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In which Bethany is a really pathetic angel, and where we find out that Xavier is a Nice Guy™

Yamini: Welcome back everyone! Ruki and I have finished our break, and we're ready to get started on Chapter 9 of Halo! So, let's do this!

The chapter opens up with Phantom the dog growling at the door before going up to it and sniffing it. Almost immediately, Gabriel is furious.

"What's he doing here?" Gabriel muttered under his breath.

"Who is it?" Ivy and I whispered simultaneously.

"Our heroic school captain."

*rolls eyes* Of course, it has to be Xavier friggin' Woods. Bethany is immediately alarmed by this, and do you know what she does? She looks at herself in the mirror and frets over the fact that she's in her pajamas, which amuses Ivy. And what does Bethany do? She then says this!

"Please don't let him in-- I look awful," I begged.

(Yamini is silent for a moment. However, she is unmistakeably annoyed) You know, if I were of legal age, now would be the time for me to get drunk. Because look at this shit! Bethany is supposed to be an angel, right? But right now, it's like she's a thirteen year old girl! Do I get all panicky when Ruki sees me all sweaty and covered in blood and grime after a particularly grueling fight? No! I don't care at all! Because he's also sweaty and grimy, and because I'm more concerned about getting healed and cleaned up! I cannot believe that this girl is seventeen years old! I'm seventeen, and here I am, showing more sense than her!

*sighs* I... Please take over now, Ruki. I really can't take this.

Ruki: *gently pats her shoulder* Of course, Yamini. In all seriousness, Yamini is right. I do not get the impression that Bethany is an angel right now, considering this behaviour. She says that she does not want to even meet Xavier after getting inebriated at Molly's party.

After a minute, Bethany asks Gabriel if he's gone, to which he tells her that Xavier is still there. And according to Gabriel, Xavier "appears to have no intention of going". *raises an eyebrow* He does realise that what he is doing is considered rather disturbing, right? Not to mention, incredibly disrespectful. Anyways, Phantom is still at the door, and Bethany is desperately trying to get him to stop sniffing before she asks Gabriel what Xavier wants.

Gabriel responds by reading Xavier's mind, and what he sees makes him angry.

"Well, I think that's rather presumptuous."

"What is?"

"How long have you known this young man?"

"Stop it, Gabe. That's a breach of privacy!" I snapped.

"Honestly." Ivy got up, shaking her head. "I think he's probably heard us by now. Besides, we can't just ignore him. He recently did Bethany a good turn, remember?"

Now, while his mind-reading does make me raise an eyebrow, I can somewhat understand Gabriel's frustration. And also, I believe that they are perfectly within their rights to not have to answer the door. Xavier is the one who is being disrespectful.

Yamini: And "did Bethany a good turn"? That's Australian, for crying out loud! God, if you're going to use Australian things, at least set the damn story in Australia!

Ruki: Bethany asks Ivy to at least wait for her to go upstairs, but she's ignored in favour of calming Phantom down and answering the door. *frowns* Why is Ivy encouraging this? She's supposed to be at least millions of years old, so she should be just as frustrated as Gabriel is. Xavier comes in, and Gabriel regards him coldly. The reason why he stopped by was to make sure Bethany was doing okay, apparently.

Ivy thanks Xavier for bringing Bethany home before offering Xavier something to drink, to which Xavier declines. However, Ivy tells him to sit down and then takes Gabriel with her to the kitchen, leaving Bethany alone with Xavier.

Left alone with Xavier I was conscious of how ridiculously sedate we must appear, with no television in sight, my siblings making hot chocolate and me ready for bed at eight o'clock.

Again, I ask. Why is Bethany so worried about his opinion? If she's an angel, she should not be showing so much concern about a human's opinion on her life. *sighs* Xavier compliments Phantom, and Bethany half-hopes that Phantom would growl so she'd think that Xavier is not completely flawless. However, to show that he is indeed a gentleman, Phantom nuzzles his hand.

Bethany tells him that she took Phantom in after his owner was moving to a retirement home.

