Dazriel curled up into a ball and sobbed. His whole being ached and the rips in his flesh stung from the rain washing down on him. The Angel curled up tighter, pulling the remains of his cloths closer.
Their voices still rang in his ears, mocking him. Harsh and loud and Dazriel sunk deeper within himself. He shivered as the rain began to fall harder. Gods he hurt, he could feel his skin twitching like a racehorse’s from the sparks of pain charged over his nerves. The muscles in his side were cramping and he shifted slightly, freezing as pain flashed bright white across his eyelids.
Something touched his back, right on a painful spot and Dazriel jerked away with a cry. Green eyes shot open, coming to rest on his clenched fist. Water ran down it, dripping off his knuckles in tracks of watery gold. Behind him Rai gave a small whimper. Even closing his eyes hurt. The Angel could feel more sobs building within his chest. Dazriel clenched his jaw on them; he wasn’t going to cry out. He was going to be brave…like Malachi was.
Malachi… he’d forgotten about the Daemon. His bonded would probably be worried about him. He had good reason to be, look at him now. A soggy bundle of torn flesh and broken limbs, all because he couldn’t mind his own business. He should have just walked right on by. He couldn’t of though, even if he’d known how they’d react, he’d still of interfered. You had to smile at the irony though; the man would probably just beat his horse harder to spite him.
He rolled onto his back carefully and gazed up at the sky. Rain splashed onto his face, cooling his flushed face and hiding the tears spilling from his eyes. He sighed slightly and retreated inwards.
Warm light reached up to meet him and Dazriel sunk into it happily. The light washed away the pain bringing peace in its wake. Warning bells rang in the back of his head. The Angel ignored them; it was almost too easy to do. No pain in here, no fear.
“Dazriel?” The light shivered, faded for a moment then steadied. The voice wasn’t worth responding to. He curled in tighter, Rai’s whining filled his ears but it seemed far off and the Angel dismissed it carelessly.
“Dazriel!” The voice was louder now; strong hands met his flesh and uncurled him gently. The light flashed briefly and then faded out. Embers of pain exploded once more into flame and Dazriel cried out.
“Hush Angel, my Angel. Its ok, come back to me Daz. It’s gonna be fine.” The voice struck something deep within him and the Angel opened his eyes. Malachi smiled down at him. His hair plastered to his skull, blue eyes wide and pained. “Don’t leave me Dazriel… I love you too much to lose you now.”
The Angel smiled and even that small gesture brought new pain as his split lip stretched painfully. It was worth it though, just to see the ease of pain in the Daemon’s eyes. Strong arms slid under his knees and back. Dazriel bit back a yelp as Malachi lifted him up. Pain washed over him and he had time to hook his arm around the Daemons neck before unconsciousness swam up to meet him. Cradling him in painless, meaningless dark.
“Dazriel? You still with me?” Malachi’s voice by his ear was nice and he grunted in reply. He still wasn’t sure his voice was working yet. The mattress below him gave at the Daemon’s weight. “I’ve just got to fill the bath ok? We need to get you cleaned up a bit before I see to those cuts.” Another grunt and he pulled his eyes open wincing as eyelashes caught, stuck together with blood and tears.
Two lone candles lit Malachi’s bedroom and the fire burnt down to embers glowed warmly. The Daemon kissed him carefully, just a faint ghosting of lips across his own. He stood up gently and Dazriel followed his movements gingerly. Malachi paused by the fire to rekindle it into flame. A flick of his wrist and the remaining candles in the room burst into flame.
“I’ll be right back ok?” The Daemon smiled at him and slipped out the room. A second later came the soft splash of water and Dazriel relaxed slightly. Malachi made his way over to the bed, a frown marring his face. He paused chewing his lip for a while then nodded to himself. Reaching into the bedside table’s drawer the Daemon lifted out a knife. Dazriel watched him calmly, Malachi wouldn’t hurt him. He wasn’t sure how he knew that, only that he did.
The blade slid through what remained of his cloths and then Malachi picked him up. Peace overwhelmed him as the Daemon carried him into the bathroom.
“Fair warning Dazriel, the waters gonna seem hot, you’re a bloody ice cube right now.” The first splash of water on his skin scalded him and the Angel gasped in pain. “Sorry… sorry!”
