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the imperfect game of life

the imperfect game of life

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private rp between phoenix_lynx & nations

775 readers have visited the imperfect game of life since phoenix_lynx created it.

Introduction


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the imperfect game of life


☽ a grim reaper, a guardian angel & a pair of siblings try to learn how to live ☾



phoenix_lynx ✦ nations








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X
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✦GRIM REAPER✦
lilith
phoenix_lynx



✧YOUNGER SIBLING✧
NAME
phoenix_lynx



✦GUARDIAN ANGEL✦
laila miller
nations



✧OLDER SIBLING✧
NAME
nations




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Toggle Rules

The GM of this roleplay hasn't created any rules! You can do whatever you like!

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 2 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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#, as written by nations
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laila & alejandro
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #003B32
thought - #C68174 | thought - 7CBDC9




The day was hot, even for a summer Floridian day. The players were out on the field, with only a few seconds left before the game ended.

Alejandro could feel the sun on his back and quickly wiped away the sweat from his eyes before beginning to jog across the field, his eyes following the movement of the ball as white and red shirts blurred together, fighting for control. Since the end of the first half, he had felt himself struggling to breathe. However, with the game currently 0-1 against them, Alejandro had decided to not say anything, attributing it to the weather and concluding that the rest of the players must be feeling the say way.

The last three weeks had taken a toll on Alejandro as he prepared for class and championship finals. He had relied on several all-nighters and caffeine tablets to get him through them. With exams over, there was only one thing left, and the only thing standing between now and victory was one goal. The team had to at least tie or else they would lose the whole championship. With victory so close, it wasn't even an option for him to consider failure.

"Over here!" Alejandro called out.

One of his teammates got control of the ball and kicked it in his direction. Seeing an opportunity, Alejandro moved to get control of the ball. As soon as his feet made contact, he began to run full speed. Part of the crowd on the bleachers cheered, their white jerseys and accessories glaring under the sun.

Alejandro maneuvered around one of the opposing team players. As another opposing player came in front of him, he kicked the ball over to one of his teammates and, when the coast was clear again, received it. Ahead, he saw the short stretch left, the goal area waiting for him, unprotected aside from the goalie. He felt blood rushing to his ears. He loved the feeling of the grass below him, the soccer ball in his control, and the moments right before a goal. He had to score. There was simply no other option and he was already so close.

His feet skillfully moving the soccer ball, the people in the background cheered, and the heat rose from the ground. As Alejandro felt the usual rush, his vision began to look cloudy and he felt a loss of balance. He tripped and fell, making hard contact with the ground, the ball moving out of the field.

His team players screamed as the whistle was blown. The opposing team began to cheer and part of the bleaches went wild, blowing horns and jumping.

At first, no one worried much about Alejandro, who was not moving, his teammates shaking their heads. Two of them went up to help him get up, knowing how he got after losing and assuming that he was just upset.

"Man, what the heck happened?" One of his teammates said.

"Excuse me!"

A young woman pushed past them, moving to Alejandro's side and dropping to her knees. Her eyes were wide as she placed two fingers against his neck, trying to get a hold of his pulse. What's happening?

Laila couldn't understand. One minute, he had been fine and the next, the state of his soul had changed.

"Alejandro?" Her voice was silvery but there was clear worry in her tone.

"Hey, you can't-"

"He's dying!" She screamed, looking over her shoulder, "Get someone!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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L I L I T H

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Dialogue colour - #8566aa
Thought colour - #8ec6c5
outfit


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Lilith could feel eyes on her as she walked from the bleachers to the sidelines of the field. It was no surprise to her since humans would always stare at her as she walked by, usually, it was due to the cold and almost chilling aura she admitted but this time it was because of her outfit. She was dressed head to toe in all black with gold accessories to finish the look and a pair of expensive-looking sunglasses perched on her nose. In fact, everything about her looked expensive and not at all appropriate for the weather which seemed quite unfitting at a college soccer match. However, she didn't feel the effects of the hot Floridan day at all and always remained cold to the touch.

But here she was regardless, even though she didn't want to be. Looking at her watch she brought the cigarette she was carrying to her lips and exhaled much to her onlooker's dismay. A few bothered voices from behind her shouted out about her behaviour and with a smile, she blew the smoke upwards without care.

Her gaze went back to her case, Alejandro who she noticed was already feeling the effects of dying kicking in. This isn't fun at all she thought to herself. Just as she thought that however, Alejandro collapsed onto the grass and seemed to be passed out. Let's hope his soul is more interesting than this place.

As she made her way towards the centre of the field, her eyes fell upon a black-haired female, immediately sensing that she wasn't human, what is an angel doing here? Lilith slipped past the other players who seemed to have tensed automatically at her presence. She looked down at the Angel with a sigh exclaimed nonchalantly, "Of course he's dying, it's his time to go."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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#, as written by nations
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #8566aa
thought - #C68174 | thought - #8ec6c5




Laila turned Alejandro around so that he had his back to the grass. Her hands shook as she gently touched his cheeks, her warm fingers feeling the soft stubble that was starting to grow.

Please don't die on me, Laila thought. Images from years ago flashed in her mind and she instinctively pulled her hands back. Around her, she felt the atmosphere grow cold and the hair on her human arms rose. What was a reaper doing here? She hadn’t been notified and, if it was true, it didn’t make sense because she wouldn’t be given a case that required more time.

Laila stood up and turned around as soon as she heard the voice. She saw Lilith, her eyes shifting briefly to the field paramedics that were running towards them.

It took a second for the words to sink in but, once they did, Laila’s fingers tightened into a knot.

"He is under the custody of Guardians and I have not received a notification that says otherwise," Laila said, "You cannot take him."

Lilith removed her sunglasses and laughed at Laila, under the custody of Guardians, what a joke.

She looked over at the field paramedics and rolled her eyes in exasperation. As much as Lilith loved a dramatic death, she had a time-sensitive job to finish so she could finally take her much deserved leave of absence.

"Listen here honey," she began, trying not to comment on how sickly sweet she smelt, "I have the paperwork right here for one Alejandro Walker, death by heart attack in.." she looked back at her watch, "right about" and looked back at Alejandro's body, "now." As she watched Laila seemingly clutch Alejandro's body for dear life, she waited not so patiently for his soul.

Laila frowned as she saw the papers flashing in front of her, the familiar logo of the Reapers in clear sight. She can't be serious, Laila thought, reaching out and taking the paper.

Behind them, the paramedics were administering to Alejandro and, around them, the teammates were being pushed back so that they did not come too close. Only Laila and Lilith were left alone amongst this chaos; although the humans could see them, their human brains unconsciously ignored them, knowing better than to intervene. It was as if they were just a fog in their brains, only being seen when needed.

Her eyes quickly ran over the words, written in the Reapers’ own language.

"Heart attack!" One of the paramedics exclaimed, pulling out a defibrillator from the bag.

"I won’t let you take him," Laila said defiantly, ripping up the papers. "His soul isn’t meant for purgatory." She turned around, watching as Alejandro’s soul rose from his body. Before it could go too far, she moved, her feet leaving the ground in one graceful step, and she took a hold of his hand. All she needed was to put it back into his body

Lilith was trying extra hard to not get angry with the whole situation, but it was getting hard not to. She didn’t do well around humans much less Angels who always seemed to think they were somewhat superior even if they didn’t directly say so.

As she watched Laila rip up the papers, she scoffed. Who did she think she was? Lilith was all for going against authority and the rules but not when it meant she had to go through extra hassle. This was not worth it at all.

”Wow, look at you ripping up the paperwork like a rebel,” the corner of her lips twitched upwards, ”you must be having such a great time trying to be ‘not like the other Angels’ right?”

Glancing back at Alejandro’s body, she noticed his soul had already begun to rise. Taking a step forward towards it, she watched in further irritation as Laila had grabbed onto his hand, presumably trying to put it back into his body. This really isn’t worth my time, she thought.

With a sigh, she reached out and grabbed onto Alejandro’s other hand and looked back at Laila, ”This isn’t the time nor place for you to try and insert yourself where you aren’t obviously needed,”, she took a step towards her, ”get over yourself and whatever complex you have, the paperwork showed you everything…your department must have screwed up with the message…” releasing yet another chuckle she added, ”you Angels aren’t as perfect as you like to pretend you are.”

Laila frowned as Lilith took Alejandro’s other hand.

No wonder humans hate you, Laila thought, listening to Lilith's insults and brushing them aside, and pulled harder.

This was what she should’ve done for Rebecca, fought for her when the Reapers came to take her soul. Too soon, ripping the child from her arms, just as Laila was finishing her work.

"I don’t take orders from Reapers," she replied through gritted teeth. Laila knew that pulling neither would go anywhere, but she needed a moment to think.

Her first instinct was to fight. Laila had a lot of experience with physical and spiritual warfare and she was not afraid, but she had not been trained to fight Reapers. It just wasn’t something that ever happened, the legal or HR departments usually handled any issues, not the Angels and Reapers on the field.

So, Laila decided to try and negotiate with the Reaper. If all else failed, she could take out her weapons.

"Listen, he just needs a little more time here on earth," Laila said, still pulling but with less force, "If he gets out of purgatory, it’s much less paperwork for you. Plus, it'll give you some time off, report some complications. I’ll go find you once my case is completed."

Lilith wasn’t in the mood to interact with an Angel, working as a Reaper meant that she would avoid situations like these whilst being able to handle her cases alone and without much disturbance.

”As much as you nor I take orders from each other’s departments, you as an employee must know that things like Death happen with precision and careful management, otherwise the business of Death would be a disorganised mess.”

The thing was, although Lilith was completely okay with Death and handled it as if it was just another day in the office, not everyone was like this. Hell, most of her fellow Reapers were still traumatised by certain cases and weren’t as okay with Death as she was. Now compare that to an Angel, especially a Guardian then this must be all too much for them. Perhaps a normal Reaper would feel sorry or even feel sympathetic towards Laila for being muddled up in this situation, but Lilith wasn’t any normal being.

”Listen, I understand Death must suck but everyone has a time they have to go, and sometimes it just isn’t fair but Death isn’t fair,” she shrugged, ”It’s the Human cycle.” Lilith took another step forward, her grip tightening but now she was standing right up to Laila, her heels giving her extra height for an already tall, intimating looking individual.

Leaning in she tucked a piece of Laila’s hair which had fallen onto her face and smiled, ”You need to realise, I can’t leave this human without taking his soul, so Miss ‘I – can’t – swallow – my – pride Angel, what am I getting out of this?”

Logically, Laila understood the need for Death and believed that, in some cases, it even came too late. However, she also believed that, if Death had half the empathy as Angels, there wouldn’t be millions of people dying every human year who had a chance at a better life or a chance to change with the help of institutions such as the Guardians, had Death not come too early.

Laila watched as Lilith stepped up to her. The Reaper’s dark outfit contrasted Laila’s simple white dress. Laila wasn’t intimidated by her presence, especially not when she had made up her mind.

However, she was taken back when Lilith moved her hair. Laila felt her cold fingers brushing against her own warm skin, feeling their energies exchanging for just a moment before disconnected once again.

She still had a tight grip on Alejandro’s hand, not wanting to risk Lilith running away. Lilith’s last question at least told Laila that there was something she could or or say to help Alejandro.

"This isn’t about pride," Laila said with a small sigh. If Laila had felt truth behind the insult, perhaps it would’ve hurt, but she was determined. "It’s about giving a soul passage into a better afterlife, which should matter, even to Reapers, as indifferent as you all like to pretend to be. We’re here for them, after all. All Alejandro needs is to reconcile with his brother. It will save him from purgatory."

The problem was that Laila didn’t know what Reapers wanted. Especially this Reaper, who seemed more indifferent than every other Reaper she had seen. She was about to give her a blank check, an opportunity to request anything she wanted, but Laila stopped herself.

"All I can offer you Earth," Laila said, her voice warm and sincere, her brown eyes catching the sunlight, making the color appear like pools of amber as she looked directly into Lilith’s. "And the opportunity to finally understand humanity rather than passively interacting with them."

Her words echoed those of her superiors a few months prior. They had seen her the anger and disillusionment towards humans and had been purposeful in their case decision.

"You will never get another opportunity to stay on Earth, Reapers never stay here."

Lilith listened half-heartedly at Laila’s rebuttal about a soul’s passage; after all, she really didn’t care much about it. Lilith wasn’t a very warm individual and those around her could hardly stand her but were too intimidated by her to speak poorly of her. Plus, as one of the top-ranking Reapers, what could they truly say? She had a bad character?

She had to admit, the warmth emitting from Laila surprisingly felt quite nice against her cool slender fingers. As she stepped back, she loosened her grip on Alejandro’s hand in order to play nice and popped on her sunglasses as the bright rays of the sun was irritating her eyes. ”Oh, so the boy has a sad story?” Lilith begun, ”don’t they all.” But she didn’t say it in a way that rejected Laila’s proposal since she was smirking at her.

”Earth is quite a big place honey, how could you possibly offer me enough to satisfy my thirst?” Although Lilith questioned her back, she had now dropped Alejandro’s hand and instead crossed her arms across her chest.

Perhaps this was the excitement she needed. Sure, her leave of absence would most definitely be revoked, and she’d get a mouthful from her superiors. But really and truly, Lilith had nothing to lose. During her entire existence she built up her status within the Reaper department with perfection that one slip up wouldn’t cost her as much as it could potentially if she was just an average Reaper.

”I’ll help you.” Lilith glanced over the paramedics who were trying their best to bring Alejandro back. She fell onto her knees in one swift motion and put out her hand towards Laila, ”give him here, only I can pop this sad soul back into this drugged up body.”

She waited for Laila to agree before adding, ”And if you think I truly give a damn about humanity, you’re sorely mistaken…not everyone has a heart like yours,” she winked, ”some don’t even have a heart in the first place.”

The sunglasses prevented Laila from looking into her eyes, leaving her instead to look at two dark barriers. Not that there had been much expression to see in them, apart from annoyance directed at her and indifferent.

As Lilith commented on her thirst, Laila realized that she had no idea how to go about all of this. With her original plan gone awry, she would have to think of how to help Alejandro all while making sure she kept up to her side of the bargain. But she had to figure it out. After all, she couldn’t hold down Alejandro’s soul at every second and she was truly at the whim of Lilith’s decision.

I’ll help you. Laila released a breath of relief; she had never wanted to hear three words more than now, even if they came from someone who held her future in her hands.

She watched as Lilith lowered down to Alejandro’s body and glanced at Alejandro’s soul and guided him down, handing him over to Laila. The paramedics continued to work as if the two weren’t there.

Laila kneeled beside Alejandro, her fingers brushing against his cheek as she felt the life return to his body. Her comment made Laila smiled, her lips glossy and tinted red.

She watched as Lilith worked, fascinated by the process, her eyes following Lilith’s hands. She had seen souls being taken away, but never returned. The paramedics detected a heartbeat again.

"Thank you," Laila said once Lilith was done, standing up once and stepping back. She could barely contain the bright smile. Her fingers pushed back the strand of hair that Lilith had moved only moments before. She took a step towards Lilith. She wasn’t used to a beating human heart, Angel’s were different, and she felt as it sped up. Laila rose to her toes, her lips brushing against Lilith’s cheeks in a kiss, before stepping back. Kisses were something natural to her, she kissed her children whenever she could, but this time her lips were left tingling, not used to the touch of a Reaper. "I promise you won’t regret it."

Now that the argument and the process were over, they began to notice them again, as if they had always been there.

Laila took this opportunity to get the attention of a paramedic member. She needed to make sure they could go with Alejandro to the hospital. Her hands rested on their shoulder and she spoke to him in a warm voice. The man nodded and looked over at Lilith briefly, his eyes doing a double-take before nodding again.

When she was done, Laila went back to Lilith. "We’ll go with Alejandro to the hospital. He’ll be discharged in a matter of time and, once that happens, we’ll go see the world, like I promised."

Truth be told Lilith had never had the experience of returning a soul back into their body but thankfully she had the knowledge and power to do so. As soon as she pushed Alejandro’s soul back, a wave of all the last emotions and regret he had felt whilst dying rushed into her, resulting in a pounding ache in her head and a feeling as if she couldn’t breathe for a few moments. It was the only moment during the entire duration she was with Laila that she had shown any kind of weaknesses.

Fortunately, it only lasted for a few human seconds although to her it seemed much longer. Transference is a real pain in the ass even when I don’t have the soul in my possession huh? Once the soul was back into Alejandro’s body and his heart began to beat, the paramedics quickly alerted one another and picked up his body ready to transport him to the hospital.

What had caught Lilith by surprise however was Laila’s reaction. She watched as the Angel rose up to press her lips against Lilith’s cold cheeks before ensuring her of her promise. Lilith raised an eyebrow at her, smiling ever so slightly and mused let the fun begin I suppose.

