For the first time in centuries, Chernabog is too surprised to be angry. He digs one long claw around in his right ear before angling toward Belobog
“I thought you said go out. On a date,” Chernabog says. He wrinkles his nose and draws his lips away from his teeth, brow furrowed.
“Yes, yes. I did,” Belobog says, waving away Chernabog’s incredulity. “You spend all year in solitude brooding over the myriad injustices you think have been done you—”
“Injustices you brought about!” Chernabog roars, wings striking out around him. Ignoring the interruption, Belobog continues.
“—and then when you finally do come out of solitary, you spend your time with these… creatures. You need to spend some time away from your precious mountain. And with someone who isn’t a whipped minion.”
“They are whipped minions, brother, because they are weak,” Chernabog explains. The brothers look at one another. Belobog gives a long, slow blink. “I’m going to bring chaos with me if I go out there.” Another long, slow blink from Belobog. “I don’t need a human to be happy.” Blink.
Chernabog’s jaw tightens, teeth grinding as he feels the anger rise back to full force. “Fine!”
Belobog’s face breaks into a smile, the light emanating from it blinding Chernabog before he can react. Chernabog snaps his eyes shut against any further potential damage and waits for the white dots to stop dancing. His forefinger begins the little circles on his thumb pad. His clawed feet no longer press against stone.
“Belobog,” he growls. “We have you brought us?”
“Sorry about that. Wasn’t thinking. All ready for you to open your eyes again.”
Chernabog tentatively complies. He looks around, unimpressed by his surroundings. The room he’s in is large, open, and decorated in soft, light colors. Large windows overlook a city Chernabog doesn’t recognize. A glass and chrome table is set under a mutedly artistic chandelier, marking the room’s focal point. On the table is a single item.
Belobog crosses to the table and pulls a chair out, motioning Chernabog to take a seat. Grumbling, Chernabog complies.
“This,” Belobog says, motioning at the item on the table, “is a—”
“It’s a laptop. I’m not that out of touch.”
Belobog purses his lips and nods. He takes a seat across from Chernabog and opens the laptop, pulling up the website he saw in an ad several days ago. The page loads a little more slowly than he’d like. Once it’s finished, he spins the laptop toward Chernabog.
Chernabog voices frustration in strangled noises as he looks at the screen. Second Chances, it says. “Finding love for the disadvantaged?” Chernabog is unable to keep the outrage from his voice. “I am not disadvantaged, brother, I am unjustly abused!”
Belobog leans across the table, catching Chernabog’s fist mere centimeters from connecting with the glass. Even so, the force behind the blow causes spiderweb cracks in the table’s surface. “Calm down,” Belobog demands, shaking his brother by the wrist. “Calm down. It’s just marketing. They aren’t the most sensitive lot. This isn’t a dig at you.”
Chernabog pulls his hand back—Belobog lets him. Chernabog sits and studies the website. He tries to scroll but the touch pad doesn’t recognize his finger as touching it. He tries to use the keyboard, but his claws glance off uselessly. He looks over the laptop at his brother as a soft keening begins in the back of his throat. Belobog snatches the laptop away and smiles at his brother.
“Hadn’t thought about that. So sorry,” he says, letting out just enough of his light to distract his brother before the keening becomes another mountain crumbling roar. “I’ll just do the typing, shall I?”
Chernabog listens to the soft clicking as Belobog begins to register an account.
“You need a name,” Belobog says. “Something less… you.”
Chernabog looks around as though he might find inspiration from inside Belobog’s apartment. “Scott,” he says finally, spotting the word on some packaging in a partially hidden room to his left. Belobog follows his brother’s gaze.
“Yes. Scott. Very fitting. Very abrasive, Scott. Perfect,” Belobog says, the words tumbling out to hide his mirth. Belobog types the name in and moves on. “Age and ethnicity are next.” Chernabog opens his mouth to answer, but Belobog interrupts. “You know what? 35-year-old native sounds perfect.”
Chernabog folds his arms across his chest and scowls, but nods for Belobog to continue.
“Looking for…” Belobog looks up and studies his brother for a moment. “Long-term relationship.”
“Children?” Belobog mentally kicks himself for even reading the question aloud.
“I was wondering if you had anything to eat here,” Chernabog says. Belobog gives him another slow blink. He clicks “undecided.”
“Body type…” murmurs Belobog as he reads off the next question. Chernabog knocks a hand against his chest, the sound like two boulders rubbing. Rock solid. “I’ll just mark bodybuilder. Let’s see… Religious preference, political preference… I’ll just leave those blank. Sexual preference?”
“Alive,” Chernabog says eagerly.