“Hmmm…” Now he’d got used to the heat, it was quite pleasant. Muscles no longer screamed bloody murder at their abuse… in fact they seemed to have gone quite mellow. Malachi dribbled water onto his back with the sponge. Then with quick, economical movements designed to hurt as little as possible rubbed it across the Angel’s flesh.
Dazriel watched the bath water staining weak gold with his blood interlaced with streaks of brown mud. His bonded worked so gently the Angel fell into a trance. Lifting a leg from the water at Malachi’s urging, leaning forward when asked, eyes tracing the curls of steam coming off the bath water when the Daemon opened the windows.
“All done now Daz.” Malachi picked him up again gingerly. He deposited Dazriel on the bed and padded over to get a wooden box from the table. The Daemon settled down next to him and Dazriel watched from half closed eyes as he took out a small tube, needle and thread.
“The cream will sting one hell of a lot, stitches won’t be much better and I’m going to have to reset both your arm and leg… you up to that today Daz? The quicker its done the sooner it can heal.”
“Yes” His voice wasn’t much louder then the wind but Malachi heard him, nodding sadly in reply. Dazriel closed his eyes and leaned back.
“I’m going to set the bones first. Open.” Malachi tapped his jaw. Something slid between his teeth. Taste exploded in his mouth and Dazriel cried out pulling away. “Dazriel! Stop that!”
“No.” He turned his head away. He could still taste the leather and it was sending shocks of queasiness through him.
“Oh lords below! Bloody Angel ideas! Fine, you want to make it harder on yourself fine by me! Just don’t you dare bite through your tongue!” Malachi shot from the bed and Dazriel cried out breathlessly from pain and surprise. The Daemon sighed and moved across the room.
“Here, try this instead.” Dazriel opened his mouth and his bonded placed the strip of dragon-wood into his mouth. He closed his mouth around it and the slight pressure dented itself into the soft wood. “That better?”
Dazriel nodded then let his head tilt back as Malachi’s fingers stroked over the bones of his arm.
“Deep breath.” Pain flashed and his vision went bright white then black. A scream ripped from his throat and he clenched down hard on the dragon-wood. Malachi’s hands moved to his leg and pain roared to the surface again as he pulled the bone straight. “All done Dazriel, s’ ok.”
His bonded waited to his breathing had steadied and then with an apologetic smile he picked up the needle and thread.
“You ready?” Dazriel nodded and the Daemon slid the needle into his flesh. The pain wasn’t too bad and the Angel bit down lightly on the wood, eyes fluttering. Malachi’s hands were steady and Dazriel could barely see the stitches as the Daemon worked.
With the worst of his wounds stitched up his bonded picked up the tube from the mattress. The cream was cool and only stung a little and Dazriel found himself getting drowsy again. Malachi pulled the covers over him carefully and then the bed gave as he slid in beside him. Warm breath ruffling his hair slightly the Daemon sang to him softly;
“I have seen the thousand echoes,
Of worlds that can not be,
I have heard the hundred prayers,
Through which me gods do see,
I have hunted with the wolf pack,
Swam deep with the silver fish,
I have watched the ancient king,
In his longing to find bliss,
I have seen the kingdoms fall,
And tumble to the ground,
I have seen the end of stars,
No longer to be found,
But when the night is coming,
My love you need not fear,
No matter what I’m doing,
My heart, I shall be here.”
The Daemon’s voice wasn’t great, well in truth it was terrible. Like gravel over sandpaper, but that didn’t matter. The fact that his bonded was singing for him and him alone, coupled with the carefully soft, fleeting touches on his skin was calming. Dazriel smiled and drifted into sleep, sometimes you just know you’re loved.
The soft swish of fabric on skin woke him and the Angel turned bleary eyes to the door. Delaren smiled at him, placing a finger against his lips. Dazriel nodded slightly and sunk back into the pillows. Beside him Malachi stirred and lifted his head towards the first Daemon.
“Master?” The Daemon asked stifling a yawn. Delaren placed a finger against the centre of Malachi’s forehead.
