Freddie wasn’t a man that dreamt, not like others at least. The few dreams he had were just recreations of moments in his life. He had no control but that didn’t matter because he always knew what was next insticutally; he never knew they were dreams until he woke up. Something they were a little more dramatic or bloody, but nothing that ever surprised him. All his dreams were founded in his reality, so when one night, he heard a voice that he knew was distinctly not him, things changed.
He stood there, in a house that wasn’t his but he recognised. There was blood on the carpet and the walls and the ceiling, everywhere he looked, red. His hands too, probably his mouth, chin and neck too; he’d bitten them. It wasn’t like him, not messy and while there was still fight in them, but he’d done it anyway. It was quiet apart from his laboured breathing, until his heard a voice call his name. He turned but there was no one. He didn’t recognise the voice either, deep but light and echoey.
“Freddie.” It called again. He continued to look around the room.
“What? Who are you?”
“You can hear me?” The voice was surprised, but worn and broken in a way Freddie hadn’t heard before. “I thought you’d never hear me.”
“Who are you?” He repeated with more conviction.
But the voice did not reply, and the space fell silent. He continued to look around, but there was no one other than him and the dead body in behind the couch, and it wasn’t him. He took steps from the living room to the hall to the staircase, peering up around the corner best he could, but still no one.
“Freddie, listen to me.” Freddie doubted he could do much else. “I’ll come back to you, when you next sleep, okay?”
And then Freddie woke up. It was the first time he’d ever woken with a start, though it only be a slight one. That dream was unlike any he’d had before. There was something foreign about it, in a way his own dreams never were. His own felt real, tangible and grounded and real , but there was something in this one that was different. It sat differently in his empty stomach. He was hungry, but there wouldn’t be food for another few hours, if he was lucky. To pass the time, Freddie stared at the ceiling.
# # # # # #
When he next went to sleep, he wasn’t expecting anything. He’d remembered what the voice said, but why should he believe a voice in his head; they didn’t always tell him the truth so why would it be different now? Sleep came like it always did, and he dreamt.
A different house. A different blood soaked carpet. A different body. Same motivation.
His hands were dripping, and his shirt clunk to him like stray hairs in the showers, impossible to peel away. He was sweating and he was red. When he looked around the living-dining space, he wondered what it would’ve been like to grow up in a house like this? Everything was in place except for the things he’d distrubed, but photos remained hung on the wall and thrown cushions were still neatly arranged. The house was warm, was more than a house but a home.
The voice came again, “Freddie, can you hear me?”
“Yes,” he said, with no hesitation. Maybe he should’ve been concerned, but somehow he knew this wasn’t real, a dreamscape, “I can hear you.”
There was a slight sniffle and a sharp intake of air. “I wasn’t sure if it would work again.”
“Will you tell me who you are now?”
“I...I don’t know who I am.”
Still, Freddie couldn’t see anybody. He wandered the house, but he doubted he’d find anyone. Something told him he was the only one physically present. “You must have a name?”
“But you don’t know it?”
“Then what do I call you?”
“Is that really your priority? My name?”
It wasn’t, but Freddie had a feeling things didn’t really matter at this point. He wasn’t even sure of his priorities, but the name of the voice inside his head seemed irrelevant, though he wasn’t sure what else he was supposed to say. Maybe he should’ve been scared that his head had been invaded by a force unknown, and a part of him was, deep down, buried, but the rest of his remained unbothered; it wasn’t like his emotions usually worked like they were supposed to, so why would they work when he slept?
“Where are you?” He asked after a few moments. He found himself in the bathroom washing the blood from his hands. As he looked at his reflection, he realised he looked like shit, but that wasn’t new.
“I mean, why can’t I see you?”
“I don’t know how to do that, not yet, but I’m working on it.” Like the night before, something pained and broken sounded in the voice. “You can see me soon.”
Freddie was unsure how that was supposed to make him feel, but there was a dull sense of okay-ness that went along as the words registered with him; he’d be okay if the voice came back and it had a face. “And until then?”
“Until then, it’s just my voice. I can’t keep it for long though. Freddie, tell me something.”
An unusual question. “Tell you what?”
“Anything. What should I know about you?”
