Author's Note: This is being written for aph_fluffathon on livejournal! Originally it was supposed to be a lengthy oneshot, but it got away from me a bit so it ended up longer. This is chapter one of five. Aph_fluffathon ends in August, so that's the deadline for finishing this. A new chapter of Cerulean should be posted early next week, a then a new You Can't Take the Sky from Me. I'll also (barring any extreme unforeseen disaster), be finishing Hero Frequency this summer. In the meantime though, I hope you enjoy this story.
By Everything is Magic
Time passes in a very different manner in heaven. That is, there's truly no sense of it. It's difficult to tell when it's night or day or sunset or sunrise, and years feel like mere hours. I suppose that's all right. If it goes by quickly, it's irrelevant, since heaven is eternal and all that rot. It really doesn't matter if a century feels like a few years, if you've got forever.
I died when I was just twenty-three years old. Right young, I was. I suppose it was a bit inevitable. I came into the army with soft hands, stained with ink and riddled with paper cuts, as opposed to being callused and hardened and used to holding a musket. I was never cut out for the battlefield, and I honestly didn't have the motivation for it either. For queen and country, no doubt, but I couldn't bring myself to care too much about fighting for a rocky piece of harsh land so far away from home.
It's not as if I was going to get married though, and the plays and short stories I put all my heart and soul into writing were scarcely fetching me but a few pounds here and there. Thinking about it in a practical manner, which was what I was trying to do at the time, the army was the best option for me.
And so it was, that Arthur Kirkland (that's my name), was killed in action. I'm sure my Mum was distraught, but I suppose I'll never know for sure. It was, after all, a solid one hundred and thirty years before I visited my home in England again. I just could never buck up the courage to do so. I didn't want to see what had happened to my Mum with me gone.
And that visit was under very different circumstances. Rather… less dead circumstances, although it appears I'm getting ahead of myself.
Going to heaven doesn't necessarily mean one becomes an angel, let alone a guardian angel. You're given a choice, and generally those, like me, who felt so terribly unfulfilled by their lives on Earth, are the ones that insist on taking that role. It would have been nice to be so at peace in death that I felt no need to keep contact with Earth; nice if I could just go onto… Elysium or Paradise or whatever bollocks you call it, without any unfinished business. It is supposedly very lovely, lovelier even, than the part of heaven the angels reside in. But that's not what happened. I couldn't detach myself entirely from life, and thus chose the option that promised that I'd be able to visit Earth from time to time.
And in retrospect, I'm quite glad I did.
I wouldn't have met Alfred if I hadn't.
"Freedom Star, what do you have to say for yourself?" the reporter asked as she caught up with the man in question, her short blonde hair bobbing as she ran. "You have, after all, been trying to take down Ice Phantom for months." She glanced over her shoulder, where a gob of police cars had gathered, ready to serve as entourage for the vehicle that was going to take Ice Phantom, one of Tri City's most notorious supervillains, away to justice.
Freedom Star, as he was known, smiled his signature wide smile, the one that adorned the postered walls of every teenage girl in Tri City, and probably a good third of those walls in America on the whole. His short blonde hair was ruffled from the fight, and his blue eyes were eager and excited. There were a few rips in his tight costume, and several visible scratches and cuts from the Ice Phantom's attacks. "Really relieved, Angéline. There was no doubt that justice was going to be served eventually, hero's promise, of course… but it's great that it was sooner rather than later." He shot the camera a wink. "Just fulfilling my pledge to make Tri City the awesomest, safest city in the country."
Angéline nodded and pushed closer to Freedom Star, as other reporters were trying to get in on the action now. "Luckily for you, you managed to escape that new freeze ray he unleashed."
Freedom Star bit his lip for a moment, looking serious, before he laughed. "It was tough. I mean… to be honest, I really hate the cold! I guess you could say that's my weakness. Well that and scary movies." He smiled, movie star wide, directly at the camera.
