Monthly Archives: April 2013

голод : Bezer

“I guess it’s my turn to be embarrassed.” Bezer whimpered as she came into the office. She walked over slowly without looking at Nikolai. “I can’t really answer any better than Azazel. But I can tell you recently there has only been Eidolon.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Please don’t cry, my pet.” Nikolai lifted her face and smiled as he wiped away her tears. She bit her lip trying to obey and Nikolai suddenly realized how thoughtless he had been. So swept up in affection being lavished upon him that he had never noticed his cruelty until he watched the blood trickle from her lip. “Can you ever forgive me?”

“For what?” Bezer sniffled as he lifted her up onto his lap. She knocked most of the contents of his desk to the floor as she wrapped her legs around his waist. She blushed as he smiled at her. “Whoops.”

“You have been so patient with me.” Nikolai pulled her close and ran his thumb across the blood on her lip as she smiled. She jumped nervously when he leaned to kiss her and he pulled away to see her reaction  somewhere between fear and excitement. “I suppose I deserve that.”

“It’s not that I don’t want you to.” Bezer tried to explain. “I just don’t want you to feel obligated.”

“You are not just an obligation to me.” Nikolai told her, disappointed that he had made her feel this way. Her relief though evident was buried in a sea of other emotions. And he realized that he had been entirely cruel to her.

“It’s okay.” Bezer smiled as tears glistened on her cheeks and she looked at the bands on her fingers. “I don’t mind. I know that the way I am bothers you, you don’t have to do anything to make me feel better about it. I can’t change the things I’ve done, but I’ll be good from now on. I get to be around you, that’s enough for me. Maybe one day I’ll be good enough for you.”

“I don’t even know how to apologize for making you feel this way.” Nikolai brushed away her tears as his own fell. “Please understand you mean as much to me as Svetlana and Azazel, and I don’t judge any of you for your past, you have all made me happier than I ever thought possible. I’m the one who doesn’t deserve you, my pet.”

“I love when you say that. Would you be mad if I took us somewhere?” Bezer asked suddenly as her face flushed and she looked away. “I mean more comfortable.”

“Anywhere you would like.” Nikolai kissed her neck as she purred and took them away from his office. He opened his eyes as she let him fall back in a pile of cushions.  As he looked around her room he smiled. Her room very much reflected her personality. Carefree and disorderly. It was also enormous and lavish.  “Why do you stay with me, when you have someplace like this to return to?”

“It’s just a house, Nikolai.” Bezer stood over him as her clothes fell away from her. “Where ever you are is home.”

“Bezer.” Nikolai politely looked away. He had grown used to Svetlana walking around this way, but he grew nervous at the sight of Bezer. Even with the shortest glimpse of her he wished he could respond to her offer, but knowing he could not nearly made him weep. “You know that I can do nothing for you.”

“You could start by looking at me.” Bezer laid beside him and pulled his arms around her. “Am I pretty enough? I can change if you want.”

“You are breathtaking.” Nikolai caressed her side and smiled at her. She was truly lovely.

***naughty bits removed for decency – the rest will be in print edition***

 

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голод : Moving Forward

“And how many of your former conquests should I expect?” Nikolai asked as he settled behind his desk. “As fascinating as it is to see what has kept you occupied all these years, I’m not sure fending off angry woman is the best way to spend my time.”

“She will be the worst of them.” Azazel promised. “You should have just let me finish it. She tends to be persistent.”

“I’m not sure I want to answer to Lucifer for the death of his demons.” Nikolai explained. “If it becomes a problem I will reconsider. Now, for clarity, when you say the worst of, how many have there been?”

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to.” Azazel sighed. “it doesn’t matter anymore.”

“It does matter.” Nikolai insisted. “I want the answer or I wouldn’t have asked. If nothing else it helps me better understand your needs, and exactly how often I’m going to have to suffer not being able to fulfill them.”

“I can’t give you a number.” Azazel admitted as he dropped his eyes to the floor ashamed of the fact. “I wasn’t keeping score, and to be honest never really thought I would be in a position to be asked.”

“Bezer,” Nikolai went to comfort Azazel when he noticed the distress he was causing him. “Can you excuse us for a while?”

Bezer nodded and left the office knowing that he would be directing the same questions at her soon. She was no more inclined to answer than her brother, and no more capable of giving a concise answer. The two of them had just made a playground of their lives, both assuming it would never matter to any one but themselves.

“I’m not upset with you.” Nikolai smiled and lifted Azazel to embrace him. “I wasn’t asking to pass any sort of judgment on you either. I’m just trying to figure out what it is going to take to keep you satisfied.”

“Just look the other way and I’ll keep things discreet.” Azazel offered the unpleasant solution with a playful grin.

“That is not going to happen.” Nikolai rubbed at the bands on Azazel’s finger. “I wont have you running off, you wanted this.”

“Then I guess I will just have to deal with it.” Azazel smiled at him. “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do. No big deal.”

“You make me feel like a tyrant.” Nikolai sighed.

“Well, I don’t think of you as one.” Azazel smiled up at him as Nikolai let him slide to the floor. “So relax. Like you said, I wanted this so I will just learn to behave.”

“You never behave.” Nikolai grinned sadly as he tried to organize the thoughts that he had been toying with all week. Painful as they were, they could solve a few problems as long as everyone agreed. “Could you limit yourself to one?”

“I can limit myself to none if that’s what you want.” Azazel blinked up at him and then laughed at the sudden thought. “Please tell me you don’t mean Skorn.”

“No.” Nikolai gave him a disapproving glance. “I’m trying to simplify our relationship, not complicate it. I’m not so cruel as to expect you to deny yourself certain things, I’m just asking if you would be satisfied enough with one.”

“You are insanely uncomfortable talking about this.” Azazel giggled. “It’s so cute. Yes, Nikolai I do know how to control myself. If you are offering, don’t bother. I love you, but…”

“I wasn’t.” Nikolai pulled Azazel to him and laced his fingers behind the demon’s back. “Just listen to me. Why any of you would choose eternity with someone so completely useless to you is beyond my understanding, but you have and I am going to try and make you all as happy as possible. It was hard enough disappointing one person, and now I have the honor of being of no use to three of you. “

“You are such an idiot sometimes.” Azazel shook his head. “Yes, I like to fuck, a lot. Bezer probably more so, and I’m sure Svetlana would too if she had ever bothered to in the first place. And yes it sucks that you can’t. It doesn’t matter. It is a purely physical thing, Bezer get’s more out of your arm around her than she will ever get anywhere else. Svetlana loves you so damn much she wouldn’t even tell you so because she thought it would upset you. I don’t even like guys and I fucking adore you. This marriage isn’t about making sure everyone gets off. Stop making it so damn hard. We love each other, and want to be together. You keep insisting that you don’t make us happy, but you do. So stop being so fucking hard on yourself.”

