Chapter 13:

Archangel at the Mall

The Legend of the Pervy Archangel

Two weeks wasn’t a long time. Speaking in terms of relativity, it was only a small drop in the bucket compared to how long humans could live, which was nothing at all compared to how long the earth itself had been around and likely would continue existing. Yes, two weeks really wasn’t a very long amount of time.Bookmark here

And yet, a lot can change in just two weeks. Friendships can be broken up or mended. People can become closer than they ever thought possible, or drift farther away as life takes them in separate directions. Bitter enemies can become, if not friends, then at least neutral acquaintances who don't try to kill each other at every opportunity. Even people who once annoyed the utter living crap out of you can become someone you enjoy spending time with.
Provided it's in small doses.Bookmark here

For Alice, the last two weeks had been an interesting and enlightening experience. She'd learned a good deal about the man who now shared her apartment with her. Aside from the fact that Michael was as crazy as they came, she also learned that he was a genuinely good person… when he wasn't perving out at least. Once she managed to get over the whole “peeping tom and panty thief” issues, she discovered that she and the man who thought he was the Archangel Michael actually got along fairly well. And by fairly well, she meant that she didn't want to wring his neck most of the time.Bookmark here

It was more like half the time.Bookmark here

Okay, so maybe three-quarters of the time.Bookmark here

At least he'd learned to stop sniffing her panties.Bookmark here

Thank God for small miracles.Bookmark here

She had spent a good deal of her time teaching Michael about human culture. Regardless of whether she believed Michael when he told her that he was The Archangel, it had become clear to her that he didn't have any knowledge about how the world worked. He knew nothing of money or why it was important, he didn't know anything about human laws and why you couldn't climb people's fence to peep (a story for another time), and he had no concept of the dos and don'ts of society. In short, he was woefully ignorant. That was why at least half the time they spent together was her teaching him about how humans lived.Bookmark here

Alice had to admit, those times were interesting, if nothing else.Bookmark here

Sunday morning found Alice cooking breakfast. She made the usual fare of eggs, though she'd also been able to add bacon and toast to their morning fare. Since Michael lived with her, at least half the money he made working as a bouncer at Distractions went into the grocery budget. It allowed her to buy a lot more food. Both her pantry and her fridge were now stocked.Bookmark here

Yes, living with Michael had its silver lining. If nothing else, she could be secure in the knowledge that she would not starve to death.Bookmark here

While Alice cooked breakfast, the scent of bacon and eggs wafted along the air currents, toward the open window in the living room. Coincidentally, this also happened to be where Michael slept. The man who thought he was an archangel could be found sprawled out on his back, his arms and legs spread wide, and his mouth hanging open. A trail of drool leaked from his mouth, which, when combined with his snores, made for a somewhat amusing sight.Bookmark here

Michael soon stirred as the smell of food pervaded his nostrils. Loud sniffing noises, like something one might expect from a dog, emanated from him. His nose inhaled deeply, which gave his snozz the appearance of a bull snorting.Bookmark here

Slowly, Michael stumbled to his feet, his form hunched. The man, quite clearly still asleep, lumbered into the kitchen where Alice was cooking.Bookmark here

Alice had not heard Michael come in. She would have turned around if she had. That she hadn't proved that she remained unaware of his presence behind her. At least, until she felt something come to rest on her left shoulder.Bookmark here

A small vein pulsing on her forehead, Alice looked out of the corner of her eyes to see Michael, still partially asleep, leaning his head on her shoulder, taking several huge whiffs of the cooking food.Bookmark here

“Dammit, Michael! Get off me! I can't cook when you're leaning over me like this! And you're drooling all over my clothes!”Bookmark here

“Nnnngg....”Bookmark here

Michael's response was nonsensical. He wasn't all there.Bookmark here

Realizing that if she wanted to get Michael off her, she would have to use force, Alice spun around, making him stumble back, and then brought her fist down upon his head with earth shattering force.Bookmark here

