“Oh, you can just call me MC.”
The cobblestone of the bridge seemed to roll along endlessly as they walked, their shoes padding against the old structure with lanquidity and evenness as the portfolio under their arm remained secure. Compared to earlier today, when they had hurried across it in the opposite direction, the soft clicking of a loose pebble being kicked ahead was a welcome chime in the orchestration of the city at night. They watched the tiny rock dribble ahead of them, eyes trained on the ground as they smiled at the game they played with themselves. It would bounce across the round white stones, frozen in time by the mortar between them, and then duck and roll until finally coming to a rest, but their shoes would always reach the pebble again. Sometimes, if it was kicked too far to the left or the right, or it rolled under their foot instead of moving forward, they would trip up, swerve their path or stop to fumble the stone out from under their shoe.
In the bustle of the daytime, they surely would have been a hindrance. The morning traffic would have stolen the pebble in a matter of seconds, another’s kick would have sent it into the mass of crowded footfalls that made it knock around the bridge like a pinball. At night though, the bridge was sparse, and so they were free to stop and flounder as they tried to get the pebble loose from under their shoe and rolling again along the bridge. Although, some couples by the bridge’s edge did cast a few looks.
It was darker than the stones of the bridge. A bird must have carried it from somewhere.
“MC. Lovely. We may be a particularly powerful company in the eyes of the people, but I can assure you we are not that strict. Nicknames are a wonderful thing. You may call me Diavolo.”
“Milord, with all due respect…” The dark haired man standing beside the desk spoke up for the first time since he had ushered you into the office. The man sitting at the desk, however, held up his hand and he was silent again.
“Come now, Lucifer. There’s already been enough between us with all the formal interviews and such. I see no reason to keep up the formalities outside of any meetings or when my father is present. Besides, look at their face! I doubt they would actually be able to.”
It was true. Their face had flushed bright red when the jolly, yet large man had stood and extended his hand their way.
“Milord, it is not right to tease the new hires. We have been over this.”
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to be rude, uh, Diavolo, sir. It is nice to finally meet you outside of all the formal workarounds, like you said,” MC scrambled to shake Diavolo’s hand, simultaneously bowing as they tried to hide their panic. They could practically feel the bodyguard’s eyes digging into them, no words needed to say, For Christ’s sake, a handshake or a bow. Just pick one.
Diavolo was a good sport about their nerves though, and merely let out another rumbling laugh. He was young, not older than in his mid-twenties, but he was a warm and welcoming presence. The way he held himself was almost like that of a friendly, inviting grandfather, and when he brought his other hand up to squeeze MC’s fondly, for a moment, it filled them with enough confidence for them to think that they would do alright here, even with all their stumbling and stuttering.
“Well, MC, welcome to the Devildom company. I know we still might have some things to work out between your college classes and your time here, but you can discuss that with HR downstairs. I believe we did discuss where you would be staying already though? In a previous meeting?” He trailed off.
It took MC a moment to realize he wasn’t referring to a cubicle, “Oh! Yes! It’s no problem. I don’t have much to move anyway. It shouldn’t interfere with my work today at all.”
“Wonderful! To outsiders, it may seem strange, but we like to keep our top employees secure. Taking care of interns like you in our new program isn’t much of a stretch. You may be just starting, but I have high hopes for you.”
“Oh, Diavolo, sir, speaking of… May I ask a question?”
“Of course! Go right ahead.”
They shifted the strap of their portfolio, jostling it under their arm, “Um, why did you decide to pick me?”
A small kick sent the pebble a bit too far, crossing the summit of the bridge’s curve and tumbling down rapidly. They jogged after it for a second, intent not to lose it, but slowed when they saw it stop in the crack of one of the stones. Stepping off the threshold of the bridge and onto the older, weaker pavement of the streets, they crouched down to pick the rock up, intent not to lose the little friend they had made along their walk. It was silly and childish, but as they pinched it free from the walls of the stone chasm that imprisoned it, they grinned and whispered out a “Gotcha.”
While the west side of the bridge had cleared out as workers headed home and filtered underground into train stations or office men packed themselves inside bus stops, and the city settled into a quiet hum as it emptied, the noises of the east side began to fade in. Just a ways ahead, past the scenic viewpoints that overlooked the river that cut through the two sides, colorful shoes of all sizes and shapes moved in clumps across the roads, although each still added their own distinct click or shuffle to the building harmony. The sea of legs led to fashionably dressed men and women, with painted faces and precisely curled or gelled hair. One man leaned against the glowing side of a bar front and took a drag of a cigarette. A few stores down on the opposite side, a catty girl with a gaudy pink phone in one hand and flyers in another hissed into the phone speaker but then cheerfully greeted customers with a shrill tone. The awnings of the various shops and cafés separated the small quaint shops, and belied their true industrial structure that stretched higher up. The further back one looked, the more yellow, lit up windows on the sides multiplied and then became rows that seemed to appear like letters as the keys on a typewriter were hit. The squares climbed across the dark gray, steely surface of the skyscrapers until they shot off into the sky, spilling out against the black and blue night as tiny stars, barely visible with the light pollution that flashed from deeper in the weaves of the city.
Slowly, they started to straighten up, the rock still just pinched between their two fingers, but a sudden thud against their side sent them spiraling and the rock flying away into the shadows.
The collision shattered the illusion of the night and suddenly you were on the ground, collapsed in a heap.
“Woah! Sorry about that!” Your eyes shot towards the bridge. A man with tanned skin and whitish hair yelled as he dashed across the bridge, shooting the person he had just slammed into, you, a salute before turning away.
“Mammon, get back here before I wring your neck!” A gruff voice boomed as a blonde man shoved through the crowd of indignant and confused night folk until he burst into the scene. Once free, he picked up speed and began to wind up his arm, readying a strike as he charged across the bridge.
“Oh dear. Did those two cause a ruckus at the casino again?” You had started to stand up and brush yourself off, but another voice sent you spinning to your left. A man with a dark messy fringe suddenly cut in front of you as they trudged past, cutting in front of you.
“What a pain… Come on, Asmo-” his soft, low voice was punctuated by the slow drawl of a yawn, “If we don’t do something to stop them we won’t hear the end of it,” he waved over his shoulder, and his hand revealed the previous voice.
“Alright, I figured our night off would end the way it always does,” all the way to the right, beside the bridge, a man with peach colored hair leaned over the metal railing, and pushed the brim of his hat up with his finger. With a whine in his voice and a sigh, he pushed himself up and spun on his heel, following after the rest of the eccentric cast, “Still, I had a little hope that we could do something normal for once! You better not get blood on my jacket like last time!”
He just stepped onto the bridge when his eye suddenly glanced towards you, and then he stopped, facing them with one leg up on the steps that led onto the bridge.
“Oh? Did my brothers bang into you? I’m so sorry for their behavior. You weren’t hurt were you?”
You shook your head, “No, I’m fine. I was just surprised.”
He clapped his hands together and flashed an overdramatic smile, “Oh wonderful! I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you are! If my brothers had scratched you at all, I would be sure to punish them severely for letting someone like you get damaged.”
“Asmo! Satan is going to shred Mammon apart if you don’t hurry up,” the yawning man called from the west side, standing just over the bridge, in the shadows of the side of the city that was shutting down, “And I’m certainly not going to!”
“I’m coming! Well, my dear, have a lovely night. Let me guess, you’re an office worker?” His eyes held a mischievous glint, “I hope you get home safely and don’t get ambushed by any more brutes like my brothers! Adieu.”
The man winked and then strolled away, his long legs striding across the bridge with grace and speed. Watching him leave, you were left dazed, a bit panicked as you were felt the sounds of the city hitting your ears with such sharpness and clearness that the previous buzzing harmony that had sent a warmth through you was now pounding against your skull, your blood rushing to your head all to fast as the crescendo of the rising cacophony built higher and higher-
But then your phone buzzed, and all of the sudden you were grounded again. You stopped and glanced around. You were still by the water, next to the stone parapets that lined the bridge, and a few feet away from the black, modern guard rail that protected the edges of the city from the river’s edge. You fished your phone out of your pocket, and the blue light of the screen contrasted with the golden hues of the streetlights and shops. It was Diavolo’s guard, one of your new bosses starting today. A text.
Have you made it to the apartment yet?
“I’m sorry, I have a meeting late. I won’t be able to walk you home,” the sun had been setting then, basking the empty, but immaculately clean, office of Lucifer in orange and yellow. The man in question was like a sun spot, a stain of black against the fire behind him. When he was around Diavolo, his demeanor was understandably strict, but he was more terrifying alone, when his irritation and stiffness had no reason other than for the sake of being uptight. His hands folded in front of his face, he sighed and reached for another stack of paperwork.
“That’s alright. I can manage just fine finding the place.”
“That you should. You may be an intern, but Lord Diavolo has high expectations for you. If you needed a hand to help you cross the street everyday, then you would not survive a minute here.”
He had flashed you a smirk, and your annoyance had grown. As much as you knew you should hold your tongue- it was only day one!- you bit back.
“I’m not a child. I’m in college.”
“Yes. And what a pesky age that is to be. One of my younger brothers is in college. He suddenly thinks that he can do anything he wants with no consequences. He has been causing quite a bit of trouble around the company, creating extra work for Diavolo and I.”
“He works here too? Is he an intern like me?”
“Not quite, although I wish he was nothing more than a coffee-fetcher for me sometimes. Now, as much as I would enjoy talking more, I have a meeting to attend. I will see you later.”
While that was the biggest lie you had ever heard, you were thankful for the opportunity to finally escape. You nodded your head in a polite, small bow and followed as you were ushered to the door. You watched him lock the heavy doors before he turned and went down the hall, disappearing around the corner towards the elevator. You turned and went the other direction, towards the elevator that would lead downstairs.
No. I’m almost there though.
You texted back quickly, stopping after to glance up at the sky, a thought flitting by as you recalled the “brothers” that had just run by. They all looked like models… I wonder what Lucifer’s younger brother looks like. Hopefully he’s not as brooding and antisocial as him.
Your phone buzzed again, and you looked down to see a new text. Are you sure you haven’t gotten lost?
You scowled. You could practically hear the condescending tone in his voice. You had experienced it enough throughout the work day with him guiding you around the building, showing you mundane things like desks and computers and asking you if you knew how to use them. Although Diavolo always told you not to mind Lucifer’s dry humor, you couldn’t help but let your blood boil a little at the man’s belief in his innocence. Still, you kept up the polite act, not wanting to lose your new job on the first day. Sure, you still didn’t know why you were hired, but you were thankful to have a job nonetheless.
“Why did we pick you? Why, I thought all the interviews you went through would’ve made you feel qualified! Do you have cold feet?”
“No, sir. I was just curious because, well, I mean, I was approached on campus by one of your scouts and-”
“No need to worry about that! I mean, you should have more confidence in yourself! Everything in that portfolio under your arm shows your skill and your prowess. There’s no doubt that you belong here, and our new internship program is the perfect way to acclimate you to how we operate. Now, follow me. Lucifer and I shall give you a tour.”
You had your doubts still, but Lucifer’s face shut down any more questions you had. Although the selection process had been grueling and many of the questions seemed to pinpoint your insecurities and you slipped up a few times in answering, there was something always off about how you were escorted out. The interviewer would always give you a smile, and the same lip service you heard all the other candidates get as they left of “You’ll get a call if you’re selected for the next stage,” but there was something about their eyes as you left. Their smiles that never stopped as you walked down the hall, their eyes never looking away until you were gone, even as they silently brought the next person in. Something about it made you think you had already been hired.
In fact, since you had been approached by that scout while you were sitting in the courtyard on your campus, you had sort of got a strange feeling that you were already being actively pursued. You didn’t mention it at the time when the woman had come up to you with the business card to tell you about the Devildom Company and all their exciting job offers and a new internship program you absolutely had to look into but you had noticed people following you for a while. Sure, it had been a little unnerving, and you had been debating contacting your campus police about it, but up until then it had only been speculation, you had never actually seen the person, only felt their presence.
Well, you thought as you texted another message to Lucifer before putting your phone away, at least I get a fancy apartment out of all of this. Beats living in the dorms.
I’m not lost. I said I was almost there. No need to worry.
As you skipped along and moved into the crowd, you ignored the next buzz, swinging your arms as you looked to the sky, staring towards the big skyscraper in the distance, where your new home would be.
I’m not worried. Oh, but I should tell you…
The stone paths of the streets of the old side of the city slowly faded to concrete sidewalks and roads as the buildings got taller and taller. Weaving in and out of the lanes of people walking and the cars honking, tar and cement replaced the mortar and the ground became smooth underneath. The further in you went, the more fluorescent everything became, the golden light suddenly became more of a crisp white, signs on restaurants and clubs became a flurry of neon pinks and blues that strobed as a big television in the middle of the square shouted advertisements and news reports all night.
“This afternoon, the Celestial Corporation released the name of the final candidate for their new internship program. The Devilgram influencer, Solomon King, will be taking up the responsibilities of a mediator to help the corporation collaborate with the Devildom Corporation on account of their partnership. Although a month ago, the announcement of this partnership was taken as a surprise from much of the public, the two rival corporations released a collaborative statement that this program would be one of the first steps taken to fostering a successful business relationship between them.”
“Much of the rivalry between my father’s company and the Celestial Corporation is due to old feuds and failures of communication. We are hopeful that by each of us hand selecting an outsider to learn the ways of our companies, we will be able to work together positively on many projects in the future, for the betterment of our businesses, and our customers.”
“That was an excerpt of a statement given by the heir to the Devildom Corporation, Diavolo Mephisto, at their press conference today. When asked to release the name of their new intern, Diavolo stated that, ‘Unlike the Celestial’s hire, Solomon, who has a well-known media presence, we would like to value our hire’s privacy and not disclose their name unless stated otherwise.’ Diavolo also refused to comment on photographs obtained by tabloids showing his new bodyguard and the speculation on the resemblance to the deceased former heir of the Celestial Corporation....”
As you walked, the sound of the newscast became muffled and eventually faded out of your hearing entirely. The apartment complex you were going to be staying wasn’t too far away now, but it was nice to just walk and imagine yourself strolling across the city with no destination in mind. Although you had been living here for two and a half years already for school, which gave you plenty of time to explore, and made the place actually quite boring once you learned all of it, you still wished that you would get lost for a moment, and a stranger would help you find a new route. Or maybe a magical doorway was waiting for you down an alley somewhere, to whisk you away to another world. Still, you supposed it was enough of an adventure that you were going to be starting such an ostentatious job tomorrow. You would have to pick up the rest of your clothes from your dorm tomorrow night and then classes would be the next morning…
If someone had been flying overhead, MC would have been nothing more than another speck in the flow of people along the sidewalk. Like an insect scurrying back to the colony, they dodged obstacles of trash cans and drunken strangers. They walked with purpose through the noisy soundscape, but had anybody been paying attention to them on the ground, surely they would have noticed the empty, unfocused look in their eyes-
“Excuse me? Excuse me?” Two fingers snapping in your face snapped you back into reality, and that was when you realized your feet had finished carrying yourself to the building you would be staying in. Two guards outside the door were blocking your way, one of them leaning over to wave a hand in front of you to try and get you to pay attention. You must have tried to blaze through without noticing.
“Oh, I’m sorry! What did you say?”
“Your Devildom ID card, please. We cannot let you inside unaccompanied without it.”
You reached underneath your blazer and lifted the lanyard up, unclipping the card and handing it to the man. He let his eyes scan it for a second before he held up his phone and let the device scan it a second time. After another moment, he handed it back to you and both guards stepped back as the heavy golden tinted glass doors were pushed open, giving enough space for you to step through.
“Welcome to the company, MC. It is a pleasure to have you. Your apartment is on the top floor.”
While your first thought was, wow Diavolo must have updated your name in the system so it displayed your nickname, your second more pressing thought was the top floor? That’s a lot of stairs! What if the elevator is down or there is a fire? Clipping the card back onto the lanyard and tucking back under your blazer, you quickly stepped in through the doors, not wanting to take up anymore of the guards’ time. Once you stepped in through the vestibule you pushed your way through another series of doors and were thrust into the most extravagant lobby you had ever seen.
While most of the Devildom Corporation’s office building you had toured had a modern art feel to it, between white marble and odd metallic statues and twisting, abstract pieces, this place took the cake. The gold doors seemed out of place now, with how much colorless, black and white shapes and artwork that crawled from the floor to the high ceiling of the place. Even the chandelier looked like a spider spiralling out from the center coffer. For a moment you were certain you had just walked inside a hotel owned by the company and not the place a mere intern should be staying at.
Your attention was quickly stolen by how quiet it was though inside the lobby. Compared to the offices, where people were constantly on the phone or running about with coffee, papers, or in the case of the fashion department, racks of clothing, there were only a handful of security folk posted around doorways, the desk, and then the occasional liftman waiting inside the elevator. If it wasn’t for the soft, classical music tuning overhead, you could have heard your heartbeat in your ears. As you took in your surroundings, there was a ding from an elevator to your left and a liftman stepped out, amicably approaching you with one arm extended in greeting.
“MC, I presume? Let me take you to your floor.”
“Thank you, but how did you know that I was here?” You said, following after him back into the elevator.
“The guards out front said you appeared a bit frazzled. Normally we just get an alert when someone enters the building, but they sent an extra one for someone to come fetch you. Apparently they were worried you would get lost.”
Do I really seem that helpless? You thought as the doors closed and slumped against the railing in the back of the elevator. Lucifer probably set up that alert in advance. He didn’t trust me enough. He might have had people stationed to follow me around the city in case I did get lost!
“Here’s your floor. You can get in through any of the doors you see before you. Here’s your keys.”
He handed you a silver ring with traditional keys and an additional card as you stepped out, and you glanced around, realizing how small the square hallway you were in was, and how big the building outside had been. Which door is it? How big is the inside?
“Wait! Are you sure this is the right floor?” You started to ask, but the doors closed, and the lift was gone. You found yourself alone again. You looked down at the keys in your hand, and then at the two doors spaced around the perimeter of the small hallway. There were two lifts in front of you, and then a staircase on the right side of them. The decor was like the lobby, save for a red carpet with gold trim covering the marble floor. You shifted your feet anxiously as you stared at the white doors with the lock mechanism on them.
No, you thought, Lucifer already believes I’m incompetent enough. If he stops by and finds me fumbling in the lobby unable to find my room, he’ll get an even worse impression of me! I have to just do this.
Surging forward, you rushed to the door directly across from you and swiped the card in the black slot reader beside it, waiting for the green light and the click of the lock opening before grabbing the handle and yanking it open and charging inside.
You stumbled to a stop when your eyes landed on the giant fountain in the foyer.
The door shut behind you, and suddenly you were very much aware of two sets of eyes on you, one from the couches in the distance from behind the fountain, and one which had stopped walking passed the door and was staring at you with mouth agape and a video game controller in hand.
“What is Lucifer back- oh my god some normie broke into the apartment! Woah!” The purple haired man shouted as his eyes lit up and took a step back, thrusting an accusatory finger at you as he screamed, “This is so gonna be all over the tabloids!”
The man looking at you from the couches stood up and swiftly moved towards you. He was over six feet tall and towered above you, his bright orange hair uncharacteristically sunny for how he glowered down at you. You could see his bare arms were incredibly muscular, and likely he would barely have to lift a finger to snap your neck. You were scrambling for the door, but couldn’t seem to get it unlocked.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! The operator must have given me the wrong keys! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to break in,I’m just trying to find my floor!”
You squeaked as you felt a hand on your shoulder, and suddenly you were being hoisted off the floor by the back of your jacket, almost like a kitten lifted by its mother. The burly man set you down by the fountain, and stepped in front of the door, blocking your way out. There was the other door, but the other man was standing in your way towards it. You slouched down on the floor into a ball and let your portfolio drop, the strap falling off your shoulder.
