“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Three, Part Three

This post comes with a trigger warning for assault!

/////

“Come here,” Bella crooned. She was sitting on the edge of her bed. I was pulling my boots off by the door and Conan was standing awkwardly by the door as if he didn’t know what to do with himself.

Of course I went over to her. I would have gone crawling if that’s what she wanted. Which is why it stung so much when she laughed as I stepped before her.

“Not you,” she chuckled, and it was a whipcrack to the face. My jaw fell and I looked away, crossing my arms over my chest. How embarrassing.

“Come here, you,” she said, looking over at Conan and waving her fingers at him.

Maybe I should have stepped aside, but I didn’t have it in me for that. I just stood there and glared at him as he walked over.

Oh yes, I judged every inch of him. The way he walked, the way he looked so disinterested in everything. The way he put his hands in his pockets as he presented himself before her.

“Hm?” he said, and it reminded me of how a student stands before a teacher they don’t care about. I wanted to smack him. How dare he stand like that before Bella! How could he not care?

“Sit,” Bella patted the bed on her right. Her right! I, more to her left, boiled inside my skin as he sat down gingerly and looked at her sideways. Bella took his face in her hands and turned him towards her. Then, throwing a smug look my way, she leaned over and kissed him.

I squawked. Squawked!

Bella laughed while her lips were still on his. But she didn’t stop. Instead she drove the kiss deeper, insisting at his lips. She fisted a hand in his hair and he groaned at the pain, his lips opening for her. I should have looked away but didn’t. Instead I noticed every nibble, suck, and swipe of the tongue. How her hand fisted in his hair, tugging and releasing rhythmically. How her other hand cupped his chin gently.

My heart hammered in my throat and my stomach felt like it had vanished.

Bella licked her lips as she turned to me. Again, she laughed. “You should see your face!” she laughed. Then, mischievously, she added “Are you jealous?”

I didn’t know what to say. So I looked away and tightened my arms across myself. I was burning with hurt.

“Come here,” Bella said sweetly, and there was a patting sound. I looked from the corner of my eye, and she had a hand on Conan’s thigh. Catching my gaze, she patted him. “Come sit.”

Sulking but not wanting to disobey, I dragged myself the two steps over to stand before Conan. He was watching me with a very cautious eye. Neither of us were sure what was supposed to happen here, but Bella was all smiles.

“Sit on him,” Bella said so happily it didn’t sound like an order.

Rolling my eyes up at the ceiling as if this was all beneath me, I swung a leg over Conan and yep, sat on him. It was awkward. I just glared over his shoulder. He looked the other way pointedly.

Bella, however, was having a riot. She crawled up onto her knees so she could whisper into my ear, her hands suddenly roving over my shoulders.

“Isn’t he pretty?” she whispered as she nuzzled my ear. “He’s so much more obedient than you ever were.”

Her words were ice in my stomach. Her fingers trailed over my collarbone, her other hand up my spine. She continued her whispering. “He’s got beautiful eyes. And I like his skin.”

I wanted to cry. Was I not good enough for her?

A nip on my ear brought my attention squarely back to her. “Kiss him,” she whispered. The hand behind my head gave a little nudge.

Oh. A sense of relief flooded me. This wasn’t a punishment. It was a treat. I got to share her slave with her.

I decided not to let her down. With one hand I turned his chin to me, the other clamping behind his head to steady him. AS I stooped over him, I caught his eye. He was angry.

Well, I was angry too. I hated him, even. Hated how Bella praised him. Hated him for his pretty face and perfect skin. So I kissed him viciously. There. I even bit his lip.

Bella giggled, high pitched. “Good!” Her hands trailed over my shoulders, petting me. “Kiss him again. Bite him again,” and she pinched at my nipple roughly. Her nails dug into my back as she breathed into my ear. “Punish him.”

I didn’t think twice. I bit him, dug my nails in, and vented my frustration. Within seconds I was rewarded by a strangled cry against my lips – and a pair of hands shoving me back. “Stop!”

I fell clean off him and smacked onto the floor. I was so shocked, but not necessarily by the fall. It was the anger, the hurt, and the almost tears on Conan’s face that were rattling me.

As if distant, I heard Bella laughing. She was crooning at Conan, teasing him. Calling him names none too tenderly. Conan had his arms wrapped around himself, hugging where I’d dug my nails into his sides.

Staggering mentally, I scrambled to my feet. “I’m sorry. Conan, I’m sorry. Bella -” and I felt incredibly dumb. I’d assumed Conan had – wanted it? In at least some way? But that was obviously not the case.

“Oh come on, sit down. He’s not hurt. Are you?” and she turned his chin to her, sneering at him. “He’s just been bad, so he deserved it. In fact, he deserves more. Doesn’t he?”

“Bella,” I protested again. “He – he hasn’t done anything?”

“Exactly,” she crooned, fisting his hair and giving his head a shake. “He just stood by as I got shot, and did absolutely nothing to help me. Oh, and -” she turned his head to face me, caressing his chin almost tenderly. “I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that he suddenly has someone here looking for him. Is it?”

I gulped. Alright, sending me back to his girlfriend had certainly been a way to get a message to her – but he didn’t deserve this. “Bella, please. Stop this.”

“Aww,” Bella ran her hands over Conan’s shoulders. Then, menacing, she rose to me. “What?” and it was a dark and daring ‘what’. What was I going to do about it? Try and stop her?

I looked away, mind reeling into submissive puppy mode without even thinking twice. I crossed one arm across my chest to hold my other arm. I didn’t answer.

“Yes,” Bella turned to face Conan, who was scowling at the two of us. “I was thinking of making him a gift to you, Chaos.” and she caressed Conan’s chin. Conan ignored her, glaring straight at me. Why? I wasn’t to blame. But I didn’t have time to think that over. Bella was still speaking. “If you’d like. I could use someone handling him.”

Handling him? I pressed my lips together as Bella turned to smirk at me. This was a loaded question. She was waiting on my answer like a snake waiting for my next step. What to do? Uhhh.

“I’ll take him,” I blurted. That was the right choice, right? That way I could keep him safe from her, and keep myself by Bella’s side.

“Good!” suddenly light-hearted, Bella handed me the end of the leash that was clipped to Conan’s collar. “Enjoy him.”

I smiled tensely, feeling like I had stepped into a bucket of snakes. Gingerly I took the leash. It was soft, warm from Bella’s touch-

Bella was now standing before me, blocking Conan from view. There was a glow to her, a power. I swooned, smiling stupidly at my Queen. So diabolically pleased, she took me by the shoulders and pulled me onto the bed.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Three Part Two

The center was in an uproar. Vampires filled the hallways, and scraps broke out between factions who hissed at each other. Everyone seemed to be blaming the vampires that had been on the expedition for Bella being wounded. Werewolves (Munch included) arrived in the already crowded hall, pretending to be the peacekeepers. The situation was tense, and I was just trying to stay out of it.

