Kevin feared the worst, always fearing the worse. He had to constantly check over his shoulder, just to make sure that car wasn't coming down the street, or that person in a suit and tie hadn't been following him the last two blocks. He'd have to double his pace, now, jump on the sidewalk, keep walking, hold his papers and his folder tight to his chest. He turned his head, to check over his shoulder, make sure no one was putting a knife in his back without his OK to do so. He picked up the pace again, stepping quickly, lively, trying to get off of the streets before he could be spotted at all. His eyes were down, his glasses dropping down on the bridge of his nose, watching each slab of sidewalk go by as he stepped over them, over the cracks, listening to his pants brushing together.
And just as quickly, he collided with another body, jumping backwards as it felt as if he hit a brick wall. His eyes meekly went up, a tall figure looking down on him, a few papers oozing out of his own folder as he hunched and stared into cold, dark eyes. He murmured lowly, muttering and stuttering at the same time, as if his plea would never be heard.
Just as soon as he had forgotten to check over his shoulder, he heard it. The shrill screeching of tires, a car heading around the corner a ways away quicker than it was supposed to. His hands became paralyzed, his legs, his face creaking towards the direction the noise came from, down the street. Everything was stiff. Although he knew he should run, he couldn't. His body dragged him down, kept him as still as a statue. His papers fell onto the ground in a jumble, and his muscles quivered in fear. He knew he had to run. He knew it meant life or death. His muscles ripped in pain as he turned, moving his lead feet quickly up, stretching out to turn his back and start down the sidewalk.
But even that was hard. He felt his arm stay behind, gripped by something hard and unmovable. He looked back, in slow motion, the car flying up in the background making his eyes wide in fear. The man -- the one he had bumped into -- was holding him back. He looked up into his face, confused as to why he would do such a thing. Those cold eyes, long hair that swooped over his face, made him look like a serial killer, his attire dark, not like the suits, but the way his facial structure was constructed made him wonder if he was european. "What are you doing?! Let go!" He yelled back at the man who held him, unable to twist himself free from the grasp. If only he could rip off his own arm, but he couldn't find the strength in fear to do that. The man must have been a russian, following him from the start, all the way down from his hiding spot straight down the street, now holding him to wait until the car could come, swoop him up, and toss him in the trunk, gagged and bound.
"LET GO OF ME! HELP! LET GO! LET GO OF ME! HELP! SOMEONE HELP ME!" Kevin thrashed endlessly, his glasses tossing from his face to land somewhere on the ground. He stepped, punched, kicked, moved, but the man would not budge. He merely watched the car head up, maybe as frozen in fear as Kevin had been, but probably just waiting for them to come get him so they could toss him through the window into some cliff or deep ravine. No one would help. Anyone who did hear turned a blind eye, quickly turning away to scatter down the sidewalk. The grip would not let up. He was done for.
But the car did not slow as he had expected, rather, the windows rolled down, and out popped some propped up guns on top of the tinted windows. He shouted, he screamed and wailed, tossed and turned even harder than he had before. He wanted to live! He didn't want to die, not by the hands of these russian wanna-bes after what he had discovered. He wanted to live! He wanted to live!
His cries went unheard by everyone, for the car let loose a quick spray of bullets, two or three guns firing out of the side of the car. For a moment, he could only stare in awe at the rippling effect of the bullets, the way they seared across the air, landed all around him. He wondered if they had missed by some vague chance as they sped away, then noticed he was sinking, sinking, falling down to his knees. He glanced down. All of his life was pouring out of him, and he couldn't hold it up.
Nothing would hold up. The leaks wouldn't be plugged, the red poured out onto gravel and sidewalk, onto his papers -- his poor papers. He felt himself sink again, a second time, the sidewalk coming up to hit him in the face. Before it could send a one-two punch, everything went black.
Mothers eyes are sparking diamonds Still the moon shows no likeness Roses wither may god deliver The rake at the gates of hell tonight.
Kevin's eyes scraped open, peeling slowly, feeling heavy, sweat-filled, like they had been pierced and had five pounds of weight hanging off of them in fishhooks. It took a while for him to get them open, to get them even halfway there, to focus in on the blur. A bunch of blurs. Shades of gray. He could smell a smell, one of prolonged cigarette smoke, the way the fabric he was laying on reeked of that tar smell, that nicotine stain. He inhaled, a pain shooting up his spine, through his heart, and it felt as if the muscle would seize up, for he let the breath out slow, staccato, a little bit after a little bit. His sides hurt, but the place he was in was unrecognizable. The long coffee table in front of him, wooden and sturdy, the objects on it blurred and out of focus, shiny objects, dull objects. The room was dark, but he couldn't quite tell if it was night or not.
"Where am I"
Kevin expected an answer, but got none. It seemed the room was empty, at least from any russians. There was no light shining in his face, and he wasn't tied to a chair or handcuffed to anything. He twisted, his arm coming up under him, making that shrill pain in his ribs return. He squinted, looking into the darkened corner, where smoke seemed to linger endlessly, making a cloudy haze.
An ember of orange fire suddenly lit up and faded away, and he realized he was not alone. Quickly, he moved, jumping to his feet in a pang of ravenous searing flesh, and grabbed the first thing he could find, which appeared to be a dagger. Good enough. He tightened it into his hand, around the end, the handle, the hilt. If he could see this intruder, then the intruder could see him.
