Title: Missing Angel
Characters: Harry, Gorilla Demon, mentions of Lash & Murphy
Word Count: 1295
Spoilers: Through White Night, but pre- Small Favor
A/N: This is my first fic in this fandom. I hope I'm doing Harry justice.
I guess I never realized how much I'd come to depend on Hellfire until it wasn't there anymore. Okay, maybe not depend on it, exactly. It's not as though I'd ever really called it up on purpose. Well, a few times, maybe. But mostly it was just Lash, helping me out when she thought I needed it. Which I suppose was really just my subconscious asking for her help. If you want to get overly technical about it. Semantics.
The point is, it had been a long time that my fire magic was being supplemented with Hellfire. And I never really thought about what that meant, after Lash was gone, until the first time I called for fire and the Hellfire wasn't there to help.
There was a demon; when isn't there? He was big and ugly and mean. Part of the job description. And yes, I mean he, and no, I don't want to explain how I figured that out. Anyway, the demon was terrorizing a bingo hall. And if you can figure out why a bingo hall of all places, I'll buy you a pizza.
All the details aren't really important, but I stopped by to check it out because I owed Murphy a favor. Well, if you consider what had happened to Murph's career, her reputation, her car, her psyche and so on just because of her association with me, you could say I owed her more than a favor. The guy who ran the bingo hall for his local church had called the police to complain about a 'ruffian' hanging around and scaring the blue-haired ladies away. The fact that he used the word ruffian wasn't what got me involved. It was the description. Seven feet tall, weighing about 400 pounds and smelled like a zoo. Murphy suspected a 'non-human'. I told her she'd make a hell of cop some day. She hung up on me.
I hung around the front entrance for an hour or so, nodding politely at all the little old ladies who tottered in, clutching their handbags in arthritic fingers once they'd gotten a look at me. It was fair enough, I suppose. Besides the 400 pounds, I fit the description pretty nicely. Once the crowd had mostly gathered and I could hear the rumble of the bingo wheel, I abandoned my post out front and went skulking around the back of the building. Yeah, skulking. Assuming the thing was a demon, the last thing I wanted to do was walk straight into it.
Which, of course, is exactly what I ended up doing. I may be a wizard, but timing isn't always my thing. I stuck my head around the corner of the building before I stepped into the darkened alley, but my view was blocked by what I assumed to be a large pile of garbage bags. I stepped out a little further to look around them and I inadvertently bumped the pile of trash with my staff.
Oops. The demon, who had been crouched down in the alley, stood up and gave me the once over. He was huge, easily half a foot taller than me and nearly as wide. Other than the leathery skin and the weirdly glowing purple eyes, he looked like one of the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. On steroids. And now, he'd noticed me.
One quick swipe with one of his massive hands and I was on the run. It's not that I was scared, precisely. It's just that I have a very finely tuned survival instinct. Tight, poorly lit alleys are bad places to get into a fight. Especially with a foe who outweighs you by a couple hundred pounds and could just as easily squash your skull as you could crush a can of Coke. Trust me.
The demon was fast. He caught me in a scary short distance and we both toppled to the ground. A very brief and very … intimate wrestling maneuver later, I escaped. I took off running down the alley again, and once I felt like I'd gained an appropriate amount of distance, I turned back and leveled my staff at him, gathering up my the fear and the repulsion and forcing it at the demon.
"Fuego!" I shouted. A column of fire shout out of the staff and shot toward the demon. But it didn't have quite the effect I'd intended. For one, when I say column, I really mean lance. I'd expected something about the width of a telephone pole. What I'd gotten was about the width of a garden hose. And while my aim was dead on, aim is useless if you can't throw far enough to reach your target. The billowing stream of fire fizzled out about three feet from the demon, who know looked extremely annoyed.
"What the hell?" I shouted. And that's when it hit me. Hellfire. There was no more Hellfire. I hadn't drawn up that much power, because I hadn't thought I'd needed it. I just expected the power to be there. The heat, the sulfur, the kick that Hellfire had been giving me. It was gone. And suddenly, I understood just how little I'd thought about Lash's disappearance in practical terms.
Without time to dwell on the subject, I took off running once more, the demon in hot pursuit. The alley was bisected ahead by a narrow passage between the bingo hall and the next building on the street. I took a hard right and sprinted for the emergency door mid-way down the building's length. I'd been hoping the demon would be too massive to squeeze it's way into the tiny area. It was close, but he was making it. The emergency door was propped open and I dashed inside. I might have kicked the door closed behind me, but that would have only saved my hide and unleashed an angry gorilla demon on a horde of blue-haired grandmas.
The demon burst through the doorway behind me. Lucky for me, I had enough of a head start of avoid the shrapnel that exploded around his entrance. I raced around the corner and the demon, predictably, followed. Say what you want, but one of the few good things about demons is their single mindedness. I stopped where I was and waited. No need for fire now.
The demon burst through this doorway as well, and I raised my shield bracelet, already infused with enough power to repel the tiny shards of ceramic tile that accompanied his entrance. If he'd been another wizard instead of a demon, this never would have worked. But another of the few good things about demons is, they don't know much about the mortal realm. As soon as the demon was inside the enclosure with me, I reached behind my back and turn the faucet.
Water sprayed from the dozen or so shower heads inside the YMCA's locker room wash area. Demon + running water poof. Or sizzle. Actually, he kind of melted, like the Wicked Witch of the West. I thought that was fitting.
Once the demon had disintegrated, and I was thoroughly soaked, I left the YMCA and started my walk home. The Blue Beetle was in the shop again. I'd have to call Murph and let her know to expect a call from the YMCA about some vandalism. She'd make it okay. But before I did that, I'd spend a few minutes thinking about what else wasn't going to be as easy without Lash there to help me.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I might actually miss my angel.