“I’m sorry! Lucifer was right! He knew I was going to screw up somehow! Just let me go back downstairs and I’ll ask someone else! Please just don’t hurt me!”
“Beel! The normie intruder is freaking out! I have to tweet about this!”
“No. Lucifer will get mad if he finds a tabloid about this. It’ll mean more work for him.”
You were still screaming random pleas for mercy, and the sound of footsteps approaching you were all but drowned out until you heard the gruff voice speak softer this time.
You lifted your head, “What?” The orange haired man was holding his hand out. He repeated.
“Show me your card. ID.”
You practically snapped your own neck trying to yank the lanyard off and then tugged your hands back like you had been burned the moment he took hold of the card. You felt like a goblin, caught in the middle of thieving with how you were behaving, even though you knew you had just made an honest mistake. You heard the other man shuffle over to examine the card and you glanced up from underneath your tangled arms you were still using to shield yourself to watch their expressions.
You flinched when the card was handed back to you, “Come with me.”
Meekly you stood up and watched as the man walked away and deeper into the apartment suite. The purple haired man was still holding his gaming controller and looking you up and down, but was noticeably silent now. His gaze unnerved you though, and with another eep! You fled and followed after the other.
Maybe he’s going to throw me off the balcony. Maybe they have a torture room somewhere in here, you panicked and you followed. The man stopped in front of one of the doors, and opened it, revealing a dark interior. Oh god it really is a torture room!
“Sorry about the confusion,” he said, rubbing his neck, “We all forgot you were arriving today. Diavolo specifically gave most of us the day off so we could help you move in, but everyone else took it as an opportunity to run off to the casino. This is your room.”
You shuffled forward, clutching your portfolio to your chest, and looked in. The man reached inside and flicked the lightswitch, revealing a large and lavish, but very under decorated room. You noticed two boxes that you had packed a few days ago and shipped sitting on the floor next to the bed.
“Oh! So I didn’t get the place wrong!” You sighed in relief, “Lucifer was so convinced I was going to get lost.”
“Wait, so the normie is moving in with us?” The purple haired man peaked around the corner, a scowl on his face, “Now I’ll have to hide all my figurines!”
“I don’t think you have to hide them. You barely let any of us in your room. Why would they go in?”
“Well, I-” The man turned red and let out an indignant squawk as he fumbled with his words.
“I’m sorry, I’m still a bit confused. I’m living here with you two?”
The orange haired man nodded, “Did Diavolo not tell you?”
“It’s not just the two of us. There are seven of us. Lucifer included.”
“Woah! Did you seriously think a plain intern like you would have a private penthouse like this for yourself! Totally lame! How prideful are you?”
“I wasn’t thinking that! That’s why I was so shocked when I came in! I was expecting something, I don’t know… More minimalistic? Definitely smaller. I was only told about moving to company property a few days ago…” You were still reeling from the fact that Lucifer would be coming home not to see you a mess in the lobby but instead in his own home, but now you were grappling with the fact that there were four more??? Who could they be???
“I don’t think you were originally going to move in here, but we did have a spare room anyway. It was changed last minute.” The orange haired man said.
“Oh yeah! Diavolo said something like, it’s cause the Celestial Corporation made such a big deal out of their intern! He figured you were going to get ambushed or something if it got leaked where you were moving to.”
“Why would I get ambushed?” What’s with this company???
“Uh, do you seriously not know? There’s so many tabloids about us right now! They hired that normie-influencer Solomon, and so everyone was expecting someone super big from us but then Diavolo chose you and decided to keep quiet, but word is going to get out eventually. He’s probably trying to keep you in the same apartment as Lucifer to control the rumors about-”
“Levi. Be quiet.” The other man suddenly growled, moving forward, and wrapping an arm around the purple haired man’s- Levi’s- neck as he tugged him around the corner, “It’s late. Let’s let them unpack.”
“Ugh. Fine. Asmo texted that they’re on their way back. Apparently Mammon got his ass handed to him by Satan after losing all his money at the casino again, lolololololol!”
Asmo? Satan? As your two new roommates disappeared back towards the foyer, you felt your face flush, recognizing the names. At the bridge there were four men… Does that mean they are the other four roommates???
Left alone in the hallway, you decided to step inside your room and do some unpacking. Slipping inside, you toed your way over to the bed where you laid your portfolio down, the poor thing had really had a rough day, and then removed your lanyard and decided to hang it over the frame of the mirror attached to the dresser. If you weren’t going to be able to enter the apartment building without it, better not throw it anywhere frivolously.
You shrugged off your jacket and deposited on the bed, and slumped down to the floor in front of the two boxes, your cell in your hand. While it wasn’t much to unpack, you still felt the need to procrastinate on it. Pressing the home button, the screen flashed and suddenly a missed series of texts from Lucifer appeared.
I would have hoped Diavolo outlined everything…
But to my dismay, he told me during the meeting he didn’t tell you who your “roommates” will be. Or that you had any at all.
Well, you said you were nearby, so you may have already found it out by now.
I will properly introduce you to everyone when I arrive home.
You sighed, and ran a hand through your hair, pushing it back as you leaned back against the bed frame. Just as you were about to set your phone down, it began to ring.
“One of my brothers just texted me that you arrived home. So you met Leviathan and Beelzebub.”
“Met is a strong word,” you huffed, “I thought I was about to get beaten to a pulp.”
You stiffened when you heard Lucifer’s breath hitch through the speaker. No, wait, that can’t be right. Was that… a chuckle?
“Yes. Beel can be intimidating at first glance. I assure you though, he will not harm you though.”
“They didn’t know who I was. Leviathan- you said? He kept shouting all these things at me the moment I walked in.”
A sigh. “Yes. I have to apologize. I told them last night you would be coming, but… the change was sudden.”
“I’m guessing you had no hand in it?”
“Of course not. Lord Diavolo, although he is a great man with many wonderful ideas, he is known for being very… spontaneous. At the last minute he decided to bring you in with us. He came to our door personally with your luggage last night. He really gave me no option.”
You smiled at the thought of Lucifer, the uptight guard who’s only other emotion revealed to you thus far being sinister mirth, being frazzled by his boss quite literally thrusting the responsibility of you onto him. You sat up and with the phone balanced on your shoulder, began to open the boxes up, “Well then, I’m glad I packed very little. I was worried we might have gotten off on a bad foot because my boxes accidentally hurt your back last night.”
“I’m not that old, you are aware of that, yes? Or are you simply that dimwitted?”
There were sounds of cars and wind crackling through the speaker, but Lucifer’s dry sarcasm still came through clearly. Picking a few piles of clothes out and transporting them to one of the dresser drawers took some effort of maneuvering the phone, the opening of the drawer, and the not crushing the neatly folded garments as you fuddled, but you managed. “Are you done with your meeting already? It sounds like you’re outside the office.”
“Yes, the meeting didn’t run that long. I’m almost at the apartment building.”
From down the hall, there was the sound of a door being swung open and crashing into a wall, and then several voices at once suddenly flooded the apartment.
“Is the newbie here yet?”
“They just arrived! They were so scared! They thought Beel was gonna rip them apart! You should’ve seen it!
“That’s because you started screaming at them first, Levi.”
“Screaming? Why did you do that?”
“He forgot they were coming.”
“I did not! I was just startled by what a normie they were!”
You crept towards the door and craned your head out into the hall. They must have still been in the foyer, because you didn’t see any traces of them or their shadows but continued to hear their voices growing louder.
“Are the rest of my brothers home?”
“I think so,” you said, putting the phone back in your one hand while your other held onto the doorframe while you leaned further outside of it, “What are their names?”
“If you already met Beel and Levi, then all that’s left are Mammon, Asmo, Satan, and Belphegor.”
“Oh, poor thing! Lemme go see them. Maybe I can make them feel a bit more welcome?”
“No. You are not doing that, Asmo. You’ll scare them even more.”
“You’re no fun, Satan!”
“And you’re a creep. I’m going to bed.”
“Yup, sounds like them,” you said.
“I’m surprised Belphegor wasn’t one of the first you met. He normally just sleeps when he gets the night off.”
“Is he the one you said was in college like me?”
“No, that would be Satan. Look, I’ll be there in a matter of minutes. If you have any questions or somehow the house catches on fire before I get there, talk to Mammon.”
You had moved down the hall and were now creeping around the corner, peeking into the foyer. The big fountain was still there, spitting water out, and you hoped that from their angle, you were hidden behind it. There were five men standing there, besides Levi and Beel, you recognized the men from the bridge. The blonde, the dark haired one, and then the pretty one who had stopped to apologize to you.
“Lucifer said he was going to be working late again. Should I prepare dinner?” The pretty one said, walking towards the right, where you assumed the kitchen must be. Or maybe his bedroom.
“String Mammon up on the balcony first. Lucifer won’t want blood dripping all over the floor if he gets back in a bad mood. If you’re gonna hurt him, you gotta do it right.” Leviathan said, waving a hand in the air before turning back to his game and walking towards the couches. The blonde spun around on his heel and turned back towards the other entrance door. It had a small hallway down it, and when he came back out of it, he was dragging something limply behind him. Rather someone.
“You’re an idiot. I may not agree with Lucifer on anything, but punishing you like this is enjoyable,” the blonde, Satan if you recalled correctly, started to move towards the other side of the fountain.
“Lucifer there might be an issue with me talking to Mammon.”
“What is it?”
“I think I just overheard something about Satan going to ‘string him up on the balcony?’”
There was a beat of silence and then a hurried, “Don’t worry about that. He deserves that. He will live.”
“Are you sure??? We’re pretty high up and-”
“Who are you?” Someone snorted, and you slowly lifted your head. You had been crouching down behind the corner to remain hidden, but now you were face to face with one of the men from earlier. The dark haired one. His purplish eyes stared down at you with disgust, and suddenly you felt a chill run down your spine. Covering the speaker of the phone, you tried not to let your fright be heard by Lucifer on the other end.
“Uh… I’m MC. The new intern.”
The dark haired man scrutinized you for a minute, his face scrunching up as if he smelled something bad. Then, he shoved his hands in his pockets, and trudged past.
“Ugh, whatever. I’m going to sleep. Too tired to deal with this right now. Still can’t believe Lord Diavolo forced us into this.”
You watched him go down the hall, and for a moment you thought he might just go for the easiest bed and storm into your room rather than opening another door, but instead he stopped at the second door, and just as he was about to turn the handle, he collapsed in a heap on the floor.
“AHHHHH! Are you okay?”
“MC? What’s going on?”
“Who just screamed?” The blonde man came running to the hall, with Mammon still limp as he was dragged by the back of his jacket. Beelzebub slid beside him, eyeing the scene.
“Oh, you met Belphegor. He does that sometimes. Don’t worry.”
“Does what? Passes out?”
“MC, I will be right up. I’m in the elevator right now.”
“You’re the new intern!” The blonde man said, dropping Mammon and stepping over the slump of him and then Belphegor to stand in front of you. He brought his thumb and forefinger to his chin and eyed you up and down thoughtfully, then nodded, “Yes, just as I expected.”
What does that mean? You felt like screaming.
“Uh-oh!” The voice of the pink-haired man still retained its happy-go-lucky sound even as it boomed throughout the house, “I might have burned something!”
“Asmo what did you do?” Leviathan growled, and pounding footsteps were soon drowned out by the sound of a fire alarm blaring. Beel leaned back to glance around the corner, and you saw his eyes widen before he went rushing off. Satan was still staring at you.
“Asmo! Get a towel or water to smother it!”
“I’m not touching it! My hair might get singed!” Asmo’s voice took on a sharper, more growling tone before his voice rose ten octaves and developed into a screech.
“Why would you put water on it? It’s a grease fire,” Beel said, sounding calm but you could hear his heavy footsteps pounding against the floor quickly.
“Asmo what were you trying to cook???”
“Uh, should you go check on them?” You asked, pointing down the hall as Satan continued to leer at you. He shook his head.
“No. They’ll survive. Now, you look like someone who’s well read. Do you know the literature of Dostoevsky?”
“You know,” Lucifer said, ten minutes later, once all of the brothers, including Belphegor, had been dragged to the couches in the sitting area so Lucifer could lecture them, “When I told MC to speak to Mammon if the house caught on fire, I was being hyperbolic.”
Silence. Lucifer crossed his arms and stared down at them. Mammon, luckily hadn’t been strung up, but he was still fighting consciousness next to a very nervous looking Leviathan who was staring at their shoes and fidgeting. Lucifer had heard most of the commotion on the phone, but believed it to be nothing more than excitement upon meeting their new housemate. Rather, he had hoped that was all it was, but upon entering the apartment, his disappointment was palpable. For only a second, his shock set in as he dropped his suitcase to the ground, but he quickly recovered and stepped over it, storming towards the fire and grabbing the three men and tossing them aside before easily smothering the flames just as they had started to spread beyond the stove.
“Technically, Mammon wouldn’t have been able to do anything anyway,” Satan mumbled, leaning back against the couch, “I don’t see why you would’ve had them ask him for anything-”
“Satan, be quiet. I don’t want to hear anything from you, especially when all you did was interrogate our guest while the kitchen burned. Now…”
Lucifer pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath, before twisting around to face you, who was standing a few feet away, observing the family drama.
“I deeply apologize on behalf of my brothers. I do hope you are not scared off by us. Lord Diavolo has high hopes for you, although, if you were truly uncomfortable after this, I could request him to move your living situation. It wouldn’t be an issue, since the place you were originally going to stay at is still open.”
You shook your head and took a step closer, “No thank you. I was a little shaken up, but I’m fine now.” Although you were still reeling from the fact that Diavolo had decided this was a better arrangement than you living by yourself, you didn’t want to offend Lucifer by telling him you wanted to leave.
“That’s good to hear. Saves me the paperwork at least,” You prickled at that. Oh, so it’s just paperwork you’re worried about?
“You lot,” he addressed the men on the couch again, “I want you to apologize for nearly burning down the apartment complex on MC’s first day here.”
“It was a small fire,” Asmo grumbled, “There’s no way it would’ve burned down the whole building.”
You shuffled closer as Lucifer stepped away to give you room, and as you came to stand in front of the couch, the six grown men all gave various mumbled, half-heartfelt sorrys before Mammon on the end sucked in a deep breath, and him and Beelzebub reached across their brothers and forced them all to bow with a slug to their heads.
“We’re very sorry!” Mammon’s voice rang out above the others, but you could hear Beelzebub’s more sincere, but quiet rumbling underneath the mess. Belphegor seemed to be falling asleep again, so you weren’t sure if he had said anything at all. Still, the sight of six grown men put in their place by their older brother brought a smile to your face, and you couldn’t help but start laughing.
Seven pairs of eyes stared at you in awe as you fought to cover your mouth, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh,” You took a breath, “I accept your apology.”
“Good,” Lucifer said, “Now that we have that squared away, let’s properly introduce you to everyone.”
“You said that you guys were all brothers? You don’t look anything alike,” you gushed as you skimmed the varying hair and eye colors again, plus how differently each of them were built.
“Oh,” Asmodeus spoke up, “We’re not blood related. We’ve just known each other for so long we’re practically brothers!”
“What about Satan then?” You pointed at the man in question as you turned to look at Lucifer. Compared to the others, there was something similar in their eyes that made you think twice, “You called him your younger brother at work.”
“We’re not related either,” Satan circled his hand in the air flippantly, “Lucifer just likes to pretend he has more authority over me than the rest of them.”
“I’m paying for your college. That gives me plenty of authority over you.”
“Listen here, you-
“Now, now, now!” Asmo stood up and placatingly gestured for everyone to calm down, “Let’s not get side tracked! It’s getting late and we still have to order dinner since the kitchen is out of commission for now. Let’s get introductions out of the way. I’m Asmodeus.”
He reached for your hand and gently kissed your knuckles before glancing up at you with a wink, “Although I do believe we met earlier tonight?” You nodded, “I thought I recognized your face from the files given out the other day. Well, here’s to hoping I’ll see you when I fall asleep too-”
“Asmo!” Mammon reached forward and tugged the man back onto the couch with effort, “That’s sexual harassment! You can’t just say shit like that!”
“Why not? I said it to all the new hires in my department.”
Lucifer snapped his fingers and sighed again, “Next.”
“Wait, I wasn’t done! I’m in charge of the beauty and fashion departments at Devildom! Swing by whenever to get glamoured up!” He flashed you a peace sign before settling back against the couch. Leviathan went next.
“I’m Leviathan. I work in Devildom’s game and entertainment division, but I doubt a normie like you would even want to stop by, so you don’t have to at all! It’s not like I’ll be bothered by it at all, I’m used to people not caring-”
“Hey! I wasn’t done!”
“You should give MC another apology,” Beel chimed in.
“What did I do?!”
“You scared them when they first came in. You haven’t apologized properly for that.”
“You scared them too! You were the one who cornered them!”
“Only because you started screaming… I’m going to go order food,” Beel stood up and walked down the hall as he pulled out his phone. Inadvertently, you flinched as he brushed past you, and he paused for a moment to glance down at you before continuing on. Lucifer just hung his head and continued to breathe out, a frown permanently plastered on his features, although this time he looked more understanding than annoyed.
“Beelzebub can be a bit intimidating, but as I told you earlier, he won’t hurt you. He manages the departments focused on sports nutrition and most of our athletic brand marketing. He might seem a bit brutish, but he’s just thinking about a lot at a time.”
“I’ll just go next to get it over with,” a yawn interrupted, “I’m Belphegor. You probably won’t ever end up in my department. Lucifer keeps me in the basement of the building. If you ever get sent down there, you did something wrong.
“What? It’s true. I’m going to bed now, like I tried to earlier.”
As Belphegor slumped away, but to the hallway he had initially collapsed in, you got a closer look at his eyes too. Before you could say anything though, Asmo spoke.
“Beel and Belphie are the only two that are actually related. They’re twins! Although Beel obviously got all the good genes, meanwhile Belphie’s got narcolepsy.”
“He didn’t do anything wrong, I just transferred him downstairs because I knew if he was caught falling asleep too many times managing another department, it would stall the company’s work,” Lucifer explained.
You scanned the remainder of the men who were on the couch, “So, just Satan and Mammon left, right?”
“It’s Great Mammon to you,” the brother in question said, standing and jabbing his chest with his thumb, “Make sure you remember that, measly human.”
Human? “Excuse me?”
“You heard me. I mean, you’ll learn your place soon enough in Devildom, but I am practically a god at the company. So, as a newbie with no experience, that means you are just an ordinary human in my presence!”
You blinked at him, then blurted out, “I’m very sorry, but it’s hard for me to believe that when you’ve got a black eye and split lip.”
“What?!” His hands scrambled to touch his face, and immediately he winced as they banged into the injured areas. Taking his phone out, he opened the camera as he nervously inspected the bruising before turning to Satan and screaming, “You asshole! This is all your fault!”
“It’s your fault for stealing all my money and then losing it at the casino.”
“No one is going to take me seriously tomorrow when I walk in looking like this!”
“No one takes you seriously to begin with, Mammon, now calm down,” Lucifer crossed his arms again, “MC, you will be starting working under Mammon in investor relations.”
Although Lucifer spoke plainly, you saw the expression in his eyes shift, and you understood. I pray for your sanity, went unsaid.
Must have been Diavolo’s decision, then, you mused.
“Compared to other interns working at the company, you alone are in a special program, I would like to remind you. Rather than just learning one department, Diavolo has decided that you will be assisting wherever needed, and writing frequent reports on what you have learned and experienced. You will eventually be meeting with the Celestial Corporation’s intern as part of the partnership and communicating on ways our two businesses can collaborate better.”
