Brendon woke up wet and cold and unsure of where he was. He was shivering and there was something strange going on with him, like he couldn’t breathe, but he shouldn’t need to breathe and that only made things worse because it could all only mean one thing. He tried to stop, to take control, he tried to go back, because wet and cold could only mean Earth but he couldn’t find any open paths. Everything was blocked. He was getting dizzy and light headed, and then it all went black.
The next time he woke up he was warm and dry. He looked around, he was indoors? Still in the dark, and there was the soft hum of electricity. He couldn’t remember how he got here but he was reluctant to move. He pulled the covers closer to himself and just lay there for a while, trying to piece together everything that had happened.
He remembered talking to Dallon, he remembered being cornered by William and Gabriel and Michael and he remembered a push.
His heart rate quickened and his breathing followed. He tried to not let it alarm him as much as did the first time, this form needed oxygen to survive that’s all, but before he knew it things were going black again.
The next time he woke up it was light outside. The sun seeping in through a gap in the curtains fell right across his eyes, and he winced away from it.
He tried to stretch but this body, his body was in pain. He tried again to open a channel but still found his way blocked.
“-yes Ryan,” a voice was saying, just in the other room, “he was naked; I don’t think he was carrying anything,” a pause, “no, I didn’t lock away all the knives, he looked like a twelve year old.”
Brendon looked down at himself; he has always been a bit small even among his brothers.
“No, I said he looks like - he’s a grown man Ryan, listen, okay, you need to stop, I’ll be fine,” a sigh, “I’ll tell you what, if I don’t pick up twice in a row, you can come running,” another pause, “me too, bye.”
Things were quite for a moment and then a door just at the corner of Brendon’s eye began to open. Brendon hesitated between pretending to still be asleep or letting the stranger know he’d been listening in on him. The decision was made for him, however, when the man walked in and found Brendon staring at him, wide eyed.
“Sorry, did I wake you?”
Brendon shook his head no, pulling the covers up to his chin, even though he knew this man is probably the one who brought him in and saw everything there was to see.
The man sat down on the coffee table in front of Brendon and interlocked his hands between his knees.
“Do you have a name?” the man asked.
“Brendon,” he said quietly.
“I’m Spencer,” the man said, “I have some clothes for you, and then maybe we could talk.”
“Thank you,” Brendon said and Spencer got up and left again only to return a few moments later with a pile of neatly folded clothes.
“The kitchen is through there and to the left,” he said and pointed at something behind Brendon, “the bathroom is through there and to the right,” he pointed at the door he’d just come through. “My room is locked, so don’t try anything.”
Brendon watched as Spencer put the clothes on the coffee table where he had been sitting and then walked out again through the other door.
He made sure he was completely alone before getting up and putting the clothes on. Track pants and a t-shirt.
Next he went to the bathroom and took a look at himself. Dark hair and dark eyes, he poked at his cheeks and touched his eyelashes. He took a deep breath and felt his wings, just below the surface. He let out a sigh of relief. The small bathroom was too cramped to let them out, but it was a comfort to know they were still there.
Brendon made his way to the kitchen and found Spencer pouring a cup of coffee. He offered some to Brendon, and when he declined they sat at a small round table.
“So,” Spencer started, “you mind telling me how you ended up naked and hyperventilating in my front yard at three in the morning?”
“You wouldn’t believe me,” Brendon said.
Spencer raised an eyebrow. “Try me.”
“I’m an angel,” he said.
“I was... pushed out by some of my brothers and I can’t find my way back.”
“An angel?” Spencer said again.
“I did say you wouldn’t believe me,” Brendon said, “do you mind if I sit in your garden and pray?”
“I have to go to work,” Spencer said.
Brendon blinked at him, aware that wasn’t an answer. “You don’t need to be present.”
“Um, yeah, I guess," Spencer said scratching at his head, “you don’t need to go anywhere?”
“No,” Brendon said, “thank you.” He got up and walked out to the front yard and sat down cross legged on the grass with his back to the house.
Spencer got changed for work, grabbed his stuff and walked out, approaching Brendon.
“I’ve locked all the doors and windows,” he said, “and we have neighbourhood watch, Mrs. Yamada next door never leaves the house and has eyes like a hawk.”
Brendon looked up at him; one eye squinted against the sun. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Spencer repeated, and walked to his car.
When Spencer came back home he was still thinking about the order that never arrived today at work. They will have to ration what stock they had left until it arrived - sometime in August according to the supplier, which was a whole month away.
He stepped out of his car and found Brendon still sitting in the garden, as if he hadn’t moved at all. Spencer was a little shocked, to say the least.
He walked up to him. “Don’t you have a job or something?”
Brendon looked up at him. “You could say I was recently fired.”
“You mentioned,” Spencer said, “what about a house? Maybe someone I could call for you?”
“I’ve been trying to call my brothers all day,” Brendon said, “but because they were the ones who did this to me...” he sighed, “I thought maybe one or two of them would have helped me.”
Spencer took in Brendon’s chapped lips, sunburned nose, the dejected look in his eyes and cursed himself.
“Come on,” he said to Brendon, “come inside, you look like you could use a drink of water, some food maybe.”
Brendon turned away. “I don’t need to eat,” he said just as there was a loud rumble. He put a hand to his stomach, “I guess this form needs food?”
Spencer rolled his eyes. “Come on,” he said again, “I have some aloe you can put on that sunburn too.”
He started walking towards the house, and after a slight hesitation, Brendon followed.
Brendon doesn’t know why Spencer decided to let him stay. To this day he wonders if maybe deep down Spencer wanted to believe, but just needed proof.
Brendon couldn’t really give it to him. He was still trying to adjust to this new form on this new world, which wasn’t really new at all.
He'd watched the world from up there. He could watch them for days on end. He'd watch them go about their normal lives - watch them fall in love, get angry, yell, scream and make passionate love. And it was all beautiful.
Up there had been so quiet and calm while Earth had seemed so alive and exciting and busy.
Brendon was not envious. Envy was a sin. But he enjoyed his time among them, more so than the other angels.
The thing about being an angel though, was that there was always somewhere to go back to, somewhere to call home. Sure Spencer was letting him stay, but he could see it in Spencer's eyes. Spencer was waiting. He was waiting to see if Brendon did something magical, or maybe he was just waiting for Brendon to leave.
It was painfully obvious to them both that he didn’t belong here.
He would usually wait until Spencer was asleep before he would walk out. He’d tell himself this was it, he was not going back, he’ll move on. But instead he would wander the streets all night, only to return just before sunrise.
The humidity would cling to him and make it hard to breathe. Sometimes he would feel like a mouse trapped in a maze, just looking for a way out. He even made it to the edge of the suburb once. But the endless road seemed to go on forever, yawning blackness bidding him forward. It made his skin crawl, so he turned around and went back.
The problem was that he could feel God’s presence everywhere. The angels talked about the world as if it were damned, as if it had been abandoned, but He was everywhere. He was in the perfectly trimmed gardens and the dimly lit houses, He was under the four-wheel drives and He was with the cats prowling for pray.
