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the song remains the same

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Goes both ways, in the end. The watching.

Fiore knows he’s only right to keep a close eye on the demon. Why, he could be up to all sorts. Plotting to steal the entity, trying to find a way into the upper reaches of heaven. Endless possibilities for treachery. It’s in his nature, after all.

Never put your trust in one of them.

For his part, Deblanc seems unbothered by Fiore’s scrutiny.

Three things, then, that Fiore has learned:

First off, that Deblanc’s preference for the area of the house containing the table, and the entity, is no accident.

Puts him closest to the door.

Second, that given an inch, the demon will happily take a mile.

Genesis.” He says in his quiet voice, and at first Fiore does not understand. He himself tries to avoid all but the most essential contact with the abomination. At first, though, their mutual proximity is all that will sooth it.

As things move along, however, and the two establish a begrudging rhythm with regards to their duties, the entity becomes less fractious.

“Knows we won’t go anywhere, now, don’t you?” Deblanc says, moving the can in an arc across the table’s surface. This causes the thing inside to make a strange noise, unlike anything Fiore has ever heard before. A sweet, sharp note, like a peal. Makes Deblanc bare his teeth, an expression that frightened Fiore at first (he’d rather die several times over than admit it), but that he now thinks is meant to convey content.

Fiore looks up from where he’s sitting, flat on the floor, in a corner. He’s got his blade out, turning it over in his hands. Not sure if he’s expecting the hordes of hell to fall upon them at any second, but just in case they do, it pays to be prepared.

Wishes he had a gun, to be quite honest. Prefers it. More range, less room for error. He tells Deblanc as much, a long time in the future, and his colleague throws back his horned head and laughs. “Course you would, my dear.” And well, it’s fair enough, so Fiore doesn’t argue.

Then, before, when Fiore is still learning, he meets the black eyes with their bloodied edges, wonders how he looks to the demon, with his light and his wings. He hasn’t used them. Where would he go? “It can’t know anything.” He says pointedly.

“It can.” Deblanc scoffs, and Fiore regrets speaking. Not only has he given the demon an inroad, but he senses he’s about to be thoroughly proven wrong. “Why else would it need us? Shown that much, hasn’t it?”

“Need ain’t knowing.” Fiore replies tightly.

Deblanc looks at him for a while. “Hark at you.” He says eventually. His tone pushes at Fiore, makes a quiver down somewhere in the pit of him- wherever it is he keeps his truth. “Got all the answers, have we? Tucked away under that nice shiny-”

An ear splitting whistle puts a quick stop to his words, blowing through the room, around the four walls and back to the spot it originated: the Domicile, rocking slightly with the force of its inhabitant’s existence, and apparent displeasure at the current state of affairs.

(oh, brilliant, Fiore catches himself thinking. Now it’s got him suspecting Deblanc might be correct after all, and that can’t mean anything good.)

The thought swells and buffets as it grows in his mind and in the room, fighting against its own certainty. Fiore doesn’t have to look at Deblanc to know that the same fact has struck him with equal force. Doesn’t like to think how he knows, either.

Genesis. Genesis.

Like a whisper, sharp and settling.

Fiore chances a look at the phone, wonders if he ought to call this in. Probably, but on reflection, not worth it. He’s never been one for trouble. Instead, he observes Deblanc’s reflection in the flat light of his sword.  “Now look what you’ve gone and done.” He says.

This, and it’s completely by accident that it happens, leads to Fiore’s third discovery.

That Deblanc can, and will, take human form with an almost frightening ease. The first few times he does it, it catches Fiore so off guard he finds himself looking around for his colleague, wondering if the demon hasn’t played some trick on him in order to get out of what must, for Deblanc, be a tedious and uncomfortable job.

(His eyes, though, they give him away eventually. Fiore’s never seen any that dark, that knowing, and doubts he ever will besides. So it’s no surprise they stay the same, whatever else Deblanc cares to change about himself.)

But he doesn’t abandon them. Things are not quite so bad as that. Seems Deblanc just finds it easy, which, frankly, is typical. Fiore makes a show of not being impressed, forgetting what he’s learnt thus far.

Because though Deblanc might not be about to run off, that doesn’t mean he can't leave.               

The first time is the worst. Genesis, more sure somehow after deciding on its name, has grown calm enough not to rage and shriek at the demon’s sudden absence (Fiore is unsure if he ought to be pleased with himself for showing the same level of restraint), but when Fiore realises Deblanc is gone all of a sudden, it’s because their charge is all of a sudden silent.

He panics.

It’s a memory Fiore prefers not to dwell on. (Standing, in the middle of the room, in the utter quiet. Facing the domicile, which does not so much as twitch. He finds himself stopped, and it is only for the sake of Genesis that he can stir the ghost of a single movement. How long it lasts, he doesn’t know.)

Deblanc reappears, his natural form back in place, a fistful of trinkets and a flash of teeth.

