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Thread: [M] The Part You Throw Away [Gothy & Ashen]

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    Default [M] The Part You Throw Away [Gothy & Ashen]

    [The following roleplay is rated mature for reasons that may include, but are not limited to, violence, blood, coarse language, sensual situations and drug use. Reader discretion is advised.]

    The thundering blast of the explosion still rang like roaring church bells echoing through empty pews. How long had it been since it had stopped? The world was too blurred to make sense of, colors bleeding into each other in vivid swirls mixed with red. The ringing wouldn't stop. More than anything, he could not stand the remnants of sound, of glass-shattering screams and shrieking machines. It was over, it was over; he had to keep telling himself that, it was over.

    He couldn't have known how long he was out there, lying face-down in the dirt and grass, barely conscious. He had to get away. They would come after him, if they hadn't died, and he had to move. Slowly, painfully, he pulled himself to his feet. They trembled beneath his weight, but he was able to steady himself without too much effort. Squinting at the ground, he could hardly believe his eyes. Earth. Earth he had not seen the likes of in--how long had it even been? What year was it? On shaking legs, he started away. His steps were agony, like walking on crystal, and he couldn't extend his legs enough to make much progress with each step. Still, this was far better than how things had been.

    The world was slowly coming back into focus. There was a burning light from the sky--what was that? He couldn't remember anything like it, nor like the wispy, winding trails dotting the blues. Just how much of this world was there for him to explore? Now was not the time, and he pressed on, painfully aware of his pace. Behind him was a life he never wanted to return to, people who had tortured him, had captured and enslaved him, had destroyed him. Behind him were the remains of their research, irreparable, thousands or millions of dollars of shrapnel. A smile came over his lips at that. For all they'd done to him, he had gotten his revenge.

    He didn't know how long he had been walking before he collapsed onto the ground. The grass was soft, wet; was it early morning? His legs refused to take him any further, so instead, he crawled to a tree nearby and sat against it. His wings brushed against its bark, tickling leaves and drooping to the dirt below. He hated these wings, these cursed experiments. Tucking them tight against his back, he let out a sigh. He could afford to rest. For now, he had to remember; who, what, where was he?

    Matteo Agnusdei. That was the name he had been given at birth. He had been fourteen when his mother enrolled him at the Institution, the laboratory of too much white. He was from--Minnesota? Michigan? Montana? That much he was having trouble remembering. He'd had ambitions once, he thought, but they all fluttered from him now, paper wishes in the wind. Now, he was much older, but he couldn't even guess at his age. He had wings, long and swooping things, feather-white and angelic, functioning, a curse from Hell. They protruded gracefully from his shoulder blades, but at their base were scars more numerous and deep than he could imagine. His hands, foreign objects at the ends of his wrists, were red. Was that all his blood? Further inspection revealed that his whole body contained splotches of scarlet, staining his tanned skin, his once-white shorts, his torn polo shirt. He needed to get out of these, to clean up, to gather his bearings, but he didn't even know where to start. Leaning his head against the tree, he sighed again. He never imagined he'd make it out, and now, he didn't know what to do.

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    Myrna felt the hand she grasped tense sharply against her, then release as its owner slipped away. Peacefully, granted, but this never got easier even in the palliative care ward where patients eventually became bodies; she'd been at this for around 5 years and in that time, none of this had become any easier. Always, always, a tug at her heartstrings and a lump in her throat as she felt life ebb away. She'd come into this a wide-eyed graduate with hopes of helping people, but she'd since learned there was no graceful death in a ward.

    She sat for a while, the privacy afforded to her by the drawn curtain in an otherwise occupied ward allowing her a few brief moments of silent thought, still holding the hand of the patient whose name she had forgotten in the mire of nameless and faceless patients she tended to in this hospital. Eventually, she let his hand go, and instead propped her head in her hands with a heavy sigh. It hadn't always been like this – that's what she told herself. It hadn't always been like this. She rubbed her eyes, partially to get rid of the sleep that crusted them and partially to wipe away the tears that threatened to overspill. There was a time when all of this – the illnesses, death, the droning beeps of the machines and the sharp smell of medical alcohol – didn't get to her so much. There was a time when she could make someone laugh even as they took their last shuddering breath.

    But around 18 months ago she'd had to attend a patient whose wounds still haunted her, both a bad dream and a nightmare, something that she found herself thinking about frequently and a distant memory she tried to bury in a fog of patients. The patient in question had been subjected to something intolerably cruel and had left her with a constant, lingering dread and doubt she'd not yet been able to shake. Doubt in herself, doubt in the city, doubt in humanity itself if this was what it had come to. He'd been a far cry from the geriatrics she usually tended to. Since then, she'd found this job a lot less bearable than it had been, in part because of how he died. Slowly, painfully, babbling and barking and breaking in ways she couldn't comfort and ever since then, only one thought had occupied her mind: How many times could she hold a hand and watch as eyes dimmed, when patients she cared so hard for were just to became just bodies? It was just how things were, or so it seemed to her. She'd known this, of course, when she took the job. But when she took the job, she'd naively thought she could handle life on a ward where patients came to pass.

    The thud of the Cross necklace at her throat shook her out of this, the cold silver pressing her back into cognizant thought and simultaneously reminding her of another unpleasantry. Her mother. Mama would be ashamed. She couldn't help but smile to herself at that; she didn't much fancy herself as the sort of woman Mama would be proud of at all. That was something, she thought. And, there was always something.

