chapter xxiMature

Once they were back inside, he grabbed a slice of pizza without searching for a plate and folded it up before taking an enormous bite.  She mimicked him and nearly moaned at the pleasure of the warm deliciousness that filled her mouth.  Without another word, she chomped down the rest of the slice and went back for another.

"Why do I get the feeling that you're not what you seem to be, Naomi?"  Graeme was standing in the living room, beside a standing black bookshelf he had filled with Bluray discs, one of them already in his free hand, the other hand holding the remaining section of his slice of pizza. 

She blinked at him for a long moment, unsure of what to say.  She hadn't expected he would catch on so quickly.  "What do you mean?"

There it was again - that quirking of the brow that gave an entirely different tone to his whole face.  Disbelief, suspicion.  He said, "I suspected something was weird with the way you'd asked if we should order a pizza, but watching you eat it, now I know.  It's like you've not only never had pizza before, but it's as if you've never seen it.  It's like...  It's like you heard someone mention it and were parroting it back at me." 

She frowned, her second slice of pizza already half-devoured in her hand.  Grease leaked from the crease of the fold, dripping down her palm to slide down her forearm.  She sighed, telling herself that she would have to be honest with him eventually, anyway.  It just wasn't the time or the place she'd thought she would tell him the truth - though, admittedly, she had no idea when the right time or place would be.

"Well," she said, "what do you think is going on?"

What shit!  She couldn't even just admit it, she had to beat around the bush about it.  Inwardly, he sighed, only mildly frustrated.  He supposed if the roles were reversed he would be the same way.  Why spill the truth if he only suspected she'd grown up in a strange household or something?  She was protecting herself, in her own way, and he had to respect that. 

"I don't know, Naomi, but you're not the average, run-of-the-mill girl next door, are you?  I mean, really.  You know how to stitch up a serious wound without calling an ambulance, you seem to have this strange ability to mesmerize me, you've clearly never had pizza in your entire life - and that's one of the oddest things, really - and you seem completely disinterested in knowing why I stabbed myself in the stomach.  I suppose I shouldn't be asking what is different about you as much as I should be asking what you are, correct?"

She pursed her lips.  Grease dripped from her elbow to the counter top.  A smudge of grease unnatural orange marred the corner of her delicate mouth.  "You're right, of course," she began, "I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you.  I know why you stabbed yourself in the stomach with a silver blade dipped in holy water, Graeme.  I know this because I could smell the demon in you when we passed in the hallway while you were possessed, and I could smell the holy water on the blade.  I'm an angel, Graeme, and you are my one true purpose on this Earth." 

"One true purpose?  What does that mean, Naomi?  Is your name really Naomi?"  He set down the Bluray and swerved around the couch so he could approach the counter.  Though there was nothing overtly aggressive about his movement, his brusqueness did not go unnoted.

"One true purpose means that you are the reason I was deployed from Heaven.  And no, my name is not Naomi.  My real name is Gabriel.”

“Gabriel.  How many Gabriel’s are there, exactly?”

“There is only one.  Me.”  As if hoping that would satisfy him, she began chomping down on her pizza slice once more.  Graeme didn’t feel dismissed, however, until she turned from him to dig a can of soda out of the pack he’d set by the fridge.

“So you’re the Gabriel.  As in, the messenger?  As in, the strength of God?”  He paused, hesitating over what he wanted to say next, chewing on the words for a long time.  Patiently, contented with her feasting, Gabriel waited.  “I thought Gabriel was a man.”

She laughed, her free hand gingerly covering her mouth to avoid spitting any of her food out.  “I have been a man before.  I can be a woman as easily as I can be a man.”

Graeme’s slice of pizza had been deposited on the bare counter, forgotten, getting cold.  Famished beyond her own understanding, probably from her apathetic neglect for her vessel, she eyed it hungrily. 

“Why did you choose to be a woman now?”

The look she gave him spoke volumes where her words would not.  “It suited the task.”

He shook his head, shaking off the cobwebs of thoughts that were only juxtaposed to his true questions.  “Why am I your purpose?”

“I do not question my orders, Graeme, I simply obey them.  I was told that you are different from your fellow men, and that you are to be protected while you seek out your own purpose.”

“Do you believe I’m different from my fellow men?”  There were invisible weights strapped to his words, they were heavy and bloated with the things he wasn’t asking, the validation he wasn’t technically begging for.

Dishonesty would hurt him more, in the long run.

“I don’t know, Graeme.  You are clever and your skill-set is surprisingly cooperative with what we need, but you don’t seem exceptional.  Not right now.”

The End

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