I’d never actually met Mark and Lisa. I’d watched them from on high so to speak, wheeling through the air overhead to see that they were alive and well, but I’d never spoken to them. I‘d never knocked on their door and given them cupcakes. I’d never brought another Cherub to their doorstep and made them feel awkward. I had now though, and it had been everything uncomfortable thing I’d thought it would be. I knew that they knew, but it’s still not normal for a mortal to accept that the people standing there bringing them baking were angels who’d started a war against their own kind. I think to a great extent they still hadn’t fully accepted it. I guess it was one of those things you do because you have to, not because you wanted to.
We’d not even really tried at small talk. I told them who I was and gave them the plastic container with the cupcakes in it. Serielle smiled and tried to simmer and bubble less than she usually did. We both did. There was a mood of tension and sadness and I’d told her as we walked up to the door to just keep cool and not try to cheer these people up too much. They had every right to be unhappy with all of this; there are certain parts of people’s lives that shouldn’t overlap with certain parts of other people’s lives. Not having a choice made it all worse. So that everyone else could have choices back they had had to give up theirs. That’s pretty dismal if you ask me. No one had asked me, though. Even if they had I would have deferred input, letting someone else make a call on this one. They were good people and didn’t deserve to be put in the position they were in.
They trusted Aliona though. ‘That’s how faith works’ as she was always saying. I had knocked on the door expecting them to display some kind of broken sadness, but it was a grim acceptance and determination that had greeted us instead. Especially from Lisa; I had a feeling that this woman could chew up steel and spit nails. Mark, the man, had been detached. Resentful almost. They’d both asked if we knew how Aliona was doing and I was a bit ashamed to admit to them that I didn’t even really know where she was. I think they were in the Middle East somewhere but I couldn’t be sure. I told them that the less they knew the better it actually was for them. They couldn’t be forced to tell anyone something that they didn’t know. I shouldn’t have said it, it scared them and set off a line of questioning to which I had no choice but to respond the same way. You don’t want to know. The less you know the better. I’m in the city if you need anything, call this number and I’ll be here in moments. Etcetera.
When Mark told me to keep an eye out for her, to keep her safe if I could, I hadn’t meant to laugh. It wasn’t funny, it was just silly and it wasn’t his fault he didn’t know that. Me keep her safe? Ha. It wasn’t their fault they didn’t get the joke. It wasn’t their fault that they had only the barest and leanest understanding of exactly who she was. She told me that she’d explained it to them and when they didn’t get it she’d touched them and shown them. There had to be a kind of love between the three of them that I couldn’t fathom in order for them not to have had their minds burned out by such a thing.
They’d shown us the Rislyn flower in the backyard when Sara asked to see it. It made her weep. They just don’t get that big. It wasn’t just tears of joy though, there was something else to Serielle’s tears. I didn’t push it though, I could sense she’d rather not talk about it. We left in awe. I was still amazed by the sight of it and we drove in silence when we left, not saying a word until we pulled up in a shopping district. That’s probably why I hadn’t noticed the car following us; I’m not a ‘secret agent’ type, it wasn’t my bag. That was more Christopher’s game, and he was with Aliona and Avrielle who knows where doing who knows what. I saw it when we left the shops though, low and black and tinted.
My new jeans were stiff and tight, I couldn’t wait for them to be broken in a bit more so I didn’t feel like I was wearing paper. The shirt, thin black and white vertical stripes, was soft though and the black glasses with the chunky white frames I wore hid my eyes. It was a necessary evil sometimes; I didn’t really know what we were walking into and I didn’t need the attention of everyone I made eye contact with. Sara and I drew enough attention as it was just by being what we were. She had worn her own pair; narrow and angular, black frames, gold tinted lenses. Tight jeans that made her ass pop out like a school kid trying to get someone’s attention and a little black jacket over a dark yellow t shirt. All we had to do was walk anywhere and people would notice us, glossy and poised like a magazine cover. The eyes made it that much harder to slip through the rest of the world without people wanting to follow you around.
It just wasn’t easy for Cherubs to blend in. Even when we tried we just stood out even more in the obviously feigned nonchalance. Whoever was following us wouldn’t have a hard time of it. I’d taken Sara’s keys and got behind the wheel in case we needed to do something tricky. She tried to assure me she could drive as well as anyone but that wasn’t good enough for me. If there was one thing other than seduction games and subtly moving things into their proper place that I was good at it was driving. I could make a vehicle do things the manufacturers had only dreamed about when planning the commercials with marketing executives. The fastest route between two points came naturally to me. I became almost one with whatever car I was in control of; it became an extension of my body and almost responded at the speed of thought.
