|He was (foretold) wrote in repose,|
@ 2020-06-29 02:31:00
|Burden, he'd gone a handful of days without the shivershakes, and Father Amos had reckoned it was safe enough for him to go on out again. Course, that mostly had to do with this gala being held at the local art museum, on account of the attendance list included one Mr. Thompson. Thompson, Father Amos said, was rich as Croesus, and he was a real awful man to boot, and that combination was precisely the one the good father looked for when it came to marks. Father Amos, he reckoned bad folks had a responsibility to atone, whether they cared to or not, and atoning by giving to the needy, that was the best type of atonement. The Capital's Red Light District was filled with tent cities and folks needing sustenance, and Father Amos' church was smack dab in the middle of all that needing.|
All that, it explained why Burden found himself at the bar of the art museum, surrounded by folks dressed in formal, designer fashions. Getting an invite for himself, that was plenty easy. Father Amos' connections had led to Burden being plenty well established in the Capital as a rich southern man with a calling for Jesus, and he knew most of the faces circulating around.
Burden was dressed in Alexander McQueen, and Father Amos had called the suit a worthwhile investment. He held a glass of spiced rum on ice, and he listened as the presenter for the evening talked at the crowd gathered. The man was explaining that the Fairchild family was funding this charity that would ensure art reached folks who couldn't afford it. Burden thought food was a better thing to ensure got to folks that didn't have any, but no one had asked him. So, as he sipped, he looked around for Thompson. Once he found him, he would help himself to an imprint of the content of the man's wallet, and then he'd slip it right back on into the man's pocket, and with him none the wiser.
The tools of his trade, they were tucked away inside that expensive jacket Burden wore, and he smiled idle at all the rich and feckless folks around him. He was slight and small, was Burden, and he looked like every other bored young thing in attendance.
Heath wore a tux well. The lines were the sharp black of india ink on paper, the edge toward blue a suggestion that Heath's eyes had too. The shawl collar came in to a low center over his navel and the faint curvature of the coat inward toward the waist spoke of custom tailoring, as did Heath himself. He had been going to events like this since he was old enough to walk, and no one had ever held his hand. Accustomed to social scenes, he had a drink in his left hand (something crystalline red in a stemless glass) so his right was free to shake the hand of whomever was brought into his immediate circle at the end of the bar. His chin was up, the gold-touched lift of his hair out of his eyes, and if he'd had the impulse to hum, he wouldn't have heard it over the loudspeaker of the speaker of the evening.
At one point in the conversation someone said "representative of the Fairchild family here today, Mr. Heath Fairchild, and we appreciate…" so Heath nodded, smiled, and vaguely toasted the crowd's polite applause the way he was expected to. Eyes lingered on him for a minute, perhaps even two or three for the curious or idle, but eventually moved on as the speaker read out announcements for the silent auction and dessert.
As the attention fell away, Heath's hand flexed on his glass and he slowly put it down next to a container of sliced limes and glistening red cherries. He looked down at it, expression neutral. He wasn't sure what he was doing here. Why was he representing the Fairchild family? Who were the Fairchilds, anyway? Until their lawyer forwarded the invitation with a particular emphasis, Heath hadn't even known they were still funding mother's pet projects. He wondered if Chris knew, and thought she probably did. But no one else had been home, or answering the group text. He should have just let these people have their party without him. He should have tried to pull the funding.
Maybe he still would. He reached out for a cherry, not thinking, and yet certain that no one would tell him he shouldn't. Maybe that was what being a Fairchild was. He bit into the maraschino and let his eyes slide down the bar and along the floor.
Burden, he'd spent enough time in places like these to know that no one stopped the rich young things from nicking cherries. No one stopped them from anything, and Burden wasn't bitter on account of himself; he saw starving and hardship every day at Father Amos' church, where the homeless huddled down on the pews and crowded in to keep away from the elements. Warm days were coming, and it wouldn't be so bad as it was in winter, but it was still heartbreaking to see entire families with nowhere to sleep but a hard church pew. Those folks, they never did get to nick cherries from anywhere, and that was why Burden had been so easy to convince into stealing from folks. It was Robin Hooding, to be sure, but it came with good intentions, and Burden reckoned that canceled out any sinning that might be present.
Just now, Burden found himself next to one cherry-nicking young thing. He'd already spotted Mr. Thompson, and he was just biding his time, watching the crowd lazily. One elbow back on the bar, body faced out toward the crowd, drink sweating idle in his head, Burden looked on over at the blond.