There were many things about Freddie that maybe a stranger should know, or maybe they shouldn’t, he wasn’t exactly aware of how social protocols worked. So he said, “I’ve done bad things.”
“So have I. You’re not alone in that.”
# # # # # #
“Why are you in Brooklyn?”
“It’s where I live.”
“Were you born there?”
“I’m not sure where I was born. Maybe.”
“Does it not bother you that you remember so little about who you are?”
“It does. I’m trying to figure it out along the way. I have a feeling it’s not as simple as I’m preparing myself for, but I don’t know what to expect when I figure everything out.”
“How long will that take you, you think?”
“I wish I knew. Things come back to me slowly.”
“I was a soldier. I fought in a war, but I don’t know which one. It was violent, and many were killed. I killed people in whatever war I was in, but I don’t think I wanted to. I think things were far more complicated than right and wrong, whatever that means.”
# # # # # #
Freddie was stood in a field this time. It was familiar, but not like the other dreams, the other scenes he places himself in. The houses were always disorganised, but that was usually partly his fault if not entirely, they ended up covered in blood at some point, and they smelled like cooking, if he decided to stay there to eat. They were places of great violence and brutality.
The field was different. Thick and unkempt grass up to his knees, light in colour from the burning sun, and the grass stretched on for miles, trees distantly lining the edges, still with green leaves yet to turn and fall. The sun was setting and it cast a warm glow across the land and himself, as he stood there, looking at the orange sky.
“Where are you?” There was a light surprise in the voice.
“A field, near where I grew up. I haven’t been here since I was a teenager.”
“Why are you there now?”
“I don’t know.”
He started walking. There was no destination in mind, but he let his feet carry him. He used to spend hours away from the house at a time - if not from when he awoke until he went to bed - just to have some form of peace. It wasn’t real peace, he was still with his own mind, but it was much better than being around his family. When he tired of walking, despite the long grass, he lowered himself and laid on his back, staring up. The moon was already bright, the sky already fading to dark blue from the direction he came.
“Did you ever remember your name?” Freddie asked. It had been a long time since he’d felt like this, since he’d felt anything at such intensity, but he let his eyes drift shut, feeling the most relaxed he had in a very long time.
“No. Do I need one?”
“Maybe. If I ever see you, I’d like to know what to call you.”
There was a pause. “Then you give me a name.”
Though most of Freddie believed the voice to still somehow be one of his, though he knew the voice felt different to any of the others, the idea of giving the voice a name felt intimate in a way Freddie had never known.
“What if I pick a bad one? You have to tell me if you hate it.”
“I will, but I have faith you’ll pick the right one.”
He was glad someone had faith. It was misguided, but he opted not to say that. Instead, he thought about the voice, and what that voice felt like. It was difficult, and normally something so trivial wouldn’t warrant this much thought - there was no way to make a guess or suggestion that was more correct than another - and yet, Freddie found himself really thinking about it.
“Daniel,” he said after a while, “I think you’re name is Daniel.”
There was another moment of silence before, “I think I like that...My name is Daniel.”
“I’d say nice to meet you, but I haven’t met you yet.”
“Tomorrow night? I’ve been working on it, and I think I can project my image now. I’m not sure for how long, but we could try.”
“I’d like that.” Feeling were overwhelming, but they seemed better here, in the field, than in the houses. “Can we meet here?”
“If you want to, it’s your mind.”
“That means nothing. I don’t have much control over it.”
# # # # # #
He was struggling to fall asleep, which was unusual. He was not the sort of person that was so exhausted he would be out as soon as he lit the pillow, and he wasn’t someone who’d spend hours agonising over the black walls. However, on the one night it felt like it mattered, sleep eluded him. He wondered if Daniel would know that’s why he wasn’t there, or if Daniel really actually cared. He was still just in Freddie’s head after all, but since it bothered Freddie, than if probably bothered Daniel too.
He’d thought about the face that the voice would belong to. It wasn’t his voice so it wasn’t his face. The accent wasn’t his either. He sounded American, so Freddie imagined someone tall and bulky, with symmetrical features and short blonde hair, all messy and spiky. He wasn’t sure of the voice suited that look much, but it seemed to be how he perceived Americans, so until he could see Daniel, that was all he had. He wondered if Daniel knew what he looked like. Freddie assumed he did. Daniel spoke of being able to see his surroundings, though not in great clarity, just colours and blocky shapes, but it was better than nothing. Or maybe it was worse.
