Ordinary Miracles
by Darth Stitch

DISCLAIMER: Trinity Blood was created by Yoshida Sunao (R.I.P.) and is now an anime directed by Tomohiro Hirata and produced by the studio GONZO. I'm just a poor schmuck who wanted to see more romance amongst the all the high adventure, action and intrigue. Yes, the title IS taken from the song "Ordinary Miracles" from the film Charlotte's Web. However, there aren't any talking pigs and wise spiders in this fic. Heh.

I made a mistake earlier and put up the lyrics for another, different song that incidentally had the same title! Barbara Streisand originally sung this one and I ended up liking the lyrics, so I'm letting them remain. Now I've added the correct lyrics from the Sarah McLachlan song as well in this edited version.

AUTHOR'S WARNINGS: Trinity Blood is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the Roman Catholic Church/the Vatican is portrayed as a military power as well as a spiritual one. The series also strongly implies major and controversial changes in the Church, such as women being bishops and cardinals as well as romantic relationships and quite possibly marriage between members of the clergy. If this disturbs you, do not read any further.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is a side story/in-between short fic in the Milk Tea & Thirteen Sugars series before we go back to the Massive Plot that's brewing. Btw, er… watch out for completely unashamed romantic fluff. A LOT of it. Prepare for sugar shock. Or tooth decay, possibly.


Isn't it remarkable like every time a raindrop falls
It's just another ordinary miracle today
Birds and winter have their fling but always make it home by spring
It's just another ordinary miracle today…

- "Ordinary Miracles," theme from Charlotte's Web, sung by Sarah McLachlan

Ordinary miracles,
One for every star,
No lightning bolt or clap or thunder
Only joy and quiet wonder,
Endless possibilities
Right before our eyes
Oh, see the way a miracle multiplies

- "Ordinary Miracles," sung by Barbara Streisand

1.The Past

Esther Blanchett has long learned to look for the ordinary miracles in life.

The Reverend Mother had the kind of faith that didn't need to be bolstered by Great Signs or mystical visions. It was something that she had taught Esther – to see the wonder of everything in the world, even the things that most people would take for granted, to see that special kind of grace, even in the most ordinary of people.

When the Reverend Mother had been killed, Esther had forgotten that lesson for a brief time, lost as she was in that burning need for vengeance, for justice. And when she'd been told that the Vatican was sending over a priest to replace the Reverend Mother, all she could think of was to pray that the man would be happily oblivious to what she and Dietrich would be planning or would help them achieve their goals.

When Esther first met Father Abel Nightroad, she pitied the sweet, innocent scatterbrain who looked so helpless and lost in the Marquis' palace. It wasn't fair that he had to be dragged into this but she'd learned bitterly that life wasn't fair and sometimes, one had to take things into their own hands to make it so. Let him be the parish priest then and feed the people of Istvan fairy tales about faith and hoping that things would turn out for the best. She knew just how painful it was to lose one's innocence – she had no wish to inflict that on anyone else. And truly, what would she tell him?

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have killed a man. He was a vampire, an unholy, monstrous creature. He killed someone who was very precious to me so what I did was just. I cannot regret what I did. I refuse to be sorry.

Ten thousand rosaries, an endless litany of Our Father's, Hail Mary's and Glory Be's would not be enough as penance. Not for the price of a life, no matter how wretched it may be.

And then, her entire world finally came to an end on that one night.

The Marquis' men came and Dietrich, her only friend, was shot like an animal right before her eyes. They burned down the church which had been the only home she'd ever known and no Angel of God came down that night to stop the flames, no survival of church relics, statues of the Blessed Virgin or the Christ to be found in the ruins, miraculously unscathed. There was absolutely nothing left but ash and broken stone and twisted metal.

And finally, Esther understood what it meant to have absolutely nothing left to lose.

