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Wine and Snow

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Chapter 1
by Mel

give us a tantrum
and a know it all grin
just when we need one
when the evening's thin
---Sarah McLachlan

He never got tired of this.

An eternity could go by and he would be quite happy just to stand there and do this. It wasn’t because it was easy, though it was, almost insanely so. Mortals never failed to amaze him at how easily they could be tempted. It wasn’t their fault, with all the war and massacre around the place, it was delightful to plant little seeds in their minds. Heaven certainly had a strange sense of justice, but he wasn’t complaining. Just made tempting all that more fun. And most didn’t need that much work anyway.

This part of the world had been tainted sometime ago. Old brick walls of houses and shops were crumbling down around the owner’s ears, but it was too much money time and effort to see them fixed. Graffiti slashed across every available surface, colours dull from the wear of the weather. Most were tags, unidentifiable to most, but some were slogans, and most were crude. A few were stylish, the designer would make a wonderful artist one day. One of the slogans was one that had appeared in the Western world some years before. ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll’.

The letters themselves seemed to pulse if you looked at them for long enough. They burned, they tempted when he was not there. The little trick brought a smile to his lips. He had been the first demon who had thought to put his temptation into an object and that in its self ranked him rather high amongst his fellow demons.

He lounged against the wall, watching the people around him with a slow appraising eye. Some that passed him need a single thought to be tempted. Others were a little more complex and would take a conversation or two. But today, as he did many days, he was content to just watch. He had his arms crossed over his chest, black crushed velvet hugging the strong muscles and graceful planes of perfect flesh. There were thick studded bands around his wrists, the studs reflecting the poor light of the sun back at the passes by.

His pants were of the same crushed black velvet, clinging to his skin low on his hips and falling unrestrained to his ankles. If your eyes were to ride back up his body you would find a head full of thick brown curls that tempted everyone to bury their fingers into. Eyes as dark as sin were framed by thick lashes that fanned against olive skin. His lips, though free of makeup were full and almost blood red. Most knew him as Belial, but here, on this Earthly plane, he was known as Orlando.

In mortal appearance, Orlando could tempt the best. In his demon form, no one stood a chance. Occasionally a child walking past would reach out and try to catch something around his knees before they were spirited away by their parents. Children were much too innocent to be tricked by a simple illusion. And those who truly dabbled in physic powers. Sometimes a person on interesting substances would notice, but they also found their hands really interesting, so there wasn’t a great problem there. And Cats. Orlando didn’t understand that one. Were cats too high and mighty to be fooled by an illusion, or too stupid to know they were being tricked? Personally Orlando thought it was the second option, he wasn’t all that fond of cats.

He flicked the tail out of reach of the small child who was currently trying to reach for it, coiling it around his calf. The base of the blood red tail was as thick as three of his fingers and came up and out from the waist band of the crushed velvet pants. Small almost perfectly sculptured scales adorned the surface. It grew smaller towards the tip like a whip would, hanging straight almost to his ankles and a small triangle tip made up the end. It was amazing what a mortal would remember as being demonic was one of the few things the demons actually possessed. That and the horns of course.

The horns emerged from either side of his forehead, the same dark red as his lips and tail. They weren’t overly big, but they curved into wicked points that Orlando knew for a fact could slice rather deeply if allowed. Now all he needed was to strip naked, cover his body in red paint, grab a pitchfork and he’d look like some out of date Halloween costume. A mortal’s perception of a demon was so ridiculous it was laughable.

Orlando smiled down at the child by his feet. He couldn’t have been more then two, just beginning to get steady on his feet. When he smiled down at him, the child lifted small hands, letting out a small squeal of delight. And then its mother reached down, scooping him up and all but running off down the street. Well, that was a little rude. It wasn’t as if he was going to tempt a child, he did have some morals. Besides, children were far too innocent to be tempted, and his parents would probably do most of the work for him anyway, considering she was currently sleeping with her husband’s best friend. The custody battle would be interesting, seeing as her lover works for a porn studio. Orlando had to laugh, mortals were such strange creatures, all their transgressions were right there in the open for the world to see.