Brendon was on his way home one night when he found Gabriel waiting for him, just leaning against the neighbour’s fence as if he belonged there, except he was in bright clothing with a baseball cap pulled low over his face.
“Gabriel,” Brendon said, coming to a stop in front of him.
“Brendon, baby,” Gabriel said, lifting the brim of his hat to look Brendon in the eyes, smile just as bright as his clothing.
“What do you want?”
“I’m checking up on you of course!” Gabriel said, “How are you?”
“I’m fine,” Brendon said through his teeth.
“Tsk tsk,” Gabriel said, “you know better than to lie to me, bro.”
“I’m not your bro anymore,” Brendon said, “remember? You outcast me, you threw me out! How could you do that to me?”
“You know the rules,” Gabriel said, taking a step back in the face of Brendon's rage, “what you did, what you have, that’s not allowed. If you take it back, if you stop, we’ll welcome you back.”
“Like you welcomed Amitiel back?” Brendon said.
“Don’t go there,” Gabriel said, his voice going hard.
“You of all people know it’s too late-” Brendon started.
“I said don’t go there,” Gabriel said, his eyes flashing. Brendon caught a glimpse of an outline of his wings before they were gone and Gabriel was standing in the dark, looking as harmless as ever, “what happened with Amy was different.”
“How was it different Gabriel?” Brendon said, “She developed feelings, and she was burned for it, I'm not so important or powerful and so I just get outcast. Am I wrong? Tell me I'm wrong Gabriel.”
Gabriel didn’t say anything. He looked at Brendon for a second more and then he was gone.
“Damn it,” Brendon said and kicked at the fence, and then he felt guilty for swearing.
When he wasn’t struck down he figured he was safe for now. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and made his way into the house.
He spent a month on Earth before he started to accept there was no going back. So he plucked up his courage and approached Spencer about staying, about becoming part of this new life.
“It’s become clear to me that my friends are not coming,” he told Spencer one night, “is it possible that I stay here with you until I get back on my feet?”
Spencer laughed, which was not what Brendon was expecting. “What do you think you’ve been doing all this time?”
“I’m…not sure,” Brendon said, hesitantly.
“Stay as long as you need to,” Spencer said.
“I want to pay you back,” Brendon said, “I want to be a local.”
Spencer narrowed his eyes. “How do you mean?”
“I would like to find a job and pay you rent,” Brendon said, “this is my life now and I'm accepting it.”
“Well,” Spencer said, leaning back in his chair, “it’s a step forward, what kind of job are you hoping to get?”
Brendon bit his lip. He hadn’t really thought that far, but he had no experience, at least noting he could put on paper. “I’m not sure.”
“You like music though right?” Spencer asked, and at Brendon's shocked expression, he continued, “you sing all the time, and you're not too bad, but I guess that’s an angel thing.”
When Brendon didn’t reply he pushed on. “I have a friend who’s looking for someone to work for him, it’s at a music store, and I think you two will get along well together.”
And that’s how Brendon met Patrick.
The store was a bus ride and twenty minute walk from home. It was on a side street that was off the main road and Brendon wondered if it got any customers in such a desolate place. The road was run down, the pavement was cracked and uneven, and everything was dull and grey.
When he walked into the store though, it was a completely different feeling. There was wood panel flooring, and posters on every free surface.
“Hey Patrick,” Spencer said in way of greeting the man behind the counter. He was shorter than Brendon and was wearing a bowler hat over his head.
Spencer told Patrick the truth, which surprised Brendon. He didn’t mention that Brendon was an angel but he said that he found Brendon in his front yard and was staying at his place for the time being and how he needed a job.
“I don’t know,” Patrick said, scratching his head from under his cap, “how much do you know about music?”
Brendon grinned. “How much time do you have?”
To his relief Patrick smiled. “Alright, we’ll keep you on a trial period for this week, Joe is getting married and Andy is moving house, so we really need someone to cover any shifts they need to take off.”
“That’s fine,” Brendon said, “I don’t have anything else on, and I'm only a bus ride away.”
“That’s great,” Patrick said, “when can you start?”
“Now?” Brendon said.
“Great!” Spencer said, “I have a job to go to on the other side of town so I’ll leave you guys to it?”
“Yeah,” Brendon said, waving him off before something caught his eye, “is that a signed Neal Schon guitar?”
“Yeah!” Patrick said, “I would have thought you’re too young to know him.”
“I’m older than I look,” Brendon said distractedly, taking a closer look at the walls. He had a feeling he will fit right in.
Brendon didn't think he'd ever see Dallon again. After he didn't respond to Brendon's prayers Brendon got the point loud and clear.
So seeing him standing in the middle of his room when he got in from work on Wednesday night was a surprise.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, dropping his bag by his feet but not moving into the room.
“Don’t be like that Brendon,” Dallon said, moving forward a step, his wings shimmering as if from their own source of light.
“You ratted me out and then when they threw me out, you didn't help me, tell me am I supposed to greet you with open arms?”
“I thought we were friends.”
“So did I,” Brendon said.
“I was just trying to help,” Dallon said, “you knew what you were feeling was wrong, you said so yourself-”
“I didn't!” Brendon said, “I was scared, I was asking for advice! You said it will be okay! This isn’t okay, Dallon!”
“It will be!” Dallon insisted, “Just take it back, stop feeling the way you do and they will welcome you back-”
“No!” Brendon yelled, “it doesn’t work like that, haven’t you learned anything from the humans you watch all day? You can’t just stop!”
“You are not a human Brendon!” Dallon replied, his voice rising.
“I am now, and it’s your fault!”
“You’re just an angel who has lost his way,” Dallon said, trying to even his tone, to sound reasonable, “you are my brother and I want to help you.”
“You’ve helped enough,” Brendon said, crossing his arm, “I'm not going back, I'm not going to say otherwise, lying is a sin.”
“Brendon!” Dallon said, finally losing his cool, sounding angry, “stop being so insolent-”
“Stop! Just stop!” Brendon yelled, uncrossing his arms to ball his hands into fists at his side, “I'm not your brother anymore, you can’t tell me what to do-”
Just then Spencer came up behind him. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah,” Brendon said, taking a deep breath and unclenching his hands.
“I just got home, I heard yelling…” he looked from Brendon to Dallon, who looked like a deer in headlights, trapped.
“Spencer, this is Dallon,” Brendon explained tightly, “he’s one of the friends I've been trying to call.”
“That’s good,” Spencer said and looked back at Brendon's face, “isn’t it?”
“No,” Brendon said, “Dallon was just leaving.”
And without another word, Dallon was gone.
“Holy shit,” Spencer said, “he just disappeared, how’d you do that?”
Brendon frowned. “I didn’t.”
He picked up his bag and finally moved further into the room, dumping his bag on the bed and rubbing his face, running his hands through his hair.
“Was he an angel?” Spencer asked, moving in after Brendon, looking around the room, “an actual angel?”
“Yes?” Brendon said, “Didn’t you believe me when I said I was.”