"You stay away from me"
His own voice seemed harsh and unused, like grout, like grain, like sandpaper on wood. It felt like his lungs had been drained of something, like his throat had been carved up and had lemon juice poured down it. However, the intruder did not take to his words, and moved from his misty haze. So it was a familiar face. One of the man who had held him back on the streets. The one who had done this to him, and the one who was no doubtedly killing him. He knew what was going on with this dagger. He had read about the satanic rituals, or the barbarians, or the cannibals who stripped away flesh and ate it, raw and uncooked, or stir fried. The man was dressed differently, however, his flesh covered with a white shirt, red staining and covering the front, black pants, and a black tie. A professional, it seemed; possibly an occultist who was interesting in the sacrificing of life. He watched the man flick his cigarette's ashes into the ground.
"Get back or I'll cut you"
The man didn't seem to care, or just was very good at not showing it. Maybe he had a gun. After all, if he was a russian, he could possibly have some sort of gun just waiting to take care of him directly after Kevin told him where the vial was. That was what they wanted, wasn't it? And he hadn't tied him down for the psychological factor... Because he was going to be tortured one way or another until he gave up that location. However, Kevin figured he could fight. He'd fight with everything he had. Getting rid of one scum bag on the streets would be better than killing thousands of innocent people.
"Put it down." He heard the man say, low, almost a whisper, but it struck a nerve in him, one that made him want to run and hide, made him want to jump out of the window -- if there even was one in here -- made him shake deep inside. This man's stare... It cut right through him, cut into his soul, his voice the blade, his eyes like ice.
He wouldn't, however, and shook it at him, stepping forward a little to show he wasn't kidding about cutting him up. But it became hot in his hands, burning... What was that smell? He looked down to it in his palm, and it seared deep, the metal seemingly red hot, smoking onto his flesh, making his nerves go wild in agonizing pain. Kevin's throat let out an involuntary yell, the fire he held hotter than hell itself. He let go, let it dropped to the ground with a thick thunk, and looked at his fleshy hand. The man was unfazed. He sucked in on the end of the short, used up cigarette.
"I'm not done with you." He seemed to speak hazily, tossing his cigarette onto the ground, smearing it in slightly with his black, polished shoe. Kevin backed away, a step, his foot getting caught on the leg of a table directly next to the couch, tripped himself backwards, able to catch himself for the moment. The man stepped forward, an audible sigh ringing through the air, and picked up the knife he had dropped from the carpeting.
"Get on the table." He demanded, rising up again, pointing the end of the blade towards the coffee table in front of the couch. However, Kevin would not so easily give in. He would fight. He would fight and he would win. He wouldn't so easily let this man take what he had worked towards. He wouldn't comply, and shook his head in defiance. ÊIt was the man's fault if he had wanted him to stay still and hadn't tied him down. So he prepared to fight, uttering words of defiance and beckoning a fight.
"Fuck you, nazi"
However prepared Kevin was to fight, he was not quite prepared for what was to come. The man had been on him in a moment, a mere second. The man grabbed at his flesh, grabbed him tightly by the throat and whipped him around, twirling him about so fast it made him dizzy, made him choke against the grip, and then he fell again, fell hard and deep into something solid. The table. It shook with his body's force, the objects that had been on it falling off. He could hear metal fall off, roll off, and hit the ground with a shimmering chink. His head turned on the table, and he looked over. It seemed they were bullet casings. Each of them considerably covered with blood, both dried and wet.
"That's you." The man who held him spoke, lowly, into his ear. What was that supposed to mean? Was he supposing that this man was suggesting he was going to pull out his organs and place them in a pile with those bullets? It seemed like some sort of psychological warfare, something he was doing mentally to instill fear, and it was working. Kevin thrust his hands backwards, forwards into flesh before they had been caught by one, large, cold hand. He twisted, turned, slammed and arched his back forward and backwards, the table shaking, his lungs gasping open and closed with each yelling breath, and planted a kick straight into the man's pelvis.
But as he had instincitively thought the response would have been, it wasn't. The man was rock solid, unmoveable. He twisted, though, moving himself to seat on top of Kevin, putting so much pressure on his stomach it felt as if he was going to burst. The man lifted his arms up, over his head, and for a moment, Kevin feared something else. He feared something he hadn't thought he would fear, the one that women fear when they're subdued by strangers, the same strange fear homophobic people shared. The man's face came forward, close, his hair draping over his face, so close to Kevin's that the ends of his hair brushed onto his cheeks. Kevin winced, squinted his eyes and gritted his teeth.
"I helped you." The man hissed. He couldn't see it. How could this man have helped him? He held him back, brought him here as a prisoner, tried to destroy him. He could feel him, hard on his stomach, hard on his chest, trying to make his heart explode all over the table. The fear was high in him, loud, pounding up in his throat, in his head. He was unsure what was to come, so unsure it scared him. He wanted to live! He bellowed out a loud scream, one so piercing he hoped someone would hear him. There had to be other occupants, there just had to be.
But it was cut short just as quickly, since the man picked him up, lifted him from the table, and then slammed him back down, making the lamp off to the left of the couch shudder, the bullets roll further away, the entire place let out a high ring. His air left him, his breath flying out into the air, and he gasped for a lung full. The man leaned in again, deep, close, softly speaking as he tried to struggle for a breath.
