Chapter 23


Demian was led to his room and Frank had to reluctantly lend him some clothes, since they were the same size, and he wasn’t ready yet to go back home.

Frank’s clothes fit him very well, but he didn’t feel comfortable wearing them; his rough and dark style did nothing but remind him of his own dark roots.

“What happened in the Legion of Darkness?” Samael asked after giving him a few minutes of assimilation. Demian was looking through the window while holding his neck with his hand.

“If you’re wondering whether I got to talk to my father, I couldn’t even see him,” he replied. “The smoke demon left me there by myself once we arrived, and after a few minutes hanging around the place, I was attacked. I don’t remember anything after that.”

“Who attacked you and why?” Marianne asked, but he didn’t reply.

He kept rubbing his neck, remembering those amber eyes glowing in the dark right before lunging at him. And then it all faded to black. He had no idea what had happened while he lost conscioussness, and even less how he had got there.

He finally sighed and turned to them, taking his hand away from his neck, so everyone noticed the finger marks imprinted on him.

“I honestly don’t know why I was attacked, but it wasn’t the first time. Apparently, some demons wish for my return, others want me dead.”

“It must hurt that your own kind rejects you. You should write your story; you’d be like a demonic Oliver Twist,” Frank remarked sarcastically, and the others threw warning glances at him. Demian, however, chose to ignore him.

“You don’t remember how you got here?” Samael asked, trying to focus on the fact that he had been expelled from a portal that appeared out of nowhere.

“As much as you tell me about the hole in the sky, I really don’t remember. I don’t know how it appeared and I don’t know how I ended up there. I lost consciousness when I was attacked, I have no idea what happened after that,” Demian assured again, unthinkingly putting his hand on his neck. Samael tilted his head, watching the handprints with interest.

“…May I?”

Demian hesitated at first at his request, keeping his hand on his neck protectively. He looked at the others and stopped at Marianne, who seemed serious and unsettled after seeing those fingerprints, so he slowly lowered his hand, and despite not liking the idea of the angel touching him, he finally nodded with a reluctant snort, and sat in a chair with the neck exposed, so the angel could take a closer look.

Samael placed his hands in the same position as the finger marks and felt a slight electrick shock at first contact. He pressed a little more and Demian winced a little.

“Can I be next?” Frank said, raising his hand, and Lucianne gave him a light slap in response.

“It’s not too serious,” Samael determined, pulling his hands away. “I think the demon who did this didn’t intend to kill you.”

“He didn’t intend to kill me?” Demian repeated in disbelief. “How would you know that? You weren’t there. If he failed, it was because something stopped him; maybe it had to do with the portal or whatever before I ended up on the beach.”

“I’m just saying it wasn’t his intention at that moment at least; it seems more like a warning,” Samael insisted and Demian kept quiet.

The amber-eyed demon had already attacked him three times before, and the three times he had come out alive. He wanted to believe that something prevented him from finishing what he started, perhaps some loyal shadows from his father had been about to discover him, thus forcing him to abandon his purpose, but now he wasn’t so sure. A warning. ‘You shouldn’t have come back’.

“How could this be a warning?”

“He branded you. He wanted you to think about it every time you saw the marks— Or someone else saw them,” Samael replied and Demian touched his neck again, wondering if the demon really wanted to kill him or just get him out of the Legion of Darkness.

‘You shouldn’t have come back’. And still, trying to smother a helpless baby— He didn’t know what to think anymore.

“Maybe Samuel could help you out with those marks,” Marianne suggested, and Demian seemed taken aback by her suggestion.


Samael raised both hands to illustrate what she meant.

“I can’t assure it will work, but I can try,” the angel added, thinking it wouldn’t work given how unstable his healing power had been lately. After all, his recent attempts had failed.

Demian thought about it for a moment and finally seemed to agree by lifting his head to bare his neck. Samael placed his hands again over the finger marks and waited for his palms to load energy.

There was silence for a while, only interrupted by a fake cough from Frank that sound a lot like ‘Cough-cough-GAY-cough-cough’.

Demian glared at him without even moving while Marianne just made a switf motion with her hand and one of the pillows flew up from the bed, hitting Frank in the face. The others choked some giggles, and for a moment, Marianne could see a slight smile on Demian’s lips, which pleased her for some reason.

Samael palms began to glow, and everybody remained still and quiet. When the brightness decreased, and Samael took away his hands, he still didn’t seem convinced it had worked, but his face showed surprise after seeing the marks gone.

“I don’t feel pain anymore,” Demian said, moving his neck from side to side and glancing at Samael as if the next thing he was about to say required a superhuman effort that would burn his throat. “…Thanks.”

Another fake cough with an epithet was heard from the back of the room and another wave of warning glares rested on Frank, who was near the exit door in case he had to flee.

“What? I have a sore throat!”

“I think you should rest,” Lucianne suggested to prevent Frank from making any other dissing coment. “We’re downstairs if you need anything. The guys are staying in this floor too.”

“But don’t call me if you need something. I guess wings will be available for that matter,” Frank added and Lucianne slapped him while passing next to him, which didn’t stop him from adding something else before his departure. “And don’t bother to give me back those clothes! You can burn them if you want!”

“I swear to you, Frank, if you keep talking, I won’t speak to you while we’re here!” Lucianne muttered, pulling him out of there.

“Addalynn, can we talk for a moment?” Demian asked before she went out and all eyes fell on them.

Addalynn didn’t answer but stood to one side of the door while Marianne looked confused from her to Demian until finally walking out without looking back. The only one left behind was Mitchell, who remained leaning on the nightstand, and Demian gave him a quizzical look.

“…Oh, yeah, let me explain. You see, I got on the plane posing as you, and I got this room when everyone thought I was you, and since no one else knows I’m here taking your place in order to save you from trouble back at school with your disappearance —Seriously, even I am amazed of how good of a friend I can be, you have to admit it—, it would only be fair to share the room, and thanks to my sacrifice, you should at least leave me the bed, huh? What do you say?”

