Inias gazed round the room in wide eyed confusion. He didn’t understand what had gotten into you, but you were a whirl of activity at present, climbing to the ceiling and doing odd things – he began to wonder if you were possessed. He could think of no other logical reason for your odd behaviour. It was early December, and you’d brought a small, living tree into your shared apartment, covered it in lights and shiny things, and were now hanging all kinds of pieces of flimsy, glistening plastic foil from the ceiling and walls.
His brows drew together in a frown and he scratched his chin, wondering how to raise his concerns with you. He’d hardly had a chance to think before you’d bypassed him and made your way into the kitchen, raiding the larder for a variety of packets and jars, tins and boxes, carrying them all to the kitchen and dumping them on the counter with a clatter. He eyed you warily, pondering your latest escapade. You grinned and started singing, loudly and off key, as many festive songs as you could remember. His confusion grew.
As you weighed and measured, melted and mixed, he crept closer, caution in his every move – if you HAD been possessed, he’d need to be alert to any sudden moves you made to snag him while he was close to you. He carefully tapped your shoulder with the tip of one finger, concern and bewilderment shadowing his eyes. You looked at him, startled at the unexpected interference. He gestured to you, and asked what you were doing. With a beaming grin, and a gentle hand to his cheek, you assured him that you were only doing what you did every year – making festive goodies ready for the Yuletide. He still looked puzzled.
Inias’s confusion fed your own – he was an Angel of the Lord, one of the Warriors and Messengers of God – how could he NOT know of how Humans celebrated Christmas? It was, after all, the date Earthlings use to mark the birth of the Son of God, Saviour of the Human race. How could he not know what you were doing. Alright, he’d confided in you, back when he first answered the advert for a room-mate, that he’d been a Heavenly clerk, in the offices of the Administrators of Heaven – not one of the ones that came to Earth on missions and interacted with the Mortals his Father had created, but still, he couldn’t be THAT out of it. Could he?
While the spicy, buttery, syrupy mixture cooled enough for you to blend in the egg and flour, you sat with him and talked over the Nativity – as Mankind celebrate it – and he seemed to begin to relax with some of the things you had done, you had, after all, not been possessed by anything more harmful than the Christmas Spirit (and maybe a little too much eggnog). He still needed help understanding the reason for bringing a tree indoors, and for hanging lights and things on both it and the inside of the house, but he was getting there. You grinned at him and went back to your baking – the gingerbread was starting to smell good and you’d wanted to make some seasonal shortbread too.
As you busied yourself with trays of cookies and mincepies, cutters and flour scattered over the kitchen island in your rush to bake everything at once, Inias sat and watched you, a small smile lighting up his usually blank face when you wiped your forehead with your hand and left a streak of flour across it. A rosy glow lit your cheeks from your efforts, and you puffed as you arched your back – you’d been leaning over for too long rolling dough and now you were stiff and sore. Just as the last tray of pies went into the oven, the doorbell rang out, signalling that you’d an unexpected visitor. You sighed and went to answer.
Cracking the door open – chain firmly in place, thank you very much – you saw someone you’d never seen before standing there, but at the same time, you couldn’t shake the feeling that you knew them. They asked for Inias, and you called the youthful male to the door, his eyes widening when he saw who was there, evidently, this visitor was a surprise to him too.
”Brother! What are you doing here? I had heard that you were no longer around. Are you well?” your mouth dropped open at his words, and you released the chain on the door, allowing it to swing open to admit the other male from the stoop. He nodded politely to you, and you ran to the kitchen at the faint smell of burning starting to permeate the air. The two males followed at a more sedate pace, finding you fanning slightly dark mincepies and your own sweat-streaked face.
The visitor, who Inias introduced as Samandriel, was new in town, only just having located a vessel after the fall – many of the Host had either not survived the fall, or had not found a vessel – he needed a place to stay, and had hoped his brother might have room for him for a few days. Inias looked to you, you looked between them, bit your lip, and, thinking of the poky attic room with its camping gear and dusty bookshelves, admitted that, if they could clean it up, there was a small room he could use for a while. The two thanked you, and, with you showing them the way, set to work on cleaning it.
