Sitting in a dark lecture hall, staring at a projected screen that was barely visible with its outdated powerpoint should not be worth all the student debt, you mused, tapping your pen against your notebook impatiently. You had the morning off from work on account of your classes, which was a nice change of pace. Rather than sprinting after the brothers across the city to the office, you got to wake up a bit later, when the apartment had cleared out of their noise and walk through the park alone, your music playing in your ears without anyone yelling at you to keep up. There was no rush for you to go straight to the office after class either, which meant you got to leisurely walk that way too. Although it was only the third morning since you had started working, you already were thankful for the break to help you relax. Sure, class might still be splitting your brain open with your professor’s incessant talking, but at least it was easy to zone out and you wouldn’t be expected to answer much today.
You slowed the tapping of the pen, and propped your head up on your hand as you let yourself fade away.
You still felt a little embarrassed about how ignorant you were of the Devildom and Celestial Corporation’s work. You had known of their existence from pretty early on in your move to the city, but you never really understood how monumental and how much power they weighed over the city until recently. Sure, your few friends and classmates on campus often talked about the latest phone or computer that came from one of the two brands, but you had never been one to pay much attention to those trends. Your phone just happened to be a Celestial model, but that was just because it was convenient, and it was a few generations old anyway. But, after you had been confronted by that scout, it was suddenly everywhere.
Leaving wonderland, you had heard that effect called. After taking that card and pocketing it in hopes of forgetting about it, you weren’t the most ambitious person since college consumed your life, you were given no choice but to constantly think about it as you were faced with almost every store or brand in the city featuring a small Devildom or Celestial logo on the sliding doors or painted windows. At first you thought just living in the dorms had isolated you, but you nearly screamed when you realized the art supplies in the school store had a tiny little devil face embossed into their handle.
Seriously, how blind were you until now? Even your notebook was a brand under the Celestial umbrella. Granted, you had to google it to even find out it was a subsidiary, but still, it made you wonder how many other products or masquerading mom-and-pop shop’s were actually controlled by the two corporations.
Maybe you should stop zoning out, willing or not. You shook yourself out of your daze, and tried to pay attention to the powerpoint, squinting to see. Why were all the classes you got stuck with this semester like this? Even a few years back, when you had art history, you remembered the projectors being better with the lighting setting. Oh god was that yellow text on a green background? Oh, wait, it’s still a white background. The coloring of the screen is just god-awful. You sighed, and checked the time. Still two hours left. You sighed.
Being near the back of the classroom in the dark gave you the freedom to flop on your desk dramatically and deflated without the professor paying you any mind, but out of consideration for your seatmate, you took the dramatics out and just dropped your head against your notebook. It wasn’t that you didn’t like history, it was just that classes were painful. Although, this class was making you reconsider your ranking of your art history class a few years back. At least the professor was nice.
In fact, Professor Elysium was probably the only thing about that class you liked. It wasn’t that her teaching style was bad, it was just there’s nothing to do in one of those required courses other than sit and take notes. She tried to make it as interesting as possible, and you gave her credit for how knowledgeable she was in how she would ramble and go on tangents about the single usage of a symbol in a Renaissance work, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to entertain the whole class’s attention span. You always felt a little bad when she approached you after class, asking what you had been working on, but she was always friendly, and had even given you her personal email to keep in touch at the end of the semester before summer break.
“I hope to see you in my class again, one day, MC.”
When the fall semester started again, MC had been excited to return to campus for once. They had found scrawled in the corner of their old notebook a museum Professor Elysium had mentioned offhandedly during one of her tangents. Apparently, she had seen the most beautiful modern-day piece there with craftsmanship so firmly Renaissance she hadn’t seen a modern artist try to replicate with such dedication before. MC had noticed the museum wasn’t far away from their hometown, and visited it, trying to find the piece she talked about (considering they had forgotten to write down the name of the work).
They found it easily, and frankly, it was a little disappointing. It was a mixture of sculpture and painting, looking almost like a garden had been built inside the museum in the nook of the floor. Two bronze statues were placed opposed on either side of a fake river, a small bridge between them that was not to scale between them. One figure was collapsed on the ground, looking up at the standing figure with an expression MC could only decipher as scorn, mainly because the sculpting was not done well. The painting behind them was sunken back into the wall, and was impossible to focus on with the foliage and statues interrupting the view in the foreground.
