Author Topic: Intermission  (Read 274 times)

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Offline Ehcorn

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Intermission
« on: November 18, 2019, 10:11:09 AM »
For a time, Remi was the only adult in the cotton candy line who didn’t have a child hanging onto him. Then, a little girl with big brown eyes and black corkscrew curls plucked at his coat sleeve until he looked down at her.

“You smell funny,” she said, her button nose flaring as she sniffed at him.

“Cynthia, leave him alone!” An older woman with the same black hair and brown eyes tugged the girl back and mouthed an apology. They looked enough alike that Remi had already assumed it was her mother, but the way she proceeded to scold her for being rude to strangers sealed it.

“It’s alright,” Remi laughed. “I’m curious now. What do you think I smell like?”

The little girl glanced at her mother and once the woman had sighed and nodded, she sniffed at him again. “Like… flowers and sunshine and…” She paused and gnawed on her lip. Eventually, she brightened. “And cake!”

“Okay, that’s enough. Come on, honey.”

Despite her mother’s attempt to keep her facing forward to the front of the line, Cynthia turned and demanded to know why he smelled like cake.

“I’m not sure, but all angels smell like me,” he said. “Except for the dark ones. They smell like thunderstorms.”

“You’re an angel?”

“He's no angel,” insisted a boy that had moved to stand next to him. He had gray wings, a spade-tipped tail the same color, and a mighty scowl. “Everybody’s got their wings out and he ain’t got wings.”

Remi created a second commotion that night when in response, he dropped the glamor that hid his wings and spread them as far as he could without knocking over anyone. He grinned as he was swarmed, but the bombardment of questions and hands tugging at sensitive feathers soon resulted in an overwhelmed angel. Could he do miracles? Was God real? What was it like in heaven? Had he talked with Aunt Polly behind the pearly gates? It was all Remi could do to nod or shake his head before another question was rapid-fired his way.

During a lull, he realized someone was using his wings to hold themselves standing.

“Careful,” he said, tilting his shoulder forward and twisting to peer behind him. A chubby-faced toddler with a pink headband had her sticky hands deep in his feathers. She giggled at him, then yanked. Hard. “Ow! That hurt!” He jerked away from her without thinking, toppling the youngster. There was a long stretch of silence, but on its heels was a deep intake of breath and a long, earsplitting screech that turned into blubbering cries. Remi stood paralyzed, his eyes wide and mouth agape, until she was rescued by a parent that shot a disapproving look his way. What had they expected him to do? Stand there while she plucked him bare?

He huffed and clamped his wings tight to his back, but before he could concentrate on the glamor that would hide them again, two identical orange-winged imp boys moved in sync to tug on his wingtips, vying for his attention.

“I got a big owie,” one said, bouncing around to hang onto Remi’s hand for balance so he could lift a knee for inspection. Remi blinked when he pulled a pant leg up and ripped off his rainbow band-aid to show off his raw kneecap. “I got it um… when I was trying to fly but I can’t because mommy says I’m too little.”

“I see. I bet… I bet that hurts a lot,” he said, blinking more rapidly and doing everything not to yelp as the imp's identical brother tried to pry one of his feathers loose. Hot lances of pain shot upwards throughout the entirety of his wing and into his back. He pulled away from his tormentor with a grimace and leaned over to inspect his brother’s knee further. One healing touch later and the boy’s skin had knitted itself up. “There,” Remi said, and felt better now that he’d made some use of himself. “That should—“

“Do me next, do me!” The second imp had rolled his shirt sleeve to reveal a long-ago healed over scar on his elbow. “Mine’s way worser than his.”

Remi’s face fell.

He wasn’t going to get cotton candy any time soon, was he?

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2019, 09:48:15 PM »
Samuel arrived in the food district just as Remi revealed his wings again. This time, they stayed out because the angel was distracted by the children around him. Sam took the opportunity presented to him and circled around the area, keeping his distance, slowly prowling into a position where he could see the angel's face to watch him talk.

It was definitely Gene. Bearded and with a hair cut, a beautiful suit and an astounding pair of white wings... but his Gene all the same. It was confounding.

