Chapter 23:

Archangel's Epilogue

The Legend of the Pervy Archangel

Hell was a truly desolate place. It was inhospitable to all but the denizens who made it their home. The surface was nothing but a craggy landmass of rocks and dirt with hundreds of cracks and trenches filled with red-hot magma that flowed like a river, bubbling and boiling, steam rising from its thick, muddy surface. Fire rose into the purple sky, shooting up from large pits in the ground. The heat was overwhelming.Bookmark here

Michael and several hundred angels clashed with their devil counterparts above this harsh, barren terrain. The sight of so many angels and devils would have had many humans thinking the time of judgment had finally come, but in truth, this was just a small skirmish, one of the many that had happened in the past couple decades since his return to Heaven.Bookmark here

While most of the angels under his command fought the lesser Devils, those who were considered canon fodder by their higher ranked generals, Michael found himself clashing against two powerful foes.Bookmark here

Asmodeus, one of the seven most powerful demons under Satan's command, held a bow in one hand, which he aimed at Michael, tracking the Archangel as he flew threw the air. His equine lower-half kept itself planted firmly on the ground, hoofs scuffing the dirt below, while his arms followed the curved path of his nemesis's flight. His eyes narrowed into thin slits, watching, waiting…Bookmark here

Now!Bookmark here

Within seconds, the air became filled with hundreds of arrows made from dark purple energy. There were so many that Michael lost sight of Asmodeus, whose form was blotted out by the wall of death coming toward him.Bookmark here

The Archangel moved swiftly through the hailstorm, his body twisting and turning, weaving and barrel rolling across the sky in an incredible display of aerial acrobatics. What arrows could not be avoided were dealt with by sword and the flaring of a bright golden barrier that coalesced into existence in front of him.Bookmark here

The firestorm of purple energy arrows eventually ended, but Michael received no reprieve as a large warhammer descended from above.Bookmark here

With graceful movements, Michael avoided the hammer and continued flying up. As he passed the figure wielding the massive weapon, a giant of a devil with four arms and six eyes who went by the name of Bael, Michael lashed out with his sword in an attempt to take off his foe's hand. Things didn't work out as, despite the hammer looking heavy, Bael lifted the weapon with ease and blocked the attack. Michael pushed off the hammer and soared several feet away.Bookmark here

“Michael!”Bookmark here

Gabriel flew toward him, her movements swift and sure as she dove in and around the various battles happening in all quadrants of the sky. Her twin blades, small scimitar-like weapons, lashed out, appearing as mere flashes of light, felling devils in her wake. She appeared beside Michael just in time to block a hail of energy arrows from Asmodeus, her weapons moving with pinpoint precision and impossible for the eye to follow speed.Bookmark here

“About time you showed up,” Michael grunted. He swept his sword forward, unleashing a powerful crescent of energy at Bael. The much larger Devil, realizing that the attack was coming in too fast for him to avoid, attempted to block it. He managed, but the results were him getting blown several dozen meters back. “You're late.”Bookmark here

“Don't expect an apology,” Gabriel snapped. “My forces and I were delayed by Beelzebulb.”Bookmark here

“Beelzebulb? You let that sorry excuse for a devil hold you up?” Michael flew in front of Gabriel as Asmodeus unleashed more arrows and blocked the attack by creating a powerful barrier in front of them. “You must be getting soft.”Bookmark here

“As if you're any better.” Gabriel rolled her eyes. She then spotted Bael coming back, descending from the sky above them. “Trouble up above!”Bookmark here

“I'll take Bael if you take Asmodeus,” Michael said.Bookmark here

Gabriel shrugged and readied her blades. “You're the commander.”Bookmark here

Michael and Gabriel took off in separate directions, him toward Bael and her toward Asmodeus. They had their own battles to fight now and didn't want to get in each other's way.Bookmark here

As Michael launched himself at his opponent, he felt determination set in. He would finish this battle in five minutes. There were more important places for him to be.Bookmark here

~The Archangel Michael~Bookmark here

The changing rooms in Jerusalem appeared to be very similar to a modern locker room found at a high school school or even the local fitness centers on Earth. White tiles covered the floor, while the walls, a light blue, gave the appearance of the midday sky, only without the sun. Several hundred lockers stood side by side in the wide, spacious interior, all of them lined against the wall.Bookmark here

Michael stood by his locker, a towel around his waist, his hair still damp from his shower. While angels didn't need to bathe to smell fresh, they did need to wash up if they wanted to get the blood and grime gained from the battlefield off. Being the hygienic neat freak that he was, Michael had been one of the first few to take a shower the moment they returned.Bookmark here

Besides, today was also a very important day. It wouldn't do for him to be walking around covered in gore.Bookmark here

