By Michela

"Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell."

- Simon and Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence

Mikael had thought it odd that I should sleep on a makeshift indoor clothesline rather than our own cozy futon that night. I shuffled the matter off with some light humor, leaving my beautifully demure lover with the shade of pale crimson slowly rising to his cheeks; grumbling about the illicit nature of modern teachers. I would have loved to spend the last few moments prior to the thwarting of Mikael's inner conflicts thriving from the warmth of his comforting, yet hopelessly young body, but I had to be vigilant. Seeing his lovely face immersed in pleasant slumber alone may have phased my mind from forcing him to question himself. I have lived among the holy for centuries, but none could move my heart as Mikael could.

The daunting task of swaying the decisions of anyone high on the angelic order, such as myself, was strangely similar to Mikael's trial of influence on Noelle. However, though simple as her undertaking may have seemed, knowing of Noelle's impressionability, some tasks are ordained for their difficulty; this case is no exception. I had once shared the intricacy of the situation with Mikael in the tranquil moments after a poignant expression of passion: words spoken by some may persuade even the most stubborn, but may be written off as nonsense when spoken by others. Without identification and form, words hardly have meaning. A father can profess hatred with his son and be believed, but a rival can speak the truth and be ignored.

As expected, Mikael awoke in the electric stature of someone rocked by nightmare. With the flick of a light switch, I awoke to see the sight of my distressed lover.

Mikael perched firmly on the ground, formally dressed in front of the Angel Manual.  I had once spent hours teaching it to him, but often enough, our sessions were completely wasted in quiet, trite conversations spoken from each other's arms. Sometimes, we could discuss nothing: the soft rhythm of our hearts would speak more loudly than words. If Mikael were to fall, I thought with despair, that would possibly be the most sorely missed. But for some, I reminded myself, it is necessary to be thrust into conflict in order to ascend. With that in mind, I unleashed the questioning of values lying dormant within Mikael's mind.

"What are you going to do once you're an angel?"

"Ehh?" Mikael responded in disbelief, as if no doubt had ever crossed his mind. I realized then how deeply his lifelong guardians had affected him. All he had ever known until he entered the Angel School was to protect Noelle, and for that purpose, he must tread closely to becoming an angel himself. I may be the only example of a relaxed angel he had ever seen, and that is truly a shame.

"What are you going to do once you're an angel?" I repeated, mirthfully and patiently.

"Did you think all would be perfect once you're an angel?  Or have girls all over you; become absolutely rich, beat up bad guys?  What?"  I suggested, knowing Mikael's thoughts would not be so idealistic.  I presented him with just enough information to make him wonder.  I then slipped into invisibility, moving casually throughout the apartment.

"I have serious desires in becoming an angel!" Mikael shouted, anger coloring his face.

"I have serious desires in becoming an angel!" I repeated mockingly, not trying in the least to stifle my rising laughter. Mikael's convictions have always been strong enough to be thoroughly amusing. If only his passion for me was as publicly sturdy, I thought with a wide smile. At least, I considered more soberly, I'm milking some of the most wonderful moments before I judge his lifetime dedication.

"Don't make fun of me!" Mikael responded, visibly irritated.

He was so fragile, to take seriously even the most good-hearted teasing. I wondered then how severely he might take my next onslaught of questions.

"Then I'll give you a test," I said behind an opened door and a mysterious smile.

"Test?" Mikael repeated, sensing trouble. The puzzled expression on his face was precious, but, no matter how much I wanted to pull on his face, give him a playful nip on the earlobe, and laugh at his confusion, I could only continue seriously questioning him.

"Yeah, a test. Are you ready?" Though appearing in random household nooks, my expression grew serious. For the time being, I was both the angel who loved Mikael and hated to see him clouded with doubt, and the professor who had an obligation to question him. I normally loved my job, but in some situations even I could doubt my given tasks. Though vastly looked down upon among the other teachers for finding love in a student, I chose to keep both my profession and my lover. But in a situation like this one, I regretted my decision to pretend to be higher than even the one I love most. I may be the only one able to bring him down, and now I'm coming close to doing just that, I realized, my stomach sinking. If I didn't know that he would definitely be in need of my inquiry in order to pass his test, I may have rejected it, even if it meant losing my status as the professor of the Angel School: the life I have led until now. I carried on from the minute hope this would help Mikael pass his assignment and live with me, if only for a little while. I'm truly a romantic, I reminded myself, but if I weren't, I'd lose all hope for the most important being to me. If I lost that, I would only be a shell of the angel - the man - I am. Perhaps I'm only an idealistic human with one wing and a halo, but that is what draws everyone to me.

While visualizing both Mikael's rise and fall, I formed the perfect question to make him think deeply about becoming an angel.

"Question: What happens once you're an angel? Give your answer in haiku."

As expected, Mikael did not finish this obscure test, and it was time to give him the truth, then disappear from his presence until circumstances brought us together fully again.

"To everyone known,
To all the people on Earth,
You will say good bye."

You may even have to say good-bye to me. Hopelessness clouded my thoughts once again.
"Good bye? What do you mean?" Mikael inquired, confused and surely beginning to feel as small as I was to him.