Now, Burden knew the Fairchilds as the money behind this gala; Father Amos always let him know who was who, so he'd fit in right and know all the names. He'd seen the boy acknowledge the respectful thanks of the evening's speaker, and there wasn't a question in Burden's mind that this was Heath Fairchild, one of the many adopted Fairchild children. He didn't know anything about him beyond that; Father Amos said there was some scandal, and that the family was real private, but Burden reckoned that was enough knowledge. And the Fairchild boy, he wasn't Burden's target for the evening, but Father Amos always believed in forging connections.
And, so, Burden smiled a dimpled smile on over at Heath. "Evening," he said, sounding every bit the southern gentleman he wasn't; Burden cleaned up well.
Heath rolled the cherry to one side of his mouth and chewed as he shifted his attention sideways. Unlike some of his siblings, Heath didn't remember a time before the Fairchilds, and his accent was thoughtless and flawless, a so slight Southern that had a clip designed by the generations to make people think of money. "Oh, hi." He did not straighten his shoulders, nor did he drop the stem of the cherry still twisting between his first two fingers somewhere out of sight. He chewed, and thought that was he was done with this whole posing thing. He wondered if this was the way his oldest brother felt sometimes.
Heath didn't bother trying to scan his memory to figure out who this man was. He was young enough that he probably hadn't been going to the same places Heath had been five years ago before he took off, never intending to look back. Even as he decided not to care, he went through the small talk like an automaton already in motion. "Having fun?" Heath nudged the glass he'd abandoned to one side so he didn't accidentally nail it with one arm, and in asking the question he moved his gaze away from Burden's face. Maybe because he thought he knew the answer, but probably more likely because he didn't want the question returned.
Burden, he laughed. The sound, it carried some South with it, but was mostly something refined by a whole lot of lessons with a man Father Amos knew. But the South was there, sneaking in when he laughed, and his dimpled smile was plenty genuine. Now, Burden, he hadn't been raised to this, but he'd been to enough of these gatherings now to know just how dull they were, and that was what he read on the other man's face; polite boredom. "You don't have to make small talk with me," he offered, and there was something about Burden; he was charming. He'd always assumed it was just personality and nothing more, but he was real charming.
Golden and bored as well, Burden leaned back against the bar and looked on out at the crowd. When he mused a moment later, it was real and true; he wasn't just talking to fill the space between himself and someone Father Amos would think a fine mark. "I come to these events, and I always count the minutes until I can quit smiling inoffensively," he said, glancing over and giving Heath a dimpled smile. "Bellamy," he said of his name, an introduction, a thing given without reservation. And in the crowd, Mr. Thompson was still out there smiling and mingling, but Burden didn't pay him much mind just yet; he'd find Mr. Thompson when he was good and ready.
The laugh was unexpected. Heath didn't find anything at this party funny. He blinked and looked back at Burden, and then looked at him again, not harder but longer. Heath's face was naturally placid, like a very deep lake, and the sun shone off of it to hide much of what was beneath. "If I don't small talk, then what do you want to talk about?" Heath assumed it was something. Most people here would want something from him, even though he probably didn't have it.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Bellamy." He said it evenly, the way he had been taught, but he didn't give his hand nor did he bother giving the name everyone here already knew. It was a pretense, and Heath was on the edge with pretenses tonight.
Burden's smile remained as it was. Leisurely, casual, and he had to give the other boy credit for that point about talking small. "I reckon you have a point. I prefer real conversations, but some people aren't quite so keen to let the crowd know them. I think knowing is required for real conversations," he said, which was an answer, of sorts; it was an opening volley, an offering given about what they could talk about. Burden, he didn't want anything from this young man, but he also understood that the representative of a rich family was always going to think a person was looking for something, be it monetary or influential. "I come to these things, and the most genuine thing that happens is people hitting on other people. But I know your name from the forums in town, in Repose, so I guess we have something in common, if living in weird places can be considered an intersection point."
Heath blinked. This, at least, was an unexpected connection, and a valid one. Heath had been on the forums a few times. It was uncharacteristic for him: Heath owned no social accounts, he took no selfies, and his email address was as much use to him as the business cards they printed for him at an office he never went to for a position he wasn't qualified to have. He didn't think anyone was likely to notice the aberration. There was other gossip that would interest the people who liked that kind of thing. The girl with no shoes that wandered in and out of his house, for example.
