kethni: (Matt/Mo)
[personal profile] kethni
Name: Falling – Chapter 8
Pairing: Matt/Mohinder
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spiritual revisionism? Angels, demons, religion, all battered and abused.
Note: Historical fiction



‘I was beginning to worry about you,’ Matt mutters as Adam crawls under the blankets next to him.

‘I couldn’t find you. What’re you doing sleeping in the chapel?’

‘Got permission from the abbot. Mohinder came down and mumbled that he’d sorted it so we don’t have to sleep outside,’ Matt yawns. ‘Then he stomped off.’

Adam presses his face against Matt’s neck. ‘Why did he do that?’

‘He said the abbot had been telling him we’d been cuddling up warm. I don’t think he liked the idea.’

Adam snorts, tickling Matt’s shoulder. ‘He doesn’t like the idea of you cuddling up with anyone but him.’

‘Who’ve you been keeping warm?’

‘A milkmaid, and her brother,’ Adam says sleepily.

Matt closes his eyes. ‘Not the abbot?’

‘The abbot’s sister is a milkmaid?’

‘Shut up and go to sleep you ass.’



Mohinder lies awake, staring into the darkness. It has only been a few days and yet he feels lost, adrift on silent, deadly waters: as if he set out upon a millpond and has suddenly found himself rushing onwards toward the ocean. He expected demonic opposition, perhaps physical persecution, and he had thought himself well prepared to deal with the temptations of physical life.

Laughable. Every moment is filled with myriad sensations of sound, scent, touch, and taste. Sleep provides no respite but instead creates continual variations on the same array of perceptions.

He thinks, even now, that he could bear all these things if it were only these things. If it weren’t for the way that his skin crackles and his heart pounds whenever… If it weren’t for the way he feels Matt’s presence distorting everything around him like a stone throne into a river… Ridiculous. Matt, the artist, is just a man. Just a human being like any of the others. Nathan calls them “apes” and, cruel as that is, the truth is that there is a greater gulf of understanding and comprehension between angles and humans than there is between humans and apes. If some insanity spurred Mohinder talked to Matt of his existence, of intelligence without form, of personality without presence, then they would not connect. Could not connect.

It isn’t a matter of intelligence. How would a bee explain the complexities of its dance within the hive? How could a hummingbird sketch the trajectory of its wings beating in the air?

He shouldn’t have let Nathan give him wine. It makes him unpleasantly contemplative. He doesn’t think he’s intoxicated. He certainly feels no better than he felt before.

What he should do, what he wants to do, is pray.

‘Hey handsome,’ whispers a voice.

Mohinder squeezes his eyes shut. ‘Hello. I thought you’d abandoned me to Noah’s tender mercies.’

The bedclothes rustle as Elle shuffles next to him. ‘Don’t sulk Momo, I’d very busy.’

‘I know. I’m sorry.’

Mohinder rolls over and rests his head on her outstretched arm.

‘Have you missed me?’ she teases.

‘No.’

‘Is Noah not being an aid and a comfort?’

Mohinder snorts. ‘Is he intended to be?’

Elle flicks his nose. ‘You are not the easiest person to succour.’

‘Oh, I’m to blame am I?’

‘Noah was a demon for a long time. It’s going to take him a while.’ Elle plays with Mohinder’s hair. ‘But you can help him through it.’

‘He’s supposed to be helping me!’

‘You can help each other.’

Mohinder blows out his cheeks. ‘I don’t want to.’

‘Don’t sulk, Mohinder.’

‘Sorry.’

‘Still sulking.’

‘Still sorry.’

Elle kicks his ankle. ‘How’s the artist?’

‘Why do you persist in asking questions to which you know the answer?’ Mohinder grumbles.

‘Why do you reply to a question with a question?’

Mohinder shifts position. ‘He makes me uneasy.’

‘Are you sure that’s what he makes you feel?’ Elle pinches his stomach.

‘Ow!’ Mohinder rubs his belly. ‘Being incarnated puts me at the mercy of the natural functions of a body. Noah doesn’t understand the need to eat and sleep let alone… other basic functions.’

