Part of Apex of Creation
What happened last night? The realization that Emily was in my bed did wonders for clearing my head from morning fog.
Emily and I had come to my room to do homework. I’d dozed off and…
Did we have sex?
No, thank goodness. I was still wearing my clothes. I’d taken off my shirt at some point in the night, but the pants were still on.
Emily was next to me, her messed-up hair falling gracefully over her face. She was also still in her clothes from yesterday.
God she was beautiful.
What was a guy supposed to do when waking up with a girl? Even my spark of omniscience didn’t seem to be able to answer that one.
I got up and went to the bathroom, trying to make as little noise as possible. Mercifully, Kevin was elsewhere, presumably hung over in some frat house from yet another night-long party. I splashed water on my face, ran my fingers through my hair, and came back. In my absence, Emily had turned my bed into a veritable bird’s nest. She was still sound asleep.
I packed up my notes and books from last night and straightened up the room. I still had to shower and change, but I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate, given the circumstances.
I nudged Emily on the shoulder. “Hey, Emily. Um, good morning.”
I nudged harder. “Emily. Time to get up for class.”
Emily’s eyes opened, and she looked around. “Wha…? James?”
Emily sat up, and realization seemed to slowly set in. “Did I-?”
“It’s fine, Emily. I don’t mind.” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. “Though I am curious why you didn’t go back to your own room.”
Emily turned bright red. “I thought you might wake up again so I stayed.”
“...and I didn’t want to go.” Emily somehow turned an even brighter shade of red. Hang on a second. Did she like me too?
I was momentarily speechless.
Then I pulled my thoughts together. “Um, we have class in an hour. Let’s change, and I’ll meet you downstairs?”
Today was off to a good start.
Thanks to the late night study (and snuggle?) session, I was well-prepared for class. I aced the usual history quiz with only minimal divine intervention, turned in a perfect calculus homework, and even paused time to write “Hi, Emily! (ツ) -James” on her notes in the middle of class.
Right next to where Emily was writing at the time, of course. She gave me the eye, and I couldn’t stop myself from grinning.
It was nice to have someone to joke around with.
The remainder of the day time passed uneventfully. I did spent most of it with Emily, which was unusual. We sat together for Organic and Calculus, and promptly met up after the classes we didn’t share.
Somehow, neither of us brought up the topic of the awkward morning.
It helped that we were in almost all the same classes. She had a different elective than European History, though. And even though we’d spent the bulk of yesterday lounging around Heaven, it was good to finally have a normal day.
“Come in” called Cael from inside the office.
I opened the door and entered. Cael was working on something at his desk. “Cael, nice to see you.”
“Same to you.” he replied, not looking up from his work. “Have a seat.”
Cael finished whatever he was doing and spoke up. “I wanted to get your opinion on the Hybrid, James Exosia. You met with him a few days ago?”
“I did.” I responded.
“And have you been Watching him since?”
“On and off, yes. He has a strong moral compass, but is plagued by social insecurities and emotional difficulties. Not unlike yourself, in fact. Despite his initial frustrations at his Hybrid status, he’s become quite clever in adapting and using his abilities.”
Cael scribbled something down. “Elaborate.”
“As you told me before, he wants to be left out of the War, and has already rejected deals with Lucifer.”
“I knew that already.”
“However, he’s not afraid to draw on his powers where he feels that it’s for the benefit of those he cares about. As of now that’s essentially just Emily Butler, for whom he has strong feelings. It would include his family too, but he hasn’t had much contact with them while he’s been at school.”
Cael kept scribbling. “Do you think he could be convinced to help our side?”
I thought for a moment. “I’m not sure. His morals certainly lead him to favor our side. However, that would necessarily involve engaging in conflict with the Rebels, which he does not seem to be ready for.”
Cael opened up a folder and handed me a paper. “What do you think of this?”
I skimmed through the sheet. “That could work. Minimal conflict, largely an operation of tact and deception. It inherently goes against our nature, but James would certainly be capable of it. Again though, he would have to be convinced to help our cause.”
Cael took the paper back. “Thank you Raguel.”
Emily and I trekked back towards the dorms, the snow falling around us. Neither of us had the right shoes on.
We got back to the dorm tower and stomped off our sneakers. I spent the entire elevator ride up wrestling with the idea of giving Emily a kiss on the cheek. I really liked her, but was it moving too fast? Was she still weirded out by the unintentional sleepover? Would she think that I was-
“Can you really summon angels?” Emily asked suddenly.
“Um.” I reeled my stray mind back in. “Yeah. Or at least, they have a habit of showing up when I call. That was how I double-checked about your dad. Only, that one was a demon.”
“His name is Alocer. Pretty cool guy, most of the time at least. A lot nicer than you might expect a demon to be.” The elevator arrived at my floor and we headed to my room. “Hey Alocer!” I called as I opened my dorm door.
Sure enough, he was lounging on Kevin’s bed. “Good evening James.”
I ditched my backpack to make introductions. “Alocer, this is Emily. Emily, Alocer.”