Looking at Burden again, Heath felt no recognition. It didn't seem like he was expected to have met this person at a grocery store. "An intersection point," Heath repeated. He did that, in a thoughtful voice, like he was processing what was said. After a moment he said, "Yeah," like it took him that long to think it through, then agree with the statement.
Heath pushed away from the bar. No one was watching other than the people immediately in their vicinity, and only from boredom. "Maybe I will see you in town then. It was nice meeting you." He decided to leave. This guy was right. Conversation should be genuine. Nothing here was genuine. His mother didn't give a fuck about the arts. That, and she was dead with a dent in her skull.
Repose was chock-full of gossip and rumors, but Burden had learned, just as soon as Father Amos had sent him there, that the rumors weren't really the sort of thing that made for marks and cons. Or, they did, but not like out here in the Capital. Here, a person went to galas and met folks, and it was all about connections; it was a real easy conversation. In Repose, the secrets were a mish-mash of local color and strange happenings, and it never was easy to tell what was true and what was false. Needless to say, the Capital was an easier prospect. "Something like an intersection point," Burden agreed, and he knew Heath was near-on ending this conversation.
Mr. Thompson, he was still over there smiling, drinking, more unsteady than he'd been, and Burden reckoned he should bid Heath farewell and get on to doing what he'd been sent here to do. But it started then, as he was about to return the polite sentiment of seeing Heath around Repose. It being the shivershakes. It started with his fingers, the tips trembling and the drink in his hand put down real quick as a result. His skin, it lost color and went pale, and his eyes took to being unfocused. Burden, he had a moment of being plenty surprised, seeing as he usually had more warning before the demon made himself known, and there was only a moment to think about the damage that could be done.
And across the room, the crowd was parting like zombies, as someone tall and glowing, wearing a pristine white suit and possessing a chiseled jaw, walked toward the boys and the bar.
The quick tap of Burden's drink on the bar sounded like a gunshot to Heath, so clear and sudden was it. He had done the same not moments before, but the blur of Burden's sudden movement, of his arm falling through the air, caught him the same as a blow, and Heath turned back in the direction of the bar in surprise, curiosity, and a sudden, bitter feeling of trepidation that had not been in the back of his throat a moment before.
"Are you okay?" The other man looked like he was about to faint, and Heath, came back the two steps he had departed with some vague idea that he should catch the guy before he fell and hit his head or something.
Again Heath's periphery picked up something in which he had no intentional interest, someone coming toward them, but he assumed it was someone more qualified in first aid than he. Heath put a hand under Burden's elbow in case the man pitched left instead of right.
Burden, he wasn't expecting that hand beneath his elbow. It wasn't that he didn't reckon the boy at his side would be the type to help in a time of trouble; it was that he, Burden, was losing track of the room. But this wasn't like a usual shivershake; the world didn't immediately go black as the shakes took on strength. But he wasn't entirely there, even as he was, and he didn't like the change in something that had been happening since he had memory to remember anything meaningful at all.
He caught sight of the man in white coming, except the man was starting to glow as he neared, chiseled jaw and perfectly done brown hair. He looked to be in his 40s, the man, and he came near enough to look on at the two boys. Now, the rest of the room was plum-still, like as if time had stopped itself entirely, and the man shot Heath a smile that was made for the cover of a magazine; the only thing missing was a glinting tooth gleaming a perfect white. "Interesting," said the man, in a silken voice that was wholly and entirely masculine, as he looked at Heath. He was perplexed, the man, and it was plenty clear on his face that he wasn't sure why Heath was still there and, well, awake. Until, that was, the man's gaze landed on Heath's hand, where it was touching Burden's elbow. "Ah," he said, comprehension dawning, but that comprehension wasn't something he shared with Heath.
The man considered a moment longer, then he shrugged a discounting shrug, as if to say what harm could a boy like Heath possibly do?
The man's attention turned to Burden then, and he shook his head and tsked. A moment more, a burst of gold-white, and the man was gone.
The gathering, they carried on as if nothing had happened, as if no time had passed. Burden, he fell to his knees with a groan, a growl, shoulders curled forward and a, "no, no, no," that sounded more monster than boy.
