[Author's Note: I've uploaded a few chapters this week. Why? A dear friend isn't feeling quite well yet she's still allowing me to drag her on a trip this weekend. These chapters are to make her feel a bit better!]

Chapter 12 – The Guilt

Pain. Pain was the dominant thought in his mind. His chest hurt and his arm hurt though…his head was no longer throbbing. In fact his head felt decently okay. He could think somewhat straight and mostly that thought was the pain in the rest of his body. Though he was resting somewhat comfortably. There wasn't the cold ground of the gymnasium floor beneath him but a soft, plush surface. Clearly he had gotten out of that place. The last thing he could remember was the hell hound entering the room. It had entered and then…defended him. Demons weren't supposed to do that. He should have allied himself with Jacob. Together they could have easily taken Lalia. Instead…he had been the one who got a hand.

Salvador cracked his eyes open. Where was he? This didn't look like the nurse's room nor was it his own home. It took him a while to gather that it looked familiar because he had been here yesterday. Lalia's home.

He blinked, opening his eyes wider and turning his neck to find that he was indeed in Lalia's living room.

"You're awake…that was fast."

Ethan strode into the room carrying a mug of something and moved to sit on the coffee table across from where Salvador lay on the couch. Licking his dry lips Salvador cleared his throat, "What…happened?" he asked warily, not sure what had happened after he passed out.

"Lalia and I brought you here," Ethan said nonchalantly as he lifted the mug to his lips and took a sip. He pulled a face, "Coffee grinds…" he commented off-hand. "You passed out…understandably so. Pretty sure you hit your head really hard…not to mention a few broken bones. How do you feel now? Lalia attempted a healing but it was her first time doing something so major." He spoke so calmly and straight forward as though this were…fine.

It made Salvador feel a pang of guilt. "I don't think my ribs are broken…" he said as he placed a hand to his rib cage and pressed. It was bruised, definitely heavily bruised, but no longer broken. It felt different from before. His wrist though still felt like it was in a lot of pain. "I think my wrist is broken still…" he said in pain as he tried not to move it.

"I'll splint it," Ethan said as he placed down the useless cup of coffee. "Wait here." He left the room and returned shortly with the home first aid kit and a short handled broom from a dustpan. "This'll have to do until Lalia is up." Sitting back on the table he gently placed the broom next to Salvador's arm, bristles outward, and using gauze began to splint the hand. He seemed absolutely impervious to Salvador's bewildered stares.

"Why did you help me?" he asked then immediately gasped in pain as Ethan took this moment to lift his arm a bit to wrap the gauze underneath it.

"Wanna try that again?" Ethan asked, eyeing his face with a raised eyebrow.

Salvador grimaced, "We didn't exactly leave as friends last night," he elaborated, "I understand how you could resist Jacob…the demon's control…but why help me?"

"I've decided on Lalia as my master," Ethan shrugged, "And I don't think she wants you dead. Plus, having you in a demon's possession would be heaps inconvenient for protecting her. Not to mention…" he finished wrapping the gauze and tied it tightly, "I honestly think it's better if we work as a team than as enemies."

Salvador watched Ethan lean back on the coffee table. He had to admit the words made sense but it was still startling to believe that they were coming from a demon. It was a demon offering a deal of teamwork. That shouldn't happen. Who was this demon? How was he able to resist all the inclinations of his kind and offer this sort of thing? Demons were supposed to hate angels and vice versa. Though…did he hate Ethan? He didn't trust him.

Though, that distrust had lessened in the past hour. But still…a team? He felt his face grow hot and thankfully he didn't have pale skin that could make it even more apparent than it likely already was. A quick glance at Ethan and he wondered if he perhaps caught a bit of a smirk. Or was that just a smile?

"I get it," Ethan said, "This goes against the nature of heaven and hell itself. I don't even know what is compelling me to offer it so casually. But…" he looked over his shoulder to the stairs, "Something led me to her. Call it fate or destiny but…I've had a rough go these past few years and she's like a beacon of light in the dark." He shrugged, "I'm willing to give it a shot. The rest is up to you."

Salvador pressed his good arm down on the couch and scooted to sit up a bit. It hurt and it took a lot of gritting of teeth to not make a sound of pain while he did so. "I'm…willing to call a truce," he said in a hushed voice, "I don't know if I can accept you without…taking some serious though. But I'll admit that I appear to have misjudged you." He nodded his head, "I'll accept you staying by her side but a team…I don't know if I can do that. Not at the moment at least."

