“No. Absolutely not,” said Raphael firmly, hands on his slender hips and trying to make his chin look particularly determined.
Gabriel stamped his foot and pouted a little. “I am sick to my stomach of white and - reality check - you are not the boss of me.”
Raphael regarded his flat-mate wearily. This was an ongoing argument since they moved in together and it was draining him. Nevertheless he launched into the fray. “Minimalism. We agreed. Clean lines, tidy. Bright, like home.”
Gabriel glared. “We may have agreed, but it has been too long. Everywhere I look: white. What on earth is the point of colour if all we ever see is the absence of it?”
Raphael almost conceded the point, although Gabriel was technically incorrect: white is made up of all colours. He just couldn” t cope with the same circular metaphysical argument. Colour was marvelous. He was particularly fond of Jacaranda trees and the pale blue sky. What Gabriel wanted, though, was just too much. There was loyalty to consider; patriotism to their home, if you like.
“Gabriel, if you want black, go outside and look at the sky.”
Gabriel moved to the window and peered out. “Even the sky has little white sparkly bits. Everywhere I look, there it is. Look at this place. We can barely see ourselves in all this glowing paleness.”
It was true.
The two creatures, born of light, gazed at each other. Bleached white; every inch. Like radiant albinos; not even their eyes held a trace of colour. All white. All light. The apartment was a mirror of their bodies and their bodies a reflection of their creator and home.
“What would you do with black if you had it?” demanded Raphael, his tone even. He never shouted.
Gabriel smiled, white teeth appearing, more pearlescent than even his skin. “I would gaze at it. Revel in it. Compare myself to it. What is white without black? What is light without dark?”
Raphael felt a sliver, cold and knife like in his brain, of concern. He had this kind of talk before and things had not ended well for those who wanted dark. Those who sought the opposite of light. Yes, remembered Raphael, last time his kin had tried to do things their way had been interesting. He still couldn”t put certain names on the dinner list. Lucifer had been such a great wit and impossibly beautiful, but these things were just not done any more, a bit like smoking in public. Certain of his old friends were now angelica non-grata.
“We could compromise. What about some cream, or eggshell cushions?”
Gabriel puffed up, doing that annoying thing he had picked up in some seedy part of down-town: the universal signal for standing ones ground. He lifted a hand, moving it in a zig zag pattern, while his hips moved in the opposite direction, before the entire motion stopped. “Eggshell? Don”t be dissing me, Raphael. That is just totally lame. Eggshell? I would rather poke my eyes out with chopsticks from Tong Lok.”
Raphael sighed. Perhaps it was time to make things very clear to his militant friend, who had clearly been spending a lot of time hanging out with Jerry Springer show guests. Heaven knows, they needed assistance and who was he to judge? But he did very much wish his friend wouldn”t pick up bad habits so quickly.
“I am not, under any circumstances having black here. It leads to despair, questioning and ultimately suffering. Phone Azrael or any of the others who decided to do things themselves ““ go on. Just pick up the phone and ask. It all started with something small. Lucifer and his red cushions ““ look where that ended up.”
Gabriel stretched out, wings easily spanning the width of the room. Then, in a fit of pique, headed for the door.
“Where are you going?”
“Somewhere black,” responded Gabriel as he slid on his dark glasses and glanced over his shoulder, radiating sulkiness.
“What time will you be home?”
“When I get here,” Raphael mumbled as he headed down the stairs, trying to get his wings to fold in a more orderly manner under the coat he preferred for these little journeys into the human population.
The next few weeks went by without Gabriel bringing up the whole black thing again. Raphael was relieved as he watched Gabriel go about his daily good-deeds. Something had changed though. Every now and then, he would glimpse Gabriel looking particularly smug. Strangely self-satisfied. Raphael didn”t give it too much thought; he was only too delighted not to have sulking petulance each day.
Perhaps, thought Raphael, he had seen the light; so to speak. Certainly, Gabriel was more affectionate than usual, less snappy and a lot more accommodating of Raphael”s little peculiarities. Usually he complained about feathers in the bath, for example, and that had not happened since the big argument. Nor had there been any complaints about his musical choices - lately Dido - which was highly unusual given Gabriel’s own current choice of Greenday. Through all the centuries they had been together, music had a been a sticking point. A “don”t go there” aspect of their relationship.
Then Raphael’s world was turned upside down in a single moment.
He opened the door to their apartment, eager to share his day with Gabriel. What he saw, made him drop the milk bottle, shards of glass and drops of the liquid spreading out like a galaxy on the white tile floors. Rather, it would have looked like a galaxy if it had not landed on something the same colour as itself. But the glass shards were pretty; although Raphael didn”t notice. He was too busy looking in shock at Gabriel.
“What in the name of God have you done?”
Gabriel sat, stark naked, one long muscular white leg crossed over the other. His wings barely contained. He wiggled his toes, cheekily, making a clear statement by pointing them in Raphael”s direction, a broad grin on his face.
His toenails shimmered, a deep satin black. It was immaculately applied, no little jagged bits or places where it bled over onto his milky skin. Gabriel had always been a bit of a perfectionist.
“Revlon, Dark Night 28,” said Gabriel. “You like?”
Raphael slumped onto the couch, mesmerized by the black. Gabriel was right; it definitely did offset his paleness, his generous lightness. If anything, the little daubs of black on his toes made the rest of him glow even brighter.
“We could look at, maybe, some lilac cushions,” he said, as Gabriel held an expression of what could only be termed gloating. “Maybe a little greenery. But I will not ever tolerate any red. Are we clear?”
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