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A Friend In Need is a Friend Indeed

There is no handbook on how to hide a demon from your family. Trust me on this. I looked. All Google came up with was how to get rid of the 'evil spirits' and how much a house exorcism would cost. Believe it or not, pretty cheap. Really, all would have been fine with the demon Agro, if I hadn't pissed him off so much by just being myself.

It started when I called him by the wrong name. More than once. A slip of tongue is the story I'm sticking with, but he didn't care one bit by how offended he was, opting to give me the heaviest and scariest glares any time I called him Argo. I learned not to call him the wrong name when he threatened to reveal himself to my suddenly very Christian mother, and I relented, calling him by his given name instead. I may have slipped once or twice after that, but he thankfully hadn't heard.

Then there was the fact that apparently, demons needed food. Who would have thunk it? I had just assumed that he would be find, ya know, not eating, but everyone makes mistakes right? He broke this small factoid to me by stating, rather loudly in the middle of me reading a book, "Bring me food, woman." To say I was startled would be an understatement, but to say I was surprised would be even worse of one. Food? What did demons eat? Would he be okay if he ate blessed food?

He answered my first question with his own: what do you like to eat? Demons, I learned, all had their own favorite foods. Some preferred higher class food, the expensive stuff like any kind of seafood out there. Other much liked Italian. Agro himself was the kind of guy who much preferred Indian. Luckily for him, there was an Italian Bistro not too far from the house, and a quaint Italian restaurant downtown. I promised to take him sometime, but he had to make do with the food at the house for now. Then he politely asked, more like demanded, that I did not bless his food before giving it to him.

Then there was another problem. How the hell was I going to sneak him food? There was a strict 'no eating anywhere but the dining room' policy that my dad enforced just as much as he enforced the law outside the house. He was a real stickler about it, and I feared that, even if he was asleep, he would know. And he would try to catch me red-handed only to find a half naked man wearing a loincloth sitting in my bed eating a sandwich. That would be the worst case scenario, of course.

Agro made a point to make fun of me for my fear of breaking that one simple rule while I literally had a demon in my room, but he was ignored as I brainstormed the perfect plan to sneak him food. Which worked out perfectly, because it had been going on for almost a week and I had yet to be caught by either parent, and Agro was well-fed.

And of course, when everything started to fall into rhythm and all was going well, another problem arose.

My short little vacation from work was over, and I was needed at work for a twelve hour shift. I broke this to Agro after I snuck him some taquitos, hoping that breaking the news over a nice meal would help soften the blow. It didn't. Not one bit. He looked at me, taquito halfway to his mouth, and narrowed his eyes.

"You will not go."

I snorted and got up on the bed, leaning back against my pillow and giving him a look from my spot. "That's a funny joke, because I am going." He prepared to protest this, but I held up my hand and rolled my eyes. "Seriously? It's not that big of a deal. I'll be in the restaurant the whole time, so nothing will happen." I hesitated, then knocked on the wood of my nightstand.

He rolled his own eyes at this childish warding off of bad luck. "That does not work, you know."

I continued to speak as if he hadn't said anything. "If you're that worried, come with." He raised a brow and I shrugged, grabbing my newly replaced phone from my pocket and scrolling through the contacts. "You look human enough, so all we have to do is get you some clothes to wear and you'll be fine. You can occupy a table all day, no one will say anything." Before he could say anything, I was holding my phone up to my ear and waiting patiently.

A few seconds later, the ringing stopped. "What do you want now, Kate?"

"Taj! Good to hear your voice too!" He groaned loudly in my ear and I laughed. "Look, I'm gonna stop by your apartment later. You home?"

"Yeah, I just got in." Taj hummed thoughtfully and then he was yelling. "Dammit Katie, do you still have that key to my place? Is that why my shirts are going missing?"

Personally, I felt offended by his accusations. "That's rude to say, Taj. I kept the key just in case you needed me to water your plants while you were away."

"I don't have plants, dumbass."

"And besides," I pressed on, still miffed at his words before. "Ingrid has a key too." His words were garbled as I think he pulled the phone away from his ear and rambled for a good minutes before bringing it back up and asking what I needed. "Uh...some clothes?"

His yell was comical. "Don't you have enough?"

