Mikael found it a bit curious that the Most Holy insisted upon day and night
in the School. After all, now that he was angel, what did he really need with a
diurnal clock? When he had inquired of Raphael on the subject, the one-winged
angel cheerfully muttered something about imposed natural rhythms, which only
succeeded in confusing Mikael further. In the end, he decided, it just meant he
still went to sleep, still ate food, and his hair still needed to be trimmed on
a semi-regular basis.
Wincing as he turned onto his back, he added another to the list - he still
had to groom his wings. Previously he had neglected to consider that wings were
an extension of the body, and thus need care just like everything else. Beside
him on the futon, Raphael was still blissfully asleep, his cinnamon brown hair
mussed and his limbs entwined in the sheets. Frowning, Mikael sat up, trying to
reach the obstinate feather. The sheets puddled around his lap as he craned his
head and stretched his fingers towards the middle of his back. After a few
moments of fruitless effort, he gingerly shifted his wings down a little, and
wiggled his fingers, trying to close the gap of a few centimeters.
Warm lips touched his shoulder, making him gasp in surprise. "You could
have asked for help," Raphael's sleep-roughened voice reproved gently.
Mikael's eyelids fluttered shut as the older angel kissed a trail up his neck,
he shivered a bit as teeth grazed his ear...
And he let out an undignified yelp as Raphael plucked out the elusive
feather. "There we are," Raphael said with satisfaction.
"Irritated down feathers are really remarkably equivalent to pimples, you
know. Unfortunately, unlike the latter, you really don't grow out of them,"
he observed, continuing his inspection of his student's wings.
"Well, good morning to you, too," Mikael huffed, his feathers
The one-winged angel grinned and patted him on the rear. "It didn't hurt
that much. If you want, I could kiss it and make it better," he
offered with a smile that promised much more.
So it was that, mid-kiss, a gold envelope appeared in the air with a small
flash of light. Mikael was quite irked as Raphael held him in an embrace,
reading the letter behind his back. "What does it say?" he demanded,
trying to turn his head enough to see, while Raphael conveniently removed the
letter from his line of vision. Raphael hummed in response, which only provoked
the hapless aqua-haired angel even more. Pushed to the limits of his patience,
he knocked the older angel back onto the futon and pinned him down, neatly
retrieved the letter.
"I wonder why Gabriel-sama wants to see us?" he mused quietly after
reading it, blowing a few errant strands of aqua hair out of his face.
"If I made golden letters appear, would you be on top more often?"
Raphael inquired sweetly, moving sinuously against him and fluttering his
Mikael felt his face flush red. "We don't have time for that - we have
to go see Gabriel-sama!"
"Not for another hour," the cinnamon-haired angel drawled,
divesting them both of the sheet. "Besides, I promised you I'd kiss you and
make everything better."
"Raphael-sama, I don't remember it hurting...there..."
The door to Gabriel's office bore a small plague reading "The
Administrator." Directly underneath it was taped sheet of paper that read,
"For ETERNITY, or until I can dupe someone else into it." Raphael's
lips twitched in amusement. "Looks like it's been one of those years,"
he commented blithely to Mikael.
"Raphael!" a voice bellowed. "Quit wasting my time and get in
here!" The one-winged angel raised an eyebrow but swiftly entered with
Mikael in tow.
The Administrator, simply put, was a giant. Incredibly tall with piercing
blue eyes and a mane of white hair, Gabriel looked ageless rather than old. He
waved them both into the chairs in front of his desk, massaging his temple as he
scanned a file. "Mikael," he said gruffly. "Congratulations on
your attainment of full angel status." "Th-thank you, sir," the
terrified young angel murmured.
"Stop that," the Administrator reprimanded sharply. "Do me a
favor and pretend you have a spine. Have some pride in your position, boy - I
have work for you to do."
