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Israfil's Future

CELESTIAL JUSTICE 3

Serena Yates

Published by Silver Publishing Publisher of Erotic Romance

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Dedication

To those who believe there is more to justice than the strict interpretation of the lawwhether in Heaven or on Earth.

Israfil's Future
Chapter One

Serena Yates

"Where is that report about the incompetent Christmas angel? It is more than overdue, and the judicial panel is getting very impatient." The booming voice made Israfil flinch. His evaluation of the case was late and now all his colleagues in the open plan office knew about it. Luckily, there were not that many left this late in the celestial day, but it only took one to spread rumors about his inability to do a perfect job. Competition amongst celestial law officers was fierce, and certain ones among them would use any perceived weakness in others to make themselves look more capable. After all, not all of them could become detective angels. "Coming right up." Israfil kept his voice low, even though he wanted to shout. He hated having to check on other angels. Especially in this case. The decision had already been made to let Junior Guardian Araton go, since he had been awarded leniency by a higher level of jurisdiction. But was that good enough for the judicial panel? Apparently not. They wanted to make sure all angles were covered, so they had requested an internal investigation. He had not found anything untoward in the handling
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of Araton's case. Initially, he had felt for Dexter, the human who had been paralyzed due to Araton's moment of inattention. But that part of the case had now been solved as well, so there were no loose ends left. Israfil closed the file with an exasperated sigh, quickly masking the irreverent sound with a fluttering of his wings designed to pretend he was stretching. He hated all this bureaucratic shit that came with his job as a police angel. Humans thought their bureaucracy was bad? They did not have a clue. Celestial bureaucracy had them beat by light years. After all, it had been around for much longer, and was now so refined it might drive an archangel insane. Of course, those higher angels would never admit to a feeling so far below them. Some of them were more stuck up about their so-called superiority than should be allowed. Why were there no laws against that? Israfil snorted as he dispatched the file with a flick of his hand. It would appear on his superior's desk in the celestial morning. It was not his place to think about these things, or so he had been told. Never one to give up just because someone said he should, he had kept his protests and revolutionary thoughts to himself. He had been designated an officer of celestial law at his creation, so he performed those duties to the best of his ability. But
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thoughts or censor him for them.

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nobody, other than possibly the Big Guy, could read his Time to enjoy the rest period. He had stayed in the office for much too long already. He rose and nodded to the others who remained. About to leave, the booming voice interrupted him again. "Senior Officer Israfil, please report to my office immediately." What now? Mere minutes later he wished he had left the office faster so someone else would have ended up with the new assignment his boss had handed him. Apparently, another infraction against celestial law was about to happen, and this time the judicial panel was not taking any risks. They wanted an officer of celestial law present, ready to interrupt the proceedings if the participants went too far, and arrest them if needed. As far as his understanding of celestial law went, intervening in anyones exercise of free will was highly irregular. Punishment after an infraction was to be expected, but sentient beings had a choice about what they did. When he had mentioned this objection his boss had frowned and replied that he was not a lawyer, so he should stop thinking. It was his job to follow orders, not question
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his superiors.

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Israfil had shrugged and made his way to Flagstaff, Arizona, Earth. One senior guardian angel named Zuriel was about to be very, very surprised. Israfil did not even want to think about the reaction of his alleged lover, one Luke Yarber. **** Israfil had arrived in a bedroom containing dark wooden furniture, a massive bed with two nightstands against one wall, and a wardrobe and dresser against the other. A window looked out on a garden, and an open door in the fourth wall led to what must be a bathroom. While it was unusual to be transported straight into a suspect's presence like this, that was not what had him rubbing at his eyes in disbelief. He stood stock still, taking in the scene playing out before his incredulous eyes. There were two men on the bed, heavily engaged in some very carnal activities. One of them was Zuriel, but he did not behave like an angel. Well, technically he had apparently been made human on a temporary basis, to live out one human lifetime, but that was no excuse for the heavy panting going on.
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Zuriel lay on his back, the second man, Luke, looming above him as he pushed his thick cock inside the unresisting angel-human. Tightening his grip on Zuriel's shoulders at the same time as the angel-human gripped his ass cheeks, he proceeded to fuck his partner with an increasingly frightening speed. It was extremely arousing to watch, and no matter how much Israfil tried to will away his excitement, he did not succeed. Why the hell did celestial bodies have the capacity to be aroused, just like humans', if they were not supposed to have sexual needs and feelings? "Ahhhh!" Zuriel pushed his head back into the bed, eyes wild as his legs started to tremble. "Yeah." Luke grinned and sped up even more. The two lovers stared into each other's eyes, and Israfil shook with the emotion he could feel between them. He never realized having sex could be so intense. Suddenly, Zuriel stilled as he spurted hot semen between their bellies as he came. Luke followed him within seconds, shuddering as he came inside his lovers body. He collapsed on top of Zuriel for a few seconds before pulling out of his still-shaking lover, disposing of the condom, and grabbing some tissues to clean up both of them. Israfil stood rooted to the spot, so aroused he was
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almost ready to orgasm himself. Shit, but that was hot. He shook his head. He could not allow himself to be distracted. He had been sent here to do a job, and by not stopping the lovers he had already failed. Zuriel having sex while human was an unforgiveable act. He would never become an angel again. Did he not know that? The two men turned onto their sides and were resting in each other's arms, their legs entangled as they whispered who knew what to each other. Israfil shook himself out of his aroused stupor, straightened his dark blue robe and spread his wings, making sure the blue light that announced his presence permeated the entire room. He added some of the thunder that seemed to impress most humans for good measure. He should have acted much sooner, but watching the two men go at it had clearly affected his ability to do his job. It was high time he rectified that. "You did not think you would get away with this unpunished, did you?" His voice sounded harsher than he had intended. "What the hell?" Luke shot up into a sitting position, pulled Zuriel with him, and glared at Israfil. "Who are you?" "He must be an officer of celestial law." Zuriel
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police angel, I guess you'd call him."

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clung to his lover, eyes wide and entire body shaking. "A "How did he get in here?" Luke's breathing slowed down only gradually. "Your human brain is unable to grasp the exact procedure. Let me assure you, it was not as difficult as you imagine." He sneered. How dare this human tempt Zuriel into behaving so irresponsibly? It threatened the angelhuman's entire existence. "Is it even legal for you to just enter here? Don't you guys have warrants and the decency to knock on someone's door?" Luke was formidable, even naked and only covered with a sheet. Israfil would have loved to have someone as courageous in his corner. "Uhm, it's not wise to aggravate an officer of celestial law by questioning their motives or approach." Zuriel looked positively mortified. "They're very powerful." "Indeed we are." He drew himself up to his full height. The tips of his wings almost brushed the small rooms walls. "As for warrants and other types of administrative requirements, you can rest assured that procedure was followed to the letter. I would not be here if
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it had not been. Knocking on someone's door is a human concept and does not need to be followed in cases of severe transgressions such as this." "Severe transgressions?" Lukes eyebrows rose. "What did we do?" "Lack of repentance will not improve your situation." He stared at them, angry beyond belief about the human's stupidity. "Look, I'm not ready to discuss any potential repentance yet. I'm just trying to figure out what we're being accused of." Luke frowned. "You dare to question the validity of the charges?" Israfil's eyebrows rose high enough to make his forehead hurt with the strain. "Uhm, not a good idea." Zuriel's voice sounded timid. "Man, what is it with you celestial and ex-celestial types? I'm not questioning anythingyet. I just want to know what the fuck we're being accused of!" Lukes face reddened. "Swearing will not be counted in your favor." He shook his head. Unbelievable. Luke rolled his eyes. "As for what you are being accused of, Zuriel will
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know. But for your benefit I will put it into words even a human can understand." He raised his right hand and pointed an accusing finger at them. "You engaged in forbidden levels of physical intimacy!" Luke's jaw dropped. Israfil attempted to stare him down. Surely he will understand that? "I don't want to lose you." Zuriel clung to Luke. "Why would you lose me?" Luke looked at his lover. "Is it not obvious?" Israfils voice rose. "No, it really isn't. I wouldn't be asking if I got it, would I?" Luke shook his head. "As far as I understood, Zuriel was sent here to live a human lifespan, as a human, so he could experience emotions and, presumably, make emotional connections. Why is it suddenly an offense worthy of punishment now that he actually starts to do so?" "Because he was sent here to learn about emotions, not physical relationships!" He could only stare at them in utter disbelief. "Well, I've got news for you: for humans, the two generally go hand in hand, unless you're talking platonic relationships or love within a family unit." Luke glared right back. "Neither of those are applicable to the two of us.
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We're not related and nobody, not even Counselor Elemiah, said anything about our relationship being limited in any way. In fact, he didn't mention it at all." "Because it was obvious!" Israfil could feel his face heating up. "Well, it wasn't obvious to me, and nobody explained it either. Never mind that I don't think it's right to exclude certain types of emotions or relationships from the spectrum available for experience." Luke looked at Zuriel, who still had not moved. "It is not up to me to make that decision. It is my job to apprehend you so I can return you to Heaven where you will face the judicial panel. They will decide the details of your punishment." He lifted his hand to initiate their transport to the appropriate holding area. "What? We've already been found guilty without so much as anyone listening to our side of the story?" Lukes fist hit the bed. Two things happened at once. Israfil could not move his hand any farther. An invisible force held him immobile. That could mean only one thing, and it did not bode well for him. A bright white light filled the room, completely drowning out the blue originating from him. The brightness
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came from nowhere specific and spread into every corner, permeating not just the entire room but illuminating the entire house. Oh, shit! His eyes widened before they rolled up in his head and everything went black. **** Israfil came to with a start. He had no idea what had happened, but it looked and felt suspiciously as if he had fainted. As far as he knew, angels never did. The circumstances had been decidedly abnormal, however. He groaned at the memory of the two men engaged in full-on sex that had aroused him to the point where he wished he had a partner himself. And if that was not blasphemy, he did not know what was. It seemed suspicious that the Big Guy had appeared, since it did not happen all that often in recent Earth history. It was also highly embarrassing and a very bad sign for him. This level of intervention from above was unheard of in recent centuries. Israfil sighed as he started an attempt to pry open his strangely resisting eyes. Why did this have to happen on
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his watch? He did not look forward to the consequences that were surely about to descend on him. And why the hell did his eyes not want to open? He lay on his back, but the surface felt softer than the floor of the bedroom he remembered being in. It was an energy surface, from what he could sense, so he must be back in Heaven. But where am I? His angelic sense of orientation was woefully absent. He felt totally exposed without it. And who had moved him? All his senses were somewhat muddled. Nothing sounded, smelled, or felt like it should. Is this a side effect of fainting? With a concerted effort, he finally tore open his eyes. "There you are." A deep voice came from his left. He was not alone! He turned his head fast enough to make his neck muscles hurt with the strain. A tall, imposing angel with a wingspan twice that of an archangel sat in an easy chair a few feet away. The other angel looked beautiful enough to be at least an archangel. A quick glance around revealed he was in some sort of an office, brightly lit via several pseudo skylights. There was no desk, but two walls were covered in bookshelves. One corner contained the sofa he was lying on, a few easy chairs and a low table with two mugs containing steaming
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hot tea. Earl Grey, if he was not mistaken. Apparently his sense of smell had returned. A collection of colorful beanbags and a wealth of soft rugs in the other corner made the office feel comfortablealmost like Lukes home. Candles, currently unlit, decorated every available horizontal surface. Abstract art, the kind that made him tilt his head to try and figure out what it depicted, completed the picture. Two angels in white coats, looking suspiciously like human doctors, stood near the door. Israfil blinked. Do angels even have doctors? He swallowed, accepting the evidence before his eyes as truth. One of the doctors stared at him intensely; a scrutiny Israfil could feel penetrated every energy whirl of his celestial body. Angels might be almost indestructible, but apparently he was under suspicion of having some defect. "He is fine now." One of the doctors looked at the angel in the easy chair and nodded. "No reason to worry, my mental probing has revealed that he will make a full recovery." "I would still like to know what got him into this state," the second doctor grumbled. "Client/counselor privilege, I am afraid," The seated angel smiled. "I am grateful that you checked him out,
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happen. Thank you."

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though. One can never be too sure when these things "You are welcome." The first doctor nodded again, turned on his heels and left, pulling the second one with him. The counselor waved the energy barrier between the office and the outside into its opaque state, giving them some privacy. Oh joy. Israfil hated all that psychological mumbojumbo. So far, he had only seen it happen amongst humans, but apparently angels were not exempt. He wished he would not be subjected to it now, but he had not been asked. It looked as if his reprieve was over, and punishment came in the form of counseling. "Now, first things first." The counselor smiled. "My name is Gazadriel, and as you may have deducted, I am a counselor. I am the angel of new beginnings, and my specialty is spiritual and other awakenings." Oh, man. Gazadriel frowned slightly, as if he had heard Israfil's thought. Shit, maybe he has? "Do you need my help to sit up? I would prefer to have this conversation with you sitting across from me, and I am happy to help." Gazadriel leaned forward and held out
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a million questions." He does not know the half of it.

