Rin began to cry even harder when the subject of looking human came up— he covered his eyes with his arm, his ears drooping so much that they nearly touched his shoulders. “I-I c-can’t,” he sobbed, flames flaring. While he wasn’t burning the other demon or his own clothes, the young demon was so upset that his tears were steaming. “I try e-every day to look human, but I c-can’t. I-I can’t even get my flames t’go away f-for more than a few minutes,” he admitted, curling in on himself as his body was wracked with sobs. “I j-jus’ wanna go t’ school w-with Yukio and make human friends like he does, b-but I can’t ‘cause I look …scary.”
He never would have said such a thing if his mother was around— she’d start asking him why he’d think something like that, and then she’d try to tell him he wasn’t, even though it was pretty obvious his appearance scared humans. Why else would people scream, run, and call him a monster whenever they saw him?
The young demon sniffled, taking the tissue— only for it to burst into flames. “S-Sorry,” he mumbled, his face turning red. “I-I didn’t burn you, right?” Rin didn’t think he was upset enough to actually burn anybody at this point, but it’d happened a few times before.
Petruchio almost let his jaw literally drop — all he’d wanted was to cheer the boy up a bit, and he was now even more upset instead. Jeez, such a mess. “Humans are all idiots,” he declared, almost unable to resist chuckling when the boy burned the tissue. “You might look scary on the outside, but trust me, they’re really damn ugly on the inside, and that matters a lot more. Most of them aren’t even really worth making friends with, so don’t be upset over something like that.”
He would know, after all, how truly ugly humans could be on the inside, especially when they were dealing with something they feared. Petruchio’s hand wandered over to his stomach, till his fingers were touching his stigma through the fabric of his shirt. The words that had been burnt into his flesh, ‘GLUTTONY’, were the only scar he couldn’t heal.
“Don’t worry about burning me,” he said, now smiling a bit, as he reached out to wipe the boy’s tears away with his palm, now in lieu of a tissue. “You probably wouldn’t be able to, even if you tried.”
“I don’t like it when humans are scared of me,” he murmured, frowning. “I-I don’ mean to be dangerous… I jus’ can’t control my powers and temper good yet. Ma says I’ll get better at it when I get older, so maybe humans won’t be afraid of me then.” Rin knew that most demons also looked more threatening as they got older, but looks didn’t matter all that much, right? As long as they knew Rin was safe, it wouldn’t matter if he looked kind of scary.
Rin’s lip began to tremble as Petruchio described what he’d been through, the young demon crawling over to wrap his arms (and tail) around the other demon. “I— I-I’m so-sorry that h-happened to you,” he sniffled, tears streaming down his face. “T-That sounds really scary.” One of his worst fears and most frequent nightmares was that Exorcists were going to take him away from his family forever, just like the older demon had described.
“Humans aren’t capable of not being afraid of demons,” Petruchio stated, his voice matter-of-fact. He didn’t mean to crush the boy’s hopes and dreams, but the sooner he learnt about things like this, the sooner he could try to learn how to adjust, right? Well, at least, if he really did want to be among humans. “The only thing you can do is pretend you aren’t one. It’s easy for me since I have a fully human body with a spirit sealed into it, but you could try to hide what you look like, too, right?” Then again, Petruchio had never actually cared about what humans thought of him — this boy was different, for some reason.
The lanky man’s eyes widened in surprise as the little boy crawled into his lap and hugged him. “Ah… hey… don’t cry like that…” He fished around for a while, then tugged out a paper tissue from one of his many pockets. “Here, use this, before you ruin my jacket.” He didn’t really know what to say to make the other feel better, honestly. He couldn’t say it’s not as bad as it sounds, because, well, it had been as bad — worse, in fact. “I appreciate your feelings, but they don’t change the past, you know? What’s done is done. And I survived all of it, isn’t that what matters?” He allowed a small grin to curl his lips. “If they didn’t pick me up off the street, I’d have died, all on my own. My parents had died way before that happened. Not to mention, I met someone I love… Every coin has two sides, you see?”
“Why would they do that? I thought most humans didn’t like demons, so why would they try to make some?” As far as Rin knew, all humans aside from his mother and brother wanted demons to totally die out, so why would they make even more? “My Ma an’ my brother are the only humans I’ve met who like demons.” Not that Rin knew a lot of humans, but still.
Rin frowned, biting his lip with a small fang— he wasn’t sure his mother would like it if he gave food to a random demon. The last time any of them had done that, the fridge had been entirely emptied. As had the pantry. “Ma says I’m not allowed to give food to strangers ‘cause they might eat all our food again.”
