I leaned heavily against the seat in the limousine, breathing hard.  I could hardly move my shoulder, which was in agony.  I gritted my teeth.  I felt sore all over.

            “You look like hell.” Lil grinned.  I didn’t see what was so funny.  “You cut your hair.  I like you without the beard.”

            I let out an unintelligible groan, and gripped my arm tightly.  I closed my eyes for a moment and searched for a coherent thought.

            “What are you doing here?” I finally spat out through a clenched jaw.

            “Our mutual friends gave me a call.  I figured maybe you needed to make a quick exit.”  She smiled.  I finally looked at her.

            She was wearing a charcoal skirt with dark hosiery, and black heels.  Her purse was beside her on the seat.  Lil had a white blouse under a lady’s suit jacket; the top two buttons of the shirt were open.  She looked good.  Not that I cared.  Much.

            “Thanks.” I grunted.

            “It’s been, what, six months and that’s all you have to say?” She smiled, though her words weren’t friendly.  “I just saved your life.  You owe me.”

            She giggled at this.  I just groaned to myself quietly.

            “Poor baby.  You’re hurt.”  Lil said softly.  “We’ll get you home and take a look.”

            The driver let us off at the front door of her building.  I looked up.

            “This isn’t where I live.”

            “No, silly, it’s my place.  No offence, but if people are trying to blow you up, it’s a good chance that they know where you live.”  She led me inside, and we took the elevator up.  I very carefully ignored her the whole way.  Not that I was ungrateful.  I was in pain.

            We entered her apartment.  Lil casually put her purse down on a table near the door, and started peeling off her jacket as she strode down the hallway towards what I assumed was her bedroom.  I stood idly by the door, feeling completely at sea.  She was acting like it was no big deal for me to be there.  I was bleeding from innumerable small cuts and scrapes I picked up jumping through the glass window, and had only just now become aware of.  My shoulder and my leg were screaming at me to do something, and this girl just starts undressing?

            She called out to me from her room, peeking past the doorframe.

            “Are you coming?  You need some antiseptic for those cuts.”

            Not knowing what else to do, I stumbled down the hall towards her room.  I got there in time to see her on the bed, taking off her shoes in one of those indescribably graceful, feminine movements.  Lil looked up at me as she wiggled free, and smiled.  She stood and headed towards the en suite bathroom, pulling off her shirt as she went.  I blushed and turned to stare at the wall in the hallway, trying to block out the glimpse of her bra that kept rising in my mind’s eye.  I didn’t want to be here, and I had to keep reminding myself of that fact.

            Once she was definitely in the bathroom, based on timing how long it should have taken her to walk there, I stepped into her room.  I stood awkwardly, tapping my legs with my hands, trying to figure out what to do next.   Lil came out of the bathroom a moment later, wearing a tight silky robe in a vaguely Japanese pattern, brushing her hair.  I gulped.

            “You’re so cute when you’re flustered.” She smiled and tried to caress my cheek.  I took an awkward step backwards.  “I don’t bite.”

            “I’m not supposed to be here.”

            “Is anyone else volunteering to help you?”  Lil stared at me for a moment.  I shrugged.  She turned and walked back to the bathroom, and then returned, sans brush, but carrying a bottle of antiseptic and some cotton swabs.

            She directed me to sit on the edge of the bed, while she dabbed at the cuts on my hands and face.  I flinched, but tried not to voice my discomfort.  More than a dozen times, anyway.

            “You’re such a baby!”  Lil teased, putting the bottle on the nightstand and the cotton in a garbage can in the bathroom.  She sat down on the bed behind me.  “So, are you going to tell me why you’re fleeing from exploding buildings in the middle of the night?”

            “Didn’t our ‘mutual friends’ tell you?” I said.

            “You don’t need to be snarky.  Just because we broke up doesn’t mean that we can’t be cordial.  Besides, I still think you’re cute, and I know you still have feelings for me.”

            I tried to snort with derision.  I’d never tried that before, so it didn’t go well.

            “Get over yourself!” She giggled, tossing a pillow at my back.  This caused me to turn around and look at her, trying not to laugh.  I did my best to look stern and unimpressed.  She gave me a sultry look, her eyes half-lidded, and her lips pressing together as if trying to say “you really, really want to kiss us.”  I tried to ignore that, but then I was staring at her bare legs, gliding together, barely covered at all by the robe.  I blushed and stared at the bed sheets.

            “You know, Ethan, I could be of great help to you.  All you have to do is ask.”  She smiled winningly.  I could tell from her voice, but I also kept stealing glances.