That meant I was squished up against the wall, Conan on one side and a gang of vampires hissing on the other.

“So who are you?” Conan asked calmly, as if he really couldn’t care less about the fight brewing right before us.

“Chaos,” I muttered viciously, watching as one vampire from the team was being shoved by others. This was bad.

“I’m Kuryo,” Conan said. He pronounced it like Charr had, ‘ gor-ye-o’. I ignored him, eyes on the fight.

“You’re Conan now,” I snapped viciously. Was there a way I could stop this fight? Surely all this wasn’t good for Bella. She was right on the other side of this hallway, beyond those surgery doors…

Two vampires from the team came to the rescue of their comrade, but they got shoved by Munch. Three other vampires added in, ganging up on their blodosucking friends. A howl went up, and even I, disconnected from the hivemind, could feel that someone was about to be punished for what had happened to Bella.

But Bella wouldn’t want this – but what could I do.

Just as I was overthinking that, I saw Munch draw a knife.

“No!” I shouted, lurching out of my huddle against the wall. In two blinks I found myself in the middle of it all, pointing down Munch. “Put that away!” I ordered.

There was that half-second of pure silence where everyone was just as shocked as I was. Munch blinked, then recovered from his shock. “Oh yeah? Says who?” he sneered, lifting the knife in the air.

“Bella wouldn’t want you all to be fighting,” I snapped. “She-”

“You don’t know her!” a vampire shrieked from behind me. “You were here for what – two days?”

I flicked my eyes up to the ceiling to curse, then took a deep breath. “Bella was very clear -”

“You’re not one of us!” shouted the vampire who Munch had been threatening. They pushed me away from them. Hands grabbed me from behind. I wrenched free, only to stumble back into the middle of the blame circle.

A sense of calm filled me. A fight was coming, and I just knew it. Cool, I could make it out alive. Instinctively I drew my dice – and saw that this was the one that Amitabha had given me. And it was 20 side up.

I pocketed it, closing my eyes. “Listen to me-” and an idea struck me. Could I remember Bella’s words?

Could I…

I spoke the words, and they made no noise. Silence fell, the impact sudden and forceful. It was like the sound being turned off on a film.

The air quivered as I spoke, repeating the few words I knew over and over. Bodies slumped, resting against each other. Groans rose. I could feel the artificial peace forcing itself onto their minds, stilling them. Forcing them into docility.

Except one. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Conan watching the scene with a detached interest. He alone wasn’t experiencing the artificial nirvana.

That jolted me out of it. I stumbled my words, and forget them. My last sound was a clearing of the throat, pretending it had been intentional.

The mood shattered. Heads were lifted and eyes blinked as if everyone was just waking from a dream. I clapped my hands.

“Okay, Bella wants us to work together, I’m sure. Who wants to go get the one who shot her? You should be able to hunt her down.”

At this, Conan visibly paled. Not indifferent any more? Well, sucks to be him.

“Bring her back here,” I ordered. “As unharmed as possible, so that Bella can deal with her. How about that?”

There were hisses and shrieks of agreement. Werewolves howled, and the order had been reestablished. The hunters were dispatched and the others let them go. Vampires returned to their duties, clearing the hall.

I let out a deep breath and turned. Conan was still watching, a frown on his face. “What?” I asked, feeling pretty smug. I wanted to rub my victory in his face. See? See? I’m better than you.

“Didn’t know there were two of you,” he said, shrugging as if he didn’t care.

I took that as a compliment. Me and Bella, a team! But I played it calm, pretending to be as disinterested as he was. “I suppose,” was all I said. Secretly, I was hoping this would convince Bella to keep me around.

/////

I don’t know how long surgeries normally take on magical beings, but Bella was not out as the sun set and the hunting teams came back, tail between their legs. Charr had reached a major road and her scent had vanished, they mumbled to me as if reporting for duty. I nodded, then instructed them all to get some rest.

They bowed at me, then left. At my side, I knew Conan had noticed all this. I still felt pretty proud, but somehow guilty as well. Surely Bella would keep me on (I hoped!) and find some way to counter FoxFace’s spells but… Did I really want that?

I shook myself mentally. I had come back from the Pure Lands for Bella. I would save her from herself. I would stay by her side.

Out through the windows, the sun set on beautiful ribbons of pink and purple over the treetops. Conan was still here, and I nastily decided not to send him home. Let him suffer here with me. No comfy chairs for him.

I found myself sitting on the floor, back against the wall. Conan was standing on one leg against the wall for what seemed like hours. What, was he half bird? Stupid guy.

The night stretched on, and on, and on. I rubbed my burning eyes and wished for the comfy bed in the house. I wished for Bella to be okay, by my side, and for us to be together again…

I woke from my sleep by the sudden feeling of Bella. My eyes snapped open and I jumped – and she was right before me, crouching down so we were eye level. Her blue eye was glowing and a large grin was on her face.

“Hey,” she crooned, her hands smoothing over mine. “You stayed here?”

“Of course,” I mumbled, reaching to hug her. She slid into my arms and I nestled against her, overflowing with happiness. Her heartbeat thumped from her chest to mine, strong and healthy now. I squeezed her tightly – and saw Conan watching us from not far away enough. He was standing on his other leg now and watched shamelessly.

Bella drew back to hold me at arms’ length. She ran her fingers over my hair. “Your hair is too short,” she murmured and a guilty thrill went through me.

“Yeah,” I agreed, smiling stupidly.

She rose to her feet. “Come on, let’s go home.”

Hand in hand, we walked down the hall together. Butterflies filled me and I couldn’t stop grinning. Even the knowledge that Conan lurked behind us, tailing like a sulking shadow, didn’t down me. Let him be there. I was the one Bella wanted.

“My Name is Chaos 2”; Chapter Two, Part Two

“Okay, I know what we need to do.” Charr had retreated to the bedroom and was now reappearing fully dressed in a red flannel button-up shirt with black jeans. She picked up a pair of solid looking boots from near the door and began putting them on. “We need to go see the principals.”

“Who?” I asked.

“The principals? They used to run the Academy?”

I looked back blankly, holding out my hands. She shook her head. “There wasn’t an academy somewhere in your world?”

“We have schools, if that’s what you’re saying. A ton of them. That makes a ton of principals, by the way.”

She straightened, shaking her head. “The Academy was something different. Nevermind. We’ve got to go see them.”

Oh hey, wait a minute. I drew the sigil from my pocket. “I might be able to get back!” I exclaimed. “Hold on to me!”

With a frown she put her hand on my shoulder. I squeezed my eyes shut and visualized the sigil with all my might.

No nausea. No movement. No luck. I opened my eyes to see Charr looking grimly at me. We were still in her dinky apartment. She let go of my shoulder. “Seems like your bus pass doesn’t cover inter-dimensional travel,” she said with a hint of kindness. “Now come on.” She lifted a necklace from under her shirt, and at the end was a small black box. “We need to see the principals.”

