Mythology & Folklore & Legends!!
What Would Neil Gaiman Do?
The Three Worlds. 
25th-Nov-2009 06:52 pm
Title: The Three Worlds
Character(s): Falen/Noel/Azriel/Raphael (a cambion, a Nephilim, a demon & an angel)
Folklore Used: Christian/Jewish
Rating: PG
Summary: A cambion and a Nephilim hook up, and an angel and demon try to break them up.
Disclaimer: I blame this fic, in its entirety, on this post, which I found through the LJ comm. [info]spn_heavymeta.
Warning: Buckle up, kids, it's going to be a long ride.



They were an extension of the war in heaven, born unto earth. She was a cambion, half a child of Hell, and he was a Nephilim, half a child of Heaven. At one point, they had been deeply in love, but that was all over now.

It had all begun when they had met a rave in Prague. Neither of them had really been impressed by the party, but they had still both found themselves there. His name was Noel, and his friends dragged him there, and he was reluctant to leave without them, even if they had all pretty much deserted him as soon as they had gotten there. He supposed that's what he got for going on holiday with his friends; this wasn't the first time they had deserted him in favor of trying to hook up, so he didn't suppose that he was truly surprised. She had gone there by himself, hoping to play around with the kids who took the lifestyle way too seriously. Her name was Falen, and when she had seen him, she knew that she wanted to play around with his head, because he seemed so different than anybody else that was there. She wasn't quite able to put her finger on what had made him different than the others, but she knew that it was there. And when he first saw her, he felt much the same, that there was something different that he couldn't quite place.

He hadn't planned on going back to her place, but he suddenly found himself there. He had only been half aware of what had been happening as she had led him there, kissing at him, pulling at his arms; it was almost as if she had worked some sort of magic on him. and the night passed in much the same blur, as did the next day, and the day after that. After a few days, his friends started to worry about him, they hadn’t seen or heard from him since the rave, and they were due to start moving again. It wasn’t until the day they were supposed to catch a train out of the city that he contacted them again, saying that they should go on without him. They argued with him at first, saying that they weren’t going to leave him by himself in another country. But he argued that he wouldn’t be alone, and he could always catch up with them at a later date.

None of them were altogether thrilled with this idea, but they eventually agreed to it. But once they left, he seemed to forget all about them, his attention focused solely on her. And when his friends called him again later, so he could catch up with them, he forgot they called as soon as his phone was done ringing. They worried about him when he did that, but they could never seem to get a hold of him, even to see if he was still alive.

Eventually, when she decided that she was bored with he city, and wanted to leave for somewhere else ... somewhere warmer ... he went with her. His friends had been completely forgotten at this point, so they received no call or text from him, saying that he was going off somewhere else, and wouldn't be meeting up with them. And eventually, they just gave up, letting him do whatever it was that he planned on doing, because it wasn't as if he seemed to want to do anything with them anymore.

He noticed, only vaguely, that she didn't seem to have any friends. Not that this bothered him, since it only meant that there was more time devoted to him. He wasn't entirely sure why it mattered so much to him what she thought and felt (they barely knew each other), but he was desperate for it. And even while she seemed to enjoy him being around, she still was a bit aloof, still a bit guarded around him.

She had only meant to play with him a bit, and then, toss him back, but something had stopped her. Even after a bit of time, she couldn't figure it out, but she wanted to know what it was that made her do this. So, she kept him around, to try and get a handle on it. But the longer they spent together, and the more places they went together, the more she wanted to be around him (and the thing she couldn't put her finger on, no longer really mattered).

They traveled the world together, going wherever the wind blew them. They didn't care where they went, or where they ended up, as long as they were together. And as time went on, it became love that they both felt for each other; it might not have been the healthiest kind of love, and might have actually have been infatuation mixed with an over-helping of lust, but they both would have told you that the love was there. If you had asked his friends, however, they would have told you that he had lost his mind, and he was going to be found floating in a river somewhere; adding that they only hoped that he had his ID on him, so that they would know that it was him.

When the two of them were in some little town in Romania that neither of them had checked the name of, she had gone down to get them something to eat, and he had stayed in the room they had rented. It wasn't long after she left that he started to notice the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up, and he began to feel like he was being watched. He tried to dismiss the eerie feeling, because he knew that he was alone, and there wasn't anywhere that anyone could've been peeking through a window. He tried to convince himself that It was only his imagination playing tricks on him, because they had been spending so much time together, and now, she was out doing something without him. He felt stupid, since he knew that she would be right back, and it wasn’t as if he was going to be alone for long.

But then, he turned, and nearly screamed. He had suddenly, and literally came face to face with the reason why he felt like he was being watched ... because he was. Standing a few feet from him was a beautifully grim man.

"You shouldn't be here with her, little brother," the strange man said. "You shouldn't be anywhere with her."

"What are you talking about?" Noel asked, still a little too startled to think right, "and who are you?"

"I am Raphael, an angel of the LORD."

"And why shouldn't I be here with Falen? This seems like a nice enough place to visit."

"That's not what I mean," Raphael said, taking a step closer. "Don't you know what she is?"

"What she is?" Noel asked, anger starting to mix in with his confusion. "She's my girlfriend, is what she is."

"And she really shouldn't be. She is a cambion."

"What are you talking about?" Noel asked, not entirely sure that he wanted to know, or if he should be standing so near the crazy man.

"I am not crazy," Raphael said, "regardless of what you may think."

"You don't know what I think."