Serena Yates

a hand. "I know you have been through a lot and must have

"I can manage." The words came out more gruffly than he intended, but he was not going to admit that he might need help. Instead, he pulled himself up, only just suppressing a groan of discomfort. While he did not hurt in any specific location, his entire body had been affected by whatever had happened. He was still dizzy. "Wonderful." Gazadriel either did not notice, or ignored, his discomfort, which was fine by him. "Are you going to answer my questions, or are we jumping straight into the counseling?" Israfil straightened his robe, got himself a cup of tea and sat back to sip it. Its rich aroma rose to his nose and this alone revived him more than he was willing to admit. The first sip tasted absolutely delicious. "This may surprise you, but my kind of counseling consists of answering questions. Well, mostly." Gazadriel grinned. "I may have to ask the occasional one myself, but mostly we are here to discover what it is you need." "Huh?" He had been expecting a judicial panel, an investigation, or even some sort of immediate punishment. The fact that he had failed could not be denied.
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"I thought that might surprise you." Gazadriel picked up his own cup of tea and took a few sips, looking thoughtful. "Let me try and clarify. The traditional system of dealing with your situation has been circumvented. Apparently, there are higher interests at stake. Your boss, the internal investigations committee, and the judicial panel have all been told to back off. Instead, the Big Guy has made a decision about what is next for you in order to maximize the learning you will take from your existence." "That does not really clarify anything for me." He shook his head, trying to clear it. If the Big Guy himself was involved, his fainting was no surprise. Exposure to those levels of celestial power could have a major effect. He worried about being in the limelight, so to speak, to this degree. "What do 'higher interests' have to do with the fact that I did not fulfill my mission of stopping Zuriel from committing a cardinal sin?" "It means that in the scheme of things, as seen by the Big Guy himself, the fact that you did not fulfill your mission is neither a surprise nor a problem." Gazadriel shrugged. "Middle management, or the judicial panel, as you know them, would apply the letter of the law in this case as they have in many others. Rather than waste everyone's time in a process that would surely lead to a
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decided to step in immediately."

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conviction, which would only be appealed, the Big Guy "And this is a good thing?" How could following due process be wrong? He could see how it might save time and energy, and it may have saved him from immediate punishment, but interest from that high up would definitely not make his life any easier. The booming chuckle that seemed to come from everywhere was extremely disconcerting. A shiver of dread ran down his spine. Gazadriel just grinned and picked up his tea. "We will have to wait and see. I cannot say that I fully understand what is going on, but I have been told that your existence is going to change drastically, and I am here to prepare you as best I can." Gazadriel sipped his tea, probably waiting for questions. He did not even know where to start. "Your mission, as relayed by the highest power, is to 'get a life', as he put it." Gazadriel grinned, clearly enjoying this far too much. "You are a very good police angel, but your spiritual development has not progressed for a few decades. If you want to advance to a higher level of understanding, possibly obtain a promotion, you need to understand what it is to be human."
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"What does that mean?" He had no idea what he could possibly learn from humans, but there was very little he could do about the situation. "It means that you will be sent to Earth to give you the opportunity to explore a life outside your current realm of experience. Only once you understand all the alternatives, and what they mean, will you be able to make a meaningful choice about your future." Gazadriel winked. "Personally, I quite envy you the opportunity." "I will be sent to Earth? As what?" He was more confused than ever. The only job he knew how to do was being a police angel. He could not possibly be expected to continue doing that once on Earth. "I am not allowed to reveal that. Apparently it would defeat the purpose of the exercise." Gazadriel shrugged. "I will say this. Dealing with an unknown situation is not new to you. How you apply your abilities outside your job will determine the outcome for your own development, as well as this mission." He snorted. Yeah, why give the poor guy being sent to risk his head enough information? It was possibly another universal constant, just like that of bureaucracy being more important than getting things done. "Let me warn you, you will be fully human for the
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too easy otherwise."

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duration of your visit." Gazadriel smiled. "It would be far He shook his head. This sounded an awful lot like punishment to him.

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Chapter Two

Serena Yates

Chris Newman stared at the new schedule the admin department had sent him. Apparently they wanted him to run a course on Introduction to Statistics in Psychology for the first five-week summer session, a different course for the second, equally short session, plus two online courses. Were they crazy? Damn, summer semester will be a bitch to teach. He sighed as he put the offending piece of paper onto his cluttered desk. Maybe it would get lost underneath the stack of spring term papers that were still waiting to be marked. He grinned at his wistfulness. Even if that were possible, his overdeveloped sense of duty would never let it happen. He'd gone into teaching to help others become better at whatever career they had chosen, and he wasn't going to let his boss down. Not even if it killed him. The man depended on him, and that ended that discussion. It did make him wonder why he hadn't taken the summer off like most of his colleagues. Hadn't he gotten into teaching so he could have summers offas well as have more vacation days than the average American the rest of the year? He'd fully intended to this year, but his colleague Rose had begged him to stay on so she could be
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with her three children. Her husband had recently died in a car accident, and she desperately wanted to spend some time with them. How could he say no to that? "I don't like that look on your face." Martin walked into his office without knocking, as usual. He was a great friend, but his understanding of personal space did not agree with most other people's. At six feet he may have been the same height as Chris, but he had wider shoulders, a good fifty pounds on him in sheer muscle mass, and his presence could be overpowering. Dark hair and eyes, a permanent five o'clock shadow, and a ruggedly handsome face made many think he was a biker rather than a professor of educational science. "What look?" Chris knew he couldnt escape the telling off he was about to get, but he had to try. "The one that says you've accepted more work than you feel comfortable with." Martin plunked his powerful body into one of the much too small visitor chairs afforded each professor at Buffalo Community College, making the plastic contraption squeak in protest. "Maybe more than any normal human being would think is even possible for one person to do." Busted! Chris blushed. He knows me too well. "Am I right, or am I right?" Martin attempted a
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scowl, but his eyes were twinkling. Chris nodded.

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"So, who duped you into it this time?" Martin leaned forward, increasing the chair's squeaky protests to worrying levels. "No suckering was required." Chris sat up straight, ready to defend himself. "You know Rose needs all the time with her kids that she can give them. Theres no way I could have insisted on her taking the summer term, even though it was her turn this year." "Awww man, that just sucks." Martin rubbed his face. "I can see how turning her down was impossible. Shit!" "My thoughts exactly." He was so exhausted from teaching nonstop for almost three years, and he had really looked forward to a fourteen-week break. Well, minus a couple of weeks of prep time for the fall semester. But how was he supposed to put his own needs above Rose's and her children's? "And there's nobody else who can take the courses for you?" Martin looked hopeful. "Not all four." He shook his head. Nobody else with his experience or seniority had been trained to do the online courses anyway.
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they nuts?"

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"Four?" Martin's eyebrows rose. "In ten weeks? Are "Well, thats what they need covered. Apparently, student numbers for the summer sessions are way up because everyone wants to get their degrees done more quickly, considering the bad economy. The less money spent on covering food and rent the better." Chris shrugged. "And Ive covered the material before, so prep will be minimal." "Yeah, but still." Martin shook his head and sat back. The chair crunched in an ominous way. "You need a vacation as much as the next guy." "True, but I'm not going to get one this summer." He glanced at the impossible schedule again. Nope, it hadn't changed, still showing all four classes as his. "The four weeks between spring and summer semester are going to have to do." "But those don't qualify!" Martin looked outraged. "It's not long enough, for one, even if it were the full four weeks. Which it won't be, since you'll be spending at least half that time preparing the lesson plans for the summer classes." "True, but there's no point complaining about it. I'll just grin and bear it." Chris logged off, stuffed the papers
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awaiting his reading into his briefcase and looked at his friend. "Now, about that drink we were going to get?" "Sure." Martin didn't look happy, but a few beers were sure to change that. "As long as we can go to some decent place, not the seedy bars you seem to prefer." "What's wrong with them?" Chris loved frequenting 'less perfect' bars, as he called them. At least he got to see some real people there, not academics like himself, or students. He interacted with the likes of them all day. "They might be dangerous to our health, if we're not careful." Martin laughed and rose, following him outside through the now deserted corridors, and out to the staff parking lot. "Nah, never." He grinned as he thumbed his car open. "We've always been careful. And at least we'll never be bored." "As if anyone could be bored with you around." Martin shook his head and slipped into the passenger seat. It was his friend's turn to drink during their traditional Friday night outing. Chris chuckled ruefully. How he wished Martin were right. His friend was the only person he knew who didn't think him boring. Everyone else thought he was a workaholic, which was true, and gave up on him. Would
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that ever change?

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"This time it's my turn to pick a place, right?" Martin buckled himself in before rubbing his hands in anticipation. "Yep." Chris started the engine. "So, where are we going?" "I found this great new place, called the Lucky Cavern. It's on North Beaver Street, just south of Columbus Avenue." Martin's eyes shone. "Checked it out with a biker buddy of mine, and he recommends it. Apparently, they have a great selection of beer." "The Lucky Cavern?" Chris shook his head as he maneuvered the car out of the parking lot. "How the hell do they come up with these names?" **** "Are you sure this is safe?" Chris parked the car and stared at the place that took 'seedy to a new level. More bikes than cars graced the lot, the patrons looked as if they had just escaped from prison or were headed there, and the building was in very bad repair. "Perfectly okay." Martin slapped him on the shoulder with bone-crushing force. "After all, you've got
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me to protect you."

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As interesting as this hobby of his might be, maybe this was going a bit far. This might be the first time he thought he might need Martins help, but still. Oh well, he felt adventurous right now. He might be stuck with an awful schedule at work, but his free time still belonged to him. They got out of the car and walked in, miraculously unmolested by the rough types hanging around outside to smoke. Inside wasn't much better. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the half-light. A large bar area dominated one wall, and despite all the inviting bar stools, only one man sat there. But what a man: tall, dark and handsome didn't begin to describe him. Over six feet of what appeared to be well-trained muscles, broad shoulders and long dark hair all looked attractive enough, but the confidence and charisma he oozed from every pore of his amazing body made him almost irresistible. Deep blue eyes rounded off the picture nicely. Not that they got more than a quick glance from the stranger. He returned to his beer immediately, seeming intent on getting drunk, the way he guzzled it down. Chris and Martin took a seat at one of the tables on the wall opposite the bar and ordered a beer for Martin and
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a soda for Chris. All other patrons were also sitting at tables, clearly giving the man at the bar a wide berth as well. Hm, this might be interesting. Chris had finished about half his drink and was in the middle of a discussion about college politics with Martin when another man walked in. He was around six feet tall, had long, tousled, ginger blond hair and the most unusual green eyes. Slender but well-toned, he wasn't overly muscular and was most definitely in the wrong place with his delicate face, high cheekbones and porcelain skin. He had an ethereal quality about him that would have made Chris place him in a museum or maybe a church, if anywhere. What an odd thought. The second stranger looked around the room for a few moments as if he expected to meet someone here. Apparently not having found who he was looking for, he turned his gaze toward the bar. He noticed the first stranger there and relaxed. He took a seat two stools to the right and stared at the man. No order for a drink, no looks at anyone else, just staring at stranger number one. How very entertaining! Chris loved watching people, par for the course,
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really, being a psychologist. These two had a lot of electricity between them, enough for even Martin to notice. Now he observed them as well. It almost seemed as if they were heading for a hookup, but something was off. Chris couldn't put his finger on it, so he kept watching them on and off over the next ten minutes, trying not to be obvious. Sure enough, the two started talking a little later. Chris was too far away to understand what they were saying, but their body language gave a lot of clues to a trained observer like him. Stranger one seemed aggressive, impatient and probably annoyed about the other guy staring at him. Stranger two was clearly surprised, but about what? Their argument went back and forth for a while. They were so engrossed in their conversation they didn't notice the three ugliest bikers in existence walk up to them. The bartender shrank back and fled the room so quickly, it was a wonder he didn't leave a cloud of dust behind. "Not good." Chris looked at Martin to check, and his friend looked to have the same reaction. "Nope, they're heading for trouble." Martin pulled out his cell phone. "Better get ready to call for help, should we need it." A few moments later stranger one started laughing
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and that was it. Fists flew between him and the three idiots who had started the fight, but stranger two stood glued to his spot, staring at the proceedings with wide eyes. He'd gone completely pale and was clearly in no condition to help. Martin called 911, and Chris was relieved to hear him give a very calm, concise description of what was happening. Moments later the sound of police sirens in the distance made the three thugs stop their assault for a moment. Seconds later they left the bar through the back exit, almost falling over each other in their haste to get away. Unbelievably, the two strangers had another little discussion before leaving as well. All had returned to normal by the time the police arrived, and since nobody was able, or willing, to identify the people who had been involved, the officers left to attend the next emergency. Not a bad way to spend an early evening! **** Three weeks later, the spring semester was over. Chris had spent the first two weeks of his four-week break working like an idiot to get all his preparations for the
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summer session done. Friday the thirteenth was his new lucky day, he decided, as he closed the files, logged off the computer, and grabbed his briefcase. Im finally out of here. Theyd decided to forego their usual Friday bar outing in favor of dinner, so he met Martin at a local steak house for a 'last meal' in civilization. He'd decided to go camping at Ashurst Lake, just southeast of Flagstaff, in the wonderful Coconino National Forest. One of the most remote campgrounds known to him made it ideal for his retreat. His tent and other equipment lay packed inside his house, waiting to be loaded into his car for an early Saturday start. So was a stack of books, safely ensconced in an extra backpack. He planned to do some fun reading, something he hadn't done in far too long. The meal was wonderful, the company great, and Martin swore he was sorry he couldn't join him. "You're not really the camping type, and I know that." Chris grinned. "Your plans to remodel your house and take a few 'civilized' day trips make a lot more sense for you." "But won't you be lonely?" Martin finished his coffee and leaned back in his chair, clearly well sated. "Nah, not likely. There will be other hikers there, and I don't need people around me all the time." Chris dug
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into his chocolate cake, for once not regretting the extra calories. He'd walk them off in no time. "There'll be more than enough people to talk to when I come back to do the summer sessions." "True." Martin shook his head. "Still, I hate the thought of you all alone in the wilderness." "It's not really wilderness as long as there are paths, other tourists, and rangers patrolling the area." "Oh, yes, about those rangers." Martin perked up. "Maybe one of them will be kind enough to keep you company?" Yeah, right! "I'm not exactly the type, you know?" What good-looking, ultra-fit ranger would be interested in him? Sure, he kept in shape, but he was nothing special. "And anyway, I thought the gay ranger was just wishful thinking?" "You never know." Martin smiled. "You just never know." "Okay, but I'm not holding my breath." He had no intention of suffocating, not if he could help it. He'd leave the hot scenarios with gay rangers in the realm of some of the romance books he planned to read. Things like that just didn't happen to boring college professors like him, not in real life at least.
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****