They didn’t understand what Professor Elysium had seen in this piece. Did she even understand what she had taught? Or was she simply spewing repetitive information from textbooks and papers with no actual comprehension? The piece was ugly, and what about it was Renaissance? The bronze statues? The possible angel allusion with white feathers strewn around the fake grass? The statues looked banged up and sloppily put together. MC wondered how the museum had even decided to keep the piece up for this long, since Professor Elysium had seen it a few years ago. Someone had to be paying to keep this here. Maybe the artist was rich or something.
The nameplate said Elysium. MC had scoffed. So she painted it, and that’s why she thought it was that mighty. Wait, a second glance showed that was the title. Then the artist…?
A man walked up, his hands behind his back. He was dressed in simple clothes. He smiled.
“Having trouble understanding it, are you?”
MC had returned to campus, bursting with excitement to see Professor Elysium again. They could have just sent an email, but they had a souvenir for them, and really wanted to surprise them and talk to them in person. They had sprinted to the art department’s office as soon as they were able, and asked if they could see Professor Elysium.
...Only to find out she was no longer there.
Someone poked you in the arm, and suddenly you were aware the lights were back on, and class was clearing out. Your seatmates were packing up their books, and although they had the decency to wake you before running out, you could see they were eyeing you strangely. Scrambling to pick up your things, you thanked them and apologized for being such a space-cadet. You tried to ignore your professor’s glare from over their computer as you walked out.
Maybe Lucifer was right to be concerned, there was a chance your spacing out could start to affect your work.
As you crossed over the bridge to leave campus and head to work, you thought of last night. When you left the dorms last, you expected Satan to be gone, having still been stuck in class. He had told you not to wait up for him, afterall, and picking up your belongings only took around a half hour. However, you were surprised to find him in the same spot you had last seen him. It was almost haunting, in the low glow of the streetlight as the sky and trees turned dark as night settled in, to see him unmoving, frozen in time. When you approached, he stood up and waved at you, and walked you back home. He claimed his class let out early, which was what he also reiterated to Lucifer. A doubt seeded itself in your mind though, but you figured voicing it would cause a fight to break out between the two, so you kept it quiet.
But, today no one would be escorting you to and from campus, and so you crossed the park with a skip in your step and the same through the city all the way to the Devildom Corporation. It was lunchtime, and so most of the office workers that were freed into the ocean from their sardine tin buildings to swim about. Besides the few people you bumped into as you swam against the current towards the tall skyscraper, no one stopped to question you or who you were. You were just a college student on the wrong side of town. Diavolo and Lucifer had nothing to worry about.
Then, you banged into the same man from the other day. The Lucifer look-alike.
You slammed straight into him and tumbled backwards to the concrete in front of a cafe. He must have been leaving his table to return to work because he was standing beside a chair that was pulled away from a table, yet to be pushed in. He stared down at you from behind his glasses, his expression showing no signs of surprise despite having just knocked you off your feet and almost into the road. As you rubbed the back of your head, which you were sure almost cracked open from how hard you hit the concrete, and fished your now tangled headphones back up towards your ears, a hand was thrust into your vision.
“Apologies, allow me to help you up,” you blinked at the hand before hesitatingly taking his offering. He tugged you up with ease, but his expression was unchanging, but now that you were right in front of him, you could see it wasn’t as scowling as you originally thought, just neutral. His eyes were a deeper red than Lucifer’s, more of a garnet than piercing red, and his hair looked to be more brown than black. He was still holding your hand even though you were on your feet now, and quizzically glancing you up and down before he started to say-
“I’m sorry, but would you perhaps be the new intern for-”
“Michael!” Another voice snapped, and you turned to see an older man with sunglasses sitting inside a black car with the window rolled down. His voice was grating and like a hiss, “We must go.”
“Yes, Father,” he said, quickly letting go of you, “Forgive me, I must go.”
As you watched him climb into the car, you were stuck analyzing the fact that you had heard this man, who previously intimidated you, apologize three times in under a minute. He may look like Lucifer, but you knew for a fact you would never hear Lucifer utter an apology before anyone, so he either was the original and Lucifer was the evil clone, or just unfortunately cursed to share a face with the most uptight person in the city. He rounded the car and got in on the other side of the old man, leaning forward to talk to the driver as the window rolled up. You started to walk away too, but a chill went down your spine when you saw another pair of red eyes appear from behind a pair of shades, and followed you just before the tinted glass closed.
