Authors note: This was a story I wrote ages ago and recently found again. I thought, what the heck. Feedback welcome.
Damian relaxed slightly but couldn't shake the feeling of trepidation as he and his angel flew down the empty highway. Thoughts of his angel elicited a genuine smile. She wasn't an angel, of course, any more than he was. She could have been, he thought guiltily. She should have been. She had given it up to come with him, and he'd never quite been able to make sense of it.
Mile after long mile lay before and behind them. On their twin motorcycles, cobbled together from spare parts, they rode aimlessly. Damian loved the motorcycles; they represented something important to him. He and Selina had worked together to build them, because she had refused to believe that the fight was over. Initially depressed on their arrival, Damian had been ready to surrender to everything and anything that came across their paths. Selina had said no. Purgatory it might be, but hope must never be lost. Or else it was no longer Purgatory but Hell.
They had talked while building the bikes. About each other, about their pasts, about whatever hopes and dreams they may have had. Damian had confessed his hatred of his alcoholic parents who had cared more for their booze than for him and his sisters. He told Selina about being locked out of the house so they couldn't disturb his mother while she snored in front of her soap operas.
Determined not to be beaten, he had gone to the neighbors for food for himself and May and Elisa innumerable times. When there was no other choice, he stole. The scar on his right temple was the result of a fight between Damian and a much larger boy when the former was about thirteen. Damian, incensed by the boy's insults to his sisters, had launched himself upon him. After flinging his attacker off, the boy had pulled out a small knife. Some teachers had separated them, but not before Damian had given the boy two black eyes and received a gash himself.
That, Damian told her, had taught him that loyalty was the only quality worth anything in the world, and that it was hard to come by. No one had joined him in that fight, not one of those who had claimed to be a friend. None had offered an apology, or even an explanation. In the few years following the encounter, Damian had demanded loyalty from his acquaintances—and offered it. The one person who had truly understood him was Jim. Or had he? Were it not for Jim, he and Selina might not be here now. She might have her wings.
Selina watched Damian as he rode in front of her, his broad shoulders visibly tense. She drank in his form as he sat with back straight, his long legs comfortably braced against the footrests. No doubt his piercing gray eyes were fixed on the horizon. The wind pushed his dark brown hair back from his face, exposing the slightly tan, angular face. They didn't wear helmets; what was the point?
Looking around, Selina noted that the flat, barren landscape had a stark beauty all its own. The few trees they saw were bare of leaves. Patches of grass invaded the stony ground here and there. There were no animals. It was haunting. It inspired awe, but not any sense of happiness. Would either of them ever be happy? she wondered. She considered herself happy because she was with Damian, but was there more? What would it be like to be together on their own, instead of feeling all the time that they were being watched?
She brought her attention back to the road. Damian had slowed and hit the blinker. Selina turned hers on and flashed her headlight.
Catching the light, Damian realized that he had not expected the confirmation. He had assumed that she would follow him. Had she not responded, and had something happened to her, he would not have noticed until it was much too late. It wasn't right, he thought to himself, that he should take her for granted like that. She had proven herself an unexpected ally and later a true friend. For all that and more, he loved her. He would tell her so when they stopped, if only to remind himself.
They found a secluded area at the foot of a mountain, not far from the road. Unpacking the gear they had managed to scavenge on their travels, they set up a small tent and sleeping bags and a couple of blankets. Inside, they both sat on the sleeping bags and began to shuck off layers of clothing. Purgatory was an odd place, with extremes of hot and cold, and all the temperatures in between. Damian quickly shed his jacket and reached to help Selina with hers.
"What brought on this act of chivalry?" Selina asked with a tentative smile. For a moment, Damian said nothing, just slid his arms around her and held her tightly.
"Selina." His voice was hoarse. "I ... I'm sorry ... I love you so much." Much to his surprise, he was choked with emotion, and buried his face in her long blonde hair.
