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it was bound to happen eventually. he should probably be more careful about who he pissed off, instead of carelessly flitting in and out of places he shouldn't be, saying things he shouldn't be saying. hamlet had been lucky so far, but finally, consequence decided to bite him in the ass.
the wound isn't that bad, all things considered. it makes him stagger, squelching quietly as it spits out dark blood with every step. it's not the only spot he's injured in, bleeding in a dozen different places, but it's the worst out of them all.
he just wants to get home, find a safe corner to curl up and lick his wounds in. but the effort it took for him to get away from that valkyrie leaves him tired and drained. hamlet turns a corner down a narrow passageway between buildings, feeling more secure with two walls closing in on him.
breathing hard, he's glad no one is around in this corner of the city to see him at such a vulnerable moment. carefully lowering himself to the ground, the demon tears a strip off his shirt and beings the arduous task of patching himself up.
reminiscent of warfare, ketak meandered the streets, following the echoing chime of the thrumming undercurrent of the city. destinations were not required in mindless voyaging, and inspiration lurked amidst the shattered and abandoned totems that armed the sidewalk, people and belongings, flora slithering from betwixt the splinters in the concrete and dilapidated buildings armored in faded hues of washed away dye. stories dwelt within the memories, though the archangel preferred to bypass the hypnotic croon of his own recollections. nothing worth weaving into a tale of heroism and hopefulness existed within his remembrances, as he witnessed the crackle of fire caressing charred flesh and spilled blood pooling at his feet, a pedestal continuously reformed from the stray droplets staining his sharpened blade. horrors reigned where he wanted magic; therefore, he sought solutions from the bedrocks of human depravity, praying for a hint of something worthy among the roots.
the huddled blob lowering itself to the ground garnered his attention, roused dismissive eyes into awareness. a golden gaze fixated upon the figure until the humanoid shape awakened the healer slumbering within him, and as the distance between them dwindled, recognition flared in his eyes. not even time could lessen the clarity of his memories regarding hamlet, who ensnared him despite their opposing alignments. slender fingers curled until his nails pressed into the palm of his hands, as he vividly recalled his weakness, his negligence. mistakes hovered in the expanse between them, unabridged by the soothing murmur of healing, for they were separated, wrenched apart by a tragedy wrought from his unresisting compliance with orders given.
halting beside the demon, ketak dropped to a crouch, reaching quivering fingers forward to brush along hamlet’s jaw. “darling, you have a penchant for misery,” he drawled with nostalgia and fondness sinking into his tone. obscuring himself with the shadows felt like betrayal now, though hamlet had seen everything from the brittle toy soldier to the blossoming diva.
“am i allowed to heal you this time?” the brunet queried, eyebrows furrowed and lips quaking from his inability to decide whether to smile or frown, stilted off-guard by the unexpected reunion. “or will you spit fire at me again in a vain attempt at triumph?”
perchance ketak planned to await approval, though he preferred not to, having already started gathering magic from within to begin the process of mending the broken and bleeding within their fair haired male. the illusion of choice was his game, a method to prolong their interaction beyond this.
let the madness begin!
vulnerability is not something he handles well. the hairs on his neck raise as he hears footsteps close in on him. hamlet can recognize an angel's needle sharp aura anywhere, stinging his skin like he's trying to balance on a bed of needles. it's not in his nature to be fearful, however, but in his weakened state, hamlet can feel his demon instincts rear their head. it's a matter of fight or flight, and they want him to fly.
even if he could, he wouldn't. he is not some weak thing that needs to run back to father every time someone pushed him on the playground. silver eyes narrow as they watch the silhouette draw close. the knight only relaxes minutely when a familiar face materializes out of the darkness. slowly, hamlet stretches out his injured leg, not wanting to look like a scared, balled up thing in front of him.
they still see each other every so often, enough that hamlet knows that little has changed between them, despite everything that's happened. (even though everything should be different, and hamlet goes more out of the way than he should to make it different). it's been a couple decades, and still, nothing has changed. he doesn't mind it so much anymore, even looks forward to it a little bit (not that he would ever admit that). but this —
he never wanted to meet like this.
hamlet returns the angel's greeting with a glare, commanding his body to stay still despite the hand that reaches out to him. the sensation of angel magic, no matter its intent, still gives his stomach an uneasy curl. "don't," he hisses, reaching up to wrap his hand around ketak's wrist and pulling it away from his face, "i don't need your help." clearly untrue, but he stubbornly carries on anyway.