Ethan shrugged, "You're an individual. You do what you want." He leaned forward, "That being said, you need to give Lalia some of that respect as well. She's an individual who can make her own decisions. She doesn't need shields, she needs support and education. I can't teach her everything and I have a feeling that's one of the reasons you're here. You need to accept her as an equal, even if you don't accept me."

Salvador frowned but the demon had a definite point. He felt a great amount of guilt over what had happened. All this time he had been friends with a demon and ignored Lalia in public. He had been wrong. That had not been the way to protect her. He should have accepted her as the friend, spent time with her in public. "Was this…what she wanted to tell me at school today?" he asked with a wince.

"She sensed the demonic energy even though your friend was hiding it," Ethan nodded, "She didn't know the source though which is probably why she tried to approach you." He pushed himself back up and grabbed his mug which was still mostly full of coffee. "It's not just her that has things to learn it seems." With that said he moved back to the kitchen and Salvador could hear him pouring the coffee down the drain.

He hated to admit it but the other was right. If he had gotten past his stupid embarrassment, he wouldn't have been taken by surprise. He had to make a change in that regard. No…not just that regard. In a lot of ways. He tucked his arm close to his chest and swung his legs over the edge of the couch. Ethan returned from the kitchen and Salvador could hear the coffee machine going again.

"Lie back down and rest," Ethan told him but he sounded more miffed than demanding. "Lalia is sleeping but she should be able to heal you more when she wakes up."

Salvador shook his head. Honestly he felt like retreating right now with his tail between his legs. The concern of the demon was downright mystifying to him. "I have healing spells of my own," he said with a nod, "I can patch myself up when I get home." For the most part. Broken bones were tricky business so he likely would try and do it slowly over time to ensure he didn't end up with something crooked. But he had to do it over the course of a few days because otherwise…he'd be unable to take Jacob on again.

"Before you go, I need some questions answered," Ethan pointed out as he reached out and almost placed a hand on Salvador's shoulder. A flinch from the angel caused him to retreat before the action could be completed. "That demon…you knew him. How?"

"He was…my friend I guess you could say," Salvador admitted tensely, "He was pretending to be my friend for a few years." He gritted his teeth, "I can't believe I never sensed him. You were right…I allowed myself to get soft. To get sloppy."

"You didn't allow yourself," Ethan shook his head, "You never had to deal with something like that before. First time for everything and he's a powerful one. He hid his presence amazingly well. It's simply a credit to Lalia's powers that she was able to sense him at all. He was like a needle in a haystack."

Salvador sighed. Once again it was a demon reassuring him. It felt bizarre but at the same time the words were indeed nice to hear. They didn't alleviate him of the guilt he felt but they did help him quite a bit to not completely hate himself. All the same he wished he hadn't just let life move by him like he was a normal person. He wasn't a normal person.

"He knows where you live I assume," Ethan cut through the silence.

That was a sickening thought. Salvador hadn't even given that consideration. "…yes," he responded softly. "He does…"

"So theoretically he could be waiting for you," Ethan said, "And watch the direction from where you came."

"So I can't go home?" Salvador asked, "That puts my family in danger. I can't just avoid my house."

"Agreed," Ethan said with a solemn and thoughtful nod. "I really think it's best we wait for Lalia. Do you have the strength to create a protection spell as well as heal yourself? And hide yourself when you leave from here?"

Salvador's face flushed hot once more and he tore his eyes away from the other with a pout. "No…" he admitted.

"Then we wait for Lalia," Ethan said with a nod, "And anyway, she needs to start practicing her skills and see what she's capable of. So lie back down, rest and I'll make you a coffee or something."

"Do you remember to put a filter in the machine or is it going to be full of grinds again?" Salvador asked, expression flat and accusatory.

"Put a what in the machine?" Ethan asked.

"Yeah, no thanks," Salvador shook his head and pulled his legs back on to the couch. He laid his head back on the pillow and let his eyes drift shut. There was no headache at all. In fact his head felt perfectly fine. Lalia's healing abilities were….really something. It was likely she could just be vague with her spells. He had to be a bit more specific since his were word based but she could just…heal. Basically. Waiting for her would indeed be the best thing for them to do. He was also intrigued to know how quickly she could tap back into her magic after using so much she needed a nap. It would be good exercise though. The more she utilized her abilities and drew magic from all around her the easier it would become.

He could hear Ethan muttering something as he left the room and returned to the kitchen. There was rummaging and a few curses of pain as he had likely decided to interrupt the coffee machine and see what the problem was. This did bring a soft smile to Salvador's face for a moment.