“Grayfield Fist!”Bookmark here

Yes, she named her attack. And why shouldn't she? She used it often enough.
“Kokabiel!”Bookmark here

Michael, now sitting on his rear end, blinked up at the young woman with dazed, confused eyes.Bookmark here

“Alice?”Bookmark here

“Are you awake now?”Bookmark here

Michael yawned as he nodded. He climbed back to his feet, swaying a bit, before he began to stretch.Bookmark here

Alice turned away. She didn't want to see his powerful arms as they were raised above his head, or the way his shirt stretched across his chest and shoulders. And she most definitely didn't want to see his rock hard abs peeking out from beneath his shirt. Not at all.Bookmark here

Denial is a powerful emotion.Bookmark here

It's also a river in Egypt.Bookmark here

“Good, in that case, you can get us something to drink.”Bookmark here

“Right.”Bookmark here

Still yawning, Michael opened one of the cabinets overhead and pulled out two glasses. He then opened the fridge, got the carton of fresh milk, and poured the liquid into the glass before putting it away. After that, he set the glasses on the counter and turned to admire Alice as she cooked.Bookmark here

“Would you stop staring at me!” Alice demanded, her cheeks turning red.Bookmark here

“I can't help it,” Michael said, shrugging. “Maybe if you had more clothes on...”Bookmark here

Alice's current attired consisted of what she used to wear in the morning before Michael started living there: black panties that did nothing to hide her creamy white legs, a pair of black socks, and a baggy black T-shirt that only went down to just a little below her hips.Bookmark here

“Grayfield Fist!”Bookmark here

“Freakazoid!”Bookmark here

Alice looked at Michael, sitting on the ground, groaning. “Is it just me, or has your strange shouting gotten even weirder?”Bookmark here

“Never mind that,” Michael groaned. “Why'd you hit me?”Bookmark here

“Because you were staring.”Bookmark here

Michael looked at Alice for several long seconds, and then looked away when he saw her deadpan stare.Bookmark here

“Yeah, okay. I got it. I'll try not to stare at you.” Michael stood up, rubbing the growing pink lump of swollen flesh on his cranium. “Ugh, I can't believe you actually named that attack. Who does that?”Bookmark here

“I do. Now grab some plates for me. Breakfast is ready.”Bookmark here

“Okay.”Bookmark here

With plates full of a good portion of food, the two found themselves sitting down in the living room. They still had to sit on the floor, because Alice had yet to buy a couch, but situated between them sat a small coffee table made of wood and glass.Bookmark here

It was old, slightly scuffed up, and had several nicks and scratches on it. Alice had bought it at the nearest pawnshop with some of the extra money she had now that she didn't need to worry about finances as much.Bookmark here

Michael had carried it home.Bookmark here

“How much money do you have left from your last paycheck?” Alice asked.Bookmark here

“One hundred and twenty three dollars and… eighty-seven cents,” Michael answered. Currency and its importance to humans had been one of the first concepts Alice taught him. He still didn't really understand why it was so important, but he at least knew that he couldn't get food or clothes or anything else without it.Bookmark here

“That should be enough for today,” Alice said, nodding to herself.Bookmark here

“Today?” Michael tilted his head to the side. “Are we doing something today?”Bookmark here

“Yep.”Bookmark here

When Alice said nothing else, Michael couldn't help but ask, “what are we doing?”
Alice's smile gave him chills. “We're shopping for clothes.”Bookmark here

~The Archangel Michael~Bookmark here

After breakfast, the two locked up the apartment and headed out. Walking down the street at a sedate pace, Michael took a moment to soak in the morning. Bright rays of sunshine brought with it a warmth that soaked through his skin and into his bones. The sky, so clear and bright and blue, made a smile appear on his face. Days like these could only be a blessing from God, a gift that he gave to humans.Bookmark here

“Hey? Micheal?”Bookmark here

Micheal turned his head to Alice walking beside him, her head looking in another direction. “Yes?”Bookmark here