Well her bus pass worked, so to speak. Within a blink, a burst of giddiness, and a whirl of darkness, we were on a beach. It was boiling hot, and that’s coming from someone who lived in hell.

“Oh hey!” there was two figures standing under a parasol, in suits. Suits? They looked like two government agents here to spy on what it means to have a good time. They had sunglasses, drinks, and one of them, the woman, had sequins and rhinestones on her suit. Her hair was chin-length, like almost every other woman in the universe seemed to have. The man had hair that swung down around his hips. Both were raven haired and atrociously pale. Vampires maybe?

The one with the sequins waved at us dramatically. “Darlings! I knew you’d be coming by!”

Charr didn’t even look around, she just marched towards them. I looked around. Where was this place? The sky – whoah. It was bright daylight down here, but up there – night sky. How? I looked around and yeah, there was ocean and beach and trees, no civilization in sight except for the drinks plopped in the sand in the shade.

“Where’s Kuryo?” Charr was asking her questions, but in my head I was all ‘where’s here’?

Deciding I wouldn’t figure out much on my own, I walked over to the trio. The woman in the sequins was laughing. “How should I know?” At my arrival, silence settled. The woman sucked in her breath. “Look,” she turned to Charr. “You can’t take something without leaving something else. A vaccuum gets created so -” she gestured to me “It’s kind of like a body swap.”

“We can send you,” said the man in a soothing tone to Charr. I got the feeling he was the nice, sympathetic one, while the woman was… the bozo?

“Oh, yeah,” said the woman emphatically. “we were telling you that there was work to be done in that dimension but no-o, who wanted to stay home and leave it all alone?”

“We’re not yours to send around! We have lives!” Charr snapped.

Both agents looked pitifully at Charr. The man held his silence pointedly, the woman did not. “Yeah, well you try and see how messy things get if no one does anything. So,” she combed her long bangs out of her face. “You want a ride or what?”

“Yes,” said Charr angrily. “And you help us get Kuryo back.”

“No we don’t interfere, you know that,” the woman said cheerfully. “It’s a law of the universe that the hearts remain detached-”

“Bullshit,” muttered Charr angrily.

The woman laughed. Charr bristled. I was uncomfortable. “Who are you all?” I asked pointedly. “Gods?” I tried to sound relaxed and detached, but everything in me was bristling. They didn’t feel like gods. They felt different somehow.

Again, the woman laughed. Charr ignored her with a scowl. “No they’re not,” she muttered angrily. “Look let’s just go? We can talk about this later.”

“Cheerio darlings!” said the woman, clapping a hand on each of our shoulders.

Just like that, the world lurched. I saw darkness, was gliding through silky darkness that curled around me like silky tendrils – then WHAM! I landed face-first in snow. Cold snow.

“Buh!” I floundered, trying to find my legs. My arms broke through a crust of hardened ice atop the snow and I felt like I was drowning. A world of blinding white was opened up before me with a crisp blue sky. I staggered to my legs. Where was my coat?

Charr was already on her feet, tense and looking around. Imitating her, I did the same, hoping to recognize the place. No such luck. We were in a non-descript valley dotted with pine trees around the edges. Farmhouses were visible on the horizon, where a mountain rose. “We’re uh, probably somewhere near the vampire territory.”

Charr gave me a dark look. “Is that near where Kuryo is?”

I nodded. “Someone will have sensed our arrival- either the military or Bella. We can just wait here and we’ll get picked up soon.”

“By whom? Which one do we need?”

I balked. Uh, I wasn’t sure? “Well I’d rather go see Bella, and you want to see your boyfriend so,” I shrugged. “We hope for vampires?”

Charr gave me a narrow look. “You don’t seem like you have a plan.”

I grinned nervously.

“My Name is Chaos 2”; Chapter Two, Part One

Oh, okay. I looked around again. This was definitely a bedroom. An adult bedroom, by the looks of it. There was just the bed, dresser drawers, and some paraphnelia and gadgets and piles of clothes – but nothing else. With a second glance, I realized the woman wasn’t that old. About my age, maybe a year older?

Okay, okay. I propped myself up on an elbow carefully. Time to get out of here. Where the fuck was I anyways?

I brushed the blankets off of me, swept my legs out of bed – and she stirred.

She mumbled something, flinging an arm out. I dodged it and rose to my feet. Okay, I was safe?

Sniff sniff. I swear, she sniffed the air. I turned just in time to see her bolt up, eyes flaring wide open.

She was medium height and relatively average build for a woman. She had black hair that was cut in a plain bob. Nothing exceptional except for her large, green, cat-like eyes and cat-like face..

But uh, something had to be exceptional about her, because she didn’t start screaming at the sight of me, just out of her bed. “Goryeo?” she called, or something like that.

Shit, servants? I looked at the bedroom door, but no one came. She called again. Then, looking around, she asked “Who are you? Where’s Goryeo?” and she looked around again.

“I- I’m leaving,” and I marched around the bed to get to the door.

She snatched my arm in a vice grip, yanking me to a stop. She shouted that g- something again. But there was no answer.

On her feet now (and dressed in light blue fluffy pj’s) she was at my side. “Who are you?” she demanded, glaring into my eyes. I tried to shake her off, but her grip wouldn’t go, and now she was between me and the door.

“I’m leaving!” I enunciated in her face. “Get out of my way!”

She got up in my face, as if we were taking turns yelling. “Who? Are you? Where’s? My boyfriend?”

and she held up a fist between us menacingly. Cute.

I pushed her fist away. “Don’t make me fight you. Now get the fuck out of my way. Now.”

Wham. That was one punch to the stomach that I didn’t see coming. It was perfectly aimed, knocking the breath right out of me in a most painful way.

Gasping for air, I was yanked up into her face by the shoudler.

“Don’t make me ask again,” she hissed, eyes wide and rabid. “Who are you?”

“Chaos,” I gasped as I got some air back into me. “I’m Chaos.”

“Who sent you?!” she barked, and I got the impression that she was used to this. A trained fighter? Just my fucking luck.

“Bella,” I wheezed as I could finally breathe. “I was just sent here. I’ve done nothing! I was- just sent okay?”

“By who?” she fairly yelled into my face.

“Bella!” I snapped back, shaking my shoulder to try and get free. It was pointless. She held me, eyes flaring.

“Who?” she asked, obviously clueless.

“Bella!” I repeated. “Vampire landlady? Hellion raiser? No?”

She let me go. “Have you seen Goryeo?” again with that name!

“I don’t even know what that is!” I snapped, rubbing my shoulder and wincing as I rolled it out.

She snatched up a picture from the bedside and held it up to me. “Him! My boyfriend!”

Aww, crap. It was one of those cute couple selfie pictures where their heads were together and they were smiling like idiots. And yep, it was Bella’s new lackey, looking so happy next to this woman.

“Oh,” I said flatly.

She lowered the picture. “Where is he?”

I gulped. “I uh- he’s the one who sent me here? He’s with Bella.”

“Who is this? Where is she?”

