Tag Archives: Frikk

TCOL : Connections : Lovably Rebellious

“Yep.” Brig hung up and sat his phone on the desk before he smirked and muttered to himself. The conversation with E had been brief, and he imagined many of the acquaintances he had made were having similar discussions. “Already working on it.”

“You realize I can hear each of your thoughts.” Raziel looked over the edge of his tablet at the devious grins of his puppets. “This is not a decision I can change.”

“It’s also not one we are going to listen to, Razzy.” Van rested her fists on her hips and clicked the stick of her lollipop across her smile. “We aren’t going to sit this out. You promised you would keep us with you.”

“Lord Raziel, please don’t be angry.” Galik smiled. “We only want to help.”

“You can not.” Raziel sat the tablet on the desk. “You heard what was said, the Council is to go alone. Zakesalek are to go alone.”

“Since when do you listen to Lucifer?” Demise protested. “The way I remember it, Kage only spouted off reasons why no one would help.”

“I assure you Lady Demise.” Raziel clarified. “Zakesalek do not want crowds in Eden. It is still sacred in their memories.”

“We’re just a crowd now?” Brig scoffed. “Fuck you, cupcake. You are cut off.”

“Yea, really. Talk about a bloody mood killer.” Shana leaned on Brig’s arm to help enforce the boycott. “I may take a vow of chastity.”

“While that is an amusing attempt to bait me.” Raziel said calmly and folded his hands on the desk in front of him. “I will take each of you as I please. Your willingness no longer has bearing.”

“Charming.” Shana grimaced.

“He was joking.” Brig grinned and hugged her. Raziel had been cold, but if he had been angry Brig would have known.

“How can you tell?” Shana rubbed her face on Brig’s shoulder as he laughed. “It’s not bloody funny, anyway.”

“Twisted sense of humor aside; this isn’t a request, Raziel.” Brig fumbled with a pack of cigarettes as he held Shana. “None of us want to sit around worrying again. We’re going with you. We don’t care about the fucking risks and we don’t give a fuck who it pisses off. If you are walking through fire, we are burning with you.”

“Yea!” Frikk shouted. “And we’re going, too!”

“All of us!” Tali agreed as she helped light Brig’s cigarette.

“We love you, Razzy.” Van leaned over and hugged him awkwardly. “You can be mad later. Just let us go with you.”

“Alright, puppets.” Raziel stroked Van’s hair as he closed his eyes. They all rushed to join in the awkward embrace and he was overcome with a sense of peace surrounded by the things he loved. “Afterward, I’ll be restringing all of you. You have all become very unruly.”

“Kinky fuck.” Brig sat up on the desk to finish his cigarette. “You just want to tie people up.”

“Starting with you, puppet.” Raziel teased and wrapped his arms around Galik as his most perfect creation crawled into his lap. “Hello, my Galik.”

“I love you, Lord Raziel.” Galik smiled. “You can tie me up.”

“Oh goodie.” Van pushed Brig and Shana toward the door. “It’s playtime.”

“So much for together in all things.” Demise laughed.

“There are just some things I am very okay with being left out of, doll face.” Brig took Shana and the ‘kids’ to relax while the others indulged in their own version of relaxing. None of them were sure what to expect in Eden, but for now they could rest easy knowing whatever awaited they would face it together.


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TCOL : Death & New Life : The Needed Chemicals Pt.4

“Falcon, your request to meet you here has now left us all with further scars.” Raziel turned and made his cold remarks. “Were you through or will you finish with the torment your bride is so eager to give us.”

“Aren’t you supposed to stay out of my head?” Karla pouted.

“It’s not that easy, kid.” Maefyl stood beside the Council doors with Gabriel. At this point Raziel knew as well as he did what Eidolon was convinced of. It wasn’t much of a stretch all things considered. “Just spill it, Eidolon. We do have other shit to do.”

“Among the fallen of Vikarr’s lineage we spoke with very few.” Eidolon explained softly. Hoping the tone of his voice may soften the news. “The most talented of which were the last to die. Charming, powerful women.”

“Women have always been my best work.” Vikarr giggled. “But this story has a far more interesting ending then ghosts of witches or you would not have brought us here.”

“True enough.” Eidolon took a small gathering of Vikarr’s thread he had saved into his hand and sighed. “Your bride asked if you had family that still lived. Eternity, if you would.”

“The amazing thing about Vikarr’s blood is that it hid over the centuries.” Eternity explained as she took the thread and infused it with magic akin to a demonic paternity test. “His power, the talent with latent magic, would peek and wane as it followed the strongest women through his line. Near the end it was nearly as pure as it was in his own child.”

“Vanessa and Valerie were kind of fun, too.” Karla interrupted. “I liked them.”

“Razzy.” Van whispered as she took his hand. She heard enough once she heard the names. It didn’t take genius to work out the rest and she wanted to run from the truth before anyone spoke it aloud. “I want to go home.”

“Nearly?” Eliza watched the fairy lay the thread in Vikarr’s palm and manipulate it into a strange looking seal before forcing the magic into his skin.

“They were souls at peace.” Kaneko explained with a grin as she tugged Neka’s tail. “Hard to judge how powerful because they’ve let so much of it go for a quiet ever after. Still human enough to like it the easy way.”

“As strong as your blood had rekindled in the two of them.” Eternity continued. “The last of your line would have been as close to being your daughter as possible.”