The reporter cracked a grin herself. "Any help today, or was it all just you?"
"Omoikane gave me some tips, but you know how Omoikane is… kind of shy about getting attention," he responded with a shrug.
"Omoikane is always there to help you, aren't they? But no one's ever seen them. No one even knows their gender!" Her smiled turned mischievous. "There are those out there that suspect that they might even be your secret lover, since Omoikane is so faithful to you."
Freedom Star's eyes grew large, and he pulled at the neck of his costume absently. "What no? Seriously. My best friend, but… nothing like that."
Angéline had separated Freedom Star from the other reporters by now, and being that she was widely known as the superhero's favorite reporter to talk to, the others had resigned themselves to standing back and waiting their turn. "A couple of viewer questions, if that's okay."
"All right, sure!"
"First, one of our young viewers would like to ask if you're single?" Angéline asked with a false enthusiasm, for to be truthful, she had to ask this whenever she spoke to Freedom Star. When the camera shifted to him, Angéline mouthed a 'sorry' in his direction. The superhero just smiled, putting on his best publicity face.
"I'm single," he answered. "When you're being a hero and saving the world, you don't have that much time for romance! Not to say I'd outlaw it if I met someone special, but… it hasn't happened yet."
Angéline gestured for the camera to focus on her. "Hear that girls of Tri City? He's still single." She paused. "Second question! This is from an older fan, who says he remembers well the days of Tri City's past great heroes, and thinks you're doing a great job of carrying on their legacy."
At this, Freedom Star's cheeks pinked. "R-really? That's… wow, thanks. That's really awesome." His smile now was small, nostalgic. "You know I grew up hearing stories about those guys so, seriously, thanks."
She went silent for a moment, allowing Freedom Star to gather his thoughts, before continuing, "Aww, that's really sweet. His question is this; if you could have any superpower, outside of your super strength, what do you think you would choose?"
"That's easy," Freedom Star replied, not missing a beat. "I've always loved planes and aviation and just… the freedom of being up in the air. There's really no question for me. I'd want the ability to fly…"
"Angel, what's your name?" asked the young girl, her dark brown pigtails bobbing as she spoke and her comforter pulled snugly up to her chin.
"It's Arthur, love," he replied. He'd taken residence in a rocking chair beside her bed, his large wings folded neatly behind his back. "Have I honestly not told you before?"
She shook her head, a quiet yawn escaping her tiny frame. "Nope."
"Ah… I'm sorry, Rose," Arthur replied, scratching his cheek and looking rather sheepish. "I suppose that was a bit silly of me."
He really was a lousy guardian angel, Arthur thought to himself. Angels who were brilliant at their job were given grand roles; to encourage those who would have a great impact on society, to stand beside and provide quiet strength to those who were doing so now, to comfort soldiers, to do… well, big things and important things. Things that helped change the world.
Not what Arthur was doing, which was telling goodnight stories to a four year old whose parents hadn't the time for her. In a manner, he supposed that what he was doing was significant. And it fit him as well, the job he'd been given. Arthur had been a writer in life, and he'd always loved telling stories. But that didn't change the fact that he felt rather as if he was on the bottom of the heavenly totem pole.
"S'okay," she replied, her voice thick with sleep. "Arthur, why do you always tell me princess stories?"
Arthur's green eyes widened at this. "Well ah, I thought you'd like fairy stories. It's… well in my time, it's what we told children, and I was under the impression that they were still quite popular."
Rose grinned, pushing her blanket off and sitting up in bed. "Fairytales are nice, but I want to hear about superheroes." She gestured to her wall, where Arthur noticed a smattering of posters, all glossy and featuring embellished and flashy images of caped (and non-caped) crusaders. "When I grow up, I'm going to be just like Aqua Prism." Rose nodded toward one particular poster, featuring a dark-skinned young woman, with chocolate pigtails framing her face and a glittering blue bodysuit clinging tightly to her skin. Behind her was a large wave, seemingly of Aqua Prism's summoning.
