Angel Hunt and Streifen in AU
C H A P T E R O N E : P A R T 04
Bare feet hit immaculate white cold stone silently over and over, the temperate night breeze rushing over skin and through hair alike as Jun runs without direction through the streets of the city, the pain in his chest growing with every step he takes.
He doesn’t know where he’s going or how long he’s been running, he simply turns one corner after another, moving as fast as he can away from his home -wanting, no, needing to flee from the pain yet utterly unable to do so. It follows him like a shadow and no matter which way he turns, or how fast he moves, he can’t escape it because it’s already two steps ahead.
Before long the Angel finds himself near the boundaries of the city, the gateway that will lead him from First House to the Second before him, dark and looming and beckoning him to step through. His footfalls slow before he knows it, halting altogether just before the unguarded stone pillars and quickly he finds that there’s something inside of him that won’t allow him to take that last crucial step.
Out of breath and nearly spent with the ache in his chest burning him like fire, he collapses, his early dawn streaked white eyes staring at the darkness as he collapses, weakened legs giving way as he slides down to the floor. The semi-sheer night shift rustles softly along with his hair as he falls back against one pillar, his lean frame nearly blending like camouflage with the shadow strewn stark white structure behind his body as he allows his head to fall back, his gaze shifting up to the darkened star strewn sky above.
The pain flares in his chest with the sharpness of a blade and he can’t stop the cry torn from his lips from escaping, tapered fingers twisting around silken fabric as he grasps desperately onto his chest. Dual colored eyes shut against it and the moment his lids close the world around him disappears, replaced by visions so vivid that they feel more like memories than the haze of any waking dream.
“Why didn’t you stay in bed…” I frown as glazed blue eyes stare up at me through half opened lids, my fingers beginning the task of cutting soiled fabric away. Once the other’s shirt is parted, I slip the cold metal between bandage and skin and begin carefully cutting it free. “…so I could take care of you first?” Peeling the bandage back from the sutured wound, I set the scissors down before sitting slightly back so that I can take a good look at the full damage that lies beneath.
To my relief the stitches are still in place, even with the blood seeping up in between them and even though I feared the worse, nothing new seems to have ripped or broken open. Sliding my hand out, I brush long strands of white gold away from the other’s face before I return to the medical kit at my side, pulling some new gauze pads free and arranging them over the red stained wound. “Might hurt a little…” I mumble before pressing against the seepage, careful despite the pressure not to push too hard. The action causes little more than a sharp yet sluggish intake of air in the one below before blue eyes simply slide closed completely.
For the next couple of minutes, nothing more is said as I work to stop the bleeding and once I do, I begin cleaning and rewrapping the other’s wound. Even though I’m silent, the blonde’s last words continue to echo through my head and despite the concern that shows plainly on pale features, somewhere inside of me a lightness swims around as well. To know that even with the possibility of an old love returning to his life and that he could have decided to leave me for that same love, he’s still chosen to be with me and that makes me happier than I can say.
The blonde has said that he learned he could trust me with his heart, but truthfully I feel the very opposite is actually true. I thought I knew what love was when I’d been with Haniel, I thought I understood it, I thought I was starting to feel it at one point in time for my best friend but it was this one that showed me how wrong I’d been from the start. He took those versions of what I thought to be love, blew them completely out of the water and I’ll never be the same again.
“I’ll always take care of you —-… I’ll always love you.” I whisper as I tuck the last bit of clean gauze under before slowly lowering myself down onto the bed we share. Gritting my teeth, I roll carefully into the blonde’s side and slip a long arm out to wrap stained fingers around his chest. Dipping my head down, I touch my mouth to his shoulder before closing my dawn hued eyes, each new word brushing full lips against the warmth of his skin. “…from now until the end of time.”
We stand on the edge of the cliff, the strong wind gusting up from the rock face whipping through pink and white, and white-gold strands alike. My early dawn hues pull from the setting sun far on the horizon and shift to the side, caught the moment my gaze settles on the other man’s features; every perfect line and curve, those deep blue eyes, that windblown feather soft hair highlighted in gold and purples in a way that warms me to the core.
We’ve been together for a little over eleven years now and in that time, the love I feel for the blonde has only grown. Never in my life would I have dreamt that I’d be so lucky to have this person by my side. To see his face every day when I wake, to fall asleep in his arms, to feel the touch of his skin against mine, to smell his intoxicating scent, to have his mind touch mine… sometimes I really don’t know what I’ve done to deserve him but I’m grateful for every second I’m allowed to remain near. Midnight eyes pull from the sunset when the taller man realizes he’s being watched, the smile he flashes me and the four words he says making me feel like the most important thing in his world.
