She stood, the taillights of the dark SUV growing smaller before turning a corner. The lump in her throat grew, getting harder to breathe around by the second. Her heart was beating against her rib cage like a terrified bird. It was what she wanted; she had asked Arya twice. Not that the alternative was better. One prison is as good as another. No, the easier to escape prison was always preferable if one is determined to escape. London had no illusions that their former captive would do just that. To be honest, London secretly hoped that it would be a gloriously spectacular conflagration of an escape. Absently she noted the delicacy in which Arya gripped her arms, thankful and just a small bit surprised that the other woman hadn’t torn her head off.
Thinking about Arya was much easier than thinking about the press of a gun muzzle against her back, just below her left kidney. It was almost as if it was still there. Thinking about it made her breath hitch a bit in her chest. Unable to take a deep breath, London felt as if her lungs were being compressed by a giant band. Coda’s voice gibbering at her in various languages. Forcing herself through that stupidly pastel door as she tried to shut her out of her own dream chamber. Feeling Coda slip effortlessly out of of her grip.
The sensation of the muzzle hadn’t disappeared, not even in Zeke’s arms as she gave him a quick synopsis of the situation, even when she had been flung into the air for her own safety as a car landed on her boyfriend and left her to scramble down the side of a building. She was sure the couple in that sixth floor room were almost as surprised as she was to find herself sliding down to land on their balcony and just as quickly, leaping off to use one of the long flags to get closer to the street below.
Something in Japanese, the press of that gun against her back. She had whispered in Arya’s ear, she didn’t know what she was doing until it was done. Walk up, grab her by the arms and pull her into a hug. Was that was she was like when Clint hugged her that day? Stiff and confused, spine straight, head back. Would it have killed her to lean into the proffered friendship just once. To accept it for what it was, an offering of connection as equals.
She was panting, the rain thankfully masking the tears that streamed from her eyes. She had planned this, made a deal with Roman. Of all the sacks of rancid rotting offal to bargain with he was one of the worst. But he had something she needed; something precious enough to illicit betrayal. That phantom sensation was strong, almost as if the barrel was still pressed against her back. Her new armor was no thicker than her usual outfit, but leagues more durable. Leggings, tank-top, hoodie, boots. She wasn’t sure it would stand up to a bullet at point blank range.
She stood there, as a deluge of betrayal, and helplessness washed over her. Thunder rumbled overhead. London felt as if she was sinking in quicksand, every move she made just worsened the situation and she couldn’t think her way out it this time. After a few long moments, she turned on her heel and strode down the streets. Her pace brisk as it had been in the ‘Before Times’ when her parents had loved each other in the most soppy ways possible and she had been happy. When she got her first apartment and loved to wander the streets at night, marveling in the simplicity of rain on pavement, reflecting the roiling clouds silently scudding behind the bright lights in every puddle.
She stared blankly at the rain, her vision blurring as she looked into her mind’s eye, letting her feet take her where they wished. After several moments where the future slid deftly into the past without being noticed, London realized with several blinks that the water running down her face wasn’t rain, it was still raining, just not on her. She didn’t even bother looking up, though the corner of her mouth twitched a few times. Not that she thought it would do any good but she said it anyway. “Go away Zeke. I didn’t die, so no need to worry right?.” She bit her lip a little. That came out a little more harsh than she intended. London took a slow breath, holding it for a four count before letting it out in a soul deep sigh. She brushed at the tears exuding from her eyes, chin dropping to touch her sternum for a moment. She seemed to crumple into herself, shoulders sloping forward. “I just… I need to be alone okay?”
It was still a struggle for her to completely block her recently tumultuous emotions from the angel through their bond, but she continued to try. The wing that had been above her lowered and pushed her into her boyfriend’s embrace as he dropped to one knee to cradle her against his chest. He didn’t say a word, just held her in the dimness and the rain.
“You should go to Temple and get fixed up. Don’t waste time here with me.”, she mumbled against the side of his neck, his familiar softness enveloping her in comforting silence. Often when she woke up screaming, he would hold her in silence until the shaking stopped and she returned asleep. More often than not, she never woke up fully, still lost to the real world as her terrors gripped her tight. Until recently he kept this nightly vigil in stoic solitude. Ezekiel considered it his solemn duty as well as his not so secret pleasure to protect this fierce little human. Ezekiel didn’t mind, he easily vanquished the terrors she summoned from dreams unknowing and would so so as long as she wanted him there.
Ezekiel held her for a time, shielding her from the world and it’s constant blows. But eventually he pulled away. Just far enough to brush his lips to her cheekbone as his breath tickled her ear as he exhaled slowly. “You have gone through a lot of things in a very short amount of time. Most people in your place would have succumbed to madness or worse by now and yet, here you are. Radiant in your defiance. I can feel the whirlwind of emotions you carry and I know you would like to process them alone for a while. But this is a burden you choose to carry alone. When you tire, when this burden becomes too much for you to bear, just remember I totally just did a push-up with a car on my back.” a the flash of a smirk blessed his features for a second before looking at her seriously once more, concern etched in the set of his brows, “I’m strong enough to bear any burdens you deign to grace me with, as would Kalani. Do not forget, you are not alone. You are my favorite badger of honey. Full of hellfire and lightning.” He smiled and she felt it, the slight lift of his lips resting lightly against hers.
She understood ‘The Why.’ She was certain they all did, even Arya. All it took was Gabriel waving that feather and she had dropped every weapon she had in her arsenal. And for all the hell she gave Dante, she understood to some degree his brand of fatherly love. Her mind was pulled back to the present with the dulcet murmur of Zeke’s voice. Hell to some degree she could even sympathize with that pompous ass-clown. He had literally torn the universe asunder for Lucifer, only to reject the same soul because of the body that housed it. She speculated that there was more to it – there always was.
“I will tolerate no injury, self inflicted or otherwise, that I can prevent to you.” He rubbed his nose against her cheek before looking at her, his eyes the color of glowing topaz, luminescent in the darkness betwixt his wings The place he always brought her when the world was too much, too rough, too loud. Here she was always safe and the world was far enough away to be a muted hum in the background. “But as you request, I shall go have my wounds tended to. I would much prefer you accompany me but I understand you would rather not.”
All too soon, the world came back into painful focus, rain once again dripping from her lashes as protective wings settled into place on his back. London kept her hand against him a moment longer, his heat a small comfort in the brief interim. Nodding once she looked owlishly at his face, memorizing the planes and curves she adored not so secretly. “I reserve the rights to get a new body mod. I have been considering a tattoo or a new piercing or whatever. But I will do my best.” He blinded her once more with a sweet smile, kissed her soundly before peppering her face with a dozen small quick kisses for good measure. “Also, when we get home there’s a thing we should talk about. Other than maybe considering another remodel. Nothing bad, just a heads up of sorts. Touching base and all that.” He stood to his full height and booped her nose once for good measure. “I do not like leaving you alone, Just for the record. You seem to attract trouble on your own.”
London backed away reluctantly, wanting nothing more than to hide between her lovers from the world. But that was not who she was. Right now what she wanted -needed- more than anything was a moment to herself, where she needn’t worry about what others thought of her. “Duly noted. Now shoo.” And with a solemn nod and another stolen kiss with a smirk, the Angel was gone. London sighed and turned down a street, her mind once again sinking into the a single moment and the feel of a gun muzzle against her back.