Chapter 22 - 'I'm dreaming of a burning Christmas..

.'

 

 

 

     Damien pressed his hand over the  wound in his chest and eyed the succubus from top to bottom. "I assume our agreement yet stands?"

 

     Nodiesha inclined her head to him. "It does indeed. This and the first-born in exchange for feathers." The word rolled off her tongue accompanied by a shiver of delight.

 

     "You've prepared everything in accordance with my instructions then?" He asked, a tremor of delight in his voice.

 

     "To the letter."

 

     "Good, then shall we begin?"

 

        Nodiesha leapt into the air and her wings spread wide with a flap of leather. She beat them several times and grabbed hold of Damien's shoulders with her taloned feet, lifting him into the air. Together they rose through the chamber and out through a false smoke stack, surrounded by real ones gushing black smoke. Using the fumes as cover, she glided through them for a while. Damien coughed and lurched in her talons, the thick air burning in his lungs. She dug her talons deeper into him, piercing his flesh.

 

     "Not so hard!" he hissed.

 

     "I wouldn't want you to fall," she answered with a malicious grin.

 

     She set him down at the entrance to a cave carved into the black stone of a mountain. He rubbed the small cuts inflicted by her claws through his clothes and then led her deeper into the cavern.

 

     "Once the procedure starts, nothing can interrupt me, you understand? Not even if Hell freezes over." Damien warned.

 

     Her scales clicked as she shuddered at the thought.

 

***

 

     Damien flinched in his bonds as Nodiesha drove another of the thick needles into his body.

 

     "If I didn't know any better, I might think you were thoroughly enjoying this," Damien hissed through gritted teeth.

 

     The succubus grinned down at him maliciously. "Oh believe me, I am!" She Jammed the last needle into place in his neck, harder than was necessary.

 

     "Bitch!" He snapped

 

     She retorted with "Bastard."

 

     "Cunt."

 

     "Fuck hole."

 

     "I love you?"

 

     Nodiesha curled her lip. "No you don't."

 

     He sighed from his position on the obsidian table. "You're right, that was a lie. Now start that damn machine, I have an appointment to keep at the Parker residence."

 

     "You're sure you did it right?" She asked once more.

 

     Damien remained silent. She took this to mean either "Yes, for god's sake!" or "No, but if I didn't, it won't matter in a few seconds."

 

     She grasped the handle in her clawed hands and forced it down, setting off sparks as the machine rumbled to life. Damien screamed and writhed on the table as the thick serum was pumped into his arteries. Nodiesha ran to his side. "Should I turn it off?" She asked over the noise.

 

     Damien's scream turned into a hideous laugh. His muscles strained mightily against his bonds, and then a dark splotch appeared in the middle of his chest. It spread with the sound of snapping twigs, decaying his chest cavity. The decay spread up his throat, burning away the skin so Nodiesha could see the serum working away at his inner systems. Damien's maniacal laugh gurgled away as his larynx dissolved. His jaw, now blackened and showing bone in places, continued to move in silent laughter.

 

     Eventually, the black ichor dissolved even Damien's bones, many of which had been replaced with metal and mechanical workings. The serum pooled on the metal table and Nodiesha held her breath. The scent of burnt flesh tickled at her nose. The pool bulged in the middle and grew upwards, Damien's body forming again, looking like a sponge sucking up liquid. The last trickle flowed into him and his eyes shot open as he gasped for breath.

 

     "It worked!" he said simply, amazed. His body collapsed again and poured down the side of the table where it reformed into his body corporeal form from the feet up. He cackled in delight.

 

     "Well then, time to go!" The flames that blossomed around him were not red as they had been in the past. Instead, they glowed with an unnerving purple light.

 

     "Those better be fuckin' amazing feathers!" Nodiesha commented to the empty room.

 

***

 

     Matt was still hard at work three hours later, when the members of the Parker family began filtering down, one by one to deposit their gifts under the tree in the hall and fill the stockings laid out around the fireplace. They gave him a few curious glances as he continued to work, but left him alone. When Jason came down in his flannel boxer trousers, he wrapped his arms around Matt from the side and kissed his cheek gently.

 

      "Merry Christmas!" the boy whispered before slipping out of Matt's reach to go make some tea in the kitchen. He passed Matt a few minutes later, mug clasped in his hands as he headed back up to his room.

 

     The angel watched his boyfriend mount the stairs. He focused his mind and projected at the boy, "Merry Christmas gorgeous!"

 

      Matt felt a raging, roiling chaos rise up out of Jason's mind and smash into his own. He jerked his head and broke the connection. Jason kept on walking. The boy hadn't even noticed Matt's attempt to communicate. The angel continued to watch him, deeply troubled.

 

 

     A few hours later when Matt finally finished, he slipped into Jason's room and crawled into the bed next to the boy, his clothes quickly flowing into his wrists. Jason giggled when their feet brushed.

 

     "What?" Matt asked.

 

     Jason grinned. "You don't have cold feet."

 

     Matt laughed and rolled on top of him. Their lips met and Matt slipped his arms around, behind Jason in an embrace. They rolled again, the sheets tangling about their bodies until Jason lay on the angel's naked chest. Their lips met briefly in a series of angel kisses.

    

     "I love you," Jason whispered.

 

***

 

     Scott lay looking up at the ceiling in his room. He'd spent the night trying not to fall asleep while keeping an eye on Drew, but to no avail. When he'd woken earlier, he'd hurried to finish wrapping his presents and stow them under the christmas tree. He'd passed Drew on his way down, also carrying his presents. Now, Scott reflected on the past few days of his life.

 

     He'd never even considered that he could be anything but straight. At least not until the day he'd met Jason. It hadn't been sudden at all, but as they shared the car journey, Scott felt an attraction growing between him and the young man. Of course, he only recognized it as this afterwards, once he had carried Jason to his room and retired to his own quarters. It confused him at first. It frightened him, even. And the next day he had tried to displace his fear with the grueling training exercises he set for Jason. And yet, the more time he spent around the boy, the stronger the attraction for him became. Scott had relished the few moments he'd had to hold Jason in his arms in the showers.

