He didn't know why, whether some instinct pricked him, but he stood and scrambled from the tub as quickly and quietly as he could. Bare and dripping, bubbles caught still in the hairs on his legs, he felt awfully exposed and vulnerable. He grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist, turning to face the door that was now fully open.
Milly stood there, smiling. She looked perfectly ordinary, and when she saw his expression grinned even more widely.
"Jeez Mal, what did you think I was coming to do?"
"Nothing," he said, feeling his face grow hot. Oh shit, what if she heard me? I'm going crazy! That goddamn demon! She knows I was whacking off, I bet she does.
"So, you coming out?"
"Yeah, just let me get dressed first. I should go, I guess."
"Coming out!" she said again and laughed.
"Ha ha," Mal said. "That's hilarious, you know that?"
"Sorry, just come on out. I have something to show you. It might help. In fact, it definitely will help."
"Seriously?" Mal felt like a weight had rolled off his shoulders. The demon was silent. He prodded that part of his mind where it seemed to lie. Nothing. Lie, yeah, that's all it does. Lies lies and more lies. It's making me insane and paranoid. How did Joe live with this? I don't think it could have been so strong. It's gained power, I think. How?
"Seriously. I think I can do it. Lucky Hoban came because I need his help."
"I know," Milly said and she smiled again, reassuringly. "Come on Mal. It won't hurt, I promise."
"I was thinking, could it have gained strength? The demon?"
"I don't know Mal. You think I'm the global expert on these things? I'm into the occult, yeah, but no one can know everything. Don't worry though, I know enough. So, what, are you gonna let me help you? You said you don't want it. You said you don't want what it can give."
"I'd appreciate it," Mal nodded. Milly turned and walked out, leaving him to follow. Mal dried himself quickly and pulled his pants up over still-damp legs, shrugged into his shirt and left the bathroom.
He saw immediately they'd changed things around. Milly's bed was pushed up hard against the wall making a larger area in the middle of the room. fro the same reason, the desk had been put on the other bed, together with the two chairs and on the cleared carpet either Milly or Hoban had drawn a large circle in charcoal. Hoban didn't seem at all surprised to see Mal, and Mal flushed again thinking of Hoban listening in with Milly to his antics in the tub.
Hoban came toward him, one hand out. Mal raised his own to shake but instead of gripping his hand, Hoban grabbed his arm. Mal was too shocked to do more than gasp as Hoban ground the bones and meat of his arm in a vice grip and spun him. Hoban's leg, heavy with muscle was suddenly right there, whipping out sweeping his feet away and Mal crashed down, tasting blood as he bit his own tongue.
Mal lay, moaning, stupid with fear and astonishment as Hoban landed on him, driving all the breath from his body and causing his vision to dim while tiny white sparks flashed behind his eyes. Oh fuck! Oh shit! Demon! Help me! he demanded. The demon did answer, but only to laugh in his mind. Shoulda listened to me! It told him gleefully Wishing you had now aren't you? Well, you're out of luck and out of time you little cock-sucker! He thought he could hear Milly laughing too, somewhere up above him. That bitch! That evil whore!
He struggled, but Hoban outweighed him by close on eighty pounds and held him down as if Mal had no more strength than a kitten. Kitten! Cat! Miily's cat; demon give me my power!
You rejected it! the demon crowed. What did I say? Weren't you listening? OUT OF TIME!
It didn't give him power, rather Mal felt it take over. He was helpless as it rushed past him, locked him off, shut him down, sent him to rage and scream soundlessly behind his eyes. I've found a worthy vessel! It triumphed! First into him, then into her. You'll see. Oh, you'll see. Sit back and enjoy the ride. It's the last one you'll get.
Mal's body turned, under the demon's control, and Hoban was lifted away as if he weighed no more than Milly's cat and thrown so hard against the wall that it shook. Milly started to curse and shout, her usually calm expression made ugly. But she didn't go to Hoban. She stepped instead into the center of the charcoal circle and began to speak loudly and furiously in a language Mal did not understand. The demon apparently did, for it howled with his mouth and Mal saw his arms come up and begin to batter against the circle's edge, where somehow walls of mist were forming that the demon could not break.
Hoban was stumbling up, but the demon held him. He found he couldn't move away from the wall and started to shout to Milly.
"Milly! Help me bitch!"
"Shut the fuck up Hobbes, or we're both dead!" Milly broke off her crazy chant to scream at him.
The demon howled again with Mal's mouth. "I'm gonna have you! I'm gonna have you! Think what we could do together! You're powerful already. I could give you twice that! Three times! I could make you an Empress! I can give you everything you ever dreamed! Just let me in!"
Little pig, little pig..Mal thought, crazy with fear. He noticed Milly's black cat pad over. It rubbed itself against his leg where he knelt, purring. He didn't feel it, but the demon did.