Shane Madej doesn't find many things "worth it". Most things are pointless to him — making one's bed, saying "I owe you one", the endless empty knowledge that is given in school; the list is endless.
There is, however, one person he's willing to sacrifice everything for. No, it isn't Sara. She's a league of her own. He's willing to do anything Ryan Bergara wishes to, and he's actually kinda terrified of that fact.
He, a high ranking demon in the fiery realm of Hell, is willing to cross any plane of existence for Ryan. Never would Shane have thought that a little field trip to the mundane world would turn into a mission to ensure a human's continued survival and joy. If Sara were to glimpse into his mind right now, she would be shaking her head with a quaint smirk on her lips, her lightning eyes glinting in her signature "I knew it" look.
Shane wasn't even sure how his resolve crumbled in Ryan's presence. He doesn't know when this behaviour started either. All he knew was that he didn't care about anything relating to the human for two minutes and — bam! feelings started to sprout from within his heart. The intense desire to protect and serve the silly mortal swallowed him whole and he'd known his life as "Shane Madej" just got a million times tougher.
Of course, the one person he'd come to care for didn't bloody care for his personal security and sanity. Of course. Ryan Bergara loved the supernatural; he was absorbed by the mysterious aura surrounding weird cases: all of it, which remained unsolved.
Nothing good ever came out of interacting with the supernatural, everything with a conscious mind would know. Apparently, Ryan was an exception.
Lord knew how many hundreds of brushes with the otherworldly creatures the duo had had, and how many thousand times Shane had to ensure that none of the other vile creatures could ever get close to Ryan.
Buzzfeed Unsolved was going to drain Shane's abilities faster than any angel could banish a demon.
'So, remind me again,' Shane sighs, 'why are we here?' They continue to traipse through the crumbling estate that once belonged to a "great witch" that was capable of shaking the earth's foundations — at least, according to history. Shane knows different, though. Sure, the witch was powerful, but she'd had the help from Shane's kind. Without that help, she'd probably have burnt out from the over-usage of her energy and mana.
After all, mana is sacred and limited. Even more so for a tiny human.
Ryan shakes his head in mock disappointment for the camera, and Shane hears the rolling of the other's eyes as well. 'We're trying to make contact with her spirit. I can feel the weird energy that's in the air. Can't you?'
'Yeah, actually, it kinda feels. . . Like a dying light bulb.' Ryan's jaw falls slack as he processes Shane's response. 'Wait— wait did you just agree with me?!' Shane grunts, 'did I? Gee, I didn't know.' Ryan's still giving him the look of someone who's just discovered the world's greatest treasure, while Shane charged forward.
There was no use in lying. Demons cannot lie. Demons can twist the truth and pluck words from the air, but they cannot lie. Every word that is uttered is reflective of a being's energy and the energy of their surroundings. Shane does feel a faint hum of withcraft that lay within the structure of the house and inside the earth. However, it's dying out, unable to sustain itself without a power source and a vessel. Like a phone battery at 3%.
There is something in this place that is preventing the craft's dark energy from dying out. Shane doesn't like this. The witch has been dead for 200 over years. Her remaining mana and energy should have died at least eight decades ago. There is someone, or something, acting as its vessel in the grounds.
This vessel has the potential to harm Ryan, as well as the rest of the crew.
Shane cannot allow this. His grip on his camera tightens, a dark aura is starting to roll off him in waves, countering the witchcraft in the area.
Immediately, his partner reacts. 'Whoa,' the shorter man gasps, 'did you feel that?! There is definitely some creepy shit going in here.' Shane doesn't respond, which he thinks Ryan finds completely normal. Shane's first priority is to destroy the vessel, the filming of the episode can wait later.
'There is definitely something going on here— ' Ryan whispers a loud "what" as Shane continues to talk, 'I'm hungry. Can we continue filming after lunch, please?'
'Oh, for fuck's sake.' Ryan mutters, the glimmer in his eyes gone. The crew laugh loudly behind them, prompting Shane to giggle a little bit. Even in these possibly life threatening situations, he has to ensure that some sort of comedy happened. 'Yeah, sure, let's go grab lunch.' Shane ticks an eyebrow into his camera. 'Okay, Mr Grouchy, Chipotle it is!'
— on their way out, Shane hears a voice no spirit box can ever pick out.
