Guardian Of An Angel - Chapter 5
Monday morning arrived with a cooling breeze, scattering fragile wisps of cloud across a hazy sky. Delicate streams of sunlight spotlighted clusters of wind-blown leaves as they danced across the dusty pavement. Everything was calm…so far.
Angel woke up just in time to see Loreley sneaking out of the bedroom, school bag over one shoulder, trying not to wake him. He scowled, wondering why Lori was sneaking off somewhere without him. Grabbing a random object from the bedside table, he threw it at the retreating form.
"OWWW! Bloody hell, Angel!"
Lori spun round as the alarm clock clattered against the floor, shattering the air with its harsh, shrill ringing. He kicked it until it stopped, before turning to glare at the ebony-haired angel huddled up under the bedcovers.
"You're trying to kill me again, aren't you?!"
Twin pools of dark, honey brown gazed at him imploringly.
"Don't give me that look..."
"...I hate you, y'know." Lori sighed, rubbing the spot on his head where the clock had hit him. Angel smiled. "Anyway, don't panic, I'm just going to school. You can't follow me there!"
Angel tilted his head to one side, brows furrowing ever so slightly in puzzlement.
"Why? Because high school is only for teenagers.../human/ teenagers, I mean...and...and you're sooo not listening to me, are you?"
Angel get out of bed and strode determinedly across the room, picking his way through an assault course of junk heaped up on the carpet. There was a familiar flash of light as his wings melted away into invisibility, and he began pulling clothes out of the wardrobe, comparing them to Lori's uniform.
"Ack...you're just gonna follow me there even if I tell you not to come, aren't you?"
Angel nodded enthusiastically, holding up a matching set of the school uniform.
"So, what exactly d'you plan to /do/ once we get to school, O great, all-knowing heavenly being?" Lori glanced over at Angel, who was walking alongside him as they crossed an open field (the only way he was letting Angel near a main road was if he was on a leash). It wasn't exactly a short cut to school, but none of the other students went that way, so Lori preferred it.
In the early hours of the morning, this place had an almost mystical feel about it. Vague, phantom figures could occasionally be glimpsed far off in the dim distance; shadowy, spectral forms shrouded in morning mist. They skimmed silently across the gleaming, dewy grass, and the thin veils of fog that hung just above it, like traces of ghostly breath. Ancient, withered trees bordered the field, with gnarled old branches that reached up feebly to try and warm themselves in the watery sunlight.
Lori would normally be wandering across in quiet awe, if it wasn't for his companion.
"Well, Angel? What's the plan?"
Angel shrugged absently, fiddling with the knot in his tie which had been fixed there by Lori.
"Oh, no you don't! You're the one who wanted to tag along with me, so you have to promise to do what you're told and keep out of trouble! Now..." he halted, turning to Angel with his hands on his hips. "Promise!"
Angel blinked and tilted his head to one side, then nodded. A few strands of hair fell away from the loose white ribbon that was tying it back, and he pouted as he flicked them away from his face.
"...You look like a girl."
Angel scowled, insulted.
"No, I mean...you should pretend to be a girl. A really flat-chested one, but still...and Angel is a girl's name anyway. Besides, you're way too cute to be...er...I mean...heh...nevermind..." he trailed of awkwardly and quickly glanced away in embarrassment. Angel smiled shyly, porcelain cheeks flushing with the slightest hint of colour at the compliment.
"Uh, anyway..." Lori swallowed nervously, running a hand through ruby-red bangs.
"You sure you wanna follow me around school, Miss Angel? You know you'll get bullied too, if y'do."
The dark-haired boy seemed to hesitate for a minute, thinking.
"...Sorry, stupid thing to ask. 'Course you don't wanna." he turned away, shoving his hands back into his blazer pockets and trying not to look disappointed. Suddenly a small figure glomped onto his arm, chin resting on Lori's shoulder. "Eh?"
Angel beamed back at him, dark eyes sparkling.
"You /are/ going to stick around?"
The angel nodded happily.
"...You're a bloody mental case, you know that?" Loreley started walking again, this time trying to conceal a smile. Angel elbowed him lightly as a retort, and they made their way across the field and out of the morning mists.
Loreley scowled, huddled over his textbooks as obsidian-painted fingernails tapped away at the buttons of a pocket calculator. Angel sat next to him, head resting on folded arms, shadowy eyelashes fluttering down against pale cheeks as he struggled to keep his eyes open and stay awake.