"You won't be able to see anyone like this." I continued.

"See anyone?" He repeated, mulling over the words.

"You really didn't know?" We teachers had danced around these unavoidable facts, hinting but never blatantly telling our students. Until now, Mikael was included in this example. The majority of students could not handle the truth, and even Mikael could be torn apart by it.

"But that's...!" He frantically searched for the answer, but it fell short.

"You didn't know, but you wanted to become an angel. Why? For what reason?" This is the question he would spend the day, and if he failed, his entire life, trying to figure out.

"Because... Raphael-sama, where are you?" Mikael searched desperately, not wanting to face himself for fear of losing all he has ever known.  If that happened, it may lead him into madness. The idea in itself was frightening, and Mikael in some moments, even when I was beside him, was delicate enough to fall.

"Why do you want to become an angel, even though you don't know the consequences? Ne, Mikael, what are you going to do, once you're an angel?" The final blow was finally torn from my thoughts in a whirlwind, and Mikael would have to be caught in it, lonely and without companionship, until he could gather his reasoning.

"I..." My unseen face turned downward as Mikael began to shiver like a child lost, alone in a forest at midnight.

"I wouldn't know until I become an angel!"

The room turned completely silent. The true test had begun. Once I had made myself completely insusceptible to Mikael's eyes, ears, and to his touch, he became frantic. A moment before I had asked if he was scared, and he denied my accusation. Now, it was apparent he was indeed frightened. He cried my name in vain, searching for any indication of my presence. I knew to give him one clue; Noelle was the key to setting the climax in motion. I pushed our apartment door ajar, and Mikael, knowing the action involved me, abruptly ran outside, still shouting my name.

I glided soundlessly alongside Mikael, pausing when he paused to search for a sign of my presence; only succeeding in taking in the fair morning. He continued wandering until the journey overwhelmed him, identical scenery seemingly swirling about him endlessly; his eyes fixed in an expression of hurt and confusion. Only when a baseball rolled to his feet and a smiling little girl whom he knew so well merrily dashed toward him did he become truly aware of his surroundings.

"Ka-Kael-san? Good morning." Noelle jovially addressed, not seeming at all scathed by her own nightmare.

"Noelle..." he replied, sounding detached.

"Pass! Pass! Kael-san! Pass! Pass!" Noelle exclaimed, waving her baseball glove in anticipation for the return of her ball.

"Nice Pitch!" She remarked.

Mikael gathered himself and greeted Noelle in the most polite manner possible. "Good morning, Noelle." He seemed to be too sullen even to correct Noelle's use of his name; he was clearly spooked by the events of the morning swirling together in his mind to care.  All he could do was stammer a greeting.

"Good morning, Kael-san," she said while formally bowing to Mikael.

"Good morning to your friend, too," she continued, noticing my presence.

"Good morning," I proclaimed, waving appreciatively, a warm smile appearing on my face.

I beamed. Only someone so angelically close to Mikael on Earth could feel my existence. Apparently, since Noelle held components, her endless cheer for example, of her character only given to Mikael sparingly, she was able to be aware of my presence at all times, even when I made myself invisible to Mikael, one of the only others who could sense me in general. Perhaps Noelle can't experience me in other ways that Mikael can, I wondered, smirking slightly.

Mikael, on the other hand, was mystified.

"My name is Noelle. Nice to meet you!" she introduced herself gleefully, playfully tossing her baseball to me.

"And I'm Raphael. It's a pleasure to meet you," I replied genuinely. Noelle seemed to fill my heart with her own unprecedented joy. It was no surprise that she was a part of Mikael; they both touched something inside. They could make even the most miserable individuals stop for a moment and smile. Presently, not only did Noelle bring me this sensation, but Mikael gave it by the comic expression plastered on his face from worry and confusion. He was always at his most precious when embarrassed.

"Pass! Pass! Pass!" Noelle implored while I shook myself from my reverie. As Mikael looked around frantically, I ran in the opposite direction of his gaze and threw the ball back to Noelle.

"Nice pitch, Hael-san," she commented.

Meanwhile, Mikael resumed his state of panic. "Noelle!"

Disregarding Mikael's sudden outburst, Noelle continued in her fascination of me.  "Hael-san, are you an angel?"

"Indeed," I replied.

"Noelle!" Mikael resumed his attempt at gaining attention, still swiftly turning his head, searching for my position. Once again, I maneuvered to a random spot and prepared for Noelle's pitch.

"Nice catch!" Noelle remarked, still unaware of Mikael's cries.

"Can you see Raphael-sama?" Mikael inquired to Noelle anxiously, somewhat shocked that I would share my company with Noelle.

"Hael-san's wing is beautiful. I want to touch it," Noelle marveled, seemingly forgetting Mikael's presence in general.

"Hmmm, Mikael has certainly touched --" I started, but was interrupted by Mikael, stammering, desperately trying to cover my appearance.

"No! No! No!" He implored, finally gaining Noelle's interest.

"No?" Noelle asked innocently, ignorant of Mikael's perceived seriousness of the situation.