When a wooden stick with a huge, wispy ball of pink cotton candy was thrust in front of his face, Sam realised that he'd inadvertently stood by the concession stand Remi was in line for. Except he hadn't moved because of the kids crawling all over him. "Thanks," Sam smiled, taking the stick off the person who'd spent hours whipping little stakes around the spinning vat of sugar, earning a tired smile for his expression of gratitude.

Presented with the perfect opener, Samuel approached Gene/Remi with his offering held out between them. "Howdy again. This here's for you. Mind if we take it somewhere where, uh, I c-could t-talk to you? I h-have some questions," Sam declared, nerves biting at his words and chopping them up with his stammer. He tried a smile and was surprised it stuck, pulling warily at the corners of his lips but still there.

Looking at Gene had always been cause to smile, though.

Offline Ehcorn

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2019, 05:27:23 AM »
It was funny how life worked. One moment, he’d resigned himself to a disappointing future without cotton candy, and the next, it’d appeared in front of him as if by magic — if magic was the handsome vampire with an interesting accent he'd met earlier. He let loose a short laugh of mingled surprise and joy and reached for the stick, his warm fingers brushing the vampire's cool ones as quick as the twin imps that scampered away when Remi’s wings dematerialized.

Like his initial entrance to the park, once he looked like a normal man, interest in him waned. He was able to focus again. First, it was to marvel and poke at the pink tuft that looked like a cloud during sunrise, then it was on the vampire who’d given it to him in exchange for some of his time.

“Alright,” Remi said while nodding. “I saw some places to sit nearby.”

He led the way to an area filled with blue picnic tables and took a seat at one farthest away from the smelly, overflowing trashcans that dotted the park. His initial plan had been to wait politely for the vampire to get situated, too, but Remi couldn't resist leaning forward and sticking his tongue to his treat. He sat back, his eyebrows lowered in confusion. He’d expected it to spring back like when he’d poked it, not dissolve and carry his tastebuds away on a river of pure sugar.

“It's so sweet," he mumbled, smacking his lips thoughtfully until he remembered why they’d come to sit down rather than remain standing as they had been. He lowered his cotton candy to regard the besuited man across from him with a hint of wariness in his hazel eyes. “What'd you want to talk about? If it’s blood donations, I’ll go ahead and tell you I don’t do those.”

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2019, 10:33:40 AM »
Samuel took a seat opposite Remi and watched him try the cotton candy, mostly fascinated with his expression rather than his verdict on the stuff's behaviour. It was as good an excuse to look at him as any.

When Remi talked about not donating blood, the Southern vampire was startled, his eyes widening and his mind returning to their last encounter together - when he'd been drinking from Gene and gearing up to follow through on the good feelings aroused by the action. If Vomas hadn't intervened, he was confident they'd have become lovers. The thought set a fluttery feeling loose in his belly.

"No, not that," he dismissed agitatedly, leaning his elbows on the table and sitting forward, his hands bunched together and fretting at one another as he tried to work out how to say what he wanted to say. "It's just... I know you. Used to know you. When you were Gene. We were... close," he frowned, knowing it wasn't the right word but unable to think of something better with those autumn-leaf-coloured eyes focussed on him, stealing his confidence that he had any idea what he was talking about.

Sam frowned. "You don't remember me?"

Offline Ehcorn

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2019, 02:53:58 PM »
There it was again. That name. When they’d first met, the vampire had greeted him by it, and it didn’t mean anything more to him now than it had then. He acted as if he kept saying it enough, his imaginings would become reality, that he’d be this Gene he remembered.

Remi shook his head, slowly at first, then more rapidly when Sam finally posed his question.

“No, I don’t,” he said, something of his exasperation sneaking into his voice. “Look, my first time on this plane was…” Remi trailed off, his mouth twisting as he tried to remember how long ago his father had given him his mission and led him from the heavenly plane to the earthly one. Days began when the sun rose and ended when night fell. There were seasons in some places he’d been, but none in others. But he didn't know how many days. He didn't know how many seasons. He hadn't been given a way to quantify his existence before he'd left home.