‘Other basic functions relating to the artist?’ Elle asks brightly. ‘Such as?’

‘You know the manner of the functions!’

‘I do,’ she giggles. ‘Sadly poor Noah never incarnated. He’s rather puritanical in his own way. I think it might do him good to experience the things that humans do.’

An unpleasant thought crosses Mohinder’s mind. ‘Have I been sent here to become less “puritanical”?’

Elle kisses his forehead. ‘You are here, Momo, because of the myriad angels in heaven you are the best for this, very important, task.’

‘I’m… uneasy.’

‘Don’t be afraid. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t capable.’

‘I wish I had your faith.’



‘How will you know if you can fly if you never take a leap of faith?’ The voice whispers in his ear in an oddly insinuating tone.

A hammer crashes down into an anvil.

A stag races through a forest.

Panting breath. Pounding heartbeats.

‘How will you know if you can fly if you never take a leap of faith?’

Dark eyes smiling in the darkness.




‘Good morning,’ Luke says cheerfully as Mohinder patters out of his cell.

‘Good morning, Luke, how does the morning find you?’

‘I am well,’ he says, tucking his hands into his sleeves.

Looking at him Mohinder can scarcely credit he is the same boy as the one who was crying on his shoulder the day before. The colour has returned to his face and he is moving with more confidence and presence.

‘I’m pleased to see it.’

‘I found your advice most helpful,’ the younger man says, gazing up at Mohinder.

‘I’m glad. Sometimes finding our path is difficult.’

Luke smiles and quickens his pace to ensure he keeps in step. ‘I am very grateful to you for your kindness.’

Mohinder sighs quietly. Is it kindness to ameliorate pain where you see it? It pains him to see pain. Incarnation has stripped away the comfortable distance from human misery that he wasn’t aware he had.

‘If the scriptures tell us anything, Luke, it’s that we cannot stand alone but depend upon each other as beggars sharing a crutch in common. Kindness to each other is only a species of kindness to ourselves.’

‘Even so.’ Luke folds his hands inside insides his sleeves. ‘How is the ceiling proceeding?’

‘Much the same. They have been preparing the surface and making plans of the area. I think these artists have little or no concept of meeting timelines.’

‘Or appropriate behaviour.’

Mohinder shakes his head and looks around the corridors. ‘It’s true that they have their own ways of looking at the world.’

‘I haven’t spoken to Father Abbot,’ Luke says quietly.

‘Our conversation was confidential,’ Mohinder promises.

‘Thank you.’



They have breakfast against in with the other monks; a huge fire is burning in the grate and the air smells of smoke and burning. From the top table, Nathan waves a hand to beckon them over.

‘Good morning.’

Mohinder gives him a terse nod. ‘Might I sit down?’

‘Please join us,’ Nathan says smilingly. ‘Luke, I’m sure the other novices would be happy to have you sit with them.’

‘Um, thank you Father Abbott.’ Luke’s pale skin is flushed with embarrassment as he turns away.

Mohinder stamps around the table and drops down into the space created by Brother Robert and another brother moving up on the bench.

‘There is no need to continue to honour me in this way,’ he says shortly.

‘Your humility is an example to all of us,’ Nathan says sweetly. ‘Tell me, have you seen your artist this morning?’

Mohinder glares at the other angel but fights to keep his tone level. ‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Your artist, how does his great work proceed?’

‘He is in no way “my artist”, you may be quite sure.’

Brother Robert leans forward onto the table and looks across at Mohinder. ‘I hope, Brother, that you are endeavouring to teach the heretic artist the error of his ways.’

Mohinder pours cream into his porridge and stirs it in. ‘I don’t know what you mean by that.’

‘It would be a terrible shame if spending so much time with a Jew were to erode your faith,’ Robert says, shaking his head. ‘We must hope that your faith is stronger than his heresy.’

Mohinder raises his eyebrow. ‘Our saviour was Jewish. Would you call him a heretic?’

Nathan smiles as a hubbub of voices break out in protest.