"Oh, he must be Alice Butler's dog."

"How'd you know that?"

"Small town." Xavier shrugged. "You know, I was worried about you last night." His gaze was fixed intently on my face.

So... everyone in this town knows about Phantom the Weimaraner, but none of them knew about the loud party from the previous night? It does not work like that, Ms. Adornetto.

Yamini: Bethany tries to reassure Xavier that she's fine, but her voice is shaky and she feels all giddy like some lovestruck schoolgirl. *rolls eyes* Look, even I never acted that around Ruki, not even when I realized my feelings for him! Yeah, I was a little flustered and shy, but I could still talk to him! Same with him!

Xavier then tells Bethany that she should be careful about who she calls her friends. Excuse me? Who the hell made you the boss?! Yeah, Molly was irresponsible, but it wasn't completely her fault! Bethany says that it wasn't Molly's fault and that she herself should have known better, and then we get this!

"You're very different from the girls around here," he continued.

"How do you mean?"

"You don't get out much, do you?"

"I guess you could call me more of a homebody," I said, trying not to sound defensive.

"That's not a bad thing," Xavier said. "I think that makes a nice change."

*disbelieving* So wait, every single girl in this town is a promiscuous party girl? Dear God, I hope Adornetto realised what she was writing!

But on a more serious note, really? Bethany's only worth looking at because she's a Good Girl, she doesn't party, and she doesn't let guys get into her lady bits, huh? And every other girl does what Bethany doesn't do? Look, this is not realistic! There's no way that every girl in Venus Cove gets around like that! In her attempt to make Bethany look like the Good Girl and the pure heroine, she just exaggerated every other girl into become sex-crazed nymphomaniacs!

And why are you so judgemental about this? Yeah, I don't get around either, but do I judge girls that do it? No!

Ruki: This is exactly what Amestris hates. She herself has slept with several women, especially succubi, and her opponents always like to make jabs at her sexual activity by calling her a harlot or a tart. But Amestris is free to do whatever she feels like, so I do not get involved.

Yamini: Bethany then wishes that she was like the other girls, and Xavier tells her that "there's no point pretending to be something you're not". *rolls eyes* You're one to talk.

"How can I ever repay your kindness?" I said with a hint of what I hoped was flirtation in my voice.

*snorts* Adornetto does realise the double-entendre to that, right? *becomes more serious* But be prepared everyone, for what will happen next will royally piss us all off.

"There is one thing you could do..." His voice trailed off suggestively.

"What's that?"

"Go out with me. How about next weekend? We could catch a movie if you like."

And this is it, people! Xavier is officially a Nice Guy™! *looks furious* So this is who Adornetto considers her ideal man?

Ruki: *confused* Can you explain what a nice guy with a 'tm' means? I'm afraid that's something I have not studied about in the Human World.

Yamini: Sure. To start off, this isn't about a genuinely nice guy. When there's capitals and a trademark, this is the sign of a douchebag. These are the guys who always whine and bitch about how they're so kind towards women, and because of this, they believe they're entitled to sex with women. Basically, they think that being nice to women = sex. But really, just because you do basic acts of human decency doesn't mean that a woman has to go out with you. We're not friggin' vending machines where if you put enough niceness, we'll get laid with you!

Not to mention, when the woman turns them down, the Nice Guy™ lashes out at them, calls them a bitch and says that they were being Nice, so they deserve to touch their lady bits! Also, there are plenty of girls who act like this towards the guy/girl/person they like, so it's also pretty gross when they do it.

Ruki: *disgusted* How deplorable. No one owes you anything for basic decency.

Yamini: I am so pissed off that you won't believe it. You know who Xavier's reminding me of right now? Azazel, from Hell's Army. And Azazel is the worst type of Nice Guy™ there is, it's not even funny! He's a very murderous Nice Guy™, like Elliot Rodger!