    Outside the sun broke the wispy clouds in two, bathing her in a bright light for a moment before she stood up, reminded that her shift was over - she'd been sitting next to the bed a good few hours tending to the final moments of Mr Unknown. Myrna was exhausted, but it always felt like that these days. The nurse pulled the fastening at the back of her blue scrubs loose and over her head as she stood up and made to leave, depositing it in a washing bin and going to grab her coat. A bright, yellow pea-coat that she'd bought to cheer herself up but that, right now, was about as much use as a rubber knife. She scribbled her name on the sign-out sheet in a scrawled curlicue of handwriting that she wasn't even sure she could read these days, then tucked a strand of brassy hair that had worked its way loose of the high bun she wore on the job, back behind her ear where it belonged. The receptionist waved her off, and she responded in kind as she watched her reflection split in two in the bright glass of the automatic doors. Cold air greeted her. Cold air and cold sunlight and the faint smell of damp morning dew, fragrant and yet somehow stale.

    Her home was just a few blocks away through the park and then down another street. It was early enough that most people were just getting their day started, so she had the streets to herself, which, after so gruelling a shift, suited her just fine. She usually worked nights by choice. She enjoyed the quiet walks in to and back from work, where the city was so quiet and still as to feel uninhabited, like she was the only person who existed. It was these quiet moments she felt, that kept her sane and stopped the tense tangle of her emotions from unravelling.

    She stepped out into the bright, cold sun and began her walk home past the buildings that gaped and gawped and groaned at her as she walked by. Old buildings with old tales, a storied past and history-one of the reasons she had moved to this city from the south what felt like so long ago-, that she adored.

    Branches, bushes and boughs came into view, their fading leaves and twisted bark a far cry from the brick facades around her. Myrna had half a mind to feed her last remaining sandwich to the birds in the park, as she so often did. But, it wasn't that passing thought which kept her attention as she strolled in.

    Sharp red, stark against the warm greens of the rest of the foliage, was the first thing she noticed from the corner of her eye. At first, she figured, a bird. Then she had to double-take as the truth of what she saw came fully into view. A figure, leaned against a tree. Splashes of blood, and the faint smell of iron, dust and smoke. The sight, and the smell, was enough to distract her from the soothing susurration of the trees that she so often enjoyed at this time of day. What was more, and perhaps what she felt most alarming, was the appearance of wings.

    There were a thousand explanations she would entertain before she confronted what was in front of her. She was hallucinating; she was having a dream; she was going nuts; it was a costume; her eyes were playing tricks on her; but, as she took a few cautious steps towards the prostrate figure all of these theories melted away until only one remained forefront in her mind – this was a creature, a man. An angel? Her breath caught in her throat a moment as she observed the figure in silence then slowly, carefully, took another few steps toward it- him? As she got closer the smell of blood got stronger – it was, after all, not an unfamiliar smell to her: and, the extent of this man's state also became a lot more obvious.

    Myrna crouched in front of him, her instincts coming into play before she even had time to think. Blood all over, and she wasn't quite sure the source. Scars, that looked painfully familiar to her, but she couldn't quite pinpoint as to why. His chest, rising and falling. So, he was alive at the very least. She almost wanted to reach out and touch his wings, to see if he was really real or a figment of her imagination, but she refrained. She was as intrigued as she was afraid even though she could feel her heart in her throat, and her breath quickening, catching, a swallow in her chest.
    Instead, at a loss for what else she could do, Myrna cleared her throat.

    “Hey, uh. Hey, mister? Everything OK?” her voice sounded so shaky, so afraid, in wake of this mystery. So tiny, when she wanted to sound secure and sure.
    Last edited by Gothy; 09-30-2019 at 11:17 PM.

  3. #3
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    That bright orb was warming him, making a cozy fireplace of the tree he was rested against. Subconsciously, his wings brushed against the hot bark, unused to this absence of cold. He wanted to know more about that bright light--had he ever learned about it? Was it always up there, heating the earth? What else did it do? Why did it hurt his eyes so severely? He closed out that light, the rest of the world with it, and lost himself in thought. There was so much to do, but he couldn't think of any of it. Could he get by by himself now? Who would help him, especially how he was? Thoughts whirring, Matteo didn't notice himself drifting off under the sunlight.

    His dreams were filled with flashing lights, of blinding LED's, of sharp thorns into his skin; a syringe there, a knife there, scissors to his skin in colorful splashes of red. That face, he knew that face, that long and blank expression, that fuzzy black moustache, that flop of a hairdo tied back with a rubber band. That man was holding the scissors, holding a vial, laughing all the while. A woman watched from the corner of the room, familiar eyes, warm smile, a shining crucifix upon her chest in shades of emerald, ruby, jade, pearl.

    He woke with a start at the sound of a voice. Suddenly he was staring into the pillars his lord had hung from, the sparkling jewelry his mother had so proudly displayed. A squeal emerged from his throat and he backed away, scratching his head and arms against the bark. His wings flailed wildly behind him, dove-white feathers falling in a flurry around him. His breaths slowly normalized as he realized the person in front of him was not, in fact, his mother. She was wearing strange clothes, and her hair was different, her nose shaped smaller and her frame thinner. Matteo sighed, the panic slowly draining from his veins. She'd said something. When was the last time someone spoke to him? He wiped at his eyes, almond-brown and childlike, and watched as his hand came away with blood. This woman; what did she want? Why would she approach him like this?

