Arisa remembers the day she was assigned to her current charge very well.
It had taken an agonizingly long time before she’d even been qualified for consideration to be certified in the first place. Nevermind what felt like the eons of training and testing. Once she’d proven herself - once she’d finally actually proven herself - she’d been given her first charge. Every guardian angel’s dream.
A young girl had been born and she was to be in charge of said child’s wellbeing. It was… really that - a dream come true.
Her wings had fluttered with naive excitement. Her heart had beat with unrestrained joy. Her eyes glittered with unbridled passion.
Arisa watched over her charge with so much love and adoration. Carefully, she guided them along and guarded them from bad luck and poor decisions. Very quickly, she jumped up in esteem amongst her peers.
That first had been taken from her, much too soon.
Her first charge had been murdered in their sleep, and Arisa hadn’t been able to do a thing about it. Or, at least that’s what the other angels told her. Those sorts of things were out of their control, especially considering they were not allowed to directly communicate nor interfere with their charges.
It was very hard.
Her peers comforted her; it happened. Every angel had to be prepared for their charge to pass on, eventually, returned to the flow of reincarnation. She would likely be given a different charge before her first was properly born again. She grew cold.
She kept a solid distance with her next charge. Though, she couldn’t help but admire their warmth and determination. They were able to grow to a respectable age, and passed normally. Arisa called her first failure as a guardian a fluke, as she’d helped her second charge through an entire lifetime.
Perhaps it was okay to be closer this time…?
Her third charge met a similar demise to her first charge, though in the form of a violent car accident. This time, however, an angel’s wings were stripped; the ultimate punishment. One of the other guardian angels had been neglectful of their own “child”, resulting in Arisa’s to have their life snuffed short.
From that point on, she firmly decided she would never get attached to another one of her humans again. She understood the concept of them growing old and dying of natural causes; everyone returned, eventually, to the flow of energy that made up the universe. Yet… having them taken so early? Due to things she wasn’t capable of stopping? It was too painful…
She carried on this way for a long time, never getting directly involved with her chosen. Making sure that she guided them from a comfortable distance, but never handling them with much concern or love. As long as they didn’t die in a tragedy, she didn’t care anymore.
At least, that’s what she thought. That’s how she tried to be…
Arisa had finally been in the process of receiving a new charge.
“You’ve been doing really well, Arisa,” her higher up, a blonde angel named Chisato, praised. “Your charges have been living relatively healthy, long lives. I’m proud of your progress; the first few are always rough.”
“Thank you,” she answered, simply, flexing her hand to keep it from balling into a clenched fist. “Is the next one decided?”
“Ahaha,” Chisato laughed. “Always so eager to move on to the next project, aren’t you?”
“I’d rather not waste time.”
She looked down at the profile. Another girl, huh? Her eyes swept over the parchment quickly. Just another human female; those were often very difficult to keep alive, she found.
“Understood. Thank you.” She bowed, dismissing herself.
Chisato gave her a concerned stare. “Maybe you should be a little more… involved with this one?”
Arisa narrowed her eyes. She roughly swallowed a snippy reply before simply bowing her head and turning to exit.
She glanced at the parchment once more; it would change every time her charge’s information was updated.
Arisa couldn’t help but soften at that. As much as she wanted to exist entirely apart from her chosen… it was always difficult. She knew it was for the better that she did, just from previous experience. And yet…
She sighed. “Time to head to Earth, huh?”
Arisa should have known from the start that having Imai Lisa as her chosen would be one of the most difficult things she’d ever go through.
The second she saw those olive green eyes, she knew she was done for. As much as Arisa hated getting involved on the human’s realm, there was no choice with this one. Something about Lisa told her that she needed to be around.
She introduced herself, in her disguised human form, to Lisa’s parents as a caregiver. She was a “nanny” of sorts and was able to take care of the small girl whenever her parents were away. Which was… often.
