Title: Fallen

Author: Edana setsuna84@hotmail.com

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, possibly strong, non-explicit sexual situations in later chapters)

Summary: His song and his power draws angels and demons to him, but soon Alexis learns it will keep him alone unless someone is brave enough to face death to keep him

Disclaimer: All owned by me

Warnings: Shounen ai, yaoi, male/male relationships etc

Fallen

Chapter Twenty-Four – Joy of Freedom

He sat in silence, unmoving, and everything was numb inside, neither thought nor emotion able to break through the protective shield that kept him empty and unknowing. The truth washed away like water, not a ripple to disturb the stillness, eyes unseeing, hands clenched and heart racing in unacknowledged anxiety. Hunched down in the orange plastic hospital chair all Zayn was aware of was the soft badum badum that echoed in his head, the only thing that gave him any kind of reason, the thing that kept him here.

Never before had the pounding of a human heart been so powerful to him. As a demon, Zayn had relished in illness, had spread disease without remorse or care, had listened in joy as the humans had suffered until their bodies gave up, until they took their last breaths and their heartbeats became silent. How many times had he stood beside the beds of his sinful human prey and watched them die with satisfaction and triumph painted on his face? And now, as a human, as a man and a mortal, he finally realised how much he had, and how little he truly deserved. It was all being threatened.

Just like the very existence of the world had been threatened. He shuddered at the thought. All it had taken was the weak pounding of a heart to give Zayn the hope that he desperately needed, but now . . . He took a deep breath and closed his eyes tightly, trying to keep it all back, trying to out swim the wave that would crash down and engulf him, drown him. He had spent hundreds of years as a demon, as an immortal, never worrying about fatality or loss, bereavement or death. They were foreign to him, nothing but ideas and concepts that he couldn't understand and would never have to truly face. They meant nothing to him.

He raised his hand slowly to his face and saw the silver ring on his finger, the ring that Alex had sacrificed for him. Somehow Alex had known, like Zayn had, that the demons would kill their renegade lord, and the boy had given up his only hope of protection and safety to make sure that didn't happen. It looked like a ring, nothing but a circle of silver, but it represented much more than that. Alex could have used it to save himself. Instead he had secretly given it to Zayn.

Now the soft badum badum of Alex's weak heartbeat haunted him. With each passing moment the sound grew louder and louder until Zayn was clenching his jaw and trying to hold back the anguish when all he wanted was to scream and release it all, to have everything make some kind of sense again, to have some kind of reason. Why was Alex of all people the Judge? Why was it Eadoin who had carried the power of Destruction? What greater power existed out there that made these kinds of decisions?

Asha gently put his hand on Zayn's shoulder, biting his lip in worry and concern. He could see the stress on his friend's face and he knew exactly what Zayn was feeling, because he'd felt the same thing, the despair and the hopelessness, the sheer emptiness that, somehow, was worse than feeling pain. He'd gone through it all the day that Ilo had died, and during the excruciating moments that had followed, and even when Ilo had come back again when Asha should have felt nothing but joy. It hurt him, and it made him feel ashamed that he could still feel trepidation at the thought of seeing Ilo even now, but the pieces had been broken and putting them together again was harder than he thought it would be. "Are you all right?" Asha asked softly. And then, "Stupid question."

"That's an understatement," Zayn murmured bitterly.

"It . . . it'll be all right, you know."

Zayn said nothing, couldn't bring himself to hope aloud and have those hopes violently dashed. Standing apart from them, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed defensively, Yahto snorted and turned his head away. There were a myriad of emotions on his face that he tried desperately to hide, but the churning feelings inside of him began to seep through. Pain, worry, anxiety and concern. Maybe he shouldn't have felt them, but he did, and he couldn't help himself and he couldn't tear himself away. He had been the cause of so much of this pain, and yet he was here as though they had accepted him in anything other than necessity. He couldn't bear to leave without knowing Alex's final fate.

