XXX

The sun and moon took turns over head, always finding Death on his bench on the corner of Evergreen and 2nd street, always stuck in the same memory.

His love lay still. Her soul departed to venture the unknown, taking with her all his love. If he could turn his eyes around and look inside himself he knew he'd find an empty cavity where his heart was supposed to beat, where she was supposed to be, over and over he realized this. Death had all of eternity to relive and remember. Time became a meaning less concept. It was hard to tell when it started, the degenerating of his mind, possibly when he became human, maybe from the moment she died, or yet even more likely since his birth. The traumatic memory must have loosened his stability every time it played for once in a while a different recollection would slip in. The longer he sat the more often it happened. The first time it almost enough to awake him from his unnatural grief.

The next song was softer, more eclectic carrying twice the soul as the last one. It wasn't long before Jake was tapping his foot to the rhythm and singing along with the chorus after it repeated once or twice. This wasn't bad at all. He leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes Jake let the music run through his head. For the first time in a great while he didn't think about anything, just listening to the melody brought him close to rapture. Someone directly in front of Jake giggled, his eyes snapped open. Katie was standing a scant 6 inches away from him.

"Never woulda pinned you as a Collective Soul fan" She giggled again in a most coquettish way. She swayed a bit on her feet, and had to throw out a hand to stop from tipping over. It was growing apparent she was edging up to her drink limit. When the song faded, another picked up, a bit faster and harder. "Now this is my song baby," no longer flirtatious but sultry. She smiled in a way that made Jake's blood pumping noisily in his ears. Something about her was almost wicked but defiantly irresistible. Some of her sobriety returned as she pulled a dazed Jake to the open space in the dining room, a makeshift dance floor.

The door of his prison was open at that point, but Death wasn't brave enough to step out. Instead he slammed it shut with the fierce lamentation that the warmth of her smile, touch, or soul was forever gone.

Later another memory surfaced, with much of the same affect.

The couple on the screen kissed and hugged in bliss that they had found each other, before the screen faded to back and the credits rolled. Beside him Katie sighed, not in contentment but in disappointment, "He was way cuter before the hair cut."

They were all happy moments that weren't enough to coax him out. Always he'd relive the flicker of joy only to find himself drowning in a misery twice as black as it was before.

Kate seemed determined to make up his broken arm up to Jake. It seemed that she was always fluttering just behind him, ready to leap forward and fuss about his condition. She gave the impression that Jake was terminally ill, not on the road to recovery. The bullet wound was healing nicely and bone had a clean fracture. Still, Jake decided he liked all the opportunities he got to kiss away her worried frown.

The next one was different, but did not save him either.

A powerful emotion swept him away.

Before as he fought he used holy fire, his righteous fury, to best the enemy, now nothing so clean overpowered Jake. Hatred, at its blackest, is what he felt for his once brother. The wind picked up, swirling, violent. Lightning flashed, even as thunder tore its way across the heavens the sky darkened. The storm appeared as if it had always been. Lightning came again so close that thunder rattled in Jake's chest.

If the bastard wouldn't come down, he would shake him from the sky. Dark clouds exploded with blinding purple light. A fierce wind smashed the deafening roar with vengeance into the tiny figure. He held his own, infuriatingly enough. A colossal unseen battering ram hit him again and again.

The angel must have realized Jake's intent. He stared down at Jake eyes wide, mouth open. His wings faltered.

His wings. More hatred filled Jake. His mortal heart rocked in its prison, thumping so fast it might burst. He dared flaunt what was taken from him? Acutely Jake remembered the agony of his being removed. The phantom pain burned into his shoulders as if it was happening all over again. He dared, and now Jake would rip them from his back, and laugh as his once brother screamed for end. Maybe the increase of oxygen to the brain was having an effect; the ground didn't feel stable beneath Jake anymore. With an exercise of will he stayed standing.

Never did Jake's gaze leave the horrified angel's. Horrified probably by what becomes the fallen. Jake's hate for him spiked upwards even more. The glare he gave him was smoldering. Above him the angel stares back in terror, trembling in fear. Not because of the violent mingling of elements occurring around them, but something he could see in Jake was terrifying him. The revelation felt like the best thing to happen all day. Jake smiled wildly.

Death found he couldn't stop the memories. They changed and jumped around the spectrum of loving and bloody on their own whim.

Jake had done the impossible. Fallen angels had the choice to continue farther on there path to damnation, but the transformation from mortal to demon had to be made by an elder. Mortals just don't have the means to convert themselves. They lack the necessary power in the less worldly realms.

