Chapter 8



“…One would think that you’d be perfectly able to differentiate between a simple prank and a stupid decision! Because what you did there cannot be classified as a prank! It was something complete and incredibly stupid!”

Loui was on the living room couch, with his face contorted in a grimace, and looking at the floor with folded arms while his mother scolded him. She was pacing in the middle of the room, as if she were a prosecutor giving her closing speech against the criminal sitting in the dock. In the other two couches, Marianne and Samael were sitting in complete silence and Noah stood at the living room entrance, leaning against the wall, not daring to intervene while Enid had her temper heated.

“What the hell were you thinking?! You could have drowned! And now there’s gonna be a stain on your school record!” the woman continued in a voice that seemed incapable of exhaustion. “If you keep doing stupid things like this, you’ll end up expelled, and if that happens, I won’t take responsibility for what will happen to you!”

“Nide, I think he’s had enough for today,” Noah said, but she glared at him and gestured him that she wasn’t done yet and to stay out of it.

“…Now, listen to me! If I ever receive a single call from school, even if you’re not expelled, I myself will get you out of there and take you to an intern school, is that clear?!” Loui remained silent and sulking on the couch without uttering a word. “…I said, is that clear’?!”

“…Okay. Can I go to my room now?” Loui said with a monotone. His mother just stood in the middle of the room and made a motion with her head to dismiss him.

“…You’ll stay there until dinner and you won’t play videogames for a week!”

Loui didn’t even complain, just walked up the stairs with his gaze on the floor.

“…Maybe you were a little harsh on him,” Noah said as Loui went to his room.

“Do not tell me how to raise my children.”

“They’re my children, too,” he replied, though he didn’t sound reproachful, and she took a breath after her burst of anger.

“…Noah, we need to talk,” she said, indicating the kitchen with her eyes and then focusing back on Marianne and Samael. “You two are free to go. I’ll let you know when lunch is ready.”

They both walked into the kitchen while Marianne looked anxious at them, squeezing her hands. She knew what they were about to talk, if what she’d heard from Belgina was true. She wanted to say something… but she wasn’t sure of what. Finally, she ran up to her room and as she opened the door, found out that Samael was already there.

“You know what I’m going to say. I don’t wanna talk,” Marianne said, walking past him and leaving her bag on the bed.

“I thought you’d want to talk about what happened at school.”

“Oh, right. Yeah, sure. We could discuss that, I guess.”

“I think we both know that was no accident.”

“Of course not. Someone must have pushed him, but I don’t know why the little nag is so stubborn in covering it up.”

“…I mean the guy from Fencing,” Samael said, and she kept quiet for a moment, wondering how she could have forgotten that incident. “From the way he was standing, it was impossible to just slip. You saw the angle of the sprain; it was as if his foot was stuck in the ground.”

“…Are you suggesting Demian did it?”

“Do you think he would have a reason to?” Samael asked, raising his eyebrows, while she remembered what she said to him right before starting the exhibition, something about coming up with an injury to keep him from participating. Could he have taken it to the extreme and could she be partly responsible for giving him the idea?

“…I’ll go to his house in a while for a team meeting. I’ll take some time to talk to him,” she said decisively and to her surprise, Samael just nodded. “…Aren’t you gonna tell me to be careful or that you’d rather be present?”

“Believe it or not, I think you’re safe for now,” he replied, and her eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“…Okaaaay,” she said, stretching the word as if expecting a catch, but his face didn’t show anything out of the ordinary. “Well… I’m gonna change now. See you later at lunch.” The angel nodded again and turned around to leave, but she seemed to think of something else. “Hey… do you think… I’m always expecting people to react a certain way?”

Samael seemed surprised by her question and studied her expression, trying to find the reason behind it without having to read her mind.

“Isn’t that something humans do, anyway?”

Marianne pondered his answer, tilting her head to the sides.

“…I guess you’re right. Harsh but true,” she said with a smile. As the door closed, she took her cell phone and began typing a quick message:

“If I said or did something to offend you, I’m sorry. Let’s talk.”

She searched for Belgina in her contacts and pressed the send button.

She knew it wasn’t the same as talking in person, but she already knew how Belgina could react when something affected her directly. Not that she liked hearing them speaking of her family, something she considered a private matter, but she had no way to prevent what her mother would do or say in front of other people.

The alarm set off with a new message and she quickly swatted it to take a look. It was Belgina’s response.

“I’m not mad at you. Sorry if I gave you the impression.

We’ll talk tomorrow.”

She finally sighed with relief. One less concern. She put the phone back on the dresser and continued what she was doing. In a couple of hours, she would go to Demian’s house and would deal with the other issue that bothered her, though she could already sense that it would be a bit more difficult to talk about.


The girls had planned to meet at the Retroganzza during Lilith’s shift, and despite being convinced that Kristania wouldn’t even show up, she was surprisingly the first one to arrive, and Lilith greeted her with extreme joy and open arms, even though she barely allowed a very brief hug with a fake smile engraved on her face.

“Angie and Belgina shouldn’t be late. It will be a big surprise for them to see you here! They swore you weren’t coming…” Lilith immediately stopped, realizing she had slipped more than she should.

“They still doubt me, right?” Kristania said with a melodramatic expression, taking a hand to her chest. “They think I’ll stab you in the back any day now.”

“Oh, no! Of course not!” Lilith said, squeezing her hands. “And even if anyone is skeptical, I would never in a million years doubt my Lissen Sister!”

 “…Don’t worry. I understand their concern and I’ve gotten used to them already. All I need to know is that you believe in me,” she expressed with an almost hypnotic voice and Lilith frantically shook her head in a nod.

“Only lisseners to the bone could understand our bond!” Lilith confirmed, imbued with energy.

