A/N: Hello! It's me again! It's been a long while since I've typed anything and I'm surprised I've managed to type up this chapter. I've had this chapter written at the beginning of the year, but I never had the motivation to complete it.
Anyway, I won't say much but here's the next chapter of Angels Can Fall.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Summary: "Tell me, Caius, do you believe in angels?"
Angels Can Fall (Part 14)
"So, you want to go visit the Director? After all, you've done to him? How charming."
"Do you really have to remind me?"
Fang released a stifled laughter. Lightning removed the contraption away from her ear and eyed it; she could already see Fang's smug look. Whatever.
Pressing the rectangular talking and receiving contraption back against her ear, Lightning snarled, "Look, it's been bothering me, and I'd really like it if you helped."
"What's the catch?" Fang asked lazily. She pinched the phone between her ear and shoulder while her fingers reached out to a bottle of black nail polish. Uncapping it with a grunt, the woman continued, "What do I get out of it?"
"Are you serious? No catch," Lightning hissed. Gripping the phone firmly, microscopic cracks spilled across the phone's cheap plastic chassis. "Listen, are you going to help me or not?"
Fang thought about it. She could help an angel in need, but that would be boring, wouldn't it, especially when there wasn't a catch in exchange. Running the brush along the length of her nail, she came to an answer. "Yeah, I guess so. I don't see any harm in that."
Suddenly, the weight of the world was lifted off Lightning's shoulder. Fang heard the angel sigh. "Thanks."
"You owe me one," Fang said, examining her polished nails. "Tell you what; in return, you can help me run my bar as payment. How does that sound?"
Lightning paused and narrowed her eyes. "Awful."
"Then it's settled!"
After those pleasant words, Fang hung up, and Lightning stared at the wall. Giving herself a moment, she slowly placed down the phone. The woman shook her head; what did she get herself into? What did she just get herself into?! Walking to the window, Lightning crossed her arms irritably; her mind was on the move, thinking about today's planned visit. Was it a good idea to go visit Hope? Half of Lightning told her to go and sincerely apologize for the accident, but the other half of Lightning told her to avoid going at all costs; every law enforcement unit was looking for her, planning on bringing her to justice. She sighed.
"What's with the sighs today? This is your eight sigh."
"You were counting?" Lightning turned around, locking her eyes with Caius's form, weaving in and out of the kitchen.
After placing a fish on the chopping board, he looked at her before sinking the cleaver into the fish's head, "Something tells me there's something on your mind."
"More than you know," Lightning truthfully responded and moved away from the window.
Falling on the couch, she crossed her legs and reached out to the long rectangular device with colorful buttons on it. Pressing the red circular button on the upper left corner, the flatscreen glass in front of her flickered to life. On it, Lightning watched a news anchor speak of today's news and updates. The angel listened to the news, hearing about an attempted burglary at the local jewelry store then followed by a news piece coverage about a new bakery opening soon.
The following news bits were dull, and the angel was just about to switch off the TV until she heard the next news piece; it was about Hope. Caius glanced up from the counter and fixed his eyes on the screen; wiping his hands on his checkerboard apron, the man left the kitchen and approached Lightning.
Lightning hugged herself tightly, listening to a representative of the Academy discuss Hope's condition. Her heart crashed to the soles of her feet upon hearing the severity of Hope's condition; Hope suffered a spinal injury, several fractured bones, and a concussion. Until now, Hope remained in a coma, unresponsive to the outside world.
It's all my fault.
"What a shame," Lightning tilted her head up, following the voice. "What did he do to deserve this?"
Nothing. It was all my fault he's like this.
The man looked down at Lightning. "Do you think the angels will come for him?"
The question caught her by surprise, but it was a question she could immediately answer. "I don't think so," Turning her attention back to the screen, it flashed an image of the hospital Hope currently resided in. "I don't think the angels will come."
"Lucky," Caius said as he pushed off the couch. "Hopefully he'll get better; the people in this city depend on him."
The angel sighed, again. It was settled; she needed to go visit Hope and apologize. At least, it was something she could do, but she knew, it wasn't enough. Looking down at her bare hands, she cursed her inhuman strength and speed; if only she were in better control of her actions, Hope wouldn't be in his mess. Pushing off the couch, the angel strolled into the kitchen, leaned against the wall and observed Caius doing his best to evenly fillet the pink-fleshed fish. From the looks of it, he was doing a poor job at it.