Daniel must’ve witnessed him standing over the dead bodies of the people he’d killed. He must’ve watched as Freddie washed blood from his hands and neck and rinsed blood from his mouth before it stained his teeth. Daniel might’ve even seen before that, before when the voice had first appeared, and that could mean Daniel had seen him eat others. If he had, and he still chose to speak to Freddie, then he clearly also wasn’t sane. But he couldn’t be a monster like he was. No one was a monster like him.
He felt himself start to drift, and he tried not to think about it, hoping that wouldn’t cause his brain to start up like a broken engine. He let his breathing deepen, and even as he felt his arm start to go numb under his own weight. He let himself be pulled under.
“I was starting to think you weren’t coming,” came Daniel’s voice from behind him. It felt more solid than before, the faint echo gone, instead sounding dull and heavy. Even knowing that, Freddie was still surprised when he turned around and actually saw a person. He wasn’t quite what he was expecting Daniel to look like. Though he was tall and broad, his hair was not blond. Instead, it was black, flopping from across his forehead in messy clumps and soft waves. It wasn’t quite as short as Freddie imagined, but was still short, fluffing out in places, like around his ears. His featured were bold - a strong nose, large ears, dark eyes - and his mouth held a gentle lopsided smile. “Hi,” Daniel said, looking almost nervous
“Hi.” Freddie took a step forward and then another, before reaching out and touching Daniel’s shoulder. “You’re real.”
“Yes, well, I mean, we’re still in your head, but I’m as real as you are, out in the concrete world.”
“I wasn’t sure.”
Daniel nodded, his eyes brightening for a moment, before they fell from Freddie and went to the world around them. “Is this the field?” It was. Exactly the same as it was the dream before, and Freddie nodded. “It’s beautiful. I see why you came here.”
“Still not sure why though. It’s not a place I dwell on.”
“Maybe you should. If I were you, I’d remember this place every day. Sometimes we need places like this, that are just ours.”
The warmth on Daniel’s face faded. “I...I don’t remember.” He stared at his hands, as if remembering something, before looking back up to Freddie, forcing a smile to return. Freddie knew what forced smiles looked like, he’s practised all his childhood. He looked around his field again, before starting backwards, watching for Daniel to follow, and he did.
They walked for a little while, before Freddie planted himself in the grass. Daniel followed, and they laid back together staring at the sky. “You know,” Freddie said, “I’m still not completely convinced you’re not just inside my head.” When he looked over, Daniel was already staring back, and he nodded. “I’d like to believe you’re real.”
“I wish there was an easy way to convince you.”
Freddie wished for that too. He hadn’t wished for much in a long while, but it would be nice to know that he wasn’t getting any crazier, locked away in a cell.
“What do you remember?” He asked.
“Not much more. In the war, I fought for what I believed in but I still wished we didn’t have to fight. I killed people I considered close to me. There was a lot of us too.”
“Still don’t know your name?”
“My name is Daniel, that’s what matters.”
“But it’s not your actual name.”
“It is now.”
He had to pause. It still felt intimate again. He wasn’t supposed to like people, in any capacity - he barely tolerated himself - but there was something about the nature of Daniel that was calming; for the times that they spoke, Freddie felt a little less of a monster and a little more of a human being.
“I was in charge of something, of someone, I’m not sure. I was responsible in part for their wellbeing. I think the war messed that up.”
Freddie didn’t have anything to say, and Daniel seemed done speaking. He didn't know how long they had for sure, but Freddie doubted it was long. It had only been a week since Daniel’s voice first spoke, and even then it was shaky - Daniel was far from confident - so Freddie doubted they’d manage much longer like this. So, he turned onto his side to look at Daniel while he could. He didn’t see many people in prison. The people he did see were guards, the occasion fellow inmate but they all wanted him dead, so it was always through thick bars. To just look at someone on equal footing, was a pleasure.
