An Angel Among Us

Title: An Angel Among Us
Who: Colin, Gloria and Tiago
When: February 9th, 2011, a few hours after Magica
Where: Rooftop of Mercy Hospital
What: As arranged, Colin and Tiago meet up with Gloria, who is now less of a paramedic and more of an angel with a flaming sword.

In the few hours that have passed since the two heroes encountered the mysteriously magical paramedic called Gloria Gaines, Tiago has been relatively quiet. By his chatterbox standards, he's been practically silent, taking some much needed time to readjust his shaken senses to the regular world again and, more importantly, to calm down. Brushes with the supernatural have been rare for him since being 'blessed' with his powers and he hasn't learned how to deal with them emotionally yet. It reminds him a little too much of his own supernatural nature and his somewhat tenuous connection to the physical world, and that isn't something he deals with well. The downside is that he's been with his better half throughout this little episode and, now that he's thinking straight once more, he's more than a little concerned that he may have freaked Colin all the way out.

Still, they arranged to meet Gloria on the roof of Mercy Hospital when her shift finished and Tiago feels he can't back out now, even if his more rational mind is telling him it's more urgent to get Colin somewhere private so he can be sure all is well between them. He was out of line by pouncing on Gloria the way he did though, he won't allow himself to make it worse by not showing up. So, as he and Colin step out of the elevator onto the roof, still dressed in their regular clothes, he casts an apologetic glance in Colin's direction, not quite meeting the other man's gaze. "I am glad you have come with me," he offers quietly.

After an attempt or two to get Tiago to talk, Colin quieted down. He's…sure this should be one of those 'let them talk when they're ready' things, which he understands a little. He's been building relationships slowly, not used to having people in his life all the time, like he does now. So, the scientist part of him cautions patience. Give it time. Also, what Tiago has said about the young woman intrigues him. Which is also the scientist talking. But the…non-scientist is worried for Tiago, of course.

He did ponder getting his gear, since they were in the Park, close to home. But, there was the consideration of not intimidating Gloria. And wings and a crossbow mounted on one arm might not give the correct impression. "You don't have to go it alone, Tiago," he finally says. "Ever."

Correct impressions are important. And Gloria put a great deal of thought into this particular impression. Because she doesn't step out onto the roof in her paramedic uniform. That would not make quite the point she intends. The impression she wants to make is… well, she doesn't know who these people are, or what they want, and frankly, if they don't have the best interests of those around them in mind, she doesn't much care what they think of her.

So it's not Gloria Gaines, EMT who appears, stepping out onto the roof from the stairwell that leads out from the top floor of the hospital. It's Gloria (or, as she's come to think of herself, Gloria Excelsis), rising slowly from beyond the edge of the roof, her wings beating the air, whipping it into a frenzy. It's her halo that's first visible, a brilliant ring of light, and then her face, entirely recognizable as the woman they met on the street. Her hair is long and unbound, flying in the breeze from her wings. One arm is extended toward the pair as it becomes visible, a flaming sword gripped by the hilt. She wears a toga, pristine white, the hem rising and falling around her knees with each beat of her wings.

It's what she clutches in her other hand, the left, that spoils the image a little: a tall Starbucks caramel frappucino.

Tiago feels his lips curve into a smile at Colin's words. Under normal circumstances, a smile is never far from his lips so it feels comforting and reassuring to be able to grin at his boyfriend. He reaches out to take hold of Colin's hand, his lips parting to speak but, before words can escape his throat, his gaze drifts to the side, eyes glazing over a little. "She's coming," he murmurs, his mind becoming cloudy with the sensation of a powerful source of magic moving closer to them.

He glances towards the stairwell briefly but frowns, his senses telling him that Gloria isn't approaching from that direction. As the presence grows stronger, he tilts his eyeline towards the edge of the roof, just in time to see a halo rising above the edge. His eyes widen as Gloria slowly moves into view, all wings and flaming sword and magic magic magic. The grip he has on Colin's hand only grows tighter as he stares at her.

"Are you an angel?" he asks softly, voice somewhere between awestruck and afraid. He knows that death takes a soul somewhere else, he can feel that much, but he doesn't think of that place as Heaven. Or as Hell. Maybe he should?