"They think you're dead"
He caught his breath, turning his eyes onto his tormenter, staring up into those dark, cold veils. The man leaned away, and Kevin's eyes gaped, both in fear and confusion. That's right. He had been bleeding on the pavement. He had passed out cold on the sidewalk, and no one would help him. They shot him up and kept going, they didn't even check to see if they had done the job correctly. Who was this guy?
"Stop bleeding on my carpet"
Kevin's eyes turned, looking to the right of him, where indeed, dark red blood flowed off of the table, and dripped onto the beige colored carpeting. He must have ripped the scabs or the clots with all that moving around, all those holes from the bullets they pumped into him, and now he was going to die from blood loss. He -- A pain seared through him, an incredible one, so hot and firey that it made him scream, louder, louder, until his throat cracked and he could feel his blood curdle up into his mouth. It surged up and down his body, throbbing in ravenous anger in his side, thrusting, pulling, something coming in so hard and so fast, too large to be let in, flesh ripping, muscles parting. And just as soon, he began to feel dizzy, his vision of those staring eyes becoming fuzzy, and quickly fading away into black.
The second time was just as pensive, his eyes prodding themselves open, fluttering in beat to his heart deep inside his chest. Bullet casings were lined up right in front of his face, along the table, seven of them all in a row, covered with dried blood. His organs weren't spilled onto the floor, and in fact -- What did he put inside him?! He thrust about, turning to the left to scrape at his right side, covered in bandages, pushing away the white fabric to look... The bleeding, gaping hole seemed to be sewn up, nice and tight, a little bit bulging as he touched it, sending a painful chill up his spine. The stitches looked medical, nice and neat like a nurse or a doctor would do to a patient dying on the table. Kevin's fingers brushed over the top, feeling the tearing of the thread and his flesh bulging beneath.
Quickly, his attention ripped away, hearing a sound, a strange one, like broken glass, something being dropped or hurled into the floor, followed by the sound of quick moving footsteps on the floor. He shifted, sitting himself up onto the couch, his curiosity of his tormenter getting the best of him. His head throbbed slightly as he stood, stitches feeling strange against his flesh. His legs made him limp as he moved, the muscles not quite working as they should have. However, they dragged him closer to a slightly brighter room a kitchen-like area, walking right up to the mouth of the opening, leaning against the wall. Directly in front of him was a small round table, four chairs around it. To the left was his capturer, on the floor, scooping up bits of glass with his hands, pushing them shoddily into his palm. He was dressed differently now, no longer covered in blood in a suit and tie, but instead wearing a white sleeveless shirt, showing he was not so scrawny, maybe a little bit muscular. He wore an eerie amount of dog tags strung about his neck, each just as shined up as the last, none of them making a noise. The insides of his arms were wrapped with bandages, tied off and the ends hanging loosely. Surrounding him was a counter top and cabinets. Kevin watched him for a moment, watching him brush over the linoleum with his fingers.
"Who are you?" Kevin asked, and the man froze up, pausing to look over rather strangely. He turned, however, without a word towards him, dumping his palm full of glass into a waste basket off towards the left. Soon he settled back against the counter behind him, looking towards Kevin again, as if he hadn't understood at all the question at hand. Maybe he only spoke a few words of english, and was just some sort of sympathetic russian. They were everywhere, weren't they? The second he forgot to look over his shoulder they were there.
"You understand english, don't you"
There was no reply, a silence as he stared at Kevin, and Kevin shrunk back under his stare. ÊHe had the authority here, but if Kevin wanted answers, he would get answers, whether it was in russian or english. After all, he could speak russian. He could translate what he was saying rather easily, and decided to take a stab towards that instead. He struggled to get the words out, past the fear of where he was, and past the fear of that car, those people, this russian.
"Bbl rOBOpNTe pycckOrO"
The man was unfazed, and instead broke in, with perfect english, not even so much of an accent notioning towards being of any other nationality, hissing a little, low, whispering, just that tone he had taken when Kevin had threatened to attack him. Nonchalant, it seemed, ready for anything.
"You've been looking for me"
Kevin squinted at him, staring into his eyes. They were strange, devoid of color, silver, like mercury ovals inside his head. He had never seen eyes like that before, the way they swam and shifted, but something looked off about them. His pupils were small, constricted to tiny little pinholes, black dots in the middle of his eyes. He wasn't looking for this strange man -- and the more he looked at him, the more he looked like a young man -- and he shook his head to portray such. "What's wrong with your eyes"
The man -- the child -- turned his head away, his eyes turned away so Kevin could no longer comment on them, as if maybe he had been hiding something about them and had forgotten. However, Kevin's curiosity was sparked now, and he watched him move, watching his young face turn away. He couldn't have been more than twenty years old. Kevin himself was twenty-eight; he should have been able to tell. There was something else off about him, as he shifted in front of the blinded shut window... It was the way his skin was pigmented, the way it reflected the sun. There was no color. It was just white, like a porcelain doll, matching his shirt, pretty in a way, like a corpse drained of all its life. Again, Kevin commented, feeling a little bit disgusted by the sight and thought of a living corpse.
"And your skin?" He watched him move, touching with his fingers a carton of cigarettes, that awful smell. He turned away, and Kevin moved to watch him, pulling a cancer stick from the box to place in his mouth, leaning in towards the stove to the right of him, turning a dial so the flame burst from the burners, lighting his cigarette quite easily. He turned the knob so it turned off again, and dragged inward on the cigarette, letting out an exhale. The time between his questions and the lack of answer was frustrating.