“No, I thought you were in a cult or something, I thought you might have been homeless.”
Brendon's frown deepened, turning into a scowl. “And are you now convinced?”
“Yeah,” Spencer said, running a hand through his hair, “yeah I think I am.”
Pete did not work at the store, but he was Patrick’s friend so he was there more often than not. He knew more about books than he did about music, had even published his own a few years back. It had been so popular that he could live off the commissions.
“I have hobby ADHD,” he told Brendon, “I like to keep it interesting you know? I’m just lucky I can afford to do that.”
“It’s not luck,” Patrick said, “you’re good at what you do.”
Pete grinned. “‘Trick likes to feed my ego,” he said, “it keeps me coming back.”
“My feeding your ego is not what keeps you coming back,” Patrick said.
“He’s right,” Pete said, “he’s my favourite and he knows it.”
Patrick rolled his eyes but didn’t reply to that. Brendon had a feeling this was an old conversation.
“Shouldn’t you be at home,” Patrick said, “practicing for the concert?”
“Practicing by myself is boring,” Pete said.
“Concert?” Brendon asked.
“Yeah, you know,” Pete said, “we go and play, people come to see us, there’s some screaming.”
“I know what a concert is,” Brendon said, “but I have never been to one.”
“You’ve never been to a concert before?” Pete asked in shock, “how is that possible?”
Brendon shrugged. “I never had the chance.”
“No, unacceptable,” Pete said, “we have to fix that, we’re playing on Thursday, you have to come.” He pulled out a little flyer and handed it to Brendon. “You’re still at Spencer's right? Give this to him; he’ll know where it is, tell him Pete said it was very important you come.”
Brendon's smile faltered when Pete didn’t smile back. “I’ll be there. What’s eighteen plus?”
“It means you have to be over 18,” Patrick said, “I’m sure you’ll be fine, but bring your ID just in case.”
“Identification card? Drivers licence?”
“I…lost mine,” he said, “the night Spencer found me.”
Pete and Patrick shared a look. “And you don’t have a social security number either, do you?” Patrick asked.
“I- I’m sorry,” he said, ready to run if he needed to, “I can explain.”
Pete suddenly smiled, and shook his head. “Don’t worry about it,” he said, “I know a guy.”
Spencer had rolled his eyes when Brendon told him what had happened but conceded that he needed to go to at least one live performance.
On Thursday afternoon, he went home and changed into a t-shirt and jeans. Then he changed his t-shirt. Then he changed his jeans. By the time Spencer was home, he was standing in a pile of clothing he’d tried on and rejected.
“What are you doing?” Spencer asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
“I don’t know what to wear,” Brendon said.
Spencer sighed. “Just wear something comfortable,” he said, “no one is going to be looking at what you look like anyway.”
Brendon picked up the nearest shirt, a red one, and put it on, slipping into matching red chucks and he was ready.
The small bar was packed. Spencer took Brendon's hand and they squeezed through the mass of people until they couldn’t get any closer to the stage. People pressed up on all sides and Brendon could hardly move. He could feel the anticipation of everyone building around him, and it just added to his own.
Then the first band came up and people surged forward. There was no choice but to move with them, but Brendon found he didn’t mind because once the music started it was like he was in another world.
Between the press of bodies he could barely breathe, but he found he didn’t need air, as long as the music was playing. By the end of the first song his clothes were soaked in his sweat and the people around him, and he realised he didn’t care.
Pete and Patrick’s band was the second band to go up. He’d heard them practice before so he knew some of their songs, but hearing everyone sing along with him, with Patrick, was dizzying.
By the time the last band came on, Brendon was light headed. For the first time in a long time he felt like part of something, something bigger than himself. But instead of the monotonous angel existence, this was something new, full of lust and want, it was like being drunk on emotion. He didn’t want the night to end.
When the last band walked off, the crowd started to call for an encore. Spencer grabbed his arm and told him he’ll wait at the bar and started to make his way out.
The band played two more songs before thanking everyone for coming. Brendon wanted to call them out again, to keep playing, but as the press of people became nothing more than a crowd, Brendon headed towards the bar to find Spencer.
“Hey,” Spencer said when Brendon leaned on the bar next to him.
“That was awesome,” Brendon said, “I didn’t want it to end.”
Spencer smiled, “I'm glad.” He gestured for Brendon to sit down next to him and Brendon collapsed into the stool.
Brendon asked for water and not long after they were joined by Pete and Patrick.
Brendon couldn’t stop talking about how great it had been.
It wasn’t until the next day that Brendon approached Patrick about that one chord that had sounded wrong.
“Wrong?” Patrick asked, “How do you mean?”
“There’s a song, it goes, keep telling myself, keep telling myself I'm not the desperate type?” Brendon asked, “You go higher when you should go lower.”
At Patrick’s expression Brendon hesitated. “Is this forbidden? Am I not allowed to comment on the music?” he asked, “It’s just that I've heard you practice it before, and I couldn’t pick out what was wrong until I heard it yesterday. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any disrespect.”
Patrick grinned. “No, not at all,” he went to the staff room and picked up his guitar, “in fact, if I played it now would you be able to point it out for me?”
“I think so,” Brendon said.
So Patrick played and Brendon heard it now, it was so obvious. “There!” he said, pointing at Patricks guitar, “did you hear it?” he imitated the sounds of the guitar but how they should be.
“So like this?” Patrick asked, and played the part again, how it should be, “huh,” he said, “I see what you mean.”
He played a few more chords, and nodded along. “Yes, there, how did you even pick that out?”
Brendon shrugged. “I just knew what it was meant to sound like.”
Patrick nodded. “That’s a talent you have there, not everyone can do that.”
Brendon shrugged again but didn’t answer. He’s always been able to do it.
It was a week after the concert, and Brendon still felt uneasy. He felt on edge, deflated and disconnected. He kept feeling a need to be between those people again, to rub against them, and drink in the passion and lust.
It was too much and not enough, Brendon felt like he was suffocating. He threw the sheets off his bed and took off his shirt. He rubbed a hand across his face and then across his chest and he felt his body reacting.
He knew what was happening, but he couldn't do what he wanted, it was a sin. God was always watching. Then he thought no, he can’t be, or else he wouldn't have let this happen.
He pressed the heel of his hand to the base of his hardening cock and suppressed a moan. The only people who were watching were his brothers, and nothing he could do would change their mind so he might as well give them a show.
He curled his fingers around the shaft and stroked. He let out a quiet gasp. The skin was so sensitive. He did it again, and again, feeling something, heat, pool at the base of his spine.
His dick was leaking, which only made him more frantic, made his movements easier, until finally, finally, sweet release.
He fell back against the mattress, breathing heavily. He wiped his hand against the sheets, and then searched for his shirt again to wipe at his stomach, already itchy from the come and the cold air.
He pulled the sheets back up, rolled on to his side and went to sleep. It was the best sleep he’s had since he fell.
When Spencer told Brendon that Ryan was coming to stay for a while Brendon wasn’t sure what to expect. He knew Spencer was still trying to convince Ryan that Brendon wasn’t some homeless man off the street, and even though Spencer was convinced, Ryan was not.
