Angel's Grace

by

Angela

 

Starr was a dead man. He was still walking and talking and probably smirking, but he was dead just the same. He just didn't know it yet.

Unable to help himself, Black tugged again at the handcuffs that held his arms just above his head. He was almost able to touch his own face, but his body was strapped down and the angle was too awkward to try to remove the blindfold that covered his eyes. He banged his head back against the soft cushion in frustration, unable to believe he'd been coaxed into this position in the first place.

"Sweetheart, you're going to give yourself a headache," Starr said conversationally.

"I'm going to give you a lot more than a headache when I get my hands on you," Black growled, pulling futilely at his arms. His wrists were starting to ache from how much struggling he'd done.

"Relax, sweetheart," Starr said with a small chuckle. "Don't you trust me?"

"Starr, you somehow felt the need to blindfold and handcuff me inside a craft to take me wherever we're going," he snapped. "I don't need telepathy to know you're taking me somewhere I don't want to go."

"You could get out any time you wanted to," his lover pointed out.

Black's mood darkened. "If you're suggesting what I think you are…"

"What, your telepathy? I love it when you order me around, sweetheart, but that might be going too far." The craft stopped and Black heard Starr turn in his seat, probably to look at him. He could almost feel those brilliant eyes on his body. "Had it occurred to you to say please?"

Black was sure his teeth would crack from how hard he was gritting them. "How about no sex for the next week?" After all, that's what got him into this mess. He was never letting Starr talk him into a blow in the craft again.

"That's hardly nice," Starr replied thoughtfully. "Still, there's always Caled and Hadrian…"

That had Black fighting the cuffs hard enough to rock the craft. "Damn it, Starr, let me go!"

The empath chuckled and leaned in, planting his nose just behind Black's ear and taking a deep breath. The brunette stilled, his skin prickling as his heart sped up. "No need to be jealous, sweetheart," he purred into Black's ear, making him shiver. The next moment, sunlight dazzled Black's eye. Blinking rapidly to clear his sight, he looked around, trying to get his bearings while Starr uncuffed him. He almost snarled until he saw the large superstore they were parked in front of.

"No."

"Come on, Darkness. It'll be fun." Starr opened the door to get out, but Black grabbed his arm.

"You leave this craft and I'll leave without you," Black warned him darkly.

Starr smiled at him, a look that both warmed him to his toes and made him want to drag the blond into the back with him. "I'll just catch a ride back with our friends, then," he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. Black looked beyond him to see Finn and John standing not too far away. Finn was dancing circles around the detective, chattering up at him adoringly. John looked about as excited as Black.

"What are they doing here?" he asked, confused. "Are you trying to blackmail me?"

"I'm not trying, sweetheart," Starr murmured. "I am." He pulled away and grinned at the couple as he climbed out of the craft. "He's all yours, you crazy strawberry. Sic him." Starr threaded an arm though John's and practically dragged the detective through the parking lot.

Black stared after him, shocked. Starr had dragged him here, then left him to Finn. He'd spent very little time with the redhead, but for a good reason. Just looking at the beautiful young man made him feel weak in all the wrong ways. He almost flinched as glorious blue eyes fixed on him with an expression of sheer delight.

"Come on, Black!" Finn said, rounding the craft and opening the door to pull him out. "It's time to go costume shopping!"

Finn locked up the craft and skipped along, Black dragged almost numbly along with him. The lieutenant looked up at the huge Halloween store and shuddered. "I'm in hell," he muttered.

Finn glanced at him, his happy expression dimming slightly. "You shouldn't say that," he said, pulling Black into the store. "You don't belong there."

He almost snorted, but was too tense from the screaming children that ran across his path the moment he walked in. "You know, I distinctly remember telling Starr there would be no costumes this year," he said weakly, looking around the store

"I know," Finn said cheerfully. "But that's at headquarters. There are other places to wear costumes."

He almost asked Finn what he meant by that comment, but the redhead dragged him off into the monstrous store.

~~

Black wanted nothing more than to melt into a puddle on the floor and disappear. Shopping with Finn certainly was not what he'd expected. He'd figured that Starr and Finn had made the decision to trade off boyfriends so that Finn could push Black into dressing up. After the fiasco with the mummy wrappings and fangs last year, Black had firmly told Starr that he was not dressing up nor would be around the blond when he had anything Halloween related around, and so had instigated the no-costumes rule. Frankly, he was afraid of the vampire teeth.

