Sitting on her soft, comfy couch, inside her warm, cozy apartment once again felt like heaven. She had returned the previous day and even though she had been away for just about a month and a half, Zoe felt like it had been a whole year. She had missed home terribly. Sipping her hot chocolate contentedly, she went through the heaps of emails that had accumulated during her absence. She would have to reply to quite a few worried emails from friends who hadn't heard from her in a while, as well as try to get her job back or start looking for a new one. She had already talked to her uncle on the phone and had promised to visit them as soon as possible after reassuring them that she was well and unharmed. Hopefully, her life would soon go back to the way it was.
She heard the bathroom door swing open.
'Well… not quite like the way it was,' she reminded herself as she watched Abaddon saunter over to the living room in all his naked glory, his long raven hair still dripping from his shower.
"I know you can't really catch a cold," she said, "but how about putting some clothes on?" she suggested.
"Why? Don't you appreciate the view?" he teased her before plopping down onto the armchair. "After all no one else is watching, right?"
A tiny smile playing on her lips, Zoe shook her head, but didn't insist. She went back to her laptop while Abaddon browsed through the channels on the TV. He found nothing to his liking, so his interest turned back to the girl after a short while.
"Your new apartment is… cozy," he commented. "But it's hardly any bigger than your old one. We should start looking for a bigger apartment. Or better yet, a house. Preferably in the suburbs."
"My apartment fits both of us comfortably," Zoe replied. "And I happen to like it very much. Plus, I will have a hard time keeping even this one unless I start working again soon."
The demon scoffed. "Money is not a problem. I can get lots of it in no time."
Zoe looked up from her laptop. "Abaddon, you can't go back to stealing and grabbing anything you like," she reprimanded him. "There are rules you have to follow now. I have no doubt that the angels are going to be keeping a really close eye on both of us from now on. If you do anything remotely evil, Metatron will come for you."
"Relax, I can get money without breaking any rules," he reassured her. "There are Satanists in this city, remember? Not many, but most of them are very well off. Now that I'm not wanted anymore, I can mooch off of any one of them. They'll gladly provide for their demon lord and the angels won't bat an eye."
"I don't want you socializing with any Satanists," Zoe made clear. "Or any other demons."
He guffawed. "Oh really? You think that just because I escaped Hell, betrayed my King and conspired with Heaven against him to be with you, that means that you've got me wrapped around your little finger?"
"Wow, you're spot on," she confirmed with a mischievous smirk. "That's exactly what I think."
Faking a growl, Abaddon moved to the couch, pushed the laptop screen down and grabbed her roughly.
"I think it's time for me to remind you who's the master in this relationship," he decided.
Zoe giggled and offered little resistance as he pushed her down onto the couch, buried his face between her breasts and started peeling away her clothes.
Metatron averted her eyes from the window, shaking her head. "It is rather disturbing," she remarked.
Perched upon the rooftop of the next building, the two angels had a direct view into Zoe's apartment.
"A relationship like this one might be… slightly unnatural," the green-haired angel admitted, "but as long as it brings out the best in Abaddon, why should we disapprove of it?"
The archangel sighed. "I admire your optimism, Qaphsiel. In my opinion, there is nothing good left in Abaddon or any other of the Fallen Ones. They have been away from our Father's grace for far too long. They have turned themselves into monsters."
Qaphsiel didn't reply, appearing rather dejected. Noticing that, Metatron placed a hand on his shoulder.
"But who knows? Perhaps you are right and I am wrong," she pondered.
"It is not just that," the angel began. "Metatron, I have been wanting to talk to you, explain my recent behavior."
"I am not the one to judge you, Qaphsiel."
"Nevertheless, I feel the need to account for my actions. I do not want you to think badly of me."
"You did what you thought was right," Metatron said. "And perhaps it was. In the end, a crisis was averted and the Spear of Destiny is now safe and secured and forever out of Lucifer's – or any other demon's – grasp."
"That might be true, but… the fact remains that I acted without your consent and I even… withheld the truth from you," Qaphsiel admitted. "I knew where Abaddon had hidden the Spear. I could have told you before you closed the deal with him, but didn't, because I wanted to help him and Zoe. I feel terrible for that."
"Do not apologize to me. Sometimes it seems that lying cannot be avoided. I was amazed at myself over the act I put on for Lucifer, pretending to be shocked over his supposed alliance with Abaddon."
Qaphsiel gave a meek smile. "I was impressed by how convincing you were. Tricking the king of lies is no small feat."