“Why have a child if you cannot be around to look after it…” she mused to herself, watching as a toddler-sized Lisa pitter pattered around their childproofed home. “Humans really are stupid, aren’t they, Lisa?”
Lisa turned around to look at her, eyes wide and open. She babbled and giggled, plopping onto her rear before crawling over to her toys. Arisa snorted. “Not very graceful, huh?”
The early years always flew by in a blink; Arisa knew this. Humans had such short lives, comparatively. Once you were chosen from the neverending torrent of life energy, plucked from its current, and brought to Heaven as an Angel, you were… around a while.
Before she knew it, Lisa was getting older. And Arisa couldn’t be around anymore. Couldn’t bear to be around anymore. Once Lisa could begin to speak and ask questions. And she asked so many of them.
So, thus, began Arisa’s return to her version of normal. Watch the human from afar, make sure nothing too bad happened, don’t get attached.
She was glad when the girl, Yukina, moved next door. It gave Lisa some form of companionship. Someone she could call a friend. Arisa frowned as she thought that she’d never had something like that. At least, not in this lifetime.
“Hey, Yukina?” Lisa asked, once the girls were around ten. “Do you ever feel like you aren’t alone?”
Arisa flinched, looking in on the two of them.
“Huh?” Yukina looked about them. “What are you talking about?”
“You know… I always feel like I’m being watched or that there’s some sort of… presence or something around me.”
Yukina gave her a skeptical glance. “You’re just being silly, Lisa.”
Lisa remained unconvinced, and somewhat frustrated. “No, I’m not! I promise!”
Arisa didn’t know whether or not she should withdraw from Lisa even more than she already had. But she couldn’t. Something about Lisa’s sad smiles and bright, inquisitive eyes kept Arisa in place. And she was afraid.
Before she knew it, Lisa was in her teen years.
Before she knew it, Lisa was struggling with her self worth.
Makeup, skimpy outfits, piercings, hair dye, a need for validation. Arisa sighed, knowing that this was common with her female charges. Some of them put themselves into dangerous situations and, sometimes, dangerous mindsets.
“Maybe I should get more involved…” she hummed to herself, watching Lisa wipe off her messed up eyeliner for the third time that morning. Lisa hadn’t been sleeping well lately, but still insisted on waking up hours before school started to make sure her makeup was picture perfect.
That would go against Arisa’s self-imposed rules, however, so she figured she wouldn’t. Until Lisa began harming herself, her thighs becoming a canvas for her internalized pain. Arisa heart clenched with misery as she watched her charge dragging razor blades across the soft, delicate flesh.
“I have to do something.”
She wasn’t going to lose another charge this way. Never again. She would save this one. She swore it.
“Hey,” Arisa whispered to Lisa, the two of them in a library, Arisa’s human form shifting awkwardly. “Do you mind sharing that book? It’s the last one and I really need this project done.”
“Oh!” Lisa blinked at her, eyelashes long and pretty. “Of course!”
She handed over the book with a warm, bright smile and Arisa felt something strange come over her. “My name is Arisa. You?”
“My name is Lisa! It’s nice to meet you!”
Lisa’s outstretched hand was soft, the very beginnings of callouses from her bass days still there, as Arisa took it in her own. It was strange… Arisa hadn’t realized it’d been centuries since she’d felt the touch of another…
The two of them got to talking; Lisa chittering about her interests in clothes and dancing - things Arisa already knew. Though… she couldn’t help but find it amusing that she kept her knitting hobbies a secret. Arisa supplied enough about herself to make it seem like she was another average human being, going off of careers or interests her previous chosens held, since she was knowledgeable enough in those.
And, with that, when she was charged with protecting Lisa… everything changed.
Arisa needed to keep an eye on her, after all. And she did just that.
She’s the only one that matters…!
The two of them would spend much time together, in the time that followed. Arisa “transferred” to Lisa’s school, even in the same class as her. “ Wow, how lucky!” Lisa had cheered.