Time took on a strange quality for you with both Angels in residence. You still worked full time at the Dentist’s, still did all your normal activities, but, in the evenings, once it was dark, you found that you didn’t want to go to bed and leave the two Angels alone – the more you got to know them, the more you wanted to know them, and it wasn’t like EVERYONE had a couple of Angelic houseguests. As the days grew progressively shorter, and the nights longer, you made a discovery.
Quite by accident one night, having forgotten to set the alarm on the entrances, you’d gone back downstairs to do it when you saw a glow – soft, gentle, like the moon on a calm lake, or the silvery light of reflected moonbeams on fresh snow – lighting up your lounge, filling the whole room with the most beautiful illumination you’d ever seen. You peered around the doorframe to see what was making the frankly magical light.
Your mouth dropped open when you saw what it was – for there were the two Angels, sitting in the darkness of the unlit room, glowing in a way that transcended anything you’d ever heard of before. The silver white light was both soft and bright at once, a beauty so unearthly and pristine, it was breath-taking in its gentle grandeur. It brightened and enriched everything it touched, making it more beautiful, more exquisite, and more stunning than the greatest treasure known to man. It somehow purified it. You must have made a noise, because suddenly, the two turned to you, and the glow faded, like mist in the bright summer sun.
You struggled to find your voice, struck dumb by what you’d seen, what you’d experienced. ”What…what was that? It was beautiful, magical. It….it made me feel humble, just witnessing it. It…was….did I…. Did I just see the glow of your …..Grace?” Samandriel and Inias looked to one another, then to you, before, with a seemingly silent conversation, they started, softly, to glow again, just enough of a glimmer to confirm that it had been them shining so brilliantly. You felt humbled by their confidence, and silently vowed to tell no-one of what you’d seen.
A newfound peace settled over you in the days that followed – the knowledge that your lodgers watched over you while you slept giving you a measure of comfort and security that you’d never had, nor ever known you’d missed. A smile touched your face when you thought of the look on the Angels faces when you caught them glowing for the first time – a mix of mild panic, consternation, and something that looked almost like hope. You ran a hand over your hair as you considered everything that had happened since the night of the ‘Worldwide Meteor Shower’ as the media would have it. You knew better, you knew it was the night the Host was cast out of Heaven, because one spiteful, selfish, ignoramus felt slighted by his siblings and tricked one into helping him cast a spell to throw them all out of their home. You just hoped that others were as kind, as helpful, as the two you’d met.
It was mid-December when Samandriel approached you after work one evening, you’d just eaten (the two Angels didn’t – regardless of having human vessels) and were clearing up your dishes when he appeared awkwardly in the kitchen doorway, a faint colour on his pale face and a question in his eyes. You beckoned him over, a concerned frown on your features when he seemed more uncomfortable than earlier. You knew something was wrong, you just didn’t know what it was. You sat at the kitchen table with him, each of you having a coffee – whether he needed one or not – and you asked him what was up.
As you sat in your kitchen, occasionally sipping your coffee, wondering what the Hell was up with your Heavenly lodger, Samandriel sitting opposite you, fiddling with his mug and not meeting your eyes. He muttered under his breath, indecipherable to your human ears. Smiling gently at him, you put your hand on his, offering encouragement. He smiled timidly and took a deep, un-needed, breath.
”It’s the Host. My….our brothers and sisters. We’ve heard from some in the local area that have found vessels, but their homeless, the vessels living on the streets. I….we, were wondering if, with Angels not needing to sleep or eat, you’d mind if they came here to make a base for themselves. Obviously, we don’t expect you to agree without meeting them, or getting something from the arrangement, but….please, the need for shelter and company of other host while they acclimatise to their Human form is imperative.”
You sigh, rotating your head on your shoulders, a tension headache starting to form at the idea of a passel of strangers gathering in your home. You were uncomfortable with the thought – you had social anxiety issues anyway, and didn’t get on with crowds or too many strangers – now you were being asked to deal with both, in your own home. Still, at least you HAD a home, you’d been raised to help the needy where you could. You flinched from your mental poke at yourself for being unconcerned about the homeless until now.
Deciding that, as the next day was Saturday and you didn’t work, you’d arrange to meet them all at a coffee shop or café – somewhere NOT your home – to see what these ‘siblings’ were like, and if you felt you could get on with them, you told him that you were going to bed, and would take him and Inias to meet them the next morning in town. Leaving him to pass on the message, you went to bed, unable to sleep with your churning thoughts and stomach.
