I'm excited for this chapter because while the main conflict had already been introduced, I'd like to think that this chapter is where things truly start to take off. Enjoy!
Benny couldn't believe how nervous he was before the date. Even sitting in the car, waiting for Ethan to come out of his house, he was tapping his fingers against the steering wheel, trying to stabilize his breathing.
He heard faint noises from inside the house and he turned his head. Ethan came out soon enough with a huge smile on his face. Benny couldn't help but smile, too.
After Ethan got into the car and put on his seatbelt, he looked around a little before speaking. "This your car?"
"No," Benny said. "It's my dad's. He lets me borrow it sometimes."
Ethan nodded. "Cool. So…" He seemed a little awkward right now, which was strange to Benny since Ethan was always relaxed around him. "Are you excited? For the movie, I mean."
Benny had started driving, still unable to wipe the smile off his face. He felt like such a dork, but it felt great to actually like someone a lot. And he liked Ethan a lot. "I'm excited about everything tonight. Mostly spending time with you."
The place fell silent. Benny mistook it for awkwardness, but when he quickly glanced to the side, Ethan's open mouth and his eyes looking downwards gave away his shyness. "Uh, yeah. Me, too."
Was Benny doing something wrong? He felt like he was doing something wrong. "You okay?"
He could tell from the corner of his eyes that Ethan was nodding. "I'm fine. It's just my first date. Ever. So, I'm a little nervous."
"Well, I know it's easier said than done, but you don't have to be nervous around me. I mean, I've purposefully booked us tickets for a crappy sci-fi movie because I felt like it. I'm very much myself. Little nervous, too, but I'm trying my best to ignore that feeling."
"I'll try my best."
He was still nervous throughout the whole car ride, but once they were at the movie theater, seated with their drinks and shared popcorn, he seemed to relax. Benny also felt a little more relaxed. Before the movie started, they were conversing about their expectations of the movie. The movie itself was better than they thought, too, because they both would frequently laugh at unintentionally funny scenes. Ethan, mostly.
Upon the movie ending, Ethan had taken a few selfies of them together, mostly to keep this as a memory, then later send them to Benny, maybe even to Rory with a funny caption.
After that, they went to eat dinner in a semi-empty restaurant, which was Benny's favorite kind of environment. They both would goof off at times, record it on video, then laugh about it for a good few seconds before moving on to talking about something different.
It all felt perfect. Benny feared that the date would end in a horrible way or something would cause the day to be bad. But no. Even when they got into the car to leave, they had huge smiles, full stomachs, and still a bunch of conversation topics to talk about.
Benny parked in front of the Morgans' house. Ethan's hand hovered over the door handle, but he lowered it and turned to Benny. "I had a lot of fun today."
"Me, too," Benny said. "I hope we can do this again soon."
Ethan nodded. "I hope so, too." His smile was charming and beautiful. And his eyes – they drew Benny in. It didn't take long before they were both leaning closer towards each other, their lips meeting.
It was brief and short, but still sweet. Everything felt so right and so magical, in a way. Was it too good to be true, or was this just was he deserved? Something fun and happy. He hoped it was. Or maybe this was the calm before the storm. He couldn't shake off everything Ethan's told him about his future.
Still, he had to pretend like he wasn't thinking about that, so he kept on his smile. "See you Monday?"
Ethan nodded. "Yeah. See you then."
He got out of the car, heading towards the house. Benny was left driving home with just his thoughts. Though they were mixed with negative ones, they were mostly positive.
The week seemed to pass by quickly, but at least, Ethan felt happy being around Benny. At times, he'd see drama club members looking at him, smiling, saying hi, but he always chose to focus on Benny and Rory, the two sources of happiness in school.
Monday, Rory couldn't stop teasing Ethan about his date with Benny, and eventually, his teasing died down. Thursday came, though, and he couldn't even think about Rory's now mild teasing because him mind was too pre-occupied with the rogues in their school and their next victim. He was back to reality.
He'd gone to the meeting, once again sitting near the back. However, Jesse came in this time, looked at Ethan once, then motioned with his finger. "Come," he said. Ethan didn't want to come to the front, but he forced himself to do so with Jesse. "We can't have our special guest seated at the back."
