“I’m not, y’know.” Fiore ventures, after spending quite a substantial amount of time Not Talking to Deblanc.
Can you blame him, though?
It’s insulting, is what it is.
He’s done things. Maybe not the kind of things Deblanc has done, the kind of recklessness and debauchery your common or garden demon might get up to over the centuries, but that doesn’t mean he’s not got experience.
Or this is what he tells himself.
Deblanc is the irresponsible one. Not him.
“I’m not a baby. Whatever that even means.” He continues. He has a general idea of what it might entail, mostly amounting to not good enough.
“Forget about it.” Deblanc says, as though that’s even an option.
How can he forget, when that half-second’s touch remains burned into him? IN that moment, Deblanc took something from him, something small and unknowable. Fiore cannot shake the suspicion that he is no longer himself, no longer part of a whole.
Perhaps it had been coming on for a while, ever since Raguel left them here, but this new development solidifies it. Fiore, quite frankly, is aghast. He slips the bonds of his body over and over again and hopes, in vain, that when he returns to tangibility he will be made anew, washed clean.
This does not happen. The wound, if he permits himself to call it that, remains.
Out of the demon’s sight, Fiore presses his own fingers against that spot, and the memory sharpens. Gains cadence, colour. He repeats the motion.
Over the years, he grows to cherish it. (This, he is almost certain, is yet another sin.)
He supposes, though, that he is not the first angel to have a secret.
That’s what worries him.
“What is that?” He’s tried to keep his mouth shut, really he has. His eardrums can only stand so much, it seems.
“It’s a song.” Deblanc is half turned towards him, the rest of his attention on Genesis, which is hurling itself with abandon against the confines of the domicile. Deblanc making those…sounds were apparently an attempt to calm the creature. It hadn’t been working, and Fiore’s interruption has only intensified Genesis’ latest tantrum.
“I beg to differ.” That gets Fiore a full turn. Oh dear.
“Now who’s rude?” Deblanc murmurs, after a few moments of pointed silence and staring. Fiore feels his wings twitch with discomfort, and it takes him a moment to realise it’s one of those questions he isn’t supposed to answer. Which, probably, is a good thing. “Hmm. Thought as much.” Taking his silence for acquiescence, Deblanc makes as if to return to whatever it was he was doing, but Fiore can’t quite accept that for the relief that it should be.
Fiore has lived with the Song his entire life. Its chords and strains have been a constant to him, a way of making sense of the ceaseless fight. Ever he has turned himself inward, seeking heaven’s voice. He has built and he has slaughtered, time and again. He has known truth and righteousness in the swell of sound rising within and around him. And now, he stands here, sundered from anything that makes even the slightest bit of sense, and the thought that this demon, this fallen, craven imitation of the glory of God, has any idea what the Song might mean…
It is more than he can rightly bear. “You’ve no right.” He tells the demon. His voice is quiet, not the accusation he wants it to be.
“What d’you mean?” Deblanc asks. This question, Fiore thinks, is genuine.
“You…” The words won’t come. Deblanc’s black gaze is needling him again, hard and steadily. He wonders what it would be, to fall form a great height, and not to fly. He thinks that this might be the closest to that he will ever come. In a rush to get away from that thought, Fiore finds his voice. “You make a mockery of the voice of heaven. You act as though you aren’t as you are. You say things are that aren’t, and do things you’ve said you won’t. And then…then you claim to know the Song, and you don’t. You make me…”
“Angry?” Deblanc offers. He’d like the thought of that, Fiore suspects. To drive an angel of the lord to fury.
“No.” Fiore forces this out by way of protest rather than fact. Then, an admission. “Tired.”
(It’s not quite the proper word, but it’s the closest Fiore can get.)
Deblanc sets back on his heels, and it’s then Fiore realises that he has failed in his duty. He has revealed himself, and more besides. Fiore half expects the sharp trill of the phone ringing, to hear the heavy reverberation of heaven’s disappointment. That he would be so weak, so stupid-
A strange sound interrupts Fiore’s thoughts. At first he thinks it must be Genesis, growing bored with wails and screeches, testing new ways to do battle with the nerves of its distracted Custodians. But it’s not. The sound, a deep whoosh of air, slow and heavy, came from Deblanc.
When Fiore looks over at the demon, Deblanc is the one to glance quickly away. Not knowing quite how to take that, Fiore moves to the entryway, and places his back to the room. He doesn’t want to hear that sound again, even if he can’t work out why, or what it even was. “It’s not proper.” He tells the empty air in front of him. “Singing to the…to Genesis.”
“Well, I certainly didn’t set out to offend your delicate sensibilities, my dear.” On the surface, the words are Deblanc all over- heavy with mockery and far too close for comfort.
On the other hand, there’s a certain cautiousness there.
“Thing is though, he likes it. Calms him down.” Deblanc is speaking as though to himself, but Fiore knows the words are meant for all of them. “It’s not as if you lot have cornered the market.” On a haughty rustle of Fiore’s wings, Deblanc hastens to elaborate. “It’s true. I mean…well, earth’s got a lot of songs.”
“I suppose I’ll have to take your word for that. You slip off there often enough.” Fiore says, glad to be given the opportunity to return to somewhat familiar ground. “And what would you know about truth?”
Deblanc appears in front of him with alarming speed. The what? is unspoken. Unnecessary.
