chapter xxviiiMature

They'd gone to sleep within half an hour of returning to his condo.  Without any words about the matter, Gabriel had taken the couch and Graeme sought the privacy of his own room.  For a long time, Gabriel lay there in the dark, staring up at the ceiling.  She watched the light patterns shift as the traffic on the streets moved forward eternally.  Her (rage) had settled to a low simmer and she sulked in it, letting it fill her and leave on the tail of her exhales.  No matter how much she tried to push out, it never seemed to lessen.  Gabriel wondered if the kind of (fury) that frothed around inside of her was enough to taint her permanently, if it was enough to make her step out of the light.

It seemed it might be.  It certainly felt like it was enough, but she didn't know how long such feelings would last.

She did not know precisely the moment she fell asleep, but when she woke, she knew she had not slept long enough.  Sunlight poured through the windows in Graeme’s kitchen, and though she could hunker down behind the couch cushions to hide from the disruptive light, she chose to get up and begin her day.

She passed by Graeme’s room on her way to the bathroom, tracing her fingertips along the wood pattern of the door.  The simple touch allowed her to feel the vibrations of sound beyond it, and she knew he was still deeply asleep.  His light snoring shivered in the air waves.

In the bathroom, she freshened up and borrowed his toothbrush.  It did not occur to her the amount of intimacy involved in such a gesture.  She combed her blond hair until it was knot-free, even though the act seemed tedious and exhausting. 

By the time she returned to the living room, she could feel Graeme stirring in his room.  The trembles of his footsteps tickled the soles of her feet, even from such a distance.  Gabriel felt nervous about their upcoming day.  She’d never dealt with Warlocks, and the impression she’d gotten from both the Gypsies and other Angels was that they were not to be trifled with.  They were power-mad and corrupt, but what choice did she really have?

She needed someone with stronger spellcasting abilities than hers.  One who was niave to the ways of the world might think that an Angel’s blood would be more powerful than a mortal Warlock, but they would be wrong.  The magic that existed on the earthly plain was far greater than the power that rushed through her veins – at least, through the veins of her vessel.  If she were in her true angelic form, it would be another matter entirely.

Alas, she was not and she would have to make do with the world she was forced to work within.  Traces of her anger still haunted her like fading heartache.

While she waited for Graeme to make his way out of hibernation, she ate a slice of cold pizza over the sink, lost in thought.  She wondered if there was more she could do to protect them from the wrath of the Warlocks she was certain they would ultimately betray.  It was unlikely; they would probably have to deal with that when it came to it – as she’d overhead others say, they’d need to cross that bridge when they came to it.

She hated that she and Graeme were going to be vulnerable.  She hated that they needed to beg for assistance, that they would probably need to barter things that they didn’t have.  It was difficult to think of the things she would likely have to do in order to gain the assistance of the Warlock. 

From behind her, Graeme said, “Hey, shut the fridge door.  You’re blowing through electricity.”

She jumped, losing the remaining corner of her pizza to the grime covering the dishes in the sink.  She frowned down at the loss, briefly, before turning around to snatch the pizza box from the shelf in the fridge and shut the door.  She hadn’t realized she’d left it open.  “Sorry,” she mumbled, and set the pizza box on the counter to avoid a repeat of the problem.

Graeme reached for a slice of his own and propped himself up against the edge of the island counter.  “You seem unsettled.  Is everything all right?”

She met his eyes, thinking, is everything all right?  Of course it’s not all right, Graeme.  We’re doomed – how can you not see that?  Instead, she said, “I am just trying to formulate a plan for dealing with the Warlocks.  I’ve never done business with one before, and I have no idea what they’re going to want from us.  We’re not exactly asking for a throw-away spell, here.  We’re asking for something that is going to have a high cost.  I don’t know how we’re going to pay it.”

Graeme chewed on a bite of pizza and contemplated her words.  After a long silence – during which she’d nearly abandoned the hope that he would have anything to say at all – he said, “I don’t think it’s going to be as difficult as you think.  Even if they’re not on our side, per say, they’re going to be more inclined to work with us than they are with demons.  What if we could offer them some kind of information trade?  There’s got to be something you know that they don’t.  Just think about everything you told me the other night.  The books cover so little, and it’s so restricted.  Something you know has got to be worth something to them.”

He was trying to comfort her, even though the hope he harbored was paper-thin and already wearing down.  The gesture was kind, though, and she offered him a tepid smile for it.  “Perhaps you’re right, Graeme.”

They both knew the truth.

The End

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