The car zoomed away, passed the Devildom building. You hurried to work.
It was another day of working for Mammon, and likely would be that way for a month until you had learned the working of the department and they decided to change your job to confuse you or something. Actually, you were sure it was once you finally submitted a report and they deemed you had learned enough or wrangled Mammon enough for him to stand on his own that they would ship you elsewhere. When you arrived, the second oldest was chowing down on food in his office, complaining about where you had been the whole day. You merely sighed and reminded him politely that you had class that morning, but once the door clicked closed, you popped the question.
“So, Mammon, what have you done today?”
And so, two weeks passed like that. You practically managed the finance department by keeping Mammon on task, and though he was a pain to work with, you found yourself growing comfortable in his company. On the days you had a lunch break, he either sat with you in the company’s coffee shop or, near the end of the two weeks, he even started taking you out to dine. At home, little things brought the two of you together, just from the fact that he had seen the most of you out of the rest of the household, and felt comfortable making jabs at you or sharing with you his interests. He hadn’t invited you to hang out with him on a day off yet, which you didn’t mind because you were usually using those days to catch up on school work, but you had seen him lingering in front of your bedroom door from the corner of your eye when you were bent over a textbook.
It seems he was somewhat shy about things too. If he just asked, you would toss the textbook in a second. You would kill to join him on one of his casino scams he always bragged about during work.
Around the evening of the fifteenth day, you were sitting at one of the coffee shop’s tables while they closed up, reviewing your notes and beginning to type them up on your laptop into what you hoped made sense as a report. Diavolo hadn’t given you a due date for your first one, but you figured summarizing what you had worked on with Mammon and learned about the Devildom stocks would be a good start. You were waiting for Mammon to finish a meeting with some big shots in the conference room which was running late.
...Based on the finance department’s records, consistently the department using the most money is the fashion branches… a text chirped on your phone. You stopped typing.
Barbatos: Lord Diavolo is requesting you for a brief meeting. You are still in the building correct?
You glanced around. How did he know you were still here? Clutching your phone to your chest, you stuffed your laptop and notebook into your bag as you continued to observe your surroundings suspiciously. Another text came through.
If you’re wondering how I can see you, I have full access to the security cameras. Look to the corner awning of the shop.
Your eyes shot to the green fake roofing that housed the coffee shop’s sign. On it’s left where the green abruptly changed to the white of the walls, you saw a small camera pointed near you. You waved as you stood up.
Haha, the text read, and although you had not seen Barbatos laugh, you could practically hear his soft, slight chuckle, I will tell Lord Diavolo to expect you then.
You sent an emoji back, and then as you stepped into the elevator, a quick text to Mammon where you would be.
“Ah, MC! Glad to see we caught you before you could leave! Apologies for requesting you so late,” Diavolo welcomed you jovially as always from behind his desk. Lucifer and Barbatos were both standing at either side of him in front of the large windows, like ravens on their master’s shoulder. You quickly shuffled in further to the room, the door was so far away from his desk!
“It was no problem. I was staying late waiting for Mammon in a meeting.”
“How are you getting along with Mammon? Lucifer tells me the two of you seem quite close.”
You sighed, “No matter how hard I try, he always reverts to his bad habits and laziness when I leave him alone for too long. He has been teaching me a lot though, just from helping him. Oh, I am currently working on a report, I just wasn’t sure when or where you wanted me to submit it…?”
Diavolo's smile bloomed bigger from behind his folded hands, “Excellent timing. I called you here to discuss just that. Tomorrow, I would like you to meet with the Celestial Corporation’s intern, Solomon King. It will occur in this building, around one o’clock. This will be just an introductory meeting, so don’t worry about your report not being finished yet. I’m sure you two will just be getting to know each other and will soon have a better understanding of what your job requirements are after speaking with Solomon.”
“Oh, okay. Should I… dress any different for tomorrow?”
“Not at all. Again, this is just an introduction meeting. We’re hosting it here to prevent any media trying to ambush you as you walk there. Solomon has already posted on his Devilgram that he is coming here tomorrow, you see, so I expect the entrance to be flooded with reporters before he even arrives.”
