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~:: Out of the Ashes
Chapter VI ::~

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"She will be fine in a few months, I am sure. She's been through a lot all at once. She just needs some time - and lots of love - to heal."

Keres nodded thoughtfully as he watched her sleeping. Even in the depths of the drug-induced slumber, her visage was tense and drawn. This was one battle he could not fight for her, and it was driving him crazy.

"Thanks, doc," he said quietly. "I just wish there was something I could do." He gently pulled a few sweaty strands of tangled red mane from her forehead.

"You are doing it. She knows you are here." The doctor gave him a soft smile. "I have known her for a long time, and she's a tough little fighter. I am sure with your support she will pull through this dark time. It won't be soon. But in time, she will heal."

Keres nodded as he met the young doctor's pale blue eyes. "Thanks for coming. I hated to call you at this late hour. I tried to get her to go in yesterday for an appointment but she refused. She can be pretty stubborn."

The doctor laughed. "Yes, that she is. That may work to our advantage. It means she's less likely to just give up and become despondent. She's pretty heavily sedated right now. I'd like to keep her that way. At least for a couple of weeks, until the initial shock of losing her sister begins to lose its edge."

He nodded. "I agree."

"Az..." they both turned as the diminutive redhead began to toss beneath the covers.

The doctor met his worried gaze and shook her head. "A nightmare. The sedatives will hopefully keep her from remembering them. But there is nothing I can do to stop them from happening."

Suddenly, the little empath shot bolt upright in the bed. The sheets fell away as she swung her legs over the side of the bed and promptly fell flat on her face.

Keres reached down to help her up and urged her back into the bed.

"No!" she insisted as she fought off his embrace. "Az!"

Tears stung his eyes. The doctor exchanged a sympathetic glance with him and stepped over to assist him in guiding Dawl back onto the bed.

With a force stronger than he'd ever seen, she broke free of their hold. "NO!" she yelled, struggling to focus her eyes. The room was spinning and she could not bring anything into focus but she knew one thing. She needed to get out of that bed and to the balcony. She flung herself forward and promptly face-planted onto the soft carpet. This is like being drunk, she thought in frustration. Wait, I have had lots of practice at this. I can do this!

Before they could get a firm grip on her as she lay on the floor, she wriggled free and began to crawl towards the doors. She reached up for the knob, pulling herself upright and yanking the door open simultaneously, resulting in her falling backwards as the door swung in towards her. She landed squarely on her rear, bouncing slightly as she hit the floor. "Ow!" she uttered, as she rolled just out of her lovers grasping reach to once again scramble on hands and knees towards the balcony.

The night air was decidedly cold. A clear sky was strewn with countless glittering stars. The tiniest sliver of a moon hung low on the horizon as she gazed out over the city.

A sharp breeze gusted across the balcony as the tiny empath felt the cobbled stone grind into the palms of her hands and her knees. Her eyes tried to focus on the firmament stretched out above her. As she felt tears of frustration stinging her eyes, a warm glow washed over her upturned face.

"Az..." she cried, weakly.

Keres and the doctor stood in the doorway watching the little redhead as she raised up to lift her hands to the heavens. Suddenly the glow brightened and a ball of bright energy began to coalesce directly above the kneeling demoness.

At first the light was brilliant and blinding. As their eyes adjusted, they could see the outline of a huge wingspan overshadowing the balcony. The air churned as a warm golden light shone round the figure hovering above.

"Hello, my sister," Azazela said, as calmly as if she'd just come from a routine mission. Her voice sounded like a chorus as it rang out on the cool night breezes.

"I must...be dreaming...it's the drugs..." Dawl mumbled as she collapsed in a graceless heap on the cold rough stone.

Keres leaped to her side and cradled her gently while the doctor stood frozen in shock. Not only was she Dawl's physician, but she was her friend. She, too, had been to Azazela's funeral. She'd seen the casket closed and ultimately lowered into the dark stone tomb. This could not be real.

Keres broke the tension. "Az, you're looking pretty good for a dead girl."