“You demons make my head hurt.” Eliza complained.

“Because they play games and you are dense…” Donovan teased. “They are saying he has a living daughter.”

“I still have a child?” Vikarr laughed. “Impossible.”

“Not impossible.” Raziel lifted Van’s trembling fingers and pricked one with his thumbnail as he closed his eyes. He had seen the possibility and already knew it was only going to be confirmed. Vikarr was as close to a father as Van would ever have. “Just unfortunate.”

Lucifer laughed boisterously as he watched Van’s blood react to Eternity’s spell and the blood within the source of her family’s magic. Van started to weep.

“It’s a girl.” Eliza grinned up at Vikarr. “You can tell because of the pink hair.”

“Back off, E.” Brig sighed as he stood close by and helped comfort Van. “Can’t you see she’s upset?”

“Cram it up your arse, London.” Eliza taunted. “Isn’t this some kind of privilege?”

“Dry your eyes, puppet.” Raziel stepped in front of her as Vikarr approached them. As she tried to quiet her sobs against his back Galik stepped beside Raziel defensively and glared at Vikarr. Raziel could feel the rage seething in his creation over Van’s tears and took his wrist. “There has been enough confrontation, Galik. Let him speak.”

“No!” Van whimpered and pulled at the back of Raziel’s sleeves. “I don’t want to hear this. I want to go home, Razzy.”

“Now, look here Princess Pinky.” Eliza scowled as she crossed her arms. “Vivi might be a jerk sometimes, but you are being a real brat about this.”

“Lovely…” Vikarr’s sigh became a childlike grin as he pulled her up to kiss her. “Be kind. She is my child.”

“I am not.” Van glared at them over Raziel’s shoulder. “I want nothing to do with you.”

“Respect her decision, Vikarr.” Raziel suggested coldly. “Your bride has had her amusing puzzle solved. That is enough.”

“You want me to deny my blood?” Vikarr stepped closer forcing Raziel to tilt his head back to look him in the eye. “The girl carries a part of me. Let me speak with her.”

“I don’t get why she is all pissy.” Eliza looked away pouting. “If you are one of these Watchers, she should be thrilled.”

“My actions caused her heartache.” Vikarr pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket and laid it across Raziel’s shoulder for the vampire whose eyes were now as pink as her hair from weeping. “For that I am sorry. You are free to disavow any relation to me, Van. If you choose not to, I will make every effort to be as I should. I would gladly call such a charming creature daughter.”

“I’ll think about it.” Van took the handkerchief and looked at it sadly. It had been Vikarr that played a part in Raziel and Brig suffering. Accepting that he was a part of her made her ache. This was not the answer she wanted to the questions she had in the back of her mind her whole life.

“Now back off, cupcake.” Brig held Shana beside him and tugged one of Van’s pigtails as he smirked up at Vikarr. As certain as Brig was that he was going to regret his behavior during their visit here, he was as compelled as ever to protect his family. “Van will talk to you when and if she wants to.”

“Of course.” Vikarr bowed his head and shifted away with Eliza. He turned to Eidolon and smiled. “Thank you, Falcon.”

“Oh, right!” Eliza squeaked and bowed her head. “Thanks so much. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble.”

“It was not and you are welcome.” Eidolon smiled as he and Karla walked toward the doors to the Council hall hand in hand. The task had been enlightening and had given him new experiences with his brides. It had not been trouble for him. He was more concerned for the trouble it would now cause for everyone else. He stopped near Maefyl and Gabriel and sighed. “I apologize for that distraction.”

“I’m more concerned with that distraction.” Maefyl nodded toward the scene at the throne. Kage even looked intimidating when doting on his children. There was a cruelty in his smile even when he was at his happiest, but while he watched his daughters laughing together now he would steal glances at the quiet boy at the end of Neka’s leash and ice filled his eyes. He had given his permission, but Kage was still furious over Lilith’s gift. Maefyl didn’t need Kage’s hidden thoughts to see it. The thoughts he did hear were more pleasant but no less troubling. Lilith was truly trying to help. Kage’s focus on Neka was bruising Lucifer’s affection, she hoped a distraction for the girl would let Kage take his eyes off of her long enough to see that. Neka was thrilled with her new pet and with seeing her sister Kaneko. She was busy introducing the two of them under the watchful glare of her Father. Bishop’s thoughts may have been the most disturbing of the lot. He was completely accepting of the offer Lilith had made. He consigned himself to this temporary slavery. Not for any of her promised rewards, but out of concern for Neka, a child he had known for minutes, and a sense of atonement for his part in the loss of lives in Vex. “That kid has no idea what he just got himself into.”

“I don’t believe that any of us are privy to what we’ve gotten ourselves into, Maefyl.” Eidolon gave him a sad smile as he looked back over the hall. Every moment of happiness in their lives had been paid for with tears and pain that no mortal would even have the time to experience, but watching the others arrive Eidolon realized that despite the bickering they were here, all of them together, who could regret a moment of a life that brought them this far? Karla looked up at him troubled and he comforted her with a smile that grew more genuine as she returned it with her own. “But like all of us I imagine he will have few regrets when he breathes his last.”

“His last comes quick.” Eternity sighed from Eidolon’s shoulder. “Strange choice for a pet.”