Here, Jake stood, the epitome of wickedness, and a far cry from human.

"Angel." His debonair voice crawled with evil purposes but was seducing none the less. "Angel, come down. There is no need to risk exposure to such a degree. Your death will be by my hand regardless to whatever you do." He gestured, with a sweeping motion to the air beside him.

The angel stayed aloft.

They would fade in and out, often random but this experience kept coming back, every time a little more was added it.

The angel's wings crumpled and he dropped. From a height of 7 stories he fell head over heels into the pavement. His contract with the ground made a thud and loud crack. He didn't move. For a moment Jake felt his own pride flare up, quickly he slapped it down. The dregs of the lowest level of demons could have taken him. He was a weak angel, basically unarmed, and obviously untrained for warfare. He was a "guardian" angel just like… Jake was …Jake had been… The angel wasn't dead, a simple fall couldn't kill him, but he was hurt. Jake felt guilt weigh down his chest, iron chains on his heart. The angel looked pitiful, he laid on his side, one arm bent in the wrong direction, a small trickle of blood dripping down the corner of his lips, which were bent in a grimace of pain. He was a peon, nothing, he had never directly harmed Jake. As quick as he grabbed the reigns, the demon in Jake's head slinked back to his cage. He could once again reason. Did he truly intend to war with everything good and holy? Would he ever hurt Kate?

Why was this happening to him? What did that angel matter? Nothing mattered to him; Death buried himself in self hate and sorrow again. He had hurt Kate, he had drug her into a dangerous land knowingly. If it wasn't for him she would still live.

Jake knew of only one place to take him. The shelter would take care of him, and not ask too many questions. Against Jake's shoulder his head rolled unnervingly, he was like a rag doll…

Months passed and not one soul ventured to sit next to the confused soul on the bench on the corner of Evergreen and 2nd Street.

XXX

Death had been a person once. In fact he'd been several.

Other then Death's identity multiplicity he didn't seem abnormal. Those that had known a few of his personalities and survived couldn't fathom how Jake Helwater became the minor deity he now was. One survivor, Vann, the angel currently on Death's mind in particular lay awake in his rented human hovel wondering. He spent most of his time passed out on his bed in a trance, trying to bring Jake back to life. Vann dug through Death's mind, a lightless place with the consistency of tar, trying to find something, anything that would give him back a glimmer of his old self. He'd thought Jake was a hell of an enigma, trading one race for another as a woman might shoes. The newest development however left him more baffled than before.

Whenever Vann tried to answer the question of Death his mind wandered to the old flip flopping problem. The solution was his bizarre linage. Vann might have believed the pretty much nonexistent combination of genes would have been enough to push Jake to Death, but there was a control in the experiment. Another should-be-dead case, Jake's brother, his twin in fact, a half breed that wasn't a merciless death god. The brother, Ridge, had been raised by demons and was a hundred fold less malevolent then when it suited Jake. Vann had met Ridge a few times. Ridge was reserved, perfectly reasonable, and not at all like the rest of his purely demonic siblings. He was an anchor of stability and rationality

That had always disturbed Vann. Ridge was balanced, as good as he was evil, and Jake… wasn't. He had passed as a full blooded angel for 500 years, then in battle he couldn't bring himself to kill a friend turned Fallen. In a second he snapped on his closest comrade in a fit of rage that nearly killed the unlucky angel. Later in his trial he came close to strangling his prosecutor, his blind rage scared angelic society and he was booted out.

Frustrated with the stubbornness of his friend Vann still closed his eyes and cleared his mind, willing to try again.

XXX

A new recollection came to Death, but this time not his own.

My God we were going to die here. We were going to die stuck in some shitty bathroom. The demons left were coming up the stairs, thundering, not bothering to be cautious. They knew there wasn't a damn thing we, I, could do to stop them. Jake was as good as dead already. In a few minutes they'd realize where we were hiding, kick down the door, and cut us down with cursed steal, maybe Jake's own Harmr.

"Jake wake up" I found myself whispering and shaking his comatose form. "Jake please, help me… Jake wake up… wake up. Help Jake, I can't, I need you. Jake…" Hands became someone else's as they shook him harder. "Wake up. Wake Up. Wake. UP WAKE. UP."

"umnnn" His eyelids flickered.

"Jake. Jake get up. Come on up." These desperate man's hands patted his face and held his head up.

"aahnn" This time the muscles around his mouth twitched. Outside of the room things were thrown and smashed about.

