Fandom: Eternal Law
Rating: PG-13 for swearing.
Word Count: 1,370 words.
Notes: Hints of Zak/Tom, because of course, of course this is what I would write. Title from Milton, because again: yeah.
Summary: The cliché is that the new recruit brings out the Hardened Champion’s ire because he remembers when he was that green, that trusting, so innocent. But it isn’t the case here, because no angel in the history of ever has been as green, trusting and innocent as Tom. Ever.
The cliché is that the new recruit brings out the Hardened Champion’s ire because he remembers when he was that green, that trusting, so innocent. But it isn’t the case here, because no angel in the history of ever has been as green, trusting and innocent as Tom. Ever.
He finds beauty in slums, joy in poverty, needles in haystacks and --- dear God, man, he may not be able to die, but he’d best get to a hospital quick-sharp. The world is not wonderful, it is full of disease and decay and that is precisely why they’re there. They’ve botched something up royally and this is their punishment. A hole of an office, awaiting a case worthy of their time and devotion.
Zak tells him these things time and again and all Tom does is get tight-lipped, straight-backed and stilted. He breaks, a little bit, stumbles over his words. Sometimes, Zak wonders if Tom is, in fact, a robot. An angel robot, who ever heard of something so patently ridicul---
Well. Yes. All right.
Occasionally, Zak worries he sounds like Richard. That makes him hate Richard even more than he had previously. Which was a lot, in case you were wondering.
“Look at this flower,” Tom says, white teeth peeking out from gently curving lips as if to say, ‘why, hello, Zak, I thought you needed to feel even more conflicted and filled with angelic angst today, look at how lovely I am.’
He looks at the flower.
“It’s nice,” he says, as expected.
Or not. He should know by now that this isn’t nearly jubilant enough. Tom’s eyes narrow.
“Nice? Nice? You look at nature in all her majesty and refer to it as nice?”
“Indeed. As flowers go, it’s perfectly serviceable.”
See, the thing about Tom being as green, trusting and innocent as he seems to be is that he’s infinitely corruptible, and there is nothing quite as tiresome as a day in their horrible poke of a headquarters with the too white walls and stench of carbon paper. And nothing quite as enjoyable as making Tom angry.
Tom’s angry isn’t like other people’s angry. Mostly because he isn’t people. No, Tom’s angry is the wrath of an angel. Which makes it doubly entertaining.
Tom stomps his feet. He actually stomps his feet. This is when Zak should start to worry. Not because Tom could do anything of value in the way of damage --- the kid can punch, but he’s yet to learn the many hidden abilities his Earth-bound body holds, or the variants Zak has been equipped with --- but because he’s so damn charming he makes Zak’s stomach churn. That’s one of the problems with these bodies. They react so strongly to the smallest stimuli.
“I dread the day I end up like you,” Tom pronounces, with a little more force in his tone than humans possess. Perhaps it’s the chorister in him. His solid tenor supplements his irritation. Plus, Tom is falling for the cliché, Zak notes.
“Better to dread the day you end up like Richard,” he returns, then immediately regrets it. His throat constricts to tell him this, the traitorous bastard. “I didn’t mean that. I do apologise.”
It’s no light matter comparing an angel with the fallen. Not something to be laughed about over a lager. The angels may be fallible, foolish, faulty, but they’re not… well… fucked. Very definitely not fucked. In the metaphysical, metaphorical or literal senses.
“I don’t know why I was sent here, with you,” Tom says now. He sounds so sad. He makes Zak want to clutch him to his manly bosom and pet the sorrow away.
Zak looks down at his hands. His knuckles have gone white. Damn over-reacting all-too-human-seeming body.
“The flower is beautiful,” Zak assents, because it is. It’s a red rose. The sort of beauty that comes with a cost, and, really, that’s the best of them all.
“That’s not the point, at all.”
“Then why did you want me to look at it?”
Tom stops, stares. “We’re over that discussion. Surely you can see that that thread of conversation has long gone?”
Zak tilts back in his chair. “I can see a beautiful rose. And you. And your God-awful suit. And the sun shimmering through the clouds beckoning us outside. And, really, I’m not one to be gauche, but don’t you think we should go for a stroll in the sunshine while it lasts?”
Tom turns around, once, twice, as if waiting for Jeremy Beadle to pop up out of the potted fern --- except, of course, he wasn’t down here then, lucky boy, (Zak can only pray Beadle’s not up to his tricks up there), and to look at him, he’d be too young to get that reference even if he had been. Zak feels very, very old.
“Is this some sort of hazing ritual?” Tom asks, then, gaze scrutinising and speculative. Zak has so very much to teach him.
“Grab your coat.”
There are so many things that Zak could tell him. Tips and tricks and ways to avoid falling into traps. He could tell Tom all about the dangers of full human emotion and watching late-night infomercials, downloading iTunes and following the ‘you might also like’s…
But, much as he isn’t supposed to interfere in human lives, he isn’t supposed to unduly influence Tom either. And the line between ‘order’ and ‘guide’ may be thin, but is also absolute. Free will, or cruel whimsy? Mr Mountjoy has a hell of a lot to answer for.
The sun is not warm, but this is York, so it would be sillier expecting it to be than not. People bustle in the picturesque absurdly narrow streets as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders and Zak wonders if any of them will ever realise how blessed they are to be mortal. He shrugs his coat tighter about himself and decides not to ponder that again for a good, long while.
“I can’t tell you why you were sent to me,” Zak says, standing and stopping in front of the Minster. Most buildings of York Minster’s stature and heritage loom. This beckons. “But I can tell you why you were sent here.”
He intends to tell him all manner of things; about the price of human vanity, the scourge of organised religion, the necessity of heavenly aid.
He thought he brought Tom out here to knock the stuffing out of him a little, to not so surreptitiously tell him off for being so high and mighty, but simultaneously point out that it’s possible to be grizzled and jaded without being forever Earth-bound and evil. The mind is its own place, and in itself/Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven. But he finds the fight quite goes out of him, staring into those calm, intelligent-yet-oh-so-pure eyes.
Tom waits. He’s a very patient student. He only rolls his eyes the once, which is a heartening sight for more than one reason.
“I’m not going to give you a history lesson, because I’m sure you’ve already had several hundred years’ worth. And I’m not going to wax lyrical on the Gothic architecture, because, to be honest, I couldn’t give a toss and once you’d heard me go on for ten minutes, you wouldn’t either. But I am going to say this ---“
Zak stops speaking when two pigeons come swooping down in front of them and Tom clasps hold of his hand, quite forgetting he’s supposed to hate him. Tom grins like an idiot, bending down to gesture at the birds, still holding Zak’s hand. Tom produces a range of weird little noises, high tones and low tones, cooing. He speaks pigeon, Zak thinks frantically. He speaks pigeon and he’s unashamed.
And Zak is forced to accept that the cliché doesn’t apply to their situation not only because he was never that green, that trusting, so innocent. It’s false because he was never this --- warm-hearted, good-natured, excited, entranced. Lovely.
“Look at this Cathedral,” Zak murmurs. He twists his lips upwards and admits to himself it’s more in a smile than a grimace. “Isn’t it nice.”
Nice and beautiful at a cost. Like Tom.