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CITY OF ANGELS

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CITY OF ANGELS

CHAPTER 1 - THE LONGEST NIGHT

CHAPTER 2 - STANGER TO THE SUN

CHAPTER 3 - CALLING

CHAPTER 4 - REDEMPTION

CHAPTER 5 - AWAKENING

CHAPTER 6 - THE LAST SERAPH

CHAPTER 7 - SHARE MY SINS (AND FALL)

. . .

CHATPER 1 - THE LONGEST NIGHT

. . .

Mikaela was not there when Heaven met Hell.

He has been told of the bloodshed, the horror, and death that ravaged both sides in those early days. An unspeakable, harrowing story that is as taboo to mention as the fall of the Morning Star.

The Angels never truly recovered from their losses. Even their divine strength could not outmatch the Demons in their sheer numbers. For every Demon slain, a Human soul is hauled from the depths of Hell, twisted, mutilated, warped and then reborn to the darkness. The years stretched into decades to centuries until millenniums passed swiftly by and the Angels retreated to safety of Heaven. A place those dark creatures could not follow. With such low numbers, they picked their battles more strategically, fighting when and only if, it was necessary to defend their standing territories on Earth.

Mikaela was born into this War.

Like so many others of his kind, Mikaela knew very little else than the cries sung in the sky and on the Battlefield, the weight of his sword by his side, and deaths of the ones he held most dear. The unbearable sense of emptiness that follows quickly taught Mikaela not to make new ones. Even with as rare as true loyalty in the Garrisons is to come by.

Angels are not born as commonly as the Demons. It is no trivial affair. There was a time when the Heavens were alive, filled with Angels, not warriors. Songs and music would dowse the air, flowing through their very beings. For in the centre of Heaven lies the Garden of Eden. A sacred place that so few have set their gaze upon. It’s a place of birth, virtue. The Tree of Light takes shelter in the Sanctuary of the Garden and when it blossoms, but one single light will fall.

And from that light new life takes form.

A young Angel begins as nothing more than a sphere of pure light. Innocent, vulnerable, and small enough to just fit inside the palm of one’s hand. From Heaven’s ranks, a solitary soul is selected by the Oracle to become the newborn’s Keeper. It is considered an honour to guard and protect a fledgling in their defenceless state until their awakening. A time when the Angel will take their true form, developing a body and wings.

Except there has not been a fledgling born in almost a thousand years.

Mikaela fell on a winter day of endless sunshine. He has been the last Angel, the youngest. It was no surprise that upon his awakening, his wings were as white as freshly-fallen snow and his hair a regal blond colour. Against many of the Generals’ reservations, he was raised by Ferid Bathory, an Angel from the Raphael’s Garrison. Mikaela later joined Selaphiel’s armies just to escape his cruel, borderline sadistic sense of humour. It’s been centuries and Mikaela has never known such relief since. He keeps their interactions to a minimal, but as a Commander of his own personal fraction, there are times that it becomes a compulsory evil. Ferid is a General in his own right. An awful one, but his tactics are effective when dealing with the enemy.

There are some that underestimate Mikaela’s strength from above and below, some like Ferid, who still see him as a child to be teased and tormented instead of feared as a merciless warrior of Heaven.

Death will come on swift wings to those Demons foolish enough to misjudge his brutality. After all, he was raised to be no less heartless.

Heaven’s War continued to rage. Mikaela fought endlessly. The weight of his sword become but a common sensation in his hand. He lost and lost and lost, comrade after comrade. And began to question why more Angels were not born, when the Demons so easily replenished their ranks.

Every day the question goes unanswered. Every battle Mikaela grows a little wearier. He is losing his faith in the Angels, in Heaven, in God. He knows how dangerous that can be, less he wishes to lose his wings and fall to the Earth, or further. The very though sends shivers down his spine, ruffling his pristine feathers. It’s said to be a fate worse than death. One Mikaela keenly wishes to avoid.

So Mikaela finds way to distract himself. He trains his soldiers, volunteers to fight with other Garrisons, and prays. There are times he spends hours asking their Father. He kneels before the entrance to the Garden of Eden for he is not permitted to go closer. The air still sings here. Humming through the air and wrapping around him like a blanket of comfort.

