“Thank you.” Mala whispered to Donovan. Mala dried his face as they waited for Myrt to follow. “I should have told you before now.”
“Don’t worry about it, angel.” Donovan kissed Mala’s nose and smiled. “Just try and patch things up while you have the chance.”
“Could you be any sweeter?” Mala grabbed Donovan’s ears and kissed him.
“This was the happy life you wanted?” Myrt couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “He’s a vampire! He’s a HE!”
“His name is Donovan.” Mala pushed open his office door. “Just come inside if you want to shout at me Myrt.”
“This sort of copulation is a sin, Mala.” Myrt shook his head as he followed them inside. “Do you have no shame at all?”
“I’m ashamed of you right now.” Mala turned and slapped Myrt across the face. “There is no sin or shame in loving my husband. Sin was always a farce to begin with. After all this time are you still hiding from yourself behind these ridiculous old rules?”
“Take it easy, Mala.” Donovan sighed and slumped in front of Mala’s desk moving aside a few stacks of papers. “I dealt with years of it. He’s your brother, he doesn’t need to like me.”
“Don’t move my things.” Mala smiled back at him.
“I’ll put them back.” Donovan sighed as Mala gestured for his chair. He replaced the pages and headed for his seat. “Okay, okay. I’ll put them back now.”
“You’re still as much of a mess as ever.” Myrt laughed at the mess. He was always picking up after Mala. They kept separate homes and he always found himself in one or the other cleaning up stacks of books or boxes and retying scrolls. Mala scolded him for it every time.
“It isn’t a mess…” Mala began with a smile but it would quickly fade.
“You know where everything is.” Myrt finished and sat on the floor frustrated. “Mala, I was lost when you left the horsemen. Then I saw you with Lucifer’s demons when they stormed into Heaven. I didn’t even know you had left home until then. I couldn’t let myself fight you. I threw myself in the flames of a Thrones attack to make myself useless until it was over. When I fell it was into a mass of lessers. I still don’t know if it was good or bad fortune. Had it been demons with any sort of sense I would be gone, but it was not for their lack of trying. While Hell celebrated, I mourned. I knitted my wounds and searched through the remains of the fallen looking for you.”
“I sent you word when I accepted the offer to serve in Tsuriai.” Mala dropped to one knee in front of Myrt and grabbed his shoulders. “I asked you to come then.”
“I had just watched you killing our friends, Mala.” Myrt wept. “We hadn’t spoken in years and you came back a murderer. A traitor. Tsuriai might have accepted things quickly, but I did not. A lot of us did not. How could I leave when I had just helped them sift through the ashes of those they loved, while they mourned our fallen God? Was I supposed to just turn my back on everyone like you did?”
“Myrt.” Mala rested his hands on Myrt’s shoulders as his brother looked away in tears. His fingers grazed the edge of imperfect skin and Mala pulled aside Myrt’s shirt. A wide scar ran over Myrt’s shoulder. “Where did you get this?”
“You ever try and touch me like that again, boy.” Michael sneered and kicked Myrt back dragging his sword back before he stood and kicked over the water basin in front of him. “I’ll take that arm off.”
“It was a mistake, Lord Michael.” Myrt clutched at the wound that refused to heal. He whimpered as he scurried backward from Michael’s approach.
“I’ll have to leave you with a few reminders not to make it again.” Michael lifted his sword and drove the blade into Myrt’s side. “The scars can help you remember your sin. Purge this filth from your mind or you can join the debauchery in Hell. I have no place for sodomites with the horsemen.”
“They were atonement.” Myrt tugged his shirt back into place. “It’s nothing.”
“Why haven’t you healed them?” Mala tried to do just that and Myrt pulled his hands in front of him.
“Don’t bother.” Myrt smirked. “It seems if a Watcher doesn’t want you to heal, you don’t. Besides I earned the scars. I’m lucky he let me keep my hands and allowed me to keep my place.”
“Michael did this?” Mala was horrified.
“Before you even left.” Myrt sighed. He could still hear the disgust in Michael’s voice. The mocking disapproval of his laughter as he left the room. He had just washed the Watcher’s feet, rubbed his ankles to help him relax as he had done so many times before. Myrt was still asking himself all these years later what had made him run his hands up Michael’s leg, what possibly could have made him believe Michael would accept his affection. In a few hopeful moments of silence Myrt had let his fingers caress the inside of Michael’s thigh before he felt the blade buried deep in his shoulder. He spent weeks begging forgiveness, when Mala left the horsemen Michael started to overlook the matter as a lapse of judgment because of the struggle of trying to keep his brother’s morals intact. Myrt accepted the lie of it so he could resume his work and eventually he seemed to win back Michael’s trust. “It doesn’t matter. What did you ask me here for Mala? Lord Gabriel insists that I hear you out.”
“I wanted you back in my life.” Mala admitted. “I had hoped you would forgive me and come to Nihil. It’s selfish, but we have a strange little family here. I wanted you to be a part of it.”
“The Jester and his vampire?” Myrt laughed. “That’s what you consider family now? And this… I don’t even know what to… I’m afraid to ask which of you…”
“It doesn’t matter.” Donovan interrupted as he checked the message on his phone. “It’s personal. Mala, Caleb is on his way. Do you want me to just take care of it?”
“No, it’s fine.” Mala pushed up the fuzzy sleeves of his sweater and turned to smile at him. He let the office door open and rubbed at his face. “He’s just dropping things off.”
“What’s this?” Myrt grabbed Mala’s wrist and rubbed at the braided band.
“Our wedding bands.” Donovan slid aside the cuff of his jacket to show his own.
“Pretty.” Myrt muttered.
