Long story is long. It's 19 pages long, to be exact. Took me forever to edit it and type it up. Then there were mistakes so I had to edit it again. Lucky me.

Anywho, this is MxM, so if that isn't your thing, leave. Now. Some warnings include blood, language, eventual sex, although nothing too graphic there. One part of it made me cry when I wrote it, because I got attached to my little Angel.


The rain poured down, thick and heavy and cold and wet, drops falling and slapping his face as he ran through the quiet streets. Lit only by the pale predawn light, the shadows around him all seemed dark and endless.

The air itself was still and silent, broken solely by the pounding of his feet on the stone, splashing through puddles, along with his panting breaths as his lungs fought for oxygen. He was already soaked through, and he wasn't even out for a long time, only a mere twenty minutes.

At one point, he stuttered to a stop, blinking in confusion. Before him stood a man, covered in a thick black cloak, its head upturned towards the sky, eyes obstructed by thick coffee bangs. It was stock still, silent and slightly daunting. It's pale skin seemed to glow in the half light, white and pasty and flawless, wet with rain.

He swallowed, staring at the figure, blinking as rain fell into his eyes. Bringing his hand up to wipe away the water, he saw the figure turn at the movement, leveling him with a single blank look. The eyes were bright green behind darkened brown hair, intense and calculating. He blinked again, wiping his eyes to get a clearer view of the other, but when he looked again, the figure was gone. Disappeared into the predawn silence.

He stood still for a long moment, staring at the spot where the figure had been, breathing ragged. Shaking his head, spraying water everywhere in the process, he resumed his pace, determined to get away. At least for now.

Then colours of the sky gradually shifted, changing from the cold blue of predawn, to the warmer tones of a clear morning sunrise in the horizon, all pretty in oranges and yellows and pinks. If he wasn't so busy running, he would have stopped to admire the way the light fell across the shadows, making them seem less endless and dark and unforgiving.

But he couldn't. No matter how much his lungs burned, or his legs strained and quivered, or his muscles screamed out or his joints protested, he had to keep going. Keep moving forward. Onward, one painful step at a time. Sweat was beginning to form on his brow, beneath the thick tangle of sandy hair, creeping down his face, mixing with the rain.

He barely noticed it when the stone beneath his feet changed to dirt and gravel with small smatterings of grass here and there, and the looming buildings were replaced with quaint little farm houses and rolling fields. He didn't care though; he just wanted to keep moving forward.

Eventually he managed to trip over his own feet, falling to the ground with a yelp, the sound shattering the delicate stillness that had washed over the world. Scrambling to his hands and knees, he panted hard, gasping for breath, thighs quivering, and a stitch in his side burning with every breath that he managed to drag into his lungs.

As soon as he could breathe normally once again, he sat, sore legs folded under him, rain continuing to fall around him, and looked around. He was already past most of the housing, so there was nothing but grassy fields and trees around him. Looking harder, up to the crest of a small hill he could see a shack, small and weathered and seemingly abandoned.

With a grunt he heaved himself up, stumbling as his knees buckled beneath the strain, legs shaking beneath the weight of him. Slowly he walked towards the building, and after seemingly forever, stood before the rotted wood of the door. Hand on the old brass handle, he sighed, opening the door with such a loud creak that he vaguely wondered if he could just rip the thing right of its hinges.

Stepping inside, into the cold, musty dryness, the first thing he noticed was that the place was definitely not abandoned. Sitting in the corner, legs drawn to his chest, was a man barely any older than him, staring up through the broken window. He noticed after a moment's pause that this was the same figure that he saw out in the rain earlier.

"S-sorry. I didn't know that someone lived here." His voice was unnatural in such a setting, foreign and unfitting. It made him cringe, like it was unpleasant, something akin to fingernails raking down a chalkboard.

The figure didn't move, just kept on looking out the window, silent but no longer daunting. Huddled against the rotting wood, he seemed small and frail, breakable and vulnerable. Awkwardly, unsure of what he was supposed to do, he sat down beside the figure, waving a hand before its face.

"It's raining." The figure's voice was distant, monochrome and it sent shivers racing down his spine as he retracted his hand quickly. The smaller male didn't turn to face him, just sat and stared out the window. "It's hurting. The sky is hurting."

"Y-yeah … Sure." He said, and then they lapsed into a strained silence that roared around them. After a long moment, he asked quietly, hesitantly, "Do you have a name?"

The question hung in the air between them, straining the quiet even more, making it stretch, endless and unbreakable until it was shattered beneath the weight of the next words that left the figure's mouth. "I don't know. I can't remember."

"Well, my name's James. Did you lose your parents, little boy?" because he looked so small, and so lost and so vulnerable that it just slipped out. For the second time, he was leveled with blank jade eyes.

"Parents?" he asked, head tilting ever so slightly to the side. "What are those?"

"You know … a mom and dad? People who take care of you. They love you and you love them. Everyone has them." James said, running a hand through his water-darkened hair.

The smaller male shook his head. "No, I don't have any of those." His voice lost the curious lilt it had briefly possessed and instead sank right back to monotone. Turning his head back to look out the window, he said again, "The sky is hurting,"

"How old are you?" James asked, unnerved by the silence, ignoring what the boy said blatantly in his haste to break it.

"I don't know." The boy said again. His white, bony hand trailed over his calf, over the scars and the dried mud and something red and something white that was a little too high on his thin thigh and why was that cloak riding so far up his leg?

The cloak fell away to pool on the floor, revealing nothing underneath. James stared at him, cheeks dying a faint pink as he looked at the young boy's (man's?) body, covered in the scars and blood and dirt and mud and yet so pale and shining and still damp with rain.

Bruises coloured him beautifully, almost artistically, in the spaces between his ribs, visible from beneath his flesh, and in the jut of his hips. Two white, white wings came out from his shoulder blades, but they weren't white anymore. They were stained in red and black and brown.

"You're an Angel?" James asked, stupidly, because of course he was, because he had wings and they were beautiful and sinister and delicate and strong all at once.

"I … don't really know." Silence materialized around them once more and there was nothing but James' breathing and the rain tapping against the window. No sound came from the angel that sat beside him. Even when he moved, it was soundless, and graceful and practically liquid.

"It hurts," the Angel whispered, changing the subject. He wrapped his arms around his knees, laying his cheek on them, still staring up at the sky, where the rain kept falling. "I don't want it to hurt anymore. Am I hurting because the sky is hurting?"

"Where are you hurting? How can you be hurting if you're an Angel?" his hand hesitantly touched the boy's upper arm, feeling the muscles spasm beneath the fleeting touch, moving away from him. His skin was so cold and smooth, but so frozen that it was a wonder how he hadn't just turned into ice yet.

