Eventually everyone retired to their rooms, most wanting to get in a good night’s sleep to wake up early in order to reach the airport. This left Stanley alone in the living room where he relegated himself to sleeping on the couch. This time he wasn’t playing videogames or browsing the internet on his laptop. No this time he opted not to distract himself from his thoughts since unlike the previous day his mind was no longer going to dark places. This was ultimately for the best since the subject of his thoughts hadn’t changed. As he lay on the couch in the darkened room staring at the ceiling his thoughts were encompassed by Ezraphel.
After a long while he voiced his overall synopsis of his thoughts “this relationship thing is fucking hard.”
Before all this started Stanley really thought he and Ezraphel had their relationship under control. Sure it wasn’t perfect by any stretch of either of their perspectives but they knew that. Their relationship was more a compromise than an ideal but they figured they would iron out the wrinkles with time. Sure problems would occur because of course they would but God damn Stanley thought he would be a bit more prepared when the other shoe dropped. That quote from an old insurance commercial came to mind at that moment.
“Life comes at you fast.”
And wasn’t that the truth.
Who the hell knew a weekend with some friends would do this much damage to six months of progress?
‘Fuck me, if that’s all it took then what does it say about that progress in the first place?’
It reminded Stanley of the reason why he was not interested in relationships or having an intimate relationship with anyone in the first place. He vocally used the excuse of it being a waste of time or a bad investment and people would think he was just making excuses because he was unattractive and had a terrible personality but neither was really true. In the end all the reasons he gave for not wanting intimacy are excuses for the real reason.
That reason being a genuine lack of interest.
The thing is even if Stanley was always as attractive as he currently is he still wouldn’t be in an intimate relationship. He could certainly see himself giving it a try but ultimately breaking it off down the line and not trying again for many years if ever again. Why did he think this? Because after thinking about it, if Ezraphel was a normal woman Stan would have broken off the relationship a long time ago. Even now there was a part of him that just did not want to deal with this. He told Ezraphel that he wouldn’t give up on their relationship and it was true. Stanley genuinely wanted to make this thing work out but there was no mistake that he didn’t necessarily have a choice in that respect.
‘I’m locked in…I’ve been locked in to this relationship the moment she landed in my backyard.’
The thought came with a bitterness he hadn’t felt in a very long time followed by thoughts centered on the scenario of what if Ezraphel had not entered his life. There was no doubt that Ezraphel’s presence had been an overall positive influence on him. It was to the point where he couldn’t imagine a life without her…until now. What that life would be Stan knew it wouldn’t be good. Stan’s life without Ezraphel would be one of stagnancy, bitterness, self loathing and loneliness. He wouldn’t be a better man without her, he wouldn’t be a happy man without her…but he would be content.
Had he not resigned himself to wallow in the stagnant filth that was his life before?
Had he not consigned himself to living out the rest of his days doing what he genuinely enjoyed until his death?
Had he not already went ahead and drawn up a will that would see his wealth and worldly possessions distributed accordingly to the only family who gave a damn about him and had his best interest at heart?
The answer was yes to all those things but now all that ‘effort’ was rendered moot. He now had responsibilities he never wanted and worse a good chunk of said responsibility went beyond the scope of a normal relationship. He felt pressured and as history had shown Stanley Berkowitz did not handle high pressure situations well. The last time he truly felt pressured was back in college with his grades, his peers, his parents, society and the uncertain future. In the end he gave up on a normal life and became a recluse.
Unfortunately giving up and cutting his losses wasn’t an option here so where does that leave him?
He pinched the bridge of his nose ‘god fucking dammit Ez.’
Through this one act of hers Ezraphel has exposed the fact that their relationship failed the ‘litmus test’ so to speak. Their first time going out as a couple for more than a few hours and Ezraphel ended up corrupting someone and revealing her secret.
This incident with Amelia was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. He could certainly attempt to re-establish the status quo to before the weekend but he recognized how counterproductive that would be. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. He sees it now, how he’s been clinging onto the lifestyle he cultivated before Ezraphel showed up through sheer stubbornness and willful ignorance. He’s been staving off the change trying to fit Ezraphel into his life like a child attempting to push a square peg into a circular hole.
‘Was I really that fucking delusional?’
Of course it wouldn’t work and deep down he knew that but he didn’t feel ready, he wanted the fantasy to last just a while longer. Now the bubble has popped and reality was setting in which was ironic considering the actual fantastical elements of this whole debacle.
‘Okay problem recognized, sort of, now how do I fix it?’
Well it’s already been established that he needed to change and the same thing can be said for Ezraphel. As much of schizoid weeb who wasn’t quite aware of what an actual healthy relationship looked like Stanley could at least identify that some of the stuff he and Ezraphel engaged in were not so healthy in the first place. For instance even someone like him can recognize that Ezraphel’s fixation on him was a problem. He knew this for a long time now but he excused it as her being a Mamono and their culture being different. Then he remembered this was the same culture that venerates mind control, rape and pedophilia.
Fuck Mamono culture.
So naturally the first order of business was to have Ezraphel appropriate more human culture into her life. And this time he wouldn’t just stick her on a laptop and have the internet do the heavy lifting. Of course this meant that Stanley would need to actively change his lifestyle too because clearly preserving his previous lifestyle wasn’t working out so well. In truth it hadn’t been working so well even before all of this but that’s just something he would have to deal with.