But the silver gates remain ever cold and solemn to his pleas, quiet and lifeless as the Tree of Light.

It is on an Autumn day that Krul Tepes finds him there. Head bowed before Heaven’s holiest ground and eyes shut in silent pray.

“What is Heaven’s pillar of War doing here?” She chuckles lightly, eyes softening at the sight. In Ferid’s often neglectful moments, she had stepped in and raised him as her own. Regretful that she was forced by their Laws to return him every time.

Mikaela huffs as he stands and straightens out his sleeves. His white uniform and cloak seem heavier on his shoulders since this morning.

None of your business.” He retorts sharply and turns to walk away.

“Always so cold, Mikaela. Surely something rests on your mind that you to seek this place for enlightenment.”

He stops midstride, cloak billowing forward with the motion. “And if there is?”

Krul smiles slightly. “Perhaps I can put your thoughts to ease.”

With a small sigh, Mikaela steals his pale features and turns to face the 1st General of Michael’s Armies. Thou she may not be a part of Selaphiel’s garrison, she is technically his superior. “Why are there no new Angels?”

Whatever Krul may have perceived to be troubling Heaven’s youngest Angel, the look on her pretty face tells Mikaela she was not even close. She blinks in surprise before her expression falls to sorrow. “Do you truly wish know, Mikaela?”

I do.”

Krul tries not to look resigned. She swirls on her heels, wings stretching out. The tips of the largest feathers reaching for the sky before she relaxes, drawing them back towards her body. Mikaela watches as she places her palm to the gate and a delicate radiates off her skin. A resounding CLINK follows and the young Angel struggle to inhale as the divine power of Heaven floods the air. He stares in a trance, unable to move under the weight of the sight before him.

“Follow me.” Krul commands, voice neutral.

Mikaela nods dazedly, his limbs feel heavier as he begins to walk. If he knew it would be this easy to enter the Garden of Eden, he would have voiced his fear centuries ago.

Each step crunches the leaves under his boots. A faint breeze ruffles his blond hair, catching across his uniform and settling a pleasant coolness across his skin. The woodland breathes with life, light streams through the trees and the calls of bird echo through the air. Mikaela glances to Krul. There’s a contentness etched onto her features, that must be mirrored on his own. It’s just so peaceful here, so calming.

“What do you see?”

Krul’s voice jolts him back to awareness.

“Huh?”

She shakes her head and sighs. “What do you see around you, Mikaela? Everyone perceives the Garden differently.”

“Wait, you don’t see a woodland?” Mikaela takes another look at his surrounding, brow knitting together in confusion.

Krul hums lightly before responding.

“Interesting. I see Mountains.”

“That is-“

“-where I find myself most at peace.” Krul finishes coolly. The words ‘speak of this and I’ll have your wings clipped’ hidden in her tone, do not go unnoticed by the young Angel.

Mikaela looks away, focusing on keeping his strides equal and exactly two steps behind Krul.

“We’re nearly there.”

“What?” He hums.

“The Temple of Light.”

Mikaela stops and stares disbelieving at Krul as she continues forward. A few seconds pass before she realises the blond Angel has turned motionless behind her, eyes forlornly downcast.

“Mikaela?” She asks gently.

“I’m- I can’t- I’m not worthy.” He replies bitterly.

There’s a beat. A pause. Then Mikaela flinches back as a hand cups his cheek. He did not register Krul’s approach.

“I am a 1st General, with my blessing you enter.” She states firmly and then beckons. “Come. We are almost there.”

Mikaela nods and steels his features. He would not appear weak before the Light.

The Temple comes into view moments later. Simple in its magnificence.

Mikaela gasps at sight before his azure eyes. The high Arch entrance is cast from the darkest of marbles, cleanly cut and elegant in every way. Their boots echo on the smooth floor of the corridor, the sound rings like bells in his ears. Mikaela loses himself to the noise. It’s almost hypnotic. Until they near a pair of high doors that reach to the ceiling, cast from white gold and a dark marble that puts the colour of the midnight sky to shame.

The rich stone extends to the walls and floors. Strands of silver runs through, delicately carved into the stone that flashes when passing bronze basins hung from chains, full of undying flames. At a glance, they could be mistaken for lightning.

