kethni: (Matt/Mo)
[personal profile] kethni
Name: Falling – Chapter 9
Pairing: Matt/Mohinder
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spiritual revisionism? Angels, demons, religion, all battered and abused.
Note: Historical fiction

The ground feels as though it is falling from beneath Mohinder’s feet. He resists the pressing desire to question Noah and instead rushes to the chapel door.

‘Has he been stung by some satanic bee?’ Adam asks archly.

‘Is something ailing you, Brother?’ Matt calls.

Mohinder has the chapel door open through which he can hear the distant footsteps and muttered voices of Nathan and the bailiffs approaching.

‘They’ll be here in a two or three minutes at most,’ Noah observes.

Mohinder runs back over to the other men. ‘Luke, find somewhere to hide. Go quickly. Use the door through the sacristy.’

‘Brother Mohinder what-’

‘Come with me,’ Matt says, taking Luke’s arm. ‘Quickly.’

‘Thank you,’ Mohinder says, running his fingers through his hair.

Adam frowns as he watches Matt and Luke rush to the sacristy. ‘Where did this panic come from?’

Mohinder straightens his cassock as he attempts to catch his breath. ‘I had a moment of epiphany.’

‘I don’t understand what’s happening,’ Luke protests as he labours after Matt.

‘Brother Mohinder thinks that you’re in some danger.’

Luke’s sandals slide on the grass as Matt pulls him up the slope towards the stables. ‘But why when we were simply sitting?’

Matt slips into the stables and saddles two horses. ‘I have no idea.’

‘Then why am I running away?’ Luke wails.

Matt rubs his face. ‘Because it causes no injury to trust Brother Mohinder until we have a reason not to trust him. If he is right and we hesitated then the danger, whatever it is, could be realised before we had made a decision.’

Luke struggles to climb up onto the horse. ‘He says… odd things.’

‘That he does.’ Matt easily mounts the other horse. ‘There’s an abandoned hunter’s lodge in the forest. I’ll show you the way.’ He clasps Luke’s shoulder. ‘If he’s wrong and there’s no danger than I’ll fetch you. There will be no harm or damage done either way.’

‘He’s been kind to me.’

Matt squeezes his shoulder.

The door to the chapel is thrown open and a group of heavily armed, muscular men walk through ahead of Nathan. They spread out across the chapel poking and prying into every corner as Nathan glides over to Mohinder and Adam.

Adam watches Mohinder raises himself to his full height and pastes an expression of mild confusion over his angry fear.

‘Good morning Father Abbot,’ Mohinder says, forcing a smile. ‘Have you lost something?’

‘I think the question should be if you have lost something, Mohinder. Where is young Brother Luke?’

Mohinder shrugs easily. ‘I have no idea where he is. Is there perhaps something I can help you with?’

Nathan’s dark-eyed gaze flicks over Adam and he smiles. ‘I’m afraid a very serious charge has been laid against him.’ He strolls up to Mohinder and makes a show of looking around the chapel. ‘That seems particularly remiss of you.’

‘You assigned him to assist me. At no time was it suggested that I act as his nursemaid.’

‘I see that the artist also appears to be missing. I’m sure that you scrutinise his whereabouts at all times.’

Adam sniggers and turns away to control himself.

‘Indeed you’re quite wrong. I have no idea where the artist is.’

Nathan puts his hands on his hips. ‘I see, and is it the same “no idea where”, for both of them?’

‘If I knew that then I would know where they were, and I do not.’

Nathan gives a bright, sudden smile. ‘I’m sure that you’ve done your best with Brother Luke and that nobody will blame you in the least.’

Mohinder licks his lips. ‘What is it for which I will not be blamed?’

‘I’m afraid that a complaint has been made against Brother Luke,’ Nathan says, shaking his head. ‘It’s a terrible thing when one so young in ensnared in so great a corruption.’

‘You assume that the complaint is justified then?’ Mohinder asks, watching a bailiff rifling through Matt’s pencils and paintbrushes.

‘What kind of man would make up a lie of that nature?’ Nathan asks raising his eyebrows.

Mohinder folds his arms across his chest. ‘Your faith and trust in the young men under your aegis is truly moving.’

‘I trust them to be human,’ Nathan says serenely. ‘They can succumb to temptation as can we all.’

‘Yet accusation is not proof. Luke isn’t here, as is abundantly clear, so there is no need for you to continue to disrupt the artist’s work area.’

‘You’re not hiding him under your tunic are you?’ Nathan laughs. A couple of the bailiffs join in and Mohinder feels warmth flood into his cheeks.

‘Indeed not.’

Nathan’s foot taps on the floor before he gathers himself and smiles too brightly. ‘Thank you for your assistance, Brother Mohinder, however grudgingly given. I’ll be sure to let you know when we find Brother Luke.’

‘What is it that Brother Luke is accused of doing?’ Mohinder calls as they leave.

‘Heresy,’ Nathan says shaking his head sadly. ‘He seduced the wine merchant’s son.’

As soon as he has gone, Adam snorts loudly. ‘That milksop seduced someone? He couldn’t seduce a whore with a bag of gold.’

Matt knows how to ride but he does it very little and the path back to the abbey is overgrown and treacherous. He’s still not entirely sure why he ran at Mohinder’s word. In truth, the monk is given to distinctly odd bursts of behaviour, not least of which being an ability to argue loudly in an empty room, but Matt is aware that strange behaviour seems almost encouraged amongst the church. That explains nothing of course and in no way lends Mohinder’s behaviour credence. In fact if Mohinder is correct then there are more questions raised than answered. Matt has neither expectation nor belief in casual miracles. Too many children starve to believe in miraculous feasts. Too many innocents die of disease to believe in miraculous healing. Too many Jews have been slaughtered in pogroms to believe in miraculous warnings of disaster.

Riding along the shoreline, Matt remembers there is a synagogue a few miles away. His people have learnt to settle near docks and major roads. When you have always known you may have to flee in the night you learn to settle places where it will be easiest. He has little love for the church but then he has little love for the thoughtlessly rich who also pay his wages. More than once a promised commission has disappeared in a tantrum or following the casting aside of the faithless subject of the painting. All dealing with the powerful or the rich risk their livelihoods each time they tangle with them, a lowly painter is no different. He is perhaps risking much in hiding the young brother, if Brother Mohinder’s sudden vision is correct. If it is not then there is no harm done but the proof that there is something badly wrong with the brother. To be plagued with untrue visions is a danger only in the reactions of others. Matt knows too well the danger of the church deeming disease to be demonism.

And if the boy truly is in some danger then Matt has cast his lot in with him. He should like to imagine he would maintain his silence but he cannot be sure some “holy” instrument would loosen his lips. Insanity. He has no idea what danger Mohinder saw or from what quarter it attacked, he merely reacted. He cannot truly blame himself for that. Three times in his life he has had to flee from mobs. The first time he was barely walking yet the memory of being carried and dragged along the streets still invades his dreams. Is it any wonder that the suggestion of danger sets him running?

Adam should be safe. The boy could talk his way from a noose, and do it with a bright smile. He should be safe. Brother Mohinder is not Matt’s charge. He has no duty for the monk’s safety. This strikes Matt as fortunate since he has rarely seen a man as incapable of hiding every thought and feeling. He is in some manner like a child, discovering each experience for the first time. Still that is perhaps not surprising for a monk, many of them join the monastery when they are very young and remain isolated throughout their lives. Brother Mohinder isn’t Matt’s responsibility but he can’t deny that he’s worried. He’s worried for himself, for Adam, and for the naïve, easily irritable monk with the brilliant but rare smile.

Violence is not something that comes naturally to Mohinder. As an incorporeal creature, physical destruction had no more meaning for him than a supernova would have meaning for a human. Yet at this time, in this body, he would dearly like to do violence to Nathan.

‘You’re allowing your affection for the young monk to distract you from your purpose,’ Noah says, shaking his head.

Mohinder continues pacing the room. Adam has climbed to the top of the scaffold and is distracting himself by preparing the ceiling.

‘Allowing the artist to leave with him was utterly foolish. What if they are caught, do you think the theological council would allow him to finish the ceiling before they execute him?’

Mohinder storms into the sacristy and slams the door shut behind him. ‘Will you refrain from badgering me in front of humans! I realise that you are used to tormenting humans but that is not your purpose now and plaguing me when I am in no position to speak aids neither of us. If I am burnt at the stake for witchcraft it will hardly assist the artist in painting the ceiling!’

Noah purses his lips and nods. ‘A valid point, if made in a somewhat unnecessarily hysterical fashion. My point remains.’

‘He chose to leave with Luke, I didn’t ask him. How precisely would you have me stop him?’ Mohinder holds up his arms. ‘This body is healthy and younger than his, but he is taller than I am and assuredly stronger.’

Noah raises his eyebrows. ‘You don’t have greater strength than a human?’

‘Naturally not, is it difficult enough to pass as human without having to disguise supernatural strength.’ Mohinder runs his fingers through his hair. ‘If you are concerned about… about the artist then perhaps you should go and watch over him until he returns to the abbey. That would be considerably more useful than remaining here.’

Noah stiffens but nods. ‘Do try not to embarrass yourself any more than strictly necessary.’

There are bored looking men half-heartedly searching the area outside the abbey: poking haystacks and opening wagons, when they can be bothered. Matt draws the horse to a halt and wonders if he should leave the horse here and proceed on foot. It looks to be an expensive beast and he wouldn’t blame the poor villagers if they failed to return it to the abbey. Yet no matter how he couches it, leaving the horse here would be theft as much as if he kept it for himself. It is unfortunate enough that the other horse had to remain with Luke, but returning leading it would have raised a distressing amount of notice.

They are certainly looking for something although Matt still has some scraps of hope that Mohinder is mistaken. He climbs off the horse and gently leads it from the road and into the tangled bushes. From here, he can skirt around to the rear of the abbey and drop the horse into the stables. If he’s caught… he’ll tell them that Brother Mohinder gave him permission to take it for a ride, and hope that the monk doesn’t abandon him. Loyalty to Luke doesn’t mean he will have any loyalty to Matt. What does he even know about the man?

