It may be important, or it may be nothing. Either way, it needs to be investigated.
The others didn't see the paper, so Nathan pointed it out while he walked towards it. "Think this could be something?" he asked as he carved a path in the snow to reach it, crouching down when he was next to the folded scrap. It was a white piece of paper and he wondered if Alton could see it at all, given how well its color blended with the snow. "Kind of awkwardly stuck here."
"Don't touch it," Alton warned when he reached to pull it out. After Nathan lowered his hand, the angel flicked his wrist and the paper jerked out of the snow and floated towards him. "It's best to take all precautions," he continued as he gestured, unfolding the scrap with his movements while it hovered there. "If it's nothing, better to look foolish being overly careful than find out the hard way that it's..." He stopped abruptly, eyes falling on the paper in front of him, narrowing as they darted from side to side, apparently reading something. He became completely still and quiet, causing the other two to exchange worried glances while they waited.
"Does it say something?" Scott eventually asked, uncomfortable with the silence. Alton didn't answer him, but kept reading, the pace of his eyes slowing as they gradually widened.
"Nathan," the angel said just as the writer was about to open his mouth to speak. "My keys. They're in my left pocket." His tone was very controlled and even, level and forced. His eyes never left the paper as he spoke. "I need you to take them, and I need you and Scott to go back inside."
"Why? What's wrong?" Nathan didn't mean to question his instructions, but he could tell something wasn't right when Alton squinted his eyes closed, his brows knotting tightly. Carefully, the writer stood and retrieved the keys from his pocket, but he wouldn't leave his side until he answered him. He glanced towards the paper still hovering there. "What does it say...?"
"Don't," Alton warned through his teeth, his voice deeper than it should have been, coarser. He drew several long, deep breaths. "Take it, but don't read it. Go inside and..." He winced, a low growl rising from his throat. "Just... go..." He said more, but in some other language. Scott was already backing away.
"I think we should listen to him, Kink." He looked at his coworker anxiously. "Grab it and let's go."
"What? No." The writer snatched the paper from the air, but didn't move. "Something's wrong, Scott. He's in pain..."
"...and he's told us to get back inside," Scott countered fearfully. "Something is wrong, yes. Very wrong, and I can't sense whatever it is." He began to back up again, but hesitated, waiting.
Nathan swallowed the tight knot in his throat. He knew he was right, but at the same time he didn't want to abandon Alton out in the snow. He tightened his hand around the scrap of paper, knowing that it somehow had to be the cause of this, but couldn't bring himself to leave. He looked at the angel one more time, trying to think of something more he could do to help him...
A familiar, eerie giggle and Scott's sudden gasp drew his attention back to his coworker, the pit of his stomach twisting when he saw Gula with her arms draped around his shoulders. She grinned widely -- too widely -- showing off her horrific teeth, her true nature beginning to show through her human guise. "See? See Be-Be... though not Be-Be now, no. Not who you want to be either." She hummed, giggling again when Scott tried to slide out of her arms, only tightening her hold. She nuzzled her head against his, her nose a pig-like snout, ears becoming porcine as well. "No no no. You are going to be a special treat. A promise is a promise, and even Gula can share sometimes." She snorted, then snatched his ear with her teeth, tugging hard, giggling even more when he cried in obvious pain. "Mmmm... need to be careful. Need to wait, yes. Need to wait."
"Let him go, Gula," Nathan demanded, trying to keep a brave face as he finally stepped away from Alton. The Sin growled and wrinkled her snout, clasping her arms to give herself a better hold instead.
"Why should I? I'm hungry, and you and I never got to play like Avaritia. Or Ira. Even Ira got to play more than me." Gula slowly grinned again. "But now it's my turn, and now I know where my sister was being hidden. Right, Be-Be? Oh, that's right. Not Be-Be. Not when Be-Be was the one doing all the hiding."
Nathan didn't want to turn around again, even when he heard the growling behind him, even when he realized that Alton was changing. He could hear him cringing and tried not to imagine what the groaning, snapping sounds he was hearing were, but couldn't stop himself from slowly looking back over his shoulder, already aware that the angel had grown twice his size and was looming over him. He was too afraid to turn all the way, but he could see that in Alton's oversized, clawed hands had materialized and equally large and grotesque axe.
Ira's axe, he realized. The color drained from his face while Gula laughed again.
Moloch... oh God, Alton was hosting Ira, wasn't he? And now... holy shit, we're screwed. What do I do? What do I do?