Whenever Gail came home from college or work, she kept finding Cecil on the couch playing with the cat. Sometimes she would find Haley on the couch with him and Haley would be explaining the plot of some TV show they were watching while Cecil looked confused.
“Are you getting him hooked on lousy soap operas?” Gail asked, raising an eyebrow.
“They’re sitcoms, actually,” Haley said.
Gail rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. “You need to stop watching this trash, Cecil. It’s not worth your time.”
“Hey, that’s not fair!” Haley protested.
“I mean, she is right,” Cecil said. “It’s technically not all that well written, but…” He turned his eyes back on the television and rested his chin in his hands. “I find it fascinating and I want to keep watching.”
Gail stared at him for a long moment then shook her head. “Shouldn’t you be spending your time doing something more productive?”
“I’m your guardian,” Cecil said. “It’s not as if I’m skirting out on my duties by doing this.”
“What about that little demon problem your brother came here to help you with?” Gail asked, raising an eyebrow.
Cecil let out a heavy sigh and shook his head. “Yes, well… we’re working on that. We can’t exactly get rid of a demon if it doesn’t show up, can we?”
Gail narrowed her eyes and huffed, turning away from him. “Yeah, right. I just don’t want to see you getting comfortable and then not being ready when it does show up.”
“That’s not going to happen, trust me.”
“Whatever you say.” She went to her room and closed the door behind her, letting out a deep breath as she settled onto her bed. She had work to be doing anyway and didn’t have time to worry about what Cecil was or was not preoccupied with.
A little later into the evening Cecil knocked on her door and poked his head in. “Hey, mind if we talk?” he asked.
Gail glanced up at him and shrugged. “Sure, come on in.”
He slid into the room and closed the door behind him, going and sitting at her desk. “It seemed like something was bothering you. Mind telling me?”
She rolled her eyes and sighed a little, leaning back against her pillows. “Nothing, really. I guess it’s just a little weird to have you suddenly being… here. Interacting. And that Haley knows about you. It’s strange.”
Cecil frowned and glanced down at the floor. “I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable, I didn’t mean to.”
“No, you’re not making me uncomfortable. It’s just… you’re an angel. I got used to you just being around only when we needed to talk or when I needed comfort. Now you’re just always here and it feels different. You know what I’m saying?”
He rubbed his chin slowly and nodded his head. “Yes, I believe so. Do forgive me, I suppose I just… well, once your friend Haley found out about me I felt it wasn’t necessary to hide myself from her like I had been before.” He smiled a bit weakly. “You know, I’m rather enjoying it; experiencing humanity.”
“Couldn’t that be dangerous or something?” Gail asked in a hesitantly. Cecil blinked at her and tipped his head to the side.
“Why would it be dangerous?”
“I don’t know, it just seems like anything I’ve ever read about angels in fiction before, they can’t really interact with humanity on a personal level either because it would be dangerous for the humans to see angels up close or because angels are more likely to fall when enjoying the pleasures of humanity.”
Cecil squinted at her a little. “Well, that’s just fiction, right? Fiction created by humans who don’t know anything about us, I might add.”
“I guess you have a point there.” Gail leaned back and stared absently at the opposite wall, her gaze falling on the guitar case resting there. “Can I ask you something? It might sound a little silly.”
“What is it?” Cecil asked, tipping his head to the side.
“Well, some people seem to think when they die, if they go to heaven they turn into an angel themselves. I mean, I doubt that’s actually the case, but I’m curious.”
Cecil stared at her as if she were insane, then he slowly started shaking his head. “No, that is certainly not the case. I don’t know where humans get these ideas about us but that’s one of the stranger ones I’ve heard.”
Gail quirked her lips and nodded her head, chuckling a little. “Yeah, I didn’t think so. Still, the idea had crossed my mind. You are an awful lot like him…”
“Like who?” Cecil asked, tipping his head to the side.
“Axel, my brother. There was some part of me that wondered if maybe you were actually him, but that’s silly, I know that couldn’t be the case.”
Cecil stared at her for a long moment before shaking his head. “No it couldn’t be, especially since I knew you before your brother died.”
“Right. Like I said, it was a silly thought.”
He stood and went over to her, resting a hand on her shoulder and smiling a little. “Maybe it was, but it’s alright. I know how much you cared for your brother. I never met him myself, though I watched you two playing together when you were children. I’ve never seen siblings closer than you two were.” He sat down beside her and sighed a little. “I’m sorry he’s gone.”
“Yeah, well…” She leaned her head lightly against his shoulder. “We had all these plans. Once I finished college we were going to move in together. We were going to be with each other until the end. We were going to take care of each other. I don’t…” She let out a deep breath and rubbed a hand across her face. “I was trying to forget about it. I just wanted to make it through this last year before dealing with it, but I have no idea what I’m going to do now.”
“Well, that’s why you have me.” He smiled and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I’m here for you now that he’s gone. I know I can’t replace him but I hope at the very least I can give you a little bit of comfort from his absence.”
Gail glanced up at him and smiled a little. “You’ve grown on me, and like I said you do remind me of him a lot.”
“I’ll always do my best to help you feel not so alone.” He peered across the room and murmured, “I’m afraid I can’t play guitar, though.”
Gail snorted. “You did just say you can’t replace him. I wouldn’t expect you to, anyway.” She looked toward the guitar and sighed. “I’m only holding onto it for sentimental reasons, really. It’s just one of those things that reminds me of him since the time we were kids. It’s comforting to see.”
“I take it that means you’re going to keep it forever even if it never gets used?”
