It was no secret that normal humans were weaker than your average demon. Demons usually didn’t get sick by your usual viruses and bacteria like a human does nor do they get injuries by things mortals can. MC was assured on their first day that human illnesses rarely make their way into the Devildom but if they find themselves having any sort of medical issues, Lucifer would be more than happy to rush them to any Human World hospital. Physically, they were doing fine (despite the unusual food they have been consuming ever since their arrival, they were getting the nutrients their body needed to function). However, they could use some help with balancing their hormones.
Luckily for the human, they knew exactly what they needed and who to go to.
“Luke! Perfect timing I was looking all over for you!” they cheered, waving at the angel who was standing by his locker.
“Did you need something, MC?” he asked with a tilted head much like a curious puppy would but they pushed the thought away knowing Luke was never fond of the dog comparisons.
“Yes, actually. I need a favor if you don’t mind?”
“I don’t! I’m glad you came to me for help. What is it?”
“Well, you know how us humans are… weaker than most beings in the three worlds, right? Especially those who can’t use magic or have difficulty controlling it so we have to have medical checkups and other stuff like that to maintain our health so we don’t die early.”
“Are you going to die?!” Luke asked in alarm, baby blue eyes widening and watering slightly at the thought of the human losing their life. Not a moment later, he perked right back up at a sudden realization, “You’ll be staying in the Celestial Realm with us then!”
“No, I’m not going to die, I just need help boosting my oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphin levels, and reducing my cortisol,” they laughed internally at Luke’s worried face at the use of scientific terms which made things seem worse than they actually were (and MC thrived off it, honestly).
“Oxyto- what? I-I’m sorry I don’t understand. Are they sicknesses? Do you need Celestial magic to heal? Are you sure you’re not actually dying and you’re just pretending to be okay and you’re just trying to prolong your life instead of just curing it altogether?” As much as they loved the little angel, messing with him was proving to be quite entertaining especially when he started rambling. Mischief whispered into their ear and they began to employ their acting skills.
“Alright,” they sighed grimly accompanied by their shoulders sagging and the smile on their face fading. “You got me, I may be dying.”
“How can I help you? I know you’ll fit perfectly in the Celestial Realm but I don’t want you dying this early in your life.”
“It’s simple, really, and I know I can trust you with this.” Dragging it out dramatically added suspense and tension to the situation and Luke was obviously getting more nervous as the seconds ticked by.
“I’ll do whatever you ask me to, MC. I won’t disappoint you.”
“I need you to hug me at least four times a day.” they said seriously and the angel vigorously nodded with equal resolve.
“Wait, why hugging?”
“You see, scientists have found out that hugs are beneficial to one’s help. Like I said earlier, they help boost one’s positive hormone levels and help reduce cortisol which is the stress hormone. It makes us feel better physically and mentally since it also helps with muscle regeneration and can reduce the risk of heart disease,” they rambled and poured in various science facts they weren’t entirely sure of just to have fun with Luke who listened very intently to every word that slipped past their lips.
“I see, minimum of four hugs a day, right?”
“Yep! And they need to last for twenty seconds or else they won’t work.”
“I’ll give you one right now!” MC almost cried at the pure sight of Luke’s face and almost felt bad for exaggerating things but leaning into the angel’s warm embrace made everything worth it.
“Thanks, Luke. I feel so much better now.”
“I’ll keep track of everything so you don’t have to worry about counting how many hugs you’ve gotten or if twenty seconds has passed. Just hug me back, okay?”
Their heart melted at the boy’s earnest determination, “Okay.”
The next day, the House of Lamentation household were on their way to RAD early in the morning due to Lucifer’s nagging as usual. A few of them were still drowsy but one perked up when they bumped into the two angels who were just making their way through the school gates.
“Good morning,” Simeon greeted them with a smile. Meanwhile, Luke shot past the brothers to launch himself into a hug with the human.
“O-oi! What do ya think you’re doin’?” Mammon sputtered, debating whether or not to pry the chihuahua off his human.
“Good morning, Luke,” MC smiled, feeling refreshed and more awake from the warmth of the angel’s tight hold and pressing a kiss on the top of his head like how one would do to a little brother or son.
This continued throughout the day. They’d hug once whenever they would meet in the halls when switching classes and Luke hugged them once when lunch started and then again when it ended.
“Why does the chihuahua keep on huggin’ ya?” Mammon grumbled as he accompanied them to their next class as: “It’s part of the Great Mammon’s responsibility.” he said.
