Eventually his heartbeat settled down and began pumping blood to his brain again. He convinced himself that he was exaggerating what had happened. It had just been a mild form of a panic attack. He’d watched a show a couple of nights ago with a guy in it who had a panic attack. That’s what he’d had, exactly what he’d had.
He wasn’t going to stand around waiting for Angel that much he knew. It took her forever to get ready anyway. He grabbed his jeans and a clean t-shirt out of his dresser drawer and headed out of the room. He’d take his shower in his mom’s bathroom.
He stepped on something that made a distinctive crunching noise when he planted his foot on it. When he squat down and picked it up he found his watch crystal lay splintered in his palm. He glanced to his wrist-the watch was still strapped on- sans crystal- fine. He ripped the band free with a violent twist and threw the useless object onto his dresser. He’d had enough.
He slammed the door on his way out. The too sweet fragrance of his mother’s incense over-powered his senses, made his eyes water and burned his nostrils. He felt an intense wave of anger flood him as he marched down the hall. Faith was such a joke. Why must his mother stink up the house with all that superstition? Real men didn’t believe in anything but themselves. They didn’t need anything but themselves.
He walked into his mother’s room and saw the tiny alter to the Madre Marie set up on a small wooden shelve. He’d built that shelve for her at church camp the summer he turned nine.
His hands balled into fists and each knuckle turned white. A buzz thrummed in his ears so powerful he didn’t recognize the sound of his own pulse. He grit his teeth together, threw himself at the bathroom door then slammed it shut, shaking it on its frame behind him.
He found himself digging deep for his will power. There was something wrong and he knew it. This was no mere panic attack. But what it was… he didn’t know.
In the tiny confines of the bathroom he could hear himself growling. From low in his chest a rumble of furious sound begin to force its way out. In the wall mirror above the sink he could see his hands forming themselves into claws and his nails seemed to sharpen and elongate. The stubborn tilt of his jaw became an unrelenting bone with a heavy shadow of dark beard and an angle that beckoned trouble.
From a shadowy corner of the room he heard a hiss and snapped his head around in time to catch the cat by the throat as she leapt for the door. He held her like that-watched her back legs scramble for purchase as she twisted frantically for freedom. The edges of his mouth lifted into a smug grin. He brought her closer-wanted to look into her terrified eyes as she howled in pain and hissed in panic. He laughed and his mouth watered.
“Blaize, what the fuck are you doing in there? Hurry up!” Angel hit the door with the flat of her hand and reached for the knob.
Some part of him, some desperate, trembling part wanted to yell at her to run. Whatever this was that was happening to him, he wanted to save her from it. With an effort that made sweat drip from his brow he reached his hand towards the lock on the door.
Later, when he thought back on things he truly believed that he would have chosen her. Because, no matter what she had become, she would always, in some place inside him, she would always be his angel. So, he needed to believe that he would have turned the lock and saved her.
His hand reached for the lock and the door slammed open against it. The cat, catching sight of the opening gave an horrendous effort to leap using her hind legs against his forearm as purchase and leaving bloody welts gouged into his flesh. With a startled hiss he dropped the feline.
“What are you doing? Shit!” Angel jumped as the cat ran passed her. “What the hell, Blaize? I thought you were going to hurry. You’re not even dressed.” Her tone was accusatory.
To Blaize she sounded as if she didn’t believe he could even get dressed by himself. He felt his fury begin to rise again in a way he’d never felt anything before. The hand that dripped with blood from the cat scratches now reached for Angel’s neck. While she watched him with a mix of confusion and impatients he wrapped his bloody fingers around the sweet column of her throat.
Even as his fingers tightened enough to put pressure on her windpipe she didn’t seem to understand what was happening to her-what he intended to do. She seemed to believe she still had the upper hand and that he would still play at being her little lap dog. His lips curved back into a smirk.
“I like little girls. They taste sweet. Give me a lick little dolly.” And that sound rumbled out of his chest again only this time it was more of a purr.
