18 // FLEX

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When the laughter burst out I couldn't stop it and weirdly, I didn't even want to try.

I laughed so bloody hard that I ended up with a stitch in my side and had to sit down, as the pain jabbed at my ribs and made it difficult to breathe, but I didn't care. If it was madness to laugh, it was a good kind of madness and one that I needed. It was a brief descent into an insanity that felt like cutting up a storm on the dancefloor, experiencing those first moments of hedonistic pleasure as the buzz fired sparks of heat into your veins.

'Okay, now I know you're high,' I said, as I struggled to compose myself. 'Or maybe I still am. Is that it? Am I on one big fuck-off never-ending trip? I need to know what the Hell was in that fix I got from Leon, because this is the freakiest, most insane, completely unreal thing I've ever heard, and you know what, I've heard some proper crazy things recently.'

Ethan's stony glare didn't waiver and I wondered if he practiced that convincing-as-fuck look in the mirror every day.

'I've known Oscar a few years now,' I went on. 'Everyone in East London knows Oscar. They know his mum, and if you think Oscar's bad, seriously you should meet Rita May. That woman should have been dunked in water years ago or burnt at the stake, because she's one evil witch. But everyone knows him, okay? And yeah, the bloke is a total scumbag, I mean, proper East End villain through and through. Spends most of his time with his hand crawling inside the sequinned underwear of all the pretty girls that dance at his club, or watching as people that cross him get to wear a nice concrete overcoat and are chucked into the river, but a demon? A bloody demon? It's just not possible.'

'I think you know only too well that the realms of what's possible and what's not aren't quite what you thought they were,' Ethan said, huffily. 'Why is it so hard to believe Oscar could be a demon after everything I've told you?'

I stared at him, mouth open. 'Because he's... he's Oscar. And because if, as you say, demons spend their time hiding out in a dimension under our world, Oscar doesn't hide. Have you seen his club? It's the most garish, gaudy joint in Hackney. It looks like the 80's chewed it up and regurgitated it in a pool of leopard-print vomit, and that's just the outside. You can't hide in a place like that. He might as well stick a huge neon arrow on top of the building that says this way to the perverted demon.'

Ethan's mouth twitched into a half-smile or half-grimace, I wasn't sure which.

'Well, when you put it like that...' he said, sitting down on the edge of his seat and leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees, hands clasped in front of him. 'Look, I know you think you know him, but he's spent a long time building his life in Hackney and before that he built it somewhere else, and somewhere else before that. This is what Oscar does. He went rogue a few hundred years ago and decided he wanted to live in the human world. He rejected everything he knew, went underground and resurfaced with a new face and a new life. The Angels leave him alone because he's no threat to them, he's more human now than demon, although not totally in the physical sense, obviously.'

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