"Here. It hurts here," he whispered, and a small hint of pain leaked into his toneless voice as his bony hands wrapped around James' leading it to press against his chest. James gasped when his palm made contact with the frozen, almost perfect flesh. Right over where his heart should be.

But there was nothing there. Nothing was beating. He could feel nothing beyond the frozen flesh against the palm of his hand. "Your heart hurts?"

"Heart?" the pain was still there, colouring the lilt of his voice as curiosity shaded the tenor of it softly. "I had one of those once. When I was still alive."

"You don't have one now?" It seemed absurd, to James, that someone could lose their heart, even if they were dead.

The Angel shook his head, grinning a grin that wasn't happy or bright or even just sad, but instead so broken and accepting and self-depreciating and full of something akin to defeat. "Someone took it."

"Someone … took it?" he echoed, unbelieving, eyebrow rising.

The boy shrugged, turning to the window once again. "I'm your guardian angel," he said finally after a pause. "Does that seem right? I was sent here to … to protect you and to make sure you aren't lonely, because I couldn't protect myself …" he trailed away, voice lost in the pounding of the rain.

"I … I guess." He didn't know what to say. Because what do you say to the bo—Angel that claimed he was your guardian angel and couldn't remember a thing about himself? "Look, I have to leave now, okay? Will you be alright here?"

The angel didn't answer, he just stared. When James stood up, the angel followed, soundless and graceful on lanky legs, wrapping the cloak back around himself. James didn't notice anything until he was out the door and the boy spoke from behind him.

"It stopped raining," he spoke quietly, "Did the sky stop hurting?" his face was fixed on the spot where a small ray of sunlight peaked through the gray, falling to the warmth-starved ground. "But I'm still hurting. Why am I hurting? I don't want to hurt anymore."

"Hm? Y-yeah, the sky isn't hurting anymore." James kept walking, and the boy walked beside him, head turned towards the ground, russet hair creating a curtain around his face. They walked in tense silence as they entered the city once more. People were only now warily reemerging from their shelters, now that the rain stopped, and the streets were quickly filling up and crowding.

James quickened his pace, desperate to reach home before it got too crowded to move. The boy was still beside him, head still down turned, weaving left and right to avoid crashing into the people that couldn't see him.

When they finally reached the small house, James leaned against the wall momentarily, sighing and disappearing down the hall, leaving the Angel to stand in the middle of the living room, looking out of place and awkward.

"Here. I brought clothes for you to put on. But it's just a shirt because none of my pants can really fit you, so make due with this." James said as he reemerged several minutes later, out of his dripping jeans and t-shirt and in dry sweatpants and a sweater.

The boy took the garment wordlessly, tugging off the cloak and slipping on the shirt, large enough to reach past his thighs and almost to his knees. Taking a knife, James quickly cut the back of the shirt to let the boy's stained, wet and crumpled wings out.

"Why did you follow me?" he asked as he put away the knife and ushered the boy to sit on the armchair, where he sat with his legs pulled to his chest, looking small and vulnerable and lost and confused once more.

"I'm your guardian angel." The boy stated dully, standing up and moving to sit on the floor by the window, looking up at the clearing, midday sky. "I wonder … I want to know what's up there …" he said, folding his legs under himself and clasping his hands in his lap, looking up, staring at the sky.

"Don't you already know that? Because you're an angel? I mean, didn't you fall from up there?" James wondered, sitting in the armchair that the boy abandoned, brushing away the feathers that were there.

"I can't remember." The boy answered quietly, still not moving his gaze to the other male.

There was a long moment of silence, not even the rain to fill the empty space. "You need a name. It feels weird if I just call you Angel all the time," his cheeks tinted a gentle crimson at the thought, because it sounded like a pet name.

"I don't remember my name. But I'm called Fourteen." Where the shirt had slipped down his shoulder, James noticed the tattoo burned into his skin, a small Roman numeral fourteen burned into the pale flesh of his neck.

"Do you remember anything from when you were alive? Anything at all?" James got up to go and start a bath.

"I … used to paint." He said, voice slightly less toneless, a little more reminiscent. "I painted people. I didn't know them, but I painted them. They didn't like being painted by me, but I couldn't stop … I didn't want to stop."

"You painted people?" James reemerged from the bathroom, leaning against the doorframe, arching an eyebrow.

"Yes. I painted people. I painted them red." Almost as if the boy read his mind, he stood up, looked forlornly out the window once more, and walked to stand in front of the other, hands clasped loosely behind his back.

He allowed himself to be lead to the tub, allowed himself to be stripped, even as his muscles tensed and he kept trying to twitch away. He didn't protest as he was lifted and deposited in the warm water, just sat and shivered pathetically.

"I don't like water." He said as James began scrubbing his flesh from the dirt and the blood that just seemed to stain into him and refuse to disappear.

"So why were you standing in the rain, if you don't like water?" James asked, running a curious hand over the feathers at his back, watching as some fell into the water, making tiny ripples appear on the calm surface.

"I don't know. Rain is good. Water is bad." He said softly, looking at James with murky green eyes that seemed just a little bit brighter but so much emptier than before.

"But isn't rain the same as water?" James asked, genuinely curious.

"No. Rain doesn't drown. Water drowns." He cupped his hands in the water, bringing them up to watch the water slip away through the cracks between his fingers, falling back into the tub. "Water never stays. Water is mean. But rain clings to you when it falls. It stays, because rain is nice."

"Is that right?" James asked, helping the boy out of the tub, wrapping him in a towel, even though he wasn't wet. Now that the dirt was gone, he could clearly see the scars, whiter than his already pale flesh, raised and jagged.

His fingertips trailed up the boy's torso, tracing each scar and bending over to kiss a particularly large, blotchy one on impulse. He could feel the muscles tense beneath his lips, the skin warmed from the water, but still so cold.

Bony hands fisted in his hair, trying to pull his head away from his torso. "You mustn't kiss something so ugly." The boy spoke so softly, his voice sounding broken and slightly distressed, cracking somewhere in the middle.

James grinned, slipping the shirt back over the boy's head. "You're not ugly. Angels aren't ugly, they're pure, and beautiful and –" he was cut off by cold hands pressing against his mouth in desperation, his green eyes wide and distressed and scared.

James softened as soon as he saw the tears clinging to the corners of those fathomlessly empty eyes that were so wide and unblinking. His shoulders shook, and his wings shuddered against his back. "They are ugly. They will always be ugly." His voice cracked, and a tear fell down his cheek, landing on the tile with a soft plip.