 

     He'd also noticed however, that he was not the only one becoming suddenly and inexplicably attracted to the boy. It seemed like the entire camp turned bisexual within the few days that Jason had spent there. And then of course, had come the revelation of Matthew, and that Jason was in love with him. Scott frowned. No, he thought, that came later. The fight at the new medical ward had opened his eyes to something. He'd stopped lusting after Jason, as if the adrenaline or fear created by the situation had canceled the effect Jason had on him.

 

     Scott thought he'd been over it. That it was just some strange effect Sara's even stranger brother had on people. But then he'd met Drew. Ah, Drew, whom he'd now spent two nights in a row sleeping beside. What he felt for this boy was different though. It wasn't the keening lust he'd felt for Jason. It was a softer, gentler feeling. A feeling of wanting to protect him, to hold him, to comfort him. It was as if...  Scott was really beginning to question his sexuality by this point.

 

     His musings however were forced to a close when someone rapped on his door.

 

     "Come in." he called.

 

     Drew poked his head around the door at Scott, still lying on the bed looking at the ceiling. He stepped into the room and closed the door, keeping quiet.

 

     Scott finally turned his head to see who had entered. "Oh, heya Andrew, what's up?" He asked as he eased himself into a sitting position, his back against the headboard of the bed.

 

     Drew came to the edge of the bed and sat gingerly on the edge. "Um, please, call me Drew." He paused. "I, ah, just wanted to ah, thank you... for last night."

 

     Scott smiled warmly. He leaned forwards, not entirely sure what he was planning on doing. Just-

 

     Scott's lips pressed against Drew's cheek in a quick peck.

 

     Drew pulled back suddenly, a bit startled by it. He looked at Scott quizzically and when Scott blushed, he grinned. Drew leapt up on the bed, his legs slipping to each side of Scott's waist. "For god's sake, if you're going to do it, do it right!" His hands slipped quickly around Scott's neck and he pulled their faces together so that their lips met. Drew was quick to open his mouth and slip his tongue into Scott's which had opened a fraction in surprise.

 

     Scott was dumbfounded. He was being kissed by another guy! This was gay! And-- and he was kissing back he suddenly realized. Indeed, their mouths opened further and their tongues touched, sending shivers of pleasure through Scott. He found his hands running through Drew's hair, caressing his neck and massaging his back. Their kiss deepened and then broke in a flurry of activity as they struggled to remove each others shirts. He helped pull off Drew's T-shirt and then, when the boy was taking too long in unbuttoning his own shirt, Scott simply ripped the remaining buttons off and flung his shirt away. Their passionate kissing resumed, Drew kneading Scott's muscular chest with the palms of his hands. Scott gasped as the boy's fingers found his sensitive nipples and he shuddered with pleasure before taking rolling over on top of him. He ground their hips together. He'd never been so aroused in his life.

 

        Scott slid down the boy's body, kissing his navel as he passed it

and reaching his trousers. He paused and looked up across the valleys and hills of his body.

 

     "You sure?" Drew whispered, afraid to shatter the dream and wake.

 

     Scott reflected internally for a moment, and that was all it took. A moment. He slowly undid Drew's buttons and eased his fly down.

 

***

 

     Jason gasped and arched his back as Matt traced his tongue down his chest and as he placed several kisses on the boy's abs. Jason's hands massaged the angel's back and kneaded his muscles gently.

 

     Matt's teeth found the waistband of Jason' s flannel pants and he tugged them down gently. His hands worked to strip the boy of his clothes, before returning to caressing Jason's body. His hands took on a luminescence and Jason moaned in pleasure. The angel lowered his head and took the boy in his mouth. Jason's breath became ragged and quick.

 

     "Matt!" he gasped. A sense of weightlessness enveloped him. The world seemed to fall away, but when he opened his eyes, the ceiling remained above him. "Oh Matt!" He moaned again as his fingers worked their way into the angel's hair.

 

***

 

     This was beyond his wildest dream. He'd never imagined that Scott would take it this far. Scott, for his part had never even considered that he'd be in such a situation. But now that he was, he couldn't see why anyone could think it repulsive.

 

     Drew pulled Scott back up so that their faces were inches apart. He kissed Scott's full lips and again their tongues wrestled. Their kiss broke and he moved his mouth to Scott's ear and whispered huskily.

 

     "Please, make love to me."

 

     Scott raised himself up on his elbows, gazing intently at the boy lying under him. "Are-- are you sure?"

 

     Drew nodded. "I've never been so sure of anything in my life."

 

     Scott slid off the bed and stood. Drew reached up, and dragged his fly down, letting Scott kick them of himself while he wriggled out of his own pants. The tent in Scott's boxers was painfully prominent and Drew felt the first twinges of unease. He was big!

 

     Scott reached into his bag and pulled out a bottle of lubricant and a

packet of condoms. He made as if to tear one open, but Drew's hand on his thigh stopped him.

 

     "No." Drew shook his head. "I want to feel you inside me. I'm clean, so if you are..."

 

     Scott nodded quickly. He tossed the tube on the bed and crawled up Drew's body to their faces were once more inches apart. Their eyes locked together, Drew spread his legs and lifted his hips, allowing Scott to slip his boxers off. Scott pushed his own down, freeing his engorged member. Their faces still together, gazing into one another's eyes, Scott used his free hand to apply lubricant to Drew.

 

     Drew gasped at the cold feeling of the liquid, but his gasps soon turned to moans of pleasure as Scott massaged him between his legs, gently circling his puckered ring. He gasped as Scott's finger slipped inside him and pressed deep into his cavity. He slowly slid his finger in and out a few times, before pressing a second finger in to loosen the boy up. Drew bent his knees, raising his legs further and rolled his head against the pillow from the pleasure. He felt himself leaking onto his stomach where his erection strained, begging for attention.

