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When You Don't See Me

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The shock of the first splash of hot water made Seth scream, as though in pain. It was a good pain though--to feel anything was good. Hesitant steps, a hand stretched out to catch the gentle waterfall, and then Seth was embraced by the wet, warm fingers of the shower. It felt gentle, like Maggie's touch, but cleansing, like the sunrise song. Pleasure softened hesitation, and Seth stretched out under the spray. The sensations overcame his every expectation. Water...a shower. It was wonderful. Warm. Happy. Soothing. Peaceful.

It was great to be alive.

*****

Cassiel had appeared at the first scream, called to his friend's side by his fear, but there was no need for his presence. Seth was not in danger; he was having a shower. A slow smile stretched his lips. Always the guileless one, his Seth, surprised by the most innocent and mundane things. He watched as Seth reapproached the silver stream, bending his head to the cascading kiss of the shower tap as if he were receiving a benediction from Him. Divine bliss shown from Seth's face, a brilliant light from within shining bright enough to challenge the sun.

In a step, Cassiel was there with him. Pressed against his back, he still could not feel the dripping water, the fine hairs at Seth's nape, the pressure of the former angel as he leaned back into the invisible touch. And yet, there was something there, that little spark in the bottom of his imagined stomach that only ignited when Seth was near. It grew, flittering around his ethereal body. Cassiel stretched out his arms, feeling across Seth's naked back, and not for the first time did he wish he knew what it was like. To touch. To kiss. To love as humans love.

To be alive.

*****

Hours slipped past. Maybe weeks. Time was still new to Seth, and lost in the simple pleasure of warm water time seemed too inconsequential. Limitless, eternal. Like the old days...

A sharp ache squeezed his temple, and quickly he turned off the water. Seth didn't want to think about The Old Days.

A haze of waterspray clung trembling to the glass pane of the window. When he wiped away the fog, his hand making a squeaking noise against the glass, a spruce tree danced before him. Long waxy needles caught the sunlight and glowed with its living
energy. Closing his eyes, he could remember the smell--SMELL!--of the trees in the rainstorm. Again, his body felt light as peace settled on his shoulders. It spread out from his back to cover his entire soul in a feathery blanket. Maybe if he held out his arms, he could fly.

*****

"You miss the old days," Cassiel spoke to his friend, but Seth couldn't hear him. It wasn't an accusation or a divine voice of intervention, it was the genuine truth. He could feel it in Seth's sudden tenseness. Seth cleaned off a small circle in the middle of the window and stared out into the mountain forest surrounding the comfortable cabin. As gently as he touched any human, Cassiel pressed his hand to the center of Seth's back. Instantly, he relaxed at the touch, his eyes closing.

Cassiel closed his eyes as well, listening to the whispers of Seth's thoughts. Green. Smooth. Pointed. Wood. Spice. He was thinking about the tree outside, what it would feel to climb it, to sit on its branches and shout to the birds. Flying...he won't have wings anymore. What use is it to feel the wind on his face if he couldn't fly?

"You can use my wings," Cassiel promised, then he buried his face into the short hair at the back of Seth's head. He wrapped his arms tightly around his chest even though he knew Seth would not feel them or even know he was there. His wings unfolded,
forming themselves out of light and air, thought and belief. Holding on tighter until nothing but immaterial fabric of his coat kept them apart, Cassiel folded his wings to capture Seth in a double embrace.

"Don't worry. I'll catch you if you fall."

******

Thus insulated from the outside world, Seth stretched out his arms, and flew.

Like a sighed breath, he felt the wind brush past his face. Seth felt the speed of his flight, the pleasure of being released from the strange pull of the Earth. It felt like falling in love again.

And then, without warning, he fell.

*****

Screech of tires. The crack of twisting metal and broken bones. She never had time to scream, yet Cassiel heard her. She was dying. She was leaving Seth.

Cassiel pressed his lips once into the dip in Seth's shoulder, and again to the outside of his ear before whispering, "Maggie's in trouble. Go to her."

He stepped back, withdrawing his presence from Seth's earthly body. His friend stumbled, but his hand shot out and caught himself before he fell. A little dazed, Seth stepped out of the shower, shaking his wet head as though to clear out his mind.

'Did he not hear me?' Cassiel thought. 'Or does he not want to know?' Clearly not feeling the urgency of the moment, Seth dressed and headed downstairs to sit at the table. Cassiel followed, waiting for Seth to respond in some way, to run to Maggie. Before it was too late. But he couldn't force Seth to do something, he could only guide him and hope that he would listen.

He hoped Seth would listen soon.

****

A wave of...fear, perhaps, washed away the calm feeling. There was something wrong...but that wasn't right, everything was perfect. He was alive. He was with Maggie.

Despite his attempts at forgetting the strange feeling, it followed him as he dressed, quickening his steps and making his heart race. When he saw the table set with food and a candle, he almost succeeded in completely ridding himself of his bad feeling.

When the candle went out, the feeling came back, only this time more clear.

'Maggie is in trouble. Go to her.'

Seth pushed himself away from the table and ran.

******

Cassiel watched soberly as Seth ran from the cabin. He was surprised when he had succeeded in blowing out the candle, but at least it finally let his message get through to Seth. There was nothing he could do for her but be by her side as she left. There was nothing either Seth or Cassiel could do to stop it. He had delivered his message; he had gotten Seth to her before she died. It didn't mean he would be there to watch Seth's newly found world fall apart.

"I'll catch you, my friend. Always."