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Angels with Dirty Faces

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London, England-Outskirts-1880


He feels completely, utterly broken.

From head to ankles to blistered toes, inside and out, through and through. Cold (white) heat (fire) burning deep down to the marrow...soul ablaze. Trembling, bandaged hands that have never felt so old. Time is fast catching up. Mentally, physically, spiritually. In every sense of the word. Un-singing, non-melodic in the breakdown of every fibre that keeps the whole intact. Body numbed and senses the same. But not enough to halt his slow progress. More machine than man. For the time being. Setting a course for the Ending Place. Fatal showdown in the peak of his days as guardian to the boy. So much not a man, yet...non, correction, no time to be one.

"No one runs from Monsieur Death,
He catches up with you.
So with this parting kiss, I'll say
Adieu, adieu, adieu...."

It runs through a loop in his mind. Not being able to say the words, lips having been frozen shut in the hard-pressed grimace he's been wearing since the beginning of this journey. Doesn't really want to know what lies ahead, but wise enough to realise that it's not his choice...never has been his choice. Free will, destiny, the difference between the wide-awake angels and those who opt to sleep.

Never-ending oblivion.

What he'd give. An eye or an arm or his life. If just not to be a puppet on a string one...minute...more. And he cries, never pausing. But unlike the child's song, these he does not...cannot...will not hold inside. Spilling over, they become frozen crystalline tracks before reaching his mouth. Wind whips by and stings. Sensation is still feeling, he knows. However, the question is, For how long? and By how much? They always have been, it seems. And suddenly, a nudge in the back, a shake of the head, and a soft whinny from behind clears his senses. Realization seeps in like the melting snow through his leather breeches. And he knows he has been sitting all this time. Having loyal horse behind...staring at City Gates ahead.

Still unmoving...

...non-believer in fate and his part in it. This horrific morality tale. So he waits for time to pass, wanting the nightmare to leave. Knowing it will not. Putting aside self, he rises, takes firm hold of rein and extends his waning sensors. All but a dead man, hearing the low keening plea of the place he has been drawn back to.

"Adrien....Adrien....Dark one....Come....Waiting....For you....Adrien..."

If he was a weaker person, it would frighten him to the very depths of his soul. But he has seen too much and is too weary to really care. And if this last task should kill him, stop his beating heart for all of time, he would not protest. Just succumb and become nothing. Ether in the half-world. Standing tall once more, eyes burning with defiance, he raises crossed fists and glares towards the spirits.

"The Great Mother and Father protect me as I arrive at the crossroads. Carrefour tingindingue, mi haut, mi base." The last is yelled through his raw throat and in the native Cajun of his homeland.

He begins his journey again, not having far to go. Making sure things feel right. Making sure he can feel at all.