"I don't suppose you're a demon of pride?" Marinette threw the question over her shoulder while hunched over a minuscule desk.
The room's only other occupant let out an amused snort.
Marinette scrunched her nose and crossed out "pride," on a little pad of notes. She was in her cramped University dorm room, nose deep in various books on demon history and demonology. The half-dozen texts were strewn over the top of the desk, their pages marked with colored-coded tabs.
Fortunately her roommate was out for the night, so Marinette didn't need to pretend to speak into her cell phone to communicate with her guest.
Said unwelcome guest was a demon, that much she was sure. It's what he'd told her shortly after he started haunting her a few months back. But 'haunting' wasn't the right word, was it? Attached? Following? Annoying?
Luka—as the demon liked to be called—was busy fiddling with a guitar from his perch on the top bunk. Her bunk.
"What sort of demon is more concerned with music than tormenting the human they're attached to?" she probed.
His lazy blue gaze flickered briefly in her direction and the corners of his mouth twitched as he stifled a grin. "Perhaps I'm one of those pesky bard demons."
"Or a sloth demon," she countered, spinning her chair away from the desk. "You're clearly too lazy to do a real demon's job." The sneer she shot him received no visible reaction from him.
"Ah, you got me, Marinette," he insincerely conceded, giving the guitar a strum, and plucked out a series of notes with his impressive claws. "I've been pegged."
She gave an exasperated sigh and shoved the demonology book—upending a cup of pens and pencils in the process—before standing up and shrugging a long coat over her shoulders.
Luka eyed her with mild interest over the quiet plucking of guitar strings. "Are we going out?"
"I need to run to the campus and pick up an assignment for the class I missed yesterday. It'll only take an hour."
"Now?" he ceased strumming to extract a smart phone from his pocket and checked the time. Not for the first time Marinette pondered why a demon even owned a smart phone. Did he buy it, or was it stolen? Perhaps it was an exclusive demon phone, manufactured exclusively by sinners trapped hell. "It's already after ten."
"Campus is still open. Mylene's there taking night classes, I'll be picking up the assignment from her."
"Mylene takes classes until mid morning, you could always wait until then," he offered, setting aside his phone and savoring the vibration of a guitar string once more.
"Or I could go now, and work on it tonight."
"And take the subway?" His fingers plucked out a series of sour notes. "Then walk the rest?"
"That's the plan," Marinette replied airily, gathering up her purse, and rifling through her wallet to make sure she had her pass. Above her the sour music turned a bit harsher.
"It's late, why don't you splurge for a cab?"
"Can't," she snipped, "I'm short on cash right now," and gave her wallet an upside down shake for emphasis. They both watched a couple of receipts flutter to the floor.
When she approached the door, Luka made no move to follow. Although he often followed her around, it wasn't out of the ordinary for her demonic companion to stay in for the day and play his music. Perhaps he was practicing to be a part of some demonic band or play at some concert in hell. Maybe staying on earth was his way getting some peace and quiet to practice.
Because he clearly wasn't interested in doing anything demonic to her.
Not that I'm hoping, Marinette told herself. It was actually a relief that he seemed more interested in his own devices.
She placed her hand on the doorknob, and chanced a glance at the demon over her shoulder.
Luka kept his eyes fixed on the guitar in his oddly delicate hands.
She turned her attention back to the door, the handle making a faint creak as she twisted it.
"You should stay in tonight."
Marinette paused, curious to the sudden fluttering in her chest.
The sharpness of the music belied his nonchalant tone.
"You've been working hard," he continued, "you deserve to take the night off."
A tremble of excitement; if she hadn't been gripping the doorknob would her hands have been shaking? Should she look at the other hand? Would he notice?
Why am I even worked up? He's just telling me to stay home. But a little part of her couldn't help but wonder if her demonic layabout was actually concerned about her.
Marinette stepped away from the door, and his music eased. The harsh anxiety inducing notes subsiding to something more palatable. And when she met his slitted eyes there was a something profound shining behind them, his brows relaxing in what she suspected was relief.
But it was fleeting, a mask of indifference coming down hard, as he refocused on the guitar. Only a dusting of pink on his cheeks that she would have missed had she not been looking for it.
"Alright," she conceded, and shrugged off her coat. "How about a movie?"
"Would it be in poor taste if we watched The Exorcist?" A chilling tune suddenly filled the room, and she quickly recognized it as the X-Files theme. Probably because he hadn't heard the theme from The Exorcist and they'd watched X-Files just last week.
"Maybe a little." Dropping the coat over the back of her chair, she snagged her laptop from the book bag next to the desk and started up the ladder to join him on the top bunk.
Luka made room, his guitar dissolving into a mysterious black and green smoke that curled around his fingers before dissipating into the air.
The temptation to ask him where it went itched the tip of her tongue, but she decided against it for now. Choosing instead to settle down next to him, and prop the laptop upon her knees.
Luka arranged the pillows, and threw a blanket around them both, and Marinette had to remind herself that this was normal, it was something normal friends did, and it wasn't at all intimate to share a blanket with him. No reason for her heart to thunder off in another frenzy.
