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Death and the Girl

Chapter Text

Junko's POV

"I thought I might find you here." The soft, autumnal breeze flicked my hair as I angled my face toward a very familiar voice. Collette was strolling towards me, blonde hair tied into a loose bun that she totally pulled off.

"Yeah, just thinking," I replied. "Reading."

I hold up my book and then set it down on my lap. She made herself comfortable next to me and leaned her head on my shoulder.

"How come you're not in class?" I asked.

"Finished at two today." She replied, staring across the field.

The field spanned down in a rush of green towards the main campus. It was an old building that had been undergoing repairs for a few months now. It was one of the oldest colleges in the US and the place I had decided to spend the rest of my school life.

"Hey, Hunter's walking down the stairs." Collette grinned at me.

My gaze immediately snapped up from the book I was pretending to read. Hunter was, indeed, walking down the steps from the main building, flanked by two of his friends.

"We should totally-" Collette giggled, but I cut her off.

"No, nope, not in a million years. You know that we don't talk on campus." I replied, shuffling under the pressure of her gaze.

"Oh, come on. Who made up that stupid rule, anyways?" Collette snapped.

I wanted to remind her that Hunter had set up that rule. He didn't associate with us at college. Reputation was still important in college, just as much as high school. Hunter made his way across the quad. I lowered my eyes. It was Friday so we'd see Hunter tonight.

"Liam has found somewhere awesome tonight." Collette said, turning her eagle-eyed glare from Hunter to me.

"Really? Where?" I asked, like I really wanted to know.

"His cousin got the keys to the most haunted house in town," Collette continued. "It's been declared uninhabitable. No one has lived there in, like, forever."

I glanced across the quad again. Hunter and his friends were throwing a football back and forth. I shifted nervously and Collette noticed.

"Maybe this time we'll hit the jackpot." She grinned.

I sure hoped we didn't. We went on these little ghost hunts all over the town and even to some places that were out of state. We'd caught orbs, sure. We'd heard knocking sounds, definitely. We'd never actually seen an actual ghost though. Liam always said it was more about the feeling; like how you feel you're being watched. I got that feeling a lot from my Mom's cat, Potato, but only when he was hungry.

"Plus I could work it so you're alone with Hunter." She waggled her eye brows at me.

Alone with Hunter? And what would we do whilst alone? Why, what I usually did when we were forced into each others company. I'd make terrible small talk and he'd pretend to care. Besides he was already dating Victoria Clark. I was fairly certain she'd be unhappy if her boyfriend was alone with another girl.

"He's got a girlfriend." I sighed.

"Yeah, but Victoria and her underbite are no match for you." Collette laughed, and I rolled my eyes, cracking a smile at her humour.

The wind gusted across the quad, picking up strength. Collette rubbed her arms. It was time to head back to the dorms. I grabbed my bag, slinging it over my shoulder and trailed after Collette. The sun was still quite high but the nights were slowly beginning to fade into dusk earlier and earlier.

We walked side by side towards the dorm, passing a few other students as we did so. Some nodded at Collette because she was bright and social. Collette and I arrived at our dorm and she pushed open the door since it was too heavy for me.

"I'll see you in a couple of hours." She grinned when she stopped at her door.

I smiled and ambled down the hallway. I could hear laughter from one room as I passed. Shelley must have been talking to Andrea again. The corridor wound round a sharp bend and I paused at my door, unlocking it. I closed the door and set my bag down. Tonight seemed like it would be cold so I'd need to wear a coat and maybe a beanie.

I perched on the edge of my bed and picked up the book Liam had lent me. The Everything Ghost Hunting Book. The spine snapped slightly when I opened the book. Liam had obviosly read this book a lot before he lent it to me. The page I turned to showed a grainy photo of a figure on the stairs of an old house. I stared at the photo and turned the page. It seemed almost romantic to want to believe in ghosts. I glanced away from the book to the window.

 

*******************

 

The sound of knocking made me leap up. A cursory glance at my bedside clock told me it was 18:45. I must have fallen asleep, looking at the ghost book, obiviously. The knocking continued until I rushed to the door. Opening the door, I was greeted by Collette's disgruntled face.

"Good evening to you too." She said, chuckling at my dishevelled look.

She barged past me. She was wearing leggings, a jumper and a pair of Ugg boots. Her blonde hair was plaited. I knew I looked like a troll compared to her. She stayed whilst I combed my dark hair until it looked tidier. I threw on a baggy hoodie, ignoring Collette's protests. I stuffed a beanie on my unruly hair and dragged her from my room.

The dorm hallways were alight with noise as girls went out to meet boyfriends and friends. The dorm stairs were lit by a single street light that made the whole street seem eerie. Liam was already waiting, parked out front in his green Volvo.

"Good Evening ladies." He grinned. Hunter was next to him in the passenger seat and he smiled at us both.

Collette opened the door and we both crawled into the back seats. The door shut and we pulled away from the side walk and into the night.

"SpringWood House has been abandonned since the 1980s. Part of the building has fallen into a state of disrepair." Hunter was reading from a webpage on his phone.

"What haunts this place?" Collette asked, leaning forward.I stayed silent, watching the road speed by.

"Apparently the ghost of a creepy, old hag haunts the upper floor," Hunter continued. "However the downstairs area is haunted by a ghost known as The Lady of SpringWood. She was a beautiful bride murdered by her husband."

My eyes snapped forward. I could see Hunter's phone screen. A photo was on the screen. It was a picture of a window of the house. Through the curtains was a figure that seemed to resemble a woman, staring forlornly through the decaying window. A small part of me felt sorry for this ghost. The drive continued in silence until we arrived at SpringWood. Liam had to drive the car up a wooded slope towards the house.

The house itself was beautiful, even in a state of disrepair. Liam cut the brakes and I finally got a good look at SpringWood. It was two storeys high with stairs leading to the front porch. What drew my eye was the stained glass window in the middle of the second storey.

"Looks like the Amityville." Hunter chuckled.

I disagreed completely. We all got out the car and Liam opened the boot. Our first job was to set up the cameras and then I'd sit in home base and watch them for anything whilst the others walked round with EMF meters.

 

*********************

 

"Can you see me?" Collette asked.

I was sitting in the dining room of SpringWood. Two laptops were open in front of me. One screen split between the upstairs hallway and the bedroom where the 'hag' haunts. Collette was testing the one in the lounge where the 'lady of SpringWood' was said to be.

"I can see you." I murmured into my walkie talkie.

Collette grinned and gave a thumbs up. She moved away from the camera and I heard her footsteps creak towards the kitchen. I sighed, shifting in the fold out chair. Liam had gone down to the basement and Hunter was upstairs. My eyes left the camera to glance around the room.

The wall paper was faded, but it was decorated in some hideous flower pattern, quite popular to grandma's. There was some furniture left over but it had been covered by white sheets. I shifted and then looked at the camera, taking a sip from my thermos. A face was staring at me from the camera in the bedroom. Not a hag, definitely not a hag.

A young guy was staring at the camera. I swallowed my coffee and stared at the thermos then back to him. His features were soft, but angular. His hair was long and had a slight fringe. His eyes then seemed to lock with mine, staring at me. He lifted his finger to his lips and I realised he was telling me to be quiet. A sly grin appeared on his face. I hesitated then lifted the walkie talkie.

"H-hunter, there's a guy in the main bedroom." I stuttered.

"A guy?" Hunter sounded as confused as I felt.

I waited and glanced at the camera again. The screen had blurred and static rinsed over the frame. Then the camera returned as Hunter walked into the room. I watched him explore the room, opening cupboards, peeking under the bed and behind curtains.

"There's no one here now." Hunter said, sounding slightly annoyed.

My mouth opened in slack-jawed horror. That guy couldn't have gotten out of there without Hunter noticing him. Hunter sighed and left the room, closing the door. When I glanced back up, the guy was staring at the camera again.

"Naughty girl." He grinned.

I gathered my courage and glared at the camera. I picked up the baseball bat that Liam bought along in case of intruders.

"Gonna fight me with that, baby girl?" The guy was grinning again. How could he see what I was doing?

Chapter Text

Dang right I was gonna fight him with this baseball bat. I stared at the camera and the guy stepped back, beckoning his finger towards the camera.

"I'm all yours, sweetheart." He smirked.

I gripped the handle of the bat and nodded. Marching towards the stairs, I immediately felt less brave than before. How had Hunter not seen that guy? Where'd he go when Hunter entered the room? Never mind all that seemingly important information that I should probably think about before I go barging into that room.

I mounted the stairs and used my phone torch for light. The attic door was still open so Hunter must still be exploring up there. I snuck by and got to the main bedroom, where the hag was supposed to haunt. Maybe people were wrong. What if the ghost wasn't a hag, just a guy with long hair. I gripped the door knob and turned it.

The door creaked open and I was greeted by a dusty looking bedroom. The carpets were threadbare and the furniture had been left uncovered. It all looked ancient. The door shut behind me and I whirled round, still gripping the bat. He was here, standing behind the door.

Up close, this guy was slightly taller than me. I was only 5 foot so he must have been around five foot five. He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans. His hair was brown and sat just above his lean shoulders. He wasn't making a move to hurt me though.

"What're you doing here, sweetheart?" He asked.

"None of your business." I snapped.

"It is my business. You're interfering here and things could go bad." He replied, glancing round the room.

"How'd you get here?" I ignored him.

"I was sent here." He grinned.

I frowned at that. The house creaked suddenly and I looked round. My eyes flicked to him and he shrugged, but the way his jaw tensed meant something was happening.

"You and your friends need to leave." He said, grabbing my wrist in a very cold hand and pushing me towards the door.

"No way. What's going on here?" I whirled round, pointing the end of the bat at him.

"Oh, please," He rolled his eyes, snatching the bat and throwing it across the way.

The house creaked again and the window opposite suddenly flew open. Wind spliced round the room and I was shielded from it by him. From behind his lean frame I could see a woman in the window, outlined by the glow of the moon.

"Target sighted, Tris." The guy spoke into a device on his wrist.

"Okie Dokie. I'll let Roger and David know." A perky voice said.

The woman in the window turned. The guy covered my mouth with his hand. The woman, or ghost, or whatever had long, lank hair that shimmered. Her eyes were holes and her fingers ended in sharp talons. She seemed to be having a hard time focusing. The ghost sniffed the air and her sockets fell on us by the door. She snarled and levitated into the air.

I was pushed sideways. He'd saved me. I lifted my aching body in time to see her swipe at him. He jumped back with agility that no ordinary human could possess. I needed to help him. I couldn't lie here and do nothing. My eyes landed on the baseball bat. I crawled towards it, grasping the handle.

I swung it and it went straight through the ghost. She turned mid-air and hissed at me. I must have tripped as I landed on the ground, eyes staring at the ceiling. The ghost leaned over me, taloned hands gripping my arms. Her nails cut in and I prepared myself for death. An electric bolt went through her and her grip loosened. I watched as the ghost levitated and shattered like glass.

My gaze went across the room. There were two more guys standing there, aiming guns. They both lowered the weapons and the guy from before rushed over.

"Are you ok? Did it hurt you?" He asked.

"I'm gonna puke." I murmured, rolling over and throwing up.

Yep, this was definitely a high point in my life. My hair was moved and I realised he was holding my hair back. I sat up slowly.

"Target was eliminated, Tris." One of the guys across the way said.

"Awesome job, guys." The girl's voice said again.

"We have a human witness though." He said, and waited, offering me a pleasant smile.

"Oh that sucks. Is the human injured?" The girl asked.

"Hold on, I'll check," He replied. "Keith, is she injured?"

The guy, Keith looked me over, gripping my arms and analysing. There was a slight scratch on my right arm where the ghost's nail had dug in.

"There's a scratch." He said, thoughtfully.

"Aww, bad luck," The girl, Tris, said. "Bring her in for a health check."

"Yay, awesome." Keith grinned, standing.

Before I could protest he'd picked me up like a sack of potatos. He pressed a button on the device on his wrist, which was made slightly difficult by me being in his arms.

The air nearly left my lungs and I closed my eyes at the sudden increase in pressure. When my eyes opened, we were standing in a foyer. What the heck was happening? The sound of heels on the floor made me look round. A girl was marching towards us. Her hair dark purple and her bright eyes looked exuberant.

"On behalf of his excellency King Lucifer, I welcome you to the NetherWorld." She was talking to me. I blinked stupidly at her. "I'm Beatrice."

Keith set me down and I nearly lost my footing, but managed to shake her hand. She beamed brightly.

"She puked a minute ago." Keith warned her and she stepped back, looking nervous.

"May I see your injury, please?" She asked.

I held out my arm and she stared at the wound. What was she looking for?

"There's no venom around the wound. I'll get some anti-venom just in case. Were there other humans?" Tris asked, straightening up.

"Yeah, three more. I wiped their memories though." The guy with the slight beard said, grinning.

The other guy's eyes widened and he looked concerned, "Did you manage successfully this time, David?"

"I think so, I mean, yeah I assume so." David replied, eyes looking everywhere.

Well that was reassuring. My friends could have had their memories wiped so throughly they won't recall the past two weeks. The guy next to David looked at me again and smiled.

"Sorry, your friends will be fine," He said, then held out a hand to me. "I'm Roger."

I took his hand, noting it was cold too, like something very dead. He had a firm grip. He let go and grabbed David's shoulder.

"Go report to Chris." Tris shouted after them.

She smiled at me and proceeded to drag me down a hallway away from the foyer. We walked up a flight of stairs and along another corridor. She stopped at a door and I followed her inside.

This was a hospital. There were beds lining the walls, none of which were occupied. Tris motioned for me to sit down. I was still in so much shock that I complied and stared around nervously. Keith sat down next to me, following my gaze as I went round the room.

"You'll be fine." He reassured me.

"T-thank you." I murmured.

My throat burned and I could still taste bile. My hair was a mess I was certain of it. Tris reappeared, holding a lime green pill and a glass of some liquid.

"Might taste a little weird for humans, but won't do you any harm." She said, handing me both items.

I gripped the pill and stared at it. The shades of green hit the lights above my head and made the pill look like it was changing colours. The drink she'd handed me smelt like cucumbers. I put the pill in my mouth and took a big gulp of the liquid. It tasted revolting, but I swallowed and nearly threw up again, heaving a little.

"I'll need to tell Chris." Tris said, and Keith nodded.

His jaw was set again in that concerned way. I really wanted to go home now, back to my dorm room and make sure my friends were still alive.

"Can I go home now?" I asked.

"Well, I need to monitor you for a bit." Tris replied.

She glanced at Keith and they went over to the door and left me there. I could just about hear their voices. Something about me being able to see them in the human world. I felt like I'd broken some unwritten rule and it left me anxious. I could hear retreating footsteps and the door opened. Keith reappeared and he smiled.

"You should rest," He said, noticing my wary glance. "Nothing will happen to you."

I closed my eyes and tried to relax. When I opened them again I was alone. I sat up, staring wildly around the room. Where had Keith gone? I felt stupid to say that he was someone I relied on. I could hear voices outside. I heard Tris. She sounded like she was reasoning with someone. The door opened and I sat myself up in the chair.

Another guy walked in. His black hair was long, trailing past his shoulders. On closer inspection, he had dark eyes that seemed almost crimson. Three piercings were in his lips. The silver of the piercings stood out against his pale skin. His features were severe and his gaze was cold. He saw me and walked over. He was wearing a black suit.

"Are you the human?" He asked.

He sounded young, but there was something about him that seemed older than what he was. I shuddered and shrank down slightly under his glare. Tris tapped his shoulder and whispered something. He focused on her words for a second before glaring down at me again.

"I, um.....M-my name is Junko." I whispered, fear lancing through my voice. I didn't care though. This guy,Chris, scared me so much.

"I was told that black venom had got into your body through a scratch." He said.

Tris leaned down, offering an apologetic smile and showing him the scratch from the ghost. He stared at it then at me.

"She took some anti-venom three hours ago." Tris said, allowing my arm to sag.

"And is it true you can see the ghosts as humans call them?" He snapped.

I had seen the woman. I had tried to swing a baseball bat at her. I nodded and Chris analysed me with those dark eyes. His sharp glare left me and went to Tris.

"Send her home." He said, and turned to leave.

Tris nodded and held out a hand to me. I accepted and stood on very shaky feet. She led me down a hallway and towards the foyer. We paused in the middle of the room and she grasped my hand.

"Well, this is goodbye, Junko." She sounded sad.

"Y-yeah I guess so. Will you tell Keith thank you for saving me." I replied, and she smiled again.

I closed my eyes as the pressure exploded through my body and when I opened them again I was standing in the middle of the quad, facing away from the campus. Tris was gone and a breeze whipped round me. My phone was in my pocket. I pulled it out only to find it dead. I suddenly remembered Collette and the others.

I turned and ran back to the dorms. My heart was pounding as I did so. By the time I got to the double doors I was wheezing hard. I was so physically unfit. I mounted the steps with difficulty and practically knocked Collette's door down. I was so surprised when she opened it, looking freaked out.

"Hey, Junko, what's going on?" She asked, grasping my shoulders.

"You, and me, and ghosts." I was making no sense.

She pulled me inside and I sat on her bed, sipping some water she gave me. Finally after an eternity my heart stopped feeling like it would burst out my chest.

"Are you ok?" She asked.

"Did we go ghost hunting tonight?" I asked, and her eyebrows knitted together.

"No, Liam was feeling unwell so he bailed." She replied.

I'd gone back in time. I could remember everything, but Collette couldn't. Well, it had never happened to her. I needed to think fast otherwise I'd look like a crazy person.

"Oh yeah, sorry must have panicked." I said, fighting to keep my voice jovial.

"You must of had a bad dream." Collette suggested.

I nodded and finished the water. I left her room then, feeling humiliated. I got to my room and slumped on the bed. Tiredness came in thick waves and I fell into an uneasy sleep.

Chapter Text

'Did you hear the rumours?'

'I heard she was abducted.'

My eyes flicked behind me, surveying the canteen. It was a quiet and kind of dull Tuesday. I'd spent the whole weekend locked in my bedroom, thinking about the events that took place on Friday. Once I'd convinced myself I was sane I decided to leave my room and spend some time being social.

Today I was seated with Collette, who was munching noisily on a salad and holding a gossip magazine in one hand. All around me people were whispering and it was hard not to notice. During my hiatus in my dorm room, a girl had gone missing on campus. This kind of thing didn't happen very often.

It took all of a day to instate a curfew. A poster was across the way with the girl's face on it. She looked pretty and well-liked judging by the picture chosen. It was her with a smile and a her arm round another girl. Her face had been conviniently circled in each poster.

I floated to my last lecture after lunch and ignored Liam's requests to do a ghost hunt in SpringWood. He couldn't help it. He had no memory of Friday night. My mind was in and out of my lecture, vaguely wondering if what I had experienced was a dream or reality. Once my lecture was over I made my way to the dorms.

The curfew would start at seven. People were still wandering round, but it was only four forty. I wanted to have a shower and think about everything that had happened. I walked into someone and looked up, only to realise it was Hunter. Would he talk to me?

"Watch it." Victoria was with him and he trailed after her.

I was forced back into reality. I wanted to scream, but couldn't. I strolled across the quad and something else caught my eye. A guy was standing by the far wall. I frowned at his familiarity and walked over before I could stop myself.

"Keith?" I asked, and he glanced at me.

Recollection lit up his features, "Junko, what're you doing here?"

"I go to college here. Why're you here?" I asked.

Keith looked uncomfortable for a moment and it didn't seem like he wanted to tell me what he was up to.

"Apparently something has been abducting students. This college and another were hit over the weekend." He replied.

Something? That sounded ominous. I looked around the campus. The wind had picked up and was cutting across the quad.

"What if it's a creeper? Shouldn't we leave it to the police?" I pointed out.

"Two girls have been spirited away. Chris doesn't think it's a local creeper."

Ah yes, to be reminded of his boss made my entire body break out in a nervous sweat. The guy terrified me beyond belief. I wanted to help, but I also didn't want to get on Chris' bad side.

"Can I help?" I asked.

"Well, it's kinda against the rules, but you can see them too so it might come in handy." He replied.

I fist pumped and he chuckled. I reminded myself I was in public so weird behaviour wouldn't be tolerated.

"We'd need to clear it with Chris," Keith continued, then noticed my face become pale. "Or we could not tell him and sneak around."

I liked that idea better. We could sneak around until we were inevitably caught and then face Chris' wrath afterwards. My heart thudded at the thought.

"Ok, where should we start?" I asked, brushing aside my terror.

"You're gonna pretend like my boss doesn't scare the hell out of you." He chuckled.

Yeah I'm totally gonna do that. There was still the question of the curfew. I wouldn't be able to get out the front of my dorm so I'd have to climb out my window.

"It's like a kamikakushi." I said, and Keith frowned. "It means to be spirited away by gods."

"Ha, Gods don't have time for that trivial shit." He replied.

"O-ok, good to know," I said, slightly perplexed. I still had no idea what Keith was. "Meet me tonight at the 24 hour cafe down the street."

"Fine by me." He replied.

*******************

 

It dawned on me at around quarter to seven that I was breaking so many rules. I peeked out my door to see Alison, the dorm's mother, standing by the entrance. She'd already prevented a couple of people from leaving. She was no match for my stealth though. I closed the door and slipped on my black hoodie, perfect for sneaking.

I locked my door from the inside. My hands trembled as I did so. I'd never broken rules like this. I crept to the window and opened it. It only went up half-way, but that was enough for me. I slipped my legs out first until my toes touched the grass. My head went next and I glanced around. No sign of any teachers. I closed my window so it was ajar. I could prise my fingers under and slip back in undetected.

I walked quickly and kept looking behind me. I didn't want to be caught and I also didn't want some creeper following me. I followed the road down towards the cafe at the end of the street. It was popular student hang-out, not that I went very often. There were students already inside so I wasn't the only rule breaker.

I entered the cafe and sat down at a booth, picking up the menu and staring at the desserts first. Pecan pie sounded yummy. They had all the desserts as colourful pictures taken professionally. It was all so tempting.

"Shouldn't it be dinner before dessert," A voice spoke from above me.

I yelped and snapped my head round. Standing above me was Chris. His dark eyes analysed me. I immediately felt on edge. Why was he here?

"U-um, hi." I blurted out.

He chuckled and slid into the booth opposite, locking eyes with me and making me ten thousand times more freaked out.

"You don't seem very good at following instructions, Junko." He grinned, resting his chin on his palm.

My eyes went to his hands, they were huge, bigger than mine. He could smother me with them. There were also tattoos on his knuckles, colourful ones.

"What?" I said, because I'm so articulate.

"You're breaking curfew, interfering with a mission, again and you're clearly incredibly articulate." He smirked, raising a brow at me.

Did he just read my mind? I gulped and was relieved when a waitress appeared and filled the coffee mugs on the table.

"I'm trouble." I replied, pulling a mysterious face. I probably looked like an idiot.

"No, you're not," He chuckled then. "I'll allow you to help though."

He was allowing me to help? Really? I must have looked stupified because he laughed and I couldn't help but think he had the most amazing laugh. I mean, Hunter had a cute laugh, but this was something else. This was better.

"Sorry, I'm late." Keith had appeared. He looked a little on edge when he saw Chris and I.

He slid into the booth next to me. Chris tapped a button on the device on his wrist. I heard Tris say hello and I smiled at her chipper tone.

"Tris, what information have you obtained?" Chris asked.

"Right, here goes," Tris said, clearing her throat. "Both abductions happened over the weekend within hours of eachother. Both girls were last seen on their way to their respective dorms."

"Any other history of abductions?" Keith asked.

"This is where it gets weird. Apparently, around 30 years ago two girls disappeared around this time, same type of incident, and it happened 30 years before that. There are records of this going back as far as the 1700s." Tris continued.

"Something is feeding on them." Chris added.

A shiver chased down my spine. I glanced around Keith and looked at the cafe patrons. A group of girls were seated across the way. They were talking and laughing animatedly. A couple was seated in the far corner. Their hands were interlaced and they were talking in low voices.

"I want this thing found with no casulties." Chris said.

No pressure then. I glanced at Keith. He nodded and I did the same. With me involved there probably wouldn't be any casulties. I couldn't fight so my safety depended on the person next to me.

"Is there any possiblity this could be a student?" I asked.

"Good thinking, Junko. Nice to hear you again." Tris said, sounding happy.

I stayed and listened to them talk. It felt surreal being here. I wondered if Collette should know what was happening, but I didn't want to worry her. I barely noticed that we were leaving and Keith was nudging my arm.

"Let's go." He whined.

"Oh yeah, ok." I replied.

The streets were dark when we got outside. Chris turned to face the two of us.

"I'll make sure Junko gets home safely." He said, and I felt sick with nerves all of a sudden.

I glanced at Keith and he grinned, clearly not getting what my issue was. Fine, go, leave me with your boss. Someone who liked me one minute and hated me the next. Although this could give me a chance to do some sleuthing.

"See you tomorrow, Junko." Keith said, and he was gone in an instant.

I was left with Chris. He motioned for me to follow. Walking in nervous silence seemed like fun. I glanced up at him.

"So, I never asked what you guys are." I tried to brooch it with confidence.

"Why don't you help Keith with this mission and then you can ask what we are." He replied.

Thanks for nothing. We got to my window and i paused, glaring up at him. His lips tugged up slightly at the corners, like I was amusing to him.

"Still not gonna tell me." I snapped.

"I suspect Keith or one of the others will since they find your company interesting." He replied, shrugging.

"And you don't?" I shot back.

"I can take it or leave it." He said, raising a brow at my pout.

I turned and prised my fingers under the window and lifted it carefully. I hopped up onto the ledge and climbed through, turning to say goodbye. He was gone. Seriously? What a jerk.

 

Chapter Text

"Someone weird? You mean, like you?" The girl I was talking to, asked, smirking at my dumbstruck face.

It was Wednesday and I had asked a few people if they'd seen any freaks hanging about the campus, looking like they wanted to devour students. So far, I'd either been ignored or made fun of. I'd finished my classes early today and this hardly seemed worth my time.

The girl flicked her hair and sauntered off. I sighed and turned to head back inside the campus. As I did so, Hunter was walking down the steps. He glanced at me then looked away.

Frustration bubbled up inside of me. If I was more confident I'd march after him and demand that he speak to me. Instead, I watched him walk across the quad.

"Wow, you must really like him." A voice said.

I turned round to find Keith leaning against the wall, following my line of sight. Hunter had reached the tree line at the edge of the quad and was talking to his friends. He turned and looked towards me. I ignored him right back and faced Keith.

"He's an aquaintance." I replied.

"An aquaintance that you're in love with?" He grinned.

"No, I'm not. You've got it totally wrong." I shot back, then realised my insistent denial sounded false.

"Clearly. Question is, why would you be in love with someone who ignores you like that?" He said.

I sighed and glanced back at Hunter. He was talking to his friends. He had his head in the palms of his hands and was hunched over. I turned back round to find that Keith had moved slightly closer and was leaning against the stairs, watching.

"We should explore inside the campus." I said, by way of avoding all questions.

It was easy to get inside since it was broad daylight. Students were walking around, going to and from lectures. No one paid any notice to us until Collette appeared. She frowned and walked over. I wanted to hide in that instance.

"Junko?" She said my name like she couldn't believe I was with a guy that wasn't Liam or Hunter. "Who is this?"

"Collette, this is Keith," I murmured, and she smiled.

"Hi." She held out a hand. Keith shook hands with her and stuffed his hands into his jean pockets.

I chatted to Collette, trying to get her to see me later at the dorms. She didn't seem to get the hint and I wanted to groan in frustration. Her eyes suddenly lit up with mischief.

"Oh, I get it." She grinned.

I frowned. What did she get? I glanced at Keith to see if he understood what she was getting at. He smirked at me and I glared at him. Collette reached out and hugged me.

"I'm so happy you're moving on from Hunter. He's so not worth your time." She whispered, pulling back and walking past me.

We walked on and it took me a few minutes to realise what she was implying.

"She thinks we're together!" I said.

"Wow, you're quick. Nothing gets past you." Keith chuckled.

The corridors were emptying out as students either went to their dorms or went to their lectures. You could hear the faint sound of students in lessons, but it was a distant hum. The hallway curved round and we walked down the stairs onto the lower floor. This floor was where the music and arts classes were based.

It was oddly quiet down here. I peeked into the classrooms. There were a few lectures taking place. These rooms were smaller so it was easy to see what was happening. One of the classrooms was empty, except from a piano in the corner.

"We should keep moving." I said.

Keith opened the door and I followed, whining all the way. He went straight for the piano and sat down. He'd lifted the cover before I could stop him.

"What are you doing?" I whisper-yelled.

I stopped short when he started playing. I watched in total confusion, then awe. He was good, not just good, but amazing. I stepped closer and stood next to the piano, smiling at last. Watching him play made all the fear I felt disappear. I don't know how long I stayed there, but he stopped eventually.

Someone was clapping. We both looked round to see a girl standing in the doorway. She was smiling brightly, clapping enthusiastically. Her hair was plaited and as she stepped closer I noticed she was a few inches taller than me. Her bright eyes were rimmed by round glasses.

"That was amazing." She said, letting out a breath she seemed to be holding in.

"Thanks." Keith smiled, looking away.

"Do you go to this college? I've never seen you before." The girl continued.

"No, I study overseas, actually." Keith replied.

This girl seemed kind. I wondered if we could question her without freaking her out and making her leave.

"Hey, do you mind if we ask you some questions?" I was careful. The girl glanced at me and nodded, still in the magic of the piano solo she'd seen a moment ago. "Have you noticed anyone weird hanging around campus?"

She shook her head and I sighed. This was getting us nowhere. I was about to give up when she stopped me.

"Wait. I've never seen anyone, but apparently in lecture hall 3-A, there is meant to be someone sitting in the empty chair at the back right corner, but when everyone leaves, there's no one there."

"Sounds like an urban legend." Keith said.

"Y-yeah, that's excatly what it is." The girl smiled, blushing.

Yep, she definitely liked him. I got the sense she'd say anything if it made Keith happy so I knew we were good to continue. Keith seemed to realise this too.

"Any other ghost stories, sweetheart?" He smirked.

"W-well, apparently one of the lecture halls' furniture gets moved during the night and the drama club have seen shadows moving around back stage." She continued, not taking a breath.

Whatever had abducted the girls must be what was causing all the strange activity around the campus. It meant brekaing into the college at night, which would be very tricky to do. I could get expelled if I got caught. Plus, the curfew was still in place.

"We should go." I said, and Keith nodded.

"W-wait a moment," The girl called. "My name's Sophie. Will I see you again?"

I glanced at Keith and he just shrugged. I glared at him. This poor girl was evidently smitten.

"Maybe, I'm on a break from studying." He grinned, and left.

I waved at her, awkwardly, and followed him. Tonight wasn't going to be easy. I'd never been a rule breaker until recently. I'd already broken curfew and now I'd be entering the college without permission.

 

***********************

 

Dusk rolled round really quickly. I'd slept for a while after I arrived back at the dorm and I'd drank far too muich coffee. I turned my light off and opened the window again. My feet touched the grass and I glanced around, hoping that there'd be no sign of any adults. I left my window ajar again and used the shadows to sneak across the quad.

The pathway weaved round towards the back of the college and I was blinded by a torch to my face when I got to the fire exit.

"Oh, it's just that human from last time." David grinned.

He was seated on the wall. The torch was nowhere to be seen and I realised he was lighting flames on each finger. I stepped closer and arched my neck to look.

"Got ya." He grinned when one flame lapped higher and nearly singed my hair.

"Quit doing that." Roger snapped.

He was peaking through a window. Eyes scanning the darkness. The back of the college was the oldest part. It was still waiting to be repaired and that included this fire exit. I'd discovered it when I tripped into the door last year and it opened without an alarm. I'd closed it at the time and told the secretary, but she didn't seem to care all that much. I think her passion died for dealing with students back in her thirties.

I pressed a hand to the door and someone grabbed my arm. I glanced at Keith.

"Are you insane? The alarm will go off." He hissed.

"Nope, it won't." I replied, pushing the door.

Slowly, it creaked open with a metallic screech. We entered the college quickly. The door slid closed and I stared down the corridor. No light was shining through the windows. Roger elbowed David and he lifted a hand, flames ghosted over his fingers, illuminating the darkness.

The light was still dim so it as we walked it cast eerie shadows over the corridors. Our own shadows stretched across the floor and up to the wall. Lecture hall 3-A was down the hall and to the right. Footsteps echoed behind us and I glanced round. A giggle resonated throughout the hallway. It sounded like a child. If a child's ghost was haunting the campus then it couldn't possibly be what we were looking for.

For some reason though, the demons with me had their weapons drawn. Another giggle bounced off the walls.

"Sounds like a child." I whispered.

"It does, doesn't it. Very convincing. Would you say it's a boy or a girl?" Roger asked.

I listened again and I realised it sounded indistinguishable. It sounded neither female or male. A shadow danced across the wall.

"Don't let them hurt me." A soft voice whispered.

My eyes dartetd sideways to see a little, black shape next to me. I side-stepped, covering my mouth to keep from screaming. David aimed his weapon and a bolt of electric shot the shadow. It reeled back and hissed.

"I didn't mean to hurt them," It said. "They were my friends. I want the girl with you to be my friend too. Won't you please let her be my friend?"

The voice was distorting more and more. I whimpered and glanced around. A shadow darted across the way. I nudged Keith and he shot the spot. The 'thing' snarled and reeled back again, circling us. It then took off down the hallway, gaining momentum and size until it was no longer a child. Its laughter bounced off the walls, reverberating as we ran after it.

"Shadow agents are the worst." David whined.

"Shadow agent?" I asked.

"They're awful, little bastards. They feed on human energy. This one has been feeding every thirty years, using urban legends as a means to get round colleges in the area." Keith was jogging next to me.

Where were the girls though? Were they already gone? I supposed that must be true. The shadow slid under the door to lecture hall 3-A. Roger opened the door and stepped in first. The windows near the ceiling allowed faint light to filter into the room. A chair moved across the way and he aimed over there.

I followed and looked around. I could see it, peering out from under a desk, red eyes glaring at the demons. I tilted my head in that direction. Keith got the hint and aimed. With a feral shriek he hit it. The shadow flipped the desk and writhed around in pain.

"Nooo, I just wanted to be friends," It hissed. "They were lonely too. So lonely."

The bolts coursed through it and with another snarl, it disintegrated, shattering into light. The room went quiet and I realised that it had gone. Hard to believe that it had caused so many problems. Keith lowered the gun, slipping it into the holster at the his side. Real, human footsteps echoed down the hallway. Great, we were in trouble now.

David grabbed my arm and pulled me to his side. He pressed a button on the device on his wrist. I closed my eyes, waiting to be found, to be expelled. When I opened my eyes, we were outside in an alleyway between the cafe and a store. I sat down on the floor.

"Will the girls be found?" I asked.

"Sadly no." Keith replied, sitting next to me.

"Shadow agents use pocket dimensions to hide their prey." Roger said.

At least, no more people would go missing now. It was a relief. I set my head against the wall, enjoying the cool feeling against my warm neck. I'd completed a mission with them. Now I could ask a question I'd been dying to ask since SpringWood House.

"What are you guys?" I blurted it out, rather than be tactful.

"Well, we're what humans call demons." David replied.

Demons? That word conjured up many bad things. When I was little I'd had a book of faerie drawings. The book was full of good faeries and bad faeries. The bad ones always looked beautiful in their own sinister way and looking at the three men with me, the same was true of them and of Chris. Beautiful. Sinister. Deadly.

"Demons are the bad guys." I stated, automatically.

"Do we look bad to you?" Keith said.

I glanced at him. In the streetlight, he looked ordinary. Human. His eyes were like a humans. His dark hair was human. He looked like a human.

"You look normal." I replied.

"Good. That's how you think we look. In these forms we are." He grinned.

He stood, holding out a hand and I accepted. I still had more questions, but I wasn't sure I wanted the answers so I'd leave it for today.

 

Chapter Text

To say I felt like crap that morning would be an understatement. I stood in front of my mirror, dragging a brush through my hair. There were dark shadows under my eyes and my skin was paler than usual. I left my room earlier than normal and walked down the hallway. It all seemed quiet. I could see the sun streaking into the dorm hallway.

Pushing the doors open, I ambled down the steps, but paused when I felt like I was being watched. Whirling round, I noticed a guy was sitting on a wall. He looked strange. Actually he looked like nobody at this campus. Even the alternative kids would be amazed by him.

His black hair was long and sticking up. He was wearing very tight trousers that looked like he'd spray painted them on himself as well as a leather jacket. He noticed me and smiled. His lips were red. He approached me.

"You must be Junko." He grinned, flashing perfect, white teeth.

"Yeah, and who are you?" I asked, stepping back slightly.

"Wow, I'm amazed you'd tell a random stranger your name," He said, ignoring my question, blue eyes flashing mischeviously.

I often didn't tell random people my name, but he'd seemed so friendly that I couldn't help but tell him.

"Do you know Keith, by any chance?" I asked, and he nodded.

Another demon? He looked too young to be a demon. He looked like he was a year or so older than me.

"I'm Andy, by the way." He said, following me when I started walking to class.

"Hi, Andy." I smiled.

"Where you going?" He seemed genuinely interested.

"I have an English lecture to go to." I replied, and he pouted.

"I was told to retrieve you and not take no for an answer." He stated.

Who the heck would have issued that kind of order? Oh, wait, give me one guess and I'll bet I can guess right.

"Did Chris give you that order?" I asked, glowering at the young demon.

"Maybe," Andy replied. "Ok, fine. He did. Please come. He doesn't like to be told no."

Sounds ominous. I rolled my eyes and agreed. Andy seemed happier now and grabbed my hand in his. His hand seemed warmer due to the fingerless gloves he was wearing.

The feeling of being propelled from my world to somewhere else was still awful. Andy let go of me when we were in the foyer of wherever they were based. I followed Andy this time. He led me down a hallway and up a flight of stairs. He paused at a large door and knocked.

"Well, good luck." He grinned, walking away.

"Wait, you're not coming in with me." I said, freaking out.

"Nope, just you alone," He replied. "See you real soon, Junko."

Great, just perfect. The door opened and I faltered. I didn't want to go in. Chris still scared me so much. It was clear he didn't really like me. I was a major inconvinience to him. He'd made that pretty clear. Against my better judgement I stepped into the office.

No one was here. Who opened the door? This room was decorated dark red. A couch was across the way. It matched the walls. Books lined one wall and at the end of the room was a desk. I seated myself on the couch, perching on the edge, feeling out of place. My eyes roved round the room.

And landed on the bookcase. There was a snowglobe in-between the books. It was so pretty. I got up and walked over till I was in front of it. Inside the glass sphere was a small figure of a woman. She had no features except for being in a dress and her little head was angled to the side. On the side of the glass was a monster, looking in at the woman.

The two of them were either in a really heated staring match or were two lovers seperated by the glass. I really wasn't expecting something like this to belong to someone like Chris. I reached up and traced a hand down the glass, being careful not to leave smudges.

"Shall we add touching other people's things to the list of greivances about you, Junko?"

I shrieked and whipped my hands away when Chris spoke from behind me. He was literally inches from me and I stumbled backwards. He chuckled at my shocked expression.

"Holy crap, you scared me." I yelped.

"Given that reaction, it would seem obvious." He replied, sitting on the couch.

I lowered my tensed shoulders, but stayed rooted to the spot. My eyes went back to the snow globe.

"It's really pretty." I murmured, and then glanced at him.

"Small talk, Junko?" He leaned back, still observing me.

"I never really know what to say to you." I replied, lowering my gaze.

"Evidently." He chuckled again.

I noticed he looked a little tired. His eyes were closed and he'd rested his head against the back rest of the couch. With his neck exposed, I could see the tattoos there and they trailed below his shirt to places my eyes couldn't see. When I thought about it I blushed.

"You wanted to speak to me?" I said, stepping a little closer.

"It would seem that Keith and the others feel you are an asset so I will trust their judgement," He said, simply. His eyes opened again and he glared at me. "You are free to come and go as you please."

"T-thank you. Are you ok?" I asked, not for small talk this time, but because he seemed tired.

Those dark eyes observed me for a few seconds and he seemed to be thinking. I looked away again and waited. If he didn't want to be friends then fine. I guess I was cool with that. Why should it matter? It shouldn't. It didn't. Seriously, brain, it doesn't.

"I'm fine. You should go now," He replied, the ghost of a smile appearing on his lips. I nodded and started to walk away. "I agree, Junko. The snowglobe is pretty. It's fragile, like you."

I glanced back at those words. Only when I shut the door did I realise he had said I was fragile and pretty. My cheeks burned with the realisation. Then I felt guilt. I liked Hunter. I had always liked Hunter, but Hunter had never liked me. He'd always made it obvious. For some reason my heart was pounding. My hands were shaking.

I walked down the stairs and down the hallway and nearly walked into Tris. She didn't look angry, just pleased.

"Hello Junko," She smiled, brightly. "If you'll follow me, please."

She walked next to me and seemed unaware of my inner turmoil. My brain and heart were warring. What's worse is they were warring over two people who had no interest in me. When would I actually like someone that liked me back? I'd probably be that lady in her forties with fifteen cats. Mom would have been so disappointed.

We got to a room and she stopped, sitting at a desk. She handed me a black wrist band. I knew what it was immediately and accepted. My life would never be normal again now.

"For you," Tris smiled. "Your next mission will be with Andy and Ashley. I believe you've met Andy already."

Yeah, I sure had. I clipped the bracelet round my wrist and said goodbye to Tris. I went back to the foyer, glancing back towards the hallway where Chris' office was. Was I seriously hoping to see him again?

Hands covered my eyes and the world faded into darkness.

"Guess who?" Keith's voice said.

"I know it's you, Keith." I said, sounding petulant.

"Aw, you're no fun." He grumbled, removing his hands.

I turned round. His trousers were the same as Andy's, in the sense that I thought he'd spray painted them on. Demons sure were weird. I fiddled with the bracelet. I had no idea how to work it to get home.

"How do you work this dumb thing?" I said.

"Come here before you break it and I'll show you." He replied.

I held my arm out and his cold hands touched the bracelet, pressing the panels on it. The pressure exploded behind my eyes and when I opened them I was back outside the college. I checked my phone to find it was fifteen minutes before my class. I would never get used to that.

"Have fun studying." Keith grinned.

"Thanks. I'll try." I replied, mustering up a weak smile.

"You ok? You're not gonna puke again, are you?" He asked.

"No. I'm cool." I smiled a little more, trying to seem real.

I waved and walked up the stairs. Students were heading to class. I walked by Liam and he smiled, winking at me. I couldn't help but smile at Liam. I hadn't seen Collette yet. I hoped she was ok. I noticed Victoria chatting with her friends.

"Can you believe he'd do that?" She was speaking in an angry whisper.

She could have been talking about anyone. Why did I get the sense she was talking about Hunter? I guessed they'd match their relationship up and continue on their merry way.

 

*********************

 

My classes went along as usual and I scribbled down my coursework. I hadn't seen Collette all day. Instead I'd eaten lunch with Liam, his boyfriend and their friend, Sara. I hadn't seen Hunter either. I made my way back to the dorm and noticed a familiar figure in black by my dorm. Andy.

I strolled over and he saw me. He walked over to meet me half-way. We ended up in the cafe down the street.

"Told you, we'd see eachother again." He grinned.

"Yeah, you weren't kidding." I agreed.

"Ok, I guess I should fill you in on our mission," Andy said, sipping the coffee. "Do you know where Penbroke trail is?"

I did know. Penbroke was a a hiking route that went through the forest at the edge of town. It was said to be a favourite camping area and very romantic. People from the campus parked their cars there and would hike up the mountain and do things.

"I've heard of it." I replied.

"It's a make-out spot, isn't it?" Andy asked, smirking.

"W-what, well maybe." I said, hating how my mind though of someone that wasn't Hunter.

"It is. I could tell by your face. So, how many guys have you been up there with? Or girls, if that's your thing?"

"W-well, you know. A very high number."

"Is that number zero? It is, isn't it."

I pouted at Andy and he raised a brow. A habit he seemed to have developed over time. He seemed to do so without realising. He also seemed incapable of not speaking. We were opposites in every sense.

"Anyways, the mission?" I said, distracting him.

"Oh yeah, I can tease you later. Did you know a grand total of five people per year have been wandering off and then being found dead by the park's reservationists?" Andy asked.

"Five people a year? Every year?" I replied.

"Every year for the past ten years. These a sane, not suicidal people, falling to their deaths." Andy said, drumming his fingers on the table. He'd already torn the napkins to pieces.

"That's crazy." I whispered.

"Yep, and this weekend, you, me and Ash are gonna find out why." He grinned.

Great, a camping trip with Andy. It would be like a dream come true. I groaned and rested my head on the table.

"We're going camping." I wanted to check.

"Yep, we're going camping. The other agents couldn't find anything on the trail, but Chris thinks only humans are affected by it." Andy said.

Well, this ought to be a barrel of laughs.

 

 

Chapter Text

By the time Saturday arrived, I was no closer to seeing Collette. I had knocked her door that morning and gotten no answer. I felt like an interloper so I walked away. I had gotten up early in order to meet Andy at the cafe.

In the harsh light of day I was definitely aware of everything that had happened over the past twenty-four hours. In fact my brain had kept me awake most of the night. I'd thought of Hunter like I usually did. My dreams of him were all hand-holding and old timey romance where he was Mister Darcey and I was Elizabeth. After a while though he'd morph into someone else.

His height would change, hair would grow and I'd find myself thinking of Chris. Hunter seemed a distant memory. I simply couldn't get over it. I'd spent most of high school thinking of Hunter and dreaming about him asking me out and now it felt like he was being shunted out.

I left the dorms and made my way across the quad. The Autumn sun was losing its heat and Winter was definitely round the corner. The campus looked so pretty though. The leaves were starting to coat the ground in yellows and reds like a carpet. There weren't many students around this morning.

I arrived at the cafe with time to spare and saw Andy waiting outside. He was smoking, leaning against the railing. As I got closer I noticed he was with another guy. This guy was slightly shorter than Andy. His hair was longer. Andy saw me first and threw the cigarette away, practically skipping over.

"Good Morning, Junko." He grinned.

How was he so happy first thing in the morning? I managed a sleepy smile and Andy swooped in, hugging me. Someone had no boundaries. The other guy cleared his throat and Andy dragged me over.

"Junko, this is Ashley."

I raised my hand in a wave and Ashley smiled. On closer inspection i noted his eyes were brown, almost like Chris' but without the crimson edge. Just what I needed this weekend.

"Hey, Junko. Good to meet you." Ashley grinned.

"I'm gonna get coffee before the boss shows up." Andy said, mounting the steps to the cafe.

At his words, my face heated up. Chris was coming here. I wasn't mentally prepared. I turned towards a car and checked my face in the chrome side. This was awful. I looked like a sixteen year old still. I hadn't magically matured in the night.

"You look nervous," Ashley noted. "Care to share."

"I-i, no, mornings are, um." I stammered.

"Right. And how long have you liked my boss in that way?" Ashley asked.

"N-no, you don't understand." I had been caught.

"Relax, I won't say a word. This demon's lips are sealed. Besides it's kinda cute." He smirked.

Andy reappered, handing me a polystyrene cup of coffee. Ashley accepted his and sniffed it. Then whined that it wasn't Starbucks. Andy dismissed him with a wave of his hand. Time ticked by and my nerves were like bacteria, multiplying until I felt sick.

Chris soon appeared. He walked round the corner. Today was Saturday so he was dressed a lot more casually. He was wearing skinny jeans and a hoodie, a black beanie was on his head and he was wearing a pair of sunglasses. I stared at my coffee in order to be cool.

"Morning, boss." Ashley smiled, elbowing me.

Andy was shoving bags into the car. He waved and slammed the boot shut, joining us. Chris glanced at me and I managed to look at him for approximately one second. He lowered his glasses.

"Morning, Junko." He grinned.

The way he said my name made my knees tremble. I mumbled an obviously nervous good morning back. I could sense Ashley next to me, evidently enjoying the show. Andy seemed oblivious to the whole thing.

"We're ready to go." Andy said.

"Good. If there are any problems then contact Tris. She'll be available at all hours. Should you need any back-up then Roger is free this weekend as is Stevie." Chris replied.

"Awesome. We'll be in touch in any case." Ashley stated.

"Another thing," Chris said, before the two demons went to leave. "It is important that Junko is protected as much as possible. No harm must come to her."

Andy nodded, squeezing my shoulder reassuringly. Ashley, meanwhile, smirked at my dumbstruck expression. Chris nodded and the two of them walked towards the car. I hesitated.

"You look better today. I-i hope you're ok." I murmured.

"I'll be fine, Junko. If you need me, your bracelet can contact me directly." He replied, smiling.

"O-ok, thanks," I said. Quick brain, think of something to say. Something witty. Something flirty like Collette. "I-i'll miss you." Gah, what the heck? Why'd I say that? Stupid, stupid brain.

I heard Ashley snort out a laugh at that. I stepped back, hoping to avoid possible embarrassment. I couldn't believe I'd said that. What a thing to blurt out.

"I'll miss you too, Junko," Chris chuckled. "Two days without you stammering and not looking at me will feel like torture."

I felt the heat rise in my face. I glanced at him to find he'd removed his glasses and was smirking at me. He was joking. He was messing with me, I realised and I managed a shy smile.

"W-well, bye." I said, turning and clambering into the back seat.

 

********************

 

We had driven half-way out of town and Ashley turned to face me from the passenger seat. He was grinning again.

"I'll miss you? Seriously, Junko?" He laughed.

"Please just drop it. I didn't mean it. I was on the spot." I shot back.

Andy was turning the car down the street towards the edge of town that led onto the highway. He was trying to concentrate and not laugh at the same time.

"I've never seen Chris smile like that." Andy chimed in.

"I know. He's always grumpy and moody," Ashley grinned. "It's Junko. She's softening him."

"N-no, I didn't." I protested.

The drive was just Ashley teasing me and I quickly found out he liked turning innocent sentences into dirty puns and laughing when I blushed. Andy drove into the reservation and we found a parking spot. There were a few cars here already. A camper van was parked across the way and a couple were sitting by a BBQ.

Across the way in a clearing was a children's play area. A couple of boys were on the swings. The car park led out towards a little cafe made of distressed wood and next to that was a cute, little gift shop. On the other side was a trail, leading through the woods I guessed that's where we'd be going.

I clambered out and started helping Andy unload the car. He gave me my bag and nothing else. I guessed he didn't mind doing the carrying. He practically threw Ashley's bag at him and laughed when Ashley threw the empty coffee cup at him.

I picked up the cup, throwing it in the bin, not wanting to give the park reservationists a reason to evict us. Andy slammed the boot and locked the car. I followed him as we walked down the pathway and through another clearing, clearly designated for campers. We set up our little area, just down from a group of girls and boys.

"We need to look like average college students partying." Ashley said, when I queried the location.

"Hey guys," One of the guys from the group across the way wandered over.

"Hey man, what's up?" Andy grinned.

"Noticed you guys didn't bring any kegs. You're welcome to share ours," The guy said, smiling. "I'm Austin, by the way."

"I'm Ashley, this is Andy," Ashley smiled. "And this is Junko."

I waved from my spot, setting up my tent. I was fairly good at it after camping a lot with the Girl Guides in middle school. Austin seemed like a nice guy. He was about Ashley's height and had shoulder length brown hair. He had a shark-fin necklace on. Clearly he was a surfer. He looked like one that would appear in a movie.

"Good to meet you all." Austin grinned.

Thankfully, he didn't seem that interested in me. I was glad of that. I finished my tent and helped Andy whilst Ashley and Austin chatted.

"Thanks, Junko." Andy smiled.

"You're welcome." I replied.

We set up a fire and sat down once the tents were assembled. I glanced at my bracelet and smiled a little. Ashley was across the way, cooking on the make-shift BBQ. They might not have bought beer, but Andy and Ashley had bought a lot of food. I was kinda glad there was no alcohol. I didn't drink. Never had, apart from at my cousin's wedding.

"We're gonna take a walk up the route in a bit." Andy said, and I nodded.

Once we'd eaten. Ashley asked Austin to keep an eye on our stuff. The younger guy agreed and we set off. The path weaved round and the trail sloped up a hill. We walked up there and came to the top of a hill. The drop from the hill was quite steep. I stared down then felt sick so looked away.

The day was already slowly turning to dusk. Ashley walked to the far side of the hill and looked across the forest. No one was up here yet. I couldn't see any ghosts or anything spooky. We stayed there for a little while, just searching. We came up empty. Eventually, giving up and going back down.

Ashley went and chatted with Austin and his friends when we got back. Meanwhile, Andy stayed with me, sitting by the fire. We were quiet for a few minutes until Andy broke the silence.

"So, you can see ghosts?" He asked.

"Yeah, it would seem that way." I replied.

"Normally humans can only see them when someone close to them dies or they percieve death," Andy stated. "So, which is it for you?"

I had never been dead before so the only thing that I could think of was something only a few people close to me knew. The college knew and were very understanding.

"Well, my parents passed away when I was six." I said, and Andy looked shocked.

"Junko, I'm so sorry." He murmured, seeming genuinely contrite.

"It's fine. Don't look so sad. It doesn't suit you," I laughed a little. "We were in the car. A drunk guy hit the driver's side. Dad died instantly. Mom was crushed."

"You were in the car too?" Andy asked, but he already knew.

"Y-yeah, I was in the back. They had to remove the roof to get me out, but all I had were some scratches." I mumbled.

"Junko, I'm- I just can't belive that happened to you." Andy shook his head.