James removed the Angel's hands, gathering the trembling boy in his arms, sitting on the edge of the tub, with him in his lap. No sobs or gasps or any sort of noises at all came from him, as he just sat there in James' lap as tears trailed down his face, staring unblinkingly at the wall.

"You still need a name." James said absently after several minutes of silent sobbing, "What about Jonathon?"

"I once painted a man named Jonathon …" he spoke, words muffled against James' shoulder. The tears had stopped falling and he sat quietly in the other's lap, still as cement.

"What about Matthew?" James asked, and the boy made no move to respond. He just let out an exhale of shaky breath, heavy and shuddering, nodding his head slowly, as if giving up, just not caring anymore.

"Matthew it is, then." James said, putting the boy on his feet and standing up. The sky outside was quickly darkening, and James wondered briefly where the time had flown off to, because it surely couldn't be so late now …

"It's raining again. The sky hurts again." Matthew said, sitting back on the floor, his dark hair messy and his skin shining in the dying light. His wings kept shedding feathers that gathered on the ground around him.

"How did you get so many scars, Matthew?" James asked, his finger tracing over one again, "Where did you get them from?" Matthew moved away from the hand, looking at him with deadened eyes.

A cold sort of laugh escaped his lips, dark and empty and not something that should be coming from someone that looked so sad and broken and frail but at the same time fitting him so perfectly. "I remember. I know why. But I don't want to remember." He said, eyes closing. "Why is it that when I don't want to remember something it's as clear as day, yet everything else is lost in a sea of fog?"

"I don't know Matthew. I really don't." James sighed, staring up at the ceiling. "You hurt yourself. When you were alive." he stated, persistently tracing the scars that seemed to be faded words, carved into the flesh of his arms.

James' eyes closed as the words left his lips, hoping for a laugh or denial or something that would mean that he hadn't done anything like that. He hoped for anything except the small "Yes," that he got in response. Matthew grinned that same grin that he gave James earlier, looking lost and sad and broken, closing his eyes and tilting his face towards the ceiling. "I painted people, so I painted myself, too."

"Why would you do something horrible like that?" he asked, desperation laced in his words, hands gripping the Angel's arms, uncaring of the cold, unnoticing the blood that dripped from his back to paint the floor red.

"Because. I was a fucked up human."

"Matthew, why are you losing your feathers?" James asked as he sat on the armchair. His eyes raked over the appendages at the boy's back, over the feathers stained red and coloured black.

Matthew turned to look at him, eyebrow raised. "I … I don't know," he lied, a faint tincture of pink appearing on his cheekbones, standing out magnificently against the usual pallor of his skin.

The blush seemed to distract James, since he gave a rare, large smile, and ran his thumb across the boy's heated cheeks, making them flare an even darker shade. "Hey, you can blush!"

Matthew's eyebrow disappeared further up his hairline, "I have blood. I'm an Angel, but I have blood and veins and organs so naturally when–" James cut him off with an exasperated huff and a roll of his eyes, quickly turning back to the dog-eared book that was open in his lap, leaving Matthew to turn back to the window.

"Doesn't it have you the least bit worried?" James pressed after a while, laying the book open on his knee once more, curiosity getting the best of him. "The feathers, I mean."

"I don't know." Matthew sighed, not moving from his position, legs pressed to his chest, crossed at the ankles. They lapsed into silence once more before the Angel spoke up.

"I want to go outside," he said, voice monochromatic, but James could tell that it was growing more forced with each passing day. His wings drooped idly, tips of the feathers brushing against the ground, ever so often twitching, letting loose feathers drift to the ground.

"Do you? Anywhere specific you want to go?" James asked, marking his page and putting the book away, uncrossing his legs and sitting up straighter. Matthew shook his head, heaving himself up and standing by the door, looking at the other expectantly as he grabbed his coat and shoes.

The air outside was crisp and cold, but dry. They walked in silence, Matthew pressed against James' side, wings compressed to his back, trying not to walk into anyone. "The sky is sad." Matthew whispered, tugging on the other's sleeve suddenly, stopping at the curb. "It's sad, but it can't cry."

"How is it sad, Matthew?" James asked, stopping and looking at the boy as he stood facing the sky, brow furrowed.

"It's gray. When the clouds are gray the sky is sad. When it's raining the sky is hurting and when it's clear, the sky is angry," he explained softly, stretching his arm up, as if to feel for rain drops.

"Is the sky ever happy?" James asked, a slight smile tugging at the corner of his lips, his brow furrowed with bemusement.

"I don't know." Matthew answered. "But it's sad now. It's sad, but it can't cry. Because if it cried, it would drown everything."

"But I thought rain didn't drown things. So why would everything drown if the sky cried?" James asked, leaning against the lamp post when it looked like the boy wasn't going to move any time soon.

"The sky doesn't cry rain, so everything will drown." Matthew said. His eyes were becoming more and more clouded, his voice becoming more and more monotonous, distant. "It wants to cry …"

"So what does the sky cry?" James pressed on.

"I don't know. The sky never cried before." Matthew said as a single tear traced down his cheek, looking at James with his dull green eyes that shone in the light with tears that had been left unshed for too long. "So I'll just cry for it."

"The sky is sad again." The Angel said, face turned up towards the sky as usual.

"Hm? Is it?" James said, emerging from the bedroom, tugging on a coat and shoes. "I have to go out for a bit, alright?" he asked, hand on the doorknob. Matthew shook his head in response.

"I still hurt." He mumbled. "I don't want to hurt anymore." Bony arms wrapped around his middle and the long sleeves rode up, exposing cuts and burns and bruises, fresh and recent. James had to tear his eyes away, feeling like he was about to cry.

"What hurts, Matthew?" James asked, dropping to his knees. before the Angel.

"W-wings," came the whimper, laced with pain, muffled by the fabric of James' shirt as he pulled the Angel to him. "Make it stop. I don't want to hurt anymore. Make it stop …!"

"I wish I could, Matthew." James said as the boy begged closer, and he could feel the moisture on the curve of his neck and the Angel's translucent eyelashes fluttering against his skin.

His arms tightened around the boy's waist, caringly gentle, careful of the bleeding appendages, making the hold awkward. They did look painful, bone structure visible in places through the decaying feathers, stained with crimson. "It'll be okay," he said quietly, in what he hoped was a reassuring voice.

"No, it won't." the Angel muttered back, "It won't be okay. Not until I finish painting things red." Not until I'm done destroying …

The sun made the Angel's skin glow, made him look pale and ghostly and made him look translucent. The sky itself was a bright, glaring shade of blue,

"The sky is angry." It wasn't the boy that said it surprisingly, but instead James, hands in his pockets. He smiled at Matthew, who looked at him with guarded green eyes.