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A week later he felt a lot more relaxed. The fresh air, hiking and swimming every day, and eating simple, unprocessed foods was doing him a world of good. He awoke on Saturday morning of his second week, ready to jump up and start the day, and the sun hadn't even risen yet. He shook his head but grinned from ear to ear. Anxious to reacquaint himself with nature, he stuck his head out of his luxuriously large two-man tent and took a deep breath. Just the day for another long hike into the surrounding hills. The view of the San Francisco Peaks in the distance, painted pink and orange by the rising sun, was amazing. It made him wish he could paint, or at least take decent photos. Half an hour later he'd taken a quick morning swim in the still cold water that had been very refreshing. He dried off and got dressed, quickly downing a cup of instant coffee he'd made with hot water from the propane stove. It was one of the few luxuries he'd allowed himself for when there wasn't time for a real fire, or if conditions got too dry. He set off along one of the trails, enjoying the freedom of not having to discuss what he was going to do
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with anyone, or having to wait for someone else to be ready. He loved the mix of trees, mostly gnarled juniper trees and pinyon pines. There were too many different birds, small mammals, and countless insects to keep track of, but they made the forest come alive. An hour later he'd worked up a sweat and was ready for his first break. As he approached a small clearing a bright flash up ahead made him close his eyes to protect them against the unbelievable glare. A loud thunderclap, much like an explosion, was followed by a softer rolling and grumbling noise like bowling balls make rolling down the lane. Chris stopped walking and didn't move. Not yet even seven in the morning, the sky was clear, so how could there be a thunderstorm? Except it couldn't be a thunderstorm so close to the ground, could it? When nothing else happened after a few seconds he carefully opened one eye. The lighting level had returned to normal, so he opened the other. A strange bluish light seemed to come from the clearing between the trees, but it faded quickly enough for him to think he must have imagined it. Curious about what was going on and listening for any warnings, Chris took a step toward the clearing and
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waited. Still nothing.

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He took another step and heard a soft whimper. What the hell? He gathered all the courage he could find around himself like a protective cloak then moved forward until he could see into the clearing. He stopped breathing and stared at the apparition in front of him. A man lay in the middle of the clearing, in a circle of light that seemed to come from nowhere, yet acted like a spotlight directed on the stranger. He was on his side, his face pointed toward Chris and he was slightly curled in on himself. He seemed tall, looked very muscular, with amazing abs and the most well-formed thighs Chris had ever seen. He looked like one of those statues of Greek gods Chris had admired in museums and art books. He had blond, very short hair, his eyes were closed and he appeared to be sleeping. He was also naked. Completely and totally stark naked. Chris blinked several times and pinched himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming. What the hell is a naked man doing in the middle of the forest? Did the light and thunder just transport him here?
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Yeah, sure, if this were a sci-fi movie he'd be an alien who had just miraculously landed on Earth without a spaceship. Or been marooned here by higher-up aliens. Since this was real life, however, there had to be another explanation. Chris checked the surrounding trees for cameras. Maybe someone was making a movie here and had forgotten to tell the authorities and the campers? Nope, no cameras. The man whimpered again, starting to stir. Shit, why was he still standing here trying to figure out how the guy had gotten here? What if he needed help? Shouldnt that be more important than finding out where he came from, as interesting as that might be? Of course it is! With a few long steps Chris knelt down next to the naked stranger and slid two fingers along his neck to feel for a pulse. He breathed a sigh of relief when he found it. It was weak, but regular. What now? He didn't really know anything about First Aid, and the guy looked out of it enough to require major medical attention. There was no blood, and no visible wounds, but
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there might be internal damage. Their location was too remote to try calling 911. Even if he got through, he doubted they'd be able to get to them. Well, a helicopter might, but the situation might not justify one. The man was breathing and seemed okay, except he was still unconscious. Did he have a head injury? Chris slid his hand away from the strangers throat and cupped his cheek. His face was an interesting mix of beautiful, with dark blond eyebrows and lashes any woman would kill for, a straight nose and deep red lips. If his overall look werent so rugged, Chris might have called the face angelic. His skin had a soft golden hue, strengthening the strange impression Chris had of this man not being from this world. He stroked the man's cheek with his thumb and tried to figure out what to do. If he didn't wake up soon, Chris might need to leave him here and go for help. His whole being rebelled against leaving the man behind. But truly, what other choice did he have? The man moaned and moved his arms and legs in small jerky movements, as if he wasn't quite in control. When he finally opened his eyes, Chris was unable to stop himself from falling into them. They were the deepest, warmest brown he had ever seen. The stranger blinked and
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looked around. His eyes widened as he took in his surroundings before returning to look at Chris. He opened his mouth and tried to speak, but no sound came out. He closed his mouth, cleared his throat and tried again. "Where am I?" "Coconino National Forest, near Ashurst Lake." Chris pointed toward the lake. "About five miles that way." "Who are you?" The man frowned. "My name is Chris Newman and I teach psychology at Buffalo Community College in Flagstaff." He smiled, hoping the man would tell him something about himself in return. "What am I doing here? Do you need help?" The frown on the stranger's face deepened. "Do I need help?" Chris almost laughed, but the other man looked so serious. He was clearly struggling to understand what was going on. He was also clearly not joking. "I think maybe you need help." "Me?" The man laughed. "But I never need help." He sure looks like he does from where I'm sitting! But denial was a powerful force. "I think you may want to reconsider that statement." Chris tilted his head. "Whats your name? Do you know?"
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hesitating for a second. "Its Israfil."

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"Of course I know my name." The man frowned,

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Chapter Three

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Something was very, very wrong. Israfil had been sure he knew his name, but it had still taken him a few seconds to actually remember it. He tried to remember where hed come from but all he got was a headache. A solid brick wall seemed to prevent him from accessing his memories. The odd fog in his brain made him feel as though he didn't have complete access to his senses. He tried to sit up to get a better view of his location. It all felt rather strange, very 'real'. Huh. Apparently, hed expected clean energy surfaces. A vague memory of his first encounter with natural materials like rock and trees surfaced. Their rougher texture against his body had been tantalizing, exciting, and he'd been reprimanded for lingering. It had been on his very first assignment to Earth. Is that where he was now? The soft grass underneath his body told him that might be the case. But his body didnt feel right. He was dizzy, even though he hadn't moved. He tried to shift. A jolt of agonizing pain raced from his head down his spine and all his extremities. That couldnt be right. He shouldn't be able to feel physical pain. What the hell is going on?
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help.

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"Are you okay?" Chris reached out to him as if to He shook his head, too overwhelmed to speak Ouch. No moving for a while. "I justI think you need a doctor, but I don't know how to get one for you." Chris sighed and sat back on his heels. "I'm so sorry I can't be more helpful." "It's okay." Something told him he would recover on his own. "I'll be fine, just give me a few minutes." Chris looked doubtful but nodded, still watching him closely. Israfil smiled. He liked this man watching him. Intense brown eyes were set in a boyish-looking face, while short brown hair, which was too long in front, covered a high forehead. The man wore jeans and a T-shirt, but well defined muscles were visible all over his body. He looked at Chris and his stomach fluttered. Wow. Unusual and a little strange, but very nice. He frowned as another memory surfaced. He'd been in someone's bedroom, looking at two men on a bed, lovingly staring into each other's eyes as they had sex. He'd watched them and had felt aroused, but it hadn't been a physical sensation like the one Chris made him feel. His body hadn't been equipped to deal with that. So what had
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changed?

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The brick wall around his memories hadnt disappeared, and no matter how hard he pushed, he couldn't get it to move. His headache got worse though, and not being able to deal with that, he backed off. The memories had bubbled up of their own accord, so maybe there'd be more if he gave it some time. To divert his attention, he looked around as much as possible from his position on his side. They were in the middle of a forest. But instead of buzzing and shining with their life force, the trees, other plants and small animals all seemed oddlyflat. As if there was a dimension missing when he looked at them. Sounds had the same problem. He could hear the birdsong, the insects buzzing and the wind rustling the leaves, but it all sounded muted, as if he wore earplugs. As for his sense of direction, which always told him exactly where he was in relation to everyone and everything else, it seemed to be completely missing. He didnt like that feeling one bit. "Israfilis a very unusual name." Chris smiled hesitantly. Silence was probably not something the man was comfortable with. "Is it?" He shook his head, trying to clear the fog.
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Big mistake, the pain returned within seconds and much worse than before. But there was something about his namesomething odd. The association that had popped up in his head was that of the angel of judgment day. What the hell had whoever had named him been thinking? "I don't remember anything much." "What? That's not good." Chris leaned forward, looking into his eyes as if he could find the answer to his memory loss in their depths. Israfil looked back, unafraid to explore the emotions that seemed to flash through the other man's eyes. "We definitely need to get you to a doctor." Chris cleared his throat and moved away, his cheeks suddenly pink. It was adorable and Israfil wanted to reach out and touch. He stopped short. It felt right to want to touch Chris, but he didn't think he'd been so tactile before he lost his memory. No, that wasn't quite right, He'd been tactile, his memory of his first visit to Earth was quite vivid. But he'd been told he shouldnt feel that way, so he hadn't allowed himself to explore that side of his existence. So who was he? And where did he come from if not from Earth? Not knowing who I am really sucks! How am I supposed to know what I'm doing if I can't remember any of
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the important things?

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"So, do you think you can try to get up? My campsite is about an hour's walk from here, and I think we need to get there as quickly as we can. We should be able to get you the help you need once we're there." Chris tilted his head. "Or I can leave you here and get help. That may actually be the better idea, if you're going to be okay on your own." "No." He wouldnt stay here on his own. For some reason, that would be the worst of all outcomes. "No, you can't walk?" Chris frowned. "No, I don't want to stay behind while you go and get help." He winced at the renewed pain that made his head feel as if it was about to explode. "I think it's dangerous for me to be on my own here. I don't know anything about this place." "Fair enough, so we'll work on getting you upright and walking." Chris nodded. "There is only one problem." "Yes?" He wasn't ready for another one, but nobody had asked him, so he added it to the list. "You, ehm, you're." Chris turned beet red this time. "What?" Why couldn't the man just say whatever bothered him?
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at him.

