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Ultimately, Fenrir thought, it wasn't that hard to find out who exactly he was looking for. The death of a Knight of Hell was unlikely to go unnoticed for long, and in the four days that had passed since Fenrir returned to Mythril, rumors were spreading like wildfire in the demonic circles.
He didn't dare step foot in Carnal. There'd be consequences for his actions, he knew with certainty, and he wasn't about to swandive into them. He did his best to keep a low profile and spent a day lurking in the surrounding neighborhood, eavesdropping on conversations and striking up a few of his own until he got the information he was looking for. How successful he was in remaining unnoticed, or at least unrecognized, he wasn't certain. He didn't care. A name was obtained, an address found, and Fenrir disappeared.
A second day was spent quietly observing the property of the woman who'd killed Seirasam. The phrase was jarring, catching on snags in the back of his mind, but he wasn't as perturbed as he thought he'd be. A roiling mess of grief and anguish and regret had been trapped beneath his ribs for just inside of a week, but now his head and his heart were unexpectedly silent, and he didn't know what to think of that. He decided not to think anything of it at all.
The woman had two demons guarding her estate around the clock. The idea of Camira needing bodyguards was laughable; she was an archdemon, sickeningly powerful in her own right, and could undoubtedly crush anyone who tried to violate her privacy. And, as the hours slipped by and he watched her come and go, he realized any fight with her would be two-on-one; her hellhound never left her side, doggedly traipsing behind with a look of adoration that made the taste of bile rise in the back of his throat. But he swallowed it down, and it faded into the rest of the quiet, and his body was silent again.
Fenrir thought distantly that he'd rather like to crack her ribs open and spend some quality time with her large intestine, and though his fingers itched to turn to claws, the closer thought of Teo and Fenix kept his feet rooted to the ground and his fingernails short and blunt. He would die if he tried to fight Camira. Days ago he would have willingly thrown himself onto that sword, but it was too late for him to make that choice now. He promised Teo he'd be back. Fenix couldn't lose a second father. Fenrir couldn't afford to die.
The intelligent thing to do, he knew, would be to walk away and pretend this never happened. Forget about Camira, forget about Seirasam, start doing some manual labor for Fenix and do his best to provide and support until Hell came calling.
Fenrir had never been a smart man.
The sky burnt to a rusting orange as the second day drew to a close. Fenrir took his guns out, his holsters off, and laid those on the ground; he unstrapped the sword from his back and laid that down as well. The coat went next, a long red leather thing Seirasam had bought him as a gift some thirty years prior. With it went his knives, his extra ammunition, his emergency first aid kit, the spare treats he kept on hand for Shepard. He was glad, suddenly, that he'd left her behind at Club Ambrose. He didn't think he'd be able to send her away if she were here.
He took off his boots, his belt, his gloves, and added them to the pile; after a moment's thought, he unbuttoned his shirt, and threw that in there as well. After unloading the guns and switching on their safeties, he wrapped the whole mess up in his coat and left it in a neat little bundle under a tree opposite Camira's home. The street was dead. The sky deepened to purple and the lamps flickered on, bathing the stretch of homes in a warm, suburban glow.
Fenrir felt naked without his layers, clad only in a thin black undershirt and jeans Seirasam had stolen for him from work and socks he bought in a Hanes twelve-pack from Target, but that was the point, he thought, and trudged onward. He dragged himself across the street and to her front door and knocked twice, the dull thumps of hand on wood matching his own sluggish heartbeat. He waited.
"I'm unarmed," he said, not bothering to shout; if she didn't hear him, then her hellhound surely would. "I'm not here to fight. I just need some answers."
She'd wondered when he'd come back. Quite honestly, with how Seirasam had treated him, she hadn't expected him back this soon. The knowledge that she'd killed someone, ruined the chances of a reconciliation between two who so obviously loved each other sent a thrill through her.
Ah, of course, it had been her job to dispose of the Knight once he'd begun shirking his duties. But that didn't mean she couldn't enjoy it, couldn't enjoy the act of murder, couldn't enjoy the sight of someone so broken searching for something they'd likely never get back.
