Michael isn't sure what to make of this.
One minute he's staring off into space, rotting alongside Lucifer in the Cage, and the next he is lying in what feel like harsh bristles of... Something.
His eyes remain shut, unsure of what this is. Perhaps it is an illusion, a trick by his brother, something to fool him into a sense of bliss. But, then again, this doesn't feel very blissful. Just... Better than the Cage.
He sighs internally, deciding that the only way to figure it out is to open his eyes and face it head on.
Michael's eyes open only to be shut instantly again. Why is so bright? It isn't bright in the Cage.
Maybe he's back in Heaven - has Father forgiven him? Has he returned and saved him from that torturous cell?
But, no... Heaven doesn't have this... This odd ground.
It hits him like a brick.
He's on Earth.
Trying once more, Michael - slowly, this time - opens his eyes.
The sky is a light blue, dotted by fluffy clouds. The sun shines down relentlessly, much brighter than he remembers. Maybe it is just his eyes being weak after centuries in Hell.
He sits up, using his elbows to prop himself up enough to peer around. He is lying in the middle of a forest. The trees are not quite high, but there are many, making it nearly impossible to see past. Wider bushes also help in obscuring his vision.
He could be anywhere from Europe to Asia to Canada. Nothing gives anything away.
He sighs, this time aloud, before standing up. A breeze flows through the trees, sending a shiver up his spine. Angels don't shiver, he notes, but just as quickly, shakes away that though. No, Father would never have him Fall. Especially not to a degree that ended in... No, he won't even ponder it.
He feels the cold grass - that's what it was... - in between his toes - his toes? Michael inspects himself only to find that he is completely, utterly nude.
Great, just great.
He looks at his vessels arms and legs, wondering who he was embodying, since he does not remember anyone saying 'yes' or possession. But how else would he be on Earth?
The whisper of doubt and fear comes, but Michael shrugs it away, deciding, instead, to look for landmarks. As if he would remember any, though, so maybe just a gas station would suffice.
He takes a few wobbly steps before realising something that confirmed every last ounce of fear in his body. He can't feel his wings.
No, no- He thinks, shaking his head and gasping for air. He sucks in a shaky breath at last before swallowing it and focusing, as hard as he can, to try and feel some of his Grace. But he finds nothing, his connection to the Host completely cut off.
That is when he finds that the world is far quieter than he realised. With no voices filling his head - both of his brethren and the prayers of humans - the world is simply... Silent.
A few birds and insects speak, but, try as he might, Michael finds not even a whisper of his brothers and sisters in Heaven or otherwise.
It takes him a few minutes to compose himself, but he does. Though, Michael's mind does not stop racing. I'm human. I am a full human. No Grace, no wings, no voices, no Host, nothing. He feels a twinge of pain in his heart. I'm not an angel... It hurts far more than he could have ever imagined. Most likely because of how much more violent emotions are to Mankind.
How they can handle it all, Michael will probably never know.
He always saw Mankind as a weaker species. He loved them, yes, with all of his heart - because Father ordered it, at first, but he soon found himself truly loving them - but he never understood what compelled Father to create them the way he did.
Small, naked creatures. As he is now. Emotions and thoughts and barely anything to protect themselves but their own bodies and creations.
Of course, in millennia after, they had proven themselves as creative, intelligent beings, and for that, Michael was in awe. As for everything else, he never understood.
Feelings Michael can't even begin to describe fill him, and he finds his eyes filling with tears. He hates this, he hates it so much. How? How could Father do this to him? Him? The perfect son. The loyal archangel warrior. The eldest, the strongest, the loyalest. And yet, here he stands, tears rimming his eyes because he does not understand why he feels this emotions that had never crossed past the horizon as an angel.
Finally, Michael finds himself able to move once again. He chooses a direction - forward, since it is easiest - and walks.
The rocks and pebbles hurt his feet, but he treads on nonetheless. Mankind did, why can't he?
He makes it a few yards through thick surrounding of flora and fauna.
A rather large bush stands in his way, and his pushes it to the side, only to gape in shock at what - or rather, who - he finds past it.