So he figured that Finn would immediately start trying to push some kind of costume on him. That didn't seem to be the case, however. The bouncy redhead took Black's hand and pulled him through the store into the back where the adult costumes were. He then sat Black onto a chair and started trying to pick out a costume for himself. That would have been fine, except Finn insisted on modeling every costume for Black and then using his lap to see how easily he could move in it. This meant that the brunette had to sit there while, costume after costume, Finn had changed into the skimpiest, sexiest bits of cloth he could find and plop his pert ass down on Black's lap, sometimes wriggling. The running commentary of what he could do to seduce John in this or that outfit had turned the few heads that were in that area of the store.

Black glanced at his watch and groaned. They'd been in there for two hours. They had to be reaching the end of anything in Finn's size.

"How about this one, Black?" the perky redhead asked, bouncing out in a Raggedy Ann getup that barely covered the swell of his buttocks.

Black sank down, sighing and burying his face in one hand. "You wear things like that every day," he muttered.

"But not with make-up!" he said enthusiastically. "The model had freckles, and I don't have freckles."

"Last year you wore a Pikachu costume. Why are you going for the heart attack this year?" he asked.

He heard the redhead move over and sighed as Finn crawled onto his lap. Slender hands grasped his wrists and pulled his hands from his face. "I want to do something really special for him this year, Black. Pikachu was fun, but sex in the bathroom was very awkward. I think something more accessible is in order."

Black looked up at the large, turquoise eyes, so very sincere. "Why are we here?" he asked finally. "Specifically, why am I here? Starr would be much better at finding the perfect costume for you."

"I want you to help me, though, Black," he said, impetuously giving Black a kiss on the cheek. "We never get to go shopping together, and I want to help you find a costume, too."

"Uh huh," he said, not moved by the little kiss. "Starr put you up to this, didn't he?"

Finn hesitated. "Yes, but we're doing this for Hadrian."

He frowned. "What does this have to do with Hadrian?" he asked, confused now.

Finn bounced, making Black try to squirm back so the redhead was on his thighs and not his hips. "It's fantastic! Hadrian enjoyed dressing up so much last year that John Stonebrook is letting him have a party at our house! All of JC2 is invited! Isn't that nice?"

Nice was not a word Black would have used. "Hadrian is having a party?" he said unenthusiastically. If that was the case, Black really would have to dress up. He tried not to care what the others thought and he could handle the disapproving looks of Starr and his team. Having Hadrian's silvery eyes turned to him in disappointment was not an experience he cared to have.

"Yep!" he said enthusiastically. "It's going to be so much fun, Black! You wait and see! There will be trick or treaters and bobbing for apples and lots of candy and cake and treats and food and-"

"I got the idea, Finn," he said, cursing his bad luck. He was almost confident this was a setup. Starr probably talked Hadrian into the party, then Finn talked John into having it at his house… this was a nightmare. He sighed, sinking into the chair in defeat.

Finn smiled and leaned in, stroking his cheek affectionately. "Don't worry, Black. I won't let the bad vampires get to you," he said with a wink. Then he brightened. "A vampire slayer!" he exclaimed. Ignoring Black's sputtering, he leaped up and went to go dig out a different costume.

~~

An hour later, Black would have agreed to any costume the redhead wanted. Finn had settled for a witch in the end and was going around, trying to pick out accessories. One hand was clamped vice-like on Black's wrist, surprisingly strong as he ran around the store, finding everything he wanted for the costume. Black didn't know how John handled Finn. With the redhead's performance earlier and the black hot pants and mesh shirt he was wearing, Black felt like an old lecher and he wasn't all that old to begin with.

Finn dragged him to a stop to study all the witch's hats available. He cooed and started trying them on, leaving Black to his own devices for the moment. The lieutenant knew that trying to sneak away would result in Finn riding piggyback on him and directing him around the store with no way to dislodge him without violence, so he didn't so much as shuffle his feet. Instead, he just glanced around from where he was by the redhead's side. A flash of white out of the corner of his eye made him turn his head. He kind of doubted Starr and John would still be there after three hours, but it was a force of habit.

Instead of seeing his lover, Black's eyes landed on a pair of glorious white wings. They were large, almost proportionate for a man his size and probably extremely heavy. The design would leave them looking slightly unfurled behind the wearer's back. They were incredibly lovely and he would suppose almost life-like. It made him smile faintly.

"You like them?" Finn asked him.

Black glanced down at the redhead and shrugged, schooling his expression. "They're probably far too uncomfortable to wear. Did you pick your hat?" he asked, turning back to the rows of black fabric cones.

"Maybe you could be an angel for Halloween," Finn said.