 

     Scott pressed a third finger in, working them slowly in and out of the boy under him. He slipped his fingers free and tugged his own boxers halfway down his thighs before applying lubricant to his own member, working it with his hand until it was slick. He scooted forwards on the bed and Drew opened his legs further, granting him access. He felt his head touch the boys ring and he pressed gently forwards.

    

     They gasped simultaneously as he slipped inside, each of them feeling the heat of the other. Scott rested his elbows to either side of Drew's head, his nose near the boys neck as he drew in his scent.

 

     Drew relaxed his own muscles, and Scott took his signal to slowly ease in further. There was a sharp pain in his gut for a moment, but it was soon replaced with the heat and pleasure of having Scott inside him. Their lips met and Scott kissed him as Drew tried to hide his grimace. After what seemed like forever, he felt Scott's hairs brush his cheeks and then his thighs. He was amazed. He'd taken the whole thing!

 

     Now Drew reached up and gently started to rub Scott's nipples as the larger man began to slowly draw himself out until only his head remained inside. Then he pressed forwards again, moaning as Drew's muscles clamped down around him. By now, Drew was leaking profusely but he refrained from touching himself just yet. He knew he'd explode as soon as he did. This was beyond belief. He'd never felt so full, so satisfied in his life. He picked up his legs and wrapped them around Scott's waits, drawing him in further against him.

 

     Scott took the hint and began to quicken his pace. He suddenly hit

something inside Drew and the boy gasped loudly. He froze. "Are you ok?" He asked anxiously.

 

      "OK?! God, that felt incredible!" Drew gasped. His body convulsed with a shiver of pleasure.

 

     Scott grinned and pressed himself in again, rubbing along the hard nub inside and making Drew gasp louder with each thrust. Soon their grunts and moans filled the room, accompanied by their gasping breath and the sounds of flesh meeting flesh.

 

***

 

     Scott's and Drew's were not the only sounds of pleasure coming from within the Parker residence. Jason tossed his head back, moaning in pleasure as Matt's mouth continued to work on him, the angel's hands massaging his body wherever they could reach. This was too much! He was getting close!

 

***

 

     Scott's rapid pistoning had reached a furious pace, as he now supported his weight on the head board of the bed with his hands. Drew gazed up at the man who, with eyes closed, was making love to him and rubbed his chest, tweaking his sensitive nipples and drawing a long, dull moan from Scott. With each forward thrust, Scott rubbed against Drew's prostate, hastening his impending orgasm.

 

     Drew's body started shaking and convulsing as a powerful orgasm wracked his body. Without even touching himself, he began spraying his seed. It shot up, some splattering against Scott's torso above him, but most flying across his own chest and stomach.

 

     Scott felt the boy start shaking under him and his ass muscles squeezed tight and then released his member rapidly and in quick succession. It was all too much for him, he opened his eyes in time to see Drew's seed splatter across the boy's chest before he thrust forwards once, burying himself to the hilt as he exploded, drenching Drew's insides with his juices. He arched his back as he pumped his fluids into the boy and then collapsed forwards onto him.

 

     Their chests pressed together,  rapidly rising and falling as they recovered from their mutual orgasms. Scott's mouth found Drew's neck and he kissed his way along it, reaching around to the boy's mouth again and their tongues wrestled.

 

***

 

     "Maaaaaatt!" Jason screamed as the sensations became verpowering and he reached his own orgasm with explosion of sensations.

 

     "SHUT UP GOD DAMNIT!" Sara screamed from the hall. "NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR THAT!"

 

     Jason burst into laughter and then suddenly he and Matt fell from the air where they had been hovering, several feet above his bed. He screamed in surprise and then together they fell into a fit of giggles as they bounced down on the mattress, rolling together as contented lovers.

 

***

 

     Scott and Drew's quiet moans and gasps fell silent at Sara's berating and they looked at each other, eyes meeting, before bursting into gales of

laughter.

 

***

 

     Jason and Matt entered the living room, hand in hand. They looked up to see Drew and Scott snuggled together on one of the couches, and Sara occupying one of the comforter chairs, glaring between the four of them. Jason blushed as he realized Drew and Scott had probably heard them. Scott and Drew flushed crimson at the thought of Jason and Matt hearing their own lovemaking.

 

     There was a giggle from the hall followed by a chuckle and Mr. and Mrs. Parker made their way into the room, his arms wrapped around her waist from behind.

    

     Sara's expression of annoyance turned to abject horror. "Am I the only one in this house who didn't score?!" She exclaimed and looked between the couples in shock. "God, I think I'm going to die of horny." She held her head in her hands.

 

     Jason, who was closest to her, and thus furthest from their parents quipped quietly, "Try masturbating, I hear that helps."

 

     She jerked her head up and shot daggers with her eyes.

 

     Jason's face split into an angelic grin.

 

     "Right!" Said Mr. Parker, rubbing his hands gleefully. "What'd you all get me?"

 

     This drew a laugh even from Sara, and the mood of the room lightened considerably. The younger members of the family and guests scrambled for their stockings and Jason and Sara brought their parents their own stockings, as they did every year. Jason stoked the fire once and placed another log on it to stave off the chill of the Christmas morning.

 

 

     Their laughs and thank-you's as they opened their stocking presents filtered through the window out into the snowy garden. Mephistopheles watched them through the glass pane. "I'm dreaming of a burning Christmas... hmmm hmm," he sang quietly and then sighed and grinned. "Nothing like Christmas to bring families together."

 

 

     Matt looked up from his stocking and saw the fallen angel in the garden. He touched Jason's arm and whispered that he'd be right back. Jason smiled and immersed himself in his presents again.

