As the months flew by, Justine and Angel became close friends, though they never talked about each other’s families before. They built a secret clubhouse cabin (more like a wooden room with a log bench and fire pit) in the middle of the forest at the end of a path of hidden skulls and various bones; only the girls could recognize the path and follow it; no demon, reaper, or even angel could follow them without an invitation. They didn’t think that angels would care about them enough to follow them, but better safe than sorry, right?
One December day, Angel and Justine were decorating the cabin for Christmas with whatever they could spare from their homes or find from the forest. As they loaded the large Christmas tree with colored pine cones and a golden string of lights, Justine decided to break the ice a little. “You remember when we met; you said you’ve seen me and my uncles before at the training facility?”
“Yeah,” Angel commented, wrapping a wire around a pine cone so she could hook it on a branch. “I remember. Why?”
“Why were you at the facility in the first place?”
The demon paused in thought, wondering how to answer. After a minute of deep thought, she bit her lip. “…Okay…This is just between the two of us, right?”
The reaper nodded, using her long red nails to mark an ‘X’ over her heart. “Cross my heart, hope to die,”
“Stick a paw in my eye.” both girls finished the promise, covering one eye with one of their hands that was shaped like a paw.
Angel took in a deep breath, a light blush on her cheeks before she finished her answer. “You most likely know more about this guy than I do, hell, I don’t even know his name, but about three years ago, I saw him. He was out at my house by my dad’s master’s father. When he finished whatever he was doing, he looked right at me with the lime green eyes all reapers have. Call me a crazy stalker that believes in that love-at-first-sight bull, but we made a connection when he looked at me like that. After that, he ran and I followed him back to the facility disguised as a dog. I’ve been visiting the facility ever since, trying to know more about him. I saw you and your uncles come out, along with some reaper with red hair you call ‘mom’ all the time…is that really a…?”
“Yes, my mom’s a man.” The reaper teen huffed out, bored with the constantly repeated question. “I’m the only girl in the reaper facility…maybe even in all of limbo.” With that, she sighed. “I wouldn’t know cause I never really saw much of limbo aside from the facility.” Seeing Angel get quiet, Justine cleared her throat. “Off topic. Sorry.” she apologized. “The reaper that came out to your house, what does he look like?” she asked. “Maybe I know him.”
Instantly, the demon melted a little from the thought of the reaper in question. “He had the green eyes that all reapers have, big black glasses, black gloves, and short blond hair with a cowlick and a black hairline in the bottom half of his hair…Now that I think about it, he really liked black…”
“All the reapers wear black.” Justine answered quickly as she matched faces with names in her head. Not long after she started, she grinned mischievously “You’re talking about Ronald Knox.” she stated with a wide smile on her lips. “He sometimes subs for my class when my uncle and mom have to do overtime.”
“So, since we’re talking about each other’s personal lives (finally), you never exactly told me if you have a boyfriend. You now know I like Ronald, what about you?” Angel stated, quickly switching the spotlight.
Justine sighed dreamily as she thought of her boyfriend. “My boyfriend is a guy that works with my dad. He’s cute, funny, sweet, mega ultra-strong for a human, and just fun to be around.”
“What’s his name?” Angel asked.
The reaper blushed a little before giggling, “Finnie.” The other teen smiled softly. “He’s nowhere near perfect, I mean, he’s a gardener that is too strong to care for even daisies properly, but…he can’t be more perfect for me.” After shaking herself out of her dreamy state, the reaper looked back at the demon, now both sitting on the wooden bench in the cabin. “I have to go back to the reaper classes next week. Do you want to meet Ronald face to face, or not?”
. . .
The whole week, Angel made excuses to not go, whether it’d be that she was swamped with chores, or that her father was in a bad mood, making it dangerous to ask if she could leave, until that Friday afternoon when she finally came out of her home and in limbo.
