by Chris J. Ueberall
Disclaimer: I don't own 'The Magnificent Seven' characters, Mirisch and Trilogy do. But I love the guys, while the companies do not. My claim is better ;-)
Summary: Would you recognize an angel if you saw one?
Notes: This was written as a reaction to Steelknight's "Angel pictures" challenge (2. Dec. 02). Thanks to Steel for sending me the pictures. And a big THANX as always to my beta-readers A.J. and AJ ;-)
"Now that really shouldn't be here," Nathan said disgusted and drew the gazes of his five friends to the stand of well-wishing cards and postcards.
"What do you mean?" Buck asked, turning away from the window of the little gift shop.
"These." Nathan pointed at two subjects among at least a dozen different cards with angel pictures on them.
Eyebrows raised the rest of the team took a closer look. The mentioned two cards were definitely standing out, for while they had a touch of kitsch like most of the others, they were without a question meant to be erotic in the first place.
One showed a well-built, naked, dark-haired man, his eyes closed, wearing nothing but golden wings on his shoulders reaching across his chest, his hands were folded over his crotch, effectively hiding his genitals.
The other well-built 'angel' wore a kind of cloth like very short pants and the wings strapped to his shoulders were of feathers, looking more like a big feather fan actually, but the general idea was brought across.
"What's your problem with them?" J.D. wanted to know, not sure what he thought of those pictures.
"They are ... blatant ... wrong. Angels are ... not like that." Nathan was obviously at a loss for words.
"Come on, Nate." Buck shook his head and pointed at the other cards. "Don't tell me you think angels are like that. I mean these gold-locked kiddies with wings are plainly hilarious."
"Of course not." Now it was Nathan who shook his head. "Angels aren't like that either, they ..."
"Actually that is no angel you're pointing at, Buck," Josiah interrupted, "that is Eros. The god of love. Not that I think a Greek god would look like a baby with wings and a bow, either, but I thought I'd mention the fact."
J.D. snickered, while Buck rolled his eyes.
Nathan turned to the profiler with a heated look. "So, don't you think that such pictures are distortions of angels? I mean, angels are holy creatures, they should be treated with respect, shouldn't they? Not used as ... sex objects!"
"Hmm." Josiah looked pensive. "I don't know, brother. After all, God is supposed to be love. So His messengers should be love, too, shouldn't they? And love often has a physical side to it ..."
"Speaking of physical," Buck piped in, grinning, but his eyes were earnest, "if there were such things as angels, they would be female."
"How do you figure that?" Vin wanted to know.
"Easy." The ladies' man smiled. "It's said that mankind was modeled after God, isn't it? And angels are the first creatures He did. Now, what else should women have been modeled after if not angels? They are beautiful; they are good and caring. That is the definition of angels. Right?"
"I'm sure there is a hole somewhere in your logic, Buck," Vin said, thinking about it.
"For one thing not every religion believes in a male god ..." Josiah started, but Buck took easily over.
"With a goddess my theory works even better, you know."
"I always thought that angels were sexless, or both female and male?" J.D. looked at Josiah. "Can't there be more than one kind of angel?"
"Actually there are different kinds of angels mentioned in the bible. And if you take other religions into account then there are probably a hundred sorts of angels out there. The bible mentions the archangels and they are male. We should never forget that Lucifer himself was once an archangel. Then there are the cherubs and ..."
"What about guardian angels?" Buck wasn't interested in a long essay about angels. "Surely they would be female? Mothers are guarding their children all the time, so if a mother dies, she surely becomes a guardian angel, wouldn't you say ..."
Chris tuned out the rest of the discussion as his thoughts wandered to his own private guardian angel, who lay three floors above them in a hospital bed with two bullet-holes in his back.
The leader of Team 7 was still not sure how it had happened. Ezra was supposed to have been on the other side of the warehouse, not even close enough to have eye-contact and certainly nowhere near enough to get between the weapons-dealer's sniper and Chris and Vin. But there he had been. Suddenly appearing out of the blue, pushing Vin aside and catching the bullets meant for Chris.
For a moment he was back in the warehouse, holding Ezra, barely listening to the shots and shouts coming from Buck and J.D. informing him that the threat was neutralized. His vision had narrowed down to the precious man in his arms. He felt the blood pouring down the undercover agent's back, as he pressed him closer, trying to stop the flow.
Vin was beside him, also holding on to Ezra. Asking him to hold on to them. To not leave them. The fear and pain in Vin's voice was echoing through Chris's being. They couldn't lose him. They needed Ezra. They loved him!
