kethni: (Matt/Mo)
[personal profile] kethni
Name: Falling – Chapter 7
Pairing: Matt/Mohinder
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spiritual revisionism? Angels, demons, religion, all battered and abused.
Note: Historical fiction



‘Am I without redemption?’

Mohinder prays for the right words and for more self-control than he has needed before. ‘No one is without redemption, Luke; God understands that you will make mistakes. There is always love and forgiveness when you are repentant.’

Luke’s frenzied sobs gradually ease. ‘Do you think so?’

‘I know it.’ Mohinder tips up Luke’s chin with his thumb. ‘Look at me. I promise you, Luke, that breaking your vow of chastity is something that God will understand and forgive. I promise.’

Luke dries his eyes with his sleeve. ‘Father Abbot says that a slip into sin is irretrievable.’

‘He’s wrong. Peter denied Jesus three times, Luke, three times, and he was not only forgiven but became the father of the church.’

‘I’m not Saint Peter,’ Luke laughs.

‘No, he was a grown man who had seen the miracles first hand. You’re a boy, struggling to deal with your desire and your vows. The scriptures tell us over and over that there is forgiveness for repentant sinners. If the abbot tells you differently then he is wrong.’

‘I’m a sodomite,’ Luke says more quietly. ‘I’m going to burn forever.’

‘Listen to me, God would not torment you with love for other men and then condemn you for it.’

Luke stares into Mohinder’s eyes and feels a few notches of rigid tension release. ‘Father Abbot would say that my urges are sent by the devil.’

‘He’s wrong. The devil has no power to create, Luke, or else we should be wretched and tormented creatures incapable of telling the real from the imagined or good from evil.’

‘Brother Doyle in the kitchen has… unnatural desires,’ Luke says awkwardly. ‘He likes the youngest novices is that…’ Luke licks his lips. ‘Did God…’

‘No, but… sometimes evil takes root despite the purity of God’s design,’ Mohinder says carefully. ‘As it did with the Devil, you understand? That’s a different situation than yours.’

‘But how am I to know the difference?’

‘If he can’t tell the difference between a normal, if socially unacceptable, expression of sexual desire and an evil that poisons everything it touches then he’s too stupid to waste your time on, and he’s certainly too stupid to waste my time on.’

Mohinder bites his tongue, determined not to respond to Noah’s barb. ‘Brother Doyle’s desires are cruel and dangerous. They would warp and destroy their objects. Love is not cruel, Luke, nor does it exploit for its own benefit.’ His puts his hand on Luke’s shoulder. ‘Whether you desire men or women you have taken a vow of celibacy. That is what you need to reconcile.’

Luke tidies himself and nods. ‘What will I do, Brother Mohinder?’

‘You need to pray for guidance.’

‘Father Abbot…’ Luke shrugs awkwardly. ‘I should tell him… I ought to confess. I know that you can’t give me absolution but…’ He meets Mohinder’s eyes. ‘I don’t want to tell him. He doesn’t understand. Not the way that you do.’

‘Oh he understands,’ Noah says.

Mohinder runs his fingers through his hair as he tries to think of a lie that will soothe Luke without expose him to further risk. ‘Human understanding of God’s will is always imperfect, as humans are imperfect. Father Abbot won’t understand that you are not a heretic. For your safety it would be better not to tell him.’

‘Thank you, Brother.’ Luke embraces Mohinder suddenly. ‘Thank you.’

Mohinder pats his shoulder. The small body pressed against his only serves to bring to mind the sudden thought of a much larger body pressed against him.

‘You should… you should go and pray now. Confess to God and seek guidance.’ Mohinder pats his back. ‘You’ll find the right path.’

‘Thank you, Brother,’ Luke sniffs. He disentangles himself from Mohinder and clatters out of the room.

Noah rolls his eyes. ‘I’m glad that you spent our valuable time dealing with the ridiculous dramas of a confused adolescent.’

‘Did I ask for your opinion?’ Mohinder snaps. ‘I am doing the very best that I can in extremely trying circumstances and you’re assistance is achieving nothing but irritating me!’

‘I’m here to keep you focused on what is important, and the petty problems of that child are not important!’

‘You think that because you are still a demon in angelic garb! If you had an ounce of compassion then you would know that his problems are important.’

Noah shakes his head. ‘You are losing perspective on-’

‘Are you alright?’

Mohinder spins around and sees that Matt is standing in the doorway.

‘You are not being employed to eavesdrop!’

Matt folds his arms across his chest. Mohinder drags his eyes up from those strong, muscular arms up to Matt’s placid face. ‘Voices carry, Brother, yours with young Luke and yours by yourself.’

Mohinder sinks down onto a small pile of robes. ‘Do you want something?’ he asks quietly.

Matt walks over and sits by Mohinder. ‘Does he have much money?’

‘What?’

‘The village is small and the abbey is close by. This young man, the wine merchant’s son, chose to seduce a man he had only just met and not a man, a monk<.i>. That strikes me as so perilous as to be bordering on self-destruction, or perhaps a desperate attempt to gain power over Luke.’

