by Cherry Ice

Fire and wind and nothing, and like that it's gone.

"Wham, bam," Bartleby says. Says "thank you, ma'am," too, and throws up on the grass because Loki would usually say the last part.

(Loki's not here.)

"You're right. He's not."

And shit, he didn't think that out loud, did he?

"Tell me, did dying really do that much damage to your mind, or was it Wisconsin?"


Fuck, he wants to say, but he's shaking and cold and his arms give out on him. The sky swings overhead and it's all he can do to raise one finger, but he thinks Metatron understands.

"Of course, Watcher. It is the thought that counts."

The sky is swimming overhead, sickeningly blue; there's a sour taste in his mouth and he's lying inches away from a puddle of his own vomit.

"What do you want?" Bartleby asks. "What the ever-loving FUCK do you want?"

Loki isn't here.

"You really are a selfish git, aren't you?" the Metatron asks dryly, and it's not really a question at all.

"Whatever," is all Bartleby can find the energy to say.

"You ought to be glad, you know," Metatron says, and looms over him. He's got his wings sheathed but his shadow obscures his face.

"For what, dickweed?" and it sounds lame even to his own ears, especially considering Metatron's physiology. (If Loki was here, he'd have come up with something worse before Bartleby could open his mouth.)

"Well, for starters, that Loki isn't, in fact, here."

"--Right." The sour taste rises in the back of his throat and he thinks he's going to be ill again. Knows it, because though the blood's probably gone from his hands -- it's gone from his shoulders, his fucking head exploded and the mess is gone, a bit of blood beneath his nails is nothing -- it's never going to come clean.

He thinks: of Wisconsin without Loki, of how long never can be, thinks `I just wanted to go home,' and he manages to turn over before he vomits.

He just wanted to go home.

Cold hands on his forehead, propping him up because his arms are too weak.

"What do you want?" he asks. Angels don't cry and he hates in that moment, truly hates.

"The thing is, dear boy, that you are forever missing the point. It's not about what I want. It's never about what I want."

Is he supposed to cry crocodile tears for Metatron, for the mother fucking voice of God, with Her approval and Her smile and the lilt of Her song? "Where's Loki?" he asks. He thinks the whole `vomiting' thing should have him worried. "Where is he?"

"That one," Metatron says, and smoothes back Bartleby's hair, "that one got the point, even if he didn't know it."

Fucking right he got the point. Bartleby gave it to him, and Loki knew it, because Bartleby thinks the look in his eyes is going to replace that first glimpse of Wisconsin as the worst thing he's ever seen.

"Giving up your life trying to stop the end of the world -- even if you did help bring about said end -- buys a lot of redemption." The Metatron smoothes back his hair, and Bartleby really hates him in that moment, wants to rip his wings off and watch him fall to earth and fall from grace.

And he lies there, with his head in Metatron's lap, stares at the blue sky and he wishes he could cry. "God," he says, "is not great. God is fickle and cruel, and none know it better than I."

"Wisconsin really did addle your skull, didn't it?"

Bartleby really wishes he had the energy to shove the Metatron away, shove his nose back into his brain cavity.

"It was never a prison term, you know," Metatron says. Pauses. "Well actually, it was, but we never threw away the key. How exactly does one go about doing dick all for thousands of years, anyway?"

Bartleby's face is cold, and wet, but he doesn't know where the moisture's coming from.

"You've got one last chance, and if you ask me it's several more than you deserve."

"Like you said, though," Bartleby says. His throat hurts deep down, like he's been screaming, like someone punched him and he didn't even notice. "It's not about what you want."

"It's never about what we want."

He wanted to go home. He wanted Her forgiveness.

"God is great," Metatron says. "One more chance, one life. You always missed the point. You had Her forgiveness from the moment of your inception. It's redemption you have to earn."

"I miss Loki," he says. He's been alive for ten minutes, and he doesn't really want to know if love would have saved them a thousand years ago.

"Once more through this mortal coil," Metatron says. "He forgave you for getting him thrown out of heaven. He'll be waiting at the end."


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