“I love you, Beautiful”
He pulls his hand from his pocket and gathers mine into his own, my heart melting as it always does the moment our fingers entwine. Despite my true age, I never seem able to help the rush of blood that taints my face or the flush that warms my skin akin to a youth. I feel new when we’re together, his presence no matter what obstacles are upon us washing away all my years in the Heavens, the atrocities done to me during my trial and the heartbreak that once tried to consume me when I broke my seal. He says these words to me often but I never tire of hearing them spoken, the love I feel for him and the love I feel returned burning brighter than a thousand suns.
“Prove it,” I grin before slipping my hand free from his, and taking only a small step back, I launch my body from the cliff with a single strong, well practiced push.
Twisting my lean frame around as the wind whips my hair and light clothing upwards, I smile as I see without hesitation that he’s followed me and is streaming downward from above. We freefall for many long moments as we revel in the sensations of the rushing wind and the silence that surrounds us before seals are dropped and feathered appendages slide into view, my pure white wings countered by his darkest black.
As the updraft catches our bodies and I’m carried upwards to where he is, I can’t help smiling again. Sometimes I say the words back and other times I tease like this; it’s a game we’ve played from the beginning and one we’ve been perfecting over the years. Cat and mouse just for the hell of it where he enjoys pursuing and I can never wait to be caught. But my words are baseless because proof is the last thing I need. He’s proven it in every look he gives me, proven it with every careful touch. He holds my heart and in return, I’ve been gifted with his.
It’s precious and I will treasure it until the end of my days…
Bright colored lights flash in tune to the pounding beat, patterns swirling all around us and our bodies moving in tune. Despite the fact that we’re surrounded by a sea of moving bodies, my senses are filled only with him. Sweat plasters white blonde and pink and white strands alike to our faces, our frames locked closely together and our movements synchronized as if we were a single being instead of two. He’s dressed as I’m dressed, damp sleeveless shirts and arm warmers, low riding tight bondage style pants, on his feet sneakers and mine leather with straps. His spiked hair is held back by sleek dark lens glasses and mine by some kind of band, the twin keys we wear bouncing in unison beneath rings of glowing, multi colored lights that wrap our necks.
His blue eyes are flecked lightly in gold, something that happens quite often when we’re together like this, our frames pressed tightly and his arm locked around my waist. I can feel his desire and I know he mine, and at this moment I’m tempted to suggest we start stripping ourselves of our barriers right here in the middle of this dance floor so we can give all those around us an even better show.
From the smile he flashes me, I know he’s read my thoughts and while any other time I’d feel a sense of shame about the indiscretion, whether it be the drugs or our surroundings, right now I can’t bring myself to care. I want him like I’ve wanted no other, I need him like I’ve needed no other – he is my life, in every sense of the word. I can never get enough of him and I know I never will. He’s taken me and I’ve willingly given, my mind, every inch of my body and my entire soul…
My fingers slide up into pure white strands of lightly layered hair, twisting the locks around once before securing them with one hand to allow what’s left to fall down. I pull the small clear tie held in my lips that cup it free and with a few quick flips, I tighten the spiked ponytail flat against my head before my early dawn tinted eyes travel away from the reflection in the mirror before me and over to the few remaining loose straps of the black leather armor that clings tightly to my frame. Turning around, I move towards the open doorway behind as my hands shift up and begin tugging at the fastenings with very little thought actually lent, the clothing I’ve donned as familiar to me now as my own bonded weapon.
Today will prove to be a very eventful day, one I find I’m both looking forward to seeing complete while mildly dreading at the exact same time… for many long years now —– had been placing his pieces in perfect strategic lines and this day will be the day that the one I’ve spent the last thirty four years with moves one step closer to gaining everything he’s worked so hard to attain. I will be there fighting by his side, doing everything in my power to ensure the other man succeeds in taking a revenge that’s rightfully his. But unlike any other battle we’ve taken on in the past, I know that this one will end up being far more dangerous for us considering the prize of the endgame that’s at stake… my only doubt of the success of our endeavor lies not with either the blonde or me, but only with the allies that will be there to aide us. I don’t trust that even a single one will come through for us any more than I’d trust any of my own people and it’s this lack of trust I have that will make this entire thing harder for me than it ever should be. In the end though and no matter what the misgivings I hold are, I’ll simply do what I always do which is rely solely on the person I love, just as he relies on me.