“Man, I can't believe how easy that was.”Bookmark here

“Ha! Did you see the looks on those devil's faces as we sent them packing? Priceless.”Bookmark here

“I'm just glad God decided to allow us to go on the offensive now.”Bookmark here

“We're not actually going on the offense, Kain. We're simply striking preemptively before they can attack first.”Bookmark here

“Isn't that the same thing?”Bookmark here

“If we're going with semantics, maybe, but there's a lot of people who would debate that...”Bookmark here

Michael allowed the conversation to flow over him as he got dressed, no longer really listening as the angels next to him went into a philosophical discussion on the semantics of a preemptive strike versus an offensive attack. He'd decided to wear a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt that fit snugly against his torso. He also wore a pair of black converse.Bookmark here

Looking down at himself, Michael smiled. These resembled the very first clothes that he'd bought in the human world. Good. Familiarity was exactly what he was going for.Bookmark here

Dressed and ready, Michael made to leave.Bookmark here

“Hey, Michael! Where are you going?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, what are you rushing off for? Don't tell me there's a fire in Heaven.”Bookmark here

Michael let go of the door handle and turned around. “Sorry, guys. I know all of you planned a celebration for our victory, but I have somewhere that I need to be.”Bookmark here

Listening to the groan of protests but paying them no heed, Michael left the changing room and headed down a long hallway made of light carpet and beige walls.Bookmark here

“Michael!” another voice shouted. “Michael, wait up!”Bookmark here

Michael almost groaned, but he managed to withhold it, if barely. First those devils decide to try and open a portal to Heaven, forcing him to launch a preemptive assault before it could happen and now this? Was everybody trying to impede him on his quest? Couldn't people see that he was in a bit of a rush?Bookmark here

Turning around and giving his second-in-command a bit of a pout, he asked, “what is it, Gabriel?”Bookmark here

After his return to Heaven, Gabriel had, for a time, ignored him, or at least done her best to pretend he was an existence beneath her notice. That hadn't lasted long. It's hard to ignore someone when they're your superior. Her attitude and general aversion for him had only persisted for a couple decades before softening, probably because he hadn't peeped on her or any of the other angels since coming back from Earth.Bookmark here

“Don't look so disappointed to see me.” Gabriel frowned at him.Bookmark here

“Sorry,” Michael said, only slightly chagrined. “Look, I'm in a bit of a hurry. Is whatever you need to speak with me about something that can wait?”Bookmark here

Gabriel blinked, the only sign he saw that showed her surprise. “I guess it can wait,” she admitted, her face betraying her bewilderment. “It's not like what I have to tell you is life-threatening or anything, but―”Bookmark here

“Good. In that case, I'll find you some other time and we can discuss whatever you want to talk to me about then, alright? See ya!”Bookmark here

“W-wait! Hold up! What's so important that you would just ditch me when I want to talk to you? Michael!”Bookmark here

Michael didn't answer. He just rushed out of the hallway and took flight once outside. Someone important would be coming to Heaven today, and he wanted to be the first person she saw.Bookmark here

As Michael flew through the third, second and first Heavens, his mind turned and thought back to what happened after his return.Bookmark here

God had welcomed him back, of course, and told him that he was glad Michael had learned his lesson. Truth be told, Michael still didn't know what lesson God wanted to teach him, but he supposed it didn't matter. He hadn't been given a chance to ask either way as, mere seconds after God had greeted him, the Creator had left Heaven to go play pachinko.Bookmark here

Much of his time in Heaven had been spent getting back into the groove of training his soldiers, drilling them in new tactics that he'd thought up on Earth, and creating new ways to counter the devils’ attempts to breach Heaven's gate, along with fighting against the devils, who began attacking more often after his return. If Michael had to guess, he would say that Lucifer's failure to kill him again galvanized them into action.Bookmark here

What time wasn't spent at war or preparing for war was spent gazing down at the Earth, or to be more specific, at one particular person who lived on Earth. For the past eighty-six years, he'd watched over her, silently, and from afar. He knew that he shouldn't, that doing so was wrong, but a part of him couldn't help it. Like a drug, he needed her, and if he couldn't spend time with her, then he at least wanted to see her.Bookmark here

And it wasn’t not like he hurt anyone other than himself. Really, his fellow angels should be grateful he'd picked a new hobby, because it meant he wasn't peeping on them whenever they were in the hotsprings anymore.Bookmark here

Michael soon reached the gate that led into Heaven. Nearly twenty times larger than he was tall, made of glittering gold, the bars covered in beautiful murals depicting acts God had done throughout the ages, the pearly gates served as the entrance for souls who'd proven themselves worthy of the honor of living in the paradise that lay beyond. The gates were currently open, heralding the appearance of several souls that were being allowed access to Heaven.Bookmark here

