This is a sidestory to Frozen in Time, although this happens so much before it that even if you haven't read Frozen in Time – fear not, you won't miss anything crucial.
Insisting on Illusions
Uriel lowered his gaze to the papers on his desk. The fact that his ears always picked up the sound of one particular pair of feet on the polished wooden floor of the Office building was bad enough – he certainly didn't need to raise his head and stare at the tall man in long pale green robes.
He was feeling paranoid as it was. Every single time the man walked down that corridor, by the never closed door that led to Uriel's office, he was sure his far too keen interest had been noticed. Sometimes he even felt that it wasn't a mere coincidence the man walked so close to the door frame that his shoulder brushed it, creating a sound that nearly made him get up and go to him.
And even if it took great will power, he admitted that the reason his office's door was always open wasn't so the air in the room wouldn't get stuffy.
Sighing, Uriel smoothed the papers and continued to read the topmost of them. Or at least he tried to. The swirl of green fabric and a quiet sound of nails accidentally scraping against wood made his eyes stray to the door.
Against his will, Uriel noticed that there was a large motif woven in the back of the robe. However, it was impossible to tell what exactly the design was, since the fabric was too wrinkled and as usual the veil Metatron wore covered most of his back anyway. Uriel had always wanted to catch a glimpse of the man without that airy, multi-layered piece of clothing.
Uriel's grip on the papers tightened when he heard somebody – it sounded a lot like Razkiel's voice – calling Metatron to come and look at something. He cursed his ears when they easily picked the sound of the approaching steps.
When the steps came closer, he forced his gaze on the papers. By this point he couldn't have said what they were about to save his life. It felt more important not to watch... as those delicate feet touched the floor and the hem of the robes lazily flapped against those legs. And the veil rustled so softly against those shoulders.
He wasn't looking. Nope.
He was definitely reading the papers.
"Is everything fine, Uriel?" he heard a discreet voice asking and felt a hand touching his arm gently.
"Yes, everything is... fine," he managed to mumble, his eyes following the vision of consealing clothes, deep guarded eyes and fluid step. Why the man had to keep walking by his door every few minutes? Did nobody notice how distracting it was? Or was he the only one in this place who wasn't blind as a bat?!
"Uriel? Hello, Heaven to Uriel? Anybody there?"
"Yes. What?" Uriel snapped away from the trance he had apparently fallen into. If only it had been as easy to shed the memory of that veil cascading down that graceful body.
"Are you sure you aren't overworking yourself?" his worried secretary asked. He glanced briefly at the handsome face and then turned his gaze back to the door. "I know you want this project away and done but don't overdo it, okay? Even the mighty father of all bookworms can get a burn-out."
Distractedly, Uriel replied something and waved his hand in a dismissing gesture. He stared at the door and hoped to hear the even steps that had become so familiar in less than fifty years.
He hoped more than anything that the man wasn't already married. And a father of a small child nonetheless.
Lovers he could get rid of, he could destroy happy relationships, rip a bride from her groom, poison a marriage beyond repair... but an innocent child he wouldn't leave to grow in a broken home.
He had been holding his breath every time he heard those steps coming and avoiding to look at that door for a long time. Still, not long enough – that woman had gotten Metatron first.
It didn't console him much that he would have been too late anyway. The man had been married already when he first came to Heaven. Nobody knew how Ariel had convinced the God that her marriage to a total foreigner who didn't know anything about their history or even their customs shouldn't be annulled.
The fact that a foreigner was allowed to live in the Four Heavens had raised numbers of complaints and temper tantrums from the civilians. Uriel understood them. It had taken him some effort to get used to being addressed as 'Lord Uriel', and he had no doubt that he wasn't the only one who hadn't jumped up and down from joy, when learning that their true names couldn't be spoken aloud anymore. Not even in their sanctuary, in their own home realm.
Out of tradition and habit, angels – and demons, too, for that matter – kept their names and even their native language as a secret. Some foreigners knew their language, true, but none knew their names. Uriel was just a random name he had taken and so was his title: arch angel.
The official names of those working in the Office or otherwise under the God were usually changed everytime a new God was coronated. Each God decided on a theme and let the subordinates chose their names within it. The current God had been crowned some time after a new world had been found and the names had been taken from that world's mythology.
There was an unordinary story behind it, Uriel recalled. Two angels had gone to that new exotic world to spend their honeymoon. They had landed on a meadow and got into a quarrel about whether they should try to contact the natives or not. The natives had apparently either seen or heard them, for they had come to investigate the racket. For some reason the angels still weren't sure about, the people had picked a side and practically dragged one of the angels away. The other angel – ironically the one who had thought that communicating with the natives was a bad idea – had been confused, but thanked the lot anyway. He had tried to ask where his wife had been taken to and noticed that, though it sounded a lot like the language that was spoken in the realm of Rudia, the natives obviously had their own language.