Daniel looked at him, his head rolling gently against the grass. The yellow strands were distracting, but he could still see between them clearly. Freddie wished he felt this peaceful all the time. It was a foreign feeling to him, but maybe that was alright, as long as Daniel was there.
He woke up sweaty, gasping for breath. His hands clenched around the sheet as he was reminded where he was. he was in his cold, dank cell, alone. It was still dark, and he didn’t know how long he’d slept but it wasn’t enough however long it was. He was tired, his eyes dry and his joints stiff as he sat up to stretch. His shoulder popped when he pulled them taut above his head. It wasn’t long enough because now there was no Daniel. He only ever spoke with Daniel in his dreams, and he couldn’t dream if he was awake, so no Daniel. It felt strange to Freddie, to miss the presence of someone, but he couldn’t deny that he did. Now, seeing Daniel’s face, it felt more real than before, like he finally knew what he would miss while he was awake.
Missing people and places was unusual for him. Strong feelings were unusual to him, but since Daniel, things had changed. He wasn’t sure why, but he would be a fool to think that Daniel wasn’t somehow involved in that regard. It had only been a week, so his identify wasn’t yet shattered, but there were definitely cracks in what he thought he knew about himself.
Freddie could get back to sleep, despite how hard he tried.
# # # # # #
“Sorry about yesterday,” Daniel said, not looking away from the sky above them, “I wasn’t able to hold it for long. I though I’d managed longer, but...I was wrong. I’m sorry I didn’t give you a warning.”
Freddie thought about it, but replying, “It’s alright,” was true, though he didn’t appreciate being left awake for the remainder of the night. The sun was always setting in his dream, so there was always a warmth to the light around them. Daniel stretched out his hand and looked at it in the sun.
“Where is this place?”
“Ireland, where I grew up.”
“Do you have fond memories of this place?” That was hard to say, but the answer was probably no. Freddie decided that Daniel didn’t want to hear about how miserable he was a child, so he honed in on the few moments from when he was younger that he felt like he was something more than a personified nightmare.
“I remember walking in this field a lot. It wasn’t too far from my house so I’d come out here for fresh air and some quiet. It was always nice. There was never anybody else around, so I didn't have to worry.”
“What were you worried about?”
Though shrugging while laying on your back wasn’t the clearest of gestures, he hoped Daniel understood, but truly he didn’t know the answer himself. If there was one emotion that was always with him, it was anxiety. The rage and impulsivity came and went, but he was always worried about something. Deep down, it always lingered, like if he let himself finally, fully relax, something would come to snatch him up.
“Well, you don’t have to worry anymore,” Daniel said, looking over with a smile warmer than the light around them, and Freddie almost believed him.
# # # # # #
He slept most of the next day. Sleep wasn’t quite right. He was unconscious. Somehow - a guard being complicit he thought - a prisoner with a problem with Freddie, managed to get into his cell and beat him. He was alright, a few broken ribs but nothing more than what had happened before. So he’d spent the day in and out of medical sedation. Under sedation, he couldn’t dream, and he couldn’t sleep that night with the drugs still in his system, so it was close to forty hours later did he get to see Daniel again.
He was expecting the field again, though he wasn’t sure how he had that control, but he didn’t materialise there that time. Instead, he was in a house again, and he was covered in blood that wasn’t his own. It dripped from him like rain, soaking him uncomfortably. There were three bodies strewn about the house, he knew that, but he could only see the one in front of him; a young woman in her early twenties, still with a knife lodged in her back.
“Freddie?” He whipped around and saw Daniel stood there, look at first around the room, but then roaming Freddie’s body frantically, like there was any real danger. Daniel moved to stand directly in front of him, hands fumbling up his arms checking for injury, and Freddie just let him, panic evident on Danie’s face when Freddie knew there was nothing to be scared of. “What happened?”
“I killed them,” he said. His voice was the coldest it had ever been with Daniel, and he clearly noticed that, eyes darting to Freddie’s face, and then a hand, so gently against his cheek.
“I’m so sorry,” Daniel said. He really sounded sorry, so soft and quiet and just a little bit broken.
Freddie shook his head. “I killed them. I chose to kill them. And after that, I chose to eat them too.” He was expecting Daniel to recoil, to take staggered steps back in shock before vanishing, but he didn’t; he didn’t even flinch.