I waved him off. I had flashes of memories from that time. I'm remember vague details like sitting in the hospital, crying. They'd got a nurse to sit with me and hold my hand. I couldn't really recall when Mom had died. Was it the same day or the day after?

My Mom's sister, Auntie Makoto came to get me from the hospital. She was distressed too, but had pulled herself together for my sake. We cried on the way home though. I'd lived with her right up until I came to college. I'd used money my parents left to pay my tuition fees. The money was fine, but I would have traded it all to have my parents back.

"Don't worry, Andy. I'm glad we talked about it." I smiled, and he did too.

"Cool. Let's talk about something more light-hearted," He replied. "So, you and Chris, eh?"

Yep, this was way worse. I shuffled nervously now. I would have spoken about anything other than this. Anything at all. The weather, that awesome tree over there, even Ashley making out with some girl across the way.

"He hates me." I stated, automatically.

"No, he doesn't. He seems to be warming up to you." Andy said.

He glanced up and seemed to notice Ashley making out with the girl too and sighed. He stood and politely excused himself. I was left sitting by the fire. Dusk had well and truely settled now and I heard the commotion as Andy helped a very drunk Ashley back to our area. I got up and opened my tent, crawling inside.

We hadn't found anything today. What if we didn't? I guessed these falls could be attributed to freak accidents. I could hear Andy talking to someone. He was being awfully sweet so I assumed he was using his bracelet to talk his girlfriend. Ashley must have gone to sleep. I wasn't surprised.

I checked my phone and texted Collette to ring me. I knew Liam would be spending tonight with his boyfriend so I didn't want to bother him. I sat and waited for Collette to ring and when she didn't, I phoned her. The phone rang until it cut to voicemail. Was she avoiding me? I set the phone down and set my head in my hands. With a sudden burst of courage, I lifted my arm to look at the bracelet.

Keith had worked it yesterday. I pressed one panel and it bought up Tris' contact details on a holographic screen. This thing was so advanced. Humans could only dream of this tech. I pressed the next panel and saw Chris' details.

Should I really ring him, or whatever this device did? He was probably only telling me I could contact him directly just to set my mind at ease. He obviously didn't want me to do so. I paused and listened to Andy's hushed conversation. I didn't want to bother him. I lifted my finger and found I could touch the hologram.

I pressed the name and a circle appeared on the hologram. It began to cycle round like how a YouTube video loads. I was amazed by this. I didn't have long to be amazed though.

"Hello? Junko?" Chris sounded confused.

"U-um, yeah it's me. Just updating you on stuff." I murmured. I heard him chuckle.

"Are you ok?" He asked.

"Y-yeah, Andy's talking to someone," I paused, biting my lip. "And Ashley's passed out."

"He get drunk again?" Chris said, and I guessed this happened often.

"Yeah, he did." I replied.

"And you're all alone now." He said, and I could hear the amusement in his tone.

I made a vague sound of agreement and shuffled nervously. Was this a bad idea? Yep, it was the worst idea to do this. He probably didn't want to talk to me. He'd said he could take or leave my company so he surely wouldn't want to converse with me.

"I know you probably don't want to chat with me, but I'm kinda lonely right now." I said, really quickly, aware I was being slightly snarky.

"Why would you assume I don't want to speak to you?" Chris asked. Oh great, I'd annoyed him.

"Because you're all scary and stuff." I laughed when I said the word scary in a slightly deeper voice.

Chris must have found it funny becuase I heard him laugh again. I smiled at the sound. A chill raced through my body.

"If I'm so scary then why are you contacting me, Junko?" He murmured, tone causing me to blush.

"I-i, no reason." I replied.

The night was starting to become really cold. I shuddered a little at the sudden dip in temperature. I was reminded that it would be October in a week's time.

"Cold?" Chris' voice snapped me back to reality.

"Y-yeah, it's chilly here," I whispered, stifling a yawn. "I liked seeing you in casual clothes today."

"Well, I liked seeing you in a dress." He replied.

My eyes widened and I stared down at my green, woolen style dress. It was a mint colour with a row of decorative buttons down the front. It had been a present from my Auntie last Christmas. I'd thrown it on this morning in an effort to appear presentable as well as plaiting my hair.

"U-um, I'm not sure what to say to that." I mumbled, toying with the buttons on the dress.

"You could take it that I think you're pretty." He murmured.

My throat closed up and I thought really hard to try and say something clever. Was he really saying this? It felt like a dream. A nasty part of my mind giggled and mocked me, saying that he was being friendly. The compliments were just politeness. I was still an annoying human that had interfered with a mission and interloped on his time. I pretty much interloped on everyone's time.

"I-i should get some sleep. Lots of stuff to do." I said, wiping my eyes, sniffling a little.

Pathetic. I was totally pathetic. As if someone like Chris would even look at me. I was short for my age and had a round face. This made me look child-like despite just turning twenty-one.

"Ok, be careful," He sounded resigned. I was about to cancel the communication when he spoke again. "Junko, I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too." I replied, taking a shuddering breath.

I cancelled the communication after that and sighed, smiling a little. A noise outside disturbed me and I whirled round, ready to confront the evil outside my tent.

"No, you hang up first." Ashley laughed, and I groaned.

Had he heard the entire conversation? There was no clear confirmation of that yet.

"Chris and Junko sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-." Ashley only got so far.

"Ash, I'm trying to fucking sleep." Andy snapped.

"All right fine, stroppy-pants." Ashley giggled.

I rolled my eyes at that. Unfurling my sleeping bag, I opened my bag and removed my PJs, changing into them and slipping into the sleeping bag. My view of the tent roof was uninspiring, but I smiled then. I felt my heart flutter. I clung to that feeling even as I fell asleep.

 

Chapter Text

Sunlight streamed into my tent and I was lying there, listening to the world around me awaken. Or rather, I could hear one of the guys from the group across the way hurling his guts up. It was an unpleasant way to begin the day.

I sat up and dressed myself then crawled out the tent to find Andy eating a cereal bar. He smiled at me and handed me one as well. I graciously accepted and sat with him.

"Ash won't be up yet." Andy stated, like it wasn't obvious that Ashley had gotten blind drunk.

How could someone get that drunk anyways? If Andy had heard my conversation last night then he didn't say anything. He was quiet and slightly more reserved. I guessed it was down to it being early.

I glanced over Andy's shoulder and thought I saw something through the trees. It looked like a little, glowing ball. I watched it dance among the grass and then disappear. Weird.

"Who were you talking to last night?" I asked, because nosiness and why not?

"She's my girlfriend. We've been together for 100 years." Andy replied.

Wow, a hundred entire years. Demons sure did things for keeps. I faintly wondered whether 100 was a high number. Maybe it was like humans when we celebrated a year and were all mushy and cuddly.

"Congratulations." I said.

"Demons are immortal. Ergo, their relationships last longer." He replied, eyeing me.

I could see the hint a mile away. He was trying to discourage me. I shuffled nervously under his gaze.

"Have you ever liked someone you weren't supposed to?" I asked, and Andy smiled then.

"Sure I have. I've loved humans too," He sighed. "Your short years, how you love unconditionally, how strong you are; it's a bittersweet feeling."

I guessed that were true. I would die in around 80 years, 90, if I were lucky. These guys would be here long after I was gone and long after everyone was gone. It was a sobering thought.

"My god, you two are so fuckin' moody." Ashley appeared behind Andy.

He didn't look hungover. He sat down next to Andy and smiled, dismissing Andy's glare. We all groaned when the guy from across the way started heaving again.

"Fuckin' weak ass humans," Ashley whined. "So, plans for today?"

"We wait till nightfall. Whatever this is won't show itself till then." Andy replied.

Nightfall would be a long time. I decided to amuse myself and have a shower at the facilities at the edge of campsite. The showers were surprisingly clean and well kept. I spent ages washing. I re-plaited my hair and put on a different dress and boots. Next on my little trip would be to visit the gift shop.

I walked in and found the shop to be full of weird, little knick-knacks. It was like entering another dimension. No one seemed to be around. I paused at a shelf that had snowglobes on and stared at them for a few moments, transfixed.

One of them had a small woman inside. Her skin was translucent and she had clear wings protruding from her back. Her face was downcast, watching a glowing ball in front of her. On her face was a secretive smile. I reached out and grasped the ornament.

On my way to the counter I also picked up a cat plush for Collette. Waiting by the cash register, I hoped I hadn't walked in when the shop was closed. I must have been miles away.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" A voice said.

I jumped out of my skin and noticed the voice belonged to a girl. She must have been a few years older than me. Her skin was like porclein and her eyes were a witchy green.

"Sorry, couldn't resist." She laughed, beads in her hair jangling.

She looked like someone who was effortlessly cool, but didn't care about it. Just made her cooler. Whereas I looked like a troll.

"The snowglobe is beautiful?" I queried. Thought that was what she'd said.

"Yeah, it is. You see, these little faeries live in the forest and dance around like little lights." She replied.

Sounds like someone was a bit crazy. I glanced at the snowglobe then back to her. That weird light must have been a faerie. These things are real? Seriously? The girl priced everything up and I paid her.

"Can I ask your advice?" I wasn't sure how reliable she'd be.

"Sure, go for it." She said, sagely.

"Hypothetically, if you were a guy, would you like this snowglobe as a gift?" I watched her face and she smiled.

"Hypothetically, if I was a guy then I'd think you really liked me to give me something so personal." She grinned.

Right, thanks for the advice, crazy shop girl. I accepted the paper bag with my stuff in and left. When I got back, Andy was watching Ashley, who was chatting to Austin. My god, I hoped Ash didn't decide to get drunk again.

"I think I've figured out what's killing people," I said, and Andy glanced to me. "Faeries. They appear as lights, people have been following them in the dark."

"Yeah, I get the sense that whatever is here isn't good, but isn't evil." Andy replied, grimacing when Ashley laughed.

"Can we get rid of faeries?" I asked, genuinely curious.

"Nope, they were here first. This is their place. We're encroaching on it." He replied.

Andy decided after that we should follow the lights after dusk to be sure they were faeries.

 

**********************

 

Dusk came quickly and after our dinner, we set off. We hiked up the trail and were pretty pleased there was no one here yet. The sun had dipped below the skyline and we waited as the temperature dropped. We didn't have to wait long though. Across the way, on a nearby ledge I saw a small light.

It weaved along the side of the hill, dipping up and down. It's movements were co-ordinated, like it was dancing. I was in awe.

"Be careful, Junko." Andy said.

I trailed after the light and it seemed to be aware I was following. It changed its route and danced towards the edge of the hill. Andy stepped behind me and the light turned, flitting away, like it sensed that Andy was something not of this world. The light floated away down the hill. Ashley came to stand next to me. He elbowed me. I glanced in the direction he was pointing.

A million little lights flitted among the trees and floated towards the sky. I smiled as I watched them. They climbed slightly higher and weaved round towards the back of the hill.

"Can I go and watch them?" I asked.

"Yeah, but be careful." Andy warned.

"Your boyfriend would break our necks." Ashley snickered when I glared at him.

I raced after the lights as they ascended. The hill sloped round and I came out at a little peak. Across the way I noticed two figures seated on the ledge. Normal humans wouldn't have been able to see the lights. My foot crunched on gravel and one of the figures stood, turning and holding a torch.

In the dim light, I saw someone very familiar. Someone I'd been wanting to speak to since Friday. Collette. Her eyes widened when she realised it was me.

The other figure stood and turned. I recognised it was Hunter. Why were they out here? The puzzle pieces came together quite quickly for me. Why Hunter always ignored me, why he seemed so down when I'd last seen him and Collette's secretive behaviour.

"Junko, I'm so sorry." Collette said, voice thick with regret.

I almost couldn't hear her over the ringing in my ears. To be truthful, I wasn't that upset that she was with Hunter. Afterall, I was starting to get over my feelings for him. It was more that she'd kept this hidden and not told me. How long had she liked Hunter? Had she and him been doing this while he was with Victoria? A part of me already knew the answer.

I fled before she could take the first step. Andy was rounding the corner as I darted by. I ran past and skidded. My ankle twisted painfully and I felt myself going sideways. Before I could fall though, someone grasped my wrist. Ashley pulled me back, anchoring me.

Tears clouded my vision and he hugged me. My ankle gave way and he was holding me up. It felt humiliating to be carried back down the slope, but maybe not as humiliating to find out what your two friends were up to.

 

********************

 

Packing up our equipment took longer. Andy sat next to me as Ashley finshed and held up a glass orb. Inside was a small, winged woman. I pressed my pinkie to the glass and she pressed her tiny hands to the orb, looking sorrowful. I kinda knew how she felt.

The drive back was quiet and Andy parked the car near an old warehouse on the edge of town.

"Send the stuff back first." Ashley said.

They'd left me in the car, clutching the orb. The door opened and Andy reached in, scooping me out. My ankle was throbbing and had swollen. The pain was nothing though.

"Let's get your ankle looked at." Andy smiled.

I nodded and he cuddled me closer. I closed my eyes as we were whisked from my world to the other world. The foyer was empty when I opened my eyes.

"Hey, guys." Tris appeared, heels clicking.

She saw me and paused, looking concerned. Her hand reached out and she smoothed my hair from my face, kinda like a Mom would do.

"What happened?" She asked.

"Junko tripped following the faerie lights." Andy replied.

I found myself in the hospital wing again. The orb had been taken away. I sighed and glanced at the ice pack on my ankle. Tris had been super worried. I rubbed my eyes and leaned over to grab my bag.

"Hey, be careful."

My eyes shot up to see Chris. He'd gotten to my bag first and handed it to me. I accepted and sniffled. He sat next to me.

"T-thank you." I mumbled.

"Andy told me you tripped? Are you ok?" He asked.

"Yeah, I'm sorry if I caused trouble. I-i saw my best friend and the guy I li-used to like- together. That's why I ran and that's why I fell." I whispered.

I glanced up and could barely see him through the haze of tears as they blurred my vision. I just about registered his hand touching my cheek, smoothing my hair from my face.

"I'm sorry, Junko." He said, and he did sound contrite. It wasn't his fault though. It was mine.

"S'not your fault. I'm sad that she kept it from me." I replied.

He removed his hand and I felt empty all of a sudden. I'd never felt so pathetic than I did tonight. Maybe Chris had realised I was a weak human. For some reason my mind went to the snowglobe in my bag and I opened the front of it.

I practically closed my eyes and thrusted the snowglobe in his face.

"This is for you. If you hate then it doesn't matter. I'll take it back and, and, um." I didn't even take a breath.

I felt Chris take the snowglobe and I lifted my head, peeking at him from beneath my fringe. He turned it over in his hand and then looked at me again. He smiled and my face heated up.

"Thank you for thinking of me," He said. "I really liked talking to you last night."

"Y-you did? Seriously?" I replied, eyes widening.

"Did I give the impression that I didn't, Junko?" Chris said, and I guessed he hadn't. Not in so many words.

"N-no, I was happy you spoke to me." I whispered, toying with my dress.

Our eyes met for a brief moment and he leaned down, grasping my chin, forcing me to look at him. Someone cleared their throat. I peeked round to see Tris in the doorway. She was smiling widely.

Chris pulled back and left, saying something to her, then leaving. Tris watched him then her eyes flicked to me. Her grin was getting wider and wider.

"What was that?" She asked, giggling.

"N-nothing. We were talking." I stated.

She shook her head, "Nope, I don't think so. That was almost a kiss."

I had never been so close to Chris. I could see the crimson flecks in his eyes and could still smell him. A flush rose to my cheeks and Tris laughed again.

"Ok, maybe it was almost a kiss." I said, smiling.

"Yeah it was," She grinned, then her face became serious. "I want it to be. He needs someone that's like you. He's been alone for so long that I was honestly getting worried."

"But I'm human." I whispered, and Tris smiled again.

"Sometimes we need to be with someone different." She replied, and walked over, checking my ice pack.

I glanced at the door and smiled. My face hurt a little. I guessed it was all the crying I'd done. I didn't really feel like crying now.

 

Chapter Text

I found myself back in my dorm room on Sunday night. My ankle was still throbbing a little. Tris had removed the ice pack and smothered it in some kind of balm that stung, but seemed to resolve the swelling. Slumping into my chair, I sighed.

Closing my eyes, I could picture Collette and Hunter. I scrunched up my face and fought to ignore the stab of pain in my chest. I picked up my bag and pulled out my phone. Typical. Collette had phoned me about ten times and messaged me. It was my turn to do the avoiding. Or so I thought because someone knocked my door.

"Junko, it's me. I know you're there," Collette sniffled. "Please talk to me."

I huffed and stood. I opened the door a crack and her tear streaked face greeted me. She looked upset and guilty. So she should. I couldn't bring myself to hate her though. I invited her in and she ghosted past me.

For the first few minutes, we sat in silence. Me, in the chair and her perched on the edge of my bed.

"I'm sorry." She murmured.

"H-how long were you with him?" I asked, ignoring her.

"It's been a couple of months." She replied.

"And Victoria?" I couldn't believe I sympathised with Victoria, but I did.

"She found out the other day." Collette confirmed.

So, when I'd seen Victoria fuming the other morning, she'd evidently discovered Hunter's betrayal. It also explained why Hunter looked so down the other day too.

"Junko, I'm sorry. I asked Liam and he said-"

"So, everyone knew. Everyone but me." I cut her off.

Wow, that stung quite badly. So, I was the last to know. Hunter knew because he was the cheat, Liam knew and Victoria obviously found out the hard way. I wondered if her pain was equal to or more than mine. Like some weird math equation.

"I wanted to tell you." She shrieked, hysteria taking over.

"Why didn't you then?" I snapped, growing flustered.

"Hunter wanted to spare your feelings." She sobbed.

"Wow, thanks. I suppose I should be grateful." I replied, eyes stinging.

Hunter had obviously known I'd liked him. I mean I'd made it obvious the times I'd been around him. I just hadn't out right told him.

"Plus you were with that other guy." Collette snapped, like she thought it excused her behaviour.

"He's a friend. I would have told you if he'd been something more," I whispered. "I would of come to you for advice."

Her face paled and she seemed to realise the implication behind my words. I would have trusted her, but she couldn't return the sentiments.

"So, you still like Hunter?" She said, eyes becoming steely.

"No." I murmured.

Her face relaxed, like she thought I was no longer competition. I wasn't even in with a chance in the first place. The silence stretched on and I shifted in my chair.

"You should go." I said, and she looked torn, but rose to her feet.

There was no fight. She left and I didn't bother to do anything. I didn't stop her and I continued to stare at the carpet. Finally, after fighting it, my eyes started to water. The tears that came were like an out pouring.

Crying helped. I cried because of Collette's betryal. I cried because I had finally gotten over Hunter, but it still burned. Once my sobs had subsided I rubbed my sore eyes. I glanced to the bracelet on my arm and thought of the one person that I was falling for. Should I contact him? No, I didn't want to be seen like this.

 

*************************

 

College was a big no-no the next morning. I actually phoned in. Something I hadn't done since my first week here when I'd ended up with food poisoning after a celebratory meal with my Aunt.

I woke at around eleven and decided to type some of my reports up. It gave me something to focus on. After an hour of typing, someone knocked my door. I guessed it was Collette coming to see why I wasn't at lunch.

"Go away, Collette." I called.

"Not Collette, but if you insist." Keith's voice came from the other side.

I moved quickly and opened the door. Keith was on the other side. He smiled when I answered.

"Hungry?" He asked, presenting me with some donuts.

My stomach felt hollow and I shook my head. He frowned and seemed to sense something was off, but said nothing.

"So, can I come in?" He grinned.

"Yeah, I guess so." I moved aside.

The door shut with a click and he sat down on the bed, taking in my room. I sat in my chair and faced him.

"Just come to update you," He said. "The lights in the forest were fae. Markers have been put around the area so even the most spiritual human can't see them."

"Awesome, that's good." I smiled at last.

"Onto the next mission now. There's a college about an hour away from here that wants to demolish the old building next to it. Been a lot of issues though. Construction work has been abandonned till it gets sorted."

I guessed we'd be heading there next. I nodded and prepared myself for this.

"So, we're going on Saturday?" I asked.

"Yep, we are." He replied.

A sense of not wanting to be alone hit me and I shuffled nervously. I was aware that I was wearing my scruffy jeans and an oversized jumper, but I wanted to be anywhere but here.

C-can I come back with you?" I asked.

"Yeah, I mean, I have a mission to go to, but Tris won't mind you hanging out." Keith replied.

Leaving the human world behind was like escaping my problems. Keith said goodbye and I was left in the foyer. Tris was nowhere in sight. Was it a bad idea to do what I was doing? It was the worst idea. I walked down the hallway and up a flight of stairs.

When I got to Chris's office I debated on whether or not I should leave. I raised my hand to knock and the door opened. A guy with dark hair and a beard stood in front of me. His eyes were brown too, but lacked warmth. He stared at me like I was a speck of grit.

"I-i'm here to see Chris." I murmured.

"And what business would a human have with a legion leader?" The guy snapped.

What to say? I opened my mouth and felt the burn in my cheeks. This guy was my reality check. Why was I here again? I wasn't good enough for Chris. This guy knew it. In fact the whole world probably knew it.

"How'd you get here, anyways?" The guy demanded, tone brisk.

"Junko?" Chris appeared behind the guy, approaching me.

The bearded guy turned his attention to Chris, eyes demanding an explanation. I nodded and looked at Chris. His lips tilted slightly, but he became stern when faced with beard-guy's glare.

"Miss Misaki works for me." He said, and Beard-Guy looked shocked for a whole second, before looking agitated.

"I see. And what does she do?" Beard-guy asked.

"She is what Evangeline is to you, Eric." Chris sounded angry, but he hid it quite well.

Beard-Guy, or Eric, nodded and seemed to accept this. He still regarded me with distaste, but there was a look in those eyes that made me incredibly scared. Eric walked away, glancing back at me every so often.

"Who is Evangeline?" I asked. First stupid question of the day.

"It doesn't matter," He replied, still sounding like he wanted to murder someone. I backed away and he seemed to sense I was uneasy. "Why don't you come in."

It wasn't a request. I trailed after him. He was in his suit again. I smiled when I saw the snowglobe on the desk. I also recalled the almost-kiss. Chris sat down on the couch and motioned for me to join him. I hesitated, not wanting to seem too forward. Just because we'd shared a moment didn't mean we were suddenly a couple. I sat down, making sure I was far enough away.

"You look poorly." Chris stated. Wow, blunt.

"Y-yeah, Collette and I spoke." I replied.

"And she's sorry?" He asked.

"Not really. I think we're in a fight," I murmured. "Kinda like a couple of children, really."

I did register that my problems were childish. I was so young and nothing more than a kid to Chris. I kept my eyes lowered onto my hands. They were trembling.

"We should discuss what happened last night." His tone changed, and I winced.

Here it comes. The second rejection in as many hours. Hunter's was less direct, but at least this time I get to feel the full brunt of it. If I could have lowered my head more then I would have. My eyes stung again and humiliation welled up inside my small body.

The couch shifted and I felt his cold hand grip my chin. Stubbornly, I refused to raise my head. If I couldn't see it then I could pretend and salvage some feelings at least.

"You're not going to look at me." He said, and I heard the amusement.

I allowed my face to be lifted. We were inches apart and I could see the crimson in his eyes. I could see the way the light glinted off his lip piercings.

"This time we won't be interrupted." He murmured.

I didn't have much chance to register the meaning in those words because his lips were on mine, claiming me. The humiliation was pushed aside as a wave of confusion swept over me. Chris seemed to sense that I wasn't responding. I was so nervous. The tremble in my hands had travelled up my arms.

The hand that had been gripping my chin grasped one of my hands and lifted it to drape around his shoulders. My other hand followed suit and I finally snapped out of my daze to respond tentatively. The kiss deepened and I pressed my hands against his chest when I felt his tongue brush my lower lip. I pushed and we came apart.

My eyes were wide and he chuckled, leaning forward and kissing my again, softly this time, pulling apart to press our foreheads together.

"W-what was that?" I panicked then.

Where was the rejection? It hadn't happened and it left me reeling. I demanded an explanation and yet I don't think my mind could processed one.

"We kissed." Chris said, like we were discussing the weather.

Casual. The casualness of it threw me and I pulled back fully. In my world, people would kiss casually all the time. Sometimes, relationships were things that benefited people in one way only. I wasn't completely naive. Was I going to enter into that kind of relationship?

"I-i can't kiss you like that again." I whispered.

"You didn't like it?" Chris said, sounding terse.

I glanced up at him and let out a shaky breath, followed by a few tears. No, not now. Don't cry now, stupid. The couch shifted again and I felt his hand coil into my hair, tilting my face so we could look at each other. His eyes had shifted in emotion and there was concern there. His fingers traced through my hair, massaging my head.

"You want us to be togther." He murmured, and I looked at him finally, nodding. He smiled then.

"I'm crap though." I mumbled.

"No, you're not," He replied, leaning down, brushing our lips together. "You're beautiful."

"No, I look like like a troll." I laughed.

"Junko, take the compliment for once, will you." He chuckled.

This was probably a bad idea. There were a myriad of reasons why this would probably go bad, but I was too thick-headed to think of them.

"We do need to establish some rules though," Chris said. Of course we did. "No one outside of this unit must know and this will progress slowly."

I nodded and met his eyes then.

"So, you're my-" I had no idea.

"I'm not your boyfriend. That's absurd. Lover would be accurate." He replied.

"Lover sounds too formal. Boyfriend, please?" I asked, and he grinned.

"Aren't you a little old to be calling anyone a boyfriend? I thought that was reserved for children." Chris said.

"Well, you're the first person I've called boyfriend." I mumbled.

Someone tapped at the door and I pulled back. Chris kept his hand on mine and Tris entered, smiling when she saw me. If she saw our hands, she said nothing, only grinned wider.

I couldn't help but feel something bad was going to happen, but for now I wanted to live in bliss and pretend everything was all right.

 

 

Chapter Text

"This is the oldest building on the campus." The dean said.

The building in question was a looming structure that towered over the area. Scaffolding was on one side, making it look like some bizarre skeleton. A few of the windows had been smashed and I couldn't see what was inside.

"How old is this place?" Keith asked.

"It was built in sometime before the Victorian era." The dean, Mr Abbott said.

He was a round man with a thinning hairline and he seemed to sweat more than most humans. He'd met us outside the campus early this morning to give us a tour of the old building. He'd seemed like a man of science since he said he had a PHd in Physics, but clearly he'd experienced something.

"And what phenomena has been reported?" Stevie asked.

Ah yes, Stevie. This was our first meeting this Saturday. When Keith had picked me up, she'd been with him. She was small, possibly just a few inches taller than me with long, blonde hair.

"Well, problems began three months ago when construction started. Parts of the building would collapse on their own. The builders claimed that they could see a face staring at them through the window on the first floor. Things would move on their own." He sounded ever more distressed.

"Were there signs the building was haunted before?" Keith asked.

"No, well, apart from the urban legends spread by children." Mr Abbott replied, mopping his brow.

I glanced across the brown grass towards the building. A figure was standing next to the building, cloaked in the shadow the old building allowed. I could see no features aside from a wide brimmed hat.

"Hey, earth to Junko." Keith said, waving a hand in my face.

"Of course there were rumours that the apparition was the teacher that had commit suicide." Mr Abbott was saying to Stevie.

"What about the man with the hat?" I blurted out.

Mr Abbott looked at me as did Stevie. She frowned at my weird statement. Her gaze went to Keith and he shrugged.

M-man with a hat? I haven't heard that one before." Mr Abbott said.

Eventually he departed, handing Keith the keys. We'd be spending the night in a nearby hotel since this place was far too dangerous to actually inhabit.

"A man with a hat?" Stevie appeared next to me.

"Yeah, he was right next to the building, just sorta watching us." I replied, and a chill went down my spine. Creepy even as I said it.

 

******************

 

The other two went to explore whilst I stayed in the entrance hall. Near the far wall was a flight of stairs that led up to the next floor. A door was at the end of the entrance hall that led directly into the place where church would have been held.

I walked over to the window and I could see the new campus buildings. They were modern and beautiful. A far cry from this place. Nothing popped out at me though. I wondered if I had to be directly in front of a ghost to see it. I wasn't a proper medium then.

My eyes went to my wrist. The bracelet glinted in the morning sun. Tris had kept our secret surprisingly well. I had no idea what I was doing. The bracelet lit up and I pressed one of the panels.

"Hello, Junko." Tris said. Someone was a morning person.

"Good morning." I replied.

"Anything so far?" She asked.

"Nope, nothing, well," I paused. Should I mention the weird hat man?

"Sounded like you had something to add." Chris was there.

I blushed and made some kind of unintelligeble noise. It was half way between a whimper and a groan of pain.

"I-i saw a figure. A guy in a hat." I said.

"A guy in a hat," Chris repeated. I heard the low conversation he shared with Tris. "Junko, be careful."

"What? I'm always careful." I laughed, nervously.

"I'm serious. Please be careful. Don't let yourself be alone." He murmured.

I was alone now and noticed that the hair on my arms was raised. The feeling of being watched made me gulp. A hand landed on my shoulder and I yelped.

"Sorry, sorry." Stevie said, waving her hands in front of herself.

"Why were you watching me just now?" I shrieked.

"Watching you? But I wasn't watching you. I just came round the corner just now." She replied.

Fear lanced through me. If Stevie hadn't been behind me then who was? My mind imagined all sorts of awful things. I shook my head to clear the distressing images.

"Stevie." Chris snapped. Her attention shifted to the bracelet. "Do not leave Junko alone."

 

****************

 

Dusk settled quickly and we actually got some back up in the form of my boyfriend. I was quite surprised when he showed up. We sat out front near the car. Chris sat next to me on the hood of the car.

"I didn't see a guy in a hat." Keith said.

"No, but Junko did and that in itself is worrying." Chris replied.

My eyes went to the building then to Chris. He was inches from me, but wasn't touching me. I settled for staring at my hands. Whilst on the job, I was simply an employee.

"What does it want?" Stevie asked.

"I'm not sure," Chris said. "It's getting late. We'll come back tomorrow."

Tonight seemed like a bad idea. If there was something bad in there then if would surely be waiting for us to do something. I thought Chris might go back to the other world, but instead came to the hotel with us.

"I trust you have no objection to sharing a room." He said, when Stevie and Keith had gone.

"S-sharing a r-room?" I said, flustered.

"It seems like a natural thing for a couple." He murmured, grasping my chin.

"Y-yeah." I agreed.

Sharing a room seemed easier than my brain was making it. I sat on the bed, flicking through tv stations in a vague attempt to avoid conversation. This was what couples did.

"Enough." Chris grabbed the remote, turning the tv off.

I smiled and laid down, taking a steadying breath when he pulled me closer.

"So, will you be coming to all the missions now?" I asked.

"Only the ones where shadow agents try and threaten your life." He replied.

"It was a threat." I pulled back abruptly, only for him to yank me closer.

"It could have been. I'm not sure." Chris stated.

I relaxed again and enjoyed the closeness.

"Sorry if I didn't act like we were together earlier. It's important that your safety isn't compromised." He murmured, toying with my hair.

"It's ok. I understand." I replied.

And I did understand. For now I wanted to spend time with Chris like we were normal. My eyes slipped shut and the world slipped away until it was just the two of us.

 

Chapter Text

Going back to the haunted school building was not my ideal way of spending a Sunday. We'd arrived early and I couldn't see anything that looked like what I'd seen yesterday. It did feel like something was wrong with the building though.

"It feels strong." Keith said, standing next to me.

"How strong? Like so strong you can't take it?" I asked.

"It might be. Good thing Chris is here." Keith replied.

I glanced at Chris. He was with Stevie. It turned out she could sense things too, but had been unable to see the figure with the hat. Chris looked towards us and smiled. It was a faint smile. One meant for me. I hurriedly looked away. We'd already had an eventful morning. By eventful, I meant that I hid in the bathroom to dress and hid under the covers when he changed his clothes.

My tiny brain wasn't ready to process what was under the clothes. He was covered in tattoos though, spanning his arms and disappearing under his black t-shirt. And I certainly wasn't ready for him to see under my clothes. He seemed to realise that though.

"What's the protocol now though?" I asked, turning my attention back to Keith.

"We call in another legion leader," Keith said. He bit his lower lip. "The only one available today is Eric though."

Eric, or Beard-Guy as I had dubbed him, was awful. He was intimidating and rude. I tried to keep my face passive.

"How many legion leaders are there?" I had never really asked before.

"There are five. Chris is the youngest. Lemmy is the oldest." Keith replied.

I looked across at Chris again. He was talking to someone using the bracelet on his wrist. His face looked neutral, but I could see the way his eyebrows scrunched together and knew he was angry. He didn't give many emotions away, but this was one of them. He must have been talking to Eric.

We didn't have long to wait after the conversation. Eric arrived accompanied by a girl. She looked like a doll. So perfect and beautiful. Her hair was silver, not grey, but silver. Her eyes were bright blue and crystalline. My eyes went to her neck and noticed she was wearing a collar.

Bile rose in my throat. So, this was Evangeline. It had to be. Her gaze went to me and she must have guessed I was human because her eyes widened a fraction.

"Let's get this over with," Eric snapped. He shoved Evangeline towards me. "Evangeline, stay here and talk to this one."

I glanced at Chris. His face gave nothing away, but his eyes were furious. I slid a little closer to Evangeline. She didn't move, just like a doll. Keith and Stevie followed them towards the building. I was left with Evangline.

"You're human?" I asked, but knew the answer.

"Yes, and so are you." She said, with a voice like an angel.

My eyes went to the collar again and I could see faint marks under it. My eyes burned and I faced forward.

"Is Chris kind to you?" She asked, and I glanced to her. "You don't wear a collar."

"H-he is. Why do you wear that?" I whispered.

"Because I am a slave. I am property." She replied, so casual and collected.

My lower lip trembled. Would I become her? Was this my destiny too? The urge to vomit rose in my throat. The world was closing in on me and I felt like I was going to pass out.

A loud crashing noise interrupted my freak out. A figure flew from the building. It looked like a man with blue tinged skin. A noose was tightened around it's throat. It lunged at Evangeline. Thinking fast, I pushed her away. Before I could move a scythe cut the thing in half. Blood flew everywhere. At least, it looked like blood.

My eyes lifted to see Chris. He was holding the scythe. His eyes, normally brown were pure black. I was frozen in the face of something nightmarish. The scythe disappated and he walked towards me. I didn't back away for some reason.

"Are you afraid?" He asked.

"No, I'm not afraid." I replied.

The silence stretched on. Chris blinked and his eyes returned to normal. I heard footsteps and we both looked round. Keith and Stevie had appeared, looking happy. They high-fived. Eric appeared too, eyes still black. He walked to Evangeline and grabbed her arm.

"Get up, you ridiculous girl." He snarled.

Evangeline whimpered, but stood. Her eyes were closed. I was happy to have saved her, but not for him to treat her like garbage.

"S-stop it." I snapped, covering my mouth when I realised my mistake.

Eric removed his hand from Evangeline and glanced at me. He strolled towards me and I lowered my head.

"What the fuck did you say?" He hissed.

"That's enough, Eric." Chris had stepped in front of me.

"It'll be enough when I find out what your little whore said." Eric said, voice like thunder.

With a glare levelled at me, Eric marched away, grabbing Evangeline by the arm and disappearing with her. I took a shuddering breath and kept my face down. My eyes shifted to Keith and Stevie. They looked bewildered.

The moment was over and I followed as we drove the car back to the warehouses. The drive was silent and I felt stupid and humiliated. We sent the stuff back. I wanted to sneak away, but Chris held my hand.

He waited till Keith and Stevie had gone before actually talking to me. I lowered my face again.

"Are you ok?" He asked, and I nodded.

"What is Evangeline?" I answered with a question of my own.

"A human like you. Except she sold her soul." Chris replied.

"Sold her soul?" I repeated.

I had read fantasy books where humans sold their souls. I had seen The Simpsons episode where Homer sold his soul for a donut. I guessed why people would do it, but how did Evangeline come to end up with Eric.

"Eric was the one she sold her soul to. It is said that Evangeline wanted her loved one to come back from a war so she sold her soul after he died." Chris said.

"Is it normal for humans to become slaves like that?" I murmured, shuffling nervously.

"It is down to the demon what to do with the human." Chris said. He was watching me now, awaiting my response.

"Have you ever had a slave?" Gah, why'd I ask that.

"Yes." He replied. I glanced at him, finally. He was looking away from me.

"Do I have to sell my soul?" I lowered my face again.

"You don't have to do anything you aren't comfortable with." He had stepped closer, one hand on my hip.

I didn't like how Eric treated Evangline, but I could see why Chris had lied the other day, saying I was like Evangeline. Clearly, having a human in this type of relationship was abnormal without the demon owning their soul.

"You always smile at me." I whispered.

"I do. And I hope you always smile at me." He replied, pressing his lips to my hair.

 

************************

 

It sucked to go back to normal life again. I sat with Liam still and would stare at where Collette and Hunter would sit.

"Are you all right?" Liam asked.

His eyes were full of concern. Ghost hunting had been post-poned whilst all the problems were dealt with.

"Yeah, I guess I just feel a little betrayed." I said, rolling a tomato round on my tray.

"I told her to say something when she saw you sitting at the quad that time, but she wanted to act like everything was the same and I told her it wasn't," Liam stated, then he seemed to be thinking. "And it never will be the same."

His boyfriend, Cole agreed, nodding. I didn't bother asking Sara as she and Collette had famously never gotten along and it had been known since they were in high school.

Standing, I made my way to the bin and dumped my salad in and left. Someone tapped my shoulder and I turned to see Victoria. I thought she might try and floor me, but she actually looked guilty.

"Can we chat?" She asked, and I nodded.

We ended up on one of the benches outside the college. Up close, I was alarmed at how normal Victoria looked. Her bleached hair was tied back and she was wearing an off the shoulder jumper.

"I guess you kinda hate me and I don't blame you." She said, gauging my reaction.

"I don't hate you." I replied, and she smiled, weakly.

"I was only mean because I heard you liked Hunter back when we were together. Call it insecurity." She continued.

"I did like him, but never would have done anything." I said, and she nodded.

"You had no idea she was with him?" Victoria asked, with no malice, just curiosity.

"Nope. I was the last to know." I said, tone slightly bitter.

Victoria's small frame untensed and she sighed, staring at the campus. I glanced at her. She looked tired and I still couldn't help but feel for her.

"I can only apologise to you." She murmured.

"You don't have to. I'm sorry for what happened." I replied, and she smiled again.

"Thank you," She held out a hand. "Friends?"

Wow, that was unexpected. I accepted and she looked relieved, like she thought I might just turn her down and leave her sitting here.

The sky darkened and the first few drops of rain fell. The two of us rushed towards the dorm and walked in together. I left Victoria and went to my room, watching the rain as it ghosted down the glass.

 

Chapter Text

 

I actively avoided most people over the course of the week. October was in full swing and all around the campus people were readying themselves for Halloween. Pumpkin streamers were hung from the stairs of dorms. Victoria put some carved pumpkins out front of ours along with a black cat, hackles rasied and eyes red.

My entire life felt like Halloween. Since the other night I'd not seen the shadow with the hat and I had ruled it as a freak mistake. Like the ghost of the old building had been trying to scare me. I bought a paper and discovered they'd knocked the old building down and were starting renovations.

"I never noticed how alone you are." Victoria said.

She'd appeared behind me, hand flat against the wall. Dark bags were under her eyes, but she'd tried to hide them. She was alone too though. Ever since she and Hunter had broken up, she'd avoided her friends.

"You too." I murmured.

"My 'friends'," She said, sarcastically. "Are friends with Hunter. Michaela is Hunter's best friend's girlfriend."

I'd actually found out a lot about Victoria recently. She'd taken to coming to my room and chatting with me. Hunter had been her first boyfriend and she had been so insecure, constantly questioning whether she was good enough. In a lot of ways we were similar.

In not so many words I'd discussed Chris with her and she'd listened. I couldn't believe I was asking her advice instead of Collette. I'd glossed over many details though, like how my boyfriend was a demon. That might scare her.

"So, are you seeing your boyfriend tonight?" She asked, casually.

"I dunno." I replied, and she sighed.

"You so should. Spend time together, get to know each other, communicate." She murmured, glancing away.

"Will you be ok?" I asked, and she smiled.

"Yeah, Andrea and I are gonna have a film marathon. You go and have fun."

When I got to my room, I lifted the arm with the bracelet on. I had never travelled alone. I had been tinkering with it and I think I'd figured out how it worked. I still hated the sensation as I was removed from my world.

Instead I found myself face-planting the ground. Well, that was smart. I groaned in pain and tried to force my small body to move.

"Woah, there. You ok, kid?" A voice above me.

I rolled over. I had mis-timed it and was outside. The sky above my head was purple. A face appeared in my line of sight. A man. His eyes were brown and slightly hooded, face partially obscured by a cowboy hat.

"What happened?" I mumbled.

"Looks like you miscalculated where you were gonna end up. Fuckin' transport bracelets," He fumed, then held up a hand. "How many fingers am I holdin' up?"

"Three." I replied.

"A thumb don't count." He chuckled, but held out a hand.

His hand was freezing, like a block of granite. He must have realised that my hand was warm and I had a pulse.

"Thank you. Where am I, sir?" I asked.

"Sir?" He snorted a laugh. "You're in the Netherworldlian grounds for the legions. I am no 'sir'"

So, I'd ended up near where I'd needed to be, but which huge building was it. I'd never been outside. I could ask this total stranger.

"Do you know which building Chris is in?" I asked.

The guy snapped his fingers, "You're the little human he's with, ain't ya."

How did this guy know? No one should know. Had I been careless. Chris would be furious. I must have looked frightened because the guy let out a hearty laugh.

"Beatrice told me. She tells me everything," He chuckled. "My name is Lemmy."

Lemmy? The oldest legion leader. He didn't look old. He looked about late fifties. I didn't want to be rude and ask though.

"You're the oldest legion leader." I stated.

"That's me. I'll bet you're wonderin' how old I am." He said, clearly awaiting my guess.

"Well I have no idea how old Chris is, so.." I trailed off, and he frowned.

"He's the youngest at 850 years," Lemmy replied, and I nearly choked on my own spit. "I'm 1700, well 1789, but I like to lie and be younger."

Yeah, wouldn't want you feeling that old now, would we. I managed a feeble smile and Lemmy grinned.

"Anyways, I'll take you to your boy, then I can cadge a drink off him." Lemmy said.

I followed as he walked. He insisted I walk by his side, telling me I wasn't a slave or a scullery maid. He led me down a winding path and through the entrance of one of the buildings. I guessed we were in the right one. I knew we were when he led me up the flight of stairs and down the hallway. He knocked the door with such force I thought it might splinter.

And then he just opened it without permission, like a parent entering a child's room. Chris was sitting at the desk. He was wearing a suit as usual and looked elegant as always.

"Found your girl face-down outside." Lemmy said, rather loudly.

Chris noticed me and I managed a small wave. He got up and walked towards me. We stood side by side but made no move to embrace. Lemmy watched us, growing fidgety.

"Tris told me." He said, plainly.

Chris was watching Lemmy and was obviously deciding whether to trust him. Eventually he laid a hand on my shoulder.

"Sorry, I kinda don't know how to use the bracelet properly." I murmured.

"So much so that you ended up hurting yourself." Chris smirked.

"I'm fine. See, no bruises." I showed my pale arms.

Lemmy was tinkering with some bottles across the way. He turned, raising a glass and disppearing out the door, closing it quietly.

"What made you come here?" Chris asked, seating himself on the couch.

I sat next to him and shrugged, blushing when he quirked a brow at me. Communication wasn't my strong point.

"I missed you." I smiled.

"Again, I missed you and your stammering too." He replied, chuckling.

"Think you're so smart with your sarcasm and wit, don't you." I shot back.

"I suppose I am." He leaned forward, and I backed up.

"Supposed to be going slow, fam." I said, nervously.

"I'm going very slowly with you. More slowly than I'd like, given how much I want you." He smirked again, something feral within those eyes.

"Haha, you're so funny." I said.

"I wasn't aware I was joking."

Quick, change the subject before he devours me. I did wonder what they did for fun around here. It was a world I knew very little about.

"So, what is there to do around here, besides hunt ghosts?" I asked.

"We have television," Chris stated, and laughed when I pulled a face. "What? You think that humans are more advanced.

"I want to see the television." I said.

Walking down the hallways and up several flights of stairs, we entered a room. It was quite grand and painted a deep crimson. Wow, fancy.

"This is amazing. What room is this?" Probably shouldn't ask that.

"This is my room." Chris replied, and I vaguely registered the door closing.

Yep, I was totally safe. My boyfriend wasn't about to eat me. So, this was where he came when he wasn't doing whatever bosses do. The bed was massive. Opposite the bed was a large, flat screen tv. Really?

Chris sat on the bed and glanced at me. I walked over and sat next to him. His arm automatically wrapped round my shoulders, pulling me close. My tummy flipped and I took a steadying breath. He was holding a complicated looking remote.

"So, that's the tv remote?" I stated.

"It is. These can connect to any station in the universe."

Wow, now I realised how vast this was. Any station? Anywhere.

"Japan?"

"I did just say anywhere, did I not, Junko," He glanced at me, eyes locked with my own, face inches from mine. "Maybe I should punish you for not listening."

"N-nope, all stations. I-i'm totally great." I stammered, and he chuckled.

His attention shifted from me and he pressed some of the buttons and an anime appeared on screen in Japanese. He was watching it with interest.

"Do you know what they're saying?" I asked, wondering if he understood.

"Demon languages are universal so I do understand them." He responded.

I was stunned for a moment. I blinked stupidly for a minute before recovering. I was quite curious about him now. What new information could I unearth about Chris?

"You're going to start badgering me with questions, aren't you, Junko?" He said, shifting so his dark eyes were locked with my own again.

"W-well, if that's ok," I murmured, blushing. He shrugged. "You're 850."

"Correct, just under actually."

"Y-you said the other day you'd had a slave too."

I waited for the shut down. For him to end the conversation, but he didn't. Those same dark eyes that looked at me with many emotions, flickered for a second.

"I did. Past tense. She ended her own existence."

I was stunned into silence. She'd killed herself? Why? I didn't want to belive it was something she'd done because of Chris, so I didn't.

"How come?" I asked.

"Someone violated her and she chose to cut the contract with me. It meant that she would die, but ultimately it was her decision." He replied, looking away.

I didn't press for anymore details. It was obvious he'd loved this girl. A part of me felt intensely sad for him and for her. Another part was a little jealous that she'd been here first and knew him before I did. I looked away to avoid his eyes. I didn't want to be seen as a brat.

"S-sorry I shouldn't have-" I felt my voice catch in my throat.

The tv was forgetten as I felt the bed shift and he sat in front of me, legs crossed, knees touching mine. One hand lifting my face to look at him. The faintest of smiles on his lips.

"You need to know about me. Just like I want to know about you." He replied, brushing my hair behind my ear.

"What would you like to know?" I asked, biting my lip.

"Anything. Everything." He smiled.

"Well, I'd be happy to share." I said, hesitating when I lifted my hand.

My fingers trembled slightly. I set my hand down again and shifted. That night I stayed with him. We talked about all sorts of things. I asked questions. I talked about my parents. When I checked my phone I realised it was three thirty in the morning.

 

Chapter Text

 

Halloween was upon us and on the Wednesday before, my lectures for the next two days were cancelled. Turned out that Janice, our lecturer had come down with severe gastro-enteritis. Good news for students. Bad news for Janice. I was content to ignore everyone and finish an essay.

On Thursday, I wanted to venture to the cafe and grab some coffee, but decided not to when I spied Collette with Hunter. I couldn't avoid them forever so I did go out. Bad decision. I had gotten to the cafe and ordered my drink when someone tapped on my shoulder.

I turned round and was face-to-face with Hunter. I shuffled nervously. How bad would this go? Where was Collette?

"We need to talk." He said, and I thought about running.

I nodded and followed him to a booth. I sat opposite him and tried not to look at him. My eyes did glance at him as he typed something on his phone. His eyes were hazel. A month or so ago I would have savoured that information and dreamed of looking into them. Now I felt nothing. Not a twinge of the crush I'd had before. I barely noticed that Hunter had stopped typing and was looking at me.

"Collette told me that you'd both fallen out." He stated, very matter-of-factly.

"Y-yes, we did." I replied.

"Look, I get it. You like me and you're jealous," He said, and I felt my face literally pale. "But it's not Collette's fault."

Was he seriously saying this? He'd cheated on his girlfriend. Then he and Collette had kept it from everyone, only allowing Liam to find out, but not to tell a soul. I narrowed my eyes. Had I seriously liked Hunter? It struck me that I barely knew him all this time. Had he always been so conceited?

"Actually, I don't like you anymore," I said, not really looking at him. "Collette betrayed me by not confiding in me and you hurt Victoria."

"Yeah right. I always saw you looking at me like a love-sick idiot," He snapped. "And Victoria's not innocent."

I could well believe Victoria wasn't innocent, but did she deserve what he'd done? No way, she didn't. He was just trying to justify it to himself.

"You're not the person I thought you were. I also have a boyfriend." I replied, glancing away.

"A boyfriend? You?" Hunter scoffed.

Turning my gaze back to him, I parted my lips to speak, but no words would come out. Was I seriously going to allow him to speak to me like that? I guessed I was and I slumped a little.

"You know what, I suggest you stay away from Collette and from me," Hunter continued. "Stalker."

I winced at his tone. I had never stalked him. Never tried to over-step my boundaries. I wouldn't have dared. I looked at the table and my eyes burned. A hand landed on my shoulder and I jumped. I looked to Hunter and his face had paled considerably.

"And I suggest you apologise." Chris, my eyes lifted and I saw him next to me.

His dark eyes were locked on Hunter. He was wearing casual clothes again, looking human. How did he find me? Hunter must have put the puzzle pieces together and stood up, maybe intending to continue the fight, but backing up when he saw that Chris was taller. Instead, he backed up and turned, briskly walking away.

"Pathetic," Chris murmured, sitting opposite me. "Your friend, Victoria told me you were here."

"O-oh, right. Sorry about that." I whispered.

"Don't apologise when it's not your fault." Chris smiled, reaching towards me, tucking some hair behind my ear.

"Well, I am sorry you had to see that." I replied, looking into his eyes briefly.

"Was he the one that cheated on Victoria?" He asked.

I nodded, "He didn't believe you were my boyfriend. Sometimes, I can't believe it either."

"I wish you wouldn't call me your boyfriend. It sounds like we're both teenagers." Chris chuckled.

"Well, you could do with losing a few hundred years, like just shave them away." I laughed.

"Thanks for making me sound old. It really endears me to you, Junko." Chris replied, raising a brow at me.

Yeah, well he made me sound like a teenager when I was twenty-one. I was a fully grown adult. And he was an 800-something demon.

"Whoever does your surgery does it so well." I blurted out. Yeah, that was dumb.

I found my self running out the shop. He gave chase and managed to catch me, grabbing me round the waist and spinning me slightly till we both laughed. The bracelet on his arm beeped and we both stopped. Chris let go and pressed one of the panels.

"Sorry, just me." Tris' voice said.

"Hey Tris." Chris said, grabbing me before I could sneak off.

I shrieked and heard Tris laugh a little. I stopped and listened as she spoke. Something about a new mission tomorrow. At St. Catherine's Institute. I knew that place. It was the private school on the edge of town.

"Junko, you should go." Tris said.

"Yeah, sure let me just ask the old ball and chain." I joked, shrieking again when Chris tickled my side.

"Send me the details and I'll review it," Chris said, narrowing his eyes at me when I pouted. "And then I'll decide if it's safe for Junko."

"Will do." Tris replied.

 

**************************

 

Turned out the job was relatively safe for me. I got a taxi to St.Catherine's the following morning. I gasped when the taxi rounded the corner. The school was massive and the spire pierced the clouds. It looked more church than school. It was a strange mixture of modern and ancient. The two blended in a way that made it uncanny.

I paid the driver and he smiled, wishing me luck. Turned out the school was famous for being strict. I climbed out, dragging my suitcase with me. As I approached I noticed a familiar figure waiting for me.

"Keith?" I smiled, and he looked over, grinning.

Keith was not alone though. There was a girl and another guy. The girl wasn't Stevie. This girl was a few inches taller than me. Her hair was red and in the morning sun, orange flecks danced across it. The guy was taller than Keith, maybe not as tall as Chris. His eyes were brown though and his hair was curly and jet black. He looked almost elven.

"Junko, let me introduce you to Hayley," Keith pointed to the girl and she waved. "And Michael."

Michael raised a hand and smiled. Two more members of Chris' team. Hayley seemed a little more open and rushed over, linking her arm with mine.

"Pleased to meet you." She grinned.

We all looked round when we heard heels clacking on the ground. A woman and a man were approaching. The woman was plump and smiling. The man was tall and scowling.

"Welcome, welcome to St. Catherine's Institute," The woman gushed. "I am Helen Carr, the principal. And this is Mr. Johnson, vice principal."

Keith approached and held out a hand. Helen seemed agreeable and even excited. She clearly didn't suit a school this fancy. She shook each of her hands vigorously. Mr. Johnson, however, did not. He continued to look displeased.

"Please follow me." Helen smiled.

We all walked behind her whilst she gave a brief history of the school and its founders. I noticed that Keith had bought equipment, like ghost hunting stuff. We were pretending to be paranormal investigators. How ironic.

Helen welcomed us to her office and motioned for us to take a seat on the sofa. I perched next to Hayley and waited. Mr. Johnson also came in and floated by the door, like some creepy, scowling shadow.

"I suppose I should give you a run down of everything thus far," Helen said, clapping her palms together. "Your boss spoke to me and I relayed information to him. What do you all know?"