“I’m not sure how long, exactly, but so many things are still new to me, so it can't have been long. It’s the first time I’ve tasted this,” he said, waving his cotton candy. “It’s the first time I’ve been to a… ah…” He swept his free hand out to gesture to the area around them, his mouth opening and closing uselessly as he searched for the word that would accurately describe where they were. “It's the first time I've been here before. So how could we have known each other? Been close?"

He looked at the vampire then, his expression softening along with the words that followed, “I'm sorry, but I don't even know your name."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2019, 03:13:37 PM »
As the angel spoke with such conviction that Sam automatically believed everything from his mouth was true, his heart sank. He didn't sound the same. Didn't act the same. Had no memory of anything much but the two planes he'd visited.

He wasn't the same. This wasn't his Gene.

"Oh. I'm so sorry," Sam frowned, trying his best not to look as crestfallen as he felt. He held out a hand to be shaken. "Forgive my rudeness. I'm Samuel Taylor - Sam, usually," he introduced, summoning a smile that felt hollow.

"So... your only memories are of this time on this plane and you don't know how long it's been," he summarised, trying to cement the knowledge into his own stubborn noggin, which was insisting he knew what this man felt like pressed up against him and what he kissed like. It was thoroughly disconcerting. "Do you know how long you've been in the city? Where do you live?"

Offline Ehcorn

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2019, 08:53:52 PM »
After putting aside his cotton candy, Remi reached out to clasp and shake Sam’s hand — a gesture he’d performed dozens of other times, but this felt different. It wasn’t normal that he could only focus on how cool and soft his fingers were, or that he desperately wanted to pull his hand closer to his face so he might kiss the inside of his palm.

Remi blinked and shook his head, trying to force himself back to his senses. What was wrong with him? He'd just met the man. He released Sam and sat back in his seat, an unsettled look skittering across his face. Sam asked more questions, but he couldn’t bring himself to answer. Not immediately. Silence stretched between them like saltwater taffy as he shifted to raise his arm and lean his neck into his hand so he could rub it, pressing hard into the skin and muscle.

“Like I said, I've only entered the earthly plane once, and I’ve only been living in the city since… Well. Since I found this untended garden on top of the tallest building and took it over. I know I’ve been there long enough everything that was brown is green again.”

He lowered his hand and regarded Sam with a question in his eyes before it flitted to his lips. “What made you think I was that other man? Gene?”

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2019, 09:42:34 PM »
The warmth emanating from Remi's hand seemed to travel into Samuel and tug directly on his groin. He swallowed as the heat overwhelmed his senses, causing his eyelashes to flutter and his mouth to drop open a little, in surprise. Then there was that gesture - the neck rubbing one - and he was Gene again, shy and furtive but beautifully masculine and desirable. If Sam had a heartbeat, it would've doubled right about then.

Sam was distracted from strategically narrowing down the tallest buildings in the city to figure out where this garden - garden? Was he implying that he was living in a garden? - could possibly be, by the question asked of him. He sat forward again, sensing a crack in Gene's defence. His hands were flat on the table, where he was forcing them so he didn't reach out and touch.

"Well, because I knew you well. You look exactly the same - though, with a beard and a nicer haircut, admittedly, but your eyes, face and body are exactly the same - and you move the same. Your accent's different, you used to talk like me - especially when we reminisced about your mama, daddy and your farm - but your voice is perfect. My hearing is precise and, trust me, the timbre and pitch is a perfect match. The main thing, though, is that, just before my ex insisted I stop contacting you and we lost touch, you'd brought your boss/friend, Dom, back to life when he was electrocuted. So I think... maybe you were always an angel, just maybe... in waiting or something? And now you've realised your powers somehow. You certainly tasted heavenly... when I drank from you."

His half smile was sheepish on the surface but his glittering dark blue eyes spoke of the intimacy they'd shared, of passion and desire ignited. His gaze challenged Remi to argue that what he remembered was false.