Asha frowned at the blue haired demon, but the doubt was burning deep inside of him too. Alex had lost so much blood; his pulse had been so weak, his body exhausted. The doctors had said nothing, but the looks they had shared said it all really, and yet Asha couldn't let his own fear seep into his voice or actions. He had to be strong for Zayn, he had to believe that everything would be okay, because if they gave up now then all of this would seem so pointless.

Maybe it was pointless. And maybe clinging on and hoping for a miracle was pointless too, but Asha couldn't accept that Fate was really this cruel. Alex had passed Judgement, and he'd found the world innocent, so why were the higher powers playing with them like this?

Silence descended and they remained like that, Zayn sitting, hunched forward, Asha standing beside him and Yahto leaning against the wall and staring blankly out of the window, seeing something that no one else could. They had all been through the Judgement and the people moving around them had no idea, could never understand or truly comprehend the danger they had been in, how close they had come to oblivion. Alex was lying on a hospital bed, unconscious and clinging onto life, and they didn't know what he had been through for them. They just didn't know, and Zayn felt the pain building inside of him as the thought squeezed his chest and made it much too hard to breathe.

They couldn't see what they didn't want to. It was Zayn who had to live with the truth.

*

The soft beeping of a life-support machine pierced the silence, drowning out Alex's light breaths and the quiet shuffling of the various nurses. He was lying motionless on the bed, a respirator breathing for him, attached to humming machines and various drips that fought to keep his body alive when it was struggling to give up and fall into comforting defeat. The power had leaked out in his blood and left him empty, nothing but a broken vessel that had no more use, no power or energy inside to keep him going. He was drained, exhausted, slipping further and further away from consciousness with nothing able to bring him back.

"You're safe," someone said. It was a warm and comforting voice, one that Alex seemed to recognise but couldn't quite place. "There's no need to hide now. Come back. You're safe."

Beep. Beep. Beep. The machine echoed his heartbeat in the silence.

Safe? Could he finally be safe from the danger that had burst into his life and tried to drag him down? It didn't seem possible, but Alex could feel the reassurance burning warmly in his body like blood, brushing against him, coaxing him back. Slowly, almost hesitantly, remembering his fall into temptation, he opened his eyes and breathed deeply, lungs burning, body aching, and everything inside of him was a rush. Heart racing, adrenaline flooding him, his fingers tingling almost painfully, he had never felt so aware of his own body, had never realised how it truly felt to be alive.

Beep. Beep. Beep. It was what kept them hoping.

"That's right," the voice said, burning with warmth. "That's right, you're safe."

"Where am I?" Alex choked, his throat dry and his voice harsh. "Who are you?"

"Me? You know who I am."

Alex sat up slowly, muscles aching, but he wouldn't give up when the vagueness and confusion were rushing inside of him. Unclear memories, as though painted in watercolour, were flashing in his mind and he groaned in pain and disbelief. The Judgement, Riel, that destructive power that had broken out of his body and enveloped everything, threatened to bring so many lives to an end, and Zayn holding him, loving him, bringing him back to stop the Destruction despite how much it would hurt them both.

"You remember, don't you?"

"Yes," Alex breathed, the pain achingly clear. "Oh God." The agony exploded inside of him, tightening his chest and throat and making him choke, twisting his stomach into knots. This was too much to believe and he exhaled shakily, body trembling and eyes burning. "Oh God," he moaned again, the only words he could find, because he knew the truth. He had become the Judge, and he had come so close to ending it all because he was weak, because he couldn't hold his pain back, because he had wanted everyone to hurt as much as he had been hurting. Jalen had seen it all in a vision and had tried to warn him, but . . .

"Ssh, it's all right," the voice said.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Tears threatening to spill, a heat burning in his eyes and chest, Alex looked up in sudden determination and finally saw the person he had been speaking to. He choked in disbelief, eyes wide, and shook his head in pure confusion. Because standing there before him was his own twin, his dark reflection, those same golden eyes and that same dark, honey-streaked hair, as though he had stepped out of Alex's vision and into reality, wearing a black robe, clasps and chains made from dark tarnished metal, blood red crystals hanging from his ears. Black to his white, demon to his angel, but they were the same. They were part of the same person.