Surprised, Selina remained quiet, leaning back against him and covering his hands with her own. Gently, she said, "What, Damian? You're sorry that you love me?"
"Oh, no, never." He released her so that he could move to face her and found himself staring at her eyes. They were a deep green, the most beautiful he'd ever seen. In her finely drawn face, they were easily the dominant feature. "It's just that I realized earlier, when we were turning off the road, that I take you for granted. It isn't right." He pulled her close again. "Sometimes I'm surprised that you came with me, but I'm always so glad that you did."
He kissed her deeply. Selina matched him all the way. At last she pulled away to ask, "Wouldn't it be more comfortable if we were lying down?" with a sly smile. Damian laughed and fell backward, pulling her with him.
They managed to shuffle off the rest of their clothes and burrow into the covers, their bodies the only source of heat in a cold world.
Damian whispered words of love as he kissed her lips and her neck. He sighed as her hands moved over his body, drawing him as close as possible. He took her hands in his to still them, and lowered his lips to her breasts, making her gasp. "Please, Damian, please," she murmured.
When he released her hands, she stroked his arms and sides while he slid his hands further down her body. He groaned when he found her ready for him. Forcing himself to wait longer, he gently brought her to climax with his hand. Urged on by her cries, he moved over her and slid inside her, biting his lip against the pleasure.
They made love as long as they could, shutting out the past and postponing tomorrow as the world became only them.
"Selina?" he said softly. It was pitch black both inside the tent and out. Sometimes he felt more comfortable talking when he didn't have to see the expression on her face. He feared seeing regret.
"Mmmm?" she answered. She lay with her head on his shoulder, holding his free hand. His other arm snaked around her shoulders, keeping her close.
"Selina, why did you do it?" Although he tried to sound casual, his emotions ran wild as he awaited her answer.
"I've told you before. It was wrong. I decided that even if it was too late, I had to say something ... do something. After all, that's what you were doing."
"But wouldn't you have done something similar later? Wouldn't you have noticed another situation and acted the same way?"
"I don't know. I don't think so." Selina paused. "If you hadn't caught their attention, there wouldn't have been any reason for me, or anyone else, to jump in. There wouldn't have been anything to notice."
Damian arrived in Transition and immediately caused a controversy. He hadn't intended it that way. He had, in fact, been stunned nearly speechless when he had come to Transition not long after Jim. Jim, who had jumped off the cliff as if he could fly while Damian watched. Hurt and betrayed, Damian had drunk himself blind and driven his motorcycle straight into the side of a truck.
He now found himself at the trident of the afterlife. There were three doors, all black, standing out against the white that rose to a point he couldn't see and merged with the white under his feet, forming the room in which he found himself. He was standing in a line of people. In front of the line were three black paths. Each person was directed to one of the paths by a faceless, robed ... person? He assumed they were people; they looked human enough. Most people were directed to the leftmost door.
He spied Jim in front of him in the line, only three or four people separating them. He wanted to cut ahead, but somehow he couldn't. The atmosphere of the place forbade such an action. So he stood still, listening carefully. All the anger was gone. Jim had not meant to betray him. Jim had just looked around at his world and saw no reason to go on. Damian understood. He had come so close himself, so many times.
Damian watched as Jim, wearing the same jeans, t-shirt and sneakers as the last time Damian had seen him, stepped up to the front of the line to receive direction. Damian had to strain to hear the word, "Hell." Before he knew what he was doing, he stepped out of line and called, "Wait! Send me with him."
All heads in the place turned to him, including those about to pass through the doors. A blonde-haired woman, about to pass into Purgatory, stopped and stepped back to watch when the astonishing request was made.
"Send me with him," Damian repeated to the faceless, hooded figure who now stood before him. "He's my friend, I won't let him go alone." He glanced at Jim. Jim stood, speechless, his hand digging into his mop of black hair. His features were taut with anger, or perhaps fear; Damian couldn't tell which.
.... There is more of this story ...