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I'd Rather Be Dry

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The sound of a bell chiming from the highest tower. A door swinging closed as the last of the locker room chatter filtered out. Clothes being shucked and dropping to the floor before the sound of feet padding across tile were interrupted by a squeak and then the slow, rising sound of water rushing out and ricocheting off skin and down into the shadows of the drain.

 

“See you later, MC,” the voice of a demon said as they walked to the door.

 

“See ya,” echoed out from the corridor that hosted the gym showers. They let out a big sigh as they doused their head under the shower spray, pushing their hair back out of their eyes as they breathed out. Trying to keep up with demons in sports was exhausting. Even though it was only a recreational class activity, and not the more hardcore Fangol team Beel participated in, many of the demons showed no mercy in weeding out the weak with their superhuman strength and reflexes. If dodgeball in human high school gym was a classic example of survival of the fittest, whatever the demon world equivalent was called (MC didn’t bother to remember) was a giant meteorite deadset on mass extinction.

 

Their legs trembled as their muscles spasmed from the sudden lack of exertion. It was four p.m. Gym was the only class MC didn’t share with any of the brothers or their Purgatory Hall friends. The student council used the extra period for meetings and make announcements and Simeon, Luke, and Solomon had been given a study hall instead after Solomon had nearly annihilated Luke and the lower level demons. Simeon just sat out to keep Luke company, but if he still participated, MC was certain that he could hold his own against the annoying demons, and would likely protect them from any balls spiked their way.

 

Another sigh. They would have bruises tomorrow.

 

As much as they wanted to stay and just soak in the warmth of the spray forever, they knew that if they took too long one of the brothers would come barrelling through the gym in search of them. Usually it was Mammon or Levi who broke down the door fighting over who they would walk home with, but today MC had promised Luke they would come over and do some baking together, so they didn’t want to keep the young demon waiting.

 

MC ran their hands quickly over their skin, trying to soothe their aching muscles that had been pummeled throughout the period. Periodically, they fiddled with the handle of the shower valve so that the spray got gentler and gentler, the constant battering on their neck beginning to worsen their soreness. They had to be careful not to turn the handle too much though, because the maximum water temperature could very easily boil lesser demons alive. Just as they were getting ready to stop, they heard the creak of the locker room door leading to the hallway outside the gym open.

 

“Mammon? Levi? I’m in the shower! I’ll be out in a second. Just wait outside,” A smile broke out across MC’s face as they ran their fingers through the knots of their hair. There was some faint murmuring, and they knew that whichever brother it was likely was sputtering and turning on their heel to race out the door. The only one who wasn’t afraid to waltz in and see them naked was Asmo, and even then, it was more a joke than anything. Asmo would announce their presence with some grandiose speech, always giving MC enough time to ready a shampoo bottle or some method of attack to defend against him flinging himself at them.

 

As MC reached up to turn the shower off, they heard shuffling along the corridor of the showers. Grabbing the towel that they had set just out of the water’s reach, they began to dry their hair, lifting their head when they heard the footsteps stop right behind them. With the smile still on their lips, they tugged the towel off and patted down their face, lifting their head as they readied to make a remark about intruding on their privacy.

 

“You know, I thought I told you-”

 

The words dried up in their throat when they locked eyes with the figure, the towel falling to the ground.

 

“A-Asmo?”

 

The name fell from their lips in a plea, not in acknowledgement. Two shadows leered from behind the taller one, who revealed his sharp toothed grin as his claws reached forward and walled them in.

 

“Finally caught you, human.”

 


 

Mammon was in the middle of an argument with Luke outside the library when he felt it. He had been fighting with him since the bell rang and he had overheard the tiny angel talking about MC promising to bake confectionaries with him after school. Poor Simeon was currently nursing a headache trying to deal with the two yapping at one another like dogs, while Solomon was leaning back against the doorframe and enjoying the show.

 

“I told you! They’re my human! I’m their first pact, so they have to listen to me!”

 

“Last I checked, a pact meant you had to listen to MC! Isn’t that right, Solomon?”

 

Solomon pretended to mull it over, “Hmm… I hate to admit it, Mammon, but pacts do mean you take orders in the relationship. Although, on occasion, Asmodeus and I do tend to reverse the roles-”

 

“-Alright, Solomon. Thank you very much for that insight,” Simeon cut in, “Luke, MC must be waiting for us.”

