“That’s the thing about this city, angel. It never grows old.” Asmodeus said, sighing as we watched the sun sink below the skyline of Chicago. I murmured in agreement.
“Mm, even when the Fire came and roared through the city, we bounced back like nothing happened,” I replied. I saw him shift uncomfortably at the mention of the Chicago Fire and grinned to myself. He sat on the park bench for a long moment before turning to me.
“Any plans for this evening?” He asked. I shrugged.
“I was going to try that new deep-dish pizza place off Madison and Rou,” I said. I saw him roll his eyes even behind his mirrored Puma sunglasses.
“Why do you insist on eating mortal food, Cielo?” He asked huffily, crossing his arms. I laughed.
“Well, it’s good, for one thing. And, well, I try to find things that delight me even after 140,000 years.” I replied. He didn’t have anything to say to that, so we sat there in silence as the sounds of a city gearing up for the night bustled around us. Finally, Asmodeus, never one to sit still for long, shifted and turned to me again.
“Do you remember that time in Paris when we got crêpes?” He asked. I raised an eyebrow.
“You mean back in 1793 when I saved you from the guillotine because you insisted on spurring the minds of the French for revolution?” I checked. “The one where they threw you in prison and called you a demon, which they didn’t realize was technically accurate?” He nodded, waving away my explanation impatiently.
“Semantics, semantics. But anyway, that’s the bugger,” he said.
“Well, what’s your point?” I asked, crossing my arms.
“Don’t you remember how I said I owed you but you never called in your favor?” He asked. I sighed.
“I’m an angel, Asmodeus, I don’t need to call in favors,” I said, trying and failing to keep a smile off my face.
“Aha!” He crowed, “I knew you would say something like that. The point is, even though it’s been a couple of centuries since then and I owed you for more times than there are feathers in my wings, call in your favor. Right now. Do it.” He said. I just looked at him, unimpressed.
“Why?” I asked, plucking an invisible piece of lint off my cream turtleneck, and avoiding his eyes.
“Just do it, Cielo!” He repeated excitedly.
“Am I going to regret this?” I sighed, not really talking to him. He nodded anyway, his short red hair that was styled in a swoop in the front, falling into his eyes. He impatiently brushed it away.
“Well?” He prodded.
“I call in my favor,” I said, groaning at the pure delight on his face.
“Great.” He said, holding out his hand. I sighed, taking it. With a flash, we vanished from the park bench and reappeared on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Chicago River. I looked around us. There were white table-cloth tables for two all around us, and they were all filled with couples enjoying their meals. I didn’t see an open one, but with a snap of his fingers, Asmodeus cleared the table nearest the railing of its occupants. I crossed my arms. “What?” He asked, “They’re enjoying themselves immensely on the beaches of Barcelona.” I rolled my eyes but smiled.
“Why did you bring me here?” I asked, sitting down. Asmodeus settled down across from me, putting on a show of flourishing a white napkin and placing it over his lap. He shrugged off his black suit jacket and arranged it neatly on the back of his chair. I watched, amused, as he loosened his red tie, the one I had given him for Christmas four years ago, and propped his head on his hands.
“Can’t I enjoy my best friend’s company without it having a catch?” He asked, pouting his lips comically. I propped my head on my hands, mimicking his position.
“Not when you’re a demon and I’m an angel,” I said in the same pouting tone. He smirked, sitting back upright and touselling his hair.
“Well, when you put it like that, I can’t argue with you.” He said. I grinned, sitting back up as well.
“So what’s the catch?” I asked, looking over the menu. My grin increased when I saw he had taken us to a pizza place. A high-end pizza place, because even Asmodeus had his limits, but no doubt a pizza place. That demon, I tell you.
“Oh-uh...Ahem. There’s no catch, really there’s no-” He broke off at my pointed stare.
“How long have you been playing this game, Asmodeus?” I asked, smiling. He groaned.
“Don’t make me say it.” He pleaded. I shot him a wicked grin.
“You have to,” I said in answer. He sighed.
“Argh, fine. For as long as we’ve been on Earth.” He muttered, ducking his head in embarrassment. I laughed, tossing my pure white curls over my shoulder.
“Perfect. Now, what’s the catch.” I prodded, perusing the champagne section. He sighed.
“Don’t shoot the messenger, ‘kay?” He asked. I held up my pinky finger without looking up from the menu. Ooh, they had a Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Fleur Blanc de Blancs 2004. That one was simply exquisite. The French have always had great taste. He linked his pinky with mine and we shook.
“You’re paying, right?” I asked.
“What-yeah. It’s my treat, remember?” He asked distractedly. “Anyway, the big boss wants me to temptsomebodyintokillingthemselves.” He said in a rush.
“What was that?” I asked idly, still perusing.
“Ugh. Must you be like that? So...Uhm...ah, long story, really.” He stuttered, a first for him.
“Asmodeus,” I growled. He groaned.
“The big boss wants me to tempt someone into killing themselves.” He said, slower this time. I blinked, lowering my menu and looking at Asmodeus in the eyes. Well, in the sunglasses he always wore in public.
“What?” I asked. He nodded, running a hand through his hair dejectedly.
“I haven’t done something that evil in centuries. Actually, I’ve never actually done something like that. Not directly, anyway.” He said. I sighed.
“Well, what do you want me to do about it?” I asked, anticipating his reaction. On cue, he leaned forward and slid a piece of paper over to me. I set down the menu and picked it up. My face paled. “Absolutely not,” I said.
“Come on Cielo, please?” He whined. I shook my head adamantly.
“No. I will not have you destroy yourself over something like this.” I said, “End of discussion. No. Seriously. No.” I added, seeing his mouth open. Grumpily he leaned back and crossed his arms.
