Year of the Scorpion
by Luna

Chapter Six : Bittersweet
I sought my image
in the scorching glass,
for what fire could damage
a witch's face?

So I stared in that furnace
where beauties char
but found radiant Venus
reflected there.
-Sylvia Plath, "On Looking into the Eyes of a Demon Lover"

Fanha stared out of her window, etched with frost. It had been very lonely since Sheex left. She'd been very lonely. She traced the swirls of the frost sadly with her finger as she thought about him.

Just then, someone knocked on her door. "Who is it?" she asked tiredly. She'd had quite enough of surprise visitors.

"It's me, Fanha," Sheex said, his voice muffled by the door. "I'm back."

"Come in." He entered the room. "What a trip," he muttered.

"Did you have fun?" she asked, an edge in her voice. The idea of him traveling alone with that pretty thief hadn't exactly thrilled her.

"Of course not!" Sheex snapped. "What a question!" Then his voice softened, almost to a whisper. "How could I have anything resembling fun without you around?"

"Sorry," Fanha said. "I was just a little...jealous, I guess..."

"Of what?"

"You....traveling....with that woman..." Her voice was barely audible.

Sheex frowned darkly. "Don't you trust me?"

"Of course." But there was still a trace of bitterness in her voice, of hurt and insecurity.

"Then why are you jealous?"

"I-" Fanha let out a frustrated breath. Looking at him, she knew he was being truthful about not being interested in that woman. She felt slightly better. "I'm sorry. That was stupid of me. Completely irrational. I know nothing could ever happen between you and her. Of course I trust you." "It's okay," he said softly. "I understand." Walking over, he slipped his arms around her. "Just remember that I love only you." He stroked her hair and sighed. "So very much," he murmured. "I missed you while I was away. Very much."

"I won't forget," she whispered, her voice choked with the tears in her eyes. She took a deep breath. "Sheex, I-"

"You what?"

"Love you too," Fanha murmured. They kissed.

Then, suddenly, the door swung open and Geshtar swaggered in, drunk. "Heyyyy...what are you doing? Aren't you afraid of getting in trouble again?" he leered.

Sheex glared at him. Then, without warning, he transformed into his true form, the Aegagropilon, and started after Geshtar. Screaming, the warrior ran from the room, Sheex chasing after him. They ran through the halls at top speed.

Walking through the palace, Thanatos heard loud screams coming closer and closer. He looked down the hall to see Geshtar racing down the hall, a look of pure terror on his face. Sheex was behind him in his true form, rapidly gaining on him.

The green-haired warrior either didn't see Thanatos, or didn't care, because he crashed right into him, knocking them both down. A moment later, the huge shadow of the Aegagropilon loomed over both. Geshtar screamed and whimpered. He'd been drunk before, but now he was scared sober.

Thanatos angrily pushed him off and stood up, obviously too furious to be intimidated by the huge demon before him. "What in hell do you think you're doing?!" he growled. "Running through the halls like children! Go back to your rooms now! I don't ever want to see this kind of childish display again." Dusting himself off, he strode away back down the hall. "The things I have to put up with...." he muttered.

Sheex loomed over the shaking, whimpering Geshtar another moment, then stamped off. Only when he was sure the demon was gone did Geshtar get up and head back towards his own room. He limped all the way, having hit his knee hard when Thanatos pushed him off. He'd learned an important lesson, today, one he'd never forget : never, ever, harass a woman who had an Aegagropilon for a lover. They were way too protective...not to mention hot-tempered....

When Sheex returned, Fanha was still standing there, an amused look on her face. "Satisfied?" she asked wryly. He smiled and closed the door behind him. "Not yet." Coming over, he kissed her again. This time there was no one to interrupt.

When they pulled apart, Fanha smiled up at him. "Why don't we...see to that then?"

"No objections there." He gave her a small kiss. "Do you-?"

"I've got some." Her smile widened. "Strawberry." Grinning, they locked the door and began their reunion for real.

Across town, in the Scorpio mansion, Kirine and Slade sat in total silence. Neither had said a single word since they'd been reunited. They didn't know what to say.

Finally Slade broke the silence. "How was your trip?" he asked, his tone a bit cold. He wasn't exactly overjoyed that she'd been traipsing around with a good-looking demon, all alone, for two days.

"What do you think?" she snapped bitterly.

"I don't know what to think," he said icily.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Then her eyes narrowed as she got it. "Ohhh, I see. You think I went off and had a torrid affair with my traveling companion. Well, it's certainly nice to know your opinion of me has sunk even lower than it already did before!"

"What do you mean by that? Sunk lower?"

"Figure it out!" she snapped.

"I'm not in the mood to play any stupid games!" he retorted. "Just spit it out already!"

"You think I'm to blame for what happened to your parents."

Slade frowned. "Wherever did you get such a ridiculous idea?"

"It was my brother that killed them." Her voice had lowered, and she was staring at the floor.

"But you had nothing to do with it," Slade said slowly. Was this why she was in such a bad mood?

"Still, I can't help but feel..." Kirine sighed. "It's okay if you don't love me anymore.... Well, it's not hurts....but I understand if you don't feel that way anymore. I know it must be hard to look at me and see the person who killed your parents," she continued, referring to her resemblance to her brother. "I know it must be hard to see my face and be reminded of that. Knowing what we now know, I can't imagine you still thinking of me the same way. Loving me the same way...." Her voice trailed off.

"Kirine, that's pure idiocy." Kirine looked at him, a shocked expression on her face. He continued, "When I look at you, all I see is the wonderful, beautiful woman I love. Will always love, no matter what. No matter what some evil fiend forced her helpless brother into doing."

Kirine blinked back tears. "You really mean that?" she whispered. He nodded. "Of course I mean it," he replied. "I'll always mean it." He took her in his arms and kissed her. "What do you say we go make up?" Kirine smiled. "Not yet," she murmured. "I have an idea...."

Kirine wiped some chocolate from the corner of Slade's mouth as he lay sleeping, slivers of moonlight shining on his face. She smothered a giggle. If he knew where she'd gotten the idea....

Her smile widened as she thought about it. While that night's events had proved the old rumor about demons correct, tonight had proved that humans didn't necessarily fall short.

Snuggling up closer to him, Kirine sighed dreamily. No, they sure didn't....

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