I rubbed my nose awkwardly. “Uh, they’re probably sleeping together, you know. Just so you know.”

She looked absolutely unfazed, like I’d said ‘they’re probably breathing air’. She even tilted her head to the side like i’d said something extra dumb. She pointed again to the picture. “Where is he?”

“Canada, Quebec, definitely not Nunavut – look it’s the vampire place, okay? You won’t be able to just waltz right in and -” I paused, catching a glimpse of the window. Of the open window. It had flimsy curtains over it, but there was a warm breeze coming through it, along with sunlight. “Where am I?” I asked. “Hawaii?”

“Ha- what?” her eyes narrowed. “Which world are you from?”

I just ogled her on that one. “The god realm,” I said slowly. “But isn’t this the incarnate plane?”

She just stared at me. “You’re a spirit?”

I put on a cheezy grin. “Yeah I-”

“Then what the fuck are you doing here?”

“I was sent here! By-” I gestured to the picture. “Him.”

She wrapped her arms protectively around the picture, frowning. Then, as if second guessing her thoughts, she set the picture back down on the handtable. “We need to talk,” she said flatly. “Do you drink tea?”

“Ech,” I grumbled. What was it with people and leaf-water? “No.”

She gave me a nonplussed look. “Coffee then?”

I nodded.

////

The apartment was ridiculously tiny, but cute. Cozy, even. Just in case you didn’t know who lived here, there were pictures of the couple up on the wall in a multi-picture frame, along with some other people.

“That’s our cube’s pictures,” she said as she set a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee on the dinky little wooden table. She set a cup of tea for herself, then sat on one side of the table. She gestured at the other chair. “Sit. I’m Charr, by the way.”

“Chaos,” I muttered as I sat. She hadn’t asked me what I wanted in my coffee, and it was black. Meh.

I was expecting a moment of silence. But she just sipped her tea, set it down, and started. “Where are you from? Tell me everything.”

“I told you-”

But she cut me off. “Your world. What’s happening there? You say Goryeo sent you. Was it far, when he sent you? Did you,” she hesitated “cross dimensions?”

I just blinked. How did she know about that? Unless – “Does he do this often?”

“Shit,” she muttered, pressing fingertips to her forehead. Then, to me she said “no, but he’s a natural wielder – he can travel and send people and control energy and souls.”

No shit. I tried not to look impressed, but being quite secretly jealous. Bella had leveled up after me, I guess. “And you?” I asked.

She was nonplussed. “I was a shield for the academy,” at the blankness in my expression she added “a bodyguard of sorts, you could say. Magical bodyguard.”

“Cool,” I nodded, trying not to be impressed. I felt kind of lame next to these two for some reason. I was, uh, screw-up extraordinaire?

“Tell me more,” she said. “Who is this – Bella? Person?”

So I told her. I went into a long schpiel about how there had been a vampire uprising that I’d been sent to deal with, that I switched sides to help Bella, and uh, well, I glossed over a bunch of points. Mainly that I’d fallen for her, and that, you know, she’d used me like a tissue. Or a shooting target. Something of the sort.

I finished with summarizing that I’d been captured by the army, sent to Bella, who then sent me here.

Charr made a frownie face, like she was really thinking this through. “Is it me or you’re getting sent around a lot?”

I nodded. “Yeah, you could say that.”

“My Name is Chaos 2”; Chapter One, Part Two

“You don’t look so hot,” said one of the team members as she sat down next to me. I was sitting on the three steps that led into the barracks, and badly wanted a cigarette. What? Think death sticks aren’t available in hell?

“I’m cold,” I snapped, though it absolutely wasn’t the case. We’d just finished doing the days’ push-ups and running around, but I just wanted to sit and think. Alone. Which, pointedly, was not happening.

“Really? It’s not that cold today,” she said, looking around at the snow piles around the barracks. Grouchily, I had to admit that it was no longer ‘freeze in your nostrils cold’, being merely ‘freeze the toes off’ cold. Friggin’ weather.

“It was sarcastic,” I grumbled. “I’m just-” and I shrugged.

“Oh,” she said as if that was a shocker. What? Did they all think that I had a resting grouch face?

Then, to my shock, she put an arm around my shoulder. “Chipper up! It’ going to work out! What’s the problem?” and she gave me a tight squeeze.

I glared at her. Hugs were just not a thing in hell → unless you were Lucifer. But were those hugs nice? No. But she didn’t get the hint. So I heaved a sigh. “I want to go home,” I grumbled lamely, because I wasn’t sure how to explain the giant mess I was in. My girlfriend was a psycho, I’d betrayed my family, and I was trapped by the military. By FoxFace in particular.

“Oh,” and she gave me another squeeze/rattle that was supposed to be comforting. “We all do, you know. But if we don’t do this, there won ‘t be a home for anyone, you know?”

I grumbled and didn’t want to listen. Sure, whatever. Poor humans pity poo poo. I wanted my mess to be over with. At least they didn’t have to deal with all the stuff that was happening to me.

She had a genuine smile on when I glanced at her. “It can’t be that different for you,” she was saying. “Is it?”

Girl, you have NO IDEA, I wanted to yell. But something clicked in my head. Bella did want to destroy the Pure Lands. I did have to do this to take care of those Buddhas and that lovely place.

So I squared my shoulders, mustered myself together. I could mope about my seeming eternity of servitude later. Right now, I had a girlfriend to save, and the Pure Lands to keep pure. A lot of stuff to do, really!

And hey, something would probably go screwy in FoxFace’s plans regarding me. That’s just the way things seemed to be going.

So I smiled at my war-buddy. “You’re right,” I said cheerfully.

I mean shit, things couldn’t get much worse, could they?

////

They day we were set to captured Bella, you could feel it in the air that something was brewing. Did Bella know? Was she waiting for us with bated breath? I could imagine her, standing there with a hand on her hip and that leash in hand, just waiting for me to show up.

Of course it was a stupid vision. Bella wouldn’t stand that long if she could sit and be regal. And what would she do with the leash? Whip me? Come on, Chaos.

But still, as we all geared up I was nervous. This was Bella we were talking about! My girlfriend – and then, only then, as I was putting on a chest-piece of bullet proof armor, did I think that hey, maybe she didn’t think of us as a thing anymore.

I almost dropped the armor.

Rattling myself mentally, I went back to putting all this crap on. A fellow soldier checked me over, we all nodded at each other, and we were ready.

My heart was hammering in my throat as we entered the lab in single file, all decked out in our gear and with vizors on. I just had the feeling that something was about to go terribly wrong. Like, really, really, wrong.

As we lined up in the room with blinding lights I realized I’d forgotten to roll my new dice. Great, Chaos. Good job, dumbass.

One by one, we were given a pill.

“It’s new!” Leo was saying happily. “The pill should reduce the nausea effects and allow us for greater precision as to your transport!”

We all swallowed dutifully. Then, “Good luck,” said Leo as he flicked a switch that was attached to his tablet. The room lurched.