"Actually, I do. I am an angel, boy, and I can hear everything that's in your mind. You were just thinking that you wanted to get away from me, because you think I'm crazy, but the thing is that I'm not. I am very sane. And I know that she is a cambion, and you are a Nephilim. I'm also quite sure that she was different than anyone you’d ever met, even if you didn't know what she was. That was just your angel half recognizing her demon half.”"

"My angel half recognizing ... you really are insane."

"No, I'm not. What I’m telling you is very true, and you know it deep within yourself, but you just don’t want to admit it yet."

"There is nothing to admit, because what you are suggesting isn't possible, and I really think that you need to leave."

"I'm trying to help you."

"No, you're not. You're trying to get me to call the police."

"If this is the way that you want it, then, that's the way it will be. Just remember that I warned you."

"Yes," Noel said dryly. "I'll keep that in mind."

"And I'll still come if you need me to."

"You really are chatty, aren't you?"

Noel blinked then, and the man calling himself Raphael was suddenly gone. He sat himself down, slightly stunned, on the bed. Raphael had suddenly appeared, held a conversation with him, and just as suddenly disappeared. There was no way that he could escape it ... he had gone crazy. Maybe there had been something in the water he had drunk. You were always hearing about how you shouldn't drink the water when you travel. And even if he didn't drink the water, who knows how much he had taken in through the food that he had eaten. That had to be it: there was something in the water that was making him hallucinate. Maybe it was like the Merry Pranksters putting LSD into it ... but then, he would've heard of more people having a reaction, he was sure. It had to be nothing more than his system being unaccustomed to whatever was in there, while at the same time be saturated with it. He wondered if he should go to the doctor, but he still had a bias towards Western doctors and Western medicine.

But what had been said stuck with him, and he couldn’t shake it off. A part of him almost felt like there was some truth to it, regardless of how insane it had call sounded.

There really must be something wrong, he thought, if I'm actually considering the merit of something said by a hallucination.

He shook his head and ran his hands over his face. He sprawled himself across the bed then, determined that he get some sleep. Maybe the sleep would clear the fog out of his mind that he hadn't realized that he had.

****


Falen had said she was going to the market, and eventually, she would; she just had a stop to make first. She didn't know exactly where she was going, but she knew the baring; so, no matter which way the streets turned, she always knew which direction she wanted to go.

As far as what she was heading toward, she knew that, too ... well, it wasn't so much a what, as a whom. Her father was in the city, and he wanted to speak with her, of that much she was entirely positive. What it was that he wanted to discuss, she wasn't so sure of, and would have to wait until she saw him. It had been a long time since she had tried to guess what it was that would be on his mind, because the wondering always drove her a bit crazy, and she never seemed to be able to put her finger on whatever it was. Better to go without worrying about it on the way, and just deal with whatever it was, when she got there.

After wondering for some time, she came upon a restaurant that seemed to be catered for tourists, and found him sitting by the window, reading a newspaper. She stopped and tapped on the glass. He looked toward her, put down his paper, and motioned for her to come inside. When she got there, and to where he was sitting, the paper was folded neatly in front of him, and he was taking a sop of coffee.

"Do you have any idea of what you're doing?" her father asked her.

"I'm not doing anything."

"You are, and you know it."

"Alright, I'll bite ... what am I supposedly doing?"

"That half-angel," he sneered, "you need to get rid of him."

"Why do you still try to tell me about the boogieman?"

"This isn't a joke, Falen."

"Good, because, if it were, it would be failing miserably, Azriel."

"You know that I hate it when you do that. Why do you continue?"

"Mostly just to irritate you."

"Well, stop it. You have more important things to worry about."

"Such as this supposed half-angel?"

"Why is it so hard to believe? You are half a demon."

"Has anyone actually seen one? Has anyone seen an angel in over a thousand years? And these half-angels, these Nephilim, there are stories of them from before the Flood, but has anyone actually seen one? Ever?"

"I have."

"Really? When?"

"Goliath ... and this little boyfriend of yours."

"You saw Goliath?"

"Yes, and I spoke to him."”

"So, you spoke with someone whose growth hormones didn't turn off until he toward over everyone else, and that's supposed to make me think that he had a heavenly parent? That's like basing a system of government on the fact that you got a magic sword from some watery tart."

"Really, Falen—-"

"And if we're supposed to believe the stories about Nephilim, then, there are probably a few basketball players that could be candidates. Noel hardly fits the mean giant criteria."

"Just because you've heard half-remembered stories and legends, doesn't mean that you are suddenly an expert on the subject."

"And just because you've existed for a few millennia doesn't make you an expert on everything."

"I don't claim to know everything, but I do recognize heavenly markers when I see and smell them, and that boy reeks of them. I don't even have to be on the same side of the town as him to catch a whiff of them. You can’t honestly tell me that you haven’t recognized it in him as well."

She didn't answer right away, knowing that she had recognized something in him, even if she had never really been sure of what it had been. What if Azriel had been right? What if that's actually what she was seeing in Noel? Then, she shook her head, because it was just too absurd that there would be any angels, or half-angels out there. And when she looked back at Azriel, he was grinning broadly at her.

"You see?" Azriel said. "You know that it's true."

"I know no such thing. And I'm getting bored of this whole thing."

She got up from where she sad, and turned toward the door.

"That's right," Azriel called after her, "run away from me when it starts to get a little bit uncomfortable, when you should be running away from him."

She didn't respond, and only continued on her way, wanting to get as far away from her father as she could manage.

****


On some hilltop, somewhere in the world, Raphael waited. And he waited.