Mikaela’s eyes glaze over. The purest of power exists here, weaving through his bones and filling in his lungs. He follows Krul in a trance, mind reeling. Perhaps he is too young to enter this place, to endure the burden of the birthplace of his kind. Then again, he had been here once before. Of course he was but a fledgling, memories of that time do not follow an Angel through its awakening. Mikaela is sure nothing in Heaven could compare to this room.

Krul stops suddenly in front of him and Mikaela is forced to follow her lead, abruptly aware of his more intimate surroundings. High doors creep open and the Michael’s General beckons him inside. He steps carefully, ensuring his thigh-high boots are as silent as possible against the marble floor.

A deep pool encases the base of the Tree before the two Angels, its roots entwine across the shimmering waters. Mikaela has never felt so small in all his existence. His legs move without his permission. The Tree sings, calling him closer. A tug on his shoulder causes him to blink in surprise. He looks over to find Krul’s hand tightly gripping his cloak.

“Don’t lose yourself in its influence, Mikaela.” Krul warns.

Drawing in a steadying breath, he nods and takes a few steps back.

Satisfied Krul continues speaking. “One drop of these waters can heal any wound and purge any demon.”

Mikaela looks back to the Tree, azure eyes assessing its form now its control on him has shifted. Slowly he tracks the winding branches, gaze narrowing at the sight. Some are donned in the purest tendrils of light but others are nothing more than blackened, scorched and rotting bark.

“The Tree, it’s. . . it’s dying.” Mikaela whispers in horror. His voice is breathless against his lips and eyes widening in disbelief.

“Before the War,” Krul begins, “the Seraphim were the protectors of the Tree. The Gardeners of Eden, if you will. Their light gave life and they were able to keep the Tree from ever wilting.”

Mikaela frowns.

A Seraph. . . ? He had never heard of such a being, let along in the ranks of Heaven.

“I’ve never met a Seraph before.” He queries.

“And you never will.” Krul replies sadly.

Mikaela turns away from the 1st General to the beautiful carvings on the walls. The unspoken stings his lips. What happened to them?

Krul’s eyes glaze over with a strange distance. “In those first days when our kind clashed with the Demons, Lucifer took advantage of our confusion. The Seraphim rushed benevolently to defend us. Thou their strength is beyond your understanding, with the Morning Star at their side, the Demons caught them unaware. . . It was a slaughter.”

With palling cheeks, Mikaela shakes his head. “That’s. . . No. . .”

“We lost all of them that fateless day.” Krul whispers softly. “And now the Tree suffers in their absence.”

“I don’t understand. How. . . How was I born into this War? The others as well?”

“There was a short time after when the Tree continued to bloom. Many Angels were born and we were so thankful. We thought perhaps we did not need the Seraphim.” Krul chuckles darkly and mutters to herself. “How foolish we were.”

Mikaela scowls at the remark.

“But slowly the time between new Angels begun to be greater and greater until finally you were born, Mikaela, and the Tree hasn’t bloomed since. No one blames you.” She assures gently. “We have tried everything to keep it alive but all our attempts have been in futility. The High Council is at a loss.”

He waits beneath replying. Allowing the information to roll over his mind again and again. Perhaps he waits to long as he finds Krul staring into his eyes and raising a hand to cup his cheek. “We are truly forsaken.”

“Yes, little one, it would appear so.”

Anger boils in Mikaela’s chest and holds back the snarl on his lips. “Why would you show me this?”

The 1st General of Michael frowns and walks away from the Angel. “Would you rather I have lied? Conversed you into having such blind faith in our losing battle.”

“I don’t know. . .”

Krul runs her hand gently over the far marble wall, fingertips catching in beautiful carvings. “Mikaela?”

“Yes.”

“You are not to tell anyone of what you have been witness to here.” The higher Angel’s voice turns cold and firm.

Mikaela flexes his hand to a fist, places it over his heart and bows ever so slightly. “Of course, General Tepes.”

She nods in approval and silently shows him out.

The woodland passes by in a blur. The youngest Angel of Heaven is drowning too deeply in his own thoughts to pay its beauty any heed. Their race is slowly fading, Angel by Angel lost on the Battlefield. He tightly curls his fingers, nails digging into his palms. There truly is no point. The High Council should give up the Earth, barricade themselves in Heaven, and allow the Garrisons to leave out the rest of their existence in peace. No war, no fighting, no heartache.

