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It is not against the rules for an angel to fall in love with a human.
Then why do I still feel so dirty?
I watched him as he went along his daily routine: going to work, running by the grocery store, feeding his dogs and the birds in his garden, making a dinner for one, and going to sleep.
He looked so peaceful in his sleep, almost as if he was dreaming of petting the softest sheep, falling onto a bed of feathers, holding a newborn baby in his arms. I fell in love with him the first day I was assigned to protect him. The exact moment? When he fell down the stairs into the garden, the clumsy oaf. He got back up, dusted himself off, chuckled at his own ungracefulness, and continued to pour seeds for the birds that flocked to his garden.
The birds had begun to love him as well–a different love than mine, but love nonetheless. They perched themselves on his shoulders and arms, waiting for him to give them food. He would laugh and pet them with his pinky finger, careful not to startle them or crush their delicate heads.
I couldn’t stop thinking about him. And Demon wouldn’t stop laughing about it.
“Oh, Angel, isn’t this the sixth time you’ve fallen in love with a human?”
I groaned and turned to her, crossing my arms. “This time it’s real.”
“Really?” Demon feigned surprise, raising her hands to her cheeks and widening her eyes. “Tell me, why is this time real?”
“Because it isn’t some casual crush on an attractive person. It’s love for a beautiful soul.”
Demon rolled her eyes. “Okay,” she says under her breath sarcastically, but I could tell she understood. “What cheesy romance novel did you get that from?”
“Be quiet,” I laughed and punched her, continued to guard him from afar. If only he knew I existed. We can only show ourselves in order to protect our assignments from true danger, and even then it can be treacherous because our true forms can hurt humans’ eyes.
So, I dealt with my feelings of passion alone, with only Demon to make fun of them for me.
But I knew Demon didn’t mean any harm by it. After all, she had fallen in love with a human before, so she knows the feeling. But it’s different for a demon. They don’t have a reason to be close to humans other than to tempt them or bring sinners’ souls to Hell.
But Demon got too close to a human that she tried to tempt. He was a priest, a man of God, and she tried to tempt him to steal money from the church.
Alas, he did not.
In fact, instead of getting angry at Demon, he smiled at her and said, “I will pray extra for you, Demon.” Demon came to jeers and tauntings from the fellow demons since she had lost the bet she made to tempt the priest. No demon could accomplish this feat, but she couldn’t care less. Especially since she couldn’t stop thinking about him.
She went out of her way to get close to him under the guise of tempting him, but she and the priest knew it was more than that. She had fallen in love with him.
It had seemed as though the priest had tempted her.
But he tragically perished from the roof of the church collapsing on him during a hurricane–a hurricane so powerful, it semed to have come from God Himself. The priest did not even think about leaving his church alone, and he withstood the storm, praying the entire time, until the winds became too much. He died painlessly, but Demon didn’t care. A little piece of her died with the priest that day, and not as painlessly as he did. She tried to get him from Heaven, to bring him back to life, but he downright refused her.
“If God wanted me to die that day, then so be it.”
Demon’s heart–that was already black to begin with–withered and broke into pieces like the petals of a dead rose. Not only had the love of her life died, but he refused her.
So she understood my love for my human, but she did not miss a beat to make fun of my hopeless romantic personality.
I had to save the man from quite a few blunders, almost always made by him. Why did I have to be assigned to such an adorably clumsy man? Every time he picked up a knife or a pair of scissors or God forbid a chainsaw, I had to keep a very close eye on him.
I would have to go down to Earth, keeping my form hidden, and try to protect him from himself. I would guide his hand away from his fingers as he would try to chop a tomato; I would turn his hand so the scissors would point downwards as he fell; I would try my best to control the chainsaw and the ladder he was standing on as he trimmed the trees in his garden.
By the end of the day, I would go home to Heaven physically exhausted from trying not to get him killed, but I loved him for it. It gave me all the more chances to be near him, to notice the light stubble on his chin, his coarse eyebrows that framed his face perfectly, his chapped lips that formed the most beautiful smile.
I could have wrriten an entire romantic novel about all the things I loved about him, but I would have never gotten to finish because one day, like the fool he was, he walked into the wrong alleyway on his way home from a late shift at work.
