David Nearly Thirteen

Written by Caleb Wilson

Part 1

He threw back his cowl and looked at the face that stared back at him - the empty sockets for eyes, the hole for a nose and the hideous grin for a mouth that made even him turn his head in revulsion.

Lifting his bony hand he passed it over the mirror and the face changed. He looked again at the reflection and the transformed image that stared back at him. It was to his liking. The face he looked at was of a young black haired man with vivid green eyes. His lips, which were full, were of the lightest pink; his complexion was so fair that it emphasised his striking features. He sighed with pleasure at his appearance and stripped away his black cloak and threw it to the ground, then stared at the rest of his body and was pleased at the result.

He donned his 21st century apparel and Death, for it was he, transported himself to his favourite site on the planet, far away from the mortals that he had moved amongst for the last one hundred years, where he could relax and let what had passed before be but a faint memory for this one day of rest.

He could have selected any one of an infinite number of planets to spend his day of rest, but he had worked on this particular planet and to him it was one of the best that the boss had created; he'd really gone out on a limb when creating it. So why not spend your day off at home?

The site had changed over the century. Now where he lay he could gaze up into an azure sky with nothing to cloud his view. The last time he lay here there was no sky to be seen, only the green canopy provided by the trees that had surrounded him; now the only trees in sight were a bit further up stream.

He wished for nothing more than to be on his own on this one day of respite from his involvement with the human race.

He saw enough of them on his daily excursions, from the very young a few seconds old, to those wrinkled and toothless patiently waiting for him to appear, the obese and malnourished, the rich and the poor. He was not prejudiced in his choice of victims he embraced them all into his arms as he sucked the life force from their bodies leaving an empty carcase for the bereaved to deal with.

As he lay on the banks of the river he closed his eyes and let the warmth of the sun play over his being and indulged himself in a bit of thought-free relaxation.

His mind floated in a void completely at rest. He would stay like this till it was time for him to return to his calling.

He was jolted from his solitary tranquillity by a sudden scream. He opened his eyes, lifted his head and looked in the direction of the sound.

He could see a person splashing in the water. Looking closer it seemed to be a young boy struggling to stay afloat. The boy went under and he didn't move to assist him, instead he looked around expecting to see his stand-in for the day appear but no apparition was forthcoming.

"Seems that the boy is not wanted yet," he thought, "I wonder where his rescuer is," suddenly he heard a laugh from above and he groaned.

"Damn! The boss has a wicked sense of humour," he mumbled. He thought about walking over to the boy and pulling him out of the water but decided against it, he didn't want to have to answer awkward questions if any other humans in the vicinity saw him. Instead he divested himself of his outer garments and dived into the river. A few powerful strokes assisted by his mind brought him alongside the boy. He wrapped an arm around the struggling mortal and within seconds had them both lying on the river bank. He turned the boy onto his stomach then placing a hand on his back pumped the water from his lungs. The boy spluttered as the water was expelled and shortly he groggily sat up.

"Thanks mister! I thought I was going to die back there."

He looked at the mortal that he'd pulled from the river and inwardly smiled thinking of the irony of it. Death saving a human's life that one day he would have to claim. His thoughts were invaded by the boy asking.

"Would you like to come back to my campsite where we could both get dry?"

"No you go ahead. I'm okay. I'll soon dry off in the sun."

"Oh come on mister." the boy stood then grabbed his hand trying to pull him to a standing position.

Reluctantly he gave way to the boy's demands and got to his feet. "So where is this campsite of yours and how many of you are there?"

"Only me! I'm camped at the bottom of our garden"

"So what's your name and how old are you?"

David, David Jennings, and I'm nearly thirteen, well in about seven months."

"Alright David, nearly thirteen, how did you manage to get in the water."

"You see those trees at the edge of the bank," the boy said pointing, "And how the branches reach right over the river, well I was trying to get up to a higher branch and I slipped and fell in."

"If you're going to play near a river wouldn't it be advisable to learn how to swim."

"Yeah I guess so, but my dad and mum don't seem to have the time to send me for swimming lessons."

"So don't you have swimming lessons at school?"

"I don't go to school," the boy said squeezing some of the water from his T-shirt, "I'm privately tutored."

"Ah I see, so where's your teacher?"

It's summer holidays now; he won't be back till September. Come on! Lets go to my camp? Then we can dry off."

"Okay David nearly thirteen - lead on," he said, as he stooped to retrieve his clothing and, bare footed and in his underwear, he followed the boy along the river bank.

"What's your name?" The boy asked over his shoulder.

"Guess."

"I don't know," and the boy thought for a while, "umm Michael."

"Death smiled at the name wondering if a certain winged being was listening in on the conversation. Then he asked, "What made you choose Michael?"

"Just ... You sorta look like a Michael."

"You really surprise me. Are you able to read minds? Because you guessed right!"

"Really?" The boy asked, turning around to face the man and walking backwards, "It was only a guess."

Inwardly death smiled before saying, "Well that's my name. Are you sure you can't read minds?"

"No, honest I can't; it was just a fluke. I had no idea what your name was." the boy said, with a look of consternation on his face. Then turning around again and continuing his walk saying, "Come on, Michael! We're nearly there."

The man let the boy assume his name was Michael; he didn't suppose it would go down too well if he were to tell him by what name the human race knew him.

As they neared the trees that the boy had fallen from they came upon an enclosure that stopped short about twenty feet away from the river bank and was surrounded by a wire fence. The boy halted and turning to the man said, "The fence is electrified but we only switch it on at night in case of burglars. It won't kill you but it will give you a nasty shock."

The man smiled at the remark. They skirted the fence; then came upon a gate which was open. With the boy leading the way they walked through and when they had entered he closed it and locked it with a key which hung around his neck.

Michael looked around and saw a tent - rather large for just one small boy. It was situated roughly in the middle of enclosure that was approximately fifty metres wide and ran all the way towards what looked like quite an impressive house. It was about 100 metres away. "Are your parents at home?"

"No they're away in Athens, on some world conservation meeting."

"So who's looking after you?"

"Rupert, the butler.What time is it, Michael?"

"12.38pm"

"How do you know? You don't have a watch on."

"Trust me. I know! It's 12.39pm now."

"Well, if you're right, Rupert will be having his afternoon nap. If he were awake I'd take you to meet him. He's really very nice but quite old."

"Don't worry, David. I'll meet him later."

"Okay! Come on into the tent and I'll get you a towel."

"Its okay I'm dry now."

The boy came forward and felt the man's underwear which was bone dry. "Gosh how did that happen? My clothes are still soaking."

"Body heat! I told you - I dry up quickly."

"Well, alright; come into the tent anyway, while I dry and change my clothes."

They went into the tent where the boy, without any inhibitions, stripped and dried himself. When he'd finished he put on a clean pair of jockey briefs then pulled on a tracksuit bottom and yellow T-shirt.

While the boy changed, the man dressed himself and sat down on the foot of an air mattress.

David came over to him handing him a comb, and sitting on the ground between the man's legs with his back to him said, "Could you do my hair please Michael?"

"I don't really know what style you have it in." - he was looking at the boy's tangle of blonde hair that had been rubbed to a reasonable dryness.

"Just comb it straight back. I like it when someone combs my hair; it's a really neat feeling."

He held the boy's head with one hand and started to run the comb gently through his hair from front to back. The simple action caused a tingle to run through his being. Never in his existence had he been so close and intimate with a human. The sensation was new to him. He savoured it and let it envelope him as he continued combing the boy's hair and stroking his head. David was silent and his head moved with each stroke of the comb as if he had no control over it.

Michael sensed the boy was sleeping; he stopped combing his hair and gently lay back on the air mattress pulling the boy up beside him and at the same time letting David's head rest on his chest.

He lay content for a while and let his mind drift, casting all thoughts from it so that he could rest, and soon joined the boy in sleep.

He woke up knowing that David was watching him. He opened his eyes and was aware that a few hours had passed and that the sun would soon set.

"Did you sleep well?" The boy enquired.

"Yes thank you, David."

He frowned and knitted his eyebrows, "Are you an Alien?"

"What makes you think that I'm an Alien?"

"When I woke up my head was on your chest. It felt really nice lying there but then I noticed I couldn't feel or hear your heartbeat. I could feel mine but even when I felt you all over I couldn't feel yours"

"Would you be scared if I was an Alien?"

"Nope! If you were going to harm me you wouldn't have bothered to save me in the river or let me sleep using your chest as a pillow."

"Good point."

"So you are an Alien then?"

"Well sort of, but just let's say I am. That will save me having to do a lot of explaining."

"So where's your spaceship?

"Umm I don't need one."

" Woa way out! You're like a super hero with special powers."

"Yes I have special powers, but I'm not sure about being on a par with super heroes.

"Can you move really fast?"

"Yes."

"How fast"

"Do you know the size of your planet?"

"Uh huh."

"Well I can be in ten thousand different places anywhere on the planet at the same time."

"Woa, Superman or Silver Surfer can't move that fast."

"Who are they?"

"They're just pretend super heroes."

"So what do they do?"

"They go around the world putting all the bad things right."

So who's your favourite?"

"Silver Surfer; he's way cool."

"What does he look like?"

"Umm sort of ..."

"Never mind! I got the picture from your mind."

"You did! Way out! But you look a lot younger than them."

"How old do I look?"

"Dunno; about nineteen, or twenty."

"I'm a bit older than that, but if it's looks that count and I look about twenty then we'll leave it at that."

"Can you show me how fast you move?"

"No, but when I leave you can watch me go".

"When are you leaving?"

"Just before midnight."

"Oh man! Can't you stay for a few days and keep me company. I've only got Rupert here. He's nice but he's too old to play with me."

"Sorry David I have to be back by midnight. If I don't leave on time my superior would yank me back pretty quick and then I'd be in big trouble."

"Can't you talk to him Michael, and ask him to let you stay for a week. We could do all sorts of things and I've also got a canoe which you could teach me how to paddle. My dad hasn't had time to show me yet. And you could sleep on the air mattress with me; it's wide enough for two or if not I could get you a sleeping bag."

Just then their conversation was interrupted by a voice calling the boy's name.

"That's Rupert, I have to go in for my evening meal but I'll be back unless you want to join me."

"No thank you David, I don't need to eat anything."

"I thought so. Okay I'm going and while I'm away you have a word with your boss and see if he'll let you stay for a week. Tell him I asked."

David left the tent and Michael sat wondering how he was going to tell him that his request had been denied.

"You haven't asked," a voice said inside his head, "And there's no need to. You've got a week! Make sure you're back here on time and bring the boy with you; you need an assistant since the human race has multiplied so rapidly in the last hundred years. And think about a new working image when you get back. The boy won't like your present one and, personally, I think it's become a bit dated."

He transformed himself into David's image of the Silver Surfer, "How's this boss?"

" Well its better than that bloody skeleton look. What about the boy?"

"He can be a replica of me but in Gold."

"Okay, you've got a week."

"Yes boss." And he transformed himself back to Michael.

Grinning he lay back relishing the thought that he was to spend a week here! Just him and the boy, doing all the things the boy wanted to and he would be able to indulge himself in the boy's presence, and get those wonderful sensations again.

Then, after the week, they would have an eternity together.

Twenty minutes later he stood outside the tent watching David walk down the garden towards him. When David-nearly-thirteen stood beside him. He smiled at him saying, "I've a got a week."

"Yeah" the boy yelled jumping into Michael's arms.

Part 2

He unravelled the boy from around him and put him down on the ground, "So what do you do in the evenings David?"

"Not a lot as I don't normally have anyone to play with, but now we can do whatever you want. Like going for a walk down to the village or when it gets darker looking for glow worms or try and catch some fireflies"

"Okay but you'll have to show me I haven't had a lot of experience in catching fireflies or glow worms."

"The glow worms are no problem you have to look for them on the ground but the fireflies are much harder to catch, but the speed you say that you can move at Michael, it will be easy peasy for you."

"Yes I suppose so."

"Oh by the way I told Rupert about you."

"What did he have to say?"

"He didn't believe me at first; thought I was making it up, but when I told him about not being able to find your heartbeat and you admitting you were an alien then he started to get worried, and was thinking about calling the police. I told him not to and that if it wasn't for you I wouldn't be having my supper and talking to him, and in any case, if he did call the police, you'd just disappear and he'd look a right fool, and I wouldn't back his story."

"Thanks David for siding with me. So he's alright with us camping out together?"

"Yes, he'll bring my hot drink down to the tent at about 9.00pm. Oh and I told him to make you one as well. You should try our hot chocolate. I'm sure you'll like it, and if you don't you can always throw it in the river."

"Alright David I'll give it a try. Come on! Let's go for this walk to the village, and when it gets dark we can hunt for glow worms and fireflies."

"Okay," and the boy took Michael by the hand and led him along the river bank.

The simple act of taking him by the hand was giving him feelings of the same kind as when he combed the boy's hair. The contact of the boy's hand in his was making him feel the utmost contentment – contentment that was nearly on a par with what he felt when in the presence of the Supreme Being.

They walked hand in hand till the boy stopped and jerked him to a halt as well.

"Give me a piggy back Michael."

"Umm I'm sorry I don't have one; I don't know what they are."

David started laughing then said haltingly through his laughter, "It's not something you own Michael: it's carrying me on your back. We call it a piggy back ride.

"Oh I see. Alright climb up."