“Vicky’s one of us too,” Kristania said, and Lilith immediately reacted as if her bubble had burst and deflated. “I was talking to her and we decided to create a fan club in the city. She got the idea while visiting clubs. Her first idea was creating one for the school, but obviously quit it since they would reject it immediately. So, we’re planning now to create an Events Planning Club, that way we could convince them of its curricular value since we’d be working with management principles and organization, so the events at school would fall into our hands as projects… But of course, the first project we have in mind is the creation of the official Lissen Rox fan club; what do you think?”

“It’s… it’s… fantastic,” Lilith replied, trying to suppress her conflicted emotions. For one, she wanted so much to belong to a fan club she could physically attend to, but on the other hand, she wouldn’t feel comfortable with Vicky around, let alone after what happened at her party.

“So? Will you join the club? We need at least five people to be responsible for each aspect of the organization, so we can propose it at the end of the week. You could be… our treasurer maybe.”

Kristania stared at her, waiting for an answer. Anyone else would have noticed her eyes flashing at her habit of getting away with anything; anyone but Lilith, always blind to the faults of those she considered her friends, unable to see malice in them.

“I… I’ll think about it and tell you at the end of the week.”

Mankee came out of the kitchen, holding a container and digging inside with a spoon.

“Taste it. It’s a new ice cream flavor I may add to the menu later.” He offered the spoon to Lilith and she took a bite, savoring it like tasting wine.

“Hmmmm, delicious. What is it?”

“You really think so? It’s peanut butter jelly cream with banana chips. I call it the Monkey King. I think it would work better as a waffle topping.”

“What an appropriate name! The Monkey King created by Monkey himself! That will be your signature dish,” she replied with her thumbs up.

“I wasn’t thinking in…” Mankee started flushing once making the connection, but since there was someone else watching, he stepped back ashamed. “…I’ll make some more tests. I’m… heading back to the kitchen.”

“Hey, by the way! Angie and Belgina will be here soon. We’re doing homework; is it okay if I sit with them?”

“Go ahead; I’m not the boss, you don’t have to ask for my permission,” Mankee said, returning backwards to the kitchen, hitting his head on the door before sneaking away with an embarrassed expression.

“All right! It’s all solved now,” she finished with a triumphant clap and then noticed Kristania looking at her. “…What?”

“Is something going on with you and the cook?” she asked with an almost derisive tone that Lilith didn’t seem to grasp since she immediately laughed it off.

“Oh, no! Of course not! We’re friends and I’m his cooking muse,” she replied with a melodic laugh. Ironic that she was suddenly the target of those kinds of suspicions when she did the same with her own friends, but unlike Marianne, she wouldn’t get mad at it and, if in the right mood, she could play along. “…But here among us, he’s got this sexy foreigner look going on with him, don’t you think? And if we add the accent…”

“But he’s a COOK,” Kristania repeated almost with disgust and she stopped laughing. The gray-eyed girl tried to soften her manners, placing her elbows on the counter in a confident pose. “…Listen, I’m not saying he isn’t. It’s just that you deserve better. You must always aim for the top, otherwise… why bother?”

“Well, but… it’s not like we’re going out,” Lilith finally said, trying to smile again despite Kristania’s uncomfortable words.

“Of course not,” she replied with a smirk. “Just trying to put things into perspective. As a joke it’s fine, but on a serious note, he has nothing to offer. We don’t even know if he’s legally here. Is he?”

The words were lost in Lilith’s throat, and when she opened her mouth, she couldn’t say a thing, just stared at her in confusion, trying to think of something appropriate to change the subject, so there was no better interruption when the doorbell announced Angie and Belgina’s arrival seconds later.

“…You’re here!” Lilith cried with clear relief in her voice. “Look who came before you.”

Angie exchanged a brief glance with Belgina and Kristania wrapped an arm around Lilith.

“You have no idea how much I regret not coming the last time. Right now, I’m trying to stay away from home as possible, I don’t want to catch whatever my brother has,” she explained with total disregard and Belgina immediately felt a twinge.

“Is something wrong with him?”

“Yes, a stomach flu or something; he’s been throwing up since Saturday. My mother thought he had drunk something at the reunion, but that was stupid, considering the most dangerous thing that was served that day was perhaps Lilith’s cake,” she said, laughing at her joke at expense of Lilith’s discomfort while Belgina seemed surprised to learn that he had gone to the reunion. “…Ohhh, don’t worry; the slap had nothing to do with it, although I must admit it was hilarious. But if it makes you feel better, whatever reason why you don’t want to talk to my brother, I support you.”

Quite the opposite; her words did nothing but increase the uneasiness that had settled in the pit of her stomach.

“…By the way, Angie, now that you’re here, I want to talk to you about the club Vicky and I came up with,” Kristania went on, now focusing on the raspberry-haired girl. “I mean, since you’re childhood friends and all, I thought it would be fair to let you know, perhaps you would be interested, too. After all, you two seem to have the same tastes…”

Angie’s face was next in line to get tense. She glanced at her friends and then back at Kristania, blinking several times as if every thought had flown out of her mind.

“…What do you mean?” she finally asked, trying to look unaware.

“Well, obviously that both of you seem to like that boy, Marianne’s… uhm… cousin?” Kristania said with a slight pause, as if still not buying it. Angie went pale and searched for a way to deny it.

“N-No… I don’t…”

“Oh, relax! I didn’t tell her anything about it!” Kristania assured, shrugging it off. “It’s not up to me, anyway. Now, can we start? I can only stay for an hour. I have something else to do.”

She then walked to an empty table and slid into one of the seats, pulling a decorated notebook to take notes while the three girls stood there, gobsmacked, not even knowing what had just hit them.


Demian was locked in his room, trying to think about the events in the hospital that evening. He had tried to eat something made by Addalynn, but after five minutes sitting at the table, staring at his plate, he realized he couldn’t eat a thing and excused himself.

Addalynn had also seen that guy. What could that mean? Why her? But even though he wanted to talk to her, he couldn’t do it with his sister around, and given that the girl was always with her, he would have to wait at any given chance.