All that’ll be left is for me to kill anything else that happens to get in our way.
Near silent footing carries me into the darkened room connected at the end of the hall, my pink eyes locking immediately with deep midnight blue the moment I enter the room. The crystal bladed long sword resting across leather clad legs fades from view as I cross the distance between us, the blonde stretching his hand out for me to take and my long legs straddling his body the moment I’m pulled down into his lap. Wrapping my arms around his neck, a few long moments of silence pass while we simply hold one another tight.
“Always.” I answer a previous question asked quietly when the blonde finally slides back, slipping one of my arms free to leave a gentle kiss on the back of my hand. A smile forms on my mouth as I slip my fingers up to brush along the edges of white gold bangs before carefully sweeping them away from the other man’s line of sight. My eyes fall away to watch the movements I make as I trail the very tips of my fingers across his structured jaw, the smile slowly draining from my features and my gaze wandering back up to once again meet his midnight blue.
“I know I don’t have to tell you this, but I want you to be careful out there today…” sliding my hand further down, I lean in to brush my lips against his and complete only the slightest traces of a kiss before I pull back just far enough to speak directly against his mouth. “If you fuck up and get yourself offed, I swear I’ll personally drag your ass from your Eviternity and kick it to all the way down to Hell.”
I stare up into gold eyes blazing but the blood in my mouth prevents me from saying anything I want to say in return. Instead I pull inward for a moment and inside, I desperately attempt to do what he’s told me to do. He continues asking me, pleading, and then demanding that I do what I’ve always done in the past without fail. But with a sudden onset of dread I realize my body isn’t listening and I think my heart comes to terms with it a second or two before my brain has a chance to catch up. I know in that moment that there’s too much damage done and it simply cannot comply.
My body it seems has realized it before I have, that I’m already dead and there’s nothing at all I can do to stop what’s begun to pass.
I want to lift my hand up and touch those beautiful features currently twisted in rage and despair. I want to smile at him and tell him how sorry I am, and that I never meant for it to happen like this. I wish to kiss him one last time and say that while I know I promised to be with him always, for what I’m about to do, I hope he’ll eventually find a way to forgive me for failing in that promise now. I want to tell him something I know he already knows but I’d like to relay to him just the same – that I love him with every small fiber of my now broken body and I have cherished every second I’ve been gifted at his side.
But I can’t because my mouth isn’t working, my voice is gone, my limbs have become lead and the world that surrounds us has already begun to slip from my feeble grasp. He pleads for me to stay with him and I can do nothing but deny him in silence and watch as he slides farther and farther away from me, his cries dulling to a comforting hum and the halo of light that’s always surrounded him in my eyes suddenly so bright that it burns every last sensation away.
Jun cries out, ripping his hand from his chest and pulling both up to clench the sides of his head. Curling over while pulling his knees to his chest, his head dips against them, his eyes clamped tight. “Stop it,” he pleads to the visions that continue to flood his mind’s eye, the ache in his chest so severe he feels as if his heart is about to explode. “Please, stop…”
A touch at his shoulder and a familiar scent tells him Haniel is near, and without so much as looking up, he reaches out desperately, wrapping toned arms around the other Higher’s neck. Haniel gathers him close and his face sinks towards the warmth of his skin, his words stricken with pain and cracking with every syllable said.
“Something is wrong with me,” Jun breathes, “really wrong.”
“It’s only the backlash…” Haniel’s voice is soft, soothing, and filled with concern. “It will pass.”
Jun shakes his head. “But it hurts. It’s hurts so much.” Though whether the hurt is coming from the flood of visions or the ache he feels in his heart, he’s unable to tell. “Too much.”
“It will pass,” the other Angel assures him and this time, the reply he gives comes in little more than a whimper as he continues to watch himself die in the arms of another, over and over again.
Without another word spoken, strong arms slide beneath his body and lift him up, pure white wings unsealed before spreading wide, their bodies lifted from the cold stone and flown back towards their shared home…
“Again.” Zeph gives the command and dozens of wooden half-staffs crash together, the sound echoing throughout the large training room. Walking among the rows of drilling Selestarri, he pauses to correct the form of several, many of them young and new to their change of faction. The instability on the Eyrie has caused several defections from the Bright, and those who decide they can’t live as Streaked or don’t wish to return have found their way here. Each morning he oversees these trainings and while this isn’t something he has to do, and which no Seeker has done in the last few centuries, it’s one of the very few things in his life that he actually enjoys.