"No you've got to hunch down. Then when I've wrapped my arms around your neck you straighten up. Then when you're standing I can wrap my legs around your body, and you can put your hands under my thighs to support me."

He hunched down and the boy did the necessary. As he straightened, David's legs wrapped around his waist and he grasped David's thighs with his hands. Walking hand in hand with David was thrilling. Having David on his back and stuck to him like a leech was a hundred times better.

"How do we get to the village, David?"

"There's a bridge about half a mile up river. You can't see it from here; it's around the bend. We can cross over and go to the village. I need to buy some bars of chocolate. I've run out."

They continued the walk and the boy leaned forward and put his cheek against Michael's then gently rubbed them together. Michael's senses were becoming overloaded.

"What's happening to me Boss?"

"Okay Michael - or would you prefer I call you by your known name."

"Michael is good."

"Alright then listen. The only contact you've had with humans is when they are ready to expire and you drain their life forces - or as they call it their souls - and return them to me. Now you're experiencing a different type of contact with a human. This is physical involvement and companionship. The boy is lonely; he has parents who, although they love him, have forgotten how to show that love and they value their work above caring for their child. He's been saying a prayer for a companion for many, many months and you seem to him like an answer to his prayers."

"So what are these feelings?"

"David has been lacking companionship from the day he was born, he has never had anyone his own age to play with and, in you, he's just found a companion he has desired for many years, and what you're feeling is the emotions that the boy is feeling. They are feelings of happiness and love at having you with him. He's also at an age when his body is going through some major changes as he starts his journey to adulthood, and David can get quite amorous at times."

" And, Michael, human adults can get very suspicious about close friendships between other adults and young people in their care so I've explained things to Rupert to allay his suspicions. He knows you are an angel and that David wants to stay with you and that he may stay with you for ever." "OK Boss." said Michael.

There was a pause before the Supreme Being continued, "You know that since the time when I had to chastise Lucifer and his followers I placed a ban on spiritual beings from having any physical or emotional involvement with humans in any form whatsoever. In your case I lifted that block so that you could experience the feelings that your young friend is having. You can now sense and feel David's emotions. And, if you wish, you are at liberty to reciprocate those feelings."

"You set this up Boss?"

"Just say I umm pulled a few strings."

"What else have you got lined up for me?"

"Wait and see."

Suddenly the boy started to squirm on his back, "Uh Michael can you put me down please."

Not wanting to lose the presence of the boy's closeness he asked, "Why? Are you uncomfortable?"

"Umm no, but Umm I need to get down please it's … … Oh gosh I've got a stiffy."

"What's that?"

"I'll explain later just let me down

"Is it that lump I can feel on my back."

"I'm sorry Michael, really I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it and you don't have to get down - unless of course you want to. I like having you so close."

"If you're not bothered by it then I'll stay on your back," and the boy hugged himself tightly onto Michael's back, at the same time nuzzling their faces together."

They walked in silence for a while, till Michael asked, "What happens when you get a stiffy?"

"Umm it's a bit hard to explain if you don't know anything about the reproductive system. I didn't know till a year ago when I learnt about it in biology lessons. My teacher explained most of it, and I've also been reading some books on the subject."

"So can't you explain it to me if you've learnt about it?"

"Umm I ... ... Okay! Before we go to bed I'll try and explain it to you." Just then they rounded the bend in the river and the bridge came into view, "There's the bridge Michael. We can cross there and make our way into the village. If you're tired of carrying me you can put me down."

"No! You hardly weigh anything. We'll carry on like this." He was reluctant to let go of his young charge."

They continued their journey with the boy happier than he had been in a long time. Michael, was the companion that he'd been waiting for - like forever. Someone to talk to and to play with, and, when he needed it, to snuggle up to, and he gave his friend another squeeze with his arms and rubbed their faces together, with his stiffy still rubbing into Michael's back.

With the boy's guidance he eventually stood outside the local mini supermarket and reluctantly had to set the boy down so that they could enter the store. Five minutes later they were back out again with the chocolates that the boy needed.

"Do you want me to give you a piggy back again David?"

"No I had better walk I can get some exercise, and we can do some stone skipping on the way back."

"Alright explain it to me."

"Oh yeah I forgot you're an alien," and the boy proceeded to explain stone skipping, and told Michael that his record was four.

When they crossed back over the river David hunted around for flat stones and showed Michael the kind to look for. When they'd collected a few stones each, David said that he'd go first to show Michael how to do it. He walked to the edge of the river bank, pulled back his arm, hunkered down a bit and let fly. His stone flew out of his hand, hit the surface of the water and then bounced off it three times before sinking.

Turning to his friend the boy said, "Okay Michael that's how you do it now you have a go."

Following David's example he let fly with his stone. It flashed across the river - a blur - skipping over the water till it slammed into the bank on the other side."

"That's incredible! I think that was - like fifteen skips and it would have been more if the river were broader. Well that's the end of that; no chance of me beating you."

"Sorry David! Did I spoil the game."

"No you were brilliant. I just wish I could take you up to a lake and see how many skips you can do."

Putting an arm around the boy he said, "How about when we get around the bend in the river? The straight bit is about 400m long. I can skip a stone along it instead of across."

"Yeah Michael that will be brilliant. " The boy wriggled free from Michaels arm then grabbed his hand and started pulling him along saying, "Come on, hurry up! I want to see how many you can do"

They rounded the bend in the river and stopped, David released Michael's hand, "Okay! Here's the straight bit, Michael. Now have a go." he said.

Michael selected a stone, moved right to the edge of the river bank, hunkered down some, pulled his arm and, watched by the boy, he let it rip. The stone flew across the water skipping along. It went at such speed that the boy's eyes opened in astonishment, as he watched the stone fly down the length of the river till he saw a splash of mud fly into the air as the stone crashed into the bank - 400m away where the river again curved around to the right.

" Oh gosh! That must be a world record Michael. Go on throw another one," and Michael complied with the boy's wishes. But this time, using his mind, he made the stone turn around on reaching the bend and return towards them and then jump out of the water and land at David's feet.

David, overawed and dumbfounded by what he'd just seen, bent down and picked up the stone. He looked at it then put it in his pocket and said, "That was magic. I'm keeping this stone forever." Then taking Michael by the hand said, "Come on. Lets get back to the camp; we can sit and talk till Rupert brings the hot chocolate."

He let David lead him by the hand, absolutely captivated by the boy's acceptance of him and by the way he now wanted to include him in everything he did.

They reached the gate that led into the garden and David did the necessary, unlocking it then locking it when they were in.

Once inside the tent, before sitting down on the air mattress, David put his bars of chocolate away. Then coming over to Michael plonked himself down beside him.

"We can have a look for glow worms and fireflies after we've had our hot chocolate. It should be dark enough by then," David said, "Gosh I forgot you haven't got any nightwear to sleep in."

"That's alright David; I can easily transform my clothes into nightwear."

"You can?"

"Yes, as you would say 'easy peasy'."

"Go on then show me."

"Umm, have you any nightwear to show me? Then I'll have an idea what it looks like."

David went over to where his clothes were kept and took out a pair of navy blue night shorts and a pale blue T-shirt. Holding them up he showed them to Michael, saying, "These are what I wear."

Seconds later Michael was still sitting on the air mattress but now he was clad in nightwear of exactly the same style and colour that the boy had showed him.

David laughed saying "Now why can't I do that? It would save a whole heap of time." then he got serious. "You're not really an alien, Michael, are you?"

"No, David, I'm not."

"I thought so! Aliens couldn't travel through space without some form of vehicle. Can you tell me where you're from please?"

"Come here David."

The boy put his nightwear down and then walked over to Michael and sat leaning against him.

Michael put an arm around David and lifted him and put him between his outstretched legs then hugged him and leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "I'm an Angel, David."

David turned his head to look at him. "Are you the Archangel Michael?"

"No, my real name is Sammael but you can go on using Michael. It doesn't really matter."

"Why are you here?"

"Well, you see, every hundred years I get a day off, and I can go any place I want. I normally come down here by the river to relax and then head back at midnight. The only difference this time was a certain nearly thirteen-year-old boy who fell in the river and I was told to save him."

"Who told you?"

"Who do you think we take our orders from?"

"Oh crikey you mean God."

"Absolutely."

David untangled himself from Michael's embrace then turning around and on his knees facing Michael said, "When you leave will you take me with you?"

"If you wish; but we still have another six days, and by then somebody up there might have a change of plan. Maybe when you say your prayers tonight you had better ask him. He might tell you what he has planned for you."

"Okay Michael, I will." Then, just as suddenly, David changed the subject saying, "It should be nearly time for Rupert to bring the hot chocolate."

"I think we should go up to the house and get it ourselves," Michael said, and stood up. "He's getting old, so we should save him the trouble of bringing it to the tent.

"Good idea." and David grabbed Michael by the hand and said, "Come on! I'll introduce you to Rupert. I'm sure you'll like him; he's very prim and proper and awfully polite," and the two of them made their way up the garden towards the house, with David leading the way.

As they reached the conservatory, Rupert was just coming out with a tray and a couple of mugs on it.

"It's alright Rupert," David called out. "We've come up to save you the trouble of bringing the chocolate down to the camp."

"Will Master David and his friend carry them down to the camp or would you like to sit in the conservatory and have your drinks?"

"Oh, come off it, Rupert! Don't be so formal; there's only us around. This is my friend Michael."

"Good evening Michael."

"Good evening Rupert. It's nice to meet you. David's been telling me about you."

David tugged Michael's arm, to get his attention, "Do you want to carry the drinks back to the camp or sit in the conservatory?"

"I think we can sit in the conservatory."

"Okay then," David agreed, and Rupert led them into the conservatory, and put the drinks on a small table.

Michael was shown to a recliner and when he was settled, David, instead of sitting in a separate chair, came and sat beside Michael.

David noticed Rupert watching him sitting next to Michael, and as he brought the table with the drinks on it closer to the man and boy David said,

"Its okay Rupert, Michael's an Angel."

"I know Davey," he said. Then he put the table beside them and straightened up, saying, "If you'll excuse me I have to get the menu ready for the cook tomorrow, so I'll take my leave. Goodnight Michael, goodnight Davey."

"Goodnight Rupert they chorused together." Then David asked "Did you tell him you were an Angel?"

"Yes David."

"When?"

When we came into the conservatory, to put his mind at rest. I spoke inside his head."

David picked up the mugs of chocolate and gave one to Michael, and after first blowing on his for a bit he then took a slurp of his drink letting out an "aaahhhh," as he relished the taste of his hot chocolate. Michael did as the boy had done, copying his every move and David thought it was hilarious. He tried to contain his laughter to take another drink.

Part 3

They finished their hot chocolate and David stood up and said "Leave the mugs on the table, Michael. Rupert will come and collect them later." Then he picked up an empty jam jar and took Michael by the hand and led him outside into the garden.

The light from the conservatory cast a glow around the surrounding lawn and plants, but as they walked further down the garden, the light faded, blocked by the various shrubs and trees till at last it no longer lit their way down to the tent.

David still held onto Michael's hand as he led him through the garden saying, "I could lead you through here Michael with my eyes shut. I know it so well."

Michael didn't respond but just smiled in the dark, content to hold David's hand and be led by him.

"Keep your eyes peeled for glow worms, Michael, and fireflies," David said over his shoulder, "You only get a few fireflies here in the garden, but there are heaps of them down by the river bank. We'll go there and catch some."

Suddenly he stopped and, bending down, lifted something from the ground then turned to Michael and opened his hand to show him a glow worm nestling in his palm.

"There you go, Michael. That's a glow worm. Then, after letting Michael scrutinize it, he put it back on the ground.

Eventually they came to the tent but David didn't stop. He led them to the gate at the bottom of the garden. David opened the gate and then they made their way to the river bank. He stopped by a bush near the trees that he'd fallen from.

"Okay, Michael, keep watch. We should soon see some fireflies. Oops, there's one! Get it, Michael, quick!" and the man did as he wished and caught not just that one but four others in his hand. Opening the jam jar, David said, "Put them inside the jar."

Michael did as he was told and David quickly put the lid back on the jar. Then he held the jar up to see the lights twinkling inside the jar. They watched the fireflies for about a minute. Then David opened the lid and let them out and watched them fly off into the night.

Turning to Michael, he said, "It's not good to keep them too long. I'm sure they get stressed out being cooped up in a jam jar."

"I'm sure you're right, David. Let's go back to the tent and get ready for bed; then we can have a long talk before you go to sleep."

"Okay Michael. Let's go," and David led the way back.

Surprised at David's instant agreement to give up the firefly hunt, Michael followed him. He began to wonder why. So took a quick look inside David's mind and smiled at the reason.

"Okay boss how do I deal with a boy who's in love with me, and is scared to contradict anything I say in case I take offence and leave."

"Alright, Michael.Firstly don't read the boy's mind again; if you're unsure of anything, ask me. His mind is private."

"Sorry, Boss."

"No need; you were only trying to find out. Now the boy, as I told you earlier, is experiencing some changes to his body externally and internally, and these changes are also sexual.

As you know, spiritual beings (unlike humans) are neither male nor female, and so you have no concept of the feelings that take place in the human body when they become extremely attached to someone or, as they say, 'fall in love'. So now I'll give you a taste of those feelings that they have when they get that special attachment towards another human; then I'll show you the feelings they get from their reproductive organs."

