Zoe tried to leave, she really did, but Caleb wouldn't stop following her. If she didn't know better, if she hadn't just lost her most precious friend only a year ago, maybe she would have been a chatty box. But remembering Ezekiel and his sacrifice, Zoe just couldn't convince herself to do it all over again.
She was on her way back to work, looking worse than when she stepped out.
"The kid is still following you. He's a persistent one, ay?" Mepalham noted, glancing continuously from one human to the other. "You should talk to him, like really have a one-on-one discussion about Hell and stuff."
"I don't want to," she mumbled.
"He can see us therefore he is not lying when he says he can see ghosts. He's the real deal." Mepalham added, glancing at how calm was the boy. Really, he was walking with his hands in his pockets, staring at Zoe like a creep, turning curious eyes from passing citizens and yet he couldn't care less. "I like him." Mepalham admitted and stopped right in front of Caleb.
The young man stopped as well and in a crowded street he smiled at thin air.
"Are you a demon as well?" Caleb asked loud enough for people to turn and stare.
Mepalham raised an eyebrow and couldn't control his laughter.
"I like you a lot, kid."
Maybe it was fate messing with her. Or maybe it was God punishing her. Maybe it was Lucifer himself who, after escaping the Void, decided to come and throw her into a state of complete insanity under the disguise of a man. There were so many possibilities, so many demons and she was so paranoid.
When she arrived at work she first went into the bathroom. She needed a moment to calm down her nerves and push the existence of Caleb Miller in the very far and obscure corners of her mind.
She splashed some water on her face and leaned very close towards the mirror in order to see if the demon was kept in check. Everything seemed alright until she suddenly saw two red eyes stare at her with hatred. She jumped back at the memory of Lucifer's eyes. A knock on the door scared her shitless and she swore her heart couldn't take much more.
"Lestrade, you're back already?" Roberts asked from the other side of the door.
He did not expect his profiler to come out with swollen eyes and looking like she had just seen death.
"I take it that your little chat with Miller didn't go so well. Eh, too bad." He shrugged it off so easily, it was as if Miler wasn't even on his list of potential helpers. "He is a journalist so I do expect he'll return for whatever reason he has. Try to avoid him if he ever crosses your path again."
Zoe looked at her superior with a mix of surprise and respect. They weren't incredibly close but it seemed that Roberts wasn't a detective for nothing. Unlike what she thought of him (a guy who likes sugary stuff way too much, with a childish view over his workplace and life in general, rather naive and maybe stupid at times) Roberts was actually a capable adult.
"Have I impressed you so much that you can't take your eyes off me now, Lestrade?" He asked with a boiysh grin.
If only he was somebody else...
The rest of the day progressed smoothly. Caleb did not return to the precinct. The demons did not return to her side. Roberts was busy reading some documents on Fauggerdy and Zoe was content. She didn't even notice when it was time to leave. Roberts dropped a file on her desk and announced it was time to go home.
"You don't have to give me a ride. I assure you I'm healthy." She insisted but by the time she realized what she was doing, Roberts already had her on the passenger seat.
"I'm not saying you are not healthy. But maybe you should sleep more. I hear that tea helps you relax, or warm milk, right before you go to bed." He said, glancing swiftly at her.
"I'm not a child." She muttered leaning her head on the window.
"Is it the case? Your friend and professor died and you found the latter in an unorthodox position. That can cause damage even to professionals." He added returning his eyes on the road.
"I've seen worst. The surprising factor is why they died rather than how and by whom. They were both involved in a Christian cult. I don't know exact which one but the mark on their backs is a monogram of the name of Christ with Alfa and Omega on each side and olive tree branches surrounding them. It's all about purity and peace." Zoe explained looking out the window. She swore she almost saw somebody familiar but they drove by so quickly that she couldn't be sure.
"You know a lot about cults, huh, Lestrade?" Roberts asked glancing at her from the corner of his eye.
"Not really. That's why I'm studying them at the moment. Cults can be very dangerous, it's all about a charismatic leader and his power of persuasion and manipulation. They don't have to be smart, they just have to be sneaky and do their research."
By the time they arrived at her apartment complex, Zoe stopped talking and Roberts stopped nagging. It was a silent ride overall but something did feel strange. The detective was very perceptive so he knew Zoe was in some kind of trouble, he just couldn't point what it was about.
As soon as Zoe got out of his car, the detective rolled down the window and winked at her.
"Get some sleep, Lestrade. I'll turn a blind eye if you get in late tomorrow."
"No need, but thank you," she answered, getting even more tired now that she was home.
"The princess has arrived," Mepalham announced, seeing Zoe enter the building while the car that drove her home left. "A knight in a shining Porche has gotten her home."
"Must be the detective. He seems fond of his little profiler." Was the bored voice of the sloth demon. He was standing in the living room, spread on the red fluffy couch that reminded him of Zoe's bed from London. "Have you seen Eneizar lately?"
"No. After Lucifer fell into the Abyss, the whole vanity domain became a shit hole. Asmodeus locked himself in his domain although he claimed he wanted to take control of Lucifer's mansion." Mepalham said turning towards Gakhas. Standing in front of the windows, the lights were shining onto him, making his form so much more intimidating than it really was.
"It's been a year on Earth but it has only been several days in Hell. However, I heard from other demons that Eneizar had left for Earth in search for the Lost Boys. I thought they were all dead, murdered by Zoe herself but it seems there's still some left. They have a cult based on that story, they are worshipers of Asmodeus."
