Sword left off gazing across the school yard to watch the long-haired human form approach. The figure was physically similar to his own borrowed human body, but inside... inside they were very different.
A smile played across the lips of the other as he asked, “Not in class, Sword?”
“Heh.” Sword let his own smile reveal his fangs and mockingly replied, “Don’t you mean, ‘Souma’?”
Gentle laughter accompanied the answer, “There’s nobody up here but us, Sword.” He leaned on the railing next to Sword. “I’ll use it when the others are around, but between us, it’s silly.”
Sword returned to looking over the building. How very like Ios, that sounded.
Even as the figure next to him moved with lightning speed to attack with a metal sword drawn from nothingness, Sword moved faster, jumping out of the way with devil-power sparking from his fist.
The devil nimbly dodged Sword’s return attack and leapt to the upper roof, where he paused, looking down. “Well, an alert victim, for once. But how did you know I wasn’t your friend?”
Sword narrowed his eyes at the figure still wearing the image of Ios in Kanna’s body. The devil had gotten exact Ios’ movements, his facial expressions, and his speech patterns, but... “That fucking angel isn’t a friend. And you’re not an angel.” He followed the devil, fists flaring with the power to destroy.
The devil dodged again and doubled back to the rooftop. He paused there and the sword disappeared from his hand. “I see.” He bowed mockingly to Sword. “Then to hurt you, I will have to find somebody close to you who doesn’t mind a devil close to them.” With a smirk and a blur, the devil disappeared.
“Shit!” Concrete shattered as Sword smacked his fist where the devil had stood, but it didn’t reveal anything except stone. Sword fumed as he glanced around. Where the fuck did it go? Someone who doesn’t mind... and wouldn’t know the difference. Nanami...
Something like concern gripped Sword’s chest as he thought of the human girl. Yeah, yeah, Sword thought to the human Souma inside him, I’m on it... Sword rather liked the spunky girl for herself, not just by the weight of Souma’s regard, but he’d die rather than admit it. With a bound, he was off to find her.
“Nanami!” Sword burst into the classroom and looked around, but there was no sign of the devil. Just a bunch of human adolescents who were looking at him in shock.
“Souma-kun, what...?” Nanami only had a moment to ask before Sword had grabbed her by the wrist and hauled her out of the room. “Souma!”
“Shut up, bitch,” Sword muttered at her, “There’s a devil around.”
Nanami’s mouth dropped open. “At school?”
She sounded more indignant than worried. Sword sniffed at her, but she smelled distinctly human. No devil feel around her, other than his own.
“What are you doing, Sword?” Dulcet tones announced Mizuno’s presence. The exorcist girl looked amused at the scene before her.
With a scowl, Sword released Nanami, and answered Mizuno, “There’s a devil around – it tried to attack me—”
The sharp-pitched scream of a dying devil interrupted him, and the three turned to look down the hall. Sword’s fangs showed from his mouth again as he smiled. “Ios.”
The three ran towards the study room Ios liked to use. Sword outdistanced the human girls and was well ahead of them when he arrived three flights up and down a corridor to a small room with a body in the doorway. Sword glanced at the blood spattered around the body as it slowly smoked away, out of a devil not of the human world. “Nice kill.”
“Sword.” Gentle soft tones, speaking the devil’s name with a warmth and light that Sword only heard from one being. Sword looked up to see angel eyes glittering through the human’s, and an angel’s presence making the long brown hair appear golden. Ios in Kanna’s body looked a lot more like Ios than Kanna, even when it was Kanna’s personality that was speaking. When it had appeared to Sword, the duplicate devil had somehow matched perfectly the physically odd look of Ios in the human body. But the absence of the angel’s presence was more telling than shape alone.
This was definitely Ios. The powerful battle angel with his sword out and devil blood dripping off it. And a smile on his lips as he looked at Sword.
Sword prodded the body with a foot and flipped it over. “Asshole devil.” Sword curiously noted that the body lying there was sortof a combination of Sword’s real form and the human Souma’s. A very dead imitation him. “That must have been fun for you, you fucking angel,” Sword poked at the hole in the body’s chest, straight through to the heart. “Just like one of our fights, only he wasn’t as good as me.” Sword’s fangs were showing again as he grinned at Ios.
Ios’ return smile was a bit strained, as he said, “I admit, it reminded me closely of our 101st fight.”
Something in Ios’ voice alerted Sword and he looked closer at the angel... The sword Ios was holding dropped with a clatter, and then Ios fell after it.
