It was a long day. Much longer, and much more painful than you expected.
You had woken up on time at least, grateful that your anxiety let you double and triple check the number of alarms you set the night before. You had hoped you would wake up to the first one, and not have to annoy your new housemates with a hundred blaring phone sounds, although you supposed at the end of the day you would all be going in at the same time and likely getting up at the same time, so you supposed it didn’t matter. Still, wanting to make a good impression on the rest of them after the chaos yesterday, you got to bed earlier after dinner and mentally prepared yourself for the day.
Perhaps you had been too prepared because you barely slept at all, so after getting dressed and packing everything you would need for the day, you slipped out of the room quietly, moving towards the kitchen in hopes of finding something to eat.
Would it be rude if you ate something without asking? The rules at new places always confused you. It had taken you almost an entire year to feel comfortable living at your dorm and treating it like you belonged there, you were a bit shocked to feel as though you were starting all over again. Last night when you had helped Asmo bring in the dinner that was delivered, you had seen some fruit in the basket on the counter, so you figured at the very least that was free reign.
Exiting the hallway, you came face to face with that stupid fountain statue again, and frowned. Seriously? Why would you even have a fountain indoors? And on the top floor too? It’s like they’re asking for the floor to collapse.
You decided to give it a better look, since you had only been creeping around it the previous evening. Once you were centered in front of it, you took a few steps back, and craned your neck back. It was a stone figurine of a woman. She was dressed in draping robes and appeared to have angel wings protruding from her back. When Satan had thrown the pillow, it landed in the second level of the fountain, right underneath the woman’s elbow, as she lifted both hands to tip a pot out and let the water fall back down into the dish. Her gentle expression, despite her eyes being blank, made you smile. It reminded you a few semesters ago, when you took art history...
After class. Students mingling out, their murmuring voices eventually dispelled by the click of a door closed. MC was still staring at their notebook, seemingly taking notes on nothing, as the projector had long since been shut off. Actually, it was unlikely that MC had been taking notes at all. At some point throughout the lecture, their professor had noticed their frantic scribbling had fallen out of sync with the scribblers and even the less active typers who were mainly surfing the web behind their glowing screens, various websites flashing in their glasses reflection. No, around the twentieth slide depicting yet another angelic scene -despite the Renaissance unit being over for three weeks now, seriously, how long had people been painting angels and demons for?- MC’s pen motions had shifted from gliding across the page to shorter, quicker scratches that danced around their notebook. Sometimes they drew rapidly in a circular motion before falling back on gentle, more precise angles, sometimes they flipped through and used more pages than needed when all the discussion was on the fact that marble was once again being used. Eventually, as class winded down, their eyes glazed over, and their hand slowed to a glacial speed. Any outsider would assume they were just falling asleep, and while the professor had seen plenty of students do that at various points during the semester, by this point, she knew what was up with MC.
She smiled and pushed herself off the desk, and then started to say-
“Zoning out again?”
You were startled by Lucifer, who had somehow teleported out of his room and was now standing across the open space and in the kitchen. His pale skin already glowed vampirically in contrast with his dark suit, but reflected in the black marble counter-tops, he looked even more ghostly as he stirred a mug of coffee.
Great you thought. Just what I need, him to find out my problem.
“Sorry! I was just so entranced by this fountain.” More like why do you have one in your apartment? Gaudy rich people.
“Oh? I’m sure you were,” he smirked at you over the rim of the mug as he brought it to his lips, “Don’t think I didn’t notice you a few times in my office the other day staring off into space,” he set the mug down, “Just don’t let it interfere with your work.”
You felt your smile twitch, and decided if he was going to tease, there was no harm in digging him a little. Afterall, you had already crossed that threshold with Mammon last night.
“I’m serious! I’ve been thinking about this fountain all night. It’s quite big. Reminds me of some stuff I studied in my art history class.”
He scoffed, and you almost missed how the mug clinked awkwardly against the counter as he rested his wrist, “Why? Cause it’s an angel?”
You rolled your eyes, “Yeah, duh. Actually, I was going to say it was the way she was sculpted that made me think of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. The way she’s holding the jar… It’s like if the angel wielding the spear just brought her hands a little bit closer together. It would be the same pose.”
“You’re still thinking about it as an angel though.”
“Well, yeah. It’s as tacky as that one so-”
You took pride in the shit-eating grin that surfaced on your face as Lucifer momentarily choked on his coffee. When he recovered, he shot you a glare.
“I’ll have you know the fountain was a gift from Lord Diavolo. It would be ill-advised for you to say such comments at work.”
“We’re not at work right now though,” you grin grew even bigger. Although originally shaken up by the idea of living with seven other men, all but one being your superiors, overnight you found your mood shifting towards the idea that even if they were annoying at work, you could get your revenge at home.
“I saw you sneak off with Mammon last night before dinner. It appears he’s already rubbing off on you too much.”
“I just helped him with some of his injuries. We only talked a little bit. I’m sure I’ll learn he’s just as annoying as you when it comes to work, right?”
Lucifer merely picked his mug back up and took another sip of his coffee.
“No, but seriously. How does this thing not fall through the floor?” You asked, moving closer to inspect the stone, “Wait, how did you guys get it through the door?”
“Same way we got Mammon’s car in his room,” Asmodeus emerged into the main room, a bathrobe around his figure and a towel around his neck that he reached for to loosely tousle his hair, “I’m late but did I hear somebody mention ecstasy?”
“Wait, Mammon has a car in his room?” You gasped, “How does he fit it in there?”
“If he ever lets you inside, I’m sure you’ll find out the answer,” Asmo said, “Now, darling, are you going to eat something or just gawk? It’s not good for your skin if you’re tired and hungry. Work at Devildom is grueling. Let me fix something for you.”
“You shouldn’t be calling them such names. That’s considered harassment.” Lucifer said.
Asmo rolled his eyes and, to double the dramatic effect, his whole neck while he was at it, “Oh please. As if your little banter I overheard couldn’t be classified as that too. I call everyone darling. If you stopped by my department more often, you would hear it too.”
Lucifer scowled, and stepped in front of Asmo as he tried to enter the kitchen, “All the more reason for me to avoid you and your cosmetics.”
“Lucifer, let me in. I just promised I would make our new housemate breakfast!”
“Not after the fire last night. Or have you already forgotten?”