"You didn't answer my question"
"Which one was that?" He answered, coldly, scraping. He flicked ashes from the cigarette's end, and let them fall onto linoleum. Kevin cocked his head in denial, incredulously unbelieving that this kid was screwing with him in this way. He almost felt like he could yell, could start screaming at this younger child, telling him not to fuck around, to what he says, but the reminder, that constant reminder, that he had been so easily overpowered and pinned into a coffee table made him set his jaw. Instead, he reset his question, quickly.
"Who are you? What's your name"
A beat shifted, a lapse of time between them, the question and the answer, and it seemed the answer was to come soon. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't, but the suspicion and the suspension was amazing. It made him want to step forward and put his hands around the neck of his capturer, this young child, this tall being that seemed so weak and so strong at the same time. Then it came, in a soft murmur, a german phrase.
It was why he had thought he had looked european. He was. He was german. And he was right. He had been looking for him. Kevin had caught wind of this bit, had been carrying papers trying to track down this person, one half or the other, the creation or the destruction side of the Engel. He had been searching high and low, in the United States, in the United Kingdom, anywhere to see if this Engel could help him, and when he had least expected it, he had bumped into one. He couldn't help it, couldn't help but to step forward towards him, unsure if this... This child was a savior, or a serial killer. His legs caught him up, trampled him, made him start falling, made the floor come up to meet him. This time, he hadn't met it, instead had been caught by those ice cold white hands, that smell of smoke. They drug him up, pulling him forward, to his feet, towards one of the chairs just to his left, which came out and the child sat him onto. The Engel stood back, his cigarette hanging from his mouth, wasting away slowly. Kevin leaned over the table, feeling the urge to vomit rise in his throat, feeling his face go pale. He felt sick, just sick knowing that he had been looking so long for this kid, only to have himself shot up by fault of his. Who had he been kidding? He thought that some sort of elusive chase would have taken his mind off of the task at hand, off of that stupid vial. It nauseated him, to see the kid just kick back against a counter top and smoke his cigarette without a care in the world.
This couldn't have been who he was looking for. This kid must have just been a mirror of the Engel, a wanna-be serial killer who had a good knowledge of the human anatomy, who had ripped out his organs, moved things around. He remembered that feeling, of what it was that went in and came out of his soft flesh, and his hand brushed onto his side, the texture of bandages rippling under his fingertips. Had he taken something out... Or put something in?
"What did you do to me?" His eyes glared towards that boy, that wanna-be, that wishful thinker who humbly turned away, his cigarette burning down between his fingers. The wanna-be hadn't seemed to notice, didn't seem to hear or care in the least, and it angered him. It made his throat swell up, made his voice rise, impatient with the way this child had treated him. He couldn't respect this, not when it claimed the mighty Engel name and moved things around inside him.
"Hey, I'm talking to you, boy"
Just as quickly the Engel turned his head, snapping it about, but not losing that carelessly pensive manner of movement, lifting his arm again, one hand folded into the crook of his other arm, his hand coming up to his mouth, to suck on that cancer stick, to fill his lungs with blackened tar and nicotine. He said nothing, however, and Kevin's frustration peaked, wondering if he was just going to stand there and stare at him as he sat in pain, his insides sloshing about in some sort of mess, shirtless, bandaged and bloody. Kevin's fingers scraped over the bandages again, unable to leave them alone, and unable to tell what was hidden beneath. It felt like he needed to scratch, even though there was no itch to be reached, his fingernails clawing at the fabric.
"What did you do to me?! What did you take out!" Kevin demanded, leaning on the edge of the chair, staring him in the eye, trying to get the right tone of voice, trying to instill the fear. This boy was fearless, for his eyes seemed hazy, and he merely cocked his head a little towards Kevin. Kevin's extra breath made him feel woozy, dizzy, nauseated again. He must have messed around in there if he was feeling so fucking sick, if he couldn't walk, couldn't move without pain. But the boy simply gestured out towards the couch he had risen off of, at the lined up bullet casings with a long, slender finger.
"I told you. That's you." He paused, drew a hand back up to his face to receive the cigarette drooping from the corner of his mouth, and pointed off towards the right, burning stick between his forefinger and index finger, near the wall inside a small metal bowl, more bullet casings. but bloodier, seeming to swim in a veil of thick red blood. He spoke again, smoke coming from his mouth as he pronounced each syllable. "And that's me"
This guy was plainly cracked out. Kevin stared at him, unable to figure out the jigsaw puzzle he laid before him, watching him plainly suck on the end of his cigarette, draw after draw, filling the room with that awful reeking smell. He must have smoked like a chimney if his couch had reeked of it. Cracked out indeed, it seemed he was out of his mind, cryptic in all manners. The Engel wanna-be merely shook his head, a little bit of a wag as he looked down, flicking ashes onto the linoleum. This kid got him shot up by a bunch of russians, had him scared out of his mind, and now had him cornered. What was he supposed to do? Say see you and make a run for the door? Buy the guy-
A thank you would be nice, Kevin.
H... He-- Who-- That was not his voice, not his conscience, not any part of him. His eyes darted towards the boy, who was now staring at him rather pleasantly, his mouth shut and jaw set, letting the cigarette burn away into his skin, smoke trailing off the edge. He seemed to be waiting for something, as if in suspense. Had this boy shot him full of drugs? He couldn't tell. He wasn't experiencing any visual hallucinations, at least not to his knowledge, but the auditory ones seemed to be coming. Or had he said something and he had missed-
"What did you say?" Kevin's eyes stared, vehemently waiting for his reply, waiting for him to say that he said something, or say that he had said nothing, to confirm one suspicion and deny the other, but again, unlike the straightforward answer most gave, his reply lingered in between, unable to choose sides between one area of the line and the next.
