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With or Without You

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“Are you ready for you first day?” Jisung asks with a gentle smile on his face. Yoon Jisung was in charge of orientating the new angels, guiding them throughout their first days and generally just helping the clueless guardians on what their job really was about. Because of his kind eyes and warm smile, new angels found comfort in him and Guanlin, though still terrified, was not an exception.

“I - I don’t think I can do this.” Guanlin feels a lump form in his throat. When he died a few months ago, he imagined himself resting on a bed made of soft, fluffy clouds, eating his favorite meals every day, learning the secrets of the universe but never did he ever imagine that he was going to be assigned as someone's Guardian Angel.

“Of course you can! That’s why the Heavens chose you and not the other angels!” Jisung puts his hands on Guanlin’s shoulders as some sort of comfort. It works, but only a little because Guanlin can still feel his heart aching to burst out of his chest and his stomach wanting to let out everything inside of it.

“Why couldn't I just be in another department?” Guanlin slouches and pouts. “Daniel and Seongwu are both in the Miracle Department and they both say it's the best job in the world! Why can’t I be with them?” He whines.

Guanlin envies his two older friends who are most probably going around the world right now, looking for new miracles to do, new messes to fix. Since they were in the Miracle Department, they were in charge of granting tiny miracles to those who deserved it the most; They were small deeds of goodness like making a student pass a test, putting an extra chicken nugget in someone’s meal or even, making a stray dog find a new owner. Everybody in that department was happy and bright and had a heart of gold and Guanlin wished that he could be a part of that.

“Because this job was made for you.” Jisung nods and sends Guanlin his famous warm, almost motherly smile.

Guanlin looks down and coaxes himself to accept the fact that from now and forever, he was going to be someone’s Guardian Angel.

Jisung brings Guanlin to a university. The campus was enormous and hundreds of students littered the area. Guanlin feels his stomach twist and turn at the thought of his assignment once again and almost as if Jisung knew, he held Guanlin’s hand once more and rubbed circles on his palms.

“Now, all we have to do is wait for him.” Jisung’s voice rises and it makes Guanlin feel bad that he was so excited for him when Guanlin himself could barely even look at anything around him.

“It’s a boy?” Guanlin asks. A thousand questions and worries rush inside his head. What if the boy caused a lot of trouble? That would mean Guanlin would have to work extra. What if he was annoying? Guanlin was an angel and he was pretty sure that going against the Heaven’s rules would mean a few penalties.

“He’s about your age, actually. I think that’s why they chose him for you.” Jisung replies.

“Why do certain people need guardian angel’s again?” Guanlin asks sheepishly. He may be an angel but that doesn't mean he had to be perfect. Guanlin remembers falling asleep during the talk and he could barely remember what transpired during those 3 hours.

Jisung sighs and merely laughs at Guanlin’s quite honest question. “Because some people need extra care and caring comes best from an angel.”

“Well, why do I need to provide extra care for this guy? What’s wrong with him?” Guanlin aims to ask as much questions as he can before Jisung eventually leaves him to do his job by himself. Also, he was still slightly annoyed at the fact that he had to become a Guardian Angel from all the jobs available and he needed to know if there was possibly a good reason to remain in the Guardian Angel Department.

“He’s sick, Guanlin.” He feels his heart drop a little. Now, he understands why they assigned him to the boy.

Guardian Angels are assigned to people who go through difficult and dispiriting times in their lives. Every situation and case varies: such as kids who don't have families, people who wish to end their lives, people who go through great grief and in Guanlin's case, people who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Maybe that's why the Guardian Angel department has such an infamous reputation, because they undergo the most difficult job.

“So he's just like me, huh?” And Jisung just nods sadly. Guanlin had passed because of an illness. He had to endure frequent hospitals trips and spending most of his teenage life trapped in his own bedroom. He knows what's it’s like to be alive and not exactly live; He knows it almost too well since it's what kills him.

“Oh! There he is right now!” Guanlin is relieved that humans can't exactly hear angels because if they did, Jisung would be creating a scene right now. Jisung points to a boy who's back was turned against them. He was clad in an oversized grey hoodie, jeans and sneakers. He looked normal, average, that it would be hard to believe that he was about to gain a gift from the Heavens that day.

When he turns around to face a friend, Guanlin can finally make out the boy’s face a little. He looked younger than his actual age, which was 18. He had big eyes, long pretty lashes and an even prettier smile. Guanlin will admit that the boy was incredibly handsome, and that's saying something since Guanlin was ranked as one of the most beautiful angels by his colleagues.

(And yes, angels hold angel beauty contests.)

“What's his name again?” Guanlin scratches his head and Jisung face palms. He really should start taking more note from now on since only now is it sinking in that he will be looking after a human being.

“You really should start paying attention next time,” Jisung shakes his head disappointedly but he laughs right after which eases something inside Guanlin. “His name is Jihoon. Park Jihoon.”

Jihoon. He says it out loud once but repeats it inside his head over and over again. It rolled off his tongue naturally, like he was meant to say it. It was nice a name for an equally nice looking guy.

“Since it's your first day, you don't have to do much. You can just get used to your surroundings here on Earth and write a short report when you get back later.” Jisung reminds him. Guanlin, if it was even possible to feel anxious even as a angel, was certainly unsettled.

“Are - are you leaving already?” Guanlin fiddles with his fingers and looks up at Jisung who was looking at him with a worried expression. Jisung just softens at the question.

“It's your first day. You’ll be okay.” Jisung puts his thumbs up and Guanlin takes a deep breath just to allow everything to slowly sink in.

Before Jisung turns around to leave, he looks back at Guanlin who was standing too close to a tree in attempt to hide himself, as if humans don't already see him. “Why don't you recite the basic rules to me first before I leave.”

Guanlin digs inside his brain and hopes that he could recall at least one thing from that incredibly long talk. “One, don’t show yourself unless the Heavens allow it. Two, you are not allowed to get involved with other people except your person. Three, do not attempt to fix everything because it is not our job to fix lives. Lastly, do not get attached.” He recites them almost confidently. What he said was not exactly wrong, just non-verbatim.

“Well, you're not wrong.” Jisung shrugs and laughs once again at Guanlin’s inadequacy. “I think you're ready.”

“Maybe.” Guanlin nods. Jisung finally lets out his angel wings to leave. Now, he was alone to fend for himself and technically this stranger.