Skirting through the pairs working through their stances, his gaze moves around the room, picking out the older Dark training in small groups or pairs around the perimeter, their forms backlit by the sun and lake just beyond the opened glass doors. He’ll return later himself to spar and train, the difficult regimens he sets intended to work his body right to its limits. Even if only temporary, those sessions serve as a distraction, an opportunity to lose himself for a while and think only of action and reaction, sweat and strain and pain.
Tapping the end of one of the short training staves in his hand against a young Dark’s incorrectly placed leg, Zeph is interrupted by his partner’s voice in his ear. “Hasn’t anyone told you that none of these children will be able to give you a decent fight?”
Turning, he finds Innic just behind him, a smirk flashed in his direction. Sweat streaks his best friend’s hair and plasters his thin shirt and pants to toned muscle, but not one bruise mars his skin, a testament to just how good the other Selestarri is in the fighting ring. Black eyes meet orange, and although he doesn’t return the smirk, his tone is light. “Are you offering a decent fight?”
“Maybe,” Innic replies, “if you think you can bring a real challenge.”
“Now this looks fun.” Carrow appears on Zeph’s right, the younger man clad in training clothing, his multi-colored hair tied away from his face. A dark bruise covers the back of his hand, spreading up along his arm just past the wrist, and another runs down the side of his neck and under the collar of his shirt. “Although I’m sure I can kick both your asses.”
Gesturing to the Dark drilling away around them, Innic laughs. “You’re only older than any of these kids by about five minutes.”
Cracking his knuckles, Carrow grins. A pair of short staves identical to the ones Zeph carries appear in his hands. “Let’s just see what happens.”
Their exchange has caught the attention of those in their immediate area, the younger Dark pausing in their routines to watch. They form a wide circle around the three men, some calling out bets as to the winner and others responding with wagers of their own. Innic summons his weapons and with an almost lazy movement, he spins toward Carrow, one arm drawing back to arc toward the younger Selestarri. But where his partner’s attack has the smooth ease of a natural fighter, Carrow’s dodge is all speed, so quick that if he didn’t know better, he would have assumed the other man had teleported. If Innic is surprised at the miss, it doesn’t show on his face, the shift of his body simply continuing the motion to bring the second staff around without pause. A sharp crack rings out when the wooden hafts meet, but the parry is off placed and meant only to turn the weapon aside, the other Dark already moving away.
Content to sit back for a moment and let the two of them test one another out over the course of several more strikes and counterstrikes, Zeph watches each of his opponents carefully, pitch-dark eyes picking apart their movements with the detachment of a seasoned fighter. Innic’s fighting style is one he knows well, one that he can counter reasonably as well as anyone can counter someone of his skill, but Carrow is a different story. He doesn’t have the finesse of either his best friend or himself, yet what he lacks in style, he more than makes up for in speed. Damn, but the kid is ridiculously fast, moving with a grace and agility that outstrips even quickest of their race.
Wrenched from his thoughts by a blur of motion near his side, the Seeker counters the blow instinctively, stepping backward even as Carrow moves past, his other arm sliding up to ward off Innic’s strike. Both the other Selestarri turn on him then, two against his one, and the steady crack of their weapons fills the air as they move from one side of the ring to the other, dodging and weaving. Zeph pushes back against them, determined not to make this easy, his staffs connecting numerous times, but he takes as many hits as he gives. Catching a hard swing with the length of his weapon, the taller Dark is forced to commit his strength as his partner bears down. The second staff follows and he manages to push it aside, the weapon scraping up along his forearm hard enough to draw a thin line of blood. Taking advantage of Zephyr’s slight imbalance, Innic banishes both his weapons and steps in hard, shoving the blonde. Even as he stumbles, from the corner of his eye he spots Carrow, ducking in around his best friend, honey blonde hair shot through with red and orange streaming behind, so fast that he’s simply a smear of moving color. Pivoting on his only foot still connected to the ground, Zeph manages to sweep the other out toward the younger Selestarri in a roundhouse kick, but Carrow is already turning away, and he only catches a leg with a glancing blow. Carrow’s stave thumps lightly at the crown of white-gold even as his knees meet the ground, the first point scored against him. One more, and he’s out of the game.