"Ah, I need pants too. Look, I'll explain when I get there, okay?" I don't know why, but explaining everything to him over the phone seemed...wrong in a way. Revealing I had a demon by my side for the past four days seemed like the kind of think one was supposed to do in person.

After a quick goodbye, we hung up and I hopped out of bed. Agro peered at me from the corner of his eye and almost seemed disappointed. "You believe telling your human friend that you are linked to a demon is a good idea?"

"I could just leave out the whole linked thing, right? He doesn't need to know that." I shrugged and grabbed a hoodie from my closet, pulling it over my head and then throwing my hair up into a bun. "Besides, Taj is my best friend. Not telling him seems like a wrong thing to do."

Agro said nothing else as he followed me downstairs. I took extra care to be quiet, though it seemed Agro did it effortlessly. I listened in and heard that my parents were in the living room. With a yank of his wrist, I pulled Agro down the rest of the stairs and shoved him in the direction of the front door.

Calling out to my parents, I grabbed the keys and hoped they wouldn't come and see me off. "I'm heading to Taj's place! Might be home late!"

"Drive safe, baby!" Mom answered for both of them as I barreled out the door, shoving Agro along with me.

He looked around curiously as we got in my car, and seemed rather intrigued by every little thing inside of it. "This is the first time I am leaving your home, Katherine." I nodded, not really paying attention as I buckled up and pulled out of the driveway quickly lest my dad look out the window and see a half naked man in the passenger seat. "I have been around automobile before, but never one as shitty as yours."

"Hey!" I reached over and smacked his arm, momentarily forgetting that he was a demon that would likely be angered by the action. He took it in stride however as he simply gave me a bored look. "My automobile is nice! She's been through a lot with me, so don't insult her."

He quirked a brow and looked around it once more. "Your automobile is...female?"

I couldn't help but laugh, stopping at a red light and turning to give him a grin. "Dude, all cars are females. Just like all boats are females." He seemed genuinely confused by this, which only brought more laughter on my end. "And please call them cars. If you keep saying automobile, you'll stick out worse than you already do."

Taj, at first, looked happy to see me. He engulfed me in a hug that was warm and smelled like the cologne he always used. A kiss was pressed to the top of my head and he was smiling when he pulled back.

But then he caught sight of the loincloth clad man behind me, and his dark skin suddenly got too pale to be considered healthy. I genuinely feared that he would faint and, in an attempt to prevent this, grabbed his shoulder and forced his focus back to me. "Hey now, don't go fainting on me, Taj. I need you, man."

"Katie, what the hell have you gotten yourself into?"

He was shoved into the apartment, myself and Agro following as he stumbled back and looked between the two of us once again. It was in that moment that I realized I was much shorter than the demon, only reaching his bicep, and maybe that was what spurned the most fear out of Taj? I mean, he was only a few inches taller than myself, so that made Agro much taller than the both of us. If could also have been the scribbles (sigils, he told me after I asked him about then) that adorned his chest, though that wouldn't make much sense, seeing as how Taj himself was covered in ink on his arms and chest and back.

No, now that I followed the direction of his eyes, I saw that it was Agro's slit pupils that brought the most fear out of my friend.

"Look, Taj, I need your help."

I had planned to explain everything to him, not for that whole 'because he's my best friend' bullshit, but because I really needed someone to vent to about all of this. There was an actual demon living in my room and I had been forced to hide him like a puppy found on the streets for almost a week now. Anyone would have gone crazy without being able to tell someone, and I was starting to feel a bit of cabin fever and was quite thankful that my small vacation from work would be over the next day.

Taj, however, heard the word demon and saw me gesture to Agro and completely lost his shit.

"Time the fuck out!" He held his hands in the typical timeout position and closed his eyes a moment to get a breath. When he looked back to me, I could tell he was a little angry from the set of his brows. "Let me get this straight; he's a demon. Like a real life, lives in Hell kind of demon." He wasn't asking, but I nodded anyway. He threw his hands up in the air and gestured wildly to Agro, causing the demon to raise his eyebrow. "And you just let him in my fucking apartment?!"

I could see the problem easily. Who would want to have a demon in their house? I mean, I sure as hell didn't at first, but I was kind of used to him, as terrible as it sounded. What was this doing for my chances of going to heaven? Would I end up in hell with Agro by the end of my life? How was hell anyway?

