The thousands of droplets of water cascading over the clouds fell to the ground, as if the gray floaters were shedding the entirety of their burdens upon the world below. And it was that their burdens could not disappear, only capable of falling,
and be taken upon the shoulders of another being.
So they fell from the heavens, an army of luminescent angels losing their wings to splash to the barren earth searching for life. The entire landscape of the nation was drenched in the cape of old man winter, frozen, bitter and forlorn. Winter's approach was the farthest in the minds of the citizens; for terror's approach was so much quicker on its feet. It had completely dodged any obstacles, and hurtled forward, finding a home hidden from the cold in the recesses of the minds and hearts of lovers and fighters alike.
It returned with a vicious vengeance at the early dawn and never ceased its attack through the black midnight, its onslaught carrying into dreams turned nightmares. Its clutches could be defeated if only there was more faith. Perhaps in the future present it would be, when people could rally together; but further forward in time, when the summer solstice would bring its rays of unjustified peace and foolish hope.
The word 'loneliness' was never anywhere in the presence of conversation, but biting at the bit to reach the tips of everyone's tongues. And blame was quick to jump to its feet, lovers pointing fingers, scapegoats being brought to light. Only six, however felt most responsible. It was a tremendous feeling, in size and stature, the torrents of water releasing its weight upon their shoulders. In many ways, they were blamed, and were to blame. For they were six fools, and the seventh a master of fools. But regardless, anguish may have begun earlier if not for these six jesters and their equally foolish master who could never learn had not been present.
They began to break apart, tearing slowly at the seams; ripped and shredded pieces of fabric left to blow about in the gusts of the frigid tempests. And they followed their own paths, directions they had been blown haplessly in, results of consequences of actions from so long ago. Six men who each viewed life in vastly alternate dimensions, frames, and perspectives. However different they may have been, they had all come upon some level to accept the blame as the cause of death. How regretful they were over the matter was a different story. And with relationships that branched like delicate spiderwebs, connected them to each other with strings of fate, despite how far they would venture.
When these threads would be pulled taut, and fall into disrepair from misuse, six fallen angels would be drawn irrevocably together again.
Time came to a standstill, as it always did at this time of the morning in this corner of the world. Seconds ticked by, and the figure on the bed would curse each single blink of neon. Each slow blink was another blink without him. And finally, precious and fitful sleep reigned over the figure until -
Alfred bolted upright out of his bed, wrenching the blankets off of him. His hands frantically fumbled for his glasses on his nightstand to make the blurry world seem clear again. He was too out of breath to curse as he knocked over his alarm clock in the hasty search for his glasses. His breath came in short pants, as his chest heaved. Thinking straight was not an option, not that he wanted to. Panic took hold of Alfred in its tight grip before it released him to tumble roughly to a waking state. His hand finally collided with a pair of wire-frame glasses that were cool to the touch. Alfred unfolded them quickly, and shoved them on, regardless of the state they were in. Alfred looked wildly around the room, before exhaling a shuddering breath. His hands came to rest upon his head, as the American began running them through his blonde locks to calm himself. His blue eyes were still wide, conveying his distraught emotions. Alfred could feel the sweat-soaked sheets and the cooling sensation.
The recurring nightmare he had every night, had returned with a vengeance. It was out to utterly destroy him, and swallow him whole. Alfred waited for a few moments, until his accelerated heartbeat had steadied. He gulped unsteadily as he surveyed his room bathed in the surreal white light of the streetlamp outside his window. He noticed the fallen clock on the ground, and bent to pick it up. The digital numbers emitted a soft green glow on his carpet as Alfred bent down for it. The alarm clock was just out of his hand's reach, so he tugged at the black cord that connected it to the electrical socket. Instead of Alfred's intention of pulling the clock towards him, the plug came out of the socket. Alfred groaned silently before winding up the cord and finally pulling the clock onto his bed. With a sharp yank, the clock sat upside down on his bed. The back-up light kept the clock working, and Alfred flipped it over to peek at the time. Time slowed to a crawl, and he could feel his heart stop beating. His eyes widened at the sight of the time.
Alfred didn't hesitate before throwing the clock with all his might and smashing it to pieces against the bedroom wall, opposite of his bed. He was being driven out of his mind. The numbers flashed before his eyes as the corresponding date echoed in his mind, almost mockingly. January 4th. He felt himself slowly spiraling out of control until it finally arrived. The crushing grief that weighed so heavily upon his shoulders. Alfred felt the tears in the corners of his eyes, until his resolve crumbled and he was left with a broken heart. All over again. He dissolved into a fit of tears that wracked his body, sobs breaking the silence of the early morning hours. He gasped, the pain all too real, all too sharp, a razor's edge cutting into his chest, over wounds that had always been open. He shoved the bed coverings off, and blindly stumbled to the bathroom. He stopped in the doorway, unable to walk another step. He collapsed against the door, not bothering to turn on the light. He knew what he would see in his reflection, yet he was afraid of it. On the outside, nothing appeared to have changed. His eyes were still blue, his hair still blonde, his mouth still there. But his eyes no longer held a spark, his hair not golden, and his mouth hadn't smiled since then. Since January 4th.
Alfred was overwhelmed. He couldn't handle the collected feelings within him. He knew without turning on the light there was a hole in drywall from where he had punched it on January 9th. There was a shattered mirror from when he couldn't take looking at his reflection any longer on January 18th. The door had most likely lost its hinges somewhere around the beginning of February. His hand clutched at his head, then his sides until he finally cried out.