LA traffic is a real bitch though, and you can’t lose someone in gridlock. I turned the stereo down and looked to Sara in the passenger seat.
“Did you see that car? The black one following us?” I asked her.
“Car?” she asked, looking in the door mirror on her side of the car, using the little stick to move it. “I don’t see it. There’s a lot of cars back there, are you sure?”
“Put the mirror back, yeah? I need that to drive,” I told her. She moved it around while I tried to do the same with the little control on my own side of the car. We achieved nothing; it was more out of place now than it had been before so I gave up. “It’s a black town car three back and one lane to the right. See if you can see what the driver’s thinking, I’m going to get us off this freeway.”
Serielle slid into the back, kneeling on the back seat and peering over its top she craned her neck back and forth, removing her sunglasses. I saw a small opening and wedged the car into it. People honked and shook their fists at me as I wiggled across three lanes of barely moving vehicles and coasted down an off ramp into an industrial area.
“They’re coming,” she said. I glanced in the rearview mirror and sure enough they were. They freed themselves from the snarled traffic and were sitting at the top of the exit, waiting for me to get some distance before they followed. “I can’t get inside, Samael. Something’s stopping me.”
“Jolly,” I said sarcastically and stomped the pedal to the floor, gliding around the curve of the ramp and into the wide streets and side lanes of the small city of large warehouses and the like that grow and form under the highways and freeways and traffic exchanges of any major city. “I’m glad you have a decent car, yeah?”
“Don’t wreck my car!” she said, climbing back into the front seat. “l love this car. They’re still back there.”
“We’ll see about that, won’t we?” I knifed the car to the right around a corner without slowing, sliding gracefully around the corner and drifting into a side lane to head back the way we’d come from. “Put on your seatbelt, love.”
I floored it again and turned left, through the open chain link gate in a fence around a yard stacked with shipping containers and racks of huge steel pipe. I raced between the rows of containers and jacked the green BMW between two of them while Sara gripped the door in one hand and the center console in her other. She’d put her glasses back on but I could tell by her raised brow that she had her eyes wide. I shifted higher and slid around the end of the row, the tires and Sara squealing.
“We’re in a yard, Samael,” she said. “There’s a fence, why’d we come in here?”
“There’s an opening up ahead,” I said calmly, the engine’s purr raised to a growl as we flew towards the back of one of the warehouses.
As we flew towards it Sara was just starting to yell at me to stop when a large door in its wall door started sliding upwards. As we reached it people in coveralls with their sleeves cut off jumped back out of the way and we shot under the door’s edge, only an inch or so of space keeping the roof from being separated from the rest of the car. The front of the warehouse was open to the street and we sped through, welding sparks bouncing off the hood as we passed the shocked workers inside. I wrenched the wheel around and we slid sideways and turned right again. We were heading back down the same street we were on before I turned into the storage yard and the black car was ahead of us, someone talking through the passenger window to a blue clad worker of some sort.
Whoever it was looked back towards us, hanging out the window, and banged on the outside of the door with the palm of their hand. They sped off, us coming up fast behind them.
“I thought we were trying to get away!?” Sara yelled.
“Change of plans. Let’s be proactive, yeah?” I had to know who they were, how long they’d been following us, what the hell they wanted.
“Just don’t wreck my car!” she pleaded.
We raced after the black town car through the streets and lanes of the industrial area. The driver knew what he was doing, but he didn’t have what I have. A supernatural ability to see the right path, the right turns to make, when to speed up and when to slow down. I don’t know how I do it, it just happens. They’d pull ahead as I slowed and find themselves blocked by a truck backing up and we’d cut between some buildings to come out beside them. They’d try to lose us by cutting back and forth through side lanes and when they pulled back onto a main road I’d be there, right behind them. Eventually I saw them pull into a narrow space between stacked crates and I slowed to a crawl, waiting to see what they’d do. They must have thought they’d lost us.