Michael's eyes widened at the intensity of the feelings that shook his being. Then his thoughts went to his creator and, using an expression he'd picked up from David, "Gosh! Now I know why you put a block on our involvement with humans! That was incredible, Boss!"

"Alright Michael, now that I've given you the knowledge of how your young friend is feeling toward you, you can return those feelings to him and it will help to cement the friendship."

"Okay Boss. Will do."

"Here we are Michael," David said entering the tent. He switched the portable light on and put it by the air mattress. "I'll get changed then we can have a chat. I haven't had a night-time chat with someone else before; this is going to be heaps of fun." the boy said, thrilled to have a companion to share his tent for the night.

David, as uninhibitedly as before, undressed and put his clothes away neatly. Then he put on his nightwear. Turning, he saw that Michael had already changed into a replica and was lying on his back on the air mattress."

"Umm, you'll have to get up for a minute Michael I have to put the covers on and pillows for us to sleep on."

Michael floated a foot or two above the air mattress; then in a second the covers and pillows were on their bed for the night and he settled back on the mattress again

"That was bloody brilliant Michael," David said then jumped onto the mattress.

He lay still for a minute then rolled over on Michael and lay full length on top of him. Folding his arms on Michael's chest he rested his chin on the back of his wrists and looked into Michael's eyes and said,

"I love you Michael."

"I know. I have to be honest with you David. I read your mind when we were coming to the tent, and I was told by my superior not to do it again. I hope you're not angry - and if it makes you feel better: I love you too."

"You love me! Do you really, or are you just saying that to make me feel good?"

Michael lifted his head off the pillow and kissed David on the lips, letting the feelings that he'd felt earlier in the day be reflected back to David as their lips brushed together.

The kiss was broken and David moved his hands and wrapped them around Michael's neck and brought the side of his face to rest against Michael's.

"Oh Michael; that felt incredible. Gosh I'm so lucky to have you for a friend. Guess what?"

"What?"

"I've got a stiffy again."

"Oh umm I'm sorry David!"

"You don't have to be sorry. It happens quite a lot and feels kind of nice but it will go down after a while."

"Oh, by the way David, "Michael said, "You don't have to tell me about the reproductive cycle. I found out."

David sighed in relief. "I'm glad you found out. It would be kind of embarrassing to give you all the details, especially about how we sometimes relieve ourselves." Suddenly the boy lifted his head to look down at the man, "Umm you didn't sort of umm see anything in my mind about umm, umm, Oh Gosh!"

"About what David?"

"Umm about oh crikey, you know, what boys do when they get stiffies sometimes."

"No David, I didn't see anything like that. All I saw was that you loved me."

"Phew, that's good! And you won't be reading my mind again."

"No David I won't."

"Brilliant," and again he did what he had done earlier and changed the subject by asking, "Can you lift up into the air with me lying on top of you, Michael?"

Michael did as David asked and floated a couple of feet above the mattress. David smiled and stared into Michael's eyes and slowly lowered his face to bring their lips together in a gentle kiss. The feelings that flowed through them were like no others that either had experienced before. For a moment they were in a world of their own where only the two of them existed. David broke the kiss and breathing heavily he said, "If I asked God to let you stay here with me do you think he would."

Michael, still recovering from those intense feelings said, "I don't know David. He's the only one who can answer that."

"Okay. If he said yes, would you like to stay or would you get lonely for your other Angels?"

"I'd stay with you forever, David, but you must remember you won't be a little boy for long. You'll grow and become a man and maybe want to marry and have children of your own."

The boy was silent for a while. Then his eyes brightened as he said, "Okay stay till I'm sixteen; then we can both go back together."

Michael gently settled back down onto the mattress then wrapping his arms around him said, "Don't go making too many plans David. You have to wait and see what your creator has planned for you."

Again David was silent as he lay on top of his friend and let his mind revolve around the topic. Then he lifted his head again and looked into Michael's eyes.

"Is that why you came here; to take me back?"

"No, David. I told you I was on my break. Our meeting was arranged by my Superior, and only he knows what will happen to you."

David laid his head down on Michael's shoulder. "Any idea what God has lined up for me Michael?"

"No David; depending on your actions sometimes he can have a change of plan, so just be patient. I'm sure he'll let one of us know soon enough."

"Okay Michael, can you scratch my back please."

The Angel smiled at how easily David could change the subject and then did as he asked – David saying "Higher! Lower!, To the right a bit! To the left! Yeah that's it, right there! Oh yes, that's brilliant!" and then his voice faded as he slept.

Michael didn't lift David off but just lay there relishing his presence as David lay sleeping on top of him. He wished he could repeat the feelings he had when David had kissed him.

Suddenly David stirred and woke. Then he realized where he was and said, "Oops! Forgot to say my prayers." He rolled off Michael onto his side of the bed and lay on his back. Lifting his hand, he switched off the portable light; made the sign of the cross and brought his hands together to pray.

"Thanks God, for sending Sa, umm yikes! I've forgotten Michael's proper name. Anyway you know who I mean. I was really scared when I fell in the water, and when Michael came and saved me it was so awesome. When I recovered on the bank and saw his face I wanted him to be with me forever. I know he's one of your Angels, but you've got heaps of them so couldn't you just sort of let him stay here with me? I'm sure you can do without him. Umm look after my mum and dad and keep them safe, and oh yeah thanks for telling Michael not to read my mind, but actually I don't mind if he does. Sorry for lying on my back and saying my prayers but I was kind of tired and didn't feel like kneeling downnnnn……" and he went to sleep again.

And the Almighty smiled as he looked down at him.

* * * * *

He had his arms around Michael's neck and he clung to him pressing his body against him. He could feel his stiffy pressing into Michael's back as he was carried along the river bank. He nuzzled his face against Michael's who in turn swivelled his head and brought their lips together in the softest of touches.

With the kiss and the movement of the man's body on his erection the boy's feelings could not be contained and his semen erupted as he jerked uncontrollably against Michael's back.

* * * * *

He awoke from his dream and felt the stickiness in his night shorts. He looked around and in the first faint fingers of light that pierced the night sky he could just make out the outline of Michael lying beside him. Quickly untangling himself from Michael he rolled clear, embarrassed and a bit ashamed at what had happened. He started to move off the mattress when he was stopped by a hand holding onto his arm, and the portable light coming on. Then he was pulled into Michael's arms.

"Don't worry about it David." Michael said as he leaned forward pecking David on the lips. "You've been taught about all this and read about it so you shouldn't feel ashamed about it.

I'm sorry Michael," the boy blurted out, "But I was dreaming about you when it happened and you're an Angel and all that. What is God going to think about it? He'll think I'm really nasty and he might change his mind about me and take you ba…. " the boy was interrupted by the man placing a hand over his mouth saying.

"Shoosh David," and when the boy had quietened he took his hand from the boy's mouth. "You should know better, David. God knows beforehand what you're going to do. He knew about what happened just now, ages ago."

"Yeah I suppose you're right. It was just so embarrassing when I woke up - anyway I have to clean up."

"Clean up what David?"

"Umm the, wait a minute it's gone," and David moved his hand under the elastic waistband of his shorts to feel his stomach perfectly dry and clean. He pulled his hand out and rolling on top of Michael and looking down at him said, "You cleaned me?"

"Yep, easy peasy."

David laughed and hugged his special friend, and lay where he was. Slowly his eyelids drooped as Michael rubbed his back and again he slept.

Michael was more than content to have David lying full length on top of him. He wrapped his arms around him so that he wouldn't be able to roll off.

"Michael,"

"Yes, Boss."

"So what do you think?"

"I couldn't believe the intensity of the feelings David had when he was snuggled against my body and having his dream."

"Yes, well we have a dilemma. The boy is clearly in love with you, so he will want to be in your company all the time, and working with you will be out of the question. His mind won't be on his job. All he'll be thinking about is when he can get together with you again."

"But Boss he won't have that kind of feeling when he is up there with us."

"Huh, seems I need to educate my spiritual beings. Don't ever underestimate the power of love, Michael. You felt the intensity of it tonight when he kissed you - remember it?"

"Yes Boss."

"I'll talk to you later about what I have planned for David; it will need your agreement. I won't order you. This time it will be your free and conscious decision."

" Okay Boss,"

Part 4

He lay on his side looking at the figure curled up beside him. One of David's legs was thrown across the lower part of his body and David's right arm was wrapped around his chest.

He'd lifted David off him during the night and put the boy on the mattress beside him when he was certain that David was sleeping soundly. He stroked the blond head that lay inches from his face, David mumbled and slowly opened his eyes. His face broke into a smile when he saw Michael looking at him.

"Good morning, David. Did you sleep well?"

"Yeah." The boy pulled himself closer into Michael's body and hugged him saying, "Don't suppose you could send me to sleep again could you?"

"Yes I could, but I think you've slept long enough, and I'm sure Rupert must be getting your breakfast ready by now."

"Shhhhhhhrimps!" the boy muttered, lifting his head from Michael's chest where it had been buried. Oh well, I suppose I'd better get up. "I wish I could swim.

"What's the reason, David?"

"I wouldn't have to go up to the house to shower before breakfast, I could go for a swim in the river."

"Well, you can come in with me David; there won't be any chance of you drowning with me holding you."

"Oh man! That would be brilliant! Come on then." and he was up in flash. He pulled his nightwear off and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he said, "I don't have any swim shorts, Michael. Is it alright if I swim in the nude?"

"I don't have any either, so we'll both be naked."

"Okay, here's a towel for you," David said, throwing one across to him.

Michael wrapped the towel around his waist and made his clothes disappear, leaving him naked under the towel."

"I wish I could do that," David said, grinning.

They made their way out of the tent and down to the river bank. At the edge of the bank, David removed his towel and sat on the grassy bank and slid down to the water's edge. He put one foot in the water and immediately pulled it back out again, letting out a yell, "Yikes that's bloody cold."

Michael laughed at him, removed his towel, took David by the hand and had them both in the water in a second.

The water wasn't cold at all. David was lying on top of Michael, who was floating on his back in mid stream.

The boy couldn't believe that the water which at one moment had been freezing was now just a fraction below body heat, or so it felt and he realized that probably Michael was making it feel warm. He lay content on top of his friend as they moved through the water without any effort.

"Umm Michael, I umm need to pee, could you put me on the bank so I can."

Michael complied and supported him while he relieved himself. When he'd finished, he put him back on his stomach.

"Michael umm," the boy said, looking down, "You umm haven't got uh umm a Oh gosh, you haven't got a thingy."

"I'm an Angel, David. We don't have thingy's, or as you said before, 'reproductive organs'."

The boy smiled "Oh yeah, I should have known,"

"Does it worry you, David?

"No, actually it looks quite neat." He kissed the man on the lips then rested his head on Michaels shoulder as they glided through the water.

Ten minutes later they got out. The boy picked up his towel to dry himself off and noticed that he was completely dry.

Laughing, David turned to the man and jumped on his back, wrapping his arms and legs around him saying, "You dried us off."

Holding his arms under David to support him, he said, "Yes I thought it would save a bit of time."

"I don't suppose you could slap some clothes on me as well, Michael, could you?"

"I could, but I won't; it would make you lazy. Now jump down and let's get back to the tent so you can get dressed."

They stood naked under the trees; the boy still in the man's arms. He didn't move at the man's request but stayed with his arms locked around Michael's neck. Then leaning forward with his eyes closed, brought their lips together. As they kissed, the boy became aroused as he squeezed their bodies even tighter together. The emotions crashed through Michael's being and with the sheer ecstasy of it, he lifted them off the ground till they were floating amongst the lower branches of the trees. David opened his eyes and smiled on seeing where they were.

"Michael," he whispered.

He opened his eyes, "Yes David?"

"Can we fly back to the tent?"

He smiled and brought them back down to earth, "No, we walk."

"Okay." and David unravelled himself and dropped to the ground. He started walking towards the tent. Then stopped until Michael was beside him and asked "What happened?"

"What do you mean David?"

"You know," he said holding Michael's hand as he walked.

"Like floating in the air is an everyday thing for you, but not for me."

"You caused that."

"Me? What did I do?"

"You kissed me."

"Yeah but, umm cripes!Is that what a kiss can do to you?"

"It's what you do to me, and you're lucky that I was able to control my emotions to a certain extent. If I hadn't we would have ended up in space."

"Oh man! Why did you control yourself? I'd have loved being in space."

Michael laughed as he followed this boy who had utterly captivated him. They reached the tent and David went to dress, then turned and asked Michael, who was already dressed, "Can you make my penis disappear so I can be like you?"

"You want me to get into trouble? If I did that, I'd be in poo up to my eyebrows, and you wouldn't see me for dust."

"Oh crikey Michael, I'm sorry! I don't want anything to happen to you because of me."

"Don't worry about it nothing's going to happen to me. Now get a move on, otherwise you'll have Rupert getting worried."

"Okay, I'm nearly ready," David said, pulling a lilac coloured T-shirt over his head. When he'd finished pulling it down, he walked across with a comb in his hand and said, "Do my hair, please Michael."

The man took the comb from the boy and ran it through his hair till it looked respectable.

With his hair done, David slipped his feet into his flip flops, and gave Michael's hand a tug. "Let's go and have breakfast, although I don't suppose you'll eat or drink anything."

"You suppose correctly."

"Then why did you drink the chocolate last night?"

"Because you wanted me to taste it, so I did."

"So you wouldn't want to taste Crunchy Nut cornflakes, or bacon and eggs, would you?"

