laurabryannan: (OCs)
[personal profile] laurabryannan
Only one more chapter after this! Dylan misses John, but not all is lost. 1837 words, totally worksafe.

Title: Knockin' on Heaven's Door, 25
Theme: Emo techie meets MD, but not all is as it seems.
Rating: M, slash/yaoi

(Previous chapters)

Knockin' on Heaven's Door, 25
by Laura Bryannan

John always wore it on his ring finger, but it needed to live on Dylan's middle one, for fear he'd fling it off his hand otherwise. He'd noticed how his frame seemed slighter than John's even though he was only an inch shorter, but the ring really brought the disparity home. He both loved and hated it, wanting at times to stick it in a drawer so he wouldn't see it on his hand, constantly reminding him of how final it made their parting feel.

It was over. That seemed certain. He was still reeling and numb from the blow. All of his anger and hurt drained away, leaving him more dead than anything else. For weeks he went to work, came home, crashed, had ice cream or potato chips for dinner then went back to work again like a dutiful little robot.

The Terminals welcomed him without recrimination, of course, and since Dylan was sure John would not be there when he opened the door, he could enjoy their company free of happier expectations. Sometimes he wondered what he found so comforting about sitting in a room full of dying people, and finally he decided it was good to have visible evidence of so many worse off than him.

Besides, he felt he had more in common with the Terminals than with the people laughing together in the cafeteria or holding hands as they strolled down the street. He didn't call anybody and nobody called him. Paint it Black became his new theme song, and he even considered actually doing it to his bedroom, but imagining his landlord's wrath and general apathy stayed his hand.

It was the ring that finally lured his heart out of hiding. He hadn't paid much attention to it on John's hand, but considering it was the new constant in his life, he was fascinated by it now. A simple gold band less than a quarter inch wide, it had an uncut but polished green stone set into it. The ring was worn razor thin at the edges and the gold had a patina that suggested it was far from new.

Inside contained an inscription written in an alphabet Dylan couldn't recognize. Even though wear had made the letters barely legible, that wasn't why he couldn't make out the language. He was sure no one would put random squiggles inside a ring, but the writing didn't seem to match anything his web searches turned up, so there was no deciphering it. The mystery and allure of the thing simply increased that much more.

As for the two notes he had in John's beautiful handwriting, he decided they required framing and a suitable shrine-like area in his bedroom. He'd successfully dried the single rose John had left on his desk, which looked nice in a vase next to them, but no picture of his love existed to complete the tableau. Kicking himself for failing to take at least one, he could not understand why it had never occurred to him to do so.

Every afternoon he would wake up, dress while he read John's words, then hang around before work lost in a dream, remembering embraces that made him feel safe and a tender mouth on his, melting his heart. It was John's kisses he missed the most, the way they could communicate such delicious promises without saying a single word. The sex had been hot and even revelatory, but Dylan ached to be held by those strong arms once again, to share in the blissful wordless conversation that was kissing John.

When it came to actual communication, Dylan had no desire to talk to anyone but the Terminals. They weren't going to eye him strangely or laugh behind their hands when he talked about his lover, the angel. He could extol John's virtues or rant to his heart's content against those who took him away, and they continued to listen sympathetically. They were the reward for long, boring hours of coding, their quiet acceptance keeping him sane as he struggled with the feelings of emptiness and loss that never seemed to ease.

One night he heard a voice inside their room as he came to the door and his heart leapt, but it was only a nurse chatting to herself, and thankfully she seemed unconcerned when he stammered, “Uh, heard something. Wondered what was up,” and beat a hasty exit. It was rare to find staff with the Terminals and it unnerved him, making him worry that he could get into trouble if he was ever discovered sitting with them the way he liked to do. His visits became fewer and more cautious as a result, which felt like yet another loss.

So it was with great freakout that he discovered Minty in there one night, sure she could be visiting for only one good reason. Unfortunately he'd simply caught her working, and she had no news of John at all. It had been good to see her, though, as she was warm, friendly and seemed to find him amusing.

Spying the ring, she gasped, “John gave you that?!?”

Gazing at it fondly, Dylan nodded, twirling it round his finger with his thumb – a comforting new habit.