He could feel everyone's eyes on him and it made him uncomfortable. Still, as he always did, he pretended like he wasn't bothered.
At the beginning of the meeting, Gord first mentioned that their ritual might need a week or two to be done and Jesse confirmed. It reminded Ethan of the cases and the range of time it usually took for the deaths to happen. Two weeks to a month. This was within the range. It scared him sitting here besides demons who very likely were the cause behind the deaths.
A good portion of the meeting was to talk about the performance they were going to make for the school, then after that, the meeting was dismissed. Jesse, though, didn't get up, and instead looked directly at Ethan.
"So, did you come to any conclusion yet?" Jesse asked.
Ethan wanted to swallow, but it would be a dead giveaway that he was scared. "Maybe?"
"Well," Jesse said, "I'll give you two weeks to decide. You can come to me prior to the deadline to accept or deny the offer, but if you don't, I'm asking you by the end of it for an answer."
He wondered what would happen if he said no. Would they hurt him? Would they make sure he never spoke of this again? It kind of made him feel safe that he had a protective invisible bracelet and an angel boyfriend who was willing to help him.
"Okay," he said. "If I do accept, will the deal be made immediately?"
He was just curious. It wasn't as if he was actually going to accept. He and Benny would make sure to kill them before they'd even reach that point.
Jesse sighed. "See, typically, it is immediate. But we're talking about deals with other full demons. With you, since you have desires and part of the deal is making sure you get what you want, it'll probably take a week to complete the deal after you accept it. I'll need to gather other demons to fulfill my end, and that'll take a bit of time."
Oh. He didn't expect for things to take this long, but it made sense since the deal supposedly meant that Ethan would be granted love and power. Though, he supposed he didn't even need love anymore, even if he wanted it. He already had Benny, a being of good, someone who cared about him, and it showed that he liked Ethan for Ethan, not anything else. He guessed he had to pretend like he didn't find love. If they'd overheard him during this week talking about a date, then he could say it was probably temporary, as a lie. Or maybe they'd think that they could somehow make them inseparable, more in love, something. Who knew what demons were capable of doing?
"Okay," he replied.
"Well, Ethan, I'd like to also tell you that there's another party at my house. It'll be tomorrow night. If you'd like to come, you're invited along with your friend, I guess. And if you have any questions or if you've made your decision, you can inform me there."
Ethan nodded. Not another party. He hated parties like Jesse's. He only liked nerdy parties, or those that involve a number of people that he could count on his fingers.
"Sure." He had no plans to go, honestly. Especially since this weekend was going to be longer due to thanksgiving, he'd rather spend his time with his family. He really hoped his dad would come, though he doubted it. His dad was always so busy.
Ethan didn't expect Benny to be outside the school after the drama club meeting was over, but he was. "Hey," Benny said in his calming voice. When he wasn't an enthusiastic nerd, he was pretty chill, and his voice made Ethan feel like he was in the embrace of safety. "How was it?"
"Maybe we can talk about this at your place?" he asked, mostly afraid they'd be heard here by rogues. He was also hoping they'd go to Benny's and be unapologetically a couple, but he was too shy to say that when they were this early into their relationship. Though, he was happy that once they were in Benny's room, they felt like a couple again, and not just an angel and a demon trying to hide something. Ethan was trying his best to not show Jesse or his gang that he was in a relationship, and while Benny didn't exactly understand why, he still complied. Ethan would've otherwise not minded showing his affection to Benny in public. It wasn't like he was ashamed or anything.
After a little while, their conversation went from talking about school to talking about their plans for the weekend. "What are you guys doing for thanksgiving?" Benny asked.
"Well, if we were a normal family, we would've gone to my grandmother's and spent time with family. However, we can't really go into her house. She's very religious, so she protects her house like it's the apocalypse." Benny chuckled. "Instead, we'll be spending time together as a family of three." Benny nodded as a response. "What about you guys? Do you even celebrate?"
"Yeah. E, you have to understand. We're pretty much human if you ignore the fact that we're not." Ethan smiled. Benny always found a way to make Ethan smile. "But yeah, we do. I'm mostly excited because my friend texted me today and she's coming over this weekend."
