The Demon’s Surrender – Sin and Anzu
Sin spun with new strength, with complete determination, as if she was doing one of her showpiece dances and someone had unveiled a particularly tempting stall, and she was set on catching everyone’s eye. This was not an unknowable audience, a demon who she knew nothing about but their name and history. She knew this one. She had kissed him and made him promises, knew his wishes and his limits. He had been watching her with the eyes of someone who loved her, and she had been watching him as well as the person she loved. She did not entirely hate him. She knew with absolute certainty how to call him by name, how to make his name so truly his he could not help but answer.
Sin made her dance slow and easy, her fingers touching the air as if it was water that would ripple at her touch, as if she could make every move, every slow wind of her hips and swing, a caress. She thought about the way Alan held back from touching Nick but held close, the way Mae had come to sit across a room from him and Jamie could laugh at him. She thought of how humans could bend and make room for a demon, learn to welcome a demon in out of the cold.
She lifted her hands as if to touch, as if to open a door, and then drew them back.
“I call on Anzu, who is so far from anything like light,” Sin said. “I call on the seeker after knowledge, who can breathe fire and water and air, but who is at home in no element on earth. I call on Anzu, who I told lies.”
She danced along chalk lines with her enemies outside the door, in glass-torn jeans and a blood-streaked shirt, and she was absolutely certain that nobody could resist drawing near to watch her. A draught from another world raised all the hairs on her neck. Sin did not falter. The door between the worlds swung open further to her, horror leaking out. It felt as if the lines she was standing on were dissolving, as if the human world was crumbling away beneath her feet and soon she would be stranded in the demon world, deserted, lost, drowning in air she could not breathe.
The darkness and onslaught of cold fell from her eyes. Light assaulted Sin’s vision instead, coming at her in a blinding, scorching wash. Anzu stood in front of her, limned in fierce light. It was strange to see him not in Alan’s body, not with a body at all. The form in front of her seemed unreal as a mirage, pale as someone who had died, his eyes glittering as if they were shards of glass she had broken.
“It could have been me,” he said. “If I had gone into the child, as Hnikarr did. I would have had a family. I would have learned all your human lessons. He’s no different than I am, no better, even though you’re all on his side. You might have loved me then. It could have been me.”
“But it wasn’t,” Sin told him.
“No,” said Anzu. “I’ve lured lonely humans the same way you did. Come crawling to the window, looked at them with promises in my face. And when they opened the window, I took them for everything they had.”
She could feel him along the lines of connection and communication, feel the cold weight of his demon’s thoughts leeching her of every emotion she had. She felt all the icy rage she had expected, like knives sliding in under the surface of her skin and peeling it away from the bone. She felt something else as well: a mess of other things she, being human, could not quite recognize or untangle from the rage. Not all of them hurt.
“I always thought if they were stupid enough to let me in, whatever I did to them was fair,” Anzu said. “You beat me at my own game, princess. You got what you wanted.”
“What do you want?” Sin asked, low. She did feel sorry for him. He could tell, and she could feel more of his fury, and something like surprise, slicing through her flesh. There was greed too, with demons there was always greed, as if he wanted to drink up her emotions and drain her dry.
“What,” said Anzu, “if all I want to do is kill you?”
“Go ahead and kill me,” said Sin, and three magicians burst into the room. Black magic erupted from one magician’s hands, leaping for her like a shadow trained to attack. A curtain of light was dropped before her eyes, so suddenly she did not immediately know what it was, and then she knew it was Anzu’s wing, shielding her, absorbing the magical blow. After a moment the curtain lifted, and she could see. She already had a knife in her hand.