The ticking of the large grandfather clock pierced the numbing silence as he grew more agitated with every tick. He despised being left waiting. He glanced around the room with a loud yawn in hopes the being he came to see would hear his cries of boredom and hurry his ass up. The room was dimmed, the glow of the afternoon sun faintly passing through the closed light tanned curtains was the only source of lighting. Perhaps, for others, this would have made the room relaxing but it made him feel like a child waiting for something grand to happen. 

The room was clean, too clean, like a museum where you shouldn’t touch anything. Complete with the smell of harsh cleaners suffocating the room. It had a large polished oak desk with matching large oak chairs on either side, one in which he sat in. The other side where the annoying clock stood tall and proud, pictures of expensive art of nude humans with golden designed frames clung to the navy blue walls, perfectly straight and in line with each other. As if someone put them up with a ruler. There was a bookshelf, but it was short so as not to disturb the order of the pictures. It had only three small shelves with six books on each shelf arranged by height from tallest to shortest. They seemed untouched, as if they were there merely for decoration. 

‘How wasteful’ He thought as he picked himself up from the chair. He scanned the perfect shelves for something to cure his boredom, but there wasn’t much there that piqued his interest. A cookbook, some old math books, a few folk tales and some history books he read before. He decided a re-read is better than sitting again and grabbed one of the history books, smirking to himself as the other books fell to the side from their now missing friend. 

Some time passed before the flick of the lights jumped him out of his book, “about time…” he grumbled under his breath as he turned to the giant who entered the room. He towered an outstanding eight feet, having to duck through the doorways and always looking down on everyone. His face was strong and stern but his glassy orange eyes were soft and inviting like a sunset. His hair was a deep musky brown cut short and combed back neatly. Not a hair out of place. Even his stubbled face was cut neatly and left there to outline his lightly tanned face. His body was strong and powerful, his chest pressed against his clean white wrinkle-free shirt that was carefully tucked into his pressed black slacks. Even his black shoes were polished and scuff free. One ram-like horn jutted from the side of his head into a perfect curl, while the other was what was left of a now broken horn. It had been shaved down evenly but it still was an undeniable battle wound. 

“You know, when you are a guest in someone else’s house, you shouldn’t toy with things that are not yours.” He complained in a husky voice, glancing at his disturbed shelf with disgust.   

“Can it, Baal, you shouldn’t have kept me waiting so long.” He slapped the book closed and set it aside on the top of the shelf, further annoying it’s owner. 

“You never change, do you, Kuro?” Baal took a seat, shaking his head. 

“Change is only for those who have something wrong with them.” Kuro smirked, “by the way, you look different.” 

Baal frowned, “If you came here just to insult me, then I am going back to work and you can leave.” 

“You know exactly why I am here.” Kuro sat down with an agitated plop. 

Baal took a long deep breath, “Kuro, we have been over this again and again. I am NOT going to help you search for a place that no longer exists.” 

“Gehenna.Still.Exists.” He said through his teeth. 

“It is time to let go, stop chasing something that isn’t. You are tearing yourself apart. Look at you, you look like a wild animal!” He wasn’t wrong, he did look quite feral. His jet black hair spazzing out in an unkept mess, his face stuck in a scowl. He was skinny and lengthy but he still gave off a feeling of dangerous unstable power. He wore a messy blood stained used to-be white tank and equally messy and torn black jeans. He had deep black scars that shot across his off grayed skin like deadly lightning strikes. They covered his right arm, across his chest and up his face fading into his hairline. His long black tail hung out across the floor twitching around like that of an annoyed house cat’s. His black horns jutted out of his forehead curving up into two sharpened points. His eyes were like two black holes in the shape of two half-moons, they seemed to suck in the light around them and expel it through his seeming glowing crimson irises.  

“Shut up!” He rose from his seat, “Don’t talk shit on my looks! I can still get anyone I want in bed with me, a trait you wish you had!” He leaned in close to Baal’s face, hovering above his chair. 

“Get out of my face, Kuro.” He warned. 

“Make me…” He whispered, adjusting his face to more of a seductive glare and leaned in as if to kiss him, he could sense Baal’s discomfort. Just as their lips were about to meet, he pulled away with a simple chuckle and mocking victorious smirk. 

“I hate you…” He pushed his chair back and took a few breaths to calm himself down, “My actions don’t change my answer. It is still a ‘no’.” 

“Ugh!” Kuro yelled in frustration, and headed to the door, “You are IMPOSSIBLE!” He slammed his fist into one of the perfect pictures, sending glass flying around the room and causing the picture to come crashing to the ground as he grabbed the door and yanked it open, breaking the knob. 

