Kitty waited up on the living room sofa all night for Seth to come home. Her nose was rubbed red and raw from the half a box of tissues she’d used and her eyes were so bloodshot she would need weeks of eye drops just to get them normal looking again. Any thought of Seth or Anita was enough to send her off on another wild crying jag. She finally fell asleep just as dawn was breaking, losing herself in nightmares of dark corridors where light never shined and hollow sounds of anguish filled the air.
The slam of the front door startled her awake and she blinked her gummy, sandpaper eyes. Her nose was sore and her entire face felt hot and itchy.
“Seth?” she called, hoarsely. Kitty tried to rub away the feeling in her face but it didn’t help much.
The silence echoed back at her and she tried calling again, “Seth, is that you?”
When silence greeted her yet again she attempted to stand, only to find her legs wouldn’t hold her and she collapsed in a heap on the floor.
“Well this is a fine mess you’ve gotten into. What if something attacked you right now? Oh good grief I’ve started to think like Seth!” In spite of yesterday’s events Kitty had to laugh at the crazy turn her thoughts had taken.
“Katherine, don’t broadcast. I have a just about life threatening headache at the moment.”
Kitty swallowed her laughter and crawled forward on her hands and knees until she could peer around the sidewall of the main living room. Seth was slumped against the front door, looking about like she felt. When she got a little closer she could smell the distinct scent of…
Kitty sat back on her heels and looked at him accusingly, “Alcohol? You’ve been drinking?”
“Well, that explains the hangover.” The statement was meant to be sarcastic but the half-angel appeared too tired and miserable to put much venom behind it.
“Why didn’t you come home? I waited up all night for you. I was worried.”
“Worried about what? Worried I might do something foolish or worried I wouldn’t ever come back and you might have to work on your own?”
Kitty was startled at the bitterness she heard in the reply, “Of course I was worried about you doing something foolish. I kept calling the police department to see if anyone had jumped off the bridge in the night. Needless to say I made quite a nuisance of myself and I did it for you. Not that you seem to care about it much.”
Seth made no effort to respond. He casually lit a cigarette, proceeding to break his own rule about not smoking in the house.
“Don’t do that!” said Kitty, slapping it out of his hand and watching it skitter across the marble entryway. “You’ll hate yourself for it.”
“I need a cigarette,” he growled, narrowing his eyes at the young woman in front of him.
Kitty fisted both hands through her hair, “No, you don’t. Just talk to me damn it!”
“I deal with things on my own, Katherine.”
“Well, you’re not on your own now!”
“That’s painfully obvious,” said Seth, massaging his temples and lowering his head. “But really, you can stop pretending that you care.”
“Pretending that I-” The young woman shot forward and grabbed his stubbled chin, pulling his face upwards. “Look at me! Does it look like I don’t care!”
The half-angel took in her disheveled appearance before jerking his chin away, “No, but you also look like shit.”
“So do you…and you reek of booze.”
“I’d rather smell of twenty year old Scotch than stink of death and blood.”
Kitty stopped focusing on his face then and really stared at his hands. They were covered with dried blood and his coat sleeves were stiff with it. She couldn’t stop the queasy, sour feeling that crept over her stomach. “Whose…whose, ah…”
“Whose blood is it?” he supplied, his voice strangely devoid of emotion.
She nodded, swallowing thickly.
“Whose blood do you think it is!” yelled Seth, his eyes quickly silvering although his wings stayed hidden.
“You really don’t want me to answer that question right now,” she replied, scooting backwards slightly.
“Are you afraid of me?” he asked, cocking his head while still managing to appear threatening.
“No, I’m not afraid of you, Seth. I’m afraid for you. I don’t want to think-”
“What, that I’m a heartless killer?”
Kitty continued on as if he hadn’t said anything, “I don’t want to think you caused someone else pain because you were in pain. Anita wouldn’t have wanted that.”
“You don’t have to try and shame me, Katherine. The only blood I spilled last night was demon’s blood, not human.” Seth gazed at her steadily, forcing her to look down.
“I thought demons couldn’t enter Anita’s house.”
“They can’t…but a man corrupted by them, that’s a different story. Only her neck was broken. Demons wouldn’t have been so neat.”
The brunette chewed her lip, disliking the clinical tone his voice had taken. “How can you be so cold about this?”
“I’m not being cold. I’m just pointing out facts. I know demons were behind Anita’s death…I just don’t know which ones.” He rubbed his hands together, looking at the dried blood and making a face. “I need to shower.”
“Seth, don’t put your feelings on lockdown. I know you’re going through hell. I heard it.”
The nephilim’s expression turned to stone. “You heard what.”
“You know, I’m sick and tired of trying to reach out only to get backhanded for giving a damn about you. So fine, go take a shower, kill a few demons, drop dead, I don’t care. I officially throw in the towel!” Kitty rose from the floor and stalked up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door so hard even the heavy front door rattled in its frame.
* * * *
“Kitty, he has problems with people skills.”
The young girl checked an eye roll, not sure if that was an appropriate response to an Archangel’s comment, “Gabriel, that is the understatement of the century! But, I am through trying with him. He doesn’t take any notice and he doesn’t care what I have to say.”