"I . . . I don't understand," Alex murmured, drawing his legs to his chest, searching for some kind of comfort. "Who are you? How can you . . . be here?" What had happened to him? How many of his memories had been nothing but a dream? None of this made any sense.

His twin smiled, but there was something soft and pitiful about it, a sadness burning in familiar golden eyes. There was no threat here, no danger, but still Alex couldn't understand, and his heart was racing desperately. "Don't be scared," the dark-him said. "Please don't be scared. You know who I am, Alex. I've been inside you all this time. You know me."

"Who are you?" Alex asked again, beyond confused. "Tell me!"

And then, the sadness becoming pained acceptance, he said, "I'm the Judge."

Time froze, stillness descended. All Alex could do was tense, mouth twisted in uncertainty, as memories of his vision began to claw away at the corners of his mind, and he remembered being given the silver scales, the symbol of judgement. Now that it was over . . . "What?" he breathed in shock. The word, the name, the implication, smashed into Alex and left him dizzy and breathless. "No, you can't be." There was no way; none of this made any sense. All truth was swirling away down an invisible drain and threatened to take Alex with it. How could he be facing the Judge when the Judge was himself?

Another soft, achingly sad smile, and the Judge took a step towards him, cupped Alex's face and raised it gently, silently. Still struggling to make sense of this, heart racing, Alex looked up and their eyes met, and there was something painful in those eyes, something dark and haunting, almost empty like Reza's had been. Alex found himself horrified and captivated, unable to tear himself away, ready to drown in those golden depths and the nothingness that they promised, the release from anything that could hurt him. "I'm the Judge, Alex, dear Alexis," he said. "I've always been here, waiting, constantly waiting."

"For the Judgement?" Alex asked, breathless.

The Judge nodded. "Yes. Waiting and wondering what decision would be made, how everything would turn out in the end. Because there was a dark part of you that would never go away no matter how much light you had inside."

Alex swallowed hard, all too aware of the fingers against his skin, of the contact and the warmth between them, of the heavy truth that spilt from lips like his. He was talking to the very part of him that made him different, that had caused all this mess, and that had made Reza and Yahto and even Cian and Riel want him so badly. This was the part of him that they yearned for.

"I know," Alex said quietly with pain and hesitation in his voice. "I . . . I was destroying everything. I was hurting all those people and . . . and a part of me liked it." He felt ashamed for saying it, for thinking it, and mostly for feeling it in the first place, for revelling in the complete control that he had been given, for almost making the wrong decision and giving in to the demon blood in his veins. "Does that make me evil?" he choked, and he hated feeling this vulnerable. "Is that why I was punished?"

Beep. Beep. Beep. In a hospital room somewhere a boy laid unconscious, dreaming, and unaware of his dreams.

The Judge smiled and gently embraced him, running fingers softly through Alex's hair, light and reassuring. "No," he said. "You're only human after all, with such a weight on your shoulders. Do you regret the choice that you made?"

"No," Alex said shakily, remembering and trying not to. But in his mind his body was being torn apart, blood and power spilling from him, unbearable pain engulfing and swallowing him down. Riel was laughing and darkness was clawing at his mind, and then . . . peace, if only for a moment. Until Zayn had come and found him, drawn him back into reality, back into the Judgement.

"I'm sorry. I won't ever forget again."

Alex choked back the tears, and he knew that the memories would probably haunt him for a long, long time, but he had made the right decision. He could never question that, and he could never deny that his sacrifices, his pain and his losses, had meant something in the end. They had taken so much from him, but now it was over, and he was still here, and he was stronger. Maybe he was shaky and hurting, but it was over. It was all over.

"It's over," he whispered, chest tight, almost disbelieving. "It's over."

"Yes," the Judge said, a beautiful smile on his face. "You're safe now, Alex."