"Jake, you need to finish them off. Maybe I could take out one or two, but I don't have your kind of fire power. Rys will have my head on his wall, yours too. So up up UP." Now I was pulling his limp form into a sitting position. His head lolled back.

"Whawan?" He was trying to speak though a broken jaw. The words came out muffled and childish sounding.

"Jake?"

"Whaou wan?"

"There's still like seven of Rys's lackeys and the devil himself after us, and they're-"

"Where aray?"

"Sounds like the dinning room or maybe-"

"Where arwe?"

"The upstairs bathroom, it only a matter of-"

"I neda mir"

"A what?"

"amir neda amir"

"Mirror? There's one above the sink." Jake made what might have been an attempt to stand.

"Jus breakih"

"They'll surely hear it."

"Woner haven't herou appin. Breakit now." Regretting my actions even as I did them, I got to my feet and stood before the small medicine cabinet. Before bring my fist back I let out a breath I didn't realized I had been holding.

"Urry. Neda pice." Jake slurred. "Breakit"

And I did. The shards flew back at me in a cacophony of noise. The sounds outside the room stopped.

It wasn't him. Death saw a reflection of the terrified angel from before looking back at him from the mirror. What was happening to him? He remembered that day, and the summons he worked to bring Ridge his brother to his aid. The angel was there, but why would he remember the event from his point of view?

Jake Helwater stepped through the portal; perplexing considering a Jake Helwater was still unconscious bleeding on the floor next to me. The new Jake seemed rather taken back to see himself in such condition. With his faced turned I could see a clan tattoo over his left eye, a black bar starting just over his eyebrow and ending mid cheek. He stared with his jaw unhinged for a length of time at the body before recognizing my presence. When he did the alert Jake composed himself. "What has happened here? …Angel." My identity confused the poor doppelganger even more. I suppose it was warranted though, I have been keeping the strangest company as of late. The thought struck me as funny, I found myself giggling, and when I realized I was doing that the chuckle turned into a full laugh.

The new Jake's concern looked so foreign it was comical, I laughed some more. His combat boats had a pristine shine; they dazzled me as they clunked softly and carefully across the floor. "Angel?" He spoke softly too. "Angel, what's happened?" His boots stopped in front of me. Leather groaned, a Jake Helwater was crouching before me, another lay still at my side. "Angel…" This Jake sounded uncertain now. "How did you come to be here?"

A rather philosophical question, "Well," I giggled again, "my mother got kind of tipsy one night-" Jake held up a hand to silence me.

"Who did this?" He gestured to the bodies, oh the bodies. I had forgotten them.

I smiled dopily at him, "You did."

"I…" Jake stared at the other Jake. "…did."

He must be going mad no other explanation worked.

Little Trent had noticed the glitter in his father's eyes; he could tell he was in one of his silly moods. His father's silly moods couldn't be forced or made, spontaneously they just were, which wasn't very often. When he was in the moment, he would just start tickling little Trent until he felt his sides would spilt from laughter then suggest an ice cream sundae and movie night. Or he would take a day off from work for no reason at all and wait at home for Trent to get out of school to whisk him off to the zoo or a fair or some other outrageously fun place. Where ever they were, his father would spend every ounce of his attention on Trent until the silly fit ended, it could last for a half hour to half a week.

So it was with great anticipation that Trent sat down at their small dinning table, waiting for whatever news his father had to break, but now he had his back turned humming merrily, working over four pots on the stove. Another thing his father rarely did was to cook a whole meal from scratch.

Without turning to him his father spoke, "Come over here yah lazy bum, some of these vegetables need cutting." Still facing the stove, he gestured with a large dripping wooden spoon to a cutting board on the counter to his left. Trent sprang up to help, it wasn't often he got to do anything other then stirring. Close to board was an assortment of produce still bagged and sealed with the little twist ties. Most Trent recognized, some he didn't. Here behind the frosty plastic were mushrooms, then a green pepper, and a red one, and a yellow, there an onion. "The knives are on the chopping block, you'll want a medium sized one." A little miffed at himself for not getting one first thing Trent pulled out three before finding one he deemed perfect. "Make sure they're clean." The vegetables he must mean. Now groaning a little about all the preparation he had to put into use one of the sharp knives, Trent scooped all the bags and headed for the sink…

That vision hit home the way none of the real ones could. Shaken Death stepped back, united in a task Raze and Jake stepped in. They knew who's child that could have been. Delusion or not it could have been a reality. They also knew who aborted it.

XXX

Kind of an experimental chapter, can easily see myself completely rewriting it. But hey it was a shot