All they see is scars
They don’t see the angel
Living in your heart
Sometimes it was easy to pretend a bed was a cloud. A bed was a cloud and the sunlight coming in through the window was just coming out from the sun between the leaves of the Great Tree. Sometimes he could fool himself and everything was okay and he could get up in the morning and not feel the world turn under his feet, or cells in his body die, or the world die around him.
Today was not one of those days.
The City was gray today, low clouds obscuring the tallest buildings and making the entire world damp and cold and gray. It made him feels so… so alone. Next to him his alarm clock screamed but he didn’t reach out to put it to sleep and let the noise pass over him like the rolling fog over the City. It didn’t rain in the Glass City, or fog, or snow, or get cold, or become warm. Fuck. He needed to get up, he had to go to work.
But he couldn’t make himself move. It was days like this that were it was always hard to even be alive. Days like this where drugs had been helpful. He hadn’t had one of these days in almost a year, since he’d started working at Pearson and Hardman. Started working for Harvey.
Mike sat up with a start.
Harvey. He couldn’t let Harvey down. No no nonono that wouldn’t do. He scrambled out of bed, scattering his cloud of pillows and sheets everywhere and slapped the clock silent and turned it off. That noise was so annoying. The cool spring air pricked at his skin as he made himself move to the closet and pulled it open. His eyes tracked across his clothes and pulled out a suit and a pale blue shirt. Harvey liked blue.
Mike left the apartment almost without breakfast. Damnit he almost always forgot breakfast, food really. It was just so easy to forget. Donna didn’t know how spot on she was when she told him teasingly to stop missing meals. The fact was that Mike did meals, sometimes often, sometimes he just forgot what it felt like to need to eat. It was just so simple to forget something he used to never need. So he ate and grabbed his bike and hit the pavement with his messenger bag at his side.
He had an umbrella in there, but he knew he wouldn’t need it. He saw other people walking around with umbrellas and raincoats, but it wouldn’t rain today. Mike always knew when it would rain. Except that one time. That one time he’d been distracted and had missed it and had been drenched. This time though he knew, no rain.
He probably would have preferred it. It would have gone with his mood.
It was always sunshine in Heaven and the Garden of Eden and the Great Tree. The sun never set, just sank low to the horizon, almost touching it, and then arcing back up into the sky. Mike could sit and watch the sun rise and fall for days without missing a beat, following it back and forth across the sky like a wayward child. To Mike the sun was amazing, bright and hot and full of life and wonder.
The others thought he was strange.
Mike was not a good angel. For one he was too curious. Angels weren’t supposed to be curious, they were supposed to follow orders, and not doubt their leadership. But Mike was curious, and he was smart, and clever and he did doubt. He never spoke of that doubt, never even gave a hint to it. But still. He doubted. He gave them no voice though and did as he was told, and watched the sun, and always (always) looked for the moon. But there was no moon in Heaven, only the sun. Few other angels even knew what the moon was. But Mike knew. He knew because he liked to read. Read and take notes and step away from the others in their various training and just sit and think.
Those were the parts Mike could remember. Those parts and… some parts he’d rather forget. He couldn’t even remember his name. Not his real name, the one God gave to him upon the moment of his creation, the name that had filled him with such power that the air had trembled when other’s spoke of it at first. He could remember that. He could remember the way it had filled him, made him whole and one and complete. But he couldn’t remember what it was. All he remembered was the letter it had started with, or rather, the sound it had started with; M.
So now he was Mike. And every cell in his body burned for the name to sound true when all he heard whenever it came out of his mouth was a lie. A lie and a condemnation, that he wasn’t what he said he was. He was more than a conman pretending to be a lawyer. He was a conman pretending to be a man when his entire body screamed the objection that left him so deeply wounded that sometimes only the pale haze of drugs could make the way everything inside him cramped go away, the only way he could forget, for just a moment, that he wasn’t just a man. His scars were deep and all he could do was try to move on. Even when the sun set, and he could feel the lines on his back like newly bloodied stumps and the way the earth turned under his feet and around him his body continued to die.
