It was a clear, summer night, with full moon glowing in the skies together with some stars. The park was quiet. Even during the day this hill was rarely crowded, as it was located far from all entrances and overlooked a large cemetery beneath. Only some older regulars knew it offered a great view on the city below, extended between the hills and the ocean. And calm. Especially so now, near midnight when the park was closed and all those who visited it during the day were now occupied with their lives in the vibrating sea of lights below.

Sitting on the only bench on top of the hill was a lone man. He looked quietly at the city before him. He was dressed in black, or at least that’s how his clothes appeared in the moonlight. It would be hard to tell his age, with his cleanly shaven, swarthy face and short hair he could easily pass as a twenty-something. He sat comfortably, with his back against the bench and hands in his lap, motionless. Only his eyes seemed alive, wandering on the horizon, following the dots of light moving in the streets below.

Suddenly, as if by magic, another man emerged from the shadows below, walking briskly towards the bench. He stopped before it and looked down onto its occupant, who seemed not taking notice with his gaze still fixed on the horizon.

– You didn’t report! – said the newcomer angrily.

Still no reaction.

– Why you didn’t report? – he asked again.

The first man looked up at the newcomer for the first time and smiled.

– Niseth, they should have told you the fashion has changed up here.
– What do you mean?
– It’s been about a century since frock coats were worn around here. I guess you don’t get out into field too much, do you?
– No, I don’t. – said Niseth sharply. – Why didn’t you report, Asbiel?
– I don’t have anything to report – replied Asbiel turning again to the horizon.
– I can understand you were not eager to come back after this failure, but come one, procedures are procedures, you should have filled a report anyway.
– Why? – said Asbiel with this eyes wandering on the streets below.
– Why? Why? What’s going on with you, I don’t recognize you, you ask why? Because that’s procedure. Because even if you would to be punished it is prescribed we should report, I had already lots of trouble because of you.
– Oh yes? I guess the others did report, then, didn’t they?
– They did. That’s why I’m here. I’m worried. We are worried. We are the best field office on the continent, we score the most points and now this. You should be working hard on a next subject to make up for this loss, but instead you just didn’t report or show up.

A silence followed. Then Niseth tried again.
– Tell me what’s going on, Asbie, we have known each other since Academy, you were always one of the best. What happened?

Asbiel moved to the side of the bench and gestured to Niseth to sit down. Then he looked down at the city again.
– Look there, Nisi.
– And?
– There is no “and”, just watch.

Nisteh sat on the bench, but he could not follow Asbiel’s gaze. He wriggled uncomfortably for some time, then spoke again.

– Why did you screw up? After that last case I assigned you an easy subject. We knew from the start she would be a beauty, and they are always easy to catch. Especially with such parents, I was sure, it would be a short case and she’ll be ours. And then, almost ninety years and now she is with the Enemy… up there…
– She’s in Heaven – said Asbiel quietly.

Niseth almost jumped at the sound of this word then looked amazed at his companion.

– You can say that?
– Yes. And much more.
– But how.
– Thanks to love.

Niseth almost fell out of the bench.

– Stop that! It hurts!
– Come on, Nisi, I’m sure they did wrote it in the reports, didn’t they? – Asbiel turned smiling towards him.
– About what? About your abilities? You know others can’t follow you if you don’t allow them to, and you shut others out pretty soon.
– No. About Her. About what she did. About her life, her love towards all the men and women around her, about her family, her work for the poor, about her care even for the animals. About the foundation she started that is doing so much good everywhere. Didn’t they tell you?
– Yes, they did! – said Niseth sadly – We had a hell of a trouble because of that. The regional heads inquired, I even got calls from the HQ. She was a thorn in our side all the time. And I kept reassuring them I put one of my best Tempters on her and it would all crumble one day. But you failed.
– No, I didn’t.
– What?
– I helped her. – said Asbiel.

For a moment the two just looked at each other in silence.

– But why? You can’t switch sides, you’re a demon for Lucifer’s sake! – said Niseth.
– I know.
– Then why?
– I love her. – said Asbiel turning again to the city below.