"Who's your friend?" Ethan asked. He did remember Benny having a friend … sort of. His memory failed him, though.
"Oooh," Ethan said. "Erica? Really? She bullied me during my freshman year."
"Oh, that's a different Erica than now. That was before we met."
"Before you worked your angel magic on her."
"Hey, I didn't use any angel magic. I'm just charming." Ethan raised an eyebrow at Benny. "I am!"
"Sure, you are." In reality, he was pretty charming, especially to Ethan when they were alone. Still, he loved teasing Benny.
The remainder of their afternoon, plus evening, was spent talking about the meeting today as well as some movies that were releasing next month, which they were planning to go see together.
"Guess I gotta go," Ethan said eventually. "See you tomorrow?"
"Wait," Benny said. "What if I bring you back home?"
Ethan felt his cheeks get hot. Any new things that Benny did with Ethan as a couple made Ethan feel flustered. "O-Okay."
He smiled widely. His green eyes, which were always so beautiful, seemed to shine like emeralds when he was happy.
They headed downstairs, though Ethan realized there was another voice in the house other than Benny's grandmother.
"Oh, Benny, you're here," said the voice. It was a man's and it was definitely an adult. Or at least, an old-ish angel. "Who's this? Your friend?"
Ethan turned towards the source of the voice. It was a man sitting at the kitchen table with Benny's grandmother. He sort of looked like Benny. Sort of. He would guess this was his dad. Or maybe he was wrong. He couldn't tell anymore. This could be an uncle for all he knew. "Dad, this is Ethan. You know, Ethan."
"Oh, the boyfriend," he said. "Also, let me see if I can remember this. Samantha's son, right?"
Ethan nodded, unsure how else to respond. This felt weird.
Benny's dad stood up, and he was just as tall as Benny was. "Nice to meet you," he said, offering a hand to shake.
Ethan shook it and gave a polite smile. "Nice to meet you, too," he said.
"Well, Dad, Ethan's going home. So, I'm accompanying him, okay?"
His dad nodded. "Sure. Just don't take too long. It's dark outside."
"I'm so trustworthy," Benny said.
"Doubt it," his grandmother said from the kitchen.
"I'm leaving," he said quickly, pulling Ethan with him towards the door.
They were out the door in seconds. Meanwhile, Benny's father and grandmother were laughing from inside the house.
"Sorry about that," Benny said as they started walking. "He's like the opposite of your dad. Laid back, but also loves annoying me on purpose. It's just that he makes it seem like he isn't trying to annoy me. I'm telling you from now – my family is secretly evil and they want my demise."
Ethan chuckled, wanting to comment on what Benny said since his own father sometimes purposefully liked bothering him and Jane, but he saw Benny's smile drop. He looked ahead, and a little distance away from them was Val. "And I was wondering why there was a stench of evil around here," she said.
What? Ethan looked at Benny, confused, expecting another confused face, but getting pressed lips followed by an explanation. "She's a hunter," Benny whispered in a very, very low voice that only he could hear.
"What?" Ethan said. Not another problem on top of the rogues! This was too much for him.
"I told you to stay away from this," Benny said.
"Why? So you can protect the demon?" she said. "He's evil, Weir. You know it, and I do, too." What was she talking about? And how did she know he was a demon?
"Stop it," Benny said. Ethan could already feel himself getting pissed at her. Who did she think she was, walking over to them and accusing Ethan of being evil? No matter what it was that gave away that he was a demon, he didn't care. This hunter can go fuck herself.
"He's not even denying it. Wait, Weir. You're not denying it, either, are you?"
Ethan's fist clenched. "Hey, why don't you mind your own business? You think you know everything about me?"
"E," Benny said, putting a hand against his chest. "Don't fall for this. She's-"
"I'm what? Spelling it out for you? Well, guess what?" she said, taking a step towards them, then a second, then a third. "He's the villain. And he has you at the palm of his hand. And you're falling for it."
