Harbored Grudges

grudges
Image found on pinterest.com

Hello hello!

This week is already starting out to be a great one! Two posts in one day FTW.

Anyway, I was feeling productive this morning and decided to put up a second post, aided by Our Write Side’s Master Class prompt series. I’ve been having trouble figuring out where I want Videl’s story to go, so today’s prompts could not have come at a better time. It’s great when I feel that sudden rush of inspiration, so yay! Let’s hope (as always) that I can keep this momentum going. For this post, I chose the “Harbored Grudges” prompt, because of course I did. If that’s not a perfect fit for Videl, I don’t know what is. The prompt serves as both theme and title, and I even managed to worm it into the text, sort of.

On to the story!
~~~

Harbored Grudges

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet my dad. With the way things are now, maybe that’s a good thing – would meeting him, spending time with him, make it even harder to hate his mother? Then again, if I had the chance to meet my father, none of this would have happened. Dear old grandmother never would have traded my soul to the devil for power and immortality if the one person linking her to me were still around. I wonder if he can see me now – if he harbors a grudge against his mother as hard as I’m trying to.

Yes – I’m angry. I’m furious at what she’s made of me, of what she might do to what’s left of my family. But as much as I want to hate her, I can’t. What she did was selfish and cruel and beyond depraved, but I can’t hate someone who helped raise me. I wonder if that’s what Lucifer intended when he forced her to help my mother – make us grow an attachment to each other in order to make her suffer once the contract was fulfilled. Probably.

You’d think my demonic transformation would have made it easier to hate. At least, according to Marcus, it was supposed to. Even his attempts at triggering the latent violence inside me haven’t been working, though. They just leave me feeling tired – drained of any motivation to do anything.

I try to push my wandering thoughts out of my head at the sound of Joseph’s voice.

“I’m sorry – could you repeat that?”

“Didn’t know demons could be so airheaded.” The man rolls his eyes – actually rolls his eyes like an annoyed teenager – at me. Speaking of violence, I have to clench my fists to keep from lashing out at him. Who the hell does he think he is? “I said, what do you do? For Lucifer?”

“Anything he asks. I’m not really assigned any one particular duty.” I shrug. “Today, it was collect a half-baked demon.” I gesture at him. “Tomorrow it might be to torture some poor soul, or bend someone to temptation, etc.”

“So what will I be doing?”

“You’re on torture duty.” We stop in front of an unmarked door. The hallway we walked along with completely bare save for this door and the one at the other end. I pound on the door with my fist, the sound echoing down the hall. A second later, Ana opens it. “New trainee. Ana, meet Joseph. I just picked him up.”

It’s almost fun to watch Joseph squirm at the sight of the other demon. I didn’t bother showing him my mark, though I explained why the gash in his neck wasn’t going away. His eyes go wider than I thought possible at the sight of Ana’s punctured chest. She doesn’t seem to notice, though, simply nodding and gesturing for Joseph to follow her through the door. Unwilling to step foot in the torture rooms unless I absolutely have to, I wave half-heartedly at the two demons and turn around to walk back up the hallway.

///

“So what did you want to talk about?” Marcus is exactly where I left him, still sifting through paperwork on his desk while occasionally glancing at the mirror to keep an eye on my mother.

“Is there any way to ask the angels for help? At least Max?” I let myself sit back on the couch, watching my mother cook that night’s dinner.

“The boss won’t like it.”

“Never said I would tell the boss, did I?”

My words prompt him to finally look up from his desk and at me. There’s something odd behind his gaze, but it flashes only for a second before his stoicism is back in place. He stops what he’s doing to walk around the desk and sit beside me on the couch.

“And what exactly would the angels do that we can’t?”

“I don’t know. But if demonic forces won’t work against her, maybe it’s time for some divine intervention. She’s threatening innocents.” There weren’t any angels around to save me, but maybe there would be to save my half-siblings. “Wasn’t Lucifer an angel? Couldn’t another angel undo what he did?”