"It's a fake replica," Mikael fabricated, rolling his eyes and scratching his face. Honestly, he was a terrible liar and could never manage impromptu motions and conversation well. Surely, it's good for him he has someone who can, I thought, then felt a pang of hurt as a premonition of Mikael running swiftly away from me, alone and frightened, rippled through my mind like a clear pool of agony. As I expected, he would even leave me on a whim, I thought, miserable, as Mikael tried to convince Noelle my wing was fake.

"A fake replica?" She asked, clearly interested.

"It'll break if you touch it. Right, Raphael-sama?" Mikael remarked, attempting to capture my elusive consideration. Again in an opposing course to his gaze, I reclaimed Noelle's attention.

"Noelle," I whispered, gesturing in my direction.

"What, Hael-san?" Noelle listened intently, and I couldn't help but smile at the alarmed look on Mikael's face.

"Who are you talking...?" Mikael struggled to grasp my whereabouts.

"Actually, Mikael thinks many assets of mine are too good to be real," I remarked with a chuckle, knowing Noelle would not be able to comprehend my implications.

"Really? Kael-san?" Noelle questioned naively.

"Wait a minute! Raphael-sama!" Mikael shouted, blushing furiously. Truthfully, he would be more mortified if he knew what I actually said.

Within my mind, the obligation of the day resurfaced.

"Noelle, let's have a conversation about angels."

"Huh? Angel? A conversation about angels?" She repeated, visibly enthralled.

"Oh, no. Weather! It's about weather!" Mikael sputtered, the grip on his dignity slipping rapidly.

Always about the weather, isn't it, Kael-san? I thought, smiling at memories of lying on the roof of our apartment, watching the clouds turn and the stars glisten.

"It's very nice weather," she remarked.

"Nice weather, nice weather," he confirmed, sweating fretfully.

"Hey, Hael-san, can I touch your wing?" At Noelle's curious inquiry, Mikael nervously ambushed her, trying to shift her interest once again from me. To regain her attention, I decided to press the matter further.

"So Noelle, what would you really like to talk about?"

"Hael-san, a conversation about angels."

I nodded and stifled a giggle. "Tell Mikael he needs to lighten up," I brightly added.

Obediently, she turned her head in Mikael's direction and proclaimed, "Kael-san, you need to sound more cheerful."

"I caught a cold, so can I go home, Noelle?" Mikael said, gathering a fake cough.

"Sure, Kael-san," Noelle took both of Mikael's hands in hers, shook gently, and assured, "see you later."

"Just wait here and we'll talk," I whispered into Noelle's ear for effect.  There was nobody around to listen, unless Mikael figured out what I was trying to do.  It felt sometimes as if he could read my mind.

Mikael sauntered away almost proudly, relieved at the thought of protecting Noelle from my influence. However, as he turned his gaze to meet Noelle's perpetual smile, his suspicions arose and he said nervously, "Actually, Noelle, I would like you to walk me home. Let's go together."

I happily followed my now-blushing lover and his rosy-cheeked companion, sure that Mikael was worried about my conversation with Noelle. Mikael had been told he would have to perform his test, like all other experiences in his life, alone. Most other students, unless given a group examination, would be alone as well. However, many of them at least received counseling from friends on the matter, so I took the liberty of helping Mikael myeslf. I had already broken countless rules as his teacher by falling in love with him, and because it was beginning to be accepted among my fellow staff members, (why else would they let me vacation at the exact time and place of my young love's final assessment?) they condoned my interference with Noelle on this day's testing of Mikael. This, in itself, was designed for Mikael's infuriation. There in lay the test itself -- would Mikael accept the honor of being an angel, through the difficulty, anger, and frustration weaved inside his final examination? I pondered this as my ridiculously fundamental partner tried desperately to steer his discussion with Noelle away from the angelic.

Mikael's steps progressively moved more quickly.  He was practically stumbling as he climbed the stairs leading to our homely little apartment. He opened and courteously held the door for Noelle, who sauntered inside, humming noisily. As he began to close the door, he considered for a moment and held a hard stare in what he presumed was my direction, though I stood perpendicular to Mikael's absurdly fierce glance. Smirking, I snuck close enough to be able to touch Mikael, and playfully kissed him on the cheek.  Mikael blushed furiously and slammed the door, but I had already slipped inside.

"Kael-san, your face is all red, maka maka," Noelle observed, fascinated with the sudden change in Mikael's countenance.

Mikael flushed further, his face reaching the color of a ripe tomato, grown in mid-August. I couldn't help but grin at Mikael's becoming vulnerability. Punctuating my desire, I gave him a modest peck on the opposite cheek, to which Mikael yelped and sprang backward, visibly perturbed.

"Ooh," Noelle marveled, eyes widening.

Mikael stopped flailing his head in search of my location for a moment and paused to face Noelle, searching for words.

"Welcome to my home. I'll find something in the kitchen for you to eat, and I would be much obliged if Raphael-sama could join me," Mikael declared politely, raising his voice at my mention. Knowing each one of Mikael's testimonies would allude to the nature of his completed test, I followed his quiet paces into the kitchen. Once inside, Mikael didn't hurry to start lecturing me.