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"You have no clothes." Chris looked anywhere but "So?" He couldnt do anything about it, and there was nothing wrong with being nakedwas there? Shit, maybe things are different here on Earth? "You can't just walk around naked!" Chris looked up, eyes wide in shock. "I can't?" Definitely different. But Chris's reaction was such fun; he was going to play a little. "No you can't, not looking like that, all." Chris clamped a shaking hand over his mouth. "Looking like what?" Was there something wrong with him? He looked down, finding everything in order and where it should be for a human body. Fuck! I'm human! In a blinding flash of agony, luckily over almost before it began, memories started flooding back. He was an angel and his real body was made of celestial energy. While it had looked human enough, it hadnt had any of the human bodily functions, nor had it been capable of physical arousal. His current body, on the other hand, gave off a tingling sensation in his groin every time he looked at Chris. Now that the man was so clearly flustered and excited, his reaction intensified. It felt quite pleasurable,
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even if his increased heart beat had him a little worried. "Oh, you know? Looking pretty amazing?" Chris's eyes had gone dark, his breath came faster than before and a definite flush spread all over his upper body, not just his face. But he was a complete stranger. And he hadnt been very tactile before, but in this body? He suddenly craved touch, especially from Chris. "Look, I don't know what you mean about me looking 'amazing', but I see no choice other than walking back to your campsite the way I am." He could only hope that Chris would let him. "Unless you're hiding a set of extra clothes in that backpack of yours?" "No, nothing that would fit you." Chris took a deep breath. "Okay, once we get close I can always walk ahead and get something to cover you. A towel or a blanket will do until we find something that fits." "All right, now that we have that solved, we can get back to the really important stuff." Oddly, covering up his body had seemed more important to Chris than getting him some help. "Of course." Chris held out his hand. "Here, I'll help you up." The man studiously avoided looking anywhere but
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Israfil's face. It made him grin. That degree of modesty fascinated him, and he wanted to explore it later. After all, he hadn't even seen Chris naked yet. He wasn't sure that was appropriate, based on the man's reaction to his lack of clothing, but it would be worth a try. If nothing else, it might get Chris all flustered again, and he'd enjoyed what that had done to his body. He wanted that tingling pleasure back as soon as possible. Israfil lifted his head and slowly managed to get into a sitting position. It still hurt, but the pain was bearable and decreasing by the minute. Chris's help was invaluable, the man's touch, even though entirely non-sexual, definitely aroused him. "You're doing really well." Chris smiled at him as he pulled him the rest of the way upright. "I'm impressed. I didn't think you'd be able to do it." "Neither did I." He took a few deep breaths to try and recover from the ordeal. "But the thing is, it feels as if whatever affected me earlier is now wearing off. Odd, isn't it?" "On the one hand, it's a little strange." Chris frowned. "But I have to tell you, just before I entered the clearing there was a strange thunder and flash of lightning. It makes me wonder whether that's affected you, and if it
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anymore."

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did, the fact that you're now recovering isn't so strange "Thunder and lightning? I can't remember any of it." But it did explain a lot. That phenomenon, whatever it was, had probably transported him here and had caused him to lose his memory. He still had no explanation why it had happened, but he didn't have a good feeling about it. Angels didn't just get made human for no reason, nor did it happen very often. He frowned as memories of Araton and Zuriel, both former guardian angels, popped into his brain. He'd always thought they'd been punished, but being human, so far, didn't seem all bad to him. Chris looked at him with a slight frown and a tilted head, but didn't say anything. "All right, how are we going to make this work? I'm not sure I'm up to much walking." He felt very unsteady on his feet. Hopefully his condition would continue to improve; otherwise they might never make it to where Chris wanted to go. "Just lean on me if you have to." Chris stepped closer, put an arm around him and looked up. "We'll take a few breaks as well, if necessary." He nodded and focused on setting one foot in front of the other. It turned out to be easier than he'd thought, and
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even though it took a while for them to work out their rhythm, they were soon making good progress. He liked feeling Chris against his side like that, with the man's warm arm around his middle. His breathing deepened after a while and he could feel his legs getting heavy. A light layer of sweat coated his skin and Chris looked tired as well, so he stopped walking. "I think we need a break." He looked around for somewhere to sit and pointed to a couple of fallen trees. "Over there?" "Okay." Chris pulled his arm back. "I'll get my extra shirt out, so you have something to sit on." "Why?" He'd be fine. "You don't want splinters anywhere near your ass, believe me." Chris grinned and retrieved said shirt from his pack. He deposited it onto the closest log and pointed. "Sit." Israfil followed without thinking. Man, its good to sit down. Chris pulled two bottles of water from his pack and sat next to him. "Here, have some. You need to keep hydrated." "Thanks." He followed Chris's example, unscrewed the bottle and started drinking. The cool water going down
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his throat felt good, and the slightly dry feeling he'd had in his mouth slowly vanished as he emptied the bottle. "Wow, you were thirsty." Chris hadn't even finished half his water, and held out his bottle. "You can have more, if you want?" As if he was going to take the water Chris surely needed as much as he did! "No thanks, I'll be fine." He closed the empty bottle and handed it back to Chris. "Are you sure?" Chris looked disappointed that he hadn't taken him up on his offer. "Yeah." He needed a distraction, or the other man was going to mother him to death. "So, how much longer until we reach the campsite you mentioned?" "We're about half way, so another thirty minutes or so should do it. Hopefully, we'll be there for lunch." Chris smiled and pulled his backpack closer. "That reminds me, we should probably have a snack while we're resting." An apple and some cookies later, they got up and managed to complete the second half of the journey in good time for lunch. The scent of food as they approached made Israfil want to speed up. He'd identified the empty feeling in his stomach as hunger and couldn't wait to have some real food. The apple had long ago been digested.
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"Okay, I think this is as far as you can go without anyone seeing you." Chris stopped, pulled the shirt he'd collected from the logs they'd sat on earlier from his pack, and spread it on the grass next to the trail. "Here, that'll keep you comfortable while I go get a blanket for you." "Thanks." He had no idea why it should make him more comfortable to sit on a shirt again, but it seemed to make Chris happy to have him settled, so he acquiesced and sat down. Chris vanished into the underbrush and Israfil leaned back against the tree behind him, closed his eyes and focused on trying to remember his purpose here. Nothing much came to mind, other than the distinct impression that he was supposed to learn or understand something. Huh. That meant his stay here was only temporary. Was this some sort of test and he'd been made to forget anything that would give him an unfair advantage? Whichever way he looked at it, the whole situation was strange. Steps coming closer alerted him to Chris's return. A second set of steps joined them, and he wondered whom Chris might have brought with him. He'd seemed so insistent that nobody see Israfil naked, it was a surprise to
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Chris.

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see another man step out from under the trees, just behind Chris rushed over to him, holding out a blanket as if it offered the world's salvation. He carefully arranged it across his lap and Chris breathed deeply, looking relieved. Was he that ugly to look at? Or did Chris have another agenda? Israfil decided he'd find out as soon as possible. The second man turned out to be a doctor. He looked older, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and had come equipped with a black leather bag that seemed to contain an enormous number of instruments, bandages and who knew what else. The examination was quick and efficient. The man shone a light into Israfil's eyes, took his pulse, and listened to his heart. The doctor asked a bunch of questions about what day of the week it was (who cared?), what recent events Israfil could remember (none), and what he had been doing in the forest, so far off the beaten track (he wanted to know the answer to that one as well). "Well, as far as I can see, there's nothing physically wrong with you." The doctor leaned back and started putting everything he had used back into his bag. "Memory loss is quite strange, but usually takes care of itself. I'd suggest you give it a few days, see if anything does come back, and if it doesn't, see a therapist when you're back in
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town."

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"Wouldn't it be better to have Israfil go to the hospital immediately? Just in case?" Chris moved from one foot to the other. "They won't be able to do much more. Yes, they might run a few scans, but honestly, there are no signs of physical trauma, so he should be able to heal on his own." The doctor got up and stepped away. "Enjoying a few days in a relaxed atmosphere at the campground will be far better for him than hours or days spent in observation in some hospital room." "If you're sure" Chris still seemed to have doubts. "Absolutely." The doctor closed his bag and slapped Chris on the shoulder. "Now, go back to enjoying your vacation, except now you have a friend who can enjoy it with you." Chris smiled, and it made the whole man light up. He was absolutely gorgeous like that. He even had dimples. Israfil had no idea where all these sudden feelings were coming from, but the slow tingling in his groin had returned and steadily increased to clear arousal. To his surprise, his cock got harder, swelling slightly as it rose. What an odd reaction. But since he understood the theory behind it now, thanks to his previous flash of insight about
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human bodies, he decided to enjoy it. Thank God the blanket

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hid this strange

development. Who knew what Chris would say? And Israfil didn't want the doctor to know. An uninterrupted few days holiday with Chris sounded like just what he needed to regain his memory fully. **** Once at the campsite Chris found him some clothes that almost fit from another vacationer, then he spent lunch and most of the afternoon trying to answer the other campers' questions. When he couldn't, they lost interest. Chris stuck with him and helped him deal with his mounting frustration. Israfil was very grateful. A few hours later Israfil's head spun from all the new impressions. He still wasnt sure how much was really new and how much he'd simply forgotten, but right now it all felt new. He was overwhelmed and needed some serious downtime. About an hour after sunset Chris made them some hamburgers over the small fire not too far from his tent and they ate in silence, enjoying the quiet time. "Tired?" Chris finished his meal and wiped his
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hands on a napkin.

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"Very." He sighed. Not that he'd done much to justify this state, but he felt as if he'd moved mountains. "Look, we haven't talked about this, but since it's about bedtime, at least for me, I think we need to agree where you're going to sleep." Chris glanced up, then quickly away again. The soft pink flush from this morning was back as well. He loved it. "Okay." He put his used plate and utensils on the ground, assuming they'd get around to cleaning them later. "I have a second sleeping bag in my tent, if you want. You're welcome to take it outside and sleep under the stars, but the nights still get quite cold this time of year, so I thought you'd prefer the tent." Chris snapped his mouth shut, as if trying to stop himself from saying more. The thought of sharing the tent with the other man made him feel warm and fuzzy. Huh. Something physical was happening between them and it kept feeling better. He wanted to know more. "I would love to share the tent with you." Well, that had come out a lot more enthusiastic than he'd intended. "Really?" The way Chris's eyes lit up was worth any amount of uncertainty he may have felt about the
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whole situation. "Sure." He smiled.

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"Okay." Chris sighed and pointed at the dishes. "Let's get these cleaned up so we can get ready for bed. I think I have a spare toothbrush as well." "Are you always this prepared?" He picked up some of the stuff and rose. "Usually." Chris dropped his gaze. "I think that's great." Where would he have been without Chris's planning and forethought? Not to mention the other man's care and consideration? "Oh." Chris swallowed. "Thank you." They took the dishes to the combined toilet and shower stalls, the only place with running water. The dishes were soon clean. They did their business and washed up a little before making their way back to Chris's site. The plates were stowed, and by now it had gotten quite cold. Chris held the tent open, letting Israfil enter first. The other man followed and a fair amount of shifting and rearranging of bodies followed. How interesting that Chris didn't seem to shy away from the odd touch here or there. When their hands touched after they'd both managed to crawl into their sleeping bags, Chris didn't withdraw. Israfil lay stock still, not daring to so much as
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breathe. The warm skin against his hand made him tingle. His groin came alive again, and he had to work hard to suppress he moan that suddenly wanted out. This was too good to be true! A few moments later Chris slid his hand underneath Israfil's, twined their fingers and held on. Israfil dared breathe again. "Good night." Chris's voice sounded as though he was already half asleep. "Night." He made sure to speak softly. He didn't want to wake Chris up again. The man obviously needed his sleep. He, on the other hand, would probably not get any sleep at all. This situation was far too exciting. Who knew that a simple touch of hands could be this arousing? What else was there to learn about his new situation? Among all the remaining uncertainty about why he was here, that was the one thing he was absolutely sure of. He'd never touched another human being like this, nor had anyone gotten to him like Chris had. He would surely have remembered if he had!

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Chapter Four

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Chris didn't want to wake up and tried to resist returning to reality with everything in him. He'd had the most amazing dream about a tall, blond, extremely wellmuscled stranger, and they'd just been about to kiss. Also, vacations entitled him to sleep-ins. The birdsong outside meant it was barely sunrise, and that was no time to get up. But his nose itched, and he wanted to know why. If it was a mosquito, he'd have to get up and hunt it. He hated those little bloodsuckers with a vengeance. He slowly opened his eyes, hoping to surprise the beast. Seeing no monsters, instead he found a ray of sunshine that had made it inside the tent through the tiny opening he'd left at the top of the zipper. Why it aimed straight for his nose, or so it seemed, he'd never know. It tickled something awful, and he reached up to scratch the itch, promising himself he could go back to sleep once he was done. "Good morning." The rumbling voice came from his left, and sounded less than two feet away. "Crap!" His heartbeat increased as he tried to get enough oxygen into his lungs to scream with shock, possibly attract help. There was someone in the tent with
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him!