Krul bids him goodbye with a brush of her hand against his cheek.

Mikaela walks back to his apartment in a daze. He drops bonelessly onto his bed and curls up on his side. Drawing his wings closer to his body until his soft feathers encase him in a fortress of white, Mikaela sighs unsteadily. The silence of the night settles over his mind. A gentle illusion of serenity lulls him into an uneasy sleep, shallow and brief as the promise may be. Mikaela allows himself to fall for the lie. His heavy eyes fall shut and although Angels do not require sleep, he finds himself never needing it more.

The Seraphs are gone. Heaven is dying. Mikaela whimpers at the thought, his brow knitting together. There is nothing he can do, nothing that can be done. They have been forsaken. Without the Light there can be no more Angels.

Mikaela wonders if since his birth, they have been trapped in the longest night.

. . .

. .

Chapter Text

CITY OF ANGELS

CHAPTER 1 - THE LONGEST NIGHT

CHAPTER 2 - STANGER TO THE SUN

CHAPTER 3 - CALLING

CHAPTER 4 - REDEMPTION

CHAPTER 5 - AWAKENING

CHAPTER 6 - THE LAST SERAPH

CHAPTER 7 - SHARE MY SINS (AND FALL)

. . .

CHAPTER 2- STRANGER TO THE SUN

. . .

FOUR MONTHS LATER

September rain falls the most exquisitely. Crisp and pure in its descent from Earth’s endless sky.

Mikaela allows its touch the embrace him, running through his hair before dripping sorrowfully to the ground. The chill seeps down his uniform and cloak, causing the material to weigh down heavily as it sticks to his skin. He supposes Humans would consider this experience unpleasant, but the sensation of water droplets racing between his delicate, sensitive feathers sends shivers of pleasure down his spine.

The freshness carried by the rain is a pleasing change to Earth’s usually stench. Mikaela stands atop St. Mark’s Basilica, caught in the roar of thunder and the silence of lightning. The Human land known as Venice was among was their diminishing territories. A strange place of stone mazes and canals surrounded by water that made the city within an impregnable fortress against the Demons. Still, it didn’t hurt to have guards stationed to prevent such an outcome. Mikaela sighs heavily.

The Demons have ruined this world and the Angels have let them.

What few and fair territories that are still governed by Mikaela’s kind remain untouched to their darkness.

Mikaela steadied his legs as the wind rushed past, tugging at his cloak. The rain follows its call and the young Angel frowns. Is there any point to the fighting? Perhaps they should abandon Earth to the Humans and Demons, seeking eternal sanctuary in Heaven by closing the gates forever. But he knows that will never be. The Angels will not give up the Earth. It was theirs to begin with and in Garrisons’ eyes, it will be theirs to let burn. And how could Mikaela? When this imperfect place feels real in a way Heaven never has.

The sound of boots on clay tiles pulls Mikaela from his thoughts. He turns to find Lacus kneeling before him, wings laden and panting heavily.

“Sir, I am here to take over your post.” Each word falls a little breathless on Lacus’ tongue.

Mikaela frowns, his feathers twitching. “There must be some mistake, I’ve only been here two moons. I agreed to see seven through.”

Lacus nods. “Of course, Sir. There is no mistake, General Tepes urgently requires your presence.”

Mikaela’s frown deepens. “Krul? How strange. Anything else?”

“No, Sir.”

Pulling the hood of his cloak up to shroud his face, Mikaela allows his wings to unfurl and stretch out. “Take care, Lacus. I’ll see you soon.”

With a beat of his powerful limbs, the young Angel takes off into the storm. The rain battles him now, no longer a comfort, but an enemy attempting to cut him down. Raising his hand to the sky, Mikaela chants in Enochian to open the gate. The spell takes hold. Tendrils of green light twirl around his glove, growing brighter and brighter, until his vision is consumed.

Mikaela blinks.