Safe? But was he safe in life, or in death? Was he safe because there was nothing left to hurt him, not when his soul was free from his body, or did he have another chance at living? And could he even live with what he had almost done? Yes, because despite the pain he had caused, Alex had made the right decision in the end, and that was because of Zayn, because of love. He felt it burning in his chest and he sobbed quietly, but now it was pure relief that escaped his lips, and it was sweet and completely overwhelming. Love had decided the fate of the world, and Alex sobbed again and then he was laughing despite the tightness in his chest, and it was so strange to think that he wasn't the Judge anymore, and that no great and terrible destiny was lying ahead of him. He felt . . . free. This was the joy of freedom.

His dark reflection leant forward slowly and pressed a soft kiss to Alex's forehead, and that same sadness was burning in his eyes again, but there was acceptance there too. "Goodbye, Alex," he whispered, and then he was gone, faded away, and Alex felt a sudden emptiness inside of him that made him swallow hard. He didn't need the Judge anymore, but still a part of him had been lost.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

*

Asha was standing by the window in silence, growing more and more nervous with each agonisingly slowly passing moment, the coffee in the Styrofoam cup he was holding long since cold. It felt like hours had passed and there was still no news about Alex, and Asha was beginning to fear the worst, and he wondered just how badly Zayn would take it if Alex didn't make it through. How would any of them take it? He bit his bottom lip hard and hoped desperately that they wouldn't have to find out.

Standing there, in a hospital of all places, he was achingly aware of them again. The feeling had never truly left him, but as the demon felt the souls tugging on the silver chains around his heart he couldn't help but contemplate mortality. It was what made him different from the other demons, what gave him the compassion that most of them could never understand, let alone possess. It was what mercilessly threatened to take Alex from this world to the next. Asha pressed his forehead lightly against the window and fought back the overwhelming feeling inside of him. He was the Soul Gatherer, and maybe he always would be, and the souls would always tug their silver chains and draw him to them, ready for judgement. It just seemed unfair to Asha that the chain that bound him to Ilo seemed to be so far out of reach.

Sighing gently, the young demon looked out at the car park, the roads, and the few trees that brought any semblance of natural life to this artificial place. And yet really he was looking past it all, seeing something much deeper and more painful, hearing desperate shouts and screams in his head, the roaring and cracking as stone and earth crumbled and tore apart under the onslaught of power stronger than anything he had ever felt before. He could still see Alex suspended above them, screaming and burning, the gateway open beneath him . . .

Asha squeezed his eyes shut and trembled hard. It wasn't right how easily things could come apart, how fragile the world and its mortals were. That power had torn Alex, a demon prince, completely apart. It could have torn them all apart.

He felt something then, a strange tingling in the pit of his stomach, warm but slightly painful and definitely familiar. Slowly he opened his eyes and his breath caught in his throat, cheeks flushing, heat rising as he realised what the strange feeling meant. Asha didn't see the car park or the trees anymore; instead his scarlet eyes fell to the reflection in the window, the pale and almost ghostly figure that he recognised instantly, the face that had haunted him in more than one way, that set his heart racing. Slowly he reached out and brushed his fingertips against the glass as though trying to capture the image.

"Asha."

He exhaled in shaky relief. It wasn't an illusion or a dream, not that face, not that voice, and he turned quickly with desperateness rising inside of him, consuming him entirely. "Ilo," he breathed, and the angel was standing there before him just as beautiful and ethereal as Asha remembered him, pale and innocent, untouched by the horrors of Hell, untainted by the memories of the Judgement. No longer as pure as he had once been, but Ilo was like a beacon of light in that moment, so virtuous compared to the darkness churning inside of him, and Asha found himself undeniably drawn to the angel. "I feel like I haven't seen you in years." It was all he could think to say, and the words touched nothing of what was inside him.

Ilo smiled gently, but the sorrow on his face and inside of him was undeniable. Seeing an angel in pain, seeing Ilo in pain, made Asha's heart ache. "Are you all right?" Ilo asked, his voice barely above a whisper, and why was there such a distance between them? Why couldn't either of them take that step forward? "Are you hurt? Is Alex . . . Did . . ." He trailed off, swallowing hard, his voice breaking with emotion. "Zayn phoned, but he didn't say much. He didn't really say anything, actually."