"Is there anything I can help you with?" he asked without looking at her.
"Not in particular," she replied, watching the knife slowly slide through the meat in a jagged motion.
There was a pause.
"You're judging me, aren't you?"
Caius turned around, and it was then Lightning realized the apron he wore had some choice words printed on it: Kiss the Cook. She rolled her eyes.
"You're awfully bitter today. More than usual," he spoke, pinpointing the obvious. "Wanna talk about it?"
"I don't think it's going to help," Lightning admitted. "I think I'm going to go outside and get some air."
"And how will you do that?" he said as he placed the slices of fish into a flat plate filled with powder and breadcrumbs. Rolling the fillet onto the powdered mix, he continued, "The entire city is looking for you."
"I know that," Lightning answered irritably. "I have my ways… Just… Just give me a hat."
Caius didn't answer. After five minutes of no conversation, the man sighed.
"There's a hat in the top shelf of my closet. Dark brown in color. Just make sure you return back here safely okay?" Then a pause. "I don't have money to bail you out if you're caught."
Lightning had to frown. "You sound like I'm going to commit a crime!"
She grunted and shook her head. "Okay, fine. I'll be careful. I'll make sure to not get caught, and you have to bail me out or whatever."
"I mean it, Lightning. The police in this city aren't friendly."
So are the ones in Valhalla.
The angel huffed and stormed to the closet to locate the hat. Opening the wooden closet, perhaps it was expected to witness a sudden waterfall of unfolded (clean) laundry now puddled around her feet. The angel ignored the mess and quickly searched for the hat hidden behind a brown box. Reeling it out, she placed the hat on her head and swiftly turned to face the mirror. Dear Etro, she looked hideous!
The hat and her distinctive frown clashed, big time. Well, whatever. If this were the best disguise she could come up with, then she'd be damned. Lightning quickly moved away and snatched her brown leather jacket then wrapped a red, white, and orange cotton scarf around her neck. Once that was done, she marched to the shoe cabinet and stuffed her legs into her knee high boots. She examined herself one last time and left without a word.
Caius listened to the door slam shut and sighed.
Never in her life was Lightning so paranoid to the point she continually glanced over her shoulder every thirty seconds. She felt like the entire city watched her every move, ready to pounce and reel her in to face the unrelenting hands of justice. The angel huffed and stuffed her hands into her jacket and strode down the streets of Academia with her mind fixed on Hope. How in the name of Etro was she supposed to get close to him? The young man was probably guarded by security. Sure, she could easily waltz into the hospital and overpower them, but she didn't want to create a scene.
How am I supposed to do this?
Then, the side of her jeans buzzed. Fetching out the contraption, Fang was calling her.
"What do you want?" Lightning hissed.
And so the angel did. Her blue eyes widened at the site of Fang staring at her from one of the buildings.
"Come to this building I'm standing on," The woman instructed before she hung up.
Okay. Weird. Lightning hastily stuffed the cell phone back into her pants and quickly darted to the building in question. Weaving through the masses of humanity, the angel hoped nobody recognized her. As she waited at a red light, she noticed she was being stared at intently. With curiosity getting the better of her, she looked around then down to spot a young boy, probably four years old, looking at her with a smile.
Although he didn't speak, she noticed his hands moved, and so did his lips. He was signing to her, and she knew what he said.
"Angel! You're an angel!" he expressed with his tiny fingers.
Lightning froze. The little boy continued to smile at the angel before being tugged away by his mother once the light turned green. Lightning breathed out a sigh of relief and continued to make her way to the building, as fast as her legs could take her. The journey took her another three minutes, and Lightning discovered herself at the base of the building. The woman looked around, and there wasn't a door in sight. Okay, she's here, but where's Fang? Was she up there?
She glanced up at the sky and wondered how in the name Etro was she supposed to get up to the roof without, y'know, climbing and dying?
Lightning didn't feel like she wanted to be a pancake today, thank you very much.
"You can't fly?" said a voice.
Startled, she whipped around and discovered Fang with arms firmly crossed and wings stretched open. Cue Lightning initiating a heart attack.