“Sleep” His bonded’s eyes closed and then his head sank to the pillows slowly. Delaren smiled at him, hand coming to rest on the Angel’s chest. Tingling not unlike pins and needles spread out through his body. The cuts marring his skin closed and he could feel flesh and bone knitting together. Delaren lifted his hand and placed it back down on Dazriel’s head.
“Afternoon.” Malachi’s kiss was sweet, definitely a nice way to wake up. It cut off abruptly though when the Daemon pulled back frowning. “Since when did Angels heal overnight?”
“We don’t.” Dazriel leaned forward placing his lips against Malachi’s murmuring against them. “Two words; De and Laren.”
“Oh…guess that makes sense.” Malachi pulled him closer returning the kiss. It was Dazriel’s turn to pull away frowning.
“Do you think he knows that Delaren means silver child?”
“Probably, Master knows a hell of a lot.” The Daemon kicked the covers off the bed and then stretched out. Dazriel smiled and settled his head down on his bonded’s chest.
“It’s my day off today so how about we go shopping? We’ve got to get you some new clothes… me too for that matter.”
“Sounds good, can we get something to eat first?”
“Sure… you’re gonna have to wear Daemon black though, I don’t have anything in white.” Malachi was playing with his hair, sliding it through his fingers. The Daemon tugged a lock gently lifting Dazriel’s head. “Shall we go now?”
Without waiting for a reply his bonded scrambled from the bed and across the room. He rummaged around in a cupboard for a second.
“Here, put them on.” Dazriel stood and pulled on the pants and shirt obediently. His eyes fell on the thin silver bracelet around his wrist.
“Malachi? This mean anything to you?” He lifted his wrist so the sun caught on the silver. His bonded crossed to him, frowning slightly as he studied the bracelet then grinned.
“Sure do, that’s Delaren’s. Means you owe him something. Oh don’t look so worried.” He added at the Angels look. “Probably only wants you to deliver a letter or something to Kamerl.”
“Oh… shall we go?” Dazriel fidgeted slightly, shifting his weight from foot to foot. The Daemon cocked his head, strong arm snaking around the Angel’s waist pulling him against his body. Malachi dropped a kiss on the tip of his nose then rested his forehead against Dazriel’s.
“All right. Out with it, what’s eating at you Angel?”
“It’s nothing… only; only last night you said don’t leave me…does that mean Daemons can… well die?” One eyebrow arched and Dazriel flushed burying his face in his bonded’s shoulder. He could feel the flesh below him shaking with suppressed laughter. “Quit it!”
“I’m… I’m sorry Daz, its just… oh, you’re, you’re…so cute when, when… oh fuck it.” Malachi burst into laughter.
“Language.” The Angel murmured under his breath, which only seemed to set Malachi off louder. The Daemon staggered backwards landing awkwardly against the bed.
Dazriel crossed his arms and huffed, turning his back on his bonded. A hand curled into his shirt and yanked him back to the bed.
Malachi set on, fingers skittering across his skin as he tickled the Angel. Dazriel gasped and then squealed, laughter bubbling out of him. He twisted and squirmed under the Daemon as Malachi straddled his hips, still in hysterics himself.
“Get, get off! Ohhh… I’m, I’m serious Mal… Malachi! Get… get off of m… mee!” Malachi smiled and propped his chin up on a hand, blue eyes warm with amusement.
“Um… no. I’m quite happy up here so I’ll stay if it’s quite all right with you pet. Besides, I haven’t answered your question yet have I?”
“Oh… guess not”
“Guess? What do you mean guess? Erg… forget it, as to your question. No, Daemons don’t die, just like Angels don’t.” Malachi shifted, “I’ve just… well kind of picked up a few human habits.” The Daemon rolled off the bed.
“We going now?” Dazriel asked climbing off the bed. Malachi paused at the door for him to catch up.
“Yeah Angel, we’re going now.”
Dazriel gave a small mewl of pleasure and swallowed the chunk of carrot. On the other side of the table Malachi watched him perplexed.
“Good I take it?”
“Hmm…” The Angel smiled at him and took another bite of the carrot, half purring at the taste. His bonded half squeaked, half groaned and Dazriel looked up. The Daemon sat stiffly, transfixed, his own food forgotten. The Angel grinned and sucked clean a finger producing another moan from Malachi.