Recognition dawned slowly and seemed to spread like palsy throughout her body. The color leeched from her skin then flooded back an ugly purple as his hand tightened. But her tone was defiant when she lifted her hand and began to claw away his fingers from her neck. ”Let me go, Azzel. You can’t hurt me.”
Blaize jumped inside his own skin. What had she called him? He wanted to ask her. He wanted to demand that she tell him…right the fuck now! But instead he heard a voice not his own snarl, “Little girl, I can do anything I want.” Then an arm no longer in his control threw her across the room.
Angel landed on the bed and he watched helplessly as she bounced there before scrambling to her knees and crawling to the other side until she was trapped against the wall. But she was still defiant, still certain of her control. “You can’t do anything to me, Azzel, I summoned you. I’m your master.”
Blaize recoiled in horror. It couldn’t be. What was she talking about? In his mind he heard a mocking voice whisper, “oh ho, it’s awake! And it speaks such lovely words of pain. What did you think, ‘em, is it really so hard to believe that a worm would betray a worm? If you let go of that five finger Jimmy you’ve got on me I’ll show you what I mean.”
Angel must have seen the monstrous gleam that shone red from the eyes she stared into because she began to make a frantic sweep of the room looking for escape. There was a growing sense of panic in her jerky movements but her words were still all Angel-all faith that it would work out just the way she wanted it to in the end. “Azzel, I command you to go back to sleep now. Go back to sleep until I call you again.” She reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a tiny vial of clear liquid. She wagged it in his direction as if it were a loaded gun. “Holy water, Azzel., if you come near me again I’ll use it.”
Blaize felt the fury ignite within the demon he had become. “Of course, Master, whatever you say,” Azzel’s reply was a deceptively soft rumble.
Angel was easily fooled, willingly fooled, “Fine then.” Blaize could see that she never really relaxed her shoulders. Even as she slide along the wall and headed towards the door she was tense with anticipation. But there was also a sense of purpose. “We’ll just get to the party and then…”
“Don’t leave me! Angel! I’m still here…” Blaize called to her, terrified she’d leave him alone, trapped.
“…I’ll call Marina…”
“Help me, Angel. What have you done?” Blaize knew what was happening was impossible. He wasn’t locked inside his own body while a demon twitched his muscles and made his choices.
“Of course, Master,” The demon slide along his own wall-slow-like a snake.
Blaize thought-I can’t even make tears fall from my eyes.
Inside the body that was no longer his he waited for her to say something, a hint that she was just playing along until she could figure out how to help him.
He felt his heart race with joy when, just before she slipped out the door- she turned. There was a moment of anticipation- like time suspended in a crystal drop and then she spoke, “This isn’t even my problem really. I don’t even want you.”
Hell broke loose. Inside Blaize the demon roared his fury and twisted free when he felt Blaize stumble under the appalling truth of Angel’s betrayal. Azzel charged the girl and lifted her towards the ceiling with one arm. She tried to kick out still naively believing she had a chance of survival but he threw her like a rag doll across the room. Her body thwacked against the wall and broke- plaster showered down.
Horrified and desperate Blaize fought Azzel for control but the demon was in full possession and he wanted revenge. He stormed through the small space spilling perfume bottles and knick-knacks on to the soft white carpet. He shattered hanging pictures out of their frames and left them littering the floor like corpses. His fist crushed the fragile figure of the Virgin Mary and smashed precious holy items into detritus.
Angel whimpered and the monster turned to glance at her over his shoulder. He sneered when he saw the blood pouring from her scalp. It wasn’t sympathy that made him walk across the room and crouch by her side.
“Blaize,” her voice was a smooth blow on a hot horn and it burned all the way down. God, it had only been minutes ago that he was in bed with the girl he was in love with drowsily listening to Miles Davis on the radio, “Help me. I know you’re in there. They made me do it.” She paused and let her eyes searched his, “He was going to rape me, Blaize, if I didn’t pay him the money I owed.” She tucked her sweet bottom lip between her teeth and hissed at the pain. “I knew you wouldn’t want anything to happen to me.” A soft tear appeared like dew on her lashes and quietly fell down her cheek. “They did it months ago. You haven’t even known it was in you. Besides,” Her tiny fingers caressed the rough stubble on his chin, “You love me.” She aimed the splintered wooden cross at his neck and jabbed.