Beauty has been proved treacherous too many times in Matt’s opinion and moral certainty is far more dangerous than mere corruption. Men will do many things for money, power, or sex but the truly terrible deeds belong to those believing in their own righteousness. What else then? A kind of unselfconsciousness that charms and frustrates in equal measures, a sharp tongue at the whim of sudden passions, and a shyness that calls for tenderness.

Matt laughs to himself as he approaches the stables. That is a potent blend indeed and more than enough to snare Matt. He climbs off the horse as leads it by the reins through the rocky ground. It’s a handsome black stallion, strong but not wilful and more affectionate than he might have thought from first glance.

‘I am trusting you now not to betray me,’ Matt says as he leads the stallion into the stable. ‘Stabbing my back will leave your own exposed to another knife.’

The horse snickers as Matt gives him a feedbag and then slips out of the stable.

Adam looks at Mohinder from under his lashes. ‘If you must pass to and forth in this manner would it not be safer to do it on the ground?’

‘How do you work not knowing if your master is safe?’

‘Why wouldn’t he be safe?’

‘They’re looking for him!’

Adam shakes his head decisively. ‘They’re looking for your pet.’

Mohinder stops pacing and runs his fingers through his hair. ‘Luke’s not my pet, and Matt is with him so he’s in as much danger isn’t he?’

‘How does fretting help the matter?’

Mohinder sighs. ‘It doesn’t. I don’t understand how you are so calm about it.’ He sits down next to Adam. ‘I don’t think that being even partially responsible for a person suits me.’

Adam snorts. ‘Then don’t.’

‘It is hardly that simple.’

‘Course it is.’ Adam shrugs as he looks at Mohinder. ‘Look after yourself, Brother, nobody else will.’

Mohinder gazes sadly at the young man. ‘You seem very young to be so self-absorbed.’

‘If I’m self-absorbed it’s because I’m young. When I’m old and need other people I’ll likely be less selfish.’ He grins brightly. ‘Or I’ll be a better liar about it.’ He casts aside his pencils and lies down. ‘I have a sunshined life. Nobody to bear responsibility for and all my needs met.’

‘You care for your master,’ Mohinder says finding a thread to grasp. ‘Do you not find that caring for someone means assuming some portion of responsibility for them, if only in an attempt to protect yourself and the emotion you have invested in them?’

Adam raises his eyebrows. ‘Brother, your speech runs like a riderless horse.’

‘Pretend that you don’t care if you wish. I know better.’

Adam rolls his eyes. ‘You are as bad as Matt is. Idealists both! He’s a master craftsman now and this ceiling will see his name signed in the stars for all time. His path is set but I have to carve mine out.’ He pokes Mohinder in the calf. ‘I think you old men forget what it’s like.’ He looks up as the chapel door swings open. ‘Here’s Matt now fresh from running your little pet out of town.’

‘He’s not my pet,’ Mohinder snaps as he scrambles for the ladder.

‘In your haste to reach your goal try not to fall from grace,’ Adam laughs.

Mohinder proceeds quickly down the ladder but as he reaches the last few feet, his sandals slip from the rungs and he falls clumsily, into Matt’s arms.

‘You’re too close to the ground,’ Matt says, putting Mohinder onto his feet. ‘You need to be higher up to fly.’

‘I slipped,’ Mohinder mutters, leaning back against the scaffold. ‘Thank you.’

‘For what?’

‘For catching me.’

Matt smiles. ‘Perhaps one day you’ll catch me.’

‘I don’t have your strength,’ Mohinder says. Matt seems to be so close and the smell of his skin is intoxicating.

‘You might surprise yourself.’ Matt rests his hand on the wall and leans forward. ‘How did you know they were coming for Luke?’

‘I… I had an epiphany.’

Matt moves a little closer. ‘Is that so? Are you a very holy man, Brother?’

‘No,’ Mohinder says honestly. Not a man. Not truly. ‘I am trying to be.’

Matt smiles. ‘By urging Luke to flee from whatever crime he’s accused of?’

‘He’s an innocent.’ Mohinder licks his lips. ‘You were correct in almost all respects. The young man seduced Luke for reasons of his own though I see Nathan’s hand in it.’

‘He’s safe for now. Later one of us will have to take him food and supplies. He can’t stay where he is.’

‘Where is he?’

Matt shrugs easily. ‘At the abandoned game keeper’s lodge in the forest. It’s well hidden and if he keeps quiet he should stay easy.’

Mohinder straightens up and meets Matt’s eyes. ‘I thank you for your kindness. For your help.’

‘He’s a foolish boy but weren’t we all?’ Matt taps Mohinder’s nose. ‘Even those of us condemned to grow up to monks.’

Mohinder pushes Matt’s hand away but finds the long, broad fingers inexplicably entwined with his own. The heat of Matt’s skin is unbearable; heat that boils through Mohinder’s veins and clenches around his heart. Matt is so close that his soft, full lips fill Mohinder’s vision. How would those lips feel against his own, against his throat, and against his chest?

‘I… We should work,’ Mohinder stammers.

‘I’ll climb up,’ Matt agrees, ‘as soon as you let go of my hand.’


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December 2012

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