“Why don't you tell me a little bit about Heaven? What's it like?”Bookmark here

Michael raised an eyebrow. “I thought you didn't believe me when I said I'm the Archangel.”Bookmark here

“And I still don't believe you,” Alice confirmed, “but since you've still been so adamant that it's the truth, I thought I'd humor you.”Bookmark here

Michael snorted, both amused and annoyed. “The first thing you should probably know about Heaven is that there are seven of them. Each Heaven is ruled over by an archangel, and each Heaven is also home to different angels.”Bookmark here

“The first Heaven was originally the home of the first humans, Adam and Eve. After they were banished, it became a place where humans who have ascended to Heaven live. It’s the same with the second and third Heavens. These Heavens are ruled over by Gabriel, Raphael, and Anael. The fourth Heaven is my domain. It's where Heaven's army is stationed, and it also contains the heavenly city of Jerusalem. The fifth city is ruled by Samael and houses two million angels. The sixth Heaven is considered our last bastion of defense. Sachiel presides over it. And of course, there is our last Heaven, the seventh Heaven, where God himself watches over all of us.”Bookmark here

“And so you usually spend most of your time in the Fourth Heaven, then?” asked a curious looking Alice.Bookmark here

“No.” Michael shook his head. “I rarely ever spent time in Heaven, actually. I spent most of my time in Hell.” When Alice raised an eyebrow, he elaborated further. “I was created by God for the sole purpose of fighting against the Devils. It's only natural that I would spend more time on the battlefield than I did the home front.” He then looked up at the sky, his fingers idly scratching the bottom of his chin. “Although, recently, I have been home a lot more these days. There hasn't been a major battle in the last two-hundred years. The Devils have been awfully quiet. It's left me a lot of free time on my hands.”Bookmark here

“Which would explain why you got in trouble for peeping.”Bookmark here

Michael, unprepared for the young woman beside him to say that, tripped over a small crack and ended up face planting into the ground. Groaning, he lifted his face up and looked at Alice.Bookmark here

She was grinning.Bookmark here

“That wasn't a very nice thing to say,” Michael muttered, getting back up. He touched his nose, wincing. His nose stung, and he could feel blood welling up inside of it, though it didn't appear broken.Bookmark here

“But it's no less true, right?” Alice chuckled at him. “That's the whole reason you got kicked out, or so you've told me.”Bookmark here

Yes, Michael had eventually given in and informed her of the reason he'd been sent to earth. How she managed to weasel that information out of him, he didn't know. Ever since then, even though Alice swore up and down that she didn't believe him, he'd been subjected to her taunts about being a pervy angel.Bookmark here

All he could do was pout at her.Bookmark here

They continued on their way, eventually reaching the mall.Bookmark here

Long Beach Mall didn't look like most malls. For one thing, it grew up instead of out. Unlike most shopping complexes of this nature, it wasn't one wide building or a series of buildings connected together, but rather, a very tall building that stood about twelve stories high. Made of brick and glass and steel, it almost looked like a miniature skyscraper.Bookmark here

Michael looked up and up and up. He couldn't even see the top of the building.Bookmark here

“I think this the largest building I've seen since coming to earth,” he said. His words were a slight misnomer. He'd seen larger, but they had been so far away, and he'd been free falling at the time, so he didn't think they counted.Bookmark here

“This mall is actually pretty new,” Alice informed him. “It was only built around a year ago. After Long Beach had a drastic increase in population, the government decided they needed to wise up about the amount of land they use, so they started building this thing upwards instead of making it like a regular mall. I hear they actually had other plans for this place, but scrapped them later on.”Bookmark here

“Huh. I didn't know that.”Bookmark here

“Of course you didn't.” Alice rolled her eyes. “That's because you're an idiot.”Bookmark here

“Mu~ Alice, you're a meanie.”Bookmark here

“Right, right. I'm a horrible person. Now, come on. Let's do what we came to do.”Bookmark here