How the hell that tablet worked was beyond me. But the next thing I knew I was zooming through the void, and reapparating – in a living room.

“Jesus on a fucking stick,” I cursed as I spun and recognized Bella’s living room – and the dozen or so rifles pointed directly at me. Held by vampires, of course.

Look to the left- look to the right – I didn’t need to look fucking up and down to see my team was nowhere to be seen. I held my hands out. “Good job,” I congratulated both Bella and Leo under my breath.

A high pitched laugh rewarded me. Bella was at the opposite end of the living room, directly behind the line of her cronies. Safe, as usual.

“Choas, so nice of you to drop by,” she said callously. Then she burst out in laughter.

I didn’t know what to do. So I just stood there, hands out and wondering how this had gone so, so, utterly bad.

“I don’t think your new boss understands how magic works,” Bella drawled as she stepped forward. Then, with a gleeful grin from Bella, I felt a ripple through the room. She had sent a silent message.

In that split second, I could have zapped myself away with FoxFace’s sigil. But something stopped me. Bella was right there! So close!

I wanted to stay with her.

And so I was thudded full like a pincushion full of flying needles. One or two jammed in my throat, the rest (courtesy of the vampire’s poor aim) landing in my armor.

The room swerved and the floor smacked up the meet me. But hey, this time I was padded with armor and a helmet so it didn’t really hurt. But right before the darkness took over, I noticed something.

Through the mass of vampires, there was someone standing beside Bella. Someone who was tethered to her via leash. They had deep blue hair.

/////

I came to feeling pissed off. Angry and hurt in a terrible way. Of course I remembered why the instant I opened my eyes: the problem was right there. Bella, with a new slave at her side.

Yeah, he was older than me by a fuckin’ year or two, had a pretty face, was paler than me by two shades, and had a lovely tilt to his large eyes. Probably from some east asian pantheon or something.

Oh yeah, and What the Hell? He was wearing a collar just like I used to, complete with the little bottle of blood on it. He was even wearing black, like me!

I wanted to bust his face in. He looked bored. Like he couldn’t give a crap about where he was, or what was happening. How dare he?

I, on the other hand, must have been turning all the shades of purple and pissed off. I was strapped down (Again?!) to some sort of table. This must be the laboratory in their center, because the room felt, looked, and smelt clinical.

“Hey Chaos,” Bella cooed. I melted as she stepped forward to stand by my side. Her fingers trailed down my cheek to cup my chin. Then her nails dug in. I winced, but really, I didn’t totally mind the pain. It was the look in her eye that bothered me. She looked sad, miserable even.

“You could have stayed away, you know,” she whispered.

“They sent me,” I whispered hoarsely. “I have no choice.” And she knew that!

Bella smiled softly. It broke my heart, and I was sure hers was breaking too. “I love you,” she whispered before stooping over me.

We kissed. At my side, her fingers caressed down my hand and our fingers laced together.

For an idiotic flutter of a moment, I thought everything was going to be okay. We were together now, right?

Abso-fucking-lutely wrong.

Bella drew back with a satisfied smile to her lips. “Send her away,” she said, the order not intended for me at all.

The other one, the me-replacement, stepped forward. I gave him a dirty look but he didn’t look likehe cared two bits. He just stepped to my side, then turned to Bella who was walking away. “Where to?” he asked, and damn! He even had a nice voice. Fucking not fair.

Bella whirled towards him. “Where you came from, you idiot! Do I have to tell you everything twice? Just do it!”

Version 2.0 tilted their head to the side in acceptance. They lifted their arms above me, then closed their eyes.

I was expecting a spell. Fireworks and impressive displays. I was hoping for failure of the most spectacular kind, though. For their magic to not match up to mine.

Instead, I felt my very soul being seized in a firm grip. Then, with a jolt, I was catapulted through space.

Like, really! It was full-out trippy and better yet worse than any traveling I’d ever done through a portal. I was whole, but whizzing through galaxies and dimensions and I felt immortal and timeless and –

Wham. I landed in a soft fluff.

My eyes opened and there was a ceiling. I was in a bed. And beside me, laying serenely in pillows and blankets with a small smile on, was a woman.

“My Name is Chaos 2” Prologue and Chapter One, Part One

I landed back in the world, sword in one hand and bad-assery in the other. Or so I thought. In reality I had every intention of teleporting/zapping myself back to Lucifer’s realm just to, you know, try and catch Bella or something.

Instead, I landed in the mortal/incarnate realm. Bam! I careened on my feet, Bella’s sword in hand and grogginess in the other. The lab veered around me and I felt myself keel over- then right myself suddenly thanks to a grip on my arm.

At my side, FoxFace peered at me. “You’re alone. What happened?”

I staggered as my wobbly legs found their footing (hah!). I held up a finger between us. “Just a min,” I mumbled as the room began slowing down its spinning.

FoxFace clapped me on both shoulders and looked me in the eyes. There were soldiers lining the walls of this lab and they were also glaring at me with all the strength in their eyeballs. But FoxFace shook me stiffly so I looked her in the eyes. “Where is Bella?” she asked crisply.

Alright, the room had slowed down. I shook my head. “I don’t know, I – chased her, and – she got away,” I rattled myself mentally. I felt sick. Oozy. Covered in slime. Was this the effect of the portal, or of going from the Pure Lands back into samsara? Because I felt dirty, and certainly less enlightened than I had been just moments ago. Now the decision to ‘heal’ Bella sounded silly. I wasn’t a Buddha! What could I do? And besides, I had another problem that was glaring me in the face right now.

“What happened?” she looked me over. “You don’t seem wounded.”

“I’m not,” I wrung myself free from her grasp. “I just -” and I didn’t know what to say.

FoxFace gave me a cold stare. Then, with every move speaking volumes of disdain, she turned and marched away.

Chapter One

The department I had been shunted into was the ‘paranormal control agency’. Led by FoxFace, it was largely composed of buffbuff men and women with buzzcuts and egos as big as their biceps. I was shunted to a barracks, given a uniform, and told ‘Welcome to the Squad’.

I had promptly dropped the uniform on the floor and snorted. “Yeah, right!” I’d said.

The officer gave me a nasty smirk. “Kid, we have full permission to make your life a living hell, and to ship you back into the lab if you throw a tantrum. So get your uniform on, or you’re going back into the lab to live the life of a petri dish!”

I wasn’t too sure that they actually had any petri dishes large enough to hold my ego but – I scowled and put the uniform on. Just because anything that kept me out of the lab was a good thing. I didn’t want any more needles, tests, or whathaveyou. And if EVER I saw Leo again, I was punching the man. Jerk.

The next few days were… particular. My hair was cut into a short something or other. I met the rest of the squad. They all looked the same, and were significantly taller than me. In the evening they played card games. The next morning I literally fell out of bed (the top bunk, in case you needed to know) when the morning whistle was blown. We all did a ridiculous amount of push-ups and situps for the sake of ‘warming up’.