"I don't understand your motives, Raphael-sama. Bringing Noelle into this... shouldn't tests be completed on one's own power?" Mikael exclaimed in the only way he knew how to be angry -- calmly; carefully, only slightly allowing the tightness of his voice to escape.

I then remembered what would happen if Mikael lost is mental grip. To him, I was ruining the few chances of passing his final test to become an angel. What he did not know may have even hurt him more: I was not spoiling any portion of his test in the least, but what I was doing was testing whether or not he had the drive to obtain sacred angelic responsibility. He had spent his life building his confidence, and I was the one prepared to question and perhaps destroy it. It was a simulation, really. The day's test conjured an obstacle he must face in order to properly pass his final exam. If he handled it well, our relationship would resurface completely unscathed, even improved. If not, he would hold his grudges, temporarily escape from my presence, and I would feel used, mercilessly manipulated by my duty. In actuality, I wanted nothing more than to have Mikael share a life with me, human or angel, no matter what I would have to give for it. Mikael's problem with my intervention was that he seemed to take everything too seriously, especially a drastically life-changing event such as his test. At times, I didn't know what Mikael wanted more, comfort with me, or angelic rank. I agreed to prepare this quiz for him because the best option was to have both sanctity and love, though it is difficult even to make out the two from each other. To love is to be holy.

Mikael placed an elegant silver teakettle (the only particularly classy item provided in our apartment) on the stove and automatically pulled all needed silverware out of the drawers. He fished the refrigerator for something simple to serve Noelle, preferably a leftover by the manner in which he slid ingredients to one side, sighing dejectedly. We had cooked together the night before, as usual.  Mikael reluctantly did any chore by himself. Just as well, I hated to witness the exasperated look on his face as he fixed a meal or completed any chore for that matter, alone. Even in a filled room, he always seemed lonely unless I was by his side.

Eventually, Mikael found the youkan we had made the night before.  Picking up the dish, he gripped it almost nervously, and I could tell he was having trouble deciding whether or not to serve it.  We had meant to eat it at dinner, but when we finished the main dish, I saw Mikael watching me.  The setting sun turned the sky a bright burning amber and the colors reflected quickly in his eyes.  He was irresistible, and the meal was forgotten, our thoughts turned to each other.  After a few heavenly moments, Mikael raised his head to look at the table, where all the dishes were empty except for the ignored youkan.

"We left the youkan, Raphael-sama," he had said lazily while leaning against me, his eyes no more than half open.  I began to laugh softly.  Mikael blushed at first, but then smiled as he realized how random the comment had truly been.

"Let it wait," I had told him softly, wrapping my arms around him and holding him closely. Even now, I realized as Mikael held the dish with a questioning eye, I can still feel the sensation of my lips gently caressing Mikael's forehead.

Mikael was still holding the youkan, and I could tell from his expression that the dish reminded him of the previous night's dinner, but there was nothing else to give Noelle.

He cringed as he came to the same conclusion.  It had always been Noelle.  He had been hearing her name for his entire life.  I might have been the only person willing to teach him without mentioning her.  I was valuable to him; I knew it, and that hurt badly enough that I considered reappearing.  It was too late, though; he was too deep into his testing for me to tell him the real reason I had disappeared.

The teakettle whistled, pulling me out of my reverie.  Mikael halfheartedly prepared three small cups of tea, carrying them out to Noelle with the youkan.  He was angry enough to sacrifice the symbol of our exploits the last night, and somewhere deep down, that hurt.

"So this is where Kael-san and Hael-san live," Noelle observed, once we had all gotten ourselves settled around our tiny cherry wood table.

"Sorry for serving youkan in the morning," Mikael said by manner of apology. Always proper, my Mikael, I thought, a smile spreading across my cheeks.

"Do you two live together?" Noelle asked innocently.

"Well... Living together..." Mikael considered. Of course, he would present our relationship as platonic. He had always been leery of describing our relationship with others. Not only that, but he absolutely hated my outward sexual advances toward him, especially in public. Though Noelle was naive, she was by no means closed-minded. She would always find a way to love any concept and person, no matter how strange they may seem. I decided to tell her the truth about us, even though it embarrassed Mikael.

"Mikael is special because he's a baby," I started on a slightly bizarre note.

"Kael-san is? Really?" Noelle marveled, quizzically turning her head to one side.

At this, Mikael became distressed, looking about him frantically for some sign of relevance to the source of Noelle's curiosity.

"Yeah, ask Mikael," I remarked casually, pointing my thumb in Mikael's direction.

"Kael-san, is it true?" Noelle inquired, wide-eyed.

Mikael paused for a moment in consideration, then decided to take the plunge.

"W-well... Sort of..." he stuttered, scratching the back of his head and laughing nervously.

"In reality, he loves me a lot. Right?" I revealed Mikael's inner sentiments nonchalantly.

"Right?" Noelle encouraged.

"Uh... Um... Yes!" Mikael proclaimed hesitantly, yet nonetheless excitedly, as if the conversation didn't involve him.

"I'm the most important person in the world to him," I continued, leisurely patting my love on the shoulder.