Azzel bellowed his all mighty rage and fisted the cross- crushing her fingers beneath his. He pulled it from her limp hand and smoke and the acrid stench of burning flesh fogged the air. Angel whimpered. She tried to fight her way passed the demon before he could recover but her leg was badly broken. The drugs polluting her system and her stubborn will were the only things keeping her conscious.
Azzel cradled his injured hand against his chest- the cross seared into it -and yanked Angel backward by the ankle with the other. She screamed in pain and frustration. Her head wound was leaking blood and her bones were jutting from her broken leg but she was so high—even now she didn’t realize she was dying.
Overcome with grieve and shock, Blaize struggled for control. He knew she’d done this to him, but still, he couldn’t bear to see her hurt.
Her tears ran faster now. Her hair was a tangled sheet. Leaning up, she spat into the demon’s face and when he slapped her, the blood drooled off her lip in a long, slobbery trail.
The demon carefully wiped her spit off his face without letting go of his grip on her leg. They shot daggers of mutual hate at each other as he carefully moved her long, glossy hair behind her ear and across her shoulder. It was with perfect calm and deliberation that he slid his left hand up from her ankle and spread it around her throat- equally calmly and deliberately he began to squeeze.
It was almost comical, the look of surprise. What had she thought would happen-playing with demons? Azzel calmly enjoyed the hissing of her breath and the sweet pop of the blood vessels in her lovely brown eyes. It was always nice when you could take your time and really savor the chore of murder. So it was entirely unexpected when he found his burnt right hand wrestling the wrist of his left into letting go.
“Little worm, is that you?” Blaize felt the ancient creature’s wrath like a tidal wave straining to burst his control. He knew he didn’t have much time.
“Let her go.”
“Oh, now, you don’t mean that, do you? She sold you out for 50 bucks worth of sugar, Sugar. Now, don’t you think that deserves a little umm…payback?” Cajoling, conniving, the insipid whine was meant to deceive him into loosening his grip but Blaize refused.
“When she sold you out—worm—who do you think bought you? Me…that’s who! So—just what do you think is going to happen here, umm? Do you recon yourself stronger…then me?” This time the demon didn’t both hiding the fury he felt.
Blaize felt his flesh tear as Azzel struggled to free himself. There was really only one thing he could do and as much as he prayed that it would work…he didn’t hold out much hope that it would.
Blaize waited for the moment the demon made another effort to break loose and then he let go. Azzel was caught off guard and in the one split second of surprise his action allowed him, Blaize reached out with his burnt hand, scooped up the tiny clear bottle of holy water that had gone unnoticed during the demon’s fit of anger, uncapped it and swallowed.
Immediately he felt his insides twist in agony. The demon roared inside his skull and pounded his fists in agitated fury. He tried to rise and bash their head against the wall. He threatened to fling their shared body out of the window and laugh as they rushed towards the pavement.
Blaize could hear it all as the monster raged inside his mind. And, maybe he would have won. Maybe Azzel, the centuries old demon, was stronger and more cunning than a nineteen year old boy-but not this day.
Angel lay dying. Each breath she took was a bubble of blood. She made short, raspy sounds as if her lungs had collapsed and she held his gaze with eyes that were already losing focus.
“Let me get someone, Angel.” He smoothed warm lips across her brow.
A tear found a path and followed it down her cheek. Another joined it and together they plashed into the cup formed by clasped hands.
“You have to let me help you.” He begged just like the night they’d lost the baby.
Her fingers slipped from his.
“You can’t leave me.”
She stopped crying and he began.
“I love you…my Angel.”
Her breath ended on a sigh…