Heath stared at the man navigating through the crowd. It took him several seconds, a few steps from the suited man and the aura, but he noticed the frozen expressions on the crowd too. The keen eyes flashed right and left, his face ever soft and pliable, expression still as vacant as ever. Heath was blessed with the kind of face that labeled him the continual innocent, not unlike Burden himself, and as he looked back at the gleam in the suit coming at him, he put his shoulders back in a long, even movement that was taught to him by his mother a very long time ago.
Again, Heath's gaze followed the man. Right, left. Down to his arm on Burden's elbow. Up again at the man's face. Heath's brows drew together a notch and held, but he said nothing. The discounting shrug didn't bother Heath even one tiny bit. You could even say it was reassuring. And then, before Heath could think of anything to say even if he had anything to say, the guy was gone and Heath was blinking stars out of his eyes. Bellamy was on the floor.
Heath paused. The room came to life again, and seemed to look at him for direction. This happened a lot when the Fairchilds were at functions, but rarely to Heath, as there was usually another more capable-looking Fairchild around. Heath blinked. A few people edged in, maybe to help, or just to goggle. For some reason, he felt responsible for the weirdness, and he confidently took a step out into the room, pivoted, and bent down to again touch Burden's elbow, more tentative this time, his back shielding both from the room. "Hey. You okay?"
Burden wasn't okay.
It was unfortunate for various reasons, the amount of not-okay that Burden currently was. First, there were a whole lot of spectators, rubbernecking and curious about something new and exciting in their anesthetized worlds, and this wasn't the type of thing that should end up going viral. Two, there were a whole lot of spectators, which might seem like the same concern, but this concern was about injuries. Could be that was something Burden would've warned Heath over, like he'd warned Damian, but there hadn't been time; this hadn't occurred in the usual way. And he, Burden, wasn't real able to explain it now; he could feel Heath's hand on his elbow, but words weren't coming. Instead, his shaking was getting worse, the shivershakes that had plagued him his whole damn life, and his teeth chattered as he looked on up at Heath with eyes going black fully. The whites of Burden's eyes, they were currently being consumed by dark shininess, and any recognition in the boy, it was just as dwindling as those obliterated whites.
"Get... them... out," was what Burden managed to bite out, teeth clenched against chatter, his own grip coming to wrap bruising on Heath's wrist. His voice, Burden's, was already changing to some low, something growled and dangerous and nothing like the waifish blond boy's voice moments earlier. "NOW," he reiterated, louder.
Heath took his hand off the other man the moment he saw the ink bleed into Burden's eyes. Heath had seen some weird shit, but not that weird, and though he was not the kind of person who took charge, he whipped immediately around. "Clear the room." He said it with such certainty that he would be heard, with an iron line on his shoulders and a hard expression, that everyone took a moment from staring at Burden to stare at him, instead. "Clear out," Heath told them, with no more volume than before. No one else was speaking, and there was some minor feedback from the microphone on the stage since it had been left on and no one thought to turn it off.
Heath spotted the president of the foundation, gaping at one edge of the crowd. With one hand, he snapped out a finger toward the man, who looked shocked and guilty, unprepared for Heath's attention as he (along with everyone else) had been staring at Burden on the floor. "Clear the room. Right now." The man snapped to attention like he was back in the military, and he knew who paid the bills. He started ushering out the crowd, and Heath barked at the first person who did not jump to. It was a voice no one had heard from him before. "Out."
Women left their wraps on their tables. No one thought to put down a glass. The hundred odd people headed to either exit without realizing what they were doing or exactly why, leaving Heath behind at the corner of the room, about ten steps from Burden. The whine from the speaker was going soft then loud in the background. A chair had fallen over.
Had Burden been able to smile, he would've done so. See, he'd decided, just as he was walking over to Heath earlier, that the boy seemed to be of the delicate flower variety, but this show of command was real impressive. Burden, he'd been born poor, and he'd never had the kind of power that made folks do any type of thing at all, at least not while he was conscious any. But the room cleared, or the room was in the process of clearing, and that was the last thing Burden had the ability to recognize.
With Heath a few feet off, the boy, Burden, he was curled in on himself on the ground. One foot was down, one knee up, and his back was a curved-forward thing. His expensive clothing tore, ripping straight down along the line of curved spine. And the growl that came from Burden's mouth, it was a real permanent thing now, one matched with pointed teeth that extended past the boy's lips. His hands were clawed in now, curled and with nails dark and pointed, and he stayed like that, curled on in on himself for a moment of growling stillness.