            “I don’t want your help.” I insisted.  She threw another pillow at my head and left the room.  I groaned and followed.

            She was standing out on the balcony, with the doors open.  Lil had a wonderful view of the city.  Wind pulled at her long hair, it was getting chillier.  I stood just outside the door.

            “It’s not that I don’t appreciate the attempt.  But I can’t really involve anyone in this.  It’s dangerous, and I’m not going to let anyone else try to shoulder the responsibility.”

            “Why should anyone shoulder it?  The noble hero bit is getting tired.  Who said you have to be honourable, all the fucking time?” Lil snapped, staring into the night.

            “It’s what I choose.  It’s who I am.  Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you, but I wouldn’t be me any other way.”

            “Is that your final word?” She looked over her shoulder at me.

            “I’m afraid so.”

            “Okay.” She sighed.  Then, she looked past me, towards the kitchen area.  “Kill him.”

            I turned and saw a familiar face.  My burnt demon from the factory stood in the doorframe, holding a very imposing sword.  One eye was completely shut by a scar, but the other looked undamaged.  I had apparently missed.  He blinked, and I saw the faint outline of the knife cut across the lid.  Apparently, it was a near miss.

            He rushed me quickly, before I could draw a gun.  I had to move fast to dodge his sword slashes.  He splintered a chair to pieces, and then decapitated a houseplant.  Despite the size of his sword, he was fast.  I kept moving around the room as he came at me, trying to buy time to get at my own blade, hidden under my coat thus far.  To that end, I rolled over the dining room table, and in his zeal he sent his sword right through the thick wood.  In the momentary chaos of splintered lumber and his lack of balance, I wiggled out of my coat and threw it at his head while drawing my short sword.

            His was bigger, and he had a longer reach.  I was also hobbled by a bad knee, and the fact that my right arm wasn’t working properly meant I was probably in real trouble.  I was up against the dining room wall and had nowhere to go but right through him.

            I ducked his next big swing, rolling at his legs.  I spilled us both to the ground and scrambled away from him, throwing a vase at his head.  He roared as he got to his feet, and I tossed a chair in his direction.  He sliced at me with his blade, and I barely deflected it with a firm two-handed grip on my sword.  I fell off-balance, because of my leg, and he used the momentary distraction to deliver a hearty kick to my chest.  I went through the glass doors of the balcony, thudding against the metal railing.  I hadn’t noticed Lil exit, but she was gone by now.

            I lay my head back against the balcony, and saw my assailant come at me.  I groaned, clenching my jaw, and tried to get up awkwardly.  He came at me fast, holding his sword kind of like a lance, pointed directly at me for his charge.  There was no time to get out of the way.

            So I swiftly drew my pistol and tossed it under his foot.  He slipped, tumbling forward.  I slashed upwards with my sword, removing his hands as I lay on my back to get away from his blade, and then I kicked upwards with my legs.  He went up and over the balcony railing, yelling all the way down.  I didn’t think the impact would remove his head, or kill him, but he wasn’t going anywhere for a while.  I imagined the majority of his bones were jelly now.  And if his body died only for the demon itself to escape, I was too tired to care.

            I picked myself up out of the shattered glass and staggered back into the apartment.  I brushed bits of glass off myself, feeling very glad that was over with.

            “You dumb bastard,” Lil said angrily.  I turned and saw her standing by the door to the apartment, pointing a gun at me.  I blinked.  I wasn’t surprised, not after this little ambush.  I just hadn’t expected her to be willing to do her own dirty work.

            “What was all this?” I asked. “Flirting with me.  You could have killed me at any time.  Did you watch too much Goldfinger?  You should have listened to Scott Evil and just shot me when you had the chance.”

            “It was my job to tempt you, turn you from your path.  We tried everything to break you:  set fire to your church, made your friend a drug dealer, killed your uncle. When all that failed, they were supposed to kill you.  But you’re too fucking stubborn to change your mind, and apparently clever enough to survive.  So far.”

            I threw my sword at her, not caring about aiming properly.  I rolled on the ground, coming to a kneeling position with my pistol in my hands.  My sword slapped her in the face with the hilt, preventing her from firing.  I shot her in the heart.  It was fast, it was reflexive, and I forgot entirely about trying to take her head off.  I just wanted to be done.

            She stumbled back, hitting the door, and then falling to the ground.  I could actually see the demon spirit escaping her body through her mouth and nose as her human host died, a black smoky shape that had hazy, diaphanous wings and a tail.  It dissipated rapidly, but I knew what I had seen.  A slight whiff of brimstone was in the air, and then it was gone.

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