How fortunate for him then that she would announce her intent to go on some kind of globetrotting tour with Amelia. As much as the thought of leaving her alone with Amelia over a protracted period made him feel he couldn’t say that the woman didn’t have the right of it. This may sound hypocritical but Ezraphel really needed to get out more. People think it’s easy to be a recluse who has single digit averages when it came to human interactions over several months but it wasn’t so. Anyone can go out and meet new people but you have to be built different to not really be bothered by solitude.
Ezraphel was just not built like that.
‘Alright so Operation: Switch Up is a go’ he thought with a snort ‘Ezraphel has her tour plans and I have to change my lifestyle. Can I actually do that?’
Honestly aside from Airsoft, Ezraphel and his family there wasn’t much in this world as far as he knew that could consistently take him away from his PC.
At least that was the case before yesterday.
Raising a hand over his face Stanley concentrated and within moments a dark purple flame-like miasma enveloped his hand.
‘Yep I’m magic now.’
Well he’s been magic since he became an Incubus and technically that’s not magic so much as its Demonic Energy. It’s always been there but he couldn’t really access it like this until he had an aneurysm out of sheer stupidity. Stanley made the occasional joke that Ezraphel was going to put him the in the hospital with her antics but this time she almost did it. That’s right Ezraphel pissed him off so much that he gained an actual rage boost enabling him to manifest mana like a shounen character.
And speaking of his errant girlfriend…
“Are you waiting to make a dramatic entrance or something? Get out here” he spoke with a scowl while extinguishing the dark flame of mana.
A moment later Ezraphel literally stepped out of the shadows with a look of contemplation.
~A Deliberate Accident~
“Your magical awareness has gotten better.”
“Looks like it” he grunted not bothering to sit up but scooted upwards so his head lay on the sofa’s hand rest.
“Hmm” she hummed while taking a seat at the other end of the sofa but said nothing.
Soon the two were cast in an awkward silence.
“You know I could feel your eyes on me all day” he commented “even when you weren’t in the same area” she took a seat at the edge of the sofa “it kind of defeats the purpose of giving me space if you’re there all the time.”
“I won’t apologize.”
Stanley snorted as he wasn’t expecting one in the first place.
“What do you want?”
“I wanted to discuss your recent awakening.”
“Is that what it’s called?”
“That is what I call it.”
“So this is a normal thing then?”
“Strictly speaking anyone who is pumped full of an abundance of mana over the course of a period of time will eventually gain awareness and be able to utilize it” she explained “your outburst on the other hand was different.”
“Yeah I figure that isn’t the sort of thing that happens often.”
“It doesn’t happen at all” she enforced “I daresay you might be the first case of an awakening via an overly negative emotional response.”
“I doubt that.”
Ezraphel gave a mirthless chuckle as she stared off in a random direction “it means that I have failed in my duties as your wife to make you happy.”
“Well” he began changing the subject “I think I know what I want to do while you’re hanging out with Amelia.”
Taking the out for what it is Ezraphel gave him a quizzical look “oh? And what do you plan to do?”
“Magic” he answered “I want to learn magic.”
“You want to learn magic?”
“You don’t sound very thrilled about the prospect.”
“It’s not that I am not thrilled it’s just that I expected you to ask much sooner. You never really showed any interest in magic beyond a few scholarly curiosities.”
He’d always been interested in magic because why wouldn’t he be? He was reluctant to broach the subject because well…
‘God I am such a fucking idiot’ he mentally lamented.
He genuinely did not have a good reason for his procrastination beyond general laziness, stubbornness in clinging to his old ways and hesitance to embrace change. It was honestly so fucked because now that he’s thinking about it him learning magic could have been the perfect bonding exercise for the two of them.
He cringed “yeah I was procrastinating.”
“Putting off doing something important for stupid ass reasons I don’t wanna talk about” he clarified.
“I see” not really “well I am afraid I will not be available to tutor you as I will be very busy” she sniffed before giving him the side eye “unless you are no longer in need of space…”
“You’re not bribing your way out of this with magic lessons Ez.”
“I don’t see why you won’t drop this foolishness and just travel with us.”
“First of all there are few things in this life that I find more harrowing than hanging out with you and Amelia alone for any prolonged period of time let alone traveling to random places.”
“We can get Liam to join us and make it a double date.”
‘It’s amazing how she went and picked out one of those few more harrowing things.’
The thought of having Liam tag along to make it a couple’s outing sounded good on paper but Stanley’s pessimism more or less accurately painted the miserable reality. Stanley will readily admit that Liam was a better romantic partner than him and based on whatever bullshit he gets up to with Amelia he could picture them raising some kind of competitive streak in the Lilim. While Ezraphel seemed content now it wouldn’t really take much for her to start demanding more from Stanley in the romance department.
Also “again it defeats the purpose of getting some space if I went with you.”
“Your punishment is a farce” she practically hissed “we don’t need ‘space’ Stanley we only need to work through our issues like a couple as we always do.”
Staley could feel a migraine coming on because Ezraphel was right. The right thing to do would be for them to stick by each other and work out their troubles like a normal couple. They weren’t a normal couple though and besides, the two of them being kept apart for a little while was more for Ezraphel’s benefit anyway. She needed a bit of forced independence and hopefully having Amelia involved will actually make her focus instead of half-assing it with magic or some shit.
“Not this time. I really don’t want to have to go over a full debriefing of the reasons why I think separating for a bit will be good for us” he said with a scowl.
‘I’ve been dwelling on shit for too long as is.’
“Tch” Ezraphel clicked her tongue with a scowl.