Lori, meanwhile, was far too stressed out to even think about sleeping, which was amazing considering that Maths was his favourite class to doze off in. All day he had been devotedly guarding the naive angel, like an ancient dragon watching over a secret hoard of jewels and golden trinkets. Angel seemed perfectly happy to be guarded, as well; he shuffled closer to Lori every time they passed a group of students in a corridor, always staying within an arm's length of the human boy, and hiding his face shyly whenever someone looked his way.
Lessons had been fine so far, because either the teachers had assumed Angel was a student they'd forgotten the name of, or they were too busy to notice him at all.
Lori was just quietly grateful that they hadn't had any practical lessons. His visions of Angel burning down his own home were replaced by a cheerful angel wearing a charred school uniform and safety goggles, a Bunsen burner in one hand, sitting on a pile of rubble that was once Our Lady Of Peace Catholic School's science block. A few crushed and burned limbs from the other students were scattered around, half-hidden under chunks of masonry. Lori grinned to himself.
/Maybe that wouldn't be so bad after all.../
"Something amusing, Mister Akemi?"
"Eh? What, uh, no...sorry..." Lori shook his head, looking back at the teacher. The man glared at him for a second, adjusting black-framed glasses, before turning back and continuing his lecture on simultaneous equations.
Lori rested his chin on his hands and made a new effort to concentrate on the lesson.
Thin white scribbles swarmed over the dusty blackboard like frantic insects. He narrowed his eyes, trying to decipher the mass of chalky hieroglyphs, but they melted together under the scorching sunlight to create a smudged, blurry mess. The stifling, drowsy atmosphere of the day's final lesson, was no place for a sudden bolt of mathematical brilliance to strike.
A quiet yawn escaped before he could stop it.
The teacher spun around again, a new glare fixed on his face.
"Oh, so now you find advanced algebra classes /boring/, do you, mister Akemi? I suppose you'd rather be out gallivanting in the sunshine, would you?"
Lori frowned, wondering if it was worth answering such an obvious question. The teacher's gaze flickered away from him, onto Angel, who was now sound asleep.
"Although you, at least, have so far managed to exhibit enough self-control to STAY AWAKE!" with the last two words, the teacher marched over to Lori and Angel's desk, slamming a ruler down just inches from Angel's head. Lori winced at the noise, while Angel promptly woke up, crashing backwards onto the floor and taking his chair with him.
The rest of the class burst into laughter as Lori helped the bemused-looking Angel back up again, while the teacher stood scowling patiently. When the angel was back in his seat, in a vertical position, the teacher nodded sharply and handed him the chalk.
"Well, madam, seeing as you are /far/ too intelligent to bother listening to what I have to say, perhaps you wouldn't mind going up to the board and solving all the problems on it?
Angel sat and stared at the chalk, as if he had just been given a few pieces of wood and a hammer, and ordered to build an aeroplane. Lori nudged him nervously, and he stood up and went over to the blackboard. There were a few seconds of silence, save for the quiet giggling of some of the students.
Loreley covered his face with his hands, taking a deep breath and wondering what the hell had possessed him to let Angel loose in a public place. After a few minutes, he looked up again.
Angel hadn't burned the school down. He hadn't even erased all the equations and scribbled a picture, ran out of the room, or tried to eat the chalk, all of which Lori had been half-certain he would do. He calmly finished solving the last problem, placed the chalk neatly back in its tray, and strode back to his seat.
Lori merely gawped for a few minutes, while the teacher hurried off to check the answers and Angel sat quietly next to him, doodling on a piece of scrap paper.
"All correct...excellent!" the teacher turned back to the two boys, looking mildly shocked. "But as for you, mister Akemi...you can see me after class tomorrow! Detention!"
Lori frowned, but kept quiet until the teacher's back was turned again. He leaned over to whisper to Angel.
"What the bloody hell was that? You got them all right...and you didn't even study...and...it's not fair!"
Angel smiled smugly at him.
"Ack...well don't think you're gonna get a gold star sticker or anything...if you hadn't answered those right, you'd have been given detention like me!"
Angel shrugged and gave his friend a 'you're-just-jealous' look.
"Huh, whatever! Anyway, if you're such a genius at Maths, you can do my homework for me, can't you?"
Angel folded his arms and shook his head.
"...Not even if I buy you a tub of chocolate ice-cream on the way home from school?"
Angel looked back again with starry eyes.
