“He seems like a nice kid.” Shana smiled at Raziel.
“More so than most.” Raziel nodded as he sent very specific orders to Galik to take care of the sudden appearance of a drug that Vex was supposed to be free of. He also sent a message to Brig to work with Vikarr’s succubi to be certain the incident was isolated and not a sign of something larger slithering it’s way into the city. Once he had responses he slid his phone onto the desk. “Did you want to discuss something, puppet?”
Shana nodded and followed Raziel to his chair. She was surprised when he offered his lap, but gladly took his hand and settled there with a flush in her cheeks.
“I find it amusing you were so vocal when trying to claim a right to my affection, but now that you are entitled to come to me you rarely make an effort to do so.” Raziel ran a finger along the line of her jaw and let his fingertip resting under her chin as he spoke to her. “I try to cater to each of your needs, but as there are four of you to satisfy I do rely somewhat on each of you to…”
“I can’t just demand time with you.” Shana smiled. “I like being with you, but I’m okay with whatever free time you give me.”
“Stubborn girl.” Raziel cocked his head slightly. “Who do you think you are lying to?”
“It’s not really a lie.” Shana sighed and poked at the rings on her ear. “I am just being realistic. We don’t have the same kind of bond. I don’t feel I should try and take any time away from those with a proper right to you. Plus I think Brig prefers things the way they are. It makes it easier on him to know exactly when we are together and what is going on.”
“Knowing, yes.” Raziel licked up the rings on Shana’s ear. “But there are times when seeing it is painful for him. Brig is complicated.”
“I know that.” Shana laughed and leaned back to look at Raziel. “You know it is about more than sex for me though. I’m just as interested in time spent together with our clothes on. I don’t know how to do that without making Brig feel left out.”
“I believe that is part of why Brig has insisted on more social gatherings.” Raziel kissed her face. “The two of you have so many of the same concerns. You each want my love but still put each other’s hearts above all else.”
“Sorry.” Shana lowered her eyes. “It’s not easy loving two people.”
“Try four.” Raziel pulled her close. “I don’t fault either of you for it. I am grateful for the love you give me, puppet. The situation is simpler for Van and Galik. They belong only to me. You and Brig had one another before I claimed you as my own; you both have my understanding and respect of the vows you took.”
“How is it so easy for you?” Shana laid her head on Raziel’s shoulder and made herself comfortable in his arms and he pulled his chair up to his desk. “You just hold whichever of us is close enough. Are you ever disappointed it isn’t the one you wanted right then?”
“Are you concerned that I am disappointed now?” Raziel slid his computer closer and started to look over his Circle business. “I love each of you. If I did not enjoy your company I would not have you near me.”
“I mean would you rather have Van on your lap?” Shana regretted the question when she heard it come out of her mouth. Raziel never denied any of them.
“I would rather you rid yourself of these doubts.” Raziel stroked her back and gathered a few of her braids in his fingers. Shana had confidence in most aspects of her life, but when it came to her place in this family her esteem wavered. Raziel often saw her thoughts leading her into doubt and depression as she compared herself to Van and to the demons and vampires she had become acquainted with in other Circles. Raziel could understand the way she admired the demon aesthetic, but he disliked the way she discounted her own beauty on account of it. “You are a clever girl, very beautiful, and every bit as entitled to my time as any of my puppets. I am also not inclined to demand our every moment alone be spent in intimate passion. You can come to me for anything, Shana. You may have a different bond with me than the others, but you are still my bride.”
“Thank you.” Shana grabbed his clothes and pulled herself tight against him. “If you have some time later, I could use someone for duets.”
“I’ll make time.” Raziel tightened his embrace and willed open his office for Brig’s return.
“Keeping each other warm for me?” Brig smirked when he came inside swinging Cid and Tali by their feet.
“Shana is quite cold, actually.” Raziel answered as he finished answering a few messages and read over several others. “I apologize for the extra work.”
“My dinner was seriously late.” Shana grinned at Brig. “Are you all finished?”
“Sorry, ShaSha.” Brig let the fargoyles climb up his arms as he walked to the desk. They were both quick to fly off and find ways to entertain themselves when Brig leaned over his spouses and braced himself against the edge of the desk and the back of Raziel’s chair. Brig rarely had the dilemma of greeting them both at the same time and decided on etiquette for the decision of who got the first kiss. Shana caressed his neck as they kissed and Brig could feel Raziel watching them. Watching the same way he would watch Van and Galik. Brig turned to smile at Raziel when Shana kissed her way down his neck and bit into it. “You enjoy that?”
“Watching the beautiful creatures I’ve surrounded myself with in wildly unchecked passion?” Raziel leaned closer and licked Brig’s lips. “Yes.”
“Vikarr’s girls are checking, but it looks like whatever problem you found is not affecting all of Vex.” Brig wiped Shana’s lips as she relaxed back into Raziel’s arms. “Any other trouble you need me to take care of?”
“No.” Raziel laid his hand on Brig’s side. “Van and Galik are bringing the rest of the days trouble.”
“Bringing?” Shana asked and sat up further.
“I want Bishop’s young friend to understand this mercy will not be repeated.” Raziel watched Brig stand and lost his will to speak when he felt Brig’s fingers disrupting the simple magic that he used to keep his hair smoothed back away from his face. Brig shook the strands loose and pulled some of the hair along the side of his face so it fell much like Galik’s. “I do not intend to keep my hair like this, it is distracting.”
“You should do it anyway.” Demise giggled from Brig’s shoulder. “It looks good.”
“She’s right.” Brig smiled. “What do you think, ShaSha?”
“Sexy.” Shana nodded. “I like it.”
“Let go of me!” Zack whined as Galik dragged him up the stairs. “I didn’t do anything.”