She'd been prepared to die that night, to take up that gun and to go down fighting. It was Abel Nightroad who had saved her life then, in more ways than one. And yes, he'd stopped her from using that gun and yes, he'd told her that revenge was a useless venture. And somehow, she'd looked up at him and realized that these were no empty useless platitudes coming from an innocent Catholic priest. There was darkness in those wintry blue eyes and for the first time, Esther sensed that he'd been where she was now, in that dark place where there was nothing left but the rage and the pain.

He understood it only all too well.

What Esther remembered most were those simple words from him – Because I am your friend and I will always be on your side – and he'd given her something to hold on to simply by being there.

There were other amazing things that happened on that seemingly long, endless night but it was at that moment that Esther finally began to rediscover something that she thought she would never find again – her hope and her faith.

I am your friend. I will always be on your side.

On that long train ride back to Rome, Abel was the one who comforted her as she told him her story and held her through her tears and made her laugh with his jokes and gentle teasing, which included, among other things, remarks about her height. Or lack, thereof. Oh, how annoyed she'd been!

And that was when she began to really take stock of things that she hadn't really noticed before about this particular man. Like how unusual he looked – that long, silvery hair which wasn't the sort of color one saw most often on any person. His height – he slouched but he towered easily over everyone else in that train station.

The fact that he'd somehow managed to take the Marquis' rather vicious swordthrust and throw him across the room when the Marquis had beaten him easily just a few minutes ago. The fact that she had heard the rustling of what sounded like wings when Abel had stood behind her, defending her from the Marquis. Esther could not turn to see what that was, not with that desperate task that she had to concentrate on – trying to stop the Star of Sorrow from wreaking more destruction, not that her efforts had helped in the end. She could almost see those wings from the corner of her eye.

And then, she'd noticed that when he wasn't wearing that silly smile, when he looked grave and serious, Abel Nightroad was in fact, a rather beautiful man…

Falling in love had been the absolute last thing on Esther's mind.

In the beginning, she had quietly dismissed it as a simple crush, nothing more. She had never been the sort of girl to sigh or simper or do any of the inane silly things girls her age did when around the objects of their affection. By the time she started training as an AX agent, Esther thought that she would get over her tiny little crush, which more than likely had a touch of hero worship in it as well.

She thought to be content with being nothing more than Abel's friend and colleague and kept the proper and correct distance by simply addressing him as "Father Nightroad." She only had to look at poor Sister Noelle to steel her heart against the trap of unrequited love. Although to be fair, Abel was simply quite oblivious to all that attention and had never led any woman to think otherwise.

Their friendship had easily settled into a routine of sorts. Although he was her superior and could be counted on in any life or death situation, when it came to the little ordinary things, Abel could be scatterbrained beyond belief. Esther had lost track of the number of times the sugar ran out in the office supply (him and his penchant for 13 sugars in his tea!), Abel misplacing his ID, spilling tea on his reports, or various items being knocked over or broken by his clumsiness – not to mention the fact that Abel seemed to be perpetually broke, mainly because of the astonishing quantity of food that he could consume. And of course, he never ever gained a single pound – weird Crusnik metabolism, as the Professor liked to say.

Esther would scold and fuss and Lord help her, it seemed that he positively enjoyed the attention! She sometimes had the sneaking suspicion that he did it to deliberately annoy her.

She in turn enjoyed the mystery about him, the way that even though he could act the silly fool around all of them, there was that indefinable something that set him apart. She was curious, she couldn't help that and it seemed that word – Crusnik – his codename, had something to do about it.

Crusnik – she'd looked the word up and it was Slavic in origin, referring to a shamanistic warrior who used magical powers to fight vampires. Interesting that this was chosen to be his codename and it was even more interesting that everyone else in AX were reluctant to speak to Esther about it, even Sister Noelle.

It seemed that they held their silence out of respect for Abel and Esther knew she would have to take her cues from them.

It was much, much later that she found out what Crusnik truly was.