I killed the engine and coasted towards them quietly, stopping with Sara’s car blocking their exit from the blind alley. The two men in the front seat actually ducked down quickly, as though we hadn’t already seen them. Amateurs. I got out of the car, leaving the driver’s door open, and Sara followed.
“Pip pip and all that,” I said, waving and smiling. They slowly slid back up in their seats, the driver saying something to the other. They looked to be arguing about what to do next. Sara was right; something stopped me from touching their minds and hearing their thoughts. Odd; someone had protected them. Someone who knew what they were doing and who they’d be following.
The driver got out, keeping the open door of their car between us. “We don’t want any trouble.”
“Then don’t follow people!” Sara said. She sounded nervous, unsure. This wasn’t my game, but it wasn’t even in her vocabulary. I held my hand out towards her, motioning for her to stay calm.
“What are you two on about?” I asked him, jutting my chin towards him.
The other one got out of the car and spoke. “We’ve broken no laws. We’re just doing a job is all.”
“Right, right,” I said, “just doing a job, then. Care to explain how that involves us?”
“Not really,” said the driver as he shrugged his shoulders around like he was stretching or getting ready for…whatever. “So what now?”
“Now you tell us who you work for and why you’re following us!” Sara shouted at them. I looked over my shoulder at her quickly, frowning at her to be quiet, and I saw her eyes go wide. I heard the shot before I could turn back around to face the men and Sara shrieked, her hand flying up over her mouth.
I really hate being shot. Not only does it hurt as much as you’d think it would, but it wrecks nice clothes. I looked at the man on the passenger side of the car, down at the smoking hole in my chest, and back up to him with a look of surprise on my face. As they both crouched down behind the open doors of the car I whipped my sunglasses from my face. “I wish you’d not done that, this is a new shirt.”
They both had guns in their hands now and were not nearly as surprised as I would have liked them to be that I’d taken a bullet to the chest and yet I was still standing and talking. Mortals don’t usually react well to that sort of thing. Before either of them could pull their triggers I was already beside their car, kicking the passenger door shut on the one that had shot me. It slammed against him, knocking him into the seat. A shot rang out from the driver and the bullet pounded into my right shoulder. I heard Sara’s savage scream and she was on him before I could stop her. He didn’t even have a chance to turn and face her as she flew through the air with her arms and legs wide, driving him to the ground under her small body while raining blows on him.
I put my hand on the roof of the car and vaulted over it to land beside her and pull her off of him. It was too late though. Cherubs are beautiful and fun and care free at the best of times; but they’re fucking terrifying at the worst of times. She had his blood dripping from her arms all the way from her hands to her elbows and his face was paste. Sara was still screaming and struggled against me. I set her down behind me and she stood with her knees bent and her hands like claws, panting. She snapped her head to the side and I followed her gaze. The other man had slid behind the wheel and started the engine. He was just hitting the gas when she lunged again, through the windshield and onto him.
Straddled over his lap in the driver’s seat she had his leather jacket in her fists and was smashing her forehead and face into him over and over rapidly. It was over before I could stop her and I pulled her off of his limp form through the open driver’s side door, pushing her hard against the brick wall of the narrow alley. She pushed and struggled to get free so I pushed her into the wall and caught her eyes with mine. She hadn’t even taken her glasses off and they hung cracked and twisted and broken from one of her ears.
“Whoa!” I yelled. “Simmer down, yeah!?”
“They…they…they shot you,” she panted between her teeth. “No one…gets to shoot…you…again.”
“Would have been nice to talk to them though, wouldn’t it?” I said forcefully. She looked past me to the car, then back to me, and visibly calmed. She yanked the shattered glasses from her face and threw them to the ground, pulling away from my grasp.
She pointed at the dead body behind the wheel. “That one was going to drive into my car, Samael. I love that car.”
I had to laugh then. It was likely an inappropriate time for mirth, but I had to do it. You really shouldn’t come between a Cherub and something they love. What else was she supposed to do? I put my hand on her shoulder and squeezed; Sara smiled at me sheepishly and said, “That was kinda stupid, wasn’t it?”
“Messy and stupid,” I said. “But I forgive you. Let’s toss through the car and see what we can find and then get out of here, yeah?”
In both their wallets were business cards. Private investigators. In the glove box was information on Sara. Her address, her movements, her prices, some of her clients. There was a manila envelope with black and white photographs of her in a parking garage in her car with Cassidy Swanson getting in the passenger seat beside her. There were photos of her at Becca’s school, the girl getting in the passenger seat, and Cassidy talking to Sara through the driver’s window. There was more of the same from other days and other places.