They grew close, fast. Arisa was never the best cook, but Lisa was; often, she found herself being gifted with rich, buttery cookies. Not that she needed to “eat” per se… but still, she enjoyed them. Arisa was there when Lisa confessed to Yukina and was rejected. She was there when she applied for colleges and passed. She was there.
It was hard to ignore the soft, admiring glances Lisa sent her way. The way those accursed olive-green eyes lingered on her lips, just a moment longer than Arisa thought she should. The way Lisa looked at her, as if she knew . As if she knew something more .
“You know,” Lisa murmured, softly, as the two of them spent an afternoon in her room. The two of them laid, side by side, on Lisa’s bed, conversing with languid, hush voices. Lisa was grown, now, and Arisa couldn’t help but appreciate her beauty for just a moment. “I… I’m glad I met you.”
“Yeah,” Lisa admitted. “I was in a pretty bad place when we met, you know.”
“That was such a long time ago…” Arisa said, fondly. Though, she’d met Lisa even longer than what the other girl knew.
“Yeah…” Lisa hummed. “I… I really feel like you were put in my life for a reason, you know? As if you were sent to help me…”
You haven’t got the first clue, love…
“Is that weird?” Lisa’s eyes looked fretful.
“No!” Arisa hurriedly assured her chosen. “Not at all… I feel like that’s a pretty normal thing to think.”
The soft, hazy expression on Lisa’s face was gut wrenching. She lamely grabbed for Arisa’s wrist - Arisa fought to not flinch away from the sudden contact - and held it in hers. They simply laid there, for a while, before Lisa fell asleep.
“I think my charge is falling in love with me,” Arisa worried her bottom lip, admitting this to Chisato.
The other angel blinked in surprise. Probably more so about the information, but also at the fact that Arisa was even opening up to her about this. She remained composed, however, like she always was one to.
“Well… you’ve been visiting her in person, correct?”
“You haven’t done that in ages.”
Chisato’s eyes softened. “This one is special, isn’t she?”
“...” Arisa hesitated. “Yes…”
Chisato’s eyes grew sad. “I had one like that… when I still took charges. Her name was Aya…” Her lips turned upward, into a grief-stricken smile. “She was my final charge, before I took this position. I was in love with her…”
Falling in love with one’s charge was strictly forbidden.
“I was taken off the lines, for that,” Chisato said, quaintly, hands clasped in front of her. “It was painful, watching her get married and grow happy with a family. But… it was also rewarding, at the same time.”
“Are you insinuating I’m in love with my human?” Arisa growled, insulted.
“No,” Chisato said, simply. “Yet, I must warn you. You are dangerously close. Your charge is in love with you and you clearly have stronger feelings about her than any of your previous selections. That is a very blurred, thin line you’re walking along, Arisa.”
Arisa tried to take Chisato’s warning to heart.
But, the next time she went to Lisa, her legs nearly buckled, her knees quivering at the very sight of her, feeling her heart swelling with such utter yearning that it ached.
“Lisa,” she growled, as her charge had Arisa pinned beneath her. “We can’t do this-”
“Why not?” Lisa demanded. “Because girls can’t be together?”
Arisa scoffed. Humans had such dumb rules. “No! No. Just… this isn’t right.”
“Why?” Lisa’s eyes - those damned eyes - blurred with tears and Arisa cursed herself. “I… I thought we were-”
“I…” Arisa found herself choking on her own emotions. She admitted; “I want to…”
“Then why !?”
“Because I’m not what you think.”
Lisa blinked, tears cascading past her full, flushed cheeks and raining gently onto Arisa’s chest beneath her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I…” Arisa forced her head to the side, averting her gaze. “I… I’m not-”
“Not human?” Lisa offered.