He had just been to see the boy, and was now waiting for Azriel to show, and tell him how the meeting went with the girl. He hoped that their common goal would somehow be achieved by one of them, but at this point, he doubted that the seeds they had planted would come to fruition for some time ... if at all. That couldn’t stop them, however, because the alternative was too disturbing for both sides.

And then, he smelled it.

"Hello, Azriel," he said, turning his head a bit to the left.

"Raphael," Azriel said, nodding toward him. "How did it go?"

"Not very well. I don't think he will believe what he is for some time, if he ever really will."

"What a coincidence. My daughter doesn't believe that the boy is one of your lot, either."

"Well, if what we fear will happen, actually does ... I think they may both be more wiling to accept what's happening. Though, at that point, everything will become moot."

"I am not sure that my daughter will listen to anything that I have to say. Perhaps you can come and put the fear of ... him into her. After all, she thinks that your kind is something out of fairy stories. It might do her well to suddenly find herself face-to-face with one of you."

"And besides scaring her, which seems to be your plan, she may very well believe that the boy is one of us."

"Who wants to scare her?" Azriel said, pretending to be shocked by the idea, but doing it so over the top that he knew no one would believe him. "It is as you say: seeing you will only help her along the way toward believing about the boy."

"Can you get her along again, so that I can speak with her?"

"Why not just come to them both at the same time?"”

"We've discussed this. It is better to explain these things to them separately. That way, they are less likely to panic, and they will perhaps be a little more willing to listen to what we have to say. Together, there is much more of a chance that they will bond a little bit more, and work against us as a united front. And that is what we are working against."

"Well ... not ultimately."

"No, not ultimately, but them being more united will only make our work that much harder."”

"You do have a point."

"Of course, I do."

"I don't think that I'll be able to get her to wander away from him, at least not for a while. If you want to do it in the near future, you're just going to have to watch her, and wait for a moment for her to it of her own accord."

"You know, you're not exactly being very helpful. If your side really wants this to not happen as much as we do, I would think that you'd be more willing to help."

"I am only thinking of what will be the best course of action, the one that has the best chance of succeeding. If I call her to myself again, so soon after already doing it, she will not come. You have not met her, she is willful."”

"Ah, then, she really is a child of a demon."

"There's no need to get nasty about it."

Raphael stared at him blankly, and Azriel had the sudden desire to see how close he could get to poking Raphael in the eye. He almost lifted his hand, but Raphael seemed to sense that something was coming, and shifted.

"How should I broach the subject with her?" Raphael asked. "What is the best way to make her believe me?"

"Over the top."

"What?"

"Come down full of the 'righteous indignation' that you all seem to be so good at, covered in angelic fire, your sword out and aflame."

"That will really work?" Raphael asked skeptically.

"It wouldn't hurt."

"And she wouldn't just think that I'm one of you, trying to pull a prank on her?"

"Oh, I'm sure that will be her first thought, but there's only so much that she will be able to deny. Eventually, she will have to concede that she really is seeing what she is seeing."

"So, if I overload her with information, and keep bombarding her with it ..."

"Eventually, she will see the truth of it."

"If you think that is wise."

"I do. And what of the boy?"

"If I am going to put the fear of God into her, perhaps you should put the fear of Lucifer into him ... force him to defend himself."

"You want me to attack him?"

"No, not attack. Just scare him into defending himself."

"Be bait?"

"Yes. Oh, don't look so scared. You'll be fine."

"That's easy for you to say."

"And when he uses his angelic abilities, he will see what he is."

"But what if he doesn't use them? He thinks that he is only human, and it's entirely possible that he won't access them, even to protect himself."

"It is possible, but if you can get him to, that could save us a lot of effort in the long run."

"And while we're at it, what if none of this works at all? What if we are not able to stop it from happening?"

"We have plans for that contingency."

"Which would be?"

"You really expect me," Raphael said, his pompous angel nature going into overdrive, "to give you the details of any of our plans from above?"

"You could, if you really wanted to. It would be ever so helpful to know some of these details. We could help you with it."

"That's not likely. Knowing your kind, you'd start off helping us, and then, either get distracted, or decide that you had your own plans that you wanted to fulfill."

"It pains me, what little faith you have in us."

"I am not having that discussion with you again. You already have all of the reasons why I do not have faith in you, and none of those reasons have changed."

"If you don't trust me, then, why bother having me help you at all?"

"Because, for the moment, I do think that our goals are parallel with each other. It is only later, when you rethink things and change your mind that makes me worry."

"You cut me to the quick. Truly."

"Hardly. We'll meet again, once we have both tried out our new plan. With luck, this time it will work out."

"I thought that your lot didn't believe in luck."

Raphael looked blankly at Azriel, before turning, and fading into nothing as he walked.

"No sense of humor ... any of them."

And with a pillar of smoke, and a quick smell of sulfur, he too was gone.

****


Noel was still lying on the bed when Falen returned. Neither of them admitted to the meetings that they had had, and seemed content to pretend that everything was as it should be. And the fact that she had been gone for so long, much longer than what she should have been for what little she brought back, didn't even cross his mind. The appearance of Raphael was still rattling around too much in his thoughts, as was the desire to try to explain him way, or for him to be able to put everything together.

He didn't sleep well that night, even after eating until he was pleasantly full, and he started snuggling Falen. There were still too many things on his mind ... like the fact that he had just had a pretty vivid hallucination, for someone who'd never had one before, and didn’t have a family history of them. Or at least, he didn’t have a family history, as far as he knew.

