He stood by Jason's grave and gazed at the indentations in the cold marble, spelling out 'Jason Owen McConnell' in grim, slanting letters like the deep slashes of a knife. The wind was blowing fiercely, but he barely felt it, staring down at the place where the boy he loved, the only person Peter had ever loved, lay. His heart had broken apart when Jason's had stopped. The worst thing was that he was reminded of his lover all the time; in the swelling of Ivy's belly, in the shadows playing across Nadia's profile, the guilt stretched across Matt and Lucas' faces like ill-fitting masks from Greek tragedies; in the haunted eyes of the parish priest. Jason's handwriting on Jason's books, the first version of Jason's speech lying on his desk. Jason's iPod under his bed, half-out of battery and never to be played again. Peter could still remember whole days spent lying together in semi-public parks near one of their houses, sharing earphones and listening to songs that only one of them liked. Jason's phone, which must by now be claiming hundreds of missed calls from Peter, because now it's the only way he'll ever hear Jason's voice again. Flipping his phone open, he presses one and the call button, staring at the display 'Calling… Jason' it reads, followed by a smiley face, put there by a boy not yet as jaded as Peter, not as hurt, not as broken, still hopelessly in hidden love. He can't quite remember being that boy. He listens to Jason's voice, so carefree And unknowing, until he hears the faint *beep* that shatters the illusion he'd foolishly let his mind form yet again; the one that brought him that faint glimmer of hope, that feeling of being home, because home was wherever Jason happened to be. They belonged together, like they had been so often.
Peter Simmons wondered whether there was anything left worth living for.
The guardian, who he assumed to be Saint Peter (and wasn't it ridiculous, that the bare mention of the name could still make him feel safe, yet worried about people finding out. Except that God must already know, and shit, he's going to be sent to hell;) led Jason into a grand, spacious throne-room. There were three gleaming gold thrones at the far end, and there appeared to be no floor, only reflections; which like the walls showed close-ups of various events. He could see a bunch of surfers packing up their equipment on the right, a busy street in London on the left. But it's the floor that's so surprising, because he looks down and for a minute all he can see is Peter, his Peter. He's dead and about to be judged by God himself for his sins, but nevertheless he can't suppress the little shiver of longing that runs through him, or the urge to just take Peter into his arms and brush the glistening tears away, even though he knows he'll never be able to again. The floor is like a collage of Peter, Peter on his knees before the priest Jason had confessed to, Peter by a grave that could only be his, Peter and Ivy, Peter talking to Jason's parents, Peter and Nadia, and yet the sight of them didn't hurt nearly as much as Peter, Peter, Peter.
There's a tall figure standing at the base of the thrones, a man he'd overlooked in his grief. Prompted by the guardian, he moves further forwards. It's the Holy Son, the Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ, he realises as his eyes take in the brown hair and beard, the ethereal glow pretty much surrounding the man. He has kind eyes, and his face is slightly lined, but they appear to be smile lines rather than ones etched with anger or frustration. He kneels at Jesus' feet, but the man, no, the God, reaches out a hand and draws him up; the movement fluid as if in water and for a second Jason thinks of how every moment with Peter felt like this; so right, no matter how very wrong it was.
"Jason McConnell," Jesus states, a slight hint of amusement in his voice. "Welcome"
He longs to ask to share the joke, like he would with anyone else, but reminds himself that this is God, and simply bows his head and says "Lord Jesus Christ."
"Despite your suicide, which is normally counted as a mortal sin, you have been given a second chance at happiness on Earth. Your soul will rejoin with your body and you'll wake up on the morning after Ivy Robinson's birthday party. You won't remember any of this."
"So how will I know not to do it again?" Jason asked, not understanding. If time was simply turned back, wouldn't exactly the same vents unfold unknowingly once again? Wouldn't they end up in exactly the same situation?
"My mother, Mary paid a visit to your Peter in his dream last time. She has agreed to change her message. Peter will be told of everything that transpired after that night. It'll be up to him then. Consider it a test of your love for each other." Jesus explained, surprisingly not sounding disgusted in the slightest.
"You mean… you don't consider our love an abomination?" Jason asked. Was it really okay? Although he'd always believed in the church's teachings, surely God himself would know even better.