Lilith glanced over at the group surrounding them as they began to notice them again and looked over at Laila once more, ” as cute as that was...” she smirked once more, ”I think I deserve more of proper kiss after all that but I guess we’ll get to that eventually no?” she joked. Perhaps Lilith could learn to like the smell of honey after all. As Laila suggested going to the hospital, Lilith simply nodded in acknowledgement and motioned her to go forward as if to say lead the way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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C O N N O R

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Dialogue colour - #b7472a
Thought colour - #eb9788
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Connor was hanging out with his close group of friends at a skatepark when he had gotten a call from his parents about his older brother Alejandro's accident. He had been messing about and taking photographs per usual with his favourite and trusty Olympus OM-10 film camera. The crew were having post-graduation celebrations and were hanging out during their final days before everyone was heading out all going into different directions in life. Connor on the other hand, was still deciding between his options as the colleges he had applied to had all gotten back to him with acceptance letters so he needed to decide on one soon and fast.

When he got the call, even though he and Alejandro had gotten into a major fight before his brother had left for college, Connor couldn't help but feel a pit in his stomach in worry. After all, regardless of anything, this was his older brother they were talking about. Without explaining anything to his friends except mumbling the words Alejandro and accident, he rushed back home to his parents who had already started the car and were waiting for him. He jumped into the backseat and quietly watched as his parents anxiously conversed with one another.

He's fine....he always is, right?

Alejandro's college was only a few hours away yet the drive seemed to be taking extra long this time around. They were lucky they weren't hit by any major traffic and made it the hospital where Alejandro was admitted as quick as they did. It mostly helped that his insane father didn't care about the fact that he was indeed speeding and somehow failed to be noticed and stopped.

"Walker, Alejandro Walker...we're his family." His mother Amanda had whispered to the nurse at the reception desk, obviously physically tensed. The nurse had welcomed them with a warm smile and politely gave them the directions of the room Alejandro was admitted into, reassuring them that he was being well-taken care off. Connor kept his eyes down onto the floor, staring at the loose laces of his shoes and followed closely behind his parents as they made their way to the room.

"He's fine Amanda, he's a strong boy you know him," Robert, his father held onto his wife's hand and gave a reassuring squeeze.

Connor couldn't help but think of the worst, Alejandro had finally done it. He pushed himself too hard this time. It's all his fault.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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#, as written by nations
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laila & alejandro
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #003B32
thought - #C68174 | thought - 7CBDC9




Laila’s lips parted slightly at Lilith’s words, the words catching at the back of her throat. Her eyes danced down to Lilith’s lip at the mention of a kiss, but she immediately looked away, wishing she were wearing sunglasses herself. Thankfully, Lilith motioned for them to go as a police officer walked up to them. Without saying anything else, Laila followed the short man to the police vehicle, which would be taking them to the hospital; of course, this wasn’t following normal protocol, but it had been easy enough to get them to do what she had asked for. It only took asking and a few sweet words.

The two had been asked to sit at the back of the cop car. Laila remained quiet, only speaking to thank the people that helped them on the way. She had been looking out the window as the world around them sped by through the tinted windows. The world she would soon be getting to know for the first time.

Her heart was still pounding fast. It wasn’t the first time she had these physical responses in a human body, but a fast-beating heart in her normal cases usually meant danger. Now, she wasn’t sure what to make of it; was it worry for Alejandro’s future? Worry for her future? Unconsciously, her fingers had touched her lips. Was it the taste on her lips she couldn’t quite figure out?


• • • •


Alejandro woke up to a white-tiled ceiling. The cold air bit into his skin. He felt a faint pain on his wrists and, when he went to rub them, he found an IV needed. Sitting up, he looked down at the thin, papery fabric of a hospital gown.

He frowned, unable to remember anything well after his sight went cloudy. He wasn’t sure why his wrist hurt, even the one without the tubes attached. There was also something wrong with him; it felt like his breathing didn’t quite align with the rising and lowering of his chest, as if they were out of sync. Unknown to him, they were some of the common side-effects of having one’s soul pulled out and put back in.

He looked up and the first thing he saw was a dark-haired young woman sitting who, as soon as she noticed he had sat up, had stood up from her seat to make her way over to him.

"Alejandro!" she greeted him with a warm smile, "How are you feeling?"

Alejandro frowned. He couldn’t tell if it was the fluorescent lighting, her white dress, or something else that made it seem like her skin was glowing from within. When he blinked, the light was gone and she was only a foot away from the bed.

"What’s going on? Why am I here?"

His eyes widened as he remembered the game. "The game!" he exclaimed, pulling off the sheets and moving to stand up.

Laila immediately stopped him, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Alejandro, you had a heart attack out on the field."

He shook his head in defiance, "That’s impossible. I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m-"

His words cut short as memories of the moments right before the fall came rushing back. Immediately, his hands moved up to cover his face as he closed his eyes. The regret he had felt moments before blacking out weighted on his chest.

"What matters is that you are safe," Laila said in a soft voice, almost a whisper.

Alejandro shook his head but Laila gently pushed his hands aside and wiped some of the tears away with her thumb.

"Hey, whatever it is, it’s going to be okay."

Her presence was comforting and it took Alejandro a few moments to even wonder what a stranger was doing in his hospital room. Even though he couldn’t remember a specific moment where she had seen her, there was something familiar about her. Was it a student he had met before but couldn’t remember?

"I’m sorry, do I know you?" He asked.

"No," Laila said, taking a small step back to give him space, "I saw you that you didn’t look well out on the field and called for help."

"But you’re here at the hospital, you didn’t have to come."

"My friend and I wanted to make sure you were safe," Laila said, looking over her shoulder at Lilith before looking back at him.

Behind Laila, Alejandro saw the other young woman. A stark contrast to the one before him, she seemed to emit a unique energy of her own. Her face was also familiar but in a distant, unknown way. He was about to thank them when the room’s door open. He saw as his parents burst into the room, his younger brother following behind.

"Alejandro! My baby boy!" His mother exclaimed. She ran to her son to embrace him, moving Laila out of the way without malice, her voice shaky with tears. The woman embraced him tightly before letting go. "Are you alright? We were so worried about you when we got the call!"

A small gasp left Laila as she felt the contact and her body was pushed back. She looked over to the father, who was making his way to the mother’s side and, for a brief second, her gaze flashed with fear. Laila closed her eyes and quickly reminded herself, Amanda and Robert Walker are loving parents. Loving parents.

When she opened her eyes again, the father was looking at her and Lilith. "Who are you?"

"Dad, they were the ones who called for help out on the field. They wanted to make sure I was alright so they came along."

Amongst all of the noise, the group hadn't noticed the nurse come inside. "Hello, I'm sorry to interrupt, but only two people are allowed inside of the room at once."

The mother nodded, "Robert, Connor, I need to step out for a moment. Why don't you two stay in here?"

"I'll come with you," Robert replied, wanting to talk to the two girls in the room, "Connor, stay here with your brother."

Laila followed them out and motioned for Lilith to come as well.

Outside, Amanda hugged Laila tightly, her eyes still teary and her body trembling. "Thank you so much, to the both of you. I wouldn't know what to do with myself had the call gone differently."

When she pulled away, Laila took a step back. Even though she was used to physical touch, any positive interaction had not been from parents and, with her past experiences, it unsettled her a bit although she didn't show it in her expression, which was a mix of worry and relief. Of course, Laila wasn't worried about Alejandro's safety, but there was the need to play along.

"No need to thank us, we're happy to help."

"Is there any way we could thank you?" The father said, giving his wife a sideways hug. "Are your parents picking you up? Do you need a ride back home?"

For a moment, she panicked internally. Laila glanced over at Lilith. They couldn't leave Alejandro; if they did, then there would be no way for Laila to do her job and keep her promise.

"I actually don't live here," Laila replied, "I'm staying over at Lilith's house tonight before leaving. I'm trying to hitchhike to California. She might join me."

After a second, she added just in case, "I've been searching for my mom and, a few weeks ago, my grandparents finally told me where they had last heard she was living."

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Lilith decided it be the best for Laila to do most of the talking as she stood in the shadows, a place she felt the most comfort in. Alejandro had come around and not surprisingly was confused about the whole ordeal, his whole statement about being young made Lilith laugh quietly, "you know young people die too, more than you would think."

A cough from Laila indicated that perhaps she should keep her mouth closed and with a shrug she went back to looking around the room. The hospital room was bright, too bright for her eyes and so she had kept her sunglasses on despite the looks she was getting. Nothing new there.

As Alejandro began to realise the situation he was in, including the regret that came rushing to him, Lilith too clutched at her chest not quite getting rid of that pesky transference and sighed in annoyance. She watched as Laila comforted him and tried her best not to release another comment, I really shouldn't ruin this beautiful moment, she thought to herself, amused.

Before she could even open her mouth, loud footsteps approached the room and bursting through the doors was Alejandro's family. She noticed that who she assumed was his younger brother had stayed quiet in the corner with his eyes down the whole time. So this is his regret huh?

Lilith was in her own train of thoughts when she noticed that the noise had died down and looked up to see that Laila was motioning her to follow her outside presumably, to talk . Taking one last look at Alejandro and giving him a cheeky smile she followed Laila behind.

As soon as they were all outside, Amanda had rushed in to hug Laila. Lilith rolled her eyes; perhaps it was a good move that she had her sunglasses on since it would not have given her a good look. But compared to Laila who was quite literally glowing in love and warmth, the stark difference was noticeable, even more so with Humans. Amanda, who had pulled away looked over at Lilith and hesitated. Even during moments where Humans were filled with emotions, they could still subconsciously make decisions that reflected their attitude. Lilith took a step back as if to indicate it's fine and Amanda went back to holding Robert's hand.

After Robert's suggestion about wanting to help in return, Lilith bit her tongue hard to stop herself from making a comment about how her parents were probably dead in a ditch or something. She simply quietly observed the three and nodded here and there in order to look like she was listening.

"Laila has this whole plan in her head to reunite with her mother and live happily ever after," she smiled as if she was being genuine but the Humans probably couldn't tell either way. "I would drive her but I can't be trusted behind a wheel," she laughed.

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Connor walked into the room where Alejandro was being kept in surprise. His eyes glanced over at the two females that were in the room, one who was right next to his brother and the other in the far corner, with sunglasses on.

He assumed that Alejandro knew these two, perhaps they were friends of his which wouldn't be surprising since he had always been quite the popular guy even when they were young. But these two females seemed oddly strange, something was off about them or perhaps it was just because they were so different from one another that he felt slightly off-put by them.

Connor stayed at the back of the room and watched as his parents cry in worry over their son. Alejandro didn't seem to look too bad although from the nurse he had heard that he was here because of a heart attack, and he was very narrowly saved in time. Although he was worried throughout the entire car ride with a large pit in his stomach, as soon as Connor walked into the room and saw his brother's face, it all disappeared. Instead, anger and the build-up resentment had replaced his feelings of worry and he simply couldn't look at Alejandro in the eye without wanting to leave again.

But he wouldn't do that, not to his parents who were obviously traumatised by the whole thing. Connor glanced over at the female dressed in all black and wondered what her deal was, and why she wasn't boiling. She seemed quiet compared to her friend who was standing alongside his parents right next to Alejandro. There was something comforting about her, and perhaps it was just the way the hospital lights were hitting her but she seemed weirdly, glowy?

Connor was just about to excuse himself, making something up about wanting to use the bathroom when his father had told him to stay in the room with Alejandro whilst the rest of them left the room. He released a quiet sigh but nodded and watched as they all left, leaving him behind. I don't want to be here, he yelled in his head, here he is again, it always has to be about Alejandro .

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laila & alejandro
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Inside of the hospital room, Alejandro watched as the space cleared up, leaving him alone with Connor. It had been the first time in two years that Alejandro had really been around his brother; even during breaks, Alejandro stayed at his university town, picking up odd jobs, or left to travel with his friends.

"Hey," he said with a small smile.

Alejandro was happy to see Connor at first, but he quickly saw Connor’s reluctance to be there in his expression and felt a pain across his chest. Despite the emotions that had filled him with regret moments before his death, he felt himself close off to he emotion of regret he had felt earlier.

Alejandro began to feel angry just at the thought. He had ended up believing that he couldn’t expect Connor to ever understand him, but was Connor going to blame him for this too? Even as they stood there in a hospital room?

He was about to make a comment but he felt the pain in his chest again and stopped. The last thing he wanted for their parents to come in and see them fighting.

"How’s the college search?" Alejandro asked instead. "Did you choose where you’re going yet?"



Outside, Laila internally thanked Lilith for playing along. The parents’ eyes widened at the ordeal in front of them, not being able to understand how two young girls were going to hitchhike across the country.

"The two of you hitchhiking alone?" The father asked in surprise. "It’s very dangerous to be catching rides with a bunch of strangers."

"I- I have to risk it," she said, her voice breaking as she looked down at the ground. She closed her eyes for a moment as if she were holding tears back before opening them and looking back up with a sad expression, "I’m sorry, it’s just the only chance I have… I- I can’t my whole life without seeing her."

"I-" The mother covered her hand with her mouth, her head shaking slightly, as she immediately thought of all the stories of girls and young women going missing. After everything the two had done, saving their son, the mother couldn’t let these two girls risk their own lives.

Laila was praying that, somehow, they would extend their help.

The mother looked up at the father for a moment. "Sweetie," she whispered, "We can’t let them go, we have to help."

The father agreed with a nod but, before he could say anything, the mother turned to look at them.

"Connor, our youngest son, is struggling to choose a university and he starts in August. I believe he has an acceptance letter from a California college as well. I’m sure him being able to visit some of those universities would help him make the decision-" she paused for a moment, "What if the three of you drove together? It’ll help him and be much safer for you?"

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Lilith kept her calm exterior and put a hand on Laila's back as if to comfort her. Laila was a good actress she had to give her that. Tugging at the mother's heartstrings especially as she was obviously still emotional was a good play although manipulative, which Lilith was all for.

After a while, it seemed as though the mother had made up her mind to help the girls, suggesting a road trip of some sorts with the younger brother. Lilith smiled, "oh I mean...we really don't want to intrude or mess up his trip," she replied as if she was hesitating. "We couldn't possibly ask that much from you."

But Amanda had shaken her head firmly, "Nonsense, you both literally saved our son's life!" Robert joined in nodding in agreement, "this wouldn't even begin to pay you back for all you've done, so please, we would love to help you."

Lilith looked at Laila and smirked ever so slightly, she pulled her hand away from her small back and waited for Laila's response.

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Connor stayed where he was, not wanting to come any closer to his brother. Honestly, regardless of all the negative feelings, he had towards Alejandro, at the end of the day he was just tired. Tired of being his shadow and wanting to be his own person. Just earlier he was having such a good time with his friends, laughing and saying a final hurrah to moving on and finding their places in the world - only for it to be stopped halfway. It was always him running or their parents running after Alejandro.

Looking up he gave a small shrug, "still deciding, I'm going to go around and see some colleges," he mumbled, and celebrate my freedom he added to himself.

"What about you? Hows everything been apart from the, he motioned at the hospital room, "obvious."

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Oh, thank you God, Laila thought as the mother insisted, Lilith’s comment helping convince them even further of being alright with this plan.

She could feel Lilith’s hand on her back through the thin fabric of her dress. She felt a cooling sensation on her skin that, for a moment, distracted her from what the parents were saying. When Lilith pulled it back, Laila blinked again and smiled.

"Bless you two," she said in a sincere voice, knowing that those words carried a lot of weight when spoken by an angel, literally becoming a blessing to those given.

"Why don’t you two ladies go get some rest? We can exchange numbers and we’ll let you know tomorrow after Alejandro is given leave and we can speak to Connor."

Laila nodded and took a moment to exchange information. "Thank you so much, really it means a lot."



Alejandro nodded. He was surprised Connor hadn’t decided. It worried him even; time was running out and if he didn’t choose, the registration deadlines could pass and he would have to reply.

"I heard you got into some really good colleges," Alejandro said. "Congrats."


"Im not sure what happened out there today…" Alejandro sighed.

Part of Alejandro wanted to tell Connor about how awful the last couple of weeks had been. Tired, stress, scary, frustrating… but he couldn’t come up with the words. Just the thought of sharing these emotions made him worry about what he would say. Made him worry that Connor would call him weak or lazy, so he said, "I’ve been good otherwise. It’s been an extra busy semester, but that was my last game for the season and I’m done with finals."

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Connor shrugged again. To be honest he was feeling more and more awkward as time went by with just the two of them. He silently prayed their parents would hurry up and come back into the room to end this nightmare of his.
”I guess so…thanks.” He finally mumbled as a half-hearted reply.

When Connor first told their parents, he would be applying to colleges for photography, it didn’t sit well with them, especially their father. After all, what could a photography course lead him to? He had several big fights about it with their father which he believed his brother had no knowledge of since the Walkers loved to keep their elder son happy. It also probably was the case they didn’t want to add any extra stress onto Alejandro. Connor quite literally had to fight his way through his freedom, and with his acceptance into extremely good programs due to his extensive and well-made portfolio, he didn’t care about what his parents thought.

One of the colleges that had accepted him was Rhode Island School of Design, which was on the top of his list. But he was stuck between the other programs from Parsons School of Design in New York that had more of an integrative curriculum in order to participate in industry partnerships and study abroad; to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A lot of his high school friends were off to California, so he applied for the Academy of Art University which he also got accepted into.