    Matteo cleared his throat awkwardly. "Ah," he mumbled, his voice a wayward siren in his throat. "Scusa, sto bene." His tone was light, almost foreign. He paused, knowing he'd done something wrong. This land, there was a different tongue spoken here, wasn't there? He understood what she'd said, but his own words came out different, incorrect. He shook his head. "Sorry," he repeated, this time more confident. "Yeah, sorry, I'm..." He couldn't remember the last time he'd heard his own voice, and he was suddenly aware of how different it sounded from hers. Did he have an accent? Yes, he figured, that was it. His accent was different, faraway, manufactured. "Dove... No, where..." Words swirled on his tongue, two fluencies refusing to keep straight. English--that's what that was called; why did it keep evaporating into his other language?

    He was growing frustrated with his inability to express himself. This woman's eyes were boring into him. She was afraid of him, clearly, and the way he got startled like that couldn't have helped. He watched her for a few moments, taking in her gentle features, her kind but wary expression. Matteo turned away, trying to find the right words to ask her what he needed to know. She wasn't going to hurt him; he was certain of that from the way she looked at him. Her clothes, the plainness of them; she reminded him of... someone. Hospital walls, vacant rooms, buzzing machines. Would a hospital look at him now? Would he even be able to get past the door?

    Matteo turned back to her, his eyes blank. "Can you help me?" he asked, his voice small. "I... I don't know where... I am." Laws of language flowed back to him, finally straightening into English and Italian. There was another, too, another he didn't know the name of; when did he learn three languages? He shook the thought and extended a hand to the woman in front of him. "My name is Matteo," he continued. "I don't--er, what year is it?" Just how crazy would he look to this woman, now speaking in garbled English, asking for the year of all things? He couldn't even remember what year he'd been born, or where. Did he have a father? Losing himself in thought again, he had to force himself to refocus on the stranger. "I seem to be in a bit of a predicament," he said, this time more cheerily. A smile split his full lips. Looking more human, he hoped, he straightened his spine and asked again, "Can you help me?"
    Last edited by Ashen; 10-08-2019 at 03:14 PM.

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    Her first instinct -not thought through but primal- was to jump away and fall back at his actions so that toe to toe they were both kneeling on the fresh morning grass. Her, wide-eyed and inquisitorial, the proverbial deer in the headlights: him fearful but perhaps, actually there was no perhaps about it, also a trapped deer. Myrna's brassy bun came loose as she did, her long hair loosening and curling around her face as her heart took flight like a murmuration against her ribcage; shook by the suddenness of his actions and the urgency with which they were acted upon. Pure fear, that was what she gauged from it -not it, him, she reminded herself, that was a him-, but a little part of her brain still continued to tell her 'this wasn't actually happening'. Denial, hell of a powerful thing. More than half of her expected to wake up again holding the hand of Mr Unnamed back on Ward 6E. It took her another moment, another bright glare of sunlight in her eyes – sharp light instead of a pinch – to realise she was awake, not about to be roused.

    She was used to sedentary patients. To closed eyes, a heart monitor for a conversation and at best, the dull tap of a finger rather than any meaningful interaction – not the shrill sound that emanated from his throat. At once human and inhuman, almost animalistic in its urgency. What's more, the... -she was a nurse, she didn't want to call them wings because, for all intents and purposes, that wasn't physiologically possible-... but here they were, wings. Dove-white and seemingly functional, for they moved. Twisting and brushing against the tree with an eerie feathery grace. To remind herself she was awake she took a fistful of earth and grass, burying her fingers deep in it – the feel of grass, rough mulch, pebbles, and the pungent smell of fresh earth and petrichor grounded and soothed her.

    This man in front of her had wings. Against all belief, bar those irrational ones now stumbling around her head. Involuntarily, her other hand clutched to the cross at her breast for a moment. This man she had stumbled upon was as real as the cool air nipping at her skin, as real as the boughs that hushed and rustled, as real as the silver in her palm. And the wings on his back, uncanny as they were, existed just as much as he did. All the proof she needed to see that was plain in front of her, for at his actions they were shedding like a stressed birds' might.

    At a whim she leant over, brushing past him and picking up a feather. To prove to herself that this was something she could reach out and touch if she so desired. Soft and long, just like any feather she would have picked up in the park, yet also longer, and softer than even goose down.
    “God, it's beautiful”. She gasped, before she could stop herself, her voice awestruck and reverent. She lifted the feather into the sun, watched the light reach through, cold tendrils, before dropping her hand to her side and looking this man in the face properly for the first time. A tousle of dark hair, blood, and kind -kind but scared- eyes, and tan skin. He was attractive to look at, or would be were it not for the tar of blood, smoke and dirt but she quickly brushed that thought to the side when he spoke. Thoughts replaced by a nurses instinct.

    What was that? Not English, that's for sure. And her paltry grasp of her mother –mother's, she reminded herself- tongue, Romanian, didn't suit any of the words this man was saying. Nor did her voracious appetite for Nordic dramas. She was a nurse, not a linguist. But, she could see a glimmer of recognition in his eyes, so he could understand her at least. She'd remembered reading in some medical textbook that some head wounds could result in a total brain reset leading people to speak other languages as though they'd been fluent their entire lives, but this theory was quickly brushed to the side with his next words, spoken with an accent at that. His first, an apology, and her gaze softened and she took a hesitant half-kneeling step forward to lean in and look him properly in the eye, an act that she hoped, would relay her intentions as kind but also so she could see what his were. Looking into his eyes, she wasn't sure. She saw vulnerability tinged with fear. That was enough for her to decide she would help.