Even as Michael stood there, off to the side, observing, he could see several souls being directed by one of the angels whose duty it was to guide people into heaven. Most of the newcomers seemed to be in a state of shock. Seeing the looks on some of those people's faces, the awe, the amazement, and, of course, the “oh, my God! I can't believe Heaven actually exists!” expression, amused him a bit. Did all humans gape like that when they first entered Heaven?Bookmark here

Several of the newly received noticed him and stared. Most, he figured, were simply looking at the wings on his back. Not surprising, really. No one else in the entirety of Heaven had fourteen wings. Even the other Archangels only had twelve.Bookmark here

When one of the groups passed the gate, Michael slipped out and walked along the clouds toward the escalator that led into Heaven.Bookmark here

It actually used to be a stairway that led into Heaven, but some old guy kept complaining about back pains, so God decided to change it into an escalator. Go figure.Bookmark here

As he walked, Michael's fingers began to tingle. His legs, feeling strangely like jelly, moved with a sort of awkward lumber, containing none of the grace so often associate with his kind.Bookmark here

What if she didn't remember him? His mind couldn't help but ask this question, this single doubt, which had been niggling in the back of his mind ever since he'd returned from his sojourn to Earth. He'd tried asking God about it, but his Lord and creator had studiously avoided him whenever he made the attempt to bring her up… often by making the excuse that he was off to play pachinko. Even Metatron, the angel who controlled memories and dreams, remained silent on the matter. It was frustrating, but he really couldn't do much of anything aside from wait and pray.Bookmark here

One could not see the escalator that led up to the pearly gates. Namely because it was hidden beneath the clouds. Michael still knew when he had reached it, though, because he could see the hole in the clouds that marked its exit point.Bookmark here

Michael walked over to the elevator, until he stood just a few feet away.Bookmark here

His breath left him.Bookmark here

She looked much different from the last time he'd seen her from his perch in Heaven, all wrinkled and old, lying in a hospital bed with several tubes and IV drips connected to her body. Her skin, porcelain pale and flawlessly smooth, had not a single wrinkle or blemish to it now. Her hair, which had been the color of his wings, had gone back to its dark raven shade. Dark eyes framed by a face that was sharp and somewhat pointed, but still holding an incredible beauty of ethereal magnificence, peered at the world around them inquisitively. Even her body had returned to the youthful and lithe frame that he remembered it being so many decades ago, right down to her slender hips and small chest.Bookmark here

There could be no doubt about it. It was her. The only difference were the two small wings behind her back, signs that she had been reborn as an angel.Bookmark here

“Alice.”Bookmark here

The word, whispered in reverence and longing, must have somehow carried all the way over to her, despite the softness with which he had spoken.Bookmark here

Alice turned to him, her eyes staring at him with general curiosity, as if he were some kind of passing oddity and nothing more.Bookmark here

Michael wanted to speak. Actually, he wanted to run up to her and pull her into his arms, to feel her skin against his hands and her lips on his, but that was neither here nor there. He first had to ascertain whether she even remembered him. Unfortunately, that single word, a name, was all that passed through his mouth. His throat had closed on him, rendering him incapable of speech.Bookmark here

“I'm sorry,” Alice said, her eyes blinking and her lips pursing. “But do I know you?”Bookmark here

Michael felt as if he'd been stabbed by Lucifer's blade. She didn't remember him? Talk about heartbreaking. All this time he'd watched her, waiting for the day she would join him in Heaven, and now that she was finally here, her memories of him, which he had hoped would return upon her arrival, had not returned.Bookmark here

“Excuse me?” she said, getting his attention and forcing his almost shut down mind to kick start with a jolt. “But who are you?”Bookmark here

He looked at her, blinking, his mind and heart struggling to give him some kind of consolation. They couldn't, and he was left feeling lost. What should he do now? A part of him wanted to run, to kick off with a mighty flapping of wings and get as far away from her as possible. The other part remained frozen in indecision.Bookmark here

“Ah...” Michael choked out only a single syllable. Alice stood there, a single eyebrow raised as she watched him. He tried again, opening his mouth, but nothing came out. Not even a croak.Bookmark here

And still Alice watched him. One second passed and nothing happened. Then two seconds went by before, finally, something happened.Bookmark here

It just wasn't what Michael expected.Bookmark here

“Pfft! Hahahahahaha!!!” Alice began laughing. Not just laughing, but uproariously laughing. The noise was loud and obnoxious and Michael could do nothing but stare at the woman, who had hunched over due to her incessant peals of hilarity, one hand on her knee, the other pointed at him. “Y-you should see the look on your face! It's priceless!”Bookmark here

