Timeline: November 8th, 2007 — late evening.

Ramiel had just stopped back in to report that they could not reach Ariyah at the moment. That seemed to worry or distract him somewhat, but it was no cause for immediate concern; Ariyah often took walks or journeyed around a bit. What did surprise him was Daniel’s request to see Lyla.

“It’s important. Please,” Daniel asked. He was lying on a bed with fresh sheets, having been given strict instructions from John that he’d done quite enough moving about for the night. His injuries weren’t going to heal even under his attention if Daniel didn’t stop and relax a while. “Don’t do this for me,” he continued, “but for the long-term. Please send her in here alone. You may wait outside if you wish. I’ll need to talk to you later. But I must speak to her alone.”

Ramiel simply looked at Daniel with his cold, dark eyes, and then left. About five minutes later, Daniel heard the door to the room he’d been given open again and turned his head to see Lyla step inside. She moved with the same grace he always remembered her having, noiseless crossing the space to his bedside. She was dressed in precisely the same clothes as earlier that day; low-riding jeans hugged her hips and clung to every curve of her legs. She wore a simple black tee-shirt that stretched pleasingly across her chest, and had the words “Bite Me.” written in large, stark white letters across the front. The one addition was a short black leather jacket she’d put on later as proof against the November chill.

She stood watching him with those strange eyes. His friends had told Daniel the story of how she’d lost them a month ago battling a spider-like monster that hollowed people out from the inside and took their bodies and skins. The eyes that had regenerated in the place of the dark brown eyes she’d been born with were such a pale blue as to look silver. Someone had called it “ironic” once.

“Lyla,” Daniel said, “I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry.” He coughed a bit, blood dripping from his lips from the still seeping internal injuries. He slowly lifted a kerchief to dab the blood away. “I think I understand why I didn’t understand. At least a little bit, its still a whirlwind in my head. You tried to be my friend and I was callous to you. There is no excuse I can give. All I can do is offer this apology.”

Lyla blinked. Her superhuman subconscious was registering scents subtly rolling off him. The aromas were very faint to humans, but quite noticeable to her: blood, sweat, dirt, even the smell of the sheets he lay upon. These things were noticed, but not what held her attention now.

She granted him a half-smile that was more cynical than pleased. “You took a hard blow to the head, Daniel. Are you sure you thought about this? You sounded pretty certain that you disliked the person I am, and the person that Ramiel is. What made you change your mind?”

“It’s not so much that I changed my mind Lyla, though on the surface that would seem so. It’s that I’ve seen something, understood something, that I hadn’t before. There was a moment, a moment between existence and nothingness, that I saw, I felt. It’s a mass of images and visions, that may take me my lifetime to truly understand. I didn’t dislike the person you were or the person you are becoming (or to wit Ramiel), it is that I couldn’t understand it, couldn’t accept it. To a degree, feared it. It’s all the same. The visions, the enemies, my compatriots, your changes. It’s all part of something I feared to accept. I was at the door, and I wanted to shut the world out. I think, perhaps I can walk through that door. It won’t be quick, but perhaps I can do so.”

Daniel continued, pain obviously getting worse as he continued stoically, “I not a new person Lyla. I’ve made errors. I am trying to say that despite my feelings at the time, you and the others certainly didn’t deserve to be the focus of my angst. Forgive me. I can’t prove that what I am saying is true. I’m a lawyer, we’re assumed to be liars, but if you take it at face value you won’t regret it.”

Daniel’s stocism slightly gives way as he winces, “I…I have some other things to tell you both, visions and nuances of thought. But it may take me some time to figure it out.”

Lyla watched him in his pain, but something other than compassion roved behind her eyes. “It hurts, doesn’t it?” she asked rhetorically. “Being on Death’s door hurts, but it’s not a bad pain Daniel. It is like the fires of a forge. You can let it burn you, scald your soul and make you hide from your wounds, or it can make you hard, tough enough to cope with the challenges this life will dish out.

“I’ll forgive you again, Daniel. But you need to understand something. Magic and power — even your gifts — are things human kind is not meant to know. They are safe only because they are blind to the deadly threats that look just across the veil. They are safe because they do not threaten those who have power.

“You must never – not even a little, not once, but never ever reveal what we are and who it is we protect the world from. Because once they know — once the common man really knows, all barriers will fall and the powers that be will target them. Human beings don’t have the strength to protect themselves. We have to do that. And that means sometimes we have to protect them from themselves, but mostly, we have to protect them from things out there — and people like us who mean them harm. So, when you threaten the secrets that make Ramiel strong, you endager everyone, not just him. You force those who are willing to protect this world to act. And that would be a waste, Daniel, because you have valuable powers and role to play that no one else can fill.”

Daniel responded slowly, gathering his thoughts and pushing back the pain. “I’m human and I have a gift, though I am no hero. I’ll endeavor use it to protect humanity anyway. Let me define what I mean. Humanity, the whole of humanity, in my belief includes everyone, mundane, mage, werewolf, seer, etc. We are all human, though some may not believe that. All beings of thought and conscience are worth saving, if only from themselves. Someday, I hope that humanity will be ready to accept these things. Not as masters or slaves, but as equal valued persons here in this world. You are right though. I’m a liberal and look how I reacted toward change? Humans are on the whole not ready to accept what goes on beyond their senses. Though, mundane humans are much stronger than you give them credit for.”

He coughs, “Anyway, worry not. Your secrets are safe. I want to learn all I can about this to understand it better. I can only do that by building trust. I’ve seen death. I do not fear it. Not in the least. It gives one a certain solace to know for certain about the beyond. So I’m asking you to take a leap of faith. Trust me,” Daniel’s eyes showed complete sincerity, but not a lawyer’s sincerity or a poker face; rather one certain of his convictions beyond doubt. “If you want me to fill this position, I cannot do so out of the loop. I need to understand so what I envision has meaning. I even intend to travel to learn what others have learned, both locally and overseas. It’s a beginning.”

She shook her head. “No. You are heading toward total disclosure again. That isn’t going to happen, so don’t ask and don’t attempt to find out for yourself. And if you violate someone’s privacy by pushing it or sneaking around behind our backs, expect resentment and distrust. You’re asking us — you’re asking me to trust you. Then trust us — and me — to tell you what you need to know when you need to know it.

“Also, stop selling yourself short. You are certainly human. But like Ramiel, you are not merely human. Your powers guarantee that. They don’t merely grant you insight beyond normal perception, they remove veils that would blind you to things that you must see now in order to understand and fully take advantage of your true Gifts.”

“I’m not selling myself short, just being a bit humble. It’s a rare thing for me, enjoy it while its here. I am merely human. But being human isn’t mere.” He laughs a little, “On the other thing, please, you might be misinterpreting me. I know I’ll never know everything about your new family, or the other’s ways. And I know there are secrets you can never share. I accept that. I simply wish to understand, not share or participate. I won’t violate your privacy to do so. Tell what you wish and what you can, when you can and I am satisfied. Anyway, trying to understand and grow in my own abilities alone will take years, so I doubt I’ll be sneaking behind anyone’s back anytime soon. I think my gifts are a different interpretation of being unstuck in time. Not unlike the Kurt Vonnegut novel. I can go forward, I can go back. It will take a lot to study, but maybe I might be able to disconnect my essence completely. It’s like being on the edge of understanding. I can almost grasp it.”

Lyla watched him curiously for a long moment. It seemed there was more, far more, that could be said or asked but now wasn’t the time. “Rest for now, Daniel. I’ll see you in the morning,” she said softly.

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