The first thing Gideon noticed as he came back into himself was he was laying on his stomach on something soft. That was different. The last thing he remembered was Lucifer with his hand in his chest squeezing his heart, trying to get information of where Sara was hiding. But he called her something different. Sapphira. Now that Gideon was not in so much pain and he did not have the Fallen One snarling in his face, that name tickled something in the back of his memory. Something from a long time ago that he had heard regarding Lucifer. The memory slipped away as quickly as it came, leaving Gideon even more confused.
Time to ponder on that puzzle later. Whatever had pulled Lucifer away had to be important. It did not mean the bastard would not return to finish what he started. He seemed desperate to find Sara. But why? With the exception of Sachi, after his fall mortals no longer held any interest for Lucifer.
Opening his eyes, Gideon realized he was no longer in the cell, but his room in his house on a planet in the mortal realm far from Earth. Well, it was more of a series of rooms built high in the side of a mountain. Far from crude, each room was comfortably decorated and kept warm by fire places. Electricity brought from generators gave them lights, modern Earth conveniences like a state of the art kitchen, hot water for showers, TV, game room, and electronic surveillance system. Things not found on the primitive planet that he kept this safe haven. Primitive by earth’s standards.
What this planet did have was magic. When he had found the monastery, he had a local spell caster put Wards around it to hide it from prying eyes. However, Wards did not keep everything out and sooner or later they failed. Along the outside wall of the mountain were stone paths with half walls built to keep the wingless visitors from falling, not that they had many, and a thatched roof overhead to keep them dry. If someone was to look up and see past the Wards they would think it an old abandoned monastery and that was what Gideon wanted. He knew he could not hide from the powers to be for long, no one could. But he could buy some time to figure out why Sara was so important to them.
A small sound beside him brought to his attention that he was not alone. Carefully turning his head, his back burning for some reason, he looked into the face of a sleeping angel. Sara lay on top of the blankets on her side facing him, curled around her pillow. She was here, she was safe. Relief flooded his body, taking away some of the aches and pains of his wounds. Smiling, he reached out and gently touched her face with his fingertips as he had done so many nights before. Only this time she felt him.
Without moving, those beautiful deep chocolate eyes fluttered open and a smile slowly spread across her lips as she focused on him.
“You’re awake,” she said quietly.
“And you’re safe,” he smiled back. When her smile faltered and her eyes dimmed into something haunting, he frowned. “What is it?”
“I will never be safe,” she whispered.
Taking his hand in hers, she brought it to her lips and gently placed a kiss on his fingers. That one small touch sent a shiver through Gideon’s body that he knew all too well. One he had been fighting for the last thousand years every time she became of age. Her voice brought him back from the forbidden thoughts he should not have for his charge.
“And as long as I am here neither will you.”
“What does that mean?” he asked dread replacing the warm fuzzy feeling.
“I can’t stay, Gideon. I can’t place you in danger while you are so weak. I have to leave so….”
“No!” Gideon cried angrily trying to roll over so he could stand. Pain so intense it sucked the air from his lungs shot through his back and chest.
“Gideon!” Sapphira cried reaching for him.
The door crashed open and Talon was suddenly filling the opening.
“What is going on?” he demanded.
“He tried to get up?” Sapphira explained as she moved to her knees on the bed, took Gideon’s arm and gently tried to move him back to his stomach. Talon was there in an instant helping her.
“You need to stay still,” he said gently. Once Gideon was back on his stomach, Talon pulled up a chair and sat down, his elbows on his knees so his face was closer to Gideon’s line of sight.
“What is wrong with my back?’ Gideon gasped. Before Talon could respond, a movement on the other side of him alerted Gideon that Sara was leaving the bed. With lightning speed that shot pain through his back once again, he grabbed her hand stopping her. Something deep inside him told him if she walked out of his room she would not be walking back in, and he could not have that. Turning his head so he could see her, he whispered, “Don’t leave.”
She smiled at him, but it was a smile that did not reach her eyes. Glancing up at Talon, she moved so she once again lay next to Gideon, her hand still firmly in his. “I’m not going anywhere,” she assured, the not yet implied.
What had happened while he was unconscious?
Turning back to Talon, the movement sending a fresh wave of pain through him, he asked hoarsely, “What happened after I left you?”
Talon gave Gideon the summary of the events that happen up until they parted with Michel, Loghan and Damien. At the mention of Damien’s name Gideon’s hand tightened around Sara’s. Unlike the others, he knew Damien’s secret. The son of Lucifer, something that should have been impossible. And there was something else. Something important, but the harder he tried to grasp a hold of the memory the quicker it slipped away.
Those of the higher realms had been trying to capture Damien for centuries. He would appear in the mortal realm to start some sort of chaos, and he was not subtle about it. It was as if he were looking for a fight, and when the angels sent to stop him found him, the blood bath was gruesome.
