Chapter Thirty Five: An Even Match
"They are here?!" Roger Carter's eyes widened in shock. His handsome face looked helpless, even a little scared.
"Correction, my lord Carter," Master Holland flicked dust off his robe, "HE is here."
"But Archangel Luke? Why would he visit the fallen angels?" Roger ran a hand through his hair, "haven't the Archangels done enough to us?"
Master Holland put a hand on his arm, "The Archangels didn't do anything we don't deserve, my lord Carter. I believed, you have a strong regard for the Archangels by the way?"
Roger scoffed, "That was before they sent down the ridiculous Order of the Archangels and send Alex into some sort of love-crazed frenzy. Have you even looked at the boy, Master Holland?" He turned towards him exasperatedly, "that whore Anastasia has been playing with him like she plays with food."
Holland's jaw tightened at the word "whore", but he said nothing about it. He clasped his hands together in front of him, and raised his eyes at Roger.
"My lord Carter, perhaps it's time we present you to the Archangel Luke. He doesn't like waiting."
"Of course," he flashed over to Holland's side and the both of them were out of the room.
They entered the hall, and Archangel Luke, his blonde hair gleaming under the sunlight, his skin pale as milk, sat on the armchair nearest the fireplace. When they arrived, he stood up and bowed, though he didn't look very sincere in his manners, Roger thought.
"My beloved brothers, Master Holland, and my dear Carter!" Luke said in a falsely cheery voice, "how nice to see you after so long."
"My lord Archangel," Roger returned his bow with a look of contempt. Then he straightened up and looked at the smirking Archangel in the eye, "what can we do for you?"
"Oh, it's just a friendly call from my fellow Archangels, Carter, nothing more."
"You cast us down, my lord Archangel, forgive me if I don't regard this as a friendly call," Roger shot back.
Archangel Luke's face darkened, and gleams of gold threatened to show on his back. His eyes were cold when they looked at Roger.
"Very well. You don't want to be civil, I see. Well, my dear Carter, maybe you could start by explaining why Alexander Giovanni is chasing after our most beloved Anastasia?"
"He was her lover, my lord Archangel. And even though she had had many lovers at the same time, he doted on her," Roger said smoothly, "is it really so surprising that he wanted her back? However… I can tell you her conduct with other men hadn't been… satisfactory."
Luke scowled, but when he spoke, his tone was still strictly polite, "So, you have been monitoring her. Well, thank you for that. But do I need to remind you, Carter, that Archangel Gabriel had sentenced that if Giovanni succeeded in finding her a Mate, all of you are welcome back to Heaven?"
"Yes, we know that, my lord Archangel," Roger nodded curtly, "but your beloved Anastasia had not been successful in choosing a mate for herself. And anyone who have eyes can tell you that Alexander Giovanni considered himself her one and only mate. The Archangels had given him an even larger punishment by ordering him to find another man for the woman he loved. Though I can assure you, my lord, that I don't know why he would still want her after what she did to him, after how she got himself surrounded by other lovers, just to hurt him. Maybe Alex is a fool, my lord, but even the dumbest of fools will not chase after a woman who have betrayed him, body and soul."
Archangel Luke's wings burst out of his back and he stood up angrily. The gigantic golden wings spread out, burning with crimson because of his anger.
"You dare accuse Anastasia of being a whore, you unworthy, insolent fool? Has your sinful lust for her turned to hate, Carter?"
Roger's face paled, but his voice remained steady, "That is a very serious accusation, which I will not respond. I never had any desire for the slutty Archangel. Not in Heaven in 1600, or on Earth. She is just an immoral woman, a woman unworthy to be an Archangel."
There was a flash of gold, and Roger found himself slammed onto the wall with a hand around his throat, blocking his windpipe. He gasped for breath, and twisted his neck, desperate for air.
"It's not her fault, Carter. It's not her fault that her sexuality attracts men. It's not her fault that she fell in love with the wrong men. And you… do you think the Archangels, my brothers, do not know you lust after her like a man who sees a pretty woman? Compared with Giovanni, Carter, your sins are far greater indeed."