I showed Sara the pictures. “Looks like you have a fan out there somewhere.”
“Shit,” she said softly. “You’re right, this is getting messy.”
“Let’s get out of here, yeah?”
She nodded and we got in her car and left the sloppy human wreckage behind us.
We’re Off To See the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of…Whatever
They’d shot Samael. I’d never seen my reaction coming but I’d never loved anyone the way I loved him. I guess I shouldn’t have done it, but I’d just gotten so fucking angry. They’d shot Samael. There had been no thought, no plan, no reason, just a searing white hot rage. Nothing had ever felt like that before; not anytime recently anyway. The last time I’d killed someone had been a long time ago; and wouldn’t you know it, it had at least sort of been because of Samael then too. Not that he knew that. Now that I was thinking about it, he probably knew now though. I looked over at him and he looked back. I couldn’t read his mind. I couldn’t even really read his face.
I was learning all sorts of things about myself in the last two days.
Samael was on the phone as he drove. “Thanks, friend. No no, tell her they’re fine, yeah? I won’t. I will. You keep yourself safe, too. Right Christopher, bye then.”
“I’m sorry,” I said sheepishly, using a wet nap from my glove box to clean blood from my face. Samael hadn’t said anything to me since we’d started driving and I could tell he was angry with me. “I’m really sorry; I’ve never lost it like that.”
“You know that’s not true. I heard you just now,” he replied to me. He was right. I shouldn’t have lied to him but I didn’t like thinking about Germany. It made me feel dirty and gross and used.
“It wasn’t the same though; I was a young and impulsive Cherub back then and I didn’t know any better. This wasn’t the same thing at all.”
“You’re still a young and impulsive Cherub. The difference between then and now is that you’ve never been in love before,” he said calmly as he drove and looked at the address he’d written down while talking on the phone. “That wasn’t anger back there, it was wrath Serielle. Real deal wrath.”
“Is it always like that? When someone messes with something you love?” I already knew the answer. This wasn’t my first brush with wrath, though I’d hoped to never feel it again.
“It is if you don’t learn to control it,” he explained.
“You’re mad at me, aren’t you?” I asked him. He still loved me; that much I could see in the Choir with my own eyes. I couldn’t read his surface thoughts though. He was keeping them from me. I had to learn how to do that.
“I’m mad, but not at you. I can’t really blame you for being a Cherub now, can I?” I looked at me briefly and smiled and the whole world fell back into place for me. I breathed a sigh of relief and returned his smile. “You missed some, right there beside your nose.”
I took another wet nap from the package and kept cleaning my face. I felt pretty foolish for what I’d done. We’re not really supposed to kill mortals. That was one of the rules.
“We’re off book though, Serielle,” Samael said to me. “We’re not playing by those rules anymore. Remember what I showed you last night?”
How could I forget? Just a glimpse of the Lamb’s Spark, seen through Samael, had almost killed me. “Yeah, I know. We’re on some higher level shit now, right?”
“That’s it exactly. We have to color outside the lines a bit until this is all over, yeah? Would you feel better if you were forgiven?”
“I would,” I told Sam. “I really would.”
“Do it then. Forgive yourself.” Samael looked over at me and winked behind his glasses. I couldn’t see it but I felt it. “No one else can do it for you.”
“Did she teach you that, too?” I asked him. What I wouldn’t give to meet Aliona; what I wouldn’t give never to have to stand in front of her. There were angels, there were demons, and then there was her; neither but a bit of both. The rumor was she wasn’t of a caste anymore. The word was she had become…something else.
“No, not really. I saw myself as she saw me and I just…got over it all.” There was awe in his voice; whether at her, at himself, or at this whole mess they had started I couldn’t tell.
“I think I’ve fucked this up,” I said quietly.
“You’re missing something though, love. We have an in now. The Choir has a way of working itself out if you just let it do its own thing. We know someone is following you, we know someone is taking pictures of you with Cassidy, and we know that they have backing from our kind. Otherwise they’d not have been able to block us both out.”
“Yeah, but I killed those guys, Samael. I killed them. They were just doing their jobs and I killed them.” Old guilt swelled inside of me and I rammed it back down where I’d kept it locked up for decades.