"maybe not today," his eyes flash in vexation at the admission; probably the closest he would get to confess his vulnerability, and then he smirks with arrogance, "but some day i'll strike you down."
"it might not be wise to heal your archnemesis, ketak."
lips quirked upwards, an evanescent cheshire cat grin parading across his features in exasperated endearment, yet golden tinged eyes narrowed, eyebrows furrowing and gaze edging toward aggravation instead of gaiety. ketak permitted the injured demon to remove his hand, curling the fingers inward until they brushed against hamlet’s wrist, seeking the warmth of the other’s skin instead of detangling himself from the makeshift shackle; however, the magic continued to accumulate underneath his skin, energy thrumming through his veins like a promise between himself and their shared history.
resistance translated to idiocy within his brain.
denial represented a one-sided struggle for the outcome that ketak projected, which was the healing of the injuries garnered from whatever lout hamlet infuriated with his antics. curiosity wagged in the recesses of his mind, an absentminded contemplation regarding the circumstances preceding their encounter. he might hazard a guess, though he loathed the idea of being wrong in relation to the enchanting specimen of demonic perfection.
a scoff ripped itself from his lips at the term archnemesis, as they never operated like enemies. they defied the status quo for their respective cultures and befriended each other, committing treason as if they sipped on afternoon tea in the sunlight garden; they paid the price for their acquaintance, watching the world bleed had been easier than turning his back on a tortured hamlet. everything felt simpler than ignoring the pain seeping into the demon’s expression and weaving itself within his waspish tone.
“you’ll thank me,” he proclaimed, lifting his unencumbered hand to rest above the injury procured, beginning to filter the healing magic into hamlet’s body. “purchase a dictionary, dear. you’re turning senile if you believe us to be archnemesis. we’d need a few less pet names and more hatred to achieve that, my sweet demon.” teasing mirth surfaced in his eyes, evaporating the telltale signs of disquietude that previously rustled within his soul.
feeling comfortable with angel magic, even if it's that of only one angel, is so strange. hamlet lets his hand linger, relishing in the familiar thrum of power from ketak's fingertips, a force that could so easily destroy him but never does. he only allows them both a few seconds to relish the contact before he is pulling away. bracing both hands on the ground, hamlet pulls himself up to sit a little bit straighter, tries to look a little less injured.
he does not shy from the touch, watching as his injury immediately begins to knit together. there is a burn as their two opposing magics clash, a fizz that probably should have been painful, but ketak’s power washes over it like a soothing balm. hamlet does not resist this time, knowing that this is the inevitable outcome of their meeting. the corners of his lips turn up at the thought; the angel, a healer at heart, could never resist anyone in need. not even hellspawn.
”you know i won’t.” for once, hamlet’s laugh is genuine, containing an undertone of fondless that he always wished he could mercilessly crush. he leans his head on the cool brick behind him, listening to ketak’s smooth voice. he’s right — they haven’t been enemies for centuries, but hamlet never let go of that denomination. probably never will.
(it’s probably the closest hamlet might ever come to admitting the angel was important to him.)
”i’m your sweet nothing,” the knight says with a roll of his eyes but no real vehemence, ”we’re supposed to fight each other to the death. what kind of angel are you?” silver eyes open to watch kee’s magic seep into this flesh, gently bending his knee to test the extent of his healing. it doesn’t hurt as much anymore, and the bleeding has slowed to a trickle. hamlet pulls the tie on his makeshift tourniquet then stills again, using the time to observe ketak out of the corner of his eye.
sometimes, hamlet feels like he’s completely shed his human life, embracing the existence of an immortal. other times — times like these — hamlet feels like an earthling marvelling at a faraway star. though he crafts his face into a careful mask of indifference, it amazes him that some things never change despite the arguments and years and the distance.
they’re always bound to meet, pushed together by forces unknown to both of them. ever since hamlet heard that deliciously tantalizing voice on the radio, he knew. it was only a matter of time.