‘I don’t trust him,’ Jeremy mutters staring over at the high table. ‘They don’t follow the church properly. He doesn’t have a tonsure. He doesn’t come to prayers with us.’

‘What?’ Luke tears his attention from his breakfast.

‘The foreign monk.’ Jeremy points his fork over at Mohinder. ‘You’ve been helping him haven’t you?’

‘Father Abbot assigned me to aide him. He’s very knowledgeable in scripture.’

Jeremy snorts. ‘He thinks he’s better than us.’

Luke scowls at the other boy. ‘He’s likely better than you.’

‘He’s quite taken you under his wing then has he?’ Jeremy sneers. ‘You’re his special pet I suppose.’

Luke stabs his spoon into the bowl. ‘What ails you? Do you wish that our places were reversed?’

‘I have no wish to spend my time with some foreigner!’

‘We are all God’s creatures!’

Jeremy rolls his eyes. ‘His people are followers of Mohammed.’

‘He isn’t. What is your meaning?’

Brother Eric sits down heavily at a spare seat at the table.

‘He’s already changed his faith once. He can change again,’ Jeremy argues.

‘You don’t know anything about Brother Mohinder,’ Luke snaps.

‘I know a foreigner when I see one.’

‘Fancy it do you?’ Eric asks, leering at Jeremy. ‘Want your chance instead of Luke here?’

Jeremy glowers at the older man. ‘No.’

‘Does Brother Mohinder look after you, Luke?’ Eric asks with a lascivious wink. ‘Are you meeting his needs?’

Luke returns his attention to his porridge. ‘I’m sure that I don’t know what you mean.’

‘I suppose it’s only temporary,’ Eric says. ‘After all he’s a pretty thing and you’re hardly his match are you? Surely he’ll be able to find something more to his taste. That apprentice boy working in the chapel is a tasty morsel. What’s his name?’

‘Brother Eric!’ Jeremy protests.

‘What’s the matter, are you jealous I like him better than you?’ Eric says as he ogles at them both. ‘Don’t worry, there’s enough of me to go around. You should come work in the kitchen, Brother Jeremy, learn some humility.’ He spreads his rubbery lips wide in a slavering smile. ‘I would be happy to teach you how to make yourself submissive and obedient to your superiors.’



Adam tidies away their bedding and runs his fingers through his hair. ‘Did Brother Mohinder return to the chapel yesterday afternoon?’

‘Yes, though his little assistant was busy down in the village mostly. Did you see him?’

Adam shakes his head almost automatically. ‘I didn’t go to the village. What was he doing?’

Matt pours them both a beaker of ale. ‘What were you doing?’

‘Whatever I wanted,’ Adam says smiling sweetly. ‘Did the monk bat his eyes at you?’

‘Why would he do that, now?’

Adam pulls together the assorted bits and pieces of leftover food. ‘Perhaps because he looks at you as if he wants to gobble you all up?’

Matt scowls playfully at the younger man. ‘Now that’s no kind of a thing to say about a monk.’

‘Well then tell the monk to stop looking at you like you’re a bit of best bacon.’

Matt wraps his arms around Adam’s waist and rests his chin on Adam’s shoulder. ‘How would you like him to look at me?’

‘I have no feelings on the matter one way or another.’

‘No?’

‘No.’

‘I don’t believe you,’ Matt says, biting Adam’s ear.

Adam rolls his eyes and slaps Matt’s hand. ‘I made no comment when you let that German Count take you as he wished.’

‘You did nothing but comment!’

Adam slips out from Matt’s arms and gathers up his pots and pans. ‘I never said anything about that.’ He grins brightly. ‘About his poor taste in clothing, his imminent paunch, his thinning hair, those I made commentary on and they were well deserved at that.’

‘Well you would be hard pressed to insult Brother Mohinder’s features. Where are you going?’

‘Outside to cook our breakfast, unless you want me to start a fire in the midst of their thrice damned chapel.’

Matt raises his eyebrows. ‘You are irritated by him aren’t you?’

‘I’m tired,’ Adam admits.