"We know you've had some issues with mysterious events around the school." Hayley said.

"That's correct. The events are as follows."

And the list began. Helen filled us in on when it first began. It all happened when a fire started in one of the empty classrooms, then students began seeing things lurking in the hallways. More fires were started, some minor and some that caused injury to people.

"Can you think of anything that may have triggered the events?" Keith asked.

"W-well, actually," Helen sounded nervous.

She rushed to her drawer and fiddled around. I leaned forward, watching her. She walked back, holding a crumpled piece of paper in her hands. My eyes scanned over it. There were symbols on the paper and I frowned.

"A Ouija board?" Michael murmured, his voice was soft.

I glanced at it again and noticed it's layout was indeed like a Ouija board. How could this contribute to what had been happening though?

"A student by the name of Daniel started the trend and students all round the school have been playing it. We've tried to stamp it out, but it's been difficult." Helen said, scrunching the paper up.

"Would it be possible to have a talk with Daniel?" Keith asked, and Helen looked stricken.

"That would be impossible. Daniel Sloan killed himself last week."

I think everyone, except Helen and Mr. Johnson, gasped. He was dead. This boy who had started this whole thing. I glanced at Mr. Johnson to see him simmering in the corner.

"And what do you expect these people to do, Helen?" Mr. Johnson finally snapped.

We all looked at him. He was staring us all down, eyes wild. Helen looked away and sighed. She was clearly at her wits end and this wasn't helping.

"We will get to the bottom of this." Hayley smiled, hoping to lighten the mood.

"I doubt that. And what if another student dies. Have you considered that, Helen? Or are you so caught up in the fun of a ghost hunt?" Mr. Johnson sneered.

"This is hardly fun, Mr. Johnson. My students are in danger and I intend to get to the bottom of it." Helen said, squaring her shoulders.

She sounded way more stern, like the principal she was meant to be. Mr. Johnson sensed this and scowled, turning and leaving. The door slammed and I flinched at the sharp sound.

"Please forgive him. He's worried." Helen said, managing a nervous smile.

"It's fine," Keith replied, waving her off. "We'll go get the equipment."

It was a Friday so classes were still in session. Students were clearly interested and I caught some of them watching us as they passed to and from lessons. We'd get a chance to speak to them soon though as they had classes right up till Saturday. Seemed kinda cruel, having only one day off.

We set up base in an unused classroom. The equipment was all new and shiny. Nothing like the camcorders and cheap EMF meters that Liam had. This was a real ghost hunt. With demons. We'd start interviews tomorrow morning.

 

Chapter Text

 

My neck clicked slightly as I woke up. I'd spent the night asleep in a car. It was a pretty weird way to wake up. Hayley was next to me, eyes still closed. Rain lashed against the windows and I sighed.

"Sleep well?" Keith said.

He was sitting, knees on the car seat, leaning forward. He looked happy. I didn't know whether demons required sleep. I was guessing they did. We had been invited to use the school's facilities.

This meant having breakfast. I opted for eating in the base room. Being around the students made me nervous, but then being in this school made me nervous. I kept seeing things out of the corner of my eye. I thought I saw a gnarled, smirking face staring at me whilst in the canteen line.

I only felt safe in the base room. Breakfast was porridge. The students here were lucky in some ways. They could come in, have breakfast and start their classes. Saturday lessons lasted till one and then the interviews would begin. Keith and Hayley were going to interview all the students affiliated with Daniel.

Michael and I were to speak to the students that had had paranormal experiences. The activity seemed to affect only those that had played with the Ouija boards.

Time seemed to drag and I filled the hours, finishing my essay on my lap top, whilst the others explored the school. When it got to one, the bells rang and the madness started. Michael arrived back and sat with me. I noticed he was very quiet and wondered if that was shyness. Maybe we had stuff in common.

The first student walked in. She was a young girl, about sixteen. She glanced at me and smiled, seating herself opposite us. Her story was about discovering the fire in the empty classroom. She stated, with a totally straight face, that the fire had resembled a face. She still had nightmares.

We interviewed more students. One after the other including some that were friends of Daniel, whilst Keith and Hayley took a break.

The final student was a boy. He looked almost feral. He sat down and stared me down. He was creepy.

"N-name?" I asked.

"Chad Smith." He replied.

"And to what degree have the events at this school affected you?" I continued. He was staring at me like a snake.

"Daniel and I created the game." He grinned then.

"Bit of a stupid thing to do." Michael cut in, all shyness gone.

I doubted there was shyness. His dark eyes were narrowed in a glare. Gulping, I looked back to Chad.

"Not really. Daniel and I wanted to curse this entire school. Burn it to the ground." Chad said, snapping his gaze back to me.

He was serious. Legitimately, serious. He and Daniel had actually thought that this was a good idea. My mouth opened and I stared at the boy in front of me. He seemed so calm about the whole thing. His gaze went to me again.

"And what do you think you can do?" Chad smirked, leaning forward.

His hand shot out to touch my face, but Michael was quicker and caught his knuckle in a vice-like grip. Chad seemed surprised by that, eyes widening slightly at the speed. I glanced at Michael.

"You should leave." He said. The pupils of his eyes had dilated so much that the brown was replaced by black. Chad whipped his hand back and stumbled away, turning and leaving.

Michael looked to me and his pupils slowly returned to normal and he managed a smile. My mouth must have been open. Well, that was unexpected.

"Well, that was fun." Michael chuckled.

Fun? Are you kidding me? I glowered at him and his brown eyes dulled slightly, like he was bored. Freaking sadist.

"Yeah, if scarring someone for life could be considered fun." I said.

"Oh good, you agree," He smirked. "Let's go get some food."

I watched him get up, belts clinking slightly as he moved. He paused at the door, turning to look at me, eyes still slightly dull.

"You gonna sit there all day?" He asked.

"N-no." I stammered, standing and walking over.

There were still a few students going to and from clubs. It all seemed so mundane. The canteen was quiet apart from a couple of students and Keith. I sat opposite him and he lifted his head, sighing.

"Any luck?" He asked.

"We met some kid who started the trend with Daniel." Michael replied.

"Why'd he start it?" Hayley had reappeared, holding a tray.

"Something about wanting to see the school burn. The usual edgy teen angst." Michael said, shrugging.

Keith frowned and dug around in his pocket. He pulled out a sheet of paper and I realised it was one of the make-shift Ouija boards. The markings on it were so strange though. He pushed it towards me. I glanced down and realised that it was Hiragana. How'd these students learn about Japanese stuff?

"It's Hiragana. I can understand spoken Japanese, but not written." Keith said.

I looked at the paper and squinted. It seemed like the typical sort of ouija board. My parents had both grown up in a small town outside Tokyo, but I'd grown up in America. I did remember my cousins telling me ghost stories though. One of them about Kokkuri-san.

"It's a Kokkuri-san." I replied.

Hayley stared at me, eyes wide. I guessed I was going to have to explain the rules of the game to them. My cousin's had tried to rope me into playing with them, but I was always too scared.

"It is like a ouija board, but Kokkuri-san is a trickster and will lie." I repeated what my cousins had said.

"Most demons lie. We're not known for being truthful." Michael stated.

"Well, the legend says that if you play this you must say goodbye to Kokkuri-san, spend the money used and dispose of the pen used to write the hiragana." I said, pausing a moment.

"And say someone doesn't do all of that?" Hayley asked.

"My cousin told me that it can unleash a death curse on the recipients." I said, shuddering a little.

Keith's eyes had widened and he seemed to be putting the puzzle together. The fires and all the paranormal events seemed to make sense now. The curse was rebounding onto the students. Chad and Daniel had clearly intended for this to happen.

The sound of screaming interrupted our discussion and I glanced round. I got up when the others did and followed them to the source of the screams. It was a classroom. Keith pushed the door open. The classroom was like a studio, like a drama room.

In the centre of the room was a massive fire. It's flames licked the ceiling. A group of girls were across the way, huddled in the corner, frozen in fear. I looked at the flames and nearly screamed too when I saw the same gnarled features staring at me. Hayley rushed past the flames and started guiding the girls out to safety, pulling me along too.

By this point, the fire alarms had started and we made it outside. There were students gathered on the grass. I looked back at the school. Keith and Michael were still in there. Helen appeared, looking flustered.

"Are you all right?" She asked.

"Yes, miss," One of the girls replied, shivering. "We were rehearsing and the fire started out of nowhere."

It seemed like hours, but was in fact, minutes. Keith and Michael reappeared, unharmed. Relief coursed through me. I don't know why I was so worried. They were immortal. Nothing would harm them.

"Don't look so freaked out. You'll catch flies with your mouth open like that." Michael sighed.

The blare of fire alarms made us all look round. The fire department stormed the building, but by the time they got to the room, the flames had gone. All that remained was a burnt ceiling and floor. Smoke had damaged most of the stuff in the studio. The fire chief seemed at a loss for words.

"This is becoming dangerous." Keith said.

The students were huddled together. Helen was trying to reassure them, but seemed at a loss. I noticed Chad across the way. He looked calm and was smiling. A shiver coursed through my bones. What kind of person had Daniel been?

It started raining again and Helen seemed to compose herself in time to send the students home. She would need to talk to the teachers so she sent us away too. We sat in the car and I glanced at Hayley.

"How do we end the curse?" She asked.

Couldn't demons control the curse? Was there really nothing they could do?

"Can't you attack the spirit?" I asked.

"It's not that simple. We could engage the trickster in combat, but it would come back. It wants equivalent exchange. It answered their questions, but they did not hold their end of the bargain." Michael stated, dragging a hand through his hair.

"What do we give it though?" I whispered. The car felt like it was closing in.

Hayley shook her head. Keith sighed and glanced towards the school through the streaked glass.

"Let's go to a hotel near here and I can contact the boss." He said.

 

*******************

 

The hotel was Hayley's choice. It was a beautiful building. She'd contacted Chris whilst we drove there. I was on edge the whole time. He hadn't really spoken to me in front of people before. I knew I was an employee, but it still stung a little.

We had to run from the car to the hotel due the sheer volume of rain. When we got into the foyer, we were soaked. The weather made me feel glum. I glanced across the way to see a couple holding hands and laughing. My eyes burned temporarily and I followed Hayley when she touched my arm.

"Hey, are you all right?" She asked.

"Yeah, don't worry. I'm fine." I said, faking a smile.

She didn't look convinced though and took my hand. Chris was here and so was Eric. My god, could this day get any worse. Evangeline was here, standing next to Eric. She was wearing a dress and her silver hair was tied back, but my eyes kept flicking to her collar.

"Well, don't you all look pathetic." Eric chuckled.

His gaze landed on me, clearly wondering how Chris and I would interact. He looked smug when Chris didn't speak to me. I tried to keep my features neutral though, like I didn't care.

"It's a death curse. Junko figured it out." Michael snapped, glaring at Eric.

I was alarmed by his sudden defending of me. Michael glanced at me and smiled slightly. I side-ways looked at Chris and he looked away when I did. I lowered my face.

"The students didn't perform the rituals properly. This thing is out for murder." Keith said.

"We can't fight it in the traditional sense." Hayley chimed in, squeezing my hand in hers.

"Figured it all out, did you, human?" Eric sneered.

I shrugged and my gaze went to Evangeline. She was beaming at me, like she thought I was an inspiration. So much of an inspiration that my boyfriend doesn't want to look at me. I didn't bother saying anything.

"Trouble in-" Eric was about to say.

"Tired. I'm just tired, is all." I murmured.

Keith was looking at me now and concern traced over his features. He rubbed the back of his neck.

"I'll get us checked in." Hayley smiled, hugging me.

"K." I said, simply.

I let her drag me away and when we were far enough away, she glanced at me then back to the guys, making sure we were a good distance.

"So spill it. What's wrong?" She asked.

"I can't say." I mumbled.

Her eye brow went up and she seemed to be sussing out that Eric was about to say something. The more she thought about it, realisation dawned on her face. Her gaze softened then and her hand touched my arm.

"You poor, little darling." She murmured.

For some reason, her words snagged something within me and I broke down. She hugged me. We walked hand in hand to the check-in desk. She booked two rooms.

"You go to your room. I have something to do." She reassured me.

I took the key and left, grabbing my suitcase. The elevators in this place were beautiful too. I caught sight of myself in the mirror and saw my own puffy face. I looked young. Far too young to be in a relationship. Maybe that was it. Maybe I was too immature. I was entering a world that was more for adults, but I wasn't fully an adult yet.

Having never been in a relationship, I'd never transitioned the way other girls my age had. The elevator pinged and I walked down the hallway. I slid the card key through the slot and opened the door. Wow.

The bed was kingsize and looked so soft. Next to it were two plush-looking chairs. A flat screen tv was on the wall opposite the bed. What drew my gaze was the window though. The curtains were open and I could see the view of the city. Lights flickered as the rain gave way to a clear evening.

I abandonned my suitcase and sat in one of the chairs, pulling it closer so I could see the view better. All this room for me. It suddenly felt cavernous. I was still in wet clothes so I tore myself from the view and dug around in my case. I'd packed a pair of my favourite PJs, then regretted it when I looked at them.

They were my cat ones. A pair of shorts and a top. The top had a hood. I got undressed and put the PJs on, pulling the hood up and looking at myself in the wall mirror. Wow, cat ears. Very mature. So grown-up. Someone tapped at the door and I glanced round. Hayley?

I didn't bother to lower the hood. She'd probably humour me and say the PJs were cute. I unlocked the door and flung it open, shrieking when I saw Chris. He didn't seem to notice what I was wearing till I let him in.

"You would be wearing that." He sighed, sitting on the bed.

My face heated up. It felt like it was hotter than the sun. Why was he here? I didn't realise we were sharing a room. I lifted my hand to lower the hood. My eyes went to him and I noticed his eyes moving down my small frame, pupils dilating.

"I-i didn't think you'd be sharing with me." I murmured.

"Hayley sent you up here. She stormed over to me not long ago and started yelling at me." He said, flicking his eyes to meet mine.

I kept my face down, clutching my top in a bid to pull it down over my skinny legs. I didn't expect her to start having a go at her boss.

"Y-yeah. She sent me up here and I thought, I guess.." I mumbled, shrugging.

"Thought I wasn't going to spend time with you." Chris said, and I nodded my assent.

"N-no, well, you ignored me. I know I'm just an employee, I get it." I said, blinking rapidly.

"Perhaps, I should stop treating you like one." He murmured.

I ignored him when he beckoned me over. He rolled his eyes and flicked his finger. My body lifted off the ground. Holy crap. I found myself next to him in seconds. The spell, or whatever eased up and I landed on the bed.

"No fair, what was that?" I pouted, growing annoyed.

"Seemed fair to me." He replied, smirking.

Our knees were touching. I shivered at the small contact and toyed with my top's hemline. Chris' fingers grazed my chin and lifted my face so he could look at me. I sniffled and met his gaze.

"I made you cry." He said, swiping his thumb over my cheek.

"N-no," I protested.

"I did. Hayley told me I did, well she shouted, actually," He replied, thumb still caressing my face. "I'm sorry, Junko."

He was apologising to me. I managed to look at him when his eyes lowered a little. He seemed really upset, almost vulnerable. It was amazing that such a simple thing could elicit such a response.

"It's no big deal." I whispered.

It was early days and whilst I trusted him, I was scared that tomorrow morning, we'd wake up and go downsatirs and he'd be back to ignoring me again. Chris seemed to sense my reluctance. His hand ghosted down and toyed with the hem of my top.

"I like these." He murmured.

I think I moved like road runner in that instance, sliding backwards. The hood was still up. Sheesh. I forgot my legs were on display. Sure, I was wearing clothes, but it felt like I was pratically naked.

Those dark eyes pierced my own, sliding, appraisingly down my body. No one had looked at me like that. I wasn't sure whether to freak out or enjoy it. I'd pretty much already freaked out though.

"C-can I have a hug?" I smiled, nervously.

"How can I hug you when you're all the way over there, Junko?" Chris replied, eyes still dark.

Yep, he was definitely going to devour me. I shifted closer and regretted it instantly. His lips claimed mine. I gasped and my eyes slid closed. His lips moved against my own, teasingly. This time when his tongue brushed my lower lip, I parted my lips. The kiss deepened and I sighed. My hands fisted his jacket, clinging on. One of us clearly had more self-control though.

Chris pulled back first. I looked at him. My lips felt slightly swollen and I felt the redness creep up my cheeks.

"We should stop." He said.

I remembered we were meant to be taking things slowly. Would tomorrow be any different? I guessed I'd have to wait and see.

 

Chapter Text

 

Warmth enveloped me and I sighed. I was in bed. My eyes opened and took in the room around me. Nope, this wasn't my bedroom. This was a really nice hotel room. Last night came rushing back in a blur of colours and emotions. My eyes flicked down to the arm draped across my side. I tried to angle my head to see Chris' face.

Instead, I shuffled round to look at him. He'd fallen asleep still wearing his suit. The jacket was left abandonned on the back of one of the chairs. I leaned in, watching his features. My hand reached up to skim across his face. I smiled then remembered something. When I woke up yesterday, Keith had already been awake. Hayley had woken up really quickly too. I gulped.

"You're awake, aren't you?" I whispered.

"Yes I am, Junko." Chris replied, and I saw the faint smile on his lips.

"How long?"

"Most of the night."

Welp, time for breakfast. You know the old saying; something about breakfast being important. I shuffled backwards and he must have noticed. His hand tightened, gripping my hip. My eyes went to his, which were now open and staring at me. That same smirk was etched onto his lips.

"Guess there's no escape." He grinned.

I squirmed and then shrieked when Chris rolled us so I was on top. No, no, this was worse. He was using one hand to keep my wrists behind my back. The other hand shot up and grasped my chin, forcing my eyes to meet his.

"Relax. Untense your shoulders." He murmured, and I did as I was told.

"You're so mean." I grumbled.

"I know." He smiled then.

Right. Normally someone wouldn't be so proud about being a jerk. Chris let go of my chin and used his elbow to prop himself up and soon we were face-to-face.

"No, no kissing. My breath smells so bad." I whined.

He shrugged and leaned in, kissing me gently. My fingers tangled in his hair, feeling how soft it was. Something tapped on the door and I pulled back, eyes going towards it.

"Ignore it." Chris said.

"It might be impo-Ow." I yelped when he bit my neck.

Jeeze, what was that? I turned and pouted at him. The knocking grew a little more insistent.

"I know you guys are awake." Hayley called.

Well, that ruined the mood. I heard her laugh when I groaned. Had she known what we were doing? It seemed like that. How'd she get away with talking to her boss like that? I'm sure if I'd have done that when Chris and I first met I would have been in serious trouble.

"It's cute that you guys 'made up'" I heard her giggle.

My face heated up. Something hit the door and I only just realised that Chris had leaned down and thrown his shoe at the door.

"Going away now." Hayley laughed, and I heard her retreating steps.

"Now I have to go pick that up," Chris sighed. "And I'm too lazy."

I'd never heard him say anything like that before. I guess I was still getting to know him. Being in charge must be difficult and incredibly taxing. I glanced back to him and he smiled at me. I would never get tired of seeing that smile. Did Evangeline feel like that about Eric? Had she felt that way too?

"What's wrong?" Chris asked.

I snapped out of my trance and looked at him. He'd let go of my wrists and was watching me, warily. I toyed with my hair and sighed.

"I just like seeing you smile." I replied.

"And that gets you upset, like my smile is so bad that rainbows die, or something." He chuckled.

"N-no, nothing like that. I just wondered if Evangeline liked Eric's smile."

"Impossible. Eric never smiles." Chris smirked, and I actually laughed.

I guessed I wasn't the only one that disliked Eric. The digital clock on the side was reading nine thirty. Chris must have noticed because he slid me off his lap and went to the bathroom. I stayed on the bed and rested my head on my knees.

Eventually, I got off the bed and dug around in my suitcase for something to wear. I glanced at the bathroom door and hurriedly threw on a pair of jeans and a red cardigan top. I stuffed my PJs back in my bag when the bathroom door opened.

"Let's get this over with." Chris said.

He looked elegant as always. I reached down, grabbing the shoe by the door and handing it to him. He accepted and we shared a smile. I took the chance to go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, comb my wild hair and go toilet.

In the corner of the bathroom was a large, circular tub. Wish I'd noticed that last night. My sore neck longed for a soak in the bath. Seriously, I could still feel my neck clicking. I left the bathroom and followed Chris.

Well, we were heading back to the way things would always be. I'd be the employee. I curled my free hand by my side. Something cold gripped my hand and I realised Chris had took my hand, interlocking our fingers. We got in the elevator and I glanced at him.

"A-are you sure?" I murmured.

"I should have never treated you like you were just an employee." He replied, giving my hand a gentle squeeze.

The elevator dinged open and we walked into the lobby. Hardly anyone was around. Hayley was across the way, chatting to Keith. She saw us and waved, smiling broadly. She whispered something to Keith. They both knew. How many people knew?

"Don't they look cute, Michael?" Hayley grinned.

Michael had reappeared. He glanced at his boss and I, shrugging, but smiling at me again. His eyes said it all. He'd known the whole time.

The elevator opened again and Eric appeared. I watched Evangline trail behind him as she walked. Her face was down and my gut twisted painfully. Eric paused and glanced at Chris and I.

"How precious." He sneered.

My face heated up, but Chris just held my hand tighter and ignored Eric, which served to infuriate him.

 

**********************

 

The school was closed on a Sunday, but Helen had allowed us onto the premises. I did wonder what was going to happen now. How would the curse be removed?

"Bring them through." Hayley spoke into her bracelet.

Roger appeared, holding a couple of bags. He set them down and I leaned in to see what was in them. When Roger left, Keith opened one of the bags and showed me a wooden doll.

"A doll?" I asked.

"Yep, look it's got a name on it." Keith smiled.

It did have a name on it. This was interesting. I glanced at Chris again. Had this been his idea?

"These dolls have the name of every student that took part in the Kokkuri-San incident. The curse will be absorbed by these dolls." Chris explained.

Wow, that was really clever. Keith and Michael took the dolls into the assembly hall and lined them up along the benches. They left the building and stood with us.

"Now what?" I asked.

"The spirit should set the curse on the dolls and leave." Hayley grinned.

We waited with baited breath. Something cracked. Like the sound of splintering wood. Keith glanced at Chris and he nodded. The doors were opened and sure enough, a lot of the dolls had sustained damage, some to the point of near destruction.

The air felt clearer though and it felt like the spirit was gone. The dolls were gathered up and set on fire nearby.

"Fire purifies everything." Chris said. His gaze was locked on the flames.

I smiled and watched too. My gaze went to Eric and Evangeline. They were standing two feet apart and not touching. I would have loved to have a full conversation with her, but not with Eric nearby. He seemed to sense my gaze and leered at me. I looked away, back to the dwindling flames.

The fire eventually died and we left. I glanced back and noticed a figure between the trees, wearing a brimmed hat. I jogged to catch up with my friends. When I looked back, it had gone.

 

Chapter Text

 

November went by quite quickly and I hadn't seen any sign of that weird hatted figure since Halloween. I'd spent November studying and had only been to a few simple missions since. Chris and I had spoken several times, but we'd both been so busy. I missed him.

I pondered this as I sat at my desk, staring at the first snow fall. I'd started my week off by finishing my essays and now had nothing to do. What would normal people do? Someone tapped at my door and I glanced round.

"Hello?" I called.

"Open up, it's me." Victoria shouted back.

I got up and let her in. She smiled and seated herself on the bed. Over the course of a few weeks, she'd started to look better. The black rings under her eyes were gone and she had been happy again.

"How goes the studying, nerd?" She grinned.

"I don't always study." I pouted.

"Are you kidding me. That hot boyfriend of yours will think you don't like him." She teased.

I felt my face heat up and she laughed. She'd seen Chris once and would never let me live it down. I suppose I had been kind of neglectful. He might think I hated him and find someone else. Someone hotter.

"What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" Victoria asked.

"Not much." I replied, shutting my laptop.

It was true. Auntie Makoto would go home to see our extended family and I used to go with her. This year I wanted her to go without me. I felt awkward around my family since my parents death. Facing them reminded me of everything I'd lost.

"What about you?" I asked, not wanting Victoria to ask about my parents.

"Going to see the folks from tomorrow." She said, rolling her eyes.

From what Victoria had said, her parents were loving, but had been concerned for her. They'd disapproved of Hunter. She talked about her parents for a bit and I felt a little down. I wished I could spend the holiday with my parents. I wanted nothing more than for them to be alive still.

"Anyways, I better go and pack." She said, winking at me.

When I was alone again, I stared round my small room. I glanced at the bracelet. Should I? Do demons celebrate Thanksgiving? Would it be presumptive? Where would I sleep? Wait, don't think of that. I got up and grabbed my Hello Kitty rucksack.

Stuffing PJs, clothes, toothbrush and all the necessities inside, I slung the bag on my back. I gripped my wrist and pressed the panels on the bracelet. I'd locked the door after Victoria had left so no one could get in. I closed my eyes and the world around me dissolved.

And I was face down again. On the grass. Sheesh.

"You gotta stop doing this." Lemmy said, helping me up.

"Happy Thanksgiving." I smiled, when I got to my feet.

"Oh yep, human custom. Happy Thanksgiving." He grinned, clapping me on the back.

The Netherworld looked normal, well as normal as it was possible for this place. It was morning in my world so it must be morning here too. The buildings that housed the legions were a hive of activity.

"Thanks Lemmy." I said, turning and jogging away.

"Anytime, kid. Don't get lost." He called.

I vaguely remembered the building. Pushing open the door, I noticed Tris in the lobby, talking to a small group of people.

"This is where you'll report for orientation," She smiled, and glanced round when she saw me. "Hello, Junko."

The people were two boys and a girl. One of the boys had blond hair and a stunning smile. He held up a hand and waved.

"This is Junko. Junko, these are three new recruits." Tris said, beaming.

I managed to wave back. The other boy looked interested for a split second then his eyes went back to his bracelet. The girl was watching me though with curiosity. I couldn't help but notice how beautiful she was. Her red and black hair was tied up neatly and she was dressed smart.

"Are you a human?" She asked.

"Um, yeah I am." I replied.

The boy looked up from his bracelet and shrugged. The girl was watching me though, eyes cutting straight through me.

"Are the rumours true?" She asked.

Rumours? I blinked dumbly and Tris motioned for the girl to quieten down. I realised she must mean about Chris and I. Not wanting to go into detail, I looked away. People might speculate but it wouldn't be fair to come out and say it.

"So, it is true then." The girl said.

I looked at her and she looked almost sad. Her eyes watered and she stomped away. Tris smiled and followed her. The boys trudged behind her. What the heck was that?

"Wow, that was awkward as hell." Keith said.

He'd appeared next to me, watching their retreating forms. Well, it was awkward, but who was she? Why was she so upset?

"I-i don't understand." I stuttered.

"Let's get some food and I'll tell you." Keith said, nodding for me to follow.

I didn't know what they ate here, but sure I'd go. We walked together and he told me that Chris was busy. He'd be free soon, but for now I'd have to wait. That was fine and dandy, but who was that girl.

The Netherworld's streets were cobbled and looked like something ripped from a Jack the Ripper documentary. We sat down in a small restaurant. This was different to the buildings where the legions were based. Across the way two monsters were sat, having a conversation in a language I didn't understand.

A dark cloud hovered near the door. I stared at it then back to Keith. He seemed unphased so I should be too. We ordered drinks, well he ordered for me. The menu was so cryptic that I couldn't order.

The waitress bought the drinks over and left us alone. There was so much I didn't understand. I sipped my drink to find it didn't taste that bad.

"So, that girl?" I asked.

"Do you know how legion leaders are selected?" Keith asked, throwing me off.

"Not a clue." I replied.

"It takes two things to be one; a rich family and the skills to wield the Grim Scythes."

Grim Scythe? That scythe that Chris used. I remembered now. Ok, so clearly the Netherworld's elite families were like Earth's elite families. So, Chris was rich. It didn't matter to me, really. I liked him before I knew and I still liked him. Money meant nothing.

"A rich family?" I asked.

"Yeah, that girl you met is from one of the richest," Keith replied. "And you are with the demon she's betrothed to."

My eyes widened. Chris had never mentioned an engagement. Was he going to leave me for her? I gulped and Keith sighed.

"He won't leave you. The engagement was called off long ago. She's promised to some other demon now, but there are feelings still."

"How come it was called off?" I asked.

"Not for me to say," Keith replied. "Ashley was not happy though."

Ashley? The girl demon. I remembered her expression, hurt and rejected. She looked like how I imagined I looked after finding out about Hunter and Collette.

"I could talk to her?" I suggested, wanting to patch things up.

"Nah, not gonna happen. She heard the rumours and now they're confirmed, yeah, she hates you." Keith replied, draining his drink.

Yeah, thanks for that. I was hated even though I did nothing. I didn't know this girl. I pushed my drink away and Keith smiled.

"Do you hate me?" I asked, and he rolled his eyes.

"Does it look like I hate you, sweetheart." He laughed, when I shoved his arm.

We left the cafe and walked towards the centre square of the legion buildings. A guy was walking towards us. His hair was brown, slightly shorter than Keith's.

"There you are." He said, and Keith pretended to hide behind me.

"I think he sees you." I sighed.

The guy approached and smiled, "Hi, I'm Greg."

"And no one cares." Keith grinned, pushing Greg away.

He waved at me and they disappeared together. I made my way towards the building, passing Lemmy and waving. He smiled and returned the gesture. He was accompanied by some new recruits. They all eyed me with keen interest.

When I got back to the foyer there were no new recruits hanging around. Thank goodness, I didn't want to be stared at again. The whole building seemed abuzz with new activity and I realised that it was Monday so this was a work day. Evidently, they didn't get Thanksgiving off.

"Well, look who it is." Andy had appeared, sauntering towards me.

He was dressed as strangely as ever, but seemed happy. I smiled and he stood next to me.

"Yeah, happy Thanksgiving." I said, and he smirked.

"That's the holiday where you guys eat turkey, right?" He asked.

"It's a little more complex than that." I replied, and he shrugged.

"The new recruits are here, lots of stuff happening. You can hang with me for a while." Andy stated, grabbing my hand and dragging me along.

He led me into a room towards the back of the building. It looked like a training room. It was a training room. He tried to get me to exercise, but it became apparent I was really unfit.

"Come on, you can do better." Andy grinned, when I struggled to do a push-up.

"I'm gonna die." I wheezed, and he laughed.

"Are all humans this bad?" He asked, sitting next to me.

I was content to lay there on the mat, breathing heavily. I supposed all humans would be considered unathletic since demons had superior strength and speed.

"I guess, compared to you," I mumbled. "I always hated sports."

"I just wanna help you defend yourself a little." Andy said, leaning down, blue eyes staring into mine.

It made more sense now. If I was attacked I would have no way to protect myself. Andy shifted and pulled something from his pocket. He handed it to me. A gun. Wow, how responsible.

"I-i don't think I should." I said, looking at him.

"The guns here contain spirit pressure. They can be loaded with silver bullets too," He said. "You should consider it."

I sat up and accepted the dangerous weapon. I stuffed it into my bag, not intending to actually use it. Andy smiled again, clearly happy with my decision.

"Why'd you give it to me?" I asked, and he sighed.

"Chris would be so upset if anything happened to you. I just want to cover all the bases so that we don't have another Sabrina incident." He spoke, then covered his mouth.

"Sabrina?" I asked, realising she was the one before me. She'd sold her soul.

"Yeah, I've spilled it now. She was the other human." He replied, running a hand through his fluffy hair.

"Were they in love?" I murmured, and he looked pained.

"Come on, seriously?" Andy said, then noticed my interested expression. "Yeah, they loved one another."

"Something happened to her." I stated, remembering that she was violated and ended the contract.

"Eric happened. He wanted her and it just-my god-it sucks." Andy groaned.

Eric had? My mind couldn't form the thought. He'd attacked her. Andy noticed my expression. My mouth must have been open in an O shape. He took a breath and reached over, touching a hand to my shoulder.

"Am I safe?" I asked, and Andy smiled slightly.

"Yeah, you are." He sounded so confident.

We left the training room and he walked me to Chris' office, leaving me by the door. He pressed a finger to his lips in a shushing motion. I realised he didn't want me to say anything. I wasn't going to say anything anyways.

I knocked on the door and Andy patted my shoulder, leaving me there. I waited a few minutes before entering. No one was here. Weird. Maybe it had been a rough day. I shut the door and walked towards his bedroom.

Knocking on the door, I heard swearing and then the door opened. Chris must have been expecting someone else. He looked surprised.

"Hey, I thought you were Tris." He said, letting me in.

"Why're you up here?" I asked, and he sat down on the bed.

He'd thrown his suit jacket over a chair and his shirt was slightly unbuttoned.

"I wanted to get away for a bit." He said, glancing at me.

"I-i can go if you want." I murmured, pointing at the door.

"Or you could stay and hide up here with me." He beckoned me over.

My face heated up and I shuffled nervously, before approaching, cautiously. A cold hand grasped mine and pulled me closer. He stood then, hugging me. I smiled as I breathed him in. I kind of hoped no one would find us.

 

Chapter Text

 

Someone knocked on the door. We both were frozen. I pulled back slightly and glanced upwards at Chris. His eyes were locked on the door.

"I know you're in there." Tris said.

He sighed and let go of me, throwing open the door and revealing Tris. She smiled widely. She didn't step into the room though. I guessed it was some kind of respect thing. I wasn't sure where to put myself so I sat on the edge of the bed, trailing my hand along the crimson bed throw.

"I need you to come down and be there." Tris was saying.

"I know. I do know the procedure. It's been 600 years that I've been doing this." Chris replied, sounding frustrated.

Tris' smile became sympathetic and she peeked round at me. Chris followed her gaze and managed a slight smile in my direction. I felt my face heat up, choosing to toy with my hair instead.

"Give me a minute." Chris said, closing the door.

I peeked from under my fringe as he did up the buttons on his shirt and put his jacket back on, turning towards me and sitting next to me. I shifted and looked at him, managing to meet his eyes.

"You're leaving me." I murmured.

"So melodramatic, aren't we? I won't be long." He replied, holding my hand in his, tracing his thumb across my knuckles.

I nodded and he smiled, pressing a kiss to my forehead. I think I held my breath, maybe hoping if I did then this moment would last forever. It didn't and he got up, leaving me alone.

There was so much I could do, like watch television. I had so many stations at my disposal. Or, and this was better, I could sneak around his room and be nosy. I woulnd't get too nosy. I just wanted to look and see what I would find out.

Starting from the cupboard, I hesitated. I wouldn't open the cupboard. That's where private things are kept. Instead, I walked over to the desk. There was a silver box on the top of the desk. It had a keyhole though so I doubt I'd be going through that. It felt sneaky doing this so I sat on the bed again.

Something caught my eye near the bedside table. I reached down and plucked it out. It was polaroid photo. It was a girl. Her hair was pink and she was seated in the window seat across the way. She was smiling prettily. Shifting off the bed, I seated myself in the same spot.

The view was pretty awesome. I could see across the Netherworld towards the buildings with their jagged spires and cobbled streets. Was this what she was looking at? I glanced at the picture again. A halo of light surrounded her and I realised this was taken at night. Was this Sabrina? It had to be.

A strange, prickling sensation overcame me. In one instance I was awed by her beauty and grace. In the other, I wanted to tear the picture to pieces. She wasn't looking at the view though. Her face was tilted, anlged towards whoever was taking the picture. I suddenly felt really uncomfortable.

Standing, I tucked the photo back where I'd found it. I sat on the bed. Was I jealous of a girl I'd never met? Of a girl that had had something so awful happen to her? I was a horrible person. I flopped down onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. My eyes closed.

The door suddenly slammed and I jumped up. Chris was back. Evidently something had gone bad, but I wasn't sure what. He obviously hadn't noticed I'd been asleep. He sat down next to me and finally smiled.

"Sorry, I scared you." He murmured.

"What'd that door ever do to you?" I asked, and he chuckled.

"Yeah, it's just the whole new recruits thing." He said, sitting back on the bed.

"You mean Ashley?" I asked, and then regretted it because his dark eyes observed me.

He wasn't telling me to mind my own business. I'm sure he wondered how I knew her name. I decided to look away and I felt him inch closer, grasping my chin. I was surprised to see him smiling.

"Who told you?" He asked.

"N-no one. Just sorta heard it through the ol' grapevine." I smiled, and he raised a brow.

"Of course you did. I'll figure out who it was, Junko." He said, that same playful smirk appearing.

"Ok fine, Keith told me." I blurted out.

"See that wasn't too difficult now, was it?" He chuckled.

I narrowed my eyes at him. There was a slight look of innocence on his face. Yeah right, he wasn't innocent. I forced myself to be serious.

"So, was it Ashley?" I persisted.

"If you must know, it was. She cornered me as I was leaving and we had a bit of a row. Just like old times." Chris replied.

They'd fought. It sounded like a regular thing. Maybe it was a good thing the engagement was called off.

"You two were meant to be engaged, right?" I asked.

"Meant to be. It never happened. Her father pushed for it. Mine did not," He replied, dark gaze going towards me again. "You know a lot. Maybe I should punish you for snooping."

Nerves ate away at me the moment those sinful eyes trailed down my body. Sure, I was wearing a dress today, of all the days. I clenched my fingers in the hem of my dress. Play it all off as a joke, Junko.

"You're so funny." I fake laughed.

"I wasn't aware I was joking." He said, eyes boring into mine.

I probably shouldn't reveal the other thing I knew. The thing Andy had told me. I glanced at my boyfriend. He must have noticed my expression change. 850 years being alive obviously made you somewhat wiser and able to read body language.

"Why aren't you smiling anymore?" Chris asked.

Quick think of something. Ask something else. There is so much you don't know so just blurt the first thing you can think of out.

"What's your true form? Keith said something about forms. What's yours?" I blurted. Nailed it.

"My true form?" Chris repeated, seeming to think. "Think Lovecraftian, but worse."

"C-can I see?" I asked, and he smirked.

"It might drive you a little insane. That could be a problem if we were to continue a relationship." He replied, leaning his chin on his hand.

He blinked and his pupils blackened. I guessed that would be all I'd be seeing. He tilted his head to the side, watching me.

"I'm not afraid." I said, and it was true.

I hadn't been afraid that day I'd seen him with the black eyes and that insane scythe. I wasn't afraid of him today. He'd never hurt me. I managed a smile and he blinked again, eyes returning to normal.

"I'm going to change." He stated, standing and removing his jacket.

Nope, not in front of me. He unbottoned his shirt and I felt the heat flood to my face. Out of pure embarrassment, I covered my eyes with my hands. I could just about hear the clink of a belt through the roaring of my ears.

I could hear him pulling on some jeans and I waited. He must be finished now. I lowered my hands to find he was right in front of me, dark eyes staring into my own. Out of curiosity, my gaze went downwards, taking in his broad shoulders covered in tattoos. His stomach was flat and my gaze trailed downwards. He was wearing jeans, but the belt was undone.

"Why?" I squeaked.

"Seeing your reactions is always funny." Chris replied.

His lips met mine, kissing me gently. I responded, sighing into the kiss. It was amazing. Someone knocked on the door. Chris pulled back, glaring at the door. He moved quickly, grabbing a t-shirt and pulling it on.

I barely had time to react when he grabbed my hand, pulling me close. What the heck did he have planned? He pressed a panel on his bracelet and we were transported. When I opened my eyes, we were outside my room.

"I want to see where you live." He stated.

Fair enough. I turned and unlocked the door. My room was nothing fancy. I had decorated it light pink and strewn plushies everywhere. I certainly felt like a grown-up. Chris sat on my bed, picking up my Grumpy Cat plush, squidging its face.

He grinned and threw it at me, laughing when I batted it away. I wondered how long we'd stay here. I thought he was just curious.

"We should go back." I said.

"I'd rather stay here." He replied.

Alison would freak if she found out. I turned round and rested my head against the door. Alison wasn't overly strict, but guys weren't allowed to be here. It was girls only. Sure, other girls snuck their boyfriends in, but I was so afraid of getting in trouble.

A large hand enveloped mine and I turned to face him. How'd he move so quick? His lips met mine again, quickly deepening the kiss. I responded, arms coiling round his shoulders. Kissing whilst standing was quite difficult. I think it was the height difference. We pulled apart.

"You're too tall." I whined.

"Nope, you're just a midget." Chris replied.

Maybe staying here wouldn't be so bad. My bed was only queen sized so I was certain we'd both fit. I glanced at the clock. It was around three. We could order food and watch movies. That sounded fun.

We did end up watching films. This was awesome. The sky darkened until there was only the glow from my tv set. Chris' bracelet started glowing and he rolled his eyes. Watching him bring up the hologram, I noticed it said something about a mission.

"What kind of mission?" I asked.

"Haunted road. Boring." He sighed.

"Doesn't sound boring." I said, tilting my head back to look at him.

"Then you can go with Andy and Ashley." Chris responded.

Had I just volunteered myself for a mission? Yeah, I had. I didn't care. It would give me something to do during my week off. I relaxed again and closed my eyes. Sleep dragged me in.

 

Chapter Text

 

All good things must come to an end, or so people say. The mission of the haunted highway started the following afternoon. I ended up along a desolate stretch of road. It had been too far away to get a taxi to so I'd used my bracelet.

Trees lined the road and I realised I was surrounded on all sides by a forest. There was a bench though and that was where I'd taken up residence. The snow hadn't hit this part of the country yet, but it was still cold. The trees had lost all their leaves and were like wooden skeletons, limbs gnarled and contorted.

"Junko." Someone called my name and I looked round.

Andy was approaching me. He wasn't alone though. Two other people were with him. I had assumed that Ashley would be with him, but this was very peculiar. He stopped when he got to the bench.

"You're here early." Andy stated.

"Yeah, I didn't want to be late and miss you." I replied.

This place was eerie. I hadn't seen any cars yet. It was like it was abandonned; a stretch of road forgotten in time. I glanced at the guy next to Andy. He was short, coming up to just above Andy's shoulders, but he was taller than me.

"Junko, this Ricky. He's a part of Lemmy's team. They decided to split this mission between legions." Andy said, motioning to Ricky.

"And I'm Devin," The other guy said, grabbing my hand. "And I know all about you."

He looked familiar and then it clicked. He was the guy with Tris from the other day. He'd been more interested in his bracelet at the time, but now it seemed like he was a lot more social.

"Y-yeah, you were with Tris the other day." I said, and he smiled.

"Yup. Like I said, I know all about you." He grinned.

This must have been some sort of training exercise. Devin let go of my hand and turned to Andy, who looked beyond exhausted.

A rumbling sound made us all look round. A truck was driving down the road. It was rustic and sounded like it would die at any minute. It stopped just short of us and the door opened. A man clambered out. He was wearing a trucker's hat and I could smell the alcohol on him from here.

"You kids all right?" He asked.

"Yeah, we're just interested in the events round here." Andy smiled.

The guy looked from Andy, to Ricky, then to Devin and finally to me. He actually smiled, like Christmas had come at once.

"You mean the aliens." He gasped.

"Aliens?" Ricky asked.

"Yeah, kid. I've seen them." The guy said, proudly.

I glanced at Andy and he was frowning. From the mission briefing this road had seen a lot of weird activity. There'd been sightings of a strange creature, ghost cars, a woman hitchiker, but no aliens. I guessed it wouldn't be so unusual.

"Where'd you see these aliens?" Andy asked.

The guy didn't seem to understand he was being interrogated so he allowed us onto his truck. We were either driving towards a murderers house or the guy was harmless.

His house was a shack through some trees and it looked like it would fall down at any second, if the wind blew in the right direction. The guy killed the engine and motioned for us to follow. The trees staretd to give way and we were standing on the edge of a cliff.

The drop was steep. Above us was the grey morning sky and below a sheer drop. The guy stood off to the side, watching the skies, like he thought the aliens might just nip down for afternoon tea.

"Up there." He stated.

"What did the craft look like?" Ricky asked.

He'd grown bored and had sat down on a tree stump. I continued to stare at the sky. The clouds were grey, everything was grey, like that song except that was blue.

"Craft?" The guy scoffed. "Nah, I've seen an actual alien."

Ricky sighed loudly, "Fine, what did the 'aliens' look like?"

"Alien. There was only one," The guy snapped. "She was beautiful."

I exchanged a look with Devin to find he was grinning. The guy started going into detail about this alien and how she and him had had made love multiple times. I covered my ears and wrinkled my nose. Devin had covered his mouth, trying not to laugh.

"Can I just interrupt?" Andy asked, and the guy paused. "Have you ever seen any ghost cars?"

"Ain't no ghost cars. Just the alien." The guy fired back.

"Yeah, the alien, that you had sex with." Ricky snorted out a laugh.

"See this guy gets it." The guy chuckled, leaning over to nudge Ricky.

"Please, please don't touch me." Ricky snapped, leaning away.

We made our way back to the main highway and Andy sighed. He split us into teams, sending me off with Ricky. We walked down the road, saying nothing. This was awkward.

"So, how's your day going?" I asked, trying to bridge the silence.

"It could be better, don't ya think." Ricky replied, smiling.

We'd walked as far an old sign post when he stopped, looking around. The road stretched onwards and I copied Ricky. My eyes scanned the road until I saw someone. I squinted into the distance, trying to get a good look at the figure.

Ricky hadn't seen them so I stepped forward. Maybe they were lost and needed help. As I drew closer I noticed something and my eyes widened.

"Mom." I whispered.

It looked like her. From behind, I recognised her jacket. The one she'd been wearing the night of the accident. I started walking towards her.

"Mom?" I shouted now, attracting Ricky's attention.

He turned and faced the direction I was looking. He seemed to be trying to see my Mom. His eyes widened, but before he could say anything I'd taken off, running after my Mom. This was it. I'd get to see her again. I had been sort of hoping that she'd show up during this whole ghost hunting thing.

"Junko, stop." Ricky called.

I had already sped by, giving chase. My Mom was walking away from me. Where was she going? How come she wasn't turning to look at me? She vanished into the trees and I ran after her. I could see her as she moved through the under growth.

"Mom, please come back. I miss you." I shouted, but she didn't turn.

The trees thinned until we were at the cliff. I saw her on the edge and ran towards her. I had gotten to the edge and my feet hit empty air. The scream tore from my lips as wind rushed by me. I landed on something with a crunch. Sitting up, I found I was on a ledge. Where had Mom gone?

"Mom." I screamed.

Nothing happened. I blinked and sat up. My arm throbbed. I'd landed on it. My fingers weren't moving. They felt numb. The feeling came back to my body and pain surged through me. It wasn't just physical pain. I was reliving the moment when I realised I'd never see my parents again.

"Junko?"

I looked up to see Andy. He leapt down, landing gracefully on the ledge. He scooped me up and I burst into tears, like a child. He jumped again, flying into the air and landing back on the cliff. I could see Ricky and I looked away.

"I'm sorry." I whispered.

Ricky walked over and smiled at me, reassuringly. His eyes were still panicked. I'd done that to him.

"It's ok. Are you all right?" He asked.

No, I wasn't all right. I sniffed and broke down again. Ricky reeled back and looked at Andy, who cradled me closer. Someone broke through the trees and Devin appeared, looking flustered.

"Chris and Lemmy are on their way." He gasped.

"Fan-fucking-tastic." Andy sighed.

"Andy, I'm sorry. It's all my fault." I sobbed, and he glanced at me.

"It's not your fault at all. You saw someone that looked like your mom. I'm sorry it wasn't." He said, sadly.

Andy carried me back through the trees. I saw Lemmy first then I saw Chris. He moved quickly, heading straight for Andy and I.

"You guys weren't supposed to damage the poor kid." Lemmy chuckled.

"She saw something." Ricky replied.

"What did you see, sweetheart?" Lemmy asked.

Andy had handed me to Chris. He looked at me too.

"M-my Mom. She was walking away from me." I murmured.

Lemmy frowned and nodded. He looked regretful. He probably thought I was an idiot. He turned and started chatting to Ricky.

"Are you ok?" Chris asked.

I looked at him and nodded. He seemed to realise I wasn't though. I buried my face into his jacket, breathing in his scent. The hand he had wrapped round my shoulder gently toyed with my hair.

"I'm sorry." I whispered.

"Don't worry about it. Let's go get your arm looked at." He replied.

"It wasn't Andy's fault. I ran off." I sobbed.

Tris greeted us when we got back to The Netherworld. She smiled at me, much like how she'd done when I got scratched and when I'd tripped that time. The first time had been my first ever time here and I never dreamed the demon holding me would actually like me. He'd seemed to cold and closed off at first.

Tris' cold hands felt my arm. I winced and she sighed, pulling back.

"Broken arm." She said.

"I kinda landed on it." I replied.

The hosptial wing looked the same as ever. Tris appeared again, holding a bottle of something. She sat in front of me. She'd put my arm in a sling. Chris had gone somewhere, but promised he'd be back.

"You'll need to drink this." She stated, pouring some of the white liquid into a glass.

It was clear, but thick, kind of like milk. Tris handed me the glass and I took a sip, gagging at the taste. It was metallic and sour. It burnt my tongue and my throat as it slid down. I drained the glass, coughing when I was done.

"There we go," Tris smiled. "That potion will fix your bone. Takes about an hour to work."

I sniffed and she stood, sighing softly. Her gaze was sad and sympathetic. Her hand gently touched my good shoulder.

"You should never follow the dead. Nothing good comes from it." She murmured, then left.

The door opened again and Chris appeared. He walked over, sitting in front of me. He didn't seem angry so I guessed Andy was still safe.

"I'm sorry." I whispered.

"Stop apologising. It doesn't matter." He replied.

I wasn't going to stay in the hospital wing all night, but standing proved difficult. Evidently, I'd bruised various other body parts so Chris had to carry me. It gave me another chance to be close to him though so I wasn't complaining.

When we got to his room, he set me down at the top of the bed near the pillows. It was still fairly early in the day so he'd have to go back to work. I didn't mind. It'd give me a chance to sleep and I did, fairly quickly.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

My mouth felt like the Sahara desert when I finally woke up. How long had I slept? My eyes flicked towards the window. The purple, Netherworldlian sky was darkening to a mauve. The moon was starting to peek through the clouds.

Sitting up, I felt dizzy. I could move my arm though. In fact, apart from the sickness, I felt good as new. Sickness? I gagged and stood on very shaky feet. There must be a bathroom here. Demons had to go toilet. Everyone goes toilet.

There was a door in the corner. Flinging it open did in fact reveal a bathroom. My throat burned as I heaved into the toilet. I coughed again and sat back. I hadn't really been sick, but I still felt a little better.

I sat in the window seat for lack of a better place to sit. Below me, the streets spanned as far as the eye could see. Across the way, something exploded and I jumped back. A monster appeared and started yelling. I wondered if that monster was the janitor or something.

I thought about the mission today. I needed to go and find out whether it was my Mom that I saw. I had to know. A part of me knew it might not be her, but I had to know. I'm sure I could go back tomorrow and find out.

The door opened and arms wrapped around me. I smiled and leaned back. I was so happy Chris was back. I turned round and hugged him. In fact, I didn't want to let go.

"So, you're going to stay glued to me forever." He chuckled.

"Yep, never letting go, ever." I said, hugging him tighter.

"That'll be fun when I have to change clothes." He replied, voice close to my ear.

The hairs on the nape of my neck stood and I felt my skin prickle slightly. I moved backwards and giggled, nervously. I'm sure Chris wouldn't mind me going back to the deserted road as long as I was with Andy.

"So, the road?" I asked. "Are we going back tomorrow?"

"Andy and Ricky are." Chris replied, sitting on the bed.

"Well, I wanna go too." I stated, and his eyes narrowed.

"You fell off a cliffside, broke your arm and could have been badly hurt. What makes you think I'm going to let you go back?" Chris snapped.

Uh oh. I took a shaky breath. I'd never heard him take that tone with me. Well, I had when we first met, when he'd snapped at Tris to send me home. I knew he wouldn't hurt me, but I also knew he wasn't going to back down easy.

"The fact that I'm an adult and can make my own decisions." I said, standing. Part of me hoped that I looked mature and decisive.

"An adult that wants to follow an illusion off a cliff. That's a new one." He said.

"It could have been my Mom, but I won't know unless I go back." I could hear myself becoming frantic.

"I highly doubt your mother would intentionally harm you."

My breathing was heavy. Was he arguing with me? Were we in a fight? Why couldn't he understand why I wanted to do this. I shuffled nervously.

"I won't get hurt again." I said, softly.

"It's not your decision to make." Chris replied, and I glared at him.

"I'm not your employee, you know." I snapped.

"I know that, but right now you're behaving like a child." He fired back.

Some people get angry and scream. My anger tends to dissipate and I can never find the words. Instead, my fight or flight response kicked in and I shifted on the spot, eyes going to the door. I was a child. Making my decision, I moved towards the door. My hand landed on the handle.

Chris' hand enveloped mine and I turned to glare at him. My gaze faltered though and I looked down.

"I don't want to fight so let me leave." I whispered.

"You think this is a fight?" He chuckled then, surprising me.

"Well, what would you call it?" I sniffled.

"A minor disagreement." He said, shrugging.

We weren't screaming at each other, which was a good thing.

"You called me a child." I said, rubbing my eyes. Nope, not crying.

Call it insecurity, but I didn't like that he'd called me a child. I'd read enough websites about relationships to know that we were meant to be equals. I'm not sure what prompted me to start researching how to be in a relationship. Maybe it was the need to prove that I was an adult. Time to change tack.

"We're meant to be equals. It's a good basis for a relationship." I snapped.

"We are equals," He replied, smirking at me. "Whatever magazine or webpage you got that from probably also advised that we communicate and not run away, like you're trying to to do."