Mike loved to ride his bike. To feel the wind rush through his hair and over his skin and for short moments he felt like he was flying. Flying… thinking about it always left him feeling so painfully grounded that he sometimes almost burst into tears. He’d never fly again, because he remembered that. He remembered the feeling of wind under his wings. He’d had amazing wings. Huge things that he sometimes put over his head when even his sun watching became too much and it hurt his eyes, They’d been pale, almost white, more like the color of cream or eggshells with the tips of his long primaries darkening to taupe, the color of wet sand.
He pushed down hard on the pedals and sped through the streets as fast as he dared, and he dared quite a bit. The cool air penetrated the layers of clothing he wore, biting at his skin and the fog left a light trace of wet on the top. He didn’t care. He had a spare jacket at the office. Now he relished the feeling of the wind in his face and the cool snap of the air against his skin. It only got cold on Earth. Heaven did not fluctuate in temperature, it was always just right, not too hot or too cold to offend any angel. Mike always wanted to stand under the sun to see if maybe, just maybe, he would feel just a bit warmer. But the sun was a star that gave more light than warmth and he never felt anything other than the same pleasant warmth against his face, the same unoffensive coolness on his skin.
Here though it was hot and cold and brutal and so alive that sometimes Mike ached from how alive it was and obvious it was that only the things that were truly alive could die.
Mike took the next turn hard, scaring the crap out of some pedestrians and a motorist at a red light. His bike leaned low but soon he’d straitened out again and was pedaling down one of the crowded and clogged streets of Manhattan where the cars barely moved and during rush hour, like now, everything was almost at a stand still, nothing moving.
But there were bikes.
Whizzing in and out of traffic, stopping for lights, but only long enough before pedals were turned and they were speeding down streets leading the cars and motorcycles behind as they zipped right between cars. They were like bees in a field of flowers, not staying in one place long, and all with a place to go that spurred them forward and onward. Mike joined those other bikes, hopping onto a sidewalk for a moment to get around a parked truck.
He slowed for a light he knew was long, his brakes gliding to a halt next to a black convertible with the top up. He made a mental note to himself that when he got to the office to buy some Skittles from the vending machine. Mike had an insatiable sweet tooth. Donna liked to tease him about it. He couldn’t help it, he loved sweets, and the office was one of the few places he ate, because it kept his mind focused and current in the now. Another bike slid to a stop on the other side of him, a bike messenger in sleek body armor under a bulkier jacket.
The messenger adjusted some straps on his jacket and looked over at Mike, feeling the blonde’s eyes on him. He grinned a bit and tipped his head to him in greeting. Mike offered back his own greeting. “Already burning the morning oil?” he asked across the convertible.
“Heh, you know it,” the messenger said with the tone of the long suffering. “Oop, green,” and he quickly put his hands on his handlebars and lifted his leg up onto his pedal and pushed hard. Mike looked forward as well and was off the block before the convertible had even realized the light was green.
He was half way across the intersection, chasing the bike messenger who’d started to fit himself through cars, when he heard honking. He looked left, towards the noise and his eyes widened as a car in the right turn-only lane suddenly jerked forward as something smashed into it from behind. That was all he remembered before front bumper of the car smashed into him, his leg, and his bike. He went flying and cracked his head against the pavement, he had a helmet, but the pain in his leg made him black out an instant after hearing a someone yelling in a panic and running towards him.
Well. Seems the rain wasn’t required. The mood was perfect. Mike shouldn’t have gotten out of bed.
To say it never rained in Heaven was really a lie. It had rained.
And only once. No where in any stories or tales or memories of the angels had it ever rained in Heaven. But one day it had.
The details were blocked, there was too much pain in the details. But he’d done something, Mike had done something to give the others reason to think he doubted, reason to think that he wasn’t just another soldier, another cog in the wheel. But there was just so much pain in remembered, too many bad things that crept in at the edges.
At some point Mike knew he was screaming. Bright, white hot light streamed into his eyes and he heard people all around, yelling and scrambling. He couldn’t hear them, he was screaming, more shrill and high than any octave a human could obtain. It was a scream that could shatter glass and make ears bleed and it ripped his throat apart. The pain in his leg and hip was something he couldn’t even comprehend. He’d never been this hurt.
That was a lie.
That was such a lie.
