|Grey Angel, Bright Love
Author: Solanio PM
A crisis of faith comes to Fiona. Her distance from Grace comes not from jealously of Man, but for her love of one man.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Supernatural/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,748 - Published: 01-11-05 - id: 2214810
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"I'll be home on time, promise." Paul said this, kissing Fiona's hair, brushing its thick glossy grey strands back away from her face so he could kiss her there as well.
"You say that every morning." Fiona batted his hand away, smiling. She knew him well enough. "Just try to make it home in time for dinner. Remember, I invited Debbie, from work, and her new boyfriend. It would be nice if you could be here, on time, dressed nicely. I'm making tofu casserole, your favorite."
"Debbie has a new boyfriend? Hope springs eternal. Am I going to like this guy? Wait a second. Tofu casserole?"
"I was kidding. It's tuna. The important thing is that Debbie likes him, and that he likes her. We're just here to do our part." Fiona straightened his tie. Paul had terrible taste in ties, but that was part of his charm. When he smiled and turned to leave. Fiona grabbed his pony-tail and gave it a gentle tug.
He turned. "Right. Look, I did promise that I'd meet the guys for a game after work. But it's a quick game. I'll be back, on time, and showered..." Fiona's smug annoyed patient impatient expression, a contradictory yet commonplace mix of love and derision made him stop and reflect. Paul looked to the house next door, sensing without seeing. The neighbor, Mrs. Cortez was watching. He smiled and waved at her. She just stared back. "It's the county championship," Paul said, smiling through clenched teeth. "We have to get ready."
Fiona's reply was soft and gentle, yet edged with that bitter tincture that coloured it final. "Debbie really likes this one."
Paul could argue, but he wouldn't. He often thought about refusing, but he never did. He understood that the dinner had been planned and that Fiona usually let him get away with as much frisbee golf as the day would allow and a man could ask for. He nodded, already leaping ahead to the excuses he would give to his team. He just hoped he could convince the guys that it was his idea and not his wife's.
He leaned over and kissed Fiona, grabbing her and pulling her into his chest. His mouth fell over hers, her body falling backwards, yet held in suspension, floating in his arms. His grey moustache tickled her nose. He leaned down and whispered, "I'll be there."
She smiled and yanked his ponytail as a signal to let her up.
Feeling the neighbors eyes on his back again, Paul set his wife back on her feet. In doing so, he felt a twinge in his back. "Oooh."
Fiona shook her head as she wiped her mouth, laughing. "My sad back Valentino."
"It's not the years honey, it's the... Ah! I'll have to see the bone cracker tomorrow. Hope he can fit me in without an appointment. Or maybe," he glanced back at Mrs. Cortez, "You don't suppose she's got a doll of me and is sticking needles into it?" he asked, jokingly turning back to Fiona.
"Here, let me see it."
He turned and she put her hands on his lower back. Paul felt a warmth and his back felt better. Fiona had a way about her. He always claimed she could be a psychic healer, but she always scoffed at such suggestions.
"Thanks, hon. You still got the touch." He kissed her again, this time on the cheek, and hopped off the porch to mount his bright green bicycle.
Fiona looked at Carlotta Cortez scowling. The woman jumped, crossed herself. Her bright print blouse was soon only a breeze through her doorway. Fiona's harsh glance disappeared the moment she turned back to Paul.
"Hurry, you'll be late." she smiled. She could see Carlotta's eye staring out of her window.
"Anyone ever tell you you get more beautiful every day?"
Fiona blinked, as if startled. She laughed but he meant it. Fiona gave her husband a phony smile and glanced back at Carlotta, who was still staring out of her bathroom window, trying to stay hidden behind the blinds.
He waved as he pedaled off. She waved back, watching his ridiculous tie bounce along with each uneven bump in the road.
Paul glanced at his neighbors house as he passed, wondering why the old woman had taken a dislike to him. It wasn't sudden, as in overnight. The feeling had been coming on for years. Though they had been neighbors for near thirty years, in subtle and now, not so subtle ways, like the way she stared at him when he was out walking with Fiona, not waving back, Paul realized that he had done something. He just couldn't figure out what. Maybe when his frisbee banged her front door. But back then, she had laughed and tossed it back. She seemed much nicer back then. He couldn't think of what he'd done to offend her. He'd even taken her some of Fiona's excellent organic lemon bread, which Carlotta used to love, only to see her throw it away uneaten when she thought no one was watching. What the hell. Maybe she was getting crotchety.