“Well I'll be,” she mused. Pausing long enough for Dylan to look up, he found her waiting for his attention. “John wore that ring when he was human, which means it's over two thousand years old.” Wagging her finger, she seemed almost as disapproving as Raphael. “You better take good care of it, young man.”

The news stunned Dylan, but he managed to remember the rest. “There's writing inside,” he told her. “Do you know what language it might be? It doesn't look Greek or Hebrew.”

“Aramaic, I imagine,” she said.

The only thing Dylan knew about Aramaic was that it was a language from the middle east or Africa or something. “That was his native tongue?” he asked.

“Yes.” Patting his cheek, she smiled. “I must go. It was so nice to see you, Dylan.”

“You too!” he replied. “Thanks for the info.”

“Maybe we'll bump into each other again,” she said on her way out the door.

Her words proved prophetic. Following their initial meeting, he'd find her with the Terminals once or twice a week. Most of the time she was all business, but sometimes she'd seem open to chat. “What did you do before you became an angel?” he asked her once, genuinely curious, hoping to get her talking.

She got all twinkly like his Grandma used to. “Oh, I had a fine life, I must say, and own a great store of memories to savor now that I find myself here. Spirit is funny. When I was human it was the Underground Railroad, but I'm still guiding souls to paradise to this day.”

“So you do what John does,” Dylan decided. “Is that how you met him?”

“He was already here in the U.S. when I showed up,” she said, “and being low on the totem pole, I didn't interact with him much at first. Sweet and unassuming as he is, it took a long time before I realized he was a somebody.”

“A somebody?” Dylan wondered.

“Well, yes,” came the reply. “You know his nickname, don't you?”

Dylan nodded.

“Google it sometime and you'll have an idea of who you're dealing with,” she told him.

“He can't be that Beloved,” Dylan stated firmly.

She gave him a mysterious smile and continued, “Don't think we all rub elbows with the archangels the way he does. I've been doing this for a over a hundred years and have rarely had cause to speak with any of them and, here, you've met them all. Doesn't that seem a little extraordinary?”

Dylan shrugged, still unbelieving. “I didn't know they were archangels when I met them. Everything about this seems so unreal it's hard to pick out any one thing, I guess.” He'd been holding back for fear of chasing her off, but since she seemed in a talkative mood he decided to press his luck. “Have you heard how John is doing?” he asked. “Is he okay?”

She sighed. “He's back to work and happy about that, but he's returned to the Old World and that's where he must remain if he wants to keep in Michael's good graces.” Giving his shoulder a squeeze, she added, “I don't know if it will help, but you're not the only one who misses him.”

Hearing that John was walking around somewhere Dylan wasn't made his heart sink. When John was a disembodied spirit, their worlds could never cross. But if he existed again.... “Is there any way I can call or email him?” Dylan asked. What was halfway around the world in this day and age?

She raised her hand, wincing. “Oh no! Don't you go asking me that.” Taking note of his anguished expression, she added, “I'm sure they have him somewhere with little access to modern technology anyway. Put it out of your mind, child.”

What choice did he have? He never mentioned it to Minty again, but the news brought Dylan some small hope. John was willing to break the rules before, so maybe he would call or write now that he was back on Earth again. But as the weeks droned on without a word, Dylan sank back into his automated self once more. Even bumping into Minty ceased to be exciting, and often made him sad instead, for she was a tangible reminder that John was real, not a figment of his imagination; an actual person he missed very much.

So when he found her bending over a Terminal one night he barely blinked. But as she looked up, he gasped. She had told him once his smile was as golden as a dream come true, and the one on her face definitely fell into that category. “Dylan!” she cried. “There's news! Lord have mercy, I can't believe it!”

He couldn't help but grin back even though he felt wary and confused. “What news?”

“I wish I could say, but its not my story to tell,” she told him. “A car will be waiting for you when your shift ends at seven.” She eyed him up and down, hands on hips. “I just never would have believed it in a million years.”

“It must be good or you wouldn't be smiling like that, right?” Dylan asked, afraid to hope.

“You'll see.” Still twinkling, Minty patted his cheek in her usual way. “Now I'm off before I run my mouth.” She vanished, leaving him with no room to argue and nothing to do but stare at his watch. Three hours till seven. How would he survive?

to be continued
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