Chapter Two - Demon at the Door
Xavic wasn't a demon in the traditional Christian sense. He had flashed me sharp teeth, and I think he might've had claws and wings and a tail in his other form, but the shape he took as he leaned against my checkout counter was very human looking. He was taller than me, putting him around six or six foot two, and his skin was a dark shade of caramel-tan. His thick, long ivory hair stood out in contrast against all that delicious caramel, and as he flicked his eyes up to look at me, my breath nearly caught in my throat. His eyes were the eyes of a predator; slitted like a cat's and bright amber yellow, like someone had turned the saturation on an October moon way, way up. They were like glittering topazs in the creamy darkness of his face, and it was an effort to look away. But that was part of his charm; he was magickally augmented to draw attention. He was literally too pretty to look at sometimes. It was how he hunted.
I crossed my arms over my chest and glared at him with my own fierce, grass-green eyes as I approached, the counter still between us. "Put Irwin down and get out. I'm not in the mood for you today." I said, my tone harsh and commanding.
Xavic looked down and grinned at the lightly flailing bird in his grasp, then turned those predator eyes on me, and even though he said nothing, I knew he was thinking about me in the same position. He released Irwin a moment later, and the raven pecked his beak fiercely in the demon's direction before fluttering weakly over to me. I caught him mid air and held him to my chest, calming him as I continued to glare at Xavic.
Xavic hadn't hurt Irwin. He never did. He had simply annoyed the bird, thusly annoying me. That was all he ever did - find new ways to annoy me. I knew Xavic was powerful in his own right, but I never really saw him as a threat. He was mostly a bothersome aquintance I occasionally, (reluctantly), did business with.
The demon straightened up and continued looking at me, putting his hands on his hips to mock my stance from earlier.
"You're so mean to me, Lucilla Sinclaire. Here I am, coming to say hello to you on this fine, frigid evening and you've already kicked me out without an explination." The tongue that I knew was forked clicked in his mouth as he 'tsk'ed me. I snorted.
"All you ever do is come in here, eat, and leave. I can't afford, literally, to have you disrupting my shop's energies. Those sage sticks cost a lot of money I don't have. Why don't you go hang around the hospital or something? Lots of energies to eat there." I said, releasing Irwin who had settled comfortably into glaring at the man across the counter. He hopped up from my arms and perched on my shoulder, flaring his wings and hissing. He was sinister looking now because he meant it, but Xavic payed him no mind.
The demon leaned on my counter again, the cream and black pin-stripe jacket he had on falling open to reveal a dark gray button-up underneath. It fit the muscled swell of his chest nicely, and like a man watching a woman who's flashed tantalizing cleavage, I had trouble looking away for a moment. I knew it was part of his magicks; he was a Catalyst demon, and part of his job was to evoke emotions in others, and then feed off that energy. This 'feeding' sustained him, but also allowed him to product a type of crystal I had only heard about, that served as a sort of battery for his higher-ups. I had actually been curious about his 'trade', but it was Demon Court business, and I didn't want to get that involved. Plus, that would have meant I would have had to talk to him for more than five minutes, and Goddess knows I didnt want to do that.
But still... he just looked so... nice.
I took a deep breath, trying very hard to keep my eyes from him. I stared down at the counter for a heartbeat and centered myself. Lust was the emotion Xavic had chosen to concentrate on for centuries, and it had served him well. He was very good at seduction, magickally or not.
I cleared my throat and shook my head, the rings in my ear jingling harshly in the silence of the shop. I looked up to his tanned, sculpted face, and tried my very hardest to muster up some kind of scowl. I don't think it worked, because he just grinned at me again, and though the expression was laced with a hint of his influencial magicks, the sharp teeth that lined his mouth made me think unpleasant things and my own expression reflected it truly.
He broke the silence first, bringing my attentions back to the conversation.
