All the young students of Ms. Kat's kindergarten class have started celebrating Valentine's Day by handing out their Valentine cards to each other. They all ran around the large classroom and crammed bushels of store bought and handcrafted cards into everybody's baggies.
The teacher, Ms. Kat, happily stood at the center of the room and watched each of her students be kind to each other. She glanced over and noticed three of favorite her students, Regan, Alyssa, and Rachel, with a pieced-together valentine card so large it required all three girls to carry it. The gift was merely several dozen hearts all glued and taped together with a messy collage of stickers, glitter, and silly strings all mushed on top of the hearts like some sort of franken-card. All three girls smiled and presented the thoughtful gift to the surprised, but amused, Ms. Kat.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Ms. Kat," Regan said as her and her friends handed their over-sized valentine gift to their teacher. "We made this for you because you're the bestest teacher in the whole world."
"Ah, thank you girls." Ms. Kat said. "I'll just put this with the others."
Ms. Kat picked up the large gift. The moist touch of fresh glue soaking her thin fingers disgusted her, but she still smiled at the girls' creativity. To her it was the thought that matter and she loved that they worked together to craft something extraordinary. She opened her desk drawer and placed the franken-card inside with the other valentine gifts from her other students.
"I bet special someone got you a great big valentine too." One of Regan's friends, Alyssa, eagerly said.
"Oh no," The teacher reassured her students with a sweet smile. "I don't have anyone this year."
"What?" The other friend, Rachel, peeped. "Nobody!"
"How come someone as nice and pretty as you doesn't not have someone special on Valentine's day?" Regan asked.
Ms. Kat stood there and rolled her eyes. She even muttered something in her heritage language, knowing the girls wouldn't understand. If translate it would have probably said something along the lines of 'Not this again.'
But Ms. Kat bounced back with the same cheery smile and calmly explained to the three friends, "That's because I have all of you. You all are my special someone, or somebodies, for Valentine's Day.
Ms. Kat patted each of their heads then announced to all the kindergartners. "Alright everyone! Finish up with giving your valentines because it's almost time for recess!"
The children cheered and hurried themselves out the door. All but Regan, Alyssa, and Rachel stood inside the classroom, looking rather saddened for their favorite teacher.
"It's not fair!" Alyssa whined. "Ms. Kat is so nice and pretty. She deserves to have someone special for Valentine's Day."
"Yeah but who?" Rachel asked. "I don't know that many grownups. She needs someone who is nice and big and strong and handsome."
"I know someone who'd be perfect!" Regan exclaimed loudly. "My Uncle Mike! He can be all those things."
"That's the bestest idea ever!" Rachel agreed. "But how is he going to come here?"
"I have the perfect idea." The little devil explained. She gathered her dear friends around and whispered her diabolical scheme.
"UNCLE MIKE! HELP!" Regan screamed as she clung tightly around the top of a tall oak tree. It was all part of the plan. She remembered that Mike told her that if she was ever in trouble she could always call up for him and he'll swoop in like a superhero. Her friend Rachel served as the lookout on the ground while Alyssa would run and get Ms. Kat to their position. It was the perfect plan, except for taking in account Regan was afraid of heights; and the sight of how high she had climbed to how far the ground certainly made her nervous.
It didn't take long for the archangel to hear her cries. The sound of thunder erupted the skies and a blinding flash of light appeared. Regan gazed up at a pair of giant wings made of pure electrical energy and light were spread out and a man, Michael, hovering before her.
"You're quite the little climber." the archangel commented. His arms cradled around Regan's body and took her away from the tree. "Hold on tight. Going down."
Mike's wings brushed up into the air and the pair floated down like a feather in the breeze. When his feet touched the soft grass, the wings quickly retracted back into his body. Regan gave her holy savior a light kiss on the cheek and jumped out of his strong arms. She landed beside Rachel, who was mystified by angel's presence.
"Wow! He really is an angel." She awed.
Yet the archangel was not amused. He looked at the two young girls sternly with his arms crossed. "Alright, does someone what to explain who's idea was it to climb that tree?"
Rachel was silent. She had something to say but was too awestruck to have remembered what it was she had to say. Regan nudged her friend's arm and whispered. "Say your line!"