"I do not lust after anyone," Roger gritted his teeth.
"I can see it in your eyes, Carter. Do you think I don't know why you hated me back in Heaven? Because I have the one thing you want most. I repeat, WANT. You do not love. You do not love anyone but your ambition, your pride, your glory. But your lust for sexual intimacies makes YOU unworthy to be an angel of any kind. It is a mercy for you that we cast you down." Luke grinned savagely, "but we offered you a second mercy, did we not, by welcoming you, alone with other angels, a chance to come back? Yet you have been so selfish about what you want that you wasted away every second chance we have given you. It's kinda sad, actually."
Roger twisted his neck, and gripped a hand on the one which was holding his throat, "What do you want from me, you son of a bitch?"
Luke cocked his head to the side, and loosened his hold a little. "Oh, now we are talking," he grinned. He cupped Roger's throat in both hands, and locked his gaze with his own, "I want you to bring Anastasia back to us."
Roger froze, then shook his head, "It would be impossible."
"Why? You know she wanted to be back in Heaven, with her new found mate," Luke said softly, "and either way, she belongs to us."
"He will never allow it," Roger said roughly, "you will have to go through Alex first. And he will never let her go."
"Ah yes, of course," Luke nodded understandingly, a smile on his face, "but YOU have a claim over her, don't you? She owes you a favor. A favor which you MERCIFULLY didn't demand repayment. But isn't it time now, my dear Carter, to remind her of it?"
All color left Roger's face, and he shoved Roger away. He swept to the window, and pressed himself against the window pane, defensively, "No. No, I won't ask her to repay me that way."
"But you loved her. If you do not LUST after her, like you said, then there is only one explanation to why you wanted her. You cared about her."
Roger gritted his teeth, "I won't do this to her."
"You remembered that night. Yes, you remember it well. The memory was as fresh in your mind like it was yesterday. Carter…" Luke took a step toward him, "you have the power to sever all ties between Anastasia and the unworthy Alexander, and you, my dear angel, will be able to return to Heaven. Everyone will thank you for getting mercy for them."
"If you think I am going to hurt Ana like this…."
"Funny. You just called her an unworthy whore. Look, none of that matters. I don't care whether you love her, you want her, or whether she is a whore or whether you are a bastard. I don't care. I need to protect Anastasia. And I was selected to be her mate. An Archangel's mate protects the other, and cherish her, and loves her until the Wheel of Time stops spinning," the Archangel held up both hands, "trust me when I say I would do anything for her."
Roger clenched his fists. He won't, WOULDN'T, use the night they had together as a weapon against her. He wouldn't. Still… what else could he do if he didn't do as the Archangel wants? They have higher authority, higher claim over him. And, like Luke said, he had a claim over Anastasia, because of the most perfect night he had with her.
He looked up at Luke, who was watching him with that cold, emotionless look on his face. He drew a deep breath.
Luke narrowed his eyes, and then he was in front of Roger, his lips curled in a cold sneer, "You don't believe that I love her, don't you?"
"No, I don't believe a cold, conceited, selfish-"
"Say that again, I dare you."
"I said you are an-"
Suddenly someone was dragging the Archangel away from him. He gasped, and saw Alex, with his white wings bursting from his back, tackling Luke onto the floor, rolling with him. Alex had the element of surprise, so, with sheer luck, he was able to flip Luke onto his back, and closed a hand around his throat.
"If you have a bone to pick with me, you can always come here and find me instead," Alex growled.
The Archangel tried to roll over, but Alex's angry grip on him was strengthened by adrenaline. He gritted his teeth.
"You were too busy chasing after a woman who you could never have," Luke said vengefully.
In a blur, Alex had Luke pinned to the wall by his hand on his throat. His wings were streaked by crimson, and his eyes grew black in anger. Streaks of ice blossomed around them, and ice crept up on the Archangel, freezing him up to his chin and threatening to cover his whole torso in deadly ice.