“Thank you for clearing that up.” Nikolai was almost relieved by the scolding. “But I asked you to listen.”

“I am listening.” Azazel pouted. “I just need you to understand that we don’t expect you to drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how to fix things that aren’t broken.”

“Let me put this another way.” Nikolai tried to push aside his distaste for such conversations and put things as bluntly as possible. “And don’t interrupt me again. Svetlana also has needs beyond both of your twisted fetishes that I can not satisfy and I have denied her for far too long. Since it seems we are all bound to one another anyway; if she agrees, and if you can manage to behave yourself. It makes more sense to allow the two of you to give in to what I know you both want anyway, than to have either of you going elsewhere.”

“Why don’t you just turn her and take her for yourself?” Azazel was still trying to take in everything Nikolai had offered.

“Because I am not ready to take the risk.” Nikolai told him. “Until I decide otherwise, will she be enough?”

“More than.” Azazel laid his head against Nikolai. “What about Bezer?”

“More complicated.” Nikolai admitted, “But I will take care of it.”

“Are you going to talk to Svetlana?” Azazel grinned. “Or can I?”

“I don’t look forward to the conversation, but I should probably be the one to talk to her about this.” Nikolai noticed the eager look and could not begin to imagine the things running through Azazel’s mind. “Why?”

“I could just have a lot of fun with it.” Azazel admitted fiendishly. “If you don’t mind.”

“Just don’t be cruel.” Nikolai closed his eyes. “Warn me first, and don’t be cruel.”

“I was supposed to take her home today anyway.” Azazel grinned. “Should I bring her by for a last taste first?”

“Don’t be cruel to me either.” Nikolai frowned. “You are not going to waste any time are you?”

“I am not being cruel, it was you who made the offer and like you said, she wants this too.” Azazel hugged him. “But if you plan on changing your mind…”

“No.” Nikolai sighed, “Just wait until next week. Give me that long to enjoy the last of her innocence.”

“Deal.” Azazel winked. “Still going to keep said appointment though. So I will see you later. Do me a favor, don’t leave here without me or Bezer. I don’t want you alone until we figure out what Skorn is up to.”

“Fine.” Nikolai sat on the edge of his desk and watched Azazel head for the door. “Send Bezer over before you leave.”

With no real understanding of the concepts of marriage between demons beyond the fact that they were forever and that his was more complicated than most. Nikolai was trying his best to make the eternity they would spend together as enjoyable as possible. While they all seemed to give him the honor of being Master of the house, it was an idea he struggled with. If he was gong to be Master to them, he would be a compassionate one, even if it meant causing himself a great deal of pain, he was going to ensure their happiness. Always.

Jealous as he was, he felt the painful decision to allow Svetlana and Azazel to enjoy one another was the right one. They had been discreet in satisfying their less intimate fetishes, he hoped they would give him the kindness of keeping this new element discreet as well.

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голод : Skorn

“Is there more bacon?” Bezer yawned as she wandered out of the bedroom. “I smell bacon.”

“Nope.” Svetlana kicked Azazel under the table. “He ate it all.”

“Where are you going so early?” Azazel tugged Nikolai’s hair as he walked past the table smiling.

“Work.” Nikolai leaned to kiss his cheek and smiled. “It’s been days, this honeymoon can’t last forever.”

“I’ll go with you.” Bezer pulled Azazel’s tail as she walked by. “Since someone ate all of the bacon anyway.”

“Come on, then.” Nikolai kissed Svetlana goodbye and grabbed his cane on the way out the door. As they left the apartment Bezer took his arm and swung her tail behind her happily. Nikolai could still taste the blood she had given him early that morning, she had crawled on to him and insisted on it with tears in her eyes. “What has you upset?”

“I’m not upset.” Bezer grinned up at him as they walked. “I’m happy. I think we should probably talk about a few things though.”

“I know.” Nikolai sighed. He had hoped to avoid this a while longer, but it was unfair to make her wait. “Can you have Eidolon meet with me?”

“I can.” Bezer answered nervously. “Are you mad?”

“No, my pet.” Nikolai stopped her as they turned into the courtyard. “We seem to have company.”

“That’s not company, Nikolai.” Bezer growled and called for her brother. “Stay behind me.”

“It would be one of mine that showed up first.” Azazel appeared beside Bezer. “Don’t get too close, Nikolai.”

“So, it’s true.” The demoness crossed the courtyard slowly as she stared at Nikolai. Her green eyes brilliant against the grey skin of her face and neck. Her armored black extremities, including the tail that rose above her from the small of her back, glistened  in the morning sun. “Your sister has led you astray, my dear Azazel.”

“And here we go.” Azazel shook his head as Bezer leapt forward, taking form as a tiger as she moved against the demoness. Nikolai felt Azazel’s hand on his shoulder as he stepped past him. “Sorry about this, Nikolai.”

“Bezer!” Nikolai shouted and stepped closer to intervene as he watched the demoness ready for the attack. Bezer shifted form and leapt backward, narrowly avoiding the stinger that came down against her. “Before you attack a guest here, perhaps you should introduce her.”

“She’s no guest of mine.” Bezer growled before she returned to Nikolai’s side and glared at the woman who straightened her pose and crossed her arms across her chest.

“This is Our Lord and Master, our husband, Nikolai.” Azazel stood to the other side of Nikolai and took his arm. His mischievous grin taunting the demoness as he spoke.

“And Skorn was one of the worst ideas my brother ever had.” Bezer hissed as she stepped in front of Nikolai. The demoness was still making her slow approach and her sting was deadly even to some demons, she was not going to allow her the chance to test the venom on a vampire. “Don’t come any closer, bitch.”

“The worst idea he ever had was leaving my side on your behalf.” Skorn returned the insult gladly as she glared at Bezer, “And now the little whore has condemned you to life in the service of one who is not even fit to…”

“Just quit it, would you?” Azazel interrupted laughing. “Your side? Skorn, you are seriously delusional. Fun, but delusional.”

“Skorn, is it?” Nikolai slipped an arm around Bezer’s waist to calm her and Azazel stood close by, watching Skorn closely as Nikolai spoke. “I regret stealing his company from anyone, but Azazel has made his choice. If you wish to talk about this you can join me inside, but it will change nothing.”

