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Siberia

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“Oh, you can just call me MC.”

 

The cobblestone of the bridge seemed to roll along endlessly as they walked, their shoes padding against the old structure with lanquidity and evenness as the portfolio under their arm remained secure. Compared to earlier today, when they had hurried across it in the opposite direction, the soft clicking of a loose pebble being kicked ahead was a welcome chime in the orchestration of the city at night. They watched the tiny rock dribble ahead of them, eyes trained on the ground as they smiled at the game they played with themselves. It would bounce across the round white stones, frozen in time by the mortar between them, and then duck and roll until finally coming to a rest, but their shoes would always reach the pebble again. Sometimes, if it was kicked too far to the left or the right, or it rolled under their foot instead of moving forward, they would trip up, swerve their path or stop to fumble the stone out from under their shoe.

 

In the bustle of the daytime, they surely would have been a hindrance. The morning traffic would have stolen the pebble in a matter of seconds, another’s kick would have sent it into the mass of crowded footfalls that made it knock around the bridge like a pinball. At night though, the bridge was sparse, and so they were free to stop and flounder as they tried to get the pebble loose from under their shoe and rolling again along the bridge. Although, some couples by the bridge’s edge did cast a few looks.

 

It was darker than the stones of the bridge. A bird must have carried it from somewhere.

 

“MC. Lovely. We may be a particularly powerful company in the eyes of the people, but I can assure you we are not that strict. Nicknames are a wonderful thing. You may call me Diavolo.”

 

“Milord, with all due respect…” The dark haired man standing beside the desk spoke up for the first time since he had ushered you into the office. The man sitting at the desk, however, held up his hand and he was silent again.

 

“Come now, Lucifer. There’s already been enough between us with all the formal interviews and such. I see no reason to keep up the formalities outside of any meetings or when my father is present. Besides, look at their face! I doubt they would actually be able to.”

 

It was true. Their face had flushed bright red when the jolly, yet large man had stood and extended his hand their way.

 

“Milord, it is not right to tease the new hires. We have been over this.”

 

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to be rude, uh, Diavolo, sir. It is nice to finally meet you outside of all the formal workarounds, like you said,” MC scrambled to shake Diavolo’s hand, simultaneously bowing as they tried to hide their panic. They could practically feel the bodyguard’s eyes digging into them, no words needed to say, For Christ’s sake, a handshake or a bow. Just pick one.

 

Diavolo was a good sport about their nerves though, and merely let out another rumbling laugh. He was young, not older than in his mid-twenties, but he was a warm and welcoming presence. The way he held himself was almost like that of a friendly, inviting grandfather, and when he brought his other hand up to squeeze MC’s fondly, for a moment, it filled them with enough confidence for them to think that they would do alright here, even with all their stumbling and stuttering.

 

“Well, MC, welcome to the Devildom company. I know we still might have some things to work out between your college classes and your time here, but you can discuss that with HR downstairs. I believe we did discuss where you would be staying already though? In a previous meeting?” He trailed off.

 

It took MC a moment to realize he wasn’t referring to a cubicle, “Oh! Yes! It’s no problem. I don’t have much to move anyway. It shouldn’t interfere with my work today at all.”

 

“Wonderful! To outsiders, it may seem strange, but we like to keep our top employees secure. Taking care of interns like you in our new program isn’t much of a stretch. You may be just starting, but I have high hopes for you.”

 

“Oh, Diavolo, sir, speaking of… May I ask a question?”

 

“Of course! Go right ahead.”

 

They shifted the strap of their portfolio, jostling it under their arm, “Um, why did you decide to pick me?”

 

A small kick sent the pebble a bit too far, crossing the summit of the bridge’s curve and tumbling down rapidly. They jogged after it for a second, intent not to lose it, but slowed when they saw it stop in the crack of one of the stones. Stepping off the threshold of the bridge and onto the older, weaker pavement of the streets, they crouched down to pick the rock up, intent not to lose the little friend they had made along their walk. It was silly and childish, but as they pinched it free from the walls of the stone chasm that imprisoned it, they grinned and whispered out a “Gotcha.”

 

While the west side of the bridge had cleared out as workers headed home and filtered underground into train stations or office men packed themselves inside bus stops, and the city settled into a quiet hum as it emptied, the noises of the east side began to fade in. Just a ways ahead, past the scenic viewpoints that overlooked the river that cut through the two sides, colorful shoes of all sizes and shapes moved in clumps across the roads, although each still added their own distinct click or shuffle to the building harmony. The sea of legs led to fashionably dressed men and women, with painted faces and precisely curled or gelled hair. One man leaned against the glowing side of a bar front and took a drag of a cigarette. A few stores down on the opposite side, a catty girl with a gaudy pink phone in one hand and flyers in another hissed into the phone speaker but then cheerfully greeted customers with a shrill tone. The awnings of the various shops and cafés separated the small quaint shops, and belied their true industrial structure that stretched higher up. The further back one looked, the more yellow, lit up windows on the sides multiplied and then became rows that seemed to appear like letters as the keys on a typewriter were hit. The squares climbed across the dark gray, steely surface of the skyscrapers until they shot off into the sky, spilling out against the black and blue night as tiny stars, barely visible with the light pollution that flashed from deeper in the weaves of the city.

 

Slowly, they started to straighten up, the rock still just pinched between their two fingers, but a sudden thud against their side sent them spiraling and the rock flying away into the shadows.

 

The collision shattered the illusion of the night and suddenly you were on the ground, collapsed in a heap.

 

“Woah! Sorry about that!” Your eyes shot towards the bridge. A man with tanned skin and whitish hair yelled as he dashed across the bridge, shooting the person he had just slammed into, you, a salute before turning away.

 

“Mammon, get back here before I wring your neck!” A gruff voice boomed as a blonde man shoved through the crowd of indignant and confused night folk until he burst into the scene. Once free, he picked up speed and began to wind up his arm, readying a strike as he charged across the bridge.

