The classes today were an hour long instead of merely forty minutes. They were still shorter than her usual classes at high
school, however, and having class for two hours wasn't going to break her in the slightest. The hours were slightly mix-matched,
however. One, her Psychology class, started at ten, and the other, Chemistry, at one. Irritating, but those were the only
hours that were available.
She wondered desperately if someone would talk to her today.
Stupid, she immediately told herself. If she really wanted someone to talk to her, she'd talk to them herself. She had a mouth,
she had a brain, and she had working vocal cords.
She shook her head, firming her back. When she was certain she looked confident, she grabbed her bookbag and set out the door,
desperately ignoring the tight, hopeless feeling in her chest.
She managed to get into class first again, though she'd only managed it for her first class the day before. She sat down and
pulled out her notebook for class, then her notebook for her story. It wasn't unusual for her to write in every free occasion,
and she did it often during class when the class had become far too boring for her tastes.
The day wasn't any different from the day before. A quick glance out the window showed her the same fall beauty as before.
The sun was out again today, gleaming on the autumn leaves. She knew that outside, the scent of the sun touched one's nostrils.
She knew that students would be in groups, laughing with one another.
She felt cold through it all. She knew no one, and didn't have the strength to go up to strangers who obviously had their
own groups and weren't as desperate as she. She felt stupid and out of place. No different than she had in middle school or
high school. But she'd hoped to be different. Maybe with time she could find her way through. She wouldn't always be alone.
That she promised to herself.
With that, she opened up her notebook and continued with her story. She wasn't at an interesting point, but rather a place
where information must be given to the reader. It was a tedious part, but well worth it when it was over.
She felt it, somehow, when he walked in. She looked up and saw him standing there, looking at her, a smile on his lips. She
knew real smiles from fake smiles, and was surprised to see a real one standing there, aimed at her.
And was struck dumb when she smiled in return. “Hello. Arrian, right?”
He nodded and came to sit beside her again. “Yes, that's right. You remembered.” He placed his bag down beside
his desk and opened it to get out his things.
She decided that it wouldn't be the best thing for her to admit that he'd been the only one to talk to her all day. It would
seem pathetic. She had yet to even meet Brittany. She was alone.
No change, but...
She smiled again at him, nervously, and turned back to her story.
It was quite a while later that the professor walked in, a middle-aged man with a salt-and-pepper beard. She listened with
half an ear as he introduced himself to the class.
The class was the same as the others, a boring introduction to the course that explained the same things the other classes
had, handing out schedules and discussing the exact same aspects of college obligations. The first teacher he had listened
to with rapt attention, the second only slightly. Now he didn't bother listening at all. Instead Arrian closed his eyes and
thought over his mission: Trista.
Certainly the girl was attractive, and certainly she was nice. She was early to class – almost insanely early, since
she had beaten him in – and she seemed responsible. She was kind and polite.
But beneath all of that, he caught her emotions as clear as if they were etched on her face. Fear, anxiety, and, deeper, sorrow.
All of that was caused by the even deeper emotion, one he'd never faced before.
It churned inside him, an emotion that made him feel weak. Feeling that emotion from within her and knowing, knowing somehow
that she had lived with it for years... feeling it for only this short time, and from a distance, it still caused him pain.
Even though it was more like an echo, just a passing, fleeting touch, still it managed to drag him down. An emotion like that
shouldn't even exist.
He remembered his Lord's words – “she is at the end of her rope. She is about to give up” –
and understood. She was about to take her own life.
Something undefinable tightened in his chest.
He looked at her again. She looked composed, unworried. The teacher made a joke to the class, and she smiled for him. When
she smiled, it almost looked true. To those who couldn't feel, or those who had not been in Heaven, it most certainly looked
real. Was he the first to see? The first to notice? Had she been living this way, alone and hurting, for so long?
The teacher placed everyone into quick groups to discuss a random psychological myth. They were partnered together with another
four people. Their topic was whether one could love others before loving oneself.
“We can't love someone before we love ourselves,” one student said immediately, and everyone immediately agreed
Her eyes, he noted, were kept down, and rarely looked into another person's eyes. When she spoke to the group, her voice was
light, full of laughter. “So we have to love ourselves? Oh, me, I love you so much...” She swished back her hair
and batted her eyes. She was making a fool of herself. But she made everyone around her laugh.