The suggestion made his shoulders tighten. Black wasn't sure if he believed in a heaven or a hell. He'd been informed that Finn was an angel, an actual angel from heaven with wings and the whole nine yards. He wasn't sure he believed that, because doing so meant that there was a heaven and a hell and it forced him to think about which place he'd probably wind up in the end. The thought was too depressing, so he chose not to make any comment regarding the redhead's divine status. He didn't want to have it proven to him.

Of course, not believing in it didn't mean he wanted to set himself up for the ridicule of dressing as one, particularly since he, most definitely, was not angel material. "Something else," he said, glancing over the stuff in the aisle.

"I think you'd make a good angel," the real angel said persistently.

"How about a cat instead?" Black replied. He didn't want to be a cat, but anything to quiet the redhead. "Every witch needs a familiar, right?"

Finn sighed sadly. "There's nothing wrong with you, Black," he murmured. "And there is nothing wrong with it as a costume."

Black frowned at Finn, studying the cherry lips glistening with gloss and brilliant blue eyes framed with red hair. "Be serious, Finn," he said, crossing his arms. "Can you imagine me as an angel?"

"Yes."

That made Black's stomach feel queasy. They were getting far too close to a discussion on Finn's own state of divinity for his comfort. "I can't," he said, and moved on down the aisle, away from the wings.

A moment later, slender legs wrapped around his hips, arms around his shoulders as Finn leaped onto his back, making him stumble. "I know," he whispered into Black's ear. "But I believe in you."
It was probably the cheesiest line ever and it made his throat tighten for some stupid reason. He snorted. "The only way I could pull off a costume like that is to be a fallen angel," he muttered.

Just as suddenly as he'd been there, Finn was off his back and around to Black's front, backing the startled brunette into a shelf. "Don't say that," he said fiercely. "Don't ever say that. We're going to get you those wings and dress you up and you're going to see. Everyone will love it, because everyone loves you."

Black wasn't sure what to do, his eyes locked on the slight, powerful man in front of him. He swallowed once, then twice to get rid of what suspiciously felt like a lump in his throat. He felt weak and unsure and very young, like he'd suddenly lost the power in this situation and the young, bouncy redhead without a care in the world was now so old and wise and… he shook his head, clearing those thoughts. "Fine," he said, trying to act like he didn't care about or didn't hear that last comment. First person snickered and Black was leaving.

Finn's smile brightened the room, and tried to lift Black's spirits, but he was far too sure that this was a huge mistake. "Come on, Black," he said, excitedly taking the brunette's hand. "Let's shop!"

It only took them another two hours to finish.

~~

The next day, Black was in the computer room, studying the screen imbedded into the table in front of him as he went over the details of their next assignment.

"Black?" a hesitant voice said from the door.

He looked up to see Hadrian leaning against the doorframe shyly. "Hi, Hadrian. What do you need?" he asked, sitting up.

Silver eyes flicked to the lit screen in the table. "If you're busy, I don't want to bother you."

Black glanced at the screen as well. He considered asking Hadrian to come back later, but the way the young man was practically hiding around the frame made him think something was up.

"What's wrong?" he asked, shutting off the screen.

Hadrian came in and sat down in a chair next to him. "Nothing, really. I just… see, I had so much fun last year that… well…"

Black blinked, then smiled slightly. "I know about your Halloween party, Hadrian."

It was both entertaining and disconcerting the relief that flowed over Hadrian's face. "You do?"

"Yeah. Finn told me."

"Are… are you going to go?" he asked tentatively. "I'd really like you to."

Was he really that hard to invite to things? He thought he'd been pretty open with Hadrian and Caled. "Yeah."

"In costume?"

He frowned then. "Yes, in costume. Am I that hard to get to do things?"

"It's not that," Hadrian said. "You've been really nice to me, to both of us. It's just that everyone on the team had very similar reactions when I mentioned inviting you."

"What reaction?" Black asked suspiciously.

Hadrian picked at his jeans briefly. "Well, disbelief mostly. Amusement. Everyone was sure you wouldn't be willing to go, and you wouldn't dress up."

Yeah, sure. Everyone certainly loved him, didn't they? He tried not to let his irritation cross his face. He wasn't annoyed with his team. Frankly, they had well-anticipated his reaction. He didn't mind going, but he felt foolish in costumes. His irritation was with Finn. The redhead had been so sure that the choice in costume had been right and Black was beginning to see that this entire thing was a huge mistake. If it wasn't for Hadrian, he probably wouldn't have agreed to go. God, how messed up was he? Who was right about him in this? Perhaps Hadrian was right to be unsure.

