I didn't know how long my Dad hugged me. It couldn't have been much more than a couple minutes but it felt like an eternity to me. It was nice. I could genuinely not remember the last time my Dad hugged me. It was at least from before Mom's death.
He was apologizing over and over, sobbing into my wings, as emotions held back for far too long broke out. I tried to assure him that everything was alright but nothing but quiet sobs left my lips either.
Eventually he let go of me, sorrow, regret but also relief in his eyes.
"T-Taylor." He swallowed, trying to search for the right words. "We need to talk. About different things, about what happened."
"I know," I quietly answered. I wasn't looking forward to this talk, but it was unavoidable. "Not here though."
I spread out my wings and – with some gratification – watched my father marvel at them.
Hopefully the eyes weren't too off-putting to him.
"Let's go home." Some of the exhaustion I was feeling seeped into my words, all the things that happened these last days, all the things that I did these last days, finally catching up to me.
Every cell in my body ached, my wings, skin and clothes were dirtied by sweat, blood and dust. I was pretty sure I could even see some remnants of brain matter on the lower tip of my lower left wing, the one I had driven through the van and driver.
Getting home was a more difficult process than one would've thought. I obviously couldn't just grab him and fly to our house, might as well officially write in the address books Nephilim lived here. I guess I could have waited for the night or something, but to be honest, I simply did not feel like waiting that long.
I wanted to go home. I wanted to hug my dad. I wanted to sleep without having to jump to help abducted children, without punishing any sinners. I needed a long hot shower, or better yet a nice hot bath.
There were still organ pieces smeared all over me for Christ's sake!
And my Dad was pretty aware of that, apparently. Whether because I looked like shit or because he just got an intimate look on my soul, I didn't know. Luckily, there was an easy solution I had not quite considered.
See, the hospital couldn't actually keep my Dad here. Physically he was healthy as he had not been in a long time. Now, while they could probably think up some medical jargon to justify keeping him here, issue was, even the layest of laypersons could tell that Dad had triggered – his invulnerable skin a rather clear giveaway – and it was generally a poor decision to try to stand in the way of a freshly triggered cape. If he really wanted something, the doctors and nurses of this hospital knew better than to do anything that would make them the proverbial nail, to the trauma victim's sparkling new para-hammer. Metaphorically speaking, of course – very little parahumans got a hammer-related power after all.
Doctors knew this fact of life better than almost anyone else, as, after all, they had to treat victims of capes, both gang rivals or innocents pretty much every single day. Chances were high that they would let him go, call the PRT who'd then monitor him and contact him at a later day.
And honestly, I was fine with that and so was he.
This was how I found myself walking home with him not even an hour later. Dad had given me his coat, or well, the one he had "requested" from the hospital, since his didn't quite survive the accident. Squeezing my wings underneath had been a challenge, and to be honest made me look rather fat, but it was a workable solution. Same with my eyes. Having all but the two "normal" ones closed looked almost like I had normal skin and not the eldritch craterland my body actually was… If no one looked too closely.
Luckily my Dad was more than up to the task of making sure no one did, his furious, positively murderous eyes and stance assuring that any and all glances stayed just that. People in Brockton Bay knew to not get the attention of some tall angry guy who seemed one spilled coffee away from a homicide.
I knew for one that it was an act to distract attention away from myself, but jeez was it strange to think about Dad in those terms. He was a big teddy bear, even if he did manage to pull scary impressions quite decently.
Probably had a lot of experience with that in his job.
The first thing I did when I came home was not getting myself a sandwich or some juice, even though I started to notice hunger crawling its way up my sides. It was honestly astonishing that it wasn't worse, as I had barely eaten some bacon in the last couple days, some of which Uriel made me throw away.
I guess angels or rather half angels had different nutritional needs than humans.
No, the first thing I did was to slump face down on our couch, bury my face in the pillows and groan, wishing I could just fall asleep right down there. I knew I couldn't. I needed to shower all this gore off me, explain the situation to Dad, pray that Scion doesn't destroy the world etc, etc. But the prospect sounded really, reeaallly good right now. And Dad looked about ready to just let me, sitting down next to me. He looked barely less done than me.
Still, it wouldn't have been fair. My Dad deserved an explanation, more than what he got from a filtered look at my soul. He deserved the full story, from my mouth.
I admittedly had my worries about that. I had done so many things that my father would disapprove, no, that he would find abhorrent. I had bound my soul to an eldritch cosmic entity, warping and shaping it into something almost unrecognizable.
I had killed. Multiple times. I heard stories online of how killing someone was supposed to take away a part of your innocence, change you forever. I hadn't felt anything when I had killed those people. No revulsion, no horror, no terrible realisation of my childhood lost forever more. There also had been no great sense of relief or satisfaction at the gory butchery either.
