When Devil came to, he was already on his feet and mostly up the flight of stairs leading towards his and Seline’s apartment.
The knife wound in his stomach was becoming unbearably painful the more he moved, but he’d run up the stairs anyway. Clearly it had been enough to make him black out for a few moments, but he was still running to the door. He had to get there before the assassin did. And while every step was a wave of agony he ran ahead, his coat billowing up behind him as he all but kicked open the wooden door.
The place was as he had left it– a home, still scattered with Seline’s things even months after she had vanished. Time had moved all too quickly since then. Devil had convinced himself he hadn’t cleaned up because he didn’t have time. But Eleria wouldn’t stop crying if he started putting her mother’s clothes away.
It was too quiet. But Devil could hear a soft noise coming from just past the doorway into the bedrooms and he recognized it instantly.
Out tottered a small child, barely old enough to walk, her dark hair a mess and her tail hanging limply behind her. She was clutching onto a black sweater far too big for her, the one she had been sleeping with ever since her mother vanished. “Daddy?” She called weakly.
Before Devil could answer, he saw the tiny flecks of red light reflecting off of Eleria’s shirt.
He was instantly charging. Before he was even conscious of it, Devil had dropped himself on top of his daughter, clinging tightly to her while he shielded her from the incoming bullets.
He felt an instant burst of pain, then another, as bullets thudded into his back one after the other. Soon enough he could hear muffled crashes and gunshots coming from outside the apartment door. Backup. Hopefully.
But he couldn’t move. He could feel the blood pooling around him, now seeping into Eleria’s pajamas as she frantically sobbed into his ear. Devil had collapsed onto his knees and was already falling over onto his side before he could let her go.
But she was crying– she was unhurt– and that’s what mattered.
“Daddy-!” Eleria cried as she pulled herself out from under him. She tried rolling him over, but couldn’t get anywhere with her tiny, weak arms.
Devil could get out a soft wheeze in response. He could still hear rummaging from outside the apartment. It had to be backup. They weren’t shooting anymore. “Ele,” he croaked. “It’s… it’ll be okay. I’ll be okay…”
He could feel tears burning in his eyes. Whether it was from pain, misery, or fear, he couldn’t tell.
It was a familiar voice from a familiar accent, but Devil was too weak to turn and see who it was.
“Holy shit, Devil…”
He felt more hands on him, trying desperately to check him over. But his eyes were going black, and all he could hear was Eleria crying.