“KURO!” Baal yelled after him, “That was not necessary!” He’d storm after him, “You are acting like a child!” 

“Oh?! ME acting like a child?!” Kuro yelled back to him, “While you play the leader and pretend like everything is fine while you attempt to build Gehenna 2.0?! WE HAVE A HOME!” 

Baal clenched his fist, “I am building a community! A safe place for OUR people!” 

Kuro flashed around hunched over like a panther ready to strike, “SAFE!? Please! You had to get the angel’s permission to make this place! You have become their dog! What self-respecting demon asks permission from angels?! Disgraceful!” 

Baal got inches from Kuro, looking down at him with a threatening glare, “ I am trying to keep the peace! Unlike you, I am trying to prevent another war! Don’t think I haven’t heard about your ‘hunts’!” 

“Keep the peace?!” Kuro roared, “By groveling to them?! The way I see it, they are allowing you to gather as many of our kind and our followers here as you can under the false promise of safety so they can have easy pickins when they decide we shouldn’t exist again!” 

“ Would you just STOP?! You are being ridiculous! We are stronger in numbers! You just can’t accept the fact that we lost! Going around like some kind of crusader, burning down churches and killing anyone who breathes the words ‘demon hunter’!” 

Kuro hissed venomously, “Oh I am sorry that I am doing something to help prevent the slaughter of our people! Maybe I should follow suit and be like you! The angels’ BITCH boy!” 

Baal hissed back and smacked his fist hard against Kuro’s cheek causing him to stumble to the side slightly. Kuro responded with a loud growl and a quick slice of his blackened sharp claws across Baal’s chest shredding his perfect white shirt, and slicing across his skin adding red stains to the destroyed piece of clothing. Baal winced in pain slamming his tail across the floor making it echo through the hall, he’d raise his fist for another attack. Kuro hunched low bearing his sharpened teeth with a cracking hiss, echoing Baal’s tail with a smack with his own to the ground as well. His, however, sounded more like a whip cracking leaving a fracture in the tiled flooring. 

But before either could get another attack in, they’d be drenched with water, causing both of them to stand there with a confused look. “THAT IS ENOUGH!” A female stood with her hands on her hips and a ball of water hovering next to her, “One more strike from either of you and the next one will be much more powerful!” she warned, shaking her finger. She was petit, short and thin with long black seeming unnaturally flowing hair, as if it were in water. Her skin was a ghostly white but had a slight watery gleam to it. Her four horns were small little rounded nubs, two slightly bigger than the others, that glittered an ocean blue on her forehead. She wore a loose fitting long silky blue kimono, decorated in what looked to be a sea dragon that bulged out around her growing belly. 

“Ai…?” Baal looked displeased at his wet clothing. 

“I have had quite enough of you two always fighting! You are supposed to be friends!” She came between them, sliding the water under their feet away from each other. 

“But he-“ Baal started, catching his balance. 

“SHUSH!” Ai snapped her fingers in his face to shut him up. “Your pride is going to get you hurt! Picking a dominance fight with Kuroishi, really?” She shook her head in disapproval. 

“I could have taken him…” Baal grumbled. 

“In your dreams, pansy!” Kuro wrung out his shirt. 

“What did I Just say?!” Ai interjected before Baal could say a comeback, “Go clean yourself up and let Susan know about the mess he made this time.” She shooed him away, and with a series of under breath curses he marched off. “You two I swear…” she turned her attention to Kuro. 

“He is the one being a stupid ass…” Kuro grumbled. 

  “He is worried about you, that’s all.” Ai absorbed the water from the floor and dispelled the ball in the air. 

“Funny way of showing it.” He pointed to the swell on his cheek. 

“You are quite talented, you know that.” She grabbed his hand and led him down a hall. 

“How so?” He followed, wrapping his arm around hers, guiding her down the hall like a proper gentleman, as if he wasn’t just about to fight like a feral cat. 

“You are the only one I know who gets to him like that. I have seen him yell at others but you are the only one I have ever seen him so ready to throw down with.” She chuckled, “but, honestly, Kuro, you need to start taking care of yourself more.” 

“I am fine…” 

“No, you’re not.” She argued.

“How can you tell?”

“Mother’s intuition.”

Kuro frowned, “It’s out there, mother, I know it is…”

“You mean you know he is out there.” She rubbed his arm lovingly. He didn’t respond, he held back his threatening tears. “It is okay” She kissed his cheek, “If he is, he will return to us. Don’t drive yourself mad trying to find him.” 

“Mother-“ Kuro started.