“Brave fool.” Skorn was impressed with the vampire, but as lovely and bold as he was, he was still only a vampire. He was unfit in her eyes to keep Azazel from her. She brought her tail down at him quickly but Bezer pulled him away and Azazel caught her by the tail and tossed her across the courtyard.  She shouted her protest at Azazel. “How dare you treat me this way?”

“What did you ever see in that insect?” Bezer growled at her brother.

“I’m a sucker for green eyes.” Azazel winked at Nikolai before he shifted his form and bounded after Skorn. He tackled her to the ground and kept her tail in his jaws as he pulled at the scaled shoulders with his claws.

“Just kill her and be done with it.” Bezer shouted as she walked over with Nikolai. Skorn screamed in pain as Azazel pierced through her armored skin into the tender flesh beneath it. “It’s about time someone squashed the bug anyway.”

“Azazel, let her go.” Nikolai told him sternly as he stroked his ears. “I wont allow this.”

“Why not?” Bezer pouted as she watched Azazel release Skorn and sit obediently beside Nikolai. “She wont stop coming after you.”

“Because she is merciless I have to be?” Nikolai smiled at Bezer before he offered his hand to Skorn. Azazel growled a warning beside him. “If you would be kind enough to postpone your attack, you are welcome to recover here. I would very much like to speak with you.”

“I would very much like to kill you.” Skorn leapt to her feet and sent her tail whipping toward Nikolai once more. It was Azazel who took the sting as he moved between them. “Damn.”

“Azazel!” Bezer screamed as her brother fell back in Nikolai’s arms.

“It’s okay Bezer.” Azazel grinned and leaned up to kiss Nikolai. “Don’t look so worried.”

“He is unharmed.” Skorn sneered. “He has developed a tolerance to it.”

“A lucky thing for you.” Nikolai glared at her. When Azazel got to his feet, Nikolai smiled at her as he ran his slender fingers through the hair of his beloved twins. “Hold her for me.”

He watched as they obeyed and waited until he was sure they had her well restrained before he approached. He grabbed a handful of Skorn’s short hair to pull her head aside and bit into her neck. She cursed in protest and the twins held her still as they watched a side of their Master neither expected to see. He tore into her skin letting as much of her blood spill over her shoulder as he took for himself to drain her.

“How come you get to kill her?” Bezer purred, fascinated by the sudden act of aggression from Nikolai.

“I am not going to kill her.” Nikolai stepped back wiping his face. Her blood was bitter, whatever magic allowed her gift of venom tainted the taste of her blood. He smiled at her weakened face. “I only meant to calm her fury.”

“Gonna behave?” Azazel turned her to face him. Nikolai had taken enough of her blood that all her energy was focused on replenishing it and staying on her feet. He let her go when she nodded weakly.

“If you care to talk, I will be in my office.” Nikolai beckoned the twins to him as he headed for the door. “Otherwise leave. I don’t believe for a second that I am capable of taking your life, but if you insist on attacking I will not stand in their way any longer.”

“Your new play thing is interesting, Azazel.” Skorn held the wound at her throat as it closed. She watched as the door opened for them and Azazel clung to the vampire in adoration. She spoke softly before she returned home to think and to wait. “This is far from over, vampire. If I have to see you and that meddlesome kitten dead, I will have him back.”

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голод : Unbreakable Bonds

“You’ll just have to teach him a few things.” Azazel whispered across to his sister. “But we can work everything out later.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” Bezer frowned.

“You knew that if we ever did this we would both have to make sacrifices.” Azazel sighed. “If this isn’t what you want, just say so.”

“It is.” Bezer told him. “I just don’t know how to make it work.”

“Me either.” Azazel admitted. “I just think it is worth trying.”

“I still can’t believe you kissed him.” Bezer giggled softly a bit jealous that he had beaten her to it. “I just worry that trying is going to ruin everything. Once the decision is made, that’s it. Forever is a long time.”

Nikolai had woken to their whispers and listened silently. Her last words stirred memories, warnings from Artemis.

“It’s also a long time to be alone, Bezer.” Azazel grinned at her. “There aren’t many that can even tolerate both of us. You think we will ever find anyone else that actually wants us both around?”

“It’s not that.” Bezer explained. “It’s the details that bother me. It’s hard to tell someone you love them and then have to tell them they aren’t enough to satisfy you.”

“You think I don’t have the same problem?” Azazel tried to slide from the bed, but he had still been holding Nikolai’s hand and when he tried to pull away he felt the vampire tighten his fingers. Azazel relaxed back into place. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“You didn’t.” Nikolai whispered. “I’ve been awake.”

“You sneak.” Bezer blushed. “You should have said something.”

“I was thinking.” Nikolai told her. “I still am.”

“Svetlana snores.” Azazel giggled as he tried to change the subject. “It’s kind of cute.”

“It is Svetlana that concerns me in all of this.” Nikolai told them. “If I were only considering myself it would be easy to accept your offer. Though I still don’t understand why either of you want this.”

“You could just let us ask her.” Bezer said hopefully. “You don’t have to decide for her.”

“She would agree.” Nikolai explained. “It isn’t her willingness that is an issue. It is what it would involve on my part and what your dear brother wants from her that makes the decision difficult.”

“You know I wouldn’t without your consent.” Azazel frowned at him. “Don’t use me as an excuse.”

“We should discuss this elsewhere.” Nikolai worried that his denial of their request was going to aggravate Azazel and he would wake Svetlana with his shouting.

“You’re starting to piss me off, Nikolai.” Azazel pulled his hand away and leapt from the bed screaming. “Either wake her up and let her decide or leave her out of it and make a decision.”

“Azazel, stop it.” Bezer ran over to him quietly and insisted he calm down. “This isn’t going to help.”

“What’s wrong now?” Svetlana yawned as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. “What decision is worth screaming about this early in the morning?”

“Marriage.” Azazel grinned mischievously.

“Who is getting married?” Svetlana asked sleepily.

“No one if Azazel keeps behaving this way.” Nikolai kissed her forehead. “We have a lot to talk about.”

“I’m done talking.” Azazel announced as he held his phone to his ear. “Hey, can you do me a favor?”

“I am going to shove that phone down your throat.” Nikolai grabbed him by the wrist as he spoke. “You don’t need to involve anyone else.”

“Be there shortly.” Azazel hung up the phone before he answered Nikolai. “I just need you to answer a really simple question.”

“What?” Nikolai sighed.

“Do you love us?” Azazel asked and Bezer stood beside him waiting just as hopeful for the answer. Azazel beckoned for Svetlana to join them and she did so nervously. “And I mean all of us.”