"Arthur! It hurts so damn much!" Alfred wailed.
Perhaps, in a different existence; a different dimension, things would not have become such. There would not be bloodshed or sorrow, death and destruction. But instead, there was crimson spilling from speechless lips and tears falling from empty eyes. There amidst the blood and death and hell on earth, stood a lone figure.
Antonio unlocked the door to his apartment, and threw his keys onto the table where a brown, wilted bouquet resided. Antonio left it there, and wondered often if he left it to constantly torture himself. As if it didn't haunt him enough already. He shut the door behind him with a resounding slam. The day had been utterly terrible, and his usually cheerful mood had abandoned him. Not that it had ever fully returned. He decided to keep the bouquet there.
Antonio didn't bother to shed his jacket, and left it on as he walked into the woods behind their - his - no, their - garden. He opened the screen door, and looked around him. He noticed the tomato plant hanging in its pot had long since withered away. The Spaniard finally decided to take it down. He was tall enough that he could reach it if he stood on his tip-toes. Anything to distract him from what was bound to overtake him. Focus on the little things, and he wouldn't remember. Until he had time to think. He reached up to unhook the ceramic pot, but it slipped from his grasp to crash onto the floor. Antonio kneeled to pick up the shattered pieces. As he picked up the pieces, he felt something slice his hand, and heard a sharp intake of breath that he realized was his own. Antonio dropped the shards as he looked as the blood drawn from his wound that stretched across his palm in a thin line. It mixed with the brown earth and the metallic smell brought back memories that flashed through his head at a frightening pace. He froze at the sight of blood, and his breathing became labored. He rushed to stand, and became dizzy. He hurried to open the screen door and walked briskly into his bathroom. He ran the tap water for a moment, and waited until the icy water was at room temperature. He plunged his hand into the running water, and let the cool relief slide over his burning palm. He shut off the water with a twist of the faucet, and grabbed a bandage to wrap around his hand. Antonio stared at his bandaged palm before running to the garden and spinning around to close the door. His back rested against a wall, he felt an unexplainable anger bubbling up. It consumed him, and he finally felt something. After weeks of being shut up inside himself, it all came out. It was like he wasn't in his body, but watching someone else control him. His hand collided with the wall, and he left a dent as he pounded the wall again and again. He knew his knuckles were bruised, but when he saw red blooming across his bandage, Antonio felt like someone had doused him with a bucket of freezing water.
"Mierda!" He looked about him with a sense of cold, clear cut reality.
The winter winds swirled about him, and his breath left frozen crystals to spiral alone in the air. A staunch sense of urgency beckoned him to the forest and the trees beyond.
Caramel and emerald eyes glanced about the clearing as the brunette cast a gloomy atmosphere upon the surroundings. He carried with him his own mood, his own world blending to bleed into the impressionable edges of the surroundings. The snow upon the ground which may have once been a pure white was stained black, and turned to slick ice. The white powder turned to slush and mixed itself wight the dirt, searching for something to corrupt its innocent white. The trees stood tall, dark with the absence of leaves who had long since fled. The clearing was hidden among the snow-laden forest and frozen fields, empty save a lone being sitting listlessly upon a outcropping. The frost in the air bit at any exposed skin, as if in vengeance for attempting to thwart its efforts to chill its victims into a cold and dreamless sleep, never to reawaken.
The droplets of water falling from the skies had frozen, the tears of the clouds bitter and angry, creating a world covered in permafrost. The lamenting beings of heaven spun delicate patterns that were impossible to see, appearing as a blanket of white to the land below. The coverlet of snowfall from the previous blizzard was not to cleanse the world of its sins, but left as a painful reminder of the burgeoning consequences as the man stood, alone.
The frigid flurry left naught but frostbitten toes, drafty hearths and snowflake covered lashes, glad to be rid of the earth in the midst of its chaos. Left in its place, only the wind whipped about the abandoned clearing as pale hands pulled an onyx jacket closer to his body in a vain attempt to preserve any warmth left in the barren landscape.
For even those who appear of frozen hearts seek the warmth in the hopes of a melted and thawed life. And he may have had ownership of it once. Instead, he had traded it for one of solitary companionship.
Now, as he sat in the chilling winter, he allowed himself a brief period of regret. He had not done this often, or ever since the lost days of his childhood. It left him with a powerful mixture of emotions, of unadulterated conscience, bitterness, and anguish. It was crippling, and weakened whatever resolve he had left. Perhaps it was the howling wind that had broken through his last defenses, but he was unable to resist the temptation to experience feelings again after so long.
So his mind wandered, encouraged by the stretch of deafening silence betwixt the regular cacophony of his thoughts. He thought of warmer days of summer, after the destructive tragedy that was his family, when he had fallen headfirst into his next family, all members broken, but the pieces had made a whole. He thought of the time he had first fallen for honey eyes and chocolate curls, made friends with the jester that had the audacity to proclaim he was lost on the road of life, but then again, weren't they all? He thought of that long and frustrating road that was loving an Italian, with no love returned back, until it had been. And it was earth-shattering, mind-blowing, and world-rockingly beautiful when he had finally uttered the words; 'I love you.' And then nothing was complicated any longer. He thought of the first night he had held him close, felt his breath mingle with his own, lashes lowered and hazel eyes, with lips that were too soft to be and irresistible to be anything other than a fantasy. He though of the first night they had fallen beneath the sheets so many winters ago, and how it still felt the same every time he had him. He thought of when he had first breathed the words 'At last,' Antonio's heart would not cease to remind him it was there, as it stuttered to keep up with the beauty and fragility of the man and the moments he loved.
