this started out as a blurb but now it’s five pages of pure angst whoops
The rain beat down on his head, soaking his blond hair and dripping down onto the collar of his leather jacket. He squinted in the illumination of the dim streetlights, hunching his shoulders and crossing his arms in a meager effort to hold onto some warmth. This whole temperature thing sucked – it had to be one of his least favorite things about his new, painfully vulnerable form. A few years ago, he couldn’t have felt cold if he’d been standing naked in the middle of a blizzard. Nowadays, he seemed to be constantly chilled, no matter how many layers of clothing he piled on. He trudged through the nearly empty streets, his heavy black boots kicking up tiny droplets of water. Tired green eyes carelessly scanned the building and street signs as he passed, not even bothering to glance at the human faces that occasionally swept past, heads ducked down to avoid the rain. They weren’t like him and they couldn’t help him, so why should he waste time on them?
There was nothing he hated more than humans, except maybe himself. It was ironic, considering how idiotically fascinated with them his younger self had been. Being an angel had always been frustrating for Michael. He’d been too curious, too restless, too interested in the strangely fragile creatures that roamed the Earth he had sworn to protect. It didn’t matter how many times his older brothers and sisters told him to stay away from humans, that he wasn’t ready to be a guardian yet, that he needed to wait and be patient, that his time would come. He had a need for instant gratification, a trait dangerously out of place in a being meant to live for an eternity. He knew that he didn’t fit in among the other angels. He saw the way they looked at him, heard the whispers that were exchanged whenever his back was turned. He often wondered if there had been some kind of mistake in his creation. He often felt like the spirit of a human trapped in an angelic vessel of shining light and powerful wings. He felt… wrong.
Maybe it had been that feeling of inherent loneliness, the sensation of not belonging, that drove him to start visiting the humans. He hadn’t meant to get involved at first. He wanted simply to observe, to watch from a safe distance, to learn. He needed to feed his insatiable curiosity before it drove him insane. He just wanted to look. He wouldn’t engage. Or at least, that was what he’d told himself as he was sneaking away to their world. Maybe it had always been a lie. He didn’t know anymore.
It was all her fault. Her glittering, gorgeous eyes and her plump pink lips and her hair that always seemed to catch the light in just the right way. And her smile, the smile that could melt even the most frozen of hearts and instantly brought light into any room. How was he supposed to stay away from her when everything about her was calling out to him, begging to be touched and held and treasured? He was certain that resisting would have been impossible, that a day without that smile would have killed him. He needed her like a drowning man needs air, like an addict needs his fix. He couldn’t stay away, couldn’t help himself. He had to have her.
It wasn’t hard to figure out how to make his form visible to her, even though he’d never done it before. He’d caught her as she was leaving a party alone, when no one else was around to witness the crime against his very existence that was about to take place. He’d leaned against the door frame and worn a confident smirk to hide the nervous fluttery feeling in his throat. “Hey. I’m Michael. Can I walk you to your car?”
She’d turned that brilliant smile to him for a moment, and he’d thought that if he had needed to breathe, he would have forgotten how in that moment. She’d nodded her head, a faint blush tracing her cheeks as she mumbled a friendly response. She’d told him her name. It was beautiful, and it fit her perfectly.
He’d seen enough of humans to pick up on a bit of their humor, and he’d managed to make her laugh a couple of times as they made the leisurely walk to her car. When they finally reached it, she’d laid a hand on his arm and treated him to another one of those breathtaking smiles. “I hope this isn’t weird, but can I get your number? I’d like to talk to you again.”
“I don’t have a phone.” He’d chuckled lightly, but secretly he was thrilled by the idea that she wanted to see him again. “But don’t worry. You’ll see me again.”
He’d left before she could ask for an explanation, enjoying the puzzled look in her eyes and the notion that she found him mysterious and intriguing. He’d wanted her only in the most innocent of ways back then, his intentions and thoughts remaining pure and naive. He’d only wanted to be with her in a platonic way, simply to hear her voice and see her eyes sparkle when she laughed. He hadn’t know what a slippery slope he was treading. He couldn’t possibly have expected that she would be the end of him.