Shaking these thoughts from my mind, I turned back to Taj and placed my hands on my hips, forming a stern expression on my face I learned from watching Ingrid as she ordered people around. "I brought him here because I need to bring him to work tomorrow and he can't walk around naked."

"So the demon needs my clothes." Taj sounded almost too calm now as he said this, and I narrowed my eyes slightly to study his face. Were those tears welling up or just my imagination? He turned around swiftly and headed to his bedroom, leaving Agro and I to follow silently as he muttered to himself so quietly I couldn't hear him. Finally, when he got to his closet, he turned to look at Agro for the first time. "Is it bring your demon to work day tomorrow?"

Agro merely gave a quick upturn on the corner of his mouth before leaning down over my shoulder, his lips too close to my ear as he spoke. "I do believe you have given your friend here quite a shock."

I shrugged, looking at him from the corner of my eye as I responded just as quietly. "He's taking it way better than I did." My mind went back to the day I found Agro in my room and how utterly terrified I had been that he would kill me. His thoughts must have went the same direction because his lips quirked up into a smile again. I turned to Taj, stepping towards him as he kneeled in his closet and searched for a pair of shoes to lend the demon that had made himself comfortable on a chair sitting Indian style. I knelt beside him and leaned my head on his shoulder. "If it makes you feel any better, I didn't summon him on purpose."

At this time, Taj allowed me to explain the events that led to Agro being summoned from hell. How hard it was hiding the demon from my parents, which lead to me asking if we could crash here for the night. Taj, already showing signs of exhaustion and stress, didn't care if we took the living room for the night as he produced an outfit for tomorrow for the demon.

Agro took the clothing in his overly large hands and we both got a clear look at his nails. "We should clip those..." Taj muttered, cocking his head to the side and leaning in for a better look. He then took off into the bathroom and I heard him rummaging through drawers while Agro looked over his new clothing.

The pants, dark jeans that had been bought for Taj by my mom, were always too long on him, so it made sense for Agro to receive them. He would be able to wear them without having to roll them three or four times at the bottom. Similarly, the shirt he received was plain grey, also too large on Taj. I can't remember the reasons he bought the shirt in the first place, but I think it had something to do with a mistake at the shipping company that delivered it. Taj had just been too lazy to return it and often allowed me to wear it to sleep when I stayed over.

"Katherine," I met Agro's eyes and gave him a questioning look as he set the clothes down on the bed and met my gaze. "I require food." And his stomach gave a loud grumbled heard even my Taj as he poked his head out of the bathroom with an incredulous look.

"He eats?"

"Trust me," I shook my head as I pulled out my phone and started to look online for some food to order for dinner for the three of us. "I was just as surprised as you are."

Pizza arrived in record time, a food that Agro, despite having come up from hell on numerous occasions (according to his own words) had never eaten. He liked it, eating several pieces to himself while Taj and I ate two pieces each. Neither of us were brave enough to tell him that we were still hungry when everything was all eaten, and we settled on snacking a little bit through the rest of the night while talking. Agro retired to the living room area, sitting down and leaning back against the couch while Taj and I laid in his bed and relaxed.

"Should I be worried?" He asked as the clock on his nightstand neared eleven, readjusting himself under the weight of my leg that was thrown casually over his stomach. I hummed, looking up to him through half-asleep eyes and frowned. "I mean, are you safe with...him? He's not gonna kill you, right?"

I snorted, lifting myself up and sitting back on my feet, leaning over him with a grin. "So sweet that you're worried, Taj!" He shoved my shoulder, but he was serious. The set of his brows and the hard glint in his eyes told me that much. "I'll be fine. He already assured me that he won't kill me."

"And you believe him?"

I gave a shrug. "He gave me no reason not to trust him." Taj opened his mouth, but I beat him to the punch and covered his mouth. "Yes, even though he's a demon, I believe him." Because we were linked. He couldn't kill me, unless he himself wanted to die as well. Though Taj didn't know that part. I looked at the clock once again and gave a large yawn, shoving up off the bed and stretching. "I'll head to bed. Gimme a pillow."

Agro was leaning against the couch still when I emerged from the bedroom, eyes shut and breathing deeply. He didn't move when I set myself up on the couch behind him, laying the pillow at the one end and crawling on, pulling the sheet over my body and giving a contented sigh. Sleep quickly washed over me after I made sure the alarm on my phone was set to the right time.