”that’s enough, kee —” the nickname slips out on its own and hamlet looks away with to hide a faint glimmer of surprise — ”the rest will heal on its own.” pulling kee’s hand away again, hamlet examines the still tender but no longer gaping wound, grimacing as he experimentally puts pressure on it. he traces the ripped fabric of his pants with disgust, mumbling something along the lines of a rueful, ’i liked these,’ as he does. he can’t complain; it was his own damn fault.
healing mollified the ache of bygone blunders, eclipsing charred remnants behind cloying warmth of forgiveness purchased with calloused hands; moreover, ketak reveled in the opportunity to appease the anxiety bundled within, the tangle of regret that festered within like a poison seeping into open wounds and entrenching itself deeper with each splinter of his heart.
fallacious dogma ingrained itself into his marrow, mutating him into a shade of himself—a hallow husk that obeyed without dissent and bid himself a humanoid weapon. salvation patrolled within the blissful incidents of clarity, of peeking through the storm riddled clouds to denounced his teachings by associating with a demon, but he adored the adventure, lived for the thrall of sensation that raced within his veins. hamlet lit the spark, set the fireworks alight within his monotonous sky of unblemished white. the golden hue of heaven retreated underneath the darkness of hell. the brunet thrived without fetters, blossoming into himself with each passing decade in the other’s presence.
he convinced himself that he lost everything on that accursed ship.
maybe he had.
perchance he had not.
“fool’s hope for better, but a wise man recognizes when to concede,” he mumbled, internally relishing in the laughter garnered from his previous commentary.
(it was painfully easy to step into the role that he inhabited for centuries, to abandon the thoughts and emotions of that moment for the simplicity of existing beside hamlet.)
faint giggles danced in the wake of hamlet’s inquiry, which seemed rhetorical to the archangel; nevertheless, he refused to permit his demon to gain the upper hand, not now and not ever. “i’m the archangel type, commander of legions and uncontested in beauty.” mischief glistened within his gaze while he bowed his head, a mockery of courtesy born from a theatrical mind versus genuine execution. everything required a flair of melodrama with him; nothing marched straightforward into the sunrise unless he lingered on his death bed.
the usage of his nickname shocked him enough to listen to the demon’s request, to halt the flow of magic into the injury, which taunted ketak with its continued survival. his battle, however, was conquered, granting hamlet his way did not scream of negligence any longer.
“fine,” he drawled with a pout, submitting without grace because it was hamlet. “but you cannot keep those pants. they need to be burned, not mended. hear me, you fool. replace them. don’t be a cheeky brat because you liked them.” if his serene expression bespoke of foretold pain, ketak deigned not to comment further regarding his less chivalrous intent.
he smiles more with his eyes than his mouth, a warm glow touching those otherwise cold pools. shifting to angle his body a little bit more towards ketak, he jabs a pale finger into the man's chest. it’s like jabbing a wall. ”how sacrilegious you are, archangel who is uncontested in beauty.” hamlet turns on his flourish, keeping his face straight even though he feels giddy on the inside. drama always suited the demon, even when he was a young prince.
hamlet allows himself a moment of reprieve from his usual brooding persona. it’s a side of him that only kee manages to bring out, warming up the sulky knight. that ketak brings out this hidden side of him with such ease almost angers him. the easy way he slips back into camaraderie is a disappointment that hamlet tries to fight, but defeat is always inevitable.
(even so, hamlet finds resistance slipping away from him alarmingly fast. maybe their distance had been longer than usual; maybe he’s finally taking kee’s advice to heart.)
(that he takes counsel from an angel — what is the world coming to?)
if hamlet had not turned away — if hamlet had seen the shock flitting across the angel’s face — perhaps he would be incensed to use that nickname more. ketak’s face is already composed when his drawl draws silver eyes back to it. hamlet snorts in amusement when the angel’s judgement reaches his ears. ketak never used to be so fond of burning things when they first met.