"Coffee," Colin says, trying to sound flippant aat the sight and utterly failing at it, because just… His eyes go a bit wide. "See, I suggested bringing coffee, but Tiago here said not to…" The clash between the rational scientist in him and the fact that there's an angel avec flaming sword /right in front of him/ are really turning his brain into blender-bait. He gives Tiago's hand an affectionnate squeeze. "I'm Colin. I think I've said that before. Ignore me."

Gloria lifts the frappucino to her lips and takes a long pull from its straw. She swallows slowly — because the sensation of that stuff melting on her tongue… it's the best part of her day. Then she nods slowly. "I am Gloria Excelsis," she says firmly, adding the latter word aloud for the first time in her existence. "If you mean ill for this city, I suggest you leave now." Because, you know, flaming sword didn't say that clearly enough.

Tiago stares, agog. It takes a conscious act of will for him to register what Colin is saying, and the same again when Gloria speaks. If this being is what she seems to be then, potentially, her existence changes everything, his entire view on his world and his situation. Death calls to him, every second of every day. If this woman /is/ an angel then that means she's from Heaven and that means there's a Hell and that means there's a God and… so what is it that's calling to him really? Heaven? Hell? God Itself? His nature was complicated enough when he was just torn between life and death. He feels like he's just been launched into a whole new metaphysical ballgame.

After a second or three, he blinks, Gloria's words sinking in. "…No. What? No. I am a hero." That sounds ridiculous so he quickly rallies to explain further. "A superhero, I mean. I helped to build this city. I do not mean it any illness. I am Spook. I am in the papers. Sometimes." He squeezes Colin's hand, inching closer to him and hoping he'll find something more intelligent to say than Tiago himself managed. He's a clever scientist so he's bound to.

The command actually catches Colin by surprise, and he almost takes a step back. "Ill?" His expression is unguarded and confused. "I…can assure you we don't. I go by Thorn," he adds, as Tiago speaks of his own heroic identity. "We have friends, and we are working together to make this city a better place. We live here. My home…is here." With them all. "I'm a doctor, even if not a medical doctor. Still, first, do no harm…"

The sword slowly, slowly lowers, and then the woman nods again, and finally her feet touch down on the edge of the roof. The sword is sheathed. "I'm sorry. I… have not been approached before as you approached me this afternoon. It seemed… risky." Slowly she puffs out a breath and relaxes a little. Slurps a little more of her frappucino. "I've met other heroes, but not many," she says. "Some are very strange. Not very heroic."

A slow but deep breath escapes from Tiago's lips once Gloria alights on the roof. They aren't going to have to fight the terrifying magical angel with the flaming sword. Phew. "I have to say sorry to you," he offers, his shoulders bunching guiltily. "I should not have approached you the way that I did, it was very unfair of me. I just have never… I do not sense magic often. At all, really. And you are so… so… impossible for me to ignore. I could not help myself," he admits. "I did not mean to make you uncomfortable. Either of you," he adds, glancing to Colin. He's aware that he hasn't given his boyfriend the most fun and relaxing evening of his life.

"He's usually outgoing," Colin says, attempting to back Tiago up. "And he's being genuine. It would kill him if he upset anyone who didn't deserve it. I'll…I'm taking his word for all this, because I'm about as magical as a slab of pavement." If Tiago is sorry, Colin thinks, then he really means it. He gives the slightly taller guy a supportive look.

Gloria allows her mouth first to quirk, then bend into a broad smile — she is not usually a harsh person. In fact, it's more or less completely contrary to her nature. "I forgive you," she says amiably enough, displaying perfect white teeth. "You scared me, but there is no harm done." She flaps her wings a couple of times, stirring up dust but not flapping hard enough to lift off.

Tiago is of the opinion that Colin certainly is magical, to him at least. It's just a different kind of magic to Gloria. He smiles at the other man, appreciating the support, and looks visibly relaxed at the… well, angelic forgiveness from Gloria. "One day I will learn to engage my brain before I do things," he mumbles, though a self-effacing amile remains. He hesitates, feeling particularly aware that he's standing on top of a hospital with a super-scientist and an angel. Life throws up some strange situations sometimes. And there are still questions careening around his head. "So… can I ask? You are… you are a real angel? From Heaven?"

From what he's seen since he set up shop in San Angeles…Colin is close to being able to believe anything. He isn't going to say a single word, here. Actually, about…religion, he and Tiago actually had conversations about this. Seeing the man react this way, Colin is wondering why, now.

