Disclaimer: Angel and Demon, plot and characters, are trademarked by me. All similarities to people (living or dead), places, and events, are purely coincidental.

Halo: Angel and Demon

Chapter: 2/ Black Feather

Alicia did not like complications.

At age thirty-five, Alicia Smith did not believe that she would have anything to do with raising children. Outside of the children belonging to friends and family, she did not expect to even deal with children, but quite unexpectedly, that was what happened to her. No miracle birth blessed her though. Rather the children—her 'children'—just seemed to show up when they needed her. Lou had shown up on her doorstep looking lost and confused and she ran across Lillian in an alley, trying to survive from whatever scraps she could find from a dumpster. She had found them a few years apart and nothing about them was even remotely related in the way siblings were. Their only similarities were that they both had odd, stylized transformations that were eerily akin to an angel and a demon from movies and shows she had seen.

Except that they don't really act like those kinds of things, she commiserated, looking at the two as they busied themselves with their homework. How long has it been now? Eight years since I found Louis standing outside, looking dazed. Three years since I found Lillian. They're not 'normal' children in any sense of the word, but some days I could almost think so.

Such was the case with today as a matter of fact. Watching them now she could almost forget about their, in a mild way to put it, 'eccentricities'. Honestly, Alicia had no idea how she had managed to gather them under her roof, or why she hadn't told anyone about their oddities. She knew a fair amount of people, some of whom worked in the news business, who would sell their souls for the public attention this would garner them. Children being carried away by balloons? That had nothing on these two. Scientists and religious groups would be all over them, each for their own reasons. Scientists to see how they were what they were, and as far as the religiosity went, certainly the end-of-times preaching would be finding even stronger voices than what the latest doomsday calendars were using now.

But then, she did not much relish the idea of having her life exposed to the public for it to scrutinize.

As noted, Alicia did not like complications, though that in itself was an irony considering the state of her affairs. In spite of Louis and Lillian, she was a normal person, and had been before she met them. Pretty, but in a plain sort of way that did not often draw attention. She had average tastes and interests, and did nothing extraordinary. For her, an exciting day was a day off work and reading a good book. Even her surname could be considered 'normal', and even though she wasn't sure anymore, she remembered a poll that placed it as the most common surname in the continental United States. She would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that her life was meant to be average and without excitement.

Every so often though, Alicia found herself wondering just how normal could be defined. From everything she read and saw, normal meant not standing out in the crowd, and her dictionary defined the adjective as conforming to a standard type. During such times, she believed that she was too biased to make any call about her normalcy. For some people, being too close to something often meant that they didn't recognize it even when it bit them in the face. Regardless of whether she was normal or not, she did know one thing. She was living a life that stood in complete contradiction of normalcy.

Just where did it go wrong? She thought sarcastically. Well, it wasn't as though she could complain. Her life was more interesting, though it certainly became chaotic with the new additions, and she still maintained her normalcy in the end.

All things considered, I think that we all made out in this. They got a good roof over their head, and I got some company. As long as they keep a low profile, life will stay that way.

And that much Alicia knew that they desired, even if it could be frustrating for them at times.

"Oh." Alicia snapped her fingers as realization struck her. "I forgot to check the mail. Keep working there you two, I'll be right back."

The two children, both of whom were just starting their teens, nodded and continued with their work. Smiling in contentment, Alicia stepped out of the apartment, shutting it behind her and heading downstairs to the mailroom.

"Hey 'Licia," called a balding, rotund man exiting the elevator at the end of the hall.

"Tom," she greeted cheerfully. "I was just about to come and see you."

Thomas Norton was the man in charge of her apartment building. He was a fairly pleasant man. He was not the easiest to be around if you got on his bad side, but he was not irreproachable and he treated everyone fairly. The two of them got along well, thanks in part to the fact that she always turned in her rent on time.

"I figured, but I wanted to make sure. You've been forgetful of your mail before you know."

Not forgetful, thought Alicia, chuckling mentally. I just didn't want to have to think about it.

She took the mail and thanked her landlord. Returning to her apartment she dropped it on the kitchen counter and began sorting through it. So far it looked to be more of the same. Credit card bills, an ad for a credit card telling her that she was preapproved, a single clothing magazine, an offer for DVD rental… It looked like nothing spectacular came in today.

Louis' astronomy magazine didn't come in today. He's going to be disappointed. Well, like the Rudolf song goes, there's always tomorrow.

Alicia was coming to the end of the stack when she came to an envelope that had no markings on it. She gave it an odd look as though it had spontaneously grown a pair of heads. Her fingers felt something inside. Something that was thin and slightly curved—at least it felt that way through the envelope. Curious, she grabbed a pair of scissors from off the table and cut into the envelope.

Okay…I have to admit that I wasn't expecting this.

With just the slightest shake of the envelope, a small black feather and a note fell into her hand. Setting the feather aside she opened the envelope. A part of her wondered about what she should expect, and her thoughts turned to Louis and Lillian.

Could they have been found out?

Speculation, she realized, was preventing her from reading the note to see if such were the case.

More will follow.

Beware the Sin.

Just like the envelope, the note was unsigned, and the handwriting told her nothing about who could have written it. Then again, she didn't study to be a handwriting analyst.

Weird, she thought as she read over the note again and glanced over at the feather. 'More will follow?' 'Beware the Sin?' Who the hell wrote this crap?

As with many things in her life, Alicia felt that she would ultimately regret asking the question.