in which amil is met

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nadia knows as soon as she sees amil that he's an angel, or something of the sort. she's never met an angel but she's spent enough time with sam to identify one on sight. amil's bright and open, wearing a loose t-shirt over a striped sweatshirt over a knee-length, tulle dress over fishnets, cheap rings encrusting his fingers and heeled boots clicking against the concrete as he approaches them. he has an undercut and thick curls tied back with a scrunchie, two different earrings and cheap earbuds hanging out of his pocket. his eyes aren't quite the right color. they're a slightly darker brown than his skin, a perfectly rational color for eyes, but it's off putting.

nadia knows he's an angel, amil knows that he's an angel, but rani doesn't have that vocabulary. to her, amil is just different. in a good way different, but still different.

amil knows he's different just like he knows one of the two girls in front of him is different. they're sitting on the retaining wall, nadia laying with her head on rani's lap, even though the concrete is damp and bleeding into her clothes. to amil, rani is irrelevant, but not exactly bad to look at. she's in a tailored button-up shirt, with a stud earring that's probably real diamond and nordstrom sneakers. her hair is shoulder length and wavy, her skin light brown. the other one is the one amil's looking for. nadia franks has short twists and warm brown skin and is wearing a leather jacket and thrift-store doc martens. she's definitely sams type, and amil doesn't even try to suppress the wave is irritation the thought comes with. he's figured out it's probably no use.

nadia realizes that he's coming to talk to them too late. she's not in the mood for interlopers and if she'd seen him earlier she would have dragged rani away. this time of day- before the buses come after school- is some of the only time she gets with rani alone now, and she's not going to let some angel screw with it. nadia's not sure why rani takes the bus- she's renting her own apartment in the city just so she can, even though she's rich enough to uber from her parents house in the country daily, to buy however many cars of her own- but nadia's not about to pry. the idea that rani might change her mind about taking the bus might not be rational, but nadia doesn't want to risk it. rani doesn't mind.

"hey," the angel says, voice soft. he sounds just like another shy new kid. nadia narrows her eyes at him and he spares her a brief glare that rani doesn't catch.

"hey," rani responds, assuming a smile. she's not sure who he is but she likes his rings and the way he smiles, so she scoots over on the wall, displacing nadia. he perches next to them. "are you new?" rani inquires, already knowing the answer.

nadia sits up, suddenly irritated by the effects of the earlier rain, and slides her phone out of her slightly damp pocket. she hopes, somewhere in her mind, that rani will notice and go back to talking with her but she doesn't. nadia taps kia's contact instead, texts her.

what's up. the bright green bubble sends instantly and there's a read receipt a second later.

"yeah, i just transferred from up on the iron range. i'm amil." his smile is winning and he doesn't seem bothered by the damp wall.

"i'm rani, nice to meet you," rani replies, turning slightly toward him, away from nadia. she doesn't even notice the shift, but nadia does. amil does too, and a smile tugs at his mouth.

this is not how angels are supposed to feel. angels are not supposed to be gratified by others pain. amil knows this.

kia texts nadia back and nadia sighs at the distraction. not much, kia says, just doing homework n stuff. the message is followed by a grimacing emoji and nadia grins down at her phone.

sounds fun. she snaps a picture of rani and amil and texts it to kia. rani made a friend.

i didn't know she knew how to do that.

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