“I’ve done bad things too. Sometimes the guilt comes later.”
“Sometimes it never comes at all...what if I don’t ever regret it?”
Freddie wasn’t expecting to be hugged ever in his life, but Daniel hugged him with such a tender hold. It felt unnatural, to have arms around him that didn’t want him dead, but it still somehow felt okay. It felt okay because it was Daniel, who had an overwhelming ability to show Freddie sides of himself he thought were long forgotten, dead, or had never existed to begin with. So tentatively, his arms found their way around Daniel’s waist.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Shaking his head before remembering Daniel couldn’t see, Freddie said, “No,” but then he changed his mind, “Maybe just, stay...for a little while.”
There was a light laugh that radiated a sense of...Freddie wasn’t sure, but whatever it was, Freddie liked it. “I wouldn’t even dream of leaving you.”
# # # # # #
“If you could go anywhere, where would you go?”
“I can’t go anywhere, I’m in prison.”
“Well then, I’d go to Brooklyn.”
Daniel chuckled as they walked. “There isn’t much here in Brooklyn. Well, there is, but I’m not sure you’d find it interesting.”
“We wouldn’t have to stay. Maybe when I’d get there, you’d meet me and we could go somewhere else, together.”
“I’d like that.”
“Where should we go?”
# # # # # #
“I want to tell you something,” Daniel began as he sat up, voice wavering, and Freddie followed.
“It’s about what I remember from before. It’s not good.”
Freddie shuffled on the ground, flattened the grass as he went, to sit directly in front of Daniel, legs crossed. “You can tell me anything, you know that.”
Daniel nodded, and tried to offer a smile, like he was trying to reassure himself before he spoke, but Freddie could tell it wasn’t working. But he would be patient with Daniel. When he spoke about his own crimes, it was hard, took him so long to get out the words, but he did it, and it actually helped, though he doubted it would of if Daniel hadn’t been there.
Quietly, in a voice that sounded not quite like Daniel, he spoke. “I killed five people. I’m still not sure why. One of them was a criminal, but the other four...they were just, just people, going on with their lives. I killed them, with my hands, and it so messy.” He took a shaky breath. “Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it was me that did it, but other times…”
Freddie understood, he just didn’t know how to tell Daniel that. he reached out and rested his hand were Daniel’s ankles cross. “It’s okay,” was all he could say because to him it was. There wasn’t anything to forgive Daniel for, but Freddie felt it anyway because he knew it was what Daniel needed to hear. He wanted to communicate that, but he wasn’t sure how.
“Afterwards,” Daniel continued, “I think I tried to kill myself, but I can’t really remember.”
“I’m glad you didn’t.”
“Sometimes I’m not so sure, but then I think about here, being with you, and I’m glad I didn’t miss out on that. I just wish there was something I could’ve done different back then. I wished I didn’t kill those people.”
# # # # # #
They hadn’t spoken yet, but Freddie didn’t really mind. Instead, they just laid in the grass in silence, staring up at the sky. It was the same sky every time, the same colours, the same clouds, and normally that would bored Freddie, but there was something about being there with Daniel that made it feel different each time. Daniel was the one thing in his dreams he could never predict, never knowing for sure what he was going to do, and that was enough to stop the monotony of his ever limited repatiour of dreamscapes.
Daniel made everything feel different again.
Daniel made him feel.
It was still something he was getting used to, but there was no denying it. With Daniel he was happy, without him he was sad. When they lay together, he felt at peace, and when Daniel hugged him that time and told him he wouldn’t dream of leaving, he felt a kind of warmth that he’d never felt before. It was a lingering warmth, that Freddie had not quite been able to shake since then, nearly two weeks later.
Time passed quickly with Daniel, like they never had quite enough time together, but every night, when Freddie fell asleep, he would find himself dreaming and Daniel would be there, smiling and waiting. It was a nice feeling, that someone actually wanted to see him. He wasn’t sure if he’d experienced that before either, but he hoped it wouldn’t go away.