“You know that I do.” Nikolai answered as he watched each of their expressions soften and tears ran down Svetlana’s face. He walked toward them and wiped away her tears.

“Svetlana?” Azazel nudged her. “I hate to ask you so suddenly.”

“More than anything.” Svetlana grabbed Nikolai by the shirt and pulled him close to hug him. “I have loved you for every minute of our time together.”

“And us?” Bezer hung her head and waited.

“Do you really need to ask?” Svetlana took Bezer’s face in her hands and kissed her softly. She blushed when she felt Nikolai’s hand on her shoulder and turned her head to look up at him apologetically.

“Settled then.” Azazel laughed as he took them all to the gates of a dark building somewhere unfamiliar to Nikolai and Svetlana. Azazel led them past the gargoyles that expected his arrival and through the doors that swung open to greet them.

“Where the hell are we?” Svetlana whispered.

“Exactly.” Bezer giggled. “This is Lord Lucifer’s estate.”

“Why did you bring us here, Azazel?” Nikolai asked quietly as he looked around in awe of his surroundings. “We still have things to discuss.”

“Only the little things.” Azazel pushed open a set of doors and led them into an enormous chamber. Empty but for the large throne where Lucifer sat waiting with a beautiful woman at his feet.

“Make this quick.” Lucifer smiled as they approached. “I have other things to do today. You can bicker elsewhere.”

“Lord Lucifer, Mistress Lilith.” Azazel and Bezer were quick to drop to one knee and bow their heads as they spoke in perfect unison.

“My Lord.” Nikolai begrudgingly paid the same respects.

“The Golod vampire, I presume.” Lilith walked over to Nikolai and reached up to lay her hand on his head. She smiled at the nervous girl who stood behind him.

“Nikolai and Svetlana, my love.” Lucifer introduced them quickly. “I had forgotten you have not yet had the pleasure.”

“My apologies for the intrusion.” Nikolai looked up at the woman. A perfect compliment to Lucifer in every way.

“We are used to intrusions.” Lilith smiled before she turned to reclaim her place in front of Lucifer. “What sort of trouble have the cubs been causing you?”

“No trouble.” Nikolai stood slowly as the twins got to their feet. “At least nothing we should have bothered you with.”

“But here you are.” Lucifer laughed. “So what is this favor, Azazel?”

“Bezer and I want to give ourselves to him.” Azazel explained and Bezer nodded in agreement. “Svetlana does as well.”

“You wish to be wed?” Lucifer grinned.

“He is being stubborn about it.” Azazel giggled. “But he will get over it. I came to you because of the bigger problem.”

“He has no way to create the bond on his own.” Bezer explained the dilemma.

“You understand the implications of what you ask?” Lucifer stroked Lilith’s hair as he spoke. “If I help bind you, it is permanent.”

“We thought the cubs untamable.” Lilith laughed softly. “Now they want to give their devotion to one who shares Maefyl’s curse. You must be truly remarkable, Nikolai.”

“You know of Maefyl?” Nikolai became distracted at the mention of the name.

“Very well.” Lilith smiled.

“One thing at a time, vampire.” Lucifer demanded. “A vampire with claim over one of our kind is unheard of. Yet you stand here with not one, but two ready to give themselves to you. Kindly stay focused.”

“Of course, My Lord.” Nikolai bowed his head embarrassed for losing sight of why he was here. “I’ve told Azazel how impossible I find this proposal. He brought us here without waiting for a decision on my part.”

“You can punish me for that later.” Azazel grinned a him and turned back to Lucifer. “Svetlana is just as eager as Bezer and myself. Can it be done?”

“There is nothing I can’t do.” Lucifer grinned and beckoned them closer. “All of you come here.”

“This is worth the intrusion.” Lilith climbed up to Lucifer’s lap to watch him work. He spun a dagger through his fingers and whispered to her as the four of their guests approached.

“Lie your left hand here, Svetlana.” Lucifer tapped the arm of his throne with the dagger. When she hesitated Lilith ribbons of chaos form her fingers to claim the girls hand and hold it in place. “Thank you, my love.”

“Of course, My Lord Lucifer.” Lilith shot Nikolai a glance of warning not to move against them as he watched nervously. “Bezer. Azazel. Your hands.”

“It’s okay Svetlana.” Bezer hugged her and laid her hand on hers.

“Is it?” Svetlana asked. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

“Yea, you do.” Azazel whispered to her as he added his hand. He smiled up at Nikolai when without any prompting the vampire rested his hand on theirs. “Finally giving in?”

“I’m helpless against all of you.” Nikolai smiled.

“This may hurt.” Lucifer smiled as he drove the dagger through their hands. Chaos spilled into the wounds as Svetlana whimpered. Lucifer laughed as she bit her lip.  “I warned you.”

“She doesn’t mind.” Azazel told him. When he felt the pain spreading up his arm he reached over to squeeze her shoulder and comfort her. “It’s worth it.”

“If it succeeds.” Lilith added.

“Meaning?” Nikolai asked as he watched the strange magic at work. The mist pulling their blood with it as it pushed it’s way into the wounds.

“Meaning it isn’t my power alone that will bind the four of you.” Lucifer explained. “I’m only providing the magic necessary. If the four of you truly want this, truly love one another, it will become obvious and the bond will be unbreakable.”

“And if not?” Bezer asked angry at the idea that it could possibly fail.

“If not, I will be canceling my other arrangements, because I imagine this will be far more entertaining.” Lucifer laughed as he watched the four of them gladly suffering the pain as it increased. The blade of the dagger that pierced through their left hands burned brightly as it catered to their desires and he smiled. “It seems I will be keeping those appointments.”

They watched as the mist concentrated and wrapped around each of their ring fingers before it burned so badly they all wanted to tear free of it, but not one of them moved until the pain stopped and Lucifer removed the blade.

Nikolai and the twins healed almost instantly but being human meant Svetlana would need assistance. Nikolai took her hand and ran his finger across the gash as Bezer squealed happily behind him.

“Look! New stripes!” Bezer pounced on Nikolai’s back and held her hand in front of him. Around her ring finger were four perfect thin black bands; until she had pointed it out he had been too concerned with Svetlana bleeding to notice that they had the same bands. Svetlana pounced up into his arms and kissed him when she noticed.

“Happy now, Azazel?” Nikolai asked as he sat Svetlana down and turned to see the demon sitting on the floor facing away from him. He crouched behind Azazel and wrapped his arms around him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Azazel sniffled as he leaned back against him and wiped his face before he admired the wedding bands that wrapped his finger and took Nikolai’s hand in his. “Nothing at all.”

