HEREIN ARE MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE DEMON'S SURRENDER
Also, they are in the order she posted them, not plot order, so I hope that isn't massively confusing.
If I forgot any, let me know!
That pearl, the one that was a barrier to the power of demons, meant Mae’s freedom. And Sin would take it if she could.
"How're you doing, kid?" she asked, lifting herself into a sitting position and watching as Lydie tried on a blouse.
"Good," Sin said. "I know you gave yourself a headache today, but don't worry, all right? I've got some money. I'm going to find us a new place. It'll be just you and me and Toby. It'll be fun.”
"Well, actually," Lydie said, tucking back the wisps of her blond hair and folding her trailing sleeves, trying to look official. "I was thinking it might be okay to stay here. You could marry Alan."
"Sixteen's a bit young for marriage," Sin said. "I want you to remember that for the future. Did Alan say something to-" ~~~
"And then," Lydie proceeded blithely, coming to lean against the bed. "When I’m older. I could marry Nick."
''Oh sweetheart," Sin said, and drew Lydie between her legs, hugging her with her knees. "You know those talks we have, about how you are completely fabulous?"
"Yes," Lydie said, still fussing with her sleeves.
"And how some boys are pretty but kind of too much trouble to waste all your fabulousness on? I mean, maybe the fabulousness of one night, but they're not really worth a year's fabulousness. That's a big fabulous investment. Nick is one of those boys. In fact, he is their demon king."
"But he has killed literally thousands of people," Lydie said earnestly. "That's better than being pretty. Although I do think he is."
"Lydie, you know what you're not to do, don't you?"
"Don’t waste your fabulousness," Lydie droned in a bored sing-song.
"Or I will beat you like a gong," Sin told her.
'I love you,' Alan said, staring out at the night. 'I never dreamed you didn't know, and then I couldn't tell you. I didn't think I would ever be able to tell you.”
Sin found her mouth curling. She hadn't thought she could have it back, this being senselessly, inexpressibly happy. 'Now I know.'
'It was like lying bound and gagged and dying in the dark,' Alan continued. His voice kept snagging, wrecked and no longer beautiful. Sin didn't know if he would sing again. 'I wouldn’t have been able to hold on, if it wasn't for you. I've never had something human to hold onto before.'
'Now you do,' said Sin, and her slow steps brought her to him at last.
She stood looking up at him, returned to her past hope, at his dear tired face. Happiness spread through her, tranquil and warm, as if it would never leave again.
He bowed his head down and kissed her, a deep sweet kiss that went on and on, sharing breath, as if they never had to break apart. When they did, Sin only drew back a little and looked into his eyes. They had not changed at all, still dark steadfast blue and dear.
'Alan,' she whispered.
He whispered back: 'I’m here.'
Sin gathered him closer again, breached the gap of a fraction of an inch between them by pulling at his shirt until he was leaning against her, they were leaning on each other, and his mouth was almost touching hers again.
Sin said: 'Then hold on.'
'Tell me, about Alan,' Nick said in her ear. 'How you – how do you-'
He whispered 'feel' low, as if it was the guiltiest secret imaginable.
He took a breath that hitched in his chest, not ragged but torn clean in two, and that sign of pain made him reality rather than nightmare. She lifted her hands and touched him, his shoulders solid and warm against her palms, and drew him down closer to her.
She whispered, 'I miss him so much.'
Nick kissed her mouth. He kissed her slowly, deliberately, as if he could do this all evening, but there was a tense set to his shoulders and a hint of teeth that made her realize he was just as on edge as she. They were on the edge together.
Sin took handfuls of the worn cotton of his shirt and pulled him in tighter, their mouths angled together hard. She was trembling: he wasn't. She closed her eyes and threw herself into darkness, heart going fast as a runaway train, rushing towards disaster.
Through the slow thorough kiss, through the thunder in her ears, she heard the tiny, traitorous sound as the door creaked open. For a moment Nick’s arms closed around her harder, the lines of his body suddenly prison bars, but Sin yanked herself free.
She stood facing Anzu and breathing hard. He stood looking at her, his face a beautiful version of Alan's, all vivid colors and cruel edges. Just now, he looked almost bewildered, like a cat bitten by a mouse. She wanted to keep him on that bright edge between hurt and rage.