"What makes you think I said something"
Kevin felt queasy again, his stomach rupturing up into his throat as he stared at this boy, avoiding the stare of his ice eyes, but he couldn't help but look, like a train wreck one could not look away from, like a tragic car accident or road kill, or the holocaust no one could stop because they were too busy watching in awe, their jaws to the floor, contemplating whether or not to help. He stuttered for a reply, some sort of retort, something to get angry at, something to beat this child to death with, club him over the head and take off running, but he couldn't find the energy to get up, only to gape, wide eyed and staring.
You didn't answer my question.
He jumped, jolted in his seat quickly, the voice so clear and cutting in his head, the look on his tormenter's face so placid and passive as he cocked his head to the side and drew in on that cigarette again. The fear instilled inside him again, and he felt violated, ripped apart in many places, not just his physical body, but his mind feeling torn and picked apart, one piece after the next. His body shook, and he couldn't hold himself back from yelling.
"Stop it!" Yelling, pointing his finger accusingly at the suave man, the way he pushed aside his cigarette and pushed out a breath of smoke. Everything about him made him scared again, made him feel like pissing himself, made him feel frozen up and paralyzed where he sat, unable to shift or move away from this train wreck. His breath pushed out hard, and the man -- the Engel -- went to extinguish his cigarette onto the counter top. He must have thought twice, for he drew back before he plunged it in, and instead, ground it into his vulnerable arm. Not so much of a wince out of him, not even as Kevin imagined the heat on his own flesh, sending his hair on end, making him shiver to himself.
"You found me." He folded out his arms as if to show himself off, then dropped them back onto the counter tops, his queer eyes settling back onto Kevin, somehow not as digging as they had been, but more pacified, cooled down, faded out. "What is it you want"
"I..." He stuttered. He couldn't find a word he wanted, nor a sentence or a statement. What did he want? What would he have asked the Engel if he had met him, face to face? He wasn't too sure he should have been saying anything to one who might not have been the Engel, but he could be convinced. If he was talking in his head, then there must have been some way. He just had to remember there were two sides to the Engel, the destruction and the creation, and he needed to keep himself on the good side, like the way the stories went. The Engel was but a powerful man, angelic in stature, angelic in his movement, his voice heavenly and light, creating where he stepped on one side of the Earth, and the other side destroying. A myth, it seemed, until he caught whiff of the living legend. No, he is alive now and today, walking the Earth, looking for those to help or those to destroy; like a personal savior in this world of urban decay. Finally he found the words, and pushed them together.
"I... What's your first name? Is it Engel"
He felt more and more like a child now, looking up at this Santa Claus or this Tooth Fairy, believing in some sort of ridiculous story, a tale, like Red Riding Hood. Even if this wasn't the Engel, he could still pretend it was. Maybe he could help; maybe he would have the sympathy to deal with his cause, even if he wasn't what he claimed he was.
"Azrael." It was clearly foreign, just as his last name had been. It was strange, unique, and he wondered in the back of his head how it was spelled, how his tongue would have been able to pronounce it, if at all. Kevin couldn't stop scratching, however, over his bandages, against his flesh, wondering what was put inside of him, just beyond the stitches and the thread. He stopped, pausing to hold out his hand, trying not to be rude to the man who held him back and pried things from him.
"I'm--" But he was cut off just as quickly, for the stranger finished his sentence just as fast.
"Kevin Shrapnel. I read your files"
There was a beat between them, another one of those lingering silences where the Engel looked at him, letting the cigarette burn away and make up a thick cloud of fog up around the ceiling, the floor seeming to be completely empty of it. Kevin sized him up, looking over his body. He seemed a bit on the skinny side, like he was possibly malnourished or just didn't have any meat on him, but at the same time, he did have muscle. He could see it defined in the arms, his chest, but his ribs seemed to protrude through that, and it made him wonder how a man with such a nice apartment could have let himself starve. Maybe material possessions meant more to him than food or water did. Silently he looked over the pristine flesh before him, wondering about those russian shooters. They had shot him up pretty bad, so how could they possibly miss the Engel? It seemed shady to him.
"You weren't shot?" He decided to ask, leaning forward questioningly, watching the stranger twitch his fingers a bit before he folded them over the opposite arm and gave him an icy stare.
"Twelve times." He stated, matter-of-factly, his eyes continuing that glance that Kevin couldn't hold. He had to look away, and tossed his eyes around the kitchen area. The place looked clean, pretty well kept, as if either he was a neat freak, or he didn't visit the place often. Looking at this stranger, Kevin couldn't quite tell, but he seemed like a little of both, especially because of the way he protected his carpeting from the fresh stains of dripping blood.