 

“Oh dear. Did those two cause a ruckus at the casino again?” You had started to stand up and brush yourself off, but another voice sent you spinning to your left. A man with a dark messy fringe suddenly cut in front of you as they trudged past, cutting in front of you.

 

“What a pain… Come on, Asmo-” his soft, low voice was punctuated by the slow drawl of a yawn, “If we don’t do something to stop them we won’t hear the end of it,” he waved over his shoulder, and his hand revealed the previous voice.

 

“Alright, I figured our night off would end the way it always does,” all the way to the right, beside the bridge, a man with peach colored hair leaned over the metal railing, and pushed the brim of his hat up with his finger. With a whine in his voice and a sigh, he pushed himself up and spun on his heel, following after the rest of the eccentric cast, “Still, I had a little hope that we could do something normal for once! You better not get blood on my jacket like last time!”

 

He just stepped onto the bridge when his eye suddenly glanced towards you, and then he stopped, facing them with one leg up on the steps that led onto the bridge.

 

“Oh? Did my brothers bang into you? I’m so sorry for their behavior. You weren’t hurt were you?”

 

You shook your head, “No, I’m fine. I was just surprised.”

 

He clapped his hands together and flashed an overdramatic smile, “Oh wonderful! I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you are! If my brothers had scratched you at all, I would be sure to punish them severely for letting someone like you get damaged.”

 

“Asmo! Satan is going to shred Mammon apart if you don’t hurry up,” the yawning man called from the west side, standing just over the bridge, in the shadows of the side of the city that was shutting down, “And I’m certainly not going to!”

 

“I’m coming! Well, my dear, have a lovely night. Let me guess, you’re an office worker?” His eyes held a mischievous glint, “I hope you get home safely and don’t get ambushed by any more brutes like my brothers! Adieu.”

 

The man winked and then strolled away, his long legs striding across the bridge with grace and speed. Watching him leave, you were left dazed, a bit panicked as you were felt the sounds of the city hitting your ears with such sharpness and clearness that the previous buzzing harmony that had sent a warmth through you was now pounding against your skull, your blood rushing to your head all to fast as the crescendo of the rising cacophony built higher and higher-

 

But then your phone buzzed, and all of the sudden you were grounded again. You stopped and glanced around. You were still by the water, next to the stone parapets that lined the bridge, and a few feet away from the black, modern guard rail that protected the edges of the city from the river’s edge. You fished your phone out of your pocket, and the blue light of the screen contrasted with the golden hues of the streetlights and shops. It was Diavolo’s guard, one of your new bosses starting today. A text.

 

Have you made it to the apartment yet?

 

“I’m sorry, I have a meeting late. I won’t be able to walk you home,” the sun had been setting then, basking the empty, but immaculately clean, office of Lucifer in orange and yellow. The man in question was like a sun spot, a stain of black against the fire behind him. When he was around Diavolo, his demeanor was understandably strict, but he was more terrifying alone, when his irritation and stiffness had no reason other than for the sake of being uptight. His hands folded in front of his face, he sighed and reached for another stack of paperwork.

 

“That’s alright. I can manage just fine finding the place.”

 

“That you should. You may be an intern, but Lord Diavolo has high expectations for you. If you needed a hand to help you cross the street everyday, then you would not survive a minute here.”

 

He had flashed you a smirk, and your annoyance had grown. As much as you knew you should hold your tongue- it was only day one!- you bit back.

 

“I’m not a child. I’m in college.”

 

“Yes. And what a pesky age that is to be. One of my younger brothers is in college. He suddenly thinks that he can do anything he wants with no consequences. He has been causing quite a bit of trouble around the company, creating extra work for Diavolo and I.”

 

“He works here too? Is he an intern like me?”

 

“Not quite, although I wish he was nothing more than a coffee-fetcher for me sometimes. Now, as much as I would enjoy talking more, I have a meeting to attend. I will see you later.”

 

While that was the biggest lie you had ever heard, you were thankful for the opportunity to finally escape. You nodded your head in a polite, small bow and followed as you were ushered to the door. You watched him lock the heavy doors before he turned and went down the hall, disappearing around the corner towards the elevator. You turned and went the other direction, towards the elevator that would lead downstairs.

 

No. I’m almost there though.

 

You texted back quickly, stopping after to glance up at the sky, a thought flitting by as you recalled the “brothers” that had just run by. They all looked like models… I wonder what Lucifer’s younger brother looks like. Hopefully he’s not as brooding and antisocial as him.

 

Your phone buzzed again, and you looked down to see a new text. Are you sure you haven’t gotten lost?

 

You scowled. You could practically hear the condescending tone in his voice. You had experienced it enough throughout the work day with him guiding you around the building, showing you mundane things like desks and computers and asking you if you knew how to use them. Although Diavolo always told you not to mind Lucifer’s dry humor, you couldn’t help but let your blood boil a little at the man’s belief in his innocence. Still, you kept up the polite act, not wanting to lose your new job on the first day. Sure, you still didn’t know why you were hired, but you were thankful to have a job nonetheless.

 

“Why did we pick you? Why, I thought all the interviews you went through would’ve made you feel qualified! Do you have cold feet?”

 

“No, sir. I was just curious because, well, I mean, I was approached on campus by one of your scouts and-”

 

“No need to worry about that! I mean, you should have more confidence in yourself! Everything in that portfolio under your arm shows your skill and your prowess. There’s no doubt that you belong here, and our new internship program is the perfect way to acclimate you to how we operate. Now, follow me. Lucifer and I shall give you a tour.”

 

You had your doubts still, but Lucifer’s face shut down any more questions you had. Although the selection process had been grueling and many of the questions seemed to pinpoint your insecurities and you slipped up a few times in answering, there was something always off about how you were escorted out. The interviewer would always give you a smile, and the same lip service you heard all the other candidates get as they left of “You’ll get a call if you’re selected for the next stage,” but there was something about their eyes as you left. Their smiles that never stopped as you walked down the hall, their eyes never looking away until you were gone, even as they silently brought the next person in. Something about it made you think you had already been hired.