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"Excuse me?" The voice sounded surprised, but the little chuckle that followed showed the other guys amusement. Chris whipped his head around to identify the creeponly to find the stranger from his dream comfortably ensconced in his second sleeping bag. "Israfil!" The breath he'd apparently held whooshed from his lungs in relief and he managed a tentative smile. "You remember me now?" Israfil grinned. "Yeah, sorry, I'm not a morning person, so it always takes me a while to wake up." He shrugged. "No problem." Israfil's eyes crinkled in the nicest way when he smiled. Chris turned onto his side, propping his head up on his hand so he could see better. For a few moments, he just stared at the other man, wanting to drown in his eyes. He'd had this reaction yesterday, and holding back hadn't been easy. But Israfil had been traumatized and lost his memory, so he reined himself in. Jumping his bones would not be helpful. When their hands had accidentally touched just before they fell asleep, the current of attraction that raced through him had taken his breath away. He hadn't been able to resist, telling himself holding hands was fine. The
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feeling of the other man's fingers entwined with his had remained with him, the memory making his skin tingle even now. He'd never been attracted to anyone with this sort of intensity, and falling asleep touching the handsome stranger had been an amazing feeling. He needed to figure out how to make that happen again. Even if all they had was a few days, until Israfil's memory came back and they had to return to their real lives, he would treasure every moment. The warm hand that slid along his, just like last night, delighted him. He kept looking at Israfil as they connected again. "This is okay?" The man's voice had lowered, his pupils were dilated and his chest rose and fell visibly as he rose to mirror Chris's position. "More than." Chris tightened his grip to make sure the message was clear. "I really liked it last night, too." Israfil sighed. "But it made falling asleep very difficult." "I'm sorry." He'd been too tired even for something that felt as good as touching another man's skin, this man's skin, to stop him from drifting into sleep. "Don't be." Israfil squeezed his fingers. "I was too keyed up from everything that's happened to fall asleep
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quickly anyway. Holding on to your hand somehow kept me grounded, made everything more real." What an odd comment to make. Israfil hadn't given him the impression of being someone who had trouble holding onto reality, but maybe losing his memories had made him feel adrift. "Did you remember anything more?" What if the other man remembered where he was from and wanted to go back to that life? That was a very selfish thought though, so he mentally kicked himself. What Israfil needed was his support, not someone trying to hold him back from reclaiming his life. "Only flashes. Nothing coherent enough to tell me what's going on." Israfil looked away, as if embarrassed about his lack of memories. "It'll happen. I'm not a therapist, but as a student I came across the phenomenon of memory loss and what to do to treat it." He wished he'd paid closer attention, but it had seemed rather irrelevant at the time and being just one of many subjects that needed to be covered so he could get his degree. "The doctor was right; the best thing to do is to let it surface on its own. Sometimes that takes time. And there's no stress. You're perfectly welcome to stay with me for the next few days. By the time I need to get back to
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out."

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Flagstaff next Saturday, I'm sure you'll have figured it all "I hope so." Israfil didn't sound very convinced. "Being in limbo like this isn't much fun." "It may not be much fun in terms of your thoughts and feelings, but we can make it fun in other aspects." He cringed. That hadn't quite come out the way he'd wanted. Geez, what was wrong with his brain-to-mouth filter? "Fun sounds good." Israfil smiled, totally open and relaxed. Maybe the man hadn't caught the inadvertent innuendo? "Does it include holding hands like this?" Israfil made wide innocent eyes. "If you want." Or maybe the gorgeous stranger had caught on perfectly and had just chosen not to react? What an enigma. Luckily he loved riddles, especially those of the psychological kind. "Oh yes, I want." Israfil frowned. "I have no idea why I'm here, or who sent me, but I'm convinced it has some sort of purpose. Since you found me, you must be part of that purpose and anything we do is probably part of that as well." "Okay." He studied the determined lines of the
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makes you so certain about this?"

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man's face for a moment. "Do you believe in fate? Or what "Maybe not fate." Israfil narrowed his eyes as he thought. "But definitely some kind of higher power who has plans for our destiny." "Like God?" Chris had never been sure whether he believed in the religious sense of the word or not, but hed let someone convince him otherwise. It would be nice to think things had a purpose, that there was some sort of plan for the future. "Yes." Israfil nodded. "But enough about that. We were discussing ways to have fun over the next few days. What do you have planned?" "Oh, I don't have any set plans. Part of having fun, for me, is to be spontaneous, since my life is very regulated when I work." He sighed. "Never as much as for the upcoming summer sessions at the university. I will have to schedule my time very carefully if I want to make it. So, I promised myself total planlessness during my vacation." "You have a very stressful job, then? I certainly know what that's like." Israfil pointed at his head. "Some of the memories came back last night, and most of them were about work. I don't really seem to have a social life." "Well, that makes two of us. We should start a club,
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workaholics unite or something." Chris grinned. "Maybe not right away." Israfil shook his head. "I'd rather see what it's like to have a social life for a change." "I was just joking." The guy's sense of humor seemed a little off. Or maybe it was just him? Hed never been good at making jokes. "Oh." Israfil looked stricken. "Sorry, my sense of humor seems to be somewhat lacking." "Nothing wrong with your sense of humor. It was a really bad joke." No way would Chris let the other man remain so sad. "Thanks for being nice about it." Israfil smiled. Chris needed a distraction. Not that he was looking for excuses or anything, but he was dying to find out what it would feel like to do more than holding hands with this man. So he slowly moved his thumb across Israfil's skin, carefully watching for a reaction. "Good." Israfil looked at their joined hands, then back up at him. "I can't believe how good this feels." "You've never done this before?" That would explain the air of innocence around this stranger who was quickly becoming someone Chris wanted to get to know better. A whole lot better, if it were up to him.
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opportunity."

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"Never." Israfil blushed. "There just wasn't an "Wow." Not that he'd done much more, but somehow he'd assumed he was an exception. Most of his gay friends had masses of experience and he'd always been the odd man out. Not anymore. He grinned. Now hed found another guy in the same situation, and he seemed to be interested. "Is that a problem?" Israfil's eyes had widened in worry. "Yes and no." He made sure to keep up his caresses so Israfil would know everything was fine. "No, because it doesn't matter to me whether you have a lot of experience or none at all. But the fact is that I don't have much experience either, so we'll both be fumbling in the dark, so to speak." "There's nobody I'd rather be fumbling in the dark with." Israfil laughed and pulled up his hand to cup Chris's face. "I really like you." "That's good to hear." He had a hard time focusing with the other man's hand on his cheek like that. Harder than when their fingers had been entwined. Israfil started stroking his skin, rasping across the morning stubble and it made pleasurable little shivers race from his face and neck
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straight to his cock.

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"So rough." Israfil closed his eyes, but kept stroking. It looked as if he was soaking up the sensations generated in his fingertips. "I like feeling these little hairs protruding from your skin." "I can grow a beard?" He'd always preferred to be clean shaven, but who was he to argue? Heck, if Israfil asked, he'd probably grow one. And wasn't that completely ridiculous after knowing him for less than twenty-four hours? "No beard." Israfil opened his eyes and resumed his stroking motion of Chris's now very warm and tingly skin. "But the stubble is nice." "I'll just stop shaving for a couple of days, how's that?" He'd look like a ruffian, but what the hell? Israfil would need to deal with his new image. Tendrils of desire were racing through his whole body. Who knew that his cheek could become an erogenous zone? He arched into the touch like a cat and Israfil's smile widened. "That would be great." The other man took his hand away and briefly touched his own face. "I'm sorry I'm so smooth, but I've never had much beard growth before, and it doesn't look like that has changed."
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"I like you just the way you are." And why would the degree of beard growth change just because the man lost his memory? "Yeah?" Israfil's eyes lit up and he leaned closer. "Yeah." Chris took a deep breath, summoned all the courage he could find on short notice and matched Israfil's move. It brought their lips within touching distance. They were so close that he could feel the other man's hot exhales on his skin. Their eyelashes would have touched had their noses not been in the way. Sexual tension hung in the air and he held this position for a few more moments, soaking up the intensity of his feelings. When he could hold out no longer he moved the remaining fraction of an inch to press their lips together in the briefest of kisses. He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened one and moved back to make sure Israfil was with him. The other man's eyes were still closed and he didnt move except to breathe. His mouth hung half open, his nostrils flared and the hand on Chris's cheek trembled. "More." Israfil sighed and opened his eyes. "Please. More." Chris nodded and moved forward again. He kissed
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kisses along the tempting lower lip. It made Israfil smile.

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the corner of his mouth this time before he placed small

He'd never, ever seen a smile like that. It looked positively beatific, despite the ruggedly handsome face. The joy in it was infectious and Chris redoubled his efforts. He switched from little kisses to licking around, and just slightly inside, Israfil's mouth. Tentative little explorations that gave him the barest taste of the other man. Rather than finding morning breath, which he honestly wouldn't have minded, he encountered flavors of honey and sunshine. His licks became longer, his forays into the hot temptation deeper, and he moved his hand to the other man's neck to hold him in place. That made Israfil moan. It was unlike any lustful sound Chris had ever heard. Sinfully erotic, low and drawn out, it evoked images of pure lust. He imagined writhing bodies, sweat-covered as they moved together. His need rose and spurred him on to do more, just to hear that sound again. Maybe find out what other sounds he could draw from this enigmatic stranger who was beginning to mean so much to Chris. So he experimented. He sucked and licked at Israfil's lips, then caressed
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his tongue, hoping to coax the other man into a response. At first hesitant, his tongue finally came out to play. "Yes!" Chris had barely pulled back enough to breathe that one word into the other man's mouth before he dove back in to begin kissing him in earnest. Tongues playfully chasing each other, they took turns sucking and licking everything within reach inside their mouths. Israfil responded with passion. It was almost as if it had taken him a while to figure out what went on, or he'd needed to find enough courage to do what he wanted. Chris forgot the world around him as he sank into a soul-searching kiss with this wonderful man who was so playful in his responses, yet passionate beyond anything Chris had previously experienced. It made him harder than he'd ever been. Shit, was he going to come from nothing more than a kiss? He was totally out of his depth and so overwhelmed by the strong feelings coursing through his body, that he opened first his, then Israfil's sleeping bag to get at the other man. Once he had enough leeway, he pushed forward. He ended up half on top of Israfil, still kissing him as if their lives depended on it, the only barrier between them their pajama pants. He had no patience to get rid of them
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and they weren't much of a hindrance anyway. With a relieved sigh, he ground his aching erection into the other man's hip. Feeling Israfil's cock, which was just as hard, grind into him as the other man bucked his hips was more than he could take. With a muffled scream, he started convulsing, pleasure radiating out from his cock and balls to envelop his whole body. It was the best orgasm he'd ever had. He was still shaking with his release when Israfil whimpered and followed him over the edge, writhing and trembling as he came in long bursts of shuddering ecstasy. Ragged breathing and the occasional sigh were the only sounds as they came back to Earth, tried to catch their breath and deal with the fact that theyd come from not much more than a kiss. But what a kiss it had been! Israfil pulled him closer, making sure they connected along their entire bodies. He snuggled in, deciding to ignore the sticky mess that began to cool on his skin for as long as possible. "Is it always like this?" Israfil's voice was hesitant. "It's never been like this before." Chris lifted his head so he could look into his lovers eyes. "We've got something very special here."
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"I think you're right." Israfil smiled. "If a kiss from you can make me feel like this, I can't wait to see what's next." "We might not survive." Chris laughed. "But I can honestly say I wouldn't even care." "Same here. I had no idea it would feel this good. I don't think I ever want to be without it again." Israfil tightened his embrace and pressed a kiss against Chris's temple. "Hmmm." Chris couldn't have agreed more. This was beginning to look and feel very promising. And for once he wasn't the only one affected. **** It took a long time for the itching to annoy Chris enough to consider moving so they could clean up. It felt good to lie in Israfil's armson more than one level. There was more than the physical side to it. That alone would have been worth a few minutes of sticky discomfort. The additional feeling of being accepted just the way he was made him feel safe and secure. He was most likely overinterpreting what had happened, and his hormones were probably in charge right now. But still, the thought of
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having to let go made his heart hurt.

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Israfil wriggled, tried to slide a hand between their mashed together bodies. There was no space. "Do you think we're stuck together permanently now?" Israfil laughed as he continued pushing his hand toward his groin. "Not that I would mind, but I'm afraid I'm beginning to feel hungry and that will be harder to ignore than the itching." "Hunger is a good enough reason to move." He lifted his head and smiled into dark eyes twinkling with merriment. "Oh, good." Israfil smiled back and kissed his nose. "We could use the showers, but I'd prefer to take a swim in the lake." He'd taken one every single morning so far, and had liked them despite the cold water. "It may still be a little cold, but it'll wake us up and we'll be clean afterwards. "Uhm" Israfil looked away. "What?" "I I cant swim." Israfil blushed a very deep red. "No problem. We can stay in the shallow water, where we can still stand." Shit, he didn't want to embarrass his lover, but how could he have known? "But I don't want you to hold back because of me.
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that he'd ever tell him.

