the request was mr. h selfcest... which i failed on. but there's still two mr. h's, which means twice the awesome -thumbs up- also, anyone who's got me on author alert, i apologize for the twewy fic spam. i promise its almost over.


Not for the first time, Sanae was glad that he ran his own business. The few customers he had were used to the odd and irregular hours the café kept, and therefore he didn't have anyone to answer to when he didn't want to—or couldn't—open the store for the day.

Today happened to be the latter case. It had become evident when he barely managed to pull himself out of bed, his entire body feeling like it had been hit by a freight train. He didn't have to look at himself to know that he was covered in scabs and bruises; his back was the worst of it, he was sure. It felt as though he'd let both Leo and Tigris Cantus use it as a scratching post.

The Higher Plane didn't mess around when it came to divine punishment.

At least they'd had the decency to drop him back at his flat after he'd fallen unconscious. Clenching his teeth, he hissed in pain as he pulled on a pair of trousers—yeah, WildKat was definitely staying closed today. There was no way in hell he was going to try putting on a shirt.

Sanae limped his way into the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot—he was glad he'd had the foresight to put one up here, instead of depending on the one downstairs—before continuing into the bathroom. Soaking the wounds sounded good, but the small bathroom provided only a shower stall, no tub. Pounding water on the wounds certainly did not sound good.

He opened the medicine cabinet, moving various aspirins, allergy medicines, cough syrup and all general over the counter things until he found the antibiotic ointment. Luckily the tube was still full—he'd need all of it.

Sanae closed the medicine cabinet, pausing to look at himself in the mirror. His other self.

He was in the doorway, leaning against the frame, arms folded across his chest. Their eyes met in the mirror, and silence reigned for several moments before he spoke. "They really did a number on you."

Sanae's gaze fell, intent on the slightly dingy sink. He set the ointment on the rim and placed his hands on either side of the basin. Being in the presence of one of his other selves was always such a strange experience; it was like his skin wasn't his own. A stranger that he knew intimately and at the same time not at all. "Kinda goes with the Fallen status." He felt as though he should throw out some sort of smartass quip or sarcastic comment but simply couldn't bring himself to do so. "What're you doin' here?"

A hand reach around him, grabbing the ointment. "You can't reach them on your own," was the only explanation he provided for the moment. Sanae winced as the cool gel was spread on his back, despite the gentle touch. Fingers lingered on the new tattoos—a matching pair of symbols, right on his shoulder blades where his wings would emerge. "Power locks?" the other asked.

Sanae merely nodded, still staring intently down at the sink. There were two others—a band around his left wrist, and another symbol on the inside of his right ankle. They served as the Council's leash—his movements were watched and his power limited. Other measures had also been taken to make sure he didn't take things into his own hands again. They wouldn't be so lenient on him the next time around.

The next few minutes passed with the silence only occasionally broken by hisses or grunts of pain when the ointment was rubbed into a particularly bad area. Which, unfortunately, happened to be the majority of his back.

The ointment was spent, but the hands continued, moving up to massage the back of his neck—he knew he shouldn't be surprised that the other knew it was a surefire way to make him relax, but somehow he was.

"I knew it was you."

Sanae finally looked up, again meeting his other self's eyes through the mirror. His brow furrowed lightly. "How?"

The other stared back at him, his expression neutral. "Because it's what I would have done."

If the Council knew… By withholding that knowledge, considering the severity of his crime, his parallel self could be considered an accessory. And punished. "Why… Why didn't you turn me in?"

The fingers on the back of Sanae's neck stilled, but did not move. Several moments passed before the other Sanae finally spoke.

"Because you were right."

With those four simple words, a weight he hadn't realized he'd been carrying was lifted from his shoulders. With those four simple words, Sanae received the affirmation he hadn't realized he'd desperately needed.