That’s what made tempting so simple. Most people who could be easily tempted only needed a gentle shove by his demon mind in the right direction, many were already headed that way. Some took a little digging in their head to find what they desired and all that Orli then had to do was plant the idea that it was easily attainable. Some times he would talk to them, whisper what they wanted, but mostly it was a single thought in their minds. Often it took something as simple as ‘she has nice legs, your wife really wouldn’t mind’ or ‘one blow job really doesn’t make you gay’. Simple, easy, but amazingly effective. That one thought would lead to a string of others. He loved how mortals associated sin with sex, it made his job so much more interesting.

Orlando felt him before he saw him.

His presence was almost like a silver bell echoing in his mind just because he was right there, Orlando almost couldn’t believe it when he first felt him. But there he was, his presence sending the demon reeling. Orlando hadn’t been near an Angel for a very long time, and this particular Angel he hadn’t seen since he and the others had been cast from Heaven.

He wished Dominic was right beside him at that very moment as he felt his reality crash down around him.

The cause of his aggravation was the young looking man currently leading an old woman across the road. The Good Samaritan bit wasn’t so much surprising as revolting. Ick. Orlando’s nose crinkled at the sight. His clothes were those of someone who’d been locked up in a cellar all their life, white suit with a light blue vest. Horrid really.

And yet it managed to be possibly the sexiest thing Orlando had seen in a lifetime. Almost black curls clung to his head and Orlando could see sweet cupid bow lips move as he spoke gently to the old woman. He almost seemed to glow in heavenly light, the white seemed to be etched into his very skin. The wings were almost bigger then his body, the feathers fluttering around him. Though his eyes were hidden from the Demon, Orlando knew they were the brightest, clearest of blues. So pure while almost deadly at the same time.

Michael did not just look as good as the last time Orlando had seen him, he looked better, brighter, more incredible then Orlando ever remembered. It made his horns ache to see him again. He really wished Dominic was here, if for no other reason then to tell Angel boy where to shove it.

Hold on, back up two steps. What was Michael, Angel of War, doing on Earth now? Other then walking an old woman across the street obviously. Orlando had to wrack his mind, and it took a few moments before he came up with the knowledge that Angels hadn’t meddled with mortals since the time of Christ. What were they doing here now? And why Michael? He was so.. well, uptight. And naïve. Orlando would bet that bird boy still thought that Heaven was the be all and end all of existence. It could have been, if the place wasn’t so bloody boring! Or vicious for that matter.

Michael and the woman reached the curb with no problems. Curses! And the Angel was saying goodbye while Orlando was attempting not to puke, wouldn’t do to ruin his image. The woman’s hands were shaking from arthritis that was deep in her bones as they held Michael’s. Her smile was tired, but she managed to lift her frail body up so that she could press her lips to his smooth cheek.

This did not help Orlando’s rapidly depleting good mood. There was never a time when he had not longed to do that to the very same Angel. There was nothing else he desired on Heaven and Earth. Hell was another matter, but he was asleep at the moment. Not that he’d understand that. That was Michael in a nutshell; uptight, naïve and oblivious. Well, lets not forget the whole war thing, or the flaming sword for that matter. But he didn’t seem to be acting very warrior like today, and the sword was nowhere in sight. Perhaps he was approachable.

Still, Orlando waited until the old woman was halfway down the street before he even made a move towards the Angel. Wouldn’t do to get the old bird involved, poor thing had had a hard enough life without having to get her involved in something like this. So he waited before pushing his lean body slowly from the wall, before he moved towards the Angel.

Up until this point, Orlando had thought Michael had been aware of his presence. After all, he had known the Angel was there long before he saw him. But as his took another step towards him, Michael’s shoulders stiffened. Perhaps Luci had been right after all, perhaps mortals and Demons were almost so close that it was hard to tell the difference because they were simply so subtle. Damn, now he owed the bugger fifty bucks.