He thought of how he had felt akin to this strange man, who seemed at first glance to have no priorities, but rested with the weight of the entire world upon his shoulders. He thought of the man just like the cherry blossoms blooming in the thawing spring, another lost being. How he had envied him, with a perfect family, and how easily he was willing to sacrifice it all, to be with the jester. In one of his moments of weakness that could be counted on one hand, he hadn't let him make that mistake. He couldn't see where he was destined to be, following the conventions of society and his closest friend. And the last. The boy whose namesake was of the most clever man in all the world. Who he had believed could not possibly understand. As if knowing and losing were not the same as having lost. He now knew, and now he regretted. Their furious bickering would have become friendly banter and smirks into smiles. Threats would have become challenges, and single words, conversations. Hatred turned friendship.
He missed the races with the rest of his friends up large hills, the distinct scent of spices and fresh dirt clinging to every inch of his clothing, and the heaving of his chest as adrenaline and deep breaths rushed through him. He missed nights out at the restaurants with old friends, when the world seemed too huge to possibly comprehend. He missed night skies and stargazing with a man he cared deeply for, and the possibilities of gentle caresses of lips sometime in the future. He missed coming home after a long day, to find friends waiting for him with beer and more food and joys of companionship than he could ever possibly have.
But how could he miss nights he has never had? How could he miss races he had never run? Food he had never tasted? Lips he would never again kiss? Happiness he would never feel?
None of it mattered. He had left the fight in a furious storm, never turning back. He had left with cutting words, and a tear upon his heart. And he had turned. To a life he couldn't have possibly created anything from. But he had been so blinded with hurt, so utterly consumed that there never would be time for an apology he knew they were destined for.
And he had been left alone. Again. Desperate for a family, he had searched for them, and once gathered, he called them allies. But it was not the same. Detached from his emotions, until this very moment.
For the third time in his life, he cried. The tears froze quickly, and stung his cheeks, leaving red trails upon too-white cheeks. Emerald eyes became vermillion as the weeping ran its course. They were soundless sobs, that wracked his entire frame. He wept for what he never had. If he had resisted a little longer, relented in his misery and pain, he could be at home with his lover, and may not have been the catalyst for this destruction. The accident he dreaded with every fiber of his being. The death that would tear apart so many more families and happiness needlessly.
He didn't see the snow swirling around him, brown hair whipping in the wind, scarf billowing behind him as he remained motionless. All he saw were the possibilities of futures he had not known existed. That were no longer possible. Fingers wrapped in bandages swept under unseeing eyes to wipe away the fallen liquid pain. Impossibly his heart wrenched, as he stood, begging him to stay in the clearing, to end his pathetic existence. Willing him to stay in the ice and freeze, allowing the moments of feelings that were welcomed like a refreshing monsoon in a desert that had gone far too long without water. The embrace of an endless slumber beckoned with outstretched arms, but he resisted. For the chances of a future so slim, it could pass through the fabric of space and time.
And so he left the clearing, his black jacket a shadow, followed him. His mind still played the deeply rooted memories that had never existed, like a bird's tune flying high above a Spanish village in the summertime, upon the back of blue feathered wings as children ran about its green hills and civilians walked through tiny alleyways and crowded streets. His mind still played the deeply rooted memories that had never existed, more beautiful than bird's song on a summer's day. His mind tortured him, and all his little matchbox girl fantasies.
Antonio collapsed against the backyard door, and slid down to the ground to a crouching position. What had happened to him? The tears that hadn't come began to flow now.
"Lovino, querido where are you? I need you... " He whispered.
Gilbert ran harder than he had ever run before. His breath taken from him, and his sides killing him, but he couldn't stop. Wouldn't stop.
"Mein Gott, please no! Not Mattie!"
Gilbert dodged perplexed and enraged pedestrians, as he looked wildly about for 3rd Street. The painted street sign hanging from the traffic light swung, mocking him as it read 1st Street. He skidded to a halt as cars and trucks rushed by, a foot in front of him. He panted and looked left and right for a way to get around the traffic signal. The cars speeding by him stopped, and Gilbert didn't wait to double check. Several loud honks startled Gilbert as a car screeched to a halt inches from hitting him. Gilbert dived to the right, and scrambled to his feet. He continued running, and hit the corner of 2nd Street. The lights were working against him. The Prussian had been running nonstop from his apartment nine blocks away.
"Come on! Please, please, please!" Gilbert hit the crosswalk button repeatedly until his hand was numb. He rocked back and forth on his feet, and he felt hot despite the cold January air. Had he been in any other situation, he would have seen a curly brown haired man hitting the crosswalk button on the corner parallel to his with as much ferocity as he had been, or the blonde on a motorcycle revving his motor impatiently, bordering on insanity. Had it been any other situation. He bounced up and down, and stopped as he saw flashing lights a street away. Gilbert froze, until it felt like the air was thick and constricted his throat. His heart dropped to his stomach with a sense of dread.
"God, please! Anything but Mattie! Anything, anyone! Take me instead! No verdammt!" Gilbert cried aloud.
He glanced from right to left, scarlet eyes scanning the landscape from beginning to end. If the man had not known better, or perhaps he had not been the student of his teacher, the town appeared peaceful.