It took less than a second for the panic to settle in once Lucifer found his wings to be no more.
He had awaken to the Earthly surroundings no more than a minute ago, and yet the first thing he notices is the lack of feathers behind him. Fuck was his first thought. Then it was, oh no... Oh no oh no oh no. That then became the more frantic, ohno ohno ohnoohnoohnohnohnohno. And then finally, NO.
More than anything else in the world, Lucifer loved his wings. His beautiful, green-tinted wings.
He needed nothing more to show his lack of angelic power, but the empty pit in his soul, where his Grace usually resided, added heavily.
The panic from losing his wings increased tenfold when it hit him: I'm human.
Yes, he realised from the start, but the total realisation of being fully human was greater now that he could feel the cold air around him, the dew on the grass moistening his skin slightly.
Quickly, his eyes snap open and he looks around wildly, confusion and fear filling. At that moment, he then noticed his lack of clothing, but that was the least of his problems right now.
My wings... My wings, my Grace - my... my wings, no.. No, no no! Because he needs his wings he needs his Grace and he- he can't survive without them! Because, oh Father above, he can't breathe.
Great, he thinks, my first day as a human and I can't even breathe right- oh Father, no no, wait no, I need to breathe, no I- I-
He gasps in as much oxygen as he can, but ends up letting it out in broken sobs.
He is a human, a human! A naked ape with no power, no purpose, no righteousness. Nothing.
He never hated humans, he just found them repulsive. There's a difference - a slight one, yes, but one nonetheless. They are small, weak creatures. They have amazing minds, but most waste it on their petty emotions.
And to think, Father wants him to love them more than him!
No, Lucifer can't do that. He never could. He always loved his Father. He still does. And yes, he might have had been able to find a place in his heart for these mud-monkeys, but after all they have done? After all the slander they commit, the murder, and theft, and crime - all of it, in his name? And with all of their 'love for God, hate for the Devil' religion, no, no, Lucifer can no longer love Mankind.
They once were considered his Family as well. More of distant cousins, than anything, but still, Family. He accepted them, and even perfected the Earth for them.
And then, they go and soil his name in a million different ways? For what? For a son loving his Father. For Lucifer, loving God more than his creations.
How could he throw out something as precious as his love for his parent for a species of tiny, pathetic beings that barely leave a dent in the world. And, most of the time, if they do, it is a negative one!
His planet, his creation, Earth. God made him that template, created the oceans and the lands, and let him decorate them as he so wished.
Even today, Earthlings wander and venture through his world, yet with a hate for the creator in their hearts. Because of love.
Everything bad spews from love, though, doesn't it?
Humans always made such bad decisions, did such horrible things. Either in the name of God, in his name, or in the name of love.
No, there is no more room for love of Mankind in Lucifer's heart. They are both helpless, pathetic creatures and evil, disgusting beings.
Lucifer would have scoffed at the thought of him being one of them if he wasn't too busy freaking out. Hot tears stream down his cheeks as he shakes his head, unrelenting emotions that he can't understand. Can't comprehend.
Why? Why did Father have to turn him into... Into a flawed creature as such? Why did Father have to strip him of his Grace, his only lifeline left. The only reason he could ever find a sliver of happiness. His Grace, his wings, his power.
A rustle in the bushes beside him sends a wave of fear through him. His tears stop all together as his body tenses up, and his thoughts race through, Oh Father am I to die here? Am I to die a naked human, helpless in these woods? And then to, please, Father, not like this. I do not wish to die without being able a chance of redemption... Please!
His eyes screw shut tight, and he curls up into a ball. That's when he hears an all too familiar voice.
The sound of birds chirping and singing away catches Gabriel by surprise.
He expected silence after death, or maybe endless dreaming, as he had been told his entire life.
But not this.
He opens his eyes and looks around. Maybe this is a dream, he ponders, only to notice the puddle of mud his arm is in.
He quickly sits up, eyes a little wild in surprise. Is this Earth, or a dream?
His first instinct, he acts on, and slaps himself as hard as he can.
