Her laughter fills the night, joins the cacophony from the festival down below as Mugaro twirls with her over the cathedral’s roof.
The festivities are a bit on the smaller side, but that’s already enough for Azazel. Humans always have time to celebrate; be it the change of seasons, marriage or a bountiful harvest, like in this case. Nina had decided to join them earlier since their hiding spot has a good view on the market place with all its attractions. She even brought loads of sweets for Mugaro and herself- Azazel was offered some, of course, but just the mere sight of pastries makes him feel sick to his stomach so he saw himself forced to decline (not that the other two minded). The demon thought he’d have a relatively quiet night, but the music and general atmosphere seemed to breathe life into Mugaro who then asked Nina for a dance. While that’s not a problem on its own, Nina is loud, very much so. Though, he should’ve known that they would’ve given in to those big puppy eyes, staring down near wistfully at the mass of dancing pairs. However...
It’s been an hour now. They’re still dancing. Azazel can feel some kind of sharp pang in his chest (huh, weird), though he feels content and at ease. And Mugaro is really enjoying themselves; it’s been awhile since he saw them smile and “laugh” (their enthusiastic wheezing isn’t fooling anyone) so much. Nina is doing a good job at keeping them busy and considering how moody and cranky they’ve been lately, this is something new for them. They really needed some distractions, something Azazel can’t provide all the time.
A particularly loud squeal from Nina rips Azazel from his thoughts as Mugaro spins the girl on quick feet, lining the edge of the roof. The demon is already on edge enough as is, but now he also has to watch over them so they don’t fall off the edge in a fit of youthful vigor. In fact, he's about to jump out of his spot. A few moves more, and eventually they part, leaving Nina out of breath and keeled over as she tries to get it back. To honor tonight’s performance, Azazel gives it a few modest claps to which Mugaro smiles wide and bows almost dramatically in response. It really warms his dead heart when they’re like this; so carefree and lighthearted (is this what’s so rewarding about raising kids?).
“Y-you’re-” Cue more wheezing from Nina, who seems like she could use some extra oxygen. “-so good at dancing, M-Mugaro! That was so f-fun!” Of course they’re a good dancer, why wouldn’t they be? He taught them after all. After finally catching her breath, Nina stands straight, beaming at Mugaro with both hands at their shoulders, “Who showed you that?!” Oh no.
And of course, Mugaro goes straight to pointing at Azazel with all their overflowing enthusiasm. Great.
Nina's head turns, expression being the epitome of pure delight. She opens her mouth to speak and Azazel already dreads what's about to come. Then, the expected string of words bursts out of Nina, “Teach me how to dance too!”
“I'll pass.”, Azazel replies, arms crossed. There's a way Nina could get what she wants but this is definitely not how it's done. “Mugaro can teach you just fine.” Frankly, he has more important things to do. Or so he thought. He averts his gaze for one moment and in the next the two already stand before him. Mugaro has both of Nina's hands clutched in theirs, throwing him a serious and somewhat determined look. Oh come on.
“Mugaro.”, comes a low coo from Azazel and it's all he utters because there's no need for anything else; the tone of a stern father says it all . He's grown used to their escapades and overall moodiness but Azazel still doesn't understand why they're that way. A few moments Mugaro keeps eye contact until they seemingly give up. Or so Azazel thought. Instead they begin their assault anew, but this time from a different angle. They come to sit beside the demon, leaning into his side and clutching onto his arm while looking at him with big eyes. Azazel returns the gaze again… and only manages to resist mere moments. His arm is put around them and pulls them into the gentlest of headlocks, putting their heads together and drawing a loud wheeze from the younger, who already got their widest smile back.
It could be described as play fighting between them, Mugaro “laughing” and struggling against Azazel’s arm, and Azazel pulling them closer into a (just about loving) embrace. After releasing the little one again, the demon shoots Nina (who seems like she'll never truly get over the little moment she just witnessed) a glance, going from mildly amused to near deadpan again, “Fine, I'll do it-”
“Yay!“ Nina is celebrating prematurely.
“-but...” Azazel lifts a finger in an almost threatening manner. “Not today, not tomorrow, sometime.”
“Aw, that's lame! Can't you bargain some more, Mugaro?”, the girl scoffs, arms crossing and lips curling into a pout.
Mugaro can only sigh deeply before giving Azazel another look and a sheepish smile. Don't be such a spoil sport, is what their expression could say, as if Azazel has ever been different (but it's not like the current situation leaves any room for optimism). After a moment of careful consideration, the demon pinches them into the side a few times for good measure, drawing a bunch of pressed huffs from them and making even Nina chuckle. They're ticklish.
“Alright. I'll do it within the next few days.” Because if he doesn't give himself a deadline, he'll forget. “Be at the other side of the market place past curfew when you feel like it.” Oh wow, the fine gentleman is going to make time for her? (but only because Mugaro asked him to). “I'm there a lot.”
“Eh, that's so late though…“, comes the complaint from Nina. “Can't we, like… do it when it's midday?”
There's a short pause and a look with furrowed brows from the demon. “No.”, Azazel replies dryly, “You'll have to take what you can get. This is my last offer.” She shouldn't say more because this arrangement is about to find an untimely demise at the hands of Nina herself. Even Mugaro is looking at her with something begging in their eyes, telling her to just shut it.