“That is enough sad stuff, now off to the bath with you. I will leave fresh clothing out in your room.” She shoved him off toward a door and headed down the hall. 

“It isn’t my room.” He protested. 

“Fine, the room you stay in when you are here, then.” She laughed, “Will you stay for dinner?” She paused.

“I shouldn’t” He opened the door. 

“I will set a place for you.” She waved and continued on, He smiled and headed inside.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Why must you two always be at each other’s throats?” Ai asked, walking into Baal’s room where he sat on his overly large bed cleaning his wounds. 

“He is such a pain. Look at this, he even added his venom to his attack. Ass…” Baal sighed annoyed, dabbing a wet cloth on his skin trying to soak up blood that mixed with a black gooping sand. 

“Don’t whine, you struck him first. I wish you wouldn’t get into his face so much.” She approached him, making water hover around her hands and assisting him by pulling the black sand out. 

“And allow him to break my stuff and scream at me?” Baal huffed, sitting back allowing her to take over.

“If you remain calm and not engage in his anger, he wouldn’t get so violent. He is the embodiment of wrath. Not only does he fly off the handle easily, but he also knows how to push other’s buttons. Has it not occurred to you that he knows exactly what to say to piss you off? Kuro is very smart. If he wants someone angry, he knows how to get them there.” She’d dry his now cleaned wounds and started dressing them. 

“Now you’re just gushing about your son.” He grumbled. 

“I am a little. He makes me a proud mother. But I didn’t say anything that isn’t true.” She giggled. 

“He drives me mad. Why is he so hardheaded? Gehenna is gone, why can he not move on? It has been almost sixty years and he acts like it happened yesterday.” Baal sighed, “We all lost our home but we have rebuilt as a community. Why doesn’t he want to be part of this?”

“Baal, sweetie, it isn’t all about Gehenna.” She finished dressing his wounds and started to pick out his clothing. 

“What do you mean? That is all he talks about.” Baal rolled his eyes. 

“Isn’t it obvious? It is Fakir.” Ai handed him a fresh change of clothes. 

“Fakir? He is dead, as is Lord Leviathan. They died with Gehenna.” He bluntly said, sliding on a new shirt, he quickly paused, “sorry… I…”

“It is okay…” Ai forced a smile but there was pain in her eyes. “Gehenna has vanished, along with Leviathan and Fakir. You may not agree with him but I am with Kuro on this, I don’t think they are dead. Or rather I don’t want to believe they are.” She held her belly. 

“Are you sure you are ready to have the child now?” He asked concerned as he buttoned his shirt. 

“It is a little too late to make the egg dormant again. It is as you said, it has been almost sixty years, it is time for his last present to me to breathe life.” She let a few tears fall but took a deep breath and absorbed them into her skin again, “Kuro is feeling what I feel, Baal. A loss of the person we love and we don’t know their fate. That lack of closure and that little hope that they may be still out there gives us the desire to find them. If I had Kuro’s strength, I would most likely be out there too, desperately trying to find Leviathan.”

“Kuro loved Fakir?” Baal looked surprised, “I never knew…”

“Kuro didn’t either, until he was gone. He never got to tell him, he never had the chance to share his love with him. That is where we differ, I have something of Leviathan to cherish and care for. My son, Kuro, and my little miracle here.” She rubbed her stomach again, “Kuro can’t let go because he only has the memories of him. He fears if he were to move on, Fakir might still be out there and in need of his help and that terrifies him.” Baal remained quiet finishing buttoning his shirt lost in his thoughts. “I am not saying to pity him, he’d hate that. I am just saying to have some understanding of why he won’t give up. Speak to him softer, don’t be so ready to fight with him all the time.” She’d rub his arm, “If you want him to stay, make it so he can leave too. Make it seem like staying will benefit him.” She’d kiss his cheek, “I am going to start prepping for dinner.” She headed for the door. 

“Ai… Thank you.” He smiled, “You are an amazing mother. Lord Leviathan was… is lucky to have such a mate as you.” 

She paused for a second before she hurried out so as not to allow him to see her cry. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He didn’t take them as nearly as often as he should, maybe that is why he had to talk himself out of the tub. His skin felt fresh and lighter somehow. He felt more flexible and uplifted, the only thing that would have made this perfect if Ai hadn’t left him such lame clothing. A simple short sleeved off sky blue button up and blue jeans. She was always trying to make him dress more ‘brighter’. But he decided not to argue with her. She also left sugar cookies, cheese cubes and warm strawberry tea. She knew him well. 

