Briefs and Boxers
When they got there, everyone was sleeping peacefully in their tents. Ezekiel frowned when he realized he had to get Gabe in his tent.
“Just get him in silently,” she mumbled loud enough for him to hear. Ezekiel glared at her.
He couldn’t get in the tent because Luke was sleeping too close to the entrance, so Ezekiel did what he could: he dropped Gabe somewhere close to his sleeping bag but not far enough for him to actually fall on something. The noise of a dropping body was surprisingly loud.
Zoe rolled her eyes and entered her own tent. Alice was on her side, seemingly sleeping but when Zoe opened the zip to her bag, it made enough noise for Alice to open her eyes.
“Oh, you’re back. How was your adventure?”
Zoe got in bed and turned her back to Alice. She didn’t want the human girl to see just how bad it was.
“Eventless. Good night.”
She heard Alice mumble something along the same line and closed her eyes. She couldn’t shake off the feeling that maybe the others were right, and she was the commander.
In the morning, Zoe woke up with a massive headache and two demons having an intense disagreement. She kept her eyes closed and ears perked up.
“You’re reckless. Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”
She didn’t recognize that voice. It wasn’t Eneizar or Iaosur and it didn’t sound like that bulky fairy either.
“Why didn’t you?”
But the second voice was definitely Mehrdir’s. That was a relief, in a way.
“She was too young to understand how important she was. She’s not just the commander; she’s also human. We can’t ask her something that is impossible to do in her present condition.”
That voice was smooth and sounded way nicer than the other demons’. It was weird because she was sure he was a demon and he didn’t feel weak at all.
“Why did you leave, then? If you care so much about her then—” The other demon stopped Mehrdir.
“That’s the problem: I cared for her. I hope you won’t make the same mistake as I did. I let my guard down and she took advantage of it, even if she did it unconsciously.”
That didn’t make much sense. If he cared for her, then she’d definitely met him before. But that was impossible—nothing about him felt familiar.
“She needs to learn.” At least they were agreeing on that. “Iaosur already found someone who can teach her how to fight, but not enough to fight us.” The older demon chuckled and glanced at her.
Zoe could feel his intense gaze and it made her shiver. She couldn’t stay like that for long so she started to stretch and move. When she opened her eyes, the demons were gone.
Outside, Alice was talking to Ezekiel while Andrew was standing behind them, watching like they were characters in a play. She ruffled her hair and rubbed her stomach, completely unfeminine.
“Morning!” She stopped her unfeminine actions and smiled. Henry waved at her before he gave her a soda. “How was your late night adventure?” he asked.
“Nothing really happened. Did Gabe wake up?”
“It’s weird. He’s sleeping so deeply. Luke made a lot of noise when he woke up and I shook him a few times but nothing.”
A sudden wave of guilt flooded her heart. Being possessed was a lot of trouble and the victim was often drained of energy at the end of it. Gabe was going to sleep for the whole day, and nothing was going to wake him up.
The second day of camping was by far more normal and boring than the first. The excitement died and so did Mark’s expectations. He had a few plans for the camp and they were all around his neighbour but Henry happened and it messed everything up.
“How’s the trip so far?” He finally found an opened door when Henry went to talk to his parents.
“It’s fun. I’m really glad you invited me, Mark. And I’m not the only one that’s grateful.”
They glanced at the lovebirds. They were happily chatting about something or another in front of what was left of the camping fire.
“At first, I thought he was your boyfriend. You two are really close.”
Zoe looked down at her hands and chuckled.
“I guess we became close. He kind of crashed into my life with a flash.” That was actually what happened. She could still remember how interested Ezekiel was in the wall and her. She tried to avoid him and make him run away but he didn’t. He stayed by her side when she got possessed and he came back even after he got possessed. “He’s a pain in the ass and always gets in trouble, but he’s loyal and instead of judging me harshly, he welcomed me brightly. I’m thankful that he’s my friend.” Zoe continued. Mark’s eyes softened when he noticed just how fond she was of Ezekiel.
Zoe liked to act cold and oblivious but she was aware of everything going on. She wanted to be a tough character like the one she created in Fallen, but she was only a girl at the end of the day. Mark wrapped one hand around her, which really shocked her, and pulled her into his chest.
“Prepare yourself then. You just stumbled upon four more pains in the ass.”
She looked up at him with her big eyes and smiled. Mark’s bright smile was enough to assure her that even if they didn’t know the truth, they were going to stick around for a while and make her life more entertaining.
Ezekiel glanced at Zoe just when Mark pulled her in his arms. He tilted his head and watched with interest.
“You care a lot for her, don’t you?”
His attention didn’t waver from her. Even if he liked Alice as a woman, Zoe was like an idiot sister.
“She doesn’t have many friends."
Alice frowned and followed his line of vision but no matter how she looked, Zoe didn’t seem the type of girl who would spend all her time indoors.
Alice raised her head towards the sky and blinked.
“This time is perfect for another session of scary stories.”
Luke was getting excited for nothing. After what happened that night, no one was in the mood to scare and be scared. Henry was probably the one who hated being scared the most. Contrary to his image, he was a softy—just like a cat.
Luke’s sulky mood lasted for a few minutes before he got another bright idea.
