Title: Manna From Heaven
Characters: Nico ♂, Magdalenes (Yin, Rebecca) ♀
Rating: T (L2 N2 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Blasphemy, expletives, weird angel shit
Notes: Nico needs a holiday. Instead, he gets a miracle. Not quite as good, but at least he won’t pass out in public.
It’s Sunday. It has to be Sunday. There is no other day Nico can think of that would begin with him waking to the tolling of the mass bells, on less than three hours of sleep, with an enormous hangover and sixteen texts from Peter and Kamaria about the opening of the new free clinic, downtown, that he’s supposed to be throwing a party for in about… He squinted at his phone. Two and a half hours.
He could’ve had at least another hour of sleep, ignored another eight messages, and still gotten there with time to spare. But, the banging and the clanging of the bells was not conducive to unconsciousness, so he dragged himself to the shower, mumbling vague greetings at the Magdalenes who were still awake, watching the doors and watching him sleep. He paused at the bathroom door, putting a hand on the cheek of the young woman leaning on the wall, beside it, playing games on her phone.
She looked up, inquisitively.
"Thank you for not waking me up for the phone."
She laughed. "No problem, boss. You want me to get your gear loaded up and call for breakfast?"
"Please. And bring up the urn. Coffee for all." He stumbled into the bathroom.
"You sure about that? You don’t look so good."
"It’ll take a miracle for me to feel better. That’s a miracle. Maybe it’ll help." Rubbing his face, tiredly, Nico closed the door and made his way across the room, peeling off the clothes from the night before, as he went.
No one went hungry, in his house, he reassured himself, turning on the water. Not only because he’d be a shitty host, if his team went hungry, but because he found that hunger affected one’s ability to do good things. It was difficult to be happy and helpful, when you hadn’t had lunch. It was equally difficult, he’d noticed, when you hadn’t slept a full night in weeks.
But, he was popular. He was hope, for so many people. He would be where he was needed, and because he was only half-human, he’d pull it off without losing face. Or his mind. Although the latter was really becoming debatable. He’d heard there was only so long one could go without sleeping, before going mad, but at least today his skin felt like skin, under the soap.
Charity luncheons, fundraiser raves, outreach to people who weren’t pretty or pitiable but still needed help they weren’t getting — he did it all. He saw it all. And his intention was to build a structure, a template, that would survive him. A way of making sure that those who had would care for those who needed. A way of changing the politics of need.
Of course, last time, this had ended with him stripped naked and nailed to stuff. It was an experience he wasn’t big on repeating. Necessary to the place and time, though.
This time, he wouldn’t have to rely on other people to write his word. He would write his own word, and it would be made available to any who wished to read it. He wouldn’t even have to write it — those who came after could watch him speak, in recordings. It was possible for him, personally, to reach more people than had been alive the last time he’d come.
But, his word was writ so large, he thought, rinsing the shampoo out of his hair, so large and so wrong, that he was accused of not following his own word. He was, in the words of no small number of people, ‘not a very good Christian’, for supporting the human rights of those who believed differently and those who lived according to their making. And if that was being a ‘bad Christian’, then the entire establishment could use a swift kick in the ass.
Later. A swift kick in the ass, later. After breakfast. Possibly also after elevensies, lunch, dinner, and a very lengthy nap.
Nico turned off the shower and wrapped himself in a huge towel, embroidered around the edges with invocations of cleanliness and beauty. He staggered out of the bathroom cleaner, but not much more awake than he’d stumbled into it, but there was Yin, pressing a cup of hot coffee into his hand.
"Drink up, boss. Breakfast will be up by the time you’re dressed." She smiled warmly at him.
Typical Yin, always smooth and pleasant, even when she was breaking someone’s kneecaps. He wasn’t sure he approved of the kneecaps thing, really, but as he hadn’t gotten shot in the face, he was willing to overlook it. He’d sent flowers to the hospital, and the Magdalenes had made sure the man’s family had everything they needed, while he recovered from that brief bout of dickishness.