“Like I said.” Fiore begins, because he’s right about this, he’s sure he is. “You. Saying one thing. Doing another.”
Promising to stay, and leaving.
“You mean lying?” Deblanc says after a moment.
Fiore takes a moment to consider this. It draws on a bit. They’re inside again, facing one another across the table. “If that’s the word for it, then yes, I suppose.”
“Well, what can I say?” Deblanc is amused again, or acting as though he is. “It’s sort of part of the job description.”
“Which job?” Fiore says pointedly.
Between them, Genesis is still making quite a racket. “Look at him.” Deblanc says, and once Fiore realises he’s the one being addressed, he directs his gaze to the Domicile. “We’re here to look after him, yes? Protect him, and the cosmos, from what might happen if the secret got out. Where’d we be without a few untruths?”
“I…I suppose.” Fiore answers at length. He can see the logic in what Deblanc is saying, right enough, but it’s as though they’re sidestepping around the real issue, both of them afraid to poke at it lest it snap up and bite them.
(The nature of the problem, Fiore will come to realise, is trust. Trust, and that they are not ready for it.)
“There we are then.” Deblanc is looking at him sideways. “Have a go, if you like.”
“I shall not.” Fiore says, appalled. Deblanc might be right about the necessity of untruths, but the idea of wilfully telling one….it’s out of the question. For one of God’s anointed, pure in thought and word and deed, it may as well be impossible.
“I don’t see-”
“You might find you need to. Best to get some practice in now.”
Fiore looks down at his hands. The wound on his arm is aching, hollow. He ought to walk away. He ought not to let Deblanc bait him. He ought not to start these arguments in the first place.
He ought not to do any number of things.
“I...want you to leave.” He says eventually.
Deblanc snorts. “Bloody minded lot, you angels. And they call us stubborn.” He makes as if to go through one of the new doorways. (Fiore has been experimenting with other rooms, thinking they might come in handy).
What is the demon talking about? “That was it.” Fiore protests, his wings twitching in agitation.
He’s bad at judging feelings, especially by expression. He knows this. It’s not something he’s ever had to do before, and Deblanc…well, as demons go, he’s one of the gnarlier ones. Everything about him is foreign to Fiore. Looking at the demon’s face, the furrowed brow, the lips pressed tight together- Fiore might hazard a guess at confusion, but that could just as easily be miles off.
Perhaps he ought to clarify, in any case. Wishes Deblanc would just say, if that is what’s happening. “The lie.”
“Then down from the sky came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty sail it seemed,
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought was a dreamed they’d dreamed,
Of sailing that beautiful sea…”
And, well, yes, alright. Perhaps Deblanc is right about the lying.
But not the song.
Thing is, if there’s one thing Fiore knows, its music.
Or, more precisely, the lack thereof.
He tries to simply think it up, really he does. Bends his mind to the task of creation, but it’s as though there’s a door there he’s yet to open, and this one simple thing remains stubbornly behind it.
Perhaps because he knows it precisely, this thing that they need. Can see the measurements and the components, as if he crafted it himself. He hadn’t, of course, but he’s seen it done. Eons ago. Shouldn’t be too hard to replicate.
It’s merely a problem of acquisition. With this in mind, Fiore turns his attention to the phone. Technically, he’s not supposed to call anyone without Raguel’s permission. Unless, like he told Deblanc back towards the beginning, it’s an emergency.
He thinks for a time, and decides that yes, this is.
With that thought settled, he makes a few alterations, and dials.
She answers on the third ring.
Once they’re done speaking, he puts down the receiver, looks up to find Deblanc staring at him.
“You’re not serious.” The demon says.
“Yes, I am.” Fiore replies simply.
“What makes you think you can trust this…”
“Lailah.” Fiore puts in, before Deblanc can mangle the name and offend the ears of the almighty. “We were born in the same chord.” He tells Deblanc, unsure if this will make his colleague understand. Genesis is babbling softly, seemingly to itself, and Deblanc makes soothing motions with his hands around the edges of the Domicile.
There is something strange in the air, a friction that wasn’t apparent before the call.
Perhaps its natural. It has always only been the three of them, together. Introducing another, however peripherally, is bound to change things.
“Look, its just an idea. She won’t know.” He
“Well then.” Deblanc says. He does not seem remotely content, but he doesn’t try to stop Fiore when he makes for the door. Lailah will leave the materials at the break between this plane and the next. She will never see the dwelling, or gather even an inkling about Genesis.
This will work, Fiore tells himself, keeping his hand on the hilt of his blade. It has to.
It’s a chance, however slim, for some kind of peace between them.
“A music box.” Deblanc says. He seems calm, considering that Fiore’s been gone quite a while.
Fiore has placed said item on the table where it sits across from the Domicile. He nods. He tries to keep his wings still, but he’s nervous and they just won’t stay the way he wants them. There’s still a chance this could have been for nothing.
“How’s it work?”
“Turn the handle. It’ll play anything you like. Matches the sound.” Fiore can’t help but be a little pleased with himself.
“Go on then.” Deblanc says, inclining his head towards Fiore. When Fiore hesitates, Deblanc gives the box a little push. “I can’t very well sing and wind. Besides- it’s right it should be you.”
“Why’s that?” Fiore asks.
Deblanc looks at him, the you’re-an-idiot look. That’s one of the one’s Fiore has memorised. “Cos. It’s yours.”