Chapter IV - Murder Most Foul
Cookies! Yum! Hope you like! Now the plot really begins to heat up...
Sally couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief when Angela's beeper had gone off midway through their Chinese takeout dinner (she and Chas did not have to partake in it, but Sally couldn't resist a bit of spare rib). The detective was a bit too inquisitive for her liking and she could tell that all through the meal the woman had been itching to ask her more about her murder. It was in her nature after all; she was a homicide detective, that's what they did.
Angela, once outside in the hall, relaxed as well. Something about Sally didn't sit right, like the angel wasn't telling them something, or John wasn't telling her something about her. It was awkward, sitting at the table with the two of them. Chas didn't say much, or, John and Sally didn't give him a moment to. The two of them were cracking jokes and remembering old times so long ago and so obscure she couldn't possibly relate; it was like going to the movies with two friends who've known each other forever, and you can't see to get a word in edgewise.
"Sorry about that," John murmured once the door was shut soundly behind Angela. "She didn't know what she was saying."
"It's alright, Johnny," Sally said around bites of spare rib, her eyes downcast. "I don't mind much." In truth, she minded a great deal, and didn't like being interrogated about what happened. No sane person would. Her eyes flitted across the table, wide and like liquid emerald, her auburn hair sleek and limp as she anxiously twisted a strand around her finger, eyes unfocused.
He could tell she wanted to get out of there, she wanted to leave, but John knew she wouldn't. It was her job, and he knew the second she set foot outside the building the influences would start again; just her presence kept most of them back. Chas could stave them off for a while, but he didn't have the experience, or stamina needed for this long of a job. "You want to go for a walk?" he said, watching her warily.
Without replying she stood up, smiling gratefully at him. Chas followed them out into the night air and the odd trio strolled down the cement sidewalk nonchalantly, as if nothing in the world was wrong, though they knew that statement could never be right.
"So, is Angela your girlfriend?" Sally said, fiddling with the hem of her sleeve. Her clothes had changed once she set foot outside John's door from the pajamas she had been in all day and now she wore a high-collared white top, frayed jean skirt, and high heels. She looked the part of an average, L.A. seventeen year-old girl.
John coughed, hesitating to answer. Sally smiled and gave him a nudge, "Well?"
"I'm not- I'm not exactly sure about that. We've haven't had time to talk about it much, I guess."
"Well you should. Angela's not one to be lead on, Johnny. She's not like the girls you usually 'date'." She did air quotes for emphasis and grinned as he narrowed his eyes at her, biting back a savage retort. Chas chuckled next to him, and the exorcist rounded on his former apprentice, eyes blazing.
"Shut up, Chas," he muttered, cuffing the angel gently. It didn't hurt physically, but hurt the boy's pride as it always did. Sally only laughed wildly, knowing John wouldn't dare touch her.
Chas grimaced and adjusted his paperboy cap that had been knocked askew, blushing furiously as Sally smirked at him. "No need to get physical, John," he muttered, scuffing his shoes as they continued walking.
The trio passed an electronics store, near closing time, with a display of televisions in the window, all tuned to the local news. A handful of people had congregated on the sidewalk, watching it lazily. It was too hot to move anyways.
John noticed the heat first and he paused in front of the store, a hand straying to his tight collar. Though Chas and Sally were angels, they were not blind to the elements, and the heat crept up their bodies, making them catch a last cool breath. It radiated off the store, as if someone had opened a giant oven and you were seated in front of it. The two angels stopped next to John, eyes fixed on the largest TV.
"…and in heavier news, word has just come of an apparent homicide in Long Beach. Ella Clayton, a correspondent for the British Broadcasting Channel, was found dead in the harbor. Her body was attached to a buoy and was discovered late this afternoon by Coast Guard. The BBC is set to issue a statement tomorrow…"
Sally's eyes were wide and her hands began to shake. John wrenched his eyes away from the program to see her, standing there, nearly ready to collapse. Ella Clayton. What the hell does that mean to Sally? Why- oh, God.
"Sally, it might not be-."
"Chas, can you hold things down until I get back," she said roughly, her voice not mirroring everything she felt. Chas nodded slowly, looking from her to John, who only ran a hand through his hair.
"Good." She then unfolded her wings, and with a single beat, disappeared into the sky.
John watched her journey skyward, knowing damn well where she was going. "This isn't going to be good, Chas," he muttered, his body feeling heavy. No doubt this was the reason Angela was paged during dinner. He just hoped she had the sense to stay out of Sally's way.
"Ella Clayton," Chas echoed, furrowing his brow. Onscreen, a picture was shown of a smiling news correspondent in front of the Houses of Parliament. She bore a striking resemblance to Sally, though she was much older. "That was her sister, wasn't it?"
The flight to Long Beach didn't take more than a minute. Sally was desperately beating her wings, cutting through the night air like a hot knife through butter. She alighted near the shore, behind a parked squad car. The area in front of her was cut off by obnoxious yellow tape and she simply ducked under it, leaving the news reporters anxiously clicking their cameras and shouting questions to anyone who passed behind. The angel strode towards the congregation of police officers, detectives, and two coroners, willing her feet to move.
"Do you see these? What do you think? A cult?" one of the cops said, directing his words towards the nearest homicide detective. A certain detective named Angela Dodson. He pointed to something under the white sheet that was draped over the waterlogged body.
Angela shook her head. "No, not a cult. I've seen these before," she sighed, running a hand through her hair. Then her eyes widened, and a light bulb might have lit over her head if it was possible. "Somebody get me the Arachnid case file."
"What?" the officer blanched, "You can't be serious! Detective, it's been ten years without-."
"Then it's a copycat," she said sharply, rising to her feet. "Or this is the real thing."
Sally heard everything, standing just outside the ring of people standing around her sister's body. Her wings wilted into her back and her face remained stoic, aside from a quivering lip.
"Somebody get me that file," Angela barked, pushing away from the corpse, "There's someone I need to talk to- oh!" She stopped short, seeing Sally standing in front of her. With Angela's recognition came Sally's visibility.
"Hey, you!" an officer barked, grabbing her by the arm. "How'd you get here? You can't be back here-!" Sally shrugged him, off giving him a cool glare.
Angela stepped forward, putting out a hand between the two. "It's alright, Briggs, she's with me." Then she put a hand on Sally's shoulder, "Come on, Sally, I'm going to need your help on this one."
The two steered away, standing near the water's edge. "It's him, isn't it?" Angela said after a moment. "The Arachnid, right?" Sally gave no reply and Angela continued, "You wouldn't be here if it wasn't."
"I wouldn't be here," Sally corrected, turning her head, "if that wasn't my sister lying under that sheet."