Her reaction drew an aggravated sigh from Stanley who sat up and crossed his legs as he regarded her “clearly you have something on your mind so you might as well get it off your chest.”
Ezraphel opened her mouth hesitated and seemed to ponder her words. There was a long stretch of silence which Stanley weathered with great patience.
“I believe the idea that we need to separate in order for us mitigate this hurdle in our relationship is a fallacy.”
“Do you now?”
“I understand in the heat of the moment you would need time to ‘cool off’ however I don’t see the point in prolonging it” she paused as she gained an uncomfortable look “you do believe me when I say I did not mean to corrupt Amelia do you?”
“Haven’t we been over this?”
“Stanley please…” she half pleaded.
“And you believe me when I say my actions were the result of an egregious carelessness on my part.”
“Then I need to know, what exactly is the reasoning behind this punishment?”
“Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means if you do something stupid you have to accept responsibility for it and bear the consequences.”
“Is that all there is?”
“What are you getting at?”
“When you first delivered your judgment I could sense you did it partially with malicious intent.”
“I was really pissed” he admitted “still am actually.”
“But now I sense your heart wavering” she insisted “you’re still angry but it has dulled quite a bit since yesterday. I don’t think you even want to continue with this.”
“That’s the mental exhaustion of dwelling on this bullshit” he answered while rubbing the bridge of his nose “I am so fucking tired of thinking about this. I cannot express how much I utterly despise this situation right now. You betraying my trust, the fucking paranoia, wondering if you’re playing me and having to go through all this moral and ethical bullshit thinking in circles over and over and over again and again.”
“Then why burden yourself with it?” she reached out to hold his hand.
Stanley snatched his hand away as he yelled “because I can’t let it go! You fucked with my friend’s fiancée!” he abruptly cut himself short and drew in a sharp breath, held it and released a calming sigh “you want to know why I’m advocating for space? Because right now if we’re together for any prolonged amount of time I’m just going to remember the incident and I’m going to bring it up and I’m going to be fucking angry about it and the implications.”
“…I still don’t agree with this” Ezraphel grimaced at his heated glare but continued “but I understand.”
For a while there was silence between them before Stanley broke it “there is something I’ve been wondering though.”
“What is it?”
“Does your magic work by intent?”
“Intent?” her brows furrowed “well I certainly would need to make my intentions clear to perform spells.”
“That’s not what I-okay look, in some fictions magic can be influenced by heavy emotions to the point where spells or effects can spontaneously happen without the caster being aware of it.”
It was one of the many ideas he’s been toying with during the first sleepless night though he didn’t dwell on it at the time. Ezraphel’s words and a vague recollection of some Harry Potter lore had him ask because if fiction was real and some things in the multiverse were a constant who’s to say that this wasn’t one of them? Seeing Ezraphel gained a distinctly uncomfortable expression as he spoke Stanley couldn’t help but think he might have stumbled onto something.
“Is that a thing for Mamono?”
Meanwhile for Ezraphel memories of a lecture long buried by decades of future experience played out in her head. Once upon a time she apprenticed under one of her older sisters who was and still is one of the most skilled magic users in all of Eos. Ezraphel wanted to learn new and unique spells that would aid her in the pursuit and seduction of a potential husband. Her sister on the other hand was a scholar and actual teacher very much into the study of magic and so her lessons were inundated with longwinded lectures most of which have been forgotten to time.
Stanley’s words however managed to drag one of these previously thought lost memories to the surface which pertained to the subject. That memory she barely remembered before began to gain clarity and as she pondered more on it a pit formed in her stomach.
“What are you thinking about?”
Ezraphel started looking to her Stanley who had a concentrated expression.
“You look like you’re thinking about something and from the look on your face it isn’t anything good. Did my question happen to ring a bell?”
Ezraphel thought about lying-
“Do not lie to me Ezraphel” he all but growled.
The Lilim licked her lips “t-there is such a thing as instinctive magic yes.”
“It is…as you described” she began hesitantly “magic born not of deliberate spellcraft but of strong emotions and subconscious intent.”
“…Ezraphel” he began slowly.
“Be honest with me. How much did you want to corrupt Amelia?”
She hesitated because she already knew the truth. There was no denying Ezraphel wanted to turn Amelia into a Mamono. It wasn’t even the first time she thought about monsterizing a woman. She was used to doing just that on her travels and she was far from conservative with it. She has personally seen to the monsterization of upwards of a hundred humans and has turned several villages and towns into Demon Realms. The only reason why she hadn’t aimed higher was because it was an unwritten rule amongst her siblings that any community they had a direct hand in monsterizing they must assume responsibility for until said community could govern themselves and their safety is assured.
“Ezraphel” Stanley continued gravely “was it really an accident?”
Ezraphel didn’t answer for a long while as she thought back to the night of the incident. For some reason there were snippets of memories of the day that were hazy which was disconcerting to say the least.
‘It was an accident…wasn’t it?’
She dug in deep concentrating to that unfortunate night and her memories played out. She remembered preparing the ingredients for the meal the next day. Her Stanley called out his intention to retire for the night and her mind was prematurely overtaken with lustful anticipation. This is where things start to get hazy for her as it usually does whenever sex becomes involved.
As her thoughts became more inundated with her Stanley and sex her movements became more instinctual. She’s been in a kitchen literally every single day for several months now. Performing certain tasks has become such a routine at that point that she can afford to be distracted. Eventually she came unto the memory she was looking for namely the ‘extraction’ of the milk into the glass pitcher. After this she collapsed the barrier and went to place the milk in the refrigerator but as she did she happened to hear the voice of Amelia and Liam as they turned in for the night.
