A burning fire accompanied by the smell of brimstone raced against the empty neighborhood's cold cobblestone. It ran up the few flights of cement steps, and a column of fire ignited before the doormat. As the flames extinguished, the single form of a man remained, holding flowers and champagne.
A few knocks on the door summoned the man's father, whom he hugged graciously and bestowed the gifts. He loved his father dearly, but there was a more urgent presence he needed to see.
"Where's Papa?" The man asked, looking over his father's shoulder into the kitchen and glancing about the living room.
"Upstairs. You're an hour early, you know." His father moved to the kitchen to put away the flowers, likely meant for Papa rather than him. "No fire in the house," he reminded his son.
"Still on LA time I'm afraid, thanks Dad." Restraining from creating a hot line through the wooden interior of their home, he ran upstairs to his parent's room, and as expected, found the object of his adoration sitting poised in front of the vanity, brushing waist-length hair before creating a familiar braid.
"Papa!" The cry of joy was involuntary as the man reached his parent and knelt down besides the vanity chair, preferring the angelic upwards profile he had known throughout his childhood.
"Damien, mon petit démon," Pascale said affectionately as he clasped his son's face between two delicate hands. "You have put on a pretty face. But where is my Damien?"
"Papa..." Damien complained, but leaned into his parent's touch happily. As he did so, his olive skin seemed to vibrate as each pigment became deep orange in color. The texture, previously smooth, now had a rough reptilian texture, but his parent's warm hold did not waver. Nor did he step back as black horns pierced through the skin behind Damien's ears, before curving around his temples and created that familiar half-crown he accompanied with shame.
"Your charcoal halo," Pascale regarded with a smile as he kissed Damien's forehead. Midnight black eyes looked up at the adoring figure, and Damien smiled as he melted into his parent's embrace.


"Qu'il soit un démon / Qu'il soit noir ou blanc, / Il a le cœur pur / Il est toute innocence / Qu'il soit né d'amour / Ou par accident / Malheur à celui qui blesse un enfant."

The lyrics of Enrico Macias resounded through the kitchen as Pascale tried to create lemon tarts with flour and ingredients strewed in disarray around the kitchen. Damien stared intently at the radio, deciphering some of the French at his young age.
The question interrupted his furious whisking, and Pascal looked up at the small orange form which he had grown surprisingly fond of.
"Oui mon petit démon?"
"Does it mean me too? Even with my orange skin?" The question was innocently meant, and yet Damien cried when he asked it. The lyrics in his parent's favorite song said 'black or white', never 'orange'.
Pascale easily lifted little Damien into his arms and spun around with the crying boy.
"Of course, Damien, of course it includes you." He hugged his son furiously as the chorus took up again, and since Damien's French wasn't yet perfect, he sung the lyrics in English, all the while gently pocking and prodding Damien's skin and horns until he giggled.

"Whether he is a demon / Whether he is black or white, / He has a pure heart / He is entirely innocent / Whether he is born of love / Or by accident / Cursed he be who dares to harm a child."


Damien broke the man's wrist easily, giving a harsh warning about meeting deadlines before picking up his phone with a sweet smile.
"Bonjour, Papa!"
He waited for Pascale's lullaby voice to respond, but Cortez spoke instead.
"Damien, you have to come home. … Your father. … Pascale. … He's dying."
If Damien hadn't been careful the phone would have ignited in his hands. The call ended, and he left the crying man as licking flames of fire engulfed him. In any other time he would have been stealthy, but now he simply vanished in a trace of smoke from the dark alley of his hotel, to reappear in a blazing light of fire inside his parent's living room.
"Where is he?" Damien demanded to his crumpled father, who merely pointed up the stairs, his head in his hands.
He seemed to glide up the wooden stairs and barged into his parent's room, looking first at the empty vanity, before his gaze fell onto the canopy bed with his ailing parent. Damien knew that Pascale had been sick, but he never thought that...
"Papa?" He asked meekly as he knelt by the bed, gripping onto the edge of the mattress.
Pascale opened his eyes, even this was laborious, and turned to smile at his son.
"Mon petit démon. Do not be angry, understand?" His hand gently stroked Damien's cheek, his horns, his hair, until Damien nodded, biting back tears in the back of his throat.
"Oui, Papa."
Pascale smiled meekly and closed his eyes, but he kept stroking his son's cheek.
Damien strained to listen as his parent's lips parted, letting out a small murmur.
"Mon petit ange."
Pascale's hand slid down Damien's cheek limply before gently resting against the satin bedspread.
"…. Papa?" Damien's voice wavered at the question, hot tears streaming down his face.
When he received no answer, a lamenting wail broke from him, soon followed by sobbing in the living room.

Fires began erupting around the neighborhood. Houses became engulfed in flames, the sky grew thick with ember and ash, and many could have sworn to the smell of brimstone.
Only one house was left standing in the morning. It appeared as if the gates of Hell had been opened, and something had been allowed to step through in the grief of a loving son.