Heaven’s pristine grounds, forests, and buildings gradually come into focus. The thorn in his mind makes itself known at the forged sense of peacefulness. He sighs and starts to walk. After a few brief steps, it occurs to Mikaela that he has no idea where to find Krul. He curses Lacus, damn that Angel, of course he would ‘forget’ to mention the meeting place. Mikaela’s fair features twist in anger. He flexes his hands to fists and storms off towards the City’s Council chambers. If Krul called him from sentinel duty, then it has to be an important matter.

His strides grow quicker and wings twitch with anxiety.

There’s no other reason. There has to be an imminent attack. Perhaps all Generals are being gathered? If so, the Demons must be planning something sinful.

“Commander Mikaela!”

Spinning around, he sees Yoichi running towards him.

The Angel is a member of his squad. His smaller frame and wings have caused many to tease and ridicule the poor boy. Tossing insults, humiliating him at any and every possibility. Mikaela had taken the Angel under his wing both figuratively and literally, jumping through loops to get Krul to convince Crowley to assign Yoichi to his regiment.

With heavy breaths, Yoichi stops short, leaving a respectful distance between himself and his Commanding Officer before saluting.

“At ease.” Mikaela commands.

“Sir.” Yoichi relaxes his posture slightly before continuing. “Crowley- General Crowley came personally to our barracks looking for you, Commander. He sent us all out to find you when you did not- did not show.”

Stopping to catch breath, Yoichi settles a hand over his hammering heart. His wings draw up and down with the motion of his heaving chest.

Mikaela tries to control the twitch in his eyebrow. “Get to the point, Soldier.”

“R- Right, yes Sir! Krul has summoned you to the Garden of Eden.”

Mikaela stares blankly at the smaller Angel for an eternal second. What. . ? No, never mind. If it’s about the Garden then this is a more dire matter that he first had assumed. Passing Yoichi’s breathless form, Mikaela almost runs through the white City.

His steps slow to a halt as the Gates come into view. Krul is waiting there, arms folded and face empty of expression. Mikaela knows he is in for something far worse than trouble.

Where have you been?” She scolds.

“I ask forgiveness, General Tepes. I was delayed.” Mikaela tilts his head forward in silent regret.

Krul huffs furiously and turns to face the Gates. “This is not the day to idly waste time.”

Mikaela dips his head lower.

“I have no patience right now to fester my anger with you, Mikaela. Follow me quickly.” She calls back, inviting the other Angel to follow her lead.

The Garden seems restless. A strong wind blows through the trees, scattering leaves and branches, nearly knocking Mikaela off-balance with the sheerness of its rage. There is no gentle sunlight streaming down to the woodland floor, only white, greying clouds hovering above.

“General, what is going on?!” Mikaela yells over the voice of the wind.

Krul shakes her head, fleetingly glancing back. “I’m afraid the explanation will have to wait until you stand before the High Council!”

“The High Council?! Not the Council?” The blond utters in shock. “Krul, I have done nothing wrong! I-“

“-I know, Mikaela!” Krul shouts. “You are not in trouble, but time is of the essence! Please trust me!”

He falls silent, mind alight with uncertainty. Had the Demons somehow managed to enter Heaven? Had those vile creatures attacked the Garden?

The Temple is just as glorious as Mikaela remembers in their approach, but something feels off. The air, the building hums with a warm aura he cannot place.

“This way, Mikaela.” Krul orders.

She stops abruptly and turns to face the entrance to the High Council chambers. With her hands reaching for his neck, Mikaela tenses as she flattens out his uniform and brushes down his ruffled feathers. “Remember, speak only when spoken to. Don’t argue, stand straight, don’t make eye contact. All members of the High council are seated today.”

“A-All. . .?” Mikaela stutters in dazed terror.

“The Cherubim and Thrones are in there. So be careful, Mikaela, because they will not accept disobedience.” Krul warns.

The high doors begin to creep open.

“W-wait!” He begs.

Mikaela did not miss the small smirk on Krul’s lips as she pushes him inside.

. . .

The doors close behind him with a BANG.

Mikaela flinches, his feathers once again standing on ends. He steps shakily forward, one after the other until he stands in the center of the hall, azure eyes downcast in respect less the powers that be decide to smite him down. Tremors run through his bones, ice slides down his throat.

“Commander Mikaela. Are you aware the reason you have been summoned here today?”

The young Angel answers but does not move. “No, Sir.”