He had no concern for his own safety at night. He had taken a couple of martial arts classes, so he would be fine.
But martial arts have no effect on a gun.
The robber standing in the alleyway noticed the man, pushed himself off the wall, and came at him with the speed of a jaguar. He pushed a gun into my assignment’s chest and yelled at him to give him his wallet. The man stood his ground and threw a punch at the robber, trying his best to remember his martial arts training. But alas, the robber wedged out of the man’s chokehold, and before I could even begin to run down to Earth, pulled the trigger.
The robber took the man’s wallet and other belongings and ran down the alleyway like a coward. By the time I made it down to Earth, the man–the love of my life–had already taken his last breath.
And he never knew I existed.
I stood there, shocked by grief, as Death appeared behind a corner.
“You can’t take him,” I demanded. “You won’t take him.”
Death smiled. “You don’t have a say in this, Angel.”
I tossed myself over his body and hugged him tight. The first time I touched him, he was cold.
Suddenly, his body was no longer there but in Death’s arms, and as much as I tried to chase after Death, he got away from me.
I sat there in that alleyway, covered in my love’s blood, sobbing and cradling myself pathetically.
That’s when I felt a hand on my shoulder, and when I turned, it was Demon gazing back at me.
“Let’s go get him,” she said. So we both made our way to Death’s palace.
Death met us at the door with a disappointed look on his face.
“He’s in processing,” he mumbled before we could even say anything. “We’re deciding whether to send him to Heaven or Hell.”
“You’re not sending him anywhere,” Demon commanded in a low voice. “He’s staying on Earth, and you’re going to make it look like a near-death shooting. He’s going to wake up in the hospital and be perfectly fine.”
“And why would I do that? To satisfy your love for him?” Death turned to me. His expression softened when he saw the tears in my bloodshot eyes, but he stood by his statement. “I can’t do it. You know that. I need a soul in return to replace his.”
“I’ll do it,” Demon exclaimed, but Death scoffed.
“You don’t have a soul, Demon,” Death said.
“But I have a heart,” Demon replied quickly. “A demon’s heart is more powerful than a human soul.”
“No demon would give theirs up,” I turned to her angrily, “because it’s a stupid thing to do. Especially for an angel’s cause.”
She met my gaze and smiled. “I know what it’s like to be in love. You know that. And I want to give you a chance to love somebody…and for them to love you back.” An expression of pain crossed her face for only a moment before it went back to happiness, and I knew that if I turned her down, it would hurt her more than accepting her offer.
Demon turned to Death confidently. “Bring the man here to see if he will accept coming back to life. Then I’ll give you my heart.”
“How will I know you’ll follow through?” Death asked.
“You know I will.”
Death thought for a moment before obliging and went into his palace. We stood in silence for a while, and I began to wonder if Demon was starting to regret her choice. But I looked over at her, and the entire time, she was smiling.
The love of my life came out, bewildered and tired, Death holding him tightly by the arm.
“This is highly unethical, Angel,” he warned.
“I disagree,” I replied. “This is me protecting my assignment.”
Death looked to Demon expectantly.
“Wait,” Demon said and motioned for the man to come closer. His eyes widened with fear, but I quickly enveloped him in a hug so caring that hopefully the love in my heart transferred to his. His arms were limp at his sides before they rose up, slowly but surely, hesitating to hug me, until they finally wrapped around my waist.
“I’m dead?” he whispered in my ear.
“Not for long,” I replied, pulling apart from him just enough so that he could see the grin on my face.
I hugged him again, and over his shoulder, I could see Demon waving at me with the most wistful and soft smile I’ve ever seen. She turned to Death, held out her hand, and was met with Death’s hand in a firm handshake.
Demon turned her head, and for one last moment, we shared a glance that said everything we had to say to each other.
“Thank you. For everything,” my gaze said.
“Enjoy your love,” her gaze said. “And don’t let him die again.”
And then she was gone, dissipated into a cloud of black smoke–all that was left was a black heart in Death’s hand. Death nodded at me and went back into his palace without another word.
My love and I hugged for what felt like hours, and the entire time, my mind was blank other than the same message repeated over and over and over:
Demons can love.