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  • Writer's pictureC.A. Lightfoot

The Guardian - Chapter Nine

Summary: Dover heals from using Holy Light, Hanael tries to build stronger bonds.

Chapter Nine

Her hand ached. Holy Light wasn’t something to play with, even if the intention was noble. Dover took half a bottle of good vodka in one long pull before Embry shoved a leather belt between her teeth. Once prepared, or as prepared as she could get, Embry forced Jon to hold her onto the rickety wooden chair while the druid pulled damaged skin away from her palm.

Her consciousness threatened to take leave as her friend tended to her hand. Jon had to use all of his body weight to keep her still, her will to not hurt him keeping her in place more than his own strength. Screams she knew would be awful to hear were, thankfully, muffled by the gag in place to keep her from biting off her own tongue. Sweat beaded at her brow, slipped down her flesh until it stung her eyes. For all her strength and gifts, Dover was helpless as Embry fought to stop the necrosis already forming on her hand.

The Guardian could see pain clearly in the men’s eyes as they doctored her hand, stripping away the damaged tissue as though it were nothing more than wet paper.

When, at last, she was bandaged, Dover downed the rest of the vodka before promptly losing the war with wakefulness.

“Ten were found dead at the Pryor Street Pub with another seven injured. Two remain in critical condition. At this time, police believe some kind of gas leak may have led to the explosion.”

Dover awoke with a start, sitting up on Embry’s familiar bed with the sheets falling to her lap. Unaware of what she was wearing, she stood, padding on bare feet to the bedroom door.

The television was on the morning news, with Embry and Jon watching silently from the couch. Dover stumbled out of the room, staring at her Charge as though he would answer the question she couldn’t quite form just yet.

He appeared to be unharmed, excepting the small bruise under his left eye. Dover swallowed thickly, ignoring the pain vibrating from her hand as she turned, slowly, to the television.

“The Pub’s owners have declined commenting, stating that they are cooperating with police at this time, but the pub will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Jim?”

She knew it was coming. Dover mentally prepared for battle, using her good hand to absorb some of the light from the bright lamp behind her. Funneling the small burst of light into her injured hand, Dover took a deep breath.

3. 2. 1.

“You just left them there.”

Jon’s accusation hung heavy on the air. The television continued on, stories of September fun and fall gatherings while children trooped back to school. Outside of this room, life went on, people lived their lives in the only way that they saw fit to.

In Embry’s well-appointed living room, Dover squared off with her Charge.

“You could have saved them,” Jon continued. He stood, staring at the injured Guardian with blue eyes hard as winter ice. “You could have gotten some of them out of there, but you left them to die, to be desecrated by that thing.

Dover nodded once before she looked up to meet the eyes of her angry Charge. “Yes, I did. I left them to die because they are not my responsibility. You are.”

Jon stared at her for a moment as though he could not believe the words had left her mouth. Dover had, on occasion, been forced to allow innocent humans to die for the good of her charges. It was never easy nor enjoyable. It merely came with the Guardian territory.

“You’re a monster.” Jon gasped the words, as though they hurt him to say. “You let demons kill innocent people. You just left them.”

“And I would do it again, if it meant the difference between life and death, Jon. You are my Charge, not the whole of Atlanta or the entire species. I am only one Guardian.”

Her ire rose with every word. Jon did not understand the pain of what she had done, how it would feel to confess this sin at the Arbor. Not all Guardians confessed, especially when it was part of their duty. Every life lost, to Dover, came with the keen sting of failure and her strict Catholic upbringing found solace in confession.

She could never dwell on it, not when she had others that needed her.

“You’re the best God has to offer, eh?” Jon kept right on with his rant, which Dover guessed had been building since the moment they Slid from the bar. “Some Guardian. You save one insignificant life and leave my friends to die? What happens when you have to choose between me or some other Charge? Do I just hope you like me best?”

“Easy.” Embry said, finally speaking up from his place on the sofa. “Watch your tone, buddy.”

“Let him speak, Em.” Dover cut in, stepping around to block Embry from Jon’s sight. “He has every right.”

“Damn right, I do.” Jon took a step closer, looking down into Dover’s tired gaze. He towered over her, filled with indignation and pain. She had rarely seen a Charge this worked up and Jon had never even said an unkind word in her presence. His anger hurt, but Dover could not dwell on that now.

“I did what was right, Jon.” The Guardian continued to defend herself, though she knew that to be a fruitless endeavor. “You may, someday, save the world or develop a cure for Parkinson’s or do any of a million good deeds. That is known.”

“Because you say I’m someone important to the man upstairs, that makes my life worth more than theirs?”

Without flinching, Dover kept Jon’s gaze.


For a long moment, there was only the sound of ragged breath to chorus with the television broadcast. Jon stared at Dover. The Guardian regarded her Charge silently. Embry seemed to have discovered the better part of valor and wisely kept his mouth shut.

“I’m going home.” The young man announced suddenly. “I can’t be here right now.”