"Definitely not."

"Oh well, you don't know what you're missing." And they made their way to the house.

* * * * *

Michael."

"Yes, Boss."

I've decided what to do about David."

"Okay, go ahead and tell me."

"Firstly, it will mean you giving up being a Spiritual Entity for the period that you'll be on earth. You will be like any other human with all the faults and weaknesses of that state. You will have no recollection of having been anything else but a man."

"How long for, Boss?"

"There's no point in telling you, for as you know, time in our sense is beyond understanding to a human. If I told you ten years that would mean nothing to you in your present state, when a blink of an eye is like a hundred thousand years."

"Okay, so, when I return, do I return to my previous duties?"

"That depends on how you feel, because both of you will be returning at the same time and you might just have different ideas by then."

"Alright, when will I be transformed?"

"I could do it later today, but that would mean cutting your holiday short with David. If you explain to him that you will see him later, and that then you'll be staying indefinitely, I'm sure he won't mind you leaving so soon. Oh, just one other thing. David won't quite recognize you when you come back the first time he sees you, but certain actions will make him remember. Are you still willing to go ahead, Michael?"

"Yes, Boss."

* * * * *

David led him into the house and to the dining room. Michael sat watching David eat his breakfast, wondering how he would take it when Michael told him that he was going to leave today.

"You're very quiet Michael; is anything wrong?"

"No nothing. I was talking to the Supreme Being."

"Was it about me?" David asked and took another mouthful of flakes.

"Sort of; but we'll talk about it when you've finished your breakfast; not before."

"Okay Michael, would you like a cup of tea while you're waiting for me."

"No, thank you, David.I'm quite alright as I am."

"Okay, I won't be too long - can't wait to hear what you have to tell me."

Ten minutes later saw them making their way down the garden and through the gate to sit under the trees by the river bank.

Putting an arm around the boy and pulling him into his side, Michael said, "I want you to listen to what I have to say without interrupting, David. When I've finished, you can ask me whatever you want to and I'll answer as well as I can."

"He paused. Then, taking a deep breath, began, "You know yesterday I said I had been given a week to stay with you? Well things have changed, and I have to leave today."

The boy spun around in his grasp, looking him in the eyes, but before he could utter his dismay, Michael stopped him by saying: "I haven't finished yet, David." Then he went on: "But I will return. The only thing is, I can't give you a date, but I can tell you it won't be too long a wait and then I will be staying indefinitely."

"You promise you'll come back, Michael."

"Yes, I promise, but I'm not too sure if I'll look the same as I am now."

The boy getting to his knees so that their faces were on a level, said, "I don't care if don't look the same. As long as it's you, it will be okay." Then leaning forward they brought their lips together and once again the depth of emotions passing between them carried them into a world of their own.

When they broke the kiss, David rested his forehead on Michael's, and asked him: "Michael, will you let me see what you really look like?"

Michael was about to refuse when a voice in his head said, "Go ahead Michael, but don't let him see your full brilliance! It would blind him permanently."

He sent his thoughts back to the Supreme Being, "Okay Boss, and thanks for allowing me to do this."

As he stood, so he lifted David to his feet, then stepping away from the boy, he said, "Alright David, but only for a little while. Now stay where you are." And Michael transformed himself.

The boy sucked in his breath at the light that floated in front of him, it was spherical and slightly smaller then a football with light shining from it in all directions.

"Michael, you look beautiful."

"Thank you David." A voice spoke inside the boy's head, "but I can't show you my full brilliance, as it would damage your eyes."

"Cripes, and I thought this was bright! Can I touch you, Michael?"

"Not really; your hand would just pass through the ball of light without feeling anything. But stay where you are, and I'll come to you."

The ball of light moved forward towards the boy, and then at chest level it entered David's body.

"Aahhhh," the boy uttered, as feelings of absolute love overcame him and for a brief moment he experienced a little bit of Heaven. Then Michael was standing in front of him again.

He moved forward and wrapped his arms around Michael's waist, "When will you be leaving?"

"Shortly."

"Okay, you'd better do it now, otherwise the longer you stay the harder it will get."

Michael unravelled David's arms from around his waist; smiled and said, "I love you, David Nearly 13," stroked the boy's head and disappeared.

Part 5

The front door bell rang and William Jennings called out to his wife, "I'll get it darling." And made his way to the door mumbling under his breath.

"Who the hell is it this time? God, I wish Rupert were here." Pulling open the front door he was on the verge of telling whoever it was that they didn't want whatever it was that they were selling, and swallowed his words when he saw a young man, tall and slim, about seventeen or eighteen years of age, standing on the doorstep.

"Yes! Can I help you, young man?"

"Good afternoon sir. I've come about the job that was advertised in the Hazeldene Gazette."

"Ah yes! Come in and we'll talk about it, Mister uh."

"Granger, Angelo Granger."

"That's an unusual name for an English looking boy to have."

"My mother's father was Italian and she was the one who chose my name. I don't think my father had any say in the matter."

"Alright Angelo; come in and we'll discuss the job. Oh! My name is William Jennings."

Mr Jennings led the boy into the drawing room and asked him to be seated, and sat down in his favourite armchair.

"Now," he began, looking at the boy whose features were so striking that he could not help but stare. The boy had the blackest hair and the most striking green eyes that he'd ever seen in all of his 38 years. In reality he'd never seen anyone with green eyes before; hazel eyes with extra flecks of green in them like David's, yes, but nothing like this boy's pure green eyes. Then there was his mouth. The lips both full and tinted the faintest of pinks, making one think that there might be a hint of lipstick on them, and to complete it there was a perfectly shaped cupid's bow on the upper lip ... ... "Umm yes," Mr Jennings stuttered as he realized the boy had caught him staring. "Uh, we have a vacancy, Mr Granger, for an assistant to our butler, Rupert. He doesn't know that we've advertised the position and will be quite annoyed about it when he finds out. But he is getting old, and has been with our family since I was a boy and I feel the time has come for him to take it a bit easier; not that he will thank me for it when he finds out. I'm not sure what your duties will be. That will be for Rupert to decide, but it will be up to him to give the orders not me. If you're happy with what I've told you and want it then the job is yours."

"Thank you Mr Jennings. Yes, I would definitely like to accept it."

"Alright. You'll start on £250 a week. The hours are 9am till 5pm with one day off in the week and an hour and a half for your lunch break every day. Any hours that Rupert keeps you after that will be considered extra and you'll be paid overtime for them.

"Thank you very much Mr Jennings. When would you like me to start?"

"Umm Can you come in tomorrow? Rupert and David are away at the moment: they've gone into town for the day and won't be getting back till late this evening, otherwise I'd have introduced them to you."

"Alright. I'll be here at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning, Mr Jennings." The boy stood up and his new employer showed him to the front door.

As he stepped outside the boy turned and asked Mr Jennings, "Excuse me, sir, but do you know of anywhere with rooms to let in the village."

"No, I'm sorry. Where are you staying at the moment?"

"In Bourneville, at the home for boys."

"Ah, I see! That is quite a long way for you to travel, and I don't think there's any public transport that comes to Hazeldene before 11 o'clock in the morning.

"That's no problem, Mr Jennings. I have a bicycle if I can't find any lodgings in the village."

"Wait a minute, Angelo. You don't mind if I use you Christian name?"

"Not at all sir."

"And you can drop that sir business. 'Mr Jennings' will do fine. Okay! We have a seven bed roomed house here and only three of them are being used at the moment, so if you don't mind living on the job, so to speak, you can have one of the rooms and we'll deduct your board from your salary as it will be easier for you if you eat here as well."

"Great sir, umm I mean Mr Jennings. Will it be okay if I go and get my belongings and return with them today."

"Yes by all means. How long will you be?"

"About three hours."

"Alright! See you when you return."

"Thank you, Mr Jennings I'll be as quick as I can," and Angelo sprinted down the drive to get a bus back to the home.

He couldn't believe it! He'd been looking for a job for the past month and couldn't find a thing. But as luck would have it, yesterday, as he rode the bus home after visiting the employment bureau, another passenger had left a newspaper behind on the seat. He'd picked it up and saw that it was a paper from one of the outlying villages: The Hazeldene Gazette. He had looked through it idly for something to read on his way back home and had looked at the situations vacant, and had seen the job that Mr Jennings had advertised, and here he was now - no longer one of the unemployed.

Angelo arrived back at the boys' home and went straight to the Superintendent's office and told him of his job and the good fortune that he would be able to live on the premises.

Mr Blake congratulated him and wished him all the best and gave him £50 to tide him over till his first pay check.

He thanked Mr Blake, and went to his room to pack his belongings. When he'd finished he said goodbye to his friends, giving one of them the bike, and left the place that he'd called home for the past nine years.

He arrived back at the Jennings household with a battered suitcase in his right hand and rang the doorbell.

William Jennings opened the door to see Angelo standing on his doorstep with a big smile on his face.

"I'm back, Mr Jennings sir, sooner than I expected."

"Very good Angelo, umm didn't you say you had a bike?"

"Yes sir, but I thought as I'm staying here I wouldn't be needing it, so I gave it to one of the boys at the home. It wasn't in very good condition. I got it second hand from another boy so I thought I'd pass it on."

"Alright, Angelo. Come on in and I'll show you the rooms and you can choose which one you want."

He led the boy through the impressive looking hallway up the stairs onto a landing that went in both directions at the top of the stairs. Turning to the left William Jennings led the boy past the first door pointing out that the room was Rupert's. The next door he said was his son's room and then after that the next two were vacant.

After looking at both the empty rooms the boy decided to take the room at the end of the corridor. He thought that there he would not be too close to the two occupied rooms on this side of the hallway.

"Alright Angelo I'll leave you to unpack your bag and put your clothes away. Your room has a toilet and shower attached to it but if you want a bath then the room at the other end of the corridor is a bathroom where you can have a soak. The bed linen is in the cupboard at the end of this hallway," the man said, "And when you've finished, come downstairs and through the door that is directly opposite the front door - that will lead you into the kitchen. I'll be in there."

Fifteen minutes later, Angelo, with his clothes put away and the bed made, nervously made his way to where his employer would be waiting. He walked to the end of a passageway opposite the front door and knocked. He heard a voice say, "Come in."

Angelo entered a kitchen larger than he'd ever seen before. Mr Jennings was sitting opposite a woman at a breakfast table both with cups of tea. He beckoned Angelo over and introduced him to his wife, Claudette Jennings.

With the introductions over, Mrs Jennings made her way to the big old Aga cooker where some pots were keeping warm and as she walked she said:

"Angelo get a plate from the dresser over there and bring it here. I'll put some food out for you. You must be starving."

"Thank you Mrs Jennings," and he took a plate and walked over to the cooker.

She gave him steak and chips plus peas and carrots. She pointed out where Mr Jennings had placed a knife and fork and he sat down to eat.

Angelo did his best to answer their questions through mouthfuls of food and gave them an account, more or less, of his life in the boys' home.

The two adults commiserated with him when they heard how he had been made an orphan at the age of eight and had had to live in a home since then.

He finished his food and was offered a dessert of apple tart and ice cream which he ate with great relish and then settled back with a drink of orange juice.

When Angelo had finished, the two adults took him into the lounge where they all sat down. Mr Jennings, spurred on by looks from his wife, a bit reluctantly started a new topic. "Angelo, my wife and I will be away from the house a great deal as our work in the conservation of the earth's resources takes us all over the world. Your job is as assistant to our butler, Rupert, but my wife feels that if you are agreeable, you could also be a companion to our son David. He is a bit younger than you; by the way how old are you Angelo?"

"I've just turned seventeen sir, I mean Mr Jennings."

You're a few years older than David but I'm sure that the two of you could get along quite well."

"I wouldn't mind in the least," Angelo responded to their request, "I just hope your son will take to me."

"I'm sure he will, Angelo, he's quite sociable." Now you are free till tomorrow. I don't think you'll be able to meet my son or Rupert tonight as I think it highly unlikely that they'll be back before eleven if my son has his way, and, by the way, where Rupert is concerned, he always seems to get his way. You can watch some television or go out or to your room. It's up to you."

After watching the TV for a couple of hours Angelo excused himself saying, "I'll go up to my room if you don't mind and get myself settled in," and wished his employers a goodnight and went upstairs.

The Jennings smiled and looked at each other when he had gone. "I think he'll be an ideal companion for David," Claudette Jennings said, "I just hope he can settle in and get to like it here."

"Oh I'm sure he will, dear, and although Rupert may huff, and puff, I'm sure he'll be grateful to have someone to help him and relieve him from some of the running about after David."

Mr Jennings then picked up a folder saying, "Now we had better get our schedule organised for our trip to Beijing. We have to leave next week."

"Yes dear," Claudette Jennings responded and walked over to sit on the arm of his chair. They began to look at the folder he'd opened on his lap with the details of their forthcoming trip.

Upstairs in his room Angelo undressed and put his pyjamas on and then lay on his bed and fished out his copy of Lord of the Rings. He opened the book at the marker and read for over an hour. As his eyes started to droop he closed the book and was just putting it away when there was a knock on his door.

He called, "Come in."

The door opened and in the doorway stood a young slightly built boy with a face which looked familiar to Angelo but he couldn't quite place where he had seen it before.