You nodded, remembering what you had been vaguely told this morning during the tour when you fought hard not to zone out. Mentally you wrote down that you would be needing to see if you had a spare notebook amongst your school supplies to bring to work. You doubted your portfolio would be needed if tomorrow you were just going to be sitting around discussing numbers. A calculator too, maybe?
“What about Satan, though? What department does he work in?”
“I work in publ-”
“Satan isn’t currently employed by the Devildom Corporation.”
Satan’s green eyes narrowed and he glared at Lucifer from where he had been sinking into the couch.
“Oh. You said he wasn’t an intern earlier so I thought he might already have a higher position in the company despite being so young!”
“Satan applied for a job, but was rejected.”
“Yeah! Because who was conducting my interview?”
“Don’t act this way in front of our guest.”
“You’re the one deciding to spill everything about me without my consent!”
“Woah there! Let’s all relax,” Asmo tried again, “Beel went to order food, remember? If introductions are done, we better get our orders in before he goes and buys out the whole restaurant for himself. MC, what would you like?”
“Uh… anything’s fine really. I’m not that hungry, to be honest.”
“That’s no good! You need to eat three meals a day or else your body will start to suffer! I’ll order you something nice.”
Asmo dashed down the way Beel had gone, leaving you, Mammon, Satan, Leviathan, and Lucifer in the sitting area.
“Well, I’m going back to my room,” Leviathan said, standing up suddenly, “No one bother me or come inside! Especially not you, normie!”
His voice got more and more distant as he disappeared down another hall, probably having enough of the stale, tense atmosphere. Lucifer and Satan were still locked in a scowling contest, so you tried to break the ice a bit.
Clapping your hands together, you addressed Lucifer, “Oh, I already told HR when I made my schedule but on Wednesday, I have classes in the morning. I won’t be coming in until the afternoon.”
“That’s fine. As long as you don’t get lost again.”
“Wha- I didn’t get lost in the first place!”
“Correction, as long as you don’t need me to leave work or send Mammon out to find you, it’s fine. If HR said it’s okay, then it’s fine.”
“I nearly forgot, you’re my age. You don’t commute elsewhere, right? You go to Philautia College?”
“Yeah, I was dorming there until this morning,” you laughed, “I still have to go pick up some of my leftover things tomorrow night.”
“I can come with you. I have classes there in the evening anyway. When we get out of work, I’ll walk with you.”
“Good. You’ll have a babysitter,” for a moment, you thought Lucifer was talking to you, and were about to yell at him for the nth time, I didn’t get lost, but then you saw Satan seething. His knuckles clenched against the leather surface of the couch, nails scratching the surface as his body practically vibrated with an attempt to keep the rage under control, but then he lunged for a pillow on the neighboring chair and chucked it across the room, just missing your neck as it soared past your shoulder and hit the stone statue of the fountain and fell into the water.
“Whatever, I’ll be in my room. I don’t need dinner either.”
Mammon was still cooing in anguish over his appearance at his phone screen, stretching his skin to see how bad the bruising was before yelping every time it flared up in pain. You remembered how he had banged into you at the bridge, and how angry the man who had run past, now putting a name to a memory, Satan, had been when he ran after him. If the wind that you felt when the pillow flew by was any indication, he had some serious strength. You looked at Mammon again, and sighed.
There was more bruising on him than you previously noticed. Peeking out of the collar of his black shirt, you could see bigger splotches or blue and green sprouting across his skin.
Well, might as well try to get somebody around here to like me, you thought, and stepped in front of him to get his attention. He glanced up.
“Huh? Whaddya want?”
“Where’s the first aid kit? I’ll help you patch up.”
He made a disgusted face, “What? You think I can’t do it myself? I’m a grown man, you know.”
You lifted your foot up, and kicked him hard in the shoulder. He yelped.
“Hey! I’m your boss! You can’t just do that to me!”
“We haven’t started work together yet. Besides, that’s payback for when you knocked into me at the bridge.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The bridge. I first saw you, Asmo, Satan, and Belphie there. I was coming here, and you slammed into me, and made me lose a rock I was playing with. So, that’s payback.”
He scoffed, “What’s the big deal with a rock? Are you some lunatic? In case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of rocks in the city- OW! OW! OW! Stop kicking me!”
You had lifted your foot again and started twisting it against his shoulder more, applying more pressure.
“I don’t care if you think it’s stupid. You can make fun of me all you want while you’re bossing me around tomorrow at work. For now, tell me where the first aid kit is, and let me help you. The longer you just mess with it, the longer it’s going to take to heal. Or do you want to go to work letting everyone know your younger brother kicked your ass?”
You smirked at him when he shot you another glare. It lacked the bite of his other one though, and you knew you had won.
“Fine. Follow me to the bathroom.”
He pushed himself up and started to walk, so you trailed after him, but just as you got a little bit close to him, he spun around and kicked you in the shin. Hard.
“What the hell?!”
He grinned, “There. We’re even.”
He continued on to the bathroom, and you were left dumbstruck, mouth gaping at him. The audacity. We’re not even at all. It’s 1-2 now. Still, you thought about how good it would be to get him back at work the next morning, and grinned.
It was going to be a long day tomorrow, you sensed.
Strangely, you couldn’t wait.
I know it doesn't look like much at the moment, but I have spent days meticulously outlining the plot of this fic and every detail of it, so I hope you stick around to see where it goes! You can probably still find the post where I outlined a lot of the plot if you go searching, but if you want to remain unspoiled, don't look for it! Either way, I promise there's a lot of surprises in store even if you did see the outline already...
MC's first day at work begins.
Sorry it took so long to get chapter 2 out! I've actually been sitting on the completed chapter since posting chapter 1, I just had to finish some other fics before I had time to proof-read this chapter. I had plans to write chapter 3 before posting chapter 2 so I would always been one step ahead, but unfortunately I still need to begin writing chapter 3. Hopefully it won't be too long of a wait after posting this!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
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.
I'm sorry if for many if the art history and Crime and Punishment discussions seemed out of place. I promise I'm including them for good reason! The story is still just starting, so I hope that in time I can deliver on what I've planned out way back in these chapters by the time we reach the end.
MC reminisces. The internship continues on, but soon the time comes to meet with the mysterious Solomon King...
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.
A glimpse into how MC is doing living with several new people, as well as their struggles as they're switched out of Mammon's department, and into a new brother's...
I'm so sorry for the long wait between chapters! I've been busy with school and writing other fanfictions, and I wanted to take time to finish Lessons 1-20 of Obey Me. I finally did, and now I have to work my way through the newer lessons so I can catch up to what everyone has been discussing! This chapter might read a little differently compared to previous chapters, as its been a while since I wrote in the style I normally do for this fic, and was having a bit of difficulty replicating it in more dialogue heavy scenes. I had a beta reader for this chapter, but I still apologize for any mistakes! I hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A deep breath.
You watched your breath turn to condensation as it danced through the dark blue night air. You warmed your hands around the hot mug as you leaned against the balcony’s railing, looking down on the city as time ticked passed. It was only October, but the first frost had already come, and you were dreading having to leave your blanket cocoon in the early hours when the sun hadn’t yet woke to warm up the world, but you had been doing it for two years now in a less comfortable dorm room, so you knew it was tolerable, just not preferable.
Although the view from the balcony was impossibly high up, you had learned to tolerate it whenever you craved fresh air. Originally apprehensive about standing anywhere near the ledge and glancing down at the microscopic people rushing around on the golden streetlight illuminated streets, fearful to fall and become a mere splat amongst the bustle, Lucifer had properly taken the time to explain to you how the railings were designed to prevent such falls. It had something to do with their height and the average center of gravity, and he told you not to worry unless you deliberately climbed up or forced yourself over the railing, you would be unlikely to fall. He didn’t laugh at your fear, but was calm and thorough to try and rationally explain anyway your fears. You appreciated that deeply.
And so you had been learning in stages how to ease your anxiety by standing out here for longer and longer periods of time. Gradually, between having to step out here to untie Mammon when he was strung up for punishment or having to drag Belphegor inside after he fell asleep against the door and tumbled outside onto the patio. You hadn’t interacted much with your housemates, but were learning how to do that too. It was inevitable, no matter how big the penthouse was, that you would have to run into them at some point.
The person you had really started to cross a bridge with in terms of a small friendship was Belphegor. Although he had initially surprised you on your first day when he passed out at your feet from a narcolepsy attack, you had grown accustomed to him collapsing suddenly or finding him already asleep somewhere in the apartment. Luckily, it wasn’t often, as you had never seen him have an attack while on your morning commute, but it was still concerning. The rest of his brothers would often leave him alone on the floor if they found him slumped somewhere, but you couldn’t find it in your heart to step over or brush past the man if you found him collapsed in the hallways. Despite Lucifer’s protests, you had become the one who would often try to coax him back to wakefulness, or support him and remind him of what he was doing if he was still somewhat conscious and only having a cataplexy attack. At first, you weren’t sure if he wanted your help, as he was quiet, and acted a bit brusque towards you when he woke to you leaning over him, but you had managed to have a few meaningful conversations despite that.
“I had a head injury when I was younger,” he told you one night, the both of you sitting on the couch after you dragged him back inside. He twisted the lid off on his medication and tapped the pills into his hand, “We don’t know if it’s exactly related to that, ‘cause I might have always had it, and just got more visible once I was older.”
“Everyone else always ignores you when you pass out. Is it bad for me to wake you when you have an attack? I didn’t know if I should leave you alone or not.”
“I don’t care if you help me or leave me,” he said as he tossed the pill back in his throat and took a swig of water, “It’s not like there is much you can do since it’s my brain, and I’m used to it when people leave me. I used to be upset about it, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.”
He set the water and pill bottle down on the table, but his hand rolled against the cap of the bottle, making it tilt in a circle as he mumbled, “Sometimes when I wake up, my memory is hazy, so it’s nice to have someone to remind me. Thank you.”
You could see in his eyes that he seemed a bit happier about it too, in the end.
Lucifer didn’t seem too pleased about the brothers you were choosing to get closer to, although he had yet to outright say anything. You could tell by the glares he shot the way of Satan when you arrived home, or Mammon when the two of you were on the couch in the living room talking about something that happened at work. Mammon was understandable, as you had witnessed the lecturing multiple times, and so you assumed Lucifer thought his slacking off would eventually rub off on you, but the rift between Satan and him you were still in the dark about. There was tension between them, and Lucifer had called Satan’s niceties an “act”, but you had yet to figure out what he meant by that.
Sure, there were some oddities to his behavior, but you didn’t see anything suspicious that made you alarmed. Still, that icy silence that stretched between them whenever you arrived home with Satan in tow made you uncomfortable. You knew Lucifer’s disdain-filled looks weren’t directed at you, but when you walked in to a house of coldness and the two barely spared one another a greeting without launching into a meaningless argument, you felt like tripwires were being set up with their tongues, and as you snuck away to your room, any misstep could lead Lucifer and Satan’s anger to turning on you.
You knew you shouldn’t think that way. Satan was a good student, intelligent, well read, and he had been nothing but kind to you since you moved in. Lucifer was obviously uptight due to the high ranking position of his job and being the oldest made him the most responsible for everyone. Still, you couldn’t shake that image of Satan standing in stasis on the bridge that night, and the seed of doubt about whether he had really gone to class or not.
He always seemed to be waiting for you, exactly where you left him, when your class got out. You feared what would happen if that was the truth and Lucifer found out.
As for the other three, Asmodeus, Leviathan, and Beelzebub, you hadn’t had an “icebreaker” moment with them yet. When you happened to be home and not trying to catch up on homework, Asmodeus was rarely mingling throughout the house, often locked up in his room where faint music could be heard coming from, as well as the smell of perfume. You had gathered from the number of shopping bags you had seen him come home with once- and his title as head of the fashion department- that he had many things to bide his time with, and you weren’t offended that you were shut out from that. It wasn’t as though you didn’t understand beauty and fashion, but he was obviously on a different level and you would need to find something else that would help you cross the bridge and further your acquaintanceship. Beelzebub, although Belphegor was often hanging around him, you had only really been around during your first meeting with Solomon, and Belphegor had explained that Beelzebub often was often working out or had to attend various events outside of company hours for work.
Asmodeus and Beelzebub’s absence made sense. Leviathan’s, however, didn’t.
You took a sip from your mug, and let your eyes drift up to look across the horizon, the multitude of illuminated squares on neighboring skyscrapers, ones that towered much higher than the apartment complex you were in right now. You squinted through the murky blue darkness of the evening and peered into the tiny rooms across the street, seeing just vague shapes of shadowy people moving about, living their lives.
Leviathan was still a complete enigma to you. When you first met, he had come off as immature and cocky, but not the same way Mammon was endearing to you. Leviathan was high and mighty, yet obviously insecure, as he went from making fun and threatening you for entering the wrong apartment to acting shy and dismissive about his job, and you had yet to see beyond that front he put up, mainly because there was always a door dividing you two. He was always locked inside his room, gaming away, and the few times he was seen walking about the house, his ears were plugged up with anime music leaking out, and his eyes were zeroed in on whatever console he was frantically typing away at.
Needless to say, you couldn’t think of any way to insert yourself into a conversation, nonetheless start one with him.
You took another deep breath, only vaguely watching the way the mist from it danced with the steam from your mug in the night air. You were more focused on the little people dancing within the tiny boxes of their lit up apartments, living their lives without any connection to yours.
You rested your cheek in your hand, and sighed, drifting away.
I wonder if I was over there, could I look over here and see me? Could I see everyone else in their rooms? Could I see what they’re doing, how they’re living?
You swore it didn’t bother you, the coldness of your new home. It had only been a month, you would adjust.
Are there some that watch us every night? Do they see more about their lives than I do?
You weren’t bothered. It had only been a month.
But, you thought to yourself as you brought the mug close to your chest, curling in on yourself as a gust of wind buffeted you, coaxing you turn around and go inside-
It would be nice for it to be a little warmer, after all this time.
And for you to feel like you belonged.
“Wait, you want me to deliver this to Leviathan?” You said, shaking the case for a video game in Mammon’s direction, “Why can’t you do it?”
“Because, if I go in his room, he’s going to kill me! Please, just do this one thing for me!”
Mammon pleaded with you outside of Leviathan’s bedroom, and you were trying your best not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation you found yourself in. The door was obviously bolted tight, but you could see lights flashing underneath it and hear the heavy bass boom of some idol dance song blaring. Mammon was practically on his knees with his hands folded in prayer as he looked up at you, who was arching an eyebrow as you folded one hand on your hip and stared down at him.
“Uh-huh, and why is he going to kill you if you return this game?”
“Because I stole it and tried to pawn it for some cash, alright? If he sees me try to enter his room, he’ll try and kill me on the spot because he’ll think I’m there to steal something again. Please, just take care of this for me?”
You stared judgmentally at Mammon for another moment, almost tempted to ask what he would do for you in return, but as much excitement as you were having soaking up the attention of the other brothers who were milling about and glancing your way as Mammon continued to beg at your feet, you realized the more drawn out you kept this, the longer it would take you to finish your homework, and so, you relented.
“Fine. But how am I supposed to get in when the door is locked this tight and he obviously won’t hear me knock?”
“Just break the door down,” Satan called from the couch with a book, “Busting a lock like that should be no issue if you’re not rusty, Mammon.”
“Are you kidding me? If I broke this lock, Lucifer would kill me! I’m not doing it!” Mammon shouted.
“Well then,” you said, pushing the game against his chest abruptly “you’ll just have to wait for him to leave and then give it to him when he comes out.”
“Are you kidding me? That could take hours! I’m not waiting that long!”
“Well, I’m not waiting that long either, Mammon! I have homework I’m behind on and-”
The anime music suddenly stopped and then the lock clicked. You and Mammon froze.
The door slowly creaked open and Leviathan appeared in the dark, blue glow of his room with a scowl on his face.
“Why are you fighting outside my door?” He hissed, “I’m trying to watch Ruri-chan’s concert and I can’t hear anything with you guys yelling.”
Your mouth gaped open when you saw Leviathan standing there in casual clothing, for the first time in a while his orange eyes looking at you with interest (even if that interest was marred by annoyance) and looking at you expectantly. You flubbed for a moment before you managed to slip into a smile and find your voice.
“Oh! We were arguing because Mammon was going to-”
You started to gesture towards the brother in question only to feel the cold of the game case press into your hand and the space beside you become empty as a door down the hall slammed shut.
“Mammon’s gone,” Leviathan supplied.
“Yeah I know,” you rolled your eyes, sliding the game into both hands as you turned to face the other brother properly, “Look, Mammon was supposed to return this, but he got me involved because he apparently stole it and was scared to give it back. I just want to get back to my work, you want to get back to your show. Just take it and we can move on.”
You handed Leviathan the case.
“I knew he had been rustling around in my room the other day. I didn’t know what he stole, but Lucifer must have noticed him sneaking about and told him off, or else he never would have returned this on his own,” Leviathan said as he inspected the cover and back of the case. Slowly, his eyes started to light up, “Sorry about him, but thanks for giving this back, even if you were just being used as the middlema-”
Leviathan froze as he popped open the case. It was empty.
“Did Mammon seriously forget to put the disc back in-” You started to groan, but had the wind knocked out of you as Leviathan shoved past you, charging towards Mammon’s room. You banged into the wall harshly, your head hitting it with a loud thud as Leviathan stomped down the hall.
“I’m going to kill him!” He shouted as he tugged open the bedroom door, “Mammon! Did you sell my limited edition deluxe-”
The door slammed close, and the voices became muffled once more. You were still standing pressed against the wall, trying to catch your breath as you raised a hand up to your chest.
Leviathan had shoved you. Hard.
Satan seemed to notice you were having trouble breathing and got up from the couch, circling around to you as his book clattered to the floor.
“Are you okay? What’s the matter?”
Lucifer had mentioned all of them were bodyguards. They were trained in defense. It was just an accident.
You hadn’t realized how much strength Leviathan’s lithe form had in it. Wincing, you managed to catch your breath and smiled at Satan weakly, “He just surprised me is all. He must have been really angry. He put a lot of force into that push.”
Satan frowned, “That wasn’t a push, that was a shove. It’s inexcusable for him to do something like that, even in his anger. Are you having trouble breathing?” He raised his hand and pressed it over your chest lightly, feeling the rise and fall of your chest. It made you a bit nervous, but you were wearing an oversized sweater, so it was somewhat hard for him to see. He seemed to notice your discomfort though, and backed off slightly, but not before guiding you gently over to the couch.
“Sorry about that. Here, come lie down for a moment, and try to just slow your breathing. I’ll get you a glass of water.”
Belphegor scrambled out of the way to one of the other couches as Satan helped you sit down. He helped you swing your legs up onto the cushions and you leaned your head back against the arm rest. You could still hear Leviathan and Mammon fighting in the other room, and their shouts were getting louder by the second, some slamming noises rattling the walls as Mammon was no doubt thrown around. The sharp, sudden pitches of their angry tones made your breathing hitch, and as much as you tried to relax as Satan sat down next to you and handed you the glass, you couldn’t stop your hands from trembling.
Belphegor seemed to understand what was upsetting you. He got up and padded over to the room the arguing was coming from, and slipped inside. Very quickly, the noise quieted down, and he returned to curl up on the cushions where he had been moments before. He watched with a blank gaze as you carefully drank from the glass, handing it back to Satan when you were done. You pressed a hand against your chest and sighed deeply, at last your breathing under control.
“Are you okay?” Satan asked again. You nodded.
“Yeah, sorry about that. I guess I wasn’t prepared for you guys to be so strong!” You tried to laugh it off, but realized that was a bad idea when you felt your chest hurt in the place Leviathan had shoved you. Was it bruised? “Lucifer said you all used to be bodyguards, but I didn’t know how strong you actually were!”