“Whatthehell!” Sword jumped over the body between them and caught Ios, holding him close before kneeling to examine him. There was a hole through the angel much like the one on the devil. Only Sword recognized this hole... It was almost identical to the punch through the body he had made with his bastard sword on that fatal 101st fight of theirs. The fight that had ended with them both plunging through the realms into the human world, dying. Only this time Ios was already in a human body, and human bodies were more fragile than angels, and though the chest still rose and fell, and Ios’ eyes were open, he wasn’t seeing Sword...
“Damn you to Hell!” Sword raged, “You can’t let another devil kill you!”
Pale lips twitched in a smile, as Ios replied shakily, “Sorr..y, Sword.”
“Sword, what— Ios!”
There were sounds of hysterical girls at the door. Sword didn’t look around. “Get Shekil! Now!”
Running footsteps and then silence told Sword they’d gone. One of them would know the other angel’s schedule. Or Mizuno could go pray to the angels’ God or something. Just as long as they got him. The stupid jealous angel wouldn’t let his precious ‘Ios-sama’ die.
Ios coughed blood. “Angels can’t... heal angels.”
Ios’d mentioned that before, some time back around their 30th fight. Or had it been their 66th? Didn’t matter. “He can heal humans. You’re in a fucking human body.”
Another small smile, to let Sword know he’d won that skirmish.
Sword ripped his shirt off and ineffectually held it at the gaping wound in the chest, even as he felt the blood running out the back.
“No other devil can kill you, damnit. We haven’t finished our fight.”
A painful laugh with more blood accompanying the reply. “But it... was you.”
Sword’s fist dented the floor as he raged, “Fuck that! It was a damn poor copy, and you knew it!” His hand returned to brush at golden hair.
Eyelashes fluttered and Ios struggled for breath, “I didn’t... know, until he was surprised...”
Sword’s mouth thinned grimly, ‘somebody who doesn’t mind a devil close to them.’ Ios had sensed the devil, assuredly, but he lived with Sword and felt the same every day. And Sword was willing to bet that this time, the devil hadn’t stopped to chat first. After years of battling each other, a hundred-odd fights ending in various degrees of wounds, of course Ios had reacted in kind. But the demon hadn’t expected it and so was slaughtered like the weakling he was.
“Fucking right, you fight back!” Sword acknowledged their past. “But I didn’t kill you myself, so you still owe me a fight! Live, damn you, so I can kill you! Not some cheap-ass low-level devil bait!”
Ios’ eyes closed. After he rasped a few blood-filled breaths, the head in Sword’s lap faintly moved from side to side in a negative reply.
^Fuck you, bastard,^ Sword fiercely thought at the angel, ^You’re not going to die!^
The feel of the angel was as weak as the human body, ^Sorry, Sword... Forgive me?^
“Hell no!” Sword both spoke and thought, “You can damn well recover and make me be sorry for whatever! 117!”
A pale shade of humor, ^116.^
Sword growled in a low rumble that shook the room, “I hate it when you do that!”
Ios’ breath was so shallow that Sword had to strain to hear it. He flexed his hand that had the DevilSpawn and frowned at the sparks of energy he gathered there. How the fuck does Ios do it? Ios had healed him many times since Sword had moved into Souma’s body, insisting that Souma didn’t deserve the abuse that Sword heaped on the body. But how did he do it? Gathered energy...
“GET AWAY FROM IOS-SAMA!”
Sword bared his teeth in a snarl as he hunched over Ios’ body, prepared to defend... With a growl, he unhunched and let Shekil move in next to him. The young angel’s glare was such to kill Sword on the spot, but at least the idiot wasn’t wasting actual energy on it. Instead, Shekil’s hands were already at the gaping wound and holy light shone out.
As the light hit him where he was holding Ios, Sword stifled a cry of pain. This was pure heavenly force, concentrated in a more potent form than Mizuno’s Holy Water.
“Sword, come away.”
Though his pain, Sword heard Garvera’s voice, but he didn’t move.
“We’re devils, Nanami, Shekil’s holy power is burning Sword.”
There was a brief rustling, and Sword felt somebody take hold of his arm. He shook them off, not actually seeing through the white light, but he wouldn’t leave.
The hand reattached itself more firmly. Sword shook it off again.
With a sigh, Mizuno reached instead to lift Ios’ head off Sword’s lap, and then to move Sword’s hands. “Sword, let Ios be healed.”