The boy stepped into the room smiling and saying, "Sorry to disturb you but I saw the light on under the door and thought I'd introduce myself now instead of waiting till tomorrow. I'm David,"

Come on in David! You're not disturbing me. My name is Angelo, Angelo Granger. It's nice to meet you," he said as he looked down at the boy.

David looked at him and frowned. Angelo's features were somewhat familiar but David just couldn't place where he'd seen them before. "Maybe he just looks like an actor on TV." he thought. Then he said, "It's nice to meet you Angelo. I won't stay long. I suppose you've got things to do."

"No, I haven't. I just stopped reading, and was going to bed so if you want we can talk."

"Really?" David said, "That's great! It's been, like, forever since I had someone else to talk to at night." And he sat down on the bed.

Angelo sat on the bed too and asked, "Where did you go today?"

"Oh, I got Rupert to take me to the pictures; we saw "Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix", and guess what?"

"What?"

"Rupert fell asleep and started snoring! I had to wake him to make him stop. A lot of the kids sitting around us thought it was really funny and were laughing."

"Was the movie good?"

"Yeah, but I've already read all the books so I more or less knew what to expect. The special effects were really good. Have you seen or read any Harry Potter?"

No, but I've seen all three parts of Lord of the Rings," Angelo said, and picked up his copy of the book and showed it to David, "Now I'm reading the book."

"You've seen all three. Gosh! You're lucky. I haven't seen any. Every time they came out my parents have been away and Rupert won't take me. He said it is too violent for a young boy."

"Oh well! Hard luck! But how old are you now?"

"Umm 13, well nearly, why?"

"You should be old enough now; you can rent the DVD's and watch them."

"Oh that's brilliant! If I take you down to the village tomorrow, can we rent them then?"

"I'll be working tomorrow. I have to help Rupert."

"No you don't! Mum says that you can be a companion to me."

"Yeah but only after I've finished my work and I think helping Rupert gets priority. He is quite old, your dad said, and needs the help."

"Yeah okay but if I give you a hand you can finish quicker and then we can go."

"Don't go making any plans yet, David," Angelo said ruffling his hair.

The touch sent a shiver through David's body and he looked hard at Angelo wondering what had caused those feelings., Then he heard Angelo's voice. "

"You don't know what Rupert has in mind for me! He might get me so tired I won't be able to stand by the end of the day,"

With an indignant look on his face David said, "I won't let him work you too hard, and anyway Rupert isn't like that. He's really kind, but a bit pompous when we have important guests."

"Okay! If everything goes to plan and your parents say it's okay, we'll go down to the village and rent the DVD. Now I think you'd better get to bed. It's getting pretty late."

"Oh come on Angelo! It's only just gone 11. I tried to keep Rupert out late but he wouldn't have it and we got back a lot earlier than expected. It's Saturday tomorrow so I don't have any lessons, and I can sleep till late, so can't we talk a bit longer?"

"Yeah you can sleep late David, but I have to be downstairs and ready for work by 9 o'clock and in any case," he said smiling, "Twelve-year-old boys' should be in bed by 11"

"I'm nearly 13."

"Okay! Nearly-thirteen-year-old boys should be in bed by 10.30"

"What," David said indignantly, "Why half an hour earlier than twelve-year-olds?"

"Because I said so," Angelo said laughing."

"Huh! You think you're funny!" the younger boy said jumping on top of him. , "I'll teach you to be sarky." Angelo let himself be knocked backwards onto the bed with David lying on top of him.

Without thinking he wrapped his arms around him and held him so tight he couldn't move and still laughing. David didn't move. He was frowning and staring into Angelo's eyes.

Seeing the look on his face Angelo let go at once. He was concerned and said, "Sorry David, I didn't mean to be rough on you."

David didn't move when he was released. He lay staring at Angelo who eventually reached out and gently shook him saying, "David are you alright."

David smiled, "Sorry Angelo, but when I first saw you and just now when you held me, I thought that I knew you from somewhere."

"Yeah, well don't go into a trance again. You had me worried." Angelo said and sat up and lifted David to a standing position. "I thought I was going to lose my job before I'd even got started. Now you'd better get to bed David."

"Okay, but do me a favour, please Angelo, before I go."

"Just name it."

"Can you put your arms around me one more time?"

Angelo was bothered: "I mean are you sure."

"Oh come on Angelo! Just put you arms around me. I want to try something."

"Okay," and Angelo wrapped his arms around the boy."

"Lift me up, Angelo."

He did as the boy asked and as he did so, David wrapped his arms around his neck and legs around his waist.

Putting his head on one side and fixing Angelo with a quizzical look, he said, "I'm sure I've met you before Angelo. I can feel it when you touch me."

Angelo smiled saying, "Well, when you remember, let me know; now get down and go to bed, and I'll see you in the morning."

David leaned forward, kissed Angelo on the forehead and said goodnight." Then he jumped down and left the room.

The kiss on the forehead sent a shiver through Angelo, making him stare at the departing boy.

Part 6

Angelo stood staring at the door that had just shut and wondering what that was all about, and why did he get those strange sensations when David kissed him on the forehead. Yes, he'd been friendly with other boys and had even got quite close to some of them over the years at the home, but none had made him feel like that.

He climbed into bed and put the light out and as his mind went over the events of the day he slowly slid towards the edges of unconsciousness.

He didn't hear the door open or the sound of feet tip-toeing across the floor. The first he knew of someone in his room came with the bed covers being lifted and a body sliding into bed with him. Startled his eyes flew open, and he flicked the light on. He squinted as his eyes were temporarily hurt by the light; he quickly looked down to see David staring at him.

"David what the hell are you doing in my bed?" Angelo said, a bit concerned.

"Shoosh not so loud. You'll have the rest of the house running in here."

"Alright! But you didn't answer my question."

"I'm sorry Angelo," David said, snuggling up to him , "I just couldn't sleep. My mind was going round in circles trying to remember where I had met you before. I knew if I stayed in my own bed I'd never get to sleep, so I came in here."

"Bloody hell, David, if anyone were to go into your room and see your bed empty there'd be a right to do," Angelo said. And he shifted his position so that David could rest his head on half the pillow, "And if they found you in my bed, I'd be fired on the spot."

"No problem! Nobody comes into my room after I've wished everybody goodnight," David said. He lifted a leg over the lower part of Angelo's body and moved his head from the pillow to the older boy's shoulder. " - unless of course I'm sick, and I'm not sick."

"Are you making yourself comfy?" Angelo asked sarcastically, which was totally lost on the boy as he responded: "Yes."

There was a brief silence broken when David asked Angelo to put his hand under his T-shirt and rub his back. The moment that Angelo's hand started to rub his back David's body seemed to spasm and he squeezed himself tighter into Angelo's body.

Within five minutes he was asleep. Angelo continued to rub the boy's back knowing he was asleep but reluctant to lose the contact with his naked flesh.

Half an hour later David was still sound asleep. Angelo slowly untangled himself from David and got out of the bed and opened the door. Then he gently scooped David into his arms and carried him out of the room. He managed to open David's door and carried him to his bed. Luckily David had left the covers thrown back so he was able to put him down and pull the covers over him. He kissed David on the forehead and gave his hair a stroke and then made his way back to his own room. Eventually, after much mind searching, he slept.

He was awake again at 7.30am. He went and washed and got dressed. By 8.00am he was on his way down to the kitchen where he found a tall white-haired man making a cup of tea.

"Ah you must be Angelo Granger?" the man asked. Then he frowned and stared at Angelo's face as if he was trying to remember something.

"Yes, sir, Mr Jennings employed me yesterday afternoon."

"Its not 'sir'!It's 'Rupert'," the butler said still gazing into the boy's face questioningly. "And when you've had your breakfast you can go to David's room. That's the second door after you turn left at the top of the stairs. Knock gently on the door and if he's not awake you can go in quietly. He will probably still be asleep as he went to bed rather late last night," and Rupert looked at Angelo over the top of his spectacles and smiled. "He's normally quite tidy but sometimes he leaves his clothes lying about. Pick up any dirty clothes he's left on the floor, then check the clothes basket and if it is more than half full bring the clothes down to be washed." Rupert took a sip of his tea. "Now help yourself to whatever you want for breakfast. Don't be shy! Take as much as you like."

"Thank you Rupert," Angelo said, and got a bowl and filled it with flakes from a box on the kitchen table, added milk and sugar and sat down to eat his breakfast.

After his cereal and a couple of eggs on toast with a cup of tea, he made his way to David's room.

He knocked gently as instructed and waited. He didn't hear anything so quietly opened the door and went in. He looked at the bed and in the dim light filtering through the curtains could see David's head as he lay sleeping.

As Rupert said David's room was quite tidy for a boy of his age. He could see that he had left his underwear on the chair. He walked around the room looking for any thing else that had been left lying around.

He stooped to retrieve the socks from the floor on the other side of the bed and as he did so a body landed on his back and a pair of arms were around his neck and a voice he recognised from last night saying, "Morning Angelo."

He only just managed to get out a "Morning David." as the boys arms were constricting his vocal chords. He pulled David's arms from his neck slightly, making it more comfortable for him to speak. "You've been awake all the time since I knocked."

"Not quite," David said in his ear, "When you opened the door and came in I woke up properly."

"Okay! Please could you get off my back? I have work to do."

" Nope!" David said quite emphatically. "Your first job is to carry me to the bathroom."

"David! Will you behave yourself and get down?"

"If you don't take me to the loo, I'll pee on your back."

Angelo stood up with David still clinging to him and with David's legs wrapped around his waist. He walked to the bed and sat on it saying. "Okay! Now hop off."

"No! You've got to take me to the loo! It's only that door over there. It's not far.

Angelo, without warning, lay back on the bed, pinning David under him, but not with his full weight. "Now are you going to let go or do you want me to squash you?"

"Hey, this feels nice." David said, laughing, "I don't mind you lying on top of me."

Angelo relaxed and let more of his weight press down on David.

"Ugh," he heard David grunt, "Get off! You're bloody heavy."

"Are you going to behave and let me get on with my work?"

"Yeah, Yeah," he yielded, "but get off will you."

Angelo straightened then stood up looking down at David who hadn't moved.

"You okay?" Angelo enquired.

David didn't answer - just lay silent. Then he slowly got to his feet and made his way towards the door to the bathroom.

Angelo reached out to him and held his shoulder, "David I'm sorry! Did I hurt you,"

He looked at Angelo with watery eyes and said, "I only wanted you to give me a ride to the bathroom," and shrugged off Angelo's hand.

Angelo realized that he'd boobed and had to make amends! He picked David up and carried him to the bathroom door and walked in. Smiling he looked down at him saying, "What do you desire of me now David."

The boy's sad mood had changed and he smiled saying "I suppose you'd better put me down, and you'd better get downstairs. Rupert must be wondering what's happened to you."

Angelo put him down, ruffled his hair and said, "See you in a bit," then picked up the dirty clothes and made his way back to the kitchen.

Entering the kitchen with a bundle of dirty clothes in his hands, he stopped in his tracks on seeing David's parents with Rupert, sitting at the kitchen table, having their breakfast.

"Good morning, Angelo." they chorused.

"Good morning." He replied. Rupert told him to take the clothes through to the utility room and put them in the washer. He did that, and came back and said,

"Your machine is exactly the same as the one at the boys' home. Do you want me to start the wash?"

"Yes, please, Angelo. Then we have to make a shopping list."

Then turning to Mr & Mrs Jennings, Rupert asked, "When will you be leaving for Beijing."

"We'll leave on Wednesday afternoon and spend the night at the airport hotel, as our flight is at 9.30am.and we should be back two weeks later."

"Very well sir are there any special instructions about Davey while you're away?"

"Yes Rupert," Mr Jennings said, "Don't spoil him."

Angelo wanted to laugh when he saw the look of indignation on Rupert's face as he replied "Very well, sir." but managed to stifle it and went to the utility room to start the wash.

As he was attending to the wash Rupert came into the utility room saying,

"I've had a change of plan. When you've finished this morning, Angelo, I'll want you to go to the village with the shopping list to order the weekly groceries.

You might have to take Lord David um I mean David with you he normally likes to get out."

Alright Rupert, Umm do you mind telling me what title Mr Jennings has."

"His real title is Earl of Mercia, and David, as his heir, is addressed as Lord David on formal occasions or when we have other nobility visiting. This is not their normal residence it's one of the houses they own. The Earl's country seat is going through some major repairs and renovation so we're staying here for the next year

Their conversation was interrupted by a cry from upstairs.

" Rupeeeeeeeeert, followed by " what have you done with my flip flops?"

The butler left the utility room and headed for the bottom of the stairs and called up, "They're down here in the kitchen. I washed them last night as they were rather dirty after you'd worn them in the garden."

There was silence for a second then David appeared at the top of the stairs. "Thanks Rupert, what's for breakfast?" he enquired coming down the stairs barefooted then stopping two steps from the bottom and planting a kiss on Rupert's forehead.

"Whatever you want Davey."

"Crunchy nut flakes and toast and marmalade will do, but not the thick bitter stuff you eat. I want the sweet marmalade," and without a pause asked, "are we going to the village later?"

"Angelo is going to take the shopping list. You can go too if you like. As for that marmalade you want on your toast - it is not fit for human consumption."

"Huh how wrong can you get? It will be really brilliant to go to the village with Angelo," and the boy hopped down the last couple of stairs then looking over his shoulder at Rupert he said, "Your marmalade sucks." and went into the kitchen.