 

In fact, since you had been approached by that scout while you were sitting in the courtyard on your campus, you had sort of got a strange feeling that you were already being actively pursued. You didn’t mention it at the time when the woman had come up to you with the business card to tell you about the Devildom Company and all their exciting job offers and a new internship program you absolutely had to look into but you had noticed people following you for a while. Sure, it had been a little unnerving, and you had been debating contacting your campus police about it, but up until then it had only been speculation, you had never actually seen the person, only felt their presence.

 

Well, you thought as you texted another message to Lucifer before putting your phone away, at least I get a fancy apartment out of all of this. Beats living in the dorms.

 

I’m not lost. I said I was almost there. No need to worry.

 

As you skipped along and moved into the crowd, you ignored the next buzz, swinging your arms as you looked to the sky, staring towards the big skyscraper in the distance, where your new home would be.

 

I’m not worried. Oh, but I should tell you…

 


 

The stone paths of the streets of the old side of the city slowly faded to concrete sidewalks and roads as the buildings got taller and taller. Weaving in and out of the lanes of people walking and the cars honking, tar and cement replaced the mortar and the ground became smooth underneath. The further in you went, the more fluorescent everything became, the golden light suddenly became more of a crisp white, signs on restaurants and clubs became a flurry of neon pinks and blues that strobed as a big television in the middle of the square shouted advertisements and news reports all night.

“This afternoon, the Celestial Corporation released the name of the final candidate for their new internship program. The Devilgram influencer, Solomon King, will be taking up the responsibilities of a mediator to help the corporation collaborate with the Devildom Corporation on account of their partnership. Although a month ago, the announcement of this partnership was taken as a surprise from much of the public, the two rival corporations released a collaborative statement that this program would be one of the first steps taken to fostering a successful business relationship between them.”

 

“Much of the rivalry between my father’s company and the Celestial Corporation is due to old feuds and failures of communication. We are hopeful that by each of us hand selecting an outsider to learn the ways of our companies, we will be able to work together positively on many projects in the future, for the betterment of our businesses, and our customers.”

 

“That was an excerpt of a statement given by the heir to the Devildom Corporation, Diavolo Mephisto, at their press conference today. When asked to release the name of their new intern, Diavolo stated that, ‘Unlike the Celestial’s hire, Solomon, who has a well-known media presence, we would like to value our hire’s privacy and not disclose their name unless stated otherwise.’ Diavolo also refused to comment on photographs obtained by tabloids showing his new bodyguard and the speculation on the resemblance to the deceased former heir of the Celestial Corporation....”

 

As you walked, the sound of the newscast became muffled and eventually faded out of your hearing entirely. The apartment complex you were going to be staying wasn’t too far away now, but it was nice to just walk and imagine yourself strolling across the city with no destination in mind. Although you had been living here for two and a half years already for school, which gave you plenty of time to explore, and made the place actually quite boring once you learned all of it, you still wished that you would get lost for a moment, and a stranger would help you find a new route. Or maybe a magical doorway was waiting for you down an alley somewhere, to whisk you away to another world. Still, you supposed it was enough of an adventure that you were going to be starting such an ostentatious job tomorrow. You would have to pick up the rest of your clothes from your dorm tomorrow night and then classes would be the next morning…

 

If someone had been flying overhead, MC would have been nothing more than another speck in the flow of people along the sidewalk. Like an insect scurrying back to the colony, they dodged obstacles of trash cans and drunken strangers. They walked with purpose through the noisy soundscape, but had anybody been paying attention to them on the ground, surely they would have noticed the empty, unfocused look in their eyes-

 

“Excuse me? Excuse me?” Two fingers snapping in your face snapped you back into reality, and that was when you realized your feet had finished carrying yourself to the building you would be staying in. Two guards outside the door were blocking your way, one of them leaning over to wave a hand in front of you to try and get you to pay attention. You must have tried to blaze through without noticing.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry! What did you say?”

 

“Your Devildom ID card, please. We cannot let you inside unaccompanied without it.”

 

You reached underneath your blazer and lifted the lanyard up, unclipping the card and handing it to the man. He let his eyes scan it for a second before he held up his phone and let the device scan it a second time. After another moment, he handed it back to you and both guards stepped back as the heavy golden tinted glass doors were pushed open, giving enough space for you to step through.

 

“Welcome to the company, MC. It is a pleasure to have you. Your apartment is on the top floor.”

 

While your first thought was, wow Diavolo must have updated your name in the system so it displayed your nickname, your second more pressing thought was the top floor? That’s a lot of stairs! What if the elevator is down or there is a fire? Clipping the card back onto the lanyard and tucking back under your blazer, you quickly stepped in through the doors, not wanting to take up anymore of the guards’ time. Once you stepped in through the vestibule you pushed your way through another series of doors and were thrust into the most extravagant lobby you had ever seen.

 

While most of the Devildom Corporation’s office building you had toured had a modern art feel to it, between white marble and odd metallic statues and twisting, abstract pieces, this place took the cake. The gold doors seemed out of place now, with how much colorless, black and white shapes and artwork that crawled from the floor to the high ceiling of the place. Even the chandelier looked like a spider spiralling out from the center coffer. For a moment you were certain you had just walked inside a hotel owned by the company and not the place a mere intern should be staying at.

 

Your attention was quickly stolen by how quiet it was though inside the lobby. Compared to the offices, where people were constantly on the phone or running about with coffee, papers, or in the case of the fashion department, racks of clothing, there were only a handful of security folk posted around doorways, the desk, and then the occasional liftman waiting inside the elevator. If it wasn’t for the soft, classical music tuning overhead, you could have heard your heartbeat in your ears. As you took in your surroundings, there was a ding from an elevator to your left and a liftman stepped out, amicably approaching you with one arm extended in greeting.