With the pain came the memory, and he suddenly wasn’t sure if he was crying, or if rain was splattered down upon him through the leaves of the Great Tree as the angels looked up above them in fear. Then he felt blissfully numb and as darkness fuzzed his usually quick mind, slowing it, slowing it, slowing… it…
The dirt was warm under his skin and someone, he wouldn’t name them, so many names forgotten, so many things lost, had their foot on his back. He huffed and made dirt fly. They said his name, he knew because the air trembled when they spoke, words incomprehensible to human ears and made his head hurt to listen. He was human now. But he hadn’t been then, and he could understood. But by the sun did it hurt so badly to remember, for even in memory the words of angels could make waters boil and cause eardrums to rupture.
The ground was hard under his cheek and he fought for breath as they listed his crimes. He was a traitor, a heretic, a sinner, a demon, they rolled on and on, each crime like a punch to the gut that almost left Mike physically winded. Mike flailed against the foot on his back, tried to buck, but he was held fast by power from his oppressor. Around the two was a ring of angels, more than a dozen deep, all staring at him like he was a bug, or a germ under a microscope. He yelled for help, seeking his friends in the crowd, but not one would meet his eyes. No one would come for him. He was alone. For the first time in his life, his long, long, peaceful life, one without pain or hurt, Mike cried. Tears started to roll down his cheeks and he pressed his face into the dirt.
He heard angels murmuring to themselves as the one above him declared his sentence. It was deemed he was the worst sinner, he was a Fallen. He’d never been part of that garrison. Of any garrison. But he heard the whispers, he was one of ‘them’. It made his stomach roil and revolt.
“For your crimes against heaven,” Mike tipped his head to try and see who was speaking, but even in a memory most of the angels were incomprehensible to humans. Like the ones around him he saw a being made of pure, raw, unbridled energy, that crackled with flashes of lightning and glowed both from the inside and outside like he was made of glass. “You’re to be stripped of all heavenly bonds. For your crimes…” he took a long pause as if to savor the moment which he soaked in like a wine. Mike felt sick to his stomach. Then he spoke and Mike felt all the blood rush from his face and more than a few angels gasped, “your wings are to be clipped.”
“NO!” Mike yelled and tried to push up off the ground. “NO!” he screamed again when he couldn’t move, his own voice a pain to his memory ears. The angels in the ring stood in silent terror at the verdict and what the punishment was. Not since Lucifer’s Rebellion had an angel had their wings clipped. Few remembered the names of those who had been caught by Michael’s garrison before they Fell from Heaven, but they all remembered the punishment, and they all remembered the screams, the begging and pleading.
The angel above him reached down and gripped his first wing tightly by the joint. Mike flapped his wings wildly, bashing them against the angel but it was like swatting at a wall. The angel pulled out this sword, pure energy, and extension of their grace, more part of them than a weapon. Mike’s eyes widened upon seeing it and then he felt it.
He screamed, a sound that seemed to rip apart the very air and made the other angels flinch. Some made to leave, to get away as the angel above him sawed into his wings. As they did the angel yelled that any who left would be seen in league with the traitor. Not an angel moved after that. Tears ran freely down Mike’s face and he screamed until he was hoarse. He didn’t try to plead, he knew it wouldn’t do any good.
He let out a low, tortured, groan as the pressure suddenly released, only to sob when suddenly the angel tossed his wing onto the ground before him. His perfect creamy wing, the same color as his hair, and it lay on the ground before him, feet away. He could feel himself bleeding, and watched as blood oozed out from where his wing had been hacked off, staining the feathers bloody. Then the angel grabbed his other wing.
Mike had been sure he couldn’t possibly have screamed anymore after his first wing had been cut from him even as the angel grabbed the next one.
He was wrong.
Mike slowly blinked awake, looking around groggily. He was in a hospital room, one by himself, and there was a crumpled man in a suit in a chair shoved into the corner. It was dark outside and inside, only street lights bleeding through the blinds. Mike had good night vision do and once he could focus he turned to the man in the chair.
He started at what he saw. It was Harvey. His hair was a bit disheveled and his suit was a bit wrinkled. On the side table next to him were some folders; work. He blinked, unable to believe Harvey was here. He hadn’t expected Harvey to be here. Not in a million years. A small smile etched itself across Mike’s face.