Jesus shook his head. "You've been misinterpreting that for centuries. I never came across it in my own time, so I didn't correct it, but that passage was never intended to condemn homosexuality. Lying with a man you are not attracted to is indeed an abomination, just like it would be with a woman. If you're thinking about somebody else, it's an abomination"
"I slept with Ivy.." Jason trails off, remembering how Peter had been on his mind instead; how wrong it had felt with her. He was still an abomination, no matter what Jesus said.
"But you didn't." What? He'd gotten her pregnant, how could he have not slept with her? He remembered it, remembered lying to Peter, the guilt of it all. "Or rather, you won't this time round." Jesus added, clearly having noticed his puzzlement.
"Now come on, we have somewhere far more important to be." Jesus reached out for Jason, and the world seemed to spin. And suddenly, the throne-room was no longer there and he felt as if he was falling. Falling out of heaven, like a rogue angel, like someone who didn't deserve to be there, like an abomination.
The landing was a sudden drop, and Jason almost keeled over; certain that if he still had any breath in his lungs, it would've all been knocked out of them. Looking around, he realised with a jolt that he recognised his surroundings. It was the graveyard nearest to St Cecilia's, where the ex-ex-headmaster was buried. They were standing next to an unfamiliar grave, all black marble with an ivory cross. Someone had left two small bouquets of blue forget-me-nots, his favourite flowers, in vases positioned on either side of the grave. In the faint moonlight, Jason could just about squint at the inscription. 'Jason Owen McConnell' Holy Shit! This was his grave, it was his body lying there, rotting below cold soil underneath all that fancy marble, no doubt chosen by his father's secretary. Cheers, Dad. Then again, what a disappointment his once 'perfect' son must seem to be now.
"You'll feel a bit disorientated when you wake up, they all do; but you'll just put it down to a post-party hangover." Jesus advised him.
"They all do?" Jason questioned. "Does this happen often then?" How many people died and never knew it; how many had been resurrected after God himself, unknown and in secret? How many had seen the space-time continuum they had been taught about in physics class crumble into pieces around them, something the world's greatest scientists could only dream of?
But Jesus shook his head. "Very rare. We only do it in cases when there are terrible consequences because of a specific action, in this case your suicide."
"But I'm just one person," Jason replied. He hadn't exactly done much in his life, hadn't won a Nobel Prize, or been president or anything like a Mafia leader or something.
Jesus only shook his head again, knowing what would happen. The boy's sister, already on the plump side, would eat herself into death of obesity, his son would grow up abused and neglected in turn by a man who could not forget that his wife had chosen Jason first. And Peter, who had had such a golden future.. Oh, Peter was the worst.
"Terrible things would've happened. Your Peter…" He trails off, wondering what good telling the boy this would do. After all, he'd only forget it in a few moments. "Yours would not have been the only premature death," he says finally.
The boy stares up at him, flabbergasted. He reminds Jesus of his own disciples, so shocked to see him after his resurrection. "Peter wouldn't," he finally chokes out. Peter had always been so alive, the only real thing in a world full of pretences. To think of Peter gone…
Jesus does not reply. The problem is that Peter would.
"What do I do?" Jason asks, looking at the headstone which still proclaims his own death. Jesus thinks it must be terribly unnerving for him. At least they'd only buried him in a cave, at least he'd known beforehand. This poor boy hadn't had a clue.
"Just place your hands on the headstone," he instructs , waiting as the boy obeys. Then he closes his eyes. 'Father, please. We are ready' he thinks.
The headstone began to heat up under Jason's hands but he held on and simply counted silently, ghostly lips moving in an imitation of human life. One, two, three. And on four he was no longer there.
If anyone else had been present in that graveyard, they would've seen a boy disappear in a flash of golden light, followed by an older man. They would've sworn they saw that recently dug grave of that suicide boy simply melt into the night, and fresh grass regrow where it had been. But anyone present would have had to function outside the limits of time and space, a feat possible for no mortal alive. And the angels have their own work to do.
Five weeks ago, or somehow maybe right now, Peter Simmons strode into the room he shared with his best friend and secret boyfriend, Jason. Jason, who'd just utterly ignored him at a party where he could've blamed anything that happened on the combination of drugs and cheap alcohol. That night, he barely bothered to wash and only mumbled a quick prayer before slipping off his clothes and crawling into his bed and underneath the too warm covers, not knowing that his life was about to change.
Young Peter Simmons was about to receive a visitor bearing some very unpleasant news.