Keep Your Enemies Close
Zoe ignored the greed demon. She didn’t feel like seeing him, but that didn’t mean he was done.
“You didn’t tell anyone what you’re planning to do. You’re lucky Iaosur is a blabber mouth.”
Avoiding Mehrdir was not the best choice. He knew a lot since he was working under her so called brother, but she didn’t need new information. She had already learned enough to make her understand what was going on in Hell.
He grabbed her arm tightly when she walked past him. He didn’t want her to escape easily and he had a few things he wanted to discuss with her.
“You don’t have to worry about my safety. I can manage. You’re only a guardian, so don’t act like—”
Her eyes widened when he pulled her closer and kissed her.
That was such a shock for both of them, but mostly for the human who witnessed it coincidentally. He covered his eyes and walked back in her room.
“I saw nothing!” Ezekiel screamed once he had closed the door behind him.
Mehrdir didn’t care if Ezekiel saw or not. He realised how differently he started to see Zoe throughout the years he’d been around her.
For a demon, caring for something more than just itself was rare and almost impossible. Even more, he was a greed demon. His whole being wasn’t allowed to care for anything but itself, but he did care; he started to care so much that it annoyed him and he tried to get away from it. He asked Eneizar to come and take over but he couldn’t stay away and wait to see how the story would unfold. Mehrdir had to be there, by her side, as her guardian demon. Beelzebub gave him a mission and he failed it.
“I—That—I—M—” She was speechless.
She didn’t expect that to come from someone like Mehrdir. He never showed any sign of something human developing in him.
“I’m confused,” she admitted.
“Not as confused as I am.”
For him, it was something new and hard to achieve. Actually, it wasn’t an achievement as much as it was a disappointment. He was a demon, and demons don’t care.
He grabbed her neck carefully and leaned his forehead against hers. They were staring at each other in silence with the same amount of intensity, and neither knew what was going on between them because that problem had never risen.
“I’m still going, Mehrdir. I need this.”
He sighed and took a few steps back.
“Whatever,” he mumbled, trying to sound like he didn’t care.
Mehrdir disappeared and left her alone in the living room. She looked down at the sign on her palm and saw it shining an orange colour, just like the time Beelzebub was around.
“Are you sure you want to leave everything behind?”
Suzy was curious how Zoe could make up her mind so fast. They just met and she decided to leave her comfortable apartment for a house of darkness.
After her confusing meeting with Mehrdir—which left an imprint in her mind—she grabbed her unpacked luggage and sneaked out of the apartment. She left a note for Ezekiel, but she was sure Iaosur could act like a messenger since they were still bound.
“I’m not leaving anything behind. Just because I’m leaving now, doesn’t mean I won’t come back later.”
Suzy tilted her head and watched Zoe curiously. She was definitely one of the fittest people to take on the role; she deserved it, and she was going to bring that title to another level.
Zoe left on July thirteenth, a Monday evening. She didn’t come back after a few hours, like Ezekiel and Rowan predicted. She didn’t come back after a month, like Iaosur and Eneizar bet. Mehrdir was probably the only one who knew she wasn’t going to return in a short time.
“I’m worried. Why aren’t you worried? Everyone is worried!” Ezekiel was exaggerating. She told him all those nice things and then she left. “And I was so stupid that I didn’t read between the lines! She used something so cliché, and I didn’t see it.”
Eneizar rolled his eyes. He’d heard the puppy human complain and blame himself for too long now.
“Just calm down. It’s been two months. She will return when she will be sure she finished whatever she does.”
Rowan scoffed and looked at the demon warily. “I wouldn’t bet my money on what a pride demon says.”
Eneizar and Iaosur stared at each other menacingly. Those two were bickering a lot lately and it was mostly for random reasons.
Iaosur noticed Mehrdir staring out the window longingly. He smirked and wrapped an arm around him.
“So you finally noticed that ‘love was in the air’?” Mehrdir didn’t respond to Iaosur’s taunting. “We all knew it was going to end like that, even Hiset. He backed down before something like this could happen, but you—you liked her before you got assigned, didn’t you?” He didn’t even glance at the angst demon. “Let’s be blunt, Mehrdir. You changed your master because of her. You’ve been watching her ever since she started to see ghosts. You’ve gotten her in trouble because you enjoyed seeing her squirm. You made her think she was helpless, but then something happened. She got a guardian and that guardian was doing his job well. If she had been human, you would have made the same mistake as the Devil.”
That hit a sensitive spot.
