"Put me to sleep evil angel.
Open your wings evil angel. Oh.
Fly over me evil angel.
Why can't I breathe evil angel?"
-Evil Angel, Breaking Benjamin
Alex was sitting on the floor, pain still etched across his features each time he moved. His voice was soft, because the person listening to him had above average hearing, and he didn't want anyone else to listen in. His eyes flicked around restlessly as he recounted his journey here, his hands fluttered occasionally, as if he were still trying to fight off the two Demon Hunters that had accompanied him. They had left many scrapes and bruises on him, dried blood and dark marks painted the canvas of skin. His light blue eyes didn't look bright, but washed out, like faded denim. The Hunters that were with him had been killed by the voice stealer, he was only lucky that he had managed to grab one of the lights and keep himself alive.
Kari was sitting down on the floor, cross legged. Her eyes never left his face as he spoke and her expression grew more and more troubled as the tale went on. She was normally as fidgety as he was, but now she was very still. Coldness settled over her and she felt numb. Gabriel was after her again, he knew right where she was. He had sent Alex to them, a message, that he could find her any time he wanted. The question that was left to ask was, what was he waiting for? As far as she could tell, not even Alex knew that.
The demon paused to try and get comfortable, and Kari's eyes flickered back to the third person in the room. Xerex didn't seem to be doing any worse, at the very least. She had brought Alex here to talk, because she knew that no one would disturb them in her friend's sickroom. Once he had finished the story of his journey here, he leaned back against the wall, wincing at the pain it caused him. Kari felt her anger flare, she didn't exactly consider Alex a friend, but the way he was treated still made her blood boil.
She had healed the worst of his injuries, but he hadn't let her heal all of them, saying it was a waste of energy when they would be gone in a matter of days. Hugin was pecking at the floor, hopping around Kari. The bird didn't seem to notice or care that his companion was missing. Kari still hadn't seen any sign of the other raven. She had been too distracted to really look for him, and it was the last thing on her mind.
When he finished the room was silent and Kari's eyes fell to the floor. She traced one of the interwoven branches that made up the ground. "Do you know how he's planning on doing it this time? Killing me I mean…" Kari's words came out cold and detached, as if she were asking about something she had seen on the news that she didn't care about in the least.
Alex studied her for a moment before answering, "He doesn't want to kill you this time around Kitten. He wants you to become his heir." She looked up sharply, waiting for him to rebuke this.
"That's insane, I would never work with him," she hissed, her eyes reprimanding him for even suggesting it.
Alex raised one eyebrow, his gaze sliding up to Xerex. "I think he has a deal in mind Kitten, one that you will likely not refuse."
She didn't say anything to that. She had already guessed as much, but it was still different to hear it from someone else. Alex knew that Xerex was her weakness, nearly everyone did except for the demon himself. "I have to save him, no matter what it takes. You're supposed to be a genius right, any ideas?"
He didn't think it was possible for it to get any darker, but it was. He knew he was soon to leave this place, there wasn't much time left. He hadn't heard anything in a long time, so he was surprised when not one, but two voices cut through the dark.
The first one was the same voice that always talked to him, but they weren't addressing him this time, "I can't do it. I'm not strong enough, you think I haven't tried?"
The second voice made him feel angry for some reason, "You can't tell yourself you're going to fail. What if you pour everything into it, you're telling me that all of your strength wouldn't be enough?"
The first voice was quiet for a long time, and when they spoke it was hushed, "If I do that, there might not be anything left of me." That thought scared him, what would happen to that person if they disappeared. He knew he was leaving soon, but the thought of something happening to the person who spoke to him so often filled him with sadness.
"Then you just have to decide if it's worth the risk," if he could have spoken he would have told them that it was not. He was content to let himself fade into death. He didn't mind. He waited but there were no more voices. The person must have decided not to risk it, he was okay with that. There was nothing left now, all he had to do was let go. He was trying to, to fall back deeper into the waters, to truly die and leave this half state. However, it was harder than he thought to let go of a life he didn't even remember.
Suddenly pain coursed through him, reminding him of where his body ended and the water began. Heat and fire coursed through him, racing through his veins and pushing the cold away. He was pinned down by the pain, just as he had been the dark. He could hear a scream, but he wasn't sure which voice was screaming. It took him a moment to realize it was neither of them, it was his own scream pulling him out of the dark.
Xerex hit the floor, his scream finally ending. The last thing he remembered was trying to convince Kari to leave him. His body was soaked in sweat, and he felt weak. His breath was coming in pants, and he felt like someone had hit him over the head. Where was he? The tree house village, in the room they had given him. The floor alone assured him of that.
His leg hurt from the fall, he must have rolled out of his hammock. Curled over the floor, the demon realized that last he remembered he hadn't even had the strength to sit up, but now he was holding himself up with no problem. His vision was slowly clearing, and a whimpering sound came from his right.
Two large black wings took up most of the room, and curled up between them was Kari. He tried to move and get to her, but he was still a little woozy after waking up, and he couldn't really get himself to move. Someone was already by her side. He blinked a few times, clearing his vision.
One arm was wrapped around her shoulders, holding her up, careful to avoid the feathers which were razor sharp. "Kari, are you alright?" Xerex growled, he knew that voice.
He still couldn't move, but he could talk, "Get away from her, Alexander." The other demon met his gaze, looking a little afraid of him, but he didn't let go of the girl, "If you don't get your hands off of her I'll make you wish I had killed you before."
