Two groups bearing sad tales met in New York in the familiar brownstone. Gwen and April met with a hug that looked like it would never end, and the others with no immediate need to be home found seats in and about the living room. Crystal and Drake met in a quiet corner, both bursting with news neither really wanted to share.
They started and stopped at the same time. Awkwardly, they tried again.
“Let me go first,” Drake insisted, thinking she would only tell him Morgana had slipped home and would meet him soon.
“No, Drake,” Crystal cut in, “my news can’t wait. It’s about Morgana.”
“It’s about ….”
“Dead?” Drake asked in a strained voice.
“Yes,” Crystal husked. “And Brendan?”
Hugging seemed only natural, and the most awkward thing either had ever done. Crystal suddenly pulled back, alarmed.
“Dude! I’ve heard of a terminal case of cooties, but yours have whiskers and fur!”
“Just a little something I picked up in Australia,” Drake chuckled, choking on his own laugh.
Others were meeting and sharing news. One of these drew all eyes.
Helmand gently detached Aiko and placed her into Alvaro’s waiting arms. “I must go now, daughter of my brother.”
Turning, he spoke to Angel in a language that sounded like a host of voices heard down a long tunnel. “Akriel, you have been long away from home. When you are ready to return to us, a place will be waiting.”
Helmand walked out of the door, the others watching his back. By the time he reached the shadows of the hallway, he had disappeared.
“Who was that?” Alvaro asked.
“Uriel, Arch Angel of death,” Angel replied, still staring after the stranger.
Aiko stepped deeper into Alvaro’s arms. For twelve hundred years, she had struggled to avoid that gentleman, and then for the last two weeks, she had tried her best to seduce him. Alvaro kissed the top of her head. Looking back at him, Aiko thought, ῾maybe I won’t have to kill him after all.᾿