Black reached forward, giving Hadrian's hand a brief squeeze. "I'm going, and I'll be in costume, just for you. Alright?"

Hadrian smiled at him, making his heart flutter. He squeezed Black's hand in return, then leaned in to give the brunette a quick hug. "Thank you, Black. It means so much to me." He stood and, with a small wave, left the lieutenant alone in the room.

Black turned back to his screen, bemused and almost hurt. He had no idea where the second emotion came from. Everyone was justified in their opinions. Everyone, that is, except Finn. His stomach tightened in sick dread. He should never had let Finn talk him into that costume.

~~

"Trick or treat!"

Finn squealed with delight at the children who stood in the door, dressed in their ghoulish and delightful costumes. He pulled over the humongous pot filled to over-flowing with candy and let the kids dive in, watching with a brilliant grin. They turned away, beaming at the slight redhead in his witch's costume and ran back to their parents. That was when Finn noticed the craft pulling up.

"They're here!" Finn called out, bouncing down the walk to his friends. As he skipped, the short skirt of the costume flipped up to reveal the creamy strip of flesh over the edge of his thigh-high fishnets. Caled, Calyx, Jake, and Parker climbed out of the craft, Calyx's eyes drawn to that pale skin.

"You look like a positively wicked little strawberry," Calyx said with a grin, flashing vampire fangs that had been set over his own canines.

Finn twirled for them, revealing the lace thong panties he wore underneath in the process. "Why, thank you, Calyx Starr."

"Black is here, right?" Calyx said, trying to look casual as he asked. Black had surprised everyone when he'd informed them that he'd go over early to help set up for the party. Calyx had a sneaking suspicion it was so that he could escape before he had to get dressed.

Finn laughed. "Oh, yes. Black is here, and our divine lieutenant is protecting a special surprise in the backyard."

"A surprise?" Parker said, looking to Hadrian as the beautiful young man approached, happily sliding into Caled's arms. The two looked fantastic together, Hadrian a slinky black cat complete with ears and a tail and Caled a lion tamer. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the whip on Caled's belt would be used to tame his little panther later in the night. "What kind of surprise?" As everyone knew, Black hated surprises.

"I don't know," Hadrian said, a little ruefully. "It's my party, yet they've locked me out of the back and have set up something special. I haven't seen Black for hours."

"Let me go check and make sure he's ready!" Finn said, dashing back inside and out the back door and nearly running John over. Finn could hear the others laugh as he shut the door behind him, studying his favorite lieutenant.

"Ready?" he asked, his pride and love deep for the young man who was stubbornly trying his best to make his friends happy but was so afraid of their ridicule.

A sigh answered his question. "As I'll ever be," Black replied.

Finn slipped back inside as Jake closed the door behind everyone. "Is Black out there?" the sergeant-turned-pirate asked.

Finn turned off the lights in the front room, making everyone very curious. Then he opened the curtains to the backyard.

The moon was full, perfect for a Halloween night. It bathed the backyard in a silvery glow that made the decorations look less tacky and more creepy. There was a card table or two and every chair they could get sitting on the patio so everyone could sit around and talk, jack-o-lanterns carved with ghoulish faces emitting their flickering light over the cement. Beyond that, the grass was spotted with tombstones and a light layer of fog. Finn had insisted on renting the fog machine, at least for the beginning of the night. Cobwebs decorated the pine trees at the edge of the yard, and a fake owl sat on the eaves of the rooftop. Just in front of the trees was a low stone retaining wall, and sitting on it, ethereal in the silvery light, was Black.

He was barefoot, dressed in torn jeans that had been white-washed until they were pale and nearly glimmering in the light. He had on a shirt of a sparkling silver fabric that left his collarbone visible and his arms bare, glow-stick bracelets and necklaces in blues and pinks decorating him. They made the white and silvery paints on his face glow as well, a single white feather having been woven into his hair. Behind him spread an expanse of huge, white wings. He looked like he was trying hard to be relaxed, not looking at the people studying him from the other side of the glass. One foot was propped up on the edge of the wall, his fingers picking nervously as the crumbling stone.

Hadrian was the one to gasp. Black was a living decoration in the yard, so fresh and beautiful in the glimmering light of the moon that Calyx was sure he couldn't be real. He yanked open the door and nearly stumbled out onto the patio, his eyes locked on his lover. Black's head came around, tense and wary as he studied Calyx's face. He must have seen the love and admiration and sheer lust that Calyx felt because his eyes widened slightly in surprise. Calyx knew then for sure that he was real and he'd let Finn talk him into that incredible costume to please all of them. The empath owed his little strawberry five gallons of ice cream.