 

“Hold on!” Luke said, spinning back around to point a finger up at the tall demon, “Ha! So like Solomon said, you’re the one who has to take orders! So that means you're more like a dog than I am! Not that I’m like a chihuahua at all!”

 

“Will you just shut up already? You are a chihuahua cause you keep barking like-”

 

Mammon…

 

Mammon, please!

 

Mammon! Help me! Please!

 

“...You’re more than welcome to join us at Purgatory Hall, Mammon,” Simeon’s voice faded back along with the rest of the hallway chatter, “...Mammon... Mammon?”

 

Mammon had raised a hand to his neck when he felt the first stab of pain go through his skull. He almost cursed and accused Luke, but then the throbbing pang got stronger, and suddenly he realized it was a cry. It wasn’t pain, it was panic. And the longer that Simeon kept talking, the more and more the sensation got buried. Mammon’s heart twisted in knots as he felt the flash in his mind fade, and he held up a hand.

 

“Wait, wait. Hold on, something’s…” he covered both of his ears and tried shutting his eyes, and he could feel it faintly, but it was still slipping out of reach. Luke started to say something, but Simeon shushed him as he watched on nervously. Solomon pushed himself off the wall, stepping forward, his smug expression collapsing quickly into concern.

 

Mammon opened his eyes and stared at the floor of the hallway blankly as he tried to listen for it again, trying to look for that light in his mind. It had been a flash, it came in from the right side and ruptured once it hit the left side of his brain. Carefully, as if pained, he shifted his foot and turned towards the right side of the hallway, taking a step forward.

 

Mammon!

 

He felt it. He lifted his head to look down the hall- and like someone had lit the cord at the end of a stick of dynamite, a sparking light came shooting around the corner, getting closer and closer until it collided with the firework that was his forehead and exploded.

 

Mammon! Where are you?

 

Mammon, help me! I can’t hold them off! They’re going to-

 

It hurts! Stop it! Mammon! I need-

 

Solomon caught Mammon by the shoulders as he stumbled backwards, righting the demon before giving him a push and starting to walk forward, “It’s MC, isn’t it? Where?”

 

The screams in Mammon’s head were pulsating now, delivering millions of pieces of information at once, and the demon gasped as he shivered, feeling the sensations that were rushing over him as if it was his own skin being attacked. Claws, teeth, scales… water.

 

“The locker room… Showers… Argh! Come on! We gotta hurry!” Mammon screamed as he started running, Solomon already beside him while Simeon and Luke took a second to follow after.

 


 

MC hissed as their back was thrown against the tile wall again, their hands scrambling to find leverage against the wet surface as one of the demons grabbed their arms and pinned them back.

 

“Human, why resist? You know your soul is going to be eaten eventually. Why struggle?”

 

His breath smelled like rotting fish, and his claws sliced deep rings into their flesh just from brushing against it. MC tried to bring one foot up to kick him in the chest, but it did nothing to shake the demon’s large form. They were wider than Beel, more monstrous looking with a slit mouth and a powerful, cold aura radiating off their skin, creating painful, crystalizations across MC’s skin where his scales had touched in their tussle. The crystals froze patches of their skin before breaking off like flakes after a few seconds, leaving behind exposed, dead skin that was spreading over the rest of their chest.

 

MC kicked him again and the rumble from within the demon’s chest caused such a power vibration to echo off the walls of the small corridor that MC felt nausea overwhelm them, and they spit out bile down the front of them as their head spun. The two other demons were crawling along the floor, snaking up to frame either side of MC as they reached forward to drag their dirty nails along MC’s ribs and up to where their heart was buried.

 

“Mammon! Levi! Beel!” While they had hesitated to cry out for anyone other than Mammon- their brain remembering the promise they had made to their first demon- they were too frightened to care. They were going to die, and Mammon still wasn’t here. “Anyon- urrgk!”

 

One of the demon’s shoved their hand in MC’s mouth, silencing their cries as the main demon tightened their grip on MC’s arms. They were hissing something out again, but the adrenaline pumping in MC’s ears blocked out any noise, except for their hiccups and gurgles behind the fingers in their throat as their eyes teared up and frantically looked around. As they thrashed about and struggled against the demons, the demon quieting their mouth moved out of the way enough for MC to see the shower handle behind him. The shower was still dripping some water. It was still on.