‘Never known you so ill-tempered after a night with anyone let alone a saucy milkmaid and her brother.’ Matt licks his lips. ‘Is something upsetting you?’

Adam chews his lip as he kicks his toe into the floor. ‘No.’

‘Adam...’ Matt shrugs uncertainly. ‘There’s nothing you cannot tell me.’

‘There’s nothing that you won’t listen to me tell you,’ Adam says, his mouth curling into a wistful half smile. ‘Not the same thing.’

‘Oh.’

Adam rolls his eyes. ‘Don’t pout, Master, or the monk will be angry with me.’

‘Go cook breakfast you fool,’ Matt laughs.



Mohinder’s heart pounds as he pushes open the door to the chapel.

‘In my experience complaining about someone is rarely the best approach to improving your relationship with them,’ Noah remarks.

Mohinder closes his eyes momentarily. ‘You’ve returned. My joy is unbridled indeed.’

‘I am still your guide and I intend to fulfil my mission irrespective of your feelings on the matter.’

‘I made no request otherwise.’

Noah snorts. ‘Your success or failure in this will reflect on me.’

‘Noah, if I did not find sufficient motivation to succeed in this already, then I do not believe that pressure from you would have a marked effect.’

‘I am not seeking to motivate you,’ Noah says, ‘but merely to offer you the perspective that your behaviour has repercussions beyond your own selfish judgement.’

‘Selfish!’ Mohinder bites his lower lip as he realises that Matt is looking in his direction. ‘Go away, please, and if you can’t go away then at least be silent. The man already has cause to think I speak to myself.’

Matt pulls his tunic over his head and casts it aside as Mohinder approaches. ‘Good morning, Brother, how does the morning find you?’

His chest is broad and strong with a little hair following down to his navel. His stomach has a little padding to it but nothing that fails to please Mohinder’s eye in many ways. Matt’s bare skin is the first that Mohinder has seen since he took human form and the effect is unexpected, at least to Mohinder.

‘How dare you be naked in this place?’ he demands.

‘Hardly naked.’ Matt pours water into a bowl and begins washing. ‘But if you are unsure of how a naked body looks I can see to it that you see one for yourself.’

Mohinder folds his arms tightly across his chest. ‘Where is your apprentice?’

‘He’s cooking our breakfast. Where’s your little lad?’

‘Finishing his breakfast.’

‘Ah, well, we fend for ourselves,’ Matt says, straightening up. The water beads across his body and the glistening drops hang in the dark hair. ‘We don’t have anyone to cook and mend for us.’

‘I’m not responsible for that.’ Mohinder licks his lips. ‘I find it very difficult to talk to you when you are in a state of undress.’

‘Maybe you should meet me on equal terms.’

Mohinder feels heat suffuse his face. ‘I don’t find that amusing.’

‘It wasn’t intended to be a jest,’ Matt says. ‘Here, I’ll acquiesce to your tender feelings and put on a tunic.’

‘Have you any inspiration yet?’ Mohinder asks, needing something to say.

Matt shakes his head. ‘No but you’ll know when I have. Adam says he could set my tunic on fire when I am and I wouldn’t notice.’

‘I’ll be sure to wait for that moment then.’



Luke scowls as Matt and Adam tuck into their breakfasts. ‘It isn’t right to eat meat on a Friday.’

‘We aren’t all of us in a position to be so fine and discriminating,’ Adam retorts.

‘Articles of faith are not niceties to be discarded at whim.’

‘It’s not an article of my faith,’ Matt says mildly.

Luke grumbles to himself before turning to Mohinder. ‘Father Abbot would not approve.’

‘There is much of which your Father Abbot does not approve,’ Matt remarks. ‘It might be difficult to distinguish between them in good conscience.’

A little colour rises in Luke’s cheeks.

Mohinder catches Matt’s eye and glowers but Matt merely shrugs.

‘It means nothing to me,’ Noah says, appearing behind Luke, ‘but for some reason you seem to find this person important on some level. The demon is on his way here to scoop him up for one of those witch hunts that they call theological trials.’

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kethni

December 2012

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