“What does Ryan look like?” Brendon asked a day before Ryan was meant to arrive.
“What?” Spencer asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
“You talk about him a little, and talk to him all the time,” Brendon said, “but there’s no pictures anywhere.”
“I don’t know, he’s 5’10, dark hair, really skinny?” Spencer said.
Brendon laughed. “That’s terrible, do you know how many people fit that description?”
“A lot?” Spencer said, smiling sheepishly.
“Yeah, a lot,” Brendon said, “what’s he like at least, you have to tell me so I know what to expect when I meet him.”
“You know, I have this one picture,” he said, pulling out his wallet from a back pocket. He opened it and pulled out a faded, wrinkled photo.
“Is that him?” Brendon said, taking the photo carefully.
“Yeah, a few years ago,” he said, “we were in a band together and this was at one of our gigs.”
Brendon watched Spencer smile softly at the picture. “What are you remembering?”
“He loved that outfit,” Spencer said, “this red vest with all these roses on it, and he had a matching belt scarf thing, and see that on his face?”
Brendon nodded, looking closer at what looked like a blindfold over his eyes. “Make-up,” Spencer said, “every show he would do something different.”
“Does he still dress like that?” Brendon asked.
“No,” Spencer said, “god no, some kids made fun of the vest and so he accidentally forgot it somewhere, and the make-up, well.” Spencer sighed. “He went through phases. His ex-girlfriend went crazy when they broke up, and she stole all his make-up.”
“Girlfriend?” Brendon asked, surprised.
“Yeah well, we’ve been friends since we were four, but we didn’t really get together until a couple of years ago.”
“But you seem like…” Brendon hesitated, wondering how to word this.
“Like we’ve been together forever?” Spencer asked, smiling, “probably because we have, I mean I only ever had one girlfriend, and that lasted a while, and Ryan went through a string of tall beautiful blonds before he, or well we, realised that maybe the reason the thing with girls didn’t work out was because we would always care about each other more.”
“That’s really sappy,” Brendon said, and Spencer punched him hard in the arm.
“What happened to the band?” he asked, rubbing his arm. That’s going to bruise, he thought.
“Oh, well, I got into nursing school here, and he was already studying over there. He thought about moving but he’d lose a year and anyway, his father got really sick so he had to stay to look after him.”
“Oh,” Brendon said, “I'm sorry.”
Spencer huffed out a laugh. “Why?” he asked, “you didn’t do anything. Did you?”
“No,” Brendon said, “I'm an angel of travel, that’s out of my league, things like that, but it kind of sucks.”
“Yeah,” Spencer said then shrugged, “it’s okay, we get by.”
Ryan didn’t arrive until Saturday evening. They took him out for pizza- proper deep dish Chicago pizza- so he could get well acquainted with Brendon.
He looked exhausted though, his pale skin making the bags under his eyes seem dark. And though they talked, Ryan only had eyes for Spencer. They sat on the same side of the bench, pressed against each other. It should have been uncomfortable but Spencer had never looked more content.
Brendon felt a pang of jealousy. At least, that’s what he thought it was. He’s seen people love before, watched it from afar like the good angel he was, but he’s never seen it this close before. They almost seemed to communicate without words, just by touches and looks.
It shouldn’t be a surprise really. Brendon had fallen for this after all. He still felt it, a pulsating feeling that would threaten to overtake him if he ever focused on it for too long. But he found himself wondering, what the point was if he was alone?
Ryan gave Brendon a wide berth. Brendon wasn’t sure why at first, but as the days passed it became clear. Ryan didn’t like Brendon; he was still convinced Brendon was a homeless man or something.
Brendon didn’t want to confront him about it, but it was hard to ignore the sideways glances, the way Ryan wouldn’t want to sit next to him. One night he even looked up to see Ryan staring straight at him.
“What?” he asked, “is there something on my face?”
Ryan shook his head and dragged his eyes away, only to bring them back a moment later. “You don’t look-”
“Like an angel?”
“Like a homeless man,” Ryan finished.
“I'm not exactly homeless, am I?” Brendon said warily.
“I guess not.”
Spencer had gone to bed earlier. He’d hesitated at first but when he yawned Ryan rolled his eyes at him and raised an eyebrow, so he’d bid them good night and left. And now Ryan couldn’t take his eyes off Brendon.
“It’s a little creepy you know,” Brendon said, “didn’t your mother teach you any manners?”
“My mother left when I was three years old,” Ryan said.
Brendon was shocked into silence. He barely knew Ryan and that seemed like very personal information. “I-I’m sorry.”
“So was I.”
Brendon frowned. He had no idea what to say to that. Ryan sounded so bitter.
“Listen,” he continued, “I don’t know what your deal is, and Spencer is a trusting guy, but he’s not stupid, so if he trusts you then I guess you’re not going to murder us in our sleep. But let’s get one thing straight, I don’t believe in God or angels or whatever, and if you're here on some mission or something-”
“Oh, oh!” Brendon said, lights going off in his head, “No, I’m not on a mission, I mean, I don’t know what to tell you to make you believe that I am an angel but I'm not here to convert anyone, and Spencer has been nothing but kind to me. I don’t want to hurt him, or you.”
“Good,” Ryan said, “if you do then I don’t care if you are God’s right hand man, I will come after you.”
“I'm not nearly as powerful,” Brendon said, “and I’m not going anywhere. I have nowhere to go.”
Ryan looked at him a moment longer, then finally looked away. Brendon felt like he might have just passed some sort of test but he had no idea what it was.
They went bowling the next day. Brendon found he had terrible form, and even worse aim. Ryan wasn’t any better, which meant Spencer was beating them.
Still it was more fun than he’d expected it to be. When they had told him it was just rolling a heavy ball down an alley made of wood he didn't see the appeal, but now that he was here, with the music in the background and junk food on the table between them, he got it.
“I’m totally gonna beat you in the next game,” he told Spencer, “I’m just warming up.”
“Yeah, right,” Spencer said.
“I’m going to get a drink before we start the new game,” Ryan said, looking between them, “do you guys want anything?”
“No thanks,” Brendon said.
Spencer shook his head no. “Hurry back.”
Ryan was gone five minutes when the alarms started.
“What’s that?” Brendon asked.
“Fire alarm,” Spencer said, looking around, brow furrowed. The other patrons were doing the same, but there was no mistaking the smoke streaming out of the ball shoot.
The music stopped and a voice booked out of the speakers instead. “This is not a drill, please proceed calmly to the nearest exit, staff will be in shortly to direct you. I repeat, this is not a drill-”
Before he could finish there was a bang, and more smoke flooded out of the end of the lanes, and a succession of bangs that sounded a lot like machinery falling apart. Someone screamed and people started to run towards the doors.
“We should leave,” Brendon said. The place was starting to fill up with hot black smoke, but Spencer hadn’t made a move to leave.
“Ryan-” he said.
“We’ll meet him outside,” Brendon said, “come on.”
