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50 Shades of Bureaucracy: Endings

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[I’m home. See you soon.] Gabriel tapped into his herald-phone as he unwound the scarf from around his neck. He poked his head around to a mirror and fixed his coif just before he felt his phone buzz. Gabriel held his phone out as the Lord of Hell began to materialize from the receiver, and tilted it to pour Beelzebub’s shimmering form to stand in his living room, champagne in hand.

“Hi, Bee.” Gabriel beamed love out of every pore of his corporation as he pocketed his phone.

“Welcome home,” Beelzebub said with a faint smile. They had grown accustomed to that disgusting look of adoration, even come to expect it.

Gabriel gathered Beelzebub’s cheeks in his hands and bent to kiss them. “Missed you.”

“I wanted to catch you in Bahrain.”

“Something came up?”

“Cult leader in Kansazz.”

“Sounds important,” Gabriel offered. “Any excuse to prolong our next visit.”

Beelzebub narrowed their eyes at Gabriel. “It’zz not…”

“Only joking. You know I don’t mind.”

Beelzebub bristled to hide the wave of melancholy that threatened to ruin their mood.

“What’s the champagne for?” Gabriel asked and took the bottle from his lover.

“For you,” Beelzebub said blandly and walked toward the kitchen. “For not dizzcorporating.”

Gabriel swelled with affection and followed after Beelzebub. He caught them around the waist against the counter as they reached for some appropriate glassware and bent to kiss their neck tenderly. “I’m really growing on you, huh?”

Beelzebub’s lips twitched in a smile and they put the glasses down on the counter. They turned in Gabriel’s arms and ran their hands up his broad chest and around the back of his neck. “What good would you be to me without a body?”

“Mm. It’s just the body you like,” Gabriel said as he put down the champagne bottle in favor of holding onto more of his lover. He lifted the petite prince up onto the edge of the counter to mitigate some of their height difference. “That’s why you sent me that new tie,” he murmured against Beelzebub’s ear. “And why you text me those sweet little messages.” He kissed the demon’s throat and let his hand slip under their coat. “Asking about what audiobook I’m listening to…” He pressed another languid kiss against the neck angled to accept it. “Just to keep this body coming back.”

Beelzebub grinned and raked a hand through Gabriel’s hair. “Zzhut up,” they muttered. “‘Don’t be a fucking idiot’ isn’t a zzweet message.”

“Coming from you, it is,” Gabriel purred.

Beelzebub let themself melt into Gabriel’s embrace and pressed their face against his shirt. Even with all his traveling, Gabriel had a distinctive smell that Beelzebub longed for. A musky, masculine, vanilla smell. The angel had tried wearing cologne once and Beelzebub had railed against it so fervently that Gabriel gave up on that little experiment.

Gabriel felt Beelzebub soften in his arms, but their hands held tight to the back of his coat. The Lord of Hell had surrendered to Gabriel’s tenderness over the years, even seemed to enjoy it from time to time. But rarely were they this soft.

“Bee… you okay?”

Beelzebub stiffened and pulled back to scowl at the angel. “I’m fine. I thought you liked this zzhit.”

Gabriel smiled, but concern lingered in his eyes. “I do.” You feel fragile, he wanted to say, but knew it would ruin this soft moment of reunion. “You’re usually more reluctant. Took me by surprise.”

Beelzebub frowned. “It’zz been too long.” They felt foolish for letting themself lean into that sadness. They knew the end was coming soon, but Gabriel had no idea. Beelzebub had to keep it that way or things might come to a head too soon, before Gabriel was corrupted enough, before everything was in place.

Gabriel’s smile glowed. “I’m sorry I’ve been so busy. But you can come find me any time. I’ll always make time for you.” He wrapped Beelzebub up tightly, enveloping their whole petite frame against his chest.

Beelzebub was torn between wanting to shove Gabriel away, to say something horrible to make him recoil, ruin this moment, and wanting to curl up and hide there in his arms.

Gabriel felt so lucky things had gone the way they had. He knew without a doubt that Beelzebub loved him, even if they showed it in ways other people didn’t understand, and he was sure the demon missed him, even if they never said it.

“What do you have planned for tonight? Quiet night in?” Gabriel asked and kissed Beelzebub’s hair.

“Champagne. Sweetzz.” Beelzebub said as they pulled back and fixed Gabriel with a gaze they would not describe as fond, but Gabriel probably saw it as such.

“A lengthy night of conversation and food? How unlike you, Lord Beelzebub.”

The demon snorted and smirked. “Just gathering information for my zzide.”

“A spy ?” Gabriel gasped with mock surprise. “And what if I won’t talk?”

Beelzebub grabbed Gabriel sharply by his tie. “I have wayzz of making you talk,” they purred.

Gabriel grinned and kissed the smirk on Beelzebub’s lips. The demon tugged harder on his tie, keeping him there as they deepened the press of their mouths. Gabriel squeezed the demon’s hip and dragged their body closer to his own.

When Beelzebub finally released him, Gabriel had that sappy, dazed look of one drunk with love. “Champagne first?” he offered.

Beelzebub gathered the glasses in one hand. Gabriel retrieved the champagne and they retired to the couch. With a devilish snap, Beelzebub made a very special assortment of treats disappear from a bakery down the street and appear on the coffee table before them. Gabriel felt a twinge of distress from said bakery owner who found their meticulously prepared delivery quite suddenly gone, and he gave Beelzebub a look.

“Who do you think put in the order?” Beelzebub muttered with a smirk. “Juzzt a minor inconvenience for the delivery boy who will have nothing to deliver, and zzome hair-pulling for the baker until he receivezz hizz payment anyway.”

“You’re working in minor inconveniences these days?” Gabriel teased as he wound his hand around the cork of the champagne bottle.

“Have to make my fun zzomehow.”  Beelzebub opened the neat white pastry box to reveal a dozen black velvet cupcakes. 

Gabriel caught the peek of eager tongue over Beelzebub’s lips as they took one of the cupcakes. It pleased him to see Beelzebub in such good spirits, despite that flicker of fragility. No work to pull them away, at least for tonight. The indulgence of champagne seemed like a promise of a night just for the two of them. He popped the cork neatly and poured two glasses.

“What shall we drink to?” Gabriel asked.

“To the end of the world azz we know it,” Beelzebub offered with a grin. 

“Can’t argue with that,” Gabriel agreed. Heaven and Hell had been pulling their weight to ramp up another war, and even Gabriel could feel that it would come to a head soon. Twenty years of sharpening ethereal swords and occult spears, brewing holy wars in lieu of the Armageddon that they had been robbed of, the opposing forces were champing at the bit for the next Great War to kick off.

“To the end of the world,” the former archangel said grandly and clinked glasses with the Lord of Hell.