Esther had thought that this was how Death would find her, on a filthy street in Cartago, holding a dead or dying Methuselah boy in her arms, protecting him

(and oh, the irony of that – stubborn, proud Ion, the vampire boy who became her friend)

with nothing more than her pitifully fragile body. Not much defense against a war machine with more than enough power to level the entire city but it was all she had at that moment. And yet, somehow, she'd stubbornly held to that tiny shred of hope - that Abel would somehow miraculously come through for them, just as he had somehow done for her with the Marquis and several other times since.

And so she called out for him, "Father Nightroad…"

That was when she finally understood about those wings,

(angel)

and the reason why the Marquis of Hungary, a powerful Methuselah, had somehow been slashed into pieces by a seemingly helpless and clumsy priest

(Crusnik)

and the reason why the members of AX had held their silence about Father Abel Nightroad and what he truly was…

She had not known that she was already praying silently when the Crusnik had finally descended from the sky, scythe still held aloft and approached them. All she could think of was Ion and how his spilled blood had somehow been absorbed by the creature who had just taken out one of the most powerful war machines in the Inquisition's arsenal and three of its battleships. And she'd cried out for him to stop…

No… you're wrong…

The real horror of it was that she could still see Abel in the Crusnik's blood-red eyes, saw his anguish and his pain and he'd cried out in that harsh, nearly unrecognizable metallic voice and she heard him.

I am sorry… what you saw, that was the mark…the mark of my sins…

When it was all over, he'd apologized to her and for once, there was not a trace of her sweet, silly friend and she finally comprehended how he could speak to her about the emptiness of vengeance and understand about real pain and bitterness and rage…

Oh, how she wanted to tell him that she was the one who was sorry, that she felt she'd failed him somehow but she could not find the words for once, to comfort him as he'd once comforted her. He had become distant from her during that long journey to the Empire, accompanying Ion and it was with sheer relief that somewhere during that journey, he'd reverted to being the silly clown again. So she'd fussed and scolded, hoping that he could hear in her voice, her words, her own silent apology.

It hadn't lasted for long. Abel had become distant again when they returned to Rome and more, he was uncharacteristically grim, his mood dark and brooding. What had happened to make him that way, she had no idea. And there was no way for her to ask and truly, why should she care so much, when she'd already known that they must be friends, colleagues, no more and no less.

That first night back in Rome, Esther had been unable to sleep and groaned silently when she checked the time and realized it was close to dawn. Deciding that there was no help for it, she'd dressed, tucked her rosary into her pocket and gone down to one of the chapels to pray and perhaps sort out her thoughts.

And that was when she heard the singing.

It was a Mass in the old archaic Latin, sung with a fervor and beauty that she had never heard before. Something told her not to walk openly right into that chapel in that moment, like any other person would in order to hear Mass. She just knew that she had to quietly venture inside and stay hidden in the shadows.

She saw the angel standing all alone at the altar, dark wings outstretched, singing the prayers and the responses of the Mass, lamenting in the prayers for forgiveness, rejoicing in the hymns of praise and his face was alight with serenity and peace. It was the most glorious sight Esther had ever seen.

It was Abel.

And something in Esther shattered in that moment and all because of him and she realized that she could no longer deny what was in her heart all along…

There was a familiar red gleam in the shadows and Esther recognized the familiar silhouette of Father Tres Iquus. She and the android regarded each other in silent understanding and Esther slipped away, knowing that she must not be seen, that Abel would not have wished for her to know…


2.The Present

Esther had known that Abel would be awake.

The others had already fallen asleep – even Methuselahs needed their rest, after that entire debacle in Drakovia. Ion had insisted that they travel back in a private train car this time and all of them simply were too tired to spare the patience for credulous people who would spit dracul and mutter imprecations against vampires. Even Father Tres was on standby mode in the room that he was supposed to share with Abel and Ion.

But Abel was not in his own bunk – even then it was a tight fit for his rather tall frame and he'd chosen just to stay in one of the compartments and stare out the window, watching the scenery blurring by.

