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[personal profile] kethni
Name: Falling – Chapter 10
Pairing: Matt/Mohinder
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spiritual revisionism? Angels, demons, religion, all battered and abused.
Note: Historical fiction

The day passes like a kind of fever dream for Mohinder. Every word Matt speaks pitches tiny darts into his heart. Each time Matt’s arm or hand brushes close, Mohinder feels warmth burning through his clothing.

‘That was the bell for sext,’ Matt remarks, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. ‘By now the brothers will be gathering for lunch.’

‘I’ll go to the kitchen and get some food,’ Adam offers.

‘Wait now, what about Brother Eric?’ Matt tweaks Adam’s nose. ‘Are you now unconcerned that he will attempt an assault on your virtue?’

Adam clambers to his feet and crosses to the ladder. ‘I wish him well finding it. I’m sure that one of his ill-used assistants will be glad enough of a handsome face smiling pleasantly to give me some food.’

‘Will you eat with us, Brother?’ Matt asks. ‘If not you will be late for your meal.’

Mohinder’s stomach is roiling and rolling but he nods. ‘That would be kind.’

Matt is surprised again, this time that Adam makes no comment but instead zips down the ladder at speed. He dries his hands on his tunic and sits down beside Mohinder.

‘I think this business with Luke has disturbed you.’

‘I… yes. He’s a child. The thought of him being hunted through the countryside like an animal is horrifying.’ Mohinder pinches the bridge of his nose. ‘I don’t know that I can look at Nathan without wishing him violence.’

‘Were you in a hermitage?’

Mohinder shifts, uncomfortably aware of Matt’s closeness. ‘It’s true that I am only recently… in the world at large.’

‘I fear you find it crueller than you expected,’ Matt says gently.

Mohinder feels warmth flooding his cheeks. ‘Am I so transparent?’

‘I have no skill at hiding my emotions either.’

‘I thought that I was prepared for this,’ Mohinder says quietly. ‘I had no idea. I was told to work with you, to ensure that you painted the ceiling. There is such wickedness here. Such malice, hatred, and selfishness.’

Matt gently lays his hand over Mohinder’s, and Mohinder’s heart leaps into his throat.

‘We’re not all like that.’

‘I’m aware of that,’ Mohinder stammers. He wants to pull his hand away but he can no longer tell where he ends and Matt begins.

‘People are frightened.’ Mohinder feels Matt shrug. ‘I think people do more terrible things out of fear than hate or anger.’

Mohinder turns his head and sees Matt is already looking at him. ‘Of what are they frightened?’

‘Oh, everything,’ Matt laughs. ‘Being unhappy, not getting what they want, losing what they have. Fear of being found out. Fear of being alone.’

‘Of what are you afraid?’ Mohinder asks quietly.

‘Oh, everything,’ Matt says. ‘At this moment I’m frightened that I’ve misunderstood you.’

Mohinder swallows. ‘Why should that frighten you?’

‘Because I want to kiss you.’

Feeling adrift and dreamlike, Mohinder finds himself leaning forward.

‘Breathe, Brother,’ a soft voice laughs. ‘It does a body good.’

Mohinder descends from some cloud of his own imagination to find he has his forehead resting against Matt’s. Their hands are entwined together and Mohinder’s breath is a ragged panting but nothing to the furious pounding of his heart.

‘Adam should be back soon,’ Matt says, lifting Mohinder’s hand up and kissing his palm. ‘I can’t think what has taken him so long.’

‘Perhaps Brother Eric has eaten him,’ Mohinder says weakly. The ground beneath his feet seems to be spinning.

‘Brother Eric likely could, and crunch up his bones.’ Matt gently pushes a lock of Mohinder’s hair out of his face. ‘I don’t know what is wrong with Adam. He’s not himself.’

Mohinder lies flat and holds on to the floor as if frightened he may spin off. ‘You worry about him.’

‘For all the effect it has. He pays little heed.’

Mohinder finds himself smiling. ‘He is fortunate in his choice of master.’

‘There’s no need to flatter me, I’m already minded to affection.’

Mohinder licks his lips as he looks over at Matt. ‘No flattery was intended.’

Matt starts to say something but pauses as the door to the chapel swings open. ‘Who goes?’

‘It’s only I,’ Adam calls back. ‘Have no fear of helping. I’ll struggle along desperately.’