Mohinder shakes his head. ‘I cannot follow your reasoning.’

‘Then you’re more innocent then I thought.’ Matt rests his elbows on his knees. ‘The abbey is rich, Brother, particularly in the view of the villagers, and the abbey is known to be filled with corruption. But an accusation of sodomy would bring scrutiny they would rather avoid. Perhaps this wine merchant’s son hopes that Luke, and the abbey, would pay for it not to become public knowledge.’

‘Blackmail?’

‘Is it more ridiculous than this wine merchant’s son seducing a monk on first meeting?’ Matt runs his fingers through his hair. ‘Brother, I think that you imagine the world kinder to people such as Luke and this other boy than it is. Finding companionship when you desire the company of other men is a delicate and dangerous business. The risk is immense even when you have found someone of… similar inclinations.’

‘What risk remains when you have found someone similarly inclined?’ Mohinder asks quietly. ‘Surely in threatening to reveal the event the risk is shared?’

‘The first to confess can frame the coupling as he wishes. When there are only two present what one calls seduction and the other calls ravishment is impossible to prove.’

‘Why would anyone do that?’ Mohinder asks. ‘What purpose would it serve?’

Matt laughs quietly. ‘Assuaging guilt perhaps? Guilt can be overcome by need, for a time, but it returns. It always returns. Some blame themselves but others become angry. There are more of us who have found a lover lamblike before and like a jackal afterwards than have found bliss.’

Mohinder shakes his head. ‘I wonder that anyone takes the risk.’

‘You wonder because you’re the only monk of my knowledge who seems true to his vows,’ Matt says with a smile.

‘I don’t know what to tell Luke.’

‘What you told him was well said. You should be prepared to tell him that he must defend himself against that or the other things that may arise. That or prepare yourself to abandon him and defend yourself.’

‘I’m not about to do that!’ Mohinder snaps, leaping to his feet. ‘I am not some kind of monster.’

Matt tilts his head as he regards Mohinder. ‘You are also no kind of monk that I’ve seen before. What kind of hermitage did you spend your life in to be this guileless?’

‘You think me a fool?’

‘I think you charming,’ Matt says quietly, ‘but as dangerous in your innocence as the abbot is in his cynicism.’

‘I don’t know what you mean to say,’ Mohinder stammers. He gets to his feet and adjusts his robe. ‘I think that we have spent too much time doing what this was.’

‘That.’

‘What?’

Matt folds his arms as he looks up at the other man. ‘That panic is why people claim to have been ravished when they’ve been seduced, why they tell idiotic lies, and why they lead the charge against their fellows with such glee.’

Mohinder licks his lips. ‘I am not panicking.’

‘Lying is a sin, Brother,’ Matt says mildly, ‘and a skill you sorely lack. I recommend more practice.’



Mohinder storms from the chapel and into the abbey itself.

‘I admire your creativity by motivating the artist through the implication of sexual attraction,’ Noah says acidly, ‘though I do wonder how you intend to maintain it over four years.’

‘Be glad you are not corporeal,’ Mohinder hisses.

‘Do you mean to threaten me?’

Mohinder bites his tongue while a pair of boyish novices rustle past them. ‘There is no implication of sexual attraction.’

Noah raises his eyebrows. ‘You should take his advice. You are a poor liar.’

Mohinder’s hand dismisses Noah with a harsh chopping motion. ‘Please remember that you are supposed to be my guide and not my corruptor. If you cannot be more helpful then I have no wish to distract you from your doubtless many and various duties.’

‘I will have to report my observations on your behaviour with the artist,’ Noah says as he begins to fade from sight.

‘Your observations are nonsense!’



Mohinder’s hand is upon the door to his cell when he hears someone behind him clear their throat.

‘I hope I am not disturbing you, Brother.’

Mohinder sighs deeply. The voice doesn’t immediately register with him but he recognises the tone of obsequious joy in petty evils.

‘Brother Robert.’ Mohinder turns and folds his arms across his chest. ‘What do you want?’

Brother raises his eyebrows at this breach of courtesy. ‘Father Abbot asked me to find you.’

‘Here I am,’ Mohinder says. ‘You have fulfilled your task.’

‘Father Abbot would like to see you.’

Mohinder controls his expression with difficulty. ‘Father Abbot is, I am sure, aware that he would be best served by not seeing me at the particular moment.’

‘I wouldn’t dream of trying to second guess Father Abbot’s orders. I am confident that he knows best.’

‘I imagine that you will shortly change your mind.’



‘Taunting the angel seems an odd way to tempt him from his plan,’ Peter yawns as he lolls back in his chair.

‘I have no intention of taunting him,’ Nathan says, pouring a couple of glasses of wine.

‘You’re not still attempting to have conversations with him?’

Nathan sits down in his well-padded chair and leans back. ‘Well who else do you imagine I can have an intelligent conversation with?’