"Yeah …" the boy said and continued walking, his bare feet making virtually no sound on the wet pavement. He examined a puddle for a moment as they passed by it and said, "Because it was hurting and nobody cared …"

James was silent, staring at the golden leaves that fluttered down from the tops of the trees that lined the streets.

"The smallest things have the biggest impact." Matthew murmured, watching the ripples as they traveled across the water. "They create the biggest ripples that last the longest, while bigger things only just make a momentary splash, and then disappear."

James started at the boy for a second, waiting for him to get up and follow him again. But before Matthew had the chance to, someone else approached James, the same person that always did, and started talking to him loudly, animatedly, dragging him away down the street.

Matthew stared after them, a frown creasing his usually expressionless features as he faintly heard the other man's laugh, which disappeared as he rounded the corner.

The Angel sighed and stood up, walking in the opposite direction, back towards the house. He felt a distant tugging on his wings, an invisible tug at the blood stained limbs that hung limply at his sides, he hissed in pain, turning around to look for whoever it was that had grabbed him..

But there was nobody there.

Panic filled his mind, reflected in his eyes, evident in the slight quiver of his body as his muscles tensed beneath his flesh.

Invisible fingers danced across his torso beneath the thin fabric of the borrowed shirt, pressing to the burns and cuts and the bruises that gave colour to his skin.

An involuntary cry fell from his lips as the 'hands' held his wings, extended to them out to their fullest, the bones, shuddering and creaking unnaturally.

What are you doing, Fourteen, feeling for this human? You are not supposed to feel anything for them.

Matthew fell to the ground, body folding in on itself, trying to escape the pain. But the hands were relentless, pressing, tugging, yanking, out feathers by the dozens.

Do you know why you are losing your wings, Fourteen?

"Because you want to punish me? I'm sorry, whatever it is that I did, I'm sorry!" he yelled at the voice in his head, hands fisted in his hair, tears gathering in the corners of his eyes as the fingers continued to tease his torso and back.

The voice laughed, high and cruel and mocking against the silence echoing in his head, reverberating through every crevice of his mind. No, Fourteen. It is not that. There was a pause, as the fingers withdrew, leaving Matthew panting and quivering, crying on the ground beneath him as people walked by, oblivious. When you fall in love with a human, you lose your wings.

A strangled sort of sob escaped through his lips. "No! I'm not … I'm not … I can't be falling for him …" he screamed, "You … You're lying … I-I can't … I can't …" But the voice was already gone, and there was a ringing in his ears and his head felt like it was going to split open, and he hasn't felt so much in such a long time.

He stayed there like that for several long moments, hand clasped over his mouth, trying to will the tears to stop, because he couldn't go back looking like this.

By the time he did get home, James was already there, reading on the armchair with a cup of coffee on the table beside him. "You stayed out late," he said, looking up from his book to look at Matthew as he took his usual spot by the window, trying desperately to keep his mask in place, seeming to succeed.

"Yeah," he whispered, voice hoarse and cracking, "Sorry." His head fell back against the wall, utter exhaustion taking over every joint in his body.

"You look pale. Did anything happen while you were out?" James put down his book and slid down to the floor to sit by the exhausted boy.

"I'm fine," he muttered, wincing as he was grabbed roughly by the elbow and turned around violently to look at the other, wondering briefly when he even moved to get out of the chair. He looked up with hollowed green eyes, worrying his lower lip with his teeth, hard enough to puncture and draw blood.

"You are not fine. You're pale and you're bleeding and you're shaking and you are anything but fine," he said, an edge of desperation and exasperation layering his tone, colouring the lilt. "Why won't you tell me what happened to you?"

"Because I can't. Because it isn't important," the Angel mumbled, cold, bony hands coming to rest on the bigger one on his elbow, prying it off gently and getting up, disappearing into James' bedroom, closing the door silently behind him.

If he listened really carefully, James could hear the muffled sobs and the sniffles and heaving breaths that came from his room, muffled by the wood of the door. He sighed, going back to his pages, concentrating on the book until Matthew reemerged, face stained with hastily wiped tears, but otherwise, looking perfectly normal.

He sat down on the arm of James' chair, a light blush dusting his cheeks as he twisted at the waist to face the other, holding out his arms in a silent plea to be held. James gave a soft smile and complied, letting the Angel curl against him, shivering slightly in his hold.

"Where were you?" James spoke into the mess of coffee hair tucked beneath his chin. "It's almost dark. I was getting worried about you."

"The dark isn't a scary place." Matthew said quietly, letting his eyes flutter shut as blood dribbled slowly down his back, sluggishly. "You shouldn't be afraid of it … The dark is nothing to be afraid of." He ignored the question completely.

"I'm not scared of the dark, Matthew," James said, chuckling lightly and Matthew sat up slightly to look at him with wide, deadened green eyes that had something swirling deep within their depths. Something kind of like distress, yet pleading and questioning and lost and confused.

"You shouldn't be afraid of the dark," he repeated, "You should be afraid of what lurks inside of the dark. The things that come out of the depths of the silence, cloaked in malevolence …" his voice trailed off, and he dropped his head back down in the hollow of James' throat.

"What things are those, Matthew? What things come out of the darkness that are like that?" James asked, torn between bemused and slightly frightened. But Matthew remained silent and James thought that he might have fallen asleep, but his eyes were open and staring, but they were empty and cold and pretty much dead.

Time ticked forward slowly, and they sat still, until James stood up, depositing Matthew gently on the chair, stretched and attempted to stifle a yawn. "I'm going to bed now, Mattie, I'm tired."

Matthew crinkled his nose slightly, arching an eyebrow at the other man, "Mattie?" he asked, voice dead and hoarse and raspy and fading just like he was, "That makes it sound like I'm younger than you."

James blinked, confused, "Aren't you younger than me? I only just turned twenty around two months ago," the Angel bit the inside of his cheek to stop the corners of his lips from quirking upwards in a smile.

"I'm twenty two. Almost twenty three …" he said quietly. "Angels still age, but they age slowly and their life spans are usually longer," he added at the confused look that James was giving him.

"I thought you looked younger than me. You look around sixteen right now, Mattie," he added the nickname, watching the Angel scowl with a sense of contentedness growing in his chest. "Have you always looked like that?"

"I … I can't remember," he said, looking down at his knees, face curtained by the dark strands of his hair.

"You said that you couldn't remember your age, either. Turns out that you do." James pointed out, trying his hardest not to smirk.

"It just came back to me recently. It wasn't really something I used to think about too often …" Matthew said and James just shrugged, bidding the Angel good night and disappearing to his bedroom, closing the door behind him.

