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Name: Falling – Chapter 4
Pairing: Matt/Mohinder
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spiritual revisionism? Angels, demons, religion, all battered and abused.
Note: Historical fiction



Mohinder stamps back into his cell. He glares at Elle, lounging on his bed, and plants his hands on his hips. ‘Where have you been?’

She rolls onto her back and clasps her hands onto her belly. ‘Incarnating has made you most irritable, Mohinder.’

‘Perhaps irritability is a natural response to a human form, did you consider that?’ Mohinder asks. ‘It might be that all the work of the demons is completely unnecessary because the simple fact of being human drives them to sin, violence, and destruction.’

‘Humans have the capacity for unimaginable cruelty and astonishing grace,’ Elle says, wagging a finger at him. ‘You haven’t done anything yet but eat too much and squabble with the artist.’

Mohinder lies down on the bed next to her. ‘I feel unwell,’ he says quietly. ‘This being human is more difficult than I thought. I can’t even eat without making myself ill.’

Elle rolls over to face him. ‘It’s your second day, Mohinder; it takes humans years to learn. Some of them never learn completely.’

‘They’re born to it.’

Elle rolls her eyes. ‘Do you envy humans?’

Mohinder shrugs: an easy gesture that feels as though it might convey any amount of complex emotions in the right context. ‘A little.’

‘You’re an angel, Mohinder; you touch the face of the universe and dance in the heavens. You knew your purpose from your first thought. Humans stumble in darkness, terrified of what will come next, with nothing but blind faith to soothe them.’ She smacks his shoulder with his hand. ‘You’ve watched stars born and die. You know the truth that humans only dream about.’

‘They could be told,’ Mohinder says quietly.

‘Urgh!’ Elle presses her palms to her eyes. ‘You know that doing that would destroy the notion of free will.’

‘Angels know. We still fall.’

‘Stop complaining. This is not a punishment.’

Mohinder stares at the ceiling. Humans with their tiny lives, ignorant of everything, and still asked to make a choice they cannot possibly understand. ‘I didn’t mean to complain.’

‘This sulking is very unbecoming,’ she says, poking him in the shoulder. ‘Have you forgotten already what it was like to stand on the bare earth for the first time, to taste, and smell for the first time?’

‘What if I fall?’ Mohinder licks his lips. ‘I could hardly stand to be in the chapel with the artist!’

Elle takes his arm and squeezes it. ‘Falling is a choice, Mohinder. Don’t fall!’

‘Most helpful, thank you.’

‘There’s always forgiveness.’

‘Always?’

‘For the repentant.’ She smiles sweetly. ‘The heavens rejoice when a sinner is saved.’

Mohinder raises his eyebrows.

I rejoice,’ she pouts. ‘What would be the point of free will if everyone thought alike?’

‘Some would thrill to smite demons and humans alike.’

Elle tosses a lock of hair over her shoulder. ‘Forgiveness is not merely for humans and the fallen. It is true that perhaps some of the host have lately grown arrogant and envious.’

‘Some of them think of judgement day with glee!’

Elle kisses his cheek. ‘You worry too much about things you cannot control. Don’t worry about this and try not to worry about falling. You’re too stubborn.’

There is a knock on the door. When Mohinder concentrates he can hear the reverberations throughout the wood, the heartbeats of the woodworms quickening at the vibrations, and the deepening breathing on the young man on the other side of the door.

‘What is it, Luke?’

‘Now you’ve frightened the poor boy,’ Elle says yawning.

‘Father Abbot told me to fetch you for dinner in his private quarters.’

‘I’ll be with you momentarily.’ Mohinder sits up. ‘He’s anxious because Nathan has filled his head with stories about how his sexual drives are inspired by the Rebel!’

Elle tucks a pillow under her head. ‘You must admit it’s creative.’

‘Is that all you have to say?’

She plays with a lock of her hair. ‘I thought monks were supposed to be chaste in any event.’

Mohinder undresses quickly and bathes in cold water. ‘The young man is in distress.’

Elle looks at him. ‘Mohinder, be compassionate as you will but remember that the world is in distress. If you devote yourself to saving every soul you meet then you will never survive.’



Mohinder joins Luke and they walk together through the cold and draughty corridors.

