Even grooming his flight feathers himself made him nervous; he'd never let anyone else touch them. Not willingly, at least. As the Messenger he'd always depended on flight, on being able to get from one place to the next quickly, quietly, and possibly unseen, and though the pinions were stiff and nearly as long as his arm, they were also fragile. He saw to them when necessary, but for the most part kept them folded tightly against him when not in use.
The other feathers, the soft ones that didn't have to take the pressure of the air, he sometimes groomed obsessively. His wings were important, and it was often easier to keep them in order than to try to talk down Raphael when his brother was off on another tirade. Talking down Michael would be every bit as impossible as talking down Lucifer had once been, even if hewas the messenger and wordsmith among the archangels.
So he groomed his wings, because gently raking feathers back into their proper place required steady hands, and sometimes that was enough to still any tremor in his voice as his brothers' power beat against each other.
Now, he spread them one more time and reached back, finding the fibers of a feather with his fingers.
He couldn't do this anymore. If there was any display of power that was truly angelic, it was the beating of wings. If there was anything that could give him away now, it was the very thing he'd retreated into for millennia.
Are you ready? The voice was waspish, the part that had convinced him that he couldn't keep this up, that he had to run.
Gabriel shook his wings out and folded them behind him, feeling them melt into his bones. He'd miss some of it. The sensation of fluttering wings, the feel of the air rushing past him. But he was unlikely to miss the takeoffs, or the landings they brought him to. And he was definitely not going to miss the fuel those flights added to the family fire, or the worry the next limb a brother might grab as they pulled him in or out of danger would be his wings.
So he put the good up as well as the bad. He couldn't fly away - he'd always be an angel - so he was walking instead.
Sap, the waspish part of him accused.
Then Gabriel shook his head, and Loki stepped out into the world.