Finding Avery quickly is important, and who better to ask for help than a detective?
Nathan swallowed loudly, thinking on it for a moment longer, then sighing, feeling a little guilty about his final decision. "I'm going to summon help," he said, hoping Scott would understand. "Brace yourself."
Scott frowned but nodded, leaning back in his seat and closing his eyes. Nathan wasn't sure whether to use his signature or his Name, but decided that this was emergency enough to use the latter. A little anxious about his coworker overhearing (even though he knew he couldn't repeat what he heard), the writer muttered the angel's name quietly.
From the passenger's seat, Scott suddenly winced, brows knotting as he buckled forward, Micah appearing silently in the seat directly behind him. The angel gave him a brief glance before he looked at Nathan, lips pressed in their usual frown. "Explain your urgency, Karol. I..." He stopped, glancing at Scott again while the reporter held his head and began breathing heavily. He raised an eyebrow. "He is not your emergency, is he?"
"No, he just has a bad reaction to strong, eh, presences." Nathan grimaced. "You're making his Spidey-senses go berserk."
"It's too hot in here," Scott gritted through his teeth. "Strong scents... orange and cedar..." He looked over at Nathan desperately, features twisted in pain while he tried to manage the onslaught of input he was suddenly getting. "Who the fucking hell did you summon?"
"Michael," the angel introduced himself, now watching him intently. "Archangel of..."
"Name's enough," Scott cut him off, head bobbing. "Jesus Christ, Kink. You summoned the fucking nuclear reactor of supernatural entities!"
The angel winced, but then leaned forward and touched Scott's shoulder. "Ease."
At once, Scott did so, the tension in his shoulders relaxing abruptly, the pained expression fading from his face. He seemed disoriented, sitting up slowly, then carefully turned his head to look back at Micah. "Um... thanks? What did you do...?"
"Strengthened your resistance to my presence. You were coping remarkably well, but whatever Nathan has summoned me for, if he has done so in your presence, then I would assume he wants you able to function. I am sure we do not have time to wait for you to regain your senses on your own, especially if my suppressed presence affects you so much."
Scott started to nod, but was quickly confused again. "Wait, that was suppressed?"
"We can talk about this later," Nathan quickly cut in, turning to Micah again. "We need your help finding Avery. He's homeless again because of the reset, and it's freezing out there. We need to find him and make sure he's safe."
Micah stared at him, his expression barely changing. "Why did you summon me instead of Lumiel, then?" he asked. "He would know more precisely where he is, since he orchestrated the reset."
"Because the Devil is more apt to taunt us than help us," Scott growled. His response seemed to amuse the angel, a thin smile gracing his lips.
"True enough. Alright. I see why you deemed this an emergency." Micah nodded his head. "Do you have any thoughts on where he might be?"
Nathan threw his hands in the air. "That's what we need help with. Last I knew, he'd been adopted, but the reset changed that. Before, he was living in the drainage pipes." He banged his head on the steering wheel. "And if he's there, how are we going to find him?"
"Let us start there, and we can work our way to other locations." Micah drew a deep breath. "Since it is the worst place he could be, it is best to search there first. I remember his old home, unfortunately, given the circumstances that I had been brought there. I can take us there quickly."
Nathan lifted his head and looked towards Scott, knowing immediately what he meant. "You sure you still want to help me with all this? I know I only just brought you up to speed, but with the way your senses tend to impair you..."
"I won't learn to manage them if I don't practice managing them, Kink," Scott told him, smirking. "I'm helping you, whether you like it or not."
The writer couldn't help but smile in return. His words reminded him of when Enya, pre-reset, had told him more or less the same thing. "Okay then." He turned back to Micah and nodded. "Whenever you're ready."
The angel nodded in return. "Close your eyes."
All things considered, Scott did remarkably well for being teleported for the first time. It might have helped that Micah didn't just move them, but the entire car as well, leaving them all still seated when they arrived at one of the entrances to the drain pipes under Virtue. The reporter was still disoriented, however, and held onto the roof when he stepped out. "That... That was weird," he mumbled, shaking his head. "Now I get why you said for us to close our eyes."