“What?” Arisa nearly got whiplash with how quickly her head swivelled to look at Lisa, once more. Lisa’s face had a veil of understanding. “What on earth are you talking about, Lisa-”
“You’re… so different,” Lisa said, bringing a hand up to stroke Arisa’s jawline, causing her to shiver at the absolute adoration she was being regarded with. “You’re so kind… you came to me in my moment of need and stuck around with me ever since. You’re always there right when I need you… that’s not human. You’re like an angel,” Lisa whispered, bringing herself dangerously close to Arisa’s lips.
“No!” Arisa turned her head, sharply, causing Lisa’s lips to come in contact with her cheek, instead. “I mean… yes, but no!”
“I… I’m-” It was a grievous crime for a chosen to find out about their guardian. At least, if a higher up found out… “You can’t tell anyone this. I’m not joking… I could get in so much trouble for this, Lisa!”
“For what?” Lisa glared. “For kissing me?”
“Well, yeah, but more so for what I’m about to tell you.” Arisa waited, and Lisa pulled back to sit, still straddling Arisa’s thighs. “I’m an angel.”
Lisa snorted. “I know.”
“No, I’m being serious.”
Lisa’s eyes softened. “Yeah… I know.”
Arisa sighed. “Figures…”
Suddenly, Lisa’s eyes grew sparkly and excited. Uh oh. “Do you have wings?”
“You’re taking this too well.”
Lisa simply held her expectant expression.
Huffing, Arisa shuffled out from underneath Lisa, sitting on her knees across from her. She shifted out her wings, white and seraphic, as she gazed up into Lisa’s eyes from beneath fluttering eyelashes.
Lisa’s mouth dropped open into a small “o” shape in disbelief.
She reached a hand out, visibly shaking, towards them. “Can I…?”
“Yeah…” Arisa nearly flinched as Lisa’s fingers caressed the softness of her feathered wings. It had been ages since anyone had touched her wings. “I can get in big trouble for this. So don’t mention it to anyone else in case their guardian angel is around.”
“Got it…” Lisa murmured, breathless. “You’re so beautiful.”
Arisa squacked. “You’re incomprehensible!”
“You’re lovely…” Lisa cooed. “Stunning… you’re a goddess, Arisa…”
Arisa was speechless as Lisa came closer, once more, kissing her.
“You can’t…” she begged, as Lisa parted from her. She was silenced. “Please…” Silenced again, lips pressing just a smidge harder. “Don’t…” she whined, her fingers digging into Lisa’s shirt. “I can’t-”
“Arisa,” Lisa whispered. “I want you, so badly… please.”
Arisa struggled - really struggled - to keep these advancements secret from the other angels. She was sure that Misaki suspected something. There was zero chance that Chisato didn’t know. Whether she stayed silent out of respect, self-interest, or grief… Arisa had no clue.
And yet… she couldn’t pull herself away from Lisa. She had such a magnetism that Arisa couldn’t break free from. She needed her… she needed this girl. She had to protect her.
“Are you satisfied with me, Arisa?” Lisa asked, during a moment of insecurity. They’d gotten rarer, but they still happened. Lisa was always so concerned with making the people around her flourish and smile. But… she didn’t focus on herself. Until it was something that she didn’t like. “I’m… so plain…”
“Lisa,” Arisa warned.
“I know…” she grumbled, sullenly. “You’ve told me a hundred times how pretty you think I am.”
“You’re also the kindest person I think I’ve ever known,” Arisa added. “There’s no need to be self conscious…”
“I don’t want anyone else,” Arisa declared. “You’re the most important person to me and I want you to stop talking and thinking like that.” She grabbed either side of Lisa’s face, fingers tracing gently just across the jaw. “Why must you feel insignificant? Why do you feel like you don't matter or that no one cares about you? Why on earth would you try and tell yourself that you are nothing when you are everything ?”
“Oh Arisa…” Lisa’s eyes hazy, half-lidded. She leaned forward until Arisa put a finger to her lips.
“Kissing me breaks the promise… remember?”
Lisa scowled. “You’re the only one who’s insisting on that stupid rule, and you know it.”
