Her footfalls were rapid and her breathing laboured, she knew she could outpace her pursuers but not for how long. This was the deepest they'd ever chased her, insults and lobbed objects glanced off of her shoulders and back or missed entirely; rounding a corner she knew hiding was the best option, she'd only be out of their sight for a handful of seconds so she'd have to make the most of them. Taking in the street she found the only cover to be a decrepit cab, it looked more damaged than most but without hesitation she dropped to the ground and clambered beneath it; the stomping of feet and shouting grew only louder, even cramped beneath the car she pulled her cloak tight against her body. It was an attempt to steel herself, keep herself from crying out, but as she did it she felt where rocks and glass had impacted and grit her teeth.
Blaze listened as the footfalls came to a sudden halt, she didn't dare open her eyes as they bickered amongst themselves; she thought there were five of them but by the sounds of it she'd lost two. She held her breath, tried to ignore their voices entirely and stay as still as possible. They were shouting so loudly, her ears pinned to her head; her body braced for the worst… but it never came. Eventually her eyes would open, her hands would lower from her shoulders and she would find herself blissfully alone. She'd take another minute to be certain but eventually, as silently as she could, Blaze would remove herself from beneath the car and scope out her surroundings. She knew the immediate street she'd come from but getting back to her house would surely prove difficult, especially if those people were making their way back too. Weighing her options she looked to the street around her; it looked like it might have once been a main street with shops rather than houses but one building appeared to be relatively untouched, its windows boarded with the exception of the upper floors. A library… how long had it been since she'd last seen a library? There'd been one on the east edge of town but those people had taken it as their territory. She only hesitated to triple check her surroundings before quickly, yet quietly, rushing her way up the building's giant stone steps. Despite her gentle push one of the building's two great doors squealed as it opened, fearing the sound may be heard she immediately slid herself inside; closing the door and keeping her hands pressed against it. She listened… and listened… and listened…
"Wow…" A voice! A voice not from outside but- "You're tiny like me!"
Blaze spun on her heel; wounded back now pressed hard against the double doors. Her eyes flickered manically, searching for both the source and some other exit; the door only opened inward, she'd have to move to open it; an opening for whoever that was to attack her! The orange light of the outside flames was cascading through broken windows and holes in the wall, giving the hallway she stood before considerable visibility. Refuse and books were scattered across the ground, some of the tomes were stacked on the far side of the hall beside a torn blue couch; someone lived here!
"Is there a monster outside? Don't worry, I'll help!" There was a sound, she knew that sound! And that voice too, that was his voice! The moment she recognised that phantom whirring a bright cyan light began to shine from behind her, she threw herself forward; eyes frantically searching for some other exit; the windows were high but if she really wanted she could-
Blaze dared to cast her eyes up and there the origin point of the light shone, obscuring most all of his being; the same light that cast her shadow forward rather than backward in the flame's light… he was holding the door in place like he had those floating debris. Blaze gripped her mantle, her eyes shut tight; there was nothing she could-
"Huh… I don't hear anything. I guess they left." The blue light that cut through her eyelids suddenly faded. Something dropped in front of her, she slowly opened her eyes. The glow had left him, save for his bracers and hands, but there he stood; the angel was now face to face with the demon. His face was close to her, she had been terrified to look other people in the eye but her amber eyes didn't dare to leave his yellow ones; Blaze didn't dare look elsewhere on his face for fear the angel would smite her as it had the other demons. He'd talked of strength, of bringing peace; then she had to be his ene- "Oh wait, I've seen you before. When I was training that day, you ran passed didn't you?"
Blaze blinked in shock, the surprise granted her enough adrenaline to take a single half step back but fear still weighed heavy on her shoulders. He'd seen her that day? He'd seen her and hadn't followed? She tried to stutter out an answer, it'd been so long since she'd had to speak. Her voice came out just louder than a whisper despite the effort behind it. "Y-Y-Yes…"
"Aww, then my powers aren't a surprise! That sucks." His eyes finally broke from hers, his head angled; he seemed to be looking at her with some kind of quizzical gaze, Blaze found the will to take another step back but as she did the distance allowed her to take in his whole person. He wasn't as she'd imagined him, those five strange points reached down to create his brow and the fur from his neck reached down to form a deep V shape on his chest but these things weren't too bizarre. No, now outside the tinting of his blue light, she was surprised by how marked his body was. Most obvious was the bruise on his cheek, where she assumed that rock had hit him no more than a month ago, but at several points the angel's grey fur was singed black and at others she could see cuts through the fur that were struggling to heal. He'd gotten hurt fighting the demons; he wasn't untouched by this world like she'd assumed. "Hey." Her eyes raced back to his face, his teeth were bared and his mouth curved in a manner she could only vaguely remember from her parents. A smile? "How old are you?"