Freakin' jerk. I got the distinct feeling I wouldn't be able to escape even if I tried. I bit down on my lower lip and thought for a moment.

"You can't keep me here. I'm not your prisoner." I said, and was surprised when he raised a brow at me.

"I don't view you as a prisoner, but you are mine." He replied, pupils dilating slightly.

"N-nope, don't even think-"

My protest was cut short when he leaned down, pressing his lips to mine. My mouth had been slightly parted at the time and his tongue pushed past my lips. I didn't want to respond at first, but I gave in.

I kissed back, nervously. My hands were holding onto Chris' jacket, knuckles going numb from how tight my grip was. I was distinctly aware that we were pressed against a door, but I was too far gone to care. His hands gripped my legs, lifting me easily, pressing me into the door.

I was so involved in kissing him that I didn't realise we were on the bed until my back hit the bed throw. My legs were wrapped round Chris' waist and I untangled myself a little. The kiss stopped, but only so his lips could travel down my jaw and to my neck. I gasped when he bit down, then soothed the skin with a gentle kiss.

My eyes met his. Brown met pure black and I gulped. The way he looked at me made my knees tremble. How far would this go? His eyes left mine and resumed their journey down my neck till he got to the collar of my t-shirt. I felt a cold hand graze the hem of my t-shirt and caress my stomach. My body shrank away and Chris pulled back, pupils slowly returning to normal.

I was breathing heavily and trembling a little. In a way, it had been scary, but also exciting. I could feel the blush rise on my cheeks. He leaned down again so we were facing each other.

"I still want to go back." I stated, and he sighed.

"I know, but it's a bad idea to follow the dead." He replied, tracing a hand across my stomach.

My eyes went to his hand and I analysed the tattoos for something to do. My gaze went to his neck then and looked at the tattoo there. I smiled and turned, lifting my hand to touch the lines.

"This is so cool. Did it hurt?" I asked.

"No, it felt like unicorns were licking my skin." He replied, sarcasm. He was good at sarcasm.

"Demons feel pain?" I was curious now.

"Demons do feel pain. Death might not affect us, but pain does." Chris said.

His voice sounded clipped, like he was remembering something. I thought about the photo and shuffled nervously. Was I sweating? I should say something. I wanted to know everything about him.

"Have you ever felt pain?" I asked. It seemed the best way to approach the subject.

"I assume you're referring to Sabrina?" He said.

My eyes widened and I looked at him. He knew I'd found the photo. How else could I explain the look in his eyes. Was he mad? He didn't seem mad.

"I'm sorry about what happened to her." I murmured.

"Don't be sorry. It was partially my fault it happened." He replied.

"No, it wasn't. You didn't know what Eric would do." I said.

I thought about Sabrina. I felt sorry for her. How safe was I? She had clearly thought she'd been safe, but Eric had managed to get to her and hurt her.

"You are safe," Chris said, interrupting my thoughts.

I smiled and I actually believed him. I was still a little scared, but I trusted Chris. My eyes closed and I shuffled closer.

 

*******************

 

"It seems to like humans." Andy stated, staring down the road.

This was interesting. Returning to the road. Andy had bleeped Chris mid-morning. They weren't able to locate this entity. It was decided that whatever it was, was attracted to humans. Would it appear again?

My eyes trailed down the road. I saw it then. The figure of a woman walking away from us. From the back she did look like my Mom, but I realised if she turned around then she wouldn't be my mother.

Whether the entity realised this was unclear, but it stopped and turned. I yelped and leapt back. It had no face.

"Shapeshifter." Andy called.

"How strong?" Chris asked. He pulled me closer.

"Low level. Scared." Andy replied.

The shapeshifter changed forms and lunged. It was mish-mash of human and animal parts. Andy removed a gun from the holster at his waist and fired a couple of shots. The shapeshifter flew skywards and dodged.

For something low level, it sure seemed strong. Chris sighed and stood. We'd been sitting on the bench. The Grim-Scythe seemed a part of him. The shapeshifter didn't get any closer as it was sliced in two. The creature disippated and we were left on an empty road.

"That was so bad-ass." Devin smiled.

He'd come along too. I assumed as part of training. Chris lowered the scythe and it disappeared as though becoming a part of him again.

"Maybe, if you paid attention to lessons then you could do that." Andy said, nudging Devin.

"Yeah, totally, then I could marry Junko." Devin grinned.

Andy caught the look Chris sent them.

"Or if you valued your existence you could keep your mouth shut." Andy stated.

I laughed at this. I did wonder if I'd ever see my Mom again.

 

**************

 

"Have you and Junko made up yet?" Hunter asked.

"No, not yet. Why?" Collette responded.

Hunter merely shrugged and stared across the quad towards the college. He toyed with the cross necklace round his neck.

"Maybe, you guys should. It would be great to go on a double-date, wouldn't it?" He grinned, and Collette smiled too.

"Y-yeah, you're right. We shouldn't waste years of friendship." She said.

Liam watched them, uneasily.

 

Chapter Text

 

"Hey, how are you?" Collette had seated herself next to me.

I had my mouth open, ready to eat a piece of ravioli. It slopped off the fork and onto the plate with a wet splat. I lowered the fork and stared at her like she'd grown an extra head. What could she possibly want?

"Good, I guess."I replied, shifting nervously.

"Listen, I want to apologise," She sighed. "I'm sorry for everything."

This was a startling new development. Collette and I had only ever fallen out a couple of times before, never this bad, but still. This was the first time she'd apologised to me. I wasn't sure how to take it.

"It's fine." I replied, shrugging.

"I feel really bad, Junko," She pleaded. "Let's be friends again. I miss you."

Where was Hunter? Had he set this up? No, why would he? He'd warned me to stay away from Collette. He'd called me a stalker. Did Collette know that? Maybe he felt bad too and he wanted Collette to bridge the gap so he could apologise too.

"Ok, we can be friends again." I said.

She smiled and leaned over, hugging me. I didn't really hug back. This felt awkward and weird. I was mixed between disliking her and wanting so badly to be friends again. She pulled back and smiled brightly.

"So, I was thinking we could go on a double-date." She beamed.

I frowned at this. Hunter had met Chris and the meeting was hardly amicable. Did she not know about that?

"How did you know about Chris?" I asked.

"Hunter told me he saw you guys at Bewitched together, duh." She laughed.

Ah, so Hunter had glossed over the details. Collette probably assumed Hunter had courteously waved at Chris and I, then left us alone. Should I tell her? She looked so happy. Maybe this double-date thing could work. It could be a line in the sand and we could all get along.

"Sounds like fun." I replied.

"Super, I'll let Hunter know. We can set a date." She grinned, standing and dashing off.

That was totally weird.

"I wouldn't." Liam said.

He and Cole were across the way, having seen the whole thing. Liam seemed to be falling out with Collette and Hunter more and more. He had lunch with them a couple of times, but grew fed up with them ignoring him.

I wanted to forgive Collette and move on so I decided to give her a chance. Now I had to think of a way to persuade Chris.

 

***********************

 

"Can you do me a huge favour, Junko?" Tris had collared me the moment I set foot in the foyer.

"Sure, what is it?" I asked. Why'd I agree to this garbage.

"I need you to take this parchment over to the third house down." She replied, guiding me to the door. She pointed at the third building.

I shrugged and accepted my quest. The second building belonged to Lemmy. He wasn't out front today. Normally he'd be sat on the porch, sipping a glass of whiskey and chuckling at the new recruits when they made a mistake.

The third building was slightly obscured by a weird looking tree. It shuffled when I got close and hissed at me. I tapped on the door and entered when no one answered. The foyer was darker and the ceiling was covered in vines.

"How will I know if he really loves me." Someone was singing.

I craned my neck and finally noticed a girl perched in the window seat, huge book open in her lap. Her eyes were round and doe-like. Her brown hair was slightly tied back with a long stripe of it hanging down her shoulder. Should I hand the parchment to her? She kept singing softly.

"Excuse me." I said.

She jumped and the book clattered to the floor. She fumbled to scoop it up and set it in the window seat, before looking at me.

"Sorry, I didn't hear you." She smiled, turning off the music.

It was resonating from a box. Its lid was open and there seemed to be a crystal inside, glowing softly. She shut the lid and stepped closer. In the dim light I could see that she was only about my height. Her features were sweet and delicate.

"Welcome to the third legion house led by Eric." She said, stumbling a little.

This was where Eric was based. I had expected something worse, more sinister. I was definitely expecting someone more frightening. Instead I was met with a small girl, who looked about as scary as me.

"T-thanks. These are for Eric, I think." I handed over the parchment and she accepted.

She deposited the parchment on the table nearby. There were a lot of parchments on there. Organisation clearly wasn't Eric's strong suit.

"Are you human?" She asked.

"Yeah, I am." I replied.

Her eyes lit up and she stepped closer, "I'm half human."

Half human? My eyes widened. I hadn't expected that. She seemed to realise that she didn't know me. We were strangers.

"I'm Ariana." She held out a delicate hand.

I accepted and smiled, "Junko."

She let go and glanced around the creepy foyer. This place was awful. Why was someone like this hanging around here?

"Let's go sit outside." She said, and I followed. Anything to leave this building.

We sat on the grass, away from the creepy tree and even creepier building. In the light she looked almost angellic. I noticed other demons giving her a wide berth though.

"How come you're in Eric's legion?" I asked.

"He likes me because he doesn't like me." She replied.

What a strange reason. Her status as a halfling made her unique. Eric must enjoy picking on her. My hatred for him grew again. I wanted to hit him with a fridge. Her doe eyes glanced around the area, looking for something.

"How are you half human/half demon?" I asked.

"I'm actually a human/angel hybrid." She said, blushing slightly.

She shuffled awkwardly. I guessed because demons existed then angels must as well. No wonder she looked like she didn't fit in.

"My mom was a human. My dad was an angel," She sighed, sitting slightly closer. "After mom died, dad wanted me to come here."

"So, you're immortal too?" I quizzed her.

"No, I'll just age really slowly." She smiled.

I actually liked her. She reminded me of Collette, but without the nasty streak. Again, her eyes canvassed the area and I followed her gaze.

"What're you looking for?" I asked, and she turned her head so quickly her hair spun too.

"You'll laugh." She murmured.

Her cheeks were bright red. Did she have a boyfriend she was waiting on? She sat next to me, eyes roving towards the fourth house across the way.

"That's the legion house run by Debbie," She stated, and I listened. "Everyday I sit here and wait. I'm a little early today."

She nudged me and the door opened and a guy with brown hair walked out. He was holding the door. A cap was on his head and he had an easy smile. I looked at her and nodded. She frowned and shook her head, grabbing my chin, making me look again.

Another guy followed him out the door. His hair was much longer and darker. He was wearing a black hoodie and jeans. His face was pierced, far more than Chris'. This guy's nose was pierced and his lobes were stretched so that they hung down. I followed his movements as he walked with the other guy. Ariana did too. Her eyes never left him.

He vanished with his friend and she sighed, dropping her gaze then looking at me. The blush never left her face.

"That was Mike." She said, toying with her pink hoodie.

"You like him." I grinned.

"Yes, I always have. We were new recruits at the same time and he was the only one that didn't bully me." She murmured.

"People bully you." I couldn't believe it. She was so pretty.

"Yeah, no one likes the girl that's half angel." She whispered, sounding heart broken.

"I-i know how you feel," I blurted out and she looked at me. "Don't give up. Talk to him. He might like you too."

She looked disheartened, "Or he might feel sorry for me."

"He doesn't know you. Get him alone and strike up a conversation. I did that with someone and it worked." I decided to not share everything.

Her eyes widened and she seemed to be thinking. Her brown eyes scanned the grass in a flurry of emotions.

"What if he laughs at me?" She mumbled.

"What if he doesn't?" I countered.

Her pretty smile returned and was replaced by a look of determination, "Tomorrow, I'll speak to him."

I let her go then. Another girl had appeared at the door to the third house and was glaring at Ariana. She seemed to realise it was time to leave. She hugged me then departed. I watched her retreating form and I felt bad for her. Now I had to face up to own problems.

 

********************

 

Listen, let's go on a weird double-date with the girl that ruined my life and the guy you really hate. Yep, that sounded about right. Let's do this. I had made it to Chris' office and tapped on the door. When I entered he was sat on the couch, reading a book. He looked up when I walked in and smiled.

I loved that smile. It was everything. It made life so good. I loved the way his lips curled upwards, how his teeth were so white and how I was the only person that could achieve this. It would be a shame to ruin that. 3......2......1.

"Hey, how was your day?" I asked, sitting down.

"Better now." He said, leaning closer.

Too close, fam. Let's remember what happened the other night. Images flashed in my mind and suddenly the room felt like it was spinning.

"Are you busy this weekend?" I asked.

"Not really, why?" Chris replied, brow arching.

"Well, we've sorta been invited out." I smiled.

"Invited out? Like, a couples thing?" He said, frowning.

"Yup, just me, you," I needed to do this quick. "AndColletteandHunter."

He pulled back and his eyes narrowed. I smiled, but he didn't smile back.

"You made friends with them?" He asked.

"Collette apologised." I replied.

He was older than me. Would he really go along with this?

"Do I have to speak to him?" Chris asked.

"Nope, you can totally ignore him." I said, and he shrugged.

"Fine, where and when."

"Seriously?"

"Yes, seriously. I mean, I'd rather be eaten by hell hounds."

I glowered at him. I was starting to grasp his personality. Underneath the smart suits was sarcasm and a tendency to be quite scathing. This was gonna be bad.

"You need to be nice." I shot back.

"Aren't I always nice, Junko." He murmured, shifting closer.

We were inches apart and he smirked. I liked that too. I shrugged and he leaned down, closing the distance. His lips were ghosting across mine and I waited with nervous anticipation.

"Well." I snapped.

"You want to kiss?" He murmured again. I nodded.

"Y-yes."

"Should of thought of that before you tricked me into a date with those two mouth breathers." He grinned, pulling back.

Jerkwad!

 

Chapter Text

 

No missions for the last few days. Either it was a quiet period or I wasn't told if there were missions. It suited me just fine, really. I'd been able to build a tentative bridge with Collette and that was ok.

We'd arranged the weird double date for Saturday. Chris was still going along with this and I got the sense he was only doing so for my benefit. I realised he, maybe, didn't like humans that much. I was an exception so that made me feel very special.

Saturday arrived and I found myself in my room with Victoria. She had seemed so subdued. I guessed she thought she'd be all alone again and I felt really sorry for her. I wanted to reassure her, but wasn't sure how to go about it.

"You and Chris could just go on a date together. Forget all this crap." She said, digging around in my closet.

"I guess we could. I just want to make everything all right." I replied, and she nodded.

I liked Victoria. She understood things and that was awesome. She pulled out one of my jumpers. It was the one with cartoon cats on and she stifled a giggle. She held it up and I shrugged.

"I bet he'd love this." She laughed then.

"Hey, shut up. I never said I was good at fashion." I fought back, weakly.

I settled on the jumper with thick tights and boots. Victoria vanished and reappered with a bag. I stared at it and she grinned.

"Let me do your make-up." She said. It wasn't a question. She might have held me down.

"I don't really wear make-up." I said.

It was true. I did, however, spend a lot of time watching videos on YouTube of how to contour and do perfect eyeliner wings. I had tried once and ended up looking like a clown. I agreed and Victoria sat in front of me.

It was weird having someone do your make-up. I didn't know what she was doing. The whole process took about twenty minutes and she finally pulled back and smiled.

"Done. Have a look." She said.

I got up and walked to the small mirror on my desk. I blinked a couple of times. The make-up was understated and natural. I smiled a little and Victoria appeared next to me, looking proud. Her phone beeped and she removed it from her jean pocket.

"It's twelve. You need to head off." She said, and then sighed.

Victoria walked me to the stairs of the dorm. She seemed to like Chris. When she opened the doors he was seated on the brick railing.

"Someone decided to change things up." She grinned.

It was true. Chris had shaved the sides of his head. There were several little spikes jutting out from the top of his head on either side. I walked in front of him and he smiled.

"Wow, you look different." I blurted.

"Good different." He replied, smiling.

He was dressed casual again in a jacket also covered in spikes. Victoria was looking on in wide eyed fascination.

"You two look like complete opposites." She said.

"Opposites always attract." Chris replied. He actually smiled at Victoria.

I blushed at that and my face flushed even more when he gripped my chin, angling my face to see my make-up. I couldn't really tell what he was thinking. I managed a shy smile.

"Cute." He chuckled.

Victoria gave me a hug just before we left and wished us luck. I got the sense we'd need it. Chris took my hand and we walked together. It hadn't snowed in a few days and the sky was a bleak grey colour.

"Excited?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, can't you tell." Chris replied.

We got to Bewitched early and sat in one of the booths. I was sorely tempted to reach up and touch one of those spikes on his head. My arm extended and I pressed one.

"Having fun?" Chris asked, lips tilting into a smirk.

"I-i was just curious." I replied, snapping my hand back.

"Be as curious as you want." He said, eyes locking onto mine.

Our little moment was interrupted by the dinging of the bell above the door. Collette and Hunter had arrived. Collette looked eager whereas Hunter looked beyond bored. His default look. Collette rushed over and smiled. I gave her a hug which she returned. She let go and looked at Chris.

"You must be Chris." She gushed.

"Yeah, nice to meet you." Chris replied, surprising me by being polite.

He didn't reach out and accept Collette's hand shake though. She seemed to realise, but sat down. Hunter sat next to her. He didn't look at me or Chris. This must have been severely embarrassing for Hunter.

The waitress appeared and took our orders. It was silent and I sat there in tense apprehension. A cold hand grasped mine and I glanced at Chris. His eyes were observing Collette and Hunter. He noticed me looking at him and smiled.

"So, how did you two meet?" Collette asked.

I hadn't thought about this. What should I say?I couldn't say we met in the Netherworld. Collette would be weirded out.

"Through mutual friends." Chris replied.

Collette looked confused. I could see the wheels whirring in her mind, but she said nothing. The food arrived and the meeting lapsed into silence again. Collette did most of the talking though. Hunter was finally watching us, well, watching Chris.

"Watch out, sweetie." Collette smiled.

Hunter stood and let her pass to go toilet. When she left, his eyes narrowed somewhat. I wondered what insults he'd throw. Chris was leaning on his hands, observing Hunter. The same smirk on his face seemed to be annoying Hunter.

"I think my father would love to meet you, Chris." Hunter said.

"I have no interest in meeting your family." Chris replied.

Uh oh. I glanced at Hunter and he scowled. His features darkening. That same face I'd found handsome was now ugly to me.

"I only mean since you're a demon, right?" Hunter grinned. "Crocell, is it?"

Chris' eyes flashed black for an instant and Hunter chuckled. He then looked to me, grin growing on his face.

"So, you know who I am. Congratulations," Chris smirked, raising a brow. "And what do you intend to do with this information. Check yourself into a secure unit, perhaps."

Hunter's face became a mask of fury. Instead, he looked to me for the first time since this meet up.

"Junko, a demon's name can give your power over them," He sneered, then looked at Chris. "This monster would never tell you because it wants power over you."

"I think you should go, Hunter." I surprised myself by saying.

Hunter shook his head and got up, sliding out of the booth. Collette had finished in the bathroom and was approaching. Hunter streaked past her, grabbing her hand. He paid then dragged her out the door.

"Well, that was entertaining." Chris said, and I looked at him.

"Is-was that your real name?" I asked.

"Yeah, it is. All demons have one." He said, shrugging.

I managed a smile then. I'd seen a few movies about demons. All of them involved some hellish creature possessing an innocent girl. The brave preists would discover the demon's name and cast it out. How had Hunter figured it all out though?

"How did Hunter know?" I asked.

"There are families all over America that practice exorcisms," Chris replied. "If Hunter's last name is either Jacoby or Samuels then he's part of one of the biggest families."

"I think it's Samuels." I said, and Chris glanced at me.

"Derek Samuels is a fanatic." Chris smirked.

I'd never heard Hunter speak of his family. All I knew was that we had more enemies now. More to worry about. Would Hunter's father come here and hurt Chris? A cold trail of fear danced down my spine.

"Will they come here? You know, to hurt you?" I squeaked.

"I'm 840 years old. They've tried before. They'll try again," Chris said, shrugging. "I'm bored here."

We paid and left. I tried to ignore the looks people were shooting our way. Chris seemed to ignore them a lot easier than I did. I guess I still wasn't used to being in a relationship. It had been about two months that we'd been together.

"Happy two months anniversary." I smiled.

"Does that qualify as a long time to you?" Chris asked.

"Yes, considering the circumstances." I snapped.

His brown eyes flicked down to me and he smiled, interlocking our fingers.

"Happy anniversary then." He said.

 

*********************

 

"If a human spirit is grounded for too long it becomes hostile." Ariana said, reading the large book to me.

This was what she called light reading. I visited the Netherworld on Sunday before college resumed again. Chris had gone somewhere. When I saw her on the grass I rushed over. I longed for her to reveal her interaction with Mike, but so far, she'd been quiet.

"That's when they start becoming poisonous." I said, recalling when the Lady of Springwood had cut me with her nails.

"Yep, if it cuts another human, the grey death begins." She stated, shutting the book.

That was morbid. Her gaze lapsed across the way towards Debbie's house and I waited for her to lay her cards on the table. Come on, Ariana.

"Did you speak to him?" I asked.

"I-i tried. He ignored me." She said, voice cracking.

Ouch, that seemed kind of cruel. I suddenly felt an intense loathing for this guy. How could he let prejudice colour his view of her. So what if she was part angel. Did that even matter?

"Well, ain't this a sight." I recognised that voice anywhere.

Eric had appeared, flanked by Evangeline. Her head was lowered and I glared at Eric. He was standing, hands on his hips, smirking down at Ariana.

"Good Morning, Sir." She stood, bowing slightly.

"Pathetic, little angel," He sneered.

"Is that anyway to treat a girl?" Keith had appeared.

He was shorter than Eric, but that didn't stop him. Ariana turned and glanced at Keith, smiling a little. Eric looked unimpressed and started to walk away.

"I have a mission for you, angel," He hissed. "With any luck you won't return alive."

Evangeline looked at Ariana and reached out, patting her shoulder in kindness. Ariana lifted her arm and pressed the panels on her bracelet. Her eyes went wide at seeing the mission and she slumped a little.

"What's up, Ari?" Keith asked.

"He's sending me to Winchester again." She sighed.

"What? That's insane. That place is crawling with ghosts. Some of them are so full of venom that humans have died." Keith snapped.

"I can't clear it properly. Last time a little girl died." She sniffed.

"What if more than one person cleared it?" I asked.

They both looked at me. Ariana sighed and shuffled nervously. Keith walked towards me and touched my shoulder.

"Eric gets really pissed if other legions help." He whispered.

"That's not fair." I said, voice rising.

I walked towards Ariana and took her hands. She looked shocked by my sudden actions. I knew just what to do.

 

********************

 

"Winchester, Junko? Really?" Chris had arrived back and I'd sort of barged into his office.

Ariana had come with me and she seemed ill at ease inside the other legion house. No one paid her any mind apart from unofficial members of the legion like new recruits. Keith had come with us. He was leaning against the far wall, watching, possibly enjoying the show.

"Ariana can't do this alone." I said.

"How many times has he sent you there?" Chris asked Ariana.

She jumped, face tinting red. I guessed she wasn't used to a legion leader responding with concern and kindness.

"Three times, Sir," She said. "Last time I was responsible for something bad."

"I did hear what happened. It wasn't your fault at all. Don't let Eric convince you otherwise," Chris replied.

I glanced at Chris and he met my gaze very quickly, eyes darkening slightly. I looked away and back to Ariana. She looked determined.

"I'll speak to Lemmy and Debbie. We could probably send a few people with you." Chris said.

Ariana's eyes widened and she blinked, eyes glassing over a little. She bowed and said thank you a lot. Keith pushed away from the wall. Before I could react though, she'd rushed over and was hugging me.

"Can Junko come with me?" Ariana asked.

"I'll think about it." Chris replied, and she smiled.

Keith patted my shoulder and led Ariana away. Why did I get the feeling I had been duped?

"S-sorry I interfered." I mumbled.

"You're very good at it." Chris murmured.

He stood and walked towards me. Our eyes met until I glanced at the floor. He leaned down, closing the distance and kissing me. I squeaked at the contact and parted my lips. Ths kiss deepened and we ended up on the couch. When we pulled apart my breathing was heavy and my lips felt swollen.

"Can I ask a question?" I sat up, leaning my head on Chris' shoulder.

"You're going to anyway." He chuckled, using his hand to move my hair from my face.

"What if I wanted to give you my soul?" I said.

"Then it wouldn't be a well thought out decision." He replied, lowering his hand to trace down my arm.

"How long would it take to make a decision like that?" I pestered.

"How long is forever." He murmured, lips tracing my neck.

I gasped when he started sucking the skin, nipping every now and then. My head tilted to the side, allowing him access. His hand continued downwards and skimmed my breast through the material of my dress. I whimpered, face heating up at the sound.

"W-we could at least discuss it." I gasped when he squeezed my breast.

"Or you could be a good girl and listen for once." He replied, teeth grazing my neck again.

I suddenly felt really warm and my skin prickled. Chris' hand paused in its movements and I thought he'd stopped for good until he pulled my hands so I was on his lap, facing him. A nervous sweat broke across my body. I'd never done this before. My hands trembled.

"Sorry, I'm nervous." I said, shakily.

"It's ok. Just get used to being close." Chris replied.

"How long have I got?" I mumbled.

"Forever." He smiled this time.

I managed to smile back and couldn't help the feeling of giddyness in my chest. It felt like my heart was going to burst through. I felt light-headed and my emotions were running wild. Was I falling in love?

 

Chapter Text

 

College started again on Monday and thankfully it was a half day to begin with. I'd already managed to stumble down some stairs and end up in the medical room. No injuries, so lucky me. When classes ended I went straight to the quad.

Keith was already waiting for me. He'd bleeped me earlier and was shifting his weight from one foot to the other. Someone was clearly excited for this.

"Wait till you see this place, Junko." He grinned.

He pressed a few panels on his bracelet and I held his hand. The journey from here lasted less than a minute and when my eyes opened we were standing on a grass verge. Keith tapped my shoulder. I turned and looked up.

Winter sun was peeking behind the clouds and I gasped. Keith wasn't kidding. This place was huge, sprawling. I couldn't see how many acres of land it sat on, but the front view was breath-taking.

"Sarah Winchester kept adding rooms to accomodate all the victims of her husband's rifle company," Keith explained. "There are doors that lead to nowhere. It's some trippy shit."

"And the ghosts?" I asked.

"So many of them. Every year or so, one of the ghosts becomes dangerous and needs to be gotten rid of." He said.

We waited on the grass. It wasn't raining today so that was a relief. Someone appeared across the way and I recognised the small figure as Ariana. She was walking across the grass. As she got closer, her expression was nervous.

"Ari looks worried." Keith said, softly.

"We'll look after her, right." I smiled, and he nodded.

"Hey." She sighed as she paused before us.

I soon discovered where her worry stemmed from. Legion leader Debbie had sent Mike along with us. He arrived and said hello to Keith. I managed a smile at him and he nodded. He did look at Ariana, but said nothing. Well, this just became so awkward.

Lemmy had also sent someone too. A guy was ambling towards us. His hair was dark brown, swept sideways. He was pretty cute in a charming sort of way.

"Keith," He smiled. Keith nodded at him.

"Junko, this is Paul." Ariana introduced us.

"A pleasure to meet you." Paul said.

His accent was thick and British. My eyes flicked to Mike. He was looking at Ariana. She didn't seem to be aware though. She was tinkering with her bracelet. The wind was toying with her hair, making it ghost about her soft features. She glanced up and he looked away. Wow, subtle.

We started walking towards the house. The guys walked together, discussing training. Ariana walked beside me. She didn't look at Mike. This must have been so awkward for her.

"He was looking at you a minute ago." I whispered, and her eyes widened.

"Probably nothing." She replied.

I got the sense she didn't really believe me. What had actually happened when they'd tried to converse.

"What happened when you guys spoke?" I asked, and she bit her lip.

"I waited till he left the legion house with Kellin and walked over. I said hello, he looked at me then walked away." She replied.

My gaze went over my shoulder. I'd just made it obvious what I was doing because Paul smiled.

"It's rude to gossip." He chuckled.

We got to the door and knocked. I noticed a poster across the way, advertising tours around this creep hole. The door flew open and a girl was standing on the other side. Her eyes went to Keith, then to the rest of us.

"Welcome to The Winchester Mystery House, please follow me." She said.

The house was just as weird on the inside. We were in a beautiful foyer. There were lots of archways that led to other places in the house. The hairs on the back of my neck rose. It felt like this place was so haunted that the ghosts had their own gravitational pull.

The girl was rambling on. We were allowed to explore, but to be careful as this place was like a maze and some areas were still unknown. As luck would have it, Keith stuck me with Ariana and Mike. Great, just great.

"Up here." I said.

"Leads to nowhere." Mike stated.

The stairs I had discovered trailed up and I poked my head under to find they stopped at a dead end in the ceiling. We found more like that. Doors that opened to nothing, windows that led into small rooms and random rooms.

At one point I was left with Mike whilst Ariana explored one of the window rooms. I glowered at him. His green eyes flicked down to me.

"Seriously, what is your problem?" He asked.

"How come you ignored Ariana the other day." I snapped.

"Maybe because she's an orphan angel and I'm a demon. Unlike her, I don't have the luxury to date who I like." He shot back.

I pressed my lips together in a thin, displeased line. I knew legion leaders were from fairly elite families, but the actual demons in the legions seemed a mish-mash of social groups. Why should it matter that Ariana was an orphan?

"Plus we have nothing in common." He said.

"Opposites always attract." I quoted, then looked away.

Chris had said that. He'd smiled as he'd said it. I missed that smile everyday that I wasn't with him. My heart pounded in my ears. The other night I had looked up what to do when you fall in love. I'd ended up reading stupid articles and revelling in how many of the symptoms I had.

Mike opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, Ariana had slid out of the room. She paused and glanced between us. Her eyes lingered on Mike then she looked away again, pretending she wasn't looking. He must have noticed because he frowned then.

"I could feel something when I was in that room. I think we need to go up a floor." She said, turning to walk away.

We both follwed. It took about fifteen minutes of looking to locate stairs that didn't lead to nowhere. The next floor was just as weird though. I'd decided that I hated this house. The corridor we were in stretched around a bend. Something skittered behind me and I whipped round.

"What's wrong?" Ariana asked.

"I-i thought I heard something." I mumbled.

Mike's bracelet bleeped and he pressed one of the panels.

"Hey guys, we're in the basement. There's scratches everywhere down here," Keith said. "They lead to a laundry shoot. This ghost has been travelling through it."

The air felt thick and something cold touched my neck. I leapt back, yelping. A woman was stooped behind me. Her black hair was lank and trailing along the floor. Black venom was dotted along the carpet.

With a deafening wail, she lunged and started clawing the air. Ariana leapt in front of me. I was eager to see what she could do. Angels must have different powers. Ariana drew her hand through the air. A beautiful bow appeared. She grasped the middle of the bow, gripping the string. A pure, white arrow appeared. With a snap of her wrist, the arrow fired.

The ghost howled as it was struck. It reeled back, lunging again, like a predator. A gun shot echoed and i realised Mike had removed one of the guns from his holster. The shot was good and sent the ghost careening backwards. It landed without a sound, but was still here, hissing like a feral animal.

Ariana pulled the string again and fired another arrow while the ghost was distracted. This one connected with the ghost's crooked arm. It moved like a spider and launched itself at Ariana. She jumped back, but the ghost was fast and slashed at her with a claw-like hand.

"No." I whimpered.

My instincts kicked in and I pushed her sideways. We both went stumbling into a wall, but the ghost's attack had not connected. The ghost seemed to sense weakness and flew at us again. I closed my eyes and braced myself for the moment when those venomous claws touched my skin. Nothing happened.

I peeked through a slit in my eye. My vision was blurred and I opened my eye more. Mike was in front of us. His arm was raised above his head. The ghost's nails were embedded in his arm, slicing straight through his jacket. Venom dripped down and the ghost let go, jumping backwards, circling.

Mike slumped down, gripping his arm. Someone whimpered next to me and I glanced at Ariana. Her eyes were shining with unshed tears. I looked to the ghost. It had us on the run. Ariana crawled round me and in front of Mike. She gripped his arm and her fingers seemed to be trembling.

A gunshot echoed and I lifted my head in time to see Keith and Paul. Paul was the one who had shot the ghost, catching it in the back of its head. It circled round, snarling at them.

"Come on, sweetheart." Keith grinned.

The ghost side-stepped and Keith lifted his hand. He had a knife. He launched it like a dart and it hit the ghost right between the eyes. Venom leaked everywhere, but the ghost finally disintegrated. I looked at Mike. The edges of his neck were turning blue. Keith sensed my unease. He appeared next to me.

"Let Ari do her thing." He smiled, winking at me.

Ariana had closed her bare hands over Mike's arm. A soft, pink light shone from her hands. It grew brighter, more luminous. The injuries were disappearing and the blue tinges on Mike's neck were vanishing. I gasped when a pair of white wings sprouted from her back. Once the injuries were gone, the pink glow disappeared and the wings curled inwards.

"And that is why we have angels." Keith said.

Ariana moved her hands and seemed to realise where she was sitting. She got up really quickly and stumbled back. Her face was bright red.

"S-sorry, got carried away." She mumbled.

I stared at her and realised her symptoms mirrored mine. Her small hands were still trembling and she looked pale. She'd used so much energy to make sure Mike was safe. She didn't just like him, she loved him.

"You did awesome." Keith said, and she nodded.

I glanced at Mike to find he was watching her. He stood, eventually. Keith held out a hand to me.

"You all right?" He asked, as he helped me up.

"Y-yeah, it's just sad." I murmured.

Keith seemed to register my meaning and his gaze followed Ariana's retreating form. She hadn't waited for the rest of us. It was like she'd realised that she'd inadvertatly shown her soul to everyone. It was beautiful and heart-breaking all at once.

When we got outside it was raining, but it was light and fine. I took a look at Ariana. She was standing across the way. Her colour was returning, but she was looking everywhere, but avoiding looking at us. She scrubbed her eyes, urgently. I walked forward and was stopped by Paul. He smiled then and nodded. Mike was actually walking towards her.

Were they going to talk? I smiled then and watched as he touched her arm. She looked stunned, eyes widening and she looked behind her, like she thought he wanted to talk to the tree across the way and had gotten the two of them mixed up. Their conversation was quiet and neither one was giving anything away.

"You coming back to see Chris?" Keith asked.

"Y-yeah, I miss him." I replied, and he smiled too.

"Aww, is he all you think about?" He grinned.

"For your information I think about other stuff." I retorted.

I also wanted to grill Ariana. She and Mike had stopped talking and he was walking back to us. She joined and stood next to me.

When we got back Ariana waited till Keith and Paul were gone. She glanced at Mike and he smiled and walked away.

"So?" I asked.

"We talked and agreed to go on a date." She smiled then, wide, joyous.

"Really? That's amazing." I couldn't help but grin too.

"I need to go get ready." She said, sounding nervous.

I watched her go and started walkiing towards the legion house. I could hear someone walking behind me and the person followed me inside. I turned to say hello, only to come face-to-face with Ashley. She must have been coming back from a mission, but her severe gaze made me think otherwise.

 

Chapter Text

 

My mouth seemed to have stopped working. Was she going to speak to me or simply glare daggers at me? Why'd she hate me, anyways? I offered a smile and started to walk away and then she finally spoke.

"It won't work, you know." She sighed then.

I paused at her words, soft spoken and yet still slightly bitter. I shuffled nervously, wanting to walk away and ignore her completely. Instead, I waited to hear if she'd say more.

"I know you've been going on missions," Ashley continued. "You're putting everyone you go with in danger."

I had considered this often. I was more a liability than anything. I'd managed to get people injured, but hearing it from her made it worse. I was talking before I could stop myself.

"I'll learn to defend myself then." I murmured.

She chuckled then, "You can't defend yourself. Humans are weak. Always have been, always will be."

I'd heard enough and started to ascend the stairs.

"You'll end up just like Sabrina." She said, and then I heard her heels clicking away.

I had paused on the first step, eyes prickling. However, instead of feeling sad, I knew what I had to do. My feet carried me to the top of the stairs and along the corridor. I knocked on the office door and opened it. When I saw Chris, my heart fluttered, but I had to be determined.

"I-i want to be trained for missions." I demanded.

"Good afternoon to you too," He chuckled. I kind of expected him to say no, call me weak. "Ok then."

"What? Really?" I said, blinking dumbly at him.

"Yes, really."

**********************

 

This was the worst. I'd ended up coming to the training room straight after lectures. I'd borrowed some sweatpants from Victoria and paired them with a t-shirt. I'd tied my hair back. Andy had trained me last time so he'd probably be my mentor again. Poor him.

I didn't expect my boyfriend to walk through the door. He even looked hot in sweatpants and a plain, black t-shirt. I noticed his piercings were ever present.

"You should take them out, maybe," I faltered when Chris smirked. "It would hurt if I managed to snag one."

"That's assuming you manage to do any damage to me." He grinned.

I narrowed my eyes at him. I guessed I wasn't really in the same league as a legion leader, but did he have to be so smug about it. My lower lip jutted out and he laughed.

"I'll have you know I'm very dangerous." I snapped.

"You don't say. I always thought you were like a mouse." He replied, dodging when I threw a nearby volleyball at him.

Most of the techniques I learned were defensive and involved rolling away or avoiding attacks. I knew ghosts could touch things, but I also knew it took a lot of energy to do so.

"I can move out the way. What about offensive stuff?" I said.

"I'd rather you didn't run straight into danger." Chris replied, sitting down.

I pouted again and grinned. He'd turned his back on me. I snuck closer and lifted my hands. I got right behind him. I was so close I could see the glint of the spikes on his head and see how soft his hair was. I lowered my hands just below his shoulders. How ticklish were demons?

Before I could do anything, he'd looked round, smirking at me.

"I knew you were there." He said.

"Shut up. I scared you." I smiled, reaching out to tickle him.

He grabbed my hand, yanking me closer so I was on his lap. He tickled me and I started laughing.

"N-no, stop it. T-this isn't fair." I gasped between laughter.

Somehow I managed to twist my body and face him. Our eyes met as my giggles subsided. Our noses were inches apart and my eyes quickly avoided his. His lips touched mine and I parted my lips willingly. My hands slid round his shoulders.

I had almost forgotten that I was on top of him until his hands slid down. I gasped when he squeezed the backs of my legs, pressing me closer. I was soon lowered onto the training mats with Chris on top of me. Our lips were still connected. His hand was still holding my leg, pressing us closer.

We pulled apart, reluctantly. I knew my face was warm and flushed. His pupils had nearly dilated till they were black. He seemed to be fighting for control.

"Tell me to stop." He said, voice slightly deeper.

A part of me really wanted to carry on and see how far we'd go, but another side of me was worried. Something was niggling at the back of my mind. It must have shown on my face because he frowned.

"D-do you love me?" I asked.

He pulled back, sitting slightly away from me. He hadn't replied and I sat up too. It had been a few months. What was the benchmark for love? I had read that people say it when they feel it. I'd been feeling it for a couple of weeks now.

"I care about you." Chris said.

"Oh." I murmured.

My throat felt thick and I swallowed. Chris shifted closer and I let him bring me onto his lap again. My head pressed against his chest. I could smell him.

"I would rather fall in love slowly, get to know you properly." He said, gripping my chin so we could look at each other.

"Did you and Sabrina fall in love slowly?" I asked, and his eyes flashed with melancoly, but it disappeared.

"No, we fell too quickly." He replied.

I barely heard the footsteps till someone cleared their throat. I glanced round to see Lemmy staring at us. He was grinning, like he'd discovered something he shouldn't.

"How adorable." He snickered.

Chris narrowed his eyes and Lemmy held up his free hand, the one not clutching a glass of whiskey.

"Sorry to bother you both. Eric called a meeting," Lemmy sighed then. "Thought you should know."

I glanced at Chris and he rolled his eyes. I clambered off him and he stood. I stayed seated on the mat.

"When for?" Chris asked.

"Right now. This second." Lemmy stated.

"Well, I'd like to get changed first, or is that not allowed." Chris snapped.

Lemmy chuckled and nodded. Chris glanced at me, leaning down and pressing a sweet kiss to my lips. I smiled and felt my cheeks heat up. Chris stood and joined Lemmy. I watched them go and sighed, laying back on the mat.

The training room ceiling was open, revealing the purple sky, streaked with red. I laid there for a while, just watching the sky.

 

*******************

2 Hours earlier

"May God have mercy on your soul." The man said.

The demon screamed and disintegrated, ash scattering across the pathway. The man sighed, closing the bible with a snap of his wrist. The young preist with him was smiling.

"That was amazing, Father Samuels," The man beamed. "Truely a sight to behold."

"Indeed it is. There is nothing more purifying than destroying these foul creatures." Father Samuels replied, glancing skywards.

The sky above had darkened considerably, turning almost blood red as day time transitioned into night. Father Samuels seated himself on the back of his pick-up truck. His eyes went to the house where that monster had been loitering.

He'd heard rumours of this house. Local legend stated it was haunted. He sighed, wearily. If such a thing was true then he would be the one to solve the problem. The young preist had sat down too.

"How goes your son's schooling?" He asked.

"Very well, although it perplexes me." Father Samuels admitted.

"How so?" The young preist asked.

"My son studies sports," Father Samuels said. "I rather hoped he would take after myself."

"Yes, it is rather disappointing when children do not adhere to the plans laid out for them." The young preist agreed.

"Indeed, however my son has proved himself useful," Father Samuels smiled then. "He has informed me that Crocell has emerged. Not only that, but he holds a young girl within his grasp."

The young priest gasped, dramaticially. If he was a stranger then it could be said that the gasp was put on, but the young priest meant every word of his devouteness. Father Samuels stood, unscrewing the cap on his hip flask, taking a long swig. He screwed the top back on and tucked it back into his pocket.

"May the blood of Christ cleanse us." Father Samuels said, solemnly.

The two of them climbed into the truck and Father Samuels marked a circle on the map laid out on the dashboard. He put the truck into drive and they pulled away from the house.

A screech of fury rose from the house as they drove away and a claw mark appeared on the window, black venom streaking the glass and corroding it.

 

Chapter Text

 

My joints ached. I'd spent the last twenty-four hours training. Hayley had seen me exercising and had taken it upon herself to help me. She's worked me until I could barely stand. Instead I'd found myself lying on the my bed, wishing that I hadn't been so eager to learn how to defend myself.

My phone bleeped and I eyed it, warily. Collette had messaged me a few times, possibly to arrange a meet-up, but I was in no mood for it. Now I was the one doing the avoiding. Afer what Hunter had said I was afraid of something happening to Chris. Like Hunter might pull his Dad out of his pocket like a Pokemon. Crazed Dad, I choose you.

Eventually I'd have to get up and have a shower so I dragged myself from the bed and left the safety of my room. The hallways were abuzz that Saturday morning. Victoria waved at me as I slouched by.

"Lightweight." She laughed.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm not used to exercise." I groaned.

I promptly dumped my stuff on the bench outside the shower cubicle and stipped. There were a few bruises on my body, but I ignored them. I turned the shower on and yelped when the water gushed out cold. Once it was warm I slipped under the stream and washed my aching body.

My eyes closed and I thought about everything. My mind was a frantic mixture of emotions and I sighed. Once I'd finished I dried myself and put my Minions PJs back on. Time to slope back to my pit for a well deserved rest. The hallways were quiet again and I opened my dorm door.

Two seconds was all it took to notice the figure seated on my bed. A further two seconds to realise it was Michael.

"My God, you scared the crap outta me." I sputtered.

"Pathetic." He muttered.

"Excuse me!?" I shreiked. "You're in my room."

He shrugged and stared round my dorm room, glancing at the framed photo's of my family, brown eyes trailing over the stuffed toys and then back to me.

"Nice place." He said, noncommitally.

"Why do I not believe you?" I snapped.

Michael certainly was an interesting demon. Why was he even here? Last time he'd stuck up for me. He seemed like someone that didn't open up very easily.

"Why are you here anyways?" I asked, dumping my shower gel on the desk.

"To take in the scenary." He smirked then. Hmm, infuriating.

"Ha ha sarcasm."

"I need your help." He said, surprising me.

My help? I parted my lips and his dark eyes narrowed so I closed my mouth. I wasn't expecting this.

"What do you want my help for?" I found myself asking.

"Do you know what a possession demon is?" He sighed then.

Chris had told me about those sorts of demons. The sort that never stopped possessing humans. They enjoyed it and didn't want to follow anyone but themselves.

"Yeah, I've heard of them." I replied.

"I have a friend that needs help and I can't get too close." He said, looking at me again.

"This friend is human, right?" I grinned.

"Yes, she's human." He grumbled.

My smile grew wider and he glowered at me. I sat on the chair in front of my desk and scooted closer towards him.

"How come you can't stop it?" I pressed, and he shifted nervously.

"Because she likes him and thinks he's her friend. She doesn't realise that he's after her soul."

He was no longer looking at me and I realised that he must care about this girl a great deal to want to help her like this. I guessed I'd have to earn her trust and get her to be my friend. I was pretty socially awkward but it seemed reasonable.

"Sure, I can help." I replied, and Michael nodded.

For once he was quiet, almost contemplative. Dark eyes downcast to stare at his boots. He shifted again and his belts clinked.

"You're a good person." I smiled.

He smiled then, still not looking at me, "Don't tell anyone that."

 

***********************

 

My mission was to befriend this girl. Easier said than done. Although I thought I recognised her when Michael showed me a picture.

"I know her!" I yelped, and he recoiled.

We had sat on the steps once I'd gotten dressed. The girl in the photo was Sophie. I recognised her from when Keith and I had searched the music rooms. I glanced at the picture again. Her eyes were soft and kind, green flecked with blue. The same circle glasses sat on her nose. Her blonde hair was slightly darker than Collette's.

"Well, she does go to this college." He replied.

"She likes music. Keith and I met her." I continued. My quizzical gaze fell on Michael again.

"I saved her one night." Michael said.

"That's incredible. " I grinned, and he looked away.

Sophie seemed a fairly easy person to approach. To say I was over confident was the under statement of the century. Michael seemed really on edge though.

"I made friends with her and ended up looking out for her since her parents died." He said, almost sadly.

I knew I had to do this. That afternoon I made my way to the music room where I'd last seen Sophie. It was easy to find her, seated on a chair, playing the violin. I paused in the doorway and watched. I waited till she'd stopped and lowered the instrument, clapping as I entered. Her bright eyes looked up, landing on me.

"Oh, hello." She beamed.

"You remember me?" I asked.

"Yes, I do. You were here with Keith that time." She smiled again. My smile faltered when I realised Keith hadn't told her his name.

"I thought I'd pay you a visit." I murmured.

"Thank you. We could get a coffee together sometime." She sighed, setting the violin in the case.

"That sounds great." I replied.

A shadow darted across the wall and vanished into the corner. I pretended I hadn't seen it. My eyes went back to Sophie. She was clutching her case and smiling again.

"How about today? I'm free all day," She questioned. I nodded. "Cool, I'll just nip to the toilet and then we can go."

She left and my nerves were alight, screaming for me to make an excuse and go to the bathroom with her.

"Well, aren't you a cutie." A voice said.

My gaze went to the shadows and I saw him, leaning against the wall. A tall guy with blond hair and bright eyes. A trail of blood leaked from the side of his mouth to his chin. I back-stepped and he moved away from the wall and approached me. Like a cat stalking a mouse.

"Did Michael ask you to come and see us?" He smirked.

I pressed my lips into a thin line and his smirk grew more devious. His hand reached out and was a breath away from my face when he paused, frowning.

"I see you and Crocell are good friends." He regained his momentum, grinning again.

"What do you want with Sophie?" I snapped, trying to keep my cool.

"I want what every demon wants, petal," He had leaned down so his breath fanned my ear. "Even your demon lover wants it. Why don't you ask him how much he craves your soul."

I jumped back and glared at him. He stood to full height, still grinning. There was something quite sinister about him.

"Leave Sophie alone." I hissed.

"I have no desire to do that, petal," He smirked then. Creep. "Her life is a dream and I want that dream to end."

There was something quite melancholic about the way he said that. I parted my lips and stepped back.

"I'm not leaving Sophie." I said, and he quirked a brow.

"You will eventually." He shrugged and I glowered at him.

"I'm back." Sophie's happy voice cut through our conversation.

I looked back to find the demon was gone. My face must have gone pale because Sophie grasped my hand and looked worried.

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah, totally fine." I murmured.

We left the music rooms behind. Sophie walked next to me, chatting away. I nodded and offered agreements here and there. This might be more difficult than I'd anticipated. We sat in the cafe outside of college and ordered drinks.

"What made you want to visit me?" Sophie asked once we'd got our drinks.

"You seemed really sweet and I wanted to be friends." I replied. Her face lit up.

She was very similar to myself and I liked that. I'd spent so much time with Collette that I hadn't noticed how badly she treated me sometimes. It was blessing that Sophie and I had become friends again. I felt like I was being observed. My gaze flicked to the window and I noticed the blond demon watching me.

His head was slightly bent forward, blond hair slightly obscuring his face. His eyes were a light brown and glaring at me. Yep, cause that's not the creepiest thing ever. My gaze went back to Sophie.

"The dreams were weird, ya know," She was saying. "There's always a blond guy. He's beautiful."

She probably assumed her relationship with ol' crazy eyes was a dream and nothing more. If she had no idea then this would be harder than I thought. My eyes flicked towards the window and the blond guy grinned at me.

"I think Keith would like to see you again." I smiled.

"Really? That would be, wow, just wow." She gushed.

"Very clever, petal. Maybe I'm with the wrong human." A sly voice whispered in my ear.

"I could talk to Keith and you guys could hang out." I ignored Blondie and focused on Sophie.

She seemed happier now and was talking about meeting Keith again. I smiled and sideways looked at the blond guy. He looked annoyed and glared at me. Sophie and I finished our drinks. She nearly hugged the life out of me when she left. I watched her go and was about to leave when an icy hand pulled me into the alley.

The blond guy had clamped his hand over my mouth. Those eyes were staring into my soul. His face broke into a grin again.

"Think you're clever, petal?" He smirked.

"Smarter than you." I shot back when he lowered his hand.

"So smart you didn't arrange to walk home with anyone. The streets are dangerous, petal." He replied.

"Yeah, I might get attacked by a weirdo like you." I snapped.

"The jokes practically write themselves." He shrugged then. Tangental much.

A car engine roared nearby and we both paused. Something wasn't right. A man appeared in the mouth of the alleyway. He was a figure of average height, clutching a book. My eyes squinted. I glanced at the blond guy to find he was watching the stranger.

"Demon." The man spoke with such ferocity.

The puzzle pieces seemed to be slotting together. I pushed Blondie away and stepped in front of him. The man appeared to be walking closer until his features were no longer obscured by the Winter sunlight. This man looked like Hunter, an older version, but still.

"Stay back." I yelled.

The man, Derek Samuels, stepped towards me. His eyes were crazed and I took a slight back step. I glanced round to find Blondie was watching. Michael probably hadn't anticipated this happening.

"Step aside, young lady," Derek Samuels stated, eyes trained on the blond demon. "That creature deserves God's divine punishment."

"Who are you to decide that?" I snapped, and he faltered, stunned for a moment.

"I am God's prophet. A messenger and I have his almighty blessing." Derek said.

I refused to move. Derek's idyllic expression became hostile. His features became ugly, mottled with fury. Reaching into his suit he removed a serrated blade. My heart leapt to my throat as he lunged at me.

His hands didn't touch me as Blondie leapt forward and pushed Derek back, sending the man flying out of the alleyway. His cold hand snatched mine and we ran. Derek wouldn't be down for long. My breath caught in my throat when Blondie scooped me up and leapt into the air.

We landed with a crash into a nearby store. The people inside, a man in an apron and a woman with greying hair, looked stunned by us. I supposed this sort of thing didn't happen very often.

"Get out." The woman said.

She looked like she'd swallowed something very bitter. I started apologising and Blondie looked like he couldn't care less. It was my turn to grab his hand and run. The streets seemed to stretch on forever. The growl of Derek Samuels car was behind us, a few blocks by the sound of it.

I lifted my arm to press the panels on my bracelet, snatching Blondie's hand in time for us to vanish into the Netherworld and land face first on the grass.

"Ha, I win that bet." Lemmy's laugh greeted my ears.

A groan escaped from my sore throat and I sat up. I'm definitely more bruised than I was. My whole body felt like it had been run over by a steam roller.

"Oh my God, are you all right?" Ariana is above me, Her eyes are frantic.

Blondie is now sitting up and he runs a hand through his hair, eyes flicking towards me. Ariana was sitting in front of me, healing my injuries.

"A possession demon." Lemmy had stepped into focus, glowering at Blondie. "That gets you into big trouble here, kid."

Blondie had the gall to look a little ashamed. His gaze flicked to me again and then back to Lemmy.

"Don't hurt him," My voice is a croak. "He saved me from Derek Samuels."

Lemmy's piercing glare landed on Blondie, who was now wide-eyed and stunned. Derek Samuels is a name that clearly carried some weight because Lemmy nodded and walked away.

"Thank you, pe-I mean-Junko." He mumbled.

"No problem-" I trailed off. He had never supplied a name.

"Pelle." He said, and shifted nervously.

The sky overhead darkened and I knew we had bigger problems than rogue possession demons if Hunter's Dad was already in town.

