, the voices of the incubi familiar in her dream.

“I swear I’ll give my life to you.” James’ voice reached through the darkness and with it came the image of a burning sun, wreathed in twisting golden flames.

“Please let me love you.” Erik. His words brought forth the image of a crimson bubble, a pale pink star nestled far within amongst twirling ribbons of sparkling crimson energy.

“I’ll be by your side. Always.” Next was Sam. Now the image of a spinning ball of green fire appeared, white rays of light almost bursting from within it through the mass of green. Scarlet sparks danced around it.

“I can’t imagine living without you!” Matthew. A blue orb appeared, softly glowing and lightly streaked with whorls the colour of mustard. Patches of darker blue shifted within like many layers of clouds almost concealing a powder-blue light within.

“I want to be with you.” Damien voice summoned the image of a flickering white star, flashing and twinkling in the darkness.

She moaned softly, the power of her vision pulling her back to consciousness, the voices and images echoing in her head. The sounds of the room around her filtered through to her perception.

“She waking up? Already?” Sam. His voice was quiet and concerned, and not, she noted distantly, coming from within her own head this time.

“A dream woke her.” Damien said, softly.

“A dream? I didn’t sense anything.” Erik. He was speaking just as quietly as Sam though he sounded worried.

“A vision?” Sam sounded even more concerned at that.

“It must have been...” Damien said, contemplative.

“… It doesn’t matter right now. She’s still exhausted.” Erik’s tone was firm, if still quiet.

“Guys…?” She mumbled, groggily.

“Everything's alright, princess. You still need more rest, so, I want to use my power to send you back to sleep. Is that alright?” Erik sounded closer this time, his voice soothing.

Her body was heavy and she didn’t feel even remotely refreshed. More sleep sounded very good. Still half asleep anyway, she managed a quite, “’Kay...”

“Sleep well...”

There was a light touch to her forehead and darkness wrapped around her one more.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Images and sounds swam through her mind, growing stronger and stronger. Half formed, most of them passed her by without any real impact. Eventually, however, one scene solidified.

She was in the lobby of her grandfather’s mansion, stood on the stairs looking down. Malix was bellow her holding his gun out in front of him as four familiar bodies lay at his feet bleeding as he laughed cruelly. She tried to scream but had no voice.

Suddenly, in a blur of crimson Erik was in front of her, shielding her from the view. He pulled her into his arms and, confused, disoriented and afraid, she let him. The sound of Malix’s laughter faded into nothing.

“Oh, Mika…” He sounded sad.

In whirlwind of spinning red lights the room around them melted into a vibrant meadow, flowers everywhere, then beyond that were trees in all directions. It was the height of summer and a gentle breeze made the long grass sway.

“What is this?” She asked dazedly, after the lights faded.

“Just a dream.” He replied soothingly as she began to look around, still held lightly in his arms.

“A dream… it’s pretty.”

“Mmhmm… I hoped this would help you.”

“Help me? How?”

“A pleasant dream to wake from is always preferable, no? This will keep any nightmares away till then.”

“Oh, that’s nice, thank you!” She beamed up at him, happily. “…Is this your dream, then?”

“Only partly. And you are most welcome, princess.”

She was quiet then, pulling away from him enough to look around better. She took a breath enjoying the feel of the wind through her hair.

She smiled at him, feeling content, free from the nagging stress and anxiety that plagued her when awake. She turned to find a good place to sit on the grass and spotted one almost immediately. Sighing, she beckoned for him to sit next to her.

With a smile and a nod, he complied.

Relaxed, she said, “I have never had a dream like this before.”

“I would be concerned if you had.”

“This feels… odd.”

He smiled a little at that, lying back on the ground to look at the sky.

She watched him for a little while before saying, mildly, “You’re on curfew, mister.”

He spluttered, “What??” And looked up at her incredulously.

“Payment for worrying me.” She chirped back at him.

“You can’t be serious.” He was laughing at her, amused.

“Very serious.”

Still laughing he said, “Well, I am truly sorry for worrying you, princess. I did have my reasons, however.”

She blushed, looking away, “Getting energy, I know.”

His laughter stilled. “Hmm, how cold you make that sound.”

“Isn’t it? You didn’t know whomever you were with.”

He was silent for a moment as she picked at the grass, before saying, “I am what I am.”

There was a light touch on her arm and she looked back at him. His eyes were hooded, his look flirtatious, making her blush more.

He said, smoothly, “It doesn’t have to be cold, princess, nor does it have to end with just one fleeting encounter. To hold one such as you in my arms even once would be a privilege, and if such a privilege were to ever be mine, I would do almost anything, give almost anything, to earn that privilege again and again, over and over, far beyond just one night. I would sear you with passion if you wished it, burn you without pain and then sooth you with my warmth, for as long as you wished it of me. It would be anything but ‘cold’.”

Blushing fiercely and breathing a little too heavily, part of her wanted to pull back, flustered and overwhelmed, but another part, quite a loud part, was tempted, sorely tempted by him. Perhaps it was his presentation, lying prone next to her with that look in his eyes, perhaps it was the dream they were in, cushioning her from her fears, but there and then he was incredibly appealing.

She glanced away, not knowing how else to respond, and he giggled, “Sorry, you are just so adorable flustered, though I only speak the truth.”

She mock glared down at him, red faced all the way to her ears and huffed. “You are still under curfew, buster, you don’t get to sweet talk out of it.”

Erik threw his head back and laughed, “I would never dare!”

His laughter broke through some of her tension, making her smile. Shaking herself with a sigh she lay down on her side next to him, facing him, her head resting on her arm. She wasn’t touching him, though she was close enough that it would be nothing to reach out to him. He moved to mirror her.

“Why are you here?” She asked after a long moment. “In my dreams? Other then just making sure I have a nice dream to wake up from, I mean.”

He seemed to debate with himself for a moment before glancing down with a sad look, “You were exhausted. You needed rest and that can’t happen when you are riddled with nightmares. Given the events that transpired before you collapsed we feared that was a real probability, so, here I am.”

She smiled brightly at him, “To guard my dreams.”

“Of course.” He smiled back at her.

“That’s sweet.”

He blushed slightly and gave a half shrug. “It would be callous to have this ability and not use it to help you when you have been trying to do so much for us...” He reached over to brush her hair from her face. “To say the least, you have made quite an impression on us.”

Her face fell and she rolled over onto her back, away from him. “Yeah… I’m sure I did...” She muttered flatly, bitterly.

“I didn’t mean it like that.” He said, propping himself up to look down at her. “Despite everything you are going through, you keep trying to protect us, even if you… fear us.” he sounded pained, even upset at that, though he pressed on, “That is extraordinary, and, speaking for myself, deeply humbling. You are extraordinary.”

“You thought I was going to throw you out, and I gave you good reason to think that, too.” She said, feeling like scum.

He sighed, “I do admit, we have had our doubts, but even with those doubts we are not unsympathetic to what you are going through. Why, even without everything else, just days ago you lost someone precious to you, someone truly important to you. When I try to put myself in your position, from how fondly you have spoken of your grandfather, I can only compare it to how I would feel if I lost one of my brothers.” He took a breath as though to steady himself. She watched him wide eyed, surprised and touched.

He continued, contemplative, measured, “Should a day come that I find that I have out lived even one of them, I, I do not know how I will cope. Even the thought of it pains me greatly. If I am being truly honest with myself, to begin with I am not sure I would cope with that loss at all.”

“Erik...” She wasn’t expecting this, even cocooned in the dream he had taken her off guard, leaving her misty eyed.

“You are phenomenal,” He said, earnestly, looking her in the eye. “truly incredible, to endure that and so much more besides, and yet still try to put the safety of my brothers and I first. When I say that you have made an impression on us, this is what I am referring to; that breathtaking kindness and care that we have done nothing to deserve, yet you fight to give us, in so many ways.”

For a little while she was speechless, eyes watering slightly as she looked up at him.

She was about to reach up to touch him, to brush his hair back from where it had fallen in front of his face - though he didn’t seem to care - when something in his wording sparked a memory and she paled.

He frowned in concern. “Princess?”

“I, I attacked Malix.” She said in disbelief.

Erik chuckled. “Yes, yes you did.”

“I can’t believe I did that...” She still couldn’t believe the fuzzy memory she was replaying. Coupled with that memory came another.

Suddenly a gunshot rang out over the meadow, the sunlight dimming. Malix’s laughter echoed. They both flinched and she screamed, curling towards him instinctively, cowering. Erik cursed under his breath, sitting up and resting his hands on her back and shoulder, comforting her. His eyes flared with crimson light. Suddenly the air cleared, the sunlight was restored, and only the sound of the gentle breeze and birdsong filled the air.

Hands over her mouth she looked up at him with wide eyes. “I’m sorry. That was me, wasn’t it?”

His expression showed only kindness edged in sadness. “Yes, but don’t worry, that is why I am here.”

“Thank you...”

“Think nothing of it, princess.” His hand on her shoulder moved up to comb through her hair lightly, bring it back from her face again. For a little while they stayed like that, her curled on her side close to him, he sat up, soothing his hand through her hair. “You are so beautiful...” He whispered.

She blinked up at him, mildly startled after having gotten lost in the moment and the soothing repetitiveness of his touch. She blushed. “Er… thank you.”

He smiled before moving to lie on his side again, facing her, closer this time though again not quite touching. “It’s true.” He said, gently tapping her nose with his finger. He giggled at the face she made.

Blushing more fiercely and with a boldness she would never have dared awake, she said, “You’re quite handsome yourself. You’re beautiful when you smile.” He beamed at her but froze, shocked, when she said, “When you really smile, I mean. When it reaches your eyes.”

Now it was his turn to blush, blinking at her comment, and she giggled.

Still amused, she pouted, “It is kinda cheating through, flirting with me when I am dreaming. Even I can see the difference this is making.”

Flustered, his blush darkened, “Well, I, er, I suppose you are right, princess… I should stop that.” He frowned slightly, becoming more serious.

Smiling, she toucher her finger to his nose as he had just done to her and said, “Good.” It was a touch flirtatious, but she was in the mood for that, given their previous line of convocation.

She grinned as he blinked at her, looking like he wanted to say something but stopping himself with a pout. With a small chuckle, she rolled onto her back and looked up at the sky with a contented sigh. He stayed where he was, propping his head up on his arm to watch her with a soft smile, frown easing.

After a little while his expression grew serious and he sat up, looking as though he were debating something with himself. Eventually he said, “I think I should forewarn you, Mika, that what you did in attacking Malix has had a tremendous impact on Sam, even more so then it has affected the rest of us, which is not insignificant as it is. He’s become quite protective towards you, he hasn’t moved from the seat by your balcony since he brought you upstairs.” He added then with a slight amused smirk, “Not even James has been able to get him to move.”

She was shocked. “Really? Why?”

“Princess, you, a human, attempted to take out a devil on his behalf, demonstrating a level of protectiveness towards him, towards all of us, that I do not think Sam has ever experienced outside of my brothers and I, and perhaps his own mother. A display like that would affect anyone. Sam says he is worried about a revenge attack, but truthfully, I believe he just wants to watch over you himself.”

“Oh...” Then she blinked as one detail in what he said hit her. She sat up. “Wait, a devil?”

“Mhmm. Those two are devils. Beings from Hell.”

“They’re not like demons?”

“No. We come from a world called the Abyssal Plains. Devils come from Hell, and Hell is where they draw their power from. Our power is our own, that’s why we need to replenish it periodicity.”

“Oh. Like, needing food and drink, right? Only it’s energy.”

“Precisely. Though we need food and drink, too.”

She frowned. “So... Devils wont get tired...”

“Indeed. It makes them tricky to deal with in a fight. You have to end it quickly.”

She toyed with the flattened grass next to them for a moment, remembering.

“Hay, do you know what that light was? After I attacked Malix? I think it drove them away.”

“That, was me.”

“You?”

“Mhmm. Matthew summoned me to help with Malix. I am very sorry I couldn’t be there sooner, I couldn’t give Matthew the signal to summon me while I was with company.”

“Oh...” The point about him being summoned was an interesting one, but was something she was willing to explore at another time. The fact that Erik had been there though, at the end, was comforting.

She sighed, contemplating what had been said. “So, you and Sam are in my room with me now?” That sparked a faint memory of another dream and hearing talking around her after it.

“And Damien, too.” He said, as she expected him to. “He has been helping me to monitor your dreams. Using this power burns a small amount of energy, while Damien’s ability does not.”

“Oh...” She felt a stab of guilt at that. They were doing so much to help her...

“Regarding Sam, if I know my brother even half as well as I think I do, he will want to reciprocate the care and protectiveness you have shown, in his own impulsive way, anyway, beyond simply guarding your room while you sleep. I, I know this is all new for you, but Sam’s heart is in the right place, he wont do anything to hurt you. So please, try to trust him.”

That made her still. Here, in this dreamscape, she had been largely free of the worries that had been plaguing her in the waking world but she knew it wouldn’t last. Could she really trust him?

Faced with Erik’s serious demeanour however, she gave the best response she could; “I’ll try.”

He nodded with a slight smile. “That’s all I ask… Now, come, rest with me. This dream will fade soon, you are close to waking now.”

She nodded, not having anything else to say.

Erik lay back on the grass, looking back up at the sky and after a moment she lay down next to him.

She watched as fluffy clouds rolled past, listened to the wind through the grass, and, knowing how complicated life would be on waking, she wished she could dream like this, with Erik, a little while longer.

Chapter Text

 

Hazy fog filled her head and her limbs felt heavy. She was warm though, and the bed was soft. Pleasant feelings of contentment followed her from her dream, soothing and reassuring, though the details were hazy.

As she became more aware, however, she noticed that this wasn’t her bed; it was too soft.

Memories of the funeral flashed through her mind and her eyes snapped open to see the white ceiling above, softly lit by a lamp near by and hints of sunlight from behind the curtains.

Her grandfather was dead; this was his old room, his old bed.

The recollection caused a dull ache to spread through her chest and her body felt that much heavier as she lay there.

On the heels that memory came others; her arrival at the mansion after her father had forced her to move in, the incubi injured in the lobby, how Sam and Erik had kissed her, how they had healed in front of her. Memory after memory filled her until the last one… Malix had attacked…

“Mika...”

She gasped and sat up, surprised yet not surprised to see she wasn’t alone. The memory of the dream with Erik sharpened.

Over by the door Damien was sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. He was the one who had spoken.

Sat in a chair over by the window was Sam, exactly where Erik had said he would be. Her eyes met his briefly before he glanced away with a muttered, “Hi.”

Next to the bed, in a chair that had clearly been brought in from elsewhere, was Erik. He nodded at her with a small smile.

She looked at him for a long moment then said, groggily, “Dreams, huh.”

“Mhmm. An innate ability of mine. It’s useful, at times. Did you like the dream I created for you? I hopped it would make waking a little more comfortable, all things considering.”

She nodded, “… It was certainly better then the one you replaced… That was nice, thank you.” Despite the bleariness of sleep and the slightly unnerving effect of waking, again, to company she wasn’t used to, the warm, calming atmosphere of the dream lingered pleasantly.

He smiled. “You are very welcome.”

She nodded then frowned in remembrance. “The flirting was definitely cheating, though.” She quirked an eyebrow at him.

Sam spoke up before Erik got a chance to respond, his voice a low growl. “Seriously...?”

Erik winced while Damien watched passively from by the door.

Sam continued, sounding pissed off, “You couldn’t just lay off, for once?”

Mika looked between him and Erik wide eyed, cowering slightly. Was it really that wrong for Erik to have done that??

Erik cringed. “In my defence I didn’t do anything untoward or inappropriate. Nothing was forced or coerced.”

Sam snorted derisively. “Sure, because flirting in dreams with someone you aren’t being flirted with outside of them is just fucking peachy.”

Erik looked abashed. “It will not happen like that again.”

“Yeah, right.” Sam was still glaring, his disbelief clear.

Damien spoke up. “He means it, Sam. He’s serious.”

“Humh.”

“What’s so wrong with flirting with someone when they are dreaming?” Mika asked, worried now. “I mean, yeah, it felt… Odd… And… Oh...” She remembered now how different it had been, how different she had felt, and felt around him, too. She had even commented on it in the dream itself.

More then that, she could feel how much of that lingered.

Looking at Erik now, how she felt towards him after the dream was quite different to how she had felt towards him before it… Although, part of her reasoned, trying to fight her fears, that isn’t just because of the flirting. The way he had talked about how he would feel should he ever loose one of his brothers, for starts, had been touching.

“Try not to worry about it.” Damien said, addressing her. “Its to do with altered states of mind and how much more open a person is when they are dreaming. But I wouldn’t say Erik went too far.”

Erik added, “I give you my word, Princess, I would never push you when I speak to you in your dreams. Never. I know very well how altered dreams affect people and, yes, I should have held back more this time but I promise I will not allow this to happen again.”

Sam growled, “You’d better hold to that, Erik, or I’ll have that pretty boy head of yours on a fucking platter.”

She looked at Sam a little wide eyed. That’s a strong reaction. Was what he did really that bad?

That’s when the memory of Erik’s warning about Sam’s protectiveness towards her following her attempted defence of him, hit her.

Oh… Oh! Is this what he was talking about? Protective Sam was… certainly something. She was starting to see why Erik had warned her.

Feeling uncomfortable, she decided to try and change the topic. “So, um, how long have I been asleep? What time is it?” She noted, at last, that she was still in the dress she wore at the party, which was a comfort, even if it was not comfortable to wear in bed.

“You have been asleep for most of Sunday. It’s almost four in the afternoon, now.” Erik replied, smoothly, seemingly already over his difficulties with Sam.

She blinked, wide eyed and looked again towards the window and glow of afternoon sunlight from behind the curtains. “Seriously??

“Mmhm.”

“You’ve been out like a light. Not that that was surprising...” Sam said, sounding much calmer now.

“I’ve never slept in this long before… unless I was sick, anyway.” She murmured, still stunned.

“Sam drained you of your rage before you passed out.” Damien said as he stood up. “It was the safest and fastest way to stop you without hurting you. Between that and how exhausted you were to start with, you needed the rest.”

She nodded and looked back to Sam who wouldn’t meet her gaze. He shrugged.

She said. “I thought you guys could only, erm, drain sexual energy.”

Erik replied, “Usually that is true. Sam, however, is unique; He can use rage as well.”

“Huh…” She said, contemplative, “That’s… kinda cool.” Sam glanced back to her as she continued, “It must be useful in defusing a fight- I mean, just going by what I remember from the other night, anyway.”

Sam looked surprised at that, though why she couldn’t tell. “Yeah.” He said, softly, “Yeah, it is...”

“It kinda suits you.” She said with a small smile, slightly teasing.

Sam ducked his head and shrugged again, unsuccessfully trying to hide a frown, a small grimace. Her smile vanished and she glanced away, feeling guilty; He didn’t like that.

What did I say wrong? Maybe it’s a sensitive topic for him…? She made a mental note not to bring it up again, at least not around Sam.

“Anyway.” She said, trying to clear the air and ease her mounting nervousness in the face of her unexpected misstep. “I need to use the bathroom. Excuse me.”

As she made to get up however, suddenly Sam was right there, hand on her elbow, steadying her.

Erik’s request to trust Sam flashed through her mind. “Thanks.” She said softly, honestly feeling wobbly on her feet anyway.

He nodded but didn’t say anything.

As he helped her to the on-suite, she watched him out of the corner of her eye. He looked tense, jaw a little too tight. Was he angry with her? She tried to quell her worries, Erik’s words ringing in her head, though it wasn’t easy.

Once she was alone in the on-suite bathroom, door closed behind her, she took her time to do her business and freshen up. She noticed a pile of clean clothes folded on a stool; a hoodie, sweatpants and t-shirt, along with fresh underwear. She made a mental note to thank the guys for that as she slipped out of the dress she had been wearing the night before and got changed. It was a thoughtful touch.

Feeling better about the guys then she had yesterday, she realized that a lot of what they had done had been very thoughtful, very kind; there was so much they had done that they hadn’t had to do. There was also a lot of bad things they could have done, but, as far as she could tell, hadn’t. The realization made her feel awful for doubting them… yet, on the back of that was sudden self-chastisement and renewed doubt; it had only been three days, almost two days worth of that spent unconscious. That was nothing… Right?

Of course it was. There were too many unknowns. Trust took time.

She sighed, wishing things could be easier, that her worries would just vanish, but they gnawed at her relentlessly.

As she finished getting ready, she paused as her more wakeful mind brought up a memory of last night and her fight with Malix, of pain in her side. Lifting the hoody and t-shirt, she examined the area she remembered getting hit.

Nothing. Not a bruise, not a mark, no trace of pain anywhere. For an instant she almost thought she imagined getting hit, but, no, that wasn’t it.

They had healed her.

She sighed with a small smile, feeling a little teary again. Wiping her sleeve over her eyes she cursed herself. Crying, again. It was all too much.

Taking deep breaths she she tried to get herself back under control, splashing her face with water. She downed two glasses full too, suddenly feeling very thirsty. Gasping, she glared at herself in the mirror.

There was a light knock on the bathroom door making her jump slightly, though part of her had been expecting it.

“Hay,” Sam called through the door, his voice a little rough, “you okay?”

Checking up on her. It made her want to cry more.

She burred her face in a towel and called back, “Yeah, I… I’m okay.” She knew she sounded shaky, but still hoped he would let it go.

There was a long pause before he said, “Alright. Call if you need anything.”

“Okay.” She replied, even more shakily then before.

Sitting on the stool the clothes had been laid out on, she gave up and let herself cry, feeling too much; angry at loosing composure again; confusion over the incubi, their kindness versus all the unknowns and potential dangers; grief over her grandfather, the reminder of the loss upon waking in his old room; anger at her father at forcing her to live here so soon versus gratefulness that he had as it had meant she had met, and possibly saved the lives of, the brothers.

Muffled behind the door she could hear movement and lowered voices. At one point she thought she heard Matthew and James too. Matthew’s voice was a welcome one, she still felt warmly about him after their talk outside yesterday. She still couldn’t quite believe it was real, that he had been there for her like that. Part of her couldn’t help but question it, and she hated herself for that.

And as for James, she was still a little surprised that he had noticed that bruise on her face on that first night, largely hidden under her hair as it had been. In her experience, that was not something people paid any attention to, or simply didn’t care about. The attentiveness struck her has kind of sweet. And, unexpected. Although, from what she had seen since, that wasn’t a fluke; James really did seem very aware of what went on around him.

Absent-mindedly she brought her hand up to her cheek, expecting to feel the tenderness there that shouldn’t have had time to go away yet. When she found nothing, she shot up from where she sat and stepped over to the mirror again, pushing her hair aside to inspect her face carefully: The bruise was gone, not a trace left.

She let out a soft breath of broken laughter.

Why? Why are they doing this?

Thinking about it, she looked down at her hands, at her knuckles; There should have been bruises and worse there, too, from how hard she had punched Malix. Instead, her hands were pristine.

Shaking her head, she leaned heavily on the sink. “Oh guys...” She whispered to herself, “If you are even half as good as you seem, I really don’t deserve you at all...”

Things are never this good… right?

She sobbed brokenly again before looking up at herself in the mirror. She glared again; She was so sick of crying.

She washed and scrubbed her face again, then, after taking some steadying breaths decided she was ready to face the day, what little was left of it, and headed back to the bedroom.

Chapter Text

 

Opening the door between the on-suit and the bedroom, she looked around quickly. Erik was gone though the chair he had been sat in remained. Damien had left too, leaving only Sam who was sat on the edge of her bed when she opened the door. He quickly stood when she stepped back into the room.

“Hay.” He greeted her, awkwardly.

“Hay...” She replied, almost as uncomfortable.

For a few moments they stood there in silence, tense.

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry.”

She laughed nervously while he smiled bashfully, reaching up to rub the back of his neck as he looked away.

“So it’s like that, huh?” She smiled, needing to fill the silence. “You first. I’m gonna be stubborn, so just speak.”

“Heh, right...” He looked back at her with an amused smirk. It faded into regret and he sighed. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry I let things go so far last night when Malix showed up. I should have just ended things there and then, before he had a chance to do shit. Instead… Instead you’re hurting and it’s my fault… this, all of this, is our fault...” He trailed off in remorse.

“Sam,” she said, touched but confused, “you guys healed me...”

“I don’t mean that… And that should never have been necessary in the first place!” His sudden vehemence startled her and she flinched, taking half a step back, though he hadn’t been looking at her when he said it.

On reflex she stammered, “I-I-I’m sorry! I wasn’t thinking, I-I messed up, I’m so sorry-”

“Mika! Stop. No, I, I didn’t mean it like that!” He said, alarmed and upset. He moved to step close to her but stopped when she flinched again. “This is my fault, our fault, not yours! Never yours! You’ve done nothing wrong!”

“I wasn’t thinking-” She tried again, unconvinced.

“You were panicked! You think I don’t know what that’s like?!”

“I- what?” She faltered then, shocked and confused.

“Yeah, I know, Mika. We all know.” He said, softening then. He sighed, looking down with a thoughtful expression.

She was stunned. Sam panicking? The others, too? She couldn't picture it, couldn’t picture it at all. They were demons with powers, and they all seemed so strong and capable… what did they have to be afraid of?

Sam looked at her then, seemingly having made up his mind about something. “You wanna, er, you wanna sit down? I mean, you can stand if you want, I just wanna talk and we might as well be comfortable.”

“Um, yeah. Yeah okay...” She stepped forward to sit on the edge of the bed. Sam nodded and took the seat next to her that Erik had been in earlier.

Elbows on his knees, looking down, he said, his demeanour serious, grim, “You don’t know much about our past, do you?” He glanced back up at her.

“Only that you all used to live in a castle, in another world...”

Sam nodded. “Well, that castle was our father’s. He’s Lord of the land we lived in and is a sadistic, abusive asshole, a real evil piece of work.” His voice was tight at the end and she could feel the current of hatred in it.

Mika blinked at that but stumbled on a different point, “W-wait, wait... you’re a prince?”

He shook his head, straitening up then. “No, James was. Erik, Matthew and I were nobles, replacements in case James fucked things up. That all ended when we came to this world, though.”

“Oh...” She was about to ask about Damien but he continued before she could speak.

“Our father made our lives there miserable. Some of us had it harder then others... Damien had it the worst. Our father was a heartless sadist towards him and even encouraged other members of the court to be the same way, directly or not. Some of the servants were no better, either.”

She was shocked, speechless.

Sam’s look was intense. “I know very well what it’s like when you think someone you care about, someone who matters to you, might die. I have panicked and attacked people before too, over things that happened to my brother, or nearly happened. And I’m not the only one who’s been through that, either. James has, too… And Damien.” The last point was added quietly, as his eyes flickered down in remembrance.

He looked back up at her as she sat in stunned, heartbroken silence and continued, “And as for the other kind of panic, where you run or just collapse or whatever, yeah, I have been there as well, back when I was a kid. We’ve all been through that at some point.”

She could only nod slightly in understanding, still speechless.

Sam reached over then, gently taking one of her hands and cradling it in his. “So when I say we understand, that we don’t hold it against you, I mean it. I’m serious. You don’t have to apologise to me, okay?”

She nodded numbly again and managed to whisper a quiet, “Thank you...” completely taken aback by all this.

She felt worse about her problems with Damien now, knowing his life had been difficult, but better about the brothers as a whole. It was, remarkably, a relief to know they shared this, even if she felt terrible for thinking that given what they must have gone through for things to get that bad.

Damien…

It was heartbreaking to think that people had been so terrible to him as to warrant that kind of response from Sam. Damien seemed nice, whatever her difficulties with his ability were, whatever her trust issues were, a part of her felt certain he would not have deserved anything as bad as that.

He really does seem nice, thoughDetermined, she resolved to try harder with him, to try and push past her difficulties with his mindreading, even as the reminder of it sparked a feeling of being too exposed again.

Holding Sam’s hand gently as she processed everything he had said, she couldn’t help but run her thumb slowly over his skin. His hand was so very warm…

The barest brush of his fingers as he shifted his grip made her shiver slightly.

That’s nice...Very nice...

He said, after a short silence. “We didn’t mean to drop all this on you, to put you in danger like this. We never should have come...”

She look up at him, surprised at how much that hurt and she frowned a little, holding his hand a little tighter. “It’s not your fault. You were hurt.”

He shook his head. “I don’t just mean the mansion, I mean this world. If we had never come, you wouldn’t be having to deal with all this, on top of all your own stuff… I’m sorry.” He looked down, seemingly genuinely remorseful. It was touching.

“You couldn’t have known...” She couldn’t shake that hurt though, that he wished they had never met, even if it was well intentioned… Even if he only wished that for her sake. That protectiveness made her pause, remembering what Erik had said about Sam watching over all night – and day – when he didn’t have to.

He really cares…

She regarded Sam with what felt like new eyes then. They have been so good to me, despite my fears, my troubles

It was frightening, it felt way too good to be true and part of her was waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Maybe it would fall, maybe they would wind up betraying her, but then again…

Maybe I should try to push through this anyway…? Maybe they would hurt her, but then again, just maybe…

Maybe...

She placed her other hand over his, drawing his attention. She said, “You know, it hasn’t been all bad, at all. You guys have helped me, so much. You’ve been so kind.” She smiled shyly at him. “You talking to me now, Matthew helping me outside yesterday, the way you all helped with the party both before and during, covering for me... And, how you all were with me after it, before Malix came. And, everything...” she let out a small watery laugh, “those clothes left in the bathroom for me… The food, and, and healing me… I… I never expected any of this, at all. You guys have been wonderful, incredible… I, I know I am, difficult, and I know I have problems… I don’t deserve any of the things you guys have done for me. So, thank you.”

Sam’s face fell as she finished speaking, going from warm to pained. He frowned and made to speak but, feeling awkward now, insecure, she cut over him;

Looking away she said, “I know you haven’t been happy here, haven’t been happy around me. I’m sorry for that, and, and I want to try harder-”

“Stop.” The firmness in his voice had her look back at him, startled. He shifted closer to her in his seat and changed his grasp on her hands so he cradled both of hers in both of his, gently. “I’m an asshole, yeah? I am, I know it, and goodness knows my brothers do, too. You shouldn’t pay me any mind. Just, don’t worry about me… And, I am sorry for being a dick when we met, and for being such an idiot since.” He frowned and added earnestly, “Take it from one asshole who’s known a lot worse, you’re a good person, Mika, you deserve far better then you think you do. I get you don’t believe that, but, you do. I wont hear otherwise.” 

For a moment all she could do is look at him, stunned, again. She ducked her head bashfully then smiled. “For a self declared asshole, that’s really sweet.” She glanced up at him in time to see him blush and look away.

He shrugged, self conscious, “Well, whatever. I meant it.”

Blushing herself she looked down at their hands where he absent-mindedly stroked his thumb over the skin by her wrist. “Thank you...”

Heart thumping in a way she wasn’t entirely familiar with, she wasn’t certain what to do with herself. Feeling warmly towards him after all that, she crouched forward to close the distance between them and kissed his cheek.

The moment she did it she faltered.

Pulling back slowly, realising what she had just done, her blush reached down her neck and up to her ears; This was not Suzu she was dealing with, nor Suzu’s family, or even Naomi. “Erm...”

Sam was blushing as he looked back at her, wide eyed at first, but then his expression shifted to heavy lidded. Suddenly, he leaned forward and kissed her lips. It lasted only a couple of seconds, but it was heated and heavy, gentle but passionate.

He pulled back, ending the kiss, and she blinked at him dazedly. He watched her carefully, expression still heated.

Heart racing, overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, she made to sit down again.

She missed the bed.

Landing on the floor with a thump she yelped in surprise.

Sam gapped down at her as she stared up at him, embarrassed. “You alright?” He asked, his mouth already starting to curl into a smirk.

“I, erm… Shit...” She was fine, just embarrassed and blushing for an entirely different reason now.

It must have shown because any worry faded from Sam’s face. Grinning, he started to laugh. “God! You fucking doofus...” Reaching down he helped pull her back up to sit on the bed.

Too flustered to even glare at him, she burred her face in her hands and gave the barest of giggles. “Oh god...”

Sitting back in his chair, Sam just laughed. “You are too fucking cute, I swear...”

Now she glared at him from over her hands, blushing furiously. “This is all your fault. I’m not normally this clumsy.”

“Sure you aren’t, Miss, I Caught My Foot On A Brick.”

“That was a fluke.”

“If you say so. Doofus.” He grinned widely at her, amused.

“Ugh… Shut up...”

Sam just laughed.

She hid her eyes again, groaning. Her heart was still pounding, but not from the fall anymore. She could still feel a tingle on her lips, like an after image, from his kiss. And the way he had looked at her…

“Hay, Sam?” She asked, peeking out from behind her hands again.

“Hmm?” He was watching her, expression soft and warm, eyes still amused though carrying a focus she was wasn’t expecting to see.

“You don’t… you don’t need energy, do you?”

His expression shifted, becoming slightly troubled. “No… between the rage I took from you the other night and the energy I got from Erik, I’m good.”

She blinked. “From Erik?”

“Yeah. He got a lot last night, so he shared.”

That threw her off her train of thought for a moment. How did they share energy together? They were brothers, they didn’t kiss or anything, right? Then again, how would she know? They weren’t human. Mentally shaking herself she let it drop; she had a bigger issue on hand right now.

Blushing harder and heart pounding she asked, “Then why…?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I like you.” His voice was soft.

She glanced at him again then, briefly. He was watching her intently, still looking a little troubled.

That can’t be right... can it? We barely know each other. Perhaps it’s because he’s an incubus? Maybe being friendly for them includes… that.

“Hay,” He said hesitantly after she was quiet for a little too long, sounding uncomfortable, worried, “um, if I went too far just then, just, forget it. It doesn’t matter, okay? It’s nothing.”

Doesn’t matter?… Nothing? He says he likes me and then says it doesn’t matter? What…? Which is it?

Very confused, a little hurt and slightly on edge now she asked, lowering her hands, “Doesn’t matter?”

“I, erm, er...” He hesitated, looking very wary all of a sudden.

He looked and sounded like a man who had just stepped into a minefield.

“W-what did that mean to you?” She pressed, needing to clear this up, feeling a little too much.

“I, well, I... Its like I said, I like you.”

“Like, in what way?”

“Er… I like being around you?” He looked lost.

“In what way?”

“Er, I… erm…”

She sighed. This wasn’t working and she needed answers. She had a feeling things were being lost in translation. “Okay, okay, so, um, I, I have an idea. Lets… Just get down to basics, okay?”

“Okay?”

“Sooo, um, with humans a kiss like that usually means you, um, like someone, romantically, and want to, er, date them. Or, it means you just, er, want to be with them… sexually… Or, or both. Is it like that for you guys?”

“Yeah…” It wasn’t a question this time but he still sounded cautious.

“So, do you… like me or do you... just...” She couldn’t bring herself to say more. She felt as though steam might start spilling out of her ears, the thought was making her blush so much. This is just too much…!

“I, I like you but I’m not sure what you, er...” He was red faced and still looked wary, like he was afraid of making a misstep.

“Do you want to be my friend or something else?” She said very quickly, determined to work this out despite her blushing.

“Friendship would be good, I guess…?”

“Friends don’t usually kiss like that.”

“I...”

Trying for another track she said, persistent but starting to feel flustered, “Okay. Oookay, so um… How do relationships work for demons? Incubi, anyway. Usually humans have a line between friendships and, er, sexual relationships, romantic sexual relationships in particular. Like marriage and stuff. Sexual relationships are usually more serious then friendships and friendship don’t usually involve sex, or kissing. On the lips.” She added, thinking of Suzu’s family. “Well, ok, some people just have causal sex, but, that often doesn’t go with normal friendships and kinda is its own thing... I think. Usually.” She admitted at the end with a grimace. People are complicated… She thought with a mental sigh.

“Right…”

“So… how does all that work for you guys?”

“Well, erm, er...”

She almost cursed when he trailed off again, growing frustrated and ever more uncomfortable.

He saw her look and exclaimed, “I’m thinking, okay!? I have seen something of human relationships and sex and stuff. I’ve watched TV, seen films and whatever, I just have never had to talk about the differences before. I’ve never really thought about it, to be honest.”

She took a breath. “So, there are differences?”

“Yeah...”

There was an awkward silence as Sam frowned, looking at nothing, thinking.

Eventually she decided to try asking questions rather then wait for him put it all together himself. “So, um… kissing friends, that a thing for you guys?” It would make sense... She thought to herself.

He looked at her with a slight wince. “It’s… not that simple. Sort of, I guess? I, er, I’m not very good with this sort of thing.” His embarrassment and awkwardness was both endearing and infectious. She shifted in her seat in sympathy.

When he was quiet for a little too long she prompted, “Oh?”

Sam shrugged, looking profoundly uncomfortable. “It’s… not something we talk about much. We don’t tell stories about this kind of thing, like humans do. We just feel what we feel and do what we do… I’m trying, okay?”

She nodded and he sighed.

After another pause he said, “Kissing, touching, sex… It’s… It’s about expression. Yeah, I mean, it can just be about energy, which means nothing, but the rest of the time, it’s an expression. If we like someone and want to be close to them, then, well, whatever...” He trailed off, then added as an afterthought, “Oh, er, we do have a higher sex drive, I guess, compared to other demons. Most of them, anyway. That comes through in our relationships, now I think about it.”

She fought the urge to bury her face in her hands again, not wanting to discourage him. This felt like getting ‘the talk’ from someone. Even when she tripped before the party she hadn’t felt this awkward with him.

Sam, face like a tomato, didn’t look all that comfortable either. He pressed on anyway after a moment of thought. “I, I guess… the biggest difference is in our relationships.”

“Oh?”

“We just… well, with humans it seems like, everything is like a contract. Two people sign it and that’s that. Now they’re friends with certain rules, or now they’re married with different rules. And then, if that doesn’t work, you tear up the contract and, that’s it. Or maybe you just make a new one, or whatever. The point is, the old one is over. Ok, people may be hurt, and the hurt may stay for a long time, but, it’s over. You might not even like each other anymore. It’s… not quite like that for us, at least, not normally.”

Mika leaned forward then, curious. It was less like ‘the talk’ now, which was a relief, and with her mind engaged her tension was less troubling now.

Sam continued, “Relationships for us, unless its political or some bullshit like that, are about what you feel, who you are, and who they are… that, that doesn’t change. You are who you are, and they are who they are and that’s that. We don’t put arbitrary rules and shit on stuff like humans seem to. If a relationship happens to involve sex, well, so be it. Each relationship has its own rules, every one is different.”

Then it can be more casual. She thought, That makes sense. It just depends on the people involved and what they want.

“So...” She said, carefully. “The kind of relationship you want with me, isn’t just, um, platonic?”

He shifted in his seat awkwardly. “That’s not just up to me.” He looked away then back again and said, almost bashfully, “But, er, I mean, if you wanted to, um, try that? I, I’d like to, too- I mean, only if you do, if you want that, anyway. I… Er… ahem.” He looked down, red as an apple again, apparently having run out of steam.

Blushing herself, she wasn’t sure how to handle that. So… friends with benefits? With Sam? Maybe? 

That’s so sudden…! She thought, her heart beat started to thunder as she stared at Sam who started to squirm. So, not really serious, but still…!

Its so, so sudden…! Her mind repeated to itself. Though, perhaps it hasn’t been so bad from Sam’s perspective... He had been watching over her for the better part of a day and Erik said that Sam had been hit hard by what happened after the party.

That’s one hell of a way to endear myself to someone, perhaps I should remember that… She thought faintly and a touch hysterically.

“I, I, er...” Was all she could manage eventually, finding herself utterly tongue tied.

He is good looking though… very, very good looking… A part of her mind whispered to an answering spark of lust. Thanks to the wonders of modern gadgetry she wasn’t entirely inexperienced in her own sexuality or its benefits for things like stress relief but she had never had a partner before and had never even considered having a casual one.

“It’s, er, it’s up to you, of course...” He said awkwardly, eyes flickering in her direction briefly before glancing away again.

“I just… This is… Sudden. Really, er… I, erm…” She fumbled, tripping over herself mentally, very conscious of her blushing.

Sam just looked down at that with a slight frown. “Right...”

As her thoughts churned over possibilities, where this could all go, what it could be like, her embarrassment flared further and she ducked her head, feeling her blush reaching all the way from her ears to her neck.

“I, er...” Her mind locked and her voice faltered. She gave up.

Heart thundering, needing a distraction, an escape from the overwhelming air of awkwardness about to crush her, she mentally scrambled over the other things he had said before and found a point to latch onto. “S-So, er… What you were saying before...”

“Huh?” He looked back to her, confused.

“Erm, about, er about relationships for demons… You said it like, like they’re permanent, whatever kind they are?” She mentally patted herself on the back for being able to remember that. This is so sudden…! Her mind parroted back to itself again.

“Er, what...” He frowned before he said, “Oh! Oh, right! Yeah, um… Usually?” He shrugged, seemingly a little relieved for the change of topic himself.

“Tell me about that. Please.” She was almost begging.

“Right. Right, well, er… I guess it’s what you’d call permanent, yeah. Well, I mean, stuff can happen, things can improve or get worse between people, circumstances and whatever, but the core stays the same… I was told it’s like a spiritual resonance or, something.” He frowned. “And, yeah, okay sometimes demons don’t always acknowledge their feelings, so things can change if they finally do face them. Like with heart binding and stuff. Nobility sometimes has that problem, all caught up in rules and expectations and shit.” 

“Huh...” head spinning – still struggling with their previous topic -, it was the only way she could think to respond. After a moment she asked, “How do you know what kind of relationship you have with someone?”

“How do we know what we feel, you mean? We just do.” He said with a quick half smile and a shrug.

She flushed, feeling stupid all of a sudden. “Well I, I mean, we don’t always know the sort of relationship we’ll have with someone right away, or what it will become. Like, I have heard of friendships becoming romantic years later, but it sounds like it wouldn’t work like that for you guys...”

“No...” He said, looking contemplative. “As long as we don’t deny it, we know pretty soon once we get to know someone what we feel for them.”

“… How soon?”

“I, er, well it depends on how often we see them.”

“Say you are seeing them every day...” Her heart was hammering again.

By the look he gave her, she knew he understood what she was thinking. “Within a week or two. Or less. Probably.”

“Oh...” That left her feeling breathless.