The glower on Demian’s gaze was enough to let him know he wasn’t in the mood for his jokes, so Mitchell grinned and walked cautiously to the door.

“…But I guess I can’t deny a friend a few minutes alone with a lovely girl. I’ll go for a walk… and I’ll take the keys, so I can come back later. Tsk! See ya!” He went out with a wink before closing the door, and finally he and Addalynn were alone.

“…How’s Vicky?”

“She had been crying all night when I left her,” Addalynn said.

“What about now?” he asked again and Addalynn just shrugged. “…What does that mean? You should know how she feels at all times.”

“What am I? Her mood ring?”

“You’re her guardian angel; you’re supposed to know it. It’s your job,” Demian replied and Addalynn crossed her arms with outrage, so he gave an exhausted sigh. “…Sorry, I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that. None of this is your fault.”

“If you are so desperate to know how she is, you should go see her for yourself.”

Demian fell silent, staring at his idle hands. Of course, it was the logical choice, but…

“I can’t,” he said, closing his hands and looking at the straight cut on his wrist; it had swollen edges, as if he had been rubbing it recently. He chose to turn his palm down to not look at it anymore. “…Not after the letter I left for her. She must hate me right now.”

“You cannot know it until you talk to her.”

“But you know what she thinks of demons; she despises them after what happened to our father, and if she were to know what I did—” he immediately stopped, realizing what he was about to say. Addalynn looked curious and waited for him to complete the sentence, but he didn’t. Could she be trying to access his mind to find out about the rest? No, angels couldn’t read demon’s minds, one of the few things he felt genuinely relieved about being what he was.

What was he going to say? He couldn’t talk to anyone about what he had done to his adoptive mother. If anyone found out, it would change their perception of him… and he already felt at times irredeemable despite the trust they might still have in him. Meanwhile, Addalynn was still looking at him with those electric blue eyes that seemed to glow in the dark.

“You won’t know until you decide to face her,” Addalynn said, putting an end to the conversation and walking away, leaving Demian undecided and tormented with guilt.

Outside the room, Samael was leaning on the wall beside the door, awaiting.

“We need to talk.”

Addalynn rolled her eyes and kept walking, closely followed by Samael.

“It’s like I can’t have a moment to breath,” Addalynn muttered, heading to the elevator down the hall.

“That portal, how did you know it was going to appear?”

“How should I know? You give me too much credit.”

“You were the one who led us there and seconds later this vortex appeared, bringing Demian back from the Legion of Darkness. What are we supposed to take from this?” Samael insisted, trying to keep her pace.

Addalynn stopped in front of the elevator and turned to him.

“You said it yourself. It was a fluke. There’s no conclusion to draw. I didn’t even know what was going to happen when I got there. I just followed an instinct.”

“An instinct? You didn’t make that portal appear?”

“If I had, I would know it. I had nothing to do with it,” she said, completely stoic. There was no way of knowing if she was lying or not, her face didn’t show the slightest hesitation. A bell announced the arrival of the elevator and she got inside, leaving Samael standing before her, his gaze showing the muddle in his mind. “Stop complicating yourself with conspiracy theories. There are more important things to focus on right now.”

“Like what?” Samael asked, but the elevator door closed, and she didn’t seem eager to respond anyway, leaving the angel buried in more doubts than before.

That night, some could enjoy a peaceful sleep, but also there were those who didn’t sleep at all. Like Demian. He had let Mitchell take the bed after forcing him to confess everything about the new power he had been using at the expense of others. So, while he was loudly snoring in a position that looked rather uncomfortable despite having all the bed for him, Demian stood by the window, looking at the night sky, at times taking his hand to the neck, even though it didn’t hurt anymore.

He kept thinking of what Samael had said, that it had been a warning. ‘You shouldn’t have come back’. Was he the one who had kept him out of the Legion of Darkness all along? He’d already attacked him three times, and yet he hadn’t killed him. And most importantly, he was sure now that he was still in there. Was there another demon with amber eyes hanging out on Earth then? One more mystery to add to the collection.

He remembered the small brass box he had taken from that room and pulled it from his pocket. He had kept the medallion and the lock of hair inside —Hair that belonged to his mother, or at least he thought so.

He took the lock and got it closer to the window, so he could see it opposed the moonlight. Its dusky tone cleared out and even glowed, as if the strands were made of silver without looking like gray hairs. He tried to imagine its original owner, but it was impossible to get a mental picture. Where was she? If she was still alive. He put it against the backlighting again, and for a moment he got to see a faceless silhouette opening its arms to him and hoped for one day to be able to also shape the face that was denied to him so far.

“No… no… I swear. I didn’t mean to put my hand in there… I just wanted to see that necklace,” Mitchell mumbled in his sleep. And the moment was ruined.

Demian placed the lock in the box again, and after giving Mitchell a disapproving look while he snored carelessly, he decided to leave the room. He walked down to the bottom of the hall, where the elevator was, but instead of getting in it, he saw a sliding glass door leading to a balcony. Once he checked it was open, he decided to take the chance and go out. He leaned on the railing and looked at the sky, lit only by the moon. There were no stars, but a refreshing breeze helped him ease his mind.

When he opened his eyes, he saw a decorative garden extending below the hotel, and the first picture in his mind was of blood spreading on the green grass and a pair of dull eyes fixed on him. For a moment, it seemed so real he gasped and stepped back. It had been a bad idea. Balconies and he were a bad combination, he should better go back—

“You can’t sleep?” Demian turned with a wince and saw Samael stepping out, with his hand still on the sliding door. “Are you trying to remember or leave something behind?”

Demian tried to show no emotion on his face.

“I don’t need to sleep, I just do it out of habit,” he said, taking his hands to his pockets and shrugging with indifference.