“Fine. Let’s just tell stories. Normal ones; not cheesy. Let’s start with Zoe and Ezekiel since they are the newcomers.”
“There’s not much to say. My name is Ezekiel and I’m an Arts student. I major in Musical and Drama and I like to spend my free time with a good friend of mine. My best friend is in hospital and he’s recuperating after a tragic accident—”
Ezekiel continued to tell his life story, but Zoe was stuck on the hospital part. His best friend was in hospital, recuperating after a tragic accident. Ezekiel was in the same university as Andrew, when he was alive. Ezekiel saw Andrew’s soul getting out of his body. He knew Andy in one way or another. She knew someone who came to her for help and who was in the same Department as Andy, in the same university. Her eyes widened when the pieces came together.
“Chen,” she mumbled.
Chen, Ezekiel and Andy were all from the same place. After Andy got sent to her, Mehrdir sent Chen and Eneizar led her to Ezekiel. While Andy was a ghost, Ezekiel had links to some suspicious people. She still didn’t know why Chen was involved but she was sure she was going to find that out soon.
“Zoe?” She looked up in time to see everyone staring at her patiently. “It’s your turn.” She looked like a deer caught in headlights.
“My name is Zoe and I’m probably older than I look. I like to draw and watch horror movies. I am an only child and I am originally from Essex. I guess that’s all.”
The guys laughed it off, but she was serious. She was older than most of them, already finished university, and it wasn’t even something about arts. Luke wasn’t satisfied with her answer, mostly because they didn’t learn anything new about her.
“What about your job?” Henry was really interested what she could do, career wise.
“I majored in Psychology since my father is a philologist. However, I never practiced it. My parents don’t know this. They think I work at a hospital and I’d like it if it would remain that way.” Everyone stared at her in astonishment.
“You majored? As in the past?” She nodded. “How old are you?” She blushed faintly.
Their eyes widened. She was far older than she looked and acted, and even Ezekiel was amazed since he never bothered to ask.
“Hey! I’m twenty-six, too! Don’t make such faces!” Alice glanced at Ezekiel to see his expression. He didn’t seem to care at all. Actually, he was far gone in ZekLand. “You should all see us as older sisters!” Zoe chuckled and leaned closer to her.
“Not everyone,” Zoe mumbled. “I’ve never been around people younger than me until now. It’s a good chance.” That quirked Henry and Mark’s interest.
“How old are your friends?” She smiled nervously and started to fidget.
“Older than I am.” She looked to the side and caught glimpse of a familiar pair of shoes. “Way older than I am,” she mumbled.
When she looked back to Mark, she saw Eneizar behind him, right in front of the entrance. He waved at her and swayed from side to side. Behind her was Mehrdir so they ended up cornering her.
“Why do I suddenly feel paranoid?” Ezekiel leaned in and asked her. She looked at him expectantly. “Oh.” He got the idea quickly. “Why am I the only one feeling it?”
“Because you know the difference. Why didn’t you tell me you know Chen?” He stared questioningly at her.
“I didn’t think it was important. Why?” She sighed and leaned back on her hands.
“He came to me when he was in a coma.” Ezekiel’s eyes widened and he shifted around. Luckily, the rest got into a heated argument about women and men’s underwear.
“When was that?”
She rubbed her chin and tried to remember.
“A few weeks ago. That stupid demon Mehrdir sent him to me.” She heard him cough behind her. “He ordered me to make friends in high places.”
“I prefer the term ‘advised’,” he commented from behind her.
“Why would Chen help you? He doesn’t have connections to magic or anything weird. If anything, he’s a troublemaker. He loves to mess around and cause—” Ezekiel stopped. He could understand why his best friend was good for her cause. “I get it now.” She waited for him to continue. “He acts like a demon in a way, but he’s not a bad guy. He’s just full of life.” He wanted to find the right adjectives for his friend.
“It doesn’t matter, because he doesn’t remember me. That’s how it goes.”
Behind her, Mehrdir rolled his eyes and moved closer.
“Just wait until he sees you,” he whispered into her ear. She shivered slightly when he breathed down her neck.
Eneizar, on the other hand, was having fun. He got very interested into what the humans were bickering about and was confused regarding the difference between briefs and boxers.
“Well, he’s better now. You can come with me next week when I go visit him.”
She wasn’t looking forward to that meeting.
The rain didn’t stop and they had to gather everything and place it in the car. Gabe was still sleeping, so they moved him in the car while Alice was going to drive them back. It was complicated to break the camp while outside was pouring, but they had help—if it could be called help. Eneizar gave a harsh gust of wind and everything fell down. Zoe glared at him, but he only gave two thumbs up. Mehrdir was standing next to Eneizar with his hands in his pockets, lazily watching the humans pack.
“This is a waste of time,” Mehrdir commented.
Eneizar nudged the greed demon and pointed towards the forest. Right there, the original guardian of Zoe was watching, looking the same as he had when she was a kid.
“That stupid demon. With all the power he has, his eyes always become soft when they land on that idiot woman,” the greed demon continued.
Eneizar raised an eyebrow and patted Mehrdir.
“Your eyes do that too,” he added.
Mehrdir glared at the smirking vanity demon but ah, for Eneizar it was just so fun.