“Hm… Perhaps. But they have to eat something! And if I don’t cook before Beel wakes up, it will all be gone anyway!” He whined.
“They can make themselves food. Last I checked, they're an adult. No need to coddle them.”
“But there is a need to welcome them, Luci! Of course I don’t normally wake up this early to cook, but I figured I should flash some of my talents to get on their good side. Now, lemme in-”
You awkwardly padded up the few steps next to the fountain into the raised area that created the living room, “Thank you, Asmodeus. I was just going to eat something small though. Can I take one of these?” You moved around the two and picked up an apple from one of the bowls. Lucifer narrowed his gaze at you.
“There’s no need to ask. You live here now.”
“Well, I don’t want to accidentally take someone’s food. What if one of you got mad at me? That wouldn’t be a good way to make a first impression.”
Lucifer didn’t seem convinced, but Asmo merely waved his hand, “They were a starving college student before they came here. There’s no need to worry, I’m sure if Satan hadn’t been coddled by all of us, he would be nervous about eating too.”
Lucifer went over to the stove and turned the burner on, his back to you both, “That’s not a scenario I would like to entertain.”
Asmo and you both locked eyes and he shrugged, grabbing some fruit in his arms before he dropped them on the counter at the far end of the kitchen. Expertly, he grabbed a knife and began to slice them all up into pieces before dumping them all inside the blender and reaching in the fridge for some more ingredients. His hands moved on autopilot as he turned to look at you again.
“Like I said, sweetie, you better eat before Beel gets here. You’ll need more than that to get you through the work day, trust me.”
You looked down at the apple in your hand. It was a bit pathetic, wasn’t it?
“I mean, I guess I could make something like you’re having… Or maybe, do you have some cereal?”
“Nonsense,” Lucifer cut in, “Take a seat at the table.”
You heard faint sizzling, and then noticed that while you had been watching Asmo, Lucifer had started frying bacon.
“We have extra time this morning. Don’t get used to this.”
You watched his other hand pull a box of flour out of the cabinet, and with the skill of someone who only could have had to manage six younger brothers, he started to mix together the ingredients for pancakes with one hand while the other continued to make plates and plates of eggs and meat. You smiled, and moved forward, gently taking the mixing bowl from him, and beginning to whisk it yourself.
“Hey, at least let me help,” you said with a grin.
You shouldn’t have gotten used to it. He had warned you.
Whatever sort of domestic spell had been put on you in the kitchen vanished the moment all of you set off to work. While the walk to the office building wasn’t impossible, you had sort of expected such high-level executives to maybe take a car or something. You were hoping for a leisurely walk by yourself as you counted the pigeons that pecked the benches or maybe even finding a new rock to play with while you listened to your music, but instead you were stuck in the awkward situation of rushing to keep up with the long-legged seven men who at the very least parted the sea of traffic with their stride.
Once they had charged out of the building’s front doors, you had expected to at least be able to trail behind, maybe split up and gain some distance, but instead they kept calling back at you to keep up, Asmo’s cooing more of a gentle teasing, but Mammon slipped to the back of the group to purposefully torment you.
“Hey! Hey! Hey! If you’re this slow just walking through the city, how slow are you going to be in my department! We work with money, I can’t have you screwing anything up!”
“Mammon, you already made quite a few errors with last week’s report. I’m sure if anything, having MC there should give you another set of eyes to check your math, department head,” Lucifer said coolly, not glancing back as he continued strutting ahead. It wouldn’t have mattered if he did look at you, you wouldn’t be able to read his expression through his dark sunglasses. It was cloudy out though, you didn’t understand why he needed them. Just to look cool?
The other brothers wore something similar, although Mammon and Asmo’s were lighter colors, letting you see their faces under them. Levi wore a black mask over his mouth and nose, but his eyes were skewed as he shoved his face against his game console. He didn’t need to look up to match his brothers’ strides or to worry about running into obstacles. He was somewhat in the middle of the clump of them, so he only needed to not speed up too much and he would avoid tripping over Lucifer. Satan was the only one without anything concealing his face, although, like Levi, he kept his nose deep inside a book, and his fierce expression as he read likely kept any people or paparazzi away.
You were confused as to why Satan was joining you all if he didn’t work at the company, but you were too out of breath trying to keep up to ask. Just as you started to speed up your pace, seeing the brothers had started to stop as they waited for the crosswalk to signal, someone in the bustle of people shoved past you. As you flailed to regain your footing, you found yourself tripping over a root that had raised the concrete, and you were flying forward, your hands skidding nastily as you caught your fall.
“Yo, human! Stop lagging behind!” You heard Mammon shout from up ahead, but his voice quickly was drowned out as you turned to glare at the person who had just shoved past you. You froze when you met a piercing red gaze behind a pair of rectangular spectacles.
Lucifer…? A chill went down your spine as almost in slow motion, the man’s suitcase swung forward with his arm, his gaze locked on you until the last second when his bangs obscured his view and his head turned around to face front. The last thing you saw was the ends of his long dark hair, tied back into a ponytail, whipping towards and then away from you in the wind.
Your attention was drawn away by hands on your shoulders, helping you to your feet. You turned around and was met by a shadow backlit by the sun, eventually clearing into the recognizable blonde hair and green eyes of Satan.
“Are you alright?” He asked as he dusted off your shoulders before pulling away hesitantly. Although, it was understandable. You had barely known one another for a day yet, although the touch was appreciated. You nodded absentmindedly, craning your neck to look around the corner of the building beside you where the man had vanished.
Pedestrians were already crossing the street, but Lucifer was hanging back on your side of the street, tapping his foot impatiently as he watched you two. Shit, you were holding him up, you thought, but you still tried one last time to glance around the corner, trying to figure out if Lucifer had split in two somehow.
“What is it?” Satan asked, following your eyes, but suddenly he was gasping as he grabbed ahold of your hands, seeing the blood drip down from the scrapes onto the sidewalk. You could almost feel his anger as his hands heated up, and he started to storm past you, “That bastard, I’ll-”
“Satan,” Lucifer was grabbing the back of his sweater, yanking him away from you roughly, “I know you don’t have anything better to do, but we have to get to the office. Stop holding MC up and let’s go.”
“They’re bleeding, Lucifer, in case you haven’t noticed. All because of that-”
“There’s a first aid kit on Mammon’s floor. I have to attend Diavolo and will not be made late by you attacking some fool and being arrested. Now, go.”
