Title: How Dare They
Characters: Berger/Claude
Rating:PG for dark themes
Summary: The first time George Berger set eyes on Claude Hooper Bukowski he was not beautiful. He was not smiling, and when he spoke it would be in a sob like a broken whisper, words without the hint of a beautiful fake accent.

The first time George Berger set eyes on Claude Hooper Bukowski he was not beautiful. He was not smiling, and when he spoke it would be in a sob like a broken whisper, words without the hint of a beautiful fake accent. The sun was not shining on them, not a single ray of light on this dingy muddy New York park. The rain was cold and it bit into his skin, it soaked him through and felt as if it could pierce through them.

They were alone. The last two fools lost in the park on a day meant to wash away every trace of humanity from the grass and the trees.

Claude did not see him at first. He was sobbing too hard, his face wet with more than just the rain from their grey loveless sky. His eyes, his beautiful deep eyes which know so much more than they ever possibly could were too filled with tears to see him at all.

Berger thought he was beautiful anyway.

His white shirt was soaked through, his pale skin visible beneath the thin fabric. His small body, so lithe, so perfectly formed, was curled around itself. Even his jeans clung to him, his hair wet and hanging in long beautiful strains down his face.

He wanted to know the words to say. To reach out to this perfect stranger and tell him not to cry, that angels should never cry, but he could not find the words.

And so he sat down on the park bench next to him, body turned to face him, this beautiful fallen angel who could barely breathe for sorrow, wet heaving breaths that shook his thin body.

Berger wanted to hold him, to whisper into his hair and tell him it was okay. He wanted to breathe in the smell of his hair, wanted to feel his warm wet flesh in his hands, tucked into his arms.

But he just sat there, watching him, too afraid to touch.

Angels were never real. They always disappeared when he touched them.

But blue eyes looked up, red and swollen and pale and beautiful, chocolate hair clinging to perfect cheek bones, how like an angel, and he took in a breath like it was the last he would ever take.

"I'm fine." His voice was thick and wet and nearly broken with raspiness but it was the most beautiful thing Berger had ever heard. He sat up, trying so hard to be strong, to pretend he could breath as if he was not underwater, his hands fell helplessly, empty to his sides. Perfect pale chest exposed beneath revealing raindrops, a chest which would hold a heart beating hard and strong and he wanted to touch it.

"Yea." And then he was in his arms. This beautiful drowning angel wrapped in his arms until the water no longer pierced them, until they were perfect and untouchable and the sobs buried into his neck were swallowed by the smell of him, clean and warm and something rich and dark and perfect. Lips mouthing words against his rain slicked skin, against his neck as he held him tight in his arms, pulled him carefully into his lap until they were like one person, until limbs melded, until the lines between them melted away and he could sink his fingers into his wet tangled hair and wrap a hand just under the cloth of his white cotton shirt, holding soft flesh in his palm.

And he whispered his secrets against his skin in the putrid acid rain of New York, whispered the damp secrets of darkened rooms and heavy fists. He sobbed until Berger could feel the sobs in his own chest, could feel his own heart thrum with pain and ache as if it were breaking. He could feel his own breathing stop so his beautiful angel could have the words to speak of nightmares spent in waking hours, of hands that did more than wander and a father who would never stop.

Angels never stayed when Berger touched them, they faded in haze of drugs and rain and imperfection. They disappeared when the sun rose to wash away his dreams.

But the creature breathing warm and real against his neck, the man in his arms with the heart beating so painfully against his own and the soft hair and the warm skin singing the torments of a painful life against his flesh had fallen into his arms.

This angel had fallen into his arms.

And he was warm and perfect and wet even as he cried, as salt tears mixed with fresh rainwater on his cheeks and fell into Berger's shirt and Berger held him tight as if he would never let go.

He wanted to tell him that he would protect him, that he belonged with him now, that they would be together always, but he could not find the words.

"Claude." The name was the first unbroken word, it was strange not to feel it pressed against the skin of his neck but it was beautiful in the air between them, his eyes so bright they might still be stars within them.

"Berger." And the press of arms and heat and hearts and tears and lips against their names was enough.

Angels, Berger knew, had never needed words.