Lucy sensed the demon a second too late. If she’d picked up on his presence a moment sooner she might have been able to avoid the knuckle sandwich to the stomach. But she hadn’t, and she doubled over with impact. A knee to the face came next.
Shit, that hurt.
Demons packed a punch, even lower level demons. Not letting them get any hits in was ideal. Taking as few shots as possible was the backup plan.
Sucking in some much needed air after that first punch had knocked it out of her, she dodged the next body part coming at her, quickly acclimated to the situation.
How many demons were there? Where were they?
She saw one. Should be easy enough to dispatch. But were there others laying in wait?
In a quick move, she retrieved the athame from her left boot. She straightened up, threw it, didn’t get a chance to watch where it landed, finding herself suddenly pinned to the side of a building with a hand at her throat. The brick scraped the skin across her upper back as she was lifted up, her feet leaving the pavement.
Ugh. Talk about bad breath. What did demons eat? Ass? And why had these two bothered to glamour themselves to look human? Generally demons didn’t socialize with humans. Except for those they killed, of course.
Lucy latched onto the beefy wrist at her throat with both hands, ignoring the demon’s breath and trying to relieve some pressure off her throat.
Propelled by her need for air, she kept a grip on the demon’s wrist with one hand, raising the other to try to use her power to get him off her.
“Ah, ah, ah.” the demon tsked, shaking her like a rag doll then slamming her against the building.
The demon she’d thrown her knife at appeared at his pal’s side, smirking.
She couldn’t wait to wipe that stupid smirk off his face...
Silver spots started blinking in her vision.
... if she got the chance.
She tried using her power again, was slammed back against the wall again, the impact jarring and painful.
There was no point teleporting while the demon had a grip on her - he’d just be teleported with her.
She needed air. Stat. Blackness was creeping into the edges of her vision. If she didn’t have a hand crushing her throat, cutting off her airway, she might have been able to recite a spell. As it was, any words she tried to get out wouldn’t be decipherable.
Think, Lucy, think.
Too bad her thinking skills were getting sketchy.
She was about to deliver a good old kick to the groin - though she doubted it would even register with the demon - when a blur of dark barrelled into the asshat choking her and she was released.
She crumpled to the ground, choking and hacking like she was a chain smoker.
Dirty city air had never smelled so good.
Raising a hand to her throat, sucking in breath after breath, she lifted her gaze from the sidewalk, took in what was going on around her.
Her brow furrowed.
Was that the wolf from last night?
It sure looked like him.
What was he doing here?
Planting a hand on the pavement in front of her, she pushed up to her feet. A growl to her left had her gaze swinging that way, landing on the smirky demon that had started this little play-date.
“You’re not going anywhere, bitch.” he hissed at her.
The little shit threw her own athame back at her.
Trying to kill her with her own weapon? That was an insult she would not let stand.
Throwing up a hand, she stopped the blade mid-air, hurried the few short steps toward it, grabbed the hilt and tossed it back.
She missed. She hardly ever missed. Now was really not the time.
A fireball the size of her head came at her, sizzling through the air.
She threw herself to the ground, managed to avoid incineration. Unfortunately, the edge of the curb did not a soft pillow make.
Skull collided with concrete...
... an instant KO.
Deklan was a couple of blocks back when the demons attacked.
His wolf growled. He cursed.
He shifted, leaving his clothes in shreds on the sidewalk, and covered the distance between him and Lucy as quickly as he could.
Going at full speed, he charged into the demon holding her up against the side of a building with a hand at her throat, knocking him off of her and sending him to the pavement. The demon got back on his feet quick enough, adopted a fighting stance, sneering at him.
Bring it on, jackass.
Deklan bared his fangs and snarled, advancing on his opponent. When he was within striking range, he lunged.
The demon kept just out of reach of his snapping teeth, that fucking sneer still on his ugly face.
Deklan attacked again. Another swing and a miss. The demon didn’t make any offensive moves.
What the fuck?
His wolf huffed with irritation, his brow furrowed... cleared when he realized the deal.
The demon was just keeping him busy, serving as decoy, giving his buddy time alone with Lucy.
He growled. Time for this decoy to eat it.
He charged, staying with the demon when the bastard feinted left, not stopping until he got a hold of the demon’s ankle between his teeth. He bit through flesh to bone, the demon’s howl of pain a satisfying sound.
He’d have to drink a bottle of listerine later to kill the taste of demon blood now saturating his mouth, but it was worth it.
He tugged and released his bite on the demon’s leg, sliding the little whiner under him. Once the guy’s throat was in reach of his mouth, he ripped it out, cutting off his cries of distress.
Make that two bottles of listerine.
The corpse turned to ash as he whirled around, looking for Lucy.
What he saw when his eyes found her, had him rushing forward, panic pushing his stomach into his throat. She was laying on the ground, unconscious, the demon standing above her in kill position.
