Flying

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 Airports are like a back cover blurb for humanity. You can't get the whole story there, but you'll get the basic idea.

Daniel sat in the shoeshine chair, one muddy boot propped on the opposite knee. No one was there to shine his shoes, though if they were, he'd certainly had to have paid extra. If the leather had ever had any shine, and he couldn't remember a time when it did, it was buried now beneath the dust of a hundred nations.

He Watched.

People hurried by. Humans were always in such a rush. Years ago, he'd formed a theory that they rushed because they had an innate sense of their own limited time on earth. Now fewer and fewer believed in a life after this one, so they ran through their days even faster. So much to do and all with death constantly looming over one shoulder.

Of course, Death wasn't such a bad guy. He was just trying to help. Still, he was scary, even to Daniel. He radiated an energy like the sun, if the sun burned cold and black.

Thinking of Death led him to think of his best mate, who also happened to be Death's oldest child. Max was on a fun little adventure of his own. Daniel was burning with curiosity to know how it was going, but it was the kind of thing the poor, sheltered guy had to do alone. For now, at least.

A family rushed by, speaking in rapid Italian. The wife's shoes cost more than most people in the world earned in a year. Her hair was flawless. Everything in between was pretty fantastic as well, he noticed with a grin. The husband had dark circles under his eyes. His suit was rumpled.

Poor sap. He'd married above his pay grade.

Three low-level Slovakian politicians ran toward a gate. An attendant had just made the final boarding call. She wore a fetching red skirt that blessed him with a view of her shapely thighs very nearly to the curve of her hips.

An old lady with sharp blue eyes peering out of a wavy sea of wrinkles shuffled along, holding her grandson's hand. The boy whined about wanting sweets. Her expression was as sour as moldy lemons. No one would have ever guessed she had just the chocolate bar he wanted in her pocket and was waiting to give it to him on the plane. Her thin, downturned lips gave no insight into the sheer joy she took in the boy's presence.

Well, they might have noticed, if they knew how to watch the way Daniel Watched.

A Russian man in work-out pants and a white cotton tee-shirt meandered toward gate 4A, fancy white earbuds plugged into his ears, hands in his pockets.

Daniel shook his head. The guy was bad at his job. No one meandered at airports. They were racing, or they were at a dead stop, waiting. A spy worth a pittance would know that.

The angel dropped his boot to the platform, stood up with an enormous, spine-cracking stretch and hopped down to the tiled floor.

The spy jumped and spun to face him with wide eyes.

Daniel chuckled. "Sorry, mate. Didn't mean to startle you. Just trying to get the blood flowing again." He didn't speak in any language used by humans, but the man laughed along with him.

"Думаю, я мечтал," he said. Guess I was dreaming.

"I hope she was in it," Daniel said, gesturing with his chin toward the long-legged flight attendant.

The man wagged appreciative eyebrows and resumed his meandering.

Daniel walked at a more human pace, leaving the spy trailing behind him.

The girls working for the airline he intended to use wore blue instead of red. Their skirts were of a modest cut that reached their knees. It made him wonder what they were hiding under there.

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