Chapter Text

 

Human World

That same night

"Insolent, little welp." Derek Samuels screeched, knocking Hunter hard in the stomach.

Hunter doubled over in a bid to protect himself from the blows. He knew they'd stop eventually. His father would relent and give in eventually. Derek landed one final kick to Hunter's abdomen and paused at last.

They had met in an alley way, far from anyones' prying eyes. The young priest sat across the way, taking in the scene, but saying nothing. Hunter struggled to his feet and spat the blood out from where his father had generously punched him in the mouth.

"Fuck you," Hunter seethed, causing Derek's face to darken again. "How was I supposed to know this would happen?"

Derek lunged at his son, after a gulp from his canteen. He grasped Hunter by the scruff of his neck, wrinkling the fabric of his shirt.

"I wanted an audience with that girl. I expected no demons to be around." Derek hissed, face purpling even more so.

He let go and Hunter stumbled again, grasping the wall. The young priest cleared his throat and Derek turned on him.

"Father, perhaps we could go meet this young lady at her dorm." He said, pleasantly.

Derek nodded and clutched his chin between his fingers. Hunter chuckled then, making his father glower at him.

"She's gone. You better believe he's taken her somewhere." Hunter grinned.

Derek took another swig from his canteen, downing the whole thing. Hunter watched in disgust. This man, this creature was his father. He hadn't told Collette, had never spoken of his father.

"Gentlemen, this is very unbecoming." A voice said, causing them all to look to the mouth of the alleyway.

Street lights shone, casting shadows over the figure in the wide brimmed hat at the entrance of the alley.

 

*********************

 

Junko's POV

"What should I do?" I groaned.

Andy had snuck back to my dorm in the early hours to grab a bag and some clothes for me. He'd seen Hunter near the dorms. How bad was this gonna get? How long would I be stuck in the Netherworld.

"Do not worry, Junko," Tris grinned. "His lord highness, Lucifer, welcomes all."

"And college? What about that?" I sighed, slumping my shoulders.

"Why are you whining? You got to meet me." Pelle grinned.

Tris had spent the better part of the morning sorting his paperwork out. She frowned at him and shook her head.

"And how is that a good thing?" Chris asked.

He'd appeared behind me, hands on the back of the chair. Pelle blinked and glanced between Chris and I.

"So, you're my boss now?" Pelle grinned again.

"Unfortunately, yes." Chris replied.

Tris finished the paperwork and handed Pelle his bracelet. He took it and analysed it. He seemed somewhat confused by it.

"It goes on your wrist," Chris smirked. "You know, the part that's attached to your arm and shoulder."

Pelle pouted at him and slipped the bracelet on. I looked up at Chris and he smiled.

"Be nice." I reminded him.

"I'm always nice, Junko." He raised a brow and I blushed.

The door flew open and Andy strolled in. He handed me the bag and smiled. He looked a little anxious though and even Tris had stopped typing to listen to him.

"The dorms were clear when I left, but I know Derek is there somewhere," Andy said, twirling a strand of his hair. "It was the unmistakable stench of vodka and failure."

I knew this meant I was stuck here. My education was at stake. I had two more years left of college. Tris frowned at me and started typing again. She smiled at last.

"I think there is a way you could do your course," She grinned. "Of course it'll be online."

This was good news, but it still left a couple of things unsolved. Collette was still at the college and she was with Hunter. How dangerous would he be to her? Plus Sophie and Victoria were still there. Anything could happen to them? Derek was clearly unpredictable.

"What about Collette?" I asked.

"I think all we can do is wait." Andy replied.

He sounded unsure, but he was right. What choice did we have? Tris stopped typing and sat back.

"So, what super awesome mission can I go on?" Pelle asked.

Andy stared at him, like he'd only just noticed he was there. He glanced at Chris, who rolled his eyes.

"The toilets need cleaning." Chris said.

Andy snorted a laugh. Pelle almost smiled, but stopped himself. I covered my mouth to avoid laughing.

"Seriously." Pelle whined.

"Fine, Andy meet your new trainee." Chris said, sternly.

Andy opened his mouth in silent horror, protest nearly bubbling out of his mouth. Michael picked the perfect time to walk in.

"No way, Michael should train him." Andy protested.

Michael glanced from me, then to Pelle, narrowing his dark eyes. If looks could kill.

"Fuck you," Michael snapped. "I'm not training a possession demon."

Chris was watching them and I waited for him to say something. They bickered for a few more minutes.

"Or you could both clean out the manticore pens." Chris suggested, casually.

Michael's eyes widened and Andy pursed his lips together. Chris smirked at them both, waiting for one of them to break first. I watched on in fascination.

"Ok, fine. I don't want to clean out the manticore pens," Andy lamented. "Those things fuckin' hurt when they bite."

Michael smirked then and handed some paperwork to Tris. She accepted it and laid it on the desk, before standing.

"Break time." She beamed, leaving the room.

Chris leaned down, hugging me a little. I smiled at the sign of affection. Andy rolled his eyes, but smiled. Pelle was staring at us, seemingly putting two and two together.

"Oh my fuck, are you two together?" He yelped.

Andy frowned at him and Michael pressed his palm to his forehead. My face heated up somewhat.

"Does it concern you?" Chris asked. Pelle opened his mouth again. "Of course it doesn't."

He promptly shut his mouth and pouted. Wow, shot down. Chris let go of me and took my hand, leading me away. I waved at Andy, who waved back, smiling. I waved at Michael, who nodded and then Pelle, who looked stunned.

I guessed I'd be staying with Chris. This was a bit more permenant than I'd expected. We got to his room and I set my bag down. The fear was starting to set in now. I sat on the bed, pulling my knees to my chin.

Chris removed his jacket and left it on the chair. He tapped my shoulder, budging me forward so he could sit behind me. I curled into him when his arms wrapped round my shoulders.

"I'm scared." I murmured.

"I know, but everything will work out." He assured me.

I nestled my face into his chest, breathing him in. I was still transfixed by all the tattoos. I reached up and touched the one on his neck. A candle and a coffin. How appropriate.

"What does it say?" I asked.

"I thought you said you studied English." He smirked.

"Think you're so smart." I pouted.

"I always am." He grinned.

Jerkwad. I peered at the tattoo. I was cryin' on Saturday night. How bizarre. I pulled back to think about it.

"Why?" I asked.

"Why not?" He mimicked.

"Don't be a jerk." I shot back.

"You love it." He smirked.

Debatable. I laughed a little and rested my head on his chest again, listening for the heart beat that wasn't there.

"One day will you show me your true form." I murmured.

The sky had darkened to mauve and I saw his adam's apple bob. I'd made him nervous. This was interesting. I wanted to know him and I didn't care.

"Maybe." He replied, pressing a kiss to my head.

I smiled slightly and closed my eyes, comfort giving way to sleep. Every cloud has a silver lining and this was one of them.

 

Chapter Text

 

My life had truly become a horror film. I had been under several illusions about living in the NetherWorld. The first being that I would get to spend all my time with Chris. Nah, that was a definite no-no. He worked all week and I didn't usually see him till night time. My other illusion was regarding my adjustment here.

The NetherWorld was different to my world in many ways. Demons would roam the town past the bases, most of them not in human forms. They were openly hostile to me unless I was with another demon, which meant I had company wherever I went.

The demons that were in a vaguely human form would sneer at me, like I was a piece of living garbage. This made me feel kinda crappy. I spent a lot of time attempting to find some little hidden nook so I could hide from this strange world.

Today I had pushed open a large, wooden door and found a massive hall. It was the kind of place where balls were held. I shut the door and wandered in. The walls were a soft, salmon pink. The floor was so shiny, I could near enough see my own face. Pillars lined the way to a throne across the way.

Probably shouldn't sit on it. I imagined a king seated on it in all his splendor with a queen next to him. I made my way closer and stared at the chandellier on the ceiling. It twinkled softly. It looked like it was made of crystal. I squinted at the mural on the ceiling. I had never seen anything quite like it.

It was something akin to what you might see in a church. There were angels; beautiful and glowing. Then there were demons; gnarled and gruesome. It looked like it was telling a story. I parted my lips in wonder.

"Pretty, isn't it?" A girl spoke from behind me.

I yelped and turned. Ashley was leaning against the wall. How had she found me? Had she been following me? I gasped and pressed a hand to my chest to still my beating heart.

"Don't look so shocked. I used to come here as a child and pretend I was a princess." She said, solemnly.

I nodded and stepped a little closer. Maybe, just maybe we could patch things up. We barely knew each other. I could barely imagine her as a little girl especially since I could barely imagine demons as children.

"The mural is beautiful." I murmured, and she smiled at last.

"Yes, it is. It's an old legend here in the NetherWorld," She said, then paused. I stared at her. "Sorry, I forget you're not from here."

"I'd like to hear it." I replied, and she looked like she might cry.

"O-ok. Once upon a time there were three brothers. One of them was good and just, the other wanted to be just the same and the third longed to not be forgotten. Years passed and the brothers grew. The eldest created many amazing things," She paused, and cleared her throat.

"The middle brother created everything you see before you here. The third brother was forgotten and eventually he fell in love with a mortal woman. The woman only had eyes for the middle brother though."

She sounded whimsical and dreamy as she spoke. I tilted my head and listened. This sounded so far-fetched, but also magical.

"Who were these brothers? Did the third one ever get to be with his beloved?" I badgered her, and she laughed a little.

"The first brother has many names. You humans know him as God, the second is Lucifer, his royal highness and the third-" She petered out.

Lucifer had fallen in love with a human, a woman like me. Ashley sighed and walked towards me. At first I thought she was going to hit me, but instead she took my hand and led me out the door and down several winding hallways. We stopped at a curtain and she pulled a cord.

The curtains ghosted aside and revealed a man with severe brown eyes. His face was angular and I couldn't meet his eyes. Next to him was a woman. Her hair was fair and her eyes were brown, but gentler. In her arms was a bundle. I could see the baby. The portrait was framed in gold and I glanced back to Ashley.

"His royal highness Lucifer and his wife, Elizabeth." She said, stepping next to me.

"And the baby?" I asked, and she raised a brow at me.

"Christopher." She murmured.

The puzzle pieces fit together for me and I pulled my eyes from the baby in Elizabeth's arms. Ashley was watching me again.

"I had no idea." I whispered.

"That is not your fault," She replied, laughing again. "History seems to be repeating itself."

She looked morose now. I thought of her wedding to her betrothed and if she really wanted to marry him.

"You're going to get married." I stated, and she nodded.

"Yes, I am. He's a wonderful demon," Ashley whispered.

But he's not the one I wanted. Her tone said enough and I felt bad for her. She noticed and sighed softly.

"I can accept I've lost," She said, standing slightly taller.

She looked resilient and strong. I envied her that. I was weak and powerless and unworthy. I shifted and she noticed, her face becoming a mask of worry.

"You remind me of me," She whispered, swallowing a little. "Maybe that's why I was so mean."

I angled my face to glance at her and she smiled, sadly. She grasped the cord and the curtains closed, obscuring Lucifer, his wife and child from me. Ashley touched my shoulder and walked away. I watched her go. I turned away from the portrait and walked away.

I didn't glance back. I had found out something that was unexpected. The weight on my shoulders shifted. My thoughts also went to Lucifer's brother. She had faltered. Where had he gone? Was he still around?

The hallways were long and I found myself back in the entrance hall, staring out the window. The sky over head rumbled and I could see groups of legion demons training on the grass or walking to and fro. I tilted my head and watched them.

"Junko?"

I jumped when Chris' hand touched my shoulder. He sat in front of me. I smiled when I saw him. I couldn't help it.

"Sorry, I was just watching the world go by." I murmured.

My eyes shifted downwards towards my lap and he took my hands in his. I swallowed and heaved a sigh.

"Why don't we go and get lunch together." He suggested.

"Really?" I asked, looking at him finally.

He smiled and nodded, reaching up and moving my hair from my face. I followed when he stood and jumped a little when he took my hand.

 

**********************

 

Victoria shifted on the bench. She'd been to Junko's room and knocked twice. No reply. She looked at her phone and at the text she'd sent Junko. Her lips twisted into a pout.

"Hey Vicky." Hunter.

She scowled at hearing his voice. Was he seriously talking to her? She kept glaring at her phone to avoid looking at him. He sat next to her and she shifted away from him.

"Go away." She hissed.

"Now that's no way to speak to your ex, is it?" His tone was mocking.

Victoria stood and rounded on him. She almost gasped when she saw his lower lip was swollen and a purple bruise had formed on his cheek. If he had shown up like this when they were together, she would have worried, been so afraid for him. Now she felt a sick sense of satisfaction.

"Leave me alone." She growled.

She went to turn away and he cleared his throat before she could get two steps away. She halted and waited for whatever biting comment he was going to say.

"So, where's Junko?" He asked, and she frowned.

She opened her mouth, but did not turn around. He had always treated Junko like a blight and a hinderance. Why did he suddenly care so much?

"I don't know." She murmured, and didn't know if he could hear her.

"That's sad. I thought she'd tell you where she went or how she got there." He replied, and she gulped.

Victoria stalked away across the quad. For some reason, she started running, hoping he wouldn't follow. She entered the college main building and peeked out the window. Hunter was still seated on the bench. She watched him for a few minutes and his head shot up and he looked right at her.

Her eyes widened and she ducked down, entire body shaking. When she looked again, he was retreating.

"What're you doing?" A voice said.

She looked round and saw a small bespectled girl looking at her. She was clutching some music textbooks. Victoria tried to smile, but couldn't.

"N-nothing." Victoria replied.

"You know Junko, right?" The girl continued, and Victoria found herself nodding.

"Ok, well then, we need to talk," The girl said, pushing up her glasses. "I'm Sophie, by the way."

Victoria nodded and stood, glancing around, hoping Hunter wouldn't appear. She followed Sophie down a flight of stairs and into the music rooms. She'd never been down here before. Sophie sat on a bench in front of a grand piano.

Victoria grabbed a chair, dragging it across the carpet and sitting in front of Sophie. She waited and took a steadying breath.

"Do you know where Junko is?" Victoria asked.

"Yes, I do know where she is," Sophie said, peeking from beneath her glasses. "You must be prepared though."

Victoria nodded and squared her shoulders. What on earth was going on?

 

Chapter Text

 

"Gone." She murmured.

I found myself in Chris' office that morning. I'd finished a few assignments and sent them off and was now listening to Legion Leader Joan. She was a petit woman with straight, black hair. She took a shaky breath. I had never seen a legion leader nervous, but she had every right to be. She was the second oldest after Chris. She was leaning on her hands, not speaking anymore.

"Gone where, Joan? What were their last co-ordinates?" Lemmy asked, taking a sip of whiskey.

She glanced at him and moved her hands swiftly away from her mouth. Her eyes went to me and she managed a wry smile. Her shoulders were tensed and her foot kept tapping an insistent rhythm against the carpet.

"I sent them to a house in San Diego," She whispered, voice scratchy. "It was a simple mission."

The 'they' she was referring to were two of her legion. Their names were Oli and Ryan. They had been missing now for three days. Next to Joan was Brendon. He was their team mate and Ryan's close friend.

"They should have been back the same day." He intoned.

Lemmy was swirling the whiskey and he sighed. Chris was perched on the edge of his desk, watching. He had barely spoken and I wondered what he was thinking.

"I've got an entire legion afraid of going out." Joan said, sadly. She threaded her fingers together.

"Ryan was a new recruit. He was-" Brendon said, then stopped, shaking his head.

He rested his forehead on his hands, causing tendrils of brown hair to spill over his fingers. I glanced at Chris and he managed a slight smile.

"We could send some of our recruits." Lemmy suggested, then downed his whiskey.

Joan nodded and for a split second she looked as though she might cry. Her vulnerability shone through and I wanted to comfort her so badly.

"I should send some with you." Joan said, quickly.

"No, your team stays here," Lemmy replied. "I will personally lead the mission."

 

*************************

 

This was a mission that I got to go on as well. The house in question was abandonned and was in ruins. It was along a desolate stretch of road surrounded on all sides by forest. Winter was slinking in and I could see my breath.

"Where would they go?" I asked.

"Unsure." Keith replied.

I had lagged behind to speak to him. Chris and Lemmy were leading the group and talking. I couldn't sense any spirits.

"What are the options?" I pressed on, stepping over a nearby root.

"There's two options, really," Danny grinned. He was part of Lemmy's team. "The first is that they deserted. Decided they didn't wanna do this shit anymore."

That was an interesting option. Did legion demons tire of doing this? Did they get bored of protecting ignorant humans?

"And your other theory?" Michael snapped, glancing at Danny.

"Something got them." Ronnie smirked. He was Danny's friend and team mate.

"S-something?" Hayley whispered, gulping.

A bird flew from a tree over head, causing branches to fall away and Hayley yelped, grabbing hold of me. Her grip was like iron, tight and could probably cut off my circulation. The commotion caused Chris and Lemmy to turn around.

Hayley was still gripping my arm, Danny was grinning, sheepishly and Michael was shaking his head. Lemmy shook his head and sat on an upturned tree.

"Let's take five." He murmured.

Everyone relaxed. I glanced back at the direction where the house was. Eric and his legion were exploring that area with Debbie and her group. Earlier had been my first meeting with Debbie. She was older than Joan. Her mannerisms were brisk and she scrunched her nose at the thought of being teamed up with Eric. Seemed like he was no ones favourite.

This mission was made all the more difficult by the fact that Lemmy knew about Chris and I, but Debbie did not and neither did Lemmy's legion. My eyes flicked to Chris and he looked at me, smirking slightly. My heart warmed suddenly, but I didn't want to make it obvious so I looked away.

My eyes connected with Greg's. He smiled at me. Keith sat next to him and beckoned me over. Everyone else was sitting and talking. I snuck over and Keith grinned.

"So, not gonna talk to lover-boy?" He smirked.

"K-keith, sssh." I whispered, and he glanced at Greg.

"You're awful," Greg said to him, then glanced at me. "Keith told me that you and Chris are like, together."

My eyes went to Keith, who was still grinning that evil grin. Why'd he get me into this mess? I couldn't deny it or anything. I parted my lips to confess.

"What you guys talking about?" Alissa had appeared.

She was a slender girl with blue hair that she'd tied back today. She glanced from my pale, scared face, to Greg's wide-eyed look, then to Keith's smirk.

"N-nothing." I spluttered out.

Luckily, Alissa seemed to buy this explanation and she smiled, seating herself on a log. The wind blew her hair around her shoulders.

"Did you guys hear that Debbie's legion has the highest pass rate amongst demons." Alissa said.

I blinked dumbly at her. Greg pressed his lips together in a thin line that screamed awkward and uncomfortable.

"You don't say." Keith grinned.

Alissa started talking about training and other things. I glanced at Keith and noticed he was smiling, but his eyes were glossing over.

"You're the human, right?" Alissa asked me.

"Um, yes." I replied, startled by her change of topic.

"So, whose slave are you? Who'd you sell your soul to?" She said, words tumbling from her mouth in a stream.

"I-i have to pee." I announced, standing and wandering away.

"Great going, dipshit." I heard Keith snap behind me. He couldn't be mad at Alissa. She had no idea.

Twigs snapped beneath my feet and I pressed my palm against a tree. I noticed Lemmy sitting across the way.

"You all right, Junko?" He asked.

I nodded and glanced towards the forest. All I could see were the trees. They were dense and closed in. I looked skyward and noticed that despite the fact we'd seen a bird earlier, we had neither heard nor seen any other animals.

"It's like a vortex." A voice said, and I jumped.

A guy was standing next to me. His hair was frizzy and dark. His eyes were sunken and his features were gaunt. He seemed to hover on the verge of being slightly strange.

"Syd, quit it. You're scaring the girl." Lemmy snapped.

"What? It is." Syd pouted, insistently.

"Your head is like a vortex." Roger called.

Syd round on him and narrowed his wide eyes. I noticed Paul across the way talking to another guy. He smiled and winked at me. A sudden rush of nerves hit me and I gulped. Lemmy stood and patted my shoulder, reassuringly. He faced everyone.

"Right, I'm gonna take my group to the left," He motioned towards the trees. "That cool with you, Chris?"

Chris glanced at me and then looked at Lemmy, nodding. Lemmy whistled and the teams split. I watched Greg walk towards Lemmy, along with Alissa, Ronnie, Danny, Syd, Paul and his friend. Paul's friend walked past me, tapping my shoulder as he did.

"My name's John." He smiled, wryly.

"If she had any sense she wouldn't care." Paul sassed, shoving John's shoulder.

A few others of Lemmy's team passed by including Ricky. He was walking with a girl. She smiled at me and the two of them followed their team. We all started walking now. I was able to be a bit more relaxed with Chris now. He took my hand once they were out of sight.

"Stay close to me." He said, and I nodded.

Glancing back, I noticed Keith was walking with Roger and David, who was was randomly setting fire to trees and plants. Roger slapped his hand and muttered something to him. David merely laughed.

Andy and Ashley were next. Andy was looking around, clearly taking all of this very seriously.

"Ugh, this mud is getting on my new boots." Ashley complained.

"Shut up." Andy snapped.

Michael and Hayley were to one side. Michael kept having to move tree branches out the way since Hayley seemed to stumble over everything. The three new recruits, Ashley, Devin and Niall were on the other side. The trees all looked the same and they seemed to be getting closer as we walked. I began to think they were alive.

"Junko? You all right?" Chris asked.

"Yeah, just a little claustrophobic." I murmured.

Chris gave my hand a gentle squeeze. I squeezed back and glanced at him. He smiled and interlocked our fingers. We must have walked for ages in the silent forest. Finally we stopped.

"I hate this place." Devin griped.

Niall glanced at him and sighed. I wondered how well angels could sense. Niall was looking around and frowning.

"I can't feel anything except us." He said suddenly.

"What about Oli and Ryan?" Chris asked.

"No, Sir. I can't sense anyone that might be injured or in trouble. It's like a dead zone." He stated, turning and stumbling a little.

A dead zone. Was that even possible? I was getting nothing as well.

"Maybe they already went home." Hayley suggested.

"No, Oli was straight-laced. He'd have reported to Joan." Andy glanced at her then. His blue eyes were nervous. He'd begun to toy with his lion mane of hair.

The sound of twigs snapping caused everyone to look round. It seemed to be coming from all around us. The silence was broken by a scream that didn't belong to anyone here. It sounded inhuman and echoed off the forest floor. Hayley yelped and cupped her hands to her ears. The screaming lasted a full three minutes then stopped.

"What the fuck was that, Chris?" Ashley asked. His eyes were wide.

"I don't know, but be prepared." Chris snapped.

He stood in front of me. The scythe materialised in his hands. I glanced round and noticed everyone had removed their weapons, readying themselves.

Then I saw it. Ghostly hands stretched through the trees. Apparitions materialised until they were fully formed. We were surrounded. The first shot was from Roger as he blasted one of the ghosts. It faltered, but kept approaching.

Chaos. Everything became chaotic. The echo of spirit bullets resonated around the area. A ghost reached for me and its arm was quickly cut off by Chris' scythe. The ghost leapt back and hissed.

This seemed like some kind of ambush, like someone had laid a trap for us and we had walked right into it. The ghosts kept coming and seemed relentless. Chris grabbed me, shoving me towards Keith.

"Take her and run." He ordered.

"N-no, Chris." I yelped, but Keith grabbed me.

He cut through the ghosts with his knife and we all ran. We ran till we were out of breath and panting. The trees started thinning and we found ourselves on the road side again. I gasped and Keith let me go. Tears streamed down my face. I sobbed loudly, not caring who saw. A hand rested on my back. I turned to find Ashley sitting next to me. Her eyes were soft and kind.

"Sssh, don't cry," She whispered, pulling me closer. "He'll be ok."

How could she know that? The sound of trees being broken made us all jump. Lemmy's team came crashing through the tree line onto the road. Lemmy was nowhere in sight. Alissa was at the front. She sat on the road and broke down as well. Hayley crawled over, touching her shoulder. Alissa grabbed Hayley and leaned on her.

We waited. None of the other legions appeared. Maybe they hadn't been ambushed yet. I glanced around. Everyone looked a little afraid.

"What's going to happen?" I murmured.

"Chris will sort it." Michael smiled. He sat next to me.

"H-he will?" I asked, and he nodded.

"Legion leaders are strong, like really strong," Greg had appeared next to me. "They can't be at full strength with us around though. That kind of power could kill a human."

The look on his face was serious and I parted my lips, then glanced at the forest. There was nothing but silence. We waited and waited. It felt like an eternity. Entire trees were suddenly uprooted and Andy smirked.

"They're fine." He nudged me.

Lemmy appeared first. He'd lost his cowboy hat and seemed more annoyed about that than anything else. Chris appeared moments later. The scythe de-materialised, but his eyes were still black. I didn't care. Ashley helped me to stand.

"Go to him." She whispered to me.

"But everyone will-" I started.

"Fuck everyone else." She replied.

I stumbled slightly, but ran over. I wrapped my arms round Chris and for a moment I thought he might shove me away, but his arms went round me, pressing me closer.

"Stupid, stupid." I shouted into his chest.

I couldn't help but cry. I honestly thought he'd been injured. I pulled back to look at him. His features were a blur through the lense of tears.

"I'm here now," He murmured, bringing one hand to cup my face, wiping away a few stray tears. "I'm sorry I scared you."

I sniffled and he lowered his hand, gripping my hip. I leaned into him. His eyes were on the legion now. They all looked exhausted.

"What were they?" Roger asked.

"I don't know." Chris replied.

The shock was palpable. Across the way Lemmy was answering their questions as best as he could, but he seemed just as confused. The forest on the other side was quiet. Lemmy looked concerned. He lifted his wrist and spoke into the device.

We would definitely need to re-group. This was quickly becoming dangerous.

 

Chapter Text

 

"Unbelievable." Debbie fumed.

We'd sat on the road side for no longer than a few minutes when the other two legions appeared. Debbie and Eric had appeared moments later. Right now everyone was standing around chatting amongst themselves. I was listening to the conversation with the legion leaders.

"They were waiting for us, no doubt." Lemmy snapped.

"I don't know about you three, but I'm not leading my legion into danger." Eric seethed.

Evangeline was standing next to me. Around us, legions were chatting and there was a tremor of fear circulating.

"And what about Joan?" Chris snapped. His tone made me glance round. "What will you tell her, Eric? Will you lie and say you did this to the best of your ability?"

Eric blanched and glared at Chris.

"Eric hates that." Keith had appeared next to me, smirking.

"W-what does he hate?" I asked.

"He doesn't like a younger demon telling him what to do." Keith replied.

I glanced at Evangeline and noted that she was shrinking back. The thought that he would treat her worse as a means to get his anger out terrified me. Lemmy's bracelet buzzed and he pressed the button.

"Talk to me." He said, briskly.

"It's Tris. I've just had an SOS signal," Tris spoke quickly, frantically. "It's coming from the house."

Silence rang out amongst the legions. Lemmy turned to look at the legions. All were watching and waiting. I noticed Ariana across the way.

"All of you are to stay put." Lemmy snapped.

"Do you need angels, Sir?" Niall asked.

Lemmy shook his head. I peeked round the leaders at the house. It was a husk standing on the edge of the road. It seemed to give off an aura of animosity. There was something about the way its windows stared out at us.

"We can't risk anyone getting injured." Debbie said.

She nodded and started to walk away. Eric grunted and followed her. Lemmy followed as did Chris. I met his gaze and he smiled just slightly. Fear ate away at me. What would they be walking into?

I watched them until they were walking into the house and were gone. That's when everyone started gossiping again.

Ariana saw me at last and waved. I noticed Mike sat next to her. She leaned into him and they started talking quietly. Evangeline was still next to me. I heard her sniff and glanced at her.

"Hey, are you all right?" I asked.

"I'm fine, thank you," She murmured. "I am afraid though."

It was hard to know what she was afraid of. Was it a fear that Eric wouldn't come back? I guess I'd underestimated how much she cared for him. Everyone's attention was on the house. Time ticked by in maddening seconds.

I kept my eyes on the house and was amazed when it pratically imploded. I gasped in horror. What was happening?

"I kinda figured they'd do that?" Keith murmured.

"Do what? What happened to the house?" I replied, frantically.

"They've quarantined it." Roger said.

He rested a hand on my shoulder. He didn't look worried so I guessed everything was ok. I noticed the four of them walking back. Lemmy was carrying someone and so was Chris.

"Oh my God." Hayley whispered.

Lemmy approached first and I noticed he was holding a younger demon with longer, brown hair. His eyes were closed and there was a slight tinge of blue on his neck. Chris was also holding another demon. This one looked even younger. The same blue tinge was creeping up his throat.

"We need to go now." Lemmy snapped.

I pressed my bracelet as did everyone else. Everything happened in a blur when we got back. Tris appeared, pushing a trolley. She had prepared a needle and sank it into the young demon's arm.

"That's Ryan." Keith said.

Ryan shuddered and Chris set him down on the stretcher that had been wheeled out. The blue tinge was slowly starting to fade away.

"Any longer and he'd be gone." Tris murmured.

Tris took a shaky breath and wheeled the stretcher away, taking Ryan with her. I went to follow Chris, but Keith stopped me.

"He's going to have to break the news to Joan." He murmured.

I nodded and Keith led me towards the infirmary. The room smelt sterile as we entered. Tris was pressing a cold compress to Ryan's head. The blue was fading from his neck and hands at a steady enough pace. His breathing was ragged though.

"Will he be all right?" I asked.

"Demons are fast healers. He'll be fine." Tris smiled at last.

The blue was slowly disappearing and I glanced at Tris again. If the venom killed humans then what effect would it have on demons?

"What would have happened if they hadn't be found?" I whispered.

"The venom kills humans, but it fogs a demons' mind, makes them primal and deadly." Keith said.

My lips parted and I watched as Ryan's eyes flickered open. He had doe brown eyes and soft features. He went to sit up very quickly, but was ushered down by Tris.

"Oli? Where is he?" Ryan gasped.

"Safe. Recieving anti-venom at Lemmy's." Tris replied, pressing the compress to his forehead again.

Ryan's lower lip trembled and he brown eyes went to Keith and I.

"K-keith?" He murmured.

"Welcome back, Ry." Keith smiled.

Ryan managed a weak smile then his eyes went to me and he shyly looked away. The door flew open and Brendon rushed in. He practically sprinted to Ryan and hugged him. Tris jumped back, smiling.

"I'm so sorry." Brendon said, words slurring.

"It's fine. I'm ok," Ryan replied, pushing Brendon back. "See, all good."

"I should have gone with you." Brendon continued.

"No, Oli and I needed to do it on our own." Ryan said, eyes flicking towards his hands.

They both chatted away. Brendon apologised a lot, but Ryan brushed him off. Eventually Ryan sat up. He seemed a little better. He attempted to stand and nearly fell, causing Brendon to catch him mid fall.

"Guess I'm a little clumsy." Ryan chuckled.

Keith led me back to the foyer. I was still a little shaken by today's events.

"What would happen if a legion leader got infected?" I asked.

Keith's shoulders tensed, "It could be very dangerous."

A lump formed in my throat. How did he know it was very dangerous? Had something happened before?

"Has it ever happened before?" I said, voice hoarse.

"Yeah, only once before," Keith replied, then turned to look at me. "Hey, don't look so freaked out."

Easy for him to say. We went our seperate ways and I traipsed up to my, sorry, our room. I opened the door and nearly leapt out of my skin. Chris was sitting on the bed. His dark eyes were amused.

"You scare too easily." He chuckled.

"I thought you'd still be with Joan." I said, choosing to ignore the sass.

"I did what I had to." He shrugged.

He toyed with his hair. It had been pushed back to reveal those weird spikes in the sides of his head. I was definitely going to seize the moment to spend time with him. I felt a bit transient sometimes, like I didn't get to see him often.

"Come here." He smirked, motioning me over. My body lurched forward and ended up next to the bed.

"I hate when you do that." I pouted.

"Yeah, I'm so awful." He said, eyebrow arching.

"You know sarcasm is the lowest form of wit." I grinned

"And the highest form of intelligence." Chris replied.

Smug jerk. I glared at him and he simply pressed his hand to my cheek, eyes searching mine. The glare disappeared and I tried to meet those dark eyes. I wanted to smile or make a joke, but it didn't seem appropriate. Instead I opted for bravery or stupidity, both were options. I leaned down and kissed him, very gently. My heart beat was thrumming loudly. I could hear it.

I pulled back, blushing awkwardly, "S-sorry."

Before I had a chance to register what was happening, he pulled me forward and our lips met again. This time it was on his terms. His tongue slid between my parted lips and I tried my best to mimic the actions. All the while, my hands trembled. We pulled apart far too quickly and I thought it might be over.

Normally we kissed, normally that was it. In a way I wanted to see how far it would go, but I was also terrified. Chris pulled me to sit in front of him. No problem, we'd sat like this before. My shoulders tensed a little when he traced down my arms.

"Relax." He murmured.

"I am relaxed." I replied, taking a breath.

"No, you're not," He replied, lips grazing my neck. "Take a nice deep breath and untense yourself."

I swallowed and took a steadying breath. My shoulders slowly untensed. I toyed with the hem of my jumper. I was a little afraid to move. Chris' hand gently rested on my stomach and I felt his fingers skim along the skin where my jumper met my skin. It was a soft, barely there touch.

"B-be gentle." I whispered.

"I'm not going to hurt you." He murmured, hot breath fanning my ear.

His hand slipped under my jumper, tracing upwards towards the wire of my bra. My heart was hammering against my chest in a rhythmic way. I wanted to close my eyes, but I was so fascinated. He'd touched me once like this, but through my clothes. I took a steadying breath as the cup was lowered.

His thumb circled my nipple and I let out a gasp. My God, how embarrassing. My cheeks tinged. My body rioted. It felt good. My body arched into his hand and that seemed to be it. There was no going back.

Our lips met again in a more passionate kiss and his fingers continued to tease me, eliciting moans that were absorbed into the kiss. His other hand trailed down and slid past the barrier that was my jeans. We pulled apart and I almost freaked out.

"W-woah, what are you doing?" I asked.

"I would have thought that was obvious." Chris replied, voice husky.

"N-no I just wasn't-" I babbled.

"I want to touch you." He growled.

My tummy fluttered and I nodded. The hand on my breast continued and I whimpered. His other hand slid further until he was touching me down there. Oh my God, who describes it as 'down there'. I'm such a loser.

His fingers slid into me, gently stroking me. It felt good. My body reacted instinctively and I pressed myself against his hand, urging him on. My breathing was ragged as he touched me. What was happening? This was all new to me. His fingers curled and brushed against something.

"So wet." He murmured, nipping my ear.

I couldn't answer. Nothing was happening. My throat had closed up and all I seemed capable of doing was moaning. A single digit slid into me and I whimpered. It felt uncomfortable, but not unpleasant. Something was building inside me though. Something I'd never felt before.

Chris' fingers pressed against something and my body reacted. It felt like something was being unknotted. My moans had increased as the feeling washed over me. It felt like I was flying. I slumped against him, dazed and floaty.

Chris slid his hand out from my jeans, the slight brush of his fingers was too much, like I was over stimulated. His other hand left my breast, slowly tracing down my stomach to trace patterns there.

It felt like my body was lighter than air. I glanced at him and he smirked. Smug jerk.

"T-that was-um." I blurted out.

"Hot," He finished, pupils dilating. "You were so wet and responsive."

My face heated up. I wanted to smile giddily, instead I covered my face. He sighed and pried my hands from my face, pressing his lips to mine, kissing me almost lazily. We pulled apart.

I wasn't too stupid, but guys had needs too. My eyes trailed down and I realised I'd been caught so my gaze flicked back to his.

"I-i have a confession." I stated.

"Do you now." He grinned, lifting his hand to trace his thumb against my cheek.

"I-i'm a virgin." I continued.

Chris raised a brow, smirk growing, "No, really. I'm shocked."

"Yeah, I've never done this stuff before," I stuttered out. "Also do I have to, like, do something to you, because I totally can."

"You want to touch me." Chris chuckled.

"I-i um." Was my response.

My gaze went to the front of his trousers. There was definitely a bulge there. Was I brave enough to touch him though? What if I was terrible? I might be so bad at it that he'd never want me to touch him again. Then it'd be awkward. I felt his hand lift my face to meet his eyes.

"What're you thinking about, Junko?" He asked.

"That I'd be terrible at doing stuff to you and then you'd get sick of me and then you'd leave me and never want to talk to me again." His finger pressed against my lips, halting the word vomit.

He leaned forward till we were inches apart, noses touching. He smirked again, tracing my lips with his thumb.

"So nervous," He murmured, and I nodded, ashamedly. "And that's ok. There's no rush."

I blinked at my mature boyfriend. He went to remove his thumb and leaned back on the cushions.

"But it's not fair if I don't be a good girlfriend." I whispered.

"Been reading stupid magazines again?" He asked, eyes glinting mischivously.

"It's not stupid." I pouted.

"Human magazines about fashion and love advice are stupid. They're a waste of time. You don't need to change who you are because I like who you are." He replied, rolling his eyes.

I smiled slightly and shuffled closer, reaching up to touch the piercings on his lips. His eyes were watching me. This was a start for me.

"So pretty." I smiled.

"Hang on." He grinned, lifting his hand.

I watched as he removed the ball and slid the piercing out. Ok, gross. He held the piercing out to me, grinning at my reaction.

"You're so mean." I whined.

"You love it." Chris replied. "Wanna help me put it back in?"

"No way, that's weird." I said, and he laughed.

I was fascinated though, watching the piercing go back in and watching the ball be screwed back on. Thanks for that, Chris. I did still love him though, but I wasn't stupid. I knew he didn't really feel the same. I jumped a little when his hand lifted my head to meet his eyes.

"What's wrong?" He asked, and I bit at my lip.

"N-nothing, I was just thinking." I whispered.

"About?" Chris said. He looked concerned. I hadn't meant to worry him.

I'd always sort of imagined doing intimate things was something two people did when they loved one another. I awkwardly loved him, but he'd sort of said he didn't love me.

"You're right," I murmured, and he frowned. "I do love when you tease me. I love everything about you."

I sniffled a little and went to move backwards until he leaned forward, stopping me from escaping, dark eyes analysing me.

"L-let go." I whined, a few tears leaking out.

"You really think I don't love you?" Chris asked, gripping my face so I couldn't lower my head and avoid his line of sight.

"Y-you said-" I sniffled again, like an idiot.

"Has everything I've done ever shown that I don't love you." He replied, expression not giving anything away.

"N-no, it's just that when I asked last time." I whispered, and he smiled slightly.

"Of course I love you," Chris said. My eyes widened. "You wouldn't be here if I didn't love you, dummy."

I slumped slightly and a few more tears leaked out. I felt like an idiot. He sighed and pulled me closer so I was pressed against his chest, hands threading through my hair. His lips found my forehead and pressed a kiss there. I smiled through the haze of tears and cuddled closer.

 

Chapter Text

 

Rumors spread like wild fire. These rumours concerned what had happened to Oli and Ryan during their time away. I was seated in the window seat, staring across the grass. Demons were huddled in groups, talking. I'd already heard the gossip as I sat doing my coursework.

Apparenly Oli and Ryan had gone out on a simple mission that should have taken less than an hour. It was a starter mission since Ryan was new. They'd been ambushed, that much was known, but after that the details became hazy.

"No way." A new recruit was saying.

"Well, I'm not doing missions." Her friend stated, adamently.

"You're braver than me. Would you say that to Chris?" The other girl snorted out a laugh.

I pretended to be reading my text book. I heard them laughing again and pretended to not listen.

"Shut up," The first girl said, shrilly. "I hear that little human knows our boss quite well."

My face heated up and I buried my face in my book. This was super embarassing. The other night was the furthest I'd ever gone with anyone ever and just thinking about it made my heart rate pick up.

"Ya know, you guys are supposed to be studying." I glanced up when I heard David's voice.

He was leaning against a far wall, glaring at the new recruits. They all looked a little shaken by his sudden arrival. I guessed he'd been assigned to train them.

The new recruits huffed and grabbed their books and left, whispering as they went. David's eyes landed on me. He grinned and ambled over.

"Whatcha studying, Geekarella?" He asked.

"The poems I'm reading for my finals." I replied, showing the text book.

"Wow, boring." David grinned.

He toyed with his hands and a spark nearly singed the curtain next to me. I looked at him and he blinked, innocently.

"Are you training them?" I asked, and he nodded.

"Yes and no. Roger and I are training them." He sighed then.

"If you don't like it then why not ask for a change." I suggested.

"Everyone has a team of new demons to train." He said, touching the curtain until it began to smoke.

I reached out to remove his hand and he pushed my forehead, holding me at arm's length. I faintly wondered if there were fire alarms here. David removed his hand and stood, stepping backwards.

"Do you delight in causing trouble?" I groaned.

"It's a talent." He smirked.

He waved and turned, leaving me in the window seat alone. I glanced back at my text book again. Shakespheare always entertained me. I flicked through and then set the book down, instead picking up another book.

The Merchant of Venice was one of my writing essays. I sifted through the pages, pausing at one point in the play. Act three scene five with Jessica and Launcelot, the clown. My eyes kept skipping back to the words, 'the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.' Sighing, I shut the book and set it down on my lap.

"What are you reading?"

I nearly jumped at the sudden voice above me. I glanced up and noticed a new recruit standing next to me. He looked young and very friendly. His dark hair was slicked back and he was smiling.

"Oh, just some Shakespheare." I replied, slightly on edge.

"That's cool. I really like Shakespheare too. Romance always seemed to be a tragedy for him," He paused, then rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm Charlie. New here."

I relaxed a bit and Charlie seated himself opposite me. His features were boyish and he looked far too innocent to be a demon, but looks were always decieving here.

"It's for a class I do." I smiled.

"Ah, ok," He nodded. "So, that boss of ours is kinda scary, right?"

I blanched a bit and looked away. Charlie must have been really new. When I looked again, he was looking at me. His gaze was apprehensive and I remembered my first time meeting Chris and how scared I was. Then I thought of him now and how he had changed towards me.

"I like him." I whispered.

Charlie's brows furrowed and he seemed to be thinking again and then his face became a mask of horror.

"Shit," He gasped. "You're the human girl, right? Devin told me about you."

He stepped back and I flailed a little, not wanting him to think I was going to tell Chris what he had said.

"I'm so, so sorry." Charlie raised his hands.

"N-no, it's fine." I laughed a little.

That must have set Charlie at ease and his shoulders relaxed somewhat. He actually managed a nervous laugh and seated himself next to me again.

"S-so, you and Chris?"He grinned.

"Mmm hm." I replied.

My face was on fire. Discussing my relationship with others was something that made me really nervous, but also happy. I was proud to be with someone that liked me back.

"I was gonna marry a girl from the sixth circle. I miss her." He said, smiling again.

"What was her name?" I asked, and his face turned pink.

"Lily," He said, softly.

"That's so sweet." I replied.

Charlie nodded then, rubbing his shift sleeve as though it was irritating him. Must have been itchy fabrics.

"So, you and Chris are happy? He's kinda intense, right?" Charlie said, rather quickly.

I shifted and looked at my lap. I heardCharlie whimper then looked up to find my boyfriend standing right behind him, hand on his shoulder.

"Even more intense when I find you sitting here and not in the training hall with the others," Chris grinned. "But you were just going, right?"

Charlie leapt away, faster than I'd seen him move. He glanced at me again and I looked at Chris.

"Don't be mean." I scolded.

Chris glanced at me and sat in Charlie's spot and his eyes met mine, the cold brown being replaced by warmth.

"Sorry, sorry I'll go, like straight away," Charlie stammered.

"Still here." Chris replied, eyes still on me.

Charlie bowed and ran. I sighed and glanced at Chris.

"He seemed nice." I said.

"You would say that." Chris chuckled.

He glanced around, possibly looking for Tris with her list of jobs. Some of those jobs had to be done by the demon in charge. I toyed with my book.

"Are you hiding from Tris?" I asked, and giggled when he scowled.

"No, I'm taking a break," He replied, shrugging. "Are you ok?"

I glanced at him and he looked serious for a minute. I blinked dumbly at him and he frowned at me. I suddenly realised what he was referring to.

"Oh, I get it." I whispered.

"Took you long enough, Junko."

"Be nice. Y-yes, I'm fine."

His features relaxed again and his hand reached out to rest on top of mine, thumb brushing along my knuckles.

"I don't want to be too forceful with you." He said, and I lifted my face to look at him.

He was staring at some spot on the marble floor. I thought for a moment that he looked really vulnerable and unsure. I smiled bashfully at that. He looked so cute if someone so spikey and scary could look cute.

His eyes flicked back to me and the smirk appeared on his face again. Definitely not vulnerable then. There was a brief pause when his eyes scanned the room and then he was leaning closer. We were inches apart and I gulped at the contact.

My skin prickled when I felt his breath fan my ear. I was gripping the text book like some kind of lifeline. We were in public. Someone could walk by at any second now.

"Although, the way you were pressing against me did make me want to be really forceful with you." Chris said, the growl in his tone made me let out a steadying breath.

"W-we're in p-public." I whimpered out.

He pulled back slightly so he could look me in the eyes. There was a defiance in those eyes and I sincerely hoped that Tris didn't walk in now, or any of the new recruits.

I had a million reasons why we shouldn't be sat here like this and he wiped all of them away by pressing his lips to mine. My squeak of protest was cut off as the kiss deepened and I gripped his jacket. The sound of heels on the marble made Chris pull back. He regained his composure quicker than I regained mine.

Tris appeared from round the corner and looked between us. I looked frazzled and Chris just looked amused.

"You both look adorable." She beamed.

I blushed and Chris rolled his eyes. She stepped closer and actually handed me something. I accepted and was stunned by.

"Since you're here, Junko. It is only right that a formal invitation is presented to you." She continued.

I glanced at the parchment:

The Winter Solstice Ball.

"O-oh ok." I murmured, staring at it.

"The royal family all attend," Tris grinned, but aimed her words at Chris. "I assumed that Chris had not told you."

I remembered the portrait, but kept my mouth shut. Tris nodded and clicked away. I smiled slightly. The next confession would probably come as no surprise.

"Go with me." Chris said. I pouted at him and he raised a brow.

"Is that an order?" I laughed.

"As a matter of fact, it is," He chuckled, then looked serious. "My Father and Mother will be there."

"You mean Lucifer?" I asked, and he nodded.

I ran my fingers along my text book again. I was a girl, a human. I had no nobility in my family. My parents had very little money before they died. My aunt wasn't rich or powerful. I hesistated.

"I-i'm not royalty or anything," I murmured. "Your parents might be expecting someone more interesting."

I felt Chris' fingers lift my chin to look at me.

"I want you to be there with me," He said, pressing a kiss to my lips. "Please."

"Y-yes, then. I would be happy to." I replied.

I'd never actually been to a prom either. I'd shyed away from my high school prom and instead had spent the night, eating snacks and watching Doctor Who. This would be a little out of my comfort zone.

"I'll need a dress," I said. "I didn't go to my high school prom so I don't have one."

"I'm sure Hayley and Ariana will love to help you with that." Chris replied.

 

**************************

 

Not even joking. Hayley actually found out I was going, somehow. She corned me half a day later.

"OMG, you're going to the Solstice Ball, right?" She shrieked, loudly.

A few demons on the grass glanced at her. She didn't care. Michael was sat, glaring at her. I managed a feeble smile and an apologetic glance at the other demons.

"Yes, Chris asked me." I replied.

"I knew it. I'd be happy to help you get a dress." She sounded so pleading.

"Do the legions go?" I asked, and she faltered.

"Duh, of course we go. The Solstice Ball is the height of importance here. Everyone goes." She continued.

"Who are you going with?" I asked, and she faltered again, face turning pink.

I glanced at her then at Michael. I guessed quite quickly.

"She wouldn't stop annoying me." He snapped.

"We get to dance." She sighed.

"Sounds like a blast."

I covered my mouth to stop myself from laughing.

"You guys are talking about the Solstice Ball, right?" Charlie had appeared. He looked much more composed today.

Hayley nodded, eagerly. Michael ignored him and continued toying with his bracelet. Charlie seated himself next to me.

"Is it too late to ask you, Junko?" He laughed. "I'm kidding, haha. Please don't tell Chris I said that. He might kill me."

"Is this your first time at a Solstice Ball,Charlie?" Hayley asked.

"Yeah, the sixth cirlce has their own celebration." He replied, toying with his sleeves.

I smiled at that and Hayley sat in front of me, pulling out a note book. She was doodling some things down in her tidy hand writing.

"I want to make you look like a princess." She grinned.

"H-hayley, no. I'm not-" I stammered.

"You're going with a prince." Michael pointed out.

I nearly threw up then. This little detail had gone over my head. Hayley was still grinning. She stood and gestured for me to follow.

I did as I was told and waved goodbye to Charlie and Michael. We walked out of the legion area and onto the cobbled streets.

"Lucky for you I know just the right demon to help." She beamed.

We had stopped in front of, what I assumed was a seamstresses. Hayley took my hand. My fingers trembled and we walked in. The shop was quiet and decorated like a faery hollow. It was so pretty. My eyes didn't know where to stop looking.

"Hayley? Is that you?" A squeaky voice asked.

A small girl appeared from round the corner. Her hair was tied back and she was wearing a set of overalls. Strange attire for making dresses.

"Hey, Esme, is your gran here?" Hayley grinned.

The girl nodded and shouted out the back. Someone was complaining and shuffling, then a woman appeared. She looked too young to be a gran. She stopped when she saw Hayley and me.

"Hey, Grannie Mae." Hayley said. "I've bought someone to meet you."

The woman glared at me. I managed to wave at her like a small mouse and she huffed in annoyance.

"I told you last time. I won't be doing anymore of your friends. As royal seamstress, I-"

"This is Junko," Hayley interrupted. "She and Chris are together."

The woman looked doubtful and laughed a little, "So says several other girls."

What? I blinked and Hayley pouted.

"You can ask him for yourself if you want." Hayley smirked.

Esme looked at her Gran and the older woman nodded. I heard her go to the back and I could hear her speaking to Tris. The confirmation was given and Esme reappeared, looking flustered.

"I-it's true." She whispered.

Mae looked at me and finally she cracked a wry smile. Hayley stepped back and Mae approached. She circled me like a vulture.

"I don't want to waste your time." I whispered.

She paused behind me, jabbing me in the side.

"A princess is no waste of time. You need a dress fit for royalty and to knock that boy off his feet." She sassed, laughing. I glanced at Esme and she smiled now.

"I-i don't know where to start." I confessed.

"Lucky for you I know exactly what to do." Mae grinned.

 

Chapter Text

Gradually missions began to resume and everything was peaceful yet again. It seemed like the thing with Oli and Ryan was a fluke. Joan seemed to want to put it all behind her. She was just glad to have them back.

My last official day of college was today. It was Monday 2nd December and this weekend was the Winter Solstice Ball. Mae had taken my measurements and tried several dresses with varying degrees on success. She seemed unsatisfied with all of them.
Maybe I was doomed to not have a dress and to be hideously dressed. I finished my final essay and got up from the window seat, ready to take it to Tris.

"Junko!" Hayley had appeared, grabbing my arm.

"Oh, hi." I said, and she grinned.

"Awesome news. Mae has found 'the one'." She shook my arm, making the papers in my arms threaten to fall.

"But I have to drop off my final bits of coursework." I groaned.

"Junko, listen to me. This is life and death. When Mae says she has found the perfect dress, you just drop everything." She had grabbed my face.
Yep, she wasn't taking any of this seriously. Hayley relented and let me drop off my coursework for Tris to send to the college.

"You two look excited." Tris noted, shuffling the papers.

"Yes, Mae has Junko's dress ready." Hayley replied, nudging me.

"How exciting. I have my dress ready too," Tris smiled. "You'll be sure to have a wonderful time on Saturday, Junko."

I nodded and let Hayley drag me away. We practically ran there. I was secretly really excited. Hayley almost kicked the shop door open and I followed, apologising to a flustered Esme on the way in.

Mae must have heard the commotion as she appeared, looking like she was both proud and annoyed.

"Come human," She beckoned me over. "You, stay put."

Hayley sat down and waited, grinning. This had to be the right dress.

*************************

Saturday rolled round rather quickly. I found there was a tonne of rules regarding the ball itself. Chris was gone when I woke up and I soon found out why.

"Typically, this ball is used as a formality to marriage." Tris said.

She had finalised some last minute details and was assisting some of the girls with their hair and make up.

"R-really?" I stammered.

"Yes, it's a proud tradition. The king and queen announced themselves to be married at the winter ball." Ashley said.
She was curling her hair across the way.

"So, now everyone takes it very seriously." Ariana intoned.

She'd come to the legion house earlier as the men had taken over her house to get ready. My dress was in Tris' office, hidden away.

"Junko, I have a gift for you, actually." Tris smiled.

"A gift for me?" I asked.

Tris stood and signalled for me to follow. We walked down the hallways and entered her office. She opened her desk drawer and presented me with a silver box. I recognised the box as the one from Chris' desk. Would I find out what was in it?

Tris reached down her blouse and removed a key. She unlocked the box and set it on the desk, delicately removing a tiara. My eyes bugged out. It was stunning. The light hit the jewels and shone. In the centre was a heart with a tear drop jewel inside.

"This belongs to her royal highness Elizabeth," Tris sighed, dreamily. She set the tiara down and dipped into the box, removing a necklace. "As does this."

She motioned for me to turn and draped the necklace round my neck, fastening it at the back. The necklace was delicate too with a snowflake at the end, sparkling in the light.

"W-what, but?" I stammered.

"It is Christopher's wish that you wear them. You are the first," Tris replied to my incoherant yammering. "Here, try on the tiara."

I went to protest again, but she set it on my head and made me face the mirror down the hall. I parted my lips and my eyes welled up slightly.