Lucifer seemed anxious. He gestured towards you, “Milord, we should also tell them about their guards.”
“Yes. Well, even though you will be safe inside the building, two escorts will be joining you in the meeting, likewise for Solomon. It’s just a precaution in case someone does manage to sneak into the building, but will also help guide the conversation if the two of you get lost. It will be good for you to also get acquainted with the Celestial employees too.”
You nodded along, still finding this a bit unnecessary, but agreeing anyway because he was your boss and frankly you were tired and just wanted to go home, “Who will be escorting me?”
“Well, I was thinking about that, and since you get along so well with Mammon already, why not him? As for the second one, Beelzebub has already agreed, and it will be a good way for you to talk to him more since you will be working alongside his department next.”
What department was Beelzebub again? You thought quickly, Wasn’t it something with sports? You felt even more out of touch with that then finance. You hoped you could survive.
“Alright, that sounds good,” you replied when you realized they were waiting on you to say something. Diavolo then stood up and clapped his hands together before putting them at his sides.
“Wonderful. Now that we’ve settled that, let us all go home for the day, hm? Come, Barbatos.”
Diavolo and Barbatos strolled past you easily, heading straight for the door. You looked to Lucifer awkwardly, who was just staring at you. With the night sky settling in behind him, his red eyes glowed in the dimly lit office, and you thought of the look-alike again. Once Diavolo and Barbatos were out the door, you started to shuffle out too, hoping you had left enough time that you weren’t exactly in the elevator with them. Maybe Lucifer just had to lock up for Diavolo? You waited for the next elevator to come up, and then stepped in.
Just as the doors began to close, a gloved hand stopped them abruptly, and you jumped a foot in the air. Lucifer pulled back the door and stepped inside.
“Excuse me. I will be heading out now too.”
He stood next to you, facing the doors and completely silent. As the doors closed, you prepared yourself for an infinitely long descent as you tried not to look to your left at all.
Lucifer stepped out of the elevator first when you hit the ground floor, his long legs cutting in front before you could move towards the door, which left you stuttering and stalling like a confused robot until the doors almost closed and trapped you inside again. You stumbled out and looked around for Mammon, finding the downstairs barren as your phone buzzed.
Speak of the devil.
Mammon: Yo, you took so long so I went home already. Quit being so slow and get home already so we can watch that new movie!!!
You tucked your phone away with a sigh, and trudged towards the doors. Lucifer had stopped to check his just beside one of the potted plants by some couches. He looked at you as you passed,
“Are you not waiting for Mammon?” He questioned.
“He went home without me. Jerk makes me wait two hours for him, he can’t wait five minutes for me. Sheesh.”
Lucifer slipped his phone into his coat pocket and straightened, “I suppose it cannot be helped… You do not have class tonight?”
“No. I’m just going straight home, why?”
“I will accompany you,” he stepped up to stand behind you and pushed on the glass door, holding it open for you to walk through. He really towered over you like this, “I am on cooking duty tonight though. Would you mind coming with me to the store to buy a few things?”
You really felt like saying no, but you had been spared most of the cooking since you were settling in, so you decided to say yes just to get on his good side and not have him thinking you were content mooching off their household. You were willing to cook, you just hadn’t learned everyone’s preferences yet and didn’t want to make something that could go uneaten.
“Sure, where do you need to go?”
The two of you walked around the small stores in the center of the city, just over Purgatory Bridge. You held four plastic bags in either hand as Lucifer carried a larger bag in his arms full of various ingredients. If you had come with him on the first night you moved in and saw how much he bought, you would’ve assumed he was making some feast, but now you had learned to always make extra on account of not just eight people, but Beelzebub’s stomach eating as much as sixteen.
It was a Thursday night, so the cobblestone square wasn’t as populated as it could have been on a Friday, but it was still busy. You stuck close to Lucifer’s side to make sure you didn’t get knocked over by another look-alike again. There had been little conversation between you two besides naming the items on the shopping list in the store, and you weren’t sure if the silence was awkward for him but it sure as hell was for you, so you tried to break the ice.
“You know, I thought you said I shouldn’t be expected to have someone walk to and from work,” you teased, and Lucifer let out a scoff.
“You shouldn’t. If you still don’t know this route after two weeks, I would believe you to be lacking brain cells.”
