Musical Moment

Author’s Note – Just another little moment that could appear in Book II. Because I was feeling shippy. ~ J

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She shifted carefully, trying to make her head light since it was resting in the middle of his belly. 

He reached out and smoothed her hair. “Do you need to move?”

“No, I like you being a pillow.” She turned on her side to face him and he squirmed almost imperceptibly. “Am I tickling?” she asked, purposely talking close to his skin.

He adjusted himself under her again and smirked. “Only when you’re trying.”

“Hey, turn that up.”

Ben grinned. “You like Social Distortion?”

“Is that who this is? I … I like the words.”

They listened quietly for a few moments.

How many times have you asked yourself?

Is this the hand of fate now that I’ve been dealt?

You’re so disillusioned this can’t be real

And you can’t stand now the way you feel

I don’t care about what they say

I won’t live or die that way

Tired of figuring out things on my own

Angel’s wings won’t you carry me home?

She sighed. “I feel like this guy must know you.”

Ben smiled down at her. She was achingly lovely with her curly hair spilled over his bare stomach. It was so nice to be alone for a few hours. “I guess maybe he does. After a fashion. That dude. His name’s Mike Ness. We’ve both been through some shit. I like him. I visited him sometimes, back when I could just be a spirit.”

“Does he know that?”

Ben blushed. “Of course not. I don’t … Not unless somebody summons me. His music though … You’re right. I feel like he knows me.”

I triumphed in the face of adversity

And I became the man I never thought I’d be

And now my biggest challenge, a thing called love

I guess I’m not as tough as I thought I was

I don’t care about what they say

I wanna marry you someday

When I wake up, it’s a brand new day

Angel’s wings gonna carry us away

“Even that stuff?” she smiled. He was blushing furiously.

He swallowed hard. That was a direct question and it wasn’t one he could deflect. It cut him too deeply. “Especially that stuff.”

“You’d marry me if you could?” 

“In a heartbeat,” His face was so hot it hurt. “I really would.”

She clasped his hand, the ring he’d made for her birthday, his promise for their page in that long boring book they’d first claimed on prom night, highly visible.

“Me, too.”

*****

All lyrics belong to the unbelievably talented band Social Distortion and if you don’t already listen to them, go do it, now. Ben says so.

Image by JayMantri from Pixabay

Dirty

Author’s Note – Here’s another little Arbitratus Trilogy Fanfic that comes from an Instagram one word challenge. This one could fit just about anywhere mid-Book II, Before the Dawn (coming soon, I promise). The word was ‘Dirty’. I had fun with this one. ~ J

Dirty

“Hold still,” she grumped, taking his arm and turning it over for the third time.

“Mal, I’m fine.” Ben tried to pull his arm away from her again, but her hold on his wrist was too firm. “It’s just a scrape.”

She rolled her eyes. “This is not a scrape.”

He shrugged, not exactly interested in looking at it all that closely anyway. He tried a charming grin. “Well … That’s what I get for showing off by climbing ledges to impress a girl I already know is going to sleep with me.”

He tugged at his arm again.

She adjusted her grip and went back to work. “Quit being a baby and let me clean this up.”

“Mal, come on. Just do your healing power magic thingy. I rinsed it off already in the…”

“Filthy stream next to the road? Yeah, I know. I was there.” She sounded just a little pissed off.

“Ow!” He jumped a little. “Take it easy!” he groused, trying once again, unsuccessfully, to reclaim his injured arm. 

“I’m sorry.” She stopped trying to pick gravel out of the gash. “But Ben, this is really dirty. I need to clean it up before I can try healing it.”

“I don’t see why.”

“It’d be pretty gross if I magiced you into an arm full of pebbles and leaves because I was careless and closed it all up in there.”

He wrinkled his nose. “I guess that would be kind of gross. But it’s not like it can get infected or anything … I mean I did all those spells to protect …”

“You had an Archangel tell you you could basically pass for human these days. Who knows what Uncle Davi’s spell did to all those protections.”

Ben stopped squirming. “Christ. I never thought about that.” He started chewing his lip.

She looked up at him again with concern. “Am I really hurting you?”

“No … Um … I mean, a little, but it’s okay. I was just …”

“What’s the matter, Ben?”

“Suddenly feeling a little worried about my not-deal-with-human-stuff magic maybe not being foolproof, I guess.”

Tan as he was, she almost thought he looked a little pale. “Well, I mean, obviously you still have powers and everything. I wasn’t about to drag you into town for a tetanus shot or anything.”

He rolled his eyes. “Not what I was thinking about. But good. Because gross.”

Oh. She smirked. “I’m still on the Pill, if that makes you feel any better.”

He laughed, flushing just a little. “It does, actually.”

He let her just finish what she was doing and when she closed her eyes to use her healing powers, he closed his too. Watching her do that made him feel weirdly self conscious. After a minute or two, she released his arm.

“There. All better.”

He opened his eyes and grinned at her. “Thanks.”

“The rest of you is still all grubby from wiping out.”

“Yeah. I’m pretty filthy.”

“Shower?”

“When do I ever say no to that?”