There were other feelings too, like this creeping feeling of guilt over his own actions, on the few occasions that they’d talked about it. It wasn’t usually something they discussed, but Daniel knew what he’d done and he knew what Daniel had done too. That made Freddie feel better, having someone in his life that was also broken, and that understood him and didn’t judge him.
Daniel was unlike anyone Freddie had ever met before.
Except, they’d never met.
They must’ve spent hours in the dreamscape together, but they were never physically together. Most of the time, that was alright, but sometimes it didn’t feel like it was enough, that it would never be enough, especially knowing they never would meet face to face, touch skin to skin.
In a sort of desperate bid, Freddie reached over and took hold of Daniel's hand, lacing their fingers together. He didn't look, but could see from three corner of his eye that Daniel's head rolled to look at him. Freddie felt a gentle squeeze, warm and accepting, and he relaxed a little more.
# # # # # #
Daniel was nervous, which was rare, and Freddie picked up on it immediately. "What's wrong?" He asked.
"Nothing's wrong," Daniel replied. He looked hesitant to continue, so Freddie took one of Daniel's hands between both of his and waited, hoping the gesture would give some reassurance for whatever Daniel needed to say. Apparently, it worked. "I need to see you."
"You see me all the time."
"That's not what I mean and you know it." He did know it, but he didn't want to say it, didn't want to hear it, to be reminded. The silence stretched for a while before Daniel spoke again. "I was going to tell you the other night but I decided not too." Freddie looked up confused. "I remember who I used to be, but I want to tell you in person. I don't know if it'll help explain things, but it feels like it’s the right thing to do."
"Oh okay," Freddie said because he had nothing else to say.
"Just, tomorrow night, I want you to be ready. Don't go to sleep, I won't be here. Stay awake and I'll come for you."
"I, I don't understand."
"I know, but I want you to trust me on this, please. And pick some place to go, not anywhere you know and not Brooklyn, but somewhere else completely new. Can you do that Freddie?"
"Of course. Anything."
Concerned was an understatement, but what else was he to do but trust Daniel. He'd never let him down before, though Freddie didn't understand what would happen tomorrow night. Silently, Daniel wrapped his other hand around Freddie's, and they just stood there for a moment. Daniel looked at him with such emotion in his eyes, the likes of which Freddie had never seen. Freddie trusted Daniel with his life, and he somehow had a feeling that trust was about to truly be tested.
# # # # # #
He sat upright, cross-legged on the bed, still dressed in his jumpsuit, waiting. He wasn’t sure how long he was supposed to wait, or what he was waiting for, but he had a feeling he’d know it when it came. Daniel said he’d come for him and Freddie trusted him, trusted him completely, though he still didn’t understand how. But he would wait for Daniel, however long it took.
Freddie was getting sleepy when he felt something. He wasn’t sure what, and it was unlike anything he’d felt before. It was like there was someone else with him, somewhere close like a lurking shadow, but it wasn’t cold or menacing, instead Freddie felt nothing but kindness from the feeling. The feeling was getting closer, like a light getting brighter, and then it felt almost burning as Freddie looked, and stood outside his cell was a man, backlit so strong from the moon that he was only a silhouette. It didn’t take long however for Freddie to recognise the outline, broad shoulders and messy hair and strong arm.
He pushed himself from his bed like his legs were made of springs to the door of his cells, hands wrapping around the bars and face pressed close. “Daniel…” His came out as a broken whisper. He’d seen the man’s face so many times in the dreamscape, but something was so fundamentally different seeing him with his own eyes, in the flesh.
“Freddie, it’s me,” and his voice was equally equally quiet. “Step back.”
He did so, and watched at Daniel stretched out his arms, hands around bars, and pushed just slightly, and the entire door came off its hinges silently. Freddie couldn’t help but stare, not understanding what he was seeing. Daniel stepped into the room with the cell door in his hand, before placing is against the wall.
Daniel approached Freddie quickly. “We need to get out of here, fast, okay - are you okay with that?” Freddie could only nod. Daniel took his hand and started pulling gently, checking the hallway first, before dragging Freddie out. The door was replaced as silently as it was broken, and then Freddie’s hand was in Daniel’s and they were sneaking along. As Freddie looked around, there were no guards, and anyone that could possibly see them, other prisoners in their cells, were fast asleep, unmoving.