"Beautiful." Tris whispered.

I smiled and a few tears leaked from my eyes. She patted my shoulder.

"Hurry now. It's getting dark. I need to help you into your dress and do your hair and make-up."

She clicked away and I was left to stare at myself in bewilderment. When I got back to the main foyer, the others were gone. Tris led me towards a small waiting room. She helped me into my dress. I slipped on the small heels I had bought.

This was the first time I had seen the dress as Mae had blindfolded me and not let me see. I simply had to trust her insane judgement. My reflection stared back from the mirror. The dress was lilac and strapless. Every so often it glittered when the light hit it. The lilac made my skin look softer.
Tris sat and curled my hair, tying it into a bun and allowing some loose strands to hang down from my fringe. She did my make-up very minimalistic and set the tiara back on my head when she had finished.

"All done." She smiled.

I stood and she wiped a few tears from her face. I felt a little guilty for making her cry. She rubbed my arm and motioned for me to wait while she readied herself. There were a few girls in the foyer already.

Hayley saw me and her eyes widened. Was I provoking such a reaction. Ashley saw as well and gasped.

"You look beautiful, Junko." She whispered.

"U-um, thanks. You look amazing,"

Ashley shrugged a little, looking shy. Her dress was midnight blue and had little jewels encrusted into it. Her red and black hair was loose, but curled.

"The tiara looks so good on you." Hayley said. She, for once, seemed stunned.

"It belonged to Elizabeth." Ashley dabbed at her eyes.

They shared a look and I frowned, glancing from one to the other. I didn't have time to quiz them as Tris appeared in a beautiful emerald dress. She beckoned for us to follow and we did so.

The royal palace wasn't far from the legion houses and when we got outside I saw that the guys were already here.
"Wow, you scrub up well." Keith had appeared next to me.

"Thanks, you too." I replied.

Everyone seemed to be joining with their partner and I felt a little nervous. Where was Chris? Keith rolled his eyes. He nodded his head towards the palace. I followed, somewhat apprehensively.

The palace ball room was stunning. I spun, taking in the ice droplets decorating the ceiling. Ice sculptures were everywhere. Across the room were three thrones.

A man, the same from the portrait was seated at one. King Lucifer. He was dressed in a suit with a crown adorned with crystal icicles. Next to him was a woman, Queen Elizabeth. Her dress was silver, shimmering and ethereal. A crown of icicles was perched on her head.
My eyes instantly went to the last throne though. Chris was sat on it. He was wearing a suit and I gulped.

"The royal family." Keith grinned.

"I think I'm gonna puke." I whispered.

"Want me to let Chris know you're here." Keith offered.

I blushed and nodded. I decided to hang back a bit. Keith approached and bowed to them. He walked to Chris and whispered something to him. They looked over at me. I saw Chris' smirk and managed a feeble wave.

He stood and walked towards me. By this point, the ball room was filling. Demons cleared a path for him. He stopped in front of me, taking my hand and pressing my knuckles to his lips.

"H-hi." I murmured.

"Hey," He grinned. His eyes took in my dress and the tiara. "You look so beautiful."

I took a shuddering breath. Should I be more formal with him? His parents were across the way. He was technically a prince.

"I guess this makes you a prince." I said, and he chuckled.

"And you, my princess." He replied.

I blushed again. I wanted to create a good impression, but he pulled me closer, enveloping me in a hug.

"I don't want to embarass you in front of your parents." I mumbled.

"You could never embarass me." He murmured in my ear.

Reluctantly, we pulled apart and he led me towards his parents. God, I was shaking so hard. We stopped in front of them. I curtsied, somewhat clumsily.

"You wear my first tiara well, Miss Misaki." Elizabeth said.

I glanced at her and she smiled, kindly. She had the sort of face that was gentle and benevolent.

"T-thank you." I whispered.

She nudged her husband and he glanced at me. I was frozen under that same severe glare, but he smiled too. A man of few words, I guessed.
"Please, go and dance. Enjoy yourselves," Elizabeth smiled. "Christopher, behave yourself."

I giggled when she said that. Chris rolled his eyes and led me away. I slipped my arm into his and looked round the hall. It was a strange sensation that men would bow and women would curtsy.

"Getting sick of this yet?" Chris asked, and we sat down at a table.

"Is this why you joined the legions?" I asked.

"Yes, I can't stand the idea of all this. It's a little fake." He replied, fingers tracing down my arm.

The night wore on and Chris taught me to dance which went about as well as was expected. I kept stepping on his feet. I was swept away by the beauty of it all. I spent some time speaking to my friends. Hayley kept hugging me.

I sat down at one point to rest. My legs were aching. I wasn't used to heels, even small ones. I bent my toes within the shoes and winced.
"Hey, got you a drink." Chris sat next to me. I accepted the drink and sipped it.

I noticed he had a drink too and had drank half of it. He scowled, setting the glass down. I frowned at it.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Tastes gross. Probably been under the lights too long." He replied.

Demons were still dancing. I reached down to try and rub my feet through the shoes, trying to be discreet.

"Junko? You ok?" Chris asked.

"Yeah, my feet are sore." I mumbled.

He chuckled and stood, picking me up. I wanted to protest, but I loved him so much that it didn't matter. I let him carry me towards the legion building. We went to the infirmary first.

"Tris has some stuff for pain," He set me on a bed. "Hang on."

I watched him vanish. The infirmary was dark and I glanced at the tray next to the bed. Needles full of anti-venom were sat there. Tris must leave them for emergencies. I heard foot steps and Chris reappeared, holding a bottle of something.

I smiled and he approached then stopped suddenly. I frowned at this sudden change. The bottle slipped from his hand. It hit the floor and shattered.

"Chris?" I asked, my voice sounded panicked.

His eyes lifted and I noticed they were black. Trails of blue were leaking up his throat. What was happening? I shuffled back on the bed. Keith's words came back to me. The snarl that tore from Chris' throat terrified me.

I went to move off the bed, but he was faster than me and pinned me there. Black eyes severe and hands turning to claws. The snarls were becoming more animalistic.

"C-chris, please." I sobbed.

I had to reason with him. He loved me. He shoved me and the tiara hit the floor and shattered. My eyes watered at how hard he was gripping my wrists.

He leaned down, nose in my neck, inhaling deeply, growling softly now. He let go of one of my hands, but used his other hand to secure both my wrists.

I gulped. Was he going to kill me? Was this what Keith meant when demons became infected? My eyes flicked towards the tray with the anti-venom on it. I had to grab it somehow. I had to save him.

My mind whirled and panic was beginning to set in. His lips were at my neck and I whimpered. My whimper became a cry when he sank his teeth in. I felt the blood, damp and warm on my skin.

"Chris, I love you." I sobbed.

This seemed to trigger something as he faltered and pulled back. He seemed to be trying to fight it. I seized my chance.

"Chris, this isn't you. You'd never hurt me." I gasped.

He chuckled then, surpising me, "I want to hurt you though."

He had almost regained control, but lost it again. His free hand grasped my hip and his lips met mine. Ths kiss was intense. My lips were shaking, but I opened one eye. The grip he had on my wrists was slackening.

He let go of them and wrapped his arms around me, pressing our lower bodies together. I didn't have time to be embarassed though and reached out for the needles. I missed on the first try. The second time I connected and grasped the needle.

I sank the syringe into his neck, pressing the trigger down, sobbing as I did so. It didn't seem to hurt him though. The blue began to fade and he sat back, yanking the needle from his neck.

I pulled back, crying, make-up smeared everywhere. Chris' hand hit the wall near my head and closed my eyes. When I reopened them, he was breathing heavily.

"C-chris?" I whispered, voice hoarse.

He lifted his head, breathing raggedly. Our eyes met. His had become brown again. His gaze went to my neck, bleeding still and the tiara on the floor.

"I hurt you." He said.

"Y-you were infected. I'm sorry I had to inject you with anti-venom." I sobbed, and his hand moved from the wall, tracing my tear-streaked face.

"You saved me." He replied.

I blinked dumbly. I thought back to him saying he wanted to hurt me. Did he really want to hurt me?

"Y-you said you wanted to hurt me?" I whispered.

"Junko, you have to know that's not true." Chris said. He sounded scared, like he thought I might get up and leave.

I believed him. He'd never hurt me. I lowered my knees and reached out, touching his face. The black make-up round his eyes was smudged and there was blood, my blood, caked on his lips where he'd bit me.

"The tiara broke," I cried, tears leaking out. He sighed and pulled me closer. "I'm sorry."

"It's ok. Let me help you." He kissed my hair.

We left the infirmary and he helped me clean my neck. The teeth marks were superficial and I whimpered when he leaned down, kissing the spot.

"Are you ok now?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I just lost time. I was in the infirmary with you and then when I came to you were crying." He said.

We were sat in the window seat. Neither one of us seemed to want to admit that someone had drugged him.

"Are you ok, my princess?" He smiled at last.

"I am now." I whispered.

"I owe you my life." He murmured, running his fingers down my neck.

"Someone drugged you." I said, finally.

"I know they did," He said, the snarl back in his voice. "I will find them."

That sounded like a promise. I nestled closer and buried my face into his shirt. We stayed there for ages.

Chapter Text

I was still in my dress when I woke up. Somehow I had ended up on the bed. My eyes burned when I opened them. The room was empty and I sat up. My neck creaked when I moved.

"Chris?" I called.

A cough was my answer. I slid off the bed and pushed open the bathroom door. He was leaning against the wall, head resting on the tiles, eyes slightly ajar. He glanced at me and managed a weak smile.

"Sorry, you woke up alone," He croaked.

"What're you doing in here?" I asked, and he actually smirked.

"Retiling the place."

Helpful. I stepped closer and he coughed, leaning forward to spit into the toilet. His face was paler than usual.

"You're being sick." I said.

"Nothing ever gets past you, Junko." He grinned.

"Be nice," I sighed. "How long have you been awake?"

"Couple of hours," He replied. He sighed at my worried expression. "I'll be fine."

I sat opposite him and tucked my knees up to my chin.

"The venom could have some adverse effects and you could die, or worse." I rambled.

"I won't die." He replied, then slowly sat forward.

Had he healed that quickly? I guessed he'd want to speak to the legion, but he stood and nearly fell again.

"Don't try and stand. You're still sick." I urged, panicking slightly.

"Yes, nurse Junko." He smiled, sitting back.

I stood up and rushed from the room. Tris. I had to fetch her. She seemed like second in command. She'd know exactly what to do. I opened the door with force and rushed down the hallways.

"Tris!" I shouted.

She must have heard because she appeared from a room at the end of the hall, looking bewildered.

"Junko? Whatever's the matter?" She said.

She was in her jeans and t-shirt. I grabbed her hand and dragged her along and she didn't object to it. She paused when we got to the threshold to Chris' room.

"You have to come in, please. It's an emergency." I gasped out.

She nodded and stepped in, looking around cautiously.

"Where's Chris?" She asked, and I led her to the bathroom. She looked shocked when she saw him sitting on the floor.

"What happened?" She asked. I glanced at Chris.

"I was drugged, Tris." He replied.

She gulped and glanced at me. She rested a hand to my shoulder and gave me a reassuring smile.

"Drugged? With what?" Tris queried.

"Fucking venom." Chris snapped.

"At the ball. That's why you and Junko disappeared." Tris whispered.

I nodded my assent and Tris looked at me, clearly realising from the bite on my neck that I had been the one to use the anti-venom. Her eyes glassed over and yet she looked determined, like she wouldn't cry, like she wanted to be strong.

"What are your orders?" She asked.

"I want every new recruits room searched," Chris replied, but he seemed a little unsure.

"The ball was massive. It could have been anyone, I guess." I said, and Tris nodded.

"Junko is correct, of course," Tris agreed. "However, it is a start. I shall discuss with Lemmy. He'll want to be sure as well."

Tris smiled and began to leave. I scampered after her, touching her sleeve before she left. She whirled round to face me, offering a kind smile.

"W-what do I do?" I whsipered.

"Do? Why Junko, you've done a wonderful thing. I'm so proud of you." She gushed, hugging me.

"I-i, um, thanks," I blurted. "No, I mean. Will Chris be ok?"

Tris pulled back and continued to hold my shoulders, still smiling. She didn't seem too worried.

"He will be fine. The venom will have been disolved by the antidote. The rest, as you've seen, will work its way out. He's already starting to sound like his cheery self." She grinned.

I stared at her, blandly. Cheery? Seriously, Tris? She turned and left. I walked back into the room. I went to go back into the bathroom to nearly colide with Chris. He was walking and seemed to be better.

"Y-you're standing? You need to be careful." I stammered.

"Don't worry. Honestly, I'm ok." He replied, pulling me closer.

His body was cold, like usual. I felt his hand caress my neck, in the spot where he'd bit me. His thumb brushed the wound gently.

"You should rest." I grumbled.

"As long as you look after me, nurse Junko." He chuckled.

His hand traced down my back, resting on my lower back. It was like he was holding me in place, preventing escape.

"Quit picking on me." I murmured.

"You always smile and blush when I pick on you." He retorted.

I lifted my head to glower at him with my most serious face ever. I probably looked less angry and more slightly annoyed. He raised a brow and I fought the urge to giggle.

"No I don't." I replied.

"Of course. You're so mature." He grinned.

Jerkwad. When Collette drank too much I used to care for her; fetch her water, pain killers and watch films with her. I should do that. I went to pull back and realised Chris still had his hand on my back. He leaned down so he was near my ear, breath ghosting over the sensitive skin.

"Where do you think you're going?" He asked, tone deepening slightly.

"You're sick. I should get you some water, pain killers, um." I reeled off a list of things. I heard him chuckle. The vibration sent little tremors along my skin.

His lips pressed to my jawline and traced over my skin. My skin felt prickly and I could feel every sensation. I wanted desperately to kiss him. Our lips met and I parted mine, allowing his tongue into my mouth. My hands were still clenched at my side. Chris' hands traced up my hips, beckoning me to lift my arms. I did, draping them over his shoulders.

This forced me onto my tip toes, pressing us closer together. Sure, I had removed my shoes from last night, but my feet still felt sore. I whimpered a little and the whimper turned into a yelp when Chris decided to pick me up.

We ended up on the bed. His lips moved down my jaw again towards the bite mark, pressing gentle kisses to it. I tilted my head, allowing him access. My breathing came out unsteady. Chris moved down my neck towards my chest. He paused at the edge of the dress.

"Be gentle." I murmured.

He smirked and lifted his hand to lower the zipper on the side of the dress. Oh god, this was happening. I'm so small. What if he sees me and thinks I'm hideous. The dress loosened and he lowered it.

I was still wearing my strapless bra, but I felt vulnerable, exposed. He didn't do anything further apart from pressing his lips to mine again, kissing me. I felt his hand trace the edge of the bra where my skin met the lace. I was hyper aware when his fingers found the clasp at the front and undid it.

We pulled apart and my face went pink. I looked away. His eyes were analysing me and I felt even more exposed than before.

"S-sorry, I'm kinda small." I whispered.

"Junko, look at me." Chris said.

I refused at first, "I know I'm too small."

"Will you shut up and look at me, please." He replied, voice soft.

I angled my head back and slowly lifted my eyes to meet his. My face still felt warm and my hands were trembling.

"O-ok." I whispered.

"You're so beautiful." He smiled.

I couldn't help but smile too. I shuffled slightly.

"So, is this it?" I asked.

The smirk returned and before I could protest he dipped his head down, kissing me again. His arm snaked round my waist, pressing me closer.
His other hand rose and I gasped into the kiss when his thumb traced over my nipple. Our lips parted and he kissed down my neck towards my chest, then his lips circled my nipple and I felt his tongue swirl around it. The pleasure was immense. A choked moan escaped my lips.
Our hips were pressed together and it felt like I needed friction really bad. My hips moved and pressed against something. I faltered until I felt Chris press back against me. His lips had left my breast and were back on my neck, sucking the skin there.

"Good girl," His voice was near my ear. "Tell me what you want."

"W-will you touch me like the other day?" I asked, blushing again.

I'd never asked before. I immediately felt stupid.

Chris pulled back, dark eyes meeting mine. He wasn't smirking, but his gaze was hungry, almost feral. He shifted slightly so his hand could travel downwards, bunching my dress up and slipping past my underwear. His long fingers slid easily into me.

His fingers curled and teased me, making me cry out and gasp. His lips descended again to my other breast and his tongue traced the nipple. My body pressed against his hand, trying to get as much friction as it could. I could feel that tingling sensation again. He seemed to sense I was getting closer with each touch.

His lips went to my ear, pressing a kiss to the sensitive skin there, making me whimper.

"Cum." He growled.

That did it. My hips shifted and his fingers pressed deeper and the feeling of unknotting came again, wave after wave. The feeling seemed to drag on and my body slackened when the pleasure stopped. I was left, panting and trying to refocus my blurry vision.

Now that I wasn't in a blur of pleasure I felt vulnerable and made an attempt to pull my dress up. I also felt bad that I still hadn't even touched Chris. I don't know whether it was the sudden feeling of bravery, but I shifted and sat up.

"I-i have to do stuff to you now." I stammered.

"Stuff?" Chris almost laughed, but stopped when he noticed my nervous face.

"Yeah, I have to be a good girlfriend." I whispered.

This time he shifted off me and sat next to me. Our eyes met and I tried to keep my expression completely serious this time.

"I won't stop you." He smirked.

Yeah, thanks for that. My cheeks felt like they might fall off if they went any redder. I adjusted my dress, attempting to pull the dress up. I managed somewhat. First I had to undo his trousers. Ok, here goes.

My hands were trembling and sweating as I did so. I was trying not to think of this as my first time seeing a guy. Sure, I'd read books in sex ed and rolled condoms onto bananas, but this was something totally different. The zipper slid down and I glanced at Chris for some kind of direction.

"Want some help?" He asked, and I nodded.

He shifted his hips, moving the trousers down a little more. He pulled down the front of his boxers and I glanced down. My eyes widened slightly. I wasn't sure what was big or what wasn't. I was just transfixed and staring. My zoning out was interrupted when Chris took my hand and wrapped my fingers round himself.

My hand trembled. I wasn't sure what to do next. What did boys do when they did this stuff? His hand enveloped mine and his other hand lifted my head so I could look at him. His breathing had changed a little, but other than that he seemed unphased by this.

"What next?" I asked.

His hand guided mine. I did as I was told and moved my hand up and down. He let go and leaned back, still watching me through half-lidded eyes. I should just do what feels natural. I tightened my grip a little and tested moving my hand faster and slower. I was amazed at how smooth his skin was. Moisture was leaking from the tip. I really wanted to get a reaction from him.

I grazed my thumb over the part at the top and looked at Chris. His hips shifted when I moved my thumb over the tip again.

"Am I doing this right?" I mumbled.

"Yeah, keep going. Move your hand a little faster."

I did as I was told and continued to move my thumb over the tip any time my hand moved up. This seemed to work as Chris' hips shifted up to meet my hand. A few expletives slipped past his lips along with my name. I felt a little more confident and continued.

I was about to ask if I was doing it right again when Chris grabbed my arm, pulling me closer, lips meeting mine. This kiss was frantic and his hips responded almost desperately and then I felt it. Warmth seeped onto my hand and he pulled back.

His pupils had dilated and he was breathing heavily again. I stopped when I realised that I'd managed to make him cum, but also that I'd managed to stain his shirt.

"W-whoops." I murmured.

Chris' eyes lowered and he smirked. He shrugged then and didn't seem too bothered. My hand was coated in cum. I lifted my hand and stared at it. I licked my hand tentatively. Tasted kind of salty. My eyes lifted to see Chris watching me, intently.

He leaned forward, grasping my hand and angling my fingers towards my mouth. I took the hint and sucked my fingers. He toyed with his lip rings and then allowed me to lower my hand.

"So, was it ok?" I asked.

"Yeah, it was," He replied. "Never thought I'd see you do that to me."

I toyed with my dress. It was a big step. It wasn't so bad though. I smiled then and leaned forward to hug him. We were moving forward and it actually felt amazing.

*************************

Tris had been right. Lemmy commenced a search of his legion house first and ordered that all the others did the same. Turns out you can buy venom on the black market here.

"We had a legion leader kill his whole legion once." Ariana said.

She was sitting on the grass with me two days later. So, that's what Keith hadn't wanted to say.

"Was the leader ok?" I asked.

"No, he had to be destroyed. Too far gone." She replied.

All around me, legion houses were being searched and double searched. It was a scary thought.

"Did someone poison him too?" I queried.

"No, this was before the effects of venom were understood. He just assumed that he'd be fine." She said.

A group of new recruits across the way were gossiping and looking nervous. If one legion leader could be attacked then anyone could be a target.

"You girls all right?" Lemmy had appeared.

"Yeah, all good," I replied. "How's Chris?"

We'd spent a little less time together after Saturday. Lemmy chuckled then.

"Pissed off." He smirked, sipping a whiskey he was holding.

I could honestly imagine that. Chris had seemed furious when he'd sat with me Saturday night. I knew he'd be angry. I supposed he was annoyed that someone had managed to trick him.

"I think he's annoyed someone managed to drug him." I said, and Lemmy laughed then.

"Are you shitting me, girly," He took a sip from his tumbler. "He's pissed that someone would do that, sure. He's even more pissed that he nearly hurt you. Boy's out for blood."

Ariana laughed at that. My cheeks turned pink and I recalled the events from Sunday morning. The images replayed through my mind on a loop. His hands on me and the scorching look on his face.

"How romantic." Ariana sighed.

"Fucking romantic," Lemmy snapped. "Bossy fuck is what that boy is sometimes."

He laughed then, draining his glass. Yeah that sounded about right. Someone covered my eyes then and I yelped. I reached back to hit the person and the hands were removed.

I whirled round to find Devin behind me, accompanied by Pelle. Freaking jerks.

"What you two gossiping about?" Devin grinned, and sat down. He waved at Lemmy.

"Might want to clean your dorm," Lemmy snapped at Devin. "Found some right freaky shit."

"I have needs." Devin replied, shrugging.

"What kind of stuff?" I asked.

"Never you mind." Lemmy replied, walking away.

I glanced at Devin and he was grinning, evily. Pelle had lay down on the grass, staring at the sky. He noticed me and winked. Some things never change.

"I'm sure you'll be introduced to some of that kind of stuff soon enough." Devin smirked.

Forget it, I really didn't want to know. I faintly wondered what would happen with missions now.

Chapter Text

Of course searching the dorms came up with nothing. It had been a week since the incident at the Winter Solstice Ball and the atmosphere around the grounds was slowly starting to return to normal. Demons were beginning to go back to doing missions, but there was safety in numbers apparently as many went in groups.

Derek Samuels was still out there, still searching. I had been disallowed from missions for the time being, but had been training with Andy a little during the week. Today was one of those training sessions.

"See you're getting better at this." Andy grinned.

I was exhausted and had my palms pressed to my knees, breathing heavily.

"I'm gonna die." I wheezed.

He let out a laugh. I starightened up and bounced from foot to foot. He readied the punch pads again and I started again. My knuckles were starting to become raw with the amount of times I'd done this.

"There are a lot of demons under suspicion," He said, making me glance upwards. "The events at the ball."

"Really?" I asked.

Andy lowered the pads and slipped them off his hands, discarding them and sitting down. I joined him and rested my chin on my knees.

"A lot of demons are saying that Eric was the saboteur." Andy said, glancing at me to see what I'd think.

"You really think he would?" I asked.

Eric was a jerk, but would he really put so many lives at risk over disliking Chris. I reasoned that maybe he would. He was certainly capable of some awful things especially given his history and how he'd acted with Sabrina.

"Eric can be awful sometimes, but he would never do something like this." Andy replied.

I was slightly shocked by his defending of Eric. I had to remember that Eric's room had probably been searched too and nothing was found. I was getting fairly tired now so I got up and dusted myself off.

"I think I'm done for the day." I laughed when Andy pouted.

"Fine, fine. Maybe the day after," He reasoned. "Plus I have to go see Juliet."

I envied Andy a little. Chris and I hadn't spent a lot of time together and I tried not to let it bother me, but deep down it did bother me. My hands trembled a little from the exhaustion of training and from the upset that seemed to be rolling through me.

I made my way to see Tris. She'd have my latest assignments and I could focus on something other than what was going on around me. When I arrived Tris was sat at her desk, writing something down on a scroll. I cleared my throat and she glanced up, smiling when she saw me.

"Good Afternoon, Junko," She beamed. "And how was training?"

"Yeah, it was good." I replied, sitting opposite her. She frowned.

"Something bothering you?" She asked.

"This is going to sound kinda weak, but Chris and I haven't been spending a lot of time together and I just was a little worried." I let my sentence trail off.

Tris set down her feather quil and rested her head on her hand. She glanced upwards and appeared to be thinking of what to say next. I watched her in nervous apprehension. She sighed and pressed her hand back to the desk.

"I think Chris has been very busy. I know he had a meeting with his father today." She said.

"About the Winter ball?" I asked, and she shook her head.

"No, his father wanted to discuss Chris taking his place someday."

I frowned and glanced at my hands. They were shaking again. Tris got up and went to the computer. She stood, typing for a few moments before pressing a button. The documents on a nearby desk rose and text began to materialise on them. Each time one became complete she'd stack it on top.

Once this was finished she set the papers in front of me. For some reason my mind wasn't on homework, but I knew I'd need to finish this paperwork to get a grade. I grasped the papers and stood.

"Hey, Tris," I murmured. She turned to glance at me, worriedly. "Should I be freaking out?"

"Everything happens for a reason." She smiled, sadly.

I turned and left after that and sat at the window seat. Demons were on the grass, sparring and talking. I started writing, but nothing was making sense so I stopped and continued to look out the window. It felt like the world was holding its breath.

Nearby a door slammed somewhere and it snapped me out of my trance. From where I was seated I saw Ariana wave at me. I lifted my hand and waved back. She was sitting with Mike and he waved too.

It was nice seeing them together. They seemed happy and right. A cold hand grasped my shoulder and I yelped. Guess I still had a lot to learn about sneak attacks.

I turned, only to find Chris. He must have gotten back from visiting his father.

"Hey, you're back." I smiled.

"Yeah, I thought you'd still be in training." He replied.

"Nope, I'm right here." I shifted in my seat.

He made no move to hug me, which I found odd, but I pushed it to the side.

"How'd your meeting with your dad go?" I asked. He looked a little uneasy and it was something I picked up on.

"Yeah, it went ok," He said. I was about to speak again when he continued. "Listen, Junko I think we need to talk."

I frowned. Of course we needed to talk. We needed to spend some time together. He motioned for me to follow him. I did so. We walked towards his office. He opened the door and we walked in. I seated myself on the plush, red couch and waited.

"I was thinking we could spend some time together." I smiled, trying to ease the heavy atmosphere.

Chris sighed and sat next to me. I shifted closer, but he moved back slightly. Ok, that was confusing, but I didn't let it phase me too much.

"As you are aware, Junko, I had to speak to my Father today," He said, meeting my confused gaze. "He wishes for me to find a queen."

"Well, that's kinda convenient since we're a couple, right?" I replied.

"My Father feels that a demon would be a better bride." He murmured.

"A demon?" I was aware my voice was becoming slightly higher pitched.

"Since Ashley wasn't a good match it has been decided that a demon from one of the other circles will be a better match." Chris continued.

He didn't seem happy about this either. The room felt like it was spinning. Were we breaking up? I had never been dumped before. I had never been in a relationship before so that accounted for why I'd never been dumped.

"But you're going to refuse, right?" I asked. I heard my own voice crack.

"I can't this time. I refused the last one and my Father is adamant I don't refuse this one." Chris said.

I slumped back on the couch in disbelief. A million thoughts raced through my mind. I loved Chris. I had done everything to show that. Admittedly we were probably both in different places, but that never seemed a problem before.

"So, we can't be together?" I knew the answer.

"No we can't." Chris confirmed.

I nodded. My mind was struggling to process everything.

"What about me staying here?" I whispered.

"You can still stay, Junko," He replied. "Derek Samuels is still looking for you."

My chest constricted and I stood, knowing I had to leave. I had to run. My body acted without thinking and I walked out. Once I'd got to the stairs my eyes were blinded by tears. I couldn't let anyone see me like this.

I got to the lower level and continued down towards the ball room I had found. I sat in the darkness, sobbing and not caring who heard me.
"Hello?" Ashley's voice sounded through the darkness.

"Go away." I tried to sound threatening, but I choked on a sob.

Ashley appeared from round the corner. She must have recognised my voice and my small frame.

"Junko?" She questioned, coming to sit with me. "Are you ok?"

"N-no," I hiccuped back another sob. My chest constricted again, almost painfully. "Chris and I..."

Her shoulders slumped and she seemed to realise what had happened. Her arm draped around my shoulders and she hugged me. I let her.
"He has to marry someone else." I said, and she nodded.

"His Royal Highness Lucifer needs an heir." She said, gently petting my hair.

"B-but I want to be with him." I cuddled closer to her.

"You have your whole life to find someone and be their one and only, Junko." Ashley whispered.

"But I was meant to be Chris' one and only." I sobbed.

I broke down again and cried into her shoulder. Ashley didn't speak. She just let me cry. We stayed in the darkness for what felt like ages.

**************

Derek Samuels sighed and downed the last of his canteen. The young priest he was with was reading his bible. Hunter was sat across the way. His lip was split from where his father had enacted another beating.

"You told me that girl would be back." Derek rounded on his son.

"I didn't tell you shit." Hunter snarled.

Derek started advancing towards his son. The young priest cleared his throat and they both stopped and looked at him.

"If I might be so bold, Sir," He smiled. "There tells of a legend. If we were to summon the four horsemen then we might have some luck with finding the girl."

"Blasphemy," Derek seethed. "I won't go hiring more demons."

"If I may again, Sir, these ones are mercenaries," The young priest replied. "We hire them and offer them a price. Blasphemy in the name of a good cause."

Derek paused and rounded on the young priest. He scratched the stubble on his chin.

"And how would we go about summoning these things?" Derek asked.

"Well, Sir, we need blood, which we have a ready supply of and we must find a crossroads." The young priest said.

Hunter glanced round his father's robust body to glare at the priest. His father surely couldn't be considering this.

"You best drive. I've just finished my third whiskey." Derek grinned.

He turned, grabbing Hunter and dragging him towards the car.

"You can help, boy." Derek chuckled, shoving Hunter into the car and slamming the door.

They drove around for what felt like hours until they happened upon an unpopulated road with a crossroads. Derek yanked Hunter from the car and the young priest followed.

"First we must draw this symbol." He held up the book he was studying.

"I ain't much of an artist." Derek grumbled.

"It is imperative that it be drawn in blood." The young priest grinned.

Hunter sensed where this was going and started to back away, but was grabbed by Derek before he could escape.

Chapter Text

The following morning I woke up with my neck aching. I had decided that since Chris and I had broken up that the window seat in the foyer was the best place for me. However, the seat wasn't long enough to provide foot space despite the fact I was only small.

Sitting up, I stretched until the aches slightly relieved themselves and my joints popped. Once i had finished that task I set straight to my other task. I stared at the wall across the way and let the numbness envelope my body. The night before flashed through my mind like a film reel. I could feel the stinging in my eyes. I longed to cry again, to just break down, but I couldn't force the tears out.

"Junko?" A familiar voice snapped me from my day dreams.

I slowly lifted my head to find Keith standing above me. He looked puzzled and I realised he must have sussed that I had slept on the window seat.

"Oh, hi," I murmured. "Good Morning."

"Did you sleep in the window seat?" He asked, confusion lacing his tone.

"Something along those lines." I replied, toying with the hem of my sweater.

"Is everything ok?" Keith asked. There was a million dollar question.

"We may have broken up." I attempted to be light, but my voice cracked despite my attempt at control.

Keith's eyes widened and he seated himself next to me. I could think of nothing else to do other than rest my head on his shoulder and let a few more tears fall. It hurt to cry though.

"His dad wants him to marry a demon." I murmured, and I felt Keith nod.

"That really sucks," He said in return. "You deserve better though."

I managed a small laugh at that sentiment. Inside my mind a war was raging. One part wanted to huddle up and cry until there was nothing left and the other wanted me to rise up and become stronger. I longed for the latter, but knew I might end up crying.

"I don't know if I can stay here." I said, and Keith angled his head to glance at me.

"Of course you can. The NetherWorld is your home." He replied.

"No, I mean in this building," I stated. "With Chris here."

Keith glanced back at his lap and he seemed to understand where I was coming from.

"You could stay at Lemmy's" He said.

"Do you think he'd mind?" I asked, not wanting to aggravate the eldest legion leader.

 

"Nah. Lemmy's pretty chill." Keith said.

He ended up walking me to Lemmy's. The NetherWorld was chilly this morning. A few demons were scattered about, training and chatting. Lemmy was seated on the porch. He was sipping a glass of whiskey and his mouth curved into a smile when he saw us approaching.

"Hey you two. Everything ok?" He asked, raising his glass.

"Can Junko stay here?" Keith answered.

Lemmy seemed taken aback by this request. He set the glass on the table and looked from Keith to me a couple of times before settling on me.

"Junko? Is everything ok?" Lemmy finally asked.

"Chris and I...." I paused. My mind had frozen. I couldn't finish my sentence.

My throat had seized up and my eyes stung with the need to cry. Lemmy was watching me and he seemed to be sussing out what had happened.

"Course you can stay here." He smiled at last.

Keith seemed really pleased and he patted my shoulder.

"That's so cool." A girl demon on the grass said.

Keith and I glanced over our shoulders to where she was looking. A black carriage had rounded the corner. It was a stunning vehicle. It was being pulled by two skeleton horses whose bones were pure black. The carriage stopped at Chris' legion house and the door opened. A woman stepped down onto the path.

"It's Gaia from the tenth circle." The girl said to her friend.

"Wow, she's so pretty." Her friend replied.

They weren't joking. Gaia was insanely pretty. Her black hair was tied into a intricate up do that showed off her elegant neck. She was wearing a dress of purple satin encrusted with rubies. Everything complimented her features and the dress made her skin look like porclein. She made her way into the legion house.

"Maybe now is a good time to move." Lemmy mused.

I turned my head back round. Seeing Gaia made my heart ache. Chris deserved someone like her. Lemmy must have noticed my forlorn expression.
"Don't cry, Junko," He said, standing and walking towards me. "You're a strong person. You'll get through this."

I glanced at Keith and he nodded in agreement. The front door slammed suddenly and both demons looked round. Alissa had appeared on the porch. She smiled at me.

"Junko, how cool of you to visit." She said.

"Actually Alissa, Junko will be staying for a while." Lemmy corrected her,

Alissa's eyes lit up and before I knew it she was in front of me, gripping my hand in her icey grip.

"You know what would look awesome on you," She grinned, and I shrugged. "A cute bob."

I soon twigged that she wanted to cut my hair. Time to see what the other two demons think. Keith and Lemmy seemed to be in agreement of this.
"O-ok." I agreed, and Alissa started pulling me into the house.

I found myself seated in a chair with a towel round my shoulders. I was about to protest when Alissa started cutting my hair. There was no turning back now. The haircut seemed to last for ages and she finally stopped after an eternity. She rushed off to find a mirror and returned.

"Ta-dah." She laughed, holding up the mirror.

Aside from the fact my eyes were red and swollen and that my complexion was off, my hair looked really cute. It finished just below my chin.

"It's really good. Thank you, Alissa." murmured.

Alissa smiled and seated herself on a chair opposite me. She seemed to be thinking.

"You and Chris used to hang out a lot." She mused.

Her steady gaze never left my face and I realised she'd figured it out, but she looked sympathetic too.

"Whenever you want to talk then come find me." She said.

I nodded and jumped a mile when a door opened across the way. Ricky walked in and spotted us both.

"Hey, you two." He sat next to Alissa.

The two of them chatted and then talk turned to missions.

"There's been a call out." Ricky stated.

"Awesome, what level?" Alissa asked.

"Minor haunting, pretty standard." He said, leaning back until the wood in the chair groaned.

"Maybe Junko could tag along." Alissa grinned.

******************

And tag along I did. The house that was haunted was pretty standard. It was dilapidated and the roof had caved in somewhat. However, I was enjoying being out. The winter breeze was beautiful and the surrounding forest was dense and pretty. Whilst I waited on an upturned log, Alissa and Ricky searched the surrounding area. There was nothing.

"The signal has gone." Alissa sighed, sitting next to me.

"Fuckin' weird." Ricky agreed.

"Human." A voice whispered.

I froze. That had to have been in my head. i must be going so crazy from the break-up that I'm hearing creepy voices.

"Did you guys hear that?" I asked, frantically.

"Hear what?" Ricky asked.

"A voice just said 'human.'" I was starting to freak out now.

"Junko, keep calm. There's nothing here." Alissa said, touching her hand to my arm.

"Come towards the house, human," The voice said. "We must speak."

"It needs me at the house." I yelped.

Ricky and Alissa shared confused and scared expressions, but they followed me towards the old house.

"I'm close to the house. Are you a ghost?" I called into the cold.

No answer. A sudden chill gust of wind made me step back and close my eyes. I vaguely registered Alissa and Ricky gasping. I opened my eyes and was face to face with a guy. His hair was loose and long, hanging in brown waves round his shoulders. Our eyes met and I realised his pupils were slitted like a cat.

He leapt back with all the grace of a feline and that's when I noticed the other three.

"Are you Junko Misaki?" One of them asked.

The one that spoke had hair like fire. It was stunning. His skin was like porclein and his pupils were also slitted. He cocked his head to the side, causing the waves of red to trail past his shoulder. I sensed there was something wrong with them.

"Nope, I'm just a random human." I tried to back step and nearly fell over.

"Junko, step away. They're dangerous." Alissa called.

How dangerous were we talking?

"The four horsemen." She said.

"I thought they'd been imprisoned two thousand years ago." Ricky said, stepping back too.

"We were," The brunette said, mockingly. "A real stand up guy let us out."

I could only imagine who this guy was. They all but confirmed it.

"Derek Samuels says hello, Junko." The red head grinned.

Called it. I started back stepping towards Alissa and Ricky.

"The four horsemen?" I asked Alissa and she nodded.

"War." She pointed to the one with long brown hair.

"Famine." She motioned towards the one at the back with curly black hair.

"Pestilence." The one with no hair and a beard.

"And Death." She motioned to the red head.

Were they here to kill me? Derek must have gotten them for that exact service alone.

"Whatever Derek is paying," Ricky shouted. "Lucifer could double it."

"He's not paying anything," Pestilence finally said. "All that matters is we are free."

So. this meant they weren't going to kill me. Although if they were free then why weren't they leaving?

"So, no harm will come to Junko?" Alissa snapped, finding her courage.

"Call it curiosity," Death said. "I wanted to see this human."

"Welp, you've seen her." Ricky chuckled.

Why did I get the sense this was going to go from bad to much much worse.

**************

We were back in The NetherWorld. Evidently horsemen didn't need the bracelets to travel. Lemmy seemed shocked to see us back so soon, but he froze when he saw who was with us.

"What the fuck?" I heard him as he walked over.

I guess he recognised them too as did a lot of the demons on the grass. Demons were leaning towards one and other, whispering and pointing.
War seemed really interested in the training grounds and was looking around. Pestilence seemed very stoic and didn't seem to deem it necessary to look at anyone. Famine was also curious. Death was near me. He was glancing at the other demons, analysing them. From this angle he looked normal until he noticed me staring and smirked.

Lemmy got closer and paused.

"What the fuck is this?" He seethed.

"Derek Samuels released them." Alissa replied.

"We figured it was best to bring them here so they wouldn't hurt anyone." Ricky intoned.

"Horsemen," Lemmy snapped, and they all glanced towards him. "I will be telling his royal highness. Until he has come to a decision on what to do then you are to stay on the training grounds."

Oh fun.

"Whatever you say." War shrugged.

i did not need this on top of the whole break -up thing, but I guess I'd have to make the best of a bad situation.

Chapter Text

"Here are some of your clothes, Junko," Tris said. "Are you sure I can't just give you a room here? It would be no trouble."

I grasped my bag and shifted nervously. Being in this legion house was making me nervous. A door opened and Chris appeared.

"No, it's fine. I'll just be going." I said, hurriedly.

Chris seemed like he was about to say something when Gaia appeared too. She looked confused. This was one of the worst mornings in history. I smiled at Tris and left the house, leaning back on the closed door, breathing deeply. Now I could focus on myself and get stronger.

"Jun-ko."

Oh god, this morning could not get any worse. I opened my eyes and glared at Death. He was seated on the porch. strange eyes on me. What was this guy's deal?

"I'm very busy, Death." I called, voice trembling.

I had to remember he wasn't a typical demon. That same evil grin appeared on his face. Probably shouldn't have engaged him.

"I can see that," His eyes went to my bag. "Did your boyfriend break up with you?"

"You know very well that's what happened." I snapped.

Yesterday Alissa had helpfully informed everyone that I was going through a break-up. I mean, did she seriously have to include everyone? I moved away from the door and started walking. I whirled round and nearly collided with Death. I jumped back a few feet, still clutching my bag.

"I have safety scissors and I'm not afraid to use them." I said, rifling through the pockets.

"Don't worry, Junko. I'll wait." He chuckled.

I huffed and turned, walking towards Lemmy's. Lemmy was seated in his usual spot. He glanced at the two of us.

"Hey Death, cut the girl some slack." He said, sipping his whiskey.

"Mind your own business," Death snapped. "Junko and I are friends."

"Not." I mumbled.

Lemmy glanced between us. Before he could insight some wisdom, Alissa appeared. She rushed over to me and hugged me.

"How did it go?" She asked.

"As good as can be expected." I replied.

She glanced at Death and narrowed her eyes.

"Weren't you meant to be waiting for Lucifer to make a formal decision?" She asked.

"I was, but it got so boring." He replied.

Alissa guided me into the house and slammed the door. She grinned at me.

"Can't come in unless invited." She said.

"He won't leave me alone." I murmured.

"That's a bit odd," She replied. "He must like you."

Alissa led me along a corridor and we paused at the end. She dug around in her jeans pocket and pulled out a key. She unlocked the door and pushed it open. Inside was a room furnished in deep red.

"Why is it always red?" I asked.

"The Netherworldlian flag is red." She smiled.

The room was nice. I had no strong feelings either way. It had been a week and a half since Chris and I had broken up.

"I'll leave you to get settled in." Alissa patted my shoulder and left.

I set my bag down and sat on the ottoman at the foot of the bed. This was the most depressing day ever. I couldn't believe I had ended up here. I still had a pile of paperwork to sort through. I had been ignoring it and channeling my energy into training with Andy recently.

As much as I didn't want to go outside I knew I didn't want to be alone. I had avoided being alone with my thoughts as much as possible.

When I got back outside, Lemmy was analysing some information on his bracelet. His eyebrows were furrowed.

"Fuckin' Derek Samuels. He's been 'exorcising' ghosts and making them more toxic than ever." He said.

"But the demons here can take them, right?" I asked.

"There's been more use of anti-venom in the past week than there ever has been before." Lemmy replied, lowering his arm.

I sat down on the porch. I recognised the figure approaching as Debbie. She was always so glamorous and today was no exception. She stopped in front of Lemmy.

"Did you hear about Samuels?" She asked.

"I did. What's Lucifer's plan?" Lemmy asked.

Debbie grimaced and seemed reluctant to answer.

"He said he needs the legion leaders to defend hell," She said. "They're staying."

"That'll please Junko here." Lemmy laughed.

No, no, why'd that have to be the decision. I knew when the horsemen were back. All the demons on the grass started whispering and nudging each other. A few even got up and walked away. Debbie took no prisoners and approached them.

"Just because you're stuck here doesn't mean you can cause trouble." She began.

i peered round her to see what was happening.

"Don't worry, we're just like you now." War said.

He seemed somewhat reasonable if a bit excitable. My eyes immediately went to Death. He was standing at the end, slightly taller than Pestilence. He looked bored. Then, as if sensing my presence, his eyes locked on me and his mouth twitched into a smile.

Would it be rude to scowl at him? I managed a small smile. I looked away and back to Lemmy whilst Debbie was berating them about etiquette.

"Death seems to like you." Lemmy chuckled.

"I don't see why." I replied.

"Unusual for him." Lemmy said, chuckling at Debbie when she finished her tirade. "That woman is pure fire."

"Where are they gonna live?" I asked, dreading the answer.

"The choice is theirs. We're sending them to deal with the more dangerous ghosts. Although we're a bit concerned about how they'll act around humans." Lemmy said, sipping his drink.

"Another demon could teach them." I said, and Lemmy nearly choked on his drink.

"What other demons? Ain't no one wants to be around them." He set the drink down.

Yeah, it did seem like the other demons were giving them a wide berth. I immediately felt bad for them. It was like prejudice in the human world. I had no idea it extended to The NetherWorld too. Maybe this was my chance to find a way to move forward.

"I could be a guide in the human world. Think about it, they can protect me and I can guide them." I requsted.

Lemmy touched his beard and nodded to himself.

"You sure you want to spend that much time around Death?" Lemmy asked.

"Yeah, I mean, he's not so bad." I tried for enthusiasm.

Lemmy stood, dusting himself off. He took my hand and started walking. Really?! This soon, right this moment. He stopped in front of where they were sitting.

"Good news, horsemen, I've found your guide to the human world." He said, pulling me in front of him.

"The human?" Pestilence snapped.

"She'll be your guide on the condition you look after her." Lemmy replied.

"I don't know." Pestilence continued.

"Pestilence, shut the fuck up," Death grinned. "I like this idea."

Of course he would like this idea.

"Well, I'll leave you crazy kids to make friends." Lemmy grinned, leaving me standing there.

"H-hi, I'm Junko." I smiled, uneasily.

"It's nice to meet you." War was the only one who seemed somewhat normal.

Pestilence was still glaring at me. God, this guy was intimidating. Not helping was the fact that he was dressed like a biker. It was interesting to me how they had their own style despite not being around humans for so long.

"It's interesting," I said. "You guys have your own style so you must be slightly more able to cope in the human world. Maybe this won't be so difficult."

"You mean the clothes, princess," Death chuckled. "Nope, we stole them."

I sighed and lowered my head to my knees.

"Why would you do that?" I asked.

"Would you prefer the alternative?" He said.

This was going to be more painful than I thought. I guessed it would be a good idea to see what the first mission was. I pressed the buttons on my bracelet and the screen opened. A church in Mississippi. Derek must have made his way across most of America.

"I guess we're going to Mississippi." I closed the screen and waited to see if they'd ever been to Mississippi.

"We've been trapped in hell for a long time." War said.

******************

Lemmy's advice for me was to explain everything like how you would if aliens visited. Mannsdale was a fairly small town, nestled among farmlands with lakes on each side. It was very picturesque and it seemed like an easy place to start. Plus we were far enough away from where Derek was now that he wouldn't be coming back.

It was mid afternoon when we arrived and it dawned on me that I was basically the one leading this mission.

"Don't touch that car, please." I said, pulling Famine away from an expensive looking Audi.

"What does it do?" He asked, staring into the window at his reflection.

"It's a mode of transport," I explained. Famine just looked confused. "Humans get in and it drives them to where they have to go."

"Fascinating." He said.

I glanced at the house the Audi was in front of. The guy inside was watching us. Time to move on, maybe.

"Ok, let's go." I panicked, grabbing Famine.

What would Keith and the others do in this situation? They'd wait until night fall and investigate the church and look for clues. We should ask locals if they know anything. I decided the best place to start would be a diner on the main road.

It was a cheerful place. First, I had to explain what food and drink was, then I had to explain that the bracelets contained money and could be scanned over the chip and pin machines and then I had to explain what a chip and pin machine was.

We sat at a booth and the guys watched the world go by.

"Hey, kids, what'll it be?" A cheerful waitress had appeared.

"I'll have a stack of pancakes and a soda float." I smiled.

She scribbled it down and glanced at the guys. They looked so confused. It was all I could do not to laugh.

"Do you guys need a few more minutes?" The waitress asked.

"Minutes to do what?" Famine asked.

"Haha, you guys are so funny. They're kidding, but yes they need a few more minutes." I laughed, and the waitress smiled and walked away.

I hadn't explained how to order food. That was a mission in and of itself.

"I think I'll have whatever a coffee is." War said.

"No food?" I quizzed.

"We don't really need to eat." He replied.

Fair enough. Pestilence insisted on a strawberry milkshake. He was amazed by it when the waitress bought it over. He sipped it and I waited to see what he'd say.

"I enjoy this." He said.

A man of few words I guess. I ate my pancakes and watched as people came and left the diner.

"This is quite nice." I smiled.

I was starting to forget about my break-up. This was actually fun.

"Look at that." Famine pointed out the window.

A guy had pulled in on a motorcycle. The guy lifted his leg and got off the bike, making his way to the shop next door.

"Let's steal it." Death grinned.

"No, absoulutely not." I snapped.

"Little miss boring doesn't want to have some fun. What a surprise." He retorted.

"Stealing isn't fun. That guy probably worked hard to get that bike." I said back.

"Lovers tiff." War nudged Famine and they started laughing.

This was not a lovers tiff. I glared at Death and he leaned on his elbow, smirking at me, challengingly.

"Please just behave. This is my first time being in charge of a mission and I don't want to mess it up." I pleaded.

"Think you're in charge, do ya, princess?" Death mocked.

"Sort of." I mumbled.

Pestilence slammed the milkshake glass down and I waited for him to join in.

"The girl is our guide. Therefore she is in charge." He said, glaring at the waitress and raising his glass.

The waitress, to her credit, rushed over and took the glass. Pestilence seemed pleased he'd be getting another milkshake.

We stayed in the diner till dusk and then left. I made sure to tip the waitress since she'd been putting up with our nonsense for about two hours now. It was the middle of December so the sky was darkening early and it was beginning to become cold.

We'd need to find somewhere to stay the night and to get out of this cold. Somewhere to set up base. I quickly went back inside the diner and asked the waitress about hotels and she informed me there was one down the street on the corner.

A gentle snow fall began as we walked down the street. I was only wearing a thin hoodie and jeans. I was starting to regret that choice. My teeth chattered as we walked.

"Come here, princess." Death grabbed my arm.

I was about to protest when he shrugged off his leather jacket and draped it over my shoulders.

"W-won't you be cold?" I asked.

He was wearing a t-shirt, skinny jeans and trainers. He looked like he should be cold.

"The cold doesn't affect me." He replied, and carried on walking.

Wow, that was surprisingly generous. I turned and followed.

 

A/N: I have no access to my photobucket account lol. I can't post pictures of The Four Horsemen, but they are as follows.

War - Bruce Dickinson (young)

Famine - Ronnie James Dio (young)

Pestilence - Rob Halford

Death - Dave Mustaine (young)

Chapter Text

The hotel was fairly small. I pushed open the door and the guys followed. Inside it was warm and cosy. Through a small archway was a sitting room with two arm chairs and in the centre of the room was a fireplace. A fire crackled, lighting the room. It was all so pretty and I had to remind myself that I was here for a mission. My mind wandered and I thought about if Chris would enjoy this. If we had still been together then this would be so romantic.

"Can I help you?" A small man appeared behind the desk. His name tag read Mr.Smith.

"Hi, yes, we would like five rooms, please." I smiled.

"Of course, Miss. We're never too busy now, but wait till Christmas and we're packed." He replied, then peered over my shoulder.

I frowned and turned. War was staring at a decorative rifle hanging on the wall.

"That rifle is a civil war relic. Your friend has a good eye." Mr Smith smiled.

"Yeah, he likes that stuff." I rambled, not really sure what stuff War liked.

Mr.Smith smiled again and his eyes flicked to the right of me and I noticed Death standing next to me. If it would have been polite to face palm I would have, but then I remembered I was wearing his jacket.

"Why five rooms?" Death snapped.

"Because there are five of us." I replied.

"Well if you two are a couple then why not share. We certainly don't discriminate." Mr. Smith smiled.

I pressed my face into my hands. As annoying as this was I still needed to ask about the church.

"We were actually here to see the church." I said, lifting my head.

"Well of course. Most tourists are. It's haunted," Mr.Smith replied, then started digging around behind the desk. "Here's a book someone wrote on the hauntings."

"And it's ok to go look at the church?" I asked.

"Sure is, Miss. If you want there's a ghost tour."

"What's a ghost tour?" War had appeared next to me.

"You board the bus near the church and the bus takes you round all the haunted locations Mississippi has to offer." Mr.Smith answered.

"And a bus is?" War ventured again.

"Like a car but bigger with more seats." I replied.

Mr.Smith must have wondered what the heck was wrong with them. He stared at us in abject confusion.

"You kids don't know what a bus is? Do they have buses where you're from?" He asked.

"We know what a bus is now. Why would hell need buses?" War said.

Seriously? I frowned and then glanced at Death. He was grinning and seemingly enjoying the chaos.

"Haha, he's joking. He doesn't really mean hell cause that would be crazy." I laughed, and Mr.Smith chuckled too, albeit rather nervously.

He handed me the keys and I swiped my bracelet over the card reader. I went back over to the guys and handed them each a key. The hotel was small so hopefully they wouldn't get lost or hurt.

"We meet back here in ten minutes." I pointed to the bracelet and pressed a button. The time flashed up.

**********

My room was on the second floor down the hall. It was painted cream and lilac. The bed was huge and the entire room smelt like freshly baked cookies. I was alone again. I dumped my bag on the floor and sat on the edge of the bed. This would have been perfect for Chris and I. We could have come here and had a meal and cuddled.

I rubbed my eyes and a few tears leaked out. It had been over a week. I wiped my eyes on my sleeves and then realized who's jacket this was. It smelt of sulfur and something earthy and not human. What the heck was I doing? I removed the jacket and breathed heavily through my mouth.