“Daddy!” Asura skipped over and jumped into Gabriel’s arms before she took in the moods around the room and started her inquisition. “Who is the boy? What’s wrong with Van?”

“Kitty boy!” Neka squealed at the sight of Azazel and in her excitement tugged Bishop closer. As he stumbled toward them Kage kicked him back gently and sat Neka on her feet. “Sorry, Daddy. Sorry, Bissop.”

“Bishop.” He laughed nervously at the girl that blushed over her own mistake.

“You are not to correct her.” Kage glared at him. “You’ll answer to whatever she calls you, shiga.”

“She is going to be positively evil when she grows up.” Azazel grinned as he watched the boy nod his acceptance. “A Viper in training.”

“Don’t you dare, my pet.” Nikolai slipped his fingers into Azazel’s collar and smiled as he pulled him along. “I’ll be evil for you. Asura, Bezer. I think we should wait for the others inside.”

Nikolai’s pets dutifully followed him into the Council hall as the others watched. Each of them doting on each other as they found their places inside and avoided the tension building in Lucifer’s audience hall.

“I think we will join him.” Raziel gestured for the door to have his puppets lead the way. Even with the truce of the Council, the Keeper made it a point to keep them in his sights and he wanted to see them all inside before there was any more conflict. Cid and Tali held tight to Brig’s arm as he escorted Shana into the hall silently and Galik followed close behind hugging Frikk and Frakk to his chest. In a rare show of tenderness, Raziel held Van by her hand and escorted her himself. She was quiet, but her thoughts were screaming and she was fighting the urge to wail and fall against him for comfort. When the doors closed behind them he lifted her hand and kissed it before taking the handkerchief she still had twisted in her fingers. He wrapped it softly around her wrist and tied it there as she sniffled. “We can discuss this later.”

“I just don’t want you to hate me, Razzy.” Van tried to stop her lip from quivering and toughen up and wished she could do what Raziel did and just hide it all away. “That man is awful.”

“Vikarr has made poor decisions, he is not awful.” Raziel laid his hand against Van’s face. “Even if he was, your relation to him makes no difference to me.”

“I truly hate to involve myself.” Nikolai sighed as Asura nudged him into speaking. “But if my experience can give you any comfort… We are not our Fathers.”

“He is NOT her Father.” Galik growled at him and handed Van a lollipop. “We can make her smile without you.”

“Thank you, Nikolai.” Raziel nodded to him. Van had understood the sentiment and accepted the truth in it. It would take her time to accept Vikarr, but she would not dwell on the worry that she would be held accountable for mistakes that were not her own. Raziel pressed his fingertips to her lips and she kissed them. He did the same for Galik before he claimed the sweetness of their kisses for himself. He cast a glance at Brig as he sat to ease the jealous thoughts stirring in his most troublesome puppet. “Now settle yourselves, puppets. We all want a quick end to this.”

“So what was with the other guests and the kid?” Bezer sat on the edge of the table between Nikolai and Asura as they sat. As she swung her feet she giggled at Blondie bouncing from foot to foot.

“The Lancers are here at the Councils request.” Raziel explained as he watched his puppets quietly finding there places beside him. “The boy is from Vex. He seems to have been given to Kage’s daughter as a toy. One more tragedy in his short life.”

“That’s not fair.” Asura frowned. “Since when do we give people as gifts?”

“Your grandfather has made quite the habit of it.” Raziel closed his eyes and offered nothing else.

Asura couldn’t respond and knew that Raziel understood her reasons. They all fell into a sullen silence and waited for the others. There were enough troubles without focusing on another of Lucifer’s many cruel games. They were here to end conflicts, not to begin them. Azazel slid behind Asura in her chair and held her as she tapped at her computer screen and Bezer stroked Nikolai’s hair as he rested his head on his hand and closed his eyes to shut out the misery of the heavy mood that had fallen across the table.

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TCOL : Death & New Life : The Needed Chemicals Pt.3

“This is not cruelty, Maefyl.” Lilith insisted as she reclaimed her place on Lucifer’s lap and sulked.

“May I suggest we handle more prudent matters?” Gabriel looked at the boy sadly. “I don’t mean to make light of your situation, young man. We are however having somewhat of a crisis that my old friends seem to have forgotten.”

“I’ll just stay out of the way then.” Bishop smiled and stepped back from the well dressed gentleman as his strange friend draped himself over his shoulders. “Someone just show me where ‘out of the way’ is.”

“We certainly attract the smart asses.” Sanguine laughed. “What’s your name shaggy?”

“Bishop.” He smirked at Maefyl. “Are you wearing make up?”

“Kid.” Donovan couldn’t help himself. He laughed when he saw Maefyl’s expression. Just the little hint of mischief hiding underneath the practiced smirk. “Just don’t. Trust me.”

“Why are you all here so early?” Lucifer lifted Lilith as he stood and headed for the doors to the Council hall. “If you insist on interrupting my precious family moments, at least be productive.”

“Family moments?” Maefyl chuckled. “And I wasn’t invited?”

“They are here because I called for them.” Eidolon sat his brides to their feet beside him as he retracted his wings. “At least some of them are. I was not expecting so many, I had hoped to only share this with those involved.”

“Share what?” Lucifer leaned against the door grinning. “Which of these early arrivals can I hold against you?”