‘Time enough you did some work.’ Matt stands up and brushes off his hands. ‘Are you hungry, Brother?’ he asks gently.

Mohinder forces himself to sit up. His stomach churns like a stormy sea, but his dizziness has begun to ease. ‘My appetite is poor today but I would be honoured to eat with you.’

‘I’m told a poor appetite for you is likely a regular appetite for the rest of us,’ Matt laughs, helping Mohinder to his feet.

Mohinder feels his cheeks flush with warmth. ‘Who would say such a thing?’

‘Cruel and jealous people, I have no doubt.’ Matt brushes dust from Mohinder’s habit. He heads to the ladder and begins climbing down.

Mohinder takes a deep breath and gingerly begins his descent.

Adam is outside the chapel, frying ham and onions in a pan over a smoky fire. Mohinder steps out and finds the day ablaze with sunshine. The rich scent of pollen fills the air as bees and butterflies flirt among the flowers. Farther away rams and sheep are rutting while bulls bellow their lust at stolid cows. It’s summer time. Mating season.

Mohinder feels Matt’s closeness without having to look; feels the warmth of his skin and feels his lungs fill with the scent of Matt’s skin.

‘Something smells good,’ Matt remarks.

‘I don’t know why you say it like that,’ Adam says sharply. ‘I said I was getting food and that’s what I did.’

‘Less of that!’ Matt says, lightly cuffing his ear. ‘That’s no way to carry on when we’re entertaining a guest now, is it? Your manner gets worse and worse. You’ll not win favour with the high and mighty if you don’t curb your tongue.’

Adam smiles slightly. ‘The high and mighty likely enjoy my tongue, as you used to.’

‘Mind how you talk! It’s bad enough they’re out looking for Brother Luke,’ Matt says, shaking his head. ‘If they are persecuting novice monks then they’ll think nothing of pitching you and me on the bonfire.’

Adam rolls his eyes. ‘He won’t get burned at the stake. He’ll get a few months penance.’

‘The penitential manuals say ten years or more for a man who lies down with another, and that is for a man confessing it freely!’ Mohinder says. ‘Nathan means to claim Luke as a heretic also.’

‘You say that because you hate him,’ Adam says, viciously poking the food with a wooden spoon.

‘What manner of biting thing has plagued you?’ Matt asks, taken the pan and spoon from Adam and bumping him aside with his hip. ‘If you mean to continue in this high dudgeon I’ll send you to Brother Eric and tell him to do his worst.’

Adam rubs his hip and scowls. ‘Then who will feed you?’

‘I’ll find myself another apprentice.’

‘I’ll find another master,’ Adam says, sticking out his tongue.

Matt takes the frying pan off the fire and rests it on the pile of rushes Adam has put aside as a trivet. ‘Go then, wicked child, abandon me after all I’ve done.’

‘Do you do this often?’ Mohinder asks cautiously.

‘Threaten to leave?’ Matt asks. ‘He does it all the time.’

Adam dishes the food out into earthenware bowls. ‘My master threatens to sell me for soap or soup bones,’ he says, shaking his head.

Mohinder takes the proffered bowl and sits down on the floor with the others to eat. ‘I wonder that you have been apprentice this long.’

‘Who else would be his apprentice?’ Adam gnaws at a lump of ham. ‘And he needs looking after.’

‘He does do that,’ Matt agrees.

Mohinder relaxes slightly as Matt and Adam continue to bicker while they eat. There is something oddly comforting about their easy familiarity and open affection. The family of angels love God and are loved in returned, but while angels are cordial to each other, there is no great warmth or affection between them.

‘Some ale?’ Matt says, holding a beaker out to Mohinder.

‘Thank you.’

‘We’re not chattering on too much?’ Matt asks. ‘We get used to making our own entertainment.’

‘I like it; I’m not used to…’ Mohinder finds his cheeks warming at Matt’s attention. ‘I’m not used to… this kind of chatter.’

‘It takes a little practice to play the game but is well worth the cultivation.’ Matt says.

Mohinder takes a sip of his ale. ‘Perhaps you can teach me.’

Adam stands abruptly and kicks the soil over the fire. ‘I suppose one of us should make some pretence at working and it seems it must be now.’