When you were at the coffee shop, your favourite Costa, you were ‘a-Costa-d’ by half a dozen people that Inias and Samandriel ‘recognised’ as siblings. Deciding to be sociable about this event, you bought them ALL coffee, for the nine of you, and took over one corner of the café, sitting with the two you knew while the others mingled with one another, talking in a strange, broken language that sounded like gibberish to your mortal ears.
Samandriel called softly for them to approach you one by one, to meet and speak, so you could get to know them a little. The first to approach was a young female with long reddish hair and pale skin, Anna by name. She came and looked into your eyes, laid a hand on yours, and spoke quietly of her life as a human after she’d torn her Grace out, before being forced to take it back. You didn’t know how you felt about her, but nodded politely and looked to the next.
An older male stepped forward, took your hand and placed a courtly kiss on its back, before introducing himself as Balthazar. His blonde-ish hair thinning slightly and a few crow’s feet lines appearing around his eyes, he was handsome in a rugged way, his blue eyes gleaming with mischief as he gazed at your features. His was a tale of pseudo-death and theft, outrageous sexual deviancy and questionable morals – with a heavy accent on alcohol. His charismatic personality allowed you to overlook some of his less desirable personality traits and see the fun loving rule breaker he was inside. You grinned at some of his exaggerated tales of debauched libertinism.
The third to approach you was a young-looking woman with long blonde hair and a sleek physique, whose eyes spoke of betrayal and loss. Her story was one of loyalty to a superior that then was revealed to be working both sides of the line, and the bitter let-down she experienced at his hands. Patting Rachael’s hand, you smiled softly and gave her a chocolate cookie, a token to try and make her feel better.
Inias was approached by a dark skinned man, older looking than most of the Angels you were meeting, who spoke sharply to him, as if to an inferior. Short black hair covering his head, he was slender and had a chiselled expression, one that made it look like he had a mouth full of hornets buzzing round. His sour expression and snappy tone of voice made you wonder who this one was. Turning to you, his eyes drifted over you as if you were something he’d stepped on and had stuck to his shoe. This, you were told, was the Archangel Raphael – third most senior of all the Angels in the Host.
He sneered at you that he’d need to take over your residence for his campaign headquarters. You rebelled against his dictatorial attitude, every fibre of your being crying out for you to flee the assbutt’s presence. He was shoved back into place by another, younger looking male with black hair, a friendly face, and gentle eyes. This one spoke in that same, harsh, bitten off language that made no sense to you, the older looking man stepping back in shock as he evidently recognised a superior of his own.
The new-comer turned to you, apologising for his brother, and offering a hand to shake. Taking it, you saw that the rest of the Host had fallen silent as this man spoke with you. This was Michael, first created Archangel and Prince of Heaven. He asked, quietly, for the blessing of your permission to base themselves at your dwelling, just while they acclimatised to being on Earth for an indefinite period and acquired the normal human customs they’d need to help them stay under the radar. You asked for a few more moments as you still had one more to meet. He agreed.
The final person to come over was a shorter, older male with honey gold eyes and hair, a wicked grin gracing his perpetually smirking features, a gleam of ancient knowledge and power in his laughing eyes. A candy bar dangling, part eaten from his fingers as he dipped his head in a small nod of greeting.
Introducing himself as Gabriel, the messenger of God that delivered the ‘Good news of great joy’ to Mary and the Shepherds all those millennia ago, he told of hiding out after he fled Heaven in the aftermath of his brothers fight and ultimately becoming a Pagan Trickster God – Loki – for centuries as he sought to remain hidden from his family. His oldest brother eyed him sadly when this came out – he’d believed the younger Archangel dead.
Looking them over, and taking into account each Angel / Archangel’s story and attitude, you agreed to housing them, provided Raphael was muzzled about his attitude, and they could all get on harmoniously – the first disagreement, over anything, would show them all the door – Christmas or no Christmas. This puzzled the Host, not seeing the relevance of a time of year, or the indecisiveness of your statement. Sighing, you left the coffee shop and lead the way to your home.