After a slow dressing as he snacked on his mother’s present, he decided he needed to find something to do as dinner was a few hours away still and he hated to be bored. He finished off his tea and headed out, ignoring the dirty glare of the house keeper as he walked out the front door. He had gained an enemy, it seemed he always broke something when he visited and she had the unfortunate job of cleaning it up. 

The sun felt nice on his fresh skin, and the walk calmed him, which surprised him, he usually hated the sun. He watched two kin run around on the nearby beach as their mother watched them, and a couple laid under a tree embracing each other, tails intertwined and so fixated on each other the world disappeared around them. A deep wave of sadness washed over him and he quickly marched past them. Burying that feel down and forcing himself to forget it.  

“Kuro!” The voice of Baal called out to him, he looked behind him as Baal approached. ‘not him again…’ he mentally complained. “How was your bath?” He was back to his friendly smiley self. 

Kuro shrugged, “It was fine.” 

“Beautiful isn’t it?” He quickly changed the topic. “Such a nice beach, you should see how colorful the sunsets are here. I do love the sun.” He made small talk, but he stopped as he noticed Kuro’s visible agitation toward such awkward conversation.  He cleared his throat, “So how about I show you the Island? We can go down to the ports, we have three main cities and a few side towns. There is a nice hot spring on the mountain. What do you say?” 

“I know what you are doing. I am not going to stay here.” He glared at him. 

Baal sighed, “Kuro let’s compromise.”

“You’re good at that.” Kuro poked. 

He took a deep breath, Ai was right, he really did know how you get on his nerves. He could already feel the heat in his chest rising. He forced it down and in the calmest voice he could muster, “A few days a month.”

“What?” Kuro looked confused. 

“Come stay here a few days a month.” He offered. 

“Baal-“

“Please, if not for anything else, for your mother.” Baal was prepared for Kuro’s rebuttal but he remained silent. Baal perked up, he had found his weakness, “She will have a baby soon, and could use your help. Without your father around it will be challenging for her. Also, with you being constant, she won’t have to worry about you so much. She has enough to worry about don’t you think? While you are here you can get a good meal, bathe, and get information from others.” 

“Information?” Kuro questioned as he fiddled with a round rock under his shoe. 

“Right, maybe someone who was there has some information that could help you find what you are looking for. It is worth a shot. What do you say?” Baal held his breath, mentally begging for him to say yes.

Kuro was quiet for a long moment but then nodded, “Okay. A few days a month I will come and stay here. But I don’t want to stay in your house. I want my own place, it doesn’t have to be fancy or big. I just can’t stand the way your place looks.”

“What is wrong with the way my -?!” He started, but Ai words echoed in his ears, “Very well, then. You can have your own place, it will be better for Susan not to have to work so hard.” 

“Susan, is that human’s name? Yeah, she hates me.” He laughed. 

“How can she not, you always leave something in ruins and she has to fix it. You are like a tornado.” He chuckled along with him. “Shall I show you around one of the cities? We should have just enough time before dinner. Tomorrow we can get you your own place.” 

“Alright.” He agreed and followed Baal toward the city. “Hey… I never said anything because you are annoying BUT… thanks for allowing my mother to stay with you. I know she doesn’t like to be alone.” 

“I should be thanking you for allowing her to stay with me. She is so helpful and kind. She does wonders with my kin and is a great companion to Lillith.” 

“Lillith?” 

“Oh right, I haven’t told you, you usually don’t stay long enough for us to have conversations. I finally bonded with a mate. Her name is Lillith, she is breathtaking, loving and ever so helpful with keeping this place in order. We are planning to have another kin soon.” 

“Maybe you haven’t changed. Always having children.” Kuro teased him.

“You have a lot of children too. Don’t make it seem like I am the only one having kin.”  

“I make them, I don’t raise them. I don’t think I would make a good father. I am satisfied with being the strong seed and having others raise them.” Kuro shrugged. 

“Maybe you are right. We need your genes to make strong kin but children take a lot of patients and yours is almost non-existent, Mr. Grumps.” He laughed.

“Screw you,” Kuro laughed with him, “Man, it has been a long time since anyone used that name. Have you heard from Asmodeus at all?” 

“Was it Asmodeus who gave you that nickname?”

“Yeah, when we were kids.” 

“Yeah, that does seem like something they’d come up with. But no, not for a long time. Last I heard they made a colony up north. They refuse to join the colony here.”

“Why? I’d think they’d like it here, you two were always ‘hanging out’.” Kuro smirked.

Baal shot him a dirty look, “Like you didn’t ‘hang out’ with them often. Besides, they hate humans, remember? They don’t agree with me allowing humans to live here. If they had it their way, not even Summoners would be allowed on this island.” 

