kethni: (Matt/Mo)
[personal profile] kethni

Name: Falling – Chapter 5
Pairing: Matt/Mohinder
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spiritual revisionism? Angels, demons, religion, all battered and abused.
Note: Historical fiction

Luke wipes the sweat from his face and releases a deep breath. ‘I fear that it will not fit naturally. The aperture resists entry.’

Adam twists around and looks over his shoulder. ‘Perhaps if you were to shift the rod you might be able to widen the opening a little?’

Luke shakes his head. He holds up the two pieces of wood he is holding. ‘I have no gift for handicraft.’

‘I thought you were the scion of weavers,’ Mohinder laughs.

Luke reddens and brushes a lock of hair back behind his ear. ‘My calling was a welcome relief,’ he admits shyly. ‘Are you people artists?’

‘I have no idea,’ Adam says cheerfully. ‘Never met man jack of them. My mother was doubtless some strumpet or other who opened her legs to some randy young rake who abandoned her to her fate.’

‘Who raised you?’ Luke asks, wide-eyed.


‘But you blaspheme and show no reverence!’

Adam raises his eyebrows. ‘What do you base that on? Failing to kiss your ring does not signify anything but having no reverence for you.’

Mohinder puts a hand on Luke’s shoulder. ‘Be wary of demanding respect or reverence. Begrudging respect will poison the giver.’

‘But the abbot says that when we allow ourselves to be disrespected we allow disrespect to God!’

‘Typical cant,’ Adam snorts.

Mohinder puts his hand on Adam’s shoulder and pulls him away. ‘Do you know the scriptures?’

‘Yes Brother!’

‘Do you remember Our Saviour ever insisting that he be given respect and reverence?’

Luke rakes his fingers through his hair. ‘Well… I… But…’

Mohinder licks his lips. Elle might be helpful at this moment but of course she is nowhere to be seen. Luke’s faith seems entwined with Nathan and separating the two will need a patience to which Mohinder does not feel equal.

‘The abbot is… humans are not God, Luke, but sparks of life and intelligence crafted into clay, given breath, and caught between the apes and the angels. We are all of us cowering in the darkness, blind of our purpose, and seeking guidance. But the abbot…’ Mohinder takes a deep breath and begs forgiveness for the enormity of the lie he is about to utter, ‘… the abbot is only a man. He is as frightened, confused, and unsure as everyone else. He makes his decisions and must take responsibility for those.’

Luke looks down at his hands. ‘But he’s the abbot,’ he says in a quiet, hesitant voice.

Mohinder squeezes his shoulder. ‘When you are judged let it be for your own choices, made consciously, and after due thought, not for blindly followed choices of other men.’

It is late when Matt returns from whenever he has been sojourning since Sext. His face is a little tired and worn in the early evening light, waxing and waning with the dying of the sun. Mohinder bites his tongue to prevent a ready retort from leaving his lips. Matt’s face speaks of a different character than the confident man he thought he had met, careless of propriety and religious dogma. There is also some scent seeped into Matt’s clothing; a complex scent of sweat, vomit, and souring sickness. Mohinder had been expecting Matt to reel in stinking of ale, not ailment.

‘Well good evening, Brother, and Brother,’ Matt says. ‘Still here, I see. Your steadfastness does you credit.’

‘I suppose it must look surprising to one incapable of it,’ Mohinder says, wishing immediately to drag back the words. But Matt merely smiles.

‘Pack up your crucifix and rosary, Brother,’ he says, ‘we are not slaves to work all night.’

‘Or even all day.’

Matt ignores the jibe in favour of examining the scaffolding which has been assembled. ‘Did you do this, whelp?’ he asks Adam.

‘The good, Master, the bad you may blame on the novice.’

‘This is my just thanks,’ Luke mutters.

‘I thank you,’ Matt says, regaining some of his sparkle. ‘Through hard work to God, hmm?’

The bell begins to ring, calling the monks to Vespers. Luke licks his lips and looks at Mohinder.

‘That is the bell for Vespers, Brother, are you…’

Mohinder braces his shoulders. ‘I will worship in my cell, privately.’

Luke nods meekly. ‘I will see you tomorrow, Brother.’