As Alejandro tried to answer Connor’s question, Connor glanced over at the door for a second before looking back at the lamp that was next to his brother. He couldn’t look at him in the eye so at least he could look at his vicinity.

”That’s cool, I guess you can just spend your break relaxing and taking it easy.”

Alejandro didn’t know much about what was going on in Connor’s life. His parents had only briefly mentioned his brothers getting into various schools but hadn’t elaborated. Of course, Alejandro wanted to know more but he had never asked. For some reason, it felt like something that Connor had to tell him not his parents, almost as if his parents told him it would be a secret they would be betraying, so he had never pushed. Plus, he had always been really busy and the call with his parents was short. The only time he got to really spend some time with them was when either of them drove up to visit him and, even then, a lot of that time was devoted to them coming to see him play.

"Maybe we’ll see what the doctor says," Alejandro shrugged. However, staying still was not something that Alejandro. Whenever he stopped, even just for a moment, he felt unproductive and stagnant. So, he hoped he would be able to be out soon and allowed to work or do something to keep his mind busy. He had a summer team in North Carolina, but that wouldn’t start until July. "I don’t think I’d survive sitting in this hospital bed for long, though."

Alejandro looked at the hospital door. It wasn’t that he wanted Connor to leave, but there was clearly an energy between them, even after all this time. To think how close, they had been only a few years ago.

Connor nodded; it must really suck having to potentially stay in a hospital bed for any longer than required. He knew from at least when he and Alejandro were close that his older brother was the type of person who always had to be moving.

”Well, if it means anything you’re looking good for a guy who just had a heart attack,” Connor joked. However, after a few seconds he wondered if he could even joke with the guy he resented, or even joke about the fact that he nearly died on that field.

”I think mom and dad are still talking to those girls….who were they anyway?”

Alejandro couldn’t help but laugh at Connor’s comment. For a moment, he felt himself relaxing, the comment serving as a sort of ice breaker for him. "Thanks, bro."

Regarding the girls, Alejandro wasn’t sure himself. "I don’t know, honestly, but I don’t think I would be here alive without their help."

As if it were on cue, their parents came back into the room. Alejandro watched as they walked up.

"Hi, sweetie," his mother said, taking his hand. "So the doctor talked to us and told us that you’re able to leave tonight. All your tests came back and you’re in perfect shape. They said the heart attack must have been caused by a lot of stress. Have you been alright?"

Alejandro froze for a moment. He looked around at all his family members. As much as he wanted to admit how he had been feeling, he couldn’t. He didn’t even understand it himself, so he merely nodded.

"I’m good mom, I promise. It must’ve been the heat and the game. We needed to at least tie for the championship," he paused for a moment, his eyes widening, "Mom, did we win?"

It was just sinking in, the thought that they might’ve lost because of him. He wouldn’t forgive himself.

Her mother frowned, "Sweetie, you seriously can’t be thinking about that now."

"But did we?" He insisted.

"We don’t know," his father said, "We only received the call from your coach and then the hospital telling us what had happened. But your mom is right, it doesn’t matter. Now, what you need to do is forget about the game."

His mother nodded, "The doctor told us that you needed some time off, to forget about school and soccer. We were actually talking to the girls out there and they told us that they were travelling to California."

She looked at Connor. "They were hitchhiking, though, and we told them that you could drive them. I think it’s a wonderful way for you to actually visit some universities before choosing. Get a feeling of which campuses you like better. And, now that I think about it, Alejandro should go as well. It will be a great way for you to relax and see something new."

Thankfully their parents had come just in time to save them both from further awkwardness. It wasn’t a surprise but the three ended up discussing the game which apparently Alejandro thought was more important than the heart attack he experienced due to stress.

Truth be told Connor stopped listening to their conversation and quietly was making his way towards the door, to slip out and wait somewhere else. Except his mother probably said one of the worst things she could have said in the moment which made him stop in his tracks.

This has to be some sort of joke,” he glanced over at his father who seemed to be nodding along in agreement. Why is the universe so against me!”

He looked at Alejandro for the first time since he entered the room, almost pleading for his brother to reject the idea. Looking back at his mother he shook his head, ”Mom, please don’t say you’re being serious…I’ve been looking forward to hitting the road by myself and figuring my life, I have literally waited for this.” he shook his head, ”and as much as those girls did a lot, they are still strangers, are we forgetting that?”

If their parents wanted him to hate his older brother more, they were doing a great job at it.

Alejandro’s eyes widened at the thought. Clearly, from Connor’s reaction, he wasn’t too happy either.

Her mother frowned at Connor, "Sweetie, control yourself. I’m being serious, I think this is a great opportunity for you two to spend time together and you still have yet to decide on your university. It’s so far away I think you getting to see the campuses will help you make the right decision. And I’m sure the girls are great people. Didn’t you feel it?"

The mother was talking about Laila, who’s angelic nature made it so that humans could easily trust her.

Alejandro wanted to say something, but he was not used to going against his parents. There really had never been a need either way. He swallowed hard. "Mom, I have a summer job."

"Well, tell them you can’t do it," his mother said, now frowning at him. "Seriously, what is it with you boys? You have the chance to see the country. You won’t have to worry about money, and you can take out the car. It’ll be fun. And Connor, this could be really helpful in deciding your future."

Alejandro sighed, knowing that there wasn’t a chance that they could change their mother’s mind after she made it up.

Connor knew no matter how hard he tries to convince his mother against this plan, she wouldn’t budge, and Alejandro wasn’t one to go against their parents so of course he wouldn’t do nor say anything to get out of this either.

”If you really were doing this for my best interest and wanted to help me, you’d actually listen to me but why am I not surprised?”

Robert looked up at Connor and stepped forward, ”now listen here, do not be so disrespectful to your mother –“ but before he could finish his sentence Connor made his way towards the door.

”The one time this is meant to be about me, you all can still turn it around and still blame me for speaking out about it, I’m tired…I’m going to wait in the car.” With that, Connor opened the door and walked out.

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The two had left the hospital after talking to Alejandro’s parents. Laila figured they would probably have to wait a day or two to leave which meant they had to go rest for the night. Plus, human bodies needed rest.

Thankfully, she had a room at a nice beachside hotel; she was always given a studio or a hotel room for her mission whenever she went into human form. Outside, she called a cab which took them to the hotel. The lobby was large, with chandelier and soft classical music playing in the background. She usually got simple and minimalistic spaces but she figured the department had wanted to make sure she felt extra comfortable.

Once there, Laila took Lilith up the elevator to the fifteenth floor and into the room. The space room was large, with a queen bed and a nice couch. There was a small backpack sitting on the coffee table, beside a bottle of champagne sitting on I e. To humans, it was nothing more than a bag with some clothes, but for angels it was a black hole. Whatever material thing they needed, from clothes to money to toiletries, Laila could pull out.

Once in the room, Laila let out a deep breath. The whole day had taken a toll on her, especially more after so much time gone from the field.

”Well, this is our room for the night,” she said, taking a seat on the bed, laying down and closing her eyes. There was still so much to plan, but her mind was so exhausted she didn’t want to think about her future or the case.

”Are you hungry? Do you need me to get you anything?” she asked, opening her eyes and looking at Lilith.

Lilith wasn’t used to be on Earth for this long so felt a little out of her element. A part of her still felt unsure about the whole thing since she has always had a clean and perfect record, this case would truly be the death of her, no pun intended.

She remained quiet and calm however, merely following Laila as they made their way to what seemed to be their place to stay for tonight. She had to admit it, she was impressed by hotel. I guess Angels really do get treated better than Reapers in every aspect of their existence huh?

As they walked into their room, she glanced around at the large space and wondered what exactly she was meant to be doing. How does one live? Lilith watched as Laila settled onto the bed and finally she removed her sunglasses, blinking so that her eyes could adjust to the lighting. Thankfully it was dim in the room compared to the bright sunlight outside and with a sigh she dropped her sunglasses onto a nearby table and slipped off her high heels.

Lilith slipped out of her coat dress to reveal a lacy thin slip on and made her way to the champagne bucket. Looking over at Laila who asked about food she shrugged, ”I need to eat?”

Laila day back up, watching as Lilith examined the area around them and made her way across the room. Laila had been going into human bodies for years and still struggled, it hadn’t crossed her mind before how weird this all must be for Lilith.

She stood up and walked over to her side. ”Ideally, you should eat at least three times a day or whenever you feel pain in your stomach,” she said.”You also need to sleep, which is when you lay down for the night and let your body recharge, and wash yourself in order to be clean. The bathroom is over there-“ she pointed at a closed door, “You’re body should innately understand these needs but connecting and understanding them might take a bit at first. And, since we’re not actually humans, are bodies need less of all of this but it’s still needed.”

Laila picked up her backpack, ”Also, this backpack is very important. Any material item that we need, we can get it here. Of course, only angels can use it but you tell me and I’ll get it for you. We cannot lose it, especially since we’ll be on the road.”

With that short explanation, she went over to the desk and picked up the phone. Dialing a number, she asked, ”Room service, please?”
After a few moments, she finished her order. She wasn’t one to order a lot, especially because she hated waste, but Laila had gotten a little bit of everything so Lilith could try it and see what she liked, which would help in the future.

”The food will be here in like forty-five minutes,” she said with a smile, walking back over to the table and picking up the champagne. She popped it open, a flowery laugh escaping her lips as watched the foam spill, doing her best to make sure that it all fell into the bucket so that the staff didn’t have to worry about cleaning any alcohol mess. Carefully, she poured some of the champagne into two glasses and gave one to Lilith.

”Before we eat, I wanted to do a toast and say thank you,” she said, looking into Lilith’s eyes, thankful that she had finally taken her sunglasses off. Now that they were only a few feet apart and weren’t fighting over a soul, she finally took a moment to contemplate the Reaper’s delicate face. ”Not only did you save Alejandro today, but you also saved me.”

Lilith nodded, taking in all the information. ”So basically, being a human is going to be a major pain.”

Of course, Lilith had observed humans for as long as she could remember but the boring day to day tasks in order to keep up with their survival was less boring to observe in comparison to their hectic emotions and drama. Now as a human Lilith had to do all of this as well?

She glanced over at the bag with a smile, anything…I need to remember that.

Laila had opened the champagne which foamed up and seemed to be in a better mood. The difference was stark compared to Laila arguing with her just a few hours ago over a soul. But strangely enough she didn’t mind, rather she was amused by it.

Grasping at the glass she was given, she drank it all in one shot and frowned, [color=#8566aa]”it tastes…sweet? Her taste buds seemed to be jumping around as they were alive for the first time and she didn’t quite know how to react.

”I would have never thought you’d be thanking me, didn’t you hate me earlier?” She smirked.

Laila chuckled at Lilith’s comment on how being human could be a pain; she completely understood. There was truth to the comment; humans did not have an easy life. There were so many negative forces, internal and external, fighting against them. There was sickness, war, not being able to meet basic needs… the list was extensive. But there were also beautiful aspects about humans and their world that Angels and Reapers didn’t have. At least, that’s what she had been told. Laila had taken this case thinking it would be a transition back into her old job but, in a matter of a few human hours, it had become so much more. She now really had to see the beauty of this world.

Laila watched as Lilith finished her own glass in one go; without her heels, Lilith almost came face-to-face with her.

Her pale complexion contrasted the dark clothes she wore and, for the first time since they came in, Laila noticed that the Reaper had taken off her thicker upper layer to reveal a thin dress. Her eyes traveled down the length of the lace collar before moving back up.

Laila drank her glass in one go as well. She had actually never drank any kind of alcohol before (they also never left any in her room like today; she figured it was just her bosses trying to make her happy) and felt the carbonated beverage fizzle in her tongue, similar to a soda, but to her, there was a bitter aftertaste underneath the sweetness. Despite this, her body seemed to call for more.

Lilith’s question made her smile slightly and she poured another glass for herself and drank it. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but the soft pink color, the bubbles, the sickly sweetness— it was so alluring to her.

"I am a guardian," she replied, "My nature is to protect those under my care, at all cost. You were a threat and I had do whatever necessary to protect Alejandro."

Of course, there was much more to say about the situation. As she spoke, her free hand moved up to her neck, where a dainty necklace hung. In gold, there was a small pendant, an "R." Unconsciously, her fingers took it, feeling the pointy ends dig into her skin.

For a brief moment, her expression changed into one of sadness but she quickly recovered, breaking eye contact and pouring herself another glass.

Her mind was starting to run, thinking about Rebecca. Before, she had been so preoccupied over Alejandro that the thought of Rebecca only helped incite her protective instincts. Now, with that threat not so direct, she found that the memory was impacting her emotionally. In a human body, her grief was much harder to control since humans are more emotive and less rational than angels.

She drank the champagne, feeling the first effects of alcohol. It wasn’t strong enough to affect her greatly, but she did feel her muscles relax and felt a small wave of dizziness.

Lilith poured herself another glass and drank it too in one go, wiping her lips pink lips. She watched as Laila continued to take one glass after the other in amusement and released a soft laugh. It wasn’t long until she could feel Laila’s gaze on her before doing a 180 and instead of looking happy, a brief moment went by as her eyes turned sad. If Lilith had watched her closely, she most definitely would have missed it.

”I’ve heard that I can be quite threatening more often than not, but I’m sure you’re not surprised by that.”

Lilith’s eyes fell upon the small pendant around Laila’s neck, a simple R. She wondered what it stood for but assumed that it held some sort of significance for the Angel. Lilith couldn’t help but touch Laila’s cheek, stroking it gently. ”If it’s any consolidation, you have probably helped far more people without even noticing by simply existing, so Alejandro is lucky to have you.” This was true, without Laila the boy’s soul would have been taken and the case would have closed. Lilith would have moved on to the next one after her leave of absence without a care.

Taking a hold of Laila’s glass, she settled it down just in time as there was a sudden knock on the door. ”The food?”
Lilith made her way to the door, opening it to see a man in some sort of uniform walk in with a trolley filled with plates. He looked taken aback by Lilith’s presence, perhaps due to the fact the she wasn’t exactly dressed for company. However, that hardly bothered her, ”I gotta admit, when I observe you humans I can’t help but wonder how good your food looks.”

The server was indeed confused and glanced over at Laila who was still next to the champagne bucket. ”If you need anything else, please do not hesitate.”

Lilith nodded and gave the man a wink, who left the room with his cheeks reddening. Humans can be so cute when they’re embarrassed.

No, Laila wasn’t surprised in hearing about Lilith’s reputation. However, in the short amount of time she had been with the Reaper, Laila had noticed small things that told her there was more beneath that cold exterior. Beginning, of course, with Lilith agreeing to her plan and having mercy on Alexander’s soul.

When Lilith touched Laila’s cheek, her eyes closed, her cheek leaning on the hand; her touch was nothing like those of children, like nothing she had ever felt.

She heard the words through the darkness of her eyelids. They tugged at her heart. The role of a Guardian Angel was never-ending, much like a Reaper’s, moving from one human to the next. Even though Angels interacted much more with humans and every successful case was a reason for celebration, it was equally painful to have to let go of them, especially children, who became so attached to you, no matter in what form you came.

"Thank you," she breathed out. The pain was still there but, somehow, Lilith had managed to subdue it. Unfortunately, the touch didn’t last long and there was a knock on the door, which made Lilith move far from her.

From her place, Laila heard Lilith’s words and had to hold back a laugh, especially seeing the server’s face. There was something about her darkness that allured her.
Once the door was closed, Laila moved to the cart. She walked slower than she was used to, not wanting to fall with the dizziness. Laila had never seen so much food at once. Taking the cart, she pulled it over to the edge of the bed. Taking off her shoes, she sat on one side, tucking her feet under her and patting the empty space next to her.

She opened the trays, putting the covers on the lower part of the cart. An array of scents rose from the plates. Spices, sugars… her eyes scanned the plates. On one, she spotted chocolate-covered strawberries, one of her favorite things on earth.

With a smile, she picked up a strawberry and turned to Lilith, holding it out in front of her, a few centimeters from her mouth, "Here, try this."

Lilith was quite frankly overwhelmed the sheer amount of food, and the array of scents seemed to be attacking her sense of smell. Because of this, she was quietly grateful that Laila had decided to pick an item for her to try first and motioned her to take a seat beside her.

As she settled down, her hands felt the silky sheets and couldn’t help but smile. All her senses seemed to be screaming in both confusion and joy at all the new experiences. Leaning in, she took a small bite of the chocolate covered strawberry, hesitating at first. Lilith’s eyes widened like a child as the sweet chocolate melted and the sharpness of the strawberry hit her tongue.

”Why do humans have anything to cry about when they have this?” She exclaimed, finishing off the bite before Laila could take it away.

Lilith’s smile had changed from that permanent smirk out on the field to something softer. Lilith had mentioned how quickly Laila had changed but, in a way, she felt the same towards the Reaper. Never in a million years would Laila have guessed that she would be in a room alone, in human form, with a Reaper, working together.

Lilith’s expressions as she tried the sweet were fascinating to watch. That look of fascination at discovering something wonderful was one thing that Laila loved about children.

”One does wonder that,” she replied with a warm laugh, putting down the strawberry. She picked up a cloth napkin and gently whipped away a small piece of chocolate on Lilith‘s lips.