Multiple pairs of glittering eyes watched keenly, as two slender figures wandered aimlessly up the street towards them. The taller of the pair, pale and androgynous, was only really distinguishable as male by his voice; the shorter teenager probably didn't even know their own gender. S/he was currently hugging a tub of Triple Chocolate Chunk ice-cream as if it was a kitten, despite the crimson-haired boy's repeated warnings that it would melt.
Suddenly the taller boy looked up. Dark mahogany eyes narrowed, as if his sixth sense had just warned him of the threatening atmosphere up ahead. He nudged the other, and they stopped, turning away from the main road and into a side street. The watchers silently cursed that they would have to do some chasing, then stood up and began to follow their prey.
"Hurry up, Angel!" Lori urged frantically, taking hold of Angel's arm and forcing him to walk more quickly. Angel frowned, determined to keep a firm grip on his Triple Chocolate Chunk prize and not understanding at all why Lori was so worried. It was a gorgeous, sunny Autumn afternoon, the trip to school had been a brilliant success as far as he was concerned, plus he had ice-cream. What was to be worried about?
Lori felt his heart rate double as he glanced over his shoulder. Five or six boys from his class were following them down the side street, walking with swift, determined strides.
"Angel, faster...just RUN!" he yelled, suddenly breaking into a sprint. Angel copied; so did the gang following them.
They tore along the street, crossed over, turned down another. Lori glanced back again, some ridiculous part of him hoping that the others had just randomly started to run when they did; they weren't after them at all.
/Not with Angel...please, don't let them get Angel.../
The gang turned the corner with them.
"Come on, Angel!" he panted, grabbing Angel's arm again and pulling him around another corner sharply. Their trainers crunched against loose stones as they ran down a narrow dirt alley, bordered by high wooden fencing. There were a few harsh shouts, and something flew through the air and hit Lori's shoulder. He didn't stop to see what had been thrown, but just ran on.
The path opened out onto a small field, with a thick, dark forest beyond it that was always a good hiding place. Angel stumbled on the field, and the ribbon tying his hair back fell away onto the grass. Lori gave an extra tug on his arm to stop him pausing and picking it up, and focused on the forest. His lungs constricted painfully as they tried to snatch in a few more scraps of oxygen, his limbs burning and aching in protest to this sudden burst of stress.
A few meters from the forest edge, and salvation, Angel stopped dead.
"Angel! Hurry up!" Lori pulled frantically on Angel's arm, but the ebony-haired boy shrank away, eyes full of terror and focused on the trees.
"This is no time to be worried about the fucking woods! There's nothing in there that's gonna get you now - just things out here!" he yelled, desperately trying to drag the other boy away from the fast-approaching gang.
"Why, hello there, Loreley!"
Lori immediately froze up, feeling his stomach sink as their pursuers approached...wearing the same uniform as them, although it would have to have been at least a couple of sizes bigger.
Angel glanced around, confused. The boy who spoke seemed to have a friendly voice, but from the way Lori tensed up and shrank away, you would think he had just threatened to shoot him.
"Fuck...not today..." Lori quickly stepped in front of Angel, uselessly trying to shield the younger boy from view.
"Did ya miss us today, Loreley?" another of the boys snickered, roughly knocking Lori away again with his shoulder. "So, who's your new bitch?"
"Leave Angel alone." Lori stepped back in front of his friend, sincerely glad he had skipped lunch...the thought of his Angel being hurt was enough to make him want to vomit from sheer terror.
"Oh, Angel, is it?" Angel huddled closer to his protector, but another boy just pulled him away, while a second grabbed Lori to stop him interfering. "Well, aren't you the cutest fucking thing in the world?"
Angel took a step back, frightened brown eyes searching around for Lori.
"HEY!" a rough hand grabbed Angel's chin, wrenching his head around so he faced his interrogator again. "It's impolite to look away when someone's talking to you! And I asked you a question...well?"
Lori watched in heart-wrenching helplessness as tears welled up in Angel's eyes.
"Stop it! She can't even speak!"
"And nobody asked you to, asshole!" the boy who was holding Lori back replied, letting go and throwing him to the ground, away from the circle they had formed. Lori scrambled to his feet, biting his lip to hold back a sob of panic. They seemed to have forgotten him in view of their new victim; Angel, barely visible, trapped within the ring.