Nathan was much more anxious. "Couldn't you have taken us right to the spot?" he asked, looking worriedly at the angel. Micah huffed and shook his head.
"I could have, but there is no guarantee that he is in the same location as before." He walked towards both men, handed them each a flashlight. "It is better that we search from the start and know our way back. We do not know what we may find, and there is always the chance I will not be able get us out like I got us here. It is best that you both know how to navigate the pipes on your own."
Scott frowned, clearly not liking the sound of that, then shivered, rubbing his arms before he clicked his flashlight on. "Let's get moving then. The less time we waste, the better."
It was an eerie experience for Nathan (who had taken the lead), the sense of deja vu disturbing, making a knot form in his stomach. The last time he was here was with Gabriel and Lumiel, looking for Avery, rescuing Michael from Avarice. The teen almost hadn't made it through that ordeal, and Nathan had a terrible feeling that a similar scene was about to play out. Scott must have noticed his unease, touching his shoulder lightly as they took a right where the tunnel split for the first time. "You okay?"
Nathan shook his head. "I have a bad feeling about this..."
Not a minute after voicing his worry did they come across a familiar encampment. The floor in this area of the tunnel was uneven, providing a small hump of dry ground where a bundle of blankets was curled, the smoldering remnants of a pitiful campfire nearby. It was almost impossible to see the figure underneath all that cloth, but a few light puffs of breath and those unmistakeable golden curls were enough to identify him.
"Avery!" Nathan kept the beam of his flashlight aimed at the sleeping teen, relieved to see he was still breathing as he ran towards him. That relief vanished the moment he was close enough to see how pale and blue his skin was. "No no no no no..."
Just as Micah and Scott were running to catch up with him, a sudden, melodic chuckle stopped them all in their tracks. "Gabriel was right: you do have a hero complex. Do you not, Karol?"
There was a blinding flash, the chamber instantly illuminated by some unknown, pale light. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness, but when Nathan was able to focus on Avery again, the knot in his stomach tightened, and he began to feel sick. "No..."
Raphael tilted his head, looking at Nathan curiously while he crouched beside Avery, the yellow cloak he wore draped around the teen. "No?" he echoed. "Is that denial or disappointment? Do you know why I am here?"
"Yes." Nathan tried to stay calm, but barely managed it. "You're taking over for Gabriel while he's on break." He didn't know what to do. Maybe if he kept him talking... but how was he going to get Avery away from him?
The angel nodded. "Yes, that is right. And this one," he looked at Avery, "is very close to due. Final stage of hypothermia. If he were awake, you would be able to see the symptoms, though perhaps this is already the result of terminal burrowing, since there are not many places for him to crawl into here. Hmm, I wonder if he suffered paradoxical undressing too..." He started to tug at some of the blankets.
"Leave him alone!" Scott moved beside Nathan, his hand clenched so tightly around the flashlight the plastic creaked under the pressure. "Get the hell away from him!"
Raphael looked up and chuckled again, but said nothing, only shaking his head. Micah, meanwhile, moved to Nathan's other side, touching his back lightly to get his attention.
"I cannot prevent him from doing his job," he told him quietly, his stern expression barely masking the pain in his words. "I do not have the free will to do so."
"I may be willing to make a trade," Raphael suggested, watching the three of them. "The life of this youth for something else. It need not be another life, though that request I made earlier..." His eyes flashed brilliant green. "That is off limits." He smirked again. "Though I am sure you can think of something worthwhile, Karol. You do know where some of my interests lie." This time Raphael's gaze shift over to Scott, immediately making the reporter shift uneasily.
I can't promise to bring him a piece of Lumiel in exchange for Avery. Of course: that would have been the easiest thing to do. He clearly has interest in Scott, but there's no way... I could tell Micah to attack him, maybe, but then he'd know I know his Name. I have to do something to save Avery, but what? What can I do? Would... would threatening my own life again possibly work?