Air Charlie

 

“If our folks catch us, we’ll be grounded forever,” Trixie told her cousin. “Are you certain you want to do this?”

“Hey, you were all for it when I suggested it the other day,” Charlie reminded her in his incongruously deep voice. Whatever might have passed for puberty had been recent and she still wasn’t used to the changes that had been wrought in her best friend. “If you’re going to back out now, you’re just being chicken!”

“Ya, well, now that I think about it, I’m not sure how smart it is. There’s so much that could go wrong, after all!”

“Oh, come on! Don’t chicken out now! I want to see if I can do it. Don’t tell me you’re afraid I’ll drop you. We’ve been practicing with the extended carrying for how long now?”

“Over a month, but still—“

“Don’t you trust me?” Charlie’s expression was honestly stricken and it made her feel more than a little guilty for having even suggested doubt in his considerable abilities. “Have I ever hurt you? Ever?”

Ever her cousin’s willing co-conspirator, Trixie relented. After a moment, the young woman wrapped her arms around the half-angel’s neck and adjusted her position in his arms. She gave a nod. His answering smile glowed like the light at the end of a very dark tunnel and warmed the girl’s heart.

She decided it must be some sort of Angel Thing.

“Hold on tight, Trix, I’m going to do it now!”

With a massive downbeat of his fully-fledged wings, Charlie leapt into the sky, looking up into the moonless midnight blackness that was lit only by myriad pinpoints of light. He grinned with joy that he was finally able to share this experience with his cousin, the only person in his immediate family who, he thought, really understood the position he was in.

For something that seemed to be so effortless for an angel, Trixie could feel the muscles of his chest and shoulders shifting and moving as his shiny raven-black wings worked their magic to take them up and into the open air. According to what Charlie had told her years ago, some angelic magic kept them from being seen when they did not wish to be seen, which was probably a good thing when one was flying around the Earth.

“It’s okay, Trix,” he told the girl, who had her face buried in the side of his warm throat. “You can look now.”

Cautiously, Trixie turned her head and looked around, reassured by the strength of the muscular arms that held her and the preternatural calmness Charlie projected, much as his father did. At this point, they were maybe a couple miles up, the landscape below highlighted with the lights of vehicles, streetlights, and buildings.

“Remember, Charlie, I can only go up so far before I won’t be able to breathe,” Trixie reminded her cousin, who had no such limitations, due to his supernatural origins. “Just a little bit higher and that’ll be enough.”

“Oh, ya, right,” Charlie mumbled. “I did forget about that. Thanks for saying something.”

“Of course,” she smiled tightly. “At least I remembered to dress warm.”

In fact, Trixie had dressed in several layers of clothing, including a knitted wool scarf, a couple of down parkas, three sweaters, three pairs of bulky warmup pants, and some long silk underwear. She was amazed she was even capable of moving, with the barrier she had placed between her soft flesh and the air that became even more frigid as they ascended. Charlie, on the other hand, wore black running shorts and a lightweight red tank shirt. Somehow, it didn’t seem quite fair to the human girl, but things were what they were and there was nothing that would change that situation.

Shifting course, instead of flying upward, the angel began flying slowly in a horizontal direction. The ground below was unfamiliar to Trixie and she mentioned it to her cousin.

“Oh, we’re up around Palm Desert now,” he told her. “I can cover distances a lot faster than anything humans can come up with. I’m still going slower now than I could, because you couldn’t survive it if I went as fast as I was able.”

“Well, thanks for that blessing,” she muttered and felt him chuckle with barely suppressed mirth. “You’re an angel, so that should be a given, right?”

Something occurred to her for the first time.

“You’ve been wanting to get me up here for a long time, haven’t you?”

“Of course I have, silly!” he laughed. “I’m just glad you finally agreed to come with me!”

“We’ll have to hit Vegas this way sometime,” she told him.

“Sin City, itself?” He laughed again. “Uncle Luci would have a fit if we didn’t invite him along.”

“Yes, well, if we did invite him along, we’d have to tell my Mom, and that might not go over very well at all.”

“Do you really think he hasn’t done something like this with her?” Charlie asked Trixie. “They’ve done it more than a few times over the years.”

Trixie was shocked by the revelation. Her mother had actually done the flying thing with her stepfather? She supposed it shouldn’t really be all that surprising, when she got to thinking about it.

“How do you think they got to Aspen last winter when that snowstorm prevented planes from flying in and out? Your Dad’s not limited to flying on instruments, after all.” Charlie sounded a bit annoyed that his cousin had been so obtuse for so long. “Open your eyes!”