Justine walked out of the training facility, double checking to be sure she had everything in her bag before looking around for her father just like every other Friday. Oddly, instead of finding the tall parent in black, her eyes drifted over to a bush nearby. She made her way to the bush cautiously furrowing her brows before she slumped in irritation, seeing who it was. “Angel, you’ve been hiding back there for three years, and then you refused to come here all week to avoid Ronald! When are you going to get out from behind there? Do you even want to meet him?”
The girl in the bushes poked her head from the leaves with some twigs sticking out from her rat’s nest hair. “Um…of course I do…” she answered. “I just don’t know if he’ll want to talk to a demon like me…”
To this, Justine facepalmed before she smiled warmly at her, reaching her over the bush, lightly pulling her out. “Don’t be ridiculous! He’s going to love you!” The reaper looked back and smiled. “See? Here he comes now.”
“Meep!” Angel squeaked as she dived back in the bush against Justine’s attempt to keep her over the greenery.
Ronald looked up with a big smile plastered on his face, his big green eyes shining brightly to complement his smile perfectly. “Hey, Justine! If you see your mom, tell her to give me that paid vacation he promised soon!” he called, his lawnmower being dragged behind him as he used it as a mobile armrest.
With a smile, the teen reaper casually scooted over to hide the shaking bush. “Don’t worry Ronald; I’ll pass on the message.”
The blonde tried to see what she was hiding but shrugged. “Thanks.” he stated before walking off, pushing his scythe as he went.
Behind the reaper girl, Angel made a feeble attempt to leave before Justine snagged her coat and yanked her back. “Oh no you don’t.” she stated sternly.
Angel took back her coat and straightened it, clearly annoyed. “I’m a spineless jellyfish!” she exclaimed before drastically lowering the volume in her tone from shock at how loud she was. “I can’t do anything without being embarrassed, let alone talk to guys.”
“Come on! You’re a dog demon for crying out loud!” the reaper sighed. “Last I checked dogs almost always get what they want!”
“Well, yeah they do…but not this dog…” the demon gestured to herself. “…this dog is a coward.” she admitted. “I’ve always been a little timid around guys.”
“Well, that was before you had me as a friend!” the reaper stated happily before snagging her friend’s wrist and pulling her away. “Come on!”
Much to the dog’s dismay, Justine dragged her to an ice cream parlor where there was a single customer in the whole sweets bar. “Justine…what are we doing here…in December no less?” Angel asked, dripping in fear. “What do you have planned?” With a smirk, the teen reaper pointed to the lone customer. It was then when the dog demon noticed the business suit, blond and black hair, and cowlick as the man slurped his chocolate milkshake. Suddenly, Angel’s face went tomato red. “…You can’t be serious…!” she exclaimed before Justine pulled her to the bar.
With a smile, the reaper smacked the counter to gain the bar tender’s attention. “Two vanilla sundae’s with extra nuts! You mind, Fred?” she called.
“No prob Justine!” the tender stated as he handed the girls their ice cream.
Angel picked at the ice cream as she used her hair and hand to hide her face from the reaper as she sank her head in the popped up collar of her black coat. Even with her coat to cover the bottom half of her face and her hair to cover the top half, she still felt the need to pray to whoever it was that was in control of this situation, “don’tnoticeme!don’tnoticeme!don’tnoticeme!don’tnoticeme!…”
Hearing her friend so distressed, Justine looked up at the man with a large smile and stood to successfully gain his attention. “HEY! RONALD!” she called, waving at him as he looked up at her with a smile, standing with his milkshake as he made his way to the teens down the bar. “What a coincidence we bump into each other in a place like this!”
Watching this unfold with shock filled eyes, Angel banged her hand on the counter before snapping a glare at Justine with her golden brown eyes. “I’m gonna kill you.” she growled.
Ronald smiled as he sat with them, Angel sitting right in the middle. “Justine, you know I always come here after my shift. I thought you’d be with your dad by now. Where’s the Big Bad Black Crow?”
“He didn’t show up after class.” Justine answered nonchalantly. “I’ll go back to the facility to see if he’s there after a quick sundae. I’m sure he won’t mind.”