“Harvey,” he croaked, he sounded like shit. His throat hurt, everything hurt, and the machine beeping next to him was so fucking annoying. He thought maybe he should just let it go, let Harvey sleep, but he had questions. “Harvey,” he called louder.
He saw Harvey wake and his eyes shuttered open. He was awake and next to Mike’s bed in less than three seconds once he realized Mike was awake. “You’re awake,” he said, stating the obvious, he’d never seen Harvey look so relieved in his life.
“I hadn’t noticed,” he offered Harvey a little grin. “Turn on the light?” he asked. Harvey nodded once and left to turn on the light. Mike blinked away the sudden assault to his eyes, “What’re you doing here?” he asked and swallowed to wet his throat, which was still dry and itchy.
“I… was worried,” he said like he hated admitting it.
“Ha,” Mike, even with a fucked up leg and hooked up to a machine, couldn’t let this chance pass him by, “you so care about me,” he grinned.
Harvey just rolled his eyes at him, but he didn’t contradict Mike either. So that was a win for Mike. “So going to tell me why you jumped in front of a car rookie?” he asked.
“So did not. Light was green, their fuck up.”
“Mmm,” Harvey agreed.
“Uh… just asking but, who’s paying for this?” cause he didn’t have the insurance for a private room, let alone whatever sort of wonderful pain meds he was on.
“I am,” Harvey said.
“Harvey you don’t-
Harvey pressed a hand over his mouth to shut him up, “I am, and that’s the end of it, and no you don’t owe me. Understood?” Mike nodded, a warm fuzzy feeling in his gut knowing that Harvey cared, and cared enough to pay for his medical bills. Mike didn’t know what that felt like, to not have to worry about bills, in a long time, especially not since he’d started living with that nice old lady the day he’d—
“Is is raining out?” Mike asked looking towards the bind covered window.
“Hmm?” Harvey stepped away from the bed and looked outside. “Yeah,” he reported back.
“Oh,” Mike deflated. He hated rain. “How long have I been here?”
“Since this morning after the accident. You scared the hell out of the doctors in the ER when you woke up,” Mike blinked at him in horror. He thought he’d imagined himself screaming. Guess it hadn’t been his imagination.
“Oh,” Mike said again, frowning.
“Hey, you okay?” Harvey placed a hand on his shoulder. Mike looked up at him, Harvey’s brown eyes were warm, caring.
“Well I did get hit by a car today,” Mike said lamely.
“Heh, yeah,” Harvey agreed. “Doc said that once you wake up you’d be able to leave, go back to your life,” he shrugged.
“I think I might have to work from home,” Mike said with a slight wince. Harvey looked questioningly at him. “I mean I can’t exactly ride my bike to work,” he motioned to his leg, which was stiff in plaster and he knew he was going to be bed ridden for a few weeks. He made a face, “Hell,” it still amazed him every time the word passed his lips, when before such language was punishable, “I’ll barely be able to walk up and down the stairs.”
“Don’t worry about work. Till you can walk you don’t have to come into work.”
“Says Jessica,” Harvey stressed. Mike’s eyes widened a bit, he hadn’t been expecting that for sure. “And your doctor said you should stay with someone till you’re healed up enough to walk.”
Mike scoured his amazing memory, then he blinked at Harvey blankly. He had no one. Trevor at one time, but then he’d moved to Montana. Jenny was out of the question, she’d never forgiven him for the thing with Rachel. He hadn’t been able to help it. Those sorts of… feelings, were new, new and strange and wonderful and he didn’t want to lock out anything he ever felt. Rachel was out too. Once he wasn’t with Jenny she’d dropped interest. She wanted things she couldn’t have and once she could actually have Mike he wasn’t even on her radar. They were still friends but… it was tense after his blow out with Jenny. He didn’t have any other close friends who would let him crash at their place for… what eight to ten weeks at least? “Okay,” he said anyway, no need for Harvey to know he didn’t have a place. Well; he had his place. His personal cloud at the top of the building. Shit this was going to be tricky.