"That's beautiful!" Noelle exclaimed. My smile broadened; I had known her reaction would be so wonderfully supportive.

"Of course!" Mikael exclaimed, suddenly eager.

"He wants to live with me forever," I explained smoothly.

Noelle hummed appreciatively while a thoroughly confused Mikael made an attempt to appropriate himself to the conversation.

"I see, that's how it is."

"What's that mean?" Noelle asked, confused at Mikael's outwardly random comment.

"Uh... Exactly!" He cried.

"Really?" Noelle delved, leaning in curiously.

"Really! Noelle, you should drink your tea while it's still warm," Mikael advised, trying to change the subject.

"Aren't you and Hael-san going to eat, too?" She inquired politely, genuinely.

Mikael started, "Um, we're..."

"You don't like it?" Noelle asked.

"We like watching you enjoy it," I said matter-of-factly, as Mikael attempted to stammer a response.

"Then, I'll eat," Noelle proclaimed joyously.

"Delicious?" I inquired politely.

"Yeah, it's more pasty and sweet than Jasmine Jelly," she declared.

"Jasmine Jelly?" Mikael and I both leaned in at the same time, somewhat astonished at the unfamiliarity of the name.

In a Noelle's true fashion, she announced, "I love Jasmine Jelly too! It's so smooth, slurpy, and pururun!"

As I could think of other chosen, enjoyable treats that fit the description of Jasmine Jelly, I remarked, "I'd like to try that."

"Okay. I'll go make it," she decreed merrily.

"Make what?" Mikael, yet again, was lost in our exchange.

"Jasmine Jelly," Noelle stated.

"Noelle, you don't have to do that," Mikael declared, still grasping his manners tightly in the insanity of the morning.

"I want to see Kael-san and Hael-san enjoy it, too," she repeated my prior comment gaily.

"Me and... Raphael-sama?" He finally caught my gaze, utterly baffled.

"Kael-san and Hael-san! Wait for me!" Noelle yelled excitedly, rushing to make the tasty blend for Mikael and I.

Mikael waited until we were alone, then began his, seemingly prepared, interrogation. "Raphael-sama, what were you thinking? You talked with Noelle. Who knows what will happen now? Are you mad at me? Was it some kind of punishment? Will you answer me?!" He paused after each question, listening expectantly.  Finally, he burst, "Raphael-sama, PLEASE!"

"Excuse me! Could you be a little quieter in the morning?" A neighbor implored. Apparently, this wasn't the first time she had to bang on our door, seeking silence from our incessant noisemaking.

Mikael paused in consideration; then sunk to the ground, defeated. Yet again, he felt alone and overwhelmed by the vast difficulties of life.

For a moment, I reconsidered my actions. How could I lead my own lover to question his will?  It is my duty as his professor, not as his partner, I cruelly mused. It is his decision alone to follow the struggle of a higher calling. Someday, he will realize this test was intended to represent the uncertainty of living divinely. Nevertheless, I feared, my own actions could drive him away from me. This idea in itself caused my heart to ache, as it had not since the Great Rebellion.

Like Mikael, in my stint as the human boy Fuyuki, I came to know my calling was not that of most humans. Fuyuki... the name represents in every way the manner in which Heaven uses me. Angels are given free will, but we are bound in servitude with our maker. Surely, we're paid lavishly: the sensation of using our wings to soar above the ground and to stand in His (I'm sure we don't need introduction to whom I'm addressing here) shining presence is reward enough. But sometimes, the tasks the highest order bestows upon us are often what drive even the most holy away. It even drove Lucifer, a Seraphim, to the depths of the unholy. Often, the most gifted are the first to fall into insanity.

I was startled to find the Metatron, The Voice of God, call me to appear on Earth, but not as the self I had found and, as which, lived for centuries. I was asked to leave my very identity and status as the renowned, yet unconventional, professor of the Angel School to become human for over fifteen years. When asked for explanation, The Voice evaded his ever-somber expression to shout cheerfully and with a cocked eyebrow, "To help the one you will love! Expect his arrival upon your return."

Honestly, He has the most sadistic sense of humor. Now, I realize I absolutely love it. To my surprise, I realized His prophecy was true. In the very year I returned to the ranks, as of then, my memory was intact, along with a new, humanlike, awareness brought from Fuyuki, a somewhat aloof, bashful young boy who I had only seen in dreams then entered my classroom, and, in turn, my heart. Somehow, through my denial, (I was his teacher, after all. Even in Heaven, it is hardly moral to pine over a student) I understood what He had meant. And yet, at this very moment, it could be torn from me in Mikael's own vicious storm of emotion.

As Mikael waited, lingering at his seat, I maneuvered about him.  At times, I paused to gaze into his transfixed expression. To a person like Noelle, it was obvious he desperately needed and fully deserved a hug, and I would have loved to indulge, but my nagging sense of duty forced me to stay where I was. The concerned expression on Mikael's face was enough to make the pit of my stomach drop. All I want to do is run my fingers through his soft, shining hair, feel the length of his body against mine, stare into those lovely sunset-golden eyes, and tell him everything is going to be all right. But all I can do is watch him stare coldly at the floor, waiting for me. He felt abandoned by me, the one reason he handled his mission. Truthfully, if he ever were convinced to drive himself away from me, I would follow him to the end of this world and farther. Wherever he would go, I would be there. I wanted to tell him then he would never be alone again, because at this instant not only did Mikael need me, but I also needed him equally. The ordeal pained me, deep within my heart. I had sent the one I love, the reason I live, to question his values. I was the one who turned away from him, and in the end, I knew if he rejected me it would be my own fault.