Dear spirits, this kid was really naíve. Then again… weren’t all kids this way? Petruchio bit into his lower lip; he really didn’t want to be the one to crush that naiveté. At the same time, though, he’d been asked a question, and he didn’t really want to lie, either. “It’s not that they don’t like demons,” he replied softly. “It’s that they are afraid of them, because demons are dangerous, and humans are weak against them. However, if there are demons they can control… they have no problem with that.”
“I was made a prisoner, a slave, basically… They captured me when I was still a little kid like you, ‘n then I was made into a demon. It’s sort of like when a normal demon possesses a human, except some demons… well, they can’t do that, because they exist in between Gehenna and Assiah, and can be in neither unless they get a body. So they were summoned, and placed into us, and mostly it’s still the human me who’s in control, so that’s why I look human, but… Hey, are you still following?” He grinned at the boy. “Sorry, that’s probably really confusing. Also, don’t worry about the food. I was just asking.”
Finally beginning to relax, Rin went back to drawing his picture; it was pretty obvious that the one short figure surrounded with blue scribbles was Rin, but the other two figures were more ambiguous. Considering Rin hadn’t drawn ears and a tail on them as he had himself, they had to be humans. They both had brown hair and dots on their face, but one was tall with long hair and one was Rin’s height with short hair. “I like it here, too,” he said quietly, a small smile on his face. “It’s okay for you to be in my territory, ‘cause you’re nice.”
“I know you aren’t human. You don’t smell human at all,” he said, pouting— he wasn’t stupid. “I jus’ meant you look really human, for a demon. I never saw a demon with no ears or fangs or anything before.” Rin felt the tiniest twinge of jealousy in the pit of his stomach— if he looked human like this demon did, he could go to school with Yukio and have human friends. He fidgeted with his claws a little before beginning to scribble again. “I wish I looked human sometimes, ‘cause then I could go outside an’ people wouldn’t try to hurt me or scream at me.”
“Well, how to put it… I’m not really a demon either…?” Petruchio hesitated for a moment or two, but since the kid seemed relaxed, he closed the rest of the distance between them, and plopped down into a sitting position on the porch next to him. “I’m an artificial demon.” He paused for a moment, then realized that phrasing was probably a little too difficult for such a small kids. “I mean, I was created… made to be a demon, by other humans. I was born a completely ordinary human, but then they made me a demon. So I don’t look like it, but on the inside, I am.”
He peered at the picture for a brief second, wondering who the people on it were, but then just scratched at the back of his head. “You sure you don’t have something to eat?”
It felt like years. Though the truth was it’d only been a few weeks. Anytime without Petruchio felt too long to her, but she’d had to leave. She felt horrible leaving without a goodbye, but that was the worst part of going away. Her nightmares had been getting worse, she was scared of hurting him. Only time could heal such wounds, wasn’t that the saying? Whatever it was, she’d hoped time away could help her.
The air was much warmer now, though the rain pounding down on her made her breath hot and sticky feeling. She walked calmly, though the thoughts inside her head raged on. ‘He won’t love you anymore. You left him. He won’t forgive you.’ Tears rose in Incendiu’s eyes and she shut them, letting the tears roll down her face, the rain masking her tears in their constant downfall.
The Sin was standing outside the apartment, her eyes glued on the door. Petruchio could probably feel her power, he knew she was outside. Would he come to open the door? She waited, just a few seconds, and there was nothing. Drawing in an uneasy breath, she walked up the slippery steps and tested the doorknob. Unlocked. How like him.
Walking inside, she hesitated before closing the door quietly and made sure her steps were silent on the carpeted flooring of their cozy apartment. Incendiu held her breath before stepping into the kitchen, her eyes falling on his figure looming over the sink.
“Pet?” Her voice was quiet and unsure, her eyes falling to the floor. “I-I’m really sorry, I’m back now. Just-” Before she could help herself, the tears came.
“I’m sorry. Please take me back.”
It had been a while, but Petruchio was used to it. Not Incendiu disappearing, that is, no. But he was well used to the feeling of not having the slightest idea of what’s going to happen the next day. They had always lived from day to day, not knowing anything, whether either of them would die the next day, or whether they’d be disassembled, or how many humans they would be forced to kill.
Incendiu being gone was a stab more painful than any other, but Petruchio was indestructible. That had always been the best thing about him — he had never been too valuable as an offensive asset.
