Chapter IV – ‘Fate’
(Bullshit or unavoidable chance?)
Have you ever dangled over a rather long drop and looked down? If that’s a yes, then you’ll understand how terrifying, paralysing and yet undeniably thrilling it is.
I cursed, my grip on the edge of the roof faltering as gravity forced me down. The hard concrete of our driveway stretched two floors below me, seeming almost a mile away as I panicked and swung my legs in a feeble attempt to reach the ivy-covered porch roof not a metre to my left. My black-&-white converses could just brush the edge of the platform, but jumping for it was out of the question. I’d never been any good in the playground monkey-bars.
The skin on my fingers screamed and I was just about to think, how crap is dying like this, when two hands secured around my wrists and pulled me up with effortless grace. The weight pushing down on my eased as Caleb set me sitting on the cool tile of the roof, and I blinked, amazed at his strength and relieved that I wasn’t a beige/crimson splatter on the floor. Okay, maybe I was exaggerating a bit…
I was still collecting myself when Caleb asked, “What were you doing? You could have gotten yourself hurt.” I blinked up at those dark gold eyes and smirked at the irony of my potential killer telling me off for doing something that might get me hurt. He frowned, and I stifled my smile with the back of my hand.
“I was going to ask if you wanted anything to eat or drink, but you weren’t up here and I slipped…” I looked to the floor past my dangling legs and shivered. I looked up to see amusement in his eyes and a glowing smile on his face. “What?” I demanded, scowling. “I don’t know about you, but I grew up with the expectation for basic manners…” I trailed off when he started to laugh, a soft, echoing noise which caressed my soul and erased a minor headache from the back of my skull that I hadn’t even known existed.
I didn’t bother trying not to stare; it would be a futile battle.
When he finally stopped laughing, I managed to busy myself with tying up a dangling shoelace, cheeks warming. I felt like a stumbling child next to him, and I didn’t like it one bit. I was used to feeling inferior, sure, but not to someone who looked the same age as me. I ignored those intent eyes as they absorbed my rapid changes in mood.
“Humans are so…” he seemed to search for the right word “changeable,” he settled on, and I couldn’t help but smile.
“I agree with you on that one,” I said honestly, avoiding those eyes as I stared into the darkness of the street before me. There was a moment of silence, the Angel crouching beside me and me staring into the distance, and I actually felt at peace with the world. The light, cool breeze brushed my face pleasantly and the silence was barely disturbed by a far-away main road.
Then, of course, a car alarm went off in the near-distance and I nearly jumped out of my skin.
“Thanks,” I said, realising I had forgotten to say it before. He had saved me from breaking a limb after all; I think he deserved it.
“There’s no need to thank me,” he said in such a tone that gave me no clue as to what he was thinking. I glanced at his face but found it just as unnervingly unreadable.
Was this utter lack of expression because he wasn’t used to saving people able to thank him afterwards, or maybe due to the fact that he just saw saving me as a job and nothing more. Then another possibility came to mind; was it because the next time I got into trouble, he wouldn’t exactly be the one saving me? A shiver that had nothing to do with the cold ran through me, and I looked away from the stunning face of the being that could be my killer.
Why does everything have to be so complicated? Why can’t Angels be butt-ugly monsters with no sense of right and wrong? Why can’t I not see them? Why does the being that’s probably going to kill me have to feel guilty about it at the same time? He’s probably going to push me in front of a car while apologising for it, for God’s sake.
My face went from hot to cold in quick succession as my mood flashed between angry and terrified. Volatile didn’t quite cover it. And I’d been coping so well, I thought with a mournful sigh/growl thing, which actually helped to calm me down a little. I took a deep breath, and then another one.
When I finally calmed down, I looked up to see Caleb harbouring an express one might see on a child at the beach, who just turned over a rock and found something morbidly interesting wriggling around in the sand. I blanched, not all that sure if I should be flattered or terrified.
“I never knew humans were so interesting once you get to talk to them. I can see every thought on your face and every word before you say it,” he said into the silence, and I blinked, at a loss.
“Thanks…?” I offered, not having realised I was so easy to read.
“Was that sarcastic?”
“You tell me,” I said blandly, looking away again. I tucked my knees to my chest and rested my head on the strategically placed rips, starting to feel the chill. What time was it? It had to be well past midnight by now.
“Why am I even here?” I muttered to myself, too low for my companion to catch. Or so I thought.
“For the same reason I am,” Caleb said, making me cringe.
“And what’s that?”
“Curiosity,” he said simply, and I was starting to wonder where the silent-and-still sentry he’d been just yesterday had gone to. I wanted him back.
Then my stomach rumbled in the silence, making me start and Caleb blink. Trying not to be embarrassed (and failing) I muttered, “Well, hunger overrides curiosity. I’ll see you in the morning.” Unless, of course, I die between now and sunrise.