“I guess I should,” she breathed, the icy sharpness of the air hurting her throat a bit, so she  moved her scarf over her mouth to warm her breath enough to keep that from happening again. “I wonder why they kept me in the dark?”

“You know as well as I do that your Dad won’t tell the truth unless you ask him a direct question, if he doesn’t absolutely have to,” he reminded her. “Start asking direct questions. He might not tell you the whole truth, but he’ll tell you at least some of it!”

That was something that annoyed her. Maybe more than it should have.

Yes, the Devil only ever told the truth, but nothing said that he had to tell all of the truth when he did say something. What did they call it again? Oh yes, a sin of omission, but he clearly didn’t think of it that way.

“You’re right again, Charlie,” she agreed. Then she thought of something.

“What does your Grandfather have to say about all of this?”

Their Grandfather was a subject that rarely came up, mostly because her stepfather still had his personal issues with him. Trixie had never met her Grandfather face-to-face, but Charlie had seen his Grandfather many times over the years.

“He wants me to spend a couple decades in the Silver City learning about how to be an angel, but Dad won’t hear of it,” he told Trixie. “I think he’s afraid I’ll send up with the same stick up my ass that Aunt Remiel has. Like that would ever happen.”

The young woman bubbled with laughter, remembering her own meeting with the angel in question.

Trixie had met Remiel when her Mom and stepfather had actually gotten married. The Native American-appearing angel had stood, aloof as always, at the back of the room, during the whole ceremony, her expression disapproving. Trixie knew that the angel disapproved of humans and angels interacting and wasn’t shy about voicing that disapproval. Only her brothers’ hard expressions forced her to keep those opinions to herself before, during, and after the wedding.

The warlike angel had been taken aback when then fourteen year old Trixie had run over after the intimate ceremony and wrapped the leather-clad warrior in a Trixie-branded bearhug, welcoming the surly celestial to the family. Remiel was so stunned at the contact that she lost her grip on her double-pointed spear, and it fell to the ground with a dull thud.

They still talked, now and then, Trixie’s normally effusive personality infectious with nearly everyone she encountered. Over time, she found Lucifer’s and Amenadiel’s little sister a bit less stuffy than anyone else did, but she conceded that Remiel was only that way when she was alone with her.

“Maybe I’ll met Grandfather some day,” she mused. Then thought about what she was saying. “I mean, before I die.”

Charlie’s laugh was full-throated with delight and he somehow managed to bestow a hug on her even as he held her in flight.

“I think Grandfather would like you a lot, Trix,” he told her. “Truly.”

“Is Grandfather pushing it?” She asked. “I mean, about you coming to stay with him?”

“No, not really, but he’s let me know that I’m welcome there any time. Eve is right. The Silver City is boring. Pretty, but very boring.”

Trixie wondered when the First Woman would come by for a visit again. It had been a few years since she’d last seen the dark-eyed, dark-haired beauty. The last she had heard from Lucifer and her mother, Eve and Maze were off bounty hunting again.

“I’m glad Grandfather isn’t being pushy about it, Charlie.”

“Me, too.”

They flew on for a long while, chatting about this and that, and lost track of time as they did. Finally, they both realized the sun was just on the verge of starting to come up and knew they needed to think about heading back home once more. They could see its warm glow on the horizon, but the fiery ball had not yet actually started to put in an appearance.

“Shit! How long will it take us to get back?”

“Well, if I was alone, I could do it in an instant, but with you in my arms, I have to be careful. You are mortal, after all.”

“Speaking of that, if you’re immortal, how have you aged like a regular human person?”

“Dad thinks it has something to do with what I am. He’s of the opinion that I’ll reach a point where I just stop or maybe I’ll just decide to stop visibly aging. Either way, I have no idea and I’ll find out when it happens, I guess. We’ll see what happens.”

“We’re going to have to head back home, Charlie. Mom’ll be pissed if she finds out,” Trixie told her cousin. “We’re going to have to chance a fast trip.”

“I don’t know about that, Trix,” Charlie moaned. “I don’t want to accidentally hurt you doing it.”

“We have to, Charlie,” she replied. “Start slow at first and then start speeding up. If I pass out or something, you can slow down again.”

Looking unhappy, Charlie nodded, tightening his grip on his cousin’s fragile mortal body and turning back toward home. She thought she could see doubt emerging in his expression as he set his jaw, and she watched as the muscle there twitched with his barely contained stress.

“Take a deep breath, Trix,” he told her, and she quickly complied. “I’m starting out—now!”

The air and clouds around her blurring with the tears that sprang to her eyes in response to his burst of speed, a wave of dizziness took her…

 

Trixie woke on top of her bed, most of her many layers of clothing lying on the floor out of sight of her bedroom door. Her bedroom window, which had been deliberately left open when they left on their adventure, was now mostly closed.