Rachel remembered. "Oh right. I'm sorry. I dared her. I called her a chicken if she didn't do it."
"I know it's hard to turn down a dare," Mike calmly lectured. He knelt down and spoke eye to eye to the two friends. "But it takes a lot more guts to say no. So let's use our heads and try to play a little more carefully next time, okay?"
"Regan! Are you alright?" They heard Ms. Kat's voice cry out. Alyssa hurried her over, clinging to her hand and stopped before the three.
"Oh look!" Alyssa told her teacher, still following their plan. "Regan isn't stuck in the tree anymore, thanks to this brave, strong, and handsome stranger."
"And he's single too!" Regan added.
"Say what?" her uncle squeaked.
"Mister, I can't thank you enough." Ms. Kat said. "I hope...I, um, I...oh my."
Ms. Kat paused for a moment and looked at the handsome man before her. His stunning appearance: tall, well fit, long golden-brown hair that touch the back of his neck, a scruffy five o'clock shadow, and complete with a brown leather jacket were what took her breath away.
Michael stood up and locked eyes with the most beautiful human woman he had ever met. He had met many women (humans, angels, and even demons alike), but never met one that matched her beauty.
The sight of her gorgeous dark brown hair, fairly tan skin, hazel amber eyes, a purple long-sleeve sweatshirt paired with a grey-purple blended long skirt made his heart soar. The angel and human continued staring at one another, trapped in a speechless trance.
"Uh, hi." The archangel shyly stuttered.
"H-hello." Ms. Kat bashfully replied back.
Regan and her friends cleverly smirked at one another, knowing that their plan was coming forth. Then Regan spoke out. "Uncle Mike, this is the bestest teacher in the whole world, Ms. Kat."
"Uncle?" the enamored teacher queried. "Oh, you're that Uncle Mike! On the stepfather's side, yes?"
"Guilty as sin." Michael flubbed. "I mean... sorry. Bad joke. Ah Michael, the name's Michael. Everyone just calls me Mike. I'm, eh, this munchkin's uncle. Your name is Kat? Like kitty cat?"
"Right, it's short for Katan, but I find it easier if the children called me Ms. Kat, like the kitty cat." Ms. Kat then extended out her small hand to the angel. "Malaika Katan."
"Malaika Katan." Mike repeated, complying the gesture by gently taking her hand and briefly shook it. "Small angel in Arabic, right?"
"Yes!" Ms. Kat exclaimed with a bright blush. "I mean that's correct."
"He seems perfect to be somebody's special valentine." Alyssa teased.
"Yeah. You two should go on a date." Regan cheered.
"No, no. I mean, I couldn't possibly." Ms. Kat retorted. Her face blushing redder than before. "I mean I'm sure you're busy with business... up above."
"Actually I don't really have any plans." Mike assured.
"Listen, this is all charming, but I think my students are trying to play matchmaker. I told that I didn't have anyone for Valentine's Day and now they've pulled all this together in hopes that you and I could go out."
"I say let's humor them. And I am single by the way. How about 7 o'clock down at that fancy restaurant on Blatty Street?"
Ms. Kat paused and thought for a moment. She knew it has been a while since she dated anyone, and this rather handsome stranger was offering a night out. However she wanted to prove to some people that she could remain strong and independent; never needing a man by her side twenty-four seven.
Yet the more she kept looking at Mike the more she found herself attracted to him. She was curious, mostly about his character and his general way of life. If Regan's mother could marry someone like her stepfather, what sort of experience could he provide?
Finally Ms. Kat smiled and said four simple words that would make an archangel fall and three eager five year-old girls jump for joy, "Okay. It's a date."
Evening was setting perfectly on Brimstone. The night air was calm and cool, the streets were lit and bright, and love was spreading all around. Dinner dates, movie nights, and plenty of kissing made sure that the folks of Brimstone were enjoying a romantic Valentine's Day. Seated outside an elegant restaurant were a couple unlike the rest, an archangel and a human woman.
Ms. Kat (or Katan) wore a beautiful, light blue dress and had her shimmering hair covered within a hot pink hijab. Michael wore a more professional black suit and tie for their date. He didn't bother shaving fore he was fond of his scruffy face, to which Ms. Kat also thought it suited him well. The pair laughed while enjoying some wine left at their table.
