Jen nodded her agreement, "Lucy, I know you love my brother, and while it was pretty shitty to go off half-cocked like that, I can't blame you for being suspicious. I'm still reeling from everything we found out; I think we all need to put this mess behind us and figure out how to move forward...together." She finished with a brilliant smile.

Like I said, that kid makes me proud every single day.

Lucy's face cracked, fresh tears rolling down her face as she rose, dragging the both of them into a tight hug, small sobs slipping out of her.

I pushed myself to my feet and was promptly glomped by Ari, the short Demon hugging me tightly.

"I'm sorry, mate; I didn't know what to think either." I nodded into the top of her head, "S'okay, man, it's been a fucking weird day." "Right?" She whispered," Got your back all the way."

"All the fucking way, dude." I gave her a squeeze and stepped back, leaning against the wall as I watched Mom, Jen, and Lucy taking turns trying to hug the life out of each other, sniffles and weak smiles all around.

It would take some time for us all to really get right.

But we'd mend.

Together.

*

"Signore? Altro caffe?"

I barely looked up as I responded.

"No grazie amico mio, ti farò sapere se ho bisogno di qualcos'altro"

The smiling waiter was just being polite, but I had other things on my mind; I silently thanked Lucy for the language abilities. A few more runes inked on me, and I could suddenly speak everything from Arabic to some obscure African dialects.

Some part of me felt that it was just lazy, but damn if it didn't come in handy.

I scratched at my beard as he nodded and walked off, whispering into my cuff as a blacked-out van rolled up the street, coming to a stop fifty-ish yards away from me.

"Syb' target approaching."

"I have eyes on, Orias?"

"Ready and waiting."

Six months...Six months had passed since my meeting with God, the revelation that I was half-Angel, and mine and Lucy's blowup. Things had returned to almost normal, but she doted on me more, almost like she was afraid to make me angry, no matter how many times I told her she needed to let it go. I humored her, making sure I was extra affectionate.

I smiled a little.

Like that was any kind of struggle.

I loved her so much it hurt; even now, I could feel her all around me, holding me even though she was a thousand miles away.

Our latest operation led us to Florence; Ori, Sybilla, and I had gone in low-vis to take down a safe house. The group we were fighting, all the documents so far, had referenced "The Trinity." Heaven, Hell, and Earth acting in concert had set up dozens of these black sites worldwide, inscribed with warding runes that made them invisible to scrying or any sort of magical intervention. With all the intel they had from both sides, they were more than capable of laying low, so we did the only thing we could.

We got down in the dirt with them.

I was sitting in my vantage point, a little curbside cafe, Syb was up on the roof opposite me, Ori was...somewhere... in case we couldn't handle it. The giant Demon grumbled about staying on backup, but the plan was the plan, laid down by Lucy unless the mission dictated otherwise. I nudged the bag with my toe, making sure it was still within reach. Inside sat my weapon, tucked between some clothes. We were only going up against humans, so I rolled an MP7 and a Glock that was currently tucked in a Crossbreed holster just behind my right hip. My light jacket concealed an almost bare plate carrier and four mags for the little German submachine gun.

I looked like a local; we'd sourced all the clothing, I'd even done my homework on how guys wore their hair in this part of the world. We couldn't afford to spook these guys.

I watched them get out of the van, laughing and joking with one another; the trick was their eyes; they kept flicking to the sides, making sure that nobody was taking too keen an interest as they walked up the steps and into the small flat.

"Syb, I've got five on deck; anything up there?"

"I confirm five; there appears to be two more inside my Prince."

I rolled my eyes at her formality.

"I saw that...My Prince."

That dragged a smile out of me, "A-firm. Ori? Start the clock, Syb? On me."

"Moving."

I glanced up just in time to see her vanish off the rooftop, reappearing in an alley and crossing the street, waving at me happily, a broad smile on her very human-looking form, a leggy brunette with wide blue eyes that drew the gazes of the men and the ire of every woman on my side of the street.