She looked down at the tray again, wondering what to have Lilith taste next. She decided for something contrasting. She saw an orange plate and took a spoon, scooping up some of the spiced chicken and giving it for Lilith to try.

”This one might burn a little,” she warned, ”But sometimes we need that, no?”

Lilith pouted ever so slightly as Laila moved on from the strawberry, she could end up having the whole plate of those without even thinking about it.

Looking at the orange coloured liquid, it seemed as though something was floating in it. She shook her head childishly but soon gave to the tempting smell. As she let the warm spiced chicken go down her throat, chewing at the soft meat she raised an eyebrow. The flavour was so drastically different from what she had earlier, it almost seemed magical. ”What is this?”

After a few seconds she felt her tongue tingle, but it wasn’t unpleasant, just a strange sensation. ”Should my tongue be feeling…tingly?”

Laila felt her heart speed up as she saw Laila pout. When they came to the chicken, Laila didn’t expect so much hesitation but she supposed it was normal. New tastebuds were harder to convince to try savory foods.

”Chicken Tika Masala,” she replied, amused. ”Yes, it’s supposed to tingle. It’s spicy and the other food you had, chocolate-covered strawberries, is sweet.”

She put the spoon down for a moment. Laila could feel the effect of the alcohol slowly increase, her body adjusting to the content in her body.

From where she was, she could see Lilith’s eyelashes. If she leaned forward a little, she was sure she would feel and hear her breaths. The alcohol was definitely getting to her, she figured, as she wondered whether her lips would be as cold as her cheek. What Laila didn’t realize at first was that she had said the question out loud.

When she did, her eyes widened and her hand covered her mouth in surprise. ”Excuse me,” she murmured, her eyes shooting down to the ground as she stood up.

”Please, continue eating without me,” she said, motioning to the food as she retreated, moving towards the bathroom. ”I just need to—“ her words were cut off as she bumped against the wall, her cheeks reddening before she opened the bathroom door.

”Chicken Tika Masala,” she repeated quietly to herself. With a nod, she decided that she liked the dish as well, although the chocolate – covered strawberries were still her favourite.

Lilith was about to reach out for another strawberry when she felt the gaze from before return. She leaned ever so slightly forward and looked at Laila with a smile. She was about to make a comment about whether she had never seen a Reaper before but before she could Laila had spoken aloud.

Holding back a smirk, Lilith crossed her arms and watched an embarrassed and seemingly drunk Laila run to the bathroom as if to take shelter from her words. Lilith couldn’t believe that the Angel was what the humans call a lightweight , but it was cute.

Pushing herself up from the bed, she heads towards the bathroom door in perfect silence and knocks three times. ”Honey,” she decided that nickname suited the sweet smelling Angel, ”You don’t have to wonder you know, I’m right here.” She shouldn’t tease her, Lilith assumed that Laila was probably as red as she could be and mumbling to herself about how mortified she was.

”Laila, I really wanted to take a bath you know,” she knocked again, ”I read somewhere that humans like taking bubble baths to relax themselves, maybe you should join me.”

Inside, Laila turned on the faucet and splashed some water on her face.

What was going on with her? She had never felt or acted this way. Maybe she really wasn’t ready to be out on the field again, maybe she was still to unstable and should notify headquarters to take her out. However, something told her that it wasn’t that. It was the Reaper, something about her presence.

Angels and Reapers were very different beings; they often didn’t interact nor did they care much for each other. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She heard the knock outside and jumped.

The words traveled through the wooden door. Laila hadn’t even locked it and it felt like a paper-thin barrier between them. What had she done? Stupid alcohol.

There was a knock again. Her words were almost as intoxicating as the alcohol. Angels weren’t really known for their romantic interests and so this was just something Laila couldn’t understand.

Laila thought, I’m already breaking all the rules. I’m already risking everything. Opening the door right wouldn’t change that.

Laila took a deep breath. She hesitated, her rational side telling her to stay there until the night passed, but her emotional side, heightened by the human body, turned the door knob and pulled the door open, coming face-to-face with the Reaper on the other side.
Her body froze for a moment before she pushed the last rational thoughts aside. If she was going to understand humanity, she might as well act like it at times. Without another moment, Laila moved and closed the space between them.

Lilith thought she’d be outside the door knocking until the sun rose. She decided if she hadn’t heard anything from Laila in the next few minutes, she would just assume she needed her space and would head off to bed. That was exactly what she was expecting so after those few minutes passed, Lilith crossed her arms and was about to turn around until she heard the doorknob creak as it turned.

With her arms across her chest, she watched as Laila left the bathroom door hang open and seemed to have a strange expression on her face that Lilith couldn’t quite understand. As she was about to ask her if she was okay, Laila stepped forward and now they were just mere inches apart from one another.

”Hey,” she whispered, ”I think you should probably get some water in you and get some rest,” she glanced around the room and spotted a jug of water. ”I think I heard that alcohol can be quite a lot for some humans…” she trailed off as Laila continued to stare at her. Lilith rose an eyebrow and leaned in so slightly that there was still some space between them. She mostly did it in order to tease Laila and watch her grow red as a response.

Lilith’s words tugged at her more rational side and almost put her back into place. Her eyes moved to the glass of water on the other side of the room. She was right, maybe all she needed was some water and food. Lilith’s words almost made her retreat, making her take a step back, feeling the cool tile floor underneath.

However, as sweet as Laila was, she wasn’t known to retreat easily. Part of her knew that if something like this was going to happen, it would probably be now or never.

”I want you to kiss me,” Laila said in a serious tone, her eyes turning back to Lilith’s, ”If you want to.”

She couldn’t believe herself, a boldness of this kind was not normal for her.

You would think that Lilith would react to the fact that Laila had just asked for a kiss with a change of expression but no, Lilith remained her cool self. ”As much as I would love that honey, I am in no way going to take advantage of you,” she wrapped her arm around Laila’s waist and gently tugged at her towards the bed. ”Let me get you a glass of water.”

Lilith’s hand around her waist did not help, it was that very cool touch that made Laila crave more. She allowed herself to be guided towards the bed, and took a seat. Her eyes followed Lilith. It seemed like the world focused in on her.

”Then why would you tempt me with a bubble bath?” She asked, speaking into the soft pillows. It was weird, the feeling of being rejected. ”You would love the warm water.”

Once Laila took a seat, Lilith walked over to the small coffee table and poured the water into one of the tall glass cups. As her back was turned against Laila, she couldn’t help but laugh inaudibly at the comments she was hearing.

Turning back towards Laila and walking so she was right besides the bed, she gave a gentle poke and motioned towards the glass in her hand. ”I’m still going to have that bubble bath don’t get me wrong,” she smiled, ”you shouldn’t do things you’ll regret in the morning.”

As Laila was on the bed, Lilith was almost looking down at her and by doing so she couldn’t help but find her pouting charming. She’ll fall asleep soon she told herself.

Laila felt her touch again but didn’t move at first. After a moment, she sat up and took the glass of water.

She didn’t know what to say. Like back in the field, she took a moment to think by drinking the water completely and slowly putting the glass on the bedside table.

”It... won’t be the same without me,” she said in a soft tone, moving so that she was under the thick blankets.

Her second comment hit her hard. Obviously, not in the way Lilith had meant. Laila frowned, her head getting another wave of dizziness, but it wasn’t just the alcohol.

”I-I know what regret is,” her words breaking slightly as she pulled the blankets over her shoulder, ”I can tell you it doesn’t feel anything like this.”

Lilith laughed, rather loudly at Laila’s response about it not being the same. She moved to the edge of the bed and pulled up the blankets so it was easier for Laila to wrap herself around it. ”Trust me honey I believe you.

As she patted the sheets, she looked over at Laila who seemed to have quietened down. Just like Alejandro, you must have a regret deep in your heart too huh?

Lilith sighed quietly, ”well regardless, why don’t you get some rest, we have a big day tomorrow with the boys.” she glanced at the clock and realised that time had gone by so quickly and now it was late in the night. Just before she turned to walk away, she leaned in and pressed her lips to Laila’s warm forehead. ”You still owe me a kiss and a bubble bath so don’t think you’re totally off the hook.”

She straightened her back and took a few steps away from the bed. Lilith unclasped her hair clip and let her long straight hair fall onto her back. A bubble bath and she’d be off to bed as well.

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Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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laila & alejandro
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #003B32
thought - #C68174 | thought - #7CBDC9


The next day, Laila woke up around six in the morning.

The effects of the alcohol were completely gone; she hadn’t gone blackout drunk and, either way, her body healed faster compared to humans. The warmth under the blankets felt nice but the feeling was interrupted by the memory of the events of the night before.

An involuntary groan left groan lips as she remembered the awful stream of words she had used. She remembered everything, including Lilith’s last words to her and the sound of the water running as Lilith prepared the bath. Laila had really tried to sleep as soon as Lilith had tucked her into bed, it had been impossible with her mind racing, the alcohol had done nothing more than jumble her thoughts and words. So, she had remained motionless for a very long time until her body finally gave into the night.

There was nothing to do, however, except act like it had never happened. Yes, Laila would pretend the alcohol made the night foggy.

Laila didn’t regret it; she couldn’t deny that a part of her had meant every word she had, but she would’ve never said anything in her fully sober state. Not in a million years which, for immortals like them, was not an exaggeration. Either way, Reapers and Angels weren’t meant to be close even this long. Their work consisted on brief, intersecting moments, if there was any interaction at all. Their species were like night and day. It would be best to forget and move on, even though she felt an unfamiliar pain in her chest at the thought.

Knowing that there were things to do before meeting up with the boys and having made up her mind about the situation, Laila carefully got out of the bed. Not wanting to make any noise, she took the backpack from the table. Before heading to the bathroom, she took a look at Lilith.

The Reaper surprised her. Even though she knew her kind wasn’t actually heartless or killers, they were representatives of something so often tied with poison and grief, which made it hard for a lot of Beings to empathize with them. And being much colder, personality- and physically-wise, didn’t help their case much in the eyes on an Angel.

However, Lilith has shown her a kinder side last night; when she has tried the food, when she had tucked her into the bed. Even when she had refused the kiss, not wanting to take advantage of her tipsy state. At the last thought, however, Laila wondered if it had really been out of respect. From their fight on the field, it was clear that Lilith didn’t think too highly of Angels and what they did. Perhaps, Laila rationalized in order to make the situation easier for herself, her rejection was tied to her prejudices and her flirtatious talk was nothing more than a form to entertain herself.

With a sigh, unsure of what to think at this point, Laila went to the bathroom to get ready for the day. When she came out a few minutes later, she had changed into a simple white t-shirt and high-wasted shorts. Her hair was wet and curled in its natural state, unlike yesterday’s ironed hair.

Now, she had to sit down and figure out what her plan was for the road trip. It would probably have to be tweaked depending on the guys, but she at least needed an idea of where they were going. She had a promise to fulfill, after all.

••

The previous night, a few hours after their mother revealed Connor’s and his future plans out of the blue, Alejandro was allowed to check out of the hospital. His father had returned home with Connor so that he could get his things and the car, and his mother had stayed with him, going to stay at his apartment, wanting to take make him dinner and make sure he was feeling well.

On the Uber to his apartment, Alejandro wanted to tell his mother that the plan was a horrible idea. Not being able to work was going to take an emotional toll in him; he knew it, even though he hated acknowledging it. However, he hated going against his parents even more. Their happiness was more important than his and, right now, it meant going on a wild cross-country road trip that would only add unnecessary miles to their family car and mean that they had to travel with two complete strangers. As sweet as the one that talked to him seemed, Alejandro couldn’t help but feel frightened by the other‘s presence, even though he didn’t know why. Perhaps he was wrong about her though. Sometimes first impressions were fooling and he hadn’t even gotten a chance to talk. Either way, his mother had told him that she would be tracking them on his phone for the safety of all which was at least something.

When they got home, Alejandro didn’t take long to fall asleep. That night, he had nightmares of floating into darkness and a cold freezing his body, making him unable to move as invisible hands pushed and pulled on him. He woke up with a cold sweat but told himself that it was probably a result of the heart attack. Perhaps the body was still in shock.

He took the following hour to get ready for the day, showering and eating breakfast that his mother made for him. He also was told that she had taken the liberty of packing for him so he didn’t have to worry but that he should check to make sure he had everything he needed.

By the time Connor and their father arrived, Alejandro was watching soccer on the television with his mother, ready for whatever crazy plan his parents would force him into.

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Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Laila Miller
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L I L I T H

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Dialogue colour - #8566aa
Thought colour - #8ec6c5
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Lilith stayed in the bathtub for much longer than she realised but she couldn't bring herself to cut it short. The bubbles and the warm water against her skin automatically relaxed her muscles and she felt strangely at peace. She didn't realise how tense her muscles were and enjoyed the floral notes of the bath cream.

When she did finally push herself out of the bath, she felt a brief moment of dizziness as she clutched on the tub. Perhaps she overdid it and shouldn't have stayed as long as she did but after giving it a few seconds, her head stopped spinning and she could carry on. Grabbing a bathrobe that was hanging beside the door, she slipped into it whilst admiring the soft fabric. I could get used to this, she mused.

As she opened the bathroom door, she glanced over at a sleeping Laila who seemed lost the world. Shaking her head, she watched her for a few minutes just thinking about their earlier interaction. Glancing over at the empty bottle of champagne she reminded herself to not let Laila try that again when the boys were around. With a sigh, she brushed her slightly damp hair with the hotel's complimentary brush and made her way towards the other side of the bed.

Slipping in under the duvet, she looked at the gap between Laila and simply turned her back against her. Today had been a long day and she could feel her tired human body wanting to just snooze off. Although Lilith wondered what would have happened if she had been her usual cold self and rejected the proposal, she was secretly glad she had accepted. After all, this was much more fun.

*

The bright light from the morning sun was hitting her eyes. Why is it so bright... she thought, opening one of her eyes ever so slightly. With a groan, she realised where she was and immediately sat up, glancing quickly around the room. Oh right, human, hotel, the boys. Her body felt lighter than it had the previous day and as she stretched her arms to the ceiling, she looked over to the other side of the bed where it was left empty.

Lilith pushed herself out of bed and stretched again with a yawn. As she was just about to call out for Laila, the Angel had stepped out from the bathroom all fresh and as usual with a faint glow to her. "I'll take a quick shower but I definitely need you to get something wonderful to wear in the magic bag of yours," she smiled, walking towards her.

She was still in her bathrobe and her hair was wavy from leaving it damp as she slept. "You were so out of character last night I'm surprised that you still aren't red."

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Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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C O N N O R

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The car journey back home was a silent one. He and his father remained quiet and angry at each other; his father angry at his behaviour and Connor just simply angry.

As soon as they got home, Connor had rushed to his room and shut the door, not even listening to his father's words. He didn't care anymore, he was just tired. He fell onto his bed and stared at his white ceiling for a while before closing his eyes. Why was Connor surprised by this outcome? He shouldn't be and that was making him even more upset. His parents had to take away anything that made him happy, anything that gave him more value. They always had to do whatever they think would be beneficial to Alejandro.

Connor was looking forward to this solo trip. It would be the first time he'd be away from his parents and experience the world for himself. He was looking forward to taking photographs throughout the journey and meeting new people. The colleges he was thinking about were honestly secondary compared to just having an adventure but he knew he would have to decide on one soon. All the programs were honestly high quality and praised, so regardless of where he went he would do okay. But the bigger reason for choosing them all was because they'd be far away from home as possible. He wouldn't have to deal with his parents and even better his older brother. No one would know Alejandro, they'd just know Connor.

His father yelling about ordering takeaway brought him back to reality and as he sat up he released a disgruntled cry. "I'm so close..." he whispered to himself.

*

It's funny how the journey going to Alejandro this time around was so different from the previous day. Connor's worry about his brother was now replaced by anger and increasing resentment. He stared out of the window and kept his mouth shut no matter how hard his father tried to get a conversation out of him.

They had reached Alejandro's apartment sooner than he would have liked, actually praying to be stuck in traffic but like always the universe was against him. The two made their way towards the front door as his mother opened the door to welcome them in. Connor continued to look at his laces and kept quiet as he shuffled inside.

Truth be told Connor had never stepped foot in Alejandro's apartment. He never visited no matter how hard his parents tried to force him along. He didn't even look at Alejandro who of course was watching soccer, how predictable. He awkwardly just stood there, not wanting to go further in because he felt so out of place - like an outsider. However, after a few seconds of just standing there, his mother gently pushed him towards the couch where he took a seat.

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Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #8566AA
thought - #C68174 | thought - #8EC6C5






alejandro & connor
dialogue - #003B32 | dialogue - #B7472A
thought - #7CBDC9 | thought - #EB9788




”Good morning,” Laila said in a warm tone as she walked over to the desk and put her backpack down.

Of course, she would have to get Lilith something to wear every day throughout this whole trip. They could also go shopping at one point, she thought. Laila had never taken time for those things but she figured it would be a nice activity while the boys went touring a campus.

”I was?” Laila responded to Lilith’s statement with a raised eyebrow. ”I can’t remember.”

