“What the hell are you dragging me into this for?” Gail glared at the angel in front of her. “I don’t know what’s going on with him. He barely talks to me except to tell me that I need to do something better with my life. How could a human possibly help an angel anyway?”
Cynder sighed and shook his head. “Believe me, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I had to, but it seems as if Cecil has grown close to you and I think he’ll listen to you. Probably would listen to you more than me, anyway.”
Gail let out a deep breath and ran a hand through her hair. “Alright, yeah, sure. I’ll talk to him. One problem with that, though. I have no idea where he is, and apparently neither do you.”
“I believe he will return,” Cynder said. “You need merely wait for him.”
“Right, great, thanks. You couldn’t have waited until later to tell me this?” Gail frowned at him. “I was kind of in the middle of something and I’m sure they’re wondering where I am.”
Cynder opened his mouth, looking as if he were going to protest, then he let out a heavy sigh and shook his head. “No, you are right. I apologize, I was being hasty. I was merely concerned for my brother.”
Gail’s expression softened a little and she nodded her head. “Yeah, I get that. Look, we can talk about this later. If there’s nothing we can do but wait for him anyway, let me finish with my friends and when I’m free you can tell me more what’s going on. Does that sound fair?”
He gazed at her for a long silent moment before slowly nodding his head. “Yes, it does. I’ll be around. Call for me when you’re ready to talk.”
Gail nodded and turned to leave the room. “It shouldn’t be too long, I don’t think. Maybe an hour or two.”
“Take all the time you need.”
As Gail walked out of her room, she glanced over her shoulder only to find that Cynder wasn’t there. She sighed and returned to where Haley and Janae were sitting. “Sorry about that,” she said as she settled back down. “I just remembered an important email I needed to send and it couldn’t wait. Everything’s fine now.”
Neither of them suspected anything amiss and they went back to their conversation. Though Gail never let on to the fact that something was wrong, her mind was racing with thoughts of Cecil and his brother. What could possibly be going on with him, and just why had he disappeared anyway?
They got to the end of their dinner and it looked like Haley was going to suggest they watch a movie together, but to Gail’s relief Janae said she was too tired and decided instead she should get back to her dorm.
“It’s been wonderful meeting you,” Janae said to Gail, a bright smile on her face. “We should hang out more often, the three of us.”
“That’d be fun,” Gail said with a nod. “Dinner was great, really. So long as I’m not a third wheel for the two of you.” She smirked a little and winked at Haley.
“Oh, I don’t think it’d be any bother,” Janae said with a grin. “Just because we’re dating doesn’t mean you should be pushed aside, right? Oh! Did Haley tell you about the Halloween party we’re having? I mean, it’s not so much a party as just a bunch of us watching some scary movies.”
“Yes, she did,” Gail said. “I’ll definitely plan to be there. I’ve always liked watching scary movies on Halloween.”
“Great. Costumes aren’t mandatory but they are fun, especially in my line of work.” Janae gave a little wink and made her way to the door. “I’ll see you guys later.”
“See you at class tomorrow,” Haley said as she waved to Janae. Once Janae was out the door, Haley turned to Gail with a big grin on her face. “I thought it went well, what about you?”
“Yes,” Gail said with a little smile. “And you two are cute together. Are you gonna wear matching costumes for that party?”
“We haven’t discussed that,” Haley said with a shrug of her shoulders. “But now that you mention it, that could be fun. I’ll talk to her about it.” As Haley walked across the room, she seemed to have a spring in her step and was humming quietly to herself. Gail couldn’t help but smile at how happy she looked.
“Hey, I’m gonna turn in early. I’ve got some work I need to get done before I go to bed.”
“Oh, alright.” Haley scooped Cecil up off the couch and pet his ears and the little kitten began to purr happily. “Sleep well, whenever you get around to it.”
“I’ll try.” Gail went to her room and shut the door, sighing and leaning back against it before murmuring quietly, “Alright, Cynder, I’m back. Come out and we can talk.”
It was several moments before the angel appeared in the corner of the room, the way Cecil usually did. He crossed his arms over his chest and peered at Gail. Gail stared back at him a little defiantly.
“We can talk freely now,” she said. “Tell me what’s going on with Cecil. Why did he run away? What kind of trouble is he in?”
Cynder gazed at her evenly for a moment then he let out a heavy sigh and shook his head. “Look, I really wish it didn’t have to come to this. I don’t like asking for help from a human but at this point I’m left with no other choice, especially since Gabriel is nowhere to be found.” He muttered this last part under his breath and Gail could barely make out the words. She frowned at him.
“If I’m going to help you, you should tell me what’s going on rather than stall it by saying how much you don’t want to tell me. I get that this is weird; it’s weird for me too, but just…” She waved her hand in the air. “Get it over with. The sooner you do, the sooner I’ll be able to help.”
Cynder sighed and tilted his head up. “Very well. Sit down, I have a lot to say about my brother. It would be easiest for you to understand if you knew the whole story.”
Gail sighed and went to sit on her bed. “Fine. Tell me, I’m listening.”
Cynder stared hard at her for a moment then drew in a deep breath. “Has he told you anything about himself or his past?”
“No, he hasn’t,” Gail said with a snort. “I don’t see why he ever would, either…” Her voice trailed off and for a moment her eyes glazed over. “No wait, actually… when we first met, he said he’d been my guardian before, back when I was a kid. I’d forgotten he told me.” She ran a hand through her hair and shook her head a little. “I didn’t remember him at all. I still don’t remember that.”
Cynder nodded his head. “I know for a fact he was your guardian, for a time. An incredibly short time, at that. Something happened that made him leave you. I believe that something is what made him leave now as well.”