 

     The angel slipped through the kitchen and out into the garden, a thick, warm, white coat flowing up from his wrists and wrapping itself around his body. The fallen angel turned from the window at the sound of his boots crunching on the snow. Mephistopheles hovered an inch above the snow, leaving it pristine underneath him.

 

     "Hey," the fallen angel started. "I'm not here to cause trouble, I'm just--"

 

      "I know," Matt smiled. He extended his hand and Mephistopheles took it. "Thank you for last night... I... I was wrong about you."

 

     Mephistopheles smiled warmly. "I'm sure I've given you good cause not to trust me over the years..."

 

      "Yeah... well, anyway..." Matt reached into his coat and pulled out a small, neatly wrapped gift and placed it in his hands. "Merry Christmas."

 

      "Merry Christmas."

 

     For a moment, they stood, angel and fallen angel; their differences put aside, at least for the time being.

 

 

     "Hey, I didn't get you anything!" The fallen angel suddenly realized. "Hold on, I might have something for you..." He proceeded to rummage around inside his trench coat, his tongue protruding from the side of his mouth and one eye squeezed shut. He tugged his hand free, his fist clenched around the hair of a grisly shrunken head, too large to possibly have fit inside his coat. He looked at it for a moment.

 

     "Eeew! You don't want that..." He stuffed his hand, head and all back

inside his coat and resumed his search.

 

     Matt put up his hands. "Ahh, no, it's ok. You don't need to give me

anything. I ah... just wanted to thank you for last night."

 

     But Mephistopheles wasn't listening. He reached in with his other hand, his arms disappearing up to their elbows without his coat bulging to accommodate them.

 

     Matt edged slowly backwards, and then turned and trudged back into the house, returning to the warmth of the fire and shedding his heavy coat in the process.

 

 

     The fallen angel looked up finally, noticingMatt was gone, and shrugged. He tugged on the golden ribbon, undoing the bow and unfolding the carefully wrapped silk. A pair of knitted, black socks tumbled out of the cloth into his open hand and he chuckled. Resting on nothingness, he raised one foot and eagerly slipped the stocking on and then repeated the process on the other side. He stood and wriggled his toes, still held above the snow by some invisible force. The socks burst into to life with a soft, gentle fire that warmed his cold toes.

 

     "Daaaaaamn," he whistled. "These things are sexy!"

 

***

 

     They all collaborated to make themselves a Christmas brunch of waffles, pancakes, scrambled egg and other assortments. Their general demeanor was chipper at worst and out right exuberant at best. And although Matt at first refused to eat, due to his worry about where the food in him went, Jason managed to convince him to at least try a home made waffle with maple syrup.

 

     After the brunch and a brief respite they were all eager to launch themselves into the ordeal of opening Christmas presents. Several trips and bulging armfuls later they had managed to amass the gifts in the middle of the living room, and then set about distributing them according to the name cards attached.

 

     Halfway through opening her presents, Sara came upon a hard, oblong shaped object wrapped neatly in white silk. She hefted it, feeling the contours and trying to determine what it was. She quickly unraveled the golden thread that bound it together and rolled the cloth out on the floor before her. Something rolled and hit the ground with a heavy clunk and she pulled away the last folds of silk. She gasped. A gleaming katana lay in the cloth, complete with a sheath carved intricately with depictions of angels and demons fighting. She eased the blade from its scabbard and was immediately dazzled by the flow of colors that shone off the blade. They flowed like water across the metal, casting rainbows as they caught the light. She freed the blade with a hiss of metal and placed the sword on her finger, just past the hand guard. It balanced perfectly.

 

     The rest of the family had stopped to watch, amazed by the gleaming blade. She stood, tossed it through the air and caught it deftly. Sara twirled it and the blade hummed through the air.

 

      "Matt, this is..." She trailed off.

 

     "It's empyrean steel. It will never break and will never grow dull." He smiled at her. "I crafted it myself, so I know."

 

     Sara's finger traced over the emblem of a single feather carved into the blood vein of the sword. She slid it back into the scabbard.

 

     "Th-thank you!" she said, genuinely grateful. She sat down again with the blade in her lap and carefully examined the scabbard.

 

     Scott found his own, silk-wrapped bundle among his gifts, although it was considerably smaller than Sara's. He looked quizzically at the angel before hastily unwrapping it. A glittering gun fell into his lap, made from the same metal as Sara's sword. It too was detailed with countless carvings and depictions of angels in battle. He lifted the handgun, feeling its perfect weight and then held it at arms length, looking down the sight.

 

     "I made some adjustments from the model you use..." Matt commented quietly. "It wont ever miss or jam, but nor will it ever hit someone you count as your friend." The angel paused. "I still think they're barbaric, but it's an improvement from what most of you use."

 

     Scott traced his fingers over the carvings, silently amazed by the craftsmanship. "Wow..." was just about all he could manage.

 

     Drew was the next to find his silk bundle. He unwrapped it eagerly and found a wristwatch deep in the folds of cloth. He took it out and examined it in awe. The face of the watch was circled with a ring of feathers, so delicately carved into the metal that they looked wholly real, but that was hardly the most amazing feature. The face itself showed a three dimensional representation of the earth, so detailed that he could make out mountains and rivers on the tiny globe. Three rings ran around the face. The outermost, engraved with the names of each month, and a minute feather dial on the edge pointed to December. The middle ring displayed the days of the week. Finally, the inner ring showed the time, with each hand from the center stylized like a feather.

 

     Matt noticed Drew had found his present and informed him of its qualities. "The glass will never shatter or scratch, it'll never need a battery, and it will automatically set itself to your current time zone." Matt paused, as if trying to remember something. "Oh, and the globe spins to display where you are and, grows light or dark depending on the time of day." He twirled his finger in the air, mimicking the turning of the earth.

