I felt as though I was in some kind of bizarre dream as I made my way back to the tent, dragging the jug in with me.
My hand felt like it was burning, but the rest of me was drifting somewhere.
“Back so soon?”
I plastered on a smile and tried not to feel sick as I glanced at Lucifer, busying myself in wetting a cloth and using it to clean some of the blood crusted on his hands.
“You seem worse than I am.” He chuckled, watching me as I cleaned his scabbing knuckles and wiping away some of what was probably Eversio’s blood.
“I’m sorry about Eversio.” I said abruptly.
“Why?” he asked, “He was on the verge of killing the both of us. It was self-defense.”
“No...I mean...sorry that he turned out to be the mole, that I had no idea, that all of this was happening and –“
He took the cloth from me and used it to clean the blood that was still on my face from where Eversio had cut me, making me wince.
Lucifer gestured for me to come closer and I scooted towards him, feeling recognition hit me as he put his hand on my cheek.
My skin started to warm up and I tried to push his hand away.
“You have to save your strength.”
He moved away after a few moments, and I found my skin unbroken.
“It’s nothing.” He insisted, “And it’s the least I can do.”
He looked tired.
“You should get some sleep.” I said suddenly, “I should go.”
I felt myself get up to leave, relieved at having found an excuse, but I felt him grab my wrist.
“Commander – Zara,” he corrected, “Could you...stay the night?”
“I’m good.” I insisted.
“No...not like that.” He laughed weakly, “Just keep me company?”
I tried not to notice how small he suddenly looked.
He looked triumphant, and pulled me back to sit on the bed.
“I won’t bore you with stories of who else I’ve had in this bed.”
We might have made some conversation, but soon enough I felt myself jolt awake, sleeping Lucifer lying beside me with his arm draped over my shoulder.
My hand was shaking with exhaustion as I squirmed to untie the dagger from my leg, looking at the carved handle and the lethal blade.
My head was spinning. My mouth was incredibly dry, and I blinked blearily.
My mind was in an incredibly thick fog. It was near-impossible for me to form any coherent thought, other than registering the fact that I was inching the blade towards his neck.
My hand seemed to move of its own accord. The first bead of scarlet appeared on the blade, and I couldn’t even begin to feel guilt.
Cupid. Cupid. Cupid. Cupid dancing with me, making me drink bloodwine, fighting beside me, tackling Eversio, Cupid in the forest and in my tent and in my dreams and in my head.
Cupid in my head.
Somehow, by some miracle, I felt myself take the blade with my other hand and pull it towards myself, sitting up with my teeth gritted.
I didn’t respond as I cut into my palm, but a guttural noise escaped my throat. Blood was dripping into my lap but I was trying to focus on keeping my grip on the dagger.
Pain flooded my vision and tears flowed liberally down my face.
When the flesh I had carved out of my hand finally fell away the dagger dropped and I absentmindedly wiped my face, breathing heavily.
Cupid was gone.
“Show me that.”
I was about to move to hand Lucifer the dagger but he took my mutilated hand, beginning to wrap some bandages around it.
"Would you care to explain what just happened?" he asked, his voice soft.
"You know the arrowhead Cupid wears?" I started, exhausted.
Lucifer looked startled.
"He still has it?"
I looked at him, confused, before he continued.
"It's from the first arrow Hephaestus forged for him. It's incredibly powerful. It was supposed to have been destroyed."
"Well, it wasn't. He'd branded me with it or something."
Lucifer had a stunned expression.
"He used it on you?"
"What the Hell for?"
I put the dagger in front of him.
"To get me to assassinate you."
"I don't feel all too dead." he frowned, surprisingly unperturbed by the news.
"I cut off the scar." I sighed, running my free hand through my hair.
"Oh." he nodded, "That explains it."
"...That's it?" I asked incredulously, "Where's the vengeful call to arms?"
He took a drink of water and shrugged.
"Cupid's one hell of a bastard. I've been keeping something of an eye on him since he got here."
"What?" I asked incredulously, "But then how didn't you know about what he planned to - "
"I did." he admitted apologetically, "Sorry about all of the drama."
Lucifer whistled and a demon armed to the teeth walked in before he gestured for him to leave.
"Smiley here was ready to come to my defence if need be. As my Commander, I thought it was a spectacular opportunity to test your loyalty. Considering that Cupid used the arrowhead on you, you've surpassed my expectations."
I tried to hide my annoyance.
"You mean you could have told me about this and you decided to let it go this far instead?!"
"I didn't know about the arrowhead," he sighed, "I'd assumed you were acting out of your own treasonous desires."
I resisted the urge to slap him.
"I took an arrow for you, and you think I'd want to stab you in your sleep?"
"You can never be too paranoid." he offered, yawning, "But all's well that ends well - "
"What happens to Cupid?" I asked, trying to ignore how much my hand hurt.
"I don't know." Lucifer offered, "How does Tartarus sound?"
"Good. But let me have a chat with him first."