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His Brother's Keeper

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“I am the fury and righteousness of our Father,” Amenadiel says, his hands clenched in fists at his sides, his wings unfurled to an impressive height for his age.  Lucifer’s wings are still growing, and he desperately hopes their span will outstrip Amenadiel’s eventually.

“Oh, shut it, Amenadiel.  Father’s not even here.”

“No,” Amenadiel says, “I am.  That’s the point.  I am our Father’s justice when he cannot be present himself.”

Lucifer decides that Amenadiel is going to hit him as hard as he can regardless, so he rolls his eyes.  “Do you hear yourself?  You’re barely five feet tall.  How much fury and justice can you truly unleash, brother?”

Amenadiel’s eyes narrow.  Just as he is about to spring forward, no doubt to strangle the life from Lucifer, Uriel peeks his head in the doorway.  “What are you two doing in Father’s study?”

“Get out!”  Amenadiel and Lucifer say in tandem.  Uriel squeaks and runs away, but not before Lucifer sees a look of genuine hurt on his face.  Uriel is annoying, but Lucifer has yelled at him twice today already, and he supposes three times is enough.  He’ll make it up to Uriel later before his little brother tattles to Mom whose fury and justice Lucifer does fear unlike this ridiculous posturing of Amenadiel’s.

Some of the anger seems to bleed out of Amenadiel.  Lucifer knows that as much as Amenadiel also finds Uriel annoying, he always regrets speaking harshly to him.  “You have no business in Father’s study, Lucifer,” Amenadiel says.  “Leave with me now, and I’ll consider the matter finished.”

Lucifer is very tempted to knock Amenadiel down and beat the smug pretention out of him; considering that his plan has almost zero chance of success, Lucifer decides to swallow his pride and take Amenadiel’s offer.  He can always exact his revenge later when Amenadiel is least expecting it. “How generous of you, brother,” Lucifer says and begins walking to the door, not breaking into a jog until he knows that Amenadiel can no longer see him.  Maybe he can catch Uriel before he finds Mom.

 

***

 

“I’m not going back to hell, Amenadiel,” Lucifer says.  “No matter how much of the fury and righteousness of our Father you manage to embody, I’m not going back.”  He resists the urge to say and you can’t make me while sticking his tongue out like they are children again.

“It’s time to end this charade, Lucifer.  You don’t belong here, and you know it.”

Lucifer feels the old rage start to bubble up in him and takes a slow sip of his drink to mask his anger.  “And where do you think I truly belong, dear brother?  In hell?  Surrounded by evil and vice and all that is unholy?  You certainly never believed I belong in the Silver City with the rest of our family.”

“Lucifer, it doesn’t matter what I think.  All that matters is what our Father thinks, and he wants you back in hell doing your job.”

“Of course it matters what you think.”  It’s always mattered what you think, Lucifer doesn’t say.  Lucifer remembers constantly pushing the envelope with Amenadiel those long years ago in the Silver City—teasing him, taunting him, doing whatever he could to provoke some sort of reaction from his brother, some indication that he is his own person and separate from the persona their Father has imposed on him.  One of Lucifer’s greatest childhood regrets is that he never could find a crack in Amenadiel’s armor, never could force his way beneath the mask that Amenadiel wears.

Amenadiel shakes his head, patience clearly wearing thin, and Lucifer knows this isn’t the day his brother will back down.

 

***

 

When Lucifer storms out of his own apartment, he doesn’t expect Amenadiel to still be there on his return, but there he is, standing on Lucifer’s balcony alone, hands white knuckled on the railing.  Lucifer almost lets the elevator close, almost rides back down to the ground floor and walks into the night again, but he doesn’t.  After all, Lucifer is the master of punishment.  He knows he deserves whatever Amenadiel wants to dish out.  Except, Amenadiel doesn’t seem to want to punish Lucifer at all.  He seems intent on punishing himself instead.

“Do you remember when we tied him to the top of the Silver City’s tallest spire?”  Amenadiel says.  His lip is split, his face covered in bruises.  He winces every time he drinks from the tall glass of whiskey Lucifer pours for him; Lucifer suspects the insides of his cheeks are shredded.

Lucifer tries to smile, but he can’t manage the expression.  He isn’t sure he’ll ever be able to truly smile again.  The visceral horror of what he’s done hasn’t faded in the least, but Lucifer feels like he’s moving through a thick fog, like he is outside his own body and watching his life happen to himself.  He supposes he’s in shock.  “I remember.  He screamed so shrilly that he shattered the crystal window of the east cathedral.”

“Why did we even tie him up there?  I can’t remember anymore.”

Lucifer shakes his head.  He doesn’t remember anymore either.  All he remembers at this point is flying with Uriel between them, his feet kicking in the air, his wings buffeting them both.  He must have done something more than his usual brand of annoying to make Amenadiel agree to Lucifer’s plan, and it surely was Lucifer’s plan.  Of that, Lucifer has no doubt even though he no longer remembers making it.  What Lucifer remembers most clearly from that day is the look on Uriel’s face right before he began to shriek and struggle against the ropes, the same look Lucifer saw on his face as Azrael’s blade sank in to the hilt—abject terror, impotent rage, bone deep betrayal, and the sadness of a little brother always left out without ever understanding why.

Amenadiel says, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

“You mean you can’t believe I killed him,” Lucifer says, and the words stick in his throat, threaten to choke him.  “Neither can I.”  He throws back the rest of his drink and blinks away tears.

“I should have been able to fix this,” Amenadiel says.  “I should have been able to stop him.  But I couldn’t, and now he’s dead, and I don’t know which of us I blame the most.  I should smite you, Lucifer.  I should unleash the wrath of our Father and wipe you from existence for what you’ve done.  But I can’t, and I’m not sure I even want to.  I don’t want to lose another brother.”  He takes a ragged breath.  “What’s happening to me?  What do I do now?”

Lucifer looks out over his city at the sea of red tail lights, the orange haze of smog in the distance, the feeble light of the waning moon. “I don’t know, brother.  I don’t know.”