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Author's note - Thanks for all the lovely reviews. They're greatly appreciated.
Chapter Four – Lisbeth Q
Eike gritted his teeth in exasperation, although there was a smile creeping up at the other's sneaky move. Homunculus must have used the Digipad to travel back and put in his own entries. He probably zapped off a second after Eike had left the cafe.
Now, where could the demon be? Spinning up another trap for the immortal human?
"You can come out now, Homunculus."
Eike's room was what someone living in it would call 'cosy' to mask how little it was: there was a typewriter at the end of the camp bed, a radio in the corner, and a wardrobe next to the door leading off into the matchbox sized bathroom. The wardrobe opened with a tired moan and a pale hand reached out to push it further open. Eike had to stop himself from calling out that Homunculus was 'coming out of the closet'.
"Hah, hah, Eike," came out as a sarcastic mutter. Ah well, it looked like Eike didn't have to say anything out loud at all.
Homunculus sat down on the bed and leant against one of Eike's long legs.
"Do you understand what I wrote?" Homunculus asked.
Eike dropped the book back onto the floor and shrugged, knowing he was probably going to be mocked as usual.
"Well, basically, you're saying this... Ku woman is going around feeding off of misery, and because of this she's managed to tear the fabric of the demon world."
"She got greedy," Homunculus said. "We only started to notice problems when some of the weaker Djinns wasted away and died from never ending melancholy."
"That can happen?" It sounded impossible to Eike, how could someone die from just being sad?
"Do you not watch romantic dramas?" Homunculus said. "Where the boyfriend or girlfriend dies, and the person left behind becomes sick with the pain of losing them? The body gives up. Ku was hunting the lesser demons and attacking their weak points."
"Their heart." Eike glanced over at Homunculus and wondered if the creature next him had a heart as well. It was hard to believe a being so cruel could have one. Yet the other was able to snicker and sneer, smile sincerely too.
Perhaps Eike should watch those romantic films to get a better understanding of this 'heart sickness'.
"I left the other dimension when her influence began to reach spiritual entities the same level as I, then–" Homunculus clicked his fingers. "That world blinked out of existence, then back to life, until it was flashing back and forth into both states and unreachable."
"You really need my help, don't you?" Eike said, a smug smirk on his face.
The demon's lips pursed.
"I need a human. You're just one of the few who don't want to kill me."
"Unless you start being sarcy again, then I'll have the urge to strangle you as well."
"Don't ask me to be untrue to myself, dear."
Eike's eyebrows rose up comically and Homunculus stopped himself from rolling off the bed in a fit of laughter.
At least he had help now.
Halfway into this hellish day, I saw Karoline Underhill, the secretary, coming towards my desk. I tried to look busy in the hopes that she would walk away.
Considering everyone was in a mood, I did not want to have a row with this woman of all people. Trelweger I could handle, I just didn't know much about Ms Underhill to begin with. She might be crazy-violent for all I knew.
"Kusch." Damn. She sounded aggravated so I looked up nervously and tried smiling at her.
Her frown did not drop.
"There didn't happen to be a girl hanging around outside? Eighteen – nineteen years old?"
"The girl from the café?"
"Yes, Lisbeth. So, she was here?"
"Not really." I mean, it didn't look as if she was waiting outside the building. "I think Lisbeth was just passing and we got chatting."
"Oh, anything interesting?" Karoline leaned against the desk and finally awarded herself with a small smirk. Her earlier ferocity pouring away.
"Just that she knew you."
She got off the desk, just as I was considering poking her with my pen to get her up. Karoline patted my arm.
"The boss is looking for you by the way."
I glanced at his office. The boss had stormed off to the toilets an hour ago. He was probably slipping more nicotine patches on thighs; a sight I unhappily stumbled upon when walking into the men's for a whiz and a quick chuckle over the messages people had scribbled on the wall.
"He's not in the office–"
"I don't mean him. It's the boss' boss who wants to see you."
The one who gave me the promotion.
Karoline pointed to where the entrance hall sat in a grumpy welcome to everyone who visited. I could see a figure. I assumed they were a woman because of how short they were, although they were too far away to really tell. I thanked Karoline and stood up.