Holiday season had arrived and passed, a time all too short when the inhabitants of the city needed it for much longer. It brought the festivities of the season, and instead of simply going through the motions, civilians and officials alike threw themselves into celebration. There had never been a dedication so deeply rooted to heart after heart, like rose thorn vines embedded into flesh.
For anything to distract the rampant thoughts of minds in turmoil was a welcome sight, the sight of shore after being drowned far too long in dark ocean waters. The man of jesters was no stranger to the emotions overwhelming him, as the powder snow fell from the heavens. The old year had come to pass, and with it, everything that he knew. The new year was welcomed quietly, swept under the rug, as it was the bearer of times and feelings no one wished to endure.
His perspective fell upon the hushed village, villagers struggling through the blankets of soft snow, which would certainly harden and turn to ice by the morning next. It was coming, sooner than anyone could have possibly expected. The sharp winter chill was gone, and in its place, the numb feeling of frozen feet, and faces left exposed to the frosty air. Unintentional deep breaths were released, causing puffs of warm air to appear. The wisps of heat soon disappeared into the rosy morning beyond.
Crimson eyes were the only colors to present themselves, besides the world covered in white and gray, the sky a delicate shade of pink. Morning was slow to wake, and convince itself of its importance as the fourth day of a new year. The fourth morning of a new era.
The young man had sat upon his bed, eyes gazing out the window to view the streets below. The window was barely visible from the streets, but any person walking along the road could easily see the cozy room.
The window had been the first thing he had seen, opening his eyes to the world some twenty years ago. It had been his window to the world, when he had refused to leave his room, his first love gone from every place but his heart. It held a perfect view of the stars, diamonds scattered among the folds of the velvet backdrop of night.
Now, its outlook seemed dim, the ever-lonely sentry's post. The sentry left alone with the sky, the ever-present sky. And his ever-tumultous emotions. Sometimes the sky colored itself with an artist's mediums. Soft washes of pink and orange watercolor, the bold reds and striking acrylic hues of sunset. Every shade of blue pencil, and sometimes, the spilled black of a knocked over inkwell. And all the sentry at his post could do was stand, and bear witness to the colorful images of the heavens, hundreds of miles above. Consumed by the fate of his isolation and thoughts.
Consumed by the what ifs.
He did not blame himself, for how could he have saved someone who did not wish to be saved? But rather, what if he had begun at a different point? When his eyes had first landed upon the demon child, as others viewed him with scorn and contempt, he silently pondered how it came to be him. If circumstances had been just slightly different. He could have been born the chosen son. If it had been anyone else. Anyone but the his father's son. He could have easily hated the world. Lost, lonely, distraught. But he stood straight and tall, met everyone with a smile, as it was his way. Not his personal way, but the way he treated life like it was something precious.
And then he met him.
How could something so precious be so fragile? He had hated it with his entire being, wishing the beginning of his life had never begun. He had hated it, until not so long ago. Desperate for a place in the world, left behind by his friends, and then he had appeared again. And he wasn't alone. Though the trio was not whole, the three were there, together. He falsely proclaimed his love, and it was with a heavy heart that he forced himself to utter the words, and push them past his lips. He was there, and reaching out with his hand, lighting the world. Maybe he had been too lonely, for too long. Perhaps he made everything wrong right again. But if one loved another, they wouldn't try to destroy them. With those words, he felt that he had been branded an outlaw. Someone who committed an unspeakable act. He didn't listen to his false words and empty promises. He understood.
He felt lonely, but was ashamed to admit it to those who loved him. His brother had never uttered a cruel word in her direction, or treated him with anything other than loving care. His friends had not abandoned her when she had most needed it. She had never been the product of a terrible tragedy akin to that of her two friends. So the young man felt that he would be judged. How wrong he had been.
He wondered what would have happened if he had managed to stop himself, from falling. They were so different, like the sun and the moon. Too unique to be compared. When he had fallen into darkness, as the light of the moon left his spirit, the sunlight appeared more luminous than ever. He craved the bright light of day, and the peaceful sounds of birdsong. But when he finally left his dark nights, they still whispered secrets into his listening ears. He had refused to believe them, because his sunshine kept him from falling to the depths of darkness.
It was him.
It had always been him.
His thoughts were interrupted by the shrill ring of his telephone. Seven in the morning exactly. How apt. He let his hand fall against the cold windowpane, tracing little swirls into the condensation onto the cold surface. The city had awoken, people beginning to mill about the streets, leaving footprints in snow banks. The young man unfolded his feet from beneath his blanket, and slipped them into his shoes. His mind slowly drifted as he pulled the sheets taut, and fluffed his pillow before opening the door to his bedroom and descending the stairs to answer the call. He wondered what kind of day it would be.
Some days, all he wanted to do was to build bridges. Others, it was all he could do not to jump off them.
The red light turned green, and three men crossed the space between 2nd and 3rd Street in record time. The man on the motorcycle cut across two lanes of traffic, and nearly jumped off the vehicle before he yanked the key out fiercely. The two men who had crossed the street ran to the police car barricade and slipped between the cars.
The three simultaneous cries hung in the air as the policemen and medics shouted at the three men.
Alfred reached Arthur first, and his fingers barely brushed his jacket before a medic's yell reached his ears.
"Don't touch him! He could be in a lot of pain, and there's nothing we can do."
