The cat looked up at Angel and smiled. “ANG!” she exclaimed in a voice very familiar to the teen.
As the cat jumped up toward her, Angel looked at her with wide eyes. “…Justine?” she asked, only making the feline’s smile bigger. The dog pushed the cat from her and took a good look at her as Justine smiled as she hung in the demon’s hands.
“About time you followed Ronald’s plan! I’ve been trying to tell you forever!” she exclaimed, leaping out of the grip, landing on the easel and walking on it with a balance only a cat can have.
“What happened?” the dog demon asked. “Why didn’t you change back? Why didn’t you talk? Where’ve you been?”
“Well,” Justine started, leaping from the easel to the desk, sitting with her tail twisted around her three paws as she used her fourth paw to talk from her habit of talking with her hands. “After our last meeting in the forest, my dad busted me and didn’t let me out of his sight! After a few weeks of that, the Viscount Druitt showed up from nowhere, knocked me out, and tied me in his basement for, I don’t even know how long! When I was finally found by your dad, he turned me into a cat and gave me to the triplets who gave me to you. As for why I couldn’t talk or change back; when your dad turned me into a cat, he blocked off my demonic power to change form willingly. I can’t change back until he changes me back. By the way, your dad owes me a pair of reaper glasses!”
It wasn’t until then when a thought occurred to her and she lay on the desk, hiding her kitten face in her little paws. “How bad is my dad?” she asked. “If your dad found me, then I can only guess you saw my dad. How far off the deep end has he gone?”
Angel bit her lip and averted her eyes. “From what I saw of him…Pretty far…”
Hearing this, Justine folded her pointed ears and whimpered. “I’m so dead when I get home.” With a sigh, she removed her paws from her eyes and placed them over her head as she looked up at her friend. “…How long does this illusion work?” she asked.
The demon thought for a moment before she answered, “I’ve never tried an illusion like this before, but the longest illusion I’ve kept going lasted about a day, give or take a few hours.”
To this, the cat leapt off the desk and started out the door. “Come on!” she called. “You gotta help me find my dad!”
“Hold up!” Angel stopped her friend, shutting the door just before the cat could leave, effectively having her face plant the door. “If it really was my dad who did this, then he’s going to be alarmed when he finds you running around the manner without me holding you, even more so if you talk in front of him.” As Justine rubbed her nose with her paw, she looked up at the teen. “Also, it would prove that he lied to me, and I want him to tell me the truth. If the illusion wears off then I can just renew it. We can always find your dad, and I’m sure he’d get back to normal as soon as he sees you. But I want to hear my dad be honest with me for once in my life. Once I leave, I miss my chance.”
The small cat sighed and averted her eyes. “…Fine, but how are you going to get the truth out of him?” she asked, reentering the room past the teen and sitting on the floor with Angel between Justine and the door. “He’s a spider!”
Justine had her there. Angel thought for a moment before a smirk spread across her face. “I think I have an idea…” the cat perked at this and tilted her furry head at her. “I need you to-”
“To do what?” came a deep, rough voice from behind the teen.
Angel turned around in alarm and smacked Justine’s mouth shut with her foot before she could say a word. “Hi daddy~” the dog demon giggled.
Claude raised a long, black brow. “You only call me that anymore if you want something.” he stated, crossing his arms and looking down at her with an intimidating golden gaze.
“Want something?” Angel asked, sliding Justine behind her with her foot. The cat knew better than to talk, so she stayed silent behind the teen’s black tail coat. “What makes you think I want something?” When the spider demon started tapping his foot in agitation, the pup sighed. “You caught me.” she uttered with a slump of her shoulders. “I just want to know if you were being honest when you said you never found Justine at Druitt’s manner.”
Claude adjusted his glasses again and sighed tiredly. “I already told you, all I found in the servant quarters of that manner, where I was instructed to search, were these.” He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a pair of thin, square, purple glasses before returning them to the pocket he pulled them from. “If Ms. Michaelis was on the property, she is now either at another location or reunited with her father. I have done nothing short of what I would expect from Sebastian Michaelis if the situations were reversed.” With that, he turned to take his leave.
Seconds after the door shut, Justine walked out from behind her friend and leapt up on the bed, looking up in her golden brown eyes with a straight face. “You were saying?”