He dropped Satan and pushed him forward towards the crosswalk, and you watched as Satan wrenched himself away from the hand on his back with a curse. Lucifer glared at you over his shoulder, and for a second, before he turned all the way and his shades covered them up, you swore you saw the same red eyes that had gazed down upon you a moment ago.
You decided to just clench your bleeding hands and follow meekly.
“Geez, I can’t believe how clumsy you are,” Mammon said as he thrusted your hands underneath the cold spray of the sink, washing the gravel and blood out of the scabs that had started to form. You were his private bathroom, and he had a first aid kit balanced on his hip as he manhandled you by the sink.
“It’s not me, it’s everyone in this city. You knocked me over last night too.”
“Yeah, but that’s me. You’re already super slow and so of course you’re going to get knocked around by all sorts of jerks. It’s your own fault if you get hurt again.”
The water was shut off and he let go of your hands, fidgeting with opening the case. You arched one eyebrow at him, “Are you calling yourself a jerk then?”
You were satisfied to see him flounder and nearly drop all the supplies down the toilet before he slammed it down on the counter with a flush covering his face, “You know that’s not what I meant, dammit! Lucifer is right. You need to watch what you say or you’ll lose this internship position right away.”
You shrugged, “I mean, I still barely know what I’m doing. It wouldn’t be that hard to replace me.”
Mammon practically slapped the band-aids onto your skin and you hissed at the rough treatment. At your noise, he reached out and smoothed the surface of the bandages more gently. You looked at him strangely, and his expression was equally unreadable. His face contorted from anger, to sadness, to frustration as he let go of you and glided out the door back into his office.
“Ugh, whatever. Guess I have to teach you how we do things in the finance department.”
Last night, Mammon and you had been in a similar situation, although you had been much nicer and more professional about the whole thing. Trying to remedy the bruising on his face, you promised to show him makeup tricks in the morning if they still looked bad. He merely shrugged.
“No offense, but if I was going to ask anyone, it would be Asmo. You don’t look like the type who would know the difference between bronzer and concealer.”
Holding a cotton ball in one hand and a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the other, you deadpanned at him, debating whether splashing the latter in his eyes would get you thrown out on the street by Lucifer in the middle of the night.
You settled on dumping a hell of a lot of it on the cotton swab and then twisting it into a nasty cut on his cheek. He yelped.
Okay, maybe you hadn’t been that professional.
“What the hell are you doing?! Didn’t you say you were going to be helping me?”
“I was until you decided to be rude. I do take offense to that statement, by the way, and secondly, just because I’m not wearing makeup right now doesn’t mean I haven’t dabbled in it. I can certainly teach you how to cover a few things up.”
You reached for his sleeve and rolled up his cuff, eyes peeling over the array of scrapes on his forearm and tsked, “Although I would assume based on Lucifer’s reaction to the mention of you being strung up on the balcony, you might already be familiar in how to cover any injuries up. Would I be right?”
Mammon pouted from under his fringe, and then rested his head in his other palm as you set to work cleaning those injuries, “It’s what I deserve. I mean, Satan has the worst temper out of all of us, if you haven’t noticed. He probably could’ve decapitated you with that pillow.”
There was the low sloshing sound as you tipped the alcohol container and soaked another cotton ball, “I don’t believe anybody deserves to be beaten up like this.”
“Oh yeah? Then what was that about you kicking me earlier?”
“That was because you weren’t listening to me and you knocked me over. We went over this already.”
“Yeah, nothing. Now, I could just leave you now, or I could help you out with anything else you have going on under your shirt. Strip.”
Mammon jumped to his feet, hugging himself as he cowered away from you, “Are you crazy? I’m your boss! You can’t just say things like that!”
“I’m trained in first aid and I can see more injuries under your collar. You’re the one who’s making it weird. If you want though, I leave and you can do the rest yourself.”
You started to get up from the toilet lid you had been sat upon, but Mammon cut in front of you on your way to the door.
“W-wait, hold on! You didn’t even finish patching me up like you promised!”
“Well, I want to finish cleaning everything before I have to pull out the bandages. It’s just more convenient. Now, are you going to let me see the rest of your injuries, or are you going to keep being weird?”
Mammon stared at you for a moment longer with a confused expression, but you merely kept your gaze flat and judging as you looked up at him. All the brothers were much taller than you, but seeing Mammon curling away from you made you feel powerful in that moment, although you tried not to let it show. There was something amusing about how expressive he was. It was certainly better than Lucifer’s stoicism.
“Argh! Fine!” Mammon said as he practically ripped the black skirt over his head, revealing a new assortment of mottled bruising that peppered his ribcage and then exploded across his chest. You clicked your tongue again and began to inspect what you should wrap and what you should advise to put a cold pack on. Trying to be as medical as possible- he did have a point, he was your boss- you kept your touches minimal- and you were still just acquaintances- but something about knowing his brothers had done this to him made you frown.
“I’m surprised you didn’t break a rib,” was what you said, but you brain said- just what did they do to you?
“All because you lost some money at the casino?”
“They do this a lot, you said?”
Abuse? Do the others do this?
When you were finished wrapping up his torso just in case of any sort of fractures, Mammon was complaining about a severe amount of pain there when he moved, but insisted on not going to a hospital, you stepped back, and began to pack up the unused material back in the case. You were rambling on about things he should do to help lessen the pain, and how you knew a few tea blends you could buy tomorrow and brew to help reduce them if they didn’t go away or if he got this badly hurt again. You were cut off by his hand grabbing your wrist, and were startled to see him twisting his bangs to hide his eyes behind, and a hint of pink almost spreading across his skin.
“...Thanks,” he grumbled, before slipping his shirt back on and trudging out the door.
You were left stunned in the bathroom, watching the door close.
Maybe he’s not that bad after all.
“Yo! MC, come on. I know you were slow this morning but you have to hurry up with this shit!”
Forget it! He’s like a dictator!
You were racing in and out of Mammon’s office, collecting paperwork from desks of people you didn’t know the names of, trying to arrange them neatly before you set them on his desk before he was barking at you to go get something else. Coffee, snacks, random items from a shop down the street that he saw yesterday but demanded you pay for.