Raphael had already casually draped himself into a chair and helped himself
to the bowl of mints on the desk. "So, G-man, what requires our
Gabriel's gaze was withering. "You always were impudent. And I'm sure
you already know, since Azrael has a tendency to babble when he's drunk."
"Raphael-sama?" Mikael questioned, looking very confused.
The one-winged angel shrugged. "Azrael and I got toasted a couple of
days ago. It's a yearly thing." Suddenly serious, he sat up attentively in
his chair. "Does anyone have any idea why Suriel would disappear like
The Administrator leaned back in his chair and sighed. "No, not really.
Suriel's always been Azrael's benevolent other half. They may both be Angels of
Death, but with Suriel gone, I have to rely entirely on Azrael, which is really
a tremendously bad idea. Old habits die hard and Azrael just couldn't be
non-punishment oriented if he tried. So, the word from the Metatron is that
Suriel's to be found at once." Gabriel's lips pursed like he'd just eaten a
lemon when he mentioned the name of Metatron, the Voice of Most Holy.
Raphael looked wary, but nodded in agreement. "I can go myself - there's
no reason to take Mikael from his duties."
The Administrator rolled his eyes. "The Metatron, that glorified
secretary, says he goes with you."
"He was that specific?" Raphael asked with a raised eyebrow.
The white-haired angel nodded. "And that snippy. The Most Holy is not
pleased that his nice Angel of Death just wandered off without even a 'gone
fishing' note. When the Most Holy is unhappy, Metatron gets positively waspish.
And," he continued, "Mikael needs the experience anyway, so decree or
not, this is a good opportunity." Shuffling his papers, he bade them a good
afternoon and both rose to leave.
On their way out the door, Gabriel added, "One more thing, Mikael. Don't
let that one-winged rascal bully you into filling out the expenditure
Raphael's response was an impolite hand gesture.
Mikael did a lot of watching the first day of the search. Raphael called
around on his cell phone to various contacts, to ask their opinions as to where
the errant benevolent Angel of Death might be. Raphael stalked around the
bedroom, feathers becoming more agitated with each fruitless call. Mikael sat
quietly and made himself useful by making pot after pot of tea, which Raphael
consumed in frustration between calls. When it was late, Mikael closed his
fingers around the phone and Raphael's hand. "You should get some
sleep," he urged quietly. "We can start again in the morning."
Raphael's eyes narrowed, and he opened his mouth to protest vehemently -
then, just as quickly, surrendered. When he took his student later in the
shadows of night, Mikael accepted Raphael's frustration without complaint,
submitting to the elder angel's need for release. After Raphael rolled over to
go to sleep, Mikael stared at the ceiling. He wanted comfort…he wanted an
answer to a question.
"Why, of all the others, did you choose me, Raphael-sama?" he asked
in the barest of whispers.
Raphael certainly had his pick. His seniority, his devil-may-care attitude,
and his good looks made him an easy object of desire. Upon being admitted full
angel status, Mikael had encountered good-natured teasing and even a small
amount of spite for being at Raphael's side. Mikael wasn't sure if the
one-winged angel was aware of that, but he had borne it stoically, determined
not to let it get to him. After all, he had Raphael-sama, so that was that.
He turned over in bed and cuddled close to Raphael. Why do you love me?
He wanted to ask. Why love a new student, a shy, inexperienced, uncertain
boy? He pressed his face to the older angel's back and traced the scar where
the other wing had been. "What's so special about me?" he asked almost
With his back turned to him, Mikael couldn't see that Raphael's eyes were
In the predawn hours, Mikael was awakened by the ringing of the cell phone.
Blearily, he rolled over and out of the futon, feeling around blindly for
Raphael's discarded jacket. His fingers closing over the phone, he flipped it
open and muttered, "Hello?"
"Oh - Mikael. This is Azrael, and I just wanted to tell you where the
It's too early to be talking with an Angel of Death, Mikael thought
sourly. "Which idiot, Azrael?"
