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Defiled

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The sound of dropping water woke Gabriel up. 

Something was off. His head felt fuzzy, like someone went through his brain and put it back together wrong, his vision was blurred and there was something wet and sticky on his temple. As feeling returned to his body, Gabriel became aware that he was stark naked and very very cold. In fact his whole corporation wasn’t in the best shape. His numb arms were raised over his head and there was something pressing into his wrists. Uncomfortable ache spread from his shoulders. He must be in this position for some time then. He realized that he must be shackled to the ceiling. There was enough room for him to stand up but his legs were dangling awkwardly and his ankles were scraping the dirt covered floor. Casual glance at his torso revealed a large purple bruise on the left side of his ribcage. Every breath he took woke a stabbing pain as his expanding chest moved the broken ribs. Gabriel tried to stop breathing entirely - he shouldn’t need it after all - but it only made the pain worse.

He tried to stand up but that was a mistake. Thousand tiny pinpricks exploded in his ankle, the left leg gave out under his weight and the right one, senseless from misuse was unable to support all that weight alone. He collapsed again, but the shackles around his hands stopped the downward motion of the body. The chains rattled and the cold iron bit into the skin around his wrists. His already cramped shoulders screamed in protest as they took the weight of his body. It felt like someone was tearing his arms off and over the roar in his ears he heard a distant pop and his arm twisted in an unnatural angle. The agonizing pain clouded his vision and for a while Gabriel thought he might black out entirely. His mouth opened unwillingly to let out a groan. 

There were muffled steps coming his way and a figure come into his view. It was tall and thin, with long hair with hardly discernible colour - it was so matted with grime. The pungent smell that hang around the demon - for it was undoubtedly a demon - filled his nostrils and almost made Gabriel gag.

He didn’t recognize the demon but that meant nothing. Gabriel, in his position as an Archangel and the Head of Earth Operations had memorised all the higher echelons of Hell and the corporations of Hell’s operatives that popped out on Earth more than once to cause mischief, but there were ten million demons in Hell and a lot of them haven’t set foot outside the Nine Circles since they were damned. For all he knew, this one could be a local janitor.

The janitor now roughly grabbed Gabriel’s hair and yanked his head backwards to face him. He was exposed to close view of the demon’s sickly yellow eyes and rotting teeth as he grinned malevolently. The smell, too, was almost overpowering closer he got. Gabriel scrunched his nose. 

“Lookie who finally decided t’ wake up.” the janitor released his hair. “Archmoron Gabriel, what a honour! Been really lookin’ to meet ya.”

So the demon knew him. That was...worrying. Probably a bit too much optimistic idea had started to form inside Gabriel’s head that this was some kind of horrible mistake. That some overeager underling had got a jump on him and dragged him to Hell’s dungeon without even knowing how much trouble he was getting himself into. Because the Host won’t stand for it. No-one takes an Archangel, least of all Gabriel himself captive without getting the taste of divine retribution. It was unthinkable. It would mean war. Michael would descend to Hell at the head of the whole Heavenly Army and she would…..except.... 

Except Michael didn’t know where he went. 

Gabriel couldn’t fully recall what preceded to his waking up in Hell. He was on Earth and then.... he only saw chaotic flashes of memories. But before that he told Michael he was taking breather on Earth, that he needed to stretch his wings and clear his head. And it wasn’t the first time he used this excuse since the Apocalypse that didn’t happen. Lately unexplained absences had become nothing unusual for Heaven’s leader. It might be several more days before anyone will think to look for him.

Uncomfortable feeling grew at the pit of his stomach, feeling he hadn’t experienced since he was just a fledging and the Almighty caught him decidedly not attending to his duties.

Gabriel steeled himself. He was still Archangel Gabriel, one of the Almighty champion’s and he will not lose his composure in front of a lowly demon he should be able to smite with a twitch of his small finger. Or show him any hint of worry.

“You will regret this, demon.” said Gabriel and gave him his most commanding look. “Release me right now and maybe the whole Heavenly Host won’t come to crush this place into dust.”

“Whoa, whoa, can’t really do that, can I? Have orders, I have. Keep an eye on yer feathers and fetch them when ya wake up.” thoughtful look overtook janitor’s face. “Should do that now, I think.”

Once the demon turned toward the rusted and twisted door on the opposite of the filthiest room Gabriel was ever in - there was strange goo leaking down the walls! - he focused on smiting the insolent demon. Except where there was ordinarily the power equal to a blazing star there now was a tiny flame of the candle left in the wind and when he reached for it it puffed out and tiny smoke slipped through his fingers. He tried again but the result was same. The power of Heaven was denied to him. 

Gabriel had never been to Hell before. In theory he knew that every particle of dust it was composed of was anathema to everything he and his power stood for. That they would mix worse than oil and water and one would naturally extinguish the other. But he always thought his ethereal essence mightier of the two. He never realized that in Hell the occult will smother the ethereal. 

Reality of the situation struck him. He was powerless, chained and stuck only the Almighty knows how deep in Hell and something bad was probably coming through the twisted door very soon. Gabriel was generally an optimistic angel, but even he had to admit to himself that his situation was dire indeed.

“OI! He’s up.” hollered the demon into the corridor beyond. Then he turned around and winked.

Gabriel decided that he won’t meet whoever was coming hanging from the ceiling like a slaughtered animal and attempted to stand again. He twisted his one good hand - other was almost devoid of feeling - and got hold of the chains. It took several attempts and he almost cried out in pain, but by the time more demons were filling the room, he managed to stand on his one good leg, although he was shivering both from the cold and the exertion and a cold sweat was running down his body.

The demons who appeared were a parade of Who’s Who in Hell. Asmodeus, Moloch, Mephistopheles, Belpheghor, Belial...A few of them Gabriel met and smote personally. Gabriel cast about for Beelzebub but they were nowhere to be seen. Neither was Satan. 

The assembled demons scrutinized him like a bug pinned in a display case. Most of them gave him hateful sneers, some looked bored and some of them looked at him eagerly like they were just served particularly appetizing five-course meal. Gabriel suppressed a shudder as they crowded around him too close for comfort.

It was Moloch who took the word. “Gabriel, how nice of you to drop by.”

“I’d tell you how sorry I’m that I don’t feel the same but I am not.” he gave the gathered demons a grin which in Gabriel’s opinion exuded confidence and good cheer.

“You will be.” growled Belial, cracking his knuckles. 

“In your place I’d be much more polite, Wank Wings.” said Moloch waving Belial off for now. “There’s a line of demons just waiting to take a piece out of you and you don’t want to make us even more angry now, do you? You discorporated a lot of folk when we were taking you and everybody is really hot for revenge.”

So there was a fight. Obviously. That would explain the state of his physical corporation. Part of Gabriel secretly preened that he didn’t go down without a fight and apparently gave a lot of the demon rabble a fitting punishment for attacking the Archangel.

“So it’s to be a torture. Why would I expect anything else from your lot. You really delude yourselves if you think I will tell you anything. I’d rather die than betray Heaven.”

“Satan, you really are dense, aren’t you?” interrupted Asmodeus with roll of his eyes. “We don’t want anything from you. We just want to see you suffer. We were so looking towards the Armaggedon. We were supposed to finally get back on you Light Cunts for what you did to us. But thanks to you idiot, we were robbed of it. So we have to take our pleasure some other way.”

Asmodeus reached to caress his cheek almost tenderly. Gabriel jerked his head away but the hand followed and squeezed him.

“You can’t possibly hope to get away with this. How do you plan to stop the whole Heavenly Host once they come for me?” Because they will come. They must. “Satan must be out of his mind to allow you to do this.”

Half frustrated, half amused sigh escaped Asmodeus’ lips. “You still don’t understand, Gabriel. No-one is coming for you. You’ve been hanging here for over a day and no-one came looking for you. Not a whiff of white feather. Nobody up there seems to have noticed there was a occult power released on Earth.” Asmodeus grinned. “But hey, maybe they noticed and just don’t care. Maybe they are glad to be rid of you.”

Asmodeus must be saying that just to rile him up. Make him lose hope. “Do you think I am fooled so easily?”

Asmodeus gave him a sardonic smile. He thought just that. “Whatever makes you feel better. Deep down you know you will not be getting out of here. And don’t hope that our King feels any lingering brotherly love for you. Do you want to know what he told us when we dragged you here?” Asmodeus  leaned in without really waiting for a reaction and whispered, his breath hot on Gabriel’s ear: “He said and I quote: I want every denizen of Hell to be lulled to sleep by the sound of Gabriel’s wretched screams.” 

“Enough of the chit-chat. Can we get to the screaming part already?” Belial shoved Asmodeus out of the way none too gently. “I’ve been waiting for this for over six thousands years and you are wasting time by stupid games.”

Without further ado he hit Gabriel. His fist connected to the already tender spot on his ribcage and his chest erupted in pain. The air was knocked out of his lungs and his knees buckled again. He barely managed to swallow a moan that threatened to escape.

They wanted to hear him scream? Well, he won’t give them the satisfaction. His job as an angel was the thwart demons. You could say he was contractually obligated to do exact opposite to what they intended. 

Belial hit him again, this time in the chin. Gabriel’s head jerked sideways. Turn the other cheek, he thought and composed himself to glare at Belial.

“Look, he’s resisting! Isn’t that cute? I guess that calls for better equipment.” cheered Belial.

He materialised himself menacingly looking club with sharp spikes at the end. He raised his arm to swing it. Gabriel braced himself for the impact but it never came. Moloch grabbed Belial by the wrist.

“Satan, don’t you have any finesse? You don’t just jump right into the best bits. You have to build up to that. Like a theatre. You start with exposition, don’t jump right into climax.” Asmodeus snorted at Moloch’s choice of words. “There is no rush, let’s enjoy it.”

“After all, we wouldn’t want Gabriel to croak too early and miss any of the Hell’s famed delights, do we? What do you think, Gabe?” added Asmodeus, giving his hair a slight tug.

“Go fuck yourself.”

“Later.” 

Than he hit him again.

 

Chapter Text

They took turns beating him. Soon his body was covered in bruises and scratches and blood was flowing from the numerous cuts all over his body. Gabriel kept gritting his teeth to stop himself from crying out, but it was getting increasingly difficult. The longer he was silent the more savage had the demons attacks become, daring themselves to break his composure.

He hardly could preserve any shred of his dignity. His legs were kicked from under him. When he tried to stand again they lifted the chains so he was dangling in the air. Only the tips of his toes were able to touch the ground if he extended them far enough, but doing that was very low on Gabriel’s priorities.

His shoulders must have both been dislocated by now. There was numbness spreading across his arms and blood was trickling down his forearms where the restrains broke his skin and tore into his wrists. His helpless body swayed in any direction whenever they pushed or kicked him.
Gabriel tasted blood in his mouth. He bit his tongue to prevent himself from making any noises, but he wasn’t always successful quashing subdued little grunts forming at the back of his throat.

It wasn’t that Gabriel had never experienced pain. He fought and was injured in the First War and even after that he did not shy away from donning his armour and smiting any Fallen that dared to show their dirty faces on Earth to tempt Humanity. He had also got into enough scrapes on the training yards of Heaven sparring with Michael, Uriel, Sandalphon and others. Michael in particular was hard on all of the Host as she made sure that they were in top shape and ready to fight the Hordes of Hell at any given time and she was especially merciless with Gabriel when she felt he’d spent too much time behind his office desk and felt his skills were slipping. When the Armageddon approached she became twice as insistent that he sharpens his proficiency with his spear. Not that it was much use to him in the end.

The pain he was experiencing now was profoundly different. It encompassed his whole body and it pervaded deep from his abused muscles to his bones. The demons were distinctly apt at finding the spots that were already hurting and make it worse. And it kept piling up and it wouldn’t stop. Gabriel couldn’t just miracle the pain away. There was no Raphael to heal any injury, smooth away the cuts and marks and chide him for being careless. There was no Michael to lecture him on keeping situational awareness at all times. There was no Sandalphon to make him feel better afterwards. He found he missed them all terribly.

He was only surrounded by unfriendly snarling faces. Demons that threw insults at him and laughed at his flimsy attempt to keep his pride intact.

By the time the demons grew bored of just using their hands - or in some very painful cases claws - Gabriel was trembling. His skin was darkened by bruises and blood and his eyes were swollen half shut.

His tormentors had dispersed to get ominous sounding “goodies” and Gabriel was frankly grateful for the chance to loosen his jaw and just breath.

“Had enough already?” asked Mephistopheles halfway across the room. She seemed bored with the proceeding, only taking few swings at him and preferring to observe from the distance next to Belphegor. The Demon of Sloth hadn’t taken part in the torture at all. At the beginning he had conjured a dirty stuffed armchair and shouted encouragement and advice from the distance.

Gabriel struggled just not to drop his chin on his chest. “I could do this all day.”

Mephistopheles actually sighed. “Word of advice, Gabriel. Just gave them what they want.”

“Never.”

She gave him a look filled with pity. “You are just making it worse for yourself. Just scream and beg them to stop and they will get bored soon enough and stop. They always do. If you make it a challenge they will only think more horrible ways to break you.”

“Mephisto, shut up. This is too much fun to be ruined by your scruples.” said Belphegor, annoyed. There was more footsteps and he brightened. “And here comes Samyaza with a whip.”

Gabriel didn’t even have time to brace himself.

Crack. Scorching pain exploded in angry welt across his back from his shoulder to the small of his back, accompanied by the smell of burning skin. That was no ordinary whip.

His back arched. This time he screamed.

From his chair Belphegor giggled and fondled himself. “Oh, that was wretched. Do it again.”

Crack. Gabriel arched again and let out a scream.

“I wanted to do this ever since you slaughtered my children on Mount Hermon.” said Samyaza from behind him with a voice of sandpaper.

Crack.

“My beautiful children.”

Another crack. Gabriel screamed again.

In front of him Belphegor took out his cock with a satisfied mumble. Gabriel closed his eyes. He definitely didn’t want to watch the filthy demon get off on his pain and suffering. Somehow that was worse than listening to Samyaza’s increasingly more deranged muttering behind him.

There were more cracks, more hot stings on his back. Samyaza was getting worked up into proper rage. Gabriel tried to stifle his cries but pained moans still escaped his mouth. His voice was getting hoarse.

His back was in agony. He tried not to imagine the mess of torn flesh it must be now. The warm blood poured down his buttocks and legs and across his feet to congeal in the puddle on the ground.

He was starting to get light-headed. Maybe he will pass out from combination of pain and blood loss. Lord, just let him pass out

In front of him Belphegor gave out several grunts and moaned.

The rusted door screeched. Cracking stopped. Gabriel would kiss whoever entered for the short reprieve.

“You come just in time.” Belial’s voice. Gabriel didn’t notice him coming back. “It’s getting hot in here.”

“Some of us have jobs to do and have to do their bosses’ on top of that:”

“How is Beelzebub anyway?” asked Mephistopheles.

Gabriel cracked one eye. The newcomer was Dagon. She looked undisturbed like she just strolled into a corporate meeting and not a torture session.

“Cranky. Their new body keeps malfunctioning.” she gave Gabriel a dirty look. “Really pissed of at this one at discorporating them.”

Gabriel’s breath hitched. He discorporated Beelzebub? He wouldn’t do that, would he? He racked his brain for an answer but he couldn’t remember anything after leaving Heaven. But he had sudden sinking feeling about how he had got into this predicament in the first place. The betrayal stung more than any hellfire whip ever could.

“Well, you can always punish him on their behalf.” said Belial only half paying attention to Dagon, instead focusing on several blades in front of him.

Dagon approached and eyed Gabriel critically.

“My, he really is something. She must have made a real effort when she was sculpting him. No wonder Beelzebub liked to play with him.” she tugged at his cock. Gabriel hissed. Her touch was not at all gentle. “Though I can’t imagine he could get it up for them.”

Because he didn’t. His relationship with Beelzebub wasn’t about something so base. It was about mutual understanding and professional respect. Except it turned out he was wrong. He was played after all. Maybe he really was a fool.

Dagon poked at one of Gabriel’s bleeding cuts.

“Are you sorry, trumpet? Are you sorry for discorporating Beelzebub?”

“I’d gladly do it again.” he grounded out.

Dagon bared her sharp teeth. “Beelzebub said you don’t know when to shut your stupid mouth.”

She stood on her tiptoes and brought down his head in a painful steely grip. Dagon connected her lips to his. He tried to pull away but she sunk her sharp nails into the base of his skull with a warning growl. She bit down and Gabriel cried down. Dagon lapped at the fresh blood flowing from his torn lip. Gabriel spasmed to get away, the chains rattled and his legs swung but Dagon had him in a dead embrace.

Dagon abandoned his bleeding lips and focused her attention downwards, nipping at his throat. She continued to his finely chiselled chest and enclosed her mouth around his nipple. She bit down and tore at his flesh. Gabriel cried out in pain and shock. He started shaking.

Dagon straightened, her mouth still full of his blood and flesh. She mulled on it for a moment. Then she spit it out on Gabriel’s chest and stomach where it dripped down to join the puddle on the ground.

Dagon wiped her mouth with a disgusted grimace. “Horrid. Tastes like hypocrisy and holiness.” she poked at the wound she left on Gabriel, where his nipple used to be as a parting gift and turned around. “Don’t really see the appeal. Anyway, I have to go, still have a lot of paperwork to do.”

Belial took Dagon’s place. He carved horizontal line across Gabriel’s chest. Gabriel couldn’t believe that there could be so much blood in his body. Even if as an archangel he could endure much more than a mere mortal or even lesser ranked angel, he expected that by this point he should have already passed out. He wanted to pass out. He wanted not to feel pain for a while. It was getting unbearable. Wasn’t there any end to this misery? He swallowed a sob that threatened to escape.

Belial started to carve another line in the right angle to the previous. He ran his strangely curved knife across the throbbing spot where his nipple was supposed to be. Don’t think about it!, he urged his mind but it was to no avail when it reminded him of its existence with every breath he took.

Belial carved several more cuts and paused to admire his handiwork. Than he pressed the blade tip under his skin and started to peel. Gabriel trashed with a sudden wail. Belial’s hand slipped across his tense muscles, slicing deep into his flesh and scraping his ribs and the bone of his sternum.

Belial backhanded him. “Careful. This is blade forged in Hellfire, you don’t want me to plunge it into your heart.” he returned to the task at hand.

I do, thought Gabriel desperately. The pain was excruciating, the worst he yet went through. Tears filled his eyes and he no longer did anything to choke back the tears as Belial flayed his skin centimetre by centimetre. His nerve endings screamed in agony as more skin was stripped from his body, leaving him on fire.

“Stop.” he croaked.

“What was that?” asked Belial absently.

“Please, stop.”

“And why I should do that?”

“Please, I’ll do anything.”

“Anything?” Belial pretended to be deep in thought. “Alright.”

Gabriel sobbed with relief.

“Say: Michael is a giant wanker.”

“What?!”

“Repeat after me. Michael is a giant wanker.”

Gabriel’s eyes almost popped out of his sockets. He expected anything but the demon’s request still threw him out of the loop. He couldn’t insult his sister like that. Or could he? He pressed his lips together.

“Pity.” he lifted his knife again.

“Wait! WAIT! I’ll do it!.” Gabriel licked his lips. “Michael is a giant wanker.”

Michael would forgive him. Michael didn’t need to know at all.

Belial grinned nastily. “I’d like to fuck Uriel in the ass.”

Gabriel moaned pitifully. “I’d like to fuck Uriel in the ass.”

“I hate God.”

“I…” Gabriel coughed. He couldn’t force the words out of his mouth. He couldn’t utter blasphemy like this.

“Say you hate God. Say you loathe her. Curse her! Come on!”

Gabriel whimpered. He couldn’t do that. She would know. Only demons and unfaithful cursed Her. If it was some test of his faith, he will not fail it.

“Say it!”

“I can’t”

Belial scraped his nail across his uncovered tissue. “Come on, it’s a little thing. What are you afraid of? Falling? It’s a very short way down. You are already in Hell. And I will stop.”

Almighty forgive him, he couldn’t resist.

He forced his mouth to open. “I hate God. I loathe Her. I curse Her.”

Nothing happened.

“Say it again.”

“I hate God. I loathe Her. I curse Her.” there was no divine wrath, no sudden sound of thunder, no void opening beneath him to suck him in. Was God even listening at all?

“Say I am very very stupid angel.”

“I am very very stupid angel.”

“Very very stupid to believe that this will make me stop.”

Belial turned to his chest again.

Gabriel howled.

————————————————————————-

Icy water splashed across Gabriel’s face, shocking his already weakened body. He gasped and shook with tremors that weren’t caused only by the freezing cold.

It wasn’t first time he passed out and they woke him by pouring bucket of freezing water all over him. He became shivering mass of strang up meat. Water washed down his drying blood, revealing horrible wounds beneath. Gabriel preferred not to look.

He had no idea how much time had passed. He didn’t know how much time he spent unconscious, or if they woke him immediately after passing out. Gabriel, as the Archangel, could always sense time passing. Now it had taken on a new quality. He might have been down here few hours or several days. His world shrank into this room, where he still hang from the ceiling and enduring unending torture.

No-one came for him. He tried praying, but there was no reaction, no sign that anyone was listening. After a while he gave up, slumping on himself. Perhaps this was supposed to be his existence from now on. Perhaps he had damned himself the moment the lies exited his mouth and he set out on clandestine meetings with Beelzebub.

He could only be grateful that he had not Fallen completely. That he could still feel Her Grace. It gave him some measure of comfort. He couldn’t bear to become a demon and one day face Michael and the others on the battlefield.

