Rolling, metal window shutters made it impossible to see into the diner. The dog shifters had left me outside, and took off on the tail of a Strix who’d made the mistake of getting within chasing distance of the group. They’d left without nary a goodbye, but I hadn’t expected one. I chewed a lip as I considered my options. I was here, but the diner was closed. Of course, I could always call the demon’s name, as instructed, and he’d show. My heart clenched painfully as his name burned in my mind like a branding iron. What else was there to do?
You could go home. True, I could. I’d done my best with Daphne, the Greek gods would eventually converge on Apollo, and I wasn’t an asset to anyone’s side. No magic beyond my Sight, no ability with a firearm or combat. I’d be less than no help; I’d be a liability. Blood flooded my mouth as I bit too hard, and I grimaced at the taste.
Oliver could die without help, I countered. He’d save me from the shifters, who would likely have ripped me to pieces since they hadn’t known I was under Oliver’s and Viktor’s protection. I owed him. I blew out a shuddering breath.
“Yandrairakia,” I whispered.
“My, my, little Mid.” I jumped and turned to face the demon, who considered me with dull, red eyes in the darkness just outside of the street lamps’ reaches. “I hadn’t expected you to use my name as quickly as that. There’s something to be said about letting me simmer for a time. Everyone these days wants everything instantly–”
“I need you to save Oliver.” I interrupted what was likely a very long-winded speech. Demons were known to love the sound of their voices.
“Save the Omnie, hm?” He tapped his chin in thought. “Why should I? It would be far more beneficial for the criminal elements if he weren’t around,” he reasoned.
I grit my teeth. “Because, I’m willing to make a deal, now, to keep him safe.”
Drai considered me for a moment, no emotion on his seemingly human face to let me know what he was thinking. A slow smile spread over his face, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what he was considering.
“Yes, I think I’ll take this deal.”
“What do you want?” I ground out, fully expecting to hear the usual trope of, ‘your soul’.
“A favor,” he said, evenly. I nearly managed to stumble standing still.
“That’s it? A favor?” I asked, surprised. “What kind of favor?” My surprise quickly turned to suspicion.
“One that, I assure you, will not be beyond your capabilities as a Mid, or will put you in any danger considered too terribly life threatening.”
I swallowed the lump of terror in my throat, and it was like choking down a great ball of dry bread with no water handy.
“Well, gee, how could I resist that?” I asked scathingly.
“Take it, or leave it, but I didn’t come here to bandy words with you, no matter how delicious you smell.” He’d moved, faster than a blink, to stand behind me. At the word smell, his breath tickled along my skin where my neck and shoulder met, and afterward he moved up and breathed in at the curve of my jaw.
I tried to move away, but his hands grasped my upper arms in an iron grip, and I was unable to move. Of course, that had been pure instinct, and I hadn’t thought about that move. Now I was frozen. Even if he decided to let me go, I’d either not move, or collapse.
I was scarcely breathing, but I still answered. “I’ll take it.”
He grinned, and I knew this just as surely as I knew the sun would rise tomorrow, though I couldn’t see him.
“Oh, little Mid, you should have stayed away from Oliver, but your oversight is my gain. I’ll not look down on this fortune.” He chuckled, and let go of my arms.
I didn’t collapse, so points to me.
“Now, how are you going to help?” I demanded.
“I’m not going to do anything,” he said, standing in front of me again, and lazily waving a back and forth. “You are.”
“Ex-excuse me?” I spluttered. “I came to you because I can’t help.”
Drai harrumphed. “You don’t need my help, you just need to use your powers.”
“My powers?” I shouted. “My powers are useless. They only get me into trouble.”
Drai let out a long suffering sigh and dropped his forehead to the tips of his fingers. “By now, the little god throwing a tantrum has sensed Daphne’s presence on Oliver, which is why he’s focusing most of his power on him. Apollo is, among other pretentious honorifics, the god of light. He can bend the light around him to foul even the best shot. You, however, have the ability to See through the deception, despite having ignored your gift instead of nurturing it.” The demon sniffed disdainfully at the accusation.
“Are you sure?” I was skeptical. My Sight didn’t always work on the strong supernaturals, as evidenced by Viktor, and most everyone at the meeting.
“Yes, I’m sure. You just need to help everyone make their shots long enough for the other gods to get there, the lazy deities. Though I should appreciate their tardiness, since its given me you,” he finished with a whisper, and once again his movement was so fast he was right in front of me again. This time he slid a finger down my cheek, and the trail it left burned along my skin.
“Are you telling me I just traded a favor to a demon for…nothing?”
He tsk’d. “Information is hardly nothing. In fact, it is far more powerful than most abilities, as I’ve seen over the centuries.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I went to step back, but he grabbed my arms again.
“Try not to die,” he crooned, and bent over. He gave me a soft, gentle kiss on my forehead, and everything went black.