He had never known his father, which hadn't been a problem ... until his mother had remarried, and he had gained a half-brother, and –sister; and in the process, he had found himself the odd man out, when he hadn't been paying attention. And he supposed that was the reason why he had started traveling in the first place: to get away from that feeling of being excluded.

But even if he had never known his father, and could never get his mother to talk about him (even before his step-father had arrived), he knew of no on in his mother's family to have any mental issues. Maybe he was the first, because even if they didn't talk about it, if someone else had, he was sure that he would still know about it. When his uncle had an affair, or when a cousin started buying things as though he had suddenly come into a lot of money, no one talked about it; still, everyone knew about the other man, and everyone had a theory of where all that money had come from. It was hard to hide something like that in a family, especially since everyone paid attention to everyone else.

He considered that he might want to go back home. Maybe going to see a doctor was a good idea. At least, that way he would be able to get some tests done, and maybe get some answers. That would be a sight better than driving himself crazy with the constant wondering. So, he decided that he would go to the doctor as soon as they got back home. If it didn’t happen again, then, there would be no need to go (regardless of how realistic it had seemed at the time), since had only happened that one time.

Yes, he would be fine, or at least he was now going to try and talk himself into it. No one in his family had, and it was only he once. There was a perfectly logical, and rational explanation for what had happened; he just wasn’t sure what it was yet.

****


She was slightly agitated when she had come back, but then, so was he. He seemed to be a bit more clingy than normal, but that may have just been because she had been away for longer than she had intended. She loved him, but he did seem to need to be close a bit more than she did.

They talked through dinner, and for a while after. She would have steered the conversation carefully away from the events of the day, if he had asked about them ... but he didn't. And that night, when they went to bed, they both lay awake uneasily, neither of them seeming to want to go to sleep.

She was too lost in her own thoughts to pay too much attention to his restlessness, even though hers was caused by something said about him. So, she lay snuggled with him, and didn't sleep.

She knew that her father had something up his sleeve, as he usually did. What made her rather nervous was that she didn't know what it was that he was up to. What did it matter to her father who she was seeing? He had never cared who she had been dating before, so this sudden story about angels made no sense. And it made even less sense when you considered the fact that he had always made her think that angels were nothing more than a figment of humanity's imagination, and their desire for something benevolent that was larger than themselves. He couldn't expect her to suddenly go from skepticism, to true believer. They were just too far away from each other on the spectrum of belief for her to easily go from one to the other.

But she also wondered if what he said was true. She was a true believer in her own way, she knew that, if you counted her disbelief in that manner. While she had never thought that they were real, wouldn't she be just as bad as the zealots who insisted on their existence, if she insisted on their non-existence? She had always had a great amount of disdain for those who were so narrow-minded in their beliefs that they couldn't entertain the possibility of anything else. So, she wondered if there could really be angels, and if Noel could have been sired by one.

The question then became, how would she have been able to tell? Even if she would not be able to trust everything that her father said, there were often times a grain or two of truth (and it was only a question of figuring out which bits were the true ones). She tried to remember back to the stories that he had told her when she was a child. The angels in them were beautiful, imbibed with powers, they could see into the hearts and minds of humans, and they were celestial hitmen. It was quite possible that the information she had gotten from him was a bit skewed. She had witnessed several demons look into a human, and pull out all of their fears and misdeeds (even those on the lower level could do that), so it was quite possible that angels could pull out hopes. That could also account for the supposed power they had, even if he had made it sound as if their power was something else entirely, as though it came from being in the presence of God. So, maybe, when he said power, he actually meant might. As far as them being hitmen, of course a demon is going to call them things like that. Demons may be what goes bump in the night for many humans, but angels were what goes bump in the daylight for demons. Of course, anyone who told her a story was going to make them seem much scarier, out of their own fear. And as far as them being beautiful, well, that was just subjective, wasn't it?

Was there anything about Noel that would have given him away as one of those boogiemen? She had never seen anything to indicate that he was anything other than human. There was that connection that she felt almost right away, but lots of people had talked about that. And more often than not, in those cases, it was nothing more than pheromones messing about with people's minds. Of course, most of those lemming thought that those chemicals, and the desire to mate were anything more than what they were. Sorry little meatbags.

Wait ... what was she thinking about again?

Oh, yeah ...

Noel. He had never made her think that he was anything more than human, not that that really meant much; it wasn't as though she advertised to people what she was. Sure, some of them would be scared and try to exorcise her from herself, and others would be scared and try to do experiments on her. If she were lucky, they would only be scared that she was violent, as well as crazy, and try to get away from her as quickly as possible .. . without calling the police.

Maybe he was something other than wholly human, and was too frightened, or too smart to tell anyone. If he hadn't told her yet, she couldn't really fault him that; it wasn't as though she had told him anything yet. And there was still the possibility that he didn't know what he was, that he thought that he was only human. He wouldn’t be able to tell her what he didn't now, so there was no faulting him if that were the case.

And if he were a Nephilim, what angelic traits would he have taken on, if he had taken on any? She tried to think harder, tried to remember if anything had seemed out of the ordinary. But the harder she tried, the more impossible it seemed to think of anything. Maybe she should just ask him, that would clear up a lot in a hurry ... provided that he told her the truth, if he even knew it. And what if she asked him and that only made him angry?

Then, she stopped. This was probably exactly what her father had been after: to drive her crazy, and drive her away from Noel. She still wasn't sure how her father could hate Noel, since the two had never met, and her father hadn't been anywhere near Noel since she had started seeing him. Yes, he was only trying to rattle her chain. She was sure of it.