And then, Burden screamed. It was a real terrible scream. It was the type of thing that made teeth hurt, and it came with an unfurling of black wings, breaking through the pale skin of Burden's back with the sound of tearing and cracking, the scent of blood accompanying their damp unfurling. And these weren't pretty wings best suited for some Halloween costume. These wings were... well, they were huge. They unfurled, damp feathers dripping red, and they spanned the width of this bar. And then Burden looked up, black-nothing eyes clapping attention on Heath's face.
Burden, he was so pale to seem purple just then, his skin clammy and bruised seeming, and he spewed angry words at Heath in Latin, low, guttural, animalistic sounding. And while they were old, old words, in a language long forgotten by man, the meaning was clear: They were a threat.
Heath was standing alongside a table at the far end of the room. One of his hands was curled against the edge of that table, white cloth bunched under his fingertips. A glass of white wine had been tipped over, and the sweet smell of the aged grapes was the strongest in his nose as he stood there, watching the friendly Mr. Bellamy turn into a monster amidst the fallen stools and empty glasses. The scream made Heath’s spine compress and his ears hurt, and it looked like the appearance of the wings hurt too.
There was a lot of blood. Only once had Heath seen so much blood, and it made his stomach churn and his heart stutter. It didn't occur to him once to think of pretty angels, not when the glowing man in the suit had come, and not now, with black wings dripping like a chick's just out of the egg.
Heath had gone to an expensive school. They had taught six languages at that school and Heath had wanted to learn the language of love and chefs, French. Almost predictably, his mother had insisted on Latin, the language of Catholics and dead Caesars. Six years of it, and not a word of it came to mind. Heath willed himself to move, but his legs didn't respond. He just stood there, white and cold, staring.
Burden, or the creature that had been Burden, began to straighten in centimeters. His back straightened, his shoulders became a line without curvature. He was still looking at Heath as he stood, wings spread and Latin still spewing forth like guttural venom, literal heat carrying on his breath as he spoke. He stepped forward, wing feathers shaking, drying out like something belonging to a newly hatched chick. Big, thick, wide wings, and he shook them and sent droplets of blood and gunk across the bar. And still he approached, his steps long, and nothing angelic in his face as he talked and talked, hurling insults that came without understanding.
And it happened then, in a flash of gold and bright light: The return of the man with the chiseled jaw.
Again, the room froze, all but Heath and the winged thing, and the man looked at Heath and rolled his eyes with something real like annoyance. "This is all so inconvenient," he said to Heath, as if he wasn't now standing between the child and the winged creature. "I have better things to do," he continued on, but there was something like a sliver of discomfiture in his gaze; he didn't admit he couldn't stop the winged creature, but perhaps that was evident, given that the winged-not-boy was still approaching, growling louder and becoming angrier with each step.
"Come. Don't dawdle," he said, holding a hand out to Heath. He didn't say what his intentions were for anyone else in the room. He merely tapped a foot with unhidden impatience. Behind him, the floor was starting to smoke. Literally, smoke was rising from the ridiculously expensive tiles.
Heath blinked the stars of the man's appearance from his eyes, refocused, and looked him in the face. After the creature's speech in tongues, English almost sounded foreign, and Heath's Latin had never returned to him. He felt like he was thinking and moving through thick jelly, his feet sealed to the ground with wet cement, and he struggled to make his feet do what his mind was screaming at him to do. He opened and closed his mouth twice, looking down at the hand the man with the chiseled jaw offered.
"But," he said, slowly, looking where Mr. Bellamy had been, "what about him?" There was no one else in the empty room. All the noise, the dripping wine and the speaker feedback, all that seemed very far away. Heath saw the creature's anger, but didn't really understand it. He didn't get what was happening at all. Slowly, he put his hand out in mirrored response to the angel's, fingers cold, thumb out.
The man in white curled and uncurled his hand, fingers against his palm in beckoning and his expression something long suffering and bored commingled. "Let me worry about him. Come now. Come, come," he said, as if he was talking to a particularly challenging child. And yet he did it with charm, the smile on his lips showing a line of perfectly aligned white teeth. That this was a man accustomed to be listened to, that couldn't be doubted. If he was concerned about anything else in the room, it didn't show. He acted as if this was as serious as a toddler spilling their milk at breakfast.