Invisible by Mikael's side, I reflected. Because I love him, his pain is my own. The teacher inside me feels only sympathy, but I, as a soul undefined by his work, am in a world of pain, one that often causes the imbalance of a heavenly being. Even after living as Fuyuki, I have to experience human feelings. That is the angel's dilemma. My precious love is right beside me, but I can't reach him. I have traveled leagues away from him without leaving the room.

The day drifted by sluggishly. Mikael carried on as if in a trance, contemplating deeply and surely blaming himself for my disappearance. He often made attempts to communicate with me, though understanding I would not respond. I knew well he was weighing the worth of our relationship and it's interference in his mission. When the sky turned to the color of falling autumn leaves, he sighed and began to gather his few possessions into a shabby sports sack -- the only parcel he would need to carry.

"Well, I'm leaving. Raphael-sama, you're the one who said you wanted to live here. I have no reason to continue living here. Raphael-sama, take care. Please clean, wash clothes, and cook by yourself," he stated while walking away, as if his declaration and gestures had been scripted.

What had originally been a speech planned to coax me to reappear and convince Mikael to stay had turned into a false realization for him. His unrequited words led him to believe the worst: that I didn't care. I was not shocked to see a reaction like this, but it pained me deep inside to witness it.

Finally, he let his pseudo-calm slip for a moment before returning on swift feet to the dining room and shouting, "I'm really going to leave! Is that what you want?!" In a huff, he dashed out of the apartment, running quickly but carefully down the stairs. In a haze, I followed;I promised myself I would never leave him.  If Mikael left the apartment, I found no Earthly reason to stay either. Suddenly, Mikael was stopped by a piercing "Kael-san!" emanating from Noelle.

"Noelle," Mikael exclaimed, haulting.

"Look! Look! The Jasmine Jelly is ready! Doesn't it look delicious, Hael-san?" Noelle called, her everlasting smile growing broadly.

"Hael-san? Raphael-" Mikael began, baffled that I should follow him. I knew this was a turning point in Mikael's test, and I made that known by appearing to him after hours of being lost to his eyes, ears, and touch.

Noelle's family always was quite a sight to witness, but this one, even for them, was greatly bizarre. The Jasmine Jelly Noelle had promised to make required the strength of the entire family to hold: it was nearly the size of the bedroom in the apartment Mikael and I shared. The entire scene, in itself, was absurd. Strangely enough, it touched me. Noelle had always been the sweetest of people, but the lengths to which she would venture for a practical stranger, barely even an acquaintance, and were greatly heartfelt.

"You really made it for me, " I said with no visible emotion but bewilderment as I mulled over the happenings of the day, leading up to this moment.

"It was a promise. I'll come over there," Noelle exclaimed courteously.

"Whoa! Wait a minute, Noelle!" Yuusuke yelled as Noelle began to sprint excitedly, ignorant of the danger it may pose. Collectively, both the jelly and the family swayed uncontrollably, all screaming in alarm. The panic reached a climax when Papa slipped, causing everyone to lose grip on the jelly and plunge to the ground.

Distress filled me. My adrenaline pumping, I dashed to save Noelle. I was blinded by fear as I passed completely through the gargantuan dish of falling Jelly. I was determined to aid the one who had so kindly thought of me on a hard day such as this one. I reached for Noelle, putting all of my weight into the lunge. Noelle came to me, but I felt nothing. My eyes widened as her body drifted completely through mine. For that moment, time slowed. I observed the plummeting Noelle with a final pang of inner defeat. Mikael no longer seeks my counsel, and now even Noelle cannot reach me, I dejectedly mused as Noelle hit the soil face first. I heard the smush of the Jelly being impacted between the lawn and the giant dish, but I could not tear my eyes away from my hands. Everything is slipping through my fingers, I continued deliberating, despondently.

Mikael rushed to support Noelle, taking no notice of my misery. Noelle clutched her face for a moment, then, in her strange resiliency, commented only on the smashed jelly.

Perhaps then, Mikael would understand how impossible it would be for me to truly interfere with his test. He observed in mystification as Noelle curiously experimented with him, and later my apparent lack of physical solidity. Obviously, someone so close to Heaven such as Mikael would be able to touch me, but I had a complete inability to connect with most humans, even an Angelic spirit such as Noelle. On Earth, I thought, I have no friend, no ally, no comfort but Mikael, and now he wishes to stride out of my life on this planet and perhaps to continue his task alone as he began.

"Kael-san, you're warm. You're warm, but..." she marveled while Mikael fidgeted from the unexpected throttling of Noelle's exploring hands. My gaze was turned to the ground.

I'm not Mikael, I thought, I'm not the one to save Noelle. Noelle is like Mikael wrapped in his thoughts, always so close, but unreachable to me.