“I used to think that, but if this body has taught me anything is that sometimes you must rest to recharge,” the angel replied, unusually expressive with Demian, so much he even thought it could be Mitchell practicing his power. “Can I stay here for a minute?”

“Go ahead. I was just leaving,” Demian replied as he walked to the door.

“The yellow-eyed demon—” Samael said and Demian stood before the glass door, “You know him, right?”

He should have expected it. Of course, it was no coincidence that he was suddenly so talkative; he wanted information, and that was the only reason the angel would dare to speak to him.

“Is that why you’re here? To talk about that demon?”

“I couldn’t sleep either,” Samael replied with a shrug, as if that would excuse him, and Demian laughed in disbelief. “He’s the one who left those marks on you, isn’t it?”

“What makes you think it’s the same?”

“Your interest in him. And also, what Addalynn said, so I thought—”

“What did Addalynn say?” Demian interrupted him, his eyes flashing as if a flame was lit inside of him.

“She said that amber-eyed demons were dangerous.”

Amber-eyed demons. He was right then, there were more than one. The demon that was on Earth planning who knows what and the one who was still in the Legion of Darkness, that meant at last two.

“So… is he the one who attacked you?” Samael asked again.

“I’m not sure it’s the same guy,” Demian said doubtfully.

“That’s why you wanted to know so much what Loui had seen, right? I guess you’ll have to find this guy first.”

“Your perceptive skills amaze me,” Demian replied sarcastically, but Samael didn’t take it personal.

“I’m just saying we have a common goal, so we should unify knowledge about this guy,” he suggested, and Demian stood by the door, holding it midpoint between open and closed, waiting for him to start sharing information, but the angel seemed to be expecting the same from him, so they both kept silent the next minute, in another battle of wills for who was the first to yield. Demian finally smiled and slid the door fully open.

“That’s what I thought. Let me know when you have information that may interest me and then, perhaps, I’ll consider the same,” Demian concluded, closing the door. Then he gave him one last look through the glass before turning around and leave.

Samael stood in the middle of the balcony, leaning on the balustrade. The sky was dark with no stars, and no trace of the clouds that had formed the vortex either. How did Addalynn foresee it? It was yet to be known…

Belgina was braiding her hair that morning when she heard a knock on the door, and she first looked through the peephole to make sure who it was.

“Housekeeping!” said a woman with a smile that showed a lot of teeth. Belgina sighed and let the woman in, peeking through the door and glancing at both sides of the aisle. Since it seemed to be no one, she seemed to relax and turned to the cleaning lady… except that there was no such.

“Please, babe, just let me explain why I did it. I know I have no excuse but—” Mitchell said, gesturing desperately with his hands, but Belgina immediately leaped away from the door and stretched her arm. A strong gust of wind arose, throwing Mitchell out of the room like a leaf swirling around in the air, getting him stamped upside down against the wall, with his legs falling over. All he could see was the door slamming shut and then locked.

Still dizzy and disappointed at his failure, he suddenly heard the next door open, so he quickly swung his legs over his head to the ground and stood up before someone else saw him, but only ended up with tangled limbs.

“What’s the new stupid thing you’re up to now?” Marianne said from the side door with folded arms. “You should know by now that you won’t get anything by stalking Belgina. And even less with your unethical method based on deception:”

“It wasn’t my intention! I just wanted her to stop running away from me like I’m some kind of monster.”

Well, what we saw yesterday could easily be the stuff of nightmares.”

Mitchell gave a resigned sigh and finally got to his feet.

“…I just want another chance,” he said, shaking his clothes and fixing his hair.

“You’ll have to earn it,” Marianne said mercilessly, getting back to her room with a slam while the other doors began to open, making it difficult for him to focus on getting out of his predicament. Within seconds, several girls peered into the hall to see what was happening, but only saw a woman from the service with an unnatural smile from ear to ear, bowing to each girl while strolling down the corridor towards the elevator.

“I forgot the cleaning cart, sorry. I forgot the cart,” repeated again and again until reaching the elevator, meeting face to face with its exact replica when it opened. The woman in the elevator froze and her doppelganger smiled, pulling the cart out of the elevator along with her to take her place. “The cart is here, cleaning time! Work, sister!”

The elevator doors closed and the cleaning lady preceeded to cross herself with a terrified face.

The opening ceremony took about two hours, going from a tedious start to full on torture at the end. A few hundred teenagers piled up listening to the monotonous voice of a man talking about the values of healthy sport and teamwork under a huge glass dome that reflected the rising sun was a very poorly planned idea. Finally, the lottery determined that they would be playing their first basketball game that night and Samael suddenly nudged Marianne, pointing at the school emblem for the team that would be playing against the boys. It was the same he had seen in Loui’s memories. Sun Valley School. Marianne just noded in silent agreement. They would have to be on alert for that team.

She looked around for Demian, and when she finally found him, he was already with one foot outside the building, didn’t even look at them. Something must have happened in the Legion of Darkness besides what he told them. She wanted to talk to him, but he didn’t seem to want the same thing… Maybe he hadn’t forgiven her about telling Samael after all.

Demian returned to his room and the first thing he saw was a lot of bags on the floor. Mitchell apparently had a very busy day while they were stacked like cattle during the opening ceremony.

“Hey! You’re right in time! Come in and make yourself comfortable ‘cause you’re gonna like this,” Mitchell pointed to a chair surrounded by more bags with the logo of a department store.

“What is this? How can you just go shopping? Nobody’s supposed to know you’re here; if you used a credit card you could be easily tracked,” Demian said, and Mitchell just laughed dismissively.

“Relax, my demon friend. I’m smarter than that; there’s nothing to worry about. I didn’t use my credit card, didn’t even bring it with me,” Mitchell snapped as if about to tell a very good joke —at least for his standards.