In an attempt to move the conversation forward, she turned her back to Lilith and looked down at the bag. She wasn’t sure what to get Lilith, especially since she hadn’t specified what she wanted; her outfits from the day before showed a very different style than her own. Dark and seductive but also elegant and sophisticated.

After a moment of thought, she pulled out a delicate black dress along with a small pair of diamond earrings. The dress was a mix between their styles, with the dark fabric and plunging neckline that Laila supposed Lilith might like, and the flowy fabric and delicate sleeve that Laila liked.

"You didn’t have to wake up so early, you know?” She said, turning around and holding out the items for Lilith to see. "Either way, we can head down for breakfast once you’re ready before meeting up with the guys.”

Lilith smirked at Laila’s comment about not being able to remember last night’s events. ”That’s a shame, you owe me some things but I guess I’ll wait till it’s the right time to ask for them.”

She watched in curiosity as Laila went into the bag and pulled out a flowy and delicate black dress. Lilith nodded in approval and took the dress and earrings from Laila, ”I’m impressed, how did you know I hated fakes?” She motioned towards the earrings.

Lilith loosened up her bathrobe and walked towards the bathroom, opening the door and leaving it half open. ”I don’t think I’m really used to the whole sleeping thing but I feel fine.” Stepping in she added ”breakfast sounds good,” and gently pushed the door closed with her foot. However, before the door could fully close, she had already dropped the bathrobe onto the floor and was making her way to the shower.

Laila was very aware of what Lilith was talking about but preferred not to say anything. Seeing how things were going and they weren’t even a day into their journey, Laila couldn’t even begin to imagine what things she would end up promising to Lilith along the way.

She was glad that Lilith approved of the outfit. ”I figured you would only like the best,” Laila said with a small shrug. ”Plus, I think they would look great on you.”

Laila made her way to the bed and began to fix it so that the room looked more organized when they left. As Lilith entered the bathroom, Laila couldn’t help but pause what she was doing, her body freezing as her dark gaze took in the image of Lilith under the soft bathroom light, revealing what the dress had hidden the night before.

When the door closed, Laila looked down at her hands to find that she had been clutching tight to the white fabric. With a deep breath, she snapped herself back to reality and finished making the bed. Those pesky thoughts needed to go, somehow.


• • • •


Alejandro lived a few minutes away from campus. He had lived in a dorm his first year, a shared apartment his second year, and after that he had gotten a small apartment studio that his friend subleased one semester and had decided to stay, liking the privacy of the space, especially when he had to sit down late at night to study for an exam or finish assignments after practice.

It had been decorated by his mother, who had bought a gray pull-out couch for whenever they came over and a four-seat dining table meant for the family. In reality, they weren’t able to come as often and the whole family hadn’t used the dining room table once. Instead, the desk was a great place for his friends to sit down on after a game and the table served best as a study room, especially when he had a group over for late-night cramming sessions.

When choosing schools a few years ago, like Connor, Alejandro had wanted to leave. Not too far so that he could be with his parents in a few hours, but far enough so that he didn’t constantly have to spend time with his extended family every weekend.

”Hey,” Alejandro greeted his brother when he sat on the couch but quickly stood up; as if it wasn’t awkward enough, having a studio meant that the bathroom was the only private space. He could tell Connor was going to burst any moment. If not now, certainly when their parents were gone, and he just wasn’t trying to deal with that.

Their mother had gone out to the grocery store earlier and had made pancake and scrambled eggs for all of them.

When Robert said that they had ordered take out she scolded him, “Robert, it’s the first time we’ll be able to eat as a family in a very long time and you order takeout?”

Her husband looked at her apologetically but she shook her head and moved over to the small kitchen, ”No matter, I still want everyone to sit down together and eat.”

Alejandro went over to help his mom serve the food. His mother asked why the plates were mismatched and Alejandro shrugged; a few had been broken my mistake and he had to go buy some.

” Connor, come here, I made your favorite kind of pancake,” his mother said, placing down his plate next to Alejandro’s.

”Now, the both of you should be smiling. You’re going on a road trip!” Their mother exclaimed with a bright smile, [b]”I remember doing road trips with my gals when I was in college and later with Rob before we had the two of you, and they have always been some of my most cherished memories.”

Alejandro began to eat his breakfast, preferring not to say anything in response.

”I texted the girls a suggested itinerary so you all can see some of this country’s most beautiful places, not just the campuses. I think you will love it!”

Connor sat awkwardly on the couch, still not saying a word. He realised no matter what he would say would just be him wasting his breath so what was the point? As Alejandro greeted him, he simply nodded back as a response and went back to looking at his laces.

It was only until their mother ushered her over to eat breakfast that he shuffled to the dining table, taking a seat next Alejandro which of course their mother would do. He didn’t acknowledge the fact that she had made pancakes, probably as a sorry excuse for how things ended the previous day. Truth be told he stopped liking those pancakes a while back, mostly because of the bittersweet feeling towards his parents. Connor grabbed a fork and started to cut his stack into smaller and smaller pieces, not once taking a bite.

He wasn’t even really paying attention to what their mother was saying, something about the road trip and the girls. How ironic, saying she think he’d love it when this was the opposite of what he really wanted. He was meant to be using this time and build up his happiness, rather just like always his family tore it down and made it about them, all the while pretending they weren’t doing so.

The family ate their breakfast in silence. There was a heavy air around them. Alejandro hated that this is how they would be saying goodbye to their parents. Why hadn’t they just left things as they were? Things before had not been perfect, but now Connor wasn’t just ignoring him. Alejandro could feel the waves of anger coming off Connor. He couldn’t understand how his parents didn’t care that the whole situation was upsetting him this much.

After breakfast, Alejandro went to brush his teeth and get his things. He had packed a large backpack with the essentials and a couple sets of outfits. Thankfully, it was summer so it was going to be hot and the clothes didn’t take up a lot of space.

Their mother told them they were meeting the girls at a gas station so that they could fill up the fuel tank and head out. With that, the four heading out, their parents in a different car so they could head back home after this.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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connor & alejandro
dialogue - #b7472a | dialogue - #003B32
thought - #eb9788 | thought - #7CBDC9




Alejandro lived a few minutes away from campus. He had lived in a dorm his first year, a shared apartment his second year, and after that he had gotten a small apartment studio that his friend subleased one semester and had decided to stay, liking the privacy of the space, especially when he had to sit down late at night to study for an exam or finish assignments after practice.

It had been decorated by his mother, who had bought a gray pull-out couch for whenever they came over and a four-seat dining table meant for the family. In reality, they weren’t able to come as often and the whole family hadn’t used the dining room table once. Instead, the desk was a great place for his friends to sit down on after a game and the table served best as a study room, especially when he had a group over for late-night cramming sessions.
When choosing schools a few years ago, like Connor, Alejandro had wanted to leave. Not too far so that he could be with his parents in a few hours, but far enough so that he didn’t constantly have to spend time with his extended family every weekend.

”Hey,” Alejandro greeted his brother when he sat on the couch but quickly stood up; as if it wasn’t awkward enough, having a studio meant that the bathroom was the only private space. He could tell Connor was going to burst any moment. If not now, certainly when their parents were gone, and he just wasn’t trying to deal with that.

Their mother had gone out to the grocery store earlier and had made pancake and scrambled eggs for all of them.

When Robert said that they had ordered take out she scolded him, “Robert, it’s the first time we’ll be able to eat as a family in a very long time and you order takeout?”

Her husband looked at her apologetically but she shook her head and moved over to the small kitchen, ”No matter, I still want everyone to sit down together and eat.”

Alejandro went over to help his mom serve the food. His mother asked why the plates were mismatched and Alejandro shrugged; a few had been broken my mistake and he had to go buy some.

” Connor, come here, I made your favorite kind of pancake,” his mother said, placing down his plate next to Alejandro’s.

”Now, the both of you should be smiling. You’re going on a road trip!” Their mother exclaimed with a bright smile, ”I remember doing road trips with my gals when I was in college and later with Rob before we had the two of you, and they have always been some of my most cherished memories.”

Alejandro began to eat his breakfast, preferring not to say anything in response.

”I texted the girls a suggested itinerary so you all can see some of this country’s most beautiful places, not just the campuses. I think you will love it!”


Connor had sat awkwardly on the couch, still not saying a word. He realised no matter what he would say would just be him wasting his breath so what was the point? As Alejandro greeted him, he simply nodded back as a response and went back to looking at his laces.

It was only until their mother ushered her over to eat breakfast that he shuffled to the dining table, taking a seat next Alejandro which of course their mother would do. He didn’t acknowledge the fact that she had made pancakes, probably as a sorry excuse for how things ended the previous day. Truth be told he stopped liking those pancakes a while back, mostly because of the bittersweet feeling towards his parents. Connor grabbed a fork and started to cut his stack into smaller and smaller pieces, not once taking a bite.

He wasn’t even really paying attention to what their mother was saying, something about the road trip and the girls. How ironic, saying she thinks he’d love it when this was the opposite of what he really wanted. He was meant to be using this time and build up his happiness, rather just like always his family tore it down and made it about them, all the while pretending they weren’t doing so.

The family ate their breakfast in silence. There was a heavy air around them. Alejandro hated that this is how they would be saying goodbye to their parents. Why hadn’t they just left things as they were? Things before had not been perfect, but now Connor wasn’t just ignoring him. Alejandro could feel the waves of anger coming off Connor. He couldn’t understand how his parents didn’t care that the whole situation was upsetting him this much.

After breakfast, Alejandro went to brush his teeth and get his things. He had packed a large backpack with the essentials and a couple sets of outfits. Thankfully, it was summer so it was going to be hot and the clothes didn’t take up a lot of space.

Their mother told them they were meeting the girls at a gas station so that they could fill up the fuel tank and head out. With that, the four heading out, their parents in a different car so they could head back home after this.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Laila Miller
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #b7472a | dialogue - #8566aa
thought - #eb9788 | thought - #8EC6C5




”Good morning,” Laila said in a warm tone as she walked over to the desk and put her backpack down.

Of course, she would have to get Lilith something to wear every day throughout this whole trip. They could also go shopping at one point, she thought. Laila had never taken time for those things but she figured it would be a nice activity while the boys went touring a campus.

”I was?” Laila responded to Lilith’s statement with a raised eyebrow. ”I can’t remember.”

In an attempt to move the conversation forward, she turned her back to Lilith and looked down at the bag. She wasn’t sure what to get Lilith, especially since she hadn’t specified what she wanted; her outfits from the day before showed a very different style than her own. Dark and seductive but also elegant and sophisticated.

After a moment of thought, she pulled out a delicate black dress along with a small pair of diamond earrings. The dress was a mix between their styles, with the dark fabric and plunging neckline that Laila supposed Lilith might like, and the flowy fabric and delicate sleeve that Laila liked.

"You didn’t have to wake up so early, you know?” She said, turning around and holding out the items for Lilith to see. "Either way, we can head down for breakfast once you’re ready before meeting up with the guys.”

Lilith smirked at Laila’s comment about not being able to remember last night’s events. ”That’s a shame, you owe me some things but I guess I’ll wait till it’s the right time to ask for them.”

She watched in curiosity as Laila went into the bag and pulled out a flowy and delicate black dress. Lilith nodded in approval and took the dress and earrings from Laila, ”I’m impressed, how did you know I hated fakes?” She motioned towards the earrings.

Lilith loosened up her bathrobe and walked towards the bathroom, opening the door and leaving it half-open. ”I don’t think I’m really used to the whole sleeping thing but I feel fine.” Stepping in she added ”breakfast sounds good,” and gently pushed the door closed with her foot. However, before the door could fully close, she had already dropped the bathrobe onto the floor and was making her way to the shower.

Laila was very aware of what Lilith was talking about but preferred not to say anything. Seeing how things were going and they weren’t even a day into their journey, Laila couldn’t even begin to imagine what things she would end up promising to Lilith along the way.

She was glad that Lilith approved of the outfit. ”I figured you would only like the best,” Laila said with a small shrug. ”Plus, I think they would look great on you.”

Laila made her way to the bed and began to fix it so that the room looked more organized when they left. As Lilith entered the bathroom, Laila couldn’t help but pause what she was doing, her body freezing as her dark gaze took in the image of Lilith under the soft bathroom light, revealing what the dress had hidden the night before.

When the door closed, Laila looked down at her hands to find that she had been clutching tight to the white fabric. With a deep breath, she snapped herself back to reality and finished making the bed. Those pesky thoughts needed to go, somehow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #8566AA
thought - #C68174 | thought - #8EC6C5






alejandro & connor
dialogue - #003B32 | dialogue - #B7472A
thought - #7CBDC9 | thought - #EB9788




Connor had gotten out of the car as soon as they arrived at the gas station where they’d meet these strange girls. He had calmed down during the ride there and had no energy to fight back, deciding that he’ll just keep to himself and stay in the corner the whole time. He glanced back at Alejandro who was sitting in the car for a brief moment and decided to head towards the small convenience store to waste some time and grab some snacks for the road. He didn’t bother asking his brother if he wanted anything nor cared about letting him know where he was going.

Alejandro has taken the wheel and the two had said goodbye to their parents. As soon as they arrived at the gas station, Alejandro sighed as Connor got out of the car without a word.

Turning off the car, Alejandro followed him inside to get some things to eat. Inside, Alejandro found some snacks.

”Do you want something for the road?” Alejandro asked Connor, who was at the end of the aisle.

Connor noticed that Alejandro had followed him closely behind but paid no attention as his eyes skimmed at the snack options in front of him. It was when Alejandro spoke that he looked over at him and shook his head, ”I’ll grab my own stuff, it’s fine.”

Thankfully Connor had been working a part-time job during most of his time in high school to save up money, which was meant to go towards his solo road trip but here we are. He did a lot of freelancing photography jobs as well as working consistently at their nearby cinema which he mostly loved for the free admissions and late movie nights he and his colleagues got.

Connor’s response didn’t surprise Alejandro, but he told himself at least he asked. Ever since last night, the feeling of regret had stayed at the back of his mind but it was hard to change, even after going through an experience like that. So, Alejandro simply nodded and took some energy bars and water and went to the front.

At the front, he smiled at the cashier and paid. His mother had given them a map of where they could stop overnight, but it really was up to them. Having such an open itinerary kind of scared Alejandro, but he supposed they would figure it out. He just hoped the girls weren’t going to turn out weird.

*

After breakfast at the hotel’s fancy open-bar restaurant, Laila ordered a cab for them from the concierge to take them to where they were supposed to meet. Amanda had said a gas station and Laila had agreed, even though she would’ve liked anywhere else, considering how unaesthetic gas stations were in general. Of course, she didn’t care for herself but for the Reaper that sat next to her in the cab.

When they arrived, Laila thanked and paid the driver. She looked around and spotted the black SUV that the mother had described but didn’t see Alejandro or Connor anywhere in sight. Grabbing onto the straps of the fake-leather backpack, Laila motioned for Lilith to follow her into the convenience store.

They were an interesting sight, the two contrasting each other and somehow drawing the attention of all while still being a cloudy memory in their minds. Inside, Laila spotted Alejandro paying and smiled, giving a small greeting wave instead of walking up immediately so that he could finish paying.

When Alejandro was done, he came up to them. "Hi," He said with a smile. So, these were the girls that had saved him yesterday. "I’m Alejandro. Although, I guess you already know from yesterday?"
Laila nodded and leaned in to give him a hug. Taken back a little, Alejandro’s eyes widened slightly but he quickly returned the hug. Even though he wasn’t used to hugging, there was something about Laila that made him feel comfortable.

"Hi," Laila replied, ”Yes, but it’s really nice to properly meet you. I’m really glad you were able to leave the hospital last night. My name is Laila and this is—”

Laila paused, realizing that she didn’t even know the Reaper’s name and motioning to pass it off as letting Lilith speak for herself. It felt so weird, considering how much had gone down the day before. How could she have felt all of that without even knowing her name?

After experiencing so many luxuries the day before, it wasn’t a surprise that once they walked out of the cab and she saw the gas station, she frowned obviously displeased. Regardless, she kept her mouth shut and followed Laila towards the store, glad that the day wasn’t quite as bright as it was so she could just leave her sunglasses aside for the moment.

The sad soul who should be dead right now, Alejandro, seemed to look much better after a night’s rest. Laila had leaned in to give him a hug which Lilith was not surprised about; Laila was a hugger although she smirked to herself at the thought of asking for one.

Again, Lilith wasn’t really paying attention and glanced around the store. She noticed the angry younger brother who was paying for his things and gave him a wink as he turned to look back at the three. Once Laila stopped talking, she realised it was her cue and with a flirtatious smile she added, ”Lilith, I own your soul so we should get better acquainted no?” Leaning in ever so slightly, although not for a hug, she stared at Alejandro as if she was looking into his soul, which quite frankly she was. It seemed to be holding on well, but something was obviously off about it since it wasn’t technically meant to still be in the body.

Lilith, Laila repeated in her mind as the Reaper introduced herself.

Alejandro gulped as he heard Lilith’s words. His heart started to beat fast and he found himself unable to look away from her gaze. Somehow, it felt like every word she said was true even though, of course, it was ridiculous if he thought about it for more than a second. If it had been a human saying that, of course, Alejandro would’ve backed out of it, not caring about what his parents said for once in his life but, for some reason, he found himself unable to.