That was when he began to truly understand her power. Especially, he noticed, when she spoke again. “I don't know...
I think it's possible to love others before learning to love oneself. You can give everything to someone else, help them through
their tough times and make them laugh, even when every morning you look in the mirror and you hate who you see.”
“We're not talking about loving your appearance,” one girl said.
“Well, your appearance is a part of you, right? And besides, let's say there's a kid out there who's teased constantly.
One kid stands up for him. So even though that kid has no self-respect or self-esteem, he can still care deeply for that other
kid who stands up for him. He can love that guy more than anyone else in the world... and he may still end up committing suicide.”
In the end, no one could argue with her.
She was the one to explain their decision to the class, and again made the class laugh. No one else saw the sorrow deep within
her eyes as she laughed with everyone else.
She could hardly refuse when he offered to walk to class with her at one. They both shared Chemistry, so there was no point
in arguing. Especially since she wanted him to join her.
“I'm not that fond of Chemistry,” he admitted to her, his eyes staring at her.
She couldn't make herself meet his eyes fully. He seemed to be able to look past her mask into her soul, and she wasn't too
pleased with it. “You're being far too kind to the subject. Just say Chemistry sucks hardcore.”
He smiled. “Sucks hardcore?” he echoed.
“Yup. Like... umm... like spinach. Who wants spinach?” She was acting the fool. She was good at it.
They entered the science building and headed down the right hall until they came upon the huge room made available for their
lecture. A large podium stood in the front with a microphone. There were about twenty rows of seats, each rising a bit so
that the teacher could be seen even in the back. She moved straight to the front, in the middle, and sat.
He sat beside her again, and she was beginning to think it a norm. She didn't think she shared two classes with anyone else,
but she shared three with this man, the one person who had decided to talk to her. It was almost as if... but she had given
up on that line of thought long ago.
She was surprised when Arrian suddenly leaned closer to her in Chemistry class and randomly joked about something the teacher
had just said. It had jerked out a laugh from her. She was surprised to hear the sound. It was almost foreign.
She waited a couple minutes, then leaned back over to Arrian. “He misspelled 'appropriate.' What do you think that says
“He's a weirdo.”
She chuckled. “Oh, most definitely. Look at his outfit. It's dreadfully wrong for him to wear a pink tie with a purple
shirt. Where the hell did he get them?”
“Not Heaven,” Arrian said wryly.
She couldn't remember laughing so hard in a very long time. She was actually saddened by the thought of leaving the class.
When the hour was over, she placed her notebooks back into her backpack and stood.
She was shocked again when, as she left, Arrian called after her, “see you tomorrow.”
She could only nod before making a quick escape.
She needed a friend. Desperately.
He thought about her again as he sat in his single dorm and watched the leaves on the trees as they swayed in a breeze. The
leaves had already changed, a few already brown and discarded. He looked at them for a long time and could not help but compare
them to Trista.
The power to laugh when the heart is crying, and to ease others' pain. Just as the death of the leaves brought a smile of
wonder to others' lips. The power to persuade others to agree with what one says with only a few words. Just as the leaves
inevitably tell of the changing season and cannot be argued with. Arrian could easily see why she was important.
But... and here was a big but.... he had no idea how to Save her. He knew she needed friends, but just watching her these
past two days showed him plainly that any friendships she made would be shallow. She might be as loyal as they come, but the
friends may not be, and she would be wary of everyone because she knew the truth of that. Weather can turn foul, and many
may not want to stay in the rain with her. Especially... since being her true friend would mean going out into that rain,
sheltering her and bringing her inside, where it was warm.
He sighed. But that was why he'd been sent – he knew the way back inside.
She stared blankly at her computer monitor. It seemed to fuzz before her very eyes. For the fourth time, she shook her head
and forced her eyes to focus. She had wanted to begin reading for her English class. She had an easier version of the first
story in front of her. She usually enjoyed reading, even if the material was inescapably boring. Why couldn't she focus?
Arrian. She sighed. It was unusual for someone to give her the time of day, so of course she was disturbed that someone did.