"You will never take Anastasia away from here, not when I am still breathing," Alex hissed, "you know what I could do in Heaven. I can freeze both Heaven and Earth IF you force me to. And I will, my lord Archangel, if you push me to the limits."
Luke's lips were turning blue with cold, and he shivered uncontrollably, spasming. But his eyes never left Alex. He stared him down, "You won't kill me. Because you know if you do, SHE will know."
"Do I look like I give a damn what she knows and what she doesn't know, my lord Archangel? Do I look like I even care about anything-"
"Yes, you do, Alex. Don't act like you don't," Luke choked out. The ice was cracking up to coat his jaw now. He twisted his neck, and gasped in a gulp of air, "you care about her, even though she had betrayed you."
A flash of red crossed Alex's eyes. He tightened his hold and Luke gagged, the ice coming up to his mouth and nose…. Alex, don't.
The voice echoed in Alex's head, like the bad reception of a radio. He felt a current run through him. It wasn't the voice that shocked him. It was HER voice.
Anastasia.... When she was still in love with him. When he did something he didn't like, back in 1600, where he was in Heaven and was going to pluck a rose for her, but she laid a hand upon his and shook her head, alarmed. Uncaring as she was, she didn't like destroying nature…
Alex. Please. Don't do this. Please don't do this. I beg you.
His hand loosened automatically, and the ice on Luke's neck shrunk back. He wanted to kill the Archangel, he really wanted to, but…
Alex. For me.
'For you, Anastasia?' He thought, his fingers moving up Luke's neck again. You know I would do anything for you. But what do you give me in return, Ana? More lies and more pushing me away?
Of course, she fell silent. What did he expect anyway? It's just his imagination playing tricks on his conscience. He chuckled darkly, and strengthened his hold on Luke.
Alex. They will never forgive you if you killed him. Don't do this for me. Do it for yourself. Alex. This isn't who you are.
He froze, and then the red disappeared from Alex's eyes. He stumbled back, the ice finally fading from Luke's mouth and neck. Roger wrapped an arm around Alex's waist and pulled him backwards, as if he were afraid that Luke might regain his power and attack them. Luke coughed, and choked in the air.
"My lord Archangel, I apologize," Roger said, though he didn't look like he meant it.
Luke gagged in air, and his chest heaved up and down. Then he spoke, his voice so choked that it was like every word gave him a lot of pain.
"It… will never work you know, Giovanni," Alex heard. "You… and her… she will never…."
Alex jerked his body and made a move to pounce on him. Roger pressed him close to his body, his arm restraining him in his waist.
"NO, ALEX. You missed your chance, and I am glad you did. Or we will never escape. Don't tempt yourself again."
"Let go of me," Luke chuckled, and heaved himself up. He looked so weakened that Alex felt that he could snap his neck with a twist. And that was exactly what he wanted to do. If he didn't kill Luke now, he would never get another chance.
Alex, for the love of God, let him out of here alive. He will owe you one mercy, and he will repay you. You will regret killing him. Spare him… at least for now.
'Damn you, Anastasia,' he thought savagely, and tore his eyes away from Luke.
Roger made sure he wouldn't move, then crawled over to the fallen Archangel. He heaved him up, and used fire to reduce the ice formed on his body.
"My lord, it is best you leave," he said.
Luke pushed him away and stood up, swaying slightly. He cast one searing glance at Alex, who didn't even blink an eye at him. Then, tiredly, he extended his wings, and was out of the window in a flash of gold.
Roger walked back to Alex.
"Hey. You okay?"
Alex didn't reply. Roger held out a hand.
"Come on, brother. I have to thank you for saving me."
Alex raised his eyes tiredly at him.
"It wasn't for you," he said softly.
Roger frowned, then shrugged.
"Fine. But I saved you too, from killing an Archangel."
"Then we are even and we don't have to talk about this ever again, right?" Alex stood up and left the room without another word.