He doesn’t know when it starts. Somewhen, sometime, the look in his eyes directed at his father that meant stop it, don’t make everything politics and power, stop telling me what to do, stop trying to make me you transforms into something like please look at me, please listen to me, please understand, look at me--
He brushes the skin of his hip with his hand, when he’s lying in bed. He thinks of his father’s tight smiles and the low murmur of his voice. He shuts his eyes closed, and he feels so insignificant, so small - poor stupid sanctimonious William, his father had sneered at him this evening - and he finds himself curling around his hand. There’s no motion, but there’s that weight, that pressure, and he thinks of the unbuttoned collar of his father’s shirt, showing his bare neck. The lines of his hands, the veins on his arms. William used to clutch his father’s wrist when he was small, whenever visitors came to their House, but his father had always shook him off.
He tries to recapture that feeling again. His father’s wrist trapped between his fingers. His mouth opens, slightly--oh--and he’s jerking off to the picture of skin imprisoning skin. He lets out a sound like a sob when he comes, feeling the sweat on his forehead, on his palm, and he realizes that he doesn’t know a single prayer in the world that will purify him from this.
But it doesn’t stop: he thinks of forcing his father to his knees and making him mumble prayers. Not the kind of prayers that sold useless religious products, but the desperate kind, the kind where you put your whole being into, a begging entreaty to something or someone higher. He thinks of moving his fingers to cradle his father’s chin in a mockery of cupped palms, the gesture to the savior, and then pinching, squeezing, his throat between his hands.
He wants to forget this. He attempts to lose himself in the storm of Gabriel’s black feathers, a new loyalty and spying eyes--but he still shudders and feels something almost like holiness when his mind strays, once again.
In a moment of weakness, when Gabriel runs a hand through his hair, while William’s on his knees before him, William can’t stop himself from gasping, “Save--me.”
And Gabriel smiles. He knows, of course he does. “Dear William,” he says, softly, “your pain is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever felt. All that worship for me, and your adorable struggle on the side. Keep it. It makes you stronger, you know.”
“Does it?” William asks, his voice barely audible.
Gabriel touches him. He wipes away the tears that are starting to prick at William's eyes, and the back of his hand makes slow, careful patterns on his cheeks. “In the end, you’re my suppliant. You’re mine. But this ruined world, the unappealing pit that it is, is a den, in the end. With the angel and the lions both. And lions can be tamed.”
“I don’t understand,” William says, and he can’t help but lean into Gabriel’s touch.
Gabriel says, “You will.”
When the time comes, he does understand. He’s bound his father to a chair, ready to show him his archangel’s word, ready to resolve this pain within himself.
He puts the strip of black across his father's eyes, and presses prayers into the space between them. Then something inside of him breaks - he's a stupid boy who grew up with lions and angels - and he grips his father's shoulders and kisses him. William feels the rasp of a surprised breath against his mouth, and he doesn't break away, not yet, and when he finally does, he hears his father say in a soft drawl, "Is this what your angel has been teaching you?"
“No,” William says. “I’m trying to save you.”
“This is,” David Whele says, “this is--sick. You stupid, impressionable boy. I never knew that you were--”
“Shut up,” William says, quietly, projecting as much power as he can into the sentence. “Or I’ll bind your mouth, too. I bandaged your wound, Father. I fed you. It’s your turn to listen now.”
Gently, William frees one of his father’s hands. He’s on his knees before his father, holding the hand in his, and he grasps it.
“You have to give in,” he says. “Give up. Let go of whatever drive that you think that’s important to you. It’s always been the two of us in House Whele, and we don’t need a division between us. We have to help Vega.”
His father’s mouth twists. “Don’t pull that well-intentioned extremist bullshit on me, William. It’s not becoming of you. You’re a Whele.”
William counts his father’s fingers--one-two-three-four-five--and knows that it wouldn’t take much trouble to break one. But he can save the physical pain for later, for the proper initiation. William says, “I’m not you. I have all the good intentions for the world,” and he puts his father’s index finger into his mouth, feeling it against his tongue.
His father makes a low, startled noise; there’s movement underneath the blindfold, the fluttering of eyelashes. “Stop,” he growls, trying to tug his hand away, but the ropes are too tight, and William is clutching his wrist in a vice grip.