"My moronic other half. I'm pretty sure he's in the Wasteland,"
Azrael responded, his voice harsh but containing an undercurrent Mikael couldn't
Mikael shoved his bangs out of his face and sighed, racking his brain for a
rational explanation - and failing. "The Wasteland? What would he being
There was a pause on the other end. "He goes there to think, sometimes.
Usually after we've made a visit down to Earth. Before he disappeared we went to
India. The earthquake, you know." A loud sigh made Mikael jerk back,
startled. "I don't think Gabriel told you, either because he didn't know or
he didn't think it was important that you know. Suriel's been kinda…down this
past century. I thought it was just a phase, but…damn it, Mikael, things just
"In what way are they not right?" Mikael asked cautiously, cradling
the phone between his cheek and his shoulder.
"He's angry. I know everything would be okay if he would just Talk to
Most Holy, but he won't listen to me. At all. He stormed out of our home the
other day, and that's when I put in the request to the Metatron that somebody
find him and try and talk some sense into him. Most Holy knows I wasn't getting
anywhere," he explained, his voice twisted with bitterness. "So…take
it easy on him, won't you?" Then he snorted in derision. "Like you
even needed me to say that. I just hope Raphael can help him. Let me know if you
need anything, Mikael. Ciao."
Mikael stared at the phone, then slowly pressed the off button. Azrael's
words made his mind reel. Spinning around, he succeeded in bonking his forehead
on Raphael's shoulder. Apparently sometime during the phone conversation the
one-winged angel had sat up behind him.
"He's in the Wasteland, is he?" Raphael asked quietly, his eyes
hard. There was something about his tone that raised the hair on the back of
Mikael's neck - his voice was firm, containing a quality of inevitability about
it that frightened the younger angel.
Mikael nodded slowly and found himself reaching for Raphael's hand. He
replayed the conversation in his mind. Take it easy on him, won't you?
"Azrael thinks he's depressed."
Raphael's eyes widened. "Damn it. We have to go. Now, and not later,
Mikael!" he punctuated his exclamation with pat on the younger angel's
rear, and went about retrieving his clothes from their haphazard resting places
on the floor. Suddenly he stopped, and went to his closet. "Here, wear
this," he instructed Mikael, and threw clothing at him.
Mikael held it up in front of him and wrinkled his nose in puzzlement, but
went ahead and put on the dark blue Mandarin tunic and trousers. "It fits
perfectly," he admired, examining himself in the mirror.
"There's a good reason for that," Raphael said cheerfully.
"Measurements taken when one is nude are always the most accurate, wouldn't
you agree? Now let's go."
"Raphael-sama!" Mikael howled in protest.
"I said let's go, Mikael."
The Wastelands were aptly described. Craggy, mountainous terrain and a
perpetually overcast sky gave the land a dead, deserted feeling. But as it
turned out, Azrael was right. On the highest peak, Suriel sobbed and wailed, his
voice echoing throughout the Wastelands.
Mikael was surprised to see how beautiful Suriel was. While some angels were
plain or even ugly, Suriel was breathtaking. Golden hair pooled at his feet, and
his cornflower blue eyes would have stolen his breath away if they weren't
reddened from weeping. Looking out of the corner of his eye, Mikael saw Azrael's
jaw tighten at the sight of his lover. "Stay here, Mikael," Raphael
instructed grimly. "He's very dangerous right now - under no circumstances
do you approach him." Mikael watched the one-winged angel calmly walk out
onto the cliff where Suriel stood. At the sound of his footsteps, the weeping
angel turned, and Mikael's stomach lurched at what the angel cradled in his
arms. A stillborn infant.
"Raphael," Suriel choked out, his entire form grieving. "I
won't go back, Raphael! I won't take any more!" He cradled the dead infant,
rocking back and forth in a hideous parody of a mother. His voice contained
brittle shards of hysteria as he cried, "No more! I won't take any more
children! Why does the Most Holy want them? Why does Most Holy make me bring
them?!!" His sobbing became louder, more ragged.
