The Angel at Harvest Church

✩ Erotic M/M second-person short

✩ About trans yearning, desire and being remade

✩ Tropes/tags: sexual worship, power play, servitude, magical hormones

On a sweltering Sunday morning, an angel hollers verses from behind a sturdy pulpit your father built in 1993. His name sneaks between twelve-packs of flavored seltzer stacked on shelves at the local mini-mart, whispered like gossip in a town surrounded by swampland and built on the back of too many miracles. Dusty vans are parked along the dirt road outside Harvest Church and travelers wander inside to listen, sitting shy and quiet while you tap your foot in the middle pew. Sometimes you want to tell them to go back to where they came from. Big city reporters with gold strung ‘round their neck, helpless coupon-cutting townsfolk from the neighboring county, missionaries burrowing beneath borders to catch a glimpse of gilded wings.

But who are you to tell them to leave? You’re the one who stayed, after all.

Your mother used to call him holy man and your father called him blessed. Now your mother has lost her voice, your father won’t look you in the eye, and they’re both muttering amen with the rest of the congregation. The angel has a face made for magazines, sharply cut and old in the eyes, as if centuries have been neatly tucked under his ochre skin. You remember finding him beautiful and wondering what that made you, to want a holy man, to look upon the pastor and silently pray for forgiveness. Years have come and gone since then, but sometimes you still catch yourself praying.

“See, the Lord is here,” the angel says, gripping a well-worn bible in one hand and the pulpit in the other. He shifts his gaze to where you’re curled against the pew and does not look away. “For he serves those who serve him. Our shield, our provider.”

The owner of the local gas station pulls nails from a wooden box. Rattles pierce the air like a baby toy, like a warning, and the angel plucks a cottonmouth from the squirming mass inside. The bite-shaped scar on your thigh stings at the sight. You remember his fingertips on your leg, and the snake coiled around his wrist, and fangs deep in your skin. He’d cut your hair that day, snipped your ponytail with a pair of sheep-shears, and while the venom worked through your veins you heard him say, “Be glad, son of Adam, for you were unmade in the beginning and now you are perfect.”

Son. Adam. What strange, wonderful things to call you.

You watch an immigrant from Mexico City limp down the aisle with one foot turned backward and a loosened kneecap, catch a glimpse of rosary beads roll across the milky skin of a woman with a swollen belly, and hear tongues go wild with rapture. Snakes flash their teeth, people seize in the presence of glory, and the angel does not look away from you. People have left all they’ve known to find him, yet he has sought you.

You, the farmer’s child, exalted and exiled, a simple beekeeper, wanted by God’s most revered, most feared. The thought permeates in your groin.

The crippled immigrant rejoices on steady legs, barking “Gloria al Padre, y al Hijo, y al Espiritu Santo. Estoy curado!” You listen and you nod and you say hallelujah under your breath, wishing you could speak the language you’d been forced to forget when your grandparents traveled west, west, west. When your family pushed roots beneath a dilapidated town. When you were born in a leftover place where an ageless angel healed the sick and turned daughters into sons.

The faithful disperse, crowding in the dirt lot with their casseroles and chicken gizzards, assembling meals on paper plates in truck-beds. The skeptical chatter, meandering around Harvest Church like vultures surveying a sun-ripened carcass. You know the moment you are alone with him, seconds after your parents take their leave. Your mother slides a paper fan into her purse, your father eases the double-doors shut, and you feel their grief like an eternal bruise. The angel studies you. His eyes are molten and alive, his body a compilation of contradictions.

“Come here, Cristiano,” he says, and you go to him.

He takes your chin between his fingers and heat rushes upward, downward, everywhere. This is not the first time he’s touched you, but it’s the first time you have the courage to touch him without being told. You run your hands beneath his buttoned shirt and find the gnarled scars above his shoulder blades. What had it been like to lose them, you wonder. What do feathers smell like when they burn?

“You belong to the King on Earth, do you not?” he asks. He follows your jawline, still in the midst of remaking, and drops his palms to your waist, still curved and supple. You nod, of course you nod, because yes, of course yes.

“I do,” you say, and open your mouth. His knuckles slide over your tongue, probe your willing throat, wet your swollen lips. Faith is sacrificial, but church is worship.