Calyx started across the yard as the others came outside. He possessively wrapped his arms around his very own angel, feeling Black stiffen in surprise. He could also feel why Black was sitting down, the straps to the wings hidden underneath the glimmering shirt. They had to be heavy.

"Black," Hadrian breathed. "You look beautiful." His eyes were wide as he studied his friend, coming forward to delicately touch the wings. They were made of feathers, and were delightful to the touch.

Black flushed at his comment, but before he could reply, Calyx murmured, "Good enough to eat," and bit his neck with the fake fangs.

It was Black's turn to gasp, his hips bucking involuntarily as pleasure exploded across his senses from the interesting bite. He had to throw his arms around Calyx's neck to support himself or the weight of the wings would have unsettled him.

"I told you, Daddy," Finn said, sounding pleased with himself. "An hour to get Black ready, and thirty seconds for Calyx Starr to muss him up." Haney let out a laugh.

John chuckled himself. "That you did, kid. And it's going to take Starr another twenty seconds to kill them both while falling off that wall. Molest him later, Starr."

"Later may be sooner than you think," Black said as Calyx tried to help him get off the wall. "These wings are fucking heavy."

"I'd kind of be obliged to help him out of them, sweetheart," Calyx sound, sounding smug himself. In a roomful of drool-worthy men, his date was definitely the most delicious that night. "It would be my duty as a good boyfriend."

Parker snorted. Calyx didn't care what the prescient had to say. He nearly shoved his lover across the yard and into the house and heard John shout after them, "Not on my bed!"

~~

Black was in the bathroom, studying the tray of make-up in front of him. In the end, he'd had to threaten to take the fangs out of Calyx's mouth with or without the teeth they were attached to if the blond didn't stop biting him. Calyx had agreed, but only because Finn had quite loudly knocked on the door and insisted they actually participate in the party. So Calyx had straightened up and headed back outside with a swagger to gloat over his hot boyfriend, leaving Black to wash his face and fix the make-up.

Black picked up the white make-up crayon and lifted it to his face but hesitated, the act suddenly seeming painfully familiar. He had to close his eyes, feeling so very out of place in the shimmering silvers and feathery whites.

"Need help?" Finn asked from the door, his voice strangely soft.

Black opened his eyes, looking at himself in the mirror. "I know how to apply make-up." He started to lift the white stick again, but a warm hand firmly took it away. He looked at Finn as he was guided to sit on the edge of the bathtub.

"I know you can, Black," he said softly, stepping between Black's parted legs so that he could carefully begin to draw in the lines. "You can do anything you put your mind to."

Black snorted softly. "Your overwhelming faith in me is a little uncalled for," he murmured. There was something about the redhead that made him smell so good, a refreshing scent that lifted his spirits and made him very uncomfortable.

Finn didn't reply. Slender, agile fingers brushed over Black's face, smearing and blending the lines he'd painted. The smaller man's face was focused on his own as he worked effortlessly to make Black look as beautiful as he had before. Then Finn wiped his hands but didn't move away. He studied Black's eyes intently as if he could see things in them that no one else could. It made Black feel weak and vulnerable and young in a way that no one made him feel, not even Anna.

He couldn't take the scrutiny, the eyes boring so intensely into his that he wondered when Finn had managed to slip so deeply past his shields. He wanted to apologize, to cry, to beg the slight redhead for forgiveness, anything to make him stop staring at him like that.

"I have faith in you," Finn said softly. "You have done awful things, but you are beautiful, and you love, and you want to be better, and you work so hard to make this world safer. Calyx Starr believes in you. Jake Cole believes in you. Haney and Bee and Parker believe in you. Hadrian and Caled and John Stonebrook believe in you, too. And I believe in you. You are my angel, and you always will be." He leaned into Black and pressed a soft, gentle kiss to the stunned brunette's lips, then turned and left.

Numbly, Black rose and turned to the mirror. He'd applied the make-up the first time; Finn was far more skilled at it. The lines and swirls and shades made his face look... not gentle, but peaceful. Soft pink glistened on his lips and he licked them, tasting Finn's cherry lip gloss.

He didn't believe himself to be an angel. How could anyone be with the life he'd had to live? But looking in the mirror, seeing the nearly pearlescent, white feather that Finn had threaded into his hair with a mysterious smile, Black suddenly believed that Finn was, and it made his heart feel, if not light, then certainly less heavy to know that the Angel loved him and had faith in him. He turned from the mirror and headed back out into the party, the taste of cherries comfortable and sweet on his tongue.


The End

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