Laila watched the interaction that followed and her eyes opened wide. At Lilith’s question, Laila gave out a warm laugh and placed her hand on Lilith’s shoulder trying to lighten the atmosphere, "She’s cute, isn’t she?"

With a breath, Laila motioned to Connor and asked, "Is that your little brother?"

When Alejandro did look away, he nodded at Laila’s words. "Yeah, that’s Connor."

Laila smiled and waved again.

"Well, I think Lilith and I will go get some snacks for the road. I’ll meet you in your car?"

Alejandro nodded, "Yeah, of course. I’m going to fill the tank and we can head out." With that, he made his way out the door, glancing back briefly at the two girls.

Lilith had the sudden urge to step closer to Alejandro but a warm hand on her shoulder stopped her and the tension that was between them was broken by a laugh. With that she stepped back and smiled, giving a little peace sign as if to approve of the cute comment.

The two mentioned the younger brother, Connor who was now just simply awkwardly standing by the exit with a bag of snacks.

As Alejandro made his way out of the store, she looked over at Laila and smiled, ”He’s good looking that’s for sure, it’s a shame his insides aren’t as nice.” With that statement Lilith walked towards Connor leaving Laila behind.

Connor who was observing the three from afar felt extremely uncomfortable by the situation. Firstly, the girls were strangers and it seemed like even his brother didn’t know them well enough. Secondly, there was something off about them that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. As he sighed and watched his brother leave, the one dressed in all black (again) was now heading towards him. He didn’t know why but he had the urge to run and his body immediately tensed up as soon as she was close.
Lilith could tell that Connor was uncomfortable. She assumed it was because around normal humans whose souls were stable, they had an innate negative reaction against her as a Reaper. Since human bodies are wired to sense danger, it was no surprise that their bodies reacted like so when they came across her. Usually, she’d be in and out so it wouldn’t really impact too many people, but standing here now as a Human, she was by far going to be causing a lot more trouble just by existing.

”So you’re the angsty younger brother,” she started, ”I got to say, you’ll probably be living a long life with that clean soul of yours but who’s to say really.”

Connor furrowed his brows, not really understanding what she was saying but regardless he felt like he couldn’t walk away. As he opened his mouth to respond, he simply closed it again since he had no idea how to reply to that.

It didn’t surprise her that Lilith had been flirtatious with Alejandro, it seemed to be her thing. However, it unsettled her, maybe because Alejandro was her assigned human and, even though his soul was safe for now, a deeper part of Laila knew that she had to protect him from her. Yes, it’s probably that, Laila thought, not wanting to think much about it. With one glance at Connor, who was approached by Lilith, Laila went to get some snacks herself. Normally, she would just pull them out from her backpack, but with the humans now around, it would just be best to keep things more on the "human" side.

Laila quickly went out to pick some snacks. Unfortunately, gas stations didn’t have chocolate-covered strawberries, but she did her best to pick things she thought Laila would like. When she was done, she quickly paid and headed up to Connor.

"Hi, I’m Laila," she introduced herself with a bright smile. "I see you’ve met Lilith already. So, I guess we should get going? We've got a long way to California."

Connor was saved by the other girl, Laila thankfully and simply just nodded at her. It seemed like the invisible force that was keeping him from running away from Lilith was somehow broken as soon as Laila entered the picture. Regardless, he made his way towards the exit with the girls following closely behind and to the car where Alejandro was.

Alejandro was waiting for them inside of the car. He had pulled out his phone and was looking at the map to know which exit they had to take in order to head north. His mother had told him of a small beach town where they could stop and find a nice place for the night.

He watched as they came into the car and put on his seat belt. To think that yesterday he was playing his last game. He had talked to his teammates and, apparently, their team had lost. He had received the message a few seconds ago and, with the wave of disappointed that overcame him, he supposed it was a good thing to be on this road trip after all. Perhaps it would help him forget a little about soccer, even if just for a moment. The game was such an integral part of his identity that he wasn’t sure how but he really hoped his mother was right.

Once everyone was inside, he looked over at his brother in the passenger’s seat and briefly back at the girls, "Ready?"

With that, he shifted the car into drive. No matter how this trip went, he knew it would be a long one.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #8566AA
thought - #C68174 | thought - #8EC6C5






alejandro & connor
dialogue - #003B32 | dialogue - #B7472A
thought - #7CBDC9 | thought - #EB9788




The group had been driving for several hours. They had passed various sceneries along the highway, from Florida’s swampland to uncultivated land with cows and horses to dense forests to high bridges where you could see the buildings or water underneath and felt as if you were touching the sky.

All throughout it, Alejandro had been fighting with Connor over music. With two very different tastes, every couple of songs the genre did a one-eighth turn. Laila had sat quietly, contemplating the view from the window. It was so fascinating to see how, in the matter of a few hours, they had seen so many different landscapes and they hadn’t even left the state yet.

It was around five when they reached the first small town where they were supposed to rest for the night. The highway exit took them into suburbain homes, their one- and two-floor buildings carefully planned out so that it all looked uniform. In a way, suburbs reminded Laila of her own home. Organized, clean, planned.
A few blocks down, they reached the end of the road and took a right. Laila’s eyes widened as she saw the beach.

”Lilith, we have to go to the beach tonight,” she said.

Alejandro heard them and figured Laila must love the beach but was surprised by her excitement. After all, she lived in Florida. Well, perhaps she hadn’t grown up by the coast where the beach is easily accessible.

”Well, I think we should stop somewhere to eat before finding a place for the night,” Alejandro said, looking at the time. He had been eating his snacks and drinking his water all along, but his stomach was calling for actual food. After all, they hadn’t stopped to eat lunch.

He kept driving until he reached a road lined with buildings, including hotels, family-owned restaurant, and stores showcasing everything from boutique clothing to antiques. Laila read all of the sign. She saw some beautiful things through the shop windows, thankful that the speed limit was very low and Alejandro had to drive slowly compared to when out on the highway.

”How about there?” Laila asked, seeing an Italian restaurant up ahead that looked very cute.

Lilith mostly spent the journey in and out of sleep. She didn’t realise how tired her mind was even though physically she was relatively okay. Unfortunately, it seemed like she couldn’t find herself fully able to relax and fall asleep properly and so decided to just keep her eyes closed. The pounding in her head was still going strong and she wondered whether it was just because she wasn’t used to a human body.

Connor, on the other hand, was sitting at the front beside his brother much to his annoyance. To make matters worse they couldn’t even decide on what to listen to since they both had completely different tastes. The bickering was reminiscent of their childhood days and it felt weirdly comforting as if nothing had changed between them.

After what seemed like decades for Lilith, she opened her eyes and a blinked quickly in order to get used to the light. She looked over at Laila who was motioning towards the beach and with a smile she replied ”you can grab a cute bikini from your bag for me then”.

Lilith’s stomach rumbled quietly as Alejandro mentioned grabbing something to eat. ”Laila, I thought humans eat three meals a day?” she asked the Angel who just awkwardly laughed as if she was joking.

Connor glanced behind him at the two girls and shook his head to himself, they were definitely weird. The Italian restaurant that Laila was mentioning did, however, get his attention. ”Italian sounds good to me.”

Alejandro nodded, thankful that Connor had agreed to the restaurant without a fight. Part of him was embarrassed to be fighting with him in front of the girls, the other part forgot that they were there whenever they started fighting over the music. He didn’t think he could fight over something like that throughout all the trip; he would have to figure something out.

Laila figures that, at some point, she would have to talk to Lilith about what was appropriate to say around humans and what wasn’t. She just wasn’t sure whether Lilith was doing it innocently or on purpose but, either way, it was always easier when the humans didn’t suspect a thing.

Driving up to the restaurant, Alejandro parked the car and got out.

”So, are you two from Florida?” He asked as they walked up. He needed to learn more about them if they were going to continue.

”No, but I’ve lived here most of my life,” Laila replied. It was better to keep things as vague as possible.

Alejandro nodded and turned to Lilith. Every time he looked at her, he felt something weird on his chest. ”And you, Lilith?”

Connor got out of the car and quietly followed behind the group, making sure he was maintaining some distance between them. However, hearing Alejandro asking the girls some questions that he was curious to know he stepped forward to close the gap.

Lilith smiled at Alejandro and gave a small shrug, ”I’m not really tied down to any one place, but Laila convinced me to stay and help her out,” she said carefully. Looking over at Laila she gave her one of her signature smirks as if to say look I’m behaving.

Laila saw Lilith’s smirk and returned a small smile, thankful that the Reaper had trolled with a... human answer. At least for now.

Alejandro nodded, ”You two must be really close then.”

Laila didn’t say anything and instead turned to Connor, who had approached them, with a small smile. She had read his file but his information had been more limited to her since he wasn’t her human.

”Your mom told me that you’re going to be visiting different universities,” she said, ”What are you planning on studying?”

Lilith released a quiet laugh at the mention of the two being closed, ”I’m sure we’ll only just get closer from here onwards.”

Connor was slightly disappointed at their response, especially Lilith’s since she really didn’t give any information away that could help him. Laila at least gave a location, but even then, it wasn’t much to go on. He was caught off guard, however, when she asked him a question instead.

”Photography,” he simply stated, not wanting to go be rude and not reply but also not wanting to carry out a conversation either.

Alejandro raised an eyebrow at the answer and looked over at Connor as they entered the restaurant, holding the door open for them.

He heard Connor’s short response. So, he had gone with photography after all. He now understood a little better why his parents had mentioned arguing with Connor throughout the past months over college. For him, however, he didn’t see anything wrong with that; good little brother was a really good photographer.

”That’s really cool, Connor,” he said before going up to the hostess and asking for a table of four.

Laila agreed with a nod. She needed to understand Connor a little better to help and she needed to get the siblings to talk.

”That is. What kind of photography do you take?”

Connor mumbled a thank you to his brother as he walked through the door and shrugged at his positive comment. It was nice to get a positive response to his choice after all the arguing with their parents even if it came from Alejandro. ”Thanks,” he repeated, except this time it sounded genuine.

As the group waited for a table, he turned his attention to Laila who had asked him a follow up question much to his dismay. ”I don’t really have a preference, I tend to like taking photos of people just doing their thing and day to day life,” the corner of his lips twitched upwards subconsciously as he walked about his passion, ”I mostly work on film so the effect it gives it makes even the basic things seem more special.”

Laila loved to see the change in Connor as soon as he started talking about photography; it was that same look children had when showing off their favorite toy.

”That’s so unique, you’ll have to show me sometime,” she said, taking a seat on one side of the booth while Alejandro took the other side. ”I’m sure you’ll have many opportunities to take photos during this trip.”

The waiter introduced himself and sweet the menus down for them, leaving to give them some time to look over the food. Alejandro picked up one of the menus and started to look through it.

Laila did the same, her eyes reading over the letters. She hadn’t had lasagna in some time.

Lilith wondered who she should sit with, but after quickly realising that it may be more helpful for Connor to side besides his brother, she took a seat beside Laila and shuffled in closer so that their shoulders were touching. ”Do they have chocolate – covered strawberries here?” She asked Laila, her eyes skimming the incomprehensible menu.

Connor watched as Lilith sat beside Laila and so took the only available seat beside Alejandro, although he wasn’t complaining since he much rather sit with someone he actually knew. However, Laila’s encouraging response made him feel slightly validated and he smiled back warmly. ”Yeah I can show you some of my stuff.”

Laila was glad Lilith sat next to her. After all, Alejandro needed to get closer to his brother one way or another. When Lilith scooted closer to her, she glanced over for a moment, biting her lip as she felt the cool brush of her shoulders. Laila quickly raised the menu for a moment so that her face was less visible to those around her.

After a deep breath, she put it back down, as if just having made her decision.

”Great, I’m looking forward to it!” she said to Connor with a smile.

Then, she turned to Lilith. ”Not here, but you should get the gnocchi.”

Alejandro has made his decision as well. He was surprised how open Connor was to showing Laila his photography. It hurt him to think that, if he asked, Connor would just brush him off. ”The fettuccini Alfredo sounds really good too,” he said, putting down his menu and looking towards Lilith.

Lilith gave a small pout as Laila broke her food dreams of eating more of those sweet treats but regardless, she looked at the menu, mostly at the pictures and struggled to decide what to get. As Laila recommended a dish called gnocchi which she whispered under her breath in trying to pronounce it, Alejandro also chimed in.

Looking between the two she tapped her index finger against the table in thought for a few seconds. ”Okay, I can’t say no to a recommendation by such a handsome guy like you so sure, Fettuccini Alfredo.”

Connor was somewhat amused by this interaction, he felt as if Lilith was a child and the two were her parents of some sort. A weird combination of people had come into his life, including his brother who he felt like he didn’t know anymore. ”I’ll just get a small Margherita pizza”, he looked over at Lilith and added, ”Lilith you can have a slice too to taste if you want.”

Alejandro grinned at Lilith’s response. There was still something about her that terrified him, made him want to run away, to make his stomach drop, but there was something else that called him to her. Almost like a feeling of luring one into a peaceful sleep.

Remember this isn’t about you, it’s about helping Alejandro, a small voice in Laila’s mind said as she heard Lilith’s response, You tried that last night and you saw how it worked out for you.

Thankfully, the waiter came up to them to take orders. Laila ordered her lasagna and Alejandro ordered two plates of Alfredo.

Lilith smiled, glancing around the restaurant. It was small and quaint as Laila may have described it but it didn’t really fit her. That wasn’t a surprise though as the Reaper always wore heels wherever she went and would only wear clothes that would cost well over an average human’s budget. Her sunglasses remained next to her hands and she fiddled around with it as she contemplated whether to put them on or not; her migraine was getting worse.

Connor noticed Lilith reaching towards the sunglasses and asked, ”is there a particular reason why you wear them indoor?” He motioned towards the black shades, ”I couldn’t help but notice you wearing them back at the hospital.”

With her elbows on the table, Lilith rested her head on hands and smiled at him. ”I’ve always been in darkness so my eyes aren’t accustomed to these bright lights,” she left it there and looked back over at Alejandro.

”So, how did it feel nearly dying?” She was curious to his response, ”did you see a light?” Lilith found it funny when humans believed there was a light as they were dying. There was a light to some extent, but it came from the soul the Reaper was taking out from there body and once removed there was only darkness, Lilith’s favourite.

Connor’s question was interesting. Laila, of course, had noticed the sunglasses but hadn’t thought much about their purpose. Angels were being of the light so even the brightest or hottest day did not bother her, but she supposed it was different for Reapers, who lived in a much darker part of the world.

"I-" Alejandro was taken back by such a direct question. He still couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that something like that had happened to him; as an athlete, he had to take care of his body and was constantly going through physicals to ensure his health. The doctors too had mentioned how odd it had been and, therefore, had attributed it to stress. "I didn’t expect it since I’ve never had health issues."

He thought for a moment. He couldn’t remember anything well after he passed out until he woke up at the hospital. However, the thought made him feel a chill go down his back and, for the briefest of moment, Laila and Lilith appeared to blur in his vision.

"I might have… " he said, shaking his head. He really preferred not to talk about it. "I can’t remember well, honestly."

He did remember his last thoughts and his eyes shifted to Connor briefly.

Laila had never been able to ask what a human felt during his last moments before death nor did she know if the souls remembered their passage way into the afterlife, so the question fascinated it. However, she never liked her children to think about death too much; danger was always such a present with them that Laila just tried to make things easier for them. She hoped their food would come in quickly.

"So, what do you do, Lilith?" Alejandro asked, trying to make conversation. There was something about the two girls he couldn’t quite pin down but, while he felt a certain comfort around Laila, he wasn’t sure what to make of Lilith.

Hearing Alejandro talk about his near-death experience was interesting, although his response wasn’t as dramatic as Lilith would have liked. ”That’s the thing about death, no one can escape from it even if you’re ‘young’ or ‘healthy’” she added quotation marks around the terms, and with a big smile added, ”you’ve escaped it for now but no matter, your soul will be claimed so,” she gave a small nod towards his younger brother, ”you should thank your Guardian who fought for you to come back.”

Lilith felt a pang in her chest that she couldn’t describe, was it the leftover transference from Alejandro’s soul? She shook her head to herself, no this seemed different somehow. She quickly brushed off the feeling, putting it down to the fact that she was still adjusting to her human body.

Whilst Alejandro was replying to Lilith’s question about dying, Connor felt himself grow more and more uncomfortable with the topic. It reminded him of his initial reaction of worry and guilt thinking that his brother was going to die leaving their relationship in ruins. Glancing over at Laila and Lilith, he was secretly grateful that they had been there that day to save Alejandro but something about Laila’s personality made him think she was the one who had done something, and perhaps Lilith helped after. Again, this was all just a mess of thoughts which he didn’t want, especially since this road trip was meant to be for fun and freedom. What’s taking the food so long?
”Oh aren’t you a curious one,” she chuckled, ”keep this up and I’ll think you have a thing for me.” Lilith joked but kept her eyes locked on Alejandro. When she smiled, it seemed as if she was after something, there was something quite mischievous about it compared to Laila who exuded warmth and love.