"Are you?" Arthur cocked an eyebrow.
She shook her head, staunch in her conviction, and her own pigtails bobbed. "Yup, and I'm also going to marry Freedom Star!"
Arthur knew that name. Even with his limited contact with Earth, it was hard to not hear the name of Tri City's most famous hero, the young and charismatic blonde who went by the name Freedom Star. His eyes lingered on the poster, taking in his red, white and blue outfit and the overcrowded background of stars and spangles behind him.
"Ah well, you're quite young. Freedom Star is much, much older than you," Arthur countered.
Rose pouted and crossed her arms. "He's only eighteen years older than me. It's not that big an age gap."
Well, she'd obviously thought about this quite a lot. And she wanted a superhero story? Arthur wracked his mind. When he'd been alive, he'd been able to conjure up a story on the spot, and indeed, that's what he'd done every night, for the past three nights he'd been visiting Rose.
But, try as he might, a superhero tale was a bit difficult for Arthur to conjure up. He was smart, fast on the uptake, and absorbed knowledge easily, but he hadn't spent enough time on Earth since his death to understand everything. He had a basic knowledge of Earth as it was; enough to get around, at least. He was familiar with some of modern society's most prominent figures, and even knew a pop culture reference or few. But he didn't know enough to make up a story specifically about superheroes; something from so long past his time. And he had a sneaking feeling that Rose was very knowledgeable about them, which would probably cause his sad attempt at a story to flounder even more.
He had to try. Angels had rules as well, and for a guardian angel, especially one of his level, there was no returning to heaven until a given mission was complete. His mission was to tell Rose a bedtime story tonight, and the half-a-story he'd told her before being interrupted and asked to tell a superhero tale wouldn't cut it. He wasn't permitted to leave until Rose was sleeping either.
Bollocks, this was asinine.
"Ah well… one day, there was…" he paused and glanced over at the poster, "a magical superhero by the name of Freedom Star."
"It's not magic!" Rose interrupted. "His powers are sci-in-ter-iffic."
"I think you mean scientific, love." He wasn't positive what she meant. Were Freedom Star's powers genetic, or had he been gifted them by science somehow? Arthur hadn't the foggiest. "Anyway, a scientific superhero by the name of Freedom Star."
"No!" she laughed. "You make it sound like Freedom Star is a scientist. That's more like what Omoikane does."
Arthur was perplexed and amazed that the girl could not pronounce 'scientific,' but didn't even trip over 'Omoikane.'
"Freedom Star was a great hero," he finally settled on. "He fought for good and justice, and protecting the world from… villainous behavior."
"This isn't much of a story," Rose said with a sigh.
"I'm getting to it!" He licked his lips, for they felt a bit dry. Then he stood up and paced, stretching his wings, out as he did so. Rose stared in wonderment at the spread of his wings. She always did whenever she saw them. "Anyway, Freedom Star was returning from defeating another villain when-"
He didn't get to finish his sentence, because a massive boom interrupted it.
And the house exploded, girl and angel still inside.
The amount of debris, much of it hot and flaming, was massive. Firefighters worked to extinguish what was still ablaze and what remained of furniture and possessions lay strewn about, almost all blackened and irreparable.
It had been an immense mansion, home to two powerful CEOs, a husband and wife, who were both currently prosecuting a rival company on corruption charges. From what could be heard, the rival company's CEO had already been contacted, despite it being eleven p.m. at night.
Freedom Star frantically dug through the debris, ignoring the way it scalded his skin and singed his costume. He had arrived too late, and he felt like the shittiest of heroes for doing so. He'd been tipped off by an anonymous source about an explosion at the mansion that evening, but he'd- not made it before the explosion occurred.
Outside the perimeter, Rose's parents stood, frantic and panicked and both crying. He had a bit of a bone to pick with them too (who the hell leaves their four year old daughter alone at night?), but more importantly, he was trying to locate Rose, and praying that she was okay.