This part of the memory was the most significant because it was the only time she actually stopped thinking about her Stanley. Even if it was only briefly she couldn’t help but imagine Amelia as a Mamono, no she couldn’t help but imagine turning her into a Mamono. Even in her memory the thought only lasted a few seconds at best before she dismissed it. Yet with the clarity assisted by a minor memory spell she couldn’t help but notice a discrepancy in the time before, during and after the thought.
At the time she was literally storing the pitcher of milk in the refrigerator.
Summoning said pitcher, now empty, to her hand she looked over the object with wide eyes.
“Oh no…” she whispered.
The Lilim flinched heavily having seemingly forgotten she was not alone.
“What does ‘oh no’ mean?”
Shakily she turned to him “it’s…different…”
“The enchantment” she mumbled looking back at the glass with a dead expression.
“Hey!” Stanley half yelled snapping his fingers in front of her “don’t give me that half formed sentence bullshit. Start making sense dammit! Now what the hell are you talking about?”
Ezraphel swallowed heavily “I placed enchantments on this glass so that only you or I will be able to pour the content within. For anyone else they would simply acknowledge its existence but otherwise be uninterested in it or its content.”
“The enchantments have been tampered with” she admitted hesitantly.
There is literally only one person in the entire world that can tamper with Ezraphel’s enchantment.
“S-Stanley I…” she trailed off looking ill with tears forming at the edges of her eyes.
“I didn’t mean to-” the tears fell freely and her disguise is dropped revealing her true form.
“O-Oh God!” she sobbed dropping the pitcher which fell to the carpeted floor with a muted thump.
Stanley pulled her into a hug and immediately Ezraphel latches onto him with desperation. As it was with every other time they’ve embraced her greater size combined with her wings and tail practically enveloped him wholesale. There was nothing romantic or lustful about this embrace however as the Lilim sobbed into his chest.
“I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorry-” on and on she went like a record that was distinctly broken.
Stanley for his part weathered her desperate embrace, tears and wails with a stony expression however the fear, confusion and sorrow he felt through their bond against his consciousness made the endeavor a trying one. Still he did not let her strong emotions wearing away at his obstinate emotional defenses distract him from what really mattered at this moment.
Comforting his wife.
The Next Day…
‘It‘s official, this entire weekend is a fucking wash.’
To say that Ezraphel took the news of her instinctive use of magic that inevitably ended with the corruption of someone well would be a bold faced lie. To be honest he didn’t expect the reaction, Ezraphel seemed genuinely disturbed by the fact that her magic acted without her conscious input something that has apparently never happened before.
Why didn’t she notice the tampering before?
Because she wasn’t necessarily interested in finding out the reason behind the ‘how’ so much as she was more concerned with damage control. He also imagined she was just plain excited to welcome someone else into the fold especially someone open and like-minded like Amelia who was also in a relationship. Ezraphel may not have intended for Amelia to be corrupted but since the damage was done she wanted to approach the woman with the offer.
It still annoyed him that her first instinct was to keep it a secret from him, a fact that caused him to give her the side eye even as he comforted her. It stirred up a lot of condemnation for her on his part but with how emotional she was in that moment verbally admonishing her was the last thing he wanted.
Following that revelation they spent at least another hour together at which point Ezraphel surprised him by demanding space to think. He hadn’t gotten the affirmation out before she up and disappeared. There wasn’t even a flash of light or ay other indication of a teleport. One moment she was there and the next she was gone.
As for him there wasn’t much he could do. Far be it for him to shoot down a request for some space especially after literally advocating it all this time. As there was nothing to do about it and being mentally exhausted after the fact he took a nap. Just because he can stay up multiple nights in a row with minimal rest didn’t mean it was a comfortable experience.
Hours later he woke up to the familiar smell of her cooking. Checking up on her turned out to be a lesson in futility as she warded off the kitchen which was as concerning as it was annoying. The situation has turned into a be careful what you wish for scenario and the irony was not lost on him.
‘Jesus H. Christ it’s only been a day and that decision’s already biting me in the ass.’
It almost feels like a sign brought on by some entity to show that it was ultimately a stupid ass decision. He didn’t think so but now he’s on the cusp of walking it back because Ezraphel was definitely the kind of person who needed emotional support.
“Another long night?”
Stanley came out of his thoughts to find Liam once again standing before him. This time the weather outside eased up of its own volition allowing him to get in an actual decent workout. He was covered in a light sheen of sweat but otherwise looked fine. Once upon a time Stanley felt a twinge of jealousy at his friend’s physique and ability to commit to keeping it defined but that time has long since passed.
“Not this time.”
Liam eyed him for a while before getting a chair and sitting down “something happened?”
“You could say that” he said vaguely not really wanting to rehash the conversation he and Ezraphel had hours earlier.
“Well you’ve been sitting in that same spot in that same position of contemplation since I woke up and for the entire duration of my run so…” he trailed off meaningfully.
Stanley cringed before letting out an aggravated sigh “me and Ezraphel had a talk last night-uh earlier this morning and we kinda stumbled into a problem she had but never noticed before. Ezraphel didn’t take it very well and now she’s still processing.”
“Okay” Liam nodded “can you say what that problem is?”
Should Stanley tell him that the reason why his fiancée is currently lined up to become a Mamono was because of how ingrained Ezraphel’s subconscious need to corrupt things are?
“…I’d rather not.”