Dover nodded once.

Embry stood, patting her shoulder lightly.

“I’ll see him home and make sure he’s Warded.”

After touching her friend’s hand for the briefest moment, Dover turned away. Jon slammed out of the little suburban house, followed by Embry, with his keys jingling merrily in his hands. Dover turned to the television, holding her uninjured hand out to summon the remote control.

The little device gave a drunken lurch before it reached her. Dover rewound the newscast quickly, watching the entire story on the bodies found at the pub where she’d come face-to-face with a necromancer.

Once the sound of Embry’s car faded, Dover dropped her head forward and wept.

For two days, Dover retreated into her own little world. So much excitement over the last week now rubbed her the wrong way. Instead of hiding at the Arbor – where she would have to eventually face Hanael – or getting drunk with Embry, she holed up in her little apartment to binge-watch Friends for the hundredth time.

Though she wasn’t one to wallow, she had to admit that hiding out for a couple of days made her feel better. Well, she felt better so long as she ardently avoided turning on the news.

She had no word from Jon, though Embry assured her he was alive and Warded well. Dover told herself she was alright with that. Most of her five Charges only called when they needed her. Three of them had only had cause to call her once. After that, she was perfectly fine with fading into the background, to make it seem as if her arrival into their lives had been a dream.

At the climax of episode three from season five, the tingle in the back of her mind that told her she was not alone tickled at her psyche. She frowned, sending out her Perception to find the creature lingering nearby. When her mind found that a familiar, solemn angel stood contemplating whether or not to knock, Dover unwrapped herself from the blankets, and stuffed her popcorn wrapper into the sofa cushions.

In her oversized Bulldogs sweatshirt and leggings, Dover decided she didn’t care what she looked like. She wasn’t in the mood to impress anyone, in any event.

She opened the front door before Hanael managed to knock.

He looked odd in something other than a suit. The senior angel wore a pair of crisp blue jeans and a simple long-sleeved shirt in a shade that intensified the green of his eyes. Having never seen him dressed down, Dover almost didn’t recognize the angel.

“Dover.” Hanael spoke her name softly. “I don’t mean to intrude.”

“Then don’t stand outside my door fidgeting.” Dover replied with the barest hint of a smile. “Come on in.”

As she stepped back, she could almost see Han’s hesitation. He didn’t seem to want to come in, for whatever reason. However, it appeared that leaving was equally out of the question.

She certainly had not expected him to visit after the incident of just three days ago. Dover referred to the moment at the Arbor as “Kiss-gate” if only to make Embry laugh.

When he stepped inside, Dover quietly closed the door behind him. Since her kettle was still warm on the stove, she stepped around his hulking form to grasp it.

“Tea?” She asked quietly, grabbing a pair of mugs from her cupboard. “Two sugars, no milk, right?”

Hanael gifted her with a small smile of his own. “Yes. Thank you.”

Her mind spinning a million questions she had no answers to, Dover occupied herself with making tea. She poured, scooped sugar, stirred. Hanael moved toward the little bar area of her kitchen, sliding his massive body onto a stool. For a moment, Dover glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, enjoying how he looked sitting in her apartment.

Then, she remembered that she was blindingly angry with him for not being completely honest about the things happening in their world. No matter how she tried to harden her heart, Hanael always got under her skin.

That was annoying as shit.

The mug clinked musically against the ceramic counter as Dover handed Hanael his tea. He murmured a thank you, seemingly as uncomfortable with the tense silence as she was.

For several moments, they merely regarded one another carefully, sipping their hot tea. Dover wondered what he was thinking, wishing for the millionth time that she had some sort of telepathic ability.

Then again, if everyone else’s minds were as insane as hers, maybe it was a good thing she couldn’t hear thoughts.

“Elise called me.”

Dover groaned, dropping her head forward so her chin touched her chest. “That nosey witch.”

Hanael actually chuckled, the low rumble of it sending a quiver down her spine. Dover mentally smacked herself to clear it; looking up only when she was relatively sure she had control of her emotions. Not to mention her libido.

One kiss doesn’t change anything, Dove. Come on.

“She worries for you.” Hanael replied, setting his teacup down. “She explained about the necromancer and the argument with Jon Bennett.”

Grumbling to herself, Dover ran her still-healing hand through her hair in frustration. “I’m going to stop telling her anything. I swear to God. She’s a damn busybody.”

“She lived for 75 years, had 13 grandchildren,” Hanael’s voice was thick and honeyed with affection. “She is merely following her experiences.”

Dover shot him a furrow of brow mingled with a frown. “Stop defending her meddling. I’m going to start calling her Nana.”

“Seeing as her 75 years are now inside of a much younger body, that might just amuse everyone.”

Dover tried, with every muscle in her face, to hold back the grin. Hanael had that innate ability to be charming and innocent, but he could be downright hilarious when the mood struck. No matter how angry she was with him or how irritating she found Elise’s meddling, she couldn’t help the way she relaxed around Han.

