Sirio was nothing like Baxel. That much became clear in the first five minutes of “training.” First off, Sirio was respectful, treating Damian as if he actually cared what Damian thought of him. Granted, that was probably an act, but still. He was stiff, but polite and clear. There was no “figure it out for yourself” or screaming matches to elicit powers. Instead, Sirio had a way of explaining things that actually worked.
Had Damian not hated him with the burning passion of a thousand exploding suns, he might have actually sought Sirio’s lessons. That was, if he didn’t know that Sirio was an evil person in the guise of an angel. Which he was.
Damian, for his part, played the perfect good apprentice. It was a struggle, especially since he was so loyal to Baxel and just dying to get back to his true master (ok, I’m just guessing at that one), but he managed.
Time passed. With every successive day, Damian became more and more disgusted when Sirio’s face showed up at his door. He had been repressing his anger for the sake of upholding his act, and Damian knew that Sirio could see him in the brightly lit room even at night. It was getting hard to keep up appearances twenty four seven, and Damian couldn’t help but wonder where Baxel was and whether or not he was looking for him. After all, Damian knew he was just a disposable human to Baxel, but some part of him hoped that the demon felt some sort of attachment or investment and would come break him out of here.
As much as he hated Baxel, at least Damian was clear about where he stood with him. And, all things considered, Damian thought he quite possibly hated Sirio more.
“Light is different from shadows,” Sirio said during the third day. Damian had been counting. “It moves more in beams than tendrils, which I prefer anyway. Also, it can move a lot faster than shadows. The downfall is that it is harder to make it corporeal.”
“I can tell already,” Damian commented as he shot another beam of light at a target on the wall. He was actually getting decent at this. “So what else can you do with light?”
Sirio just gave a reserved smile. “I’ll teach you more in time. I can’t give away all my secrets in the first week, can I?” (Oops.) He continued, “Master what I put in front of you, and we’ll move on to more exciting things.”
Damian nodded, but cursed internally. He wasn’t planning on being here any longer than absolutely possible, but he wanted to gain as much knowledge and discover as many of Sirio’s secrets as he could. He was certain they’d come in handy later on.
And that’s when Damian started diverging from the prescribed course material. When Sirio left him alone for the night, Damian couldn’t sleep on account of both the bright lights and the burning hatred he harbored in the pit of his stomach. He lay awake but with his eyes closed, getting acquainted with the light, but still feeling for the shadows. His only goal was to get familiar with the feeling so as to be able to connect to his powers more readily when the time came. It was several hours before he heard it.
“…Damian… progressing along nicely…” a voice drifted quietly, then fell off into nothingness. Damian’s eyes snapped open. The room was empty and utterly silent. For several long beats, he lay there, unmoving, then forced himself to relax. Perhaps he had imagined it.
Damian closed his eyes again and felt for the light. After a beat, he heard the voice once more. This time, it occurred to him that maybe he was picking it up through his connection with light, just as Baxel could do with the shadows. Damian focused a little harder and the voice faded away. Panicking, he forced himself to relax again, and it returned, stronger.
“… whether he’s ready or not, we can’t risk waiting any longer. Baxel is bound to find the location soon.” There was a pause. “No, I don’t think he needs powers for this, but I wanted to make sure, just in case. Also, it is essential that I have his loyalty. In a few days, I think that, too, will be secured.” There was another pause. “Why do you need to know where it is?” The silence was longer this time. “I understand. The coordinates are 45° 30' 29.0736'' N, 73° 36' 3.3516'' W.” There was a final pause. “Of course I’m specific, did you expect me to just tell you ‘Canada?’ Now, enough about that…”
Damian recited those numbers over and over in his head, wishing he had something to write with. He couldn’t focus on both the numbers and listening in on the conversation, so he let the light connection go. Immediately, he patted all of the pockets in his jacket, hoping he had, for some reason, left a permanent marker in there or something. There was a lump in his breast pocket, and Damian unzipped it, remembering then the one weapon he had: a small pocket knife. Well, it wasn’t a quill and ink, but it would do.
Hoping that Sirio was too preoccupied with his phone conversation to be spying on him then, Damian hurriedly flipped open the knife and scratched the coordinates into the rubber sole of his shoe.
When footsteps passed the door a minute later, Damian pretended to be asleep. He crossed his fingers and prayed to the god that apparently didn’t exist that Sirio couldn’t tell when people were listening in. If he could, well, Damian was screwed.
The next day, Damian held his breath as Sirio walked in and leveled a look at him.
“Did you sleep well?” Sirio asked.
The question seemed loaded. “Decently,” Damian replied, trying to keep his voice from giving anything away.
Sirio looked at him for a minute, and just as Damian was sure he was about to call him on it, Sirio said, “Good. Now there’s something I need to discuss with you.”
That didn’t sound promising.
“Have a seat,” Sirio said, indicating the bench.
That sounded even less promising. Damian sat.
Sirio clasped his hands behind his back and paced across the room. “So, I know that you are aware that Baxel intended to use you as an accomplice in stealing a certain weapon.” He looked at Damian. “A very dangerous weapon. No doubt he planned to frame you for the crime, but that’s beside the point,” Sirio added, waving a hand.
“Doesn’t sound beside the point,” Damian grumbled, remembering that he was supposed to be sucking up to Sirio and hating Baxel, however painful that might be.
“Well, true, it’s not entirely a dismissible point, but it is more or less to be… expected from him,” Sirio said. “Regardless, I’m not sure how much he told you about this weapon…” he paused, obviously expecting Damian to volunteer information. He didn’t. “…but it is highly dangerous and extremely powerful. There is no way we can let it fall into his hands. That would spell the possible destruction of the entire human race.”
“That sounds a bit dramatic.”
Sirio inclined his head. “But not unwarranted. Now, I have a lead on where this weapon is, but it’s crucial that we get there before Baxel does. For that, I’m going to need your help. Will you come with me?”
Damian wanted to narrow his eyes in suspicion, to call Sirio out on not being as noble and righteous as he sounded, and to tell him that there was no way he would ever help him, but he couldn’t. Instead, Damian feverishly hoped it didn’t break his promise to Baxel when he lied, “Of course. Baxel is a monster; we have to stop him.”
“Correct,” Sirio said, seeming glad that Damian had agreed so easily.
“One question though.”
Damian asked, “You’re an angel. Why would you need my help?”
Sirio took no time at all in answering this. He must have figured Damian would ask that. “The place to which we are going was designed to make everyone who enters equal. There will no doubt be traps that even I, with my considerable powers, cannot hope to foresee. If we plan to reach the weapon and remove it, an extra pair of eyes might very well make or break our success.”
Damian wondered how much of that was straight bullshit.
“In addition,” Sirio continued, “we have only been working together a short amount of time, but I can see that you have a great deal of talent. I’ll admit I’m curious to see how you operate in the field.”
“Well, I hope I can live up to your expectations,” Damian said. It took all of his effort to make that come out casual and not dripping with sarcasm.
Sirio smiled. “I’m sure you will.”
Like hell he would.