They’d grown close in the following weeks. He’d had a habit of turning up whenever she was alone or lonely, and whisking her away with soft words and wide green eyes and open admiration. Her friends had thought that it was creepy, how he seemed to always be there when she turned around, but she loved the company. She would clutch his hand whenever they were in a crowd, desperate to keep him near her. He’d never told her, but he loved the way her smaller hand fit with his, skin brushing skin as fingers locked together. He would absently run his thumb over the back of her hand, his skin flaring with an unfamiliar warmth wherever it touched hers.
He could still remember the night he realized what was really happening between them, crystal clear in his mind after reliving it countless times. He had climbed in through her window late in the night, crawling onto her bed and curling up next to her on the mattress. They had known each other for several months at that point, and it wasn’t uncommon for him to visit her like this. She had happily moved over to make room for him, avoiding his eyes as her face flushed with a pale pink. He didn’t touch her, though they were sitting close enough for him to feel the warmth radiating from her skin and hear each breath as it left her lungs. They would often sit like this, almost close enough to touch, and talk about anything and everything. They talked about her, mostly; the songs that made her cry, the past relationships that had broken her heart, the dreams that got her through each day. He made a careful note of everything she said, treasuring every small fact that made him feel that much closer to her. As the night wore on, she would slump her head on his shoulder, her words dropping off into tired mumbles. That was his cue to gently lay her down and tuck her into bed, bidding her goodnight before he slipped away again.
Except, on that night, she hadn’t fallen asleep. Instead, she’d absently reached over, sliding her hand down his arm until it rested in his own, her fingers naturally filling the spaces between his. She had hummed softly as she ran her other hand up his opposite arm, until it rested on his shoulder. He had noticed with some surprise that her hands were shaking, as if she were nervous or scared. She had leaned closer to him, until he could feel her breath on his lips. When she spoke, her voice was a low, fragile whisper. “Tell me if you want me to stop. Tell me if this isn’t what you want, okay?”
Before he could even formulate a response, her mouth was on his, those soft pink lips gently pressed against his own in a way that was almost shy. He gasped at the contact, a reaction she mistook for disgust, quickly pulling away as if he had burned her. He let out a soft sound of annoyance, grabbing her face in his hands and bringing her back in to renew the kiss. He’d never felt anything remotely like this before, a burning need that threatened to consume him. It was her. He wanted, needed, her. He pulled her closer and wrapped his arms around her waist, abandoning the usual gentle caution that had always dominated their relationship. He didn’t know how to kiss her or how to touch her, but he was determine to learn. And, judging by the way she eagerly kissed him back and tangled her hands in his hair, she was willing to teach him.
He hadn’t realized until much later that the kiss (the first of many, much to his relief) had been the beginning of the end. He hadn’t noticed the way each touch felt a little more real, more physical, more… human. He’d been too preoccupied to realize that his wings were sick, the shining pale grey feathers dimming with each passing day, the muscles becoming cramped and sore and hard to use. He hadn’t told her what he was. How could he? And so he hid his wings, hid his true identity for the sake of a few more stolen moments in her embrace.
In the end, she had been the one to bring it up. She had taken his hands and looked into his eyes, and he was shocked to see her own gaze trembling with concern. Her voice had sounded so small and scared.
“Can I ask you something, Mikey? And promise that you won’t lie to me or brush it off.”
He had kissed her forehead, pulling her into his chest and wrapping his arms around her. “Of course, baby girl. What’s wrong?”
“Where do you go?” She whispered, looking up at him with wide, worried eyes. “When you leave, I mean. Sometimes you’re gone for days at a time, Michael. And I…” She took a deep breath, blinking back tears. “I just realized that I know hardly anything about you. You… you know everything about me. Stuff I’ve never told anyone. And I don’t even know where you disappear to when you leave me.” She sniffed, and he suddenly realized how hard she was fighting not to fall apart in front of him. “Are you seeing someone else? What’s going on?”