*****

Lucky 13

Author’s note – Here’s another little piece inspired by our Instagram for Friday the 13th. It features Caleb Saint Claire, of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, whom you may have met in The Twelve Days of Fic-Mas. We never meant to have him turn into a series regular, so to speak, but he’s just too much fun to not keep having back.

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Caleb skidded around the corner on wet pavement, almost wiping out. He’d lost his partner a couple of blocks ago. Damned rookie was going to be getting up and hitting the hills with a training unit every morning for the next month if Caleb had anything to say about it. And he did. You don’t get to call yourself a Knight of the Order if you crap out after chasing a homicidal demon eight blocks.

That said, Caleb was starting to lose steam, himself. Of course, he had the excuse of bleeding freely from several deep scratches. He was also pretty sure this bastard’s claws were venomous, because he had started to feel a little woozy, too. 

At least they weren’t far from the local safe house. Once the threat was neutralized, could have the counter-potion in less than ten minutes. Or sooner. He remembered his ability to call them it. It was kind of nice to not be all on your own occasionally. He ducked down an alley and reached for his radio to call for some assistance. 

His next breath was crushed out of him as he slammed with unsurprising supernatural force against the wet brick wall. Two of the creatures four arms pinned him while the others went through his pockets. 

“Hey, there, Ormru,” Caleb said wryly, wanting to see the demon flinch at hearing its name.

He wasn’t disappointed. The distraction did allow him to start to wriggle free, just a bit. But it’s hot breath in his face made him cringe a second later. “Caleb Saint Claire.”

It knew him, too. Great.

“Taking out a member of the Order is an eternity long dream of mine. The fact that it’s you will be quite a feather in my cap.”

Caleb flashed a tight smile. “I imagine it would be.”

“Doing it on Friday the 13th will be the coup of the week. I’ve always thought that unlucky slaughter worth duplicating.”

Caleb finally got his left hand around to the small of his back where he’d been inching toward. He thrust the ceremonial dagger into the demon’s middle with a grunt. Ormru crumpled to the ground, smoking already.

“That’s a myth.” Caleb walked away, cleaning his blade on the handkerchief he kept in his pocket for that purpose. 

He reached the street and Novice Helms ran up to him. “Back-up’s on its way, and I told them to bring a Healer.”

“Good.” Maybe he wouldn’t have to run the kid ragged after all. He’d have a chat with him about separating from his partner without a word, but at least the kid’s head had been in the game.

As though reading Caleb’s mind, Helms assured him, “I was right behind you, but I found a nest.”

Caleb’s eyebrows went up, impressed. “Where?”

Helms pointed at a crumbling apartment building back up the street.

Caleb grinned. “Well, isn’t this just our lucky day.”

 

Image by Daniel Dino-Slofer from Pixabay

Fire

Author’s Note: Here’s another little Arbitratus Trilogy Fanfic that resulted from a one word prompt challenge over on IG. It’s something that doesn’t happen in Book II, Before the Dawn. But like so many of these little fictions, it could. 

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Their after dinner walk had gone on for longer than was probably smart. The temperature was dropping rapidly as the sun sank behind the mountains. The breeze rustled the frost stiffened trees. It was nice to be away from populations centers. There was less to worry about in terms of getting noticed, getting recognized, getting caught. But maybe they should head south again. It was too damned cold around here.

Mal untwined her fingers from Ben’s. “Sorry. I need my gloves.”

Ben was already pulling on the lopsided mittens she’d knitted him. “Same. We should head back anyway. It’s getting dark.”

They decided to cut across a couple of back yards to get back to the campground faster. “What is that?” Mal asked cocking her head.

Ben paused and listened, spending the energy on magically enhancing his hearing.

“Fire,” he said quietly.

“Where?”

He listened again then pointed. “There.”

They took off running and skidded to a stop in the yard of a large farmhouse already well on its way to burning down. Shouts and pleas for help came from inside. “Stay here,” he said firmly. “Call 911.”

“You’re not going in there!”

“Official help is pretty far out. And … there’s kids in there. I can hear them.”

She sighed and wrapped her fingers around the fabric of his sleeve. “Why do you have to be such a big damned hero all the time?!?”

“Well, you’ve got the damned part right.” He smirked and squeezed her hand, gently encouraging her to release his jacket. “I’m a demon, not a hero.”

She grabbed him by the back of his neck and kissed him quickly, then gave him a light shove toward the building. As he ran toward the calls for help she sighed again. “Pretty sure you can be both.”

