The Demon’s Surrender – Nick, Anzu and Sin
Nick leaned in and Sin tilted her face up, Nick’s face a blur of black and white before her eyes, too close to make anything out. The feel of him this close was like sensing the approach of a dangerous animal, his breath hot on her neck as chills raced through her body.
“Tell me, about Alan,” Nick said in her ear. “How you – how do you-” He whispered “feel” low, as if it was the guiltiest secret imaginable. He took a breath that hitched in his chest, not ragged but torn clean in two, and that sign of pain made him reality rather than nightmare.
She lifted her hands and touched him, his shoulders solid and warm against her palms, and drew him down closer to her. She whispered, “I miss him so much.”
Nick kissed her mouth. He kissed her slowly, deliberately, as if he could do this all evening, but there was a tense set to his shoulders and a hint of teeth that made her realize he was just as on edge as she. They were on the edge together. Sin took handfuls of the worn cotton of his shirt and pulled him in tighter, their mouths angled together hard. She was trembling: he wasn’t.
She closed her eyes and threw herself into darkness, heart going fast as a runaway train, rushing towards disaster. Through the slow thorough kiss, through the thunder in her ears, she heard the tiny, traitorous sound as the door creaked open. For a moment Nick’s arms closed around her harder, the lines of his body suddenly prison bars, but Sin yanked herself free.
She stood facing Anzu and breathing hard. He stood looking at her, his face a beautiful version of Alan’s, all vivid colors and cruel edges. Just now, he looked almost bewildered, like a cat bitten by a mouse. She wanted to keep him on that bright edge between hurt and rage.
“Alan,” she said, longing for and hating him.
Anzu’s eyes narrowed. “No.” His voice went glass-smooth. “But you can’t imagine that he is at all surprised. What else did Hnikarr ever do to him but try to steal every scrap of human warmth he could beg for himself? As for you, what else could he expect from you? You know what he always thought of you. Not a brain in your head. Endlessly craving attention and admiration. There’s a lot of flash, but there’s no substance to you at all. There’s nothing to love.”
Sin flinched and saw the twist to his mouth, the savage satisfaction as he saw he’d hit home. “Why should you be surprised?” she demanded. “What did you think I’d do, after what you said to me? Am I supposed to have nowhere to turn, and no comfort at all?”
“Am I?” Anzu asked, very quietly.
“She’s human,” Nick said. “We walk through blood every day. You can’t ask her to live like one of us. Things are different for them, and – look at you.”
Anzu glared at him, his hair vermilion, his skin bone white, all the vivid colors indicating that poison lay just beneath his surface.
“That body won’t last,” Nick continued dispassionately. “You’re tearing it to pieces.”
“Your brother won’t last,” Anzu snarled, and went for him in a rush.
Sin had never seen him angry enough to use just muscle and not magic. Nick put out a hand and took him by the throat. Anzu halted.
“Your brother won’t last,” he repeated, his voice soft and hateful.
Nick nodded. He drew his thumb lightly over Anzu’s jugular vein: Sin couldn’t tell if it was a gesture of affection or a death threat.
“I know,” he said, voice just as soft. “That’s how it is for all demons. Except me.”
“How nice for you,” Anzu spat.
“It could be you,” said Nick. “I’m willing to make a trade. Take this body. Take the girl, if you want her so badly. Let my brother go.”