“Lucifer told you that?”
You opened your eyes and looked at Satan. He was staring at you confused.
“Uh, yeah? He mentioned it before because it was why Diavolo wanted me to live with you guys.”
“So he’ll mention that to you but not to us?”
Satan’s brow furrowed and his eyes took on that bright green blaze you were becoming all too accustomed to whenever his anger began to seethe. Before it could burn any longer though, Mammon’s bedroom door opened, and the two stepped out with scratches and bruises already marring their skin. Leviathan looked over at you at the couch, pink quickly dusting his cheeks before he darted back into his room. Mammon wiped his bloody nose on his sleeve, but moved in towards the couches when he saw you. He slid into the space as Satan left it, and immediately was nothing but jovial as he tried to cheer you up with apologies.
Your eyes kept straying though, towards the closed door of Leviathan’s room, and the fleeing figure of Satan as he began to pace down the hall. From the other couch, Belphegor was silent.
Before your alarm could go off, you were awoken one morning by the harsh rapping of Lucifer on your bedroom door.
Like a slug, you rolled out of bed with the blankets and comforter dragging behind you, making your way over to the door slowly in the chill of the early hours. Through your glassy eyes, if you squinted at the clock, you could just make out the number five on the digital face.
“What is it?” You asked, rubbing your eyes as you opened the door before the man could knock on it again.
“Good morning to you too,” he said, folding his arms. He was already fully dressed in his work uniform, and you had to wonder if he ever slept at all from when you saw him yesterday, “I’m sorry to wake you, but Diavolo has informed me that he would like to see you early this morning. We will need to leave now to get there in time for the meeting.”
The rational part of your mind was still waking up, but it managed to keep your mouth closed and only think about how annoying it was that you were being asked to come in two hours before the time you normally go in for a meeting. Shaking yourself a little bit more awake, you squinted up at Lucifer.
“Do I have time to shower, at least?”
“Yes. I woke you deliberately so we would still have enough time for you to complete your morning routine even if you futzed about through it. Should I prepare coffee?”
“No, no…” You said, pushing the door closed again, “I’ll be awake soon, I don’t need any stimulants.”
If you had been more awake, perhaps you could have savoured the indignant look on Lucifer’s face as you practically shut the door on it, but for now, all you could focus on was not falling asleep on the floor on your way to the bathroom, shuffling across the room in your cocoon of blankets as you sought a warm embrace of a shower.
It was out of the house and into the rush of the city’s fall air as you and Lucifer stepped out of the bottom floor doors and onto the pavement. You were a bit more cognizant as the two of you moved about the kitchen, slipping in a complaint about how six in the morning was an unreasonable working hour for a college student, but Lucifer reminded you it was just a meeting. He seemed a bit on edge as well, although he was still nursing his cup of coffee, and so whatever impatience he felt about dragging your groggy self out of bed vanished with the caffeine.
You thought you caught a smile from him when he caught you as you tripped trying to get your shoes on as you left the threshold of the apartment. He quipped again about you needing coffee like him, but you shooed him away. Now that the wind was buffeting your face, any remnants of sleep were quite literally blown away as you wrapped your plaid scarf tighter around yourself and surged forward after Lucifer through the city.
“You know, I’ve been meaning to ask this,” you said as you hurried after him, “Why don’t you ever take a car instead of walking? Wouldn’t it save time?”
“More inconspicuous to walk than to drive. Besides, it’s healthier this way.”
“Healthier but more tiring. I thought you would have figured this out by now, but I’m not as tall as the rest of you. I’m always falling behind.”
Lucifer smirked at you from over his shoulder, “Then, you will learn to keep up.”
His eyes were hidden behind the dark sunglasses he always wore as he walked, but you swore you saw him smile there too. If he slowed down just a bit for your sake, you didn’t comment on it.
“Yo, Levi!” Mammon shouted as he kicked in a heavy metal door to a dark room, “It’s your turn with the intern!”
“What?!” The man in question let out an indignant squawk as he tugged his headphones around his neck, and sat up with one hand on the back of the couch, “What do you mean?!”
“Lucifer thought you were slacking off, so him and Diavolo are shipping them to you!” Mammon pressed a hand against your back and shoved you over the threshold of the hallway into the dark space. You felt like a kitten who had just been picked up by the scruff of its neck and chucked inside.
Leviathan launched to his feet and began to flail, “Wait, no! Stay out, no one is allowed in here-”
“Good luck!” Mammon called before slamming the door closed, just missing your bag as the door pushed you forward, tripping you further into the room. Silence echoed after the noise, giving you a moment to squint through the dark and search for Leviathan’s form, barely backlit by the blue light of the television that flashed a game over screen before going black. The television seemed to be against the far wall, which wasn’t that far at all, highlighting how small the “office” was, if it could even be called that. The entertainment department manager’s office was actually a few doors down the hallway and to the left, but for some reason Leviathan chose to work out of a tiny storage closet he had crammed all these electronics into.
As the light from the hallway faded and your eyes adjusted to the darkness, you found Leviathan’s eyes easily. The bright orange color glinted through the darkness, glaring at you with a serpent-like narrowness to them. You cupped your hands around the sides of your face, trying to focus more, and slowly, you found yourself realizing that- one, Leviathan’s silhouette was not one of a predator, but rather more familiar to those photos of cryptids spotted or a deer turning its head when it sees a car, and two, that there was something thin and wiry hanging down from the ceiling a few inches from your face.
You reached out and curled your hand around the string.
You smirked and pulled down. The single light bulb of the closet flashed, and the room was illuminated in a bright yellow light.
When you arrived at work, it was still the early hours of the morning, and not many employees were milling about the building yet. Lucifer had sent you up in the elevator while he vanished to attend to some other business, and you were welcomed by Barbatos’ into the office. You had prepared your finalized report, based on what you had discussed with Solomon and ideas you had compared, and chose to submit it to Diavolo now, since you weren’t sure when else would be a good time to hand it off. Instead of speaking to you first, he decided to read it over and so Barbatos guided you over to one of the comfy, leather chairs to laze about while he prepared tea.
You engaged in a whispered conversation after Diavolo gave a motion that Barbatos could relax from work, but even as he sat in the chair across from you, he remained poised and stiff with his gloved hands resting on his thighs. He was a bit robotic, and it was a bit jarring compared to the way he was looser in the few conversations you had shared over text, but like Lucifer you could see the small cracks in his professional persona appearing- what looked like coldness to most was now becoming an amused smirk.
It would just take you a bit more time to grow truly close to these people, you reasoned.
“Excellent work, MC,” Diavolo said as he tucked the papers back into the file you had given him. You stood up but he motioned for you to stay, instead he moved to leave his desk and cross his office towards you, “I know Mammon must have been a difficult first assignment, but I am truly thankful you managed to straighten him out.”
“We’ll just have to hope he remains good-natured,” Barbatos said.
“There’s a small chance he might go back to slacking off without you to watch over him, and so I might ask you to supervise him when that happens again, but as far as I am concerned, you have graduated from the financial department!”
Diavolo made an arc motion with both hands, wiggling his fingers in celebration. Barbatos gave a small clap.
“I’m honestly not sure if that’s an accomplishment. I feel like I was really overstepping my boundaries as an intern,” you confessed.
“Nonsense. You did a wonderful job. In fact, taking charge and being able to manage all that work was obviously very beneficial as you learned so quickly how everything works. Your report was very thorough,” he nodded, “I look forward to seeing more of that in the future. Although, perhaps we might see more of your individuality when you finally reach a different department.”
“Isn’t Beelzebub’s department next? I’m not too sure about sports marketing, but I’ll try my best!”
“Actually,” Diavolo said, “there’s been a small change of plans, but before we get to that-”
You tilted your head confused as he moved to sit down. Barbatos stood up and prepared a cup of tea for his master as Diavolo crossed his legs and leaned over his folded hands.
“I was hoping to find out how you were adjusting to your new home.”
Didn’t see that coming, you thought, but tried not to seem too surprised.
“Oh! Everything’s just fine, I assure you.”
“I know we discussed it briefly after your first day, but I wanted to check in on everything. How are things with the brothers? I know you walk home with a few of them, but I wasn’t sure how close you were with them.”
Is he assuming I’m acting unprofessional? A nervous thought flitted through your head. I have been pretty blunt and physical with Mammon, maybe that’s what this is about?
“I honestly… haven’t spoken to them too much? I mean, we obviously talk when we’re walking to and from, but at the apartment we all have our own space. Between work here and school, I’ve really only had brief conversations with them.”
“You don’t talk to them at all while at home?”
“No, that’s not true at all! It’s not like we avoid each other, but… I mean, we’re still getting to know each other. I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with all of them yet, but I’m sure that will change once we have something like work to bond over. I’m not bothered by that. It’s to be expected when moving somewhere new.”
“Hm… I see. Barbatos, do you think we may have been giving our intern too much work to start?”
Your head whipped around to Barbatos. The steward seemed to mull it over for a moment, “It is possible. From what I have seen on the camera, they are always running about. It might be best to give them and the brothers a day or two to settle in more.”
“You don’t need to do that! I swear, everything is fine at the apartment. You don’t have to worry.”
“You call it the ‘apartment’. Is it not your ‘home’ yet?” Diavolo asked.
His words struck you a bit harder than you expected. You found yourself staring at his furrowed expression with confusion as the question really sunk in. Home was… well, home was home, back where you lived before you moved for college. You lived in a small dorm for a few years, and while your roommates and classmates always decorated their spaces to make it their home-away-from-home, you never had found the motivation to do that. For two years, your life just happened in that small, dingy room on campus, but you never thought much of it. But, now you were being asked if this fanciful, extravagant penthouse suite you had been handed to share with several others felt like home.
Is it supposed to feel like home? Should I feel thankful that I have such a nice place to live?
Diavolo seemed to be waiting expectantly for your answer.
“Well… I mean, it’s only been a few weeks, right? I’m still adjusting to how big everything is. I’m sure eventually it will feel like ‘home’, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Diavolo frowned slightly, but before he could comment on it more, there was a knock at the heavy glass doors. Lucifer was waiting there with the cluster of his brothers behind him. Diavolo motioned for them to enter, and Barbatos held open the door as they did. You watched them all file in, taking a strange position and lining up in front of the wall with their hands behind their backs.
“Wonderful, I’m happy to see you all could make it,” Diavolo clapped his hands together and then held them apart, smiling at the group as he leaned back in the chair. You scrutinized the group slightly, casting Diavolo a glance but did not point out his fault. There were two obviously missing, but Satan didn’t technically work for the company, so really only one was absent.
“Today MC will be switching departments. They did such a wonderful job working with Mammon that we thought it was due time to give them something more interesting.”
“What? You’re making MC leave me?” Mammon asked, shoving his hands in the pockets of his gray jacket. He jutted his chin out like some kind of punk, but quickly slumped back against the wall at Lucifer’s glare, “That’s not fair, man…”
“Yes, yes, I understand your disappointment Mammon. However, MC wrote so highly about you in their report, that I’m sure you will be able to handle the work on your own until they cycle back to your department.”
“Don’t interpret that as your excuse to slack off,” Lucifer warned, “MC is an intern, not your babysitter. If you refuse to do your job again you will continue to face me.”
“Oh? MC seems to be somewhat of a reward then?” Barbatos smirked behind his hand. You weren’t too sure how you felt being treated like a prize, but based on how warm and brown Mammon’s ears had gotten as he blushed, you decided to try and put his mind to ease.
“I promise you Mammon, I’ll be back to help you before you know it. Just wait for me.”
Asmo lowered his at that remark, ooing with delight, “Oh my! That was quite the romantic line just now! MC, Mammon, is there something going on between the two of you?”
Now that got you to blush. You whipped around to Diavolo and Barbatos with an explanation ready, but Diavolo just laughed.
“Asmo, there will be plenty of time to prod MC about their love life when they’re in your department, I promise. We were actually discussing before you arrived how they were settling in with all of you. I was thinking perhaps we’ve been working our intern a bit too hard, and was thinking about giving all of you a day off to do something together.”
Lucifer scoffed at the idea, and a brief bit of hurt pierced you. Sure, you hadn’t had much time to talk to them all, but you didn’t think your brief moments with Lucifer had been that unbearable. The few times you had talked while walking to work or getting groceries afterwards, was he merely maintaining niceties to make his time spent guarding you less terrible?
Before you could say anything, Diavolo continued.
“Well, that’s something for the future to think about. I can see some of you aren’t the most enthusiastic right now, and perhaps it's just the morning hours. Liven up all of you! Maybe I’ll make it a mandatory teamwork building event or something… But! Back to the matter at hand. MC, we were originally going to have you work in the sports department with Beel, but decided that it would be better to have you go to the gaming and entertainment division. Levi has a lot more work he has to oversee, so you might be there for a while,” Diavolo smirked.
You glanced around the room in search of Leviathan, “That’s fine and I promise I’ll do my best but... Where is he? I don’t know what floor his department is on.”
“You won’t find it in this building,” Barbatos said, “The gaming and entertainment division is very large, so it has its own building and multiple studios.”
“I’ll never understand why you put him in charge of something that big, Dia,” Mammon remarked, “It’s not like he’s gotten anything done since working there..”
“As if you’re one to talk, Mammon,” Lucifer grabbed a fistful of Mammon’s collar and shoved him lightly against the wall, and then hissed, “And do not speak disrespectfully like that to Lord Diavolo again.”
“It’s quite alright, Lucifer! Mammon is right to some extent after all,” Diavolo eased before turning back to you, “That is actually part of the reason we’re assigning you to Levi’s department instead of Beel’s. He does have a tendency to hole himself up in his office and lose track of time, but recently we’ve been having more difficulties with him than usual. I know it’s technically outside of what you are supposed to be doing as part of your internship, but you did such a good job with Mammon, I was hoping you might be able to get Levi out of whatever slump he’s currently in.”
“I understand, and I don’t mind,” you lied, thinking to yourself about why Diavolo or Lucifer hadn’t marched down there and chewed Leviathan out for skipping his work like they often did with Mammon, “But what should I be reporting on while I’m there? With Mammon I just did an overview of all the finances, but when I talked to Solomon, he seemed to have more information about the Celestial Corporation’s specific projects. Should I be focused more on something like that?”
Lucifer held out a manila folder towards you, but kept his other arm wrapped around his torso, his hand tucked into his side “Since the entertainment division is much more extensive than the financial or service departments, I took the liberty of preparing a summary of what you will need to know. You may only be exposed to a few of them, but in the event you need to take on more responsibilities again, I thought it would be best for you to have an idea of them all.”
You opened the folder and skimmed over the first few pages, “Wow, Lucifer. This is really detailed. Thank you!”
“Wonderful, now, we don’t have any reason to think any paparazzi would be outside to try and corner MC, but since it is a bit of a walk to the entertainment building, would one of you be willing to accompany them?” Diavolo looked to the wall of brothers. Mammon stepped forward.
“I’ll do it. Levi might try and hide if he knows we’re coming, but I’ve got a pretty good plan of how to get MC inside.” He smirked.
Standing in the now lit tiny storage closet space, you could see that Leviathan had converted the place into somewhat of a functional lounge. Functional if you considered that it only had enough space for one person, with the black leather couch barely wedged in between two metal shelves that lined either side of the room. The television screen was actually just a big computer monitor, resting on some boxes that were acting as a makeshift table. All the shelves were covered in various anime figurines and DVDs, and posters of 2D girls covered the little wallspace that remained.
It was impressive, but also very creepy. Leviathan sat in here all day in the dark?
“Hey, so, why do you always walk into the main building if you actually work over here-” you started to say, but there was the sound of the door locking behind you and then Leviathan was leaping over the couch, rushing the door with a scream wailing from his lungs.
“Mammon?! What are you doing?! Why did you bring the normie here? Let me out!” He banged his fist against the door frantically, and through the small window pane on the door, you saw Mammon smirk as he strutted away, the keyring spinning around his finger before smoothly stopped it by catching it in his fist. He was eating it up, tormenting Leviathan like this.
“How could you let the normie see my sinful collections?! What am I going to do?! They’re going to judge me, only because they won’t understand, and then put me down because of all my Ruri-chan figurines! I can’t focus while they’re here! Please, let me out! Unlock the door and-”
“Um, Leviathan? He’s already left.” You pointed out. The man froze and like a creaking robot, turned his head slowly to look through the window. When he saw his brother missing, he screamed, and practically melted to the floor in a puddle.
It was really pathetic. You felt bad thinking that though, as you probably knew the least about Leviathan out of everyone you lived with, and you had caught some of what he had been yelling amongst the metal door banging. Glancing around the shelves, you leaned close and stared at one figurine of the girls.
“Hey, since you’re the entertainment department, does that mean you guys make this stuff too?”
“Don’t just try and act like it’s normal that you’re locked in here with me!” Leviathan sprang to his feet and back to life to throw an accusatory finger your way, “Why are you even here anyway?”
“Because Diavolo assigned me to work here?”
“I thought you were working with Beel next!”
“I was supposed to, but apparently you were causing trouble so they sent me to keep an eye on you.”
“Keep an eye on me?” He sputtered aghast, “I’m not Mammon!”
“I know,” you nodded, not giving much of a reaction, “but you’re behind in at least several projects, at least according to this file Lucifer gave me. I didn’t get to read all of it through yet, so I don’t know everything you’ve been overseeing. But, if you guys make video games and anime, I’m assuming you also finance all the merch that comes from it? Or is that a separate division outside of entertainment?”
You poked one of the skirts of the plastic magical girls, and Leviathan stomped on over to rip it away from you, “Don’t touch that!” he hissed, holding it carefully in his hands, “But, yes, we design, manufacture, and sell all the products that come from our anime and video game media. At least, we managed it all. But this is not one of our products! This is a limited-edition Ruri-chan figurine that came with the first press of her debut album, featuring music from the idol anime spin off- Ruri-chan Happy Music Live! Don’t touch!”
You skimmed the lines of figurines covering each shelf, “Are these… all Ruri-chan products?”
“Yes! It’s one fifth of my entire collection.”
“One fifth? What happened to the other four fifths?”
“They’re at home. I wouldn’t dare bring my super-rare figurines here. They could easily get stolen or destroyed.”
Are they really that rare if you have four fifths of them? You thought to yourself as Leviathan set the figurine back in its rightful spot on the third shelf. Once he was done, he started to jump over the couch and grab ahold of the controller he had dropped when you entered. You hovered behind the couch and watched as he restarted the game, pulling the headphones up and zoning into the game. A minute passed as you watched the character on the screen dance and spin as it ran along the side-scrolling map. The manila folder full of information Lucifer had given you weighed heavily in your arms and on your mind.
“Um, Leviathan… Don’t you have a meeting in thirty minutes?”
“Hm?” He asked, not even removing a headphone, even though you could hear the music blasting from underneath it, “Oh yeah, I guess.”
“It’s with the developers at Studio B. Lucifer wrote that they reported you had cancelled the last six meetings with them. Shouldn’t you go and approve whatever they need checked so they can move forward with the game?”
He didn’t respond.
“Leviathan? Leviathan!” You had been forceful with Mammon, but that was because you already felt as though you had crossed a certain bridge with him. Leviathan was different, you had no idea what attitude would trigger what kind of reaction. You called his name a few more times, anxiously peeking around him to see if he was even paying attention. He didn’t even spare you a side glance. He was completely focused on the game now.
You reached forward and pulled one headphone away from his ear, “Leviathan!”
“What?” He rudely asked as he paused the game and whipped around. Well, that provoked an annoyed reaction, you noted. Better not do that again unless absolutely necessary.
