Alfred F. Jones had always been a sickly child.
Sometimes, when he was floating in between consciousness and sleep, he thought he would see the figure of a man in the room with him. Of course, when he asked his mother about him, she would laugh and check his temperature. Because he was just a little kid, they chalked it up to his overactive imagination. Had he been older, he probably would have gone to counseling.
He got healthier when he was older, and he no longer thought he saw a strange man. Alfred never truly forgot about it, but the thought was pushed to the back of his mind. Until the accident.
It was a fairly normal car accident, as far as car accidents go. It was dark, the road was narrow. A deer ran in front of Alfred's car, so he swerved and hit a tree. It was a good thing there was another car that came along a minute later to call the ambulance, because he was pinned by his steering wheel and couldn't move. The sides of his vision were starting to go black, but he didn't lose consciousness for a few minutes.
In those few minutes, he felt something on his shoulder. It could have been his blood soaked shirt, or maybe even a piece of the passenger seat, but to Alfred it felt like a hand. Not only that, but he could have sworn he heard someone telling him that everything would be all right.
Waking up in the hospital was a strange experience. Alfred looked around and tried to get up before wincing. It seemed he had a few broken ribs. There was a nurse smiling at him.
"How are you feeling?" She asked, bending over him to check a number of machines and tubes. "You sure look a lot better than when you got here. They said it was a miracle that you survived!" She seemed very happy, a little too happy for such a dreary place.
Groaning, he tried to breathe evenly. "Uh, considering I was in an accident, I guess I feel pretty good." Because of the morphine he couldn't feel much of the pain, if he didn't move. He knew he would hurt later on, though.
She giggled, gave him some water, and left with an assurance that she would return shortly. Alfred closed his eyes and tried to listen, to make sure no one else was in the room. A miracle... but was it? If he had been saved...
"I don't like talking to myself. If you exist, let me see you," he called out to the seemingly empty room.
In the far left corner of the room, there was a large, cushioned chair, meant for visitors. The air directly above the seat of the chair seemed to stir.
And then, as unexpected things often do, it happened very suddenly. In a flash of light that might have blinded the boy were his glasses not lying on the bedside table next to him, and the sound of a tinkling bell, a figure appeared. Or rather, fell into the chair from midair.
"Oof!" went the figure in white.
Eyes wide, Alfred almost couldn't believe what had just happened. Sure he had asked for it, but for it to actually happen, for a man in a white dress and wings, with a ring of gold around his head, to actually appear out of nowhere... But, being the optimistic person he was, he smiled. "I knew it!"
Perhaps flustered, the figure leapt up, his halo tipping off to the side, pointing an accusing finger at the man. "You! How could you have possibly known?" Tilting his halo back into its proper position, the figure in white placed his hands on his hips. "There are rules and regulations about these kinds of things, you know!" His voice was distinctly British, and in this particular moment, shrill.
"I could just tell. You look exactly like what I imagined the man looked like from when I was a kid." Alfred's voice was full of wonder, reaching out to touch him. Of course, he was much too far away. "How do you look like him? That was like… fifteen years ago." And this man looked hardly older than the American.
Harrumphing, the gentleman clad in a white toga came forward, near Alfred's bedside. "I don't age," he professed. "And what about you? You were once the sweetest, cutest little thing. You used to see me all the time." He leaned forward so that even the extremely near-sight American could see the furrow in his enormous eyebrows. "But you were supposed to have grown out of that ages ago. Now look at you, seeing seraphim all willy-nilly like it's your right."
Wincing as he shrugged his sore shoulders, Alfred pushed a button so the bed lifted a bit. "Well, maybe near-death experiences make people see... angels? That is what you are, right?" It could have been the amount of pain medication he was on making him see things, but he figured that this was the real thing. His reasoning was that crazy people never thought they were crazy, and he was sure thinking he was crazy right now, so he must not be crazy.
"Don't push yourself," the angel said quickly, his hands gently brushing over Alfred's shoulders, all warmth and grace and soft, holy gentleness. "... And yes," the angel replied, cocking a monstrous brow. "An angel. That's what a seraphim is."