Alfred recoiled as if Arthur was made of fire. Alfred looked at him, his breath caught in his throat. His face would be forever imprinted in his memories. His face was scratched and bloodied, his blonde hair a complete mess. His green eyes fluttered open.
"Alfred?" He coughed, and Alfred noticed his blood stained shirt with fear gripping his heart.
"Arthur! I'm here now, you don't have to worry. They'll patch you up in no time, and then we can-"
"Alfred... You talk... Too much. " with every word Arthur spoke, Alfred could see him getting weaker. Fading. Passing.
"Don't speak Arthur! We have to get you to the hospital- hey! Why aren't you doing anything to save him?! Can't you -" Alfred didn't want to believe it. Couldn't believe it.
"Sir, we can't save him. His blood loss is too severe. It's a miracle he has held on this long."
Alfred took Arthur's hand in his own, and the medic started.
"Hey! You can't touch him-"
"God dammit! If he's going to, i-if he's going to die, I'm not going to spend his last moments standing like a statue and watch him slip away," Alfred could feel the tears forming in his eyes. He ignored the medic to turn his attention to Arthur.
"Hey, Artie. It-it'll be okay," Alfred's voice broke on the okay, and his bottom lip trembled.
Arthur smiled tiredly. The pain had faded away, as well as most of his conciousness. He had never felt so exhausted before. The pain was so numbing he could no longer feel his finger. It took all of his energy to speak and lift his arm to rest his hand in Alfred's blonde hair.
"You insufferable git... Of course, it will be okay... You'll be fine without me," Arthur tried to remain strong for Alfred, but he had never wanted to cry as much as he did now.
Alfred shook his head, "No Arthur, no! You can't go! I won't let you!"
Arthur frowned slightly, then grimaced as a wave of nausea rolled over him, "Alfred, you know... you can't do that."
Alfred let the tears fall, and as they coursed down his cheek, he held up Arthur's other hand, "But you promised that you'd be with me through everything. Remember?" Alfred pointed at Arthur's simple gold wedding band, as if trying to persuade him.
"God... Alfred. Don't you know that... If I could, I would? Remember our plans Alfred? The plans for... Our future?"
Alfred bit his lip so hard he swore he could taste blood. He nodded his head, because if he spoke, he would break down.
"And Alfred... Love, I'm so sorry... If I could take your pain away, I would but... I have to go soon. And oh God, Alfred! I'm so... Sorry," Arthur felt a tear escape.
"Why Arthur? It's not your fault," Alfred felt choked up.
"The truck... It hit three of us... And I was going to surprise you... When you got back from work..." Arthur felt responsible for it, but he couldn't let Alfred not know.
"Arthur... You didn't know it would happen," Alfred tried to console Arthur.
Arthur feebly shook his head.
"No, Alfred... I... I invited Matthew to eat dinner with us... We were walking back from his apartment..." Arthur felt his heart shatter as Alfred looked at him with eyes so afraid, so frightened.
"What... Matthew?" Alfred's head whipped up. He saw the unmistakeable white hair of his brother's fiancé bent over someone.
"No-God no! Why?" Alfred clutched Arthur to his chest, he head bowed over Arthur. His heart split in two deciding between staying with his husband and seeing his brother. The irrational anger at Arthur, as if it was his fault for killing his brother. The terror of being left alone by his love and his sibling.
"God... Alfred I'm so sorry... It's all my fault," Arthur's breathing was becoming erratic.
"No, shh... a-Arthur. It's not your fault," Alfred's hands tightened around Arthur.
"Hey, tosser, I think... It's my time to go," Arthur's eyes had trouble staying open. Everything was cold and warm, hard and soft, around him.
"No Arthur! Please no!" Alfred tried to think. This wasn't happening. It couldn't be.
"Alfred, I've got to. But I really, really love you... And I never got to say that enough."
"I-I... This can't be happening! Arthur, I love you so much! I promise if you stay, I-I'll eat all your food without complaing, I won't call you anything that annoys you, I'll stay with you every night... I'll do anything Arthur! Please just don't leave me..."
Arthur felt his heart warm, even as it slowed. The world was getting so dark...
"Alfred... Nothing you could do... you did... Made me love you any less... "
Arthur slipped his ring off and pressed it into Alfred's hand. His eyes fluttered closed.
Alfred shook his head. It wasn't happening, it couldn't be happening...
"Arthur? Arthur! Please! Wake up! Don't leave me, I need you... Arthur," Alfred felt the hand in his losing its warmth. He shakily leaned forward to press a kiss against his forehead as he smoothed his hair back. He wanted to retch as the blood staining his hands and face clung to him as if it knew he was the only source of life left to find. Alfred picked up his head to survey the scene around him through blurry eyes. An overturned truck must have collided with a streetlight in a failed attempt to avoid pedestrians. The mangled streetlight was bent beyond repair, and there were tire marks where they must have skidded to a halt. The commotion of sirens and crowd of people passed by in a daze. He knew he would feel the utter despair and all-consuming grief later, but he needed to see his brother.
Antonio kneeled above Lovino, and gently rested Lovino's head against his knees. His hands shook as the amber eyes watched him. His fiery-tempered Lovino was being too quiet.
"Lovino, cariño, can you hear me?"
Lovino nodded, "Of course, you idiota,"
Antonio smiled weakly at the Lovino's attempt to be brave for him. The paramedics had informed him quietly as he shouted that no they could not save any of the victims, except for the truck driver who was still in critical condition. One of them had suffered from an extreme amount of blood loss, Lovino had broken his spine, and Antonio had really stopped listening after that. He had five minutes, at the most.