Walking inside, the pair were greeted to a place that was apparently dedicated to eating. The first floor was just a large, expansive space filled with tables of varying shapes and sizes. Numerous fast food chains had booths lined along the walls. Taco Smell, Burger Queen, McRonalds, and Sub Pub were but a few of the names he could see. Since it was early in the morning, there weren’t many people there, but there were a few individuals sitting down at a table, drinking coffee as they read the news or typed on a laptop.Bookmark here

There were a few decorations here and there, several raised platforms with shrubs and palm trees, a little waterfall fountain that people threw coins in, along with a staircase and an elevator that led up. Everything was neat and tidy. The shrubs were bright green and looked well-maintained. The fountain, an elegant design of a cupid firing a bow, made Michael wonder if humans really thought Cupid looked like a small brat.Bookmark here

Alice took him to the elevator.Bookmark here

The second and third floors were the ones that he and Alice were going to. According to Alice, they contained the most clothing stores, with the ones above having mostly hobby shops and toy shops and specialty stores.Bookmark here

Alice dragged Michael by the hand, entering a shop where his friend and savior did most of her shopping. Upon entering, he quickly determined that the store possessed way too much black. The color was everywhere. Lining the walls, hanging from racks, the vast majority of the clothing was black.Bookmark here

The place almost instantly depressed Michael.Bookmark here

“Maybe we should try a different store,” he suggested, “one that doesn't have so much black.”Bookmark here

“Are you crazy?” asked Alice before she shook her head. “Wait. Scratch that. I know you're crazy. Are you stupid? This is one of the best stores in the entire world. Whenever I need new clothes, I shop here, um, if I can afford it,” she added that addendum at the head, her cheeks flushing just a little.Bookmark here

“I resent just about everything you said.” Michael's cheeks puffed out in anger. It was comedy anger, mostly because he looked like a squirrel with a mouthful of nuts, but anger nonetheless. “I am not crazy, and I'm not stupid. This place just doesn't have enough colors for me. We should find a store that has more white.”Bookmark here

“White isn't even a color.”Bookmark here

“On the contrary, white is all the colors combined, whereas black is the negation of all color. That means white contains every color, whereas black contains none.”Bookmark here

Alice would have rolled her eyes, but doing seemed a little redundant at this point, so she didn't. “Whatever you say Bill Nye. Now get in here.” She walked inside, yanking Michael in before he could ask who Bill Nye was, and went over to the nearest section of clothing for men. “Don't knock something until you've tried it. Who knows. You might actually look good in black.”Bookmark here

~The Archangel Michael~Bookmark here

“You really don't look good in black,” Alice decided as she stared at Michael in one of the outfits she had chosen for him. His current outfit consisted of a black shirt that contained way too many velcros holding the front closed, black pants that had metal studs going down the outer left and right legs, a pair of black steampunk shoes with zippers and straps and all number of complicated gizmos that made no sense, and a pair of silver biohazard goggles that sat on his head. “You look like a metal head gone wrong.”Bookmark here

“Gee, thanks,” Michael actually had a touch of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. “But I could have told you that myself.”Bookmark here

“Hmm...” Alice studied Michael some more before shaking her head. “You're just too pretty for clothing like this to really work, unless we were to dress you up in woman's clothing.” She paused. “Which wouldn't be a bad idea, now that I think about it.”Bookmark here

“Oh, no,” Michael said, shaking his head and backing away. “I was willing to humor you with this, but I draw the line at women's clothing.”Bookmark here

“But aren't you always stealing women's clothing anyway?” asked Alice.Bookmark here

“Stealing a pair of panties is completely different from wearing women's underwear,” Michael replied, huffing a bit as he crossed his arm. “Don't go trying to compare the two, and don't use that as an excuse to try and dress me up in women's clothing.”Bookmark here

“Alright, fine. No women's clothing.” Alice sighed. “It's such a shame, though. I think you'd look really good in a corset.”Bookmark here

