"I'm sorry, Caroline. I must come across as such a jerk when I get completely entranced by Maximillian," the blonde moaned apologetically. "And to answer your question, I've been trying to stop since I realized I lacked the nerves to tell him how I feel."
"I forgave you for that years ago, Angel," Caroline said as she laid an arm around Angelus's shoulders. "Besides, part of me wishes that Max would take notice on his own that all of the support he thinks he's getting from me, is actually all you. I would have likely disavowed myself as his sister once his wings turned fully black if you hadn't convinced me not to. But then there is the part of me that hopes you'll finally look at the next best thing." Angelus smiled weakly at the last part and turned his sad blue eyes to her.
"It'd have likely given up ages ago, Caroline, if I could see any female as you wish I would see you. But no matter how I try, I can only see you as my best and closest friend and all other female angels like sisters," Angelus replied, leaning into her shoulder as his wings drooped even further. "How I wish my heart would love anyone other than him." In the midst of lamenting, neither Angelus nor Caroline noticed the brunette who had walked up behind them to catch the tail end of their conversation.
"Angelus, what guy out there are you saying can even begin to compare to my beautiful sister?" Maximillian asked. Angelus and Caroline both whirled around to face the angel who had previously been the topic of their conversation. Horrified and feeling like he'd been set up for this accidental confession, Angelus was quick to get to his feet and flee the situation, even as a furious blush rose to his cheeks.
"Blasted!" Caroline exclaimed as she watched the quickly retreating back of her best friend. "Now he's going to think I set him up for that." She sighed and turned fully to face her brother once more.
"Why in heaven would Angelus think you set him up?" Maximillian asked, honestly at a loss for why the young blonde angel was so flustered by his earlier question.
"Are you really that dense, Max?" Caroline asked, finally having lost all of her patience with the situation, or rather the lack thereof, between her brother and her friend. Maximillian just stared blankly at her in his confusion and an exasperated sigh escaped from her. "Maximillian, you've been so busy bouncing from one chick's bed to the next that you haven't even noticed that there has been an angel so in love with you that no other angel even enters his field of vision!"
"Wait, wait, wait, Caroline," Maximillian said raising his hands to slow his sister's ranting down some. "What idiot would harbor such strong feelings for me and yet forever keep those feelings to themself?"
"That idiot," she replied, pointing in the direction that Angelus had run off to. Surprise dropped Maximillian's jaw open as he stared at his agitated sister as his brain simultaneously tried to process the information she had delivered to him.
"Angelus?" he asked slowly. Caroline nodded. "Angelus loves me?" Again she nodded as he continued to speak with a voice full of disbelief. It took a long moment before the weight of the previous conversations -both overheard and part of- actually fully sunk in. The moment it did, though, it appeared that every lightbulb in his brain suddenly turned on all at once inside his head. "Oh, God! Then I? Oh, God! I did... Oh, God! I should-"
"Go and find him," Caroline finished for the now flustered black winged angel. "Angel is probably at home, cursing as he drowns in a bottle of red wine, while he soaks his sorrows away in a hot bath. You should go and either reject his feelings clearly or embrace them completely," she said pushing Maximillian in the direction of Angelus's house.
So he went to the angel who apparently loved him, practically running even though he had no idea what he would say when he saw him. He didn't think that his would lie to him, but neither did he fully believe in the depth of the blonde's feelings for him. No one truly loved black winged angels like him. The black feathers were a sign of disgrace and most were outcasted and ostracized. Still, he found himself standing in front of the angel's house, raising his hand to knock on the pure angel's front door.
"Maximillian?" Angelus asked in a mix of surprise and leftover embarrassment from earlier as he opened the door.
"Caroline said that you love me. Is it true?" Shock now took over all other expressions on the smaller angel's face for a long moment as he stared at the brunette on his doorstep. Finally, as the shock melted into nervousness and renewed embarrassment, Angelus nodded his head slowly. In the next moment, Maximillian had moved into the house, sliding his arms around Angelus and kicking the door closed behind him.
"Maxi-" Angelus started to question in his surprise and confusion, but was cut off as Maximillian's lips crashed down on his.
"Just Max is fine, Angel. Just Max," he said before pressing his lips back against the blonde's in a more passionate and hungry kiss.
After a moment of hesitation, Angelus returned the kiss with double the passion. Both angels were quickly swept away by the surge of emotions that washed over them like a tidal wave. Neither of them took the time to consider where things were going, only pausing long enough to catch their breaths. Not a thought of what would happen later crossed either of their minds, even as they became a tangled mess of flesh, wings and feathers atop of Angelus's bed.
Several hours later, Angelus had fallen asleep in Maximillian's arms, completely spent, exhausted and utterly euphoric. Maximillian watched as the blonde slept peacefully, while a multitude of thoughts swam through his head. He had no doubts left of the extent of Angelus's feelings for him. Instead, he was surprised by how he felt about him. He had earned his black feathered wings by having sex with any angel who was willing and that was the root of his problems.