"You know why," Azrael muttered to himself, sotto voce. He folded
his arms and leaned against the stone wall behind him, masses of coal-colored
hair obscuring his face.
"I'm sure Most Holy has reasons," Raphael began carefully, edging
towards him. Mikael watched carefully, biting his lower lip in worry.
"To Hell and Morning Star with Most Holy's reasons! They aren't good
enough for me!" Suriel hissed, his wings flaring. "I can't…I can't
be like Azrael - I love him so, but I can't say 'Yes, Most Holy' anymore when He
commands me to take souls to heaven from atrocities He commands Azrael to
perpetrate. There's just NO REASON!!! Why must there be earthquakes and floods?
Why the famines and plagues?" Suriel was shrieking now, his eyes wild,
almost forgetting the dead infant in his arms.
Beside Mikael, the Angel of Death shifted his wings in irritation. "Have
you forgotten, my dear?" he murmured, a frustrated current running through
his voice. "It's not our duty to question, only to do the will of Most
Mikael looked at him out of the corner of his eye, and thanked the universe
all over again that he had never had to pass the tests required of Azrael and
his counterpart. But the black-winged angel's words brought him up short - had
Suriel truly forgotten, or was he just rebelling?
He wanted to ask, but his eyes followed Raphael as he tried to approach the
half-mad angel. Suriel drew a sword blazing with holy fire from seeming midair
and Raphael stopped in his tracks. "Not another step, Medicus. You
won't brainwash me back into doing Most Holy's dirty work."
"Why don't you Talk to Most Holy?" Raphael asked casually, as if
inviting him to tea. Mikael tensed up, knowing his love was completely serious.
"DON'T MOCK ME!!!" Suriel screamed, cornflower blue eyes almost
black with rage. "Azrael suggested the same thing, but we've all heard the
trauma stories from angels who have Talked. I won't risk it! And it won't change
the fact that I know Most Holy is using me, using me! Using me to take
infants from their mothers, innocent children from earth!"
Azrael slammed a fist against the stone. "Of course he is. That's why
you're here." Mikael flinched from the unexpected action, and began to
think that perhaps it was safer with Raphael.
"My love," Raphael called, his voice deadly calm. "Step out of
Mikael nervously walked out into the light, not entirely certain if he was
thankful, and was sure to stay a good distance away. At his appearance, Suriel's
grip on his sword tightened. "What kind of trick is this, Medicus? You
think your student will sway my mind, that I will surrender to his charms as you
have? You are a fool, Raphael…and here I thought intimate relationships
between teachers and students were strongly discouraged. Though I suppose the
Professor may bend whichever rules he chooses," he taunted.
Raphael narrowed his earth-brown eyes. "Rules in a handbook don't govern
the heart, Suriel. You ought to know that. You and Azrael were the original
forbidden couple, after all."
Suriel's sobbing had ceased for the moment as he contemplated that. As if
another person, he stared at the deceased infant in his arms. "How careless
of me," he gently reproached himself, and carefully let the soul ascend to
Heaven. The beautific smile on his face as he let the soul go was heartbreaking
in its radiance.
Raphael came up to him and rested an arm on his shoulder. "See now -
that wasn't so bad. Won't you come along? If you can get your answers,
everything will be better," he urged, his voice soothing.
"Better?" Suriel whispered, a faint thread of hope in his voice. He
took one slow, deep breath and shuddered.
"All you have to do is Talk with Most Holy-" Raphael got no further
because Suriel backhanded him, sending him stumbling backward.
"I hate the Most Holy!" he shrieked furiously, his voice hoarse and
terrible. "I hate him! I HATE HIM FOR MAKING THIS MY FATE!" He
picked the dazed Raphael up by the collar and flung him into the nearby
escarpment with an angel's horrifying strength, and Raphael slumped like a rag
"Raphael-sama!" Mikael cried out, feeling his heart would turn
traitor and stop beating.