“They shot me, Serielle,” Samael said, glancing at the address again and making a turn.
They’d shot Samael. I was feeling better about it already. “I know, right? Good people don’t do that.”
“Exactly,” he said, smiling at me. “You’re getting it.”
“So now what?” I asked him.
“Now we find out who hired them and then we go ask them what they want from you.”
There was a grim set to his jaw. As I thought about it I understood; he loved me and they had been following me. He probably felt at least a little how I had felt when they shot him. For a second part of me wished I’d never gone to Kendra’s house yesterday and seen him there. I was in something now that was nothing like my life had been up to this point. I knew what I was doing when I said I’d help them; but I hadn’t exactly thought all the way through it. I’d always been a bit impulsive but it had never landed me in the middle of the End Times before. Now I’d chosen a side and there was no going back.
“So that was this Christopher guy on the phone? Where are we going?” I asked Samael.
“Some friend of his. I’d rather have just called but apparently this guy doesn’t even have a phone. He doesn’t trust them. He’ll help us figure out who these guys were that were following you and who they might be working for.”
“So this is what it feels like to be free? Seems like a lot of work,” I joked and Samael laughed.
“It’s the only reason we’re doing all of this at all. Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course you can,” I said happily, throwing the stained wet naps out the window of my car as he drove. “But can’t you just see it in my head?”
“Sure, but I’d rather hear you say it, yeah? If…when this is all over we probably won’t be able to do that anymore anyway. Besides, I like the sound of your voice, love.” Samael smiled at me again and I lit up inside.
“Really?” I said shyly. What a stupid little girl thing to say. If I couldn’t see the love that bound us I might have thought he was just flattering me. “So what did you want to ask?”
“I left before it got really bad and no one would ever talk about it after the fact. What exactly did happen in Germany?”
He really wanted to know. I really didn’t want to talk about it. Love transcends secrets though. So I told him.
Kein Mitleid Für Die Mehrheit…
Daniel Bietak was Austrian but he lived in Germany. Chosen from a pool of twelve others he’d been the Seraphim’s hope to help them with their plans for the area. The Christian Democratic Union was who they wanted in charge of the Rhineland-Palatinate in Allied-controlled Germany. I didn’t know why; probably because they liked the Christian part. Seraphim were like that. They liked the way the mortals had formed this whole little myth to help those that were in the know make sense of the immortals that walked among them. Me, I just followed orders so there I was.
After the election in May, 1947, Daniel should have gone home but he didn’t. It only took a little digging to find out it was because of Analiesse. Analiesse was tall and pretty, prim and proper. Analiesse was only a simple kitchen girl though and someone with political ties like Daniel had couldn’t be seen with someone like her. He had helped the CDU win the referendum that formed the state in the first place and the Seraphim had wanted him happy. Analiesse was to be his reward I guess. It didn’t sit well with me that they’d have let the two orbit and then separate if he hadn’t helped them out first; but since he had, I did what I was asked gladly.
It was obvious he loved her; all you had to do was watch the way he followed her with his eyes whenever she was bringing a soup tureen or removing a silver platter from the ambassador’s dining room. I didn’t like the ambassador very much; I didn’t like the way he groped at all the women that worked in his household, I didn’t like the way he leered at them, and I didn’t like his table manners. You don’t slurp soup, you don’t spoon towards yourself, you don’t take a drink when there’s still food in your mouth, and you do not hold red wine by the stem or white by the bottom of the glass. There’s a right way and wrong way to do everything.
That’s how I ended up working in the ambassador’s household; to get close enough to Analiesse to help her see that Daniel Bietak was in love with her. Getting the job had been easy, doing the real job wasn’t so much. Cherub’s usually got what they wanted. Despite what other castes thought we didn’t sleep around to get it either; we could usually flash a grin and a wink in the right direction and doors just opened for us. So I was a kitchen girl. The ambassador liked tall women to serve him and his guests and so I washed dishes, scraping enough food from the plates and platters each night to feed whole families. The beating I’d received when I’d first been caught sneaking it out to the poor district of Mainz when I left at night didn’t stop me from continuing to do it; it just taught me not to get caught. I’d endured the beating stoically; almost happily. I hadn’t been on my own in service to the Council very often and I took the blows proudly, knowing that they couldn’t really hurt me and by the time this was all over I’d have completed my first good joining.