“I asked him to.”
“For what? Ya could’ve asked me, y’know? Of course it’s not guaranteed that I’ll do it especially for free but since I have to watch over you-”
“I just wanted Luke to, Mam,” they answered, cutting him off from his grumbling. Of course they could have asked the brothers for this but how do you even approach a demon to ask for a rather huge amount of daily hugs?
By the time everyone was ready to head home, Luke was waiting with Solomon and Simeon by the front gates of RAD.
“This is the ninth one today,” he reported in their embrace.
“You’re gonna spoil me at this point,” they laughed.
“As long as this makes sure you’re okay I don’t mind giving you hours of my day for hugs.”
“God, thank you for Luke,” MC cried in their mind.
This carried on for days. They’d usually get an average of nine hugs a day which if MC remembered correctly, was one more the amount of hugs needed for maintenance and they felt the difference. It wasn’t that they were unhappy with their life in the Devildom but innocent affection was something they missed dearly and having it back in their daily life was a blessing.
“Luke told us about why he’s been hugging you so much these days,” Simeon confessed as he, MC, and Solomon sat together in class. “Is it true that a human could actually die if they do not receive the recommended daily amount of hugs?”
“No, I was just messing with Luke but the health benefits of hugs are real. They help increase the production of several happy hormones in our brains and decrease the ones that cause negative effects when produced in exceeding quantities which also help with our physical well being.”
“I didn’t know that, but then again I don’t really keep up with scientific things,” Solomon shrugged.
“No wonder you’re shady as heck, Solomon. Have a little science in your life so you won’t be detached from the rest of society. Come on, tell me, what’s the powerhouse of the cell?”
“I know enough to be able to tell you that it’s the mitochondria, MC. Have some faith in me.”
“Alright, what’s the acceleration of gravity at Earth’s surface?”
“9.8m/s2,” he answered with a roll of his eyes.
“How long does it take for a photon of light to get from the sun’s core to its surface and from the sun’s surface to Earth?”
“Okay, Einstein, that's too much. How am I even supposed to know that?”
“By letting a little science into your life, Merlin.”
“Do you even know the answer to your question?” Solomon challenged.
“It can take a photon a hundred thousand years to get from the sun’s core to its surface where it bursts out at the speed of light to reach the Earth’s surface in only eight minutes,” MC smugly explained. “So the sunlight the Human World is getting right now is from millennia ago.”
“Why do you even know that?”
“Science, Solomon, wondrous science."
“Bet you didn’t even know that humans are bioluminescent,” MC said after a moment of silence.
“I just wanted to let you know,” Simeon spoke up. “That I’d be more than happy to provide you with hugs as well if you need it.”
“Oh, Simeon, I’d appreciate it so much please feel free to hug me whenever you see me.” They turned to the other human in the room. “Prepare your shady butt because you’ll be having a little daily taste of science in your life starting now.”
Aside from Mammon, the brothers did not let their curiosity and envy slip when they noticed MC getting very affectionate lately with the residents of Purgatory Hall. Hell, even Solomon would open his arms to welcome a hug (which always seemed to lasted too long) from MC. Asmodeus had always been touchy with both of his pact holders so he had no qualms with the new and bizarre physical contact between the exchange students but the rest of his brothers appeared to have found themselves being more conscious with their actions around them. Lucifer started giving them pats on the head whenever they completed their tasks, Mammon would often have his hand on their shoulder or back whenever they were walking together, Leviathan started dragging them into his room more frequently to play games and binge anime and TSL, Satan usually read them poems but now he does so with an elbow on their shoulder or with his back against theirs, Beelzebub always seemed to have something new to feed them and would ask them to help him with his work out routines more frequently, and Belphegor’s naps now usually took place on their shoulder or lap.
But still, it felt like nothing could compare to the twenty second hugs they shared with Luke, Simeon, and Solomon. They were more direct, more physical, more intimate in a way. MC noticed the change even in Solomon who they’d now often tease with the wonders of science (just because they didn’t have any sort of control over their untapped magical potential it didn’t mean they had no tricks up their sleeve). It was funny to see Solomon desperately try to undo pranks only to realize that magic cannot completely reverse the effects of what was not done by magic over and over again when he walked into MC's spontaneous science "experiments". The Demon Lords kept it to themselves, searching for answers on their own whenever they thought about it only wondering why. They were kept in the dark until Lucifer came home several minutes late for dinner one night. He was silent ever since the moment he took his seat so a few skips of the clock's longest hand later, no noise erupted from the table except for the sounds of cutlery on porcelain.
