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I crouched on top of the building, looking out. My long, dirty braid waved in the wind. The sunset lit the land with long shadows. Shadows, I'd learned, could make any landscape look threatening, even a peaceful suburb.
A blinding light started to appear around the corner. Angels. I hissed in pain and turned away, but I got a glimpse of a perfect arm, a face that couldn't have been better if it were photo-shopped. What were they doing here? I wasn't enough to earn their attention, was I? They laughed, as happy as a kid in a candy store, only more so.
Filthy vermin, idiotic pests. If I had looked closer, I would have noticed their empty, stupid eyes, their fake, too-big smiles. But there was not time. Now I had to run for my life.
I turned and sprinted down the roof. My arms were held perfectly still, a little behind me. My core stayed leaning forward, my face turned into the wind. The only thing that moved was my legs, a mere blur below me. The wind blew against the burnt side of my face, stinging.
The sunset behind me would have been beautiful to most, but I just wished it would go away. It made me far too visible.
Glancing over my shoulder, I saw a slender finger point my way.
"Look!" I could just barely catch the word. There was no panic in the voice, not like one would expect from a person who had seen a demon.
By now, of course, I had reached the edge of the roof. I jumped, soaring through the air, in the exact same position I had held while running. I landed perfectly, my heel lining up with the gutter.
I turned and ran backwards. It was just as easy for me as the normal way. One side of my face was rotted, and my eye hung almost a foot off my face, so I could see a little behind me.
The angels were in pursuit. If you looked specifically at their bodies, they looked like they were just walking. But if you compared them to the background, you could see that they were traveling faster than a full sprint.
I cursed. "Soul walk," I muttered. I didn't think they would be so alert. Most angels go through life groggy, simply followed the commands of their elders.
"Don't worry, I'll go on ahead."
My heart, which usually only beats twice a minute anyway, stopped dead. One of the angels, a boy, had split from the group. He had broken into a light jog, and was now faster than most cars.
Desperately, I turned back around and pushed into full speed. I knew it was no use, but I couldn't just give up, could I?
"Please, come down."
The angel had broken even with me, and he had given an Order. I knew for a fact that giving an Order was exhausting for the angel who gave it, but no one, not even a demon, could resist.
As I jumped down into the ally, against my own will, I felt like crying. (Naturally, when one eye hangs of your face, and the other is mostly burnt, it's hard to cry.)
He smiled, a warm smile. A practiced, deadly smile. "Stay right there a minute, please."
I whimpered. This was it. I wouldn't die; that would be far too forgiving for an angel. Instead, my soul would be drained of it's power, bit by bit, to power the grand city of Heaven. When there was almost nothing left, I would be tossed aside, and subjected to unknown horrors. Some say that the used-up demons are turned into new angels. I hope not.
He turned and called to his friends, "I got her. Bring up the capture chamber."
He turned back to me, a satisfied look on him face.
"Please don't hurt me." I found myself saying.
He looked authentically confused. "Why would I hurt you?"
I lifted my head, looked him in the eye. "You're an angel. It's what you do."
Now that I saw him, I noticed something. He was not like other angels. He was gorgeous, of course. But were those pores I was seeing? Slight bags under the eyes? His hair shone, but there were a few strands that hung by his ears, out of place.
And more than that, his eyes... I had never seen any emotion in an angels eyes, in all the times I've spied on them. But there was concern on his face. Maybe even worry.
"Why do you think that?"
"My brother..." I trailed off, reaching up with a wrinkled hand to touch the glass shard, a piece of a fake scull that my brother had worn. He had thrown to me as he was sucked into the capture chamber, screaming in pain. I had barely gotten away myself that day... The shard hung around my neck on his shoelace, the only other thing I was able to retrieve.
"Demons have family?"
"Yes." more so than angels, perhaps.
There was a short pause. He looked uncomfortable. I could tell he was working up courage. And then he asked, "Is there... emotion where you come from?"
He said the word 'emotion' like it was forbidden, like he might get in trouble for saying it.
"Yes." I saw an opportunity for escape. "More emotion than you have ever seen."
It wasn't a lie. But it was a half-truth, the best kind of lie. There was emotion; in the fight-pits, in the death matches, in the battles, but not like he was thinking. Not good emotion.
"Then I will come with you."
I scowled, then quickly changed my expression. I could deal with this one angel later. Right now, I just had to get away from the others. They were just around the corner, and I could hear their voices. I felt the power of his Order lifting. I leaped onto the roof of the building in a single leap, not looking back to see if he was following. The sun was almost entirely below the horizon now. Soon, it would be night, my domain. The angle would be almost entirely at my mercy. I liked that thought.
I glanced behind me, just to make sure he was there, that he wasn't still with the others. He was. He moved effortlessly across the roof, barely pushing off with his toe to cross the gaps between buildings.
We must have made an odd pair, a half rotten, half burned girl, and an almost perfect, innocent boy.
I wondered, what would come first; would he make me pure, or would I corrupt him?
The thought made me throw my head back and laugh. I think it disturbed him, but I didn't care.
It was the first laugh I'd had in centuries.