Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sin City belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Frank Miller.
She drifts on the wind like a ghost.
I don't know how long she's been there. She's quiet. Quieter than anything or anyone. I step out onto the ice-crusted pavement with Kimberly clutching at my neck for her scrawny life and the snow blowing in my face and there she is. Standing there, a scrap of sleet-rimed blonde hair and a slick black coat.
That's a damn fine coat.
She's small. Tiny. I could put her in my pocket. Gladys probably weighs more dry than this kitten does soaked. I think at first that she's another kid, a stray, maybe, and new at it, too, to be hanging around here at a time of night when even the drunks know to be inside, somewhere, anywhere, out of the way of the bigger, meaner things that walk the streets. Beat cops don't stay out this late, not this close to the Projects. Not in this city.
Then she moves, just a bit, shifting her weight from foot to foot, and she's no kid.
I catch a glimpse of her face, through the gusting snow.
A glimpse of Heaven. Or maybe Hell.
I don't know. I get confused sometimes.
But it sure as hell wasn't anything born on this piece of earthly dirt.
Big green eyes, eyes a man could drown in, could die in. They grab at me, those eyes, bigger and greener than life or anything else against the concrete and the dark and the snow, and I stop dead where I am, the open door and the light to my back. Kimberly sighs in her sleep, exhausted.
She stands there, looking at me. I stand there, watching her looking at me.
Not a kid. Not Old Town, either, not this girl. She's wearing too much to be Old Town, even in a freak blizzard like this one. Only other things out this late in this city are armed or nuts. She doesn't look like she could pick up a gun, much less aim it.
Kimberly whimpers. I swear I don't look away, my eyeballs barely flinch, just instinct to make sure the kid's OK, and when I look back, there's nothing there.
The snow turns the city and the dark into a flurry of white and ice and Kimberly and I are alone.
I wait another second, trying to decide if she was real or just me not taking my medicine regular enough. But Kimberly's getting to shivering and I figure it doesn't matter either way. I start walking. Kimberly's got her momma waiting on her.
Except then, when I pass the place where she was standing, all big black coat and big green eyes in a small blonde package, I catch it, that smell, that short-lived, fading smell, the hint of her skin and hair that I get before the snow washes it all away, and my guts go cold even as other, dumber parts of me go hot.
That smell. Hers.
Like angels ought to smell.