The First Day Of

When the rain got worse, the two of them returned within the walls. Aziraphale had to report back and he was certain Crawly had somewhere else to be as well, but neither of them wanted to make the trip in such weather, so they waited it out in the garden.

Aziraphale was slightly aware that he should have gone anyway. To tell people about Crawly being here and being the tempting one and all, but the rest of him decided that the truth of the matter wouldn’t change no matter how far out the report was, so he might as well make sure he looked the part for when he did tell the others exactly what it was that went down.

Continue reading “The First Day Of”

A Gift for Life and Death (pt28)

Death said nothing. He did not reach out, but Forgiveness didn’t back off. They waited for him.

Finally, Death reached out one hand, palm upward, and waited. Forgiveness felt it, felt what it was that Death was trying to avoid, even if no part of their body reacted in the way that one might have expected. Forgiveness dropped flame into his hand.

Neither of them said anything. There was nothing to say, it seemed. Forgiveness looked up into Death’s face. Death did not look back, not immediately, but eventually Forgiveness could tell that Death was staring them back. Two abysses in his face, calling to them. A call Death couldn’t stop, but one that he always gave.

Forgiveness stayed put, but smiled tiredly up at him.

“Take the angel back to her, Pup,” Death said, fingers closing around the fire. “Before they get into more trouble.”

Before Forgiveness could do or say anything more, the hound picked them up by the scruff of their shirt and placed them back on his spine.

There was something they had needed to say, a word to Death about the gift, even if they had no need to explain the reason behind it. Death knew what this had been brought for, didn’t he?

The angel wondered about this. The rhythmic motion of the hound, moving along back to home. Back to Life. The warmth pressed up against their chest. They wondered what Life’s reaction would be, if she would have a word to say about it. If she would understand as quickly as Death had.

Whether or not either would then… return to acceptance.

Forgiveness, with a smile upon their face, drifted off to sleep.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt27)

Even the flames of the phoenix could only give Forgiveness so much energy. They really wished to sleep, nestled in that little house they had made, with Life watching them with such curiosity, as though she had never seen someone make a house before. Which was untrue, she had seen it so many times. She had helped them, with walls made out of trees, with carpets made out of moss, until Forgiveness had fixed everything to what would be good for them.

It was as though Life had learnt so much that day. Something Forgiveness was happy to teach her.

Forgiveness had stopped to rest after making some distance, when they heard the sound of the wind. It brought with it the pretend panting of the hound, who hadn’t actually broken a sweat to catch up with them. Figuratively, of course.

A low whine came from his throat. Forgiveness reached up to climb up the bones, settling themselves on to the hound’s back. They would have asked to go home, but Pup already shot off as soon as Forgiveness had gotten into the best position. They pressed down against the bone, the warmth from the flame keeping the wind at bay as they shot through the world, back to home.

Or, at least, to Death.

The angel couldn’t help but pay rapt attention when Pup slowed down, looking at the charred remains of the large building that Death was sifting through. He knocked the occasional thing aside with his scythe, not bothering to look up until hearing Pup’s whine. His head didn’t move and he didn’t stop his seemingly random behavior.

“Where have you been, angel?”

Forgiveness sat up, before Death might actually note anything about them. They didn’t know how much Death might be aware, especially with what they held on them, but they wanted to make sure it was still as much a surprise as possible. Separating part of the fire from the other piece, they placed part of it back in their shirt as they slipped down from Pup.

Death turned to them, but before an inquisition could begin, Forgiveness held out the flame to Death.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt26)

“I am not the only creature to both live and die, angel. They have long since been blinded by time, but if they looked a little closer, they would not need a gift from me to see what they have to share. You spend much time with them both?”

Forgiveness nodded.

“Then you would know best, would you not? Perhaps better than I, unless you have died and lived many times as I have?”

“If I have, I don’t remember any of it,” Forgiveness admitted.

For some reason, the phoenix seemed mollified by this, though she continued on as though there had been no doubt. “Without the cacophony of changing forms, you have spent much time with Life and Death. You have seen them occupy the same space?”

Forgiveness nodded again.

“You would know best, would you not? How they do not affect each other at a distance? How destructive they are upon reality when they are close together? Things which are not alive don’t know what to make of near death. Things which are dead do not know what to do with returning life. Yet, at the very crux of it, when touching?”

This time when she extended her wings, it was simply to display her full splendor. The beauty of a phoenix. A gesture she would make at any time in her life. The meeting point of Life and Death.

“Thank you,” said the angel

“Go with this gift, but forget not who gave it to you. Whether in this life or another, I will wish the favour returned, angel. I may lose the occasional detail, but I do not forget what I am owed.”

Not likely to forget such a thing within their own life, Forgiveness climbed back down the volcano. The warmth of the phoenix’s gift gave them the strength where they might not have had it before. Nevertheless, returning to where Life or Death would be might take some time. There were the places that Forgiveness knew well, but the world was vast. While Life and Death might traverse all of it, the angel had yet to do so. Finding either might take longer than finding a phoenix had.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt25)

She rose up her left wing and placed her head under it, eventually seeming to pull out a feather. However, when the phoenix pulled her head back out, it wasn’t with a feather in beak, but a silent shimmer of flame. Extending her head down, the ball of flame dropped from her beak and landed near the roots of the wizened tree.

“Here, enough fire for two. You may give them both this.”

Forgiveness got back to their feet and approached, stopping before the tree to stoop down and pick up the flame. The warmth was comforting and parted in their hands, splitting into two equal parts that easily combined once more.

“In many languages, fire is described in various ways, the ways that both give credence to Life and to Death. Blossoming flames, consuming flames. To grow, to kill. This is what fire is.”

Holding it close, taking some form of sustenance from the warmth, Forgiveness nodded. “Thank you.”

A Gift for Life and Death (pt23)

If the discussion hadn’t gotten the phoenix’s attention and the subject hadn’t garnered her curiosity, the mention of Life and Death settled the phoenix’s temper where nothing else had. The feathers which had ruffled and made the creature look so much larger had settled to give her the sleek profile that she had previously shown while sleeping upon the wizened tree.

“You wish to gift something to Death? And Life? Whatever for? Life has everything she would ever want in creation. Death receives the truth of everything at their end of this form of their existence. Why would you want to gift either with a mere object?”

Forgiveness shook their head. “It’s not just an object. It’s a symbol.”

Those eyes shone. “A symbol of what, little creature?”

The angel leaned back on their hands, a better angle to look up at the bird. “I wanted to give them something to show how close they are to each other. After all, someone like you exists. They aren’t as far away from each other as they think.”

A Gift for Life and Death (pt22)

Her wings extended and it was like flames shot out from the motion. But it was simply warm air, perhaps a circulation from the very volcano. Forgiveness thought otherwise. It wasn’t the same sort of heat from exertion or from the vents of the volcano. It caught Forgiveness’ breath and would have knocked them to the ground if they hadn’t already been sitting. It did make them close their eyes against the pressure and when they opened them again, the phoenix was there in front of them, beak opened and talons flashing.

The angel opened their mouth. “Can I have a symbol of your reincarnation?”

The phoenix stopped, neck bending down to drop her head down to Forgiveness’ level. “You wish for something of mine?”

Forgiveness nodded. “I need something. For a gift.”

Those blue eyes peered into Forgiveness, then around at the rest of their mortal body. “You have come a long way for a gift.”

“It can’t just be anything. It’s for Life and Death.”