Many demons, known and unknown had turned up to inflict their numerous torments on him, or poke on his wounds or just leer at him and throw insults at him.

Gabriel was in a curious state now. He was weary to the bones. His corporation was in so much agony he could barely feel any pain at all. Only the most intense sensation could penetrate into his consciousness.

Right now Asmodeus was slapping his ass.

“I think it’s time for the next part.” his words barely registered in Gabriel’s exhausted mind.

The nameless demon Gabriel considered a janitor approached at Asmodeus’ sign.

“Lift his legs.”

Once his legs were lifted and bent, Asmodeus parted his asscheeks. Something prodded at his hole.

Sharp awareness of what Asmodeus was about to do came to him just the moment he started pressing in. Gabriel trashed and shouted. Asmodeus slipped out again.

“What, Gabriel, don’t you like it? Why did you even make an effort if you never do it?”

Gabriel made an Effort, because it was compulsory for Earth-bound angels. More precisely Gabriel himself made it compulsory when a lack of genitals on some unfortunately discorporated field agents made humans very confused. Technically you didn’t have to maintain your Effort in Heaven but Gabriel in his role as a courier and a supervisor travelled down to Earth frequently enough that miracling it on and than away again was just a bother. Keeping it permanently and just ignoring it seemed easier. He now sincerely regretted the decision.

“I don’t think he eve’ use it, boss.” the janitor palmed Gabriel’s flaccid penis. “Maybe it doesn’t work at all.”

“Don’t worry, birdie. I’ll show you. I’ll give you ride of your life. I am considered somewhat an expert in the area.” Asmodeus whispered into his ear lewdly. “Now you hold him properly.”

This time Gabriel couldn’t move away as Asmodeus speared him. He shouted. There was a tearing pain and blood flowed out of his ass. Tears ran down his face.

“Stop!” he begged. Asmodeus ignored him, tugging his body down and seating his cock deep inside Gabriel. “Please, stop!” Snot and tears mixed on Gabriel’s face.

Asmodeus repeated the motion. It was like being impaled on a hot spike. Gabriel wept from pain and humiliation as the demon made soft grunts behind him, his hands squeezing his hips so roughly they left imprints. Begging only seemed to urge him on. He slammed into him fast and hard.

Gabriel stopped struggling, hanging limply from the chains and propped by the nameless demon. His body flopped like a rag doll. He hoped that Asmodeus will be finished soon. He prayed that he will be finished soon. Please, he begged, Lord, for whatever I made you angry, let him be done.

The seconds stretched into what seemed hours.

Finally there was a final grunt and uncomfortable wetness spread deep inside him. Asmodeus pulled out with an obscene wet sound. His come rushed out and mingled with the blood. He felt sick just thinking about it. Gabriel stomach convulsed. He felt bitter taste of acid in his throat. He felt like being sick. He swallowed thickly the raising nausea.

Asmodeus laughed and slapped his ass.

“Guess he really didn’t like that. Right. Who’s next?”

Gabriel closed his eyes and stopped feeling.
————————————————————-

Some time later Gabriel lay on his side in his own blood and the spent demon semen. His hole was on fire. He didn’t know how many demons took him. He stopped counting. His body was sore and feverish. He felt like there might be actually a big endless pit in place of his asshole.

At some point he was unchained. It would be the most opportunistic moment to attempt to defend himself, to attempt an escape. He could no longer move. He didn’t struggle as the demons took their pleasure one after another.

He wondered if he will be their fuck toy forever.

He closed his eyes and hoped to die.

Gabriel felt his hips being lifted. Hard cock entered him. Gabriel was so stretched it barely registered.

Someone lifted his shoulders so he was propped on his knees, probably to give whoever was fucking him better access.

“Trygaz.” that was Moloch’s voice. “Why don’t you make a use of his mouth and fuck it.”

Propping him was no longer nameless janitor.

“Really?” Trygaz tore at Gabriel’s hair and wrenched his head backwards in harsh angle so Gabriel could stare at his face.
“Will you be good angel and open your mouth for me?”

Gabriel opened his mouth obediently.

Trygaz stuffed his dick inside. He was not that big, but still Gabriel gagged. Demon smelled of trash and tasted of rot. Gabriel tried to keep his jaw relaxed as the demon fucked his throat.

“Seems your mouth is good for something else than spreading message of God, eh, errand boy.” panted Trygaz.

Behind him Moloch laughed and gave him particularly hard thrust. “Make you think how it was really with the virgin Mary.”

Over the cock filling his mouth, Gabriel made a protesting sound.

“Did you fuck her, Gabriel? Was she a good lay?”

“I bet Jesus wasn’t really the Son of God.” added Trygaz. “Did you fuck the girl and ran to Mummy to fix it? Or did Mummy ordered you to fuck her? Maybe she wanted to get you laid so you won’t be such a jerk.”

Spark of rage ignited inside Gabriel and grew the more demons continued to talk. It wasn’t even insults to him. It was insults to Mary. The very suggestion….

Telling Mary about about the birth of Jesus was one of Gabriel’s proudest achievements. He prepared for it meticulously and it went better than even Gabriel expected. The young girl won him over by her composure and willingness to serve the Great Plan. Afterwards he even checked from time to time on the Holy family. When Mary passed he was one of the first to welcome her to Heaven.

Honestly Gabriel preferred Mary over her Son, who was a lot of work with little pay off. Mary was one of the few human souls Gabriel still bothered to visit in Heaven. Mary was always willing to show him around her garden which was almost as beautiful as Eden and lend her ear to his troubles.

Before he could stop himself his jaw was moving. He bit down.

Several things happened at once. Trygaz let out unearthly wail and fell down on his ass. Foul tasting demonic blood filled Gabriel's mouth and burnt insides of his cheeks. Moloch laughed uproariously and came inside him.

“Fuck, Fuck, Fuck. You bastard! You bit me!”

Trygaz came back with a broken pipe. He swung towards Gabriel face. Blood and broken teeth flew in every direction. His body fell in the curve and he landed on his face. Trygaz swung again hitting his shoulder with a crack.

Then silence. Gabriel strained his ears to brace for the next impact but it never came.

“I think this is enough.” the voice was silky and melodious and eerily familiar. “Put him out of his misery.”

Then there was nothing.

Chapter Text

Let there be light!

 

Gabriel opened his eyes.

He lay on his back on an incredibly soft bed surrounded by white linen curtains. He felt weightless and content as if he had been floating on a fluffy cloud. He was completely pain-free. He lifted his head from a pillow to find that he was dressed in an airy beige robe and the skin underneath was completely unblemished.

Light footsteps and clanking of the equipment being moved and stored told Gabriel that he was not completely alone, yet he felt no impulse to move or make a sound and announce his returned consciousness.

Second more brisk footsteps joined the first ones.

“How long is he going to be out?” it was Michael.

“It should be a while yet.” answered Raphael. Neither of them made any attempt to keep their voice down. “He got pretty strong dose.”

“Good.”

“Do you have any idea what you are going to tell the rest of the host?”

“No. The Metatron said I have to figure it out myself.”

“Why did you even take him back. Everything was so much better with him gone.”

“Lucifer insisted. Turns out Gabriel isn’t fun even as a fuck toy.”

What the hell? thought Gabriel with unfamiliar lurch in his chest.

“There is no chance that he will go back to lording it all over us?”

“Please, the Host will not accept him as their leader after he mangled the Apocalypse so and then managed to get captured by a bunch of grubby demons. We’ll find him some job where he’ll be harmless. Sorting old requisition forms and such.”

“Good.” there was satisfaction in Raphael’s voice. “I never understood why the Almighty made him our leader in the first place. It was always far above his capabilities.”

Michael snorted. “Gabriel was always few feathers short of a full wingspan.”

Raphael laughed softly. “He is a bumbling idiot, you mean.”

Sudden spike of anger travelled through Gabriel. He shot up in his bed and ripped the curtains apart.

Michael and Raphael jumped guiltily.

“Gabriel, brother, you are awake!” Michael gave him a saccharine smile.

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“You were talking about me.” 

Michael put her hand on Gabriel’s shoulder, he shook her off.

“We were just discussing giving you just some easy work while you recover.”

“That’s not what you were saying.”

Michael sighed irritably. “Gabriel, you must understand that we already made new arrangements after your departure. There is no longer a position open for you in Heaven.”

“I am an Archangel.”

“I took your job as the leader of administration as I have always should have been and Aziraphale became the Head of Earth Operations.”

“What?!” Gabriel made to stand up, but the floor lurched beneath his feet. Michael voice now came  from greater distance.

“So you see, no-one needs you here. You would had done better if you stayed in Hell. Actually why don’t you return there right now?”

Floor under Gabriel vanished and suddenly he was falling….falling….

—————————————————————————————————————-

 

Gabriel woke with a start.

The first thing he noticed was that he was lying on his belly and his wings were out. There were gentle fingers running through his feathers, straightening them and carefully pulling out the loose ones. Comfortable warmth spread though Gabriel and he sighed.

“You know, you should take better care of your wings. They are a mess.”

Gabriel jumped sideways with a yelp. His wing knocked down a pitcher of water on the bedside table and it shattered on the floor. Gabriel hugged the wall at the head of the bed.

At the side of the bed sat Lucifer.

When Gabriel imagined his brother after his Fall, he saw Satan as humans portrayed him in their paintings and pictures. A great beast with great horns, forked tongue, red rotting skin and breathing fire, somrtimes even a tail

Lucifer in front of him was as beautiful as he was in Heaven.

His body was lithe and tall. Golden curls cascaded down his scalp and shoulders. His features were delicate with sharp cheekbones and rosy lips, perfect forehead and captivating green eyes with flecks of gold that sparkled mischievously like he knew something you didn’t. He was dressed in dark grey slacks and plain white shirt. Despite the setting there was still something ethereal about him.

Gabriel was terrified. Memories of previous few...hours? Days? …..rushed back to him. He was still in Hell and Lucifer might choose to look however he wanted, being in his company wasn’t good news.

Lucifer smiled. “Fear not.” his tone wasn’t mocking.

“What do you want?!”

“Oh, brother, these are your first words to me after all this time?” Lucifer sounded sad. He moved to him with outstretched arm. Gabriel pressed himself into the tapestry covering the wall.

Lucifer let his arm drop and sighed. “Did they poison you against me so much, Bluebird?”

The old nickname stang. “Don’t call me that!”

Lucifer shuffled towards him on the bed. Gabriel cringed expecting that Lucifer would hit him or spit hellfire at him. But Lucifer only took his hand into his.

“Gabriel, brother, is it so hard to believe that I am simply happy to see you and to have you here with me?”

“You had me tortured!” he cried.

“Oh, that?” Lucifer gestured towards his body and Gabriel glanced down. 

Apart for a sling that immobilized his right arm he was still naked. The wounds that his torturers wreaked on him were still there and still open, covered in caked blood and ugly scabs. But curiously they didn’t bleed and where there was a sheer agony before he now felt only a dull ache as he might feel after particularly intense workout.

“I am sorry, brother, that it was necessary. But perhaps,” Lucifer frowned, “they were a little bit too enthusiastic. I told them not to damage you too much. No matter. I will punish them later.” Lucifer smiled broadly showing his perfect white teeth. “You can help me with that.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Oh, Bluebird, don’t you see? Every Fallen has to go through terrible torment before they can join the ranks of Hell. I just wanted to make it easier for you, less painful...landing in a lake filled with sulphur, to have your flesh cooked and slide of your bones, it's not pleasant. I do not wish it for you.”

“I am not Fallen.”

“You are not Fallen yet, but it is only a question of time.”

“I am never going to Fall.” hissed Gabriel.

Lucifer leaned in and caressed his cheek. Gabriel flinched. “Is that so terrible an idea for you? You are my brother, almost equal to me in power. You could rule by my side in Hell. Just imagine us, we would be unstoppable. You could have it all. Millions of demons to do your bidding without question. They would be yours to punish, yours to destroy or yours to reward. You could have riches, all the delights you can imagine.”

“I don’t want any of that. I only want to serve the Almighty.”

Lucifer gave a frustrated huff. He took Gabriel face between his hands. “Deep down you know I am right. I have never been meant to Fall alone. All other demons, they were Cherubs and Thrones and Principalities and simple angels, they all have their choir-brothers and sisters here. I am only Archangel here.”

He kissed Gabriel on the forehead. “Please don’t fight me. I have been lonely for so long. I missed you.” he looked mournfully into Gabriel’s eye. “I love you.”

Gabriel avoided his hopeful eyes. He would not buy so easily into his lies. He wasn’t blind fool no matter how they kept reminding him. Lucifer’s sweet tongue made many angels to join his cause and fall and over the millennia he spun endless webs to capture more unwary souls. He wouldn’t become one of them.

“No matter. I knew it was too much to hope for that you will come around at once. I prepared for that. Know that I will give you anything you’ll ever ask for. I meant it. Anything.”

Gabriel shook it back. He won’t accept anything from Lucifer….Satan. Think of him as Satan, not Lucifer, he urged himself, It will be easier if you remove him from the brother you knew.

“Come on, Gabriel.”

“There’s nothing I want from you.”

Something hard came over Lucifer’s face. He smoothed it out almost immediately so that Gabriel doubted he saw it at all.

“I made this all for you. There must be something you want.”

I want to go home, thought Gabriel glumly.

“What about some clothes. I have whole wardrobe of suits made just for you.”

Gabriel tried to ignore Lucifer’s voice.

“What harm can it do. She doesn’t punish angels just for dressing themselves, does She?”

Damnation always started with one small little sin that seemed harmless.

“You can’t keep walking around naked. Just think what message it sends.”

Righteous Archangel warred with a more simple Gabriel who took pride in his appearance. At the end fact that he was rather cold won out.

“Alright.”

Lucifer gave a victorious smile.

The lavishly appointed quarters he found himself in had one large central living area with a dining table and a set of comfy couches. Several alcoves of various sizes connected to it. The bedroom was one of them. Lucifer lead him by hand to another smaller one where he showed him a wardrobe full of suits, cashmere sweaters, shined shoes and accessories, all in his sizes and the style he currently preferred, sans colour. They were all dark from pitch black to forest green.

Embarrassingly Lucifer had to help him dress. His right arm was in a large sling - he had broken his shoulder blade, Lucifer told him - and he could barely lift his other arm. His joint felt loose and filled with coarse sand. He didn’t understand why Lucifer couldn’t just miracle the clothes on him, but Gabriel assumed that it was some part of his twisted game.

Once he was clothed Lucifer clapped his hands. “Well, you look handsome devil.”

Gabriel disagreed. The suit was well enough, even if not a colour he would choose - deep midnight blue - but the rest of him looked wretched and he almost recoiled when he caught the sight of himself in the mirror. Where his face was not covered in bruises or cuts, his skin looked sallow. 

“Right. You must be famished. Let’s eat.”

Lucifer lead him back to the central area and seated him at the head of the table. While he was dressing, too many plates of food covering the whole surface appeared. Gabriel gave Lucifer a blank stare.

“I don’t consume gross matter.”

“Gabriel, this is Hell. We don’t play at asceticism here. Indulge.” he poured him a cup of dark red liquid and set it before him. “I know that other angels eat and drink. Some even enjoy it.”

Gabriel thought of Aziraphale who had gorged himself towards disobedience and treason. 

“I don’t want it.”

Lucifer took Gabriel’s hand and put the cup in it. It dropped. Lucifer inhaled sharply and miracled the mess away.

“Gabriel, you are a very bad guest now.”

He poured another cup and this time pressed it to Gabriel’s resolutely closed lips. He turned his head.

“If you dislike my hospitality so much, you can return to the torture chambers. Trust me they are not as nice or patient there as I. You should already know that.”

Gabriel’s breath hitched. The floor swayed. Something ugly and frightened roared inside him. NO! .  

Gabriel opened his mouth. He did not like the liquid Lucifer poured into his mouth. It was sour and stung on the burns left behind by Trygaz’ blood. He forced himself to swallow it all.

Then Lucifer fed him. Gabriel’s hands were next to useless, he couldn’t even lift his hands to his mouth. The gross matter was….varied. Some was sweet, some salty, but always, after he swallowed there was an unpleasant aftertaste of rot and mildew. 

The food looked delicious and appealing at the first glance but when he looked closer he saw cockroach skittering across the table and fruit-flies hiding in the fruits. Flies made Gabriel think of Beelzebub.

“Where is Beelzebub?” he blurted out before he could stop himself.

Lucifer grew tense. Gabriel thought he saw a spark of rage in his eyes.

“Why do you want to know?”

“I didn’t see them anywhere.”

“Perhaps she just doesn’t want to see you.” shrugged Lucifer.

Gabriel thought to the last time he remembered seeing them. To the afternoon they spent together. To the ghost of touch they left on his lips.

“I'd like to see them.” he said. If even to see they were alright. If even to see that what the demons said was true. He needed to know. Not knowing was killing him.

“Why do you need to see her? Is talking about paperwork really so fulfilling?”

“You said I could get anything.” 

“Gabriel, what is this really about?”

“I...I care about them.”

Lucifer burst out laughing.

“Oh, Gabriel, my poor foolish brother. Didn’t you realize what really was going on? Whatever you two share, whatever you think she feels towards you, she did it on my orders. I told her to seduce you so you lowered your guard and we could bring you here.”

“That’s not true.” his voice sounded hollow to him. He couldn’t be the truth. Lucifer was lying. That was what he did. Because if it was true…. No, it wasn’t true. It didn’t bear thinking about.

"Please, stop kidding yourself. How long do you know Beelzebub? All this centuries meeting over paperwork, and you think that suddenly she developed interest in you?"

I did.

"She is a demon. She cares about nothing but herself and the reward I promised her for delivering you to me. You'll do better to forget her. You don't need her."

“Now enough about Beelzebub, when there is good food to be enjoyed.”

He brought another mouthful to his lips.

“I think I had enough.” he said after few bites. If he had any appetite before - he hadn’t - he certainly had none now.

“You barely tasted anything. We can’t get this food go to waste now, can we? There are people going hungry.” Lucifer’s voice had a hard edge to it. “Try these prawns.”

Obediently Gabriel consumed all Lucifer gave him, until he felt it all could just come up again.

“Please, I can’t eat anymore. I am full.”

“I guess you are not used to it.” Lucifer relented. “Why don’t you take a nap. You look tired. And I have some work to attend to.”

Lucifer lead him to a couch covered with fur. He helped him to lie on his side, telling him he will be back before he will miss.

Gabriel laid on the couch for a few minutes after Lucifer left. Then he got up. First he tried the door. It wouldn’t budge. 

Gabriel slowly shuffled around the room on the unsteady feet. It was luxuriously decorated, way too luxuriously for his tastes. The carved furniture was always accented by too much gold, there were thick carpets covering the floor and exquisitely spun tapestries hung from the walls. They depicted various scenes of torture. Gabriel studiously avoided looking at them. There was no other exit and trying to break down the door seemed foolish. Without his power he probably wouldn’t get very far.

Eventually he laid down back on the bed. He knew he should prepare a plan of action or at least fortify his mind against upcoming temptations but he was both physically and mentally exhausted. What harm could closing his eyes for a few moments could do?

————————————————————————————————————————-

Gabriel flew through the air, his powerful wings beating with the wind. Battlefield stretched beneath him. The Heavenly Host was winning, pushing the rebelling angels towards precipice that had opened beneath them.

Gabriel landed with a force that made the ground tremble. He strolled through the battle cutting down any rebels that got into his path. Closeby Michael’s final strike shattered Lucifer’s golden shield. She shouted in victory. The slashes of her sword drove Lucifer back, he barely managed to defend himself from her relentless attack with a broken shaft of the spear. Finally Lucifer was at the edge of the gaping void. He cast about desperately. His eyes connected with Gabriel.

“Help me, brother. Don’t let them do it!”

Michael slashed Lucifer at the neck and jaw with one powerful stroke of her broadsword. Lucifer fell slowly backwards until he disappeared over the edge.

Suddenly, battlefield grew quiet. All demons were gone, only angels with shining armour remained.

Spear poked him at the side.

“It seems we forgot one.” said Uriel.

“What are you saying?”

“You are right, Uriel. His soul is black as the other Fallen.”

“That’s not true. I am the archangel Gabriel. I am Her servant.”

Other angels surrounded him.

“You claim to serve Her, but you only serve yourself. You would lead whole of Heaven astray if we let you lead.” said Phanuel.

“We should get rid of him before he brings Her wrath on us all.”

Insistent hands tugged at him. Gabriel tried to slap them away but there were too many. The Metatron descended from the Heavens.

“The Almighty has spoken.” boomed his voice. “For his sins the Archangel Gabriel is to Fall and be thrown into the Abyss.”

Gabriel screamed. Clawing hands stripped him of his armour. They lifted him above their heads. Then he flew through the air. And then he was falling.

.

.

.

.

.

.

“Gabriel.”

.

.

“Gabriel, wake up.”

 

“GABRIEL!”

 

Gabriel opened his eyes. Lucifer was shaking him.

“That must be hell of a dream.”

Gabriel blinked owlishly.

“Anyway, I brought you what you asked for.”

“What?”

Lucifer pointed towards the door and the small, black clad figure.

It was Beelzebub.

Chapter Text

Beelzebub fully entered the room. Gabriel straightened himself on the couch, his eyes not leaving Beelzebub. They looked unhurt, but who knew what was hidden under their clothes. Their face bore the typical bored expression and Gabriel couldn’t read anything from their posture. Were they tense? And if they were was it because of Gabriel or because of Lucifer? If Gabriel learnt something from the long years working with them and especially in the last few months, it was that he was very bad at interpreting their moods and thoughts. It was different in reverse - Gabriel always felt that Beelzebub could easily read him like an open book, feeling that always left him slightly discomforted. On one hand he was secretly glad that Beelzebub paid enough attention to him to know his tells, on the other hand he felt like a failure to Heaven. Almighty only knew how much information he gave away just by the flicker of his eyes.