Asha nodded in understanding, suddenly aware of the people around them, strangers who could never comprehend, and he felt uncomfortable and slightly claustrophobic. It was odd, he realised, that they were demon and angel surrounded by humans, ancient creatures amongst the mortals, and yet suffering as much as any of them. Ilo was looking at him with hurt and pleading eyes, and a little shyly Asha managed to say, "Could we find somewhere else to talk?"

Moments later they were standing together in silence outside of the hospital, the wind strangely cold for a summer breeze, chilling them both as it brushed against their skin and made Asha shiver. Ilo turned away, lowering his eyes, and found a bench to sit on, and this scene reminded Asha so much of that moment when they had confessed their feelings for the first time, when they had sat together outside of the hospital that Alex had later . . . His thought trailed off as Asha realised the truth. So many of his memories were tainted by destruction, even the beautiful ones.

In silence he approached the bench, approached Ilo, slowly accepting this strange awkwardness between them. He still saw Cian when he looked at Ilo, and he still remembered that dreadful violation, the tainting of Ilo's face. Even now the angel was watching him with eyes that were darker than they should have been, violet replaced by indigo, and would they always be like that – dark eyes to reflect a tainted soul? Asha swallowed hard and suddenly felt embarrassed and ashamed, turning away quickly in realisation. Cian had dirtied him in a dreadful way, had made it hard for him to look at Ilo without remembering the pain and those dreadful feelings, without tasting the blood and feeling Cian use him like an object, like a thing, to get closer to Ilo, to rape them both, in a way. To rape and desecrate what they had between them with his words. Even now the memories were making something inside of Asha crawl up into a ball and slowly wither away, dying.

But the person that Cian had really hurt was Ilo. The truth was there in the dimming of his light, in the pain of his smile. It was there in the darkness of his angel eyes. How had he never realised that before?

Ilo watched with a heavy heart as Asha turned away from him completely, lowering his eyes, unable to face him. Whatever ease Ilo had fought hard to get between them was gone suddenly, and he wondered why but he couldn't bring himself to say a word. He had been foolish to think that things could go back to how they used to be, and now he had to accept that, despite how painful it was. There was no point clinging onto false hope.

"How's Alex?" he asked. He needed to know, as the boy's guardian, as his friend. It had been hard enough staying behind when he knew that Alex would face dangers and temptations that he probably wouldn't comprehend. It was even harder now, because Alex had gone through Hell and suffered for it because he was the Judge, and because Ilo hadn't been able to protect him. He wasn't able to protect anyone, not really.

Asha tensed a little. "I'm not sure. The doctors won't really tell us anything yet." He knew that he should reassure Ilo like he had Zayn, that he should tell the story, should explain, should make sure not to keep anything hidden from him. He should have said that Alex had made the right choice and that he would be all right, that everything could be all right if they just worked hard enough to keep the pain away. Instead he paused for a moment, and the awkward silence descended.

He wasn't sure how long they stayed in that unbearable stillness, but suddenly the building emotion began to break through, to overspill desperately into Asha's voice and his words. "I'm sorry, Ilo. I'm really sorry."

The angel looked surprised, lips parting gently. "Sorry?" he echoed, heart racing. "For what?"

"Because I promised that I would keep him safe," Asha cried. "I really wanted to help him, I swear, for Zayn and . . . and for you." His voice cracked and he turned away again, cheeks flushed in embarrassment, everything churning inside of him. "I couldn't help him," he continued quietly. "I had to watch him suffer. I always have to watch people suffer. I hate it."

Silence. Ilo didn't know what to do, what to say. Everything inside of him was suddenly painfully rushing and there was a bitter taste in his mouth. One minute everything was so simple, so hurtfully clear, but now Asha was clutching a fist to his chest and the demon's body was trembling and Ilo wanted nothing more than to wrap Asha in his arms, but he couldn't, not if it would hurt him. He didn't want to hurt Asha, not ever again, and that made everything awkward. How could he show Asha what he truly felt inside if he couldn't touch him, if he was constantly aware that Asha was looking at him and seeing Cian instead? His simple presence was putting that pain in scarlet eyes, and he felt guilty. Maybe he always would.