Feeling her aura close in on him was another matter altogether; for some strange reason, it hit harder than her leaving. It was… surreal. Him being left alone… that was nothing out of the ordinary. However, the opposite of it… well, that was.
Then again, rationalizing things had never really worked when it came to Incendiu… because, all it really took was one single glance at her as she entered the kitchen, and any and all feelings simply vanished from him, save for the one sole desire of wrapping her into his embrace.
So, that was what he did. tugging her to himself, and then even lifting her a bit off the ground. “Take you back?” he asked softly. “Back where? Isn’t this our home?”
There was nothing to forgive.
“Why are you here, then?” He’d only been visited a few times by demons that looked like humans, and those had been his siblings; he didn’t remember when they visited, but his Ma had told him a few had visited him when he was a baby. “Are you one of my brothers?” Rin knew the names and kingdoms of all of the Princes like a good little demon, but he had no idea what any of them looked like. “You look too human to be anything else…” He looked even more human than Rin, and Rin was half-human. He had to be really powerful if he didn’t have ears, fangs, or claws… Rin was beginning to wonder if he even had a tail.
“I-If you’re looking for my Ma, she’s at work…” Demons came and talked to his mother sometimes, but most of them looked more demonic than this guy. They usually at least had horns or fangs.
“I’m just taking a walk!” Petruchio responded cheerfully. The more he talked, the easier it became; demon language eventually smoothed out on his tongue, the way a block of chocolate would melt if you held it in your mouth for a long time. (Mm, chocolate.) “This is a pretty nice forest.” Then again, the kid was a demon. Which meant… “It’s your territory, right? Hah, well, sorry about that.”
He walked a few more paces towards the kid, eyeing him with interest. So he was living here with his mother? Another demon? Or was the little one a halfbreed, with a human mother? Curious. “I’m not looking for anything. Although, if you have a bit of food, I wouldn’t say no…”
Oh, wait, he’d been asked a question, too. “No, I’m not human. But I’m definitely not your brother either.”
When Rin looked up to see somebody who looked human, he was more than surprised— the blue flames that lightly covered him before erupted, immersing the boy in a bonfire of Satan’s flames. He scrambled away with a very inhuman cry, backing up against his front door. The young demon also yelled for his mother before quickly realizing she wasn’t there.
After a few moments, though, the green-haired man’s definitely demonic scent reached Rin, calming the young demon down. Demons usually treated Rin nicer than unknown humans, so he was probably safe. Human or demon, however, the young boy still wasn’t used to strangers. “U-Uh… H-Hi,” he stammered in demon, his tail lashing anxiously behind him.
Seeing the blue flames sear up in that manner — well, there was the answer for the boy’s strong aura. He couldn’t be Satan himself, though… probably an offspring, either of the overlord, or one of the Princes. It didn’t really interest Petruchio. The Princes of Hell and the Seven Sins had never really been either comparable or compatible. The former ruled over Gehenna, and the latter, albeit holding almost the same amount of power, were mere tools of humans. (Well, they had been. Now, they were merely meaningless.)
“Hello, little one,” he said casually, stepping out into the clearing, his hands stuffed into his pockets. The demonic tongue felt sour on his tongue — he hadn’t used it in so long. Along with his brand, it had been instilled into him in a forceful way; he could use it, but he never liked it. “I don’t intend to hurt you, don’t worry.”
Ma was at work, Yukio was at school, and the hobgoblin keeping Rin company was boring— it talked as poorly in demon as he did in human, and didn’t know any games. He liked it better when the wood nymphs took care of him; while they usually didn’t play wrestle with him, they smelled nice and sometimes played games with him that they’d seen human kids play. Hobgoblins, on the other hand, smelled like rotting meat, weren’t very smart, and tried to chew on his fingers sometimes.
On the porch of the small cabin with the hobgoblin that was supposed to be watching him curled up by his side and a crayon clasped in his little claws, Rin began to draw three stick figures.
Petruchio leaned against a tree, folding his arms; from that spot, he had a clear view of the clearing with the little house in it, and the boy sitting on the porch. What a strange place for a kid to be, especially alone. Although, even from this distance, Petruchio could sense that the kid was no regular human. His aura was so strong it made the tiny hairs at the back of his neck raise, yet at the same time, he didn’t feel threateneed.
Then again, Petruchio never felt threatened anymore; there wasn’t anything anyone could do to him that hadn’t been done before, and worse; and, then again, what could a small child do, even if he was a demon?
He stepped out into the clearing, but still keeping his distance — albeit mostly just to not startle the boy. He raised an arm in greeting, adding a smile to it, but didn’t yet say a thing.