“…I didn’t bring mine either, so I know for sure you didn’t take it from me,” Demian said, trying to figure out how he had bought everything while Mitchell just smiled, enjoying his musings, and taking some clothes out of the bags

“Look at this! It’s suede; with a hat on I could pretend to be a cowboy!” Mitchell said, showing an old west vest that looked soft and manageable. “I saw some boots with spurs, but I thought it would be too much. Oh! And there were these biodegradable shirts that seemed perfect for a rainy day, to give the ladies something to look at.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“And this is for you! For being a good friend and allowing me to stay here, taking up part of your personal space,” Mitchell continued, aware that it would get him more riled up, showing an outfit composed of baggy pants with diamond shape patterns and suspenders, a short-sleeve shirt, shrunken on the front and long at the sides, and a fedora hat with the same fabric and patterns like the ones on the pants. Demian couldn’t hide his horrified expression. It was like he was trying to impose his own style to him.

“…You’re crazy if you think I’m gonna wear that. I rather use the same clothes all week,” Demian replied, looking at the garments as if they were radioactive.

“I knew you would despise my selfless gift,” Mitchell said with feigned indignation, putting the clothes back to the bag. “And since you’re in the doldrums right now and you basically have this homeless orphan vibe, I got you some alternative outfits more fitting of your boring style.”

He pulled more clothes from another bag, and as he had said they were closer to his own style, but even though Demian seemed interested at first, he still doubted.

“…Wait a minute, is this some kind of trick to somehow make me pay for everything later? Because you know I’m virtually broken right now, do you?”

“Relax! I told you that you have nothing to worry about. This is a gift from me to you; take it, please, don’t forsake my token of gratitude,” Mitchell insisted, offering him the pair of bags with the clothes.

Demian took a moment to consider his sincerity, and slowly reached for the bags with caution, quickly pulling away, as if expecting him to make a false move, but Mitchell stood there, smiling and obliging.

“…I’ve accepted, happy? Will you tell me now where you got the money?”

Mitchell’s smile spread wider in his face and his eyes shone with excitement. He took his hand to his pocket and, with a quick movement, pulled a credit card, exhibiting it as a precious trophy.

“My sister’s credit card. Never goes out without it,” he said like a commercial.


“When you all were taken to the opening event, I followed you incognito. I waited a few minutes for the groups to gather and once the boring speech began, I got into the crowd and walked erratically down to her; then I pretended to bump into her, and while she bent forward dramatically, I took it from her purse and fled the scene,” Mitchell explained so proudly it would seem he was telling a great feat that would win him the gold medal in theft with obstacles.

“And you say it so lightly? Don’t you think she would notice sooner or later?”

“No problem, I’ll give it back to her at the first chance, and when our father gets the balance by the end of the month and she tries to claim she was robbed, there’s a video on a department store where she was caught buying all these things happily,” Mitchell finished, spinning the credit card in his fingers and keeping it back to his pocket, fully satisfied with the outcome.

“…Just because I won’t wear Frank’s clothes and I’m starting to feel uncomfortable with these ones already,” Demian said, entering the bathroom and carrying the bags with him. “I have a game later on, so I might not be back till late. Whatever you do, don’t let anyone see you, and especially don’t go around pretending to be me.”

“Don’t worry, I think I’m getting better at transforming into someone else,” Mitchell said very confident even though Demian had his doubts.

That night both teams would dispute their games in the same place, and as the girls would play first, the rest waited in the stands for the game to start. The boys occupied the seats near the benches, and to make Demian’s alienation more obvious, everyone was talking to each other while he remained excluded aside the group, leaving a visible gap between them, while his eyes were fixed on the court, with the girls getting ready for the game. Then he sensed someone sitting in that very space.

“Do you think they’ll even let you play?” Demian refused to answer or even turn around; he already knew who it was. “I’ve heard the others; they won’t let you have the ball. The coach is also aware of this and must be wondering now if it was the right choice to include you in the team at all.”

“What do you want, Dreyson?” he finally asked, tensing his jaw. “If that happens, what do you care? You got what you wanted, right? Oh, wait, you didn’t! You’re not captain, I forgot that little detail.” Saying this, he turned to him and gave him an icy glare. “…I guess you’re just not as good as you thought. You got two spots because I quit and the third one because I was sabotaged by my own team. I hope you feel satisfied with those achievements. Enjoy them, it’s my gift to you.”

Now it was Dreyson’s turn to remain silent with a meager face and eyes glowering through his contacts. Demian wished him to make a move to justify the craving he was starting to feel inside. His scar throbbed, and it wouldn’t take longer to sting, threatening his self-control. However, Dreyson didn’t move, on the contrary, he ended up drawing a smile, as if getting the expected reaction.

“…I haven’t got anything I don’t deserve,” he replied, lifting his chin, and then going to sit somewhere else, leaving Demian with clasped hands. If his purpose was to drive him out of concentration before the game, he had succeeded. He reproached himself for falling in his ruse but couldn’t change it. It was more difficult to regain control than to lose it.

“Has the game started yet?” Samael asked, sitting next to Angie and Belgina, offering them candy popcorn.

“Not yet, but we’re getting there,” Angie said, happily accepting the popcorn, but Belgina refused, looking suspiciously at him.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?” Samael asked, blinking in confusion.

“Belgina doesn’t feel so sure anymore that you’re really you… or perhaps Mitchell posing as you,” Angie said, and Belgina immediately seemed embarrassed, as Samael scratched his head as if he had started to doubt it too.

“He wouldn’t dare to do that again. I think he’s smarter than that.”

“But he didn’t hesitate to show up here after all,” Angie objected, glancing at the stands. “He could be anyone as far as we know.”

Belgina followed her example and looked at the faces around her, wondering which one of them would be Mitchell in disguise, unsettling her so much that she looked back at the court, preferring to stop thinking about it.

A whistle started the game, and even when the girls seemed lost at the beginning, little by little they recovered in the first half until catching up with their rival team. Luckily, they were coincidentally also participating for the first time in the games.