It wasn't until several hours later that James was startled awake by his bedroom door creaking open. He bolted upright, blinking tatters of sleep out of his eyes, looking with a blurred gaze at the figure framed in his doorway.

"Matthew? Do you need something? It's that middle of the night …" he trailed off in a yawn, stretching his arms over his head as the Angel crawled into his bed, kneeling down between his bent legs.

"I got lonely." Matthew whispered, staring at his hands as they wrung the sheets between them nervously. "I don't like being lonely. It hurts." His gaze hardened slightly as he brought it up to meet James', "It's your fault that I'm lonely."

James gave a sleep-saturated grin, laying back down so that the Angel loomed slightly over him, wings hanging down so the tips idly brushed James' leg through the covers. "I'm sorry," James apologized with a sleepy chuckle.

"Monsters," Matthew said, still kneeling on the bed, facing the window. "Monsters are what lurk in the darkness." James made a sleepy sound of acknowledgment, not even bothering to respond.

Matthew went on, "They're inside most people. Not everyone, because there are some people who can vanquish their monsters." A deep shuddering breath, followed by some shifting, before he continued once more, "But not everyone can … Some people have to live with their monsters."

"Which one were you?" James piped up, looking at Matthew, who didn't turn to look at him. He opened his mouth to ask again, thinking the other hadn't heard him, but Matthew beat him to it.

"I don't know," he muttered, hoping James couldn't see the lies hip-hopping against the canvas of his green eyes. "I'm one of the fucked up people." Matthew almost cringed at the lack of emotion that his voice held, even with the barrage of emotions flying around his head so that he felt like he might explode, "And I was one of the people who fucked people over."

James' hand came up to trace the blotchy bruise high on his thigh where his shirt rode up, but Matthew shifted away, moving backwards on the bed, leaving enough space to remain just out of arms reach.

"Is that why your view of the world is so … bleak, Matthew?" James asked, drifting further and further into sleep with every word spoken as the Angel hummed something somewhere above him.

"I don't know," Matthew replied, looking up at the sky's moon pendant, letting its light fall on his skin, which seemed to darken in the pale light. But James didn't hear him because he was already asleep again.

Another feather fell away to join the ever growing pile on the ground, but Matthew couldn't bring himself to care. His arms were folded on the back of the armchair he had moved there earlier, face resting on the crook of his elbow.

"Rain, rain go away …" he mumbled, gaze alternating from the blue sky to the empty driveway down below.

Another feather came down to join the first.

"Rain, rain go away …" he said again, sighing dejectedly and burying his face in the fabric of the chair's back. One wing gave a shudder and fell as the other was held out because every time it moved it felt like the bones were shuddering and falling apart.

"Come again another day," he said as a tear finally managed to fall down his cheek.

Have you forgotten again, Fourteen? Or should I say, Matthew. The Angel cringed as the voice was back and the fingers were back and he wanted to scream because it hurt. But he couldn't because James was right there, sleeping next to him.

"N-no … Of course I haven't," he whispered, "I just … I need more time …" He almost screamed as the voice laughed in his head, and he had to bite the fleshy inside of his thumb to keep from doing just that.

I can't keep giving you time, Fourteen. I do hope that you realize this, and the only thing that Matthew could do was nod in response, and tremble in silent pain as there was a particularly hard, almost thoughtful tug on his wing that made him want to cry out.

"I know. Just … please. I just need more time." He was pleading, begging, because he didn't want to do what he had to do, and he was going to drag it out for as long as he could, even if he already dragged it out for two and a half months and he could tell that the owner of the voice was getting irritated.

Alright, Fourteen. You have a month. That's it. The voice disappeared and the hands disappeared, too, and it was all Matthew could do to stop from falling onto James, who hadn't woken up through all of this.

"Thank you …" he murmured, even though no one was there, brushing a sandy lock of hair softly from James' forehead.

"What were you running from?" Matthew asked from his seat on the floor. His feathers were half gone, and the bleeding kept occurring, more and more frequently.

"What?" James asked, glancing up from the textbook that was propped open in his lap. "Who was running away from what?"

"You." Matthew said, twisting around, one arm coming down to brace against the floor. "When you first saw me. You were running away from something, weren't you? Or were you running for no particular reason?"

"Oh. Then. Uh, yeah, I guess I was." James said as he turned back to his textbook, making Matthew let out an irritated puff of breath, and turn back towards the window, falling silent.

"What was it?" he asked again after several moments, "That you were running from," he clarified.

James didn't say anything for a long moment, but Matthew knew he had his attention because he could feel his gaze burning into the back of his skull. Finally, "Someone I knew died. I got the phone call early in the morning, told that he was killed as he was walking home." His breath caught momentarily in his throat, and he paused before continuing, "He was one of my oldest friends, and the last time I saw him was a couple hours before. He asked if he could get a ride, and I said that I couldn't because it wasn't my car and the owner didn't want anyone else in it."

James ran a hand over his face, suddenly looking older, worn and tired, "It was a lie. I can't even remember why I lied, but I did, and it cost him his life. I guess I just felt guilty, and was trying to escape the feeling."

"He was murdered?" Matthew asked, something dark crossing over his face, his eyes darkening with something that was too faint to be perceived. "Killed by someone else?"

"Yeah, stabbed in the throat. They never caught the guy that did it." James sighed, turning back to his textbook, signaling the end of the conversation. Not that Matthew minded, because he couldn't talk anymore past the lump that had formed in his throat.

"Do you still feel guilty?" he forced out eventually, feeling his throat constrict around the words, trying to keep them in his mouth, where they belonged and not out in the open.

"Yeah. All the time." James sighed out and leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling. His eyes fluttered shut as he heaved yet another sigh and turned back to his work while Matthew just sat and looked up at the sky that was hurting once more.

"What do you do? When you have to leave the house, I mean?" Matthew asked, out of the blue, for once not sitting by the window, but sitting with his back pressed against the doorframe, watching James get ready to leave.

"What do you mean what do I do?" he asked as he tugged a sweater over his head and slung his bag over his shoulder. "I go to school. Didn't you go to school when you were alive?"

"I don't think so," Matthew said, voice slightly bored, and slightly amused and very, very empty. He brought his empty eyes to the corner where wall met ceiling, staring at it absently.

"You don't think so?" James echoed, looking at him with an eyebrow raised as he forced a comb through his sandy hair.

"I might have, but if I did, I guess I must have dropped out at one point." His eyes fluttered shut, blocking out the image of the corner, with it's peeling, ugly beige paint and the corner of the shelf with the dead potted plants that he could see.

"Why would you do something stupid like that? Didn't your parents care?" James paused in his brushing, comb in hand, still looking at Matthew.