“Aren’t you going to the meeting?”
“What? Of course not!”
“Of course- not? What do you mean? It’s your job to go there!”
“I’ve skipped before, I can skip again. Just tell them to reschedule.”
“Didn’t you hear me? This is the seventh time they’ve tried to meet with you. Don’t you think that’s a little rude? They have deadlines you know!”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t matter if they meet them or not. No matter what, the game they’re making is gonna be crap anyway.”
He started to turn back to the game, but you reached out and caught his shoulder, forcing him to turn to face you. He shrugged you off.
“How do you know that? Have you even seen the game?”
“I’ve seen enough from the early concept stages to know. Those guys are just making a cash grab, there is no care going into that shitty mobile game. It’s not worth my time.”
You flipped through the folder to the information about the meeting, and frowned.
He ignored you.
You closed the folder resolutely, “Leviathan!”
“Studio B isn’t the ones working on the mobile game, they’re the ones working on the VR game for the Devilstation.”
“So? You just proved you don’t know anything about the game they’re making! How can you judge it if you don’t even know what’s going on! Have you ever even seen the concept for the game?!”
“Yes, I have! I gave it the approval three months ago!”
“No, you didn’t! It says the meeting you keep putting off is the one for the approval of their new concept! You reject their last proposal!”
“Why are you yelling at me? Why does this even matter?”
“Because you’re obviously wrong and you don’t even realize it! Mammon was irresponsible but at least he knew what he was doing! How did you even get this job if you don’t even know what’s going on with the people who are working for you?”
He stood up on the couch and with fists clenched, shouted down at you.
“Hey! I am qualified for this job, and I know exactly what I’m talking about! I’ve watched, read, and played every Ruri-chan and TSL media and all the spin-offs, fangames, and been a spokesperson at three events regarding TSL! I’ve even programmed my own fangame! So, I think I’m able to speak on the fact that the game they are producing is absolutely terrible and they should stop wasting their time trying to get approval and instead understand my message that any idea they present is terrible! Then, we can all move on.”
You stared at him with a level gaze, watching as he breathed deeply from the sudden exertion, his face red with anger as he glared daggers down at you. After a moment, it hit you, and you blurted out-
“Oh, I get it. Lucifer got you the job.”
Leviathan’s jaw dropped.
“It makes sense, I mean. I wasn’t sure about the others, because I haven’t seen much of their work, but I can tell that even though your jobs all match your interests, you all have terrible management skills. You and Mammon at least. I’m still holding out on the other ones. I honestly don’t understand how he got you all such high ranking jobs, but it’s impressive to say the least.”
He was still just gaping at you. You continued.
“I mean, if I was someone in your position, I would be super thankful to be put in charge of so many creative projects. I would want to make sure they were the best they could be, since people could trace all the decision making back to me if they were bad. Besides, even if something seems like a simple cash grab, a lot of work still goes into making that happen, right? I’m sure no matter the project, there are plenty of people in this company who work on it and love it, and so it’s extremely disrespectful to them to ignore their hard work like that.”
“What… What do you care? You’re just an intern! You’re just here to take notes! If you’re so concerned with what’s going on, then go see it yourself! You don’t need me!”
“I care because it’s affected my hard work too. I was sent here specifically because you’ve been causing trouble, and so part of my job is not just to take notes, but to see what’s going on. Now, this might just be a guess,” you said, glancing around at the figurines again, “but I’m going to assume Lucifer doesn’t know you’ve been hiding in here, right?”
Leviathan flinched, and you knew you had hit the nail on the head.
“I’m surprised Mammon hasn’t sold you out yet. But, Lucifer is so dedicated to keeping the company working smoothly for Diavolo, I can only wonder what he would do if he found out about what you’ve been doing in here.”
“Oh, but I would,” you tried to ignore the threatening glint in his eyes, “Listen, I still don’t have much stake in my work here, but I don’t want to get embarrassed or fired because I could’ve put in a little more effort if I had tried. I’m sure the same is for you. Don’t you realize what a fortunate position you’re in? I think you should at least be a bit more open minded and try and see what the studios are working on.”
“What are your terms?” His voice was low and seething. He was still so focused on the threat of his precious collection being harmed, but at least that kept him at the disadvantage.
“Simple. We attend the meeting today. I come with you, and I get to see a glimpse into what’s going on here. Then, we take it from there. I’ll let you come back here and game a little bit or whatever you choose to do as long as you make an effort to attend a few of your obligations, and I get some notes on it.”
He continued to eye you over.
“Think about it this way,” you added, “the sooner we fool them into thinking you shaped up, the sooner I’m out of your hair.”
“Fine,” Leviathan said, stepping down off the back of the couch and onto the seat before he stood on the floor. You started to sigh in relief, but he held his finger in front of your face, “is what I would say, but you seem to have forgotten that Mammon locked us in here. We can’t leave unless he comes back.”
You started to reach into your bag, slipping the folder inside, “You promise you’ll attend the meeting once the door is open?”
“Yes,” he sighed and crossed his arms with a groan, “They’ll keep sending you back here everyday regardless. So might as well save myself the headache.”
“Good,” you said, and pulled out a key before walking over to the door and unlocking it. You pushed it open and started to step outside, “Now, let’s- stop screaming it’s just a key? Let’s go.”
“Nevermind me having the key,” you said a few minutes later as the two of you took the elevator down to the first floor, “Why didn’t you just break the lock with a kick? I mean, Lucifer mentioned you all were trained bodyguards, unless I’m mistaken and you don’t do cool things like that.”
Leviathan did a double take, “Lucifer told you about that?”
“Yeah? I mean, it was a bit surprising when I realized I was living with a bunch of highly trained people, but it makes sense since Diavolo only made me live with you all for my protection.”
“Oh, I see,” Leviathan said, “That’s why he brought it up.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s nothing, nothing,” he waved dismissively, “Yeah, I used to be trained in defense, and I know how to kick a door down, but to be honest, I’ve lost a lot of my muscle when it comes to stuff like that. It’s been… maybe two years since I’ve had to use it.”
He stared at his hands for a moment, and then threw a mock punch with his right. It flew through the air easily and strong, the motion making his bangs tousled a little. A small smile twitched at his lips as he pulled the hand back and looked at his fists again.
“It’s been a while… It feels nice to know I can still do cool stuff like that.”
The elevator dinged and the two of you stepped out onto the lobby floor. Studio B was located in another sub-building of the Devildom company. Most of them were on the same block, like how the entertainment building’s skyscraper was just next door to the main one, but Studio B was a smaller building a few streets down. As you walked across the lobby towards the big glass doors you had come to associate with every building the Devildom Corporation operated, you noticed Leviathan hiding his eyes behind a hand as he walked quickly across the large expanse of the first floor. You paused to watch him speed ahead, and it was then you realized there were a lot of people staring.
That’s just what you get when you shirk your responsibilities and are a ghost within your own office, you thought.
Leviathan was struggling to open the door, frantically pushing or pulling at it when he turned to you, only to notice you were staring aimlessly in the center of the lobby.
“What are you doing zoning out? Help me already!” He shrieked. You watched him jump a foot in the air when another employee opened the door from the other side, only to nearly be knocked over by Leviathan as he zoomed outside of it. You shook your head and jogged across the lobby to the outside, feeling bad for the fish out of water Leviathan was acting like, and your confusion worsened at the way Lucifer had managed to get him such a high profile job in the first place.
“It’s Levi, by the way,” he said when you had fallen into sync as you followed the sidewalk, “Calling me Leviathan is gross. Too formal. Makes me sound like a normie.”
You scrunched up your nose, “Saying normie makes you sound like a nerd. But fine, Levi it is.”
You ignored his insulted expression.
“So, you never answered my original question.”
“The one I asked right as you started clawing at the door,” you rolled your eyes, “Why do I always see you go into the main building if you work in that one? You also only ever leave out of the main building, from what I’ve seen. It’s weird.”
“It’s not that weird at all. It’s just that the main building’s cafe only serves the stuff I like.”
Oh. Well that did make sense.
“But, I do sneak through the back of each building to get to my office. That’s why everyone in the lobby was staring at me. I don’t think they’ve seen me in over a year unless they caught a glimpse of me waiting in line in the main building.”
“Why don’t you just go through the main doors? Isn’t it easier than sneaking around?”
Levi scratched the back of his head and groaned, “Geez, you don’t understand at all. If I just walked through the main doors, I would get instantly bombarded by all these secretaries and workers with paperwork to sign and meetings to attend. How do you think I’ve managed to avoid all my responsibilities until you showed up? No one even knew where to find me. Ugh, except Mammon.”
“How did he find you?”
“Pure coincidence,” He ran a hand over his face, “He’s an idiot, and was wandering around the building one day when he was slacking off. He found a door that was locked and tried to break it down because it annoyed him. Nearly gave me a heart attack.”
You burst out laughing, “I can see him doing just that!”
“You already did. Earlier today,” Levi pouted.
“No, no, I mean-” you paused and sucked in a gulp of air as you tried to quiet your laughter, “Growing frustrated at the door. He would walk just like this,” you stuck your hands in your pockets, bent your knees and slouched back, and then waddled almost as you strutted forward with the most intimidating, delinquent glare you could muster, “Huh? What’s this for? Oh? Hey! No door stands in the way of the Great Mammon!”
You pretended to kick the door open, nearly kicking Levi in the process as he stopped right as your leg cut through the air. You put your leg back down and stood back up to your full height, hiding a laugh behind your hand as you smiled at him, “He’s always acting like that, isn’t he?”
For a moment, Levi just stared at you. It was a warm fall day, and the sun was still steadily climbing it’s way up in the sky. The wind wove in between the two of you and rustled your hair and clothes a bit as it seemed to whirlwind around you for a moment, and that was when he became entranced.
It wasn’t until he noticed you staring back at him expectantly did he shake himself out of his stupor, a goofy, awkward smile warping his face, and inwardly he cursed himself for how stupid he must have looked, but he couldn’t get the smile to go away.
“Yeah. You captured him perfectly. He’s always been hardheaded and dumb like that.”
“That may be so, but deep down he’s rather smart,” the two of you began to walk again, “It was a hassle managing him in finances, and I’m thankful for a break from that, but he really does know what he’s doing. He taught me a lot.”
“Must have been inadvertently,” Levi added, and then it was quiet again between the two of you. Perhaps you had both exhausted all your energy with all your yelling this morning, but it was a more peaceful quiet, not a tired one.
The trees that framed the sidewalk began to multiply as you got closer to the studio. You were still very much in the city, but like everything on the other side of Purgatory Bridge, things began to slowly fade back into less industrialism the further you walked. The city mirrored itself, starting with foliage and small buildings on it’s edges of east and west, slowly crawling in to bigger, higher climbing towers until they stopped peppering the concrete and instead curved like a dome underneath the sky. When two people walked from either side of the city, and met in the middle, everything evened out though, returning to a quaint, more neutral old fashioned city, like ones you had always dreamed about visiting in Europe.
“So, if you don’t want anyone to know you’re working, why didn’t you take me through the back door to exit? I wouldn’t have minded.”
“You say that, but you would probably have asked questions. You were still hyped up on your power trip,” Levi mumbled, “But, it’s mainly because I was worried Barbatos might be watching you.”
That made you stop, “What do you mean?”
“He’s Diavolo’s bodyguard at home, yes, but while Lucifer is watching over Diavolo at work, he likes to be… shifty sometimes. I’m sure he knows about where I’ve been hiding out, and maybe Diavolo knows too, but for some reason neither of them told Lucifer, because he surely would have to come to drag me out by now. But, Barbatos likes to watch the security cameras, and I know he’s been doing it extra often since you arrived and everyone is worried about you getting attacked by some crazy person on the street who wants a chance to meet Solomon King.”
“I mean, it’s not a bad thing if he’s looking out for me, right?”
“No, but it’s just annoying. There aren’t a lot of cameras near the doors I normally take, so if you suddenly disappeared off his radar when I was walking with you, he would get suspicious immediately. I swear that guy can teleport too. I don’t need him giving me a heart attack by appearing outside the door when I try and leave.”
Levi walked a bit ahead of you, and you took the opportunity to pull out your phone and shoot a quick message to Barbatos.
This might be a weird question, but- are you watching me?
The response was almost instantaneous.
You turned towards a building you had just passed by. Was that one owned by the Devildom Corporation? You squinted at one of the security cameras on the side of the building.
Can you see me right now?
Unfortunately, not since you left the entertainment building with Levi. I’m trusting he won’t do anything untold to you, as I do not have access to the cameras in the studio you are going to either.
...You can’t like, hack my phone’s camera and see what I’m doing either, can you?
No, and I would never do such a thing. Especially not invade your privacy.
Isn’t spying on me while I’m at work an invasion of my privacy?
Not since you signed the contract. :)
You opened your camera and shuffled over under some trees, raising your hands in a peace sign for a photo. You nearly dropped it when Levi called your name from down the street, and ended up only getting a photo of your eyes up with the trees above you. Well, at least your hand was still in the shot. You quickly captioned it and sent it off, hurrying after Levi who was about to turn the corner.
“What were you doing? You were the one who was going about how we were going to be late before!”
Inside the dark security room, Barbatos’ phone lit up with a new message. He swiped it open.
Look! Even though it’s October, these trees are still green!
That they are. Now, good luck at your meeting.
He watched your form turn a corner on the camera feed, and then you were gone.
Studio B was a two story building built against a black metal fence that outlined the slopes of another part of the bay that forked its way through the city. The building was made of a cream colored plaster like material, its walls bumpy and its windows simple. It reminded you more of something you would find in the city’s center, perhaps it had been built a long time ago before all this metal and steel took over and was left behind on this edge. As you walked up to the building, you noticed around the other side of it was another bridge. You stepped around Levi, who asked where you were going, and stopped once you could see it.
You had lived here for over two years and somehow had never known about this place.
It was beautiful.
The red and orange birch trees that had started to line your path practically exploded into a forest just beyond the large, cobblestone bridge that curved over the river. The ground was covered with the bright, fiery red leaves and the water was cradling the few strangling yellow oak ones that floated down to touch its surface. There were elegant, stone benches that stood sturdy and strong and untouched against the leaves that circled around their feet, and despite the seemingly endless reach of the fingers of the bleeding leaves, your eyes still managed to find the simple, stone path that stretched from the bridge to the back of this land, ending in the distance where several skyscrapers rose out from beyond the treeline.
“Come on,” Levi said, grabbing your wrist and tugging you towards the entrance of the studio, “The meeting is starting.”
“What’s over there? It’s so pretty!”
“That’s the Celestial Corporation’s property,” he said hurriedly, “Come on.”
The last thing you caught a glimpse of was a shadowy figure standing up from one of the benches in the distance before the side of the studio cut in front of your vision and then you were being tugged inside.
You followed Levi through the halls of the building, a bit surprised by the dinghy tile flooring and flickering greenish, yellow lights that reminded you of the haunting, empty backrooms of your college. It wasn’t spooky, per se, but it was somewhat unsettling. A high tech game was being made in this crummy place?
Your eyes found themselves drawn to the posters lining the walls of the hall. Most of them were of unfamiliar, but still very gorgeous and colorful, game art. Posters promoting games old and new were neatly smoothed over the white walls alongside sides pointing to what was beyond each door that was hidden inside a small indent to right every few steps. Eventually, Levi led you to a staircase.
“This studio is small but it houses both game development and animation. Don’t let it’s size fool you, they’ve produced a lot of the best series in recent years.”
That left you puzzled. Why did he refuse so many meetings and say all their ideas were crap then?
You started up the stairs when you noticed a different set of posters with more familiar characters staring back at you.
“Hey! Isn’t this Ruri-chan? I thought you said that those figurines weren’t made by you guys?”
Levi was around the bend, paused on the stairs above the platform you were on still running your hand across the surface of the poster. His face twisted into an ugly scowl when you mentioned that, and he scoffed.
“We don’t. Ruri-chan is a Celestial Corporation character. Studio B works for the both of us. They’re not allowed to make anything Ruri-chan for us.”
Without another word, he continued up the stairs, leaving you frozen on the landing. His words had been simple, but the way he practically spat them at you made you want to recoil and walk back down the stairs.
You suddenly became very worried.
I hope I didn’t put him in a bad mood for his meeting.
“Levi! What was that all about?” You asked, chasing after him as he stormed out of the building, “Why were you so rude to them?”
“Just shut up already! I told you already, you don’t know anything about what I’m doing here!”
“You’re the one who needs to shut up! I don’t need to understand what you were talking about to know that you were completely out of line just now!”
The people at the meeting had been surprised and delighted to see Levi, at first. It was obvious from the moment you stepped in, they were anxiously waiting, most of them with their heads bowed, tapping their fingers or twiddling their thumbs. They all snapped to attention when Levi entered the room, and immediately everyone was running around, desperate to please. Chairs were offered and held out for the two of you, and while Levi flopped down angrily into his, you thanked the weary looking developers who then hurried to get their presentation running as they passed the file of concept art over to Levi.
From what you could gather, it was some magical girl VR game, meant to debut a new character for the Devildom Corporation to compete with the success of the Celestial Corporation’s newest Angel Fighter line of girls. (Newest being nearly a year ago with the delay caused by Levi’s laziness.)
They weren’t even thirty minutes into their explanation of the changes they had made in regards to their last meeting- months ago, you reminded yourself- to try and please Levi’s vision of the project, when Levi sat back in his chair and crumpled up the beautiful artwork in his hand before punctuating it with the statement:
“It’s trash, again. Are you seriously going to waste my time like this?”
The developers looked horrified.
“We’re so sorry, sir. We tried to take your suggestions into account, but we didn’t hear from you for a while, so we may have gotten a little ambitious and tried to work ahead of schedule. If you could tell us where we went wrong-”
Levi pushed himself out of the chair and held the crumpled up artwork out before dramatically dropping it on the table, “I told you before, nothing you make has been good enough. The story’s too plain, the artwork doesn’t make me feel anything compared to your previous works. The main character’s design looks rushed as hell. I gave you an extra six months of time and you waste it doing this? I’m leaving.”
You took the time to smooth out the concept art he had crushed before bowing and apologizing to the developers a thousand times, telling them you would talk to him. You didn’t miss the poor art director sitting in the corner of the room, looking like she was about to burst into tears as you left. You raced back the way you had come and found Levi outside, nearly running him over as you charged him.
“Don’t you realize that they can drop our project at any time? If they’re as high profile as you say they are, they probably don’t need our money! You could lose the development of the game and cost the Devildom Corporation so much for nothing!”
“Get away from me,” Levi spat, “Is all you care about money? You sound like Mammon now. Maybe you lost a few brain cells hanging around him for so long.”
He continued to march away from you. You were left in the center of the street, surrounded by the green trees, but waited until he turned the corner to scream.
“I’m not going away, you know,” you told him a week later, when you stood behind him in his office as he tuned you out as a rhythm game blasted from the headphones, “You still have other meetings to attend. I can’t keep subbing in for you. I don’t have the authority to make decisions for the company.”
He got a perfect combo on the screen. The Ruri-chan model in the background did a cartwheel and then jumped into the air as the background changed.
Another week passed.
“I’m being nice and not telling Lucifer about this. I’ve got the feeling that he’ll break all the figurines in sight if he finds out what you did. I don’t want a guilty conscience, but you need one. You have to apologize to the developers for what you did.”
He may have punched the buttons on the controller harder when you spoke, but you couldn’t really tell. Maybe your brain supplemented that image into your vision to keep you sane. The idea that he heard you and was annoyed was better than him pretending you didn’t exist.
“I’m going to your meeting with movie directors for the live action adaptation of… one of the mangas you guys own. I forget which one is which at this point. I guess in your position you are just supposed to make sure the things being released by the producers beneath you aren’t going to damage the company’s image. I mean, seriously, why do you hold so much power over a video game’s production? I’m not letting up about that, by the way.”