“You’ll have to tell me later why you were crying then.” Nikolai whispered and kissed his cheek before he stood and bowed his head to Lucifer. “You have our thanks.”

“No need.” Lucifer waved off the gratitude and focused his attention on Lilith. “I will return soon.”

“I have plenty to gossip about in the meantime.” Lilith nodded and kissed him before she turned to smile at the guests he left her to see off in his absence. “This news may stir up a bit of trouble for you. It may be for the best that you go enjoy your wedding day at home.”

They all said their goodbyes and Azazel brought them back to the apartment and waited for Nikolai to start screaming at him. For the moment Nikolai was distracted by the girls fawning over him, so Azazel leaned against the wall and waited patiently.

“Do we get to sleep here all the time now?” Bezer purred beside him.

“I may need a bigger apartment, my pet.” Nikolai smiled at her. “I suppose you also want to celebrate?”

They both nodded and Nikolai watched Azazel duck into the kitchen.

“Put on some music then,” Nikolai said as he stood to follow the suddenly very quiet Azazel. “Give me a moment.”

Azazel was leaning on the counter with his head down. His whimpers barely audible over the girls’ laughter and the music they had already turned up far too loud.

“Regrets already?” Nikolai asked as he leaned on the counter beside Azazel.

“No.” Azazel smiled. “Don’t be an idiot.”

“Then tell me why you are crying.” Nikolai insisted. “You were the one who wanted this.”

“I was petrified.” Azazel admitted. “You know why Lucifer would have found it so amusing for this to fail?”

“Because he is horrible and enjoys watching me suffer.” Nikolai grinned.

“Because he knows me well enough to know what would have happened.” Azazel explained. “I know how I feel, how Bezer feels, and I can read Svetlana as easily as I read her diary. You, I can never figure out. If it failed it would have meant you lied to me. I would have ripped you to shreds.”

“Comforting.” Nikolai put his arm around Azazel and let him cry against his chest. “Just be glad you didn’t have to. Now try to enjoy the fact you got what you wanted before we have to work out the details you were so quick to ignore.”

“Okay.” Azazel smiled up at him. “And don’t worry so much, I haven’t ignored anything. We will make this work.”

“We will have to, now that you have given me no choice.” Nikolai ran his fingers up Azazel’s neck. “Would you care to explain the trouble Lilith mentioned?”

“Nothing for you to worry about.” Azazel hoped he was right as he crawled up into Nikolai’s arms and tilted his head. He and Bezer had left quite a few spurned lovers in their reckless wake. “Go ahead.”

Nikolai accepted the offer, biting harder when Azazel began to purr. Once again he had allowed himself to be swept along by his companions, another oddity accepted as he changed in another impossible way, and he could not have been happier.

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голод : The Twisted Circle

“Just listen.” Nikolai sighed. “There is another problem. I think I only truly realized I loved her when I realized I also loved someone else. How am I supposed to sort that out? What kind of life can I offer her if I can’t love her alone? How can I ask her to join me for an eternity and tell her I also want someone else?”

“You are about as fucked as me and Bezer.” Azazel laughed. “I can’t even begin to explain how impossible it is for either of us to ever live happily ever after.”

“Does anyone?” Nikolai answered sadly and mindlessly wiped a tear from his face. He stared at his wet fingers and realized how pathetic he found himself. “I just have no idea how to deal with any of this.”

“Me either.” Azazel admitted. “We need to figure something out, though. Have you told Bezer?”

“Told her what?” Nikolai was surprised with how easily he confessed things to Azazel that he had barely admitted to himself.

“That you love her?” Azazel blurted out as he tugged at Nikolai’s ponytail.

“No.” Nikolai closed his eyes. “How can I admit that to anyone. To satisfy Svetlana, I would have to risk her life. Your sister is insatiable by any standard, and I can offer her nothing. And you are impossible.”

“I am not impossible, Nikolai.” Azazel leaned up and kissed Nikolai quickly before he could react. “And I love you too. I am not the problem.”

“Why would you do that?” Nikolai could still feel the warmth of the kiss when Azazel laid back across his lap smiling. “That doesn’t make things any easier.”

“Of course it does.” Azazel told him. “It’s one problem out of the way. Just don’t expect me to get all fucking cute with you.”

“There is something very wrong with all of us.” Nikolai ran his fingers through Azazel’s hair. “You do realize that I can do absolutely nothing for any of you, but you least of all.”

“I don’t want or expect you to do a damn thing for me.” Azazel explained. “Just don’t expect chastity on my part. You can’t expect it of Bezer either.”

“Why are we even talking about this?” Nikolai sighed. “It hardly matters what I expect, I have no claim on any of you.”

“Shut up a minute.” Azazel insisted as he pulled out his phone and poked at the screen before impatiently waiting for a reply. He exchanged several messages as he grinned and swung his tail.

“Azazel, this isn’t funny.” Nikolai tried to take the phone and get him to focus, but Azazel countered his efforts by taking hold of him and pulling him to his feet.

“It wasn’t meant to be funny.” Azazel explained. “I needed to check with Bezer.”

“About what?” Nikolai hoped Azazel had not confessed anything on his behalf. “I wanted this to stay between us.”

“That’s not exactly fair.” Azazel told him. “It involves all four of us. If this is going to work at all we are not going to be able to keep secrets from each other.”

“If what is going to work?” Nikolai demanded as he took Azazel by the shoulders. “It would help if you would stop playing games.”

“Take your own advice would you?” Azazel laughed. “I can at least make part of this easy for you. As long as you aren’t stupid about it. If you can deal with the fact we have needs. Me and Bezer are all yours.”

“What?” Nikolai was unsure of what he was hearing from the demon. He hoped Azazel would clarify things while he tried to gather his thoughts.

“Yours.” Azazel explained. “We would have to figure out some details, but basically married.”

“Married?” Nikolai felt like he had fallen through the floor. He laughed as he sat. “To the both of you? With no hope of ever consummating any such union with either of you? And an understanding that neither of you will be faithful. And tell me, where does Svetlana fit into this twisted vision of yours?”

“It’s no more twisted than what we already have going.” Azazel joined Nikolai on the floor. “Would you at least think about it?”

“What you are suggesting is repulsive.” Nikolai told him. “The last thing I want to do is think about it.”

“Do it anyway.” Azazel grinned and they were back in the apartment, facing each other as they sat on the carpet. “Bezer, vodka!”