Yeah, I wanted to kill them. I wanted to show them they were no better than what they’d just overthrown a few years ago. Mortals were like that though; the only real reason they fought against tyrants was so that they could pick up the whip and take over. It wasn’t ‘don’t beat the proles’ so much as it was ‘here, let me’ beat the proles.’ I was glad I hadn’t been born yet in the days of Rome. I wouldn’t have gotten very much done. No, I took the beating and kept my mouth shut and my hands to myself. I was still naive enough to think that they would get there’s some day.
I know; young and foolish.
Analiesse liked phonograph records of Prussian opera and so did Daniel Bietak. It was pretty easy to get them in the same room one evening, but it wasn’t very easy to get them to talk. Analiesse tidied up the glasses from an evening of scotch and port while Daniel relaxed in a wing backed chair and played the phonograph. The ambassador had older tastes and I suppose it wasn’t really a phonograph so much as it was a gramophone, one of the old ones that took spools instead of discs. Not very modern, but the ambassador was wealthy and important enough to support eccentricities and antique affectations. Daniel watched Analiesse and she knew it, proud of herself but nervous.
Two days before the ambassador had offered her to Daniel and he’d refused. It had broken her heart that he didn’t want her, and I’d tried to explain to her in my little rented room that night that maybe he just didn’t want her to be given to him like a party favor. Maybe he wanted her to feel like a woman, not a piece of property. It was all true, and she wanted desperately to believe me, but she had a serf mindset. Mortals were frustrating; I still didn’t have enough experience with them to understand that they’re just like that. They love to hate themselves. It made my job fucking hard sometimes, but if they weren’t like that then I’d be out of a job I suppose.
I’d grown very fond of both of them in the weeks I had spent in the ambassador’s household. I truly cared for Analiesse and wanted all things to be well for her; we had become fast friends. I truly liked and respected Daniel Bietak; he was not like other aristocrats, he cared for others more than he cared for his own power and influence. Had I been mortal I would have wanted to be their friends forever. I toyed with the idea of staying in contact with them when I was finished joining them so I could watch them grow old together. So I could play with their children and watch over them as well as they grew and found love of their own.
Hiding behind some drapes in the corner I’d gently strung their mutual love between them and wiggled it a bit. I tried to tie it tighter together but their own social restrictions made it difficult. One was an aristocrat, descended from nobility. The other was a kitchen girl, descended from kitchen girls. They fought against themselves hard enough that it made everything I was doing feel futile. I wanted to step out and yell at them to just get on with it already, but that’s just not how it’s done. I was young and impatient and at my wits end.
That’s when hewalked in. Samael, one of the greatest amongst the Fold. Beautiful, perfect Samael.
He walked in, sat down across from Bietak, and started talking to him about the opera. He knew I was there, he had to, but he gave no sign. As they spoke he looked appreciatively at Analiesse from time to time and I could hear the thoughts in Bietak’s mind. He was angry, jealous, and despite being a rather gentle and thoughtful sort of man he was getting quite angry and violent images were flashing though his mind. What did Samael think he was doing? Here I was trying to set the mood so two people could fall in love and he was fucking it all up. Was this a test? I was having a hard enough time as it was without someone showing up and making it harder.
Analiesse was intrigued. How could she not be? Samael could steal a king’s queen if he wanted to. He was draping little strands of love at her, softly binding her to him as he followed her with his eyes and Bietak got angrier and angrier. Samael kept the conversation light but made sure that Daniel saw what he was doing. He shared a wink with Analiesse and my heart sank. That was it then. I was undone. When he bid Bietak good evening and left the room she found a reason to leave as well. I couldn’t follow. I couldn’t stop him or Daniel would know I had been hiding behind the drapes, watching them. I waited and hid and fumed and frowned.
When Daniel stood up and straightened his waistcoat my heart jumped into my throat at his thoughts. I’d not known such violence lurked in such a demure and cultured man. When he left the room I quietly slipped out behind him and followed him down the hall. He stopped and listened at a door, his eyes going wide. I heard a shriek from behind the door and Bietak yelled out, “Analiesse!” as he rammed his shoulder into the door twice to burst the latch and knock it inwards.
“Take your hands from that woman!” he yelled, pulling a revolver from under his jacket.
