I waited patiently in the boarded up house across from the school where Thomas went. It had taken me not even two hours the night before to find Cori's little messenger and set up a meeting time with Cori for a "business deal". Ictus's son was probably going to skip his class again, possibly torment another human child in the process. Thomas was spared because he was my messenger. Corbinianus would see me today for the first time. Well, directly see me. The last time the half demon had seen me was when he had been six years old, and he only had seen my eyes. He avoided me at all costs since then, whenever he heard his father say my name.

I fixed my red vest again. I was growing irritated at the lateness of the half demon. Then again, what did I expect? Cori would not hurry for a dark skinned Israelite, even if it was a woman. I sensed someone enter the house through the basement and I put on the mask of boredom. I crossed my legs and inspected my gloves.

A chocolate skinned boy popped in and looked me over once. I did not even look up at him when I said bluntly, "Didn't anyone ever teach your boss how to be on time? Waiting makes my skin crawl."

The black human leaned in the doorway and shook his oversized head. "Sweetheart, you lucky he's even seeing you. That mathafucka hates you Arabs."

I smirked. "Then it's a good thing that my hair is light brown instead of black. Is he ready to see me?"

The teenage human smirked and looked me over again. "Yea. Damn girl, anyone tell you that chu could be a model?"

I rolled my eyes as I got up to follow him. "Yes, and that pick up line didn't work the first million times I heard it."

The boy chuckled and undressed me with his eyes. I wonder how surprised he would be to see a pair of black wings where a bare back should be. He led me down through a shelter, one built during the supposed "Cold War". Before the male could open the door, I pulled and pinned him to the wall. I got awfully close to his face, and the hormonal boy started to sweat. I smiled, and slid my leg between his. "The matter between your boss and I is strictly private, and I would greatly appreciate it if privacy was given." I pressed slightly up.

The child gulped, "Sure, sweetheart. Whateva you say." I smiled and kissed his nose.


The dark-skinned male burst into the room. "The Arab is here to see you, Cori." I slid into the room. The boy who led me down bent in and whispered in my ear, "I'll see you later, baby-cakes." He then proceeded to dart out the door and shut the bomb shelter secure.

Cori was in a spinning chair, fighting on one of the game stations that Thomas often talked about. The explosions on the television erupted and the animated blood from Cori's animated gun. I do not doubt for a moment that Cori did not enjoy the war game for the same reason other boys his age enjoyed the game. Cori was very aware of death, blood, and he enjoyed the Hunt, much like his father. Thomas told me the story of the first time the Manson Family was introduced to his class. Cori had given a slow clap and laughed maliciously, saying that Charles Manson was an inspiration. I have no doubt in my mind that Cori was more demon than human.

I stood there silently, waiting for Cori to finish his sadistic pleasure. Cori paused his source of entertainment, asking, "What's your business, Arab?" I remained silent. The halfling became irritated, and spun around, "I said-" He stopped short and turned pale when he looked into my eyes. He fell off his chair, his humanly toned skin flushed to almost the tone of his father's.

I began to speak quietly, "Corbinianus, you have been Hunted." Cori scuttled back to the wall of the bomb shelter. He looked so much like his father. It made it so much easier to imagine Ictus quivering in fear of me. My shadow outstretched to him, and pulled him in. Corbinianus screamed and cried, begging to be left alone. I soon too fell into the darkness.

*atrum angelus*

We reappeared in front of Ictus's tavern. Cori's face was white and he was shaking. His blood hair was mopped to the top of his head, and he flinched every time I went near him. Strange how much fear my soulless eyes can begin to conjure. I guided him through the tavern, with the drugs he stole in my hand. I rapped on Ictus's door, and pushed Cori in.

Vereor was sitting on Ictus's lap, the demon's hand under and up her shirt. Ictus raised his eyebrows and smirked. Waiting for Vereor to slide off Ictus, I stated, "Here is your son and your 'ploy'." I threw the bag of drugs on the table in front of him. "I am afraid your son has a soft stomach, so please take pity." Cori looked at his feet, still trembling.

Ictus continued to smirk, and he stretched. "Perhaps, Sparrow. I knew I could count on you to retrieve my son in one piece." Ictus glanced at his son and laughed, "Well, more or less one piece."