'How low have you sunk, demon? To be mixing amongst the puny humans?' The voice is rough and inhumane, but Shane recognises the owner of it. He, after all, never forgets any that feeds him.
His disguise flickers for a millisecond, and a gruesome being stands in his place. His powers thrum beneath his skin, fire flowing in his veins. His eyes darken and brighten at the same time. 'Silence, you fraud.' He hisses an even more inhumane and garbled response. For a tense moment, any sort of aura the Unsolved team had encountered disappeared.
Shane hopes it stayed that way.
They go to the nearest Chipotle, a whole thirty minutes away from the house. Everyone eats in relative silence, absorbed in going through what they have to do for the day. Shane scrolls through his list slowly, thoughts plagued by how to banish the vessel. She may be powerful, but she is beneath him on the playing field. She's waaaaaay weaker than he. But. . . if he even attempts to show a silver of his actual power, then Ryan and the crew wouldn't be spared from the treacherous fate that would befall the vessel.
He glances at Ryan for a few seconds, who's Facetiming the Worth It duo as they breeze through Japan. 'So!' Steven shouts into the phone, causing some severe damage to Shane's ears and causing a laugh to erupt from Ryan, 'we had tons of caffeine today! And I'm still kinda high? Andrew, Andrew, am I still on my high?' The normally stoic man beside Steven releases a pained sigh, and a thump is heard off screen. Andrew enters the line of vision, an equally pained expression on his face, 'I'm so sorry about him. I told him not to Facetime you.' The statement sounds very textbook, and Andrew's probably used it on many more people; given how reckless Steven is.
Ryan wheezes, catching onto Steven's enthusiasm. 'That's so cool! How was it? I wanna know more!' Andrew's face morphs into a look of resignation and horror — his eyes dimmed and body slouched over, as Steven begins to ramble about their day and his thoughts. Shane hears a muttered "God help me" and Andrew leaving the hotel room, shouting, 'I'll be in Adam's room until you're done, Steven!' Steven stops entirely, releasing a noise of sadness. The door slams shut.
'Aw, don't look like that, Steven! Andrew does look very tired.' Steven sighs, 'yeah. But he's drank more coffee than me!' Shane tunes out after that, returning his gaze to his own screen. There has to be a way to find and destroy the vessel before anyone notices. But destroying the vessel would mean Shane would need to reveal who he truly was, and anyone in the vicinity may be turned into ash if he did. He needs to find a reason to go into the grounds before anyone else.
An idea sneaks into his head. Shane does have a "habit" of leaving things in filming locations. He flicks his attention to his gear, he needs to conceal something. 'I'm gonna go get a refill,' he declares, looking at the team, 'anyone want anything else?' Someone takes the bait, announcing they should all have takeaway just in case filming goes on longer than anticipated. The table agrees, and Shane takes everyone's orders, proceeding to the counter.
Right after he orders, he proceeds to put on a show of looking for his wallet. He checks his pants, then his jacket pockets, giving an apologetic smile to the cashier. 'I'm so sorry I must've left my wallet in my bag. I'll be back real quick.' The cashier gives a sympathetic smile, aura reeking nothing but kindness, and Shane jogs back. He flips through his bag, tutting in frustration when he doesn't "find" his wallet. 'Guys, I think I left my wallet back in the house.' Instantly, the table groans. 'Dude!' Their camera man shakes his head, 'you gotta stop leaving stuff all over the place!' Their sound person stands up to pay, clapping him on the shoulders.
'You sure it isn't in the car?' Ryan asks, voice suddenly shaken. Shane shakes his head, pretending to feel more frustrated. 'I didn't see it in there when we got out.' And as he predicted, someone suggests that he should return earlier to recover his wallet. 'We'll catch up later. Once the orders are fulfilled.' Shane nods in affirmation, keys clutched in his hand. 'Ryan, you'll — '
'I'll go with you.' Ryan states. No! His mind screams, 'you sure you up for it?' Shane teases instead, suppressing the overpowering need to lock Ryan with the team in the store. His partner scoffs, 'bring it on.'
They drive back at double speed, arriving in roughly nine minutes. 'We'll retrace our steps, it's still bright out. You must've left it in the first few rooms.' Shane hums, thinking of ways to box Ryan up; but he's afraid that the witch may still be able to hurt the defenseless Ryan. They enter the house, skipping past the herbs garden and split up. Only two rooms have been investigated, and they were side by side, so Shane doesn't have much time to scan through the grounds.
