AN: Sorry this took so long. For everyone who cares, there will be an update for everything that isn't on hiatus within the next few weeks, so heads up for that.
"So you're together now?" Tori asked dryly from where she was sitting sideways on the couch, her legs stretched out in front of her. Karolek shrugged nonchalantly.
Teague cursed his blush. "I... well, that is... What I mean to say..."
"Yes," Karolek replied when it seemed obvious that Teague was going to get nothing legible out. "Yes, we're together. Do you have a problem with that?"
Teague scowled at the demon. "Do you have to be so insensitive? She's had a hard day –"
"I'm not being insensitive," Karolek argued back, his eyes glinting. "I'm simply bringing the issue out into the open as it's clear you have no intentions of doing so."
Teague gritted his teeth, and stood up from the armchair he had been sitting in. "Are you implying that –"
"Children, children, I asked a simple question. I didn't mean to start a whole new argument between you two. Are you sure you're cut out for this? You haven't done anything but fight since we got home. Before that, even," Tori added thoughtfully, her gaze flicking between the angel and demon.
Something unreadable flashed across Karolek's face, and Teague set his teeth and whirled around to stalk out of the room. Tori said something indistinctly, and he heard Karolek's soft, murmuring reply, but neither were loud enough to make out the words, and there was a small pain in his chest that he couldn't identify.
It had been getting tighter and... denser, somehow, ever since that afternoon when they had gotten back and Tori had woken up. Karolek had been preoccupied by Tori's state, and while Teague had been concerned as well, he couldn't forget the way God had given him permission to love the demon...
It was confusing, and wrong, and there was nothing he could do about it... He'd have to have another talk with the Arch Angels.
With a world weary sigh, Teague exited the house quietly, and so as to avoid Karolek eavesdropping as he had done last time, the angel slowly made his way to the park down the road.
There was a secluded area in a grove of trees that successfully hid people from sight, and it was there he summoned help, opening his soul to plea for understanding from someone who knew more than he, whom he placed all his trust in.
And God answered.
The familiar light approached and Teague held back a gasp that was part groan because he really didn't want to talk to Gabriel right now...
Too late though, he bowed his head slightly in greeting as the glorious arch angel appeared before him.
"Good afternoon, Teague. You're having some problems."
It wasn't a question.
Teague looked up. "Yes."
Gabriel's expression was serene, mildly amused and mildly sympathetic. ""You've fallen in love with the demon."
Teague didn't like the way his superior had said that. He narrowed his eyes. "I'm not in love with him."
The amusement grew slightly. "No, of course not."
Teague scowled. "Don't patronize me either."
Gabriel sighed softly. "I'm not patronizing you, Teague. I'm merely stating a fact. God knows. You needn't bother hiding it from yourself anymore."
Teague felt light headed, somewhat panicked. "But I-"
The smaller angel stopped, and lifted a hand to his temple, curling his fingers in the pale silver hair. "All right." His tone was suddenly hopeless. "All right, I love him."
He looked up again at the sympathetic expression Gabriel had. "I love him, and I don't know what to do. Help me. Please."
Gabriel looked sad for a second, then nodded. "All right," he said softly.
Karolek smiled falsely at Tori as the door shut behind the angel. "So. Do you have any idea what happened to you?"
Tori rolled her eyes. "Karo..."
"It's best we start working on it immediately," Karolek continued quickly. "If we leave it, they might attack again, and if they attack somebody like Becca – she won't handle it."
"On the other hand, it seems likely that they'll do it that way... which means we should be keeping an extra good watch on Becca..."
The demon blinked and stared down at her. "What?"
Tori eyed him. "You're not getting away that easily. What were you thinking, becoming a couple with the angel? Have you not notice how unseeming and unnatural you are together?"
Karolek shrugged, but there was a sullen frown gathering behind his eyes. "Tori, leave it alone."
"No, I won't," Tori replied, struggling to sit up straight. "I've seen him, Karo. And I know you. You aren't suited to be together. So fuck the angel, and then ditch him. It'll only end painfully for you both otherwise."
Karolek's eyes narrowed. "Tori, I'm not going to discuss my practically non-existent sex life with you."
"Then don't," Tori countered heatedly. "But can't you see that you'll destroy each other if you try to have a 'solid' relationship?"
Karolek shook his head. "I don't believe either of us are that dysfunctional," he retorted angrily. "And you should keep out of what doesn't concern you. Now are you going to help me with the deciphering or not?"
Tori huffed, and crossed her arms, but settled back reluctantly. "Yes, fine, all right."
"Good. Now, tell me exactly what you remember again. I need to know who they were."
"So long as you don't kill them." The teasing note in Tori's voice was half serious. "I was walking with Claire to the college after our break – she works at the DQ – and everything got all wonky for a few seconds –"
"Describe 'wonky'," Karolek interrupted.
Tori frowned thoughtfully, considering. "Well, I don't know really. It was just all colourful and bright, and there seemed to be water ripples everywhere, even in the branches and leaves of the trees. I think there were strange patterns – you know the kind you get when you press your hands too hard into your eyes? Like that. I doubt I can explain it any better than that..."
"No, no," Karolek mumbled, his attention distracted. "That's fine. That's very good, actually; most people tend to forget the effect demons have on them before they lose consciousness."
"I've never felt that way around you," Tori said, mildly accusingly.