Instead I went to the bathroom, washed my face and put on a thicker coat and a wool hat. Someone tapped at my door and I rushed to open it.

Famine was at my door. He was wearing a leather jacket now and when he saw me he smiled.

"I'm next door to you," He said, then paused. "Have you been crying, Junko?"

"No, don't be silly," I said, quickly. "Listen, I have Death's jacket. Can you return it to him?"

"Or you could return it." He grinned.

Thanks for the help. I'd return said jacket once we were downstairs. When we got to the lobby I was amazed they'd managed to find their way back here.

"One jacket." I said, handing it to Death.

He shrugged it back on and then noticed my bobble hat.

"Nice hat, princess." He reached up, messing with the bobble.

"Quit it." I pouted.

Outside it was freezing and we walked the couple of blocks to the church. A few cars passed. The church was on an isolated road. There were no street lamps here and it was oddly quiet. Next to the church was a graveyard.

Someone nearby was crying. It was a soft sound that echoed round the graveyard and I felt my hair stand on end. When we rounded the corner, taking us further into the graveyard I could see a woman. She was on the floor, sobbing. As we approached, Pestilence gently pushed me back so I was safe.

The woman stopped crying or rather she stopped making crying sounds. Her head lifted and turned towards us. Her eyes were black and there was a pungent smell in the air. She started to float upwards, letting out a screech.

The ghost flew forward and Pestilence raised his arms then reached towards his chest, pulling out a claymore. The ghost hit the weapon head on and went flying backwards.

"Take the girl." He snapped.

War grabbed my hand and we ran. The sound of giggling filled the air. Ghostly hands rose from the ground. They grew longer like vines and started reaching for us.

"Spirits can you hear me?" A voice rang out.

The hands disappeared and a group of guys rounded the corner. One was holding a camera and two others were walking in front.

"There are other people here, dude." One of them said.

Pestilence rounded the corner a moment later.

"I have subdued the ghost, but she will be back." He said.

I glanced at the boys. They looked like they were high schoolers.

"Are you guys looking for ghosts too?" Asked one of the high schoolers.

"Something like that." I replied.

"Dude, it's a girl." The one at the front grinned.

"I'm Michael," The one at the front said. "Which high school do you go to?"

"We're college students." I blurted out.

Nothing else happened after the high schoolers arrived. They walked around with the camera, trying to find ghosts and found nothing. I checked my bracelet and found it was nearly two in the morning.

"We should go back to the hotel." I said, and we left.

Mr.Smith was gone when we got back and the lobby was dark. We all went to our rooms. I unlocked my door and walked in. Tonight had been a bit of a failure. I sat on the bed. I could call Chris and ask for his advice. If it was only for advice then it would be ok.

No, it wouldn't. Who was I kidding? He was engaged. It wouldn't be right to call him. I buried my head in hands and took a couple of steadying breaths. Why wasn't our love enough? Why couldn't we be together?

I choked on a sob. I knew I still loved Chris. He was all I ever thought about when I was alone. He was my first thought in the morning and the last before bed so why wasn't that enough. Someone tapped on my door and I thought it might be Famine.

I got up and scrubbed my face, desperately trying to remove the tears. I went to the door and pulled it open. The hallway was dimly lit, but I recognized Death.

"What?" I asked.

"I was bored," He shrugged. He angled his head to get a better look at me and his hand touched my face, moving it so he could see me better. "Are you crying, princess?"

"N-no, of course not." I replied.

He didn't look like he believed me. Against my better judgement I let him in. I needed company. He sat on the bed and beckoned me over. Against all judgement, my pulse rate quickened.

I sat next to him, but stayed a few centimeters away. I was exhausted and crawled up to the top of the bed and laid down. Death laid next to me. I was inches away from him. Up close, his cat like eyes were hazel and I could see how soft his skin looked. His hair fanned across the pillows.

"I need to sleep." I murmured.

"Then sleep." He replied, lifting his hand and brushing my hair from my face.

"What about you?" I asked.

"Don't worry about me."

I nodded and closed my eyes. I needed warmth and I nestled closer. An arm pulled me closer and I breathed in the scent of sulfur. All that mattered in this moment was that I wasn't alone.

Chapter Text

I was on the cusp of waking up. Everything felt floaty and light. My thoughts went as they always did; to Chris. He disappeared into darkness and I felt myself panic. The scent of sulfur invaded my senses. It was all consuming and yet familiar. Feeling returned to my body and I could feel someone next to me.

"Death?" I whispered.

"Hey, sleeping beauty." He was above me.

I felt his hand gently push my hair behind my ear. I opened my eyes and tilted my head to see him. The winter sun glinted through the window, casting light on Death, making him look almost angelic.

"D-did you sleep?" I asked, voice thick with tiredness.

"I don't really need sleep." He replied.

"What time is it?" I mumbled, rubbing my eyes.

I couldn't help, but watch as he shifted his head and subtly moved his hair out of the way. It was an effortless, fluid motion. I had briefly taught them all how to use the bracelet and I watched as Death pressed the buttons.

"Eleven thirty." He said.

"I love your hair." I blurted out. Yeah, that was stupid.

I faced away, feeling completely dumb. Why'd I say that? I hadn't long left a relationship. What would Chris think of me? An arm wrapped round me.

"Thank you, princess." Death was right near my ear.

A blush crept up my cheeks towards my ears. Suddenly nothing mattered. Nothing, but this moment. Someone knocked on my door. We both glanced round.

"Hello, young Miss," It was Mr.Smith. "I'm nearly done serving breakfast if you're hungry."

I was pretty hungry. Plus the reality of the situation hit me again. I was a horrible, awful person. I was the worst human being there ever was. I got up and we both left my room.

When we got to the lobby I could hear noises through the lounge. I followed them and found the others sitting at a table. Mr.Smith was pouring some coffee into War's cup.

"Junko, Death," He grinned. "You guys have to drink this coffee. I've had five cups."

Pestilence pulled the chair back next to him and I sat down. Death sat next to me.

"How come you weren't in your room this morning?" Famine asked Death.

"Mind your own business." Death shot back.

"Come on, guys. Let's all be nice to each other." I managed a smile.

"Yes, perhaps we should all endeavor to be friendly." Pestilence said, sipping a cup of coffee.

After breakfast was over, I knew we needed to do something about the church. I didn't want to call and ask for help. It would be stupid. I knew we could do this. I found myself seated in the conservatory, flicking through the book Mr.Smith had given me.

****************

The day passed peacefully and I had managed to fall asleep in the conservatory. Someone nudged my cheek and I woke up. The room was shrouded in darkness. I could make out War, standing in front of me.

"It's night time." He grinned.

The book slipped from my lap and landed on the floor. I got up and followed him. The others were waiting by the front door.

Unlike last night, the moon was full tonight. It's eerie light shone down and seemed to act as a guide towards the church.

"Tonight will be different." Pestilence informed me.

This time no one was at the church. It was deadly quiet then the sobbing started. Pestilence nudged Famine. I had been curious about their weapons since the night before. Pestilence lifted his hand and pulled the claymore from his chest, right in the spot where his heart would be. Famine did the same, pulling out a sword too. This one was silver with ridges on the blade.

War did the same, pulling forth a pointed, fencing sword. I really was interested to see what Death's weapon was and was amazed when he removed a scythe. The ghost appeared, flying above us. When she flew down, Pestilence swung his sword and her claws hit the steel, bouncing off.

"We shall deal with the ghost." He shouted.

Again the ghostly hands sprouted from the ground. War and Death sliced them as they appeared. I remembered the folklore from the book and glanced at the grave the ghost had risen from. Inside the church was a statue of a woman and it was said she wanted to hold the jewel on the grave. I could see the gem glinting across the way.

"I'm going for the gem." I shouted.

Death and War shared a look. War continued to cut the ghostly hands. I managed to narrowly avoid the ghost as Pestilence hit her with another swing of his sword. As I ran, more hands rose, but Death cut them back with his scythe. I got to the grave and gripped the gem with my fingers, pulling as hard as I could.

I heard the ghost shriek behind me and looked round. She had seen and was circling past Pestilence and Famine, heading towards me. She didn't get far as Death swung the scythe up, catching her before she could touch me. I turned and focused on the gem, prising it from the grips. Eventually it released.

"Got it." I shouted.

Death pushed the ghost back, sending her flying back towards Pestilence. I ran and got to the church doors, pushing them, only to find they were locked. War ran over, lifting his sword and bringing it down on the lock. The door opened on the first push and I ran inside. I could see the statue and was inches from it. I reached out with the gem and set it into the statues open hands.

It fit perfectly. Everything calmed down immediately. The ghostly hands vanished. I went back outside. The ghostly woman glided past me and floated into the statue. Glancing down, I noticed I was covered in mud.

"We did it." I said, quietly. Then a little louder. "Oh my God, we actually did it."

By the time we got back to the hotel, the sun was starting make its way into the sky. I rushed upstairs and packed my bag. We got back to The NetherWorld just as demons were waking up and leaving the legion houses for missions and training.

Lemmy was just coming onto the porch when he saw us. He smiled broadly.

"Well, look at this." He grinned.

"We did it." I smiled.

"Congrats. Looks like this'll be a permanent thing." He said.

"What happens now?" War asked.

"We celebrate with milkshakes." Pestilence smiled.

Lemmy sighed and chuckled. He made his way down the steps.

"I need to speak with Junko as she was in charge," He said, somewhat somberly. "It'll be me and another legion leader."

The feeling of panic began to rise in my stomach. I knew what this meant.

*******************

"Can I check your bracelet, Junko?" Lemmy asked.

I handed it to him and shuffled nervously. I was in Chris' office. Somewhere I didn't want to be at the moment. Lemmy was busy scrolling through the mission log and nodding. I glanced around the office and noticed something was missing. The snow globe I had got Chris. It was gone.

"Where's the snow globe?" I asked.

Lemmy faltered for a minute and sideways looked at Chris. He sighed and I waited for a response.

"I have put it into storage." Chris replied.

"Storage? How come?" I pestered.

"Gaia felt it was childish and I agreed." He said, somewhat shortly.

How dare he get mad at me? I parted my lips to speak and then closed them, taking a shaky breath.

"But I got it for you." I snapped, suddenly.

"Yes, but you and I are no longer involved." Chris replied.

Lemmy had stopped looking through the mission logs and had stood from his perch on the desk.

"Junko, let's go. Your team will be wondering where you are." He said.

I stood too and rubbed my eyes, following Lemmy. We left the office, shutting the door. We walked down the hallway.

"I'm sorry." I murmured.

"Don't be. I can see you're hurt," Lemmy had stopped and turned to face me, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Don't lose yourself trying to hold onto someone that doesn't care about you."

I nodded then and followed him to the door. He opened it and we stepped outside. I still felt miserable.

"The human has returned."

I glanced up to see Pestilence and the others sat on the grass. Had they waited for me?

"You guys waited. You didn't have to." I smiled.

"Yeah, we can't celebrate without you." War said.

I glanced at Lemmy and he smiled. Maybe moving forward wouldn't be such a bad thing. I started walking over. These were my team mates. I still noticed other demons avoiding them, but I didn't care anymore.

"High five." I raised my hand at War and he looked confused.

I clapped my other hand to the raised one to demonstrate and he smiled and high fived me. I did the same to Pestilence and Famine. I got to Death and wrapped my arms round his middle, giving him a hug. I thought he might not reciprocate, but he pulled me closer.

"And why do I get a hug?" He asked.

"Just shut up and enjoy it." I replied.

After that we left to celebrate. It was time to move forward.

Chapter Text

The sun rose over the horizon, casting soft, yellow light across the nearby crossroads. Derek Samuels groaned as the light shone through the car window. The young priest next to him stirred.

"What the fuck do I do now?" Derek snapped.

"I am unsure, Sir." The young priest replied.

"You seemed pretty damn sure when we summoned those monsters." Derek shot back, burying his rugged face into his hands.

"I'm sorry,sir," The young priest said. "At least Hunter is with God now."

Derek shifted in his seat. Slowly, he lifted his head and glanced out the window. He scowled and got out the car, marching towards the shadowed area of the forest. The light from the sun couldn't reach the edges of the forest.

"What the fuck do you want?" Derek hissed at the figure.

"Good Morning, Mr.Samuels." The Wide Brim Hat Man said.

He was hidden from the light underneath a tree. Derek spat on the ground and the entity sighed.

"My boy is dead." Derek seethed.

"Ah, yes, Hunter," Wide Brim Hat Man said, somberly. "A young man full of spirit and promise. Children are always the light of our lives."

"Like you'd know." Derek spat again.

"Would it surprise you if I said that I do know," Wide Brim Hat Man replied. "Do not fear, Mr. Samuels. Your ritual was a success and all my work will come to fruition soon."

With that the shadow figure started walking towards the thicker parts of the forest. Derek stood on the edge watching. He turned and made his way back to the truck.

****************

Mornings were always the most difficult part of the day. I combed my hair, not too difficult now it's shorter. My bracelet beeped. alerting me to a new job. I had been struggling to get work done for college, but somehow I had managed it.

When I got downstairs it was very quiet. I still hated being alone with my thoughts. I went and sat on the porch, watching as other demons got up. A few were on the grass, sparring.

"Hey, Junko." Andy had snuck up to the porch.

"You're up early." I smiled.

"I went to see Juliet before she left for a mission." He said.

"How's things over there?" I motioned to the legion house.

"Yeah, pretty good. A lots happening with the wedding and what not." Andy stopped himself and glanced at me.

"This soon?" I asked.

"Yeah, Gaia's father is really keen." Andy replied.

I couldn't figure out if I wanted to cry or run to the edge of the grass and scream really loudly. It still stung to hear that Chris was getting married.

"D-do they make each other happy?" I asked.

"Yeah, it seems like it." Andy shrugged.

I guessed it was OK as long as they were happy. Andy smiled too. His shoulders untensed. I hadn't meant to burden him with all the questions. It was just something I had to know.

"Hey, look who it is." He said, looking over his shoulder.

Ariana had come out of Eric's legion house and was waving. Andy nodded towards her and I followed.

"Junko, I've missed you." She hugged me when we got closer.

"Yeah, it has been a while." I replied.

We sat down and I noticed Ariana had another massive book in front of her. She sure liked to read.

"I heard you've been going on missions." She said to me.

"Yeah, I got a new team." I smiled.

"Speaking of which." Andy said.

I peered past him. Ariana followed his gaze and I faintly wondered how she'd react. I stood up and waved, jumping up and down on the spot, making Andy laugh.

War saw me first and waved back. The demons between them and us moved and gave them wary looks.

"The four horsemen." Ariana said.

They sat down and Death sat next to me.

"Andy, this is my team." I said proudly.

"Yeah, I know who they are." He replied.

"I do too," Ariana said, quickly. "I'm Ariana by the way."

She had leaned over her book, extending her hand at War. He stared at it then at her for a long moment. I held out my right hand and took his right hand, shaking it slowly as if to demonstrate.

"Oh right, I get it." He took Ariana's hand and did the same.

"It's really awesome to meet you all." She smiled.

She leaned back and started flicking through her book. Andy scowled and I saw a few other demons walk around us in a big loop. He opened his mouth to say something, but thought better of it.

"Must be weird for you guys being out of the prison circle." He said.

"So weird. The human world has changed so much." Famine replied.

I nodded along until I felt someone lift my hair. I pulled back and glared at Death. He smiled innocently at me.

"It's too early for you to be this annoying." I said.

"You love it." He replied.

Ariana was still flicking through her book when she stopped and smiled.

"Fun fact, all the grim scythes are based on the original scythe carried by Death." She grinned, shutting the book.

Really?

Andy looked amazed and then smirked.

"The scythes aren't so great." He said.

"Think so, do ya?" Death was staring Andy down now.

"Yeah, I'll bet I could knock you down a peg or two." Andy grinned.

Death smirked and stood. His hand went to his chest right where a heart should be and he pulled out the scythe. He spun it on his hand and pointed it at Andy.

Andy removed his two guns from his holsters. I shuffled over to Ariana.

"Is this safe?" I asked.

"Yeah, sparring is fine." She replied.

Andy aimed the weapons and squeezed the triggers, firing several bullets. Death sighed and spun the scythe again, making the bullets bounce off the weapon. Death swung the scythe at Andy, nearly catching him. Andy, to his credit leapt into the air and cartwheeled backwards, landing nearby.

"You nearly scalped me." Andy shouted, laughing.

"That was the intention." Death replied.

He leapt upwards, swinging the scythe and narrowly missing Andy again.

"Something about this being safe." I mumbled.

"Maybe not safe, but it's fun." War said.

Andy aimed the weapons again and fired a few more spirit rounds. He leapt back when the scythe nearly took his arm off.

"Fuck, you're fast." He said, sounding breathless.

It was interesting to watch. It was lucky that Andy was as nimble as he was otherwise he could have gotten hurt. I glanced at Death. He was grinning and I admired how graceful he was. For a brief moment, Death met my gaze. I looked away quickly, but Ariana noticed.

"You like him." She stated.

"No, I don't." I replied.

"Does Junko like Death?" Ariana leaned past me and asked the other horsemen.

"Yes, the human likes Death," Pestilence smirked. "Although one might be hard pressed to figure out why."

"Thanks for talking about me like I'm not here." I pouted.

Ariana giggled and leaned back to sit with me. Andy had raised his hands.

"Time out." He called.

"If you quit now it means I win." Death taunted.

"Consider this one of many so you don't win." Andy shot back.

"Whatever helps you sleep." Death replied, spinning the scythe again just before it de-materialized.

Andy came and sat back down. He had holstered his guns. Death came back and sat next to me. He was leaning on his elbows and when he noticed me staring his lips quirked at the corners.

"Did ya like the show, princess?" He said.

"I like it better when you act nice." I replied.

"No, see, that's not why you like me." Death grinned.

Frustrating was probably the best way to describe Death sometimes. I faintly wondered what happened to demon that hugged me that night at the hotel. My bracelet buzzed again and I lifted my arm.

A night in a forest. Sounded like the camping trip with Andy and Ashley all over again.

"This is interesting." I murmured.

"Where you headed to?" Ariana asked.

"North Carolina," I replied. "The middle of a forest."

I had disliked camping last time so it definitely won't be fun this time. Did my new team know what camping was? Probably not.

"Do you guys know what camping is?" I asked.

"No." War replied.

"Well, we need tents and we stay in them in a forest." I said.

"That's fine." Famine chimed in.

"It'll be awful. There'll be bugs and it'll be dark." I whined.

"You're not scared of the dark, are ya, princess?" Death grinned.

"No, shut up." I snapped.

"She is most definitely scared of the dark." Pestilence agreed.

I really didn't want to do this, but I figured it had to be done no matter what. After a while of sitting there, catching up with Ariana I went to secure some camping equipment. I didn't know where the storage area was in Lemmy's house so I'd snuck over Chris' to find some stuff.

I was carrying quite a few bundled up tents in my arms when the door opened. I thought it might be someone here to pick up items for a mission. I turned and dropped everything when I saw Chris.

"Need a hand?" He asked.

"Y-yeah I guess." I murmured.

He made me put the tents down and he keyed in a few buttons on his bracelet. A green light shone from the bracelet and he scanned it over the tents. They disappeared and he lowered his arm.

"All sorted." He managed a small smile.

"Thanks. I should go." I said, side stepping him.

"Junko, wait," He called. I stopped. "I'm sorry for everything."

I faltered and shifted from foot to foot.

"It's fine. I understand. Sorry I gave you so much hassle about the snow globe." I replied.

"It's important to you. I should have left it." Chris said.

I couldn't be mad at him. None of it was his fault.

"I'm happy for you and Gaia." I said, and I meant it.

"Thanks," He smiled. "I'll never forget our time together, though."

There was a pause and he rubbed the back of his neck. I stepped back as though to leave.

"I noticed you hanging out with Death." Chris said, suddenly.

"Y-yeah." I shuffled again.

"You two are well suited." He smiled.

I blinked dumbly and then managed a small smile. Chris sighed and checked his bracelet. He walked past me and paused.

"If you need any help with missions then don't hesitate to ask." He said, then continued walking.

I watched him go and I felt a little bit lighter than before. Maybe this camping trip wouldn't be so bad.

 

A/N: I'm an eternally grateful for the views and the comments. I wanted to apologise to anyone reading this story and wondering what the heck has happened. I explained on Wattpad, but neglected to explain on here. When I first began this story I was trapped in an abusive relationship. That relationship has since ended and when it did I struggled to write this story. I couldn't bring myself to write, but I knew I wanted to continue. I knew I liked the characters and the story. Junko and Chris probably won't be getting back together and I'm sorry for that. I hope people will continue to enjoy the story and if people don't, then I totally understand.

Chapter Text

"Remind me again," I said, teeth chattering. "Why are we doing this?"

"Well, the rangers have said that people have been reporting strange things so that's why we're doing this." Ariana replied.

We had arrived at the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina and it was freezing. I huffed out a breath and could see it in front of my face. No one would be crazy enough to camp here mid December. No one except us, of course.

It was mid afternoon and the temperature was already dropping. I had bundled myself into a thick jumper, then a coat, a scarf and a wool hat. I glanced back to make sure the guys were keeping up. They didn't feel the cold. Ariana was wearing a thick coat too, probably due to her half human heritage.

The trail circled round and we pushed through some trees and found a spot. We were surrounded by huge trees. It made my head spin, seeing them all.

"The stuff should be right around here," Ariana said. She stopped by a pile of camping gear. "Found it."

"The guide book says there are bears out here." War said, leaning over to look at the guide book Pestilence was holding.

"There are bears here?" I panicked.

"Of course, there must be all sorts of animals out here." Ariana laughed. Glad she found this entertaining.

Ariana was sorting all the tents. i rushed over and started to help, anything to forget about being mauled by bears. It took a while, but the guys managed to learn how to set up the equipment.

"Next order of business is to start a fire." Ariana said. I was so happy she was here.

"I'm on it." Famine smiled.

He disappeared into the trees.

"Be careful." I called after him.

I hoped he wouldn't get lost. Believe it or not I was actually becoming attached to my team. Pestilence had also disappeared, but returned carrying a large log.

"We will need this to sit on." He said, setting it down. He disappeared again.

War sat on the felled log and flicked through the guidebook. I went and stood next to Death. He, like the others wasn't really dressed for the cold weather. He was wearing skinny jeans and hi-top trainers and a plaid red shirt with a t-shirt layered under it.

"Want me to protect you from the bears, princess?" He grinned.

"There aren't any bears." I sighed.

"What's that behind you then?" He asked, innocently.

I turned quickly, expecting to see a grizzly making its way out of the trees, but saw nothing. I turned back round and glared at him.

"First you're scared of the dark, now you're scared of bears." Death chuckled.

This was going to be a long weekend. I noticed Famine carrying a load of sticks and he set them down in the centre of our camp site. I walked back over followed by Death.

"If only David was here." Ariana mumbled, pulling out a lighter.

She pressed the button, lighting a piece of scrap paper on fire and laying it in the centre of the twigs. The flame quickly engulfed the sticks and she smiled.

"All set." She stood up.

All around us, the forest was full of life. I could hear birds in the trees and the snap of twigs as animals made their way through the under growth. We sat on the logs and talked for a bit. Ariana excused herself to go and call Mike.

When she returned it was becoming dark. She sat back down and glanced upwards at the trees. The birds had stopped chirping and it was starting to become silent. It was so weird. The dark arrived quickly because of Winter.

After eating I decided I was going to rest in my tent. I crawled in and sat on the floor. I laid down on the pillow and stared at the roof of my tent. I closed my eyes and heaved out a sigh. I must have dozed off because when I woke up it was even darker. The only light was coming from the camp fire.

I shuffled out of my tent. Death was sat on the log. Where was everyone else? I walked over, nearly stumbling and sat next to him. His arm went round me and hugged me. I buried my face in his neck, breathing in the scent of his hair.

"This is kind of nice." I murmured.

"Junko." He glanced down at me, then lifted his other hand to his lips in a sshing motion.

I frowned at him. He didn't often say my name unless it was in a mocking way. Usually he called me princess, in a mocking way too. This counted as weird behaviour.

"What's wrong?" I whispered.

"Listen." He replied.

I managed to slow my breathing down so I could hear. I heard it then, a twig snapped nearby, then another. Something was circling our little camp ground. Maybe a wild animal.

"Junko, come here." Ariana's voice called.

I shifted slightly. Where was that coming from? It sounded like it was coming from the edge of the trees.

"It's Ariana." I said, softly, then went to stand, only to be pulled back by Death. I looked at him and he shook his head.

"Ariana is in her tent." He said.

I gulped and took a shaky breath. What was in the woods? What was circling us?

"Help me." Ariana's voice called again. It sounded off though.

The sound of a zipper moving made me jump. Ariana crawled out of her tent. She looked confused and was staring at the trees.

"Did you both hear that?" She whispered. I almost didn't hear her.

"Its been circling us for about an hour now." Death replied.

"I-it imitated my voice." She murmured, shakily.

The other tent zippers opened and the other three horsemen appeared. For a moment the twigs stopped snapping. It was silent again. For some reason this was not a relief. It was tense silence that seemed to be holding its breath. I felt Death tighten his grip on me.

"What do you think it is?" War asked.

"Whatever it is, it is not an animal." Pestilence replied.

The silence seemed to drag. Ariana side stepped and dug around in her bag, pulling out a torch. She fiddled with the button and turned the torch on. The yellow light was eerie and she shone the torch slowly round the edge of the tree line. Nothing was there. Pestilence stepped towards her. He tapped the bottom of the torch, motioning for her to aim it at the trees.

She glanced at him and obeyed, lifting the torch and shining it towards the branches. She pivoted on the spot. The torch hit the tops of the trees and something fast leapt from one tree to another. It was a blur, so fast that I almost missed it. Ariana lowered the torch, letting it shine on the ground.

"What was that?" Famine asked.

"I'm not sure," Ariana replied. "But I'm assuming it's the thing scaring campers."

The sound of twigs snapping began again. It was circling again. I could hear my heart in my ears. This was terrifying.

"It's like its hunting us." War said.

Way to make the whole situation better. The twigs stopped again and the next sound made my blood run cold. This thing let out a screech. I heard myself whimper. The sound echoed through the air and then stopped. I saw Pestilence remove his claymore, War did the same as did Famine.

"N-no." I said, trembling when Death stood up. He faltered then lowered himself back down to meet my gaze.

"I'll be fine," He murmured, tracing his hand along my cheek. "Don't worry."

He stood and removed his scythe. Ariana side stepped and sat next to me. Her hands were shaking too. A twig snapped above us and Famine leapt up, slicing at whatever this thing was. Another screech echoed through the air.

The twigs moved and whatever this thing was landed metres away near the tree line. The guys stepped forward, weapons raised. Ariana lifted the torch again and aimed it at where this creature was. In the dim light I could see this thing had a long, lean body covered in grey skin. Its eyes were white and staring at us. It opened its mouth and screeched again, revealing a set of sharp teeth and lips torn and covered in blood.

It leapt forward, clashing with Pestilence's claymore and then leaping back and landing on a tree. The blade had damaged the surface of its skin, but it seemed like it couldn't cut the lower level.

"Does anyone have anything silver?" Ariana asked.

"The scythe is 60% silver." Pestilence motioned towards Death.

The creature used the tree and flew forward, aiming at Ariana and I. Death raised his scythe and slashed it down the creatures leg, making it screech again. It jumped backwards and snarled. This time the wound was bleeding a fair bit. The sky was beginning to lighten and the creature hissed and disappeared into the tree line again.

We all stayed in stunned silence. I glanced at Ariana. She was an expert in all creatures and ghosts, but she seemed just as stunned. As though she sensed my gaze, she stood.

"I'll need my books." She murmured.

Pestilence de-materialized his weapon and the others followed suit.

"I have a feeling it will return tonight." He called to Ariana.

"Yeah, I have that feeling too," She replied. "It looked emaciated, like it hadn't eaten in weeks."

Death sat down next to me and I felt him put his arm back round me. I lifted my head to look at him. His mouth twitched at the corners.

"Told ya I'd be OK." He said.

"Yeah." I replied.

The winter sun rose above the trees and relief flooded my system. That thing, whatever it was, hadn't managed to do whatever it planned. We were still here though, in a forest with it and it would definitely be back tonight.

Chapter Text

After the shock of seeing that creature I had decided to crawl back into my tent and sleep for a couple of hours. I laid there and eventually dozed off. I awoke to the sound of fabric being moved and looked up. Death was halfway in the entrance.

"Were you sneaking up on me?" I asked, drowsily.

"Just making sure you hadn't been eaten by bears." He said.

He went to leave and for some reason I felt sad about that. I hadn't meant to like him, hadn't meant to find his sarcastic nature funny and hadn't meant to like how he flicked his hair over his shoulder.

"Are you going?" I asked.

"You want me to stay?" He said, and I tried not to blush when his lips quirked into that trademark grin.

I shuffled and then nodded my head slowly. I could feel his gaze on me, but I kept my eyes averted. Him laying next to me forced me to look at him, albeit very quickly.

"Last night was the second time you've saved me." I murmured.

"I'm trying to make a habit of it." Death replied.

All the thoughts in my head were screaming at me. I still loved Chris, right? We had been together for six months. That was a long time, right? I was supposed to love Chris still. We'd been apart for all of two weeks and I was forgetting about him. Or maybe I was meant to forget about him. He was getting married and it certainly wasn't to me.

"Tell me about yourself." I blurted.

Death blinked at me. For once he didn't have that look of arrogance on his face. He looked away and I watched when lifted his hand and moved some of his hair. He was so different and it really intrigued me.

"I was created, walked earth for about 500 years, then imprisoned." He replied.

"How come you were imprisoned?" I asked.

"My father and I didn't get on so he imprisoned me," He said, then paused. "In the prison circle in The NetherWorld."

"Oh, my parents passed away when I was young." I murmured.

Having your parents die was probably slightly different to having them decide they just didn't like you and then imprison you somewhere. I looked away and then something crossed my mind.

"Oh my God, how old are you?" I said, then covered my mouth.

Death, to his credit, smiled. He didn't look offended.

"Older than you." He said, and shrugged.

"You're such a jerk." I said, and narrowed my eyes.

"And you like it." He replied, the same arrogant smirk appearing on his lips.

We were inches apart now. I could see all the colours in his hazel eyes and I could see how those eyes had suddenly become very serious. Were we going to kiss? I offered no resistance. He was so close.

"Junko?" Ariana's voice said. She was outside my tent.

I took a steadying breath. I lifted my eyes to meet Death's.

"Yeah, I'm here." I called.

We left the tent and she smiled when she saw us. Ariana had a load of books piled by the logs.

"I think I've found some information." She beamed.

"Hey, we're going up the trail," War called. "Death, you wanna come?"

Death nodded and walked past me. I thought he might ignore me, but he turned just before he got past me.

"Till next time, princess." He grinned, and turned, walking towards the other three horsemen.

They disappeared through the trees, leaving me with Ariana. I glanced at her and she was smiling very broadly, like she knew a secret. I went and sat on the log with her. she lifted a book and opened it to a page she had bookmarked.

"Have you ever heard of the wendigo?" She asked.

I shook my head and she lowered her gaze to the book. She seemed pretty happy she had found some stuff out. This must have been what she was up to all morning.

"The wendigo is a spirit. It represents Winter, starvation and cannibalism." She said, and glanced at me.

"That's pretty gross." I replied.

"What we saw last night matches the description as given by the indigenous people that spoke the Algonquian languages." She continued to scan the book.

This was all so interesting. I had always been interested in learning about the native cultures. Their's was a rich culture.

"And that wendigo? What does it want?" I asked.

"To eat. It hunts to feed its hunger, but it's never full. That explains the emaciated look it had." She replied.

"It wanted to eat us?!" I yelped.

"Yes, the legend states that the wendigo eats human flesh. Anyone that does so will be tainted by the wendigo curse." Ariana said, lowering the book.

"And how do we stop the wendigo?" I asked.

"That might be more difficult," She said. "Fire would do it."

That would be tricky. We were surrounded on all sides by trees. If we started a forest fire it could destroy everything. Ariana seemed to be thinking about this same dilemma.

"I'm going to have some coffee and decide what to do in a minute." She decided.

She got up and grabbed her thermos. We stayed in silence for a few minutes whilst she sipped at her coffee. Her eyes lifted to me and she smiled again.

"You really like Death?" She asked it like someone would ask a question.

"I feel so guilty." I replied.

Ariana frowned at me. She shifted a little closer to me and poured some more coffee into the lid, offering it to me. I accepted.

"Why do you feel guilty?" She asked.

"I think about Chris, but lately I've not been thinking of him as much, but then I feel bad for forgetting him. I feel bad for liking someone else." I said, quickly and finally able to get it off my chest.

"Chris is getting married. It's not your fault." Ariana said.

The trees suddenly moved and we both held our breath. Would that wendigo come back during the day? Famine burst through the tree line.

"You two have got to see this." He said, turning and motioning for us to follow.

Ariana and I exchanged glances and got up, following through the trees. We walked up the trail and then veered right through the trees. The forest got incredibly dense here and eventually we caught up. The guys were standing near a cave. A massive opening in the mountain.

"It's a cave." Ariana said.

"There are cave systems all over the mountain." Pestilence replied.

"It's what's in the cave." War said, and he handed Ariana something.

I peered at it. It was long and an off-white colour. It was a bone. What a grim discovery. Were there more bones scattered throughout the cave system?

"Is it human?" I asked.

Ariana pressed her bracelet and scanned the bone with it. She grimaced a little and handed the bone back to War.

"It's a human leg bone." She replied.

The morning was slowly giving way to afternoon and with the way winter was, we wouldn't have a lot of time to formulate a plan.

"Fire is the only thing that can burn away a wendigo's tough layer of skin." Ariana said.

"We won't be able to catch it to set it on fire." Pestilence said.

An idea buzzed into my head. It was a stupid, dangerous idea, but it might work.

"I have a plan." I said, smiling nervously.

"You do?" Ariana smiled too. "Junko, that's awesome. Tell us."

"Well, the wendigo wants human flesh, right?" I said, and watched their faces.

Ariana was nodding. The horsemen looked intrigued too.

"Someone could act as bait and when the wendigo slows down to eat them, the others could hit it with the fire." I said.

"Well, that's true, but there is only one human here for the wendigo to eat." Ariana replied.

She seemed to realise where this was going. Her eyes widened and I could see the genuine fear. The realisation was catching as the horsemen knew too.

"You cannot be serious." Pestilence snapped.

"I'll be OK." I reassured them.

"You're still not doing it." Death said.

I glanced at him. His eyes betrayed how worried he was. I glanced at each face. They all looked scared. Should I look afraid too? I took a steadying breath.

"It won't eat me. We just need to slow it down enough for the fire to burn it." I said.

"I don't know." Ariana said.

"Please, this is our only shot." I begged.

"Junko, you could be killed." War said.

"I'm trusting you guys to not let it kill me." I spoke with a little more confidence now.

******************

Perhaps I was right to be afraid. Dusk settled and the forest stilled. I was seated on the floor outside the cave. I'd be going into the caves. This could go bad, very bad. The wendigo could decide to just lop my head off and eat me straight away. I had to lure it to the entrance of the cave. My bracelet buzzed and I pressed a button.

"Hello, this is Junko." I said, voice shaking.

"Junko, we know it's you," Ariana's voice was muffled slightly. "How are you holding up?"

"Well, it's cold and it's getting dark." I replied, glancing round at the trees.

"We're not far. We can see you." Her voice said, gently.

I nodded and looked at the trees, straining my eyes to see my friends. The sun disappeared and I was left in darkness. I got up and started walking into the cave. All light had gone and I was alone in the cave.

My ears picked up on a soft growling as well as the sound of movement. I stopped and waited, taking measured breaths. My heart rate had sped up and I could feel the blood rushing through my veins. In this moment, I felt weak and a sense of impending doom. I might die here.

The movements ceased and my eyes scanned the darkness to see where this monster was. It could be all the way inside the cave or it could be right in front of my face. Debris from the roof of the cave scattered on my head. I lifted my hand and flicked it away. I had the urge to look up and I did.

Raising my head, I could see two white eyes staring down at me. The terror flickered to life and I started back-stepping. The wendigo screeched loudly, making me cover my ears. I heard it follow my retreat along the roof of the cave. My back-stepping became quicker, but I stumbled back, landing on my butt. I scrambled backwards now, like a turtle escaping a bird.

The wendigo followed. I peered back and could see the entrance of the cave. The darkness broke slightly and I yelped when a sharp stone cut my hand. I lifted my hand and glanced at the thin line of blood. I heard the wendigo land nearby and approach me. It moved like no animal I had ever seen. It got to me and screeched. My lips parted and a scream tore out of my mouth.

The wendigo reared up as though to kill it's stupid prey. I closed my eyes and waited for the pain to come, but it didn't. I dared to open my eyes. Death was in front of me. He had blocked the wendigo's claws with his scythe. I scrambled to stand up.

He pushed the wendigo back and it went flying backwards, but landed again, like some kind of large, furious lion. It screeched again. The wendigo approached again and reared up. Death stepped back and shoved me down. The air rushed out of me. Several rags flew over my head and hit the wendigo. The rags were flickering with light and hit the wendigo.

The flames burnt it's tough hide and it screeched in fury and in pain. The flames engulfed it and Death stood, the scythe materialised again. He flew forward, swinging the scythe round and slicing the wendigo's head then cutting down through its chest where its heart should be.

All at once the wendigo's body slumped and landed on the ground. A gust of wind blew through the cave and blasted over my head. I sat up, brushing dirt from my face. Was it really dead? I felt Ariana hug me from behind, but was too stunned to react.

"You're Ok." She mumbled.

She helped me up and we left the cave. I stumbled and sat down again. My legs were trembling. Death followed and sat in front of me.

"I'm fine." I said, going for light-hearted.

A drop of blood landed on my lap. I did want to hug him, but I'd smear blood everywhere.

"We should go back to camp." War said.

"Need some help, princess?" Death chuckled when I tried to stand.

"Yeah, I guess so." I replied.

He stood and then leaned down, scooping me up, bridal-style. My entire face went from pale to flushed. We were so close again. We walked back to camp. The shock faded from my system and was replaced with warmth.

Chapter Text

It had been November when Sophie had tried to explain where Junko had gone and Victoria sighed. She felt no closer to finding her friend. Now it seemed as though Hunter had gone missing too.

"If we can find Keith then we can find Junko." Sophie said.

"Well, so far we haven't found this Keith-guy you've been talking about." Victoria replied.

The two of them were seated in the cafeteria. It was the last week before college ended for Christmas and New Year. They had two more days and classes would be over.

"What did the office say about Junko?" Victoria asked, sipping her Cola.

"They said she was doing the rest of her course online due to a family emergency." Sophie said, and glanced round the lunch room.

Their brief conversation was disturbed when Collette appeared. She looked like she hadn't slept in a week. Her eyes were red rimmed and Victoria wanted to laugh, but she knew it would be hypocritical given the situation with Junko.

"I've made some posters," Collette said, rubbing her eyes with her free hand. "Can you put one in the music room?"

Sophie nodded and took a poster. The picture was of Hunter, smiling and holding a football. Victoria glanced at it then looked away. She still couldn't bring herself to look at him properly and she still disliked him for his vaguely threatening behaviour last month.

The three girls left the lunchroom together. Sophie was trying to be nice to Collette and trying to soothe her fears.

"Excuse me." A male voice said.

All three turned and saw a man walking towards them. He was robust, but had a full head of grey hair and dark, blue eyes. He was dressed like a priest. Behind him was a younger man, also dressed like a priest.

"Yeah." Victoria said, somewhat cautiously.

"Sorry to bother you," The man said. "I'm Hunter's father."

Collette's eyes widened and she pushed forward, eager to know anything about her boyfriend.

"Do you know where Hunter is?" She asked, hurriedly.

"I do," He replied. "My son, my beautiful boy, was slain."

Collette's face crumpled and she burst into sobs. Victoria frowned and rushed forward, hugging the other girl. She glared at this man. She had never met Hunter's dad before. How dare he come here and say such things even if they were true. This was neither the time nor the place.

"And why should we believe you?" Sophie said, also stepping forward.

"Because I was there." Hunter's dad said, solemnly.

The three went to leave. Victoria could smell the drink on this man from where she stood. He was a waste of space.

"I also know where Junko is." He said, suddenly.

Victoria paused and glanced at Sophie. They all stared at him and he almost smiled, but managed to stop himself.

"Where is she?" Victoria snapped.

"I know where she'll be next," The man continued. "She's with Hunter's killers. You must act quickly if you wish to save her."

********************************

We got back to The NetherWorld around mid morning. I had managed to start walking again after the shock of seeing the wendigo. Lemmy was waiting on the porch, but he wasn't alone. Chris was with him and so was Eric. I could see no sign of Evangeline and Ariana immediately looked afraid when she saw him.

"How'd it go?" Lemmy asked, when we got closer.

"Yeah, really good. It was a wendigo." Ariana replied.

Eric huffed out a laugh and his gaze went to the horsemen. His eyebrows lowered and his scowl deepened. I hoped he wouldn't say anything.

"Congratulations." Chris said.

He, at least, looked happy. I actually managed to smile. Ariana was still talking to Lemmy about the wendigo and what had taken place. She told him about my plan and finding the bones and how everyone had acted as a team.

"How touching," Eric chuckled. "Maybe you are useful for something, angel."

Ariana paused and for a moment, her eyes went glassy, like she might cry. Lemmy nudged Eric as a reprimand, but Eric still wasn't finished.

"And human, it's nice to see you still have your uses, even if it is as bait." He smirked.

I lowered my head, but glanced at Chris. He couldn't say anything. Eric was a Legion Leader too. I just wanted this to be over. I felt two hands on my shoulders. I peeked round and noticed Death behind me. His eyes were locked onto Eric.

"And exactly how many missions do you go on?" Pestilence asked first.

He had removed his sunglasses and was staring at Eric. This was going to get very bad. Even War and Famine were glaring. Lemmy looked at Eric with a smug expression. Eric chuckled again and rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, keep rolling your eyes," Death said, mockingly. "Who knows, you might find your brain back there."

Eric had been chuckling, but faltered. His eyes became dangerously angry and he stepped down the stairs slowly, ignoring Lemmy's warnings. Eric stepped closer and Death moved, placing me behind him, coming toe to toe with Eric.

Eric was smaller than Death and this served to anger Eric more. He narrowed his eyes at Death, who just grinned at him.

"If I were you, I'd watch your mouth," Eric snarled. He started walking away before glancing back. "Freaks."

Ariana was watching him go. Lemmy and Chris exchanged glances too. I had never seen Eric so angry. No one had ever stood up to him before.

"Was he important?" War asked.

"He is a Legion Leader." Lemmy stated.

"Technically, he is in charge," Chris added. "Should he ask you to do something, you would be expected to follow orders."

I slipped past my team and handed Lemmy my bracelet. He smiled and accepted, opening the mission logs. Chris set something on the table and Lemmy finished the task, giving me back the bracelet. He lifted the piece of parchment. He looked at Chris.

"Already?" He asked.

"Yes, the wedding is to take place on 25th December." Chris replied.

"A Christmas wedding," I smiled. "How romantic."

"Yes, I suppose it is," Chris said. "The invitation is for the whole Legion house."

Lemmy glanced at the horsemen, who were talking to Ariana. Chris noticed and nodded. Lemmy also turned his gaze to me and Chris nodded too. I was invited too. I hadn't expected that. Did I even want to go? Did I want to see my ex get married?

"We're invited to a wedding." Lemmy shouted over.

The conversation halted and I saw Ariana smile.

"Us included?" Famine asked.

"That's what I said." Lemmy replied.

Chris managed a smile at them. He didn't seem to dislike them the way other demons did, but he seemed cautious. He went to leave and didn't give as much of a wide berth as some.

"Thank you," Pestilence called, and Chris looked back. "For including us in your wedding."

I could see Gaia on the porch to Chris' Legion house. Even from here she looked stunning. A small pang of jealousy hit me. I looked away and noticed Death talking to Pestilence. I watched how he flicked his hair back and the way his lips moved. He had stood up for me against Eric.

If I was going to this wedding, at least I wouldn't be going alone. Ariana came to stand next to me. She followed my gaze and smiled again.

"It is custom to never go to a celebration alone," She said. "You could ask Death if he'd like to accompany you."

"Haha, why would I do that?" I blurted.

"Because you like him," Lemmy walked by, grinning. "Or are you still pretending that you don't?"

I wasn't going to just out right ask. They were walking away. Oh, God.

"Wait." I shouted.

My team all looked at me. I felt my face heat up. Why'd I do that?

"She is acting strangely again," Pestilence said to War. "I believe it is a human thing."

Thanks for that ringing endorsement. I shuffled nervously and tried to force my brain to say words. Time to channel bravery. I walked towards Death and stopped.

"C-can we talk?" I asked.

"What about?" He replied, then with mock innocence. "Is it a private matter?"

"Somewhat private." I snapped.

I saw the other horsemen exchange glances. I walked and Death followed. The only private place I could think of was my room. Although that thought filled me with nervous apprehension. We got to my room and I opened the door, stepping inside and turning around. Death leaned on the door frame.

"Am I invited in?" He asked.

I had all but forgotten that little detail. The horsemen were invited into the Legion house, but still had to be invited into rooms. It was a weird little quirk.

"Y-yes, you are." I murmured.

And just like that he stepped into my room. I had decorated a little, adding a pink bed spread that Ariana had gifted me. Anything to dull the red that all the rooms here seemed to be.

Instinctively, i took a step back and Death noticed. His lips quirked into that grin.

"Why so nervous?" He asked.

"Well, you are in my room." I replied.

I side stepped and took a seat on my bed. Did I expect him to sit with me? Death did sit next to me. He looked at me and my face heated up.

"So, you wanted to talk." He said.

"I did say that," I agreed. "I wanted to ask about the wedding."

His eye brow raised and I realised I was kind of rambling. I had to get to the point.

"Ariana told me that it's custom to not go to celebrations alone," I said, then quickly added. "I was hoping you'd go with me."

I waited. Death frowned and he moved towards me, his hand touched my face and he forced our eyes to meet. I was forced to look into his eyes. I thought this might be a way of rejecting me, perhaps he was going to say no and this was all just building up to it. He grinned then and traced his thumb across my cheek.

"I will go with you." He said.

"Really?" I blurted out.

"Did you really think I wouldn't?" He asked.

"I'm never sure if you like me or if you're just being mean." I replied.

He shifted closer until we were inches apart. I could hear my heart beat in my ears again.

"I thought I was very clear." He murmured.

I glanced away and nodded. I thought he might kiss me, but he stood. I felt a little confused and stood too. Maybe I'd just given off the wrong signal by looking away.

"What happened to 'till next time?'" I asked.

It was the bravest thing I'd ever done. Death met my eyes again. Those strange hazel eyes kept my gaze until he was in front of me again.

"I did say that, didn't I?" He replied.

"Mmm hm." I agreed.

My mouth felt like it was full of sawdust. His hand grasped my chin and I closed my eyes. Was this going to happen? I felt his lips touch mine, softly at first, then when I didn't pull away he deepened the kiss. I kissed back, moving my lips tentatively.

His tongue brushed my lower lip, teasingly, then he pulled back. I opened my eyes and met his steady gaze. My lips tingled from the contact and he grinned.

"Till next time." He said, and I watched him go.

I sat on the bed and touched my lips. I could still feel the sparks from that kiss. That one simple action.

Chapter Text

A light, feathery fall of snow fluttered through the air and I held out my hand to catch some. I was home. I'd forgotten how beautiful Maine was during the holidays. Last year I'd spent Christmas with Collette's family. Augusta was so pretty this time of year. The lights above my head sparkled and there seemed to be a Christmas tree on every corner.

"Hey, Junko, isn't this where you go college?" Keith asked.

He'd tagged along on the mission, mostly as a precaution since the wendigo fiasco.

"No, my college is in South Portland," I replied. "About an hours drive from here."

That thought filled me with dread. We were a stone's throw from Derek Samuels. If he chose to come to Augusta then he need only drive the hours journey up the state.

"And it is customary to have the whole plate?"

I snapped out of my daze in time to see Pestilence helping himself to some cookies on a stall. I had forgotten that a Christmas festival might be somewhat overwhelming to them.

"It says 'free sample', but that doesn't mean you eat the whole lot." I said, walking over.

The woman on the stall was staring, somewhat disapprovingly at the horsemen. They weren't dressed for the seasonal chill of Maine, but showed no signs of being cold. The woman on the stall parted her lips to say something.

"Aren't you kids cold?" She asked.

"Should we be?" War asked her in return.

Keith sidled over. He offered the woman a charming smile and motioned for us to walk away. The stalls for the Christmas festival spanned the entire street.

"Humans will question why you're not cold." He said.

"Maybe they should mind their own business." Death replied.

I was walking next to Famine, but my gaze went to Death. I hadn't spoken to him since we kissed. What could I say? Maybe I was over thinking this.

"Junko, look." Famine said.

I followed his line of sight to a fence, housing a couple of reindeer. He didn't wait and wandered over, leaning on the gate. I followed, just in case anything happened.

"Would either of you like to make a donation?" A girl had walked over.

"A donation?" Famine asked.

"These two reindeer, Rudolph and Prancer, belong in a sanctuary," The girl smiled. "The donations help us care for them, feed them. These reindeer are well loved."

The two reindeer were happily eating hay and paying no mind to the people walking by. They were so cute.

"I think we could donate." I smiled.

The girl picked up a bucket with the sanctuary's logo printed on the side. I pulled out my purse and deposited five dollars into the bucket.

"From the both of us." I said, glancing at Famine.

He smiled too and we walked away, hurrying to catch up to the others. The streets were packed with people and children. For some reason I felt incredibly light.

"Where'd you two disappear to?" Keith asked when we caught up.

"To see the reindeer." Famine replied.

The streets were getting even busier and we still had a couple of hours before evening set in and we could sneak to our next mission. A woman went to barge past me and I stumbled a little. A hand clasped mine and pulled me out the way. I held on and was pulled out of the crowd and into Death. My face went a million shades of red.

"Sorry." I mumbled.

"Might want to be careful, Junko." He replied, gripping my chin and making me look at him.

The way he said my name made my body break out in goosebumps. His eyes were almost honey colored and I managed a giddy smile.

"We should catch up to the others." I said, breaking the staring contest.

"To be continued." He smirked, still holding my hand and leading me through the crowd.

It transpired that Keith was searching for a place to eat. He found a Thai restaurant and insisted we eat there. I hadn't had Thai food in so long that it seemed perfect. I realised that, whilst enjoying crispy pad Thai with my friends, that I missed being able to go out to eat. I missed my human life. However, looking at my friends, I realised that I couldn't imagine life without them.

I couldn't imagine being without them. I had become accustomed to them. Keith was seated at the head of the table, telling a story about a mission and laughing about something Roger did. Opposite me, War was drinking a beer and smiling. Famine was next to War and was listening, but still finishing his food. Pestilence was seated at the far end of the table and was laughing along with Keith.

I sideways glanced to my right at Death. He was leaning on his elbows, listening to Keith. I looked away before I got caught staring and smiled. I realised this was probably the happiest I'd ever been.

******************

At night time, the lights looked stunning. Keith led the way to the mission. It wasn't that far to the Kennebec Arsenal. When we got there, the building was surrounded by a fence and there were several signs, warning us not to enter.

"Junko, you will be needing this." Keith grinned, digging through his bag.

He handed me a respirator mask. I accepted it and started putting the mask on. The straps went over my head easily enough. War gave me a thumbs up once it was on properly. I tried to smile at them through the mask, but I realised they wouldn't be able to see it.

"Right, let's get over this fence," Keith said, then looked at me. "Death, Junko. you guys first."

"Why us first?" I asked, though the respirator muffled my voice.

I glanced at Death and he held out his hands and I realised we were literally going to jump the fence.

"You won't able to make the jump on your own." Death stated.

"Oh, yeah," I said. "I forgot."

I stepped over and allowed him to pick me up. The heat from my face made the mask unbearable. I had to will myself to stop blushing. Death walked to fence and leapt into the air. I let out a yelp behind the mask. I looked down to see the ground rushing towards us. We landed and I let out a breath I'd been holding in. Death set me down, but kept a hold of my hand.

The others leapt over the fence and landed near us. I glanced at the Kennebec Arsenal. It was a looming building and it definitely looked like it could be haunted.

"Wow." I breathed.

"I know. It's definitely intimidating." Keith said.

We started walking towards the entrance. There was another sign on the door, still alerting us to the danger. Keith tried the door and sighed. He sat on the steps and pulled something from his pocket. It took me a few seconds to realise he was picking the lock. It clicked and he pushed the door. It opened with a drawn out groan.

The corridor was long and lead down, petering off to the right. Keith pulled out a torch, pressing the button and shining it around the dusty hallway. The sound of movement made Keith shine the torch at the ceiling.

"This will have to be quick," He said. "The buildings liable to fall with us in it."

We followed the hallway. I looked at the door numbers as we passed them. I had read that this place used to be a psychiatric hospital, but had been closed due to outdated methods. I noticed a rather large venom stain on a wall. We paused at a fork in the corridors.

"A crossroads," Pestilence said. "How unusual."

Keith seemed to agree and we split into two. I went along with Death and Pestilence. Each wall we passed was smeared with venom. It made the hair on the nape of my neck stand up. Someone grabbed my arm and I realised Pestilence had stopped me.

"Be careful, Junko." He said.

I looked down, shining my own torch to the floor. There was a large hole where the floor had caved in. I shone the torch into the hole and could see down into the lower levels of the building.