But his main concern was what the being —‘obit’— had said right before disappearing: that he was ‘that baby’. What was that supposed to mean? Did he meet him as a baby? Was that the reason why he looked familiar to him? But how was that even possible? Did that mean that… he could also have met his mother? His real mother? A cold shiver ran through his body while his hand felt his pocket inadvertently, grabbing the medallion he kept there as an amulet. He had to see him again. He needed to see him. Maybe he had the answers to some of his questions and most importantly, maybe he knew what had happened to her.

He was immersed in his thoughts when he suddenly heard the rumble of the mechanic gate. He looked out the window and saw his sister receiving Marianne and talking to Samael. He couldn’t hear anything from that distance, but Vicky’s gestures were very clear to him. She was apparently inviting him in, but Samael gently refused with a smile and said something else before the gate closed again and both girls walked into the house. Suddenly, the angel lifted his gaze and their eyes met. It was only a couple of seconds before Demian closed the curtains and pulled away from the window.

“I’m so glad you came! I was starting to get nervous after leaving Dreyson alone in the studio. He arrived before time! Can you believe it? I’ll go tell Addalynn we’re ready so she can come down,” Vicky said, pointing down at the living room as she climbed the stairs.

Marianne understood that she was telling her to go to the studio, so she headed in that direction and stopped, hand on the knob, wondering what that guy might be doing, but didn’t hear a thing inside. She opened the door and saw him standing in front of one of the bookcases upholstered with books from wall to wall. He did nothing, didn’t even attempt to take one, only watched them as if he had never seen so many books together in his life.

“…What’s the matter? You didn’t have anything else to focus on and finally noticed the books?” Marianne commented, leaving her bag over the table and he turned to her with his expressionless eyes amplified by those thick-framed glasses that took up half his face. “…It’s a joke. Seriously, have a little sense of humor.”

She sat down and pulled out her laptop while the boy stepped away from the books and returned to the seat where his heavy backpack rested. He rummaged inside, taking out a notepad and a worn-out pencil, and quickly turned the pages with notations in the margins until finding a blank page.

“…What’s all that stuff you carry there? It’s like you’re going hiking or something,” Marianne said, but the guy didn’t answer, just kept his pencil fixed on the paper as if she had cut his inspiration. “…Forget it. Not that I’m interested in whatever you got there.”

She turned to her laptop and searched for their investigation file when she heard the sound of rummaging next to her.

“…Books,” Dreyson said all of a sudden.

She turned to him and saw that he had opened his backpack to show its contents. It had several thick worn looking books stacked inside, making it look like it was full of rocks. For a moment she intended to take one out of sheer curiosity, but then decided it would be too much.

“So, you’re a bookworm after all, who would have thought? You never pay attention to class.”

Dreyson closed the bag again without replying to her comment and she decided to focus on her screen. Then he spoke again.

“Your brother didn’t jump into the water,” Marianne left her hand freezed over the keyboard and turned again. “Some kids pushed him. I saw it.”

“Were they by any chance three kids taller than him? One fat, one tall with brush-like hair, and the last with crooked teeth.”

“They were the same he was with last week.”

“I knew it!” she said, settling her fists on the table forcefully. “I knew they were bullying him! Why would he be covering them up? Sometimes I just want to shake him up to see if he comes to his senses!” Realizing she was displaying her anger in front of him, she cleared her throat and tried to look composed. “…Thanks for the info, I’ll see what I can do.”

The guy just nodded and looked back at his notebook, his hand still holding the pencil. She tried to think of a way to give something back when they heard footsteps approaching the studio.

“…A little advice I hope you take this time: don’t stare at her. Seriously, she hates it, and let alone touching her hair, in case her reaction last time wasn’t clear enough,” she whispered before the steps stopped at the door. “I doubt you’ll get something that way, but at least you’ll no longer give that ‘serial killer watching for its next victim’ kind of vibe.”

The door opened and she straightened up in her seat as both girls came in and took the front seats.

“I’m so glad that you were able to come so we can set our specific role in tomorrow’s exposition!” Vicky said, placing her hands on the table as if presiding over a debate. “According to what we agreed on last week, Addalynn took over most of the research, Marianne made the slides, I’ll expose the subject and Dreyson…will roll the slides during the exposition; is there any doubt?”

There was silence for a few seconds until Dreyson raised his hand like any student in the middle of a class.

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“It’s… it’s easy. You just sit in front of the monitor and go through the slides with the keyboard,” Vicky explained, pointing at the laptop, but the boy remained impassive.

“I’ve never used one of those,” he said and Vicky looked at Marianne with a desperate expression.

“…Okay. I’ll explain,” Marianne said as if she had no choice.

By his chronically blank gesture there was no way of knowing whether he was really paying attention or at least understanding her explanation, so they decided to do an exposition rehearsal. There was a projector hanging from the ceiling of the studio, pointing towards one of the bookcases, and the projection canvas unrolled in front of it. They turned off the lights, and while Vicky stood on one side of the canvas, Marianne instructed Dreyson. It didn’t take a lot of minutes to find out that he had really understood, so they could fast forward with both the rehearsal and the finishing touches.

“Well, I think this meeting turned out much better than I expected,” Vicky said, feeling relieved that things had not taken a turn for the worst like the last time.

Marianne kept her laptop and Dreyson was again in front of the bookcases, watching the huge collection of books.

“Well, yeah, at least he didn’t stare at Addalynn and even was fit to participate. Don’t thank me.”

“Ah, you talked to him then! What did you tell him to make him act so properly?” Vicky asked as discreetly as possible.

“Nothing out of the ordinary, just the harsh truth,” Marianne said with a shrug and Addalynn lay down her cellphone and looked at them with an air of condemn.

“It’s not right to speak of other people behind their back,” she berated them with narrowed eyes.