They hurried from the cell block and then into the break room and then into the visitors centre. It was easy to get out of the building from there, unlike what Freddie had expected. They passed a few guards on the way, but they were also asleep, something he was sure wasn’t allowed. The guard behind the front security desk was also asleep. Freddie knew something was wrong, or different at least, but he was leaving with Daniel, so it definitely didn’t feel wrong. They walked out unhindered, and they kept walking for a while, before they stopped, Daniel turning to look at Freddie.
It was dark out - they were between trees in a light forest - but there was enough light to see Daniel’s face, and Freddie felt more than he ever had before. Daniel looked like he always did, his face the same, a strong nose and big ears and warm eyes, and a smile that made Freddie feel like he could believe in God because that smile was crafted by God himself. He could feel Daniel’s breath on him, they were stood closer than he realised, his hand still in Daniel’s.
They were both leaning closer but both still hesitant. Freddie kept searching Daniel’s face, but he wasn’t sure what he was looking for. Permission? Their lips were ghosting across each other’s, and finally, after what was almost agonisingly long, did they kiss. It was light, delicate, like there were almost no contact, but Freddie felt it like an inferno. Hands were shifted to arms and waist, and it was perfect.
When they pulled their lips apart, still so incredibly close that Daniel rested their foreheads together, he asked, “Where are we going?”
And Freddie said, “Montana.”
Daniel chuckled. “Okay, Montana it is. Are you tired?”
“Are you scared of heights?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Then hold on to me.”
Freddie did as he was told, wrapping his arms around Daniel’s neck as he was scooped from his feet and into Daniel’s arms. He watched in awe as dark wings ripped from Daniel’s back, who led out a deep, muffled groan, but still holding on to Freddie with ease. The wings unfurled themselves and they were long and stretching tall. Freddie couldn’t look away, so it was a few moments of staring before Freddie realised they were no longer on the ground, but in the air, rising up far beyond the tree line and into the sky. Freddie clutched tighter ro Daniel, who just smiled warmly down at the man in his arms, as they glided through the air.
“If you need to sleep, you can, don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried,” Freddie said, “I trust you. I’ve just never seen a view like this.”
“Few humans have.”
Freddie thought he should be scared, but he wasn’t. There was nothing more calming that Daniel, and he was safe with him, so he settled his head against his shoulder and watched what he could see pass by.
# # # # # #
When he woke up, he was in a warm bed, light streaming in from a crack in plaid curtains, warm but bright. He groaned a little, but he hadn’t been in a proper bed in so long, that he couldn’t care to move, not quite yet. He could’ve convinced himself it was a dream, but he didn’t recognise what he could see, so it couldn’t be a dream. What he could see was a dark wood bed frame with black sheets. There was a set of drawers against the wall with clothes folded on top, a sheet of paper on top of that, and unlit candles next to the pile. His shoes were by the door, and he could strain to see small parts of bright orange just were a chest at the end of the bed cut off his vision. The room smelt fresh and clean, far different from prison, and he could smell food too.
There were sounds coming from somewhere too, he assumed the kitchen, so he pulled himself up and out of bed, though he was still a little groggy. He went to the pile of clothes to look at the paper, and he realised it was a note. It read:
These clothes are for you. Thought you might like them more than the jumpsuit. There’s boots in the living room. Daniel.
Freddie smiled and got changed; a plain, heavy henley shirt and dark wash jeans and warm, thick socks and clean underwear. It felt strange to be in normal clothes, but it felt nice, something he never though he’d experience again. He plodded from the room was he was dressed, navigating along the hallway and he found Daniel in the open-plan kitchen over a pans on the cooker.
“Hey,” Freddie called out, though it came out croaking so early in the morning.
“Hi,” Daniel replied, turning round to flash a smile, “Breakfast is just about ready. How do the clothes fit? I had to guess your size.”
The jeans fit well, though he’d still like a belt at some point - not that that really mattered, he was honestly just happy to have clothes. The shirt was too big, hung wide on his neck and the sleeve fell passed his wrists and was loose on his thin frame, “They’re perfect,” because they were, he liked the feeling of engulfing, ill fitting clothes. “Thank you.”
