Fire & Ice #10
Shock punched Ryan square in the chest. Josh made a choked noise. Ryan looked at Simeon, took in his faintly annoyed expression, then raised his eyes to lock gazes with Joshua. There was a beat of silence.
Then laughter boomed through the room. Ryan tried to speak, choked on his own spit, and then gave up and lay shaking, tears streaming down his face, holding an equally incoherent Simeon in one arm and Josh in the other. After several minutes they all wound down sufficiennty to be able to draw breath without immediately bursting back into raucous laughter. Ryan wiped his eyes.
“Simeon, Josh’s dad did hear you. And he wants us…no, he wants Josh, to come to Hell for a while. He’s told Josh that the only way he can get out of you having to go there in his stead is to gather the things he’s put onto an impossible scavenger hunt list, or…and he didn’t say this part, but he told Josh once that he’ll always accept his son’s unconditional return to Hell. Forever.”
Josh wiped his head back and forth, not so much in negation, but more in a shamed display of anguish. Simeon’s jaw dropped. What kind of father?
“You mean—Lucifer is Josh’s father?”
Ryan braced himself for Simeon’s rejection. He was the only one who’d ever dealt well with Josh being Satan’s son. Ryan wasn’t sure that a virginal, extremely sheltered frost elemental would be able to deal with the implications without painting Josh with the same tarnished reputation his father struggled with. In Ryan’s opinion, Lucifer actually wasn’t that bad a guy. He’d had a big disagreement with the big guy, and then everyone started treating him like shit. No one had ever listened to his side of things.
It was understandable that he was a might short tempered after all this time. Even J.C. lost his cool on occasion, but the big guy never got pissed about that. And really, where was the fairness in that?
Simeon’s eyes were huge, and his face had gone just as pale as in the seconds before he fainted. Ryan shook him, lightly, and spoke sharply.
“Simeon. Simeon, Josh is still the same guy. He’s good. He’s honorable. And I love him.”
Josh made a soft, pained sound. He turned into Ryan, burying his face in the crook of the angel’s neck, with his clean shaven face turned into the broad curve of Ryan’s white feathered wings. Simeon made an inarticulate squeeking sound somewhere between a scared mouse fleeing an owl’s outstretched talons and an angry babe demanding a mother’s attention.
Simeon cleared his throat and tried again.
“I never said he changed Ryan. Who have you two been spending time with that you’d assume I was going to think so badly of him?”
Simeon shook his head, bewilderment clear on his face. He reached forward, his hand settling as lightly as the kiss of an angel’s wing on the upturned face of the mortal they guarded. Ryan marveled at the sight. He’d never seen anyone touch Josh so reverently except him. Josh quivered against him. Simeon’s fingers trembled discernibly as he smoothed them down over Josh’s shoulder.
Ryan’s skin prickled. He glanced up quickly, amazement turning his insides to liquid gold. The sunshine of the presence before him soothed him. He drew in a shaking breath. Everything would be fine now. He knew his friend couldn’t take sides, but to have his support this way?
“Josh, Simeon. I’d like you to meet my friend, J.C.”
Simeon looked up, and his heart melted. The most beautiful being he’d ever seen stood at the foot of their bed, his arms outstretched in what could only be a benediction.
“Give him to me.”
Ryan’s mouth dropped open.
Simeon’s brow crinkled.
Did he…could he mean Josh? If this being was who Simeon thought he was, then surely this went against some sort of protocol.
“Ah, and who might you be, sir? I mean, I think I know who you are, but…you aren’t going to punish him are you? Take me instead, please. I think maybe Josh has been hurt enough already.”
The being turned burning eyes, every color of the sky on Simeon, and suddenly the little frost elemental who had never been warm enough was burning alive. A voice whispered in his mind, and the whisper was as the roaring of canons and lions. The thunder of Heaven itself rolled in the small confine of Simeon’s mind and he froze, suspended above the vastness of eternity.
“You would take his pain, Simeon of the Elementals, daughter of my mother?”
“Yes, sir, I would.”
The eyes bore into Simeon a moment, an eternity longer, and then in a flash of laughter softer than springs first shoot unfurling to the warming sun a laugh wrapped round the three on the bed, tying then inexorably together with visible strands of gold.
“So be it, Simeon of the Elementals. You shall be bound to these two troublemakers, and they shall bear your pain and joy as you bear theirs.”
Something warm, unbearably sweet and full and endless opened in Simeon’s chest. The painful stretch as his soul filled to overflowing with beauty and love brought tears to Simeon’s eyes. Josh gasped, his eyes wild and filled with fear.
“Oh, J.C., what have you done? Now both our fathers have claim on him.”
J.C. smiled, an enigmatic curl of his plush lips over his wide mouth.
“Yes, Josh. I know. And he is too pure, too beautiful for us to allow either one of them to sully his hearth, isn’t he?”
He shimmered then, before fading slowing into the ether. Simeon was sure then just whom he’d been talking to.
“Er, guys, I’m pretty sure I know who that was…but what did he just do to us?”
Ryan answered in a shaking, awestruck voice.“Yeah, Simeon, that was the son of God. And he just bound the three of us tighter than Josh and I ever could have, and in doing so bound you forever to both Heaven and Hell.”