"What are you doing?!" Lightning shouted. "You can't just show off your wings here! You'll get caught!"
"Relax," Fang said. "There's no cameras or people around here. It's just you and me, buddy."
"How can you be so sure?" Lightning was not convinced.
"Because I can feel people's heartbeats, including yours. Trust me; there's no one around, and for the record, all the cameras in this sector were disabled months ago."
Lightning backed down and took in a deep breath. Fang had a smug look.
"Okay, with that out of the way, let's get moving, shall we?" Fang proposed. "The hospital is a couple of blocks from here and the best way to get there is by flying."
"Excuse me?" Lightning shook her head. Did she just hear Fang correctly? By flight? "We're flying there. You're suggesting we're flying there. Did you knock your head when you crashed onto Pulse or something?"
"I didn't stutter, did I?" Fang thinned her eyes. "Okay, to clarify, I can cloak both of us with magick, and we can fly there safely, happy? I promise we won't get discovered and shot down if that's what you want to hear,"
Lightning crossed her arms. "We're flying to see Hope." That entire sentence sounded wrong.
"He's on the top floor of the Greater Academia Hospital," Fang said. "The fortieth floor, VIP level to be exact. And you probably guessed it, you can't waltz in either. What better way to visit the Director than crashing his room unexpectedly?"
Gee, how joyful could Fang be? That entire sentence was laced with sarcasm. Lightning sighed and gave in. There was no winning against the woman.
"Okay, okay, let's go see Hope." It annoyed Lightning she couldn't fly. Thank you, Great Goddess for taking her wings away.
"Alright." Fang curled her arm around Lightning, prompting the wingless angel to squirm. "Hold tight, and we'll be off."
"This is the best worst idea ever." Lightning muttered.
Fang smirked. Once Lightning's arms wrapped around Fang's shoulders, the tan woman's wings beat a couple of times before the two were airborne. Lightning didn't realize it at the time, but she soon realized she was being carried in a bridal style. Lightning wanted to protest, but she decided against the idea; Fang was, after all, helping her out. Also, it wasn't feasible if Lightning sat on Fang's back. Yeah, that would be absurdly awkward.
Lightning focused her attention on the city below her. Academia was nothing more than a massive concrete jungle filled with roads, hovering vehicles, and tall buildings with unlit neon signs. From this perspective, the humans seemed minuscule, like ants almost. It was a strange sight to see, she admitted, as she was more accustomed to soaring through Valhalla without a care in the world.
Thinking about home made her slightly homesick. She wanted to go back home and glide through the expansive skies while listening to the rolling waves below. When she wasn't flying, she trained on the shores with Odin or meditate in the gardens until it was time to do paperwork or attend the council meetings. That was the life she wanted to return back to. Each waking moment on Pulse was a nightmare.
Lightning's sapphire-colored eyes turned to face the balcony with a large sliding door. Landing quietly on the tiled floor, Lightning carefully slid the door open; she was surprised it wasn't locked.
She glanced over to Fang after she removed the hat. "Aren't you coming in?"
Lightning nodded. She carefully took a step into the room and at that very moment, her beating heart skipped twice. Her eyes locked onto Hope's body fast asleep on the white bed, hooked to a breathing apparatus and other strange contraptions. One of the machines measured his heartbeat. His heart beat in slow rhythms. The angel took another step forward while her eyes raced around the room. Good; she was alone.
"Hope," she whispered as she walked to his bedside. He didn't flinch. "I'm really sorry."
That was all she could say, but why did it feel like an act of cowardice? Why did it feel like she didn't mean it? The angel took a seat by him.
"I really didn't mean to hurt you," Lightning began. "I'm supposed to keep myself in check, and I did a poor job. Look at you,"
Hope remained unresponsive. Unsure of what to do, the angel reached out and placed a hand on his forehead. The young man was almost cold to the touch. Lightning looked at the heart monitor then at the tubes that ran through his veins. All of this was because of her. The angel shook her head in frustration. If only she controlled her strength, Hope wouldn't be in this situation!