But Paul wasn't the object of Carlotta Cortez's scrutiny. Though he couldn't see it, she was in fact, still staring at Fiona.
Fiona got off the bus before it made its turn on Front Street, before its final stop at the Metro Station. It was another hot day, the sky cloudless and blue. She looked up, her hat shielding her face, staring right at the sun. Then remembering, she put her hand over her eyes. No one was around, so she tried to walk fast, but not look like she was walking fast as she hurried into the store, out of the sunlight.
The makeup clerks, trying to ignore customers as much as possible by appearing busy in an unoccupied aisle, participated in a favorite clerk pastime, making fun of customers, fabricating stories about them.
"There she is," Heather whispered. "Shhh."
"Who, the one in the hat?" Michelle tried to peek around the end cap.
Heather pulled Mandy down. "Don't look. Shh." Both of them started to giggle.
"God, she's beautiful, her face, I mean," Mandy observed, peeking at Fiona shopping for hair care products.
"She's OK," Heather said, with a hint of jealousy. Young women like Heather weren't supposed to be in competition with geriatrics. Their time was over; but even Heather had to admit, when regarding Fiona, beauty was an understatement. There was just an air about the woman.
"She's been coming in here for years. She buys all these hair dyes. I saw her once at Kamian's, near where I used to live with my dad. She was buying them there too."
Mandy peeked again. She could see the telltale grey wisps peeking out underneath the hat. Most of Fiona's hair had been tied up, and stuffed into the hat, almost as if to hide it.
"She buys all these different colours, but she never uses them I think. I think she dies her hair grey - can you believe it? Why would anyone do that?"
"How do you know she's not really grey? My dad, he went grey when he was in his twenties." Mandy looked again.
Fiona walked with a subtle hint of a full figure and tiny waist, padded ridiculously full as if she were trying to hide it. In summer, all the extra clothing only made Fiona stand out.
"Because, when you see her without her hat, she has blonde roots. And she never uses any of the colours she buys. And that's not all. I think she draws those lines in her face. When you look at her close, you realize they're fake."
"Well, no way that woman is as old as you said she is. She's like my dad. I'll bet she's like forty." The age Mandy was really thinking was almost half that figure.
"No, Linda who works the registers said she saw her license when she wrote a cheque. She said she's 55."
"Shh, she's coming!"
Mandy and Heather pretended to be busy, fiddling with products. Fiona passed them, determined to not shop at Long's anymore. She would have to go farther, maybe to Watsonville or San Jose in order to shop where she was not known. She had let it go too long. She had been careless.
On the way out of the store, men glanced admiringly at her, seeing hints of her figure even under the unflattering padding of her dress. Fiona began to wonder the wisdom of having Debbie and her boyfriend over. What if he stared at Fiona? Men seemed to always stare at her when she went out. At first, she took it for granted. A few caught a very rude and frightening comeuppance for some rather saucy remarks once. But of late, she didn't even bother to deal with these for fear of Daria. It was better to just stay at home.
If only she could convince Paul to move. But he had a good job, friends he had known for years. At first, Fiona had liked it in Santa Cruz as well. Valnum had given her and her human refuge. But Valnum was gone. Where on Earth could the two of them find peace enough to just live together now? From what she'd heard, Fiona doubted very much that Daria would allow Fiona the same freedoms. Fiona could already hear the wing beats of the Inquisitors as they came to take her away. And then what would happen to Paul?
"Penny for your thoughts?"
Fiona saw the shadows, wings and a bike. That ofanim always came up out of nowhere like that. He was fast as the wind, and just as elusive and invisible when he wanted to be.
"At your service, my lady. Though, according to Daria's last edict, I think it should be the other way around. I'm a mighty Throne, may I remind you. You are merely a Power. Daria would have it that we show some of the same respects and 'courtesies' as she calls them, that we find in Heaven. She sent out a memo to that effect."
"Daria can have the courtesy of kissing my rump," Fiona said. Noting her shadow, "I'd better get out of the Sun. Is this a social call or are you here to tell me something?"
"How's your human?"
"He's fine. He's good." Fiona sighed, relieved that Winston just wanted to chat.
"He's getting on in years, a bit. Don't you think?"
Fiona glanced back, to see if anyone was nearby. She walked away and indicated that Winston should follow her. Winston walked his bike as Fiona and he strolled along the path that followed the course of the San Lorenzo River. The brooding imposing Victorians of Beach Hill loomed nearby while distant screams and the rackety sound of the roller coaster from the Boardwalk drifted up the river from the sea. As they walked, their bodies cast winged shadows on the ground.