You opened the door back into the hallway, letting some light into the storage room that had been cloaked in darkness for three weeks now.
“I left the new art and concept for it on the couch. Give it a read through when you can. Luckily, they’re just copies, so you can’t do any more damage to it.”
You cast him one last glance before shutting the door. It rattled into place, and then there was the faint sound as the doorknob was released, and the latch bolt slid back into place.
Your footsteps faded down the hall. Levi tugged his headphones off, and glanced at the file.
“...Because Lucifer gave me this power, that’s why…”
He mumbled, putting his headphones back on, and going back to his game.
“Are things seriously still that bad with Levi and you?” Mammon asked as you worked at your desk. You had been getting dangerously behind on assignments with how much you had been picking up after Levi, emailing people back and forth in his stead even after hours, even skipping a few classes or leaving early so you could make a meeting he was supposed to attend.
“It’s been almost a month now, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to go to Diavolo and Lucifer about it, but I’m supposed to meet with Solomon soon with my next report.”
“Why don’t you want to talk to them about it? Scared Lucifer will break Levi’s collection? From what you’ve told me, it sounds like he deserves it at this point.”
Mammon started to sit up, flinging himself upright from where he had been laying upside down off your bed. You held up a hand without looking over your shoulder.
“Don’t. You doing it will just cause more problems.”
“But, you’re obviously frustrated! You can’t let him walk all over you like that! Let me help you!”
“Then help me by thinking of a way I can get through to him. I don’t want to go to Diavolo about it because at this point it’s gone on for too long. He’ll wonder why I wasted this much time before talking to him about it, and then he might get disappointed in me because he really believed I could handle this task. He tasked me with helping Levi shape up, and he said it was a lot of work, so what was I supposed to expect? It’s exactly what he warned me about! I don’t want to look incompetent after he trusted me to do something. I would just… feel like I failed.”
You turned back to scribble away at your assignment. Mammon got up to stretch his muscles.
“You sound like the type of person who takes full control of any group project.”
“You would be right,” you smirked, “But, guess who gets near perfect grades!”
“I’ve seen your transcript, babe. Only someone as crazy as you would consider your average ‘near perfect’. You must be a pain to have in class.”
“‘Babe’?” You asked, quirking an eyebrow. Mammon looked away nervously.
“What? Don’t think about it too much! A-anyway, just… don’t tell Diavolo or Lucifer.”
“Believe me, I’m not. I feel like Barbatos knows already though. But, I’m on his good side, so I’m sure he’ll keep quiet. But, back to the matter at hand, what do you think I should do?”
“About Levi? I told you already, you’re just going to have to tell Diavolo you’ve tried your best, but you're stuck. There’s no getting through to Levi when he’s like this. Besides, it’s getting really weird how you two don’t answer anyone’s questions at dinner. Lucifer has to know at this point.”
“If I could just get him to look at me, I would feel less frustrated! I mean, I would unplug that dumb game of his, but since you’re all super good at combat, I’m worried he might strangle me.”
“Do you want me in the room when you do? It’s my job to protect you after all.”
“Sure. You and Levi are both twigs though. I’m not entirely sure what you would be able to do.”
“Hey! Have a little more faith in me!”
“I do, I do. But, before I even think about unplugging that, I need to figure out what I’m going to say. He’s just going to ignore me if I tell him what to do again. I need to get more creative with my approach.”
Mammon perked up at that. He moved to your side and crouched down to whisper in your ear.
“I’ve got an idea. So what if you.... And then, if that fails… I’ll be ready to…”
Levi wouldn’t have flinched if you had kicked open his office door. He did, however, nearly bash his head on his ceiling from how high he jumped when you slammed open his bedroom door and stormed in with Mammon in tow, rushing over to his monitor and unplugging it and everything connected to it before you practically ripped the other wires out of the outlet on the wall.
“Hey!” he shouted when he saw what you were doing, but settled against the back of his chair with only a smug glare, “It doesn’t matter if you do that. The game is constantly autosaved. I didn’t lose anything.”
“No, but you are going to lose soon!”
“What?” He looked up at you skeptically as you folded your arms and stood above him confidently, “What are you talking about?”
He glanced at Mammon from around your figure before he looked back up at you. You were smiling huge, and it was honestly frightening him a little. Some laughter whistled through your teeth as you took a deep breath and confidently said-
“I’m challenging you to a game!”
I apologize if there are any inconsistences between this chapter and previous ones. Although I have the main outline for events within the story planned out, the chapters are very long and so some small details get lost in all the dialogue sometimes. (I was all just excited to get this chapter out that I wanted to release it without having to read the first three chapters again to double check little things.) I know this chapter was less of the mystery and more reintroducing the characters and developing them in the AU setting, but I hope you still enjoyed it! This is my first time writing a series, long multichaptered AU, and so I'm trying my hardest to deliver on the narrative I've been wanting to write. I hope to get the next chapter out sooner. Thank you for reading!
MC begins training for the bet they made with Levi and worries everyone while they're at it.
Sorry for the delay in this chapter! I hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“A bet? What are you talking about?” Levi nearly dropped his game controller when MC had gotten closer to him. The red of the game-over screen flashed brightly behind them, creating an ominous appearance as they loomed above him.
“I’m challenging you to a game! If I win, then you will apologize to the game developers at Studio B-”
“Apologize? It’s been almost a month! They’re over it by now-”
“I don’t care! If I win you will listen to me and do your job.”
“And what do I get if I win?”
“Then…” MC pressed their lips into a thin line, “Then I’ll leave you alone. I’ll ask Diavolo to switch me into Beel’s department. I’ll tell them I failed to fix the issues within the entertainment apartment and apologize. I’ll be out of your hair then.”
“Failed? What are you talking about?” Levi looked up at MC confused.
"Never mind that, it’s not important. What is important is the game. To get you to agree to the terms, I have decided you can select the game we will be playing to settle this bet.”
Levi grinned wickedly at that, “I get to decide the game? Well then-”
“Earth to MC? Are you there?”
You launched yourself forward as someone poked you in the forehead. Snapping out of your daydream, one hand snapping up to press against the forehead, the other gripping the edge of the bench as you tried to not fall off. Glancing around, your eyes eventually landed on the blonde man standing beside you.
“Satan? Geez, don’t scare me like that,” you complained as you sat back on the stone bench.
“Apologies,” he chuckled, adjusting the books in his arms, “However, you didn’t answer me when I called your name, so I thought you might be asleep.”
“With my eyes open? Gross, I would never.”
Satan didn’t sit down but leaned against the side of the bench’s back with his hip, “I just got out of class. I was going to head straight back to the apartment, but Lucifer texted me you hadn’t returned home yet. Your class let out an hour ago, what are you still doing here?”
“I was just… thinking about things. I guess I lost track of time.”
When you had stepped out of your lecture hall, the sun was just setting over the treeline. Now, the sky had turned an azure blue that was swirling with pockets of navy and black clouds as night stretched over the city.
“You do that a lot, I’m noticing,” Satan laughed again, “It’s not a bad thing, I too find myself lost in thought whenever I learn something new that interests me. Was it something from class?”
You shook your head, trying to also shake free the memories of the millions of equations you had been forced to stuff inside your brain earlier. It reminded you too much of the time you spent in Mammon’s department, and although you did miss seeing Mammon that frequently, you did not miss the number of numbers you had to deal with.
“No, not class. It’s just,” you sighed, “Levi. Working with him has been so frustrating, and I’ve got another meeting with the Celestial Corporation intern soon, and I don’t know what I’m going to talk about since I’ve been so busy with-”
“The bet you made?” Satan flipped through one of his books absentmindedly, but looked up and gave you a smile when he saw your shocked expression, “I heard from Mammon, but don’t worry, Lucifer doesn’t know. Mammon only confided it in me because he was worried about how tired you’ve been lately. I’ve been too.”
The match was set for Monday. A week had almost passed.
“Ugh, do I look that bad? Thanks for keeping it quiet but I’m sure Lucifer and Diavolo already know.”
“They probably know something’s wrong but not what. If Lucifer heard about this bet, he would be reprimanding you for wasting sleep playing video games rather than sending me to check up on you. Diavolo values the company’s image, and would act if he heard an employee was suffering, so you can assume that Lucifer hasn’t told him that either. I think it’s safe to say the only people who know the truth of the matter are you, Mammon and me.”
“And Levi,” you groaned, throwing your head back.
“Yes, and Levi. But, he’s always been a bit distant between the rest of us, so he wouldn’t have told Lucifer either. Besides, if he had, that would make Lucifer pry into why the bet was made, and then Levi would ultimately be forced to do his work. But, and I know Mammon already told me about this, why don’t you just go to Diavolo or Lucifer about this problem?”
“I will, if I lose.”
“MC, you know what I mean. Why don’t you just skip all of this? You’re already exhausted, and it’s only Wednesday. Just go talk to Lucifer and ask him to intervene.”
“I can’t. You weren’t in the room when they assigned me. They specifically put me in Levi’s department because they thought I could fix whatever issue they couldn’t. They’re counting on me.”
“No, they’re not,” Satan moved to sit down, reaching out to place a hand on your shoulder and make you look at him, “I know I said Diavolo is kind, but he’s also manipulative. There are some parts of him I don’t trust, like how I don’t trust Lucifer. If you went to him about this issue right now, I’m certain he would intervene, but right now he’s using you. It’s more convenient for them to have you deal with this issue, but that’s not your job here, right?”
“They said it was outside of what I was hired for, but they said that was exactly why-”
“MC, listen to me,” Satan stared at you intensely, his eyes narrowing with some hidden anger burning deep inside, “I may not have known you for long, but I can tell you are a good person, and good people get taken advantage of. This internship position, it’s such a sloppy mess, it’s literally designed to shove all the responsibilities and feuds of these two companies on two people, but this is not a Celestial and Devildom dispute. It’s just someone who is supposed to be acting as your boss taking advantage of you. You shouldn’t have to resort to such underhanded methods to get him to do his job.”
“Satan, you’re absolutely right.”
“Of course I am!”
“But, I’m sorry,” the man gave you the biggest confused expression you had ever seen, “I can’t go back on this challenge now. If I went to Diavolo or Lucifer and got Levi in trouble, he might resent me forever. He’s already so temperamental, and I already barely talk to anyone at the apartment, but if I had to wake up everyday with someone angry or annoyed to see me, and then have to go to work with that, I would be even more miserable. Even though this bet is childish, I feel like it’s better that I challenge Levi this way. I barely know anything about him, but I know he likes games, so maybe this is how I’ll learn to communicate with him.”
You tried to flash Satan a reassuring smile, and although he obviously still wanted to protest, he relented and melted into a smile.
“Alright, I’ll support you in whatever happens. But, if I find out Leviathan did something unfair, I’ll make sure to get revenge for you. He doesn’t know that I know about the match, so I’m sure he’ll be very confused.”
You laughed wearily, shutting your eyes as you did and feeling relief at how much your eyes hurt from staring at screens day, “Thanks. But I promise you, even if I lose, I have a plan to make sure things work out in my favor.”
“So, what game did he challenge you to anyway?”
“Some rhythm game from the Celestial Corporation. It’s got his favorite character Ruri-chan in it. It’s on the computer, so I’ve been practicing without having to buy some big console, luckily…”
Your meeting with Solomon was scheduled the Friday before the match. You met again at one of the conference rooms in the Devildom’s building, but because Solomon had not leaked this meeting, security wasn’t as necessary as last time. Still, Leviathan was supposed to supervise you, but failed to show. Solomon showed up with some random Celestial grunt, who he quickly waved off once the meeting got started.
Once the two of you were alone, Solomon waited until you were done reading over his report before he leaned over the table with a cheshire glint in his eyes. You looked up over the folder of piles and eyed him back confused.
“So, what’s got you into late night gaming?”
You set the papers down with an exasperated sigh, “Who told you? Mammon?”
“No, no, none of your little confidants. I received a message from Asmodeus a few hours ago asking me to check up on you. He noticed your skin looked more tired than usual and found you passed out at your desk when he went to investigate the other day. He wanted me to look into it since I would be seeing you today. I assume you two haven’t had the chance to get to know each other yet.”
“And you seem awfully close with Asmodeus,” you snapped, “Why do you two know each other so well?”
Solomon was all too quick to put his hands up placatingly, “We don’t! We don’t! Like I told you before, we’re both influencers, and when they put me in the PR department I ended up looking into his profile some more. He must already know a great deal about me, or looked into me when it was announced that I was the other intern.”
You narrowed your eyes, “You could just say you follow each other, it’s not that unusual. It would be less shady.”
“True, true. But technically,” Solomon leaned in and whispered behind his hand, “Between the two of us, I’m not supposed to be fraternizing with anyone from your company.”
“What do you mean my company? Isn’t this program we’re in a partnership?”
“Exactly. However, I suspect there may be more going on than we both have been told. The day of our first meeting, I received a very strict and not at all subtle speech about how I was to remain professional the entire time.”
“Couldn’t that just be because you screwed up and made it a huge publicity stunt on your first day?”
“You wound me with your words,” he chuckled as he leaned back in the chair, “But, I don’t think it’s just that. You don’t know much about the Celestial and Devildom Corporations, correct?”
“No…? Is that so strange, though? I knew that some of the people from it were considered celebrities, but I didn’t think it was unusual for some people to not care about that stuff.”
“I’m not saying you’re wrong for not caring, personally most of the information that the public swallows up about it is just tabloids and gossip. But, you didn’t do any research upon getting the job offer?”
You shook your head. Solomon pressed his fingers delicately against his temples and sighed, but still maintained that slight smirk and mischievous look, “You really are an oddity. I can see why they chose you.”
“Just get to your point already. You of all people should know I’m too tired to deal with anything right now,” you crossed your arms and huffed, “Besides, some scout just insisted I apply. I’m a college student with very little money, so if someone was offering me a job and it was already a reputable company, I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I didn’t have time to do research between all my schoolwork.”
“And you still haven’t had the chance to do any research? They are certainly running you ragged, it seems.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Why don’t you tell me? What’s keeping you up late gaming?”
You glared at him harder, “Was this all a roundabout way to get me to confess what’s wrong?”
“No,” he smiled, “But you do admit there is something wrong, so, do tell.”
You threw your head back against the chair and Solomon muffled your scream of agony by slapping the file over your mouth. You swatted him away.
“Please be prudent not to cause a scene. I don’t want that Celestial pest coming back and checking on us.”
“Why? You want to slack off?”
“No, because I am hoping to give you a chance to rest. There are couches over there, why don’t you lie down and tell me what’s going on. I can look over your report and finish up what we need to do for both of our reports.”
“And why would you do that?”
He smiled that wide, narrow smirk again, and your phone buzzed in your pocket. As Solomon loomed over you, the black starry robe-like cardigan he wore concealed you from the glass doorway. You glanced at the message on your phone.
Solomon: We’re being watched. I can’t talk more about the C.C. here. Let’s discuss later.
You arched your eyebrow at him as you pulled your legs up onto the chair’s seat, “I can’t lie down. Barbatos will see me on the security cameras, and then I’ll get in trouble for sleeping on the job.”
“Oh? You know who is on the cameras? That makes it somewhat easier then.”
“Wait, what are you-”
Solomon turned around, the sheer dark fabric almost batting you in the face, and strutted towards the camera beside the doorway. It was then that you realized he had been blocking your phone from the camera too. What exactly did he think was going on that he had to be so secretive about it?
“Barbatos, is it?” Solomon addressed the small security camera hanging from the ceiling, “Would you be so kind as to not get MC in trouble for taking a short rest? If anything, it appears your company is overworking them and I am certain Mr. Mephisto would hate to have a news story to cover up about how his new intern passed out from exhaustion.”
“I’m not about to pass out, I told you, it’s-”
Your phone buzzed. You glanced down.
Barbatos: Of course. I won’t say a word.
A moment later came a selfie of the steward with his gloved finger in front of his lips as he sat bathed in blue light. It must be from all the monitors in front of him, you mused.
“Was that them? What did they say?”
“That you’re a very persuasive person. However, I still don’t feel right sleeping when I could be-”
Your phone buzzed again.
Barbatos: I know Milord has promised to give you a day off soon, but he can be rather forgetful. I recommend you take advantage of this opportunity while you are still able.
Before you could even respond, another text came through.
And I promise I will turn a blind eye to whatever the two of you speak about while you are, “asleep”, as it were.
Solomon leaned over the top of your phone and let out a gasp that was too dramatic for his soft spoken voice, “Woah, it seems you are very close with that security guard. You are doing good, already building important connections like that.”
You swatted him away again, getting up out of the chair and walking towards the couch.
“Oh? Are you giving up?”
“No, but I am relenting. It’s easier to just lay down than have to waste more energy bickering with you.”
You flopped down on the couch, making sure to slip off your shoes before swinging your legs up. Solomon slid the files down the table and sat in the chair closest to the couch before pretending to read through them.
“So, why don’t you finally tell me what’s going on?”
As if sensing your hesitation, another message came in from Barbatos.
Barbatos: To ease your mind, I overheard a few things in the audio from the footage I reviewed from a security camera outside of Leviathan’s bedroom. Milord is unaware of what you are scheming, though.
I thought you weren’t listening in?
Barbatos: I am always listening, but I just won’t report on anything I see. Unfortunately I cannot destroy or disable the footage for your conference room, in the event something terrible happened.
A text from Solomon came in. You resisted the urge to glare at him again across the room.
Solomon: We will have to talk about what I have found another time. I promise we will talk about it though.
“Ugh, fine,” you waved a hand in the air and knocked your head against the armrest, “Here’s what’s going on.”
You explained- or rather, complained- the whole situation to Solomon. From how Levi had been rude to the game developers to how you got stuck running your errands- that part being due to your own stubbornness, Solomon was quick to point out, and you resisted the urge to smack him- and finally to the bet Mammon had helped you make. You almost hoped that Barbatos was taking notes on all you were ranting about because saying it outloud again somehow made your blood boil even more, or perhaps it was just the sleep deprivation finally sinking in.
“I see,” was all the smug man said when you were finished, “and so, what is this other plan you have? The one you told Satan?”
“Oh, that? If I lose then when I go to Diavolo and Lucifer I’ll just sell out Leviathan. I may have said that I would ask to be swapped and admit my failures, but believe me, I’m taking him down with me, no matter what.”
“May I make a suggestion?”
“I may not know you well but you do seem to be a bit of a prideful person, at the very least stubborn-”
“-And so, I find it strange that your alternative plan does not have another win set for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m thinking, what if you had a more devious plan for getting Leviathan to do what you want? What if losing the game didn’t mean you actually lost?”
You furrowed your brow and squinted at the ceiling, “Just spit it out already. I’m too tired to sift through you convoluted words.”
“You want Leviathan to go to Studio B and apologize, correct?”
“But he won’t even go back there.”
“Yes, but he sounds like a rather spineless person. Sure, he puts on a big act, but you obviously flustered him when you first showed up and when you challenged him. He must not like confrontation. He was able to act cool when he walked in there and the developers were already very nervous, because he felt tough. He won’t feel that way if he gets dragged back there and forced to face them again, person to person, no artwork to critique.”
“Are you suggesting I actually drag him back there? In case you didn’t know, he’s a tall, fully grown man. I couldn’t drag him that way all by myself, he would definitely fight me before we even left the office.”
“Maybe so, but it seems you have two… allies in this fight that I’m certain wouldn’t have an issue if you asked for their help.”
You felt yourself starting to comprehend what Solomon was saying, but your tired brain was still struggling, “But if we dragged him out onto the street kicking and screaming, someone would definitely call the cops on us. Or at least alert Diavolo, and then I would have to face Lucifer either way.”