“Nyaa!” Kaneko bounded across the room and embraced Kage and Neka. “Kaneko is allowed to be early.”

“Always.” Lilith agreed lovingly before she urged Eidolon on. “Please continue, Falcon.”

“It should wait.” Eidolon sighed. “It is a family matter.”

“The matters of Lucifer’s family have been quite entertaining thus far.” Vikarr cackled as he broke his silence. “By all means, give us an encore.”

“I think he might mean yours.” Eliza felt her ears getting hot as she looked up at Vikarr. She expected panic but he only winked and gave her his playful smile. “I did ask him if you had family.”

“I’m certain he intends to answer that for you, lovely.” Vikarr lifted her chin with his fingers and bent to kiss her nose before looking over her at Eidolon. “Don’t you, Falcon?”

“You had an impressive bloodline, Jester.” Eidolon nodded and Karla squeezed herself tightly against him. “Your child carried a wealth of you with her and passed it into a heritage that spanned centuries.”

“Natural mages….” Maefyl laughed as he took in the whole journey through Karla’s mind.. “You lecherous morons introduced magic into the human race yourselves. Hate them so damn much you have to fuck any unfortunate enough to wander alone?”

“Don’t speak that way in front of my child.” Kage hissed.

“Excuse the fuck out of me.” Maefyl glared at him. “ You’re the one that keeps dragging her along like she can’t breathe if she’s ten feet from you. Taking her to bed, too?”

“Not another word.” Gabriel whispered. He watched his tears hit the stone under his feet and endured the pain as Maefyl fell on his knees beside him in agony. He saw Lucifer’s sneakers inches from him and clenched his teeth when he saw Lucifer’s hand on Maefyl’s hair.

“That’s enough, Gabby.” Lucifer sighed and twisted his fingers in Maefyl’s hair as he crouched in front of him. “Ready to apologize?”

“Sorry, Neka.” Maefyl smiled as the pain Gabriel scolded him with faded. It had been for his own benefit. He was going too far. Gabriel reigning him in quickly prevented a far more vicious scolding from the friend and Father who looked at him now with a smile that burned as badly as the collar stung his veins. Maefyl grinned back at his Father and whispered. “Have a new favorite?”

“Never.” Lucifer winked and pulled Maefyl up by the shoulder of his shirt before he pushed him into Gabriel’s arms. “Despite your behavior, I love you.”

“Such a tender hand you take with your children.” Vikarr laughed.

“Would you have done any better?” Eidolon scolded him coldly. “The task I undertook for your bride is testament to your own skills as a father. You abandoned your own child.”

“I’m suddenly grateful we can’t have children.” Donovan muttered.

“It does seem troublesome.” Mala agreed quietly.

“This is all just fantastic.” Myrt interrupted loudly. “But if there is a point to me being here can someone get to it?”

“Silence angel.” Kage hissed. “Your tongue has no business wagging here.”

“Leave him alone, Kage.” Gabriel remained still with his arm wrapped around Maefyl in a voiceless apology. “We called them here.”

“I need no help from traitorous angels.” Kage held Neka to him as he glared daggers at Gabriel. “I trust them no more than this Farren your horsemen raised.”

“Excuse my impertinence, Lord Viper.” Vikarr stepped forward and in front of Eliza to protect her from any retort. “Mala has long served Nihil. He has my trust and I assume Lucifer’s. Don’t speak ill of him. Myrt I have only known briefly, but he came at my request and the Council’s call…”

“With another painted vampire at his neck.” Kage smirked. “Trying to impress the Lord of your race, are you?”

“Hey!” Maefyl laughed. “Don’t drag me back into this.”

“You find this amusing, Half-breed?” Kage sat Neka beside the throne and turned toward Maefyl as he clutched his blade and drew it from it’s sheath. “Perhaps I should take my role as step-father more seriously.”

“Let go, Gabriel.” Maefyl shrugged out of his embrace and tugged at the grip on his arm. Chaos flooded the floor at their feet and choked the air with its sickly sweet scent as Maefyl drew his swords. “This is long overdue.”

“Galik.” Raziel stepped away from his loves and was nearly crippled but their desperation. Their concern for him, their love, so intense it burned. “Look after the others”

“Yes, Lord Raziel.” Galik grabbed Brig by the back of his shirt when he moved to stop Raziel from protecting Maefyl. “Leave him alone.”

“This is bullshit.” Brig rushed forward letting his shirt tear and remain in Galik’s hand as he held Van and Shana. Brig reached Raziel as he spread threads of protection around them, but instead of clinging to Raziel and begging him to be reasonable he pulled his knives and took advantage of being inside of the barrier. He drove the daggers into Maefyl’s stomach and back as he screamed his discontent. “Stop putting him at risk, you son of a bitch!”

“Bad move, kid.” Maefyl grabbed Brig and shifted them away as Lucifer‘s blade cracked the floor where they had been standing.

“He meant to protect me.” Raziel followed as Lucifer slowly closed the gap between himself and Maefyl. “Lucifer, your husband provoked this.”

“I’ll tell you only once to back away, Raziel.” Lucifer heard another step follow him and spun to kick Raziel in the chest. He grinned as Raziel hit the wall and watched the panic in Vex’s deranged family as Galik helped his Master to his feet. “Who will pull their strings if I have to put an end to you?”