Liam didn’t leave then as he had other news to report “by the way Amelia and I decided to leave the thing for until after we get married.”
Stanley made a face though not for the usual reasons because even if he didn’t acknowledge it he and Ezraphel were basically married in all the ways that counted. No the reason for his reaction was due to another issue.
“Right, so when is that again?”
“No specific date?”
“That’s the time frame Amelia is set on.”
Liam and Amelia have been engaged for a while now, almost two years in fact and the only reason why they haven’t officially tied the knot yet was because marriage turned out to be a more involved and complicated process than any of them thought it would. He’s not even talking about the wedding itself either but other things like applying for a marriage license. Then there was the wedding ceremony itself which, after hearing both Liam and Amelia complain about it, can only say one thing in response.
“You said it” was the muttered response as he walked away.
Afterwards the others trickled in and as it has become routine Amelia joined Ezraphel in the kitchen while the others settled in the lounge. Later on breakfast was an awkward affair at least for Stanley but thankfully they managed to get through it and afterwards they parted ways on a positive note with Stanley driving them to the airport and seeing them off. Throughout it all Stanley never got a chance to be alone with Ezraphel and it became pretty clear to him that she’s been avoiding him.
He was half expecting her to opt out of the drive and teleport straight home under some pretense or half baked excuse. He was only mildly surprise that she stuck around for the long drive home. Despite wanting to Stanley opted not to say anything and instead focused on the road. It took a lot more willpower than he’d like to admit not to initiate a conversation. Luckily between the two of them it was clear who had the better experience dealing with awkward silences.
“I spoke to Amelia about what happened.”
Stanley was really glad she decided to break the silence while they were at a traffic stop otherwise he’s pretty sure he might have caused an accident.
Ezraphel continued to speak while leaning her forehead against the window away from Stanley’s gaze.
“I told her how my magic acted based on my desire to corrupt everything and planted the compulsion within her mind to drink the tainted milk.”
Stanley cringed but asked anyway “how did she take the news?”
“She hugged me” the Lilim began slowly “she told me she didn’t care, that it didn’t matter and I should not ‘beat myself up’ over it” she finished and Staley can just imagine the air quotes.
Stanley blinked glancing at her feeling both confusion and relief “that’s good though…right?”
Ezraphel fidgeted “I suppose…”
“You don’t think so?”
“No I am relieved Amelia is okay with me despite my discrepancy…” she trailed off.
This time Ezraphel turned to look him in the eye “it bothers me Stanley. I’ve never had my magic act without my input in such a way.”
‘Oh boy I think I know where this is going.’
“Don’t dwell on it” he advised.
“How can I not?” she half snapped.
At that moment the light turned green forcing him to focus on the road.
“Look I can make an educated guess as to what you think the implications of this are. You’re probably thinking ‘how long will it be until this happens again?’ right?”
She gave a hesitant “yes” in reply.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a minute now and I think I know what’s going with you.”
“You have?” she blinked sitting a bit straighter “you do?”
“It’s just a theory but I’m pretty sure you’re just going stir-crazy.”
Ezraphel tilted her head in confusion “stir…crazy…?”
“Look it up” he ordered to which Ezraphel teleported his phone to her hand.
Stir-crazy is a phenomenon where someone becomes psychologically disturbed due to being confined to a place over a long period of time. With how serious the implications of what happened to her were you’d think the reason behind it would be a lot more profound but most times the issue tends to come from a place of simplicity.
“I don’t understand.”
That didn’t mean it was easily explained and really this was just a theory on Stanley’s part but one that made sense to him. He used stir-crazy as an example but it was more the principle of the meaning behind the word that correlates to what’s going with Ezraphel. Humans are social beings by instinct which is why they always form groups with others even when they don’t necessarily care for each other.
It’s the reason why putting them in solitude over a protracted period negatively affects them psychologically. Stanley himself wasn’t exempt from this as he is on occasion prone to having conversations with himself. The only reason why he hasn’t gone full schizo a while ago was because despite being mostly alone in the real world he has built an online community which he frequently engages with. It meant that despite living the life of a modern hermit Stanley is never truly without social interactions.
Now how does this relate to Ezraphel?
The fact of the matter is that Ezraphel has more or less been restrained and/or confined in one way or another ever since she came to earth. First it was in a literal sense as she was confined to his house for months then when they got into a relationship and when she finally got back her magic she had to restrain herself to settle at his pace. Now granted most of those were in the name of moderation and rightfully so but just as well not all of her requests had been ludicrous and indulgent.
He is of course referring to all the times he shot down her requests for them to do regular couple things outside. It all came back to his stubbornness in clinging onto the life he cultivated for himself. In his defense he didn’t think his refusal to play ball in this relationship would have such a profound effect on her and he didn’t think it did. At least not by itself but when combined with her not being able to travel despite having a severe case f wanderlust, not able to reveal her true form, not having any friends, always keeping a lid on her personality in public and generally not being able to express herself he could imagine her simmering under the surface.
Stanley was sure of this theory having some weight because it was eerily reminiscent of how he felt in his late teens and early twenties. It’s easy for him to look back on his life and pick it apart to see all the issues he had but back then you wouldn’t be able to convince him he had problems or at least convince of how severe they were. Back then Stanley recognized some of the blatant problems in his life but ignored them as little things and in the end those ‘little things’ added up.