 

     "Sweeeet!" Drew exclaimed quietly, his eyes lighting up. He slipped the watch onto his wrist and found it fit him perfectly. It had almost no weight to it at all.

 

     Jason dug through his presents to find his own silk wrapped gift. He hurriedly slipped of the gold ribbon, eager to discover what Matt had given him. The bundle in his hands shifted and settled. He froze. He looked to Matt who was watching him intently, before gingerly peeling away the cloth. He was looking at a silver disk with small feet styled like cat's paws. It bore an inscription in elegant, curling handwriting.

 

     "When you're lonely, just stare into my eyes

                           I'll stare into your soul,

                         And we'll be together..."

 

        Jason felt the roundness of a dome in his hand hidden by the silk and he turned it over, pulling away the fabric. Crystal glass shone back at him. It looked like a snow globe. Only, there wasn't water inside, and it wasn't snow falling, but miniature feathers. They drifted slowly to the bottom of the globe, showing the figure that stood inside. It was a miniature figurine of an angel, his wings spread wide above him, arms to his side, with a delicate cloth that wound its way around his body. Jason rotated the globe in his hands to examine the face of the angel to find it was Matt.

 

        The figurine winked back at him suddenly and his eyes widened with shock. He peered closer into the globe, making out the tiniest details about the miniature. A feather drifted down in front of him, life-sized and twirling as it fell. More were falling about him; like snow in winter, they fell from above. A feather tumbled past his eyes, obscuring his vision for a moment, but when it passed, Matt stood before him. His wings were raised in exultant beauty behind him. His arms moved up and reached out, welcoming Jason into an embrace.

 

     He ran through the falling feathers, kicking up a meandering wake of down, and rushed into the angel's arms. Jason felt the pristine cloth extend and wind around him, drawing their bodies close. He stared deep into the angel's eyes and smelled his distinctive scent of jasmine and lilies. He closed his eyes and smiled, enjoying the comfort.

 

     He opened his eyes and the occupants of the living room stared back at him. All except Matt looked at Jason, and then at the angel, expecting some explanation of what the globe did. Matt smiled mischievously and stubbornly remained silent. Jason felt something soft in his palm and he opened his clenched hand. His fist held a bundle of downy feathers that tickled his skin. His eyes went wide and he turned to look at his boyfriend.

 

     His jaw worked, and then he managed, "Was it rea--"

 

     Matt nodded and smiled warmly.

 

     The others caught on that whatever the globe was, it was intensely personal and as such, respected that it was not something for discussion.

 

 

     A moment of silence passed, before Mr. Parker lifted up a pearly white envelope that was devoid of all writing. He neatly ripped it open and pulled out the card, reading the gold script that flowed across it.

 

     'Merry Christmas Mr. and Mrs. Parker'

 

     He showed it to his wife.

    

     "Who's this from?" Elizabeth asked, after reading the note.

 

     "No idea!" Mr. Parker answered. He turned it over, looking for a name and read out loud the small writing in brackets in the middle of the back. "(Look in the driveway)." He raised his eyebrows and then stood and left the room, heading for the front hall.

 

     They heard the front door open and the crunch of gravel as Mr. Parker stepped out into the driveway. Then they heard his exclamation of, "Holy crap!"

 

 

     Sara and Scott grabbed their new weapons and dashed into the hall, expecting the worst; Jason, Drew and Mrs. Parker hot on their heels. Matt followed more slowly, smiling to himself.

 

 

     When he got there, the family stood framed in the doorway, gazing out at the driveway. Or more precisely, what stood in the center of the driveway. The small circle of grass that once occupied the center of the round end of the driveway was gone. In its place was a short ring of hedges that circled a gleaming silver fountain. Even in the winter's morning light, it glistened with a polished sheen. Two angels standing about eight feet in height, both completely androgynous, but recognizably angels, stood balanced on impossibly thin pedestals, frozen in what appeared to be some sort of dance.

 

     "Its a fountain, so it'll spray jets of water over them." Matt explained, looking over Jason's shoulder. "And there are golden lights hidden in the bushes that will light up at night and make the water look like gold sparkles."

 

     Mrs. Parker pushed her slippered feet into a pair of clogs by the door and stepped out into the snowy driveway. She walked her way around the fountain, reaching out to touch the metal. She gasped as her hand made contact. "It's warm!"

 

     Matt grinned. "That's another thing, the whole thing is heated. So Mrs. Parker, if you step back, and Mr. Parker, you just flick that new switch on the wall there..."

 

     Elizabeth stepped back towards the house and Mr. Parker reached out to the new switch that had joined the other switches for the hall lights on the wall. He flicked it and after a few seconds of waiting, a few small spouts gushed up in small arcs. They grew stronger and then chugged to life, blasting six jets of spray high over the figures. The water caught the light and sparkled like diamonds suspended in the air before they tumbled down to rejoin the pool.

 

     "Matthew-- I... it's beautiful!" Elizabeth exclaimed, turning to look at the angel. "Thank you. It's too much!"

 

     Matt blushed and shook his head. "It was no trouble really..."

 

     Mr. Parker laid a hand on his shoulder, giving him a heartful pat. "Thank you Matthew, it really is something."

 

     Jason's hand reached out and found Matt's, squeezing it. The angel turned to look at his boyfriend and Jason grinned at him, his face beaming like a ray of sunlight.

 

 

        Eventually, all the gifts had been given and received... well, almost all. After agreeing that they would all go out later to get some exercise, Matt and Jason retired to his room. Matt stood in the middle of the room, and Jason embraced him tightly.

 

     "That was nice," Matt murmured. "I expected it to be more stressful, especially considering..."

 

     Jason raised his head and kissed the angel lightly on the lips. "Trust me," he said with a wry smile, "we were on out best behavior for our guests. Besides, your presents were amazing."

