It had been a long time since Gabriel had followed his elder brother’s lead in falling from Heaven, but he could remember it like it was yesterday. Raphael taking the only happiness he’d felt since the First Fall, his rebellion, his wings scorched to uselessness, his horned halo shattering… Barely a day went by that he didn’t think about it.
Samael didn’t deserve to die, and he’d only died to make a point. Years had passed since Gabriel found his revenge in killing Raphael, and he still didn’t feel as though he’d found justice. Lucifer aided in his ascension to the throne of Hell, where he comfortably ruled, answering only to Lucifer himself.
He was taking a stroll through the cells of souls waiting to be tortured when he passed a faint light. A light that shouldn’t be there. The most impossible light that had ever graced Hell. Grace, in fact.
He stopped and ran back to the source. A familiar face he never thought he would see again, and some demon decided to put him behind bars. He’d have to deal with that one later.
He flicked his wrist and the cell opened. He rushed over to his brother, desperately trying to find out if he was alright.
“Sam, can you hear me?”
Samael had found himself trapped within a realm’s Hell before, but never chained in his own. Certainly, he’d been there before—on a rescue mission, yet he needed rescuing at this juncture. Demons came and tortured him, but kept their distance. He was, after all, an archangel, and they were correct to fear him. His Grace might eventually recharge if he could get away from this place.
The door of his cell opening, rusty metal scraping against bloody stone, and Samael cringed where he sat, eyes firmly closed. Had the demons returned yet again? Instead, a worried voice, smooth and familiar, met his ears. He opened his eyes to see his brother, hovering over him.
“Gabriel,” Samael breathed, his name like the sweetest prayer upon his lips. He stretched filthy hands towards him, eyes glassy and voice thick with emotion as he touched his face. Fingertips ghosted over cheekbones, thumb tracing the outline of his jaw.
“Why are you here in this awful place?” he croaked, unable to keep his voice even. “Have you come to rescue me?”
Gabriel’s hand found Samael’s, squeezing it affectionately. Filthy as it was, it really belonged to his lost brother. His eyes flicked over Samael’s face, confirming for himself that the vessel truly was Samael’s, and the grace was indeed the brother he thought he’d lost so many years ago.
He forced a smile, eyes tearing up. This wasn’t how he ever dreamt he’d see his brother again. This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen. He forced his head to nod.
“In a manner of speaking? Yes.” He knelt down a bit closer to Sam and helped him up. How could the demons throw an angel into a cell and not tell him? Those responsible would be punished severely. “C’mon. Let’s get you cleaned up."
He helped Sam into his chambers, praying to Father he wouldn’t notice how cold Gabriel was. As often as he’d dreamt of the day Samael would show up on his doorstep, this wasn’t something he wanted. He didn’t want the only brother he would die for to know how far he’d fallen.
As he leaned heavily upon Gabriel, stumbling blindly through the dark hallways of ash and stone, he only barely heard the angel speaking to him. Something about cleaning him up… Of course, Gabriel had always taken care of Samael, and his lips stretched into a warm smile, despite his haziness. Yes, he trusted Gabriel. All would be well, now.
Gabriel laid the angel down on his bad, the most comfortable surface he could get him to, and ordered a couple of demons to bring him some healing supplies. “Sam, how are you here?”
When he collided with a soft, plush bed, confusion momentarily clouded Sam’s mind. Had they already flown from Hell? He had not felt the lurching rush in his gut which signified flying, nor had his powers returned. But Gabriel remained with him, talking to others as he lay with his eyes closed (opening them made him too dizzy, and it did not seem as though they were in any further danger)… and he did feel faint and exhausted. Samael trusted Gabriel, and knew he would not let his guard down anywhere unsafe. It had been so long since he’d been able to extend that sort of absolute trust, but he did it easily.
The archangel had anticipated questions of his presence, so he forced his mind to focus from its dizzy haze. “Raphael did not kill me,” he rasped. “He used an old rite and banished me to another universe, burning through most of my Grace to eject me. Travel between universes is random and uncontrollable, and…” He blinked slowly, the room too-bright and painful. “I have spent all of my time trying to return, Gabriel… But it took a long duration for my wings to grow anew. I… feared you may be dead, all this time.”
He swallowed thickly, anguish clenching his heart, frigid and stone-heavy. “Oh Gabriel, I would have returned sooner if I could… I have thought of nothing else but returning all this time. I have been so alone… I tried everything to contact you, to send some sort of message, but nothing worked…”
Samael stretched a trembling hand to where he thought Gabriel stood, desperate to have contact with the one he loved, with the angel he’d fought so hard to return to. He would tell Gabriel he loved him when an opportunity arose. Perhaps when he’d rested a while, and when his beloved had opportunity to adjust to his return. Samael had left things unsaid before his exile, and would not leave them unsaid any longer.