One day he finally snapped, quit school, fell out with his parents, took some cash, got a crappy job and gambled on making his popular YouTube channel profitable. Everything worked out for him in the end but dumb luck played a major part in his success. The point is that just like him back then all the little bouts of dissatisfaction and notes of frustration with their current relationship was adding up. Throw in magic as a wild card and you have a situation where her frustration could manifest in esoteric ad dangerous ways.
As much as he hated to admit it sex and affection was no longer a viable means of sustaining Ezraphel long term not that it ever seemed to be. Stanley was too delusional and Ezraphel too naïve and optimistic to see that it wouldn’t have worked out long term. In a way it’s a good thing they recognized this problem now otherwise who knows when, where and how Ezraphel’s breaking point would manifest.
He explained an abridged version of his theory as it were and by the end Ezraphel had the expression of someone who didn’t quite agree with what someone was saying but was too polite to admonish them. Her reaction was a predictable one after all his theory was just that, a theory, and it involved a lot of assumptions and guess work on his part.
He understood that but at the same time “do you have an explanation for that bit of accidental magic then?”
In response Ezraphel bit her lip and looked away with an expression of discomfort. If it wasn’t already obvious Ezraphel did not feel comfortable with this discussion. Magic has always been an inherent part of her life to the point where she wouldn’t know what to do with herself if she ever lost access to it. The only thing that prevented her from wallowing in despair during her first month on earth was the novelty of being in another world and the challenge presented with winning Stanley over.
This was different though as Ezraphel prided herself on her sorcery. Even among her siblings she stood out as a cut above most and was lauded as having exceptional talent. According to her older sister the only thing stopping Ezraphel from attaining the same heights as the most prolific magical practitioners in their world was her own personal drive and mindset. Ezraphel simply didn’t have the ambition to attain total mastery of magic but while that didn’t matter to her she took personal pride in what she could do with magic regardless.
To insinuate that she somehow lost control of her magic was an insult but to have it confirmed and the result to have such repercussions did more than wound her pride as a sorceress. Ezraphel was born with this power, she spent her entire life utilizing it for mostly frivolous things but refused to adequately master it for reasons born of disinterest and laziness. Her mother supported her regardless and so did her sister but there was disappointment where the latter was concerned.
Morgana always hated wasted potential and she made no effort to hide what she thought of Ezraphel’s decision to not pursue the arcane arts further. In fact she said it directly to her face.
“You have the potential to become one of the most talented Dark Sorceresses of your generation and it pains me to see you waste that talent on such frivolities Ezraphel.”
At the time Ezraphel felt insulted if only because her older sister implied her pursuit of a husband was somehow ‘frivolous’ to her. So insulted she was at the insinuation that she ended up saying some harsh words back to her.
“I don’t want to sacrifice my best years alone in a tower studying dusty tomes and becoming a thousand year old spinster like you Morgana!”
Ezraphel regretted those words and the momentary look of hurt that crossed her older sisters face before she dismissed her. Oh how Ezraphel wished she could speak to her sisters at the moment.
‘I wonder what Morgana would make of Stanley’s theories.’
She couldn’t say for certain but as for what she thought of his theory Ezraphel felt mildly insulted with how it put into question her mental health. It rubbed her the wrong way that he thought a few months of constant restraint and dissatisfaction with their relationship would be enough to deteriorate her mental fortitude.
Ezraphel refused to entertain that idea and she told her Stanley as such.
“Again I ask, do you have a better explanation?”
“…” Ezraphel bit her lip in silence.
“You know what?” Stanley gritted his teeth as he glared at the road “don’t answer that. I have a plan and I actually want to go through with this plan because it’s for the best and I don’t want you to give me an excuse to pussy out.”
Ezraphel can see that the frustration he displayed wasn’t at all directed at her but rather internally.
It piqued her curiosity terribly and so she could not help but ask “what is your plan?”
In response he sighed and as traffic slowed down he turned to Ezraphel with a grave expression.
“Quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in recent memory.”
~End Of The Honeymoon Phase~
It’s been a month since their ill-fated weekend outing with the end results of said outing being both disastrous and fortuitous depending on one’s perception. For her Stanley the outing was, in his own words, a complete shit show and Ezraphel could agree to a certain extent. Not fully though because Ezraphel got to meet and hang out with her Stanley’s friends, gained some interesting knowledge and perspective and made a close friend in Amelia whom she did not need to hide her true self.
Regardless of what she thought however her Stanley came to the conclusion that they needed to change their current relationship dynamic. To that end he made the decision to contribute more to the development of their relationship. That’s right after much deliberation her Stanley has decided that the best course of action for them was for him to actively take her out of the house for more than just grocery runs. This meant spending less time in his office and more time with Ezraphel doing normal things that couples do but outside.
Naturally Ezraphel jumped at the opportunity and it’s good that she did because while her Stanley held conviction with his declaration old habits die hard and it was up to her to make sure he stayed the course. Now a month later and they have gone out a total of a dozen times though most these outings were less like dates and more like sightseeing tours as Stanley took her to various places in the city. Not today however as it was a Saturday they will be going on another traditional date this time to a movie and as expected Ezraphel was very excited for it.
The Lilim hums the tune of an upbeat pop song as she steps out of the pool sized bath. With a wave of her hand across her body the water sloughs off and is deposited into the bath with a careless flick. A moment later a portal opens and Ezraphel steps through into the bedroom still naked as the day she was born before taking a seat at the vanity.