He had frozen, staring down into her teary eyes and unable to think of a response. He had never realized how much he was hurting her. How could he have realized it, when emotions were so new to him? It hadn’t occurred to him what his long absences might look like to someone who didn’t know the truth. And now here she was, the most beautiful, incredible thing he had ever seen, shaking in his arms and holding back tears because she thought that she wasn’t enough for him. He held her tighter and pressed kiss after kiss into her hair, murmuring sweet nothings and gentle reassurances. She had buried her face in his chest, her hands clutching at fistfuls of his shirt as she tried to make herself believe the things he was saying.
He knew he had to tell her. He couldn’t lie to her anymore if he didn’t want to lose her. And she was far too important to risk her slipping through his fingers. He knew what happened to angels who revealed themselves to humans, but he suddenly realized that he was way past that now. He would rather have a day with her than a forever without. He had sighed into her hair, gently rubbing his hands up and down her arms. “Are you sure you want to know?”
She had lifted her head to gaze at him, nodding slowly. “Please. Don’t lie to me anymore.”
He had told her everything, the words spilling from his lips far easier than he had expected them to. Once he got started, he couldn’t seem to stop. He had told her about Heaven and about the other angels and about how he never fit in. His voice shook when he talked about the loneliness of eternity, and his eyes glowed when he described how warm he had felt when he saw her for the first time. He spilled his heart out to her, not leaving out a single detail.
Finally, he had gently stepped back from her, drawing a deep breath. “Look. I’ll prove it.”
He’d never made his wings visible before, and it took a few seconds. He knew he had succeeded when he heard her shocked gasp, looking up to see both of her hands clapped over her mouth. She was staring just behind him, at the huge grey wings that practically filled her living room, feathers bristling self-consciously under the weight of her stare. His heart fell as he saw her eyes widen. She was afraid. She was going to leave.
Without warning she had launched herself forward, wrapping her arms around his torso and burying her face in his chest once again. She held him tight, mumbling into his shirt. “What will happen if the others find out about us, Mikey? What will they do to you?”
“It’s not important,” he had told her, even though it was. If the other angels found out, he would be cast down. Stripped of his powers. Kicked out. “I don’t care. You’re worth any punishment they could give me.”
“I love you.” The words trembled on her lips, breathless and scared for a whole different reason. It was the first time either of them had said it aloud. The phrase held an almost tangible weight, falling between them like an anchor. “I love you so much. Please don’t leave me.”
“I won’t,” he paused to press a quick, chaste kiss to her lips, “I promise, I won’t leave. I love you, too,” he kissed her again, a bit less innocently this time, “So much.”
He woke up next to her just before dawn the next morning, blinking blearily and groaning as his entire body lit up with pain. Her bare form was curled up next to him, her breathing soft and even and her eyelids flickering with dreams. Her sheets lay in a tangled mess on the floor and her bed was full of… leaves. No… they were…
He sat up way too fast, letting out a low moan as white-hot pain exploded in his back. The hundreds of loose feathers rustled and shifted at his movement, some of them flying off of the bed and floating down to the floor. He stared in horror at the last remnants of his wings, the feathers already deteriorating and breaking apart before his eyes. This meant that…
He cautiously reached over, pressing the palm of his hand to her exposed shoulder. Her skin was warm to the touch. Warm. He could feel warmth. He felt temperatures. Angels couldn’t feel things like heat and cold. It was against their nature.
He wasn’t an angel anymore.
He was fallen.
And now here we was, alone and cold in this godforsaken world that he had once been so in love with.
It was all her fault.
And all his.
And he hated himself.
He hated her.
He missed her.
He loved her, even though she was lost to him, leaving him with nothing but an aching heart and the memory of something warm.
I have the same religion as that tree over there, the same as the little stream that gurgles past her roots as she rests in her quiet meadow bed. At night angels crowd her forest cathedral and compose poetry under a long moonlight. Even God himself likes to sit in her silent presence and feel the breath of her tiny leaf-wings dance in the night fire. The small pebbles stir and awake from the womb of the earth, crying out in a language that can never be understood, but I have heard it speaks of a quiet light that shines in every heart, a light that makes the air go wild with delight.
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