"Do you think we should go to the hospital to cheer him up?" Ariel asked her husband, clasping her hands in indecision. Metatron's gaze rested on her slender hands. He had noticed long time ago that Ariel functioned best under stress or danger. "You have worked in the same building for such a long time."
"I'm sure he has his family members and whatnot there," Metatron pointed out. He didn't feel much like going to visit somebody who reminded him of his job. That was what all his coworkers were to him: mere reminders of his slavery.
"Still, it seems so impolite. You saw each other on daily basis after all. Besides, don't you think he will need to see that people are supporting him, after what happened?"
Metatron kept from pointing out that Yaryel probably had hundreds of amorous fools knocking on his door with flowers and gifts and wanting to 'cheer him up'.
"If you really want to go, sweetheart," Metatron agreed, taking his wife's hand and squeezing it. "Though we probably should first call the hospital and ask about their visiting hours."
"I'll go to make the call. Run to the nearest flower shop and buy a nice bouquet for him, will you?"
Metatron kissed his wife's cheek and promised to choose the most elegant bouquet he could find. He heard how Ariel dialed the hospital's number while he opened the front door and stepped out.
If he had been an angel, he would have used the balcony doors and flown to the flower shop but as he was a dragon and used different means than pairs of wings to fly he chose to walk instead. Besides, he was trying not to advertise the fact that he was of different species than the rest of the population. The fact that he lacked horns was enough to make people give him questioning glances when he walked by.
Walking wasn't too odd, since most angels considered it tiresome to fly all the time. Ariel had said it felt like jogging everywhere. Metatron shrugged; it didn't matter much to him, though he did worry about their child. Would he be able to fly? What if he ended up without wings or with so small wings that they wouldn't be strong enough to carry him? He hoped more than anything that his young son would come more to his angel mother than to his dragon father.
He and Ariel had pondered the problem when they had realized that Ariel was expecting a child. Metatron had first hoped against all hope that the child wouldn't be his. It would have hurt him terribly if Ariel had been unfaithful, but it would have been easier for the child and for Ariel, too, if the father had also been an angel.
In the end, they had decided to get married as quickly and with as little commotion as possible and move to Ariel's home realm and beg its ruler to grant Metatron a permission to live there. The God, as the angels called their ruler, had been understanding and given Metatron the name he was known in the Four Heavens and let him live there as Ariel's husband. He had even been given a job in the Office building, so he could help supporting their child.
Everything had come with the price that his other abilities, his unique dragon abilities, would be at the God's use anytime the man wanted so. Metatron wouldn't have given his freedom for anybody else, but Ariel was... different. Important. Precious.
His wife. The mother of his only child. He still was barely able to believe that somehow he had ended up married and having a family. What amazed him most was the fact that he didn't even mind it terribly much.
By the time he reached the flower shop, Metatron had a tender smile on his face. He offered a fleeting smile to the saleslady and browsed through the premade flower bouquets.
"Do you need something special?" the saleslady, an elderly woman with a few freckles, inquired politely, having sneaked behind him. Welcoming all help he could get, Metatron explained the situation: a coworker in hospital, something to cheer the poor dear up a little.
The lady nodded with an understanding expression and led him to another section of the shop. She picked up three bouquets and asked if any of them was satisfactory. To Metatron they all looked almost identical, so he just picked one at random and hoped that Ariel would approve. Surely his wife must have known that although dragons in general had a strong sense of beauty, it differred some from the general opinion? He wasn't even sure whether angels had meanings for different flowers: he knew that many species had. He berated himself for not asking Ariel about it before obediently trotting to the flower shop.
Having paid for the flowers, Metatron returned to their home only to see Ariel standing anxiously at the front lawn. She explained that the visiting hours wouldn't last much longer, so they should go soon if they didn't want to wait for tomorrow. The flowers wouldn't certainly like the wait much, and Metatron didn't relish a new visit to the shop.
Ariel gave the flowers a glance and complimented the choice. Metatron admitted that it had been more due to the expertise of the saleslady than to his own taste, which only made Ariel laugh in mirth and squeeze his shoulder before they left their yard behind their backs.
The walk to the hospital didn't take long, since it was near the Office building. Ariel and he had purposely wanted the God to provide them an apartment that would be in walking distance of Metatron's new job, since he certainly couldn't fly and all vehicles were forbidden in the center of the capital of the Four Heavens.
It took longer to find the right room inside the building than to get to the building itself. Nobody seemed to have time to guide them, though everybody seemed to notice them.
Metatron had gotten used to the fact that all angels he ever encountered seemed to gape at him at first. Ariel had giggled that it was because they were trying to figure out whether he was for real or not and for how long would such a breathtaking vision stay.
Metatron had stopped complaining when she had pointed out that if he didn't want people to stop whatever they were doing when he walked in the room and stare at him in amazement then he could just dress like any other angel and leave the robes he liked to wear in his wardrobe. Wearing a hat to cover his lack of horns wouldn't hurt either, she had added. He had weighted the choice between his favorite clothes and blending in. Ariel had promised to support him whichever alternative he chose, though she admitted liking his robes a lot. He had decided that ordinariness was so overrated nowadays.