Sword snarled viciously but he let Mizuno pulled him out of the room. He looked for a long moment at the figures still there – the one form of odd angel-human with the beautiful long hair lying bloody and motionless, the other form of pure battle heaven, an angel young and strong kneeling above him with light shining forth. Then Sword turned his back to it all and stomped up the stairs. He knew the others were there, but he didn’t care.
Standing in the spot he’d been in earlier, he stared over the school yard moodily. “Fucking devil.” The devil had been after him... Who had sent it? Satan? One of the Generals? Or just a random attack after the DevilSpawn?
“Ios will be okay, Sword,” Nanami said from somewhere near him.
Sword dented the railing with his blow. “I don’t care about the fucking angel!”
Nanami flinched and drew away, but returned quickly. “Don’t say that, Sword!” She put her hands on her hips and scowled at him, “He’s your brother!”
For a moment, Sword gaped at her. Then his anger redirected, “Are you an idiot? He’s an angel! My enemy! Devils and angels kill each other!”
Nanami’s scowl twitched briefly into a grin.
It just made Sword angrier, “Kanna is Souma’s brother! That has nothing to do with Ios and I. We’re rivals and enemies!” A welling up of concern and worry came from within him, as Sword thought of Ios/Kanna. He snarled at the human within him, “And you can just shut up too! Shit!” Now that he knew that Souma was still a distinct personality, it was easier to figure out what emotions came from the human instead of himself. And Souma worried a lot.
“What I don’t understand...” A new voice – Ranfuu had apparently been drawn by the battle and was here. “... is why Kanna doesn’t just take over the body now.”
Sword turned from the rail and looked around him. Nanami, Ranfuu, and Garvera were there with him. Presumably Mizuno was with Shekil and Ios. “What the hell good would that do?”
Ranfuu looked curiously at him as he answered calmly, “It would switch their bodies.”
“A body is a fucking body.” Sword thumped his chest, “This thing that Souma and I wear is the same.”
“Maybe it’s different for angels,” Ranfuu said as he shrugged. “When Kanna took over the body in the dungeon, all the wounds that Ios had taken were gone.”
Sword blinked, “Dungeon?”
“In Hell.” Ranfuu didn’t say anything else, his thoughts clearly elsewhere. Then when he saw Sword’s expression, his own changed. “Didn’t anybody tell you?”
The growl shook the rooftop, “Tell me what?”
“Oh...” Ranfuu shook his head slightly, “You never asked...” He laughed shortly, and sat back against the wall, resting his umbrella across his knees. “When we were separated in Hell, Ios and I met at the sword rock, where we were captured by Duuga.”
Garvera gasped, “Duuga? But he...”
“Loves torture and reads minds,” Ranfuu finished, looking at the female devil. “Yeah, we found out. Luckily for me, he was more interesting in playing with the angel, and...” Ranfuu shook his head, glancing at where Sword stood silently, “Well, cutting it short, just when I figured Ios was done for totally, Kanna came out and killed the bastard.”
“Kanna killed Duuga,” Sword said flatly.
“Yeah,” Ranfuu shrugged, “Kanna is a hell of a lot more powerful than Ios. We had no problems in Hell after that.”
Sword turned back to the railing. “Kanna isn’t more powerful than Ios – he uses Ios’ power.”
“But Ios was helpless in Hell, while Kanna was as powerful as Shiva,”
Sword scowled, “In his normal form, Ios is more than a match for any damn devil – that’s why I chose him as an opponent. However, in these fucking human bodies...” The railing acquired a new dent.
“So why is Kanna more powerful? And how did the wounds heal?”
With a sigh, Sword sat down, turning to face the others. He was silent for a moment. When he next spoke, his voice was soft and a little bitter, “Kanna uses more power because he has no restrictions. As for the body... That was probably Ios, taking it all into himself. Angels can heal humans, but not themselves or other angels.”
The two humans blinked, “They can’t?”
Sword shook his head.
“But why not?”
“It’s the way angels are made. Fucking self-sacrificing servants.” Sword glowered at memories, then glanced up at their silence. “Don’t you know anything about angels?”
Ranfuu laughed, “It’s not like we see them every day, Sword.”
Garvera shrugged, “I knew that angels couldn’t heal angels, or the battlegrounds would be full of it – but I didn’t know they could heal humans.” She looked at Sword curiously, “Devils fight angels every day... but there are no humans in the battlegrounds.”