Demian followed the game closely, while stretching the elastic band on his wrist, realizing someone sat next to him again, which made him tense, waiting for any comment that would make him lose his temper.

“You have to admit it, Lucianne is the driving force that keeps the team afloat.” Demian turned confused to Frank, the one he least expected to see there. “If I had my way, I would clone her and replace the entire team with her clones… or at least just one to replace my cousin. I don’t know what the coach was thinking; she’s clearly doing a disservice to the others. She should ask for a swap for the good of the team.”

Demian looked at him, starting to understand the underlying message behind his words. Maybe he was reading to much into it, but the hinted idea angered him.

“Just get straight to the point. You’re obviously not here because you’re fond of my company.”

“There has been word among the guys that if someone throws the ball at you during the game, they will receive the silent treatment. It would be for the best if you stay on the bench this time,” Frank said coldly, and Demian huffed.

“Did they send you as a declaration of war? Because I’m afraid Dreyson already told me that, so I’m not surprised at all.”

“No one sent me. I’m just saying what I overheard, so you know what you’re up to if you decide to enter the field,” Frank replied with a shrug, “…And because I think that’s just foul play, as if that would give us the victory.”

Demian raised an eyebrow skeptically, wondering if he was misinterpreting his words, especially coming from him.

“…Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

“Hey, nobody tells me what to do! I do what I want, and I want to win. I’ll take every chance I can get, and if that means keeping the ball and not throwing it to anyone, I won’t,” Frank spat sullenly.

“And then they would give you the silent treatment,” Demian added, and Frank shrugged indifferently.

“I’m a lone wolf anyway,” he said, standing up to change seats again. “Don’t think that means I now like you or something like that! To me you’re still a demon!”

“I wasn’t expecting any less from you.”

They suddenly began to hear gasps in the audience, growing exponentially until joining into one hysterical scream.

“What the hell—?” Frank muttered after turning to the source of those cries and finding the reason.

The door to the sports center opened and Lissen Rox entered with his dyed blue hair with violet shades and his infallible eyeliner that emphasized his intense blue eyes; the startling disbelief at the beginning eventually gave way to screams of excitement as soon as the word spread that he was there. And nevertheless, the only thing Demian could see was his baggy pants with diamond shape patterns, the suspenders, the short-sleeve shirt and the fedora hat.

“…That idiot,” Demian muttered, containig the urge to facepalm. If he’d somehow thought him capable of understanding the subtlety of discretion, he’d clearly given him too much credit.

While the newcomer walked confidently to the stands, screams intensified on his path, and he made a quick glance through the crowd until finding three faces sitting side by side and watching him with curiosity instead of the devotion the rest of the crowd professed him. He smiled and made a finger gun gesture and a wink. The immediate reaction of the crowd was of total madness. Among shouts of ‘He winked at me’ and ‘No, me’, the initial shock that kept people frozen in their seats went overboard, giving way to debauchery. Dozens of girls and boys, jumped up from their seats and launched in hordes towards their idol while the target of all the insanity stopped short, noticing the mass of students going down like a pack of dogs over a juicy steak. He hesitated for a few seconds before realizing the danger that was coming to him and decided to flee the place with an army of rabid teenagers chasing after him.

The screams were so intense that the game had to be interrupted while the mob left the place. The girls looked at the door, trying to figure out what was the fuss about, but the place looked almost empty since 90% of the audience had pretty much left the stands. The whistle sounded again to resume the game, and although they didn’t know what was happening, they returned to their positions.

“Was our game so bad that everyone left? That doesn’t help lifting our spirits,” Lucianne said after finishing the game 30-27 in their favor. It was their first victory and most of their audience were gone.

“What does it matter? We won. At least once the yelling stopped it helped our concentration,” Marianne replied as they walked to the benches and the boys were already going down the stands to prepare for their own game.

“Good job despite the rocky start,” Frank said, giving them thumbs up.

“Apparently, the rest of the crowd didn’t think so,” Lucianne pointed to the stands and Frank just tried to downplay the fact.

“That was because of my idiot cousin; don’t even think about it.”

“Oh, my god!” Lilith shouted, running towards them and tirelessly repeating the same thing. “Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod! I heard Lissen Rox was here! He came to watch the game, hence the screams! You know what that means? Perhaps he hasn’t forgotten about me since the contest! He’s been looking for me all this time and he finally came for me and I didn’t even realize it! I want to die! I’ve been forsaken by fate!”

“Lissen Rox?” Marianne raised an eyebrow, considering it very unlikely, and given Frank’s amused face, she knew then what disguise Mitchell had chosen this time. She just shook her head, disapproving his zero-common sense.

“Beware of the other team,” Samael said when he took a seat in the front row next to the girls and Frank nodded. They had warned them previously about their rival team and the chance that some of the team members could be the attacked students from the video Loui had taken. So, they had to be on the alert for any unusual bruise in them.

It took them fifteen minutes to get ready for the second game. Most of the audience had already returned after losing sight of the fake Lissen Rox. At the end of their row, an unknown guy slumped exhausted in the seat and took a deep breath, stretching his body front and back while the others watched him curiously. The boy turned to them and smiled.

“I’m sorry I missed your game,” he said with a shrug and that was enough to let them know who he really was.

Marianne rolled her eyes while Belgina got stiff as a bow on the other end.

“You have some nerve to show up and sit here after all,” Marianne snapped.

“I don’t know what you mean, miss. I just came from far away to watch a game,” he said, acting as if he didn’t know her and staring at the court. Marianne shook her head as Lilith leaned towards her and whispered something to her ear.

“…I don’t know about you, but that guy reminds me of Mitchell, don’t you think?”

Marianne just gave her a look of disbelief.

The coach had begun to designate the players to start the game and when he stopped on Demian, he seemed to hesitate, and naturally he noticed it.

“…If it’s okay with you, I’ll stay on the bench,” Demian said ahead of him, who took his request as surprised as the others. He perceived Frank’s relief that he wouldn’t have to challenge the others. Even the coach seemed pleased by his resolution.