The more she listened and stared the more confused she grew. Why was he asking her age? What did it matter? She only had a vague idea anyway. Still terrified, scared he was keeping her alive on a whim, she gave the best answer she could. "S-S-Se-even I-I th-th-think."
The smile seemed to grow, his mouth stretched and with it his bruised cheek crumpled; Blaze's breathing hitched as he thrust a hand to his chest. "I think I'm seven too! I've never met someone my age before! That's amazing! I'm so happy to meet you!" He reached out to touch her but, automatically, she took a giant step backwards… there was now a space between the two of them, a gap further than either could reach. His smile did fade for a moment, his brow creasing, but that grin returned to his mouth; his eyes were closed… if she wanted to run she cou- "Don't worry. I'm going to fix this world, it's my job, so you don't have to be scared of me! I'll get stronger and make things better for everyone." Blaze's breathing hitched. It was just like he'd said before, not a hint of hesitation or uncertainty. He'd spoken in absolutes, not about what he wanted to do for this world but what he was going to do. His bright yellow eyes reopened, his hand was still outstretched to her, and for a moment she considered… well not quite taking it but touching it at least. Her guard had lowered; that was until he spoke again. "I'm Silver, what's your name?'
With just three words he'd fully renewed her fortifications. Her name would lead to the question of why, the answer to which would surely turn him against her. Blaze. She gripped her cloak tightly, pulling it taught against the wounds she'd sustained and curse mark on her back. She could lie but eventually he'd find out, one day she'd either outgrow this cloak or she'd be cornered and forced to remove it; then he'd see her for what she truly was. Her eyes split from his, staring down at his boots; looking at him as she looked at other people, there was no option but to be honest from the start. There was no point in finding comfort she'd undoubtedly be forced to abandon. She gave her answer; "They… Th-They call m-me… d-d-demon."
She was shaking, ears spiked in preparation for that bizarre humming sound and muscles clenched… but it never came. Instead, he spoke; "They? Who?" Her teeth clenched, she felt her ears lower and refused to answer. Eventually, he continued. "Demon isn't a name, a demon is a monster that hurts other people; if you've not hurt anyone then you're not a demon. I don't think you've hurt anyone; you're too small to, just like me. You're a person, just like anyone else." She looked up to him, his eyes still shone bright but his smile had gone. In its place he wore a frown, tugging at his chest fur he spoke; left hand waving to accentuate his points. He shook his head, those spikes along his brow over exaggerating the action; "Whoever said you aren't is more of a demon than you are cause they've hurt you…" Another feeling, not fear, was welling up within her; her vision was blurring. His eyes went from frowning to wide with sudden realisation, his right hand dropped from his chest fur; "Do you not have a real name?"
Blaze kept silent, her hands were still atop her shoulders but the shaking had stopped. Her emotions were running high, she could feel the flames trying to escape from her back; there was so much confusion coursing through her, so much fear, she felt that if she dared open her mouth again she would cry. If she cried he'd try to get closer again, she had to stay detached from him; if this began with tears then it'd end in them. She didn't want to but, brows furrowed and teeth grinding, she nodded and thus lied. She began to take deep breaths, trying to force a neutral state; calm and focused like when she travelled the streets.