He had been offered food and a place to sleep and grateful and more and more confused he had accepted. At dawn, he had been taken to the same meadow. Now there had been a pole stuck in the earth and at the base of it had been firewood. The angel had gestured towards the pole questioningly and the locals had gestured widly with their hands. Not understanding at all, the angel had decided to wait patiently. I thought it was probably some kind of morning rite the natives had every morning, the angel had later explained his passivity. Maybe to worship Uue, the goddess of sun.
The natives had dragged his wife to the meadow and the angel had wondered about the jewelry they had made her wear. He himself hadn't been offered such necklaces and whatnot. The angel had asked his beloved if she knew what was happening and got a helpless shrug as an answer. He had started worrying when his wife had been tied to the pole and he had been given a torch. The natives had gestured to his companion, the firewood, and the torch. He had felt sick and after a moment, he had stamped out the fire. He had ignored the natives gaping at him and gone to release his poor wife.
Uriel remembered hearing that the angel had thrown a massive temper tantrum after one of the natives had tried to approach his wife again. The God had been less than pleased when he had heard about the incident, but no severe punishments were given, if Uriel's memory served him right. Still even now people were encouraged to avoid the realm of Kaila as the place had been named.
No one knew where exactly Metatron was hailing from. Some rumors about his origins were still flying around and it was vastly known that the realm of Kaila was suspected to be his home realm. To the concerned inquires and protests, the God had only said that he had everything under control and that everyone should continue their lives as if nothing had happened.
Uriel bet that many in the Four Heavens would kill to find out where Ariel had found such a stunning specimen and where more could be found. Uriel himself excluded, as he had already realized he had eyes only for that one particular foreigner, who wore faded robes and painted his nails green.
"Uriel, you are spacing out again."
"My apologies, my apologies," Uriel mumbled, thoughts entirely elsewhere. He wanted to get up and fetch his spear and perform acupunction on her (preferebly giving great care to her heart, lungs and other vital organs), when he saw Ariel the Metatron's Wife walk past his door, obviously to make a surprise visit to her gorgeous husband.
For a moment he wondered – and not for the first time – if he could ban Ariel from the Office for good. Ariel didn't work there and he could claim her visits interrupted their work. Plus she was a jounalist. He might be able to convince the God that she could accidentally find information better kept secret and later unintentionally include it in her articles. With his reputation and connections, he even might manage to pull it off without too many raised eyebrows.
On the other hand, Metatron worked directly under Elijah the God, their emperor, their lord and master, so the whole matter was technically out of his jurisdiction, even if he could pull rank on Metatron in any aspect imaginable. He would have to use a more dicreet way...
Still, the more he thought about it the more idiotic it felt. Campaigning against Ariel who had done nothing to arouse his wrath in the eyes of his coworkers would only reveal his secret crush to Metatron and lessen his chances to ever get the man.
Hearing Metatron's voice call a greeting to her, he grit his teeth. He was happy he couldn't see in the man's office room, since he could picture him melting in her hug well enough in his mind, thank you very much. When two set of steps could be heard to come closer he forced his hands to let go of the papers in order not to crumble them and instead clutched sides of the desk in his irongrip.
He barely held back an angry curse when he saw them walking side by side, her talking about something and him looking at her tenderly and smiling. Uriel was thankful that he couldn't see whether they were holding hands or not. He probably would have gone for his spear and stabbed her if they were.
"Uriel! Uriel, for Uue's sake! I don't care what you say; you are going to take a vacation!"
A sound significantly resembling a growl emitted from his throat when somebody stepped in his line of vision. Irritated, Uriel shook his head when his shoulders were grabbed.
"Oh... Razkiel, Metatron, somebody help! Uriel's got a seizure or something! For Khedet's sake, somebody call a healer!"
Uriel heard the rush of steps but they were wrong steps, not the ones he was longing to hear. He didn't struggle when somebody dashed at his side and pulled him up. His hands were forcibly pulled away from the table.
And there were more sounds of people coming.
With his eyes, he caressed the lines of that veil bouncing with the brisk steps. His gaze followed the short tress of hair that fell on one side of his head and stopped for a blink on the curve of the full yet pale lips. Then he saw only the pale green, faded material of the robe and the curve of one shoulder peeking from under the veil.
Somebody stepped in front of him and he couldn't see anymore.