”It’s complicated, but ironically I’m in the business of Death,” she glanced over at Laila before looking back at Alejandro, ”but if I tell you, I’m going to have to kill you so.” She put a finger to her lips and winked.

Laila wanted to kick Lilith under the table as she went on about death in a way she expected no normal human to speak. Why did Reapers have to be so… morbid at times?

Connor echoed her thoughts as he mentioned the food, her eyes glancing over at the waiter who was moving between tables, praying that the food got here fast.

"Perhaps," Alejandro replied simply with a raised eyebrow.

He was used to being around women, his position in the soccer team and amongst people his age meant that he wasn’t a stranger to flirty behavior, but this was something completely different than he had ever experienced. Lilith was a weird mix between elegance and what he associated goth as. Her answer to what she did was not helpful in calming the nerves he was starting to feel.

The water came over to their table with their drinks and a basket of garlic bread. Alejandro secretly laughed at the thought that perhaps Lilith would be repulsed by the garlic; at this point, if she told him that she was a vampire, he might’ve believed her.

Laila quickly took her glass of water and drank some of it. She never had to deal with something like this; it was always the humans that posed trouble but now she had a Reaper to look after. Nonetheless, Laila couldn’t help but feel bothered by the suggestion that Alejandro would end up liking Lilith.

"I will be back with the food shortly," the waiter announced, much to Laila’s relief.

"So, I guess we have to look for a place to stay tonight," Laila said, trying to shift the conversation as she picked up a piece of bread. "Do you guys know anywhere we could stay?"

Alejandro glanced at Connor and shook his head, "No, not really, but we can look around."

Laila nodded. "Sounds good. I’m guessing we can take some time to explore the town, no? Might as well, since we’re already here."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #8566AA
thought - #C68174 | thought - #8EC6C5






alejandro & connor
dialogue - #003B32 | dialogue - #B7472A
thought - #7CBDC9 | thought - #EB9788





Lilith looked over at Laila and felt like she could almost hear her saying can you please try harder? She patted her knee gently and told herself that she needed to actual think before she speaks but that was hard for someone who had no filter.

The waiter brought a basket of garlic bread which Lilith was not a fan of mostly because of the strong smell. She started at it for a moment contemplating whether she should try it out, perhaps the taste was better than the smell but decided against it.

Connor on the other hand grabbed a slice of the garlic bread and took a bite. It was only until he finished it in two bites that he realised how hungry he actually was. He glanced around the restaurant which wasn’t that busy before looking back at the garlic bread. With the mention of accommodation, he looked over at Alejandro who responded first, with a quiet cough he added ”I think there’s this beachside motel near here, I remember seeing it online when I was brainstorming the road trip.” My road trip, he added in his head.

The mention of a beach perked up Lilith’s ears and she quickly bumped her shoulder against Laila’s, ”You’ll take me right?” She leaned in closer to Laila and pouted ever so slightly.

The sound of a motel didn’t exactly make Laila happy. She wouldn’t have minded had it just been her but with Lilith with her, part of her worried that the Reaper would get mad if they ended up in a run-down room, especially after last night’s luxurious stay.

"We can check it out," Alejandro said with a small nod, grabbing a piece of bread from himself. He didn’t care about staying in a motel either but taking one look at Lilith’s clothes told him that the young woman might not be too thrilled about the idea. "But maybe we should look at other options? Perhaps a nicer hotel, within our budget range?"

It was as if Alejandro had read Laila’s mind and she smiled at him in response. "Yeah, that sounds good."

The waiter came back with their food, setting down the plates.

She turned to look at Lilith as she gently bumped into her. All the touching was going to start messing up with her mind.

"Of course we can go to the beach," Laila replied with a smile. "Do you guys mind figuring out the sleeping situation, then?"

Connor shrugged at the response to the motel, but by glancing over at Lilith it wasn’t a surprise. All three had the same thought which was almost funny to him.

Lilith, however, frowned at the thought, mostly because she didn’t quite understand that a motel wouldn’t be as same as the hotel that she had stayed in the previous night.

With the arrival of the food, Connor immediately grabbed a slice and took a large bite, savouring the taste of the fresh mozzarella. He glanced over at Alejandro and motioned towards his pizza, ”You can try a slice.”

Connor kept himself happy with his pizza even though secretly he was not looking forward to having to spend time alone with his brother. But then again, he couldn’t really say no to Laila and put them in an awkward position, so he bit his tongue and simply nodded.

Laila’s approval of going to the beach caused Lilith to break out into a big smile. She was excited to experience going into the water and just generally having some fun, as well as the thought of her obviously teasing Laila. The plate of alfredo looked and smelt delicious, not like the garlic bread and she felt her human salivatory glands activate.

Lilith tapped on her fork but looked over at Laila with expecting eyes, she motioned towards the fork and then tapped her lips as if to say feed me.

Alejandro was surprised at Connor’s offer. The trip was already proving to be much more unexpected than he thought. "Thanks," he said with a smile, reaching out to grab the smallest piece so that he didn’t feel like he was taking too much. "You can have some of my pasta, if you want."

Alejandro took a bite of the pizza, a soft mm leaving his lips in approval. After the second bite, put the slide down on his plate in order to try his pasta.

Laila couldn’t deny that she wished Lilith smiled like that more often. Thinking that there would be no further problem now that the food was here, she began to eat her pasta. However, she felt Lilith’s gaze on her and she turned to look to see what was wrong.

Her eyes widened slightly at the insinuation. Laila’s eyes looked over at the guys sitting in front of them. The only reason she hesitated was the thought of what they would think or say if they saw her feeding Lilith.

The memories of last night game back to her, however. Lilith’s lips had been so close to her fingers… Laila blinked, shaking the images away. Right, she was supposed to have forgotten that moment.

"What?" She asked Lilith in a tone low enough so that only she could hear.

Connor smiled slightly at Alejandro and rolled his eyes as his brother took the smallest piece. However, it wasn’t in a malicious way more like an oh he hasn’t changed nostalgic kinda way. He almost forgot the two girls were sitting right in front of them until he looked over to see a pouty Lilith and an uncomfortable - looking Laila. ”Everything okay?”

Lilith crossed her arms across her chest and leaned back against the chair. In response to Connor she sighed, ”Laila introduced me to new foods by feeding me,” she looked at her with her best sad eyes, which frankly was quite good since Lilith is good at pretending.

Connor coughed at the reply and quickly took a sip of water. What is their relationship?” He thought to himself in confusion.

Alejandro looked up from his plate as he heard Connor speak. His eyes widened slightly as Lilith’s response, feeling a piece of pasta get stuck at the back of his throat. Like his brother, Alejandro quickly reached out to take a long sip of his tea.

Laila’s cheeks turned slightly red as she heard Lilith’s response and felt the boys’ eyes on her.

"She can be such a baby sometimes," Laila responded but her tone was sweet and there was a small, playful smile on her lips. There was something about Lilith that made her forget that she was here for official purposes.

Laila used her own fork to twist up a long piece of Lilith’s pasta and held it up, close to Lilith’s mouth. She waited for Lilith to eat the piece before leaning in close to her ear and whispering, "You should’ve gone with the gnocchi."

Laila didn’t mean to, but her lips brushed against the soft skin of Lilith’s ear and she pulled back, wishing they were alone and not out in the open for all to see. She knew, of course, she shouldn't have been thinking that at all.

As soon as Laila called her a baby, she squished her cheeks cutely as acknowledgement. Luckily, she didn’t need to pout or go on a hunger strike as Laila used her fork and offered her a bite. Lilith ate it happily as she savoured the creamy taste. ”Don’t be jealous, the food is only delicious because you feed it to me,” she whispered back into her ear.

Connor felt like he shouldn’t be looking at them but at the same time couldn’t tear his eyes away from the scene. He almost felt like it would have been less awkward if it was just him and Alejandro together for dinner and glanced over at him.

Laila felt something in her stomach as Lilith spoke back to her. She wondered if those were the “butterflies” she had read that human bodies felt. It was so long ago since Laila read about those kinds of things; the textbooks she had to review on a normal basis were very different.

Alejandro was intrigued at the scene. He really had never seen an interaction like the one before him; the girls were so different, yet there seemed to be something that connected them. Something that made them stand out from everyone else he had known.

Laila twisted up another bite of fettuccini but, this time, she took the bite. It had been a long time since she had Alfredo.

Seeing the chance, Alejandro asked, "So, are you two like close friends?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Laila Miller Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #E5AB09 | dialogue - #8566AA
thought - #C68174 | thought - #8EC6C5






alejandro & connor
dialogue - #003B32 | dialogue - #B7472A
thought - #7CBDC9 | thought - #EB9788




Connor held back a laugh as he heard Alejandro’s question. He was curious about their response but also at the same time wanted to be like, they must have known each other for a long enough time to be that close.

Lilith gaze was solely on the alfredo that Laila was twisting up and as she opened her mouth in expectance, she watched as Laila took the bite instead. ”Laila!” She poked her waist and looked away.

Her attention fell back to Alejandro who had asked about their relationship with one another. ”I mean what do you mean by close?” She looked over at Laila for a brief second before her eyes went back to Alejandro.

”We’ve only recently been acquainted and it was a surprise one since she pretty much got in a way of one of my…cases at work,” she took a sip of water before continuing, ”I think she was close to throwing punches, weren’t you Laila?” She asked the Angel as she laughed.

Alejandro expected Lilith to say they had known each other their whole lives by the way they interacted. They had a very weird dynamic that he couldn’t understand to have only known each other for a little time.

"I see," Alejandro said, raising an eyebrow. He couldn’t imagine Laila throwing any punches. Lilith neither, she was bold but she was the kind to fight with words.

Alejandro didn’t know either well enough though and wondered who they really were. He wanted to keep asking questions but he decided to just take a bite of his food. He had a lot of time to ask.

Laila let out a small giggle when Lilith poked her side and, even though Lilith could have answered differently - couldn’t the Reaper just lie and make something up?, she thought- there was nothing she could do. Laila would have to sit down to get their stories straight later, she supposed.

When Lilith asked a question her way, Laila shrugged and took another bite of her food.

A part of Connor wasn’t surprised at Lilith’s response since the girls were both weird, so why would he be expecting a normal response in the first place? He watched as Lilith continued to pout as Laila took another bite of her pasta and chuckled quietly. ”Have a slice of my pizza Lilith,” he carefully put a slice on her plate, hoping she wouldn’t ask him to feed her as well.

Lilith was being pouty admittedly and as she watched Laila take another bite, she shuffled away from her to create more of a gap between them. As Connor offered her a slice, she smiled and accepted it, watching the cheese pull as he separated one out for her. She had noticed he was eating it with his hands but something about all the sauce made her feel like she probably wouldn’t find that comfortable, so she used her fork and knife to cut out a small piece and took a bite. Her eyes lit up at the taste, the tomato sauce had a slight tartness to it that made her want to smack her lips.

Connor was secretly glad at the positive reaction and carried on eating his food. The group fell into a quiet but comfortable silence as they finished off their dinner.

Just before the group finished off their dinner, Connor had excused himself to go to the restroom and ended up secretly paying. He thought he might as well pay for the first dinner at least since it was initially his road trip. He didn’t think much off it and as he re-joined the group who had finished, he glanced over at the clock on the wall, realising how late it was getting.

”I guess we should get going now.”

Lilith who had ended up taking stealing back her plate of Alfredo had finished it in peace. ”Don’t we need to pay? I mean I’m all for just running out of here…” she looked at the uneasy reactions from the group and laughed, ”I’m kidding,” she added, but secretly she wasn’t.

”It’s cool, I paid on the way back so.” He shrugged and ignored Lilith’s oooh , feeling slightly uncomfortable with the attention.
Once that was settled, the group made their way out of the restaurant. The sky was much darker compared to when they had first walked in, so a considerable amount of time had gone by. Lilith found it odd, the concept of human time since everything seemed to move so quickly. As they awkwardly stood around, no one wanting to be the first to open their mouths, Lilith decided she’d just take the initiative and tell the boys the plan.

Earlier Laila had mentioned going to the beach whilst the boys went to look for accommodation, so she simply echoed her words. ”Okay, so angsty brothers, why don’t you look for a decent place to stay that isn’t … well, that I won’t complain about and Laila and I will just chill at the beach.

Connor was dreading this next part, he rather just go about it alone or even chill with the weird girls than have to deal with the awkwardness of being with his brother alone. But by the looks of Lilith’s face, he really couldn’t reject the idea without a decent excuse. And even then, he was sure she’d just intimidate him to go with what she’s saying in the first place.

”Alright, Mom gave us your number Laila so I guess we’ll just text you the address.”

Lilith nodded and intertwined her arms with Laila’s, pulling her away. As she waved back at the boys, she smiled brightly at the thought of experiencing an actual beach, and of course, teasing Laila.

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Character Portrait: Lilith Character Portrait: Laila Miller
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laila & lilith
dialogue - #b7472a | dialogue - #8566aa
thought - #eb9788 | thought - #8EC6C5




By now, the sky had turned dark. Laila was slightly disappointed that they weren’t able to watch the sunset, a grand spectacle of colors, but she figured it would happen one of these days. The sky was always such a symbol of hope for her; a reminder that, despite the dark times, there was always a clear, blue sky at the end.

Laila didn’t say anything as she made their way down to the beach. On the street, they passed other buildings. The stores had closed down by now and, through the restaurants windows, you could see people. It was a rather small and calm town; Laila wondered if she would ever have to be sent here. Laila hoped not. She hoped that this, in this town, children didn’t have to worry.

As they came up to the beach, she noticed that there really weren’t any cars in the parking lot. She wondered how people, living so close to a beach, wouldn’t come to enjoy it at every moment but didn’t keep thinking about it as the ground underneath her changed from wooden boardwalk to sand.

Laila paused and took off her white sneakers and socks, putting them inside of her backpack.

"Take your shoes off," she told Lilith, holding her hand out to take them. "It’s much better to walk without them."

As they walked down the street, Lilith quietly hummed to herself out of excitement. The small town seemed quite quaint and cute and compared to how she viewed everything as so fast with human time, the town instead had a slow-paced vibe about it.

She saw the sandy beach ahead of her come closer and closer, and with a smile she had a sudden urge to run into it but kept herself from doing so. Lilith watched Laila as she took of her shoes and looked down at her own black heels. ”You’re right, I wouldn’t want to get them dirty,” she exclaimed, kicking them off one foot at a time. She leaned down to pick them up and handed it over to Laila.

”Feels better?” She raised an eyebrow before stepping further into the sand and wiggling her toes. Yes, there was something nice about the sensation of sand under her feet and she enjoyed. Lilith noticed the shore up ahead and released a quiet giggle like a child. ”Let’s go for a swim!” She yelled before running up ahead, clutching at her black dress so she could move without worrying about falling.

Laila took the shoes and put them in her bag. She heard Lilith and scream and laughed, surprised at how the Reaper’s cold exterior melted with something like sand and saltwater.

Laila Ram up to catch up with her, kicking up and behind them. She could hear the soft crashing of the waves as she came up to the shore. The beach was empty all around them. When she got close to the water, Laila stopped.

She looked at the dark water ahead and her eyes widened. She felt a wave of fear as she looked on into the darkness. Laila wasn’t necessarily afraid of the dark but, being a creature of light, the dark expense of water unsettled.

"I-" she gulped hard. "I don’t think I can."

Lilith was just itching to get into the water. Something about the waves fascinated her and since she’s never experienced anything like this, she wondered how it would feel. Her body felt like it was on a high, as Lilith felt her first experience of having an adrenaline rush as a human. However, as she looked back to see Laila, she noticed that she didn’t look as excited but rather Lilith saw an expression, she was well familiar with. Fear.

Stepping back so that Lilith was right beside Laila, she slipped her hand into hers and squeezed it. ”I thought you wanted me to experience how it’s like to be human…I can’t do that without you.” Although Lilith didn’t want to pressure her into anything, since that wasn’t who she was; she still wanted Laila to have new experiences and loosen up a little.

”The darkness isn’t always so scary,” she spoke softly, watching the waves crash. Lilith felt a strong pull towards the dark water, it was the closest she’s felt like she had belonged since being human. She released her grip on Laila’s hand and stepped forward, ”It’s okay, stay in the light,” she smiled ever so slightly.

With a deep breath in, Lilith calmly walked towards the water. She let the waves pull her in and before she knew it, she was walking further and further until the water reached her chest. Lilith looked up at the dark sky and released a breath of relief as she felt her muscles relax once more. A few moments went by before she felt the urge to go in further increase, and without looking back at Laila she dunked her head into the water and swam into the water. She’ll be fine, I’ll only be a moment.

Laila could hear her heart pound. Her eyes didn’t move from the waves as Lilith spoke. Her words echoed in her mind, almost like a sweet lullaby. The darkness isn’t always so scary.

Laila watched as Lilith moved ahead. With her back turned to her. Lilith’s black hair and dress blended in with the darkness around her. She would only see the brief outline and, a second later, Lilith submerged herself under water.

For a second, Laila’s eyes opened wide, her eyes searching for her figure. She’s okay, she’s safe, Laila told herself, taking a deep breath. The waves would never be strong enough to pull her down.