“Eep!”Bookmark here

“Just kidding,” she said, grinning when Michael hid behind the changing room curtain. “Gosh, can't you take a joke? And besides, we can't afford a corset. They're too expensive. Although…” Alice made a thinking pose, right hand on her chin, left hand support her right elbow. “We might be able to afford a nice skirt.”Bookmark here

“Eep!”Bookmark here

~The Archangel Michael~Bookmark here

“Ugh,” Michael released an exhausted groan as he dropped the bags accommodating his clothing and sat down at one of the tables located on the first floor. Alice sat down behind him, just barely managing to hide her smirk. “I can't do this anymore. Please tell me we're done.”Bookmark here

“We're done,” Alice said, her lips twitching.Bookmark here

“Oh, thank the Almighty.” Michael sighed in relief. “I thought we'd never stop.”Bookmark here

“It seems even angels hate shopping.”Bookmark here

Michael gave Alice the stink eye. “Very funny. I know you don't believe, even though it's true.”
“Right. You're angel.”Bookmark here

“I am an angel!”Bookmark here

“Uh huh. I believe you. And you know who else is an angel? That guy.” Alice pointed to some random individual, a man with a handlebar mustache and an ugly yellow business suit. “And that guy. And that guy. Oh, and I'm sure that girl's an angel too.”Bookmark here

“You're horrible,” Michael complained, his head slumping onto the table.Bookmark here

Alice just grinned at the insult. “That's me. The most horrible person on earth. Now be a good boy and go get us some food.”Bookmark here

“Why me?”Bookmark here

“Because you're the man here, and it's only common courtesy that the man gets the food. Come on, now. You want to be a gentleman, don't you?”Bookmark here

Michael grumbled a bit, muttering something about “inconsiderate women” and how Alice was too much like a “certain she-devil” that he knew. Despite his protests, however, he got up and walked over to one to the wall containing nearly a dozen fast-food booths. He hadn't taken Alice's order, but that was okay. He knew what she liked.Bookmark here

With Michael gone, Alice allowed herself to relax, her own fatigue showing. She'd never gone shopping like this before, where she spent several hours trying on clothes (or in this case, dressing Michael up in various types of clothing). Before Michael came into her life, her clothes shopping consisted mostly of going to the nearest thrift store or outlet mall and grabbing a few cheap articles that worked well enough together that they could almost be called an outfit. This might have been a first for Michael, but it was also a first for her.Bookmark here

Alice would never tell him this, nor would she admit such a thing out loud, but she had a great deal of fun today. She had to wonder, though, was it the act of shopping that made it so enjoyable? Or the company she kept?Bookmark here

Her eyes trailed across the expansive space, past the people who were already sitting at tables, eating food, and over to Michael. Her roommate and, dare she say it, her friend, stood in line at Fazoli's, an Italian fast-food chain that sold her favourite type of food and greatest guilty pleasure: calzones. She couldn't afford to eat them very often, and not just because they could be pricey. Calzones were packed with saturated fats and God-only-knew how many calories. While Alice was not one to watch her figure, she had no desire to look like big Bertha.Bookmark here

“Oh, my. If it isn't Alice. I am surprised to see you here. I didn't think you could afford to eat out. Oh ho ho ho ho!”Bookmark here

Oh, great. This was just what she needed. The only person who could annoy her with more efficiency than Michael.Bookmark here

Sighing, she turned around. “What do you want, Clara?” she asked, looking up at the blond girl with bored eyes. She immediately noticed two things about her nemesis, the first being the lack of Dustin, and the second being Clara's two lackeys standing on either side.Bookmark here

Katie and Michelle Anderson were twins, fraternal, not identical. They were also a year younger than Alice and Clara, which was why she never saw them in any of her classes. Katie had brown hair and large, doe-like brown eyes that reminded Alice of Bambi. Michelle appeared almost her total opposite, with honey blond hair and narrowed, succubus blue eyes. Michelle was also the more “mature” of the two in the figure department. She was what most teenage boys would call a bombshell.Bookmark here