 

“MC, I presume? Let me take you to your floor.”

 

“Thank you, but how did you know that I was here?” You said, following after him back into the elevator.

 

“The guards out front said you appeared a bit frazzled. Normally we just get an alert when someone enters the building, but they sent an extra one for someone to come fetch you. Apparently they were worried you would get lost.”

 

Do I really seem that helpless? You thought as the doors closed and slumped against the railing in the back of the elevator. Lucifer probably set up that alert in advance. He didn’t trust me enough. He might have had people stationed to follow me around the city in case I did get lost!

 

“Here’s your floor. You can get in through any of the doors you see before you. Here’s your keys.”

 

He handed you a silver ring with traditional keys and an additional card as you stepped out, and you glanced around, realizing how small the square hallway you were in was, and how big the building outside had been. Which door is it? How big is the inside?

 

“Wait! Are you sure this is the right floor?” You started to ask, but the doors closed, and the lift was gone. You found yourself alone again. You looked down at the keys in your hand, and then at the two doors spaced around the perimeter of the small hallway. There were two lifts in front of you, and then a staircase on the right side of them. The decor was like the lobby, save for a red carpet with gold trim covering the marble floor. You shifted your feet anxiously as you stared at the white doors with the lock mechanism on them.

 

No, you thought, Lucifer already believes I’m incompetent enough. If he stops by and finds me fumbling in the lobby unable to find my room, he’ll get an even worse impression of me! I have to just do this.

 

Surging forward, you rushed to the door directly across from you and swiped the card in the black slot reader beside it, waiting for the green light and the click of the lock opening before grabbing the handle and yanking it open and charging inside.

 

You stumbled to a stop when your eyes landed on the giant fountain in the foyer.

 

The door shut behind you, and suddenly you were very much aware of two sets of eyes on you, one from the couches in the distance from behind the fountain, and one which had stopped walking passed the door and was staring at you with mouth agape and a video game controller in hand.

 

“What is Lucifer back- oh my god some normie broke into the apartment! Woah!” The purple haired man shouted as his eyes lit up and took a step back, thrusting an accusatory finger at you as he screamed, “This is so gonna be all over the tabloids!”

 

The man looking at you from the couches stood up and swiftly moved towards you. He was over six feet tall and towered above you, his bright orange hair uncharacteristically sunny for how he glowered down at you. You could see his bare arms were incredibly muscular, and likely he would barely have to lift a finger to snap your neck. You were scrambling for the door, but couldn’t seem to get it unlocked.

 

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! The operator must have given me the wrong keys! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to break in,I’m just trying to find my floor!”

 

You squeaked as you felt a hand on your shoulder, and suddenly you were being hoisted off the floor by the back of your jacket, almost like a kitten lifted by its mother. The burly man set you down by the fountain, and stepped in front of the door, blocking your way out. There was the other door, but the other man was standing in your way towards it. You slouched down on the floor into a ball and let your portfolio drop, the strap falling off your shoulder.

 

“I’m sorry! Lucifer was right! He knew I was going to screw up somehow! Just let me go back downstairs and I’ll ask someone else! Please just don’t hurt me!”

 

“Beel! The normie intruder is freaking out! I have to tweet about this!”

 

“No. Lucifer will get mad if he finds a tabloid about this. It’ll mean more work for him.”

 

You were still screaming random pleas for mercy, and the sound of footsteps approaching you were all but drowned out until you heard the gruff voice speak softer this time.

“...Card.”

 

You lifted your head, “What?” The orange haired man was holding his hand out. He repeated.

 

“Show me your card. ID.”

 

You practically snapped your own neck trying to yank the lanyard off and then tugged your hands back like you had been burned the moment he took hold of the card. You felt like a goblin, caught in the middle of thieving with how you were behaving, even though you knew you had just made an honest mistake. You heard the other man shuffle over to examine the card and you glanced up from underneath your tangled arms you were still using to shield yourself to watch their expressions.

 

You flinched when the card was handed back to you, “Come with me.”

 

Meekly you stood up and watched as the man walked away and deeper into the apartment suite. The purple haired man was still holding his gaming controller and looking you up and down, but was noticeably silent now. His gaze unnerved you though, and with another eep! You fled and followed after the other.

 

Maybe he’s going to throw me off the balcony. Maybe they have a torture room somewhere in here, you panicked and you followed. The man stopped in front of one of the doors, and opened it, revealing a dark interior. Oh god it really is a torture room!

 

“Sorry about the confusion,” he said, rubbing his neck, “We all forgot you were arriving today. Diavolo specifically gave most of us the day off so we could help you move in, but everyone else took it as an opportunity to run off to the casino. This is your room.”

 

You shuffled forward, clutching your portfolio to your chest, and looked in. The man reached inside and flicked the lightswitch, revealing a large and lavish, but very under decorated room. You noticed two boxes that you had packed a few days ago and shipped sitting on the floor next to the bed.

 

“Oh! So I didn’t get the place wrong!” You sighed in relief, “Lucifer was so convinced I was going to get lost.”

 

“Wait, so the normie is moving in with us?” The purple haired man peaked around the corner, a scowl on his face, “Now I’ll have to hide all my figurines!”

 

Wait, us?

 

“I don’t think you have to hide them. You barely let any of us in your room. Why would they go in?”

 

“Well, I-” The man turned red and let out an indignant squawk as he fumbled with his words.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m still a bit confused. I’m living here with you two?”

 

The orange haired man nodded, “Did Diavolo not tell you?”

 

“It’s not just the two of us. There are seven of us. Lucifer included.”

 

Lucifer???!

 

“Woah! Did you seriously think a plain intern like you would have a private penthouse like this for yourself! Totally lame! How prideful are you?”

