Chapter 9:


There's a Demon in my Basement!

B had been fine with the idea of a demon living in his basement. He also accepted that they sometimes would move around things in his house, leaving a mess (for example a table ending up five centimetres more to the right). The fact that Astaroth would sneak out regularly and pick up stray puppies and cats which B ended up bringing to an animal shelter - also completely fine.

But somehow now there wasn't just a demon in his basement. His attic had been occupied by another demon and a being whose species he had yet to determine.

He felt as if he had just adopted a bunch of children. Even though they luckily didn't need too much care. After all, none of them needed food. That made things a lot easier. Still, it was tiresome. None of them had a grasp about what was common amongst Mortals (even though in Snow's case he had yet to determine whether or not she was mortal or not. He was leaning more towards immortal, though).

Unfortunately for him, the fact that they didn't have to eat didn't mean they didn't want to eat. Cooking wasn't fun to begin with (even though B was pretty good at it) but it was even more annoying when you had a demon standing next to you constantly trying to snatch some of the food you're currently preparing.

Another slap on Drake's wrists. B groaned in annoyance. "If you want food so badly, make it yourself."

The demon stared at him as if he had just told them to jump out of a window and try flying-... Wait, they could do that. "Show me." A short and simple request.

"Urgh." Annoyed B rolled his eyes. However, in the long run, this would probably save him some nerves. "Grab an apron." He pointed over to the other two hanging on the wall. All three aprons he owned had terribly silly motifs on them - but they had been on sale and just because B had money didn't mean he liked wasting it. After all, nobody was supposed to see them. It was just his luck that he now had three unplanned roommates who indeed got to witness him wearing the apron with pink fluffy unicorns and rainbows printed all over it. However, it wasn't nearly as bad as Drake next to him who had to go with the one that was decorated with flying cupids and hearts.

"Okay, first you cut the vegetables, like-" B didn't get to demonstrate. The demon was faster since claws were also very useful for this task, it seemed.

"What's next?"

"Well, now you gotta put some oil in the frying pan and- Give!"

The demon had already taken the bottle of olive oil and started pouring copious amounts of it into the frying pan. Quickly B snatched both items from them and placed them back on the stove. "That is too much." After disposing of some of the oil in the sink, he placed it back on the stove. "Okay, what I was about to say - you now have to heat the oil-"

A flame ignited in the demon's hand.

"Stop! Learn some patience!" Like a toy you'd rip from a dog B turned away with the frying pan. "How can a demon be this jittery?!" He thought Astaroth was bad but at least you'd know what you're getting into based on their behaviour. In Drake's case, one would assume they'd be as patient as a rock. Somehow this ticked him off even more.

The cat ears twitched. Then Drake shrugged. "Waiting is the same as wasting time."

Ok. B could get behind that mindset. But he decided against it and he would never admit it out loud. "Right now, you're learning something. So take the time."

"If I have to."

"Just watch and listen." He turned on the stove and put the frying pan back on it. "Just wait a minute until it's hot and then you put in the vegetables."

"I think it would be faster to just-" Instead of finishing their sentence Drake just created a small flame dancing on their palm.

"Yes, but no." Without a further explanation, B threw the veggies into the pan. He had decided that today there wouldn't be any meat. This cooking lesson was already eating away at his patience. Which wasn't particularly long-lived in most situations anyway. At least not those involving demons.

A few minutes later the human was able to present some fried vegetables, without seasoning because he couldn't be bothered to explain that concept to the demon.

"Tastes bad", commented the entity.

B just groaned. "Tough luck."

"I need meat. I am a dragon."

The human looked into the demon's stoic face. Then up to their cat ears. Then back into those sharp red eyes. "You have cat ears. And your demon form was a cat. You are a cat."

Drake looked at him. For a few seconds, nobody said a word. And then, they finally spoke again: "...No."

Irritated B tried to wrap his head around the demon's behaviour. "You can just- If you want to be a dragon, why not change your form accordingly?" They could literally just take on whichever they want.

"Do you want me to destroy your house?"

Granted, dragons weren't exactly known for being small. So he decided to just let it be. "Sure. You are a dragon." No point in arguing.

"Oh, you have completed the plant slaughter?" Snow entered the kitchen.

"The what now?" Why was he even still asking? Maybe he should learn to just accept things without questioning them.

"Plants are living beings." Her voice was cheerful while she talked. "And you just dismembered and burned a lot of them."

“Please don’t refer to cooking as plant slaughter.”

“Is it not accurate?”

“They are already dead when the process starts.” As if that was the only problem with her statement.

She lowered her gaze. “Oh. I understand. In that case it is more like-”

“No. Whatever you’re about to say, it’s not correct.” B had no further intention of continuing this discussion. Without waiting any longer he put the vegetables from the pan into a bowl and placed it on the table afterwards.

“Oh.” Bummed out she sunk into one of the seats and pouted.

The other two also took their seats. For a short second, he looked at them. Then to the last empty chair. (He had to get two from the living room since his kitchen had not been prepared for this number of guests and in the long-run he’d probably have to buy a few additional ones.) “Where is Ash?” Somehow it always left him with a feeling of dread when the demon wasn’t in his field of view.

