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Nageki no longer understood time as he used to. Hours, days, years became blurs in his fragmented memory like the delicate watercolor paintings of Claude Monet. Yet, he remembered one or two dates; Clear and vividly outlined dates that stuck out on the watercolor of his life, like Picasso's eccentric cubism. May 9th, was one such date. It was when everything changed, and his timeline was forever altered, now punctuated with more and more specks of daring color.
May 9th, Nageki had sought comfort in the pages of a dusty collection of poetry. It was after school hours, and the few students that actually came to the library had gone home to enjoy the comforts of family life: a life he himself could only remember in fleeting, splintered nightmares. Yet, one young man had stayed behind, as he often did. Nageki secretly wondered if he had any family to go home to, or if he was just like him. Every evening the eccentric teen would stay long hours in the library, drawing up fantastical pages to mangas that would likely never be published.
At first, Nageki had paid him no mind. As far as he was concerned, the self-proclaimed fallen angel was just a blue blur in his library. That was before he realized that this young man could see him.
He would often catch the guy (Anghel, as he later introduced himself.) staring in his direction, but Nageki simply ignored this. Many students stared at him- or rather, through him - but later, he would remember, no one quite stared at him with the same blazing intensity that Anghel had. It was like he was studying him. In fact, he was.
Anghel had fallen asleep on his work again, and as Nageki passed by him, something on the page caught his eye. Right there in the middle of the page was a perfect drawing of him! He jumped back in shock. Very few people could see him, in fact, he thought that Hiyoko and Ryouta were the only ones, and yet, here on this page was the proof that he was being watched.
And now, there was this. This afternoon in May when Anghel, now quite familiar with the library ghost, would approach him and do the most unexpected thing.
"Eternal scholar?" Anghel's voice was so unusually quiet, so hushed. Nageki looked up from his book, puzzled, but not displeased with the boy's sudden change of tone. Mayhaps this meant no more screaming in his library.
"Yes, Angel of Judecca?" he inquired. Nageki liked to indulge the other's fantasy sometimes, as he truly found it fascinating. It was a new story, something other than the novels in the library which he had read and re-read a thousand times. Something ever-changing and immersive and utterly poetic that he was a part of. That was the most wonderful part- he was taking part in this world. He felt like he hadn't really ever had a part in the real world, at least, not one he'd like to play, but Anghel always made him seem so beautiful, so intelligent, so worldly and ethereal.
"I must confess to a dreadful sin, for even now as I come to you in repentance, I feel the unwelcome stirrings of lust take hold in my scarlet breast. Caller of the Phosphorescent stars, forgive me. I fear I may have fallen once more."
Nageki blinked, trying to process the confession made. " this about Hiyoko? I really think you'd be better suited to find relationship advice elsewhere."
It was Anghel's turn to be confused. "No... the one of which I speak is yourself, Eternal scholar."
"O-Oh." he had no idea... although that certainly would account for all of the extra hours put in at the library. And their increased interactions. And the fact that the Eternal scholar had shown up quite frequently in the panels of Anghel's manga.
"I am willing to accept any punishment you see fit to dole out upon my cursed soul." Anghel spoke, bowing deeply
Nageki tilted his head slightly and said in an inquisitive tone "Why would I punish you? You could not control having feelings for me. It's simply human nature to feel for others."
"Because I am unfit to love a holy being such as yourself. Just by feeling for you, I desecrate your very image. for one as lowly as I to feel for someone as pure as you is perverse it's-"
"Hush. You are not as irredeemable as you view yourself, Anghel. You are an artistically gifted young man with your entire life ahead of you. Although, I will agree that you are most definitely wasting your time with me."
"Then it can be assumed that my feelings are not returned, Eternal Scholar?" Anghel said to the floor, sounding slightly choked
"It doesn't matter if they are or they aren't. I am a ghost. A memory of someone lost long ago to the world. I only exist within these four walls. I do not age. I have no future. I am no more than an echo."
Anghel rose from his bow and looked Nageki in the eyes. "I know what you are, Enlightened one. I have from the very beginning. I know well what the price of loving you is and i have paid it time and time again. "
"Anghel, don't throw your life away chasing spirits."
"I am not chasing spirits, I am following my muse."
Nageki's heart caught in his chest. Apparently his feelings towards the eccentric sophomore were more than he himself could have predicted. H-his....muse? Before he'd had time to respond, large, calloused hands enveloped his own. Yes, he most definitely felt something in return. This was bad.