“I just wanted you to leave him out of it.” Brig saw Kage fall in step beside Lucifer and his fingers shook on Maefyl’s sleeve. Maefyl had him backed to the wall, but stood to defend him against Lucifer. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not me you need to apologize to.” Maefyl pulled one of Brig’s knives from his gut and healed the wound. As he handed it over his shoulder he laughed. “Would you mind?”

“What?” Brig hadn’t realized in his panic that his right hand still held the knife in Maefyl’s back. He withdrew it and let it drop to the floor as Lucifer stopped in front of them. “I’m sorry. Maefyl, I don’t want him hurt.”

“Your heroics required insulting my bride and attacking my son?” Lucifer punched the wall beside them and watched the broken stone cut Brig’s face as it shattered. “I’m disappointed, Brig.”

“I didn’t…” Brig stared at his coming end burning in the eyes of the Dark Lord and realized it was his mouth that had caused the trouble and not the blood on his hands. “Mistress Lilith, forgive me. Shana, Raziel… I love you.”

Brig closed his eyes and waited, but it wasn’t his scream of pain that ended the silence. It was the quiet laughter of voices singing. As Brig opened his eyes he slid down the wall in relief as the attention he had attracted was now on Lucifer’s throne and the child that occupied it.

“…climbed up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.” Bishop sat in front of the throne distracting a little girl from a room full of violence. Demon or not she was just a little girl.

“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.” Neka sang along the words he had quickly taught her and tried to mimic the silly little gestures depicting the brave spiders efforts. She sat on the throne smiling as her finger spider climbed up her arm. “And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again…”

A room filled with ancient creatures watched in amazement as Bishop smiled at her demands to sing it again. Each of them was touched by the scene for different reasons, they could see the happiness, feel it dancing in the air between them, but only Maefyl and Raziel could see the purity in it. The child like joy of making friends and the sweet sentiment behind Bishops motivation to protect a child.

“What is it you think you are doing?” Kage stepped beside the boy.

“Singing?” Bishop sighed. “It was getting a bit deep in here for a kid.”

“My daughter is well equipped to handle these situations.” Kage spoke softly as he praised the girl that still swung her feet carelessly to a song that had ended.

“Doesn’t mean she should have to.” Bishop muttered as he accepted defeat. He pushed himself to his feet and turned to give the girl’s father a polite bow. “I’ll get out of the way.”

“I doubt it.” Kage grabbed Bishop by his throat as he stood and left and endless ring of blackened chaos wrapped around the boys neck. As he let go he left a braided cord of black that ran through his fingers as he stepped toward Neka. When he kneeled in front of his daughter, Kage wrapped the cord gently around her wrist a few times and let her grab the end in her hand. “This will be your responsibility. I want nothing to do with it.”

“Thank you, Daddy!” Neka hugged him tightly and let him lift her into his arm. “Neka will take good care of him.”

“This is not a gift from me alone. Be sure to thank Lilith.” Kage looked down at the dumbfounded youth. “Tch, I should make it clear now that you are not to speak to me unless I say otherwise.”

“Guess the bad name was an omen.” Bishop grabbed his new leash and shook his head as he muttered to himself.

“At least he’s funny.” Maefyl laughed and pulled a relieved Brig off the floor. “You okay?”

“Sorry I stabbed you.” Brig grabbed his second knife and wiped it on his pants. “What exactly is funny about that situation?”

“His name is Rex.” Raziel shifted quickly to retrieve Brig and bring him back to Shana and the others. “I believe my Lord was making a jest about its commonality as a name for canine companions.”

“That’s worse than yours, Brig.” Van giggled as she wiped the last of her tears away.

“Laugh it up, cunt.” Brig held Shana close and let her cry against his shoulder as he returned Van’s jabs at his unfortunate naming.

“Quiet, puppets.” Raziel insisted and took Brig’s jaw in his fingers. “You will be punished.”

“I know.” Brig sighed. As long as they were all together. As long as Raziel was there to make the threat. It was worth it.

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TCOL : Death & New Life : The Needed Chemicals Pt. 2

“Why are we leaving so early?” Van complained as she tugged on her second sneaker. “It’s not as if you like talking to any of them.”

“Eidolon has asked to speak with me. Show me your pretty face.” Raziel ran his hand under her chin and watched her pout curl into a loving smile as she looked at him. “Much better, puppet. None of this should take very long.”

“Lord Raziel, help me with this.” Galik walked over to them tugging at his tie. He knew his smile gave away his playful need for attention. “Van messed it up.”

“Did not.” Van giggled as Raziel pulled Galik close by the sloppily loosened knot.

“You don’t have to wear this.” Raziel straighten out the mess Galik had made and pulled him close. “You have no reason to impress the Council.”

“We aren’t doing it for them.” Brig sighed as he shook out the front of the suit jacket that made him feel as awkward as Galik felt in the shirt and tie. “We’re just tired of them looking down on you.”

“So we got the boys looking respectable.” Shana grabbed Brig’s arm and smiled as the presented themselves.

“I even wore a whole shirt!” Van grinned as she grabbed the hem of the tiny t-shirt that still fell above her navel despite the fact she hadn’t torn off it’s bottom half.

“We dressed up, too.” Tali smiled over Shana’s shoulder in matching dress. She pointed to Brig’s feet were Cid stood in a suit that matched Brig’s perfectly. “Look how cute! Just like Daddy!”