How the heck is this supposed to help the company in any way? You said as you tugged on your hair as you stared at your reflection in the public bathroom on that floor. Mammon was being ridiculous. He had started off particularly haughty, announcing that he was the chief financial officer of the company, and that Diavolo had personally entrusted him with all departments pertaining to accounting, stock trading, buying, and selling.
Basically, he was the “money man” but it wasn’t even lunchtime and you couldn’t help but already think that this company must be burning to the ground if he’s in charge. You had only gotten a few chances to talk with any of the other workers on the floor, most of them much older folk who looked positively drained from having to deal with their boss’ antics day in and day out, and those were the ones who had given you pitying looks, but the few you had spoken to politely told you in whispered voices that if someone didn’t reign Mammon in soon, Lucifer would storm in here and they would all get in trouble.
You had been hiding in the bathroom for about five minutes now, trying to get your emotions under control. Sure, you could storm out there and punch the guy like you had done last night, but even you understood that it would be bad if you did something like that in the workplace. You weren’t really sure whether Diavolo knew where the line started and ended in terms of workplace injuries or harassment since you were now living with your higher-ups, but you figured if it happened on company property, it would make the news, or at least be the talk of the department for a few weeks. You had only barely made an impression with your frazzled running about, you didn’t want the already tired workers to be scared of you too.
But, you had to do something. Anyone with common sense could tell Mammon was goofing off, and really, if you were supposed to be such a “special” intern, didn’t that give you some leniency?
Besides, what did Lucifer say your job was?
“... writing frequent reports on what you have learned and experienced. You will eventually be ...communicating on ways our two businesses can collaborate better.”
Well, you thought, slamming your hands down on the sink as you psyched yourself up in the mirror, I could certainly put in my report I learned how to handle Mammon. If the other brothers are like this, it’s a wonder that Diavolo even managed to get the Celestial Corporation to agree to a partnership in the first place, when they’re such a mess.
You heard Mammon in the distance yelling your name. You must have been gone too long, and he needed another coffee or something. His voice got louder suddenly, he must be right outside the door. You grinned, and kicked open the door.
“MC! Where the hell are- What the fuck?!”
Mammon jumped back and practically wrenched himself into a ball in surprise, his limbs flailing as he stared at you with disbelief as you merely smoothed the wrinkles out of your clothes, taking a breath before you gave him a smile.
“Did you need something, sir?”
“O-oh… O-Of course!” He regained his confidence, and coughed behind one hand, “Because you ditched now I’m behind in reviewing the finance reports and I have a shareholder meeting oversee in two hours!”
You kept smiling, “So, what do you need, sir?”
“What do I need? The Great Mammon needs you to go make me another ramen and then I’ll need you to run to Majolish two blocks down and-”
Your smile twitched, “Sir-”
“The Great Mammon,” he corrected. You twitched again.
“Sir,” you stressed, “Can I speak to you in your office for a minute?”
You shut the door behind you both.
You weren’t sure what Lucifer was expecting when he stopped by the investors floor three hours later, but you were sure it wasn’t Mammon and you bickering as you bonked him on the head with a calculator for the fourth time.
“Wrong! Check it again!”
“What are you talking about? You just calculated it and you didn’t get anything close to it either!”
“How the heck am I supposed to know how to calculate stock numbers this high? You’re the CFO, oh Great Mammon! Aren’t you supposed to know everything about numbers? Do it again!”
Lucifer almost dropped the coffee he was holding as he suddenly rushed to circle around the desk to see the monitor you two were staring at, finally making you notice his presence.
“What are you two doing? Are you in the shareholders’ meeting right now? Behaving like this?”
His eyes scanned all over the computer screen and he was both relieved and confused to see Google open to its calculator function, several long strings of numbers typed into the search bar.
“Why isn’t Mammon in.. the investor’s call?” He trailed off, glancing at his watch and then at the time on the computer. You slid off the desk where you had been perched and held the handheld calculator in front of your chest, suddenly a bit more nervous now that Lucifer was back in business mode. You still didn’t understand what had really happened this morning with him, Satan, and that look-alike and you, but Lucifer’s gaze scared you know. Still, he looked to you for answers.
“Uh… Mammon wasn’t getting any work done and had a lot of reports to look over, so an hour before the meeting I asked if it was necessary for him to be in the call or if he could delegate it to someone else, and he said yes so-”
Lucifer turned to his brother, who was leaning away nervously digging his back into the armrest of the chair. You winced thinking about how he must be putting pressure on his bruises from last night. Lucifer then took note of the sudden change in the office, from the neatened stacks to the organized bookshelf, to the emptied trash can. He then reached a gloved hand out and ran his hand along the paper you both had been arguing over, and then sighed.
“How long have you two been arguing over this one document?”
Mammon gulped, and began to click randomly with the mouse. You backed up into the far corner of the room, bringing the calculator up to cover your lips as you tried to sink into drapes by the window.
“Maybe… thirty minutes?” Mammon supplied, nervously. Lucifer sighed again.
“Well, that is better than I expected for someone with your useless brain,” you frowned at the insult thrown towards Mammon, “But, who is attending the meeting?”
“Someone named, uh, Miss D? I went out into the main room and asked if anyone would be willing to do it and she agreed. Mammon approved her, so she went into the conference room down the way-” you pointed, still sinking back into the curtains. Lucifer shook his head and moved around to the other side of the desk, setting down his coffee and a folder he had been carrying under his arm. It took you a moment to realize he was giving you space.
“I apologize if I frightened you. I was just… surprised. You did a very good job at delegating tasks, although, based on the numerous other times I have stopped in this room and seen the state of it, you cleaned it up?”
You nodded, slowly moving back out to stand by Mammon’s side.
“Did you order them to do it?” He leaned over the monitor to stare down his brother, one hand resting on the desk, the other on his hip. You shook your head and moved the calculator away, revealing your face.
“No. He was ordering me to do all kinds of things today, but I agreed to a compromise that if he got to work on checking the spending reports from each department, I would clean up the room.”
The truth was that you cleaning was more for your sanity in that room than Mammon’s, and you could tell by the slight pleasure crinkling Lucifer’s eyes that he knew it too. Mammon was sinking into his keyboard under Lucifer’s gaze, frantically typing numbers in and comparing them to the charts on the printout that had been turned in. After another minute of hovering over him, Lucifer pushed off the desk, and regarded you with an uncharacteristic smile.
“Haha,” he chuckled, “Perhaps Diavolo wasn’t crazy for hiring you after all.”