“MC,” his deep voice finally penetrated through the quiet room. “I recently came back from a talk with Simeon on Diavolo’s orders and I have to admit that I have noticed the rapid increase in… affection with the rest of the exchange students and it is within your right to be close with anyone however you please but the sudden change in your interactions have definitely caused a few raised brows.”
“Okay...” they responded, not really sure where the conversation was going.
“I brought it up with Simeon after our business was finished and he confided that he had offered his comfort himself as a sign of your friendship. Luke, however, stumbled a bit with his story and let a few details slip. They were very vague but they were enough for me to realize where he was trying not to get at.” Lucifer looked up from his food and placed down his utensils in favor of intertwining his fingers with his palms parallel to the table. “Is there something you’re not telling us?”
“Um, I mean, no, not really?”
“Let me rephrase my question.” If it was even possible, his voice got even more stern and grim which led to the rise of worry in the six other demons. “Are you dying?”
“WHAT?!" Mammon shot up from his seat and stared at them in fearful shock. “DYING?!'
“I’m not!” they assured, looking at the other brothers who were rendered speechless by the question. “I’m not dying. I was just kidding around with Luke, I swear.”
“You swear?” Satan asked. “You’re not lying to us about not dying?”
“If it’s a human ailment I’m sure we could find a cure somehow, you don’t have to hide it,” Asmodeus said.
“Nobody sent you death threats or anything, have they?” Belphegor questioned.
“No, I’m not dying as far as I know. I was just messing with Luke."
“AS FAR AS YA KNOW?”
“Calm down, Mammon.”
“What do you mean by ‘messing with Luke’?” Lucifer prompted.
“Well, I was just asking him a favor to help with, well, health and he was still skeptical when I had assured him that I wasn’t going to die so I found it adorable so I just started joking around. I guess I still haven’t told him the truth.”
“And what is this favor that had to do with your health, may I ask? I would have gladly brought you to any of the best hospitals in the Human Realm.”
“Hugs, Lucifer. I asked him for hugs. At least four twenty second hugs a day just to boost my happy hormones.” They were happy and the demon brothers all did their best to make sure their stay with them was comfortable but still, the tasks and being thrust into a new environment and finding themselves get tangled up with the seven demons’ problems (no matter how fun) proved to be stressful so the additional comfort helped a lot.
“You could have asked us,” Asmo pouted after their basic summarized explanation as to why hugs were healthy to them.
“I know. I just didn’t know how to and when I saw Luke while thinking about it and it just looked like the perfect opportunity.”
“How many did you say you needed?” Satan asked once more, being the one who was genuinely interested in the scientific knowledge by MC.
“A minimum of four for survival,” they answered, quoting the expert from the article they read some time ago. “Eight for maintenance and twelve for growth.”
“So you really are in no danger of dying?” Lucifer questioned one last time for assurance and was satisfied with the shake of their head.
Dinner continued as usual. MC helped Belphegor with the dishes after their meal and he accompanied them to their room.
The next morning, MC woke up to Mammon bursting through their bedroom door.
“Wake up, MC! Time for school.” he shook them awake and when they fully opened their eyes and were sitting up on their bed, they felt arms wrap around their torso and Mammon’s hair under their chin.
“Mam? What’s this about?”
“Of course as your first demon, I have to be your first hug of the day,” he mumbled and hid his face from their sight as they returned the hug with one hand running its fingers through starlight strands. “It’s only right after all. You should feel honored that the Great Mammon is helping ya with your weird health thing. You humans are so high maintenance with this whole happy brain chemical boosting thing, so bothersome. Don't let anybody else get your first hug of the day, it has to be me, ya got it?”
They chuckled, “Thanks, Mammon. I'll make sure you're always my first.”
“I hate mornings. I'm always so tired...” Belphegor yawned when he settled into his seat for breakfast, having almost the opposite sleep schedule as everyone else yet forced to attend classes in the morning.
“Well good morning to you too,” MC laughed when he rested his chin on their shoulder and nuzzled into their neck. They patted his head just the way he liked it and he hummed in response.
“Mm… That’s nice…”
"Hey, come on don't sleep on me now," they lightheartedly chided when he reached his arms to cling onto them like a koala.
Luke was there by the front gates as usual with the other two who had joined in their morning routine of hugging before entering RAD.