“We still look better.” Frikk hung on the edge of Van’s skirt in similar fashion as her Master. “Where is Demise?”

“Resting.” Brig laid his hand gingerly over his breast pocket. “This has all been hard on her.”

“On all of us.” Raziel added. “I apologize for rushing you. Eidolon requested an early arrival.”

“No big deal, cupcake.” Brig shrugged. “The rush isn’t what bothers me. It’s the ‘why?’.”

“The Falcon is not one to start unnecessary trouble.” Raziel gathered them all close and kissed each of his puppets tenderly before they departed and seconds later arrived in the entrance hall to Lucifer’s estate. With the doors to the hall open they could hear the shouting inside and as Raziel moved inside they were all a step behind him. It was no surprise to hear Kage and Lucifer shouting, but the subject of the argument brought Raziel to a halt and brought a gasp from a few of his little tribe. Raziel looked him over and only spoke his name when he was satisfied no harm had come to him. “Bishop?”

Bishop only offered a half-hearted smile and a nod to acknowledge them. He was afraid to give the demons any more fuel to make their debate more explosive.

“Excellent.” Kage hissed. Vikarr had already arrived with the dream weavers and the rest of his unnecessary following and Kage would have been agitated enough by Lilith’s ‘gift’ without the humiliating addition of a growing crowd. “Now we have a larger audience to her lunacy.”

“Enough, Kage.” Lucifer laughed. “Her offer is sincere.”

“Do you honestly expect me to condone this?” Kage screamed. “Ke saba shiga. Bulbenu. De bara kabak se.”

“He is a nice boy.” Lilith reasoned. “It will give her perspective.”

“She did want a pet after all.” Lucifer grinned. “What could teach better patience than caring for a human?”

“Aside from the very idea of a living human in this realm being revolting to me, how are we even supposed to deal with one taking residence here?” Kage sneered. “This is not even feasible.”

“My Lord is capable of making accommodations suitable.” Lilith sighed and shifted close to Kage. She laid her hand on Neka’s head as she spoke softly. “Honestly, Kage. This is not an insult. It is a gift. Meant to teach the girl and to give you back some of your time. You are losing focus. He is only a pet, and when she tires of him I will see he is rewarded for his time and taken to a new life far from you.”

Neka had remained quiet, but her eyes were hopeful and her practiced smile grew sadder with each of her Father’s screams. When Kage looked at her now he rested his hand over Lilith’s and sighed. With the other members of Council arriving he wanted to set aside personal affairs.

“I’m not making the decision now.” Kage looked aside at Lucifer. “My Lord, you should have advised her to wait until other matters were settled. This is not the time for this.”

“What do you think?” Neka grabbed Kage by the leg of his pants to pull him along as she approached Bishop on her own. She smiled up at the quiet boy that to her did not seem all that different from some of the other guests that stood about looking troubled. “Are you a feast-ible pet? Neka thinks you might be to big.”

“Feasible, Neka.” Kage corrected as he glared at Bishop with disgust.

“Too big, huh? This help?” Bishop tried to ignore the ice in her father’s eyes and crouched to talk to her as he smiled. “I think that this is up to the grown ups. You and I should probably stay out of it until they make up their mind.”

“In this house the children often behave better than the grown ups.” Maefyl arrived smoking and flicked his ash to the floor as he leaned against Lucifer’s throne. He slowly started to take in the situation but his mouth outran his mind. “What is with the kid?”

“You hardly need to ask.” Kage snapped at him as he snatched Neka into his arms and kicked Bishop back to the floor. “Stay out of this, Half-breed. It is none of your concern.”

“A slave, Lilith?” Maefyl cringed when he grasped the situation. “I thought better of you.”

“Is it slavery if he agrees?” Lucifer grabbed Maefyl by his wrist and pulled him from his arrogant stance. “Don’t insult your Mother.”

“Yes, it is.” Maefyl yanked his arm away. “Haven’t you learned by now that these living gifts you use to placate each others egos never work out well? Someone always gets hurt.”

“Maefyl.” Gabriel sighed as he helped Bishop to his feet. “Pick your battles.”

“You win.” Maefyl shrugged and tussled Neka’s hair on his way past Kage. “Hi kid.”

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TCOL : Death & New Life : Hesitant Pt.2

“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.

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TCOL : What We Are : Proud Puppeteer Pt.2

“Neat.” Van peeked into Bishop’s room after they had dispatched his offensive parents. As promised Raziel had given them a quick, quiet death. They were just as quickly disposed of and their locked den of horrors beneath the house had been burned clean of any evidence of the atrocities they had done, sparing the boy from reliving what he had already uncovered once. In a stark contrast to his parents, Rex was well mannered and from the contents of his room well studied and musically inclined. “A drummer with a clean room? Definitely a traumatized child.”

“Quite.” Raziel nodded. “He has however handled it well.”

“You think he’ll be okay?” Van hugged Raziel suddenly. “It’s rough being on your own that young.”

“You managed well enough.” Raziel embraced her. “I gave him enough to make his journey considerably easier. As short as human life is, he will likely spend his days quite well off.”

“You’re still here.” Bishop walked past Galik and grabbed his phone off the floor. “In my room. They don’t really come in here.”

They are already gone.” Galik grinned.