Lucifer sat down next to Gabriel, their shoulders almost touching. Gabriel tried to shuffle to the side, but Lucifer followed. Beelzebub slowly sat on a straight-backed armchair opposite them. The room filled with a strained silence.

Gabriel, who previously wanted to see Beelzebub so desperately found he didn’t know how to start. Most of all he wished that Lucifer wasn’t there. Knowing that he was listening and probably laughing at him tied Gabriel’s tongue. He wished that he would leave. But even Gabriel knew better than to order the King of Hell  around in his own kingdom.

Beelzebub gave him impatient look that clearly spelled Well?! Get on with it!

“Are you alright?” he blurted out. Inwardly he cringed. While this was what he wanted to know, he hoped to express himself more eloquently.

“Why do you want to know, Archangel?” Gabriel felt as if he was slapped. It had been years, decades even, since Beelzebub called him by his rank in Heaven and in such hostile tone too. They were on a first name basis even before the Armageddon.

“Well, I heard….you were discorporated.”

“You dizzcorporated me.” snorted Beelzebub. Gabriel closed his eyes. So it was true. When he was strung up and the demons tortured him he hoped that he heard wrong or that it was just a little performance for his benefit, to make him lose hope.

“Did you lead them to me?” he asked. His voice sounded hollow as if it wasn’t coming out of his mouth at all. 

“What do you think?”

I think that everyone is playing with me. 

“I want to hear it from you.” 

“Yezz, I lead them to you. I am a reazzon you were captured.” their tone was disinterested as if they were talking about the weather. Like they didn’t care at all that Gabriel’s world was shattering around him, that his reality shifted.

“Why?!” he whined. Was this because you hate me? Or because you don’t care at all?

Next to him Lucifer laughed. He put his hand around Gabriel in a brotherly hug. “Gabriel, brother, I know that even you aren’t that stupid. She did it all because I ordered her to. It is by my design that you are here.”

Gabriel looked at Beelzebub intently. “Is that true?”

They looked him straight in the eye. “Yezz. It’zz true. Lucifer ordered me to get clozze to you. So you lower your guard.”

“But you didn’t…” Gabriel cleared his throat. He found that there in unpleasant lump at the back of it. “You didn’t have to go to park with me. You didn’t have to go the the theatre. What about that bird?”

Beelzebub rolled their eyes. “I had to make it believable, hadn’t I. Zzo you thought you could trust me. Firzzt zzo you let thingzz zzlip about Heaven, but then Lucifer come up with a plan to make you Fall.” they looked at Lucifer with disgust they didn’t managed entirely to hide. “I am glad that’zz over and you are Lucifer’zz to take care of. I had to go on datezz with you. It was horrible. And zzo boring. Did you know that Gabriel lovezz the ZZound of Muzzic?” they adressed Lucifer. “It almost made me vomit.”

But you didn’t have to take hold of my hand part-way through. And the botanical garden was your idea.

Am I so easily fooled as that? At the part of his mind that Gabriel rarely accessed, he knew he wasn’t sharpest tool in the chest, that he wasn’t very good at subtlety and long deep thinking wasn’t exactly his forte. In this part of his mind Gabriel kept every moment an annoyance showed on Michael’s face every time he was slow to grasp any concept she considered simple. Next to it were moments when Sandalphon jumped in with advice a little too quickly before Gabriel even had time to think about the matter at hand. Every time subordinates rolled their eyes and then adjusted their orders to fit themselves. Here in Hell this part of his mind was being slowly pried open. 

Gabriel found out that he was no longer breathing.

“Gabriel, you didn’t really think that a demon would care for you or even love you, did you? She is a demon, after all.” Lucifer rubbed his shoulders soothingly.

Gabriel didn’t stop looking at Beelzebub, looking for any hint that they might be lying, that they might be forced to say all this to him, but they only gave him challenging look. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to cry like a little bird that fell out of his nest? whispered an ugly little voice in his mind.

“I think you have to be much clearer than that.” drawled Lucifer in an entertained tone. He looked a snap of his finger from conjuring a bowl of popcorn. “You know Gabriel is a few feathers short of a full wingspan. You have to be direct with him.”

“Fine!” snapped Beelzebub. “Gabriel. I don’t love you. I don’t even care about you.”

Anger roared inside him. Anger of the person who suddenly realized they were made a fool, that they were teribly misused. He found out he could no longer look at Beelzebub, at their sneer radiating contempt. He stand up so quickly that his unhealed wounds stang in protest. His hands were shaking.

“Are you going to punish her, Gabriel?” Lucifer’s voice was amused. “You can punish her. In fact I think you should.”

Beelzebub kept staring at him, daring him, like they didn’t believe he was capable. He wanted nothing else than to hit them. He even started to raise his hand. But something stopped him.

It was ridiculous. He was an angel. He was made to think nothing of hitting demons. It was just a side effect of smiting.

But you shouldn’t take pleasure in it. Do not strike out in anger. Phanuel used to lecture in one of his boring meditation exercises, which Gabriel hated because he spend enough time unmoving and still behind his desk, thank you very much. We smite only because it’s our duty as a protectors of the Creation. Gabriel hadn’t always been faithful to that.

He dropped his hand. Beelzebub snorted dismissively. He found he hated them.

“I hate you.”

Behind him Lucifer laughed. Gabriel stopped listening. He stormed off, afraid that he might do something terrible after all. He blindly stumbled through the room, he couldn’t see through the tears that welled up in his eyes. His feet carried him to the bedroom. He felt like he might just curl up and die. And why not just do that? He collapsed onto the covers.

It turned out he had no friend in Hell. It turned out that he had no friend anywhere. Had he even got any friends in Heaven? Other Archangels were his siblings. They had to be nice to him. Everyone else was made to follow his orders. Gabriel tried so hard to be likeable, always trying to appear interested in what others were doing and to show them his support. And where did it lead ?

He didn’t know one could be the Archangel of Heaven and yet feel so unloved.

He burrowed his head into the pillow.

He didn’t know how much time had passed. So many thoughts swirled in his head that not one particular was able to come to surface. He felt like he was carried into several directions and nowhere at once and there was growing hardness in his chest. Eventually, blissfully he dozed off. His mind was plagued by vague images and inhabited by shapeless figures that never came to focus. When he woke up he was even more tired than before.

Lucifer was sitting at the foot of the bed, watching him intently.

“Gabriel. How do you feel?”

Gabriel licked his dry lips. “Wretched.”

“That’s common in Hell. You’ll get use to it.”

Gabriel didn’t want to get used to anything. He demonstratively turned to show Lucifer his back, but that only made his brother come closer and touch him with one cold hand. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone?

“You can’t ignore me forever.”

“I can and I will.” Gabriel knew that he sounded like a sulky fledging who could barely unfurl his wings. He found that he didn’t care.

“You will have to face the facts eventually.”

He breathed in. He breathed out.

“I won’t.”

Lucifer grabbed his shoulders and forcefully turned him to face him. A spark of hellfire hovered in the corner of his eyes.

“So your crush doesn’t love you back. Boo. Worse things had happened.”

You never gave away your heart.

“I know that you aren’t very good at thinking so I tell you the truth. No-one loves you. Once you’ll accept you’ll be liberated. You won’t have to care about anybody. No-one will be able to hurt you again. You’ll be unbeatable, like me. And we will be able to be together.” Lucifer bumped his knows. “But I am prepared to love you. You just need to stop stubborn.”

Maybe Beelzebub didn't love him. But he loved them. His love was real and that was worth something. It was better then never loving at all for all the misery it brought him. Gabriel felt sorry for Lucifer, that he felt the need to utter such words. Gabriel still could love. He just gave it to the wrong being. From now on he will love only the Almighty as he should. It will keep him closer to her.

“I don’t need you to love me.”

“Because you are so loved, eh? Tell me are you sure they love you? Does Mummy love you? Does Michael love you.”

“They do.”

“Did they ever tell. Or did you just assume?

Come now, who even likes you in Heaven? Michael? Michael doesn’t love anything but her Creator and her sword. Uriel? Who really know what is going in her head. She doesn’t care about anybody. That sidekick of yours? Sandalphon? He clearly hangs around you so he gets something out of it. He is an altarlicker. Only an idiot like you wouldn’t see it." 

“Your underlings? They think you are stupid. They laugh about you behind your back. It was like this even before my Fall.

We used to laugh at you with Mike and Uri. Poor foolish Gabriel. So eager to please. He would do anything to get a pat on the head from mummy. Well guess what?! You are just a toy to her and she discarded you long ago. That’s because She has a new favourite now. That principality….Aziraphale, was it?”

Gabriel kept shaking his head, tears in his eyes. “Lies, lies. That’s what you do. That’s what you’ve always done.” 

“Oh, bluebird.” there was pity in Lucifer’s voice. “When have I ever lied. I only ever said that She will abandon us for her pet Humans. And that’s exactly what happened. When was exactly the last time She talked to you. Her personally, not the Metatron. If she ever loved you, she stopped long time ago.”

Gabriel stubbornly shook his head again. He didn't want to listen to Lucifer's words because they made too much sense.

“Tell me something, Gabriel, then. She is omnipresent and omniscient. She knows everything. She must know you are here. What doesn’t she tell the Metatron or Michael herself you are in Hell. That Lucifer is doing very nasty things to you.” he grinned lewdly.

“She must have her reasons.” said Gabriel but his voice lacked his usual confidence.

“You poor deluded fool. Open your eyes already.”

Except Gabriel lied. He had pretty good idea by now why he was left in Hell. This was his punishment. His love was supposed to belong only to the Almighty herself and those creatures she deemed worthy. Yet he had consorted with demon and this was Almighty showing him the consequences. He couldn’t even delude himself that he was tricked or in any way confused. He knew what he was doing. He bestowed his love on one the unworthiest of the God’s creatures. Worse yet, just a few month ago he tried to burn a fellow angel for the same crime and failed.

He was arrogant, that was it. He thought himself mighty Archangel Gabriel, the one who knew God’s will. Untouchable. God was only showing him the error of his ways. He deserved everything he got. He could only be grateful that he had not Fallen, that the God’s grace still remained with him. That brought him some measure of comfort.

Lucifer reached to wipe the tears that gathered at the edges of his eyes.

“Shhh, bluebird, I am going to make it all better. I was like you once. After the Fall I felt so betrayed and angry. For a long time I hoped that one of you will come to your senses and will come to me, but it never happened. I know what is to be abandoned by all. But you have me to help you through it. You just have to let me.” Lucifer kissed both his eyes.

“Let me comfort you.” He kissed the tip of his nose.

“Let me love you.”

Lucifer connected his lips to Gabriel’s. He forced his tongue into his mouth. It took Gabriel a moment to realize what was happening. His jerked head but he only achieved in his and Lucifer’s teeth to painfully crash together.

“What are you doing?!”

“I am going to show you, Gabriel. I am going to show you how I can love you.”

Lucifer snapped his fingers and both their clothing was gone. He stroked his chest not seeming to care that half of his skin was flayed. Gabriel shuddered. He wasn’t sure he liked the sensation even if there was not exactly a pain. He liked even less the idea of laying with his own brother.

He tried to kick Lucifer off but he found his body sapped of energy and his limbs heavy woth unknown weight.

“We are brothers!” he protested desperately. 

“Please, that’s just a word. It’s not as if had come out of the same womb. We were all created at Her whim, the Archangel to the lowest grigori.”

But they were created from the same divine matter.

When the Almighty was creating Angels, she made them in bunches, choir by choir and made the angels of the same choir siblings. She started with Archangels, crafting them all individually and granting them special abilities and a purpose. She made Michael first and Gabriel last and as such they existed for some time until She started on the next choir. Even after the War and the Fall, Gabriel never stopped thinking of Lucifer as his brother.

“Please, don’t.”

“Hush, Gabriel. I am going to make it good for you.”

Lucifer pressed tiny kisses to his neck while his hand travelled south, enclosing around his limp cock. Remembering the last time he was touched down there, Gabriel whimpered softly. 

“Are you still tender down there? Don’t worry, I don’t touch your ass until you are ready for me. There are other ways.”

Gabriel looked down and saw that Lucifer gave himself delicate hairless pink cunt and now was rubbing himself against his flappy penis. He gave an unhappy growl and took his cock into his long-fingered hand.

“Come on, Gabriel, don’t tell me you’ve never done this before.”

Gabriel shook his head mutely. Lucifer grinned.

“You mean Beelzebub never gave you any. That she strung you along without any reward. I guess I’ll have to show you the ropes then.”

He gave his cock several light strokes and lowered his head to place a gentle kiss on his tip. He started to lick his length and to Gabriel’s chagrin it started to harden.

“Well, someone wasn’t thrifty with his Effort.” grinned Lucifer.

Gabriel tried begging for the last time. Couldn’t he see that this was wrong and depraved even for Satan?  Siblings were forbidden sexual relations.

“Lucifer, don’t do this please.”

Lucifer squeezed his cock with much more force than was necessary. “Gabriel, I think you should be silent already.” he hissed. “I am tired of your constant whining. You are going to lie back and enjoy this.”

He lifted himself on his legs and hovered over him momentarily before slowly sinkig down on him. Gabriel threw his head back and closed his eyes. Lucifer yanked at his hair and forced his head back. His eyes opened against his will, pried open by invisible force.

“You are going to watch this.”

So Gabriel watched as his cock disappeared over and over into the Lucifer’s sinful cunt. Worse still his traitorous body responded to his ministration, sending waves of pleasure to his core. He wouldn’t last long like this and Gabriel was glad for that.

Afterwards Lucifer laid his head on Gabriel’s mangled chest his softening cock still inside him while his brother hummed contendly. Gabriel stared at the ceiling. Fly buzzed trapped inside one of the lights. He felt at the absolute low. He was trapped in Hell, hsi body still bore the marks of torture and he just fucked his brother and enjoyed it.

He didn’t stir even when Lucifer got up with  a huff to speak with someone at the door and left.

A fly landed on his face. He swatted it away. It returned. He swatted at it again. It landed at his  nose this time. Another one landed on his chin. Third one buzzed annoyingly around his eyes. Hi swatted again. More flies appeared. Gabriel gave a frustrated huff and lifted his head. More flies buzzed around the room. Now they had his attention they formed into a column and headed away from him. Puzzled by the strange sight, Gabriel followed. Countless little flies swarmed to the table. When Gabriel approached they formed into words.

 

 

REMEMBER HE LIES

 

.

Chapter Text

It was already several days since Gabriel had become an unwilling denizen of Hell. Days stretched infinitely before him. Lucifer controlled everything in his domain and time in Hell passed as quickly or as slowly as he willed it. 

The message from Beelzebub should bring him hope. But instead he was left only in turmoil. He was mostly confused and distrustful. What if the message wasn’t from the Beelzebub at all? Lucifer could have just created it for his amusement, to watch Gabriel to slowly gain hope and then laugh at him for his stupidity and naivety. Or it could be from Beelzebub but they could be doing it on Lucifer’s orders again, to further torment him, or just to mess with his mind for their own twisted entertainment.

Third option was that the message came truly from Beelzebub, that they were somehow forced by Lucifer to say what they said. Somewhat that was even worse. It meant that they were both trapped. No second message appeared after the first one and after each day passed, Gabriel started to doubt it would. Unless Beelzebub played a long game, Gabriel had to assume that they were unwilling or unable to help him. There was also added danger that Lucifer could find out - nothing was out of his reach in Hell after all. For all Gabriel knew Beelzebub might be tortured right this moment. Except Lucifer would brag about that, wouldn’t he? Except that would mean admitting that Beelzebub lied in the first place and that would make Gabriel feel less unloved.

Sometimes Gabriel doubted that there was a message at all. Maybe his muddled mind just imagined it as an escape fantasy. Maybe he was starting to lose it.

At this point in his ruminations Gabriel usually huffed in frustration. All that just made his head hurt.

The constant anxiety made him so mentally and physically exhausted that he actually needed naps now. Gabriel had never indulged but angels who did told him over his scoffing that they woke wonderfully refreshed and especially if they had to solve some dilemma they could look at it with bright new eyes after a nice rest. Gabriel only woke more tired and with ache in his heart. It might have been the dreams that made the experience of sleep unpleasant. They always featured rejection and loneliness. The worst dream were the ones where he woke up rescued in Heaven, only to be forced out by his siblings or somehow punished. Perhaps it was influence of Hell that made everything wretched. 

His waking hours were no better. He was restless and bored when left alone, his disquieting thoughts his only company. He found he even started reading one of the few books, placed in the room probably more as a decoration than to be taken seriously, to distract himself. He expected it to be a torture manual or some human drivel but he was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the book. Until he got to the end when he discovered the last thirty pages had been torn out.

The chambers he was staying in were always cold and no matter how many blankets he covered himself in he could never truly get warm. The whole room was coated in illusion as well. The bed looked comfy and soft, but the sheet were scratchy after you settled down properly. Beautifully carved furniture turned out to be riddled with woodworm under its polish. Food had almost always a bitter unpleasant aftertaste. Peering behind the tapestries revealed wet moulded stone walls.

Lucifer himself was an illusion.

He insisted they lay together almost every time he came for a visit. They had sex in various positions and genital configurations. Gabriel usually laid back and thought of...well, he tried to think of nothing at all. He hated the way his body responded to Lucifer. He soon learnt not to struggle against his advances. During sex Lucifer always placed Gabriel’s hands on his hips or shoulder or forced his fingers to touch his cunt or penis, depending on the Effort he currently chose to use. Yet he saw that Lucifer was getting frustrated with his lack of responsiveness and his behaviour grew more erratic longer he waited for the return of his affection and declarations of love. Gabriel knew that soon he will have to take more active part in the proceedings lest he risk Lucifer’s wrath. He was disgusted how gentle and caring Lucifer tried to act, especially as he could see the nasty temper lurking beneath, which frankly terrified him. There was always a hint of hellfire in his eyes.

When Gabriel was reluctant to comply with his politely phrased requests the pain suddenly shot in in his unhealed wounds. That confirmed Gabriel’s theory that Lucifer controlled the state of his body somehow.

Several time already his temper had roared its ugly head. For example when Lucifer stabbed his hand with a fork after he refused to eat a special dinner Lucifer arranged for him. Or when he hit Gabriel so hard he landed on his injured arm when he refused to unfurl his wings.

He always excused his behaviour by stress. “Ruling Hell is not easy, Bluebird.” he’d say. “And your stubbornness doesn’t make it easy.” Gabriel refused to apologize. He didn’t hit himself.

Sometimes for a very brief moment Gabriel wondered if he shouldn’t provoke Lucifer into indescribable rage so he will end him and with it his misery. He always squashed this thought quickly.

Seeing his wings frequently seemed to become an obsession for Lucifer as he searched for any sign that his brother was close to Falling and he fumed everytime he couldn’t find a single black feather on his plumage. Gabriel tried his best to keep his wings hidden in immaterial plane, he didn’t want the most sensitive part of his being exposed to anyone, especially Lucifer, but his brother had an unnatural ability to force them out anyway. His feathers remained defiantly white with a hint of blue and purple if viewed against the light. Gabriel was silently elated by that. He still belonged to Her. She didn’t abandon him even though he had been a bad servant to her and abject failure in discharging his archangelic duties, even though more time he spent in Hell, more tainted he became by the sin he let Lucifer compel him to do. He repeated this mantra whenever his mood got particularly low. 

Every time Lucifer brought up plans to make him Fall, Gabriel made vague noises humouring him. He hoped that the Almighty will forgive him for not fighting harder but everytime Gabriel showed resistance Lucifer threatened him with return to the torture chamber or did something awful. The thought alone frightened him.

In truth Gabriel found it easier to uphold Lucifer’s prior belief that he was stupid, playing even more dumb when Lucifer gleefully discussed his plans for him. If Gabriel pretended that he didn’t understand he got away with more than if Lucifer thought he was resisting. Lucifer’s mocking voice when he explained things to him as if to a child was more preferable to any violence.

 

-----------

 

Presently Lucifer stalked into the room with a barely concealed anticipation. He was holding a parcel wrapped in oil stained brown paper. Gabriel got up slowly - he did everything slowly these days, his muscles sluggish - from where he was lying on the bed with his knees drawn up to his chest and slowly approached.

Lucifer handed him a parcel with a little ceremony. Gabriel stared at it dumly. 

“Well? Open it!” 

Lucifer looked at him expectantly. With Lucifer’s help, as his own hands were still clumsy, Gabriel untied the cord, torn into the paper and opened the parcel. Inside was an old tape with barely readable cover, but he still recognized it as the recording of the Sound of Music. He looked up at Lucifer with puzzled eyes.

Lucifer grinned. “I thought we could spent nice quiet evening together. And we always do things I want. So I decided to take one for the team. Beelzebub mentioned you like this one.”

Gabriel didn’t want to watch the Sound of Music with Lucifer. Admittedly it was his favourite movie, actually the only movie he has ever seen. But it belonged to the better times. For a group bonding spent with his other siblings. Hell shouldn’t intrude on the good memories he ha dof this. And Lucifer seemed way too enthusiastic with this, it made Gabriel apprehensive. What was he planning? As he dragged him towards the  couch he idly wondered what he expected in return. Although....he could easily imagine. Gabriel steeled himself.