‘No need for that now,’ Matt says, but Adam waves a hand and stamps away.

‘Did I offend?’

Matt watches Adam through the open doorway as he climbs the ladder. ‘He’s been disturbed a few days but today is worse.’

‘He and Luke get on remarkably ill,’ Mohinder says wryly. ‘They’re both so young and yet so inflexible.’

Matt shrugs. ‘The young are. All my apprentices have been. They think that the world is clear and simple.’

‘Have you had many apprentices?’

‘Adam is my third and by far the most gifted.’ Matt rolls his eyes. ‘Also the most challenging. I sometimes employ assistants for large commissions but I don’t train them. Adam likes to order them about if he can get away with it. He can be quite the little dictator.’

Mohinder finds himself smiling. ‘Does he issue orders to you?’

‘Frequently! Wait, he’ll come out here again and order me to work.’

‘I’m keeping you from your work,’ Mohinder says regretfully.

Matt stands up and ruffles Mohinder’s hair. ‘I ought to return to the ceiling before Adam begins threatening to dock my pay.’

Mohinder gathers the dishes together. ‘I’ll clean these.’

‘Adam can do it.’

‘He’s busy,’ Mohinder says easily. ‘I can do it.’

There’s a certain relief in leaving the chapel although Mohinder has a strong desire to avoid Nathan as much as possible. Being around Matt makes his heart race, his mouth dry, and his stomach churn and yet he can’t quite tear himself away from the artist. Even now, he finds himself thinking about Matt’s full mouth, his long legs, and his warm, dark eyes.

It can’t go further. He knows that. If Matt were some blushing virgin then Mohinder would be wracked with guilt at the thought that he had somehow corrupted him. Instead, he almost feels as if this were some kind of perfect interlude without repercussions or consequences.

The thought of Noah’s likely scorn should he find out is unpleasant in the extreme. He has no understanding of the stress that incarnation puts on Mohinder. The fact that Mohinder understands that the body he inhabits has natural appetites does in no way alleviate the pressure those appetites place on him. Food, sleep, and elimination are accepted yet the Rebel has worked hard to enmesh sexual release in a morass of social and legal taboos.

In truth, Mohinder had naively thought that he could simply ignore the need for sexual release but of course, that had simply resulted in an unconscious release. The mind considers itself the crown and ruler of the body but experience has proved to Mohinder that the mind is deluded in this matter.

This infatuation cannot go further. Mohinder is forced to pause for a moment. It is an infatuation. He’s infatuated with a human. He almost laughs, but the painful reality of it is too pressing.

When he reaches the kitchens, he finds the place in a controlled uproar. Brother Eric is heaving his bulk about with malice aforethought, shoving assistants aside when they fail to move out of the way in time. Mohinder waits until he throws himself over to the far end of the room before approaching a harried assistant.

‘What? What is it?’ the young novice demands.

‘I seek a pump to wash these vessels.’

The novice wipes the sweat from his forehead. ‘Where are those from?’

‘I need only some water, Brother, please don’t concern yourself with the details.’

The novice snorts and leans against a counter. ‘Give them here. I might as well wash them with the rest. They’re the artist’s dishes I suppose?’

‘Why? Who’s been talking about me? There’s no sin in eating a meal!’

‘No glut of foreign monks in the abbey neither,’ the novice scoffs. ‘His food’s better than ours is it?’

‘I wished to eat in comparative solitude,’ Mohinder stammers. ‘I dislike crowds of people.’

‘That why you don’t come to services neither?’

‘I have always worshipped in private,’ Mohinder says, carefully honest. ‘Is it always this busy in here?’

The novice snorts as he takes the dishes from Mohinder and puts them in the sink. ‘Rarely after a meal but now the abbot has decided that we are to feed all of these searchers.’

Mohinder licks his lips as he looks around the room. ‘For what are they searching?’

‘Nothing now.’ He looks at Mohinder over his shoulder. ‘I thought Luke was assisting you. Will you be wanting another assistant now? I’d be happy to leave the kitchen.’

Mohinder’s stomach clenches and nausea floods through him. ‘Luke has not been found guilty of anything merely accused and since nobody knows where he is…’

‘He’s locked in his cell,’ the novice says, scrubbing the dishes. ‘He ran away and hid but they found him and brought him back just now. They’re going to have the trial tomorrow.’



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