The War

By Harukami


They meet in a bar.

It is not a place deserving of their presence. The bar is dingy, hazed in a cloud of smoke, thick with the tang of nicotine. Whenever somebody makes the slow trip to the bathroom or from a table to the bar, the shattered remains of peanut husks crunch under their feet in little pops and hisses.

A television hangs over the bar. It has poor reception and fuzz regularly travels over its surface in a louder hiss and crackle - every so often a news anchor's voice will pop through, suddenly loud. The disjointed quality makes words impossible and so the noises are just moans of sound, like human suffering. It has put the patrons on edge; they drink more, couples huddle close, people turn inward and pay less attention.

The bar's name is "Chase's". The "'s" is out on the sign. The bar serves food, and though it is served soaked in several days' worth of grease, they have eaten worse, in worse conditions.

They sit across from each other at a table whose surface is slightly sticky with old spilled beer.

"A toast," Michael says. "To enemies."

"To enemies," Baal repeats, raises his own glass, and downs it.

This is not their first meeting, but it will be their last. The End is near, humans are now aware of Celestial presence, the time for the Last Battle approaches. Their duties, always hard, grow harder.

Michael has it easier than Baal does, yet as Laurence is hard-pressed to personally manage the entirety of the vastness of the holy army, Angels and Soldiers of God alike, David and Michael have both bowed their heads and agreed to help. Laurence is still the Lord Commander, but he recognizes the need for help where he can take it.

Baal commands the legions and armies of Hell himself, firm in his pride.

In previous meetings, they have talked long, with increasingly drunken slurring, Michael rambling about Yves and Dominic and the factions and incompetance and the lack of unity. Baal listens and hmmms his agreement or disagreement, then speaks disgustedly of Andrealphus' vanity or Nybbas' ratings or Haagenti's stupidity, of the way the War is getting popularized. Michael would groan or laugh or shake his head at the portrayals. Neither would use this information against the other; that was their silent agreement.

For a Seraph, Michael played dirty. For a Balseraph, Baal played clean.

They do not talk like that this meeting, though; this meeting they drink and drink, ordering for each other when they think to.

The humans sit and watch what they can hear of the TV, trying to make out how the War is going now that they are aware it exists; knowing enough vague information about the Demon Princes that they know they can't really trust the news: What if it is Nybbas' folk, passing on lies to break their morale? Some of the humans are Soldiers for one side or another. They do not recognize each other or the two Superiors sharing a room with them. They do not listen to the TV, knowing they can get better information elsewhere.

And Michael and Baal drink. They know that soon they will have to return to their duties; soon they will meet one last time on the battlefield and only one will walk away. Soon.

For now, they spend time with the only other who can understand.


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