The most I could describe it to was the empty feeling one had when one accidentally stepped on some gross insect.
I was happy about the children saved, knew the need to make the city better, but the act itself?
Not even a hint of conscience flashing up in protest.
"So, Dad." How should I start this… "You know the Bible pretty well, right? You used to go to church before the accident." I remembered him lightheartedly teasing mom over it whenever we went.
He for his part just gave me a weird look and nodded, obviously being confused about the seeming non sequitur.
"Do you know of Uriel, the Archangel? Like, the Biblical one?" With every word said I grew more timid. I sounded ridiculous.
"Uriel is not from the Bible." My Dad stated quickly, causing me to blush. "Sweety, where are you going with this?" Concern was audible in his voice. His eyes flicked up and down over my wings and all the many, many eyes. "Your powers… They look like they took inspiration from the Holy Book, eh?" He asked me in a joking voice with a smirk on his face. A smirk that quickly disappeared when I didn't laugh or say anything.
"In a way…" URIEL HELP ME I CAN'T DO THIS. HE'LL THINK I'M CRAZY. YOU CAN PUPPET MY BODY! TALK THROUGH MY MOUTH AND EXPLAIN IT TO HIM!
(I was not freaking out, I wasn't!)
"I will not. Me taking you over right now will only lead to a negative impression with your father. Tell him. He will believe you. You can do it."
"Taylor." My father hesitated for a moment. "If you… aren't ready to tell me yet, then I can wait." He clearly wanted to know what was going on with me, it was obvious even to me who is hardly good at reading other people. He wanted to help me, I knew, but he couldn't do that if he did not know what was going on with me.
I really didn't have any choice here, did I? Closing my eyes, I breathed in, counted to ten and then started speaking.
I began with the bullying. Of how my relationship with Emma turned first distant and then ugly. His face turned darker and darker with every little "prank", insult and attack on me recounted.
When I told him of the locker he abruptly stood up walking to the wall that separated our living room and kitchen and punched it once, pulverizing a good five meters of wall and sending a labyrinth of cracks through the entire western side of our house. Water ran out through a good chunk of them, indicating that Dad had pulped a good number of pipes in the process. All the lights went out as well.
Ignoring all that, he walked back and sat down before me, wordlessly gesturing at me to continue. And, after staring at all the damage with very wide eyes for a couple seconds, I did. I told him off how I had earnestly prayed for help, half dead and mad from the waste and insects splattered over me.
I told him of how Uriel answered, he himself in a horrible shape as, how I would find out later, he had just been in a horrific battle. How I, thinking him to be nothing more than a delusion, accepted him.
How he calmed my terror in the prison that I found myself shoved into, how he extinguished my nightmares in the hospital in the coming weeks and replaced them with sweet nothingness.
How wings began to sprout on my back as our symbiosis continued to deepen in the weeks after I was released. Of my first use of Intellectus, of my denial about what I had become, about what Uriel was.
How I accidentally pulped the trio. How I fought the PRT. How I killed the ABB goons and that pedophile. How I felt nothing over those acts.
I told him even about Scion, but somehow the truth that the world's greatest "hero" was an eldritch monster out to harvest humanity for its knowledge and souls was an afterthought to all the things that had come before.
Danny remained silent for most of it. He looked astonished for a good chunk of it, especially the early parts, then enraged and then his face shut down into a stoic mask.
When I reached the end my voice was rough and I felt my eyes begin to fill with tears, first a couple then a flood, as my sentences became a garbled mess.
I barely even really registered it when my Dad hugged me, or how I slung my arms and wings around him and just started sobbing again.
Of how I let all the pain and the anguish, not just of the past weeks but all the misery buried into me ever since Mom had died.
Or how the exhaustion of two days of action, of fighting, of my nerves being fried over and over by being the conduit for Uriel, finally caught up with me and how my body slipped into a sleep I had thought no longer necessary within my father's arms, a warmth in me that I had not felt in a long long time.
Danny was careful when he walked up the creaking stairs up to Taylor's room. Holding her in his arms, her wings still wrapped around him, her endless eyes still open, still coated in blood and gore she made for a sight that wouldn't have been out of place in a horror movie.
He found out that he didn't care. Opening the door to her room – which was thankfully on the other side of the house from the one he had totalled – he gently laid her down onto her bed, detangling himself from her wings with the utmost care.
"I know you can hear me." He said to Uriel, the Archangel that was living inside his daughter's soul. The abomination whose shade he had seen in her eyes. "If you do anything to hurt her, I swear, then not even your Father will be able to stop me from coming after you."
It was an empty threat really, at least at face value. He didn't care. He wouldn't allow anyone to hurt his baby girl anymore, be it gangsters, the PRT, Archangels or the almighty Lord himself.
God, he needed to punch something. He just hoped it would not break as easily as a house.