Green eyes flickered open. A painfilled gaze scrutinized them, looked them over. Then a relieved smile lightened up the pale face.
"Ezra," Chris barely whispered the name. "Hang on, please. Don't leave us."
The smile reached the eyes and washed over Chris like a wave of pure love.
"I'll never leave you," Ezra whispered, somehow finding the strength to lift his arms and lay his hands against his lovers' chests, over each heart. "I'm always there."
Then Ezra's strength had left him and he had lost consciousness. Chris remembered vaguely that he had cried out in denial, believing that Ezra had died, and that he had actually fought the medics for a moment before Josiah had bodily dragged him away.
The team leader swallowed, and pushed the memories away. It didn't happen. Ezra didn't die. In fact he would be as good as new and able to do his job as always. The doctors said it was a miracle, and Chris was more than ready to agree with that. A miracle. Again.
It seemed there were a lot of miracles going on around Team 7. Beginning with the unlikely situation of the seven finding each other in the first place to become such close friends, and even more - a family. And for him, of course, falling in love again and being loved in return. Not only by one, but by two men.
He looked up and met Vin's gaze, blue warmed by love and understanding. A miracle indeed. His thoughts returned to his green-eyed lover. If such things as guardian angels existed, then Ezra's was certainly doing a hell of a job by getting him through one wound after another. Chris just wished that angel would be a little bit faster and keep Ezra out of harms way in the first place. But obviously that was not to be. So maybe there was no guardian angel, just Ezra being his loveable, stubborn self. For Chris that was good enough.
Vin smiled as he met his lover's blue-green eyes, then his expression became somber as he realized that Chris was thinking about Ezra. Ezra! Lying up there in his sick-bed, stoked up to the hilt with medication. The sharpshooter closed his eyes in silent pain as the memory hit him.
He was still puzzled how Ezra had managed to be there when the bullets struck. The last time he had seen the undercover agent he had been on the other side of the warehouse. But all of a sudden Ezra had appeared in front of them, shouldering Chris aside and covering Vin with his body, throwing them to the ground.
He remembered Ezra's lively green eyes looking down at him, felt his compact body atop his own, then his head had hit the concrete floor and everything went black for a moment. Vin could have sworn that he was only out for a second, still when he could see again, he found Ezra cradled in Chris's arms.
He had been at their side immediately, one hand on the blond's shoulder, the other gently stroking the pale face of the undercover agent. He had begged Ezra not to leave them, his pleas echoed by Chris. And then Ezra had opened his eyes, green orbs looking at them, bathing them in everlasting love, as the wounded man promised that he would always be there.
Vin shook his head about his mushiness, but he couldn't suppress the thought that his heart had been frozen in fear until Ezra's hand had touched his chest, melting the ice. And then the whole world had stopped again as Ezra had gone limp in Chris's arms. If Buck hadn't grabbed him, yelling at him that the medics had arrived ... he would probably still be sitting there.
He breathed deeply, forcing himself to relax. Ezra was okay, no permanent damage done.
The man was one of the luckiest men he had ever met, one of the doctors had said. Vin couldn't quite agree with that. It seemed to him that it was always Ezra who would catch a bullet, or a knife or anything else. More often than not for one of his teammates.
No, Ezra was not the lucky guy in their group, though he might actually be their lucky charm. As he thought about it, Vin came to the surprising conclusion that he could count the times on one hand when anybody else of the team had been seriously wounded. And even then Ezra seemed to have gotten his share of injuries, too.
It seemed as if one guardian angel wasn't really doing his job. Or maybe six other guardian angels thought that using the undercover agent as a shield for their charges was a legitimate way to do their job? Now that was a picture that Vin didn't quite find amusing. Even though he didn't believe in angels in the first place, he certainly couldn't believe that all of them were pure, friendly, honest beings. He could well imagine some of them being quite nasty, after all - as Josiah had reminded them - the devil himself had once been an angel.
No, the existence or non-existence of angels wasn't really soothing to Vin at all. When it came to fighting his fears all he could rely on were his teammates, their friendship and love. He looked at Chris and then at the ceiling. He believed in love and maybe in their personal guardian angel. Yeah. He grinned. Ezra was the kind of angel he could live with and trust in.
The mentioning of the undercover agent brought Vin back to the present discussion.
"Ezra's opinion will probably fill a book," Nathan said, sounding stressed, it seemed the medic wished that he had never brought up the topic.
"Or not." Buck shook his head. "He probably doesn't believe in angels. So the answer'd be short."