Finally Gideon and his command were sent in to eradicate the menace, but Damien had always managed to slip their grasp. When they did meet face to face it was never pleasant, and Damien would leave behind more destruction than Gideon cared to remember.
Then, suddenly, a little over a thousand years ago, he disappeared. No one knew to where or why, but when Damien was spotted a hundred years ago he was said to be looking for something. Something important to him. There were also reports that something was different. Instead of creating trouble, he went out of his way to avoid it, and that was not like him. What had changed was a mystery, but Gideon knew that did not make him any less dangerous.
The fact he had been with Sara, alone, sent a chill through Gideon. The thought of what Damien could have done to her….
A look passed between Talon and Sara that told Gideon there was something they were not telling him. Something he would not like. Sara started to slip her hand from his. At first he tightened his grip, afraid she was leaving. Then he let her go. Keeping her where she did not want to be was wrong. If she wanted to leave she was free to go, even though that thought tore something inside him to shreds. Nothing before in his entire existence had ever caused him fear, not like the thought of losing this woman. It was…debilitating. When she made no further attempt to move, the choking fear he was unused to loosened.
“What did they tell you about Sara when you were first assigned to her?” Talon asked.
Gideon thought back. “Not much. Just that she was important and needed to be watched carefully. When I realized demons were hunting her, I asked more questions but they would never give me an answer that was satisfying. There always seemed to be something left out. Why?”
Again the look. This time Gideon turned his head so he could see Sara. The haunted look was back in her eyes. And something else. Something he could not quite put his finger on. She was…different. Even though she was lying on the bed seemingly at ease, there was an air around her, a self-awareness that was not there before. There was also knowledge. Knowledge that gave her more confidence while at the same time frightened her.
Having enough of the tip-toeing around whatever was bothering them, Gideon pushed himself up.
“Gideon, don’t!” Talon ordered moving to stop him.
One look from him and Talon backed off. Sara did not even try to stop him. Instead, as he moved to sit on the side of the bed, she slid off her side and came around to the end, keeping her distance, her eyes wary.
“What the hell is wrong with you two? I’ve been through worse,” he snapped. Slowly and carefully he stretched his muscles, the burning sharp pain in his back once again sucking the air from his lungs. He started to flex his wings…and froze.
The memories of what Lucifer had done to him came crashing back. The pain, the humiliations, the utter despair as he watched his beautiful wings turn into ash.
The color drained from his face. His wings were gone. An angel without his wings was a creature lost. Neither mortal, angel nor demon; the few of them that were still sane roamed the earth trying to fit into a world they did not belong. Each trying to earn back what they had lost. Those whose minds broke were either locked away or destroyed like rabid animals. But to burn an angel’s wings meant that they would never be able to earn the right to fly with their kind again. It was the ultimate punishment, one rarely dealt and one Gideon had not earned.
“Gideon,” Talon started his voice full of worry and what Gideon know knew was pity.
“Get out,” Gideon whispered.
They hesitated for only a moment then both started for the door. Gideon did not look up. He did not want to see that look pass between them again. That look of pity.
Once he heard the door quietly click shut he let his rampaging emotions loose. Pain, anger, fear, desperation. All of them converged into one long endless scream. When he was through screaming himself hoarse, he was on his hands and knees on the floor. Shaking with weakness, he pushed himself to his feet and stumbled into the bathroom. Turning on the lights he forced himself to look into the mirror.
From the front he did not look that much different. Healing scars from where Lucifer had torn through his flesh to get at his heart ran down the middle of his torso. Other, lighter scars from cuts of a blade or whip, bruising that looked days old along his rib cage and disappearing under the white linen pants that hung low on his hips told of the beatings. It was what was missing behind him that he could not tear his eyes from.
His wings. His magnificent wings. Torn from his body and turned into black ash before his eyes all because he would not reveal where Sara was. And he had known. Even though he could no longer feel her, he knew Talon would take her to the only place he felt was safe, and still Gideon did not tell.
Putting his hands on the counter he dropped his head in between his arms. How could he protect her now? When he could not fly her to safety, when he now had a huge disadvantage from those who would come for her who had wings, how could he protect her? And the pity in her eyes. She must only think him half a man now, he sure felt like one.
Even though the self-pity tried to take over, Gideon knew he would not change what he had done. Sara’s safety was his one and only priority. He would sacrifice a lot more if it meant she stayed out of the hands of those who would hurt her.
Carefully standing straight, he dropped his pants and headed for the shower. He needed to wash the filth of Lucifer’s realm off him. Giving the water a moment to warm, he gingerly stepped inside, hissing when the water made contact with the open wounds on his back. While normally wounds healed quickly, these would heal human slow, and he would have the same phantom feelings one did when they lost a limb. As the nerve endings became numb and the pain receded into a dull ache, once again his emotions took over.
Hands on the tile before him, Gideon slowly slid to his knees, the anguish of his loss engulfing him as his tears disappeared into the fall of the water around him.
Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes