By consensus, I and Will had agreed that he wasn’t going to tell me when he’d make his move in advance. After all, it wouldn’t hurt me…I wasn’t the target. And that way I could act like nothing different was happening.
Of course, it didn’t work out quite like that. Of course it didn’t. No plan survives contact with the enemy, or however they put it.
This plan certainly didn’t. I hadn’t forgotten, and I’m pretty sure William hadn’t forgotten, that we were dealing with a demon lord, if not a prince, not some petty imp. He still caught us off guard.
He made his move towards William right in public, right outside the school gate, but to an outsider it would have looked like a bratty teenager getting in an older guy’s face. I could sense and almost see the reality, though. I could smell brimstone.
Which meant I had to either move in public, or let him harass the priest and trust that Jesus would protect the guy. I might have murmured a prayer myself, but something told me it was a time to rely on my own resources. I shifted position, then strode over towards the two of them.
“Leave him alone.”
“You shouldn’t hide behind him.”
My lips quirked. “I’m not interested, I’m never going to be interested, and maybe we can all discuss this somewhere with fewer listening ears?”
Fewer people to get hurt, I meant. William was probably ready to act, I trusted him to be ready to act, but he had backed away from Martin and for the first time I saw doubt in his eyes.
Doubt would mess things up. I didn’t have my sword for obvious reasons. But I could step between the two of them, bodycheck Martin away a little.
He definitely smelled of brimstone. “And I don’t like your cologne,” I informed him.
“You should. It’s better than…”
I slapped him. It was more an impulse than anything else. I wasn’t even sure I was going to do it until I had done it. My palm stung from the contact. “Go home. Leave me alone. Find some other way to get your political goals.”
It was the wrong move, and I knew it almost right away. “And leave a woman with such spirit.”
Of course a demon would like that sort of thing, but it had freed up Will. He was starting to do his thing. I could feel it. A tension in the air.
And so could Martin, because he abruptly spun away, and a moment later, before even I could react, he had a ninth grader up against him, a knife to the boy’s throat. “Stop it.”
And all of this was in public. He was blowing his disguise, but he could probably come up with a new one. And if I moved, the kid was dead.
If I moved. I had to deal with this somehow…I had to. It was, after all, all my fault.