Kitty slowly opened the front door of Seth’s house and quickly slipped through the gap barely big enough for her body. She closed the door as quietly as she had opened it, for some reason unwilling the break the cold silence, and shucked her coat.
The soft early morning light was just beginning to turn the heavy drapes in the main living room a rosy pink, making it unnecessary for her to switch on a light.
She crept up the darkened stairs, avoiding the fourth step that gave off a creak akin to a gunshot. Kitty shouldered open her bedroom door and prepared to curl up in her own bed for a few hours.
A sudden fear struck the young woman. She turned her head, glancing farther down the corridor. Was Seth alright or had she come back to an empty house?
Kitty tip-toed down until she was directly in front of his bedroom. The one with the broken furniture and black feathers scattered everywhere. It made much more sense now. He hadn’t wanted her to put two and two together just by seeing his room.
Putting her ear to the door she quickly covered her mouth to stifle a giggle. The soft snore issuing from the other side so relieved her it made laughter inevitable. She peeked into the room and smiled wider at the sight of him curled up, clutching his pillow possessively. Before Kitty could withdraw, Seth opened his silver flecked eyes and caught her staring.
“What’s with the Cheshire cat grin?” he yawned, his voice rough from sleep.
“I’m just happy to see you here,” Kitty shrugged, toning the smile down a couple of notches.
“As opposed to…?” Seth closed his eyes again and nuzzled his pillow like a long lost lover, waiting for sleep to find him once more.
“You lying out in the snow in non-snoring status…”
“I do not snore!” Seth protested, his eyes flying open at the sudden unexpected weight on his bed.
“Yes, you do. And it’s the loveliest sound I’ve heard in awhile,” Kitty sighed, burying her face in a pile of feathers. “You know, if I lost hair the way you lose feathers, I’d be bald.”
Seth dug his nails into his palm to keep himself from laughing, “Why are you in my bed?”
“I’m not in your bed. I’m on your bed. There’s a distinct difference. One implies something, the other doesn’t.” Kitty wrapped her arms around another pillow and waited for him to respond.
“Alright, why are you on my bed, then?” he asked, stretching and then rolling on his side to face her.
“Because, I want to talk to you about last night,” she replied, watching his lips curl up in a smirk.
“There’s a statement loaded with implications. Can I put some pants on first?”
“And there’s another. Sure, knock yourself out,” Kitty shrugged.
Seth cleared his throat, “Do you have to stare at me?”
The woman grinned and hid her face; “I’ve never met a man who had a problem with nudity before.”
“I don’t…” Kitty felt the mattress shift as he got up. “It’s just, you’re very young and-”
“Seth, did I ever tell you I had a very ‘close’ relationship with my boyfriend, James?” she snorted into the pillow. “So I do have a general idea of what men look like without clothes.”
“I’m not James,” he said, lifting her face and stopping her laughter dead. The look in his eyes forbade amusement of any kind. “And you wouldn’t want to have a ‘close’ relationship with me.”
Kitty swallowed and bit her lip, “Have you ever had that kind of relationship with someone?”
“You wanted to talk about last night and that question has nothing to do with last night,” he said, letting go of her face and sitting back.
She knew better than to press the issue, even though the curiosity was killing her. Half angel the man might be but he possessed eyes full of the darkest sin possible. However, he didn’t want to share that part of his past right now and she could wait.
“How’s your arm?” Kitty asked instead.
Seth tugged at the bandage covering most of his forearm. It came away in his hand, revealing a large area of new pink skin.
“But that was so bad yesterday! It was almost down to the bone,” she exclaimed.
“I heal very quickly.” He gestured at his arm, “Even this will be gone by tomorrow. Minor cuts and bruises literally disappear overnight.”
“Must be nice. Is that why you don’t have gray hair or wrinkles at seventy-five? Everything just sort of fixes itself?”
“That’s as good an explanation as any.” Seth rubbed his face, his fingers making a scratchy sound as they passed over the short stubble decorating his cheeks and chin. “Although most days, I’d take the gray hair and wrinkles.”
“Is it so bad being a nephilim?” asked Kitty, hugging her knees.
“Think of your worst day, multiply it by a thousand, then you’ll understand about a tenth of what my life is like,” he replied, falling backwards on the mattress. His dark jeans so blended with the comforter that for a disturbing moment he appeared to be only a torso.
“What you’re saying…it would be like living in constant pain.” Kitty’s heart screamed at the thought of it.
“Mental and physical.” The half angel’s cold expression betrayed no emotion.
“I’m sure Anita explained it to you, it’s not natural for me to look like this.”
“She said something along those lines,” the twenty year old nodded.
“Well, my outward appearance doesn’t vanish into thin air. Everything angelic has to be compressed and it’s painful,” he said, sitting up and rotating his shoulders.
“You can’t poof your wings in and out of existence?”
Seth pinched the bridge of his nose, “Can you poof your arms in and out of existence?”
“No, of course not!”
Seth just stared at her pointedly.
“So, what do you do with them? They obviously aren’t there now.” Kitty squeaked and scrambled backwards.
“Did I scare you?” he asked, his silver eyes bright with amusement. Folding his wings, he waited for her response.
“I was startled, not scared,” she corrected, moving closer to look. “I really want to know how you hide these.”
“I couldn’t explain it if I tried,” shrugged Seth, attempting to watch her as she circled behind him. “It’s something I do almost without thinking now.”
“I bet they’re hard on the shirts,” she giggled, softly running her hand over the feathers. The wings felt solid yet insubstantial at the same time and they made her fingers tingle as if a mild electrical current ran through them.
“Mmhm, I have a whole drawerful with long rips up the back…having fun?” he asked, fixing her with a curious stare.
“Sorry,” Kitty apologized, immediately folding her hands in her lap. “That was rude.”
“No, it’s okay.” Seth was surprised to find he actually meant it. “Did you get shocked?”
“What?” Kitty gave him a puzzled look.
“Nothing, it’s just something Anita used to tell me,” Seth frowned and shook his head.
“Oh that! It’s less of a shock and more of a tingle. It feels nice,” she smiled, stroking his wings again.
“Yes well, you know what they say about too much of a good thing, Katherine,” he said, pulling his wings out of sight again. “Do you want to know anything else?”
Kitty nodded settling herself in front of her companion once more. Reaching forward she took the locket that hung around Seth’s neck and held it in the palm of her hand, “Who was in the other picture? And don’t lie this time.”
“Pass. That doesn’t have to do with last night.” Seth jerked his head so the locket flew out of Kitty’s grasp.
“Okay, answer me this then…” She knew she was losing him, his willingness to reply to her questions all but gone. “…what did those demons want with me?”
“I don’t know,” he said, rising and walking to the door. “But, I intend to find out.”
Kitty winced as he slammed the door with enough force to knock a picture off the wall. It fell to the floor, the glass shattering in spite of the carpet. She could see it from where she perched on the bed. The picture was actually a blown up clipping from an old newspaper.
The caption underneath the face read: “The sole survivor of the horrific ‘Warehouse District Murders’ was the ten year old boy pictured here, Seth Angelus Lee. -New York Times”
As she scanned the photo she let out a quiet sob. The eyes staring out of the battered young face were an old man’s eyes. She cried for the tragedy that would give eyes so old to one so young.