"I wouldn't bet on that," Vin and Chris said simultaneously, grinning at each other.
"Speaking of our wayward brother," Josiah began, turning away from the well-wishing cards, "our interesting discussion has made time fly, so visiting hours have now started. We don't need to linger here any longer."
"Good point." Chris nodded approvingly. Looking at the angel cards and sharing a look with Vin, he waved the others towards the elevators. "You go right up. Vin and I will follow you in a minute."
Four faces looked at him, the expressions varying from astonished to knowingly-amused. Finally, almost as one, Josiah and Nathan nodded and turned away, closely followed by Buck and J.D.. Side by side the four then strode to the elevators, while the remaining two each grabbed one angel card and went into the shop.
With a content sigh Ezra leaned back, warmed to his very core by the love and caring still surrounding him even though his teammates had left. The doctors were amazed by his healing powers, but how could he not get well fast, with so much love bestowed on him? Knowing that people cared for him and that they were all unharmed due to his action made the damage to his own body seem insignificant, and the pain easily bearable. Though he had to admit that the analgesics were helping that last point along considerably.
Smiling Ezra took the two cards that his lovers had given him and studied them again.
My green-eyed Angel
While Chris's held a kind of order:
You were hired as an undercover agent and not a guardian angel. So stop catching bullets and get better fast. We need you.
Ezra's smile widened. He could easily picture his lovers before his inner eye, as they were writing this, both struggling to find the right words to capture their feelings.
Vin - still insecure with his writing - afraid to sound too mushy or too much like a cliché. And Chris desperately searching for something that would sound inconspicuous to others, but spoke of love to Ezra.
For while it was more or less an open secret that Vin and Ezra were lovers, only a few well-chosen friends knew that they were actually part of a threesome, with Chris being the one to perfect the triangle.
Ezra read the words again and decided that both had gotten their point across very nicely. They loved him and they hated it when he got hurt. He could sympathize with their plight, but he knew - and expected they knew, too - that he would risk his life again in a heartbeat to protect them. It was just the way he was.
He turned the cards and looked at the pictures. Pictures of two more or less naked male angels. The same theme and yet the images were far from alike, like the men who had chosen them.
Chris's angel - with his head bowed slightly and his eyes closed - seemed harmless, almost innocent at first sight, but if you looked closer he seemed more content than anything else; strong, knowing his own strength and worth. The golden inflexible wings screamed 'Larabee' to Ezra. Strong and unyielding, yet made of gold, one of the noblest metals known to mankind.
He could just picture Chris on this card, though - of course - Chris would not look harmless, but threatening and his eyes would not be closed, but flashing turquoise lightning.
Ezra chuckled, he'd be prepared to pay a lot to get his blond lover into such an outfit, but knew that Chris would never go along with it.
Vin on the other hand might be persuaded, he decided, taking another look at the sharpshooter's angel. That angel didn't look content or calm by any means. More as if he was ready to take flight any second now. Probably afraid that people would look at his fluffy wings and think of him as weak and stupid.
Ezra sighed. Vin would look like that, prepared to withdraw, if he thought that someone was laughing about him. His sapphire eyes would turn as cold as ice, his expression become feral and his demeanor distant. The gentle, fun loving poet would change into the dangerous ex-bountyhunter.
Ezra shook his head. Maybe he shouldn't try to get Vin to wear wings, at least not some looking like a windblown fan. If at all, they should have more style and look like real wings. Nodding to himself Ezra pushed the idea aside. Wings were out.
But that didn't mean he couldn't bring some big and soft feathers with him to bed. There were a lot of things he could do with a feather, a lot of fun things that he was sure his lovers would enjoy. He grinned, his mind already beginning to plot his first night out of the hospital. He was sure he could arrange to have some feathers by then.
Smiling Ezra put the cards on his table, leaning them against his glass of orange juice so that he could see them.
A yawn caught him unawares, the sedatives were finally pulling him under. The words from the cards began to chase each other around in his tired mind. 'My green-eyed ... undercover agent ... guard my body ... watch your back ... guardian angel ...'
His vision blurred and the men in the pictures became shapeless, colorful spots with wings.
He closed his eyes.
'Wings of love, yes, that makes sense.' Ezra laughed quietly as he imagined his wings being called 'Chris and Vin'. 'Which would be the left one?' he wondered.
As he drifted deeper into the healing embrace of sleep, a last coherent thought appeared, making him smile. 'Angels soar on the wings of love.'
© 8 December 2002