With a matching shrug, Sword relented, “It was something Ios told me years ago. I’d sliced him up pretty bad in a fight and was mocking him for not healing himself. There’s a lot of legends about angels that don’t fit them.”
“But why can’t they heal each other?” Nanami frowned, “That seems silly.”
“Wait,” Ranfuu interrupted, “If angels can’t heal angels... then what’s Shekil doing with Ios?”
“Taking too hell of a long time.” Sword’s gaze drifted to the room. Through layers of concrete and building, he could feel the two angels and the holy power gathered around them. Too long... There was something wrong. But it wasn’t his concern. Shut the fuck up, Souma. Sword got up again and looked to the West. “Incoming.”
Garvera moved to stand beside him. Ranfuu stood up and positioned himself in front of Nanami.
“Nanami, get inside.”
“We’re under attack.” A team member down. The feel of holy power pouring out the building. It was a magnet for those devils that hovered around, thinking they could have their chance for the DevilSpawn. But what they all kept forgetting was that Sword didn’t need Ios.
Five minutes later, and the small swarm of devils were destroyed. Torn by Sword’s fists, Garvera’s claws, and Ranfuu’s demons, the bodies smoked and slowly dissolved.
“Fucking hell.” Sword sat down again. Pathetic wimps. What did they think they were doing, to attack him? But it felt good to kill.
Garvera cleaned her claws with her tongue. Her slit-eyes were burning with satisfaction at the bloody end to the battle.
Ranfuu regarded the two devils with a detached air, neither judging nor fascinated. The appearance of boredom, as he wore most of the time, though this shouldn’t have been typical for him. “Should we set a guard by the room?”
With a flick of her wrists, Garvera dried her claws and retracted them, “No. With all that holy power there, the only devil able to get near would be a Berserker, and they have to be created specially.” She narrowed her eyes slightly, “I hadn’t realized Shekil was that powerful.”
Powerful angels... Sword redirected his gaze upwards, “And what about you, asshole? Planning on doing anything?”
“Not at the moment,” replied a soft voice. Rich, in baritone velvet with undertones of light and that holy power that only angels wielded.
Garvera whipped around, her claws out again.
“No, let him alone,” Sword commanded, and the she-devil obeyed, but not without a worried look.
On the upper roof sat a youthful man, handsome with light skin and russet red hair that tumbled around his shoulders, with light blue eyes. He was dressed in black jeans and a vest, with a guitar slung over a shoulder. And he was no man.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Rafael?” Sword snarled. It had been a long time since he’d seen the angel, and though Ios trusted Rafael, Ios wasn’t a devil. Angels were Sword’s enemies, and he’d been battling them all his life.
“I came in answer to your prayer,” the angel replied, his blue eyes twinkling.
Stupefied into silence, Sword gaped at him a moment before roaring in anger and launching himself to attack.
Brilliant white wings unfolded and carried the angel beyond his reach, as Rafael laughed at the enraged devil. “If you send your concerns to Heaven, Heaven will reply.”
“Mizuno might be praying, but I’d never send anything to such a piss-poor God as yours!” Sword stood on the rooftop and yelled at the angel.
“Temper, temper, Sword.” The angel alighted on the railing near where Sword had stood. “I came to help, but my hands are as tied as Shekil’s.” The blue eyes were shadowed with the weight of years and he didn’t seem quite so young anymore. “We are angels, and Ios’ life is not up to us to decide.”
“So, what the fuck are you doing, then?” Sword snarled again.
“Waiting.” Rafael sat down and raised an eyebrow in Sword’s direction.
“Shit.” Sword hopped off the upper roof and started to pace.
Rafael turned to the other three, “Hi, I’m Rafael. That’s the no-manners-devil, Sword, over there.”
Ranfuu’s mouth twitched up in a grin.
Garvera looked at the angel warily, “You’re not a battle angel.”
“No,” Rafael agree easily, “I’m an angel of the Son.”
“The sun?” Nanami asked in confusion as she edged out from where she’d hidden in the fight.
Rafael’s laugh was as bright and warm as the sun as he replied, “Some angels stayed here after Heaven and Hell were separated from Earth. We follow the Lord’s orders. The angels of Heaven whose duty it is to defend by the sword are lead by God.”
“But...” Nanami trailed off. She was ashamed to admit she hadn’t paid much attention to theology, always more intent on what school taught.
“Same God, different aspects,” Rafael’s answer was kindly, if flippantly, spoken.
“And you really can’t do anything?” Ranfuu leaned on his umbrella and studied the angel curiously.