‘Will the artist and his apprentice be eating with the brothers?’

‘Oh no! We wouldn’t eat with a Jew and…’ Luke lowers his voice. ‘I think that they’re unnatural.’

Mohinder takes a moment to regard the young monk. He is on the cusp of adulthood; sweating with unfulfilled lusts and desires. Of such stock are the kindly and the monstrous made, either understanding the natural drives and impulses or despising them so in their own bodies that they seek to burn them from others.

‘What were they doing?’ Mohinder asks, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Luke shuffles his sandaled feet. ‘Father Abbot sent me with some wine for them and I found them… embracing.’

‘Were they unclothed?’

Luke’s pale face flashes vermillion. ‘No Brother! But Adam… he had his head on Matt’s shoulder.’

‘Did he?’ Mohinder asks tightly. He pushes down the unpleasantly tight knot in his stomach. ‘Well. Come here,’ he says, holding out his arms.

‘Brother!’

‘Luke, in your desire to rid yourself of… unwanted desire, you begin to see it everywhere. Come here.’

Luke inches forward uneasily and submits to the embrace with poor grace.

‘Relax your body and put your head on my shoulder.’

Mohinder would admit, if pressed, that it would be impossible for Luke to consciously relax all of his body, but Mohinder would not countenance any acknowledgement of that particular issue at the moment.

‘There, have we committed a great sin? No. Merely shown human comfort,’ Mohinder says. ‘There is no sin in affection.’

‘Yes Brother,’ Luke mutters, his voice thickened with tears.

Mohinder pats Luke’s back awkwardly until Luke can stand back without risk of discomfort. ‘Come along then, child, take me to the abbot.’



Mohinder takes a deep breath as he walks into Nathan’s private quarters and Luke skitters off to his own lunch. A comely blonde finishes dressing and squeezes past Mohinder, shutting the door behind her.

Nathan wipes his hand on a clean rag and gestures to the heavily-laden table. ‘Join me, won’t you?’

‘I have little appetite,’ Mohinder admits, sitting at the table. ‘Who was that maiden?’

‘The term “maiden” would be dishonest when applied to Megan,’ Nathan laughs. ‘She is the local brothel keeper.’

Mohinder rolls his eyes and sits down at the table. ‘You are going to destroy that body.’

‘What do you imagine she was doing to me?’

‘She’s probably diseased!’

Nathan pours two beakers of wine and passes one across. ‘I do have some pride. She’s quite healthy.’ He takes a sip of his wine. ‘A human body has certain needs and desires, including coupling.’

‘You are not human.’ Mohinder picks up his cutlery and pokes some fish with the tines of the fork. ‘How can you engage with a human in something so requiring of equality?’

Nathan laughs lightly. ‘Your side do like to pretend even the basest operations are sacrosanct.’

Mohinder raises an eyebrow. ‘You debase everything holy.’

‘It is rather my purpose,’ Nathan says with a smile. ‘Coupling doesn’t have to be based on equality. In fact a marked disparity of power can improve the pleasure considerably.’

Mohinder reaches for a glass of wine. ‘I don’t wish to know.’

‘I’m hardly the first.’ Nathan takes a bite of fish. ‘I only have one spawn.’

Mohinder pulls a face. ‘Nephilim.’

‘Her name is Claire,’ Nathan says archly. ‘I wonder if, when she dies, there will be a place for her in the host. She is after all an “abomination” isn’t she?’

‘That is your sin, not hers. You should be ashamed.’ Mohinder tears a chunk of bread from the loaf and wipes it through the gravy of the roast chicken.

‘You think I should be ashamed for enjoying the pleasures of coupling without being married?’ Nathan shrugs. ‘It’s a singularly mediocre sin despite the pleasure it affords and the havoc it causes.’

‘It seems rather beneath you.’

‘Sometimes beneath, sometimes on top, and, on occasion, on all fours,’ Nathan says sweetly.

Mohinder raises his eyebrows. ‘Is it your intention to shock me?’

‘I was curious to see if it would.’ Nathan licks his lips. ‘It’s a long time since I had the company of an angel.’

‘I’m not in the habit of associating with demons, either,’ Mohinder says.