Fiore doesn’t speak to him for quite a while.

He doesn’t know where Deblanc goes, and he (tells himself) he doesn’t want to know.

Earth.

After all, he does always come back.

In that way at least, Fiore thinks, the demon has proven himself reliable.

(Secretly, Fiore is glad of it.)

~

Raguel calls for updates on occasion.

Fiore is prompt- answers the phone on the third ring. Keeps his answers brief, and deferential. Yes, everything’s just fine.

Doesn’t tell him that Deblanc is breaking the rules.

Occasionally- not all that often- Deblanc will bring something back. Fiore can summon things up with a thought, should he need them, but Deblanc, being Deblanc, is far more apt to steal. Not things of great importance- things Genesis might find interesting, mostly. Fiore can see the value in that, even if he doesn’t understand it.

The Domicile, Fiore slowly realises, must have been the product of a trip to earth.

Demons, after all, cannot create.

The easiest way to get something from Deblanc is to ask, so, after a time, he does just that.

(They are beginning to learn one another, whether they like it or not.)

Deblanc doesn’t seem surprised by the question. He leans back against the wall, gives Fiore one of those slow, slanted looks. Nods. “Went up for it myself. Nice little town on the edge of a mountain. Left out in the cold, but still. Hardly any rust.”

“Is that what you are? A scavenger?” It is, in retrospect, rather an unfair question.

Deblanc seems to consider it, straightening up. “I’m a lot of things.”

This, Fiore will later realise, is not an answer.

~

Awhile later, he tries again.

It’s a disaster.

Genesis is coming off of a tricky stage, quiet and subdued after another long absence on Deblanc’s part.

“Is it worth it?” Fiore asks shocked to find the words exiting his mouth. “Going down there all the time?” He amends, because Deblanc is looking at him in that way.

It is Deblanc’s habit to choose his words carefully, and give the appearance of doing anything but. “Well, y’know. Earthly pleasures and all.”

Fiore is irritated all of sudden. “No.” He says. “I don’t.”

That certainly gets Deblanc’s attention. “You’ve never? Gone up- down- just ‘cos?” Deblanc’s voice has lost its usual mocking tone. In fact, he seems genuinely surprised. Fiore looks anywhere but at his colleague, regretting having opened his mouth in the first place. Strange how often he finds himself in that situation. He never did before. He realises a sharp sudden longing for the company of the Host, for a thousand voices raised in unison, never a stray thought or unconscious action. Peace. 

Then, he wonders why he's barely thought of how things used to be. He's had plenty of opportunity, after all. 

With this thought buzzing at him, and the additional problem of thinking through how to react to Deblanc's sudden sincerity, Fiore is equally at sea- how ought he to position his body, direct his eyes? There’s no one here to tell him how to conduct himself, and it’s all he can do to cling to Raguel’s words.

“No.” He replies eventually. “Why should I have?”

Deblanc makes an up and down motion with his shoulders. “You seem as though you’d like it.”

And really, well, that’s not even-

“My duties were elsewhere.” Fiore manages to say.

Deblanc smiles. It’s not a nice thing. “The good little soldier.” He looks harder at Fiore then, eyes darkening. “How-”

“What?” Fiore snaps, regretting it immediately when the Domicile gives a sharp judder. Deblanc’s look turns reproving.

“Nothing.” The demon replies. Does the shoulder thing again. “Just wondered…how old you are.”

There’s not answer Fiore can give (truth told he doesn’t know, and even if he did, why would he tell Deblanc, of anyone?). When Deblanc realises that no response is forthcoming, he materialises, right at Fiore’s side.

Before Fiore can move away or be startled or have any sundry appropriate response to this action, Deblanc has extended one claw and pierced the edge of Fiore’s light. He steps back, finger covered in burning white, and whilst Fiore is still registering that Deblanc touched him, puts his hand up to his mouth, draws the finger between his lips and hmms.

So they really do have forked tongues, Fiore notes idly. His mind is in freefall. Wouldn’t have thought that old chestnut to be true.

Deblanc’s form flutters, and a second later he’s back where he was when this ridiculous conversation started, a wild look on his face. He says something under his breath, harsh and guttural, in a language Fiore has never heard before. “You-” Deblanc begins, and then huffs out a short, incredulous breath. “You’re practically a baby.” He says, and the way he looks at Fiore now…well, it’s different, almost accusing, and Fiore isn’t especially sure why, but he knows he doesn’t like it one bit.

He has no chance to object, strenuously, to that characterisation (because he’s existed through many Chords thank you very much, maybe not as many as Deblanc would have seen if he weren’t what he is, but that’s beside the point), because Deblanc has flipped his form and vanished out of the door.

Again.

On the table, Genesis extends a beam of colour over the lip of the Domicile. It remains there, conciliatory, and the entity starts to coo.

“No.” Fiore says, and is ignored.