Chapter 17

The air was cold and oppressive, biting my bare skin with its many miniature teeth. As the sun eventually disappeared from view, the street lamps became brighter and cast their light in our wake. Gabriel held my hand in his as we wandered through the streets, in a warm, cordial silence that made me smile. This perfection was shattered as a metal demon tore down the road which passed us. I looked into his eyes as he held me close. I remembered the feeling of my father's coat against my face as I burrowed into it, and began to cry.

"It's ok to cry, Ayla, I promise." He placed his hands tentatively on my back, before hugging me closer to his chest. I felt his heart thumping against my ears, reminding me of a life which had been ripped from my hands. For a small second, Gabriel's arms became my father's, and I smiled in remembrance of his strengthening embrace. The tears eventually stopped and my heart was filled with a new energy. We walked on, happier now, accompanied by an invisible presence which lingered within our core. Eventually, we reached the labyrinth of alleyways, and made it to the familiar fire around which sat our impoverished friends. They waved and whistled manically at our arrival. I took my usual place between Gabriel and Jacoby and drew the soup flasks from my bag. As I poured a cup for each of them, Jacoby said,

"Both of you look much happier. Gabriel certainly looks healthier too, and he certainly scrubs up well!" Everyone laughed as Gabriel held his head in his hands, overcome with embarrassment. 

"We are happier. We're good for each other." I replied. Suddenly, Mia looked up from her soup and said innocently,

"You should get married!" Everyone fell about laughing at this, myself included. Gabriel and I looked at each other, and I thought fondly on the idea. We brushed fingers for a moment, at which point Jacoby stood up and swapped places with me, muttering to himself about "puppy love". As I leant my head on Gabriel's shoulder, I smiled, knowing in my most secret of hearts that Jacoby was wrong.

Eventually, when all of the cups had made their way back to my rucksack, and everyone had laughed and gasped at the various memories of the group, Gabriel and I departed and arrived home in plenty of time. Having quickly changed into my pyjamas and brushed my teeth, I got into bed and lay down. Gabriel came into my room, still in his own clothes.

"Oh, how silly of me, let me get you some pyjamas." I said.

"I'll be fine. I have mastered the art of getting dressed in bed."

"So what are you going to wear then?"

"Umm, my underwear, I guess." I stifled a laugh, then asked him,

"Are you sure you don't want me to get you some pyjamas?"

"No, I'm used to it. It'll remind me of the others outside." I smiled, accepting this as a perfectly good reason to not wear nightclothes.

"Goodnight, Gabriel. Sleep well."

"Goodnight."

We whispered quietly until the day died. 

The End

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