A disgruntled chuckle sounds from the left and Mikaela pushes down the instinct to look over.

“This is the Angel the Oracle named?” Another asks.

“He’s but a child!” One roars, this time from his right. “Pathetic.”

“Silence, Ketace! You speak out of place. The Prophecy is absolute.”

Tshh, but the youngest Angel of Heaven? What is he thinking?”

“You fool, have you already forgotten the last time we assigned a different Keeper to the one the Oracle named? Or have you so quickly forgotten the Morning Star? And now this.”

Voices explode in argument around him. The Thrones continue to bicker and the Cherubim watch on with clear disinterest.

Mikaela feels his wings twitch in frustration. Just what. . . what is going on?

“You are all wasting precious time, the Tree flowers as we speak!”

“W-what?” Mikaela gasps instinctively under his breath. Mind reeling at the Throne’s words.

All eyes land on the startled Angel, who jumps out of his skin before bowing lowly. A long silence falls before one of the High Council finally decides to explain.

“You child, have been chosen as the last Keeper.”

Mikaela’s wings still and his blood runs cold. Keeper? But there are only Keepers if there are adolescent Angels and there haven’t been any since himself. Krul had told him herself about the Tree. So how can- His train of thought is cut short and eyes widen in shock.

“Do you accept?”

Accept. . ?” He echoes in disbelief.

“Yes, impudent boy! The Oracle named you as Heaven’s next Keeper, what do you say Commander? Will you be accepting? Or perhaps you would like someone else to take this burden from you?”

Mikaela places his right hand over his heart and knelt on the ground. “Of course, I will.” He replies humbly, “for there could be no greater honour.”

. . .

Krul glides quickly through the Temple, leading Mikaela along the path he recognises keenly. His mind remained stuck somewhere between frightened and exhilarated.

He is to be a Keeper.

The thought washes over him, again and again as he lets the truth sink into his being. Only faltering when Krul stops and stands to the side.

“You’re not coming in as well?” Mikaela asks, the unspoken plea for her to follow carrying in his words.

“Little one,” Krul laughs in amusement, “I am not allowed until the fledgling has imprinted on you.”

The blond’s azure eyes widen with fear.

“Do not worry so much, Mikaela. The Oracle chose you and only you for a reason.” Krul smiles. “Because there is no one else this fledgling desires. Go on. . . he’s waiting for you.”

She does not have to give him an encouraging push this time. Mikaela steps inside the Hall on his own volition. Leaving the doors to shut swiftly behind him, the blond waits alone.

The bronze basins are dimly lit around the walls, reflecting cat-like on the carved walls. Mikaela’s gaze travels along the Hall to rest on the Tree.

Light curls over and over, gliding along the great branches, shifting, dancing. The sight is as hypnotic as Mikaela remembers, his eyes grow heavy and his body begins to move forward on its own accord. Each step feels numb to his mind. He can hear a soft lullaby in his head, causing his body a sway a little. The Tree shimmers with power, soaking into the air and growing denser around one of the branches. Layer upon layer of light, wraps together to form a perfect sphere. Seamless and smooth and no bigger than his head. He watches through dazed eyes as the Light drains from the Tree into the sphere, bark turning black and lifeless.

He should care, he really should, but he cannot bring himself to such a state.

Stopping by the edge of the pool, Mikaela frowns at the water. Once alight like thousands of tiny diamonds, now dull and murky. So he looks back up instead. The dead wood seems so belittling to the image of its once majesty. A dreadful, hallowing, sadness fills his chest as the light all but disappears from the Tree.

His wings unfurl on instinct, spanning outwards in keenness. There’s little more than a breath that passes his pale lips as the sphere fell away. Finally strong enough to survive on his own.

Mikaela blinks.

Rushing forward with one beat of his wings, he meets the fledgling in the air. His skin tingles with power as he lowers himself gently to the ground. Tendrils of light reach out from the sphere and Mikaela’s brow furrows. They wrap around his wrists all the way to his elbows unable to go further.

“He seems to like you.”

Mikaela flinches at Krul’s proud voice, all too preoccupied with his new charge to notice her enter.

“G-General Tepes.”

“I told the Thrones that the Oracle is never wrong, but those close-minded fools wouldn’t believe me.” She growls.