"You have a point?" Fiona asked.
"I'm just trying to think of you, Fiona. Let's forget about Dominic's inquisition, and the fact that Daria is Dominic's servant. Your man is growing old. You are not."
"I'm disguising it," Fiona said, the lie leaving a tinny stain of tarnish upon the closer strands of the Symphony.
Winston touched her hair where is showed from underneath the hat. From his fingers grew blonde luxuriance, the colour of gathered wheat, radiant in the strong sunlight.
"Why did you do that!" Fiona moved her hat to cover what Winston had done.
"I'm trying to make you see the obvious. Maybe you can fool Paul. But others notice you. What are you going to do when Paul is sixty, or seventy, or eighty?"
"He's my husband."
"Your husband? He's the husband of the woman your vessel would have been had she lived. He loves someone that isn't real. You are not that woman. You are a Power of the Second Triad of Heaven."
Fiona watched a heron stalking fish in the shallows by some reeds where the river bent and its current slowed to a lazy pace. "I tried to leave him, but... You don't understand, Winston. When I awakened, there was so much life we had together. That was a part of me already. To leave him, it would have killed him. He's quite an innocent, you know. He's strong in some ways, but so fragile in others. I couldn't do that to him. He has such a short life. Why can't I just be there for him until he's gone?"
What Fiona did not say was that she dreaded that day and prayed it would never come. Had she known the songs, she would have sung them to stretch time out before Paul so that he could walk the ages with her, regardless of the consequences. Perhaps Winston sensed that she was speaking partly for herself, for her own fragility and affection. But since hers was a talent for balance, equilibrium, she had no such radical power to forestall the death that would someday take Paul down a different path where she could not follow him. Fiona grew near to despair and bitterness when she considered that the disgraced Grigori could become human if they wished. But this simple grace, a curse most elohim called it, was denied to her kind. She truly wished that she had never awakened. She could have gone on for a lifetime in her vessel. Sometimes it happened - elohim would fail to awaken, living out a mortal life until they reformed in Heaven after their vessel's death. Such would have been paradise. She could have stood by her man, part of Time instead apart from it, never dreading the day when it would come to end.
"Well, I wish you well," Winston said. "Valnum would have let you live your life. I think he felt one life was not too much to ask of a loyal daemon."
"But Daria won't be so kind, of course," Fiona nodded. "I'm thinking of taking Paul to Los Angeles," she suddenly confessed. She would think of a reason, tricking him with a trip to Disneyland that they would not come back from. The City of Angels had been claimed by the legions of Hell. Few elohim would dare or bother to look for her there. But she would be taking an enormous chance. If the Fallen discovered her, she and Paul would come to a very bad end.
"You might not have to leave," Winston told her.
"What do you mean?"
"I had a run in with some demons. Ones new to town." He nodded, seeing the expression in her eyes. "You heard about what happened to Sarah?"
Fiona shook her head. She tried as hard as possible to ignore elohite affairs, preferring her mortal life.
"They're making a move on Daria. Sarah was the bait. They have evidence of her true nature and are threatening to reveal it. Sarah and her crowd are going after it. Daria's brought in reinforcements but I think the Enemy was expecting that. There's going to be blood spilled. They want us neutral."
There was something being left unsaid. "And the renegades? The runners?"
Winston shook his head. Valnum had given shelter to more than outcast elohim. The rule in Heaven was there could be no forgiveness for the Fallen. They were damned utterly and irrevocably, even those who came into being after the War of Wrath. Valnum had not seen it that way. He had offered refuge to demons who had left Hell. As long as they respected life and tried to aspire to their elohite natures, however long forgotten or unused, he would help them to the redemption he believed they could and should be able to attain. Being a powerful archon, Valnum had kept the peace. He had kept the Enemy at bay, often helped by those same demons he had sheltered. Now that he was gone, the hunters from Hell had arrived. Part of their agenda was to round up strays and deal with them accordingly.
Fiona shook her head. So that was the deal. They would remain neutral, let the demons take care of Daria in return for a free hand to round up renegades, beings who were as much hunted and outcast as Fiona would be once Daria felt free to act.
Winston shook his head. He didn't seem to much like it either. "What's the human expression?" he asked her. "Damned if we do?"
"Damned if we don't," she finished for him.
story by Solanio
For those that don't have their copy of Summa Theologica handy, thrones, powers, and grigori are some of the choirs of angels.