The shadows were deepening to dusk, stretching like giants across the deserted street. The sun, glowing like molten gold, sunk down below the horizon.
The echo of footsteps bounced off the tall, run-down buildings looming over the street. A shadowy figure walked cautiously out from behind a building, casting a quick, searching look across the empty avenue. No one else was there. It leaned against the eroded brick wall, and the face was caught by the dim streetlight.
He was a tall man of, of perhaps 40 or 50 years; his features were sharply carved, and lined with deep creases. The dark, watchful eyes were still scanning the street warily – waiting for something, or someone.
The long minutes passed in watchful silence. The man did not stir.
Then another figure peered from around the corner, closely followed by another. The man's hands moved with surprising agility towards his pocket, but quickly relaxed. The two others hurried forward, catching sight of him. No word was passed until they had reached him.
"You shouldn't have come together," he said in a low voice.
"We weren't followed," said one of the others. A woman, by the sound of her voice – she removed her hood, revealing a waterfall of black hair and olive green eyes. Her companion, too, took off his hood. He resembled her greatly: the same eyes, the same jet black hair. He glanced around the street several times, his green eyes penetrating the shadows, before saying in a low voice, "Are you certain?"
"Absolutely," responded the first.
"We've had false alarms before," the woman said. "This could even be a trap. How sure are you?"
"How sure can we be of anything? I'm as sure of this as is possible."
This seemed good enough for the woman, for she fell silent. After a moment, the man continued.
She was born several days ago, in a place near here. The specifics," he said, handing each of them an envelope, "are in here."
"And the plan?" the second man asked. "Have you any ideas yet?"
"Yes. I believe I have found a way. You see, her mother died in childbirth." He fixed his gaze upon them. "She shall need a mother."
The woman raised her piercing green eyes up to meet his dark ones. "You mean…?"
The other man looked thoughtful. "That may work…" he said slowly. "She'd be able to protect her this way. I think this is our best chance."
The first one continued to watch the woman. "Is this all right with you? It would be a burden."
She smiled in a nervous sort of way. "It would be an honor," she said. "I- I don't know whether I'll succeed, but I shall try."
He placed a hand on her shoulder. "Thank you," he said. "And you shall not be alone. Your brother can help you."
The second man nodded. "We shall do our best." He glanced at his sister, then at the other man. "We should contact the hospital directly."
The first man shook each of their hands. "Good luck," he said. "If you need anything, contact me. I shall be near. And remember – she cannot find out, or all is lost."
A final nod passed between them. He passed off into the shadows once more.