After that, she calmed considerably. She wasn't going to let him ruin her night, or the following day, or her relationship. If she did, she would only end up unhappy and alone. There was no sense in letting him win, in this round, or in the larger sense.

And once she decided that, her mind settled, and she was able to sleep.

****


A week passed, and then, a month, and nothing happened. Neither Falen, nor Noel had seen either of their supernatural visitors. But that didn't stop either of them continuing to have the thoughts the angel and demon had placed in their heads. Those thoughts continued to remain in the back, regardless of how they tried to pretend that it wasn't, or convince themselves that nothing that had been said was true (or that they even mattered). Neither of them really believed that Noel was a Nephilim, but those lingering doubts still rattled around in their heads. And neither had seen or experienced Noel doing anything that could remotely be considered angelic.

On top of that, even though they hadn't seen Azriel or Raphael since that day, Falen still had the feeling that they were being followed and watched. She knew that it wasn't her father, the feeling wasn't the same. And it didn’t seem like any demon she had ever encountered before. She was tempted to go looking for whoever it was, but without knowing who it might be, she didn't want to take any chances. Nothing good would come from going to look, without having any sort of information on who she might find. She considered asking her father if he could tell who or what, it was, but she didn't entirely trust the answer he would've given her. For all she knew, he would just say that it was an angel following them around, which she still had no intention in believing. She wasn’t a child, and she wasn't an idiot.

But she did find herself wanting to stay close to Noel, to not leave him alone with the possibility of danger lurking about. She had seen what had happened to hosts during possessions. It wasn't pretty, for the ones they only wanted to torture, or the ones they wanted to do something for them. And that was counting on if this thing was anything like a demon. There were plenty of creepy-crawly dark thing that roamed the earth, and who didn't originally come from Hell; humans, for example. They did truly awful things to each other all the time; and it was arguable whether any of them had ever been to, or originated from Hell.

But after another month of being followed around, Falen started to get testy. She started snapping at Noel, and then, would hurriedly apologize, telling him that it wasn't his fault.

And then, finally, one day she said she needed an afternoon to herself. Taking a few of her things, she walked out the door, and went looking for whoever it was who had been following them around.

****


Azriel saw her leave, and it was about time, too. The angel had been broadcasting his presence so loudly, for so long, it was driving him crazy; and he could only imagine that it was driving her insane as well. But at least she had finally went to go looking for him, because that left him alone with Noel.

After making sure that she was well on her way, Azriel creped into the place where they had been staying. It didn't take him long to find the boy, the place they were staying was too small to really need to be searched for longer than three seconds to find whatever it was you were looking for.

He found the boy sitting at a small table, looking out the window onto the street below, drinking what looked like an incredibly weak coffee. He looked so peaceful sitting there, lost in thought, and Azriel could have none of that. You got peace when you were dead, and sometimes not even then.

What to do first? It almost seemed unsporting to come on the boy like this, and trick him into using his powers. But he was a demon, and the boy was half an angel, so he didn't feel too bad about it.

He made the whole room shake around them, knocking things to the ground with his very thought. The room was filled with an almost deafening sound of rumbling and crashing. Nothing else was effected in the entire building, or in the whole of the city; only this room.

In the midst of the shaking, Noel was able to see outside, and see that no one on the street was trying to compensate for what was happening. And when the shaking started to get even stronger, he started to panic. He tried to make it to a doorway, to get some sort of protection, but every time he tried to take a step, there was a violent lurch, and he was knocked to the ground. He was sure that something was going to fall on top of him, and give him some sort of massive injuries (if it didn't kill him). And he ended up in the middle of the floor, with nothing to protect him, feeling completely vulnerable, and unable to do anything about it.

Then, just as suddenly, the shaking stopped. Noel looked around the room, bewildered, unable to see the demon that was standing directly in front of him, and whose feet he was nearly touching.

Noel started to get up, moving slowly to his feet, as though he were afraid that it was all going to start happening again. And when he finally stood upright, he felt a hand firmly push him on either shoulder. Immediately, he lost his balance and fell backwards. He landed hard on his elbows and back, knocking his head against the floor.

Pushing himself up into a sitting position, he rubbed his head, and looked around the room for whatever it was that had knocked him down. But there was nothing. He was sure that he had felt hands on him, but he didn't see anything that could have felt like hands (they had a very distinctive feel after all). So, he started to get back to his feet, sure that he was imagining things again, and deciding that maybe it would be a good idea to head back home to see a doctor. But before he could really begin to get up, he felt as though he had been kicked in the face.

His head slammed back against the floor, and he could feel blood welling up in his nose. His hand came up to his face, and he touched his nose gingerly. There was a shock of sudden pain, and he was sure that it was broken, which made no sense. There was no one and nothing anywhere near him that could have done it.

He rolled over, not wanting the blood to pool in the back of his throat. He touched his nose gently with both hands, thinking that he might try to put it back into place. But as the pain shot through it again, he remembered that he had only ever seen that done in the movies, and had no real world experience in doing it. So, the idea of doing it himself quickly left him. And gradually, it was replaced by the fact that if he continued to lay there, he was going to get blood all over the floor, which he didn't want to have to clean up later.

He started to get back up again, and stopped. Twice he had been knocked to the ground by something he could see. Perhaps there was another way of getting what he wanted, but damned if he knew what it was.

"You're learning," he heard a voice say behind him. "You should use the lessons you're learning here in other parts of your life."

"And what lesson would that be?" Noel asked.

