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Name: Falling – Chapter 11
Pairing: Matt/Mohinder
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spiritual revisionism? Angels, demons, religion, all battered and abused.
Note: Historical fiction




Mohinder finds himself gesticulating wildly and babbling hopelessly as he tries to explain. The sense of relief as Matt catches hold of him and calms him down is almost overwhelming.

‘Start again,’ Matt says. ‘They’ve found Luke somehow?’

‘That’s what the novice said.’

Matt purses his lips and looks over at Adam. ‘Is that true?’

‘How am I supposed to know?’ Adam demands, flushing angry red.

‘By going into the abbey and flashing your eyes at one of the monks who has let you know your company at would be welcome,’ Matt says icily. ‘It’s hardly a difficult or even noteworthy question to ask given the circumstances.’

Adam throws down his brush and stomps off.

‘Are you in danger?’ Mohinder asks. ‘I don’t know Luke well enough to ascertain if he will betray you.’

‘Torture isn’t common is it? I thought that a theological council would be more interested in confession and repentance.’

Mohinder had thought that he had learnt enough about byzantine workings of church and yet it had occurred to him that he would have to learn about theological councils and their punishments. ‘I don’t know,’ he says quietly. ‘I’m sure that Adam would support you if you… if you denied assisting Luke.’

Matt smiles at that. ‘Brother, are you suggesting that I lie to a theological council?’

Mohinder smiles tiredly. ‘I’m aware that I must seem like a hypocrite to you. I disagree with many of the church’s teachings. Since you eat ham I assume you feel something similar regarding Jewish laws, at least in some respects.’

‘I keep kosher where I may but my faith allows for pragmatism and practicality. If I were to quibble the food I’m given then I’d often not eat.’ Matt runs his fingers through his hair. ‘What would you say if asked if I went with Luke?’

How quickly the simple precepts of right and wrong become impossible to apply to the human world. What is the value of truth when the speaking of it will lead to a much greater crime?

‘Throwing you to the mercy of the wolves wouldn’t help Luke. Though I deplore deception, clinging to the fine detail of my principles at the risk of your life would be lunacy.’ Mohinder licks his lips. ‘I would do what must be done.’

‘I fear that you’re going to be a terrible influence upon me,’ Matt says with a smile.

Mohinder finds himself smiling in response. ‘I thank you for your comfort,’ he says. ‘I feel the need to pray for guidance. Would you mind if I returned this evening and ate with you? I don’t believe I can face Nathan without the desire for violence.’

Matt reaches out and catches Mohinder’s fingers with his own. ‘You’ll never rise to great office if you can’t smile at men you despise.’

‘I fear that you are making fun of me.’

‘Teasing gently.’ Matt raises Mohinder’s hand and kisses his fingers. ‘Perhaps when you come back you can bring something different from the kitchens. I fear if I ask Adam to go again he’ll poison the food in a fit of temper.’

Words have fled Mohinder’s capacity for speech. He nods silently and squeezes Matt’s before he drops it. Mohinder manages a smile as he reaches the ladder and offers a little wave.

It’s madness. He knows that he is on the edge of utter disaster and yet he cannot bring himself to step back. Worse, he cannot quite bring himself to care.

Leaving the chapel Mohinder passes a harried looking Adam.

‘Yes,’ Adam snaps. ‘Before you ask.’

Mohinder passes on feeling the euphoria drain from him as he walks. The abbey has never felt more oppressive and malevolent. Though Luke has broken his vows, Mohinder cannot help but think that expecting an adolescent to ignore the natural and pressing needs of his body is as impossible as it is self-defeating. So many of the rules and precepts that the Rebel has created and passed off as moral imperatives are so harsh and illogical that Mohinder wonders how humans manage to accept them. How capricious and cruel must God seem when all beliefs are tainted with the lies of the Rebel.



Adam heaves himself onto the platform, folds his arms, and stares at Matt as he continues working.

‘I spoke to the almoner. Brother Mohinder’s pet was found this morning,’ Adam says.

‘I see.’

Adam bites his bottom lip. ‘Why are you angry with me?’

Matt stops what he’s doing but doesn’t turn to face Adam. ‘Can you think of any reason why I would be?’

‘Won’t you look at me?’