“Oh.” Bishop sat on the bed. “I should feel something. I guess I should also get a better job.”

“You should open what I’ve given you.” Raziel suggested.

“And walk with us.” Frikk grinned. “I want another skateboard ride.”

“I was just going to grab my phone.” Bishop tried to talk his way out of the obligation as he opened the envelope. “My friends are waiting. What is all this stuff anyway?”

Bishop looked through the pages with a growing anxiety as Van whispered with Galik and Raziel over their plans for the evening. Bishop couldn’t even grasp the numbers he was looking at. Usually when his account saw zeros it was because it was empty. Raziel heard the boy’s thoughts and was impressed. Most humans would immediately rush to thoughts of an extravagant life; the wealth made the young Bishop nervous and his first thoughts were of how he could use it to help others. He would rather give the entirety of it to victims of his parent’s cruelty than spend a cent of it on himself, thinking it was payment for turning them in.

“It is not a reward.” Raziel looked down at Bishop as he laid back and sighed. “It is not payment and it was not left to you by the neglectful parents you have suffered. It is a gift from me, from the Circle and from Vex. Gratitude for your efforts to keep Vex from suffering the vile corruption of twisted individuals who have no care or respect for the lives of others. I would consider it an insult if you refuse it.”

“Okay.” Bishop hauled himself off the bed and transferred cards into his wallet. “I don’t want to insult anybody.”

“I’ll be insulted if I don’t get to play on the skateboard.” Frikk crossed her arms and faked a pout.

“I’ll be your chauffer.” Bishop grabbed his board. “Then I really need to go check on Zack before he gets himself into trouble.”

Raziel walked between Galik and Van letting each of them take an arm as they followed behind Bishop. He entertained the fargoyles with his simple mode of travel and they entertained him with their playful chatter. Raziel was more concerned with Van’s worry over the boy being put to rest.

“Satisfied, puppet?” Raziel asked as they walked. “He is not concerned over their loss.”

“Can we just check on him once in a while?” Van pouted. “He’s such a sweet kid.”

“Shite…” Bishop tried to show off and missed a landing, catching the curb with his leg instead of the board. He rubbed at the scrapes through the tear in his jeans and looked up at the small winged demons. “That’s bloody splendid. You two okay?”

“Better than you.” Galik laughed and pushed the boys hands out of the way to heal the wound. He licked the blood from his fingers afterward. “You humans are so frail.”

“You demons are a little gross.” Bishop cringed. “Did you just lick that?”

“My puppets have a taste for blood.” Raziel let the fargoyles take places on his shoulders. “A useful quality considering some of the tasks we undertake to keep Vex safe.”

“Makes sense I guess.” Bishop shrugged and pulled a pen out of his pants pocket and gestured for Frikk to come closer. When she did he took her hand and wrote his number up her arm. “Next time you two want to play, give me a call. I really need to go. Zack’s girlfriend is a bit of a cunt. She’ll get him into trouble.”

“Aww.” Van giggled. “Frikk is blushing.”

“Am not.” Frikk looked at her arm grinning.

“Frikk has a boyfriend.” Van teased. “Give him a little kiss goodbye!”

“Mine.” Frakk bit Bishop’s hand and pulled Frikk away.

“All the good ones are taken.” Bishop shook his hand. He smiled up at them as they crawled onto Galik, then stood up and started off on his board. “You are all bloody odd, but I like it. See ya around.”

“I would like humans more if they were all like that one.” Galik admitted. “Where are we going?”

“To pick up Brig and Shana.” Raziel pulled Van and Galik close. When they were alone he would give them each a proper reward. He was proud to have each of them at his side. Van had shown amazing understanding and compassion and Galik had exhibited patience and kindness most though he was incapable of. The time in Vex had changed Raziel and Galik, their time with Van even more so. Adding Brig and Shana to their family had completed Raziel in ways he never even realized had been left empty. The family he never desired was now the one he could never live without. “We all need time together, puppets. I expect Council is going to steal more of my time soon.”

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TCOL : What We Are : Proud Puppeteer Pt.1

“It is my turn, Galik.” Van laughed. “You did it last time.”

 “I’m quicker.” Galik boasted and smacked her backside with the scroll as he pulled her close and shifted them to a quiet neighborhood where a pair of victims awaited a violent end for their crimes.

 “But I make it sexy.” Van teased. “Don’t you like to see me work?”

 “I do!” Frakk pulled on her suspenders and smiled at Galik. “Let her have a turn.”

 “We’re almost done.” Galik pouted. “I want to get back to Lord Raziel.”

 “Razzy said I could help.” Van ran her finger across his lips and flipped the stick of her lollipop across her smile. “Please?”

 “I don’t like it when they touch you.” Galik loved that she had such amazing magic, but when she used her skills to lure in her victims she let them get close enough to get in a familiar touch that he did not want to share with anyone but Raziel. “If you are going to help, just kill them. Lord Raziel wouldn’t want them touching you either.”

 “You know that I can do more than hike my skirt and prance around like a burlesque slut.” Van grinned wickedly. “But if I’m gonna go barbaric you have to clean me right up. These are new shoes.”

 “Look!” Frikk flapped excitedly and pulled Van by her pigtails and pointed at two young boys chatting on their way down the street. “Humans on wheels!”

 “Skateboards.” Van rolled her eyes. “Brig used to do that crap.”