"What now?" I asked.

Pestilence was about to answer when his bracelet crackled. He lifted his arm, pressing the button.

"There's a shit ton of venom down here," Keith's voice said. "We might need you guys."

"Of course." Pestilence replied.

We started to make our way back when I heard the sound of hissing. The other two must have heard it because Death grabbed my arm, pulling me closer. He and Pestilence exchanged glances. They both removed their weapons and waited. My eyes went in all directions, trying to locate the source of the hissing.

We didn't have to wait long. A male ghost, wearing a hospital gown flew through the wall. Its body was ragged and there was venom everywhere. The ghost seemed to be trying to focus, but eventually it noticed us and flew forward. Pestilence acted first, moving forward and swinging his claymore. He managed to send the ghost backwards.

I glanced sideways and noticed an empty room. Death followed my gaze and nudged me towards the room. I got out of the way in time for the ghost to circle back and for Death to hit the ghost with his scythe, sending the ghost back towards Pestilence.

I ran to the window and attempted to open it, but it was jammed. Turning back, I could hear the ghost let out a scream. Had it been defeated? I stepped towards the door and nearly cried out when a pair of claws latched onto the door frame. The ghost was pulling itself into the room and it screeched when it saw me.

I thought it might kill me, but it faltered and disintegrated. Pestilence was in the doorway. Claymore still raised from where he'd killed the ghost. The ceiling above us creaked and I stepped carefully over the debris. I got to the door and we started walking back the way we'd come.

We got outside and waited. The other three still hadn't emerged, but after ten minutes they appeared.

"There was more than one ghost." Keith said.

"Derek sure has been busy." War said, sitting on the steps.

After a few minutes rest we went back to the gate and leapt back over. I wanted to leave this place and go home.

"Junko?" Someone called my name and I looked up.

My eyes widened when I saw Victoria and Sophie. At first I thought it wasn't them, but she'd said my name. Keith stopped too and his eyes widened when he saw Sophie.

"Sophie? What are you doing here?" He asked.

I was about to ask, but my mouth had stopped working. I smiled. I was so happy to see them both. Victoria was staring past me at the horsemen. I could see the fear and concern within her eyes.

"We're here to see Junko." Sophie replied, tersely.

"Why? What's going on?" I asked, bewildered.

"Junko, you're in danger." Victoria said.

I was still holding the respirator in my hand and I gripped it tightly. What was she talking about? How was I in danger? I waited to see what else she'd say. How had they known I'd be here at this time?

"Hunter's dead." Sophie said, solemnly.

My mind faltered. How was he dead? What about Collette?

"How?" I asked.

"Ask them." Victoria motioned at my team.

I glanced over at them. Keith wasn't meeting my gaze either. I hoped my imploring expression would work and it seemed to.

"A blood sacrifice is required to summon us." War said.

"You killed Hunter?" I asked, bile rising in my throat.

"No, not us," Famine cut in. "Derek Samuels knew and he still sacrificed his own son."

Hunter's father had done this. I looked back at Sophie and Victoria. The information was clearly new to them too.

"But he told us..." Sophie murmured.

I glanced back at my team again.

"Junko, we are incredibly sorry." Pestilence said.

My vision wavered a little, but I managed to stay up right. Should I be mad at them? No, probably not. I looked back to Sophie and Victoria.

"Junko, please come back with us," Victoria pleaded.

"It's not a good idea," Keith finally said. "Derek is still looking for her and you two might be in danger as well."

"How did you know I'd be here." I asked.

"Derek told us, said he had a reliable source." Sophie replied.

The thought that Derek was tracking us was terrifying. What did he want? Was he really so desperate to destroy The NetherWorld?

"Is there anywhere you two can go?" Keith called. "Somewhere safe."

"My parents are in New York." Victoria said, her voice was trembling.

"Please go there. Stay for the holidays," Keith replied. "Get as far from Derek as you can."

Victoria nodded. She looked so small and I wanted to hug my friends. She seemed to take a breath and started walking over. She pulled me into a tight hug. Her body was warm and familiar. She pulled back to look at me.

"I've missed you." She whispered.

"I've missed you too." I smiled.

Sophie had walked over to Keith and she looked a lot more relaxed, smiling at him.

"You never came to visit." She grinned.

"Been busy studying." He laughed.

Victoria peeked past me at the horsemen. She smiled and stepped around me.

"Hi, I'm Victoria."

"War, Famine, Pestilence and Death." I motioned to them in order.

"Those are some wicked code names." Victoria said.

The snow was starting to get heavier. Sophie noticed. She gave Keith a hug and they stayed together for a few minutes and then pulled apart. Before either of them could walk away, Victoria pressed a piece of paper into my palm.

"Contact me if you can." She said, softly.

"I will," I replied. "Please be careful."

She nodded and I stepped back towards my team. I watched Sophie and Victoria get in the car behind them and the engine started. The car reversed and they disappeared into the night. I slipped my hand into Death's.

"We should go too." Keith said.

We all pressed the bracelets and disappeared back to The NetherWorld again.

Chapter Text

As much as I had been dreading it. The 25th December arrived. I woke that morning, feeling nervous. Grannie Mae had insisted on making my dress again since she was making a lot of others. If I had been at home then I would have spent Christmas with Collette and been opening presents about now.

"Junko?" Someone tapped at my door.

I went to open it to find Alissa there. She was wearing pyjamas and smiling widely. She practically dragged me into the foyer. When we got there she handed me a badly wrapped present.

"For your human tradition of Christmas." She smiled.

I accepted the gift and opened it, gently letting the paper slip to the floor. It was a cosy looking knitted sweater. I held it against myself and looked at her. She was smiling again.

"Thank you, Alissa." I said.

"It's OK." She shrugged like it was no big deal.

I held the sweater over my arm and checked the time on my bracelet. It was about ten thirty. I noticed Alissa was checking the time too. She winced.

"We need to get our hair done and be on the grass in about an hour." She looked a little frazzled about getting ready so quickly.

I rushed to my room, carefully placing the sweater on my bed. Alissa insisted on a team work approach. We sat in the foyer along with other girl demons.

"Is it normal for guys not to see girls at big events?" I asked, whilst Alissa was putting my hair into an elaborate up-do.

"It is customary." She replied, sticking a bobby pin into my head.

That must have been why all the girls got ready together. Once I'd helped Alissa with her hair, we helped each other into our dresses. Hers was black with purple roses stitched into the hemline. Mine was lilac with flowers stitched onto the top. It ended at my knees although the back was longer than the front.

Once we'd got our shoes on, a pair of dangerously high, purple heels for Alissa and a pair of tiny heeled lilac dolly shoes for me, we left the Legion house. There was already a rather large group of girls waiting. Once it seemed like everyone had arrived, including Debbie and Joan, who looked elegant too, everyone pressed the buttons on their bracelets.

When I opened my eyes I found myself in front of a beautiful building, painted cream. I suddenly realised how chilly it was. We were on a mountain somewhere. Snow was falling and I shivered.

"Come on ladies." Debbie called.

Ariana rushed over to me. She was wearing a pink dress with a long train. The train was adorned with roses. I took the time to notice how beautiful all the dresses were. Ariana held my arm and we walked up the stairs into the building.

The foyer was decorated with midnight blue roses. Debbie and Joan guided the girls into a massive room filled with chairs. We sat in the middle and I glanced down the aisle. I could see Chris at the end of it. I could also see his father and mother. A lump rose in my throat, but I gulped it down.

The door opened and the male demons all walked in and seated themselves. I tried to see my team. Ariana stood and glanced over, possibly looking for Mike. She must have spotted him because she waved. She nudged me and pulled me to stand. I did as I was told and smiled when I saw War.

They were sat with Mike and Keith. All wearing suits. Keith nudged Pestilence and he removed his sunglasses, waving at me too. I noticed a load of other demons walking in too. All in elaborate dresses. Some must have been Gaia's family and Chris' family. I noticed Death once they'd passed. I waved and he waved back. Ariana pulled me to sit back down.

A lone demon walked up the aisle. He must have been the official. He got to the end and stood in front of Chris. Harp music began to play and I realised this song wasn't the wedding march.

"This is the song of fertility and togetherness in the demon world." Ariana leaned closer to me.

The song was soft and lilting. I glanced sideways and saw Gaia walking up the aisle. Her dress was pure white. Her black hair was tied into a bun and it contrasted so beautifully with her dress. She got to the altar and the ceremony started. Demon weddings were very different to human ceremonies.

A ribbon was tied round their hands, signifying their bond. I watched, almost numbly as the marriage took place. Two rings were given and the ribbon was removed. There was no marriage license. The whole thing took about thirty minutes to complete. The couple walked back down the aisle.

The family left first followed by the guests. We followed them to a banquet hall. I didn't think there would be a banquet, given that demons didn't need to eat, but it seemed I was wrong. Everyone searched for their name and took a seat. I, too, went in search of the table with my name on it.

Someone grabbed my hand and I whirled round to find Famine. He pulled and I followed. What if I'd been forgotten? Would I have to leave?

"Yay, Junko's here." Ariana smiled, when I got to the table.

She and Mike were already sat down and so were the rest of my team. I blinked in confusion. Death pulled out a chair and I sat down.

"What happens next?" I asked.

"We feast," Mike replied. "Then it's just a traditional party."

Food was bought out in abundance. Everyone ate and talked. I was still feeling out of my depth. A serving demon strolled by and filled everyone's glasses with wine. I picked up my glass and sniffed it.

"What are you doing?" Death said, leaning close to me.

I blushed and met his steady gaze, leaning closer too.

"Is it wine? I don't really drink." I murmured.

"Yes, it's wine," He replied. "You don't have to drink it."

I nodded, but pressed the glass to lips and took a very tiny sip. It hit my tongue and tasted incredibly strong. I pulled the glass back and winced.

"Junko, it's OK," Ariana said, taking my glass. "I'll get you something else."

She got up and walked over to the serving demon. She came back and sat down. The demon arrived back and gave me a glass of cloudy white liquid. I stared at it then back to the demon.

"What is it?" I asked.

"It's elder-flower." Ariana said.

Lucifer stood and everyone quieted whilst he gave a speech. He was wearing a suit too but it looked expensive. His crown was on his head as usual. He looked so proud. I glanced at Chris and Gaia, seated at the long table. I was happy for them.

Once the speech was done everyone stood and the tables pushed back. I noticed that musicians were walking in. The music was light and floaty. Parties weren't my thing at all. I went and sat down whilst other demons danced. Serving demons continued to bring out wine.

I could go over and congratulate Chris, but it felt like it would be weird to do that. I watched the Legion leaders chatting. After a certain amount of time Chris and Gaia got up and had their first dance. I surprised myself at being able to watch. They looked so happy. I didn't feel jealous anymore.

Eventually other demon couples could dance too. I saw Ariana and Mike dancing. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and I looked round to see Death next to me.

"You wanna dance." He didn't ask, but he didn't really have because I nodded and stood up.

I slipped my hand into his as he lead me onto the dance floor. My heart rate sped up and he paused, turning to face me. Nerves set in, but I stepped closer and put my arms over his shoulders. His hands touched my waist and we started moving. I smiled, feeling a lot more comfortable now until I stepped on his foot.

"S-sorry." I stuttered out.

"It's fine. It didn't really hurt." He chuckled.

"You look really nice in your suit." I said.

"And you look beautiful." He replied.

My eyes watered a little and I glanced away. The music faded away, but we stayed together. The night wore on and I felt myself getting tired. It must have been late since it was dark outside. I mostly stayed with my team and when I checked the bracelet, it showed it as nine thirty.

"Are we going back to the Legion house?" I asked Ariana.

"No, we're staying in these glass igloo things," She said. "Wait till you see them."

I decided I was definitely tired and I went to leave. I got to the door and felt someone grab my hand. I smiled when I saw Death.

"Tired?" He asked.

"Yeah, really tired." I said.

"Want me to walk with you?" He asked, stepping closer.

"Yeah, if it's not too much trouble."

He rolled his eyes and we started walking out. A voice called my name and we both turned. Charlie was making his way through the crowd, smiling. I hadn't seen him in ages.

"Are you leaving?" He asked when he got to me.

"I'm pretty tired." I said, smiling.

"Oh, well, you look lovely tonight." He said, then glanced at Death.

Charlie nodded and made his way back through the crowd. His expression had surprised me. Charlie had always seemed really easy-going and kind. He had, for an instant, looked like he was judging me.

"That was Charlie," I said. "He's not normally like that."

"The feelings mutual." Death said in return.

His gaze was locked on the spot where Charlie had been. Was he jealous?

Death shrugged and we left the hall, following the corridor round and back outside. We walked through the trees and came out near the glass igloos. They were so much prettier than I imagined. I glanced upwards and could see the northern lights.

"Look at that." I said.

Death turned and stood behind me, his arms looping round my middle. We stayed like that until the cold started to get to me. I had forgotten how chilly it was. Now to find an igloo. I assumed they all had designated owners.

"Where's ours?" I asked. It slipped out before I could stop it.

"Ours?" Death grinned.

"W-well, yeah." I fumbled.

"You assume we're sharing." He chuckled, stepping back.

He was still grinning. My cheeks heated up. I remembered we were in the snow so I did what came naturally. I reached down and scooped up some snow, molding it into a ball. I launched it and forgot how fast he was.

"You are such a jerk-wad." I laughed, picking up more snow.

A snowball nearly hit me. I dodged and threw another. The sound of footsteps made me look round. A couple of girl demons walked by.

"What are they doing?" One asked the other.

"I don't know. Ignore them, they're both freaks." They cackled.

I glanced at Death. He was watching the two girls. He was still holding a snowball and without a second thought, he threw it. It connected with the second girl. She yelped and whirled round, leveling a glare at Death.

"Whoops." He laughed.

She scowled at both of us and they stalked away. I faintly wondered if the derogatory comments bothered the horsemen, but it didn't seem to.

"I'll bet I can find somewhere before you." I called, turning around.

"Of course, because you're so fast." Death appeared next to me, keeping pace with me.

It took me all of two seconds to realise his hair was tied up. I paused, staring at it like it was a snake.

"You tied your hair back?" I said.

"Congrats on noticing so soon, princess." He replied.

I opened my purse and dug around, hoping for a key of some kind. I remembered Ariana giving me a key and telling me not to lose it. I eventually found it. Igloo number 24 was printed on the key. I looked around for some signage. One of the igloos across the way was 35, the next was 34.

Eventually we found the igloo. I unlocked the door. My eyes widened at the sight of this thing. The entry way was made of wood. it led into a wide space that was under the glass ceiling. A bed was in the centre of the room along with a couple of arm chairs in the corner.

"Wow." I mumbled.

"Yeah." Death replied.

"Where's your igloo?" I asked.

He didn't reply and I narrowed my eyes.

"Did you get a key?" I persisted.

"I think Ariana thought we were sharing." He shrugged.

Although we had joked earlier, it dawned on me that we probably were sharing. A sense of panic and, for some annoying reason, excitement set in.

"There's only one bed." I murmured, lamely.

"You don't want to share." Death said.

When we were at the hotel before, it had seemed so innocent, but now this whole thing was tinged with something new.

"I-it's cool with me." I squeaked out.

I didn't realise that Death had stepped closer until I turned and nearly collided with him. Our eyes met and my face flushed.

"Clothes can stay on if you're freaking out, which you obviously are." He said.

"Is that OK?" I asked.

"I'm obviously not going to push you into anything you don't want to do." He said, grasping my chin so I'd actually look at him.

"Thanks." I replied.

We parted and I ran to the bed, leaping onto it. My knees sank into the softness and I smiled. It was softer than any bed I'd ever been on. I removed my shoes and snuggled under the covers. I tilted my head slightly to watch Death. He had removed his jacket and was pulling the hair tie that kept his hair in place. He winced slightly as it was removed.

I sat up briefly and took out all the bobby pins securing my hair. The relief was immense. I laid back down and smiled when Death lay next to me. I stared upwards at the ceiling. Through the glass I could see the snow fall and the northern lights. I rolled onto my side and snuggled closer to Death.

I must have fallen asleep quickly.

*********************

Outside on a hill that over looked the hotels and the wedding party, a figure stood in the snow. The cold didn't bother the figure, instead he adjusted his wide brim hat.

"Soon, my children, very soon." He murmured.

Then, with one last passing glance, he disappeared into the snow.

Chapter Text

Five days after Chris and Gaia's wedding, missions resumed which seemed odd since tomorrow would be New Years Eve. Since the wedding not much had happened between myself and Death. I kept getting swept away by plans and all I really wanted to do was talk to him. Despite being kept busy I had been ruminating over what I wanted to say.

Were we together? Were we an official couple? Was this all just a fling? A fun way for him to pass the time? All these questions plagued my mind and made focusing on anything incredibly difficult. Today was no different.

"Hello, Earth to Junko." Devin waved a hand in front of my face and I faltered.

I sighed and looked at the demon in front of me, He was grinning and his eyes followed my gaze towards Death. We were in the middle of a crowded street in Point Pleasant.

"Look at you all horny and stressed." Devin continued.

My face heated up and I playfully shoved him. He yelped and made a scene as was typical of Devin. He had accompanied us alongside Charlie, who remained quiet. Probably annoyed by Devin's antics.

"I wish you wouldn't speak so crudely." I snapped.

"I'm sorry, Junko," Devin replied, sounding contrite. "But jump his bones already."

I rolled my eyes, but felt that little bundle of nerves inside me. I had already lost Chris to Gaia. I was an inexperienced girl who lacked the confidence to just go after what she wanted and it showed. It radiated from me.

"Devin, that's enough." Charlie said.

Devin smirked again, "No one likes a nice guy, Charlie."

With that he turned and wandered over to the horsemen. I watched him go and then looked at Charlie. His expression was unreadable and I didn't want to annoy him so I traipsed after Devin.

"Look at this." Devin laughed.

He was staring at a shop window. A large poster was plastered to the glass, advertising the Mothman Festival. The reason we were here was so famous and tourist-y. Next to the poster was a garish t-shirt with the words 'Mothman festival 2019' printed on it. Under the text was an image of the supposed Mothman.

"I'm gonna buy one," Devin proclaimed. "Anyone else want one?"

"I would not pay to look a fool." Pestilence shot back.

Devin fake yawned and disappeared into the store.

"Should we go after him?" War asked.

I could hear Devin laughing inside. He sounded gleeful, in his element. I glanced at Charlie down the street. He had been told to come with us to complete his training. How did he feel knowing he had to signed off by the horsemen? He looked at them with a blank, almost disgusted expression and I suddenly felt like I had no idea who Charlie was anymore.

"We might find some clues." I offered.

"Yes, we might." Pestilence agreed.

He walked into the shop followed by Famine. War glanced at Charlie too, perhaps wondering why he was so far away, but decided to follow the other two. Death walked past me and his hand ghosted mine. I glanced up at him and he offered the same playful smirk. I smiled and fought the urge to blush.

Inside the shop was filled with knick knacks and tourist stuff. The guy who owned the shop was leaning on the counter, engaged in a conversation with Devin.

"And my mate, Ben drank nearly the whole keg," The guy was embroiled in a story. Devin was also leaning on the counter. "He threw his guts up afterwards, mind."

This story sounded grim. The guy must have caught my wince as he smiled, apologetically.

"Sorry, Miss, just recounting a youth well spent." He chuckled.

"These are my friends, Bill." Devin said.

"Nice to meet you all," Bill smiled. "What brings you to Point Pleasant?"

"The festival." War replied.

"Yeah, it gets pretty busy round here when the festival starts." Bill said.

"Have you ever seen it?" I asked, probably too vague.

Bill shook his head, "No, never seen the Mothman myself."

He then leaned down, pulling something from under the counter and laying it on the surface. On closer inspection it was a photograph, a blurry one. Some kind of black winged shape flying through the night sky.

"That was taken on Route 2 and it was the last known sighting back in 2016." Bill said.

He slid the picture back under the counter. I guess Route 2 would be a good a place as any to start.

"Before we go to some dusty road," Devin grinned. "Which t-shirt should I buy?"

********************

Route 2 was a dusty stretch of road that bordered the Ohio river. It wasn't overtly busy and it was for the most part, unremarkable.

"Just seems like a normal road," Famine said. "I wonder why the Mothman appeared here."

"Maybe it's not very showy." I offered, and Famine smiled.

"Apparently there's a statue in town." War said, coming to stand on my other side.

I glanced across the road. Devin was chatting to Pestilence and motioning to the t-shirt. I glanced at Death. He was looking at something on his bracelet. Charlie was further down the stretch of road, pretending to be analysing a tree.

"He really hates us." Famine said.

I snapped out of my daze and looked at Famine. He was watching Charlie and seemed unsure.

"Maybe he's just nervous." I smiled.

Maybe that was what was wrong with all the other demons. Maybe they weren't prejudiced towards the horsemen. They might just be unsure of how to act.

"Every time I speak to him he acts like I've asked him to eat shit." War said.

The conversation halted when the others started to walk back towards us. We walked back to town to see the Mothman statue.

When we arrived there were a few people snapping pictures of it. It was an odd statue with a moth's face, tattered butterfly wings and claws.

"It has a six pack." Devin laughed.

He would notice that. The other tourists giggled and this seemed to spur Devin on to be more outrageous.

"Where did the Mothman find the time to work his abs like that?" Devin continued.

The other tourists laughed a bit more. I rolled my eyes again and then jumped when a hand touched mine. I glanced up at Death and smiled. He had been quiet today. He leaned towards me slightly.

"Think they'd notice if we snuck away?" He grinned.

"Don't be crude." I replied, and he looked mock innocent.

"How dare you imply such things." He said.

Our discussion was disrupted when Devin stopped mocking the statue. Death moved back to full height, but his hand was still holding mine. Apparently Pestilence had gotten bored and pushed Devin away from the statue.

"We should find a hotel." Pestilence said, moving Devin and letting the other tourists continue taking pictures.

We found a small bed and breakfast. There was bunting around the windows and doors, partially still Christmas decorations and partially for the festival. The inside of the hotel was small and quaint.

"You kids are lucky," The lady at the desk said. "We're almost full."

She tapped some buttons on a computer and glanced at us again, adding up how many of us there were.

"Six rooms left." She said.

"That's so lucky," Devin grinned. "These two are a couple. Happy Anniversary guys."

He hugged Death and I. The woman smiled like she really thought this was our anniversary. Devin glanced between us and then stepped back. I glanced at the others for some help. War and Famine were grinning, enjoying the rising levels of discomfort. Pestilence was also trying and failing to mask a grin.

"I remember when Ed and I were young and in love." The woman gushed.

"Yep, they're so in love, right guys?" Devin smirked.

"Y-yeah." I stammered, realising that it was nearly true. I avoided Death's gaze. Devin looked like he had discovered the treasure of the Atlantic.

"Oh how precious." The woman smiled.

She handed over the keys and we walked up the stairs. We got to the top and Death paused, pushing Devin against the wall. Devin laughed a little, but seemed a little afraid.

"If you ever make Junko uncomfortable like that again, it'll be the last thing you ever do." Death said, almost calmly, then let go.

"All right, all right I'm sorry." Devin laughed.

Devin was still laughing, but winced a little when he swallowed. He rubbed his sore throat where Death's arm had been.

"You guys hurt." Devin whined.

"Sorry, sometimes it's difficult to control." Death replied, by way of apology.

I frowned at that. I glanced down the corridor at the other horsemen. I replayed every time they had touched my arm or hugged me or, in Death's case, held my hand. Were they using a leashed strength? Were they actually stronger than other demons?

We continued walking and followed the corridor round to the rooms. Devin took the key from me and then another, handing it to Charlie. Charlie accepted the key and then lifted his gaze to the horsemen. He looked like he really wanted to say something to them and his gaze flicked solely to Death.

Devin, not enjoying being ignored, pinched Charlie on the arm, who reacted with shock and glared at Devin.

"I wouldn't do whatever you're thinking of doing." Devin snapped, then turned and disappeared into his room.

Charlie huffed and turned, unlocking his door and vanishing inside. The door slammed and I glanced back at the horsemen.

"And how do you train someone that hates you this much?" War asked.

"To be fair I do not believe Charlie dislikes all of us." Pestilence replied.

"Just Death." War nudged Death in the side.

Death shrugged and I followed when he took the keys from me. His hand grazed mine and a surge of nerves shot through my body. The others took their keys and disappeared into their respective rooms.

Once in the room, Death sat on the bed. I stayed a good few feet away, still content to ruminate in my own nervousness. He noticed and frowned.

"Aren't we past you being afraid to be near me?" He chuckled then. "Besides I thought you loved me."

He was grinning now, clearly remembering my sort of lie from downstairs. My face heated up and I attempted to look stricken and furious.

"It got us to share a room, didn't it?" I flustered.

"She would have let us share anyways. They aren't that conservative here." He replied, eyeing me in a way that a lion might eye a gazelle.

"N-no, but she thinks we're a couple now. It's good to remain inconspicuous." I smiled nervously.

"Well, if we're a couple then why don't you come here."

"Promise you'll be nice to me."

I stepped closer until I was right in front of Death. He grasped my hand and I stood between his legs. We were almost eye to eye. Had I always been this nervous? His hand gripped my chin and forced me to look at him.

"Don't be nervous. I can't promise I won't make fun of you from time to time, but I'm not going to force you into anything." He looked serious and I let out a very shaky breath.

For some reason my eyes stung, "No, I know. I want to do that sort of stuff, but I'm scared and then I think about how scared I am and how stupid it is to be scared."

My rambling ceased when he pressed his thumb against my lips.

"If you're scared then talk to me. If you're scared because you think I don't want you then you should know by now that I like you a lot." He replied, tracing my lips with his thumb.

He removed his hand and a well of disappointment formed in me. I gulped and realised that all I had to do was be a little braver. I closed the distance and kissed him. It must have been a shock, but he recovered quickly and returned the kiss.

My determination was there at least, but I panicked the second our lips met. I didn't need to though as his lips moved against my own and I followed the movement. I whimpered into the kiss when his hands gripped my hips, almost desperately, then pulled me so I was straddling him.

My hands, that had been nervously at my side tangled into his hair. The kiss deepened and I pressed myself closer. A sound made me pull back.

"Well, isn't this adorable." A voice said.

My cheeks went even redder. I glanced round to find Devin leaning on the door frame.

"Imagine if you will that I figured we could investigate the first night of the festival and look at what my innocent eye has found." Devin grinned.

I was about to reply when Death shifted me to sit next to him. His look was murderous. Devin stepped back, smirking.

"Is knocking too difficult for you, Devin?" Death asked.

"I did knock, but I guess you two were so busy." Devin laughed.

I didn't think. I launched a pillow at Devin and he giggled gleefully. He shut the door and I could hear him outside, recounting the tale to War.

"T-to be continued." I smiled nervously.

"To be continued." Death replied.

He stood and I followed. I stepped closer and reached out to neaten his hair. He caught my hand and pulled me closer. I rested my head on his chest, listening for the non-existent heart beat. We stayed together for a minute that felt endless and then separated, leaving the bedroom.

"Please promise that you two won't break the bed tonight." Devin laughed.

The others must be downstairs already. We walked past Devin and the younger demon followed. The others were downstairs including Charlie, who must have heard the commotion from earlier.

"Good that you're both here." Pestilence said.

"Did the bed testing go well?" War asked.

He was sat on the floor, leaning against the side of the couch. I blushed and hid my face.

"If the walls are thin enough then you'll find out later." Death replied, grinning.

Devin howled with laughter. Pestilence sighed and glared at War and Death like a father would at two children. My entire face had gone warm. It felt like I was having an out of body experience. Famine was reading something on his bracelet and faltered, laughing.

Charlie looked the least impressed by the antics. I felt bad for him a little, but I had never led him on, never hinted that we would date.

**********************

When we left the hotel there were stalls lining the street. It was a menagerie of colour everywhere you looked. The street lamps were only just coming on. Even if we found nothing then this would at least be fun.

For tonight we were normal. Devin insisted on going to each stall, wearing his Mothman t-shirt and chatting to locals like he lived here. Many fun things happened tonight, such as trying cotton candy. A first for the horsemen and something I hadn't had since the last county fayre.

The night was in full swing. Devin and the horsemen had gone to find a place we could eat at. I was left waiting on the corner of one of the streets with reassurances that I would not move.

"Having fun?" Charlie asked.

I had thought he'd gone back to the hotel. He looked nervous, but smiled anyways. I smiled back.

"Yeah, this is fun." I replied.

"Can we talk?" He asked.

"Yeah, go for it." I said.

He sighed and cleared his throat. He seemed to be going back to being the Charlie that I knew and cared about.

"Why him?" He asked, and I was stunned.

"We get on, he makes me laugh and he's different." I replied, knowing he was talking about Death.

"Different," Charlie huffed out a laugh. "He's a monster, Junko."

My smile faltered and I took a shuddering breath. Did Charlie really believe this? Was he really saying such hurtful things?

"He's not a monster." I snapped back.

"Well, he'll never be normal and eventually he'll hurt you." Charlie said.

Our eyes met and I could see the torrent of anger and hurt in Charlie's eyes. He could probably see the same emotions reflected back at him.

"You don't know the horsemen," I said, frost in my tone. "And you don't know Death."

"Don't kid yourself into thinking he loves you, Junko," Charlie replied. "You're smarter than that."

Tears pricked at my eyes and I wanted to run. I took off down the street in the direction the others had walked in. I rubbed my eyes and glanced back. Charlie had gone, probably back to the hotel. As I walked I glanced at the buildings and that's when I saw it.

A large shape was flitting from building to building. Even from here, it looked huge. Its wings were bat like. No one else on the street seemed to see it.

"Junko?"

I glanced back to the street and saw Devin approaching. He looked concerned now. I looked back at the building. The creature was moving towards the edge of town.

"I just saw something." I said.

"Saw what?" Devin asked.

"It looked like the statue." I replied.

Devin took my hand and we wound our way through the crowd. The horsemen were waiting by a restaurant.

"I believe we have a sighting." Devin grinned.

"Where?" Pestilence asked.

"Heading toward the edge of town."

Food was forgotten as we walked toward the edge of town. A forest bordered the town. The darkness was worse out here. There were no street lamps. I peered into the pitch black and that's when I saw two eyes staring out at us.

"Maybe it's an owl." I ventured.

"That's a tall owl." Devin replied.

The head lamp eyes drew closer, then the sound of wood splintering filled the air. A figure lumbered out of the darkness. It had the same wings, but wasn't as tall.

"What the fuck." A voice came from within the creature.

The head was removed and a young guy was staring at us. He looked bemused. I peeked out from my hiding place next to Death.

"You guys aren't my frat brothers." He said, then glanced behind us like he expected them to just materialise.

"No, we are not," Pestilence snapped, tiring of this game. "Why are you dressed like that?"

"Dude, I was meant to be scaring one of the new kids in our dorm. A prank, like. He was supposed to be here in ten minutes, but you guys showed up instead." The guy explained.

"Why were you on a roof though?" I squeaked out.

The guy, who was probably a year or so older than me, looked confused.

"I wasn't on any roofs. I've been here this whole time just like Alex told me." The guy replied.

"How'd you make your eyes glow?" War asked.

"LEDs in the costume. Can you believe people think the Mothman is real?" The guy grinned.

Who was on the building? I know I'd seen someone. We left the frat guy alone to complete his prank and made our way back to town to get food. The festival was still going. A general sense of unease overcame me.

"I know what I saw." I said.

"And we believe you," Devin replied. "It's just weird."

It was very weird. I glanced back at the building as we went by again and nothing was there this time.

Chapter Text

I awoke quite quickly the following morning. My eyes flicked to window and noticed the sky outside was a soft purple with flecks of light streaking across the bedding. It must have been early. I had been dreaming, but I couldn't remember what my dream was about. It took me a few seconds to realise I was alone. My eyes darted around the room. Where was Death? He had been here last night.

Last night we had got back to the hotel whilst the first night of the festival was still going. Everyone seemed on edge since my sighting of what might have been the Mothman. I shuffled off the bed and for some reason I panicked. Charlie's words punctured my mind and made my breathing quicken.

I jumped when I heard a noise in the bathroom and walked towards the door. The door was slightly ajar and I could smell tobacco. I opened the door more, but closed my eyes. The scent of tobacco was stronger now.

"Good morning, sleeping beauty." I opened one eye and saw Death perched on the window sill. His back was against the wall and the window was open. A cigarette was between his fingers.

"A-are you seriously smoking?" I blurted out.

"No, I'm holding it for someone." He replied.

"The sign on the door says no smoking." I huffed.

"Always follow the rules, do ya?" He said, smirking.

My irrational fear was still there, but was dampened by the relief to see him. Charlie's words were still in my mind though. Was the demon I liked a monster? Well, I guess technically they're all monsters, but was this worse?

"I woke up and wondered where you were." I mumbled.

"I only got up 10 minutes ago." He said, sucking on the cigarette and exhaling out the window.

Somewhere deep in my mind I must have felt him leave the room and it made me feel comforted that I had noticed something like that. Death noticed my smile and raised a brow.

"You missed me all of the 10 minutes I was gone." He said, finishing the cigarette and flicking the end out the window.

"You could have gotten rid of the evidence another way." I snapped, still blushing.

I forgot how tall he was until he stood and walked towards me and I surprised myself by not stumbling backwards.

"The door opens inwards." Death said, surprising me.

I went to leave, but his hand shot up and pushed the door shut. Those cat-like eyes stared down at me. I was pressed against the door.

"N-not in the bathroom." I whined.

"Is there a rule for that? We should definitely break it." His voice was near my ear and a cascade of shivers ran down my spine.

He pulled back just enough to meet my eyes. I took a breath and tried not to freak out. I parted my lips to say something, anything. His lips claimed mine and I gasped into the kiss. My body responded before my mind could and my arms wrapped round his shoulders. The kiss deepened and I felt his tongue meet my own. My hands tangled into his hair again.

His hands slid down my hips and traced my thighs before grasping the back of my legs and lifting me. Death pulled back.

"Wrap your legs around me." He growled.

I did so obediently and could feel him pressed against me. I could feel the warmth radiating from both our bodies and his lips went to my neck, biting and sucking the skin there. I whimpered and pressed myself closer. This seemed to be the desired response because he lifted his head and reclaimed my lips in a heated kiss. My mind was splintering into a hazy pleasure. Before I realised what I was doing I clumsily attempted to press my hips forward. I heard Death groan into the kiss and I felt sort of proud that I had elicited a response.

Our kiss was broken again as he pulled back. Our noses were nearly touching and he pressed his hips into mine, letting me feel his arousal. I attempted to respond in my own clumsy way. The friction was immense and I moaned as he ground his hips against my own, locking eyes with me. I couldn't look away and I couldn't stop. I rolled my hips as best I could despite being pinned to a door. Death angled his face so he was near my ear.

"Good girl," He snarled the words into my ear and a choked sob of pleasure left my throat. "I want to fuck you against this door until it breaks."

He pulled back again, meeting my gaze, letting me soak up what he had said. My throat went dry and I freaked out a little. The fear must have been evident in my eyes as he lowered my body down until my feet touched the floor and I freaked out even more.

"B-but I don't want to stop." I heard the sob in my voice.

"Junko, it's OK," He said, then noticed that I was crying. "Hey, don't cry, come here."

He sat on the edge of the bath tub and pulled me closer. I sat on his knee and I could smell the scent of tobacco and managed a small smile. I lifted my face to look at him and he brushed away the tears that kept leaking from my eyes.

"I freaked you out." He said.

"N-no, it's just I've never done it before and I figure I'll always be a little scared," I rambled. "But I want to, especially with you."

Death smiled and I managed a very weepy smile too.

"I just got really scared about what happens afterwards." I mumbled, looking at him.

"After?" He smirked again. "We fuck until you can't walk."

I hit his arm and he laughed. His grin vanished when he noticed how serious I was and he gripped my chin, making me look at him.

"I'm scared it won't be 'to be continued' anymore." I said.

"You think I'm gonna leave you." He replied.

I nodded and he shook his head.

"I'm a human. I'm boring and weak." I protested.

"You have never been boring or weak," Death said. "So, I guess you're stuck with me."

**************

Although the door to the bathroom was closed we both heard someone knock. We left the bathroom and I opened the door. Devin was standing there, grinning.

"You guys took an extra long time to answer," His grin got broader. "You weren't up to something, were you?"

"Is your mind always in the gutter?" Death had appeared behind me, leaning on the door frame. His other hand was on my hip and Devin noticed.

"You two are so cute." He gushed.

Eventually I managed to persuade Devin to wake the others. I disappeared into the bathroom and got dressed and brushed my teeth. When I got out the bathroom Death was waiting. He had changed too and was wearing a leather jacket and jeans. We left the room and met the others downstairs.

"Maybe it was no accident we found that kid last night." Devin was saying.

Death and I sat down. Devin was talking through the events of last night. He seemed to be ruminating on where the other figure on the building had gone. I noticed Charlie in the corner. He was still not taking part.

"Those woods are huge," War said. "And your suggestion is to go exploring them."

"I can't think of a single reason why not." Devin grinned.

"Except for the coyotes." Pestilence snapped.

"Well, let's ask the trainee," Devin said. "He needs to learn to make the decisions."

Devin glanced at Charlie. I looked at him too. Charlie lowered his crossed arms and glanced round the table. He couldn't seem to meet anyone's eyes and settled for looking at their hands.

"Come on, kid," War implored him. "We've never trained anyone. We're shit at it."

Charlie's facade of annoyance cracked a little and he managed a small smile. His barrier was almost down and I hoped that he'd go back to being the old Charlie. His gaze went to me and the smile faded. Pestilence noticed this and his eyes narrowed.

"You dislike that Junko and Death are close," Pestilence said, and Charlie looked at him. "I would surmise that it is not your business and whatever prejudices you hold should be discarded for the time being."

This seemed to gall Charlie as his brow furrowed and he seemed to be deciding whether or not to trust them.

"If you can't get over it then we'll fail you." Death said.

For the first time, Charlie looked at Death. He glanced at me for some reassurances, but I had no idea what to say.

"Fine." Charlie huffed. "I went back to the hotel before Junko saw the figure. Perhaps it wanted to be followed."

"See, the forest is a great plan," Devin grinned. "And if we find nothing then we know that this thing doesn't want to be found."

Everyone got up and made their way to the door. Since the festival would still be going on during the day, Devin suggested going to check it out. A poster was stapled to one of the info boards on the way out, advertising a fireworks for New Years Eve. Someone grabbed my arm and I turned to see Charlie.

"Before we go," He said. "I'd like to apologize to you."

"It's OK, no harm done." I smiled.

Charlie let go and nodded. He still seemed reserved, but walked past me.

**********************

"This time there will be no frat kids." Devin said.

We were on the edge of the forest. The sun had dipped below the trees and the sky was inkblot blue and littered with stars. I was stood with Famine at the edge of the forest. He was holding a torch and trying to get it to work properly.

"Do we really only have the two torches?" He asked.

"Yeah, I didn't factor in how many forests we'd be wandering around." Devin smiled, sheepishly.

"It looks scary in there." I said, then glanced back at them all.

I had always been a little scared of the dark. It seemed like a natural fear and looking into the forest was making my palms slick inside my gloves.

"Ok, I think we should split into two teams." Devin said.

"An excellent plan. I will take you and Charlie." Pestilence said.

Devin protested a bit since I think his plan was to try and scare Charlie somewhere in the forest. Plus Pestilence seemed to have the patience for the new recruit training.

We split apart and made our way into the forest. The torch shook in my hand. We walked for a while and I turned back to talk.

Gone.

Where had the others gone? I shone the torch around frantically. It had been only about fifteen minutes and they'd vanished. They wouldn't have lost sight of me or abandoned me. The dark seemed all encompassing now. I decided I should keep going. Maybe our paths would cross and I could always use the bracelet to escape. A wave of relief hit me and was dashed when I tried to use the bracelet.

Something was interfering with it. An error message kept coming up on the holographic screen. By this point my eyes were so fogged with tears that I was sobbing too. My chest was constricting like a vice. I lowered my arm and walked forward.

I kept walking until I hit a break in the trees. I had discovered a factory. I shone my torch at it. It was abandoned and derelict. A six foot wire fence encircled it and I turned again, shining my torch at the tree line, waiting to see if anyone would find me. A thought struck me. I gathered as much air into my lungs.

"Death." I yelled as loudly as I could. I did so again until my chest ached.

When I turned around I noticed some of the security lights had come on in the factory. My torch flickered and I stared at the roof of the building. A scream tore from my throat when I saw a figure atop the factory roof.

The floodlights behind the figure blinded me a little and made the figure appear to be silhouetted. I could vaguely make out the figure's shape though. It was tall and I could see two wings. Was this another student trick? The sense of unease washed over me.

"I sensed you would come, Junko Misaki." The figure spoke in an unnatural voice.

I felt myself freaking out and stepped back, stumbling over some brambles. The thorns ripped my gloves and tore my hands. When I glanced down I realised my leggings were torn and I was covered in mud. My eyes went back to the figure.

"Do not be afraid," It continued. "I come to warn you that on the 14th day of the 2nd month a decision must be made."

"W-what kind of decision?" I called.

"I can speak no more." The Mothman replied, seemingly speaking into my mind.

"What are you? Are you a demon? Or a ghost?" I rambled.

"I am merely a harbinger," It replied. "Look no more for me, Junko Misaki."

And with that, the Mothman was gone. I was left seated on the wet earth. Something stung my hand and I lifted it to find a hole in my glove. My hands were cut to ribbons. I stood on shaky legs and I felt my bracelet buzz on my arm. I lifted my arm and pressed the button. The screen feature was disabled so I could only hear voices.

"Junko, honey, it's Devin," Devin said. He sounded freaked out. "Where are you? We're all freaking out especially Death."

I heard Devin whine in pain. I glanced around the clearing. I was so scared and my heart was still thumping in my chest.

"Junko?" Death's voice alerted me to my bracelet. "Tell me where you are."

"N-near a factory. It's kind of old and stuff." I replied.

"I'm on my way." He said.

"Wait, did you hear me earlier. I shouted your name." I sobbed.

"I did hear you, but couldn't find you."

"You'll find me now though, right?"

"Yeah, wait there."

The bracelet disconnected and I paced around the clearing in a blind panic. What did the Mothman mean? I heard movement and whirled around. I was so relieved to see my team burst through the trees. I stumbled over. Devin lifted his torch and his eyes widened at the sight of me.

"Sweetie, you're bleeding." He said, sadly.

"I fell in some brambles." I murmured.

I ambled past Devin and Death hugged me. He smelt like tobacco again. We all left. I never looked back at the factory and I was too afraid to tell anyone the weird warning.

*******************

"The forest isn't safe." The lady who owned the hotel was saying.

When we had arrived back she had been horrified by the state of me. She had sat me on a chair, insisted on making me a sweet cup of tea. I wouldn't let her clean my hands though. She had handed the disinfectant to Death. He was sat opposite me, cleaning my hands with a cotton bud.

"Did you see anything out there?" War asked, sitting on the arm of the chair.

"I think I did. I think I saw the Mothman, but I dunno." I replied.

My mind was still in a daze. Once my hands were clean I felt exhausted. The night was dragging on and I just wanted to sleep and forget what had happened.

I went upstairs to get changed. The others went out to see more of the festival. I did want to go too, but I still felt cold. The bedroom door opened and Death walked in. I was standing in front of the large window.

He stood behind me and hugged me. Some of the warmth returned. Above the buildings the fireworks started and cast beautiful colours across the skies. The new year had begun.

Chapter Text

The Mothman's weird warning haunted me and I honestly felt like I was tired. The month of January ticked by in a fast blur of training with Andy, spending time with my team and finishing my essays. I had avoided spending a lot of alone time with Death, mostly due to the fact that I was worried about telling him about the Mothman's cryptic warning and the thoughts about our relationship.

It was Wednesday 12th February and I realised the Mothman's warning day was two days away. All I had succeeded in doing was throwing myself into a continuous loop of panic attacks, which spiraled one after the other. Maybe I was thinking too much about this. Maybe the Mothman was wrong. Maybe the decision was a good one.

My bracelet buzzed against my wrist and startled me. I lifted my arm and tapped the panels, bringing up the holographic screen. A cemetery in Windham, Maine. Did I want to accept the mission? Maybe I could avoid the decision.

"Junko?" A voice, soft and friendly.

I lowered my arm and saw Ariana standing opposite me. She was toying with her over sized jumper and her brow was knitted in concern. I was no fool. My spiraling panic attacks had left me looking paler than usual and I was very sleep deprived.

"Hi." I said, feebly.

"My bracelet buzzed about a mission with you guys again," Ariana said. "It's optional for me, but could I tag along?"

"Y-yeah, sure." I murmured.

Ariana was no fool either. Her concern only deepened as she climbed the steps and sat next to me. I was too afraid to meet her worried gaze.

"What's wrong?" She asked, softly.

Her gentle tone and kindness was my undoing. Whenever I was sad and someone asked me what was wrong I'd break down into ugly tears. I decided not to divulge the Mothman's weird warning and instead wanted to tackle an issue that bothered me just as much.

"I've been thinking about Death and I." I said.

"You guys are close." She replied.

"We are, but what are we?" I said, swallowing the nerves. "Like I asked Chris once and I'm scared if I ask then everything will be ruined, just like before."

I glanced at her. Ariana sighed and she put a reassuring arm round my shoulder. It made me remember Collette and that made me remember the agony Collette must be going through.

"The two are like night and day." She said, eventually.

"I messed up last time." I said, rubbing my eyes. They stung with unshed tears.

"It takes two to make a relationship work." Ariana said.

"D-do you think it might be OK to ask." I wondered.

"That would require you to not avoid him." She grinned.

Of course it would. I could hardly blame Death for getting fed up with me. It was decided. I would talk to him during this trip. I could be brave.

"Let's go and get the guys for the mission." She slipped off the porch and waited for me.

I slid down and landed with a soft thud. My body felt like it was made of lead. I followed Ariana to the back of the buildings. A huge training area was behind the buildings. I noticed Andy first. He was standing and lecturing two other demons.

"You shouldn't fight dirty," He was waving his arms, furiously. "We're all one team."

I frowned and glanced over and nearly passed out. Famine had a spear embedded into his shoulder. It jutted diagonally outwards and the pointed tip was covered in a sheen of black blood. So, demons had black blood. That thought vanished and I was nearly sick. Ariana was staring too, first in confusion then in annoyance.

"Junko?" Pestilence saw me first.

I stumbled over, mouth agape.

"W-what is this?" I said, voice shaking.

"A spear." Famine replied, smiling.

"Why? How?" I stammered.

"Ask him." Famine said, trying to lift his impaled arm.

He didn't wince in pain or show any kind of true annoyance. Bile rose in my mouth, followed by anger. I whirled round and marched towards Andy. He was still flailing and furious. He frowned when he saw me.

"Y-you didn't have to do that." I snapped.

The two demons, a girl and guy, looked vaguely affronted by me.

"Don't worry about it, human." The girl replied.

She was blonde and wearing a floral summer dress. Her blue eyes narrowed and then she noticed Ariana. She smirked and stepped back.

"Y-you should apologise." I continued.

The guy demon rolled his eyes, "Apologies are for the weak."

I narrowed my eyes at him. He was about the same height as the girl demon. His hair was red, but not quite as fiery as Death's. He stepped closer, leaning towards me.

"I suggest minding your own business, human." He sneered.

I didn't have time to react. Death was in front of me, lifting the guy by the t-shirt he was wearing. The guy demon dangled there and he flailed, trying to resist. The girl demon stepped back and stared at her friend.

"Good luck, Axl." She grinned, and walked away.

"Fuckin' bitch." Axl yelled.

"Guess you're on your own now." Death said.

Axl looked at him and I don't know what he saw, but he struggled harder. Death sighed and dropped him. Andy was grinning. Axl glared at us and stood up, dusting himself off.

"Wait till Eric hears about this, Ari." He snapped, and followed the girl demon.

Ariana looked panicked and I glanced at her. Were they her team mates?

"They're your team?" I asked.

"Yeah," She mumbled, then lifted her head. "I'm so sorry."

She walked over to Famine and she looked like she was going to cry.

"Oh, Famine, I'm so sorry." She said, voice trembling.

"It's OK." He replied, shrugging with difficulty.

Ariana managed to remove the spear. The wound closed once the spear was gone. It did make me wonder how they'd managed to hit Famine since the horsemen were faster than most demons.

"One of them threw it while my back was turned." Famine explained.

Andy confirmed this and still seemed pretty ticked off. He swore a lot and said he was going to report it. He stomped off after that, in the direction of Eric's legion house.

"Did everyone get the mission notification?" Ariana asked.

"Yes," Pestilence replied. "I checked the mission logs whilst all this was going on."

**********************

When we got to Windham the first thing we discovered was that most of the hotels were full. This was because it was President's Day weekend and the town was full of people. The shops were full of people and there were stalls everywhere and an art show.

"Wow, I forgot about this." Ariana said.

We were wandering down the Main street. Posters advertised that this event would go on from today until Monday 17th. Not only was it President's day, but it was also Valentine's Day on Friday. Shops advertised this by sticking hearts and red bunting in their windows.

"There are always festivals." War said.

"It's President's Day on the 17th and Valentine's on 14th." Ariana replied.

"Earth was not like this years ago." Pestilence said.

The only hotel we could find was a motel on the corner of Nash Road. It looked like a typical 1950s motel, like the ones in movies. We walked into the reception area and Ariana pressed the bell. We waited and waited for what felt like an eternity.

A woman appeared from a door in the back. She stared at us like she was shocked to see visitors. She couldn't have been much older than me. She chewed some gum in her mouth and then blew a bubble. It popped, unceremoniously and Ariana stepped back a little.

"Can I help you?" The girl sighed.

"Yes, we'd like five rooms." Ariana said.

The girl typed something onto her computer and then glanced round at the guys. Her eyes widened somewhat, but she continued typing.

"Five rooms. That'll be $65 a night." The girl continued tapping the keyboard.

Ariana paid and the girl handed her the keys. The girl glanced to me standing next to Death. His attention was on the car park outside. She winked at me and then disappeared into the back room again.

We left the reception area and went to our rooms. We were all separated apart from Death and I. This would be the first time we were alone. I fumbled with the key and tried to unlock the door. It took some effort, but eventually it opened.

The room was dark and cold despite the winter sun. The smell of mold hit me first. I wrinkled my nose. We entered the room and I flicked on the light. The bedding looked like it hadn't changed since the 50s.

"Something tells me this hotel doesn't get many visitors." Death said.

I had to agree with that. The carpet felt kind of sticky under my trainers and I was a little afraid to go in the bathroom, but I did so anyways. The bathroom was small, but there was a bath tub in there, wedged into the corner. It was actually clean and I noticed there were jets embedded in the sides.

"It's a Jacuzzi tub." I said.

"Wow, how luxurious." Death grinned.

"Do you think it works?" I asked, then glanced at him.

He raised a brow, "Why? You wanna test it out?"

My face went red and I looked away. We still needed to talk and I guessed this dingy hotel room would be where the talk would be happening.

"W-we need to talk." I blurted out.

I peeked at him from under my fringe and he nodded. I left the bathroom and hesitantly sat on the bed. He sat next to me.

"So, talk." He said.

"What are we?" I asked.

"Inhaling mold?" Death said.

I stared at him, still blushing and feeling slightly annoyed by that answer. If I asked this, then would I just push him away?

"I mean-" I started.

"I know what you mean." He said, lips quirking slightly.

I waited, perched on that borderline disgusting bed.

"It's just, we've kissed and stuff. Where I'm from that's something that only certain people do." I rambled on to fill the silence.

"And you want to be like that." He said.

"I mean, I'm not opposed to it." I said, toying with my hair.

"Well, we are like that," He said, angling his head to try and look at me. "There's no one else."

I smiled, despite my nerves. I remembered the Mothman's warning suddenly and debated on whether to mention that. I decided to leave it for now. Someone knocked on the door.

When I opened it, Ariana was standing there. She looked annoyed still.

"Is your room just as gross?" She asked.

"Yeah." I replied.

"Ours has a Jacuzzi tub though." Death said, standing behind me.

"Mine has a shower, but there's black stuff around the tiles." She huffed.

We left the motel and walked back into town. We had to check for directions on the bracelets and eventually we found the cemetery. It was surrounded by a dense woodland and it looked so beautiful in the winter sunlight.

"Apparently there's a really hostile male ghost here." Ariana said.

During the day the cemetery was pretty. The gnarled trees cast shadows across the graves and I weaved among them, looking at the headstones. Some of them were so old that the writing was weathered and couldn't be read.

Towards the back was a mausoleum for the family that owned it.

"We should go eat then come back." Ariana appeared next to me.

Night time always seemed to be the best time for ghosts to appear. We left the cemetery and walked back towards the main street. As we walked my bracelet chimed and I lifted my arm. I'd received a message. I opened it, slowing down a little to read it.

I was surprised to see it was from Charlie. I hadn't heard from him since the last mission and he'd seemed to become a little less hostile to the horsemen. I read his message:

"Hey, Junko. I heard you were going to Maine for a bit to investigate a cemetery. I was hoping to join you guys to help and further my learning :) maybe we could meet later on tonight."

I smiled and caught up to the others. I slipped my hand into Death's. We found a restaurant and went in. Once we were seated and had ordered food I decided to tell them about Charlie.

"That's odd." Ariana said.

"We told Chris that he was able to go out on missions now." War said.

"So, why does he want to join this mission?" I asked.

All I received was stunned silence.

"It's fine, I guess," Death said. "But he didn't get a notification for this mission. He won't earn any credits for it."

I sat in bemused silence and wondered what Charlie was up to. Food arrived shortly after and we lapsed into silence.