Two weeks?! Days?! How the hell do I keep up with that?! Her mind raced over her interactions with the guys so far, from Matthews flirting the other night, to Sam’s sudden switch from ‘fuck off’ to ‘wanna fuck?’, to all the different encounters with the other three. Erik’s flirting rose to mind, too. But that’s just Erik being Erik… right? The sincerity he had shown in the dream however gave her pause.

A question loomed in her mind, impossible – she thought – but intellectually unavoidable.

“S-so,” She said, feeling even more overwhelmed then before after that last point, “so, er... What, what about love? Where does that come into things?” She had to ask but almost wished she hadn’t as she fought not to fidget, uncomfortable.

“We feel love, yeah… That’s just like with humans, I guess; you are closer to people you love.”

“And, er, what you said about how quickly demons, er, develop feelings for someone… that counts too?”

“’course.”

She nodded shakily. After a moment, curious and since she was on the general topic anyway, she asked, “What about marriage? Or just committed relationships, exclusive ones?”

“Demons marry, yeah, to raise children mostly, or officialize a relationship. Usually if we are gonna marry, its with someone we love enough to be bound to... assuming they feel the same, anyway. Though for some, nobility and such usually, it can just be political.” He frowned a little on that last point, then said, “As for committed, that varies.”

“Wait… the way demons feel about other people, it’s not always mutual?” That grabbed her attention and struck her as particularly tragic, given it was permanent.

“Not always... It's complicated.”

“That’s so sad...”

Suddenly there was a loud knocking at the door, startling both of them.

James called through the door. “Sam, are you quite done talking in there? Dinner’s ready.” He sounded a little exasperated.

“Uh, yeah!” Sam called back, sounding surprised and a little chagrined. “We’ll be down now… Sorry!”

She looked at Sam a little wide eyed as they listened to James’ fading footfalls.

“Dinner already?” She asked, weakly.

He shrugged. “You’ve been out all day, we figured an early dinner would do you good.”

She blushed a little at the unexpected kindness of that – again – and muttered a “Thank you.” 

“No worries.” He stood up and stretched, then offered her his hand to help her stand, which she accepted.

Her mind focused in on the feel of his hand in hers, the warmth of it, of him, and his offer of casual sex rocketed back to the forefront of her mind again.

Maybe I should have expected this. She thought somewhat hysterically. They told me they were incubi within the first ten minuets of me meeting them… I should have taken that as a hint. The fabled sex demons, the mythical supernatural masters of sex…

Oh. My. God…

As she followed him out of the room she started to feel a little faint.

Chapter Text

 

When Sam and Mika arrived for dinner the others were already sat at the table, passing around a jug of water to fill their glasses with. As much as she wished otherwise given her blushing, Mika was still caught on the topic of sex; Specifically, the possibility of sex with Sam. She watched the way he moved as he went to take the seat between hers and Damien’s, greeting his brothers as he went. She had to admit to herself, she liked what she saw.

God, he’s good looking… She thought as she made her way towards the table.

“Helloooo, Mika? Are you okay?” Matthew was saying to her.

“Huh? Oh! Oh, yeah, um… Yeah, I’m fine. Why’d you ask?” She replied, surprised and embarrassed.

I really need to think about something else!

“Heh, well, aside from being spaced, you just look a little flushed. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine.” She almost squeaked, flustered, unable to help but glance at Sam quickly.

Matthew spotted her look and he frowned as he looked at Sam. “…Sam didn’t do anything, did he?”

Mika felt her face turn scarlet.

“Sam?” James’ tone was suspicious.

Sam, who had just sat down, was now a little pink cheeked himself in the face of the looks his brothers were giving him. “What? We just talked.”

“That must have been quite a convocation, Sam. You’re both blushing.” Erik said pointedly, as Mika sunk into her seat, mortified, mind filling with images of the kiss and all the implications that went with it. She went wide eyed as she looked at Damien and mentally scrambled to try and change her thought process. Damien, however, who was in the middle of having a drink and wasn’t even looking at her, was the picture of innocent naivety.

Blush darkening, Sam bit at Erik, “Just drop it, Erik.”

“Oh. My. God.” Matthew said, looking between Sam and Mika, wide eyed. “Did something happen? Seriously?

“It was just a kiss, okay?!” Sam snapped, flustered. “One small kiss. It was nothing! Just drop it!”

“Wow...” Erik looked between the two of them a little wide eyed. James also looked surprised.

Mika wanted the ground to open up and swallow her.

“Who initiated it?” Matthew asked eagerly, to Mika’s horror.

This is too much!

“Matthew.” Damien said, a warning in his tone.

Matthew cringed slightly and looked to Mika apologetically. “Sorry, but… Pleaseee tell me?” He begged her with puppy eyes. “It’s been months since the last time Sam kissed someone, that I know of, anyway... Did he initiate it??” He pressed, like it was the best gossip he’d heard all year. His light hearted eagerness chipped away at her embarrassment and she couldn’t help but relax a little.

Months…? She glanced at Sam at that, who was now that apple red again and glaring daggers at Matthew. Months since he last kissed someone? Can they really go that long without energy? ...Or does he rely on rage more? He doesn’t seem the sort to mooch off his brothers...

Before she had a chance to say anything however, Sam ground out, “I did.”

“I, er,” she spoke up, emboldened by Sam. Barely. “I kissed his cheek, and then he, er, kissed my, my lips...” She trailed off, blushing furiously.

Erik chuckled, amused, “Oh Sam, you really don’t change, do you?” Looking at Mika he said, “Sam likes it-”

“Erik, that’s enough.” James said.

“- when someone he likes approaches him first, at least to begin with.” Erik continued, ignoring James. “That’s how his mother managed to set him up with his first lover; she was instructed to seduce him, not the other way around.”

Sam looked at Erik wide eyed and very red faced. Mika was mildly worried he might explode.

“Sam’s always been choosy.” Matthew said merrily, also ignoring James. “Ridiculously choosy, for an incubus, even after then. Last I heard he’s only had two other serious lovers after that first one. He rarely even kisses anyone.” The look he shot Sam was full of mischief; he was clearly enjoying Sam’s discomfort greatly.

“Shut. The fuck up. All of you.” Sam ground out, voice a little too high. His eyes flickered to Mika for just an instant before focusing on his brothers again, glaring. “It’s none of your god damn business!”

“When was your last kiss, Sam?” Erik asked with a smirk. “Still that body builder? The huge gentleman from the gay bar?”

Mika raised an eyebrow at that, intrigued. She swore Sam blushed brighter when he saw her look.

Sam made an inarticulate spluttering nose and Matthew chuckled, “That means yes.” He winked at Mika conspiratorially, who was becoming a little amused by all this, her embarrassment lessening. She was a little confused, however; this all seemed a bit much.

Rounding on Sam again, Matthew said, “What was it you liked about him again? You don’t just accept any old pass that comes your way.”

“His smile.” James said, unexpectedly. “Sam said he liked his smile.”

Sam’s look was one of utter betrayal.

There was a hint of mischief in James’ eyes, there for just for a moment then gone too quickly and suddenly Mika suspected this wasn’t quite the spontaneous teasing that it seemed.

Erik said then, smoothly, “Sam’s second lover was a spinner demon. Think humanoid spider, princess. Six arms, two legs, very good with their hands. Guess what Sam liked most about him...”

“You had sex with a spider?!” Mika blurted, too surprised to stop herself. Erik laughed at her reaction while James and Damien chuckled. Matthew shuddered.

Sam looked to her with wide eyes before rounding on his brothers and finally finding his voice again. “I, I… What the HELL?! W-what, WHAT THE FUCK, GUYS?! I don’t go shouting out your past experiences or whatever the fuck, so what the FUCK brought this on?!” He screeched.

Next to Sam, Damien sniggered, a smirk on his face, and Sam’s head snapped round to stare at him, sudden suspicion darkening his features. Matthew groaned and Erik sighed.

“Aww, Damien.” Matthew whined. “We had him!”

James was openly smirking wickedly now. “Speaking of the past, Sam, our past, I don’t recall you talking to the rest of us about telling Mika about that.”

Sam gaped at him, then at his brothers as a whole. He groaned. “Oh… Oh for fucks sake...” He slumped back in his chair, hands coming up to cover his face. Matthew, Erik and Damien all laughed.

Mika, smirking herself in the face of the brothers mirth – minus Sam -, looked to James, who was the only one who still had any composure. “This was a set up?”

He shrugged. “Sam decided to talk about our past without our consent, we thought it only fair to reciprocate.” He grinned at Sam, “Damien told us what happened. We knew you two had kissed before you came downstairs.”

Sam cursed from behind his hands before lowering them and glaring at Damien. Damien returned his look, very pointedly. Sam, in turn, grimaced and backed down first.

“Sorry...” He mumbled.

“You’re forgiven.” Damien responded primly.

“Aww, already?” Matthew sniggered.

Mika’s amusement, however, had faded into a sense of immense, unnerving vulnerability at what James had said about Damien.

It’s not his fault. She reminded herself firmly, determinedly. He can’t help but hear and it’s only natural to respond to what you hear. She took a steadying breath and turned her attention to her plate, fixedly. I have to get used to this, its not fair otherwise. I will get used to this. I will!

Nearby, Damien watched her surreptitiously, a look of wonderment in his eyes.

“So,” Erik asked curiously as Sam began to determinedly tuck into his dinner. “Aside from our history, what did you two spend so long talking about?”

Sam and Mika froze and shared a look, both blushing slightly. She looked around the table, warily. Despite lingering curiosity about the topic, the prospect of talking about sex and relationships with all five of the guys was just too much right now; she was too embarrassed and it had been awkward enough just talking to Sam.

Sam swallowed his mouthful of food.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing.”

They both looked at each other wide eyed as Matthew and Damien both sniggered and James smirked.

Grinning, Erik pressed, “Oh? That certainly doesn’t sound like nothing.”

Starting to blush again but seeing no other reasonable option, Mika said, “I-It wasn’t anything important. I, I was just curious about how relationships and erm, stuff, worked for you guys, that’s all...”

Laughing, Matthew asked, “Seriously? You tried asking Sam for information about relationships??”

“My condolences.” James said in mock solemnity, making her lips twitch into a smile again.

Sam glared at him, also sightly pink cheeked again. “Hay, come on, I didn’t do that badly.”

“Did he?” James asked playfully, curiously.

Pinned by their collective gazes she shrugged, red faced. “He, he did okay, yeah, he helped...” Then, given the amusement of the others, she couldn’t help but add in a smaller voice, “Eventually...” She smirked a little as Sam huffed and the others laughed.

Shaking his head and chuckling, James said, “Well, if you have any more questions, please, feel free to ask. Perhaps we can answer anything Sam may have missed.” The others, bar Sam, nodded in agreement to that.

“Thank you...” She replied, uncertain but comforted by their openness and offer.

“Seriously.” Matthew said. “If you are curious, why not?”

That made her smile, though she still hesitated; her father had long since discouraged her curiosity unless it was strictly necessary for her studies or future career in the toy company.

Erik said, casually, “Don’t worry about embarrassing us. We’re not as sensitive as Sam.” he added with a teasing glance at his brother, who flashed him a withering look. That made her giggle a little; Sam had been as awkward as she was. “And please, don’t feel embarrassed yourself, princess, whatever you wish to discuss. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.”

She nodded. Her nerves warred with her curiosity as she ran over the things she could remember Sam talking about, while absent mindedly picking at her dinner. Eventually, she found one point she felt comfortable asking about that had barely been touched on by Sam.

“Hay.” She spoke up when there was a small break in the boys idle chatter. “What’s heart binding? Sam mentioned it but I didn’t get to ask about it.”

Erik cocked a brow at Sam. “You spent all that time talking about relationships and didn’t cover that? Really?”

Sam shrugged. “Didn’t get round to it.”

Addressing Mika, Matthew said, “It’s not that complicated, really. It’s just something that happens when we experience love, weather its familial, like what we have,” He gestured to his brothers, “or romantic.”

James spoke up then, “To explain more fully, demons sometimes use binding magic to anchor ourselves properly to different facets of existence. Without this anchoring our magic will become… unstable, even potentially dangerous, depending on what exactly we are talking about. Sometimes this is necessary and at least partly automatic, such as name binding when we are born, life sealing during certain healing rituals, and so on, while at other times it is optional. Heart binding is the former category and serves to anchor the power of love, which is a considerable force in magic.”

“Oh… So, you five are all heart bound, then?” She asked, fascinated.

James nodded and smiled, “Yes, each of us has a bond with each of the other four.”

“What’s that like?” She asked curiously. The brothers shared warm looks between each other.

“It’s wonderful.” Damien said first. Sam nodded at that.

“Yeah...” Matthew said. “I can’t imagine life without it, and I really don’t want to.” Erik hummed in agreement.

James said, softly, “When you touch someone you are heart bound to, even when the bond is at it’s weakest, you can feel the emotions of the other person to a limited degree. This gets stronger the tighter the bond is wound, as you share more of yourself with them. Given heart bindings are a literal manifestation of love, that is always at the forefront of what you can feel from someone who is bound to you. As Damien said, it is a wonderful experience, and one I would not want to be without, either.”

“Wow...” She said softly, awed and a little envious. To literally feel the love someone felt for you with just a touch? It sounded amazing. “You guys are very lucky...”

“In this particular matter, I agree.” Erik said.

“Yeah...” Sam said with a small smile.

“Was there anything thing else you wanted to know?” James asked.

She pondered for a moment before shaking her head. “I think I am good for now, thank you.”

“You're welcome.” James nodded to her.

As she settled down to eat again, she could help but look over the five incubi and wonder where her relationships with them would go, what would happen if her association with them continued for long. Given what they were she was willing to wager that, if she wanted it, sex was definitely an option, with Sam at the very least. Glancing at him shyly, curiously, she couldn’t help but ponder on what Matthew had said about him being ‘choosy’. If that was really true then his offer certainly took on a whole new flattering light that made her lips curve into a slight smile.

Inevitably, despite her better judgement, part of her started to fantasise about what it would be like if things were to become more intimate between her and any of them. Her mind kept turning back to Sam’s kiss, his offer, to Matthew’s flirting, Damien’s smile before the party, the time spent with Erik in the dream and how seductively he had spoken to her, and James’ kind attentiveness. On top of that were those two kisses when they had first met, their enthralment magic and how very, very good it had felt. It was a memory Sam’s new kiss had sparked and her imagination latched onto it.

It helped that they were all very easy on the eyes, too.

So, she fantasized...

… And then she would glance around the table, remember who exactly was sat just two places from her and likely able to see exactly what was running through her mind, blush profusely, and focus franticly on her food again while trying to calm her anxious heartbeat, waiting to see if he would do or say anything, reprimand her maybe.

Damien didn’t, thankfully. He didn’t even glance at her outside of their usual dinner banter.

This happened three times that she counted as her mind kept wandering without her meaning for it to. It made for an exhausting, nerve-wracking dinner.

The final straw for her happened just as she was almost finished eating and her fantasy strayed without her wanting it to to the demon in question, just for a couple of seconds...

~She was straddling his lap, kissing him deeply. His arms were around her waist, her hands were in his hair, her nails running first over his scalp gently, then down his neck…~

She startled out of it when she heard him draw in a shuddering breath. She looked over to see Damien looking fixedly at his plate, hands stilled, head down, lips parted and that rosy blush on his cheeks again.

“I’m going to get myself a drink.” She declared abruptly, rising from her seat to head to the kitchen. She marched quickly, determinedly ignoring how amused Erik was looking… and the poker faces of the other three. She couldn’t bring herself to look at Damien again.

She wished the ground would open up and swallow her. They know...Shit...

Closing the door behind her she leaned against it heavily, heart pounding, both flustered and anxious at being so exposed. Damien could still hear her, she knew… but what did that mean? That look… She wasn’t so naive as to not be able to read a look like that; He had been aroused by what he had seen. He had liked it.

She groaned, burring her face in her hands.

This was definitely all Sam’s fault, she decided. Him and that kiss and putting all these ideas into her head in the first place. Damn incubus!

Still flustered, she remembered she had only come into the kitchen to ‘get a drink’ and so pushed away from the door to start looking through the kitchen for options, having no idea as to what she really wanted. Her was mind completely elsewhere.

She couldn’t help but keep going over what had just happened. Damien really seemed to like what he had seen in her mind, which she wasn’t sure what to make of beyond flustered embarrassment. She didn’t dare think of what it might mean for him. Maybe it’s just because he’s an incubus…?

The fact that it hadn't been her choice to share that fantasy bothered her… Thinking about it, she realized that he hadn’t had a choice in seeing it, either. That just made her feel awful.

But, she hadn't meant it, it wasn’t serious… It was just an idle fantasy, it doesn’t matter, right? Surely he has had to deal with this kind of thing before…

But... Damien had liked it, idle fantasy or not.

She buried her face in her hands again, blushing fiercely. “This is so, so awkward...”

She shook herself, remembering her excuse for being there and decided that orange juice would be good enough. Feeling like she had taken too long as it was and getting nervous over that fact, she poured herself a large glass, still thirsty from her crying anyway, and headed back into the dining room, wishing her blush would just quit it already.

To their credit, non of the guys made any comment as she took her seat again, though she didn’t have the courage to look at any of them directly. She glanced at Damien through her eyelashes. He looked normal, as far as she could tell, as though what had happened hadn’t ruffled him in the slightest. It was a relief.

Soon, everyone was finished eating.

Just as she was about to excuse herself, still feeling too exposed and wanting some time alone, or as close to it as she could get now, James spoke up.

“Miss, before you do anything else for the evening, my brothers and I thought it best we spoke to you about what we are going to do, now that Malix knows we are here.”

That made her paused, heart thundering.

Malix...

So caught up in everything with the incubi she had almost forgotten.

“Right.” She said, a little shakily. “Right… of course.” Even the mention of him had made her fear spike.

“Don’t worry.” Sam said, firmly. “We won’t let them touch you.”

“Quick question.” She said before anyone else could speak. “Malix’s gang… are, are they all devils?” She dreaded the answer.

“That we saw, yes.” James nodded, confirming her fears. “Devil’s typically only associate with their own kind. They are not what you might call tolerant of others, or even of other devils unless there is something in it for them, typically power.”

“It’s a wonder they can organise enough to even have a gang.” Sam said, mouth twisted unpleasantly.

“On the plus side,” Matthew spoke up, “We are in a much better position to face them now, between the energy Erik shared and the rage Sam took from you.”

James said, grimly, “Now that Malix knows we are here our movements are going to be restricted as he is bound to be watching. If we leave we are certain to be attacked. However, thanks to the magic protecting the mansion we now have a safe space to work from and prepare.” Mika frowned at that, a memory from the other night tugging at her.

“We’re going to be training, hard.” Sam said. “We’ve gotten a bit rusty since we came to the human world, we’re gonna fix that.”

Erik added, "There is also magic of our own that we will be able to use to track the location of Malix and his gang. We wont be caught unprepared again.” 

Mika spoke up then, “The previous owner had this placed sealed with magic, that’s what you guys said the other night… Is that what you mean when you say this place is protected by magic?” There were nods from around the table. “How is that possible…?”

The brothers all shared looks in the brief silence that followed before James spoke up;

“Your grandfather was a warlock, Mika, a very powerful one. He knew how to wield demon magic and how to work with demons. He is the one who placed the seal against hell born magic on the mansion.”

“How do you know that? How do you know it was him and not whoever lived here before him?” She honestly had no knowledge of the history of the mansion at all, but it wasn’t a stretch to assume her grandfather was not its first owner.

“Well, princess...” Erik started, before trailing off.

“We knew him.” Damien said.

“What…?”

“Miss, your grandfather is the reason we are here in this world.” James said. “Without him we would never have made it across. Truthfully, had we never have met him, we probably would never have considered trying.”

It was a lot to take in. “… Why didn’t you say anything sooner?” She asked weakly, unable to help feeling suspicious. Why would they keep this from her?

“We have been wanting to talk to you.” Erik said. “However, with how everything has unfolded we simply haven’t been able to find an opportune moment. We didn’t want to burden you before the party, princess.”

She nodded. That made sense and it eased her worries on that topic somewhat. After a moment, as they waited for her to take it all in, she asked, “How did you meet him if you were all in another world?”

James explained, “There are ways to look across worlds, even speak across them, through magic. Your grandfather was quite proficient in that art.”

“Your grandfather reached out to me.” Damien said, softly, sorrowfully, “He reached out to me when I was suffering, as an act of kindness and nothing more. That is how we met.”

“He would...” She whispered, starting to feel teary at that; That sounded just like him.

Matthew said, sounding both awed and sad at the same time, “And, not only did your grandfather help us to open the portal here, when we arrived he gave us everything we needed to start new lives and explore this world! IDs, maps, money, advice… it was incredible!”

“However,” James continued, “We didn’t know he was your grandfather, or that this was his home until the night before last. If we had our introduction probably would have gone a little differently.”

Sam flushed a little even though what James had said didn’t seem targeted at him specifically. She almost smiled at that; His regret at his behaviour was written all over him.

He’d be terrible at poker. She thought, vaguely amused.

Erik spoke up then, “When your grandfather died and we lost contact with him, we didn’t know what had happened. So, knowing he lived in this area, we came back to look for him.”

“You were all worried about him?” She asked, surprised and feeling somewhat guilty again for having doubted them… Yet again however that thought was immediately followed by renewed doubt. What if they are lying...? She had no proof, after all…

“Of course we were!” Matthew said, the others making similar expressions.

“In returning, however,” James said, picking up the story again, “we unintentionally passed through an area that Malix and his gang had claimed as their own and were attacked.”

“And then you found your way here.” She finished with a frown. It was quite a coincidence.

“It wasn’t a coincidence.” Damien said. “My power allows me to sense spirits as well as the living.”

Mika looked at him suddenly, wide eyed, the implication hitting her with a force that almost made her gasp.

Damien continued, “Your grandfather led us here to give us a place to shelter as we healed, and to watch over you. He says he didn’t know your father would move you in so soon, but he is glad that he did.”

“We all are...” Matthew said, warmly, though Mika barely heard him.

There were tears in her eyes as she looked at Damien, her resolve to not cry for at least one night utterly forgotten. “You’re talking to him? He’s- he’s here?” Her voice was small, pleading.

Damien nodded. “He is.”

Doubt clawed at her again. It could be a trick, a lie. It was all so much, so much to take in.

But…

But, shaky introductions aside, had they been anything but kind to her? Anything but helpful? Even taking Sam’s more prickly demeanour into consideration… well, things had changed.

Tears rolling down her cheeks, she smiled weakly and said the only thing she could think to say;

“Hay, grandpa...”

Damien cocked his head slightly to the side, listening, and said, “He says, ‘Hello, sweetie. I’m sorry things are difficult for you right now, but stick with it, things will get better. You’ll see. I’m so sorry that I had to leave. If it helps, I didn’t feel anything. I’m sorry I wont be able to teach about making toys, or any anything else, anymore. But, I know that whatever you put your hand to, you will do just fine. Oh, by the way, your grandma’s old cook book is the thin brown journal amongst the cook books in the cupboard in the kitchen. The sweets recipes I used are in there, including the cookies. I hope you can decipher your grandma’s writing...’”

She had her face in her hands, sobbing, even before he had finished talking; it was exactly what her grandfather would say, she could all but hear him speaking herself. She nodded wordlessly, too far gone already to speak.

Damien said, gently, “He says he means to stay until the situation with Malix has been taken care of, to make certain you are safe. If there is anything you want to ask him before then I would be happy to relay anything he has to say.”

She nodded and vaguely managed a “Thank you.” through her tears.

There was a gentle touch on her arm and she peeked through her hands to see Matthew knelt next to her, holding out a large handkerchief.

“Here...” His eyes were watering, his expression one of sympathy and sadness.

She accepted it shakily, gratefully, with a watery smile, before crumpling again, memories flooding her.

On her other side, Sam reached over and rested his hand lightly on her shoulder.

James said, sorrowful as Matthew settled back in his seat, “We all mourn your grandfather, Mika, he was a good man and very dear to us. He showed us more kindness and charity then we have ever known in the demon world… We were very lucky to have met him.”

She could only nod, still overwhelmed.

They sat in respectful silence as she cried, face buried in the handkerchief.

As she started to calm again she looked up and was shocked; they were crying too, silently; Sam, sat next to her, his head down, watering eyes looking at nothing; Erik had stood behind Damien, hugging him across his shoulders while Damien leaned back against him, eyes closed, his tears falling freely. Matthew and James had managed to put their chairs together without her noticing, Matthew leaning against James, who hugged his younger brother and rested his head ontop of his, watching her sadly.

This is real… She thought to herself, taken aback. They really do morn him, they really knew him… My grandfather helped them… My grandfather knew them!

Doubts clawed at the back of her mind but in the face of all this they were overwhelmed.

This changed everything.

Looking around them, taking it all in, she couldn’t just see people who were effectively still strangers anymore, and even the fact that they were demons wasn't so glaring in the face of all this, their shared grief. More, there was a connection now, a link to her family, her dearest family; her grandfather who had been closer to her in some ways then her own parents.

Maybe I really can trust them. Really, truly trust them...

Suddenly she felt like crying again, and, barely past her first bout and in the midst of such emotion in the room, she let it happen.

This changes everything…

Chapter Text

 

After a long silence, punctuated only by soft sounds of mourning, the atmosphere in the room gradually changed and calmed. Erik, after placing a warm kiss to the top of Damien’s head, went back to his seat with a heavy sigh. James and Matthew separated and quietly moved their chairs back to where they had been before. Sam stayed as he was, bowed over in his seat, though he removed his hand from her shoulder eventually.

Soon, Erik broke the silence by asking if anyone wanted a drink, to which only Damien and Matthew said yes. While he took care of that, Mika pocketed the handkerchief Matthew had given her and began to think of were they had left off their previous convocation before the topic had turned to her grandfather; it was too much to handle right now, the grief too near, and she needed time to process this new emotional revelation about the brothers. She needed a distraction.

“How badly was I hurt, when Malix hit me?” She asked, suddenly, surprising herself as she remembered her fight. She had intended to ask Sam about it but hadn’t gotten round to it. The uncomfortable silence that followed stretched on a moment too long and she murmured, “That bad, huh?”

“Two cracked ribs,” James replied, softly, sadly, “One broken. And some internal bleeding.”

She nodded, numbly. “I didn't feel it..." It made sense, she'd hurt herself in a panic once before but hadn't noticed at the time. The wonders of adrenaline. "Who healed me?”

“I did.” James said.

She looked to him and nodded with a small smile, “Thank you.”

He shook his head. “It’s nothing. It is our fault that you were hurt to begin with.” He had an air of guilt and shame about him, which she noticed was shared by the others too. Now she knew their history with her grandfather, that just hit home more, and she suddenly felt very bad for asking about her injury in the first place; this was not their fault. She repressed a wince when she realise just how bad her timing was in bringing this up given they had just been morning her grandfather. She opened her mouth to apologise but stopped herself when she realize that might just make things worse.

Into the horribly awkward silence that followed, Sam straightened in his seat and spoke up, voice firm and determined. “Never again. It will never happen again. I wont allow it.”

“Sam...” Erik sounded wary.

Sam look to her then, a serious, stern air about him. “Your grandfather placed a protection spell on you to ward against hell born magic. It's the same as the one on the house. That protection will buy you time if those devils ever target you. I want you to use that time to summon me.”

“What…?” She almost asked about the protection spell but another point seemed far more urgent. “What do you mean, summon…?”

“Sam,” James said, sounding wary, “Are you certain?”

“I am.”

“Guys? Sam?”

Sam looked at her, dead in the eye, serious. “Demons can be summoned by anyone who knows their true name… My true name isn’t Sam.”

“Miss,” James cut in, “I need you to understand, a true name is bound to a demon’s soul, and they to it. To know a demon’s true name is to have great power over that demon. In essence, to have their life in your hands from that day forward.”

She paled. “Wait, wait… What?” This sounded very serious. “Explain, please. What do you mean?”

Matthew said, looking torn and contemplative. “With a demon’s true name they can be summoned, bounded, banished, a whole number of things against their will. Not that it’s all bad but, well… Anyway, next to family, its the most precious thing we have. Once you know a demon’s true name you have to guard it, you mustn't let any one else hear it, baring in mind some people can read lips, too. If you have any care for that demon, you must guard their name with your life.”

She looked to Sam, wide eyed. “No. Nononono. Don’t. Don’t you dare…! That’s too much!” She wasn’t ready for that. His life in her hands...

I’ll mess it up... On the back of that thought was another, He'd really trust me with this? ... Why?

Sam had his jaw set stubbornly. “It’s that or I follow you around whenever you are outside and maybe get shot doing so.” 

She gaped at him. "You're kidding."

"Do I look like I'm kidding?" He said with a frown. 

She stared at him for a moment, slightly wide eyed. He looked serious, very serious. She frowned, her heart pounding and palms sweating. She wasn’t ready for this… Please drop it, Sam, please... “I don’t have to leave the mansion.”

“You have school, right?” He pointed out.

Her gut churned at that and it almost made her waver. Just the thought of missing school when she didn’t strictly have to made her fear flare. A part of her knew that her priorities really should be more focused on the devils but she couldn’t help it; fear over doing badly at school was one that had been drilled into her for most of her life. She could all but hear her father yelling at her already.

A thought occurred to her. “One day. I’ll call in sick, for one day, while I learn more about all this. I, I just need time to know where I stand, what all this means. I just... I just need more time.” There was a note of pleading in her voice.

She meant what she said but it was also a move to try and get Sam to drop it. To have someone's life in her hands… she didn’t know if she would ever be okay with that. Perhaps with another day to think things through another option would appear.If all else fails I can extend that to two days She thought to herself. She could always borrow Naomi’s notes, she trusted her friend to fill her in on anything she missed. Just the thought of going past two days almost made her feel ill, however.

Tension in the room eased considerably at that and she almost sagged in her seat.

Sam regarded her, his expression softening and becoming contemplative. “Alright… Deal. Promise me though,” He said, that stern edge returning, “that you wont set foot outside unless one of us is there, or, you know my true name.”

She nodded. “I promise.” It wasn’t as though the thought of going outside didn’t terrify her anyway given there were literal devils targeting them all, watching the mansion.

Looking around the others and she couldn’t help but blush a little, lowering her head; they looked impressed. James in particular seemed pleased with her choice.

Damien spoke up then, “Your grandfather says he had a journal and spellbook in his study you can read to learn more, if you want to. He says that they were intended for you… the journal was written with you in mind.”

“Oh…! Thank you, Damien… Grandpa...” Her voice trailed off, sadly, as that heavy weight of loss on her chest came back. He had a journal on magic written for her? So, her grandfather had wanted to mentor her in all this? The thought of all the lost time they could have spent together hurt, badly. Suddenly a hundred questions burst into her mind, a hundred things she wanted to say to and ask her grandfather, so much so she couldn’t find words for even one of them. Instead all she said weakly, was, “I-I’ll do that...”

“He says, to find them, you will need to check his laptop.”

“Okay...” She nodded, shakily.

“Miss,” James spoke up, kindly, “If there is anything you wish to know about demons, devils, or magic, you are welcome to ask me, anytime.”

“James is knowledgeable on most subjects.” Erik said, “And if there is something he doesn’t know, just point him towards a library or a computer and it wont be long before he can teach it himself.”

Sam smirked, “Yeah, James is a know-it-all alright, but he has his uses.” He teased. James ignored him.

“Is there anything you want to ask me now?” He asked her instead.

“I, er...” There was too much, that was the problem. Questions from tonight, from her talk with Sam and what had been said over dinner, and more general queries that had been buzzing around the back of her mind since the day she had met them. Like, if they were demons, why did they seem so human? Was that normal or was it a disguise? And what about all the stories humans had of demons, was any of that true? She took a breath.

I need to prioritise…

“Can you explain true names some more, please? And summoning?”

James nodded, “Do you remember what I said about how we use bindings to anchor ourselves into facets of existence? One of those necessary bindings is name binding shortly after we are born. It is, easily, the most important magical binding we undergo. Our name anchors us into reality itself. Without them we are doomed to live very short lives overwhelmed by madness...”

“Aside from simply being our names,” Erik continued, “they can be used to tie us into other aspects of reality other then that which we currently occupy, such as a different location, as with a summoning spell. They are a fundamental element in our magic, which is why they are so important.”

“So,” She said, “that’s how they can be used to do things to you against your will? By tying you to, to a spell or whatever?”

“Essentially, yes.” James replied.

“Not that it’s all bad.” Matthew spoke up. “We use them ourselves in our own magic, and having someone you trust know your name can be a literal life saver at times.”

She nodded thoughtfully. “Like… summoning you out of danger?”

“Yeah, that’s a good example.”

She nodded. “Anything else you guys think I should know?”

James shook his head, “Not about true names, anything more would mean going into specific applications, which you don’t need right now. As for summoning, that is simple; you say the demon’s name aloud with the intent to summon them, the barest whisper would do. The summoning draws a small amount of energy from the caster, then, provided the demon has enough energy and is not bound to something that would prevent it, like an object, they are summoned to your location.”

She frowned. "That's it? That's all there is to the summoning spell? You don't need to know like... magic circles or symbols or anything?"

James nodded. "That's it, yes. You don't need to know magic to summon a demon once you have their name."

“That… sounds really easy... So anyone could do a summoning?” She didn't like this. It sounded too easy, not that she doubted what they were saying.

"If they have our names, yes."

She frowned thinking. Then the various things that been said had her looking between James and Sam with narrowed eyes. “Wait, do you guys get a choice in responding to a summons?”

“No.” Sam responded matter of factly.

Her eyes widened. “At all?”

Sam shook his head. Looking to the others gave her the same answer.

A dizzying array of terrible implications rushed through her head. “What…?” She whispered faintly, suddenly overwhelmed.

If the wrong person learned their names, they are as good as dead… Or worse… She realized in horror. The summoner doesn’t even need to know magic... It was even worse then she had thought when the topic had first came up.

“As I said,” Matthew spoke up, “once you know a demon’s true name, you guard it with your life.”

A sudden surge of protectiveness rushed through her and she rounded on Sam with a raised voice. “Are you crazy?! You barely even know me!! Why would you risk yourself like that?!” She yelled.

The stunned silence that followed that was broken only by Damien’s amused chuckle.

Sam blinked at her, surprised, then smirked, “I know you well enough, I think.”

“Oh? And what gives you that idea?! It’s only been three days!”

Sam replied smugly, cocky, “You’re all worked up, aren’t you? That shows you care.”

For the second time since she had met him, she wanted to punch him, if only to wipe that look off his face as she started to blush. "T-That's not the-! I-!" She sputtered.

Before she could marshal her tongue, Sam spoke again, suddenly serious. “I wont see you hurt again, Mika. Devils are serious business, you can’t handle them alone.”

She let out a breath at that, deflating, but still glaring at him. “Fine. But I’m still taking the day to get my head round all this.”

Sam grinned again. “Like I said, you care. You’re taking this seriously.”

She gapped then glared again, “W-Well, I, I still say you’re crazy!”

Sam shrugged, chuckling. “Whatever, doofus.”

“Shut up.” She huffed, blushing brightly now, the fire sparked by her protectiveness fading. She ducked her head when she finally noticed how similarly amused the others were looking.

“Was there anything else you wanted to know?” James asked into the silence that followed.

She frowned slightly, thinking. The most pressing questions brought up by Sam’s offer of his true name, that she could think of, had been answered. That had given her plenty to think about and all she wanted now was some time alone. Besides, Sam’s teasing had left her feeling awkward. “I... If it’s alright with you, I just want to think. Maybe explore the house a little. I want to look at grandpa’s books, too... if I have any questions after I’ll find you then, okay?”

“As you wish.” James said with a nod and a smile.

“For future reference,” Erik said, “I am not unknowledgeable about magic myself, and would be more then happy to answer any question you wish.”

Matthew offered, “Sam, Damien and I would be able to help with more general stuff, if you’d be more comfortable talking to any of us.”

Sam gave Matthew a pointed look. “Don’t sell yourself short, Matthew, you aren’t too bad with magic either.”

Matthew just shrugged. “Not as good as Erik or James.”

Feeling a little overwhelmed at all the offers of help, she said, awkwardly, “Thank you, everyone, very much… Um...” 

James stood then. “Well, we won’t keep you any longer. Don’t worry about the dishes, we will clear up.” She felt a rush of gratitude towards him for making the first move to leave, she hadn't wanted to seem rude.

“Are you sure?” She asked, getting up too.

“Absolutely.” Erik replied with a smile.

“You go ahead,” Matthew said with a shooing motion, “We’ll be around if you need us.” He grinned at her, cheerfully.

She nodded, a little surprised at their lack of condition or protest, that they weren’t pushing her for anything. She was so used to people making demands of her that this free pass was surprising. “Thank you… I’ll, um, talk to you guys later, then...”

She made her way out of the dining room then, still feeling awkward.

She was grateful when she was finally out of their sight, feeling too much in their company. So much had happened in just one evening, just one weekend, and she had had no time to just stop and breathe. It was time she desperately needed.

Chapter Text

 

Wandering the house, she let her feet carry her as her mind churned over everything that had been discussed, everything she had learned. The revaluation that Damien was able to talk to her grandfather’s spirit was one she couldn’t shake and it wasn’t long before she found herself wishing she had asked him to join her in her explorations. There were so many things she wished she could ask her grandfather, both big things and small things, and all the really important things she wanted to say on top of that, like ‘I love you.’.

She thought better of it though, if only just; she didn’t want to burden Damien with all that. Just thinking about it made her feel flustered and embarrassed, though her heart was heavy. Debating with herself over it just made her feel worse so eventually she decided to simply drop it.

After a little wandering she came to the drawing room. It had been years since she had been in there as her grandfather usually took her to the living room, dining room or kitchen when she visited. A piano sat in one corner and she smiled to look at it; she could barely play more then chopsticks but for a time when she was younger it had been her favourite thing to distract herself with if her grandfather was busy.

She looked around the room for a couple of minutes but with not having been in there for so long the feeling of being a guest bothered her, like she didn’t belong. Then again, she was still feeling like a guest through the rest of the mansion anyway, just not this badly.

Feeling uncomfortable, she decided to moved on.

As she stepped out out of the room she was surprised to see Damien waiting for her.

He looked determined yet had a flicker of hesitancy in his eyes when he said, kindly, “You will never be a burden to me, Mika.”

She froze, confused for a moment before she gasped as she remembered her previous line of thought, her hand flying to cover her mouth. The sense of never having any real privacy around him jarred her again, but she tried to push it aside. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“You don’t have to apologise.” He interrupted her, firmly but gently. “Your grandfather can’t stay forever. I said I would be happy to be an intermediary between you two, I meant it.”

Overcome with more emotion then she was able to put name to, eyes welling up, at first she could only nod, silently. After a moment she took a deep unsteady breath and whispered, “T-thank you...”

Stepping forward he said, softly, “I know you have been having, difficulties, because of my ability” his tone was bitter, “and I want you to know I am very sorry for that, for making this time harder for you. I know you have been trying to push through that, not for your own sake, but for mine.” He looked her square in the eyes then, his expression heartfelt if edged in pain, “I want you to know how grateful I am for that and I hope that, maybe, in time, we can become close.”

“I...” She didn’t know what to say, confronted by all this - by him - all of a sudden. In the end she simply went with, “Me too.” She gave him a small smile; it was true, she did want that, or at the very least to not feel bothered by his power any more. She blinked as part of what he had said caught up with her. “But, please, don’t blame yourself, okay? I know you can’t help it.”

He nodded with a slight smile, though to her it looked bittersweet, and for a few moments they just stood there in silence, her feeling ever more awkward.

“So,” She said eventually, “We, erm, we should find somewhere to talk, yeah?” Damien nodded as she mentally ran over their options. She wanted somewhere private where the others would be unlikely to interrupt them if they wound up talking for a while. “My room?” It was the best option she could think of.

Damien nodded, “Alright.” He held out his hand, motioning for her to take the lead.

Walking through the house, Damien fell into step beside her and she couldn’t help but study him through the corner of her eye. It was still so hard to believe that he was speaking to her grandfather but the messages he had relayed sounded so like him… She wanted to believe it was true.

Damien himself looked calm, as he always did, his expression neutral.

When they reached her room Damien opened the door for her, waiting for her to enter before he followed her in and shut the door behind them.

She watched him carefully, heart aching. “Is he here?”

She didn’t have to say who. “Yes.”

She nodded and was quiet for a long moment. Eventually she said, “Damien… How come grandpa is still here? And why… why does he have to leave once Malix isn’t a threat anymore?” Her voice was quiet, trembling.

Damien’s expression was sympathetic and kind. “He’s here for you, Mika. It takes considerable will for a spirit to remain after death. Usually they need a reason. Your grandfather’s reason is you, and his fear over what Malix and the other devils might do to you. Once that reason is done, he can’t stay.”

She nodded and glancing around the otherwise empty looking bedroom she whispered, teary, “I love you too, grandpa...”

Damien sighed then looked thoughtful. After a long moment while she struggled to think of what to say next, Damien said, quietly, “If it will help...” He trailed off, apparently focused on something else. When she looked at him quizzically he said, with a quick glance to a spot to his right, “If you want to talk to him directly, I can do that for you… though it will drain energy to do that.”

What…?” She asked weakly. This was far more then she had expected.

He nodded, still thoughtful. “I can share my perception of him with you, so you can hear him speaking as I do. I can try to filter out the rest of what I hear, which shouldn’t be too difficult with so few minds nearby.”

Taking a step closer to him quickly, overwhelmed and desperate to speak to her grandfather again, she reached for his hands, taking them in hers. “Please!” Squeezing his hands, starting to tremble, she repeated, “Yes! Please…!”

Damien nodded and smiled, and she almost sobbed. He frowned slightly in thought and looked around the room. Turning back to her he said, “I think this will be easiest if you sit on the bed and I sit behind you. I will need to touch your head.”

She nodded and despite her nerves and shaking, moved before he could, pulling him to the bed, still holding his hands. She hesitated when she reached it, suddenly uncertain, mentally floundering in midsts of so many emotions. Damien however did not hesitate and, gently pulling his hands from hers, moved to kneel on the bed, facing her, leaving enough space for her to sit comfortably in front of him.

He gestured to the bed. “Come, sit down. It’s alright.”

She went to move but paused. “You, you said this would drain your energy… Do you need more first…?”

He shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of that after if I need to.”

She nodded and moved to sit in front of him, her back to him. She watched him over her shoulder as he shuffled closer, his knees coming to rest either side of her hips. She could feel his body heat through their clothes, making her heart beat ever so slightly faster.

“Look forward.” He said.

She complied, breath and heartbeat accelerating further in her nervousness. Would this work? Would she really get to talk to her grandfather again? Tears prickled at her eyes and despite expecting it she jumped slightly when Damien gently touched her head, his fingers resting lightly against her temples. He shifted behind her again and she felt his breath on the back of her neck before there was the gentle pressure of him resting his head against hers.

“Ready?” He asked.

“Yes...”

“Okay...”

There was a slight tingle of energy in his finger tips, the barest pressure inside her mind, before the world around her began to shift, just a little. It was as though the building around her were ever so slightly transparent. She blinked and squinted and it took a moment to realise the change was not with her eyes, but her mind. She couldn’t see out of the room, but she could feelsomething, beyond it.

A purple light was forming in the room in front of her but she was distracted from it by the sound of James’ voice echoing from somewhere outside of the room, sounding like he was at the far end of an empty corridor.

-spell would- no, I don’t have the ingredients. Could I substitute? A constructed substitute could- no, I can’t justify the energy cost-’ Along with his voice there were images of flowers, stones, symbols and a purple and blue crystal. It was as though she were hearing pictures, which was incredibly distracting in and of itself.

“Sorry.” Damien said behind her. “I’ve almost got it...”

“That’s James’ thoughts?” She asked, fascinated.

“Yes, he and the others are going over magical options for offence and defence.”

More sounds and images tugged at her senses, most of them indistinct, too fuzzy for her to make out. Suddenly from behind her there was a burst of pictures, of a tree, a raven, eggs and twigs. It was very close by and drew her attention.

“What?” She asked confused. She almost turned around to look out of the window to where the images came from, but was stopped by a slight pressure from Damien’s touch reminding her to stay as she was. She couldn’t help but tilt her head slightly though, straining her eyes to try and get a glimpse.

“It’s just a raven, try to ignore it.” He said quietly, clearly trying to concentrate.

“You can hear animals? Seriously??” She asked like a child discovering a new toy.

Damien chuckled behind her. “Mmm...”

Unable to help herself, she asked, “… What about insects?”

A laugh echoed in her mind then, warm and so painfully, achingly familiar. She froze, mind going blank, tears instantly starting to prickle at her eyes again.

I can see my curiosity stayed with you, hun...’

The purple light that she had dismissed in the wake of the of the jarring sensation of hearing images solidified in her perception into a glowing purple orb. The flutter of indistinct sounds and pictures that danced around her mind from outside the room faded to almost nothing as Damien sighed softly behind her. She drew in a breath, suddenly finding herself at a loss for words, the first tears making their way down her cheeks.

It alright, sweetie, it’s alright, I’m here...’ Overlaying the vision of the purple orb, an image of her grandfather appeared, just as he had been last she had seen him. He knelt down in front of her, smiling kindly, sadly.

“G-grandpa…?” She sobbed, weakly.

Oh, hun, I’m sorry… It’s alright, it’s okay...’

“I love you, grandpa…!” She cried, hands over her face, though she refused to take her eyes off him.

I love you too, Mika.’

“I love you.” She repeated unable in that moment to think of anything else. After a couple of seconds of trying to get her sobbing under control, she said, shakily, “… T-Thank you. Thank you for staying...”

It’s alright. I’ll do everything I can to keep you safe, Mika. You’ll get through this, I promise.’

Truthfully it was not the devil threat she was referring to, but she set it aside.

“T-thank you. I love you.”

You’ve been doing so well so far, sweetie, given how suddenly everything has been happening. I’m proud of you.’

She nodded, mute from a moment, before choking out another quiet, “T-Thank you...”

You’ll make it through. Just remember, whatever happens, beware of devils, never trust them. They are as close to true evil as it is possible to be. They do not love and are universally cruel.' The concern in his voice caught her attention even through her grief.

They really are that bad…? She thought to herself. As much as she wanted to think her grandfather had stayed just because he wanted to, that concern in his voice brought her back to reality; the situation really was that bad, and that was why he had stayed.

She nodded shakily, “I will...” Then she asked, trying to calm her tears and her new spike of nerves, “Y-you, you knew a-about there being devils h-here? Is, is that why you cast a, a spell on me?”

Yes, I knew. A contact of mine warned me about them about four months ago. That was when I put the spell on you and on the mansion.’

“When? I, I don’t remember...”

You stopped over after school one day and fell asleep, on a Friday, remember? I’m sorry for casting a spell on you without your consent but I was very worried, devils are a very serious matter. I’m sorry for not telling you, I didn’t think you were ready to know...’

She nodded. “I understand… This is... a lot...”

He gave a slight wry smile. ‘Yes… I had hoped to introduce this to you after you graduated and, if you were interested, to explain everything to you then. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that opportunity.’

“Grandpa...” She almost crumpled again then at the thought of what could have been, and closed her eyes as more tears spilled over. The image of her grandfather remained in her mind.

He continued, softly, ‘Thankfully, I had everything set up ready for you. I did not plan on dying, but I was not a young man anymore and I knew better then to rely on hope alone. All of my research, my knowledge, I have documented and catalogued for you, if you ever want to learn it.’

“I, I don’t know what, what to say...” She managed, forcing back her tears and opening her eyes again.

You don’t have to say anything. Take your time, sweetie. Remember, do what makes you feel happy. Magic or no magic, all I want is for you to live your life in the way you want to, in a way that is good for you. I have given you another option, another path to explore, but it is up to you if you want to take it.’

“Thank you...” All she wanted was to get up and hug him, but she knew that was futile and would break the link to Damien that was letting her talk to him in the first place. Blinking to clear her vision, she asked after a moment, curious. “Grandpa, w-why, why did you take up studying about d-demons and, and magic in the first place? What did you hope to, to gain?”

It wasn’t a matter of gaining anything but knowledge… Through magic I was able to learn about the demon world and it’s wonders. I even made several friends from it, including the boys.’

“You knew other demons?”

Yes, a few, over the years. A couple of them I counted among my dearest friends...’

“Can I meet them?”

Unfortunately, aside from the brothers, all my demon friends are either dead or returned to the demon world some time ago. I did have some contacts still here, but I wasn’t close enough to them to truly call them friends. I had all their information written down if you ever need it.’

She nodded, a little saddened at that. A question burned at her at her then, sparked by what her grandfather had said. It felt strange, wrong, to even think it, like a bad dream, but some part of her mind fuelled by suspicion now that magic was on the table, pushed her to ask. “Grandpa… What happened? I, I mean, how did… They said it was a," she took a breath, "a heart attack. I-Is that right?” 

I don’t know. I just stopped breathing. There was a rush of sensation but I assume that was simply the fact that I was dying." She winced a little on that word. "I don’t know why it happened but I believe it was because my time was up. Try not to worry about it. As I said before, it didn’t hurt.’

She nodded, “That’s good, I mean, that it, it didn’t hurt...” The words, the topic, felt alien as she spoke, like she were reading from a script for a play. She fell silent then, thinking about what had happened since she had been told of his death. Including the funeral. It still felt like a bad dream but even in dreams she could have questions. After a short silence she said, “Grandpa…?”

Yes, hun?’

“What... What happened, between you and dad?” She asked meekly, hoping that, this time, she might finally get an answer.

He sighed, ‘Shortly before your father married he learned about my study of magic. I think it frightened him and he saw me as a monster. He was afraid I would hurt you and wanted to protect you from me at all costs. Even if it meant becoming a monster to you himself.’ He sighed sadly again. Your father has always been so hard on you… I am to blame for that. He truly does love and care for you though, he just doesn’t want you to be as curious as I was.’

“Curious...?”

I chose to learn about magic. I grew curious about it. He thought that was wrong so when I didn’t give it up, he shut me out of his life, promising to never follow in my footsteps. He doesn’t want you to follow in my footsteps either.’

“… All of that, all of this, everything… Just because he didn’t like that you were interested in magic?” It seemed absurd to her, and her father had been cruel...

I don’t know what his exact reasons were, but, yes. In fairness to him, there are many potential dangers in magic and working with demons. Not all demons are as friendly as the boys.’

She nodded, thinking about what Sam had said about their father.

He grandfather sighed, ‘Although he shut me out, he was my son, I still loved and cared for him. I helped him in little ways with the help of your mother, like paying bills and making sure he had food to come home to by adding money to your parents accounts. You don’t know how hard your father worked to get to where he is now.’

She frowned as she took that in. It was true that her father worked hard, but she didn’t realize that he had struggled enough to warrant help like that. She frowned further at the thought that all of that hardship was just because he didn’t like magic. She couldn’t understand it.

When you were born, I couldn’t have been any happier. I tried to give you as many toys as I could, but many of them were tossed away by your father to protect you from me. I thought I would never have been able to see you, but when I found you on that street, I was blessed enough to have been given a chance. After I brought you back to your parents, I asked your mother to convince your father to let you visit me often and he finally agreed. I’m very glad she was able to persuade him.’

“Me too… I love you, grandpa.” She reaffirmed, softly.

I love you, too.’

In the heavy silence that followed her grandfather frowned slightly, looking past her shoulder, before his expression became sad. ‘Mika, I’m afraid we are going to have to end this talk now, Damien is going to run too low on energy soon.’

Her eyes widened; she didn’t want this to end so soon. Would she even get another chance? “Wait…!”

From behind her Damien said, quietly, “I’m fine...”

Her grandfather shook his head, his tone when he spoke was kind. ‘You can’t fool me, son. I’ve spent far too much time around your kind for that.’ He looked back to her, ‘Mika-’

“No, no wait!” She exclaimed, desperate. “He says he’s fine! We have time! It’s fine!” Her hands flew up to the side of her head, clamping over Damien’s carefully, holding him in place, though he was making no attempt to move.

Mika-’

Voice unsteady, tears spilling over again, she cut over him, “Y-you said you h-have spent too much time around h-his kind, did, did you mean incubi? H-have you met o-other incubi before?” Her voice was pleading; What if she never got another chance to ask?

Mika, please, I’ll still be around for a little while, and I’ll make sure to say goodb-’

“What about your magic!” She tried again, desperate, “H-how did, did you first s-start learning about this?” She sobbed.

Sweetie-’

“Please! Grandpa!” She begged, her vision blurred by tears though the image of her grandfather was still clear, his expression pained. “Please, talk to me!” She pleaded after he was silent for a moment. “Don’t go...”

I don’t want to but Damien can't keep this up-.’

"He said he's fine!" She almost shouted, with a spark of anger in her voice.

Her grandfather sighed. 'Mika, hun, I as much as I wish I could talk to you like I used to, I can't. Forgive me for putting it like this but I am dead-'

"No! No, no, no, no, no..." She sobbed. "It's not fair!"

'I know sweetie, I know... but we can't go back to how things were...'

"But..." She trailed off, awash with pain. "Grandpa..."

From behind her, Damien said, softly, soothingly, “Mika, he wont be leaving yet. We can do this again.”

“Promise…?!” She gasped.

Damien...’ There was a note of pained hesitancy in her grandfather’s voice.

“I promise.” He said, firmly.

Relief crashed through her and she cried harder for it. “T-thank y-you...”

After a moment her grandfather spoke up, a wary note in his voice, ‘Mika, please, don’t push Damien over this, it isn’t fair.’

“I...” She blinked through her tears. Her smile was weak when she answered and didn’t quite match her eyes, “I, I wont… I-It’s fine...”

Her grandfather’s expression was pained and sad. ‘Oh, sweetie...’

“We, we’ll t-talk again, then.” She nodded slightly, her smile still not quite sitting right in her eyes. “I, I love you, grandpa.”

I love you too, Mika. Don’t forget, you can always ask Damien to relay messages for you, you don’t have to speak to me like this.’

“I know. It’ll be fine. We- we’ll work through things.” She nodded with a watery smile. “I’ll talk to you later.”

Mika...’ He hesitated, ‘Mika please, if events unfold so that Damien can’t keep that promise, don’t blame him.’

She paled, “W-what do you mean? You’re not- you're not going yet, w-we have time!” Her voice was shaking.

We do, but once Malix has been dealt with I will need to move on. I’ll keep an eye on you though, whatever happens.’

“Grandpa-”

I promise sweetie, even when I have gone, I will still keep an eye on you. Even if we can’t talk anymore, I’ll still watch over you. I promise.’

She shook her head. “I, I still want to, to talk to you. I s-still want you to, to be here. Please, grandpa...”

You have other people in your life, sweetie. Your parents will always be there for you, even your father, as harsh as he can be sometimes. I suspect the boys will stay in your life if you want them to. And, you still have Suzu and Naomi too, of course. You have so much ahead of you, you don’t need me there for that.’

“But...”

You’ll be alright, Mika. I’ll always be in your heart.’

She was overcome with sobbing then, her body shaking, her hands curling over Damien’s, though he still didn’t try to move.

I’ll say goodbye now, Mika-’

“No.”

I’ll stay close for as long as Malix is a threat-’

“Grandpa...”

And watch over you, always.’

“Grandpa…!”

I love you.’

“I love you too...”

Now, Damien...’

“Wait!”

The image of her grandfather, his purple light, faded and her perception of the world returned to normal.

She gripped Damien’s hand’s even tighter, pressing them against her head. “Bring him back, please! Let me see him again!”

Damien’s voice was soft and sad behind her, “He’s still here, it’s alright...”

“No. N-no, it isn't...” She sobbed. “P-please… Please let me s-see him a-again. Please...”

“I… I’m sorry. My energy is too low for more.” He sounded genuinely remorseful and their was an unusual tightness to his voice.

Pulling his hands from her head then, she turned where she sat to face him. She was just about to speak when she noticed the pained grimace on his face, how his brow was furrowed and lightly glistening with sweat, his skin pale and lips pressed in a firm line.

“Damien!” She exclaimed, shocked.

He gave a weak smile. “I’m alright.” His smile faded as he glanced away, trying to suppress a pained wince. “I... underestimated how much energy that would use. I’m sorry.”

“I-” She choked. Her grandfather had said he was running out of energy, yet she had insisted on talking more. Was this the consequence of that? There was a tightness about his eyes that made her feel terrible.

He’s in pain…! She thought as guilt crashed into grief and she burst into tears again.

“I’m sorry!!” She exclaimed, wrapping her arms around him unthinkingly, hugging him and burring her face into his shoulder.

Damien froze. “I…! Er...”

“I’m sorry.” She repeated muffled against his jacket. She sighed as his arms came around her, hugging her back, though she frowned when she noticed the tremble in his hands. She held him tighter, feeling exhausted from so many kinds of pain. As the moments dragged by she felt a spark of anger, not at anyone in particular but simply at life itself; It had been one thing after another, for days now, and hurting Damien was was a step too far for her and suddenly all she wanted was to try and make it right. She’d had enough.

Energy. She thought to herself belatedly as her tears stilled with her determination. He needs energy… She sat up. I owe him.

Damien protested, “You don’t owe m-mh!”

She cut him off, pressing her lips clumsily to his, holding onto his shoulders.

I want to make this right...She thought, determined. I will make this right.

Chapter Text

 

For a long awkward moment Mika and Damien both sat frozen, she suddenly at a loss as to what to do next given he wasn’t moving and there was no sign of energy drain. She was conscious of the taste of salt on her lips from her earlier tears and almost considered backing away.

I want to help him… She reminded herself.

After a couple of moments he sighed and relaxed. His gaze shifted from wide eyed to piercing and he whispered against her mouth;

“Thank you...”

As he gently began to kiss her, she let her eyes fall closed as his hands slid further around her back, holding her more firmly. She moaned into the kiss as the warmth of his enthralment spell rolled through her, making her body relax and her senses sing. As she began to reciprocate the kiss, inexperienced but eager in the wake of his spell, one of his hands slid up her back to cup the back of her head, holding her steady, guiding her. She felt the tingle of energy drain relaxing her further, leaving her ever so slightly light headed.

As he deepened the kiss, passion rising, she lost track of the rest of the room, of everything but him and his kiss, his touch, his warmth. Her hands trailed up from his shoulders, brushing over his neck to rest on his head, her fingers weaving themselves through his hair. Damien moaned into the kiss, shifting forward on the bed to hold her closer.

She could barely think, barely feel anything but the pleasure he was giving her, her mind hazy from that and energy drain, from the feel of him so close to her. It wasn’t like those two kisses from when she had first met them, it was better, so much better. The tiny part of her mind that was still thinking rationally chalked it up to her being a full participant this time.

When Damien finally pulled back, the energy drain and enthralment spell fading, she tried to follow him, still caught in the kiss. Damien ducked his head to the side and she wound up kissing his cheek, his jaw, as he nuzzled by her ear.

Blinking, dazed, she caught her breath as her mind fumbled to adapt to the change in the situation, her fingers gently kneading at his scalp.

Damien lightly kissed her hair then said softly, ever so slightly breathless, “I’m okay now… Thank you...”

She on the other hand didn’t want to stop. She’d enjoyed that kiss and being lost in it was the best she had felt in… well, she wasn’t sure. A long time. After all the pain, heartbreak and fear of the last few days, it was like a ray of light after a long stretch of dark and she reached for it desperately.

Tentatively she kissed his jaw again. “Damien...” She barely recognised her own voice, the husky lustful tone.

He shivered, pulling back slightly to look her in the eye. She scarcely registered the slight hesitation in his eyes, instead focusing on his flushed cheeks, his hooded eyelids, his lips. She dove back in before he could say anything.

Damien reciprocated, passionately, after only a moment of indecision.

Without breaking the kiss, Damien moved around her until he was knelt beside her on the bed. With one hand on her shoulder and another behind her back, he guided her to lie down where she sat, her feet still touching the floor. Mika complied willingly, her fingers still tangled in his hair as she kissed him, gasping as she felt the warm glow of his enthralment spell wash through her again, relaxing her, silencing any nagging doubts, leaving her free to simply enjoy, to be.

Damien moved to straddle her, his body just inches above hers, his heat tantalising her through their clothes. She arched her back instinctively, wanting to feel him against her, wanting more. He took the hint, setting his weight against her, lightly at first then more firmly when one of her arms trailed down his back to clutch him against her.

Her mind distantly noted that the energy drain had returned along with the enthralment spell, but she didn’t care; her body was revelling in it and it was wonderful to feel so good.

She gasped as he trailed kisses from her lips to her jaw, one of his hands sliding under her top to brush the skin at her waist while the fingers of his other hand massaged her scalp gently. As he kissed down to her neck she turned her head to give him space, blinking as the motion caused the room to spin unexpectedly around her. As the spinning didn’t stop, her body going limp as darkness closed in, she clutched Damien’s jacket in an attempt to get his attention but her mind succumbed before she could see if it had worked.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

She was dreaming, sat on the grass next to Erik in the same meadow as before, the vague impression of the lobby of her grandfathers mansion fading from her perception rapidly. They were sat side by side, just as they had been before, not touching but within easy arms reach.

“Hi.” She greeted him with a smile.

He nodded. “Princess…”

“Thank you… for looking after me like this.”

He smiled with genuine warmth, “You are most welcome, any time.”

She sighed looking over the meadow. Her smile faded to a grimace. “I didn’t get much done yesterday in the end. That was one of my shortest days ever...”

He chuckled, leaning back on his arms, amusement in his eyes. “Perhaps, but I feel like I should congratulate you, princess, on managing to make Damien so flustered. That takes some doing.”

She blushed as she looked over to him. “Oh?”

“Mhmm. He lost control, making you pass out like that. Damien may be... intense, at times, but he has has long since past the point of losing track of his partner’s energy… Or so we thought.” He smirked at that, then chuckled, “He was absolutely shamefaced when he told us what happened!”

She blushed more, shrugging, the dream state relaxing her and loosening her tongue, “It wasn’t just him. I kinda got… carried away? Hehe... It felt… amazing.” She finished with a wistful sigh.

“Mmm...” Erik watched her carefully as she spoke.

“I liked feeling good like that,” She admitted, “not thinking or having to do anything, to work things out… I wasn’t thinking about devils, or, or grandpa,” she faltered for a moment before continuing, “or worrying about school, or my family, or anything… It was a nice change.” 

The seductive tone in Erik’s voice was unmistakable, if soft and measured, “Do you wish to feel like that again?” 

In the dream space, her mind back on that kiss, she couldn’t lie. Her own voice lowered with her want, “Yes...” 

Erik smiled, tilting his head as he regarded her. “You need only ask, princess. If it is a distraction you crave, an escape, I can provide you with anything you desire. A convocation, a massage, a kiss… More… Anything. Name it.” Her face heated, desire sparked by Damien’s kiss churned, but before she could say anything he smiled ruefully and glanced away, sinking back onto his elbows with a small chuckle. “Well, when you are awake, anyway.” He glanced back at her. “Sorry.”

“Tease.” She pouted and stuck her tongue out.

He chuckled. “What can I say, there are rules I must abide by.” He pouted playfully, watching her with hooded eyes. “Though that doesn’t mean I like it...”

“Still teasing, Erik.” She mock glared now, reaching over to poke his arm.

He giggled. “Sorry, but you are just so tempting...” He purred.

“Eeeerick…” She whined as he laughed. “Do you have an off button or something? Seriously...” She giggled.

“Not that I nor anyone else has been able to find.” He quipped, grinning.

“You did promise Sam that you would behave.” She reminded him lightly.

He made a face at that. “Him, and you...” He sighed, becoming more sombre for a moment, before smiling again, “I am serious though,” He said, voice like silk, “when you are awake...” He trailed off, his look a blatant offer.

“I’ll think about it...” She replied, honestly very tempted.

“Please do.” He smiled up at her one more time before laying back fully on the grass, looking up at the sky.

She stayed sat up as she studded him. Erik was a walking gallery of exotic features, from his purple eyes and copper hair, to his supermodel type body with those ridiculously long limbs. He would have turned heads on a catwalk, no question. She sighed. Yes, he was tempting, very tempting in the light of the new experience that kiss had given her, but the distance she noticed in his eyes ever since that first night still troubled her even in the dream.

“Talk to me.” She said into the quiet, peaceful as it had been.

“Mmm? What about, princess?”

“You. Tell me about yourself.” She lay down on her side next to him, as he looked over to her in mild surprise.

“What do you want to know?” He asked as he rolled onto his side to mimic her, his expression curious.

She shrugged. “Dunno. What about… favourite pastime?”

A mischievous, flirtatious look flashed across his expression to which she rolled her eyes with a small smirk. He giggled, “Sorry… Hmm… Very well, but if I answer, I get to ask you a question in turn. Deal?”

She nodded. “Deal.”

He nodded. “Hmm, I would have to say artistic pursuits are favourite of mine. Music in particular… Though I do admit, since coming to the human world I have taken an interest in fashion. There are so many possibilities for expression, it’s fascinating...”

She smiled. “Fashion and music… Yeah, I can see that. That suits you.”

He smiled widely, “Thank you! Now, I ask you the same question; How do you like to pass the time?”

She snorted. “What time?” She sighed, growing thoughtful as she picked at the grass in the space between them. “I guess… I like spending time with Suzu and Naomi. Doesn’t matter if it is playing at the arcade, eating out, clubbing, or just… chilling. Whatever. I don’t have much free time, ‘cuz of school and stuff, and it’s nice to not spend the time I do have alone.”

Erik nodded, his expression sympathetic and thoughtful. “I understand… Back home, when I wasn’t busy with my studies, I would spend as much time as could with my brothers.” He smiled, eyes growing distant in memory. “There wasn’t a day that went by when we weren't all doing something exciting. It was an empty excitement, of course, but it was still something that helped to bond us all together.”

She nodded. “What was it like, your home?”

“The castle?” He seemed surprised at her question.

“Yeah...”

He smiled, a playful glint in his eyes. “Would you like me to show you?”

Her eyes widened in her curiosity. “How?”

He laughed lightly, “My dear princess, I can conjure far more then this meadow, you know. This is a dream, after all.” Her eyes lit up at that and he chuckled. “So, would you like to see?” 

“Yes!” She answered enthusiastically, very curious.

Erik grinned and got to his feet quickly, offering her his hand to help her stand. Smiling widely she accepted it and as she stood the meadow dissolved in a spinning whorl of red sparkling lights. Grinning in wonder, she watched as the lights cleared to reveal what looked like a medieval fantasy throne room. Stained glass windows high above the main space filled the hall with multicoloured light.

“Wow...” She breathed, delighted.

“This is, of course, the throne room and main hall of the castle we grew up in.” Erik said next to her, still holding her hand. “We had many grand balls here, with guests the likes of which I doubt you could imagine, good food and music from dusk to dawn. We’d eat, dance, talk and play the nights away.”

A little breathless, she asked, “You had them all the time? Balls?”

“Unfortunately, no. Hosting celebrations takes a large amount of resources so we save balls for only the most grand of occasions, such as an important wedding, the peaceful uniting of kingdoms or the crowning or a new ruler. Smaller parties and gatherings were far more frequent, however, if only for the pleasure of them.”

“Oh...” She looked around the hall wide eyed. “Does your father sit on the throne when he’s at parties?”

Erik laughed, “Very much so. He despises dancing and socialising, so, he makes the throne his home.”

She was about to ask about his father some more when she remembered Sam’s hatred of him. She frowned.

“Princess?”

“Hmm? Oh, nothing...”

“You can tell me anything, you know, anything you wish.” He seemed genuinely concerned.

She shrugged. “Just… remembering what Sam said about your father. And how he said it. He really hates him.”

Erik nodded, a small frown crossing his face and a dark looking flickering through his eyes for a moment. “I see.”

“Do you hate him, too?”

“I… I do… Though truthfully I try not to think about it.” He looked troubled for a moment before his expression cleared. “But enough about him. Do you wish to see where I spent much of my time here?” There was a hint of playfulness about him again that intrigued her.

“Alright.” She smiled, also glad to move away from the topic of his father.

The room dissolved in a glittering vortex of red light again, quickly reforming into a corridor in the same style as the throne room, almost certainly a part of the same castle. They stood in front of one set of large closed double doors, to their left were five more rooms with single doors. To the right behind open double doors was the intersection of another corridor. 

“These six rooms belonged to my mother. Only immediate family and our own personal servants and guards were allowed here freely. Everyone else required an invitation.” He gestured to the double doors in front of them. “In here lies a small hall where I would practice music, dance and other skills appropriate to my station and heritage as an incubus. Mother and I would also host our own parties in here. As I grew older and more advanced in skill I would come to host some on my own, without her guidance.” 

With his free hand Erik pushed open one of the doors and she peered through eagerly. It was no where near the size of the main hall, but could still comfortably hold a good number of people. The décor was intricate and luxurious, red and gold being the main colours, contrasted by pale marble and lit by stained glass just like in the main hall. There were a number of musical instruments along each of the side walls, some she didn’t recognize but a few she did, including a very grand looking harp. The middle of the room was clear and level, presumably for dancing, while the outside of the room was slightly raised and padded, lined with many pillows and sheets. Directly opposite the door this padded space was raised further and decorated with curtains and drapes in a manor that made it almost resemble some kind of overly grand, over large bed. Scattered at strategic points along the outside of the room where small tables covered in bowls and platters of food, mostly fruit, and pitchers and goblets presumably full of some kind of drink.

In a word, it looked absolutely decadent.

“Wow...” She breathed, as she looked around the room, not yet daring to step over the threshold.

Erik chuckled. “It is a pleasant space, isn’t it?”

“That’s… one word for it.” She chuckled, wide eyed.

Tucking her hand under his arm he led her into what she was already dubbing the party room. As they stepped over the threshold soothing music began to play softly, echoing through the air, making her gasp and look around her. There was no one else there.

Erik smiled as he watched her. “Do you like the music?”

She nodded. “Is this the sort of music you’d usually have here?”

He chuckled, “Well, that would depend on the occasion and the mood of the guests. If I were aiming to relax however, I would arrange something like this, yes.”

Erik led her over to some cushions off to the side of the room, where he helped her sit before seating himself next to her. She marvelled at the soft silky luxury she found herself sinking into, giggling in delight. She flopped back, looking up at the beautiful stained glass above them.

Next to her, Erik rested his elbow on his knee, chin propped on his fingers. "I am glad you approve."

"Its like lying on clouds! Was it really like this or are you just exaggerating things since this is a dream?"

"I swear, there is no exaggeration here, this is as accurate to my memories as I can make it, dream or not."

"Wow... I wish they made beds and cushions and things like this in the human world..."

"Mmm... A small loss in the scale of things. The human world has many... delights, that the demon world does not."

She smiled, catching his flirtatious tone. She raised an eyebrow up at him. "You really don't have an off button, do you?" She teased.

He laughed, "Blame the location."

She snorted with a glance at the ‘bed’, "I figured that might have been a thing here..." She looked around the room again and decided to change the topic. "You said you like music... did you play any of them?" She motioned toward the array of instruments.

He nodded, "I dabbled in all of them, though the harpsichord was by far my favourite."

"Harpsichord?"

"Like a piano. The skills in playing them are fully transferable."

"Show me?"

He chuckled. "Ask me again when you are awake, though I dare say you will hear me play eventually, if we stay for much longer."

"Why not now?" She pouted.

He smiled and the music around them faded before something new started up, a gentle piano solo. He said, "Because here it is far too easy for me to cheat. If you really wish to hear me play, we need a real instrument for that."

"Oh, okay, that makes sense." She paused a moment, listening to the music, smiling. "You could really play this?"

"Yes."

"Wow..."

Erik smiled as he settled down to lay beside her among the cushions. "You flatter me..."

"No, it's good! Really good..." She smiled over to him as she enjoyed the music. "You are really talented!"

"I have had a lot of practice."

"Then it's paid off."

"I hope so…" He purred.

"Behave..." She chuckled.

"At least you find it amusing." He grinned.

Smiling as she lay among the cushions, she sighed happily. “I mean it you know, I would really like to hear you play some day. This is lovely...”

“Then I shall make certain to arrange something for you, princess.” He responded with a pleased smile.

“Thank you...”

“My pleasure.”

They were silent then, the sounds of soothing music drifting around them as she lost herself in it and the coloured lights above them, Erik smiling as he relaxed along side her.

Chapter Text

 As the sounds of the room reached her senses she stretched, smiling as she remembered her dream, the memory of music still pleasantly filling her head. Now that she had experienced that kind of dream with Erik before, the strangeness of it didn't hit her so hard this time and, not yet awake enough to feel embarrassed, she couldn't help but feel a little amused; Erik was beyond encourageable! She turned to face him with a sleepy mock glare.

"Good morning, princess!" He greeted her cheerfully from the same chair by her bed as before.

"You are ridiculous..." She teased.

Erik just chuckled.

“Oh?” Sam spoke up. She lifted her head from the pillow to see him leaning against the wall by the door.

She blinked over to him in surprise. “You watched over me again?”

He shrugged glancing away. “I’m not gonna let my guard down after just one day.”

“Oh, right...” It made sense. “Thank you.”

Sam nodded, looking back to her. “Welcome… So, what’s that about Erik being ridiculous?” He asked, sounding curious, amused, and more then a little suspicious.

Erik sighed, “Just some friendly banter, Sam...”

“…How friendly?”

Mika almost chuckled. Sam wasn’t quite so intimidating now she had seen him squirm, both when she had questioned him and when his brothers had teased him. Add to that that he really seemed to like her and she found herself starting to reciprocate the sentiment. His protectiveness was starting to grow on her too, in a comforting sort of way. 

She almost spoke up when Damien’s voice came from by the balcony, sounding a little exasperated, “Sam, relax…”

Mika’s humour died in a rush of embarrassment, his voice bringing her to to full wakefulness as she remembered their kiss. The kiss she started. The kiss she had pushed to continue even after he stopped it.

Her gaze was drawn over to him, her cheeks already heating up. It had been an incredible experience… But she hardly knew Damien. Her enjoyment of it clashed with social expectations trained into her from a young age, leaving her flustered.

"Er, hi, Damien..." Was all she could manage as she tried to cover her embarrassment and awkwardness. She suddenly found herself wishing for the dream with Erik again; everything was all so easy when she was there, but here, in the waking world, it was an entirely different story.

“Good morning.” He responded with a small smile, though his eyes were ever so slightly troubled.

Thinking back to the kiss she remembered how she had passed out and she couldn’t help but wonder if he had stopped when she had. She mentally assessed the state of her body as she tried to fight the anxiety sparked by her embarrassment that dredged up long ingrained social fears about men.

They haven’t done anything to me, they have had plenty of opportunity but they haven’t done anything... He would have noticed I passed out, I’m fine… She tried to reason with herself, taking a breath to try and steady herself.

Damien’s brow furrowed slightly. “Please don’t worry, I stopped as soon as you passed out.” There was the barest note of hurt in his voice, subtle enough that Mika wasn’t certain if she was imagining it.

As much as his words were clearly meant to reassure, and to some degree they did, the demonstration of his mindreading over something so personal jarred her. Suddenly feeling horribly exposed, part of her silently cursed his mindreading, then another part of her cursed herself for allowing herself to be bothered by it, remembering he could hear that.

“I...” She faltered, mentally scrambling to organise and gain control of her thoughts, not wanting to cause him unnecessary pain.

Damien’s frown deepened, sadness and regret in his eyes.

“Wait,” Sam said from by the door, frowning, “You thought he’d, what, take advantage after you passed out?” The disgust he felt at the notion was clear in his voice. She winced slightly; he seemed insulted.

“Wha, I-” She fumbled, sitting up, clutching the bed-cover to her despite the fact that she was still fully dressed from the day before. “It’s n-nothing, I’m sorry. I’m, I’m just being silly...”

Erik shook his head and said, tone soft yet serious, “It’s not silly to be concerned about something like that when you have barely begun to get to know us, but I swear, non of us would ever consider taking advantage of you like that, Mika, never. Least of all Damien.” His use of her name as opposed to ‘princess’ highlighted just how serious Erik was being, which only made her feel more ashamed for doubting Damien.

Nerves rattled, anxiety starting to affect her breathing, she ducked her head hugging her knees through the covers, unable to bring herself to look any of them in the eyes. “I’m sorry.”

Sam sighed heavily, “Look, we ain’t mad.” There was sadness and regret in his tone that almost made her look up, “Just… Take your time, okay?”

She nodded. I hate this, I hate this… I’m such an idiot…

Damien’s frown deepened slightly. 

“Well,” Sam said, pushing himself off the wall, “we’ll, er, leave you to get ready. Shout if you need anything, otherwise we’ll see you at breakfast, alright?”

“Okay… Thank you.” She mumbled.

“Agreed.” Erik said, standing as Sam opened the door and headed out first. “I’ll see you downstairs, princess.” Erik sounded a little more formal then he usually was, which made Mika’s heart sink.

Damien paused by the end of her bed as he made his way across her room. Now alone with him she could help but look up at him, feeling ashamed about her fears.

Looking guilty himself he said, “I’m sorry for speaking up earlier. I didn’t want you think, knowing that I can hear you, that I was avoiding the topic out of any kind of guilt. I promise, I stopped the moment I noticed you had passed out.”

She nodded, glancing down again. “I believe you.”

“Good… I’ll see you downstairs, okay?” He sounded relieved.

She nodded, glancing back up briefly with a small if weak smile, before glancing away again, fighting embarrassment.

After he had left and the door clicked closed she was still and silent for a long moment, just breathing and taking in what had happened.

She felt like a fool for letting her fears get the better of her, yet part of her reasoned that Erik was right; it was not unreasonable to be concerned over things like that when she barely knew them… Yet, the fact that Erik had pointed that out himself only seemed to argue in favour of the guys being trust worthy.

And then there was the matter of the kiss itself. Even thinking about it made her face heat up, both from embarrassment, shame and… lust.

She groaned, flopped backwards onto the pillow and burred her face under the covers. "Shit..."

Her mind tried to reason that everything was fine, but making out with a guy you barely knew wasn't generally considered acceptable behaviour in her social circles... Well, in her parent’s circles, at least. If anyone learned of this she hated to think how they might look at her. Naomi would be concerned she was sure, and Suzu… Well, Suzu was a ‘free spirit’ where things like this were concerned. That was a small ray of light in all this; perhaps she could talk to Suzu about this later, leaving out certain key details, of course.

However, Damien was someone she was house sharing with and even Suzu might raise an eyebrow at that. She couldn’t explain his need for energy to her friend without dragging Suzu down into this rabbit hole with her which was a daunting thought. Perhaps someday she could tell her friends but that wasn’t something she was ready for yet, not when she was still trying to get her head around it all herself.

Perhaps if I just leave out the house sharing part…?

Her face paled and she shrieked into her hands when she remembered… her grandfather’s spirit was still around. He had been there at least just before the kiss had started. How much had he seen?

Oh my god… Grandpa… What must he think of me…? She almost felt like crying. I’m sorry grandpa… I wanted to help him and I just got carried away, I’m sorry...

She jumped and yelped when the alarm on her phone suddenly went off nearby. Throwing the covers back she reached for where it was resting on the bedside table, though she didn't remember putting it there.

As she switched it off she cursed, heart thundering, as she remembered her plan to call in sick. That meant calling the school and her friends. Naomi and Suzu were probably already together by now, so she decided to call them first.

After taking a few moments to try and focus on the task at hand she took a breath and, stealing herself as best she could, she entered in her code and pulled up her contacts list. She typed out a text message;

‘Hay Suzu, Naomi, I’m not coming in today. I’m not feeling well. Hoping to be better tomorrow but I’ll let you know.’

She hit send and waited. Predictably, not some thirty seconds later, her ringtone blared out.

Answering it she said, honestly still a little groggy from sleep and shaky after the events of the morning, “Hay...”

“Yo Anderson, you got the plague or something? Since when do you call in sick?” Suzu. She sounded worried which made her feel guilty.

“I dunno… Just something I picked up at the party I guess. I spent most of yesterday asleep.” Which was true.

“Wow… do you need to see a doctor or something? We can drive you there.”

“No, it’s okay… I don’t think it’s quite as bad today. I hope it isn’t, anyway.”

“Hmm… Well, alright. We’ll stop by and check on you after school, okay?”

“You don’t have to.” She said with a wince, knowing Suzu probably wouldn’t take no for an answer. “The guys have been helping me out with food and stuff.” Also true. She heard Naomi ask about her in the background only to be shushed by Suzu.

“The guys? Oh the house-servants?” Suzu sounded a little dubious. “Well, that’s cool I guess, but I still wanna stop by and see for myself. Naomi does too.”

“You bet I do!” She heard Naomi call from nearby.

Cringing she tried one last tactic. “But what if you catch whatever this is, too?”

“Pft, ain't no bugs gonna down me. Besides, I wager stress has a lot to do with this. You were stretched thin as a wire at that so called party. That can’t be good for you.” She sounded disapproving as well as worried now, though she knew Suzu well enough to know exactly where that disapproval was directed.

Mika sighed. Suzu wasn’t exactly wrong there, energy drain aside. “I erm, well, just… ask Naomi to up her note taking game for me, okay? I’ll repay her with lunch or something, someday.” She didn’t like the idea of Naomi and Suzu visiting when there was a devil threat over the mansion but she honestly couldn’t think of any way to dissuade them from coming without worrying them even more, in which case Suzu, at least, would just visit sooner, possibly skipping school herself.

“Will do, chicka. We’ll be round about six with all the school work you could ever want, and more fun supplies, too.”

She faked a snort of laughter. “Yeah, alright. I’ll see you then...”

“You rest up. See you later, Anderson.”

“Bye.”

“Buh-bye.”

She sighed as she hung up, slumping back against the pillows with a frown. Her grandfather’s warning about devils being as close to true evil as it was possible to be rang in her head and fear for her friends ate at her. If the mansion was really being watched then she didn’t think anyone visiting would be safe.

As she tried to think of a way to keep her friends away without making them suspicious she found herself running around in circles as everything she came up with had equally dangerous potential consequences.

"Shit... Shit, shit, shit!" She cursed into the empty room.

Close to screaming and feeling far too stressed, she finally forced herself out of bed with a decision to ask the guys for help; she couldn’t think of anything else to do. 

After she had called the school and gotten ready to head downstairs, she hesitated at the door; She didn't know what she would face in the aftermath of that kiss. Erik had sounded amused at the start of the dream, though not in a way that had been cruel to her. The expectations she had grown up with made her wary however and embarrassment ate at her. She couldn't hide in her room forever though, that would be even more embarrassing.

She sighed and pushed the door open, trying to look more calm then she felt.

I can do this… She tried telling herself, hoping she would believe it.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Walking into the dining room she was still tense, worried, despite her attempts to calm herself down. She couldn’t help but remember how the guys had teased Sam before. Although part of her understood that that was only because he had shared their personal history without talking to them first, it still made her wonder if they would tease her too. She didn't know if she could cope with that.

Everyone bar James was already seated, who was putting the last plates down as she approached the table.

“Morning.” She greeted them all, trying to hide her nerves.

"Good morning, Miss." James said with a smile as Sam nodded to her.

"Princess." Erik was all charm as usual, as though nothing had happened earlier at all.

"Hay." Damien’s expression flickered into the barest soft smile though his eyes were watchful and she tried not to analyse that too much as she took her seat.

"Hay, Mika!" Matthew greeted her enthusiastically. "Sleep well?"

She nodded, glancing at Erik who gave her a quick smile, "Yeah, really well. Thanks."

After she had settled she couldn’t help the flare of embarrassment she felt in the company of the guys. Mika ducked her head, blushing a little as she tried to focus on her food, her mind unable to stop itself from running over everything that had happened. Her blush deepened when her mental replay reminded her of Erik’s offer to provide ‘distractions’...

"Miss, are you alright?" James' concerned voice cut through her thoughts.

She glanced up to realise that the guys were quiet, watching her subtly, though only James was openly looking at her.

"O-oh. Oh, um, yeah, I'm fine... I, I just have a lot on my mind, that's all." She answered truthfully, if unsteadily.

"Is there anything you wish to talk about?" He asked, kindly.

She couldn't help but glance at Damien quickly, then Erik. James' look became thoughtful. Eventually she shook herself and said, "No, I... Oh! Wait, there was one thing..."

"Yes?"

She took a breath, "I called in sick earlier but Suzu and Naomi want to come and check up on me, at six tonight and I couldn't think of a way to stop them without making them suspicious."

James frowned. "And you are worried about them being in danger if they come." The others grew concerned looks at this, too.

"Yeah..."

James nodded. "I see..." After a moment that dragged on far too long for her comfort he said. "Leave it with me, I believe I will be able to talk them out of coming without causing suspicion. I will just need to call them before they are due to arrive. At around half four, preferably."

She let out the breath she hadn't realised she had been holding. "Really!?" He nodded. "Thank you!" She hadn't realised what a weight that had been on her mind until it had been lifted and her shoulders sagged with her relief.

"You are very welcome." James smiled at her, though his next question made her tense again. "Was there anything else bothering you?"

His wording brought her blush back as she felt like she had been caught out. "No, nothing, thanks..." She lied, quickly turning back to her food, though not before her eyes flickered over Damien again for a split second.

Damien sighed as he stopped eating to look at her, apologetic, "Mika, I am sorry if what happened last night has made you uncomfortable. That is not something I would ever want."

Mika’s eyes widened, not expecting him to apologise like that. Torn between embarrassment at having the issue brought into the open like this, and guilt that he was feeling like he had to apologise to her, she opened her mouth to speak but but found herself tongue tied.

"Oh, is that what this is about?" Matthew spoke up then, looking between her and Damien. "Don't worry about it, really." He gave her a warm smile.

Erik was frowning as he observed the exchange. He said, sincerely, "I apologise as well if my behaviour in your dream this morning has upset you, too, princess."

“I, I...” Mika stuttered, not knowing how to take all the attention.

Sam narrowed his eyes and glanced at Damien. "What did he do?”

“You have to ask…?” Matthew shook his head.

“He was flirty, though it really was mostly banter.” Damien replied.

“I didn’t push.” Erik said, holding up a hand as though to ward off Sam.

Sam grunted and shot a warning glare at Erik before returning to his food.

"So, did anything in particular happen last night to upset you? Or this morning?" Matthew asked, sounding concerned. She froze, wide eyed. She had no way to answer that.

James had a thoughtful look and after a moment of hesitation said, carefully, "Unless I am mistaken, this is a cultural matter. The kiss itself, and Erik's flirting, is the issue."

"Oh..." Matthew said, cringing. "That."

“It’s fine.” She said at last, deeply uncomfortable and fighting to control her enunciation so she didn’t stutter, trying to appear calm. “Really.”

Despite her words, Damien seemed to sink in his seat slightly, which made her heart sink too; she didn't want him to feel bad over this, however awkward she felt now.

"Mika," Erik said with sincerity, "You really have nothing to be embarrassed about, truly. No one here would ever think ill towards you over anything like this, ever. You helped Damien with that kiss, and by extension, all of us. You have our gratitude." He took a breath, “And as for my, flirtations… If you are really that uncomfortable I will hold back, of course.”

He had a point about helping Damien, though she was both relieved yet disappointed and bothered by his offer to hold back, which she couldn’t bring herself to think about a that point. She nodded slightly.

Then, after a slight pause, Erik smirked, returning to his more usual demeanour. "The only one with anything to be embarrassed about is Damien, for losing track of your energy."

Damien blushed at that. "Sorry." He said to her, shyly.

“It’s okay.” She said automatically, though she had no idea if it really was or not.

"The main thing is, did you enjoy it?" Sam chimed in with a small smirk, then jerked his head towards Damien, "I know he did."

Mika blushed scarlet at that, looking to Damien with wide eyes before glancing away, having no idea how to respond to that, despite the answer that immediately sprang to mind; A definitive yes. There was no way she could bring herself to say that out loud however.

"Not helping, Sam." Damien chided him with an exasperated frown.

In a small spark of courage she asked, “This, this topic doesn’t bother you guys at all? I mean, Sam seemed a little, um,... yesterday...” She fumbled.

Sam's smirk vanished.

Erik and Matthew grinned while James shook his head with a sigh. Erik spoke up, "Sam is, shall we say, unusual, for an incubus."

"Flat out weird, you mean." Matthew smirked.

"Weeeell..."

"Yeah, fuck you two." Sam scowled.

"Aww, you know it's true!" Matthew grinned sweetly at him.

"Shut your trap, pipsqueak." Sam snipped back. "Like you're such a paragon of an incubus."

"Oh, I dunno, I reckon I could have a good run at that title!" Matthew flexed his arms, a display utterly lost in his baggy hoody, making Mika's lips twitch in a small amused smile. James' gaze was thoughtful as he watched their exchange.

Matthew turned back to her and smiled, chuckling. "Aaaanyway, to get back to the point, as long as he isn't in the spot light, even Sam isn't all that bothered about the topic of kissing, sex, or whatever."

Sam snorted. 

"I mean," Matthew continued. "We are incubi, after all. Like, yeah okay it can feel awkward if other people are awkward and embarrassed, no one likes that… but otherwise we’re pretty open about all this. We need it to live, after all, or at least to not be weak. Getting worked up about this would kinda be like getting embarrassed about talking about food.” He paused then made a face, as did James and Damien. Sam and Erik smirked. “Okay, okay, maybe not the best comparison, I mean, I’m not comparing that to food or anything. Relations aren’t, and people aren’t- I mean, I’ve never thought about people like, erm...” He froze.

Damien chuckled. “You might want to stop digging, Matthew, before you hit bedrock...” He said in an almost sing-song voice, amused.

Matthew gave an embarrassed laugh. “Hehe, erm… Well, er, you get the idea...” He trailed off with a blush that made Mika giggle a little.

So much for not getting embarrassed…

Sam sniggered, “Smooth, Matthew. Real smooth...”

“Yes, because everyone likes getting compared to bacon and eggs.” Erik waved his fork at his plate as Matthew blushed brighter. Amused, Erik teased, “Maybe you should use a line like that next time we go clubbing.” Sam and Damien sniggered. Mika smirked despite her awkwardness, missing the way James watched her subtly, a look of consideration on his face.

Matthew groaned, head falling forward to bump the table next to his plate. “Here we go...” He whined, miserably, while Mika chuckled. James' expression became calculating as he looked between her and his brothers.

Grinning mischievously, Sam turned to Erik, “Hay, that sounds like a good idea. You’re the king of cheesy lines,-” Matthew groaned. “got any ideas?”

“For lines that Matthew could use?” Erik hummed in in mock consideration. “Hmm… What about... Your eyes shine like the glaze on candied apples and your lips are as rich as cranberry sauce.”

Laughter rose around the table with even Mika joining in a little, while Matthew moaned, “Please, no...”

“Not bad.” James chuckled with a note of playful sarcasm as he turned to more fully face Erik, “Though it could use a little work...”

Grinning widely, Erik shot back, “Well, James, you should think of something, then!”

“I can do that…” There was something oddly pointed about the way James looked at Erik. He glanced around the table, his eyes pausing on Mika for just a moment.

“My dear,” He began, in mock seriousness, “you remind me of that carbonara I had last week; elegant in your execution and so very timely.” As he finished with a glance back at Erik there was a look of playful challenge in his expression.

Sam groaned and chuckled, while Damien shook his head as he grinned.

Erik tapped his chin, an amused yet knowing look in his eyes as he regarded his brother. “Mmm. I see…” He smirked. “Very well. I think I can top that.”

“Wait, what?” Matthew sat up again, wide eyed. “You two are turning this into a competition!?”

“You’re kidding!” Mika looked between the two of them, disbelieving.

“Seriously?!” Sam chuckled.

“Seriously.” Damien grinned.

Elbow on the table, Erik propped his chin on his fingers. “Hmm… Lets try… A taste of you to bring me to my knees, as my tongue worships upon your tenderness. The finest sauce, the most heady aroma, tantalising my palette, whetting my appetite in a way only you, delicious, may sate.”

“Oh my god…!” Mika laughed, hiding her face in her hands, peering between her fingers to look between James and Erik with wide eyes and face burning.

Sam, Matthew and Damien where all starting to laugh too, looking very amused.

“My turn, then.” James grinned. “… You are a feast for my senses, beautifully presented. Your fruity aroma and delicate textures are well dressed and heated to perfection.” For all the humour in his expression, James’ voice was silk.

Sam burred his face in his hands, groaning as he laughed. “Is this a competition to be the best or the worst?”

Matthew shook his head, sniggering, “Or the most ridiculous?”

Damien was shaking with quiet laughter.

Mika still hid behind her hands, blushing as she laughed, too.

Dear God what have I let myself in for...?!

Erik chuckled. “Hmm, very elegant…” He teased. “Now then. Darling, you are the perfect dessert; sweet yet refreshing, and smooth to the touch. You make my tongue tingle with your tartness, though you are at your very best with added cream.” He finished with a saucy wink. Everyone laughed.

“Erik!!” Mika shrieked into her hands, ducking her head as she shook with shocked laughter.

“Trust you to think of something like that!” Damien laughed.

James chuckled, “Jumping to dessert so soon?”

“Why not? Go ahead...” Erik grinned with a playful glint in his eyes.

Shaking slightly with laughter, James shook his head and sighed. “Hmm… Oh you of rare delights, wont you stay a while that I may take my time to savour you as a connoisseur. Such delicate construction is worthy of only the most careful consideration and I would devote all the time you require to do justice to your fine platter.”

“Your fine what??” Matthew exclaimed as he laughed.

James shrugged as he smirked, taking in the laughter of the rest of the table with a hint of satisfaction.

Mika was laughing hard by this point, lowering one of her hands to lean on the table.

Erik’s shoulders trembled. “My turn? Hows this? My scrumptious, I salivate at the sight of your… juicy thighs. And my body hungers for your… tender sides. Your eyes make me melt, wont you let me coat you, like butter on corn.”

“Oh. My. God!” Mika gasped out as she laughed. Sam was doubled over, slowly sliding off his chair.

“I don’t know weather to call that one brilliant or awful!” Damien laughed, eyes wide.

“Step it up, James!” Matthew said, “Or Erik’s gonna claim this one!”

“Your turn.” Erik waved a hand at James, grinning hugely.

James smirked. “Very well… If I could pick a favourite restaurant, I would choose you. Your hair like fine spun pasta, the skin of your neck like the smoothest peach that I just want to nibble on. Oh wont you let me kiss your lips, the ripest of strawberries, and run my hands across your tender loins.-” Sam started crying with laughter at that point. James continued, “Then, if it would please you, would you privilege me by showing me your oyster.” He finished with a soft purr.

Mika gapped at that last line, blushing hard, as James’ brothers roared with laughter.

Gasping, Sam cried out, “Stop…! … Air! Stop…!” as he began to sink under the table.

“Dear god, James…!” Matthew laughed, clutching his sides. “You win already! Stop! Please!”

Damien shook his head and gestured vaguely at Erik, leaning heavily against the table as he laughed.

“Sam! Vote!” Matthew looked to Sam, who just shook his head as he bawled. He turned to Mika. “Hows about you?”

Looking between James and Erik as they and Matthew looked to her, she elected to follow Sam’s lead and shook her head, still blushing furiously and hiding behind one hand.

“We have a draw!” Matthew announced. “No final round though, please!”

“Agreed!” James laughed as he looked to Erik, who gave a small mock bow, a small satisfied smirk on his lips, which James reciprocated.

“By the way,” Matthew said, “I don’t care how much any of you pay me, I am never, ever repeating any of those lines!”

“Aww,” Erik mock pouted. “But those are for you! Made by the very best craftsmen this side of Chicago!”

“With only the freshest ingredients.” James smirked, sparking more laughter from Mika, to which James only smiled wider.

Matthew shook his head. “I don’t care if they are drizzled in honey and topped with whipped cream with a cherry on top, no fucking way. I ain’t touching it, I ain’t licking it and I sure as hell don’t wanna use them to make me a banana split!”

Matthew!” Mika exclaimed loudly in surprise as the brothers as a whole erupted in fresh laughter, Matthew grinning hugely. Sam lost it completely at that and finally slid from his chair till only his hair and hand where he clutched the table were visible.

Damien peered down at him, red faced from laughter, sprawled ungracefully in his chair. “B-breathe Sam…!”

From under the table there was a quiet, breathless, “… Holy fuck...”

One arm clutching at her abdomen, the other supporting her on the table, no longer hiding behind her hands, Mika was crying with laughter, both at James, Erik and Matthew’s silly lines, and Sam’s utter loss of composure. She leaned forward until her head touched the table, gasping.

Life with incubi… She thought giddily to herself. So not what I would have expected…!

After everyone had calmed down, Mika found herself far more relaxed as she bit down giggles as she replayed James and Erik's silly competition. Breakfast was not as quick as it might have been as for a few minutes she wasn't the only one fighting repeating laughter after what happened and seeing all of the guys being so silly, even the normally reserved James and quiet Damien, did wonders for helping to calm her nerves.

Trying to focus on finishing the last of her breakfast and finally feeling relatively at ease, unable to help her small smile, she didn't notice the pleased glance James and Erik shared.

The more she calmed the more her curiosity came creeping back and she found herself glancing at Damien, Erik and Sam more often. She couldn't help but replay Damien’s kiss in her mind, which sparked her curiosity about the offers she had received from Sam and Erik like nothing else. Despite having received no such offer from Damien, her eyes still kept straying to him, stuck on that kiss.

Who am I kidding, that was more then 'just' a kiss. She sighed and shook her head. That was... Magical.

She missed the way Damien’s eyes flickered over to her briefly, a curious, pleased look in them.

After everyone had finished breakfast the guys went over their plan for the day. With the extra energy Damien had gained from her and then shared with his brothers, they wanted to reinforce the spell on the mansion and place a weaker version on the grounds around it. On top of that they wanted to train, mostly in close combat, then plan out further options at the end of the day. When she asked if they used magic in combat they said they did, but to save energy wouldn't train with it this time.

The first thing they decided to do was lay the magical protections on the house and grounds which would need Erik and James to work the spells, and Sam for his speed to pull the other two out of danger in case of an attack. Given the devil's shown preference for guns, and that the boys wouldn't be straying far outside, Damien's mind reading was unlikely to be of use in hearing incoming threats, and Matthew's combat range was surpassed by James which meant he wouldn't be necessary in a shoot off.

When she heard that she turned to Damien shyly, "Um, Damien...?"

"Yes?" He responded. Though he seemed calm as always she was certain she heard a thread of anxiousness in his voice, which bothered her.

"Would you, um...” She took a breath, steadying herself, “Would you relay messages for me, from grandpa?" Her gut churned with shame and dread as to what her grandfather might say in the wake of her kiss with Damien, but she wasn't about to walk away from the opportunity Damien was giving her to talk to him because of it.

"Oh, of course." He smiled.

"Well," James said, "It looks like we are all set for about three hours. Matthew, keep an eye on the map for us."

"Yeah, I planned to stay camped by it anyway while I work on traps and things. I'll signal if any more start to close in on us."

"Map?" She asked.

James answered, "Just a divination spell we set up yesterday to track the locations of nearby hell-born activity, both devils and their magic."

She nodded. She almost asked what the map had shown but she had a bad idea she already knew after what Matthew had just said. Instead she said, "Oh, cool, that's useful... Um, James?"

"Yes?"

"This magic you guys are planning, its not going to be obvious that you are really doing magic, right? So if anyone happened to see, they wouldn't know?"

"No, it should be entirely discreet. Working out how to do this without any noticeable trace, as far as humans are concerned, is largely the reason why we didn't do this yesterday."

"Ahh, that's good. Well, um, good luck."

"Thank you."

And with that, James, Erik and Sam left the dining room to work outside, while Matthew headed into the lobby.

Damien stepped over to her. She thought he looked a little hesitant, though he smiled slightly.

She smiled back at him, trying to push past any remaining awkwardness. "Hay, um, thanks, for being an intermediary for me."

"You’re welcome." He said. "Was there anything you wanted to ask him now?"

The first thing that came to mind was to say sorry to him for letting that kiss get out of hand as she worried over what her grandfather might think, but as much as she wanted to get that over with, she couldn't bring herself to say it. Instead, she just asked, "What does he recommend I do now? I don't know anything about all this, after all."

"... He recommends that you read his books in the study, it would be easier and quicker then relying information like this."

She nodded. "Do you know where that is?"

Damien nodded with a small smile. "Yes, I found it yesterday. I explored the house a little when you were too deeply asleep to dream. I kind of like it, its a nice room."

"Oh... Well, lead on." She nodded to him.

Damien nodded back and began to lead them out of the dining room, watching her as they went.

Chapter Text

 

Mika followed Damien as he led her to the study, however they had only just reached the lobby when Damien said, “Your grandfather wants you to know, he wasn’t there when we kissed.”

She froze in spot, wide eyed, and Damien turned to look at her.

He continued. “He says, he left when you made the decision to help me, so you wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable when this topic came up now.”

Oh...” She squeaked.

“He wants you to know that, as long as you are happy with whatever happens, then he is happy for you, too.”

“I… I...” There was a clear implication there, and she wasn't sure what to make of it.

Damien gave a small smile and said, "He says, 'I was young once, too, hun. All I want is for you to be happy. I trust the boys will respect your boundaries and not cross any line you lay down for them, whatever those lines may be. More then that, I trust you to make your own choices, Mika.'" 

"I... Th-thank you, grandpa..." She was somewhat reassured; it fit how her grandfather had always spoke about what he wanted for her and her life. She still felt incredibly awkward though.

As Mika and Damien began to head upstairs towards the study, a curiosity nagged at her that she wanted to turn away from given the implications but, like watching a train wreck, couldn't help but look. She asked, “Damien... Did grandpa know any demons like you guys before he met you? Incubi or Succubi?”

“He says an incubus and succubus couple were two of his best friends. They helped mentor him in magic, too.”

“Oh, wow…" She wasn't sure how to feel about that at that particular moment. "How did grandpa meet them?” She asked unable to help herself.

“… The succubus tried to seduce him for energy at a bar, but, since your grandfather was already familiar with magic and exclusive with his wife, he called her on her enthralment." Mika almost let out a breath at that. Morbid curiosity be damned, she did not want to associate her grandfather with bedroom activities. Damien continued, "After that they started talking, she introduced your grandfather and grandmother to her husband, and the four became good friends after that. They lived here with your grandfather and grandmother towards the end of their lives, until they passed away about nineteen years ago.”

“Oh... They were old when they met grandpa, then?” She asked sadly, distracted from her more disturbed thoughts.

"Yes... It was the succubus' wish to experience the human world for herself before she died, so, the couple came here together."

"That's so sweet..."

Damien brought them to a stop outside a door and pushed it open.

"This is it?" She asked.

"Yes."

Walking inside she looked over the study. A large bookshelf lined one wall, while opposite it cupboards sat below the windows. Between them there was a desk with a chair. Walking over to the shelves she smiled at the pictures of her from when she was younger, trailing her fingers over the surfaces.

Damien stepped over to a draw and pulled it open. “Here is his laptop.”

“Hm? Oh, thank you.”

Setting the laptop on the desk, she opened it and was surprised to see it used a retina scanner as a lock. That was high tech and not what she would have expected. She frowned. It shouldn’t work for her… but her grandfather wouldn’t have said to use it if that were true. She glanced over to where Damien stood nearby, watching curiously.

“This is the right laptop?” She asked.

He nodded.

“Huh… Okay...” Not having anything to loose, she put her eye to the device.

It worked. There was a ping and the laptop went to its desktop, showing folders and files for things related to the toy company.

She blinked at it. “Huh. Must be magic. That shouldn’t have worked for me otherwise.”

Damien shrugged, glanced to his side briefly, then said. “It is.”

“Cool...” Going over the file names she frowned at all the toy company related titles and was about to ask for help when she spotted a word she didn’t recognise.

“Vorago?”

She clicked it and jumped in her seat at the sound of a draw unlocking across the room.

“What the hell…?”

Walking over to it, she tried the draw that had made the noise; it opened smoothly. Inside were just two books, one a simple plain black journal, the other a leather bound book covered in symbols she didn’t recognise.

“Oh…! Hay, I think this is them.”

She removed the books from the draw, leaving it open as she was not sure what would happen if she closed it at this point, and sat down at the desk. Damien watched from a respectful distance.

She frowned as she looked at the books in front of her then glanced towards Damien; She might be reading for hours before finding something to talk to Damien or her grandfather about, which would be a long time for him to just stand there.

“Erm, you wanna go get a chair or something?” She asked hesitantly. “I just don't know how long I will be reading and I can always write down any questions I have...”

He shook his head. “I would like to stay, and I don't need a chair... It's up to you, though. I can go if you want to read alone.”

As she looked at him a part of her did want him to go, both because of her discomfort after that kiss and because a part of her, a dark part of her, resented his mindreading ability, the lack of privacy. That thought had barely registered before she saw him glance away, pain flickering over his face briefly before blank neutrality fell over him.

“Stay.” She blurted, decision made in an instant. Damien looked at her in surprise. Taking a steadying breath she smiled timidly at him. “I want to get used to you being around, and, and I need to stop being so, so silly about what happened last night. That’s kinda easier to do if we spend time together.”

A relieved and grateful smile bloomed over his face briefly before settling into the increasingly familiar soft warmth she was starting to associate with him. “I'd like that, thank you.”

She couldn’t help but smile widely back a him.

Those smiles of his are so worth it. She thought to herself. When his look turned coy she startled and ducked her head, blushing. She gave an embarrassed laugh at the reminder of the same thing happening before the party. I suppose there are worse things to get caught out on… and he doesn’t seem to mind…

She glanced up at him shyly, face getting redder as she remembered he could hear her inner dialogue. All of it. “I-I, er...” She stammered, the sense of being exposed catching her out again.

He was watching her with a small smile and the faintest blush on his cheeks. “I don’t mind, no… And, I think you are beautiful, too.” He said, softly.

She ducked her head again, heart pounding, surprised. Is he flirting with me?? Is he serious?? After a long moment of mentally floundering over how to respond she simply murmured, “T-thank you...” As the silence stretched on, she said eventually, trying to clear the air, “So, um, reading! Research! Right, hehe…”

She turned to the two books in front of her, feeling incredibly awkward and needing to focus on something else. In the corner of her eye she saw Damien shift before settling into that unassuming stance of his that seemed to let him just blend into the proverbial wallpaper.

Flipping through the pages of the journal she skimmed over the contents quickly, finding information about different kinds of magic, spells and rituals, and many magical entities, mostly demons. It was the parts on demons in particular that she began to pay real attention to, though she made a note to come back to ‘the fundamentals of magic’ later.

Demons, according to the journal, were beings made and born of magic. Although most demons had physical bodies, those bodies were infused with and at least partly formed by magic, making them highly susceptible to it and its laws. This was contrary to humans who could live entirely independently from magic and were not bound by the laws of magic in their day to day lives. One example of the magical laws that affected demons was in the case of powerful emotions, such as true love; love in magic was a binding but nurturing force that required at least one other anchor point to be stable. Thus a demon in love would initiate a binding spell, known as heart binding, with their loved one to stabilise the magic of love within them. True hatred, the opposite of love, was a destructive repelling force so strong that demons were incapable of feeling it without due cause, unless they were in the grip of madness. Hate and madness were two of very few forces that could shatter or prevent a heart binding.

Mika sat back in her seat with a quick glance at Damien before cradling her head in her hands.

Sam’s words about how quickly demons developed the core of their relationships rang in her head. He said that included love but this read like the kind of epic love found in stories. That made her head spin.

She mentally shook herself as she leaned on the desk again to resume her reading, dismissing the notion. I'm getting too worked up over this, they'd never love me so it isn't an issue.

She fought to ignore the way Damien shifted where he stood.

If he wants to say something, he will. She told herself. This is fine, I have to get used to this… She flexed her shoulders a little as she started to read again, fighting the sensation of being under too much scrutiny.

Remembering that the guys were all heart bound together, Mika grew curious as to the implications of that for them and decided to followed a page note to a section on heart binding.

The book stated that heart binding happened with both familial and romantic love, though familial heart binding was not limited to a demon's birth family and sometimes happened with close friends. According to the book, heart binding outside of a demon's birth family was rare, either romantic or familial, as demons do not love easily. A human comparison would be true love and love at first sight; For demons, love was all or nothing.

According to the notes, as well as being either romantic or familial, heart binding could also be mutual or one sided. While all heart bindings could be strengthened - drawing the heart, mind and magic of the bound demon closer to their beloved - or weakened, a demon in a one sided binding had no control over this as all the power rested with the one who held their binding. In familial bindings, a one sided binding – most often a child bound to their parent - would fizzle out over time without a need to re-forge it, freeing the bound demon, even if they still felt something for their family member. Romantic bindings, however, were enduring even if one sided. Romantic one sided bindings also differed from their mutual and familial counterparts in that a demon could only be bound to one person in that way at once, due to the power held over them. In mutual bindings of both types, strengthening the binding was something that had to be agreed upon by both parties, though either demon could weaken it without the agreement of the other.

“Damien?” Mika asked softly, curious and concerned. Are any of them in a one sided binding...?

“Hm?”

“Just reading about heart binding now… its… Interesting.” After a moment she asked, “I know you and your brothers are all heart bound together, but, are any of you bound to anyone else? Like your parents? Or romantic partners?”

Damien paused, considering, then said quietly with touch of hesitancy and sadness, “We've all had a binding with our mothers.” The pause and his tone made her curious but she decided not to peruse it. “None of us are bound to anyone else, though.”

“… Mothers? You have different mothers??” She asked, chasing the most obvious question.

“Yes. We are all half brothers. We each have a different mother.”

“Oh… Is that normal?”

“No, not really… Its is far more common to have different fathers then different mothers, particularly in noble families.”

“… Why?” She blinked up at him. Polyamory is normal for them, then? Or at least, not rare?

“Because males slightly outnumber females in the demon world, as a side effect of demon inheritance. Our father was a brute demon, but our mothers were all succubi. Among demons, sons usually take after their mothers, while daughters normally inherit after their fathers. Succubi, who are prevalent among the nobility, have control over their reproduction, even to the point of having some control over the sex of their children. A succubus in a political marriage to a demon she does not care for is far more likely to birth sons to carry on her line, then daughters to carry on her husband’s. Other demons may use magic for the same effect, too.

“Huh...”

“On top of that, it’s potentially dangerous for a female demon if her husband’s attention is divided among other wives, so more then one wife in a family is not normal.”

“Oh? How come?”

“Demon children put a great demand on their mother in terms of their energy use. Females frequently have to rely on their mates for help before their child is born.”

“And if her mate’s attention is divided he might not be able to give it, particularly if there is more then one pregnancy at once.” She concluded, fascinated.

“Exactly, yes...”

“And… if she can’t get help?”

“If her energy runs out, the baby would kill her.”

“Oh, wow, shit… So if there is more then one wife in a family anyway, do they hire extra help or something?”

“Usually there isn’t more then one. Female demons are very prone to jealousy, so they have to get along extremely well to tolerate each other in a family like that. Our father's wives... did not get along. He married each of them out of greed and pride, without giving his previous wives a say. It backfired on him eventually.”

“What happened?”

“They started fighting. To stop it, he turned his wives into spirit orbs.”

What? Why?” She asked, shocked.

“It was a way to force them stay and raise their sons without them being able to fight. As orbs they have no powers of their own to use against each other. Or him.”

“That’s terrible...” She frowned, disturbed at the harshness of it all. Damien nodded. After a moment she asked. “So its not so bad if there are multiple husbands?”

“In general, no, though it depends on if they get along. Because females are more scarce across the demon world, males will sometimes fight fiercely to earn them if they feel the need to.”

“That makes sense...” After a moment she said, “If you all take after your mothers, do you have any sisters?”

“No.”

“Why? Didn't your father want daughters to continue his line?”

“Not him. He has no love for his own kind, why I don’t know. He is also power mad and wanted to secure his legacy through demons of Lilith, as our kind holds the highest innate status in demon hierarchy. Brute demons on the other hand have almost no innate status in the demon world, they are commoners, or less.”

“Huh… Demons of Lilith?”

“Oh, succubi and incubi.”

“Oh, right… So it was a political move then, huh?”

“Hm.” He nodded.

After a moment of silence she smiled and said, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He seemed pleased to have helped.

Just as she turned back to the journal she froze. “Wait, you aren’t going to get in trouble for telling me all that, are you?” She asked, turning back to him with a worried look, remembering the teasing Sam received the other night.

Damien shook his head, smiling. “No. You already knew enough that all this makes no real difference.” He grew a slightly mischievous look then. “Besides, unless either of us tells them, how would they know...?” He joked.

“Damien!” She barked in surprise, unable to help a slight laugh.

Damien chuckled.

Shaking her head, unable to help her amused smile, she turned back to the book.

Inspired by everything they had spoken about she skipped ahead, suddenly curious about demons of Lilith. She skimmed through page after page until she got to a section talking about specific demon types.

According to the book, demons of Lilith were very human like in appearance, only with horns and markings on their skin, which was a solid wash of colour on their legs and forearms and formed stripes on their torso. The colour of those markings and the shape of their horns were family traits which varied only slightly down the generations, while the pattern of their stripes was unique to each demon.

She blinked at that and couldn’t help but glance across at Damien where he stood near by. He looked uncomfortable.

“Sooo...” She said when he didn’t say anything. “How come you look human?”

“It’s a glamour spell.” He said simply.

“Oh...” She looked at him fully then, tilting her head, curious. “Can you show me how you really look?”

He frowned slightly, glancing away. “I would rather not.” At her disappointed expression he added, uncomfortably, “Perhaps some other time.”

“Oh. Okay...” She nodded looking away. She hadn’t missed the reluctance in his voice and fought to bury her remaining disappointment.

He sighed after a moment. “I would rather you get to know me like this, as I am now, before you see me like that. If… if you ever do.” He said, causing her to look back at him. He looked sad, and still uncomfortable.

“Oh… oh, right. Yeah, we can do that.” She smiled, wanting to reassure him in the face of that sadness.

He nodded back to her with a small quick smile, his sadness vanishing from his face too quickly. “Thank you.”

She sighed turning back to the book, pushing her curiosity to one side for the moment.

Perhaps one of the others will be more okay with showing me later? It really doesn’t sound all that bad… The horns sound interesting…

Just as she was settling back into the journal he said, reluctantly, “Its not that it is… bad… I just want to stay like this, as a human.”

She blinked as he answered her thoughts and took a breath, trying not to squirm uncomfortably for his sake. “Oh...” She looked back over to him. “Why?”

His look was conflicted. “I just like it. Humans are… better then demons.”

“… You want to be human?” The realization struck her suddenly, though it confused her. Why…?

Shame and wistfulness coloured his expression and voice as he nodded. “More then anything. I don’t just mean in looks. Everything.” He looked down at his hands, as though seeing something she couldn’t. As though in answer to her unasked question he said, “Humans don’t read minds. Humans don’t hurt people the way demons do… I want to learn things, go places and not have to be bound by magic all the time… Like a human.”

She stared, heartbroken for him. She didn’t miss the fact that mindreading had been top of his list of things he hated about being a demon. She redoubled on her oath to push though her difficulties with his ability; it was the only thing she could think to do to help. I will do this, I will…!

Damien sighed as he looked at her, sadness vanishing from his expression into something warm, something…

She looked away, heart thundering all of a sudden.

“Thank you...” He whispered.

Her eyes flickered back up to him but his expression has changed back to that more usual warm softness. “You’re welcome.” She said with a small smile before turning back to the book awkwardly and resumed where she left off.

Turning back to the notes on Demons of Lilith, the book agreed with what Damien had said about them being top of the peaking order in the demon world, with succubi out ranking incubi due to the usually matriarchal nature of demons – although a demon’s linage, family, and individual power and rank also played heavily into a demon’s over all status. Her grandfathers notes also correlated with what the guys had initially told her about their nature as Incubi; They were, strictly speaking, pleasure demons rather then simply sex demons. Sex just happened to be, by far, the most bountiful source of pleasure energy, so, consequently they were noted to be… lusty. The entry on Demons of Lilith also described them as adaptable, highly empathic, very sociable, and very tactile in their affections.

“Tactile, huh?” She hadn’t noticed that, nothing more then what you would find with humans anyway. She glanced at Damien, at first considering asking about that point but, remembering his wish to be human, thought better of it and turned back to the book with a small frown.

Perhaps I can talk to one of the others about this later…

Damien spoke up then, “What is it?”

“Oh! Er, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” She cringed slightly.

“If you want to ask me something, please do. I will answer any questions you want as best I can.”

“I… I don’t want to bother you...” If he wants to be human, it didn’t seem fair to remind him by asking him...

He had that look in his eyes again and she turned back to the book with a blush.

“Thank you,” He said with that small kind smile, “but it’s not a bother. I may not like it but I am a demon and you are trying to learn about us. I want to help you, too.”

She almost wanted to protest, but faced with his gentle determination, she let it go and smiled. “Thank you...”

He nodded. “You’re welcome. What did you want to know?”

“Well, er, what do you think think about this?” She pointed to the section of the journal in question. “You guys have seemed very, well, human to me in this regards… Why was this noted?”

Damien didn’t step closer to read what she was pointing at as she expected him to, instead he seemed a little uncomfortable. “Your grandfather says everything in that section was either from his own experiences or things that he was told by demons.”

“Oh… Then, how come you guys have been so, um, normal, I guess?” She asked bluntly.

Damien’s gaze flickered away for a moment and just when she was starting to regret asking he said, still uncomfortable, “What does it say?”

She frowned slightly turning back to the book, “Er, um, it’s just describing characteristics of Demons Of Lilith. It notes that they- erm, you guys, are ‘particularly tactile when showing affection to close friends, loved ones and family, as well as in more causal socialising among their own kind. Demons of Lilith also use touch as a means of interaction through transmitted emotions’.”

“Oh, I see.” He nodded with a small frown. “Yes, I would call that accurate. We have been mimicking human body language and behaviour since we have been in the human world, according to what part of the world we are in. When we were in the demon world we were a little different…” He added almost reluctantly, “Here, when we are alone, we are sometimes like that, still...”

“Oh...” That made her frown. So, they have been holding back...? The only comparison she could think of was if she were made to hold back from being friendly with Suzu and Naomi, or her mom, or her grandfather when he had been alive. It felt cold, lonely... She didn’t like it. “You don’t have to hold back like that,” She said after few moments of thought, “not around me anyway.”

“It’s alright. I’m happy like this.” He replied, simply.

“But… I…” She couldn’t shake the comparison in her mind and how lonely that felt.

Damien watched her, warmly. “I like how humans do things. It’s fine.”

She looked down as she thought, still uncertain. An idea struck her, inspired by something he said. A compromise. “You know… Different cultures around the human world show different levels of physical affection with people. And, even within individual families things can be very different...” She looked back up at him then and the look on his face, the same one from before, made her pause. She would almost call it loving. Having a word for that look only made her blush harder as she looked away again.

No way… A dark part of her mind whispered. Never…

“Mika...” There was a subtle undercurrent of intensity to his voice, a passion that made her heart beat quicker.

Flustered, she scrambled for her previous line of thought and ran with it. “M-My family isn’t very, um, tactile. But, Suzu’s family are the most physically affectionate people I have ever met! And I… I kinda like how they do things, more then how my family does things, to be honest. So, er, if you… If there is anything you want to express, like hugs and hand holding and things, that’s, that’s okay.” She peeked back up at him, shyly.

“I…” He looked thoughtful for a moment, hesitant. “If you want to, if it isn’t too soon...”

“Huh?” She asked, mildly surprised. He wants that kind of interaction with me?

A look of realisation flashed over Damien’s face. “Oh. Oh, I… never mind.” He gave an embarrassed chuckle, looking away.

She frowned then internally cursed, cringing when she realised what exactly he was reacting to. She took a breath, forcing herself to relax. “No, tell me, what is it? You never know until you ask, right?" 

Damien hesitated, looking shy all of a sudden, which she found very endearing. “Okay… Well I… I like it when people stroke my hair… May I…” He paused then cleared his throat. Hesitantly he tried again. “May I sit next to you while you read?” He was blushing slightly, looking uncertain of himself.

“...Oh!” She stared at him wide eyed. His request made her blush too, though she couldn’t help but smile; it was such a cute and innocent request. “O-Okay...” She stammered, then said more firmly, wanting to reassure him, “Th-That’s fine! Naomi loves having her hair bushed and, and I have sometimes pet Suzu’s hair while we watch TV. And, I have read to Suzu’s little brother like that too, so that’s fine!”

She almost cringed, thinking she was talking too much, but Damien brightened and asked, “You read to people?”

“I, er, sometimes?" She replied, a little confused at the change in topic, "Suzu has a pretty big family and she is the oldest, so, sometimes I help out, play with the younger kids, read to them and stuff. One of her brothers likes to rest his head on my lap while I read or try to help teach him to read. He’s really cute, hehe.”

Damien nodded, shame and hopefulness warring over his features. “You teach reading?”

“I… I help...” Looking at him, the look on his face, she couldn’t help but reach a conclusion that made her heart ache. “Damien, can you read?”

He shook his head. “No… In the demon world only higher nobles are permitted to read. We don’t have schools, our only education comes from experience or verbal mentoring.”

“Wait, aren’t you guys all nobility? Sam said...” She frowned as she trailed off; Sam hadn’t mentioned that Damien was a ‘spare’ for James, something that had niggled at her at the time.

Damien said as he watched her, “The social status a demon is born to in the demon world usually follows the mother. James, Erik, Sam and Matthew all had noble mothers who are now queens. My mother was not a noble and is not a queen.” There was a sadness in his voice, an ache that hurt to hear.

“I’m sorry...”

“It’s alright.”

She glanced away for a moment, then reaching a decision looked back up at him. “When... When everything has settled down and, and Malix isn’t a problem anymore… If you guys are still around, I, I’d be happy to help teach you, I mean, if you want to learn...”

Damien had gone wide eyed, his look almost disbelieving, "I, I do...! You’d really do that for me??” She nodded, smiling, and he beamed brightly, “I’d like that! Thank you!”

She blushed at his enthusiasm, his gratitude. “Okay. We’ll do that, then...” After a moment she glanced down and asked, “Er, did you still want to, to sit by me while I read?”

“I do! Yes, please...” The rush of warmth in his voice made her blush darken as she smiled shyly at him.

Damien stepped close to her, some of his enthusiasm fading into hesitancy, before he knelt and shuffling across until he was sat right by the side of her chair, facing forward, his proximity making her heart beat harder. He looked up at her, a little cautiously, searchingly, and she nodded and smiled. He smiled back before facing forward again and carefully leaning to the side so his head rested lightly just above her knee, one of his hands coming to rest at her ankle. The touch of his hand on her skin made a slight shiver run through her as she remembered their kiss, his hand on her waist.

“Is this okay?” He asked, sounding a little uncertain.

“Y-yeah...” Tentatively she touched his head, running her fingers lightly over his hair, suddenly feeling very warm as she remembered doing similar last night. He let out a shuddering breath and she froze. “I-Is this okay?” She asked, repeating his earlier question.

“Yes… Please, keep doing that.” He sounded shy again and it was just as endearing this time as the first.

She resumed petting his hair gently, timidly at first, and for a little while they just sat like that as they slowly relaxed together.

After a little while he let out a contented sigh and she couldn’t help but smile. This reminds me of petting a cat. She thought, amused.

Damien let out a small huff of laughter.

She blinked in surprise then blushed. “I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“Its okay. You keep saying sorry when you don’t need to. It’s kinda cute.” He chuckled and turned his head slightly. With the new angle she could feel him smiling against her clothed knee. “I like cats.”

She let out a small tension relieving laugh. “Me too! And dogs… and, well, I don’t think there are any animals I don’t like, really. I have never had a pet like that before so I don’t have any experience with any of them.”

“Mm, me neither. I do like how soothing cats can be though, you don’t usually get that with dogs.”

“Heh, yeah, I’ll agree with that. Dogs are usually more boisterous, aren’t they?”

He chuckled. “Yeah...”

Smiling, still a little tense given the newness of her association with him but feeling much better about this arrangement now regardless, she turned back to the journal, one hand still on his head, stroking his hair gently, enjoying the soft texture under her fingers.

Finding her place again she was surprised to see there wasn’t much else on Demons of Lilith, only a mention of the core powers inherent to all their kind. Namely; enthralment magic with numerous forms and applications; a healing ability; a minor cleaning spell; a mental domination ability also with many possibles forms and applications; a glamour spell; an ability to conjure a weapon; flight; and, specific only to incubi, an energy transference ability. They were also noted to be capable of immense magical prowess, grating them great potential in wielding pure magic.

“Flight??” She blurted as she read that again. “You guys can fly?”

Damien chuckled. “Mm...”

“Huh… Wow… That’s… wow… Seriously??”

“Mhm...”

“Huh… Wow...” She trailed off, turning back to the journal.

When the book started to speak about another kind of demon – shadow and light demons – she sighed and turned back to the laptop, flicking her finger over the touch pad to re-activate the screen. She peered at the time and made a face; almost two and a half hours had passed already. She flipped back through the journal to where she had been before jumping ahead, only to stop on a section that immediately grabbed her attention; binding demons.

According to the notes, demons could be bound pretty much like in the stories; as servants, as guards, slaves, partners, to a place, an item, a spell, a person... Weather or not this was desirable or not, for the demon, depended on the kind of binding and the situation. Some bindings were necessary to a demons welfare and survival, such as the binding that tied them to their names at birth, and heart binding. Binding spells apparently covered an almost endless array of applications and could be described as magic that changed the state a demon occupied. Binding spells were loosely divided into four types, in descending order of power: innate binding magic, such as heart binding; binding magic that required a demon’s name to work at all; magic that was enhanced by the addition of a demon’s name; and magic that worked without it. All three of the latter types could be forced on a demon if a caster had their true name.

Mika's gaze was drawn to the spell book.

So, if I learn magic and Sam tells me his name, I could theoretically do whatever I wanted to him… Why would he risk that? She thought, a little horrified at the magnitude of it all.

Next to her, Damien shifted slightly, reminding her of his presence. He cleared his throat and said softly, “I trust you, and I know Sam does too. We know you would never try to hurt us.”

Her hand stilled its absent minded petting over his hair for a moment as she looked down at him. “… T-thank you.” Isn’t it too soon for that, though…? This is all so serious...

“I know what kind of person you are, Mika.” He said, turning to look up at her. “You care so much about other people, always wanting to do the right thing, to never cause any harm or pain if you can avoid it. You are kind, generous, strong...” Where his hand touched her skin at her ankle she felt a ripple of energy, flowing not to him, but from him.

“Damien...”

He pressed on as though she hadn’t said anything, a current of passion starting to grow in his voice. “When you were outside with Matthew I heard everything. Everything. And everything before and since. And I am sorry, so sorry. If I could control this and give you the privacy you want, I would, I swear it.” Tears prickled the corners of his eyes and her immediate thought was that she wanted to comfort him. Damien gasped at that, saying before she could get a word in, “You see?! You care, so much! About me!” He said like it was a miracle. “Despite what I am putting you through, you care about me! And I know what you are going through, how hard you are trying to make this work and how much you have been trying to adapt to my being here, to my power specifically, just to be kind to me! Mika, I-” He stopped abruptly, pulling his hand from her ankle with a gasp. The energy that had been flowing from him cut off abruptly.

He looked at his hand, shocked, before looking up at her with wide, awed eyes. Completely at a loss as to what to say and do she could only watch, wide and misty eyed herself after everything he had just said, as a pained look flashed over his face and he suddenly scuttled away from her and scrambled to his feet.

“I’m sorry.” He gasped, sounding upset. “I, I should go. I’m sorry.”

Floundering, anxious now at his sudden shift, worried she had done something wrong, she called after him, “W-wait! Damien-!” But he was already bolting from the room, almost running. She made to follow him but stopped just past the desk, uncertain and utterly lost.

What happened? What did I do?

The energy she had felt from him lingered, a warmth that made her heart glow with the ripples of it left behind – a curious sensation. What was that? What was he doing to me? Whatever it was it didn’t seem intentional given the way he had looked after pulling his hand away...

Heart pounding at the turn of events she couldn’t help but fear she was somehow to blame, that her thoughts had driven him off or at least done something to trigger all this. She wanted to go after him but the fear of making things worse stopped her. It didn’t help that no matter how she looked at it she couldn’t work out what happened to cause this, therefore, she wouldn’t be able to stop it happening again.

What happened? Was it that energy? But why would that make him so upset? Was it me? My thoughts? Did I do this?

It was an awful feeling, the feeling that there might be something so fundamentally wrong with her that even her own thoughts would cause things to go badly.

Feeling almost ready to cry she turned back to the desk dejectedly, hands trembling.

The things he was saying…She didn’t know what to make of it. She was touched and overwhelmed by it all.

She froze as she heard Erik’s voice outside the room not far from the door. “Damien, what’s wrong?”

What have I done…?

She jumped, heart pounding as the door opened behind her. She spun in time to see Damien re-enter the room and close the door behind him quickly.

“Damien-”

“I’m so sorry.” He was wide eyed and sounded upset which caused a weight to settle on her chest as her fear that began with his sudden change, spiked. It didn’t matter that he was apologizing, what mattered was that he was upset. “Please believe me, nothing here is your fault. You have done nothing wrong.”

She couldn’t believe him, it didn’t register. “D-Damien, w-what can I do?” I have to make this right, whatever I have done, whatever happened. It was going so well..

He let out a frustrated, pained whine before he strode towards her, startling her. He grasped her hand, taking it in both of his. Before she could think how to respond he brought her hand up to his lips, kissing the back of it. She froze, startled and confused. Through his lips and his hands she felt that same warm ripple of energy begin to emanate from him again. He let go, stepping away.

Eyes wide, breathing a little too hard, he said, a slight tremble in his voice, “I love you.”

If her mind hadn’t skidded to a stop with that kiss that declaration certainly did it. "I..."

“I love you.” He repeated, sounding awed and shaken. “I am sorry, so sorry. I know this is too fast, I know you are struggling, but I needed you to understand what just happened and that you didn’t do anything wrong, quite the opposite. You are wonderful...”

She could only blink up at him in disbelief, red faced, heart about to leap out of her throat.

What…?

“The energy you felt.” He said, stepping back further, watching her, “Its the beginnings of the magic that forges a heart binding.” 

She nodded, still dazed. “T-this is why you ran like that?” She murmured numbly, head full of static.

He nodded. “I was startled. I wasn’t sure what to do.”

“W-Why were you upset? You sounded… You looked h-hurt...”

He winced, looking down. “I panicked. I know this is all too soon for you and I don’t want to burden you. I don’t want to be responsible for hurting you or making things worse for you." He paused then looked back up, adding hastily, “Not that heart binding is like entering into a relationship or anything like that. Not by itself, anyway. Its not like soul binding, er, demon marriage.” He sighed tightly, “You are struggling even with true names- which is good, in a way, because it means you are being careful with it. I just don’t want to add something else on top of that.” His look softened, though his eyes were intense, “But I couldn’t leave you thinking about yourself that way, thinking that you had done something wrong to upset me. You didn’t.”

She nodded, feeling both touched at his thoughtfulness and a little dazed. She took a breath trying to think. “W-what happens now?”

“Nothing.” He said, firmly. “I just wanted you to understand why I left like that.”

She frowned at him as she remembered she had read and what his brothers had said about heart binding being necessary. “But… Don’t you need to do, um, the binding? Aren’t there consequences if you don’t?”

He gave a slight smile. “If I were alone, yes, but I have my brothers. As long as I spend enough time with them I can use my binding with them to anchor myself.”

“… How much time?” She asked, frowning more. Isn’t this permanent…?

“I… er, I’m not sure. At least every few days. Probably.”

“Wait, so you wouldn't be able go even a week without them?” She didn’t like the sound of that.

Damien shrugged nonchalantly, “It’s okay. I have spent my entire life around them anyway, so this wouldn’t be anything new for me.”

“But you wouldn’t have any choice now, unless you do this binding?”

“Please don’t worry about it. You’re already feeling out of your depth, I don’t want to make that worse.”

She took a breath at that; it was true, but she wasn’t ready to let this drop just yet. “Just so I understand all the options, if, if you did do the binding, what would happen?”

He hesitated before replying a little reluctantly, “The heart binding spell is simple, short, barely even a spell. All I would have to do is allow the energy to flow and my magic would do it automatically. After that... It would be up to you. It would be a one sided binding, you don’t love me and you’re a human so you can’t be bound anyway, so all the power would be in your hands. You would have the choice to leave the binding weak, so it would just be an anchor for me, or, you could strengthen it so I would share more of myself with you.”

“… You wouldn’t have a choice in that sharing, would you?”

“No.”

She nodded, frowning. “What about me, what would I experience? … I’d, I’d feel your emotions, right?”

“With the binding at it weakest you’d need to focus, but as long as we were touching, yes.”

She nodded, “Anything else? What about if the binding is strong?”

“You wouldn’t experience anything else when it is weak... At least, I don’t think you will. I’m not sure if there would be any difference because you are human, but I don’t think so. If the binding is stronger, you’d feel my emotions more easily, depending on how strong it is...”

She didn’t miss the note of hesitancy in his voice. “Anything else? What about you…?”

He looked uncomfortable. “Please, don’t worry about it.”

“Why? Damien-”

“No. I don’t want to burden you." he said, a thread of determination in his voice. "I have my brothers so it’s not that important. Perhaps in time when everything has settled and we don’t have Malix and his gang to worry about we can talk about this more then, okay?”

She frowned, a decision forming in her mind. “No." She replied firmly. "From what I am understanding, even if you have your brothers to fall back on, not doing this could be a real problem for you. What if you were separated from them? I don’t want that.” She still couldn’t fully face the idea of him loving her, but if she looked at the situation as a problem needing a solution then there really was only one good answer from her perspective.

“Mika...” Damien looked and sounded torn.

“A minimal binding is just an anchor, right? Just an anchor with a little emotional awareness when we touch. That… That sounds okay...”

“I...”

“I want you to be alright too, Damien. I don’t want to be responsible for something bad happening to you.” In a deliberate move to sway him, she added, truthfully, “I’d be worried about you.”

“Mika… I love you...” He sounded timid, wary yet hopeful.

She took a breath, feeling strange hearing him say that. She pressed on, trying to convince herself as much as him. “All the control will be in my hands, right? So if I am uncomfortable I can just leave it as an anchor and that’s it.”

He nodded, looking like he wanted to say more but hesitating.

Taking advantage of his hesitancy she gave him what she hoped was a reassuring smile and held her hand out to him. “Then, it’s alright. Do it.” There was longing in his eyes as he looked at her, shame and want warred over his features as he still hesitated. She reached her hand out further, trying to bolster her own struggling nerve as much as reassure him. “Damien, it’s okay...”

She took half a step closer to him and something in him seemed to break and he visibly relaxed, just a little. Damien took the remaining step between them, taking her out stretched hand in his and she immediately felt that energy start to flow again. He looked into her eyes, still hesitant, but it was a different kind of hesitancy this time, something that reminded her too much of herself.

Stepping closer he let go of her hand to wrap his arms around her, drawing her into a hug.

His breath ghosting over her skin he whispered, “Thank you...”

He placed a light kiss against her forehead and she felt that warm energy begin to spread from that contact. For a few seconds they stayed like that, the energy growing stronger, flowing down her neck and towards her heart. She gasped when it connected and his breathing quickened as he pulled her tighter to him.

He began to speak softly against her skin. “I love you, Mika. I love you kindness, your thoughtfulness, your generosity.” As he spoke she felt the energy flowing around her heart, like a circling wave of white light, spinning tighter and tighter, leaving her breathless.

“I love you…” His voice was shaking and full of love, “My heart, my life, is yours.” The energy swirling around her heart focused to a singular point like a flickering star; warm and cold, dark and bright, beautiful and captivating to behold in her minds eye, and, flowing from it in a wave of warmth that made her gasp; love.

A sudden sense of deja-vu hit her; She had seen that star before, but overwhelmed by the situation she didn’t even try to remember where from.

Damien almost sagged against her, breathing hard. “I, I did it...” He sounded awed. There was a strange quality to his voice, a subtle reverberation, though in that moment she barely noticed it.

Mika didn’t respond, utterly entranced by that star flicking against her heart, visible in her minds eye, and the spinning array of emotions she could feel from it… from him. Far and above the rest of his emotions was love, bright and clear, so strong she almost felt enveloped by it, cocooned as though by a warm blanket. It filled her awareness making her gasp, tears springing to her eyes. The words she could shut out, dismiss, but this was something she couldn’t ignore.

Impossible… A dark, tortured part of her mind whispered. It can’t be…

“I love you.” He said firmly, still with awe in his tone. “I am yours.”

Leaning heavily against him, eyes wide but her gaze turned inwards, silent tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I love you.” He said again, that strange subtle reverberation still warping his voice.

Chapter Text

 

After a while Mika and Damien separated. The moment she lost contact with his skin, however, the emotional awareness she had gained of him through that star attached to her heart, vanished, though the star itself did not. The sudden absence of the love that had been pouring from that connection made her heart hurt but before she could say anything he reached out and took her hand gently. The connection bloomed back into life and she gasped, clutching his hand in both of hers desperately.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let go.” He said, soothingly. That odd reverberation was still present in his voice and a strange shadow flickered in his eyes.

She nodded, still overwhelmed. She wasn’t sure what to think or feel; her dreams with Erik had felt more real then this, yet at the same it it felt like waking up after a long, terrible nightmare.

How…?

Her voice was almost a sob, “Damien...”

“I’m right here, it’s alright...” A slight frown flickered over his face and through the spinning array of different emotions she could feel beyond his love, his concern grew brighter, catching her attention. After a moment he said, “I have an idea. Come on...”

Damien began to lead her from the room but she stopped when she looked back and saw the books. “Wait...”

He froze and looked back, following her gaze. “Oh, right.”

As he began to help her put the laptop and books back, given they were both working one handed, she spoke up timidly, “Damien…?”

“Yes?” He looked to her, his full attention on her.

“What… what’s wrong with your voice?”

He looked, and felt, confused. “Nothing.”

“You sound different.”

Surprise and confusion ran over his expression and through the link. “Oh!” After a moment he asked, “Is this better?” His voice had returned to normal.

She nodded, a little wide eyed.

“I’m sorry.” he said, cringing, “My glamour spell must have slipped.” He frowned. “I should have noticed that...”

“Are you alright?” she asked, concerned. The confusion she could feel through the link hadn’t eased.

He smiled reassuringly. “I’m fine. Don’t worry.” As he spoke, along with the confusion she felt determination rise in the link like a wave, drowning out her perception of most of the rest of his emotions, except love.

Distracted by the binding she was silent as they finished putting the books and laptop away and he led her out of the room, closing the door behind them. She followed him blindly as she was consumed yet again by the disbelief within her that warred with the love that shone from the light of that star, utterly overwhelming her. It was like finding a warm campfire after trudging in the dark for too long. Her grip on his hand was like steel.

She barely registered where they were going as he led them to the living room. Inside James, Erik and Sam were gathered and seemed to be talking, though they fell silent as Mika and Damien entered the room.

“Damien,” Erik said as he stood from where he was sat, “is everything alright now?”

James frowned, looking concerned as he studded them. A surprised look flicked over his face as he took in their clasped hands.

Before James could say anything, Damien spoke first, firmly and coldly, “We need privacy. Now. Leave.”

Erik looked surprised, as did Sam as he got to his feet.

Mika looked up at him, wide eyed and startled. “Damien?”

Why is he speaking to them like that?

He squeezed her hand and glanced back at her lovingly, all trace of coldness gone in an instant. Love, determination and protectiveness dominated the link. “It’s alright. I just want them to leave. You're more stressed when more of us are together.”

“Sam, Erik,” James said firmly as he stood, “do as he said.”

“I meant all of you, James.” Damien said, his cold tone back again. Jealousy sparked in the link like a distant rumble of thunder.

Mika cowered slightly, utterly taken aback. “D-Damien…!”

“Damien, what the hell is going on?” Sam asked, looking worried as he walked towards them.

“Sam-” James started, a warning in his voice.

“Back off.” Damien snarled as Sam stepped closer, that strange reverberation back in his voice, his posture becoming defensive, combat ready. Jealousy and protectiveness flared through the link strongly, drowning out everything else.

Sam froze, shocked, then stepped back, hands immediately coming up with the backs of his hands facing the floor and his palms and wrists facing Damien. He lowered and turned his head to the side, bowing slightly as he moved back. Even preoccupied by Damien, his behaviour and the link as she was, that caught Mika’s attention; it wasn’t any kind of body language she had ever seen before.

“That's a submissive, deferential posture used by demons of Lilith.” Damien explained to her, his voice back to normal. “He’s not trying to be human right now.”

“Neither are you.” Sam said carefully, watching him with his head still lowered and turned to the side.

Damien frowned at that and the rush of renewed confusion in the link, strong enough to take the place of that jealousy and determination, almost made her gasp; he felt utterly lost.

“That’s a one sided binding, isn’t it?” Erik said, a little awed, looking between Mika and Damien, as he made his way around the room towards the door, keeping his distance. “You’re heart bound to her, aren’t you?”

“Yes...” Damien responded, frowning and seemingly lost in thought, though his eyes darted between his brothers.

“It’s wound too strong...” Sam said in realization.

James watched them carefully, though he seemed unsurprised by what had just been said. “He’s overwhelmed. Sam, Erik, get out of here, now.”

“What?” Mika asked, confused and worried.

“You can feel his emotions clearly, can’t you.” Sam said, ignoring James. He had relaxed back into a more normal if watchful stance. “You don’t have to concentrate at all, right?”

Her eyes went wide. “Yeah, yeah that’s right...!” She looked up at Damien, who still looked and felt confused, though not so badly now. “I…” She trailed off, feeling terribly guilty suddenly. It was a one sided binding, so, from what she had understood, she reasoned that that meant she had to be responsible if something was wrong. “I’m sorry...”

Damien’s face fell. “No… No, you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s alright, I’m alright...”

From the by door Erik called, “Sam!” and motioned for his brother to join him. Sam frowned, hesitating.

“That’s probably true, Miss.” James said, reassuringly, “It was probably nothing more then stress that caused this. Bonds forged in war or upheaval are often forged strongly. There is technically nothing wrong, Damien just isn’t used to this yet, that’s all. The binding can always be reduced.”

Damien frowned at that and a surge of guilt and shame washed through the link. The look he gave her had her wanting to hug him. “I’m so sorry. I should have remembered all that… I made this worse, I swore I wouldn’t do that...”

“It’s okay.” She squeezed his hand on reflex, wanting to reassure him, for his sake. “I’ll make this right...” She took a breath and let it out in a controlled exhale, trying to ground herself and focus. Mental exhaustion nipped at her, it had been one thing after another for days now...

“Miss-” James started but was cut short by Damien.

“No.” He was looking at her intently. “We’re not worrying about this now. I’m fine.”

She shook her head, “Damien, you’re not-”

“I am. You need to relax.” He started to walk towards the sofa, still holding her hand. “Come on, we can watch some TV. Or you can nap, read, or whatever you want.”

“Damien-” She faltered as what he said caught up with her. “… You brought me here to watch TV??”

“If you want to, yeah.” He smiled at her as he pulled her gently to sit next to him on the sofa. “This room is a neutral space, no expectations, and we can just relax.”

“Wa- I, er…” In the wake of so much weird, just the idea of sitting to simply watch TV, reading for fun or just relaxing seemed a little unreal.

“Mika,” James’ voice had a touch of amusement to it, “you might as well go along with his suggestion for a while. He wont calm down until you relax.”

“Yeah.” Sam agreed, “Its a side effect of one sided heart bindings, if they’re strong enough. The bound demon can get really fixated on whoever they are bound to. Right now Damien would claw his way through a mountain if he thought you needed him to. And he isn’t wrong about you needing to unwind.”

Damien, who had just found the remote on the table next to him, glared at his brothers and said, a clear note of warning in his voice, “I thought I told you all to leave.”

Mika couldn’t ignore the jealousy she felt from him and it made her frown. Why would Damien be jealous? Even as she thought it, pain flashed through the link and he winced a little as he looked at her.

James looked cautious as he spoke, “I think it would be a good idea if I stayed, to help you both through this.”

“No.” Damien responded immediately in that cold tone.

“I’m worried.” James said, bluntly, surprising Mika. “Let me stay-”

“No.” Damien cut over him.

“Just me.” James pressed, waving at Sam to leave. “I’ll sit down in a corner of the room and only speak up if I think you need my help.” James’ eyes turned to Mika, imploring, and the concerned glint she saw in them made her frown.

Still Sam hesitated to move, looking concerned.

Damien’s voice only got colder. “I said no. Now leave, all of you.”

Mika watched the exchange worriedly. She could still feel confusion in the link and she couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever Damien was going through he didn’t have as good a grasp on it as he was trying to show. Even if they wouldn’t need it, the thought of having someone in the room to help them suddenly sounded immensely reassuring.

As she pondered, Damien turned to look at her, his expression softening.

As Mika remembered the way the guys had vouched for James’ expertise the other night, she knew then that if she had to choose someone to have as backup in this, it would be James.

Before she could gather her courage to speak into the tense atmosphere, Damien sighed, “Alright… Stay, James, please.”

James gave a small relieved smile and nodded. Sam finally relaxed at that and made his way to where Erik was waiting for him just outside the room. As the door shut she thought she heard Erik say something to Sam in a disapproving tone, though, distracted, she couldn’t make out the words.

Mika couldn’t shake her unease; she realized that Damien had effectively just spoken for her which was an entirely different kind of unnerving to him answering her unasked questions or responding to her thoughts as if she had spoken them aloud.

Damien’s expression fell and regret surged through the link, almost startling her. “I’m sorry… I wanted to help...” He had the look of a puppy caught chewing slippers after having mistaken them for something else.

Faced with him answering her unspoken thoughts, again, she took a breath then forced a smile, “Lets… Lets just watch some TV, okay?”

He nodded, though he looked terribly guilty still.

James, as he said he would, retreated to a chair some way away from them. She could feel him watching them despite his eyes seemingly being on the TV as Damien began to flick through channels.

“Is there anything you want to watch?” Damien asked her.

“Mmm? Er, I don’t know...” She trailed off, honestly not caring either way, her attention drawing back to her new link with Damien. “You pick something.”

“Alright...”

The two of them settled back on the sofa, still holding hands. Damien eventually picked a travel documentary, focused on Australia.

“Damien... didn’t you know it was wound too tight? The binding?” She asked after a little while.

“I… I wasn’t sure. I was a baby when my bonds with my brothers were forged. I know those were one sided to start with, almost all mutual heart bindings start that way, but I don’t remember what that was like… Besides, the bond being strong just… doesn’t matter to me. You do.”

She frowned. “But… shouldn’t it matter?”

He hesitated and there was another burst of confusion in the link. “I guess… it just doesn’t feel important to me right now.”

Mika took a moment to take that in; Damien’s attitude did fit what Sam had said about demons in one sided, strongly wound heart bindings becoming fixated. She sighed, letting it go for now, mentally exhausted and, as Damien had said, needing to relax.

For a while Mika just sat numbly watching the TV without paying any attention to it. She felt as though she were waiting, for what she didn’t know. She watched Damien from the corner of her eye, listening to the link. Damien’s love was an ever shining light and before long she found herself starting to relax, closing her eyes and just basking in it, the sounds of the TV serving as a simple white noise helping her to unwind more. Her heart felt torn in two, wanting to reach for the light he offered and pull away at the same time, longing yet afraid.

She felt the shift in his emotions, his concern, before she felt felt the light touch on her cheek, prompting her to open her eyes.

The first thing she noticed was his eyes, full of concern and love, then his hand, the wet shine on his thumb. Surprised, she rubbed at her face, wiping away stray tears.

He reached over to run his fingers through her hair. “It’s alright, its okay...”

“Damnit...” She pinched the bridge of her nose, cringing. “I can’t seem to stop crying, huh?”

“It’s alright, you’ve been through so much...”

“Feels like all I have done for the last few days is cry… I’m so tired of it...” Even as she said it, more tears slipped loose, prompted by the love, care and protectiveness she felt from him, shining brightly above the rest of his emotions. Her voice was barely above a broken whisper, “Why...?”

“Why?”

“Why do you, do you… care about me?”

Damien looked thoughtful and instead of answering right away he said, “May I hold you?”

“I… Okay.” She was confused but as soon as he asked suddenly it was all she wanted, to be held.

He edged closer, twisting in his seat to better face her, then pulled her close until she rested against his chest. With his lips on her temple, maintaining physical contact with her skin, he let go of her hand and wrapped his arms around her. Blushing, she went along with it, resting against him tentatively.

For a little while he just held her like that as she slowly relaxed. Eventually he said, “I love you because… You are you.”

She frowned, “But, I...” Her mind filled with negativities; weak, incompetent, worthless…

“No one is perfect.” he said softly. “But that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be the best, or the worst, or anything at all. Anything but you. You being you is enough. For that, I love you.”

She took a breath to speak, to protest, but found she had no words. She grit her teeth as she leaned more heavily against him, wrapping her arms around him, trying not to cry.

Damien nuzzled against her temple and she could feel his distress. “Focus on our link.” he said in a soothing voice. “Focus on me. I’m here. It’s alright...”

She complied, gripping his jacket tightly, wanting nothing more then to loose herself in the love and care flowing from him anyway, despite her doubts, the dark part of her that wanted to pull away. The tension and confusion caused by the warring parts of herself almost made her want to scream.

She sighed and closed her eyes, forcing herself to relax against him, her mind on the star that was her link to Damien. As she focused on it, she allowed herself to sink into the feeling of love she felt from him, wanting more. In her mind, Damien’s star grew larger, and his emotions became brighter, happier, less confused and less turbulent.

James’ voice cut through her focus. “Mika, stop.”

Her eyes flew open at the warning in his tone.

James was sitting forward in his seat. “You were strengthening the binding.” he explained in a calm and measured tone. “In principle there is nothing wrong with that, however, you are both still overwhelmed and need more experience before you explore the extremes. Don’t worry, I can walk you through reducing it again.”

She looked up at Damien as best she could without breaking contact with his skin; his eyes were closed and his expression relaxed as though he were in a trance, though his breathing was slightly accelerated. His emotions were… rapturous.

“Damien…?”

He smiled and hummed, nuzzling against her head, his lips brushing her skin making her shiver. The reverberation was back in his voice. As his touch brought back memories of the other night, a new emotion in the link caught her attention, appearing as though in answer to her straying thoughts;

Lust.

She shivered again, remembering their kiss, how good it felt, how much she had wanted to just loose herself in it.

Damien moaned softly, kissing down to her cheek, then towards her lips.

“Remember, Mika,” James said, as Damien draw her into a kiss, “you have all the control here. With the binding as strong as I think it is, and his control as weak as it seems, he’ll take your word like a command.”

Through the link she felt the growing wave of his lust, strong enough to ignite a spark of her own.

Damien…

The kiss deepened.

The thought came unbidden, caught in the wake of the memory of their previous kiss;

More...

Damien moaned and a familiar wash of energy swept through her; His enthralment spell.

“Mika, stop him.” James said, his tone suddenly urgent, insistent. “You’re going to spiral if he isn’t stopped.” Distantly she noticed that he was on his feet now.

Mind already foggy with the haze of want she struggled to process what he said, far more focused on the kiss, on Damien and what he was doing to her. Damien’s hand moved up her back to cradle the back of her head, his kiss growing passionate.

“Mika!” James’ voice was more forceful now, “Think ‘stop’. His enthralment spell and his mindreading is creating a feedback loop. He’s too out of control to break it, so you must think ‘stop’!”

Awash in lust and pleasure, her mind tripped over itself as she tried to think.

God this feels good… Damien… What, what was that, what did James say…? More, I want… More...

Leaning against her, maintaining their kiss, Damien pushed her gently until she was lay down on the sofa. Taking advantage of her gasp he run his tongue along her lips then across her teeth, diving in in an open mouthed kiss, massaging her tongue with his. His hand that had been holding her head moved to stroke down her neck.

“Mika,” James said, still instant. “think ‘stop’!”

Stop? Why, what… feedback loop, he said feedback loop… Oh god, Damien, yessss… feedback loop? Feedback loop, that’s bad… Oh god, this feels good… but… but... Stop.

Damien paused, then pulled back slightly, ending the kiss.

She heard James sigh in relief. “Good. Now tell him to drop his enthralment spell. Just think it if you can’t say it.”

Her body humming as Damien lay over her, she struggled not to simply reach up and kiss him again but she knew, knew that a feedback loop was bad, knew they needed to stop, as much as she didn’t want to.

Drop your spell, your enthralment… She thought weakly, fighting her lust.

It vanished from her almost immediately, making her gasp, head falling back against the sofa as she caught her breath, trying to ignore the heated look on Damien’s face, the lust she felt through the link.

“Well done.” James said, relieved. He was knelt near by now, a little way out of arms reach.

Even without the enthralment spell Mika struggled to mentally pull herself away from what she had just experienced, from Damien’s warmth where he still rested over her, from his emotions, his love, his lust.

“We, we need to fix, I mean, lesson this binding.” She said, breathlessly, trying to take control of herself as well as the situation. “We need to do that. Now.”

Damien nodded down to her, looking a little dazed. Before moving his hand from her neck, he used his other to take her hand, keeping their physical connection intact. Sitting back up he pulled her with him and, unbalanced and shaken, she wound up leaning against him heavily again.

“I’m sorry.” He said, confusion heavy in his tone and the link. The strange echoing distortion warped his voice.

Still breathing heavily she said, “It’s, it’s alright.” Scrambling to try and ground herself after that kiss and his spell, she asked the first thing that came to mind. “How, how did you know…? That it was a loop?”

“It’s happened before.” James said.

“Oh...” When the silence made it clear that neither of the guys was going to extrapolate on that, she let it go; she had other priorities now. Turning her head to look at James she asked, “What do we need to do now?”

James smiled, pleased. “First, I need to form a connection with you so I can monitor the state of your binding for myself. It’s not likely that you will break it but if you do, Damien will be hurt. While the binding can simply be re-forged I don’t want him to have to go through that. To monitor you I am just going to touch your chest, here.” He touched his fingers to the middle of his breastbone. “After that, I will walk you through reducing it.”

She nodded.

Keeping an eye on Damien, though he seemed quite relaxed now – watchful, but relaxed – James moved closer until he was within arms reach. Mika pulled away from Damien to sit next to him, facing James, though she still held his hand.

“Are you ready?” James asked.

She nodded.

“Alright. Then let’s begin...”

James reached forwards and touched his fingers lightly to her chest. There was a wash of soothing cool energy that emanated from that point, focusing on her heart.

“I see it.” he said. “Aside from being too powerful right now everything seems fine... Now, I want you to focus on the binding, on its anchor within you. You should be able to see an image of it in your mind. That is your minds interpretation of the binding itself.”

She nodded, knowing immediately what he was referring to. She turned her attention back to that star, which was easy given she had had trouble focusing on anything else since she had got it.

“You see it?” James asked.

“Yes.”

“Good. Now, slowly, focus on making it smaller. Just picture it shrinking in your minds eye. Don’t worry about extinguishing it entirely, you should be able to feel if that is in danger of happening. It will feel tense, like a string about to snap. The moment you feel that, stop. Don’t worry, I will keep watching. It wont snap with both of us keeping an eye on it.”

She nodded but hesitated at the pang of fear she felt from Damien through their link. “Don’t worry.” She said reflexively. “If I mess this up, we’ll just redo it.”

Damien drew in an unsteady breath and nodded.

“Now,” James said. “Focus...”

She nodded and closed her eyes, focusing on that star. As she did what James instructed she felt Damien tremble beside her and stopped.

“He’s fine.” James said. “Just keep going.”

The emotions she felt from Damien were a confused mess; Love, fear, trepidation, protectiveness, turbulent uncertainty and that continuing confusion, and a spinning array of things beneath that which she couldn't even name. He felt even more lost then she did. James, however, exuded confidence, which was a rock in this storm that she desperately needed. Following James’ lead, she refocused and concentrated on making that star smaller.

After a time she felt a change, a tension, and froze in her attempt just as James said, “There!”

“… That’s it?” She asked.

“That’s it. Perfect.”

She sighed deeply as James moved back, breaking contact with her chest.

She looked over to Damien, who smiled shakily at her.

“I’m alright.” he said to her unspoken query, giving her hand a slight squeeze, his voice back to normal again. Regret danced around his eyes and he couldn’t fully meet her gaze, which saddened her. He was still trembling too, but not as badly as when she had started. Turning her attention inward briefly, focusing, what emotions she could sense through the link were far fainter now, much harder to read. When she finally was able to focus enough what she felt from him was far calmer now, with no confusion. “I’m so sorry.” He said then, “I couldn’t think...”

She smiled, trying to alleviate tension. “Yeah...” she nudged him, “No kidding… but... it’s alright now, yeah?”

“Yeah.” He smiled back at her, his loving gaze making her glance away with a slight blush.

“How are you two feeling now?” James asked.

“Better… Thank you.” Damien said, sounding relieved yet timid. Embarrassed, she realized.

“I’m...” She didn’t know how to answer that. There was so much… After a moment she just settled on, “I’m okay.”

“Good. Now that the binding is minimal you shouldn’t feel much from it or be particularly affected by any side effects, if you notice any at all.”

“Side effects?” She asked.

“Yes, though most of them will only be felt by Damien as the one who is bound. You will at most feel a slightly increased emotional connection to him, though even that might not be noticeable. Heart binding also grants a very slight resistance to domination and enthralment magics, though you may choose to participate in such magics willingly.”

“What about side effects for Damien?” She asked, needing to know. As she understood this she had some responsibility towards him now, so this was important.

“More of the same, effectively, though on a broader scale. His emotional connection to you is stronger, as it would be with a long standing association, rather then a new one. Obviously there are consequences to that, but nothing more then you would expect.”

“Oh...” She couldn’t help but look up at Damien at that, who seemed utterly unsurprised and unmoved by this, as though it was not news to him. Which she realised, it probably wasn’t.

James continued. “At higher levels the binding exaggerates this emotional connection. Pushed far enough, as you saw, this becomes a fixation which, as the binding is strengthened further, gradually excludes everything else.”

“That’s specific to one sided bindings, right?” She asked.

“Yes. The last side effect to one sided bindings is that, when taken to their maximum, they trigger a reverse possession spell.”

She blinked. “… Huh?”

“You started reading about magic, correct? Have you read anything about possession spells yet?”

“I… I saw it mentioned… once...” She said weakly.

“Possession magic is a sub type of binding magic. It binds us into the body of someone else, granting us control over that person.”

Her heat beat accelerated as a small shiver of fear ran down her spine. This stuff is really real, then…?

James continued, “Every ability that they have we can use, as well as retaining access to our own powers. A reverse possession does the opposite, it draws a magical entity into your body giving you control of them and their abilities.” He paused a moment as she took that in, then said, seriously, “I can not emphasise this enough, Mika; do not attempt a reverse possession with Damien. Ever. If you do, you will experience his mindreading and it will overwhelm you, almost certainly knocking you out.”

“But...” She said, weakly, “He, he shared it with me before, so I could speak to grandpa...”

Damien shook his head, “That was only a fraction of what it can be like, I was trying to block most of it from you.”

“Oh…”

Damien said, grimly, “When other people have tried to take or borrow my mindreading before its always gone badly for them, every time.”

“They were knocked out?” She asked a little faintly, trying to take all this in.

“That, or worse.” Damien replied darkly, sending another shiver of fear down her spine.

James nodded then continued, “You shouldn’t experience worse then being knocked out, thankfully. As soon as your mind goes under, Damien’s would be there to absorb the rest, giving you chance to recover. However, if you wake up still surrounded by too many minds, you probably wouldn’t be conscious long enough to reverse the possession. This is why you must make certain to never trigger it in the first place.”

She nodded, a little wide eyed. That’s terrifying...

“Try not to worry about it.” Damien soothed. “Once we are used to the bond at lower levels we can practice the extremes so you know where to stop.”

“If we even do that...” She give a slight hysterical laugh, feeling a little overwhelmed. She wasn’t so distracted as to not see the flicker of pain in Damien’s eyes, however. She frowned slightly. “You want to explore that?”

“I… Yes. Aside from loosing control and… and snapping at my brothers, I enjoyed having the binding tightened earlier.” He admitted a little shyly.

“Oh...”

“Its… very intimate...”

“Oh…” She frowned. “I thought… I thought you wanted to live as a human?”

Damien nodded, looking down. “I do, yes… But, I am a demon, and heart bonds do feel good. Its one of very few things about being a demon that I would keep, if I were ever able to pick and choose.”

“Oh...” She tilted her head, curious. “What else would you keep?”

“Not much… Just my healing magic. And the cleaning spell.” At her amused look he shrugged. “It’s very convenient...”

She couldn’t help but smile a little. “I bet... That’s it?” He nodded. Mika’s smile faded as she asked, “And if it was all or nothing?”

“Then, I would choose to let it all go, to be human...”

Mika nodded and her heart ached for him.

After a short silence James made to stand up, “Well, I don’t think you need me here now. Was there anything else you wanted to know before I go help the others?”

Damien shook his head.

Mika paused, considering. “No… unless there is anything else you can think of?”

“Not particularly, no. Although I do ask, should you try to experiment with the strength of the bond, that you remember that because it is one sided Damien has no control over it, so whatever you do he can’t undo. That will be your responsibility. If you experiment, do not leave it strengthened for very long. Ordinarily I would recommend that you keep it at or close to minimum.”

Listening to him talk Mika couldn’t help but frown as a thought hit her; James seemed so matter of fact about all this, about Damien being in such a vulnerable position with her now. Going by how he acted earlier after she had unintentionally strengthened the binding, she could, if she wanted, have him as a slave and Damien would have no say in it. Yet James was talking about this as though it were little more then Damien signing up for a new job.

Damien gave her hand a squeeze. “Binding magic is just a fact of life for demons. We trust you. I trust you. Besides, even at its worst heart binding is not so terrible, even when it is one sided.”

She nodded, though she couldn’t help but wonder how bad other types of bindings could get if one sided heart bindings were at worst, ‘not so terrible’.

“Alright,” James said, “I will leave you two alone... Unless you would prefer that I stay?”

Mika hesitated at that, a little torn. On the one hand James’ presence was reassuring. On the other hand, some time alone with Damien seemed a good idea now, given she was starting to think of things she wanted to talk to him about.

After a moment she said, still torn but having made a decision at least, “… No. No, thank you.”

Damien shook his head.

James nodded with a small smile. “As you wish. Please, find me if you would like to ask me anything else, or if you simply desire my company.”

They nodded and thanked him, agreeing to do that if they changed their minds.

After James left, the room fell into a heavy silence as she gathered her thoughts. Damien sat quietly, simply turning back to the TV and switching it to a wildlife documentary.

Eventually Mika decided that just getting to the point was for the best. “Damien…”

Damien muted the TV and turned to her.

She took a breath. “You said a heart binding itself is not a relationship… So, if, if I were to, erm, peruse a relationship with someone else...?” She trailed off, uncertain of how to finish that sentence without being insensitive. As much as it made her cringe it was a topic she needed to explore, for her sake. It was all still so much to take in and she still hadn't processed the idea of him loving her, despite the evidence.

Damien hesitated, glancing away briefly, “I love you, and I would like the chance to forge a relationship with you… So, I can’t say I would be happy to see you with anyone else until I am certain that can not happen. Though, I will not stop you if you choose someone else.” There was an edge of sadness to his voice.

She nodded. That makes sense… She couldn’t fully ignore a creeping feeling of being caged, however. She wanted to look after him, to not cause him any pain, but in this situation that seemed to go hand in hand with curtailing her freedoms, her ability to explore, and that fact ate at her.

She was silent for a little while after that as she thought, Damien waiting patently, his expression enigmatic.

As she thought about her feelings towards Damien, the word that best fit was ‘friend’. Despite that, she couldn’t ignore the sexual stuff, partly because of what he was, and partly because, as much as the thought made her blush, her kisses with Damien had blown her mind. She wasn’t sure how much of it was Damien himself, his enthralment spell, or some other factor, but she hadn’t lied to Erik when she had told him in her dream that she had wanted more.

She glanced up at him shyly, remembering that he could read her mind, her heart beat accelerating.

He was watching her, his expression revealing a hint of desire. “Whatever happens, it’s up to you.” He said, softly. “If all you want with me is something casual, then I would enjoy exploring that with you, too.”

She took a breath at that, blushing and curious. A thought came to her as she took that in, however, making her frown.

“Damien…”

“Yes?”

“I... Is this really okay? If we were, um,… c-casual? I wouldn’t want to, to use you and your feelings for me...”

“If you choose to go that far with Sam or Erik, would you feel like you are using them?”

Mika went wide eyed and red faced at that. “Y-Y-You know about-!” She cut herself off. Of course he knew. After a few moments to compose herself and think, she said, “I-I… I guess not...”

Damien nodded and said, matter of factly, “I have been with quite a number of people so far in my life and I have not loved any of them. Too many of those I didn’t even like.” There was a hint of coldness in his voice that surprised her and set a seed of dread in her belly that even her curiosity didn’t dare push. He continued after a beat, all trace of coldness vanished, “I would be happy to have a chance to be with someone I love, even if they, if you, do not love me back. I… I would not consider it being used to be with you…”

She stared at him a little wide eyed. When he put it like that it did make sense; from what she understood, as an incubus sexuality and sexual encounters, of some form or another, was just another of life’s necessities, or at the very least something that made his life a lot easier. From what her grandfathers journal said about heart binding being rare outside of a demon’s birth family, love in sexuality must be a very lucky bonus.

She nodded, blushing as she took all that in, the possibilities it opened up for the future. Eventually, her mind circled back to a related topic Damien had already called out. “Damien…?”

“Mm?”

“A-About S-Sam and Erik… What if… What if I decided to, to try that, with either of them… would that... bother you?” In a burst of curiosity driven inspiration she decided to try and keep her focus on the link as much as she could despite also trying to mind his words.

After a moment he said, carefully, “Because I want to try and have a serious relationship with you, I would not like it if you were with them- Sam, Erik or any of my brothers.” As he spoke, one emotion in the link stood out clearly enough to register despite her split focus;

Jealousy.

Damien looked away then, ashamed, “I know it isn’t my place to tell you what to do with them, or anyone else, but you asked if it would bother me… It would.”

Mika took a breath, a little unsettled. Yet again the speed that everything was happening, the rate that Damien’s feelings had progressed, knocked the wind out of her. The feeling of being caged resurfaced and Damien frowned as he watched her.

“I see.” She responded, carefully. “Um, thank you, for your honesty.” A thought occurred to her then. Sex is more causal for them, isn’t it? “So, um,” She tried to gather her thoughts, “It would bother you even if it were casual? Just friends, um, with benefits?”

Damien’s look was difficult to read, there was something intense about his eyes though as he looked at her. “Yes… I wont stop you if you try to peruse that, though.”

She frowned, something was niggling about all this, something felt off. “Why? Why would it bother you? You’ve been with people before, causally…”

“Yes… I…” He sighed, expression softening to something wistful, heartfelt as he looked at her, “I have never been in love before and for all I know I might never be in love ever again. I don’t want to loose this chance with you.” Jealousy flared through the link again, sickly and sharp. “I know humans in your culture, in most cultures, will only choose one mate, and I know that humans more readily tie love and sex and relationships together… I don’t want to loose you.”

“Oh...”

On his face and in the link in the wake of that jealousy came an immense wave of shame as he looked away. “I’m sorry...” He whispered, a strange distance in his voice.

“Damien…” She didn’t know what to say, and his tone had confused her; It was as though he wasn’t talking to her.

He sighed then seemed to shake himself, looking back over to her with a small if sad smile. “Do you want to do anything? Maybe watch some TV?”

“Huh? Er… I dunno...” The sudden change in topic caught her off guard and she floundered in how to respond. As she struggled to think, a thought occurred to her, “Oh, er… Aren’t you supposed to be busy right now? With training and things.”

Damien shook his head. “A new heart binding is a major event and I still need time… The others are training without me.”

“Oh, so you are on free time right now?”

“Until lunch, at least, yeah.”

That didn’t seem like much time to adapt to a ‘major event’ to her. She frowned. “Is that all?”

Damien grimaced slightly. “Given the situation the others don’t think I can afford much longer then that. I agree with them. Their consensus is that we will see how I do over lunch, then decide if I still need time.”

It took her a moment to realise this was information he had gained through his mindreading. “Oh… Oh right... Is there anything I can do to help?” She asked, somewhat concerned now.

Damien smiled, a real warm smile, all trace of sadness vanished. He shook his head and squeezed her hand, “This, and your care, is all I need right now, thank you.”

She smiled a little at that, and the flare of love through the link, noticeable despite her relative lack of focus at that point, that made her heart thump harder.

Looking down at their clasped hands her attention was drawn to the warmth and softness of his skin, how comfortable it felt. It feels nice… She thought, running her thumb over his skin lightly. I don’t want to let go… She realized with some small surprise.

She glanced up at him shyly to see him smiling at her as he watched her. He said softly, “I wont let go if you don’t want me to...”

“Never?” She asked playfully, blushing at being caught out again, yet realizing with a deepening blush that this time she didn’t mind.