“Roof, I think”, Drake shrugged while pushing a fried piece of capsicum into their mouth.

B just sighed. He’d have to cook again today.

The house’s roof wasn’t exactly flat, but it was possible to sit down on it once you’d manage to get up. It had been rather bothersome, but the three next to the house and a little bit of wind magic had made it accessible to him. To his surprise, the demon was just floating and looking up to the sky. The sun was currently setting, giving its last few sunrays of the day. Did he ever see them so calm? But more importantly: Was that a good or a bad sign?

They looked at him when he made his way to them. Very slowly so he wouldn’t lose his balance. Once Astaroth noticed him, they offered him their hand, so he wouldn’t fall.

Only a moment later both of them were seated, even though Astaroth still held onto his coat. Just in case. B let it happen for now, even though he was positive, he wouldn’t fall.

“What are you doing here?” B finally asked, not looking directly at the demon.

They just shrugged. “I just like watching the sky. Seeing it… isn’t something you get to do in the Underworld, you know?”

“Oh. I see.” B looked down onto the bricks covering the roof. They were suddenly so interesting. “Guess that makes sense.”

“Didn’t mean to worry you. Sorry.”

He shrugged. “Eh. You didn’t. At this point, I’m kinda used to babysitting.”

“Aw, come on.” The demon crossed their arms and pouted. “I’m not a baby! I’m like- a few thousand years old!”

“My bad. Babies are better at listening,” B commented nonchalantly.

Put out by that statement Astaroth pushed B slightly away. Unfortunately, the demon underestimated their power and would have thrown the human off the roof if it weren’t for their reflexes. Quickly they grabbed his arm and pulled him back closely. “...Sorry.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of what I meant.” B didn’t seem too concerned about what had happened. “You are very impulsive and childish.”

“I- Sorry.” They let go of them and pulled their knees to their chest. They were silent for a moment. “...You weren’t scared,” they noted.

B just shrugged. “I kinda knew you’d catch me. And even if you didn’t we’re not that high up. The only thing breaking would have been my glasses and-... yeah, that would have sucked.”

Astaroth chuckled lightly and with that, both of them fell silent again for a while.

He would lie if he claimed he didn’t enjoy it. Because somehow he did. Why B did not understand. It was nice. Just sitting next to each other, being silent together and do… nothing.

I’m wasting time, he reminded himself, but he couldn’t bring himself to care enough to do something about it. Instead, he just closed his eyes and listened to all the little noises around them. The trees were rustling, the neighbour’s dog barking and somewhere in the distance, he could hear cars.

When was the last time he had felt this relaxed? He couldn’t remember. Would he ever admit out loud how much he liked this moment? No. He would rather die.

The mere thought of someone else having the same realisation as him was enough to make him break the silence. “...There is one thing confusing me.” B had been hesitant to approach this topic. Honestly, he kind of wanted to come up with a good time or a perfect way to do so, but somehow it had been the first thing that came to his mind.

“What is it?” The demon sat in the air, cross-legged.

“You’re Astaroth. Shouldn’t fighting Drake… Shouldn’t it have been easy for you? It seemed like you were struggling.” At least until I passed out.

Astaroth blinked before scratching the back of their head and averting their gaze. “It’s… well. In the Mortal Realm, my power is limited. By different factors. Things like your Mana and how much you restrict me in what I’m doing and… things like that.” They shrugged. “Snow lifted all boundaries, even though she never knew they existed in the first place. That and… she has a lot of Mana.” They paused before raising their hands and waving them hastily. “With that I don’t mean you’re a bad summoner or anything! You’re amazing and your Mana is, too! Seriously, it tastes like strawberry! Never had anything as sweet!” Shaking their head they seemed to look for the correct words, even though they didn’t take much time for that. They just rambled on. “It’s just- Snow trusts Drake a lot more and so she doesn’t give them any boundaries, not even like- on accident. It just flows. Which is kinda weird, since she wanted them to stop when we fought but sometimes people are just reeaaally against boundaries or just really bad at them and-... then that happens. And Drake had just been summoned when we fought and that gave them a boost to their powers so that also was a problem. Oh, and it was a Wednesday, summoning demons on a Wednesday always works better.”

Too many statements had been made and B couldn’t decide which was the one he’d like to talk about the most. Slowly he tilted his head. “My... Mana... tastes?” A short pause. “Like strawberries?!

“Yes!” Enthusiastically Astaroth nodded. “Snow’s doesn’t taste that good. More like… salty. But also sweet. It’s weird.”

“Yeah…” B answered slowly. “That is the weird part here. Nothing else.” He shook his head and sighed. “...Blake.” It was just a hunch. He had no logical explanation for telling them his name. It was stupid, but he couldn’t bring himself to be mad about it.

“Huh?” Now it was Astaroth’s turn to tilt their head in confusion.

Blake sighed. “My name, you idiot.” The teen averted his gaze. “Don’t tell anyone, though.”

Real Aire