"To be weary of what's around you. Now, if you could just apply that lesson to the rest of your life ..."

"What do you mean?" Noel asked, wanting to roll back over and see whoever it was that was speaking to him, but not wanting to get kicked in the face again. But he figured that if he was hallucinating again, there really wasn't much point of getting the visual along with the auditory; a hallucination was still one, regardless of how many senses you captured it with.

But then, there was no answer to his question, and that confused him enough to almost make him roll over to look. But he didn't. He stayed where he was for a couple more heartbeats, trying to steady his breathing, and block the blood from his nose.

Then, there was the sound of footsteps, and the rattle of keys, before he heard the deadbolt unlock. The door opened, and he heard footfalls coming near him.

"Noel?" Falen asked, concern filling her voice. "Are you alright?"

"Don't be frightened," he said calmly.

"Noel ... what shouldn't I worry about?" There was a tinge of fear in her voice as she came closer to him, but he didn't move. "Tell me what's going on."

He still didn't say anything; he still didn't move. He was too afraid that if he did, it would only provoke the owner of the voice to hurt him more, or worse ... to hurt her. He thought that maybe, if he just stayed still, his hallucination wouldn't do anything more, and she would be safe. But even as he thought it, he knew that it was completely ridiculous. There was no way that his hallucination could hurt her, even if it had hurt him. Well, it couldn't hurt her as long as he didn't let it.

He lifted his head, and he glanced around the room. That's when he saw that there was no mess, that everything was exactly where it should have been, and it looked as though nothing had happened when she was gone. He couldn't understand what had happened. Everything had been thrashed only moments before, and he couldn't understand how it could have gone back to normal.

"Noel, please tell me what's going on. You're scaring me."

"I ... I don't know. I think that I may be going crazy."

"Is that why you're down on the floor?"

"No, I ..." He looked at her as she knelt down beside him.

"Why are you holding your nose?"

"Because it's broken."

"What are you talking about?"

"While you were gone, I ... had an accident, and I broke my nose."

"You really are going crazy, aren't you?"

"Why do you say that?"

"Because there's nothing wrong with your nose. You're holding onto it, but it looks perfectly fine to me."

That's when he noticed that there was no longer any pain, and there was no longer any blood. It was as though none of it had ever happened, and he felt as though there were a million ants crawling around inside his chest. He had seen it all, the mess and the blood, and he knew it ha been there. What could he trust, if he couldn't trust his own senses? But then, he remembered that he couldn't trust them, and that was the problem. As real as so much of it had seemed, he must have imagined it. There was no other explanation for any of it.

"No, I'm alright," he said, smiling at her weakly. "I must have just dozed off."

"Dozed off? In the middle of the floor?"

"Yeah, the bed was too ... well, I just felt like sleeping on the floor. You must have just caught me in the middle of a dream."

"Right," she said skeptically, as she came to her feet, "a dream. Well, if you're going to continue to nap, why don't you take it to the bed, so that you're not under foot?"

****


It wasn't long after she left, looking for whoever was following them, that Falen suddenly got a whiff of her father coming from the direction that she had just come from. She stopped, standing in front of several people, and letting them bump into her, wondering if she should go back. She wanted to know who had been stalking them, but she didn't want to take the chance that her father was messing about with Noel. There were too many things that her father could do or say to him, and she wanted to none of that.

But which could she put off until later, and which needed to be done now. There was a chance that whoever had been following them would continue, so she could go looking again at a later date. And there was also a chance that her father would try to harm Noel, since she wasn't there; she certainly wouldn't put it past him. It was driving her crazy being followed, but she didn’t want something bad to happen to him, not if she could feasibly stop it.

So, she turned around, and headed back the way she had come. She half-hoped that she would find her father there, so that she could ream into him for interfering with her life. But at the same time, she really didn't want him to be there at all. Having to explain to Noel what she was was not going to be a pleasant experience, and she wasn't looking forward to it.
When she got back to where they were staying, she could smell her father from outside the building. And when she got to their floor, she was sure that he was in their room. But when she opened the door, Noel was sprawled across the floor, and her father was nowhere to be found. She worried for a moment that her father had done something to him, but he seemed to be perfectly fine ... except that he was on the floor for no reason that she could discern. But then, she started talking to him, and she wondered if her father hadn't done something. It may not have been anything physical, but the mental stuff could be just as damaging.

She suggested that he go sleep in the other room, and when he did, she contemplated whether she should summon her father, like he had done to her so many times. After a few moments, she decided and went quietly into the hall, closing the door behind her.

"Father," she called out through clenched teeth. "Come here, I need to speak with you." Nothing happened at first. "Father! Now!"

Coming toward her, down the hall at a saunter, her father materialized in front of her. He had one hand in his pocket, and one hand held palm upward as he rubbed his thumb against the index and middle fingers, and a smug smile on his face.

"Falen, my dear, was there something you needed?"

"Yes, I need to know why you've been trying to harm Noel."

"Trying to harm him? I've done no such thing. He's quite fine."

"Done nothing? I know that you were here while was gone, and I know that whatever you did, it had him freaking out in there."

"Oh, all he needs is a nap, and h'ell be back to the normal, boring boy that you've been dragging around with you."

"You're going to leave him alone."

"Falen—-"

"No. You are going to leave him alone. There is no such thing as angels, and you need to drop this insanity that he could ever actually be one."

"No angels? Really? Then, what do you think has been following after you?"

"I don't know what it was, but that doesn't mean that it's the boogieman."