Nathan’s fork scrapes on his plate. ‘Have you seen Noah recently?’ he asks carefully. ‘I imagine that he’s much happier now. He was always far too righteous for a demon.’

Mohinder snorts and licks his lips. ‘I haven’t seen him.’

‘I thought perhaps he was your guardian here.’ Nathan leans back. ‘Who is whining in your ear constantly about keeping to your mission and not becoming seduced?’

‘I have no intention of telling you.’

‘And I have been so charming and friendly.’

‘You would hardly be a success at your business if you were rude and abrasive,’ Mohinder sniffs. ‘It amazes me that the archabbot would select so arrogant and aggravating an artist!’

Nathan smiles slightly. ‘Is that so?’

‘The man was deliberately obstructive.’

‘What does he look like?’

‘Tall. Dark.’ Mohinder’s hands fly as he tries to demonstrate his words. ‘Well featured. Full lips. Brown eyes. Broad build. Hands twice the span of mine. Clean. Sweet smelling.’ Mohinder scowls suspiciously. ‘Why are you regarding me in that manner?’

‘Perhaps a stray thought of one sort or another,’ Nathan says smoothly, ‘and the man is irritating you?’

‘Why, do you intend to corrupt me by irritation?’

‘If only it were that simple.’ Nathan washes his fingers in a bowl then dries them on a towel. ‘Although that would make my work considerably faster.’ He rings a bell and Brother Theodore stamps into the room. ‘The sweet dishes please, Brother Theodore.’

‘Why did you ask me to dine with you?’ Mohinder asks, washing his fingers and drying them.

‘To eat?’

‘I could do that in the refectory.’

Nathan waves his hand. ‘I’m surrounded by apes and the only higher forms I see are my brother or my mother.’

Mohinder blinks. ‘Elucidate for me, did you ask me to eat with you because you’re lonely?’

A hint of colour appears in Nathan’s cheeks for a moment before disappearing. ‘And to think that your type is considered to be without humour.’

Brother Theodore returns with the sweet dishes which he slams down on the tables with ill-grace. He stamps from the room and slams the door behind him.

‘What did you want with the artist’s apprentice?’

‘To ask him to spy for me.’

Mohinder pauses, partway through cutting a slice of cream custard tart. ‘Is that your attempt at humour?’

Nathan laughs lightly. ‘I rarely tell direct lies, the truth is generally much more damaging.’

‘You wished to damage yourself?’ Mohinder asks tartly.

Nathan pours another glass of wine. ‘I thought it might disarm.’

Mohinder closes his eyes as he tastes the cream custard tart. The sweetness is almost too much, toying with sickliness, before dropping back to rich almond that almost smothers his palette. How do humans do anything other than eat?

‘You might enjoy the baked apples,’ Nathan suggests.

‘I think you intend to make me a glutton.’ Mohinder pushes the dishes away.

Nathan shrugs easily. ‘Corruption is a path of many steps. Some of them more useful than others.’

‘You mean to corrupt the apprentice then?’

‘He has a name.’ Nathan pours cream over the baked apples. ‘Humans put a considerable amount of store by them.’

Mohinder takes a sip of wine. ‘Do you avoid the question?’

Nathan chuckles. ‘I’m a demon, Mohinder, this body breathes and I corrupt. Naturally I mean to deprave him. Although he’s rather lacking in piety to truly appreciate my skills. He and the artist are occasional lovers, did you know?’

‘How would I know that? Why would I care about that? It’s nothing to me what he does with his time when he isn’t working. It’s nothing to me. I think you have begun to believe your own lies.’

Nathan smiles sweetly. ‘Indeed, I can see now that neither the artist nor his apprentice means anything to you.’



Mohinder stalks back towards the chapel, uncomfortably aware of the roiling of his belly and the pounding of his heart. Nathan’s food is clearly too rich for Mohinder’s palette.

‘How was your meal?’ Elle asks, shimmering into sight beside him.

‘I had dessert.’ Mohinder smiles slightly, despite himself. ‘It was exceedingly good.’

Elle laughs and trails her fingers along the wall. ‘A taste for sweetness. You might get further with the artist if you were to show him some sweetness.’

‘He means to paint the ceiling. Isn’t that my purpose?’

