Sebastian chose to sit on the wooden bench in the small cabin as he held Justine tight his arms. Even if he wanted to let Finnie give her a hug (which he didn’t), Justine made that difficult with her claws digging in his grey overcoat. After a while of them just cuddling together, Angel cleared her throat for their attention and that’s when the cat noticed Finnie. Pushing Sebastian’s arms open, she leapt out and in her boyfriend’s gloved hands. While the gardener carefully held Justine and they rubbed noses together as a substitute kiss, the butler smiled at the dog demon. “I obviously misjudged you.” he admitted. “I expected you to be just like your father.”
Angel sighed and crossed her arms. “My dad and I share a lot. A master, a job, a title, authority, even similar powers, but just like him…I’m nowhere close.” After watching Finnie hug Justine carefully but tightly, Angel saddened. “Unfortunately, my dad and I don’t have exactly the same powers, so the best I could do was give Justine her voice. I can’t turn her back.”
Sebastian nodded understandingly with a sad sigh. “Only Claude can return her to normal.”
It was then when Angel had an idea pop in her mind. “…We need to go back.” she stated. “Not Finnie, he’s only a human and would just slow us down, but you, Justine and I need to go back.”
The butler looked down at her distrustfully. “Finnian has supernatural, mutant strength which only equals my own.” he stated. “He is also Justine’s…boyfriend.” He spat the last word like a bad taste in his mouth. I guess my dad’s not the only parent who hates boyfriends. Angel thought in wonder before the butler continued. “He must come with us.”
Angel huffed before she pouted her lip in thought. “Okay, so what do we have on our side? We have my tracking skills and illusions, your strength, speed, and perfection, Finnie’s mutant strength, and Justine’s…brain.” Though the cat shot her a glare, she couldn’t argue that she was next to useless.
“The triplets also seem to be on our side.” Sebastian brought up.
The dog demon bit her lip and shifted her weight from one foot to the other while crossing her arms over her buttoned coat. “Well, because they openly helped us, my dad is sure to punish them somehow, at least Timber and Thompson. I’m not sure about Canterbury…”
She thought some more, wracking her brain on how else she could help. “I also know my dad like the back of my hand. I know all his weaknesses, strengths, you name it!” As she revealed this, she removed her left, white glove showing the golden pentagram that matched Claude’s perfectly. “My dad is literally on the back of my hand.”
The butler smiled devilishly at this. “So, you know every detail of him?” he asked. Angel nodded as the man scratched his chin. “We might get through this…” With a smile, he told her the plan he had in mind.
. . .
The four made their way back to the Trancy garden, the manner only yards away. Finnie followed the two demons fearfully as Justine hid under his hat, her head peeking over his shoulder occasionally. “Remember Finnian,” Sebastian turned. “Your job is only to protect Justine. Angel and I will handle Claude.” The gardener nodded with a salute.
“I know all his fighting moves; they’re not that different from the moves he uses to finish chores around the manner.” Angel stated, moving the branches that blocked their path and revealed the large, fertile garden. “I’ll let you know what he’s going to do.”
Even though Sebastian believed he could hold his own against Claude, he smiled at the offer as they crossed the line the amulet left.
They walked across the gardens, eyes peeled for the spider. “Looking for something, Michaelis?” Claude laughed from behind them as he leapt from the high rooftop, landing in the grass with ease, and stood before them with a grin that was illuminated by the golden late morning sun. “You seem rather lost.”
“I don’t want trouble.” Sebastian claimed. “Just return my daughter to her human form, and no harm will come to you or your master.”
The Trancy butler’s grin only widened. “No harm will come to me?” he asked with another victorious laugh. “Nothing you have can harm me anyway, Sebastian Michaelis.”
Angel stepped up with her puppy pout. “Dad, last chance.” she begged with widening, shining golden brown eyes. “Please do the right thing and not the easy cop out. Do it for me.”
Claude’s smile was whipped clean from his face as he furrowed his brows in confusion and loss. Angel, you sway my decisions more than anything in this world. he sighed in his thoughts. …Just not enough to overwrite my orders.
When he drew his hand back, Angel crashed and tumbled into Sebastian, both narrowly missing the spider web that shot from Claude’s hand. “Stupid spider webs.” she huffed under her breath. “I hate it when he does that.”
Claude looked dumbfounded as he watched Angel help Sebastian back to his feet. I still don’t understand. he conversed with himself. Why help him and not your own father? How is friendship worth more than family? How could it be so important to anyone that you’d risk your life for a stranger that was never honest with you? He then sighed. If I don’t understand that, then why should I expect her to fight with me when I’ve lied to her through her whole life? I couldn’t even build the courage to tell her what her mother was.
Once he was over his shock, he growled and leapt in the air. The teen looked up skeptically as he crossed his arms. A golden glint brought her attention to his fingers. “He’s going to throw his knives!” she warned quickly.
The Phantomhive butler smiled and reached for his own plethora of limitless silver knives. “This, I can fight on my own!” he claimed as he flew in the light blue sky, bare of clouds and the knives of silver and gold rained through the air and landed in the grass of the gardens.