“I do know the route, for your information. I just found it funny how you decided to walk with me after Mammon ditched.”
“It was you who joined me. I did not need you here.”
“Say what you want, but on mornings without class I know you wait for me before you leave with everyone. And tonight you were totally waiting to see why I wasn’t walking with Mammon. What’s up with that?”
Lucifer sighed, “If you haven’t put it together yet, it’s because of Lord Diavolo’s orders.”
You blinked confused.
“I’m meant to be your guard at home. You may not deem it necessary to be guarded at all times, but it’s my instinct, and my brothers’ instincts to look after you since that was one of the tasks we were given. It’s less of a matter of worrying about you getting lost, and more of convenience. If we are leaving at the same time, why would I let you walk ten minutes without one of us, when in those ten minutes, if anything happened, I could prevent it?”
“Wait, are your brothers also bodyguards?” You asked. Lucifer nodded.
“We all were trained in defense, although they actually have more experience than me.”
“Why don’t they work to protect Diavolo then?”
Lucifer’s eyes narrowed with a scowl after he said that, a thought he didn’t voice making him suddenly speed up his walk. You took that as his desire to change the topic. Once you caught up, you treaded carefully with your next words.
“You know, I got knocked over by a guy that looks just like you a while back.”
“Oh, really?” Lucifer seemed nonplussed.
“Yeah. Twice actually, on my second and third day. The first time he just kept walking, so I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but the second time I got a better look at him. Looks just like you.”
“Well, what about him was so similar? His poise, the hair? There are a lot of serious, uptight businessmen with dark hair in this city,” He quipped, looking at you with suspicion. You flinched wondering if he had overheard one of you and Mammon’s vent sessions during your lunch breaks, or if he was just very good at reading people or just very aware of what impression he gave off. Knowing Lucifer, it was likely all three.
“W-well!” You stuttered, trying to formulate words now that he was giving you such a fake smile, almost begging you to insult him to his face, “Just the face and everything. His eyes are red like yours, and I first thought his hair was black but it’s actually a very dark brown. It’s long and he keeps it tied up so it went to about his middle back. I think I heard his name was Mich-”
You stopped talking when you saw the expression on Lucifer’s face. He looked ghastly, eyes wide as he stopped walking in the middle of the sidewalk, staring ahead with that same dead gaze you had seen in Diavolo’s office on your first day. He looked almost like someone had stabbed him in the chest. You switched the shopping bags to one hand and reached out to tap his shoulder, trying to shake him out of whatever trance he had fallen into.
He snapped back to reality, and immediately looked ahead, his usual, serious scowl returning to his face once he came back.
“Forgive me for that. Oh, it appears we are home,” he glided past you. You looked up. The apartment complex was still about a block away, but you said nothing. You recoiled your hand and let it fall to your side slowly before you too started to move, following after him meekly and cursing yourself for somehow screwing up one of the few conversations you had with him.
Dinner that night was a quiet ordeal.
At one-fifteen the next day, you were waiting inside a conference room on one of the middle floors of the building, Mammon and Beelzebub sitting in chairs on either side of you. Mammon was leaning back with his feet up on the table, about to break or fall out of the chair, and Beelzebub was eating two entire meals from a fast-food place down the street. You were waiting for Solomon King.
The doors burst open, and suddenly you saw a man with dark skin and short, dark brown hair panting. An apology was the first thing out of his mouth, “I’m so sorry we’re late!” he announced.
“Simeon, no need to be formal,” another voice coyly said, and suddenly the man from the haunting picture strutted into the room. With snow white hair atop his black ensemble of clothing, he still looked like a ghost parading through, his smile mischievous as he approached you hurriedly, “You must be the mysterious intern? Wonderful to finally meet you.”
He offered his hand, you stood up and shook and it nervously. Then, a whiny voice rang in the room over by the man you assumed was Simeon.
“We were late because Solomon decided to leak when the meeting was happening. We had to fight through tons of crowds just to leave the Celestial Corporation, and then fought through more here! Geez.”
There was a child dressed in a white sailor-like uniform. He had blonde hair and a beret, and he was very, very out of place amidst what you thought was an office meeting.
“Uh… Who are you?” You asked in your most polite tone possible. The boy still looked offended though, and began squawking at you even louder.