Arisa tutted. “It’s important. I can’t have you having your way with me every time we meet. The higher ups will get suspicious super fast.”
“One?” Lisa asked, coyly. “Surely they won’t mind a single kiss?”
Arisa rolled her eyes. “Lisa.”
“Please?” she asked.
“ Lisa -”
“Arisa,” her name on Lisa’s lips sounding like a wordless prayer. “I need you…”
Arisa felt her resolve entirely crumble. “Fine. But it’s just one. Got it!?”
“Yay! Thank you! I love you!”
And… suffice to say, it was never just one.
Lisa was, as far as Arisa could tell, never put off by the fact that Arisa had been around practically her whole life. Didn’t get weirded out when Arisa mentioned things that only Lisa could know she experienced. In fact, she was riveted by the stories Arisa told her of their previous interactions.
And… when Arisa finally mentioned her previous charges, Lisa was so open and understanding. “They sounded like wonderful people, Arisa… I’m sure they were very grateful to you.”
“But they shouldn’t have been,” Arisa growled, a moment of her own self doubt creeping in. “They should hate me.”
“That’s not possible.”
“Lisa, I’m not this… amazing person you make me out to be,” Arisa gesticulated wildly. “I’m… My record isn’t great. My first few charges… I was very involved with them, and things turned out very bad-”
“Arisa… you were trying your best.”
“This whole time I’ve been using you to make me feel better,” she seethed, furious with herself, “and you never caught on. You never caught on. I want you to hate me now, but I don’t think you’re even able to.”
“I’m not,” Lisa admitted, easily. “I could never.”
Arisa felt tears of frustration prickle at her eyes. She swiped at them, aggressively, as she pondered the fact that she was feeling emotions as though she were human.
“Arisa…” Lisa coaxed, “I’m in love with you… you might have made mistakes in the past, but I want to be your future… please let me.”
Arisa simply sank further into Lisa, allowing her to take her everything.
She was called in to Chisato’s dwelling.
That wasn’t a good sign.
The expression on Chisato’s face confirmed the sinking feeling in Arisa’s gut.
“You’re being stripped of your duties.”
“Can I tell her?”
Chisato smiled, though her features and emotions remained vague as ever. “I have a few options for you. Would you care to know them, first?”
She continued at Arisa’s silence.
“You may either retire… fill a position similar to mine. Watch over the other angels, and act as a sort of matron to them. Or…” her eyes flickered with an unnamed spark, “you can relinquish your wings and live among the humans, returning to the flow.”
That was unheard of. Was it even possible?
She could have a life with Lisa…
“I…” she gulped. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted…”
Removing one’s wings was much more painful than Arisa could have ever imagined. No stories could ever prepare someone for the emotional and physical agony of having the status of an angel torn from the body and spirit.
Yet… she felt lighter. Alive.
She rushed to Lisa.
Lisa brought her in, her apartment always having a place for Arisa.
“Arisa?” Lisa looked at her questioningly. “Why are you different?”
Arisa felt a tiny sense of uncertainty… not quite dread. What if Lisa didn’t like her, now that she wasn’t an angel? What if she wanted the romance of a celestial being, but now that Arisa was just another human… she wasn’t enough.
“I’m… mortal now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I gave them up… I gave up my wings.”
“Oh!” Lisa cried. “Why would you do such a thing?” Her eyes widened and filled with tears. “Did they find out-?”
“Yes,” Arisa smiled. Her smile stretched into a grin, from cheek to cheek, before she couldn’t help but throw her head back in laughter. “Yes! They did! And I… I’m allowed to stay. Here, with you…” She looked at Lisa, shyly. “If you’ll have me.”
“Oh, Arisa…” Lisa threw her arms around her, enveloping her in a searing kiss. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted… You’re all I ever wanted-”
“I know, my heart… I know…”
And Arisa felt a sense of peace wash over her; one that she hadn’t realized was missing from her life for a very long time.