“…All right. Castell, you’re in. Be ready in five minutes,” the coach finished with a slap for everyone.

While the boys were passing next to those who would stay on the bench, Demian looked intently at their expressions, and even though they all seemed satisfied, Dreyson glanced at him without showing any emotion; he almost seemed indifferent to whether or not he would play. For some reason, this made him angrier than if he had reacted derisively. After all, he was the reason for his decision, not the threats of denying him the ball. The scar on his wrist kept throbbing, and he preferred to stay out of the game, otherwise he would risk losing control again and someone might get hurt.

The game started and Demian didn’t stop stretching and releasing the wristband he used to cover his scar. The boys had no trouble to coordinate quickly, as if they were part of the same swarm, and even though it pained him to have lost the position of captain, Aldric led them decently enough. At least they all seemed to listen at him and didn’t ignore his orders. He was even able to recognize, as much as he hated to admit it, that Dreyson was a valuable asset with his constant steals and blocks. The only one that seemed to go at his own pace was Frank and his individualistic ways, yet even he could tell whenever he wouldn’t have the chance to score some point and ended throwing —reluctantly, of course— the ball to someone else. He should have felt calm at how things were going, but the scar kept stinging, which affected his mood and the way he perceived everything.

He wanted to be there, he wanted to score, to lead the game. It was so unfair the way they had turned their backs on him as a team over a stupid thing. And even worse, influencing on the rest of the clubs to also turn against him. Just the thought of it made his blood boil. Literally, he felt burning inside, and the origin was the throbbing scar, swollen as if it were in the flesh.

The game was near the end of the first half when Frank stole the ball and bolted to the basket zone, where he was blocked by three guys from the rival team. He dribbled the ball for a few seconds while he thought of a way to break free and score a basket without depending on the others when he suddenly noticed a weird bruise in the neck of one of the boys. It moved erratically and it seemed to expand. That was it. Just what they were looking for. He saw Aldric on the other side, asking for the ball, and he finally decided to make the pass and keep marking on the boy with the bruise so he wouldn’t lose sight of him. Aldric took the ball in the middle of the court, pointing at the basket; he seemed very confident in his shot, and after exchanging the ball with his eaves, he rushed towards the hoop, jumping for a score, and hanging from the basket for a few seconds while the ball dropped to the floor. He let go satisfied, ready to fall on his feet, when one of them inexplicably bent when he set it on the floor, falling on his leg with a cry of pain.

The halftime whistle was played immediately. Coaches and teammates came to check on him and Demian paused, with his fingers still hooked on the wristband. Suddenly the fire boiling in his blood began to fade until there was only a cold shudder running through his skin. Had he done it? No, it had to be an accident; he didn’t even remember the feeling of detachment every time he cast a shadow out of his body… but did he even remember anything else apart from the boiling blood and the throbbing scar over the last minutes? He wasn’t quite sure anymore.

Orderlies came on the court, and while Aldric kept howling in pain, they took him out of there as both teams returned to their seats. Demian knew what would happen next, the coach would have to name a temporary captain to finish the game and maybe even the rest of the tournament, so he almost jumped up, motivated by the idea of getting back on the game, even if the others didn’t include him.

“I want to play in the second half,” Demian asked, and the rest of the guys gave him sullen looks. The coach was aware of it, given the way he seemed to weigh the pros and cons, but they were running out of time, and he had to make a decision soon.

“…You’re entering as an eave. Avery, you’re taking the center,” the coach said after pondering his choices and Demian had to suppress the urge to talk back.

He was used to be the center, and although it wasn’t a rule, he knew what that position meant; it was the one who virtually led the team, and out of everyone, the coach ended up giving it to Dreyson. He glanced at him, expecting to see a triumphant smirk on his face, but he looked serious and focused; all he did was nodding at his instruction and the rest of the team seemed more pleased with that decision.

“Go ahead,” the coach finished with a slap, and they all went back to the court and their positions.

Demian saw Frank walking towards him, and he couldn’t help thinking he would blame him for the incident.

“…I suppose you think I planned this.”

“I didn’t say anything,” Frank said with a shrug. “Besides, there might be another option.” After saying this, he directed a look at one of the boys from the opposing team and Demian looked confused at him.

As soon as the whistle sounded and the ball was in play, Demian almost hoped the opposing team would take it so he would have a chance to steal it instead of waiting for his peers to throw it to him —Not a chance of that happening—, but Dreyson was faster than he thought, and in a split second he already had the ball, crossing the field at full speed. He followed him closely along the rest of the team and waited for the score, which came very quickly. The ball bounced on the floor, falling in possession of the opposing team, and Demian saw his chance. He followed the boy, intending to intercept him, but when they were getting to the rival basket, Frank stepped in with a grunt that made the boy back off, and stagger a few steps while he stole the ball now that he had a free pass.

Demian changed course again and now followed Frank’s path, who got trapped between two players from the other team, and his possession time was running out. The base and guard came running way behind him, asking for the ball, but Demian was the closest one to him, outsmarting the player who was marking him, and indicating with his eyes his intention to keep going to the basket, hoping he would make the pass.

Frank wished to make the shot himself, but he soon felt some kind of pressure holding his feet on the ground and then noticed the boy with the bruise was one of the guys blocking him, and he was staring at him.

“…Screw it!” Frank muttered, throwing the ball at the last second, landing in Demian’s hands who didn’t waste any time; he stopped a few feet in front of the basket, flexed his legs to jump and made a shot with so much strength that it was a sure score, but right before entering the hoop, a pair of hands intercepted it and completed the score with a dunk, landing then on the ground in a more effective way than Aldric.