"Ay dios mio, Lovino... mi tesoro... Yo-"
"Oi bastardo, stop speaking in Spanish. You do that whenever you get all stressed. This is nothing to be stressed about," Lovino's breathing was labored.
"Lovino! You're dyi-" Antonio couldn't finish the sentence. He looked away until Lovino tugged at his shirt hem.
"Hey can you tell Veneziano that he better remeber to feed the dog, and that the potato bastard really... Isn't too bad. I'll admit, I was jealous when he found someone, when I didn't. But don't tell him that part. Besides, I'm not jealous anymore, because I have you Antonio."
Antonio felt his heart constrict painfully. It would take Lovino his deathbed to admit the truth and be honest.
"Ah, God...I have to tell Veneziano... He's going to be devastated..."
Lovino's face twisted at thought of causing pain for his brother.
"Can't you focus on me for once? Merde, I'm dying here. It's always Veneziano this, Veneziano that," Lovino complained, although he was partially teasing him.
Antonio hurriedly tried to say what he wanted before... Well... He didn't want to think about it.
"Lovino, I am so in love with you. Te enamorado."
Lovino would have squirmed if he could. But he couldn't move his lower half, and it took every ounce of energy he could muster to move his hands.
"Che cazzo? Don't you think I knew that already?"
Antonio nodded sadly.
"Yes. But if only I had known Lovino, I would have told you every second of the day, I would have shown you-"
Lovino shook his head, tears coming to his eyes that he tried to hide by squeezing hhis eyes shut.
"You did. Through everything, whether it was bringing home a stupid tomato plant for me, or cooking me dinner after a long work day. I-I'm sorry it always took me so long to say it, but...Dammit! I love you Antonio! Te amo...siempre."
"Ay, Lovino. I always knew you did,"
Antonio felt his heart crumbling, tearing apart, shattering.
Lovino exhaled, "Antonio, I'm so tired."
"Rest, Lovino. But just know that wherever you go, you are and always have been loved more than you could ever know."
Lovino's amber eyes looked up into Antonio's green ones.
Antonio leaned down, and Lovino pressed a kiss against his cheek. His lips were chapped and cracked, too rough and scraping to be any real source of comfort, but Antonio remained quiet.
The Spaniard couldn't feel any tears. He had just become numb.
"Matthew, Mattie, please speak to me," Gilbert began to panic. Matthew wasn't responding.
"Ah, Gilbert. Is that you?" The Canadian looked up, what would have been curiously, if not for the pain.
"Thank God," Gilbert breathed out.
"Why can't I feel anything?" Matthew asked Gilbert. Gilbert felt vulnerable and helpless. He was supposed to be the strong one, and protect Matthew. He had promised him when he proposed. But he couldn't stop this from happening.
"I-I don't know Mattie," Gilbert ran his fingers through Matthew's hair.
"Matt! Oh God Matt!" Gilbert turned to see Alfred Jones, Matthew's twin brother drop to the ground beside him. He looked like a wreck, his eyes were red, and his hands were trembling. The German wanted to shy away at the amount of blood covering his clothes, but nothing on earth or the heavens could move him from his spot by Matthew. Gilbert knew he probably looked the same.
"Hi Alfred," Gilbert swore the politeness of Canadians prevailed.
"How are you feeling?" Alfred asked tentatively.
Matthew chuckled, "I can't feel anything so.."
Gilbert clenched his teeth, and held Matthew closer. Alfred hovered a moment before saying his goodbyes.
"A-and I'm sure they have hockey, and maple syrup in heaven," Alfred sniffled.
"Thanks Alfred. Don't cry, Arthur and I need you to be strong. Besides, we'll be together in no time, right?"
Alfred nodded, and gave his brother an awkward half hug before ruffling his hair and squeezing Gilbert's shoulder. He walked off to give them some privacy, and sort through his thoughts.
They half-heartedly laughed.
"You go first," Gilbert nudged Matthew gently.
"Okay," Matthew began uncertainly, "I think... this won't be the end. It's not a goodbye, but a so long. But I really do adore you Gilbert, and even if you make too many pancakes, or Gilbird is fed too much, don't stop being yourself. I love you for it," Matthew's cheeks pinked slightly. "This is so incredibly cheesy - we should write the inside of Hallmark cards."
"Mattie- It's... the last time, so fuck it if I'm being cliche. God I love you so much it hurts. I can't wait that long to see you again. I-"
"I know you can Gilbert. And you can fall in love again, eh?" Matthew didn't want to selfishly keep Gilbert bound to himself for the rest of his life and cause him pain, although he didn't want Gilbert to belong to anyone else.
"You know I can't Matt. I only love you."
"Arthur! It hurts so damn much!" Alfred wailed.
Arthur felt Alfred's pain. He had seen Alfred relive his moment of death over and over again. Even though heaven was supposed to be constant peace and serenity, Arthur had waited for weeks for the pain to stop, but it just kept cutting deeper. Arthur began to pace, his wrapped sandals barely touched the clouds as he fluttered using his wings. He had never felt like a true angel, even when he saw his first reflection. The halo, the wings, the white clothing, the leather sandals; none of it made him feel like an angel. All he wanted was Alfred, when he was supposed to feel full-hearted with God's presence.
Arthur paused as he recalled God's words to him. He suddenly knew what to do.