"Much has happened since I left this earth," Az said quietly. "I have been...changed."

Keres cocked his head to one side. "How so?"

"I am no longer counted as one of the Fallen ones, but have been restored to the ranks of the Obedient."

Keres grinned widely. "I can understand that. You were always a good girl, at heart, Az."

He looked down at the unconscious empath in his arms. "Can you still....?"

With a slight nod, Azazela stretched forth her hand and cast a burst of sparkling purple light over the little redhead. A sudden lucidity surged through the tiny demoness as her eyes fluttered open. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked into her sister's eyes.

"Az? What are you doing here?" she croaked.

"I have returned to this place. I have been sent here to help you."

Dawl looked at her sister's radiant form. "Are you... a demon now?"

Az shook her head. "I suppose you could say I was pardoned."

Dawl gasped. "You are 'Elohiym," she whispered as she prostrated herself before her sister.

Azazela nodded. "You need not bow before me. I am no different than you."

Dawl's eyes welled with tears. "Az, that isn't true. You've always been different. You have always been the good one."

Azazela landed softly on the rough surface and reached out to take her sister in her arms. "We all have much good within us. It is that good that we must nurture and share, in order to bring peace and light to this dying world."

The little empath wrapped her arms around the angel who was holding her tightly. "I can't believe you are here. And alive. I've been so..."

Az met her eyes. "I know. I must tell you, Sheken is okay. She is in the company of an assassin, the same one who was sent to kill her. He found he could not bring himself to do this vile deed and instead fled with her, with the help of a young demoness who has betrayed her master. They are all in grave danger, both from the forces of Arachnos, and from those who seek retribution. My firstborn leads the charge against them. It was she who..." Azazela's voice cracked.

"Killed you?" Keres asked quietly.

Az nodded. "She used my own weakness against me. It was my own fault. I should have listened to Cale."

Dawl shook her head vigorously. "You were just being a mother, Az. We cannot help the way we feel about our children. No matter what they do we love them. We can't help it. It is just part of who we are."

Az looked pensive for a moment before her expression turned grim. "At any rate, I must go to Adara, and of course, in doing so I will inevitably end up seeing Cale." She drew a protracted sigh.

"Do you want us to come along?" her sister suggested, helpfully.

Azazela gave her a pallid smile and shook her head. "Thank you, but no. This is something I must do alone."

"Are you..." the tiny empath's voice cracked as she struggled to find the right words.

Reading her sister's thoughts with an ease and a clarity that took her by complete surprise, Az gave her a nod and a knowing look. "Yes, I will be staying here. I will not need the same...accommodations...as I did before. But to answer your unspoken question, I will be around."

Dawl smiled broadly at the stunning blonde towering over her. "I am glad. I don't know what you went through. I know it must have been awful. But..." she paused, running forward and throwing herself at the statuesque angel. "I just want to say, that I missed you and I love you, very much."

Az smiled and returned the hug. "I love you, too, DeLara. I could not ask for a better sister."

"Oh Az, yes you could. If I hadn't been out of my head worrying over Sheken, I could have come and..."

"And what? Died beside me? What happened was what was meant to be. Do not blame yourself in this matter." Az held her sister tight and stroked the wispy red mane in between the empath's thick horns.

With a tearful gaze the small empath pulled herself from her sister's grasp. "Maybe we both need to stop trying blame ourselves for things beyond our control."

Az nodded thoughtfully. With a long blink she said "I must go now. I still have to go to Adara. And face Cale..." she added ruefully.

"Good luck with that," Dawl quipped with a wry smile.

"I am glad you are back." Keres broke his thoughtful silence as he hugged the towering blonde angel.

"Thank you," she whispered breathlessly as she recovered from the powerful scrappers embrace. It made her briefly wonder how her seemingly fragile sister was able to survive his attentions.

Keres turned and put his arms around his tiny mate as they and the still stunned doctor stood on the balcony and watched the glowing angel ascend gracefully into the clear night sky.


To Chapter VII