‘Why do you stare?’ Mohinder demands, glaring at the artist and his apprentice.

Matt shrugs, and begins cleaning up their tools. ‘Any group seeks to make all members alike, be it a company of soldiers or a brotherhood of monks. Yet here you are, dark skinned, lacking tonsure, and defiantly refusing to worship with the rest.’

A muscle twitches in Mohinder’s cheek. ‘You know nothing about me. Kindly refrain from pretending that you have some special insight.’

Matt and Adam watch him stalk away, tunic flapping. When the distant door slams shut, Adam raises his eyebrows.

‘You left me by myself with those two,’ he says.

‘You may thank me at your leisure,’ Matt says.

Adam snorts as he fixes the scaffolding to the wall. ‘You would be waiting until the earth circled the sun for that event.’

‘Such ingratitude. The man is hardly taxing on the eyes.’

‘Deeply taxing on the patience,’ Adam snorts. ‘The novice is even worse.’

Matt tuts and shakes his head. ‘You enjoy irritating them.’

‘I get my vengeance where I may.’ Adam puts his hands on his hips. ‘You look like a horse gone to battle and then sold for slaughter.’

‘I feel like it. Did you squirrel away enough food for this meal?’

‘You ate it all.’ Adam playfully pokes Matt in the stomach. ‘As always I struggle to keep pace with your appetites.’

Matt laughs a little. ‘Flatterer.’

‘The novice warned me from going near the cook again,’ Adam says with a shrug. ‘He seemed earnest and I am minded to heed him.’

Matt folds his arms and looks at his apprentice. Looking even younger than his years and with innocent blue eyes and Viking blond hair, Adam has had reason to learn when to avoid older men.


‘Perhaps best avoided if you will let me.’

Matt shakes his head. ‘You will attract these people.’

‘Lots of people find me attractive,’ Adam says. ‘Many of them old, fat men.’

‘Shut up or I will sell you to the abbey. Perhaps to the cook.’

Adam’s stomach rumbles. ‘Will you fetch food then?’

‘I don’t know why I keep you around,’ Matt grumbles as he heads to the door.

‘Because I do all the work!’ Adam calls after him. ‘While you take it off to who knows where.’

Matt waves a hand dismissively. ‘If you join the guild as a master craftsman someday then you will be able to spend your time as you wish.’

‘When, not if!’ Adam calls out as Matt leaves.

Adam is determined to end his apprenticeship successfully and join the guild. In truth, he knows he is quite fortunate in his choice of master. Matt does not merely use him for the donkey work and does spend considerable time and effort teaching Adam and encouraging him in his work. Oh, Matt thinks that Adam is too arrogant and overconfident but Adam has never held that against him or felt that Matt held it against him. They rub together very comfortably now, sometimes literally, with few open conflicts. In truth Adam is aware that he will likely miss his cosy apprenticeship when it’s over. Adam has few decisions and responsibilities. Matt finds their work, accommodation, and sources of food and before Adam was apprenticed the nuns provided for his needs. At least, they provided for those needs which they considered wholesome and Christian. Such other needs Adam struggled with until he was apprenticed, and found Matt entirely sympathetic.

While Matt is gone, Adam takes out his sketchbook and regards his work to date. In order to become a master craftsman he needs to create a piece of work that will prove his skill beyond debate. This masterpiece will be the conclusion of his years of work and devotion and the scope of its impact on his future is dizzying. Each subject that he considers seems trite and lacking in imagination. All his preliminary work seems like a betrayal of his skill and Matt’s teaching.

‘You’re fretting again,’ Matt observes.

‘How do you creep in that way?’ Adam snaps the sketchbook shut.

‘Creep? I tripped over a piece of scaffold. If I’d fallen on my face I could have scarce have made more noise.’ Matt nudges him gently with his elbow. ‘You were too buried in your thoughts. A choir could have sung in your ear and you would not have noticed.’

Adam forces a bright smile. ‘I was considering which of my many excellent ideas I should use for my masterpiece.’

Matt slings an arm around Adam’s waist. ‘You’ll find one.’

‘I know that.’ Adam grins cheekily. ‘If you can do it then I certainly can.’