"Please Father, let me go to Alfred," Arthur bowed his head before Him, and could sense the divince and infinite presence.
"You realize the possible consequences, do you not Arthur?"
Arthur nodded before confirming it, "I do."
" Arthur, I hope you have not made a rash decision."
Arthur could hear the warning, but there was no malice in the voice.
"I know I haven't," Arthur couldn't believe he was challenging God.
The archangel Gabriel rose from his seat on the left of God's.
"Arthur Kirkland, you hereby renounce your status as an angel of the Father."
With a raise of his hand, Arthur's wings and halo disappeared. Arthur could feel the rush of cold air as he fell from heaven.
God turned to the archangel Gabriel.
"Wouldn't you know, that has been the third angel to fall from heaven to earth in the past fortnight. If no one truly desires to be with them in heaven, they cease to exist,"
"Yes, my lord. The other two also went to ease the pain of their beloved."
Alfred looked up to see Arthur standing in front of him. His pale skin had an ethereal glow to it, that was slowly fading away. He smiled.
"I must be dreaming," Alfred lowered his head.
Arthur stretched out his fingers, unused to the feeling of having earthly limitations again. He needed to show Alfred he was not an illusion, but his heart was somewhere in his stomach at the feeling of seeing Alfred again. It was overjoying, but they only had a few minutes together. Arthur didn't care if Alfred thought he was a dream at the end of the ordeal, but he had to heal Alfred's pain.
"Alfred, you're not dreaming love. I'm really here, " Arthur reached out to touch Alfred's shoulder, reveling in being able to feel his lover again.
Alfred looked up, "Then how are you here Arthur?"
"I-I gave up my position as an angel to be here. I can only stay for a few moments, before I become stardust," Arthur said uncertainly.
Alfred reached upwards, and wiped the tears from his eyes.
Arthur hauled him up, and left their hands intertwined.
"You gave up being an angel, just to come see me for a few minutes?" Alfred asked incredulously.
Arthur swallowed nervously and nodded. He couldn't mention that other part of the deal.
"But... Why?" Alfred looked curiously at Arthur with blue eyes that Arthur's heart had unknowingly yearned for.
"Because I love you Alfred. And you were in pain... And it hurt me so much to see you like that," Arthur looked down at his feet.
Alfred's grip on his hand tightened, he leaned in as he whispered against Arthur's lips.
"Arthur, I never deserved you,"
Alfred closed the gap between them. Arthur had never felt so happy. It was unbearably sweet to be reunited with Alfred. Emotions Arthur hadn't felt in weeks created a tumultuous mixture of feelings. Their lips slipped against each other's, finding the memorized places they had spent forever exploring. The nights Arthur had wished for years to happen, finally did, the first night Alfred had told him he loved him. The nights they would burn together, and morning they would wake up, covered in ashes from the night before.
As they parted, Alfred held him close. Arthur could see himself beginning to fade.
"Alfred... I really have to go now,"
Alfred gave him a pained expression,
"I already lost you once, how am I supposed to lose you again? You're my life... Without you I can't exist," Alfred tightened his grip around Arthur's waist.
"You insufferable git. Of course you can," Arthur pressed a kiss to his chin.
"But... You're not an angel anymore! How can I ever see you again?"
"Just look up to the sky... I'll probably become a constellation, with your brother. He fell from heaven too, to see Gilbert. You're not suffering alone you know."
Alfred's glasses gleamed in the moonlight. Arthur was fading fast,and his unearthly glow growing brighter with each passing second.
"No!' Alfred's shout startled Arthur, and he became frightened as Alfred's grip tightened immeasurably on him.
"Alfred! What - "
"No!" Alfred said again, shaking his head vigorously. "I can't let you go! I won't!"
Arthur watched as the American fell apart before his eyes. He knew Alfred was daft and sometimes stupid, but he loved. He loved people with all his heart.
"A-arthur, you can't go! I want to be with you! I want the lazy Sundays and tea you always drink! I want to be your fanciest shoes, and the way they hurt and you can't wait to take them off! I want to the Christmas lights and glow in your eyes and crumpled wrapping paper after the burst of energy that's Christmas morning. I want the car and the plane and the wide open skies. I want the dancing. I want the dancing in front of a warm fire, or to the music we haven't heard in a long time, but we always used to dance to. I want the humming and the sound of your sleeping next to me. I want rain and your hair soaked in it. I want the noise grocery bags make when you try to carry them in the house all at once. I want laughter that comes on so suddenly everyone thinks our tears are of sorrow and our breath abandoned us like we were sinking ships. I want to be the mirror that watches you disapprove of yourself and I want to be the voice that comes in at the perfect moment to say how beautiful the exact spot you didn't know I knew you were staring at is."
"I want this. I want us. I want photos of us. I want to be proud of us out loud. I want to kiss you like we have forever. I want to make you sigh and I want to take your breath away. I want to dance with you at people's weddings and I want to pick you up and carry you when your feet are tired. I want to wait until you are almost asleep and then kiss your nose and make you laugh so hard with some secret joke that your stomach hurts and you smack me for waking you all the way up so we have to get out of bed and watch city lights while eating cereal at two in the morning. I want the smell of dinner when it's us that burned it because we made love instead. I want handprints on car windows, steamed up from inside. I want you Arthur. I want you."
Alfred's head hung down, the tears falling to splatter on the floor like black ink spills onto crumpled paper.
"I love you Arthur. For a thousand years. For more than that. Forever."
Arthur began to shed his tears.