He smiled wider, love clear in his eyes, “Never.”

Ducking her head, heart beating harder she chuckled bashfully then sighed. Looking to their clasped hands she couldn’t help but remember their kisses, how good they had felt. She swallowed around the lump in her throat before saying, unsteadily, “So, erm, if I wanted to, er, experiment, with you… You’d be okay with that? However far I wanted to go, or not?” She peeked back up at him.

He nodded. “As long as you really wanted that, yes.” The spike of lust in his voice and in his eyes on that last word sent a jolt right through her.

“Would you like to, to kiss?” She said without thinking, caught on that look and the memory from before.

Damien’s expression became piercing as he shifted closer on the sofa, leaning forward until she could feel his breath over her skin.

“Gladly...” He whispered huskily, before closing the distance, the press of his lips surprisingly gentle.

He kissed her softly, his passion evident but controlled. After a moment she began to reciprocate, uncertain, clumsy.

He wrapped his free arm around her waist as he slowly began to deepen the kiss, pulling her closer to him. Hesitantly she wrapped her arm around his shoulders, her hand coming to rest low on his neck.

As she started to get into it, humming into their kiss in her pleasure, she realized something; no enthralment spell, no energy drain.

“Hmm?” She pulled back from the kiss. “Why aren’t you using your magic?”

“I don’t want to.” He responded, leaning his head against hers lightly. “I don’t want to influence you with it.”

She was touched but couldn’t shake the memory of how good it had felt before. “And if I-I ask for you to…?” She asked shyly, stuttering a little in nervousness and anticipation, her lust and curiosity drowning out her desire to help him live as a human.

“Then, I will. But only a little and I wont drain you. We still have most of the day to go and I don’t want to tire you.”

She nodded slightly, taking a breath, “Then… I’d like that, p-please.”

“Alright...”

She sighed at the soft wave of heat that rolled through her, then moaned as Damien tilted his head to recapture her lips.

Pushing her back, he lay her gently onto the sofa again, resting his weight on her carefully as the kiss began to heat up. She moaned against him, the new position and the feel of him on top her adding to the fire in her belly, making her tremble. Removing his hand from the back of her head to hook it under her leg pressed closest to the side of the sofa and shifting his other hand down to the small of her back, Damien broke the kiss to lift her fully onto the sofa so she was lay down on it properly, making her squeak softly in surprise. His smirk a little wicked, amused at her reaction, he settled himself back down on top of her, one leg resting between hers. He resumed their kiss, passionately, humming in his pleasure.

Mika was a lust addled mess at by this point, despite the enthralment spell being so mild.

He’s so good, so, so good at this...

Moaning into the kiss, she wrapped her arms around him mindlessly, clutching him to her more firmly. As she pulled him closer their positions shifted and his leg brushed her crotch, making her gasp and arch her hips up against him, a motion that brought into relief the hard bulge of his arousal against her hip.

They broke their kiss with a gasp, she wide eyed, while his were narrowed to near slits in his lust.

“M-Mika,” He said breathlessly, leaning his forehead on hers, his enthralment spell fading to nothing. “I… I don’t want to go past a kiss… not now.”

It took a moment for her to get a handle on her mind, let alone her voice. When she did all she could manage was, “Huh…?”

He chuckled before growing serious. “Its too soon… I don’t want you to regret this, to regret being with me. Never. Never that. Please.”

That cooled some of her fire in some ways, yet stoked it in others; It was so thoughtful. Even lust-drunk as it was, her mind had to agree with him; things were happening so fast, too fast for her really and it would be all too easy to get sucked in and have regrets later. Her body argued, loudly, that Damien wasn’t going anywhere, that he was serious about her, so why not indulge them both?

That Damien agreed with her mind tipped the balance, and part of her was very grateful for that. She nodded, taking a breath and trying to calm herself, “Okay...”

“… Do you want to continue? With the kiss, I mean?” His voice was shaking ever so slightly.

She didn’t wait to be asked twice. She grasped his head, her hands weaving through his hair, and pulled him down to her while she met him half way, bringing them back together almost forcefully. He chuckled into the kiss before moaning and picking up where he had left off.

The kiss was passionate, heated. She noticed how he would moan and shudder when she ran her nails lightly over his scalp, and gasp when she reached the fine hair at the very top of his neck. He in turn wasted no time in reciprocating, fingertips lightly massaging her scalp. Soon she found herself loosing track of time, caught in his touch, in the sounds he made when she touched him, how he shivered and gasped when she ran her fingertips lightly down his neck, and the way he explored her in turn, drawing reactions from her from the most simple of touches to her head and neck.

After a time, Damien slowed their kiss, turning it soft and gentle, guiding her to a point where she just wanted to melt into the sofa. As he pulled back, ending the kiss, she sighed, her eyes closed, lips tingling pleasantly.

"I love you..." He said softly as he rested his forehead on hers, gazing down at her.

Absent mindedly she stroked her fingers through his hair, relaxed and simply enjoying being with him. He sighed, closing his eyes. For a little while they just stayed like that, him resting on top of her, his forehead on hers, her fingers in his hair. After a little while an idea came to her and she opened her eyes to look up at him.  She hesitated, opening her mouth to speak then shutting it again as she worked to push past any lingering shyness. Even as she rallied to try again he opened his eyes, a soft, warm smile growing on his face. Eventually she managed to say, “Do you wanna just… stay like this, um, while we watch TV or something?”

He smiled wider, “I would love that… thank you.”

She blushed a little at his gratitude, thinking is was unnecessary. Damien shifted himself lower on her body, reaching back to where he had left the remote before settling back down with his head resting on her shoulder, just above her heart.

With one hand resting lightly on his back, the other petting over his hair gently, Mika sighed as her remaining libido cooled gradually.

Damien flicked through TV channels before eventually settling on another travel documentary, this one about Paris. Despite his initial interest, after a little while his eyes drifted closed as he sighed in contentment.

Mika wasn’t paying any attention to the TV either, her mind drawn inward as she began to more fully process everything that had happened.

He loves me… She thought to herself, looking down at the top of Damien’s head. He loves me…

It didn’t matter how many times she repeated it to herself, she still couldn’t quite believe it.

Chapter Text

 

Resting on the sofa with Damien acting like a living blanket, Mika drifted in an out of consciousness as she dozed, too mentally exhausted to bother with the TV. Damien hadn’t moved an inch since he had settled and Mika was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable she was. It wasn’t perfect, she could hardly stay like that forever, but he wasn’t as heavy as she might have imagined either and now that she was used to it, it was even comforting. At some point she had wound up with her arms loosely circling his back, simply enjoying the rhythm of his breathing and heartbeat under her hands. It took her an embarrassingly long time to realise this was cuddling, though she smiled at the thought.

The travel documentary Damien had originally put on had finished and another started up and finished too, before there was a knock at the living room door.

She blinked, surprised, before peering down at Damien when he showed no reaction at all. “Damien?” She asked softly.

The living room door opened carefully and she twisted her head around to try and peer at it. Upside down from her perspective, she could just about make out James.

“May I come in?” He asked, amusement in his voice.

“Yeah...” She said, “I, er...” She looked down at Damien again, taking in his steady breathing, how relaxed he was. An amused smile pulled at her lips; unless he was faking it, he had fallen asleep.

James was grinning as he walked around to kneel next to them. “I can’t say I’m surprised… How did things go after I left?” He asked quietly.

She blushed, mind going straight to that kiss as she looked down at the top of Damien’s head warmly. “It went well, yeah… We talked.” She almost added ‘too’ to the end of her sentence but stopped herself.

There was something a little too knowing about James’ look. “I’m glad. Well, I came to tell you lunch is ready. We figured Damien was probably asleep when he didn’t respond to our thoughts.”

“He can’t read minds when he’s asleep?”

“No. Its one of the very few instances when his power doesn’t work.”

“Ah. What else stops it?” She asked, unable to help her curiosity now that her mind felt more refreshed after her rest with Damien.

James shrugged. “Mind barrier spells, mostly. Although they have to be pretty powerful and Damien will burn through a spell placed on him, meaning it takes a lot of energy to maintain it.”

“Ah...”

James reach forward then and placed a hand on Damien’s head lightly. “Damien...” He called softly, with the same strange hint of reverberation in his voice she had heard from Damien earlier. “It’s time to wake up...” There was a subtle glow to his eyes that began to fade as soon as it appeared.

Damien stirred where he still lay ontop of her. “Mmm…?” He froze.

“Good afternoon to you too, Damien.” Mika chirped down at him, amused.

Slowly propping himself up, Damien turned to look up at her, wide eyed, his expression somewhere between embarrassment and loving awe.

“Sleep well?” She said as she fought down her awkwardness at the look he was giving her.

Damien’s embarrassment shifted into awed joy. “I love you.” he said, a smile blooming over his face, like he was rediscovering it all over again.

She couldn’t help her own smile in the face of his happiness, though her shyness prompted her to turn her head to the side. Damien leaned forward and placed a light kiss to her cheek. She gasped at the contact as his skin on hers gave her access to his emotions again and even without focusing the glow of love from the binding made her heart ache. Damien froze for a moment, drawing in a breath and she felt him shiver. Distantly, she noticed James get up and leave quietly.

Caught in the feel of Damien, his love and the rekindled awareness of his body, she turned her head back to him, catching his lips with hers. He moaned into the kiss, reciprocating.

The door to the living room closed, though she barely paid any attention to it.

The kiss was languid, sensual, making her melt. One of Damien’s arms snaked under her waist to hold her tightly, while his other hand gently moved one of her arms from his back, his palm running up her forearm until he caught her hand in his, lacing their fingers together. She gasped at the intimacy of it, and the situation she was in, who she was with, his feelings for her, hit her like new all over again.

He loves me...? Her mind repeated again in disbelief.

In answer to her thoughts, the love shining though her link to Damien flared brightly again. It was intoxicating. Her arm that was still wrapped around his back clutched him tighter.

All too soon he pulled back with a sigh, smiling down at her. “I love you...”

She smiled shyly, closing her eyes. The words still seemed unreal to her, but the feel of the emotion itself through the link was incredible.

“Are you ready for lunch?” He asked, his breath ghosting over her skin making her shiver and long for his kiss again. Losing herself in him felt like nothing else, she decided again.

She took a breath and nodded, despite her flushed face. “Yeah. Yeah okay.”

He nodded, climbing off her carefully. She almost shivered at the temperature difference; she had gotten used to his warmth and she found herself missing it even as she stretched and made to sit up.

As they made their way to the dining room, she clenched her fists as she struggled, yet again, with embarrassment and nerves.

It’s fine. She told herself forcefully, deliberately replaying in her mind how open and relaxed the guys had been at breakfast. They wont think less of me or anything. It’s fine.

Damien’s hand brushed her fist lightly, “It’s alright.” he soothed, “Just try to relax, okay?” He offered her a small, reassuring smile.

She nodded and smiled back. “I’m okay. I...” She sighed. “I’m getting there.” She admitted with a small wince.

Damien leaned over quickly, placing a light kiss to her cheek. “You’re doing fine.” He said, pulling back with a smile.

She blushed, ducking her head, but was unable to help smiling herself.

Walking into the dining room, she was a little embarrassed to see the other four waiting for them, the table laid with bowls and dishes. It was relatively basic food, flavoured rice and various accompaniments, and no where near as much as they had been making for dinner but still far more then she herself would have bothered with.

They sure like to eat well…

Before she could protest them waiting to eat, Matthew was up from his seat and had tackled Damien into a hug, grinning hugely.

“Dude!” He exclaimed happily, muffled by Damien’s jacket. “Congratulations!”

“Matthew!” Damien laughed, sounding a little embarrassed, “You know it isn’t mutual...”

Mika felt a twinge of guilt at that, at knowing she couldn’t honestly say she loved him too, no matter how much she was growing to like him. She shuffled where she stood, feeling uncomfortable.

“Well, she accepted you, didn’t she?” Sam grinned from where he lounged back in his chair. “That’s something...”

Accepted? Something about the way Sam said it threw her.

“Absolutely!” Erik agreed. “I hope this brings you happiness, Damien.”

“You deserve it.” James said, smiling.

Damien blushed a little, shooting her a shy smile. Mika herself wasn’t sure how to respond.

“Alright.” James said after a moment, “Now that everyone is here, lets start lunch.”

As she took her now customary seat at the head of the table, Damien sitting next to her, she pondered what Sam said.

“Sam,” she asked after mulling it over and finding no satisfactory answers herself, “did you mean anything in particular what you said that I had ‘accepted’ Damien?”

After a pause, Sam swallowed his mouthful of food and said, “Yeah, kinda… From what James said, you’ve accepted Damien into your life, yeah?”

“I, I guess, yeah...” That fit in so much as she accepted him like she accepted Suzu, Niomi, her mother and father into her life, so, she supposed it was accurate.

Damien smiled at that, giving her a warm look.

Sam nodded. “Well, that’s important with situations like this.”

Erik spoke up, “A one sided heart binding can be… difficult. If the binding is not accepted at all, a demon can eventually sicken without it. Literal love sickness.”

Mika cringed a little at that.

“That’s the worst case scenario,” James said. “which can be eased with the help of others the demon is heart bound to. The middle ground is where the binding itself is accepted, but the holder otherwise has no interest in the demon bound to them. In those cases the two often have little to do with each other after that.”

“The ideal,” Erik continued, “Is for the heart bound demon to be accepted fully into the life of their beloved, either as a consort, friend, or servant. That’s what Sam was referring to.”

“Servant…?” She frowned, not liking that.

“That is common, particularly among the nobility, if a demon of lesser rank falls in love them but the binding is one sided. It all depends though, of course.”

Matthew chimed in then, “That’s a pretty major thing in the demon world. There is even this ritual that seeks out individuals that could bind their hearts to the demon the ritual is focused on. It’s done with the express purpose of gaining servants who, through their heart binding, are absolutely loyal to their mistress or master, as well as being able to safely share their powers with them.”

Sam gave a derisive snort at that which Mika cocked an eyebrow at.

Matthew continued, “That ritual is considered so valuable that it is forbidden on pain of death outside of the nobility. There is also a law that forbids more then three individuals to be bound to someone thanks to that ritual at any one time. Breaking that rule has pretty harsh penalties too.”

After a moment to take that in, Mika turned to Sam who was glowering at his plate as he ate. “You don’t approve of that ritual?”

“No.” He responded flatly.

“Why?”

A tense atmosphere fell over the table suddenly and she instantly regretted asking.

Sam sighed tightly, then said, “Because heart bindings are usually mutual.”

“You don’t know that, Sam.” James said with some weariness.

Sam snorted. “Then why is every other instance of it I have ever heard of was because the holder was mad, hated the demon bound to them for some reason, was not a demon themselves, or was stuck so far up their own ass they couldn’t even recognise their own feelings. That fucking ritual does something to block it somehow.”

“You don’t know that.” Matthew said with a similar note of weariness, just as Mika realised that she had stumbled on an old argument between the brothers. “Just because it is rare doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen...”

Erik looked distinctly uncomfortable. “It’s… A long standing tradition, it has it’s place.”

Sam sneered. “A long standing tradition of forcing any poor soul that ritual happens to target out of their lives, homes and families so they can lick the feet of their so called betters.”

“Hay!!” Matthew cried, offended. Erik winced.

“Sam!” James snapped, “You know it isn’t like that!” He seemed insulted, too.

“Oh, so your lot had no lives at all before they were chosen for you, then, huh?”

James glanced away at that, just for a moment, and everything clicked into place for Mika.

“You three have all been through the ritual…” She said out loud, compelled by curiosity as she looked between James, Erik and Matthew. They nodded, looking uncomfortable in the face of Sam’s dirty look. She turned to Sam. “But you didn’t?”

“Fuck no.” Sam said with a hint of pride.

“He refused.” Damien said. “When our father tried to force it, Sam sabotaged the ritual. Twice.”

Sam smirked a little at that. “He should have listened when I said no the first time...”

“Sam,” James said carefully with the air of a diplomat, “you know we care about them. Deeply.”

Sam sighed, “I know... But that’s not the point and you know it. Whatever. Not like it matters anymore.”

Erik said, quietly, “We couldn’t change it even if we wanted to, Sam.”

Sam huffed. “Certainly can’t now. Whatever, lets just eat.”

“Agreed.” James said. The others nodded.

In the tense silence that followed, Mika didn’t dare voice the question that was spinning loudly around her mind; If James, Erik and Matthew had servants who were heart bound to them, that were in love with them, what had happened to them when the brothers came to the human world? She didn’t want to think that they had simply been abandoned as her new experience with Damien made that seem so very cruel, but she didn’t dare ask for clarification.

As lunch resumed and the awkward atmosphere gradually eased, Mika found herself on the receiving end of far more attention then she was used to. First Matthew asked if she liked the food (“Yes, it’s great!”) and enquired if she wanted any more seasoning for it (“Er, no, thank you.”); Sam, who was still sat on the other side of her, refilled her drink without her asking, surprising her, particularly given it was Sam (“Oh! Er… thank you, Sam...”); Erik started up a convocation with her about music, asking what her favourite genre was (“Er, kinda eclectic, I guess? It depends on my mood...”); And James politely enquired how her study of her grandfather’s books was progressing. Damien, however, was silent, his eyes flickering between Mika and his brothers as everyone talked.

“So, you’ve been reading about Demons of Lilith?” James asked, after she mentioned it close to the end of lunch.

“All good stuff I hope.” Sam joked.

Unable to help smiling she shrugged, “Nothing bad anyway. The part about you guys being able to fly though, that’s so cool! How do you do it? Just magic, like Peter Pan, or do you, like, sprout wings or something?”

“Peter Pan?” Erik asked.

Matthew chuckled, “Both, actually. Or, well, either. We have a choice.”

“Oh, that’s so cool…!” She gushed enthusiastically. “What do the wings look like??”

“Think bat wings.” Sam smirked, lounging back in his chair again, having long since finished his food. “Giant bat wings.”

Cool…!!”

James chuckled, “Perhaps at a more appropriate time one of us can show you theirs, if you want to see them.”

“Yes, please!!” She answered immediately and a little loudly. She flinched at her own volume and, suddenly embarrassed, blushed and stammered, “I, er, I-I mean, if, if that’s okay...”

The guys, however, only seemed amused. Sam shrugged, grinning, “Why not?” The other’s, bar Damien who was still staying out of things, agreed.

She nodded, taking a breath, unable to fully repress her grin, “Thank you.”

“Think nothing of it,” Erik said with a smile. “We will be more then happy to accommodate your curiosity if it makes you so happy...”

She couldn’t help but blush at that, thinking of more then just wings. Sam, Erik, and now Damien’s offers for more intimate relations bubbled through her mind and after her time spent with Damien, her curiosity was stocked.

Damn incubi are too damn hot...

The barest of frowns flickered over Damien’s face, there then gone again, too fast for Mika to notice.

Just as she had finished off the last of her rice, Damien touched her hand. “Whatever you want I will provide for you. Anything.” The words were quiet, barely above a whisper and clearly meant just for her. There was an intensity about his eyes though, that contradicted the softness of his voice.

She scrambled for a moment as she tried to work out what he was talking about. When it hit her she blushed, ducking her head.

Shit… She found herself cursing his mindreading again, and then, yet again, reprimanding herself for doing so. She didn’t want to hurt Damien or make things difficult. However, the thought of being boxed in when she was only just starting to explore everything at first frustrated her then made her deflate.

I just need to take a step back… She couldn’t help the glumness that accompanied that thought, the feeling of being caged, like she had been around her parents.

Distracted by her inner conflict she missed the regret and shame that flashed over Damien’s face as he glanced down at his empty plate.

As James and Erik started to clear the dishes, Sam spoke up, “Damien.”

“Mm?” He looked up, seemingly surprised at being spoken to.

Sam smirked, amused, then shook his head. “You’re excused from training for another couple of hours. Your head's not ready to get into it yet. You look like you could trip over your own feet as much as you could land a hit right now.”

Damien frowned and Mika thought he looked mildly insulted. “I’m fine, Sam.”

“Bullshit. And I’m not budging on this, so don’t argue.”

“Take it and run, Damien.” Matthew chuckled, “I would.”

“Agreed.” Erik chirped as he made his way to the kitchen with a load of plates.

Damien made a face, but sighed and nodded.

Mika watched the exchange with both concern for Damien, and curiosity. Sam was in charge of their training? She had expected James since he seemed to be the leader of the five.

With the guys apparently decided on their course of action, leaving Damien as the odd one out, she spoke up, “I guess I am back to reading some more.” She glanced at Damien with a small smile. “You want to join me?”

He relaxed at that, giving her a warm smile in return, “I’d like that.”

With the table cleared everyone headed into the lobby. Mika crossed the threshold just in time to see James kneeling to touch a spot on the floor right next to the wall. A line of purple symbols flared to life around the edge of the room, bar a small triangle of space at the bottom of each of the twin staircases. Looking around she noticed that all extra furniture had been removed too, which she hadn’t paid any attention to earlier. Damien walked over to where Erik was waiting by the main doors and began speaking to him, voice too low for her to hear.

Matthew stepped up next to her from where he had been the last to leave the dining room. She said to him, voicing the first conclusion that came to her mind, “You’re training in here?”

“Yep.”

“Why? Isn’t it easier to just train outside like before?”

“Weeeell, we just thought it would be smart to play it safe, ya know? I mean, Malix probably wont make a move during the day while we train buuut...” He shrugged as he tailed off.

“So… It’s really true then? Them watching?” She asked, stomach clenching.

Matthew hesitated a moment before saying, voice soft but tone serious, “Yeah… The divination spell we set up confirmed it.”

She nodded, a cold shiver running down her spine. “… What’s James doing?” She asked, both trying to distract herself from her fear and simply curious.

“Charging a barrier spell, demon only so it wont affect you. It’s so we don’t wind up accidentally putting holes into walls, or the floor, or whatever...”

“Oh… That’s… Thoughtful.” She commented weakly. What kind of training are they doing that that is something they are worried about??

After a slight pause Matthew said lightly as he watched Mika out of the corner of his eye, “I’m just glad we have the energy to cast it.”

“It… costs a lot to cast?” Mika frowned.

“Eh… Moderate, I guess? It’s not that bad, we’re just being really strict about keeping energy in reserve ready for a fight. Its a relief we can still train without worrying about smashing up your house, though.”

“Right...” She replied thoughtfully, frowning slightly.

Mika and Damien left the other four after that, before James finished the barrier so Damien didn’t have to worry about following procedure to get past it. Matthew watched them leave, his expression neutral but his eyes held a keen edge.

Mika was quiet as they made their way to the study, lost in thought. After Damien closed the door behind them she began to go through the motions of getting the books out.

“May I sit next to you again while you read?” He asked.

Smiling, she replied, honestly happy at the thought, “Yeah. I’d like that.”

After they had both settled, her hand absent mindedly petting his hair as he sat by her, her mind wasn’t able to focus on the books. Instead, it was caught on the topic of energy and how the guys could get it now they were effectively surrounded.

“Damien?” She asked, fighting nervousness from what she was planning to talk about.

“Hmm?”

“You guys burn energy just to live, right?”

“A very small amount, yes.”

“… And, you can get energy just from touch, yeah? Like hand holding? You did that to get enough energy to heal that first day, right?”

“Yes.”

“… It’s not a lot though, is it? Getting energy through touch?”

“… It would keep us alive and healthy...” There was a slight note of hesitancy in his voice now.

“But not much more then that?”

“… No.”

“A, a kiss gives more then touch?”

“Yes… And sex gives the most.” He was very still sat besides her. “Mika… If you choose to have sex, please, do it only because you want to, not because you think we need energy.”

She understood that he wanted to protect her, which she thought was sweet, but at the same time she felt she needed to know how all this worked. Her own curiosity aside, they were, for now, effectively under siege and the three kisses she had experienced thus far that had included energy drain had knocked her out for hours.

She sighed shakily, butterflies dancing in her belly. “How much do you get from, from s-sex?”

He shifted besides her slightly. “That would depend… On how many times you, um, cum.”

Oh. My. God...

“O-oh?” She knew there was more to that question that she wanted to say but suddenly her mind just didn’t want to cooperate with her voice. She was glad she was sitting down.

He sighed. “Once is enough to satisfy any hunger. More is, ah, a bonus.”

“C-compared to a, a kiss?” Again she was certain she could have worded that better.

“… Its like… A glass of water compared to a jug.”

“Just for...”

“Just for one orgasm, yes...”

Bit of a difference then… wow… It made sense, since sex - to say nothing of orgasms – when done well, was far more pleasurable then any kiss, and it was that pleasure they fed on.

She took a deep, shuddering breath, suddenly feeling very, very warm. “And, er, how quickly would someone b-be knocked out from that?”

“That would depend on the person. It’s a lot more efficient, so we can get more energy from that before someone is drained. Only someone already low on energy, or sick, would be drained after one orgasm.”

She nodded, thinking she had the general idea. That's a huge difference, compared to a kiss...

There was one last point she wanted to confirm, though it took a little while to work her mouth as her brain was starting to spin on lust. At last she managed, “If I, erm… If I were to have s-sex with, with you and if I… er, m-more then once...” She trailed off, flustered, then decided to just give up; he was a mindreader, for once she was going to deliberately lean on that.

Damien gave the barest of breath of laughter at that thought, then said in answer to her unfinished question, “I would share the extra with my brothers, yes.”

She nodded and let out a shaky sigh. So, they would all benefit, just like they did after Erik returned after the party…

“Mika, please, don’t feel this is something you have to do, not for our sakes.” He said, turning carefully to look up at her.

“If I,” She took a breath, struggling to focus, “If I just use kisses to help I, I am going to be spending a lot of time unconscious.” She pointed out.

“There are other options we can use...”

“Like?”

Damien shifted, very uncomfortable all of a sudden. “Escorts.”

It took a moment for her to remember what he was talking about. “… Prostitutes?”

“Mm. Sam is also fast enough to bypass most forms of surveillance, he might be able to get to the city and back again safely. I have a fair change of getting out, too.”

Might? ... A chance?"

Damien didn’t respond.

She frowned, lips thinning. Prostitutes, or Sam or Damien potentially being in danger. Neither of those options sat well with her. As much as she hated the idea of Sam or Damien being in danger, it didn’t feel right to invite anyone over either; if she wasn’t willing to risk her friends, it would be hypocritical for her to risk anyone else.

“Mika...”

“I, I wont deny that I’m… curious. But, er, you know that...” She glanced down at him. An idea struck her then. “Um, with kisses though… since I would be going to sleep anyway, perhaps a, er, goodnight kiss would be okay…?”

The tension melted from his face and he smiled. “I would like that, very much.”

“Okay.” She said, relieved. “We’ll, we’ll call that a plan, then...”

Damien nodded and smiled, and settled back into his former position, resting against her leg.

When Mika turned back to the book however, the words on the page almost swam her concentration was so far away. She was curious, so very, very curious about what the guys offered in terms of sex. Her curiosity almost exploded – as did her libido – when she realized that, if their partner’s orgasm was their best source of energy, then them being able to perform well was not just in their partners best interest, but their own.

The fabled supernatural masters of sex...

Suddenly incredibly conscious of Damien, the heat emanating from him, she realized this research session was pretty much doomed at this point. It didn’t escape her that she hadn’t learned anything, at least, not from the book.

With a trembling hand she closed the journal. “I think... I think I’m done for now...”

“I can leave, if that would help.” He offered, straitening up.

She paused, frowning as she remembered that, with the new heart binding, it seemed good for Damien to stay close to her, at least for now. “No, it’s fine...”

She sighed shakily, trying to think of some way to pass the time. Her mind kept circling back to one thing, however;

Sex.

A part of her wanted to scream. Another part of her wanted to scream in a very different way.

Damien gave her leg a slight nudge.

“Hmm?”

“I said we could always watch TV again.” He said, amused.

“Oh I...” She blushed remembering exactly what had happened when he had suggested they watch TV earlier. She almost moaned. “Maybe not...”

He smiled and she almost moaned again at the slight coy tone in his voice, “I can promise that nothing will happen, if that helps.”

She closed her eyes and fought down a groan. The problem was she wanted the opposite of that. “Erm...”

Damien sighed, growing sombre, “Mika, please, don’t worry about me… If you need to work through things alone, do it. I'll be fine by myself, I promise.”

As much as she wanted to help him, things were starting to become unbearable for her. “Y-you sure?”

“Yes.”

She took a breath, trying not to feel bad about taking the way out he was offering. As much as part of her wanted to jump him, or have him jump her, she was fearful of regretting it later. Her mind swam with her fantasies. “Okay...”

As she packed the books away, Damien stayed put on the floor rather then getting up to help her. Just as Mika was putting the laptop back, she looked over to him as he peeked over the desk.

“You alright?” She asked, concerned.

“I… need a minuet. You go.” Damien said lightly. She tilted her head, curious and still concerned. He sighed, cheeks a little flushed. “I don’t want to embarrass you.”

“Why would you...” He glanced down at his lap briefly, pointedly, then back up at her. She spun on her heel, unable to keep looking at him as she finally understood. She squeaked, “O-okay! I-I’ll er, see you later!”

“Yeah...”

She had to admit to herself, as she sped out of the study, it was pleasing to know he was affected as much as she was.

Chapter Text

 

Later, after a quick cool shower and change of underwear, Mika decided to spend a little time trying to relax in her room, just thinking about the guys. Lounging on the bed, she let her mind wander as she gingerly massaged her lower belly; so much unresolved arousal in such a short space of time was starting to give her cramp; female blue balls. She had been sorely tempted to dig through her bags – she still hadn’t unpacked – for one particular box she had brought with her to take care of her frustrations herself, but couldn’t bring herself to do it when she remembered Damien would hear it. True, she was debating having sex with him anyway but it was still a line she hadn’t crossed yet.

She sighed deeply as she thought about him; So much had changed in just a few hours. To literally feel the love someone else felt for her was out of this world and suffice to say, it had changed her perspective on him. She found herself trusting him more and caring for him to a degree that surprised her. True, she couldn’t call her feelings love, but she couldn’t say that she didn’t reciprocate at least some of the care he felt either. It was like some kind of relationship short cut and Mika found that she didn’t mind it at all; in fact, thinking about him made her smile.

Her experiences with Damien had given her her first look into something she had only fantasised about previously; relationships and sexuality. It wasn’t just the kisses that were drawing her attention either, it was everything else too; like cuddling with him on the sofa after they had made out, how incredibly happy he had been to wake up in her arms, or sharing in the laughter with him and his brothers at breakfast, or just simply being cared for and thought of, such as with the attention all the guys had shown her over lunch.

She found herself wanting more of that in a way that was more then just curiosity. She hadn’t lied to Erik when she said her favourite past time was spending time with her friends, and now Damien, and perhaps some of his brothers too, had offered her relationships that could be just as close as that, if not closer. That thought made her smile, too.

The suddenness of everything was still a little disturbing however; she had never experienced this much attraction to anyone before, certainly not this quickly. Damien she could understand given the events of the morning, but the others? Yes, she’d had crushes before, admired beautiful and interesting people, even fantasised about them, but this was on a whole other level. And a group of near strangers all at once? All of them incubi? This was undeniably odd and she couldn’t help but think magic was at work here.

As she tried to think about any time when they might have used magic on her other then what she had already noticed - just in case -, there was a knock on her door.

“Come in.” She called after just a moment of internal debate. Yes, she was troubled, but she didn’t think hiding would help.

The door opened a little to reveal Sam. “Hay.”

“Oh, hay Sam.” She said, surprised, sitting up to perch crossed legged in the middle of the bed.

“Just letting you know we are on break for an hour or so. James had some bright idea in the middle of training and wanted to explore it.”

“And that meant calling time for all of you?” She asked, a little amused at how nonchalant Sam was about it.

Sam shrugged, pushing the door open a little more and taking a step inside. “Meh. Erik decided it was a good idea and wanted to help out, and Matthew jumped at the chance to keep messing with whatever he is working on now. Damien still doesn’t have the head for it and since I’m not exactly in the mood to train alone, that was that.”

“You got nothing to do now, huh?”

He shrugged again and after a long pause that almost made her giggle, he asked, “Sooo… What you up to?”

“Thinking.” She replied honestly. The reminder had her automatically looking Sam over; his physique, his face, his startlingly green eyes...

God, he is ridiculously hot...

“I er,” He shuffled his feet, “I don’t want to disturb you. You want me to go?”

That he was even asking like that proved he wanted to stay and she couldn’t help but smile, shaking her head, “No, it’s fine. Have a seat.”

He nodded and walked over to the chair by the bed. She couldn’t help but smirk a little when she noticed he looked uncomfortable.

So adorkable…

Sam frowned a little, “What’s with the look?”

She ducked her head with a small blush, caught, before shaking her head, “Nothing.”

“Hmh… So, what you thinkin’ about?”

She sighed, debating with herself. After a moment she asked, “Erm… Sam, aside from the enthralment spell, the one you used when we met, do you guys have any other abilities to, to influence people like that?”

He frowned. “Influence how?”

“Like the enthralment spell, but, maybe weaker?”

“Oh. Well... Our enthralment power isn’t just one thing. That spell is just one of the basic ways we use it.”

“How else do you use it?”

“That’s weaker then that…?”

“Yeah...”

“… You think one of us has been using our powers on you?” He asked, sounding concerned.

She took a breath to steady herself. “I… don’t know.” At his continued concerned look she explained. “I… Well… The last few days I don’t...” She sighed, trying to put her feelings into words and not feel too embarrassed about it. “I don’t think any human as ever… affected me the way you guys do. And it’s just… weird.”

A look of realisation flickered over Sam’s face. “…It’s in our aura.”

“What?”

“You know, the aura, the energy field that sounds anything living?”

“I, I’ve heard of that but I mean… Your enthralment magic is in your aura?” He nodded. “… So, you are surround by it?”

Sam nodded again, “Yeah, but it’s really subtle, most people can’t actually feel it. It’s stronger when we are aroused though, or just need energy.”

Aroused… like Damien was earlier, at least twice… Out loud she said, “So you don’t control it?”

“No. It’s just part of what we are.”

“Right… Soooo, you guys are surrounded by this subtle enthralment effect constantly?” She said, taking it in. That would explain it… So its like a constant charm effect...? She pondered to herself.

“Only a little...” He said with a slight wince.

“Right…” She nodded, glancing away slightly, feeling a little exposed now her curiosity was sated.

“Does that answer your question?” He asked carefully.

“Mhm...” She nodded.

“Does that... bother you?”

“I...” She took a breath, thinking, before letting it out in a big exhale, “I dunno...” That they couldn’t control it tipped the balance for her, from mildly disturbing to inconvenient and maybe awkward.

“Hm… You want me to leave?”

She glanced at him then shook her head; she didn’t want him to leave, she liked his company and if this aura thing wasn’t something they controlled she decided then she might as well just ignore it and try to get used to it.

An uncomfortable silence descended then while she thought.

“Hay, you alright?” Sam’s concerned voice cut through her concentration.

“Hm?”

He waved a hand towards her lower abdomen and she realised belatedly she had been kneading it a little where her hands rested in her lap.

“Oh.” She blushed. “It’s nothing, just cramp.”

“You want some help with that?”

Mika went wide eyed, face turning scarlet as she stared at him, her mind immediately thinking about sex.

Sam, on the other hand, looked confused. “What?”

“I, I...”

“I’m offering you a massage, doofus.”

“… O-oh! Oh, right!” She squeaked, not entirely certain weather she was feeling relieved or not.

“What did you think I was offering?” Sam was out right smirking, amused.

“N-nothing!” She squeaked again, cringing slightly.

“Nothing, huh?” He narrowed his eyes, tilting his head to the side a little as he regarded her. “Cuz’ you’re acting like...” He trailed off, his eyes widening slightly, “… Oh...”

“It’s n-nothing, I’m fine.” Her voice was still far too tight for her liking.

He glanced away, the barest hint of pink on his cheeks. “I see…” He cleared his throat in the short silence that followed then said, “You don’t have to suffer with that. Not like you’re short on offers around here now if you want… help.”

She groaned, head falling forward into her hands. “I… T-this is all so… Everything's happening so, so quickly...”

“I know.” His tone was sympathetic.

She wasn’t quite sure why, and the only thing she could put it down to was that Sam seemed so very honest himself, but she felt like she wanted to be honest with him. “I-I thought about, um, fixing this m-myself but… With Damien here, I just… Couldn’t.” she finished quietly.

“Heh, don’t worry about him.” Sam sounded both a little amused yet reassuring. “He grew up with his mindreading, it wouldn’t bother him. Back in the demon world he had the whole castle in his head since before he was born.”

She looked up at that, blinking. She hadn’t thought about that and it put an entirely new spin on her perception of the sort of experiences Damien might have had.

“Besides,” Sam added with a shrug, “He’s an incubus. Why would he be bothered by that?”

“You are.” She pointed out.

Sam froze before glancing away awkwardly. “I’m not bothered by it, exactly… I just… I just get uncomfortable sometimes.” He said, completely contradicting himself. There was something distant about his eyes suddenly and she didn’t like it.

“I-I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything...” She said regretfully.

He shrugged. “It’s fine… So, erm, you want me to stay? It wouldn’t have to be sex if you want help with that, there are other ways to do it.” There was a hint of determination in Sam’s voice, and the look in his eye, while still a little distant, had a strange hardness to it.

The shift was so sudden she almost felt like it gave her whiplash. She gapped, the rush of heat through her body at his very blunt offer made her shiver. “I-I-I, er-”

“You’ve clearly been wanting something if you’re in this state. I’m just saying, I can help. No strings, your rules.”

Starting from her second kiss with Sam, then to her first kiss with Damien, through Erik’s flirting in her dream, and the experiences with Damien that morning and her talk with him about energy after lunch, and her body was now begging for some sort of release. Even Erik and James’ faux flirtatious game at breakfast had been a little bit of a turn on. The guys were hot, definitely willing - out right eager even – and effectively promised a very good time given what they were if nothing else. The want and her curiosity was strong enough that even the strangeness of Sam’s sudden turn wasn’t enough to drown it out. One thought did get in the way though, and she frowned.

“What is it?” Sam asked.

“I… What about Damien…?”

“I told you, it wont bother him.” He said matter of factly with a shrug.

“I, I mean, I don’t want him to feel hurt...” Her voice was quiet, hesitant.

Sam was quiet for a moment and she glanced back up at him. He sighed then asked seriously, “Did you agree to an exclusive relationship with him?”

“No… But he didn’t hide the fact that he wouldn’t be happy if...” She waved her hand as shyness claimed her words.

He was frowning now. “Did he say why?”

She sighed, “He said… He said he wants to try and have a relationship with me. A serious one.”

“’Course.”

“And that he knows humans are more likely to tie sex and relationships together. And only have one partner.”

“Ah...”

“Yeah… He sort of has a point I guess. I mean, many humans do…” Then she added, almost to herself as she pondered the matter, “But, not always...”

Sam was silent for a moment before saying seriously, “You haven’t agreed to anything with him beyond simply accepting him in your life, right? So, whatever his connection to you, it would be wrong for him to make any demands of you now because of it.”

“He said he wouldn’t.” She spoke up quickly, a little defensive of Damien. “… He just admitted that, that he wouldn’t like it...” She trailed off, feeling a little glum.

Sam was watching her intently. “You’re feeling trapped, aren’t you?”

“I, I never said-”

“You don’t have to. It’s true though, isn’t it?”

She opened her mouth to protest but in the sprit of honesty… couldn’t. She slumped, bringing her hands up to massage her temples. “I like Damien, I don’t want to hurt him. I’d feel awful if I did.”

“And he’d feel terrible if he thought he was hurting you by making you hold back when you don’t want to.” He continued before she could say anything. “You know he can hear everything we are saying, right? If you wanna speak you gotta think it first, even if the thought is just a split second sooner. The moment your head puts something into words or pictures or sounds, he hears it. That means we’ve had this entire convocation and Damien hasn’t tried to intervene, even knowing what’s going on.”

She blinked at that, both at the revelation of just how extensive Damien’s power really was, and at the emotion Sam’s words prompted.

So… He meant it? He really meant it? It’s my choice, all of it? He wont interfere…?

“But… What if he’s asleep?” She asked, remembering that particular gap in his ability.

“He ain’t. I know because he’s the reason I came to see you in the first place. I ran into him just as I was leaving the lobby. He suggested I come talk to you.”

“… What…??”

Sam shrugged. “I just figured you had stuff on your mind and wanted to talk to someone about it. I did ask why he didn’t wanna go see you himself, but he just said he didn’t want to crowd you after spending the morning with you.”

“I-” She frowned then let out a slight huff of disbelieving laughter. “He, he set us up??”

Sam snorted. “Technically that would be up to you but… Eh. Looks like.”

“I… I never would have thought he’d do that...”

“Heh. Ever heard the phrase, beware the quiet ones? Hehe.” Mika went wide eyed. Sam chuckled, “Relax, he’s fine. More playful then he looks, though... And smarter then he makes out. He had to be- heck, we all had to be, where we came from.”

“Oh...”

She wasn’t quite sure how to handle this. Damien really had seemed to have set her up with Sam, at least for the moment anyway. After the way he had talked about not wanting her to be with any of his brothers, or anyone else for that matter, this was the last thing she had expected and she couldn’t help but wonder what may have changed his mind- if he had really changed his mind.

She set her mouth in a determined line. “Just a moment, Sam.” She got up and headed for the door.

“What, are you seriously gonna question him about this?” He called after her, amused.

“Yeah. Just checking.” She called back as she left the room.

Stepping out into the corridor she hesitated, having no idea where to look for Damien. Hoping to hear him talking to one of the others so she could pinpoint his location, she headed for the lobby. She wasn’t surprised when she she got there to see him waiting by the bottom of the stairs. He gave her a small smile.

Taking a breath to steady herself, she asked, “What are you doing?”

“Trying to look after you.” He answered seriously. “Some things have been progressing too quickly and I thought this might help some of the pressure you’ve been feeling.”

“In more ways then one?” She asked, making herself blush.

“If that is what you want.” He replied, still serious but kind.

She didn’t know what to feel at that point. “This is… This is ridiculous.”

“Why?” He asked, starting to climb the stairs.

“Because just this morning you said you didn’t want anything like this, and now you’re setting it up deliberately? Why?” She felt her voice raise and didn’t know why.

“Because you have been starting to feel trapped because of me. I wont allow that.”

“I...”