“Come on, you must admit that at least he didn’t bother you this time; wasn’t that what you wanted?” Vicky said, taking it lightly, but Addalynn just stood up and walked away without a response. Dreyson looked askance at her while Marianne gave a look at Vicky as if they had talked too much. “…Don’t worry about her, sometimes she’s just too much.”

“How did you meet?” Marianne asked. Vicky hesitated and then smiled mysteriously.

“…It’s a long story. I’ll just say that it has to do with Lissen Rox.”

Marianne raised an eyebrow at her oddly vague answer and Vicky now focused on Dreyson, still standing in front of the bookcase.

“You can take one if you want. We have lots of books, one won’t be missed.”

Dreyson turned to them, and contrary to their expectations, he returned to the table, yanked his backpack and rushed out of there.

“…What happened? Did I say something wrong? I don’t remember saying anything potentially offensive, do you?”

Marianne shrugged just as confused as her. She didn’t think that she had said anything wrong either, but she couldn’t tell what that guy was thinking.

“I should get going, but before I do… is Demian home?”

“He is, but I don’t think he’s feeling well.”

“I just need to ask him a few questions,” Marianne said, trying to hide her concern.

“Okay, just wait here!” Vicky ran immediately to Demian’s room and knocked on the door. “Open up, brother! It’s urgent!”

She heard the sound of footsteps approaching the door and Demian opened with a worried expression.

“Did something happen?”

“Nothing, I just wanted to make sure you opened the door,” she said, sticking her tongue out teasingly. He just rolled his eyes and was about to close again, but she stopped the door. “We just finished team work. Marianne is about to leave but wants to talk to you first. She’s in the studio.”

     Demian twisted his eyebrows in surprise and walked towards the stairs without saying a thing.

“Would you want me to leave you two alone?” Vicky said, swaying on her feet while raising her eyebrows with a meaningful smile.

“…Whatever,” he replied curtly, unencumbered by her teasing. If Mitchell didn’t get to him, she wouldn’t either.

He went down quietly, leaving his sister behind, and stopped at the door a little restless, wondering what Marianne would want to talk to him. When he opened, she was standing in front of the bookcases, carefully watching some of the titles and then returning them to their place.

“You wanted to talk to me?”

Marianne jolted and quickly put back the book she was holding, as if been caught doing something wrong.

“…I didn’t know your family was interested in world’s religions and their cosmogony,” Marianne said, stepping away from the bookcase.

“That was my mother’s bookshelf,” he replied. “Each of us had one of their own to fill it up with our own interests.” He gestured with his head to the next bookcase. “Vicky’s full with fairy tales and children’s books while Dad’s full with business books.”

“What kind of books will I find in yours?”

Demian smiled and looked at the bookshelf on the back wall.

“Why don’t you see it for yourself?”

Marianne seemed hesitant until she finally decided to cross the room and picked a random book.

The Oddisey,” she read aloud, putting the book back on the shelf and taking another to repeat the process. “… Crime and punishment, Les Miserables, The divine comedy. They’re classics. Have you read them all?”

“Most of them, yes,” he replied while Marianne continued browsing through the books.

“…This is on the other side too,” she said, taking one of the books. “… Paradise lost.”

Demian paused for a few seconds, his face getting somber; memories of his mother began to flood through him and quickly tried to push them away.

“…When I was a child, my mother and I always had the argument over whether that book should be in my shelf or hers,” Demian replied, trying to sound nonchalant. “Usually, she won and placed it in her bookcase, but soon I would secretly take it back to mine. In the end, she decided to get another copy so we both would have the book in our own shelves.”

Marianne turned the pages of the book with a brooding expression and Demian huffed a bitter laugh.

“…You must be thinking now that it should have stayed at the other end given the current circumstances.”

“No, I don’t…” Marianne stopped once she understood what his words implied. His father was the original demon who had formed the Legion of Darkness and by extension, his own heritage. She left the book in its place and decided to act as if it didn’t matter. “… Everyone has their own beliefs.”

“What did you want to talk to me?”

“I just… wanted to ask how Lester’s doing. You went to see him, right?”

Demian slightly frowned, thinking it was weird for her to only ask that.

“He’ll be fine. He just… will be off game for a couple of months.”

“It was a strange accident,” she continued with a casual tone, but Demian could already guess where she was heading.

“Why don’t you ask what you really want to know?”

Marianne took a deep breath, trying to think how to formulate the question without thinking she was accusing him of something, but soon realized that no matter how she said it, the result would be the same; the doubt would still be hovering around.

“…Did you do it?”

Demian’s face darkened and she could almost see his disappointment that, out of everyone, it was precisely her who would ask that. She immediately regretted her question, but she didn’t expect his response.

“…Yes, I did,” he admitted. “I wasn’t sure if it would work, but once you said that about making up an injury, I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I ended up casting a shadow towards him that grabbed his foot and made him fall.”

Marianne watched him bewildered; now she felt guilty that she was the one to give him the idea. Perceiving her distraught, Demian looked away, feeling ashamed.

“…If it’s worth anything, I’m not proud of what I did. I was aiming for a strain just to keep him out of the display, but I didn’t expect he would fall so hard and broke his bone. I just wanted… to avoid him the same humiliation from the last time.”

Marianne tried to think of what to do with that information. If Frank were to find out about it, he wouldn’t stop saying ‘I told you so’ and Samael would certainly not approve it, even if he already suspected it.

“…Samuel can heal wounds,” she suddenly said. “Maybe he can do something.”

Demian didn’t like the idea of the angel having to intervene to fix his mistake, as if they would stick to their own stereotypes: the demon that creates problems and the angel who solves them. He didn’t want to fall into the role he allegedly belonged to by birth, but aware that he had no better option at the moment, he finally agreed.

“He should be back at school tomorrow. Maybe we can find him alone.”

“He won’t even notice what happened,” Marianne said to boost his confidence. “Once he repairs the bone, he can make sure he forgets we were even there.”

“…Does he do it often?”