“Fine. Don’t help me. I do have contacts you know? I can get it myself.” He shot back. I ignored the sinking feeling in my gut.
“Fine,” I said, which was not what I wanted to say, but what came out anyway.
“Please?” Asmodeus said suddenly, looking at me with puppy-dog eyes from behind his sunglasses. “Work a miracle for me, won’t you angel?” He asked.
“Seriously? Just because I’m an angel doesn’t mean I can just snap my fingers and a miracle will happen.” I said hotly, snapping my fingers for emphasis.
“YES!” Someone shouted from a couple of tables down from us. I jumped, looking at the source of the voice. He was looking down at his phone in excitement, then looked up at his partner. “I got accepted into the program!” He added and pulled his partner down for a searing kiss. I blushed, looking at Asmodeus who was staring at me with a self-righteous grin.
“That was purely coincidence,” I said, shrugging. He just smiled.
“Sure it was.” He said. The waiter finally came by.
“What can I get you two?” He asked in a dull voice, hands clasped behind his back. I smiled.
“A bottle of Fleur Blanc de Blancs 2004, please,” I asked. The waiter’s smile dipped.
“Oh, I’m sorry. We don’t offer that to...well your sort.” I blinked, looking down at my cream turtleneck and jeans, then around at the impeccably dressed men and women around me. Asmodeus growled, standing up and towering over the waiter. He pulled off his sunglasses and the man visibly paled, sweat beading on his forehead. I knew he was looking into Asmodeus’s eye sockets which were empty except for twin plumes of fire.
“Care to repeat that?” He growled, and everybody stopped talking, staring at the black wings that had sprouted from his back. The waiter gulped.
“N-no, sir.” He stammered out, which I privately thought was impressive given the sight he was staring into.
“I should destroy you for talking to her like that,” Asmodeus started, but I cleared my throat. He looked over his shoulder at me.
“There will be no piles of ash sitting next to me while I eat dinner tonight,” I said primly and I saw Asmodeus wink at me. Keeping up appearances and all, he straightened and blinked his wings out of existence.
“Thank the angel for allowing you to live, mortal.” He ground out then sat back down, putting his sunglasses back on. The waiter swallowed audibly.
“One bottle of Fleur Blanc de Blancs 2004 coming up, Miss. Anything to eat?” He asked shakily. I skimmed over the menu.
“I’ll have a cheese pizza with pineapple, mushrooms, and black olives, please,” I said, folding up the menu and handing it to him. I looked at my demon who was glaring at the waiter.
“We’ll share.” He said and made a shooing motion with his hands. The man gulped and almost ran away from our table. I stared at Asmodeus. He stared at me. We made it about 0.4 seconds before bursting into laughter. “Did you see his eyes?” He said, wiping away tears of mirth. I chortled.
“The better question is will he believe he saw your eyes?” I laughed.
“Oh. Wait. Hold on.” Asmodeus said, snapping his fingers. All around us, people’s gazes refocused as he made sure that they wouldn’t remember what had just happened. “Ah, much better.” He said, settling back and adjusting his tie. “So about the....” he started, but I cut him off.
“I don’t want you robbing a church. I hate the idea, but I hate the idea of you destroying yourself even more. I’ll give it to you when you need it.” I said. His eyes lit up behind...oh wow. Pun intended. I giggled to myself.
“You’re the best.” He said.
“I know,” I replied. He pointed a finger at me.
“I owe you one.” He promised. I rolled my eyes.
“Now where have I heard that before?” I asked dryly. We ate our pizza and chatted, the result of us not having met up in a couple of months. He told me about all the bad deeds he had done, and I told him, in return, that he was forgiven. And, of course, of all the good things he had done.
After we had finished eating, we vanished from the restaurant and reappeared in Eckhart Park, one of our favorite meeting places. We walked for a while, still talking, sometimes scaring dogs and small children with our wings. Most people didn’t see them, but some did. And we could also choose if we wanted mortals to see our wings.
We reached a bench and sat down in silence, musing.
“I could help you, you know?” I said, shifting to turn to him. He poked me in the side and I squirmed away.
“With what?” He replied lazily.
“Be nice,” I replied.
“I’m a demon. I don’t do nice.” He growled. I suppressed a giggle. Deny all he wanted, a fallen angel was always an angel at heart. “And how would you?” He asked me. I smiled.
“You’ll see,” I replied. He quirked an eyebrow, crossing his legs.
“Are you bluffing?” He asked, waggling his fingers.
“No,” I said hotly. He only smirked.
“I don’t belieeeeeve you.” He said mockingly. I groaned.
“Ok, fine. Be your typical demon self.” I said, crossing my arms and leaning back. He grinned and perused the people walking through the park. A group of runners ran past us on the path, and he watched them go.
“Mm, she’s hot.” He said, looking at them and not specifying who he was talking to. I rolled my eyes.
“Don’t call her hot, call her beautiful. She’s a woman, not a cup of tea.” I retorted. He laughed a deep chuckle that came from somewhere deep within him. I found my mouth twitching up in a smile despite myself.
“Ok, angel. I’ll give you that.” He said, and I smiled, turning sideways and propping my feet on his lap. We sat there throughout the night as the city flickered around us, talking and laughing. As the dawn came, shooting streaks of pink and yellow into the blue sky, Asmodeus sighed. I looked over at him questioningly.
“I love this city.” He said simply. I nodded. “Which reminds me. When was the last time we were in Rome?” He asked. I threw him a challenging look.
“Is that a dare, demon?” I asked. He shrugged.
“It might be, angel” He countered. I waggled my eyebrows.
“Dare accepted,” I said, and with a snap of my fingers, we disappeared from the bench.