    The formality with which a greeting such as a handshake was usually associated threw her off a little, and she couldn't help but laugh despite herself and the situation- a tinkling, happy laugh but a nervous one nonetheless. She laughed as much to put herself at ease, as anything. Myrna put a hand to her mouth and stifled it then cleared her throat apologetically. Here he was, asking for help and she was stifling a giggle like some scolded schoolgirl. Again, almost awkwardly, she cleared her throat.
    “It's twenty-nineteen” there was a pause as she checked the watch on her lapel then looked back to Matteo with what she hoped was a reassuring smile “and it's just gone eight in the morning. It's October, it's Tuesday.”

    Clearly, he was disoriented, she didn't need her medical degree to see that. First port of call in this situation was always to orient the person, then consider options. Though, she also felt as though the standard medical protocol couldn't quite be used in this situation. It didn't cover... whatever it was Matteo was.
    “Oh. I'm Myrna.” and then, finally, she took his hand gently as though he was a glass figurine that might break or a mirage she might sweep away, with the hand that hadn't been in the dirt, and shook it. The surreality of the situation – finding a man with wings in her local park, covered in blood, who then wanted to shake her hand -, was too strange to, at this point, be anything but reality. Reality is stranger, as the adage went, she noted to herself.

    As she looked him over once more, she suddenly remembered her soiled hand and shoved it into her pocket, searching for a napkin with which she could clean off. And, with the napkin her hand brushed against the foil-wrapped sandwich. She lifted it out and offered it to Matteo. His smile put her at ease, albeit an uncomfortable one, and she found herself responding in kind with a smile that curled her mouth warmly.
    “Do you want this? Its just corned beef.” another pause, and a bite of her lip, before she answered his final question. “And. Yes, I- I can help you. I think. I don't know what a hospital would do for- for...” she stopped herself before she said the word that wanted to come with urgency to her lips, that word being angel, and she said nothing more. But, she'd meant the words.
    Last edited by Gothy; 10-03-2019 at 02:30 AM.

  5. #5
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    To Matteo's shock and horror, the woman in front of him grabbed at one of his fallen feathers, the hellish result of far too much self-loathing. She was fascinated by his wings, and as she held a feather up to that burning ball, Matteo watched her silently. Was he such a thing to be marveled at? A part of him had hoped, by some miracle, that his wings were invisible, that she wouldn't notice them, that he just appeared as some boy--some man--perhaps with more blood tainting him than was normal. But her eyes, the twinkle behind them; she saw something in this mutation. Matteo turned away, blood racing to his dirtied, bloodied cheeks. There was adoration in her eyes, amazement, things Matteo had never seen in someone looking at him.

    He waited for her to pay attention to his words, gross and alien to him, probably nightmarish to her. She didn't recognize what he'd said, but soon, at his corrections, understanding washed over her features. Only a moment later, she was laughing at him, a song-like sound that brought the red back to his face. He sounded like a complete idiot, and her reaction was proving that. He retracted his hand awkwardly, instead resting it on the ground, in the grass. The angel-man bit his lip, wondering if he had ruined his chances with this woman. Even if she saw him as a lunatic, she'd still be able to help... right? He turned back to her, brows arched, wondering what she must have been thinking.

    But then she answered. Her response, those four digits, that time far in the future... Matteo shook his head, a pain crossing his eyes. "No," he mumbled quietly, trying to work out the math in his head. Twenty-nineteen, that couldn't have been right. Hadn't it been 2005 when he'd been admitted? No--that didn't sound right either. How old had he been? Fourteen, he'd been fourteen, fourteen years of age during the year... Which year? But now it was twenty-nineteen, was a year Matteo had only seen as then. An October morning of twenty-nineteen... Something had to be wrong.

    Realizing how wild he must have looked to this girl--this Myrna--Matteo cleared his throat. "Of course," he mumbled, though the conviction of his words did not meet his tone nor expression. He looked around at this futuristic world, wondering when he would wake up. Turning back to Myrna, he offered a small, insincere smile. "That was a stupid question," he said, then chuckled lightly, a forced, hollow sound. "Thank you."

    His thoughts were raging. He'd been admitted after the new president had taken office, the controversial one, the one with two daughters. He'd been admitted the year that one game came out, the one with the blocks; he remembered playing it for hours. He could remember such useless information, but he couldn't remember his own age, or what year it was supposed to be. How was he supposed to live like this? How many years had it taken him to sprout these damned wings?

    Matteo was pulled from his thoughts as Myrna offered him something wrapped. He cocked his head, taking it into his callused hands. "Corn... beef?" he repeated, imagining a mushy mixture of the bright grain and goopy meat. He made a sound of disapproval deep in his throat before he could stop himself, but a louder growl came from his stomach. When had he last eaten? "Thank you," he mumbled, cautiously unwrapping the sandwich. He was pleased to find it looked nothing like what he'd imagined, and he took a small bite. It wasn't bad, quite good actually, and as he chewed he marveled at the textures of the bread, the meat. He finished his first bite and prepared for a second, but an instant torrent washed through his body, seizing his throat. Matteo tossed the sandwich away from him and turned away, just in time to expel a wave of chewed food and rivers of blood. Red soaked the ground around him, taunting, remind Matteo he did not belong there. The following choking fit lasted only a few minutes, and by the time it was done Matteo could only look hungrily at his meal, too afraid to try again.