He could feel the figurative fire within him burning. He wasn't the bad guy. He wasn't. "Shut up," he whispered. The one thing that he'd been struggling with was his sense of identity and morality. Only recently did he feel whole and like he had a purpose. But this? This was bringing him back to his early teenage years, filled with self-doubt about who he was.
"Why?" she said. "Are you gonna do something bad?"
Ethan would've laughed if he wasn't so angry. "I might," he said. He could see the streetlamp illuminating him and Benny flicker.
"Right. Cause you're rogue," she said.
If he wasn't feeling an internal struggle before – throughout his life – then he was now. This was bullshit. And the worst part of this was the fact that he was starting to believe her.
"You're the villain," she said. "And once I prove to the higher-ups that you're a threat, I'll request an order to kill you. And I will."
"What are you trying to accomplish?" Benny said. "He's good. Stop trying to villainize h-"
"No, she's right," Ethan said. "She wants me to be the bad guy so bad?" He could feel Benny stepping away from him, and he couldn't tell why. Ethan didn't want to look directly at him, either, because he was too afraid to do so. He was also too focused on Val. "Fine. I'll be the bad guy."
Next thing he knew, she was flung and pushed against the pavement. He could hear her groaning and it almost sounded like music to his ears. Maybe he was bad. Maybe he liked seeing her in pain so much because he was a horrible person. No, not a person. A demon. What was he even? Who was he?
"E," Benny said. "Please, calm down." His voice was so soft, but Ethan's fury didn't care for that.
He looked down at his hands and he could see the smoky demonic color surrounding him. Not only that, but his hands were on fire. Somehow, this made him even angrier. "Calm down? You're telling me to calm down?"
"You're scaring me, Ethan," Benny said.
He was bad, wasn't he? If Benny was scared of him, it meant there was something to fear. He put his hands against his ears, closing his eyes. Maybe things would calm down then, but this only made things worse. He could hear Benny's voice in his head. You're scaring me. No, no, no.
He heard another groan, and he thought it was Val until he'd opened his eyes. Benny was on the ground, a burn on a portion of his right arm. It wasn't big, but it was enough for Ethan to panic. "B!" he said, running over. "Benny, no, no, no," he whispered.
He knew he'd done it. He knew he was out of control. He couldn't control himself, so who could blame him, right? But he was blaming himself. He should've stopped himself when he could've. But he still felt residual anger, and it wasn't towards Benny.
"I didn't mean to," he said.
Benny was breathing hard. "I know," he said once he was able to breathe properly.
"See?" Val said from where she'd hit the ground. "I told you he's bad."
"Shut up!" Ethan snapped and this time, he pushed her against the floor on purpose. He could see the pavement forming cracks and he didn't care. "Just shut up. I am bad. Are you happy?" He felt so broken. He felt so alien in his own body. "You've gotten your victory."
Benny sat himself up. "Ethan, let's just teleport you home. She can't bother us this way." But he couldn't even deal with himself after he's done this to Benny. How was he supposed to be around Benny when he couldn't deal with himself? He reached out to Benny in his mind, but Benny didn't respond. Maybe he was just too tired, but it felt so wrong. Everything was so wrong. "I'll be fi-"
It was too late for Ethan to stay there and listen to Benny talk because he'd already teleported back home. He felt so overwhelmed with his own emotions. He knew his boyfriend had a burn on his arm, but he was panicking too much to think straight.
"Ah! Ethan, why did you do that?" he could hear his sister shriek. But he didn't care. He just wanted to be in his room. Given that he was in the living room, he teleported to his room and sat there on his bed, unsure whether to cry, hug himself, or break everything. He couldn't even make a decision. He just sat on his bed, staring blankly at the wall before his mom opened the door.
"He's here. You can stop searching, Jane," his mom said. She entered the room and closed the door behind her. "Are you okay? Jane told me you didn't seem fine."
It was sweet of his sister, but he didn't know why she'd even bother. He didn't deserve it.
His mom sat down on his bed. "What's wrong, honey?" she asked, wrapping her arm around Ethan's shoulders. She kissed him on the side of his head. It felt so warm and nice. He didn't deserve this, either. "You know you can tell me, right?"
Should he? Well, he guessed he could always start with something. "Mom, am I a bad person?" he asked.