“You don’t know anything.” He was pretty calm for someone who got the most offensive statement of his endless and pitiful existence. “I heard Mammon and Lucifer talk about the next commander. It was a girl who was too fragile and too happy. I was curious to see her but I didn’t expect her to grow up into what she is now. I didn’t mess with her life, I only made it better. I prepared her for her title.”
“But when you became her guardian, you didn’t tell her anything,” Iaosur continued, making Mehrdir look to the side. “You got her in trouble, you almost killed her on numerous occasions and you sent her humans instead of protecting her from herself. She wasn’t going to live like that for long, anyway. One day, she was bound to want to know more than what you showed to her.”
The greed demon narrowed his eyes at Iaosur, gritting his teeth.
“You didn’t prepare her for anything. You got drawn to her and it got so big that you couldn’t stop when you had the chance.” The angst demon leaned over Mehrdir shoulder before he continued. “You crossed the boundary, and you will pay for that,” he whispered coldly.
Mehrdir knew what he had gotten himself into. Unfortunately, he got in so deep that it became impossible to get out. He didn’t care what was going to happen to him as long as she was going to fulfil her side of the prophecy. Therefore, as long as she was alive and well, Mehrdir was not going to back off.
Zoe didn’t return home the next month, or the next. Ezekiel was worried at first, but he had to get on with his life somehow.
University began and he had to face his friends every day and tell them that his girlfriend was very busy. Mark rung at the door a few times and every time, someone different responded. First was Rowan, who tried to act civilised. Next was Eneizar, who wanted to have some fun. In the end, Mark caught Ezekiel when he was leaving for school.
“It might not be my business, but why are there so many guys living there?” he asked, pointing at Zoe’s apartment.
Ezekiel glanced at her door before he sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.
“She went home for a while. She hadn’t seen her parents in almost a year and they went on a break to Europe.”
That was the best lie he could come up with. It was the best one because it was hard to combat since everyone knew her parents were rich and could afford a trip to Europe.
“But why are there so many guys living in her apartment while she’s gone?”
Ezekiel placed a hand on Mark’s shoulder and smiled.
“Relatives are a pain in the ass, aren’t they?” Ezekiel joked, forcing a smile.
“So all those men are her relatives?”
Ezekiel nodded. He was getting really good at coming up with random stories to cover her ass.
“Yes. They’re cousins.”
Mark didn’t seem to believe anything Ezekiel said, but he didn’t have any alternative.
Three months passed very quickly. One year passed even quicker. Ezekiel and Rowan were doing everything they could to make people believe their lies but that was easy only for the first few months. Chen used his family’s connections to find her, but that proved to be impossible. She hasn’t used her credit cards or her phone at all.
The one who asked a lot of questions about her was Jake. He was curious mostly because it was rather weird not having her pop up from time to time. She persuaded him into becoming sort of friends and asked him a lot of indiscreet questions about him and Andy.
Ever since Zoe left, Andrew nudged Ezekiel to become friends with Jake in order to find out what exactly she told him. That was easy because Jake’s best friend, Stephen, was good friends with Chen.
“So this is like a boys’ night out?” Stephen was childish and reminded him a lot of Gabriel.
“That sounds girly. We’re just hanging out like men,” Chen stated. Ezekiel and Jake rolled their eyes.
While the guys were having fun and drinking, Andy was standing in front of the store. He missed Zoe and he felt guilty for ignoring her just before she left. He glanced through the window at Jake and smiled when he saw him smiling. Andy’s one-sided feelings had nothing to do with his death; it was an unfortunate event and he became a victim of stupidity, and that wasn’t Jake’s fault. It was true, he did haunt his friend at first but only because he didn’t know where else to go. He thought Jake would believe that his soul was still around, but he wasn’t a believer and Andy had to back off silently.
That was when he found Zoe. He knew who she was and knew she had a lot on her plate, but he never expected her to have Mehrdir around or to take a demon’s side, no matter what.
The ghost chuckled to himself when he remembered the twisted relationship between her and the demon. Zoe was a weird girl, but developing a crush on a demon was a whole new level. She was never safe around him and he stopped counting just how many times the greed demon made her life complicated, but she never blamed him. She never judged him, and that only evolved over time. She was oblivious to her feelings, but Andy wasn’t. He was quite happy when a new demon came around and changed the atmosphere in the house. Eneizar was watching Zoe, and he was telling Beelzebub everything.
Mehrdir’s break was nothing but a getaway from Zoe.
But Mehrdir couldn’t keep the distance. He craved to be around her, just like a puppy.
Andy appeared in front of the window and leaned his forehead against the glass. He smiled again when he saw Jake hit Stephen and hid his face in embarrassment.