Matt rests his chin on the top of the younger man’s head. ‘I never expected my work to be perfect and for the guild masters to be overcome with my brilliance.’

Adam elbows him in the stomach. ‘You aim too low. I mean to blaze a trail across the sky.’

Matt laughs and drops his arm. ‘That is a dangerous ambition. Ware you don’t pay too great a price for it.’

They secure their tools and equipment in companionable silence until Adam’s stomach growls loudly.

‘Did the cook give you much food?’ he asks plaintively.

‘He did not.’ Matt waves his hand at the basket he has left on a pew. ‘He was most offended that I was there and not you. When he left the kitchen I persuaded one of the kitchen boys to let me loose on the leftover bin. One of the others gave me some pottage. Make a fire outside somewhere and we’ll warm it up.’

Adam grumbles to himself as he gathers up the food and fixings for the fire. ‘Do we have to sleep out there?’

‘Less you want to get woken by them singing in the middle of the night.’ Matt stretches. ‘It was difficult enough persuading them to leave the chapel alone during the day.’

Mohinder kneels on the floor to pray. It is not necessary or demanded but he finds it easier to bare his soul from a position of humility and supplication. He is feeling the pressure of his position sorely and would welcome the balm of consolation.

‘What are you doing?’

Heaven rejoices when a sinner is saved. Mohinder cannot help thinking that it would be easier to rejoice in this sinner’s repentance if he did not give the impression that he would rather hurl thunderbolts at sinners than forgive them.

‘I was attempting to pray.’ Mohinder looks behind at the angel behind him. ‘Have you fallen from the heavens, Noah? Again.’

Noah smiles coldly. ‘I was not aware that you had a sense of humour.’

‘I cannot imagine you have ever troubled yourself to know me.’ Mohinder climbs to his feet and brushes his knees. A thrill of pain, still novel and intriguing, runs up his legs. ‘To what end do I owe this visit?’

Noah, though acquiescing to the general form of man, has chosen to appear with six wings and a burning light. Mohinder sighs inwardly. He has never put great store in rank or titles. He is as he was made and has always been content with that. That Noah is taking such pains to impress his rank upon Mohinder should be no surprise but it does disturb him.

‘I have been sent as a bridge between you and the Divine Light. To give you guidance and succour.’ He gives Mohinder a cool, small smile.

‘I had no need of a bridge before. Where is Elle?’

‘A new galaxy is being born. Hardly surprising that your need would be deemed… less important.’

Mohinder turns away. ‘I have no need of you. Please let me pray in peace.’

‘Are you too proud to use me as a conduit?’

‘You have been with the Rebel for too long,’ Mohinder says, kneeling down. ‘I require no intervention.’

The room pulses with heat as Noah moves in front of Mohinder. ‘I was with the Rebel,’ he says with dangerous quietness. ‘Now I am returned to the fold.’

Mohinder looks up at him. ‘I rejoice to hear it. Now hear me. I am not human. I do not need intervention. I will not be bullied or threatened by you. You will not gain my respect or obedience by attempting to cow me. We are not demons but angels, beloved by God. Remember that or remain nothing more than a demon in angelic garb.’

Noah purses his lips and smiles with the suddenness of sunlight filling a room. ‘Do you feel succoured to have said so?’

‘I will be succoured to pray.’

‘We do need to converse.’

Mohinder takes a deep breath and releases it slowly. ‘In the morning.’

A stallion storms through the forest; mane flying on the wind. His hooves pound upon the ground and the beating of his huge heart fills the air.

A hammer beating metal on an anvil. A man with naked skin muscles moving under a sheen of sweat. Hands huge. Face shadowed. Red glow gleaming from the fire.

Sunlight gleaming golden through the chapel windows. Shadowed shape towering. Sunlight in his hair.

Cold stone against skin. Warm breath on his cheek. Hands hot from the anvil testing his steel. Laughing dark eyes.

‘Falling or flying?’

‘I can’t fall…’

‘If you never jump you’ll never fly.’

Heartbeats fill the air; heavy breaths gasp. A stallion races along a beach under a sultry sun. Bodies entwine in the sand.


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