And a guy, no less. A handsome guy. A guy, she'd learned (fairly illegitimately and most certainly unethically) was in the
Gabriel dorm housing. She thought about the spying she did on-line and grimaced. Then thought about the conversation a girl
down the hall had with a friend. The girl had spoken about Arrian. Apparently he had been a nice guy to said girl. And he
had certainly been nice to her.
She grabbed her head in her hands. She thought about him too much. But it wasn't unusual, was it? If she had a lot of friends,
her thoughts would certainly circulate through them all, wouldn't they? It was because there was only him since she'd come
to college. Brittany had disappeared, apparently, since her room had been switched, as well. She didn't remember the girl's
phone number, had never received an e-mail address. Brittany had blipped off the radar. There was only Arrian.
She glared at her screen. Since when was she so pathetic that she mooned over a guy who just talked to her in class? So he
was gorgeous. So he was kind. He was just talking to her, another person who was friendly in a classroom and forgot her in
But that last parting shot – see you tomorrow – no one had ever said something like that to her before. Such a
simple phrase, but it meant so much. The person wanted to see the other the next day. Was still thinking about her
after the class was over. Such a simple phrase. She'd heard others say it all the time. But never to her.
Such a simple thing. Why was it so foreign to her?
She sighed again and stared at the words on her screen, blurred and indistinct. Stupidly, she looked up at her ceiling. When
she was certain the threat of tears was gone, she looked back at the screen and determinedly began reading.
His back hurt.
He'd never had to sleep on anything as uncomfortable as that bed before, nor had he felt pain before. It was an altogether
The weather, he could see through his window, was still optimistic. He knew God was helping, keeping the storm clouds away
that would inevitably sadden one's outlook. He would gladly take all the help he could get.
He looked at the time, then grabbed his backpack and set off for English, his mind far from what he'd been assigned to read.
She looked up when he entered. Her heart lifted slightly. “Hey there,” she called brightly, waving.
“Good morning,” he greeted, coming beside her and dropping his bag. He pulled out his own notebook and turned
back to her. “How are you?”
Miserable. “Pretty good, considering the hour. You?”
“Quite well. I enjoy mornings.”
She made a face. “Ew. Sunlight's evil.”
He smiled, but she thought she saw a frown in his eyes. “You don't like mornings?”
“Nope. I'm a night kind of person. Or maybe evening? Whichever.” She shrugged. “Hey – may I ask your
He seemed a bit surprised, but spoke before she could take it back. “English. You?”
“Same,” she affirmed. “Huh. You seem more the intellectual type. Why English?”
“Just my interest,” he said with a shrug of his own. But something told her he was hinting at something more serious
than his interest in English.
She was quite amazed that she'd asked, let alone that she'd held a conversation without feeling... trapped, or strained. She
was excited. A conversation without faking her way through. Small, practically insubstantial. But it was something. She could
No, that wasn't right. She would.
“Unfortunately,” he continued, leaning back in his chair, “I still have some General Education Program classes
“Yeah, I feel your pain there,” she said with a grimace. “Why do English majors need Chemistry? It doesn't
He hummed an affirmative. “At least we have this class.”
She smiled. “Yeah. The reading wasn't the most interesting, but the ideas of Moore's Utopia brings up some serious
“Yes. The need for such extreme order to maintain a semblance of peace is disturbing, but most likely true.”
She shot him a dubious look. Was he... discussing something intellectual with her? Here was where things would get... hairy.
“I agree. People usually... well, people will always break rules for their own gain. I thought...” Might as well
push him away now, before she became any more attached. “I thought it was complete bullshit. People would never be the
way Moore said, everyone working together without pride or greed. Pride and greed have been in man since their birth. There
will always be those wanting to step on others for their own gain.”
She turned away from him. It was an honest opinion, something she truly believed. She didn't think a man like him, kind and
caring, could ever see things the way she did.
She jerked and swiveled her head around to him. “R-Really?”
He smiled when he looked onto her startled gaze. “Really.”
She blushed. “I... I see.”
“Moore supposes that there are only intellectuals in the world, and that those intellectuals want only to learn and
not to take. Have you ever read Dr. Faustus, where a scholar sells his soul to the Devil for power and unlimited knowledge?”
She was surprised by how much depth he'd placed into the story. “Yes, I've read it.”
“When Moore said...”