Ezraphel didn’t own much in the way of cosmetic products because how can you improve upon perfection? but her own vanity aside there really wasn’t a need for her to use cosmetics in the first place. They don’t really add much to her overall beauty. On the other hand over the course of her stay on earth the Lilim has found a practical use for them. The problem with being a Lilim in this world is the same problem she had on Eos but to a higher degree. As the only Lilim on earth Ezraphel is quite literally the most beautiful and alluring woman in the world.
Humans don’t get to be as beautiful as Ezraphel unless their visage is ‘digitally enhanced’ and even then they never really match up to a Lilim’s supernatural allure. The problem is that it’s one thing to see it through a screen but humans when met with that kind of beauty in person cannot help but to take a second look. Her Stanley once told her that she was so beautiful that it was uncanny and even without her natural magical charm effect she was bound to draw attention to herself. Ezraphel didn’t mind the attention however her Stanley did not appreciate it, especially when some are brazen enough to take pictures of her.
This is where the cosmetics come in.
Through careful application of enchantments Ezraphel was able to make it so that the cosmetics applied to her actually lowered the effect of her magically enhanced allure. When fully and correctly applied her beauty became that of a human albeit a human who was born with incredible genes and dedicates a great deal of her time and effort into maintaining her appearance to the highest degree.
Personally Ezraphel didn’t need the enchanted cosmetics as her magic made for a far simpler and more versatile alternative. This invention wasn’t necessarily for her however but for Amelia since there was no guarantee she would be able to maintain a disguise spell that not only hid her mamono features but lowers her beauty as well. Yes there is a difference between the two and one is more mana intensive than the other to maintain.
Other than that Ezraphel has also found that the action of applying makeup makes for a rather soothing endeavor. She likened it to a form of artistic expression similar to painting and while Ezraphel was no artist like her older sister Marie she could appreciate the similarities. Despite the fact that she was essentially making herself visually less attractive there was something so very appealing about the process itself.
“Perfect” smiled Ezraphel as she viewed the comparatively inferior visage of her human disguise now with a light smattering of makeup, lipstick and eyeliner.
Moving away from the vanity the disguised Lilim hummed a tune as she strode into the walk-in closet to get her wardrobe together.
He distinctly remembered telling Ezraphel that doing what needed to be done was going to be one of the hardest things he had to do. And as it turns out he was not wrong in the slightest as in the past month Stanley had gone from a shut in to a domestic tourist with how many places he’s been visiting as of late. It was his fault though because while he had the idea to do it he didn’t exactly have a concrete plan of action on how it was going to go down.
Fortunately (or not) Ezraphel was more than happy to assist him with coming up with a plan and forcing him to stick with it as well. The first step of said plan saw him reorganizing his work for maximum efficiency. As someone who has been working at his own pace for years the switch to an actual schedule was jarring. Even more jarring was finding out that when all his work is properly organized into a schedule Stanley actually has quite a bit of free time.
There was no hiding this fact from Ezraphel not that he tried and Stanley reluctantly allowed himself to be swept up in her pace. The result of this ended up with him leaving the house three times this week alone on outings with Ezraphel. To say that Stanley wasn’t exactly enthused about all this initially would be an understatement but needs must be met and so he swallowed the reluctance (and irritation) and dealt with it to mixed results.
Annoyed as he was with having to go outside frequently Stanley could not say that he didn’t enjoy himself in the end and it all came down to Ezraphel. Stanley could not stress how pivotal Ezraphel’s overall attitude towards all this made the whole endeavor not just bearable but even enjoyable. Much like during their movie nights Stanley chose to steer his focus on his girlfriend’s reaction and Ezraphel did not disappoint.
He thought he’d seen her enthusiastic before in bed and on their first date but that paled in comparison to when she actually went out and explored. The woman’s boundless optimism and sense of wonder at literally almost anything and everything served as a balm to his temperance. Her enthusiasm and optimism was practically infectious and Stanley found himself lost in the moments of their outings more times than not. Oh sure he was highly critical of them but those thoughts were mostly prevalent after the fact.
Frequent dates weren’t the only new things they’ve been doing this past month. Ezraphel has begun Stanley’s magic training and unfortunately they’ve hit something of a snag there. See Ezraphel was quite enthusiastic about it however there was only so much boundless enthusiasm can do and it turns out Ezraphel wasn’t the best teacher. Now that isn’t to say Stanley wasn’t learning anything, thankfully Ezraphel had multiple teachers in her life and excellent memory recall so she was able to reiterate the theory.
The issues come with the practical application, casting spells that is. It was a bit unfair to call her a bad teacher it’s more like the way how she learned to cast spells was fundamentally different from how most others actually did. Turns out that in addition to being a Lilim, a race who is fundamentally more in tune with the arcane than most others Ezraphel is also something of a prodigy. So much so in fact that she practically mastered her own version of spell casting that could not be replicated by Stanley.
He tried to do it he really did but Stanley was quite literally incapable of copying Ezraphel’s method of casting spells. As such Stanley only had theory and a very rudimentary knowledge on application which really sucked.
Honestly he hasn’t been this disappointed since BlizzCon 2018.
But all was not lost however as despite being very difficult did not equate to being impossible. It just meant that his dream of becoming a magic slinging badass would take a bit more time but until then…
He had a date to get to.
Looking from his position on the couch to his girlfriend Stanley scowled “are you going to take a ridiculously long time to get ready every time we go out?”
“Well not everyone can throw on any old thing and be satisfied Stanley.”
She wasn’t exactly wrong but at the same time “you can literally snap your fingers to clean and dress yourself. At this point I know you’re just taking long on purpose.”