 

You’re going to die if you don’t do something. No one is coming to help. MC’s thoughts rushed by even as their mouth still continued to bite out the brothers’ names from behind the fingers. Using the last of their strength, MC raised up their other leg and pushed with all their might directly under where they thought the sternum of the demon was, his grip holding them up until he was stumbling back, and the fingers slipped from MC’s mouth and the hands fell away and they were on the floor. The impact knocked the wind out of them, but they forced themselves to surge to their feet and raised their elbow, knocked one of the other demons back and into the handle.

 

MC reached over the fighting demon as the leader started to stand up again, and for the first time in a while, they said a prayer.

 

Please let Mammon make it here in time.

 

They turned the handle all the way.

 


 

The locker rooms weren’t that far away, but it felt like miles as Mammon struggled to skid to turn the corner and race down the hallway to the gym by the exit. Solomon stood back as Mammon rammed his body against the door, only to find it locked. Solomon quickly readied a spell to blast it open, but Mammon’s body glowed with yellow light as he grabbed the doorknob and ripped it off, before kicking the door down, and the incantation died on Solomon’s lips. They rushed in, but paused when they heard the vicious screaming of deep voices from the back of the empty locker room.

 

“MC!” Mammon roared, and Simeon and Luke barely saw him transform as they entered the room. They only saw the light before he almost teleported down the hall, pausing outside the showers where they saw from afar him freeze in place.

 

The screams continued and Simeon ordered for Luke to stay back as he and Solomon hurried, but the young angel refused and followed after them. Solomon, fearing the worst, put a hand on Mammon’s shoulder before he looked towards the end of the corridor.

 

Luke gasped and stepped back behind Simeon’s robe, shielding himself like the child that he was, and it took all of Simeon’s willpower to stay stoic as he stared at the sight of two demons melting into a puddle of tar, their skin burning off as they were bombarded with boiling water and steam that filled the room. The demons were struggling to crawl and stumble back out of the spray, but the water rushed along the floor and towards the drain in the center of the room, following them. There was a figure though, the corner beside the shower, just out of the spray’s touch, shuddering in a ball as they recoiled away from the screams.

 

“Solomon, wait here a second,” Mammon said, his face hidden under his fringe, “You’ll get burned if you go in there.”

 

Mammon strode forward calmly, past the wretched demons even as their contorting bodies and screams continued to reverberate around and amplify. Mammon stepped into the hot spray, stopping for a moment as the water collapsed over him. He looked towards his human, and then across from them at where the shower handle lay, broken off. He walked through the spray towards the showerhead, and stared at the broken fixture on the wall, eyes empty for just a moment longer as his head continued to ring.

 

He was here now, but he could still hear it. In his head and outside.

 

Mammon…

 

“...Mammon…” MC whimpered, “...It hurts…it hurts…” the screams made them retch again, and their voice was drowned out.

 

Mammon… I’m sorry… I called for the others…

 

“...I’m sorry…” they sniffled, and Mammon snapped.

 

He punched the broken valve, crushing it back into the wall, and the spray of water stopped.

 

“Simeon. Luke. Do something.”

 

Mammon stepped out of their way as the angels ran over to the human, surrounding them as they whispered and tried to soothe MC. Solomon could see flashes of colorful light as they fired off healing spells. They tried to get MC to show them their arms and let them help clean the vomit off of their skin. Solomon’s eyes were more trained on Mammon, who was staring at the demons still writhing on the floor, an unreadable expression in his eyes as he just stared.

 

“Mammon, don’t- Not in front of-”

 

“Quiet, Solomon. Or you’ll be next.”

 

Mammon started towards the demons, and immediately, Solomon called out the incantation.

 

“I summon the avatars of wrath and lust! Satan! Asmodeus!”

 

Beside the sorcerer, the two demons appeared, confused and out of breath as their heads whipped around. They had heard MC too and were trying to find where the distress call had come from, but they had only called their name out a few times in between calling the others, and so they had only received sparse, fleeting signals. When their gaze landed on Solomon, he snapped his fingers and pointed towards Mammon.