“Maybe,” she said with a shrug. “I might change my mind in the future, but… not now.”
They sat there together for a little while longer, then Cecil murmured, “Do you want me to stop being so visible? Go back to the way things were before?”
Gail sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. I mean, I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end, does it? You’re still my guardian angel. It just might be best if no one besides Haley knew about you. It could get difficult to explain, otherwise.”
“Yes, perhaps so.” Cecil nodded his head and smirked. “Still, if you ever need my help with that ‘friend’ of yours, Ivan, just call for me.”
Gail smiled and nodded her head. “I’ll definitely take you up on that offer. He’s getting worse, honestly.”
“Why don’t you just tell him you don’t want to be friends anymore?” Cecil asked.
Gail stared rather dully at him. “Do you know how difficult that’s going to be?”
“Sometimes you just have to do difficult things, you know? It might not be fun, but it’s necessary.”
“You mean like how you keep avoiding going after that demon?” Gail asked.
Cecil didn’t answer her or look at her. Instead he stood up and cleared his throat, heading for the door. “You know, it’s late. You should probably get some rest, don’t you think?”
Gail huffed and shook her head. “Yeah, sure. Avoid my question.”
He ran a hand over his face and muttered, “I’m going to talk to Cynder about it, alright? Things are just complicated, but you’re right; we need to do something.”
“Fine, as long as you’re going to actually do something instead of just saying you are.”
Cecil grimaced and headed out of her room, murmuring, “Goodnight, Abbey.”
Several days passed before anything came of their talk. Gail and Haley were sitting on the couch and while Gail was busy writing a paper, Haley was playing with her phone. “Hey, would it be okay if Janae came over tonight?”
“I don’t have a problem with it,” Gail said. She glanced up from her computer and narrowed her eyes at Cecil who was sitting across from them stroking the orange cat. “I don’t think you should be around, though.”
Cecil blinked up at her. “Hm? Why not? Are you embarrassed of me or something?”
“I told you it’d be a bad idea if anyone else knew about you,” Gail said with a sigh. “It’s bad enough Haley knows. No offense, Haley.”
“A little taken,” Haley said with a faint smirk and a shake of her head.
“No no, I get it,” Cecil said with a nod. “I’ll stay out of your way until she leaves, it’s fine.”
“Yes, you should,” came a different voice, and the three of them turned to see Cynder standing there with his arms crossed. “We don’t need anymore humans knowing about our existence, you know.”
Cecil frowned and muttered, “You’re the one who decided to show yourself in the first place.”
Gail rubbed her face and sighed. “What are you doing here, Cynder? I thought you said you weren’t going to show up unless you were needed.”
“Preventing my brother from doing something stupid seems like a good use of my time,” Cynder said. Cecil let out a heavy sigh.
“You’re one to talk.”
Gail frowned at Cynder. “Is there something going on between you two or are you just always like this?”
“Yes,” Cecil muttered. Cynder sighed and shook his head, stepping away from them.
“It’s nothing to concern yourself with.”
“Actually it is,” Cecil interjected. He glanced at Haley and cleared his throat. “Well, at least it is for Gail.”
Haley grunted a little and nodded her head. “Right, I get it. I’ll be in my room until you’re done, then.” She stood up and made her way to her room, closing the door behind her. Gail frowned at the two angels and crossed her arms.
“So just what exactly is going on between you two?” she asked.
“Do you want to explain it to her?” Cynder asked, looking at Cecil who sighed and rubbed the back of his head. When Cecil didn’t speak, Cynder went on with the explanation. “This demon we’re hunting, we know how to track it down but some of us seem to have a problem with that.” He glared pointedly at Cecil, and Cecil flinched and turned his face away.
Gail stared at the two of them for a moment before turning her attention to Cecil. “What’s wrong, Cecil? Why are you putting this off? I thought you wanted to get rid of that demon.”
“I do, but… it’s complicated.” He grit his teeth and inhaled deeply. “I don’t want you getting hurt because of us.”
Gail frowned and leaned back on the couch. “You realize I’m more likely to get hurt if you sit around not doing anything about it at all, right?”
Cecil scrubbed at his face and nodded his head. “I know, I know, I just… it’s hard. And I think maybe it would just be best to wait until you’ve graduated, that way it won’t be adding anymore stress to your life.”
“We can’t wait that long, Cecil,” Cynder said sternly. “Who knows what sort of damage that demon could cause in that time?”
“It hasn’t showed up so far, has it?” Cecil shot back. “Please, just… let’s wait until then, can’t we?”
“Cecil.” Gail let out a deep breath and went over to him, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Look, I appreciate the sentiment, but you can’t do that. You need to go and kill that demon as soon as possible. Don’t wait for months on end. Listen to your brother.”
“See? She agrees with me. We need to go after the demon, no more waiting around.”
Cecil sat still, a grim look on his face, then he let out a heavy breath. “Alright, but let’s do it away from Gail. Far away so she doesn’t get hurt.” He looked up at Gail, his glasses fogging up a bit. “Which means we may be gone for awhile.”
Gail let out a heavy breath and nodded her head. “Well, I can live with that. I handled you being gone before, I’m sure I can handle it again.”
Cecil slowly got to his feet and held his arms out to her. Gail hesitated a moment then pressed close to him, giving him a tight hug. They embraced for a moment and then Cecil broke away and went to Cynder’s side. Cynder gave Gail a nod.
“We’ll return once we’ve taken care of the demon, you don’t have to worry.”
In the blink of an eye the two angels vanished. Gail turned away and leaned down to scoop the cat up in her arms, hugging him close.
“Please come back safe.”