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You clearly like to swim" Israfil was cute like this, not "I do. But I can always swim while you stay back, if you're comfortable. If not, I'd rather be with you any day!" He kissed Israfil, just to make sure the man knew he meant what he said. "Okay." Israfil nodded. "What do I do for swimming trunks?" "Your second pair of boxer shorts should do. Not many people will be up yet and I'll enjoy the view." He wriggled his eyebrows. "Okay, if thats acceptable." Israfil sighed. "It means we have no excuse not to get up now, do we?" "No, absolutely none." Chris laughed and pulled back. "But let me tell you, wet and slippery can be a lot of fun as well. I think. With you." "You think?" Israfil grinned, moved out of the sleeping bag and grabbed his clean set of underwear and a towel before sitting back down to shimmy out of his sleepwear. "Oh." Chris stared at the other man's rippling abs as he moved. Leg muscles bunched and released as Israfil slid out of the pajama pants. He hadn't turned around, so Chris had
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a great view of the impressive cock that bounced into freedom once the pants were gone. Thick and long, it was flushed red with arousal. He couldn't wait to touch it. With a sigh he turned away to grab some wet wipes from his backpack. "Here, use those to clean up a little before you put on the boxers." He tore his gaze away with an effort, changing into his swim shorts after cleaning his own cock, which was well on its way to another erection. "Nice." Israfil's voice sounded husky. Chris looked up to see his lover stare at the tent he made in his swim trunks. At least they were in the same boat, so to speak. He grinned back, grabbed his towel and crawled out of the tent, stretching in the early sunshine once he made it outside. Israfil followed and seeing him move to get the kinks out of his much larger body didn't exactly reduce the size of his straining cock. Thank God nobody else was awake yet. Chris led the way to the lake, walking along the water's edge until they reached the small secluded beach he'd adopted as his. He dropped his towel onto a small rock and turned to Israfil, who had done the same. "Normally I walk in quickly to get the shock of the cold water over with. But we can go slow if you're more
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comfortable with that?" He held out his hand to make sure Israfil knew he intended to be right there for him all of the way. "I don't know." Israfil eyed the placid lake with a mix of curiosity and fear. How could he not know? "I've never immersed my body in water." Israfil looked back at him. "I'll do whatever you recommend. I know you'll take care of me." "You've never" That was a very odd way of putting it. "Okay, we'll take it slowly. I don't want you to panic." "No panicking." Israfil's facial expression didnt agree with his words. Chris took his hand again and started walking toward the water. Dipping in their toes made both of them grimace with the cold. They waded in until the water came up to the middle of Israfil's thighs and just under Chris's balls. This was always the hard part. Two more steps and the water covered him up to his navel. He gasped from the cold, his erection quickly deflating and his balls trying to crawl up into his body. "Shit, this is cold." Israfil started shivering.
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Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. He usually ran right in, not letting the cold get to him, and by the time he was immersed, the swimming movements helped him bring his body temperature back up. But his lover didn't have that choice, so what were they going to do for warmth?

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Chapter Five

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Israfil stared out of the window of Chris's car as they drove back toward Flagstaff almost a week later. What the hell was he getting himself into? Not that he had a choice. The last few days had been a revelation in more than one sense of the word. He'd discovered the joys and tribulations of having a human body. Mostly the joys, actually. He smiled with the memory of that first night spent in Chris's tent, the surprisingly shocking experience of being surrounded by cold water the next morning. Not that they'd stayed cold very longbeing in each other's arms, ostensibly so he wouldn't drown, had more than warmed them up very quickly. He'd learned to swim over the next few days, as well as to appreciate Chris's care with teaching him about being human. He'd also fully recovered his memory. Including the bit about him having been sent to Earth to 'get a life'. If falling in love with the man who'd found him in the forest meant getting a life, he was doing it. There was only one problem. Angels weren't supposed to fall in love. Worse, angels never stayed on Earth on a permanent basis. At least not in their angel form, since both the ex-angels he was aware of were just that now: ex81

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angels.

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Was that what he was supposed to do? Learn about being human and make a choice which type of existence was better? How could anyone possibly make that choice? If he only knew whether Araton and Zuriel regretted what they'd done. He wished he could ask them but didn't know how to find them. He might be a police angel, but celestial procedures wouldn't work to trace these guys here on Earth. He sighed. Working in the dark like this, without any guidelines and no orders to follow was not his strength. He liked to be told what to do, with clear directives and well-known criteria for the evaluation of a situation. He wasnt good at this kind of murky guessing game, nor did he enjoy it. "Are you okay?" Chris's voice brought him back to his current reality. "Yeah." Sort of. "Are you sure?" Chris quirked an eyebrow. "You don't sound very convincing." Leave it to his lover to detect his miserably unsuccessful attempt at dissembling. He should stop to even try. Angels weren't good at it, and, apparently, angelswho-were-temporarily-human weren't any better. "No, actually, I'm not sure." He sighed again.
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Chris sounded so unsure. "No!" He couldn't regret that.

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"Do you regret your decision to come with me?"

He just didn't know if it was the right thing to do. Not that he'd had a real choice. While his memories had fully returned, they hadn't revealed what he was supposed to do. He might be here on Earth, but he had no job, no place to go. He couldn't very well stay at the campground, so when Chris had asked if he wanted to come back to Flagstaff with him, he'd said yes. What else was he supposed to do? The prospect of having to go into therapy with nothing wrong with him, just so he could pretend he was working on regaining his memory, gnawed at him. He didn't think he was supposed to tell Chris about his origins. Not being able to share this important part of himself with his lover almost killed him every time he thought about it. He had to lie about it as well, claiming he still couldn't remember everything. It caused him severe headaches and acute heart palpitations every time he told an untruth. The only reason he hadn't given in to his need to share everything with Chris was a lingering uncertainty about the potential consequences of revealing the existence of angels to humans. That, he just knew, was totally forbidden.
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"So what's wrong?" Chris briefly looked at him before returning his attention to Lake Mary Road. "I just worry, okay?" And that was the understatement of the decade. "I have no job. Worse, I don't even know what job to start looking for. And even if I found something I'd be in trouble because I have no ID. I'll become a burden to you and you'll regret" "Hold it right there, mister." Chris glared at him for a moment. "First of all, you don't need a job right away. You have a place to staywith meand getting some more groceries than normal isn't going to bust my budget. The first priority is getting your full memory back, and once you do, the problem with the ID and everything will probably be solved as well. But even if you never remember everything, I'm sure there are ways to deal with that. You're not the first person to turn up somewhere minus their memories." "But" He couldn't say the rest. Most likely being the first angel with that issue, he had nobody to share it with, or to ask for advice. "No buts." Chris's lips were a narrow line. "I promised to take care of you if you came with me, and I will." "This isn't about you taking care of me." It did grate
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a little that he wasn't the one in charge, but that was the least of his problems. He'd just have to get over it. "I really appreciate your offer, and will do my best to get out of your hair as soon as possible. You have your own life, and I don't want to be in the way." "That's it!" Chris hit the steering wheel with so much force Israfil was surprised it didn't fall off. "We need to talk about thisagain!" What? Chris looked to the right and left, finally slowing down the car when a smaller road appeared on their left. He pulled the car to a stop under the trees, killed the engine, and turned around to face Israfil with a thunderous expression. Uh-oh. "I want to make one thing very, very clear. Apparently, subtle doesn't work with you, so I'll be a little more direct this time." Chris took a deep breath. "I didn't ask you to come with me out of the goodness of my heart. Well, that may have been the original impulse, and it covers the fact you need help to make it back onto your own feet, but it isn't why I ended up inviting you into my home." "No?" His voice sounded croaky. Seeing Chris this
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it.

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upset did that to him, especially knowing that he'd caused "No." Chris swallowed, gripping the edge of the seat tightly enough for his knuckles to turn white. "The reason I invited you into my home is that I want you there." "You do?" His jaw dropped. They'd only known each other for a week, he hadn't even been truthful about everythingand this man wanted him? "Yes, you knucklehead!" Chris blew out an exasperated breath. "In case you hadn't noticed, I'm extremely attracted to you. I also had more fun this last week than I can ever remember having with anyone else. We share a lot of the same interests, have a very similar outlook on life and get along really well. You have no idea how rare that is." He shook his head. He'd never looked for something like this. There had been no time for friendships, not that they were very common among angels. They tended to be loners and happy with it. "And if that wasn't enough, you're funny, clever, caring, sexy as hell and simply the most amazing man Ive ever met." Chris held out a hand and he took it. "I know it's fast, and if you really don't want to be with me you need to let me know. But I'm old enough to know what I want, I've
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spent enough time looking for it without success, so, now that I found you, I'm going to do everything I can to convince you to stay with me." "You really think we have a future together?" The little voice at the back of his head that reminded him he'd lied to Chris and that would surely kick him in the butt at some time would just have to shut up. The fact that he had no clue whether he could even make any promises about staying with Chris, when he might be recalled to Heaven at any time, weighed on him as well. Neither thought was enough to stop him from melting into Chris's arms when the other man opened them. He slid his arms around Chris's middle and held on. "I want that too." More than he could ever say. "Well, good." Chris squeezed him and pulled back so he could look at him. "As long as we have that settled once and for all, I'm happy." "Happy is good." The joy bubbling up in him overwhelmed him and blasted away all his doubts and fears. Chris was right. They did belong together and he was going to enjoy it as long as possible. "Very good." Chris's gaze turned soft. He knew that look. Chris slid a hand up his back, making him shiver
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with anticipation. When he reached his nape and used his thumb to make little circles on the sensitive skin there, he was a goner. He bent forward the same moment Chris did and their lips met, making them both moan with anticipation. They still hadn't done much more than kissing and touching, but it would be more than enough for him if that was all they ever did. Chris devoured his mouth with a passion that he could feel down to his toes. He used his tongue to coax the most amazing reactions out of him. Israfil moved closer, briefly annoyed with the seatbelt for holding him back. Nothing was supposed to stand between Chris and him. He fumbled with the annoying contraption while not letting go of Chris's mouth. Finally the thing clicked open. He undid Chris's as well while he was at it. Better! With a relieved sigh he moved over to straddle Chris's lap. He just wanted to be as close as possible. He ground his growing erection into Chris's equally hard cock and decided this position had definite possibilities, despite the somewhat restricted space due to the steering wheel at his back. Chris grinned into their kiss, stretched one arm toward the bottom of his seat and with a click it moved
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back, giving them almost all the space they needed. Not satisfied with what he'd already done to increase their comfort, Chris slid a hand between their bodies and opened their pants. His lover's hand enclosed both their cocks and started stroking. Chris's other hand still firmly held his neck, and he sank into the sensations without a second thought. He sucked on Chris's lips and tongue. It was almost as much fun as having his lover return the favor. Shivers of pleasure raced straight from his mouth to his throbbing cock. He didn't really want to come all over their hands and possibly clothes, but it didn't look like he had a choice. Not with the way Chris began to thrust up, increasing the pressure in his balls to almost unbearable, but extremely pleasurable, levels. And anyway, what were wet wipes for? He pushed down for all he was worth, focusing on the feeling of Chris's tongue tangled with his. Fast, even strokes that matched the rhythm their hips had set, drove him higher and higher. Finally, he couldn't hold back anymore and let go. Spurts of hot semen shot from his aching cock, joined by more heat as Chris followed him. Still moving against each other to prolong the pleasure, he kept coming until his balls
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hurt.

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They never stopped kissing, even when they finished coming. Finally, he pulled back to look at Chris. His lover had closed his eyes and smiled in that goofy, post-orgasmic way Israfil had come to love. In that moment he realized that he was no longer falling for this man. It was too late for that. He was well and truly in love with Chris. **** Lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, properly wrapped up in Israfil's arms for the first time, since sleeping bags were no longer in the picture, would be one of many new experiences Chris really looked forward to. If only he could be sure he'd have it for the long term. Forever, if at all possible. He knew there was something Israfil wasn't telling him. The man's eyes showed it every time his memory loss came up. It seemed to be causing him physical distress, the way he grabbed his head whenever they talked about therapy. But his few careful attempts at getting the full truth
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out of his lover had met with no success, so he'd decided to drop it for a while. Enough was enough, though. Coming back home last night with Israfil in tow, showing him where to find everything and watching him begin to settle in had brought home the fact that he was totally in love with the guy. He couldnt bear to think about having to let him go. But once Israfil remembered who he was he might want to return to his old life. It made Chriss heart hurt. He had to let Israfil know what he felt for him. He'd come close in the car yesterday, but he'd never spoken the words. Maybe it would make a difference? Hell, he was ready to try anything. Chris opened his eyes to look at his lover in the first light of morning coming in through the open blinds. He looked so peaceful in sleep. The soft snores made Chris smile. Amazingly, the sounds didn't bother him. Nothing about having another man in his bed had bothered him all night. He snorted. Israfil wasn't just any other man, now, was he? He was the man Chris loved. He was about to move in for a good morning kiss, to wake up his lover and tell him in no uncertain terms, when Israfil's whole body jerked, then stiffened. "No!" Israfil opened his eyes. They looked wild,
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almost haunted. "No, you can't make me leave him." "Sweetheart? What's wrong?" Chris had never seen his lover this upset. And he didn't like his lover talking about leaving. "Nothing." Israfil flinched as he grabbed his head. "That's not true. Shit." "Baby?" He reached out to caress Israfil's cheek. "What is it? You know you can tell me anything." "I'm not sure I can, and I'm afraid of the consequences if I do. I know I'm not supposed to talk to you about this, but I don't think I can keep it to myself any longer." Israfil looked crushed. "You're not making much sense, sweetheart." Chris breathed a sigh of relief though. It looked as if Israfil was about to overcome whatever reluctance he'd had to share the full truth with him. "I know and I'm sorry." Israfil took a deep breath. "I want you to know that I'm taking a big risk by telling you this. It may be the very thing that causes them to take me away from you. But even knowing that, I can't lie to you anymore." Now Chris worried. But he just nodded to encourage Israfil to go on. He definitely didn't want to interrupt his lover. Whatever he had on his mind obviously
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they could deal with it together.