After a moment, the young man noticed the distressed demon sweating bullets. “Who’s your friend?”
Angel tried to speak, so Justine made introductions for her. “This,” she started, smacking her friend’s shoulder and pushing her toward the reaper man a little. “is Angel, she wanted to talk to you about something but was too shy at first. I just had to give her a little…” She removed her hand and used a full force push behind her, causing Angel to fall face first into Ronald’s chest. The impact forced blushes on both Ronald’s and Angel’s faces (well, Angel more than Ronald). “nudge.”
Seeing how close they were to each other, Ronald tried to hide his light pink blush as Angel scrambled back and sat tense and straight. “H-hi Angel.” he greeted before taking a good look at her. “You look…I don’t know…familiar… Have we met?”
“U-uhh… N-nope never met.” Angel answered quickly with a nervous chuckle as she shrank in her coat.
The reaper wasn’t convinced. “…No…I know you from somewhere…” he stated in determination, thinking very hard on the subject. Whether that determination was for figuring out where he’d seen her before or for distracting himself to rid himself from his blush, the girls were unsure.
Knowing that there was no more she could do, Justine left with her ice cream, whispering with a smirk, “Good luck.” Angel tried to stop her from leaving, but it proved to be hopeless; all that was left of her friend was some money to pay for the ice cream that floated down to the counter.
As Angel picked at her ice cream a little more, Ronald smiled widely in eureka. “I DO know you!”
“F-from w-where…?” the demon snapped, bypassing bullets and now sweating boulders.
“You’re the girl who’s been trying to find her dog in those bushes by the facility for the past three years!” he concluded.
Angel tried not to laugh at the ridiculous notion as she finally relaxed her muscles and took her first bite from her frozen treat. “N-not exactly…” she giggled.
The reaper looked at her confused, scratching his chin in thought. “Really? But, you’re always rustling around in there, muttering to yourself stuff like, ‘Where is he?’”
The demon perked up upon hearing this, her blush now returned to her face and growing darker. “Y-you hear me say t-that..?” she stuttered.
Ronald’s blush grew deeper as he bit his lip. She probably thinks that I’ve been stalking her for three years. he concluded. Ever since I started seeing her in those bushes three years ago…boy was she always cute…Hold it! Keep your cool Ronald! One step at a time. “…Yes.” he answered. After some silence, he looked up at her and smiled. “If you want, I could help you look for your dog, what’s his name?”
Angel sunk in her shoulders, the embarrassment of the conversation hitting her, before mumbling, “…I wasn’t looking for a lost dog.” With Ronald arching a brow at her, Angel’s voice grew softer and shyer. “…I was looking for…y-you…”
Ronald’s blush grew from red to near purple at how ridiculous his assumption was now that he knew the truth. “…O-oh…” was all he could utter.
After some more silence, he noticed the containers of ice cream now only held colorful goo, so he called the tender. “Hey, Fred! Can you get me another milkshake? This time with an extra straw.” The new order was filled in mere seconds as he put the two straws in the ice cream and pointed the second straw to the red girl next to him. “I hope you like chocolate…” he smiled, already starting to sip at the creamy delight.
The demon bit her lip and shut her eyes tight in a failed attempt to keep her blush at bay before she felt something pop from the top of her head and extend out her spine. The reaper looked at the new extensions with wide eyes at first, before he smiled and released his child-like laughter. “I’ve always loved dogs!” he exclaimed, scratching behind Angel’s new, large, pointed ear of a German Shepard.
As the dog started to wag her fluffy brown and black tail, she didn’t notice the girl with growing black cat ears and long, black, thin cat tail peek through the window with glowing green eyes. Justine gave a cat smirk as she strolled off, completing her cat transformation as she leaped down the sidewalk with her small, strong feline legs. “My work here is done.” she purred to herself before leaping on fences and gliding through the night streets to rejoin her father, who was starting to worry and wonder where she was so late.
Back in the ice cream bar, Ronald cleared his throat embarrassingly. “Hey, Angel, you doing anything tonight?” he asked.