"So did she say it was the room 18009C4? Or was the last number 5?" Ariel asked and unintentionally pulled him out of his musings. Metatron tried to remember. Contrary to common belief, dragons didn't have a supernatural memory. Any creature would go insane if they could remember everything and lived for thousands of years.
"I'm sorry, I didn't listen that closely," Metatron confessed. "If we just knock on whichever door comes in sight first and pray Adelhe to be merciful with us?"
"Good plan, honey," she replied mockingly and tugged his hand. Metatron smiled at her when he noticed that their fingers were entwined together and had probably been for a several minutes and he hadn't even noticed it. Obviously he was starting to get used to being married.
Surprisingly, they found the right door on the first try. Knocking on it and pushing it open when no answer seemed to be forthcoming, they stepped in, consoling smiles firmly in place and the bouquet carefully arranged in Ariel's hands.
To their surprise Yaryel wasn't lying listlessly on the hospital bed, looking pale and drained. He was sitting cross-legged on it and holding a thick book in his hands. He wasn't reading it however, but sketching something on a white paper with an ordinary ballpoint pen.
According to rumors, Yaryel was a fantastical artist when it came to drawing or painting. Some said it was entirely wrong that someone so photogenic should be able to produce wonderfully beautiful works of art himself. Yaryel was notorious for not selling his works or showing them to people much, although those who had had the honor of seeing them claimed that every single one of his paintings was a masterpiece.
Uriel was thought to be among those few who knew all his paintings, and most believed that he even owned some of them. Some snorted and pointed out that considering that Yaryel was head over heels in love with Uriel, he probably would have given the arch angel anything he asked. Metatron mused that it was good that nobody knew that for sure, because it was a public secret that the God had wanted to buy one of Yaryel's works – and been told that he wouldn't get one, not even if the fate of the Four Heavens depended on it. There had been many rumors about why exactly the attractive angel hadn't been fired after that.
Metatron turned his attention back to his wife when he heard Ariel gasping softly. The fantastic hair Yaryel was famous for was snaking around his body like a curtain made of thin lace.
Just then, the supposedly depressed patient noticed them standing dumbfounded in the doorway.
They got a good view of tantalizing gray eyes that seemed to hold a shadow of laughter in them.
Many times Metatron had thought that rather than the color or the pale, curved eyelashes, it was the expression in those eyes that made it almost impossible to look away. He was aware of the fact that many in the Office walked by Uriel's office room just to get a glance at his secretary.
"Metatron, Ariel, did you come to see me?" Yaryel asked, although it was clear that they had. Even if there was no sign of smile on the angel's lips, Metatron had the feeling that he was smirking at them. When he saw a spark in the man's eyes he was positive that the secretary had a decent guess about their assumption of his health.
"Yes, I hope we are not disturbing you?" Ariel asked politely, coming out of her surprised state like a boomerang. "We just wanted to see if there was anything we could do...?"
"We thought to come to see you and tell you that the Office really isn't the same without you around, Yaryel," Metatron added with a benevolent smile. Yaryel smiled back, if that slight curving of his lips could be called smile. Metatron wondered how it was possible that Uriel never seemed to follow those pale bows with his eyes, let alone notice them. He himself had great trouble to tear his eyes away. He half hoped that he would never see Yaryel really smile and half prayed that the man would smile solely for him.
He thanked all deities for having his precious, kind, and tender Ariel.
"Where can I put this?" Ariel asked raising the bouquet questioningly.
"Oh, how beautiful they are! Thank you very much. You have to tell me where you bought them, Ariel," Yaryel murmured quietly, pushing the flowers into the already full vase on his bedside table. He has probably got flowers from half the Four Heavens, Metatron thought, inwardly shaking his head, while Ariel told the secretary briefly about the flower shop and how nice flower arrangements there were.
"You look stunn-- happy," Metatron pointed out before the pause in the conversation would become awkward. Yaryel flashed them a blinding smile that left Metatron to wonder why exactly the man was working as a secretary and not as a model. Though as far as he knew, all modeling agencies in the Four Heavens and some outside of them were begging on their knees for the man to work for them.
"You mean you haven't heard yet? Uriel regained his consciousness yesterday."
"Ariel, love, do you mind if I go to visit Uriel before we leave?" Metatron asked as soon as they were alone in the corridor again. He had missed most of the discussion after the surprising news regarding Uriel.
The moment he had dreaded for a long time was coming closer and closer. The heavy feeling in his chest told him clear enough that he couldn't postpone it much longer. It was entirely possible that the next time Uriel wouldn't want to wake up.
"No, not at all. I would have suggested it myself, had I only known that he was back among the living and healthy." Ariel paused for a breath and then asked, "Do you want me to come with you?"