. . .
As Claude continued with his chores, he didn’t take notice to the shadows that followed him along with the faint sound of purrs. Green eyes glowed in the shadows as the slit pupils followed his every move. “…Claude…” a faint voice whispered in the wind. The butler stopped for only a moment before he shook his head and continued his work.
“…Claude…” the voice repeated just a hair louder, causing him to stop and look around in the darkness of the room. “…You had your chance…” another whisper whisked in the wind and echoed through the halls as the shadow leapt to a lower shelf for a better look.
The demon butler looked around again, now suspicious of what was happening as he dropped what he was doing to search for the source of the voice. “Who’s there?” he asked sternly.
His answer was in purrs. “…You know who…” the voice whispered as the deep purrs gradually grew louder.
The spider uneasily continued his chores, trying to ignore the voices and sounds until the voice purred a specific sentence that made his skin crawl. “How can you lie to your own daughter like that?” the voice asked, emphasizing the word ‘daughter’.
“I never lied to her!” Claude threw his arms down, smashing the gold-rimmed white plates in his hands on the hard wooden floor as he shouted to seemingly nothing other than the shadows and wind.
“You never gave her the full truth either.”
The golden eyes of the man in black widened in slight fear. “Why would you care?” he asked, kneeling down to clean the shards of a plate on the floor, but not letting his eyes leave the shadows. “Who are you?”
“You know well who I am.” the voice repeated as a small form landed just behind him and flicked her tail back and forth with a smirk on her red and black kitten face. “I’m the girl you denied from Sebastian Michaelis. I’m the girl you lied to your daughter about. I’m the girl…that’s right behind you.”
The spider demon hesitantly turned around and saw the small cat with the demonic evil glow in her green eyes. “…Boo.”
Seeing the cat’s mouth move and a word to escape the black lips, the butler jumped before he stood with furrowed brows and seized the cat by the scruff of her neck. “I don’t know how you were able to speak English, but you’re not telling Angel anything!”
Justine crossed her front legs as if they were arms and smirked. “I already told her!” she exclaimed, causing Claude to raise his brows and widen his eyes. “I told her about you finding me in Druitt’s basement, turning me into a cat, wanting me to be locked up…Everything!”
Claude fumed in anger and rushed outside as the cat swung in his gloved hand. He took the cat far in the garden until he reached the triplet’s shed on the far edge of the property. It was small, cramped, and filled to the brim with big, sharp gardening tools. Worst of all, the shed had nothing relatively close to a window, only a peephole high on the wall and the shuffled dirt under the door. The butler creaked open the door and threw Justine inside before shutting it once again and clicking the lock, dropping the key in his pocket.
The small feline scratched on the old wooden door in a panic, screeching, meowing, crying for help, as Claude simply took his leave. “Sugar into Salt, Voices into Silence, Justine Michaelis into Helpless Feline. That’s what makes a Trancy butler.”
Two seconds after the spider demon opened the door to return inside through the kitchen, he was greeted by a not so happy teenager who saw his whole walk through the garden from the second-floor window of her room. “…Dad…” she stated sternly, crossing her own arms and glaring up at the man. When Claude was silent and looked at her blankly, she continued. “Is there something you want to say?”
After a second’s thought, Claude shook his head. “Nothing.” he answered.
Angel only furrowed her brows more and hardened her glare. “I’ve given you two chances just today to tell me the truth, and you keep on shoving me more lies!” she exploded. With that, she pushed past him and ran out into the woods.
“Where are you going?” he asked in a worried, tired sigh that Claude has mastered all too well as single a parent of a teenage girl.
“I’m going to do the genuinely right thing, and find Sebastian!” she answered. “He has a right to know where his daughter is.” As she stormed off in the shadows of the trees, she started to call back at Claude without turning around to face him, “I should’ve listened to Justine when she said that you were hopeless! You’ll NEVER change! Once a deceitful spider, always a deceitful spider.”
The spider demon saddened his expression at her words as he watched her disappear in the greenery of the woods. He might’ve won the battle to keep the Michaelis girl there with locking her on the Trancy property, but lost the war of his relationship with his daughter by Angel’s few words; he became nothing more than a squashed spider.