 

     Jason walked him backwards, until the bed pressed into the backs of Matt's legs. He leant against his chest, and the angel toppled backwards onto the duvet. He put his hand out to support himself as Jason crawled on top of him onto the bed. His hand brushed soft tissue paper.

 

     "What's this?" He asked, removing the object from risk of being crushed.

 

     Jason spoke, planting a quick kiss on his boyfriend's lips between each word. "That." Kiss. "Gorgeous." Kiss. "Is." Kiss. "For." Kiss. "You." and

then tapped his finger gently on the tip of Matt's nose and then rolled off of him.

 

     Matt looked at him curiously, but deftly unwrapped the paper, careful not to rip it. A white box slipped out of the paper into his waiting hand and he lifted the lid gently. Something glittered inside. He lifted it out delicately with one finger.

 

     Suspended from a white gold chain, a polished quartz key dangled. Matthew lifted it closer to his eye and read the carefully cut lettering in the crystal.

 

     'Jason Parker' It read simply.

 

     Jason took it from his fingers and unhooked the clasp, slipping it around his neck before taking the angel's hands in his own. "Matt, I love you." He paused. "This is corny as hell, but..." and here he kissed Matt's fingers. "This is the key to my heart. It's yours now."

 

     A single shimmering tear rolled down Matt's cheek, looking like liquid diamond. He took the boy in his arms, holding him tight against his chest. "I love you too Jason," He whispered into his ear and then sniffled and sighed happily.

 

 

        In Drew's room, Drew and Scott lay curled on the bed, facing each other. Drew reached behind him into the drawer of the bedside table and withdrew a small black velvet box and set in on the bed between them. Scott's fingers reached out to carefully finger the box. "What's this? You've already given me too much."

 

     And it was true, Drew had given him a black and gray scarf he'd found in Armani, as well as a D&G three-quarter length black coat. They'd cost him, but he felt it was worth it. "Just open it." He urged.

 

     Scott raised himself up on his elbow and turned the box towards him. He lifted the lid slowly and peered inside. "Drew..."

 

     "Put it on! See if it fits." Drew said, a bit breathlessly.

 

     Scott's fingers lifted the silver ring from the box and he slipped it onto his thumb. Black etchings of tribal marks wound around it, and he traced them with his fingers, rotating the ring. It fit snugly. "Drew... I--"

 

     "Hush," Drew whispered and placed a finger against Scott's lips. "I know this is all new for you, and I know that you may not be ready for anything serious right now... But I just want to be with you, at whatever pace you want to go at. Just give us a chance?"

 

     Scott drew his hand up and hooked a few strands of the younger boy's hair behind his ear. He slid his arm down around Drew along his side, pulling him close. Drew turned over so that his back was pressed up against Scott. They spooned together, enjoying the post-Christmas bliss as the radio by the bed played softly.

 

'We might kiss when we are alone

When nobody's watching

We might take it home

We might make out when nobody's there

It's not that we're scared

It's just that it's delicate

 

So why do you fill my sorrow

With the words you've borrowed

From the only place you've know

And why do you sing Hallelujah

If it means nothing to ya'

Why do you sing with me at all?

 

We might live like never before

When there's nothing to give

Well how can we ask for more

We might make love in some sacred place

The look on your face is delicate

 

So why do you fill my sorrow

With the words you've borrowed

From the only place you've know

And why do you sing Hallelujah

If it means nothing to ya'

Why do you sing with me at all?

 

So why do you fill my sorrow

With the words you've borrowed

From the only place you've know

And why do you sing Hallelujah

If it means nothing to ya'

Why do you sing with me at all?'

 

 

***

 

     Matt had just stepped out for some fresh air, and was standing in the garden, looking up at the sky when he felt the summons like a tapping on the back of his head, calling him to the council. He looked about him for his boyfriend but found him nowhere. The summons grew more persistent and he felt a tugging on his presence. He couldn't ignore this, he'd have to deal with it. He was still running to reach the house when his body shot upwards in a cascade of golden sparks.

 

     His form coalesced amidst a similar shower in the center of the council chambers, leaving him mid stride. Matt screeched to a halt and looked about the rising arena of seats. They were all empty save for one.

 

     "Matt, good, you're here." Tobias said from his seat on the front bench.

 

     Matt was a bit confused to say the least. The summons had indicated that there was an emergency, but then if so, the council would be in session. "I think I was wrong about Jason." He burst out, not entirely sure why. But once he started, he couldn't stop. "He's not The One, but--"

 

     "Of course he's not The One." Tobias waved it off absently.

 

     "Y-you knew?! Why didn't you tell me?" Matt gaped.

 

     "He's something else, but that doesn't matter now."

 

      "What do you mean it-- Wait, where is congress?" Matt gestured at the empty seats. "Why was I summoned as if there was an emergency?"

 

      "Congress is in recess due to certain..." Tobias paused and pursed his lips. "...Circumstances."

 

     Matt was suddenly very anxious. He didn't like the sound of that. "Where's my mother?"

 

      "That's why I summoned you here. She disappeared a few days ago and no-one has been able to locate her... we had hoped your mother would return, but as I said, it has been several days now. As next of kin, the mantel will be passed on to you."

 

     "Me? No, I couldn't! Jason--"

 

     Tobias stood and slashed his hand through the air, ending Matt's refusal. "Jason is not The One! He doesn't matter anymore."

 

     Matt frowned. "You're wrong Tobias." Matt explained about the phenomenon he had experienced that morning while trying to project to Jason and about his episode on the tree expedition. "Jason is all that matters now." He finished. "I don't know how, but I know everything is leading to him."

 

     Tobias immediately realized what he was saying. He stormed towards the younger angel. He seized him by the shoulders. "Do not do this Matthew! If you defect from this now--"

 

     "You don't need me here!" Matt shrugged off his touch. "You're perfectly capable of ruling Heaven yourself, but Jason needs me! He's bound up in something that will shape all of our futures."