“... alrighty.”, Nina huffs, raising her head and pouting even harder than before. Is she sulking now? Oh wow… Though, it only lasts mere moments. A loud yawn follows and Nina groans just as loudly as she stretches. “Well, I'll go back to Bacchus now ‘cuz I'm soooo beat. And Mugaro looks really tired too, by the way.” Now that she mentions it, Azazel turns his head to look at the little one at his side who just seems to be dozing off at this point. At least until Nina latches onto them in a hug.
“Bye-bye, Mugaro! Tonight was really funnnn!!!”, Nina chirps as she nuzzles the younger who returns the embrace to an extend. Then, her arms stretch further to awkwardly include half of Azazel in her hug, “Bye, Azazel! See you soon!”
“Don't touch me.”
“Ohhh, someone's grumpy.” She speaks of him like he's some old mutt without teeth that just snarls at random. “Anyways, I'm off now!” Nina pulls away from the two and jumps to get her bag before hopping off the roof like it’s no big deal, into the dark alley ahead. At last.
Azazel doesn't even wait for Nina to hit the ground before he begins to speak, “What's gotten into you today?” Mugaro is one peculiar child to begin with but today they're… well, even more peculiar than usual. It only feels right to ask.
However, no reply.
Cue a weak huff from them. Took them awhile. Hopefully he didn't wake them, though. The demon can feel them stretch beside him before they sit up properly to look at Azazel. The glance they give him is heavy, sorrowful.
“Is something wrong?” As if that wasn't obvious to begin with.
Azazel opens his mouth to ask further questions but is stopped in his tracks by Mugaro who clutched one of their fists to their chest while giving Azazel a concentrated look, as if to make sure that he's paying attention. They repeat the gesture in case he didn't see and then proceed to point at the demon, while exhaling audibly. Ah, it's this. Since they have no voice, they attempt to speak with their hands a lot. It's connected to a lot of guessing but it works better than speaking through scoffing and sighing alone. They even repeat it another time when Azazel doesn't reply right away.
“Ah… So, you're… worried about me?”, Azazel suspects, eyeing Mugaro carefully.
They nod again, give a loud, exasperated wheeze and then continue. They point behind their back, to the edge of the roof where Nina had left and then press their folded hands to their chest. While doing so, they first keep their sad look for a short moment before giving a gentle smile after pausing.
Azazel gives them a puzzled glance, blinking fast. “... what?”
Mugaro’s lips are pressed together to a tight line before they repeat their gestures and mimics, getting more and more frustrated with every little movement. The demon watches them attentively, but he doesn't get the connection between their desperate attempts to show him what they mean. “... I'm sorry, I don't get it.”, Azazel says, brows furrowing in confusion.
Hot breath hits his face when Mugaro huffs and puffs with all their might, cheeks filling with air and nostrils flaring. Jeez, they've never been this frustrated before (who can blame them though? Azazel is a big dumb demon after all). A moment of careful consideration is given before the younger’s lips part again as they attempt to mouth something. It takes the demon an embarrassingly long moment to realize what they're trying to say.
“... Nina?“, he scoffs with a crooked eyebrow.
Mugaro nods yet again, but this time with more enthusiasm, and repeats the gesture with folded hands before their chest. There's something hopeful in their gaze, strongly wishing that they finally got through that thick skull of his. And well, something does click in the dense demon's head.
“Ohh… you like Nina?” He doesn't know what that has to do with anything right now, but that's what he got from their vague signing.
Mugaro hesitates a moment but then shrugs as in “well, that's not what I wanted to say but you're not completely wrong”.
“Alright, so what I'm getting from all this is that you're worried about me…” He pauses after this, waiting for Mugaro to nod. “... and you like Nina?” Again, he waits for them to agree. “Where's the correlation between those?” He genuinely wants to know all of it now. Again, the child huffs Nina's name, repeats the gesture for another time and gives Azazel a gentle smile. The demon thinks for a few moments, takes his time with piecing together the bits of info he can get from the other. Mugaro waits patiently till Azazel eventually comes up with yet another attempt to understand.
“Nina makes you happy?”
To his surprise, cold palms come to settle upon his face, barely managing to frame it. Instead of saying something, Azazel lets them do their thing. Carefully, their thumbs press into the corners of his mouth, moving them upwards just a teeny bit and thus giving Azazel an awkward, fang-baring smile. Brows furrow anew, wrinkles lining his forehead as he tries to put together all these little bits. Seriously, just what do they want to tell him? Moments pass, both of them seemingly stuck in this situation. The demon does his absolute best, but he's never been much of a thinker to begin with. Just when Mugaro seems to lose hope, Azazel speaks up again,
“... wait, so… give me a minute. You're worried about me. Nina makes you happy. You want me to be happy.”, Azazel mumbles to himself, seemingly deep in thought, “... you think that she could make me happy too?“ Disbelief is clear on his face and Mugaro can only squish his cheeks together in the purest forms of delight to be ever witnessed.
Gently, he loosens Mugaro’s grip on his face before speaking again. He can't help but chuckle a little at the thought, “Is that why you want me to dance with her?”
They simply avert their gaze, all meek and seemingly a little ashamed of their idea. Azazel can only coo in delight, pulling them close into a hug which earns him a surprised gasp. Honestly, what did he ever do to deserve a wonderful presence such as little Mugaro in his life? They're so considerate and thoughtful with him, even though he should be the one taking care of them. They remain like this for a bit, curled into one another and basking in the moment. Azazel is the one to split their mutual embrace in order to look at them properly.
“Well, I guess I'll have to teach her sometime then.”, he sighs heavily for dramatic effect, showing Mugaro the most subtle of smiles, “You convinced me.” But only with their greatest efforts.
In the end, “sometime” came sooner than he expected.