Suriel panted, eyes crazed and mouth almost foaming. Slowly, so slowly his
fist clenched around his sword and he advanced to Raphael's fallen form. Mikael
phased over immediately in front of Raphael. "Not another step,
Suriel," he warned bleakly. "You try to kill my Raphael-sama and I'll
kill you first."
An icy hand rested on his shoulder. "Not your role, Mikael."
Suriel's eyes blinked backed to unnerving normalcy. "Azrael? When did
you get here?"
Coal-black wings flexed. "I wouldn't leave you," the Angel of Death
said, his voice firm and reassuring. The tall, cold beauty faced Suriel, his
normal sneer replaced by an expression of almost grudging care.
Crouched down by the unconscious Raphael, Mikael watched the two. Azrael had
said Suriel wouldn't listen to him. "Suriel," the young angel
interjected. "I've Talked with Most Holy. It's not so bad as everyone says,
Eyes of cornflower blue stared into midnight.
"It was quite nice, actually," Mikael continued. No reaction.
Suriel's gaze did not for an instant deviate from Azrael's face. He may as well
have not spoken at all. He's not going to listen to me, either.
But wait. What was it that Raphael once said? 'Sometimes we just have to
trust our loved ones to know what's best for us.'
The pain and confusion so readily apparent in Suriel's eyes as he gazed at
his beloved made Mikael think that the golden-haired angel might be ready to
Azrael held out a hand to his lover. "It's the only way for us to be
together, my dear. Won't you come with me?" It was a plea disguised in a
guttural mutter, almost imperceptible unless one was looking for it. Mikael was,
and to him it was as obvious as the sun.
Mikael watched with baited breath as indecision flared in Suriel's eyes. The
golden-haired angel shifted his weight forward slightly. Just take that step!
Mikael urged in his mind. And finally he knew how he could help. "Azrael
only wants what's best for you, Suriel. Trust him!" he begged, his voice
Suriel took one halting step forward and then hurled himself into Azrael's
arms. The black-winged Angel of Death surrounded him with a fierce embrace while
he sobbed incoherent apologies. "It's going to be alright," Azrael
said in a harsh whisper. "It's all going to be okay. I'll come with
Cornflower blue shimmering with new tears looked up. "You…will?"
Suriel asked, the question marred by a little hiccup.
Azrael clutched him tighter. "Didn't I tell you I'd never leave you
alone? Did you really think I'd let you go talk to Most Holy without me?"
"You never said you were going to," Suriel protested, sniffling.
"You little idiot," Azrael whispered. Though his voice was no
different than normal, his eyes softened and held a kind of guarded tenderness .
"I thought you knew. We'll go see Most Holy and then we're going
home." Suriel smiled tremulously, and Azrael looked over at Mikael.
"Can you take care of him?" he asked, his eyes resting on Raphael's
Mikael nodded, not wanting to disturb the two. Black and white wings spread,
and hand-in-hand, the Angels of Death flew back to Heaven where Most Holy
Mikael turned around to check Raphael for injuries, and was relieved to
discover his breathing was still steady and his wing was, amazingly enough,
unharmed. Carefully he lifted his former teacher into his arms and spread his
wings. They were going home too.
Raphael awoke to the clink of china. His eyes fluttering open, he focused on
Mikael, who was neatly preparing tea with plenty of sugar - just the way Raphael
liked. "Hey," the one-winged angel said, mildly surprised at the
hoarseness of his voice.
Mikael gave him that adorable look of fussy disapproval, and Raphael noticed
the dark rings of sleeplessness under his eyes. "You stay right where you
are and no getting up. You're very lucky you only had a concussion from being
thrown like that! It could have been more than just a lump, Raphael-sama."
"Well, it certainly feels like it," Raphael grumbled for show, not
trying too hard to keep a smile from his face. Mikael walked gracefully across
the room with a tray, which he set on the tatami mat beside the futon.