The energy is stronger inside, so it makes sense the vessel is within the walls of the house. Shane ensures he's seen Ryan enter the first room — the bigger room, too — before disappearing further into the house. Out of earshot, energy crackles around Shane, his disguise melting off a little. He remains as quiet and unsuspecting as ever, briefly extending his power into the various rooms of the house. Unfortunately, the vessel, which had responded viciously to Shane, was located three doors down from where Ryan was.
Growling lowly, anger beginning to simmer into a boil, Shane apparates into the vessel's location. In that moment, the walls of the room start bleeding an unearthly brown and red.
'My, looks like the demon has come to play.' The vessel, a small loose panel of wood on the floor, shakes.
'You wanna play? Let's play.' Shane isn't going easy on it. 'Some powerful witch you are, cowering inside a loose floor panel. Oh, how wanderers must fear you! Oh, how terrifying you are!' It is easy to taunt humans, with their pathetic narrow-mindedness and their unshakable yet fragile pride/dignity. A witch is still mortal.
The vessel is hooked, rage consuming it as Shane feels the room rush at him with a weak spell. 'My, my. This spell would have been considered mighty, if your mana and energy have been up to standard.' He flicks the spell away with a lazy wave of his hand, and fires back a spell a million times more powerful onto the tiny vessel. It screeches in pain, the delicious sound echoing within the soundproofed room. 'I am more powerful than the others you've mingled with, tiny one. Don't you remember?' The shrieking continues, 'never forget the hand that fed you, and never forget the deity that granted you your powers.' The vessel splinters, a horrifying gasp parts through, 'and you had such potential. I should've known that you were no different from the rest; that you only wanted power for as long as possible.'
He chuckles cynically, 'you should never play with powers you can't control or defeat, tiny one.'
Ryan finishes searching the room in five minutes. Shane's wallet is a horrendous bright colour that stands out in the darkest of night, so he doesn't bother looking too long. He clicks his tongue, walking out of the room. 'Shane! Are you done yet?' He calls as he enters the room —
The room that was fucking empty.
'Son of a bitch!' He grinds his teeth together, searching the rather neat room for the outrageous wallet before turning on his heel and storming further into the house. He doesn't need to go far, four rooms down, he sees Shane looking at the floor of an insanely messy room.
He's about to shout at his friend when Shane speaks up. Shane looks. . . he looks sort of distorted, but Ryan's pretty sure it's because of the amount of dust particles in the air.
'He is mine,' Shane says to a seemingly empty room, 'don't you ever dare of being even two feet near him. You'll regret daring to bite back.' There's a deeper threat attached to the end of the snarl, Shane's voice is patchy and rough — and it doesn't sound like him at all. He sounds both loud and soft, his pitch not constant and Ryan feels like his blood had frozen in his veins. He's stuck, feet glued to the floor.
The ominous feeling from before comes back, and it drowns Ryan, feeding into his worst fears and greatest desires. An animalistic growl tears out of "Shane's" — that can't be Shane, it can't — throat. The walls of the room are, they're terrifying. It looked as though someone was mauled against it, with lightning and burn marks all over them. Runes and ancient writing drown the entire surface area in a blood red. "Shane" remains unaffected, it almost seems as though he's. . . bathing in it all.
That's when he turns around, "Shane's" face flickers between his tall, goofus partner-in-Unsolved and an ungodly creation. Beneath him, the floor panels are destroyed.
'Ryan. . .' "Shane" speaks, 'what are you doing here?! You're not supposed to be here!"
He should run. Ryan should run to safety. Something's taken over his best friend and Ryan's gonna be killed.
Instead, Ryan challenges the creature.
'What are you and what have you done to Shane?!' He screams, panic overcomes his system, blood pumping loudly in his ears. A flicker later, Shane returns. The walls are back to their original faded and broken state, the runes are gone — but the floor panel beneath Shane is still burnt.
'Ryan, what are you doing?' That's — that's Shane's voice! He stumbles back, hitting the peeling walls behind him. 'You're, who are you?!' The panic must be pretty obvious, because Shane backs up with his hands in the air and his face morphs into the look usually reserved for instances when Ryan gets too anxious and scared. 'I'm Shane,' he says slowly, calmly, like he's testing the waters.