Both possessed the same bland facial expression, like they were emotionally dead inside. It was kinda creepy.Bookmark here

Looking at Michelle, Alice wondered how Clara could stand to be with her. You'd think her nemesis would feel threatened by the girl's appearance, but then, maybe not. Clara was pretty hot. Even Alice would admit that much. She probably didn't think anyone could be more beautiful than her.Bookmark here

Alice didn't really know much about the two, other than the fact that they became friends with Clara some time last year. She didn't know how they became friends, either. Quite frankly, she didn't really care to know.Bookmark here

“How rude,” Clara harrumphed, crossing her arms under her breasts. Alice debated over whether she should tell the blond that what she just did was causing her breasts to get pushed up, but she decided not to. Clara was probably doing it on purpose anyway. “I walked all the way over here just to say hello, and all you have to say is 'what do you want?'” she parroted, doing a poor impression of Alice's voice and tone.Bookmark here

“If you want to say hello, then maybe you shouldn't have done so by insulting me when you first walked up,” Alice said, her tone dry.Bookmark here

“Whatever,” Clara appeared mildly embarrassed, but covered it by snapping at Alice. “It's not like you would have greeted me any differently.”Bookmark here

“Probably not,” Alice agreed blithely. “But then, I also wouldn't have come over to you in the first place, so the point is kind of moot.”Bookmark here

“Tch!”Bookmark here

Clara couldn't think of anything to say, so she just clicked her tongue.Bookmark here

This was the scene that Michael walked up to; Alice sitting in her chair, one leg crossed over the other, her arms crossed under her chest, looking annoyed. Meanwhile, Clara stood, her arms also crossed as she glared down at Alice. There were also two cute girl's behind her, but most of Michael's attention was focused on the jugs hanging from Clara's chest.Bookmark here

“Grayfield Punch!”Bookmark here

“Marmaroth!”Bookmark here

Alice glared down at Michael, smoke pouring off the fist that she had used to hit him. “Stop staring at her chest, ya damn pervert!”Bookmark here

“Uuugg...”Bookmark here

Michael, after moaning and groaning, stood back up, seemingly recovering from the ordeal. He had a lot of experience dealing with Alice's abuse. He then directed a cheerful smile toward Clara, ignoring the fact that he'd been caught ogling her chest.Bookmark here

“Hey, Clara!” His greeting was friendly and full of enthusiasm, just like it always was when dealing with others. “I hope you've had a good weekend.”Bookmark here

“M-Michael! I-I had not expected to see you here.” Did Clara just stutter? And what was with that blush? Alice narrowed her eyes, and watched as the blonde female started drawing circles on the floor with her toes. “H-how are you?”Bookmark here

Michael grinned. “I'm good. Things have been pretty tough for me, but thankfully, Alice has been around to help me out.”Bookmark here

Alice noticed Clara twitch at hearing Michael mention her and grinned.Bookmark here

“O-oh, is that so? So, she's been a big help, then?”Bookmark here

“Most definitely,” Michael said, his voice fervent and earnest. “I don't know what I would have done without her. She's been a big help ever since I came to Long Beach. I'm really glad I met her.”Bookmark here

His eyes met Alice's, whose eyes widened for a brief moment, before she looked away from him with a small tint of red caressing her cheeks.Bookmark here

“I-idiot!” She snapped, still not looking at him. “Don't say things that can be misconstrued so easily!”Bookmark here

“Wh-what? But all I did was say that I'm incredibly grateful for your help!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, right. What about all that 'I'm so grateful to have met her' crap, huh? What was that all about?”Bookmark here

“Eh? But I am grateful that I met you!”Bookmark here

“Grayfield Fist!”Bookmark here

“Eremiel!”Bookmark here

While Alice pounded her fist over the top of Michael's skull, not only sending him crashing to the floor, but also causing a massive bump to appear from beneath his hair, the other three girls watched on.Bookmark here