"Really? I've never heard that before. Why is an angel British anyway?" And as an afterthought, he added, "And what does an angel have to do with me?" He was really hoping that no one was going to walk in any time soon, because if this was anything like the movies then he would be the only one who could see him.
"Yes, really," he said, beginning to count down the questions answered on his fingers. "I've spent most of my days on earth assigned to the kings and queens of Great Britain - Anne Boleyn was a fluke, mind you, there was some France-loving twit guiding her I'm afraid - and for the first time since John Winthrop on that ghastly ship, I'm back in America, watching over you." A second finger went up in the air. "Finally, you're reckless and foolish and stupidly brave with an irrational sense of justice, and since The Almighty created you as such, it is my duty to watch after the idiotic lambs in His flock."
Even though he had just made the biggest discovery of his life, Alfred felt his eyes drooping. His body needed rest, he knew, but this was just so interesting! "So you," He gave a big yawn, "are supposed to protect me? A guardian angel? That's awesome." Did everyone have a guardian angel? Or was he just lucky? Or maybe unlucky was the problem, from what he had just said.
The angel's eyelids fell as Alfred's began to glass over and he smiled, just briefly, leaning over to press his lips, light as a feather, over the American's eyelids. "Hush now. This is all an exhausted dream. When you wake up, it'll seem so silly to have imagined a British angel appearing in your room, won't it? Just imagine."
When he awoke again, it was dark outside. Well, at least that way it would be even less likely someone would walk in on him talking to himself. "Why did you disappear?" He called out, his throat scratchy from dryness. He got no response, so he tried again. "You must be a really bad guardian angel if you leave for a coffee break."
He received no reply, though. The room was dark and silent, save for the quiet nurse chatter and fluorescent hall light leaking through the cracks in his doors. The gentle hum of machinery probably wasn't meant to lull him, but it did try. And as it tried, it failed, perhaps only serving to make the man more anxious.
Alfred bit his lip. No. No this couldn't happen. There was no way he imagined it this time. Yes, maybe when he was a kid in the middle of a fever. Maybe when he fell out of a tree and broke his leg. Maybe even in the crushed car the day before, but he had finally spoken to the man, the angel, and he would not let that be taken away from him.
Looking around the room more carefully, he tried to see if there was any shimmer in the air, as there had been before the angel appeared. But, laying on the bed, he couldn't see much. "Come on, angel, show yourself," he said, not very loud since he didn't want anyone to know he was talking to himself. Alfred sat up in the bed, but there were still places in the room he couldn't see. He ripped the IV out of his arm, hardly even noticing that small pain when his ribs were burning. Then he tried standing up on shaky legs, so that he could look behind machinery and in the bathroom. He had to find him! He just had to!
A bell-like tinkle chimed with a hint of agitation as two arms tucked under his shoulders and stopped him from moving with a gentle force. "What do you think you're doing, you idiot?" a distinctly accented voice hissed in his ear. "Do you want to do more damage to your poor body? Get back into bed this instant!"
Relief washed over him. It wasn't a dream, and neither was it his imagination. As Alfred was lifted back into the bed, he grinned up at the angel. His angel. "I'm glad you're back. I missed you." The pain was still there, but he was sort of detached from it. He felt as the IV was jammed back into his arm by the disgruntled Brit.
"Shut your mouth, yank," the angel grumbled, a single tear dripping from his eye. "You mustn't do that again, do you understand?" He cupped Alfred's face in his hands. "When your mind is connected to me, as it must have been when you tried to kill yourself just now, any pain you experience is directly sent to me. So you must not think of me, nor attempt to move your injured and heavily medicated body!"
Gasping, Alfred lay down as he was told. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." He would try his best to not move, but he already knew there was no way he couldn't think of the angel. Then he smiled up at him, watching as one of his wings twitched. "So you can fly?" It was a stupid question, obviously. He was an angel, he had wings, of course he could fly. But they seemed too small to lift him, so maybe they grew?
The angel opened and closed his mouth, his brow furrowing. "Well, yes, but..." He sighed. Arthur could already tell that trying to convince the man that this was all a drug-induced dream would be a lost cause.