Gabriel couldn’t pay attention to the movie at all and it wasn’t because the screen of the incredibly old television kept flickering or that the sound was slightly off-sync. It was Lucifer’s hand around his shoulders and the way he snuggled Gabriel against his chest. It was the way Lucifer kept fidgeting. It was apparent he was bored and will soon tire of the pretense of quietly watching the movie entirely.

While Maria and Captain von Trapp danced together on the screen, Lucifer’s hand settled on Gabriel’s crotch and started to fondle him. Gabriel sighed and leaned his head on the back of the couch. Tension left his body now that he knew that what he was expecting to occur all along was finally happening. Lucifer took it only as an encouragement.

He slowly unfastened Gabriel’s pants, freeing his growing erection. He gave him few light strokes and kissed the nape of his neck with his soft mouth, humming contentedly. He worked systematically, rubbing the tip of Gabriel’s cock with his thumb, smearing the drops of precum and them pumping his length in quick firm strokes which were guaranteed to bring him to completion quickly. A reluctant moan forced itself from Gabriel’s throat. Lucifer shifted him so he lay between his legs his back leaning against his lithe chest. His own hardness pressed against Gabriel backside. His freed hand gripped his balls. Gabriel knew he won’t last long like this. 

Lucifer nipped at his ear. Gabriel felt tightness in his balls and few moments later he was coming in hot spurts all over his stomach and pants. Lucifer waited for Gabriel’s breathing to steady before whispering into his ear. “I do love you, Bluebird. I want you to know that.” there was a note of impatience in his voice.

He thrust his clothed erection against Gabriel’s ass. Gabriel knew what he wanted, what he wanted all along. 

Gabriel licked his lips, thinking. Better do it before Lucifer decides it for him. Maybe Lucifer will be satisfied for a while and will become less insistent Gabriel participate in this intimacy if he finally succeeds in corrupting him. And anyway, Lucifer will fuck him whether he wants it or not. Maybe if he returns the favour and gets him off, it will be enough.

Slowly, he extracted himself from Lucifer’s embrace and turned around to rest on his hands and knees to face him, his softening cock hanging from his pants. He eyed his bulge nervously. Deciding to do something was different from actually doing it. He looked up to Lucifer’s eyes. There was hunger inside them that made Gabriel shiver. The devil raised one eyebrow expectantly. Gabriel swallowed and slowly unzipped his fly. He pulled his cock. Triumph shone in Lucifer’s eyes.

Gabriel had never touched Lucifer on his own free will. He was thin, but long, already leaking precum, and hot and soft under the touch. He gave him few tentative strokes the same way he had done. He looked up to Lucifer who returned his stare with bored expression. He nodded towards his crotch.

“Don’t you dare to bite me.”

He understood what he wanted. Gabriel took a deep breath and lowered his head. He gave the tip hesitant lick. He found it was not any worse than any other gross matter he was made to consume. He carefully took the head into his mouth. Lucifer gave a low growl.

“Suck on it.” Gabriel obediently sucked. Lucifer sighed and put his hand in Gabriel’s hair. Gabriel sucked, taking more of the devil’s cock into his mouth until he was at his limit. He tried to raise his head again but Lucifer’s hand kept him in place. He shifted his hips and forced him down until he hit the back of his throat. Gabriel gagged and tried to go up again but Lucifer made a warning noise and pulled at his hair. Then he thrust upwards. Tears of pain and humiliation gathered inside Gabriel’s eyes. 

This is what he gets when he thinks he has something figured out. He should probably stop thinking at all.

He tried not to move while Lucifer fucked his mouth raw to the background of Julie Anderson’s lovely voice. Finally, what seemed like hours he climaxed in his mouth. His semen tasted like ashes. Gabriel forced himself to swallow but bits of the come still escaped his mouth and dripped down by his chin. Lucifer gently wiped it off, smiling happily.

He took Gabriel into his arms. He signed. He was in one of his cuddling moods. Gabriel forced his body to relax. After few minutes Gabriel almost thought that Lucifer was starting to drift off, which was ridiculous because Lucifer never fell asleep in Gabriel’s presence. But he opened his eyes suddenly and caressed his jaw.

“Show me your wings.”

“No.” Gabriel was abruptly overcome by cold dread. When submitting to Lucifer he only thought how to prevent in taking him forcibly anyway. He didn’t stop to consider what consequences could willing participation in the act have.

Lucifer frowned. He placed his hand on his back and pulled. Gabriel’s wings erupted in the mass of white feathers. 

Lucifer snarled in rage. He clawed at his coverts painfully. Gabriel whined. “Don’t….it hurts.”

Lucifer stilled. “Right. Right.” he patted Gabriel’s shoulders soothingly. “It seems She is being possessive bitch. But don’t worry, Bluebird. I will figure it out. I will find a way to make you Fall.”

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Gabriel was dreaming again.

He was flying through Heaven. Heaven as it was before the War, filled with twice as many angels then nowadays.

He was looking for two of his oldest siblings, Michael and Lucifer. Finally he reached the highest spire of the Silver city. Michael and Lucifer were standing on top. They were talking about him.

“Gabriel is restless again.”

Michael snorted. “When is he not?”

“You should let him out, he needs to stretch his wings.”

 “What he needs is to learn some discipline. Honestly he is nightmare to teach. Slow and stupid.”

“You shouldn’t talk about our brother like that.” chided Lucifer.

“Please, I’d question our Mother why She saddled us with such an useless lump of a sibling.”

Gabriel gasped in shock and pain. He admired Michael and to hear her talk like this about him hurt.

Two older archangels turned around.

“Eavesdropping now too?” Michael sneered. “Well, it’s about time you faced the truth, Bluebird.”

Gabriel felt he was very close to figuring something out, but before he could….

-----------------------------------------------

 

Door banged. Gabriel jumped from the couch where he had fallen asleep. Lucifer almost ran into the room followed by two other demons who between them lead a small figure.

One of the demons was Trygaz, the one he had bitten. He now gave him hateful sneer behind Lucifer’s back. Other demon smelled strongly of fecal matter. If Gabriel remembered correctly it was Duke Hastur, the demon who took some active part in the preparation of the Armageddon that didn’t happen. Gabriel thought that he glimpsed his face during the torture session, but the faces blurred by that time. The figure between them was frail old man who hunched on himself. He was almost hairless, and his features were sunken and skin shrivelled. Unlike the demons and the angel present he didn’t give out any occult or divine aura. Mortal then.

“I figured it out.” announced Lucifer.

“What?”

 “So far you only did small sins and to be honest, you were rather passive about it. Not your fault, it’s hard to overcome thousand years of brainwashing. But to become a demon, you have to do as demons do. And what do demons do?”

“Torture these worthless worms.” answered Duke Hastur nastily. He kicked the mortal in the leg. The man fell on his knees.

“I don’t understand.” Gabriel looked at the mortal uneasily. The old man hung his head low staring intently on the ground.

“Oh, he is Urban something or other. Or Innocent. Clement? That doesn’t matter. He is one of them medieval popes. He bribed his way to gain that papal slippers of his. Or murdered someone. Or maybe caused some holy war? Frankly I get them confused. We have plenty of them here.” he patted mortal on the head. He shrank from the devil’s touch. “Boy, this is Archangel Gabriel.”

The mortal’s head snapped to stare at Gabriel. His eyes shone with hope. Gabriel found himself taking a step back. 

“But don’t get your hopes up, mortal.” cackled Hastur. “He isn’t here to rescue you and take you to the Kingdom Hereafter. He’s in enough trouble for himself already.”

“See, I think to Fall you have to do something truly Unangelic, that even She can’t tolerate. And what’s better than to torture one of these creatures she loves more than us. Even if this one damned himself. Angels do not torture mortals, even the sinful ones.”

Gabriel swallowed. Lucifer shoved a strange whip which separated into several cords with sharp ragged spikes at the end into his good left hand. It shook uncontrollably and Gabriel clutched the whip violently to calm himself.

The mortal man kneeled before him without prompting, his back bent and exposed.

“Well?” asked  Lucifer.

“I don’t know…”

“Please, Holy One, do as he says.” whispered the mortal “I am but a sinner. I deserve to be. I failed the God Almighty. And this isn’t even the worst I experienced here.”

“Don’t you know how to do it. Don’t worry I will show you.” Lucifer took Gabriel’s shaking hand. “You just have to raise it like this and than bring it down. Put your strength into it. That’s what you are, are you not? Her strength?”

Gabriel felt anything but strong.

“Gabriel, look at this pathetic mortal. He misused Her name for his own gain. He took Her Word and made his his own. Doesn’t it make you angry. Don’t you want to punish him?”

“He is right, Holy One. I was an unworthy servant of Our Father in Heaven. I did all of that. I thought I knew His will, but it was only my will. I lead so many people astray with my arrogance. I deserve the punishment.” mumbled the man.

Gabriel found himself dropping his hand to his side.

What the man described was him. Wasn’t he the arrogant one? Didn’t he act in exactly this way? He also acted on his own desires claiming it was the will of the Almighty. He was the one who was the unworthy servant. And he almost damned his brothers and sisters in Heaven to his folly. He deserved to join the mortal soul on the ground, not to hit him.

What was Lucifer playing at? Was it some way he wanted Gabriel to methaphorically punish himself? Did he chose this particular mortal because of his resemblance to Gabriel?

“I can’t do it.” he choked.

“What do you mean you can’t do it?!” hissed Lucifer.

“I won’t do it.” corrected Gabriel, his voice more confident.

“Gabriel, don’t you want to join me here in Hell? You said you wanted to rule here with me in Hell. That you wanted to be with me.”

 I never said such thing, you just made yourself hear that.

“I just didn’t want you to torture me again.”

Lucifer slapped him. “Hit him!”

On the ground the pope kept begging him. “Please, Holy one, do it. Don’t risk yourself on my behalf. I deserve this.”

“See, he even wants it. Hit him.”

Gabriel dropped the whip. “No.”

Lucifer backhanded him with such a force that he landed on his face with a crunch of his nose. Pain in his wounds, to this moment suppressed by devil’s magic, blossomed all over as he was no longer interested in keeping it back. Lucifer kicked him in stomach. He rolled on his back.

Out of corner of his he saw Lucifer lifting his whip. He barely had time to lift his hand to protect his eyes before the whip landed on his face. Then there was a weight across his chest. What…? Was the mortal trying to shield him? He was kicked off. Lucifer whipped him brutally, screaming all the time about treachery and betrayal. Gabriel laid back and let the lashes come. 

Finally devil’s rage was spent. He threw the whip away in disgust. He paced the room agitatedly.

“I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t want to do it, Gabriel.” he kept repeating feverishly. “I wanted to spare you that. But you leave me no choice.” he turned to Hastur. “Fetch me the hellfire.”

Hastur grinned malevolently.

“Finally.”

 

---------

 

They spread Gabriel on the floor. Trygaz held his arms (“And don’t put your dick in his mouth this time, for my sake.”) while another unseen demon sat on his legs. Satan, for he was Satan now, made his wings come out. Gabriel trashed helplessly but Satan immobilized him with a flick of his finger.

Visage of his former brother was truly terrible to behold. Gone was Lucifer of an ethereal beauty. It was shredded the moment Gabriel had rejected him. Now his skin was melting, his eyes were blood red and he in fact had several horns on his head. 

Hastur came back with the hellfire.

“Do you know what happened to me when I Fell?” he asked above him

“Well?” Satan pulled on his wing with such a force his radius bone snapped. Gabriel screamed.

“You burnt.” he grunted.

“Yes, I burnt. I was falling from the sky. My wings were in flames behind me. Can you imagine it? My beautiful wings, they transformed into flaming torch. The flame was so scorching hot it liquified my bones. And then I landed in the pit of lava where the every. last. shred. divinity. was. burnt. off.”

“But I don’t have to tell you about it. In the moment you will know.”

He poured Hellfire on his wings. Unspeakable agony engulfed his wings and spread in waves to the rest of him, to his very core, to his very soul.There was snapping of the bones, sizzling of the burning feathers and a smell of burning flesh. There was beastly wailing. It was Gabriel’s own voice. He couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t even think. His mind shattered into thousand pieces. He was no longer the Archangel Gabriel, he was just this strange thing trashing and screeching on the ground as his wings dissolved around him in roasted flesh and charred bones and his blood evaporated like steam.

Then mercy came unto him and he passed out.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

First he smelled lavender and the sea.

He followed the scent to the waking word. He was lying on his stomach, hot and dizzy. His body was on fire, with the worst pain centering on his back. He peeled his sluggish eyes open to see the section of the wall covered with bookcases filled with leather bound books. He couldn’t really move, his muscles screamed with every twitch he made and he was wrapped in what seemed a dozen blankets. He lay there for several moments.

He heard a birdsong in the distance. He didn’t know there were songbirds in Hell.

“Ddn’tknowderweres’ngbirdinHell.” he mumbled.

There was rustle of paper just outside the field of his vision.

“You aren’t in Hell, Gabriel.”

Gabriel’s heart jumped. He knew that voice…!

He turned his head much to quickly. His body screamed in pain.

The traitor Aziraphale sat in the armchair by the side of the bed.

“No, no, no.” groaned Gabriel.

Aziraphale slowly got up. His voice was reassuring. “You are safe, Gabriel. You aren’t in Hell. You are on Earth in fact. England to be precise.”

Gabriel shook his head ignoring the pain it shot into him. “I am not. Tis a dream. Not real. Michael never called me Bluebird, you know?”

“Gabriel, are you delirious again?” the not-traitor touched his forehead. Gabriel jerked. Not-Aziraphale withdrew his hand apologetically.

“Gabriel, who do you think I am?”

“Satan.”

Not-Aziraphale sighed with an expression of a man who went through this many times before.

“Gabriel, I assure that I am who I am. I am Aziraphale. You are no longer in Hell. You are safe. No-one is going to hurt you here.”

Nothing made sense to Gabriel. Why, how…? Why would he wake up in the bedroom of the traitor who had no reason to help him? It must be some crazy dream. Another game of Lucifer, to make him lose his mind for good this time. His head throbbed. He closed his eyes.

“Gabriel, are you asleep again?” whispered Aziraphale after few moments of silence.  

Gabriel opened his again. Aziraphale was leaning towards him, his eyes full of pity and concern.

“If it is truth, how did I get here?”

Aziraphale smiled softly. “That’s a long story. But I guess we have time."

 

Chapter Text

With a scratch of a pen, Beelzebub and Gabriel’s biweekly meetings in a perfectly average hotel in a perfectly average town in a perfectly average country came to the end. Beelzebub stretched with satisfaction of the work well done. They managed to convince Gabriel to make some concession that he hadn’t in the previous treaty. They expected nice - and probably only fictional - bonus back in Hell. The desk between them and the Archangel was covered with stacks of papers.

Gabriel put his pen to the pocket of his suit and stared at them awkwardly. “I guess it’s back to the bicentennial meetings now.” 

Most of the rare treaties between Heaven and Hell, concerning mainly their activities on Earth, had a definite expiration date and that date was the Armageddon. Now that thing had failed to happen with a great deal of embarrassment for both sides, these treaties had to be renegotiated. That lead to Beelzebub and Gabriel spending several weeks hammering the detail. They would meet, agree on the content, present what they agreed on to their respective sides’ managements and return to make amendments. Ad nauseam. 

Initially  Beelzebub was apprehensive about working with the Archangel. Gabriel had a reputation as a bumbling fool with a little tolerance for demons and the few scarce encounters they had over the previous millenia did nothing to discourage this impression. But they were pleasantly surprised to discover that the two of them actually found a comfortable working rhythm pretty quickly and even complimented each other. Beelzebub had the imagination, Gabriel the diligence to go through the fine details while they lounged on the chair watching him work with creased brows. What Gabriel lacked in intelligence, he filled with sheer dedication and stubbornness. 

As two bureaucrats responsible for running a lot of administrative sides of Hell and Heaven, they actually turned out to have a lot in common. Subordinates that never did what you told them, never filled they paperwork on time and if they did it was filled with mistakes, were universal, is seemed, as well as co-workers who shifted their duties to you adding to your already heavy workload, and superior who were always unavailable when you needed them the most. Beelzebub spent the most cathartic evening just bitching about their woes with Gabriel. It was freeing to tell someone who understood yet wasn’t directly involved in your office drama.

Beelzebub was startled one day to realize that they will miss seeing Gabriel once they will go back to briefly meeting once or twice a century to affirm the status quo and exchange paperwork.

Now they were reluctantly gathering their own part of paperwork to themselves. “Zee you in one hundred yearz then.” they said.

“Right.”

“Right:”

None of them moved. 

“We could…” Gabriel stopped and licked his lips nervously. 

“We could what?”

“We could meet more frequently than that.”

“And do what?”

Gabriel gifted them with a  wide dazzling smile that showed too much of his perfect straight teeth. “ I have been thinking and I came to the conclusion that both Heaven and Hell would benefit from more open and clearer lines of communication and not,” Gabriel frowned disapprovingly, “backchannels. Especially in the light of the recent….events.” Gabriel face crealy conveyed what he thought of such an underhanded tactics. Strange choice when propositioning the Prince of Hell.

“In light of rezzent eventz I don’t think Hell would be thrilled to have more contact than necezzary between an angel and a demon.”

“That’s why we should  be the ones to maintain the lines of communication. We are professionals, there’s no risk we will become...entangled as those traitors.”

Beelzebub frowned. They could feel that Gabriel wasn’t saying the whole truth and uncharacteristically he had an ulterior motive. They just couldn’t figure out what it could be. Gabriel wasn’t one of the subtlest creatures. Surely he didn’t mean to take the opportunity to spy on Hell. More likely the exact opposite would happen. Beelzebub had already learnt a great deal about the current state of Heaven from what Gabriel refused to tell them. And surely he wasn’t asking them because he actually liked to spend time in their company. That would be ridiculous, better to suppress this idea. Gabriel was always an angel who smote with particular zeal. Notion that he would like them in particular was laughable.

Then there was a question of their own emotion. Beelzebub had a feeling that in the last few weeks they started to enjoy Gabriel’s company too much and that wasn’t a good thing for a demon, especially in the current climate of Hell, when the name of demon Crowley was cursed with every second breath. Better to nip this in the bud. 

“I don’t zee why it’zz necezzary. I have wayz to contact you if needed.”

Gabriel sagged with disappointment. “It was silly idea, anyway. Forget I mentioned it.”

Beelzebub frowned but decided not to comment, gathering their paperwork and the copy of the signed treaty. They returned to Hell, left a message in Lucifer’s piling inbox - he barely left his quarters since the failed Armageddon and if he did, he was in the foulest mood, stomping and tearing at demons and sinners alike, adding to the already tense atmosphere in Hell. 

About three weeks after their last meeting with Gabriel, Beelzebub themselves was in the foul mood. The seventh circle had flooded, again, and there was massive rioting, largest yet, among demons, with thousand discorporated or maimed and unable to return to work for months. While violence among the demons was expected, this was Hell after all, this much violence was interfering with the normal operations of Hell and if Beelzebub hated anything above all, it was something making their work harder. Furthermore, their fellow Princes were no help at all. They blamed the failure of the Armageddon on their mismanagement of the demon Crowley and incorrect handling of the rebellious Antichrist and basically told them that they could deal with resulting unhappiness among lesser demons themselves. In fact they were step away from rioting themselves. Beelzebub found that their position in Hell was precarious these days and the only reason they hadn’t yet ended up hanging over the lava pit was Lucifer’s silence and the fact that in the milenia they gained the position of the Prince they made themselves indispensable in bureaucracy of Hell. Only they and Dagon knew where all the paperwork was located, and Dagon was fully their creature.

So they stopped the rioting themselves with excessive  demonstration of force and since then discorporated demons for the smallest infractions. Even Dagon felt compelled to comment on it. 

“If you keep cutting off fingers because someone put the box of staplers to the wrong place, there isn’t going to be any work done at all.” Dagon complained. She was only one who could dare to speak so frankly to the Prince of Hell.

“Well, they should learn to put away their ztuff where it belongz.” shrugged Beelzebub. 

Dagon sighed. “Not even after the Armageddon you were so ill-tempered.”

“I was buzzy then. I had to deal with a bunch of preening angelz. That diztracted me.” and Gabriel was very distracting. Why the Hell did he have to have such an attractive corporation?

“Well, you better find something else to distract you. We are working practically with a skeleton crew now that Ligur’s gone, Hastur completely useless and we are waiting for Baphomet to regrow their head.”

Beelzebub thought back on what they did previously when things in Hell became unbearable and didn’t have to think hard. They usually prepared for a meeting with Gabriel. Not an option now. Although, he did offer....

They really shouldn’t. That way lay only pain and misery. But they picked their old scratched nokia stashed in their desk anyway and dialled Gabriel’s number, which strictly speaking was restricted to the emergencies of cosmic proportions only.

The phone rang for several moments. “Hi, you reached the office of the Archangel Gabriel. I am currently out, spreading the word of the Almighty, but if you want to leave a mess….”

Beelzebub hanged up with disgust on hearing recorded cheer in Gabriel’s voice. Figures. What Gabriel usually did when he was as he put it out?

That wasn’t difficult to figure out. Gabriel’s archangelic signature was so strong that even Hell’s obsolete and often malfunctioning monitoring equipment was able to pick it up. He was on Earth. New York City to be precise. Probably jogging. Sometimes Gabriel was really predictable. 

Beelzebub emerged from the dirt inside the Central Park looking around. Gabriel wasn’t very difficult to spot with his broad tall figure and bright angelic grace. Many walkers turned after him as he passed them with his unforgiving running pace. 

He didn’t seem to sense their presence even through they didn’t bother to conceal it. Rightfully the archangel should sense infernal forces around and be on them faster than they could say Satan. Talk about being aware of your surroundings. Beelzebub could attack him, knock him out and drag him to Hell without him being able to react.