“My Lady.” Katie leaned over, cupping her left hand to her lips and whispering in Clara's ear. “Do they often act like this?” She sounded confused, as if she could not quite understand how two people could act so violently towards each other, especially as these two appear to be friends, or at least on friendly terms.Bookmark here

Clara began grinding her teeth. “I wouldn't know, since I only have morning classes with them. And no one knows where they go during lunch.”Bookmark here

“I see.” It was clear that Katie really didn't see, and that she had only said that so she could have something to say.Bookmark here

Michael didn't groan this time. Instead, he jumped to his feet and looked at Alice with an angry, narrow eyed glare. “Why do you keep hitting me!? That was so cruel, Alice!”Bookmark here

“I wouldn't keep hitting you if you didn't act like such an idiot all the time!”Bookmark here

“How am I an idiot!? All I said was that I’m―”Bookmark here

“Grayfield Fist!”Bookmark here

“Hagith!”Bookmark here

~The Archangel Michael~Bookmark here

“Hey, Alice. What's the deal with you and Clara?” asked Michael.Bookmark here

It was nearly an hour after their shopping excursion, and they were walking back home. The sun had not yet gone down, but it was beginning to set. A few streaks of color crossed the sky, showing that dusk would be upon them soon.Bookmark here

In Michael's hand were the bags containing his clothes. By the end of their trip, they had bought several different pairs of pants and shirts, mostly simple T-shirts, but they had also bought a few turtlenecks since it was fairly cold outside.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” asked Alice.Bookmark here

“Well…” Michael frowned and rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand. “I just noticed that the two of you didn't really seem to get along.”Bookmark here

“Gee, you noticed that? How observant of you.”Bookmark here

“Your sarcasm really wasn't needed.”Bookmark here

“Trust me. It was needed,” Alice said, rolling her eyes. “You're preaching to the fricken choir, Michael. I am well aware that Clara and I don't get along. You don't need to tell me that.”Bookmark here

Michael sighed. There were only a few things about Alice that he really didn't like. Her swearing and her sarcasm. They were two of his most hated S-words, right next to Satan.Bookmark here

“I only meant that your hatred of her seems to be more than simple dislike.”Bookmark here

“That's because it is more than simple dislike. And I wouldn't really call it hatred either. That doesn't do much to describe how we feel about each other.”Bookmark here

“So what would you call it, then?” asked Michael, curious.Bookmark here

“I’d say that I despise Clara with a passion so hot not even Hell could withstand it.”Bookmark here

Michael felt a small droplet of sweat travel down the side of his face.Bookmark here

“That's… a lot of hate,” he managed to say.Bookmark here

“You don't know the half of it,” Alice muttered, now glaring, though just what she was glaring at remained a mystery. “I can't stand that girl, little miss perfect. Everybody loves Clara because she's bright and cheerful and blonde and has those huge tits! She makes me so mad! I just want to wrap my hands around her little neck and squeeze until her eyes bulge and her tongue hangs out and her face turns purple and… and… Michael?”Bookmark here

It was only a few seconds after she began her tirade on what kind of violence she would like to perpetuate against Clara that Alice realized Michael no longer stood next to her. She looked around and, after a moment, found him hiding behind a lamp post.Bookmark here

“What the hell are doing over there?”Bookmark here

“N-nothing.”Bookmark here

Alice narrowed her eyes. “Are you hiding from me?”Bookmark here

Michael hid just a little bit further behind the pole. “N-no?”Bookmark here

“Michael.” Alice glared. “Get over here now.” When Michael just shook his head, she stamped her foot on the ground and glared harder, as if doing so would create a lasso with which she could use to tie Michael up and pull him over to her. “Michael, now!”Bookmark here

Michael continued hiding, Alice stomped over to the pole. Michael let out a squeal and tried to run, but she grabbed him by the shirt before he could get too far. Without ceremony, she yanked on his shirt and dragged him behind her.Bookmark here

“Ack! A-Alice! Let me go!”Bookmark here

“Relax,” Alice muttered, and though her word was meant to be soothing, the annoyed tone in her voice did anything but soothe. “It's not like I want to strangle you or anything.”Bookmark here