    He wiped at his lips, the ruby red his mother often wore. "Sorry," he said, a rushed single syllable. She'd been so nice to offer him food, and his damn stomach couldn't even handle it. Would he starve to death out here, unable to sustain himself on solids? He tried not to think about it. "Ah, Myrna, erm." So many things he needed to ask of her; where was he to start? "Do you-- er, can you help me... Wash up?" He looked at his arm, painted red like a Dalmatian. He wanted to shed these reminders, the marks of his deed. Matteo clutched the tree he'd been sitting against, and on shaky legs he took to his feet. "I don't mean to bother you," he continued. "I just... I..." He looked to her, a deep sorrow in his eyes, an uncertainty, an unadulterated fear. He could barely walk, barely talk, barely eat... Maybe it would have been better if he'd killed himself, too.

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    Myrna felt ashamed for a brief moment in prickling bursts of blush as the man opposite her dropped his hand to the side, and even more so at the hollow reverberations of his laughter in her conscience; it had been rude to laugh and she should have known better. It had been an entirely reflexive, involuntary action on her part like every one of them up until this point: equal parts nerves and a nagging doubt that tugged at the back of her mind. Who was this person? Why were they here, covered in blood that she wasn't entirely sure was all his. Could he possibly be dangerous? That thought bubbled to the surface for not even a second before she dismissed it outright; she felt no hostility from him, no ill intentions, no familiar goosepimpling at her neck. He was harmless... well, harmless perhaps was not the right word -what if that wasn't his blood?- but she knew all too well of how desperation could force the hand, and she wasn't going to judge him before she'd heard his story.

    A little bit of her, too, had to admit that she was selfishly curious to find out more about this angel-winged man. Could it- could he be...? She glanced him over with her kind eyes, and her nurses' instinct.

    She surveyed him quickly for any outward injuries and came up short, but that didn't mean there wasn't something she couldn't see, she told herself matter-of-factly. Her own hand dropped to her side limply, along with the feather which gently swung to the floor. Her first action was to comfort him, and that came quickly and naturally to her.

    “Hey, there are no stupid questions”, she said, with an earnest, kind smile – the sort of smile that she'd learned over the years put people at ease, and made them feel safe all at once. She truly meant it. In her line of work she had come across all sorts of lost lambs, confused and needing comfort and information; she was used to consoling them, to talking them through bouts of mania or depression. Of course, that had been before the palliative care ward, with its bodies that weren't yet bodies. Perhaps she was out of practice but, perhaps, she considered, you never really lost the ability to care in such a way.

    She pushed a strand of hair back from her face, silently resolving to help this man and moved closer to Matteo, on the damp grass, mirroring his position. She hoped bringing herself to his level would calm him – she could see wild, animalistic fear in his eyes, and deep in her chest she felt as though she needed to care for him. It was her who had walked this park in the morning's dewy embrace, it was her who had happened upon him. It was her responsibility now, he was her responsibility. She was a nurse. These things didn't just happen, there was always a plan. Never had the cross at her sternum weighed so heavy.

    She watched him carefully as he took a bite of his sandwich, and then with that calm, reserved shock every nurse proffered when someone in their care threw up she simply waved a hand.
    “Don't worry about it. We'll try you on some broth or something later.” she said, and again that smile that spread to her eyes, warm and kind and sunny. She hoped, of course, that there would be a later: the nurse was more than slightly concerned that he had vomited up red – when had that ever been a good sign? As she passed him the napkin from her pocket so he could clean up a little, she went through options in her mind: could be a stomach complaint, could be a tear in the throat, could be all sorts of things. She wouldn't know until she pried apart his symptoms, but this was hardly the time or place to do such a thing. Inwardly, she cursed that she had no water so he could swill his mouth; coffee from the stand a little ways away was definitely out of the question.

    She rose up with him, watching him unsteadily unfurl himself.
    “Hey, take it slow... Matteo, was it?” she said, her nurses' instincts coming into play before she could even help herself. Her other hand came gently to his elbow, ready to steady him if he fell, and she hoped such an action wouldn't put him on edge again; her grip was firm, but gentle, and she hoped reassuring rather than invasive. He was so scared, the poor thing. She couldn't help but feel sorry for him and with that an intense desire to help. At his next words she clucked her tongue, but the smile playing at her lips said she wasn't actually irritated.
    “Come now, you're no bother. What kinda gal would I be if I left you here?”

    But, as she said that, a thought forced its way to the front of her mind. How on earth was she going to get him home without attracting attention; it was early morning, yes, but this city was stirring and soon rush hour would be upon them. Someone of his... she paused, and bit her lip, trying to think of a word for the state he was in. Disposition? No. Condition? Since when had wings been in any medical journal? State? Sure, that worked. Someone in his state, bloodied and bruised and seemingly broken, well, she'd be a fool if she didn't consider that someone was bound to be looking for him, surely. You didn't just lose a man with angel wings. Of course, if they were quick she could get him home without alerting anyone; hospital was the last place he should be. With so much blood, there would be police, investigations, involuntary hospitalisations and none of that, in his current state, was bound to do him any good. OK. So, it was settled. She was going to take him back to her flat.

    Every bone in her nurses' body told her this was not the right protocol, that he should be in hospital. She only had the basic supplies back at her place, but she could probably improvise if she tried hard enough. But who knew what doctors would do if they found this man, this... mystery, this marvel? He'd be poked and prodded, and from looking at him she would say he'd had enough of that.

