m/m urban fantasy
Chapter 3: Naming Ritual
Taylor awoke to sticky sheets and a throbbing headache. He looked at his sheets with dismay. Had he actually cum from a demon’s kiss? He didn’t remember that part at all. He balled up the sheets and leapt down to the ground. His roommate was nowhere to be found, luckily, as he quickly remade the bed with clean sheets. He took a shower and reflected on the night. He kept staring at his blood-red birthmark. It had really happened. It wasn’t just a dream. Well, it was a dream, but a demon dream, not a regular dream. He had bonded with a demon. And not just any demon: a prince and an incubus. What would people say? How could he tell anyone?
As the steam surrounded him in the shower, he was reminded of the mist in the dream and wondered how much control his demon would have. Demons lived inside dreams, but powerful ones could control their humans’ perceptions of the outside world. And the ones that took on physical forms could perform magic. Most succubi took on a human form; would his incubus take on a human form as well? And how much energy would that require? More importantly, what would Taylor have to do to produce that much energy?
He sped through the shower and was drying his hair in front of the mirror when he caught a glimpse of someone else in the bathroom. It wasn’t unusual, but he hadn’t heard the person come in. He reached out and wiped some of the steam from the mirror and jumped at the sight of his demon staring at him. He turned and saw only empty space beside him, but when he looked at the mirror, there he was.
“I can appear to you in reflective surfaces,” the demon said. “But only to you, and only you can hear me.”
“Great, now people will think I’m crazy,” Taylor muttered. “What are you doing here?”
“Watching you,” the demon said with a grin.
Taylor blushed and tightened the towel around his waist. Had the demon been watching him the entire time he was in the shower? It was unnerving having a demon who was so interested in his body and his sexuality.
“You haven’t given me a name yet, you know,” the demon said.
“Oh, right,” Taylor said. “I just met you. I haven’t found one that suits you yet. Have you had humans before?”
“Of course,” the demon said.
“What did they call you?”
“The name should come from you,” the demon chided. “It is part of the bond between us. But take your time, if you must. I don’t want a name you aren’t pleased with.”
Another student came into the bathroom and Taylor stopped talking. Luckily, the demon didn’t seem to be in a mood to chat either, although he remained in the mirror the entire time Taylor brushed his teeth and hair and prepared for the day. Taylor wondered if the other student, an upperclassman who proudly bore a red birthmark, had to put up with a demon in his mirror as well. Taylor returned to his room and dressed quickly, donning a long sleeved shirt that would cover his birthmark. He knew he should be showing off his new status, but he didn’t know how to explain it to anyone so he would keep it a secret for now. Everyone would just assume he was ashamed at not having been picked the first night. No one would know it was actually shame over who he had been picked by.
He could almost feel the demon’s displeasure at his thoughts, but he couldn’t help it. He wasn’t ready for the world to know that he was gay yet, and besides, he didn’t want to become the enemy of all of those squealing girls from yesterday. His first class of the day went smoothly, and then he went to eat lunch with Natalie. He already knew this would be the first test, because she would be bound to notice that his birthmark was covered and want to know why.
The cafeteria was noisy, and he scooped up the most edible looking dishes there: a slice of apple pie and some pizza. The apple pie would be good, he knew, and there were days when it was the only thing he ate, but the pizza was hit or miss. Still, it was better than the other options. He sat at his usual table near the window, and watched as Natalie made her way through the line, ending up with the same meal as his. She wore a short-sleeved shirt and a happy smile, and as she drew closer he saw that she held her hand so that her wrist was prominently displayed. Her birthmark was bright red.
A grin spread across Taylor’s face. So Natalie had gotten a demon on the first night. That ought to show those girls who made fun of her all the time. Getting a demon so quickly would surely make her more popular, if that was what she wanted. As she made her way across the cafeteria towards him, several upperclassmen stopped her to congratulate her, and she looked happier than he had ever seen her look before. She finally reached him, took in his long sleeves with a sympathetic smile, and sat down looking for all the world like a queen.
“So tell me about your demon,” Taylor said, delighted to be able to ask and also delighted to know that she would be too preoccupied to ask about his night.
“Her name is Ariel,” Natalie said.
“Female? That’s cool.”
“Yeah. She feeds on learning, so the more I study and read and do all the things I love to do, the stronger she’ll become. She thinks that if continue my studies, she’ll be able to take on a physical form.”
Taylor smiled. Those were the sort of things you were supposed to discuss with your demon. He didn’t know any of that about his demon, except that his demon fed on pleasure because he was an incubus and he assumed at some point the demon would take on a human form, simply because most succubi did and an incubus was a lot like a succubus.
“Do you know what form?”
“Not yet. Apparently we’ll choose the form together, when it comes time. Oh, it’s so exciting. You don’t know what it’s like, Taylor. She’s in my head now, and I can hear her sometimes. It’s like having a friend right inside you, all the time.”
“That must be nice,” he said. His demon felt more like a creeper, stalking him and watching him shower, but perhaps that was the difference between an incubus and a regular demon.
“So did any succubi come and visit you last night?” she asked.
“Actually, yes,” Taylor said hesitantly, thinking of the scantily clad demons dancing in a circle around him. “But I didn’t want any of them.”
“I can’t imagine you with a sex demon,” she said with a laugh. “They should have known they were wasting their time on you. But remember, you do have to choose someone to be your demon.”
“I know,” Taylor said. “You don’t have to worry about me.”
“Well, I’ve got to get going,” Natalie said, tossing aside her pizza. She had devoured the pie, but the pizza just wasn’t good today and Taylor had been pushing his around on his plate as well. “Everyone who bonded with a demon last night is supposed to go to a special meeting at 1pm. I guess I’ll see you later.”