“Hey! Didn’t you hear that we would be coming?”
“Now, Luke, they might just not be familiar with the Celestial’s business. They are the Devildom intern, after all,” Simeon said, shutting the door before walking over to the four of you. Mammon and Beelzebub were standing at this point, Mammon looking more serious than you had seen him before, while Beelzebub was still eating, but at attention.
“I am Solomon,” Solomon said as he stepped out of the way to allow the others to shake your hand, “This is Simeon and Luke.”
Simeon shook your hand and warmth erupted from it, making you tingle inside, “A pleasure to meet you,” when Luke moved to shake your hand, he continued, “The Celestial Corporation sponsors orphans with education and vocational studies. Luke normally has school, but it is a holiday, and he was interested in meeting you.”
“You two interns are the only thing anyone in the building talks about now! Especially you,” he pointed accusatory up at you, “since Diavolo demanded your identity remain a secret.”
“Yeah, because that’s how they wanted it,” Mammon was suddenly behind you, cracking his knuckles, “If you so much as bark their name to anyone outside of this room, you’ll be dealing with us.”
Beelzebub had now risen to his full height, and joined Mammon in acting as bouncers for you. Luke cowered under their gaze and darted behind Simeon, who patted his head with a reassuring smile.
“Now, now, everyone, Luke knows to be quiet. He is merely here to observe like me. Besides, we haven’t even been introduced to them yet.”
Suddenly, the eyes of the three Celestial employees were on you again, and you realized in your gawking at Luke, you had forgotten to even give your name.
“You can call me MC. We should get started though, shouldn’t we?”
“Yes,” Solomon said, rushing over to one of the chairs, “We are already late, so might as well get to work right away.”
You turned to face Mammon and Beel, staring them down until they sat back down. Beel, sensing the threat had passed, almost immediately dove back into his meal, while with Mammon you had to glare him down extra hard before he flopped back down. Solomon sat down next to him, while Simeon and Luke took the side of the table by Beelzebub.
You awkwardly launched into a conversation, guided by Simeon, into what you had been doing the past week. After hearing Solomon’s detailing of events and seeing his studious notes outlining all the levels of the Celestial Corporation and each department’s most successful products and the charity works, you felt embarrassed by your messy notes that only touched upon the financial department’s work and could only recount having to reign in Mammon the whole week. While it got a laugh out of Solomon, you still felt inadequate and promised to take better notes for the future, but Simeon stepped in to reassure you.
“You said you noticed the fashion brands were the most profitable business within the corporation? That’s a good way to start. It’s expected that you only would have notes focusing on statistics and profit.”
“I was placed in the public relations department to start,” Solomon explained, “That’s why I’ve been so vocal online, since they already knew I had a big media presence, they thought it would be easy for me to adjust to learning how to do it for a brand. It seems there was a big miscommunication between the two Corporations about how vocal they wanted us to be with this internship though, and I would like to apologize again for making things difficult.”
“Most consumers don’t care about the little details,” Luke spoke up, “So Solomon’s notes are more focused on public reactions to products based on surveys and likes on Devilgram. It’s more digestible content and an overview of the company with a little more depth than an outsider would have. What you’ve been doing is far more intensive.”
You blinked at the boy confused, and then looked to Simeon to ask, “Isn’t it considered child labor to force someone so young to work for a company?”
He laughed and leaned back in his chair for a moment. You couldn’t help but admire the white fabric that hung around his shoulders, an elegant type of kimono that resembled draped robes almost. Solomon breathed out a chuckle and rested his head on his hand as he watched you with a mirthful smile.
“The Celestial Corporation doesn’t make the children they sponsor work, per say. They receive training that can lead them towards a career in the company, but they still receive schooling and can pursue any interest or career of their choice. All they are required to do is perform well in their studies, and they are guaranteed an internship when they get older, if they so choose. Most children who receive such a privilege just choose to join the company due to the convenience of a secure job out of high school, but there are many that transfer elsewhere, or even leave years later,” Simeon said.
“So, it’s like a scholarship?”
“Yes. One of the charities Solomon mentioned was the Purgatory Hall charity, that is the name of the orphanage that we select children from.”
You recalled seeing a large building behind a fence near Purgatory Bridge that was always overflowing with children on sunny days. You were surprised you had yet to notice it was an orphanage after all this time.