"If you think I'm going to blame you for what happened, then you're wrong," Ilo said, mouth dry. "Alex is the Judge. We always knew he was. There's no way you could have protected him from that. And . . . and if anyone should be sorry, then I should."

Asha looked up slowly and the wind cocooned them both in iciness, but inside he was burning. "You don't have anything to be sorry about," he murmured. "I know that it wasn't you who hurt me. You'd never hurt me, Ilo. Sometimes I can't help remembering what he did to me, but . . ." He paused, raised his head and scarlet eyes met indigo; it was all they needed to see. "But I don't want to lose you. Please. I can't stand this unease. I don't want to live my life knowing that I let him do this to us."

Zayn was coming so close to losing Alex in the most final way, and Asha couldn't bear to see it. He had lost Ilo once like that and now the very thought of going through it again was tearing his heart to pieces. Some things were more important than dwelling on pain, were stronger than dark memories, and maybe it would be hard but he could do it, he knew he could. He had to.

Before Ilo could say anything, Asha moved and closed the distance between them, pressing their lips together in a soft kiss. It was just a light brush of mouths but to Ilo it was more than that – it was an affirmation, and a promise, and a ray of hope. So much had happened since their last meeting, the Salvation of the world in fact, and it had served to bind them closer together. And suddenly Asha deepened the kiss and there was no pain, no blood, just two pounding hearts, and slowly, almost hesitantly, Ilo raised his hand and brushed his fingers lightly through Asha's silvery hair.

Danika, looking at the couple through the window, smiled gently and turned away, leaving them to their privacy. It was time to move on, she knew. And she could stay here with Ilo on Earth, to keep him safe, to make sure that he didn't forget like she had, to keep him pure. And somehow she knew that everything would be all right in the end. It had to be.

*

He didn't know where he was or what had happened. All Alex knew was the darkness that surrounded him, that swallowed him whole and tried to drag him down, down, deeper down until nothing was left but this oblivion. Maybe once he would have found it comforting, would have given anything for the emptiness, but now he knew that he was missing something he couldn't bear to be apart from. He had gone through so much, and had lost so much, and now this.

Beep. Beep. Beep. In the hospital room a doctor with gold-peach hair, glasses and a white coat stood over Alex's bed, clutching a note board, writing something in a language that had been dead to mankind for centuries. He looked up at Alex, grimaced a little and continued to write silently.

Alex kept walking, but everything was so dark, so pitch-black, that distance and direction were lost to him entirely. The panic began to grow inside and his stomach was twisting in knots and there was nothing for him to hold onto. And then the fatigue began to set in, a weakness that gripped him mind and body, and his eyes were slowly closing as he succumbed to this nothingness that wanted so desperately to claim him. He was slipping away, further away, his body finally giving up and preparing itself for the most final of ends, and his soul was bathed in warmth, accepting.

The doctor looked up quickly as the soft beeping faded into one long, high and mournful note. He saw the flat line running across the screen of the life support machine and immediately dropped the note board, vaguely heard it clatter against the floor. The weak pounding that had kept Zayn going had faded into nothing, and quickly the doctor rushed forward and loomed down over Alex, a small panic exploding inside but not strong enough to affect his judgement. He placed one hand on Alex's forehead, gathered his power and concentrated hard, focussing, and then everything changed.

Darkness surrounded him, thick and almost tangible. As an angel the very realisation made him cringe and the shadows were brushing against him like living creatures trying to claim him, knowing what he was. He moved away from them, running, struggling to run, but it felt like he was trying to move through sand or water. It was achingly hard but he managed somehow, knew that he had to because otherwise this life was going to end.

Alex heard something, a dim and distant sound. A voice? Maybe, but he couldn't hear the words and they didn't seem important, not now, not when the bliss of ignorance was bathing his mind and he was all too willing to give up and surrender. He reached for the nothingness, for the warm emptiness, for the relief that he was constantly seeking.