”i dunno,” he says, a hint of mischief in his voice. he already knows this will drive the angel crazy.
tracing a finger down the side of the rough fabric, hamlet examines the extent of the damage. blood makes the black material even darker and stiffer; it’s probably ruined. ”i quite enjoy the redesign. maybe i’ll keep wearing them like this.” the angel would have none of that, hamlet knows, but it’s fun teasing him nonetheless.
still, they can’t stay there all night. silently glad that the worst of his injury is mostly taken care of, hamlet gets to his feet, gingerly putting weight on his leg. better, but still not great. if he wanted to, he probably has enough energy to fly home now. the thought is tempting and he partially obeys, letting his human form melt away to unfurl wings and horns. rolling his shoulders, he utters a satisfied noise as he stretches his wings out. actually physically flying isn’t necessary, but the feeling of being in the air loses its exhilaration.
not ready to leave just yet, hamlet turns to the archangel, playfully hitting him with a wing. ”are you staying in the city? or just passing through?”
an exaggerated roll of his eyes accompanied the jab to his chest, ketak humored the jest with mirth frolicking in golden tinted eyes. pallid features retained their apathetic slant, lips barely curved upwards and smugness steeped into the shadows dappled across his visage; however, he permitted a harrowed sigh to respond to the comment, showcasing his humor in the dramatized reaction. hints of fictitious disgruntlement edged into the noise emitted. they succumbed to the dance crafted from centuries of companionship, for the dust brushed aside with ease, cast away from them without a bat of an eye or flicker of hesitation.
hamlet represented sanctuary in the past, a chaotic fiend amidst the serenity of heaven’s dogmatic regime.
presently, their entanglement embodied everything from mutual, unspoken fondness to mistakes buried in ashes, languishing underneath the heat of sunshine and the chill of moonlight, festering in their continued sidestepping. archnemesis should be their title, not whatever cocoon they built for themselves betwixt the beginning of their relationship to now.
ketak loathed the concept of preaching forgiveness, of delving into misery to mend the fractured pieces that sparked friction between them. frankly, he relished in the heartache because he considered himself warranted of heartbreak.
scandalized irritation unfurled upon his features, jarring him from morose meandering due to the absolute sin espoused by the fair haired male, for no one dared to stand between the brunet and his desire to correct fashion faux pas. “you do know,” he fairly shrieked, unyielding in the newfound warfare regarding attire. “those things belong with the hell spawn, the deepest pits of hell where only the tar black ugly reign. i will burn the clothes now if you don’t agree to accompany me to a store and replace them with legitimate clothing, not those rags.”
inhaling sharply, ketak rose to his feet alongside hamlet, eyes narrowed into the thinnest slits of burgeoning vexation and lips pursed. his expressiveness increased tenfold due to the shift in conversation, as he was queen and required a degree of sophistication from his demon.
at the appearance of hamlet’s demonic traits, his features softened, smoothing into an exasperated contentedness. instinctively, he sidestepped the love tap from the wing, yet he lifted a hand to brush his fingertips across the appendage, grounding himself in the present. “staying,” he murmured, gaze flickering to clash with silver. “are you staying or traveling through?”
holding a hand to his lips, hamlet fights the desire to snicker at ketak’s scandalized reaction. covertly taking a breath, he waits for his composure to return before opening his mouth. ”but dear,” he drawls, ”did you forget? i am hellspawn. perhaps you are the one that’s turning senile.”
now that he’s standing up, he takes a few experimental steps, testing his leg and disguising it as appraisal for his new style. the smirk spreads further on the demon’s face. ”i do think i’ll keep it.” silver eyes flash merrily at the angel, daring him to try. waging his measly lighter against a creature of fire, there is no contest.
his expression is much less mirthful when kee dodges the wing. feeling fingertips along his feathers, hamlet throws the appendage out a second time. though he’s curious about ketak’s own circumstances, hamlet does not want to be so forthright with his own.
it’s a strange feeling — one he doesn’t understand very well; one that demanded things of him and one that he listened to more often than he would have liked. it weighed his stomach down like he swallowed a bag of rocks. can demons feel anxiety? for a fleeting second hamlet is tempted to lie so kee does not look forward to more of this (so he does not look forward to more of this).
he resists. ”staying,” he murmurs back, meeting ketak’s gaze only to break it moments later. the atmosphere suddenly feels awkward as they move on from more frivolous things. much needs to be said between them, but not here, not like this. ”speaking of which, i should be getting back.”
