It was a starry night, a darkened sky filled with the wonders of a beautiful cosmos that Peter often watched and daydreamed under. But the atmosphere that shrouded his heart was solemn and contemplative. He sat on the rooftop of the Sauraine Lake Compound, arms wrapped around his tucked-in knees. He rested his chin on the crest of his knee caps and looked out at the massive glistening lake before him. So many bodies lay to rest at it's depths, many more further out at sea. As a Funérailles, he felt a shift, an imbalance in the world. Ever since the comet, he had witnessed unimaginable suffering and death. Death and life were an inevitable, essential part of a balanced world, but...now...more people were dying far before it was their natural time.
Just within the last few months, Peter had performed Mer de rêves (The Sea of Dreams) more than he had within the previous year combined. It was getting worse--the chaos, the destruction, the decay. Children, so many children. He wiped at the tears that weld and fell from his earthy brown eyes. Only a soft sniffle had escaped him, when suddenly, he shot up from his position and outstretched his hand toward the other side of the roof. A glittering golden light emanated from his palm and he just stood there in a wary, defensive posture. No one ever came up to the rooftop, especially not this late at night. So he couldn't help but feel cautious.
"Whose there?" he called out calmly, "Reveal yourself."
There was only silence and the rippling sounds of a peaceful lake. Then, tepid creaking on steel could be heard. It was moving upward, as though ascending a rustic ladder. Peter stared at the location of the noise as it seemed to approach closer. Eventually, a head popped over the roof edge. It was a young man, notably handsome as he fully lifted himself up and hopped on the rooftop in one smooth motion. He was tall, at least a head over Peter, and he wore the kind of dingy uniform you might find on a mechanic or engineer. Once he came into full view, illuminated by the moonlight, Peter recognized him and let his hand fall to his side. A while back, Peter had buried this man's sister at Sauraine Lake. Peter gave the fellow a puzzled look.
"Milo is it?"
The handsome young man showed him a charming grin and Peter nodded. "Right. Well, you can't be up here. And my services are no longer available until sunrise."
Milo took a step forward, and instinctively, Peter took a step back. "Actually, I wanted to thank you again, for what you did for my sister. The burial rites, they were beautiful."
Peter gave the man a feeble smile, a knowing look in his eyes, "Think nothing of it. However...." A misty silence lingered between them for a brief moment, "you really can not be up here. I'm not allowed to have visitors."
"Says who?" Milo asked, raising an eyebrow. "Your UDF captors?"
Peter regarded Milo's words and then looked away, a feeling of shame washing over him. It was true in a way. He was an Aeon, but, most didn't know that his life under the UDF had always been highly micromanaged. Where he could go, who he met from day to day, it was always hyper-regulated. Peter had tried to escape before, to fly away from the UDF and their omnipotent hand. He had tried on more than one occasion in fact. But they always recaptured him. Eventually, Peter lost hope that he would ever be free from their web.
"The Angel of Bellfort..." Milo continued, a sleek tone that was equally annoying as it was slightly enchanting. He placed his hands inside his trouser pockets, and moved a bit closer to Peter, "...a bird trapped in a gilded cage."
The reality stung and it made Peter feel more frustrated as Milo spoke so cavalierly about it. He clenched his fists and squeezed tight until his vessels mapped his flesh, "Please, leave. Before you're caught and jailed for trespassing." Peter said sternly. Milo shook his head, rebelliously non-compliant.
"Not yet. I--ugh..." Milo paused, showing a shyness he hadn't yet presented until now. Peter noticed too, the sudden flush of Milo's cheeks and the way he pulled down his hoody and rubbed the back of his neck, "I've been watching for a while now."
If that was supposed to be romantic, it had the opposite effect. Peter became leery again of Milo's intentions and his body language showed it. He furrowed his eyebrows, "Why?" he asked, a tone of distrust seeping through, "Are you here to hurt me?"
For a moment, a surprised look appeared on Milo's countenance, almost as if he were hurt by such a ridiculous notion. "Never." he said with no hesitation. "I'm just...I don't know...fascinated by you."
Peter titled his head a bit, inquisitively. "Fascinated?"
Milo nodded, "Yeah." He took a few steps closer until they were only a few feet away from each other. "For some reason, I have this overwhelming desire to protect you. To...set you free."
Rightfully so, Peter was confused by this sudden confession of interest. But the idea of being set free--the words replayed in his head.
Set you free...