There's a knock at my bedroom door.
"Come in!" I shout, knowing that I can't let anyone in from this side. They need a key to enter. Venus has a problem with letting me wander these days. Then again, I've been setting souls free for the past eighteen years, so it makes sense.
A young man enters the room, only nineteen years old. Granted, he looks older than me these days. Michael forgot to mention that the necklace also stops me from aging.
I smile at the kid; I haven't seen much of him lately. He looks good, muscles are well-built. There's a nice, healthy shine to his black hair. His grey eyes sparkle with happiness. He's been outdoors a lot recently; his skin is much darker than normal.
"Hey, Lucifer. How've you been? It's been, what? A month?"
"Two," he corrects. "I've been crazy busy or I would have been by sooner. It's hard to visit, too, you know. Venus never approves. Whatever, though. So how've you been, Mom?"
"Luke, we've been over this, I'm not your mom."
"More than she ever was or ever will be. You're changing the subject. How are you?"
"Same as always; bored, tired, weak. She just had to find the damn loophole." I haven't had food or water in years. It's not torture, because the end goal is my death. It's not a murder attempt, because it can't kill me. She went around her agreements.
"Don't be. She's your mom, not your fault. So tell me, how's college life treating you? Oh, and how was your birthday?"
We make small talk, sitting on my bed. I'm glad he's happy and well. Doing the best he can anyway.
For the millionth time, he mentions the situation. "You know, I could burn your contract. Or just ask her to let you go. You know that she would agree to it, if I asked."
"She would agree to it because it gets me out of her hair. But you know my answer. I'm staying here." Michael and Ian didn't die for nothing.
He sighs. "I just wish there was something that I could do. I hate knowing you're trapped here, with her. She really hates you."
"Yeah. Yeah, she does. And I totally deserve it, so don't worry about it. It's my problem."
Another sigh, but like always, he drops the subject. He knows that he won't get anywhere, but I can't say that I blame him for trying. More small talk, his grades are great and he's in the honors college. He has the hugest crush on some human girl in his Calc III class. A picture on his phone shows me that she's pretty much as nerdy as telling me she's in Calc III implies. The cute kind of nerdy, a little awkward but not ugly. Her name is Zoey and she sounds nice. I'm glad to know he doesn't have his parents' tastes. (Shockingly, they're still together. But I suppose having a kid is a bit of a bonding experience.)
A weird scratching sound at the door interrupts our conversation. As if knowing what it is, Luke sighs in annoyance and mutters something to the effect of, 'Gosh dangit,' before going and opening the door. The scrawniest little white cat ever enters the room, acting as if its presence just makes the world ten times better. The furball jumps onto my bed and curls up into a ball.
"That…thing…has been following me for a month now. I can't make her go away, no matter what I do. She doesn't have any tags, either. Just a name written on the collar and this random charm."
Curious, I scoop her into my arms to look at the charm. She opens to hazel eyes to give me a dirty look for interrupting her sleep. Of course, she barges into my room and I'm the bad guy for waking her up. Cats…
The name on the collar causes my heart to skip a beat and a look at the charm creates the same result. Bunny. Along with a crane charm hanging from the hook where the tag should be. I find the clip and take the collar off. There's writing on the inside.
A gift. She'll find you sooner or later. Couldn't believe she was still alive. Enjoy the company. -Ian.
I smile. Frankly, I can't believe she's still alive either. I slip the collar back on so she'll stay that way and place her into my lap, petting her. She purrs until she falls asleep.
"Haven't seen that smile in quite sometime," my 'son' observes.
"Let's just say you found my cat and I'm glad to have her back."
"How will you feed her? And where is she going to…uh…do her business?"
I pull out the necklace and remind him of the charm, pointing to her matching one. "She doesn't need food; it's a luxury not a necessity. And if nothing goes in, nothing comes out. I'm not worried. Thanks for getting her here."
"Glad I could do something for you."
I roll my eyes at his tone. "I choose to be here, Luke. I think you forget that."
"As someone who couldn't wait to leave, it's a difficult thing to remember." His phone pings! and he pulls it out to look at it. "Crap. I have a meeting in an hour. I have to go; I'm sorry. I promise I'll be back soon."
He looks like he feels super guilty. "No worries. I'll see you soon."
"Love you, Mom," he says, giving me a quick hug and rushing out the door.