“I love you. Love should never feel like a cage and I will do whatever I need to do so you don’t feel like that. I want to earn your heart, not push you away...” He said as he finally reached her at the top of the stairs. “I love you.” he repeated, solemnly.

“Damien...” She didn’t know what to say. This all still felt weird but there was no denying the emotion behind what Damien was saying. She felt touched. Mika sighed, “Isn’t this a bit of an, erm, extreme solution, though?”

“You’re curious. I don’t want to hurt you by stifling that.” He reached forward to touch her arm lightly. “Perhaps in time you and I might have a serious relationship, maybe even exclusive one. Right now, you like Sam… very much like how you like me…”

She glanced away at that, but nodded regardless.

“He likes you too…”

“I… Damien...” She sagged slightly, her protests fading.

“Whatever happens is up to you… I’ve just made certain you can see the options in front of you.”

Mika snorted, a little overwhelmed again. “That’s one way to put it...”

Damien stepped back, chuckling. He smiled mischievously as he started to make his way towards the guest bedrooms. “You should get back, Sam’s getting nervous… Oh, and Erik wasn’t kidding when he said Sam likes it when people he likes approach him first.”

“I-I...” She wasn’t certain what to say, flustered all of a sudden as the situation hit her.

Just as he was about to disappear around a corner, Damien turned to her, “Just, be happy, Mika, whatever you do.”

“Thank you...” She responded, quietly, unsure of what else to say as she watched him go.

Alone at the top of the stairs she took a breath and froze.

Shit.

There was a man in her room. And he had offered to help her cum. And his brother, who loved her, really seemed okay with this. And she was house sharing with them and three more of their brothers. And they were all demons. Incubi. And literally supernaturally hot.

“Oh, holy hell… Fuck!!

Damien had effectively just set her up with Sam… And he was okay with it. Before she knew what she was doing she was walking quickly back to the master bedroom, fretting to herself.

Stepping back into the room she froze, unsure of what to say.

Sam froze too where he had been pacing by the window.

“This is weird.” She blurted before he could say anything.

“O-oh?” He stammered.

“Yeah. Weird.” She said as she went to sit back on the bed with a huff.

“What’s weird?” He asked, watching her curiously and a little warily as he walked back around to her side of the bed.

“This!” She waved her hands in the air in flustered nervousness. “This is!”

“You’re gonna have to be a little more specific...”

“Damien is your brother.”

“Well, I’m not exactly planning on fucking him any time soo- Wait, you don’t think we do that, do you??”

Mika couldn’t help but burst out luaghing at the face he made, which made his opinion on that matter more then clear. When she had more or less composed herself and Sam was sat back in the chair again, she shrugged, “Well… Well I dunno! You guys are… strange!”

“I’d say you are the strange one, from our perspective...” He said giving her a look that made her giggle. Sam shook his head. “Alright, just to clear this up now, no, my brothers and I have no interest in each other like that. The closest any of us have ever come to that is sharing partners or, well, being involved in group sex at the same time. But that’s it.”

Mika was frozen, wide eyed. “Sh-sharing p-partners…??” She stammered faintly.

“Yeah… You know, threesomes? Four...? I… haven’t done it myself, but the others all have.” he admitted awkwardly.

Oh. Dear. Lord…!!!

She felt her face burn as that revelation opened up a whole new world of possibilities that nearly made her moan. “A-a-and when you s-say g-group…?”

Sam was trying and failing to repress a smirk, clearly amused. “I mean orgies and the like, yeah...”

Fuck...” she whispered, face aglow.

“Yeah, that’s the general idea.” he teased.

“S-Sam...!”

Sam laughed.

Groaning, she buried her face in her hands, before she winced and dropped a hand to kneed her abdomen again.

“Hay,” Sam said softly, concerned, as he reach over to lightly touch her knee. “It’s alright...”

Mika felt a small pleasant shiver run up her spine just from that slight touch. Flustered, uncertain of herself, she found herself talking just to ease her nervous tension. “Y-you ever done the, the g-group thing?”

Sam was quiet for a moment before he said, “Twice. Once when some of the others were around, once when they weren't.” His tone wasbland.

“Y-you make it sound like, like no big deal...” She still had her face hidden behind her hand, unable to look up.

“They weren’t. I mean, yeah its fun I guess, sort of, and both timesmy energy got so high I was practically bouncing off the walls for over a week… But, meh.”

“Meh?” She peered up at him at that, cheeks still burning.

Sam made a face. “They’re just… Impersonal. Completely impersonal. You just… fuck and move on, and on and on… That’s all. I guess I… I just prefer sex to be more… intimate.” He was blushing by the time he finished talking.

She blinked. “Is that why you, you haven’t had as many p-partners as the others?”

He shrugged, blush darkening. “Maybe...”

“Oh...”

How sweet...

Something in the air changed after that. In the quiet that followed she found herself glancing at him shyly until Sam moved to sit next to her on the bed. She twitched when he went to rest his hand lightly on her back.

“Hay,” He said, voice soft, “Relax, okay? I wont hurt you.”

She flashed him a half smile, not able to meet his eye. “I know.”

“…You really want this?”

“I...” She trailed off as she thought, but not for long as the loud voice of her body, and the persistent nagging of her curiosity, drowned out everything else.

Besides, a small voice in the back of her mind reasoned, with Sam here I can give them more energy then I could with just a kiss.

Soon she said, “I-I think I would regret it if you left… S-so, yeah… I, I guess I do...”

“Alright...” He said with a slight sigh, then added, “You can back out at any time, alright?Any time. Any point, just say. No hard feelings if you do, alright?”

She sighed a little and nodded, comforted by his words.

He smiled, rubbing small circles on her back. “Good. I get that it might not be easy, but I need you to talk to me, okay? Anything I do that you like or don’t like, tell me. Particularly if you don’t enjoy it or don’t want it.”

She sighed again, relaxing a little, soothed as much by his tone as by what he was saying.

“You ever done anything like this before?” He asked, voice still soft.

She shook her head. “N-not with a partner...”

“Alright… Just try to relax. The important stuff is just instinct, your body knows what to do, so, just try to feel it out, okay? And don’t worry about reciprocating, this is just to help you.”

She nodded, taking a deep breath, closing her eyes as she took in the warmth of his hand on her back. The thought of not reciprocating niggled, but mostly her nervousness made the thought comforting; it was one less pressure, one less thing to worry about.

Sam shuffled a little closer on the bed and she could feel his body heat down her side. “You have any idea of what you want, how far you wanna go?”

She paused then said, hesitantly, “Not too far, not yet...”

“Right. Do you wanna keep your clothes on?”

“I… Yeah, yeah that sounds like a good idea.”

“Okay. I suggest you go down to a t-shirt or something though, you’re gonna get real hot otherwise... Not yet though, I wanna help you relax first.”

“Hm?”

“I was thinking a massage would be good, to get you in the right head space.”

Oh… Yeah, that sounds good.” She perked up a little at that.

“Alright...”

With that, Sam moved his hand from her back and, to her surprise, took one of her hands in both of his.

She watched, transfixed, as he began to run his thumbs over the palm of her hand, gently at first then more firmly, massaging the pads of her hand then carefully working her joints. As he worked she glanced up at his face, taking in his features up close; how his brow was slightly furrowed as he concentrated, the brilliance of his eyes, the shape of his lips.

Right around the point her hand was starting to feel pleasantly boneless, he started to move up her arm, carefully working her wrist and then her forearm though her clothes, using small kneading motions and tiny circles that didn’t drag or catch the fabric.

She sighed deeply, starting to relax and smile a little despite her nerves.

When Sam was done he moved on to her other hand and forearm, repeating the process. After that, he kneeled behind her on the bed, working from her elbow up to her shoulder, first one arm then the other. By the time he got to her shoulders and neck, she was starting to melt. His touch was firm but careful, and his hands so warm they soothed even through her clothes.

As his fingers gently and carefully worked the sides of her neck he asked, “You wanna try kissing in a bit? Or you wanna skip that part?”

“Hmmm? … Ooh… Yeah… I’d like that...” She hummed, relaxed and feeling very happy with her choice by this point, and more then a little bit spoiled. The talk of kissing ignited a spark of fire in her that made a shiver run through her. “You’re very good at this...”

“Thanks...”

After he was done with her neck and shoulders he worked down her back, using lighter, longer strokes now, less of a massage and more a simple soothing touch. By this point Mika was feeling like putty in his hands and was loving every moment of it. When he ran his hands down her sides, brushing the top of her hips, she gasped and shuddered, the fire in her belly flaring.

Looking over her shoulder at him for the first time all she wanted was to kiss him, and by the look in his eyes he was feeling the same. She closed the distance first, leaning back so she wound up resting her shoulder against his chest. Sam moaned into the kiss, a low sound that rumbled through him in a way she found inexplicably pleasing to hear.

Sam’s kiss was careful, hesitant at first but he quickly relaxed, setting a slow, sensual tone. Her mind couldn’t help but note differences between him and Damien, like how Sam’s lips were a little chapped, how clearly restrained he was, and the differences in their scent. She also noticed that even without an enthralment spell, she liked this far better then their first kiss back when they first met.

Maintaining the kiss, Sam shuffled around her until he was almost by her side again, one arm around her back. Distracted by their kiss, she didn’t fully register him pressing his other arm under her knees. It wasn’t until he straightened, picking her up bridal style as though she weighed nothing, that she realised what he was doing.

She broke their kiss with a startled yelp as she flung her arms around his neck. “Ah! Sam!”

“Hehehe… Relax, doofus, I got ya...”

She giggled despite herself. “Damnit, Sam, you could have warned me!”

“Well, then you wouldn’t be laughing now, would ya?”

“Sam!” She scolded him, though she was grinning widely.

Sam chuckled as he moved them to the middle of the bed, laying her down with her head on the pillows then settling down on his side next to her. He wasted no time in leaning in for another kiss, which she reciprocated eagerly. Just as she was loosing track of the rest of the room he pulled back and she whined at the loss.

He smiled, lust in his eyes, before growing serious. “Forgot to ask; When you cum, if I’m touching your skin I wont be able to help but feed on your energy. Its an automatic thing, I wont be able to stop it.

“Oh.” Was all she said, mind still happily caught on the feelings he had been giving her and not particularly caring about anything else.

“Is it alright with you if that happens? Our partners orgasm is the biggest hit of energy we can get and-”

“Yes, Sam, it’s fine.” She interrupted him impatiently. “I know about this already. Can we get back to kissing?” A part of her knew this would probably make her blush to remember later but at that moment she was too aroused to care.

Sam blinked then chuckled. “Take that hoody off first.”

She complied, sitting up quickly and tugging it off over her head without a second thought, tossing it to one side. As she settled back down Sam slid an arm under her waist, his hand tucking under her t-shirt to rest on the bare skin of her back as they went in to continue their kiss.

Soon, Sam trailed his free hand down her side and over her hip, then down further still to rest on her thigh. Mika moaned into the kiss, pressing against his lips more urgently. Sam seemed to take that as a sign, as he used his arm under her waist to roll her onto her side, facing him, then pulled her leg up and hooked it over his waist.

Mika gasped, breaking the kiss to look down their bodies and the new more intimate position they were in.

“You alright?” Sam asked, a little breathless.

“Yeah… What, what are you planning?”

“Just gonna touch you, nothing more. It’s just easier like this. That alright?”

Mika knew she was far gone when she realised just how disappointed she was that that was all he was planning. Part of her wanted to protest yet all her voice managed to say was a shaky, “Y-yeah...”

“Good.” Sam’s voice was thick with lust but his eyes held determination and control.

As they kissed again, Sam’s hand alternated between kneading her thigh gently, then stroking up to her hip, then back again. Every time his touch strayed close to her behind she shivered until eventually, she moaned into their kiss, “More… Please...”

This time when his touch reached her hip he kept going, brushing over her ass then cupping her cheek firmly, making her gasp then moan. Her fingers dug into the back of his neck where she held him, nails dragging over his skin, making him growl which in turn made her tremble pleasantly. She was keenly aware of his hand as it slid down towards her crotch, his touched muffled by the fabric of her jeans which she suddenly regretted wanting to keep on.

She yelped when his fingers lightly brushed her crotch, her hyper sensitive skin sending a shock through her body that was almost painful, even softened by two layers of fabric.

“It’s alright.” Sam mumbled against her lips. “It’ll get better.”

His next touch was more firm as he pressed his entire palm against her, the heel of his hand over her clit and his fingers pressing lightly over her entrance. She moaned loudly, hips bucking against him, then hissed at how tender she felt.

“That’s right.” Sam said, breaking the kiss to lean his head against hers as she began to pant for air. “Move like that. If it feels good, do it.”

Using the leg that was hooked over his waist for leverage, she pressed herself against his hand, biting her lip to stifle her moans.

He leaned in, pressing a light kiss against her mouth. “Don’t fight it...”

Sam...” She moaned, complying and letting go just that little bit more.

Sam closed his eyes and took a deep steadying breath.

Mika grit her teeth as she ground herself against his hand, Sam flexing his fingers more firmly against her cloth covered entrance. Her body throbbed but she was so tender she hovered a knife edge away from pain.

“Sam...” She whined, wanting to convey what she was going through but unable to put it into words.

“Trust me. Just a little more...”

Sam pressed his fingers harder against her as she pressed down on him and that pressure lit something in her; She craved more of it, suddenly wanting nothing more then to fuck him, to feel him inside her and have that ache that demanded to be filled satisfied.

“Sam-!”

Suddenly the heat of his enthralment spell crashed through her, strong and forceful, and every nerve in her body lit up. Before she knew what was happening her back was arching, her head thrown back in a scream as her body convulsed. Her vision turned white as her orgasm overtook her. Sam held her has she shook, his hand on her back planted firmly on her skin as a wave after wave of energy drained from her, making her light headed and prolonging her high.

When she finally collapsed boneless in his arms, panting and dazed, Sam held her close and rested his head on hers. The energy drain and his enthralment stopped with the last wave of pleasure as she coasted into afterglow. Sam moved his hand from her crotch to rest on her hip, thumb stroking back and forth over the top of her jeans.

For a little while she just lay there, catching her breath, snuggled up to Sam.

“You good?” He asked softly, voice a little tight as he looked down at her with lowered eyelids, pupils blown in lust.

She hummed contentedly, her eyes closed as she basked in his warmth and her afterglow.

Sam chuckled. “Good. Hay, just so you don’t get uncomfortable later, I wanna use some magic to get you cleaned up, okay?”

“Hmm...”

“Heh, kinda want a definite yes or no to that one...”

“Mmm… ‘Kay...”

“Alright...”

She shivered and moaned at the warmth that rolled over her crotch, pleasant and soothing. Distantly she remembered how Matthew had used magic to clean her up after her crying session during the party.

“Done… Sorry for making this so short by the way, didn’t think you could have handled much more with the state you started in…”

She hummed again, more an acknowledgement that he had spoken then anything else.

Sam grinned and nuzzled her hair. “Glad you approve...”

“Mmhmm...”

“Hehehe… God, you’re adorable...”

“Hmmm…”

Sam grinned as he held her closer.

There was a soft knock at the door. Damien’s voice sounded from the other side of it, “It’s me… May I join you?”

“Mmm...” She hummed.

“That a yes?” Sam asked, looking proud and amused.

“Mhmm...”

“I think she says yes.” Sam called in the direction of the door.

The door was already opening as he spoke, Damien peering around it, looking almost as amused as Sam. Wordlessly, smiling, Damien made his way over to the bed after closing the door behind him. He crawled over to where Sam and Mika lay before spooning up behind her, Sam moving his arm out of the way reluctantly. Damien nuzzled against her neck, the skin on skin contact and the awareness of his love through the link made her sigh.

“I’m glad you’re happy...” Damien said, muffled by her shoulder.

“Mhmm...” She sighed deeply. “That… that was like…” she giggled, “Like getting hit by a bus. Only with an orgasm instead of death… Thank you.”

Sam laughed, “Oh, wow… Never heard it put like that before! Alright! You’re welcome. Hehehe...” His laughter trailed off into a moan. “… Fuck...”

Damien chuckled, “If you want to go take care of that, just go, Sam.”

“Hmh. It’s alright for you, you’ve already scratched your itch.”

“It’s up to you...”

Mika opened her eyes at that, taking in Sam’s flushed cheeks, his heavy lidded gaze. He was practically radiating carefully contained lust.

Oh…

Sam pouted, “Eh, I’m tempted to just wait for it to go, I don’t wanna move. It’s been too long since I just cuddled like this.”

Damien said, casually, “You know you only need to ask for things like that.”

“Yeah, but with coming to the human world and all...”

“Sam,” Mika spoke up, “I know about demons of Lilith being really, er, tactile with affection.”

“Oh?” He looked curious.

“Yeah… Grandpa’s journal mentioned it. If you guys like hugs or, or touch or whatever, it’s okay. I told Damien he doesn’t have to hold back and the same goes for you. For all you guys.”

Sam looked at her in mild surprise. “I wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable, Mika.”

“Well, introduce me to stuff gradually then. If you guys are gonna be living here for a while, I want you to be comfortable, too.”

Sam regarded her for a long moment as though weighing how serious she was. Eventually he smiled happily, “Thanks… That means a lot...” His smile widened as he snuggled closer, tucking her head under his chin. He reached over to wrap both Mika and Damien up in a hug. “Well that settles it, I ain’t moving. My damn boner can go hang.”

Mika burst into giggles, amused.

Damien’s chuckled lightly behind her, “Thought so...”

I could get used to this… She mused happily to herself.

Chapter Text

 

Sandwiched between Sam and Damien, Mika was soon grateful that she had stripped down to just a t-shirt and jeans earlier; their combined body heat was making her feel very warm. For a while she just lay there basking in the lingering afterglow, their warmth, their affection, and Damien’s love.

Despite being tucked between the two incubi, Mika’s head felt clearer then it had been all day now that her body was sated. She didn’t regret what had happened, and though she did feel some embarrassment looking back at her more forward behaviour, it wasn’t too bad. Right now, she felt good, and Sam had been wonderful. The massage had been a pleasant surprise too and she hoped she would have the opportunity to have another, with or without the sexual stuff.

As time drifted by, she mused on what Sam had said about how some of their enthralment magic ran through their aura, which from her experiences thus far she took to mean they had a supernaturally charming and disarming presence… And, yeah, it probably helped them seem so hot, too. Knowing that, if it weren’t for the devil threat she would have wanted to spend some time out of the mansion, just to give herself room to think and feel without that influence, so she could be more certain of where she stood. She doubted it would be much of a difference, but the option would have been nice.

Thinking about the devils limiting her choices, however, put her in mind of her plans going forward. Her grandfather’s warnings about how dangerous devils were rang through her head, as did the fact that the guys had decided it wasn’t even safe to train outside anymore. She had wanted to go back to school tomorrow but as the day had gone by she had started to doubt that plan. Even the long conditioned fear of dong badly at school didn’t compare to the fear of a devil putting a bullet through her skull.

“Guys…?” She asked tentatively into the peace of the room.

“Mmm?” Sam answered groggily.

“What exactly are you guys planning to do about… about Malix?”

Sam shifted so he could look down at her, his expression serious. “Well, last we all talked about it, we agreed to keep working on our preparations and waiting to see if Malix does something. We’re in a pretty strong position here, so if Malix decides to be an idiot and attacks us, we shouldn’t have any real problem beating him and his gang. On the flip side, if he doesn’t make a move we are going to have to go out there and face him. That’s the option we’re preparing for right now.”

“I see… How long do you think it would be before you are all ready to attack him, if, if that happens?” Her heart was beating faster just thinking about it, but she needed to know.

“… Dunno. Our preparations are going well, and thanks to you our energy is good. Problem is, James isn’t happy with the amount of intelligence we have on them. He and Erik are still working on that, so right now we are pretty much just waiting on them to find a weak point we can use, or at least come up with a strategy with the least chance of getting us killed.”

She nodded. “So… no idea, then.”

“Two weeks is our limit. After that, our food runs out, assuming we can’t get more.”

“Oh… Two weeks? Really? That seems a lot given-” She cut herself off.

“Given…?”

She took a breath. “… You guys eat a lot. I know how much food that kitchen usually has. It wont last two weeks.” Even as she said it she tried not to think about what that meant, how bad things might really be.

Sam gave an awkward smirk at that, glancing away, while Damien chuckled. From behind her Damien said, “It’s not that bad. Matthew can conjure very basic food to add to a meal, so we haven’t been using as much of the stored food as you think.”

She twisted round to look at him. “Matthew can conjure food?? Like, create it with magic?”

“Mhm. The problem is it isn’t nutritious. Your body would shut down if you tried to live on it.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, “but it can still give some energy, so, we’ve been mixing it with real food to pad it out.”

“You’ve done that already??” She asked, surprised.

“Erm, yeah...” Sam said with a half shrug. “Ever since Malix found us.”

“You’re already rationing.” She concluded, surprised and impressed. A part of her was troubled, however, that this was the first she had heard about it.

Sam smirked. “War-fair basics; don’t wait for the shit to hit the fan before you open an umbrella.”

Mika snorted, amused, before growing quiet.

Sam ran his hand gently over her hair. “So, what brought this up?”

“Mm? Oh, I just… I dunno if it’s a good idea to go back to school tomorrow. Not like I didn’t put a great big bullseye on my back when I punched Malix in the face or anything.” She gave a small nervous laugh.

“It’s your choice. We know there is a lot of pressure on you to go... but...”

“We’d be happier if you stayed here.” Damien said, a thread of worry in his voice.

Sam nodded, then added, “I still want you to know my name though, even if you stay inside the mansion ‘till this is all dealt with.”

“Sam-” She started to protest but he cut her off,

“If Malix has his gang attack all at once, there’s no saying how things could play out. We’re pretty confident we’d be fine, but shit can get real crazy in a fight and I want you to have that option if you need it.”

“I would like you to know my name, too.” Damien said. “Just in case.”

Mika looked between them, taking in their worry, their care. The weight of responsibility however, the vulnerable position it would put them in, bothered her. The thought of knowing Damien’s name was even worse then the thought of knowing Sam’s, given he was already heart bound to her and thus vulnerable to start with.

“Can we… can we talk about this later?” She asked, uncomfortable.

Sam sighed. “Yeah… But, don’t wait too long, okay? We don’t know when Malix might make a move or what he might have planned.”

The shiver of fear that ran through her at that thought made her mind up for her, “After dinner. We’ll talk after diner, alright?”

Sam gave her a half smile and nodded. “Alright.” He leaned forward to plant a light kiss against her forehead, before settling back down to resume their cuddling.

As the minuets passed, cocooned between them as they simply rested together, Mika was surprised to realise how quickly her fears dissipated after talking about Malix and the possibility of an attack. Being with the two of them like this felt remarkably safe. It was new, strange… but it was nice.

Just as she was starting to doze the alarm blared on her phone nearby; it was the alarm she had set to remind her to talk to James at half past four, so he could help her stop Suzu and Naomi from visiting. After some sleepy grumbling from Sam, the three made their way to the library where Damien said James, Erik and Matthew were working.

Pushing the door open, it was clear the library had been commandeered for magical operations. Most of the furniture was still as she remembered it; there were still bookshelves on all the walls bar the one with the windows and the space the fireplace occupied. The chairs and tables were still there too, though they had been moved around. James and Erik were stood next to the largest table which was covered by a map. Scattered over the map were small bits of metal, which on second glance she realized were spent bullet tips, most of them distorted. Off to the side, a full length mirror had been brought into the room, the edges of it marked with purple symbols. On the floor near by, a sheet was covered in runes marked in sand. Matthew was sat with his feet up, crossed legged, in an armchair and on the small table next to him was a large bowl filled wet sand and an array of blue crystals of varying shapes.

“Hay guys.” Mika said distractedly as she took a moment to take everything in.

Matthew looked up from whatever he was holding in his hands, looked between Mika and Sam and went a little wide eyed. “Er… Hay…” He said, sounding surprised.

Erik raised a brow, briefly, as he looked over. “Good afternoon, princess, Damien… Sam.”

James smiled and nodded in her direction. “Good afternoon, Miss. Do you have your friend’s contact details ready?” His tone was mild, lacking any note of surprise.

“Er, yeah, I got it.” Mika shook herself from her inspection of the room. “What’s the plan?”

“I’m going to tell them that I am taking you to a doctors appointment for a series of tests. It would be helpful if you could be ready to confirm my story if they ask to speak to you.”

“Oh… Oh okay.” She nodded. She couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable at the prospect of lying, though she knew it was necessary.

Damien spoke up then, “Mika was considering delaying going back to school. Perhaps we should bring that up too?”

James nodded. “We can certainly put the idea out there now, to make it easier later.”

Knowing the girls schedules would make Naomi the one most likely to pick up, Mika dialled her number on the mansion’s phone, then handed it to James. Their convocation was brief but as far as Mika could tell, Naomi was buying it. Listening carefully, Mika was surprised by just how simple James’ lie was, but he delivered it with such confidence that it was easy to see how people would fall for it. When James passed the phone back to Mika, she spent a minuet talking to her too. While the convocation was short, since Naomi was clearly busy, everything seemed to go down perfectly.

Mika sighed as she hung up the phone, then typed out a quick text summery of everything to Suzu. When that was done she looked around the room. “All done… I think that went well.”

“Yes,” Erik said seriously, “although it seems unlikely they will say away for long. Next time we might have to use magic to persuade them.”

“Unfortunately I have to agree.” James said.

Mika nodded and sighed. “If it keeps them safe, okay.”

While they spoke Sam walked over to Matthew. “Making substitutes?”

“Blanks, yeah.”

“Blanks?” Mika asked.

“Spell component substitutes.” Matthew explained. “Currently blank and waiting to be charged.”

Sam walked round to the back of Matthew’s chair, then leaned forward to wrap his arms lightly around Matthew’s head in a kind of hug. Matthew went wide eyed as he glanced over to Mika quickly, who was watching the exchange curiously.

Matthew gave a nervous chuckle. “Er, hay, Sam. You alright?”

“Mhmm...”

From her vantage point, Mika could see something mischievous in Sam’s smirk.

Looking tense, Matthew reached up and patted Sam’s arm awkwardly. “Well, er, you gonna let me get back to work or what?”

“You can work fine like this.” Sam was clearly repressing a grin at this point.

James and Erik were watching curiously too, though it didn’t escape Mika’s notice that they kept glancing at her as much as at Sam and Matthew. Erik looked mildly confused while James looked suspicious. Damien’s expression was, as it often was, hard to read, but Mika swore she saw amusement in his eyes.

“Sam...” Matthew said, pushing at Sam’s elbow, which didn’t move an inch, “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like? Been ages since we spent time together like this.”

Matthew’s eyes got a little wider as his gaze flickered over to Mika again quickly and he started to squirm. “Dude, what the fuck? Are you trying to give her the wrong impression or something?”

“Nope.” Sam was almost laughing by this point. Mika raised her hand to hide her smirk.

“Sam, let go of my head!”

“Nuh uh.”

Seriously??

“Matthew.” James cut in sounding curious and faintly amused, “Look at Mika, really look at her.”

Mika blushed at being put in the spotlight. Sam openly started to laugh at that point.

“Huh?” Matthew frowned as he looked at her, before his expression shifted to baffled, then to curious. “You… think this is funny?”

She shrugged, glancing away, embarrassed at the scrutiny not just from Matthew but Erik too.

Damien spoke up then, smiling and openly amused now, “Mika learned about some aspects of our behaviour from her grandfather's journal... Including how we like touch.”

Sam gave Matthew a slight shake. “So relax, alright? She’s fine. Hehehe...”

Matthew gapped before aiming a punch at Sam’s head, which was dodged. “You played me! Dude! Argg!” He squirmed as he tried to wiggle out of Sam’s grip and land a swipe. Sam just laughed before leaning forward the last few inches to rest his head on Matthews. Matthew stilled at that with a sigh, relaxing and ceasing his attempt to hit Sam. “… I’m so paying you back for this later.”

“Sure… If you can...”

“O-ho, I will...” Despite his words, Matthew looped an arm over Sam’s head, reciprocating the hug.

James shook his head, before saying, “Miss, what exactly did you read about this?”

“Oh, erm, it wasn’t much. Just that demons of Lilith are very tactile in showing affection. When I talked to Damien about it, the impression I got was… that you guys have been holding back.”

“That is true...” Erik said, regarding her with open curiosity.

Mika shrugged. “Well, I told Damien he doesn’t have to hold back around me, and I told Sam the same. It only seems fair to me, so… Yeah.”

Sam said from where he still had his face buried in Matthew’s mop of hair, “She suggested we introduce her to stuff slowly if we’re worried about making her uncomfortable. I think it’s a great idea.”

Matthew snorted. “And this is your idea of slowly’?”

“What? She thought it was funny too.” Sam said, straightening and letting go of Matthew’s head at last. He ruffled Matthew’s hair as he stepped away, prompting an indignant protest from his younger brother, which Sam only grinned at.

Mika chuckled, amused.

Erik walked over to her, smiling. “Princess, you are truly radiant. Beautiful of heart and noble of soul. You spoil us...” Reaching up he placed his hands gently above her ears, then leaned forward to touch his forehead lightly to the top of her head. “Thank you…”

Mika stood frozen and blushing, utterly lost in how to react.

“Erik, enough.” James said, a warning in his tone, “Mika and Sam are right, if we're going to do this, we need to go slowly.”

“What?” Erik said as he moved away, letting her go, “It’s just a friendly thank you.”

“Not one she is used to.”

“Yeah, Erik.” Matthew chimed in. “At least let her watch us for a while before we include her in anything.”

Flustered but not wanting to make a big issue out of what happened, Mika said, awkwardly, “I-It’s okay… Y-Your welcome.”

Erik flashed her a charming smile that only made her blush more.

A little flustered she asked, “S-so, that’s how you guys say thank you normally?”

“Actually,” Erik said smoothly, “that is more of a general expression of affection, that can also be used as an expression of gratitude...”

“With rare formal exceptions,” James said with a slight glare at Erik, “that gesture is typically only used with people we are close to… But where Erik is concerned, take that point rather lightly.” he finished with a slight note of teasing.

“Hay!” Erik protested with a frown while the other three sniggered.

Mika shook her head with a small smile and a sigh. So he really is a player even by their standards, huh…

Matthew got up from where he was sat, rolling the object he had been holding in his hand. “Well, anyway, I’m done. It’s ready.”

“Ah, good.” James said. Matthew tossed the item to him, which James caught nimbly; It was another blue crystal. James held the crystal in the palm of one hand, then, holding his other hand over it, said, “Exstrue munitiones...

Gold and purple light flowed between James’ hands, focusing on the crystal and merging into it. After the light faded, the crystal had changed from being simply blue, to blue, purple and gold. James stepped over to the mirror and dropped the crystal in front of it. It fell only a few inches before flying towards the mirror, disappearing into it as though the glass were a pool of water.

Mika's jaw dropped in awe at the display.

“Woo!! Finally!” Matthew cheered.

“Well,” James said, “that proves you have the right configuration for the spell at least, now we just have to hope my contribution was accurate.”

Erik shook his head and said with a touch of wry humour, “As long as we can test it before I step through, that’s all I am concerned with right now.”

“What is that?” Mika asked wide eyed.

James explained, “We are attempting to open a stable doorway to the mirror dimension, a plane of existence that runs both along side and between the worlds. Erik is trained in using the mirror dimension, but, accessing it is difficult.”

“Well, it is for our purpose, anyway.” Erik said.

“What do you plan to do with it?” Mika asked.

“Scouting, mostly.” James said. “Very few can use the mirror dimension; Most beings would go mad there, so, very few even try. Consequently, provided you know how to use it safely, you are unlikely to run into any trouble there. Its a good way to get around magical effects in this world while still being able to analyse them.”

“Isn’t there a safer way to do things?” She asked, worried.

Erik shrugged. “That depends on your definition of safe.”

“Right...” When it was clear the guys weren’t going to say anything else on it, Mika glanced around the room, her eyes landing on the map Erik and James had been stood over earlier. “Oh, is that the map you guys mentioned before?”

“Indeed.” Erik said, “We’re tracking the locations of nearby hell-born energy, which covers both devils and their magic.”

Stepping closer to the table and looking at the near dozen bullets scattered over the map, Mika winced; There was only one conclusion she could reach as to where they all came from. “Those bullets… are those...”

“Souvenirs from our first encounter with Malix, yes.” Erik said with a slight grimace, walking back around the table.

“It’s grim,” James said stepping over, “but effective and low cost in terms of energy use.”

Mika peered at it. She recognised it; it was the mansion and surrounding area. She pointed to three of the bullets. “That’s us…! D-Does this mean there are three devils watching us?” The very thought made her stomach clench in fear.

“Truthfully we don’t know.” James said grimly. “The spell is limited by the number of markers. More markers in an area means more activity, but it can’t give a more accurate reading then that.”

“You said this tracks devils and their magic… Can it show the difference between the two?”

James and Erik exchanged a glance, then after a beat Erik nodded, “It can, in fact...” Making a fist he thumped the table, causing the bullets jump. Most settled immediately while some of them spun in place for a couple of seconds before settling. After they had all stilled Erik said, “Its simple, but then this is a very crude spell.”

She snorted, looking a little wide eyed at the map in both fascination and dread at what it represented. “It doesn’t exactly do much in the way of glowing lights, does it… So, um, which one was which?” Of the three surrounding the mansion, one had jumped, two had spun.

“If they spin, its magic.” James said.

Mika frowned. “Then, they must have used quite a lot of magic nearby, right?… How long has it been like this?”

“The first marker was showing there as soon as we set the spell up, shortly after Malix found us. The second marker appeared about an hour ago.”

“That’s not good...” Sam said seriously behind her. Just out of Mika’s line of sight, Matthew glared at him, to which Sam winced.

“The markers move...?” Mika asked, oblivious to their exchange.

“Not on their own.” Erik said. “Here...” He swept his hands across the map, scooping up the bullets. Once he had collected them all up in one hand he held them some distance above the table and simply dropped them. With a clatter they landed on the map and rolled and bounced as though drawn by magnets; three to the mansion, four to a forest nearby, three wound up in different places while a single bullet returned to its original spot some way from the others.

James frowned at the lone marker that had returned to its original place. “The same again...”

Erik nodded. “Mmm...”

Pointing to it James asked, “Mika, are you familiar with this area?”

She peered at the map. “… I think that’s a derelict industrial complex. Warehouses, old storage units, that kind of thing.”

“That’s what our research came up with too… A perfect staging ground for devils, or anything else that wishes it.”

“I guess...” Her attention was drawn back to the mansion and the three markers that surrounded it. “They’re really here...” It put a cold shiver down her spine.

“Yes…”

“Hay,” Matthew said kindly, “don’t worry about it. We’ve got it covered.”

Mika nodded. “Do you have any idea what magic they put down? I mean, I know this doesn’t show it, but...”

James shook his head. “Not yet.”

Mika sighed then frowned. Something about James, his tone and body language, gave her the impression he was being deliberately shy with his answers. “But you have an idea?” She pressed.

James’ expression darkened. “Only theories. Given what we are dealing with we have to assume the worst case scenario, which means traps, and maybe barriers.”

Erik nodded. “That’s why we need a safe way to investigate them.” He and James exchanged another look before Erik continued, “If they extend around the entire perimeter and off the ground, even Sam won’t be able to get out. Damien might have a chance but I wouldn’t want to risk it. Depending on the type of trap even teleportation or gate magic might not be safe.”

James said, “If we weren’t clearly under direct observation we could investigate it easily but right now that would likely mean we'd just get shot at again. However, dealing with one or more shooters first would probably just lead us into a trap. This is why we are planning to use the mirror dimension to asses just what they have out there so we can deal with it.”

“On the bright side,” Sam said wryly, “if this mirror thing doesn’t work and we have to try the old fashioned way, we would have more map markers to use.” Behind her, both Matthew and Damien gave Sam exasperated, dirty looks.

Mika winced, though she was distracted from Sam’s grim humour by the look James and Erik had shared, twice now, and James’ subtle evasiveness. Were they trying to keep things from her?

Setting it to one side while she mulled it over in the back of her mind, she glanced over to Damien, “How come you’d have more of a chance to get out then Sam?” Sam she could understand being able to get out given his speed, but not Damien.

Damien shrugged. “It’s one of my powers. I can access to the shadow realm.”

“Like the mirror dimension?”

“No.” Erik said. “The mirror dimension is the counterpart of the void. The void and the mirror dimension lie between all worlds. The void is nothing, the mirror dimension is everything. The shadow realm, on the other hand, is literally the shadow of whatever world you happen to be in.”

James explained, “Most spells do not affect both this realm, the prime realm, and the shadow realm at the same time, but some do. Also, we have no idea if these devils make use of the shadow realm or not. Given the shadow realm is not inherently dangerous like the mirror dimension, there is a fair chance that they might. In that case, Damien could easily be outnumbered.”

Mika shook her head, trying to take it all in. “Safe is relative, huh...”

“Indeed...” James said.

“We’re making progress.” Matthew said optimistically, “Soon as we know how to deal with the magic they have put down, it shouldn’t be long before we can take them on and finish this.”

“Can’t wait...” Sam said, his tone low and serious.

“Alright,” James said, “We’re done here for now. We should get some training in before we break for dinner.”

“Yeah, about that...” Sam said, “This is your bright idea from earlier, yeah?” He pointed to the sheet covered in sand runes.

“Yes.” James said.

“It doesn’t look like you got anywhere with it.”

“Not yet, no.”

“So, why didn’t you come get me?”

Damien spoke up. “I asked them not to.”

Sam turned to him with a frown. “What?”

Damien shrugged, a hint of mischief in his eyes. “I told them I wanted to borrow you until half four.”

Mika gapped at him. He set up that cuddle session too??

Sam shook his head with a hint of a smirk. “Seriously…? Not that I didn’t appreciate it, but was this really the time for that?”

“I thought it was.”

“Heh, no offence but you’re kinda biased right now.”

“Regardless,” James said calmly, “it’s done now. Let it go, Sam.”

“Besides,” Erik said, “we have hardly squandered the time needlessly.”

“Eh. Sure, whatever.” Sam said, before giving Damien a pointed look. “You’re off the bench. If you can run around organizing everyone to your liking, you can think clearly enough to fight.”

Damien simply shrugged.

The guys left for the lobby after that, while Mika headed to her room, intent on getting some homework done for the first time in four days. Even though it was becoming more and more unlikely she would try going back to school tomorrow, that didn’t mean she didn’t still have work to do.

Chapter Text

 

Sat on her bed with her homework freshly spread around her, Mika looked at the array of books with hazy eyes. It was so surreal to look at something so familiar in a place she was still getting used to, in a situation that was literally supernatural.

Thinking about the wider situation she was in brought her mind right back to the guys… and to what had happened on this very bed not so long ago. Mika sighed with a small smile and a blush. No, it wasn’t sex; it was, to be blunt, a hand job, but it was the furthest she had ever been with anyone before… and it had gone, in her opinion, amazingly well.

She sighed again her smile widening, “Sam...”

She had never orgasmed so hard before. Ever. More then that, Sam had been spectacular; every line she had drawn he had minded perfectly, he had been considerate of her feelings, asking her permission and talking her through everything so she never felt lost. He had been great, and she had felt good with him.

Still smiling she flopped back onto the bed. The motion bounced one of her books onto the floor.

“Ugh...” She groaned but didn’t move.

Breathing deep, she turned her head to the covers, taking in the lingering scents; Sam and Damien. Her smile grew into a happy grin. She was glad Damien had shown up; cuddling with the two of them had been wonderful, and she wanted more of it.

She sighed deeply again, her smile fading. Was it wrong for this to be happening so quickly? Given they were incubi and thus lived on pleasure energy she guessed this was right for them. But what about her? For a while she just lay there and thought and felt… and the one point she kept circling back to was that the time spent with Sam earlier, the kisses with Damien, and all the cuddles, felt good. It had been fun, relaxing and, well, pleasurable.

She frowned then and sighed; thinking about that now was starting to make her feel lonely, she wanted company.

Well, she knew where the guys would be; in the lobby, training. A sudden curiosity struck her then that, combined with her loneliness, proved too tempting to ignore. Making up her mind, she crept out of her room as quietly as she could, leaving the door open behind her to avoid the noise, and made her way carefully towards the lobby.

It wasn’t long before she started to hear the sounds of sparing and talking.

Sam barked, “Mind your feet James, this isn’t a ballroom!”

“There isn’t anything wr- ak!!

“Warned you.”

Erik. “That was a bit much, don’t you think?”

Sam. “Who’s in charge of this session?”

“Never mind...”

Mika peeked around the corner and looked down into the lobby. All five of them were sparring with Sam in the middle of the group. Sam was apparently both instructor and target for the other four.

Impressive…!

Matthew rushed Sam with a faint up high before dropping down low under his reach, aiming a kick at his stomach as he spun. Sam twisted out the way, landing him right next to Erik who aimed a punch right at his face. Sam ducked and dodged, moving around the space between his brothers.

Mika watched transfixed. Sam is fast…! … But… He can go faster… She had seen him move faster then this on her very first night with them, at dinner when he had snatched that jug from Matthew. So why was he holding back?

As she watched the sparring progress, the reason began to become clear.

Mika watched as James circled around Erik and Damien, using them to hide his actions and launch an attack on Sam from the side. Sam countered but as he did Matthew attacked him from behind, taking advantage of the distraction to land a solid hit on Sam’s back.

That’s it! Mika thought. Sam isn’t just sparring, he’s the instructor. He’s pushing the others to challenge them and even force them to work together. If he goes too fast it would be pointless! … He’s awesome!

Down in the lobby, Damien’s eyes narrowed.

Mika was transfixed as she peaked carefully around the corner, wishing she could get a better look but not daring to move closer or disturb them.

They are really incredible… She thought in awe.

Sam alone was on a level the likes of which she had never seen outside of fiction, his motions precise and fluid, both stunning and confounding to watch as she often found herself losing track of what exactly he was doing. A part of her wanted to ask him to teach her later but he was so far beyond her that a part of her couldn’t help but think, glumly, that she would be wasting his time.

Erik, she realised after a little while, was the least competent fighter of the five, though even he was easily good enough to teach by human standards. From what Mika was seeing, Erik was also the least aggressive and the one most likely to default to cooperative tactics rather then solo ones.

A lover not a fighter, huh? Figures… She thought with some amusement.