“I don’t understand.”

Krul sighs and rubs the bridge of her noise. “A fledgling can reject a Keeper. It is not out of the realm of possibility, we must ensure we choose the most compatible Angel for the position.”

“So that’s why.” He hums, eyes watching as the Angel in his hand unwinds and rewinds its tendrils, curious of its Keeper.

“If the Thrones had their way, they would have chosen a 1st General or Archangel. I myself was offered the job on their hasty whims.”

The fledgling sharply tightens its hold and Mikaela tries not to wince. It’s not like the little one can fully understand its actions just yet.

Mikaela scowls slightly. The High Council may have put it rather crudely but they were not wrong. He is inexperienced, strong but his power could not rival a General or Archangel, and as Heaven’s youngest, neither has he even seen a fledgling before. Let alone understand how to handle one, to care for one.

“Why. . .” He hesitates. “Why would the Oracle pick me?”

“Who knows, Mikaela? But the Thrones would have someone more powerful to be this fledgling’s guardian. So don’t be surprised if they try to make your job difficult, they want you to surrender the task to someone else.” She warns knowingly.

He quirks an eyebrow. “Is there something else you’re not telling me, Krul?”

“Maybe.” The General winks. “But for now, your hands are quite full.”

Mikaela glares at her before he feels the brush on something soft against his cheek. He looks back down to see a tendril of light reaching for his face this time. A small chuckle escapes past his lips. How cute.

“Does the little one understand?”

“Perhaps.” Krul ponders. “None of us retain our memories from our time as fledglings, just impression. You know that.” She twirls on the spot and begins to walk over. “Oh, yes and it’s your job to name him as well.”

Mikaela glances back at Krul before returning his attention to the fledgling. “Doesn’t the Oracle usually do that?”

“Yes, but she didn’t give a name this time. So, as his Keeper, it’s up to you.”

“Nameless?” He sulks. “That’s just perfect.”

Krul holds a blank expression before bursting out in laughter, gripping her sides as she leans slightly forward. “You take things so seriously, Mikaela. Of course, the Oracle has given Heaven’s newest Angel a name.”

Mikaela looks at her pointedly.

“It’s Yūichirō.”

“How unusual.” He hums.

“It is, isn’t it? A Human name? Whatever is that woman thinking.”

Both Angels spin round in shock and Mikaela draws the infant closer to his chest.

Leaning against the wooden door is Raphael’s 1st General, his silver hair neatly tied back behind his head.

“Ferid! You shouldn’t speak so disrespectfully.” Krul snarls, muscles tensing and wings rising to the perceived threat.

“Oh, really?” He smirks back as if amused by her words. “And what is Michael’s favourite dog going to do about it?”

Krul turns so her side faces the other General, hand brushing on the hilt of her sword. “What are you doing here, Ferid?”

Why, Miss Tepes, I’ve come to see my fledgling.”

Mikaela rears back in disbelief, moving closer to the shelter of the silent Tree.

“The High Council overruled yours and Ketace’s claim.” Krul sneers. “You have no right to him. Mikaela is his true Keeper.”

“And whose wings did you have to stroke to see that through?”

“Shut your mouth!”

“My dear, you shouldn’t have wasted your energy. I’ve won anyway. Mikaela is my fledgling, by reason, this newborn is under my care as well.”

 “I don’t answer to you anymore, Ferid.” Mikaela snarls. “I’m no longer part of Raphael’s Garrison.”

“Mika-kun, when did you become so mean~” The silver haired Angel sings. “You were always such a sweet little thing, following me around like an obedient child when you awakened. And then you up and left, running away to Crowley and joining Selaphiel’s Garrison. What happened?”

“You out-lived your usefulness to me.” He growls back, shifting defensively so the fledgling is out of Ferid’s view.

So cold~ Your words match your eyes, Mikaela. Beautiful.” Ferid croons, stepping closer but frowning darkly as the young Angel matches his strides as he moves backwards.

“Mikaela, I order you to let me see him.” He commands, advancing on them.

The fledgling tightens his hold sensing its Keeper fear. Mikaela winces and tries to calm himself. If Ferid tries anything, anything at all, that leads to Yūichirō coming to harm, the Council will have no choice but to strip the 1st General of his title and wings. Such an action would be seen as unforgivable in the Garrisons’ eyes. So what is he trying to achieve here?