Rupert didn't reply, but only smiled and followed him into the kitchen to see him greet his parents with a morning kiss then seat himself at the table.

Angelo walked back into the kitchen after setting the washing machine off. He was greeted with, "Hi Angelo." and before Angelo could respond he was saying, "It's wicked you taking me down to village later. I'm really looking forward to it," and without hesitating and turning to his father, "Dad, can I rent some DVDs."

"Which ones?" his father asked.

"Lord of the Rings 1, 2, &, 3."

"Alright. Go ahead."

"Thanks dad," and the boy was filling his mouth with a spoonful of cereal, and at the same time trying to smile at Angelo.

By noon Angelo was given the grocery list and with David by his side started towards the front door to walk to the village.

"Not that way," David said, pulling Angelo's hand, "Through the garden and along the river bank is a lot shorter. Come on!" and he led Angelo through the house and conservatory into the garden. As they walked down the garden David produced a constant stream of chatter, which told anyone who happened to be observing him that he was extremely happy to have a companion by his side.

"The fence on either side of the garden is electrified, Angelo, but it's only switched on at night," David told him, and they went down the garden. When they got near the end he pointed out a light green square patch of grass, "That's where I had my tent during the holidays." Then he turned to Angelo who was walking slightly behind him and asked, "Do you like camping?"

"I've never been, but I'm sure I would."

They reached the gate at the end of the garden and David produced a key from around his neck and opened the lock on the gate and then locked it again behind them, and with Angelo at his side he walked the few feet to the river bank, stopped and stared out over the water till Angelo asked, "Anything wrong David." His words brought David back from his thoughts and he smiled and said, "No nothing's wrong. I'm just trying to remember something but it always seems to be just out of reach." Then he took Angelo's hand said, "Come! Lets get to the village.

They walked along the river bank talking and David suddenly said, "Hey, I know we can play skipping stones till we get to the bridge, come on Angelo look for some flat stones."The boy darted around picking up stones, some he discarded as not suitable, others he handed to Angelo to hold while he looked for more. When they had a reasonable collection David said, "You want to go first, Angelo?"

"Okay," Angelo replied, and made his way down to the edge of the bank and let fly with his first stone. He got the angle wrong and the stone just hit the water and sank immediately. "Blast, that was total crap," he said out loud while David was laughing at him.

"Alright smarty pants! You have a go." Angelo said grinning.

David went to the water's edge and let rip with his stone which bounced four times before sinking.

He scrambled up the bank and yelled, "Yeah," and punched the air with his fist, "I equalled my record. Now you have a go, Angelo, and skim it along the water like I did." he said. Angelo was enjoying just watching David skipping his stones.

"Should we get going to the village and we can do some more skipping stones on the way back?"

"Alright! But you've got to give me a piggy back to the bridge."

"Why? Did I do something wrong and is that a punishment?"

David leaned forward resting his forehead on Angelo's. "No, I'd never punish you for anything. I just want a piggy back ride."

Angelo got up and turned around, "Okay David! Hop on," and before he knew it a pair of arms were around his neck and legs around his waist. He straightened, gripped the boy's thighs and asked, "Which way to the village."

The boy put his mouth close to Angelo's ear and said, "Up river," Then he proceeded to rub the side of his face against Angelo's.

His feelings as David nuzzled up to the side of his face started to make Angelo feel a bit uncomfortable. He had never in his life imagined that another boy could stir up such feelings.

His thoughts were invaded by David's voice whispering in his ear, "Do you like me Angelo, or are you being nice because you're afraid of losing your job?"

"What do you think David?"

"I think you like me I can feel it in you, but I'll soon know," and using his hand David turned Angelo's face sideways and brought their lips together.

The moment he did there was a flash of understanding in David's mind, and the memories he been trying to bring to the surface since first seeing Angelo, were now recalled in full. He broke the kiss and, overawed by the discovery of Angelo's true identity. David whispered, his voice barely audible.

"Michael."

Part 7

Angelo's heart was beating at nearly twice its normal rate from the kiss David had given him. He was astonished by the new emotions he was feeling. He'd heard David whisper "Michael", and trying to keep his voice calm asked?

"Who's Michael?"

David was silent for a minute, as the question registered on his mind, then he responded, "Don't you know?"

"Not really. The only Michael I know was at the boys' home and he's still there."

"What boys' home are you talking about?"

"The one where I've lived since I was about eight when my parents were killed."

"Oh I'm sorry Angelo." And David realized that he was confronted by one of two possibilities. First Angelo had no recollection of having been an Angel. Second that Angelo was not Michael, (but that was highly unlikely if David's feelings were not playing him false).

His thoughts were interrupted by Angelo asking, "So, who's Michael; you didn't say?"

"Umm someone I met a few weeks back."

Well what about Michael," Angelo enquired as he continued to walk along with the boy on his back. He was a bit concerned that David might have been involved with another older boy.

His thoughts were interrupted by, "Angelo, could you put me down please."

"Why, is something wrong?" he responded.

"Nothing's wrong. I want to talk to you."

"Can't you talk while you're on my back."

"Yeah, I suppose so," and after a brief hesitation he put his mouth next to Angelo's ear and said, "You're Michael."

Angelo paused momentarily and as he continued walking, asked, "How did you come by that conclusion?"

"When I kissed you."

Angelo knew he had to be tactful talking to David as he'd discovered how a slight tease could upset him, "Yes. Well that was very nice David. Are you sure you can tell from just one kiss that Michael and I are one and the same person."

David pulled himself up so that once again the side of his face was resting against Angelo's, "That's all it took," he said, "To confirm my suspicions when we first met. Remember last night when I came to your bed. I couldn't sleep. It was because I was trying to remember where I'd seen you before, and when I kissed you just now my feelings brought the memories back."

"What memories?"

"Even if you don't remember, I do. You're Michael, and we first met about a month ago."

Angelo swivelled his head and stared into David's very serious hazel eyes said, "Yes I think you're right that you'd better get down, David, so we can talk."

David released his hold around Angelo's neck and slid down to the ground. Angelo turned and gazed down at him, then put an arm around him, guided him to the river bank and sat down, pulling him to sit down.

He paused for a minute and asked, "Okay tell me about when we supposedly met a month ago."

And David went into detail how he and Michael had met and who Michael was, and how, when he left, he said he'd be back but wasn't sure when, and when he did come back he wasn't sure if either or both of us would remember." David stopped and took Angelo's hand and held it. "But I did. From the moment I saw you I just had this feeling that you were Michael. Your face has changed slightly but your eyes are still the same and the moment I kissed you I knew you were Michael."

Angelo was silent for a moment, his mind reeling from what David had just told him, because if it were true, a month ago he'd been a spiritual being. Even his name, coincidentally enough, in English meant Angel and seemed to corroborate David's story.

His thoughts were interrupted by David's voice asking? "Angelo do you believe me, or do you think I'm making it all up?"

He turned his head to look at his young companion sitting beside him and smiled saying, "I'm not sure what to believe. The story you just told me is so way out it's hard to believe, yet it has a ring of truth about it so I don't think you're lying. The only problem is I can't recall anything like that. I have flashes at the edges of my mind about your face but nothing I can hold on to."

"It's okay Angelo. I can remember for both of us."

Angelo laughed and got to his feet. "Well if we don't get to the village and hand over the shopping list soon, I will be a memory when I get the sack."

David also stood up and they headed for the village. As they walked along the river bank David was silent his head bowed in thought.

Angelo noticed and asked, "What's on your mind?"

"Umm nothing much," the boy answered. "Okay I'd better tell you."

" Now what?" Angelo enquired, "More revelations?"

"Well sort of. It's about after you (or, I should say, Michael) left. I was really miserable and Rupert noticed right away and questioned me. He knew about Michael being an Angel but when I told him that the moment I'd seen Michael's face I'd just fallen in love with him, and now that he'd left I really missed him something terrible. Rupert at first thought I was being silly and that I was mixing up love with friendship, but when I told him about my feelings for Michael and what had happened when I had kissed him then he believed me. He soon had me feeling better by telling me that Michael, being what he was, would never lie. So I just had to be patient and he'd return as soon as he could." Looking up at Angelo to gauge his reaction, David didn't see any emotion on Angelo's face. So he finished with, "You see Rupert knows how I felt about Michael."

Angelo was recalling how Rupert had looked at him when they had first met in the kitchen. Now, after what David had told him, he wondered if Rupert, too, suspected him of being Michael.

Putting those thoughts to one side he looked at David and said, "After we get back from the village, I think we'll have some talking to do." and he took David's hand to reassure him and asked, "Do you think we should include Rupert in the discussion? Apparently he knows everything about you and Michael."

"Yes that would be a good idea, but can we wait till after tea? Mum and dad will be going out to a meeting then, so we'll have an empty house and no likelihood of being overheard by my parents."

"Okay after tea, and to make the time go quicker you can watch part 1 of Lord of the Rings this afternoon."

"Aren't you going to watch it as well?"

"Only if there's no work to be done."

"I'll tell Rupert to let you off for the afternoon."

"No David, that's not fair. You know Rupert will give in to you, and I was hired to help him because of his age. Watching movies is not really earning my keep."

"Sorry Angelo. Okay, if you have work, I'll watch it on my own.

They continued to the village and into the local supermarket. After placing their grocery order they went over to the DVD section. Instead of renting the DVD's David ended up buying a 3 in 1 DVD pack of Lord of the Rings.

On the way back David forgot all about playing skipping stones. He wanted to get back to the house as soon as possible to watch the DVD.

On entering the house they immediately heard Mrs Jennings calling for them, so with Angelo at his side David went into the kitchen where his mother and father were.

"Ah there you both are," she said, "We're just about to eat so get a plate each and bring it over here. The boys did as requested and the four of them were soon sitting eating their lunch.

"Is Rupert having his afternoon nap?" David asked, through a mouthful of food."

"Yes" said his mother, "and David how many more times must I tell you not to talk with your mouth full. It's the height of bad manners."

David swallowed his mouthful. "Sorry mum." Then he looked across the table at Angelo who was smiling at his being reprimanded.

"If Rupert is having his nap you won't have anything to do till he wakes, so you can watch the movie with me."

"He's already told me what I have to do when I get back from the village, and that's to make a laundry list."

"You can always do it tomorrow, Angelo. Just leave it and we can watch Lord of the Rings."

"No David, I have to do it when I've finished eating and have helped with the dishes."

"Good for you Angelo," Mr Jennings said, butting into the conversation. "Don't give into him. Rupert lets him get away with far too much and waits on him hand and foot."

"He does not, dad." David replied indignantly, "He won't buy me fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night and wouldn't take me to see Die Hard 4 or Transformers when other kids were going in to see them. We ended up seeing Harry Potter."

"Yes, but he gives in to you on nearly everything else."

"No! He treats me just the same as he treated you when you were my age. Actually Rupert told me you were a handful when you were young and very hard to control."

Mr Jennings frowned at that and then mumbled, "I'll have to have a word with Rupert."

"He'll only tell you off dad!" David grinned, "So I wouldn't bother if I were you."

William Jennings mumbled under his breath and went on eating.

He'd finished helping with the dishes, and had just finished making the list for the laundry. It had been nearly an hour since David had gone to watch his DVD, and Angelo was on the verge of going to keep him company, when Rupert walked into the kitchen.

Angelo decided that now was a good time to ask Rupert about the relationship that had developed between David and Michael.

As the Rupert put the kettle on Angelo asked whether he could have a private word.

Rupert s the concerned look on his face and said, "Certainly, would you like a cup of tea, Angelo, while we talk."

"No thank you Rupert." Angelo responded, and he sat and waited at the table while Rupert poured his tea and joined him.

"So, what's on your mind son? Not thinking of leaving the job are you?" he said and smiled hoping to put him at ease.

"No definitely not. Actually I told David that we'd talk together, the three of us, after his parents go out this evening. But I thought it would be better if just you and I talked first."

"Alright Angelo now you really have got my interest. Go ahead and say what you have to."

"It's about David's involvement with Michael."

"Ah I see, and what has Davey told you?".

" Everything! Even about how you told him that Michael would never lie and would come back."

"So, what is it you wanted to know? - if Davey has told you everything?"

"Well, I feel it's a bit awkward."

"Come on Angelo! Spit it out. I'm not about to bite you."

" Well! Isn't David a bit young to be talking about falling in love with a man a few years older than himself."

"Does it bother you Angelo?"

"No not at all. I was just wondering whether he really knows about love. I've never had a relationship of any sort so I don't know what to think. I thought, as you know David so well, you would be able to tell me if he really was in love with Michael or if it was just infatuation."

"I can't be a hundred percent sure, Angelo, but I would say that if he said it's love, it's not far off that mark. And as for falling for another man you forget, Angelo, it wasn't a man but a Spiritual Being, or an Angel, as we call them."

"Umm but, Rupert, he's now saying that I'm Michael," Angelo said worriedly.

"Well you do have a strong resemblance to Michael so I can see why he'd think that," Rupert said, getting up from his chair and going for a refill.

"You sure you won't have a cup of tea?"

"No thanks Rupert, but it's not only because of my looks that he says I'm Michael."

"Oh! then, what else makes Davey think that you're Michael?" the butler asked walking back to the table with his second cup of tea in his hand, and sitting down again.

And Angelo told Rupert about the kiss when he had been giving David a piggy back ride.

"So what did you feel when Davey kissed you?" Rupert asked staring at the boy intently.