"Ciao! Mi dispiace tanto per il ritardo! Sono stato trattenuto."

I slid out of my chair, hugging her, "Nessun problema dolcezza. Lo facciamo?" I said, loud enough for the next table to hear.

She nodded, "Andiamo."

I grabbed my bag, and as she looped her arm into mine, we got close, like lovers would, walking down an idyllic Italian street, two blocks to go, and I felt the rush begin, that jangle of pre-mission nerves. Ori and Sybilla had trained me up big time, mostly magical knowledge dumps, but you couldn't get rid of the jitters with anything but experience.

Plus, there was the unanswered question of where I'd go if I bit it out here. I wasn't in a rush to find out either.

Fifty yards became thirty as Sybilla talked my ear off about her day; I nodded and smiled, playing the role.

Thirty became ten, and she pulled me into a corner for a kiss, or at least that's what it looked like from the street.

I dropped the mostly empty bag seconds later, the compact weapon firmly tucked under my coat, the sling looped around my shoulder.

"Would you like to lead?" Syb whispered.

I nodded; I wasn't going to send her in first willingly.

Sybilla knocked, and a moment later, a distinctly Eastern European dude answered; Syb started asking for directions in rapid Italian; the guy was torn between checking her out and trying to follow along, his eyes flicked to me, and she took her opening.

Sybilla stabbed him so fast I barely saw her move, and blood exploded out of his mouth as he crumpled against her. I pushed past her, my MP7 snapping up. A flash of movement and I cut loose with a suppressed five-round burst, a strangled scream and a spray of blood was my reply; I pushed into the apartment, slicing the corner into the kitchen. Where two more were beginning to turn, I hosed them both, ripping the room apart in a cloud of wood splinters and blood.

"Clear," I whispered; Syb tapped my shoulder as she rolled past me, her sword held low, down the long hallway, approaching the living room, where a soccer game blared on the TV. I rotated magazines, swapping the half-empty for a fresh one. Syb paused, peeking the corner and holding up three fingers. I nodded and pulled a banger out of my pocket, gently sliding the pinout and moving up to her back. My hand settled across her shoulder, the spoon on the banger flew free with a soft ping.

Someone cheered as England scored, and I underhanded the flashbang into the room, hurling it in a high arc where it detonated in a brilliant flash of burning magnesium.

I squeezed Sybilla's shoulder.

We pushed as one while they were still shaking it off; I took my sector, dropping two guys with a sustained burst, the suppressed SMG sounding like a buzzsaw in close quarters, ripping them to pieces. Syb blurred across the room and cut the third guy apart before he could scream.

That's six, so where?...

The bathroom door flew open, and our last player emerged, an AK clutched in his grip.

"Back to the pit, abomination!" He screamed.

I dropped to a knee as he started shooting wildly, punching holes in the wall over my head, my Glock snapped out of my holster, and I fired two rounds into his legs; the final round went into his face as he pitched forward.

Seven.

"Clear!" I called out

"All clear."

I keyed my radio, "Ori? How're we looking?" His voice crackled back to me, "Nothing on the band. We're good for now."

"Copy, commencing SSE."

Ten minutes later, we were out, bags of papers, and a few hard drives slung over our shoulders. We moved slow, staying in character until the sirens sounded off in the distance. We broke into a jog, heading into the alley where our magic extract awaited. Ori stood there, a good deal shorter than usual, a sullen look on his face as he put the finishing touches on a magic circle.

"I was wondering when you'd show up." He rumbled. Sybilla giggled. "Do not worry, darling, next time you can kill them all, and we'll watch the car."

Ori grunted but smiled all the same as the circle lit up and we stepped through, appearing in our own safe house just outside the city. The quiet two-story house had been our staging ground since Lucy had moved from Germany to London. I missed her, Mom, and Jen too, but she was busy running a war, and I'd be damned if the girls were leaving her sight, a sentiment she shared. I dumped my bag on the table; Syb followed suit, stretching her back as she walked towards the fridge, grabbing two regular beers and an outsized forty for Orias.

