Did You or Did You Not?
The crew was already at the restaurant, waiting for her. When she got there, a tall -and visibly more handsome than before- guy wrapped his arms around her in a loose hug.
"Caleb. It's been a while."
He nodded and walked with her back to the table. Suzy was there with the old inheritor.
Zoe smiled and bowed; he was someone she admired and respected.
"Just sit, child. Don't draw attention to us." The older man whispered in an authoritarian tone.
The blue eyed woman nodded and sat on the chair across the elder.
"Do you know why we are here, Zoe?" The elder asked, leaning towards her.
"To visit me?" The old inheritor raised an eyebrow at her response, "Or not." She mumbled before glancing at Suzy. "Is it about the inheritor?"
"Did you find him?" The elder asked, his eyes narrowing at the commander.
That was the questions, wasn’t it? She had to measure her words carefully.
"No." Zoe didn't even twitch. She was lying as if it wasn't that serious, "I didn't feel anything and didn't see anything special."
The old man nodded and sighed heavily.
Caleb looked at Zoe and noticed the wrinkles on her forehead.
"Are you worried about something?" The man asked.
She didn't expect him to ask her that.
"I told Ezekiel that he is my legacy."
The three turned to look at her quizzically before Suzy commented, "Why would you do that? He is not family nor your son."
"But he has my sign on his forearm. He made a pact with the devil and I am in charge of it."
The master blinked slowly and registered the words and tone she used, "Did you place Beelzebub's sign or yours?"
Suzy and Caleb were surprised that she had a different sign in the first place. Zoe bit her lower lip and fidgeted.
"Mine." She mumbled guiltily.
The old inheritor laughed and asked for another coffee. With one glance at Suzy and Caleb, the elder sent a silent message- they were to leave the two alone. Naturally, the two youngsters retreated to another table.
"He is only a mere human but he is precious for other people." The older man started, "Other people mean his family and friends. People who are not you. What you do is dangerous and is getting his soul through mud."
"Why? Just because I took him under my wing?"
"You enslaved him! And he doesn't even know it. His feelings may not affect you much but your emotions will make him go crazy. That's how the endless knot works. Endless connection to your master." He took care to emphasize the last word.
"I can bend some rules." Zoe said in her defence.
"Bend but not break." The elder advised.
Zoe nodded; she already knew and went through that.
"So, you really didn't find the inheritor?"
Caleb wanted to stay and talk to Zoe more therefore, Suzy was the one to take the gramps home. She wasn't happy at all and was glaring at everything on the way to the car.
"Why? Did you?" Caleb seemed anxious, "Did you?" Zoe repeated but this time, in a quiet voice. He was sweating.
"I have a hunch but I'm not sure. That's why I'd like if you could come and check it out."
She tilted her head to the side, "Now?"
Caleb shook his head, "No. Next week, I have to take someone from the airport. He comes from Japan."
"My younger brother, Jasper."
It was her turn to sweat over the matter. Caleb was the elder brother in the family and was also the grandchild of the old inheritor. He had good reasons to be worried for his little brother, especially after so many tries on forcefully becoming the young inheritor.
It was Sunday morning and she was dead tired after she had the most serious and intense talk with Ezekiel. When her phone rang, she was ready to throw it away; but she couldn't do that. Instead, she responded.
He started in a bright tone, way too joyful for a morning.
It was Dan, she could immediately recognize his voice.
Actually, that morning wasn't good for her. She mumbled something incoherent but the older man only chuckled.
"I'm going to church today. Do you want to come?"
"Church?" She asked, getting up and rubbing her head groggily, "Sure..." Zoe trailed thinking that it may not be as bad as it sounded.
"Great! Meet me in front of the store. It's not far from there."
She agreed and hung up even though she hasn't been in a church in a long time. She knew exactly how to dress and how to act but it was still so weird.
Zoe met him in front of his store and they started to walk towards the church. Daniel seemed very content for some reason.
"I didn't think you would agree to come."
She chuckled nervously,"I haven't been to church ever since my mother forced me to enter one in Italy."
Even back then, she knew something was wrong because the priest was eyeing her. Once she stepped inside that sanctuary, she felt her breath hitch and her hands and feet became cold; it was like she entered a disinfection room and she was getting cleaned up, except it wasn't going well.
"Well, is good we're going now, isn't it?"
Of course, it was going to fail miserably.
Once she placed her foot on holy ground, she started to feel really uncomfortable. There wasn't any force making her sick or anything, she was just scared that there might be. Much like she used to say, the simple idea of being judged by God was intimidating.