Matthew shrugged, "As much as they could care, I suppose. But they had five other children to deal with at the time. They tried to talk to me about it, but they'd always get interrupted by one of the others, so they eventually gave up on me as a lost cause and kicked me out as soon as I turned eighteen."

"That sucks." James said, giving him a look of such pity that if Matthew had been able to see it, he would have probably thrown up right then and there.

"I guess it does. But I brought it on myself." Tired of talking, Matthew stood up and left the room, fingers teasing the hem of the overly large shirt that covered his torso, studying the ridiculous logo on it intently once more.

He hid out on the balcony, amongst the potted plants that smelled of decay, not coming out even as he heard James call out a farewell to him as he left through the front door. He ignored him, pressing his head into his knees, hugging his legs tight enough for his joints to start aching.

Don't forget, Fourteen.

Before Matthew could react to the sharp words that were whispered softly in his ear, or the touch that trailed down his back between his wings, both were gone, and Matthew felt like a butterfly must feel when its wings were ripped for its body.

The Angel swallowed thickly and looked down at the sleeping figure of James before getting up and slipping out the door and into the cool night air.

"You're bleeding." James pointed out, staring at his back of the previously white shirt, now was stained through with crimson, watching the drops trail down Matthew's legs, dripping down to paint pretty red lines on the ground.

Matthew shrugged in disinterest. "It's fine," he muttered, more to himself. "It always bleeds. It'll stop soon enough." He glanced down to examine the trail of red, turning to walk away, but was stopped by a hand at his elbow, turning him around violently, making him smear the blood on the floor with his heel..

James was silent as he dragged the Angel to the bathroom, locking the door behind them, he picked Matthew up easily and set him down on the counter, turning away momentarily to plug the tub and turn on the water.

"Lift your arms," he said as soon as he turned back to Matthew. He tugged on the hem of the stained shirt, and Matthew immediately recoiled.

"I can … I can do it … myself," Matthew whispered, voice breaking, his arms coming to wrap around his, but James stopped him, grabbing both bony wrists in one large hand.

"I know … I know. But I just want to help. Please," James said, tugging on the hem of the shirt until Matthew lifted his arms and he was able to slip the fabric over his head, cringing minutely as his hands grazed frozen flesh.

The bruises that tinted the colourless flesh of his arms extended down his torso, between the spaces of his ribs and the dip of his hips. Some had already faded to a sickly yellow green but most were still dark and blue and purple and fresh.

James could feel the tremble of the muscles beneath his hand as it trailed down and settled on the hollow of his stomach, feel the tremor of every breath that Matthew dragged in. He sighed and withdrew his hand and lifted the Angel into the warm water, turning the tap off.

The water slowly turned pink, thickened by the blood that swirled within it, fresh and otherwise. Matthew watched it with mild interest, cupping water in his hands and watching it slip away.

"I still don't like water," he said, holding his one good wing up out of the dirty water, his other still hanging awkwardly at his side.

"So you've said," James sighed, running a rag lightly across the skin between his wings, clearing away the blood that had slowed to a mere trickle, making Matthew shudder violently.

Matthew hummed something in the back of his throat, falling silent as he looked up at the ceiling. "Why can you see me?" he asked as he was picked up and wrapped in a towel, put back on his feet, watching the red tinted water swirl down the drain.

"Huh?" James asked several seconds later, peeking around the door he had left through, presumably to find a new shirt for Matthew to wear, slipping the one he had found over Matthew's head.

"Why can you see me?" Matthew repeated, his green eyes darker, brighter, as he slowly brought his gaze around to meet the younger male's eyes. "Could it be because I was sent to you? Is that it? Or is it something else? Because no one could see me before … Or could it be that they just didn't care?" Voice softening further, he added, "Do you even care?"

Unsure if Matthew was talking to himself not, James decided to not answer right away, slowly, hesitantly wrapping his arms around the Angel, feeling him melt against his chest, burying his nose in the juncture of James' neck and shoulder. "Of course I care, Mattie." Feeling the hitch of breath and strangled almost-sob brought a sad smile to his lips as he breathed those words out.

Slowly, as if he'd be reprimanded, thin, bony arms came up to wrap around James' neck, feeling somehow warmer against him. "I … I believe you …"

"What's this?" Matthew asked, dragging behind him an old baseball bat that he found buried in James' closet, "Do you use it for killing people?" He examined it, picking it up and batting it against his hand.

James turned from the table he was cleaning and gave a short laugh. "No. You don't use it for hurting people. You use it for playing baseball. Have you never seen baseball before? It's a pretty popular sport around here."

"I've never been much of a sports person," Matthew remarked dryly, suddenly bored of the bat, turning to put it back. "They've never really interested me that much."

"Shit, really?" James laughed, grabbing the bat from Matthew and slipping into his shows, "C'mon! I'll teach you!" He gave Matthew's arm a sharp tug, making Matthew colour slightly.

"N-no. That's quite alright …" Matthew tried to decline, but James ignored him, dragging him and his weak protests out the back door and into the back yard that desperately needed tending.

The next hour or so was spent with James trying to teach him the proper way to hold a bat. It was relatively simple; one hand here, the other there, feet spread, knees bent and so on. And although Matthew got the hang of it quickly, he feigned ignorance.

He liked the way James felt, chest pressed against his back, warm hands covering his own, chin resting on his shoulder, his warm breath puffing across his neck, making shivers want to rocket up his spine.

He wanted to whine when James moved away from him, smiling and laughing and telling him to keep practicing because he had stuff he needed to finish. Matthew just sat on the ground, cross legged, glaring at the bat venomously, as if it was all its fault that Matthew found himself in this ridiculous situation.

You mustn't feel anything for him, Fourteen … You mustn't fall for him.

No touches. No lingering caresses to the hurting flesh of his wings. No ripping out of feathers or the jostling of the appendages that were slowly but surely falling apart.

"I know," Matthew said out loud even though no one was there anymore except James. His words drew James' gaze to him, but turning away and leaving as soon as it met his.

"Do you want something to eat?" James asked, sitting in one of those uncomfortable plastic booths, munching on something that didn't look at all edible to Matthew.

"What's the point of eating?" he deadpanned, "I'm dead." James seemed to cringe at the blank quality of his voice, which Matthew thought he really should have gotten used to by now.

"Oh … Yeah." He chuckled sheepishly, and took another bite, chewing slowly to fight the awkwardness that rose between them as Matthew looked around with vague irritation reflected in his eyes.

"Besides, even if food didn't taste like cardboard to me, I wouldn't eat such … crap." He eyed the burger that James was holding with disgust and repulsion. James just nodded, thinking it better if he didn't talk anymore.