One sudden energy made Andy freeze. He turned his head around very slowly to see what was emitting that kind of energy and noticed a shadow trickling on the corner of the McDonald’s building. He walked there only to see that the shadow was moving slowly towards the back and followed it curiously. It was midday. What could happen?
Well, it did happen. The shadow disappeared and the ghost screamed. The pain was unbelievable. Ghosts weren’t supposed to get hurt in the first place. There was nothing on Earth that could touch, let alone hurt, a ghost.
A person came closer to him and chuckled. That person could see him and the ghost immediately recognised him.
“So it was you. I thought I was being suspicious for nothing, but it is indeed you.” The ghost glared at his former classmate.
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, Andrew.”
The older man chuckled and showed Andy the remote he was holding in his left hand. He pushed the button on it and the ghost screamed again and fell to his knees.
“Prepare yourself mentally. You’re coming to a very, very dark place,” the man continued before he pushed the button again, making Andrew hiss in pain.
The guys were still drinking when Ezekiel walked out for a breath of air. Jake followed a few moments later.
“Those guys talk too much about uninteresting stuff,” the younger man stated. If Stephen and Chen were bad, Eneizar and Iaosur were worse. “Have you heard anything from Zoe?”
“Why do you care?” Ezekiel smirked. “Do you miss having her stalk you?”
“A little. It’s been very silent without her nagging me. And she wasn’t even talking about something interesting. It was always about Andy.” Ezekiel’s smirk dropped instantly at the mention of the ghost. “I don’t understand why she was so curious to know what my relationship with him was.”
“Because she met him. They were friends,” the puppy human explained as simply as possible.
Jake glanced at the older guy with such a poker face that Ezekiel understood why Zoe was so annoyed with him.
“Andy told her about you. She wanted to hear you talking about him too. She was curious what you thought of him,” Ezekiel continued.
“He was my friend. He died. That’s the end.”
Ezekiel tilted his head to the side and stared at Jake grudgingly.
“Is it?” Jake narrowed his eyes at the singer. “Just because he died, doesn’t mean his memory disappeared. Did Andrew mean so little to you that you chose to forget everything about him?”
“I didn’t forget anything about him. If anything, I still feel him around me, watching me dance.”
Ezekiel clicked his tongue and thought carefully about what he was going to do.
“Have you ever thought that maybe he is indeed watching you from the other side?” He threw a look at Ezekiel that showed just how stupid that idea was. “I believe in ghosts and I know that Andy’s residual energy is still around you. Just think about it. You were the closest person he had. He told you everything. He didn’t even think about his parents when he died. No. He thought about you and what was going to happen to you.”
Jake found Ezekiel’s words stupid and worthless and he assured he was going to get his message through. “It doesn’t matter anymore. He’s gone. As long as I can’t talk or touch him, he’s gone.”
Jake walked back inside the restaurant in a bad mood. Ezekiel remained outside, rubbing his eyes and sighing heavily.
It was time to go home. Chen was drunk and so was Jake, surprisingly.
“What did you two talk about? He came back and started to drink without measure.”
Ezekiel glared at Jake’s figure. Stephen had one hand wrapped around him, to keep him on his feet. Luckily, Chen could still walk on his own.
“Nothing. Just random things.”
Stephen glanced at Ezekiel warily. “Did you say something about Andrew?”
The brunette frowned. He was discovered.
“Damn. He’s always sulking when it comes to Andy. I wish that little scary guy could come back to talk and make Jake understand that it wasn’t his fault.”
“Take care what you wish for. It might become real.”
They were only a few feet from the pub when Jake fell on his face, forcing Ezekiel to grab his other arm. While doing that, the brunette noticed someone standing in the back, watching them. He dropped Jake’s arm and left him entirely on his best friend.
Ezekiel and Chen glanced at each other before they turned to make sure it was her. She smiled cutely and waved at them.
“Zoe Lestrade!” Chen screamed and jumped on her. He wrapped his hands around her and patted her back. He frowned when he noticed something. “Did you work out?”
She scoffed and pushed him off her.
“Is she someone you know?” asked Stephen. The older human was frozen; he couldn’t believe it. She returned exactly the way she left—unexpectedly.
“She’s an idiot who left a year ago without telling anyone.”
“Oh.” Stephen’s mouth formed a perfect circle.
Ezekiel walked towards her and they stared at each other. She didn’t look different at all. She was dressed in a different style, but that was all.
“We have to talk, Zek,” she started in a serious tone.
“You think so?” He scowled and glared at her, his words dripping with sarcasm.
She bit her lower lip and hugged him. He gulped and stood in the middle of the street with no idea what to do.
“I missed you, too.”
She sighed happily and wrapped her arms tighter around his skinny body.