Offline Ehcorn

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2019, 10:34:46 AM »
The fact that Sam continued to insist he'd known him in the past should’ve had him up and flying, but the more the vampire spoke, the more curious Remi became. There was no way for Remi to scan a vampire’s aura to find signs of deception, but Sam provided all the details to support his claim without a flicker of doubt in his expression and voice. He could read certainty, nothing else. The vampire was absolutely positive that he sat across from a man he used to know.

Remi chewed at the inside of his cheek as he tried on the life Sam proposed he’d had before: he’d have the same accent as Sam, and words would’ve slid from his mouth like warmed honey; there would’ve been a mother and a father and a farm, a place and people to whom he belonged; he’d have friends and a regular, mortal job and… none of it felt right at all. Especially Sam’s final suggestion.

“No, see, there’s where you’ve really got it wrong. I can't be this Gene of yours. I never would’ve let you do that.” His mentor had made it clear: If you welcome one set of fangs, you welcome all. He’d taken their warning to heart and never allowed vampires a chance to feed on him. The ones that tried had discovered an angel’s strength was more than sufficient to snap their necks.

But his expression shifted from indignation to confusion when he started to process feelings that he didn’t recognize as his own. Most prominent was the was raw desperation to be touched and taken, to give himself over entirely — his blood, his body — to the vampire. His heart raced and a shiver rolled through him, but he forced it down and shook his head. This wasn’t him. It couldn’t be. Remi started to inhale deeply to further steady himself, though his breath caught in his throat when he locked eyes with Sam and saw the desire he'd felt reflected back at him.

His mouth became a thin line.

“You're doing that, aren't you? You're in my head.” He scoffed disbelievingly and leaned back in his seat. “I thought you said it wasn’t about blood.”

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2019, 09:18:05 PM »
Samuel watched Remi/Gene's reactions intently. At first, it seemed like Sam's story was making some headway as the angel chewed on his lip but then he outright argued he wouldn't have let Sam drink from him. Boy, did Sam have some news for him. There was a moment when their eyes met that had Sam's heart leaping anew but then that, too, faded and Remi made a baffling accusation.

"What?" Sam asked, his face scrunched up in confusion. Despite his best efforts to be calm and rational, he couldn't help exasperation seeping into his voice once Remi clarified. "No," he insisted smartly, "I am not in your head. I don't know what-all you think I'd be doing - trying to implant memories of your former life? I-" Sam stilled as he thought of something. He could share his personal memories of Gene with Remi but he could imagine he'd be accused of manipulation and not believed.

He held up a finger, indicating that Remi should give him a second while he scrambled to get his phone out of the pocket he'd put it in when he'd decided to give chase. "I'll show you," he muttered, unlocking the phone and opening up his photos. He started scrolling backwards through them, passing countless photos of the Academy's library coming together in stages, open books or closeups of pages, captures of searches on computer monitors and the occasional selfie of him standing in front of or holding up objects - sometimes smiling gleefully. His camera had a large hard drive and he never bothered to delete photos so it took him a while but he eventually found it.

A secret he'd forgotten he'd stolen. The picture of Gene that Vomas had taken at the Oligarchy Chambers when Samuel had brought him in to discuss his status as a pet. Gene had requested a new photo for his file and Sam had been excited to photograph him, only to have the privilege taken from him by his lover. It had triggered a very difficult conversation with Gene about how he was seeing Vomas and Gene had left more than a little upset, prompting Sam to confront Vomas about their status. Good times.

Even though he and Vomas had taken a bigger step along the journey to their relationship that night, the next night Sam had secretly copied the photo from Gene's Oligarchy file. He still had access to it, thanks to his privileges as the Academy's Librarian (and maybe as Digital's lover, he wasn't sure) so he couldn't say why he'd even done it, back then. He'd just been driven to keep a piece of Gene close in the wake of losing (and hurting) him permanently. Guilt swamped him as he thought of Dreki. Was he now stringing him along while he tried to cement things with Remi, just as he had with Vomas? If so, he was a bigger asshole than he'd ever given himself credit for... and the pattern was pretty darn obvious, now he was looking.

