I didn’t bother sitting up, and the numb state I was in seemed to prevent me from feeling much of my previous terror. Either that, or it was the darkness wrapped around me like a protective cocoon; I’d always felt most at home under the night’s sky.
There was a second of undisturbed silence, before I said in a bland tone so unlike me it was shocking to hear, “Are you going to kill me then or not?” What can I say; I’d never been one to beat around the bush.
“No,” the Angel replied.
I don’t know what shocked me more; his voice or the meaning behind it. I don’t know if I should even call it a ‘voice’. It was as if his words skipped my ears and rang right into my mind like the softest, most beautiful of crystal bells. Wind chimes on a summer day floated through my mind and I started to relax even before the meaning registered in my mind.
When it did register I held back a relieved sob, tears swimming in my eyes. I managed to swallow and get in control of myself within a short moment, the cool air weaving around me probably helping more than my questionably emotional-control skills did. I sat up, suddenly aware of the ache in my back and the dull throb of an exhausted headache just behind my skull. I pulled my legs close and rested my chin on my knees as if physically grounding myself.
So I wasn’t going to die after all. Small favours. I somehow managed a smirk, and pulling in a deep breath of cool air, I risked a glance at the being standing just behind and beside me. If it was even possible, he looked more stunning now than he had in the day. The subtle glow of his skin was more obvious due to the dark, and his eyes seemed to pierce through the night like flames. I looked away again when my mind started to trip over itself.
Those eyes hadn’t been as unemotional as I had expected, however. Obviously Angels experienced curiosity and confusion as well as us mortals. “Want to know why I hit you, do you?” He didn’t say anything, so I continued, “Pretty simple really; you’re here for my best friend and that’s not usually a good thing. ‘Course, you finding out I have this… sight pushed me over the edge. I panicked... sorry.” The apology sounded pathetic even to my own ears, but I owed him at least that, despite the fact that he might end up killing my best friend. He didn’t say anything, and the silence was unnerving. Maybe I’d read him wrong; he could have been confused over me being able to see him, but I swear-
“I also apologise. My actions regarding your unusual clarity were unorthodox,” he said, each word ringing in my mind like music, and I risked another glance. His apology had been serious enough, but I swear that little quirk of his lips… he was smirking at me. I stared wide-eyed at the clearly amused winged being and started to doubt my previous assumption about Angels being hard, cold, karma machines. Maybe they didn’t show emotion because they had no reason to, not because they didn’t have such a mortal aspect.
I stopped myself from going down that road as a thought crossed my mind, sharp and insistent, does it matter? “Is Beth going to die?” I asked abruptly, unable to stop myself, and the Angel’s eyes went from confused and curious to puzzled and thoughtful.
“The blonde?” he asked after a second, and my mouth literally dropped open an inch as the casual words lifted from the mouth of an Angel. I snapped it shut with a pop as amusement glittered in those surreal eyes yet again, and just nodded, not trusting my voice.
But behind the shock, I was confused. What was with that vague, uninterested tone? Shouldn’t he know Beth’s name if he were shadowing her.
Something clicked even as the Angel finished his next sentence. “I do not know. She is not guarded by one of my kin, so her death, if incoming, is not one of importance.” My world did a little flip and my stomach followed suit.
“I’m the charge,” I stated, my voice but a whisper as it got whisked away by a sudden surge of cool air. The Angel had been looking at me through the window, had been waiting for me outside the school and had been with me when Beth had walked into her home. I was the one either doomed or blessed. I was either going to die or be saved by the stunning Angel standing within an arm’s reach, his feathers shifting softly in the wind.
I can’t say which feeling was more dominant; the relief, the joy, the fear, or the shock.
A car horn blared loud in the distance, breaking through my sudden paralysis and I turned my head enough to see the Angel watching me intently, examining each emotion as it showed in my eyes. “You’re scared?” he said finally, his voice changing in tone. Concern? More confusion? I couldn’t tell, but looking at him now, he seemed almost human. I fixed my eyes on the sky again, closing my face down again with a little effort.
“Who wouldn’t be? I’m either going to die to serve some God’s idea of justice, or walk out of tragedy.” Call me selfish, but personally neither prospect appealed to me at any level.
“You see us and yet still fear death?” he asked, and I turned to look at him again to find his head cocked slightly to the side. This was starting to get weird; things were so much easier when I just saw Angels as machines. I sighed, pushing the thought away, and considered his question. Well, I guess he did have a point.
“So you are God’s lackeys? He really exists?” I probed, heart kicking up a little. It would make this thing a whole lot easier if he just said yes.
But unfortunately, fate had always hated me, so why would that policy change now? “That depends on what you refer to as ‘God’,” he answered evasively, and I knew from his tone that he wasn’t going to elaborate. Fine.
“Guess you can’t answer whether I’m going to die or not either then?” I asked hopefully. He didn’t even bother to grace that question with an answer.
I turned with a scowl, ready to needle him, immortal or not, when I found the air behind me empty. I blinked, the darkness suddenly a lot colder and the stars a little less shimmering.
Avoid me all you want, Angel, I thought, but I’ll get an answer one way or another.