Luckily for him they were just here to bother him. They glanced around for the best way to catch his attention. They spotted the right opportunity when Gabriel was passing flock of pigeons. Small demonic miracle had the birds lifting their heavy bodies and flying right against Gabriel. The Archangel  noticed them at the last moment and tripped with a yelp, waving his long arms widely.

“What, not happy to be greeted by a flock of birds. And here I thought you would feel affinity for them, that with having giant pigeon wings.”

“I don’t have pigeon wings!” protested Gabriel loudly and several passersby paused to stare. One particularly insistent pigeon kept trying to land on Gabriel’s head. He shooed it away with a miracle of his own. Free of the annoying bird he did a double take on the approaching person. “Beelz, it’s you!”

“Of course it’z me, pigeon.”

“Don’t call me pigeon.” pouted Gabriel.

“Don’t call me Beelz then.” 

“What are you doing here?” asked Gabriel, frantically dusting of his running outfit.

“I decided I am in mood for a nize ztroll through the park. Get zome rest from Hell. It’z getting ztuffy in the office.”

Gabriel made a sympathetic noise. Bait taken. “You don’t have to tell me. I am stuck going over miracle reports from the last thousand years. It’s nice to get away from the office from time to time.”

“Trouble in paradizze? Don’t tell the church.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Nevermind.”

“Hey, it’s really nice to see you. What a coincidence you decided to visit the same park...Wait a moment! Are you spying on me?”

“I am not zpying you!” Beelzebub pretended to be offended. “I thought about your offer to meet more often. I changed my mind, but you didn’t pick your phone, zzo I decided to zee you in perzzon. You are not exactly hard to find.”

Gabriel appeared hesitant. “You were right, though. Heaven isn’t thrilled with an idea of increased cooperation with Hell.”

“Run that by them already?”

Gabriel nodded miserably.

“I guezz that they shot down the propozzal?”

Gabriel nodded again, eyes down. He fidgeted.

“Well, they don’t ztrictly need to know.”

Gabriel looked scandalized. It was a cute look on him. “I can’t go behind everyone’s back. Especially Michael. She is even more snappy after you know what.”

“Why not? She went behind your back plenty of timez.”

“But I can’t lie. I am an Archangel, for God’s sake.”

“You don’t need to tell her, no? You are head of Earth Operationz, I am Head of Earth Operationz, we can approve our own paperwork and zend it to our bozzez, who don’t read their mail anyway.”

Gabriel frowned, thinking. “I guess you are right.”

Beelzebub grinned happily. “Now why don’t we hammer the detailz over a meal. I zaw a hot dog ztand close by.”

Gabriel’s face fell. “I do not consume human sustenance.” he grimaced.

Well, dammit, misstep. “Well, I do. I am a demon of gluttony, you know. More there is for me the better, then. Why don’t you be a good angel and buy me some. In the interest in furthering Heaven-Hell diplomatic relations.”

Gabriel grinned. “Alright then.”

And so the Archangel of Heaven and the Prince of Hell strolled through the Central park, the demon happily munching on a hot dog. They didn’t actually talk about their jobs that much.

When Beelzebub returned to Hell, they found that the muscles in their face were pulled into an unfamiliar grimace. They were in fact smiling. They smoothed their face to their usual bored expression and got back to work.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

In the following few months the two of them established a pattern of encounters and rendezvous. They met only once or twice a month so as not to arouse suspicion of their respective offices. Beelzebub buried reason for their frequent visits on Earth in piles and piles of paperwork and if Dagon knew, she was tactful not to mention the true purpose of their visits on Earth. From Gabriel’s behaviour, Beelzebub surmised that he similarly was not upfront with his colleagues about his activities either. 

They spent their get-togethers - Beelzebub stubbornly refused to think of them as dates - in various locales on Earth, doing various activities. Gabriel insisted they at least pretend they are doing something productive and being productive was according to him figuring out his Boss’ plan and what made humans so worthy for the Antichrist to refuse to destroy the Earth.

Gabriel dragged them to a zoo, where he spent the whole time put out about caged animals much to the Beelzebub’s amusement.

Beelzebub dragged Gabriel to the monster truck show. It seemed like a proper demonic thing to do. It turned out they hated the noise and fireworks and sight of random destruction, they had enough of that in Hell, thank you very much. Gabriel seemed both fascinated and traumatised, commenting on human weirdness all the time. Beelzebub resolved to take him somewhere more peaceful next time. The botanical gardens sounded nice.

After several months they settled into comfortable routine. Beelzebub was startled to discover one day they actually liked to spend time with Gabriel. His cheerful sometimes naive disposition should annoy them, but instead they found it refreshing after constant dreariness of Hell. Gabriel, it seemed to them, welcomed an opportunity not to pretend all the time to be in control of the situation or that he knew what was going on.

Beelzebub was almost starting to feel relaxed and safe and that was mistake.

Six months after the start of their own arrangement with their own angel, Satan summoned them to attend to him in his throne-room.

Unlike Satan’s own chambers or Lucifer himself, in the throneroom of Hell there was no attempt at pretense. It was spacious cavern in the deepest level of Hell, freezing cold, with stalactites and icicles hanging from the ceiling and dirty water - and blood - dripping by the walls. 

Satan - for he decided to wear his unconcealed form today - offered them his ring to kiss. It was habit he adopted after he saw human kings doing it. 

“Beelzebub. I heard that you came to Earth to meet Archangel Gabriel.” his tone was casual, difficult to glean were he was heading with this conversation. Even if he was furious, he often managed to hide it, revealing his rage as sudden crack of a whip, and then again he always had the power to crush them like a fly later.

“Yezz, I am.” There was no use of lying to him. As the master of the craft, Lucifer could spot a lie miles away.

“To what purpose?”

“During our negotiationz after the Armageddon,” Satan growled at that, “he zzeemed inclined to continue our azzociation. I thought it a good opportunity to gain hiz truzt and find what Heaven is doing. We have no idea of their planzz now.”

“Is that so? Gabriel would be stupid enough to fall for something like that.” Beelzebub didn’t like the emphasis Satan made on the word fall.

“You didn’t seem to fit to inform me of it.”

“My master, you zeemed preoccupied. I filled all the paperwork and zzent it to you in your uzzual packet for your peruzal.” Just at the bottom, under requisition forms for replacement spikes for iron maiden, which you never read.

“Tell me about your meeting then.”

Beelzebub told him carefully edited version they prepared for the unlikely possibility he would ever ask. Technically they didn’t lie, just omitted some facts.

“And what are your….intentions after that?”

Beelzebub gave their master a puzzled look. “I zzimple aim to learn everything I can before Gabriel comez to hiz zenzez.”

Satan suddenly was on them, putting one of his clawed hands around their neck and easily lifted them off the ground. Beelzebub forced their legs not to kick out and their hands not to go to their throat. They knew that he hated when people resisted against him - it was useless anyway.

“Just remember you are my servant. If this is some foolish plot for Gabriel to save you, some attempt at betrayal, well, you know what will happen, don’t you?” Beelzebub had good idea. After six thousand years, they had no illusions about Lucifer whatsoever. 

“Now, listen carefully. From this moment, you will report about Gabriel to me personally. Every last detail. What he said, what he did. He sneezes, I want to know. Clear?”

He threw them against the hard floor and they landed with a thud. Beelzebub cleared their throat. “I underztand.”

“And don’t attempt to deceive me. I will know.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Beelzebub spent next several hours shut in their office, avoiding Dagon’s concerned looks.

They were, they decided, sad. They will have to cut their ties with Gabriel now. They were not least concerned about themselves. After all that time in Hell they saw, inflicted and experienced every kind of torture one could imagine. But they were concerned for Gabriel. Catching devil’s attention was bad news in general. Catching devil’s attention when you were the leader of the opposition and his brother on top of that was even worse news. Satan had plans for Gabriel, that was clear. He never did anything without a purpose. 

No. They will tell Gabriel that they can no longer see each other, maybe they will even tell him that the devil expressed an unhealthy curiosity about him and to keep well away. 

Their chest hurt thinking about it, but it was a best course of action. It was good while this, whatever it was, lasted, but everything had to end, especially for the Prince of Hell. Satan will be undoubtedly furious, maybe Beelzebub will get demoted, or even sent to a deepest pit to shovel shit, but they found they didn’t care. Better than seeing Gabriel hurt. The Archangel had no idea what Satan was capable of, how capricious he could be.

Now how to tell him? Beelzebub longed to spend more time with the Archangel. Surely one last meeting to let go and tell him at the end. What harm will it do.

They took Gabriel to their favourite gardens. Gabriel waded through the pond to pluck some extremely rare lilies for them (“so you remember me.”) and Beelzebub found themselves tongue tied. Next they met in their usual meeting place near the hot dog stand in New York, Gabriel holding incredibly greasy selection of their favourites already ready for them. They decided to leave it for the next time. One more day won’t kill anybody. 

Except they postponed it next time and time after that. They never found the courage to even start the conversation. They cursed themselves for their weakness and selfishness. 

But they knew they must. In their meetings Lucifer was most interested in Gabriel’s action that were unangelic, the times he didn’t tip the waitress when he bought Beelzebub lunch, the time he laughed at random strangers for their unkempt appearance, everytime he used a miracle for his own benefit and not to spread good. In the last briefing he even brought up possibility of making Gabriel Fall and what had to be done for that.

So they bought tickets for stage performance of the Sound of Music. Not a performance they would’ve chosen for themselves, but it will put Gabriel in good mood. They will break off their association with him after. So they will have some last good memories.

Like all their previous plans they made it went all wrong. Gabriel accepted their invitation to the theatre enthusiastically through bit bemusedly. “I thought musicals weren’t your thing.” he’d said over the phone.

Beelzebub didn’t see anything from the performance at all, they couldn’t focus on anything but the knowledge that this is probably a last time they are going to see him. They could only feel his strong warm body beside them. He smelled of lavender and ozone from the lightning he used to carry him here. Beelzebub had to help him straighten his hair because of it as it was in no state for a polite company. Beelzebub kept sneaking peeks at his face during the show. He wore silly little grin on his face. Fuck, they are going to miss the son of the bitch. Absentmindedly they took his hands in theirs. He looked at them fondly and squeezed their it.

After the show ended, Beelzebub trudged demurely after him. If Gabriel noticed their bad mood, he didn’t show it. He was full of his usual unrestrained energy.

“Lizten, I need to talk to you. It’z important.”

“Right. Okay.” Gabriel rubbed his hands nervously and grinned. “I wanted to talk to you too.”

Beelzebub braced themselves and dragged Gabriel to a bench in the little park right next to the theatre. They used a little miracle to keep humans away. They licked their lips. Gabriel looked at them expectantly. 

They opened their mouth at the same time.

“Right. You first.”

“I enjoyed meeting wizz you thezze pazzt weekzzz.” they started.

“Good, because I did enjoy it too. I couldn’t imagine I’d actually have fun with a demon… not that there’s anything wrong with that...er.”

“Gabriel, please, stop talking.” Don’t make it anymore harder than it has to be. “What I am trying to say...well, it waz nizze…” they find they couldn’t find words. They probably should have practiced the speech in front of mirror or something.

“I think I know.” said Gabriel. His smile was soft, not his usual fake grin. It made him completely different person.

“You do?”

Before Beelzebub could react, Gabriel lowered his head and touched his lips to theirs. His mouth was soft and warm. Their hands moved automatically to his shoulders and they responded to the kiss on instinct, moving against him. Their tongue parted Gabriel’s lips and darted inside. Gabriel made a little sensual moan.

What are you doing! their internal voice screamed at them. They reluctantly pulled back. Gabriel didn’t seemed to notice. He started babbling.

“I like you, Beelz. God Almighty knows I shouldn’t, but I do. Nothing makes sense anymore, but when I am with you I feel… I don’t know, like everything is alright again. Which is crazy I know, but...tell me I am not entirely insane. Tell me that you like me back. At least a little.” Gabriel’s look was almost begging. Inside their chest their misused heart did several flips. Of course I like you, you idiot, that’s why I have to do this.

“You are not half bad, pigeon.” Internally they cringed. 

“You know I kind of like it when you call me pigeon. I shouldn’t, but I do.” 

“You zzaid zzomething like that already.”

“Right.”

Beelzebub couldn’t look at Gabriel’s sappy and adoring face anymore. By now he should be storming back to Heaven in a huff, or even be smiting them in righteous fury, not to look so ridiculously happy.

“It’z late.”

“Right. Duties in Hell. They must be looking for me as well. But, well, listen. Can I see you soon?”

“I guezz.”

“Alright. Good.” he gave them a little peck on the lips again and straightened. He took a deep  dreath. “I’ll call you. See you then.”

A crack of thunder carried Gabriel away and they were left alone on the bench.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

“Fuck.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Day later Dagon knocked their door down. Beelzebub barricaded themselves in after their return, brooding. That was inconvenient complication. And they seemed just incapable of opening their mouth and telling him to fuck off on top of that. Curse their treasonous heart. Maybe if they just ignore Gabriel from now on, he will take a hint. He will be disappointed but safe.

“Are you meeting with Gabriel today?” asked Dagon without preamble. 

“No…”

“Well, you probably should. Lucifer sent Moloch to bring him in. They sent him a false message pretending it’s from you.”

Fuck.

“Where?”

“The park.”

Beelzebub disappeared before Dagon could say more.

It was early in the morning, the sun barely peaked over the horizon and the grounds of the park were covered in fog. There was a suspicious lack of mortals around, no early morning joggers or dog walkers. Hell didn’t take any chance. If some of these mortal died and went to Heaven….

Beelzebub could immediately sense the ward that would prevent Gabriel from miracling himself back to Heaven. They cursed. They needed to disable it somehow. Otherwise Gabriel would need to use his wings to get out and that would make him vulnerable.

Angry birds circled the sky. No. They were furies, ones of the few demons who kept their ability to fly. There was shouting ahead and Beelzebub ran forward, trying to untangle mess of demonic sigils and miracles, but it was useless. Moloch and others had to make the ward strong enough that even an archangel had difficulty to break through that and Beelzebub didn’t come even remotely close to that kind of power.

Gabriel was surrounded by two dozens of demons, looking frantically around, while Moloch was engaged in his typical pre-battle baiting. He had already materialized his spear, through he didn’t yet summoned the divine flame to engulf it.

“Beelz?!” said Gabriel in a broken voice when he saw them. God knows what he thought about their involvement.

“Beelzebub.” declared Moloch when he turned at their approach. “Decided to join us and see the conclusion of the months of your work, right? We really have to thank you for preparing the ground.”

There was betrayal and heartbreak visible on Gabriel’s face. Beelzebub ignored Moloch’s continued gloating and broke the line of demons who were all armed to the teeth.

“Gabriel, you idiot. They outnumber you forty to one. Run away already.”

Gabriel hesitated for a moment. Then he unfurled the largest set of wings that Beelzebub had ever seen and lifted himself of the ground. He would be able to outfly the furies easily. Except the moment of hesitation cost him. One of the disposable demons reacted too quickly, jumped towards Gabriel when he was still too close to the ground and clutched his leg. Gabriel tried to kick him off, but added weight slowed him down enough that two of the furies landed on his back at started to claw at his head, shoulders and wings. His wings beat furiously but he quickly lost altitude and crash landed few meters from where he lifted off. He managed to dislodge the three demons during the crash but they were on him in the instant. Gabriel run one of the through with his spear then used the shaft with both hands to hit the one who got into his range to the face with such a force the resulting crunch was heard even over the shouting. Third demons he hit with a powerful swing of his own wing. They could be used as a weapon if you knew how, but they were equally the most vulnerable piece of angels’s body and Gabriel had enough sense to put them out of reach afterwards. 

Beelzebub legs carried them towards Gabriel. They were not sure what they aimed to achieve. They stopped dead when Gabriel lifted his spear to them with a manic expression of a trapped animal.

“Don’t!” they screamed.

Gabriel threw the spear.

Don’t let your only weapon leave your hands!

The spear pierced their chest. The pain was unbearable and they felt like exploding into thousand tiny pieces. Darkness creeped at the edges of their vision.

Last thing they saw was a wall of demons rushing Gabriel.

Chapter Text

Beelzebub was pissed.

This was the first time they were made to wait in a line for a body after discorporation and the insult of that stung. Luckily Gabriel didn’t make his spear to flame with a divine flame - that would have done them in for sure.

Beelzebub was pissed because their corporation kept misbehaving, their nervous system sending signals to the wrong limbs and they stumbled around like a newborn foal.

Beelzebub was also pissed because they were so obviously monitored. Lack of any subtlety was professionally insulting. They were mostly Moloch’s and Belial’s people. Official excuse for their presence was to boost their department numbers during the staff shortages and other Princes had graciously lent their own underlings. But they didn’t actually do much of the actual work. 

They were pissed they were a virtual prisoner in their office, swamped in paperwork that suddenly had to be urgently completed. Most of the communication lines out of their office were suddenly plagued by unexpected errors, more than it was usual for Hell. They could only contact field agents on Earth and considering that there were currently none…

They were pissed because only other option was to be scared out of their fucking mind for Gabriel. They didn’t even have to imagine what was happening to him right now. Other Princes were very descriptive when they stopped by to mock them and gloat that Lucifer had given them free hand with the Archangel. Beelzebub had been wrong that they experienced every kind of torture in Hell and could no longer be affected.

So they spent their time doing paperwork, cursing softly and trying to come up with a way to get Gabriel out of Hell. The easiest option, although risky one, would be to contact Heaven and have them swoop in and do the rescuing. But without any way to actually reach the white winged bastards, it remained only a theoretical option. Other option was to rescue Gabriel themselves. And then fight their way from the deepest level of Hell through ten million demons who were just out for some angelic blood after the whole mess with the Armageddon.

No, the whole situation called for more subterfuge, they just had to figure out how to go about it. They were just contemplating their predicament when Dagon entered their office with more paperwork.

“The new guys are useless.” she complained. “And they smell worse than Hastur and pieces fo them keep falling off. And their reports are always only half done and never filed properly.”

“We will have to just have to do some spring cleaning once this is all over.”

Dagon deposited her large stack of files on their desk. “No offence but I am looking forward to all of this being over.”

“They will get bored eventually.” said Beelzebub.

“It doesn’t seem like it yet. It seems they are standing in a line to get a piece of some ethereal meat.”

“Curiouz they didn’t offer you zome then.”

“They did.” said Dagon nonchalantly. “I might not understand why did you chose to… get close to an angel, and Gabriel on top that, but I am not insane enough to piss off my boss by torturing their… boyfriend? Lover?”

“Azzociate. We never get that far. And you did zzugezt I find a diztraction, remember?”

“I meant making humans miserable, not to go on dates with the Archangel.”

“They weren’t datez! I waz zeducing him on Lucifer’z orderz or didn’t you hear?”

“This little fiction is why are you not hanging by your ankles over the pit of sulfur already. But I heard you rushed in and almost ruined the whole ambush trying to warn Gabriel like some lovesick fool.”

Beelzebub glared. The closest thing they had for a friend in Hell or not, Dagon was very close to overstepping her bounds. “My reason are my own. I merely dezagree with capturing the Archangel after we finally agreed on a ceazzefire with Heaven. Lucifer should be worried about Michael’z reaction.”

Dagon shrugged. “Not a peep from Feather-brains so far. Looks like Gabriel is here to stay. Maybe they will give him to you as a toy once they are done with him.”

Once they are done with him, there will be no more Gabriel.

“Gabriel is nothing to me.” they said forcefully. “Zo you shouldn’t deny yourzelf on my account.”

“Psychical torture isn’t my thing anyway.” said Dagon. Her preferred method of torment was to make people to redo their paperwork over and over again. She had special corner of Hell just for herself filled with former scribes and office workers.

“No, I inzizt. Don’t you want to draw zome angelic blood for yourzelf?”

Dagon frowned.

“Or even take a bite out of him, to mark him properly.”

“I work really hard for you.” said Dagon reluctantly.

“You do. And I owe you for it. You dezerve zome reward. Get zome at least for a moment. In and out. Then back to the paperwork.”

Dagon gave them a long look. “I don’t know if that’s enough of a reward. You work me like a slave.”

“I know.”

Beelzebub knew that Dagon understood what they were asking for, but going against Lucifer might be too much even for her, loyal or not. They were asking for a lot. She might ignore them or even go straight to Satan to report them.

But few hours later Dagon delivered a vial of blood with torn piece of flesh floating inside. Now just only what to do with it. A beginning of an idea started to form in their head.

And, they realized with sudden flash, they still had one field agent still on Earth. Rogue field agent, but his communication channel wasn’t yet cut off - mainly in an attempt to monitor his movements. Now only to convince him to pass the message along.

--------

Days later, Lucifer summoned them. He was irate and pacing restlessly.

“How may I zerve you, my mazter?”

“You may serve by getting Gabriel rid of this foolish notion of his that you care about him.”

“He iz here becauze of me. What else he needz?”

“He clings to the idea that this is all some big misunderstanding. Frankly it’s interfering with my plans for him.”

“What planz?” Beelzebub hazarded.

“To give himself to me. But it can’t happen while he has hope there is still someone he can turn to besides me.”

“What I am to do?”

“You will go and tell Gabriel that you met with him on my orders, to gain his trust. You tell him that you don’t love him, that you don’t care about him at all. I want you to be cruel. I want him to hate you once you are done with him.”

Beelzebub didn't want anything but to spit in Lucifer's face, but they will be no help to Gabriel whatsoever from the bottom of the pit. Better to play his game for now.