“He’s done it a couple of times and it’s been fine, don’t worry about it.”

“I mean if he has done it to any of you.”

“…Oh, no. He would never do it without our consent.”

“How can you be so sure? You wouldn’t remember anyway.”

Marianne kept silent and looked at him, as if trying to find some hidden meaning behind his words, but he remained expressionless.

“…I just know,” she replied, trying to discard any doubt he would have raised. His face tensed a little, realizing the way he had been questioning her and tried to relax.

“…Okay. It’s decided then.”

Marianne’s phone rang and she lifted it to see the screen, though he could get an idea of who it was.

“…I guess he’s coming for you, so I won’t distract you anymore. See you,” he said curtly, leaving the studio without waiting for her response.

He went to his room, feeling the effervescence that announced he was about to have one of his ‘demonic episodes’. He thought to have finally left them behind from those early days post-fight, but for some reason since school had started again, he was feeling it more often. It was as if his demon essence would ignite inside of him, struggling to get out; a sort of rising tide under the influence of the moon, just that until now he had failed to identify his own ‘moon’. Perhaps it was the smoke demon’s presence. Since the first day of school, he had felt anxious until showing up at the gym, and had felt the same several times so far. However, the shadow wasn’t even present… at least that he was aware of. What if he was hovering nearby in search of him, and he ended up attracting it because of his inability to control the flow of power running inside him?

He leaned out the window and saw her sister at the gate, talking lively to the angel while Marianne approached them. They were about to leave, but first she looked directly at his window and waved off. Demian seemed hesitant before responding with a similar gesture, trying to smile back, but once they left, he stepped away from the window. He couldn’t go on like that; he needed to lighten up and there was only one way to do it.

He disappeared, amid a cloud of black smoke.


“…He admitted it,” Marianne said as they walked back home. Samael glanced at her without saying anything. “… But he wasn’t trying to seriously hurt him, nor expect him to end up with a broken bone, just wanted him off the display. Do you think you could use your healing power with him?”

“I can certainly try,” he said after a sigh, as if already expecting that request.

“Thank you. It will be as if nothing happened; it was a miscalculation on his part.” Samael just gave her a quizzical glance, as if not even she believed that. “…It was! And don’t say anything to Frank; we already know how he will take it.”

He would definitely take it as another reason to keep their promise to kill him off, Samael thought. But who could blame him? Perhaps Demian’s own fears of being unable to resist their influence wasn’t unfounded after all. Perhaps they were already exerting their power over him from the moment they left their owners’ bodies. Of course, it was a conjecture, but he couldn’t just discard them. Not when their lives were at stake again.

“…Have you ever erased or modified the memory of any of us?” Marianne suddenly asked, and Samael looked at her, frowning with confusion.

“…What? Why you ask me that?”

“I just… I don’t know. I was just wondering if you’ve ever been curious to do so; just to prove you could do it since you already have access to our minds.”

“Well, no,” he replied firmly. “From the first time you asked me to do it, I told you I wasn’t comfortable with the idea and haven’t tried it again after the police officer. It’s unpleasant to destroy someone else’s memories.”

“So, you’d never think to do it to any of us?”

“Of course not!” Samael answered, offended by the question.

“All right then. Say no more,” she said with a relieved expression though Samael didn’t seem willing to let it go.

“What’s this all about? Are you afraid I might be using my powers with you?”

“No, not at all. It was a simple question,” Marianne said dismissively and continued on her way casually.

However, Samael didn’t take it lightly; that doubt couldn’t simply have been raised without someone else already getting it into her head, and all signs pointed to Demian. He didn’t understand what his end game was; one day he asked him for help and the other made Marianne doubt about him. Perhaps he should be more careful around him.


It was already past midnight when Demian came back to his room. He felt more relaxed and clear-headed, his thoughts now focused on a single goal. He got out without even looking at the time and headed to Addalynn’s room. He knocked on the door and gave her enough time to open or respond in some way, after which he knocked again. He was about to do it a third time when the door opened and Addalynn peeked out and stared at him.

“This is no time to be knocking on a girl’s room.”

Demian blinked for a moment and glanced at the clock on the background. It was already 12:30.

“…Sorry. I didn’t notice the time. I just need to ask you a question and I’ll let you rest,” he said, unwilling to overlook the reason that had brought him there. Addalynn leaned on the door frame, folded her arms and waited for him to speak “…The guy I followed at the hospital; you say you saw it… Could you describe him?”

She briefly squinted and nodded.

“…Black hair, black eyes, pale skin with no visible marks, wearing a long black coat. Too monochromatic for my taste. Long-stylized body,” she described accurately and Demian felt a rush of relief running through him. She had truly seen it; he wasn’t imagining it or was the only one who could see it.

“Any idea where he came from?”

“That’s another question. You said it would be just one,” she replied, raising her eyebrows, and Demian kept silent, aware that he was probably pushing too far, but she unfolded her arms and straightened up again. “…I just saw what you saw, what’s so special about it?”

“Do you really… not even have a clue? Have you ever seen… anyone else that reminds you of that guy? Didn’t he seem strange to you?”

Addalynn seemed to think about it for a moment and then shrugged.

“…Not more than you.”

Demian’s face strained at her words, trying to detect their intention, but before he could say anything, his sister interrupted.

“What are you doing up at this time of the night?” Vicky was out of her room, rubbing her eyes sleepily. “…Why are you standing in front of Addalynn’s room?”

“I was just talking to…” he turned to the room and realized the door was already closed. She had used the distraction to evade him.

“Where have you been? You didn’t come down for dinner and weren’t in your room either.”

“I went… for a walk. That’s it. Go to sleep now,” he concluded, deciding to leave it for now. Vicky scowled in puzzlement, but she was so sleepy that went back to her room.

Demian felt uneasy. On one hand, it was a relief to confirm Addalynn had actually seen the obit… but on the other, her enigmatic answers only increased his confusion.