“blasphemy,” the brunet hissed, seething displeasure evident in the fluttering of his clothing, tugged haphazardly about his stationary frame by slender tendrils of wayward breezes that lanced through the city street. fickle creatures of intangible quality heeded the crook of his fingers, which aimed to embedded cobalt blue painted nails into the flesh of his palm. tragedy, such as hamlet’s attire, required exorcism, not leniency, so he planned to emerge victorious in their latest squabble, determined and tenacious in his vicious, premeditated counterattack.
one hand tentatively unfurled while he permitted hamlet’s wing to brush against his arm, smirking deliberately in an innocuous manner. seeking fingers plunged into the depths of his bedazzled handbag, curling lightly around his trusty lighter; however, ketak waited, patient as a lioness on the prowl for her cubs’ sustenance.
(his mentor taught him to observe, to calculate, to execute flawlessly. wars won themselves in the shadows, not in the cacophony of the battlefield; therefore, he watched, muscles primed and body ready to act without warning.)
the emotional undercurrent of their conversation veered from their lighthearted bantering, skirting the edges of territory that they steadfastly ignored in previous encounters. they contrived a futile waltz where they steps never quite matched any longer, extinguishing the smooth glide of the past for an awkward shuffle of feet and regrets. hamlet’s honesty brokered a genuine grin, something small and momentary, upon his features.
staying promised hope, though he was foolish to dream of receiving forgiveness from anyone.
“oh,” he breathed, gaze flickering toward the burnt orange hue of the sky, sun sinking lower and colors darkening to the indigo of nighttime. “you’re not the only one with a chariot awaiting them.” a smirk graced his visage while he stepped closer, bypassing hamlet’s wing and leaning into the demon’s personal bubble. playful breezes whispered through their hair while he withdrew the lighter, keeping his hand low and flaring the flame to life against the fabric of hamlet’s ruined pants. his conjured puffs of wind wrapped around them, urging the flames to breathe. “but i can’t in good faith allow you to leave with these god forsaken excuses of fabric adorning your lovely legs. just be a good boy for me, darling.”
innocently — obliviously — hamlet lets kee slip into his personal space, distracted by the sudden closeness. more often than he would like to admit, hamlet got lost in nostalgia around the angel, little things here and there reminding him of how they used to be: a pair far removed from the conflict between their respective realms; someone who he could shed his knight’s armour around.
he should have suspected something was amiss instead of acting like a blushing maiden. the feeling of heat against his leg snaps hamlet’s attention back to the present. he smells the fire more than sees it, feeling the heat of it bloom against his skin. skillfully, hamlet manipulates the stream away from his person, directing tendrils of it backwards into the lighter’s fuel source.
igniting, the flame grows, narrowing and elongating under the demon’s influence. spiralling upwards unnaturally, the smell of singed fabric fills the air as the flames burn a path on ketak’s sleeve. hamlet stops them from burning further, but leaves their presence there as a warning. he knows he’ll have hell to pay for destroying the angel’s immaculate looks, but now, he smiles smugly, entirely satisfied with himself.
”i think we should be talking about your jacket instead, angel. it’s a bit out of season, but that will be fixed soon enough.” intensifying the flare, he allows it to eat away at the fabric to expose strips of flawless skin.
dancing away with a carefree giggle, hamlet spreads his wings, ready to fly out of reach the second the angel comes for him.
obstinately, golden hued eyes fixated upon hamlet’s mien, not bothering to witness the adroit manipulation of the unveiled flames of blistering orange that mimicked the sunset overhead, imperiously engulfing the universe and dimming the sunlight until the feeblest of fireflies remained, frolicking overhead without worrying for the wretched souls left to follow their scant illumination. no, the fire stilled underneath his demon’s intervention, stumbling to kneel like an overgrown puppy begging for attention and adoration; however, ketak murmured to the wind, pressed his essence into the breeze that coiled around the spiral of heat.