    The human, caring part of her was shouting at her to help him. And so, left with no other options, she smiled and held out a hand.
    “Come on Matteo, I'll get you back to my place. We can clean you up there, okay? This way.” she pointed towards the pavement, towards the buildings on the opposite side of the park and the one she called home; a white, glazed-with-new-paint new-build with wide, staring windows that looked out over the park they currently walked through.

    “I'm going to help you, okay?” She paused, and then remembered the slight problem: “uh, do you like cats?” she asked as she gently began to guide him by the elbow towards her flat, which was still a good five minute walk away. "Put an arm around me if you need, I can take it I promise" she added, flexing her shoulders in a showy manner, hoping she could make him laugh, perhaps.

  7. #7
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    Matteo felt an overwhelming dread that he was only inconveniencing this woman. On an early morning like this, she had probably been headed to work to start her day, and here he was, flashing his blood-red look-at-me lights. His wings were enough of a marvel, but what did she think of the blood, the oceans on his skin, in his body, everywhere? Just thinking about it sent his mind back to that place, to the failures, to the sacrifices, to everything that had gotten him where he was now.

    He shook his head violently, pale curls bouncing through crusted blood. Now was not a time to think too hard. He'd just gotten out of... that, he needed to rest, to take things easy. Matteo glanced back towards Myrna, biting his lip. She was an absolute godsend, wasn't she? So blindly willing to help this stranger, willing to offer him food and take him back to her apartment--wait. Matteo's eyes widened at the suggestion, shocked and a bit horrified. She trusted him to her home? But how could he-- But what if-- He couldn't go to the home of a lady--alone--God, what would Mamma think of this? He piped up in protest, syllables falling over each other in a reckless race, before he stopped himself. Myrna was a stranger. And he wasn't a child anymore, was he? Mamma--his mother would never again dictate his actions. Matteo swallowed the lump in his throat, hoping Myrna didn't think him even weirder now.

    Silently, Matteo took several cautious steps towards Myrna, testing his own balance. "I can do it," he insisted, wanting to not inconvenience her any more. His pace was slow, shaky, but eventually he started moving beside her. As he did, his wings extended behind him, seemingly of their own desire. They stretched towards the tree, giant things with a wingspan of several feet. One wing seemed to twitch for a few moments before both retracted against his back, a long slip of a cape, feathers dragging against the dirt beneath him. Unaware of his own body's motions, Matteo continued on, a million thoughts still piercing his mind.

    The walk was short, but after only a few steps, Matteo felt a pain creep through his body. It started in his chest, blossomed out towards his arms and legs. He pushed through silently, too used to pain to put up a fuss. When they did arrive at the building he'd be entering, Matteo took a moment to take in its appearance. It was a nice-looking place, he thought, meaning Myrna might have been at least somewhat well-off. He turned back to her, a brow raised. She'd mentioned a cat, and now Matteo hovered awkwardly outside the door. Would a cat take to him well? Images filled his mind, countless animals, galaxies of red... This cat, he imagined, would hate him.

    Matteo looked back to Myrna. "Your cat--" he started, but he stopped when he saw a person coming out of their home. They looked preoccupied, but Matteo did not want to be seen, not now. "We should go," he said, urgency wrapping around his voice. "Let's go."

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    On the way back she had been less chatty than the initial encounter in the park would have led anyone to believe; it wasn't out of a lack of care or interest, more that she had retreated into her own thoughts, or more accurately, the venomous words of a zealous mother. She wasn't even watching her surroundings- her walk home came as naturally to her as the sun that blared loudly in the sky, and her fingers brushed against Matteo's elbow the whole way but she barely perceived the rough patches of dried blood, or the softness of his skin. Her mind was in other places, in dark nooks often reserved for the early – or late – walks home when the streets were empty and her mind could wander.

    When she was a teenager, she'd not been allowed over any friends, let alone those of the male persuasion. In fact, she wasn't allowed male friends full stop, or any friends outside of Sunday school. Any time her mother found out, it had been stamped out, and with it any chance at youthful experimentation, or danger. Of course, she had friends now, had experimented in her adulthood to make up for it and engaged in 'dangerous' behaviour besides. It had been quite some time since she'd taken anyone back to her flat though, and whilst she wasn't taking Matteo back for that – no, Gods no - , it still brought back nagging, seeping doubts.

    Myrna's chest prickled with equal amounts pride and fear – pride that she had managed to overcome the shame her mother had steeped into her, brewed over years and years of religion; and fear, that small chink in her armour that remained and persisted in asking her 'was her mother actually right, despite it all?'. Would she, like the bodies in hospital fail to awake or shudder and shake into death, and would she wake up in a sulphurous brimstone nightmare? And even quieter, even more worrying, the doubt that tugged at her. Was she helping Matteo because it was the right thing to do, or was she helping him for a leg-up into heaven?

    Myrna twirled the keys between her nimble fingers as she guided Matteo towards her apartment, a gentle tinkle accompanying her footsteps and the gentle sweep of wing against fabric. As she entered the building she caught herself frowning and instead, smiled to Matteo. She didn't want him worrying. He was clearly already overburdened.
    “Just this way” she gestured to the stairs.

    She lived in apartment 12A, on the first floor and up a flight of stairs, which did worry her; she stole a look over at Matteo, hopefully in a way that was more subtle than she worried it was. Inwardly, she wondered if he could take the stairs. She'd consider the elevator but she could barely fit in it: she doubted he and his feathery protrusions would manage.