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weighed heavily on him. It was time he talked about it, so "The thing is, all my memories have come back over the last week." Israfil closed his eyes and pulled him more closely to his body before drawing back. "That's wonderful!" He was finally going to find out more about his lover. Not that he really needed to. He already knew all the important things. Whatever he found out now would satisfy his curiosity about Israfil's past, but couldn't change the way he felt about him. "It is and it isn't." Israfil raked a hand through his hair and rolled his eyes. "You're never going to believe this, but I'm a cop." "A cop?" Chris' eyes widened. "You're right, that's something I wouldn't have guessed in a million years. So how did you get into that forest clearing? And why did you lose your memory?" "This is where it gets a little hairy." Israfil chuckled, but it wasn't a happy sound. "Counselor Gazadriel put me in that forest clearing. Hes the angel of awakenings and new beginnings. He told me I was being sent to Earth to 'get a life'. I expected to be punished for failing a mission, but apparently The Big Guy decided it would be more useful if he sent me to Earth."
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"What?" The world tilted on its axis as Chris struggled to comprehend what his lover said. Angels actually exist? "Sorry, that was a bit much at once, wasn't it?" Israfil raised his eyebrows. Chris nodded, incapable of any other reaction for the moment. "I'm a police angel." Israfil paused. "I got that part. Not that I understand why angels would need police, being supposedly all saintly and stuff, but hey, what do I know? I'm not a priest or anything." "I doubt even priests would know this." Israfil grinned. "The fact is that celestial law has become very complicated over the last few millennia. I'm not sure whether it's because the species we watch over have grown up, so to speak, or because it's the kind of entropy inherent in any system. But the end result is that the administration of the law now requires more knowledge than many lower ranking angels can deal with, so police angels are there to check on them, follow up on any loose ends and make sure every case is dealt with properly." "Celestial law? Speciesas in aliens? Lower ranking angels?" Man, he suddenly wanted to go back to sleep again. His life had been a lot simpler in his dreams.
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"Sure." Chris waved him on.

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"Yep. You with me so far?" Israfil tilted his head. "Okay. So there was this mission where I needed to stop one of my fellow angels from making a mistake, and I wasn't able to do it. I got, uhm, distracted. Normally, this would be severely punished, but according to Counselor Gazadriel, higher interests prevented this and I was sent here instead." "Oh." As crazy as this sounded, he believed Israfil. It was too creative a story for anyone to just make up. And he trusted the other man. "So now what?" "You believe me?" Israfil's eyebrows shot up. "Of course. You wouldn't lie to me." He smiled at Israfil's shocked expression. "You had enough trouble this past week not telling me your memories had returned. I saw you wince from the pain and grab your head every time we came close to the subject. So, yes, as crazy as your story sounds, I believe you." "Thank you. That means so much to me." Two small tears slid from Israfil's eyes and he opened his arms. "Come here. There is one more thing I need to tell you." Chris moved into his lover's arms without hesitation, looking up into the beloved face as he waited for Israfil to finish what he wanted to say. Then it would be his
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"I love you, Chris." Israfil smiled and kissed him. "You have come to mean the world to me in this past week, and I know it's fast, but I can't stop myself from saying it anymore. I love you with all my heart." "Oh, Israfil." Chris swallowed past the sudden lump in his throat. "I love you, too." He moved the rest of the way forward and the slow, tender kiss that followed took his breath away. Israfil's tongue stroked his slowly and tenderly. He moved as close as possible to his lover's body without climbing inside him and held on. Man or angel, Israfil was the one for him, no matter what anyone else said. Suddenly, a flash of bright white light visible even though his closed eyelids appeared. Exactly like that day in the forest just before Israfil had appeared. When the initial brightness dimmed he dared to open his eyes. The white light filled the room, without coming from anywhere specific that he could point at. Israfil had also opened his eyes and had paled beyond what he'd have thought possible as his entire body shook. "What's going on?" Chris sat up, pulling Israfil with him so they sat arm in arm. "Israfil." The deep voice came from all around them
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threat, but the voice oozed power.

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and made Chris tremble as well. There wasn't a visible "Yes?" Israfil pulled himself together but bit his lip. "You know why I am here." The voice sounded even, almost unemotional. "I do?" Israfil frowned. "You were sent here to get a life. You seem to have gotten one." The voice chuckled. "Now it is time for you to decide if you want to keep it." "I get a choice?" Israfil stopped shaking. Yay for choices! "Of course you get a choice. I gave humans the gift of free will; could I do anything less for angels? Or beingswho-used-to-be-angels?" The voice sounded as though its owner was smiling. "So, I ask you again, Israfil, what is your decision?" "I want to stay here, with Chris." Israfil took his hand and entwined their fingers as if to make absolutely clear what he meant. "I like the life I have now, and I'd like to keep it, please." "So polite. Okay, consider one thing, though. If you decide to stay with Chris, you will become as mortal as any natural-born human." The owner of the voice cleared his throat. "Not that this is bad in any way, but it will mean a
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shorter lifespan and moving on to the next level of existence at the end of it. You will not be able to return to being an angel, at least not immediately". Chris held his breath. That was a pretty big and, from the sounds of it, rather permanent decision to make. "I still want to stay with Chris." Israfil tightened his grip and nodded for good measure. "Then so shall it be." The light brightened to blinding intensity. Israfil cried out, some kind of severe pain causing him to curl in on himself. Chris moved to embrace him, to give him as much support as possible. "Do not worry, Chris. He will be fine. This is the effect of turning fully human." The voice sounded understanding, trying to reassure his lover when he couldn't. A few moments later Israfil relaxed in Chris's arms and took a deep breath. "Are you okay?" Chris placed a tender kiss on his temple. "Yes, I am now." Israfil smiled up at him. "Thanks for holding me through it." "I'm glad you're okay." Chris relaxed back against the headboard, leaving his arms around Israfil.
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permanent.

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It felt wonderful, but he needed to be sure it was "So this final? Nobody can call me back?" Israfil apparently shared the same worry. "Yes, this is final. Middle management may want to make it undone, but they cannot. They will need to learn that there are other considerations than just the administrative application of the letter of the law. Just like you have learned that there is more to life than following the law." The voice sounded amused. "Middle management?" Chris's eyebrows rose. "I'll tell you later." Israfil grinned. "That's a whole separate story." "Now that everything is put back in order, it is time for me to leave. One word of advice before I go. Do not waste your life and always remember that love is the most important thing." The voice faded with those last words and the light dimmed until the room returned to its normal brightness. The silence was deafening. "Was that who I think it was?" Chris's voice trembled. "Yes, that was the Big Guy himself." Israfil nodded. "The Big Guy? Oh. My. God." Chris slumped into
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"You said it." Israfil grinned as he caught and held him. And that was as it should be.

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Chapter Six

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"Come with me today. Please?" Chris made his most charming puppy dog eyes. It didn't really work on the man and Israfil had a very hard time trying not to laugh. But when Chris wanted something from him, apparently, he lost all sense of decorum. Not that he minded seeing his lover's more humorous side once in a while. "I think I might." Israfil had no idea why he felt this urge to go to the student admin office of Buffalo College today. Chris had asked him every day since they'd found his birth certificate, made out for Israfil Angelli, and social security card on the kitchen table the morning after the Big Guy had given his blessing. Nothing stood in the way of Israfil finding a job. Or, as his lover apparently preferred, going to college to get a degree. Him, a criminal psychologist? Or a professor of criminology? It was a scary thought. The longer he thought about it, the more sense it made, though. He'd wanted to put the whole thing off until the fall semester. With a schedule that would kill Chris if he didn't get some real support over the next ten weeks, Israfil wasn't
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willing to add his personal first-time student jitters to the picture. It would only distract Chris, and he wouldn't have that. There were enough other things he could do until that happened. Like learn to drive, figure out how to put a meal together without blowing up the kitchen and use a computer without crashing the internet. "You will?" Chris almost dropped the piece of toast he was nibbling on. He only barely caught it before it fell into his coffee. "Yes. I feel this sudden urge that I have to be there today." He shrugged. "Call it intuition or instinct, but now that there seems to be a reason to go, I don't mind. I mean, I'll just have a look around, check out some courses. What can it hurt?" "Exactly." Chris looked triumphant. "I'll be able to finish the paperwork for the first summer sessions, do some work on the online classes, and maybe we can have lunch together? I know this wonderful little old fashioned diner not too far from campus. I'd love to take you there." "Are you asking me out on a date?" Israfil's stomach fluttered again. It happened a lot around Chris, and he was beginning to like the feeling. They loved each other, so it was all good now. The only thing they hadn't done yet was fuck each other. Israfil was ready to change that. He
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didn't care who did whom, but he wanted to experience it. Maybe if Chris was in a good mood after their lunch he could convince 'his professor' to take a nap? With all the extras? "I could be." Chris's smile slowly grew excited. "Will it get me laid?" "Most certainly." Oh, his lover didn't know the half of it! An hour later theyd driven to campus together, Chris had shown him his tiny office and dropped him off at the student union building. He'd made his way inside and now stood staring at the huge information board that proclaimed to be an orientation support. Yeah, right. It was more confusing than anything, and Israfil didn't even know where to start. Had the feeling of being exactly where he was supposed to be not been so strong, he would have hightailed it out of here almost as soon as he'd decided the so-called information board was useless. "Excuse me, can you tell me where I can find the accounting?" The man who'd walked up to him stopped in the middle of his sentence as his jaw dropped. He was about six feet tall, had long blond hair and the most striking green eyes. His lean frame and the angelic
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face looked awfully familiar. No, it can't be! Can it?

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"Zuriel?" Israfil held his breath and hoped he was right. It would be amazing to have another ex-angel around, someone who could relate to what he went through as he adapted to life on Earth. Zuriel nodded. His jaw worked but nothing came out at first. "I-Israfil?" Israfil nodded, still dumbfounded. Was this a miracle or what? He thought he heard a soft chuckle in the distance but it was gone before he could be sure it had been real. "Are you here to try to arrest me again?" Zuriel's eyes narrowed. "Because I got to tell you, my fianc would not be very impressed. And he's a very tough guy." "No way." Israfil stepped back and lifted his hands. "No arrests if I have anything to say about it. I'm no longer a police angel anyway. Andyou're engaged?" "You're not arresting me?" Zuriel tilted his head. "Why are you here? And, yes, Luke asked me to marry him." "I got a transfer." Israfil grinned, wondering if he should ask Chris to marry him as well. It seemed the thing
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union was permanent.