As you expected. He was still finding ways to mock you.
“Wait, Lucifer, if you thought Mammon was on a conference call, why did you barge right in here?”
“I was returning some files that I had looked over. I thought he would be doing this in the conference room, but, I was also searching for you.”
You pointed at yourself, “Me?”
“Yes. Lord Diavolo wanted me to invite you to join him for lunch at one o’clock. If you would like to accept, he will be waiting for you in his office.”
“What? That’s not fair!” Mammon jumped up, “He’s going to take you to some place fancy like Ristorante Six or that cool new cafe! That’s not fair! Lucifer, I need MC to stay here and help me!”
“From what I’ve heard they’ve already helped you plenty today. Besides, if you did your job more efficiently without some intern, maybe Lord Diavolo would invite you out more.” Lucifer said, peeling his sobbing brother off of him and shoving him back into the swivel chair with one stern hand. He brushed down the jacket of his suit and eyed you expectantly, “So… Should I tell Diavolo to expect your company?”
“Um, I don’t want to be rude, but if he takes me anywhere, I don’t have a lot of money as a college student… Surely he knows that, but-”
“I don’t believe he will be taking you outside of the building. He has something to discuss with you. I believe he talked about having Barbatos serve the both of you a meal.”
Mammon was aghast again, “Barbatos?! Are you kidding me? You get to eat his food so soon?”
“Mammon, be quiet, and get back to work,” Lucifer looked at you again, and you realized you weren’t really being given an option to say no, although you do suppose it would be rude of you to turn down a request of your boss. Or, top boss. Highest boss? You weren’t really sure where Diavolo was in the pecking order, but you were certainly all the way at the bottom, which didn’t give you much say with these things. All you knew was that Mammon somehow was just above you, or maybe now in Lucifer’s eyes, you were equal to Mammon. You didn’t know if that thought upset your stomach because it was an insult to Mammon, or to you.
“Sure,” you said with a smile, setting the calculator on the desk, “You can tell him to expect me.”
When one o’clock rolled around, you practically had to pry yourself free from Mammon to escape his office. Although you weren’t familiar at all with the complicated math that came with stocks and accounting- you were a liberal arts major until just this year for Christ’s sake- you had somehow wormed your way into his heart just by being patient with him- or maybe it was just that your patience was punctuated with light jabs and hits rather than pummeling. Either way, you weren’t about to be late because Mammon had decided to become a slug that was half draped on you and falling to the floor as your feet dragged against the carpet towards the elevator.
While Mammon’s floor still retained the same level of modern-design that the rest of the building had, the top floor where Diavolo and Lucifer’s offices were looked as if they had walked out of some futuristic, minimalist museum. Glass doors and big windows allowed the world of the hallway and the birds flying in the sky to peer into either side of the smaller offices, but Diavolo and Lucifer’s had a bit more privacy from those walking through the building. As you approached, you saw Lucifer standing leaning outside the door, and he stepped back to open the door for you.
“You’re not joining us?” You asked when you were halfway through. He scoffed, and slipped in after you.
“As if you could be free of me that easily.”
Diavolo smiled when he saw you guided in by Lucifer, his large hand coming up to give you a wave as he stretched from his desk. Lucifer gestured for you to sit in one of the large black lounge chairs situated around a low, glass coffee table that was as round as the black spot of rug underneath it. Diavolo made to join you after a moment, his hands folded behind his back as he crossed through a dark shadow cast by one of the metal bars that broke the seemingly infinite panes of glass that revealed the afternoon sky.
He came out the other side in the sunlight, his red hair and tan skin brought a warm glow in contrast to the cool monochrome of his office and suit. For all the suspense in how he seemed to command the air as he crossed the office, it was more apt to say that he plopped down in the opposite chair like a child, shattering the illusion of authority. He sat down, but he sunk back into it too quickly, and hurriedly made to lean forward and press his elbows on his legs, hands folding as he began.
“It’s lovely to see you, MC. I’m glad you could join me.”
“Thank you for inviting me.”
“I trust your first real day in the office is going well? Lucifer mentioned you were practically running things all over finance.”
You laughed nervously, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to overstep my boundaries-”
“No! No! It’s perfectly fine. Mammon has always been a bit of a slacker, but he gets things done when Lucifer puts him to it. It’s good to see him doing things before a deadline for a change. Besides, it is good to see an intern so ambitious. It goes to show that we weren’t wrong in selecting you.”
You watched Diavolo reach one hand out and gesture towards the corner of the room. You watched as from the shadows a man emerged. You did a double take, surprised to have not noticed him before, as now that he walked into the light, he had hair just as colorful as the brothers. A dark teal with lighter highlights at the ends, his lips were pressed into a thin smile and his eyes seemed to be pinched with this ever-knowing smugness. He gave a slight bow with one hand pressed to his chest, and regarded you with that gaze. You felt small underneath him, and flinched back.
“No need to be scared! This is Barbatos. He is my personal steward. He has prepared a meal for us today.”
“It is nice to meet you, MC. Lord Diavolo has told me much about you.”
“Uh, it is nice to meet you too,” You managed to whisper back. Having Diavolo and Lucifer in a room with you was already enough, but with his presence, the atmosphere had become stifling again.
“Barbatos, please bring us the drinks and food. I am sure that MC must be hungry after reining in Mammon all morning.”
“As you wish,” Barbatos gave another bow and slunk back into the corner, and it was then you realized he had been standing in front of a small door, he disappeared behind it, but you could hear the sound of dishware clinking beyond it before it closed. You quickly turned your attention back to Diavolo when you realized he was talking to you again.
“Now, MC, truthfully I have invited you here today because there is a matter we need to discuss. It involves the… publicity of your internship.”
“If I recall, from the transcript of your interviews, you were not entirely familiar with the Devildom Corporation prior to our scout mentioning the internship to you, correct?” You nodded, “I see, so I guess it is safe to say you may not have heard the news circulating about last night. While we founded this program as part of our partnership with the Celestial Corporation, they just so happened to have chosen a very famous person.”
“Solomon King,” Lucifer said, handing you a tablet he had prepared. An article was open on the screen and there was a photo of a man who was ghostly white against a backdrop. His black turtleneck sunk into the shadows of the photo, making his face look almost like it was floating if not for the fact that his arm was crossing his body, holding a tarot card just beside his face. He had white hair like Mammon, but his was more neatly combed and styled. His smile was off-putting, like he was staring through the camera and directly at you. It reminded you of Barbatos just now.