    Slowly, she guided him to the stairs and mercifully, they made it. Even more mercifully, they both dodged her neighbour, who was generally nosey but today seemed engrossed in some Facebook game or other on their phone and walked past them without a word or a nod. Then, she opened the door and it swung open on an automatic hinge, in a way she considered almost melodramatic considering the scenario.

    It was a typical modern flat. A main room which was large and roomy, more from the lack of furniture than the size – there was a sofa, coffee table and one bookshelf stacked with the sort of dripping, insipid young-adult romance you'd read when you were looking for something that would scratch that melodramatic itch. Opposite the sofa was a TV, with a games console and a lot of role-playing games stacked, accumulating dust and cobwebs in equal measure; alongside romantic comedies and comedies that were tailored towards teenage boys- Superbad, Role Models, that sort of inoffensive fare that always seemed to be on at the cinema. Above the television, bracketed on the wall was a cross, one of a few that sat in assorted places around the flat.

    There was a bright window with a lookout onto the park peeking in slivers through the blinds, and long dusky rays from the sunlight. The other room was a kitchenette, what could barely be called -and yet was- an ensuite; half the size of the living room, and a bathroom that amounted to a bath that took up a good portion of the room alongside a shower. In the silhouetted door, a tabby cat could be seen sleeping in the basin. The door to her bedroom was closed.

    Her home was almost entirely cut and paste from an Ikea catalogue – all flat-pack, harsh angles and blocky, solid colours; Myrna had opted for white. She'd read in a magazine that it brightened the room, and if the white didn't the accents of bright, mustardy yellows certainly would. Her rug, picture frames, sofa – essentially any accents, were all the same dark, yellowy tone.
    She turned back to Matteo.
    “It isn't much, but come on in. Make yourself at home, OK?” she said to him, reassuringly as she gestured for him to come in. Now, she thought to herself, now, maybe she could ask him what happened. She bit her lip a moment, scolding herself for that having been the first thought to bubble to the surface – her first should have been to help him.

  9. #9
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    Panic prickled at his skin, poking under fine hairs standing on end. He'd been lucky with Myrna, surely, but if someone else saw him now--then what? Suddenly, being seen by her neighbors seemed a fate akin to damnation. He stumbled through the threshold of her home, his legs struggling to keep his cumbersome body upright. Once he was inside, door shut behind, he could finally breathe. He would be okay--right? He was in a woman's--no, it was just because she was helping him--but this was wrong--but he needed to get cleaned up. This rampant psychomachia sent tremors through his head, a searing pain carving through his skull. Matteo, he told himself, please, just... Relax. Isn't that what Mamma would say?

    After taking a few moments to calm himself down, Matteo looked at the apartment. It was smaller on the inside, more vacant than he'd imagined, with far too much white. He glanced towards Myrna again, at her scrubs. Didn't she get tired of white? The splotches of sunshine in her furniture seemed like a statement he didn't understand. The apartment was too neat, too clean, too white. What if he dripped blood onto all of her pristine furniture? Was he still bleeding? Swallowing his worries, Matteo's bright eyes caught on the shelf in the room. He wandered over to it, seeing bound tomes with intricate characters inscribed in various fonts. Curiosity trumping his politeness, Matteo grabbed a tome off the shelf to examine it. He turned it over in his hands, fascinated. Those inscriptions--what did they say? Could Myrna read these? He opened the book, watching the way the pages fell with gravity. "What is this?" he murmured, entirely fascinated. Somewhere deep in his brain, repressed memories of schooldays, of workbooks and textbooks and comic books struggled to surface to his consciousness, but for now, the child-like, angel-like man stood with a book in his hands, in awe of what he held.

    As he was paging through the leaves, Matteo noticed a smudge of rust tainting one of the pages he'd just touched. Realizing he was getting dried blood on Myrna's tome, he panicked and threw the book back to the shelf. Hesitating, he picked it up again and sorted it onto the shelf. "Ah, sorry," he mumbled, turning sharply to meet her eye and apologize formally. He got distracted by the crucifix, the towering decorative piece above the television. He averted his gaze from it, embarrassment crawling to his cheeks. Could the Lord see him now? What did He think of his precious little angel? Brows furrowing, Matteo scoffed at his own stupid thoughts. What did he care what his mother's god thought of him?

    His gaze fell to the smaller tomes by the television--well, no, he recognized those. Those were discs, contained games to put in consoles, with controllers, voice chats with friends--did he have friends? He wandered to the video games, dropping next to them. Ghosts of memory lingered in his mind as he looked over the titles, more unintelligible inscriptions. Didn't he recognize that character, with the blonde, spiky hair? From where?

    Matteo again was pulled from his struggling nostalgia when he heard the angry howls of a cat. His eyes snapped to the cat, the one he must have woken up, now glaring and growling at him. "Sorry," he mumbled, backing away from it. "I'm not... I know you don't--please don't hurt me." Nervous and stumbling, Matteo looked to Myrna for help.

    He was a child lost in a toy store, catching on every shiny new plaything for only brief moments before his attention was pulled by another. There was too much to take in about this apartment--the cross, the tomes, the game; why did it feel like home? The cat wanted him out, and maybe Myrna did, too. What kinds of problems was he causing by just being here? He shifted uncomfortably, unsure of what to do.