"Hael-san is..." there was a slight swoosh, as Noelle's entire body drifted through my legs.

"I try hugging Hael-san, but there's nothing there..." she remarked in quiet disbelief as she attempted to cup my hand around her own tiny, feminine hands, but felt nothing but clear air.

"You're not warm... you're not cold... You're this close, but you seem far away..." she continued as Mikael gasped in bewilderment.

"I wonder why?" As Noelle exposed every one of my insecurities, I wanted nothing more but to answer each and every one of her questions. I wanted to tell Mikael that his task did not disregard him and in actuality, revolved about him most of all; that he was important, not only to Noelle, Silky, Yuusuke, and the Angel School, but, above all, to me. But all that dared to escape from my trembling lips were, "I'm sorry... I wasn't lying when I said I wanted to try it." At that very moment, the whole of the pain, fear, and anguish I underwent during the day appeared unmistakably upon my face.

"That's okay!" Noelle exclaimed merrily. The innocent girl then waited, humming gleefully, while her family recovered and seemed to walk painfully back into their grand, vibrant house. Mikael and I remained in our positions motionless, Mikael's eyes ever wandering, my face downtrodden. Eventually, Noelle returned to clear the scattered remains of her daylong effort. She gaily approached both Mikael and I, but she seemed to respect our silence, only pausing to jovially grin before cleaning and lugging the gigantic dish loudly across the street.

We were alone once again when the sun made its final decent into the horizon. As the sky turned a deep navy and the glint of the first few stars began to appear in the twilight, Mikael sighed, his body slacking more comfortably to meet the new atmosphere.

"Let's go home, Raphael-sama," he said quietly, his eyes not daring to meet mine. We both gathered ourselves and walked into our tiny apartment wordlessly. Immediately upon entering the room in which we spent the most time together, Mikael unpacked his luggage. Though my gaze was fixed upon him, his eyes still refused to meet mine. It was then when I decided to break the silence.

"You decided not to move out. You were thinking of what happens after becoming an angel, and your uncertainty drove you away from me."

Mikael took the little manual he cherished so much, stared at it sadly, and whispered, "Ever since I was little, I have been told to protect Noelle. To do that, I entered the Angel school, learned many things from you..." His tone turned urgent, as if he was begging me to understand his inner thoughts. "That's all I have! I can't just change...!"

"That's fine. That's fine, Mikael," I reassured him, my eyes closed to block the flow of tears.

"Raphael-sama," he marveled. His next action stunned me. He slowly made his way towards my perch at the windowsill and ran his hands gently upward, across my stilled form. The gesture was beyond words; he was assuring me that, even if I could truly touch no human, he would support me as he always had. I could feel nobody but him, but that alone rose higher than the reaches of all human kind.

My senses were heightened, but all I could possibly do was grab his hand and plead, "Stay here... stay here for a while, Mikael."

Mikael complied.

All that matters, I reflected, is he will stay with me, if only for an instant in the face of eternity. We may be torn apart in the future, but I will never forget these moments for all of my never-ending life. In this life, I've felt higher than any human, but with Mikael... I turned my gaze to the earnest eyes of the one I loved. For that moment, I was lost. With him, each second is beautiful, and every second afterwards grows even more special.

The most wonderful realization of that night was not only did I desperately need Mikael, but also he longed for me in return. And not only did I want everything Mikael could possibly give to me, but I saw in the stunning glint of Mikael's golden eyes that he wanted it from me as well. To Mikael, I was a father, teacher, best friend, and lover. As for me, no mere words could truly express Mikael's meaning. The only exceptions would be represented with worldly sensations: the smell of a fully bloomed peach rose, the softness of a ripe pear rubbing against hungry lips, the warmth of a freshly baked pastry. To me, Mikael embodied breathtaking beauty in every form, every language, and every sense. That night, when the stars shone brightly in the sky, when my only awareness was Mikael's hand stroking my hair, I gently gathered my body to his and we both shared the depths of our feelings with one another. We expressed ourselves completely without speaking, only ceasing to murmur and, at times, gasp each other's name into our ears.

In the wee hours of the morning, after our sanctuary of love had been built within ourselves, I privately thanked the creator for granting me the privilege of Mikael's presence. With the comfort of Mikael's fingers intertwined with mine, I fell into a blissful sleep.


I awoke to the loud clanging of dishes, the rustling of grocery bags, and the clock blaring the hostile hour of 7:20. I bolted upright, at first thinking it high time to dress for school and half-ass a lesson plan. It was then when I remembered I was on paid vacation, I shared a room alone with my beloved, my duty to question him was over, and we were still together. But there was one problem. It was a Sunday, and Mikael apparently had refused to sleep in with me again. I lazily rolled out of the futon, found and put on a crumpled, but conveniently placed pair of pants, yawned, and strode toward the kitchen. As I slid the door, Mikael gawked at me, golden eyes popping. A fragile porcelain dish slipped from his hand in his shock, shattering on the floor with a loud crash. While Mikael seemed to be having his own struggle with my early waking, all I noticed was, over his neatly pressed school clothes, a pastel blue apron.