 

“MC is fine!” He lied, “But you have to restrain Mammon before he kills those three!”

 

Satan’s eyes flitted over the demons before they went back to MC wailing in the corner as Simeon desperately tried to comfort them. Instantly, he transformed, and charged. In a puff of smoke, Asmo was in his full demon form too, but his voice maintained its immature whine to it, even as he narrowed his eyes.

 

“Sorry, Solomon, but you might have wanted to summon someone other than my older brother. Truthfully, I want to kill them too, you know.”

 

Asmo stopped behind his brothers, adjusting his weight from foot to foot as he watched them begin to reign down violence on the disfigured and scarred demons. He crossed his arms over his chest, just watching on as Mammon tried to bash in one of their skulls with his foot while Satan leaned down and snapped the bones in the other’s arm in two.

 

“Don’t worry, Solomon,” Asmo called over his shoulder, “I’ll stop them before it gets too gorey.”

 

Solomon hissed but was distracted by Simeon starting to remove his cloak, trying to lay it over MC, who was softly resisting. Solomon summoned his cloak, and stepped forward to offer it to them instead.

 

“I don’t want to stain it…”

 

“MC, the last thing you should be worrying about is staining some cloth. But, take this. It’s dark. I don’t care if you get blood on it.”

 

Solomon covered MC’s form with the cloak, giving them some modesty while Luke and Simeon continued to work on the skin that had been frostbitten along their collarbone. MC seemed slightly more aware now, but was still shaking, and started to try and crane their head to look past Solomon.

 

“What happened to-”


Simeon, without looking away from the work he was doing on their injuries, covered their eyes with his free hand, “Don’t worry about it. Worry about yourself. We have it taken care of.”

 

“You won’t even get the chance to rot in hell,” Satan’s voice drifted over the sound of grunts and kicking and punching, “I’ll make sure after I’m done eviscerating you, your flesh will not even get the chance to turn into ash. Whatever soul you had left upon turning to a demon, it will be tortured endlessly, for years and years without rest, separate from your body, and-”

 

“You really shouldn’t be doing that,” Solomon called out, folding his arms as he tried to ignore the scent of blood and burnt meat wafting up to fill the corridor.

 

“What’s it to you?” Satan dropped the demon he was threatening, who was either dead or close to it by how it collided with the floor and crunched like a bag of bones as he stepped on them to cross the floor to Solomon, “Do you not think they should be punished for what they did?”

 

The green glow rising off of Satan made Solomon shift backwards. Simeon still had his hand covering their eyes, but their words could still be heard.

 

“I can order you,” Solomon threatened, eyes flicking over to Asmodeus who was still watching with an unsettling smile as Mammon continued to kick the demon over and over again, “I will order you if you don’t stand down.”

 

Solomon mentally sent a call to Barbatos, alerting Diavolo and hopefully Lucifer where they were. Satan’s face filled with twisted glee at his remark though, and he let his hand trace along the outside of Solomon’s coat, right above his stomach, “Oh? Well, what if I ripped out your vocal chords before you got the chance to call out? I normally prefer to start here though… the throat has sort of been off the table ever since Belphegor…”

 

Suddenly, Satan’s eyes cleared, and he stepped back, hand pulling away from Solomon, and he looked over the sorcerer’s shoulder to MC. Solomon got a full show as emotions rippled across Satan’s face, and then he tightened his hand into a fist and turned away.

 

“Sorry about that… I hate that I get like that.”

 

“I know, but I need you to stop Mammon. MC doesn’t know what’s going on, they’re in shock. I brought you two here to help, and you provoking more violence doesn’t help.”

 

“I know, I know,” they hissed, steam dissipating as they tried to control their anger, “Mammon! Stop, you’re scaring MC. We need to get these demons to Diavolo.”

 

“Huh? What’s Diavolo going to do? Put them on trial? You said it yourself a few seconds ago, they deserve punishment. Nothing that softie-prince could do would ever compare to the justice that MC deserves-”

 

“Mammon?”

 

Solomon watched as Satan’s shoulders began to shake at the quiet voice that somehow overpowered all the noise in the room. Mammon’s blue eyes cleared from the stormy, murky color to one that almost looked tearful as he stared down at his hands, blood covered, then back at MC who was still blindfolded and shuddering.