I nodded and left the room. I walked back to the building that I had claimed. It was still daylight, and I did not want to attract unnecessary attention. I climbed the stairs up to my floor and froze. Someone was there. Someone unwelcome. I slipped into the shadow, and located where the "guest" was. I rose up behind him from the darkness and held a knife from the shadows to their throat. "State your business, ingrataunum, before I spill your immortal blood," I hissed.

The being in front of me froze and talked quietly in a nasally voice. "They told me you were cautious, Sparrow, but not this cautious. I bring you a message from the Crow."

I brought the knife closer. "I do not know this crow of which you speak, immortal."

The scaly skin of the intruder shifted under me. "Perhaps you would know her best as Rajani." My insides tightened.

I nonchalantly let my knife down and let the beast go. It faced me. From what I could tell, it was male. He had scaly skin, with a greenish tinge. I was not aware of a dragon living in the City of Angels.

"Forgive me, Ancient One," I said quietly with respect. "I was not aware it was you in my home, nor you were carrying a message."

The dragon huffed. Dragons were old and intimidating with their knowledge. Even when they were in their human form, like this one was, that particular immortal race demanded respect. "You may call me Ji-gakha, Dark One. Rajani-hubae has requested that I relay this message unto you." He pulled out a ball resembling a green pearl from his back and tapped it with his long fingernails. An envelope materialized from it and the ancient being handed it to me. He looked at me threateningly. "If we ever encounter again, Dark One, and you pull that trick on me, you will not have wings," he threatened in his wind-like voice. I nodded and bowed. When I rose, the ancient one was gone.

I held the envelope tenderly in my hand. I placed the envelope on the table and resumed my original post, out looking the city. I dared not to open the envelope just yet. It was dangerous to pick up anything that was a message from Rajani.

*atrum angelus*

It was a bad day for Thomas. Last night, he had been scolded by Shamira. This wasn't unusual, she did it often and it usually sent him back home wallowing in shame. Last night was different. Last night, he had been sent home almost shaking. It didn't make it any better that his apartment was empty.

He had been late to school again that morning. Thomas hated being late; his mom had always taught him to be punctual. She often would joke that's where his last name came from. Thomas Quick. Unfortunately, the name got him mostly nabbed in the Los Angeles city schools. Usually, Tom was under the protection of Cori. Protection wasn't really the right word; Cori still made sure Tom had quite a high school experience. Tom usually got nauseous and bloody when Cori took him to "hang out". Still, Cori made sure no one messed with Tom when Cori actually showed up at school.

Tom was not lucky today. Cori was gone and all Hell broke loose. So when the bell finally rang and night finally touched the Hollywood sign, Thomas was exhausted, bruised, and trying to think of ways to get away from the thoughts people put in his head. Thomas's feet started taking a life on their own.

Who cares? he thought. If Shamira's still mad at me, then she can just can suck it down. I don't want to be alone. Besides, she usually lets me sleep there if I don't have school. Tom trudged up the stairs. They seemed longer today.

She wasn't by the window like she usually was. Tom did a mental sigh of relief. Usually, when she was gone, she was getting food for Tom to eat or she was taking a flight. She would be back soon.

Tom collapsed on the couch. He wondered about the Divine Place. He had heard rumors about it from the Hunter's tavern, but considering all of the things there had never seen it, Tom still only had to use his imagination. Shamira was from there, so the rumors said, but the dark Arab refused to talk about it. He brought it up once and was met with her frightening black eyes.

Something caught his eye. Tom stood up and inspected the thing on the table. It was an envelope. It shone in the moonlight. There was a strange inscription on it, and the teenager picked it up to inspect it. The envelope looked like it was made from jade, but it felt like silk. Tom turned it around to open it.

"Do not open that envelope, Thomas." Tom jumped five feet in the air. Shamira appeared from the shadows, her dark wings folded instead of made into a tattoo.

"Geez, Shamira! You scared me to death!" he exclaimed.

Shamira took the note from his hands and put it back on the table. "Death is an over exaggeration." She glanced at Tom who was eyeing the envelope. "Leave it be."

Tom folded his arms. "Why? What's in it?"

Shamira took her usual post on the window, looking out to the city.

"A message from the one who caused your mother's death."