“You should have brought more.” Svetlana slurred as she spoke.as she watched Bezer toss Azazel the bottle he had left behind. “What took you two so long?”

“You have had enough to drink, my pet.” Nikolai took the bottle from her and set it aside. He leaned over and kissed her before he sat between the girls and took Bezer by the wrist. “And I have not had nearly enough.”

Bezer giggled as he bit into her arm. She smiled over to her brother as he sat on the coffee table in front of them. His mood had improved but from his earlier messages she expected that to change again. Even though they had promised each other to keep their feeling to themselves for the sake of friendship, neither of them had been very good at hiding those feelings. She could not really scold him for what she was guilty of herself.

“Thank you for that.” Nikolai kissed Bezer’s wrist before he rested his head back against the back of the couch and closed his eyes. Both Svetlana and Bezer cuddled against him and rested their heads on his shoulders. The warmth of the two of them, and the gift of Bezer’s blood flowing through him made it hard to maintain focus on any one of the thoughts in his head.

“Want us to go?” Azazel offered. He had not wanted to end the gathering early, but it had been a long day for all of them. He thought maybe it was best to put the day behind them.

“Not really.” Nikolai admitted as he lifted his head to look at Azazel. He still thought the proposal ridiculous, but he had a point. The Circle of Golod was already a twisted group, there seemed to be nothing about their friendship that Nikolai would have ever thought of as normal. They were changing him in impossible ways as he accepted each new oddity they presented.

“It’s still early.” Svetlana pouted. The funeral seemed to have soured everyone’s mood but her own. “Don’t go.”

“I think Nikolai wants a nap.” Bezer moved to stand but stopped when she felt Nikolai tighten his arm around her. “We can just hang out tomorrow.”

“I didn’t ask anyone to leave.” Nikolai lifted Bezer and Svetlana with him when he stood and doubted every step as he carried them toward his room. “I do however want to sleep.”

“I must be very drunk.” Svetlana rubbed her forehead as he laid her on the bed and pulled Bezer beside him when he joined her. He kissed her and she made herself comfortable. Bezer seemed just as confused and just as willing to cuddle up beside him. As they smiled across his chest at each other they rested their hands together. “Is it weird that I am okay with this?”

“Very.” Nikolai sighed. “But strange seems to be normal for us.”

“Is this a yes?” Azazel asked from the door his tail swaying behind him gave away his delight in what Nikolai had done.

“Just let me sleep, Azazel.” Nikolai smiled as he closed his eyes. “I’m not making any promises tonight, just lay down.”

“Deal.” Azazel purred as he agreed and Svetlana jumped nervously when she felt him crawl behind her. He settled her quickly when he laid his arm over her and laced his fingers through Nikolai’s. “Night, Master Nikolai.”

“Good night, my pets.” Nikolai thought to himself he would have another reason to hate himself in the morning, but for the moment he set aside reason and let himself fall asleep in the embrace of everything he cared for, everyone he loved.

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голод : Twisting

“I hate these clothes.” She pouted as she took Nikolai by the arm and leaned against him.

“It is only a few hours.” Nikolai assured her. “You could have cheated like Bezer.”

“I dressed up!” Bezer protested. She had refused to wear a dress and instead wore a suit that matched her brothers. While Azazel had managed to keep his in one piece however, Bezer had torn the dress shirt off at her ribs and torn the coat and pants at her elbows and knees so she could move easier.

“I’m just glad you all came.” Svetlana smiled until she heard another comment about the ‘tragedy’ of demons at the funeral. “I’m sorry. Her friends are about as pleasant as she was.”

“No worries, Blondie.” Bezer told her as she pushed up her sleeves. “We wouldn’t leave you to suffer alone.”

“I just want this over with.” Svetlana sighed as she noticed more people arriving. “I’ll be back.”

“She’s going to need some cheering up later.” Bezer watched Svetlana at the door. The routine of this event was exhausting to watch. She was almost glad for the people speaking in whispers about the Circle being in attendance. Many of the guests seemed to have been friends from a church that was no longer standing, but most of them still seemed to cling to faith. “You going to want company?”

“I’ll leave that up to her.” Nikolai explained quietly. “While they were not close, it is the last of her family. Let her decide how to deal with it.”

“Looks like you have fans everywhere, Azazel.” Svetlana walked over long enough to hand him scraps of paper from the giggling girls across the room. He just nodded quietly and stuffed the notes in his pocket. Svetlana noticed he hadn’t said much of anything all day and it was unlike him to turn down flattery. “You Okay?”

“Yea.” He lied. This room smelled of death and there was nothing okay today. He forced himself to smile long enough for her to return to the crowd.

“Why is she having this thing anyway?” Bezer whispered to Nikolai. “It seems like such a waste, it’s not like any of them really care.”

“It’s what her mother wanted.” Nikolai sighed. “I am more concerned with the fact she seems unaffected by the loss.”

“If they weren’t close, why would she be?” Bezer continued to speak quietly.

“She’s human.” Nikolai glanced back over his shoulder at Svetlana. She had not shed a tear. “We. Rather they, are very affected by death.”

“I need a minute.” Azazel pushed past Nikolai and headed outside.

“Should I?” Nikolai was about to follow after him but Bezer caught his arm. “Is he angry with me again?”

“He is in a bad mood.” Bezer kept her voice soft as she explained what she could. She and Azazel had agreed to leave certain things between them. “Whatever it is that has his tail in a twist can wait. We aren’t here to make things harder on her. Just leave it alone for now.”

Once Svetlana had said her final goodbyes and all the guests had finally departed, she kicked off the heels she had forced herself to wear and stood barefoot beside Nikolai.

“I am starving.” She exclaimed as she stretched. “I need to get out of these clothes and eat something.”

“I can at least help with part of that.” Azazel took her hand and watched her fascination with his magic. The dark jacket and dress faded away, beneath them a pink baby doll t-shirt and black Capri pants. “Better?”

“Shoes?” Svetlana lifted her foot and wriggled her toes at him as she laughed.

“Needy.” Azazel winked at her and she suddenly had new pink sneakers and black socks. He grabbed Nikolai’s hand and grinned. “Your turn.”

“Azazel, if I see a single thread of pink.” Nikolai pulled the demon to him as he felt the magic start to spread across his skin. Azazel hugged him tightly as he finished returning Nikolai to simple casual attire.

“Aren’t you going to change?” Bezer just ripped the remaining sleeves from her shirt and jacket as she watched her brother.

“When I look this good?” Azazel straightened his lapels and giggled. Bezer leapt onto his back when he turned to show off.