The man, the angel, really, didn't reach for Heath's offered fingers with anything resembling desperation or concern. He looked nonplussed by everything occurring, including the smoking floor and the winged creature, feathers extended to curl over both himself and Heath now, old Latin expletives pouring forth with some built-up anger. None of that seemed to matter to the man in white. He merely took Heath's hand calm as could be, and he gave Heath another of those reassuring smiles.
The golden glow that followed was warm, soothing, peaceful, even and Heath found himself in the center of his living room, back in Repose, at the lakeside house. The man let go of Heath's fingers and surreptitiously curled his own fingers inward once. He sniffed, shook his head in distaste. "The water here smells atrocious," he expressed. "This entire town is... well, no matter." He smiled pleasantly at Heath again. "I recommend just forgetting about this evening," he suggested; it was a pity he couldn't make the boy forget, but protection still lingered on Heath's fingers, from where he'd gripped Burden's elbow. Ah, well, thought the man. It would wear off eventually, and if Heath needed to be taken care of, well, these things sometimes happened. But he just held his smile placidly in place. "It was lovely to meet you," he said in closing, since it seemed to be a thing humans said to one another, at least earthly intelligence-angels told him as much.
Heath shifted on his feet to make sure he wasn't going to fall. He felt steady, if distant, like in those dreams that you watched yourself live from above. Heath observed the Angel looked intentionally genial. Heath was accustomed to people looking genial at him. It came with being a Fairchild. Heath's own expression also came with being a Fairchild: he looked dazed but collected, because he'd been taught to pretend to be collected even when you were not. It went against Heath's nature–in a different way than it went against Shiloh's.
Heath didn't have time to re-analyze his stance on religion while he was standing in his living room with the Square-Jawed Angel. He did not doubt that an angel was what he was, in the moment, and that is worth saying, given what he said a moment later. The entire experience was so bizarre, so entirely outside the realm of normal, that Heath couldn't help but believe it. As a result, the thick rug under his fitted shoes and the restraint of his suit over his shoulders felt alien, and he felt that he was in the center of a thing that had absolutely nothing to do with him. "Did that have to do with the baby?" he asked, as the Angel tried to extract himself from the situation.
The man in white nearly sighed. Perhaps the man in white did sigh. Likely, the man in white did sigh. He was not accustomed to being questioned by small, mortal children. He did not share the adoration of these little beings the way some did; he was, of course, correct in his particular opinions on mankind, but that was neither here nor there at the moment. The small child was speaking to him, and the man gave the boy a dazzling smile. "Pardon? What baby would that be?" he asked. He found humans generally scatterbrained and confused. He was not confused, but there was no point in lording his superiority over this child.
The man in white, who was not admitting to being anything at all, but who would've agreed about the chiseled nature of his jaw, could've just made this little nuisance forget everything. He considered it, but there was so much paperwork associated with making people forget things, and he already had so much paperwork to fill out regarding the gala and the things which had happened there. Making this boy forget would require an entirely new set of paperwork, and he had better plans for the remainder of his evening.
Heath was not sly, sneaky, or even naturally secretive. Instead, things happened in his life that he simply did not want to share with anyone else. He blinked once. He didn't wear his glasses to formal events (his mother had never approved), so maybe he was just trying to keep the contacts in place. Then he nodded. "Nevermind. I guess it doesn't," he said, answering his own question in the face of the Angel's obvious polite disinterest. This time, his knees didn't feel quite as stable as before. He sat down heavily on the nearest couch, which hadn't been cleaned since his mother's death and let out a soft exhale of dust-speckled air. "You're going back for him, right?" This time, he referred to Burden.
The man considered his level of interest in the mystery of this small human child. It was a brief consideration, all things considered. "He is already being taken care of," he said in an airy, noncommittal way. "But it has nothing to do with a child, so there is no cause for concern on your part." He didn't pat Heath on the head, not literally, but perhaps he did so verbally. "Should you have a request for information, here is my card." Which he pulled from an impeccable golden case. The card, when handed over, merely had Gabriel written on it in perfect script. There was no explanation about how the card should be used.
The man prepared to leave as the boy sat, but he recalled a small matter.
He turned to the boy, and he gave him that winning smile once again. "Don't make me regret letting you return here unaltered, hmm?" he said. It was the most polite of warnings, and he winked at the boy before disappearing a flash-blinding glow of golden-white. Because, after all, who didn't like to show off every once in a while?