"You don't look it." Kevin's mouth mumbled without him thinking, moving as his eyes cascaded from one object to the other. There was a window, and it was covered in blinds, just as the main room had been before. It was just behind the counters, installed in the back wall. Blinded up, what was he trying to hide? Or was it the other way around? Was he trying to hide from someone too? It seemed far fetched, if he could have attributed this young one to the stories of the Engel he had heard and had investigated on. The Engel said nothing, just left the babbling void of empty noises to itself, and for the first time in a long time, Kevin could hear his breath taking over the air of silence. It seemed the man didn't even breath, as if he wasn't even alive let alone standing in front of him and talking to him. That was considering, of course, the little responses he did give. It seemed he was avoiding most conversation. To Kevin, people were eager to speak. They were always eager to make a connection with another living being, no matter how hard it was. This was why people grasped for friendly conversation, and Kevin had been rather skilled at becoming friendly. However, every attempt he made to become friendly with this stranger seemed to just get shot down, just diminished into nothing, making Kevin sound like a loud-mouthed fool. He would keep trying, however, to get him to talk, about anything at all, just let him go off on some sort of story or information or something just to make the room not feel so damned awkward.
"So how old are you? You're like... Eighteen, nineteen, right? You seem kind of young for some of the things I've heard." Kevin would have guessed twenty, if it were up to him, but he decided not to, seeing as the younger seemed that much more flattering. However, this stranger did not seem flattered, instead changed his apathetic glance to more of a "you don't know anything" stare, shifting his arms about in an almost restless manner. Kevin watched as his reaction time slowed, as he looked away finally, his head drooping down slightly as he looked past the table, and off to the side. A few minutes more and it seemed like he had forgotten the question, or maybe just not heard Kevin-
"I don't age." He seemed uncomfortable with the topic, but closed it out anyway. His eyes stared a straight line back into the wall, and Kevin turned to look as if there was something actually there. Only a single window in the wall, blinded just as the other windows, with little bits of light seeping through on the sides. Ordinary. Nothing to pay any mind to. Kevin's eyes turned back to see his capturer was no longer there. Panic raced through his head, wondering where he went. Was he going crazy? He was talking to flesh and blood, wasn't he? Turning to the left, Kevin's eyes frantically scanned the room, a fearful mask shrouding his mental face, his eyes peering deep into the darkened room he had come from. He opened his mouth to speak, to ask for the man that had taken him here, unable to find him with his eyes.
"What is it you want?" He was cut off quickly enough, and pinpointed the location, back at the couch. He could see his face now, through the darkness as he leaned back over the arm of the couch, looking at Kevin upsidedown, his hair draping straight down to clear out the view of his face. Maybe he wasn't so young. Although Kevin found it hard to believe he could trick himself out of aging like he said he had, he could see now that his face looked more like he was residing in the mid-twenties rather than the teens. Kevin's eyes squinted, trying to make a good mental note of how old this guy appeared to be.
"I used--" Kevin started, ready to spill the beans about the russians and his experiments, the cancer research, the development, the vial, everything that needed to be told to the stranger. He was bought by now, bought by the way the Engel had ripped bullets from his flesh and stitched them so neatly, bought by the way the Engel made a silent trip so quickly when his eyes were turned, bought and cast away by the way his eyes stared and the peeling look he gave. He had to spill it all: who knew what this guy would do with him if he hadn't.
"I know. I read your files." He was cut off, and the Engel seemed disinterested. His tone of voice traveled it far, and Kevin paused, looking at him strangely. He read his files? Did he work for the government? Did he have information on all the strange and weird experiments of Dr. Shrapnel? He couldn't have. He had a nice apartment, but he couldn't even feed himself. The government took care of its own much better than that. He must have suggested the papers-- The papers! He had forgotten. He had dropped them all back when that gunner unloaded on him. Who had them now? The Engel? Even if he had read those files, there was nothing detailing the russians, the experiments, none of it. Something seemed fishy.
"That wasn't in my files." Kevin responded, slowly, cautiously, treading onto strangely webbed ground. The man stirred again, his eyes looking up to the ceiling rather than towards his company. Maybe he had raided his apartment...? Of course, he had forgotten all about his apartment. The russians must have known where that was by now, if they knew where to find him in this city. It seemed like he constantly had someone on his back, calling up the russian government and describing where, exactly, Kevin was. The infamous Dr. Shrapnel; they needed him alive. They must be getting desperate to try a drive-by.
"Not those files. These ones." A cryptic note from the stranger, and he pointed to his head, tapping it lightly, but still seeming disinterested in the topic of interest, as if he had heard it before a thousand times over, like a worn out movie he was sick of seeing. Kevin's confusion exploded again, his twisting words strange and new to him, instilling a chaos in the way he didn't understand, but also inviting and inciting at the same time. It seemed a clever way to dance around questions anyway.
"Then you know what I want." Kevin was catching on, or, at least he thought he was. If this man could be clever, he could be quite clever right back. He could dance around each statement just as easily, if the need arose. It seemed like a simple game: Azrael was the cat, Kevin was the pray, and he was just being played with before he could be devoured. It was a simple enough concept, but one he could try his best to avoid.
"Say it"
Say what? Say what he wanted, or what he needed? Again it was danced around, again nothing was stated directly, and it was agitating, but Kevin would not let it show. He would not let this man have the satisfaction of knowing he had thoroughly annoyed him. Not yet, anyway, not unless he became so riled he would be screaming and kicking his way out the door. There was hesitation on his part, and the young one seemed to wait, patiently, for an answer. He had to think of something to tell him... What did he want? He already owed this man greatly, even if he wouldn't admit it, he knew somewhere in the back of his head it was true, for saving his life. What was he supposed to ask of him now? To help him? To keep him safe from the russians? To ask for such a drawn out deed like that? It seemed unfair, now that he was face to face with who he was looking for, utterly unfair of Kevin to ask such a thing of him.