‘That’s not very nice.’

‘Have you seen mother recently?’

Peter pulls a face. ‘They’re fighting again.’

Nathan crosses his legs at the knee. ‘When aren’t they fighting?’

‘Father thinks he doesn’t get enough respect.’

‘Then maybe he should have gone his own way instead of slavishly following mother.’ Nathan touches his finger to his lips. ‘I suppose you’re supporting him in any contretemps?’

‘And you’ll be supporting mother,’ Peter says rolling his eyes. ‘Even though she’s buried you here.’

Nathan smiles easily. ‘You’ve never had enough imagination, Peter, or enough patience. Tiny evils accumulate and small sins breed larger sins. Temptation isn’t a cudgel to wield. You don’t doom humans by running at them screaming but by ensnaring them in a thousand tiny ways. An abbey is a perfect place to do that.’

Outside the door, someone clears their throat.

‘It’s that bald monk that always tries to ingratiate himself with you.’ Peter starts to fade from sight. ‘He’s got the angel with him.’

‘Come in, Brother Robert,’ Nathan calls.

‘I never fail to wonder how you manage to when I’m come to visit,’ Robert says servilely as he walks into the room. ‘I’ve brought Brother Mohinder, although he didn’t want to. I hope you don’t mind my observation, Father Abbot, but Brother Mohinder seems to me to be a naturally rebellious element.’

Nathan laughs. ‘Naturally rebellious, that is an interesting point of view.’

‘I do wonder if allowing him to remain in the abbey is the best course of action.’

Nathan waves a hand languidly. ‘The archabbot is responsible for Brother Mohinder’s presence here with us. Sadly, it is not my choice whether the good brother remains with us. Please send him in, and have the kitchen send us some cold dishes. The brother has a prodigious appetite.’

‘Of course, as you say.’

Nathan smiles pleasantly as Robert leaves and Mohinder stalks into the room.

‘Good afternoon, Angel, how are you enjoying the fine weather?’

‘What do you want?’

‘There’s nothing demonic about common politeness,’ Nathan chides. ‘Would you care for some wine?’

‘No.’

Nathan lounges back in his chair. ‘Dealing with the artist seems to have put you in a foul mood.’

‘Dealing with you puts me in a foul mood,’ Mohinder snaps. ‘What do you want?’

Nathan interlaces his fingers. ‘I did think it might be pleasant for us both to have a conversation with someone on the same mental plane. I get tired of spending all of my time with these apes, don’t you?’

‘I would much prefer to spend my time with these “apes” than with you.’

Nathan presses his hand to his chest. ‘I’m crushed. Do you feel better now that you’ve been spectacularly rude to me?’

Mohinder purses his lips. ‘Why did you send Luke to the wine merchant?’

‘Do sit down, Mohinder, the fact that we’re on opposite sides doesn’t mean that we have to be uncivilised.’

Mohinder grits his teeth before sitting in the proffered seat. ‘This room stinks of brimstone.’

‘It does tend to stick to the curtains.’

‘I thought it smelt fresh.’

Nathan smiles and shrugs. ‘Peter was here a little while ago. My mother likes to keep him busy and setting him to monitor me accomplishes that splendidly. Now I’ve told my secret why don’t you tell me who they have safeguarding your soul?’

Mohinder snatches up one of the beakers and sips the wine. ‘I have been assigned a new guardian.’

‘You must be impressing them,’ Nathan suggests.

‘Doubtful, since I am now given Noah’s “helpful” presence,’ Mohinder admits. ‘Does Peter query your every move and decision?’

Nathan smiles broadly. ‘Oh yes. If he had his way I would slit your throat and throw your body in the river.’

‘What would that achieve?’

‘Little or nothing.’ Nathan shrugs easily. ‘He’s never been good at planning. He’s a foot soldier not a strategic thinker. I’m afraid.’

Mohinder stares into his beaker. ‘Is it your intention to have me become intoxicated?’

‘As amusing as that would doubtless be I’m not sure what it would achieve.’ Nathan gestures with his beaker. ‘I doubt you’d find enough relief and pleasure in it to make the cost tomorrow worthwhile.’

‘Why should you care if I find the cost worthwhile?’ Mohinder asks suspiciously.

‘There’s little to be gained in your getting drunk if you don’t consequently become a drunk,’ Nathan tilts his head, ‘or slip into sexual depravity of one sort or another. Sadly you haven’t been out of the abbey and it’s difficult to imagine you being seduced by young Luke.’

Mohinder scowls and drains the beaker. ‘I don’t wish to discuss Luke with you. If I do you will doubtless attempt to use any innocent comment as a weapon against me.’

‘The artist’s apprentice is quite comely,’ Nathan muses. ‘I haven’t seen the artist closely. Would you say he’s attractive?’

‘I don’t believe that this is an appropriate conversation.’

Nathan grins broadly. ‘Why Angel, you’ve most fetching when you’re embarrassed and guilty. Do tell me all about it.’


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kethni

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