She put down her backpack, afraid of leaving it there but not wanting to bring it into the water. Keeping on her white t-shirt and shorts, she took a few steps forward. The water touched her feet, moving forward and retreating. It felt cool against her skin, oddly comforting in a foreign way.

With a deep breath, she took a few more steps forward to that the water was up to her knees.

"Lilith?" She called out.

The water was dark, but it was comforting to Lilith to be enveloped in such darkness. Being a human was getting to be a lot for her since it was always so bright. But even more so, she wasn’t used to interacting with humans and being on Earth for too long so that was tiring as well.

The silence from just being under the water was calming. The noise of the human world had its fun and exciting moments and whilst Lilith enjoyed it, she also realised she wasn’t meant for it. She kept her eyes closed and felt as if she was being swept away as her thoughts started to become hazy.

Lilith had never questioned her role as a Reaper like some of her colleagues. She would hear them talk about how they’d got into the position, questioning how bad their human life must have been for them to end up a Reaper after dying. She never truly cared and perhaps that was why she was so good at her job. But recently she was getting more and more migraines which were uncommon for Reapers who didn’t necessarily feel anything. Although she never spoke out about it, she heard rumours of Reapers who had regained their human memories going through a similar process and immediately picked up more cases to keep her distracted.

It was no surprise that Reapers were simply broken humans who had died and couldn’t end up anywhere; whether that meant purgatory or moving on with the help of Angels. Their souls were apparently too fragile, too broken for anything of value to be done so they got the choice to disappear forever or be reborn as a Reaper. If this was true, which no one truly knew, Lilith must have chosen to become a Reaper.

As her thoughts quietened down, she couldn’t help but feel an ache in her chest and worse, her lungs feeling as if though they were on fire. Lilith quickly opened her eyes and gazed up at the surface of the water in confusion, not knowing what she was feeling. But her body had weakened under the water and so she couldn’t push herself upwards no matter how hard she tried.

Laila was trying to keep calm but the seconds were passing and Lilith was not resurfacing. Should Laila have explained to Lilith that human bodies couldn’t stay underwater for too long? Her fear for the darkness began to disappear and, instead, it was replaced by the fear that the Reaper was taking too long to come back up for air.

Her adrenaline kicked in, similar to when she had seen Alejandro’s body fall. Without another thought, Laila quickly moved farther from the shore, towards where she had last seen Lilith, her voice calling out once again. She submerged herself as soon as the water reached her elbows but she couldn’t see anything.

Coming back up again, she closed her eyes. Summoning her light wasn’t something she often did in a human body but, almost immediately, her body began to glow from within, her skin emitting a white light.

Laila summered herself again and saw Lilith a few feet ahead, struggling to reach the surface. Immediately, Laila swam and took a hold of her, her legs kicking up to the surface. She didn’t think twice as she took Lilith in her arms and walked them back to the shore, gently setting her down on the sand. She was glad that Lilith was still breathing, thankful that she hadn’t been long enough for her body to shut down.

Laila briefly looked up, seeing that her wings had appeared, the gold-tipped feathers dripping with water. Laila shook them to get the water off before pulling them back, the wings disappearing into her back and her body going back to normal.

"Lilith," Laila said softly, her fingers brushing against her cold cheek before wrapping her arms around the Reaper. "Are you alright?"

After a quiet struggle, her body began to relax again. Lilith didn’t feel the need to struggle anymore and once more she felt like she was closer to the darkness that enveloped her. As her subconscious slowly started to fade away, there was something familiar about the whole process, but she couldn’t put her finger on what it was. There was an odd sensation of déjà vu that started to make her feel uncomfortable and all of a sudden there was a painful sensation around her neck.

Internally Lilith was starting to panic, she felt at peace with the darkness but there was something else. She thought she could see something flashing and her headache was making her ears ring. Stop!”

As this was all happening in her head, Laila had grabbed a hold of her and brought her back to shore. The black dress clung to Lilith as she lay still in silence for a few moments. A voice calling her name had made the ringing in her ears stop and her fingers started to dig into the sand. The flashing lights had faded away and it seemed as though her lungs had realised that she was out of the water as with force she sat up, coughing up water. Lilith blinked, taking deep big breaths in and clutching at her neck as she slowly started to come to reality.

”This…” she mumbled, her voice straining as she continued to cough, ”weak human body”,” she hadn’t looked up at Laila and continued to wheeze. ”No wonder they die so easily.” She added in annoyance.

Lilith’s answer struck a cord at Laila and she pulled back from her embrace. Yes, human bodies were physically and emotionally susceptible to pain but it didn’t mean that they were weak. In fact, for being mortal, their bodies could sustain so much. Their resilience was something Laila admired.

"It’s not a weak body," Laila said, gently pushing the wet strands of hair away from Lilith’s face. "Your human body is still here, breathing, after almost drowning. You’d be surprised what they can survive through."

"Now, I’m surprised you didn’t know humans couldn’t… breathe under water," Laila added, raising an eyebrow. Her tone was a mix between stern, which she used whenever children misbehaved, and amused. "I’m sure there’s something on that in your training."

Lilith wouldn’t truly die; the human body she took on would disappear and Lilith would go back into her original Reaper form, whatever that was. Still, the scene had triggered her guardian side.

Taking a seat beside Lilith, Laila looked up at the moon. "You should be more careful," said with a soft sigh. "If you ever want to go into the water again, I promise I will go with you. Make sure you’re not… drowning yourself again."

After a moment, Laila couldn’t help but ask, "What happened though? You were so excited to get into the water."

Lilith had finally stopped panting and felt the natural rhythm of her breathing come back to normal once more. She looked down at herself and felt the sand cling onto her whole body and sighed, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. As she glanced over at Laila who she felt like was telling her off, she rolled her eyes and mumbled a [i] yes whatever.


”I knew they can drown!” She huffed, ”just didn’t realise how quick it was.” Motioning towards her body she added, ”I’m a Reaper remember.”

Lilith looked over at the sea and still felt that longing to go back to the darkness, but as she glanced at her body she knew that wasn’t an option. She released a quiet laugh as she joked, ”I mean, if I died it wouldn’t it be good for you? No more having to make sure I don’t steal Alejandro’s soul.” She wondered what would happen once she’d return back to management without the soul in her hands.

Laila’s question caught her off guard and frankly speaking Lilith didn’t want to think about it. Yes, she was initially excited and just floating on the water for a while was relaxing. But as she swam in deeper and deeper and let herself be enveloped, her human body shutting down made her mind react in a way she wasn’t comfortable with. There were flashing lights and images, but they were all a blur now. The one thing she could remember was the squeezing sensation around her neck. As she remembered the feeling, her hands instinctively went for her throat.

Sure, Lilith couldn’t breathe because she was under water but something about her throat slowly closing up didn’t seem like it was due to the drowning. She felt something, something she knew all to well, fear. But this time, she felt as if she was feeling it because of something else. She wasn’t scared of the deep waters at all, and even when her body was shutting down due to the drowning she was completely at peace. It was only when Lilith was on the brink of death that something had changed. Something oddly yet dangerously familiar.

”I think it must have just been the human body reacting to whole drowning thing,” she shrugged, raising her knees up for her head to lean on.

Lilith’s question made her think. What would have happened if she had gone? She supposed that another Reaper would’ve been sent down to collect Alejandro’s soul, eventually. Surely, something would happen to Lilith.

Perhaps it would’ve made her job easier, perhaps not. However, Laila didn’t care; something told her this journey wasn’t one for her to take alone.

Something told Laila that the event had much more to do than just... drowning. At least for her, being in a human body amplified emotions. Perhaps Lilith was going through a similar process although she couldn’t know since they were different.

There was a moment of silence between them.

"I suppose," Laila sighed, finally replying to Lilith’s question. "That it would’ve made things easier for me. Maybe. You have a... strong personality.."

After another seconds, Laila gently took Lilith’s chin and turned her head so that she could look at her. Her hand moved to Lilith’s cheek, caressing it with her thumb. "But I wouldn’t want to do this alone, without you."

Laila pulled her hand back and looked up at the sky. "You said the dark was not scary. Angels are not creatures of the night, but maybe you’re right. It’s in the greatest darkness that we can best see the stars shine."

Lilith laughed quietly at Laila’s remark about her personality and nodded in agreement. Her fellow Reapers either hated her or feared her but regardless, they respected her so Lilith never truly cared.

It took Lilith by surprised when Laila caressed her cheek and smiled. The warmth from her fingers felt even better since she was still dripping and Lilith was glad that she didn’t feel the cold otherwise she was sure she’d be freezing right now. Regardless, her human body let out a quiet cough.

The darkness had been her only friend but perhaps Lilith could learn to enjoy the company of others, at least for the time being. She rolled her eyes at Laila’s cheesy remark but smiled,”thats such an angel thing to say,”

Lilith took one last look at the dark sea and stood up. Looking over at Laila and then at her own body, she shook her head suppressing a laugh. ”It would be a good time for that bath you promised me you know.”

"I am an angel after all," Laila chuckled as she reached into her bag and pulled out a towel. "I can’t help it."

She softly patted down Lilith’s hair in order to get rid of some of the excess water before wrapping it over her shoulders. The cough didn’t alarm her too much but she would have to tend to it. Some medicine, a hot drink, a new dry set of clothes would help prevent the cough from developing into something bigger or more concerning.

Laila raised an eyebrow at Lilith’s last comment. Ah, yes. Laila still couldn’t believe she had acted out that way.

"I promised you what?" She asked innocently, reaching into her bag in order to check her phone. Hopefully, the boys had found a good place. "A warm bath would help you. We need to make sure you don’t get sick."

Lilith smiled knowingly at Laila’s innocence and shrugged, ”Do Angels not keep their word?” She asked challengingly. She glanced down at Laila’s phone and nodded towards it, ”I want one, that must be an amazing device since all I see is humans looking down at that all the time, or embarrassingly posing. Not to mention the steady increase in phone - related deaths.

The mention of the boys draws Lilith back to the mission as she had almost forgotten about them. As she sighed loudly, she too hoped that they had found somewhere nice to stay, especially after the luxury she had the previous night.

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Character Portrait: Connor Walker Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
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connor & alejandro
dialogue - #b7472a | dialogue - #003B32
thought - #eb9788 | thought - #7CBDC9




Alejandro watched Laila and Lilith walk away for a few seconds before turning to Connor. Despite his brother appearing to open up a little back in the restaurant, he wasn’t sure how it would go without the other two with them to distract from their friction.

Without the others, however, the air cleared. For him, this was literal. They emitted very strong energies, contrasting but powerful nonetheless, both pulling him in different directions. He couldn’t quite understand it though. He wondered if Connor felt the same way.

Alejandro pulled out his phone from his pocket and opened the maps application, typing in hotel.

Only three results appeared, with two of them being motels.

"There aren’t a lot of hotels here," he said. It made sense considering it was a small town. "Theres one down the street, do you want to go check it out?"

It was a weird feeling not having the girls around. A part of him was semi relieved because he found them exhausting, but still entertaining. The other part wanted them to stay just so he didn’t have to be around his older brother by himself.

He held back a sigh, not wanting to seem too obvious about his feelings of discomfort. He glanced over at Alejandro for a quick second before quickly skimming around his surroundings.

It had gotten dark but there was something nice about the lighting. He was wondering whether he could get some cool shots in when he heard his brother speak.

Without a word, Connor simply nodded and motioned Alejandro to take the lead.

Alejandro headed to the car since he didn’t want to leave it in the restaurant parking lot and have to come back for it later. The drive to the hotel didn’t take more than a five minutes.

Inside, the lobby was nice but it was clearly older than the pictures showed. Still, it was nice and he hoped the girls didn’t have a problem. Well, that Lilith didn’t have a problem because he felt like Laila would be more open to whatever the situation was.

At the front desk, Alejandro greeted the receptionist and asked for two rooms.

"Yes, of course," the lady said, looking into the system. "You’re lucky, we only have two rooms left. Queen beds. Would you like them?"

Alejandro nodded, confirming that the price was within budget, and quickly texted Laila to let her know the hotel directions. He realized they didn’t have Lilith’s phone number which he supposed would be good in case Laila’s died and they weren’t together.

The hotel seemed good enough to Connor but then again, the problem was mostly Lilith. As he followed closely behind Alejandro, he glanced around the lobby.

They got lucky that’s for sure since only two rooms were left. He wondered how awkward the night will continue to be seeing as he would have to share the room. Since Alejandro’s move to college, it’s been quite some time since the two shared the same room.

Connor glanced over at his brother who texted Laila. He wanted the girls to get here quickly so at least he felt a little less awkward.

The woman handed Alejandro a few pages to sign and got his ID checked.

“Here are your keys,” she said, hanging each of them a card key. “Your room is 302. The elevator is to your left. Once you felons come, they can sign for their room.”

Alejandro thanked her and let Laila know through a second text.

“I guess we should go up and check out the room?” Alejandro asked Connor.

Connor was glad they had found a decent place to crash and he was hoping to take a shower and turn in for the night since the whole day seemed to be dragging on. As he watched Alejandro send a text, presumably to Laila he wondered what the girls had been up to while they were looking for a place.

”Yeah, you lead the way,” he responded tiredly.

The two made their way up the elevator. Alejandro didn’t say much else; much like his brother, he just wanted a shower and some sleep. After today, they would have to start breaking up the driving more, now that they were heading out of Florida. He hoped the girls could drive or, at least, one of them or else it would be a much longer trip for Connor and himself.

When they got to their floor, Alejandro passed two doors before getting to theirs. Sliding his card, he pushed the door and stepped inside, expecting a clean, unlit room.

Instead, the first thing he saw was that the lights were on and there were two luggage’s opened on the floor with some clothes strewn on the table. His eyes widened as he heard someone ask if it was room service in an angry tone.

”What the he-,” Connor couldn’t finish his sentence as a large looking angry man walked towards the door.

He glanced over at Alejandro and then back at the man and sighed heavily. ”I guess there was a mix up with the rooms?”

Alejandro spluttered out an apology as he stepped back, placing a hand across Connor as if to instinctively shield him from the man whose fist had balled up. With a quick move, he closed the door again.

He quickly began to walk down the hall, making sure that Connor was with him, as he heard the man scream curses behind them.

Once the man disappeared, Alejandro began to frown in anger as he punched in the elevator button down. He felt both embarrassed at what had happened and also realized that they could have easily gotten themselves into a physical fight all because of a misunderstanding

“Well, back to square one,” He sighed as he stepped into the elevator. There really weren’t many options left except… the motel? The girls probably wouldn’t be too happy.

Once back down at the lobby, the receptionist began to repeat apologizes as she checked on the rooms again.

"I’m so sorry, the system seemed to have a glitch with the reservations," she said. She called her manager over who confirmed that there were no rooms left.

"We can return the money, of course," she explained, "And give you a gift card for compensation due to the mistake, but I’m afraid we cannot accommodate you or your friends tonight. We have availability tomorrow, though."

Alejandro nodded as he was explained. "We’ll be gone tomorrow," Alejandro said, "But thank you for your time."

He turned to Connor, "I guess the motel it is."

He didn’t mind the place for himself but he was worried about the girls’ reactions. It was out of their control, but he didn’t look forward to it.

Maybe the universe was trying to play games with the four since it seemed that every little thing wasn’t going the way it should be.

Connor glanced at the clock on the receptionist wall and suppressed a yawn. It was getting late and the day had already been so long and tiring as it was so at this point all he wanted was a hot shower and a bed to sleep on.

The motel would be fine. It would do the job and they would only be there for the night, so it couldn’t be that bad right?

[color=#b7472a]”I guess we should text the girls the new address.”[/ color] He finally responded. Connor’s plan was to get into his room as soon as possible in order to not be around Lilith for long enough to see what she would do.

Alejandro nodded to Connor's words. The thought certainly wasn't exciting; he had felt lucky when they were told they could have the last two rooms available at the hotel, but he supposed luck just wasn’t something they could count on today.

He pulled out his phone and quickly texted the new address to Laila. Nonetheless, hoped that the motel wasn’t too shabby; at least it wasn’t a $10-a-night motel or those things called hostels where you shared a room with multiple strangers.

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View All » Add Character » 4 Characters to follow in this universe

Character Portrait: Lilith
Character Portrait: Connor Walker
Character Portrait: Laila Miller
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Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
Alejandro Walker

some days it takes a lot of work just to be okay.

Character Portrait: Laila Miller
Laila Miller

the taste of honey.

Character Portrait: Connor Walker
Connor Walker

"i need to get away from here."

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Lilith

"death is my forte"

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Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
Alejandro Walker

some days it takes a lot of work just to be okay.

Character Portrait: Lilith
Lilith

"death is my forte"

Character Portrait: Connor Walker
Connor Walker

"i need to get away from here."

Character Portrait: Laila Miller
Laila Miller

the taste of honey.

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Character Portrait: Laila Miller
Laila Miller

the taste of honey.

Character Portrait: Lilith
Lilith

"death is my forte"

Character Portrait: Connor Walker
Connor Walker

"i need to get away from here."

Character Portrait: Alejandro Walker
Alejandro Walker

some days it takes a lot of work just to be okay.


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