"There has to be something I can do," she muttered and straightened her back. Lightning glanced down at her fingers, and an idea struck; she remembered the day she healed Caius's cheek from the bar fight. "Here, I can fix you,"
She was determined to do what was right. Lightning exhaled and focused. With one hand placed on his forehead, the other hand was put over his heart. Lightning juggled through her memories for a healing spell. She took another deep breath and whispered out an ancient spell. No sooner than then the spell was cast, Hope's body glowed, and fluorescent green light weaved through his body, mending the human bit by bit. The spell worked instantaneously; cuts knitted shut, bruises faded, and his bones returned to their original shapes and contours. Green magick raced through his spinal column, his brain, and his nerves, restoring functionality in his entire body.
Lightning performed a miracle, something modern science could not accomplish. Hope was no longer at death's door. Within seconds, the spell was completed, and the angel silently stepped away from Hope. He looked much better; his skin was no longer pale, and color was completely restored to his face. He looked alive.
"You're cured now," she said proudly. His heart monitor picked up speed and his vitals instantly improved. The sudden realization she saved a life lit a fire in her heart. "You're saved."
Her eyes fell on his fingers. They began to twitch. It was a sign for her to leave. Lightning swiftly turned heel towards the sliding glass door. Lightning looked at Hope one more time and left without a trace.
At eighteen hundred hours, Lightning returned to Caius's apartment to find Caius missing. Tossing her jacket onto the couch, there was a note scribbled onto a yellow paper. It said:
Filling in night shift for a friend. Dinner's in the fridge. Preheat the stove for ten minutes before adding in cooking oil and the fillets.
The tartar sauce is on the shelf, next to the mustard.
French fries are in the freezer.
Lightning stared at the note before she tossed it aside. She looked around, and the TV caught her attention. Strolling to the table, she snatched the remote control then turned it on. She came right on time; the news showed Hope in a wheelchair in the hospital lobby. The young man was full of smiles. Lightning watched him calmly answer the questions thrown at him by the news reporters before he curled his fingers around the wheelchair's armrest. To everyone's surprise, Hope stood up.
The angel breathed a sigh of relief.
The doctor's jaws fell to the floor, awestruck by the sudden feat. They looked at each other then at the President. Was this real? How… How was this remotely possible? The President was rushed to the hospital with broken bones and five inch deep gashes to his back and head, amongst other injuries. They operated on him for hours, fishing out glass and metal shards from his skin. And there he stood, upright no less without a single scratch on him.
Do miracles exist?
Hope looked at his hands and arms, devoid of any cuts and bruises. He couldn't explain it; they were gone. There was an indescribable feeling that washed through the young man and perhaps, he thought, by the mercy of the gods or angels, he was reborn. Of course, as a man of science, he wasn't able to confirm his thoughts, but all clues pointed toward one thing; it was an act of divine intervention. It had to be.
"President Hope!" A news reporter called out. "Can you describe what you feel?"
Hope smiled. "I feel wonderful, thank you for asking. I don't know what happened, but when I awoke, I felt brand new. It feels like I just received a new lease on life,"
For the next ten minutes, he answered each reporter's question before he was escorted back to his room. As the young President was wheeled through the hallway, his mind replayed a particular memory. He closed his eyes and remembered hearing a voice. It was a familiar voice, spoken by a woman. He had heard the voice before. But, he had to wonder; was the voice real? Was someone in his room while he slept or was this a figment of his hyperactive imagination?
Hope thought, and thought, and thought yet no answers manifested before him.
I need to know.
Once he was wheeled into his room, he dismissed the doctors and nurses. Hope remained stationary in the wheelchair, but his eyes were already at work, scanning the room for possible clues. There was a chair pulled up next to his bedside; someone was here. It couldn't be his father; his father was out of town, and he wasn't in contact with his relatives either.
Hope pushed off from the wheelchair and slowly approached the sliding glass door. Placing his fingers over the handle, he slid it to the side; perhaps it was expected to spot an empty balcony. Sliding the door shut, the young Director moved to the leather couch and dropped backward with his hand over his forehead. Some things weren't meant to be explained or resolved through science.
Hope inhaled deeply and spoke, "If you're out there listening to me, thank you. Thank you for saving my life."
The room didn't answer. Well, it was expected anyway.
Hope closed his eyes, slowly drifting off to sleep. "Thank you, whoever you are." Then, a yawn escaped his lips. "Thank you so much. If one day we could meet, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me a second chance to live. I'm pretty sure an angel saved me… Right?"