It was getting hard to see and harder to breathe, so he took Spencer's hand and dragged him out, following the last of the people out the door.
“Ryan!” Spencer called, as they made it out into blessed fresh air, looking all around at people’s faces, “do you see him? I don't see him-”
“He has to be around here somewhere-” Brendon said, trying to catch his breath, to get oxygen into his lungs.
“Ryan!” Spencer called again, trying to be heard over the people yelling and panicking.
The heat behind them was getting hotter; he took Spencer's hand and pulled him farther away. He could see flames coming up from the ceiling and more bangs as things crashed inside. People approached them and pulled them further away, asked what Ryan looked like, trying to help them locate him.
But it was becoming more and more clear that Ryan wasn't out here. “He’s still in there,” Spencer said, “he’s- he didn't get out-” He turned around and tried to go back in, but a couple of guys already had holds on him, pulling him back as he screamed for Ryan.
It only took Brendon a second to make the decision. While everyone was distracted with Spencer he ran inside again. The smoke was a black screen by now, the only relief came with the flickering of the flames.
He pulled his shirt over his mouth and moved further into the building. The heat was almost unbearable, his human side demanding he turn around and leave, that he wouldn't survive, but he ignored it and pushed on.
He could barely keep his eyes open from the heat and the smoke when he saw it, a flash of movement, something pale blue in the flickering light and smoke.
“Ryan!” he called, trying to make himself heard over the roaring all around them, and promptly started coughing. He tried to take small shallow breaths but it was like his lungs were on fire, not enough oxygen to keep him going, and still he pushed on, tried to call again as he made his way closer. Ryan didn’t hear him until Brendon was practically on top of him.
“What are you doing here? You should have gotten out!” Ryan yelled at him. He was sitting on the ground, holding his leg. Brendon may have been new to being human but he was sure legs shouldn’t bend like that.
“I did but you weren’t there,” Brendon said.
“This isn’t the time to be having a conversation,” Ryan said, “help me, something hit my leg, I heard something crack.”
Brendon helped Ryan up and let him lean all his weight on Brendon but as they got ready to walk out one of the main beams fell with a crash, blocking their way.
“Shit,” Ryan said.
“I can get us out,” Brendon said, “just close your eyes.”
“I’ll explain later, just do it.”
When Ryan's eyes were closed, Brendon summoned up as much grace as he could and shifted. The world flickered and they were standing outside, soft grass under foot and the night air cooling his face. For a moment this was just like heaven.
Ryan opened his eyes and looked around, then his eyes widened as he saw the building behind them, fire still raging.
“How the fuck did you do that?” he asked, “did I pass out?”
But before Brendon could say anything more the paramedics were upon them, giving them water and blankets and masks then Spencer was there hugging Brendon and kissing Ryan and then the world started to spin before it all went black.
Brendon blinked once, twice before things came into focus.
“Finally,” he heard someone say.
He turned his head and saw Ryan sitting there, his leg in a cast.
“What happened?” Brendon asked, and then regretted the decision immediately. It hurt to talk and his voice sounded weird.
“You pulled me out of the fire,” Ryan said, eyes wide, “and then you passed out.”
“Your leg,” Brendon said, he had to know, “are you alright?”
“I'm fine,” Ryan said, “it was a clean snap, the doctors said, it’ll be a while before it heals but it’ll get back to normal.”
Brendon relaxed back into the pillows. “Is everyone else okay?”
“Yeah, fine,” Ryan said, “Spencer just went out to get some food.”
The sat in silence for a while longer but Ryan couldn’t sit still. Brendon could sense the question without even needing to look at him.
“Just ask,” he rasped, “I know you're wondering, just spit it out.”
“What happened out there?” Ryan said, not denying or hesitating, “I must’ve passed out, one minute we’re standing in the fire and the next we were outside.”
“I used my grace, whatever is left of it anyway,” Brendon said. He really hadn’t thought it would exhaust him that much.
“Not this again,” Ryan said, “you might have convinced Spencer but-”
“Look at me,” Brendon said, frustrated, “do I look like I could have dragged you out of there? And you saw the beam fall, there was no way we were walking out of there.”
“There’s no such thing as angels,” Ryan said stubbornly.
“Believe what you want,” Brendon said, “I'm just glad you're not dead.”
“You’re not going to fight me on this?” Ryan asked, finally hesitating.
“No,” Brendon said, “I'm just so tired.”
Ryan opened his mouth to say something but they were interrupted by Spencer walking in.
“Muffins!” Brendon said, reaching out, “I'm starving!”
“You’re awake!” Spencer said.
“I am!” Brendon replied, “And famished, won’t you feed me Spencer?”
Spencer laughed. “The doctors need to look at you first, they said you’re not allowed to eat solids for a while.”
“Why? I feel fine!” he said and then went into a coughing spasm, as if his human form was trying to prove him wrong.
Before Spencer could reply a nurse walked in and started asking Brendon questions while checking the monitor and looking into his eyes and his throat, giving Spencer the perfect opportunity to slip away again.
“I know what you did,” Spencer said later that night, his voice barely above a whisper. There had been a mini celebration when Patrick and Pete had come to visit, quickly followed by Joe, and Brendon wondered how he managed to acquire this new family.
Then they had all gone home and only Ryan and Spencer had remained. The nurse had tried to usher Ryan back to his bed but he insisted on staying put. She had thrown up her arms in exasperation and left him there when it became clear he wasn’t leaving.
Spencer looked at him now, fast asleep and slumped in his chair.
“What do you mean?” Brendon asked, just as quietly, looking from Spencer to Ryan and back.
“You saved him,” Spencer said, “you did something, he said one minute you were trapped inside and the next you were out on the grass, he said he couldn’t remember passing out but he would have been dead weight if he had.”
“I wasn’t sure it would work,” Brendon admitted.
“And you went in anyway,” Spencer replied.
“I couldn’t just leave him in there,” Brendon said.
Spencer was quiet for a moment, just watching Ryan sleep. “I don’t think I can ever thank you enough.”
“There’s no need,” Brendon said, “you’ve already given me so much.”
Spencer nodded. “My mom always said that no good deed goes unpaid, but I never thought it would be like this.”
“I would have saved him even if - I mean, I didn’t think of it as payment or anything,” he shifted uncomfortably, “I would have done it anyway.”
“I know,” Spencer said, “but if I hadn’t taken you in you wouldn’t have been there and- and-” he stopped and swallowed. “I’ve known Ryan my whole life, I can’t imagine my life without him.”
Brendon remained quiet. He’d seen love like this. He was as old as the earth. He was there when the first man walked across new territory.
“Your brothers,” Spencer started, “I mean, you said they would come for you and they didn’t, was it them? Do you mind me asking? I mean, you don’t seem particularly sinful.”
Brendon let out a laugh, only aware of how bitter it sounded once it had left his mouth. “I was thrown out, or I guess fell would be more accurate, because I fell in love.”
“With a human?” Spencer asked, eyes going wide.
“No,” Brendon said, “that might have been easier to deal with, no,” he repeated, “I fell for a fellow angel, one of my brothers.”
