8 – invasion (pt 2 – can’t let them touch you)

Bast wakes up, feels him, and close.

It means he’s found them, or at least the vicinity, and is trying to draw them out. He feels the rush of magic from the outer realms, too, which means there must be at least one portal standing open. And open wide.

He looks at Cole, still sleeping. Allows himself to curl closer for one final moment and presses a kiss to the corner of Cole’s jaw.

“I’m sorry,” he breathes. His eyes find the blades across the room, between Cole’s scattered collection of axes. He risks the magic to teleport out of bed, dressing himself as he reappears without letting his feet touch the ground.

He summons the knives to him – a pair Cole had pointed out in one of their conversations about what to do when the time came – fighting the urge to hiss as they make his skin tingle unpleasantly. Gloves, then. Better.

He disappears like smoke.

Cole wakes up alone. The air smells strangely acrid. Like demons.

But there are no demons here – not even the one who’s supposed to be. He curses, loudly and in several languages. Because Bast left him. Again. In the middle of the night.

But if he left now, and if the air smells like that, it can only mean one thing.

Whatever. He doesn’t have time to be pissed. He can do that later, after they’ve handled this shit once and for all.

Bast’s phone is still on the nightstand, but his watch isn’t, which hopefully means it’s still on his wrist, which means… “Got you, asshole,” he says, pulling up Find My Device. He’s just south of the city, which is odd, but Cole will take it. He dresses in seconds then surveys the spread of weapons laid out on the floor in case this very thing happened.

Well, when he’d imagined it, he’d foolishly allowed himself to believe Bast wouldn’t go without him, but-

The knives are gone. Ceremonial daggers, inlaid with iron and forged in holy water. Blessed by more priests than he could count, with each successive owner adding to the layers of enchantments until Cole had taken them from the last. But his axes are still there, and those hold their own sorts of magic. He only takes two. That’s all he’ll need.

He keeps his mind carefully blank as he drives, navigating primarily on instinct as he watches the little blue dot on his phone. There’s no moon, so when he reaches the closest spot he can get to Bast’s location by car, he’s alone in the darkness.

He doesn’t need lights to find Bast, though. Doesn’t need eyes, even. Cole can feel the familiar burn of his magic. Can smell him on the breeze, laced with something else. Something twisted and wrong.

Blood, but not human.

He clears the field in seconds, and suddenly he’s very much not alone. Red eyes surround him in a shifting flurry, their attention shifting once they realize he’s there. He’s killed a good few by then, their corpses dissolving into smoke and ash as the rune-etched iron tears into them.

Cole finds Bast by finding what he’s fighting toward. Across the field is a man. No, not a man. A demon. And clearly a powerful one. He can’t make out much, other than his size. His eyes burn a fiery red in the darkness; that much is clear even at a distance.

Bast is closer than he is. Far too close for Cole’s liking.

Fine, he thinks, so the demons have to die faster.

He’s gaining ground on Bast when something solid hits him, knocking the air from his lungs. If not for the fact that he can feel the magic, the blast would hit him. As it is, he barely dodges in time, not quite back on his feet as the beast snarls and prepares to spring at him again.

He doesn’t have time for this. Cole hurls the axe at it, the blade sinking into the space between its neck and its massive shoulders with a sickening wet sound that’s followed by the hiss of burning. He wastes no time, sprinting toward it and removing its head with the other axe as he leaps, pulling the first axe free as he clears its dropping corpse. Whatever it is, it stills but its body does not disappear which is… concerning.

A problem for later, though.

“Hello gorgeous, come here often?” he growls as he steps into the circle of smoking carnage around Bast.

“Cole,” Bast breathes, barely loud enough to be heard over the shrieks and snarls of the horde of demonic creatures.

“Awfully long way to go for a piss, love. Something wrong with the bathroom at home?” He removes one demon’s head and ducks under another before turning to sink metal into what is, presumably, its spine. Either way, it’s dead.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

“Yeah, no shit. Neither should you.”

“I can’t just let him-”

“And neither can I. But you were supposed to wait.”

Bast’s eyes meet his, just for a moment. There’s something like regret in his expression, but it’s not an apology.

“We’ll talk about this later.”

Bast nods, his attention turned back to the fight. And gods, if he isn’t a vision like that. He moves like smoke, disappearing and appearing in the best spots to throw them off, though he never strays far from Cole. All elegant murder, blades cutting through the darkness with enough speed to whistle.

Twice, they get close and twice the demon lord moves, disappearing behind another legion.

On the third time, though, they clear their way and step into… nothing. Only empty field stands between the two of them and him. Cole sucks in a breath, feeling the effects of exertion for the first time in centuries. He blinks, only just realizing that the sky has lightened and he can now make out the space around them.

The demon lord looks between them, his resemblance to Bast clear if not complete. He lifts a hand and mutters something, magic rushing forward, but nothing comes.

He lets out a wordless shout, followed by a curse, and then disappears. Bast runs toward the place he occupied, and Cole knows what’s going to happen.

“If you go without me-” he starts, his voice betraying him.

Bast half turns to look at him, his expression grim. He gives a little nod, and Cole’s existence turns in on itself.

They appear in another field, the demon lord visible in the dim light. But there’s another fucking army.

One of the beasts runs for them immediately and Cole hurls an axe at it.

“Am I allowed to find that a little hot?”

He laughs. “Later.”

Cole is tired and angry. They tear through these too, though, and this time it seems that the demon lord has no backup plan because he keeps appearing in the fray, clearly trying to separate them. Trying to take one or the other down individually, so they can’t protect each other.

He tries to get in Cole’s head, too. Hisses lies and hurls insults. Cole matches him, blow for blow and word for word. After all, it’s hardly anything he hasn’t heard in the past thousand years and more.

And then. Then, at last, he slips inside of the demon’s guard – he’s too large and not quite a match for his speed. Using his momentum, Cole pushes the axe through his chest and holds his gaze as he burns.

Bast is somewhere too far away, finishing off the last of the legion. That’s fine. He doesn’t need to see this.

“Your world will fade. If not by my hand, then before the light of the morning star,” the demon lord grates out, dropping to the ground even as he starts to disintegrate.

Still breathing heavily, Cole pulls his axe free and sends dust flying. He coughs around the noxious smell of it – only worsening the aching dryness of his throat in the process – and squints first at the break of gold on the horizon, then at the mess of claw and bite marks that litter his body.

He lets the axe drop from his fingers, then the other. Barely even feels it when his knees meet the earth, or his back the stone of the crumbling wall.

It was over.

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