Angel looked up from the milkshake, now much more comfortable around the reaper. “No, why?”
The young man smiled as his blush started coming back and he scratched the back of his head. “I-I was wondering…if you wanted to, that is…if you would…go with me to the park. It’s really pretty after dark when all the stars come out, and the lights come on, it really is pretty…”
The teen girl blushed a little and smiled. “Sure.”
After they finished their ice cream, Ronald and Angel left to go to the park, hand in hand. Little did they know of the glowing pink eyes that watched them from the shadows.
“So, a dog demon, huh?” Ronald asked with a small chuckle after Angel explained not only who she was, but what she was. “I guess that explains why I thought you were looking for your dog in the bush.”
Angel nodded with a little blush. “Y-yeah.”
After walking around some more, the reaper turned back to his date, determined to rid the air of the awkward atmosphere. “So, if you’re a demon, what’s your special power?” Seeing the girl look away shyly, the young man groaned playfully with a little chuckle, poking her sides and earning a giggle. “C’mon. Don’t all demons have a special super power?”
“There you are!” came an all too familiar voice, causing the two to freeze and look around to search for the new voice. When the couple looked over, they saw a tall man dressed in a long black tail coat and small, silver square glasses that reflected his golden yellow eyes, framed by his shoulder length, black hair of soft waves and loose curls.
“DAD!” Angel squealed, pushing Ronald off of her and to the ground. “What are you doing here?”
“Who’s he?” Claude asked, jabbing a finger to point at the reaper.
Angel blushed in embarrassment. “Dad, this is Ronald, my…friend.”
The spider demon crossed his arms disbelieving. “You two looked more than just friendly from where I stood.”
Ronald stood there, confused as to what to do before he leaned over to the girl. “…That’s your dad?” he asked as she nodded. “And he’s a-a…demon too?”
“Yes, I am, Grim Reaper.” Claude answered for her through gritted teeth before grabbing her arm in a stone hard, arm suffocating grip, yanking her away. “We’re leaving.”
“But dad!” Angel protested, trying to fight the hand on her wrist until another hand held her other arm and torso.
When she looked over, she saw Ronald holding her and pulling against Claude. “Let go of her!”
“What are you doing?!” came another voice, causing Angel to freeze in place in shock.
The three looked over to see another tall man in a tailcoat, glasses, and yellow gold eyes. “…Dad?” she called.
To this, poor Ronald was beyond confused and jaw dropped. “W-wait a second…” he stated, trying to put the pieces together with what he figured out. “If that guy,” he pointed to the man currently approaching the couple, “is your dad,” he moved his gesture to the man hanging on Angel’s other arm, “then who’s that guy?!”
Angel sighed and flicked her wrist. Within seconds, the man at her arm disappeared in a cloud of gold and black dust. “…A dummy.” she answered as the real Claude Faustus came over and crossed his arms, tapping his foot like all parents do when expecting an explanation.
“Angel, who is this man?” Claude asked.
“Dad, this is Ronald.” she repeated introductions. “He’s just a friend.”
Poor Ronald was still trying to piece the puzzle together and get over the shock. “…Wait, what exactly just happened?”
Angel shrugged. “In a way, I answered your question.” she stated. “I can give the illusion that something is happening, when in reality, it’s not. I also make dummies that think and act the same way as the real thing, but still aren’t the real thing, just like that dummy of my dad wanting to take me away.” She then turned to Claude. “…I’m guessing you want to take me home too?”
Claude looked down at his daughter for a moment with gradually softening eyes before looking up at Ronald and returning his gaze to Angel. “…A reaper?” he sighed as the dog nodded. He looked back up at the reaper and said sternly, “Bring her to the Trancy Estate at nine thirty, not a second later.”
Ronald smiled and stood straight. “I will sir.” he promised before the spider sighed and dismissed them.
As the couple walked away in the moonlight, arm in arm, Angel’s head on Ronald’s shoulder, Claude’s gaze softened as he dropped his arms to his sides, giving off a small smile. “…My little puppy…is growing up.”