“Bzzt!” Van teased as she bounced up the stairs behind them sucking on her lollipop. “You broke Tsuriai law. You should be as dead as disco.”
“What is disco?” Frikk reached for the stick of Van’s lollipop as she leaned over her shoulder. Van grinned as she clicked it across her teeth. “Oh, boo. Almost got it that time.”
“Cheesy old music.” Van answered laughing.
“Stop squirming.” Galik pulled Zack along and sighed as the boy grabbed the railing. “Why didn’t you want to just come back the fast way?”
“Because this is hilarious!” Van laughed. “How much you want to bet he soaks his shorts before Raziel is done with him?”
“I won’t do the shit anymore.” Zack whimpered when Van smacked his fingers off the railing. “I don’t want to die. Let me go.”
“You’re stupid.” Frakk yawned as he flapped along beside Galik. “I like the other one better.”
“Hi, Razzy!” Van ran ahead and peeked into the office. “Hi, you guys!”
“Welcome back, puppet.” Raziel stood and sat Shana to her feet beside Brig before he shifted in front of his desk. Van winked at him as she skipped over and stood beside him proudly. Frikk dropped to the desk behind them and opened one of the drawers to get herself some candy.
“This is more trouble than it’s worth, Lord Raziel.” Galik tossed Zack forward onto the floor in front of Raziel. “Why are we not killing this one?”
“A favor to a more honorable human.” Raziel very quickly gathered all the information he needed from the boys mind. The party hosted by his female friend was an isolated incident. The HP had been provided by a visiting family member who had already left Vex. All of it had been used or destroyed by Galik. “Though I won’t have my mercy insulted.”
“He will not have the chance to insult it.” Lilith arrived and kicked Zack flat against the floor. “The rules this child broke were not a mandate of your Circle, Raziel. My Lord will not tolerate leniency for this.”
“Then your Lord can explain the broken word to this child’s friend.” Raziel answered coldly. “Why are you here, Lilith?”
“Cover her eyes, Brig.” Lilith grinned as she wrapped sharp threads of magic around the boy under her feet. As Zack started screaming from the pain of the threads slicing into his skin and cursing barely articulated thoughts about his predicament, Brig held Shana in front of him, but she refused the offer to shield her from what was going to happen. Lilith smiled at the girl’s growing courage before she returned her attention to the Keeper. “You supported this law, Raziel. I’m here to ensure it is upheld and let you keep your hands clean.”
Zack was screaming from the pain of the threads slicing into his skin, cursing over his predicament and barely able to articulate his thoughts.
“Since when does Lucifer care about the state of my hands?” Raziel stepped toward Lilith as she gave him a wicked smile. “Do not expect my gratitude for this.”
“Can we have his wheel thing?” Frakk tugged at Galik’s pants.
“It’s called a skateboard, Frakk.” Van laughed quietly and swatted at him.
“It is Bishop you’re interested in.” Raziel watched Lilith closely as she tightened the strands to make the child scream.
“A human with such strong ethics.” Lilith grinned. “Willing to see his peers, his own family, die for the sake of goodness. He lives without concern for himself. He is more than interesting, Keeper.”
Lilith pulled all of her threads through Zack, leaving torn shreds of flesh on the floor and splattering Raziel and his puppets with blood and remains of the boy. She hovered above the mess and delicately crossed her ankles as she laughed.
“This is disgusting.” Shana wiped off slivers of what used to be a human teenager. “I thought Brig made a mess.”
“You should see what was left of his friends.” Van boasted and licked up the blood on Galik’s shoulder. “Messes are fun.”
“You value the boy for his uncommon nature, but this will test it.” Raziel wiped clean his office and his puppets as he approached Lilith. “He has already been through enough.”
“Which is why I fully expect you to look after him until I have time to collect him.” Lilith grinned. “He’s such a delicate soul. See that he’s comforted.”
“What do you want with him, doll face?” Brig rested his chin on Shana’s head. “Teenagers aren’t exactly in short supply. Why is this one special?”
“Mistress.” Shana whispered and stepped on Brig’s foot when she noticed the glare that accompanied Lilith’s grin.
“Right.” Brig sighed. “Mistress Lilith, I didn’t mean any disrespect. I’m just curious.”
“The rarest toys are the most fun to break.” Raziel interrupted. “Boys of his age may be plentiful, but not of his moral passion. He holds himself to a standard that he created for himself. His values often cause him pain, but he chooses to rise above it, not unlike yourself, puppet.”
“Bite your tongue, Keeper.” Lilith laughed. “You may be able to see my thoughts, but if you share a single one…”
“Lilith, your interference has already ensured I have to further postpone my plans.” Raziel gestured for the door. “Instead of using your Lord to threaten me, by all means return to his side so I might comfort the child you plan to torment and spend at least some time with those I love before I have to sit again at your Lord’s table.”
“Just take your puppets home and fuck them, Keeper.” Lilith scowled at him. “I’ll just take possession of the boy now and spare you any further involvement.”
“As you wish.” Raziel opened his arms for his spouses to gather close to him and laid his hands on Galik and Brig’s hips when they were close enough. The fargoyles were chasing each other around and between their Master’s legs and giggling. “I am certain I will see you again quite soon.”
Lilith vanished and Raziel left his locked office behind to enjoy a few quiet hours appreciating what he had in his arms. He was hesitant to admit even to himself that he was relieved for Lilith interfering. He would have regretted letting the boy live, his disgust over the drug and the deaths it caused would have made the mercy eat away at him. While her method and behavior had been vile, Lilith had done him a favor. He could rest easy knowing she would take full blame for the execution as well, giving him a much needed break from both Vex and the Council. He worried for the boy she had plans for, but the decision was well out of his hands.