"Aww, she can't speak! What, dumb? Too fucking stupid to learn?" Angel cowered away, stumbling back in an effort to escape the venom in his assailant's eyes. He bumped into a boy behind him, who shoved the thin figure forwards again with a mean laugh.
"Or maybe you've just had too many cocks down your throat, huh?"
"Ha! Not as many as your mom's had!" Lori yelled suddenly. He grabbed the taller boy's arm, spinning him around and slamming his fist into his stomach.
Angel caught sight of his friend for a second, before two more of Lori's classmates grabbed his arms. Lori was still yelling insults and struggling furiously, but with no more hope of escape than a butterfly with its wings pinned down. Angel covered his eyes, as the boy who had been punched raised his fist to exact revenge.
"And as for you, sweetheart..." a fourth boy grinned, grabbing Angel's arm. Angel jerked away, turning and throwing the tub of ice-cream he had been clutching to his chest. There was a satisfying yell as it splattered over his attacker.
"Angel, run for it!" Lori let out a desperate cry, punctuated by a gasp of pain as another fist made contact with the side of his face.
A heavy arm made a sudden grab at the dark-haired boy, but never succeeded.
Everything ground down into slow motion, as a bright globe of light suddenly flashed into life around Angel, then vanished. He closed his eyes, arms crossed over his chest, as the light sphere flashed again, vanished again. It appeared a third time, blindingly quick compared to the virtual standstill the rest of the world was in...beginning to flash faster and faster...an entire galaxy of exploding stars, encircling the angel as he slowly rose off the ground. Ribbons of bright, white flowing energy shot out of the sphere, twisting and winding in the air.
Whirling currents of celestial brilliance danced around the frozen figures, before
darting off into the distance as Angel ascended higher and higher. His wings burst out of his back in a shower of diamond dust, sprinkling the ground with glittering feathers.
Then, from in between his shoulderblades, he drew out something that had been strapped to his back. A long silver sword gleamed in the sunlight, although the sun now seemed dull compared to it. A strip of white fabric was wrapped loosely around the handle, looping over Angel's arm and trailing off to flutter in the breeze.
Angel landed on the ground, and the world began to move again.
The air currents from his landing smashed into their attackers in a solid wall of force, crushing, deafening and suffocating all at once. They toppled over like paper dolls as he charged towards the three that had been beating up Loreley. The angelic blade sliced through the figure on the ground from head to toe, as effortlessly as a fish gliding through water. Lori watched in stunned shock as no wound appeared, but a look of utter terror flooded across the victim's face, twisting into an inhuman expression of fear as he leapt up, screaming, and began to run.
Angel turned to the next two, eyes glowing with benevolent fury, and slashed at them
both in the same way. Twin screams welled up in their throats, and they curled up clutching at their heads as if trying to shake out a swarm of demons.
The two remaining boys were scrambling to their feet, trying to escape, but the vengeful Angel spread his wings and shot through the air like an arrow, appearing in front of one of them. Before he realised what had happened the human had ran onto the point of Angel's sword, which pierced straight through his gut without spilling a drop of blood. Still, he fell to the floor, groaning in horror, as Angel flew after the last of the bullies...
It was only when all five were dealt with that Angel looked back towards Lori. His anger melted away in a heartbeat, as he spotted a shaking figure huddled up on the ground, with a few stray drops of crimson staining his school shirt.
Angel hurried over and knelt down next to his friend, laying his sword aside and using his wings to shelter them both in a tent of shining feathers. Lori's head was down, fixed on the floor, with blood-red bangs covering his eyes. One hand was clamped over his mouth, a thin trickle of dark red seeping through his fingers.
"I'm so sorry, Angel..." he whispered hoarsely in between broken sobs, shaking in body that looked even more fragile than usual. "It's all my fault...I got you into trouble...I'm so fucking stupid..."
Angel shook his head, wrapping his arms around the other boy and hugging him tightly. Lori sighed, closing his eyes and letting a few silent tears escape unnoticed. Suddenly he pulled back, smiling weakly behind the hand that was still pressed to his bleeding mouth.
"Thanks, Angel...but we can't sit around out here all day, can we? C'mon, let's go
Angel hesitated, then nodded. His wings and sword melted away into the air as he helped Lori to his feet, and he handed him his school bag.
"Don't worry about me, really! They only got a few good hits in before you did that wicked-cool glowing-sword stuff...I've taken /much/ worse beatings than that, believe me!" he put on a brave, fake smile, and Angel suddenly wanted to cry.