    "Can I just... wash up?" He could wash the blood off of him, then figure out where to go from there. He'd look far less threatening when his skin wasn't red. Even if Myrna changed her mind about all this, at least then he would be able to find someone else... Right? Matteo shook his head. He was overthinking again. "A bath, yes, can I--?" He started for the bathroom, wary of the location of the upset kitty. Did he remember how to operate a shower? His mind wandered back to those video games, those tomes. Would he ever remember his life before all this? One thing at a time.​ Poking at the bathroom door, he turned to Myrna. "Can I use this?"

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    The nurse watched him as she decanted her coat onto a hanger and stretched her shoulders back, groaning as her muscles rushed with that familiar warmth that came with moving after having not moved all day. All the while, her gaze never dropped from this strange man and his strange ways – not out of concern so much as fascination and, as much medical as personal. Perhaps a little more of the former than the latter if she was being honest with herself. She found herself admitting to that guilty aside each time she thought of this angel, and the many questions his existence proffered.

    The first thing she noticed was how out of place he looked within her relatively, well, clinical apartment. It would have been funny if not for the rest of the situation and the strange sadness that seemed to emanate from him, that same strange sadness that compelled her to help. Here stood some sort of angel, a smear of red and brown and off-white, all unkempt hair and baggy clothes, in the middle of her apartment; the white on him should have blended in and yet, here he was, the most stark thing here. Myrna stood for a moment, her gaze sweeping over Matteo, until she realised she was staring and she shook her head out of it and smiled warmly in his direction. It was a little after that that he made his first move, right towards her-

    oh, shit. He didn't know what those were, did he?
    Her eyes widened, and curiously enough, her cheeks bloomed a slight pink as he made a beeline for her romance books and opened them with a reverence she saved for, well...- not those sorts of books definitely. He hadn't seemed to have noticed the rippling muscles and bosomed heroines that adorned the covers, and her heart slowed to a normal pace. It was strange, perhaps, to worry about embarrassing herself in front of this man she didn't know but at the same time they had always been a strictly guilty pleasure of hers and she'd never fancied sharing that bit of herself. Let alone with a man who handled them like they were the good book itself. She watched him, a smile spreading across her wide mouth for a moment before she answered him with a slightly embarrassed cough.
    “Those are, uh. My books, Matteo. I'm not sure you'd- I'm not sure you'd like those ones, but I have others you might like.” the nurse, who had sounded so sure of herself now sounded much like a scolded child, and she tripped over words. It was bizarre to her that after all of this, it took a grown man – at least in appearances – touching her collection of terrible romance novels to reduce her to this. Inwardly she scolded herself, but she barely had time to do that before he proceeded to shove the book back with an apology. Another apology.

    This prompted a frown in her, a spark of familiarity within. She took a step towards him. There was something so childlike and innocent about him, mixed with that queer sort of sadness and guilt that she couldn't quite place, but which activated every nurses' instinct within her breast.
    “Hey, don't worry about apologising unless I say I'm upset, OK? You're fine. You're safe.” she reached out and awkwardly patted his shoulder, and another smile.

    And then he was off again, with a child-like curiosity towards her collection of games. In his eyes, was that familiarity? She'd never considered that an angel might well have played games, but he seemed to know what these were. She stood where she was, content to let him wander for himself. The mess was the last thing on her mind; the only reason her flat was so clean was that she'd not had much time to be here in amidst endless late-nights and early mornings and a rampant desire of hers to stay as far away from a lonely, empty flat as possible. Though, Myrna supposed, that would definitely change. A brief moment was dedicated to wondering what he'd do after the immediate problems were solved.

    It was the yowling of her cat that shook her from her thoughts. Her head whipped from the tabby, whom she had never seen react like this before, to the man who looked equally as distressed and she came to a conclusion: lock the cat in the bedroom. Quickly, she darted past the angel and towards the bathroom, lifting the cat from the basin. It was not an act without struggle, for he pushed and hissed against her, even when she tried to soothe him.
    “Hey, Mr Snuggles, what's gotten into you?” she demanded, a frown furrowing her brow as she held the cat in one arm and again, pushed past the angel towards the closed door that stood next to the television. In the struggle she'd had with the puss, he'd managed to scrape at her cheek and a thin streak of red split her light skin. She ignored it, and made for the door.

    She shouldered it with a grunt, and the reason her flat, at least this main room, was so neat was revealed – within her bedroom lay a mess of opened and unopened boxes both, clothes on the floor and piles of books-both medical and personal- arranged haphazardly. She'd never really unpacked properly, it had been a case of getting furniture set up and, well, leaving everything else in her bedroom because, hey, nobody was ever in there anyway so who cared? She threw the appropriately named Mr Snuggles onto her bed where he landed with a small flump and a heavy sigh, and closed the door behind her. Then, she turned back to Matteo with what could be read as quite a bashful grin.
    “Sorry about him- dunno what's gotten into him. He's usually a sweetheart.”

    She listened to him and nodded.
    “Oh, yeah sure. The bathroom- well, you know where that is. There's towels next to the shower. Uh. You know how to use a shower? I can help if you need.”
    She wasn't embarrassed about that prospect – she'd cared for many patients in her time and whilst none of them had been angelic in nature she had no qualms about helping someone else wash, or being in the room. It was strictly medical, he was for all intents and purposes her patient for now.
    “There's like, soap and stuff. Use whatever you want. Don't worry about making a mess. I'll uh- do you want something to drink?” was her next question as she pointed with a thumb towards the kitchen.

    For herself, she fully intended to make as strong a coffee as possible. She had a feeling it was going to be a long day.

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