Unable to sleep, he just walked around the room until he stopped in front of the window and watched the garden and surroundings. It was a peaceful and windless night, but anxiety had settled inside him. Not the same that flooded him hours before and forced him to go searching for a way to vent. This was more like a primitive instinct telling him something was happening in the city but had no way of knowing what or where.

He touched his wrist by inertia and started to scratch it. When he realized, it was already red, but what caught his attention was that the once incipient scar from the cut of his wrist seemed a little swollen. He quickly pulled away his hand to stop scratching and make it worse. Maybe some ointment would be enough to reduce the swelling.

He stepped away from the window and decided that was enough for the day; he would try to get some sleep and get more answers from Addalynn later. The sleeping pills hadn’t failed so far to keep him from a night ridden with nightmares and disturbing memories, so he took one and just lay on the bed, waiting for it to take effect.

Sleep finally came, releasing him from all anxiety.


Lucianne went out of her house intending to take a bus since her father had to leave earlier, but when she opened the door and saw Officer Perry’s car parked in the front yard, with him waiting for her, she knew immediately that her father was not unly still determined to keep an eye on her and control her movements, but also that it would be an uncomfortable ride.

“Miss Lucianne,” he formally greeted with a nod.

“…Perry,” she replied, imitating the gesture with an attempt to smile, though it didn’t come out naturally. At least not like before. The boy opened the passenger door, and she had no choice but to get in the car. “So… my father decided that it’s more important taking me to school in time than protecting the city against crime.” She tried to joke to lighten the mood and Officer Perry looked at her for a few seconds until a little smile appeared in his face, but still didn’t say a word. He just started the car and drove. Lucianne sighed and decided to look out the window.

Although she had apologized to Perry and had done everything to save their friendship after the things she said while lacking the gift, the gap between them was still there, and she was starting to accept that it wouldn’t close despite her efforts. She had hurt him, and unlike her friends, he didn’t know that it had been for reasons beyond her. Her giftless self had not acted like she would or even like she really felt, jut like a magnified and twisted version of her. However, she couldn’t explain that to him, not that way; the only thing she could tell him was that she had a personality disorder fit just like her father had, and maybe it was hereditary. It partly worked, he seemed to have bought it; however, he now acted all formal around her, not showing his feelings anymore out of fear of being hurt again and she understood that, but she still missed her old friend.

“Thanks for the ride.”

“You’re welcome, miss Lucianne.” He knew how much she disliked being called that, but she didn’t bother to correct him anymore. She took her bag and opened the door.

“Tell my father that, since he likes exploiting you at his convenience, he should give you that promotion he’s been promising long ago,” she finished, adjusting her bag, and then realized that the officer was looking at the school gate. She peered out the window and saw Frank standing there, staring at the car.

“…I’ll remind him,” the young officer finally said, offering a dry smile, choosing to ignore the fact that Frank was practically murdering him with his eyes. Lucianne sighed and left the car, but just before she closed the door, Perry leaned at the window. “… Be careful, Miss Lucianne. There’s a masked guy that’s been attacking students lately. They say it’s probably another boy with anger issues.”

He didn’t need to say anything else for her to understand the implicit message behind his words, his expression said it all: he was still wary of Frank. She closed the door and the car drove away while she watched it go, until it was out of her sight.

“Why did that guy bring you? Is he going to be following you everywhere again, pretending to be taking care of you?”

Lucianne scowled and gave him a look of censure.

“He was just kind enough to bring me to school. Also, you don’t have the right to say anything when you’ve been avoiding everyone lately, including me,” she replied reproachfully and he just kept quiet, twisting his mouth as if holding back, which she interpreted as a sign of his bad temper about to emerge, but he just took a breath and closed his eyes.

“…I’m sorry. I’ve had some things in my mind lately and I need to deal with them by myself. Things from my past, you know. But I think I can try to relax a little.”

“With ‘things from your past’ you mean a while back or…” she inquired, trying not to seem intrusive on that subject, and Frank huffed after understanding what she meant.

“Well, I think we both know that as far as my ‘other life’ goes, it’s all gone with the gift now. It was useless anyway; I never got more than a feeling of déjà vu and dreams that made no sense,” he replied in a tone of contempt. “… I wish it was just that, it would be easier to blame something else for that.”

Lucianne waited for him to continue, but Frank simply let out a sigh and started to walk to the school.

“…Let’s go.”

Lucianne followed him, puzzled at his secrecy, but decided not to question him for now. Frank had said nothing for several minutes after they sat in their classroom and suddenly turned to her.

“…You’re right; I’ve been avoiding you all. I have my reasons, but perhaps we can talk about one of them later.”

She nodded and smiled, aware of how difficult it was for him to talk about it, but at least he was still willing to do so.

“…Or maybe we could talk now. Our Biology teacher is still sick, apparently; maybe he’s not coming today either,” Lucianne suggested, and Frank tilted his head, undecided, but before he could talk, the door flew open and a man entered, stopping in front of the blackboard and starting to write in it.

“Don’t even bother to stand up, there’s no time for that. This class is long overdue, and we have much to do,” said the man without a single pause. “I’m Dr. Leiffson and I will be your new Biology teacher. Don’t talk, don’t interrupt, don’t even breath while I’m speaking until I allow it, is that clear?” He turned on his heels after writing his name on the board and looked around until stopping on Frank. There was a flash of recognition in his eyes and a crooked smile formed on his lips. “…Well, look at this. A familiar face in the audience.”

Lucianne turned to Frank and realized he was tense as a bow and had that glint in his eye that announced a storm. The teacher leaned forward to say something exclusively directed at him with a condescending smile.

“…I just hope you don’t take my choice of words as literal this time, okay?”

With a shrill squeak of his chair, Frank suddenly jumped up, his jaw so clenched, every single muscle in his neck was noticeable. The silence of anticipation around the classroom was only interrupted by the boy’s heavy breathing; no one dared to move, and yet the man remained unflinhching in his place as if expecting him to make a move. And then, abruptly, Frank stormed out of there, slamming the door on his way out. Lucianne tried to get up to follow him, but the new teacher made a very clear sign with his hand to stay where she was.