Zoe closed her eyes and concentrated on the image that churches had for every human. It was a sacred place and she had to remind herself that nothing was going to happen and she was overreacting.
Dan walked forward, since he knew the priest so she remained alone, feeling the eyes of old ladies boring into the back of her head.
"Is that Daniel's new girlfriend?"
"Is she? She doesn't seem faithful. And doesn't seem to know where she is either,"
She was used to people staring at her from the side and labeling without really knowing what they were talking about but it was still uncomfortable; they weren't hiding the fact that they were openly judging her either, they were quite proud of doing it.
"Is she from a good family?"
Her confidence was dropping considerably with each passing minute.
Zoe noticed Dan walking out but he got stopped by an old lady with her daughter. Zoe was seriously feeling like the bad character in a stupid cliche drama.
The young commander was growing annoyed when she felt someone grab her hand. She looked quickly to the side but saw no one. However, she started to feel that soothing feeling again; she was getting so serene that it scared her.
"Hey! Sorry it took so long. Let's go in," Dan grabbed the same hand and pulled her in.
It didn't feel the same.
"Are you alright?"
Zoe wasn't feeling anything. At first, she thought something would happen since she was a demon and already went to Hell a few times but no fire, no earthquake and nothing insignificant happened; everything was fine except the angels. The pictures looked mean; like they were glaring at her or scoffing at her presence there. She swore she saw an angel change his expression and it was extremely weird.
A few minutes later she felt that energy coming around her again, engulfing her. Zoe looked over her shoulder and swore she saw Mehrdir's back. Her heart started to beat faster and felt the anticipation of a spontaneous meeting.
"I'll come back before it starts. There's someone I know here," Zoe mumbled before running the same direction she noticed his back, "A dead end?" She stopped in front of the confession box, sighing in disappointment.
She wasn't paying attention to her surroundings so she didn't see the man walking out of the shadows. He covered her mouth and dragged her into the box.
"Don't yell. We don't want to be caught now, do we?"
It was the same tall guy whom she had seen in front of the Daniel’s store.
"I wasn't going to,"
The stranger knew that or else he wouldn't have uncovered her mouth.
“Who are you?” She was very calm for someone who just got abducted.
Well, she didn’t exactly get abducted. The guy got them out of the confession box and started to walk in a nearby park.
“Not who you were expecting,”
She stared at him blankly. Somehow, he was familiar; he was tall, had black halos that made him look like a panda yet he was still handsome. Something about him was dark like he had this kind of negativity around him, especially around his head. The stranger blinked once and smirked smugly, plunging his hands deep into his jacket's pockets before chuckling darkly.
Zoe remembered that chuckle and from that point on, she knew who she was talking to.
“Be-“ He stopped her by placing one thumb over his lips, “How should I call you here?” She lowered her voice, not yet prepared to spontaneously scream his name in a park on a quiet sunny morning.
“John. I like that name and this body, too,”
She sighed and continued to watch her master walking like nothing bad was happening in the world.
“It’s such a sunny day. Makes me all positive and happy. Don’t you think so too?” He was sarcastic.
A demon was never happy and positive.
“No.” Her response came quickly.
John batted his eyelids at her and smirked.
“Of course not. Here you are, with me, instead of looking for your little lover boy,” She narrowed her eyes at him and crossed her arms in front of her chest, expecting the continuation, “I know everything that happens in my orchard, Zoe. Do you think I didn’t know why Mehrdir left Mammon and came to me? He begged to work under me.” His smirk widened before he repeated what he found most important, “He begged.”
“You knew,” She was frazzled, “You knew he was obsessed with me and you sent him to me as my guardian?”
He shrugged, “It was obvious. His obsession with the commander only amplified after he saw you,” The demon prince chuckled darkly, “A young, little girl from a rich family; so pure, so perfectly easy to break. He did it.”
“And you let him,” She was annoyed. “You let him break me.”
“I did tell Hiset to keep an eye on you but Mehrdir is a sly bastard. When he saw Hiset’s eyes soften at the sight of your face, he came to me and gave me all these bullshit reasons to change your guardian. And I did. I sent him.”
She bit the inside of her cheek and felt a knot in her stomach.
“But his obsession faded away once he started to know you; the human Zoe. He started to get you in big trouble but he was the one who got you out of it too. Mehrdir got fond of you and your little, pathetic human life. He asked out.”
“And what did you do?”
He smiled and eyed her like a mischievous bastard.