When Hell's Army invaded the village that my mother was from in Naraka, a realm of the Netherworld, they killed her entire family and they were about to kill her as well. However, Azazel told them to spare her, since she was a talented blacksmith. So in the end, they forced her to become the blacksmith of Hell's Army, even though she would have rather died. But do you know why Azazel did this? He had a fetish for demonesses from Naraka, and he expected my mother to be all submissive and demure to him so he could make her his own.

Well, too bad for him, because my mother ran away to the Human World the first chance she got, contracted with my father and fell in love with him, and they got married and had me. And that pissed of Azazel. Because according to him, my mother chose to sleep with 'human filth' and have a pathetic 'half-breed child', rather than spreading her legs for Azazel and having 'pure-blooded demon children' just because he spared her. Well, my mother loved my father because he treated her with respect and care!

And guess what? Azazel even tried to kill my mother and I when I was only a month old! And then when I was four, he actually killed my mother! And all because he was pissy that my mother refused to satisfy his fetish.

There's another person worth mentioning, and that is Bellamy, the guy who vandalised my mom's grave. He had a fetish for Indian women, and he acted like I should have gone all submissive and spread my legs for him, the bastard! He'd always call me his 'exotic brown sugar', which was disgusting! Not to mention, he expected my best friend Pascale to be all over him, just because she's French! Even though she's both a lesbian and ace!

Xavier is acting almost exactly like a less murderous version of Azazel, and a less fetishistic version of Bellamy! Which is why I'm just absolutely disgusted and angry and... great, I feel like flipping this table over.

Ruki: *purses his lips* A note for you aspiring authors: if the love interest is on the same level as the demon who killed Yamini's mother, then you need to do some serious revision.

*glances at Yamini* I'll take over now, so you can calm down.

Yamini: *smiles at him* Thanks.

Ruki: *smiles back* You're welcome. *reads on* Well, Bethany is too stunned to respond.

Had I heard right? Was Xavier Woods, the most inaccessible boy at Bryce Hamilton, asking me out? What was the appropriate response? Where was Molly when I needed her? My hesitation lasted a fraction too long and he mistook it for reluctance.

*sighs* If I ask again, I'm only going to be repeating myself. But what in the name of Beelzebub is the purpose of Bethany for this mission? All she's doing is wiling her time away preaching about how a good girl must act and becoming smitten with a boy she hardly even knows. I am not convinced that Bethany is an angel right now, because she is no different from the human heroines of novels like this.

Xavier tries telling Bethany that it's okay if she doesn't want to, but Bethany agrees, so Xavier gives her his phone number. After this, Bethany walks Xavier to the door to see him off, he smiles arrogantly at her with a half-smile, and compliments her sleepwear. And Bethany then goes on to describe his looks.

It would be easy, I thought, to look at his face all day and not get bored. Humans were supposed to have physical flaws but Xavier didn't seem to. I took in his features--his mouth shaped like an archer's bow, his smooth skin, the dimple in his chin--and struggled to believe he was real. He was wearing a casual shirt under the jacket, and I saw around his neck a silver cross threaded onto a leather cord that I hadn't noticed earlier.

I find it incredibly difficult to believe that this is love. Yes, I can understand being absolutely stunned by a person's attractiveness, but this is coming across as infatuation to me.

Yamini: You're right. I mean, when I first saw Ruki, I observed him a little. And yes, I did notice that he is quite beautiful, but I don't go on and on about it. You know what made me fall in love with him? His kindness, his dedication, his sincerity, and his loyalty!

But ultimately, the foundation of our attraction to each other was the fact that we both could see a bit of ourselves in each other! I was struggling to control my powers, and Ruki was still feeling guilt over being brainwashed at eight years of age and being in Hell's Army until he was sixteen! Even though it was two years, and he had worked hard to atone, he still felt a tremendous amount of guilt!

In addition to that, we both like blacksmithing and heavy metal music, so we bonded over that, and we became friends! However, when we fell in love, it was because of our desire to be there for each other and protect one another forever. Also, when I fell in love with him, yes, I started noticing how attractive he is more than usual, but I never obsessed over it. So, love shouldn't be based solely on physical appearances, otherwise it'll be a very shallow relationship.