You almost flinched when the low clinking noise of water sloshing into a glass sounded beside you, and- speak of the devil- Barbatos had reappeared as you were entranced by this Solomon, who seemed to be dragging you into the picture. Barbatos placed a lemonade on the table in front of you, and you realized then he had been pouring it out of the pitcher from high up, and you were somewhat angry that you had missed it. You looked to Diavolo to see his glass had already been filled. Hopefully if I finish this glass fast I’ll get to see him doing his fancy butler tricks again, you mused.
“Solomon is a very well-known influencer. Although I don’t quite understand it, the fact of the matter is, he announced on social media that he was the intern for Celestial, and that he was very excited to meet his ‘other half’ from the Devildom Corporation, and now the public is calling for your identity to be released.”
You set the tablet down on the chair’s armrest and reached for your glass, “So, the issue is…?”
“Lucifer and I have a concern about… security. If your identity were made public, I don’t believe we would see any significant increase in the paparazzi that are always trying to get inside, there is just the matter of your own personal freedom. Walking around on your own might pose problems.”
“Solomon King has inadvertently put a target on your back,” Lucifer supplied, “You aren’t a celebrity, but the public is now obsessed with the idea that you might be. While most of our employees and other interns don’t have to worry about being harassed by the press because they blend in with the thousands of other workers in the city, you will be meeting with Solomon in the near future as part of your tasks. The press will likely be watching him very carefully and believe anyone he might be seen with is our intern. If even one photo gets out-”
“It could just become troublesome for you,” Diavolo explained, wringing his hands, and you saw his smile wither a bit. He must have been thinking about how to tell you this all morning, “I don’t believe you would be in any real danger, but I don’t want anything to happen to you. The Devildom and Celestial corporations both are quite notorious, it wouldn’t be the first time there was a… violent act attempted against one of their higher ups. The fact that you almost have a direct line to me could also be used against you.”
You set the drink down and stared at it as the ice shifted in the glass, letting the words sink in, “So, you’re saying that I might get attacked if I reveal my identity?”
Maybe you should’ve done more research after that scout harassed you after all.
“I don’t want you to be worried!” Diavolo hurriedly explained, “I don’t want you to feel as though you can’t tell your family and friends the truth when explaining where you worked. You may have even mentioned to a few already that you were applying here and that you got hired. It’s possible someone may have already told someone who our intern was, and word might be spreading this very moment. Either way, I promise you, I would never allow you to be unguarded. This job was never meant to be confidential, otherwise we never would have told the public about it.”
“Unfortunately the Celestial Corporation chose a particularly loud-mouthed individual,” Lucifer scowled.
“So, I guess what I’m getting at with all of this, is I am giving you the option.”
Barbatos rolled out a table with several dome covered dishes on it. He set it against the far wall beside you, and then took his place beside it, waiting.
“You mean, you’re giving me the option of whether you publicly release my name?”
“Yes. I know it might be hard to wrap your head around, but as you are an employee of mine, if any trouble arose during this internship, I would be willing to give you guards. It’s just the number of guards you will need depending on the public’s reaction. You may have heard that I switched your living arrangement suddenly, that was to ensure you would be in Lucifer’s care for most of the time.”
“Wait, Lucifer is supposed to be my guard?” You sat forward.
“Only while at home, if necessary.”
“Wait, then who guards you at home?”
He jabbed a thumb towards the fourth person in the room, “Barbatos. My father has numerous guards of his own that watch over my home, but Barbatos is my personal steward, like I said.”
“If I live at the apartment with my brothers, how would you ever believe I guard Lord Diavolo at home?” Lucifer scoffed.
“If you wish for your identity to remain private, then I will make sure to send guards with you on meetings when you must leave the company’s premises to speak with Solomon. We can organize things so you can take a car if needed, or even have a decoy car to distract the press.”
“Those sound like things you would do if my identity was leaked. I still don’t understand how just a celebrity saying he is going to speak with me would cause this much of an issue. Is it easier for you to just reveal it? Then you just have to worry about ensuring I’m safe without trying to hide who I am.”
“I don’t want you to think about what’s easier on our end. It is no issue. The problem is ultimately for you. It could affect how you go to school, where you could go in the daytime. I would not like your freedom to be compromised in that way, and for you to be miserable on account of a simple job.”
“You keep calling it a simple job… but you mentioned I seemed like I really knew nothing about the company. I know this internship is ‘special’ but are you just telling me all this so I don’t feel bad about all the trouble I’m causing?”
“Like I said, it’s not that you are causing any trouble. It’s just that you happened to be hired by a rather troublesome company, with troublesome ties.”
When Diavolo said that, you thought you saw something change in his eyes. It wasn’t like the light was leaving them, but the warmth that spread from inside his skin, in his heart and radiated through his gaze, his hair, and hands with their mannerisms, they seemed to fade. The sun was still high in the sky, it had done nothing to change the light of the room, to bathe you all in darkness, but he suddenly seemed a little more gray, a little more “not so” out of place against the black, gray, and white of his office.
You looked at Barbatos. His hair was colorless. He wasn’t smiling, but he wasn’t frowning. Either way, there was the distinct feature of dissatisfaction on his face. You craned your neck back to glance at Lucifer, and froze.
Lucifer looked empty.
While the others were merely frozen in time, he was lifeless. He was staring at nothing, he had not moved his arms from where they were folded in front of his chest, but he was standing with nothing inside him. Time had passed over and stopped all, but accidentally dragged his soul out of him, and you frantically tried to reverse it to bring it back before it was too late.
“I believe I would like to keep my identity a secret. However, surely if we just don’t say who I am, the public will have no reason to believe I am anyone other than just a simple intern. I don’t know why you see the need to jump to security and decoys with cars, but I think what we should do right now is nothing. If we just wait for things to settle down, and maybe do some more communication with the Celestial Corporation and this Solomon, we might be able to save ourselves a lot of trouble.”
“As I said before, you aren’t getting free from me that easily,” Lucifer quipped, and you felt like you could breathe again hearing his normal voice again, “You are still in my care.”