“Oh, he cares more than you think,” replied the immortal, picking up the angel figurine from Kitty’s dresser and looking at the bottom of it.
Kitty gave an unladylike snort and then glanced sidelong at the being filling the corner of the room. “Sure, right. Then why does he shut down the minute I start to say something?”
“It’s his way. He doesn’t let anyone inside. He’s afraid…” Gabriel fell silent and set his mouth in a firm line.
“Seth…he doesn’t seem the type to be afraid of anything. C’mon, spill. What makes him tick?” Kitty prodded, folding one of her bed pillows over and resting her chin on it.
“It’s not my place to say nor is it given you should know yet. It isn’t certain if you will ever know.”
“Oh just give me hope why don’t you?”
“You should carry much hope. I said it wasn’t certain, not that it wasn’t to be.” The angel turned and set the figurine on the dresser again. “Although, the price for such knowledge might be more than you want to pay.”
Kitty bit her lip, “Like Shireen?”
Gabriel crossed the room in an instant, “What do you know about, Shireen?”
“Nothing. I just know it’s a name that upsets, Seth…a lot,” said Kitty, scrambling backwards on the bed.
“Mm.” The angel made a noncommittal noise and retreated slightly.
“And I guess it upsets you too,” she muttered. “But, of course nobody ever wants to open their mouths and tell me anything.”
Gabriel looked at the young woman sharply.
“I’m a big girl, you know? I can handle distressing information.” Kitty folded her legs Indian style on the bedspread and laid her head once more on the folded pillow.
“Someday, Katherine, you will know everything. But, when that day comes you may find that knowledge is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow.”
“You said before it wasn’t certain if I would ever find out. Now you’re saying I will but I won’t like it. Which is it?”
“The future isn’t set. It’s fluid like water and every choice you make changes the stream. So, in effect, either outcome is equally possible.”
“Why do immortal beings and almost immortal beings have to be so cryptic all the time?” sighed Kitty, stretching and wincing as her back popped.
“Because we have time to perfect the skill and we like to show it off,” replied Gabriel, cracking a smile at the disgruntled expression on the girl’s face. “And because mortals aren’t meant to know their futures with any certainty.”
“Okay, okay, you win. It just gives me a headache, that’s all.” The brunette rubbed her temples and squinted her eyes shut.
“That’s not what’s causing your headache,” said the immortal, promptly vanishing.
“Again with the cryptic and now he’s pulled a Seth and disappeared on me. Unbelievable!” growled Kitty, falling backwards on the bed.
She sighed roughly, draping an arm across her eyes. Her headache was steadily worsening to migraine level and she entertained the idea of taking a shot of bourbon to help her sleep through the worst of it.
Kitty got up to do just that when a head-splitting jag of pain sent her to her knees in front of the door. It coincided with Seth’s voice yelling in her mind in a language she couldn’t understand. Quick as a flash, she raised her mental shields and the pain abated somewhat.
“Seth, what is wrong with you?” she gasped, pulling herself to her feet and throwing open the door.
It was surprisingly quiet outside his bedroom. The carpet was a little damp from his walk out of the shower but other than that, nothing at all unusual.
Kitty was on the verge of calling it imagination and leaving when a weird snuffling cry made her pause. She waited until she heard it again and then silently entered the room.
Seth was crying in his sleep. Tears of metallic silver streaked his face leaving trails of glitter where they dried. He’d drawn his wings around his body as if to protect himself and he jerked like some unseen person was beating him.
“Aeonay, aeonay! Matira! Pineio, letha! Matira!” he screamed, caught in the middle of some God-awful night terror. It was twice as horrifying to think it might actually be a memory.
Kitty climbed onto the shaking mattress and taking the bull by the horns, wrapped her arms around him as best she could. As much as he would let her, anyway. She also gave a quick thanks to God that he’d worn sweats to bed this time.
“Seth…Seth, it’s okay. Shh baby, it’s okay now. You think I’d ever let anything hurt you?”
He sobbed something else in that odd dream language of his but he seemed to be less agitated. The thrashing had stopped and she could hold him easier.
“Let it go, Seth. Don’t dream anymore. Just sleep,” she murmured, smoothing his hair out of his face.
“Matira,” he sniffed, sounding like a lost, scared little boy.
“What are you saying?” she wondered aloud, running her fingers through his hair as that appeared to calm him the most.
Kitty really noticed the color, for once not being shoved away from him for looking. His hair was naturally black with a light wash of purple over it, very pretty in her opinion, but he cut it through with streaks of violent, unnatural purple dye.
“Hiding again,” she chuckled, feeling him startle as he woke slightly. “What kind of man are you, Seth Lee?”
“A very confused and tired one. What are you doing in my room?” he asked, without opening his eyes.
Shh, sleep first. I’ll tell you when we wake up.”
“We?” he mumbled, already halfway under again.
“Yeah, because if you think I’m moving after I’ve gotten comfortable you’ve got another think coming, featherboy.”
“I’m not complaining. I haven’t fallen asleep on a pretty girl in a long time.”
“You think I’m pretty?”
But Seth was already asleep again, snoring softly.
“Figures,” Kitty snorted, laying her head back and going to sleep herself.