Suddenly Krul is between him and Ferid, sword raised high. “Do you hope the fledgling will imprint on you as well, hmm? You’re so pathetic.”

“What accusations, General Tepes.” The silver-haired Angel sneers.

“Then step back,” Krul warns, “or I will alert the Cherubim of your misjudgement.”

Ferid’s eyes flash dangerously but the threat seems to sink in. He sighs irritably, placing his hand on his forehead. “Oh well, I guess it cannot be helped. But I will remind you, Krul, that a fledgling is a gift to all of Heaven. You will not be able to keep him from me forever, my dear.” He promises with a wink.

He watches blankly as Ferid twirls around and leaves without another word. His half-cape fluttering with abrupt movement.

With wide eyes, Mikaela glances over at Krul’s trembling form. It’s not fear that shakes her soul so, it’s anger. Pure, untamable fury.

“I don’t- I can’t stand him. Why was I given to Ferid?” Mikaela asks quietly. Biting his lip in knowing those word’s he uttered are taboo. No one should question the Oracle.

Krul takes a steadying breath before turning to face Selaphiel’s top Commander.

“I don’t know, Mika. If I could of taken you, I would have, but I wasn’t wise to the Thrones’ meddling back then. I didn’t see them for what they were.” Michael’s 1st General flexes her fists and whispers, “Liars.”

Mikaela frowns, wings drooping. “Krul. . .”

There is nothing he could do to comfort the older Angel. She has become the closest thing he could have as a surrogate Keeper. “Was I even meant for . . .”

She shakes her head feverishly. “Don’t say anything.”

Mikaela’s brow furrows as realisation dawns on him. What the Cherubim said earlier, the reason he was so easily allowed to switch Garrisons when the notion was unheard of before his request.

“Krul, was I forced to imprint on the wrong Keeper?!” He does not mean to raise his voice, but he cannot stop it either. Feathers ruffling and wings twitching fretfully.

“Mika don’t say it!” She yells, wings shaking with her body. “Not here, not now. I never intended for you to find out like this. Today is meant to be joyous, a celebration.” The plea in her voice is faint, weak like she had lost the will to fight this injustice, both of them stripped of the bond they should have shared.

Instead Mikaela is eternally bound to Ferid. His mind and soul shaped by the silver-haired Angel’s words and actions in a time he can barely remember.

The blond looks away, turning his attention to Yūichirō. He coos at the newborn, gently unraveling his fingers from its tight grip to stroke its body. The tendril’s twist and trill but it takes Mikaela a moment of hesitation to realise the fledgling is enjoying the action.

It’s not over. He will confront Krul about this, but she is right, this is not the place. So, Mikaela hums and tries a more passive approach.

“The Tree has died, why would we celebrate our sealed demise?”

Krul’s lips press in a thin line. “The Garrisons are not aware of that.”

Mikaela sighs at the broken fairy-tale of their existence and begins to walk. What a way to be born. The weight that was once on his shoulders will now rest on Yūichirō.

“The High Council wish for you to return to your residence and remain there.” Krul calls out to him as he reaches the entrance. “You will be summoned later tonight for the festivities.”

Mikaela nods but does not look back. He heads straight for the Garden, keeping Yūichirō huddled protectively to his chest. The storm continues to rattle the woodland he sees to its foundations. He hauls his wings forward to cover the front of his body and, more importantly, his charge.

Grinding his teeth in frustration, Mikaela battles his way to the Gates. Once they close behind him, everything falls silent. Suddenly Heaven’s tranquillity settles over his surroundings.

There’s no wind, no rain.

Just stagnant world of blue skies and light and- Mikaela’s eyes widen, his thoughts cut short. Yūichirō is a stranger to the Heaven’s sun. He has known only the darkness of the dying Tree, the fighting that so often breaks out among their kind in this endless War, and the cloudy, hidden skies of the Garden.

With a small smile, Mikaela lifts his wings back and chuckles in amusement as Yūichirō seems to flare a little brighter, tendril disappearing back into his sphere form.

“Welcome home, little one.”

. . .

. .