"Perhaps our prolonged co-habitation with the demons had an adverse influence on both of us. Hopefully it shall wear off soon." She took her golden eyes to the sky above them. "I shall return to Heaven now. My presence on Earth is not required anymore. I wish to find some peace and work on myself. In the meantime, I want you to stay here and keep a close eye on Abaddon. Unfortunately, I do not fully share your confidence in his change. Even if he has changed at all and it is not an act, I fear that it will be temporary. He will sooner or later become tired of following the rules, regress back to this old ways and begin hurting mortals once more. And I fear that the first one will be Zoe. For that reason, you will stay here on Earth and watch him closely. As soon as he breaks any rule, no matter how small, I want you to report back to me immediately."
"I would also like you to keep an eye on Belial. He has recently arrived in the material world. Knowing him, he is always careful about hiding his illegitimate activities, but never unenthusiastic about committing them."
"I will," the angel promised.
"Then it is time to say farewell for now. Take care, Qaphsiel."
With that she spread her golden wings and ascended to the skies. Qaphsiel watched her until she disappeared. After that he stayed on the rooftop for a long while, contemplating her words. His optimistic nature didn't allow him to accept that there was no way for his fallen brethren to ever be restored to their former grace. Was this just wishful thinking, though? If Abaddon did end up returning to his old ways, as Metatron believed, Qaphsiel would share part of the responsibility for his crimes for he had helped him stay on Earth.
No, he shouldn't let those dark thoughts take over. He should instead trust that there was still a glimmer of hope for Abaddon and possibly for other demons too. He would of course keep his promise to Metatron and monitor Abaddon's moves, as well as Belial's. He would do his best to keep this city safe. Before that, however, there was one little thing he had to do.
"Ohhh, it smells good," Amber commented, as she approached the fire, bringing a bowl of salad and some cutlery.
The smell of cooking fish wafted around, filling the air. Earlier that evening, they had built a small fire by the seaside, a few yards away from their little cabin. The sound of crackling flames now meshed with the soft crashing of waves under the starlit sky.
Astaroth rearranged the skewers above the fire.
"Should I take them out?" he suggested.
"Leave them a couple minutes longer," Amber said. "I want mine crispy."
She knelt down on the sand and placed the salad and the cutlery on the tablecloth.
"Do we have any dessert for later?" the demon asked.
"You ate the last of the coconut cake yesterday," Amber reminded him.
Astaroth sulked. "You could have made another one," he grumbled.
"No, I couldn't have. I was fishing all afternoon, remember? If I had left it to you, we would be sharing a sardine for dinner."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk. A fishwife, in every meaning of the word," he teased her.
She stuck her tongue out at him. "We're out of flour anyway," she said. "We need to go to town soon and stock up on a couple of basics."
"Hmm, let's go tomorrow after…" he began, but his sentence trailed off as something in the night sky caught his attention; a tiny flash of light that seemed to be in a descending orbit. But it was no shooting star, Astaroth realized. A moment later, an angel was landing on the beach, right in front of them.
Cursing, Astaroth leapt to his feet. The angels had finally discovered them.
"I knew helping Abaddon was going to bite me in the ass," he muttered. "You're not taking me to Hell, Qaphsiel!" he proclaimed vehemently, glowering at the angel.
"No, I am not," the green-haired angel agreed, but the demon hardly noticed as he looked around frantically, preparing for battle.
"Where are the others?" he demanded.
"There are no others," Qaphsiel said.
"What, they sent you alone to take me down?"
"Astaroth," Amber said, placing a hand on his arm. "I don't think he has come to fight you."
Qaphsiel sighed. "I figured that Abaddon may have forgotten to tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"That we are no longer after you."
Astaroth narrowed his eyes on the angel distrustfully.
"Abaddon made a deal with Metatron," Qaphsiel elaborated. "As you may already know, he was after the Spear of Destiny."
"He found it?!" Astaroth croaked.
"He did. He gave it to Metatron and she agreed to pardon him. And you."
Amber squeezed her demon's arm excitedly. "Really?"
"Abaddon asked for that?" Astaroth questioned, hardy able to believe that such solidarity between demons could exist. Sure, he had helped Abaddon and he in turn had promised to one day return the favor, but Astaroth hadn't really counted on that.
"It was one of his conditions to give us the Spear," Qaphsiel confirmed.
"Does that mean… that we're free to go anywhere?" Amber inquired, herself shocked by the news.
"As long as Astaroth does not break any rules, no angel will bother you," Qaphsiel promised. Then he wrinkled his nose. "Something is burning."
Both mortal and demon looked at the fire. Left unattended, the five fish were already charred.
Astaroth smiled widely as he turned to Amber. "I guess we're eating out tonight."
That's it! Hopefully this story lived up to your expectations. I hope to hear your feedback. Thank you so much for reading.