Mikleo knew he was in trouble. He knew because Gramps told Sorey to wait outside, the human's expression somewhat panicked as the door closed between them. He knew because Gramps kept his back turned even as he sat beside the fire and fell quiet for far too long. He knew he was in trouble but he had no idea what he'd done. He and Sorey hadn't even ventured off into the ruins that day. They'd been doing school work just as Gramps had asked them to. He could think of nothing to have caused the worried frown he'd seen on Sorey's face.
"Do you remember what I told you when your true name was revealed?" Gramps asked at last, his pipe laying idle in his hands.
This question did not illuminate anything for Mikleo. Under different circumstances, he might have considered it simply a quiz. Either way, it was an easy enough lesson to repeat. "You said true names have a special power that can bind a seraph to someone else's command and thus should not be freely disclosed. A true name is both a blessing and a curse in that it allows for very deep connections but does so through the surrender of certain powers of will. Seraphim must guard their true name to ensure it may never be used against them," Mikleo recalled, doing his best to be as precise as possible to the words used in the lecture he'd heard months ago.
Gramps nodded, seemingly pleased with his recitation. With his pipe, he gestured out towards the ash on the edges of his hearth. "Do you want to explain, then, why this is what I found Sorey practicing his penmanship on?"
Mikleo didn't even need to look. Context was enough to tell him exactly what was scratched into the ash and a cold weight settled in his gut as he waited, hands clenching against his thighs. There was nothing really to say except, quietly, "He thought it sounded pretty."
Gramps drew deeply from his pipe and exhaled the trails of smoke out through his nose. He was a very patient guardian but it was obvious it was a harder virtue to maintain at the moment. It was not anger in his face that Mikleo was fearful of, though. Gramps didn't look angry, he looked disappointed. Mikleo would have much preferred anger to that. He tried so hard to make his guardian proud.
"Do you understand what it means to give someone, especially a human, your true name?" he asked at length.
It was hard not to blush and thus Mikleo turned his head. He nodded minutely, feeling self conscious under his stare.
Gramps sighed loudly, raking his fingers through the ash to erase the trouble writings. "You're young, Mikleo. Both of you are. I don't mean to imply that Sorey would ever misuse the power you've given him, but the consequences of such actions were not meant for ones as young as the two of you to contend with."
Mikleo's face felt all the redder as embarrassment and shame uncomfortably mixed. "It's not.. I mean... it's Sorey. It would be weird not to have him know. We don't keep secrets from each other."
"Your true name is not just a secret, Mikleo. It is, at its core, you in your entirety. And you have given all of yourself to a boy who is not yet mature enough to appreciate such a gift." The older seraphim shook his head, his heavy brows hanging low over his eyes. "You are both so eager to grow up," he muttered. "And while I did not think to prepare either of you for an understanding of such intimacies, I cannot say I am entirely surprised either. Sorey and I will have words. As for you, Mikleo.... It goes no further than this. Promise me this is where it ends."
"Where what ends?" Mikleo asked, his curiosity winning out over his other warring emotions.
Gramps frowned. "Sorey will soon be entering a very trying part of his human development. Where you were granted a true name, his progression will be much more.... physical. Promise me you will not share in his physical maturity in the same way he has shared in your own progression."
Mikleo nodded even though he didn't quite understand. It seemed a serious enough request not to simply obey regardless of what it meant. He was sure it'd be made clear before too long.
His blind agreement seemed enough for the time being. Gramps puffed on his pipe again and gestured for Mikleo to rise. "Send Sorey in as you leave. He's undoubtedly waiting for you just outside the door."
Mikleo nodded again, bowing his head as he hurried to leave, his footsteps however weighed down with his guilt. It felt like an eternity before he finally opened the door into the orange light of a setting sun. Sorey was indeed standing there, looking more miserable than Mikleo had imagined.
"I'm so sorry!" he rushed to say, his green eyes brimming with tears even as his cheeks were already stained in the trails of those spent.
Mikleo forced a smile, not wanting to make him feel as though he too was upset. "It's not your fault," he assured him quietly as he held the door open. "Gramps wants to see you too, though."
Sorey took a deep breath, wiping his face off on his sleeve. He looked absolutely devastated and that, more than anything, broke Mikleo's heart. He leaned forward, his lips close to his friend's ear, as he made sure his whisper would be heard by only him. "I'm glad you know my name," he assured him. And with a hiccup, Sorey looked over and smiled.
No matter what Gramps thought or how he seemed to understand it, for Mikleo there were no regrets.