Metatron cringed inwardly knowing that his wife had noticed his reluctance to let her come along. "You don't need to. You knew Yaryel better than Uriel anyway, so it was more logical that you visited him. I'll tell Uriel that you said hello?"
"Please do. I'll have a blueberry pie waiting for you if you go grocery shopping on your way home," Ariel promised, cocking her head. Metatron winced inwardly. Soon after meeting Ariel for the first time, he had realized that 'blueberry pie' was a code name for a third degree. He knew that avoiding it was futile, but it didn't worry him much. He had eyes nobody could see through and a heart that was always hedged by a wall made of shining scales and mirrors. There were some perquisites of being a powerful dragon after all.
They shared a brief hug and a kiss before Ariel pinched his cheek playfully and went on her way. Metatron rubbed his cheek, knowing that there would be a red mark for a short while. Amused, he shook his head so that his veil rustled and walked along the corridor until he found a nurse and could ask where Uriel was kept now that he was conscious. Hardly they would have let him leave yet.
He got his directions, found an elevator and was soon two floors higher up. The corridors looked still precisely the same, although the color of the paint on the walls seemed to change on every floor. Maybe to make it easier for the staff to remember on which floor they were currently.
Knocking on the door and opening it when no suggestion to go away came, Metatron got the first glimpse of Uriel he had had since the angel had fainted in his office room.
The angel looked like he always did, on a first glance anyway. When looking more carefully, one could see something deep and powerful lurking in his eyes and killing their shine. He was wearing the baggy light blue clothes of the hospital and Metatron had to admit that light blue definitely wasn't Uriel's color. It made him look sickly pale and a little nauseous.
The man was staring at him with those eyes that seemed always so intensive despite what they were looking at. Had Metatron not been an age-old dragon, he probably would have avoided instinctively that gaze, but he had enough experience to know when not to back down from a fight.
"I heard from Yaryel that you were in the midst of the living again," he said, looking carefully to see Uriel's reaction. The man smiled briefly.
"Is he doing better now that I have been ordered to come back for him?"
"Yes, seemingly so. He was drawing when I went to visit him with my wife and he looked happy."
"Really? And where did you misplace your dear wife on the way here? I would have liked to meet her."
That was a lie if Metatron had ever heard one. He had known for a long time that the man hated Ariel's guts and would merrily cut her to pieces and feed them to piranhas if they ever were left alone in the same room. He had always made sure to stand near Ariel whenever she came to pick him up from work.
"I asked her to go home in advance and not bore herself with visiting more coworkers of her husband's," Metatron replied almost truthfully.
"I was told she was the one to literally summon a healer for me," Uriel changed the subject. "And apparently she destroyed her coffee on it, too. Don't you think I owe her a new cup for that one?"
"No, please don't burden yourself with things like that when you are still recovering. Ariel isn't so petty as to hold onto something like that. She would have done even more to save your life," Metatron assured, feeling deep satisfaction at seeing an angry spark light up in those ink blue eyes that could have made a whole army to search for cover with that glare.
"I'm sure she would," Uriel responded finally. "Please tell her how I... admire her for it."
Metatron nodded promising to pass the information. They lapsed into silence.
Metatron inwardly fought with himself. It could either end up in him killing Uriel or lifting one weight off his heart. He decided to trust Adelhe, the god of luck, and take the risk.
"Uriel," he started, "Do you hate my son, too?"
The man in front of him was quiet, obviously pondering the question. "No, just your wife."
"Wouldn't it make more sense if you hated him, since he is a half-breed?" Metatron inquired, secretly relieved to know that his poor son didn't have one of the most powerful citizens of the Four Heavens as his enemy even before he knew how to walk.
Uriel bursted into a quiet laughter. There was an unexpected note in it, which left a bad feeling in Metatron's mouth. It was bothering him more than he cared to admit.
"Have you thought all this time that I hate your wife for marrying a foreigner?" Uriel inquired while the echoes of his laughter were still on his lips.
"Then why do you hate her so much? As far as I know she hadn't done anything to you," Metatron pointed out rationally. He had really tried to pry the possible reasons for Uriel's hatred without Ariel noticing. She hadn't seemed to know any reason and he hadn't wanted to worry her, for having Uriel's wrath directed at you certainly wasn't a small matter.
"As a matter of fact she has. Do you want to know what?" Uriel asked, somewhat tauntingly. Metatron admitted of wanting to get the answer, wondering if he was doing the right thing. Those who said that ignorance was a bliss knew what they were talking about, he had learned the hard way long time ago.
Uriel's eyes seemed to grow darker. "Then let me tell you..."
Metatron walked closer on Uriel's beckoning. Ready to take his dragon form and attack in case the man intended to harm him, he leaned forward, closer to Uriel and waited for the man to talk. The angel took his chin gently and pressed his mouth closer to his ear.
To Metatron's surprise he felt a soft, whispering kiss on his earlobe.
A deep chuckle later, Uriel had leaned back against the wall and there was ruefulness in the set of his lips. Metatron shook his head, having nothing to say, and quietly left, closing the door behind himself.