Deklan was only a few feet away, but feared he wouldn’t make it in time to stop the demon’s fatal blow.
He ran. He leapt. Everything downshifted into slow motion. Inch by inch, the demon raised his arm, a knife in his fist. Inch by inch, he plunged that knife toward Lucy.
Deklan was close...
... almost there.
He collided with the demon, the two of them tumbling away from Lucy and each other.
Relief flooded him, he’d made it in time.
Getting up, he found the demon a few feet away.
Time to send this guy to join his friend.
The knife the demon had been about to slice into Lucy with, lay on the pavement near where he’d come to a stop. Shifting into human form, Deklan armed himself with the blade, moved swiftly. He came at the demon from behind, stabbed him through the back, piercing his heart.
Satisfaction filled him.
Yanking the blade out, he watched the body fall to the ground, turn to ash.
Good riddance asshole.
Now the threat was eliminated, he turned, hurried over to Lucy, kneeled at her side.
She was out cold, laying half on her side, half on her stomach, arms akimbo. The coppery scent of her blood filled his nose. Her back, above her bustier, was covered in scrapes, an ugly gash at her temple oozed blood.
He didn’t think she needed stitches, but he was no doctor... he had suffered his fair share of battle wounds over the last few months though, and had patched himself up. So he felt somewhat comfortable with his assessment.
He set the knife he recognized as Lucy’s - she’d used it the night before - on the ground and gently brushed a piece of hair that had come loose from her ponytail back off her face, tucked it behind her ear.
“Lucy?” he called, not expecting a response, but disappointed nonetheless when he didn’t get one.
It was kind of disorienting to see the sassy, aggressive woman he’d met last night, laying there, vulnerable.
He knew he shouldn’t move someone with a possible neck injury, but what choice did he have? They couldn’t stay here.
She’d have to ride piggyback on him. And he’d have to get her on his back before he shifted.
As carefully as he could, he maneuvered Lucy’s limp body until her chest was pressed against his spine and her arms draped over his shoulders, hung down his chest. Then, on hands and knees, he shifted into his wolf.
He did his best to slow his change so as not to jar her, gritting his teeth through the extended pain.
Goddamn, that hurt.
After all of his bones finished morphing, he picked Lucy’s knife up between his teeth and slowly made his way out of the city, and home. Where else could he take her? He didn’t know where she lived. Didn’t think a hospital was a good idea. So his home it was. He’d treat her scrapes and cuts and watch over her until she woke.
After seeing that demon come so close to ending her, his annoyance with her had been greatly reduced.
His wolf agreed.
She may have pissed him off the night before, but she’d nearly met her demise tonight...
... and life and death situations kinda put things in perspective.
Deklan sat on the edge of his coffee table, pushed up the sleeves of his sweatshirt. After positioning Lucy on her side on his living room sofa with a pillow under her head, he’d hurried upstairs, thrown on some clothes and fetched bandages and antibiotic ointment from the cupboard under his sink in the bathroom.
Peering down at her now, a damp cloth in his hand, a bowl of water at his side, he frowned at how pale she looked against the dark brown upholstery of his couch.
Standing up, he leaned over her and, as gently as he could, tended to the scrapes on her back. They weren’t deep, but they covered a lot of ground, running from just above the edge of her bustier to a few inches below her star neck tattoos.
Lucy didn’t stir once as he worked, which he was glad of. It would be better for her if she didn’t wake until he’d finished cleaning and bandaging her wounds.
When he was done with the scrapes on her back, he sat back down on the coffee table, dipped the cloth in the bowl of water by his hip, rung it out. Gently, he pressed it to the nasty looking cut on Lucy’s left temple.
She startled awake at the touch with a hiss of pain.
“Easy. Easy.” he crooned, lifting the cloth off her cut.
He placed his free hand on her bare shoulder, applied some pressure, urging her to stay down when she made to sit up. She’d just make herself dizzy or nauseated if she got up too fast.
She cooperated with a groan, eased back down, raised a hand to her head.
“Careful.” he warned softly.
She probed the area at her temple gingerly, pulled her hand back, frowned at the blood on her fingertips. He quietly claimed her hand, wiped off her stained fingers, set her hand free. As she lowered her arm back down to the sofa, her eyes met his. It was clear in her foggy gaze that she was in pain. Now that she was awake, he could get some Tylenol into her.
“What happened? Where am I?” she asked, her voice rough, eyelids drooping at half mast.
She looked around his living room, back at him.
“What do you remember?” he asked, and even though he slowly, gently applied the cloth back to her cut, she still winced a little at his touch.
“Um...” she hummed.
Her eyes closed as she thought back.
“I remember a demon using my throat as a squeeze toy... and I remember his buddy throwing a fireball at me.” she recalled.
He paused in his ministrations, his blue eyes meeting her hazel when her lashes lifted.