“That is untrue” she defended “I simply do not think this warrants the use of my magic” and before he could comment she continues “understand that each time we go out I meticulously assemble my wardrobe.”
As she said this she did a little twirl and poses showing off a blue low shoulder long sleeve bodycon dress that seemed to adhere to her curves and black thigh high boots that highlighted her legs. Her hair was in a low ponytail with bangs on either side framing her face. No matter how many times he’s been in this exact same situation it’s always an experience seeing Ezraphel dressed to impress.
Unfortunately Ezraphel knew that and Stanley realized he messed up because he’d been staring at her for too long. That smug smirk of satisfaction was positively insufferably and the distinct feeling of wanting to pull her down to her knees and stick his dick in her mouth flashed through his mind before he shook it off.
‘I know what I’m going to do when I come back.’
And judging from that familiar glint in her eye so too did Ezraphel.
“Let’s go already.”
“We still have plenty of time” Ezraphel reminded.
She was right and in truth Stanley’s impatience and irritability was less about Ezraphel and more about what they would be doing for their date. Stanley was about to bring Ezraphel to watch her first movie at the theater. Stanley himself hasn’t been to a theater in years and he didn’t feel any particular need to break that cycle. He had no idea what the hell was going on with Hollywood but most movies nowadays were absolute dog water and definitely not worth the price of admission.
It didn’t help that he would also have to pay for the inferior and overpriced schlock they served as food. That was unfair all things considered since he’s been spoiled on Ezraphel’s cooking and he didn’t necessarily have to since he could go quite a while without food. Unfortunately he was committed to giving Ezraphel the full movie going experience and that meant popcorn, hot dogs, pretzels and coke. He already knew for a fact that she was absolutely going to go HAM at the concession stand.
Just thinking about it was enough to make him grumble at the expenses for what was very likely going to be a subpar movie experience. Before his thoughts could get too dark he felt a pair of slender hands grasp his shoulders. He almost let out a groan when said hands began massaging him but managed to stamp down the impulse to look over his shoulder at his grinning girlfriend.
“What are you doing?”
“You are much too tense Stanley, relax.”
“How am I supposed to relax knowing I’m about to blow through at least a hundred bucks for nothing?”
Stanley was someone who liked to receive value for his money. Even frivolous spending is okay in his book because at least it came with the expectation that whatever crap you spent it on at least made the person happy even if it was just for the moment. This however was not Stanley’s definition of a good time.
“It won’t be for nothing Stanley” Ezraphel soothed “at least take solace in the fact that if this does not go well I am unlikely to ever ask for this again.”
…fuck she’s right.
“I can’t believe you talked me into this” he grumbled.
That’s right Ezraphel was the one who suggested they go see a movie. Why? Because she saw a trailer for a movie that was currently in theaters which caught her eye and figured she might as well kill two birds with one stone. She would get to see the movie that caught her eye as well as get her first experience at the theaters. As for the movie itself Stanley was shocked to find that it was actually-
Just then a generic ringtone interrupted Stanley’s thoughts.
Reaching into his pocket to pull out his phone Stanley scowled as he viewed the screen not recognizing the number. A sudden pronounced weight on his shoulder had him looking to find Ezraphel with her chin resting on his shoulder their cheeks pressed against each other. Rare are the times when she hears Stanley’s phone ringing as such she is immensely curious about who was calling him.
“Who is it?” Ezraphel asked not seeing a name for the caller.
“No idea” he paused then scowled before accepting the call.
‘If I hear an Indian guy on the other line I’m giving them the Eric Cartman treatment.’
Curse them out and make a fart noise before hanging up.
It’s the absolute least a scammer deserves.
After putting the phone to his ears and answering however both his expression and the atmosphere changes after the first sentence spoken by the person on the other line.
“Yeah, this is him” Stanley answered seriously while separating himself from Ezraphel.
Ezraphel for her part watched him, only picking up half of the conversation being had.
“How long?” he started walking towards the garage with Ezraphel following behind.
“Yeah I’m on my way” he answered before hanging up.
“Get in the car” ordered the man without preamble as he opened the garage’s automatic doors and immediately went to the driver’s seat.
“What is going on?” asked the Lilim as she looked at him with clear concern.
He said nothing as he started the car waiting for the garage doors to fully open. She could tell he was trying to keep himself in check however she could sense the emotions rolling off of him. It was an ugly mixture of anxiety, confusion, fear and anger which only seemed to become worse with each passing second the garage doors took to open. Finally Ezraphel had enough and with a flex of her magic the car died down causing Stanley’s gaze to shift to her with a scowl.
Whatever he was about to say however died on his lips as he saw the naked concern on her face. Seeing this Stanley closed his eyes, took a deep calming breath and spoke words that made Ezraphel gasp in shock.
“There’s been an accident” he began while fidgeting in contained anxiousness “my sister’s in the hospital.”
~End Of Volume Two~
Author’s Notes: So the second half of this volume did not go how I originally planned. The weekend trip was meant to be a simple affair that lasted three chapters at the very most but things kind of spiraled as I put fingers to keyboard. Compared to the first volume where events are spread out over a long period of time here I just crammed a lot into just a couple of days with most of it centered around a single thing. Not that I regretted it in hindsight since this is a pivotal character moment for both Stanley and Ezraphel.
This is the end of the volume so I will be pausing releases but I won’t be taking a break from the story itself. With that said I have been slacking on my other stories so don’t expect another public release soon. The good news is I already have the next chapter up on my Patreon and will be making updates at least once a month at: www.Patreon.com/Streggaeworks864 Views