The firefighters could do little on the level he was accomplishing, using his super strength to pick up enormous pieces of debris, while they were limited to small ones. He threw what appeared to be a bedroom wall, and upon noticing several blackened posters, reminiscent of what a child may have in her room, on said wall, his heart sped up. He threw aside two other walls, and within them was hidden-
A small bed, completely scorched along the edges, but perfectly fine in the middle, the light green of the sheets like a small patch of grass in the middle of a blackened field.
And in that patch of grass, sat a young girl. Her hands were atop her head, and she leaned over into herself in fear. He could hear her heavy breathing from where he stood.
Bounding across the wreckage, Freedom Star picked her up, took her in his arms, and embraced her in relief.
"Are you all right?" he asked soothingly.
Rose nodded, and her eyes grew large when she noticed who was holding her. "Freedom Star?"
"That's me!" he proclaimed. "Sorry I didn't get here earlier."
She snuggled into his chest. "It's all right. I was being- "
"It's a miracle you're not hurt at all," he interrupted. "Seriously, you must have had a guardian angel on your side tonight."
And it was at that moment, that he saw, out of the corner of his eye, another figure standing in the debris. He focused on him.
Across the bed stood a man, shorter than himself, a bit willowy, but not thin. His hair was sandy blonde, and his eyes were bright green to the point that Freedom Star could see them clearly from where he stood. He wore a white robe, knee-length, cinched at the waist, and sleeveless and slung over one shoulder like a toga. In the fire-lit night, Freedom Star could have sworn that he saw a glint of gold above his head.
But none of that compared to the pair of white wings that sprouted from his back, as tall as from his shoulders to his waist, and spread, as they were now, wider than the span of his arms.
Unlike Rose, who was bewilderingly free of all debris and not at all singed, the man across the bed looked worse for the wear. Chunks of debris had scratched up his body and gotten caught up in his wings.
All right, so it appeared that this guy was some kind of super. But Freedom Star knew all the supers in not just the Tri City area, but the entire nation. This man wasn't one of them. And being that they had no idea who specifically had caused this explosion- the only conclusion that Freedom Star could surmise was that-
"You'll be coming with me," he snapped. He glanced down at Rose in his arms, wondering how to take care of her without allowing that potential villain to escape.
His question was answered when a firefighter approached. He handed the child over to her, but not before tousling her hair and wishing her well. Rose, for her part, looked absolutely starstruck.
As the firefighter took her away, she turned around, waved, and yelled, "Thanks Arthur!"
And the angel-man shouted back, "No problem, love!"
Freedom Star crossed the distance between them and snatched the other man's arm roughly. "How come that firefighter didn't acknowledge you?" he asked.
"Because he didn't see me, you git," the shorter man snapped in retort, shaking his wings out to free some of the debris. Freedom Star couldn't help but notice the man's thick British accent.
Freedom Star furrowed his brows in confusion but pressed on. "So what's your name then? Something like Angel of Death or… Winged-"
"It's Arthur," he cut in. He'd folded his wings against his back, and his arms were crossed. "Why the bloody hell would I be called Angel of Death?"
"Arthur's not exactly the kind of name I'd expect from a villain," Freedom Star said with a short laugh. "But whatever." He was dragging him along now, and Arthur couldn't fight it. The superhero was about a hundred times too strong. His cries of 'let me go!' were ignored, and even if he tried to fly away, there was no escaping his hold. Arthur was stuck here, being dragged along with Freedom Star in a rather undignified manner. And he couldn't escape back to heaven either. He hadn't finished his mission.
"We'll be going this way, because I can't exactly cart you away if I've got reporters on my tail."
"Which way?" Arthur asked, his voice heavy with resignation.
"Oh yeah," he said, and by now, they were already out of the wreckage of the mansion. Freedom Star pointed across the street. "I mean through the subways. It's late at night, and I know some shortcuts. Gotta find out who you are and bring you to justice as soon as possible!"