“Az my mazter willz it.”

“That’z right. I am your master. Don’t forget that Beelzebub.” Satan got into their personal space and gazed down on them. “You are on thin ice, princess. Any tricks and you are going to regret it. I need this to go without any obstacles. Or I will have to resort to extreme measures. You don’t want poor old Gabe I don’t know….to lose his wings, hmm?”

Beelzebub got the message loud and clear. Do what I say or there are still worse way for me to hurt Gabriel.

Lucifer got hold of their chin and lifted their head to look at him. “Once Gabriel has fallen and rules Hell by my side I will give you to him as a concubine, what do you think? You will like that, don’t you?”

Beelzebub didn’t answer. They tried to imagine Gabriel as a Fallen, but they couldn’t. Sure he was often a prick, tactless and arrogant, but way too dependent in his image on his divine Grace. More likely he will end up mindless wailing creatures they kept in the Abyss - the demons who never came to terms with their Fall.

But they obeyed and did as Lucifer had asked, more for Gabriel’s sake then their own. It must be a supreme cosmic irony that you can realize that you love someone the moment you are telling them the exact opposite. If there was truly a moment Beelzebub believed the Almighty to be cruel it was this.  

When they returned to their damp office, they shed tears for the first time in six thousand years. They only hoped that Gabriel would receive their message and it would give him strength to resist Lucifer for a little while longer. Then they noticed cream coloured paper, so soft and pristine it looked out of place in Hell, in their inbox. After dozens of missive they finally received a reply. They tore into it frantically. The news inside wasn’t what they hoped for but the outlined plan had chance of success. Beelzebub got to work.

--------------------------

 

Dagon informed Beelzebub when Lucifer finally lost his patience with Gabriel.

“They are going to groom his wings with a pitcher of Hellfire.”

“Right.” Beelzebub gathered their things. They would have welcomed a little bit more time. But needs must when the devil drives.

“Whatever you are going to do, I don’t want any part in. I am in enough trouble already.”

“Dagon, you did enough for me already.”

“You know that you won’t be able to show your face in Hell ever again.”

“I know.”

“And Lucifer will never just let you be. If you steal Gabriel from him, he will tear Earth apart to get back at you. And Gabriel won’t be in any state to protect you. He might not even want to.”

“I know all of that, Dagon. Thank you. Good luck.”

“Good luck.”

They strolled through Hell. No-one was paying any attention to them. Hell was in uproar today. Almost everyone heard what was happening to the Archangel today and most were celebrating in glee. 

They drew to where Lucifer kept Gabriel in his luxurious cell. There were far too many attentive demons around. They paused, considering.

They knew they will need time and free space to enact their plan. Both of which were in supply. What they needed was a was a distraction. Against their own judgement, they sent a silent prayer up.

Ask God and she will provide. A shadow jumped on them out of darkness. Beelzebub brushed it off easily and slammed it on the wall. To their astonishment it was a mortal sinner, a sunken old man.

“What are you doing out of your prizon?!” they hissed. They squeezed his throat when he tried to remain silent.

“They brought me to torment the Archangel, to make him punish me. When he refused they stopped paying to me.”

“So you decided to assault random demon in a corridor?”

“And I won’t let you hurt him.”

“You want to help him? Againzt Lucifer himzelf. What for? You were already damned. It will do you no good.”

“You are right. I am already damned. It doesn’t mean I want other to be damned too.”

Beelzebub was frankly impressed by the insanity of the mortal. But they could use it for their advantage. They realized they could use all the sinners for their advantage. A little riot in prison. This time among the inmates not the demonic guards.

“Are there otherz who would be willing to help?” they asked.

The sinner gave them an odd look.

“I have a plan to rezcue Gabriel.” they admitted.

The mortal gave them a disbelieving scoff. “Why would I believe foul fiend like you?”

Beelzebub wanted to tear the man apart for the foul fiend insult but reined in their temper. They pulled one of the letters instead. “Don’t believe me. Believe this.”

The man perused it quickly. “It might be forgery.”

“You have been Hell long enough to recognize a divine origin.”

The man hesitated for a moment. Then he seemed to make a decision. “What do I need to do.”

Beelzebub smiled and handed him a key. “Why don’t you releaze your fellow humanz.”

-------------------

The biggest riot Hell had ever experienced had a desired effect. While the demons were sent to herd escaped humans back to their torments, and Satan himself stomped off angrily to put the stop to it and tear several souls apart when he was at it, only skeleton guard remained around Gabriel. Beelzebub dispatched them in ease.

When they first saw Gabriel, lying very still on the floor, they worried he might be dead. All Fallen already. He looked horrid, covered in blood, with deep wounds, some of which oozed pus, some which were infested with maggots. There were only charred stumps in the place of his once impressive wings. Only when they got closer and touched his forehead carefully they could feel his Grace. Was it them, or did it feel dimmer already?

They decided not to waste any more time. They produced a chalk and got to drawing intricate pattern on the floor. Divine sigils stang them and Hell itself contracted around them refusing such an abomination in its very heart, but they persisted. They were in a hurry, but they forced themself to draw slowly and giving painstaking attention to every detail. 

As they were drawing the last sigil, they heard commotion outside. Any moment they will discover knocked out guards. Quickly they finished the lines, threw away the chalk stump and dragged Gabriel’s heavy weight to the centre. Now they only had to hope that Crowley will keep his side of the agreement.

The divine light filled the room at the same moment the door flew open. It enveloped both the demon and the archangel in the centre. When it dissipated they were both gone.

 

------------------

 

Around six thousand kilometres in distance and eternity in metaphysical space, Beelzebub appeared in quaint little cottage on Earth, still holding Gabriel in their arms. The sigil around them slowly stopped glowing, revealing two figures on the edge.

“Oh, dear.”

Chapter Text

Aziraphale rushed forward, his eyes wide. Beelzebub actually hissed at him, their body tense and drawn, ready to spring and strike anyone foolish to come close. Their hands were still clutching Gabriel’s bloodied torso. Their eyes were glowing with a furious rage. They truly looked a beast from the deepest pit of Hell at the moment. Aziraphale pulled slightly back.

“My dear, he looks rather hurt.”

Beelzebub blinked slowly and gradually relaxed. “You don’t zay.”

“We should probably check his injuries and take care of them, don’t you think?” he said and tried for a smile, but he achieved only a tight insincere grimace. His eyes were pinned on the mess that used to be the Archangel on the floor. There was very little in the angel that was recognizable as Gabriel. His face was ashen and drawn with thin scratches crisscrossing most of his face, his nose was broken and his eyes were both swollen shut. His hair was sticking in every direction and matted with blood.  He was in horrendous state. The muscles on his chest were actually visible where his skin was flayed and rest of it was covered in bruises, cuts and burns. If it weren’t for quick shallow breath Gabriel was producing, Aziraphale would have thought he was looking at a horrible mutilated corpse and not a fellow angel. There wasn’t a inch of clear skin in sight. Smell was overwhelming too, a combination of dried blood, burnt bacon and rotting flesh.

Fortunately, Gabriel was blissfully unaware of all that, out to the world as he was.

Beelzebub sneered at him. “I am not an imbecile, there iz no need to zpeak like that.”  Crowley, who had moved behind Aziraphale cautiously, bristled at their hostile tone. He opened his mouth for an angry retort - something along the lines that Aziraphale didn’t even need to help them and they should be fucking grateful - but he had shushed him with a gentle touch to his shoulder. He didn’t even turn around.

Aziraphale slowly knelt to their eye-level to better examine the injuries. Some of the wounds were still bleeding, some produced foul-smelling puss and Aziraphale had to swallow the need to throw up when he noticed something squirming in the torn tissue. It was infested with worms. 

“Right, we better get him comfortable and start patching him up.”

Beelzebub bared their teeth. They shifted Gabriel in their arms, putting one of their hands under his knees and slowly rising, lifting much larger angel with a strength that was hidden by their diminutive size . “Lead the way.”

They left the ritual room - in actuality a cozy living room where the furniture was pushed to the walls - went through the short corridor and entered a small guest room with a simple single bed with white linens. 

Aziraphale waved to the bed. “Put him down.”

Beelzebub hesitated. “I am not sure what side I should lay him down.”

After some manoeuvring they decided to put Gabriel on his left side. Both angel and demon winced when they saw the remains of the wings. Hellfire had cauterized the wounds, but there was still strips of charred flesh and skin hanging loose and bone stumps sticking out. The stumps were surrounded by the mess of torn flesh from the earlier whipping. 

“Right.” Aziraphale tried to hide that his hands shook. “I can heal some of these injuries, but not the one caused by hellfire or infernal weapons. These will require more conventional healing.”

From the foot of the bed where they stood with their arms crossed, Beelzebub sent him a look that clearly said Get on with it.

First he straightened the broken ribs. Gabriel’s breathing became easier at once. Encouraged he forced the maggots out of the wounds and re-knitted the tissue they have eaten through. Next he ran his hand above Gabriel’s shoulder and broken shoulder blade snapped back to the place. He healed the purple bruises caused by angry fists and blunt objects and scratches and scrapes caused by general manhandling, he fixed lesions on the internal organs. He regrew his knocked out teeth and relieved pressure of gathering blood inside the skull. By the time he was done he was sweating buckets and Crowley put a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t overdo it, angel.”

From the side, Beelzebub made a disagreeing sound. Crowley gave them an angry look. To avoid any useless argument, Aziraphale took a step back and signed. “I am done anyway. I can’t heal rest of it. They are cursed injuries.” There were distressingly still too many of them remaining. He shifted his look from Crowley to Beelzebub. “They should be cleaned with Holy Water.”

“Right.” Beelzebub jumped way too quickly. “I leave that to you then.” and they left the room in a hurry. Crowley made to follow but Aziraphale shook his head. Right, they were still maintaining the fiction that he was immune. He should appear unbothered by a bit of water. He shuffled to the corner of the room and conjured himself an armchair squeezed between the two overflowing bookcases.

“You better don’t splash it around.” 

“I wouldn’t ever forgive myself if I did.” Aziraphale disappeared for a moment, going to the kitchen to get the water and blessing it. He came back with a large bowl and a rag. 

First Aziraphale took care of the remnants of the wings, removing the dead tissue and then he meticulously cleaned every wound, stitched everything he could and bandaged it, so that Gabriel resembled the mummy more than the angel. Some of the injuries sizzled when they came into contact with the Holy Water and a reddish steam rose from them. He had to pause for a moment and take several deep breaths when he discovered very telling evidence of rape but he took care of that too, acting with almost detached professionalism.

All through the manhandling, even when his deepest cut were being cleaned, Gabriel stayed blissfully unconscious. Aziraphale was just removing the bowl with the Holy Water, now turned crimson from blood, when Gabriel decided to make himself difficult and snapped his eyes open. 

He instantly jumped up, swinging his arms widely and knocking the bowl out of Aziraphale’s hands. It spilled on the floor and Crowley winced from his spot in the corner; now they will have to replace the carpet.

Gabriel scrambled back on the bed. Aziraphale tried to placate him. “Gabriel, it’s alright. You are safe.”

“No, no, no. Don’t come any closer.” His voice was slurred and his eyes darted widely around the room.

“Alright.” said Aziraphale with a soothing voice. “But please, stop moving, you will reopen your wounds.” Indeed red spots were blossoming on the previously white bandages.

But Gabriel didn’t appear to be listening. “Don’t...Don’t hurt me again. Or...I will….” his breathing was harbored and he was shaking. Something swirled around the room, like a disquiet spirit and the air became charged with static electricity.

“I won’t hurt you. No-one will hurt you here. I promise.”

“I don’t believe you.” snapped Gabriel. “I don’t. No, stay back!” Aziraphale made step forward, his arms outstretched widely to the sides in a placating gesture, but Gabriel’s shout had stopped him dead. He lowered his arms.slowly.

“Gabriel. It’s me, Aziraphale. You don’t have to be scared. You are no longer in Hell.”

If Aziraphale hoped that such a knowledge will help to calm Gabriel down, he was sorely mistaken. Gabriel squinted at him. “Aziraphale?!” Then he made a high-pitched scream of a dying animal. He tried to put as much space between himself and the angel, but got tangled in the sheets and landed awkwardly on the floor at the side of the bed with a dull thud and a moan. 

Aziraphale ran to him but that only made him scream louder. “Please, don’t burn me. I’m sorry! I am sorry! I AM SORRY.” he broke down into sobs and repeated the words few more times like a matra.

Aziraphale gave Crowley a helpless look.

The door banged open. All the commotion attracted Beelzebub who ran inside liek their heels were on fire. They spotted Gabriel squirming on the floor, muttering incomprehensibly and stalked toward them like a mother-hen on a warpath. “What the fuck have you done to him?!”

“Nothing!” hissed Crowley. “He woke up like this.”

On the floor Gabriel continued sobbing. “Please, stop. I’ll be good. I’ll do everything you ask. Just stop.”

Beelzebub growled. They elbowed Aziraphale and Crowley out of the way and kneeled next to Gabriel. He tried to fight them off but he was too weak to really swat the Lord of the Flies away. They captured one of his wrists in their own hand and touched his forehead with the other. The effect was almost instantaneous. Gabriel’s limbs collapsed as if their strings were cut, tension left his body and his eyes slowly closed shut. He was asleep with his mouth comically open. Beelzebub lifted Gabriel back to the bed and gave the two of them a look full of contempt.

“Get him some clothes.” aside from bandages, Gabriel was still completely naked. 

They left again in an uncharacteristic hurry before any of them could utter a word.

Crowley glanced at Aziraphale and noticed that the angel was crying. Big fat tears streaked on his cheeks and his nose looked runny. Seeing his once impeccable and perky boss reduced to such a state took a lot out of him.

“Hey,” Crowley touched his arm softly. “Why don’t you see if there are any extra blankets in the upstairs closet. He looks really cold.” It was not far from the truth. Gabriel was shaking slightly even in his demon induced sleep.

Aziraphale gave brisk nod and gladly left.

Crowley left after Beelzebub. He found them in the living room where the summoning sigils still glowed imperceptibly. They were standing by the window, framed by the light of the setting sun. They stood there unmoving, holding their arms protectively across the chest.

“What was that?” hissed Crowley.

Beelzebub turned around unconcerned by the anger in his voice. “What waz what?”

“You don’t order usss around in our own housse. You came to us begging for help. We helped you. We had no reason to. We patched Gabriel up. Show sssome gratitude.”

“Thzank you.” they muttered emotionlessly. Crowley huffed. “What more you want?”

“Well, I wanted to be left alone but then you had to bombard me with letters asking for help and Aziraphale found them and insisted we do.” Crowley frowned. “Now you dumped Gabriel on us, expecting us to do with him who knows what while you sulk in here.”

“Apologiez for the inconvenience.” said Beelzebub. “I zee we are unwanted. I will pick Gabriel and we will be out of your hair shortly.” they moved to walk out but Crowley barred their way.

“Don’t be stupid. Gabriel is in no state to be moved.” 

“I find it difficult to tell what you want from me then.” 

Crowley signed. “Just...I was against all of this from the start, you know. It just seemed either a trap or inviting wrath of Satan on top of us again. So don’t make me angry. We are risking enough for you already.”

They studied the snake demon’s face. “You are worried for your Angel.”

Crowley shrugged. “If something happens to him because of you to I will….I don’t know what I will do to you, but you won’t like it.”

In normal circumstances Beelzebub would laugh at Crowley. A minor demon, however useful and imaginative he used to be as a field agent, threatening the Prince of Hell? Hilarious. But now their own angel was lying unconscious few meters away, wingless and rest of his body a bloody mess, and they weren’t in the mood. They actually felt very small compared to Crowley.

“That’z a little bit late. Zatan will look for Gabriel. He'z obzzezzed with him.” they said instead. Frankly, besides Gabriel’s poor condition, it was the thing that worried them most of all at the moment.

“Great, open a door for them, they burn down your house…” he muttered. “Why is it always us?” the question was directed more towards the ceiling than Beelzebub.

Beelzebub glared at him. “Truzt me, you were my last option for azzizztance.”

Crowley scoffed. “Who was? Heaven? Aziraphale actually went there over my very very loud protests. Their door was shut fucking tight. They don’t take his calls. Maybe they don’t even want the idiot back.”

Beelzebub stiffened at that. “Don’t call him that.”

“Why not? He got captured by hell, didn’t he. How did that even happen?”

Uncomfortable look crossed Beelzebub’s face.

“You had something to do with it?” asked Crowley. “Then why rescue him? Lucifer would give you rest of Hell to rule for delivering an Archangel to him, more so Gabriel.” Beelzebub looked away with guilt radiating from their posture. Well, not exactly radiating but to Crowley who had to learn to read body language of others as a survival strategy of Hell, it was pretty transparent. Crowley’s face turned incredulous. “You care about him? You actually care about him? I didn’t believe it when Aziraphale suggested it, thought he was just being silly romantic angel, but it’s actually true?!”

Beelzebub pushed by the Crowley and went to sit on a sofa sullenly. Crowley followed them insistently.

“Gabriel and I got clozze.” that was all they were willing to admit. They were still coming to terms that they were in love themselves. Saying as much was a huge step for them.

Crowley barked a laugh. “After all you two put me and Aziraphale through. How does it feel to be on the other side?”

“Zshut up.”

Crowley softened. “Right.” he imagined if the situation was reversed and it was Aziraphale who was tortured to a breaking point. “What I don’t understand is why you send him to Hell in the first place.”

“I didn’t.” hissed Beelzebub defensively. “It waz a mizunderztanding. Lucifer...Lucifer waz watching me. I hoped....” Beelzebub sighed. “But what uzze iz hope in Hell.”

“Righto, a misunderstanding.” Crowley straightened his long back. “Well, since Gabriel is not going anywhere and you to seem to be staying, we better cast better wards, strong enough to stop Satan.” he realized what he said and amended. “Well, slow him down enough we have time to escape if all Hell will ascend on us.”

“Better not.”

“What?! Why not?”

“Because Hell filez our miraclez. They can just look up recordz and they will know where I am and logically where Gabriel iz likely to be too.” they tone suggested they were talking to a moron.

“I know that. But there’s already a ward that stops Hell from fixating the exact location where the miracle occured.”

“Yezz, I know. But it ztill showz the general area. Do enough miraclez in one place and you have enough data to narrow the area down zo you know where to zearch. Or how do you think I found you?” Well, it waz Dagon who found Crowley after painstakingly going over the miracle reports after Crowley left London, but he didn’t need to know that.

Crowley visibly paled at their words and swallowed hard. He looked around as if the Hell should break through his living room in any moment. “Hell knows I am here?”

“Not anymore. I deztroyed all the recordz before I left Hell.” The only copy existed in Dagon’s head. They hoped she won’t be in sharing mood. Or forced to be in sharing mood. Beelzebub hadn’t got ańymore mental space to be worried for Dagon too.

“Right. Well, I go and strengthen the wards anyway.” and with that he left Beelzebub to brood alone.

----

Night, day and then another night passed. Gabriel didn’t truly regain consciousness. He woke up but he was delirious with fever and in whatever place his mangled mind believed he was. He was alternatingly begging them to stop hurting him, kept trying to fight them or sobbed uncontrollably. On one memorable occasion he pleaded them to kill him. He refused to take any food or liquids, fighting them furiously and Crowley had taken to miracling the painkillers straight to his stomach. It was easier to keep him asleep but he kept having nightmares however much Aziraphale tried to miracle them away and give him pleasant dreams instead and his trashing kept opening his wounds. 

Beelzebub haunted their cottage like a particularly unhappy ghost. They avoided the guest room as if it contained a pool filled with the Holy Water. Sometimes Crowley almost believed that he imagined their confession from the first evening, so great was their indifference. They entered only when cajoled into it, barely looked at Gabriel and aimed to leave as soon as possible. That left most of the caring and comforting on his and Aziraphale’s shoulders. 

By the dawn of the second day, they were all mentally exhausted. Aziraphale puttered in the kitchen. During the previous thirty six hours he must have made several dozens cups of tea and cocoa and then left them all half drank. Eventually Crowley convinced him to take a leisurely stroll around the village and to visit a local grocery store to restock on tea and other necessities, leaving Gabriel under Beelzebub’s supervision.

The day was bright for an autumn day and air smelled fresh of seawater. The coast wasn’t far away. The autumn played artist with the nature, painting the leaves various warm colours and Crowley felt himself relax. They made their purchases in the shops, stopping to chat with cashiers and other villagers and Crowley was happy to see Aziraphale smile.

“Oh, have you heard?” said Mrs Turner by the end of her spiel about everything of interest. The elderly lady was a local gossip and knew everything about everything in the village.

“Heard what?” asked Crowley only from politeness. He wasn’t that interested in rumours, especially the silly ones Mrs Turner usually spread around, but Aziraphale made some encouraging noises.

“About these...tramps wandering around. The neighbour watch had to call police about them to chase them of, but old Jimmy Harper said he saw one of them again this morning. Swore he looked like he just crawled out of a trash heap and smelled like it too. Worse even.”

Crowley exchanged a nervous look with Aziraphale. “When did they first show up?”

“Oh, just yesterday, I was telling you.”

“Right. Well, nice chatting to you, Mrs Turner.” Crowley grabbed Aziraphale’s hand and dragged him away. 

“So soon? But I have to tell you about Sally Wayne’s baby!”

“Sorry, Mrs Turner.” called Aziraphale back, ever the polite one. “But Crowley remembered that he forgot to lock the front door. And with strange people wandering around….”

“Right. You can never be too careful these days. Off you go boys.”

Aziraphale had to speed up to keep up with Crowley’s long strides.

“It might not be demons.”