“I saw the demon choking you. I was taking care of him when you were fighting the other demon.” he told her. “I missed the fireball. When I turned around, you were on the ground and the demon was standing over you, about to kill you.”
Thank god he’d turned when he had.
Lucy digested his recounting of the night’s events with a frown, her gaze falling away from him, travelling his floor.
After a moment, she shifted her gaze back up to his.
“Thanks for the save.” she said quietly, expression somber.
“You’re welcome.” he nodded.
He was just glad he’d been trailing those demons, that he’d been there to help her.
His wolf seconded that emotion.
Lucy cleared her throat.
“I guess we’re even now.” she announced, blinking sleepily.
He held back a smile.
“Even, how?” he inquired, though he knew what she was going to say.
“I saved your ass last night. You saved mine tonight.” she explained. “Even.”
“Except, you didn’t save my ass last night.” he corrected, one corner of his mouth ticking up.
Lucky for her, he wasn’t annoyed with her anymore. Her reluctance to admit she hadn’t helped him, wasn’t so much irritating as it was amusing, after tonight’s incident.
“Sure I did.” she replied, brow furrowing.
“Didn’t.” he insisted.
“Did.” she repeated, irritation seeming to wake her up. Her eyes, now narrowed on him, were not as foggy as they had been when she’d first opened them.
That was good.
“Didn’t.” he repeated.
Her lips firmed into a thin line. The look she gave him? Professional level stank-eye.
His lips twitched. He was secretly pleased she was frustrated and arguing. She had to be feeling somewhat herself if she was being confrontational.
“Agree to disagree?” he asked, hoping to drop the subject for now. They could get back to it, and the fact that she now - technically - owed him, when she felt better.
She ‘hmm’d’ unhappily. She was pretty cute when she was irritated.
How much fun would it be, ruffling her feathers?
When his dick twitched at that thought, he cut off that line of thinking faster than you could say ‘happy ending’. Lucy was basically at eye level with his crotch. Sure, she’d seen him naked, but she hadn’t seen him hard. There was a difference - and since thoughts of her were revving up his dick... it was more personal.
He cleared his throat, redirecting his thoughts out of the gutter.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Other than a splitting headache, and a sore neck? Okay. Alive.” she replied, going with his subject change.
“Alive is good.” he commented.
Lucy gave him a no-shit look.
He lifted his hand to her temple again, resumed cleaning her cut. Thankfully, his dick went back to sleep. He applied salve and a small bandage. That done, he gathered up his supplies, both used and not, stood and headed for the kitchen.
When he returned to the living room, two extra-strength Tylenol in one hand and a glass of water in the other, Lucy was still laying quietly. He sat on the coffee table once more, offering the pills in an upraised palm and, after she took those, handed her the water.
Lucy lifted her head enough to wash down the pain killers, handed the glass back to him and lowered her head, resting it back on the pillow he’d provided with a weary sigh. He frowned. She had to feel like hell. He’d set her up in one of his two spare bedrooms and let her get some rest soon. But first...
He set the glass aside, leaned forward, propping his elbows on his knees, his hands dangling between his legs.
“I don’t suppose you know why those demons were after you?” he asked, raising his brows.
Lucy huffed a quick snicker.
“I’m guessing they may have had a problem with me killing their hell-spawn buddies.” she replied flippantly.
He ‘hmm’d’. He’d figured that.
Now she was on the receiving end of his no-shit look. The little smartass.
“You must have killed quite a few of their buddies for them to bother seeking you out.” he prompted.
He would guess her kill count must be in the hundreds for her to be on a demon’s radar.
Was he impressed? Maybe a little. Was he going to tell her that? No.
“Hey, once you find something you’re good at...” she said, shifting a little, wincing a little.
“Kind of a dangerous hobby, don’t you think?” he asked.
As demonstrated tonight.
“Beats knitting.” she quipped.
He huffed a laugh. So cheeky.
She could try to play it off, but she’d come really close to dying tonight. Too close. He didn’t like how fucking close she’d come. Her brush with death bothered him... bothered his wolf... more than he’d like.
“That was a close call tonight.” he murmured, a frown replacing the smile she’d put on his face.
He would be serious about tonight’s events even if she wouldn’t.
“Wasn’t the first. Won’t be the last.” she replied, still playing it off.
She slowly pushed herself up to sitting, shifted her legs over the side of the couch, her socked feet meeting bare wood floor.
“Easy. Let me know if you start to feel dizzy.” he murmured, ready to give her a steadying hand if she needed one.
She rested her elbows on her knees, let her hands hang down between her legs, adopting the same position as him.
“Feeling okay?” he asked, and she nodded.
He bet she didn’t.
“Why do you do it?” he asked after a moment passed and she remained upright.
“Kill demons?” she asked, looking at him, her brows lifting briefly.
She sighed, shrugged nonchalantly.
“Someone has to.” she replied.
He frowned at that.
That just begged the question...
Why had she taken it upon herself to be that someone?