 

“I wasn’t thinking that! That’s why I was so shocked when I came in! I was expecting something, I don’t know… More minimalistic? Definitely smaller. I was only told about moving to company property a few days ago…” You were still reeling from the fact that Lucifer would be coming home not to see you a mess in the lobby but instead in his own home, but now you were grappling with the fact that there were four more??? Who could they be???

 

“I don’t think you were originally going to move in here, but we did have a spare room anyway. It was changed last minute.” The orange haired man said.

 

“Oh yeah! Diavolo said something like, it’s cause the Celestial Corporation made such a big deal out of their intern! He figured you were going to get ambushed or something if it got leaked where you were moving to.”

 

“Why would I get ambushed?” What’s with this company???

 

“Uh, do you seriously not know? There’s so many tabloids about us right now! They hired that normie-influencer Solomon, and so everyone was expecting someone super big from us but then Diavolo chose you and decided to keep quiet, but word is going to get out eventually. He’s probably trying to keep you in the same apartment as Lucifer to control the rumors about-”

 

“Levi. Be quiet.” The other man suddenly growled, moving forward, and wrapping an arm around the purple haired man’s- Levi’s- neck as he tugged him around the corner, “It’s late. Let’s let them unpack.”

 

“Ugh. Fine. Asmo texted that they’re on their way back. Apparently Mammon got his ass handed to him by Satan after losing all his money at the casino again, lolololololol!”

 

Asmo? Satan? As your two new roommates disappeared back towards the foyer, you felt your face flush, recognizing the names. At the bridge there were four men… Does that mean they are the other four roommates???

 

Left alone in the hallway, you decided to step inside your room and do some unpacking. Slipping inside, you toed your way over to the bed where you laid your portfolio down, the poor thing had really had a rough day, and then removed your lanyard and decided to hang it over the frame of the mirror attached to the dresser. If you weren’t going to be able to enter the apartment building without it, better not throw it anywhere frivolously.

 

You shrugged off your jacket and deposited on the bed, and slumped down to the floor in front of the two boxes, your cell in your hand. While it wasn’t much to unpack, you still felt the need to procrastinate on it. Pressing the home button, the screen flashed and suddenly a missed series of texts from Lucifer appeared.

 

I would have hoped Diavolo outlined everything…

 

But to my dismay, he told me during the meeting he didn’t tell you who your “roommates” will be. Or that you had any at all.

 

Well, you said you were nearby, so you may have already found it out by now.

 

I will properly introduce you to everyone when I arrive home.

 

You sighed, and ran a hand through your hair, pushing it back as you leaned back against the bed frame. Just as you were about to set your phone down, it began to ring.

 

“One of my brothers just texted me that you arrived home. So you met Leviathan and Beelzebub.”

 

“Met is a strong word,” you huffed, “I thought I was about to get beaten to a pulp.”

 

You stiffened when you heard Lucifer’s breath hitch through the speaker. No, wait, that can’t be right. Was that… a chuckle?

 

“Yes. Beel can be intimidating at first glance. I assure you though, he will not harm you though.”

 

“They didn’t know who I was. Leviathan- you said? He kept shouting all these things at me the moment I walked in.”

 

A sigh. “Yes. I have to apologize. I told them last night you would be coming, but… the change was sudden.”

 

“I’m guessing you had no hand in it?”

 

“Of course not. Lord Diavolo, although he is a great man with many wonderful ideas, he is known for being very… spontaneous. At the last minute he decided to bring you in with us. He came to our door personally with your luggage last night. He really gave me no option.”

 

You smiled at the thought of Lucifer, the uptight guard who’s only other emotion revealed to you thus far being sinister mirth, being frazzled by his boss quite literally thrusting the responsibility of you onto him. You sat up and with the phone balanced on your shoulder, began to open the boxes up, “Well then, I’m glad I packed very little. I was worried we might have gotten off on a bad foot because my boxes accidentally hurt your back last night.”

 

“I’m not that old, you are aware of that, yes? Or are you simply that dimwitted?”

 

There were sounds of cars and wind crackling through the speaker, but Lucifer’s dry sarcasm still came through clearly. Picking a few piles of clothes out and transporting them to one of the dresser drawers took some effort of maneuvering the phone, the opening of the drawer, and the not crushing the neatly folded garments as you fuddled, but you managed. “Are you done with your meeting already? It sounds like you’re outside the office.”

 

“Yes, the meeting didn’t run that long. I’m almost at the apartment building.”

 

From down the hall, there was the sound of a door being swung open and crashing into a wall, and then several voices at once suddenly flooded the apartment.

 

“We’re back!”

 

“Is the newbie here yet?”

 

“They just arrived! They were so scared! They thought Beel was gonna rip them apart! You should’ve seen it!

 

“That’s because you started screaming at them first, Levi.”

 

“Screaming? Why did you do that?”

 

“He forgot they were coming.”

 

“I did not! I was just startled by what a normie they were!”

 

You crept towards the door and craned your head out into the hall. They must have still been in the foyer, because you didn’t see any traces of them or their shadows but continued to hear their voices growing louder.

 

“Are the rest of my brothers home?”

 

“I think so,” you said, putting the phone back in your one hand while your other held onto the doorframe while you leaned further outside of it, “What are their names?”

 

“If you already met Beel and Levi, then all that’s left are Mammon, Asmo, Satan, and Belphegor.”

 

“Oh, poor thing! Lemme go see them. Maybe I can make them feel a bit more welcome?”

 

“No. You are not doing that, Asmo. You’ll scare them even more.”

 

“You’re no fun, Satan!”

 

“And you’re a creep. I’m going to bed.”

 

“Yup, sounds like them,” you said.

 

“I’m surprised Belphegor wasn’t one of the first you met. He normally just sleeps when he gets the night off.”

 

“Is he the one you said was in college like me?”

 

“No, that would be Satan. Look, I’ll be there in a matter of minutes. If you have any questions or somehow the house catches on fire before I get there, talk to Mammon.”