Their meals were small, barely any meat but plenty of salad and bread. They remained untouched as the two were more interested in sharing stories rather than what was on their plates.
"So you're the oldest sibling too, eh?" Mike said while he poured themselves more wine into their glasses.
"Yes. Two brothers and a sister." Ms. Kat commented. "It was chaos trying to look after them all."
"I know the feeling. Five younger brothers and two younger sisters. You tell them to do one thing and then they do the exact opposite."
"And you're left wonder why your parents put you in charge to begin with."
"Exactly!" Michael laughed again, "You know, I've met a lot of women but you're by far the most interesting. Your family was originally from Syria. You can speak six different languages, fluently I might add. You can play the flute, and you're a big science fiction/fantasy fanatic who also cosplays at conventions from time to time."
"And you best not tell anyone that last one." Malaika teased. "But you've heard plenty about me, what about you? Tell me about yourself."
"Me?" the archangel queried. "Can't honestly say I have anything interesting that compares to that. I'm just a soldier and I've been a soldier my whole life."
"But there's got to be more. There's so much I want to know." Ms. Kat added. She fired out her questions like an obsessed fan. "Why did you want to be a soldier? Is Heaven beautiful? What is Allah really like? Was the devil any different then as he is now? What do your wings look like?"
"Whoa, slow down!" Mike hesitantly blurted, trying so hard to keep up with her questions. "I'll answer the best I can. I guess I felt that I was predestined to be a soldier by my Father. Eventually I worked my way up and now I'm part of the Archangel Council, doing my part as a leader. See? Not that interesting."
"No, that is interesting." Ms. Kat corrected him. "Please tell me more."
Mike chuckle a little and breathed a small sigh. He knew that she was too smart for him. She was definitely different. She was already exposed to his younger brother's supernatural antics that nothing could possibly phase her. Her beautiful face, her perfect smile, everything about her left him spellbound. Even her voice, her accent, enchanted him like a siren's call; and the archangel wished he could listen to it forever.
Mike smiled and then finally spoke out. "You'd be surprised how similar Earth and Paradise really are. In some ways, humans and angels are similar too. I've watched humans grow from the ground and build magnificent cities. I've seen them stand together against tyranny and rebuild for better societies. It's like you're all one perfect unit.
"I've been to many worlds, heard their prays and I've listened to their leaders, but something about this world continues to amaze me. I'm amazed how many are fighting for peace on this world where few would rather fight to destroy it. I'm amazed of how much they are willing to sacrifice to keep their rights and beliefs.
"It's been said that humanity is too corrupted by greed and ignorance that they'll eventually rot away, but I never believed that. My fellow councilmen only watched you, but never marched with you as I did. I think the numbers of those who are selfless outrank those who are selfish.
"That's why I always come to Earth. You are right, Paradise and its angels are wonderful, but it's nothing compared to what you have here. I can't help witness the marvels you've made and hear you preach about change. Even in your most darkest times you've managed to shed a light that never dies. It is with this light my Father gave humanity a gift. This gift was always meant for you, never for angels, just you. Hope."
Touched by his words, Ms. Kat's lips curved a graceful grin. Her hand navigated itself to Michael's and her small fingers clipped around his. Mike felt the smooth texture of her skin, which craft a grin on his face as well, and his large thumb caressed along her knuckles. They stared deeply into each other's eyes and saw only what they knew was beautiful. They knew some people from their worlds wouldn't approve of their attraction but they didn't care. If this world could stop just for them, Mike and Malaika would have truly been happy.
Their happiness was interrupted by the roars of a loud engine. Dashing down the streets was a dirty red pickup truck that waved a confederate flag on the extensively long antennae. The truck halted at the stop sign where Mike and Ms. Kat could clearly see a pair of greasy men wearing red hats and stained t-shirts. The men howled at the sky like rapid wolves and spat their tobacco juiced saliva onto the paved road.
"Hey Jed!" one of the rednecks hollered, spotting Ms. Kat and her date across the street. "What're you s'pose we've got right dar?"