Silence lapsed between them, thick and unending.

"What did you do? When you were alive?" James' head was lying in Matthew's lap, Matthew's elbow resting on his forehead, leaning his head on it, because he doesn't like it when people lie on him like that.

"I painted people," was all he said, because they've been over this before, and he didn't want to explain the details of his life to someone like James of all people.

"Yeah, I got that part. I meant what you did for a living. Because you said that they didn't like being painted by you, so I assumed you didn't get paid for doing that." James explained, stretching his arms over his head and arching his back, driving his head deeper into Matthew's lap.

"Nothing special," Matthew explained. "Well, actually, nothing makes more sense, because I never really had a proper job. I just crashed over at an … acquaintance's house whenever I needed to."

"So you never had a job?" James wondered, settling back down and shifting into a more comfortable position, eyes seeking out Matthew's, which were trained somewhere to the right of them, staring at the carpet imploringly.

"I had odd jobs here and there," he hesitated before adding, "None really could be considered moral."

James didn't press him for more, and he was thankful for that because it isn't something that should be recounted to anyone. He jerks back to reality as James slowly rolls his sleeves up, so he can trace the faded white words on the pale flesh, and for some reason, Matthew doesn't protest.

"What are you doing?" he asks when James' lips press against the 'm' and moving up to the 'o' and the 'n' and the 's' and he makes it to the 't' before Matthew rips his arm away, because it hurts, "I told you, you mustn't kiss something so ugly."

James just gives him a sad, lingering smile, grabbing the arm again and touching his lips to the rest of the letters and Matthew has to look away, because he suddenly wants to cry.

"Red is a pretty colour." Matthew watches the red that trails down his legs, leaving trails on the floor. "Red is a very pretty colour."

James gave him an odd look, "I always thought you were the type to like black, or something like that," he admitted, eyebrow slightly raised.

"No. Black is boring. Black and white are simple. Red, blue and yellow are pretty. Green, purple and orange are complex. All the rest are irritating." Matthew said, listing them off on his fingers.

"I see." James said, turning back to whatever he was doing.

"It feels odd … being painted red …" Matthew said, looking up at the sky that wasn't hurting and wasn't sad and wasn't angry, but was somewhere in between, with gentle wisps of fog that hung heavily and coldly over everything, the sun feebly shining through, but no light reaching the earth.

Two weeks left, Fourteen.

"I'm aware of that," the whisper sliced the silence of the night, hanging in the darkened air high above him, out of his reach. He looked cautiously down at James, who rolled over in his sleep.

I dearly hope that you won't disappoint me, Fourteen, because you are the first promising one that I've received in quite a while, you know.

"I know," he sighed, pressing his knees to his chest, giving his wings a gentle flap to get rid of the loosened feathers that clung on for dear, dear life, ignoring the pain that shot up his back. "I can't make guarantees, though."

Or are you planning on failing me, Fourteen? Are you trying to draw this out for as long as you can, so that he won't have to die by your hands?

"Of course I'm not!" it came out too defensive, and his eyes widened as he heard the voice smirk, "W-why would I do something like that?"

Because you are a fool, Fourteen. A fool who can't keep his emotions in check, now that he's dead. Funny how that works sometimes, no? Some of us just … fall apart when we die.

"It hurts again." Matthew tugs on James' sleeve. His mind was racing, because there were only three more days until he had to leave, and he had no idea how he's going to manage leaving after all this.

"Oh, Matthew, again?" James turned from his work, pulling the Angel to him, and Matthew leaned against him, because it's comforting and familiar, and it feels like home. And James just holds him, and he let himself be held until the pain dulled to a throb and James is asleep against his shoulder.

Tomorrow it would be one month.

Matthew was curled on the chair that was pretty much soaked with his blood, trying to get the tears to stop falling. James hadn't come home yet, which he supposed is just as well, because if he came home late, he'll sleep late so Matthew could slip away before he notices that he's gone, and he'll never have to see him again.

He choked slightly on his breath when the thought makes his chest tighten, fingers clawing into the arm of the chair where his head rested.

He was just about to give up and go to bed when the door slammed open, revealing James, bag slung over his shoulder, looked thoroughly exhausted, but happy. "Passed my exam," he cheered, walking in and collapsing on the couch across from where Matthew sat, watching him guardedly.

His feathers were practically all gone, exposing flesh and muscle and bones and they looked painful and decayed and useless, and he's destined to Fall, because no one needs an Angel without wings, and the thought of what's to come scared him so much that his head spun and his breath caught every time he thought about it, made him want to—

"Hey, Matthew, you okay?" James' voice barely cuts through the static noise in his head, barely pulled him back to reality, because he can barely hear it, and he doesn't want to hear it, and all he can do is shake his head.

And then James is getting up, sitting on the arm of the chair, pulling Matthew up to sit in his lap, thumbing away the tears that he hadn't realized were falling. He shook his head, laying it on James' shoulder, unable to give voice the feeling welling inside his chest, cutting off his breath and making speaking an impossibility.

"Hey now, don't cry, Matthew." James whispered in his ear, "Please don't cry," he spoke against the dark hairs, pressed his nose into them and rubbing his fingers into the quivering muscles of Matthew's lower back, because they're tense and he needs to relax.

"Please … James, please, I …" he choked on air, grabbing the collar of his unbuttoned shirt and pulled him down, meeting their lips with such desperation that he almost fell against him.

And then he panics, because this is wrong and he's leaving tomorrow, and James probably doesn't like him, and he'll never see him again, so he tries to pull away. But then James is responding, encircling his waist and devouring him, holding him to his chest tightly, and he's moaning and tears are falling.

"Please …" he said again between needy, desperate kisses, and James' hands crawled up his shirt, marveling at the texture of his beaten and abused skin because he's warm, and his shirt is shed, and then it's a blur, because he's never felt so much, not even when he was alive. Never when he was alive, because when he was alive it was usually a quickie, bent over any available surface or against the wall or against the door or on the floor, the couch, the car, the counter … but it never felt like this.

Clothes were shed quickly, because they're in the way, and just before they lose all semblance of control, James lifted him, carrying him to bed. And then it's fingers, stretching him, and he hits something and the world flashed white, and James is grinning, and saying something, but he can't hear it.

The heat wrapped around them, and James was against him, entering him, and he couldn't help but cry out, but it was muffled by James' mouth. "Hush, please, I know it hurts. Just … look at me, only at me. You know I'll never hurt you." He obeyed, looking at James' lust darkened eyes, and he had to look away, because it's too much.

