Sometimes you get a second chance at life.... even if it means guarding someone else with your life.
Zisteau is wearing all white, the long sleeves of the shirt reaching the tips of his fingers. Everything is white around him, and the horizon seems like it goes on forever. He’s confused, feeling lost and confused. He doesn’t know where he is or how he got here. All he knows was that he was playing basketball with Vechs and then he opened his eyes and he was here.
“Zisteau.” A hooded figure in all white says, appearing in front of him out of thin air.
He’s startled and jumps, stumbling backwards. “Where-where am I?” He squeaks, voice still a slightly high pitch from his young age.
“You’re at the crossroad.” The figure stated easily, and when Zisteau said nothing, sighed and continued. “You died.”
“How?” He managed to squeak, his voice way too high and his heart pounding,
But, the hooded figure just shook it’s head. “That’s not for me to tell.” It waved a sleeve covered arm. “I’m here to give you a choice. You can continue and go on into the beyond, or you can go back to earth and be a guardian.”
“You will go back to your body and live life normally, but you will have to keep your ward safe.”
“This-this makes no sense.”
“It will in time. But now, now it’s time for you to choose.”
“I-I want to go back home….” He answers quietly.
The hooded figure nods, and moves to press it’s hand to the spot just between his shoulder blades. “So be it.” It states as a warm, tingly feeling explodes from his back. “You shall protect your ward and when they die, you shall return here when they do. Good luck, my child.”
Zisteau blinks rapidly, a bright light hurting his head, stinging his eyes. He squints, seeing white tiles and white walls.
“Oh sweetie!” Comes a shout that seems to echo painfully through his brain and he grimaces, groaning slightly.
“Mama?” He croaks out, voice barely there and weak and it hurts to talk.
“I’m right here baby.” She whispers this time, clutching at his hand.
“What happened Mama?”
“You were playing basketball with Vechs and you fell and hit your head really hard when Vechs tried to block a shot.” She speaks softly, just barely a whisper, but even that hurts. “But you’re okay. I’m here, I gotcha.”
“It hurts Mama…. It hurts so much.”
“I know baby, but it’ll be okay, I promise.” She gently brushes his hair out of his face, her touch light as a feather. “The nurse will be here soon and she’ll help with the pain.”
He tries to nod, but it was probably the biggest mistake of his life as it sent his vision swimming and his stomach churning and he groans. His eyelids are heavy and fall closed as he takes breath after breath, trying to think past the unbearable pain, but he can’t. He hears voices, but they are distant and echoey, and something happens because the pain goes from unbearable to a dull ache, but it also makes him tired, so he sleeps.
The next time he wakes up, his head is pounding, he isn’t in a hospital anymore, and the soft light from his alarm clock doesn’t hurt too much. He sits up, and immediately regrets it as he gets extremely dizzy and nauseous and has to grip the edge of his night stand to keep himself upright. Once the world stills, mostly at least, he slowly stands, his legs feel shaky, kinda like jello, but he stays up. He sees the spread of soft gold downy feathers before he actually feels them, and his eyes go wide. He stares at himself in the mirror with horror for a long time. Large gold wing fully unfurled, stood out against his slightly tanned skin. He was so scared and confused. Then he remembered, the crossroad, the hooded figure. He very carefully tried flapping his wings, and it worked. It was weird, but also so magical at the same time. He took a deep breath and carefully walked down the stairs, his wings tucked gently against his back.
“Hi sweetie, how’re you feeling?” His mother asks quietly, oblivious to the gold feathers.
“My head hurts.” He responds just as quietly, afraid even his own voice would hurt his head if too loud.
“I’m sorry baby.” She whispers. “Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll get you something to eat and some of the pain killers.”
He nodded slowly, even that was enough to send his vision swimming.
“Careful baby, you have a concussion and too much movement will make you dizzy.”
“Oh.” He says quietly, the whole situation making far more sense now. “Okay.”
“After you eat I want you to go straight back to bed, okay? You need to rest up so you can get back to school as soon as possible.”
“Okay Mama.” He says as he carefully moves to sit down, only having to grip the edge of the table for a few moments to center himself. “When will I get to go back to school?”
“It’ll be a while sweetie, doc says at least two weeks, just so we’re sure you’ll be okay. And only after a check up appointment.”
“Whatcha want to eat?”
“Pancakes?” He asks with a small smile.
“Of course sweetie.”
It first happens when Zisteau is getting ready for bed one night. His sleep schedule is finally somewhat back in order, though somedays he just sleeps and sleeps because that’s all he can manage with the pounding headaches. One minute he’s brushing his teeth, staring at his reflection, and suddenly his wings start to tingle, and the next he’s standing in a foriegn bedroom where a small kid, probably around his own age, is fast asleep with his cheek smushed up against the desk, where he sat, a half finished wood model car is spread across the surface, a lamp positioned at the corner of the desk is spreading a soft light across the boy's figure. He’s startled, he doesn’t know where he is, or who this kid is. But, the tingling in his wings is persistent, and it only takes a couple of moments to realize this must surely be his ward. He knows from his brief meeting with the hooded figure that something about right now is putting his ward in danger, or will be, and he needs to figure out what.