“Hell-oooo!” Caleb announced himself as he entered the main hall and went back to singing to himself as he climbed the stairs. “…I look so good in my fancy hat…”
“Fuck, he’s singing again.” Donovan could only imagine what Myrt’s reaction was going to be to Caleb. Sweet, blonde, effeminate and in no way shy about his tendencies. When Caleb popped through the door juggling armfuls of papers and bags and a cup of what smelled like liquid sugar Donovan just laid his head on the desk and sighed.
“Am I seeing double?” Caleb grinned. “Is this my dream or yours, Donovan honey?”
“Must be yours.” Donovan groaned.
“And I only brought enough coffee for one Mala.” Caleb pouted.
“This is the rest of your paperwork?” Mala smiled as he took the coffee and reached for the messy stack.
“Some of it is on this thing.” Caleb thoughtlessly grabbed for the tiny drive in his pocket and dropped pages to the floor. “Well, shit.”
“At least it wasn’t the coffee.” Mala sipped the warm beverage and enjoyed the soothing feel of it until he almost choked on it. Caleb bent to grab all his papers from the floor and Myrt stooped to help him. Mala just watched quietly afraid to end the moment he was witnessing.
“Came all the way down here to help me?” Caleb smiled as he stacked the pages on his thighs and bounced on his toes. “Should I just call you Other Mala? Or do you have a name?”
“Myrt.” The angel straightened the pages he had gathered and slid them on top of the others on Caleb’s lap. When he started to stand the vampire grabbed his fingers.
“Hang on.” Caleb winked at him and reached into one of the bags he was carrying. “I’m Caleb. I only had one coffee, but Mala won’t mind sharing a few of these.”
“I might.” Mala trekked slowly behind his desk to stand beside Donovan and rested his hand on his shoulder. They both watched the exchange quietly.
“What is it?” Myrt looked at him puzzled. He had been away from humans and vampires for far longer than Mala when he arrived in Nihil. He had forgotten how naïve and simple they were. They spoke without thinking and were awkward and clumsy.
“Yummy stuff.” Caleb opened a small white box and pulled out a chocolate covered piece of fruit. He held it between his fingers and inched closer to Myrt. “Open up.”
“I don’t eat.” Myrt shook his head.
“Don’t or can’t?” Caleb frowned. “Hmm?”
“I just don’t need to.” Myrt answered sadly. On rare occasions he would have something, but he was always told not to over indulge in any sort of pleasure. He had enjoyed eating and thought it should be left alone.
“Well, I can’t.” Caleb continued to pout. “So eat it for me.”
“I don’t want to.” Myrt scowled at him.
“Don’t be a big baby.” Caleb set the box aside and jumped on Myrt laughing. “Open up.”
“No.” Myrt fell back and tried to move away but Caleb latched around his neck and made goofy faces as he laid on him awkwardly and poked at Myrt’s lips.
“Ca-“ Donovan started to stand and break up what he assumed was going to end badly and Mala pulled him back by his shoulder.
“Let them go.” Mala whispered. “Look.”
“Come on, pretty.” Caleb grinned at the tiny smile Myrt tried to hide as he tightened his lips. “It’s candy and fruit. Good and bad all at the same time. You can’t go wrong.”
“If I eat it will you get off of me?” Myrt pushed a few stray hairs out of the vampire’s face that had fallen loose from the ponytail and looked away when he noticed the vampire flushing. “Please.”
“Maybe.” Caleb laughed and held the treat up to Myrt’s lips. “You might want more though.”
Myrt let Caleb slide the candy along his tongue as he rested his hand on the vampire’s back and sat up trying to reclaim his dignity. Caleb was having fun with him but backed off his lap and grabbed the box from behind him. He took Myrt’s hand and sat the box in his palm before he smiled at him and started to gather up his pages again. As Caleb walked to the desk with his papers and the bag of treats for Mala, Myrt just looked at the box in his hand and wondered how he was supposed to react. While they discussed matters of business that made no sense to him he poked around in the little box and felt ashamed for enjoying what he had already eaten. More ashamed for letting himself get swept up in the sudden affection from a stranger. Myrt had never been in a situation like it and was unsure how to end it without hurting the vampire. What bothered him most is that there was part of him that didn’t want to end it. No one had ever given him so much attention. It was flattering.
“Didn’t like it?” Caleb pouted as he crouched behind Myrt and draped an arm over him. “I guess that means you aren’t going to let me sit in your lap again?”
“I did.” Myrt turned to look at him. Caleb had a disappointed sort of smile that Myrt was not sure how to interpret. He thought if nothing else he should show some gratitude for the gift, particularly since it was one of few he had ever received. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure, honey.” Caleb sighed as he took one last longing look. As he stood tried to push the idea out of his head and just went back to the discussion he came for. “Let me know when it’s all done. I’ll probably just get a smaller place to stay near Sordid.”
“This?” Donovan laughed and shook the messy stack of papers. “Give me an hour.”
“So reliable.” Caleb smiled and looked over to Myrt. He mumbled to himself as he wandered off. “I really need to set myself more realistic standards.”
“An hour?” Mala sighed. “I wanted to go home.”
“I’ll do it at home then.” Donovan pulled Mala to him as he stood and gave him a quick kiss. “I’ll go grab my computer. Invite your brother.”
“You really are happy.” Myrt rested his head on his knees. “I’ve missed you, Mala. I just don’t know where to go from here.”
“First to our place.” Mala sat beside his brother and put his arm around him as he snatched one of his treats and ate it. “You have to meet Dodo.”
“Those are mine.” Myrt closed the box and held it to his chest. “He gave them to me. Who is Dodo?”