Sex had always been that carnal act of pleasure for him, as well as whatever angel had been his partner. As if in testament to this fact, his partner's feathers, if previously white, would have begun to turn black by the morning. Never before had he seem a reaction quite like Angelus's. Ever since the blonde had returned the second kiss, his wings had seemed to become whiter. Even now, as he slept contentedly by Maximillian's side, his wings were seemingly luminescent in their pearly white purity.
As much as Angelus's pure reaction to their love making intrigued him, his own reaction left him baffled. Sex, typically a carnal act, had led to his feathers turning black because only his body and mind were ever stimulated by the act. Never had he become so enraptured in it that he'd lost all sense of himself, his heart and soul being overtaken by the passion, as well. He had been unaware that he harboured any feelings of that sort for Angelus or better yet, maybe it was just Angelus's feelings were simply that strong.
All that Max could think about then was seperating himself from such an overload of emotion. Maybe then he could think more clearly and get a better grasp on what had happened. So carefully, he slipped out of the bed, redressed, and stole away into the darkest hour before dawn. He hoped that Angelus wouldn't come looking for him, but knowing that he would, he struggled for words to offer the other angel when the time would come.
When Angelus woke the next morning to find himself alone in his bed, he felt a tightness grab hold of his heart. As he cleaned up in the shower, he kept trying to convince himself that he was worried about nothing and that Maximillian had left for a different reason. Any reason would work for him as long as it wasn't the one his heart was fearing - that Maximillian had merely used him as he had so many other angels. The nagging worry haunted him all day, as he tried to avoid talking about the events of the night before with Caroline, who was all too curious to know what had happened with all of the juicy details. It wasn't until late in the afternoon that he finally spotted Maximillian, walking with a blonde female angel who's wings were almost completely blackened. Before his brain could convince him otherwise, Angelus was on his feet and moving quickly towards him.
"Max?" Angelus asked softly to mask the lump that was quickly growing in his throat as the sight before him had already confirmed what his heart had feared. The brunette leaned over to whisper something to the girl he had his arm around before he pulled Angelus to the side to speak.
"Listen, Angel, I'm sorry about last night," he started. Maximillian hated himself for what he was about to say, but he was certain he no other choice. The emotions that he had thought he'd been searching for were far scarier to him than he could have imagined. "When Caroline told me that you were in love with me, I figured it was no different than anyone else who'd said it before. I was wrong, though. Your feelings were pure and very real. I made a mistake, Angel, and it pains me to say this, but I can't return your feelings and I made a mistake in letting you believe I did."
"Oh, okay," was all Angelus could manage to say. He forced a fake smile onto his face, even as his wings drooped and tears welled in his blue eyes. Maximillian's own chest tightened as he saw the last of the luster left over from the previous night of passion disappear completely from Angelus's beautiful wings. He knew right at that moment, that the words he had just spoken had been the biggest mistake he'd ever made. However, before he could listen to his heart and correct it, Angelus was gone.
The next few weeks passed by slowly for Angelus as he struggled pathetically to mend his own broken heart. After a few days, he had stopped letting Caroline in, not wishing to hear her talk negatively about her brother. She blamed Maximillian for everything, but he couldn't see it that way. As far as he was concerned, he had been the one to make the mistake in assuming that Maximillian shared his feelings when he iniated the second kiss.
Unfortunately, Angelus wasn't succeeding in getting over his depression and was in fact getting worse. White feathered angels were pure of heart, mind and soul, and never did anything simply for the pleasure of it. Black feathered angels were not so pure and often indulged in things simply to derive some pleasure from them. Neither were immune to having their feathers turn grey and begin to fall out as a symptom of becoming broken. Being broken was the only disease within the angelic realm and was caused by an angel having either their mind, heart, faith or soul broken. Often it would take months for an angel to become so broken they lost their wings completely, but Angelus's heart wasn't the only thing that broke. His spirit was broken as was his faith in love.
For Maximillian, the time passed quickly, even though he'd not looked at another angel in a lustful way sicne he'd broken Angelus's heart. He did, however, finally begin to notice that his wings were turning from black to white the more he thought about how to mend things with the blonde. The changing of his feathers told him what he'd thought from the beginning, but had been far too afraid to admit to himself. He truly did love Angelus, from the depth of his soul.
"Damn you, Max!" Caroline yelled, removing her brother from his thoughts. He stared at her, confused by this outburst even though she'd been cursing him since Angelus had holed himself up inside his house and refused all visitors.
"Caroline? Have I done something else to you?" he asked as the teards began to slip down her cheeks.
"You broke him! You broke Angel!" she screamed, pounding her small fists against his chest.
"I know. I broke his heart, but I am trying to figure out how to fix it," he replied, once more confused by this outburst. It'd been nearly a month already so the overload of emotion was quite out of place as far as he knew.
"No, you BROKE him! He's become a broken angel! Do you have any idea what happens to broken angels?" she sobbed, still lightly pounding at his chest as he body heaved.
