Thief: Chapter 18

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Chapter Eighteen

    Aiden and Gabriel Sr. had checked every place they could think of that Abby might be. The school, the hospital, the library--the search was eerily similar to the one they had gone through on that stormy night not so long ago.
    She hadn’t been anywhere, and Aiden couldn’t rely on a connection the way Gabe had. He was her Guardian now, yes, but it was in name only. And I couldn’t even do that right, he thought bitterly. He had failed to protect her, but he would find her. He had to.
    Gabriel walked towards the park bench where Aiden was seated, two steaming paper cups of coffee in his gloved hands. “Here,” he said, sitting down next to Aiden and offering him a cup. “you looked like you could use this.”
    Aiden took it with a grateful nod. “Thanks.”
    Gabriel hummed in acknowledgment, taking a long sip of his drink. He swallowed, and sighed, steam curling from his lips in the December air. “So,” he said, giving Aiden a sidelong glance. “she isn’t in the city. I think we can cross D.C. off our list.”
    “Only a few hundred million miles to go, then.” A wave of helpless despair washed over him, and panic rose to the surface. “Oh, and that’s if the demons didn’t just drag her down to Hades, or some other far-flung corner of Creation!” Aiden said, his tone growing increasingly agitated as he went on. “And I don’t even know where to begin, or what to do if I do somehow miraculously find her, because God only knows what’s happened to her by now! She could be trapped, or driven insane by her powers, or possessed or even--“
    “Dead?” Gabriel interjected.
    “Yes!” Aiden cried, looking at Gabriel with wide, crazed eyes. His voice dropped to barely above a whisper. “And the worst part is, I’m not even sure that’s the worst that could happen.”
    Gabriel gave him a hard look. “Are you done?”
    Aiden closed his eyes and sagged forward, his elbows resting bonelessly on his knees. He nodded, feeling utterly defeated.
    “Okay. Good.” Gabriel said, his tone curt. “Now, stop feeling sorry for yourself and do your job, General. That’s an order. Nothing matters right now except getting that girl back to safety. We do that, and everything might just work out alright. Maybe I get my son back.” He inhaled sharply, put his hand on Aiden’s slumped shoulder. “And maybe we come out on top of this whole mess. But for now, we need to focus. So, can you think of anywhere else she might have gone?”
    Aiden’s reply was cut off by the telltale flutter of wings and a soft thump of feet hitting frozen ground. He and Gabriel turned to see a woman with dark-blonde hair pulled tightly back from her hawkish features. She wore a black pants suit and a cream wool pea coat, and Aiden vaguely recognized her as one of the Warriors Farrah had summoned. “General, Archangel. I have urgent news.” Her tone was grim.
    Aiden sat up, his heart racing wildly in his chest. Something was wrong. “What is it?” he asked, unable to keep the thread of anxiety out of his voice.
    The Warrior fixed honey-coloured eyes on his. “It’s your daughter, General. She is missing. She, and the Archangels Izrafel and Michael. All three have vanished without a trace--your wife is looking for them, but she asked me to relay the message. She felt that this would be more secure than mortal communication devices, given the sensitive nature of your current mission.”
    Aiden could only stare at her in stunned silence, so it was Gabriel who thanked the woman and sent her on her way.
    She nodded and turned to leave, a pair of spotted kestrel wings unfolding on her back. She stopped and turned towards them. “Ah, and one more thing. Malakh and Rivkah have also left your son’s bedside, Archangel. No one knows where they are at the moment, but that isn’t so strange for them. Your wife wanted you to know that, and that there has been no change in your son’s condition. The Lord be with you both.” She finished, the formality of the words catching Aiden a little off guard.
    “And also with you,” he murmured in response as she flew away, quickly becoming no more than a speck in the mid-morning sky. “Fern…” he whispered, totally unsure of what to do, what to say, what to feel.
    She was gone, and so was Abby, and he had totally failed to protect them both. Two Archangels were missing too, which was bizarre on its own, and then Rivkah and Malakh…A ghost of a thought slipped past him, and Aiden furrowed his brow. “Rivkah left Gabe,” he said out loud, and Gabriel nodded hollowly.
    “No, shhh, be quiet!” Aiden hushed him, waved him down. “She left Gabe after Abby disappeared.”
    “So, why would she do that? She wanted to protect Gabe, and she would do that unless something more important happened. Abby left. And then Rivkah left.”
    Realization dawned on Gabriel’s face as the pieces fell into place. “Rivkah left because she knows where Abby is. Protecting Abby is the more important task.”
    Aiden nodded earnestly. “So if we find Rivkah,”
    “We find Abby.” Gabriel finished.
    They both clutched their rapidly cooling coffees, lost in thought for a few long moments.
    They turned to each other at the same time as the answer hit them both like twin bolts of lightning. “The cabin!!”
    Finally, Aiden thought, at least something’s going right.

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