“Don’t even think about it; whoever leaves my class will not be allowed to enter again an entire week, so you better think twice before doing that. Now let’s start with the class…”

Lucianne sank into her seat, struggling not to go after Frank and wondering what had gotten into him. All she knew was that she remembered this new teacher as the man talking to her father on Friday’s meeting.


The classroom was completely dark with only the light of the projector pointing to the screen and Vicky in full exposition mode while Dreyson remained at the bottom, passing the slides as they had shown him to. Marianne didn’t lose sight of him in case there was a problem, but everything turned out just fine. When the exposition ended, she approached the desk with the projector and her laptop, about to be disconnected by Dreyson.

“Don’t do it, leave it that way. My friends are next, they’re gonna use it too,” she warned him, and he plugged it in again. “I won’t say you did a splendid job just by passing some slides, but at least you did your part and that’s appreciated.”

The boy looked up from his position and although imperceptible, Marianne could spot a slight crooked smile. She figured he just needed some confidence and guidance to stop acting like and oddball, so she gave a nod in response.

“What’s going on here? Have you given him permission to officially stalk you? Don’t complain later when he’s bothering you again,” Kristania suddenly appeared beside the desk with an usb in hand, beckoning Dreyson to get off the seat while he just gave her a stern look.

“You can’t say something like that so lightly!” Marianne protested, incensed by her malicious words, even though it was more like her than she had been showing lately. “Last week was a misunderstanding, everyone can make a mistake! Isn’t that what you ‘learned’ last semester?”

“…Oh, relax. I was just kidding,” Kristania replied, laughing as if she had said some funny and trifling thing. “Don’t take it so seriously. Sometimes I’m a little blunt, that’s all.”

Marianne didn’t fell for it, not her words nor her attempt to make it like an innocent pun; she knew it was a slip. The true Kristania had come out and now was trying to wear her mask again, the one she’d been using lately. She wouldn’t be able to keep it for a long time, that was for sure. She would fall into old habits and eventually crack under pressure. And she would be there to witness and even enjoy it.

Dreyson finally got up and walked to his own seat in silence while Marianne smiled at Kristania, pointing at the chair.

“All yours. Good luck with your exposition.”

“Thanks; yours was magnificent,” she smiled back, as if instead of exchanging compliments they were cursing each other.

“Would any of you be interested in joining a new club that we just created?” Vicky asked later when club hunting started. “We’ll organize events and even have projects to open fan clubs for all ages! The first one will be devoted to Lissen Rox, of course. The idea is to license the club officially so when his tour comes here, we’ll all have privileges and exclusive access to him.”

“…It sounds interesting, but I have already subscribed to another club besides the one I’m already in; I’m afraid I won’t have spare time if I join one more,” Marianne excused herself, so Vicky looked now hopefully at Angie and Belgina, but they just babbled, trying to find some effective excuse. Marianne suddenly felt someone touching her back, and when she turned around, she saw her brother looking nervous, almost hiding behind her. “…Oh, it’s you. What do you want?”

Loui stole a glance at Vicky and then looked down at the floor as he pulled something from behind him, taking a few awkward steps forward.

“…Th-Thanks,” he managed to say with a stutter, timidly lifting the coat Vicky had given him the day before.

“Ohhh, it was nothing, seriously,” she bent over to get to his height and smiled candidly. “Just be more careful next time, okay?”

Loui’s face turned red and after a violent shake of his head, he ran away without saying a word.

“I hope I didn’t say anything to upset him,” Vicky said, thinking she may have driven him away.

“Don’t worry, I doubt that’s the case,” Marianne replied, lifting an eyebrow.

They were heading to the first club of the day, Gymnastics. Marianne sat down in the stands beside Belgina and looked cautiously at her.

“…All right; I think we should talk.” Belgina looked down and Marianne feared she would recoil; however, she sighed and looked back at her with a nod. “… Tell me, please, if I’ve done or said anything to hurt you. You know I sometimes do things that I consider the best for others without thinking about their opinion first. If that was the case this time, I’m sorry. But I need you to say something, so I know when to shut up next time.”

“…Please, don’t torment yourself. You had a point. I chicken out in situations I don’t feel able to handle at the moment… and it’s true, that’s what I’ve been doing all this time with Mitchell. It’s just that now… I don’t know how to break this self-imposed behavior.”

Marianne looked at her with a lost stare, trying to recall her exact words.

“Is this for what I said about our team dynamics being affected by this situation?”

“…And I think you’re right about that too,” Belgina replied while Marianne seemed even more addled.

Samael then appeared and the girls snuggled to let him sit in the corner next to Belgina.

“Where were you?” Marianne asked. The exhibition was just beginning, and although some routines required silence, some whispers were still heard.

“Mitchell distracted me,” Samael answered and Belgina immediately stiffened.

“So, he’s back at school, huh? Did he give some lame excuse for his absence?”

Samael glanced at Belgina, weighing her reaction.

“…Actually, he asked me to say something to Belgina,” he said carefully, and she felt her stomach twisting.

“You’re now his messenger, huh?” Marianne snorted. “Well, tell Mitchell to leave his stupid drama behind and give her some space or…”

“All right,” Belgina interrupted, taking a deep breath. “…You can tell me.”

Samael seemed to meditate for a few seconds until finally finding the words.

“He says that if it makes you feel better, he’s willing to stay away from you on team meetings,” Samael said with a straight face, as if trying to remember every word. “He now understands that perhaps overlooking some things, like the fact that you lacked the gift, had real influence in your behavior, even when he didn’t see it that way. All he wants is a new chance to get close to you as friends, and he’ll wait all the time you need. Doesn’t want you to feel pressured.”