“Your boots are there by the door, the brown ones.” Looking to the door, Freddie spotted the dark brown hiking boots next to a pair of larger, black ones - Daniel’s - and he walked over to pull them on. Once he’d wrestled them onto his feet and tied up the laces, the food was plated. There were sausages and bacon and eggs, and Freddie practically ran, already drooling at the thought of real food again.
They ate in silence, and Freddie ate too quickly, choking more than once, but it was so good and he’d missed it. It was strange eating meat again - he wasn’t allowed any in prison - especially non-human meat; Freddie didn’t want to think about it but he couldn’t help it, but he also knew that he no longer wanted to eat people anymore. He was going to change. After they were finished, Daniel put the plates in the sink and they sat on the couch together.
“I have some explaining to do, don’t I?”
“Kind of, yeah.” Of course Freddie wanted to know, to be told he didn’t imagine the wings he saw last night and that they hadn’t flown through the air, and that there was an explanation that made sense.
“How much do you want to know?”
“As much as you’re willing to tell me.”
“I’ll tell you everything, if you’ll hear it. I’m not sure it’ll make sense, not completely, the story...it’s all over the place, and I know it sounds crazy.”
“I’ll always listen to you, anything you have to say.”
Daniel smiled, small and warm and gentle, before it dropped and his eyes went to his nervous hands, wringing in his lap. In an attempt to calm him, Freddie reached out to hold his hands, and it worked, at least a little.
After a moment, Daniel took a deep breath and then spoke. “Before I was Daniel - me - I was Adam, this...guy, living in Brooklyn with a low income and high rent, and I wasn’t very happy. You know...the murders, that was Adam, not me, but it felt like me. You know this, sorry.” He was nervous, struggling to find words, Freddie could tell and he was patient. “But I was someone else before I was Adam too. My name was Amandriel, and I was an angel.”
He looked to Freddie, but Freddie just looked back, no confusion or shock, just waiting. “In Heaven, there was a war, and it was messy. Those that lost the war, fell to Earth, but because time doesn’t work the same up there, we all fell into different times, and I became Adam, not remembered being Amandriel. When Adam...killed those people, someone somehow knew it was me, who I really was and tried to set me free, but it didn’t work, and I forgot Adam too.” He sighed again.
“It’s okay,” Freddie said, smiling.
“There’s more, why and how I found you. Every angel has a human charge - we’re like guardian angels. Some cared more than others, and those were the lucky humans, some angels didn't pay one bit of attention, and those were the humans who just seemed alright. But the humans whose angels fell - you - became...messed up. Things went wrong for them, because they didn’t have an angel anymore.
“When I started out again, not as Amandriel or Adam, but as Daniel...I don’t know, I just knew I could reach out somehow, to someone, and that you were that someone. I realise now that you were my charge, I was your guardian angel. I fell, and it’s my fault you…”
Freddie shook his head, “It’s okay. It’s not your fault, but I forgive your guilt, okay?” Hesitantly, Freddie stretched over and gently kissed Daniel’s cheek. Daniel though quickly turned his head as Freddie was pulling away, to catch his lips and truly kiss him. The night before it had been gentle, but this held more heat; it was desperate, needy and emotional in so many ways, for both of them. Daniel angled his face a little more, they were locked together perfectly. Freddie let go of Daniel’s hands to hold his waist, and Daniel’s hand came up to hold Freddie’s face, hands either side on his cheeks, holding him close and steady.
Before they could get carried away, Freddie pulled back but hovered close. “What do we do now? Are you going to leave?”
“No,” Daniel replied, so quick, “No, I won’t. I want to stay, if you’d let me.”
“I want you to stay too.”
They shared a quick kiss again, but Daniel stood, walking to the kitchen and began watching the plates, Freddie following close behind. “We can stay here indefinitely. And I can get us anything we need, and you don’t have to worry about getting caught or watching your back - you’re safe here, I promise.” Daniel didn’t look at him as he spoke, like he was too nervous to make eye contact though Freddie wasn’t sure why. So Freddie shuffled up behind Daniel, wrapping his arms around his waist, pressing them together tight, resting his head on Daniel’s shoulder.
“I trust you,” he said, “You know that. And with you, I always feel safe.”