“Was it because it was a brother,” Spencer said hesitantly, “and not a sister?”
Brendon frowned. “What?”
“Was it because you're brother was a boy,” Spencer clarified, “if it had been a girl-”
“No, no,” Brendon said, shaking his head, “love is love, but angels are not meant to love anything more than God and I did, I developed feelings of resentment as well. It only really intensified now I don’t try to suppress it.”
“Does your brother know?” Spencer asked, “The one you fell for?”
Brendon shook his head. “I don’t think so, but I haven’t seen him in a long time.”
They were quiet for a while longer then Brendon spoke up again. “Do you worry that you and Ryan are living in sin?”
Spencer blinked at him. “I didn’t say that.”
“I know,” Brendon said, “that’s why I ask.”
Spencer's eyes flickered to Ryan again before turning his eyes downwards. “Sometimes. I grew up Christian, so we were always taught it was wrong. But being with Ryan feels so right…”
Brendon shook his head. “Love is love,” he said, “it doesn’t matter who it’s directed towards, love is love.”
Ryan went home soon after. He still had a cast and crutches but the doctors told him he was free to leave, as long as he got the doctors to check up on it once he was back home.
The change in Spencer was significant if not almost instant, and Brendon found himself wondering how he never noticed how quiet Spencer was, how he’d stare off into the distance sometimes. It was like looking at half of a person, like Ryan took something of Spencer with him when he left.
He understood now why he’d felt a connection with Spencer. He was going through the same thing, he had a sadness that never seemed to go away until Ryan was there, and now that he was gone it was back.
Brendon wanted to say something, but everything he could think of; from ‘it will be okay,’ to ‘I know how you feel’ felt empty and sounded hollow in his mind. So he didn’t say anything, instead he tried to keep Spencer occupied, tried to fill the silence whenever it fell.
Which was strange, since Ryan wasn’t that loud, or talked that much, but even Brendon felt it. Ryan left a hole when he left.
Brendon was released from hospital ten days after the fire. His voice was getting better, it was getting easier to breathe and he had almost finished the medication courses they’d given him.
Once he went home though, the nightmares started. They would all start out different; work or home or heaven or something completely new, but they would all end the same.
He would get the sense someone was watching him. He’d turn around and take a step back, trip over something and suddenly he’s falling, but there was no floor, just flames reaching up to swallow him. He felt the heat and knew there was no way out.
The first time he woke with a scream, making Spencer rush in, still half asleep himself. By the end of the week though, he was getting used to the waking up in a cold sweat. He would just roll over and go back to sleep.
He knew what it meant. Of course he knew what it all stood for in his subconscious, but it didn’t get any less scary with time. He’d nearly died and there was no way he was going back to heaven, so there was only one place he would go.
The fifth time it happened he got out of bed for a glass of water and found Spencer sitting in the kitchen, looking just as wrecked as Brendon felt.
“Can’t sleep?” Spencer asked.
“Nightmares,” Brendon replied. He didn’t see the point of hiding it.
Spencer nodded as if he already knew. “Tomorrow, I’m going to try and fix this.”
“Today, you mean,” Brendon said, sitting down opposite Spencer.
To his surprise Spencer smiled. “Today, it will get better.”
They eventually moved to the living room, Brendon stretched out on one couch, and Spencer curled on the other. They turned on the TV and at some point Brendon managed to drop off into sweet dreamless sleep.
When Brendon woke up later that morning, it was a slow rise to consciousness. Spencer was still sleeping so he quietly got up and made some instant coffee and poured himself some cereal.
He was almost finished when Spencer woke up. He didn’t move for the longest time, and when he did, instead of joining Brendon, he went to his room.
Brendon thought he was going back to sleep in his own bed but he came out again a few minutes later with a stack of DVDs in his hands.
“Don’t tell anyone I have these,” he said, and handed the DVDs to him, “we’re having a marathon.”
“Love Actually, Notting Hill,” Brendon read as he flipped through them, “I’m not sure I understand.”
“Chick flicks,” he said, “we want to be sad, so we get sad, but they mostly have happy endings.”
“So we get sad then we get happy?” Brendon asked, still sceptical.
Spencer hesitated. “Hopeful,” he said, “these things, they're in the business of selling hope, and sometimes a little hope is a good thing.”
Half way through He's Just Not That Into You Brendon understood what Spencer meant. He knew what was going to happen and yet here he was rooting for Gigi. He found himself invested and, yes, hoping for that happy ending.
The satisfaction that came with the end of every movie never diminished, and by the end of the day, with pizza boxes and beer bottles strewn across the living room, Brendon found he felt better.
He nudged Spencer under the blanket they shared, each sitting on either end of the couch, and when he had Spencer's attention he said, “thank you.”
Spencer smiled sleepily. “Anytime.”
“You’re sure you don’t want to come with me?” Spencer said, standing by the door with a bag over his shoulder and another by his feet.
“Yeah, Christmas never made sense to me,” Brendon said, crossing his arms over his chest, to keep the chill at bay.
“And you're gonna be okay on your own?” Spencer pressed, “My mom always makes too much food anyway.”
“I’ll be fine,” Brendon said, “now go, before you miss your flight.”
Spencer still looked reluctant, but he picked up his second bag and walked out to his car. He tossed his bags into the trunk and came back around. “If you need anything, I'm just a phone call away.” he called out from the driver’s seat.
“I know,” Brendon replied, grinning, “I’ll be fine!”
He watched Spencer drive away before going back inside and locking the door behind him. When he walked into the living room though, he wanted to take everything back.
Jon was standing in the middle of the small space, looking uncomfortable and cramped.
Brendon wanted to run to him, to touch his face, to make sure he wasn’t just imagining him after all this time.
“Brendon.” And his voice sounded real enough. Brendon edged closer, but not close enough to touch.
“Jon?” Brendon asked, and he hated how small his voice sounded, how unsure and human.
“I’m here to take you back,” Jon said.
“I don’t want to go back,” Brendon said, petulant.
“You have to come back,” Jon said, “you’re one of us, you can’t stay here forever.”
“I’m not anymore,” Brendon said, “I'm human.”
“I sense your wings,” Jon said, “your grace, it’s still within you, we can fix this.”
“I don’t want to be fixed,” Brendon said, “there’s nothing to fix, I want to be here.”
Jon blinked in confusion, “how- why do you lie?”
“I’m human now, I have a life and friends,” Brendon said, “I don’t want to go back. It’s better here, they have music here, and feelings, and not just love, they have anger and sadness and happiness, Jon. It’s okay to be happy, and it’s okay to be angry. They have snow and the leaves in autumn, and the colours are so bright, brighter than I’ve ever seen them before. ”
“But why would you want that over heaven?” Jon said, “Was it not enough? Come on Brendon, that’s enough, you need to come back.”
Brendon sighed. “I can’t.”
“Brendon- you have been here long enough, you’ve had your fun, it is time to come home.”