“Nothing. I’m curious how this will turn out now. My hands are tied. You changed his sign. The endless knot is the sign of the commander, not Beelzebub’s. My knot is open while yours is not.” She frowned, the demon chuckling bemusedly, “And you even signed that human boy. You want him to be your legacy? Ha!”
“Is this the reason you came all the way to Middle Earth? To annoy me?”
He inspected her; Zoe's eyes were changing from their original color to yellow and back, giving him the impression that she may lose control any minute. He was curious for how long exactly she could control herself.
“They’re coming,” Beelzebub started, “That cult is coming here. You need to find the inheritor before they do.”
“What if I don’t?”
John raised an eyebrow and hardly kept the widening smirk off his face.
“I’m not stupid, Zoe. I know you already met him in Japan. Don’t tell anyone until you make him realize who he is.” He mumbled, leaning towards her.
“If the story is correct, won’t he take Lucifer’s place as the Loved One if he dies?”
John’s smirk dropped; his face looked grim, dead, just like a demon’s.
“Lucifer doesn’t want the inheritor to live but he doesn’t want him dead either.”
Zoe knew that. She kind of figured that out when she saw how much he wanted the inheritor to be found. Yet, Asmodeus didn’t seem too happy about it; they weren’t acting like their reign was hanging on that soul.
“That’s why you have to protect him. Over the years, the commander and the inheritor got stuck together and eventually, married each other.”
“Just to protect each other?” He nodded,“But demons protected me and I’m sure there are demons protecting him, as well.”
“But what kind of demons?”
Her eyes widened when she realized where he was going with that idea.
“Not Lucifer’s demons.” He applauded her ironically. She finally figured it out, “But that means you don’t want the inheritor to die because then Lucifer will kill him or send him somewhere and torture him forever. You don’t want him to die!” She was getting really entangled in her own theories.
“We do want him dead but not in Hell. That’s why demons protected him from the Holy Brotherhood and Lucifer.”
Zoe was getting both excited and scared. She met the vanity demon before and he was scary without doing anything.
“So you keep him alive and when he dies, you let him go to Heaven where he gets protection forever.”
He clicked his tongue and watched her. Her reactions were funny but also naive; she had to grow up as both a human and a demon for him to add her to his plans. Zoe Lestrade was precious but she was still an infant in his eyes.
“The prophecy is not about the people themselves as it is a way to keep low demons in their place and high demons content. A rebellion is not welcomed, not even in Hell.” He started, staring intensely into her bright eyes.
“Why don’t you want me to have the same fate?”
He leaned in and blinked. The yellow circle appeared in the middle of his eye, reflecting the same yellow circle in hers.
“I did. The commanders went to Heaven. All of them, except you.” He smirked before explaining further, “You already killed, didn’t you? You already visited Hell more than once; you love it so why not get you as my right hand?”
She moved her head and rubbed her neck, her head getting a bit dizzy from everything she found out from her master directly; that was suspicious.
“Shouldn’t you go back to your friend?” John suddenly changed the subject.
Her eyes widened. She completely forgot of him.
“You’ve been gone for-
She bent her head and started to feel really bad.
“You said you saw someone you knew and disappeared for two hours.” Dan repeated, making her swallow nervously.
She was feeling a lot of things but not apologetic because she found out some good information.
“I’m sorry, I got lost.”
She was a big girl and seemed like the kind of person who was independent which only made her lie worse.
“I’m just a little bit mad because you could have texted me or something but you didn’t.”
She gulped and didn’t have the guts to look into his eyes' moreover, she felt like she shouldn’t look into his eyes. She started to blink quickly and felt the same uncomfortable thing in her eye as before.
He frowned when he saw her rub her eyes, “Are you alright?”
She was tearing up, “I think something got into my eye,”
“Let me take a look,”
He took a step forward and touched her arm but she pushed him away harshly.
“No! I mean, it’s ok. I can get it out myself.”
Dan rolled his eyes and pulled her hands away from her face. He grabbed her head and kept it in one place.
“Open your eyes,”He asked her nicely yet his tone sounded firmer than before.
She felt a sudden breeze and an overwhelming energy engulf her.
“Open your eyes, Zoe. It’s fine.” She heard Mehrdir’s voice whispering into her ear.
It had so much effect on her and her actions that she actually opened her eyes and met Dan’s worried look. In his eyes, she could see her reflection and there was nothing yellow or remotely demonish on her face.
Yet at the same time, she felt disappointed. She would have preferred Mehrdir's worried face instead of Dan's. No matter how much she was encouraging herself to go with Daniel, she was stuck on the greed demon.