The voice was far older than the speaker. In fact, the man who stood before her appeared to be in his mid-twenties, at most. But his voice, it held the weight of ages, sliding over her like a physical force of pain and rage and longing. It forced her to remember what he was. And that was a story in itself.
"So? I didn't come just to watch you daydream."
The scorn was mostly for show. But it snapped her back to the task at hand. She needed a guardian, but not just any one. Where she was going, she'd need something as potentially terrifying as that which threatened her. Which was why she needed him.
"You know I don't do protection anymore."
It was a reminder that he could read her. Not telepathy, but close enough. But it was also a reminder of what he was, the closely held anguish in that statement was enough. He'd failed once, long ago, and he'd never let himself forget, even after taking this form.
"If you're not going to speak, I'll go."
As he turned, she felt a pang of sadness for even calling him. Since he didn't need to pass as well here, he wore no shirt, and his bare back still held the scars of his self-reproach. Tattoos covered them in this human shape, but she knew that under them were the knots of the hate he'd felt when he cut off his own wings.
He stopped, not turning. The slight movement of his breathing betrayed the agony of his staying. And still, she knew he wouldn't deny her, even if he could have.
"I...I need you to come with me."
"I know. To see the Watcher, you need someone as hateful and as depraved as he is. Which is why you called me. Face it, your other guardians have grown too soft."
There was no masking the angry pride in his voice, but there was no reason to. He was right. But she could only force him so far.
"I know I can't make you go past the second gate, but will you help me?"
"If you're offering some sorry attempt at redemption, you know I don't want it."
She sighed as he stayed impassively furious where he was, the dismissing song on her lips...
"But yes, I'll come. There is no one else."
He sounded defeated, but he turned to look at her, the smoldering passion and fury behind his eyes, the remembrance of the last time he'd tried to protect instead of destroy. And perhaps, then, he was just the combination of monster and savior she needed.
"Thank you. Come, we need to go."