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to do here on Earth when you wanted to tell the world your "To Earth?" Zuriel's eyes widened. "Yep. I am now fully human and currently unemployed. Well, looking for a new career at the moment." He pointed at the information board. "My partner thinks I should get a degree, so I'm trying to make sense of this mess." "You're human? And you have a partner?" Zuriel shook his head. "Well, I guess the latter makes sense, why else would you want to be human. So, who is he?" "Chris Newman. He's a professor here at the college." He bit his cheek to stop himself from going on about what a great guy Chris was. Zuriel wasn't going to be that interested. "And?" Zuriel tilted his head and smiled. "Don't tell me there isn't more you want to talk about." "Of course there is." Israfil laughed. "I'll tell you one of these days. Better yet, why don't we all meet for dinner sometime?" "I don't think I want to wait that long. What about lunch today?" Zuriel pulled out his cell phone. "Luke was going to pick me up anyway since I still haven't managed to get my license. Only humans could come up with such a
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complicated and rule-ridden method of transportation." "I have a lunch date with Chris as well." There went his idea for a nap with all the trappings. Oh, well, making new friends was worth a slight delay. There was always the possibility of creative dinner entertainment instead. "Okay, I'll call Luke, and another friend of mine as well." Zuriel smiled. "I think you might enjoy meeting Araton, he's in the same situation we are." "Araton is here?" What a day this was turning out to be. "You know him?" Zuriel's eyebrows rose. "Yeah, I was told to review his case just before they sent me on that ill-fated mission to try to stop you and Luke from, you know" He still couldn't believe he'd just watched the whole scene instead. Still got him hot, though. "I can't believe it." Zuriel looked up at the ceiling. "Someone has been meddling in our affairs." This time the chuckle out of nowhere was clearly audible. And judging by the way Zuriel's eyebrows rose the other man had heard it as well. "Uhm. Well." How do I follow up on that one? "Call Chris. I'm going to call Luke and Araton." Zuriel shook himself. "Right." Calling Chris he could do.
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Two hours later, they all sat in the small familystyle diner Chris had suggested and were talking up a storm. Well, he and the other two ex-angels were. Their respective partners leaned back, sipped their drinks and looked amused as Israfil established who did what. Interrogation techniques aside, it turned out extremely useful to have someone there who knew how to ask questions aimed at establishing what was what. Araton had apparently run into Zuriel one day when he picked up his partner Jake. Jake was taking classes in educational science so he could become a full-time high school football coach. They weren't engaged, but proudly showed of their matching friendship rings. It made Israfil wonder about the best way to express his need for a commitment from Chris. Araton had become a writer and had submitted several manuscripts to a range of publishers. Nothing had come of it yet, but he remained hopeful. The man had always been such a dreamer, that hadn't changed one bit. Israfil wished him well and promised to buy his books as soon as they were available. It made Araton and Jake grin. Zuriel helped Luke with his motorcycle dealership. His initial reluctance for administrative minutia had changed when he got hold of the accounting files.
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Apparently, he was quite the wiz with numbers and was now taking some classes so he'd know what he was doing. He was also full of wedding plans. Listening to the trials and tribulations of planning an out-of-state ceremony, the hoops they'd had to go through in terms of paperwork and all the stories about everything that might go wrong entertained them for quite a while. Chris and he received verbal wedding invitations and had to promise to attend. He couldn't wait. By the time they were all updated it was time for dessert. Nobody was in a rush to return to their jobs, so they took their time over coffee. A round of 'pass the cell' followed, until everyone had programmed their number into everyone else's phone. It made him laugh, but everyone else seemed to think this perfectly normal. What was wrong with pen and paper? Not that it mattered how they stayed in touch, the main thing was that they did. Their goodbyes were warm and they promised each other to meet again soon. "That was so much fun." He slid into the passenger seat of Chris's car and buckled up. "I still can't believe we all ended up in the same city. I mean, of all the places we could have gone." "You know, I've been thinking about this." Chris
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smiled as he started the car, crossed the parking lot and pulled into traffic. "The whole situation each of you were in, and how you solved your problems, reeks of someone with a plan." "Yeah. And we know who did it." He looked up at the sky without thinking about it. Unbelievable, how quickly these human habits took over. "Yeah, so, since this is the case, is it really so farfetched to think he'd arrange it so that you'd find each other? It's important to have a partner you love, but friends are just as essential. And who'd be more qualified to understand what you're going through than another exangel? It makes a lot of sense." Chris looked at him. "I, for one, am very grateful you have two guys you already know you can turn to." "That's wonderful of you to say." He smiled and rested his hand on Chris's thigh. Just to let him know he was there. "I love you." Chris shrugged. "Of course I want you to be happy." **** A few hours later, as they were spending a quiet
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night in, Chris was sure his lover had something planned. Israfil had been smiling secretively all afternoon, ever since they came back from their amazing lunch meeting. Little touches and kisses as he walked by the dining room table where Chris working on lesson plans gave it away. The other man was supposed to be working through the various course descriptions he'd picked up with Zuriel's help, but it didn't look very dedicated to Chris. "What's going on?" He leaned back in his chair on Israfil's next pass from the sofa into the kitchen. "Oh, nothing." Israfil's attempt to look innocent wasn't very successful, as far as he could tell. "Nothing. Is that so?" That look had him convinced that something was definitely on his lover's mind. "Well, actually." Israfil yawned. The gesture looked as artificial as his declared innocence. "You're tired?" He didn't think it was all that late, but maybe hed better make sure. He checked his watch, eyebrows raising when he realized what time it was. "It's only six o'clock. The sun hasn't even set yet." "I thought, well, maybe we could doother stuff, you know?" Israfil looked so adorably lost and embarrassed, how could he resist?
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"Ah, now I see what you mean." He did, and just the thought of what they might get up to, given an entire evening at their disposal, made him half hard. "Good." Israfil's relief as he took his hand was palpable. They locked up and walked to the bedroom in silence. Israfil didn't let go of his hand once, and Chris didn't want to lose the contact either. When the bedroom door was closed he did let go to turn down the bed. "Come here." He opened his arms and Israfil walked right into them. Despite their difference in height, with his lover towering a good five inches above him, he got the distinct impression Israfil wanted him to be in control. Not that he minded, but he needed to make sure that's what Israfil wanted. He'd held back so far, not wanting to push his lover. There were a lot of things the other man had to deal with, there was no need to add to the pressure. "Is there something you want to tell me, baby?" Chris stroked his lover's back in long, slow movements he hoped would help him to relax a little. This was supposed to be fun and sexy, not stressful. "Well, I've been thinking." Israfil shifted from foot to foot. "Can we lie down for this?"
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"On one condition." He grinned when his lover's eyes widened. "I'd like us to be naked for it. I'm pretty sure we're headed that way anyway, and I haven't seen you naked enough lately. In fact, I don't think I ever will." There was that blush he loved so much. Israfil nodded and they started undressing. More slowly than normal, watching each other reveal more and more skin. It built the mood nicely and he was hard as a rock by the time he slid between the sheets and opened his arms for Israfil to follow. "Better?" Israfil grinned as he pushed his hard erection into Chris's thigh when he turned onto his side so they could look at each other. "Much better." Chris bent forward and kissed his lover. Israfil's tongue came out to play immediately, licking along his lips, and he opened himself up to the other man's caresses. He moaned with the exquisite feelings the soft touches made race down his spine. He was harder than he'd thought possible, but determined not to come before making it inside Israfil. Or the other way around, whatever his lover would be more comfortable with. He wasn't picky. He just wanted them to feel truly connected. "I want you inside me, Chris." Israfil pulled back.
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deeply.

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The whirlwind of emotions visible in his eyes moved him "Are you sure?" He wanted Israfil to know there was no pressure. "We can do it the other way around. I'm versatile." "I'm sure." Israfil smiled that special smile of his. The one he thought of as angelic. "I've never done this before, so I want you to show me." "And you'll do me next time?" Chris's hips bucked of their own volition. "I want you to know that turns me on a whole lot." "I can feel that." His lover grinned and skimmed one of his large hands down his back. "Okay, it's a promise." "Let me get some supplies." He reached toward the nightstand and pulled out a small foil packet and a plastic bottle. He looked at the condom, then at Israfil. "Do we need one of these?" "I don't know." Israfil frowned. "I know I don't have any diseases, having just recently been made human. I also want us to be exclusive, is that how you say it?" "Okay, I'm clean as well. I have the paperwork in my desk, if you want to see it." He hoped not, he was enjoying the view of his naked lover too much. "And I very
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much expect us to be exclusive, sweetheart." Israfil swallowed and nodded. "We're good. I trust you." He settled next to his lover, his hand on Israfil's chest making small circles. The other man arched into the touch and hissed with pleasure when first one then the other nipple was softly stroked. "Love how sensitive you are." Chris bent down and licked both nipples into hardness. Israfil moaned with each touch. "Good?" Chris looked up. "Better than good." Israfil closed his eyes. "More, please." He took his lover's head between his hands and gave him a long, passionate kiss that made his toes curl. He let go with one hand and moved it down Israfil's stomach and stroked his straining cock. Israfil spread his legs. "I guess you really want this." Chris moved between his lover's legs and put them over his shoulders. "Yes. Please." Israfil fisted the sheets. "Before I change my mind and take charge." Chris opened the bottle and drizzled some lube over his fingers. He rubbed them together to warm the
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substance. Slowly bending forward to kiss the engorged cock, he slid his fingers behind Israfils balls straight across his waiting opening and all along his crease. On the way back he circled Israfil's hole, which made the other man buck and press back into the slippery digits. He used first one, then another finger to open and stretch his lover, and spent long minutes softening the skin to prepare him. He needed this to be good for Israfil. The other man soon writhed on the bed, shamelessly pushing back each time he pushed his three fingers inside the clenching hole. "Please take me?" Israfil's eyes were hooded, glazed with passion. He looked irresistible. Chris moved closer, pushed a pillow under his lover's hips for good measure and held his cock so it touched the lubed up opening. Israfil nodded and Chris pushed inside. Finally their bodies were becoming one. The skinto-skin touch felt better than he'd imagined. His heart beat so fast and loud, he was afraid it would jump out of his chest. He looked into Israfil's dark brown eyes the entire time, marveling at the emotions flickering across his lover's expressive face. They went from the initial wince of pain to
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slight apprehension and changed into surprised pleasure He bottomed out on a sigh and held still for a moment, as much to give Israfil time to adjust as to get himself back under control. "Okay?" Sweat beaded on his forehead and he shook with the effort of holding back. "Perfect." Israfil pulled him down for a kiss, spreading his legs farther in the process. Chris slowly pulled back out, making Israfil gasp. He pushed back in and the tight heat made him gasp for breath. Long, deep thrusts made his skin tingle and his balls draw up. Israfil matched the movements of his tongue to those of his lower body, and Chris was ready to come right now. Suddenly Israfil stiffened, arched his back, and shot hot semen across his chest and abdomen. He clung to Chris the whole time, staring into his eyes as he shook with the ecstasy racing through his body. "Fuck!" Chris lost his rhythm and pounded his lover's clenching channel until he could feel his orgasm shoot up from the core of his being. He bent his head and bit into Israfil's shoulder as he shuddered with pleasure and grunted his release as he emptied his balls into Israfil's
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willing body.

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Spent, he collapsed onto his lover and held on. After they had both caught their breath he pulled out and rolled them over to their sides. He sighed and slid a leg between Israfil's thighs to make sure they fit as closely as possible. "Thank you," Israfil whispered. Chris smiled and pressed his face against his lover's sweaty chest. He was too exhausted to speak, but he could always snuggle. "Love you." Chris yawned. "Love you back." Israfil tightened his embrace. Those were the best words he'd ever heard. Knowing that he would be able to say, and hopefully hear, them often made him happier than he'd ever thought possible. "I'm glad my future lies with you." Israfil kissed him on the head and relaxed. Oh yes, that was a sentiment he shared. He'd do his best to make their lives the happiest in all of creation. After all, Israfil was worth it.

The End
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About the Author: I'm a night owl who starts writing when everyone else in my time zone is asleep. I've loved reading all my life and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. Although I always wanted to be a writer, financial independence came first. Twenty-some years and a successful business career later I took some online writing classes and never looked back. Living and working in seven countries has taught me that there's more than one way to get things done. It has instilled tremendous respect for the many different cultures, beliefs, attitudes and preferences that exist on our planet. I like exploring those differences in my stories, most of which happen to be romances. My characters have a tendency to want to do their own thing, so I often have to rein them back in. The one thing we all agree on is the desire for a happy ending. I currently live in the United Kingdom, sharing my house with a vast collection of books. I like reading, travelling, spending time with my nieces and listening to classical music. I have a passion for science and learning new languages. Email: serena@serenayates.com Website: http://www.serenayates.com/ Facebook: Serena Equality Yates Twitter:

@SerenaYates Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show2964333.Serena_Y ates

Also by Serena Yates Available at Silver Publishing: WORKPLACE ENCOUNTERS The Elevator Mechanic The Chauffeur The Ship Engineer The Carpenter CELESTIAL JUSTICE Araton's Destiny Zuriel's Fate Israfil's Future KEEPING YOU: To Find and to Keep (print) Available at Dreamspinner Press: DLRIATA: The Eye of Scota: Cined MISTLETOE SCIENCE The Mistletoe Phenomenon, The Solstice Mistletoe Effect, The Mistletoe Experiment KEEPING YOU To Find and To Keep, To Keep and To Love Available at Total E-Bound: ELEMENTAL SUPERPOWERS (with A.J. Llewellyn) The Cake, The Blancmange (October 2011) THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS Summer Escape (August 1, 2011) NEW HORIZONS

Rescuing the Librarian, Discovering the Actor, Encouraging the Writer, Supporting the Director, Saving the Bodyguard, Noticing the Finance Manager (August 15, 2011) MEN OF RIVERSIDE Finding Elliot, Rediscovering Adrian, Understanding Mark, Saving Zeke, Forgiving Jason, Loving Vicente (September 26, 2011) Max's Italian Romance SCROLLS OF VENGEANCE The Magic Thieves (novel) "The Magic Thieves" novella in the Stealing My Heart anthology "The Magic Thieves" novella version as audio book

Awards

The Elevator Mechanic Best GLBT Book 2010 Siren Book Reviews Best GBLTQ Author 2010 Love Romance Caf Nomination

Reviews The Elevator Mechanic "Serena Yates has the ability to make her charming characters believable and multidimensional. Even during this short tale, the men evolved. Their mutual respect was clear and enhances their relationship. You could see them pull strength from one another in various areas of the story and I knew it wouldn't be long until the saw what I did; that their relationship wasn't trivial but would become lasting and permanent. And their encounters are sensual and laced with love. I'm looking forward to future releases for this series." Scandalous Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews The Chauffeur "I enjoyed this read and would recommend it to my friends as top notch!" Cia, Siren Book Reviews The Ship Engineer "I enjoyed 'The Ship Engineer' a great deal. It was passionate, exciting, emotional and intense. It's a great story to read especially when your spirit needs uplifting and your heart needs to be reassured of the special beauty which can be found in a loving relationship." Lena, Queer Magazine Online Araton's Destiny "Araton's Destiny is an enjoyable, sweet Christmas story with passionate, wonderfully written love scenes and a

great happy ending. It's a marvellous tale about justice, passion and setting things right. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and out and if you are a romantic like me, it will have the same effect on you." Lena, Queer Magazine Onlin