End of Days Page 15

‘We have Viagra now.’

He gives me a sideways glance as if he suspects what that is.

We fly over the water and down the East Bay landmass as the sun sets. Steering clear of the aerie, we take the long way around toward Resistance headquarters. There is a surprising number of angels in the air today. They fly in formation from every direction toward Half Moon Bay, where the new aerie is located.

When we see a particularly large group in the air, we land in front of a mall and lie low beneath the awning of a Macy’s department store.

‘They must be flying in for the Messenger election,’ says Raffe. There’s worry in his voice as he watches the host of angels flying above us.

I unwrap my arms from his neck and step away from his warmth. It feels chilly on my own under the department store awning. ‘You mean there are more angels coming into the area? Like we didn’t have enough on our hands.’

From this distance, the angels look like they’re inching across the sky. Raffe watches them fly overhead. His body twitches just a little, looking like he’s making an effort not to jump into the air and join them.

‘What was it like to be one of them?’ I ask.

He gazes at the sky for a long moment before saying anything. ‘My Watchers and I were on a mission once to clear the area of a demon invasion. Except we couldn’t find any demons. But Cyclone, one of my Watchers, was so worked up for a battle that he wouldn’t accept that there was no one to fight.’

He nods toward the angels flying in the distance. ‘We were flying in formation like that when Cyclone suddenly decided that if he could just cause a big enough scene, then the demons would be attracted to the noise and destruction and they’d come to us. So he started flying in circles as fast as he could, sure that he would cause a cyclone.’

He smiles at the memory. ‘Half of us joined him as a lark while the rest of us landed to watch and heckle. We started throwing things at him – twigs, leaves, mud, whatever we could find – because everyone knows that a tornado should have debris.’

He has a mischievous look in his eyes as he remembers. ‘The ones in the air, they flew over to a tree that I swear must have been diseased, because it had these rotten oranges still on the branches. They started throwing them at us, and it turned into a giant mud and orange fight.’ He chuckles as he gazes up at the sky.

His face is relaxed and happy in a way I’ve never seen. ‘We had orange pulp caked in our ears and hair for days after.’

He watches the angels flying away from us.

I can almost see the lonely years creeping back to him like shadows at the end of the day. The happiness seeps out of his face, and he’s back to being a hardened outsider traveling in an apocalypse.

‘You’re sure this human doctor can transplant wings?’ he asks.

‘That’s what Beliel said.’ Of course, Beliel said a lot of things.

‘And you’re sure he’s at the Resistance camp?’

‘No, but I’m pretty sure he was rescued off Alcatraz by the Resistance. If he’s not there, maybe someone will know where he is.’ I have all kinds of worries about going to the camp and trusting the doctor who messed up Paige in the first place.

I sigh. ‘I can’t think of a better plan. Can you?’

He looks at the angels for a little longer before turning and heading into Macy’s.

It’s not a bad idea. Paige and I both need to change into some real clothes, so we might as well go shopping while we wait for the sky to clear. We leave the locusts outside and follow Raffe into the store.

Inside, the electricity is out, but there’s enough sun coming through the huge windows to light up the front part of the store. Many of the racks are drunkenly leaning or scattered on the floor. Clothes of all colors and fabrics spill into the aisles. In the windows, naked mannequins lie on top of each other in sexual poses.

Someone has sprayed graffiti on the ceiling. A crude knight stands alone with his sword drawn against a fire-breathing dragon that is ten times his size. The dragon’s tail disappears into darkness where the window light fades deep into the store.

Beside the knight are the words ‘Where Have All the Heroes Gone?’

It looks to me like the artist thought the knight didn’t stand a chance against the dragon. I know just how he feels.

I look around and try to remember what it was like to go shopping. We walk through the special-event dresses. The racks and floor are covered in silky sparkle and shine.

This would have been my year for the prom. I doubt anyone would have asked me, and even if someone had, we couldn’t have afforded one of these dresses anyway. I run my hand through the shimmery fabric on a rack of full-length gowns, wondering what it would have been like to go to the prom instead of a masquerade ball full of killers.

I catch Raffe watching me. The light behind him halos his dark hair and broad shoulders. If he were human, the girls at my school would have died just to be in the same room with him. But of course, he’s not human.

‘That would look good on you,’ he says and nods to the movie-star dress in my hand.

‘Thanks. Do you think it’ll go well with combat boots?’

‘You won’t always be fighting, Penryn. There will come a time when you’ll be so bored that you’ll wish you were fighting.’

‘I can only dream.’ I pull out the dress and lay it against me, feeling the soft, sparkly fabric.

He steps over and scrutinizes me in my pretend dress. Then he nods his approval.

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