"Dat looks like one of dem Muslims, Billy Boy!" The second one jeered.
"Sure does," his crude comrade snorted. "Hey you! Dontcha know our president's got a ban on you? Yer time here's limit!"
His friend laughed aloud and joined in the tasteless taunting. "Yeah! Why don't you go back ter Aff-Gangi-Stan?"
Anger grew inside both Mike and Ms. Kat. Mike looked around and saw how the patrons uncomfortably stared at them as the ignorant bullies teased his date. He noticed not one stood up for her but instead tried to ignore them as if they were invisible. His face crunched together in the largest expression of anger he could form. Ms. Kat, however, made sure she kept her temper well hidden under her mature nature.
"Just move along!" Ms. Kat retorted back. "You're just embarrassing yourselves by making nonsense noise."
"Bet yer just sayin' dat cause yer sore that Jesus is bettur than Allah!"
"Best cool down. Don't want ta blow anything out proportion."
The patrons still ignored the foolish rantings and said nothing. Ms. Kat leered at both the rednecks while they still laughed and spewed more insults.
The sound of glass shattering snapped her out. She looked and saw the wine glass that was once in Michael's other hand was in pieces. The glass could not puncture through and left no visible marks of blood. Hearing enough of the insults, the archangel stood from his chair. Ms. Kat clamped both her hands around his mighty wrist.
"Please Mike," She begged. "Just ignore them. It's alright."
"No." The archangel growled. "It's not alright."
His wrist slipped through Ms. Katan's grasp as he proceeded to jump over the short metal fence and march towards the truck. The rednecks stared and laughed, unaware of what they were laughing at.
"Whatcha want, pretty boy?" One of the rednecks protested. "We ain't got nottin' to say to a Muslim lov-"
His insults stopped when he saw the stranger rip the car door off its hinges and tossed it aside like it was made of paper. He snatched both bullies by their collars and heaved them outside their truck. After both rednecks smacked into the pavement they saw a bright light blast their eyes, briefly blinding them. Michael summoned his massive wings, which astonished everyone in the area. The wings then sliced through the truck like a hot knife on butter. First the engine was diced in half, then the roof was minced, and then the tires popped followed by the chopping of the back end. The rednecks helplessly watched as their prideful truck was reduced to a pile of chopped up, melted scraps.
The archangel's stunning wings vanished back into his body, leaving no marks on his suit. Mike turned around, grabbed the bullies by their greasy necks, and hoisted them in the air with his incredible strength. Their legs dangled above the ground while they pleaded for the archangel to grant mercy.
"See that nice woman!" Michael shouted. "What do you say to her!?"
"Sorry." one of them quivered. "We're very, very sorry, ma'am!"
The other one then said. "We meant nothin' by it. Mama always said we say stupid things!"
"Now get out of here, both of you!" Michael ordered. His eyes glowed an electrical surge much like his wings did before. "If I ever hear you're picking on her or any other Muslims again, I'll show you what the Wrath of God is really like!"
Mike dropped the two frantic bullies back to the ground, and they scurried off down the street. He looked back at the outdoor dining area and noticed that all the patrons were staring at him. They then went back to their meals and hoped that the archangel wouldn't do something to them. Mike rolled his eyes and walked back to his table. There are some things in humanity that also disappointed him too. Ignorance and hate were among the biggest qualities that disgusted him. When he sat back down at the table he noticed Ms. Kat gave him a look that greatly expressed her disapproval.
"I'm sorry about all that." Mike explained. "I just couldn't sit by and let them insult you or your faith. It shouldn't be like this!"
"There are alternatives to handling bullies like them." Malaika assured. "This is why I wanted to be a teacher. Tensions between East and West are already bad enough as it is. All I ever wanted to do in life was to serve as a bridge between two societies in two simple steps: to help educate and grow the minds of wonderful children and to show that not every Muslim is a threat.
"While I am disappointed in whom this nation chose as a leader, it will not stop me from helping shape young minds about seeing the world as a much bigger picture. I worked hard to get where I am and not ignorance, nor fear, nor hate will stop that. There's also one more thing I'd like to add!"
"What's that?" Mike asked while he cringed for what might come next.