"Really? Then, why don't you prove it? I'm sure that he'll let you find him, and then, you can find out for yourself."

"Let me find him? What exactly do you know about who that is?"

"Oh, nothing, I'm quite sure."

"Father, you will leave us both alone. I don't want you interfering, and running him off."

"Why would I do that? I only want to see you happy."

"Yes, by your definition of happy. You have never cared about what I want, or what would make me happy outside of your own plans and desires."

"That's not true. I have only ever wanted what is best for you, no matter what that means for me."

"Really? And what about Budapest? Or Hamburg? Or Transylvania?"

"Alright, alright," he said, waving away her arguments. "There's no need in throwing all that in my face again. I thought that we agreed to move forward, and not keep holding onto things that happened in the past."

"No, you agreed," she said, pointing at him, "because you were tired of hearing about it, and didn't want to take accountability for anything you've done."

"What is with all of this pent up hostility? You act as though I've never done anything for you."

"You have done things for me, but they cause more grief than they are worth, and I want no part in any of it. I would appreciate it if you would just leave us alone."

"Really?"

"Yes, really."

"Alright, but don’t forget later that this is what you wanted, and this is what you asked me to do."

"Stop being so melodramatic, and just go."

He faded into nothing, faded from all of her senses, and she only hoped that he had actually meant what he had said, and he would leave them alone. If he didn't, she was going to be very upset.

****


He still watched them. He was only more careful about getting caught doing it now. There was too much invested for him to just walk away completely, as though it didn’t matter what the two of them were doing. Of course it mattered.

He would wait until the next time she went out, a little longer before she could manage to get a whiff of him, and then, the boy was toast.

****


A year passed, and they found themselves back in the States. In that time, her father had kept his word and not bothered them; though, she conceded that may have been more to do with the fact that she didn’t really let Noel out of her sight, than with her father promising to let them be. Either way, she was glad for this, since they had found out a few months prior that she was pregnant.

In the beginning, she wasn't sure that she had wanted to keep it, but Noel had seemed so excited by the news that her mind had been made up. And he had been so desperate that the baby know his family that she had agreed to go back home with him. She was uneasy at first, having all of these new people in her life that she didn't know, and she didn't trust, but it lessened, even if it didn't go completely away. She knew that she would never be able to tell them what she was, and so a huge part of her life would have to be kept hidden from them. And there was a dull fear, and a quiet whisper in the back of her mind that worried that the child would not be able to pass as completely human. It wasn't that she necessarily thought that the child would look somehow inhuman, but she did worry that he would manifest abilities that she wouldn't be able to explain away to Noel, or his family. She wasn't sure what exactly she would do about that. It would probably come down to a choice between Noel and the child. Now, she would choose Noel, but later ... after the baby had been there for a time, and she had means and opportunity to bond ... she just might choose the child, regardless of the danger.

She went in for alternative medicine, not wanting the baby to raise any alarms on an ultrasound, just in case. She went and saw people who claimed to be sensitive, and people who actually were. If there was anything about the child that wasn't right, that could be sensed now, she would prefer knowing about it now. She had no idea what she would've done, if any of them had actually picked up on anything, and was glad when they didn't.

Those months passed quickly, far more quickly than she would have imagined. So much of it was just a blur of trying to ease her mind that it went insanely fast. And in all the motion, she didn't really notice the change in Noel.

****


He had wanted the baby as soon as she had told him about it. He had been ecstatic about it when she had told him, already picturing himself with a son. His mind was filled with father and son clichés almost instantly: sports of every kind, roughhousing, and eventually, sharing a beer together. But even if the baby was a girl, he knew he would be just as excited, because he knew his daughter would own him. That really wasn’t even a question in his mind.

And for a while he was truly happy, because whatever had happened to him when he was abroad that had caused him to hallucinated, had not continued. In fact, he would almost have said that pretty much as soon as Falen had gotten pregnant, he had stopped living in fear that it would happen again (since the peace had actually come upon him before he had ever known about the baby). He thought that was strange, but he didn't think much of it ... not until he started to feel like he was beginning to become aware of the baby.

He didn't feel like he could tell the gender, or even if the baby was having any sort of thoughts yet. But he would be able to tell you that he was sure that not only was it aware of what was happening outside the womb, but it was also reaching out to him. It took him some time to even realize what was going on, and a little bit more to even admit to himself that he was actually experiencing what he was. In the beginning, he didn't even want to admit to himself that he could hear his child, no matter how sure he was that that was what was happening.

But then, very suddenly on day, near the end of the pregnancy, he became acutely aware that he had not been hallucinating when he was in Europe, and he wasn't hallucinating now. For some reason that he couldn't put his finger on, he felt as though his senses had exploded, and he was able to hear, see and smell more than he ever could before. And was sure that he had started to be able to anticipate what people were going to do, with more than a fair share of accuracy; and it didn't matter who it was, as it seemed to also work with people he didn't know.

And one day, he was sitting next to her, his hands on her belly, and everything seemed to fall into place. He became more aware of her than he had ever been before, and knew that she was half a demon just as he suddenly realized that he had been told the truth about himself. He also knew that their child was something utterly unique, was completely unlike anything that had existed before. There was power in this child like there had never been in anything before, because no one had ever before straddled the three worlds. And the reason why he had not seen the angel or (what he assumed was) the demon again since his first visit from them was that the baby was making the three of them unlocatable.