" do you feel towards me?" The voice was almost a whisper
For this, he had no answer. He wasn't particularly sure how he felt about anything. Could he even feel? The metaphysical dispute of his very existence, and his proximity to the other were flustering him greatly. he couldn't remember a time prior to this where the Filipino had touched him. Was this feeling really his or a byproduct of physical interaction with a living being? His head spun. All he knew was that he wanted more of this feeling. Rather than verbally respond, he tore his hands away only to cup Anghel's face and bring their lips together in a chaste kiss.
He had never in life or death felt anything like this before. It was as if his entire being was vibrating, moving in time with Anghel's pulse. He felt strong arms pull him in closer, and he whimpered a bit, momentarily wondering what any normal human being would see were they to walk in on the pair. As he felt Anghel's tongue sweep across his lip, he surrendered that and all other thoughts to the moment. After what felt like an eternity, Nageki pulled back, absolutely breathless from the ordeal.
And here he sat, seven months later in the dead of winter watching Anghel shiver as he inked the last page of his latest issue. He didn't really feel cold himself, but watching the other's muscles spasm in an effort to warm up his body must've drawn up a memory or something, because Nageki soon began to shake faintly, a chill ghosting his skin. Over these months, he had found that the more intimate contact he had with Anghel, the more he could sense. He was unsure about the significance of this, though. He still wasn't sure about his feelings toward Anghel, but he most definitely knew they were more than friendly. With a loud creaking sound the heater came to life, sending a wave of warm air across the room that made the living being next to him sigh in relief.
"...Are you cold?" Nageki asked, although he already knew the answer
"Y-you need not worry about me, Eternal scholar." Anghel chattered as he put down his pen, unable to draw a straight line anymore.
Nageki rolled his eyes at the Filipino's resilience. Anghel could be inches from death and he'd still deny it. Nageki didn't have the heart to tell him that it didn't make him seem heartier, it just made him seem dumb. He got up and went to the librarian's office, where he knew he could easily find some blankets and a small space heater. Anghel's being cold was making him cold, and he didn't like the disturbing, foreign feeling. Reaching into the crate of bedding, he glanced at the clock. Big red numbers told him that it was quarter past midnight, and that meant that Anghel had been locked in the school for the night. Nageki fell to worrying as he realized that he was unprepared for the company of the living, especially in the dead of winter. He didn't know if the blankets and the space heater would be enough to keep Anghel from freezing in the icebox of a library for a whole night. He picked up the whole crate and burst through the door. Setting it down on the table in front of the artist, he spoke
"It's past midnight. You're locked in here until morning."
"Oh. I am deeply sorry Estelle, I'll be more vigilant in our future dealings." He smiled.
"You should try to sleep. I imagine you have a long day ahead of you tomorrow." Nageki commented, taking a large quilt from the crate and beginning to make a sleeping pallet.
"You're probably right. Mom's gonna have the police involved by tomorrow morning, surely."
Something Nageki had noticed about Anghel was that when he was tired, he began to slip into "normal" speech. It was like his brain couldn't handle the eccentricity anymore. It never failed to catch him off guard, and oftentimes disturb him. He plugged the space heater in, directed it at the pallet, and walked across the room to the light switch. No sooner had he flipped it than he felt arms wrapping themselves around his torso.
"Sleep with me?"
Nageki hadn't really ever felt sleepy, he had always just sort of... shut off and on each day, like a blip in his existence. But in this moment, he felt oddly, exhausted. Like he could sleep for years and years, even though he had strong doubts that the dead actually slept. He leaned back into the now familiar embrace and nodded.
They stumbled their way back over to the pallet and collapsed into the mass of quilts together. Nageki felt heavy, substantial, like his body was suddenly denser. He melted into the softness of the bedding, enjoying a sort of bliss he hadn't known since his death. A bit distracted, he hadn't quite registered his proximity to Anghel until he spoke, his breath ghosting Nageki's neck.
"I love you, my destined one."
Nageki smiled, and in his exhaustion induced euphoria sighed
"I love you too, my Guardian Angel"
Nageki still didn't understand time as he used to, but he had decided that it didn't matter, so long as there were days like May 9th and nights like December 12th that he could remember. He actually decided he preferred it this way, the meaningless hours and days and month blurring into nothingness while Anghel paints pictures using the few precious poignant moments left in the world. It was simply how it was, and how it was meant to be.