“Are you two coming?” Svetlana asked as she pulled Nikolai along the sidewalk beside her. “I need to eat.”

After a late dinner they all settled in the apartment hoping to distract Svetlana from any grief she may have been hiding from them. Svetlana was glad as usual for the company, but could not find a good way to tell them it was unnecessary. She didn’t really have any grief that needed tending to. She had been frustrated with the obligation, the paper work, and the details; but there was never any sadness. They simply had not been close enough for her to feel anything.

Azazel on the other hand was feeling plenty on her behalf. He had so many things running through his head that he was finding it difficult to focus on any of them. He had remained quiet through dinner and sat quietly now on the couch working on a fifth bottle of vodka.

“Will you excuse us a moment?” Nikolai had finally had enough of the demons silence and offered his hand to him as he stood. Bezer and Svetlana were deep in girlish conversation of clothing and he could afford to leave them long enough to sort a few things out with Azazel. “Let’s take a walk.”

Azazel nodded and took his hand. They walked for several blocks before either of them said a word. Nikolai realized that the conversation they were about to have was likely to get heated and had led them to the Circle building for the privacy it would offer.

“I appreciate you waiting.” Nikolai sat on the stairs and looked up at Azazel. “Now, say what you have to say.”

“You wont like it.” Azazel told him as he sat beside him.

“I know.” Nikolai turned to him. “But this is going to blow up at some point. I would rather get it over with.”

“Why haven’t you turned her?” Azazel asked as plainly as he could. “Or are you just going to wait until you have to put her in a box next to her mother?”

“I have a number of reasons.” Nikolai told him. “The first of which is my own cowardice, I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t want to lose her to my ignorance. The second is uncertainty, I’m not even sure she would accept the offer if I extended it to her. Shall I go on?”

“Please do.” Azazel nodded. “Because so far all I’m hearing is that you are afraid of losing her. Which is going to happen anyway if you do nothing.”

“I would think the last thing you would want is for me to turn her.” Nikolai leered at him. “Wouldn’t that complicate things for you?”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Azazel glared back at him.

“Do you really think I’m that naïve?” Nikolai laughed. “I may not have the experience you do, but I’m not blind Azazel. I know that you want her.”

“Nikolai.” Azazel gathered his thoughts before he spoke. He did not want the conversation to turn into a screaming match. If they were going to resolve anything they would both need to stay calm enough to think. He frowned as he stared at the floor and continued. “I won’t deny it. But I promise you I haven’t done anything.”

“I know that.” Nikolai put his arm around the demon and pulled him close. “Each time you bring her back to me, I expect that to have changed. I applaud you both for fighting what you want.”

“If you don’t trust me, why do you keep letting me take her at all?” Azazel leaned his head against Nikolai. “Especially if you think she feels the same way?”

“I know she does.” Nikolai could see they were all changing. All growing closer in ways that he could hardly believe possible. A few years ago he would have thought all of it impossible. “Maybe you and your sister have corrupted me, but for some reason I just can’t seem to be angry about any of this. It hurts that either of you tried to keep it from me, but I know why you did. And I do trust you. Both of you.”

“You probably shouldn’t.” Azazel purred as he put his arms around Nikolai. “You have no idea how hard it is.”

“Of course I do.” Nikolai sighed. “I’m not as open about things as you are, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have desires of my own. There is just no point in acting on them as no one I care for is going to be happy with what little I can offer.”

“Do you love her?” Azazel was pained by the question and Nikolai was almost frightened by it. “I’ve never once heard either of you say it.”

“I do.” Nikolai admitted and continued to confess his twisted nature. “I think I avoid telling her because I’m afraid that she does not return the feeling.”

“You’re an idiot.” Azazel giggled. “Of course she does.”

“Just listen.” Nikolai sighed. “There is another problem. I think I only truly realized I loved her when I realized I also loved someone else. How am I supposed to sort that out? What kind of life can I offer her if I can’t love her alone? How can I ask her to join me for an eternity and tell her I also want someone else?”

“You are about as fucked as me and Bezer.” Azazel laughed. “I can’t even begin to explain how impossible it is for either of us to ever live happily ever after.”

“Does anyone?” Nikolai answered sadly and mindlessly wiped a tear from his face. He stared at his wet fingers and realized how pathetic he found himself. “I just have no idea how to deal with any of this.”

“Me either.” Azazel admitted. “We need to figure something out, though. Have you told Bezer?”

“Told her what?” Nikolai was surprised with how easily he confessed things to Azazel that he had barely admitted to himself.

“That you love her?” Azazel blurted out as he tugged at Nikolai’s ponytail.

 

“No.” Nikolai closed his eyes. “How can I admit that to anyone. To satisfy Svetlana, I would have to risk her life. Your sister is insatiable by any standard, and I can offer her nothing. And you are impossible.”

“I am not impossible, Nikolai.” Azazel leaned up and kissed Nikolai quickly before he could react. “And I love you too. I am not the problem.”

“Why would you do that?” Nikolai could still feel the warmth of the kiss when Azazel laid back across his lap smiling. “That doesn’t make things any easier.”

“Of course it does.” Azazel told him. “It’s one problem out of the way. Just don’t expect me to get all fucking cute with you.”

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голод : The Head of Golod Pt.2

“Azazel.” Nikolai turned to him and noticed he was just as concerned with Kage’s last remark. “Would you bring Svetlana?”

“Yes, Master Nikolai.” Azazel winked and was gone. Bezer returned to Nikolai’s side and leaned against his arm a moment. She wished she could offer more in the way of comfort but wanted Kage to see how much Nikolai had grown in such a short time.

“It almost pains me to see you answer to such a child, Bezer.” Kage’s gaze was like ice. “Your skills are wasted here.”

“I’m happy here, Lord Kage.” Bezer responded quietly knowing the simple truth would only bring further insult. “Nikolai isn’t a child.”

“Happy or not, surely I could make better use of your talents.” Kage’s voice stung their ears as he voiced his proposal. “If your young master would spare you for a few hours, I could remind you of how well I make use of them.”

“I wont allow it.” Nikolai wrapped his arm around Bezer and pulled her close. “Her needs are well met elsewhere, she has no need to suffer your touch and I would sooner die then send her to your bed.”

Silence fell over the hall as Kage stared at him. Bezer flushed and was left speechless by the words Nikolai had shouted in her defense. Kage’s crushing presence made it difficult for Nikolai to keep his composure, he felt his legs weakening and was forcing himself to stare back at the demon with every bit of strength he had left in him. The sharp grin that grew on Kage’s face told him to expect retaliation. The silence was only broken when Azazel returned with Svetlana.

