November 2000 - June 2001

Disclaimer: As if! Thanks to elynross for the commas, as always, and to ari and Steph, although they probably don't even remember this. Do not archive this story without permission.

Deep night

You're not listening. You're asleep, and the room is silent, shadowed, and dark. I like to watch you sleep; I can talk to you easily then, the way I do when you're awake, with just the touch of my fingers against your skin, or like this, with words, some of them words I have fought to be able to find, and others...

Others that were a gift, no matter how unexpected. You gave me something I never asked for. New words and new images, though they are really old ones, a language of archaic symbols that people have clung to over the centuries, for whatever reason. And because you were the one who gave them to me, my mind has clothed you in them and will not stop.

My angel with the flaming scythe. Mine, because no one else will see what I see when you curse and laugh and yawn and go about your business of being so terribly, vulnerably human. No one else can hear the beating of wings.

I had wings, once, for a short time. I flew through star-studded darkness; I tumbled from the sky, and when the waves closed around me, I thought about the story you told me about the angel who became the devil. We none of us know quite what we are, or what we'll become. I had certainty once, but your greatest gift to me, greater than the words, was doubt. When Wing shattered from the stress, the air was full of feathers, floating, aimless, pretty. And my certainty of purpose was over.

Now, I have you.

When you sleep, I watch you. I might have said, once, that I watch over you, but the slow slide of moonlight across the floor paints the room with safety. You're curled up on your side, covers pushed down to your waist, and your bangs have fallen forward to tickle the end of your nose and move every time you breathe. Your face is softened by shadows, but the moonlight falls over your throat, and I can see the pulse beating there.

I want to hear you laugh, but if I wake you up now, you will grumble, and elbow me in the ribs, and put the pillow over your head and go back to sleep. The line of your mouth is almost a smile. You fall through my life like rain, like sweet fresh water. You swear like a dockworker, and your hair clogs up the shower drain. Every morning when you wake up, the first thing you do is kiss me.

For the longest time, I knew nothing but solitude. My existence was limited by what my hands could grasp and by what my eyes could see. I could only shoot to kill.

I fell from heaven and landed in the palm of your hand.

You're asleep, and I breathe in your dreams. You sleep in a feather bed, and the moon is your halo. None of this is useful, none of it has a purpose, there is just you, and I am with you.

I rest my head against your back and go to sleep.

* * *

I still can't believe this is for real. I mean, I remember how jumpy you were back in the bad old days — hell, you'd wake up if a flea coughed the wrong way in another room, and probably shoot it before your eyes were even open. One time when I woke you for a mission you nearly took the tip of my nose off. I still think you'll wake up when I stare at you, but you don't.

And that's a bigger kick than anything else we do together. Honestly. Just this, just you, sleeping, and me, watching you. Your hair sticks out at the back of your head, and you're drooling into the pillow. It's kinda cute. I won't tell you that. I value my life.

I value this life, with you in it, with moments like this in it. I don't know what you'd say if I told you that this midnight hour is sacred to me, that this room becomes a holy place, and time stops for the space of one breath. I don't usually say shit like that. But watching you sleep does something to me, and I feel like I'm melting inside.

You're never cold. You never complain when I leave the window open, even in the middle of winter. First sign of gooseflesh, I'd drape myself over you like a blanket, but it's like you don't notice the night breeze, or care that the covers have slipped down. You're deep in dreams, and I hope they're good ones. You sure as hell deserve them.

There's like this weird little dance we do, where I tease you and you scowl at me, and you tug at my hair and I scowl at you, and sometimes there's sex after that and sometimes there's a food fight, whatever, that part's not so important. What's important is we hook into each other like velcro, and I'm not letting go, and you'd better not be letting go either.

You're absolutely fucking beautiful, and you don't know it.

When I came down to earth the first time, I couldn't stop watching the moon. The moon used to be this big lump that looked like someone chewed on it, but from earth it's all distant and gorgeous, and the poetry and songs and stuff make a bit more sense. It's different with you. The closer I got, the better you looked, until I got close enough to stare right into your eyes, and there was someone there staring right back at me.

You always knew where you were going and what you were doing, and I couldn't decide if I wanted to put itching powder down your shorts, or trip you up and beat you to the floor. Me, I always took the time to stop and smell the garbage. The world's a freaky place, and there's all kinds of shit between the place you start out and the place you end up. Can't be sure of anything.

Except you.

I don't think I could ever doubt you. I believe in every single thing you never say, more than I believed in anything in my life. I look at your lumpy knuckles, or the point of your chin, and it's like looking at mountains, or stars. Never thought I'd be so certain of anything in my life, but there it is. There you are.

Here we are.

* * *

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