When Arthur emerged into the base, after being dragged roughly by the superhero for about a kilometer of walking, he had no idea where he was. It had been too dark for the latter part of the trip to tell where they'd been going at all. They didn't walk into a front door, or come in at street side. Instead, Freedom Star took him to a dark, secluded and closed down area of the Tri City underground, and, with a remote control he'd had in his belt, opened a door in the ceiling.
A small staircase collapsed downward, and Arthur and Freedom Star walked up into it. "Now it's time to answer questions, Arthur," he demanded, a tinge of venom in the way he pronounced the name.
The base was immense, and it was every bit what Arthur, with his limited knowledge, would expect of a superhero's base. There were massive screens on the walls, bits and bobs of technology that Arthur hadn't the foggiest what they meant, and several duplicates of Freedom Star's signature uniform hanging in one corner.
But at the same time, instead of the largest screen being used for surveillance, there was a video game system hooked up to it. Thus, upon the screen, instead of anything that he assumed was relevant to Freedom Star's job, there was a man with a giant sword engaged in combat, with an odd creature that Arthur couldn't quite describe. And over all of that, 'GAME PAUSED,' in giant blinking text.
"You interrupted my game, you know," Freedom Star accused, as if reading Arthur's mind.
And there were piles of comic books (what kind of superhero reads about superheroes?) and action figures, as well as scads of posters adorning the walls. He glanced upward. Were those really glow in the dark ceiling stars up there? He'd seen them often in the rooms of children, but in a superhero base, it was a bit-
The entire place was rather childish.
"I honestly don't care. Can I go now?" Arthur grumbled, trying in vain to pull out of Freedom Star's hold.
He tightened it instead. "And, more so, you blew up that mansion. You could've killed that little girl, you bastard!"
At this, Arthur stiffened, jutted out his chin, and shot the hero a furious look. "Don't you dare accuse me of that!" he roared. "I saved her life! The reason she was safe, the reason there was a spot of her bed untouched by the fire? It was because I shielded her, with my body and my wings and-" He was in Freedom Star's face now. "I don't care what you want to think of me, what you want to do with me. Doesn't matter, I'm already dead. But you will not accuse me of harming Rose."
Freedom Star stepped back, eyes wide and clearly affronted.
Arthur was pretty damn convincing. There was, what appeared to be genuine conviction in his words, and he honestly looked pretty distraught and angry that he'd been accused of planting the bomb.
But supervillains pulled this kind of stuff all the time, and even if Arthur was a lot more believable than most of them, there was still a good chance he was bullshitting.
He puffed up his chest, the emblem on the front of his uniform pushed forward. "I'm still going to have to keep you here, just in case. Hero's duty. And besides, if you're not a villain, what are you? I've got information on all the superheroes in the nation- although I guess you could be a new one but…"
"What does it look like I am?" Arthur shouted, and to emphasize his question, he spread his great white feathered wings wide. In the brighter light, Freedom Star could tell that the glint of gold floating above his head was indeed a halo. He also wore a pair of strappy sandals on his feet, the ribbons gleaming white and gold.
"Well uh, an angel of course," he replied, "but I thought that was just your costume."
Arthur tugged, hoping to pull his arm free again. He failed, so instead reached up with one hand and gestured to his wings. "As you can see, these are attached. It's not a costume! I'm an angel."
Freedom Star placed his free hand on Arthur's back, smoothing his bare hand across them and fingering the area where the wings joined his back, noting the way they seamlessly connected. Arthur shivered a bit at the touch on his bare skin, and he felt his cheeks pink. It wasn't every day that an attractive man, albeit an obnoxious one, touched him like that. Truly, he didn't think that one ever had. And Freedom Star was… extremely handsome, with his bright blue eyes and his golden hair. His face was uncovered, no mask worn, unlike many other superheroes he'd seen plastered on children's walls. But with a face like his, it would have been a damn shame to conceal it. Even the flashy skin-tight suit did nothing to detract from his appearance. He shook his head and willed the flush to vanish.