You felt like this was too much of a personal question, but based on how much knowledge Simeon had, you were suspicious, “I hope you don’t mind me asking but… were you someone who received the scholarship, Simeon?”
He just smiled at you and waved his hand, as if waving away any anxiety you had, “Don’t worry about it. And yes, I was. I know firsthand how wonderful the program is, and so that is why I get along so well with Luke.”
“Simeon works in the Celestial fashion department, like Asmodeus. He is also one of the few employees who is consulted on the Purgatory Hall charity and is in charge of selecting the children who receive the opportunity,” Solomon then leaned in and put a hand in front of his face to whisper to you, “Don’t feel bad about not knowing all of this. They actually didn’t trust me today and prepared a script beforehand.”
“Wait,” Mammon said, suddenly swinging his legs off the table and sitting up, “How do you know Asmo?”
You thought you saw color drain from Solomon’s face momentarily before he slipped back into that sinister, swindling smile, “Oh, he’s a big Devilgram influencer, so I’ve been keeping tabs on him for a while. I had to unfollow him once I started as an intern though. The Celestial higher ups don’t want any suspicious ties hurting their image.”
Mammon frowned at that, “Yo, what’s that supposed to mean? You saying shit about Asmo and us?”
Simeon sensed the hostility and interjected as Mammon started to get up, “Solomon is correct though! I oversee the fashion department, and while right now relationships between our corporations are strained, hopefully in the future, with the work of you two, we might be able to collaborate more! I have always loved the prints Asmodeus designed and how he utilizes such intricate lacing in his designs. I’ve always wanted to create a collection together with him.”
Mammon leered at Simeon, and so you reached your leg across and kicked him under the table. He jumped and glared at you, so you just glared back and jerked your head to one of the couches at the back wall. Grumbling, he shoved his hands in his pockets and moved to it, flopping down with a huff.
“So when did you decide to move into design at the company? Did you figure it out pretty early on?”
“Yes, actually. I’ve always had a penchant for art, but I was offered a modeling internship first, which was where I discovered my talent with fabric. Some internships start earlier than others, so since I switched over to studying fashion quickly, the company took note of me and paid for me to attend college too.”
“So, not all the children who get sponsored go to college?”
“Well, the corporation typically will pay for a portion of the tuition, and through the years of internship work, those sponsored make a significant amount of money. Those who perform exceptionally well are rewarded though, and if you get recognized by one of the Celestial’s owners, then you are essentially set for life.”
Beelzebub got up to leave the room, you assumed because he had finished his food and wanted to find more, Mammon followed after him.
“Luke here,” Simeon gestured, “Has already been noticed by Michael for his baking and culinary skills.”
Luke grinned and threw his hands up excitedly, “Michael always stops by when I’m cooking, he’s already promised me my own cafe when I grow up.”
“Well, that’s only if they have the money to support expanding into another coffee shop chain,” Solomon quipped.
“He said it’s going to happen! He comes to visit me to eat what I’m baking more often than goes to eat dinner with Mr. Elysium!”
“I’m sorry,” you said, stuttering as your mind kept reeling, “I’m still… Well, I guess I was practically oblivious to the Devildom and Celestial Corporations before I applied for this position, but, who is this Michael?”
Is it just a common name? Or could he be related to-?
“He’s the current heir to the Celestial Corporation,” Solomon supplied, “Michael Elysium. He’s the equivalent of Diavolo over there.”
“Yes, but they’re like rivals rather than friends,” Simeon added.
“I see,” you mumbled, as your mind drifted back to the man you banged into before. You had heard the man in the car call him Michael too. He was dressed rather professionally, but honestly, what were the chances of you walking into one of the biggest celebrities of the city just on the street?
Well, you supposed your chances had gone exponentially up since getting this job, but still! It seemed a little too coincidental.
“Is Michael… nice?” You decided to ask, seeing them looking at you quizzically.
“Oh yes,” Simeon nodded, “He’s a bit stiff but very polite.”
“What are you talking about?” Luke whined, “He’s not stiff at all! Whenever he comes to see me, he’s always asking me detailed questions about how I baked something and takes notes and then asks me about my day. Sure he’s the boss of all of you, but he’s not mean at all.”
“Well, he’s not mean to you because you’re a child, Luke,” Solomon quipped, “He’s probably worried if he ever snapped, you would cry.”