“I see…” Kuro answered, “I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as they take care of my brother and sister.” 

Baal nodded, “They sure are good to their mates, so I don’t think you will have to worry about it.” Kuro nodded following Baal as they carried on their casual conversation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Dinner was pleasant, Ai had cooked a meal that she knew Kuro would enjoy. She loved to have him there and was overjoyed to hear he had agreed to visit once a month. They talked about the city, Kuro admitted he liked it, however it didn’t have the feel of Gehenna that he wanted. 

“Mom, please stop fiddling with my hair, I am trying to eat.” Kuro complained as Ai combed her fingers through his mop. 

“It is always sticking out like you stuck your finger in a light socket.” She complained and continued to try to make his hair stay down. 

He’d grab her hands, “Can you at least wait till I finish eating?” 

“Awe, let mommy fix her baby’s hair,” Baal teased. 

“Shut it! You let your mother shop for your clothing. That’s why you look like a tool.” He smirked. 

“I look good! Don’t be jealous that my mother has good taste!” 

“Are you trying to say my sweet mom doesn’t have good taste?” Kuro said with a mocked dismal frown as he embraced Ai, who in turn carried on the charade with a gasp and a displeased look toward Baal.   

“NO! That isn’t what- oh you guys suck…” Baal caught on and they laughed. 

“It is good to see you again, Kuro.” Lilith, Baal’s mate, spoke up. “We haven’t officially met till tonight but I worked in the castle under Lord Leviathan. I helped with the organization of our populations.”  She was tall like Baal, slightly shorter but only by a few inches. She was lengthy with abnormally long legs and arms. Her face was long as well and she had huge eyes that resembled a butterfly’s. Her skin was a soft grass green and had patches of glimmering emeralds on it. She had no hair, her head was rounded, smooth and soft. Two large colorful wings, decorated in purples and blues came from her back and folded around her like a dress. “I would see you passing in the halls with Sir Fakir.”

“Oh yeah, I thought I recognized you. Who knew the one I thought I’d invite into my bed would end up bonding with this asshole.” He laughed and gave Baal a smirk as Baal growled at him, wrapping his tail around his mate’s waist. 

“How long will you be staying?” Lillith asked, pushing her own tail up from under her winged dress and wrapping it around Baal’s to comfort him. 

“Maybe two or three days. Depends on how much I can take of this guy.” He gestured toward Baal. 

She weakly smiled at Kuro, trying to keep Baal calm, “Baal has said you requested a place of your own, I will be leading you to your new place tomorrow. I just need to know which city you want to stay in.”

“There are differences?” Kuro started eating again. 

“One city is mostly demons and one is mostly humans, for those who are more comfortable being around their own kind. And the last is a mix, for those who don’t care and welcome the idea of living together.” She explained. 

“Which did I visit today?” He asked Baal. 

“You visited the mixed city, Sun Coast City. This side of the island gets the most sun.”

“Then I would like to stay in the city with more of our kind. Not that I don’t like humans, but they don’t seem to care much for me. I didn’t care much for the fearful stares I got today.” 

“That’s because you always look like a pissed off mad man.” Baal added, drinking from his glass. 

“Says the guy who looks like a wannabe mob boss.” Kuro shot back. 

“So, Rainy Cove it is.” She scribbled into a small notebook on the table, ignoring their stabs to each other. 

“Who came up with these names?” Kuro shook his head, “They are boring. What is the other one called, Mountain spot?” 

“Foggy Peaks… and I did… are they really boring?” Ai frowned. 

Kuro froze, mouth open, about to consume another bite of his dinner. He had hoped he’d have insulted Baal again but now he choked on his words. “I…Well…What I meant was…fuck… Well, I mean they are useful… You can get a sense of what each place is like by the names. Rainy Cove, I mean obviously it rains there often and it is in a cove. And Foggy Peaks, a lot of fog and tall mountains right? They are good names, I am just complicating things.” He chuckled sheepishly.

“Smooth…” Baal said under his breath. 

“Shut up!” Kuro snapped. 

“You are so much like your father.” Ai laughed, “He was always one for complicated names. I think he liked how flashy things sounded.” She kissed Kuro’s cheek, “Finish eating, I want us to play a game together. I missed doing that with you. Maybe cards or dominos.” 

“Sure, any game you want.” He’d kiss her forehead, shooting another glare at Baal who was chuckling. 

The rest of the evening went smoothly, and without much bickering. Kuro played a game with his mother as she wanted, keeping him distracted and away from Baal. And Lillith took up Baal’s time to keep him away from Kuro.  

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