Every Sunday you arrive, sit patiently, and await your time with the angel, with God’s first creation, the favorite, the fallen, who forged your inhospitable body into a livable vessel. The congregation pretends not to listen, but they hear just as well, and the miracle-chasers pretend not to be jealous, but they envy you. You, who was once draped from throat to ankle and veiled like a bride. You, who is called seduced and seductive, sacrifice and punishment. You, who has adopted a roughened voice, wide shoulders, untamed desire. You, Cristiano Castañeda, who belongs to him and you and he.

The angel kisses power into you. He tastes like ash and pomegranate, like smoke and apple tart, and you wish to know what flavor he finds in you.

“Honey,” he says, so suddenly you shiver, “you taste like pollen and nectar and Eden.”

He peels your shirt away, removes the binder constricting your ribcage, and when he hoists you onto the window nook, you see the Virgin Mary reflect in his galaxy eyes. Sunlight pours through the stained glass at your back, etched into the image of the Mother, the Child, the Wise. You are a kaleidoscope in his arms, in this church, and you can’t help the sound bubbling behind your teeth.

“I belong to you,” you say, the same way you would a nightly prayer.

He puts his mouth to your copper skin. Tugs the only dress-pants you own down your thighs and over your ankles. Birdsong flutters outside, as does hushed conversation and cautious prayer, but you are enraptured. Taken. Completely and utterly his. He buries his fingers inside you, crooks his knuckles and strokes your front wall. Hot breath coasts across your trembling mouth, and he says, “Look at how you’ve grown.” His thumb works at you — your clit, your cock, your becoming — the place where your body has entered its own version of manhood.

Being with him is like speaking in tongues. You are out of control, flooded with holy, holy, holy, eager for anything, everything he has to offer. You brace on the windowsill, pitch your hips into his hand and wait for permission to come. Each movement matches yours. When your waist jumps, he pushes deeper, and when you ease onto the sill, he massages your slick cunt. It’s when you’re gasping and shaking that he pauses, reaching inside you to stroke and knead and rub.

“Not yet,” he says.

You make a wounded sound, one he’s familiar with, and you do what all worshippers must, as all devotees do — lift your knees, spread your thighs, become an altar. He has only undressed once, the first time he took you, and you will never forget how his skin felt against yours. But today, like most days, he unbuckles his belt, opens his pants, and fills you. You cling to him. Clutch his fine-boned face and rake your fingers through his golden hair. Take comfort in his grip on the underside of your thigh and lean into his hand on your tailbone, holding you upright, keeping you close.

This is for him. You are for him.

“Child of God, who freed you?” he asks. His cock is heavy inside you, stretching you wide, stirring heat in your belly.

“You,” you say on a hitched breath. Sometimes you anticipate a forked tongue to flick between his lips, but it never does. He kisses the boyish sounds from your mouth, fucks you hard and quick, until you’re babbling pleadingly, cooing and shaking, flushed entirely and begging to come.

Finally, the angel says, “God’s image failed you, but I have made you mine, made you perfect, made you glorious. It’s true, is it not?” He thrusts into you and you feel the button on his pants push against your pelvis, his smooth skin meets your pulsing dick, his cock twitches and throbs in your depths.

“It’s true,” you whimper, grinding shamelessly against him. “I am made to be yours, my King on Earth, my Morning Star. Have mercy, please.”

Again, he kisses you, and moves his hand to your cock, working you to bliss. You clench around him, gush and flutter and squeeze him with your body, moaning pitifully against his lips. He empties himself into you on a handsome sigh — comes in thick, hot ropes and takes your jaw in his hand, fingers set hard against your cheeks. You look at him and see fire in his eyes. Brimstone. Chaos. Rebirth.

“Come to me tonight,” he says, breathlessly.

You blink through a haze of pleasure and nod. He has never asked you before, but you would never say no.

He is your maker, after all.

He kisses you one last time before dusting his hands down your body. The reverence in his stare is enough to make your knees wobble. Faith keeps you steady, though, filled with burning heat and heavenly purpose. He helps you dress, as he always does, and whispers gospel in your ear as you walk to the door.

Before you leave, he puts his lips to your throat. “You are holy, Cristiano,” he says, “Holy and mine.”

“Yes,” you say, and turn to kiss the Devil on the mouth. “I am yours.”

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