“Hey! I’m not that young! I’m not a baby.”
“Oh? Are you sure about that? Last night, didn’t I find you bawling in the lobby because Simeon had gone home without you?”
“That wasn’t- I was just-!”
You laughed at his floundering, but quickly stopped when you saw all eyes turn to you. You couldn’t read Solomon’s expression exactly, but Simeon seemed to be smiling at your amusement, and although Luke was pouting about being mocked, he didn’t look too upset, which you were thankful for. After all the awkward formalities and all the brooding meetings of Diavolo and Lucifer outlining concerns about how the Celestial Corporation and new intern were already causing chaos and miscommunicating with the Devildom Corporation, you were happy to see that the people you would be working with were just that. People.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” you waved your hand as you toned down your laughter, “I didn’t mean to be rude. I just didn’t expect the three of you to be so nice. Will I only be seeing you again Solomon, or will Simeon and Luke be tagging along at our next meeting as well?”
“I came along today as a mediator to help ensure the meeting ran smoothly. You are very intelligent and I can see that Diavolo made a good choice in selecting you for the position, so I’m sure you and Solomon will need less and less guidance as time goes on. But, if you would like me to join you again, it would be my pleasure.”
You could only flush at the number of compliments Simeon had just flung your way, but your face heated up even more when Solomon brushed your head to draw your attention back to him, and then you realized he was sitting very, very close.
“Well, I think it’s really up to me if Simeon comes along or not, but if you so wish to see more of him than I, I suppose I could bring him too. As for Luke though,” he smirked, “You ate up all our meeting time talking about baking. I’m not sure whether we should bring you again or not.”
“Hey! I only brought it up because MC asked and-”
“Hm? Did they, though?”
“Don’t tease him now, Solomon. I was the one who brought it up,” Simeon said, “But, Luke normally has school during the day, so if you met at this time, it would be unlikely he could come with us again. Unless your next meeting was later in the day, maybe?”
You looked to Solomon, “Should we schedule another meeting on our own? I know Diavolo and, I guess, Michael did that for us this time, so is it okay for us to do so without consulting them?”
“They’ll probably be switching up our tasks this week, so we might want to wait on it. Oh, how about we exchange phone numbers so we can plan around whatever they throw at us?” Solomon took out his phone.
“A good idea, “ Simeon said, “Would you like my number as well? In case you have any questions?”
“Sure,” you kept glancing over at Solomon’s screen and typing the info into your own phone he was showing you.
“Hey, do you want my phone number too?” Luke asked, “If you come to the Celestial Corporation’s building for a meeting, let me know in advance and I’ll bring something I baked to the meeting!”
“That’s only if we allow you in,” Solomon said, and Luke pouted again. You waved him away dismissively and smiled at Luke, handing him your phone as you opened up a new contact page.
“Of course, Luke. I would love to try your baking sometime. When you’re done, pass it to Simeon,” You chose not to comment on how a child had a cell phone, chocking it up to just another aspect of the mysterious scholarship, “Oh, did you want Mammon and Beelzebub’s numbers too? I’m not sure if they’ll be joining me at the next meeting or if it will be someone different but-”
“Oh no, don’t worry about them,” Simeon said as he took the phone and tapped in his number before sliding it back to you, “I’ve had their phone numbers for a while now.”
Something about the way he said that made you frown, but it was at that moment that Mammon and Beelzebub returned to the room, giving you no time to ask him to elaborate as Mammon barked that the meeting was over and that the Celestial jerks and the runt needed to scram. As you lectured him about manners in the business world, you caught Simeon’s mysterious smile full of mirth as he and the others fled out the door, Luke giving you a shout and a wave and Solomon disappearing around the corner of the door frame like he blinked out of existence. Simeon was the last to leave, his beautiful white robes flowing behind him as he scurried along with Luke. You were left behind in the conference room, Mammon pulling at the hem of your jacket as your attention lingered on where you had seen Simeon’s eyes looking back at you as he made his grand escape.
You snapped out of your daze to give Mammon a light smack on the back of the head when you caught him trying to snatch your wallet from your bag on the chair. Beelzebub said something about going to speak with Diavolo, but your mind quickly closed out everything again and drew you back to staring at the door.
You were puzzled, to say the least.