“I know, I don’t have a problem with that. I just… Sir Diavolo, I mean no disrespect, but I do think you jumped the gun a bit. I mean, when I entered the building today, I didn’t see any press or anyone swarming. If they were that insistent about who I am, I think I would’ve noticed this morning. Sure, if I go to meet Solomon, they might figure it out, but we could just do the first few meetings here. If they see Solomon walking here, they’ll know there’s a meeting, but they can’t get in. If I ever have to go anywhere to meet him or the Celestial Corporation, unless he announces it on social media, I doubt they’ll think of me differently than any other employee.”
Diavolo looked dumbstruck, and your eyes flitted over to Barbatos when you thought you heard him laugh, but instead just saw him holding a gloved hand in front of his face, hiding his mouth. Lucifer, however, did not hesitate to chuckle at the sight of his boss with his mouth agape.
“It appears we all may have overthought this a bit, Milord. MC is right. The public will surely settle down about this. We may be a troublesome company, but even they have better things to do than watch our every move.”
You watched as Diavolo relaxed upon seeing Lucifer’s reaction. He sighed, and then smiled warmly, that glow back as he chuckled.
“I suppose you are right. I may have just gotten a tad overzealous due to some poor decisions I had made recently,” you blinked at him in confusion, but he didn’t elaborate, “Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s eat, shall we? I do not wish to hold you up any longer.”
It was evening when you next saw Lucifer. While the four of you had a peaceful lunch with some brief conversation- Barbatos included, after Diavolo told him to join- you felt a little more welcome in the walls of the company than you had before. On the first day, you had noticed most of the employees wearing a type of uniform- a green dress shirt, black pants, and some variation of a tie- save for the brothers and other managers and higher ups which got more freedom in their apparel or wore a dark coat or jacket over them, you had been instructed that it was not necessary for you to follow. Although you did feel as though you stuck out like a sore thumb across the office, you now understood it may have been Diavolo attempting to hide that you were a Devildom employee. Walking alongside Lucifer and the brothers in the morning may have negated those efforts, but with their faces hidden and you dressed plainly, you just looked like another face in the crowd that happened to be going the same direction as those mysterious looking men.
Barbatos wasn’t as scary as you had thought, and while you felt hesitant to ask him to refill your glass after he joined you to eat, he seemed to know what you wanted, and with a grandiose flurry of skill, did the dramatic pour into the glass before handing it back to you. He was quiet, but not without humor. You were a bit sad when you said goodbye and headed back to work, knowing that if he helped Diavolo at home, you might not get to see him except for these occasions. It wasn’t until later, when Mammon was hugging you and whining about how you didn’t save any food of “Barbatos’ delicious cooking” for him to try, and you opened your phone to distract yourself from him hanging on you, that you realize that the steward had somehow gotten your number. He must have done one of his butler tricks again to take it when you weren’t looking, as there wasn’t just a message with his name in it, but his contact had been added. After texting back, you shut your phone off before bonking Mammon on the head with it and shrugging him off, getting back to work, which really meant getting Mammon back on track.
But, the sun was just beginning to set, which meant it was time for you to go pick up the rest of your belongings from your abandoned dorm. Mammon had finished his work because of you, and got to go home early, but it felt… wrong to just leave the office early on your second day. You were supposed to be notetaking on what you had done, because you needed to share it with this Solomon, right? You didn’t have Satan’s number yet, and you didn’t know where he had gone to when you entered the building in the morning, so you decided to just work by the cafe in the first floor lobby until you saw him or he saw you.
It was Lucifer who found you first though. When a shadow cut in front of your table and loomed over you for a considerable two minutes without moving, you realized it wasn’t the usual businessman waiting in a long line for coffee. You glanced up, and scurried to take your headphones out to address Lucifer.
“Mammon finished early and went home, and I didn’t know what else there was for me to do so I-!”
“It’s fine. I can see you’re doing work at least,” he said, pointing at the notebook you had been scribbling in for the past two hours, “I’m glad I caught you though. You are walking with Satan today, right?”
“Yes. We both have to go to the college, so it makes sense.”
He held out his hand, “I want to give you Diavolo’s phone number,” you quickly unlocked your phone and opened the contacts app, handing it to him, “Just in case.”
“In case of what? Like in case someone realizes I’m working for Devildom?”
“No, in case my brother does anything and I’m unavailable.”
He finished typing and handed the phone back to you, “What would he even do? He seemed nice this morning.”
His lips pressed into a thin line and he looked to the window at the front of the building, “Yes, he is very good at that act of his.”
“What do you mean?”
“This is just a warning. He may appear friendly, but you have known him for less than a day. I don’t think he would do anything to you, just be wary of him. He might-”
“MC!” You both looked towards the sound of the voice, seeing Satan jog across the lobby from the elevator to your table. He slowed when he saw Lucifer standing by you, “I checked Mammon’s floor, but couldn’t find you. I thought you might have left.”
“I’m sorry! I didn’t have your number, so I thought it best for me to wait down here in case I caught you while you were leaving.”
“Oh, here let me give you my number…” He grabbed a pen out of his messenger bag and moved over to the table, gently pushing your arm out of the way to jot down the number on the corner of your paper. You pulled your arms back as he wrote, not minding the action, but Lucifer seemed offended on your behalf.
“Satan, you can’t just shove MC.”
Satan glanced up at him, and his expression crushed itself into one of anger, but when he looked back at you, he made sure he was smiling, “Sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you.” You realized he was wearing glasses now, compared to when you had seen him earlier.
“You shouldn’t just go writing in their notes either. That was for work.”
“Lucifer, it’s fine,” you said, closing the book and shoving it inside your small backpack before standing up, “Satan, you have to get to class soon, right? I don’t want to make you late. Let’s go.”
You both circled around the table to make towards the front door of the building, but Lucifer caught your arm and made you violently jerk to a stop.
“What are you doing? Let go of them!” Satan hissed when he saw you get yanked like a ragdoll.
“Contact me if anything happens,” was all Lucifer said, before he released you. You didn’t move right away though, instead, you just stared at Lucifer even after it was clear he was done with you. His face was unreadable. It wasn’t dead like this afternoon when it had frightened you, but he was scanning you, not like Barbatos or that strange omniscient gaze Solomon’s photo had, but he was searching you for something. It wasn’t until Satan’s fingers brushed your wrist, did you snap out of the spell.
You turned to look at the other, and he must have realized he was doing the same thing he had just called Lucifer out for, and his touch disappeared. He shifted the strap of his messenger bag and jerked his shoulder towards the door, “Come on. Like you said.”