“You want some? It’s real good.” Dazriel offered him the carrot but the Daemon shook his head.
“Nah.” The first word came out as a squeak. “No taste and carrots are too crunchy for me.”
Dazriel shrugged and went back to washing his hands with tiny cat licks. Malachi groaned and reached across the table to clench his fist in the Angel’s shirt. He crushed his lips against Dazriel’s and the Angel opened under him.
Catcalls and whistles filled the air of the tavern but his bonded chose to ignore them in favour of what seemed to be an attempt to suck the Angel’s soul from him orally. Dazriel groaned and leaned into the Daemon.
Malachi’s hands lifted his shirt slightly so he could slide his hands over the skin of the Angels back. The Daemon broke from the kiss and Dazriel sucked in air greedily.
“Lords below, your skin is so damn soft. Feels better then silk.” Malachi leaned forward to drop a soft kiss on his jaw before pulling away. “Shall we go? We’ve still got to get you some clothes and then I’ve got something in mind.”
“Sure.” Dazriel replied still breathless. Malachi stood and led him out of the tavern. The Angel grinned shyly at the Daemons slapping him on the back so Malachi wouldn’t see. Dazriel followed his bonded out into the street, pausing to blink owlishly in the sudden light after the dinginess of the tavern.
Malachi grabbed his hand, pulling the Angel after him. Dazriel smiled and followed him happily. The Daemon seemed younger as they walked. He’d gained an extra bounce. Every now and again he’d turn his head, flashing the Angel bright smiles. His blue eyes shone with glee and a darkness that Dazriel had noticed before had left them.
“Do you like shopping, Malachi?” He asked catching up with his bonded and curling against him. Malachi glanced down at him.
“More like I like not having any responsibilities.” He cocked his head ever so slightly as Dazriel wove the one lock of long black hair around his fingers.
“You’re like me in that way. I love Kamerl but I do hate the responsibility that comes with being his chosen.”
Malachi stopped, turning Dazriel until the Angel faced him. His eyes we’re dark and haunted. The Angel swallowed nervously.
“Dazriel…” Malachi’s eyes flickered down and then up again to lock with his. “Daz, last night. Why… why did you leave?”
“I… well you were crying… I’m sorry… you were upset. I thought that meant you didn’t…“ Dazriel moaned as the Daemon pressed his lips against his own. Malachi didn’t deepen the kiss, just rested there in a way that screamed that he was treasured. The Angel groaned as Malachi pulled away. He turned his gaze to large, wet blue eyes. The flutter of his stomach quietened at the sight of the Daemon’s smile.
“Silly Angel, Daemons don’t cry when they’re sad… or when they’re angry.”
“But you were crying!” Malachi placed a finger against his lips, hushing him.
“Yeah I was, but not cause I was sad.”
“Oh…” Dazriel could feel himself blushing, His bonded took pity on him, steering him out into the street. Not talking but offering gentle smiles. The Angel smiled happily and reclaimed his place curled against Malachi’s side.
Malachi stepped into a small shop and Dazriel followed him, curiosity getting the better of him. Rolls of cloth covered the walls from floor to ceiling. The only furnishings were a small covered desk and a couple of old leather chairs. One of which was currently occupied by a young muse.
He looked up as the two entered, flashing them a smile that showed sharp fangs. His hair was silver and cut short. The muse was wearing exquisitely tailored pants and shirt in muse grey. His skin was coal dust over gold. Cat amber eyes gazed at them.
“Hello Malachi… this your bonded?” The muse rose to greet them, bright eyes shimmering. He offered Dazriel his hand. “Names Rojan.”
“Well how about that, Delaren’s first and Kamerl’s chosen. Not a bad combination.” Rojan leaned forward to whisper into his ear. “Here’s a bit of advice Daz. You better hurry up and make sure people know he’s yours, no joke. Mal here already attracts enough attention and you know what they say about forbidden fruit no?” Dazriel nodded at him, face burning.
“Oy Rojan! What bull shit are you feeding him now?” Malachi growled from across the room. The muse winked at him, grinning slyly.
“It ain’t bull shit Mal, its proven facts.”