Mepalham rolled his eyes at the word 'worshiper'. He strongly disliked how humans always come with words for literally anything.
"If only they'd know what a coward their subject of admiration really is..." Gakhas continued.
"Why are you so worried about Eneizar? Wasn't he Lucifer's right-hand demon?"
"Until Abaddon, yes. He was retrograded to left-hand demon. But Eneizar from back then it's not Eneizar from now. He has the endless knot on his wrist, he is bound to Zoe and yet she doesn't feel his energy."
"I wouldn't worry about that. She doesn't feel Mehrdir either and he is watching her like a hawk."
Gakhas rolled his eyes at the mention of that weak arsehole. Everyone knew he was stalking Zoe from afar because he had certain principles that wouldn't let him actively pursue his love.
The doorknob clicked and both demons glanced at the hallway. Luckily for Zoe, once she entered she found the living room empty yet smelling of burned flesh. Demons have been loitering her apartment and no marks were going to push them out. She only hoped it was only the ones she knew...she didn't need any new friends.
Caleb was in his room, on his bed, looking up at the ceiling with Zoe's words swirling in his mind. He could barely concentrate on his actual work as a paranormal investigator now. Why need a ghost when the commander of Hell was right there? And she was so keen on avoiding him and other paranormal beings. And yet those two demons appeared and calmed her down. One of them seemed to like Caleb, huh.
"A demon likes me, what an oddity," he said before he started to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Elijah's voice seemed to come from all over the room but Caleb didn't mind it.
"I met her today. Zoe Lestrade is an interesting person."
"I know," was Elijah's simple answer.
"Two men appeared today too. Well, not exactly men but demons! They looked so much like humans."
Elijah raised an eyebrow and hummed. His figure elongated alongside the shadows coming from the bathroom and suddenly he was there, next to Caleb.
"What two demons?" He asked leaning on his left arm. "Tell me, darling, are you cheating on me?"
"No. But one had different coloured eyes and the other told me that he liked me." Caleb admitted still very entertained by what has happened.
"Gakhas has different coloured eyes. He is a sloth demon under Belphegor. That guy...he is not the demon you want to play around with." Explained Elijah although he didn't know anything else about him. "The other one is probably Mepalham. A greed demon under Mammon. He's taken a liking to Zoe and now that Hell is so messy he seems to have become more involved."
"A demon told me that he likes me. A greed demon nonetheless. Isn't that such a funny joke?" Caleb couldn't get over that detail. For someone so common and so devoted to the paranormal and supernatural, it was as if he finally got the proof he had always wanted.
"Look, Caleb, it's not Ghost Adventures right now. We are not in a silly television show and Zoe is not an actress. She may not look like it, but she killed hundreds of demons, she killed humans although her body was just a shell and she sent Lucifer down the rabbit hole. Most importantly, she makes you feel empathy. That's just...the worst." Elijah said squirming in his own skin at the memory of how he met her in the asylum. "And don't trust the demons around her either. They are corrupted."
Elijah was very serious when he encouraged Caleb not to listen to anything related to Zoe. The demons she had drown to her side were not B-list but strong and capable first acts. The most dangerous of them all was Gakhas, a demon with a mysterious past and unknown contacts in the human world.
And yet Caleb seemed more than happy when Mepalham suddenly appeared on the bench next to him. It did not matter that people were staring, Caleb was already in a very good mood.
"You dress odd but I quite like it, kid. Good for you, sticking to your own fashion sense." Mepalham started, leaning back so that he could look like he popped out just for a relaxed chat. Truthfully, if humans could have seen him, they would have called him a sleazy asshole.
"Is there something you want to talk to me about?" Caleb asked, only acting suspicious. Elijah warned him only about the one with different coloured eyes, but he should not express his excitement just yet.
"Very few mediums sense ghosts and even fewer sense demons. And yet you can see both. How did that happen? Oddity of nature?" Mepalham asked bluntly.
"An accident. I got stabbed in the eyes and got surgery. I woke up and suddenly could see dead people. Their faces aren't clear like yours, it's more as if I am looking at the projection of somebody through a film. It's hard to explain." Caleb replied sincerely.
"What about the sky? What about colours?" Mepalham went on to ask, "Do you see the colours?"
Caleb raised an eyebrow slightly stunned by how idiotic and at the same time serious it sounded.
"Yes. What does that have to do with me seeing ghosts?"
Mepalham bit his lower lip as he stared intensely at the boy in front of him.
"You are lucky then. Zoe's view of the world is grey, like literally. Colours are faded through her eyes, she can't make the difference between two shades of the same colour, sadly. Dark blue and baby blue look more or less the same through her eyes." Mepalham explained, shaking his head at the sad life of Zoe Lestrade.
"Why are you telling me this? Am I suppose to pity her? There are people in this world who are colour blind and can't see colours at all." Caleb said standing on his defensive position. He couldn't have shown how interested he actually was.
"Just saying. Life is not easy when such a gift is thrown at you. I bet you heard about her from others...that she is dangerous, that she knelt the vanity domain and threw Lucifer into the Abyss. Well, she did." Mepalham continued seeing how Caleb's mask was falling before him, "But she didn't do it alone. I'm going to give you homework, Caleb Miller. Go and research the story of the commander before showing your face at the precinct."
"Why would I follow what a demon says?" Caleb scoffed and Mepalham narrowed his eyes at him. "G-give me a good reason why I should trust what you say." He added slightly scared of what a demon could do to him if angered.
"Because you are a good kid." Was Mepalham's short answer before he got up and walked away, eventually vanishing into thin air.