"Look," he said, tapping Gene's photo so it filled his large screen and holding the phone out for the angel to take. "That's you, when you were Gene," he insisted stubbornly. "Taken the night you told me you'd broken up with your vampire boyfriend, Orias, and I took you to the Oligarchy to see to it your status as his pet was lifted. You didn't like being his property by that stage but you'd been living with him and letting him drink from you for ages." There was an ugly note of triumph in Sam's tone that he heard but couldn't get rid of as he continued to spill details about Gene's life, feeling the evidence was conclusive now.

Offline Ehcorn

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2019, 08:28:21 AM »
Planting thoughts in his head was exactly what Remi had figured Sam was doing. It was how he’d observed some vampires hunt when they couldn’t physically overpower their prey. Paired with whatever mental ability they had, a suggestion to join them in a dark alley away from prying eyes didn’t seem unwise — it was the greatest idea of all time. Mortals, in particular, seemed vulnerable to their meddling, but being an angel didn’t make him immune, only more apt to notice someone else’s fingers digging around in his mind and forcefully eject them.

Remi hadn’t felt the telltale pressure or foreign presence that alluded to an invasion, though. Did that mean the feelings had just… popped into his head of their own volition? Was Sam telling the truth? But why had it all started when he’d sat down with the vampire? Surely the two were connected. He peered at Sam, wariness growing in his eyes again. He’d heard Sam out. He didn’t need to stick around any longer and test his suspicion. Remi pushed his feet underneath him and splayed his fingertips on the picnic table, readying himself to swing a leg over the bench he sat on and begin his escape, but Sam dangled his promise of proof like bait and he took it.

He retracted his hands from the table, crossed his ankles, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. As he jiggled his leg and hummed under his breath, he looked for the source of laughter he heard above the din of conversation. The two imp brothers that’d cornered him earlier had discovered that if they jumped and flapped their wings frantically enough, they could hover for a few seconds before landing in a graceless heap on the ground. When they got their laughter under control and ascertained they weren’t bleeding, they’d do it again. Remi chuckled and shook his head. So much for his attempt at healing them.

At the vampire’s urging, Remi shifted his attention back to Sam and the picture on his phone. The man was clean-shaven and had longer hair than him, but down to the freckles that dusted his nose, they were nearly identical. One of the only differences that stood out to him were the eyes. They were the same hazel as his, but the sadness they held made something in Remi’s chest ache.

“We do look the same,” Remi admitted once Sam had finished with his story, glancing up from the photo to the vampire. “But us being the same person isn’t the only explanation.” He gestured at the twin imps who were now testing out the range of their fire darts, much to the distress of the vendors around them. “What if it’s a twin? Maybe I have a brother I don't know about.” With a sigh, he turned and straddled the bench, leaving his forearm resting atop the table's surface. His eyes hadn’t left Sam’s.

“Is that all you the proof you have? Your word and this picture?”

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2019, 06:40:50 PM »
"You're an only child," Sam insisted when Gene/Remi tried to claim an unknown twin brother, his tone certain enough to brook no argument. He could hear the frustration in his voice, too. Looking at someone he knew he knew and having them argue in an effort to keep him at arm's length was taking its toll. He didn't want to give up but there wasn't a lot left in his arsenal. He wasn't going to get the answers he wanted or the chance to remedy an opportunity he'd squandered (by picking the wrong man).

Considering how devious he'd been with Gene, it was as likely this was divine justice at play. He truly didn't deserve any more chances.

Sam drew breath for the sole purpose of sighing. He looked at the beautiful angel with a frown, his gaze perplexed as he tried to think what else he had to offer as proof. It was definitely a change from the too-trusting Gene to this attitude and Samuel did not appreciate it. "Well, technically I have a complete file on you, your origins and your detailed history as Gene whilst living in this city, thanks to the Oligarchy's research department. I... don't know how successfully I'd access that on my phone, though. Pretty sure I can only get to it through my work station at the Academy or at home at The Luminary," he shrugged, feeling hopeless.