Then, after a gross serving of food, I was sent to the office of a certain ‘Officer Standish’, who turned out to be FoxFace.

“Good morning,” she said with a sense of bitter humor. I glared at her. Somewhere out through her window, the sun was barely getting up. That meant that, in hell, Lucifer still probably hadn’t finished drinking yet. Literally, no one in hell got up this early.

FoxFace rested her wrists on the edge of her desk. “You look so much more presentable. How are you feeling?”

I scowled and fiddled with my bracelets, which I had been allowed to keep. FoxFace smiled like it was a job well done. “I am glad you’re doing so well. I’ve heard you’re integrating well too, so far at least.”

“Did you hear about the breakfast cereal too?” I sneered. “It was awful.”

“Military food is awful,” FoxFace said, amused. “And I get complaints about it all the time.”

I paused, not sure how to answer to that. FoxFace just looked- so pleased with herself.

After a moment of her silent gloating, I slumped. “What do you want? Why don’t you just let me go?”

“Can’t, and don’t want to. You are part of our new program. Congratulations, you’re our first non-human military personnel. We’re investigating if you will be a valuable asset to the team’s efforts, if you are able to integrate, or if you should be in a team with other ‘paranormal entitites’. So no, I’m not done with you yet. Far from it.”

I gaped. “But-” I wasn’t sure how human military worked, but one thing for sure was – “I never signed anything! You can’t do this! I’m not part of the military!”

“No, you aren’t. You’re just an experiment. So you have no rights and, if I get sick of you, I’ll just kill you and be done with it.” She spread her hands. “But I have your blood, so if ever the need for you arises again, I’ll just call you back. You’re like a recyclable soldier. Prefect, really. Even if the mission goes foul, I can reuse you.”

I felt a wave of nausea. I’d died from Lucifer’s poison. If I died again… Where was I going?

“What? You look upset. You’re immortal, what do you have to worry about?”

I snarled. “I’m not going to be your slave for the rest of my life!”

“Oh don’t worry. When I retire, I’ll pass you on to the next commanding officer. So until the branch gets shut down, which can be quite some time, you’re going to be a ‘slave’ for whoever’s in office,” and she grinned wickedly.

I wanted to punch something. So bad. But I couldn’t just lunge across the desk and kill her. That’d probably turn my soul demonic or something.

Just about ready to see red and purple and all the colors of the rainbow, I rose and stomped from the room.

“Get back here,” FoxFace said coolly. “And sit down.”

I slammed the door behind me and whirled to face her. “What?” I yelled.

FoxFace gave me an obnoxiously patient look. “Sit down, kid.”

I stomped back to the chair and thumped down into it. Crossed my arms and legs and broke just about a thousand military rules with my expression. I wished she would just flip over and die.

“You do not leave unless I tell you so. You do not move, sleep, or breathe unless it’s an order from one of your superiors. Is that clear?”

I glared at her, digging my nails into my arms. I just wanted to hit her so bad. Finally, just because I wanted this to be over with, I nodded.

“Good. Now I wanted you to know that you have one week, today included, to get ready for your first mission. Get to know your team, rest up, and be ready in a week.”

“What’s the mission?” I grumbled, tightening my arms across my chest.

“Take a wild guess,” she said. Then, as if I might be too stupid to make a proper guess, she said “You’re going to catch Bella. Third time’s the charm, you know.”

I rolled my eyes. “You don’t want Bella caught. You don’t want her anywhere near these brain-washable idiots. Trust me. She’s going to take over this place, right out from under you!”

FoxFace remained neutral. “Oh?”

“She-” I caught myself. How much should I tell her about Bella? How much did she already know? But I wouldn’t give away Bella’s secrets. “You’re fucked.”

“Well, if you feel you have any information I should know, feel free to tell me all about it. But if you’e not going to tell me anything useful,” and FoxFace leaned across the desk. I recoiled slightly, and she smirked nastily. “You can leave,” she whispered.

I marched out and slammed the door behind me as hard as I could.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Twenty One, Part Two

I opened my eyes to see a beautiful apparition. A lovely woman stood beside Lucifer, robed in deep red. She had such a smile on.

“Amitabha,” said Lucifer as the goddess took me in her arms. I was nothing. Weightless. Just a little thought of existence.

The goddess nodded to Lucifer with a warm smile. Then, with respect and dignity, she turned around and walked through a small portal.

Most portals are crackling full of energy of the kind akin to the world they transfer to. This one was soft, and peaceful. As we slipped through it I felt blissful in a pure and healthy way. Calm. Complete.

We entered a world of light, lotuses by lakes, and sprawling fields. I knew the world as we stepped foot on the earth and she set me down. I floated from her. Stretching, I unfolded from myself.

All around me was beauty and peacce. It felt amazing.

I turned to thank Amitabha- and saw the portal behind her. A hand was clawing through, a shoulder following. It was like an awful anti-birth. It was forceful, disgusting, and burning with callous irreverence.

Bella burst through with a roaring yell, burnt and bloodied by the energy of the portal. Her blue eye sparkled rabidly and she stumbled on her first steps on the earth.

Amitabha turned calmly to face her. She did not seem in the slightest bit surprised. “So you are here.”

Bella laughed. “I’ve made it!” Her eyes rolled around her head to take it all in, but I knew she couldn’t see enough. Her breath was ragged from anger and exertion. She laughed again, and it was frenzied.

Amitabha was nonplussed. I looked from one to the other, and it dawned on me as Bella drew a sword from her hip that she’d lied to me about one more thing.

“I’m finally going to kill you all!” she hissed. Dramatically, she pointed her sword at Amitabha. “I, Daughter of Mara, will destroy you stupid Buddhas!”

Amitabha watched with serene disaffection. I stepped forward. “But Bella, you can’t-”

I knew this place was too peaceful. Too serene. Too precious to be allowed to be destroyed.

Bella knocked me aside. “I have defeated the supposed ‘god of gods’. I have Lucifer as my minion, and-” she flicked a sneering wrist at me. “I’ve tamed Chaos. So,” she took a deep breath then screamed to Amitabha “I’m going to kill you all!”

“No!” I said. “Bella, you said you wanted to save everyone! You can’t do that if-”

“Snapshot! I lied! Now move aside, or rather -” and Bella’s crazed gaze landed on me. “Help me, Chaos. Kill Amitabha for me.”

“What?”

“Do it!” she screamed in my face. “Do it, and I will let you be my slave again! I will give you infinite pleasure, Chaos!”

Amitabha stepped forward. Serenely, she placed a hand on each our shoulders. She looked first at me, then at Bella. We both held our breaths.

With her exhale, a sense of peace infused through me. It soaked into me gently, destroying anger and hurt. I felt pure and true to myself. Connected to Amitabha, to Bella, to this land and all that dwelled in it-

With a groan Bella collapsed. Her sword fell to the ground. She clutched at her head, moaning. “It hurts, it hurts,” she whimpered.