Demian was shocked to see his play thwarted by Dreyson, who barely glanced at him before going after the ball, in the other team’s possession again, but Demian still managed to see a hint of a smile on him, proving it had been on purpose. He clenched his jaw but continued with the game. Fortunately, Frank kept his threat of ‘doing the thing that suited him best to win’, so the ball was no longer exempt for him when he wasn’t stealing the ball himself. The game ended with a landslide victory despite the internal drama.

At the end, both teams headed to the locker room that was twice as large as the school and went to extreme opposites, but once the door closed, Demian went straight to Dreyson and held him by the shirt, pushing him against the wall upon their peers’ shocked gazes.

“Why did you hinder my shot?” Demian asked while his teammates yelled to separate them, but no one dared to intervene.

Dreyson remained unruffled despite being against the wall.

“The ball wouldn’t go in. Too much power. It would have just bounced off the backboard,” Dreyson said in complete calm.

“That’s not true! I had it all under control!” he replied, tightening his grasp around his shirt, but Dreyson continued undeterred.

“As controlled as you are now?”

Demian clenched his teeth and hands; his scar throbbed like a volcano ready to erupt, but before he could do or say anything else, Frank pulled him away from Dreyson.

“You’d better cut it out if you don’t wan any problem. We just won the game. Do you want us to be disqualified?”

Demian stopped and looked around; his peers from both teams watched him with morbid curiosity, as if waiting for the moment all hell would break loose. He had allowed his demon blood to blind his reasoning, so he pulled away from Frank and went to the back without uttering a word.

“Hey, one more thing…” Frank tried to say, looking sideways to the guy with the bruise at the other side of the room.

“Not now. I want to be alone,” Demian spat, refusing to listen to anything else.

As he was getting used to, he waited until everyone was out. The center was almost empty, but he still could see groups of students gathered at the entrance.

He took a deep breath and started to walk across the court. The girls’ locker room door opened right then, and Marianne hurried out, carrying her bag. They both fell silent after meeting face to face.

“…Congratulations on your victory,” Marianne said to break the silence.

“Thanks, but I did nothing. The rest of the team made sure of that,” Demian said in a bitter tone despite having no intention to sound that way.

“That’s not entirely true, Frank was throwing you the ball during the game. You have to admit he behaved honorably… at least this time,” Marianne replied, crossing her arms as she did everytime she tried to protect herself from words —or lack thereof. It was her shield.

“Sure, honorably whenever it suits him,” Demian retorted, folding his arms just like her, though his tone came out more relaxed this time, and he even raised an eyebrow to assert his point. Marianne squinted for a moment and then lowered her arms as she sighed, deciding to grant him that.

“…Okay. I don’t even know why I bothered; he wouldn’t do the same for me.”

Demian smiled once the ice was broken, and also unfolded his arms while thinking what else to say.

“You played very well. You deserved to win. You’re all getting better.”

“I think we can thank Lucianne for that. Although, the crowd didn’t seem very happy at the end.”

“You’ll have to thank Mitchell for that.”

“Yes, I had the chance to let him know my opinion about the abuse of this new power of his,” Marianne said, cracking her fingers and Demian laughed more openly, which encouraged her to speak more confidently. “So… you still don’t remember how you got here?”

Demian’s smile disappeared, becoming serious and cautious again.

“…No. But I guess your angel already told you what we talked last night, since there are no secrets between you two,” Demian replied, resuming his way to the entrance, and Marianne outran him and stood right in front of him.

“Stop it! I get that you’re still mad for telling him something I wasn’t supposed to, but I admitted my mistake and promised it wouldn’t happen again; could you stop acting like a jerk when the only thing we do is care about you? ‘Boohoo, no one understands what I’m going through’ ‘Boohoo, I’m different from the others’ ‘Boohoo, I’m a time bomb, I would be better off dead’. Well, if you want to end your misery so much, we can fix it right now: I have a sword and I know how to use it. Just say it and we’ll be done with this at once, no more drama,” Marianne snapped, looking sternly at him, with her back straightened and hands clenched around her bag. Demian looked astounded at her, and just as she was losing confidence in her reaction, he started laughing more heartily.

“Is that how I sound? Wow, I must seem really pathetic,” he said laughing, and she relaxed.

“Not so much as the fact that you seem straight out of a greek tragedy; always full of bad omens and cruel fates,” Marianne said, and he laughed even more.

“Well, then I guess I’ll have to fix that,” he said as he managed to appease his laughter. “Contrary to what it seems, I have no intention to die. At least not yet, I still have many things to solve, so I hope you can keep that sword for a while, and when I need it, I will ask you myself to cut my head off, and you may even keep it as a trophy if you want.”

Marianne contained herself from smiling, but she knew from his playful tone that he was equally joking and being serious at the same time, and that was his way of giving her the reason by poking fun at himself.

“In that case it will have a place of honor in my cabinet of severed heads,” she said, playing along, and Demian nodded in acceptance of the taunt, motioning his head to indicate that they should keep going, but he just took a few steps and she stopped him once again, looking earnestly at him. “…You know you can count on us, right? Don’t isolate yourself anymore. We want to help and support you in whatever you need.”

Seeing the genuine expression of concern on her face made him feel vulnerable. He didn’t like feeling that way, but still smiled gratefully.

“I always try to remind it. But it’s sometimes difficult with a clouded mind,” he admitted, and Marianne unexpectedly pressed his arm, causing a current stream running through his skin.

“We’ll remind you as often as necessary,” she said in a supportive way. Demian seemed taken aback, looking at her hand around his arm, and after a few seconds of silence, she started to realize that the moment threatened to become uncomfortable, so she let go. “…Unless you act like a complete jerk again. I have very little patience and if you fill it up, my sword is still on offer.”

“…And you’re back,” Demian smiled again, pointing at the door, and while they were walking, it didn’t escape to him the fact that she didn’t mention what happened to Aldric in the halftime. For a moment he really thought she would ask if he had done it, but the fact that she didn’t, made him thankful. Now, if she believed he did it or not, that was another thing. How to defend himself when he wasn’t even certain?