She got out her phone and made the call to emergency services.

~~~~~

In bed, later that night, whispering so as not to disturb the others in the camper who were already asleep, Mal brushed his slightly singed bangs off his forehead. “How are you feeling now?”

“I’m good.”

“You really don’t hurt anymore?” He huffed a little sigh that told her he thought she was fussing unnecessarily but he didn’t want to call her out for it. “I know the burns look okay now, but I’m never sure about this magic stuff. Like what do I know about healing nerves and stuff?”

“All better. I promise.” Then he reached up, more to prove he really wasn’t in pain than anything else, and plucked at his uneven hair. “Just wish your healing powers included cosmetic repairs.”

She snorted laughter. “It doesn’t look bad. Your hands did though. I’m glad I could fix them.”

“Me, too. Burns really hurt,” he admitted. “Thanks.”

“And I’m glad you were a big hero for those kids.”

“I’m not…”

“Don’t argue. Or I’ll take back the healing stuff.”

“Pretty sure that’s not how those powers work.” Then he frowned. “Right?”

“Probably. But still.”

He laughed. “Not a hero.”

“If you can’t admit to being one in general, will you accept being my hero then?” She put her head against his chest.

“I can live with that.”

He was still smiling when he dozed off a while later.

*****

Image by Simon Matzinger from Pixabay

Silence

Author’s Note – Here’s another little fanfic of mine from a one word IG prompt. This scene doesn’t appear in Always Darkest, but it could.

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It was quiet other than the patter of rain and snow on the porch roof. Mal warmed her hands around her coffee cup, smiling faintly at the one tree in their yard still stubbornly holding on to its autumn leaves in the face of impending winter. 

The swing creaked and a blanket dropped over her shoulders.

She didn’t even have to look. “Morning, Dad.”

She glanced his way.

He was smiling, but it was a speculative questioning sort of smile. “You’re up early.”

She shrugged. “I guess. Bad dreams.”

“Again, huh?” He squeezed her hand.

She sighed. “Yeah. It’s been a rough week.”

“I’m sorry, honey. I wish I could help.”

She shrugged again. “At least break is starting soon. Then it doesn’t matter so much how I sleep.”

Ari put an arm around her. “Are you looking forward to a little vacation?”

“Yeah, I am. Teddy’s not gonna be around, but I’ve got plans with Petra, and Ben …” she trailed off.

“So his name’s Ben, huh?”

She blushed. “Yeah. Um … Ben Brody.” She didn’t know why she hadn’t said anything before now. It’s not like she hadn’t dated before. But Ben was different.

He smiled fondly. “The color in your cheeks is more than the cold. Maybe this is a more than friends boy?”

She turned toward him, her face splitting into a real smile, sleepy brain cobwebs be damned. “I think he really is.”

She told Ari about Ben then. She’d gone from feeling weirdly protective of her budding relationship to wanting her dad to know everything.

Ari chuckled. “He sounds like a great guy. And he must be if you’re this fascinated by him.”

“He is. I … I really like him.”

“Would you like to invite him?”

“Huh?”

“For Christmas? You said he can’t go home to his own family.”

She grew thoughtful. “It wouldn’t be weird?”

“Depends on how shy he is, I suppose. But I don’t think I’m all that intimidating,” he grinned.

“What about Uncle Davi?”

“I’m sure he’ll like your Ben just fine.”

Her Ben. She really liked the sound of that.

“I’ll ask him,” she said finally.

“Good.” Ari squeezed her shoulders and they sat looking out at the lake as the mix changed over to more serious snow.

It was a comfortable, homey silence.

School

Author’s note – I’ve been playing around with some little one word prompts over on our Instagram. For those of you that don’t goof off over on IG, I figured I’d share the little flash fan fictions for our Arbitratus Trilogy characters here. Here’s a little imagined scene from our Work In Progress (which is basically done – it’s all over but the final editing) Before the Dawn, aka Book II.

This isn’t necessarily canon, of course. But it could be.

If you do enjoy ‘gramming a little, you can follow us at Demons Run Lit.

SCHOOL

Mal had been quiet all morning.

When Ben suggested a walk, it was more because he thought she might talk if they were away from the others. It was cold this morning. Again. But the view was breathtaking.

They’d been sitting on the rough hewn bench for a while in silence and Ben was ready to give up. But he was pretty sure she was crying and trying to hide it.

One more try, he thought.

He pulled her in closer. “Mal … what is it?”

She sniffed, staring off down the road. “It’s nothing.”

He slid both arms around her. “It doesn’t sound like nothing.” He didn’t point out the tear trailing down her cheek, visible when she tilted her head against him, but he reached up and brushed it away with his thumb.

She looked up at him. “I’m starting to wish you weren’t so goddamned observant.”

“Now you know how I feel, literally half the time.” He let her have the small crooked grin he knew she liked to see. “C’mon, tell me. you never let me get away with keeping what’s bothering me to myself.”

“It’s stupid.”

He shook his head. “Not even possible. Have you met you?”

She gave him a watery smile. “Today would have been the start of semester break. I’d have been halfway through Freshman year today. One step close to being Dr. Sinclair.”

Oh.

“Oh.” He chewed his lip. “Wanna go hang out at the college library in town?”

“What for?”

He shrugged. “I dunno. We could just … pretend to be normal for awhile. Forget we’re not just at school.”

She smiled more genuinely. “That’s silly.”

“I could buy you a new gross medical textbook…” he offered.

“We don’t have any money, Ben.” She leaned into his side.

“Hey, I’m a demon. I’m not above picking someone’s pocket.”

She shook her head with an affectionate exasperation. He always tried. “Okay. Let’s. Not pick pockets, but you know, hang out in the library. At least it’ll be warm.”

“And we’ll be together reading about something other than the prophecy.”

“Together is good.”

“Always.”