"Alex!"

And immediately he pulled his hand back as though burnt. That name was familiar, it was his, and suddenly his heart was pounding in his throat and the panic and confusion were there, and he turned quickly, trying to find the person who was calling him back, trying to make any sense of this. He wanted to move on, didn't he? So then, why was he hesitating?

"Alex!"

And he was burnt again, chest aching, biting his lip in confusion. Alex turned quickly and there was a person there watching him, so close, so bright, with gold-peach hair and beads of topaz around his neck, burning like a star in the darkness, a candle, and Alex found himself drawn to the flame. He knew this person; the name lingered on the tip of his tongue.

"Alex, where are you going?" the angel asked softly. "Are things really so bad for you?"

"Jalen," he breathed, understanding. And then the tears were burning his eyes and there was such a weight against his chest that he was suffocating on the heavy feeling. All he could do was bite his lip and shake his head, ashamed that he had forgotten everything so easily when he had promised not to. He felt like a child and his eyelashes were wet with tears and he wanted so badly to be away from here. "No," he choked, looking up at the angel, the one who had found Ilo innocent.

Jalen fought back the urge to roll his eyes. "Then come back," he said, and he reached out slowly, offering Alex his hand, his help and protection. For a moment all Alex could do was look at that hand and realise that this was a choice between life and death, and there was no hesitation really, not when he knew what was waiting for him. He reached out and took Jalen's hand, their fingers entwined.

Back in the hospital room, Alex's eyes slowly opened, and all he could hear was the soft beating of his heart.

*

When the doctor told Zayn that Alex had regained consciousness, and that despite his injuries he would be fine, and that it was really nothing short of a miracle, something exploded inside of him; relief, pure and sweet and completely overwhelming, even a little sickening but he didn't care because the agonising pressure inside of him was fading away and the truth was completely overwhelming and beyond intense. It would have taken something much more powerful than the demon Council to stop him from running to Alex's room.

Standing in front of the door, for just one moment Zayn suddenly felt apprehensive. There were so many 'what ifs' churning around in his mind, but his heart was racing and his lungs were burning and if he didn't see Alex then Zayn knew he would start to think this was all some malicious dream. So, taking a deep breath, he swallowed his doubts and pushed the door open.

Alex was lying there in the hospital bed, just as white as the sheets and his skin peppered with beads of sweat. He didn't look well at all, and he was hooked up to so many machines, but Zayn didn't care because as least he was alive, still here, not taken away by the cruel fate that Zayn had decided hated them both. There was hope, there was a chance for them, and he couldn't forget the horrors of mortality but they didn't seem important, not now.

He walked further into the room until he was at the bedside, and instinctively Zayn reached out and brushed away sweaty strands of hair from Alex's forehead, feeling him there, feeling the sweat and the warmth and the solid realness of Alex's body. And then he took Alex's hand and squeezed gently, simply needing to feel the warmth of Alex's being, wanting to feel that he was real, that he hadn't slipped away. It was strangely hard to believe that they hadn't been ripped apart, but Zayn exhaled gently and as Alex's eyes slowly opened, silently thanked whoever had the power to hear him.

Yahto stood outside of the room, silent, motionless, and he looked through the window at the scene, watched silently as Zayn lovingly brushed away Alex's hair, saw the shaky and disbelieving smile on the man's lips. It wrenched at his heart but he accepted it, he had to, because there was nothing he could do to change something like that. For long moments he watched them together and it tore him apart inside, because his need was still there inside of him, the desperate desire to claim Alex for his own. But he knew better than that. He was still a demon but he had changed inside long before he had turned against Reza, long before most of this had started. All it had taken were those words.

"I need you."

But some things, despite how badly he wanted them, Yahto could never have. And he tried to deny how much pain the thought brought him, how badly his heart was aching, but he had never been very good at denial. Instead he swallowed the lump in his throat and pressed his fingertips against the glass for a moment in a silent goodbye. Maybe it was the last time he would see Alex, but it definitely wouldn't be the last time he thought about the boy. And yet he knew that he had to move on, for no one but himself – for his own sanity.