"Yeah, that's… kinda cool. So what is it? Genetic engineering, some kind of scientific accident?"
Arthur huffed. "How about this, you tosser; I died and became an angel, a guardian angel, to be specific. This, by the way, is the reason you can see me."
"You acknowledged me, with your comment about an angel being on Rose's side. And I was too distracted making sure she was okay to render myself invisible," he explained, expression cross. "Bollocks, you didn't even mean to call on me, I imagine. But now that you know I'm here, I can't turn invisible in front of you."
Freedom Star blinked. "Is that why the firefighter couldn't see you? Because you had invisibility powers that you can cont—"
"I don't have superpowers!" Arthur shouted. "Bloody hell, you are so thick. If only the organ in your head worked half as well as the muscles in your body."
Freedom Star frowned at this, and opened his mouth to retort.
But before he could say anything, someone else entered the room. He was small in stature, with short black hair and Asian features.
"Alfred," he spoke, his tone polite, "is there anything wrong? I was working on the perception filter and I overheard you… shouting."
At this, Freedom Star's blue eyes grew large, wider than Arthur had seen them up to this point, and his mouth dropped. It only took Arthur a moment to figure out what had just occurred.
"Your friend right there can't see me right now, and he just spilled out your secret identity and that rot, am I correct," he paused, "Alfred?"
Alfred's throat felt dry, and he licked his lips. "K-Kiku… you… there's someone else here and you just-"
"There's no one else here, Alfred," Kiku said, crossing the room and approaching his friend, concern evident in his expression. "Trust me; the body heat sensor would have picked up the presence of any other person. Maybe you're just tired. You've done a lot lately."
Alfred pouted, because he certainly knew that there was someone else here. Kiku was a genius, that much was true. He and his best friend worked together on a ton of tech and had introduced a lot of it into modern industry under secret aliases.
The aliases being Freedom Star and Omoikane, of course. He was proud of everything they'd done, but all of Kiku, nay, Omoikane's equipment couldn't convince him when it was right before his eyes.
Alfred sighed. "Arthur, show yourself to Kiku, all right?"
"Why should I?" he queried, rolling his eyes.
"'Cuz if you wanna be off the hook, Kiku might be able to help prove your innocence." He shrugged. "If you don't show yourself, I'll just have to assume you're a villain.
Arthur scoffed, closing his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, Kiku gasped.
"There is someone here- but he didn't register on the equipment at all," he said, his dark eyes confused and a frown on his face. "How can that- is he a super?"
"I'm dead, for god's sake!" Arthur proclaimed. "I'm an angel. I'm not going to show up on your equipment or what not."
Alfred bit his lip, shooting the supposed-angel a thoughtful look. "Kiku, let's run a scan on him. That will give us an answer."
"A scan?" Arthur quirked a thick eyebrow.
"It won't hurt or anything," Kiku responded. "I apologize, but Alfred is right, it's only right that we- try to verify who and what you are."
Frustrated with the whole damn ordeal, Arthur scowled. "Fine. Just get it over with."
I know it's a weird thing to say, but I kind of hoped that when we scanned Arthur, it would turn out that he wasn't lying. Yeah, it would mean that I hadn't caught the villain that had blown up Rose's mansion, but- when he was going on about protecting her, I wanted it to be true. I always like knowing there are more heroes in the world than villains.
And plus, I'd never seen an angel before. I've always been all about science, so it kind of blew me away that something outside of that might have been- standing right next to me.
A British angel. When he wasn't scowling as hard, he wasn't bad looking either. His eyes were nice, and he had a good figure (his legs were kind of hard to miss, what with that outfit he wore). His hair was sort of messy, but in a way that worked- and on the whole, he was… pretty cute.