While the butlers fought in midair, the sound of gunfire alerted the teen to Finnie. When she looked, she saw Hannah with her machine gun, firing at Finnie and the cat on his back at fifty bullets a second. Angel bolted to the human’s side and instinctively grabbed the gardener and spread wings before swiftly zooming from the green earth to the baby blue and yellow gold sky.
Angel flew through the air, not even noticing the new altitude, and let go of Finnie when she reached a field not far, but far enough to be safe from the fight. “Stay there until the fight’s over!” she shouted as her arms let him lose.
When he screamed and Justine cried a loud meow from the small drop, she took notice to the extensions on her back. Seeing the large, white wings flapping mindlessly to keep her in the air, she could only stare at them in curiosity. “…That’s new…” she whispered to herself in awe. “Have those always been there?”
“Uh, Angel,” Finnie called, recapturing her attention. “What about Sebastian?”
“Oh, yeah!” she perked up at the reminder. “There’s a fight going on, isn’t there?” she giggled to herself at her forgetfulness and zipped back to the Trancy gardens with such speed and agility, one would think she’d been flying her whole life instead of just learning of the wings’ existence that day.
When she returned to the garden, she saw Sebastian get thrown down to the ground and a web come straight for him. Out of instinct, Angel zoomed right in the way of the web and was thrown up and over to crack the hard stone ground at her impact before Claude even knew what he’d done. “Angel!” he cried in worry. He ran over to his daughter but froze when he saw the wings.
He hadn’t seen wings like those since before he was even a father and he was just another demon that was out searching for another victim to sign a contract with when he met her mother centuries ago. Thoughts and memories flooded back from the sight of Angel and her wings, so weak and broken down; it reminded him of her mother’s master, how he’d beat her day in and day out with the black, leather whip, much like how he just had with his silver web. He remembered the day she told him she loved him; even more so, he remembered his thoughts when he found out that he was going to be a father. The fear. The excitement. The worry. He remembered it all in a large, sudden wave. He didn’t have much trust in his parenting abilities, especially not back then.
Because she was forbidden from bearing children, that being part of her Fallen from Grace punishment, they kept her pregnancy a secret from all demons, reapers, angels, whoever could potentially hurt them or the unborn child. After she gave birth, she begged Claude to take the baby, claiming that she couldn’t take any part in raising her; he was completely on his own.
His new daughter looked much like himself and little of her own mother, so it was easy to convince others that she was his biological daughter without anyone pointing fingers at her true mother as long as he kept his mouth shut. No one else knew about his love for anyone else, and he can take the harassment until everyone who asked would just get tired of trying and give up. Seconds after the baby was placed in his arms, the mother was gone with only one request, “Keep me a secret from her, she doesn’t need to know, and she won’t understand.”
He figured that, since he was in this position anyway with no time to decide if it was a curse or a blessing, he’d figure out how to be a father as time passed. It wasn’t until the centuries passed when he found that he knew less about how to be a father as his daughter grew into a young woman than he did when his daughter was just a newborn baby in a bundle of blankets in his arms.
Though he didn’t want to, he kept his final promise with the exception of her name. Looking down at the little, giggling bundle, he couldn’t help the smile on his lips. “You’re the last part of your mother’s bright light left in my world of fiery darkness. You are my little puppy, my baby Angel.”
Claude was snapped back to reality when the form of the teenage Angel staggered to her feet. She got in a fighting position, but the butler refused to fight as he slid back, shaking his head with concern laced brows. He backed away from her with bent, spread legs to weakly stabilize him. “This is getting us nowhere.” he announced with a deep huff as his chest continued to grow in and out of his white shirt deeply. “We can’t continue fighting like this.”
Angel looked at him skeptically as she straightened her stance. “…You don’t want a physical fight anymore?” she asked as her father shook his head desperately. To that, Angel crossed her arms. “Then give us what we came for! Turn Justine back, or we keep on fighting! There’s no in between.”
“You know I can’t.” he replied, stabilizing himself on a wall before regaining the strength and composure to stand straight.
After some thought, the teen smirked. “Fine. Instead, let’s have a contest. Just you and me.” As she moved forward, she continued her thought, subconsciously folding her wings. “Whichever one of us can dance the longest wins. If I win, you turn Justine back into a human, and you don’t make any attempt to kidnap (or catnap) her again.”
Claude smiled. “If I win, then I get Justine, keep her as a cat here in the Trancy manner, you and no one from the Phantomhive manner, nor the reapers can take her back. She is completely mine.”
Angel looked back at Sebastian, who obviously didn’t like the odds as he gazed at her with worried wide eyes and sunk in his broad shoulders with his black nails in his teeth. The teen returned her golden brown eyes to the spider demon who only smiled at her.
It was obvious he had some evil plan up his sleeve. Just when it couldn’t get any worse, Claude added, “Also, if you win, I’ll answer all your questions about your mother, all with straight, honest, clear answers. No vague riddles, no tricks, no secrets.”
This caught Angel off guard. That was the last thing she ever expected. She’s spent over a thousand years wondering about her mother. Vague answers were enough when she was little, but she had more questions that Claude deliberately refused to answer. “One more thing.” Claude added. “If you refuse, I win by default.”
I guess it’s too late to back out then. she thought. With a deep breath, she asked with a blank gaze pointed to the spider, “When do we start?”