Gavrael opened the front door to a fist aimed straight for his head. Reflexes honed years ago on the streets kicked in enough that he was able to dodge -- just -- out of the way of the fist. It slammed into the still half-opened door.
Gavrael blinked at the fist for a moment, and then he looked past it to its owner. He saw was the face of a man he didn't recognise, a man several decades older than him; a man who looked not only angry but also very drunk, if his bloodshot eyes and weaving mannerisms were anything to go by.
"What the hell, old man?" Gavrael held the door firmly, leaning against it, in case the weird old guy decided to try to barge into their house or something. It wasn't like they lived in a seedy neighbourhood or anything, so he wasn't exactly used to random drunkards crashing on their front doorstep.
The man's eyes moved to meet his, and Gavrael was surprised by the degree of anger in them -- anger directed at him.
"Give me back my son!" the old man roared angrily, and suddenly Gavrael understood. Raziel had warned him this might happen, but he hadn't expected it, not really. And not so soon.
"Fuck," he muttered under his breath, and as another fist came flying towards his head, he shoved the door several inches forward, letting the man's fist hit uselessly against the wood again.
He turned his head back over his shoulder.
"HANAEL!" he bellowed, his voice echoing up the stairwell and, hopefully, all the way to Hanael, wherever he might be. He didn't mind playing interference for awhile, but this wasn't his problem.
Hanael hurried down the stairs, almost tripping over his own feet in his rush, and skidded his way into the front hall. He could hear Kash's heavy footsteps somewhere behind him, more languid, but his mind was focused ahead of him.
He hadn't needed Gavrael's yelling -- the voice of Xon's father had been more than enough to get him on his feet -- but the urgency in Gavrael's voice had hastened his step. He wasn't sure what they were in for, but he didn't expect it to go well.
Gavrael was holding the door partially shut with his hip; his hands were busy wrestling with another pair of hands that were reaching through the doorway, and he was muttering under his breath.
Hanael hurried towards him, and Gavrael's head jerked in his direction, though his attention remained focused forwards.
"This is your problem, Hanael, not mine," Gavrael grumbled over his shoulder, and for a moment, Hanael was struck with an absurd urge to grin at Gavrael's constant affected disdain for other people.
"Technically, it was Raziel's idea," he shot back without thinking, and Gavrael started, turning his head properly to look at him.
Hanael ignored his wide-eyed stare, and stepped up next to him, pulling the door open wider. Gavrael stumbled, and the man on the far side of the door stumbled too, his hands jerking free of Gavrael's and grabbing at the doorframe to steady himself.
Hanael took advantage of the moment to look him over, this man that Xon had lived in fear of for probably the entirety of his life. He was of shorter stature than them, perhaps equal in height to Xon himself, but his shoulders and chest had a muscular bulk that Xon's thin, youthful body lacked. For all he was drunk and unsteady, there was a presence to him, a sharp strength, and Hanael wondered how commanding he might seem when sober.
The bloodshot eyes focused on him, and Hanael met the man's gaze firmly. He watched confusion rise in the man's expression, saw his gaze jerk first to his scar, then to his blind eye, then back again. He sighed inwardly; sometimes he forgot the first impression that he left on people. Well, at least he supposed in this instance it wasn't bad to confuse and scare the man.
"There's nothing for you here," he said, and the confusion vanished instantly from the man's face, to be replaced with anger.
"My son is here. I know he's here."
"There's nothing for you here," Hanael repeated more firmly, and as the man's hands balled into fists, he added, "and you'd do well to remember that if you know what's good for you."
He wasn't usually prone to angering quickly, but looking into this man's unrepentant face, and knowing even a hint of what Xon had been through in his life, had set his blood boiling.
"Is that a threat?" the man growled the words out, and Hanael suddenly wondered if Xon would forgive him -- if the others would forgive him -- if he applied direct and violent force to the man.
A sudden hand pressed against his chest; not from in front, but from behind. A hand that was holding him back. He looked up.
"Allow me, dear heart." Kash was standing next to him. His gaze was fixed on the man, and there was a nasty glint in his eyes, something that was almost unhealthy.
Hanael swallowed heavily. He wasn't sure he trusted Kash to handle things well... but on the other hand, he'd been about to devolve to physical violence himself. Maybe it was better to let Kash, who was obviously more suited to this sort of thing, deal with it for him.
"Alright," he said, and Kash threw him a quick, malicious grin. Then he stepped forward.
"Come here, old man," he said, and slung his arm around the man's shoulders, swinging him forcefully around. "We need to have a little chat."