“Hi, um, nice to meet you.” Emily said.
Alocer got up and shook Emily’s hand. “The pleasure is all mine, my dear.”
“So, you’re… a demon?” Emily asked, hesitantly.
“Not what you expected, I imagine? Perhaps you were thinking more pentagrams and black candles, along with red skin and horns?”
“Um… yeah, actually.”
Alocer smiled. “We dress with the times, darling. Horns went out of style centuries ago.”
I piped up. “I was hoping you could show Emily your reservations book. You know, her father’s entry.”
“Of course.” Alocer pulled the enormous volume from his sleeve and plopped it onto the desk. “Butler, Nigel.” He pointed at an entry.
Emily looked at it. “I can’t read that.”
“Right, of course.” Alocer responded. He waved his hand. “Try again.”
Emily blinked a few times as the writing rendered itself in English. “Butler, Nigel. Cell omega-nine-two, um, oh-.”
“Ω-92’O#S5;-2B67-?1” Alocer rattled off. “Omega-series cell assignments are quite rare.”
Emily frowned. “So my dad’s going to spend eternity in a torture cell in Hell?”
Alocer took the reservations book back. “That is what it looks like.” He stuffed the book into his suit jacket.
Emily flopped down on my bed. “Good. Serves him right.”
“Naturally.” Alocer turned to leave. “Oh, James. Have you give any more thought to Lucifer’s offer?”
I shook my head. “Not happening.” I replied. “But you’ll be glad to know that I’m not running errands for Heaven either.”
“Fair enough. I must say, I’ve never met a Hybrid who was so determined to stay so neutral. Most of them pick sides quite rapidly.”
“I’m not most people.”
“No, James, no you’re not. Anyways, it’s been a pleasure as always, but I must get going. Emily my dear, it was lovely to meet you. Have a nice night.”
And then Alocer was gone.
Emily furrowed her brow. “Is it weird that he’s actually nicer than my father?”
I shrugged and flopped down on the bed next to Emily. “I don’t really know your father. I just knew his deepest darkest secret.”
“How fucked up is it that he’s more of an asshole than, you know, an actual demon of Hell?”
“Pretty fucked up, I’d say. Why?”
Emily screwed her face up in that adorable way again. “I don’t know. It’s just making me think.”
“Like, he’s a demon, right? So, by definition, shouldn’t he be evil and nefarious? And not all charming and gentlemanly?”
I shrugged. “Could be an act, I suppose. There’s another demon I’ve run into, named Aamon, who’s pretty much what you’re describing. Colossal jerk. He was actually behind the bank robbery; I watched him reap the souls of the robbers after they got shot.”
“And the whole point of the bank robbery was just to pressure me into talking to Lucifer about some scroll he wanted, which is what Alocer was referring to on his way out. Like I said, Aamon’s a huge jerk”
“What does a bank robbery have to do with talking to Lucifer?”
It was at that point I realized I’d said too much. I could feel my face starting to get red. “Well… it was because you were inside.” I said, staring intensely at the ceiling.
Emily took a moment to put the pieces together. “So I was the bargaining chip?”
“To Aamon, yeah.”
“I hate him already. He does sound like a jerk.. And- hang on, you said you’d been to Hell too, right?”
“Was that for-”
“The bank. Yeah. All during the moment just before Daniel shot the robbers.”
I felt my face turning red. Yes, of course it was for Emily. I wasn’t sure that I’d go through hell for anyone else outside of family. “Well, I mean, it’s not like I had a choice. You were in there.”
“James, that’s so sweet of you.” Emily said, as she hug-tackled me.
Oof. In an instant, I was overwhelmed by Emily’s warmth, the weight of her body on mine, the feeling of her hair falling on my face, the scent of her shampoo, and the shock of her sudden affection. Not knowing what else to do, I hugged her back. I could feel the blood rushing in my head, I could hear my heart beating in my ears. I wondered if I should kis-
And then she rolled off of me. My head was still in the clouds.
“So is Kevin gone again tonight?”
I could hardly process it.
I stood outside the coffee shop, waiting for Lucifer’s errand-demon to arrive. Despite the nighttime snowfall and wind chill, I was perfectly comfortable in my suit.
“Make it quick. You know Lucifer doesn’t like to send us all the way out here.”
I turned, then removed an envelope from my inside breast pocket and handed it over. “The first Whispers have been successful. It’s difficult to find time to Whisper - she spent nearly all of today with the Hybrid - but we are on track.”
“I will convey the message.” The other demon put the envelope in his own inside breast pocket. Then he frowned. “This was a long way to come for just one envelope.”
Insolent whelp. I pointed inside the coffee shop. “There’s a Gate at the men’s bathroom door. Use that.”
Without so much as a thanks, the messenger walked inside the shop to use the portal. Typical upstart youngling with an over-inflated head. He’d learn, sometime in the next couple of decades, to not complain about his superiors like that.
But I had more important things to focus on.
This chapter was produced with the support of my Hybrid patron:
- Olli Erinko