Solomon smiled over the report as he neatened the pages, “Do any of you have a driver’s license?”
You sat up at that, a smile creeping at your lips for just a moment as all the pieces of Solomon’s plan finally were pieced together. Perhaps his deviousness was washing off on you, which couldn’t be good if this was only your second time meeting. How much was working with this shady man going to corrupt you? You started to swing your legs over the couch and stand up, but quickly swayed and the world turned sideways.
Solomon caught you by the shoulder and pushed you back onto the couch with one hand.
“No need for action yet. Just take some time to think about it. I still need to read over a few more things, and I’ll take notes for the both of us. Rest now.”
You started to reach for your phone, but Solomon swiped that too, forcefully settling you down against the cushion.
“No screens for you for a while either. Asmodeus will probably kill me if your skin looks worse when you get home than it did before the meeting.”
“I still don’t believe what you said about that,” you said, folding your arms over your stomach as you got comfortable, “I want the truth about that too.”
“Yes, yes,” he said, leaning over to whisper again, your phone being taken negating the need for him to communicate that way through secrets, “I can talk to you about that when we talk, later. I am truly thankful your friend is choosing to tune out of this conversation, even after all of this.”
Solomon turned around and waved up at the camera again, and that was the last thing you saw before you passed out.
The day of the match came, and you slammed open that door and sat down next to Leviathan, ready to face him in the stupid rhythm game he had insisted on. He had already set up the console, and so he ushered you into step over the couch and dramatically gestured towards the screen as he set the mouse down in front of you.
You went first.
And then Leviathan went.
And you lost.
You weren’t sure what to expect. You had seen how intense and focused Levi was at his games, always scoring perfect combos with glittering text on screen even as you yelled at him to do work. You had known it was impossible, and had skipped practicing last night knowing this. You didn’t think you were giving up, but now as you stared back at the total of Levi’s score, the bright, colorful light of the flashing numbers casting over your face while the rest of you was swallowed up by the shadows of the room, you felt like you did.
You had let yourself become too entranced in the game though, having fun even with the stress tangling your heart every time you thought of the stakes of this match. The game was a pain to practice, but for some reason, when you had finished your turn, you felt a bit excited. Adrenaline was rushing off you, and you had gotten a personal best at your round. You wanted to play more, you thought, you wanted to play a lot more and get better and do this again. You had thought this up until Levi clicked ‘start’ on his round, and immediately blew you out of the water.
Now, you just felt stupid.
It was pathetic of you to think you could even beat him, as Levi was reminding you through his gloating. And it was even more pathetic for you to have entertained the idea of doing this again, as the scores had settled your fate, and Levi was finally going to be free of you and your harassment, as he continued to claim.
You stood up and climbed back over the couch, making your way to the door as you picked up your bag along the way. Levi’s fists pumping in the air cast frantic shadows across the door as you reached for the handle, he kept shouting out more and more demands for his win as you made to leave.
“And stay out of my room at home too! I don’t want to see you ever again!” Your back was to him, but you could see his finger point at you as the shadow stretched to the wall beside you. You stared at it for a moment, just resting your hand on the handle as you tried to empty your heart of that disappointing feeling. Does he truly hate me that much? Does he really want me to disappear from his life that badly?
There was movement outside the door, a glimpse of light coming through underneath the black paper that was always tugged down over the window. You lifted it slightly, seeing a bright phone flashlight waving before it disappeared.
A grin broke out across your face.
For all it’s worth, he can’t not hate me after what I’m about to do.
“Oh, don’t worry,” you began, turning the handle. The door started to creak open and you cast one more smug glance over your shoulder as you took in Levi’s confused face, “I won’t be bothering you at all again. Not after I win.”
The door slammed open and you practically leapt over the threshold onto the tile floor of the hall, spinning around and pointing into the dark room and shouted, “Satan! Mammon! Now!”
“What?!” Leviathan screamed as the two men rounded from either side of the doorway, their feet stampeding as they charged in and ambushed their brother. You glanced around to make sure no one was running down the hall at the commotion, with Levi’s indignant squawks growing louder as the brothers brought out some rope and wrestled him into some restraints.
You could see the struggle from over the couch, flailing limbs being forced into place before Satan shouted to you, “MC, get the stairwell ready! We’re going!”
You took off sprinting down the hall, speeding past the elevators and towards the back staircase Levi had often used to sneak into the building. Mammon and you had scouted it out using the security footage Barbatos had provided you with of the entertainment offices. You swung open the door and made sure no one was coming, and then waved your arm frantically as Satan and Mammon came rushing down the hallway, Levi bound and tucked under their arms with some duct tape hastily slapped over his mouth.
They slipped into the stairwell, and you bounded down alongside them to rush down the stories of emergency stairs and open the back door all the way at the bottom floor. Outside, there was a car waiting for you, the trunk open and waiting.
You burst outside into the back alley, a narrow street that was an offshoot of the bigger loading dock between the two offices. You nearly slammed the heavy metal door into the outside wall, and struggled to stand there and keep it open even as your adrenaline insisted you hop in the car and destroy the gas pedal. Your accomplices were still a few stories up, and you just had to hold onto that energy rush a little longer.
Once this was all done, you could finally sleep.
Solomon was right. Cheating was easier, and you didn’t even feel bad about it. Satan and Mammon finally came rushing out of the building and tossed Levi into the backseat before slamming the trunk closed. Mammon climbed into the driver’s seat while you and Satan clamoured into the passenger and the back seat respectively. Satan was to keep an eye on Levi in case his restraints came loose.
The SUV swerved as Mammon shifted the stick shift and slammed on the gas, sending you flying out the alley and onto the main road. You all gripped the seat as you began to make your way through the city, rushing towards Studio B. You heard Levi screaming through the tape as he was knocked around as the car jolted and turned, but were too focused on the sight of the white building in the distance.
Mammon stopped just beside the studio, parking the car as you all got out and rounded to the back of the car and opened the trunk. Satan and Mammon stood on either side of you, filling you with confidence. Satan reached forward and pulled off the tape.
“Are you fucking insane?” Levi screamed. You all instantly lunged to cover his mouth again.
“Listen to me!” You hissed, holding a finger to your lips, “I’ll admit it, okay, we went too far.”
“Too far-ack!” He was cut off by Satan repositioning his hands over his mouth, but Levi continued to struggle, “You kidnapped me!”
“Because you’ve been nothing but unreasonable! How do you expect to get any work done when you’re cursing out developers and avoiding your responsibilities! I’m trying to help you!”
“Help me?! You kidnapped me!”
“Look, I know it’s a terrible idea-”
“It’s a criminal offense! Untie me!”
“-But if we think about it, this is all really your fault because I’m on no sleep because of your actions so my decision making is poor. At the end of the day, this could’ve all been avoided if you just listened to me.”
“Listen to you? Why would I listen to you?! You’re fucking insane! All of you!”
“Look, Levi-” Mammon tried, “If you just be quiet and hear them out, we’ll promise to untie you.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“This whole thing started because you refused to speak with them. We’ve heard everything. If you just promise to remain calm, we’ll let you go.”
“I can’t believe you,” he grumbled, “You’re siding with the devil! How could you?!”
“Because you’ve been acting immature and gotten away with slacking off for too long,” Mammon said.
“You’re one to talk!” his voice broke as he squawked a grating note, and you covered your ears.
“Listen, I’m sorry, I know I went too far, but, I just want to talk to you. I knew I wouldn’t be able to beat you, and couldn’t deal with you shutting me out completely. We’ll untie you, I promise but, Mammon and Satan are here to help me in case you try to run or anything. Please, just hear me out.”
Levi glared at you as he struggled to sit up against his restraints. You just stared down at him pleadingly, and watched as he eventually relented and sighed.
“Fine, but get these off me already.”
“So,” he said a few minutes later, rolling his wrists as he tried to smooth out the skin that had been rubbed raw by him struggling against the rope, “I’m listening?”
“Okay, okay,” you took a deep breath and psyched yourself up. The adrenaline was fading. Levi was sitting in the trunk of the car while Mammon and Satan stood guard, leaning against the sides, “I still think you need to apologize to the developers.”
“Yes, that again! I made the whole bet in the first place to get you to do that if I won, so I’m not letting it go. I’ll continue calling you immature and unprofessional to my grave, and if I do die before you do apologize, I’ll haunt you until you do. You are given a job as the head of the entertainment department, and you barely do it! You need to keep good connections with people or else you’ll never succeed.”
“And you would know a lot about good connections, I see,” he stared at the markings on his wrist, and you flinched.
“Don’t try and change the subject. This isn’t about me. I’ve kept things running while you had your temper tantrum and played games all day. I’ve been managing all your meetings and keeping you in Diavolo and Lucifer’s good graces so you didn’t get in trouble.”
“I never asked you to do that,” he hissed, “That’s all on you.”
“I did it to be nice! How would you feel if you started working with someone and they instantly got fired?”
“Relieved? It would have been better if it was the other way around though.”
“Stop with the snide remarks, Levi,” Satan interjected.
“Why should I? They’re obviously going to blame me for everything.”
“Because you are at fault for everything,” Mammon said, “You’ve been lazy and not getting your work done, and MC is honestly the only reason you haven’t been fired yet. Lucifer got you this job because he thought you would be happy here, but you’re just wasting his gift.”
“Happy?” Levi scoffed, “Why would I ever be happy here?”
“Whether you’re happy or not, it doesn’t matter. You are in charge of so many people!” you exclaimed, “and it’s not right that you aren’t taking responsibility for that. If you don’t want to do the job, then you should step down. But you shouldn’t be abusing your position of authority to make others do your work for you.”
“You were the one who decided to take on my responsibilities all by yourself. None of this is my fault.”
“It is!” You stamped your foot, feeling somewhat like a child, but you were tired and didn’t know how to make it any clearer, “You can game at home and not be in a position where people are stuck waiting on you to approve things. You can live your life of isolation and games without dragging other people down with you.”
Levi didn’t respond, and so you found yourself taking on a kinder tone, trying to reason with him, “You were given this position undoubtedly because Lucifer thought you would appreciate it. I don’t know you all very well yet, but I can see how much you care about games and anime. It must be every otaku’s dream to finally get to create and supervise the media they grew up loving. Why would you waste that opportunity?”
You reached out and grabbed both of his hands, “These developers… they’re just like you. They’re passionate and want to create things people love. But you’re in a position that is holding them back. If you don’t like what they’re doing and think it can be improved, then tell them that, but kindly. If you want to create great works like that Ruri-chan you love, you have the power to do so. But, we can’t get anywhere with that until you apologize, because the staff won’t want to work with us if we’re insulting them. They’ve worked hard on this project, even if it's in the early stages.”
You looked up at Levi, tried to see past his dark fringe and meet his eyes as you squeezed his hands, “Don’t you want to work hard and create something wonderful too?”
“Why should I?”
“Wha..what?” You started to step backwards, but your hands were suddenly imprisoned in a crushing grip. Levi slowly raised his head.
“Why should I care about anything this stupid company makes? Why is it my responsibility?”
Satan and Mammon moved as Levi started to stand up, shoving his way past the two of them as he walked you backwards, your hands still trapped as he held them tighter, tugging them closer to him as he leaned over you.
“I told you already, I never asked for this job. I never asked to work here. Lucifer may have thought it was a good decision, but it’s really just second best, and he knows it. Everyone who knows me knows that I would never want to work on some knock off, subpar, Ruri-chan ripoff.”
You nearly tripped and stumbled over your own feet as you tried to break free from Levi’s grip. You crossed your feet as you stepped backwards, turning as Levi followed the twisted dance, pushing you back towards the fence lining the river as he continued to snarl in your face. Mammon and Satan rushed after you, their hands coming up to pull at Levi’s shoulders as they tried to peel his hands off of yours.
He dug his nails into your wrists, creating little crescents in the spot where the ropes had burned him. You felt the metal dig into your back, and you winced.
“But if you don’t like it, then you should work to change it! How will they know to make it better if you don’t guide them-”
“Oh my god, don’t you ever listen?” He snarled, “I don’t want to be doing this! I never asked to be put here, I never asked to leave the Celestial Corporation! Lucifer was the one who screwed up all our lives by dragging us out of there, and to apologize he stuck us in jobs we didn’t even ask for!”
“Levi! That’s enough, man!” Mammon wrapped his hands around his brother’s wrists and tugged, finally yanking them off as Satan tried to heave the older man back by wrapping his arms around his waist, “Don’t make us use actual force on you!”
Your head was spinning from the words that had just been spat at you, and you wiped some of the spit off your cheek absentmindedly as you stepped forward after the man who was being dragged back, “Levi, I… I’m sorry, I didn’t know-”
“Exactly! You didn’t know! You’re just an outsider so what are you doing lecturing me about what I should be doing? You know nothing! You’re just an intruder who keeps interfering with my life and doesn’t know when to get out!”
Your heart had already been shattered, but a part of you continued burning somehow, “I don’t care what you have to say about me. That still doesn’t excuse the childish way you acted-”
“Will you let it go already?!”
“No! I won’t! Because that has nothing to do with what I did, those actions were all your own! I tried to help you out afterwards because I genuinely thought you wanted to create good things and-”
“No one asked you to help!” Levi broke free from his brothers’ grasps and surged forward, his hands shoving you back as you took one more step into his space, “Don’t you know when to leave well enough alone-”
Levi’s hands shoved you back into the fence, and the momentum had his fingers slipping off of your shoulders and onto the fence, his power breaking the brittle and rusty piece in two. A horrible, grating noise of rust snapped and became a shriveling squeal as something bent and broke and suddenly the metal was gone from your back, and the wind was pushing against you as your foot lifted off the ground. You saw Mammon and Satan’s hands scrambling for purchase over Levi’s shoulders as they pulled him back and reached forward for you. You fell away and down through the air, the wind silencing all sound as you entered a vacuum. Levi’s expression was warped as the air rushed past you and the world blurred, going from disgust to fear to horror, and for a moment you saw his hand reach out-
Your body twisted in the air, and you only had a second to take in the rushing, unbreakable hard layer of the water before your body slammed into it, and everything went black.
Water clogged your ears before the waves forced open your eyes. After the pain of hitting the water subsided, your body was surrounded by the rough sensations of the waves battering you left and right. Between the muck and fish and lost leaves, you were flipped and spun around by the current and slammed into the bottom of the river, knocking the wind out of you and forcing you to gasp and finally take in the sight of the layers and layers of water above you.
Light beams pierced through the surface, scattering reflections across bubbles and ripples that danced through the voluminous space as your arms struggled and fish swam past. The dark green, dusty color of the water was tainted by spirals of sandy grains dancing in spinning strings that reached from the floor to the top of the water, only to be disrupted by your hands flailing through them, knocking more dirt into your eyes. You squinted and tried to swim up, but was suddenly struck by a terrifying feeling in your leg.
One night of sleep did not make up for days of deprivation, and you were feeling it painfully now. Your muscles didn’t listen to you, not against this current. And whatever you had slammed into must have hit your head because it was beginning to pound a lot. There was no abyss to sink deeper into, but you felt like you were being pulled back into one, as if hands made of mud and stone emerged from the riverbed and grabbed ahold of you, tugging you into its coffin as you gasped out the last of your oxygen, the bubbles exploding from your silent scream to rush towards the surface before they too were burned up. You were being rocked and lulled into a daze, your arms slowly falling back and giving up on the fight. You felt your consciousness fading as the pain in your head grew louder and louder, and you could only faintly hear the sound of panic above the water’s hum. You started to shut your eyes-
Large, broad fingers wrapped around your wrist and suddenly you were being thrust forward, the water rushing past you as you were pulled through it and towards the surface. The bubbles and waves from the disturbance as you broke through its finite stillness twisting into double helixes with the whirlpools of dirt as they tried to force you back down, but the hand pulling you up was too strong, and all too soon your body was tugged through the hard, unbreakable surface of the river again. The water fell off you like it was burned by the air, pulling on your clothes as you were left soaked with the fabric clinging to you, leaning on your heels as the figure blurred by the sunlight and your stinging eyes moved forward, their grip on your wrist steady and strong as it held you in place while they adjusted and slipped an arm under your back to support you.
You blinked a few times before your vision cleared, and found yourself face to face with red eyes framed by long dark hair, the water still swirling around your thighs, disgruntled at the disruption to its work. The man was wading in the water two, leaving the both of you standing in the middle of the river as it continued to rush past, buffeting you a bit but the man slipped his arm from around your back to your waist as he tugged you a bit closer to him.
You froze when you saw his face, and quickly glanced up towards the top of the hill. Levi, Satan, and Mammon were still standing by the broken fence, deathly still as they stared down at you. Levi’s hand was still outstretched, but his face was sapped as if he was staring straight at his worst nightmare.
You looked back up at the man above you, stuttering out, “M-Michael?”
The man looked down at you surprised, but his eyes quickly flicked back to examining your head. He reached around behind your hair, and you felt a sharp sting before he pulled back with something red dripping down his fingers.
“Hm. You’re bleeding quite heavily. You must have hit-”
The sun glinted sharply over his shoulder just then, and the last thing you remembered was the light hitting your eyes before pain ruptured through your body and everything turned white.
“I’m sorry, but we cannot let you in if you don’t have your ID-”
“But I’ve been coming in here for over a month! You’ve seen me enter and leave everyday! How can you just not let me in?”
“It’s our policy. Once again, I’m sorry. You either need a card of identification we can scan or someone has to escort you in as their guest.”
“But I left it inside this morning! If you would just take me to my room I can show you-”
“Excuse me,” a sharp voice interrupted, and you watched as a thin shadow stretched across the red doormat in between the two security guards, overtaking your own and merging as one. You turned around and saw Lucifer’s piercing red eyes glowing in the yellow light coming from the apartment complex’s lobby, and his pale skin was stark against the navy blue night sky behind him.
“I will escort them in. Under my credentials, it should be fine if no paperwork was submitted prior, correct?”
Lucifer pulled out his name badge from a lanyard he wore tucked into his coat and handed it to one of the guards. You would have thought that just seeing Lucifer’s face they wouldn’t bother with checking, but you guessed it really was just their policy that they had to follow, regardless of who. It made you feel a little better, but your frustration still was bubbling away inside.
That and your embarrassment at Lucifer of all people having to be the one to bail you out.
The security scanned the card and then handed it back to Lucifer, “You are correct sir. Have a good night.”
“And you as well. Come along MC.”
Lucifer startled you by breezing past, nearly knocking you over as he glided in through the doors. You stumbled, but his hand shot out and caught your elbow, tugging you along and inside the lobby before he dragged you into the elevator and the doors were closing.
You rested against the golden support bars as he spoke with the liftman. You were very tired suddenly, all the fluorescent lights of the building straining your eyes and you swayed into the bar as the elevator jolted. Lucifer glanced back at you over his shoulder, and you noticed his gloved hand weaving through the air to rest upon your shoulder for support, eventually steadying you even as he continued to talk easily with the employee.
After what seemed like an eternity, the doors opened on your floor, and Lucifer helped you step out. Rather than walking you into the apartment though, he sat you down in one of the chairs outside the elevator and crossed his arms, looking down at you crossly.
“So, you forgot your ID.”
“Irresponsible of me, believe me, I know. Go ahead and call me sloppy, or whatever. I know I’m too busy zoning out-”
“It’s why you’re zoning out that I’m concerned. You’ve been unnecessarily tired lately. Is Levi causing you that much trouble?”