Of course, I realized. The destruction of ignorance and anger can be painful.

“It hurts!” Bella screamed. She staggered up to her feet, fingers having dug red marks down her cheeks. Eyes rolling, she took one terrified look at Amitabha before lurching for the portal.

With a shriek, Bella fell into it as if all the hounds of hell were at her heels. Then there was silence.

For a moment, Amitabha and I stood still. The wind blew around us, the grass swayed. I felt at peace. My mind, my spirit, felt on the brink of achieving something new. Enlightenment was only a grasp away, and I felt it.

But when I looked down, there was Bella’s sword. I stooped down and picked it up.

“Pleasure is a blade,” said Amitabha clearly. “It is fleeting, yet leaves marks of desire upon the soul.”

I closed my eyes tightly. What did I want? Of course I wanted to stay here. But I also pitied Bella. She was pathetic, really. Lost. Helpless in her own way.

I opened my eyes, mind focused and clear. “I’m going to go get Bella,” I said to Amitabha. “I’m going to heal her.”

A pleased smile drew itself on her face. “To heal a demon and bring them to the Pure Lands is quite the challenge. Good luck, Chaos.”

I smiled. “Thanks.”

Amitabha reached into a pocket of her robe. “I have a gift for you. A welcoming of sorts.” And she held out a D20 dice to me. It rippled in swirls of red and gold. When it touched my palm I felt warmth within me, a little bit of Buddha-essence within myself.

As I held it up to the light, Amitabha spoke. “This dice is different from the one you had before. This one will not tell you whether you will defeat an enemy in battle, but your chances of healing their souls. Be prepared, your life is about to change.”

I smiled as I pocketed it. “Thank you.”

Amitabha bowed her head respectfully. “Best of luck. And beware of the sword you now carry with you. Pleasure is a double edged blade.”

I looked down at Bella’s sword. The weight of it was massive for its size. I felt it like a scorpion, deadly and latently poised to strike. To hold it was to perch on the edge of a blade. But I was ready to do just that.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Twenty One Part One

So, if you’ve been following, that was how I ended up smack! Face-first on the tiles of Lucifer’s throne room. Because, yeah, the portal FoxFace had made for me was rickety in essence and it was a sickening ride. So much so that I rose to my knees and barfed bile.

“Oh hey-y!” said a pair of sparkling high heels right before me. “What’s up?”

I looked up at Lucifer. They looked down, smirking. Dressed in an elegant evening dress full of rhinestones and wearing rainbow earrings and bearing their grey hair in a levitation around them, like they were permanently descending from the sky. S/he looked majestic and regal, like they’d just stepped off a throne. Well, they probably just had.

“I need help,” I croaked.

“Who doesn’t?” said the Lord of lords, rolling their eyes dramatically at the ceiling. “Earlier on, I had to get this zipped up my back on my own. It wasn’t easy!”

I just blinked. Zippers? That’s what s/he was complaining about?

Lucifer crouched down to my side. A waft of exquisite perfume wafted over me. His elbow nudged mine and a sparkling hand dusted my shoulder. “You poor, poor thing,” Lucifer crooned. “What’s the matter?”

I shuddered. Instantly I just wanted to relax and let myself rest against him. But that was a dangerous feeling. I needed to keep my wits about me! So I used the only real tactic that worked on Lucifer: honesty of sorts.

“I need to break a blood bond. A witch has my blood.”

Lucifer tutted. “Now look what mess you’ve gotten yourself into.”

“They stole my blood,” I hissed. “And now they want-” I gulped and stared into those crystalline blue eyes. “They want me to kidnap Bella.”

“Oh?” Lucifer tilted their head to the side. A finger trailed up my neck, sending shivers over my spine. “That’s a pity.”

“I need to break the blood bond. What do I do?”

Lucifer smirked, playing with a strand of my hair. “You need a haircut,” they said cheerfully.

“I cut my hair?” I asked hopefully. That easy? “That will break the bond?”

“No you idiot,” they snapped, standing in a swoop. “i was just saying that you need a haircut.”

My hopes crushed down into my gut. Asshole.

“No, you see,” dramatic as ever, Lucifer turned and strolled to their throne. “Blood magic is terrible magic. Strong magic. Very, very, difficult to break.” With a smirk s/he added. “That’s why you defeated the olde yahweh with it.” and they sniggered. “How ironic that it has now been used against you.”

I paused. Could it be that it wasn’t irony? That someone had snitched on what I’d done and given the witch that idea? “She has a source,” I said. “Someone who knows me is feeding her information.”

Lucifer turned to me. “Oh? Do you know who?”

I shook my head. Dusting myself off, I stood. “No. But I know that they’ve told her quite a lot. She isn’t frightened of me in the slightest, and I can’t seem to get leverage over her.”

Lucifer snorted. “I can’t imagine why anyone would be the slightest bit afraid of you. You’re chaotically useless. Oh, and on the subject of snitches, how is your ex fiancee?”

My mind hit a wall. “She’s the one who snitched?”

Lucifer made a sad face but didn’t say any more.

“How could she?” But I knew why. I’d dumped her, she was mortal, and now she’d had her revenge on me. With a sigh I kneaded a knuckle against my forehead. Swept my bangs back. “Okay,” I said. “Now what? What do I do to fix this?”

“Ah,” Lucifer swirled around in a cascade of silky fabrics. “Now you’re talking, tadpole.”

First goldfish, now tadpole? Seriously people?

“First,” Lucifer sauntered over to me. “You need to bring Bella something. Something big, to show your allegiance. After all,” and now that Lucifer was directly before me, they stooped to look me in the eyes. Their perfume wafted out – and something else. A trace of Bella. A scent of her.

“you’re in the hive,” I gulped, horror drenching me.

“Oh yes,” crooned Lucifer. “So I know that she’s set out a death call on you. But I’m willing to set that aside for just a moment. Let lovers reunite.” A finger was held up between our faces. “Bella wants a portal, but not just any portal. She needs one to Nirvana.”

“But I can’t give her that!”

Lucifer laughed in my face. “You idiot. Don’t you know of Amitabha? The Buddha who vowed to save every last soul? The Buddha who vowed that if one called on them in their final moments, they would save the departing one?”

I shrugged. “Barely.”

“I’ll make it really simple then. If you die while reciting Amitabha’s name, they will take you to the Pure Lands. Right?”

“A portal!” I gasped. “But -”

Lucifer winked. “Don’t worry, I’ve already told Bella you’re here.”

“What?!” I shrieked.

“What?” Lucifer pretended to be all innocent. “She gets here, you die, open the portal, she goes with you to the Pure Lands. She’s all happy and healed, forgives you and fixes your blood problem. Isn’t that great? Thank you Lucifer, yes yes.”

I balked. “But I’m immortal. I can’t die.” And I wasn’t sure I wanted to. Was it painful? Icky?

Lucifer smirked. They plucked a rhinestone off their dress and held it between us, where it shimmered. “Have some poison and find out.”