With the increased number of ‘guests’ in your home, you had little spare room, save your own room, where you could be alone when you needed. Really, while you knew you were doing the right thing in bringing the Host ‘in from the cold’ so to speak, you did miss the old days, when you’d just Inias and Samandriel to contend with. Things were taking some adjusting to, as your visitors had no compunction about using their powers to whatever effect they so decided, at whatever point in time they chose.
Like when you went to get the milk from the fridge, and found it, instead, full of wine and caviar – Balthazar declaring that supplying your needs was the least he could do in return for your kindness to them all. Your telling him to just keep you stocked with perishables like milk, bread and vegetables a tactical mistake as you later discovered.
Getting home from work that night, you could hardly open your front door, something behind it was blocking it from opening. Forcing your way in, you growled in vexation at the sight of floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall containers of fruits, vegetables, breads, milk, eggs, cheeses, meat and fish – in short, every kind of perishable food you’d ever seen or heard of – in such quantities that you knew you’d never use even one sixteenth of it before it went off. You scowled to yourself and went to find the block-headed Angel you knew to be responsible for the situation.
A ringing at your doorbell brought you out of your mental musings, and you climbed to your feet with a weary sigh – you’d had no idea that ‘Angels’ would be so tiring, never mind the overlong day you’d put in at the Dental Surgery – the emergency double root canal had been a bitch and so had the child that had come with the woman having it done. Opening the door without thinking, for once, about the safety chain, you were greeted with a long, shiny blade held up to you, pointing at your chest. Your breathing almost stopped in your lungs as the dark haired, blue eyed stranger demanded to know what you were doing to his siblings to make them gather round you in such numbers.
Michael appeared at your shoulder and spoke in that weird, harsh language, making the stranger pale and step back, his hand bearing the blade dropping to his side as the Archangel spoke. Drawing the male at your door inside, with your permission, he introduced Castiel, an Angel that had already fallen once, and the one that had been tricked into assisting with the spell to make all the Angels fall – his own Grace being the final part of the spell.
You offered him your hand, and he looked from it to you as though unfamiliar with the custom of shaking hands, you smiled gently, taking his hand in yours to complete the greeting and welcome him in, leading the way to the living room – now Angelically enlarged – where his siblings were gathered. He entered cautiously, unaware of your ban on discord among the Host. Raphael shot to his feet on sight of the dark haired Angel, and you coughed loudly to remind him of the conditions under which they all stayed, he re-seated himself, scowling.
Castiel flinched from the darkened looks he was receiving from his siblings. You saw this, and took his arm, leading him to a smaller sofa, just for two, that you sat on with him, the rest of the Host there present getting the message that ALL of them, Cas too, were safe and welcome in your home. They stifled their disagreements, and returned to what they had been doing.
Michael and Gabriel wandered over to where you two sat, quietly talking over the fall of the Angels, the situation they were in now, and what they could do to aid those still struggling. Cas was in hiding from most of the Host, being blamed for them falling, an awful lot were out for his blood. That’s when your tender-heart stepped forward and landed you in hot water. You volunteered your bedroom as a safe house for him to seek refuge in when needed – his brothers, aware of humans need for privacy and your own social anxiety, raised eyebrows to their vessels hairlines at the offer, clearly wondering if your morals were on the straight and narrow where their errant brother was concerned. Flushing scarlet, you bite your lip and looked, fascinated, at your feet.
Babbling out an explanation about why you’d offered him shelter in such a personal way, you gradually got more and more flustered as the rest of the gathering turned to you with interest, and you clammed up, shutting your mouth with a snap and staring resolutely out of the window at the twinkling lights of the satellites and stars shining in the dark night sky. A hand settled on your shoulder as your very first lodger, Inias, came in response to your obvious distress.
Keeping up to date on your work, the bills, and looking after the Angels was becoming a bit of a strain for you – your nights rest got shorter as your day’s work got longer and more Angels arrived in hope of shelter. It seemed that you’d be stuck in the ever decreasing circle of time-consuming chores infinitely. That all changed one day when you had two pieces of news come through the same time.
The first piece seemed to be a problem of overwhelming concern – the holding company for the building you worked in had gone bust, leaving everyone working on the premises out of work. The second was that you won a large cash prize in a lottery you’d bought tickets for from your spare change some weeks before. It was enough to buy a small hotel that was on the market nearby, and give each Angel a room of their own. Hotel Del Angeles was born.