It was amusing to know Fenrir was following her around. Camira assumed he'd thought he was being sneaky, slinking around in the shadows, but Aylin's nose was sharp. Camira let it happen, let the masterless hellhound follow her everywhere, let him see every move she made. A small part of her hoped he'd be stupid enough to attack then and there.
Of course, however, he wasn't. Perhaps that was why she stood there in the doorway instead of one of her servants, dressed casually, human facade melting away across her features to show her true form, eyes glinting dangerously. "Hello Fenrir. I've been waiting."
// tag fenrir grimms
// words 201
// notes i'm too lazy to copy paste the shrug emoji whoops
Deciding not to attack her had turned out to be one of his rare moments of wisdom, Fenrir noted, watching the woman's human guise slip away to reveal the demon beneath. He felt ill, suddenly, staring at her absurdly green eyes and the sickly tinge to her form, but he forced that down. Every instinct in him was screaming to bare his throat and submit, but he forced that down too.
She'd been waiting - so she'd known he was watching. Not surprising, but disappointing regardless; he'd hoped he'd done a better job of melding with shadows, but he supposed her hellhound was just more perceptive than he was stealthy. He'd been sloppy. He felt tired, and dull around the edges, and like he wanted to leave Camira's doorstep as soon as possible.
"Archdemon," he replied, cool but deferential, as if he weren't defenseless before her, as if he didn't want to gouge her eyes out of her sockets and wear them like a necklace. "I need the body."
The strange quiet that had swept through him was starting to stir. He suppressed a shiver, suddenly cold despite the warm summer night, and he held Camira's piercing, dangerous gaze.
The polite smile she'd plastered onto her face when answering the door twisted into a sly grin. "Do you now?" Ah, it was almost laughable how desperate he was, a terrifying hellhound reduced to a sniveling puppy without his master. Camira knew now that he was not dumb, that he was far from that and she hoped he realized that saying he was "unarmed" was wrong. A hellhound was never truly unarmed, not as long as they were alive.
But still, it didn't seem like Fenrir had the will to be a living weapon at that moment. It didn't look like he had the will to shift, to fight her.
She pitied him, yes, but her next actions were not out of mercy. She was known for being merciless, so how could they be? No, Camira had decided in that one moment that she would toy with this man for however long she could, even if he did get his so-called happy ending anyways.
Quickly stepping back and out of the way, Camira flourished her arm out, inviting him in with her gestures. To further the implication that she wanted him inside, she opened her mouth and spoke. "Come in. We have much to discuss before you can even think about asking me for the body again."
// tag fenrir grimms
// words 217
// notes an archdemon wearing sweatpants and t shirt in her own home
The only outward shift in his expression was the way his jaw tightened when his teeth ground together; otherwise, his face was carefully blank, no twist to his mouth and not even a spark of anger in his dead-eyed stare. He felt sick. He felt drained. He felt like he wanted to kneel on the ground in front of Camira and stretch his neck out so she could cut his head from his body and be done with this stupid game.
But Fenrir had promises to keep. Fenrir was not a smart man. So he nodded, and stepped inside.
His socks whispered over her floor as he made his way into the surprisingly domestic abode. Stepping aside to let her take the lead, as he had no inkling as to where she wanted him, he followed obediently and silently, sparing a thought for the clothes and weapons he'd left outside. Ultimately unnecessary, he supposed, but a gesture all the same; his body was a weapon, but he'd left his weapons at the door, and all of the pockets and layers he liked to hide his things in were stripped away. He'd left himself bare. He wouldn't shift, because he needed to stay alive.
"Whatever you want from me, I'll give it to you," he said as he followed her, hoping - in vain, he suspected - to cut to the chase. "I'm not sure what else there is to discuss."
The demon felt a thrill go through her when he obeyed, but not was not the time for such things. Of course, she'd had to antagonize him, she had to keep up the appearance that killing his master had been her idea. At least, in front of him, she did.
Camira glanced over to the shadows where she knew her own hellhound stood, waiting in case Fenrir took the chance to attack. After all, her back was turned on him. However, as soon as the other hellhound was inside her home, she slid the door closed with a gust of wind.
