Gabriel doesn’t speak to him for weeks.
The truth is, Michael doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. Except, the silent treatment begins after Uriel’s birthday party and there’s a lot of the night that Michael cannot remember. And he’s anxious because Uriel texted him the next day with vague allusions to the Lord’s chosen doing unspeakable, drunken things.
Gabriel keeps saying nothing, ducks sideways when he sees Michael coming down the corridor and ignores the many texts and missed calls. Acts like they haven’t worked together for years, gone on many a-mission, fucking saved people side by side. Gabriel doesn’t even glance his way, ever.
That’s why Michael is fucking flabbergasted to find Gabe in his office, sitting in his chair and incongruous, all soft blue leather and copper studding against the neutral decor, feet on the table, the sole of one boot adorned with a smear of ash from a recently crushed cigarette (angels are not supposed to goddamned smoke). Michael veers between hyperventilating and the fucking unholy heat clenching in his stomach.
“What… what are you doing here?” He detests the way his voice comes out with a shake.
Gabe says nothing, just holds up the book he’s reading. Michael spots the elegantly embossed gold lettering on the front cover and dizzyingly thinks he’s going to pass out.
There’s some truth to the concept of the story of humankind. It’s written, in Michael’s neat script, across the thin brown pages of a defiantly thick book bound in a rich red cover. A tale that is literally as old as time, and special as fuck, given how you could, you know, stop perusing and watch something iconic happen in real time in front of you.
Michael’s blood pressure is rising because Gabriel is holding that book and who even knows if time is even a continuum anymore now that it’s in his hands. Hands that are slim, and delicate, but surprisingly strong. Michael has no idea why or how he knows that.
“Put it down. I’m dead meat if anyone finds you with that.”
“Why?” Drawling. Laconic.
“You know why, Gabriel.”
“Let’s say I didn’t… Michael.”
He’s convinced it’s the small pause before the way Gabriel says his name that drives all thoughts of the rules and regulations out of his mind, which fills instead with an extremely vivid memory of the time Gabe came back from a mission with his suit and shirt in tatters and inches upon inches of his dark brown skin showing. The richness of it, several hues darker than his own, haunted Michael’s dreams for months.
“Because if you do anything, interfere in any way,” the words are dragged out of him by strength of habit, “even by accident, then the whole thing will have to be rewritten and you know some of the details change when that happens. Look at the Bible…”
He trails off, because Gabriel is making a rumbling sound of disagreement. “You’re such a fucking law-abiding asshole. You always have been. Since day one.”
Michael is still searching for an answer when Gabriel casually shuts the book and tosses it at him, as if that shit isn’t irreplaceable. Instinct makes him reach out, catch it with unerring grace.
He notices the bookmark almost immediately, a tattered piece of leather Michael realises has been torn from the bottom of Gabe’s jacket. Even from here, it smells like menthol and cedar wood aftershave and fucking ozone.
“You left something behind,” he says absently, distracted.
“It’s for you, Mish.”
He doesn’t know why Gabriel calls him that. It’s just always been so. It just sounds so different now. Tearing his gaze away from Gabriel’s mouth requires considerable concentration.
But he does, and opens to where the bookmark is holding a place. Michael starts to read, pulled deeper with each word into time until the scene is happening in front of his face. Uriel’s birthday party, lights strung over them and Freddy Mercury flooding out the speakers. He watches himself do too many Suitcases, watches Gabe drag him off for some fresh air. They talk for — and Michael counts — precisely ten minutes.
And then he hears himself utter words — words he didn’t even know how to say, except then, with his tongue loosened by bourbon. He watches the surprise unfurl all over Gabe’s face, watches him pause and collect himself, reach out to grip Michael’s shoulders and then lean slowly forward.
He shuts his eyes because he knows what happens next. He remembers pulling away, now, and letting fear rule the sputtering, drunken courage in his heart. He ran, then. He ran and didn’t look back at Gabriel, who called his name twice.
“I didn’t talk to you,” Gabriel’s voice is low and tight when it breaks the silence, “because all I want to ask you is if you meant what you said or were you just fucking wasted?”
His eyes are so intent and dark when he looks at Michael, who closes the book — leaving the leather scrap inside — and tries to suck air into his aching lungs. The tension that has been roiling in the depths of him is suddenly sitting right beneath his skin and Michael is excruciatingly aware of Gabe’s leathers creaking as he stands and walks around the desk.
“I didn’t talk because I knew that if I asked you that question, you’d probably run again,” he adds softly.
Michael concedes the point by lowering his head. Also because he cannot bear to look at Gabriel, right in front of him, for another second — the combination of heartbreak and yearning on his face eats away at Michael’s ability to speak.
“I’m sober now.”
He knows Gabriel has come closer because his entire body lights up like a candle.
“And I’m not running.”
Because conceding is conceding and when he looks up, he catches a whiff of toffee right before Gabriel’s mouth closes over his and the world fizzles away under that heat. It’s desperate and they clash teeth and Michael feels like he’s drowning and it’s the hottest thing he’s ever done, hot enough to make him whimper when Gabriel pulls back.
“She’s going to kill us,” he says, voice unwontedly hoarse, a finger tracing the curve of Gabe’s jaw.
He huffs a laugh. “Are you kidding? She’s known for years, Mish.”
“Oh,” Michael says, resolving to have a talk with his boss come Monday but wanting to kiss Gabriel again more than anything in the world. “Oh okay.”