The tiny Angel turned towards him, the sight of the white suit almost made him cringe a second time. He had forgotten just how short Michael was, the history books managed to omit that fact. The Angel’s head barely came up to his shoulders. He was actually contemplating calling him ‘Short stuff’ but the whole ‘lets keep this friendly’ thing as winning. Pity, he really would enjoy seeing Michael’s expression at that.

And then eyes as bright as the sky and deep as the sea looked up into his and Orlando was quite simply lost. He had never realised he could miss a pair of eyes before. That’s because, since he had been cast from heaven, he’d done his best to forget Michael, and Gabriel, and everyone else he had known. He had forgotten that Michael’s eyes may as well have been the gateway to paradise. If Michael had been able to bottle up whatever power was in his eyes, demons would no longer be needed. Nothing else tempted like wanting those on you over and over again.

”Belial,” Michael’s voice breathed like snow falling. Those bright eyes blinked owlishly at him and Orlando had to shake himself out of his daze. Well that was rather spectacular, Numbskull.

”Michael,” Orlando returned, pleased with the teasing quality in his voice. He still wished Dominic was here.

”Please, call me Elijah.”

Orlando wondered if the Angel realised how absolutely stupid that sounded. Oh well, if he wanted to be dumb, Orlando wasn’t going to stop him. ”So what brings you down this way *Elijah*?” his name was dripped in sarcasm. ”And it’s Orlando, if you wouldn’t mind. I thought you’re lot didn’t meddle here anymore.”

The Angel actually had the nerve to sniff lightly, as if being in his very presence insulted him. Orlando had to ball his fists together just to keep from striking him. They had been best friends once. He, Dominic and Michael. Had the Angel forgotten them that easily? It was something that he and Dominic never forgot.

”Well,” Elijah didn’t really have to tell him, making Orlando wonder if the Angel was about to gloat. ”Upstairs isn’t too impressed with the fact that you and your lot have made this place your personal play ground. So we’ve been sent in to clean up your mess.”

Yep, definitely gloating. Michael hadn’t changed all that much. ”That’s not quite my fault now is it? If you’d ease up on the whole war thing, they wouldn’t be so easy to taint.”

The Angel bristled slightly, he did not like being told this was his fault and it made Orlando smile. Little Bit still got riled up so easily. ”I’m only getting rid of those who are tainted easily,” Elijah said hotly.

”And I, Elijah, am only doing my job.” Looking back on it, Orlando realised the next action had not been the best one to take. He would have gotten a nicer reaction if he had walked out in front of a bus. At least that wouldn’t have hurt so much. Because even as he said those last words he opened his mind, tendrils reaching out, brushing against Elijah’s. Tempting lightly, barely even testing the waters.

And Elijah spun on him, those blue eyes sparking furiously. His right hand reached for his left hip and Orlando barely had time to resister the great sword appear in it before the left hand seem to come from no where, connecting with the bottom of his jaw.

Orlando went flying, his body sailing through the air. When he hit the brick wall, he felt the impact right through to his very soul. And this was Elijah, Michael, his Little Bit, who was now brandishing the flaming sword that was taller the he was. It was pointed menacingly towards him, both hands gripping the hilt. Orlando lifted a hand, touching it to his jaw, and then his lip. When he pulled his fingers back they were coated in dark blood. Only an Angel could do that kind of damage.

”Don’t you *ever* do that again,” Elijah hissed, the sword crackling with his anger. ”I’m not going to be tainted by the likes of you, Belial.”

Orlando didn’t even stand, his chocolate eyes looking up into Elijah’s. And for that moment, Elijah could see hurt flash through them. ”You’ve never stopped being my best friend, Michael. It’s a pity I stopped being yours. Hope heaven’s nice and lonely for you, Asmodeus misses you too.” And with that Orlando actually faded from being, leaving Elijah there, alone on the street, anger fading as the demon he had once called friend did...