His eyes had left Kevin, and turned back away towards the ceiling, as if not expecting any sort of an answer now that he had taken so long. It seemed his time was up, but he could think of something much more simple. The man was clever, unfooled, and whimsical, radiating some sort of strange aura of trust. The longer Kevin sat with him, the less strange he seemed, as if maybe this was a long lost friend from first grade, or someone he had known in a past life. He was just a man; one with a house that was well kept, so well kept that he hadn't the time or the money to feed himself, just a man that knew a few things, knew a few people, knew what to say, how to say it, knew the counterintelligence like the back of his hand. Something about him Kevin was drawn to, something about him sparked up Kevin's curiosity, made him forget what he was running from to look at this different person and question him.
"Azrael?" The name sounded foreign on his lips, like he wasn't allowed to say it, as if saying it would be a curse, would be a sin against the heavens to utter his name. He responded, however, by cocking his head back and turning his eyes back onto the intruder in his apartment. He waited, waited for what it was Kevin had to say, and Kevin tried to spit it out, feeling guilty for even thinking he should ask.
"Can I... I mean, is it okay if I stay here for tonight"
Azrael's eyes seemed to think for a moment, studying him, looking him up and down, stripping his skin from his flesh and peeling away all the fatty layers, all the strands of muscle, pulling his very soul from every little cell. It gave him chills, the way he stared, the way his eyes focused, and he imagined touching the silver in his eyes, only to feel it as cold as a metal pole outside during the winter. How cold, empty... Apathetic. No feeling at all.
"Only if you stop bleeding on my floor"
Kevin's surprise rose up in his throat, and he turned, thrusting himself to the left to find he was bleeding, through one of the bandages and undoubtedly through ripped stitches and torn flesh, and Kevin's fingers touched it, watched where it ran onto the chair, fell down the side and followed the leg onto the linoleum. The extraordinary thing, though, was the fact that the ripped wound had been turned away from the Engel, and as Kevin looked back to question this fact, the angles, how he had known, it seemed he was pensive in his own thoughts, his eyes closed, his head cocked back.
And all he had to do was ask.
Kevin woke with a jolt, after his arm had worked its way under the pillow and found a large absence of what should have been there. His gun... Where was it? He wearily jerked upright, sending his head in a filthy spinning frenzy. It was only then that he remembered where he was. The couch, the dark... It must've been around two AM. He swung himself to look towards the kitchen... No one. Where was the strange one? His heart and mind raced, unable to find where his captor had disappeared. He knew he must have been sleeping, like any normal man, but part of him wanted to check, his eyes staring at that closed door to his right, on the far wall. It seemed so much more dark in the night, like trying to tell him to stay out.
Kevin shifted to look at it. It didn't budge. He wanted to go in, just to check, just to make sure, but he also wanted to turn around, despite the sinking urge not to. What would he find? The tall man standing behind him, ready to rip and tear? Slowly, he turned his head, and noticed, within the dark pitch black shadows of the cloudy night, that burning ember, moving slightly, brightening and then fading out just as quick.
"Why are you laying on the floor?" Kevin asked, quite loudly, unaware of how loud his voice would sound in the absolute silence. He hushed himself, quieting down into a mere whisper.
He remained silent, however, quiet and solemn, that little ember pausing to flicker before it continued its swaying motion. Kevin watched, almost awestruck by the fluid movements. What a strange man, lying on the floor when he had paid for a bed. Kevin hated cigarettes, hated that musty, smokey smell, the way it seeped into skin and reeked no matter how hard you tried to get rid of it. He had been too scared out of his mind earlier to even notice that smell, but more than ever it pushed its way into his nostrils.
"You smoke a lot, don't you?" He asked, whispering his quiet words into what seemed like a void it became lost in. The ember just continued to sway, one drag after the next, no pause, no stop, and no reply. Kevin had felt frustrated before, when he had played these games, when he hadn't replied. Now it didn't seem so bad, as if he had realized the questions he was asking were pointless; that the answers were already there.
The ember stopped, and abruptly shut itself out, making his distinction between where the Engel was and wasn't disintegrate. He could feel a little bit of fear wrench up in his side, enough to tell him not to look, to turn away. He did, turning about to settle himself back onto the couch. It was quite and irrational fear, one that told him he was being snuck up on. It was illogical, however, due to the fact that Kevin couldn't see him, and, although he had a better idea of the apartment, that meant the stranger could not see Kevin either. Kevin's hands gripped into the musty pillows, feeling like a child who was afraid of the bogeyman, or a monster under his bed. He could feel himself sweating fear, just permeating it, it enveloping his absolutely. He could feel it growing, running cold shivers up his spine as it expanded.
"Why are you afraid?" Came that soft voice, perfect for the silence of the room, adapted and quiet, like a whisper carried on the wind. Kevin shifted again, turning, lifting his head. How close was he that he could tell he was sweating, breathing, his heart straining to pump faster. He looked towards the kitchen, where light seemed to come in from. Nothing. He would play it off as nothing. As a bad dream, yes, a nightmare, who wouldn't believe that?
"Nightmare." He said simply, his eyes turned towards the kitchen and its comforting light. His fear dropped, thinking, he's just a man, nothing extraordinary, nothing he couldn't fight back against, or lie to, or feed false statements or any of that. Just a man, just like the others in the lab, or the mobsters who tried to claim him as theirs.