“What?” You tried to sit up more, anxiety giving you enough energy to stutter your way through excuses, “Of course not! I can keep up just fine, I’ve just got a few projects dumped on me and well, I’ve always had a bit of insomnia so-”
Lucifer pulled his glove off and cut off your rambling by pressing his hand to your forehead. You found yourself surprised by the coolness of it, as it was always bundled up inside those thick leather gloves, and leaned into it before you caught yourself. You pulled back just as Lucifer’s hand did, and watched embarrassed as he glared at his hand, then at you.
“I’m sorry, that was unprofessional of me-”
“You’re likely running a fever, did you know that?”
“And you went to work with this? Ugh, goodness,” he slipped his glove back on and pressed his hand to his head as he shook it disapprovingly, “Judging by how many days you’ve been acting this tired, you’ve likely been sick for days now. How bad is your insomnia that you’re getting sick because of it? This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
You were silent, and looked down at your hands balled in your lap.
“Or was that a lie?”
“It’s not a lie! I do have insomnia but-”
“But? Listen, MC, I cannot allow you to go back to work in this state. If there is something affecting your sleep and health this severely, then we need to discuss it now before it becomes a more serious problem. You may not have noticed, being half asleep each day, but my brothers have been reporting to me their concerns about you. I noticed you first started looking more rundown a few days into working under Leviathan, but thought it would be best not to say anything, as I thought you would come to me if there were any issues. However, it appears you are incompetent enough to report when something is wrong, so I’m asking you outright now- What’s going on?”
You tightened your firsts as you struggled to think of what to say. The last thing you wanted to do was cry in front of your boss, your scariest one yet, but even more last came having to confess how stupid and incompetent you were. Your head was empty of words, and truly you couldn’t string together much of a response even if you tried. All you knew was that it was stupid to make a bet and put together this childish plan of yours, but you didn’t want to admit defeat, not yet.
You saw Lucifer’s well polished shoes step closer to you, and then his hands were on the armrests, his arms pinning you in as he leaned in, his face inches from yours.
“Should I go ask Levi myself, then? If you won’t speak?”
“No, no,” you mumbled, spreading your palm over your eyes as you tried to steady your breathing. You truly were exhausted, and your eyes stung with more the urge to cry as Lucifer used his intimidation tactics on you, “I promise you, I have it all under control. I’ll be better after tomorrow. I promise.”
“You promise?” He scoffed.
You nodded, and didn’t meet his eyes. You kept yourself hidden behind your hand, holding your breath to resist the need to gasp for air as you felt overheated and sick. You just wanted to sleep, but you knew it wouldn’t recover all the nights you had spent losing it, and your anxiety was sure to keep you up anyway.
Still, Lucifer pulled back. You saw from the corners of your vision his arms recoil, and suddenly his presence, the steady wall swayed out of your space. You slowly slid your hand off your face, your eyelids heavy as you looked up at Lucifer standing in front of you.
He truly was amazing, you thought, he commanded such an air of authority and respect, he radiated waves of energy that comforted you when he was close, although the cold and sharpness of it did bring just a little bit of a sting to your eyes.
“Very well. But, if I notice or hear of you getting any worse, I will be stepping in, understand?”
You nodded. Lucifer crossed his arms and sighed.
“Better I than Lord Diavolo. Now, let’s go inside.”
When your dream finally bled out and your consciousness stabbed you sharply back into wakefulness, the first thing you heard was Lucifer’s voice. It was distant and muffled by sharper, higher pitched gasps of someone crying, but it was stern and solid. It rocked you back to shore, giving you something to latch on to.
“You should be grateful they are not dead. According to Mammon, this isn’t the first time you’ve used your force on them before. You of all people I expected to mind their strength and the physical boundaries of living with a coworker. I cannot believe-”
There was a moment where your ears popped and sound blocked out as your eyes finally opened and cleared. You took in a white ceiling, stark and broken by light gray bars that gridded the space into squares. It took another second for you to focus on the other figure sitting closer to you, as it only began to loom over into your personal space when you started to croak out-
“Oh my god! MC! You’re awake! Luce!”
The crying stopped abruptly, and then you heard Lucifer whisper, “We will talk about this more later.”
“Mammon, what happened? I just remember Levi pushing me and-”
“The barrier broke. You fell into the river and got a concussion. Someone called Diavolo and we got an ambulance to take you to the hospital. You’ve only been asleep a few hours.”
“Did I have to go into surgery?”
“You had to get a few stitches, but nothing major. You got scratched up badly by the river rocks though. It wasn’t that deep where you fell, but bad enough that you got some water in your lungs.”
“Lord Diavolo has decided to give you paid leave for the next few weeks so you may recover properly,” Lucifer said, as his heavy footsteps preceded him appearing from around the curtain, “Your school has been contacted regarding the incident as well. You have extensions on all your current assignments, as well as future ones, as they are now fully aware of your internship with us.”
“What? But that’s not necessary!” You started to sit up, but Mammon urged you to stay back against the pillows, “Why should I get special treatment just because I work? There are tons of other students that work, and I’m more than capable of keeping up with-”
Lucifer looked at you coldly, “Why did you not try and swim when you fell into the river? The current was not that strong. Or can you not swim?”
“It’s not that… it’s because I…”
“You were tired?”
You mumbled the words around in your mouth before finally conceding, “Because I was tired. But I’m not the only student tired from work and school! I don’t need to-”
“With all due respect, MC, the work you are doing is much more intensive than any part time job, that as time continued, you would be unable to maintain your schoolwork without some extensions. And many of the students who do work while in college do put in requests for incompletes or extensions.”
You bit the inside of your cheek and scowled towards the window by the bed, pointedly ignoring Lucifer as he crossed his arms and stared you down. Mammon shifted on the plastic stool he was sitting on, and touched your shoulder gently.
“Come on, babe. Stop being so stubborn and just-”
You whipped around and glared at him with a wild look in your eyes. Hissing out a “Shut up!” you both knew it was already too late by Lucifer’s heavy hand clasping over Mammon’s shoulder.
“Mammoooooon,” he growled, “It seems we will have to have a talk about you respecting physical boundaries too. Why don’t you run along now so I can speak with MC privately?”
“Yeah, uh, sure,” Mammon scampered to his feet and bolted out of the room, leaving you alone with a seething Lucifer. You averted your eyes as he sat down and easily crossed his legs, staring you down for a few moments in silence before he sighed.
“There’s no need to be afraid of me. I’m just making sure you’re alright.”
“Well, I’m fine, okay? My head hurts a little, but I’ll be fine to continue working, fine to continue running around and doing Levi’s errands-”
“Why do you insist on doing everything by yourself?”
“I spoke to the others about it already, but it seems obvious you have no intention of ever underperforming. Is this because of my initial comments doubting your ability?”
You were silent.
“Because if it is, I would like to apologize.”
“It’s not you, Lucifer, I’ve always been like this. I feel like every college student is either lazy or a burned out gifted kid. Most of your brothers seem like the type to have been the former, this may just be the first time you’re encountering the latter.”
“Then perhaps you have just been surrounded by formers for so long you don’t know how to react when a latter finally approaches you.”
You looked up at him, confused.
“I was just like you once upon a time. I understand the desire to take on all the responsibility, and in some ways I am still caught up in my old bad habits. But, I know firsthand how much it can chip away at someone, and so, I am only looking out for you.”
You pushed your hair back behind your ear, and cringed at how oily it felt, pulling your hand back with disgust. You probably picked up whatever muck was built up at the bottom of the river, and you longed for a shower already. The crusty piece of hair slipped back into your face, but before you could push it back, Lucifer’s hand came out and brushed it aside for you.
“You need to be careful for now, you may not have felt the bandages, but your stitches are close to here. They’re small, but they should heal up within a few weeks. The doctors are worried you might develop pneumonia but the risk should be low. You are in nothing but the best care here in the hospital owned by Lord Diavolo’s father himself.”
“So this is a rich Devildom hospital. Huh. I thought a fancier hospital would have better ceilings.”
“It seems you have your wit back, so I suppose my worry was misplaced. Still, you will remain here until the doctors say it is safe for you to return home. And even then, you will not be allowed to return to work until Diavolo deems you are well rested enough to do so.”
“Are you not going to say anything about what I did today that led to the accident?”
Lucifer narrowed his eyes at you and hummed, but did not seem angry, “I was filled in by Mammon and Satan, and although they were your accomplices, I am more cross with Levi than you when I found out why you resorted to such… underhanded methods. It seems to me that you were handling things the best you could based on your own stubborn presumptions, and I assume Mammon was the one who swayed you to more devious, immature actions like the ones today. By the way, I will be speaking to you as well about your… relationship.”
“Haha,” you laughed nervously, “It was Solomon actually who gave me the idea.”
“So that’s what you’ve been getting up to at your meetings? Perhaps I should observe your next one, whenever that may be.”
“I’m… really sorry, Lucifer. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble.”
You hung your head and stared at your hands atop the starch, white sheets of your hospital bed. You heard Lucifer sigh and then felt something rest on your head. You saw his arm reaching towards you, and then felt the weight of his hand patting you gently, cautious of your stitches.
“I know,” he smiled softly at you, “But this whole mess started because you were afraid to cause trouble. I apologize if I ever gave you any indication that you couldn’t come to me about problems like this, but in the future, I hope you will not be afraid to ask for help if you do need it.”
“Thanks Lucifer, I appreciate it,” you said, resigning yourself to not remark about he had been blatantly crossing those physical boundaries he was just complaining about the others doing, and instead, decided to finally ask the question, “Where is Levi, though? Is he okay?”
“What? You want to see him after what he did?”
“Well… I mean, it was an accident right? I don’t remember much but… I have this feeling he looked somewhat scared when I fell in. Does he know I’m okay? Or did he go back to his office?”
“Would you like to speak to him?”
“Is he here? Then sure! I feel like I do need to apologize to him better.”
“Well, you did kidnap him, but since we like to string Mammon up when he causes issues, I can assure you it’s not the first time Levi has experienced such a fright. I will fetch him.”
Lucifer disappeared behind a curtain, and as you listened to his shoes pad further away you imagined him disappearing through an open door into the hallway outside your room. You briefly heard someone’s breath hitch as Lucifer’s distant voice mumbled, “They’re asking for you.”
After a few seconds, you heard footsteps coming back in, but they were different from Lucifer’s movements. A nervous, heavy shuffling made its way close to you, and soon there was a shadow behind the curtain, just standing there. You heard sniffling and could sense it was distinctly Levi shaped, but it refused to move any further. Reaching out and being careful not to pull loose any of the wires or tubes around your bed, you tugged the curtain back.
“Levi? What are you doing crying? Come, take a seat.”
You patted the stool that had been abandoned and Levi awkwardly waddled over to it as he tried to wipe away the tears that kept falling down his face, and the sobs that continued to ripple from his throat and shake his shoulders. He fell down in the seat ungraceful and practically curled in on himself, leaving you to stare at this wreck of a man.
“Wha- why do you want to see me? Don’t ya- don’t you hate me for what I did?”
His voice broke in sharp wheezes as he hiccuped. You brushed your hands along the bedsheets, smoothing out the wrinkles as you smiled.
“Because I’m sorry for what I did. I was manipulative and tricked you. And I don’t hate you. I know it was an accident.”
“You all were bodyguards right? But like you said, it’s been a long time for you, so you don’t know your own strength. I get that. But, just for the future, let’s be a bit more careful, okay?”
“I-” Levi stuttered as he swallowed, “I didn’t want to hurt you.”
“I know. I never imagined you would. But, you did scare me a little, to be honest. But I’m sure I scared you too when I had Mammon and Satan drag you away like that!”
“Yeah,” Levi wiped his eyes and chuckled in between his hiccups, “I thought you were going to have me killed or something.”
“Oh, I would never commit a crime like that. I don’t want to go to jail, like, ever. By the way, you won’t press charges for me kidnapping you, right?”
He laughed harder at that, and your smile bloomed, “No, if I did then I’m sure Mammon would come after me for all the times I’ve tied him up.”
“Lucifer said something like that before. Still, it's nice to hear it coming from you that you don’t hate me for what I did.”
“And… you don’t hate me for how I treated you?”
“How I… Well how I made you do all the work and everything? I knew all along I was being immature but… having Lucifer shout it all at me really made me realize how stupid I was being.”
“All of that is water under the bridge now,” you waved your hand dismissively, “I’m pretty sure Lucifer will be keeping tabs on you anyway while I’m trapped here. But, more importantly, I’m kind of curious about what you said earlier.”
“What do you mean? I said a lot of things in uh… the heat of the moment. I don’t even remember most of it, to be honest, but if I said anything offensive, I’m sorry-!”
“No, Levi, don’t worry about that. You said you used to work for the Celestial Corporation?”
Levi froze, and you instantly backpedaled.
“I’m sorry! Was that something personal I’m not supposed to bring up-”
“No, no. Just… don’t let Lucifer hear you mention it or I’ll get in trouble. It’s true though. We… well, we all used to work for the Celestial Corporation. A few years ago we all switched over to here.”
“Why did you leave?”
“I… I can’t get into that right now. It wouldn’t be good to ask anyone else about it, to be honest. If Satan and Mammon heard me say that, please don’t ask them either. It will only bring up bad memories.”
He hung his head and you hesitantly rested your hand on his shoulder after a moment, “I’m sorry. Is that why you’re so frustrated with working with Studio B? They produce Ruri-chan, right?”
“Yes… I actually… when I used to work at the other company,” Levi kept his voice to a whisper, “I was supposed to be next in line to take over the animation department. I had done everything perfectly in my studies and was honestly a shoe in to be promoted and it would’ve given me full control over everything Ruri-chan related. But… then everything happened and we had to leave and come here. I know Lucifer feels responsible for the change, and I know he did everything in his power to get me this position here but… it’s not the same.”
Levi shut his eyes tight and began to shake with sobs again, and you could only look on and squeeze his shoulder reassuringly. Although you said you forgave him, his words were still drifting in your mind. You were an outsider, an intruder, and Leviathan had thought so since day one when you walked into the apartment.
“I’m guessing… whatever happened with you all switching over to here… it’s related to the rift between the Celestial Corporation and the Devildom Corporation, right?”
Levi nodded in between sniffles, “And because of it, I can never work on Ruri-chan. I can never do anything I want. Everything I love, everything I grew up loving and admiring, it all belongs to them, and it’s impossible for me to ever be a part of it now.”
You twisted and climbed out from under the covers, leaning over and grabbing both of Levi’s shoulders, forcing him to look up at you as you knelt in front of him.
“But, Levi, that’s not true! Don’t you know why I’m here?”
He blinked up at you and you shook his shoulders a bit harder.
“The whole point of this internship program is for me and Solomon to try and mend the rift between both companies. I’ll be honest, I didn’t fully understand it until just now, what I was doing, but now I see it. Solomon and I are supposed to help both companies learn to collaborate, not necessarily to unify, but we’re able to help them reach common ground to further both of their goals. I can’t promise anything, but it’s not like Studio B is completely owned by the C.C., right?”
Levi shook his head, his eyes still wet and blurry as he stared up at you.
“Then hope isn’t lost. And even if they did own it, I’m sure I could work something out.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Levi, it might be far away now, and I can’t make any promises, but if Solomon and I play our cards right, it’s possible we could get the Devildom Corporation working on a Ruri-chan project of some kind. Or, if you worked really hard at helping produce some games and anime for the Devildom, you could be brought on to work as a freelancer even! I met a lot of people while I was going to your meetings and supervising the various branches in the entertainment building, and there were so many people who weren’t owned by either corporation, just hired for their skills. It’s a long shot, but this is my job here. I could persuade the C.C. to let you help them on something, so don’t believe it’s a closed door until it truly is! It will just take some work to get there!”
Levi blinked up at you as more tears poured from his eyes. He must have been seeing rings in the lights above your head, because he grabbed your arms and gasped, “You’re an angel.”
“Nope, I’m human. Although I think both you, I, and your brothers seem to act a little like devils sometimes.”
“We do work for the Devildom Corporation, I mean, what do you expect?”
“Well, Solomon isn’t an angel in the slightest, so maybe if you really think I’m an angel, the two of us should switch.”
“Please spare me. I’ve barely met that man but I know well enough from stalking him on social media he’s a snake.”
“Perhaps, he was the one who helped me come up with the plan to kidnap you. You know, had you come with me to the meeting, maybe you could have prevented it.”
“Then next time I’ll come. I’ll come to whatever meeting if it means I’ll get to avoid that,” he shuddered, “and if it helps me one day direct Ruri-chan. Besides, even after all I made you do… I kind of wish you would stay in my department a bit longer.”
“Levi, I’m not going to be doing all your errands anymore-”
“That’s not it! I just meant… it was kind of fun, even if it was short lived… our bet, and playing video games together. I would like to do that again, I guess.”
“Alright. That… can be arranged I suppose. But, Levi, we can’t keep doing that at work. If you want to eventually be good enough to work on a Ruri-chan project, we will need to get you more shaped into an actual manager or department head.”
“And how are we going to do that?”
It was a few weeks later, Mammon and you were inside the previously abandoned grand office of the entertainment building, unpacking boxes of figurines you both had moved out of the storage closet down the hall and placing them meticulously on display shelves that had been set around the office. Leviathan stood nearby, nervously guiding you out of fear you would drop and break any piece of his collection, but you assured him you would be fine. With the system you had going, Mammon was handing you them from the box, and you were carefully taking them directly from his hand and setting them onto each shelf.
“There,” you said, pulling back from the last one in the row and climbing down the step ladder, “See? There’s no need to hide any of this, even in a professional environment.”
“Are you sure they’ll be okay with all this? They won’t be freaked out?” Levi asked, fidgeting.
“Of course! I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to see you’re a fan of their work and will understand where you are coming from better. This will help to close the gap and-”
There was a knocking at the door, and the three of you glanced across the large, gray carpeted room towards the site of several developers waving nervously outside. You hurried down the rest of the ladder, slapping Levi lightly on the back and hurried to cross the room and open it.
“Welcome! Please don’t mind the mess, we’re redecorating a bit. We have chairs ready for all of you though, come in! Come in!”
You ushered all of them in and then scampered back over to your shelf, resuming work with Mammon while you only glanced out of the corner of your eye at Levi as he took a seat at the big, glass desk. He took a deep breath and took in all the anime merchandise that was surrounding him, and filled with confidence, gesturing for the developers to sit down.
“Hello, I would like to start out by apologizing for my behavior last month at our initial meeting, and for all the previous meetings I had… had been ignoring,” he said, stumbling only once as he tried to suppress the nerves in his voice.
You and Mammon exchanged smiles as Levi continued on in his apology, the two of you continuing to put up posters and limited edition consoles and cases as you listened in, and finally, the developers accepted his apology, and said they would be happy to start over and continue production for the project as streamlined as possible now.
“Wonderful,” Levi said, folding his hands on top of the desk, “Then, let’s get down to business, shall we?”
I feel like at the rate I'm writing, it might take over a year to finish publishing this story! My semester is ending in a few weeks though, and so I'm hoping to get multiple chapters done during my break. I hope you found this chapter entertaining if anything! I know sometimes people vehemently disagree with characters' actions in stories as in real life they would be horrible and inexcusable, but since I write a lot of "anime hijinks" in this narrative, I hope you'll excuse the real world consequences of MC kidnapping Levi. It wasn't my intention to have this story be a direct parallel of each character's arc in the game, but since I am starting from the beginning and working my way through MC's relationships, I sort of have to do it that way! Again, I have no clear amount of how many chapters it will take to get to the end of the story, but because the chapters consistently are pretty long, it seems to shorten by the day. I think on a previous chapter I said I was thinking around 20? That number is looking more like 15 now. Maybe by the time I finish the next chapter, it will shrink to 10! After all, quite a few things happened this chapter! It can only speed up from here!
As always, I would love to hear people's theories on the story! I'll do my best to not spoil anything when replying though.