Innic holds his hand out for Zeph to take, pulling him to his feet, the dark-haired Selestarri’s weapons reappearing right after. Orange eyes meet black and the Seeker nods, the two of them turning to face the younger man. Carrow smirks, taking a moment to stretch, much to the amusement of the crowd, but a moment is all he gets, the partners on him between one heartbeat and the next. With a fluidity born of long years working together, Innic and Zeph flow easily through the stances, their pressure on the other Dark merciless, forcing him to retreat. Carrow is fast, but the two of them together mitigates the speed as they trade off between each other from one strike to the next. Zephyr’s half-staff connects hard with the back of Carrow’s hand, smashing into the bruise to force the weapon to drop from numb fingers. In response, the honey blonde Selestarri seizes his forearm with his other hand, but Innic is just behind, backhanding Carrow so hard that it sends the other man to the floor. Touching his weapon to the place just above the downed Dark’s heart, Zeph scores a point against him.
“You fight dirty, General.” Carrow says, wiping the blood from his mouth, his amber colored eyes glazed lightly with gold. “Weren’t you a Bright a little while ago? Didn’t think you’d been one of us long enough for that.”
Raking his fingers through wet strands of blue-black hair, Innic smirks. “Call it a precursor to my change in factions.”
The younger Selestarri accepts Zeph’s offered hand and rises to his feet. “Has he always been like this?”
“Only since we were little kids,” he replies, glancing down at the scarlet staining his forearm for just a moment. “Always a cocky bastard with no difficulty kicking you when you’re down.” Innic never had a problem pushing an advantage of any kind during a fight, even when he followed the codes and morals of the Bright. His opinion was that if you were a stronger fighter, there wouldn’t be such opportunities left open for an opponent to seize upon, so essentially the blame could lie only with you. “Worst part is, he can back up all that talk with skill.”
The smirk on his partner’s face only widens, and he beckons the other two men with one of his half-staffs. The crowd cheers, many of those watching trained by Innic, either when they were Bright or more recently, and from their chatter he’s the favorite to win. Taking it in stride, Zeph lunges at the dark-haired Selestarri, feinting with his first hand and then scoring a hit against his best friend’s shoulder with the second. Carrow is right behind him, as he’d hoped, the younger Dark slipping around to take a swing at an unprotected side. Innic is one step ahead, however, his short stave positioned to catch Carrow near the back of his knee, sending him stumbling. With a frown, the Seeker lights into his partner with a flurry of strikes, each crack of wood echoing through the room over the cheers of their watchers. Carrow regains his balance and joins in, darting in and out with his lightning fast attacks and forcing Innic to split his attention to keep them both at bay. Without letting up, Zeph begins to thread the pattern of a combined partner attack into his offensive, hoping that the honey blonde Selestarri will read the cues and strike once he drops out of the way. It’s likely that Innic will read them as well, but he’s hoping to catch his best friend off guard enough so when he inevitably parries Carrow’s attack, he can hit him from down low.
After another few heartbeats, it seems as though the younger Dark has noticed, and as he makes one last swipe at Innic, he pivots, his back against Zeph’s, ready for his momentum to carry him around, fast and hard, straight at Innic’s head. The Seeker prepares himself to drop, ducking out of the path of the incoming staff, when he’s struck with an overwhelming sense of deja vu.
I’ve fought this fight before, two against one, but my partner isn’t another Selestarri. I turn my head just a little to find him standing there, and the pink and white haired Angel flashes a warm smile that melts me to my core regardless of the fierceness of the enemy who stands before us. This is the way things are supposed to be, with him at my side, relying solely on one another in a fight and knowing we’ll come out all right because of it. It’s a natural feeling, each move anticipated well before it’s made, matched by the other just as closely as our hearts are matched. Despite the fact that we were born to different races and trained in different fighting styles, we move in perfect tandem as if we’d fought together our entire lives, as if we’d been born only to fight at one another’s side. Almost in slow motion my eyes close, a blink and nothing more, but where Jun stood beside me one moment, he’s gone the next. I pull up short, staring into the empty space, the ache in my chest constricting like a vise, cold, sharp needles of pain that pierce deep…
Zeph hears his name, but it seems far away and as he turns towards the one who had called it, something slams into the side of his head. The light goes fuzzy, stars blossom behind closed lids, spinning madly for a moment before everything is dark, and he feels nothing at all…