As I walked past the sprawl of messy desks and coffee cups, my eyes lowered, in an absent minded daydream, I suppose, and I let the sweet smell of the lavender overwhelm my senses. I still felt the warmth of Karoline's hand on my arm, but I could also feel other sensations on my body, as if my flesh was remembering a memory from long ago.
Something brushed my legs. Breath ghosted against my ear.
Yet there was nothing there.
Night had fallen far too quickly, and so they were forced to do this. Eike had been tempted to kick the other onto the floor. Compassion made him refrain, and he even let Homunculus have most of the covers and pillows.
Their legs had tangled together in the night somehow, and the human had his arm wrapped around the demon. It reminded him of a child holding its dearly beloved doll tightly to himself. With a sigh, he relinquished his grasp and turned around, not noticing Homunculus' smirk dropping as his source of warmth moved away.
I shook my head, wondering where these feelings were coming from. I had slept in the same bed with other people when I had been late on the rent and needed a place to stay, but I had no idea when this had taken place. The guy in the memory had looked like that demon!
Though I wouldn't mind sharing a bed with him–
Get back onto the topic, Eike. I must be away with the demons today – I mean faeries – I needed to stop reading those occult books all of the time.
"Hey.." I was about to say more to the almighty boss but then snakes of a different emotion slithered inside of me. I blushed as snapshots invaded my mind.
Eike's hand was cupping the back of Homunculus' head, fingers playing with the silken locks, and his tongue played with the corners of the other's mouth. A hand rubbed the back of his neck, while canines just a little sharper than his nipped at his lower lip.
"Hello, sir." I swallowed, trying to ignore my thoughts.
I had changed my opinion on this person's gender. Their back was turned to me, but their body was far too angular and small hipped. He wore a leather coat, which looked a little girly, with silver spray paint streaking the tails, and a cap the colour of vermillion.
Eike's jacket had suddenly ripped away and flown into the corner. He guessed it was Homunculus' tricks again. He was still struggling with the complicated buttons on his little amber eyed love's leather coat. It was amusing the demon greatly, making the passionate mood a little silly.
"That's the way it should be," Homunculus murmured as he undid Eike's ponytail.
The man was muttering into a mobile and as I approached, my cheeks flushing, he switched the phone off and turned around to face me. He smirked and waved.
"What about this?" Eike began, leaning forward in the plastic chair. It was splattered with paint and blood, most of it his. "We could start up a paranormal magazine and then, when each issue is released, a copy gets sent to the Digipad. If something related to Ku or Lisbeth Quentin appears then we can dial in the time and investigate it."
Homunculus was sniffing the tea Eike was drinking, as usual. Although he could not eat or drink, he seemed to have a cat-like obsession with smells. Ice cream and lavender being his favourites. He hmmed for a moment and nodded.
"It does seem the best course of action, love, but who will we hire?"
"Failed authors, people just getting into the writing scene, anyone who has a passion for finding stuff out. I know a lot of people in this area who fit the criteria."
Little did they know that fifty years after creation, Lunar magazine would descend into a trashy gossip magazine. Or that one memory less Eike Kusch, the creator, would be working there for a minimal wage.
It was on that day, as Homunculus was sorting out the business aspect of Lunar, that he saw Lisbeth Quentin in her little café Yon. To everyone in the area she was always known as Lisbeth Q; nobody knew who began it. She looked young, yet there was a melancholy around her that spoke of a much older personality.
The name Lisbeth wasn't really youthful amongst the Rockys and Katies that visited her cafe, yet the elegant name was juxtaposed with that one letter after it. It sounded punky to everyone who heard the sharp 'Q'.
They always thought she was a weird one, though.
Eike could see her through the kitchen window. She stood mixing something in a bowl, and she was staring ahead, straight through him, while tears stained her face and dripped into her batch of confections, like an April shower. She did not notice. Did not care. He thought she hadn't even realised she was crying.
After I saw Homunculus in the Lunar offices, I knew everything was going to Hell when the tea and cupcakes in café Yon began making people cry as they ate them.
Her misery was spreading again.