“No, you don’t understand,” Brendon said, “I can’t, I tried, I’ve been cut off.” He crossed his arms over his small frame again. It shouldn’t still hurt so much.
“I’ll open one for both of us,” Jon said, “I’ll take us both up and we’ll work it out. Michael and Gabriel can-”
“Michael is the reason I'm here,” Brendon said, “don’t you see? They did this to me.”
The expression on Jon's face would have been funny if it wasn’t so heartbreaking. “I’ll fix this,” he said, moving forward to put his hands on Brendon's shoulders, “I’ll make it better.”
“Jon-” Brendon started, but it was too late, Jon was gone.
It rained all through the long weekend. Fat rain drops attacking the window, as if it had wronged them personally. Which was a ridiculous way to look at it, Brendon realised, but it was the third day of being cooped up alone at home, so he didn’t really care.
Jon didn’t come back. On the second day Brendon thought he saw a figure outside, but when he ran out to see who it was, he only found a white feather tipped with blue in the rose bush, which could only mean Dallon.
That night the thunder woke him up in the early hours of the morning, the sky almost red with storm clouds. He thought he saw a figure standing by his closet, wingspan going across the length of the room, but when he turned on the table lamp there was nothing there.
He sighed and went back to a fitful sleep. His brothers can watch all they want, but if they won’t speak to him then he won’t let it bother him. The next morning he found a white feather tipped with gold next to the closet, so it was either Gabriel or Michael.
He put it with Dallon’s and put them aside. He hadn’t let out his wings since he fell. At first he didn’t want to be reminded of what he had lost, and later it had just became inconvenient. But he was constantly aware of them, just below the surface, even more so now that he had seen his brothers.
He closed his eyes and focused. It was harder than he remembered and for a moment he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to do it. There was a slight pressure and then blessed relief as he felt them unfurl. He was careful to stretch them, feeling the tips brush the wall on one side and the dresser on the other.
He slowly opened his eyes and almost closed them again. His feathers, his beautiful perfect feathers were sooty black. He brought one forward and touched it, expecting the colour to come away on his fingers, but it didn’t.
This was their doing. Michael, Gabriel and William. This, more than anything, proved he was not going back.
Brendon didn’t know what he was doing here. It had been a few weeks since he last saw Jon. He was probably on another mission by now. Time was different up there, seemed to go by faster than down here, where the days crawled by.
He sighed and put his hands into his hoodie pockets. It was stupid to think that it would work. He knew his prayers would not be answered, had tried when he first - when it had happened.
Just as he gave up and started to walk home, he heard a sound. He turned around and there was Jon, dark hair stark against the snow. “You called?”
“I-” Brendon was caught off guard, suddenly breathless, “I didn’t think you’d come.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” he said, stepping forward, but still too far to touch.
“The others - didn’t they tell you?” Brendon said. If he could just get air into this stupid human flesh he’d be more coherent.
“Yes,” Jon said, voice emotionless, face even more so, “they said when you fell, it was in love.”
“And you still came?” Brendon asked. He could feel himself trying to fit the old shape, the expectation, even now, months later.
“Of course,” Jon said, taking another step towards Brendon, “why would I not? We’re brothers, friends, I love you.”
“No!” Brendon yelled, suddenly frustrated, “You don’t understand!”
“I understand enough,” Jon said evenly, taking yet another step forward, “you say you’re happier here and yet I know you are sad. You say you have friends, but I’ve never seen such loneliness. You say you want to be here and yet I hear you at night, begging them to let you back.”
Brendon was struck dumb.
“Have you ever thought that we might need you?” Jon said, “That heaven is not the same without you?”
“Have you ever considered that it was only you that felt that way?” Brendon said, “That the others are glad I left? Don’t you ever wonder why my prayers remain unanswered by anyone but you?”
“We were closer-” Jon started.
“You are an idiot,” Brendon interrupted, “have you never considered that when I fell, it was for you?”
“For me?” Jon said quietly, “but I didn’t-”
“It’s okay,” Brendon said, even though it wasn’t, it would never be okay, “it’s not your fault.”
Jon looked at him, his eyes pleading, and without another word, he left.
Brendon cursed; unaware of how close Jon had ended up standing before disappearing.
He waited for a while longer, but Jon didn’t come back, so he buried his hands in his hoodie again and walked away. There was nothing to stop him this time.
It wasn't long before Brendon came to a decision. He thought about it for days but it felt like the best option. Now that he was sure there was no going back, there was no reason for him to stand still. He needed to keep moving, to experience the world.
Spencer wasn't happy. “You want to what?”
“I want to move to Japan,” Brendon repeated.
“Japan?” Spencer asked, “Of all the places, that’s a whole other country! You couldn't just move into a new apartment?”
“No,” Brendon said, calm in the face of Spencer’s surprise, “it has to be a new country, a new place, I need that kind of stimulus.”
“Well, can’t you get that here?” Spencer said, “aren’t you happy here?”
“No, I mean, yes, of course,” Brendon said, taking Spencer’s hand, “I couldn't have asked for a better persons lawn to fall into, but I need to do this. I know now, for sure that this is it, I’m here for good, and I’m here alone.”
“But you’re not alone,” Spencer said, “you have me, and Patrick and Pete and-”
“Spence, hey, I know, I didn't mean it like that,” Brendon said, “but I need to start afresh, as a human, not as a fallen angel, or a random homeless man you took into your home, but as a person.”
“How will you survive?” Spencer asked, sounding defeated, “do you even have enough money to start over?”
“I have a little saved up, I think if I only pay rent next month I’ll be able to save enough to fly over, I’m already looking for jobs, there’s a lot of people looking for runners, I think I’d be good at that-”
“You’ve really thought this out haven’t you?”
“Yes,” Brendon said, “yes, I think it’s the best thing.”
Spencer sighed. “Don’t worry about paying rent, save your money for things like food.”
Brendon was so overwhelmed he got off his chair and hugged Spencer. “Thank you,” he said into Spencer’s hair.
“It’s not like you needed my permission,” Spencer said, his voice sounding tight.
“I know,” Brendon said, letting him go, “but I don’t know what I would have done if you had asked me to stay.”
All of Brendon’s things fit in a small suitcase, he realised when it was time to pack. Spencer forced him to take a few extra essentials like bed sheets and towels, he even tried to squeeze Brendon’s pillow into the bag, but there was a limit to how much the suitcase could be stuffed.
Then Spencer drove him to the airport and Brendon almost wanted to back out.
“Take care of yourself,” Spencer said, “and call me when you land.”
“I will,” Brendon said, “and I’ll call you as soon as I can.”
“You’re sure about this?” Spencer asked, “It’s not too late.”
“Spence,” Brendon said reproachfully.
“Right, right,” he said, looking away.
“Thank you for taking care of me,” he said, “not everyone would have done what you did.”
“You changed my life,” Spencer said, then laughed, sounding a little choked, “and I sound like a movie, I’m sorry.”
Brendon laughed too. “That’s okay,” he said, “you know they always have a happy ending though.”
“Yeah,” Spencer said, “I hope you find yours.”
Brendon smiled. “Me too.”