 

     "Believe me Matthew, if I could, I would have long ago seized power from your mother. But there are laws set down millennia ago by the Ancients. 'The mantle of Heaven can be passed only by the blood as long as the Ancients yet live.'"

 

     "God! You're as conceited as my mother! Don't flatter yourself Tobias, you're old, but you're not an Ancient."

 

     The older angel looked genuinely hurt at this. "Not me. Lucifer. And I assure you, he's very much alive."

 

     "So get him to change the law. I don't care anymore!" Matthew threw up his hands.

 

     "Don't be ridiculous. Lucifer would no sooner help Heaven than you would help Miriam. The law stands. You are Chancellor." Tobias shouted at him, his marble face darkening with anger.

 

     "Ashley is capable. Give it to her! I don't want it--" Matt jerked his head up. "Something's happened. Jason's in trouble again! I have to go!" The golden sparks showered up around him.

 

     Tobias reached out to grab him, but his hands closed on empty space. "MATTHEEEW!" He hollered after the departing angel.

 

***

 

     "Matt?" Jason called out, searching the house for the angel. After inspection of yet another empty room, Jason sank down on the foot of the bed. "Oh Matt! You said you'd stay this time. Where are you?"

 

     He looked out the window at the snowy world. His heart leapt. Someone was out there, standing in the cold wearing a heavy coat and hat, under the same lamp Matt had serenaded him from.

 

     "Matt!" Jason shouted as he rushed from the room, charging along he hall, down the stairs and out the door. He skidded a few times on the gravel, but in no time at all he was slipping through the gates and across the road.

 

     He grabbed him around the chest and buried his face in his pectorals.

 

     "Oh god Matt, I thought you'd left me again!" Jason inhaled his thick scent of sulfur and oil. His eyes shot open. That wasn't Matt's scent, it was--

 

     "Hello again Jason." Damien grinned as he locked his arms around the boy and black flames rose up around them.

 

***

 

     Matt's light blossomed down from the clouds by the lamppost. He smelt the rank air and saw the scorched ground. "Jason!" he gasped and sank to his knees in the wet snow. He touched the ground with his fingers and brought them to his nose, sniffing the odor. "JASON!" He screamed at the sky.

 

***

 

     The flamed died down around him and Jason beat and at Damien's chest with all his strength. "Let me go you fucker!"

    

     Damien stood, unflinching under Jason's blows. He held the boy in a vice-like grip.

 

     Jason waited for the now-familiar release of energy within him. He funneled all his rage out and towards his abductor. But nothing happened. He eased his eyes open, hoping he'd simply missed the feeling.

 

     Damien leered down at him. "Look's like your powers don't work down here." He grabbed Jason by the waist and flung him across the room into a stone pillar.

 

     Jason fell to the ground like a broken doll. He curled up into a fetal position, nursing his cracked ribs. "Matt!" He groaned. "Help me!"

 

     Damien threw his head back and laughed. "It's no use boy! He can't save you down here."

 

     Jason tried to crawl forwards on his hands and knees. There was a sound like a thousand tiny metal claws skittering across the stone and Damien seemed to grow next to him, forming from the feet, as if melting upwards.

 

     The fallen angel lashed out with his foot, knocking the wind from Jason's lungs and sending him skidding across the marble floor.

 

     Jason coughed and tasted blood in his mouth. It suddenly occurred to him that wherever he was, he might well be alone with Damien without anyone to save him. He might die. He started screaming for help as he struggled to move. His cries reached a fevered pitch as he scrambled to reach the wall.

 

     Damien quickly closed the gap between them and lifted the boy by his neck. Jason's cries for help turned into a garbled scream, until Damien backhanded him across the face, silencing him. "Quiet now Jason, or I might just have to skull-fuck you to death" he leered.

 

        Jason kicked out with his feet, but they met Damien's shins with dull, metal bangs. The fallen angel leaned in and opened his mouth, his many-toothed jaw extending outwards. A double tongue slipped out of his mouth and licked along the side of Jason's jaw and cheek.

 

     Jason grimaced and then spat blood in Damien's face.

 

     Damien stiffened. "You know, I was just going to kill you and dump your body in front of Matt..." He started and then carefully wiped Jason's saliva from his face. "But now, I think I'll have a little fun with you first."

 

     He lifted the boy off the ground and hurled him to the end of the hall. Jason felt another of him ribs snap against the edge of the stone plinth he collided with. The fallen angel was on him before he could even begin to recover. He heard a hiss of metal and then a steel spike stabbed down through his outstretched hand and deep into the table. Jason screamed in agony and clawed at the spike with his free hand.

 

     Damien grabbed the hand and slammed it flat on the table before jamming another spike through the boy's flesh. Jason screamed again and then bit his lip against the pain. He whimpered and felt a trickle of blood run down his chin.

 

     "Tell me Jason," Damien hissed in his ear. "Are you a virgin?" He ripped down the boy's pants.

 

     Jason screamed again and struggled against the spikes driven through his hands, as Damien kicked his legs apart.

 

***

 

     Matt lurched to his feet and charged towards the mansion. He didn't even bother to open the iron gate, he simply phased through it. The same held true for the front door.

 

     "Sara!" He shouted. "Damien's got Ja--"

 

     A three dimensional grid shot in from the walls, collapsing around Matt. The lines blazed with brightness and for the first time in his long life, Matt felt himself fall unconscious.

 

***

 

     Sara stuck her head around the corner at the top of the stairs. "What was that?" She saw a glitter of colored light flash in the centre of the hall

and then vanish in a blaze of white light. "Matt?" She called. "Matthew?"

When she got no answer, she shrugged, and headed back to the bathroom to finish her shower.