“Who would be then?”

“I don’t know. Tourists?”

“That smell like a trash heap? No, it must be demons.”

“Mrs Turner is prone to exaggerating and locals have wild imagination. They are not used to strangers.” argued Aziraphale.

“Do you really want to risk it?”

“Right.” 

They were just going through the small iron gate leading to their lovely cottage when they were hit by a powerful energy wave of celestial origin that felt panicked and desperate. 

“Gabriel.” Aziraphale had barely time to finish the word when all the windows in the cottage shattered. They broke into the run, rushing inside. Surprisingly they were not met by a swarm of demons and sight of a battle, just a recently broken glass. There was only a sound of struggles coming from the guest room and Gabriel’s voice.

“Leave me alone! Why are you doing this!” They almost broke down the door, but it was not Gabriel who was in danger.

Gabriel was stradling Beelzebub who was lying on the floor, his hands around their throat and he was strangling them violently. Beelzebub wasn’t even defending themselves, their hands were lying flat on the floor and their eyes were squeezed shut.

“Bloody He…” Crowley swallowed the curse as he and Aziraphale rushed forward, but Gabriel knocked them back by a powerful swing of his arms. If he wasn’t as preoccupied Crowley would be wondering how someone who two hours before seemed weak as a kitten re-gained so much strength. At least he was forced to release Beelzebub now. 

Gabriel turned towards Crowley, fury in his wide eyes. Aziraphale grabbed him around the chest. “Let me go!” wailed the archangel.

“I don’t think so. Go back to sleep.” Gabriel struggled against the unconsciousness more than previously and strain of fighting against the other angel’s inner power was clear on Aziraphale’s face, but eventually the Archnagel collapsed half on top of Beelzebub, who was slowly lifting themselves up on their elbows.

“You alright?” Crowley asked them.

“Fine.” they choked out. Angry red imprints of Gabriel’s large hands were forming around their neck.

“Let me see.” but Beelzebub waved hovering Aziraphale off. They leaned towards Gabriel, smoothed his wet and dishevelled hair and then tenderly kissed his forehead. Then they rolled their legs from underneath Gabriel and were out of the door before Crowley could close his mouth.

Aziraphale gave a small embarrassed cough. “Help me to put him back to bed.”

They lifted Gabriel and placed him back under the covers. “I better see if they are really fine.” said Crowley while Aziraphale set about to fix the windows.

Except Beelzebub was nowhere to be found inside the cottage and the front door was left wide open. Crowley peaked to the garden, but there was no sign of them either. He hurried outside and spotted them halfway across the street. They were surrounded by the larger swarm of flies than usual and they were all buzzed agitatedly. He ran after them and finally caught up to them on the corner.

“Where the fuck are you going?!”

“I am leaving, obviouzly.”

“What for?!”

“Don’t you zee. Gabriel hatez me. My prezence juzt makez him worzze. He will be better off without me.”

“That’s bullshit. I don’t know if you noticed but he was not exactly himself past two days. Could really be said he is a bit addled right now.”

Beelzebub laughed bitterly. “You don’t understand. He is right to hate me. All of this happened becauze of me. He got captured and tortured becauze of me. Becauze I waz zzelfish. And I took too long to rezcue him. If zomething like thiz happened to Azziraphale becauzze of your error, what would you do?”

“It would made me wish I had taken a bath of Holy Water.” admitted Crowley and Beelzebub smiled triumphantly. “But I wouldn’t do it. Because I would know that Aziraphale would need me. So you are going to leave Gabriel when he needs you? I thought you said you care about him.”

“I do.” they seemed to take a deep breath and come to a resolution. “I love him. That’z why I can’t stay with him. I ruined him. Zometime you have to let the thzingz you love go.”

“I don’t believe that. You are only going to hurt yourself and him.”

Beelzebub snorted. “I already hurt Gabriel enough. I knew Lucifer waz after him but I didn’t warn him off out of my own zelfishnezz. And I....Lucifer wanted to break Gabriel, to make him believe that no-one cared for him, leazt of all me. He made me tell him that I zeduced him on his orders and made me tell him I don’t love him.”

“Well, That’s what he’s going to think forever if you leave right now without at least trying to explain. You leaving will just make it the truth. Loving someone means you stick with them through good and bad.” he made an emphasis on bad.

“Poor Crowley. I never guezzed you to be a romantic. Thiz can’t be fixed. It waz zilly of me to even ztay zo long. I will only bring Zatan on top of uz.” something must have showed on Beelzebub’s face because next they barked. “What?!”

Reluctantly Crowley told them about the sightings of the strange men in the village.

“That took them fazter than I expected.” they muttered. “That’z only more reazzon for me to to leave. I can lay a falze trail, lead them away from here. I have ztill enough of Gabriel’z ezzenze to make them believe he iz with me, at least for a while.” 

Beelzebub turned to leave.

“You are going to regret doing this.” insisted Crowley. He didn’t even know why he was invested in Beelzebub and Gabriel’s doomed romance. Rightly he should be glad one of them was leaving and hope that other will follow soon and leave him and Aziraphale to their peace.

They paused for a short moment.

“Not thiz. Take care of Gabriel for me.”

Crowley really wanted to tell them that was their job, but he kept his silence. He knew a lost cause when he saw it. Beelzebub was simply too wracked with guilt to think clearly, he could see that now. So instead of arguing further, he watched them walk away until they disappeared around the next corner.

Chapter Text

Gabriel thought that once he was out of Hell, free from the torture and the constant anxiety from worrying about Lucifer’s next move, he would feel, if not exuberant, than at least relieved. Instead, he felt empty. Of course when, in his lowest point he prayed for a rescue, he imagined Michael descending in her divine glory, smiting Lucifer and whisking him back to Heaven to be surrounded flawless angelic love, to get reassurance from his siblings and to go back to work, back to normality. But that option was not open to him anymore.

It wasn’t that Aziraphale and Crowley were unkind to him. They were too kind to him. More kind than he deserved. He expected Aziraphale to be angry with him ¨- he tried to burn him in Hellfire for reason, he now could admit to himself, that his pride had been hurt, that his subordinate made him feel inadequate and look like a fool. Aziraphale should treat him with contempt at the very least and throw him out from his home the moment he wasn’t actively dying anymore. Instead he was compassionate and careful with him, as if Gabriel was made of glass and could crumble at every wrong move. Even the demon walked on tiptoes around him. It made Gabriel feel strange things he wasn’t fully able to articulate.  Nor did he actually wanted to. Curling into a ball and throwing one of the ugly tartan blankets over his head seemed like a better choice than any soul searching questions or his hosts concerned look they kept exchanging when they thought he wasn’t looking. 

Gabriel tried to escape his troubles by sleeping. It was easy at first as his head felt like being filled with spider webs and his body felt like he was barely tethered to it. But as he regained his strength sleeping the day away was getting more and more difficult. That left him more time for company of his own chaotic thoughts.

Right now Aziraphale and Crowley were expertly changing his bandages. They got quite good with it after several times and worked quickly and efficiently in tandem.

“Right. I need to peel this off. It might sting a bit.” said Aziraphale. “Are you alright with this?” Gabriel nodded. Ever since discovering his new aversion to an unexpected touch, the two of them were careful to ask him for permission to even accidently brush his hand. It made Gabriel feel even more wretched. He barreled through life like an angel-shaped bulldozer, slapping people across the back one moment, grabbing their limbs the second and otherwise showing his affection very physically. He had never considered that others might find his overturns unwanted or uncomfortable until now, when he was in this situation. 

Gabriel hissed when Aziraphale pulled off the bandages from his chest. His hands stilled. “Tell me if you want me to stop.” he said in his unbearable soft voice that made Gabriel wish he had berated him for being sissy instead. He gritted his teeth. “Get on with it.”

“Well, this at least looks better than yesterday.” said Aziraphale after examining the wound - the flayed part of his chest was covered with ugly scabs but it was no longer leaking stinking puss anymore. Aziraphale threw away the dirty wads and dressings. “But I don’t know what else I could do. I was never the best with healing.” Aziraphale gave him a sheepish smile; he didn’t attend any remedial training in any skill in about two thousand years, usually citing pressing business down on Earth. “What you need is Raphael.”

That wasn’t the first time Aziraphale steered conversation towards the conspicuously absent Heaven. But he usually backed off when Gabriel showed utter unwillingness to discuss it.

“This is alright. You are doing an excellent job.” Gabriel focused his eyes on the wall. He was actually still in a considerable amount of pain, he had just learnt to shut it off and ignore it for the most part. “Thank you.” expression of gratitude from Gabriel tended to flabbergast Aziraphale enough that he forgot the point he was making. But not this time.

“If this heals wrong you will be in pain for the rest of eternity.” absently Aziraphale rubbed his thigh. He had there one such wound he had received during the First War when resources were stretched thin and he didn’t get enough attention. “I know they don’t take my calls, but maybe-”

“Don’t even think about it, angel.” interrupted Crowley from Gabriel’s side where he was wrapping his arm in fresh bandages. “You went there once, they didn’t even bother opening the door. I think you should count your blessing. They tried to kill you once, I won’t risk you again.”

Crowley tactfully didn’t mention that it was Gabriel who tried to kill Aziraphale.

“I am sure it can be all cleared up.” insisted Aziraphale. Crowley snorted with derision and muttered something probably not suited for angelic ears. 

“Well, I agree with Crowley.” added Gabriel resolutely. 

“You do?”

Gabriel ignored the demon’s surprised exclamation.“It’s not worth the trouble.”

“Actually, what I was going to suggest, before you two started interrupting me, was that Gabriel tries to contact Heaven himself. I am sure that they will take his calls.”

Gabriel felt like someone punched him in the stomach and his heart beat so hard it threatened to jump out of his chest.

“Gabriel?” Aziraphale leaned towards him.

“No.” he choked over the lump in his throat.

“My dear, I don’t understand this reluctance you have to even talk about it. I am sure they are worried about you.”

“I sincerely doubt that.” with this he lay down, not caring that they still hadn’t finished rebandanging him. He turned sideways to face away from Aziraphale and pulled his knees to his chin, curling around them to indicate that the conversation was over.

“Really now?” Gabriel couldn’t see Crowley’s face but he was pretty sure the demon was rolling his eyes. “You are going to mope again.”

“Leave me alone.” Gabriel planned on his voice to sound commanding and forceful, but he sounded more like a petulant child who didn't want to eat his greens.

“Maybe we should just let him be.” suggested Aziraphale.

“No.” Crowley moved around the bed to look into Gabriel’s face. His reaction was to squeeze his eyes shut and burrow himself into a mattress. He knew he was acting ridiculous, he just couldn’t stop himself. “I would’ve thought you would jump at the chance to be from dirty ugly Earth and go back to Heaven. So I really don’t understand why you don’t want to.”

Gabriel muttered something.

“Well, what is it?”

“Crowley, maybe…”

Gabriel lifted his head. His eyes were filled with tears. “You don’t get it. I can’t go to Heaven. I don’t belong there anymore!”

Aziraphale and Crowley both gaped at him. “What featherbrained idea is that?! You are the Archangel Fucking Gabriel.”

“No, I am not. I am not even angel anymore. Angels have wings! And I…” Gabriel released a wounded sob. “I have been tainted. I had demons all over me and inside me. Who would want me in Heaven after that.”

“Gabriel, you mustn’t think like that.” Aziraphale made a move to touch him comfortingly but thought better of it. “There is more to being an angel than a pair of wings. In fact I think that’s rather superfluous.”

“What is than? Kindness? Grace? Tolerance? Because I had abundance of that.” his voice of bitter. “No wonder no-one can stand me.”

“That’s not true.” but Gabriel could hear hesitation in Aziraphale’s voice.

“Please don’t lie to me. I am not as stupid as you all think I am. I can see people hate me. I think I always knew, I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.”

“Gabriel. I admit that you are not always easy to deal with. You can be overbearing and thoughtless and I concede that the two of us have never gotten along. We are simply too different. But I have never hated you, even when you refused to listen to me about the Armageddon and then tried to punish me for trying to do what I knew was right.”

“You are just trying to make me feel better.” he muttered.

“Perhaps. But if I really hated you, what reason would I have to do that?”  

“I don’t know.”

Awkward silence followed.

“Angel, I think where this is coming from.” he turned to Gabriel. “Lucifer fed you some bullshit about how no-one cares about you and you swallowed it. That’s why you don’t want to contact Heaven. You are scared that it might turn out to be true. You really are a fool if you take anything that came out of Satan’s mouth at a face value.”

“Just because Lucifer said it doesn’t mean it isn’t the truth.”

 “Oh Gabriel, you know they call him the Prince of Lies for a reason.” added Aziraphale.

“Then where is everybody? If they are lies why didn’t Michael or others come? Why did Beelzebub leave?”

“Has it occured to you that they simply might not know?” said Crowley, done with his self-pity. “And Beelzebub left because they are an idiot.”

Aziraphale gave Crowley a chastising look. “Beelzebub took an enormous risk rescuing you from underneath Lucifer’s nose. They simply left to ensure no-one finds you here. I am sure they will be back once this blows over.” At least there were no more sightings of weird smelly people in the vicinity, but it was hard to say if that was due to Beelzebub's actions.

“I don’t believe it. They said they don’t care about me. And I was not important for them to even stick around and talk to me.”

Crowley huffed in frustration. “Fine, whatever. Stew in it then. This is hopeless, Aziraphale. I am out of here.”

Aziraphale stayed behind. “Gabriel, I will leave it for now, but we will talk about this again. We might have had our differences but believe me when I say I don’t want to see you hurt. Now stop being obstinate and let me finish dressing you. And then I think you should try to rest some more.”

……

Next time Gabriel woke, he heard soft voices. Voices that were familiar to him. Too much brightness seeped through his closed eyes. He must be in Heaven. 

“How long is he going to be out?” it was Michael.

“It should be a while yet.” answered Raphael. They were whispering and Gabriel could barely hear them. “He got pretty strong dose.”

“Good.”

“How is rest of the Host coping?”

“They are grieving. We have lost so many brothers and sisters. Some to death, some to...whatever it was that happened to them. She said we shouldn’t hope that they will ever return to us.”

“What about Gabriel? He was always so worried about losing others and he will take this hard.”

“I will try to give him some light work to recover, to keep his mind off things, but not for too long. But we can’t afford to lose more manpower. We have an enemy now. The Host will need strong leadership.” 

“And the Almighty decided on Gabriel.” 

“She thinks that I am better suited to leading armies than solving petty grievances of common angels. My task is security and preparation in case another conflict is needed. Gabriel is to deal with more...civil matters.”

“He was hit pretty badly. He might not be up to it right now.”

“It isn’t my decision. Our Mother has decided.” Michael’s voice softened. “Please take care of him.”

Gabriel opened his eyes, but instead of bright lights of Heaven or faces of his siblings, he only saw thick fog. Even their voices were fading in the distance. He chased after the dream, no, the memory, but it slipped through his fingers and he fell into the deep sleep again.

--------

Gabriel was tired staring at the walls so it was almost welcome distraction when Crowley peaked into his room.

“Good, you are awake. Any chance you will take Aziraphale’s offer of a cup of tea after refusing for hundred of times?” For the hundredth time, idea of consuming anything only made Gabriel nauseous. He shook his head quickly.

“Right, what about some fun. You must be bored lying here all the time.”

“What kind of fun?” asked Gabriel dully.

“I don’t know. Movie?”

"What kind of movie?"

“What do you like?”

“I don’t know.”

“Hey, I’ll even sit through The Sound of Music if you want.”

Gabriel felt cold, as if someone poured a freezing water all over him. He shuddered. Image of the last time he saw this particular movie came back to him. He could almost feel Lucifer’s hand in his hair, forcing himself into his mouth, spilling himself, ashy taste of his come on his tongue…

“Hey, alright, shit. Breathe with me. Deep slow breaths. In, out, in out…  Can I take your hands?”

Gradually Gabriel’s panic abated and he could breathe easily again, and see the bedroom he occupied with its white walls, overflowing bookcases and a soft light coming through the windows. He could feel Crowley’s hands in his.

“Sorry. That was stupid idea.”

“No. Just...just not this film. Something else.”

“Right. We will have to find something you like then.”

“I don’t really know any other films.”

Crowley grinned. “Let me introduce you to great human cinema then.”

One hour later, Gabriel was close to dozing on the couch while watching a hero, who was buffed up by some strange human magic, run around and punch the bad guys - they were called Nazis, according to Crowley, and apparently were worse than demons, which Gabriel found hard to believe -  on the screen, when the bell rang.

Crowley exchanged look with Aziraphale, who was sitting in the armchair with an old and thick book and periodically peering over it to check on Gabriel. He didn’t approve of the choice of viewing material, claiming it was violent and might disturb him, but Gabriel found he actually liked the film.

“Are we expecting somebody?”

“Not that I am aware of.” Aziraphale shut the book. He gave them reassuring smile. “I guess demons wouldn’t knock. I’ll see who is it.”

He left for the front door. They could only hear indistinguishable voices over the sound of movie and then a loud shout and someone saying: “Get out of my way.”

Crowley sprang up in alarm, but the person who barreled through the door wasn’t any demon as he feared, but Archangel Michael, dressed in dirty unbuttoned coat and muddied boots and hair sticking in every direction.

She froze at the sight of Gabriel on the couch. “It’s you! It’s really you.” In an instant Gabriel had armful of the other archangel, clinging to him.

He tensed and tried to get out of Michael’s strong embrace. “Don’t, please…” he felt that he might be starting hyperventilating again.

“Stop touching him.” barked Crowley. 

Some urgency in his tone must have got to Michael, or maybe it was her brother’s shaking, but she released him and glared daggers at the demon. “What the hell have you done to him?!”

“Us! We actually helped him as opposed-”

Gabriel interrupted the starting tirade by gripping Michael’s coat with both hands and pulling her closer. “Michael! Where the hell have you been!?” Then he started to cry.

Chapter Text

Later, Michael would regret not looking for Gabriel sooner.

Even later, she would regret not asking more questions. Why are you going to Earth so often? Why do you spend so much time there and let your Heavenly duties slip? What are you doing there? Why do you wear that soft smile on your face every time you come back?

Later Michael would regret not stopping Gabriel in the first place.

But at that moment, she, the Archangel Michael, the General of the Heavenly Host was a coward. Because she was afraid what the answers to her questions might be. Gabriel had always worn his heart on his sleeve and he was a miserable liar. She could see right through his paper thin excuses that he was trying to find the answers to the Ineffable plan. If he didn’t say what precisely he was doing on Earth he was either embarrassed about it or he knew that Michael wouldn’t like it, and the latter seemed like the most likely option. And if Gabriel thought that Michael wouldn’t approve, it was probably something that was deserving of punishment. 

And so Michael pretended not to see anything suspicious and let Gabriel come and go as he pleased as was his privilege as the Head of Earth Operation.

As it was she realised that Gabriel hadn’t returned from his latest sojourn on Earth only after she entered his office to get him sign some files and she found it completely empty, unread paperwork piled on his desk.

Michael frowned. Gabriel’s absences kept getting longer, but not that long. She fished out a paper from the bottom of a pile. It was a memo Metatron sent out almost four days ago. Four days without check in was too long even for Gabriel. Michael strode out of Gabriel’s office, trying to push away the uneasiness that spread through her.

She entered Uriel’s office without knocking. “When was the last time you saw Gabriel?” she asked without preamble.

Uriel looked startled. “Three, four days ago? Why?”

“He isn’t back yet.”

Uriel gave her a reassuring smile. “Maybe he got distracted by something and lost sense of time. You know how he gets.”

Michael shook her head. Gabriel’s attention did tend to wander, but over the centuries he developed enough discipline to control himself. Michael knew because she was his primary teacher and trust her, it was pain to get it into his head that he can’t just pause in the middle of the fight to admire the lines of his opponent's armour. She bashed him over the head plenty of times for that until he eventually stopped doing it.

“I don’t think that’s it.” Michael licked her lips. “Uriel, I think that Gabriel has been lying to us last few months.”

“About what?”

“About what exactly he is doing on Earth. I’ve suspected for some time that he is meeting someone.”

Uriel’s face clearly stated that they found such notion ridiculous. Gabriel’s interest in the people he was not close with was always superficial. And all the people he was close to were angels in Heaven. “Who would he be meeting on Earth?”

“I assume it’s a human.” because Gabriel wouldn’t stoop so low as to consort with the opposition. So it must be a human. Relationships with mortals were frowned upon but as long as no nephilim were created- and Michael couldn’t imagine Gabriel doing that -, not expressly forbidden. She could live with it if Gabriel held an affection for a human.

Uriel gave her a sly grin.“I admit he has been in strangely good mood lately. Do you think he is in love?”

Michael shrugged her shoulders. Uriel wasn’t taking this seriously enough. “Only think I know that Gabriel left for Earth, again, under some flimsy excuse of an errand four days ago and didn’t come back. And yes, he might have stopped to admire some ridiculously precise flower arrangements and lost track of time. But he might be in trouble. And I'drather look paranoid than careless.”

“Alright, alright. Let’s go look for him.”

That’s how Michael and Uriel found themselves in Earth Observation department.

“Unfortunately, I can’t find any files monitoring the Archangel Gabriel's activities on Earth as of late.” smiled the head Angel, called Gamaliel. 

“And why is that?” asked Michael in a tone that was a tad harsher than usual.

“Ah...eh...well, it’s the Archangel Gabriel who usually sets our targets. He gives some places high priority and some low priority. I assume he was just in one of the unmonitored spots.” Gamaliel got nervous at Michael’s displeased expression. “We aren’t the Almighty, we don’t have unlimited resources.”