“Feeling the endorphins, Sol?”
When they got home, Leviathan poked his head out the door frame when he heard MC open their bedroom door. “Finally, you’re back.”
“You needed something?” they asked when they noticed the look on his face that told them he wanted something but didn't really say it and watched as his face turned a deep shade of red.
“Can I hug you too?” he blurted out. Not even a second later, he quickly drew back and slammed his door shut before the human could even reply or process the question.
“Open up, Levi,” they pleaded, knocking on his door.
“It’s okay I understand.” his muffled voice whined through the door. “Nobody would want to hug a gross shut-in otaku like me.”
“Well, I want to have the honor of hugging the amazing third eldest Demon Lord Leviathan, Avatar of Envy and Hell's Grand Admiral so get out here and give me my serotonin boost.” they heard shuffling from the other side of the door and the door opened slightly just enough for a bright citrine eye to peek through.
“Really? You're not saying that because you pity a disgusting and worthless poor excuse of a-”
“Come here and hug me before I break down your door.” Leviathan dragged them inside his room and hesitantly encased them in a hug. Sure, he wasn’t big on physical contact but hell be damned if THE Avatar of Envy didn’t want to get hugs from the human like everyone else was.
“Twenty seconds, Levi,” they reminded him.
MC came out of Leviathan’s room a couple of hours before dinner after catching up with the latest episodes of Devildom anime. Passing by the library, they spotted Satan in his usual seat by the fireplace with what appeared to be a college textbook on the human endocrine system.
“Oh, hello, MC,”
“Hey, enjoying your book?”
“Very. It’s not often that I find myself picking up a book on modern human science so this is proving to be interesting and informative. You lot just seem to keep on finding out new things about something you’ve already studied for years, it’s fascinating.”
“Well, don’t let me keep you from your book. I was about to look for Asmodeus anyway.”
“I’d appreciate it. Oh, wait!” Satan motioned for them to approach him and stood up from his seat to pull them into a hug.
“Needed the decrease in cortisol?” MC chuckled and brought up a hand to drum their fingers against his chest.
“Just wanted to see if it works myself,” he laughed.
“If I remember correctly, the scientific method requires one to conduct their tests and experiments more than once and achieve the same results before they can declare the conclusion they've reached to be true. I’ll have to do this many more times before I can give you my answer.”
“Well feel free to conduct another test whenever you feel like it.”
“Duly noted.” he placed a chaste kiss on the top of their head before letting them go find Asmodeus.
Asmodeus texted them not long after saying that he just got home and was waiting for them in his room.
“Hey, you got some new clothes, huh?”
“Yes and I wanted you to see them!” he grinned. Asmodeus was an assertive and vain demon so the first time he had asked for MC’s opinion, they almost cried after realizing that it implied that he deemed them worthy enough to put their own two cents in whatever it was he was discussing.
“Even when you know you’ll look absolutely stunning in whatever you wear?”
“Then just tell me that I look good,” he laughed. He truly was one of the most beautiful beings they’ve ever laid eyes on, so it broke their heart knowing that no matter how confident Asmodeus could be, his vanity could never be satisfied as he lusted after the immaculate beauty angels had even when nothing much really changed him after the fall. So MC did. They showered him in high praises that were never exaggerated in the slightest. Angel, demon, or even human, Asmodeus was beauty in all he is.
“Thanks for coming by.”
“Always, Asmo.” they let him envelop them in his arms which they rubbed with their thumb just the way he loved it and pecked his cheek which he returned with a kiss on their forehead. “Thanks for blessing my eyes with the magnificence of the universe.”
Hey MC, come here.
I need you to film me.
I’m working out right now.
I’ll be there in a minute.
“Belphie’s in the attic?” MC asked when they noticed that the twin of darkness wasn’t on his side of the room.
“Yeah, said he couldn’t fall asleep properly because looking at me makes him feel exhausted.”
“Of course it does,” they laughed, grabbing Beel’s D.D.D. after he pointed to his bed to start filming. They counted for him and they corrected his form too, spending enough time helping him out to know what was the proper form for each exercise to reduce risk of injuries and pain.
“Thanks for this,” Beel’s voice rumbled, out of breath, as he accepted his phone back to look through the videos.
“You know, Satan told me earlier that the oxytocin hormone helps with muscle and tissue regeneration. Have you been working out too? Is that why you’ve been needing the boost lately with the hugs?”