Niseth grabbed his head with his hands.
– That’s impossible, that can’t be… What will I report to the boss…
– Yeah, boss, points, office, results… – chuckled Asbiel.
– But it makes no sense. No sense at all. You couldn’t have touched her. You can’t become human.
– I didn’t say I touched her, I said I love her. You won’t get it, Nisi, don’t try.
– But why? Why? Why … this odious felling… how could you contract it from a mere skinjob?
– I said, don’t try to analyze it, you won’t get it.

Niseth collapsed onto the bench, overwhelmed. He couldn’t understand it. The reports were bad, but that was even worse. That was not possible. He tried to imagine how he would explain to the regional boss that one of his Tempters, the best to be honest, just betrayed them. He would be degraded and sent down below to torment the souls, dirty and tiring job of Torturers, he always looked down upon with a mix of disdain and satisfaction. At best they would send him out to the world to tempt souls, like a freshman, straight out of Academy. He would be everyone’s joke for centuries. There his thoughts stopped. Slowly he has begun to just stare at the city below, suddenly envious of its habitants’ blissful ignorance.

– You see… – Asbiel broke the silence – it all started soon after my assignment begun. She was not as easy to sway as the briefing said. Yeah, she was a beauty, but also on the inside. It is rare, but it happened. But at first, I tried. When she was fifteen I almost made her do drugs, she tried acid once and then in her vision saw me. She was so scared, she never touched that stuff again. But I… I didn’t feel right about it. I didn’t want to scare her, I didn’t feel right. And I discovered for the first time… I was ashamed… And I felt compassion towards her. Compassion, you know, Nisi?

The only thing Niseth could do was to stare at the streets below.

– Naa… you don’t. I don’t blame you. We are not supposed to. So, I started helping her. At first it were just little things. Then it grew. When she was twenty I saved her from a car crash. In the last moment I bent a window frame so that her head landed perfectly on the airbag.
– We thought it was the enemy’s guardian who did that! – said Niseth, amazed.
– No, he was too slow. And too surprised. But it was after this that I saw him face to face for the first time.
– What did you do, Asbiel, what did you do…
– I saved her life, Nisi, and it was then that I discovered my admiration for her. She went out on that slippery road to be with a friend who was ill, you know? Yeah, it changed me. You wonder why I can say all those words that burn your lips? I can do much more, I can even kind of pray though it still pains a bit.

Niseth just stared at him in disbelief. He was already well past the point after which he could just accept what reality threw at him.

– And you know what was the worst? That she didn’t know I was on her side. At some point her guardian angel started talking to me. I think we developed a kind of cautious friendship. In the end, when she fell ill, we took shifts by her bedside. But he didn’t love her, he was too pure for that, he just loved everything and everyone. But I did.
– What else did you do, you poor devil?? – asked Niseth – This foundation’s success, that’s your doing, isn’t it? You were always good with money…
– Oh, yes, I helped her with this. For the first time my skills were used for good, Nisi, and I felt joy, one you don’t know, true, bright joy as I saw her foundation growing, kids saved from starvation, getting chance to lead good lives.
– At least she never knew about you! – said Niseth
– Oh no, you’re wrong with that too. Just before she departed her guardian told me the Lord would call her soon. I revealed myself to her together with him. We spoke all night. I confessed to her. She forgave me all I did to her in her childhood. She said I changed since she saw me then. She thanked me for all I did. – Asbiel smiled at his memory…
– Oh, great fairy tale, but now she is up there and you are stuck here. Alone. – said Niseth with cold satisfaction.
– That is true. But I don’t regret.

Asbiel stood up.
– I think it’s time for me now. I won’t return. Ever.
– We’ll crush you. – said Niseth with cold anger
– You know as well as I do that you can’t harm me. We are spirits. You can’t kill me.
– You can’t just switch sides, those are the basic rules of the game.
– Maybe. But I can remain here. Free. And she’ll pray for me, I know that.
– You completely lost it!
– No, I found it. I wish you could too, some day. Good bye, Nisi.

Asbiel turned and walked downhill through the grass, away from the bench. Niseth watched him disappear, unable to say a word, suddenly powerless and weak.