Gail’s eyes grew wide. “If he left for all that time back then, what makes you think he’s going to come back now?”
“You remember him still, don’t you?” Cynder asked. Gail narrowed her eyes at him. Cynder shrugged his shoulders. “Call it angel’s intuition, if you must.”
“Oh my god,” Gail muttered under her breath. “Fine, fine, whatever. Just tell me, why did he leave that last time in the first place?”
Cynder gazed at her silently for a moment then he drew in a breath and said quietly, “I believe there is a demon hunting him.”
Gail’s eyes grew wide. “A demon? Why would a demon be going after him?”
Cynder snorted. “Demons and angels are sworn enemies, if you weren’t aware. I’m not sure why a demon singled him out, though, or why it might still be after him. It worries me. It’s not like how normal demons hunt, either.”
“How so?” Gail crossed her legs on her bed and rested her elbows on her knees.
“Demons normally go in for the kill right away. This one seems to be trying to do something different.” Cynder frowned and lowered his head, glaring fiercely at the floor. “I believe it’s trying to break his mind and his spirit before it kills him.”
“I take it Cecil isn’t strong enough to take care of that demon on his own, is he?”
Cynder shook his head and ran a hand over his face. “No, he isn’t. Cecil is a guardian and they are not entirely equipped for combating demons, especially one like this. I’ve been trying to find Cecil for some time to help him but he keeps running away from me.”
“Why would he be running away from his own brother?” Gail asked, frowning a little. Cynder hesitated before answering, and she noted that he refused to make eye contact with her.
“I’m not sure,” he finally said. “I stopped chasing him after he made contact with you, though, since he decided to be your guardian once more. He seemed… fine, for the time being. I thought since he was helping you there might not be anything to worry about, though I was still keeping an eye on the situation. Then last night…”
Gail blinked and raised an eyebrow. “What? Did something happen last night that I wasn’t aware of?”
Cynder shook his head. “I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I sensed the presence of a demon, and then Cecil disappeared. There is no doubt in my mind that the demon has something to do with it.”
Gail stared at him silently for a time then asked in a quiet voice, “You don’t think it killed him, do you?”
“I don’t,” he said in a firm voice. “I would have felt it if he was dead. He’s still very much alive, though I’m not sure where or in what condition.”
Gail breathed in deeply and slowly shook her head. “Alright. So tell me exactly what you need my help with. I’m not seeing where I’m fitting into all of this.”
“If… when he comes back,” Cynder said, his tone a little uncertain, “I need you to convince him to let me see him. As I said, he keeps running away whenever I try to get close to him. Do you remember that day he ran into you, before he told you who he was? He was running from me at the time.”
Gail’s eyes widened with recognition. “Yeah, I do remember that. I hadn’t given it much thought, though.” She frowned and looked down at her hands. “If he’s running away from you he probably has a good reason for it, though. Are you sure you don’t know why?”
Cynder didn’t answer her and Gail frowned. She let out a heavy breath and rolled her head back. Cynder stepped over to her and laid his hands on either side of her, leaning in close. “Listen,” he said, “I care deeply about my brother. I’m sure you know what that’s like. All I want is what’s best for him. Please. I need your help.”
Gail looked into his eyes and saw a genuine concern there. With a little sigh she nodded her head. “Yeah, I know what it’s like. I’ll help you… assuming he does come back. I care about him too.”
“Do you?” Cynder stepped away from her, raising an eyebrow. “I’ll keep watch over you until he returns. If you need me, you need only call my name, though I must warn you I’m not the guardian type. I can’t exactly help you the same way he was.”
Gail snorted a little. “I wouldn’t expect you to.” She paused and glanced up at him. “Wait, are you watching over me to protect me from something, or…?”
Cynder’s eyes glinted. “There’s a demon chasing after my brother. He is your guardian. There’s a chance that it could go after you as well, so I’m here to prevent that. Don’t worry, I’m stronger than my brother is. That demon won’t be a problem for me to handle.”
“So you say.” She frowned slightly and turned away from him. “Thank you, though, for making sure I’m safe.”
“It’s our duty,” Cynder said. “Though, no offense, I’m mostly doing this for my brother.”
“Of course,” Gail said with a shrug of her shoulders. “One last question. Is there anything you think I should be doing to bring him back? Like calling for him or something?”
“Perhaps,” Cynder said as he walked toward the corner of the room. “He may be more likely to come back for you if he knows you need him. Honestly I don’t care what you do so long as he returns. That’s my main concern.”
Gail nodded her head. “Alright. I’ll call for him then, and I won’t stop until he comes back.”
“You have my thanks. I’ll be around if you need me.” Cynder nodded his head at her before fading out of sight. Gail stared at the empty space then flopped back onto her bed with a heavy sigh.
“What is going on around here?” she muttered under her breath. “This is not what I was expecting to happen during senior year.” She frowned as she gazed up at the ceiling. “I wish you were here, Axel. I wish I had someone else I could talk to about this…”
She got a slight itch in her nose as she realized she did have someone she could talk to about all of this. That, however, would be ridiculous, she thought. What would the counselor say if she told him she had a guardian angel who was being hunted by a demon? It’d be utterly ridiculous.
“Cecil,” she whispered, “where’d you go? I need you to come back, alright? This isn’t the sort of thing a guardian angel is supposed to do, are they? Running away and leaving me like this.” She sighed heavily and pressed her face into her pillow. “Just… come back soon, okay? I missed seeing you today.”
She laid there for awhile longer before deciding to go to sleep. Gail reached out and turned off the lights, curling up under her covers and pressing into her pillows with a sigh.
“Goodnight, Cecil,” she murmured. “Wherever you are.”