He clung to James as they moved together in a forceful rhythm, and James was everywhere, and he could hear nothing beyond the bed, creaking so loud it might break, and their gasps and moans and the world was silent outside of the house, because no one else existed, and words that he didn't want to say, but meant so sincerely slipped from his lips, but he doesn't know if he was heard, because he can barely hear himself.

Matthew cried out, arching like a bow, and then it's warm, wet stomach on warm, wet stomach, and James mouthing endearments and love against his throat before he fell asleep, because there's nothing left to do, and Matthew was crying because it wasn't like he can sleep, too.

"Matthew?" James yawned, stretched and looked over to an empty bed. The window showed the sunrise, pretty and flaming and golden, but he ignored it as he snuck out of bed, pulling on his pants and following the trail of blood and bloodied feathers and blood streaks on the wall out to the balcony.

"Matthew?" he called again as soon as he found him, leaning against the railing, looking over at the rising sun. His skin looked cold in this lighting, and when he reached out to touch it, and Matthew let him, he jumped back because it was freezing, more than ever. His shirt was tossed on the railing, dripping blood idly on his cloak which was strewn on the ground.

He was bleeding more than ever, because his wings were missing, gone, completely. The blood was trickling sluggishly down his back, down his sides, between his legs, meandering down his thighs and calf to pool on the ground.

"I lied to you …" Matthew said, and his voice rough and scratchy. He turned back to the balcony, watching the sun peek out from behind the horizon. "I'm not your guardian angel. I'm no angel, really."

"What are you talking about, Matthew?" James stands beside him, reaching out to touch him again, but Matthew moves away, refusing to look at him. "What else could you be?"

"A monster," he answers simply, but his voice is thick and raw, like he doesn't want to admit, and he wants to cry, but he can't because he's out of tears. "I'm a monster."

"Y-you … You're not a monster, Mattie!" James sounds fierce, and sure of himself, yet at the same time lost and confused and unsure of everything, because he doesn't know if this is a trick, or what he should believe. "You're not."

"I am," Matthew insists. "When I was alive, I used to kill. Not because I wanted to, not because I was forced to, but because I needed to, because I could." He let out a sigh and its shattered and defeated, like he is, "I killed strangers, painted them red. Red with blood. They never caught me, because I was never involved with those people. I just killed them."

"Mattie …" James looked at him, eyes swimming in confusion and denial and disbelief. He looked like he wanted to shove his fingers in his ears, and dance away, yelling 'la la la la' at the top of his voice. Then his gaze hardened and Matthew swallowed past the lump in his throat. "If this is a joke, it isn't funny! If this is a joke, please, stop it …"

And suddenly Matthew wants to cry again, but he can't, because monsters shouldn't be allowed that sort of comfort, "This isn't a joke. I was sent here, by who isn't important, but they told me that I had to kill you, and take your heart."

"Me? Why me?" James asked, panic flitting over his face, "What have I done? What importance do I possibly hold?"

Matthew shrugged, "None, really. I was just told to start with you, then move from target to target, collecting hearts and causing chaos and confusion," he paused, sighed and picked up his cloak, "But I didn't want to, because you were nice to me, accepted me, and I couldn't bring myself to hurt you, because I …"

"You loved me." James deadpanned, but his voice full of bite, his jaw set and his eyes were closed. "Or did you lie to me about that, too?"

Matthew smiled sadly, wistfully, and touched James' arm gently, only to have him wrench away from him, looking away even though his eyes were closed. "No, I didn't lie about that. I couldn't lie about something like that." He looked at James with hollow eyes, "I want you to have my heart, even though it is battered, and bruised, I want you to have it. I-it's regretful. It's sorry …" he choked off a sob that bubbled in his throat, "I'm sorry …"

"You lied about everything else, didn't you?" James spat out at him, and Matthew could only wince at the coldness, "Why should I believe that that's any different?" He paused, "Besides, didn't you say someone took your heart?"

"Because Angels lose their wings when they fall in love with a human." Matthew said, and there was a deep, resounding sadness in his voice, making it drop lower than it usually was, sounding swollen with tears that he wouldn't allow to fall. He ignored the last question, because he truly didn't have an answer anymore.

James was silent for a long moment, and Matthew slipped on his cloak, not even flinching as the thick, coarse fabric rubbed against the open wounds in his back.

"Well, I suppose I shall take my leave, since you obviously don't …" but James cut him off, spinning him around and tugging him to his chest, holding onto him tightly. Then he was crying, and James was crying, but Matthew refused to hug him back, because if he did, he'd never want to leave.

"Can't you stay? Please, just … don't go back. I can hide you, now that you don't have your wings anymore that shouldn't be a problem …" and he was rambling, and Matthew had to silence him with a cold hand pressed against his mouth.

"No. I'll be found anyway. Besides, you deserve better than a fool of a human that became such a … a monster." Matthew tried to dislodge the arms around him, but they merely tightened further.

"I don't think I can forget what you did, or ever truly forgive you," he paused, feeling the smaller male stiffen in his arms before continuing, "But I want to help you. I want to help you overcome your demons. I want to help you get over whatever's haunting you." Because Matthew wasn't a bad person. He was just as lost, and just as confused as James was, because instead of fighting he accepted defeat, because he was used to losing, so why try?

Matthew was shaking , fists clenched at his sides, "I wish you could. I wish I could let you. I truly do. But … I can't. It's too late for me, nothing can change. You just need to …" he didn't bother stopping the sob that escaped him this time, because there was no point anymore, "You need to move on and f-forget about me."

"I could never do that!" James shouted at him, holding him at arm's length as Matthew smiled sadly at him, because he knew he'd say that.

His hands smoothed over James' cheek, "You'd be surprised how quickly you'll forget." His mouth twisted in a sad smile, which quickly morphed to surprise as his lips were covered by James' in a kiss that wasn't erotic or passionate or desperate or needy, but instead swollen with sadness, tasting of salt and sadness, thick with apology.

Matthew sobbed into the kiss, because it wasn't supposed to be like this. This is why people like him should never become attached to mortals, because this happens.

They part, and Matthew tries to hide the tears that are sliding down his cheeks as he smoothes the hair from James' forehead, dropping a sad, single kiss on his lips and walking out the door, closing it behind him quietly, because he doesn't want to disturb the quiet stillness. And James doesn't even realize that he's crying until the tears hit the ground under his feet.

Are you coming, Fourteen?

"Do I have a choice?" he said resignedly, and the voice laughs, because it's a sadistic bastard that deserves to disappear.

No. Of course you don't. And you never, ever will.

Anyone cry? No? Oh well, it was worth a shot, I guess. If you liked it, please please please read and review and tell me what you liked. if you hated it, please let me know why, so I can improve. Please? I don't bite, you know, I can accept concrit, because it's my crack.