She listened with rapt attention. He was smart. Smart, good-looking and nice? She hadn't thought such men still existed
on Earth – especially not at her age.
When the teacher came in, even his blunt announcement of a pop quiz couldn't disturb her good mood. While other classmates
groaned, she and Arrian exchanged looks. “Good luck,” she murmured to him.
He smiled. “Good luck to you, too.” She almost believed that the luck he gave her was part of the reason she knew
the answers for each question.
Afterwards they traded jokes again. Arrian answered a question Professor Simpson asked. She answered another. Stupidly, she
thought of themselves as becoming a team.
The thought of them not becoming friends hurt. She would be alone again... and she wouldn't be able to talk to him anymore.
But he said “see you tomorrow” again, and she couldn't help smiling at the prospect. “Yeah,” she called
back, and watched him wave as he left the room.
The hope almost stole her breath away.
What was he doing?
It was Thursday, and Trista had just whispered a joke about the teacher's drawing of a stick figure. “Surely,”
she joked, “that's a guy, right?”
The professor was explaining the way depression affects the body. They would probably have a quiz on this. More importantly,
this knowledge, though he already knew parts of it, would most assuredly help him understand Trista. Why was he not able to
The feel of her breath in his ear sent shockwaves through him. He'd been taught the basics – he knew what the reaction
was. Lust. His Lord had promised him that lust itself was not bad – it was merely the physical feeling of desire, made
mostly for reproductive purposes. It was only wrong when acted on inappropriately or foolishly.
He felt like acting on it foolishly.
Lust was nothing but a reaction to someone physically appealing. It was not nearly as important as love – a more familiar
feeling. All angels loved. Humans were loved, fellow angels were loved. That emotion he understood.
What he felt here, for this woman right now, was the same love he felt for all other humans, all other angels. Not like for
his Lord, but love just the same. A sort of overall caring and desire for joy in their lives. This lust thing was an incredible
He noticed belatedly that she had disappeared back into that story of hers and realized that his silence and disquiet had
bled over onto her. He instantly felt contrite. She was like a skittish animal. She needed someone willing to stay with her
and help her back out of her shell.
So he made an effort of joking with her to make up for what he'd done. “At least it's not an egg, like those depression
She glanced back at him and smiled. It was a worried and fragile smile. She didn't trust herself with him anymore, even with
jokes. Still, she replied. “I dunno. It's like the egg, only now there are lines.”
“See? It's an advancement.”
It was difficult to ignore the rising interest inside of him, to try to focus solely on her emotions and not his own. It was
obvious that she was beginning to open up for the first true time in her life. He would not ruin everything by allowing his
lust to get in the way.
The teacher dismissed the class after giving him an assignment to read the first two chapters of their assigned book. He stood,
already packed, and turned to Trista. As usual, she was only just now packing up, having written in her book until the very
last minute. He was about to speak when she beat him.
“See you tomorrow.”
He immediately caught an overflow of emotion, mostly swirling into a mass of insecurity. She was unsure of his reaction.
He replied cheerily and left, careful to not leave too quickly. She was afraid of opening up to others. He had some questions
for his Lord.
The end of the week proved to be a noisy time. The students around him were celebrating their weekend with loud music and
shouting. Footsteps constantly pounded outside his door. He'd already been informed of two parties he could attend. It was
frustrating. Worse, it was making it difficult for him to concentrate.
And he kept thinking about what had happened Thursday afternoon, an event that almost cost him the friendship he'd been forming.
When they'd been leaving Chemistry class that day, he had turned to her as she packed up – again the last to prepare
to leave. When she looked up at him, it was with a tentative smile, but a true one. Without fully thinking it through, he
had taken a dangerous initiative and had gently grabbed her hand.
She instantly tensed.
He immediately let go. When he'd stayed and walked her out of the class, she'd been silent and reticent. Scared. He'd spoken,
joking lightly about the professor's strange shirt – canary yellow this time. She had tried to smile at him again, but
it had been fake. Obviously fake. She hadn't even been able to look him in the face. She had been embarrassed and angry at
herself, obviously because of her reaction to his touch. The next day, Friday, she had acted like nothing was wrong, but still...
still, she was tense. Afraid.
What had happened to her?