The next day had been uneventful, to say the least. I woke up to Agro already being awake, sitting in the same spot and his face set in a scowl while he seemed to mull something over. Taj still slept in his room while I got ready for work, pulling on a pair of jeans and a black v-neck in the bathroom. Teeth brushed, hair pulled up, and light makeup applied, I was prepared for work.

When I emerged from the bathroom, the most eventful thing happened in the form of Agro standing ready to go in his borrowed clothes. I had to admit, the demon looked pretty good in a shit and jeans, and would have to convince him to wear them more often than not. Especially since that loincloth really did nothing to hide him from view most of the time.

Work itself went by slowly. Agro occupied the table closest to the server stand, casually sipping on some water that only needed to be refilled twice before he asked if he could try some coffee. He had never drank the beverage before and, after watching me down almost a whole pot to myself, wondered if it was any good. It was not, he concluded with a disgusted look on his face as he immediately handed the cup back and watched with horror as I drank it all down before bringing it into the kitchen. It had been quite busy, considering it was a Friday and all, and Agro really got a chance to take in everything that I did at work, which he commented on all of it being rather annoying with the screaming children and needy customers.

There was, however, one incident in which one woman, a regular customer that I hardly ever served, caused a scene about not paying the gratuity that was required since she had more than six people at her table. She said a few choice words to me before I wandered back into the kitchen and hid while my manager took care of everything, eventually opting to take off the gratuity, which was only about seven dollars, and paying me from the register after she left. It was decided she would not be allowed to come back in the future because really, she pulled this stunt every time her and her family came in to eat.

And before I knew it, after what felt like twelve weeks, my shift was over and I was loading myself and Agro into the car a little past 10:30. He seemed indifferent about everything while I stifled several yawns on the way home, only speaking when we passed the last light before turning into my neighborhood.

"I could have killed that woman."

The air in the car grew heavy at his words, a chill running up my spine as I glanced at him from the corner of my eyes and saw that this wasn't some sort of twisted sense of humor leading him to say these words. He was completely serious about killing the woman who had caused the scene and cussed me out. I turned my gaze away sharply when he looked at me from the corner of his own eyes, focusing my tear filled gaze on the road once more. This was the side of Agro that scared me. The part that reminded me that he was, in fact, a demon and could drop people at the snap of his fingers. He had made this kind of comment before, when we were sitting in my bedroom and I received a call from my dad that resulted in a shouting match between the two of us before I angrily hung up. He offered to make him have an 'accident', nothing serious, but perhaps a broken bone or two. But this -- he was offering to take someone's life on my behalf.

"I believe if I were to end the life of one person who has brought any kind of harm your way, be it physical or emotional, the link will be severed."

His words had me thinking. On the one hand, I could have the link gone with the death of simply one person. Maybe. On the other hand, there would be the death of a person on my hands. And that, even if I hadn't done it directly, would affect me for the rest of my life. And I couldn't live with that.

Shaking my head, I pulled into the driveway and killed the ignition, resting my hands on the steering wheel and leaning my forehead against them. "I'm not going to have you kill someone." I chanced a peek in his direction and was relieved to see he was focusing his gaze on the house in front of us. "I don't need you to. Just...get in contact with one of your friends and get us un-linked. You have enough energy now, right?"

Agro said nothing for a long time. We made it up to my room unseen by either of my parents who were sitting in the living room watching a movie, and I was finished with my shower before he spoke. Towel wrapped around my body, I fished through my drawers for some underwear when he spoke, very close behind me and scaring me enough to jump.

"I will try tomorrow." His voice was very quiet, and if I didn't know better, I would say he sounded worried about having to contact anyone. And maybe he was. It's not like I knew everything about demons and what they did, and I didn't even know who he was or what he did in hell. I turned to look at him, frowning at the loincloth that once again covered his lower half, and nodded. "We will need to be alone in the house to do so."

I gulped, not quite liking the sound of that one, but pretending I understood this by nodding again and looking to my door. "Both my parents have work tomorrow. Dad'll be gone all day and mom will leave around noon."

"We will need to summon a demon here for assistance in breaking the link." Again, I nodded. "You are prepared to meet another one?"

I snorted and headed back into the bathroom, looking over my shoulder with a shit eating grin. "What, like you would let anything happen to me. It'll be your ass too, ya know."

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