Ruki: *nods in agreement* In addition, I was patient with her. I didn't force my feelings onto her, and I respect her wishes. She also respects me, so that was how we were able to get along well.

Anyways, after a brief bit of flirtation between them, Xavier goes home. Meanwhile, Gabriel and Ivy are both alarmed after Bethany tells them about how she's going to go on a date next weekend. Gabriel asks Bethany if it is really a good idea.

"Why wouldn't it be?" I challenged. I was relishing the idea of making my own decisions, and I didn't appreciate my independence being taken away from me so quickly.

*stunned* Bethany is really coming across as a spoiled teenager right now.

Yamini: You idiot, this is not about you being independent! This is about how you, an angel of the Lord, are going against your orders and your Father for the sake of a hot guy! I don't know why this is being written as if she's begging for an extension on her curfew or something!

Ruki: Ivy then tells Bethany that she needs to consider the repercussions of her actions, and she looks more serious than usual, which alarms Bethany, since Ivy never usually looks serious.

"There's nothing to consider. You two always overreact." I wasn't convinced myself by my breezy argument but refused to accept there was reason for caution. "What's the problem?"

The problem is that you are an angel, and you are deliberately going against orders, you ignoramus! Gabriel and Ivy have every right to be cautious about this!

Yamini: *snickers slightly* Ignoramus? I should use that someday. Old insults are hilarious.

Ruki: Gabriel tells Bethany that dating was not and will never be a part of their assignment. And Bethany is completely aware that she's making him even more doubtful of her, but she still disobeys him, even when her mind is telling her that a date with Xavier is dangerous, considering their situation.

Ivy tries to defuse the situation by telling Bethany to keep a lower profile and that they should "collaborate on some ideas designed to raise social awareness in the town". I must ask, social awareness of what? And also, I'm glad that someone is finally suggesting that they start doing something for a change.

However, Bethany tells her that those aren't her own ideas, and that she wants to find her own way. I could believe this if her own way did not involve a rendezvous with an attractive boy!

"Let's continue this discussion when you're thinking more clearly," Gabriel said.

"I won't be treated like a child," I snapped and turned away defiantly, clicking my tongue for Phantom to follow.

*shaking his head, appalled* This right here? This is most definitley not an angel. This is a spoiled teenager who is throwing a little tantrum because her parents are not allowing her way. She should be knowing better than to act like this on a mission, in which they have not even accomplished much.

Yamini: I think I'll take over now. So, Bethany and Phantom sit at the top of the stairs to sulk and listen in on Gabriel and Ivy discussing downstairs.

"I find it difficult to believe she would jeopardize everything for a whim," Gabriel was saying. I could hear him pacing. 

"You know Bethany would never deliberately do anything like that." Ivy tried to defuse the situation. She hated any sort of friction between us.

It isn't too hard to believe, Gabriel. She's already doing it. And nice, Ivy's trying to act like a fifties housewife, isn't she? Always trying to play the perfect peacekeeper!

"What is she doing then? Has she got any idea why we're here? I know we must make allowances for her lack of experience, but she's being deliberately rebellious and headstrong, and I don't recognize her anymore. Temptation is always here to test us. We have been here only weeks and Bethany cannot find the strength to withstand the charms of a pretty boy!"

Yes! Thank you for summing it up, Gabriel! This is exactly why Bethany needs to go back to Heaven and stay there, because she is jeopardising their mission for a cute guy!

"Be patient, Gabriel. It will go much further in..."

*snorts* That's what she said. *snickers* But on a serious note, what are you trying to say?

"She tries my patience!" he said, but quickly collected himself. "What do you advise?"

"Put no obstacle in her path, and this will surely die a natural death; obstruct her, and it will give the situation an importance worth fighting for."

*purses her lips* Bad idea, Ivy. Not only will it not go away, but it's essentially telling all impressionable teenage girls that they're free to get into dysfunctional, abusive relationships because no one is going to stop them! Listen, you need to set your boundaries and make them clear to Bethany, otherwise it is not going to go away!