Ms. Kat however smiled and said. "Thank you for standing up for me."
Mike smiled. Her words inspired his spirit. "Is there any reward for good other than good?"
The archangel's words made Malaika smile too. She recognized her favorite verse from the Quran. Their hands met again at the center of the table.
Then an idea formulated in the archangel's head. "Can I show you something?" he asked. "I think you'll love it."
"Uh, sure." Ms. Kat said. Mike took her by the hand and guided her off. But first he slapped a couple hundred dollar bills onto their table.
"Keep the change!" Mike called out for the server, "And have one of those hundreds for your tip."
Mike walked Ms. Kat to the center of the street. There was a cracking of thunder. Shining and shimmering in the night were Mike's majestic wings. Ms. Kat ogled at them with captivated awe. She believed that angels had beautiful wings but to witness them up close was something more.
"Step onto my feet." the archangel kindly ordered. Curiosity bested the innocent teacher. She did precisely as he instructed.
"Hold onto me tight," Mike ordered again. Ms. Kat did precisely that, gripping her hands tightly on the angel's shoulders.
Mike wrapped his left arm around the teacher's small body. Suddenly, they were weightless.
The wings took one flap downward and both Mike and Ms. Kat were drifting into the night sky. Ms. Kat gasped as she saw her town become smaller and smaller. She kept herself closer to Mike now that she was hovering more than twenty feet off the ground. They climbed onward and onward to the sky. Ms. Kat could now see the whole town of Brimstone from where they were at.
"I don't believe it," the kindergarten teacher stammered, "We're flying. We're really flying."
"That's actually a misconception," her date disclaimed, "Angels technically don't fly. Our wings manipulate the gravity around us. We can be light as a feather or heavy as a mountain. And we can move through space into any direction we choose, at any speeds we wish. But I guess in some ways it does feel like flying."
Ms. Kat did not mind the correction. She was awestruck by his divine ability. "Are they... safe to touch?" she asked him.
"Not too close. You saw the damage they did to that truck."
With caution she moved her hand closer to one of the outstretched, glowing wings. Up close they definitely did not look like bird wings, even if they took the shape of them. No feathers, just pure energy of some sort. Electrical energy? Solar powered? Nuclear? A combination of all of them and more?
Her hand felt like it was bathing under the sun as she reached for it. Small vibrations flowed through her hand from the static emitted from the wings. Her hand then pulled away, satisfied with her findings.
Once again the eyes of a Muslim-American woman and a powerful archangel locked onto each other. They were spellbound by the other's alluring gaze.
"Malaika, can I ask you another question?" Mike said.
"Do you believe in kissing on the first date?"
"It is not something I normally practice," Malaika said. "But with you here, I'm willing to believe in anything."
Mike closed his eyes and slowly leaned forward. Ms. Kat followed the same jesture until their lips met. With that kiss they felt the world stop, and their time together was the only time that mattered.
Dressed in his flashy, red night robe and matching slippers, Lu stepped out of the bedroom and quietly walked down the hallway, whistling himself a catchy tune. His plans for Valentine's Day worked perfectly. Lilith took the girls out for a double feature movie night while he and his queen stayed in and kept themselves company. Both he and Carmen took turns showing off how much they loved one another until they fell asleep, unbeknownst that Lilith had returned to put the girls to bed later that night.
Yet the devil still felt a little tired. He remembered that he awoke in the middle of the night when he heard a strange rhythm of thumbing below their bedroom. He didn't bother to investigate, figuring it may have been Slinky getting loose again and slithering through the walls, or the girls being restless as usual and played some games. However, that didn't explain why the lights and other electrical appliances flipped on for a second then power off the next. None of that mattered because he and his wife were able to celebrate the holiday the way they wanted. All love and no interruptions made Lu a very happy devil.
Lu made his way down the stairs then paused. The coffee maker hummed its morning tune. He last saw Carmen still asleep in their bed. He recalled that his stepdaughters don't drink coffee. He was also sure that Lilith made her way back to her apartment down in the Inferno. The only conclusions he could muster was that there was an uninvited guest in his house, or that mindless python was finally being useful and made his master some fresh coffee.
The latter seemed very unlikely.
