I need to wait on a response from my folks. Push come to shove, maybe one of them can pick me up if I can't arrange a ride there...
After mulling over his options, Nathan groaned and rubbed his head. He checked his watch: a little after noon, and he hadn't eaten anything since he'd gotten home. Between hunger and anxiousness, it was no wonder he had a headache. It wasn't going to do him any good to linger on Thanksgiving. He'd wait on making plans and send an email later. Right now, it was time for food and medication.
As he stood to get something for his throbbing skull, his phone rang again. Reflexively, Nathan answered. "Hello?"
"Hey Nathan! You busy?"
Marni... no, Enya. Her voice made a knot twist in his stomach, and he couldn't decide if he was happy to hear from her or even more anxious than before. "No, contemplating food-like things."
Enya laughed. "Want to go to lunch with us?"
His headache doubled and his heart raced, but her offer brought a hopeful smile. "Sure!" he said, picking up his pace so he could take something for his headache. "When and where? And who else?" It hit him that she'd said us, not me.
"Right now and over at Gabriel's. At Alton's insistence, he's gotten himself an apartment, and he's all excited to show everyone. Don't know what we're having, but Death's cooking."
The image of not Gabriel, but the classic hood-shrouded Death, wearing a bright pink apron standing over a stove and cooking suddenly entered Nathan's mind, and he snorted. "Hopefully, it won't kill us. I'm guessing someone will pick me up?"
Enya laughed again. "Yep. Look out your window."
Nathan froze, but then walked to the front window and peaked out. Leaning over from the driver's side of her car, the cell phone still held to her ear, Enya waved up at him. In the passenger seat beside her, Alton looked up and gave him a nod, and in the backseat it looked like Micah was being his usual somber self. Even though he was still worried about his parents, Nathan smiled as he waved back. "I'll be down in a few minutes."
"We'll be waiting."
It took about twenty minutes to reach Gabriel's apartment in the downtown area of Virtue, primarily due to traffic for the upcoming holiday and the odd maze of one way streets that made up the district. Micah remarked that next time, they may do better to park further off and then walk the rest of the way, to which they all agreed, even though Enya had managed to get a parking space right in front of the building. "You guys," she said to them with a laugh as she climbed out of the car, shaking her head. "Amateurs..."
"I don't blame them." Gabriel stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame with his arms crossed. "I don't even have a car, for that reason."
"You take the bus?" Micah asked, a tinge of disgust in his voice. The other angel laughed.
"No, I have my ways, like you and Alton. I still can't fathom why you even bother to drive."
"I need a vehicle for work."
Gabriel snorted, holding the door open for them. "A car, but no apartment? Alton, I'm surprised you talked me into a place before him."
Alton gave him a chipper, yet devious smile. "I know better than to debate with a brick wall."
His comment elicited a glare from Micah, but nothing more as Gabriel lead them up the steps. Nathan took one look at the spiraling flight of stairs ahead and whistled. "Jesus, what floor are you on?"
All three angels winced and shot him a look, and he muttered a quick apology before Gabriel answered. "The fourth of six. It's very nice and has a clear view of the back courtyard, but not the street. Spacious too." His expression suddenly lit up and he turned to Micah. "Maybe you could be my roommate!"
The other man frowned and shook his head. "I would rather not..."
"You put me off."
Gabriel pouted, but shrugged, skipping the rest of the way to the fourth floor landing. "Your loss. The invitation is open, should you ever need a physical address. Surprised they didn't ask you for that with your job."
"I think they just assume he lives out of his car," Alton explained for him, drawing another glare from Micah. He simply smirked back. "Well, it isn't like it's hard to find. I still don't know why you opted for a bright, canary yellow sports car..."
"I like yellow," Micah said through his teeth, clearly growing agitated.
"So," Enya cut in before things could escalate. "What's for lunch, Gabe?"
He turned his excited grin to her while he opened the door to the apartment. "Grilled cheese sandwiches. I found these fantastic cheese rolls at the grocery store, so I'm using those with bacon and provolone. The cashier suggested it."
Nathan couldn't help but laugh at his enthusiasm. "You cook often?"
"No, but I love trying new things. If there's one thing that is utterly fascinating about mankind, it is the plethora of diverse dishes and cooking styles you've created. I love your food. Don't know why, but I do."
"It is likely because you have such limited interaction with humans," Micah offered, then glanced at Nathan. "Under normal circumstances."
The writer rubbed the back of his neck, uneasy, not sure what the look was for. "Um... you're welcome?"
Gabriel just laughed and disappeared into the kitchen. Once he was gone, Enya sprawled out on the couch, throwing her legs over the armrest. "So, Alton," she said, waiting for him to look her way. "Wings. Now."
The smile he'd been wearing vanished instantly, replaced by a worried frown. "I..."
"No, no excuses, Alton." She sat up and crossed her arms. "You already told me you were hurt. I want to see."
"I agree," Micah said, looking towards the other angel with concern. "You never showed me what Ira and Gula did to your wings. Gabriel said it was extremely bad, but he would not elaborate either." His eyes narrowed. "I want to see them as well."
Alton began to shift from one foot to the other, and he removed his glasses before looking down at the floor and shaking his head. "Both of you, please," he said quietly. "It's nothing as serious as you think..."
"Liar," Enya drawled. "You were sick for a week. That's serious."
Nathan watched the exchange, ready to slip away to the kitchen with Gabriel to leave them to their discussion, until Alton looked at him desperately. "Could you tell them to back off? You saw my wings. Tell them it's not as bad as they seem to think." He offered him a thin smile. "You know it's easily healed by now."
I know how bad it really was, and... and Gabriel said he couldn't heal his wings. There's no way they're healed now, and I can't imagine any other reason for him to avoid showing his wings. But he seems so adamant... why doesn't he want to show them? Should I lie for him? Who should I side with?