For the first time since his grace had gone cold, Gabriel had to blink back tears. Samael was alive. Raphael hadn’t killed him. The thought creeped into his mind that he’d fallen for nothing. He had been so distraught over his beloved’s death that he’d taken Lucifer’s throne and waged war on his brothers. He broke his own code of honor.
He had to keep telling himself that it was not for nothing, though he wasn’t sure if he believed it anymore. He’d told so many lies, he wasn’t sure what truth was.
He knew he could easily level Sam off with his own grace, but the thought terrified him. He had become so corrupted, he feared mingling his grace with the archangel’s would corrupt him as well. He couldn’t let that happen. No matter how badly he wanted to feel Sam’s warmth, he couldn’t risk it.
He quickly got to work on the spell to revitalize Sam’s grace, forcing himself to smile. “I wouldn’t let myself die,” he said. “I had to get back at Raphael for what he did. I wasn’t going out until I’d done that.”
He let his hand hover over Sam’s forehead, hesitating for just a moment before touching him. Gabriel was cold, and he was very aware of the fact. The longer he held his hand there, the better the spell worked to heal his beloved’s grace.
“I’m so sorry, Sam,” he said. “I’m sorry for everything.”
At first, the hand upon his forehead felt soothing and cool, a pleasant counter to Samael’s fevered, sweat-slick skin. He felt his Grace begin to knit together under the power of Gabriel’s spell, and his lips drew upwards in a smile. To feel his hand upon his forehead yet again… it felt like paradise, like a sweet, clean drink of water after a long drought.
As his Grace rebounded and began to heal his injuries, he all at once became aware of the frigid chill of Gabriel’s hand. A shiver meandered down Samael’s spine, and his senses told him something felt wrong. Yes, the angel before him was, in fact, Gabriel, but he had changed in some strange way.
His eyes snapped open, taking in the vision of Gabriel hovering over him, palm still flush against Samael’s forehead. His true form became readily apparent—fallen, dark, and twisted with destruction and Hellfire.
Samael did not intend to gasp, staring up at Gabriel slack-jawed and wide-eyed. Nor did he intend to scramble from the bed to the opposite side of the room in a sudden burst of terror and confusion. Yet, he did exactly those things, his breathing ragged and painful as he looked on, trembling. He’d leapt away before Gabriel’s spell had reached its conclusion, but even with his Grace lacking, he could see so clearly what his brother had become.
This wasn’t Gabriel, the Messenger of God, the bright golden archangel he’d fallen in love with. This was Gabriel, the fallen archangel, King of Hell.
And yet, Samael knew the very feel of Gabriel’s Grace, corrupted or not, and it was so clearly his beloved angel who stood before him, twisted into a cruel and dangerous creature. Of all the possible situations he’d thought might develop in his absence, he had never anticipated this.
Any other angel, Gabriel would have killed instantly for reacting that way. He’d have taken direct insult that his efforts to help were that unwanted. He would have ripped the angel’s grace out and kept it on a shelf as a warning to the demons that dared question his place on Hell’s throne.
But this wasn’t any other angel. This was the angel the Messenger threw his horn away for. This was the angel that Gabriel would have gladly fallen long ago for. That he’d do anything for.
Perhaps that’s why this hurt so much. The absolute terror in Samael’s eyes broke the fallen angel’s heart in ways he never thought anyone could manage. It was emotions like this that he tried so hard to steel himself against. No matter how he tried, he couldn’t be the cold ruler of Hell around the archangel. With his beloved angel there, he could feel home.
Overcome, Samael fell to his knees and wept. “Gabriel,” he croaked between sobs, “what happened? You… you…” A terrifying thought occurred to him just then. “This… Is this my fault? Oh, Gabriel…”
He did not know what to expect. Would Gabriel hurt him? Would he hold him prisoner? He was at Gabriel’s complete mercy. How had his beloved changed? Would he punish Samael for his long absence? And yet as he sobbed, mourning the awful fate which had befallen his brother, he could not bring himself to flee, even as his belly roiled in fear. It was still his Gabriel, his beloved.
Gabriel just couldn’t piece together why Samael didn’t flee. He had enough energy to fly away. What was keeping him here?
“It’s not your fault,” he said. “It was Raphael’s fault. He found out that….. He banished you to get to me. He gave me no other choice!” He couldn’t bring himself to see the disappointment on his brother’s face. He stayed where he was, a safe distance away from the angel that had no idea he held his heart.
He finally looked up to catch his brother’s gaze, more the angel he used to be than he’d been since he fell.
“Please believe me,” he managed in barely more than a whisper. “This wasn’t something I ever wanted. All I ever wanted was to remain in Heaven … with you."
