I was discharged from the hospital with minor injuries, after 48 hours.  24 to make sure I didn't try and die in a puddle thinking I was swimming, and another 24 while they watched me like hawks under the friendly guise of "observation."  In the end though, I was released after some questioning by the police on just what I'd been doing on that wharf, why I'd had more LSD running through my system than a Dead show, and just what my relationship was to Zel, who was pronounced dead of a heart attack, and the dead men who'd been around me.  There were some questions on the burn mark high on my temple that looked like a jagged scribble twisted in on itself, but I couldn't explain that.  It was dismissed as something I'd brushed up against during the fight.  The amount of acid that had hit my system through skin absorption explained just how I missed the apparent bear that had ripped the other guys a new asshole.  I didn't bother to explain that they'd been killed by a demon.

I trudged down the street back towards the hotel room I'd rented for my stay in New York, wondering if it would even still be mine once I got there.  My world was topsy turvy, filled with things I couldn't explain.  Who knew where Tom was?  And what about Uriel?  I couldn't believe that he hadn't visited me that whole time.  Though I guess that since I was no longer in danger of being offed prematurely he didn't want to bother with me anymore.  Lord knew that I hadn't been the best person to be around.

Hmm.  Lord knew.  Least now I was pretty sure there was one.  Not a hundred percent, because I hadn't met Him, but I'd met the devil and a demon and an angel, so it was a pretty good bet.  Kinda hard to have all that stuff without at least God around.  Though if there wasn't actually a Jesus I'd soon find myself having at Judaism in a flash.  Nothing wrong with wanting to keep my bases covered.

I walked into the lobby and the man at the desk eyed me, but didn't try to stop me.  Good to know that he hadn't rented out my room while I was gone.  I had paid for more days, but it was solid whoring room up there that he could be selling by the hour.  I hadn't put it past him, but it was nice to be wrong about a guy once in a while.  I put my key in the lock and turned, letting the door swing inward.  Uriel sat on the bed stroking Tom, in his wings and light mode.  The old cat looked happy to be there, really.  My gut tightened.  I had wondered why he hadn't stopped by, but I didn't actually want to see him again.  It was over, right?  I could go back to my life.  Bury Moira.  Try to be a good cop again, maybe.

"Thomas," he said, keeping his eyes down.  I nodded, knowing he could probably see even if I didn't catch his eye.

"Angel of Death," I called him back.  He didn't even pause in the stroking of Tom.  Taking comfort from it, I guess.  "Can you tell what I'm thinkin' right now?"

"No," he said simply, then he looked up.  My world was twisted and then pulled inside out...and then it was okay.  It was an angel on my bed, and I was looking into eyes that were more golden than anything I'd ever seen.  They were old and sad and gold and bright, but I could see them.  I wasn't speaking in tongues, I wasn't babbling, and as far as I could tell all my faculties were intact.  Of course, who'm I to judge, right?  I'm the guy talking to angels petting my cat.

"No?  Why can I look in your eyes?  You said I wouldn't live through that," I spat out, almost accusingly.  Had he been lying?  Was this whole thing a farce?

"You wouldn't have.  Before," he told me, standing up.  Maybe not so much standing as unfolding.  I was lifted off the floor and then pulled forward to him, the door shutting behind me with a hard slam, but I barely registered it.  Uriel had that scythe out and now I was rolling in fear like a puppet on strings, struggling against whatever hold he had on me.  It wasn't any use though, and I stopped a good 2 feet in front of him, hanging like a baby.  He tapped the butt of the scythe against the floor and the blade sprang out, liquid fire, white and hot.  I was mumbling "Nononono" but I don't think he was listening.  I was sure that had there been anything in it, my bladder would have gone.  Why had he saved me just to kill me?  What in the hell was going on?

"You bear the mark," he whispered, and swung the blade around.  There was a whoosh of air.  I screamed.

*********

Then opened my eyes, one by one.  I reached up to my neck, then ran my hands down to my pelvis.  All there.  I looked back up to him, wordless, my tongue a heavy dead thing in my mouth.  "The mark of God, Thomas.  Two people alive bear it.  Cain, and you.  The First Son, and you.  Neither of you can be harmed by weapons wielded by unnatural hands.  You will not age.  You will not die until God wishes it."

"Gir?"

"Yes, the girl," he nodded, tapping the scythe again.  It closed with a hiss, then disappeared in a flash of light.  "God has chosen you to be out of time for a while.  Satan will want revenge for the death of Azazel.  She will not rest, for a while, until you are dead.  After a time, she will give up, or get bored.  It is her way."

"Geh?" I remarked, feeling particularly intelligent this moment.  He pointed to my forehead.  At the squiggly mark in its circle.

"That is God's signature.  His mark.  He has made you His.  I wouldn't go whoring any time soon.  He would speak with you later, I'm sure.  There are not many who can withstand His voice.  You can, now."

"What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing?!" I yelled, and Uriel winced.  That's me, mister quick on the uptake.  "I'm done with you people!  It's supposed to be over!"

"You don't question the will of God, Thomas.  It's part of His plan, rest assur-"

"Fuck God, Uriel!  This is my life!  All God's done for me so far is give me angels who can't do their job, 80s hair bands and a dead wife!  Do you begin to understand why maybe I'm a little pissed here?" I was raging hard on him, and by his face my words hurt.  Maybe he took pride in his job.  Or he'd been a fan of A Flock of Seagulls.  Either way.  I was too angry to care, though I wished that I knew which button I'd pushed.

He turned away from me and the room darkened around him, and in another flash he was the young man I'd run down on the road into New York.  Backpack and all.  I wondered if that was where he kept the scythe.  My fists were still bunched, but I'm slowly learning that miracles tend to calm you down.  I was still full of righteous anger, to be sure, but it was still impressive.

"Would you like it taken off?  When Lucifer comes, when the Light bringer has Her hands around your throat, or is calling up her horde to find you, would you like to be unarmed and defenseless?" he asked, quietly, crossing his hands over his stomach.  "I can only be around you so much.  I am your guardian now, much as it might anger you, but that is now my lot in life.  I still have to do my other jobs.  She will watch for a time when you are vulnerable.  Perhaps you'd like my scythe?  You'll have a great deal of fun using a sacred weapon, I'm sure, once you've gotten the hang of it.  How many can you mow down before they are upon you?"

I growled.  People shouldn't talk sense at me, angel or no.  "Fine.  I get the idea.  The mark stays.  Does it save me from weapons not 'wielded by unnatural hands?'"

"No.  You'll simply die and be reborn again in your body.  Even taking off your head will not kill you, long as you bear the mark.  You will be vulnerable while dead, however."

"Good deal."

"Sometimes.  Immortality has its shortcomings as well though, you'll find."

"More time to watch your loved ones die?  Mine are all gone now, really, 'cept my brother.  And he don't talk to me."

"That," he said, with a smile, which was unnerving.  I couldn't remember seeing him do that before.  "That, and more time to sin."

Another flash and he was gone, and I dropped to the floor with a thud, Old Tom meowing pitifully at me.  At least his fur was coming back in.