"Why are you --" we both stammered at the same time. I failed to stifle a giggle, and Mikael's face burst into a shade of painted scarlet.

Mikael stammered, trying to find the will to speak before I decided to blurt something that may or may not turn his face a brighter red tint. I indeed beat him to it.

"My, Mikael, you've been listening to me mumbling in my fantasy dreams, haven't you?" I declared, staring intently at his apron.

"Mou, Raphael-sama, I was only doing this now so you wouldn't notice! Anyway, why are you up so early?" Mikael inquired, his face, as prophesized, growing brighter.

"I smelled something suspicious in the kitchen," I replied mockingly.

Mikael began to look desperate. "Please go back to sleep, Raphael-sama. I'm... planning something." Mikael turned his gaze to the floor and shuffled his right foot, a sight that made me want him even more. Finally, he gathered enough courage to look into my eyes.

"Do I have to help you into bed?" Mikael huffed impatiently.

"As a matter of fact, you do," I retorted with a devious, sensual grin glowing on my face.

Mikael blushed the loveliest shade of pink and I remembered how sweet our lifestyle truly was.

"Not right now. Honestly, Raphael-sama, you have the most persistent goals," Mikael affirmed, quite accurately.

I sighed, having missed a glowing opportunity. "What are you making anyway?"

Here, Mikael gave me the closest resemblance to a sexy glance he could muster, uttering, "It's a secret. To bed with you!"

I knew better than to protest to that. An eager Mikael was truly a rarity. I complied, gave a jovial salute, and promised to rest and not beg while Mikael prepared his surreptitious concoction.


Hours later, after a very pleasant and deep sleep, I was stirred once again by the feel of warm, pouting lips kissing each of my closed eyes one by one. My eyes opened to reveal an expression of bewilderment. Had Mikael ever been this physically affectionate without me to initiate the action? I smiled inwardly. Apparently, my influence is finally beginning to sink in.

"It's ready," Mikael whispered breathily. He then performed a second daring romantic feat. He took my hand in his, pulled me up almost fiercely, still without pants, and led me in tow into our dual dining/living room. I marveled at Mikael's newfound audacity.

Upon entering the room, I finally saw the result of Mikael's hard morning labor. Propped on a large tray in the middle of our low table for two were two grand, neatly formed wads of Jasmine Jelly. My jaw dropped. Mikael noticed my expression and smiled sweetly. "You said you wanted to try some, so I went across the street and asked Noelle the ingredients. All she could say was 'add stuff 'til it goes "pururun"!', but an enthusiastic girl claiming to be her sister-in-law, Miruru I think was her name, gave me a list. I was lucky the visit went so quickly. I guess Sara, surely you know how she is, wasn't awake to capture me."

For the first time in nearly a century, I was without words. This was the first time Mikael had done something so extreme, so magnificently tender. The night before, he had reached out to me, and now he slaved all morning to bring me the only thing I requested of the tumultuous events of the day before. And I thought I couldn't love Mikael any more than I had already. As I observed more closely, I noticed the tray holding the Jelly was the only utensil in the room. Mikael continued to stand primly before the table, a smile radiating his face. Either he forgot, or... I shuffled off the suggestive imagery that was beginning to flow through my mind.

"Mikael, there isn't any silverware anywhere. What are we... oh." I turned to face Mikael, who nodded appreciatively, loosened his tie, and beamed. At this promising revelation, I shook my head. "Mikael, every time I figure you to be chaste little boy, you come right out of left field and surprise the hell out of me."

I approached Mikael, pressed my lips to his, and decided then was the perfect time to help Mikael remove the rest of his clothing.

As we both blissfully slurped the Jasmine Jelly, I had the most wonderful time eating as I've ever had.

Author's Note: That's right, I'm slowly but surely climbing out of my literary void. Review, if you please, but note, rather than using merely negative reviews, provide criticism... though you may have a lust of bashing fics, I'm recovering from an excruciating stint at writers' block, (simply observe my author's profile and search for any stories written in the year 2001. You'll see what I mean.) so I beseech you to be cautious when reviewing.

And please do not criticize my use of Christian Theology. As a Wiccan, it was difficult enough to write in a deeply Christian perspective, though I do love Angels. (Oh yes, I was *so* tempted to write "She" every time I mentioned the divinity, but I yielded my temptation. ^^) On the subject of religion in this fic, 'tis important to remember this: "...but since the Lord has a sense of humor, I always rationalized that, ultimately, He (or She) appreciated it - regardless of what a select few of His (or Her) yapping minions maintained. At least, fuck -- I hope God's got a sense of humor. If not, I'm really, really screwed." - Kevin Smith

And lastly, many thanks to Cara for her wonderful advice!

During this fic, Michela was under the influence of: the music of Barry White, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Enya, Simon and Garfunkel, Mozart, Elton John, Tori Amos, JA Seazer; Dave Matthews Band's "Under the Table and Dreaming", "Crash", and Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
(Indeed, I've always wanted to list my musical fanfiction aids, but alas, I've never *finished* a major non-monologue or poetry project to do it. I hope you're pleased I did. ;))