Hanael remembered then the immense physical strength that Kash had gained on death, and for a moment he almost felt sorry for the old man. Almost.
"Shut the door," Kash commanded over his shoulder as he guided them down the stairs, and Hanael did as he was told.
Hanael peeked out through the curtained windows next to the front door, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Not that it really mattered; he couldn't see a damn thing, when all was said and done.
Kash and Xon's father were at the bottom of the front stairs, but all he could see was Kash's big, wide shoulders, blocking everything else from view. Kash had always been tall and broad-shouldered, and usually it was something he appreciated, but right now it was nothing but a hindrance.
And yet he couldn't tear himself away from watching, even if the only movement he could see was Kash shifting position slightly, or leaning forward, or spreading his arms expansively on occasion.
And then without warning it seemed to be over. Xon's father was staggering away from Kash, his arms wrapped around himself, his steps unsteady. Hanael couldn't even tell if Kash had done anything to him or not; he'd already been drunk and unsteady on arrival.
Kash turned and made his way up the front stairs, and Hanael hastened to move away from the window.
Kash let himself into the house, shutting the door behind him, and then leaned against it. His eyes moved to meet Hanael's waiting gaze. There was something almost unpleasant lurking in them. And then he smiled, and it was a very self-satisfied smile.
"I don't think he'll be back again," he said.
Hanael started to ask what he'd done, and then abruptly decided that he didn't want to ask, in case he didn't like the answer. It was enough that Xon's father was gone.
"...why did you do that?" he asked instead, and Kash raised an eyebrow at him.
Hanael shrugged helplessly, and then glanced around briefly to make certain they were alone.
"...I just... didn't think you cared about the humans here that much." He knew why he'd been angry at the old man, but he had a vested interest in Xon's well-being. Kash didn't.
His brother smirked at him.
"But you do."
Hanael blinked at him, uncertain how to take that. Kash's smirk turned into a smile, something more gentle, something more personal, just for him.
"If it matters to you..."
Hanael understood then, and he swallowed heavily, feeling suddenly grateful all over again that Kash had come back into his life, even if he'd been a hundred years too slow about it.
"...thank you," he said softly, lowering his head, his good eye closing. A moment later, he felt warm, strong arms wrapping around his shoulders, and he leaned into Kash's embrace gratefully.
Xon was at the window, his palms pressed against the pane, his forehead smushing his hair flat against the glass. Rafariel couldn't see his face, but he was willing to bet that his expression wasn't a good one. He hovered in the doorway, silent, unsure, wishing he knew what to say or what to do.
He'd never had a best friend before, not even for the good times, let alone the difficult times. He wanted to let Xon know that it was okay; he wanted to soothe any hurt that he might be feeling. He wanted to make his friend happy again. But he didn't know how.
Xon's head jerked towards him suddenly, just slightly. Rafariel couldn't see more than a glimpse of his cheek, but Xon obviously knew he was there. He had to say something.
"...are you okay?" he asked uncertainly.
Xon's head turned back towards the window again.
"...do you think he'll come back?"
Rafariel tangled his fingers in one of his curls.
"...I don't know."
Xon's hands slid slowly down the window, until they rested on the windowsill at the bottom.
"...I want to be stronger." His voice was hoarse, and it cracked on the final word. He swallowed loudly. "So that I can tell him to go away for myself."
Rafariel had a thought then; sometimes, when he was hurting, what he really wanted more than anything was for someone else to hold him tight and tell him it was okay.
He stepped forward awkwardly, crossing the room until he was standing behind Xon. Then he took a deep breath, hoping he was doing the right thing, and slipped his arms around Xon's shoulders, leaning his head gently against his.
"...you can get stronger," he said softly. "And... until you do... they'll take care of you. I'll take care of you."
Xon was stiff in his arms, and Rafariel wondered if he'd mistook things. He bit his lip, but he didn't let go. Not yet.
Xon's hands came up suddenly and gripped his, almost hard enough to hurt.
Xon turned his head towards him, and gave him a brilliant smile, at odds with the glimmer of tears that Rafariel could see in his eyes.
"I'll never forget or regret meeting you, even if I live to be a hundred and ten." He sniffled quietly. "You changed my life."
And Rafariel felt like maybe he'd done the right thing this time.
He hugged Xon tighter. "You changed mine too."
Xon squeezed his hands, and turned back to look out the window. His father was still wandering away down the street, but as they both watched, he turned a corner and vanished from sight, and Rafariel silently and fervently hoped that they never saw him again.