And then he was gone with a soft 'pop' as a nurse poked her head into the doorway. The light from the hall flooded a straight path to Alfred's bed.
Alfred looked to the nurse, smiling. "Hi, sorry. I was woken up by something." Hopefully she hadn't heard anything. That would be kind of hard to explain.
"Oh. I thought I heard voices. Are you sure everything is alright?" She looked around the room, getting a strange feeling. Of course, it could have just been that she had had twelve hour shifts for the past five nights.
Laughing a little nervously, the patient tried to use his charm. "Oh, I talk in my sleep. And I just woke up a second ago, so that must have been what you heard."
The nurse could not help but smile. In his wakeful moments, the young man had been nothing but charming and polite, if a little silly (from the meds, surely), and she had no reason to doubt such a handsome, smiling face. "All right then. Get some sleep before the doctors come back to check on you, okay?"
"Sure thing." His smile is all white teeth, and he even got in a small wink before she left with a sweet smile. After a few seconds, when he heard her footsteps down the hall, he looked to where the angel had been when he disappeared. "Alright, she's gone. You can come back again."
Flustered, Arthur reappeared, spluttering all the while. "Who do you think you are? You- you can't just summon me at will! I am not a... a novelty you can just bring forth and examine at your own leisure! You don't even know my name, you... you...!"
Alfred tilted his head slightly, careful not to aggravate his bruised collar bone. "Angels have names? Alright, what's your name? I guess you would know that I'm Alfred." Since he had apparently been watching over him at least since he was a little kid.
The angel gaped. People have always been, at the very, very least been somewhat wary when a supernatural entity has gone off on them for something or other. This boy had no clue in his blond little head, did he?
"... Arthur," he answered after a moment, the tips of his wings fluttering slightly.
Snorting, Alfred peered at him over the rim of his glasses. "That doesn't sound like an angel's name." It sounded more like an old man's name. Angels should be called Gabriel, or something like that.
Arthur flushed. "Well, it is." He folded his arms across his half-bare chest and scowled. "And I know what you're thinking, and if I weren't linked directly to your pain, I would knock you into next Tuesday for thinking it!"
"Aw, come on, there isn't anything wrong with having an old man name. I mean my name is Alfred, I should know." And then a thought occurred to him. The angel -Arthur- had been watching over him his whole life. Every minute. So in theory, he had seen... everything. "Well, Arthur... I want to ask you something. Do you look away when I change?" Before the now blushing angel could respond, he continued. "Do you cover your ears when I touch myself?" How about the first time he had had sex? Was he there for all of it?
The angel's eyes widened and he flushed, glancing to the side. "... Yes, though I've never much understood a human's desire to fornicate." He thought back for a moment to the times of England's rubbish kings and shuddered. Messy and wrought with diseases that even modern medicine could not cure. "The concept of pleasures of the flesh has always eluded me."
Eyes flashing, Alfred almost lifted up his hand to touch him, but decided against it in case he ended up hurting them both. "You're a virgin? Oh wait you're an angel, of course you're a virgin... But seriously Arthur, it feels so good. You should try it."
"No, thank you. King Henry has convinced me that going anywhere near that sort of thing can only bring trouble." Before Alfred could ask him to specify which king, he clarified; "All of them, practically."
At that he laughs, and they both cringe as his ribs protest. "Sorry, I didn't mean, it was just so funny." At this point, Alfred thought it would be better for both of them if he went to sleep. Arthur held a hand against his own abdomen and sighed, seating himself gingerly on the bed next to Alfred. "You've had your fun for the night," he said softly. "It's time to sleep." He reached out slowly, hesitantly once he remembered that Alfred was definitely watching him, and touched his hair, stroking it as he had done since Alfred had been a babe.
He closed his eyes, happy. Alfred felt the angel's hand in his hair till he fell asleep, which really wasn't very long. It felt good to have a guardian angel.
A bit further along there'll be some religious themes. Obviously, this is focusing more on the angel aspect of Britannia Angel. Apologies in advance if this fic steps on any toes.