Sunday, December 11, 2016

Conversations on Des' Demon

[Des and Ge previously appeared in Not Broken.]
[The breaks between scenes are massive.  The first scene is the morning after Ge was petrified, the next one is over a month later, the ones after that aren't separated by so much, but it's important to remember that this isn't all taking place at one time.  This is a series of (snippets of) conversations over an extended time frame.]

"You're lucky," Des said when she woke up.

Ge had been awake for a while, not sure what to do, but not overly concerned about it either.  The bed was comfortable, Des's warmth was nice, moving would have surely woken Des up, and going too far away from Des would have brought back that inexplicable coldness at her core.

But now Des was awake, and the fact they'd shared a bed might cause awkwardness.  Ge had never even been to a sleep over, so this was very new, and as for Des . . . impossible to say.

"I was revived after seven years of being a rock," Ge said, "I know I'm lucky."

"I meant about the demon," Des said.

The demon, Ge thought.

Red skin, six black eyes, arms that split at the elbow with one forearm keeping the thumb and two fingers while the other had a mere two fingers at the end.  Goat-like legs, with the ankle so far off the ground it became like a second knee, one that faced backward.  Clawed feet.  Sharp fingers too for that matter.  Hair so black light seemed to sucked into it.  But a familiar face, if one ignored the bat-nose and extra eyes.

"You're the demon, Des," Ge said.

"Yes and no.  I keep her locked away inside.  She only escapes when I lose myself to anger and my control slips away."

"Why?" Ge asked.  "Demon is what you are.  It's not like it's a secret."

"She isn't safe," Des said.  "She's beyond control, beyond limits.  The closest I've come to killing is when she escaped and took over, and I think the reason she didn't kill was because she thought death wasn't painful enough.

"That, and she usually doesn't distinguish between friend and foe."

"She protected me," Ge said.

"That's why I called you lucky," Des said.

* * *

"Her other friends are afraid of me," Des said, her voice different in her demonic form.  Somewhat disconcerting, almost echoed in a way that seemed like what would happen if a voice tried to harmonize with itself but ended up out of tune.  Feeling louder than your ears assured you it actually was.

But still Des's voice, through all the distortion.

"You and Des~in~human~form talk about each other in third person," Ge said.  "Are you--"

"We're not like Elias," Des said, "not really.  We're a single personality, but expressed in such different ways, and in such different states of mind, that it is useful to speak as if we were separate entities the way Elias's personalities are."

"If you're still the same personality, why should it make such a difference whether you're six foot four or five foot ten?" Ge asked. "It's only six inches."

"That's hardly the only difference," Des said.  "I live every moment, and live it with all of my feelings unleashed; I don't hold back, don't fight to maintain some kind of control, don't care what people think, don't limit myself by human standards of propriety, and don't give a single damn about whether I'm a hero or not."

"But you are a hero," Ge said.  "When you unleash all of that stuff and just do what you want, you fight the bad guys and protect the innocent.  Hero's not something you have to try to be Des, it's who you are."

"She doesn't think so," Des said.  "She stopped caring about publicity a some years ago, she stopped caring what the team thought at the same time, and yet she still fights for control every moment of every day to keep me locked up inside of her."

"But you are her," Ge said.

"Yes, but there's a reason that it is useful to speak as though were are different people."

* * *

"What makes you lose control?" Ge asked.  "What makes her come out?"

"Like many demons, my powers are tied to my emotions," Des said.  "I have to keep control of my emotions if I wish to keep control of my powers and myself."

"But you once said it was about anger," Ge said, "that's pretty specific on which emotion, if extremely vague on the process involved."

"It's usually anger when I lose control," Des said.  "Or outright rage.  Sometimes fear, though, which is pretty different.  I've never had her escape due to an overabundance of joy, but if I let myself get too high up, I risk a fall.  Pain and despair can do it too.  Thus even positive emotions represent a risk."

"But you have sex a lot," Ge said.  "I mean, like, all the time."

"Gee, thanks," Des said in monotone.

"I'm just saying that apparently ecstasy or whatever," Ge blushed somewhat, she didn't think that was fair, she'd never even had sex, why should she have to have emotional baggage and awkwardness surrounding it?  in her opinion her relationship to it should be abstract and perhaps a bit clinical, nothing that would bring emotions into the mix, certainly not onto her face.  Anyway, she'd left a sentence unfinished, and that had to be corrected: "doesn't make her come out."

"In spite of what the others may think," Des said, "I do make sure that I know enough about the women I enjoy myself with to know that no horrific fall will come of it."


"Nothing invasive," Des said.  "You'd be surprised how much you can learn about someone when you're one on one, you see auras, and you feel the emotions of others."

After a pause, Des added, "Emotions about intentions make a huge difference.  Someone who wants to use me feels different than someone who wants to have a mutually beneficial night, which in turn feels different than someone who wants to kick start a lasting relationship."

And now Ge was blushing even worse.

"Ok, so that's all nice and stuff," Ge said.

"You brought it up."

"So not the point," Ge said.  "Back on point, she only gets to come out when you're really angry, really scared, or really hurt, I think.  Is that about right?"

"Pretty much," Des said.

"So, then, aren't you teaching her to associate anger, fear, and pain with freedom?" Ge asked.  "Assuming she doesn't like fear and pain, of course she's a being of wrath because that's the only time she's free and not experiencing those things."

"I've never really thought of it that way," Des said.

"You could try releasing control when you're not in a horrible emotional state."

"She's dangerous," Des said.  "I'm not going to just let her out."

"Maybe good experiences would temper her rage."

"My approach has worked for longer than your not-stone lifetime."

"I disagree," Ge said.  "If you've been using it for that long then you started before the age of six and you still haven't reached a point where you're free of the episodes that you consider failures."

* * *

Ge studied the board.  She was winning, but that could change if she wasn't careful.  She took a stone from her bowl, looked over the board again, and placed it.  She wasn't sure that it was the right move, but she was at peace, and that was good.

Then, she had a thought.

"How are you feeling?" she asked Des.

Des looked up, clearly not expecting the question, but it didn't take her long to answer with, "Content."

"Let go," Ge said.

"What?" Des said.

Ge smiled, it wasn't often one was able to utterly befuddle Des.

"Release control.  Let her out," Ge said.  "Right here right now when there's nothing to be angry about, nothing to fear, and no pain."

"Ge," Des said slowly.

"I'm serious."

"It isn't safe."

"You know I can defend myself," Ge said.  "There's no one else around.  It's safe here."

Des took a deep breath, then said, "Ok."  She laid her hand across the board, on the side out of the way of the stones, and Ge took it.

Des closed her eyes.  when she opened them two other sets opened with them, her skin was already starting to turn red.  Two fingers and part of the palm of the hand Ge held fell away as the new arm found a different place to rest.

Once the transformation was complete, Ge asked, "How do you feel."

"Strange," Des said, her voice different yet the same, as it always was when she was in demon form.

"Good strange or bad strange?" Ge asked.

"Good strange, I believe," Des said.  "Though I would rather be playing a game in the chess family."

"Why?" Ge asked.

"It's faster, more violent, captures and killings and battle.  Much more tactical than this, though still with it's share of strategy," Des said.  "Also, I'm much more likely to win a game of chess."

"Isn't a hard earned victory more satisfying than an easy one?"

"Yes, but an easy victory is better than a defeat of any kind."

Des placed a stone on the board, and Ge returned her attention to the game.

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