Matt sighs and turns around. ‘I’m surprised that you can look me in the eye.’

The colour drains from Adam’s face. ‘You think I have something to do with Luke being found.’

‘I do.’

‘Why would you think that?’ Adam demands stiffly.

Matt runs his fingers through his hair. ‘Because every circumstance and action tells me so. You have behaved oddly since Father Abbot sent for you. Did he ask you to spy?’

‘It was harmless. He only wished to know about Brother Mohinder.’

‘And you told him.’

‘It was nothing!’

Matt is on his feet suddenly. ‘Was it nothing when you betrayed an innocent boy? When you betrayed me? For what did you sell yourself, Adam? Patronage? A promise of support when you become a master craftsman?’

Adam clenches his jaw. ‘You say that artists are at the mercy of their employers and that we need friends where we can get them.’

‘Not like this!’

‘They’ll only give him penance,’ Adam says softly. ‘Father Abbot told me.’

Matt’s face flushes angrily. ‘Then why are they building a pyre in the yard?’

‘What?’

‘They’re building a pyre,’ Matt says quietly. ‘Unless there is some miracle then tomorrow Brother Luke will be burned at the stake.’



Though Mohinder has observed in humans the difficulty in praying when burdened by a guilty conscience, when they need to gain succour the most, he has never before experienced it. The sensation is as unpleasant as any he can remember.

‘Boo!’ Elle whispers.

‘You’re in good humour,’ Mohinder complains, narrowing his eyes.

‘I’ve been watching a babe laugh at its feet. Babies and kittens and tiny things of all species always put me in good humour.’ She sits down on the floor opposite Mohinder and flicks his nose. ‘Noah thinks that you’re getting emotionally attached.’

‘When living among humans it is impossible not to become emotionally attached,’ he says stiffly. ‘Unless one is a demon of course.’

‘Mohinder you have to learn to forgive,’ Elle scolds him. ‘For your sake if not for his. Even perfect creatures can err and sin! How will you ever cope with humans if you cannot forgive them?’

‘The boy, Luke, whom the demon assigned to me has been arrested for sodomy.’

‘I hate that term.’ Elle kicks petulantly at the wall. ‘Unless of course he has been arrested for a complete lack of charity and hospitality?’

‘That is not an offense,’ Mohinder says with a shrug, ‘yet willing copulation between two men is.’

‘He knew the rules, Momo.’

‘The rules are unfair. The laws are unjust. He is being persecuted purely to distress me.’

Elle bites her lip and looks at him. ‘Are you sure it is not simply infelicitous timing?’

‘Nathan knew the boy struggled. First he assigned him as my assistant know that would plague him and then he sent him on an unnecessary errand to someone I am convinced he paid to seduce Luke.’

Elle stands up and dances around the room. ‘It’s a tragedy then but the world is full of them.’

‘If I weren’t here this wouldn’t have happened!’

‘But you are and it has. What do you want from Us?’

Mohinder licks his lips. ‘A miracle.’

Elle becomes very serious as she looks at him. ‘The time of miracles has passed, Momo. You know that.’

‘I’m not asking for that time to begin again. I ask for one. One miracle to show the Rebel that he does not hold entire sway upon the earth. One miracle to show Nathan that light can triumph darkness. If he succeeds in killing Luke then why should he not turn his eye to the artist?’

Elle puts her hands on her hips. ‘You want the boy to escape the cell?’

‘I want it to be clear to all onlookers that Luke has done nothing wrong.’

‘Is that all!’

Mohinder smiles sweetly and shrugs. ‘If it were something simple and easy then I should not need a miracle.’

Elle scowls at him. ‘I make no promise.’

‘I understand.’

She sits back on the floor beside him. ‘And is there anything else you wish to tell me?’

Mohinder feels his cheeks warm slightly. ‘What can I tell you that you don’t already know?’

‘Nothing.’ Elle rolls her eyes. ‘But you always feel better for telling me.’

Mohinder plays with his sandals. ‘The artist and I kissed.’

‘What was it like? Was it terribly exciting?’ Elle waggles her eyebrows. ‘Did your limbs turn to water and your member turn to rock?’

‘Elle!’

She giggles and twists a lock of hair around her finger. ‘I think that’s a yes.’