"Ah, but my dear Lucy, you've no idea what you're comparing. The hospital is a fine resource in an emergency, but it is like dining on pre-packaged, processed foods. Its dull and lifeless and not at all exciting. And my crystals always come out..." He waved his hand in the air as he thought, "Lumpy." His expression changed and I saw his eyes roam over the soft, rounded features of my... face, I think. "You and your little shop on the other hand…"
He reached out his hand then and I flinched as he stroked his too-hot fingers against my face. It wasn't out of disgust or surprise; I was just wary of the long, sharp pointed fingernails on his hand. They were a mere shadow of the claws of his true form, but I didn't doubt they would hurt If he nicked the soft skin across my cheek. Irwin hissed at the demon touching me, but didn't physically protest. There wasn't really anything he could do anyway, and my remaining impassive was our best defense.
I let out a very short, soft sigh as his hot skin brushed against mine, and clinched my fists, trying not to give in to the full effects of Xavic's magicks. He must have been starving because he was trying very hard today, but the bite of my nails in my palms helped clear my head. When his delicate brushing didn't work, he moved to press his whole palm against my cheek, cupping it in the warmth of his hand. Being a demon, Xavic's body temperature ran hotter than humans by about fifteen or twenty degrees, so his skin was always fever hot. But today, he was so hot I thought he might have burnt my freckles off.
I scoffed at him and pulled my head back, forcing his hand to move away from my face.
"You're really trying too hard today, Xavic." I said, having had enough of his attempts to force emotional food from me. I raised a hand between us and drew my fingers through the air in the shape of a sigil I knew very well. As I did, the bright blue glow of my magick filled the space and my shield sunk into place, heavy yet invisible. It wouldn't keep him from touching me, but I atleast wouldn't be bothered by his lust magick.
He frowned at me, his amber-honey eyes glowing with slight frustration for a moment before the soft light faded. I usually erected a magickal shield at one point or another when we had these nonsense visits and he'd never shown this kind of irritation. Maybe I'd struck a nerve today. Or… was he really that hungry?
I raised an eyebrow at my mock-enemy, and his expression softened a bit. He sighed dramatically and spoke.
"I suppose you're just going to be difficult today, Lucy." He winked at me, and I felt nothing behind the solid warding of my shield.
I smiled sweetly back at him. "I'm always difficult, Xavic."
His expression went a bit rigid, and he frowned at me, before reaching into the jacket pocket of his nicely tailored suit.
"Yes, yes, well, I suppose you won't be wanting my delivery then, hm?" He pulled out a package, something medium sized, and heavy looking, wrapped in linens. He sat it on the glass counter between us, and Irwin shifted on my shoulder to get a better look. "I got those supplies you asked me for last week."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "You got the whole list, in a week?"
He nodded, tossing a bit of stray, ivory hair over his shoulder. He smiled wide at me, looking quite proud of himself.
I eyed him for a moment, warily, before unwrapping the package. It turned out to be several smaller packages, all arranged neatly, and wrapped individually in pretty, wispy papers. He even went so far as to label them for me, though his handwriting was thin and spidery and I had to squint to make some of it out. I counted it all, going over the list mentally in my head.
"Wow, it's actually all here." I looked up at him, watching him watching me. I couldn't help but grin. It was a small grin, and more than he deserved.
"Every hornsblood, and morning-star. Every herb and essence and ingredient you asked for." He smiled again, but it was somehow more genuine this time and less 'I-want-to-eat-you'.
"You know I only gave you that ridiculous list last time so you'd leave , right?" I raised a brow at him, my grin persisting.
"I'm aware, Lucilla. But part of our... acquintanceship is me getting you rare supplies, yes? Things you could not otherwise get yourself?" His eyes lighted up humorously.
I sighed and nodded. "Yes, I remember our 'deal'. I'm still dreading the day when you'll call in your favor."
I glared at him, folding up the package of supplies. It was true, I'd made a deal with the devil. Quite literally. I owned Xavic one single favor, anything he'd ask of me, and he could call it in at any time. It was one of my most guarded secrets. I'd made the deal when I was young, and stupid. And drunk too, I think. Witch society usually frowned on deals with demons. It did nothing good for our public image.
But hey, it was college. You can't really call yourself an adult until you've made atleast one huge mistake. Xavic was my big mistake, and so far, I hadn't figure a way out of it. There was a runic symbol, burned in black ink just over my ribcage, and the mark was a sign of our deal. It was a pretty, loopy design, a circle with a language I didnt understand written on the outside of it, going all the way around. A part of me had liked the way it looked, but not what it meant. I had begged Xavic the morning after to reverse it, told him I was drunk, and I didn't mean it... I'd even threatened him, but I couldn't do anything to him. Not until his favor was called in, and Xavic had said more than once that "a favor from a witch is a rare and powerful commodity, one he was not keen to let go of so easily".