"Oh… well, I can help you find one! I've read lots of books with lots of names in them, I'm sure there'll be one you like." Blaze's focus on cooling herself faltered as he did something she thought completely insane, an act that embodied a serious lack of wisdom. He turned his back to her and began to wander toward the great stack of books. The young girl's prior fear of future rejection and abuse was overtaken by shock. No teal aura held her in place, nor did it glow from him. The angel didn't even throw glances back to her while he walked… was he so certain he could defeat her that he didn't see the need? Or… was he foolish enough to turn his back on someone moments after meeting them, after they called themselves a demon? She dared to glance to the ground; her shadow wasn't cast in cyan, there was no hold on the door. If she wanted to leave… nothing was stopping her. Her vision raised to focus on him, bent over to read the spines of the books. "A lot of the books I like are about how things used to be, you know, before it was all destroyed? There are some really nice pictures of lakes and stuff in some of them! Did you know the sky used to be blue? I only found out a couple weeks ago, I really want to see that! Hopefully, when I fix things, it'll change back."
Blaze only knew lakes of lava, the idea of a blue sky something she'd seen depicted but never thought about, yet the joy with which he spoke of them peaked her interest. Regardless of what they were, he was passionate about them in a way she'd never seen anyone be passionate about anything, outside his certainty that'd he'd fix this world. He pulled a large book from the pile only for the entire stack to tumble one way while the target book fell the other. He bent down, lifting the book a little, only for his grasp to fail. His eyes briefly met hers, he was smiling again but pinkness had spread across his face. The expression fully perplexed her. "I know there's some purple stuff in this one, maybe we'll find something nice?" He waved his hand; the book wrapped in blue and began to hover next to him; on its front in large bold letters it read Plant Encyclopedia. Plants? She'd read about plants, she knew roughly what they were, and her parents had used an encyclopaedia when they first taught her to read.
"There's lavender and heather and catnips and all sorts, I'm sure there'll be one you like!" As he made her way back Blaze's tight grip on her cape was beginning to reopen her cuts, she'd had an opportunity to run and she'd squandered it; she'd been too distracted by all these feelings, this angel only grew more mysterious. "Wait, catnips… you're a cat right?" She quickly nodded in response; his grin overcame the prior embarrassment. "Wow! I just noticed your tail and with the name in clicked. So you'll be something the cat… you're so lucky; I don't really know what I am. I think I'm a hedgehog? I'm not sure… I guess I'm just Silver, that'll do." He beamed, continuing his approach with careless abandon.
This was stupid and foolish! Why was he acting like this, why was she acting like this and what was this bubbling in her chest? Why did the carelessness and innocence he projected disarm her like this? They were in hell, the world was destroyed, yet here he was reading books and shouting about fixing it… asking her name, her age and if she was a cat as though they were important… trying to help her find a name when she refused to give one. What was this Silver, how could he exist in this world? Who was this angel that couldn't identify the demon before him, even when she spelt it out to him?
She was sprung from her thoughts as he stopped in front of her, realising he'd gotten closer again she stumbled back a few more steps; his eyes seemed to go a little wide at that, the grin wavered. His glowing hands began to wave again, book bouncing in the air as he gesticulated and spoke. "I'm not going to hurt you… you know that right? I only hurt those who hurt others, like the monsters outside." He shook his head a little, fully frowning now. "I tried to talk to them but they just keep attacking me so I've got to get rid of them. I think if I do maybe things will get better. Even just a little." There was a moment of silence but soon he returned to smiling, a hand on his chest fur once again. "I'm not strong enough to beat the big ones now, but I will be soon! I won't hurt you, I won't let anyone hurt you, I want you to be safe! It's my job to help this world and you're part of it, that means I've got to help you."
Her body quaked; her tail was flicking wildly and her ears refused to stay still. Did he have to shout so often? Even if she could find the strength to talk she wouldn't be doing it half as loudly as he was, every word seemed to bolster to the conviction he held. He'd said fixing this world was his job twice now, why? Who had given him this duty? Was he really an angel, sent from someplace far away to clean out the demons; had she been right from the start? Where was the selfishness or even a sense of self-preservation? How could he turn his back on a stranger, how could he stand to be so nice? Had no one taken advantage of this kind nature? She was shaking again, lost in a maze of thoughts, when he spoke. "Do you not want to pick out a name right now?"
He wasn't smiling now but he wasn't frowning as he had been, he was leaning in a little but hadn't reached out or taken a step forward. She slowly shook her head, staring into his bright yellow eyes. If she could avoid maintaining this lie she would, she'd take the next opportunity to escape no matter how the angel confused her.