"Their feathers turn grey and begin to fall out. Eventually, if they aren't helped, their wings will fall off and they'll plummet back to earth," Maximillian replied as if he was reading it from a textbook. "It usually takes several months before the wings fall off, so let's go see Angel now. We'll fix him before things can get any worse." Despite his calm words and tone, a sinking feeling was beginning to knot in his stomach. He really wanted to see Angelus very badly now, to put his worried at ease.
"It's too late, Max," Caroline whispered, finally ceasing her use of her brother as a punching bag. "When it takes a long time for an angel to lose its wings, its only a bit broken. Like losing a piece of a toy, it slowly becomes less and less used before being tossed aside. But Angel wasn't just heart broken. Bother his spirit and faith were broken, too." She took a deep shuddering breath as she wiped at the tears that wouldn't stop falling. "Angel's wings fell off a week ago. He's been in the mortal world for the last seven days."
"No, no, no! That can't be!" Maximillian exclaimed, his brain suddenly hitting the panic button. "He won't be there forever, though, right? He can earn his wings back and come home, right?"
"How many broken angels do you know of that came back?" she asked, her voice low and darkly serious. Maximillian simply shook his head, having no idea at all as broken angels weren't something he cared to dwell on before. "Six. In the eternity that there has been heaven and earth, only six previously broken angels have earned their wings and come back. Do you know why so few have ever managed that feat?" Again, Maximillian only shook his head. "Because, while a broken angel may never age, they are still mortal. So they can di as easily as any human. Add to it that they are still broken and have a mountain of good deeds they have to do to earn back their wings.
"A mountain to cross and no motivation to cross it. I heard that most broken angels end up committing suicide and are forced to wander the earth as a mere spirit for eternity, alone." All colour drained from Max'd face at his sister's final comments, fear tightening around his heart like a vice-grip. He was on his feet in an instant, heading towards the gateway to the mortal world.
"Halt! What reasons have you for descending to earth?" the gatekeeper asked, stepping between Maximillian and the gate.
"I've got to talk to Angelus!" he exclaimed, starting to push past the burly guard.
"Angelus? The broken angel who fell a week ago? What reason would you have to seek out a fallen one?" the guard asked, his face showing just how much he didn't really care.
"It's my fault that he's broken! I want a chance to fix things before it's too late!" Frantic, he started once again to push the annoying guard aside. Every moment he wasted here it felt like Angelus was slipping further and further away from him.
"Becoming a fallen doesn't happen overnight. If you wanted to fix things so badly, why didn't you do it before his wings fell off?" He wanted to punch the guard right then for using such a sarcastic tone.
"Because I'm an idiot!" Maximillian yelled as he threw his hands up into the air. "The fact that I am an idiot is the entire reason he ended up broken! And the truth of the matter is, if you don't let me through those gates, I myself will become broken from regretting that I wasn't honest enough with myself in time to tell him that I love him, too!"
The conviction with which Maximillian spoke caused the remaining black to disappear from his feathers in a bright flash of light. The flash momentarily stunned the guard who had never witnessed a black winged angel's feathers become white again. Maximillian shook off his surprise quickly and rushed past the gatekeeper and through the portal to the mortal world. He kept only thoughts of Angelus in his mind in hopes that it would help the portal take him where he wanted to go.
"Angel!" he cried as he suddenly appeared amongst a crowd of people waiting to cross a busy intersection. Many pairs of eyes turned in his direction, including those beautiful baby blues he hadn't been able to forget. "Angel!" he cried again as he began to make his way through the crowd to his beloved.
"Max?" Angelus stated as much as he asked. The disbelief that the brunette was there was written all over his face. His eyes, which had dulled in the past month, were suddenly lit with hope that seeing Maximillian had meant he did indeed care for him. Just a moment before Maximillian's outstretched hand reached him, Angelus found himself falling backwards into the street where traffic was still moving along at a fair clip.
"Angel!" Max screamed in terror as the blonde tumbled into the street. Many other people screamed as well when they noticed a delivery truck barreling towards the falling man. Maximillian didn't even pause to think of what to do as he jumped up out of the crowd and spread the wings that only angels and demons could see. He swooped down to scoop the fallen angel into his arms, keeping low enough to the ground now that people would still believe he was just running really fast. Gasps of surprise and raucaus applause surrounded them as Maximillian let his feet touch the ground once more.
"Max, you saved me," Angelus gasped as he tried to slow his racing heart. "Thank you, but why are you here?" Maximillian paused for a moment to think. He had been prepared for the question, but had not thought at all about the answer. Finally, he moved his hands from the angel's waist and cupped his pale face in the palms of his hands.
"Because I lied to when I said I could not return your feelings. The truth was that I was overwhelmed by yours and confused by the depth of mine. And I was simply too afraid to face either of them," Maximillian said finally. "But now that I know you ARE what I was searching for all along, I'll be damned if I let you slip through my fingers a second time."
"You know, that means you'll be on earth for a very long time," Angelus whispered softly, a warm smile sliding across his face.
"Consider me your personal guardian angel," Maximillian replied, kissing Angelus as deeply as he had a month before when he had set this chain reaction into motion.