That was another sleepless night for Demian. Mitchell had practically taken over the bed and the floor was still full of the shopping bags he had bought at his sister’s expense. He was surprised at how easily he could rest peacefully despite his circumstances, as if nothing would take sleep away from him. He was almost jelaous of the ease in which he took things; if he could just stop musing over and over again, perhaps it would be easier to sleep, but his mind wouldn’t stop asking questions, making guesses, embroiling himself even more every time he ran into an idea that led to nowhere. And yet, it was more convenient for him having those thoughts to keep him awake since he had left his sleeping pills back home, and without them he was completely unpredictable. His subconscious could be a danger they hadn’t considered until now.

“What kind of monster were they trying to create with me?” he murmured, looking out the window at the darkened city. He took out again the brass box he carried everywhere like a charm, and in each hand, he held the medallion and the lock of hair he was convinced belonged to his mother. If only he knew something about her. If she was at least alive…

He clutched the medallion, wanting to know why he was abandoned with that object as the only connection to the mother he never knew. What did she expect him to do with it? What use could he give it? It was a just a medallion —However, with that same medallion he got to open the drawer where he found the lock of hair. Maybe she had left some scattered clues that only the medallion could unlock for him.

With this in mind, he put the lock back in the brass box and kept the medallion. He closed his hand around it and closed his eyes, trying to focus on the residual energy of the object. “Guide me, mother” he thought, focusing on what the medallion would convey.

It was very faint at first, like a ghostly hand touching the back of his head, but then it grew until he perceived a distant kind of energy flowing into the same medallion. Something was calling it. He opened his eyes, excited at the certainty. He just had to keep track of that energy and see where it led.

He took a quick look to make sure Mitchell was still asleep —snoring and spread across the entire width of the bed like it was his—, and then he closed his eyes, focusing entirely on the trail of energy, carried away by it, and suddenly he was transported to the point where the medallion took him. After making sure he was on solid ground, he decided to open his eyes and discover where he was. But when he did, his face sombered, puzzled at how familiar it all looked to him.

…Too much. Painfully. It had to be a mistake. He couldn’t be there. It couldn’t—


His body stiffened upon hearing that voice and paled as much as if he had lost his color. For a second, he didn’t know if he could move, but he finally turned around and faced her with the courage he hadn’t had before.

Sitting in bed, Vicky watched him wide-eyed and alarmed, transmitting such an intense emotion that couldn’t be other than fear. Demian stepped back, his legs still not responding very well. Those eyes that used to look at him with admiration now looked at him as if he was some kind of monster, and that was how he felt at that moment.

Why? Why did the medallion lead him right there to Vicky? It was a mistake; he could no longer subject her to his dreaded presence, so he forced himself to turn around and leave.

“Wait!” Vicky said, and his strength abandoned him again. “…Turn around.”

He remained motionless for several seconds, unable to turn back. He didn’t want to see that expression on her face, but just like he had found the strength to try and leave, he did what she asked. He owed her that at least. He turned around and stood there, waiting for her verdict. To finally disown him as her brother, make it official at once.

“…Transform,” Vicky said after watching him for a while.

Demian’s face shrank at her request. If she needed to see him for what he really was to convince herself and cut all ties with him, he would have to do it, even if the idea of showing himself to her in his demon form disgusted him.

With a sigh, he looked away as his body began taking the form of a demon. He stood in the same position, not even daring to look at her. He didn’t want to see the contempt in her eyes. He waited for her to say something, but he didn’t expect her to come down from her bed to get a closer look. Like a circus freak. That thought make him feel ashamed and humiliated.

“Since when?” she asked, her voice subdued.

“I’ve known for a few months now. But technically… I was born like this. I… It wasn’t up until then that I found out I was adopted. Dad told me right before he—” He couldn’t finish the sentence, just waited for her to speak instead, but Vicky also kept silent for longer than he could bear. “I’ll just… leave and I promise you’ll never hear from me again.”

“No!” Vicky said before he could make a second attempt to disappear. Demian finally took the courage to look at her and noticed her eyes were brimming with tears. Aware that he was responsible for it, he stepped back, but to his surprise, Vicky unexpectedly launched at him and hugged him despite his appearance, unable to contain her tears, rolling down her cheeks. “You’re still you, no matter how you look! You’re still my brother! I should have seen it before!”

Momentarily stunned, Demian’s arms waggled hesitantly above her, but realizing he still had that aspect, first he decided to go back to his human form and finally reciprocrated the hug. He held her tight until her sobbing decreased, and only then he pulled away.

“You understand that dad was hunted because of me, right? You’re still willing to treat me as a brother despite that?”

“It’s not your fault!” Vicky said with red nose and eyes. “He didn’t die by your hand, you’re not responsible for it and I don’t want to hear you talk about it anymore!”

Demian felt a heavy iron fist landing on his chest.

No. It wasn’t their father who died by his own hand. Their mother, however…

“I want things to be the way they were before,” Vicky continued, wiping her face with the back of her hand. “I don’t care what kind of blood you have or where you’re from. I want to call you brother and don’t want to feel like you’re living a lie, because that’s what you have been and will always be to me.”

The weight in Demian’s chest was even heavier. If she learned the truth about their mother’s death… but no, nobody knew, and no one had to know. What good would it do now? He would take the secret to his grave. He took a deep breath and tried to smile to make her feel better.

“I’m glad to hear you say that,” he said, his hand hesitating for a moment before landing on Vicky’s head and softly patting hers as he used to do. “…I have to go back now. But we’ll talk when I get back from the trip.”

“Take me with you!” Vicky asked. “I can say that I decided to travel to support you!”

“But you have to go to school—”

“I don’t care losing a few classes! The only thing I want right now is to go with you!” she persisted with that pleading expression he couldn’t deny anything to.

Demian wasn’t convinced but smiled and reached out for her hand. They disappeared in a burst of smoke.