Gloria hesitates a moment or two before she answers, "I believe so. I have the halo, the wings. I heal people. I wield a flaming sword. I would certainly seem to be an angel from Heaven." Slowly her shoulders shrug. "But I have not received any sort of orders from heaven, so I must assume I have simply been set down to do good works in this world and prepare people for the next."

Tiago maintains his tight hold of Colin's hand because it's that anchor which is stopping him from freaking out right now. The idea that it could be Heaven that's calling to him is awful because he knows that'll make it so much harder to resist giving in and allowing himself to pass over to the other side. And the idea that it might be Hell… well, obviously, that's terrifying. He's always handled these possibilities by dismissing them, dismissing religion altogether. If he can't do that then he has no idea how to reconcile these new ideas with his own coping mechanisms. He listens intently to Gloria's every word, nodding along as she speaks. "Prepare people for the next," he murmurs, repeating her last words. Silently, he wonders if she'd be able to help him in that way. Maybe she'd even be able to help him find ways to delay it. "I see. I see. So…" His trail drifts to his feet as he concentrates, trying to figure out exactly what he wants to ask. "So you do not think there is anything to be afraid of? On the other side?"

"Only if we have a reason to be afraid," Colin says, suddenly, almost surprised he even said so. He's a little calmer, and the look of being intrigued is all over his face. "So you became a paramedic…" He purses his lips. "When did you know? When you were a kid?"

"Judgment?" suggests Gloria, though there's a question in her tone. "I suppose that would be worth fearing. And I imagine it must come someday." Her wings flap uncertainly. "I was never a child, so far as I know," she replies to Colin. "Perhaps I have amnesia. Perhaps it was decided I should not know the truth, as no mortal is allowed to know. I must believe, as must any other. Belief is important."

Tiago looks between Colin and Gloria as they speak, then returns his gaze to his shoes, which is apparently what he looks at when he needs to think. He chews on the words of his companions, thoughts of death and afterlife and judgment and fear rattling around his brain. It's tiring, which is never a good thing for him, but he knows he won't be able to stop thinking about this subject for a while. He needs to figure out what it all means. Right now, though, he elects to just listen, leaving Colin to direct the conversation for now. He suspects that Colin will do a better job of that than he would himself at the moment. Still, he listens, interested in Gloria's answers and her unique life. He's been so focused on what she is that he hadn't stopped to consider that he should be equally focused on who she is.

This elicits a look of curiousity from the botanist/inventor. "You just…showed up one day?" Colin was coming to support Tiago, never having seen him like this before, but he wonders what…maybe someone is looking out for them. Or Fate. Which is an entire other spiritual mindset. "I've seen belief be a strong force for action," he adds. He doesn't specify good or evil, and just lets the implications sit there.

"I appeared in a church in Massachusetts, where I had to fight a demon. There were many people there, but all dead but one man who died after speaking my name." The angel purses her lips. "I did not know much," she says, "but I taught myself. I went to help in New Orleans after the hurricane, and then came here after the earthquake. I believe I am here to help people, and so that is what I do. It certainly compels me to act."

Does everybody die when they speak her name? No, that can't be right. Tiago is sure he's said it out loud and he's still alive and kicking. Though he's exhausted. He's really tired himself out today. Thinking always does that to him. That's why he doesn't do it too often! "That is a good thing. There can never be too many people helping others in this city. It is a dangerous place sometimes." Preaching to the converted there, probably. He glances towards Colin. As rude as it is, he really wants to go now. Meeting Gloria has been an overwhelming experience for him and he needs to get some rest before his levels of weariness become dangerous. It would be quite unfortunate if he lost his self-control and dropped down dead after all this. "It is very late. We should probably get home, Colin," he says softly. They regularly stay up later than this so he hopes Colin gets the hint in his words. "It has been… an honour to meet you, Gloria. Truly, it has, and again, I am sorry for the way we met. I hope we can meet again sometime soon. I would like to talk to you more."

Gloria nods her understanding, smiling again and slurping up the rest of her drink. "I need to get more coffee anyway," she says mildly. "IT was good to meet you both, gentlemen. Peace be with you." She raises one hand, the middle and index fingers extended in a peace sign. And then she flaps her wings hard, once, twice, and rises into the air again.

Tiago smiles as he watches Gloria fly away, before letting out a long and heavy sigh. Closing his eyes, he turns and wraps his arms around Colin, pulling him close and tight for several long seconds, before they finally make their way home.

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