Elle twirls her fingers through her hair. ‘He was always going to paint the ceiling, Mohinder, unless the force arrayed against us prevents him.’

‘Then why am I here?’

‘Mohinder, you know better than to expect to be told everything. If you know everything involved and what was planned to occur then you would have no free will. You would be a puppet.’ She playfully pulls a lock of his hair. ‘Do you like the artist?’

Mohinder stiffens his shoulders. ‘He is intolerable. Arrogant and deliberately irritating.’

‘Goodness. Still, you can cope with a human who’s full of themselves can’t you?’ Elle teases. ‘You don’t need to be saved from him I think?’

‘No!’ Mohinder catches himself. ‘That won’t be necessary. I can deal with him.’

Elle laughs lightly. ‘No doubt you can.’ She kisses him on the forehead. ‘This isn’t penance, Mohinder. There’s nothing that you cannot successfully master.’

Mohinder waits with his hand on the door to the chapel. ‘The demon wished to know who I have guiding me.’

‘So nosy these demons!’

‘I told him I wouldn’t discuss it with him.’

‘He thinks he can thwart us but we know better don’t we Momo?’



Mohinder walks into the chapel feeling his heart beating wildly. This time he is determined not to become disconcerted or distracted. He will be listened to and he will not be made sport of by either the artist or his apprentice. It is ludicrous that he should allow himself to become so disturbed by a human, of all creatures. Humans with their tiny myopic visions of themselves at the centre of the universe, utterly oblivious to the true nature of the universe, should only inspire pity from him.

Adam is working on the scaffolding when Mohinder enters the chapel. A pretty sort of youth, Mohinder supposes, the type that inspires the lesser Greek sculptors. Yet he seems little out of the ordinary to Mohinder. He has none of Matt’s warm humour or earthy passion. Luke is stood nearby glaring silently at the apprentice, but there is no sign of the artist.

‘Where is your master?’ Mohinder demands as he looks about the chapel.

‘He says he will be back on the morrow, Brother,’ Adam says, concentrating on the scaffolding.

Mohinder’s stomach lurches. ‘What do you mean, he will be back? Where is he now?’

Adam runs his fingers through his hair. ‘Where he chooses to be.’

Some strange unaccountable feeling breaks over Mohinder in a wave and it presses him against a pillar. ‘He is being paid to paint the ceiling!’

‘Discuss it with him,’ Adam suggests.

‘I’m asking you!’

‘Brother Mohinder, it’s forbidden to raise your voice in the chapel,’ Luke hisses.

Mohinder grinds his teeth. ‘Thank you, Brother Luke,’ he says. ‘Where should I be without you to guide my steps?’

Adam brushes the hair from his forehead. ‘Guide your idle hands over here, Brother, and spare the devil the effort of finding them work.’

‘I am not a labourer!’

‘It’s forbidden to raise your voice in the chapel,’ Mohinder says.

Luke reddens and pulls his cowl around him. ‘It is not necessary to mock me,’ he mutters.



Nathan folds his hands together as he regards the young man in front of him. He is tall, swarthy, and handsome with perhaps a look of the Greek about him.

‘This is a grave sin,’ Nathan yawns. ‘Heresy demands burning.’

‘I’m no heretic.’

‘Just a sodomite?’ Nathan smiles lazily. ‘I should have you condemned by theological council.’ He taps his thumbs. ‘It’s Alex, yes?’

Alex nods and looks around the room as if expecting someone to appear suddenly. ‘If I was to repent…’

‘It would be a lie. You fail even to address me by my proper rank.’ Nathan puts his feet up onto the desk. ‘It would be a terrible shame for such a young man with so much promise to throw his life away. Your family would lose their heir.’

Alex looks away to hide the disgust on his face. ‘Perhaps penance…’

‘Penance, what an interesting idea.’ Nathan smiles brightly. ‘What did you have in mind?’

‘I have no money of my own. If I were to tell my father why I needed it… He would not be sympathetic.’

Nathan moves his feet from the desk and leans forward towards him. ‘I have a suggestion.’

The young man licks his lips. ‘Please tell me, Father Abbot.’

‘Sit down, Alex,’ Nathan says. ‘Let me tell you a story about a monk of my acquaintance.’

 



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