‘I won’t fall,’ Mohinder says quietly.

Elle leans forward to kiss his forehead. ‘Momo, you’re already falling. Every angel who incarnates falls a little, or a lot, but that doesn’t matter as long as you come back to me.’ She taps his nose. ‘I don’t demand perfection, Mohinder, and I will always forgive where there’s repentance.’

‘Do I have to repent kissing him?’ Mohinder asks quietly.

Elle swats the top of his head with her hand. ‘You know better than that.’

‘I don’t know why I look to you for succour when you strike me,’ he grumbles.

‘Make sure that you continue doing so,’ she says, sticking her tongue out. ‘Although the artist may give you some comfort if entirely necessary.’



‘I thought that you would be happy,’ Peter complains. He is sprawled naked on the couches in Nathan’s private room playing with the tassels on one of the cushions.

Nathan doesn’t look around from his position by the window. ‘Executing the boy achieves nothing.’

‘It’ll upset the angel.’

Nathan sighs, staring at the pyre that’s being built outside. ‘This is supposed to be the war being good and evil, Peter. Throwing away a potential resource purely because it will annoy one angel is childish and short-sighted.’

‘He’s just a human. He’d be dying soon anyway,’ Peter sulks.

Nathan turns around and regards his younger brother. ‘He’s barely out of adolescence. That’s not the point; a monk accused of seducing a young man undermines their faith in the ridiculous edifice that’s developed but executing him reinforces it. It proves to them have we’re held to the same standards as they are when hypocrisy and self-interest would serve our needs far better.’

‘Unholy Mother, let him go then!’

‘You’ve done far too thorough a job on the rest of the council for that,’ Nathan says dryly. ‘I did try to dissuade them from using him as a torch but you’d practically driven them crazed. Really, Peter, don’t you have humans of your own to torment?’

Peter grabs a beaker of wine from the table and drains it. ‘Mother sent Samedi to the village to replace me.’ He gives Nathan a sour look. ‘She sent me to tempt some schoolboys but said I took a mason’s hammer to kill a fly.’

‘Did you have them burnt at the stake?’ Nathan asks, raising his eyebrows.

‘They hang witches.’

Nathan pours himself some wine. ‘Were you supposed to tempt them into witchcraft?’

‘I don’t know. I forgot. They’re not buried on consecrated ground so what’s it matter?’

‘You remember that consecrated ground was something we invented?’ Nathan points out.

Peter rolls his eyes. ‘I can’t keep track. It’s confusing.’

Nathan takes a sip of wine and sits down on his chair. ‘Did mother send you here?’

Peter shrugs and fiddles with the beaker that he’s holding. ‘Samedi didn’t tell me where she wished me to go, only that she wished to leave there.’

‘So you came here to kill my fly with a mason’s hammer.’

‘What would you have done with him then? What use is having the monk caught if he’s not executed?’

Nathan pinches the bridge of his nose. ‘Luke is a true believer tormented by the clash between his beliefs and his natural drives. With some delicate work, I could turn that torment into anger and bitterness. We could have had his soul but now he’ll get whisked up there with great fanfare. The zealots will take it as proof of the church’s line on men who lie with men while those who press for reform will clasp him to their bosom as a martyr.’


Peter pushes his hair back out of his face. ‘You are just like mother and father. You say that you want to corrupt many souls instead of slaving over one saint for years but when I try to help you then you complain.’

Nathan crosses his legs. ‘Since mother chased you out of the village I assume that they boys hadn’t voluntarily chosen witchcraft. What did you do a little possession here and there? The villagers assumed they were witches and hanged them. All well and good but for the fact that your choirboys’ souls weren’t tainted so, like Luke will, they went straight to the embrace of the damned almighty.’ He takes a sip of his wine. ‘So the one thing that mother sent your there to do, you didn’t.’

‘Well… you say that a little evil in the right place spreads evil on.’

Nathan sighs and takes pity on his younger brother. ‘There is certainly that.’



The chapel is oddly quiet when Mohinder returns. There is no echo of conversation between Matt and Adam or sounds of them working on the ceiling. Though he was not expecting laughter, not with Luke under arrest, this silence is almost oppressive.

‘Hello?’