 

You had moved down the hall and were now creeping around the corner, peeking into the foyer. The big fountain was still there, spitting water out, and you hoped that from their angle, you were hidden behind it. There were five men standing there, besides Levi and Beel, you recognized the men from the bridge. The blonde, the dark haired one, and then the pretty one who had stopped to apologize to you.

 

“Lucifer said he was going to be working late again. Should I prepare dinner?” The pretty one said, walking towards the right, where you assumed the kitchen must be. Or maybe his bedroom.

 

“String Mammon up on the balcony first. Lucifer won’t want blood dripping all over the floor if he gets back in a bad mood. If you’re gonna hurt him, you gotta do it right.” Leviathan said, waving a hand in the air before turning back to his game and walking towards the couches. The blonde spun around on his heel and turned back towards the other entrance door. It had a small hallway down it, and when he came back out of it, he was dragging something limply behind him. Rather someone.

 

“You’re an idiot. I may not agree with Lucifer on anything, but punishing you like this is enjoyable,” the blonde, Satan if you recalled correctly, started to move towards the other side of the fountain.

 

“Lucifer there might be an issue with me talking to Mammon.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“I think I just overheard something about Satan going to ‘string him up on the balcony?’”

 

There was a beat of silence and then a hurried, “Don’t worry about that. He deserves that. He will live.”

 

“Are you sure??? We’re pretty high up and-”

 

“Who are you?” Someone snorted, and you slowly lifted your head. You had been crouching down behind the corner to remain hidden, but now you were face to face with one of the men from earlier. The dark haired one. His purplish eyes stared down at you with disgust, and suddenly you felt a chill run down your spine. Covering the speaker of the phone, you tried not to let your fright be heard by Lucifer on the other end.

 

“Uh… I’m MC. The new intern.”

 

The dark haired man scrutinized you for a minute, his face scrunching up as if he smelled something bad. Then, he shoved his hands in his pockets, and trudged past.

 

“Ugh, whatever. I’m going to sleep. Too tired to deal with this right now. Still can’t believe Lord Diavolo forced us into this.”

 

You watched him go down the hall, and for a moment you thought he might just go for the easiest bed and storm into your room rather than opening another door, but instead he stopped at the second door, and just as he was about to turn the handle, he collapsed in a heap on the floor.

 

“AHHHHH! Are you okay?”

 

“MC? What’s going on?”

 

“Who just screamed?” The blonde man came running to the hall, with Mammon still limp as he was dragged by the back of his jacket. Beelzebub slid beside him, eyeing the scene.

 

“Oh, you met Belphegor. He does that sometimes. Don’t worry.”

 

“Does what? Passes out?”

 

“MC, I will be right up. I’m in the elevator right now.”

 

“You’re the new intern!” The blonde man said, dropping Mammon and stepping over the slump of him and then Belphegor to stand in front of you. He brought his thumb and forefinger to his chin and eyed you up and down thoughtfully, then nodded, “Yes, just as I expected.”

 

What does that mean? You felt like screaming.

 

“Uh-oh!” The voice of the pink-haired man still retained its happy-go-lucky sound even as it boomed throughout the house, “I might have burned something!”

 

“Asmo what did you do?” Leviathan growled, and pounding footsteps were soon drowned out by the sound of a fire alarm blaring. Beel leaned back to glance around the corner, and you saw his eyes widen before he went rushing off. Satan was still staring at you.

 

“Asmo! Get a towel or water to smother it!”

 

“I’m not touching it! My hair might get singed!” Asmo’s voice took on a sharper, more growling tone before his voice rose ten octaves and developed into a screech.

 

“Why would you put water on it? It’s a grease fire,” Beel said, sounding calm but you could hear his heavy footsteps pounding against the floor quickly.

 

“Asmo what were you trying to cook???”

 

“Uh, should you go check on them?” You asked, pointing down the hall as Satan continued to leer at you. He shook his head.

 

“No. They’ll survive. Now, you look like someone who’s well read. Do you know the literature of Dostoevsky?”

 


 

“You know,” Lucifer said, ten minutes later, once all of the brothers, including Belphegor, had been dragged to the couches in the sitting area so Lucifer could lecture them, “When I told MC to speak to Mammon if the house caught on fire, I was being hyperbolic.”

 

Silence. Lucifer crossed his arms and stared down at them. Mammon, luckily hadn’t been strung up, but he was still fighting consciousness next to a very nervous looking Leviathan who was staring at their shoes and fidgeting. Lucifer had heard most of the commotion on the phone, but believed it to be nothing more than excitement upon meeting their new housemate. Rather, he had hoped that was all it was, but upon entering the apartment, his disappointment was palpable. For only a second, his shock set in as he dropped his suitcase to the ground, but he quickly recovered and stepped over it, storming towards the fire and grabbing the three men and tossing them aside before easily smothering the flames just as they had started to spread beyond the stove.

 

“Technically, Mammon wouldn’t have been able to do anything anyway,” Satan mumbled, leaning back against the couch, “I don’t see why you would’ve had them ask him for anything-”

 

“Satan, be quiet. I don’t want to hear anything from you, especially when all you did was interrogate our guest while the kitchen burned. Now…”

 

Lucifer pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath, before twisting around to face you, who was standing a few feet away, observing the family drama.

 

“I deeply apologize on behalf of my brothers. I do hope you are not scared off by us. Lord Diavolo has high hopes for you, although, if you were truly uncomfortable after this, I could request him to move your living situation. It wouldn’t be an issue, since the place you were originally going to stay at is still open.”

 

You shook your head and took a step closer, “No thank you. I was a little shaken up, but I’m fine now.” Although you were still reeling from the fact that Diavolo had decided this was a better arrangement than you living by yourself, you didn’t want to offend Lucifer by telling him you wanted to leave.

 

“That’s good to hear. Saves me the paperwork at least,” You prickled at that. Oh, so it’s just paperwork you’re worried about?