Of course, he might have had the option of starting fresh with Remi and forming a friendship with him but now there was this air of distrust between them that Sam had inadvertently nurtured with his (apparently) wild accusations of dual lives. He couldn't go back and start over and he wasn't making much headway with his version of events. Gene would walk out of his life yet again.

Offline Ehcorn

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2019, 11:33:01 AM »
Sam’s quick assertion that he was an only child summoned another sigh from Remi. At the end of his long exhale, he dropped his head until the collar of his crisp white dress shirt bit into his neck. There really was no arguing with him, was there? No matter how many times he corrected him, no matter how many times he explained that no, he didn’t remember a life before his current one, nor was it possible for him to have had one in the first place, Sam wouldn’t relent.

Not for the first time, he wondered if he shouldn’t just go. It’d be easy. He didn't have to say another word, he could stand up and march away. As soon as he found a spot that would allow him to extend his wings fully and get a good running start, he’d drop his glamor and he’d fly away. But something in Sam’s voice — perhaps a tinge of desperation — compelled him to stay and watch the vampire quietly while he struggled to prove the impossible.

“Why does it matter so much to you?” Remi asked, eyes soft and searching. “That I was Gene?”

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2019, 05:32:16 PM »
Samuel looked up into that intent look and felt a familiar tug. He smiled gently, though he was feeling more than a little defeated. Remi's beauty was a more sophisticated version than Gene's had been but it still affected him just as viscerally. Just as inexplicably.

It was a valid question but not one Sam could answer definitively. For hope? For lust? For... love?

"I guess... because third time lucky?" he shrugged, breathing a laugh and sitting forward, wanting to reach out and touch Remi but unsure he'd be able. His fingers sidled across the table anyway, furtively creeping, hoping to brush warm flesh if only for a moment. "When I met you-Gene," he corrected quickly (though reluctantly), "he was in a relationship and remained loyal to his boyfriend. I was an ass, really, making a play for 'im but he was steadfast and I grew to respect him. We bonded. We had a lot in common. The next time we got together I was taken and I did a stupid thing - I put him in the middle and I used him for pleasure and revenge. I was disrespectful and an ass again. I played with his feelings and I hurt him."

Sam frowned, looking ashamed of himself and lowering his gaze to the table in regret. "I squandered my chances and I got what was coming to me, by betting on the wrong horse and losing. Seeing you again... I had hope I could set things right. Connect with that friend again, right my wrongs and finally treat him the way I always ought to've." He lifted his gaze, allowing it free rein to rove Remi's face, every bit of his hope and desire evident in his expression. "I want another chance to treat you right," he pleaded, forgetting he was trying to address the angel as Remi, not Gene.

Offline Ehcorn

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Re: Intermission
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2019, 06:47:06 AM »
Remi was drawn in by the vampire’s candidness and found himself leaning closer to him, mirroring Sam’s smile as he explained why he’d been so relentless. He wasn’t sure if it was his natural inclination to be so open, or if it was because he thought he was Gene, but either way, he was pleased to see it. Reflecting was a daunting thing, and sharing the results even more so — especially when one found themselves to be in the wrong. Yet here Sam was, readily telling him that he’d been the source of pain in another and that he’d decided he wanted to rectify the situation as best as he could.

Redemption.

Sam sought redemption.

He reached for the hand that’d been inching its way towards him and gave it a good squeeze. The temperature difference was distracting, but not nearly as much as the tingling that made it so all he could focus on was the fact he had Sam’s hand in his. Remi cleared his throat and smiled, albeit a touch sheepishly, and slid his arm back across the table.

“I might not be able to offer you the forgiveness you’re looking for because I’m not him, but I can at least help you put all this to rest,” he said, sharing what he hoped was a reassuring look with Sam before he extracted himself from the picnic table. Once he’d stood fully and faced the vampire again, he rolled his shoulders and stretched his arms with a grateful sigh. His wings might’ve felt weightless because they were stuck between here and there, but sitting on a bench had done his back no favors.

“You said you had records at… The Luminary, didn’t you? That’s the third tallest building in the city. Close to my garden, too. I could meet you there?”