I have to keep my temper around her. I need to stand firm. I need to find Scott.
Nathan clenched his jaw, but forced back his emotions. No matter how upset, how angry her words made him, he would not give her the satisfaction of successfully goading him into rage. He took a deep breath. "I knew what I had to do," he said flatly. "I had to save Wren the only way I could, and the only way to free him was to cut off one of his limbs. It's not my fault that's the punishment for Wrath."
The Sin sneered at him and looked as if she might lash out, but didn't move. "You think you know so much about us, don't you? A veritable expert on me and my sisters, hm? You don't even know why we're here!"
"I know why you were here," he countered immediately, determined to keep his calm. "You were here as part of my test. Alton told that to me after you all decided to change the game."
"Ha! Is that what you think? That we changed the game? You're even more blind than I thought!" Ira growled and grabbed onto the railing, pulling herself back to her feet. "The game has never changed, Mr. Keen. Only the way it's being played..."
Gabriel was hurrying up the steps walking briskly towards the pair, still in full human guise. His eyes were wide with worry, but slowly narrowed as he got closer, until his expression had changed from near panic to cold seriousness. By the time he was next to Nathan, his lips were pressed in a firm frown. "What are you doing here, Ira?"
The Sin grinned at him, her face taking on its old bear-like appearance for the briefest instant. "My job, just like you, Gabriel. How is the redemption going, by the way?"
Gabriel's cheeks flushed, and his frown deepened. "That is none of your concern."
"Oh really? How is it none of my concern when I'm..."
"That's enough from you," the angel growled. Ira seemed highly amused as he again demanded, "What are you doing here? Lumiel was supposed to have locked you away."
"The bastard did!" she growled right back, though the grin remained. "But then someone decided I needed to be out, even in this... this pitiful state!" She released the railing to gesture towards herself, only to stagger and grab onto it again. "I fucking hate you angels and your fickleness..."
Gabriel calmed some and sighed, running his fingers through his hair while he turned towards his charge. "Are you alright, Nathan? I didn't sense you were in danger, but I'm glad I still caught up to you. I wasn't able to convince Micah to stay behind, so he's waiting out front in his car." A thin smile twitched at his lips. "Stubborn as usual."
Nathan wearily returned the smile. "Yeah, I'm fine, but I still haven't found Scott. I ran into her," he nodded towards Ira, still trying to steady herself with the railing, "and haven't been able to search since. I have no idea why she's here."
"That makes two of us," Ira shot at him, along with a glare. "One minute, I'm all settled in my little domain, the next I'm back in this stupid place, playing this stupid game for some stupid angels over a stupid human who can't get over killing his fiancee!"
That hit a chord he couldn't ignore, and the writer's face turned red as he whirled around to face her. "It was an accident!"
"An accident, he says. Red light? Green light? Red light? Green light?" Ira bopped her head back and forth, singing the words while she laughed. "How awful you are at this game..."
Tears began rolling down Nathan's cheeks, his hands balling into fists, but just as he raised one arm to swing, a cold hand wrapped around his wrist. Gabriel stared at him calmly, holding him back. "It's what Wrath does, Karol," the angel said softly. "I shouldn't be interfering with her work, but she shouldn't be here. You need to calm down."
Nathan tried, but his anger only ebbed into despair. His knees gave out from under him, and Gabriel had to catch him around the waist and hold him up until he was able to get past his sobbing. Ira, surprisingly, didn't goad him while he was recovering, instead waiting until he was standing on his own to speak.
"I don't want to be here any more than you do," she said through her teeth. "I don't know if Lumiel changed his mind and brought me back out of my realm, or if one of his little friends did it, but I am done. I have no instructions."
"Weren't you already breaking the rules when you sided with Superbia and her plot?" Gabriel asked her bluntly. The Sin grimaced and rolled her eyes.
"Her plot... pfft! I have my own reasons to be pissed at the Devil that just happen to be convenient to her. He isn't winning any love from me by constantly changing his plans. I am what I do and I do what I am. You should know this, Gabriel."
The angel sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. Still holding on to Nathan, he turned to the writer. "That's true enough. She is the incarnation of pure anger. She can't help that everything sets her off."
"And now I'm stuck here, discombobulated and aimless!" Ira growled and glared at the two of them. "Like Gula had to keep consuming, I have to keep provoking. Unless you want the crime rate to go up exponentially, I suggest you stop gawking and do something about it!"
"Do what?" Nathan snapped back, pausing and quickly pulling in his anger with a deep, calming breath before he continued. "Aren't you looking for more freedoms, like your sister?"
"I would have been perfectly fine staying in my realm, thank you," the Sin sneered. "But that isn't going to happen again any time soon. If I'm here, I've got a few options: one, find another host since you mutilated my first one; or two, have someone stabilize this form for me." She wrinkled her nose. "Wish I knew how the hell Gula managed to pull that one off on herself..."
Gabriel tapped Nathan's shoulder, gesturing for him to step back so they could talk while Ira continued grumbling discontentedly about her sister. "I don't think she knows about the feather," he said quietly. "Otherwise, I'm pretty sure she would have asked more directly about being stabilized. She's very weak, but there's no way any of us could send her back to her domain, especially if Lumiel released her again. I don't know why he would, but I don't think there's any other angel who can do that."
"So what do we do?" Moving away from Ira helped calm his nerves more than anything, as Nathan realized it was the Sin's presence alone that was stoking his anger. "I mean, can we really risk helping her?"
The angel sighed again. "It might be a risk worth taking. The only way she'll be able to exist comfortably outside of her ring of Hell is either by taking another host or having an angel stabilize the form she's currently in. I could do that, but I'm not sure whether or not that will make her even stronger than if she took a host instead. In my opinion, those two options are our only choices, as leaving her unstable and without a host means she will have to constantly be on the move, provoking anyone she encounters into rage just to keep footing. I think her warning about the crime rate increasing is the least of what could happen if all of Virtue was suddenly engulfed by a wave of anger and hate."
"So what do we do?" Nathan didn't like these options, and a terrible knot began twisting in his stomach. Unfortunately, Gabriel only frowned, shaking his head.
"I don't know."
We have to do something about Ira, since we can't send her back to Hell and it isn't like we can tell Alton to do it again (especially if he's the one who called her back, for whatever reason). I don't like the idea of finding her another host, but I don't want to volunteer either, and Gabriel seems just as apprehensive about stabilizing her in this form. Leaving her like this seems to be the worst option, but do we really want to help a Sin? What should we do?