"I will not tell you that I did not enjoy killing him. I did, I enjoyed every second of it. It is rare, nowadays, that I get to do the job myself instead of my hellhound. However," she paused in both speech and step, turning around to face him. "It was not my decision to kill him. I will admit that I agreed with his sentiment; an out of control demon is much worse than a human serial killer. Jack the Ripper would have had nothing on the damage Seirasam could have done, had he not been executed by my hand. And it is your fault."
She turned around once more, leading Fenrir up the stairs and to her office, her hellhound slipping through the shadows to follow them.
// tag fenrir grimms
// words 230
// notes fuc k
The taste of bile filled his mouth, pungent and sour. Fenrir tried to focus on it, ran his tongue along his teeth and felt the odd texture there; he bit down hard on the inside of his cheek and licked away the blood that ran there. Iron. He lingered on that, considered absently how it mingled with the flavor of his revulsion. Over and over he turned the taste, forcing Camira's voice down into dull nonsense that he heard but did not comprehend. When she paused, he paused; when she finished speaking, he nodded as if in understanding, and when she walked, he followed her into her office and sat demurely in the closest seat.
Eyes were on him. From where they watched, he couldn't say, but something was there. Her hound, no doubt. Her dogged vigilance was nauseating; he wanted to rip her throat out for following the archdemon so blindly, with such devotion, as if she would ever give anything back-
Fenrir swallowed hard. Closed his eyes. His stomach wouldn't settle, and his hands were shaking, and he felt suddenly as if a heavy weight had fallen on his chest and he couldn't breathe deeply enough to fill his lungs with air.
"Out of control," he repeated. When he spoke, his tone was solid, even as his breath trembled. "I know it was my fault. I know. I know. I wasn't here to protect him from you and I should've been and that was selfish and stupid and reckless. I know. What I don't know is-" and he choked on his tongue, there, a hiccup of a sob bubbling up from his chest and escaping before he could hold it back. His stern, composed demeanor, gone. He couldn't meet Camira's eyes. "Executed," he repeated. His train of thought, gone. He couldn't focus. Again he bit on his cheek but the blood just thickened the haze. "His sentiment. Whose sentiment?"
Harshly he dug his knuckles into his eyes, as if that would clear his thoughts. The void in his chest felt brittle and sharp, and the sense of purpose and coherence he had managed to build in the week since Seirasam's death was lost to the dark. "I don't understand," he mumbled, pressing against his eyes until bright spots flashed in the dark. "I just want him back. Please, just give him back."
Silence was good. It meant he was processing her words. As she sat down behind her desk, the door closed behind them, sealing them in the room. It would not open until she let it.
"Her name is Aylin. She is to me what you could have been to Seirasam, had you not left. Had you spoken to him about it." Her voice was soft, a strange emotion filling it before she cleared her throat. The moment of weakness passed, eyes regarding the hellhound before her.
"Fenrir. Do you not know what I mean by out of control?" If he didn't, this was a problem. It meant he had not realized that, while Fenrir was off doing everything but his job, Seirasam had gone on a murdering spree. None of the souls had even been claimed by him, either; he'd killed and left them for the taking. At the hound's next question, however, her eyes narrowed. "He is someone who I will not name. Saying it feels like it could bring him here. And then our little conversation would be over and you too would most likely be deceased. And I am sure that is not part of your plans."
She sighed. "I cannot give you the body. However, I cannot stop you from taking it either." Her words were filled with meaning as she shifted her gaze to the large window behind her, the one with a beautiful view of her backyard.
// tag fenrir grimms
// words 243
// notes hmm
"Don't, Fenrir spat suddenly. The weight on his chest felt heavier; a vice gripped at his insides. "You didn't know him. Us. Don't pretend to understand what that was." Seirasam had made it clear, over and over and over and over and over, that he wasn't wanted. It was a moot point now, didn't matter because he wasn't here, and ultimately Fenrir was still the same man he'd been when he'd met Seirasam so many centuries ago: devoted, and helpless to change that.
He shook his head to clear his thoughts, but the pounding in his skull only aggravated. "He's the best Hell has to offer," he said, glaring at Camira. "He was going to become Archdemon, you know that, fucking everyone knows that. He's better than all of us." His tone grew high, accusatory. "You killed him because you knew he was better than you. Don't fucking lie to me."