You hurried out the door, casting a glance every two steps at Lucifer to see him still watching you, until the door closed, and you could still see him through the glass, but there was something between you.
It was clear that it was there, but what was, wasn’t.
To get to the college, you actually had to cross over the bridge in the center of the city and pass by the apartment building, and then cross over another bridge to the east of that to get to the campus. When you had been running to the Devildom building from there yesterday morning, it had felt like a long way to go, but walking back that way with no time limit, it felt like nothing. You were worried about Satan being late, but he didn’t offer for you both to take a bus or anything, so you pushed down your anxieties about you holding him up and tried to walk briskly just in case, but trusted that he had made you both leave with enough time.
You didn’t intend to be quiet while walking, but as the more industrial, west side of the city faded to the cobblestone of Purgatory bridge, his questions about how your day was with Mammon dwindled as his responses to your own questions in regards to him got more and more deflective. There was a resurgence in urban design as you passed the apartment building, where you two were completely quiet in your walk by that point, but slowly more and more parks appeared, and you two were cutting through one, nearing the wooden bridge you would need to take to enter the back of the campus.
You saw Satan’s hand twitch near his messenger bag a few times, but just thought he was going to take out his phone to check the time. It wasn’t until your mind drifted all the way back to recounting this morning did you remember.
He had a book! He must want to read right now but not seem rude.
“Oh, Satan, I forgot to answer your question because of the chaos last night!” You clapped your hands together.
“My question…?” His hands moved away from the bag again, and you felt bad. Maybe he was betting on taking it out if the silence stretched any longer.
“Yes, about Dostoyevsky!”
“Oh! That question!” You felt your nervousness leave you when you saw his green eyes sparkle, “Have you read his works?”
“Yes! Only one though, back in high school. Crime and Punishment.”
“Ah, that’s the first one I read too! It truly is one of his best. But, ah,” he seemed to draw back in his excitement a bit, “How did you like it?”
“It’s one of my favorite classics! I thought about reading more of his work, but once college hit, I just lost the time to read with all my projects and no professor to regulate the due dates of chapters. I don’t know about his others, but that was a very long book, so I’m not sure I have the strength to do it on my own.”
“That’s understandable. I’m still adjusting to college a bit.”
“Oh, are you younger than me?”
“I’m just starting my second year here.”
“I’m a junior, so that makes sense. Do you know what you want to do though?”
He tilted his head back and smiled up at the sky, which was just visible through the canopy of leaves that was beginning to knit together over your heads. In the light of the sunset, the yellow greens of the leaves were dyed in a faint orange color.
“I’m hoping to work in publishing. I want to be a writer, but Diavolo has already promised me a job at the company once I graduate.”
“So is that why you walked with us this morning? I was so confused because Lucifer said you weren’t an intern.”
You thought he might get angry at the mention of Lucifer again, but you only saw his face shift slightly, but his good mood didn’t dissipate, which made you happy. I didn’t make a mistake.
“Lucifer won’t let me do anything, but he can’t deny Diavolo. I was actually offered the job right out of high school, but Lucifer interfered and selected himself as my interviewer. So, of course I got rejected. I suspect there was a lot of arguing behind the scenes though, because when I nearly tried to kill Lucifer, Asmo stopped me and told me that Diavolo and Lucifer had come to a compromise. Once I graduate college, Diavolo will personally oversee my interview and I will be guaranteed the job.”
“Lucifer must really want you to graduate college. He must really care about you.”
“He only cares about meddling with me.”
Sensing Satan’s irritation, you switched the subject, “So, Crime and Punishment? Why did you like it?”
His smile came back, and you knew you had made a good choice. You felt a bit like a manipulator, mentally checking off how often he responded positively, but it put your mind at ease to know you hadn’t seriously upset him. You were still getting to know him, and didn’t want to end up living with someone who hated you.
“Well, at first I was drawn to it because of it’s murder premise. I like detective stories, so I originally thought it would be an engaging read. I wasn’t prepared for Dostoyesvsky to get so inside my head though with all the ideologies though.”
“So you read up about them too? I learned about them in class, and was fascinated by it, but was always worried if I recommended the book to anyone, they wouldn’t get what he was talking about if they just read it, you know?”
“Pssh,” he waved his hand in the air dismissively, “after reading the epilogue and Raskolnikov’s dream, how could I not go learn more? Besides, his other works focus on a lot of similar things, so if I was going to read them all, I was going to pick up something from him, even if I didn’t research it myself. But, besides themes, what did you like about the book? I know there are so many scenes that are still embedded in my brain.”
“To tell you the truth, I was very drawn to Raskolnikov as a character. I guess I’m a bit like Sonia in that sense,” you laughed.
“It’s understandable. He does have that sort of ‘save me, fix me’ attitude that a lot of people find attractive in a guy, I suppose,” he laughed, “For me, I really enjoyed his dynamic with Razumikihn. Especially the scenes where Raskolnikov kept denying the care, but Razumikihn kept offering and offering.”
You let out a laugh too, “He really did never relent. He cared a lot. I always found the scene of him spoon feeding him soup quite precious. I almost wished to have someone like that in my life.”
“Me too,” Satan mused, his words like a sigh even as he continued smiling towards the sky. It was getting darker, “Oh! But what did you think about the idea of the...”
“...Bridge,” you finished, just as you both came to a stop just before the bridge that ended the park’s forest and led into the paths of the campus grounds, “Uh, I need to get over to the Philautia Hall dorms. Where are you going?”
“Sadly the other direction. My class is in Salvation Hall. I’m afraid this is where we part. Do you have a lot to bring back with you though?”
You shook your head as you stepped up over the bridge, “No. I sent most of my items over already. It’s just some small items. I brought my backpack with me for that reason. I should be fine.”
Satan followed and began to cross over the small stream as well, “Alright, well, I should see you back home around dinner time. Farewell then,” he waved.
You stepped off the bridge, but turned around to look at him. He wasn’t stepping off. You started walking backwards, and gave him a small wave back. He just leaned over the side of the bridge, watching as you moved onto the pathway and started the trek towards the dorms. The sky was starting to turn a pinkish purple now that you were free from the coverage of the leaves, and a streetlight next to the bridge turned on, illuminating him in its glow. He kept smiling until you were far enough away and decided to stop looking back to see it fade.