 

“Mammon? Is that you? Are you there?” Luke and Simeon pushed them back against the wall as they tried to get up and reach towards Mammon. Solomon stood in the space between the demons and the human, staring them down as they all looked away.

 

“Mammon? Mammon!”

 

“You can’t touch them with your hands like that. If they see what you’ve done, they might just start panicking again.”

 

“Mammon’s here,” Luke said, trying to calm MC, “he’s just busy with the guys who attacked you. But he’s here.”

 

“Mammon…?” They repeated, and seemed to settle back against the wall, accepting Simeon covering their eyes for the foreseeable future, or maybe the darkness was comforting, or maybe they didn’t even know the difference in their panicked state. It took Mammon a moment to realize they weren’t just saying his name, but they were asking for him.

 

“Y-yeah. I’m here now.”

 

“I called you,” they whimpered.

 

“I know. I heard you.”

 

From behind Simeon’s hand, tear tracks clearly streaked down MC’s cheeks, “I was so scared… I thought I was going to die… I thought I was going to have to die… I…”

 

You called someone else, Mammon sighed as he finished in his head, remembering how stupid he was in making MC promise to die if he wasn’t the one to save them. Right now, seeing them completely broken in the corner, he found himself thinking about how close he had come to not making it, how they called for him first and more than the others, but there was the chance that someone might have made it here sooner, might have made it here to help them and save them from any pain.

 

If he hadn’t held up Luke and Simeon with his stupid argument, they might have been outside the locker room, and heard what was going on right away.

 

Mammon stuffed his desire to bash his head into the wall down deep inside his chest and flashed MC a smile, even though he knew they couldn’t see it, and tried to speak in his gentlest tone possible.

 

“Hey, don’t worry about that right now. We’ll talk about it later. At home.”

 

It was then that Diavolo and Lucifer finally appeared, both of them flying in through the locker room with Barbatos hot on their heels. They landed and quickly took in the sight of the mess of the demons on the floor: Lucifer’s brothers avoiding eye contact, and the angels huddled around MC in the corner. Solomon watched Diavolo’s face contort in rage and he threw his arm forward, commanding over all in the room.

 

“Barbatos.”

 

“Yes, Milord.” Barbatos strolled forward and made easier work of collecting the demons into a pile, dragging them through the closest door, the gym, and out of sight. Beelzebub and Belphegor finally appeared and Lucifer ordered them to assist.

 

“What? Are you kidding me? When MC’s-”

 

“Help Barbatos. As much as I would like to deliver my own wrath upon them, your brothers already saw to it. Take them out so we can help MC.”

 

“Let’s go, Belphie,” Beel said, moving past his twin and obeying, picking up the largest demon. Belphegor grabbed the remaining smaller one, and grumbled as he went out the door, but Solomon saw the way his one visible eye kept looking back, his baby face distorted by worry and fear.

 

After Barbatos and the twins came back in, Diavolo broke the silence. His arms crossed, wings and horns out, his presence demanded attention. Even Lucifer waited to move, as much as Solomon could read his equal desire to run and scoop his human up and carry them to safety.

 

“Simeon. How are they?”

 

“I’ve healed most of their injuries, but even with Luke’s help, we’re running low on magic. We spent most of it regenerating nerves in the skin that had been numbed with ice.”

 

“Why are you covering their eyes? Did something happen?” Belphie asked, and Simeon sighed.

 

“No. I was trying to keep them calm. They’re still awake, it might be best if you all transformed back though.”

 

When Diavolo realized MC was conscious, his demeanor immediately changed. With a cloud of smoke, he returned to his bright red RAD uniform and forced a smile, gesturing for everyone else to do so. Leviathan appeared at the far end of the room, but Lucifer held up his hand and gave him a stern look, and he slinked back out to the hallway.

 

“MC,” Diavolo treaded carefully, watching as Simeon slowly removed his hand from their eyes, “Your attackers are gone. What can we do to help you right now?”

 

MC’s face was tear stained and covered in small scratches and bruises, their pupils blown wide as they took in the sight of everyone around the room. When they landed on Mammon, they reached out again, their voice barely audible as they rasped out his name, and the demon was rushing to kneel and embrace them, tucking their face into their shoulder.