Yeah, watching movies with my personal demon is absolutely normal. Everyone does that. Just being friends with your demon.
If Luka detected her sudden anxiety he sure was being a gentleman about it. He didn't so much as react, settling next to her in comfortable silence, and waiting for her to start the film.
"So... uh, what's your obsession with demon movies anyway?" She thumbed through the files, until she found The Exorcist and opened it in the Video program.
"It amuses me to see the human interpretations of my kind, and some of the others mentioned this one was... fascinating."
"Right..." Marinette turned her attention to the screen, just as the movie was beginning. "Well, you know I can't stand horror, so..."
Luka let out an amused chuckle and replied, "you can hold onto me if you get scared."
For a small eternity Marinette's mind reeled at the thought, before she managed to reign in the mess of emotions. Trying to dispel her sudden embarrassment and resulting awkwardness, she bumped his shoulder and retorted, "don't think for a second that irony is lost on me."
Another chuckle and she couldn't help thinking about how much she loved that sound.
"It's pretty narcissistic of you to indulge in demon movies; if you're trying to dissuade me you're not a demon of pride then you're doing a terrible job at it."
He leaned in and ruffled her hair before whispering, "Marinette, you focus too much on the seven deadly sins. Try thinking outside that box."
"Alright, but am I ever going to see your true form? Maybe it would give me a hint?"
"Mmmm, too scary for you. Watch the movie, little human."
She chanced leaning against his shoulder and muttered, "yeah, because the movie isn't going to scare the shit out of me." And this time she could feel it when he laughed.
They finished The Exorcist with Marinette only hiding her face against him through half of it, which she considered to be quite the triumph. Luka seemed a bit troubled by the demon's portrayal in the film, so they settled for something more lighthearted to follow it up. Marinette insisted their were demons in Hercules that he was going to looooove, and successfully piqued his interest.
Which found them an hour later, Marinette passed out against his side, and the laptop resting on his knees instead. Luka happened to shift and she roused enough to notice he had his cell phone out, busy tap-tap-tapping away at the keypad.
"Mmmm...Luka?" Marinette blinked sleepily up at him, squinting as the light from his cell assaulted her vision. "Is the movie over?"
His strange eyes shifted to meet hers, and a soft smile tugged his mouth. "Yes."
She struggled to hold her eyes open, and ultimately decided to stop fighting it. The bed was soft, he was warm, and she was cozy. "Did you like it?"
"I did." He must have returned his attentions back to the cell phone because she could hear his claws tap-tapping away again.
"Busy doing demon business?"
Marinette didn't so much hear his quiet laugh, as felt the vibrations through their contact. But there was an edge of fond amusement in his voice when he replied, "Something like that..."
She was smiling when sleep inevitably overtook her once more.
The dreams that followed were strange, warm embraces and comfort melting into frightening apparitions, with cackling silhouettes. Haunting faces with long fangs and shriveled skin, their impossibly long arms reaching out for her with gruesome talons. Chasing her, tormenting her, threatening to drag her down into bottomless pits of disembodied voices.
At one point she dreamt of cold scales sliding over her skin, demonic eyes with slit pupils burning like blue fire, a vicious hiss, and suddenly the apparitions were retreating.
Wordless murmurs filtered through, comforting but distant, before the dream faded into an embrace without arms that was neither warm nor cold.
"Leaving already," Luka caught her just as she finished tying up her shoes.
"It's almost 8am," Marinette called up her demonic companion, who was peering at her from the top bunk, "And I need to get started on that assignment." She scooped up the discarded coat from the night before and shrugged it back over her shoulders.
The sleepy demon ran a hand through his disheveled hair and yawned, giving her an impressive view of his reptilian fangs. "So, are we taking a cab?"
"No," Marinette snipped, and whipped out her cell phone, proceeding to check her emails and messages before she left for the day. "I already told you I'm..." her voice trailed off as she scrutinized her newest emails.
She snapped her eyes back up to Luka, only to find he'd materialized before her, completely dressed and ready to go, albeit his hair was still an unruly mop of bed head.
"Someone bought out half my Etsy stock."
"Awesome," he smiled, looking completely unconcerned. "That means we can take a cab."
Marinette narrowed her eyes at him. "You didn't have something to do with this, did you?"
Luka scoffed and wrinkled his nose. "How dare you."
"Right..." she stepped back and opened the front door.
He drifted passed her, over the threshold to wait for her to lock the door so they could be on their way. But just as his sleeve brushed her arm, she surged up on her toes a planted a kiss at the corner of his mouth.
Marinette pulled away, shot him a coy smile, and pulled the door shut. The only sound the click of the deadbolt sliding into place.
"Maybe you're a good luck demon," she said with a wink, before starting down the hall towards the stairwell.
The ancient serpent stood there, frozen in place, watching his host stroll away with a self satisfied smirk upon her lips.
A decaying heart thundering a wretched tempo against his tired ribs.
And a feeling he hadn't felt in ages burning like acid just under his skin.
Luka reached up and touched the side of his mouth, lazy eyes blinking after her retreating form. A subtle smile curled his lips baring just the tips of his fangs, and he quickly started after her.
"It seems I am the one being tempted."