He waved to Spencer until he was out of sight. Everything after that passed by in a rush of queues and security and before he knew it he was boarding.
Being in a plane was strange. He tried not to think about how they managed to suspend tons of metal in the air, but it was hard. When the plane levelled out, he managed to calm down though. The little boy sitting in front of him had his face plastered to the window, and Brendon wanted to do the same.
They were flying above the clouds, and if Brendon didn’t know any better he’d think they were solid. He’d almost forgotten what it all looked like from up here, with the sun making everything look golden.
This wasn't heaven, of course, but he had spent some time here, on the edge of the atmosphere and observed the humans. Sometimes Jon even joined him. But that was a long time ago and he was moving on.
He closed the window and turned on his in-flight television, plugged his headphones in and immersed himself in the new releases.
Japan was nothing and everything like he expected it to be. It was strange and foreign, but it was also different and wonderful. The place he’d rented was small, but it didn't need to be big. It had a bed and a kitchen and a bathroom, that’s all he needed.
The next day he wanted to run around and explore the city, but instead he bundled himself up and went out in search of work. It was hard to get across the language barrier at first, but the more he heard them talk, the more he seemed to remember the language.
By the end of the day he’d walked into more than 20 shops, but he managed to remember enough Japanese to get himself by, and by the time he got home, he had a job as a delivery boy for a restaurant right in the heart of the city. They even provided a bike for him.
He bought a new phone card and put it in his cell phone just like Spencer showed him, and then called him.
“Hello?” The voice on the other side was crackly and quiet, but it was comforting in its familiarity.
“Spencer?” Brendon said, “It’s me, I’m here in Japan!”
“Yeah!” Brendon said, “I got a job and I can speak Japanese, I forgot but I remembered-” then something registered about Spencer’s voice. “Did I wake you?”
“Sort of, yeah,” Spencer said, “it’s like 3 in the morning, but it’s okay, keep going, you can speak Japanese?”
“Yeah,” Brendon said, “I used to be able to understand every language, but I guess since I was out of practice the knowledge started to fade, until I heard it again.”
“How was your apartment?” Spencer asked, “Did it have everything they said it would?”
“Yeah,” Brendon said, “it’s so small, it’s perfect.”
“Good, I’m glad,” Spencer said, “and you said you got a job, do you even know how to ride a bike?”
“I’ve never tried,” Brendon said, “but how hard can it be?”
Spencer laughed again, and even through the weak connection Brendon could tell it was at his expense. “Let me know how it goes for you,” he said, “but you should go, you shouldn’t spend all your money on this phone call.”
“Sorry for waking you.”
“No it’s okay,” Spencer said, “I’m just going to go straight back to sleep, thanks for letting me know you’re okay.”
“Of course,” Brendon said, “good night.”
Riding a bicycle wasn't hard after the first couple of tries. It was a means of transport, and no matter how much he wanted to leave that part of him behind, some parts will always remain. He had been an angel of travel for a very long time; he had a feeling it will take more than 6 months on earth to make that not important any more.
He loved it; zooming through the crowds, cars stuck in constant traffic rushing past him. By the end of the week he’d doubled his rate in tips, because people were impressed by his speed.
“You’re sure you’re not just jumping your way around?” Spencer said when he’d told him, through text, a couple of weeks after starting work.
“Don’t be silly, I’m human now, can’t be seen as anything more than that.”
They’d figured out that texting was easier than trying to call, because of the difference in time zones. One or the other was always sleeping it seemed. Besides it was much cheaper.
He had not intended to stay in touch with Spencer, or at least have less contact with him, but he found he couldn't help thinking of him at the end of long days, when he was alone in his apartment.
In his free time he would go exploring, every day branching out a little more. He got lost a few times, and managed to find his way back, but that only helped his navigation.
When he knew the streets like the back of his hand he started to visit the attractions. He visited the aquariums and the zoo and all the museums he could find.
He found a sort of peace in between all the people. It was like being inside a hive; alone and yet part of something huge. It was so utterly human and nothing like being an angel. It was fantastic.
At the end of the month it started to snow; light and fluffy flakes that melted before they touched the ground, but it didn't stop. After two days he woke up and everything was covered with a layer of white.
He made sure to bundle up before walking to work, and was thankful for the scarf Spencer had insisted he take. The snowflakes stung as he flew through the streets, and the cold air was like knives.
And still, he loved every minute of it. After his day was over, instead of going home, he took his dinner and went to Rikugien Garden. It was his favourite from the ones he’d found, even if he had to pay for entry.
It was worth it to see the contrast between the snow all over the ground, and the still-green trees. The few trees that had lost their leaves were covered in ice, making them look delicate and almost unreal.
He found a nearly empty spot, and sat down to eat. He’d become proficient in using chopsticks, and before long he was done. He had started on the soup, when right in front of him, someone appeared.
One minute it was an empty clearing and the next, there was a naked person lying in the snow. He stood up, moved a little closer, called out in Japanese and then English.
When he got close enough to see the persons face though, he dropped the soup and ran to the person.
“Brendon?” Jon said, still trying to get up.
“Jon what the hell, what are - what happened?” he said, taking off his jacket and wrapping it around Jon’s naked body as he did, helping him up.
“Why is it so cold?” Jon said, pulling the jacket closer to him. A couple walking past gave them curious looks, but didn't stop.
“Because it’s the middle of winter, and it’s been snowing for two days,” Brendon said, unable to take his hands off Jon. This can’t be happening. This can’t be real.
“Does that mean I am human now?” Jon asked.
“Pretty sure,” Brendon said, “come on, you can’t stay out here like this, my place is close.”
He put an arm around Jon and directed him to the exit. They attracted looks all the way to Brendon’s apartment but he couldn't care less. Jon was here; naked and human and here.
When they got home, he steered Jon to the couch and got him towels and the extra blanket. He wrapped the towels around him first, one over his damp hair and shoulders and one around his feet and legs. Then he took the blanket and wrapped it all around Jon before kneeling in front of him.
“Jon,” he said, trying to catch Jon’s eyes, “why are you here?”
“I fell,” Jon said, “no, I- I walked out.”
“What?” Brendon said, “How could you do that?”
“I don't know,” Jon said, looking away from him, all around them, like he couldn't focus, “we talked, and I went back. I thought about what you said. I talked to Dallon and Gabriel and Michael, and they all told me the same thing; it was over, everyone’s moved on, but I didn't want to move on, I didn’t want you to move on without me, Brendon, is this love?”
“Jon,” Brendon said, his voice breaking, “you have to go back.”
“Brendon, I don't want to go back without you,” he said, finally looking straight at Brendon, “I don't want eternity without you.”
“Oh, Jon,” Brendon said.
“I understand now,” he said, starting to sound desperate, “I love you, I understand.”
“You’re an idiot,” Brendon said, but couldn't keep the fondness from his voice.
“So are you,” Jon said, finally smiling, a little bit of the shock leaving his eyes, “I guess we can be idiots together now.”
Brendon out right laughed. “I guess I can live with that.”