 

***

 

     Matt pushed himself up from the floor so that he was on all fours. Strange, he didn't remember falling down... His body felt strange, as if rather than there being any one source of gravity acting on him, his body was instead being pulled on from all directions. He opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn't, but it became clear why he was experiencing such strange sensations. His arms buckled under the disorientating forces. The ground beneath him was white. But not simply the white of alabaster or marble. It was infinitely white, with no sign of any surface. He felt himself lurch through the air and start falling again. He quickly lost consciousness once more.

 

 

     When he woke again, he kept his eyes pressed tight and pushed hard against the surface he was lying on. It felt solid enough. He opened his eyes just a crack and immediately felt his arms sinking through space. He slammed his eyes shut again and then willed his wings out. They cascaded down from his shoulders in a golden shower of light. Matt shook them gently and spread them wide. If there was no surface to stand upon, fine, he was an angel, he could fly. He opened his eyes again and this time, when the falling sensation started, he beat his wings against the feeling and it ceased. He looked about him for the first time. The same nondescript white space stretched out around him in all directions. Matt looked for anything that might provide direction. He turned to look for his shadow, but there wasn't one. There was nothing to form a shadow on-- there was nothing to cause a shadow.

 

     Matt turned around again-- not that it mattered, everywhere he looked it was exactly the same, perfectly empty. A young man was standing not twenty feet from him. Matt could have sworn he hadn't been there before, but where had he come from?

 

     "Hello Matthew," the man greeted him.

 

     "H-hello..." Matt said uneasily. He didn't have time for this! Jason needed him! A thought struck him suddenly, how long had he been here?

 

      "You're incredibly selfless." The man informed him.

 

     "Uh... thanks, I guess" He paused. "If you don't mind me asking, but where are we and who are you?"

 

     The man walked towards him. WALKED towards him. He seemed like just an ordinary young man. Matt could have seen him anywhere and not noticed. And yet, he was walking while Matt was still beating his wings to keep from tumbling, but this guy was walking as if there was nothing unnatural about the whole place. Matt noticed nothing else strange about him, save that it took him only three steps to cross the twenty foot gap between them.

 

     "This is Nowhere."

 

     The way he said it made Matt feel like this wasn't just nowhere, but a place called Nowhere.

 

     "And I'm God." The young man declared.

 

     Matt continued to stare at him.

 

 

     "What? Am I not what you expected?" he asked. "Would you prefer a classical representation?" The man's face and body shifted and flowed into that of a grey-bearded man, like something out of a Michelangelo painting. "A woman?" The body and face changed again into that of a perfectly sculptured woman. "Or maybe something more personal..."

    

     This time, the face that stared back at Matt was Jason. It didn't just look like Jason, it was Jason, down to the last freckle, the last eyelash, the way he breathed, even his scent.

 

     "Why do you think they say humans, angels, and demons were made in God's image? I can look like anyone I choose." The face flowed back into the original young man.

 

     Matt chewed his cheek. This certainly was strange! "So why'd you do it then?" He finally asked. "Why create a universe full of such evil and suffering? Hell, why create a universe at all? What's the purpose?"

 

     The young man almost giggled.

 

     "I said I was God. I didn't say i was THE God. No, not En Sof, the Creator is beyond even one such as myself."

 

     "Great," Matt rolled his eyes. "Even gods don't know what's going on! We're all going to die."

 

     "Oh no! Don't worry, I won't let you die yet."

 

     "Why don't you interfere then? Why don't you ever save the innocents of the world?" Matt almost shouted.

 

     "Because unnatural force can only interfere with unnatural force." The god-being answered patiently.

 

     "What?!" Matt did shout this time. "That's your reason? That's your justification?" He asked in disbelief.

 

     "Be grateful Matthew, I just told you something very important."

 

     Matt snarled. "Yeah, you just told me you don't give a damn. Now let me go so I can help Jason! He's in trouble, I can feel it and since you won't help anyone, then I will!" Matt's temper had reached boiling point, and Jason still needed him.

 

     "What is to happen to Jason cannot be stopped, Iím sorry to tell you. But there is something larger taking place here. What will happen to Jason is part of a greater purpose. As is your task."

 

     "My task?" Matt asked in surprise. "What's that supposed to mean? My task is to protect Jason, and you're stopping me!"

 

     "Like I said, there is a greater task at hand." He paused. "Find your father, Matthew."

 

     Then he was gone.

 

     "What do you mean?" Matt shouted to the vast expanse. "My father is dead!"

 

     There was a faint rumble, which grew steadily. The air around him grew heavy and compressed. The rumble was replaced with the sound of air being sucked out of a container, creating a vacuum.

 

***

 

     Jason lay prone on the stone table, his rear exposed to the air. He heard a rumpling of fabric as Damien dropped his own pants and he felt something hot brush his cheek. He screamed for help till his throat was raw and jerked his body so as too keep out of the fallen angel's reach.

 

     Damien snarled and grabbed him by the hips, locking him in a vice like grip, unable to struggle further. He felt something brush his bottom again, and then everything grew suddenly cold. His breath came out in gasps of mist, and his body left condensation on the table where his bare flesh touched its surface. His eyes focused on the few drops of blood on the table before him. They quickly congealed and crackled, turning to ice.

 

     Damien had stopped in his advancements.

 

     Jason strained to look behind him to see what had happened, but an impenetrable wall of darkness filled his vision. He heard a muffled thud and then things started to loose their focus around him. He cursed the world silently for not staying in focus, before everything went black.

 

     On some lower lever of consciousness, he was aware of voices about him. One, distinctively British, the other... un-comparable to anything he'd ever heard before.

 

     "He's hurt pretty badly." The British voice said.

 

     "He'll recover." The other voice intoned. "Take him to be healed."

 

     "Yes your grace."

 

     Jason heard a two sharp cracks and whatever was supporting him sagged under his weight until something softer caught him. He felt himself lifted gingerly, with some strange weight on his arms and then warmth enveloped his body and even his deepest subconscious slipped into the merciful bliss of silence.