Lu rushed into the kitchen only to find his older brother Michael, dressed only in his boxer shorts, standing by the counter and sipping from Lu's coffee mug. "Mike? What're you doing here?"
Mike jumped at the sight of his brother, which he almost spat the hot coffee on his bare skin. "Ah hey, Lu! Yeah, I was just dropping by to, you know, say hi and all that."
"Without a shirt?" Lu interrogated. "Or pants?"
"There's a good explanation for that..." Mike fibbed.
"Is that Mike?" A voice called from the stairs. A scurry of footsteps hurried down the flight. Carmen, dressed in her pearly colored night robe, entered into the kitchen and greeted. "Hey Mike. I didn't know you came in. How was your night? Wait! Where's your pants?"
A creaking sound started them all. That was the sound that the door from the guest room made whenever it opened or closed. Both Carmen and Lu looked down the other hallway across on the other side of the kitchen and saw another woman exiting the guest bedroom. They both recognized her as Regan's kindergarten teacher, Ms. Kat, who had the spare bed sheets dressed around her body. Ms. Kat kept her eyes close and fluffed her messy hair around, unbeknownst that everyone watched her walk into the kitchen
"Hmm, Michael, last night was just, in many ways, heavenly. I had a wonderful ti-" She opened her eyes and paused, quickly noticing the dumbfounded couple staring at her. She tightly grasped around the sheets to ensure it revealed nothing. "Oh my! Mrs. Gravely? And your husband? Hello."
Carmen and Lu awkwardly waved. Jaws were dropped. Eyes were bulged. The dirty images that raced through their heads when they pieced it all together.
"I, eh, I can explain..." Malaika stuttered.
"Ms. Kat?" A child's voice squeaked. "What are you doing here?"
Carmen and Lu stepped aside and found that their youngest daughter Regan, dressed in her pink feety pajamas and carrying her favorite stuffed monster plushy, stood behind them. She rubbed her sleepy eyes with her little hand. Her vision cleared up and she saw all the adults staring at her with very embarrassed expressions on their faces. Her attention, although, was more focused on her teacher. Ms. Kat had never been to her house before and she wasn't wearing any of her pretty school dresses that she liked.
"Regan!" Ms. Kat gasped. Her face burned redder than a cherry. "I, uh, I was, um-"
"She was checking your homework." Mike blurted, placing himself between Ms. Kat and his niece's view.
"Yes." The embarrassed teacher followed the lie. "Just checking your homework."
"Yes, he helped. Just wanted to make sure everything was good, and it looked like everything was good. Then I got sleepy, and..."
"I, ugh, offered my bedroom. I mean... the guest room. And she stayed there for the night."
"Yes. Quite right."
Perplexing silence filled the household. Lu and Carmen still stared at the archangel and his date. Ms. Kat and Mike prayed that Regan bought into their white lie. Little Regan was still confused on what was going. After a long moment of quiet time, Ms. Kat asked Mrs. Gravely about any available showers that she could use.
"Upstairs on the left." Carmen exclaimed. "I can help show you where it is."
"Thank you." Malaika cried. She rushed back to into the guest room and closed the door. A minute later she was back out with a pile of her clothes in her arms. She ran up to Mike and kissed him on his rough cheek. "Call me again some time. Preferably whenever you're around."
Mrs. Gravely escorted Ms. Kat to stairs that led to the hallway on the same floor as the kid's bathroom. The two women giggled back and forth when the walked passed their lovers and ran upstairs. Regan stood by and watched them disappear down the upstairs hallway. Suddenly, she had an epiphany.
"Hey! We didn't get any homework!" She angrily shouted. She stomped her way up the stairs, following far behind the two adults and wanted more answers. "What's going on? You people know something and you're not telling me."
The ladies were away and in the kitchen was where the men stayed. Lu turned to his brother and looked at him with squinty eyes and a crooked smile curled on his mouth. Mike darted his brother with a more grimacing glare; even after Lu waltzed over to his brother's side, used his telekinetic powers to swipe away the coffee mug, and took a long sip out of it. All the while he did so that same stupid squint and smug smile on his face.
"Not one word!" Mike growled.
"How about two?" The devil slyly hissed. "Fist bump!"