His chest heavy and throat tight, Yahto turned away and walked down the hospital corridor. He brushed past a man with gold-peach hair and beads of topaz around his neck, muttering an apology before turning the corner and disappearing from sight, leaving it all behind.

Jalen watched the demon go, smiling softly, understanding and almost hating that he did. And then he looked through the glass and saw Zayn gently holding Alex's hand, and the protective look on the man's face, and his smile grew all the wider. "Well done, Alex," he said quietly. And now the Judgement was over and he laughed a little as he turned and walked away from the room. Maybe they would never realise that angelic power had brought Alex back. But then, Jalen didn't want them to think that the Council had gone soft. And in a flash of bright light he was gone too, and there was stillness.

Inside the room, Zayn choked in relief as he saw that beautiful gold, as he realised that he never had to be apart from this person again, that they had gone through something devastating and had survived it. "Alex," he whispered, heart burning in warmth and love and dizzy contentment. "Yes, yes, yes. Oh thank God. I thought that I'd lost you. Are you all right? How do you feel?"

That voice, those eyes, that face and this warmth. Alex looked up at Zayn and there were tears in his eyes, burning, clinging to his eyelashes like crystal drops. His heart was racing and his cheeks were flushed and all he could see was Zayn above him, around him, with him. The nightmare had finally faded and now he choked back a sob and the only thing that he said was, "Zayn." It was more than a word, more than a name. It was a pleading, a promise, and Alex grasped Zayn's hand and drew him down, and then somehow they were embracing. Alex clung onto him despite the furious beeping of the machines, his arms thrown around Zayn's shoulders, fingers buried in deep emerald hair. He held him, unwilling to let go, finally free of the darkness that had tried hard to drag him away from this.

"Close your eyes and wish upon a star . . .

Keep me in your dreams and I won't be far."

"God, Alex," Zayn choked again, holding the boy gently but desperately, all thoughts of Judgement and blood and screams and destructive power pushed out of his mind by this moment, his whole body suffocating on pure emotion.

"It's okay," Alex whispered. "It's okay. I'm not going anywhere."

Zayn grinned shakily, heart racing. "Promise?"

Nodding furiously Alex said, "Promise. More than promise."

They were both still shaking, still high on emotions, relief sweet but dizzying; smiling so hard it was almost painful. And then Zayn cupped Alex's face and simply looked into those golden eyes, feeling that his heart could overflow with the feelings he had for this boy, for this man. Letting him go would be more than hard – it was would be impossible. And he knew that they were both mortal now, that they would grow old and die, but he could accept that despite how foreign the idea was. He would be happy with whatever time they had. "I love you, Alexis," he said.

Alex flushed hard, because he could feel the seriousness, the intensity in Zayn's words. There was a promise hidden somewhere in his voice, and he felt the same. Heart racing painfully, looking into amethyst eyes, he said, "I love you too. Always." They wouldn't let go. They couldn't. And Zayn knew that he had finally found his reason. He slipped the silver ring onto Alex's finger, cementing the promise.

When Alex looked up he saw Ilo, Asha, Danika and Marcell watching them through the glass with amused looks on their faces, and he blushed quickly in embarrassment. Zayn noticed too and beckoned them in, and then there was laughter and heartfelt embraces, pain, guilt and shame, love and acceptance. There was still a lot ahead of them, good and bad, hard and easy, but the truth remained.

The world had found its Salvation. Alex had too.

That was enough. It was more than enough.

~FIN~

A/N: Thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing and supporting me with this story! If you've got this far then please PLEASE drop me a review, small or otherwise, just to tell me what you think, no matter how old the story is. I'd really appreciate it!

And so ends the second story in my series: the third is 'Mikaili'

Kai is haunted by the obsessive love of a fallen angel that won't let him go in any lifetime. Betrayed, his only hope is to stop the gate of the Abyss from being opened before he succumbs to his dark dreams.

It can be found under my bio. I hope you like it too ^^