Fenrir couldn't keep his head straight; he spoke of Seirasam as if he were here, then abruptly remembered and corrected himself. Distantly, he thought that he knew better than to speak to an Archdemon in such a tone. Wasn't the point of all this to not provoke her - to come to her unarmed and complacent, because he didn't want to die? You have a purpose, he told himself, but that was becoming more and more difficult to remember.
"I'm sorry, Archdemon," he said, though he could barely hear the sound of his own voice over the roaring in his ears. "This has been a... difficult time." Gaze glued to the floor, he lowered his head and tried to control his breathing. "If you can't tell me who gave the order, can you direct me to someone who will?" Eyes screwed shut. "I need to know."
Finally he looked up at Camira, following her gaze to the backyard beyond the window. Fire burned hot in his chest. His mind turned to the shadows, where he knew Aylin was watching; he thought of the souls he'd collected with Seirasam. The bodies they'd left behind. He swallowed hard against the smoke and fire he felt certain would come spewing from his mouth.
"How many pieces?"
"Mmmm... you'd be surprised at what I know," she said, raising an eyebrow, daring him to question her further. All of the inner circle of Hell knew what had happened. They knew that there was something between the two, they knew that Fenrir had left and Seirasam had self destructed. It was a shame, really. Camira wasn't scared that he'd have ended up taking her job, she was confident she wouldn't have been the one removed to make room for him, but he was on the track to becoming even more powerful.
But, it seemed the cause of this mess, whether he'd meant for this to happen or not, was in denial. "He was one of the best, I will admit that. But you dare to say he was better than me? Know your place, Hound, unless you want me to change my mind about all of this." she hissed out, eyes narrowing, the air in the enclosed space responding to her agitation. "That bond must have been nothing for you to not have realized what he was doing. Did you not understand what I meant when I said he would have ended up worse than Jack the Ripper? He didn't even claim any of the souls!"
The room was silent for a long moment, the air tense - literally. And then Camira relaxed once more, huffing lightly. "Insolent beast. Very well, if you insist on knowing the name of someone who could bring your doom far more efficiently than I, I will write it for you on a slip of paper at the end of our talk. But, Fenrir, I am warning you. He's dangerous."
Camira frowned internally. Showing emotion was bad. What was it about this desperate man that angered her so? Was it because, just as his master had, she'd fallen for her hellhound and been unable to realize it? It didn't matter. Aylin, at least, had had the guts to mention something about it to her. And they'd fixed the problem before it destroyed them.
Pity Fenrir and Seirasam hadn't been able to do the same.
She sighed, tired of this conversation. "I'll write that down on the paper too. Anything else?"
// tag fenrir grimms
// words 365
// notes i wrote this to running in the 90's
Fenrir dug his nails, sharp and elongated, into his thighs, and stared blankly at the floor beneath his feet. He didn't even claim any of the souls.
He'd killed himself. All this effort, this pain, tracking down his killer and trying to retrieve his body - trying to understand a murder - and he'd killed himself.
Seirasam knew the consequences of arbitrary killing, of leaving souls unretrieved. Fenrir had his role drilled into his head since he was a pup; he knew the demons were taught the same. Slay the target, claim the soul, do what you will with the rest.
Had he expected Fenrir to sense his reckless, insane actions, to come running back and pull him from the brink? Was it a desperate ploy to reclaim Fenrir's attention, gone horribly out of control?
He didn't want you.
Did he just want to die?
He didn't want you.
"I don't understand," Fenrir mumbled, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. He roughly scrubbed them away, shoved his increasingly wild thoughts down, and shook his head. Breathed deep. His confusion, hurt, anger, frustration - he breathed deep, and locked them away. Cool composure settled over his expression once more.
You have a purpose, he reminded himself. Camira wouldn't give him any more answers.
He'd get them, though. One way or another.
He stood up and bowed, the motions stiff and awkward. "I won't do anything reckless," he said, though he knew it was a lie the instant the words left his mouth. "That's all I need, Archdemon."
A long pause. Fenrir took a moment, and swallowed his pride. His gaze stayed fixed to the backyard outside Camira's window. "Thank you."