I hesitated. The rhinestone was pushed towards me. “Do you want to kill yourself, or force Bella to do it for you? You’re dying anyway.”

I snatched the rhinestone from his grasp. Instantly it melted into my palm. I choked as it felt like a needle driving through me, straight up my arm and into my heart.

Faintly, I heard Lucifer’s voice. “Don’t forget -”

The floor crashed up to me. I barely felt it, my vision tunneling and ringing filling me.

My last thought was that I realized that, indeed, Bella hadn’t given me an antidote as she promised. I felt cheated.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Twenty, Part Two

“So, you told her?” FoxFace said so calmly.

I chewed my cheek. I looked anywhere but across the desk, where FoxFace was sitting. I sat on my side of the desk in her office, hands bandaged, blood washed away, and a glass of water at my side. But the last thing I wanted was a silly drink.

Bella had tried to kill me. For real now. She’d set the vampires upon me, after having me smear blood on my neck. Yep, just so they knew where to aim. Uh, she’d put a lot of thought into getting me eaten? Like, who did that? And why?

The worst part was that I knew why. What had she said again? ‘I can’t let them have you’? Jesus fuck, what the hell? Did she think I would turn on her? Or did she think that now I was merely a liability?

But how could she want to kill me? I was her big squeeze! We were lovers and after everything we’d been through, she just – sicced her vamp squad on me?

But she loved me. I knew that for a fact. I’d felt in through her power. She loved me.

“Chaos!”

I jumped, then scowled at FoxFace. “What?” I snapped.

“I am speaking, and you will listen,” she said in a tone that demanded respect. Well, request denied. I lounged back in my chair, crossing my arms over my chest. I stared her down, challenging her to… I didn’t know what. But I hated her. It was all her fault. She had taken the collar off me, broken my bond with Bella, and nearly got me murdered.

“Listen,” said FoxFace. I rolled my eyes to the ceiling. She took in a sharp inhale. “Do you really want to do this the hard way?”

Go on, show me, I goaded her silently. I refrained from saying that, at least, but I left my eyes up on the ceiling. What-ever. Talk away, girl, you can’t force me to listen.

FoxFace took a deep breath. Then, in a low murmur, she spoke.

“Your eyes are wide, your ears are open. Your lips are sewn shut, your body is still. Look at me, and listen.”

Oh, fuck, I thought as I felt my head tilt down and my eyes focus on her. My ears strained to hear whatever she had to say and – try as I might – I couldn’t move. And my mouth was definitely shut tight.

Fuck me.

Pleased with her witchcraft, FoxFace clasped her hands on the table between us. “Now that I have your full and undivided attention, I am going to say something. And I’m only going to say it this once.”

I would have nodded, but that wasn’t really an option anymore.

“Now Chaos, I’m going to let you in on a secret. I run this whole ‘dealing with the mumbo jumbo’ project. I own you. And if ever you want to not be owned, and have freedom to dilly dally your day away, I highly recommend you- mmm, stop being an ass?” She smirked, pausing before adding. “You can nod.”

I distinctly refused to do so. No nodding from me – though I really got her point, and was busily trying to think of a way out. Maybe I had to… kill her? That wasn’t really my thing though. Killing too many incarnates could turn a soul demonic, and I really didn’t want that.

I wished I had my dice. Decisions were hard to make when you didn’t know the outcome before hand.

“So,” she said sharply. “Here’s what you want to do. In order to get on my good side you’re going to bring me Bella, unharmed, fully functional, and in one piece. Try and pull any stunts, warn her again – I know you warned her, that’s probably why you had a horde of vampires trying to eat you – and you will see what I do to spirits that disappoint me.” She nodded curtly. “Permission to speak freely.”

“Fuck you!” I snapped the moment my jaw would work again. “You don’t-” get to boss me around? I rethought my sentence. “I’m the child of the Grim Reaper, and of Life. You don’t want to get on my bad side. My family will come for me.”

FoxFace’s eyebrows rose. “Do you take me for an idiot? I couldn’t have picked a better soul to take possession of. Your family is neutral in all aspects and refuses to meddle in affairs. They will let you rot. And my sources tell me that you have no one who will come to your rescue, point blank. You have no alliances. So do you want to try that bluff again?”

I gritted my jaw. How the hell did she know so much? Weren’t mortals usually all scared of the Grim Reaper and thought all spirits were boogie men or something like that?

“How do you know so much about me?” I scoffed. “And what makes you think you’re right?”

FoxFace gave me a deadpanned glare. “My sources don’t lie.”

“Sources?” I sneered. “Who are they?”

FoxFace cracked a rare smile. “Don’t you wish you knew?”

I scowled – then thought of who I needed to help me. Lucifer. If anyone knew how to weasel your way out of curses and hexes, it was the man himself – or herself, depending on Lucifer’s mood.

So I put on my dapper charm, snapped my fingers, and fixed all of my problems just like that. Ha ha. No.

“Lookit,” I said calmly, trying to think of ‘what would Lucifer do?’ as a way to come up with a great lie. “I have an idea.”

“Is that a rare thing?” FoxFace asked so seriously it took me a minute to catch it. But once I did, I put on a plastic smile.

“How about I go catch Bella and bring her to you?” I said in my suave tone. “And here’s how I’ll do that. I’ll go to the spirit world, catch her, and bring her back.”

FoxFace looked completely unimpressed. I cleared my throat, trying again. “This means you help me get to the spirit realm.”

FoxFace steepled her fingers between us. “You think you’ve got a friend who will rescue you from me? Or do you really think you can outrun me?”

Uh, neither? Because Lucifer is no one’s friend?

“I have your blood,” she said coldly. “You’re not outrunning me. So just get Bella, and bring her here. How complicated is that?”

I pressed my lips together. My mind spun. Trickery was not my strong suit. “Look,” I snapped. “Just send me to the spirit realm. Can you do that?”

“Tell me why,” she said, mildly amused. “Because I know Bella isn’t there. She’s in this plane, and seems intent on staying here.”

I leaned forward across the table. “That’s because she wants to get three portals together to get into the plane of nirvana. She-” I paused, not sure how much to say or what to say even. It’s not like Bella had unveiled her massive plan to me. “She wants to get there,” I finished lamely. “So,” I took a deep breath, biding time to spin my lie. What could impress a witch? “I’m going to get Lucifer to help me,” I said outright.

I swore I saw FoxFace smirk. It egged me on. “With him, I won’t get hurt and you will definitely get Bella.”

FoxFace unsteepled her fingers and lay her palms flat on the desk. “You think you can get Lucifer to catch Bella for you?”

“I can be convincing,” I said, feeling rather successful.

FoxFace smiled nastily. “Go ahead then. I’ll have a portal made for you to the underworld. But-” she pointed a finger at me. “If you don’t bring Bella back this time, there will be consequences.”

I snorted. “You say that like I’m irresponsible.”

She raised her eyebrows. I decided it was best not to add any more comments to that mess.