Taylor waved and waited a few more minutes before leaving. He headed to the bathroom. There was a large mirror there and hopefully some privacy so he could talk to his demon. He needed to find a name for the demon. He kept running through potential names in his head, but none of them sounded right. It needed to be a strong name, for a strong demon, but something he could say lovingly as well. Because as much as the thought made him squirm, he knew there would come a time when he would want to say the name as an endearment.
The bathroom was empty when he entered and he went straight to the mirror, where the demon was waiting for him.
“You didn’t tell her about me,” the demon said with just a hint of anger. “I understand why you aren’t telling the others, but you could have told your friend.”
“Once she finds out, everyone will find out. She’ll know that I’ve bonded, and she won’t be able to hide it. I just need more time to get used to this.”
“You don’t need more time; you need more courage.”
“Let me handle this my own way.”
“It is a joint decision. You refusing to acknowledge me reflects poorly on me.”
“It has nothing to do with you.”
“Problems, Taylor?” a different voice said, and Taylor whirled. He hadn’t noticed Mr. Hill enter the bathroom. Taylor blushed and stared at the mirror, but his demon was gone. He and Mr. Hill were alone.
“I was just, er,”
“Talking to your demon,” Mr. Hill finished. “Let me see your birthmark.”
Reluctantly, Taylor pulled up his sleeve. If it were any other teacher, he would have made an excuse and left, but Mr. Hill terrified him. He couldn’t disobey Mr. Hill. Mr. Hill studied his birthmark for several long seconds, then looked up at him.
“And why is it that you don’t want people knowing about your demon?”
“I’m not comfortable with it, that’s all.”
“You’ve been raised all your life to be comfortable with a demon, and if you really weren’t comfortable you wouldn’t have been able to bond with your demon. Is it a succubus? Is that why you’re embarrassed?”
Taylor blushed and stared at the ground. “No, sir.”
“Then what is it?”
“He’s an incubus.”
Mr. Hill’s eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline. “You bonded with the prince of demons? That incubus?”
“That is important news, important news indeed. You need to go to the meeting for new demon partners in order to learn how to nurture your bond, because you are going about it all wrong. What is his name?”
“I don’t have one yet, sir.”
“That is unacceptable. You have been given a great responsibility and a great honor, and you must respect that. You think of a name immediately while we head to the meeting. You will not be allowed to miss it.”
“Sir,” Taylor said, not knowing why Mr. Hill would care but hoping that there was a shred of empathy in the teacher, “I just don’t want everyone to know that I have an incubus. You know, because I’m a guy.”
There was a flash of what might have been pity in Mr. Hill’s eyes, but his jaw was set. “Guy or not, bonding with the prince of demons is a momentous occasion. You will have a place of honor among the demonborn. Perhaps that will lessen the prejudice that some may feel about you having an incubus for a demon.”
Taylor stared at the ground. Mr. Hill was set; there was no way out. He sighed and obediently began thinking of names for his demon while they headed towards the meeting. Gabriel, he thought. Then he could shorten it to Gabe when he wanted to be more casual. It was a regal enough name to please everyone, including the demon, but still with a casual enough nickname so that Taylor would feel comfortable using it.
“Will that be my name, then?” a voice in his head said. “You don’t have to speak; you can just think.”
Yes, Taylor thought loudly. Your name is Gabriel.
A chill swept over him and he paused. Something shifted inside him, as if the demon were actually changing to fit the name, and suddenly the demon felt much more approachable and human. He was no longer the demon, after all, he was Gabriel, and though it was a slight difference, it felt like something major had been decided.
“Thank you, Taylor,” Gabriel said. “This will be a good name for me.”
Taylor came back to reality with a start when Mr. Hill placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Did you name your demon? Good. What is his name, then?”
“Gabriel,” Taylor said.
Mr. Hill seemed surprised. “Well, that is an interesting name. Either you’ve been studying your history or you made an unusual choice. Either way, we’ll have to watch out for you in the future. You should come talk to me sometime, after your demon has taken form.”
Taylor’s brow furrowed. He had no idea what Mr. Hill was talking about, and neither did Gabriel. But then they were entering the classroom where about twenty of his peers were seated, and Taylor blushed as Mr. Hill pushed him inside. He took a seat next to Natalie, keeping his eyes down. She looked at him curiously, and gasped when she saw that his birthmark was red.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she hissed.
He just shook his head. Mr. Hill, in the meantime, went up to the front of the room and exchanged words with Ms. Winde, who was in charge of the meeting. Taylor couldn’t hear what they were saying but he knew they were talking about him because Ms. Winde gasped and then looked over at him, causing most of the students to look at him as well. He wanted to shrivel up and die and he felt Gabriel comforting him as best the demon could. Then Mr. Hill left, and Ms. Winde gathered everyone’s attention back to her.
She began talking about the responsibilities they now had because of their bonds with their demons, and even though Taylor knew he should be paying attention, he began scribbling an apology to Natalie on the back of some of his notes from class. He snuck it to her when Ms. Winde was turned the other way and he saw some of the disappointment vanish from Natalie’s face. He would have preferred to talk to Natalie and tell her why he had hidden his demon, but he could tell that the written explanation of his embarrassment at bonding with an incubus was just as reassuring to his friend. She smiled and squeezed his hand, and for a moment the world was at peace.
Then Ms. Winde turned directly to Taylor. “We even have a royal demon in last night’s bondings. Taylor, would you like to say anything about your demon?”