“Perfect timing.” Kurayami laughed. He had been silently watching the standoff and expecting violence to erupt. Kage turned to leer at him and he silenced his laughter and hung his head in obedient response. “Forgive me, Lord Kagami.”

“It seems you keep more than one pet, vampire.” Kage stepped toward Svetlana and Azazel to introduce himself as he spoke. He extended his hand to Svetlana and she backed into Azazel shaking. At her refusal to take his greeting he withdrew his hand and turned to Nikolai. “Each more interesting than the next. At least this one knows enough to fear me.”

“Come here, my pet.” Nikolai smiled as he beckoned her. She ran past Kage and clung to him and Azazel followed to stand beside them. With Bezer in one arm and Svetlana in the other Nikolai returned his attention to the demon. “I cherish each of them. If you feel the need to threaten them, you are not welcome in Golod.”

“I don’t threaten.” Kage approached and took Azazel’s chin in his hand to force his attention. “Do I, cub?”

“No, Lord Kage.” Azazel dutifully affirmed the demons words. Kage never bothered to threaten anyone. If he felt the need to act, he would do so. There was never a need for idle words when action served to prove a better means of making his point.

“No, you prefer to intimidate.” Nikolai felt Bezer pull at his hair to caution him, but at this point he did not want to show Kage any more weakness. If he was ever going to gain any respect at all from the demons he shared a title with, he would half to stand his ground against them. He had no chance of besting them physically, his magic was weak in comparison and he lacked their experience and skill. “I may be a child in your eyes, but Lucifer has seen fit to place me in a role as your equal. Like it or not, I am Master here. You are here as a my guest. Behave accordingly or leave.”

“Well done, Nikolai.” Lucifer arrived unannounced as always and interrupted any chance Kage had to retort. “You have to admit he has potential, Kage.”

“I admit nothing.” Kage hissed. “It is easy to speak bold words when one has you to defend him.”

“He made no call for me.” Lucifer laughed as Kage scowled at the vampire. He knew his old friend wanted nothing more than to rip the vampire apart. “Now calm yourself. You forced him into a defensive stance, and his words have done you no harm.”

“You expect me not to act on such insults?” Kage hissed at Lucifer.

“I expect nothing.” Lucifer smiled at him playfully. “The only thing he has raised against you is his voice. If you are so wounded by the words of one you think beneath you that you feel the need to act, by all means, attack. Show me how badly the words of the vampire have hurt you.”

“Good day, Lucifer.” Kage left as he hissed the words.

“Great.” Kurayami sighed. Kage had left him to make his own way home and the vampire was still struggling with the skill of moving himself over such distances. He wished he had brought Demise along for the trip. “Guess I’m stuck here ‘til he cools off.”

“Azazel, would you take Mist home?” Nikolai asked as he dropped his arms from around the girls and sat on the floor. He looked up at Kurayami sadly. “I really didn’t mean to offend him.”

“Yes you did, baby bat.” Kurayami smirked down at him. “He pissed you off and you did something about it. I would give you a pat on the back, but I think condolences would be more appropriate. You probably made an enemy for life.”

“I assure you the wound to Kage’s pride was a small one.” Lucifer sat in front of Nikolai and laughed. “He will recover from it quickly.”

“You ready?” Azazel asked as he took Kurayami’s arm.

“Yea,” Kurayami nodded and extended an offer to Nikolai. “Once he gets over wanting to kill you, come by and see me again.”

“I hate that guy.” Azazel said after sending Kurayami back to Tsumi. He had not even bothered to go along, just shifted the vampire to his own courtyard and flopped on to the floor beside Lucifer. He wasted no time in starting to scold Nikolai. “What the fuck were you thinking? You know I would have no way of stopping him if he attacked you, right?”

“Why would you say those things to him?” Svetlana added with tears in her eyes. She had spent the entire time barely able to breathe; she was only able to stand because Nikolai held her beside him. “What is he?”

“You really didn’t need to do that.” Bezer told him. She was still a bit flustered by the situation and trying to decide how to react to his defense of her. She considered the weight of his words and wondered if they meant as much to him as they had to her. She decided it was best to wait and discuss it with him later and just hugged him a moment before she settled on the floor with Azazel.

“I apologize for troubling you,” Nikolai bowed his head as he spoke to Lucifer. He was relieved at the Dark Lords arrival for a change, but no less embarrassed that he had once again decided to intervene. “I over spoke.”

“You asserted yourself.” Lucifer grinned. “I knew you would do well here, and while you chose an interesting time to start living up to expectations, there is nothing to apologize for.”

“I still owe you thanks for stepping in.” Nikolai sighed. “I got angry. I never should have spoken to him that way.”

“What’s done is done.” Lucifer told him as he patted each of the twins on the head and gave them a wink. His voice remaining to finish his thought, as he seemed to dissolve into the air around them. “Just don’t make a habit of offending Kagami. For now I will leave you to soak up the affection you’ve earned.”

“How is your mother?” Nikolai asked as he pulled Svetlana to his lap. He had allowed her to be pulled into his nonsense and had no way to apologize for it.

“Not great.” Svetlana answered sadly. They were never all that close, but the thought of losing the only family she really had was still upsetting. “I should probably spend what time she has left with her.”

“I would offer to join you.” Nikolai knew it was best that he kept his distance. Svetlana’s mother had hated him from their first introduction, once he was placed in the Circle her hatred only grew. The woman had been a devout Christian and the idea of her daughter taking up with someone she hadn’t married was and enough, the thought of her with a demon conjured up thoughts of damnation and she had a multitude of unpleasant things to say about Nikolai.

“Azazel showing up was bad enough.” Svetlana shook her head in frustration. “She is probably still ranting about it.”

“She did seem rather put off.” Azazel laughed. The old woman had started screaming and rambling off prayers at the sight of him in the doorway. He managed to show restraint for Svetlana, but he had wanted to kill the woman when she turned her rage on her own daughter. “If I had known she was going to flip out I would have changed or something. You never talk about her, I had no idea.”

“It’s ok, she’s always been a bit extreme.” Svetlana sighed. “I should get back though.”

“Why?” Azazel asked her confused as to why anyone would subject themselves to the woman’s insults.

“Leave it alone, Azazel.” Nikolai insisted. He was never happy with the way the woman treated Svetlana. She was cold and demanding. Often cruel for no reason beyond her assumption that her daughter was living in sin. Nikolai ran his fingers over her hair and kissed her. “If you need anything, my pet.”

“I’ll call if I do.” She smiled at him before she stood up and headed for the door.

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