Gabriel comments on how Bethany's emotional depths are unnatural, almost human, and they need to have it contained. And they even call her love more powerful and dangerous! Yeah, I'm not convinced. And then we get Bethany's reaction!

I didn't wait to hear anymore and crept to my room, where I threw myself on my bed on the verge of tears.

*blinks, then bursts into laughter* Oh my God! She actually just typed that with a straight face! *laughing hysterically* Is this now a soap opera or something? Because it sounds like it! *dissolves into a fit of laughter*

Ruki: *chuckles* It is definitely an overreaction to such a situation. And this whole passage is too long, so I'm just going to point out some key lines.

I deeply resented being discussed as if I were nothing more than a laboratory experiment. And their implication that I was doing something wrong, not to mention their lack of faith in me, was disturbing. Why were they so determined to bar me from the human interaction I craved?

You are doing something wrong, Bethany. You are going against divine orders for the sake of a boy, and that is incredibly serious. They do not need to imply it because you are doing it already.

Bethany starts wondering if she's truly becoming human, but instead of being scared, she's even more intrigued.

That night, Bethany has a nightmare. In it, she's being brought before the jury in Heaven, and Ivy and Gabriel are among them, and they will not look at her. The verdict has already been announced, and she's cast out of Heaven into Perdition, and a mysterious figure smiles at her. This is about as much as I can summarise, because it is quite long.

The next morning, Ivy comes into Bethany's room to offer her some coffee.

"I've never heard Gabriel sound so angry," I said, eager to smooth things over with her. "I've always thought of him as... sort of... infallible."

"Have you ever thought that he might be under stresses of his own? If things don't go well, he and I will assume responsibility for it."

Her words struck me like a physical blow, and I felt the sting of tears welling.

Bethany, why are you getting so upset at the truth being pointed out? What she's saying is definitely true.

Yamini: Bethany then says that she doesn't want to lose Ivy's good favour, and Ivy reassures her that she hasn't because how could anyone be mad at little Bethany? Gabriel only wants to protect Bethany, and Bethany says that she doesn't see how spending time with Xavier could be dangerous.

*disbelieving* Are... Are you stupid?! You just had a nightmare about being cast out of Heaven! You're starting to do things that got Lucifer kicked out of Heaven, dammit! I fail to understand just how clueless Bethany is!

Ruki: Ivy tells Bethany that she needs to be careful not to start things that can't be continued. And with that, Bethany starts to cry and laments over how she had been stupid.

I barely knew Xavier Woods, and I doubted he would react with a deluge of tears if he found out he couldn't see me for whatever reason. I was behaving as if we'd sworn ourselves to each other, and suddenly it all seemed a little absurd. Maybe it was Romeo and Juliet rubbing off on me. I felt like there was a deep, unfathomable connection between Xavier and me, but maybe I was wrong. Could it be possible it was all just a figment of my imagination?

*raises an eyebrow* So... she's comparing herself to Romeo and Juliet, even though that "love" story lasted for only three days before they committed suicide. And this is not love at all, this is infatuation. You two do not know each other and there is hardly any mutual affinity between you two.

Yamini: Bethany says that she has to forget about Xavier, and wonders whether she wants to. She then states that they were supposed to be "messengers, harbringers of hope, and nothing more". And we then end this chapter with this!

When Ivy had gone, I fished out Xavier's number from my pocket where it had stayed all night. I unrolled the tight wad of paper and slowly tore it into fragments the size of confetti. I went out onto my narrow balcony and threw the fragments in the air. I watched sadly as they were carried away by the wind.

*dissolves into laughter again* Am... Am I supposed to feel bad? Because this is just so emo and hilarious!

Ruki: *chuckling* With this incredibly amusing passage, we finally end Chapter 9.

Continue to: Chapter 10- Rebel

Go back to: Chapter 8- Phantom


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May 2017

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