James at first didn’t surprise her as his fighting style mirrored his personality as she had observed thus far; alert, disciplined, calculating and quick thinking. An attempted shot to Sam’s groin when he was preoccupied by Damien, however, caught her off guard. Sam snarled with a nasty smirk as he countered, only to have Damien and Erik flank him with a joint attack while he was distracted. As Sam ducked and wove, only avoiding part of their joint attack, Mika found herself adding ‘ruthlessly cunning and opportunistic’ to James’ list of traits, at least when it came to battle.

Matthew was quick. Not as quick as Sam of course, but fast enough that his abilities were clearly inhuman regardless. As well as speed, Matthew also had agility and an acrobatic style that Mika at first thought was overly flashy until she spent a little time focused just on him; he was flashy, she realised, but deceptively so. Matthew was cunning, using flips and tumbles to hide and confuse. He was also the most inventive when it came to making use of the space. Mika watched wide eyed as, just when Matthew looked like he had been backed into the barrier, he turned and ran up the inside of the barrier itself, his bare feet leaving a glowing purple aura on its inner surface. Leaping out of range, he left room for a joint attack from Erik and James.

Damien was a wild card. Mika could never tell if he was going to work with one of the others in a team move or try something solo. His fighting style was interesting too in that it looked almost erratic, yet like Matthew that seemed at least partly about deception too. Mika was also surprised by how aggressive he was, lashing out with lightning jabs whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Mika watched with bated breath as Damien, taking advantage of a distraction cause by Matthew, charged brazenly at Sam, ducking low to aim a punch to his stomach. Sam countered with a deflection and a kick which Damien attempted to grab. The force of Sam’s counter attack knocked him to the ground, however.

“Hold.” Sam announced suddenly.

“Hay, what?” Matthew asked surprised as he hopped to a standstill.

“What is it?” Erik asked as Damien climbed to his feet.

James, however, was looking at Damien. So was Sam.

“Hay, doofus.” Sam called suddenly, loudly. “If you’re gonna watch, you might as well get a better view.” There was a hint of amusement in his voice.

It took a second for Mika to realize he was talking to her, at which point she almost coward. Shit… How did he know??

“Doofus?” Erik asked, confused.

“Mika.” James said with a slight smirk and a shake of his head.

She sighed and stepped from her hiding spot somewhat nervously. “Haaay guys...”

Erik and Matthew looked surprised to see her, James did not.

“Oh hay, Mika!” Matthew greeted her.

“Princess...” Erik smiled at her charmingly with a small bow.

Matthew turned to Sam, “How’d you know she was there?”

James responded before Sam could, “Damien was showing off.”

Sam smirked and nodded while Damien just looked embarrassed.

“Oh, that’s what that was about.” Matthew grinned at Damien, who blushed.

Sam called up to her again, “I’m serious Mika, if you wanna watch you might as well get comfy.”

“I, I didn’t want to disturb you all...” She replied, fidgeting slightly.

“You aren’t. We’re training to fight, all kinds of distractions can happen in battle. If you being here gets in the way, we’re in trouble.”

“Was there anything you needed, Miss?” James asked.

“Oh, no. I er, just couldn’t concentrate.” She shrugged with a quick glance over the brothers. In a smaller voice she added, “And I got curious.”

It was true and the longer she had watched, the more curious she had become; seeing those flashes of inhuman ability was intriguing for her now. A little intimidating still, yes, but no longer truly frightening.

Thinking about their inhuman qualities brought to mind the description of demons of Lilith from her grandfather’s journal. On impulse, she asked, “Hay, since you’re preparing to fight devils, you wont have to pretend to be human, yeah?” That got some curious looks from all bar Damien.

James responded, “Yes, but it is good practice to maintain appearances whenever we can. From what we have seen there would be consequences for any human that saw anything of what we truly are. Accusations of lying, or even insanity, for starts.”

“Why do you ask?” Erik asked curiously.

She blushed slightly, “Oh, it’s nothing. Just curious.”

Sam smirked, “Well, if there is something you wanna ask, spit it out.”

“Yeah.” Matthew agreed. “You never know till you ask, right?”

She hesitated, looking between the five of them. What she wanted, what she really wanted, was to see how their demon forms looked. But, she hesitated to ask. It wouldn’t be fair on Damien… “It’s nothing, really.” she said after a beat.

Down in the lobby Damien looked up at her with loving eyes and just as it looked like Sam was going to speak he said, “She wants to know how we look as demons.” He said, surprising her. The others all looked surprised too.

“Oh really?” Erik’s look turned flirtatious all of a sudden.

“You really wanna see?” Sam asked both surprised and with that same look of consideration he had earlier when she had told him she wanted them all to be more themselves around her.

Mika glanced at Damien, still surprised herself. When he just smiled and shrugged then gave a small nod that clearly said, ‘go ahead, it’s okay’, she took a breath and said, “Yeah… I, er, I read about how you guys look in grandpa’s journal, the horns and the stripes… it sounded interesting.”

James spoke up suddenly, sounding both hesitant and slightly amused, “Miss, did the book say anything else about how we look?”

She frowned, thinking, “Not much. Just that the shape of your horns are family traits, the colour of your markings too- oh, and that their pattern is unique.”

“That’s it?” James asked as the brothers shared looks between each other.

Erik purred in full flirtatious mode, “It didn’t mention that demons of Lilith don’t wear clothes?”

Mika froze then gapped, a blush exploding over her face as Sam and Matthew chuckled but Damien frowned.

They’d be naked?! She looked over to Damien, as she remembered asking the same of him earlier. Deciding to try leaning on his mindreading, too embarrassed to try saying out out loud in front of the others, she thought at him, deliberately, ‘You didn’t mention that before, Damien!’

Damien gasped slightly and his eyes lit up, a smile blooming over his face. He said aloud, “It didn’t seem worth mentioning at the time.”

The other four looked between her and Damien at that, varying expressions of happiness and realisation covering their faces.

Matthew laughed as he looked back up to her, “Silent convocations with Damien, eh? Now that’s a landmark. Welcome to the family!”

Erik tutted, though he smiled widely, “As if that weren’t practically official already.”

Floored, all Mika could do was stand there gaping, caught in a very sudden whirlwind of emotion. They were joking…. Right? She hadn’t thought ‘speaking’ to Damien that way was that big of a deal. She looked over to Damien again, and the love and happiness in his expression made her glance away with a deepening blush.

“So,” Sam said, grinning widely, mischief in his eyes, “You still wanna to see what we look like?”

“I, I, er...” She did, but naked…? A small lustful, and curious, part of her very, very much wanted to, but a larger part of her couldn’t bring herself to ask it, despite the many leaps and bounds that had happened between them today. She swallowed around the nervous lump in her throat, still struggling to get through the emotions that Matthew and Erik had just brought up in her.

Matthew shrugged and cut into the awkward – for her – silence, “We could always keep our pants I guess?” He sounded uncertain about the idea.

Mika perked up a little at that.

Sam made a face, clearly not impressed. “Eh...”

James didn’t look overly thrilled by the prospect either.

“I’ll do it.” Erik said, looking up at her thoughtfully.

R-really?” She squeaked in surprise, happy, excited and nervous all at once. Erik smiled and bowed his head.

Matthew bounced on the balls of his feet. “Well, that’s two then. Sam, you up for it?”

Sam made a whining sound low in his throat then huffed, “Weeell, if pretty boy is in… Sure, fine...”

“Cool.” Matthew chuckled. “Man, this is gonna be so weird...”

James gave him a pointed look. “You suggested it.”

“Eh…” He shrugged then shot back, “You in?”

“… Yeah. Why not?”

Damien shook his head when the others glanced his way.

Walking down the stairs Mika couldn’t help but feel a little guilty seeing that; it didn’t seem fair if Damien was going to be the odd one out and she suddenly wished she had reigned in her curiosity better, know that was why Damien had brought it up. ‘I’m sorry, Damien...’ she tried thinking at him again, regretfully.

He shook his head and gave her a small smile. “It’s fine, don’t worry.”

James frowned slightly and looked at Damien, who nodded. Glances were exchanged between the five of them before everyone seemed to relax, an agreement apparently having been reached.

Mika couldn’t help but smile slightly; you could almost believe Damien wasn’t the only mindreader there when they did that.

As she reached the bottom of the stairs James said, “Cross into our training area if you wish. You shouldn’t be impeded in any way.”

“A demon only barrier, remember?” Matthew chirped merrily.

She looked down at the faint purple marks on the floor and, hesitant yet curious, stepped over them gingerly. There was a barest tingle over her skin, like a faint breeze, but, now she was starting to get use to it, she recognised it for the magic it really was.

She looked back up at the guys and smiled bashfully at their varying amused, warm looks. “That’s kinda cool...” she said, motioning towards the barrier with her hand.

Erik stepped up to her, “Princess… Since I volunteered first...” He bowed low, hand over his heart. Looking up at her, his smile was suggestive.

Mika gasped as the air shimmered around him and his clothes – bar his pants – just faded into nothingness, revealing a toned, lean physique. As he straitened from his bow, crimson stripes appeared in lines and whirls that snaked over his torso. His hands darkened into the same shade of crimson which slowly faded as it made it way up his arms until it blended with the stripes starting above his elbow. His feet were bare and the same pure red as his hands.

“Oh...” She breathed as she watched large horns curl out from above his ears, the same basic colour as his marks. They swept back and around in a large arc that kept close to his head and ended just over his jaw. He smiled widely as she whispered again, wide eyed, “Oh wow...”

Erik laughed, “You flatter me, princess...”

Mika gapped at the sound of his voice, the unearthly reverberation, very much like what Damien and James had sounded like earlier, only much stronger. It was like his voice was slightly removed from physical reality.

Sam snorted. “Show off...” He threw her a smirk and in a split second and barely a ripple in the air around him, his form shifted, clothes giving way to emerald marks and long, slightly twisting horns jutting out about a foot from the side of his head, angled slightly up and back.

Mika let out a surprised gasp, hands flying to cover her mouth, both at the suddenness of his transformation and the contrast with Erik. Not to mention those startlingly prominent horns. She felt her cheeks warm and a small smile tug at her lips at the sight of his very well muscled torso.

Nope, not just his arms, then… She thought with a hint of lust.

Matthew chuckled at her reaction. In a similar fashion to Sam he dropped his glamour spell quickly with no fan fair, clothes fading into marks of vibrant sapphire. His horns were small, like a young goat’s, heavily ridged and, unlike Sam and Erik, his emerged from above his temples. His body was pretty much as she expected after having watched him fight a little; light, lean and athletic, the body of a gymnast, though not sporting as much muscle as she would have expected from someone with moves like that.

I guess demons really are proportionally stronger...

James smiled at her and tilted his head, dispelling the majority of his glamour, too. His marks were golden in colour and his horns, starting again above his ears, curved forward then up in a manor that reminded her of some bulls. His form was pleasing as she would have expected, sporting more muscle then Erik and Matthew, though not as much as Sam, which balanced nicely with his tall broad frame.

Mika couldn’t help but sigh a little, her face feeling a little warm. Dear lord they are hot… And those stripes are so flattering...

Damien watched her from a little behind his brothers, his expression enigmatic.

Glancing between them all, fascinated, her eyes settled on Erik again, who was closest. She raised hand automatically, curious, wanting to touch those marks, his horns even. She froze before she got very far, realizing what she was about to do.

“I am at your disposal, princess.” Erik said softly. “Do as you wish...”

She blushed at that, suddenly becoming self-conscious. “E-er...”

Just as she made pull back Erik said, his voice low and soft, “Please, I am serious. Explore all you want. I will happily accommodate you in any way you desire...” His voice ended in a soft purr that almost made her shiver. Then he bowed slightly and tilted his head down and to the side in a manor that reminded her of how Sam had bowed to Damien earlier, when he was showing deference. The way he turned his head presented one of his horns to her and made reaching up and touching it that much more tempting.

“Oh...” She breathed, at a loss as to how to handle the situation.

Oh, now that bow makes sense…! She thought a little faintly as she studded him, fascinated, arguing with herself on weather she should touch Erik’s clearly offered horn. If she were in private with him she likely would have taken his offer, but in front of the others she couldn’t help but feel shy.

Just within her field of view, she saw Damien tense; he didn’t look happy.

Mika frowned, uncertain and very conscious of Damien suddenly. Just as she was about to step back and decline, Erik said, his voice smooth and low, drawing her attention. “I know you are curious... There is no crime in that. I will gladly service any desire you wish to explore, on your terms, Mika...”

The way he used her name, how he said it, warmly, softly, reverently, almost made her cave. It shattered her defences and she felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth as she blushed.

Wow, he is good… She thought.

Behind the other incubi, Damien’s eyes narrowed and his lips thinned. Now he almost looked angry.

That stopped her.

Nervous, confused and a little alarmed, she stepped back. She cleared her throat, before flashing a hollow smile at Erik. “T-Thank you but, uh, maybe some other time... You guys still need to train, right?”

“Damn right.” Sam said, watching Erik with narrowed eyes, though he was smirking slightly; it was not a pleasant expression.

Matthew sniggered and said in a faux whisper to Sam, “Reeee-jected! Hehe...” Sam smirked wider while Erik flashed a quick glare at them.

Backing out of the training area, stepping over the barrier, Mika was a confused and nervous mess as she glanced at Damien. He looked away and she swore his expression was ashamed.

“Alright then.” Sam clapped his hands together, almost making her jump. “Where were we?”

Suddenly Matthew swung a punch right at Sam’s head, who dodged back easily.

Matthew smirked as he hopped back out of range of a retaliatory hit and said, “About there, I think.”

Sam chuckled.

As their sparing started up again Mika was initially too distracted to pay much attention. What had just happened? Was Damien jealous of Erik? It was the most likely explanation she could think of, but why be so jealous of Erik but not Sam? Was it because Erik was so flirty?

Mika was drawn out of her thoughts quickly however by the guys training, so she resolved to talk to Damien about the matter later.

Watching the fight, Mika noticed quickly that the four who had abandoned their glamour spells moved faster now and there was a greater strength to their hits, if they landed, that wasn’t there before. She also noticed that Sam wasn’t hitting Damien with more glancing then blows this time, little more then taps to mark a vulnerable point.

Is the difference really that great? Is Damien really that much weaker compared to the others like this...?

“Watch your feet, James.” Sam snapped at him as he ducked under a blow from Erik, then stepped nimbly around Damien who missed a kick to his back from behind, to which Sam landed a retaliatory strike on Damien’s shoulder as he went.

“It’s not that bad.” James groused as their shifting positions in the lobby landed him right in front of Sam.

“It’s sloppy. You can do better.” Sam replied, going on the offensive with a faint to James’ face leading to an elbow strike to the chest. James deflected, stepping around and behind Sam attempting his own elbow strike to the middle of his back. Sam dodged by dropping to the ground, fast. He spun and with a wide sweeping kick he caught James’ ankle. When James attempted to step out of danger and recover, Sam dropped forward, redirecting his momentum and, in a move she would never have seen coming, whipped his head around to catch the end of one of his horns just below one of James’ knee caps. It connected with a sharp, strangely echoing snapping sound and she swore she saw green sparks. James yelped and dropped to one knee while Sam rolled clear and back to his feet as he finished his previous motion.

The reaction from the others was immediate; Damien winced, stepping back with his hand over his mouth. Erik’s hands flew up as though to protect his own horns, teeth bared in a grimace.

Cringing, shaking his head, Matthew screeched, “Holy fuck, dude! Don’t do that!!” He reached an arm up to lay it against his hair line, effectively shielding his own horns.

Sam laughed. “Oh come on. It’s fine! No real harm done.”

Still grimacing Erik said, “I don’t know how you still have two intact horns when you do moves like that.” He shuddered violently.

“To say nothing of his neck...” Damien said with another wince.

Sam scoffed, “Pft. My necks fine. And even if I did break a horn-” the others all winced, “- it’s not like I couldn’t-”

“Oh, don’t even say it!!” Matthew exclaimed loudly.

“- fix it again as long as I still have all the-”

“Nope!!” Matthew clamped his hands over his ears and made to walk over to the far side of the lobby.

“-pieces!! Sam finished loudly with a wicked grin.

“Ghhhaa!!”

“Saaaaam...” Erik whined, shaking his head as though trying to rattle what Sam had just said out of his brain.

James groaned where he was still sat on the floor cradling his knee and shuddered, ducking his head away from Sam. Damien shivered visibly, his own hands coming up the side of his head now, too.

Amused Mika asked, unable to fully hide her smirk, “Sooo, I take it your horns are sensitive?”

“Yes!” James, Erik, Matthew and Damien answered in unison, while Sam just laughed.

“Why’d you use them in a fight, then?” She asked Sam, trying to repress her laughter for the sake of the other four.

Matthew replied in a bit of a screech, “Because he is bat shit crazy and weird!!” He hopped around the far side of the lobby from Sam, acting like someone who’s teeth were on edge and couldn’t make it stop.

Laughing, Sam addressed her and gasped out, “You’re not blind, right? What would you do if you had these sticking out of your head?”

Erik snapped, “I’d take extra precautions to avoid them getting hit!” He looking almost as on edge as Matthew. Sam only laughed harder. Mika brought her hand up to hide her smirk, repressing her chuckles.

Damien, also still cringing, stepped over to James. “Are you alright?”

Grimacing, James pulled up his pant leg to reveal a vivid green star-burst shape just bellow his knee. His leg, Mika noticed, was the same solid wash of colour as his hands and feet. With a quick glare at Sam, James said, “I’ll be fine soon.”

Matthew took one look at James’ knee then turned his back again with another round of “Nope!”s. Erik closed his eyes, shaking his head.

His laughter finally fading, Sam motioned towards it, “Another reason to use them.” Taking a breath he sighed before becoming serious again. Addressing James, he said. “You think you could stop dicking about now and saying it’s fine when I tell you your foot work is off?”

James gritted his teeth and sighed. “Yes… Will you work with me later to fix it?”

Sam grinned. “Now we’re talking. Sure thing.” Looking over the rest of them he said, “Alright then, back to it.”

Matthew held up his hands, “Wait, wait-!” Sam charged at him first.

As the sparing continued it was clear that what had happened had rattled Matthew, Erik and Damien; their attacks were fewer and less accurate and Sam scored far more hits.

Shortly after they started, James stood and limped towards the back of the lobby. When he got to the door to the library he stepped on one of the symbols on the floor before pushing out of the barrier and disappearing through the door. Soon he came back, stepping through the barrier easily before heading towards the stairs opposite Mika and exiting the barrier again by using one of the symbols on the floor.

“What are you doing?” She called to him.

“Just checking up on something while my leg heals. I’ll be back in a moment.”

Mika was about to ask what exactly he was checking on when she was distracted by Sam throwing Matthew half way across the lobby.

Sam snapped at him, “Try that dumbass move on me again and I’ll throw you out the fucking door next time, barrier or no barrier!”

“Sheesh,” Matthew grumbled as he got to his feet, rubbing the back of his head and rolling his shoulder, “it was just an idea, no need to get worked up about it.”

“It was a fucking stupid idea. Don’t do it again.” Sam barked.

Mika sorely wished she had managed to see what Matthew’s ‘fucking stupid’ idea had been and wondered why it deserved such a reprimand.

Soon James was back and, after stepping back through the barrier, leaned back against it, still favouring his leg. Sam avoided James right up until the point where James rejoined the fight himself, aiming a kick at Sam’s side, which was blocked.

By the time James was back in the fight, Erik and Matthew seemed to have regained their nerve after Sam’s unorthodox move earlier. Damien, on the other hand, was struggling. Mika frowned as she watched. From what she could see he looked frustrated and it was getting worse. It did make some sense; ever since the other four had largely dropped their glamour spells he had been the odd one out and Sam was clearly going easy on him because of it…

… Mostly.

After Damien attempted a punch that made even Mika wince, Sam ducked and retaliated with a roundhouse kick to Damien’s back, sending him sprawling to the floor as he cried out.

“Fucks sake, Damien,” Sam said as he danced back away from a barrage of incredibly quick hits from Matthew, dodging and weaving expertly, “get your head in the damn game!”

Damien snarled as he pushed himself to his feet, glaring.

Mika felt both confused and guilty; Confused because that was a very hard hit and if dropping their glamour spells made that much difference, why would Sam kick Damien like that? And, she felt guilty because if she had reigned in her curiosity she wouldn’t have disrupted their training session and the other four wouldn’t have lowered their glamour spells causing Damien to be singled out.

This is my fault… She thought regretfully. I should probably go back...

Damien’s gaze snapped to her suddenly. He did not look happy.

Unsure what to make of that, unable to help but doubt herself, Mika started to edge back away from the barrier towards the stairs. Just as her foot landed on the lowest step, Damien charged at Sam.

Ducking bellow a retaliatory swing, Damien dropped to the ground and initiated a wide sweeping kick, just as Sam had done to James earlier. Sam jumped out of range easily but before either motion had finished, in a ripple of the air Damien’s form shifted, the majority of his clothes vanishing to reveal stark black stripes and tightly wound ram horns. In a burst of speed that exceeded everything she had seen from James, Erik and even Matthew thus far, Damien finished his spin and launched himself at Sam, catching him in a tackle and knocking him clean off his feet. There was a slight cracking sound just before they both hit the floor that made Sam grunt.

Damien rolled off Sam and got to his feet quickly, eyes wide, panting slightly. Sam chuckled, clutching his side where Damien’s head had caught him.

Matthew cheered and punched the air, “Nice one, Damien!! Yes!”

“Well done...” James said, while Erik lightly applauded.

Sitting up, voice tense but satisfied and amused, Sam said, “Finally… Took ya long enough.” He moved his hand to reveal a splintering black mark on his side where Damien’s horn had caught him during the tackle. James, Erik and Matthew all winced.

Damien cringed slightly when he saw it, his hand coming up towards his head part way before he clenched his fist and dropped it. After a moment he frowned at Sam. “You were goading me? You wanted this.” He accused.

Sam snorted as he pushed himself to his feet. “Yeah.”

“Why?”

Sam looked at him pointedly. “Cuz you stayed weak.”

“What?”

“You chose to hold onto your glamour after we started training again.”

“What?!” James snapped. “Sam are you kidding me?!” The assertive anger in James’ voice startled Mika; it was the first time she had heard him like this.

“Sam, that’s ridiculous!” Erik said sharply.

Matthew, however, merely frowned.

Sam shook his head. “We’re training to fight, yeah?”

James answered sharply, still clearly angry, “What does that have to do with Damien’s glamour spell?!”

“Everything.” Sam growled back, squaring off to James. “If I were a devil, you think I’d give a damn about Damien’s feelings? If we go in holding onto vulnerabilities when we don’t have to we are putting everything we are fighting for at risk!”

Sam continued, addressing Damien directly now, “When the rest of us dropped our glamours, you chose to be the odd one out. And yeah, I get it, but we aren’t just fucking about watching fucking telly. If being like this in front of her bothers you that much, you could have asked her to leave or for us to take up our glamours again- and you know we would have. You did neither. Instead, you stayed vulnerable, weak, when you didn’t have to. Adapting to the situation you are in, or, if you can, adapting it to you – like by taking to us – is just as much a part of battle as the punches or kicks you throw.”

James seemed to calm somewhat at that and he regarded Sam with a thoughtful frown.

“Sam,” Erik said, also calm now, though with a note of hesitancy in his voice, “This is only training...”

“And bad habits picked up in training carry over into battle. This where we need to sort that shit, before it puts our lives in danger.” Sam said firmly. Damien hung his head at that, nodding slightly.

“Wow, Sam...” Matthew said with a note of admiration. “So much for ‘kill them all, take no prisoners’. What, were you sneaking into the library to read father’s books on combat when we weren’t looking?”

“Pft, you know I can’t read. You really thought I only went to the garrison to pick fights? Or that my instructors were a bunch of brainless thugs? And for that matter, just how thick do you think I am?” He shook his head then smirked a little, “And as for kill them all, take no prisoners, that will work just fine against devils.”

James sighed and shook his head at that, a little exasperated.

Sam’s mirth died as he turned to address Damien again, who was frowning at spot on the floor somewhere close to Sam’s feet. “Damien, look I… I get why you did what you did. But what if it’s just you and her verses them?”

“I have my methods, Sam...” He said quietly and a touch rebelliously.

“And we don’t know if they use the shadow realm or not, or how well they’d cope with illusions. We’ve never fought devils before, we’re running on the things James has read and fucking guess work. And what if you got too low on energy and had to drop your glamour then? I just want you to be prepared.” Sam said earnestly and for the first time Mika could see his worry clearly.

Damien sighed, glancing up at that. He nodded. “Thank you...” He said quietly.

Sam nodded. After a moment he asked, “We good?”

“Yeah...” Damien flashed a brief, small smile, though it faded into a frown again as he glanced away, looking contemplative.

Sam smiled, then addressing the room at large, said, “Alright then, we’re done for now. Everyone go do something else before dinner.” There was a collective sigh from the other four. Suddenly Sam smirked wickedly, “Except you, pretty boy.”

“What?” Erik asked, startled. “Why me?”

“Because you’re the weakest in close combat and you know it. I wanna work with you by yourself for half an hour.”

Erik sputtered, “I hardly see how that will make a difference!”

“If it doesn’t I can always keep you back longer.” Sam’s grin was decidedly evil, to which Matthew sniggered and Damien smirked.

James just sighed, shaking his head. When Erik turned to him, James shrugged, “Just get it over with, Erik.”

Erik rounded on Sam again. “I thought you were going to work with James.”

“Hay.” James frowned at the sudden turn around, “Don’t throw me under the bus just so you can duck out.”

Sam was still grinning. “He’s up later. You’re first.”

Erik looked around the rest of the group one last time before sighing with a frown, his hand coming up to massage his temples. “Very well, if you insist...”

Matthew clapped his hands together, looking amused. “Well, looks like we’re done till dinner… You three want drinks before I start cooking?” He asked, addressing Mika, James and Damien.

James shook his head, “No, thank you. If you’re alright with cooking I’ll just go check the map again and see if I can make any more progress in the library.”

“I can handle it, easy. What about you two?” Matthew said, turning to Damien and Mika.

Damien shook his head before glancing at Mika.

She shook her head too, “I’m good, thank you.”

Matthew nodded, “Alright then. Well, if anyone changes their mind, I’ll be in the kitchen. Later!”

With that Matthew all but skipped to the edge of the barrier closest to the kitchen and used the same method James had used earlier to push his way out.

As Matthew disappeared through the door, James made his way to the library again while Damien walked over to her. He looked apprehensive.

“Hay.” She greeted him with a small if nervous smile, taking in the change to his appearance. She was still curious, still wanted explore what she was seeing, those marks, and his horns in particular, however she also wanted to talk to him about what had happened earlier. “Um, you got time to talk?”

Damien ducked his head and nodded before pushing out of the barrier to stand next to her.

Feeling awkward she said, “You can change back, if you want to. I mean, of course you can but, I, er...”

Damien looked torn but didn’t change back. Instead he reached forward and took her hand in his. “Come on.” He said softly, and began to lead her up the stairs.

As they left the lobby, she heard Sam say to Erik, gleefully, “Alright then, lets see if we can sharpen you up.” Amidst the sounds of sparring that sounded behind them – and a pained yelp from Erik – she saw Damien smirk briefly.

Chapter Text

 

Heading back to her room, Mika watched Damien curiously, taking in the details of him and the expression on his face, which was troubled.The feel of his hand in hers was a little odd; it seemed normal but there was something niggling at the back of her mind that, distracted by so many other things, she couldn’t focus on.

Once they arrived he opened the door for her, then closed it behind them.

In the awkward silence that followed she took a breath, fighting her nerves, then said, “Damien… What… What was that earlier?”

“I’m sorry.” he said, looking genuinely regretful. “I should have controlled myself better. That wasn’t fair on you.”

“Are you jealous of Erik?” She asked bluntly, wanting to get this talk over with before her nerve gave out or she had time to think about it too much.

He nodded, not looking at her, then said a little defensively. “He went too far. You don’t know what an offer like that means for us.”

Mika frowned, “You mean, the way he...”

“The way he offered himself, and his horn, to you like that, yes.”

“… What did that mean for you guys?” She asked a little warily.

“A very forward, very blunt sexual offer, or…" he hesitated then said quietly, "or even courtship…” 

Mika took a breath at that, feeling her cheeks warm. “Oh… If he went too far then why didn’t anyone say anything?” she said with a note of accusation.

“Because whatever the meaning for us, no one, even Erik, would have made anything of it if you had accepted his offers to… explore. We know you are simply curious and no one would have made anything more of it.”

She frowned, “So.... he wasn't being serious from your perspective? Then, why would he do that?”

Damien was quiet for a moment before saying, “Because Erik is serious about wanting to have a sexual relationship with you, regardless of the fact that his offer did not mean to you what it would mean to a demon.”

“Oh.” Mika’s blush darkened. 

Damien sighed and looked at her then with sympathetic eyes. “I know you are curious and I don’t blame you for that. There is nothing wrong with being curious, in wanting to explore new things...” His expression became determined, yet a little torn. “I feel the same way about human things, and it would be hypocritical of me to deny you the same.” His look turned flirtatious suddenly, as though he had just flipped a switch. “If you want to explore that, to explore us as incubi… You can explore me.”

Taken aback by the sudden turn Mika blinked at him as her heart began to speed up. “Huh?”

“I’m serious.” He said, edging closer to her with a feline grace he had never noticed from him before. “Explore however you wish, wherever you want. I’ll talk you though anything you want to know.”

“Wha, I...” She fumbled, confused, a little aroused and slightly overwhelmed.

“You know I want you…” he said, voice going soft, “Anything that you want, any touch, you know I’ll welcome it.”

Heart hammering and feeling very warm, she look him over shyly. It wasn’t wrong to indulge if they both wanted it, right? Looking him over she couldn’t deny that the the way those ink-black stripes crossed his pale skin was appealing, alluring even, and she wanted to touch them. It helped that his figure was certainly pleasant; Broader then Erik or Matthew, but not so solid as James or Sam, he was certainly an attractive man.

Hesitantly she reached out and touched his chest, hand brushing lightly over his skin, crossing over those marks. Her breathing became just a little heavier as arousal began to coil in her body at the first pleasant sensation of warmth from his bare skin.

Focusing on his marks, she found there was no difference, no noticeable change at all between those black stripes and the normal looking skin. However, just as earlier when she had noticed something odd about holding his hand, there was something that niggled at her senses. As she slowly ran her hand lightly over his skin she realized it was not just his marks but his body as a whole. She closed her eyes, resting her hand more firmly against him. There was the barest hum of energy, of magic she realized, at the edge of her senses. Opening her eyes she focused on that and one of his stripes.

It’s like his voice, like he isn’t entirely physical... Keeping her eye on one of his stripes she frowned and blinked as she realized she couldn’t focus on it’s edge very well, like some kind of magic-eye painting.

“What…?” She breathed, curious and confused.

“They’re made from magic.” Damien said. “They move too, if I need them to.”

“Huh...” She closed her eyes again, focusing on the feel of him, of that quite hum of background magic. As she relaxed her attention was also drawn back to her link with him and curiously she focused on it. The emotions that she could read from him surprised her; wariness, pain, love, and…

Jealousy...

She opened her eyes to look up at him just as he flinched, looking away from her in shame. “Damien…?” She said, cautiously. “Is this… Is not using your glamour now… is this about what happened earlier with Erik? Is this all about… jealousy?

“You liked it.” He said, a hint of bitterness in his voice. “The way he opened up to you, the way he offered to let you explore him like that.”

“I...” She couldn’t deny it, she had liked that. “Yes...”

“I’m here. If you want that, explore it with me. Not him. Please.” There was a note of desperation in his voice and his eyes.

“Damien… Why? Why be jealous of Erik but not Sam? What happened with Sam earlier was a bit more serious, wasn’t it? And you set that up!” 

Damien flinched. “I, I trust Sam to never push me out.” He said in a small voice. “He’d never fight me.”

“… But Erik would... fight you?” She asked not quite able to get her head around what she was hearing.

Damien snorted bitterly. “It’s not a matter of fighting with him; Erik is a trained seducer. I have never known him to not win over someone who caught his eye before.” he said with a thread of fear and jealousy in his voice.

“A trained seducer?” She asked, both surprised and yet not. The very concept of being trained in seduction was not something she had even considered before, but it made sense for incubi.

“Yes… His mother is a member of a fanatical sect among demons of Lilith, called the Path of Lilies and she raised him according to their beliefs. Training in sex and seduction is considered normal education for them.”

Mika blushed at the notion of Erik being trained in sex. “So Erik is, um… one of them?”

Damien shook his head, his eyes turning sad and pained. For a moment she thought she saw a flicker of guilt. “For the sake of his mother, officially he was a follower of the Path of Lilies. But, he never wanted to be. Unofficially, in private, he wants nothing to do with them.”

“Are they that bad…?”

“They are extremists, and some of their practices are harmful. Most demons of Lilith avoid getting too involved with them because of that.”

“Oh...” Mika sighed, feeling sorry for Erik. “Well, if anything happens with me and Erik, you know it wont be serious, right? I don’t want to start anything serious with someone who doesn’t love me.”

Damien glanced away at that. “What if it were?” he said in a quiet voice.

“What?”

“What if it were serious?” he asked hesitantly. “What If Erik, or any of the others, bound their hearts to you, loved you… what then?”

She gave a slight breath of nervous laughter, “Heh, well, that isn’t going to happen, is it? Love is rare for demons, right? I doubt I’ll ever meet another that would love me, let alone any of them.”

Even without focusing she felt the spike of pain and fear in the link. His expression, on the other hand, was knowing. “And if it happens anyway?”

“I… don’t know...” she said, stumped by the question. It was unthinkable, not to mention impossible to answer fairly. For his sake she said, “I think I’d want to be your friend whatever happens, though.”

He gave a small sad smile at that and nodded as he looked down. “Could you promise me that? That you’ll always be my friend if nothing else?”

“I, I promise.” She said without thinking, concerned at his pain.

“Thank you...” He closed the remaining distance then, drawing her into a light hug.

Mika reciprocated, wrapping her arms around him. She blushed a little as she leaned against his bare chest, though she quickly relaxed as she enjoyed his warmth.

After a little while he said softly, “I was serious by the way… if you want to explore, you can do that with me.”

“… Earlier you said you wanted me to get to know you in your human glamour first.”

Damien snorted. “Well, that didn’t go to plan, did it?”

“… Do you want to use your glamour again now? I don’t mind.”

“You’d be disappointed if I did that.” He said softly.

“No, I…” She gave up her denial when she remembered that not only could he read her mind, he could feel her emotions through the link too. She sighed. “If you are uncomfortable, that’s more important.”

Damien held her tighter at that and kissed her hair. “Thank you… But it’s okay.” He moved them so she could look up at his face again. His expression was serious. “Mika, I love you. Yes, I want to get away from my past, to live a new life, but as long as this is with you, as long as I am with you, non of this,” he waved a hand to indicate his stripes, his horns, “really matters. You matter. You matter to me more then this ever will. So yes, if you want this, then so do I.”

“Damien...” She whispered, touched and overwhelmed. A part of her was a disbelieving too, that anyone would ever put their own wishes aside for her like that.

Damien leaned forward to rest his forehead lightly on hers. He said, “I wont deny I prefer my glamour, that I prefer to live without my powers, to be… human... But as long as I am with you, that doesn’t have to be all the time, if this is really what you want.”

She reached up to lightly run her fingers through the hair at the back of his head, avoiding his horns for now as she took in what he had said, prompting him to sigh and close his eyes. Aside from her own internal turmoil over his willingness to set his own wishes aside for her, she worried that if it weren’t for what had happened with Erik – and Sam’s lesson, practical as it was, if, she thought, a little harsh – Damien wouldn’t be doing this now. She sighed as she leaned forward slightly, resting against him too. She wanted to explore, to experiment, but the thought that he might not really want this made her hesitate.

Damien sighed and, opening his eyes, reached up to take her hands in his, moving them around until her fingers brushed his horns. The texture was exactly as she would have expected, hard and not quite as smooth as a fingernail. They were warmer then she would have imagined though, not as warm as his skin but still clearly warmer then room temperature. The hum of background magic in them was particularly strong.

“They are sensitive,” he said, “but its like with your hands, context matters, and preference.”

Mika froze as a thought occurred to her. “I-Is this safe? Earlier when you were fighting, Sam hurt James-”

Damien interrupted her with a soothing tone, “It’s fine, I promise. You need to hit someone hard for that to happen, hard enough to bruise. Anything less is completely safe.”

She nodded and sighed at that as she relaxed a little. Then she moved her head back a little to better see, a little wide eyed as she watched him. “Alright… W-what do you like?” she asked, giving up her resistance and letting curiosity, and Damien, guide her.

A smile pulled at his lips and a slight blush bloomed on his cheeks. “That depends on context, as I said…” He said, voice lowering with a touch of seduction.

Spurred on by his change in tone, playfulness warring with her hesitation she said, with the barest hint of coy teasing, “What about friendliness…?”

He smiled wider, mischief suddenly in his eyes, “Hm. Well, platonic friendliness, a light touch like this...” he moved her hands so only the side of them rested against his horns, her fingers in his hair. “Is normal for most demons of Lilith, and something I like very much.”

Smiling a little she curled her fingers through his hair, the sides of her hands shifting slightly against his horns with her motions. He sighed, eyes falling closed briefly, a small shiver running through him, making her smile more.

“You like this?” She asked, slightly breathless suddenly.

“Mmm…” He looked back at her then, that flirtatious mischief a little stronger now. “As a general rule, if you want to tease, you keep your touch light…” Moving her hands again, his fingers guiding hers, he trailed her fingers over his horns in a feather light touch that had him shivering again. Following his lead she ran her fingers the rest of the way around their spiral by herself in a soft caress that made him gasp slightly, before she let her hands fall to rest on his shoulders.

He chuckled, voice a little tight, breathing more heavily, “Yes, just like that...” His eyes more heated now, voice almost a purr, he said, “If you want to be more serious, you make your touch more firm…” He chuckled again, breathlessly, flushed, “I warn you though, don’t use your fingernails unless you are really serious… particularly on the inside of a ridge.”

Blushing herself now, she chuckled nervously. “So… not just sensitive, huh? They’re… erogenous.” She said, stating the obvious and blushing more as she remembered how close she had been to taking Erik up in his offer to explore earlier.

That could have been quite a scene… She thought as she imagined how Erik might have responded if she had followed her curiosity.

A frown flashed over Damien’s face, there then gone again in a heartbeat. Jealousy spiked the link just as briefly. Aloud, he said, still flirtatious, “Yes… They are...”

Brief as may have been, Mika didn’t miss his frown, his emotions. “S-sorry.” She said automatically, that feeling of being caged back again.

“No.” Damien said quickly, seriously. “I’m sorry. I… I’ll try to keep this under control, I promise.”

Mika nodded. Uncomfortable and, not knowing what to say, she decided to try and change the topic. Letting curiosity lead her again, she asked, “Um, with your horns, what about er, a more firm grip like, er...” She griped his shoulders, hands unmoving. “Like that.”

“Mm… Intimate, but could be platonic or sexual, depending...” he replied, his voice turning ssoft.

“… Depending?”

“Like, spending time with a loved one, simply basking in their presence...” As he spoke he gently took her hands again and moved them to rest on his horns. She closed her hands around them tentatively and he leaned his head forward to rest on hers again. “Just like this...” He said softly, his own hands moving to rest lightly above her ears.

Mika sighed deeply. She could see how this, with the addition of sensitive horns, would be particularly intimate for them. The memory of how Erik had touched her earlier, exactly like this, when he had thanked her, flashed through her mind. James had said it was an expression of affection, usually only done with those they felt close to, yet Erik had used this gesture with her...

Damien sighed, going tense for a moment.

Mika glanced up at him in mild alarm. I can’t help it… Why can’t I help it…?! “S-Sorry...”

“Stop.” he said, quickly, gently, “You can’t help but remember things when you are reminded of them. This is my problem, not yours.”

“I, er...” And like being told ‘don’t think about pink elephants’, now in trying not to think about Erik, all she could think about was Erik; the remarkable violet colour of his eyes, the way that seductive purr of his made her shiver, how he looked when he laughed…

Damnit…!!

Damien growled and Mika suddenly found her body pressed flush against his, his hands having flown to rest on her back and pull her close to him. She squeaked in surprise, her grip on Damien’s horns tightening and all thoughts of Erik vanishing from her mind.

Damien’s smirk was triumphant and his eyes seductive. “Don’t worry about not being able to control your thoughts… I can help with that...”

Mika shivered in the face of that look, her own body heating. She gave a small nervous laugh, “G-good job...”

“Mm...” He tilted his head down until his lips hovered just a hairs breath over hers, and stopped there. Mika found herself holding her breath, waiting for his kiss, and it took her a moment to realise that he was waiting on her to accept his offer herself. She complied, her mind in a daze, leaning up the rest of the way until their lips met in a soft kiss.

Despite her expectations, Damien kept the kiss gentle. Even when she tried to deepen it he steered them back to something tender. Soon she found herself melting into it. She noticed how he sighed when she flexed her grip on his horns.

He said context matters, that it can be platonic or sexual… Suddenly her mind stumbled on the obvious and she couldn’t help but picture what what it might look like to hold his horns during sex.

Damien moaned and before she had a chance to gather her bearings and remember Damien’s mind reading, he deepened the kiss and a flare of his enthralment magic washed through her. It died almost as soon as it hit but she was already kissing him passionately, almost desperately. Damien walked her backwards until her back lightly bumped against a wall, making her gasp. A small part of her mind debated on how much of a bad idea it would be to use her nails on his horns, just to see what he would do.

“I’ll warn you...” He said in a lightly teasing voice as he trailed kisses down her jaw and towards her neck, “I’m more… passionate… as a demon.”

“It affects your minds?” She gasped out, surprised. “Your glamour spell?”

“Mhm… It’s not just an illusion…” He said as he lightly kissed over the pulse point on her neck. “We are... partly transformed… into... whatever... form... we... take...”

“Ohhh… Ah! She jolted in surprise when she felt his teeth nip at her neck. It didn’t really hurt, but she wasn’t expecting it.

Damien chuckled as he came back up to lightly brush his nose over hers. “Sorry...”

Mika took a deep breath at that, smiling and flushed, if overwhelmed all of a sudden. This is all so much… She brought her hand up to rest her palm against his chest over his heart.

“Had enough?” He asked softly. Mika nodded, trying to get her breathing under control again. Damien smiled. “Alright…” For a long moment they stayed like that, until he asked, “What do you want to do now?”

“… Hold me?”

Damien couldn’t have looked happier.