Karolek sighed and sat down, resting his elbows on his slightly parted knees as he stared blankly ahead at nothing. "Well, I've gotten better at shielding myself over the last few years."
Tori eyed him speculatively. "How many years is a 'few'?" she asked softly.
"Couple a hundred," Karolek answered nonchalantly. "But we don't talk about that, remember?"
Tori sighed. "No, I remember."
There was silence for a short while, the clock ticking seemed to gain volume and lose speed until Tori ventured another question.
"Do you know who it was then?"
"Maybe," Karolek looked briefly pained. He didn't want to think about the time all those millennia ago when he was 'friends' with a small group of powerful and significant demon lords... If 'friends' could ever be the right word to describe a demon. "I have a few ideas of their identity," he allowed, feeling Tori's gaze on his profile.
She sighed, obviously noticing his reluctance to look at her. "You're not going to tell me, are you."
"No," he agreed, half smirking. "I'm not."
She sighed again and lay back down, hand trailing idly over the carpet as her arm hung off the couch. "Karo..."
"Thanks. I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't-"
"Shush, Tori," he replied softly. "It's okay. How many times must I tell you that I'm not going to leave you unprotected when you need it most? It's my fault you're in trouble like this, and I'll get you out again."
He heard her smile in her reply. "And the fact that you love me has nothing to do with it?"
"Of course not," he teased back. "It's just a minor, bothering detail that is often overlooked."
She was grinning when he looked over at her again. "At least I know the truth now," she quipped.
He gave her a confused look. "What?"
She only smiled mysteriously and shook her head, and Karolek sighed and settled back against the couch, his mind drifting to other matters.
Such as a certain angel, who he could feel approaching.
Teague walked slowly, his mind still swimming in circles of torment because he still didn't know what to do. Gabriel had assured him that there was little he could do, had explained a few things about angels in love and it made sense on some level now, but Teague still doubted he was in love.
After all, it was a demon! A lower level devil, who had admitted to crimes that should be repulsive and wrong, and yet he was expected to forgive him so easily.
It was clear God already had, and Gabriel and the other archangels always did what God told without the slightest hint of resistance, their trust in him was infallible. But Teague...
Well, it was a demon!
Millenia of stories, about the war, about the lower pits of hell, about the things demons could and would do if given a chance... Well, it was a little harder to accept that one of them could be loved.
Especially the way Teague was told he did.
He slipped into the house, not wanting to be noticed, only wanting to be alone, to go into his room where privacy and solitude could give his thoughts free reign and let them go where they wanted to drift, let him puzzle the whole matter through because it was with difficulty that he could find that kind of peace in another room of the house.
Unfortunately, it seemed God wanted this out in the open immediately. He had barely closed the door behind him than Karolek was slipping in, shutting the door closed again. The demon leaned against the wood and Teague stared at him hostilely from the bed where he was already sitting. "What?"
"Have a good conversation?" Karo replied smoothly, ignoring the sullenness.
Damn him. This was all his fault.
"Yes, as a matter of fact," Teague threw his arms out angrily, giving a laugh that twisted in his throat. "Welcome to my world! Apparently there's nothing I can do about it."
"About what?" Karo asked sharply, latching onto the thing Teague least wanted to talk about.
Teague glowered at him, then sighed, feeling his angry disbelief melt away, sensing that God had had enough. "You."
"Me?" Karo sounded too amused for Teague liking, and he grabbed his pillow and whipped it at the demon's head, biting his lip to prevent the inevitable smile from showing when Karo was surprised into laughing. "You have a problem with me?"
"I've always had a problem with you," Teague told him absently, lying down and staring up the ceiling. "Now it's just gotten harder. And bigger."
"Right," Karo remarked quiety, and Teague heard him coming closer but couldn't be bothered moving. It was just all too much…
"Can I comb your hair?"
The question surprised him into lifting his head, raising his brows in honest surprise. "What?"
"Comb your hair. Can I do it?"
"It's not wet."
"You use brushes when it's dry, don't you?"
Karo grinned at him, his teeth glinting. "Sure. Can I brush your hair then?"
Teague sighed, giving in for the moment. "Yeah, I guess…"
The demon wandered to the small dresser and picked up the hairbrush, coming to sit on the bed beside Teague's head. "Shove over then. And sit up, would you?"
He rolled his eyes but sat up, turning around a little so Karo could reach his hair easier. "Why do you like my hair so much?"
"Never seen this shade," came the mumble from behind him, accompanied by the sensation of fingers threading through his hair. He didn't have any knots – he didn't think he had ever had a knot in his entire existence, but the fingers were gentle and he leaned into the touch after a minute, relaxing completely.
Teague barely felt the soft kiss when it came, only noticing that the brush had stopped brushing when Karo was lifting his hair away from his neck and slowly trailing kisses up his nape.
Teague hesitated for long enough for Karo to notice his tension and ignore it, then relaxed with another sigh. It felt nice – calm and comforting, and it was only kisses, after all. Arms snaked around his chest, pulling his back firmly against the demon's chest, the kisses halted for the moment, and Teague breathed in deeply, dropping his head back against Karolek's shoulder, half asleep.
They still had a lot of things to puzzle out, a lot more to work on and decide, but for now…
For now, it was okay to just have this.
Chapter title from Air Supply's Young Love:
'I know I'll be the one to lose if I'm so wrong
Don't be afraid to put your heart on the line
I'll take you where I know you belong'