"Love you, too," I response, seconds before the door is shut. He grew up too fast, I swear. But he's a smart kid and I'm glad he's so busy. He has a life and that's wonderful to hear.
I stare at the cat in my lap. I swear, this cat is at least twenty five years old. "You are one lucky furball."
As if to acknowledge that statement (and agree with it), she starts purring again. I pick her up and move her so that she's resting on my stomach as I lie down. (I receive another dirty look for doing so.)
"I missed you, Bunny. I'll have to figure out how to thank Ian."
Michael hasn't bothered to wear a shirt in my dreams in a long time. In fact, it was just in that one dream that he wore one, on the night that he died. Granted, there's a reason for that…
I never get over how good he looks. Tan skin and well built. He's hot. But what really takes my breath away is the wings. I think I understand why he felt incomplete without him. They're part of him, meant to be there. Much like his dad and sister, his wings match his hair. They look kind of like raven feathers, a glossy black with a bluish tint. He has a four foot wingspan. They're remarkable; I wish I could have seen them during his lifetime.
I shake my head at his presence.
"Won't you just take the offer?" The wings aren't for show. They're quite real. He was offered a second chance at life. Become an angel again; not a half-breed this time, but a full blooded angel created in the normal way.
"I won't leave you alone. You leave the house and I'll become an angel. We could have a happily ever after, Cassie." He means it, too. This isn't the first time he's made this proposal either. His gorgeous green eyes are pleading and as always, it breaks my heart.
"Take the offer."
"Leave the house."
"Then neither can I. If I do this, I will never see you again. I would rather not live at all than live knowing that."
I sigh. "Fine. Have you talked to Ian recently?"
"Yeah. He checked up on my family for me. Gabe's a grandfather. I can't believe it. That makes me a great-uncle. Or it would…"
"Take the offer! Then you can go see your family."
He shakes his head. "My family is immortal. I can stick around here for a while. They'll still be there."
"But I won't, Michael. I will not leave this house. I'm sorry."
"Don't be." He pulls me into his arms, closing the gap between us, and kisses me. It's an innocent kiss on the forehead. "I love you. And I love that about you. You're always thinking about everyone else and it's great. I just wish you would think about yourself."
"I know. I wish I would, too." He feels so real. That's a fact that I just don't seem to understand. But I'm most definitely grateful. It's wonderful. I take advantage of the feeling and kiss him, straight on the lips. I miss lying beside him on my bed.
We break the kiss. He asks about Lucifer, always does. At least today I can actually give an update. I bring the subject back to Ian, asking Michael to thank him. I would do it myself, but I can't. Unlike Michael, when Ian got offered the option of becoming an angel, he took it. He said goodbye to me, wished me the best of luck, and I haven't seen him since. The fact that he found Bunny tells me that he's out and about. (And apparently, in my old neighborhood. I only took him there once, but we did see my furball. I guess he remembered.)
Michael agrees, but brings up the current situation again.
"There has to be a compromise."
I pause. "Fine. I'll give you one. If Venus dies, and somehow I survive such an occurrence, I will have Luke burn my contract. That's all you're going to get."
"It's not much, but I'll take it."
I kiss him again. "Good. So will you take a certain other offer?"
"Not unless a miracle happens, Venus drops dead, and you're freed."
"Michael…" I meet his eyes. "Take the offer. I'm the reason you're dead, don't make me the reason you turn down a second chance. I love you and I hate myself because I know that I'm holding you here, in this damn limbo. If you won't take the offer for yourself, do it for me. Move on. I'm not going anywhere; somehow, someday, you'll find me again."
"Cassie…" I can tell how conflicted he is. Asking him for this kills me. The reason I haven't tried before is because I've been selfish. I didn't want to let him go. Especially once Lucifer moved out, but I can't hold onto him. I've told him to go before, but I've never meant it. Today, I don't think I could mean it more.
He sighs. "I will see you again."
I nod. There's always death, if nothing else. I'll be sure to visit him.
"God, I love you," he whispers.
I kiss him, knowing it will be the last time. Also knowing that the true last time was over eighteen years ago. "I love you, too. Goodbye."
I end the dream this time. I'm not sure how, other than that I wanted to. I don't want to hear him say goodbye.
I wake up. Bunny is lying on my head. I push her off and sit up, looking over at the door. I grab the knife from the closet and bust the lock, again. It's time to go free some more people.
And so we've reached the end. Bittersweet, of course. I like it though. Hope everyone enjoyed!