Michael gazed at the young woman, blinking rapidly as he tried to comprehend his current situation. His mind went through a rapid series of reboots in an attempt to process and decipher the short series of dialogue that led up to Alice laughing at him. Unfortunately, his mind couldn't come up with anything, partly because it had frozen over, becoming inert and incapable of actually handling any major cognitive thought processes beyond simple instinctive actions, such as blinking.Bookmark here

“Ha...” after one last laugh, Alice straightened up and grinned at the dumbstruck Archangel. “You haven't changed a bit, have you, Michael?” She looked at him fondly. “You're still the same idiot I remember.”Bookmark here

Remember. The word jolted Michael back to conscious thought. He hesitated, if only for a moment. “Alice, do you… are you saying that you remember me?”Bookmark here

“Of course.” Alice smiled at him. “How could I forget you?”Bookmark here

She remembered him? But then why had she...?Bookmark here

His eyebrows twitched. “You were having it on with me!” he accused, causing her smile to widen into a grin that showed her pearly whites.Bookmark here

“Of course I was,” she said, placing her hands on her hips. “You didn't think I forgot about how you left and all my memories were erased, did you? Do you know how irritating it is to die and then have all these strange memories of things you don't remember happening to you forcing their way into your mind? Let me tell you, it's not pleasant. So, consider this your punishment.”Bookmark here

“Punishment? But I didn't do anything!”Bookmark here

“You're the reason I lost my memories in the first place, Michael. The only reason they were taken was because you appeared in my life. I think I'm entitled to a little revenge, don't you?”Bookmark here

Michael sputtered, causing Alice to chuckle. She walked up to him, her steps quick and decisive while he was left standing there, gaping at her.Bookmark here

Seconds later, he found himself engulfed in a hug. Alice had her arms around his torso, her face pressing into the crook of his neck. Her presence, the warmth of her body against his, the feel of her strong yet slender arms around him, served to relax Michael. His body melted as he returned the hug, relishing in the feel of having her in his arms again. By the Almighty Creator how he'd missed this.Bookmark here

“I missed you so much,” he whispered, his nose burying itself in her hair. Her shampoo, a delicate fragrance that pervaded his mind, brought with it a sense of nostalgia.Bookmark here

“I missed you too,” Alice muttered against his neck, and Michael shuddered as he felt her hot breath prickling his skin.Bookmark here

They remained that way for several minutes, time which seemed to stand still, basking in each other's presence and arms.Bookmark here

When they broke apart, they only did so partially. Michael's hands found themselves on Alice's hips, and Alice had placed hers on his shoulders.Bookmark here

“I've been waiting so long for you to come here,” Michael told her. “Eighty-six years. It’s such a short amount of time for an angel, yet that time has passed by so slowly I was almost afraid it would never come.”Bookmark here

“You were waiting for me to die?” Alice looked askance at him. “Do you know how freaky that is, Michael? I don't know if I can associate with you anymore.”Bookmark here

Michael would have crossed his arms, but they were full of Alice, so he just gave her a pout. “You know what I mean.”Bookmark here

“I suppose I do,” she conceded, “I often felt the same way.”Bookmark here

“Really?”Bookmark here

Alice's nod was slow. “Yes. I never knew why, but after you disappeared and I lost my memories, I had this nagging feeling that I'd forgotten something important. I thought it would go away eventually, but that feeling stayed with me my entire life, and I could never figure out why.” Her eyes narrowed. “It was annoying.”Bookmark here

Michael couldn't help but laugh, relief flowing through him. “I'm sorry. I guess Metatron gave you that feeling as a placeholder so that your memories would return upon your ascent to Heaven.”Bookmark here

“Yeah...”Bookmark here

Words trailing off as everything began to set in. After so much time apart they were finally back together. It was almost overwhelming.Bookmark here

Michael was just about lean in for a kiss, when Alice's eyes narrowed.Bookmark here

“So now that I’ve jumped through all these hoops and become an angel, can I finally kiss you? Or are you going to give me some horrible excuse about Archangel's not being allowed to love or something equally stupid?”Bookmark here

“Archangel's not allowed to love?” Michael tilted his head. “Where did you get that idea? Archangel's can fall in love if they want to. God hasn't made any rules against that. The only rule we have on relationships is that we can't cavort with devils or humans.”Bookmark here

“Good.”Bookmark here

Alice's right hand slid up his neck and moved behind his head, threading through his long locks of thick brown hair.Bookmark here

“Because if you had told me that I still couldn't kiss you after all this time, I would have hit you.”Bookmark here

Michael didn't have time to shudder at the thought of being on the receiving end of another dreaded “Grayfield Fist” because at that exact moment, Alice had yanked his head down to hers.Bookmark here

And kissed him.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.