 

“You lot,” he addressed the men on the couch again, “I want you to apologize for nearly burning down the apartment complex on MC’s first day here.”

 

“It was a small fire,” Asmo grumbled, “There’s no way it would’ve burned down the whole building.”

 

“Apologize.”

 

You shuffled closer as Lucifer stepped away to give you room, and as you came to stand in front of the couch, the six grown men all gave various mumbled, half-heartfelt sorrys before Mammon on the end sucked in a deep breath, and him and Beelzebub reached across their brothers and forced them all to bow with a slug to their heads.

 

“We’re very sorry!” Mammon’s voice rang out above the others, but you could hear Beelzebub’s more sincere, but quiet rumbling underneath the mess. Belphegor seemed to be falling asleep again, so you weren’t sure if he had said anything at all. Still, the sight of six grown men put in their place by their older brother brought a smile to your face, and you couldn’t help but start laughing.

 

Seven pairs of eyes stared at you in awe as you fought to cover your mouth, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh,” You took a breath, “I accept your apology.”

 

“Good,” Lucifer said, “Now that we have that squared away, let’s properly introduce you to everyone.”

 

“You said that you guys were all brothers? You don’t look anything alike,”  you gushed as you skimmed the varying hair and eye colors again, plus how differently each of them were built.

 

“Oh,” Asmodeus spoke up, “We’re not blood related. We’ve just known each other for so long we’re practically brothers!”

 

“What about Satan then?” You pointed at the man in question as you turned to look at Lucifer. Compared to the others, there was something similar in their eyes that made you think twice, “You called him your younger brother at work.”

 

“We’re not related either,” Satan circled his hand in the air flippantly, “Lucifer just likes to pretend he has more authority over me than the rest of them.”

 

“I’m paying for your college. That gives me plenty of authority over you.”

 

“Listen here, you-

 

“Now, now, now!” Asmo stood up and placatingly gestured for everyone to calm down, “Let’s not get side tracked! It’s getting late and we still have to order dinner since the kitchen is out of commission for now. Let’s get introductions out of the way. I’m Asmodeus.”

 

He reached for your hand and gently kissed your knuckles before glancing up at you with a wink, “Although I do believe we met earlier tonight?” You nodded, “I thought I recognized your face from the files given out the other day. Well, here’s to hoping I’ll see you when I fall asleep too-”

 

“Asmo!” Mammon reached forward and tugged the man back onto the couch with effort, “That’s sexual harassment! You can’t just say shit like that!”

 

“Why not? I said it to all the new hires in my department.”

 

Lucifer snapped his fingers and sighed again, “Next.”

 

“Wait, I wasn’t done! I’m in charge of the beauty and fashion departments at Devildom! Swing by whenever to get glamoured up!” He flashed you a peace sign before settling back against the couch. Leviathan went next.

 

“I’m Leviathan. I work in Devildom’s game and entertainment division, but I doubt a normie like you would even want to stop by, so you don’t have to at all! It’s not like I’ll be bothered by it at all, I’m used to people not caring-”

 

“Next.”

 

“Hey! I wasn’t done!”

 

“You should give MC another apology,” Beel chimed in.

 

“What did I do?!”

 

“You scared them when they first came in. You haven’t apologized properly for that.”

 

“You scared them too! You were the one who cornered them!”

 

“Only because you started screaming… I’m going to go order food,” Beel stood up and walked down the hall as he pulled out his phone. Inadvertently, you flinched as he brushed past you, and he paused for a moment to glance down at you before continuing on. Lucifer just hung his head and continued to breathe out, a frown permanently plastered on his features, although this time he looked more understanding than annoyed.

 

“Beelzebub can be a bit intimidating, but as I told you earlier, he won’t hurt you. He manages the departments focused on sports nutrition and most of our athletic brand marketing. He might seem a bit brutish, but he’s just thinking about a lot at a time.”

 

“I’ll just go next to get it over with,” a yawn interrupted, “I’m Belphegor. You probably won’t ever end up in my department. Lucifer keeps me in the basement of the building. If you ever get sent down there, you did something wrong.

 

“Belphegor-”

 

“What? It’s true. I’m going to bed now, like I tried to earlier.”

 

As Belphegor slumped away, but to the hallway he had initially collapsed in, you got a closer look at his eyes too. Before you could say anything though, Asmo spoke.

 

“Beel and Belphie are the only two that are actually related. They’re twins! Although Beel obviously got all the good genes, meanwhile Belphie’s got narcolepsy.”

 

“He didn’t do anything wrong, I just transferred him downstairs because I knew if he was caught falling asleep too many times managing another department, it would stall the company’s work,” Lucifer explained.

 

You scanned the remainder of the men who were on the couch, “So, just Satan and Mammon left, right?”

 

“It’s Great Mammon to you,” the brother in question said, standing and jabbing his chest with his thumb, “Make sure you remember that, measly human.”

 

Human? “Excuse me?”

 

“You heard me. I mean, you’ll learn your place soon enough in Devildom, but I am practically a god at the company. So, as a newbie with no experience, that means you are just an ordinary human in my presence!”

 

You blinked at him, then blurted out, “I’m very sorry, but it’s hard for me to believe that when you’ve got a black eye and split lip.”

 

“What?!” His hands scrambled to touch his face, and immediately he winced as they banged into the injured areas. Taking his phone out, he opened the camera as he nervously inspected the bruising before turning to Satan and screaming, “You asshole! This is all your fault!”

 

“It’s your fault for stealing all my money and then losing it at the casino.”

 

“No one is going to take me seriously tomorrow when I walk in looking like this!”

 

“No one takes you seriously to begin with, Mammon, now calm down,” Lucifer crossed his arms again, “MC, you will be starting working under Mammon in investor relations.”

 

Although Lucifer spoke plainly, you saw the expression in his eyes shift, and you understood. I pray for your sanity, went unsaid.