"Liar." Was the simple reply, and Kevin's heart jumped. It fluttered, staring, trying not to blurt out what he thought was true but he knew wasn't. He wasn't a man. He couldn't have been just one of those men. He wasn't one he could lie to or feed conversational topics like "nice weather we're having." He was something different, something strange, something curious.
It was then that he heard a soft noise, chinking and clinging. He sat up again, tossing his head to the side to look blankly into the darkness. His mouth opened to speak, but nothing came out. It was covered, by a cold and abrupt hand, and that haunting whisper filled his ears.
"Hold onto this." And then he felt something cold in his hand, something hard, metal, and it soon raised along with his hand into light. It was a gun, shimmering soft in a silver tone, but this did not explain the noise. He could barely make out Azrael's form now, standing in front of him. Past that, he noticed a silhouette in the kitchen, a burly man holding a gun with a long snout. Kevin's fear had jumped ten fold. It was the russians. How did they find him? Azrael said they thought he was dead?
Just as quickly as he saw the lurking figure, he saw the Engel's figure drifting into the light. He moved, silhouetted, but his footsteps were strangely silent, his hands raised and poised like claws, but he was unarmed. How would an unarmed man defend himself against an armed one? Swiftly, he could see, clutching the gun close, the large henchman turn, and Azrael's figure descend inward, disappearing into the back silhouette of the burly man. The big man moved a little, reaching out an arm, and flicking on a light switch. Light exploded in Kevin's eyes, and made it hard to follow what happened next. It had seemed Azrael had jumped him, reached his hand straight into his chest from the back, his hand disappearing inside flesh, and wrenching out with a thick sickly crack and outward pointing rib. The man's gun dropped sharply, and he tried to scream, but it became muffled as Azrael's arm snaked about his face. Kevin felt sick, felt vomit rise in his throat, quickly slapping his hand over his mouth and turning away, but he could still hear whispering. It went slow, syllables fading into each other, almost like a prayer.
Then, another sickly crack ripped through the quiet air, but the whispering did not cease. The man screamed in his throat, but that became cut off just as fast. A third crack, and Kevin tried to swallow, fighting the urge to become sick, but he looked back, the burly man now having three awkwardly bent and broken ribs jutting out through his clothing, bloodied and red, Azrael whispering into his ear as he bled all over the linoleum floor, red splashing up onto white. Kevin stared, watched helplessly as he saw the Engel's fist plummet into the deep hole he had created, and twist. Kevin could not turn his eyes away, only clutched harder onto his gun. The burly man slipped, his knees going weak, and Azrael caught him, laid him down softly, turned only to wipe his hands on the man's suit jacket.
He picked up something off of the floor, and got up again, beginning towards Kevin and the couch. Quickly, Kevin raised the gun against the monster, the thing he ha just seen slash around inside another man's flesh. He fired once, wincing his eyes shut, hoping to hell that he hit something, something painful and vital. When he had opened his eyes, he heard a sigh, one that was hopefully the last breath, but still saw the figure before him. His fingers went to pull the trigger again, but the gun was forcefully pulled away, those large stone hands coming down to grasp the metal and rip it away. It was turned back on him, up to his eyes, right where he could see down the barrel, how dark and dreary it was.
"You wouldn't like it much if I shot you." He heard that voice say, and the gun was dropped. Kevin could see now, he had one gun in each hand, the silver one, and the black one that the burly man had carried in. Kevin's eyes panned upwards, towards the man that stood before him, and in the fainted light, he could see he had shot him, right in the gut, where it stained dark red all over his white shirt. Kevin gawked. The man was impervious to pain! The Engel began away, his walk moving him to turn around the couch and drop the two guns onto a table behind the couch. Kevin's eyes stared, gaped after the man who was bleeding all over his own carpet without a second thought towards it. Inhumane, that's what this guy was, so strong he could break bones, penetrate flesh like a newly sharpened steak knife. He watched him stride back into the kitchen, his steps quite nonchalant despite how he had just maimed an intruder, and leaned beside the body.
Was the man dead? Kevin couldn't tell from where he was. He wondered if the man was just passed out from pain, maybe still breathing, vulnerable to what ever else that sick man wanted to try. The Engel crouched down beside the man, seeming to inspect him, moving through his pockets quickly, pulling out a wallet that most likely detailed the man's work and family, what he once had to live for. Carelessly, Azrael tossed it aside, up onto the kitchen table before he grabbed onto an ankle of the man's, and lifted it up, up, up further until he was on his feet, the man slung upside down over his back. It was amazing how this man could move, his guts and insides ripped apart by that bullet, still bleeding, his hands red with someone else's blood, but able to lift up this intruder so easily it made it look like the burly man was a newborn baby.
Kevin watched him go, stared after him as he paced in back of the couch, moving quickly with that large and probably heavy man on his back, straight towards the ominous door, swinging it open to disappear inside, slamming it shut behind him. Nothing came out of that door, and Kevin had to gape at it for a moment, waiting for something to fly out and choke him to death, or someone to come in and shoot him, or something... Something other than that hanging sensation for some sort of resolution.
But there was nothing. Kevin had to turn himself around, to tuck himself deep inside the pillows, staring at that light in the kitchen, that mess of red blood all over the place, smelling that hard smell of cigarette smoke and the blow back metal shard smell on his hands. He dug his eyes and face deep into the pillows, replaying the incident, again, again, again, again. It would not leave his head, not now, not ever, and definitely not for him to get a decent night's sleep.