William ignores him, continuing to massage the digit with his gums, sliding the skin between his teeth. He’s warming the finger, pressing motions almost like kisses, and when he pulls away, there’s a line of spit on the corner of his mouth.
It feels good. It feels like he’s letting that part of his soul take over, pushing his mind into an ecstatic trance. He’s submerged into the state of consciousness that this world’s past followers had felt when they received messages from their god, whispering pleadingly: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. But this is not about God: this is about trembling, about dark swirling feathers, about taking what is his.
He listens to his father’s shaking breaths.
He says, “Do you remember that old story, Father? It’s one of the old ones that you preached, not to my generation, but to the one before the war. It was about a prophet named Daniel.”
He reaches up to brush a hand against his father’s clothed thighs. He makes perfect, careful circles; then the circles morphs into ts, sloping sign-of-the-crosses that Gabriel once showed him to do on a whim. This is how they used to pray to our old father, William.
William continues, “A king threw Daniel into a den of lions. Sealed the den’s mouth tightly with his ring and the rings of his fellow nobles. And the king couldn’t sleep for the night - he didn’t know what would happen to Daniel. But you know what happened.”
“Daniel lived,” David acknowledges, in a scratchy tone. “Through the help of God. Idiot boy, you don’t need to tell me this story - I have preached it and packaged it for a thousand and a one times, along with the rest.”
“No. It wasn’t exactly God,” William says, and he breathes against his father’s hip, his mouth nearly brushing the shape of his cock. “There was - there was an angel.”
(He thinks of Gabriel, who had once tied a blindfold over William’s eyes, and let his wings rustle over William’s bare body. William had wanted to disappear into the cocoon of feathers - this is blind faith, the blindest that he’s ever had - and when the wings brush over his cock, he doesn’t know why he breathes out, “Father, father, father--”
--and Gabriel lets out a low, rumbling laugh, and says, “Good boy.”)
He slips down his father’s trousers and underwear, and David makes a strangled noise. “Please, son,” he says. “Stop this.”
His poor, poor father. Weary from the affair with the lion, and the injury, and the lack of sufficient food and water. David Whele can’t muster the urge to argue properly and grandly like he always does.
“It’s okay,” William says, soothingly. He rubs a finger against the slit of David’s cock, wiping at the pre-come. “Shh.”
There was an angel who shut the lions’ jaws, stopped them from devouring Daniel. But why not their eyes? William wonders. The blindfold seems to accentuate his father in fragility, the black wrapped around his head. Like those figures in stained glass windows with their halos.
He drops a kiss onto the shaft of his father’s cock - slow, reverent. His mind is a constant chant of, Father, my father, my father, my father, like how he’d given himself up to Gabriel. Then he rolls his tongue against the warm skin and his father makes that choked sound again.
“Yes,” William says, softly. “See? You like it, Father. It’s me. I’m here.”
He takes his father’s cock in his mouth, teeth set against the skin (as if he’s the lion of the Biblical story) and his breath panting against it in shallow gasps. He sucks, hollows his cheeks, and it tastes so, so good, filling his mouth; he wants to fill up his throat, wants to let this warmth go down into his chest and the spaces between his bones; this is what it feels like to be beholden to a higher calling, a higher purpose.
Let me give this to you. Take it--take it--take it--his head bobbing, his mouth moving up and down, repositioning to kiss and suck his father’s balls--he closes his eyes and thinks of Gabriel’s feathers on his skin, turning into something sharper just for a moment as if they would cut him--
His father comes in William’s mouth, with a cry, and William swallows. He wipes the remaining semen from his lip with the back of his hand, and he finds that the hand is trembling. He’s still on his knees before his father; his cock is so hard that it almost hurts.
David Whele’s chest is heaving. His teeth are in a gritted line, lips pursed, and then he says, “Why?”
“Don’t--don’t ask me that,” William says. He reaches up to run his still shaking hand through his father’s hair, fingers dancing against the knots on the back of his blindfold. Tousling the hair gently, just for a moment.
William falls down to his knees again. He cups his hands together, and prays.