As the school building began to rock, I also felt the fear of the end. The Twelve. Someone was hurting them. My scream echoed off the buckling walls. How could someone do this to the first angels ever created? They had been ruling us since the beginning. The realization that they were gone burned my soul. I felt like the plaster in the walls, cracked and crumbling. We needed the Twelve-
Hugging myself, I dug my nails into the flesh of my arms. I had to see past the link. The Twelve were the worst of the angel-kind. They murdered innocent angels, just for pitying the humans. Their being gone was a good thing. A great thing. I wouldn't be executed now. And neither would Mayon. This past week, I'd been living in complete dread of tomorrow, just waiting for my time to come. But now I free.
A burst of light beside me made think otherwise. Thomas had been my keeper even since I'd been caught with a human. White sparks falling to the floor was all that was left of him now. The grief, which had once just been for the Twelve, now expanded to contain all the other angels that were disappearing just like Thomas. No one was shooting their halos. They just couldn't handle the pain.
Because of the earthquake, and watching a beloved angel burst into light, human students around me were screaming. The teacher was nowhere to be seen. I tried to send each of them calming thoughts, by even my own emotions were too jumbled to help much. Someone yelled my name, and I looked up to see Mayon in the doorway. I crawled over to him slowly- I knew showing off that I was an angel too wouldn't help me right now- and he pulled me to my feet.
We ran from the room just as the ceiling collapsed.
I was no longer able to sense any of the humans from that room. Another wave of grief went through my chest. I wish I'd been able to save them.
Mayon pulled me down the hall and out the door. We now faced the parking lot at the back of the building, and could actually see the ground roll here. I felt him tense, and I squeezed his hand before taking off across the parking lot. The center of the earthquake was most likely Johnson City. We just needed to stay away from all cities. I located his Jeep, glad that I didn't have to waste time fumbling with the doors, and got behind the wheel. He jumped into the passenger's seat just as the tires squealed us from the parking space.
"Thanks." I smiled, looking over at him for a split second. He smiled back softly.
"Get us out of here, babe."
That night, we drove into the Cherokee National Park. In the Iron Mountain zone, we had sat up camp, hoping that we could at least get a few hours of sleep before a ranger found us. Even with Mayon's arms around me, and a warm sleeping bag around us, my mind was still reeling from what had happened earlier. We'd went to the first, and closest, reclusive place we could think of. Being around a city meant being around angels and angel control. With the Twelve gone, that control had went haywire, causing earthquakes, the deaths of half of the angels, and who knew what else.
The pain I felt earlier was muffled now, but still making itself known. I had the feeling as though my mind was limping.
And what would happen to all those children's families? Would they just go on like nothing had happened, knowing that in a cemetery somewhere a member of their family lay, dead too young. I thought the point of angels coming to Earth was so that we could be closer to the people we were assigned to protect. Apparently I was wrong.
My rushing mind finally fell back to what had been bothering me for days now. . . My angel family- sure, we were all family, but these were the angels that actually bid that I be created- would have killed me if I hadn't escaped. Did that mean that any of my abilities as an angel were going to change? I didn't know of anyone else that had ever left their family.
"Render," Mayon whispered. He wasn't psychic like me, but he still knew when something was wrong. His arms tightened around me.
Wait. What had he called me? I sat up and looked at him, pulling the sleeping bag around my shoulders. Render wasn't my name. He seemed to catch himself as well, because he sat up too, a nervous, apologetic smile making my heart ache. My name was-
I didn't know. God, why didn't I know my own name? My heart lept into my throat, and I choked back tears. Throwing myself from the tent, I shifted into my angel form and let my wings pull me from the ground. At least I knew I was still able to fly. The shining halo that had once been over my head was now gone, another side effect of my departure from my family. I beat my wings furiously, willing myself as far from the ground as I could get. I heard Mayon call my name, but I didn't look down at him. I couldn't. I just wanted to be alone. He should just be happy I hadn't caused anyone angel burn since I'd met him. I hadn't fed at all.