Then, he remembers that he has never once dreamt in his life, so maybe you can feel pain in a dream. He isn't sure.
Next, he tries to pray to his brothers and sisters, maybe, if he reaches someone, they can confirm his life.
He tries, first shutting his eyes and reaching out mentally.
But as he does, a dawning realisition hits him.
He can't... He can't feel the Heavenly Host.
A slow burn of fear settles under his skin, and Gabriel tries to move his wings.
The cold air on his back sends shivers up his spine, but what truly scares him, is that his wings are gone - without a trace.
In one final hurrah, Gabriel searches deep down where his Grace should be - keyword: should.
When he finds nothing - not a single ounce of it, the Trickster searches further - where he stored the Angelic Power when he was posing as Loki.
As an archangel that has never once felt life as a human, he can only assume that this is, in fact real. And that, Father actually resurrected him into existence as a mortal.
The sticky, goop of mud on his arm and the freezing wind on his bare skin confirms the fact, as he has never felt temperature as an angel, until now. Bare? Oh. Wow. Great. He looks down and groans. How hard is it for Father, the creator of the universe, to zap in some damn clothes?
Gabriel decides quickly that dwelling on his nude form and lack of Grace would get him no where but in a deeper depressed pit, so he gets to his feet and takes note of his surroundings.
That is all.
Well, give or take a few bushes and maybe a rock or two. But basically, all trees.
With a heavy sigh, Gabriel takes a few steps forward, testing his new legs, before venturing further into the woods.
Not after just a few short minutes into his trek, does he find a surprising sight.
Michael and Lucifer - sadly, both naked as well - only a few yards from where he awoken.
From the look of things, Michael was in the same situation as him, on his feet and looking between the curled up Lucifer to Gabriel.
The youngest finds his voice first, "Please, am I dreaming or what?"
Michael gulps down a heavy lump in his throat and replies, his voice raspy, "This is not a dream, brother. How you are alive... I..."
"Most likely the same reason we're all naked."
"And human." Michael adds begrudgingly. Gabriel raises an eyebrow and steps closer into the small clearing.
"Did Father do this? Are we all human?"
He looks at Michael for an answer to the first, then at Lucifer for the second.
Michael replies with, "I believe so. He raised Lucifer and me from the Cage." And Lucifer just glances up at Gabriel, but before their eyes meet, he looks away.
He got answers to both.
"Brother, I do not know what to do." Michael says, approaching Gabriel with utter confusion, "I cannot feel the Host. My wings are gone, and my Grace is no more. The world is so quiet, brother. I do not know why I am cold, nor what these horrible emotions are. Gabriel, what is this? Why are we human? Why has Father stripped us of our Graces?"
"Calm down, Mikey." Gabriel says, staring at the face of Michael's old vessel, one he does not exactly remember, but knows he has seen it before. His hair is black, and face pointed at the chin, with slightly jutted out cheekbones. Gabriel remains in the body he earned from Loki, and Lucifer looks as his frequent vessel, Nick. "Everything's gonna be fine. Let's just get some clothes, first, then we can freak out."
Michael nods, understanding these words, these orders. He understands orders, he can follow orders, he likes orders, even if they are given from his youngest brother, Gabriel.
"Hey, Luci," Gabriel kneels down and reaches out to touch him, but stops when he flinches. "Whoa, relax, bud, it's just me."
Lucifer peers up with deer-like eyes. He looks so... Different, than his usual aura of power, self-righteousness, and arrogance. Now, he appears... Helpless and afraid, words he never thought to associate with his big brother.
"Hey," He tries again, reaches out a hand in a gesture of peace and an offer to help him up, "Wanna get up?"
Lucifer stands up, but does not take his hand. Whether he does not intend to keep the peace between the brothers or if he doesn't feel he deserves it, Gabriel is not entirely sure. Though, in his current state, the Trickster is leaning more towards the latter option.
"Alright." Gabriel claps his hands together. "Let's find a road then. Clothing ahoy!"
He turns and begins wandering off, the older two following behind suit.
This is going to be interesting, Gabriel thinks.