I’d been able to slip further down the hall and hide in the shadows of an alcove opposite the door. Samael had one hand around Analiesse’s wrist and the other was groping at her breast. He had a very fake look of surprise on his face, and he let her pull away from his grasp. She fell to the floor, covering her mouth with her hands and shrieking.
“Come now, she’s just a kitchen girl,” Samael said to Daniel. “You can have a go when I’m through.”
“You sir are a thug!” Daniel said, brandishing his gun at Samael. “Stand back!”
Samael took a step forward menacingly and Daniel pulled the trigger. When the slug took Samael in the chest he stumbled backwards clumsily, grasping at his chest where he’d been shot and screaming “Arrgghhh!” as he fell backwards out the fourth floor window. As he smashed through the glass and clutched at the drapes to try to stop himself from falling I could have sworn he caught my eyes across the room and the shadows and winked at me.
What was he doing? Then I got it. Then I understood. I saw the look on Analiesse’s face as Bietak helped her to her feet. I saw the strands of light between them twine together as she fell against his chest and he dropped the gun to put his arms around her. I saw his tears and hers mingle as their faces pressed against each other, and as they kissed I was only relieved for a moment. They must have called in Samael to finish in one night what I had been working at for weeks. The Seraphim. I had failed and they had sent Samael. My little fists were clenched at my sides and I shook in anger at myself for letting the Fold down.
Daniel Bietak took Analiesse in his arms to the couch as they kissed passionately. He lowered her to the seat, then onto her back. His hand had found the bottom hem of her long skirt and pushed it up over her long white legs. She was pulling at his shirt, yanking it slowly free from the top of his slacks. Daniel was pulling her underwear down over her legs as Analiesse unbuttoned his waist coat and pushed it, his jacket, and his shirt back over his shoulders. Neither of them got what they were doing completely finished before they gave up and their hands moved instead between them, freeing his cock from his pants and putting it against her warm pussy between her thighs.
Daniel pushed himself into Analiesse and they made love on the couch, fast and passionate at first then slowing to a gentle grind and writhe as they lost themselves in each other. I could see the strands becoming ropes and bonds, locking them to each other in ways their bodies alone could not. I felt tears in my eyes at the beauty of it.
Analiesse clutched at his shoulders, her trimmed nails digging into his skin and muscles. His hips flexed forward and back as he made love to her at last and they both moaned softly and told each other of their love. They became one there on the couch, and I held out my hand to see the Rislyn flower blossom in my palm. When they were finished they lay in each other’s arms, panting.
“Come away with me,” Daniel said to her. “Come away back to Austria with me, Analiesse.”
“I’ll go anywhere with you,” she said to him, meaning every word.
It was done. I felt as though I had failed, but at least it was done.
“We shall leave tomorrow,” he said to her. “In the afternoon, after I’ve packed.”
She nodded and cried tears of joy. I felt defeated by it all. I was in awe of Samael though. I found myself thinking things about him I’d never thought about another immortal before. He was known for his subtlety, but this had been something I hadn’t expected. Subtle, but in such a forthright manner I would never have considered it. He was the Cherub the rest of us tried to be like, and I’d just seen him do in 30 minutes what would have taken me three more months left to my own designs.
I lay the Rislyn flower next to a delicate and graceful vase on a small pedestal outside the door of the room where they had last fallen in love, and I left them there and went out of the ambassador’s household and into the streets of Mainz to see if I could find Samael somewhere. I looked through the old quarter and the poor district, hoping to find him speaking to prostitutes and trying to get them to change their ways. I couldn’t find him though. Maybe he had already left the city and gone off to do great deeds elsewhere. There was no way for me to know. Ephra should have come already to tell me it was over, but he had probably forgotten all about little Serielle. How could you not? I was rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, after all.
I didn’t know that Analiesse hadn’t gone to Daniel’s rooms with him that night. I didn’t know that she had left the ambassador’s estate and gone home to her small apartment on her own. I didn’t know that she’d been followed by two of the ambassador’s door men and raped in an alley with her face pushed into the dirt and grime of the street. I didn’t know until the next day when I showed up to work for the last time to bid her goodbye and good luck and found her sobbing outside the back door of the kitchen, bruises under her eyes and on her arms telling me what had happened before her words could.
