AN: Request was Angel and Cyclops, friendship or romance. It ended up pretty firmly friendship, mostly because I think if I were going to write slash in this universe, I'd need more time to develop it than I ended up with in this story. Post-canon.
It’s raining in the New World, but at least one of its current inhabitants doesn’t seem to mind. Wings are good for shielding oneself from rain, and Werner actually finds it a bit pleasant to be out here near the shoreline, alone with his thoughts while everyone else stays inside.
–Or perhaps not. He turns, ducking out from the shelter of his wings briefly. “Master Summerisle?”
The other young man approaches, swathed in a cloak against the rain.
“I wanted to let you know–Master Javier’s called for a gathering soon. To decide what we do next.”
“You mean whether we stay here or return to Europe,” Werner says, matter-of-factly, and Scotius nods. “What do you think his decision will be?”
Scotius shrugs. “We’re safer here, but more needed there. I think you know him well enough by now to know what he’ll decide.”
Werner ducks his head, shrugging back under his wings.
“I almost burned,” he says, voice a bit muted by the wings, but still audible. “I have no desire to put myself back in the reach of those who burned me. And the settlers here have become so used to our presence that I can fly right over the village and not fear harm.”
“You could decide to stay, even if we return.”
Werner half-turns, expecting mockery or a challenge–and finds none. At least, in what he can read of Scotius’s expression. It’s hard to be sure with no eyes to look at.
Scotius spreads his hands. “I mean it. Don’t feel as if you must stay with us whether you wish to or not.”
“You saved my life.”
“Do you think we did it so that we could control it?”
“No. But if any of you had chosen to leave Javier’s service once you were out of danger, I might have died. So if my wings could spell the difference between life and death for the next poor ‘monster’ they try to kill, and I stay here, what does that make me?”
Scotius has this way of looking at you squarely–even though you can’t see his eyes, you know they’re focused on you. He gives that look to Werner now as he says, simply, “Human.”
They look at each other for a moment, rain dripping from the edges of Werner’s wings, soaking through the hood of Scotius’s cloak. Then, there’s sudden movement and a wumph of air, and the wings are stretched out to cover them both, thought it forces them to stand closer together.
“You looked cold,” Werner says by way of explanation, and Scotius looks slightly taken aback for a moment before he relents, and nods.
“...I was. Thank you.”
Silence falls between them, not precisely awkward, but nonetheless heavy–there are still things to be said before the air is clear between them.
“I wanted to tell you–“ Scotius begins, at last. “I’ve been worried you might feel uneasy about staying with us for another reason than the one you brought up.” He pauses, more awkward now, and then finishes, “Because of what you told me. About–about your feelings for Jean.”
Werner looks at him, close and uncertain. “That thought had occurred to me, yes.”
“I’ve told no one,” Scotius goes on, surer of himself now that it’s out. “I would not tell anyone, without your consent. And if it did become known...well, if you could not find understanding for such among us, we would not have learned much from our master, would we?”
“I suppose not,” Werner says, amazed. Even among those who accepted his wings with no question, he had never thought to find understanding for this. “Thank you.”
Scotius lifts a hand, hesitates, and then lays it on Werner’s shoulder. “We both loved her. In different ways, perhaps, but we both loved her. And we both lost her. I don’t believe she would have wanted us to be enemies.”
“You knew her better,” Werner can’t keep a note of ironic humor out of his voice, “but I think you are right.”
They stand together, the silence between them now more companionable than either of them would once have believed, and wait for the rain to stop.