Ryan shakes his head violently, tremors making their way up his legs. 'N-no, no, no, no. Shane— he, you—' His head is beginning to feel light.
'Ryan!' Shane catches him as his legs give out. A weird calm blows over him, stopping the rattling of his legs and clearing his mind almost immediately. Everything is in hyper-focus: the movement of air, the sharp colours and extremely detailed view of the world.
Shane's eyes aren't human. They're a mix of white and black, never constant and never mixing. The worry is clearly reflected off them in a weird way. The light pulls in and out focus, giving Ryan a warped image of Shane; sometimes Shane's just good ol' tall-beanpole Shane, but then sometimes he's something sinister; almost indescribable.
'You could've died! Why did you— are you hurt?!' Shane's voice echoes in his head. The physical contact stops, and then everything returns to normal. The world dulls, and Shane is Shane. 'I'm okay,' he gasps.
Shane drags him out of the house, away from the grounds and into the car. Ryan flinches when Shane tries to touch him.
His coworker sighs in defeat, head resting on the wheel. 'Fuck's sake — why do I protect the most reckless?!'
Ryan snaps to face the taller male, 'protect?! From what?!' A wave of anger blankets his own frantic thoughts as Shane turns to face him. The car seems to have gotten warmer.
'You could have died in there, Ryan! If I had— Christ, help me, if I had revealed any more power, I could've smited you!'
'What are you?' Ryan chokes out.
Shane gives him a bitter smile, 'I'm a demon, Ryan Bergara.'
Everything made sense now. The pieces all clicked in his head.
'You— ' Ryan's words are stuck in his throat when he hears a knock on the window. He jumps, head swiveling to meet the curious stare of their camera man. 'You guys okay?' The question is muffled, but Shane gives a thumbs up. 'A minute more!' Their camera man nods, and walks off to the other car. 'We'll talk later,' Shane exits the car, leaving Ryan in his bubble of conflicting emotion.
The filming goes on, and their dynamics aren't affected. Strange. They avoid the fifth room, gloss over it before anyone could ask. It wraps up nicely, and before they know it, the both of them are settled back in their car with Shane driving.
'Camera's off, spill.' Shane says, eyes on the road. He's relaxed, an arm resting on the window.
Ryan doesn't have a single thought in his head. It's blank.
Shane sighs, 'your mind is usually so noisy, too.'
'You can read my mind?!'
'You panic very loudly, Ryan.'
'Shut up, Shane.'
A beat of silence, and Ryan pipes up: 'were you always like this?' Shane hums, 'yeah. Always was a demon.' Ryan breathes heavily through his nose. 'You— what were you doing back there?'
Shane's grip on the wheel tightens, 'getting rid of pests,' he bites out. 'You. . . you killed a witch?!' Ryan's incredulous exclamation brings upon a deadpan "you can't kill what's already dead, Ryan", 'but you, you made her disappear!'
'Yea, so what?'
'We could've interviewed her, or something?!'
'Damn it, Ryan!' Shane shouts, startling him, 'why do you think I got rid of her?!' Shane's breathing loudly, chest moving up and down rapidly. He's still driving along the highway.
'She was going to hurt you, Ryan! She was going to injure the team! Those "stories" are credible to an extent!' He stresses, knuckles white. Ryan remains silent, stock still. 'She has enough power to kill someone,' Shane whispers. 'All of them did.'
They pass a tunnel, the orange lights highlighting the sharp features on Shane's face. 'I couldn't let that happen to you. God knows I can't, literally.'
'Yes, oh. You're a dear friend, Ryan. Heaven forbid anything bad ever happens to you, especially if I can stop it.' Shane sinks into his seat.
'I almost died several times, didn't I?'
'The Goatman — he was there, waiting.' Ryan seizes up, heart in his throat, 'but he couldn't approach. Not with me near you. He knows how powerless he is compared to me. Did you actually think he'd let a mortal take over his bridge?' Shane scoffs, 'I wanted to eliminate him, too. Didn't have the time to, though.'
Ryan shifts in his seat, contemplating. 'Thanks,' he decides on, 'for protecting me from dying. And, sorry for freaking out on you.'
Shane laughs softly, 'there is little I won't do for you, Ryan Bergara.'