I dropped a few yards before realizing that I was even in any danger. I fought with gravity for a few breathless seconds, then fell. I knew that I wouldn't die, but the thought of physical pain added along with my metal pain made my cring. I dropped to the ground with my eyes closed, my wings bent at a painful angle.
Instead of seeing myself falling to the hard ground, my mind's eye filled with images of a sweet-looking boy with sandy hair. His eyes were a beautiful brown, full of kindness. I kept getting eager, expectant feel from him, as if he knew who I was and wanted to see me as soon as he could. I wanted to see him just as bad, because I missed him too. His name was-
"Render, dammit, wake up," Mayon yelled, shaking my shoulder.
I groaned and stirred, but didn't open my eyes. I wanted to see this boy's face for just a bit longer. I cherished this face. His name had left me just as suddenly as it had come, but that didn't really bother me. Just seeing him filled me with a contentment that I hadn't had in a while. I wanted to feel his hand over mine again, his lips close to my ear, whispering how much he loved me. God, I missed him so much.
My eyes opened, and I looked up at Mayon's worried face. Mayon. My arms wound around his neck and I hid my face in his shoulder. I'm sorry, I kept thinking. I'm so sorry. I loved him with all my heart. It was unacceptable that I'd been thinking about another boy. As I began to cry, he picked me up and carried me back to the Jeep.
"Are you hurt?" He sat me half-way in passenger's seat and deftly ran his hands over me, trying to find what the pain was from.
"No," I choked out. "I'm not hurt from falling."
"Then what's wrong?" I shook my head and clung to him without answering. After a moment, he wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head. "Shhh..."
Gavin sighed and sat back in his chair, dropping the already broken link. He'd found her. His heart swelled at the thought of holding her again. She was somewhere in Tennessee, in a forest. It was fitting to him, since he remembered how she looked like a wood nymph. He sighed again in annoyance as Alex entered his room.
"Hey, Gav," the boy said, carrying a book. "We're ready when you are." Gavin nodded, catching the title as Moongazer. Hmm... Interesting choice for a nineteen year-old male human. Willow appeared a minute later, her short, red spikes catching the light.
"Come on, slowpoke," she complained, moving under Alex's arm. "We need to hurry to Nevada."
Without meaning to, Gavin had changed his aura to match Willow's half-angel silver and lavender. He stood, changing his back to its normal bright silver. He was just so used to doing it, since it was the only thing that kept the other angels from killing him for helping Grace escape after they'd sentenced her to death. And now he was with the ground of Angel Killers that had destroyed the Twelve. Smart move, Gav. Smart move.
Willow grabbed his wrist and pulled him out the door, Alex, not far behind them, was laughing. Gav laughed with him, and a small part of his mind was glad that he'd already put his bags in the truck. Willow was much too impatient for her own good. She stepped on a piece of loose stone and fell on her butt not two feet from the truck. Alex instantly was beside her, helping her up, trying to hid the fit of laughter that was breaking from his lips.
"Watch your feet, ballerina," Sam yelled in his Texas accent from the back seat of the Dodge. He was hanging out the window. Kara was beside him, her dark skin glowing in the light. Both of them were grinning. Gavin jumped in the back while Alex and Willow got in the front seats. Drinka, his Redbone Coonhound, laid beside him with her head on his thigh.
Gavin was glad to leave Mexico for the United States, especially since that meant he'd be closer to Grace, but he was also worried. They were going to Nevada. From what Kara had told him about the US, that wasn't even close to Tennessee. He'd have to fly the rest of the way, which wasn't really that bad, it would just take a while.
He rapped on the back glass softly, and it slid back. Sam's face appeared. "What'cha need, flutter?" Gavin rolled his eyes before he could stop himself. Stupid human nicknames.
"Tell Alex we have company."
Sam scowled and stuck his head back in the cab, then appeared again. "Pull over or can you handle it?"
"I got it," Gavin said, pulling his pistol from his bag from under the tarps. He looked up at the small flock of angels coming towards him. They snarled and screamed as they approached. He took a deep breath and aimed for the first's halo.