"It's hard to describe. When his lips touched mine it was like a bolt of electricity going through me."

"Weren't you upset by Davey's kissing you?"

"No, not upset but worried, Rupert. I don't know what to do for the best. I've no experience to go on. He's so young! What does he really know about love and relationships? Couldn't I do the wrong thing and harm him?"

Rupert was silent for a bit. Then he got to his feet and with his head bowed, he paced around the room in thought. Eventually he turned to Angelo and said, "I'm sure David, for all his youth, is well aware of the implications of what he said when he told me that he loved Michael. Whether he would have said it if Michael had been a human being I'm unable to tell you. But in your case, Angelo, although you are human, as far as Davey is concerned, you are a reincarnation of Michael."

Rupert walked over to Angelo and stood behind him and put his hands on his shoulders. "So when he kissed you and he realized who you were – to him it was simple. Michael had kept his promise and returned as you."

Angelo heard Rupert's words and turned to face him. He looked up at him and asked, "What am I supposed to do?"

"Nothing Angelo! Let your own feelings guide you and later this evening, as Davey suggested, we'll sit down and discuss the matter. Now go and keep him company or do whatever you wish. I don't have anything else for you to do at the moment."

He left Rupert drinking his second cup of tea and made his way to the drawing room. At the door he suddenly had a change of mind and made his way upstairs to his room. Inside he removed his shoes and coat and lay down on the bed with his hands behind his head.

He went over the discussion he'd had with Rupert and all that it implied. He couldn't fathom the reasons that had attracted him to David from the moment they had met, but the fact that he was attracted, made him wonder about how he had come to this household for employment, and why he had been accepted without any references.

David just made him feel so wanted; the boy was so open! He held nothing back, so you were never in any doubt as to what his feelings were towards you.

He had his eyes closed as his mind went over everything that had happened to him since his arrival at this house, and, as so often happens when one's mind is mulling over the events of the day and the body is tired, he fell asleep.

David knocked softly on the door and, getting no response, opened it and poked his head in to see Angelo lying on his back, hands behind his head, sleeping.

He entered the room, softly closing the door behind him and walked over and gently sat on the bed. Then he kicked off his shoes and lay beside the sleeping form. He lay on his side studying the face that slept before him and knew in his heart that this was Michael, and although Angelo had no recollection of their previous meeting, he was not going to let that stop him from showing his feelings. He lifted himself on one elbow and leaned over Angelo and slowly lowered his face to bring their lips together.

The moment David's lips touched his, Angelo awoke; it took him but an instant to realize that it was David whose lips were pressing against his. He removed his hands from behind his head and wrapped his arms around the boy gently pressing him into his body as he relished the kiss. And he realized that indeed he loved David.

Angelo rolled over till David was under him and then, breaking the kiss, lifted his head and looked down.

"Guess what?" he asked.

"No idea. Tell me!" the young boy said.

"You have to have at least one guess."

"Umm, you liked the kiss."

"Well sort of."

"You can't 'sort of' like a kiss;" David said with a hint of indignation in his voice, "either you like it or you don't."

Angelo admitted, "Okay I liked the kiss but that's not it so guess again."

"I'm not guessing any more, so you're just going to have to tell me."

Angelo smiled and lowered his face and kissed the younger boy on the end of the nose saying, "I love you."

David threw his arms around Angelo's neck and laughing, pulled him down squeezing him into his body wrapping his legs around Angelo's midriff in a scissor grip at the same time saying:

"I knew it! I knew it!" And then squeezed even harder.

* * * * *

The three of them sat in the drawing room talking for over an hour. Rupert mainly listened to the two boys expressing how they felt about each other.

Now he stood and paced around the room collecting his thoughts then faced them, he cleared his throat and said,

"Firstly," looking at David, "your parents will have to be told about your feelings for each other." David was about to object but was silenced by a glance from Rupert. He had been raised, more or less, by Rupert and knew that look and kept quiet.

"Neither of you have to worry about that. I'll be the one to tell them the story and how it started when they were in Athens, and what is unfolding now, today, in this house."

He walked over to one of the armchairs and lowered himself into it, and said, "I helped raise your father before you, David, so I'm sure that he'll listen to what I have to say, and your parents, knowing that I'm not one for flights of fancy, will, I hope, believe what I have to tell them."

David got up and went over to Rupert, climbed onto his lap, planted a kiss on his cheek and said, "Thanks Rupert! I don't know what I'd do without you."

Rupert smiled, "You know, your father used to say the self same thing when he was your age and in trouble and waiting for me to get him out of it. Now I want you and Angelo out of the house tomorrow when I talk to your parents. I'll get Angelo to take you into the village on some errand or other and I don't want you back for at least a couple of hours. Understood?"

"Yes Rupert." The boys chorused and David got up from Rupert's lap and went back to sit by Angelo.

* * * * *

"Rupert, this is just too fantastic. How can you expect us to believe this cock and bull story of David being in love and that Angelo is the same person as Michael and that Michael was an angel?"

William Jennings was worse than puzzled after listening to Rupert telling him of his son's involvement with Angelo.

"Please sit down, Sir! I can't talk while you are pacing around the room like a wounded tiger."

William Jennings looked at his butler and then sat down. He knew from boyhood that when Rupert used that tone of voice he was not to be argued with.

Firstly Sir."

"Oh for God's sake Rupert!Don't be so bloody formal."

"Alright! I do wish you'd learn to control your language."

"Sorry Rupert."

The butler looked over the top of his spectacles at his employer, "Humph! Yes quite."

"How long had the advertisement for an assistant for me been running in the Hazeldene Gazette before Angelo answered it?"

"Umm about a month."

"And before Angelo were there any other applicants for the position."

"No."

"Don't you find that a bit strange? "

"Now that you mention it Rupert yes, that is odd? I hadn't even thought of it." Mr Jennings said looking over at his wife.

"Good, now can you tell me why you engaged Angelo to be my assistant?"

"Umm because he applied for the job and I thought he'd be a suitable person for it."

"Very good, and can you tell me on what grounds you based that decision?"

"Umm uh, he just seemed right for it."

"In other words you employed a person to work in your household without asking for any references or knowing whether he had any experience working in service and without any character check being made."

" I umm, God! I don't know how that happened."

"Well I think that was just an oversight on William's part," Claudette Jennings said coming to her husbands defence.

Rupert turned his attention to Lady Jennings, "Then if it was an oversight on William's part what reason did you have to ask Angelo to be a companion for David?"

" Oh my goodness!" Claudette Jennings exclaimed, putting a hand to her mouth, "Whatever is going on here?"

Well now, maybe you will give more credence to the supernatural suggestions I am making and consider again the story I told you about David's meeting with Michael while you were in Athens. And how when Michael left he said he'd return, and which, in your son's mind he has, in the form of Angelo."

William Jennings rose to his feet again and walked over to the window to look out into the garden. His mind was in a whirl, he just couldn't get his head around the fact that his son had fallen in love, apparently with a spiritual being.

He turned to face Rupert who was still standing in the middle of the room looking at him. "Is Angelo an Angel?" He asked, staring at the man who had helped to bring him up.

"No, not in his present form!He doesn't even recollect meeting David previously."

"So do you believe that Michael was an Angel?"

"I have no doubt about it."

"What do we do, Rupert?"

"We, or the two of you, will talk to them and tell them what they may and may not do until David reaches the age of consent. At the moment I think, because of his age, the attraction David has for Angelo is platonic but it is still very intense. I'm not sure but I think that, as he gets older, sex may enter into the relationship.

" But, Sir", said Rupert "The hardest thing to bear is that David may not be with us for too many years." Mr Jennings jumped to his feet, "What do you mean by that Rupert?"

"I can't be certain but I think Angelo is here in answer to David's prayers but only for a limited time and when he returns David will want to go with him."

Husband and wife stared at each other in shock on hearing Rupert's words; they came together and embraced. Claudette rested her head on her husband's shoulder.

With his wife still in his arms William Jennings turned his head to face his butler, "How sure are you Rupert?"

"Not a hundred percent, but pretty sure Sir."

So, as you need an heir and you may lose David, you need to have another child. It doesn't have to be straight away but I suggest that if you see David's relationship with Angelo getting even more intense then you should take that as a sign of their impending departure and that it would be advisable to have a second child.

"When will the boys be returning home? I wish to speak to them."

"It shouldn't be long. I told them to stay out for a couple of hours and it has just gone that."

* * * * *

Angelo lay in his bed thinking over what had transpired over the last two days. How applying for a job and a twelve, no - nearly thirteen-year-old boy had completely changed his life. His mind went over the day's events and the talk that he and David had had with David's parents on their return from the village.

He smiled to himself when remembering the boy's indignation when Mr Jennings had asked if Angelo had done anything sexual to him, and his response:

"Angelo would never do anything like that unless I asked him, and in any case I hadn't even thought about it. I love him and just want to be with him all the time."

He leaned over and kissed the sleeping boy that lay beside him, his pure openness and innocence made Angelo realize that he could never bring himself to make a sexual approach. If there were ever to be any sexual activity between them then it would have to be David who took the first steps.

He stroked the head that rested on his shoulder then gently squeezed out from under. He stood by the bed looking down at the sleeping form then lifting David into his arms carried him back to his own bedroom.

As he left David's room Rupert was standing outside.

"Is he alright?" the man enquired.

"Yes, he was a bit put out by the talk his father gave him. And he didn't like being quizzed about sexual acts. But he's also glad that you brought everything out into the open."

"Alright Angelo. I'll see you in the morning."

"Night Rupert," and Angelo made his way back to his bed which seemed less inviting now that David wasn't sleeping in it.

He lay thinking for a moment on what David's parents had said during their discussion about the boys' feelings for one another. He was on the point of stretching his hand out to switch off the light when his bedroom door opened and David stood in the doorway looking very displeased.

"Why did you take me back to my room when I fell asleep?, Don't you want me sleeping with you?"

Angelo didn't answer instead he just lifted the bed clothes and indicated with his head for David to come over. He needed no second invitation. He closed the door, and in a matter of seconds had his body wrapped around Angelo with his head buried in the crook of Angelo's neck.

As he stroked the boy's head Angelo said, "I thought that maybe your parents wouldn't like the idea of you spending the night in my bed."

The boy lifted his head and raised his body so he could look down into those vivid green eyes, "I suppose if I sleep with you they might think we're doing sex huh."

The older boy smiled at the way David put it, "Yeah! that's why I took you back to your bed."

"Well I'm not doing anything sexy except get stiffies and that's all, but I can kiss you cant I?

"Yes I think kissing is allowed," and Angelo wondered how long this most loving boy would be content with just kissing?

His thoughts were broken as David's face lowered and he felt the boy's lips brush against his. The moment that happened he was in another world. Every time David brought their lips together it had this effect on him. He wrapped his arms around the slim figure and gently hugged him as he was swept away with the passion of the union of their lips.

David broke the kiss and giggling said, "I got a stiffy again, and so have you."

Trying not to make not too much of an issue of it Angelo nonchalantly said, "Umm yes! Now go to sleep."

"Okay," and David snuggled down against the older boy. Then mumbled "Night Angelo. Your stiffy is heaps bigger than mine."

He had to stifle a laugh, and pulled the younger boy closer, switched the light off and gradually drifted to sleep with David in his arms.

* * * * * * *

The phone rang and Angelo answered it, "Jennings's residence! Who, may I ask, is calling."

"Angelo, you're beginning to sound as pompous as Rupert."

"Oh sorry Mrs Jennings what can I do for you."

"Is David at hand?"

"No he's gone into town; he made it an excuse to use his car."

"Ah I see. Angelo, I want you to book two air tickets so that David and you can join us here. We won't be back in time for his eighteenth birthday so we would like him to celebrate it here with us in Istanbul."

"Okay Mrs Jennings. How soon do you wish us to be there?"

"Within the week would be alright."

"Okay, do you want to talk to Rupert at all?"

"No thank you Angelo, being pregnant and in this heat taxes one's stamina."

"Should I get David to call you back when he returns?"

"Not for at least an hour. I'm going to take a nap. Bye Angelo! We'll talk to you later."

"Bye Mrs Jennings and regards to Mr Jennings" and Angelo hung up

He made his way into the library where Rupert was busy putting away the books that David had been using.

"Rupert, Mrs Jennings phoned and she wants David and me to join them in Istanbul as they can't be back for his eighteenth birthday. Which travel agent usually handles their bookings?"

"No travel agent Angelo. Just phone the airline; tell them who it's for and when you want to travel. They'll have a couple of tickets delivered here by courier."

"Okay I'll wait till David gets back and we can sort out when to leave, I don't suppose you'd want to come."

"And who do you think is going to look after the house?" Rupert said.

"Umm stupid question to ask.Anything you want us to bring back from Turkey for you?"

Rupert looked over the top of his spectacles at the young man who hadn't changed an iota in the last five years. "Just look after Davey."

"You don't have to ask me that Rupert. You know how we are."

"Yes I know! Now go and phone that car maniac and get him to get back home so that you can organise your trip."

* * * * *

He gazed at the slim blond haired boy that lay beside him. David, in the last five years, had grown to 5ft 8ins but was still very slightly built and tipped the scales at 130 pounds. He still looked very youthful and on many occasions had been mistaken for a fourteen-year-old. David caught Angelo staring at him, smiled and rolled over to lie full length on top of him, "What's going on inside that head of yours?"