'Alan,' she said, longing for and hating him.
Anzu's eyes narrowed. 'No.' His voice went glass-smooth. 'But you can't imagine that he is at all surprised. What else did Hnikarr ever do to him but try to steal every scrap of human warmth he could beg for himself? As for you, what else could he expect from you? You know what he always thought of you. Not a brain in your head. Endlessly craving attention and admiration. There's a lot of flash, but there's no substance to you at all. There's nothing to love.'
Sin flinched and saw the twist to his mouth, the savage satisfaction as he saw he’d hit home.
'Why should you be surprised?” she demanded. 'What did you think I’d do, after what you said to me? Am I supposed to have nowhere to turn, and no comfort at all?'
“Am I?” Anzu asked, very quietly.
“She’s human,” Nick said. “We walk through blood every day. You can’t ask her to live like one of us. Things are different for them, and – look at you.”
Anzu glared at him, his hair vermilion, his skin bone white, all the vivid colors indicating that poison lay just beneath his surface.
“That body won’t last,” Nick continued dispassionately. “You’re tearing it to pieces.”
“Your brother won’t last,” Anzu snarled, and went for him in a rush. Sin had never seen him angry enough to use just muscle and not magic.
Nick put out a hand and took him by the throat. Anzu halted.
“Your brother won’t last,” he repeated, his voice soft and hateful.
Nick nodded. He drew his thumb lightly over Anzu’s jugular vein: Sin couldn’t tell if it was a gesture of affection or a death threat. “I know,” he said, voice just as soft. “That’s how it is for all demons. Except me.”
“How nice for you,” Anzu spat.
“It could be you,” said Nick. “I’m willing to make a trade. Take this body. Take the girl, if you want her so badly. Let my brother go.”
Nick knocked the sword clean out of Anzu’s hands: it went slamming and skittering down the roof tiles, and ended as a bright thing lying in the gutter.
Anzu looked at Nick, his hands open and empty as if he was begging alms, and saw Nick advancing with the sword in hand.
He stepped up to meet it, almost stepping directly onto the blade, chin tilted up so Nick could see his brother’s eyes, and his own sword leveled at his brother’s heart.
“Go ahead,” Anzu said. “It’s a body like any other, to be used and thrown aside like trash. I’ve done this a thousand times before. So have you.”
“I remember,” Nick said.
He took a step back. Anzu pursued his advantage, taking another step and another, eyes glittering. Even his hair seemed to coruscate like sunset. Nick was the shadow to his sun, face set and pitiless.
“It’s no different,” Anzu whispered to him. “He’s no different. That you thought he was: that was the lie, that’s why you’re in pain now. Don’t believe it, Hnikarr. They’re liars, and this is the greatest lie of all. Don’t let them make you into this.”
Nick violently threw down his sword. Anzu did not hesitate for a second. He stepped in, close enough to stab, and caught Nick’s black hair in his fingers, forcing him to meet his eyes.
“It was all a lie,” Anzu murmured, cruel and almost pleading, both at once. “I’m your brother. Not him.”
He kissed him savagely on the mouth. It only lasted a second, before Nick shuddered and turned his face away.
“Don’t,” he said in his cold voice, untouched even by this. “Alan wouldn’t like it.”
“Are you stupid?” Anzu asked. “Did they break you? It doesn’t matter what Alan likes, or what Alan wants, or whether Alan would think you’re a good boy. He’s dead. I killed him. That’s what they’re for. They die. And they never matter.”
“I know they die,” Nick said. “You don’t think I was prepared for that?”
Nick kept his face turned away, a shadow refusing to see the sun. His voice was so indifferent, it was almost dry: just reporting the facts. “If he was dead a thousand years,” he said. “He would still matter. More than you ever did.”
This was not an unknowable audience, a demon who she knew nothing about but their name and history. She knew this one. She had kissed him and made him promises, knew his wishes and his limits. He had been watching her with the eyes of someone who loved her, and she had been watching him as well as the person she loved.
She did not entirely hate him.