"If I let go of her, she's going to freak out, and possibly kill everyone in a five mile radius," Alex said, glancing down at the demon in his arms. She was shaking, eyes closed and talons dug into his shirt, clinging to him. She was afraid, and a scared demon in this state was more dangerous than a murderous demon in their right mind. He kept his voice low and soothing, "As soon as she calms down, I'll let go."
Xerex wanted to argue, but one look at Kari confirmed Alexander's words. Instead he sat up, trying to get used to moving again, "What happened?"
"You've been in a coma for five days, she pulled you out of it, and destroyed the toxin in your body," Xerex looked at her in shock, he didn't think she was that strong, and it was clear that using that much power had taken a toll. "She wasn't sure that she would even survive it," Alex added, "I figured she would though."
He still wanted to tear the demons hands off for touching her, but instead he asked, "Why did she even try then?" The look that the other demon gave him said that he should know the answer to that. Finally Kari's eyes opened, and her pupils returned to almost normal. Alex let go of her and she sat up on her own, holding her head in her hands. "Kari?"
She looked up sharply, staring at Xerex. She had pictured him waking up so many times, but she hadn't really thought it could happen. Now she wanted to cry. "I-I did it?" She looked to Alex for confirmation, who just nodded.
She wanted to remain happy, despite the situation they were now in. Once Gabriel realized he couldn't use Xerex to gain Kari's allegiance, he would find other ways to use her affection for the demon against her. Xerex spoke again, this time he sounded angry, "Kari, do you want to explain to me what he is doing here?"
"Perhaps I should let you explain that one on your own Kitten," Alex ruffled her hair and stepped over one of her wings. Xerex snarled at the way he casually touched her, and the fact that she didn't even flinch away from him made him even more suspicious.
Kari waited for Alex to leave. She should have just told Xerex the same day that she had told him everything else, maybe he would have been over it by now. She looked back at him, his expression was one of barely contained rage. "Ok, I know this looks... kind of bad," she started.
He sat up, if he had the energy he would have been pacing. "Kind of bad? Kari, he was leading a group of demons to kill you the last time you were here!" Xerex snarled. What in the world could make the two of them team up? He was furious, beyond furious. Every time he thought of Alex holding her he wanted to find the demon and tear him to pieces.
"Will you shut up and let me explain!" Kari shouted, her wings fluffing up in her anger. Hugin fluttered a little further away, disturbed by the fighting. "When I got here I was completely overwhelmed. I had no idea what was going on, the whole realm had gone mad since I was gone. I had to find someone I could get information from, but I had no way of inconspicuously finding demons that I knew. I heard someone talking about Alex being alive and hiding, so I found him."
"He should have been the last person for you to go to for information," Xerex replied in a low growl. She should have found him, or Lucas, or even Sandra, before seeking out the very demon that had wanted her dead. He didn't want Alex here, he was bad news.
"Well I didn't have a lot of choices. Anyways, since Envy left him, he had regained his sanity, and changed a lot. He told me had happened since I left, and agreed to help me find out what Gabriel was planning, while I infiltrated the Hunters," she explained.
He shook his head, even more angry than before. She had been working with him for that long? "So you never thought to mention that you were receiving information from that rat? Why do you keep hiding things from me?"
She winced, here was the part where this got tricky, "I'm sorry, I really am, I just didn't know how to tell you. I swear I'm not hiding anything else, and I never meant to keep this from you for so long. Gabriel caught Alex and beat him up, then he sent two Demon Hunters to bring him to me to prove something."
"How do you know he isn't just working for Gabriel again?" Kari couldn't say she hadn't thought about it, but she knew better. "Better yet, how can you expect me to trust him?"
"I'm not asking you to trust him," she finally managed to get her wings folded against her back, "I'm just asking you to trust me." The light above them flickered momentarily, before the flame grew again and the shadows receded back to their corners.
He didn't answer her, instead he replied, "We have wasted too much time here because of me, we should leave in the morning." He could only assume it was night, by the fact that he could not hear anyone walking around outside. During the day hours the walkways were busy, only at night did the traffic slow down, until only the lamp checkers were left.
"Are you sure you're strong enough to leave that soon?" Kari replied, carefully standing up. She looked down at her arm, sure enough, there was not even the slightest trace of Misery's demon mark left. She knew this could present a problem but it was one she would worry about later.
"I'm fine," he replied. Now that the argument was at least momentarily over, Kari closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around him. Xerex stayed still, "Kari?"
She rested her head on his shoulder, "I didn't think you were going to survive. I'm so glad you're okay." Xerex allowed his anger to dissipate and wrapped his arms around her, careful of the wings on her back. "We'll leave tomorrow morning, so long as you're feeling up to it."
"I'm kind of hungry," Xerex observed, feeling a little awkward. Kari laughed, hugging him tighter and letting go. "I really need to stop letting a girl save my life you know, it's not good for my image." This just made her laugh harder.
"Do you want me to go get you food?" He considered saying yes, just because it took so much energy just to stand up, but he could manage, and he knew she was wiped out from the energy she had expended to save him.
"No, I can handle it, you need rest," he helped her up and walked her back to the room she had been staying in. "Kari, just be careful around Alex... alright?"
She narrowed her eyes at him, but she agreed. She didn't care that he was angry at her, which she knew he still was. He could be as mad as he wanted, for as long as he wanted, so long as he was alive. She started to let the cloth fall in front of the doorway but she stopped and turned around. "Hey Xerex, when you were in that coma, do you remember anything that you heard?"
He thought for a moment, trying to think back, "No, nothing. Why?"
She shook her head, "No reason, I just talked to you sometimes." She let the fabric drop between them before he could ask what she had said. She waited to see if he would come ask her, but she heard him walk away instead.