He scans the room, not noticing anything in particular. But then he catches a glimpse of silver on the ground, There are multiple screws, a few sharp side up, scattered around the carpet. He picks them up carefully and sets them on the desk before scooping the boy up and somehow manages to carry him over to his bed and tuck him in. He takes a look at the boy’s face, which looked delicate and soft. He smiled softly and turned off the light, and the next thing he knew he was back in the bathroom, toothbrush in his mouth and squinty eyes staring back at his own from the too bright light.
The next time it happens, is his first day back at school, which to some miracle, or maybe just magic, no one notices his gold wings that stayed gently tucked against his back. He’s in class when the tingling sensation starts and he barely holds back a little gasp from the unusual feeling and then he’s not in class anymore, but in a hallway full of little cubbies with raincoats and backpacks. He’s standing in front of one labeled K. Mac. He blinks a few times and takes a closer look. This is his ward’s, something about this must be wrong if he’s here. And, there it is, a little crumpled up piece of paper, which he grabs and unfolds.
The only word on the paper and Zisteau’s hand clenches tightly around the paper, making the paper even more rumpled. He grumbled under his breath and tosses the paper into the nearest trashcan, and then he’s back in class, feeling rather angry, but keeping it all below the surface.
It doesn’t happen again for a while, which makes Zisteau a little worried, but his head is almost fully healed and he can play basketball again, though Vechs is hesitant to. But, when it finally does happen again he’s in a strange bathroom, very unlike the tan ones of his school. As he’d figured out, time seems to just stop for as long as he needs to fix the situation and make sure his ward was safe from any type of harm. Two bigger boys are cornering his ward, who looks scared shitless, his blue eyes big and watery. He instantly feelings the tingling increase as he realises that the two boys were gonna beat him up.
He’s furious and wants to kick their butts. But, he takes a deep breath and carefully extracts his ward from the situation, leaving him in the hallway so maybe he won’t get hurt too bad if the boys decide to chase him.
This goes on for years and years, Zisteau protects his ward, who he finds out is named Kurt Jay Mac from a very important research paper he slips into the poor guy’s backpack. He almost always ends up furious with the people in Kurt’s life, especially the ones who feel the need to beat him up and call him so many mean names. He’d noticed something about his ward every time he was lucky enough to actually see him, he seemed to be growing more and more tired each time. Heavy dark circle were constantly under his eyes and his shoulders were almost always slumped. He looked drained constantly and that worried Zisteau the most.
And, when he ends up in a small bathroom, where he sees his ward with dark circles, sagging shoulders and a shaky hand gripping a pill bottle with multiple pills in the other. He immediately reads the label on the bottle Xanax and the dosage of one pill every morning to help reduce anxiety. He could clearly see six pills in his ward’s hand, and it definitely wasn't morning. So, after taking a few seconds to let his mind wrap around the situation, he grabs the phone from the counter and types out a text to his ward’s mom and takes the pills from him, and closes the lid, sitting the bottle back on the counter. And, then he’s back to his own bedroom, the tingling in his wings letting up, or mostly at least. Most days the tingling was something that he felt constantly.
Then one day, the tingling becomes so bad, that he should've been by his ward’s side like five minutes ago. And, he doesn’t realize what's happening until he realizes his ward is right there in front of him. Everything freezes as he sees the car, and his ward walking across the street. He springs into action, his huge gold wings beating, sending him into the air and speeding towards kurt, and he grabs the lanky man, wrapping his arms tightly around hi waist and using his surprisingly strong wings to carry him to safety to the sidewalk. And then time unfreezes and he’s still got his arms around the man, gold wings fully extended, long blond hair slightly tousled, and his ward looks so startled.
“Who-who… what? Why-why do you have wings??” Kurt stumbles out, his voice deep and breaking over every other word.
Zisteau’s eyes go wide. “You can see them?” He asks quickly, taking a step back, letting his arms fall to his sides.
“Who are you?” Kurt tries again.
“I’m Zisteau.” He says gently, trying not to make his ward more scared than he already was.
“Why do you have wings? Why in the hell were you holding me??”
“I’m your guardian. It’s my job to protect you.” He says, not seeing the point in lying when Kurt can clearly see his wings and would probably be more startled if he just kinda took off. “And you were about to get hit by a car, and I didn’t have much time so i swooped in and saved you.”
Kurt looks so startled and overwhelmed. “You-you’re my guardian…. And you saved my life?”
“It’s literally in my job description.” He tried for funny, but wasn’t really all that convinced that it helped with his startled ward any.
And after long moments, Kurt finally manages to speak. “Thank you.”
Zisteau nods. “Don’t mention it.” He winks. “You might never see me again, but know that I will always have your back.” He says, and takes off, letting his big gold wings beat steadily against the wind.