“Considering how much you hit me, those words don't inspire a whole lot of confidence.” Michael tried to struggle against Alice's hold, but she seemed to be much stronger than she looked. Despite the effort he put into escaping her grasp, she continued dragging him along. “Besides, the mere fact that you actually want to strangle anyone is disturbing.”Bookmark here

“Oh, geeze, Michael. Are you really taking me seriously?” Before her roommate could say anything, she said, “it was just a joke. I don't actually want to strangle Clara.” Michael didn't believe her, naturally, but he said nothing for his own safety. “I just wanted you to understand how much I truly dislike her.”Bookmark here

“But why?”Bookmark here

Alice stopped walking, allowing Michael to stand up without fear of being dragged around.Bookmark here

“Do you really want to know?” Alice asked, her voice soft. The tone and timbre of her voice caused Michael to look at the much younger woman. With her head tilted down, her hair swaying forward, dark shadows were cast along her face. They looked melancholy, somehow, as if the shadows were a reflection of Alice's inner most feelings.Bookmark here

“I would like to, yeah,” Michael said. “It might not do much, but talking about things can help sometimes.”Bookmark here

Even angels needed people to talk to. Michael remembered the first time he'd ever lost a battle, the only time he came close to losing his life. That incident had scarred him and left him unable to fight to his full potential. It had taken Azazel's counseling before he'd been able to get back onto the battlefield and fight against Lucifer again.Bookmark here

He won their second battle.Bookmark here

Alice sighed, and then tilted her head, her eyes looking toward the sky. The sadness that had been cast by the shadows was even more visible in her eyes.Bookmark here

“Clara and I were friends once,” she admitted. “Before my mom became such a deadbeat, she and I used to live next door. Back then, we would always go to the park and play together. We got along really well. I would even go so far as to say we were best friends.”Bookmark here

“What happened?”Bookmark here

“Life. Problems. My mom turned to drugs and drinking after her husband left her. She started going to staying out late and going to parties. She couldn't hold a job and became practically useless. I ended up after to take care of her most of the time, which meant I no longer had time to play. Clara and I just grew apart after that, I guess.” She shrugged. “I ended needed to grow up and Clara continued playing with her friends. She began spending time with a different crowd and became popular, while I had to find a way to make ends meet because my mom could no longer function in normal society.”Bookmark here

“Alice.” Michael put a hand on Alice's shoulder. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry.”Bookmark here

“It's fine.” Despite the topic, Alice managed to give Michael a smile. “Since you've been helping me pay the bills and stuff, I guess it's only fair that you know why. And besides…” she grinned. “At least I don't think I'm an Archangel.”Bookmark here

“Are you still saying that? I swear to you that I really am The Archangel Michael.”Bookmark here

“Yes, yes, and I am the Lord Jesus Christ.”Bookmark here

“No, you're not! And don't say things like that! Lord Jesus may be the calmest person I've ever met, but that doesn't mean you should use his name in jest!”Bookmark here

“Chill out,” Alice said, waving a dismissive hand at him. “I was just messing with you.”Bookmark here

“That's not the point! You can't just go around saying things like that! Calling yourself Lord Jesus might not be a sin, but to me it's just as bad as using the Lord's name in vein! It's not something you should do, and it's not something you should joke about! Why can't you be a little more sensitive and not say things like this, Alice? A little compassion and understand wouldn't kill you, would it? Can you for once think about―”Bookmark here

“Grayfield Fist!”Bookmark here

“Eae!”Bookmark here

Alice looked down at Michael with a calm expression. The licentious archangel sat on the ground, swaying back and forth like a drunken sailor. There was a large bump on his head where Alice had hit him.Bookmark here

“Are you calm now?” she asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Michael groaned. “I'm good. Thanks for that.”Bookmark here

“You're welcome. Now let's go home. School starts tomorrow, and I don't want to oversleep because you freaked out on me.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.