Belgina listened and pondered on his words. Marianne didn’t dare to express her opinion and Samael fell back into his seat, feeling uncomfortable.

“I think… I can do that,” she finally said, and Samael stood up immediately.

“Okay, I’ll go tell him.”

“Hey, Samuel! Are you leaving so soon? Won’t you stay for the exhibition?” Vicky said louder than she should, making one of the girls lose her concentration and slip before jumping on the rack, so she sat down again, feeling embarrassed.

“…Hey, have you been able to talk to Frank as you said you would?” Lucianne asked, sneaking from her seat, and reaching Samael before he left.

“Hmmm… not yet, but I will as soon as I see him,” he said, apparently in a rush.

Lucianne returned confused to her seat and shrugged at her friends’ inquisitive eyes.


Frank had taken refuge behind the gym since he had stormed out of class. He did the only thing he could to try to calm down: smoke. He was aware that his violent exit would lead to problems, but since that man was his new Biology teacher, he thought he was already in trouble, anyway. Just picturing him, the way he had smiled condescendingly at him, made him tense again. It had been a mistake he would never let go. Why did he have to show up right here and right now? A new wave of anger ran all over him and had to punch the ground, causing the earth to stir like a slight quake.

“So, you’re still here.”

Franked jumped up and saw Samael peeking at the corner. He snorted and took his cigarette back to his mouth.

“…What do you want, wings? Were you spying on me or what? How did you know I was here?”

“I saw you from my seat through the window,” Samael replied, pointing to one of the upper stories of the building, where the windows were open and faced right in front of the gym.

“…And here I thought I would have some privacy, at least,” Frank grunted, giving one last drag to his cigarette and then throwing it to the ground with a stomp

“Is there something bothering you?” Samael asked, raising Frank’s suspicion.

“…Why are you so interested all of a sudden? When did you become the guide for lost causes?”

“Lucianne asked me to talk to you; she seems very concerned,” Samael answered, and Frank let out another huff that sounded like a neigh.

“…Of course, what other reason would anyone have to take an interest in what I think or happens to me unless it’s a favor?” Frank said, rolling his eyes and leaning back against the wall as he pulled out another cigarette out of his pocket. Samael said nothing, just stood beside him and leaned against the wall, imitating him. “You don’t have to stay here; you can tell Lucianne that you talked to me and that I just had a tantrum or something, I’ll be fine. There are things I’d rather not talk to anyone.”

“I understand that. Perhaps you’d rather talk about something that concerns both of us more directly.”

“…I see,” Frank snapped with a crooked smile while cupping his hands to light his cigar. “So, Demon Boy already talked to you.”

“I promised I would do what I thought necessary,” said the angel, choosing his words to avoid giving the impression of completely agreeing with the idea of killing in cold blood.

“So, Grumpy brainwashed you and she’s finally convinced you that demons also have a heart,” Frank scoffed. Samael shifted in his place a little uncomfortable and let out a breath.

“…I think the real problem is that he seems resigned to whatever happens if the gifts are reunited again. Maybe if we tell Marianne, she could…”

“Forget it. If she finds out about our plans, she won’t mind if he was the one who suggested it, she won’t leave us alone for agreeing on it. She’ll surely resort to the others for support and we’ll look like savages who only think to kill whoever poses a latent threat to anyone.”

“…I haven’t said anything about killing. I only agreed to do what I think convenient,” said the angel, sighing with exhaustion.

“Well, get used to the idea, wings, because this isn’t something that will be solved with three months in rehab.”

Samael decided he didn’t want to continue with the discussion and pulled away from the wall.

“…I think I better go find the others,” he said, starting to retrace his steps. “…You should stop hiding from the rest. You’re not the only one with problems.”

Frank huffed through his nose in response while the angel walked around the building, and after looking at the club schedule, he entered the gym where the girls beckoned him from the stands.

“What happened? Did you forget anything?” Marianne asked after making room for him.


“Good to have you back! You didn’t take long!” Vicky said, lifting her head.

“Did you see Mitchell out there?” Marianne asked again, and he kept that confused expression until apparently remembering something.

“…Oh, he asked me to say something to Belgina,” he said, turning now towards her.

“More? Wasn’t it enough already?” Marianne replied. “He’s really lucky you are a good friend with such a good memory. He isn’t hiding out there, is he?”

“Leave it that way,” Belgina said with a resigned sigh, looking back at Samael. “…Go on, what else did he ask you to tell me?”

Samael remained silent until he shook his head.

“…Nothing important,” he said, and she turned her attention to the gymnasts, feeling a little relieved. Samael seemed puzzled on the other hand. He could be a little oblivious of certain things, but he was sure that he had not come down to the gym up until now.


Frank stayed behind the gym with his head tilted slightly forward in a brooding gesture when the sound of steps in the distance caught his attention. He glanced quickly in that direction and saw Samael at the other end, holding on the wall as if trying to keep his balance, bending forward, and clutching his stomach with the other hand. Frank scowled and looked to the opposite side where he had seen him leave just a few minutes ago.

“…Hey, wings! Did you just go around the whole building or you got lost?” Frank said aloud, but Samael only pushed himself off the wall and staggered away, towards the exit near the bus stop. His body kept bending and quivering like a rag doll; his steps were unsteady, and he seemed less and less able to stay up until he stopped in front of a tree a few feet from the fence, his body arched and finally collapsed on the bushes.

Frank immediately ran towards him and slowed down to a sudden stop when he reached the tree, looking dumbfounded at what was in front of him. Samael’s skin seemed covered in welts while his body shook feverishly. The welts were starting to distort his face, and his entire body began to change, like the color of his hair, going from platinum blond to a darker brown. The rash eventually receded, leaving his skin smooth again yet more tanned than before.

“What the…?” Frank was unable to finish his sentence because he couldn’t grasp yet that the boy in front of him wasn’t Samael anymore, but the exhausted and semi unconscious body of his cousin, Mitchell.