He slowly approached his brother, holding his hands up to show he meant no harm. “You could stay here. With me. Heaven is in shambles. Raphael saw to that before I fell. We could make a difference here.”
Slowly, Samael stood, eyes red-rimmed and breath coming in ragged heaves. Could so much change in a few short years? Heaven in ruins? The throne of Hell sat upon by a holy archangel?
His wings fluttered in panic as the other angel approached. Samael could take flight, of course, and leave Hell behind. Gabriel had not blocked his path of escape, and Samael felt himself again considering it. If Heaven truly lay in shambles, then he could go there himself and restore it. But… for whom? For what purpose? To rule Heaven himself? And Samael knew Gabriel well enough to know if he ran away now, he might never be welcome in his presence again. The idea felt unbearable.
“It is not too late,” he said. “We can both leave here, together. I can… I can restore your Grace…” But even as the words left his lips, he knew well what he saw. Gabriel had been twisted forever, his form pulsing with an irreversible darkness. And Samael did not have the strength left to heal him.
In the end, it was no question. He had run himself thin and ragged over the years, desperate to return home to Gabriel. And Samael yet loved him now, despite the terrible complications. He had done everything for Gabriel before… and would have fallen for him without question, had he asked. And now, Gabriel had asked. His beloved had asked, and Samael did not have the strength to say ‘no,’ despite everything.
Trembling in fear, he moved to stand directly before Gabriel, dropping to his knees. He took Gabriel’s immaculate hand in his filthy grasp, kissing the back of it in adulation before releasing it, bowing his head low.
“My King,” he murmured, submitting to Gabriel, his voice moist and shaking
The Fallen Archangel wasn’t sure what he was expecting. Was he expecting Samael to run away? To fight? To laugh in his face? Whatever he was expecting, it wasn’t this. He didn’t expect his brother to kneel in submission, and now that it had happened he was sure it wasn’t what he wanted.
He dropped to his knees and lifted Sam’s chin so he could gaze into the eyes that once set his heart aflame. Gazing into those eyes, he felt warmth for the first time in years. “Please don’t kneel.” He sank down until he was looking up at the angel.
“I’m not asking you to fall,” he said. “I could never forgive myself if you fell because of me. All I’m asking is that you don’t leave me. I don’t want you to do something you don’t want to do, but I don’t want you to look at me differently. I’m still me. I know I’m past salvation, but …”
The words got caught in his throat. He’d wanted to say these three words for centuries. He took a deep breath and decided this may well be the last time he ever had a chance to say it.
“I love you, Samael. I always have. Losing you made me into something I never wanted to be. At the risk of sounding every bit as needy as I feel, I think having you around might be exactly what I need."
He cupped Sam’s face in his hands, keeping his touch as gentle as possible. He couldn’t bear it if his beloved ran away from him.
"You have a choice, and I will respect any choice you make. You can return to Heaven… or stay here. I just wanted you to know how much you mean to me.”
Gabriel loved him? Truly? Samael’s eyes watered and his throat constricted as he gazed into the amber eyes he’d dreamed of for so long. Did it matter where they were together, be it Heaven or Hell? He decided it didn’t, and threw his arms around Gabriel, burying his face into the crook of the fallen archangel’s neck.
“Gabriel,” he breathed, leaning heavily upon him, “returning to you… the thought alone has kept me sane these many lonely years. I would not have had the stamina to continue on my weary journey had I not held you dear in my heart.”
He dared to place a soft, gentle kiss against the chilled skin of Gabriel’s neck, his massive, snowy wings enfolding both of them on instinct. “You are my beloved, Gabriel. I do not wish to be separated from you again. I do not entirely understand what has happened, but I shall remain by your side so long as you wish it.”
Gabriel could feel his heart soar in ways he no longer thought possible. He let his arms slide around Sam’s shoulders, catching a glimpse of the snow white wings. Tears sprang into his eyes. He wanted so to embrace Sam in his own wings, but they were so tattered and useless, he was ashamed to show them.
He nuzzled his cheek into Samael’s hair, relief setting in that he hadn’t lost the angel that held his heart in his hands. He kissed the other’s cheek, smiling the first genuine smile he’d managed in years.
A moment passed, and he took a steadying breath, allowing his eyes drift shut. “I have missed your nicknames dearly, no matter how I used to complain of them. I will always be your Sam.”
“Be my consort,” he suggested. “I couldn’t stand the thought of you getting lost in the shuffle. Sit side by side.” He pulled back enough to touch his forehead to Sam’s, golden eyes revealing no sign of manipulation. No, in that moment, he felt nothing but love for the archangel in front of him.
It was remarkable. Truly. Just when he thought there was no going back, he felt like his old self again. Maybe his hopes weren’t misplaced. He offered a smile, pushing a lock of hair out of his love’s eyes. “What do you say, Sammy? Will you be the balance I need?”