‘Up here, Brother,’ Matt calls.

Mohinder hurries up the ladder. Even in those few words Matt sounds uncharacteristically subdued.

‘Is Adam not with you?’ Mohinder asks, brushing down his habit as he reaches the platform.

‘No.’

Mohinder looks at the tense lines of Matt’s back and tentatively puts a hand on his shoulder. ‘Have you quarrelled?’

Matt rubs his face, then turns around and gives Mohinder a faint smile. ‘Have some ale with me.’

Mohinder sits down and finds his hand still resting on Matt’s shoulder as if by its own volition. ‘Will you move the platform soon?’

‘In the next day or two most likely. Do you know when they are going to try Luke?’

‘I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to any of the monks,’ Mohinder admits. ‘I have little faith that they will treat him fairly.’

Matt catches Mohinder’s hand and squeezes it. ‘Have you seen the pyre outside? They mean to burn him.’

‘I don’t believe that he’ll be burnt. I have prayed that he won’t though there is no shortage of innocents killed unfairly. The devil is abroad upon the earth devouring the innocent and the guilty alike.’ Mohinder sighs. ‘Waiting for judgement at the end of days seems far more palatable when you do not see the torment and cruelty abounding.’

‘Poor Mohinder,’ Matt says softly. ‘You’re not suited for life outside a monastery are you?’

‘I fear not,’ Mohinder laughs slightly. ‘At present I am better suited to a terrible warning that a good example.’

‘Today, perhaps, tomorrow you may be a wonderful example.’

‘Is Adam bedding more distant villagers?’

Matt’s cheeks redden. ‘I don’t know where he is.’

‘He hasn’t run away!’

Matt laughs slightly and shakes his head. ‘That would need shame and he’s incapable of that. No, I couldn’t look further at his face. I sent him to the village with some money so he can sleep in the inn.’

‘Oh.’ Mohinder licks his lips. ‘I thought you and Adam were… close.’

In truth, the relationship between Matt and Adam is not one that Mohinder can easily or simply categorise; nonetheless, he feels an unpleasant wrench at the thought that they are suffering a breach.

Matt’s eyes scan Mohinder’s face and he weighs his words before he speaks. ‘I took Luke five miles away to secluded woodland. I saw the way that they were searching. It should have taken them days to reach him but they brought him back within hours.’

‘I don’t understand.’

Matt sighs. ‘They knew where to find him. Someone told them and only we four knew where he was. Luke could not, you would not, and I did not.’

Mohinder feels his stomach drop as he realises Matt’s meaning. ‘You believe that Adam told Nathan where Luke was hiding?’

‘I know that he did,’ Matt says quietly. ‘I asked him and he admitted it.’

Mohinder squeezes Matt’s hand. ‘Did he say why?’

Matt shakes his head. ‘He did not but he it wasn’t needed. He’s ambitious. The abbot here is worldly, he nurtures connections with the aristocracy that can be used to further Luke’s career, if the abbot chooses to do so.’

‘Nathan lives to corrupt everyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with him,’ Mohinder spits. ‘He wears a monk’s habit to cover his rotting soul.’

Matt smiles despite himself. ‘I might almost think you dislike the man.’

‘To call him a man is to insult mankind.’

‘What would you call Adam?’

‘Foolish.’ Mohinder rubs his face with his free hand. ‘I seem to remember that he was adamant that Luke was only have penance.’

‘He knows better now.’

‘You miss my point. He thought the consequences trifling.’

Matt shakes his head. ‘You miss my point,’ he says gently. ‘I’m Jewish. For hundreds of years my people have been hounded from their homes, chased from country to country as if we were a kind of vermin.’

‘This isn’t the same,’ Mohinder says softly. ‘Adam didn’t persecute Luke.’

‘Mohinder, the only reason I’m here, the only reason many Jews are here, is because someone aided us. Someone risked their life for what they believed was right. I have always thought that if I had that choice I would do the same. Jews, Christians or anything else we are all human. We owe not just charity to each other but compassion. Where was Adam’s compassion?’

Mohinder bites his lower lip. ‘He’s young, Matt, and foolish. You mean too much to him for you to abandon him because of this. Let me worry about Luke. Adam needs your compassion now.’


 

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kethni

December 2012

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