Sunday, April 25, 2010

an old bit of story

Again with the Dark

By Nix Winter
copyright 2008
All rights reserved

The bar was nearly empty. Christmas Eve in Detroit and Santa ain't driving an Amercian iron horse, not this year. The jukebox played country twang, low enough that it could pull sad out of the air and not budge the dust settling around the world at all. A girl, not more than twenty hunched over a table, a half empty shot tumbler of fluid too dark to be tears, but probably related, in her hand. Her red velvet Christmas dress, wrapped in a way that made her look like a second hand gift, a white elephant just waiting for new hands. Short hair, a bit too stiff with hair product, didn't move with her breathing, and at first glance, she could have been little more than an off duty manikin.

Against the bar leaned a lanky man, long slender fingers wrapped around his own tumbler. Wavy blond hair hid most of his face. He didn't look quite as dusty as the girl, but he hardly seemed like a first time Christmas package either. The bartender kept her distance at the far end of the bar.

"You could let her go," Michael said, reaching into the bowl of peanuts and crunching them loudly. Or maybe just the simple human act felt loud in the cloud of magical possibility of the bar.

"Fae," the man accused, picking up his drink, even though he hadn't actually drank any of it. "Should I find some salt?"

"What was it? The red hair? I'm just a man, with a touch of the vision, not fae. What's your name?"

"Raphael." The blond reached up and tucked blond hair behind his ear. "What do you want with this, mortal man? She is nothing to you. There are no ties between you."

"Yeah, well," Michael hedged, "It's nearly Christmas. You don't really want to kill her or she'd be dead already."

"That stupidity works in the movies, little boy." Raphael's eyes narrowed. Such a dark green to be nearly black, the whole eye, not just the iris. "I will kill tonight."

"Maybe." With deliberate grace, Michael drew the Japanese symbol for light just in front of himself. The summoning touched a plane of being that few people would be able to sense, let alone see. The expression on the blond's face told Michael that his new 'friend' did indeed see the change. The arched white wings unfurled, sending a powerful blast of air past the blond shinigami, knocking the bowl of peanuts back against the mirror behind the bar.

"She's going to kill herself anyway," the blond growled as he tossed the contents of his tumbler at the man and his invoked angelic nature. "Can't you feel the despair? Can't you feel how lonely she is?"

"She might feel better tomorrow." Michael moved, spreading his wings, ivory white and full of hope, to block the view between the mortal girl and the darkly hungry shinigami. "You can't know."

Chin tucking towards his chest, a snarl on his lips, darkness unfurled behind him, slick and onyx, dark demonic wings with sharp claws. "Don't get in my way, angel boy. I don't need to hurt you."

"You don't need to hurt anyone." Static and the rush of hungry psycic energy roared past him, ruffling ruby and gold hair. "I'll prove it to you."

"If I kill you both," Raphael snarled, "Maybe I'll sleep for a couple of years." The lanky body bent a little, one shoulder seemingly dislocating, fingers elongating into pale bone claws.

"If you kill, you sleep," Michael asked. He drew another symbol in the air, his finger leaving a trail of iridescent energy.

"Love? You think you can fight me with hope and love," Raphael asked, offended. "I'm going to tear you apart and leave you in this plane forever."

"Big words."

Raphael jumped, backwards a bit to land in a crouch on the bar. Blond hair fragile around his face, brittle as winter tree branches or death's caress. "Everyone dies. There's no shame in death. The shame is in lingering when there's no place for you."

"Have to remind yourself of that," Michael asked, a silver sword manifesting in either hand.

The bar held still, breathless and timeless in the plane below where they fought.

"I'd think you'd be the one reminding, with your cloying hope and soupy love." Boney talons moved, weaving silver spider web, gleaming sharp. Those green eyes watched with cold apathy. "Santa Claus isn't real, little boy."

Michael struck, trusting with the right sword, blocking falling acidic spider web with the other. "Love is real enough."

Blade through the cat's cradle of web, a bright shiny light through the web of decay and self hate, Michael pressed forward, violet eyes taking all of the shinigami in, knowing him as if the other man's life were painted over a psychic canvas. "Your death was a mistake. You weren't alone."

The hiss echoed around them, even pushing the bar around them, making the girl knock over her glass, the bartender reach back to hair raised on the back of her neck. Slowly the Raphael moved forward, impaling himself on the length of bright sword. Acid blood dripped. Black bled like tears, until he was close enough to breath cold words over Michael's face. "What do you know of rejection? Of lonely? You who summon angels and wear pure white wings as if they were your own? Death swallows you today."

"Maybe." White wings slowly enfolded the impaled demon, "But I'm not the one impaled and encircled."

Green eyes blinked, such a human expression on a completely demonic face. "Why aren't you afraid of me?"

"I'm afraid," Michael admitted, a slightly shaking hand reaching to caress gray and degrading skin. "Just not the way you thought I would be."

"I'm a demon," Raphael pointed out, trying to push himself back now. His fingers morphed back towards being a man's, his hair softening back towards golden waves. "I'm death!"

"No." Michael let go of his swords. Fingers brushed into Raphael's hair. "You're a man, who made a mistake, a man who hurt very deeply, and now you're a spirit wandering the plane of the living."

"I don't wander. I sleep. I have death." Panic heightened and the spider fought against bonds that already pinned him.

"You are more than that," Michael promised, pinning Raphael's face between his hands. "I know your soul, Raphael Tortino. I'm older than I look. Think back. Think hard. Don't you remember me?"

Blinking, the whites returned to Raphael's eyes, leaving brilliant green eyes watching the red head. "Mickey? Mickey Samuel? But you died in the war!"

"I didn't die," Michael said gently. "You were gone when I got back. I've been looking for you for nearly a hundred years, Raph."


"Because I love you," Michael said. He pressed forward, kissing a mouth gone demonic, twisted and gray. In the kiss, Raphael's mouth softened, warmed, opened to the kiss. Wings brushed at each other, sensitive and curious, dark against light, floating above the bar, beyond time. The bells of Christmas rang outside, announcing the change of day, the new day, a new Christmas day, brilliant and pure. Raphael sagged in Michael's arms, the only remaining proof of his demonic path were the large black wings, folded and held tight. Michael's arms wrapped around him, holding him close, protectively.

"I failed."

"No," Michael comforted, "This time you didn't. She lives. You will live again. I know how to make that happen and I have a place for you. You won't be alone."

"But the things I've done…."

"And now you'll do them differently. Merry Christmas, Raphael. We finally have our Christmas together."

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