Half the coffee went down Nico’s throat, before words emerged. "Marry me."
Yin laughed. "No can do, boss. I think Moyra would be a little pissed."
Nico thought about that, for a moment, as he finished the first cup of coffee. "Let me DJ your wedding."
"I think Moyra would hurt you, if you didn’t." Yin grinned and dug in her pockets. "Oh, I almost forgot. Erika and Wendy said Gabriel came by for you, this morning. Something about knowing you weren’t going to get enough sleep."
"Dad’s sake. What did Gabi want?" Nico rifled through his closet, looking for something reasonable to wear. "Teal? Cyan? Turquoise? Where are all my blue-greens?"
"Behind you, boss."
"… I knew that." He turned and found the shirt he was looking for almost at once.
"They’re not sure why, but Gabriel just left this for you." Yin held out what appeared to be a small, greenish-yellow sweet, wrapped in a twist of wax paper. "The message was that you should thank Lucian, later."
Halfway into his trousers, Nico stopped and grabbed the tiny packet. "Send Lucian a box of struffoli and a case of that Syrian wine he likes. Send Gabi flowers. Draw a dick on the card."
"A dick, boss?"
"It’s Gabi. Just trust me." Nico pulled the ends of the twist, reverently, breathing deeply as the scent of honeydew reached him.
"Ohh, Lucian, I owe you my life," he whispered, licking the ball of sugary gel off the inside of the paper.
The next thing Nico was aware of, he was lying on his back, tangled in his half-worn trousers, staring at the ceiling of his closet, and feeling like he’d just been slammed in the back of the head with a musk melon. The flavour was in everything — every breath, every pore of his being — and ten times stronger than the melon sweets he liked.
"I’m good!" He declared, sounding like he might actually mean it. "It’s good! I’m fine! I’m better than fine!"
Energy crackled through him, racing down his muscles, ricocheting off his palms and the soles of his feet. "How long was I down?"
"A few minutes," Yin replied, from amid the crowd of Magdalenes crammed in the door of the closet.
Rebecca knelt by Nico’s side, calmly, holding his wrist in one hand. "Nico? What happened?"
"I learned that when Lucian shares, I need to sit down. Thanks, Becca. It’s really ok." Nico kissed her hand and then writhed into his trousers, before getting up. "Out of my way. Coffee time for everyone, and then I need to go. Who’s with me, today?"
Yin read from her phone as she followed Nico toward the coffee urn and their breakfast. "Kama’s already with Peter. You’ve got Joanie and Delilah with you, and Lola, Esther, and Amala are working the crowd."
Nico laid his hands upon the urn and muttered under his breath, before pouring himself another cup of coffee. "Lola for this? You think?"
"Trust me. Lola’s exactly what you want out there." Yin took a cup for herself and examined the spread of muffins, fruit, and cheese. "Amaranth for Gabi?"
"Dahlia and cowslip." Nico crammed a third of a poppyseed muffin into his mouth and washed it down with coffee.
"You two have the weirdest relationship." Yin gazed upon Nico in nearly-worshipful horror. "Cowslip and dicks?"
"Running joke. It’s going to be a lot less funny to you than it is to us." The rest of the muffin disappeared into his mouth. "‘in? Dw’ah—" He swallowed and tried again. "Do I smell like melon? Everything smells like melon."
"If I actually sniff you, you smell like melon and caramel. If I stand a normal distance from you, it’s not really noticeable," she reassured him. "What the hell did Gabi give you?"
"A miracle." He drank more coffee. "A melon-flavoured miracle. It’s a good thing I like melon. Add a bottle of Midori to those flowers."
"More weird angel shit?" Yin asked, tapping at her phone.
"More weird angel shit."
"Done and done, boss! Mara’s waiting for you, downstairs. The van’s packed, the first shift is eating, and you’ll be out in twenty minutes."
Nico kissed her cheek, firmly. "You’re the best, Yin. Anything you need, you let me know, we’ll make it happen."
"I know. Now, get going, before Mara comes up looking for you."