“There are only two kinds who could kill a demon, Jibra-iil,” Eran said quietly. Using the Angel’s Hebrew name was akin to calling him sir. “One of them, or one of you. I don’t know what help I can be.”
Gabriel just looked at him, a pale statue of judgment.
Eran took a trembling breath and stretched his back, trying to ease a cramp in his bound wings. Then he knelt by the body and gave it a closer look. The demon’s facial creases had smoothed in death. Black lashes rested on scaled cheeks. Sexless hipbones jutted through the red skin.
Eran edged around the body, trying not to blink, not to miss any detail. Every claw curled like a sacrificial knife against the demon’s fingers and toes, but they were clean. It hadn't fought back. Mucous blood slicked a jagged ridge on the back of the demon’s skull. Crimson scales scattered across the concrete behind the head.
Eran reached into his pocket for his dragon-hide gloves and slipped them on. He wiped away some of the blood and nodded.
“See?” he said. The demon blood sizzled on his glove and he wiped it on the concrete before it ate through the hide. “Quick and dirty. They got him from behind. They didn’t kick him or even touch his face. The rest of the scales are still intact.”
He drew a breath through his mouth, tasted bile and dead demon.
“They?” Gabriel asked.
Eran rose and prowled around the alley for a few seconds, but found no more scales, no fiery sword, no claw marks on the ground. He shook his head and chanced a glance at Gabriel. “A figure of speech. My best guess is one killer.”
Gabriel’s wings moved in some other cosmic plane’s gentle breeze. “Can you find the one who did this?”
Eran stripped off his gloves and scraped them against a dumpster to wipe off more demon blood. “I don’t know, Jibra-ill, I...”
“Missa-iil would consider it a personal favor.”
Eran caught his breath and felt like throwing up again. Michael. “No disrespect, Jibra-ill. But it’s just a demon. Why do you care?”
“Even this was one of God’s creatures. Once.”
Eran studied the scene again and spotted a glow beneath the dumpster. He strode over and knelt on one knee, reached under and felt something soft. He drew it out and stared. The silky feather shone against his palm like white neon.
“Is this one of yours?” he asked, turning to Gabriel.
But the Angel was gone.