"Another operation in the bag, hopefully, this will find us your "Suit." I settled into a chair, "Fuckin' A, been a minute here."

Orias huffed, "If he were a warrior, he would meet us on the field. Instead, they run like cowards."

Sybilla started on my least favorite part of the job, fanning out the paperwork and going through it line by line, comparing it to other pieces of intel, trying to build a clear picture. She slid me my beer, and I tossed the forty to Ori, who nodded his thanks.

I took a long pull; the Moretti was like a gift from...somebody and dove into the monotonous bullshit.

Hours later, I stood, rubbing my eyes and digging for a cigarette, "Anybody find anything?" Ori shook his head, "Nothing." Syb' piped up, "I may have found something small." I lit the smoke, leaning against the wall, "Lay it on me." "I keep coming across references to "Sparrow" Over and over again in little corners of reports since the warehouse in Russia. It may be nothing, but we should cross-reference with the other teams." I nodded, "Do we have anything left in Western Europe?"

Ori shook his head, "The other teams reported in while we were out; the last safe house was in France; they took it down a few hours ago. Still sifting through the intel as we speak." "Orders?"

Sybilla was shuffling papers, but she responded, "Once we clean up, I will check our wards and make contact with the Queen."

"Alright then, let's get this cleaned up and figure out the next move." It didn't take us very long, organizing everything with references to "Sparrow" into a separate bag; the rest of the chaff went into a larger bag for analysts to pick through. I cooked dinner while Syb went over her pre-com checks, making sure our blackout runes kept away the prying eyes.

I felt a hand slide over my shoulder, "She wishes to speak with you, my Prince." I nodded, flipping the steaks, "Can you keep an eye on these for me?"

"It would be a pleasure."

Her odd way of speaking never failed to make me smile, like something out of a fantasy novel.

I walked through the darkened house to our version of a safe room; warding runes lined every surface blocking magical energy from escaping. A magic circle glowed on the far wall, and a shimmering projection of Lucy leaned on the desk, waiting for me.

I smiled, "Looking good, babe. Very spooky."

She met my gaze and giggled, "Likewise, my love, I have news." She seemed to be bursting with excitement.

I arched an eyebrow, "Oh?"

She rubbed her hands together, " Our Angelic counterparts believe they have located the man in the suit." Now she had my attention, "Where?" "Lyons, he is to attend a meeting with another high ranking member of Trinity in five days time, we already have teams en route, but I want you and the others there."

I nodded, "We're close enough; transport shouldn't be an issue." She reached for me, resolving suddenly, becoming solid. "I will be there, as well." I snatched her off her feet, happiness suddenly surging through me as I buried my face in her hair, smiling like the lovestruck idiot I was, "Hey baby."

Her perfume and the natural smell of gunpowder and ash that covered us respectively was intoxicating as she hugged me close.

"Hello, my darling," She purred, nuzzling the side of my face.

"Two weeks is too long." I understated. "It was agony for me as well, my love."

I held her at arms-length, taking her in; she was dressed to kill, a flowing deep red dress that curved in all the right places.

"Special occasion?"

She smiled cutely, "Have you forgotten your own birthday?"

Holy shit. I had. With everything that was going on, who had time for such trite, everyday things?

"Ya know... I did..." Her smile widened, "Well, I did not. You and I are going out tonight." "But what about the mission?"

She waved a hand, "We have time for some levity; being away from you has me in quite the mood, and I reserve my right to rectify it posthaste."

I grinned at the love of my life.

Who was I to refuse a lady?

*

A/N: Sometimes, you have to fall apart to come back together. Sorry for the wait, Holiday season, and all that. I hope everybody had a Merry Christmas!

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