And this is hard for me to admit, but I really, really envied his wings. They were amazing, awesome, even. If he could really fly with them, which I was sure he could-
But if he were a bad guy, some kind of new villain genetically created or whatever, then it wouldn't be cool at all.
Oh yeah, and most importantly, it would have meant that a bad guy now knew my real name. Even with just my first name, a skilled syndicate would probably be able to find out who I really was. Full name is Alfred F. Jones, by the way.
Kiku, who the general public knew as Omoikane, had Arthur lying down on a flat surface, the top of a table. He was scanning him up and down with a small device, and inputting data into his computer here and there as he did so. Sometimes he'd ask me for assistance, which I gave. I knew the equipment nearly as well as he did. We'd built it together.
I guess you're wondering why I called him Kiku in front of Arthur, when I'd freaked out over Kiku revealing my secret identity.
Kiku's situation is sort of the reverse of mine. He keeps even his appearance a secret, so we decided that when someone comes to our base, I should refer to him by his normal name. That way, if worse comes to worst, I can just say Omoikane lives elsewhere. Kiku's just my… assistant. Or something. It made a lot of sense when we set it up.
The computer let out a loud beep, and Kiku shook his head in disbelief. "Alfred, I'm sorry to say but- "
I glanced at the screen.
"What does it say?" Arthur demanded from where he was splayed out. His wings were folded behind his back, but they still stuck out beyond his shoulder blades. They looked kind of soft, like they'd make a nice pillow.
"There's nothing," I replied as I surveyed the results on the screen. It brought up no name, no DNA, nothing. It was like we'd just scanned air, except at least if we scanned air, the computer would have given us the molecular components of said air. "It's like you don't exist."
"As if your computer is going to register an angel," he snapped, propping himself up and then padding over to where I stood. "Now that I've proved myself, for my trouble, I'd like a hot bath. Saving Rose's life left me a bit dirty and singed. There's soot all over my wings."
As if to emphasize this, he shook his wings out. The air filled with ash and soot, and I couldn't help but cough. Geez, it was going to take forever to clean up.
"All right, you're an angel," I said. I mean there was no getting around it. Our software was pretty much flawless, and it acted like nothing was even there when we scanned him. Even an alien life form would have registered something. At least I knew he wasn't some villain, because it's not like an angel could be a villain. And it was… sort of awesome.
I turned to him, and I think my eyes got pretty bright, and I was probably smiling a lot, because Arthur looked pretty weirded out. "Does that mean you can fly?"
"Of course I can bloody fly," Arthur grumbled. He'd crossed his arms (he did that a lot, even before I'd let go of him), and I caught him using one of his hands to rub his wrist. I guess I'd held his arm a little too hard. Oops. Sometimes I underestimated my own strength.
"You'll have to show me then, huh?"
At this, Arthur cocked the smallest of smiles. I wasn't sure why at the time, but I learned later it was because well… the idea that someone, outside the kids he read stories to, was interested in and impressed with him, was… really new. I thought this was sort of sad.
"I suppose, if you really want me to," he replied.
"I do!" I beamed at him.
Arthur was so weird, the whole being an angel thing aside. I was… about to learn that quite well. He wasn't going to be leaving my side for a very long time, after all.
This was okay, because in the end, somehow a chance meeting with a grumpy angel ended up being one of the best things that had ever happened to me.
I'd always thought it would be cool to have a sidekick, but what I didn't know at the time was- that what I wanted even more, was a partner.
Second Anglo-Afghan War- It's not that relevant to the plot specifically what event this is, but this is the war that England died in. It lasted from 1878-1880. Sherlock Holmes geeks might know this as the war that Watson fought in.
Omoikane- Japan takes his alias name from the Shinto god of wisdom and intelligence. A heavenly deity, identified as a child of Taka-mi-musubi-no-kami, who is always called upon to "ponder" (omopu) and give good counsel in the deliberations of the heavenly deities.