Marcus’ expression turns thoughtful at this, and he gets up from the chair, beginning to pace the room. “Maybe. Max?”

Marcus’ voice is slightly elevated, with a strange hum to it. Is that how he calls out to the angels? A moment later, Max appears in the center of the room, self-satisfied smirk on their face. “I know this isn’t a social call. So…”

“It’s about my grandmother.” I stand up, unwilling to have them both look down at me. Plus, I’d be lying if I said Max didn’t intimidate me just a little. It doesn’t help that my mark is impossible to hide around them, so that all I can see in my peripheral is the blood dripping on my hands.

“Ah yes – the arbiter of Lucifer’s headaches. What about her?” For a second, Max’s eyes dart over to the mirror, where my mother’s eating dinner.

“As you can see, Videl and I have been delegated to guardian duty.” He gestures at the mirror. “We’re protecting Videl’s family, or rather, trying to stop her grandmother from repeating the process that made Videl a demon in the first place.”

“But my grandmother is essentially untouchable. We’re at an impasse and so far the only thing that’s stopped her from doing anything is threatening my life. That’s not a permanent solution.”

“And you think I might have a permanent solution?” They cross their arms, amusement darting their face. “Does Lucifer know you’ve reached out to me?”

“No – and he won’t find out unless you can help.”

“Going behind the boss’s back – interesting.” Max’s eyes focus on Marcus, questions brewing just behind the irises. It seems they decide to leave those for another time, because they turn their attention back to me. “Lucky for you, she hasn’t exactly been pleasant on our end either.”

“What?” Does Lucifer know about this? He does have demons watching her – they must have noticed something.

“Oh yes – she’s been working out a way to summon angels. So far she hasn’t succeeded in getting higher than a cherub, but she’s getting close.” Max shrugs.

“What does she want an angel for?”

“Beats me. But Father doesn’t appreciate her efforts. We’ve been hoping that Lucifer would be able to deal with her, but apparently our hope is misplaced?”

“Apparently.” Neither Marcus nor I answer Max’s question. My entire body stiffens at Lucifer’s voice, and I can’t help but glance over at Marcus. For a fleeting second, the solid black-green orbs that are his eyes reflect the fear I feel, until he turns to face the boss. I follow suit.

“Sir.” How would he react? For obvious reasons, I’m fairly sure he doesn’t enjoy the idea of other angels hanging around us.

“Max.”

“Lucifer.” Max smiles, though Lucifer is very obviously less than pleased to see the angel. “I was just offering my services.”

A wave of relief washes through me. At least Max isn’t throwing us under the proverbial bus.

“Were you? Dad not taking kindly to the witch trying to take his lackeys?”

“Something like that. We believe it’d be beneficial for us to work together to clean up your mess.” Max seems completely at ease suggesting this, as if Marcus and I really didn’t call him for help – the complete opposite of what Lucifer looks like at the moment. Clearly, the boss is uncomfortable. Guess I’m not the only one with family issues.

Lucifer glances at us – the only ones in the room more uncomfortable than him – before looking back at Max. “Exactly what do you hope to accomplish? It’s not like she can die.”

“You’re right. But there are worse punishments than death. You of all people should know that.” Max’s smile is actually more terrifying than I could have imagined it could be. This seems to strike a nerve in the boss.

“Fine.” He narrows his eyes at Marcus and me. “You two deal with them – figure it out sooner rather than later.”

“Yes sir.” We respond in unison, bowing as he makes his way out.

As soon as Lucifer is gone, Max’s demeanor changes. Their shoulders sag just slightly, eyes and face going from reassured to tired. I guess Lucifer wasn’t the only one suffering through that.

“Not quite the reunion I was planning with my brother, but still. That went better than I thought it would.” A moment later their face brightens. “So, shall we get started?”

~~~

It started out as a bit of a free-write, then it took on a life of its own, as these things usually tend to do. Things are looking up! For now.

Be sure to check out the other responses at the prompt!

As always, think happy thoughts!

PS. Check out this morning’s #TuesFlashFicTrain winner post – a great next installment in Rita’s story!

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