He pushes, palms to slick, cool gold, shoulders weighted with a thousand judgments as the gates slowly part before him and he crosses the threshold, blade in hand, staring straight ahead in defiance and denial of the knowing gazes all around, let them test his devotion, head high and heart a wild thing in his chest he steps forward without hesitation, as if he has walked such holy ground before, without hesitation or fear or intimidation until… until… until, oh, the sea parts and he falters, forever unprepared to stand as if naked beneath that dark gaze so piercing, he falters and the blade falls from slack fingers, and as the other approaches so he follows the abandoned weapon, drops numb to his knees with mouth open but no words emerging, so focused on this impossibility, the black eyes, the willow body framed in wings so white they hurt to look upon, and all he can do is reach his hands out to this vanished vision and finally utter the barest whimper as familiar hands reach to close the distance between them, the sound a prayer pleading just one touch, begging to let them come away from this place, their fingertips are so close and if he could just feel those hands one last—

He wakes, the whimper still on his lips, and turns his head to press his cheek to the cold white marble, no fit resting place for the living nor the dead, and fingers denied always that last touch reach up to trace the carven letters, Beloved spelled in a braille he has always known and would give anything to forget.

I will break down the gates of heaven
A thousand angels stand waiting for me,
Oh, take my heart and I’ll lay down my weapons
Break my shackles to set me free…
I’ll run, I’ll run, I’ll run,
run to you.

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