" Nothing. Can't a person look?"

"No, I'd much prefer we make love."

Angelo smiled, the boy never talked about sex. To him it was always love, and that's how it should be: an expression of their commitment to one another.

It had been a very shy fourteen-year-old David who after much oohing and ahhing took the first steps and asked if they could make love for the first time. To David mutual masturbation was as much an act of love as any other form of sexual activity. Now he was no longer a shy fourteen-year-old. At nearly eighteen David had come to be quite an accomplished lover, neither domineering nor submissive, just an equal partner in their love making and giving as much as accepting.

Angelo's thoughts were interrupted as his young lover pecked him on the lips wanting to begin. He wrapped his arms around David and they became one.

* * * * *

"Bye Rupert." David said, giving the butler a kiss on the forehead, "See you in a couple of weeks." Angelo shook Rupert's hand echoing David's words of "Bye."

And the boys made their way out to the car that would take them to the airport.

They had been in the air approximately three and a half hours when a voice over the intercom asked passengers to take their seats and to fasten their seat belts as they were approaching turbulent air. David, who had been in the first class lounge, came back to where Angelo was reading a book, and buckled up beside him. They'd been sitting for about a couple of minutes talking when the plane suddenly dropped like a stone, they must have descended thousands of feet in seconds. David gripping the arms of the chair felt his stomach churning and could hear screams coming from other passengers. The plane continued to plummet and debris was being hurled about the plane as it nose dived towards the earth. A hand clasped his he looked to see Angelo smiling at him and amidst all the screaming and confusion his fears left him.

Seconds before the plane plunged into the earth, Angelo heard a voice say, "Sammael it's time to return and bring David with you." And once again he was Sammael or, as the boy called him, Michael.

He looked around at the wreckage that was strewn over a considerable area, and saw the life forces all being taken away except one. He smiled, as from within the wreckage of the plane, a blond haired hazel eyed boy of nearly thirteen came over to him.

"Michael, are we, umm or I should say, am I dead?"

"Do you feel dead?"

"Nope, and its brilliant being thirteen again or nearly."

"Are you ready to go?"

"Give us a kiss first."

"Okay but we can't be hanging around all day."

The boy jumped up wrapping his arms around Michael's neck and legs around his waist. Gazing into the Angel's eyes he brought his face forward till their lips met and this time Michael did not control his emotions, there was a flash of light and they disappeared into the heavens.

David broke the kiss and looked around, "What happened,"

"Michael pecking the boy on the nose said, "What do you think happened? You kissed me and this time I didn't hold back."

"Where are we?"

"Well you see that big red star over there," Michael said, pointing, "that's Antares."

"So how far is it away from the earth?"

"Over a thousand light years away."

"Crikey if that's what one little kiss can do what would happen if we French kissed."

Their conversation was interrupted by a voice saying inside their heads. "I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for you two to arrive."

David eyes widened and asked, "Was that?"

Pecking David on the lips Michael said, "Yes, now unravel yourself from around me and let's go."

David did as Michael asked, and nervously took his hand asking, "Is he annoyed?"

The Angel smiled at him reassuringly and squeezing the boy's hand said, "No he's just eager to meet you. You see when you were conceived, David, he put just that little bit of extra love into you."

Michael released David's hand then wrapped his arms around him pulling him close and saying, "Here we go."

The astral bodies in the cosmos seemed like mere candles flickering in the dark in comparison to the sudden awe inspiring flash of light - and Michael and David Nearly 13 no longer inhabited this mortal plane.

Epilogue

One moment he was in Michael's arms with the super giant Antares in view the next he was not twenty feet away from, and in the presence of, the Supreme Being.

He felt Michael unravel his arms from around him and then place a hand on his back and gently push him forward.

Hesitantly he walked towards his Creator. Half way there he looked over his shoulder at Michael who smiled and nodded, encouraging him to go on.

Standing before the Supreme Being and with a nervous smile on his face he said, "Hi, I'm David."

A hand reached out and stroked his head and in that one simple gesture David felt the love emanating from Him into his being and putting him completely at ease.

"So what kept you David? I've been waiting for you to get here."

"Umm we or I should say I asked Michael for a kiss, and I suppose I kind of knocked him off course, because we ended up near this big star, actually it wasn't big it was a ginormous one called Antares."

"Yes, I umm have noticed what you do to Michael. When you kiss him; he seems to go all haywire."

David giggled, "I know, but this was the first time he didn't try to control himself."

"Yes, well I hope he can learn to control himself more in future."

"Oh crikey, you're not angry at Michael are you? It wasn't his fault, it was all mine."

"Hop up here David," the Supreme Being said, gesturing with open arms. "I want to tell you something."

David jumped up wrapping his arms and legs around his Creator, "What did you want to tell me?"

"I can never get angry with Sammael, or as you call him Michael."

"Do you want me to call him Sammael, because I will if you want?"

"No, actually he quite likes being called Michael. Now as I was saying, umm Michael is one of my most faithful and hard working beings. So I wanted to give him a reward for all he's done."

"What did he do?" David interrupted.

"Well, when people on earth have finished their time there, Michael goes and brings their souls back to me."

"So what was the reward you were going to give him?"

"Umm yes, if you can stop interrupting, I'll tell you."

"Oops - sorry."

" Alright, now to continue." The Supreme Being said, frowning as he saw the boy in his arms open his mouth to speak then close it, having second thoughts about saying something.

"As Michael's involvement with the human race was only when people had expired, I wanted him to experience human emotions and all they involved. So I sent him to meet a certain nearly 13 year old boy who had a whole lot of love which he was just aching to give to someone."

David giggled, "You fixed it for us to meet did you?"

"Of course I did."

David smiled saying "Thanks." Leaned forward and placed a kiss on his Creator's forehead.

There was a flash and David looked around then laughed and through his laughter said, "You did that on purpose didn't you, because we're near Antares again."

"What me do that on purpose," the Supreme Being said with an affected look of indignation on his face, "never, that just happened when you kissed me," then with a faint smile hovering on his lips and pecking the boy on the nose said, "come on I'd better take you back. Michael will be wondering where you are."

The next instant they had returned and the Supreme Being released him. "Right you'd better get back to Michael and I'll see you both later."

"Bye," David said hopping down, and headed back to Michael and on reaching him jumped into his arms, and wrapped himself around him.

The End

The Spirits of Christmas

As the clock chimed the midnight hour so husband and wife embraced and kissed wishing each other A Happy Christmas.

Earl William of Mercia disengaging himself from his wife's embrace, and accompanied by her walked across the room to greet their most trusted and long serving employee.

With his wife at his side they took it in turns to wish Rupert the Compliments of the Season.

"So what will you have to drink Rupert? William Jennings enquired of his Butler after wishing him, and opened the Brandy bottle in readiness to his response which was the same every year.

"Just a small Brandy William, have to be up early in the morning to see the Christmas Dinner is made ready on time."

"Heavens Rupert," Claudette Jennings exclaimed, "can't you leave that for the cook to deal with, I'm sure he can manage without you being present, and having a lie in one day of the year won't do you any harm."

Rupert looked at Countess Jennings over the top of his spectacles, "And what if something were to go wrong? Who do you suppose is going to take charge and put things right?"

"Humph! Yes alright Rupert." William Jennings said handing him his brandy, "Now you've just given me the ammunition I needed. After the Christmas Holidays whether you like it or not I'm getting someone in to assist you to replace Angelo."

Rupert looked at his employers and surprisingly said, "Alright if you must we'll employ someone after New Year.

Then raising his glass said, "Cheers."

They all sat sipping their drinks till the quiet was disturbed by sounds of a baby crying over the intercom. Claudette Jennings jumped up left her drink on the coffee table and made her way to the bedroom to attend to Daniel Jennings.

The moment his wife had left the room, William Jennings stood and walked over to the window that looked out onto the back garden. Pulling the curtains aside he gazed out at the expanse of grounds lit by concealed lighting in various parts of the garden, where his son used to play.

Inside he was hurting but had concealed his feelings for the sake of his wife. This would be their first Christmas since David and Angelo's deaths, and without the boys the Christmas celebrations were a bit muted.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked to see the old butler standing beside him, "It's very quiet without them around." the old man said.

"Oh God Rupert. You don't know how bad I feel. We never even had a chance to say goodbye to them and it hurts every time I think of our being in Istanbul at the time instead of here at home. Also not being able to find their bodies in the wreckage to give them a funeral makes it just that little bit harder." Then turning to look out into the garden again said, "Claudette and I won't be making the same mistakes again, no more world trips, at the expense of neglecting our child. I want to be part of his everyday life, and be at hand whenever he needs me no matter what time of day or night. I know you did a wonderful job Rupert, firstly helping in my upbringing and then performing that same duty for David. But this time we are going to do it ourselves," smiling and turning to look at the aged employee, "with advice from you, of course."

"Yes I should think so, but this time I think I'm a bit past changing nappies."

"Do you want another brandy?" William Jennings asked taking Rupert's empty glass from his hand."

"Alright. One more before I go to bed."

As he filled Rupert's glass so his wife entered the room carrying their son who was feeding from a bottle. Handing Rupert his drink he went to his wife and helped her to a seat.

"Michael, David, I need you both in my presence." And the two beings answered the summons immediately and were instantly in the presence of the Supreme Being.

Looking at the young form, The Creator smiled saying "David, how would you like to pay a visit to your parents at Christmas."

David was speechless for a moment then burst out with a loud "Yeah," then moving quickly over to his creator and hugging him said, "Can I take Michael with me?"

"What?" the Supreme Being responded, breaking the boys embrace and holding him at arms length with an indignant expression, "and precisely what do you think I'm going to do with him moping around here while you're gone," he said smiling.

Seeing the boy puckering his lips and moving his face forward to kiss him "Don't you dare!" The Supreme being said, in mock horror, "The last time you did that we ended up in the back end of nowhere."

David laughed and planted a kiss on his creators forehead then asked "How long can we stay?"

"A few hours should be long enough David, to put your parents mind at rest. I took you away from them before they had a chance to say goodbye so now you can give them peace of mind and let them know all is well with you."

"Thanks," the boy said, then walking over to Michael asked, "You ready?"

Michael didn't answer instead he wrapped his arms around the boy, and the next instant they were in the back garden of his father's house.

They stood there in the early hours of Christmas day with a gentle fall of snowflakes settling around them.

David smiled, "You caused this?"

Michael with a twinkle in his eyes responded with, "Do you like it."

David leaned forward and pecked him on the lips, "Yeah, it's what we always wanted but never got: A White Christmas."

Michael took the boy by the arm, "Let's go," and as he steered the boy towards the house asked? "How do you think we should appear to them David, at the front door after ringing the bell or at the Christmas tree when they come to open their gifts?"

David didn't hesitate, "At the tree, we'll materialize when they walk into the room," he said with a ring of excitement in his voice, then stopping and grabbing Michael, "they won't get scared when we materialize will they."

"I think they may get a bit apprehensive at first but as soon as they see who it is, they should soon lose any signs of nervousness."

They finished their breakfast and William Jennings looking across at Rupert asked, "Have you given the staff their presents?"

"Yes before breakfast."

"Alright Rupert let's go and do it just like David always insisted on how it had to be done.

They made their way to the drawing room where the Christmas tree stood in all its splendour ― lights flashing and presents scattered around the base.

As customary Rupert threw the double doors open so that the family could walk into the decorated room.

As they all stepped into the room so the lights dimmed which was not normal, they looked at each other then on either side of the Christmas tree two figures began to materialize. The adults at first sucked in their breaths and halted their progress into the room. But as the forms took on the familiar looks of the absent boys so they broke into smiles of joy and wonderment.

David with a grin a mile wide made for his mother, and wrapping his arms around her kissed her on the cheek, and then looking at his baby brother in her arms kissed him on the forehead. Turning to Rupert he embraced the old man kissing him on both cheeks, then it was jumping into his fathers arms and wrapping his arms and legs around him at the same time kissing him.

Meantime Michael had been greeting the others and now turned to Earl Jennings to greet him also while David was still in his arms.

Before Michael could say anything William Jennings had put the boy down and grabbed hold of him hugging Michael saying,

"Thank you, Michael, for looking out for him."

"You don't have to thank me Mr Jennings it's a pleasure to look out for him: one that I can never tire of." Then he explained to the adults, that after his death, David had returned to the age when the two of them had first met.

David interrupted any further discussion between them all by announcing, "Okay let's see what prezzies you've bought each other."

And they all made for the tree to unwrap their presents with the able assistance of David, who had always taken as much pleasure in the past in helping unwrap other people's presents just as much as his own.

Once the business of unwrapping the gifts and thanking each other was over, they spent the rest of the morning talking and just revelling in each other's presence. Now as it approached the time for them to depart David stood in the middle of the room with Michael by his side. Looking at the three adults he said, "Dad, Mum, and Rupert, you know all is well with me. There is no reason for you to be sad that Michael and I are not with you anymore. Be happy, don't be reluctant to talk about me, and tell Daniel all about his older brother. Oh and one more thing! Teach him how to swim from as early an age as possible," grinning and looking at Michael, "I don't think God can spare anymore angels to come and rescue him if he falls in the river."

David and Michael said their goodbyes to the adults, then they made their way over to the Christmas tree and Michael enveloped the boy in his arms and with one final smile from both of them they disappeared from view.

The Beginning

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