Time: After Beside A Black Tarn
Place: Planet Elistrus, Thinis
"It's a simple commission," the angel sniffed in a superior way. "One even a nephilim can manage."
Mac was already regretting answering the hail from this piece of arrogance with pewter silver wings. He'd been curious about what the wing color meant since he'd never seen it on any other angel. But this one was more of an ass than some were and he was scaring Heckle, who'd plastered himself against Mac's side.
"Not something in my usual line of work, Mr.—?" Mac let the question hang between them like a rotten apple neither of them would want.
"Azrael." The angel—Azrael—sniffed again. "If you refuse the job, I'll call your whereabouts in to the Host. They'll be very interested in you and your crew. Whereas, if you complete it, the payment's more than fair."
His back teeth grinding together, Mac glared for a long, tense moment. Accept the job or put all of his friends and his beloved Heckle at risk. "Fine. We'll do it. But only the bringing part. Afterward, we've got nothing to do with it."
Azrael inclined his head regally. "Of course."
There might have been an angry stomp in Mac's stride as they left the café, but he soon reined in his temper to check on Heckle. "You okay, little bit?"
"Yeah." Heckle blew out a hard breath. "He didn't seem very, you know, angelic."
"He really didn't." Mac took his hand and gave a little squeeze. "Sorry about getting you mixed up in this. My size—"
Heckle tugged hard on his hand. "Don't, Mac. Don't apologize for being you. And it's not a dangerous thing that we're doing." Heckle little nose wrinkled as he thought about that. "Probably."
They reached the shop Azrael had mentioned—it was only two blocks over from the café where he'd been sitting—and Mac ducked under the doorframe, trying not to take up too much space amid the delicate china towers and glass cases. The woman—long black hair and amber skin just as Azrael had described—behind the counter looked up with a smile.
"Can I help you gentlemen?"
Mac cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Normally, Ms. Cleo, I'd just be here for pastries. But you're to come with us, please. Azrael sent us."
Her smile evaporated in an exasperated sigh and a dark frown. "Bribes or threats?"
"Both, ma'am." Heckle peeked out from behind Mac. "Though…I know Mac doesn't care about the bribe part. And…and I don't know why he didn't just come see you?"
Something in her expression softened, probably because of the earnest expression on Heckle's adorable face. "I see. Well. He can't come see me because I filed a restraining order with the city. Let me put some things away and I'll be right with you."
She vanished into the back room, followed by rummaging sounds, and the clack and snick of cabinets and compartments opening and closing. When she reappeared, she had on a sensible jacket and floppy hat and a square carrying case slung over one arm. "All right, gentlemen. I'm ready and I recognize that this isn't your fault. Lead on."
Head held high, spine steel straight, she marched beside Mac with an expression made of stone. She's going to war. No idea what's going on here, but I think Azrael's going to regret this.
When they reached the café, Azrael stood and offered what he probably thought was a charming smile. To Mac, it looked like a predator baring his teeth. "Cleo! My muse returns to me! I knew you couldn't stay away."
Not shockingly, Cleo didn't return his smile. "Now you listen to me, you slimy, misbegotten, smarmy waste of space. You have no business threatening dear little imps into doing your nasty work. Also, I wouldn't come back to you if you were the last being, of any species, in the galaxy."
She unzipped her case, reached inside and pulled out a pie. Azrael backed a step.
His protests came too late. She'd already hurled the pie accurately and precisely at his face. It hit with a wet splut. Cream pie, then. Good choice. Heckle snorted, probably trying to stifle a giggle.
"If you ever try to contact me again, through any means, I'm just going to call enforcement and let them sort it out." She zipped her case back up, readjusted her hat, and turned to go.
Azrael had plunked back onto his chair, his pie-covered face managing still to convey disbelief. "Cleo! Where are you going?"
"To file a restraining order with Interplanetary Enforcement, since the city one wasn't enough for you. Goodbye, you mangy jackass."
Mac waited until she had marched off before he said, "You probably deserved that."
"More than likely," Pie-Covered Azrael sighed.
"You're not an angel at all, are you?"
"Fallen, some years back."
That explained the odd colored wings. "Payment?"
"Oh. Yes." Azrael tapped on his comm to transfer the funds to Mac. His tongue snuck out and licked some of the cream from his lips.
Heckle rocked back and forth on his hooves. "Good pie?"
"You know…" Azrael swiped a bit off his cheek and sucked the cream off his fingers. "It's not bad. Not bad at all."
About The Brimstone Journals
Extra treats for our Brimstone readers, Brimstone Journals will post every Tuesday. Short scenes from characters' lives before, after or during the stories.
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