“Whatever… just get Runcella all right?” Malachi sighed, curling into one of the chairs. His bonded patted one of the arms and Dazriel sat down on it obediently. Malachi growled playfully and pulled him into his lap.
“My my, busy aren’t we?” Rojan laughed gently and then lifting one fall of gold cloth stepped into another room. The soft murmur of voices could be heard over the quiet music playing.
The curtain of gold lifted again and Rojan stepped back into the room, followed by an old lady. Pins, needles and other useful items decorated her grubby white apron. Dazriel smiled at her and she grinned back crookedly, waving irritably at the muse hovering near her.
“Rojan! Will you quit mothering me!” She snapped. “If you want to be helpful you can see if we have any Angel white in the back room.”
Rojan grinned at them sheepishly, shrugged and then slipped out to do his charges bidding.
“Daz, Runcella - Rune this is Dazriel, my bonded.” Malachi introduced, neatly dodging the swipe of Runcella’s cloth.
“I know that Daemon… now Dazriel dear, could you just go stand on the stool over there and we’ll see about clothes for you. I take you want it in Angel white?” Runcella’s voice quivered on certain notes betraying her age. Dazriel nodded at the question and jumped up onto the stool. The seamstress pulled a tape measure from the pocket of her apron and set about measuring Dazriel.
“Rojan is your muse?” He asked as Runcella pulled the tape tight across his calf.
“Why yes, a good one to but he doesn’t half fuss.” Runcella chuckled to herself and stood back, gazing at Dazriel with a critical eye.
“Oh Rune, can we get a set of formal clothes done as well? It’s the council gathering tonight.” Malachi winked at him from across the room.
“Hmm… sure duck, I’ll have it done by noontide so you two can go chase butterflies for a while.” She waved her hands in a shoo motion and then slipped back into the second room. Rojan shot them a grin and escorted them to the door, rolling his eyes at Runcella’s cry;
“Rojan! What have you done!” Malachi burst into laughter and grabbing Dazriel, high tailed it as the muse swiped at them.
Still holding the Angels hand Malachi led the way through the streets, stopping at a small house.
“Where are we?” Dazriel asked as Malachi rapped on the door.
“At my sister’s house. I kinda want her to meet you.”
“I didn’t know you had a sister.”
“Three actually, Nenuki’s my –“ The door opened and the rest of his words were drowned out as the Daemon in the doorway pounced on him.
“- twin.” Nenuki’s hair was black, eyes blue. In fact the only difference between her and Malachi was her long hair. She’d wound her arms and legs around her brother, clinging to him limpet style and Dazriel noticed also effectively pinning his arms to his sides. Her head rested on Malachi’s shoulder.
“Hello, what’s your name?” She grinned and the Angel blinked at her.
“Ohhh… he your boyfriend Mala-chan?” Nenuki lent back far enough so she could poke Malachi’s side.
“Try mate Nenuki, oh and bonded to boot.” Nenuki froze and the climbed off her brother, glaring at him.
“How come you get a bonded and I don’t?”
Malachi stared at her before shaking his head in confusion. “Cause you damn well told Delaren you didn’t want to!” His bonded growled, Dazriel shifted from one foot to the other, embarrassed.
“Yeah, but I didn’t know you were gonna!” Nenuki glanced at Dazriel and seemed to notice how he felt as she shrugged.
“Oh well, no big. I’ll just have to wait till next time. Don’t you go thinking this means you have one on me little brother.” She turned and entered the house, waving for them to follow her. Malachi did so muttering under his breath.
“Born one minute before me and she still insists on calling me little.” Dazriel chuckled at that and followed Malachi into the kitchen. Nenuki stood on the work surface, rummaging around in a high shelf.
“You two hungry?”
“Na, we just had something to eat.” Malachi placed his hands at her waist, helping her to the floor.
“Ah, cup of tea then?”
“Please.” Dazriel replied, Malachi smiled at him warmly.
“Mala-chan, can you have a look at Kishi for me? She’s not been eating well and that damn lioness never has cooperated with me.”
“What… oh sure. I’ll go take a peek at her now.” Malachi strolled from the room and Nenuki stood watching him go. The kettle gave a hiss and shook her from her daze. Dazriel sighed and sat down at the kitchen table. The Daemoness handed him a cup of tea and Dazriel smiled at her as he sipped. Nenuki sat down next to him.