the warmth approached, singing the fabric of his jacket. he struggled to sustain his expression, enraged horror fighting tooth and nail to overtake him, but he stayed afloat, controlling himself due to habitual instinct ingrained throughout centuries of tutelage in breathing as an angelic weapon. unfortunately for his demon, hamlet did not halt at the barest press of fire against his beloved clothing. no, the imbecile proceeded to leave the rampaging flames as a warning, taunting with the continued existence of the miserable puppet ploy.
danger swam in his gaze, a shark barely restrained by a docile façade of notable fiction.
hamlet stared in the face of a hefty price to pay.
slender fingers rose, bypassing the stolen armor and sinking his fingers into he fabric of hamlet’s shirt, applying enough force to twist the clothing against hamlet’s skin. “darling boy, your games are for brats. i’ll trounce your ass before you even think to burn something else, so simmer down and don’t twist yourself into knots. we’ve got all day to fix you.” promised pain glittered in his gaze while he shuffled closer, crossing further into hamlet’s personal space. the wind stirred around them, strengthen the currents surrounding them to ground their wings, to leave them landlocked and pressed together.
“now,” he began, mischievous smile appearing on glossy lips and expression distressingly serene, “humor me. extinguish the flames yourself or watch them be snuffed out, but you’re not regaining freedom until i’m… satisfied.”
lmk if i need to change anything since kee took some liberties
wings flap uselessly, grounded by the very air they depend on. hamlet only has a second to ask the wind, reaching out with a fervent plea as he leaps just out of reach. wingtips brush against the rough brick on the other side of the alley’s narrow passage. the fickle wind blows past his face and hamlet hears an amused ’no’ within its cool breadths. it’s not to be torn between two masters tonight. cursed thing.
the moment costs him. trying to sidestep so he at least has the length of the alley at his disposal, ketak is a hair faster and hamlet lets himself be dragged into the angel’s personal space. the angel’s fury is a sight to see, but it loses its touch when hamlet knows that kee wouldn’t really hurt him.
steadfast eyes stare back at him, triumphant, as if he finally arose a victor in one of their matches. ”you are a brat.” like a child, hamlet sticks his tongue out, blowing a raspberry at the infuriated angel. at a thought, the tongue of flame still wrapped around ketak’s arm blossoms into a greater inferno, steadily burning off cloth as it makes its way down his arm, over his shoulder, and onto his torso.
his own clothes are less of a concern. already ruined, it’s easy for him to pull away, cutting off the captive fabric with a thin coil of flame. ”you must be losing your touch, ketak. the centuries have dulled you.” backpedalling immediately, hamlet makes as much haste as his aching injuries would allow him.
hurrying himself outside ketak’s sphere of influence, he tests his wings again, once more calling out to the wind. it comes to his aid this time, laughing in his ears as he feels the current between his primaries. ”i would love to stay and chat, but i think we should save that for next time, doll. can’t put all our eggs in one basket now, can we?”
war transpired within his brain. rage smoldered while he alternated between stupefied and bemused, for he struggled between responding to the teasing jab and the fiery consumption of his clothing. brief flickers of wind brushed against exposed skin, tracing the path taken by the flames across his shoulders and torso, soothing with fleeting caresses and searing the incident into his memory. hamlet requested retribution. ketak excelled at the long game, eerily patient and resolute in the shadows cast.
presently, his grip loosened on discarded fabric, scraps floating to land in the space previously inhabited by his demon. the maelstrom conjured rampaged until hamlet escaped from the turbulent currents, and the brunet responded by killing the storm, dissipating it with a careless twitch. nothing, aside from chasing him, could halt hamlet’s retreat, as he danced too far from ketak’s grasp during the archangel’s flabbergasted inattention.
maybe he did lose his edge in the convening centuries.
he almost applauded himself in joy of being duped, as he never relished in the skills honed by tireless battle.
instead, ketak adopted a regal smile, features deceptively tranquil and posture nonthreatening. “darling, come prepared next time. i’ll have an itinerary planned for us, and you’ll be hard pressed to escape without completing it.” the tone of his voice bespoke of pain, a vow tied into the theatrics of their interaction; however, he refused to linger, pivoting to face away from hamlet and begin walking through the city toward the manor he shared with his protégé, zuri.
if anything, he supposed he discovered the inspiration that he previously sought.