Red hair fluttered in the wind as Rafael shook his head. “Not as things stand now. Ios was struck down by a devil, in battle, and that is the fate of an angel.”
“Struck down...” Nanami gave the angel another uneasy glance and then turned to the more familiar aspect in her life. “Sword – what happened earlier? Ios... You’d said there was a devil loose, but...”
Sword also looked at the angel, and then away. He stopped his pacing near to where the human girl stood and considered her soft brown eyes for a moment. “When he didn’t get me, I thought he was going after you next.” Sword grimaced. To be merely human in their group was to invite attacks.
“But he went after Ios,” Garvera noted unnecessarily. “I wouldn’t have thought a normal devil could take out Ios so easily, but I didn’t recognize the body. What type was it?”
Sword shrugged. “Some sort of shape-changer. I don’t know the basic variety. But it got that close to Ios using my form.” The cement next to him became dust as he pounded it. “Nobody fucking uses me and gets away with it! If Ios hadn’t killed it, that damn devil would be mincemeat.”
“Uh, Sword...” Ranfuu tried to interrupt.
Sword paid no attention, continuing his outrage, “But if I find out that devil was sent by somebody, I swear, I will slaughter the bastard! I killed a friend for using my name as a trap. To use my very form is worse!”
Rafael’s eyebrow arched at Sword’s second statement, but he said nothing as he sat upon the railing.
“Sword,” Ranfuu said, finally breaking through, “I saw the body – it didn’t look anything like you.”
Garvera agreed, “Ios would have never mistaken that for you.”
Impatiently, Sword waved that aside. “It was my body only wimpier, like Souma’s.”
Ranfuu and Garvera looked at each other in puzzlement. Nanami was the one who spoke out, “You mean like your body – your devil body?”
“Yeah,” Sword grimaced, “and Souma’s too. My body but shorter, short hair, no markings... a weird cross. I figure that must be how Ios sees me normally since when the devil showed up earlier it looked like Ios in human form.”
“But that’s...” Garvera trailed off, thinking.
“Ios in human form?” Nanami was curious, “What does he look like to you?”
Sword paused and looked at her, “Mostly like Ios. Not much of the damn human shows up. Everything a bit duller.” Sword laughed, “When Kanna shows up, he even looks like a wild-haired Ios, there’s so much of Ios there.”
“We see what we want to see,” Rafael commented as he strummed on his guitar.
With a growl, Sword advanced on the cocky angel.
“Sword, there’s no devil in Hell that could do that.”
“Huh?” Sword stopped mid-stride and swung to look at Garvera.
The she-devil was obviously worried, even as she thought it out, “Shape-changers in Hell are either the type that just go for physical advantage or the mirrors that deceive by reflection. There’s no devil in Hell that could actually take a mental image and shape it. What would be the advantage fighting angels in that?”
“On the other hand,” Ranfuu reflected quietly, “I’ve noticed that your Hell devils are different than the devils that normally are on Earth.” He glanced at Rafael.
Rafael nodded, “The devils that stayed on Earth are very subtle, and they tend to go after souls more than flesh.” He looked at Sword’s right hand, “But they will want the DevilSpawn just as much as the others, if they think they have a way to get it.”
Sword didn’t care about the damn differences in devils. Or angels for that matter. But...
“Shit.” Sword looked towards the room where the holy power was still radiating. “That wasn’t just a physical wound.” The devil had read their minds... more than their minds, their unconscious selves. To know how they saw each other... And he and Ios had always held truce while they didn’t fight, in their long years of fighting.
A cold chill went down Sword’s spine. If that devil hadn’t messed up in not being able to conceal its presence, something a normal human wouldn’t have noticed, Sword would be dead. And the devil would be alive. Sword’s reflexes weren’t so finely tuned to battle as the millennia-old angel. /“I didn’t know until he was surprised.”/ Ios had thought it was him. And the wound was a duplicate of the one he’d killed Ios with. Something more than physical, it had cut to the soul.
“Fuck it.” Sword brushed past the others without seeing them and stomped down the stairs.
Blinding pain. Light, power, a purity so great it burned.
Sword stopped in the corridor and growled in frustration. He took another step forward despite the pain, but was stopped with a hand on his shoulder.
“This, I can do.” Rafael took his hand off Sword’s shoulder and played his guitar. As the gentle tune sounded, a golden light smelling of green grass and dandelions surrounded Sword. The pain receded.