Harvey saw right through him. That or he’d been planning this since the beginning. He could never tell with Harvey, the man was tricky and always surprised Mike with just about everything he did. It made Mike’s life exciting, fun, things he needed in his life to distract him from his own body. Before Harvey he’d smoked weed, now he didn’t need to, he had Harvey, and that was better than any drug. The next words that came out of his mouth made him surprised, but in a good way. “You’ll stay with me.” Mike opened his mouth, “I’m not letting you go back to your apartment, for starters you’d never get up the stairs, for second you’d never get down them, and for third, if you’re staying with me I don’t have to worry that you’ll get hit by another car.”
Mike looked down at his leg under the blankets, “I doubt I’ll get hit by very many more cars like this Harvey,” he said.
“This isn’t open for discussion,” Harvey said firmly.
“You going to wear a candy striper uniform for me?” he grinned at Harvey.
Harvey rolled his eyes, “Get some sleep kid, we’ll get you out of here in the morning,” Harvey said.
“Okay Harvey,” Mike said and, for a second he thought he was imagining it, Harvey reached up and ran his hand across his hair.
“Don’t you ever scare us like that again,” he said firmly.
“I won’t,” he promised.
“Good,” Harvey ruffled his hair and then Mike held his breath as Harvey slid his hand down and cupped his cheek for a moment before pulling away. Mike swallowed and Harvey went and turned the light off before going back to the room chair. Mike tracked Harvey with his eyes and only once Harvey was sitting did he settle back down fully into his bed. The feeling of Harvey’s hand was warm against his cheek as he fell asleep.
There was silence in the circle of angels. Mike could barely move, could barely even breath. Pain laced through his entire back like lightning and he sobbed into the hard, hot, dry, dirt. His screams had ended a long time ago and he was a broken, bloody mess under the angel who had mutilated his wings. Above him he heard the angel talking, making sure all the other angels heard. But Mike didn’t hear. The pain filled his head to the point of bursting and became so all encompassing that it let nothing in his head but the white-hot lacing feeling that muddled his sense and made him unable to move or think, or feel, or hear anything.
A low noise broke through his pain. A dark, deep, low and loud rumble that seemed to start at the edge of the sky before rolling over the assembled angels. They all jerked and shrank back in fright. The sound gave Mike something to focus on, something to grasp. He knew the noise. Only as a theory though, never as real sound.
Several angels cried out in alarm and stared at the sky, pointing. Dark clouds rolled across the face of the sun, blotting out the sun and the bright blue sky. Lightning cracked and thunder rolled and the first few drops began to fall. They stared up at it in awe and even Mike managed to lift his head up to the sky, mouth open in shock that it was raining in Heaven. Water trickled into his mouth, past lips and down his throat, soothing his aching throat, and amazingly enough, soothing his bloody, mutilated back.
The rain came down in a down pour and the angels scattered, winging away back up into the great Tree to get away from the rain, acting like it burned them. Mike just kept his eyes tipped upwards, catching rain in his mouth even as the dirt around him turned into mud.
He heard footsteps come up next to him. “Hello,” and they said his name, the air hummed and lightning lanced across the sky like a sword piercing the heavens. A cool, damp, hand touched his face, smoothing a thumb over his cheeks. “Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay,” they said gently. Mike didn’t know who they were. “We’ll take care of you,” and then he heard others come up around him. He looked around and saw angels, but none he’d ever seen before. They weren’t like the other angels, they could be seen through the lens of human memory.
“Who are you?” the words tumbled off his lips wearily.
“Don’t worry,” thunder boomed like a great drum at the sound of his name, the world flickering with light for a brief instant before dimming again. “We’ll take care of you,” they said again and felt himself being picked up out of the mud. “You aren’t one of us, but you aren’t one of them,” an two colored eyes swam into his vision briefly. One blue, one green. They were beautiful.
“It hurts,” Mike breathed as another angel held held him behind the knees and high up on his back, just above where his wings had been cut. He could feel where what was left of the stumps moved useless against the air.
“I know,” the strange angel who wasn’t an angel stroked his face again, “I know,” he frowned sadly. “Rest now, everything will be okay,” and Mike felt his eyes close. Above him it continued to rain and water dripped down his face and body. “We’ll fix you up, I promise,” they said his name again. Mike still couldn’t remember it, and that was almost even worse than the loss of his wings.