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Falling from Grace

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It was the hardest decision he'd ever made. It flew against all of society's traditions, but he wouldn't be the first, nor the last, to break away. He probably wasn't even the first person today to break the law, or at least contemplate it. But that wasn't the important part. He only followed the law because of what it could get him, and he thought he'd reached his zenith. He'd thought he'd been as close as he could get.

If he couldn't touch the moon then he'd be the sun and cast his light upon it, and know that what he did had some effect even if he was held at a careful distance.

But being the sun wasn't good enough anymore. It never had been, but at least society had let him pretend. Now society was falling apart and he was falling with it.

It was a gamble. The Earthians would say he didn't have a prayer in heaven. He knew prayer wouldn't help him. All he had was the actions of a few rebellious kids and hope. It was a faint hope, but it was there, breeding in a corner of his chest like a sick disease and he'd regret it forever if he didn't at least try.

No one had ever accuse him of lacking in courage. Now was his chance to prove them right. Still, a lifetime of loyalty was hard to turn away from, but he couldn't keep pretending anymore.

He didn't want to.

Michael took it harder than he thought. Raphael saw that as a good sign.

"What is this?" Michael asked, a full five minutes after he'd finished reading the paper.

"My resignation." It was hard for him to say, but he kept his voice controlled. He'd had years at practice at keeping all of his inner turmoil out of his voice. "And a notice of divorce."

"But..." That seemed to be all Michael could say. He looked... heartbroken. Stricken was probably a more apt adjective, but Raphael's mind seemed to be stuck on wishful thinking.

They stared silently at each other across Michael's desk. Never before had the distance seemed so vast. He waited, knowing there was more they both had to say but he was also a little reluctant to break the silence. They were in limbo now, and if he spoke then that would be it. He'd be cast out, either to heaven or hell, metaphorically, and he knew which one it was going to be. He wished things were different. He hoped things would be different, but he couldn't find it in himself to put any faith on that hope.

"Who's taking you?" Michael broke the silence, his eyes suddenly serious. This was his administrator face, the one that meant he was going to get what he wanted and no wasn't an option. "Which department are they transferring you to?" What Michael didn't say was 'because they can't have you', but Raphael could hear it in the space between Michael's breath.

It was the first logical assumption Michael could jump to. Unfortunately, it was also wrong.

"I'm not being transferred. I'm leaving." He couldn't quite believe how cold his voice sounded. Was this the way others saw him? As the cold, authoritative administrator? Or did they think of him more as Michael's guardian, his stoic, imperturbable aid?

He could see Michael's brain working, sorting through all the possible implications except the one that was correct.

"Retiring? So soon? How can you... where will you go?"

He'd hoped, when he first came up with this crazy last-ditch effort, that it wouldn't be this hard. For some reason, he'd thought Michael would instantly know what this was all about and that he'd understand, at least a little.

"It's not retirement," he stressed, hoping that Michael might finally get it. "I'm leaving Eden.... I'm sorry."

Michael's eyes got suddenly very wide and he looked like he had when his sister died. "You're... you're falling?" The words were said barely above a whisper, as if he were afraid of someone hearing. Or maybe Michael was just afraid that saying them aloud would make it real, more real than it already was with all the legal documents that said Raphael was removing himself from society sitting on Michael's desk.

He could understand Michael's shock. Out of all the people who could fall, he was one of the least likely to.

It was his last and only chance.

Michael stood, his chair grating harshly against the wood. His hands slammed down on the desk and suddenly Michael was angry – furious. It was comforting to know he could evoke that kind of emotion.

"But you can't. You can't fall. Don't. Take it back. There's still time. You can take it back."

He wasn't quite sure when Michael had come around to the front of the desk. Raphael just knew he was there, gripping the front of Raphael's shirt as if he could hold Raphael in Eden by strength alone.

Michael wasn't that strong, but it was tempting. His instincts told him to give in, to make Michael happy. All it would take was a few words and he could go back to living his life at Michael's side.

If he did that, nothing would change. He would gain nothing.

It wouldn't work. It couldn't. Not anymore. He needed this.

It was hard to resist temptation when it was standing right in front of him.

"I'm sorry," he said again and Michael's face fell then, before he said anything else. He knew. Raphael felt the need to explain anyways. "I have to." The words were offered as an excuse even though he knew there was no excuse. He knew his feelings were wrong but he clung to them anyways. "I can't stay like this. It's unfair – to all of us, and it'd be hypocritical of me to stay with you and enforce the laws in my current state. It just won't work."

"But..."

He couldn't argue anymore. He'd said what he needed to, and though Michael didn't understand yet, he would. There wasn't anything more he could say.

Leaning forward, he sealed his doom with a kiss.