Wait a minute... where's my guardian angel?
The question tumbled out of his mouth before he could really think it through, and for a moment, Nathan feared he may have asked the wrong question. But to his surprise, Micah sighed and leaned back in the chair.
"He is on probation," the angel said, apparently knowing why Nathan had asked. "He failed in his task as guardian, so the responsibility has been taken away from him. He will no longer sense when you are in danger, and will only be aware of your injuries should you come too close to his usual domain." Micah lifted his head and leveled his gaze with him. "At this time, you have no guardian angel."
Nathan shivered, swallowing back the knot in his throat. "So I'm on my own if one of the Sins tries to attack me again."
"Unless you are able to summon one of us. I had volunteered to take on the task myself, but because I already have a charge, I cannot. Not unless I forsake the one I am already protecting."
He wanted to be selfish. He wanted to ask who was in more danger: someone with normal troubles, or someone being targeted by several of the Deadly Sins. He wanted to ask, wanted to challenge his choice, because Nathan was afraid. He slid back down into the hospital bed and let his head fall back on the pillow. "Why am I even still involved?" he muttered, not really asking Micah. "I can't do anything. I'm only human. Fuck, the only power I seem to have is drawing the Sins' attention, and what good does that do for anyone? They just... notice me. It's not like I can help them. I can't even help any of you." He touched his shoulder. "All I am is a distraction, aren't I?"
"You are a pawn," Micah said. "Lumiel would be better at this, but I suspect that the Sins want to keep you around because you are useful to them. You are the subject of Lumiel's game, so anything you do, anything that happens to you will be of interest to him. Unless he ceases his game, then you will continue to be a player in theirs."
Nathan frowned and sat up again, the glimmer of hope for an easier way out both enticing and painful. "And if his game ends?"
They both turned towards the door when they heard the familiar voice. Gabriel stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame, his arms crossed as he stared back at them. He gave Micah a solemn nod, then shifted his glance towards Nathan, letting out a quiet sigh. "Lumiel's game is testing your resolve, your personal willpower. More specifically, it is testing your will to live. Failure, by whatever circumstances, means you have lost that, and without a will to live, you will die."
Micah growled from his seat. "You were not supposed to tell him that..."
"The game has changed, Michael," Gabriel shot back, his eyes flashing red. "It is no longer simply Nathan's test. It has become our fight, and we must now treat it as such. You, as a warrior, should know that to limit the one advantage we have is foolish."
"Advantage?" Nathan raised an eyebrow as he looked at him. "The fact that I have to be involved or I'll die is bad enough; how the fuck is having me around an advantage?"
Gabriel gave him a small, rueful smile. "You have the one thing that neither Sin nor angel has: free will. It's a gift, something only humans have. It's why you can even be tested. You have the ability to choose."
Nathan continued to stare, confused now even more than before. He slowly shook his head. "I don't understand..."
"Angels are bound by rules," Micah said, folding his hands in front of him. "Sins by their very nature. We have slightly more leeway because we are closer to humans, but the rules always win over our desires. It is one of the reasons Lumiel and I fight so often..."
"Because according to the rules, you are enemies," Gabriel finished. The other angel growled again, but nodded.
"Furthermore," he continued, "things can become complicated when we are bound by rules that contradict each other. It does not happen often, but when it does, the results can be devastating."
"Like what just happened." Nathan looked between the two of them as he realized what they meant. "Gabriel had to attend to a death at the same time I..." He stopped himself, his hands curling into his palms as he refused to remember his near fatal mistake. "He couldn't follow both rules at once, so he had to break one of them."
"It's the only way we can break a rule," Gabriel confirmed sadly. "The rules I'm bound to as Death come before those I was bound to as a guardian, so I had to obey them first. It was unavoidable."
"If you had had the choice, would you still have done the same?"
Nathan didn't know why he'd asked that. Either way he answered was a horrifying thought, but like before, the words left his lips before he was able to think them through. The empty stare Gabriel gave him in return was no better than what he had anticipated, and the angel sighed.
"Please don't ask me that," he said quietly. "I don't know how to answer."
He let it drop. Nathan knew he wasn't going to like any of the answers he could give him, so the non-answer would do. Besides, another guest had arrived and the subject had to be dropped.
"Hey Kink. How're you feeling?" Scott eased his way past Gabriel and into the room, only giving him and Micah a passing glance before he focused on Nathan. He looked like he was trying to smile, but his knotted brows had guilt written all over them, and he wouldn't let his eyes meet Nathan's. "You know, when I said not to get yourself killed, I didn't think..." He shook his head and looked away. "Jesus Christ..."
The angels both winced. Micah stood. "We should go check up on Alton," he said, looking at Gabriel. The other man nodded and stepped outside, waiting for him to follow before he closed the door behind him, leaving Scott and Nathan alone in the room.
The reporter stood there for a moment longer before he took a seat in the now empty chair. "Nathan," he said, still looking at the floor. "Chuck wants me to take over your story. He thinks that you're too personally involved to handle it objectively, and after this..." He swallowed hard. "If he doesn't make you take leave to recover, he is truly an ass."
Something doesn't feel right. Why won't he look at me? For that matter, who told him what happened? How did he even know I was in the hospital again? Something's wrong here...
Or I'm just over-thinking things again. It was only in jest, right? This is totally coincidence. There are plenty of logical ways he could have found out, after all. I was unconscious for a while. Maybe the local news reported it or something...
Should I give him the benefit of the doubt, or should I stay on my guard?