"This isn't tea," Raphael observed as the younger angel handed him a
Mikael snorted. "No, it's a tisane from one of your medical books. It
smells horrible but I followed your directions, so I think it's alright."
Raphael sat up a bit and swallowed the contents of the cup in one gulp.
"Yeah, it tastes horrible too. But I've long held that if medicine tasted
good, people might be tempted to stay sick." Mikael handed him a delicate
teacup with what smelled like Earl Grey tea, his personal favorite, and helped
prop him up with pillows. "Did everything turn out okay?" he asked,
staring intently at his teacup.
"Everything's just fine," Mikael reassured him quietly.
After a few moments, Raphael raised an eyebrow at his former student over his
teacup. Mikael was still kneeling at the side of the futon and watching him with
eagle-eyed concern. "I'm not going to up and die, you know," he
assured him. "Granted, I shouldn't participate in any major ballet
productions or go bungee jumping, but I really will be fine with about two days
"You have two weeks," Mikael informed him.
"What? Has Gabriel gone soft in his old age?" Raphael demanded, his
Mikael's cheeks turned a rather becoming shade of pale rose.
"Umm…well…no. Never mind."
Raphael narrowed his eyes and tipped up Mikael's chin. "Never mind what?
Mikael's ears had long since turned pink as well. "I sort of told him to
go away. I decided we deserved a little vacation."
Raphael doubled over in laughter at his audacity. "Come here, you,"
he beckoned, patting the space next to him in the futon. Mikael gingerly crawled
in, taking excruciating care of this wings. Raphael frowned in concern and
gently touched one. "Mikael," he threatened, "What did you do to
"I flew back to heaven carrying you. You're not exactly light,
Raphael-sama," Mikael mumbled.
Raphael's eyes flew open in shock. "All that way? I take back everything I said about your ineptitude at flight." Mikael
snuggled up to him, laying his head on Raphael's shoulder. "I think you
should go back to sleep now, Raphael-sama. I don't like hurting injured
people." He looked up with an innocent smile.
"Well, well, well. I think my love is growing a spine," the
one-winged angel teased. "I think I have to inspect to be sure."
Mikael seized his questing hand. "Raphael-sama!" he protested, his
face earnest. "You have a concussion - I really don't think we should
One of the things that Raphael had long known was that there were two ways to
shut Mikael up - food and kisses. He employed the latter method, soundly kissing
the aqua-haired angel into silence. Minutes later he broke off and smiled down
at Mikael. "Alright," he said softly. "I'll behave myself, so
long as you don't give me more of my own medicine. But will you sleep with me
Mikael made an affirmative sound and gathered the blankets, tenderly tucking
them around the injured angel before settling down himself. Raphael wrapped an
arm around Mikael and closed his eyes.
"Don't ever do that again. I thought my heart would stop when I saw you
hit the cliff face," Mikael murmured quietly against his shoulder. Raphael
tightened his half-embrace.
"Join the club. I've been worrying about you forever."
They were quiet for a few moments, just luxuriating in being together.
Eventually, Mikael ventured in a drowsy voice, "Raphael-sama…thank you.
You've only ever wanted what was best for me."
"Shhh…go to sleep, Mikael. You look like you stayed up all
night," Raphael whispered. The aqua-haired angel looked exhausted and
already mostly asleep. Raphael watched his chest rise and fall with his even
breathing for some time, before whispering, "I chose you because I loved
you. I've always loved you, even when you wouldn't look my way or hear my words.
Even when the rulebook said I should not lose my heart to you, I couldn't
obey." Raphael leaned over and murmured, "You really are everything to
Mikael's lips turned up into a tender smile in the midst of his feigned
sleep, and he made a small noise of surprise as Raphael kissed him thoroughly.
Breaking away, he gasped, "Raphael-sama, I thought you said…"
Raphael nipped his ear gently. "Hush, you. I wrote the books on medicine
and on school protocol, so I get to break all my own rules."
He did just that.