A protectiveness reared itself inside of him whenever he felt that fear of hers. The urge to defend was deeper than what he
had always felt for other humans. He had to understand. This... had not been covered in the basics.
He had his blinds carefully closed and a note on the door asking for no disturbances. His lights were off, just in case.
Still it took a long time, with his shirtless body concentrating like no tomorrow, to blank out all those noises and be able
to call out to his Father with his wings lightly spread around him. It felt right, so incredibly right, to have those white
wings spread. He wanted to fly suddenly, to test his wings. Instead he merely indulged himself with a few exercises.
It took only a moment for him to reach God. The sudden light, Arrian knew, couldn't be seen by those outside his room. “My
Lord,” he whispered, awed as usual by God's brilliance. Joyous to see Him again. “I have missed you.”
“You fare well,” his Lord replied, knowing that all too well.
“Yes,” Arrian responded anyway, and bowed. “My Lord, I know that I am disturbing you-”
“Not at all,” God soothed. “I understand your desires.” Arrian knew that his Lord did understand,
and better than he himself ever could.
“I am concerned. My Lord, she is hurting and I do not know what to do to help.”
“You are doing it,” his Lord told him.
That, he knew, he wouldn't understand. Yet. “I feel... strange.”
“Yes,” God told him. “I know.” And his Lord seemed saddened by this.
“What... is happening to me?” he asked, though he knew already that God would have told him if he was to know.
“You will know,” his Lord assured him. “When the time is right, you will know.”
Arrian frowned a bit at that, but let it go. His Lord knew best. It was not his to question... though very often he wished
to. As soon as that thought passed through his mind, his Lord chuckled. “I understand,” his Lord reassured.
“The girl... Trista... please... what happened to her?” He knew that his Lord had put her through something, something
most likely necessary for her to gain the immense strengths that she had. But what he didn't know was what that something
was... or what it had done to her. Other than making her skittish of other people and afraid of touch.
His Lord sighed. It was a vaguely weary sound, one his Lord was rare to make. But He'd made it before, over centuries. Whenever
something happened that hurt God's heart. “Trista's parents separated when she was still young, too young to remember
the fights that accompanied every conversation.” That sounded good to Arrian. “However,” his Lord continued,
“her mother is... cruel, and without true conscience. She got custody over Trista.” That sounded extremely bad.
“She beat Trista almost every day, sometimes repeatedly.”
“Why?” Arrian breathed. He felt an unknown pain swell inside his chest.
His Lord was saddened by the mother's actions, sad about what had occurred to Trista. “For whatever reason she found.
She did not have the patience to raise her daughter with love.”
Arrian's breath shuddered as he reconsidered all of Trista's actions. Her fear, her distrust. Specifically her tension after
he touched her. “How can she smile?”
This brought a small smile to his Lord's lips. “Because she has incredible strength.”
“Strength?” Arrian echoed.
“Yes,” his Lord said. “She has the belief that she can continue, and the will to continue on the right path.
These had been enforced through her childhood, though she does not remember the ordeal.”
“Doesn't remember?” Arrian couldn't imagine forgetting such experiences. “How could she not?”
“To try to protect herself,” his Lord said, “she closed off all memories of the incident. That way, her
will to forge a new past, one she can look back on with pride, could be formed.”
Arrian's heart seemed to tear. “But...as of now...”
“Yes. She has lost all hope.”
Arrian struggled to understand. “Then... how is she...”
“Still alive?” his Lord finished for him. Arrian nodded. “She wants to believe that there is something out
there, something more than what she has seen. Something like you.”
“And so, what you are doing now is exactly what you should. Being her friend. Staying close to her.” His Lord
smiled. “My dear Arrian. I believe without a doubt that you will Save Trista. And in doing so, you will save hundreds
Arrian felt the weight on his shoulders, but strangely did not feel burdened. Instead... he wanted to do it. He wanted to
save Trista. Now. Right away. “Thank you, my Lord.”
“My dear Arrian,” his Lord whispered as he left, “you are a bright star.”
And his Lord left him once again.
Arrian stood and smiled, stretching his wings and looking around the small room. He would trust his Lord's words, and he would
stay close to Trista. Somehow, the idea of doing so lightened his heart.
He hardly heard the students outside his door as he began working on his mathematics homework.
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