"I love you too Alfred. Always."
And Arthur faded away, but his glow sparkled, lighting the room. Alfred stepped back, his breath caught in his throat. The glow quickly flew towards his open window, and Alfred ran to see the night sky through his window. He saw three shooting stars fly across the night sky, until they all came to one point, and a bright flash lit the sky, until several new stars illuminated the sky.
Alfred smiled, although his eyes were watering.
A new date was imprinted in his memory, that even when he contracted Alzheimer's fifty years in the future, he would never forget. February 12th.
It wasn't that his life had ever been pitiful, however, there were much worse lives he could have been living. He could have been his father. He could have been his brother. He could have been his students.
It wasn't that his life had ever been sad, every person had to deal with the past feelings of regret, anguish and frustration. There were so many with stories like his own, it made him wonder if there was an author, somewhere out there, who was writing each individual's life story, word by word, brick by brick, and slowly building up their lives, only to tear them back down again. The never ending cycles of emotions too deep and cutting like razor edges. It was all... never ending. The beginnings of things were always shiny and new, only to become tarnished and gray with little to none of their original luster after time had worn on them. All of these things he held precious were gone, and jewels stolen from him. Perhaps there had been a different beginning to his story, but he cared little in the way of that as well. The past had been lived in, so much that it became a comfortable sweater to throw on. He was weary of seeing the same scenes flashing through his addled mind.
In their own little ways, he had met them all over the years. The man's father had been given peace at last, and it pained the jester that his father had been ill at ease even in eternal life because of him. The German was tired of the past, and the present was not all too exciting. The future looked bleak, but it was more of an opportunity than he had ever wished for. He was more than ready to let go of the past, too dragged down by it, like drowning in water that was only a foot deep. He felt that everyone in the community around him lived in their own little bubble, a world crafted from one part misery and two parts pain. He almost wished he had been allowed to pass on with his love. But, it seemed he was needed here, if not by himself, by his friends. He did not rue the day he had been born. He was all too ready to stop peering into the looking glass, and all too ready to welcome the uncertain future.
The man granted himself the reward to watch the rising moon in the horizon, as the sun slowly sank from the sky. He was ready. Ready to leave behind the solid, muted and blurring watercolor pastels to finally feel the cutting edges of razor sharp hues. Sitting on the rooftops of his city, frost in the cool night air forced the moisture collecting on his scarf from his breath to freeze quickly. He could feel the dull numbness fading away, and feel the desired kiss of tangible pain biting gently at his lips. He took in the surreal moment, the hushed city dark, and bathed in the melted silver moonlight and molten obsidian.
The stars like lights floating slowly upon the flowing river just south of the town, and the moon like a silver plate reflecting the light of the sun. He knew of the fiery passion of the sun that would one day soon run out. He knew of the depression soft, springtime cherry blossoms could hold in their petals. He knew of the light that could creep into the blackest of souls, wrenching at the twisted hearts to be set free. He knew of the happiness that might one day be granted to all, or to none, depending upon the abilities of the sun to warm the cherry blossoms, and its sunshine to be released upon the darkness. The man knew it depended upon the soft breeze of the cherry blossoms to cool the burning sun, and the lightest of winds to breathe life back into the most obscure corners. He knew it depended upon the darkness to reach out to the sun, and take its light, none too greedily for all the years it had been missing, and to treat the pink blooms with all of the awe and wonder of leaving behind winter for spring. He knew.
But for now, he hoped for a better future. The man tightened his scarf around his neck as he stood, hands in pockets, and the jacket he had been wearing cast itself like a ghost refusing to be let go. One last glance upon the black and white of the world around him. Like a peasant farmer, dreaming of precious treasures he had never had, a scarecrow royal.
Soon all that was left was the whisper of the wind, and the ghost alone with the moon.
"Matthew?" Gilbert looked about himself worriedly. Sixty years ago, Matthew had shown up as a fallen angel on his doorstep. He hadn't forgotten the date. February 12th. And now, he was here, in heaven. Compete with wings, halo, and his younger body, surrounded by clouds. But Matthew had mentioned that he gave up becoming an angel for Gilbert. He hadn't ever fallen in love again, as Matthew was his only. Sixty long years of dedication, and devotion that had never burned brighter.
Gilbert slowly turned at the familiar voice. He saw Matthew just as he had left him, with sparkling violet eyes and shy smile.
"But... How?" Gilbert was speechless.
"I couldn't tell you at the time, but if you want something enough, you'll have it in heaven. I couldn't influence your choice, but I'm here because you, well, you wanted me. And I'm here to stay. If you'll have me, of course." Matthew tilted his head slightly, silently praying. His wings fluttered uncertainly, and his heart pounded beneath his alabaster skin.
"Yesyesyesyesyes!" Gilbert tackled Matthew in midair. Matthew's wings could not hold the weight of the two of them together, and they crashed to the ground. It was a weight he was happy to carry.
Two other cries of joy could be heard behind the pearly gates as three couples were at last reunited for eternity, pain gone forever.
"Antonio!? Get off me bastard!"
"Ahaha I missed you so much, you have no idea! And don't curse in heaven Lovi!"
"...I missed you too... Idiota."
"Arthur! You're here! I'm so glad I died!"
"Don't phrase it like that you git!"
"But I am! Because you're here now and nothing else matters!"
"Alfred... Can't breathe..."
And that's the story of how three fallen angels rose again, through pure unadulterated love that knows no boundaries.