She knew with absolute certainty how to call him by name, how to make his name so truly his he could not help but answer.
Sin made her dance slow and easy, her fingers touching the air as if it was water that would ripple at her touch, as if she could make every move, every slow wind of her hips and swing, a caress. She thought about the way Alan held back from touching Nick but held close, the way Mae had come to sit across a room from him and Jamie could laugh at him. She thought of how humans could bend and make room for a demon, learn to welcome a demon in out of the cold.
She lifted her hands as if to touch, as if to open a door, and then drew them back.
“I call on Anzu, who is so far from anything like light,” Sin said. “I call on the seeker after knowledge, who can breathe fire and water and air, but who is at home in no element on earth. I call on Anzu, who I told lies.”
She danced along chalk lines with her enemies outside the door, in glass-torn jeans and a blood-streaked shirt, and she was absolutely certain that nobody could resist drawing near to watch her.
A draught from another world raised all the hairs on her neck. Sin did not falter. The door between the worlds swung open further to her, horror leaking out. It felt as if the lines she was standing on were dissolving, as if the human world was crumbling away beneath her feet and soon she would be stranded in the demon world, deserted, lost, drowning in air she could not breathe.
The darkness and onslaught of cold fell from her eyes. Light assaulted Sin’s vision instead, coming at her in a blinding, scorching wash.
Anzu stood in front of her, limned in fierce light.
It was strange to see him not in Alan’s body, not with a body at all. The form in front of her seemed unreal as a mirage, pale as someone who had died, his eyes glittering as if they were shards of glass she had broken.
“It could have been me,” he said. “If I had gone into the child, as Hnikarr did. I would have had a family. I would have learned all your human lessons. He’s no different than I am, no better, even though you’re all on his side. You might have loved me then. It could have been me.”
“But it wasn’t,” Sin told him.
“No,” said Anzu. “I’ve lured lonely humans the same way you did. Come crawling to the window, looked at them with promises in my face. And when they opened the window, I took them for everything they had.”
She could feel him along the lines of connection and communication, feel the cold weight of his demon’s thoughts leeching her of every emotion she had. She felt all the icy rage she had expected, like knives sliding in under the surface of her skin and peeling it away from the bone.
She felt something else as well: a mess of other things she, being human, could not quite recognize or untangle from the rage. Not all of them hurt.
“I always thought if they were stupid enough to let me in, whatever I did to them was fair,” Anzu said. “You beat me at my own game, princess. You got what you wanted."
"What do you want?" Sin asked, low.
She did feel sorry for him. He could tell, and she could feel more of his fury, and something like surprise, slicing through her flesh. There was greed too, with demons there was always greed, as if he wanted to drink up her emotions and drain her dry.
“What," said Anzu, "if all I want to do is kill you?”
“Go ahead and kill me,” said Sin, and three magicians burst into the room. .
Black magic erupted from one magician's hands, leaping for her like a shadow trained to attack.
A curtain of light was dropped before her eyes, so suddenly she did not immediately know what it was, and then she knew it was Anzu’s wing, shielding her, absorbing the magical blow.
After a moment the curtain lifted, and she could see. She already had a knife in her hand.
Sin remembered being six years old and lost in a clothes shop. She’d just gone charging off into the swathes of hanging garments, and emerged blinking into a corridor she didn’t recognize, a corridor that might as well have been another world. It had been the first realization that such a thing was possible, being completely alone and afraid.
She’d burst into tears and a woman had rescued her, white with scarlet hair caught in a black scarf. The woman had been kind. She’d held Sin’s hand and promised to find her mother. Sin had been clinging to her when Mama had rushed up, golden and glowing and apologetic.
“That’s my daughter,” Mama had said.
The woman’s hand had tightened on Sin’s, startled, instead of letting go. The world had seemed strange again for a moment as the woman said: “Are you-“ and then stopped and blushed.
Mama had leaned down and picked Sin up, holding Sin so their faces were close together, smiling though her arms were very tight. .
“Yes, I’m sure,” she’d said. “She’s mine.”
Lydie had to have that same certainty. She had to know Sin was sure, no matter what. No matter what anyone else thought, no matter what threatened, absolutely and surely hers.