Daniel Bietak had been outraged. Apparently he had heard them laughing and joking about it in the hall as he’d packed and readied himself to leave and enjoy the rest of his life with his one true love. He’d threatened them and made a scene. He’d threatened the ambassador and made things even worse for himself. When he drew his gun on that foul thing of a man he’d been shot. When Analiesse found out she’d taken her own life with a sharp knife in the kitchen.
All the while I did nothing. I was stunned. I was aghast. And then I was outraged when I saw that she had found the Rislyn flower and put it in her hair, still intending to leave with her love despite what had been forced on her in some dirty alley. It was dead and wilted, brown and limp. It came over me like the night after a setting sun. Standing over her body where I’d found it in the pantry, stepping back from the growing pool of blood, I couldn’t feel my hands anymore. I clenched them into fists and turned around to see one of the door men responsible standing there, about to laugh.
The next thing I knew he was staring blankly at where his arm used to be, watching in quiet shock as blood bubbled out of the wound. His jaw went next, and I found myself shrieking in the hallway outside of the kitchen. The other was there, drawing a weapon. It went off and the bullet lodged in the ceiling as I ripped his chest open wide with hands like claws, his insides now outside and falling to the floor. As I raced through the halls screaming my rage more guards tried to stop me. Bullets tore my flesh, and I tore theirs. No one who didn’t flee my anger lived as I spiraled upwards through the house.
Drenched in blood, my wings having sprung into view at some point in my rampage, I went through the locked doors into the ambassador’s top floor office like a bomb. Dripping with the blood of the dead I drug him to the floor under me and began taking him apart in little handfuls, throwing bits of him around the room as I screamed and screamed and screamed.
I hated him so much.
“Stop.” The deep and reverberating voice said it both in my mind and out, shattering glass and shaking the whole building. “You go too far Cherub.”
I turned at the waist to see Ephra, his long hair, as white as his skin, hanging straight like corn silk over his lean and carved looking naked body past his waist. Light from inside of him lit the dark curtained room like the dawn and I could hear the energy crackling around him like lightning.
“They DESERVE this!!” I screamed with my mouth and my mind.
“No.” He didn’t have to shout to shake the world. It was his raw power that did it. “You deserved this.”
“ME!?” I howled, still straddling the twitching and torn corpse of the ambassador. “YOU did this!?”
“You had to learn not to get close to them . They are only mortals, Cherub. We are divine and must stand apart. Above. Now you see.”
I did not calm easily, but I calmed. At the time I had still been open to their ‘lessons’. The Seraphim knew the Truth and should be heeded, and so I heeded Ephra. He had shown me the danger of hate, and that to be too close to the mortals, to be too like the mortals, was to Fall.
With a single thought Ephra burned the estate to the ground, along with all those inside who had witnessed my rage and knew the truth of our existence.
I’d never been back to Germany.
Mein Herz Ist Dein Herz…
Serielle was crying and I’d pulled the car over to the side of the street and turned the engine off. With her face in her hands her back shook and heaved, tremors racking her small frame when it wasn’t surging with grief.
“I didn’t know,” I whispered to her. “I was just following orders.”
“I know,” she cried. “It wasn’t your fault, it was mine.”
“It was not,” I told her, putting my hand on her back. “It was theirs. This is exactly why we do what we now do. They’ve done this from the very beginning of man, serving their own ruthless agenda and playing us all, us and the mortals alike, against one another. It has to stop.”
“I know,” Serielle said again. When she looked up at me, her face twisted and distorted with the grief at what she had done and the guilt the Seraphim had made her feel over it, I felt my heart trying to break but I wouldn’t let it.
“Is that why you’ve been on your own since?” I asked softly.
“Mhm,” she mumbled, wiping her tears with the cuff of her jacket but only succeeding in spreading the drying blood soaked into it across her cheek. “I don’t really like our kind very much, Samael.”
I opened the glove box and she went for the wet naps again, trying to smile through her pain but only looking sadder for the effort. I wiped a tear of my own from below my eye and rubbed her back as she cleaned her face again.
“Promise me something,” she said to me as her sobs subsided, her voice shaking with all the things she felt.
“Anything, Serielle. Anything.”
“When it comes time…Ephra is mine.”
We held each other’s gaze for what felt like eternity, her tears still flowing but her mind and body frighteningly still. I nodded grimly and she smiled a small smile as she spoke.
“My fucking pleasure,” I said, and then pulled away from the curb.