"Oh… okay, I guess we can just do it later." He pointed down and the book gently lowered, as it touched the ground the light faded from it and his symbols stopped pulsing. His face had changed again, he wasn't frowning but there was something… different in his eyes. Blaze, having been isolated for so long, was unable to read the less hyperbolic expression and as a result took it as something to fear. It wasn't like that strange smile from earlier. Despite this, he kept talking. "There's a lot of stuff in these books I really want to see like… have you heard about the sea? Apparently there were these giant puddles of water, like how there are the lava pits now; only they'd go on forever." The smile started to regrow on his face, "This city used to be really nice too, there were some really pretty buildings and people looked a whole lot happier than they do now. I guess that's because they were safe… right?"
Blaze's head was spinning out of control; her breaths were drawing shorted and shorter, her hands refused to leave her shoulders. Why was he asking her? She'd never been safe, she had no idea; if anything it seemed like he'd been safer than her! Her amber eyes flickered across his frame; from those piercing eyes to the wound on his cheek to the marks on his bodies to the symbols on his hands and back. He was waiting for an answer; she forced a nod through the trembling. He smiled more widely at that but… that look still lingered in his eyes, she couldn't place no matter how she tried. Unsure what else to do she forced herself to nod. His smile grew larger at that.
"You know… you don't talk much and I'm pretty sure you're still scared of me… but I'm really glad I met you today! I've not really talked to anyone for a long time and I…umm." His head quickly turned. He was looking away for now clear reason; staring at one of the bookshelves. "I-It's just that I've never met someone my age before, a-and w-w-well. D-D-Do you…" For the first time he'd stuttered, was he unsure of himself? Blaze was both intrigued and terrified. She took a step backwards only for his eyes to lock back onto hers, that strange look in his eyes was gone; that redness on his face had returned. He burst into a ramble. "Do you want to be my friend? I'll keep you safe, I'm going to get big and strong; I promise! No one will call you demon with me around! I'll just beat them up." His hands had waved with every word as if to emphasize the importance to him; "D-Do you have friends already? I'm all alone here; no one else lives here but me... I-I've just been training and reading for a while now so it's been really nice to have someone to talk to. That's why I kind of thought… w-we could be…y-y-you know, friends."
His hands seemed to catch on the air, as if they'd met some invisible barrier, before dropping to his side; his gaze fell to the ground. This was her chance, this might be her last chance; the bubbling feeling was growing only stronger. She began to take shuffling steps back, her eyes still locked upon him. Friendship? In this place? People made fragile pacts with one another, daughter turned on father before father could turn on daughter, he hardly even knew her! He didn't- "You seem really really scared, and I'm not sure if that's because of me or just being here or something else… but I'll help you! I'm going to help everyone, but you're a kid like me so I'll start with you! You're really important, we were meant to meet today; I know it! I can't save everyone yet, but I can help you! That's part of my job."
The feeling in her chest, that warm tugging, was only growing stronger; she had to sever it now before it could pull her in. She felt her back press against the wooden door, there was a creak as she pushed against it; his eyes shot up to her… finally, her hands dropped from her shoulders. "Oh, do you have somewhere you need to go? I thought we-
The redness had vanished from his cheeks and for a moment that strange look entered his eyes but he shook his head, all of those spikes bouncing and waving as he did. When he finished he quickly looked away, bent over and struggling to pick up the encyclopaedia. "That's fine, hopefully I'll see you again soon! Don't be afraid to come back if you're ever in trouble, o-or just to talk. I said I'd help you and I will. Stay safe!"
Blaze didn't allow herself to hesitate, she slid along the door to the right and fumbled to reach for the left's handle; eyes still upon his shrunken frame. Eventually, she reached the handle and pried it open, just enough, and with a final nod to him she slipped through; door slamming behind her. As she stood on the library steps, reacquainted with the burning wind that ran through the streets. A different heat entirely still ebbed in her chest but, as she took in her surroundings, she knew she couldn't dwell on it. She was much too deep in the city, by now she could hardly remember the way back. She took a deep breath, gripping her shawl, but the injuries on her back still stung. With one last look to the door, she turned and began to run, making for the shadows once more.