Damn it.

Snorting a little as she broke her attempt at solemnity, Dover shook her head. “I never stand a chance. Between you two and Embry, I’m never allowed to mope.”

“Moping causes wrinkles,” Hanael quipped as he lifted his tea to his lips once more. “Wouldn’t want that.”

Dover lifted a brow, and then chuckled. “Well, there. I laughed. Mission accomplished?”

Hanael’s answering smile made her heart flutter in that annoyingly juvenile fashion. “Yes, actually. That did not take long at all, did it?”

“Don’t wrap that pride around yourself so much, Han. Wouldn’t want you to get hung by it.”

They lapsed into a companionable sort of silence, the laugh lines still visible around Hanael’s eyes. Dover found herself reminded of those first years among the Guardians, when he shifted from merely a superior angel to her friend. As solemn and rigid as the angel could be, he had a soft, almost playful side when alone with someone he trusted.

Did he really trust her, though?

Deciding she didn’t care right now, that connecting with him made her feel better, Dover shoved the thought aside. It had obviously taken Herculean effort for him to come to her after their argument, so much so that he was unable to even knock on her door. He made the effort to reconcile them, she could meet him halfway.

Swallowing back any sarcastic comment, Dover said the first thing that came to mind that wasn’t about trust or Celestian tomes of ancient knowledge.



“How long have you wanted to kiss me?”

His startled silence brought a vibrant flush to Dover’s cheeks. Even after their kiss only days ago, Hanael and Dover had not taken the time to discuss “them”. They never had, if she were honest. As their relationship slowly morphed over the last decade, they did not openly discuss it, content to leave well enough alone. Perhaps now, the time had finally come to release one more taboo between them.

He was looking down at his half-full cup of tea when, finally, the angel managed to speak. Dover released the breath she hadn’t been aware of holding, surprised to find the lack of oxygen made her lightheaded.

“Do you remember the day Raziel chastised you in front of the assembly? I believe it was because you had negotiated with the legion commander instead of exorcising him?”

Her brows came together in a thoughtful – if confused – furrow.


Hanael nodded absently. “You had on a pair of jeans, an old t-shirt, all of which was covered with ichor and mud a good half-inch deep. Your hair was a mess, this was before you cut it. And you looked angry enough to try smacking Raziel around until she agreed with you, damn the consequences.”

Dover released another chuckle, thinking of that day and the angry glower Raziel gifted her with every day since.

“Oh, God. I remember. I was so young…”

Dover froze.

The incident in question happened her first year as a Guardian.

“Han, that was thirteen years ago.” Dover set her cup down, bracing her hands on the counter to stare at her companion. “You’ve been holding on to that all this time?”

To his credit, Hanael’s own cheeks blossomed with color. Dover forgot her training, her manners, her ire. She came swiftly around the counter, aware that Hanael immediately turned to face her. With her entire body screaming for contact while her head told her to run in the opposite direction, Dover stepped close. He shifted toward her, making room in his personal space for her to encroach. She tried to ignore how they moved together, in sync, in tune.

With him sat on the chair, their heights were comparable, making it possible for Dover to meet his eyes without strain.

“Emotions are troublesome things, even after all my years on Earth.” Hanael explained softly. His eyes were sad, yet filled with a glimmer of something Dover thought she recognized as hope. “Affection, caring, those are easy.”

Dover nodded once, her hand drifting up, so she could touch the subtle cleft in Hanael’s chin. “I know.”

He swallowed so hard Dover was able to hear the sound and watch his Adam’s Apple bob nervously. “Attraction, desire, passion, those are things no angel can really articulate. Those emotions can take complete control and that loss of senses is, obviously, terrifying for someone as old as I am.”

He took a breath, steadying himself. “I was not so sure I could express myself plainly. I’m still not completely sure.”

It was a wonder he couldn’t hear her heart pounding and her knees knocking together. Dover exhaled somewhat shakily, finding that she and Han had slowly moved closer until they were almost nose-to-nose. She rested her hands on his broad shoulders, enjoying the fresh scent of his soap from a recent shower.

“You’re not doing too bad,” she answered with a smile. “I’m still mad at you.”

Hanael nodded. “And I still cannot tell you everything.”

Dover cocked her head to the right curiously, her brow furrowed slightly. “So, where does that leave us?”

The angel shrugged lightly, his hands finding a sudden purchase on her cotton-covered hips. His eyes widened, as though he surprised himself with the motion. Dover remained still, not wanting to startle him when he appeared comfortable.

The smile he gifted her with, after a moment, melted her heart further.

“Perhaps another cup of tea and quiet conversation?”

Dover bit her lip, stepping a little closer to enjoy the sensation of him pressed against her. This might be the answer to every desire she might have voiced, but it could also be the beginning of the end.

Having always been a daredevil at heart, Dover went with her gut. She nodded once, not moving from her space between Hanael’s legs.

“OK. I’ll make some more tea.”

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