 

Must have been Diavolo’s decision, then, you mused.

 

“Compared to other interns working at the company, you alone are in a special program, I would like to remind you. Rather than just learning one department, Diavolo has decided that you will be assisting wherever needed, and writing frequent reports on what you have learned and experienced. You will eventually be meeting with the Celestial Corporation’s intern as part of the partnership and communicating on ways our two businesses can collaborate better.”

 

You nodded, remembering what you had been vaguely told this morning during the tour when you fought hard not to zone out. Mentally you wrote down that you would be needing to see if you had a spare notebook amongst your school supplies to bring to work. You doubted your portfolio would be needed if tomorrow you were just going to be sitting around discussing numbers. A calculator too, maybe?

 

“What about Satan, though? What department does he work in?”

 

“I work in publ-”

 

“Satan isn’t currently employed by the Devildom Corporation.”

 

Satan’s green eyes narrowed and he glared at Lucifer from where he had been sinking into the couch.

 

“Oh. You said he wasn’t an intern earlier so I thought he might already have a higher position in the company despite being so young!”

“Satan applied for a job, but was rejected.”

 

“Yeah! Because who was conducting my interview?”

 

“Don’t act this way in front of our guest.”

 

“You’re the one deciding to spill everything about me without my consent!”

 

“Woah there! Let’s all relax,” Asmo tried again, “Beel went to order food, remember? If introductions are done, we better get our orders in before he goes and buys out the whole restaurant for himself. MC, what would you like?”

 

“Uh… anything’s fine really. I’m not that hungry, to be honest.”

 

“That’s no good! You need to eat three meals a day or else your body will start to suffer! I’ll order you something nice.”

 

Asmo dashed down the way Beel had gone, leaving you, Mammon, Satan, Leviathan, and Lucifer in the sitting area.

 

“Well, I’m going back to my room,” Leviathan said, standing up suddenly, “No one bother me or come inside! Especially not you, normie!”

 

His voice got more and more distant as he disappeared down another hall, probably having enough of the stale, tense atmosphere. Lucifer and Satan were still locked in a scowling contest, so you tried to break the ice a bit.

 

Clapping your hands together, you addressed Lucifer, “Oh, I already told HR when I made my schedule but on Wednesday, I have classes in the morning. I won’t be coming in until the afternoon.”

 

“That’s fine. As long as you don’t get lost again.”

 

“Wha- I didn’t get lost in the first place!”

“Correction, as long as you don’t need me to leave work or send Mammon out to find you, it’s fine. If HR said it’s okay, then it’s fine.”

 

“I nearly forgot, you’re my age. You don’t commute elsewhere, right? You go to Philautia College?”

 

“Yeah, I was dorming there until this morning,”  you laughed, “I still have to go pick up some of my leftover things tomorrow night.”

 

“I can come with you. I have classes there in the evening anyway. When we get out of work, I’ll walk with you.”

 

“Good. You’ll have a babysitter,” for a moment, you thought Lucifer was talking to you, and were about to yell at him for the nth time, I didn’t get lost, but then you saw Satan seething. His knuckles clenched against the leather surface of the couch, nails scratching the surface as his body practically vibrated with an attempt to keep the rage under control, but then he lunged for a pillow on the neighboring chair and chucked it across the room, just missing your neck as it soared past your shoulder and hit the stone statue of the fountain and fell into the water.

 

“Whatever, I’ll be in my room. I don’t need dinner either.”

 

Mammon was still cooing in anguish over his appearance at his phone screen, stretching his skin to see how bad the bruising was before yelping every time it flared up in pain. You remembered how he had banged into you at the bridge, and how angry the man who had run past, now putting a name to a memory, Satan, had been when he ran after him. If the wind that you felt when the pillow flew by was any indication, he had some serious strength. You looked at Mammon again, and sighed.

 

There was more bruising on him than you previously noticed. Peeking out of the collar of his black shirt, you could see bigger splotches or blue and green sprouting across his skin.

 

Well, might as well try to get somebody around here to like me, you thought, and stepped in front of him to get his attention. He glanced up.

 

“Huh? Whaddya want?”

 

“Where’s the first aid kit? I’ll help you patch up.”

 

He made a disgusted face, “What? You think I can’t do it myself? I’m a grown man, you know.”

 

You lifted your foot up, and kicked him hard in the shoulder. He yelped.

 

“Hey! I’m your boss! You can’t just do that to me!”

 

“We haven’t started work together yet. Besides, that’s payback for when you knocked into me at the bridge.”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“The bridge. I first saw you, Asmo, Satan, and Belphie there. I was coming here, and you slammed into me, and made me lose a rock I was playing with. So, that’s payback.”

 

He scoffed, “What’s the big deal with a rock? Are you some lunatic? In case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of rocks in the city- OW! OW! OW! Stop kicking me!”

 

You had lifted your foot again and started twisting it against his shoulder more, applying more pressure.

 

“I don’t care if you think it’s stupid. You can make fun of me all you want while you’re bossing me around tomorrow at work. For now, tell me where the first aid kit is, and let me help you. The longer you just mess with it, the longer it’s going to take to heal. Or do you want to go to work letting everyone know your younger brother kicked your ass?”

 

You smirked at him when he shot you another glare. It lacked the bite of his other one though, and you knew you had won.

 

“Fine. Follow me to the bathroom.”

 

He pushed himself up and started to walk, so you trailed after him, but just as you got a little bit close to him, he spun around and kicked you in the shin. Hard.

 

“What the hell?!”

 

He grinned, “There. We’re even.”

 

He continued on to the bathroom, and you were left dumbstruck, mouth gaping at him. The audacity. We’re not even at all. It’s 1-2 now. Still, you thought about how good it would be to get him back at work the next morning, and grinned.

 

It was going to be a long day tomorrow, you sensed.

 

Strangely, you couldn’t wait.