I sighed again, my breath heavy and tired. My hand moved to the place on my ribcage where the mark was. I could feel it under my t-shirt, warm and very lightly pulsing, like it gave off an aura on its own - hot, dark magick brought to life when he was around me.
Remembering my predicament put me back into my bad mood, and I scooped up the package on the counter, placing it on the shelf behind me for the moment, my body language stiff and angry.
"Thank you for your delivery. You can go now." I looked over my shoulder at him, my eyes full of real anger this time. "Please." It was an effort not yell.
His face softened into something real then; not playboy, not coy... just something almost human. He straightened up, smoothing his jacket, and looking bothered about something. I couldn't quite place his expression.
"Am I really so terrible to you, Lucy? Am I really such a bad option? Yes, you've made a deal with me, my mark is on your body. But of all the demons in all the world, you should feel lucky it was me, and not someone else. They could have done more than simply marked you into an agreement." His face darkened, his eyes tight around the edges, as if he were offended at my anger. Him, offended at me!
"Lucky? Lucky? How can you say that? You're a demon Xavic. You are absolutely the worst and last creature on Earth I would ever have considered binding myself to. You took advantage of me when I was young and stupid, and I'll never forgive myself for that." I spun on my heel, approaching the counter in a single step, and slammed my hands down on the class countertop. It shook a bit, making a clinking sound around the edges. It was not the best made countertop in the world.
I felt my magick flare to life then, cool and sharp. The sigil I'd traced in the air earlier appeared again, bright and blue, like a piece of sky burning between us. I forced my anger into that sigil, forced all of my frustration at this situation, at my situation and the supidity of my youth into that single runic shape. Irwin hissed on my shoulder, picking up on my emotion, and for a moment, his eyes glowed blue, like the magick in the air.
"Get. Out." Two words were all it took. The sigil in the air turned, and took on a new shape, and so did the magick surrounding it. What once was cool, and blue, and crisp like winter sky turning into something hot, and red, and angry. It prickled along my skin, made Irwin caw loudly into the emptiness of the store. I stared at Xavic, across the counter top. I was angry, so angry at him, and myself. I was angry I was bound to a demon, even in such a small way, and that there was no way I could get myself out of it. I felt tainted, sinful. Violated.
Xavic winced at my magick biting along his skin, blowing his ivory hair behind him. He started to disappear around the edges, the line of his body leaking into something whispy and black, like smoke. His preferred method of travel was by smoke cloud, so I knew he was leaving, though I wasn't entirely sure if it was my magick forcing him out, or if he'd made the wise choice to leave.
I drew my anger and my magick back as I saw him dissolving. I swallowed it down like a pill, and it burned my throat on the way back to wherever it was that my power came from. Xavic was mostly smoke now, black and whispy, and it curled around my body, as if he were standing behind me, but not. I heard his voice leave his barely formed mouth.
"I am truely sorry, Lucilla, that I make you this upset. It is not in my intentions."
I had the sensation of his mouth hovering over my cheek. I didn't turn my head, or open my mouth to reply. I simply stared at the glass beneath my hands, cracked very slightly from where I'd smacked it.
A heartbeat passed, and he was gone, but I had felt something in that last second. He had been sad to go.
Why? He was a demon, they didn't really have feelings, did they? Why would he have been sad to go, even if he had feelings? I cried out, so frustrated I wanted to cry. I leaned my top half over the counter and set my forehead against the cool glass, thinking very hard, and trying not to think at all, at the same time. I had never gotten this angry with him before. I had never actually tried to get him to leave. What was up with me?
Maybe it was PMS.
I stayed hunched over for a few moments, thinking quietly to myself until I felt the point of Irwin's beak against my arm; his version of tapping. I rolled my head to the side, looking out at my familiar through waves of my red hair. Irwin was alert and motioning toward the shop's front door.
Red and blue lights flashed in a pattern through the store, as a knock came.
The police were here?