Getting up, she peeled off the rest of her clothes, noting they smelled a bit odd after the journey. Without another thought, she jammed everything that could go in the washer into her bedroom hamper and piled the things that would need dry cleaning into a dark corner for later attention.

A cleansing shower later, she climbed into her pajamas and was about to go to bed for a couple hours of sleep when she saw the note tucked under the edge of the laptop that lay atop her desk. Grabbing it, she recognized the crabbed handwriting that belonged to Charlie. Angelic he might be, but his handwriting looked like a drunken chicken had staggered across a puddle of black ink before progressing onto the sheet of paper in in hand.

 

“Trix, we got in just before the sun reached the horizon here. I got you as undressed as I could before I couldn’t bring myself to do any more. Sorry I couldn’t do more, but you know –

You lasted about twenty seconds before you passed out. I thought about trying to wake you once I slowed a little bit, but decided it was better to get you home. I’m not going to worry too much, because you sounded like you were breathing just fine and when I listened to your heart, it was beating good.

I’ll call a little later this morning to check on you if I don’t hear from you before you text me letting me know you’re okay. (Yes, that’s a hint. Take it.)

Anyhow, I had a good time. I hope you did, too, and I hope we can do it again soon.

Love ya,

Charlie”

 

Trixie smiled at her cousin’s solicitude. She wondered if it was something innate in angels that they just cared, or maybe it was something about his Dad rubbing off on him.

“So, did you have fun, young lady?”

Trixie spun and saw her stepfather standing in her doorway, a knowing smile of his own on his face. She gave a guilty blush and Lucifer responded with a soft chuckle. He waved a hand in dismissal.

“Your mother and I knew it would only be a matter of time before you and your cousin tried it,” he told her. “She decided she would leave it to me to talk with you about it once you did.”

“I—I’m sorry,” she blurted out, face hot.

“There’s nothing to be sorry about, Beatrice,” he replied. “Your mother and I have been doing that for several years now.”

“Charlie said—”

“Ah yes, that young man,” Lucifer’s mouth quirked sideways. “I have never doubted that he knew, but of course, he’s never said anything about it to me. Perhaps his father said something?”

“I don’t know.”

“Never mind,” the Devil said. “Just be careful and don’t do anything stupid—and tell either your mother or myself before you do it again, at least to let us know where you’ll both be going.”

“Are Amenadiel and Aunt Linda mad at us?”

“I have no idea, and really, it’s up to Charlie to say anything to them, if he likes.”

Trixie must have appeared to be confused, because her stepfather walked up to her and wrapped her in one of his rare hugs. He rested his chin lightly atop her head, and Trixie felt completely contained and safe from anything that might threaten her.

“I care about you, Beatrice. You and your mother. I’ll leave the care and feeding of mutant angels to their respective parents.”

Trixie relaxed into the warmth of Lucifer’s embrace and took a deep smell of the natural musk he radiated which always seemed to help set her mind at ease. She had heard of and seen the response of other human women, except for her mother, to Lucifer’s mere presence and wondered, not for the first time, if she was as immune to his innate charms as Chloe. For now, anyway, it would appear to be so, because anything else would have been entirely too creepy and gross.

“Now you try to get some sleep, and a little later today, I’ll invite Charlie over to discuss with him about how best to carry humans on flights like the one you both just enjoyed,” he paused. “You and your mother go find something fun to do. Maybe one of those ridiculous chick flicks the two of you seem to enjoy so much. After all, there may or may not be some yelling involved, and she really doesn’t need to hear that.”

Yelling. Or not.

So maybe her stepfather wasn’t as cool with the whole adventure as he pretended.

He gave her a final squeeze, released her, and turned down the edge of her bedclothes.

“To bed with you!”

“Goodnight, Dad!” she said as she climbed into bed, watching as he turned to leave the room. “And thank you.”

“You’re welcome, child,” he replied, not turning around as he walked toward the bedroom door.

“I love you.”

He stopped, turned, and looked at Trixie, his eyes soft and full of emotion.

“I love you, too, Beatrice,” he replied, then turned again to leave her to her dreams.

“Dad?”

He stopped, the door almost closed behind him, silk pajama-clad back to her.

“Yes?” he asked, his voice soft and careful.

“Could you do that with me? Maybe we could fly together sometime, too?”

“Would you really like that, Beatrice?”

“Of course, I would! Why wouldn’t I?”

“You really should have said something about it before.”

“I know, and I’m sorry, but I’m asking now. Could we?”

“Yes, we could.”

“Promise?”

“I promise,” he replied and turned, smiling beatifically. “I am always a Devil of my word!”