“Ha, not really I’m more after the endorphins,” they chuckled. “Why? Do you think you need the oxytocins? I can help you out right now,”
“But I’m sweaty…”
“I don’t mind.” After giving the huge man an affirming nod, they found themselves pressed up against his solid body. They reached their hand up to rub in soothing motions on his chest.
They found themselves waking up in the wee hours of the morning the following day feeling quite parched. Rubbing their eyes as they entered the kitchen, they were no longer surprised to see Lucifer zoned out in the middle of the kitchen with a warm mug of tea in his hands.
“I hope you’re done with your work and not just taking a break,” MC commented, reaching for a glass in one of the cupboards only to frown once they realized they’ve been pushed to the back (seriously the gaps between demon and human height were straight up demonic).
“I just finished, fortunately,” he chuckled at their struggle before approaching to grab the glass for them.
“That’s good to hear,” they took a sip of their water before taking pity at the disheveled mess that was Lucifer. “Want some cortisol reduction?”
“Are you trying to please me?”
“Sure, let’s say that if that makes you happy.” they opened their arms to offer a hug.
“What’s the scientific basis of this again?” MC grinned and took in a deep breath to launch into a discussion that will for sure convince Lucifer that he needed the affection.
“Cortisol isn’t exactly a bad hormone but it’s commonly known by many as the stress hormone. It’s a steroid hormone that helps the body function in many ways and assists in things such as controlling blood sugar levels, regulating metabolism, reducing inflammation, and assisting with memory formulation but too much of it for long periods of time can cause harm to the body due to the imbalance which can cause several ways of the body’s response to stress such as anxiety, digestive problems, headaches, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment among others. Physical affection, hugs, cuddles, and kisses in particular, puts pressure on your skin and under the skin are pressure receptors known as Pacinian corpuscles. They receive the stimulus and send signals to a nerve bundle deep in the brain called the vagus nerve and also stimulates the orbital frontal cortex of the brain which basically sends signals to your heart to slow down and for your blood pressure to lower which decreases the production of cortisol.”
“I see. That’s interesting,” he sighed as if to say “Fuck it” before wrapping his arms around MC. “You are a strange human being.”
“But this isn’t too bad, is it now?”
“Do you want me to praise you for that?” they could feel his smile as they smoothed out the dark tousled strands on Lucifer’s head. “Very well, then. Good job.”
“I didn’t say yes to your question yet you still praise me.”
“You deserve it,” he took their hands in his when he pulled back from the hug. “I have to admit that the twenty seconds weren’t a waste. I look forward to next time.”
“Next time, huh?” they playfully grinned.
“Will you deny me?”
“Of course not," they put on a serious face and deepened their voice to mimic Lucifer's baritone. "I don't like to be ignored."
He laughed, "I'll forgive you for that just this once."
“MC! There you are, I was looking for you.”
“Did you need something, Lord Diavolo?” the smile on the Demon Prince’s face widened at that.
“Lucifer told me all about the human maintenance practice they’ve been doing with you and I thought it was a wonderful exchange between cultures and I was hoping you’d welcome me into the routine too if that was okay.” Sometimes, one had to wonder if someone as bright as Diavolo was truly a demon because he just seemed too pure for all three worlds.
“I don’t mind! You’re welcome to join, Lord Diavolo. You too, Barbatos!” his hugs were tight and and filled with energy and MC appreciated it a lot since it served as an energy booster as well.
"May I?" Barabatos asked before going in after they nodded. Compared to Diavolo's, his were gentle and felt like he was making sure MC felt comforted as expected from a butler whose main goal is to serve his master and their guests. MC, however, would have none of that and made sure Barbatos felt just as nice in the embrace as well.
So began the "responsibility" of the demons to assist in Human Maintenance (although some had to wonder as to why Solomon, the other human exchange student, didn't seem to get the same treatment from many of the Demon Lords).
“You told me you could have died,” Luke pouted, refusing to look at the human sitting across him in Purgatory Hall’s common area who was trying to contain their laughter at the little angel’s anger.
“It was a joke I didn’t mean for you to take it too seriously. I’m really sorry, Luke. I’m sorry for lying to you. Here, I made you some Angel food cake as an apology.” he opened one eye to peek at the box they brought out and placed on the table.
“...Maybe I’ll forgive you if you teach me how to make that.”
“Deal, come on,” they spread their arms to coax Luke into a hug who gave in after a while.
They’d never tell anyone else, but there was something special and precious with Luke’s hugs that set them apart from the rest.