Somehow, through its own natural defenses, it had caused itself to become invisible to any outside force that it perceived as a threat. And as an extension of that, both he and Falen had been put under whatever protective field the baby was using on itself. A sudden fear struck him then, with that realization: what if he got so far away from his child that the protective cover was no longer over him. The kind of power his child already had, in the womb, could feasibly make him a danger to anyone who wanted to use him as a weapon; and if someone came to him looking for it, Noel wasn't sure how long he could last under questioning. He would love to be able to say immediately, and without any doubt, that he would die before he gave away any information. But the truth was that he just didn't know. He had never been in a situation where he had been seriously questioned, and didn't know how he would fare. Besides which, if he was dealing with questioners that could freely roam through his mind, he may give away something without meaning to.

Then, when he thought about things a little bit more, he realized that while he could tell that Falen as there, he couldn't perceive her as clearly as he could other people. It was as though her edges were smudged, and it made his head hurt to concentrate on trying to make her more defined. He wondered what that could mean, hoping that it was only her proximity to the baby, but fearing that it could mean something more.

What had he gotten himself into?

****


"What do you mean, you've lost track of them?"

"Exactly that. We have no idea where they are."

"You're an angel! Aren't you people supposed to know everything everyone does? Isn't everything everyone does supposed to end up on some sort of master list?"

"Oh, don't give me that. We aren't Santa. And from what I understand, you all are supposed to have your own master lists. How is it that you don’t know where he is?"

"Do you really think that those of us in the trenches are told everything by our superiors?"

"Do you really think that I believe for a second that you don't know something? That you don't have some sort of trick up your sleeve?"

"The sarcasm is unneeded. And besides, one of them is your daughter. Shouldn't you be able to have a few tricks concerning how to find her?"

"Of course, I do."

"Well?"

"Don't you think that I've already tried? Or do you really believe that I wouldn't?"

"You might ... if you hated Heaven enough."

"We have just as much to loose by all of this as you do."

"Really? You're comparing the loss of your life in Hell, with an angel's loss of their life in Heaven?"

"We were all of us angels once."

"Oh, don't give me that. Whatever part of you that was once angelic, was burned away long ago."

"That doesn't mean that I still don't have my origins footed firmly in Heaven."

"That may be so, but it has been some time since you could be counted amongst the Host."

"Details," Azriel said with a wave of his hand. "Mere details. And you will not distract me from the fact that you have absolutely no idea where they are."

"Well, neither do you."

They both stood, staring daggers at each other. Neither of them wanting to concede to failure, or explain what had happened to their superiors.

"Do you thin," Azriel said, "this means that the child has been conceived, and that is why we can no longer locate them?"

"It is quite possible."

"So, what are we going to do to remedy the situation? We've got to fix things before the higher-ups find out that we've botched the whole situation."

"You know, she is your daughter. You should be able to handle her."

"Just because I am her father, does not mean that I am in control of her. She isn't part of the legion. She is independent of us."

"She is still half a demon, and your daughter."

"Really? Then, by that logic, you should have been able to handle the boy. He is, after all, half an angel, and your younger brother. Why didn't you keep him in check? If you had, all of this could have been avoided."

Raphael was silent for a moment, his brow creasing in thought.

"It has been harder to convince him of his birthright than we originally anticipated."

"Perhaps, you should have started with him early, instead of springing the information on him when he was already grown."

"Thank you for your astute, fatherly advice. Coming from someone who is so obviously an amazing model of fatherhood, it really means a lot."

"Don't you give me that. If we don't find them, you'll be in as much trouble as I will."

"If we don't find them, I don't really think that we'll have to worry about getting into trouble."

****


He could hear his father and his mother; they were both so very clear in his mind. There was an almost indifferent acceptance from his mother, but there was love from his father (even if his father was terrified by what was happening to him).

He could also hear the buzzing that was around them; the buzzing of people that were looking for him. Well, they weren't exactly people, where they? Even now, he was sure of that much. Sure, they were similar to him, but they weren't people. Not even his parents were wholly people; no, they had bits of the others in them.

Even if he wasn't entirely sure what they were, or what he was, he knew that he didn't want them coming near him. And what better way to make them not come around, than to make himself impossible to find? Oh, yes, that would be perfect. But how? Surely, any magics he used would be detectable by either side, because it would be a combination of both.

But then, what if (since he was neither and both), they wouldn't be able to really pinpoint his location? Since there was a blurring occurring between the three worlds that he startled, and he was simultaneously all and none of them, perhaps they wouldn't be able to detect him. It was certainly worth a try to keep them away from him.

He pushed out his senses, and received the blissful response of silence. No one came crashing down upon their heads, which he had almost feared would happen. But perhaps their reaction wouldn't be so immediate; maybe they would wait to see how things were, before they charged in. That was still a possibility, he was sure; it wasn’t as if he had ever done anything like this before.

Time passed slowly for him; in fact, it seemed to drag along at a mind-numbing rate. But then, he supposed that when you were aware while still in the womb, the months you had to wait to be born would seem like an eternity. It was hard to keep himself occupied, but he did his best. And in the process, he was aware more and more of his father, as though his father was reaching out to him. He knew, even then, that no matter how different he really was, he was still loved completely by at least this one person. It disturbed him slightly that he couldn't really say the same about his mother, but he wasn't overly concerned about that (at least not yet); after all, that was only her nature.

Then, finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the time came to leave his fleshy prison.

****


The pain was blinding. She tried to make a note to herself to never have sex again, because sex was bad. It was very bad.

****


Suddenly, Azriel and Raphael became aware that everything they feared would happen was beginning. And as they looked at each other, the earth shook, and all of their senses were overloaded with white noise.
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