Esther had stood watching him just for a moment, content just to see him sit there and breathe

She knew it was silly of her to think so but there was a part of her that had believed him invincible and when he'd suddenly disappeared… when she saw Samael slash that knife across his throat… when she saw him fall, seemingly lifeless, into that coffin…

The tears would start again and she would try to stifle her cries into her blanket or her pillow and she would wake up, red-faced and puffy-eyed.

Abel had now taken one look at her face and he'd wordlessly beckoned her into his arms. She settled quite nicely on his lap, laid her head on his shoulder and smiled when he pressed a kiss into her hair.

She had never expected that things would be like this between them – she knew that she would always love him but she'd never truly expected that love to be returned, to find that out in a shack in the middle of nowhere, in the midst of a raging snowstorm and to have it affirmed in the Colosseum of Rome, of all places…

But then, she'd never expected to see the sights she'd seen – the dark angel who had defended her with such ferocity and the one she'd seen celebrating the Mass in an empty chapel, with no witnesses other than God and a nun and an android priest hiding in its shadows.

There were still so many things about Abel that she did not yet know, things about himself and his past that he was reluctant to talk about and she only hoped that he would tell her his story one day. Till then, she would be patient and let him comfort her. It was what she needed right now - the warmth and comfort of his presence and she was well aware that he himself took solace in that too, because when they were together like this, she could see the sadness fade from his eyes and he would look almost as much as he did when he sang in that chapel…

Softly, he began to sing to her, a gentle lullaby, in that wonderful, glorious voice of his and she hid her face in his shoulder to hide the sudden tears.

"Here, now, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry," he murmured, lifting her face up to his and brushing away her tears with gentle fingers.

"No, don't stop singing – your voice is so beautiful," she whispered back.

He gave her that rare, gentle smile that was quite unlike his usual silly ones. "Just don't tell anyone else, please. I'd rather not have anyone know about that."

She found a smile for him too, aware that Abel hated seeing her cry and understanding that he really hated calling attention to himself, especially for things that marked him out as different – even for such a talent as this. Still, she couldn't resist gently teasing: "Just think, you could always find a career for yourself as a singer, maybe in the opera…"

He chuckled lightly. "Oh Lord, no – I don't think I can take the stage fright."

She made a show of thinking about it. "On second thought, you're right, maybe you shouldn't. I absolutely refuse to share you with the raving fangirls. I'm happy to have you all to myself."

He'd removed his glasses so he could gently press his forehead against hers and they were nose to nose. "All to yourself, hmm?"

So close like this, her breath caught and she flushed and she knew that he was quite aware of how he was affecting her. Still, she held on to what was left of her wits and answered fiercely, "Mine."

The kiss, when it came, was just as fierce and possessive and faintly, she was reminded that they were both supposed to be at least chaste, up to a certain point but rapidly not beginning to care in the least…

But Abel had been the one to end it this time, nuzzling her gently and whispering in her ear, "Do you think you can sleep now?"

She caressed his cheek. "Would you sing for me, please?"

"As you wish." Softly, he began to sing to her again.

Esther laid her head back on his shoulder, thinking about all the amazing wonderful things she'd seen with this man but perhaps it all came down to this very simple thing, that he'd begun to let her in, let her know a little of who he was and the secrets he kept, let her love him and amazingly enough, love her in return.

An ordinary miracle indeed.

Esther closed her eyes and let him sing her into sleep, knowing that he would keep her safe, even in her dreams.

-end-


Author's End Notes: Please blame my officemates Ces and Jian for any and all fluff in this story. Really. I don't bring it upon myself, of course not. Right. You guys believe me, don't you? Heh.

I had to remind myself that yes, Silly over here IS a priest, if albeit the most unusual one EVER and that mental image of him in the chapel kind of spawned this story. Just because he happens to wear a cassock doesn't mean he's exempt from the doubts that plague the rest of us mere mortals but then, I think we already know that, don't we?

And if you're wondering what Abel is singing to Esther… well, that would be up to you but I was writing this with Josh Groban singing in the background and y'all know I'm such a shameless romantic fluffer, right?

Now, back to the Massive Plot. Which will be coming in. Eventually.