"That's a ridiculous question," she said. "Of course you're not. You're so good. I know how I raised you two, and I raised you with compassion, kindness, love, you know, all these human values. And you're such a good son. You always listen to me even if you get stubborn at times." She combed his hair with her fingers. He turned his head towards her, and just looking at her concerned face and feeling her unconditional love – it made him weak. He hugged her, and she squeezed tight. "What happened?" she asked.
"A lot," he said. He couldn't even tell her everything. He felt too ashamed. "I did something bad today."
"I'm sure you're not a bad person. You know why?" she asked. He shook her head. "Because you seem concerned. Bad people don't feel concern for what they do. Because they're bad." She pulled away. "Maybe you should eat now, then get some sleep, okay?"
He nodded. She left the room after giving him a kiss on the cheek. He did listen to her – he ate and then headed to sleep, and as he lied in bed, he couldn't help but still feel that empty feeling on the inside. Was he really the bad person? He sure felt like it after what he'd done. After all, what kind of good person left their hurt boyfriend alone?
"Would you stop flinching?"
Benny didn't feel like responding to his grandmother. He wanted to say, would you stop touching the burn so much, but he was too exhausted to do so.
"What happened, anyway?" she said as she reached for something on a shelf. "I know these are demonic burns because I can't heal them. Only a healer can. Best we can do for now is use whatever we can to reduce the burns. Maybe tomorrow I'll request a healer to come."
"Won't it just heal eventually?" he asked tiredly. His eyes wanted to close, and his voice didn't have that same energy it always did.
"It will, but do you really want to have burns for a while?" she asked, coming over to him with a jar of who knew what. She closed her eyes and whispered something as she clutched on to it. When she opened her eyes, she took a bit of its content – a goopy material that looked disgusting – and applied it to his burn, which was near his left shoulder. It was cold and he hated how it felt. Not to mention his arm was still burning a little. "I'll ask this again, what happened? Did you two get into a fight? Did he hurt you on purpose?"
"No, Grandma. God, no," he said. "Not anything like that. He got really mad at someone else and lost control. That's all."
"That's all?" she asked. Of course that wasn't all. He was truly terrified just a few minutes ago. "I swear, Ross needs to get a better grip on his children. If they're uncontrollable, then they might as well be ticking timebombs."
Benny didn't comment on that. He didn't know much about half-demons. Plus, he wanted to defend Ethan because he truly seemed like a good person, but he was scary in his more-demon-than-human state.
At first, it was just a flickering light, then his eyes turned completely black. And then the fiery smoke around him appeared and it seemed to not only surround him, but engulf him. And when he got even more agitated, the fire. Oh, goodness, the fire was so huge. A mere human wouldn't be able to see it, but Benny knew how dangerous Ethan was at that moment. Just standing beside him, Benny felt like he might have as well been cooked alive. His hands had started to form fire from the tips of his fingers, but it quickly spread and it seemed like the smoke surrounding him had turned into fire. He really tried his best to help Ethan, but he didn't know what to do. He guessed he deserved it, though, because he probably agitated Ethan on top of Val, too. He really hoped Ethan was okay. He seemed human again once he came over to Benny, guilt written all over his face, but he wasn't calm, was he? He'd even reached out to Benny at that moment, but Benny had processed it a little too late, and he could feel Ethan's panic rising from the connection Ethan had formed at that moment.
Once Benny got to his room, he texted Ethan. He asked how he was, and if he needed to talk to Benny, but Ethan didn't open the messages.
Sighing, Benny knew he had to talk to Ethan tomorrow. This wasn't right. Ethan shouldn't be in such a horrible state of mind. He'll make things right, and that started with them communicating, but also ended with Val getting what she deserved. If he could reach out to his mother tomorrow, he could probably get Val removed. Yeah, he'll do that tomorrow.
Things are firing up. Heh. Get it? Cause … fire … and … Anyway, I hope things are getting interesting for you guys. Reviews and comments are highly appreciated. I would like to say that I might not reply to every review and comment, but I do really love reading them. Hopefully, I'll be putting up more chapter that you guys will, in turn, love.
Until next time!