 

“I’m here, I’m here…” Mammon repeated, “But you have to answer his question. What can we do for you?”

 

“I want to go home,” they whispered, “I want to go home, right now.”

 

“Luke and I can help them get dressed. If someone could bring us some bandages, I can wrap what we couldn’t heal for now.” Simeon said.

 

Solomon started, “Perhaps I could-”

 

“No,” it was Luke he finally spoke up, and although his eyes looked glazed over too, his voice was strong, “it’s not good to stress their body out anymore. They need to heal naturally for a while. We can reverse any scarring later.”

 

Everyone shut up at that, and Mammon slowly lifted MC onto his lap, wrapping them up tighter in Solomon’s robe as he pressed his nose into their hair. MC clung to him like a frightened animal, and he found himself rocking them gently, trying to soothe them.

 

Diavolo moved towards the gym exit, “All of you, get them home safely. They do not need to come to RAD until they feel comfortable again. Barbatos, we must deal with the perpetrators.”

 


 

Lucifer left shortly after Diavolo, giving the rest of the brothers a similar order. Beelzebub and Belphie were to guard the doors, to make sure no lingering students tried to see what the commotion was, Satan was to find a first aid kit, and Asmo was to go collect MC’s clothes. Satan practically slammed the kit into Solomon’s chest before walking out as well, muttering about how he was going to go to the student council room to make sure that Lucifer and Diavolo didn’t try and negotiate with them. After Asmo brought over MC’s clothes, he helped Simeon and Luke separate MC from Mammon so the angels could tend to them, and then Asmo went outside. He ran into Levi in the doorway, shuddering as his tail lashed about.

 

“You should transform back,” Asmo cooed, “MC won’t be happy to see you this stressed out.”

 

“I can’t,” Levi choked out, “I wasn’t there for them. I can’t be calm knowing that- Asmo… You heard their voice too… Didn’t you?”

 

He patted his shoulder, “Yes, and I couldn’t find them either. And it scared me too, but Solomon summoned me and Satan here to deal with it, and we really did more harm than good. Believe me, you wouldn’t have been able to do much either.”

 

“I can’t just believe that though! I was their third pact! They called out to me and-”

 

“They called out to all of us,” Belphie said, from where he leaned against the wall next to the door, “Don’t think you’re special.”

 

“We got here too late too,” Beel said, “Don’t beat yourself up about it.”

 

Levi’s bangs were obscuring his face, but from the way his shoulders shook with soft hiccups, it was obvious he was crying. Asmo let out a sad noise and grabbed his brother’s face, squished his cheeks before he pushed his hair out of the way and kissed his forehead, giving him a pat on the head before moving them both towards the door.

 

“I’m sure when MC gets back, they’re going to want to rest up to recover, so why don’t we both go back and make sure everything is as comfortable as possible for them, hm? You can pick out some anime or games they can watch and play while they heal.”

 

“Okay…”

 

Belphie and Beelzebub watched as Asmo led their older brother out the doors of RAD at the far end of the hall, arms wrapped around him the whole time. After another thirty minutes, the angels finally emerged from the locker room, solemn looks on their faces as they were flanked by Solomon.

 

“Take care of them,” Simeon said to Belphie, “Call us if there are any complications. While we are forbidden from reversing any emotional pain with magic, Solomon has mentioned he could-”

 

“Erase it,” the sorcerer finished, “Only if MC wishes it. It’s possible things could get bad enough that it’s necessary, but even then, it’s a last resort.”

 

“Understood,” Beelzebub nodded, and the twins watched as the three Purgatory Hall residents slowly disappeared down the hallway too, fading out of sight eventually until all was quiet.

 

Then, Mammon appeared.

 

“You got em?” Beel asked, seeing the way Mammon still had the human cocooned inside of Solomon’s cloak.

 

“Yeah, thanks though. We got 'em dressed, but Solomon put some sleep magic on them. They’re still a bit awake, but it should keep them calm until we get back home.”


“Alright then, let’s go,” Belphie said, and he and Beel took position around Mammon and MC, and together, the rest of the House of Lamentation walked to the exit, and went out the door and faded away too.

 

And at last, the hallways of RAD were quiet once more.