“Heaven’s might will not harm Heaven’s blessing,” Rafael said softly.
Sword stood for a moment, searching the pale blue eyes. He hated to be manipulated into anything.
The blue eyes showed the pain of immortality, “I knew Ios, before the Heavens separated and he joined Michael to do battle. And Gabriel loves him as well. If we could do anything, we would. But we are angels, and his life is in his own hands.” Rafael looked away from Sword. “And yours.”
I hate being manipulated! Sword glowered. But the devil had used Sword’s form to get to Ios, and if there was anything Sword hated worse than being manipulated, it was being used to manipulate others. He continued through the door until he knelt next to a worried young angel. He ignored Shekil. He could feel Mizuno there too, but he ignored her as well.
Beautiful long golden hair. A glimpse of the human brown below the angel’s presence. Rougher hair than the angel’s. And a wound that would not be healed. ^Fucker. You’re not going to die because of something that used me.^
Faint. Very very faint. Almost not there. But within, there was a stirring.
^You back again, Devil?^
Sword scowled, “I’m not talking to you, human. Where’s Ios?”
^In here somewhere, thinking about dying.^ Kanna’s projection was full of his usual mocking humor. No signs that he was worried about dying!
^Kanna! Kanna, don’t die!^
Sword blinked in astonishment as Souma removed himself from Sword enough to project on his own.
The feel from Souma’s twin was gentler than normal, with rough affection, ^Shut up, Souma.^
There was a wail from the human in Sword. Sword frowned at it before refocusing his attention on his human’s twin. ^How come you’re not saving Ios like you did in the dungeons?^
^Oh, so you finally heard about that?^ Kanna’s thought was amused. ^It’s different. This is Ios’ choice and I will not interfere.^
^Like hell it’s his choice! Ios, you fucker! Get out here!^
The feel of a familiar angel moved closer. Fond attention. A breeze flowing though the mists. ^Yes, Sword?^
For some reason, the simple acknowledgement made Sword even angrier. “Fucking Bastard!!”
Insubstantial twinkling of hazel eyes was the only response.
“I refuse to be used!”
The feel of the angel receded. ^It wasn’t you, Sword.^ The thought was barely there.
^But you thought it was. The fucker used me! If you hadn’t killed him, I would!^
A type of a shrug.
This wasn’t the way to get to him. Sword retracked. ^What did you want me to forgive you for?^
Faint surprise. The angel feel was stronger.
Sword snarled, “Yes, I fucking remembered that!”
^For...^ There was a wash of several things all tangled together. For mistaking the devil. For ‘killing’ Sword; as he’d killed Kanna. For reflexes honed only in battle for 2000 years. For loving Earth more than the battle. For not caring about bodies. For dying.
Sword clamped his mouth shut, fighting fury and rage and pain. “You... will... NOT... leave me!” He paused a moment before adding, “Not before I kill you.”
A faint hint of regret.
“Then why the hell are you still here?” Sword’s fury boiled out of him. ^If you’re going to shit and die, then die! Don’t do things by half! Idiot angel!^
Sounds of laughter in nothingness, ^He’s got you there, Ios.^
Annoyance at both of them. Responsibilities. Affection. Kanna’s soul, lost with Ios’ death. Sword...
“You can fucking die later! You still owe me a fight!” ^I live to fight you...^ Sword clamped his thoughts down as that one made it through. Shit. He hadn’t meant to think that. But the thought of Ios gone... What was left to do, without Ios? There was still Satan... He would get his revenge for Shiva. But then... Sword felt a bit lost after that. Fighting, and getting his body back, and going back to Hell, where he would fight... There was no angel he’d ever wanted to fight as much as Ios, and there was no angel to match Ios. Without Ios... A shimmer of fear, his own, drifted through the mists.
Surprise. A reaching out, quickly withdrawn. Silence in nothing. Then a determination and advancement. ^How can I refuse to finish our fight?^
Sword backed up quickly, mentally and physically, and hit the wall. The angel brightness in the room faded abruptly, as Shekil cried out in relief and joy as his healing finally took.
Ios blinked open his eyes, looking towards Sword who met the hazel gaze. Sword wasn’t sure what emotions were running around through him, and he didn’t want to know. Turning away, he left to go pound something into dust.
Behind him, he heard Ios’ soft sigh as the angel comforted the distressed Shekil.
^We will fight again.^
Sword wasn’t sure if the thought was his or Ios’. Or, maybe, it was both of them. His steps down the hall were lighter as he looked forward.