“Well you wouldn’t be my first choice for Mala-chan’s mate but he sure does love you.” She frowned gently. “To tell the truth I’d much rather he hadn’t bonded at all.”
“Why not?” Dazriel asked, trying hard not to be insulted.
“Oh its nothing against you pet, only Mala-chan isn’t good with responsibility, it makes him nervous. He’s got enough to worry about as it is… I’m surprised he bothered to even go to the bonding. Delaren wouldn’t have held it against him.” Nenuki paused, looking at him from under half closed eyes. “But then maybe, loving you is what he needs. Hmmm…” Swearing and the sound of Malachi’s heavy footsteps interrupted them and Dazriel sighed in relief. Nenuki grinned at the sound and leaned forward. “Oh and Angel, if you hurt my Mala-chan, I’ll make your life a living hell.”
The Daemoness broke away from him as Malachi stepped into the kitchen, his hand dripping molten silver. Nenuki gasped and jumped back onto the work surface, jumping back down with the first aid kit in her hands. Dazriel sprang up as well, drawing a chair for his bonded and sitting down next to him. The Angel held Malachi’s hand as Nenuki cleaned the wound and bandaged it.
“Turns out Kishi’s got tooth ache, I must have hit it by accident and she clamped closed on the pain.” Malachi murmured to his sisters questions. The Daemon stood and glanced out the window. “Nen, what time would you say it is?”
The Daemoness smiled at Dazriel before shaking her head. “I’d say it’s around noontide Mala-chan, why?”
“Hmph, means we have to go pick up Daz’s clothes.” He dropped a kiss onto Nenuki’s forehead. “I’ll see you soon ok?”
“Sure.” Nenuki followed them to the door and saw them off with a little wave. The two stopped off at Runcella’s and Dazriel tried on the new clothes.
“You look great Daz, you’re gonna be a heart throb tonight.” Malachi told him happily. Dazriel smiled and blushed hotly.
Dazriel glanced round the crowded room, searching nearly franticly for a familiar face. Right now he’d happily attach himself to Tansear and that was saying a lot, the Daemon was just scary.
What at the beginning of the night had been gentle compliments had become almost demands and Dazriel was starting to feel worried. Where was Malachi?
A swirl of blue and grey caught the corner of his eye and Dazriel turned to see with relief Makoto making his way towards him through the crowd. Dazriel started towards him, only to be stopped by the hand on his shoulder and the cry of;
“Whoa my pretty, where are you off to? You haven’t answered my question yet.” Dazriel gulped and tried to shrink away form the man holding him. Makoto’s hand came between them, prying the man’s hand from his shoulder. Dazriel backed into the muse gratefully.
“He bothering you Dazriel?” Makoto didn’t wait for his reply, instead he manoeuvred the Angel into a one armed hug, leading Dazriel away. The Angel sighed in relief, sagging against the muse.
“Thanks… how’d you know?”
“Oh, you stank of fear… and besides Mal asked me to keep an eye on you.”
“Oh.” Makoto chuckled at his reply, hugging him tighter for a second.
“Walk with me Angel?”
“Certainly, gallant knight.” Dazriel grinned up at the muse.
“Get off with you.” Makoto flicked at his nose and Dazriel giggled, curling closer to the muse, feeling safe here.
A voice cried out and the two spun round just as the bottle of liquid burst on the low ceiling above them, showering them in faint green liquid and fragments of glass. Makoto gasped and leaned forward. Dazriel yelped at the pain filling him and then closed his eyes as everything went black.
He awoke to Makoto shaking him. There was soft grass under him. The sound of horse hooves thundering towards them made him look up.
Sitting atop a huge War horse was a knight. His frame covered in steel armour. He pulled the horse to a stop in front of them, causing the poor beast to rear slightly and then pawed at the ground. Dazriel frowned at him and opened his mouth to complain. The knight beat him to it and pointing his sword at Makoto declared;
“Unhand that fair maiden, demon!”
Dazriel blinked, then frowned again… wait just one blooming second, fair maiden? Now that was just plain insulting.