 “It looks fun.” Frakk crawled onto Galik’s shoulder. “Make them stop.”

 “Hey you two!” Van called for them to indulge the fargoyles and Galik pouted over the further delay. She gave him a quick wink and leaned to whisper a promise that she would make it up to him. “Remember part of your job is impressing the public.”

 “Great.” Galik muttered as the children approached.

 “Are we in trouble or something?” The taller of the boys asked as he kicked the end of his board and grabbed the edge to hold it beside him.

 “No.” Van laughed. “Frikk and Frakk wanted to play with your boards.”

 “Please?” Frikk smiled at them.

 “Sure!” The shorter boy grinned and held his out. “You are so freaky cool. Can I take your picture? My girlfriend will never believe me.”

 “I like pictures.” Frikk nodded.

 “She’s also a little small to ride herself, genius.” Van flicked one of the wheels. “Just let her hang onto you.”

 “Me, too.” Frakk insisted.

 “They aren’t gonna bite or anything?” The boy asked nervously and held his hand out toward Frikk like he was approaching an unfamiliar stray. He started to laugh when Frikk stuck her tongue out at him. “I sound like my mother. I’m Zack. My paranoid friend is Bishop.”

 “I’m not paranoid.” Bishop looked at his feet. He had hoped to pass by the demons without incident when he recognized Galik as Vex’s second. “It just isn’t everyday the Circle shows up on your street and says hello.”

 “Bishop?” Galik thought about the scroll in his hand and the names of the couple they were there to eliminate. It had been brought to their attention that the couple had a twisted hobby of luring in young women drugging and defiling them before dumping them somewhere confused and humiliated.

 “We all call him Bishop because he hates his first name.” Zack laughed as he performed simple tricks with the fargoyles clinging to his clothes. Van had taken his phone to fill it with pictures for the skeptical. “Right, Rex.”

 “It sounds like a dogs name.” Bishop shrugged.

 “I kind of like it.” Van snapped pictures of Frikk and Frakk having their fun on her own phone as well. Preserving their adventure for later. She nudged Galik when she noticed he was suddenly distracted. “What’s wrong?”

 “We should get back to work.” Galik smiled and put his arm around her. “Lord Raziel will be concerned.”

 “And will come looking for you.” Raziel had not been concerned as much as lonely. He had finished with both his Circle and Council work for the day and was just waiting for the others to finish so they could relax together as he promised Brig. Raziel had not expected that their current distraction would be related to the work they had yet to finish.

 “I’m sorry, Razzy.” Van giggled. “I got a bit distracted.”

 “It is no trouble, puppet.” Raziel turned to the taller of the boys. “You are Rex Bishop.”

 “Yes, sir.” Bishop nodded. He felt his palms sweating.

 “Lord.” Galik corrected him. “Address him properly.”

 “It’s alright, puppet.” Raziel held out his hand toward the boy as en envelope materialized in his palm. “This is not pleasant news, but your thoughts tell me that you will not be surprised by it.”

 “What’s up?” Zack stumbled off his skateboard behind his friend and grinned as the fargoyles flew back to their perches on Van and Galik. His smile faded after Van handed him his phone and he noticed the somber mood. “What did you do Bishop?”

 “Can I crash at your place tonight?” Bishop sighed as he took the envelope from Raziel’s hand.

 “You do that all the time anyway.” Zack laughed nervously as his phone started to ring and he walked away to answer it. “Yea, I’m on the way…”

 “I know this isn’t something I should ask…” Bishop looked at the envelope in his hand and tried to imagine what kind of condolences it could offer. “I also know mercy is the last thing they deserve, but they are my parents…”

 “It took strength to share what you discovered.” Raziel’s gift destroyed the boy’s anonymity and he had been clever enough to realize and accept it with grace. “I would offer them no mercy, but for you I will make the deaths quick and painless.”

 “Tough kid.” Van gave him a sad smile. “Ratting out the folks.”

 “They were about as good at being parents as they were about being decent people.” Bishop mumbled sadly as he noticed his friend returning with his love smitten grin. “Maybe if we run into each other again we can talk about it… I don’t think thanks is really appropriate. So, see ya.”

 “He seems pretty balanced for the son of complete assholes.” Van cuddled against Galik and watched the boys roll off together. “I feel bad though. How old is he?”

 “Seventeen.” Raziel took Van’s hand and kissed her cheek. “When I realized it was the son who brought their crimes to the Circle’s attention I saw to it that he would be provided for. The boy will be fine, puppet. He accepted the need for this before he even asked our intervention.”

 “Lord Raziel…” Galik touched Van’s face where Raziel had kissed ready to weep until Raziel stepped closer and took his lips. As soft and brief as it was it made Galik shiver and left him speechless.

 “Can we finish this work quickly?” Raziel ran his thumbs over each of their lips as Frikk and Frakk looked on amused at their Masters and the sudden silence that grabbed them. Raziel kept his mask; it remained necessary to keep himself free of any telling reactions for truths he discovered. Brig had made a point that was worth compromising some of his more guarded behavior; with some discretion there was no harm in giving his affection to the ones he loved now that it was common knowledge that they were his. Title and station would have to take the place of ignorance in shielding them from harassment and he would have to protect them from everything else. “I would like all my puppets to come out with me tonight.”

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