“So Gabriel basically made sure no-one can see what he is doing and with whom. How are we going to find him now?”

Michael was lowkey impressed that Gabriel had even enough forethought to censure his movements. But he didn’t think of everything.

“If he wasn’t in the observed location, then he naturally visited the unmonitored ones. We start with these.”

“There is quite a lot of them.” Uriel frowned at the list Gamiel had created. “Gabriel couldn’t have visited all of them. It will take a while to go through them all.”

“We’ll need some help.” 

………………..

They recruited some of their siblings and other angels Michael could trust not to gossip to help with the search. Last thing they needed was the news about Gabriel’s disappearance - should it turn out ot be a disappearance - to make rounds in Heaven, especially so shortly after the whole Armageddon fiasco. With more numbers they made a good progress.

Gabriel’s celestial aura should be strong enough that traces of it should linger for several weeks to months, depending how much time he spent at the particular location and how many miracles he used and a well attuned angel should be able to sense it. Just as Uriel predicted there was not a whiff of Gabriel in many of the places they searched. But in others they found remains of ethereal presence which had practically Gabriel stamped on it. But next to it they found also traces of other demonic presence. One that Michael recognized as Beelzebub's.

“Maybe they were spying on him.” Uriel tried to suggest when they first found out about it. 

But the more of Gabriel’s movements they followed the more it became apparent that Beelzebub was present at the every last one of them. Michael felt equal parts worried and equal parts betrayed. How did Gabriel managed to hide a fling with the Prince of Hell from her? Why did Gabriel even have a fling with the Prince of Hell to begin with, after what happened with the traitor?

“Maybe it’s nothing romantic. Maybe he is just plotting with Beelzebub to restart the war. Or get back at the traitors.”

“After the memo from the Almighty forbidding precisely both of these?” that one fell into category of a strongly worded memo.

“But Gabriel wouldn’t…”

“I don’t know Uriel. But Gabriel will have a lot of explaining to do once we find him.”

That was until they came to their next location and the metaphysical combination of the smell of brimstone, putrid eggs and burnt oil assaulted their senses. Gabriel’s aura was almost drowned by it all.

“There was a fight here.” pointed out Uriel, paling. “The trees over there were restored by a demonic miracle. So was the ground here.” Demonic power wasn’t nurturing; it eventually spoiled everything it touched. The trees were wilting and the grass around them was burnt yellow. All in they could come to a simple conclusion - Gabriel got into a fight with demons and lost, badly.

“Gabriel is in even more trouble than I expected.” 

“What are we going to do?”

Michael pursed her lips. “I am going to knock down Hell’s door and demand some answers.”

“I am going with you.”

………………..

Michael had worried that Gabriel will do something foolish and lands himself in a cosmic amount of trouble her whole life. Now that the moment came around she found herself strangely calm. She fastened her breastplate quickly and efficiently, checked sharpness of her big double-handed sword, put on her great helm.

She didn’t expect extracting Gabriel from Hell to be easy. There was no time to muster the whole of the Heavenly Host - most of them were already decommissioned or in the middle of the process - and such approach would only ended in an unnecessary bloodshed anyway. The goal was to get Gabriel back and letting countless other angels die in the process would be counterproductive. No, her best shot was to strike with small but well-trained force, be in and out before Hell grew any wiser of what’s happening. Luckily after six thousand years of spying and sneaking around Michael knew rarely used backdoor to Hell. She has been saving it as a trump card for the Armageddon but since that was postponed to never, well, Gabriel was her youngest brother...he was worth giving up one advantage in a hypothetical war. She had other aces up her sleeve anyway.

She joined her selected group of twenty best and most powerful angel warriors Heaven had to offer. Unsurprisingly many of her younger siblings were among the number, though she had to refuse offers of assistance from some of them. Heaven couldn’t be left completely leaderless if something went wrong. Uriel gave her a determined nod. Bachariel hand rested on the pommel of her sword. Sandalphon was almost caressing the handle of his warhammer lovingly. They all focused their attention to her when she approached them.

“We know why we are here.” she told them. “Our task won’t be easy. We don’t know where exactly they might be holding Gabriel. Our best chance is to hit Hell quick and hard, locate Gabriel and retreat before the demons have time to recover. I am sorry, but we might resort to using dirty tactics to achieve that. Anyone who is uncomfortable with that can leave now without any repercussion.” No-one shifted and all angels present gave her resolute and defiant stares. “Very well. This is our plan. I will take you to unused entrance to Hell. Sandalphon will take a point,” Sandalphon was almost unstoppable juggernaut, capable of causing a great deal of wanton destruction; exactly what Michael wanted, “Once we meet any hostile forces-”

“Stop!” the booming angry voice came from her left. “Stop this madness at once.” The Metatron stomped towards them, their robes billowing behind him. Most angels startled at his sudden appearance. The Metatron was notorious for seldomly walking among the rest of them. They preferred to remain in their office which was the highest of them all and appearing only as a giant floating head.

The Metatron stopped right in front of Michael. “Archangel Michael, you have no authorisation for this expedition.”

“I need no authorisation. I am the leader of the Heaven’s army.”

“Mind I remind you of the express orders from the Almighty forbidding any fighting with the forces of Hell. Or the treaty Heaven had negotiated with Hell only few month previously?”

“Hell broke the treaty by capturing Gabriel.”

“Michael, be reasonable. You have no actual evidence that Gabriel is even in Hell.”

“I think there is enough evidence.” Uriel chimed in and others gave a murmur of agreement. 

“Circumstancial evidence only.” 

“It’s good enough to me.” spat Michael.

“Good enough to risk your life and cause war with Hell? Because that will happen if you blindly attack. You think Lucifer will just stand aside and let it go without retaliation?”

“I am not leaving Gabriel to rot in Hell.”

The Metatron sighed. “Again, we don’t know Gabriel is even in Hell. This is not a first time he has been gone for an extended period of time. Remember that time he got stuck in the Black Hole? That time he got lost on the way to the prophet Daniel? You will look a proper fool if Gabriel suddenly shows up because he missed a turn in the Andromeda Galaxy. You are not allowed to start a new war for a maybe.”

Michael narrowed her eyes. “Is this an official order?”

The Metatron's position in Heaven's management existed in a grey area. As the Voice of God, they were something akin to an official spokesangel. Technically he was not superior to the Archangels and had no business to order them around. Unless he was relaying Her orders. Hence came the uncertainty. As the Almighty relied more and more on the Metatron to relay Her word, their respect and prestige grew and in the end their personal commands were obeyed as if their came from The Almighty Herself.

But lately Michael had doubts that the Metatron had any more contact with God than the rest of them. He could easily pretend that any command he gave was from Her. But proving that would be extremely difficult. There was no way to actually check. And what if always lingered in the air. What if you were wrong?

Right now the Metatron straightened. “Michael, you are forbidden from attacking Hell in any way without express orders from the Almighty God. And yes, that’s an official order.” 

Michael wanted to argue further but she know she had lost. She has lost the resolve of her troop. Good half of them shuffled around, their eyes cast down guiltily. They were in no way cowards, they were willing to storm Hell just moments ago, but risking the wrath of Almighty was a different matter. They won’t follow her to a battle now.

Michael huffed in frustration and glared at the Metatron. “And what IF Gabriel really is in Hell? What then?”

“Michael, you are ever the warrior. Had it occurred to you to seek diplomatic solution?”

Michael didn’t want to seek diplomatic solution. Mainly because she didn’t trust Lucifer at all. 

Yet she now found herself pacing around one of the dingy reception rooms at the upper levels of Hell. They were close enough to surface that her abilities weren’t affected at all. She tried to use them to try and sense Gabriel but of course Hell was so imbued with occult energy that he could easily be in the next room and she would have no idea.

The Metatron had decided to accompany her. Probably to ensure she didn’t do anything to provoke a conflict. The way he sat on a rickety old chair calmly grated on her nerves.

The way they let them wait grated on her nerves too. Michael clenched her fists. How she wanted to punch something! She might just do it to relieve some tension.

Finally, after inordinate amount time the door opened with a creak and Lucifer himself entered. It was the handsome undamaged version of Lucifer, but he was far from his immaculate appearance he used to sport in Heaven. His hair was dishevelled, top buttons of his shirt were undone and he was flushed, with small sheen of sweat on his forehead. He looked thoroughly ravished, the scent of sex still lingered around him and he wore a smug look. Michael scoffed infernally. Probably thinking himself clever that he left the two emissaries from Heaven waiting while he was engaging in carnal pleasures. She didn’t let that faze her. Unlike some other angels she was no blushing virgin and Lucifer will have to try harder than that.

The devil now smiled broadly. “Michael, sister dear. What a pleasant surprise. And the Metatron. What do I owe such an honour?”

Michael only glared so the Metatron took the word. “Let’s not bore ourselves with pleasantries. We are here to inquire about the whereabouts of the Archangel Gabriel. We were lead to believe you might know something about it.”

Lucifer’s smile became fixed. “Well, that’s rather simple, isn’t it?”

Michael’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “It is?”

“He was last seen in the company of the demon Beelzebub, wasn’t he?” he growled Satan. “Where she is so will be he.”

“How do you he was last seen with Beelzebub?”

“But Michael, it’s only logical. Beelzebub was last seen in the company of Gabriel.” he suddenly advanced on her threateningly. Michael haven’t moved an inch. “And let me tell you I don’t appreciate Gabriel stealing one of my lieutenants from me. I want her back and Gabriel appropriately...reprimanded.”

“You made no complaint about ony of this to Heaven.” noted the Metatron mildly.

Lucifer shrugged. “It seems that Beelzebub’s deflection was voluntary. And from your expression I presume that Gabriel didn’t share his plans with you. I didn’t know he had it in him, the old dog.”

“What exactly are you suggesting? That Gabriel...eloped with Beelzebub?” Michael didn’t hide her distaste. 

“Seems fraternization has become rather in vogue lately. They must have been inspired by the two certain individuals you so pathetically failed to punish.”

“Please, don’t take me for a fool. We know for a fact that there was confrontation between Gabriel and some demons in New York.”

“But of course. We sent someone to drag Beelzebub back to Hell. Unlike you, we take treason seriously here. But Gabriel had to get involved,” Lucifer’s eyes flashed red. “You better hope to find him first, Mikey. Some folks here aren’t very happy at being discorporated.” 

Michael wanted to punch Lucifer’s smirk off his face but The Metatron grabbed her arm to stop her. 

“Now, it seems I can’t help you any further. I think we are done here. Unless you want to stay for dinner, Michael, and reminisce over the good old days.”

“I think I will have to decline.” sneered Michael.

“Pity.” but his voice had gone softer. “But it was nice to see you again, Michael. Really.”

“Well, we thank you for speaking with us.” said the Metatron. Michael glared him.

“If you find our two love birds, please kindly send Beelzebub back to Hell. There’s paperwork that needs to be done.”

The Metatron dragged Michael away before she could do any damage. 

“You can’t possibly believe anything that comes out of Satan’s mouth.” hissed Michael.

“I don’t. But you have to admit that his story isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.”

“He is just trying to misdirect us.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. But you still have no proof that Gabriel is a captive in Hell.”

“As if Lucifer would come out and just admit that. I won’t just sit in Heaven doing nothing.”

“Then your only option is to search for Beelzebub.”

So search for Beelzebub she did. By this time the Host started to sense that something was wrong and that Gabriel was conspicuously absent. They explained his absence by a feeble excuse that he was on an assignment but it was obviously that hardly anyone believed that.

Michael was about to give up and storm the gates of Hell on her own, orders be damned, when there was a lucky break.

“Beelzebub was spotted in Europe.” reported Bachariel.

“Finally.”

“Bad news is that Gabriel doesn’t seem to be in the vicinity.” she curbed Michael’s enthusiasm. 

“Never mind. I need to ask some questions and I will get some answers.”

It must have been the luck of an Archangel that she finally tracked down Beelzebub in an abandoned quarry somewhere in the Eastern Europe just as they were surrounded by a bunch of demons and judging by their demeanor they didn’t stop for a friendly chat. Unwilling to let her prey slip away from her, Michael pounced quickly and mercilessly. The demons turned in shock when they finally noticed presence of an angel. Their shock soon turned into horror when they realized the angel was Michael. One of them discorporated from sheer fright. Other two turned and fled. The remaining three Michael easily dispatched with one powerful swing of her broadsword. Then she grabbed Beelzebub by the throat before they could recover their wits.

“I will ask you once and only once.” she spat. “Where is Gabriel?”

“He didn’t contact you yet?” there seemed to be a hint of worry in the Prince of Hell’s voice. Michael must have imagined it. She tightened her grip.

“Alright, alright, I left him with the traitors! Crowley and Aziraphale. In England. They have a little cottage in the Zzouth.”

Michael threw Beelzebub to the ground. “Why for the love of the Almighty would you do such a thing? Is that some attempt to buy their favour? You gave them Gabriel in exchange for the secret of their immunity?” It was only thing that made sense in Michael’s mind. Clearly Beelzebub angered Lucifer. The secret of immunity from the Holy Water and God knows what else would come handy to them.

But Beelzebub sputtered in indignation. “No, you idiot. I left him there becauze you wouldn’t take any of my calls! After I rezcued him from Hell, when any of you wank wingz failed to zshow up! And where have you been for Zzat-....Zzomeone’z zake! He waited for you.”

Michael’s hand squeezed the handle of her sword. “So he was in Hell after all.” her heart clenched painfully.

“Yezz. What did you think?”

“Well, it was suggested you two eloped and covered your tracks to escape the consequences.”

To Michael’s horror, Beelzebub turned wistful. “Zshould have done that.”

Michael swung her sword too close to Beelzebub's throat. They shrank back. “Gabriel isn’t your toy to play with. I don’t know what you did to him, but he doesn’t even like you and you will leave him alone. Understand?”

“Cryzztal.”

She lifted her sword to cut Beelzebub’s treasonous head off and send them back to Hell where they belonged. She remembered Lucifer’s words just in time. The Archangel Michael was no devil’s lackey to do his bidding. If he wanted Beelzebub, he better come for them himself. She redirected her sword and jabbed it into the ground next to Beelzebub.

“This better be truth or…” Michael let the threat hang in the air.

“It’z the truth. I zwear.”

Michael dematerialized her sword and turned to leave. 

“Michael, tell him I am zzory. For everything.”

She didn’t even look back. “I am not your errand boy.”

She disappeared with a slight pop, leaving a dejected demon behind. 

She attempted to miracle herself into the location Beelzebub had given but she didn’t prepare herself for the wards. She slammed into the invisible bubble and the next time she blinked, she was standing in a muddy field. She swore. Then she started the track to the village in the distance.

……..

 

“I’ll smite him.” swore Michael some time later. She was sitting on the sofa in the traitor’s living room, untouched cup of tea by her side.

After Gabriel cried his rivers and Michael assured him  that of course they were looking for him, does he know she was dying with worry, he became very clingy. His head was now in Michael’s lap and she ran her hand through his hair absently. His eyes were open but he didn’t seem to be entirely aware. 

Aziraphale and Crowley filled her on what they pierced together about Gabriel’s stay in Hell and the extent of his injuries. His bandage covered body managed to tell the story on its own, but Michael had a feeling they were holding back. The topic of Gabriel’s severed wings came up and Michael never felt a greater fury. Only because he was right here, holding onto her as if she might dissolve, did she not fly off to Hell right that instant. She fought to calm down. She won’t help Gabriel any being like that, and he must be her priority right now.

“I will call Raphael and than we'll take Gabriel back home.” she decided. 

“No.” Gabriel whispered, barely audible. So he was listening after all.

Aziraphale tried to communicate something to Michael in frantic gestures but Michael couldn’t make head or tails of that. 

“What is that? Of course you are coming back to Heaven.”

“But…” Gabriel sounded uncertain like a small child.

“No buts. Do you know how worried we all were? We spent days looking for you. You want me to go back alone and tell Uriel, Zadkiel and Bachariel and others you don’t want to see them.”

"Do they want to see me?"

"Yes." said Michael, confused and a bit worried.

“Is that true?”

“Of course it’s true. What had gotten into you?”

“You really want me back?”

“Of course I want you back, you silly angel. You are my youngest brother and I love you. Now stop this nonsense,” Michael used her stern older sister voice she didn’t have to use since Gabriel was a fledging, “and wait here while I call the others and tell them good news.” Well, not entirely good considering Gabriel’s condition, but news. It was something. Better than nothing.

Big smile spread over Gabriel’s face and he gave a small sob at the same time. Michael was frankly baffled. 

“Are you alright?”

“Yes,” said Gabriel tearfully. “And I love you too.”

Baffling, she decided, as she left to make a call. She decided to talk with the traitors some more. Perhaps they will have some insight into Gabriel’s fragile mental state. Aziraphale seemed to have some idea. She will endure that to make her brother better.

Chapter Text

After returning to Heaven, Gabriel got the best care available which meant that Raphael fussed over him almost constantly and Michael almost glued herself to his side. At first he was overjoyed to see so many of his siblings and friends, but after a while the procession of well-wishers tired him. It wasn’t even anything they have done, it was the internal conflict inside Gabriel himself. There was still a persistent voice in his head, eerily reminiscent of Lucifer’s silky tones, telling him that the others are only showing their concern out of obligation or because Michael forced them. Another voice, sounding suspiciously like Michael chimed in not to think stupid thoughts like that and torment himself such. Maybe Michael even said something like it for real. Nevertheless he hated himself for it, and he couldn’t help but to lash out against others in his bad mood. That only set off another round of self-recrimination. If they didn’t hate him before, they will certainly hate him now for how he behaved, won’t they?

He was now almost fully healed. He only experienced occasional pangs of pain when he moved too quickly and he had trouble lifting his arms above his head. There was naturally nothing Raphael could do for his wings. They were simply melted by the torrent of Hellfire. When Gabriel tried to remember the moment he could only recall the absolute agony and despair. Then his mind shut down.

Although he now was much better physically, his mind was in whirlwind. Random flashes of Hell kept coming back to him. Sometimes he got angry  and hurled accusations at those around him, usually Michael who was never far away. Why didn't they come for him? Sometimes he got tired even though he spent the day doing nothing at all and as an angel shouldn’t get tired in the first place. Sometimes he felt like curling up into a ball and sleeping forever.  

Gabriel was surprised to learn that including the few days' stay with Aziraphale and Crowley he was gone little more than two and half weeks. It seemed much longer than that. Like he was gone for centuries and the Heaven changed to be unrecognizable. Like someone had demolished it in his absence and rebuilt it stone by stone, but wrong. Which was ridicuĺous, because everything was exactly as he left it.

Yet it felt different. Where it was soothing before it was now stifling. Where he felt only self-assurance he now found doubt.

“It’s not because Heaven have changed. It’s because you have changed.” his new therapist pointed out the obvious. “You are not the same person who left Heaven few weeks ago.”

Well, Gabriel sincerely hated this new Me. He wished thing could just go back to the way they were, where he could just be ignorant archangel so sure of his position in Heaven and the Universe in whole. He had some many questions now and so few answers. He wasn’t used to having his head filled with so many contradictory thoughts he couldn’t sort out  and that made him even more confused and frustrated.

That’s what he liked about his therapist. She had a great ability to put a name to almost everything he was experiencing.

Like anything that reeked of common sense in Gabriel’s life lately, therapy was Aziraphale’s idea. He had suggested it to Michael not long after she’d sent Gabriel to get treatment in Heaven and she interrogated the Principality and Crowley thoroughly about everything they’d learnt from Gabriel and Beelzebub about the circumstances of Gabriel’s capture and his stay in Hell and his subsequent mental condition.

At first Michael dismissed the idea out of hand. What mortal could possibly comprehend depth of several millennia old supernatural mind? But Gabriel kept suffering from mood swings, frequently broke down crying and experienced panic attacks every time someone did or said a wrong thing, and it was lucky he did not actually required sleep to survive as everytime he nodded off his dreams were filled with nightmares. Michael was at the loss how to help him. She wished it was a problem she could hack apart with her sword. No matter how many times she assured Gabriel that he was safe, and he was loved and wanted in Heaven, and no matter how many times Gabriel told her he had heard her and believed her, he seemed to be improving very slowly. She consulted Raphael first but while he was an excellent healer of the body, both corporeal and metaphysical, he was not that skilled in the matters of the mind and his only recommendation was to give it time. Michael didn’t have time. She wanted her abrasive clueless brother back now, not this nervous wreck with haunted eyes. So she revisited the idea.

It was Phanuel who actually found the therapist for him. As Michael made sure the Host was physically ready to fight demons, Phanuel made sure they were mentally prepared. He hosted various meditation exercises and talks about feelings and philosophical discussion - all things Gabriel disliked, especially the meditation - and kept up with human discoveries on the topic, including human 

“Don’t expect to get better at once,” she told Gabriel when they first met. “It isn’t going to be an easy journey. I can only show you the way, but the majority of the work will be on you. You have to work on getting better.”

She was a woman named Svetlana and she was barely a decade out of her earthly life, which she dedicated to helping the survivors of trauma. It was a calling in which she continued even after dying and entering Heaven. Gabriel was deeply disturbed by this discovery. From his lack of interaction with deceased mortals he had no actual idea what they did all day in Heaven; had he stopped to think about it he would probably imagine souls blissfully floating a on little clouds with huge happy smiles. Heaven was perfect. Why would anyone there needed therapy? The idea that someone would be unhappy in Heaven apart from himself (but his circumstances were extraordinary) didn’t sit well with him. Heaven had to be perfect in the eyes of everyone else, right? Yet he couldn’t but remember Aziraphale and what in hindsight was his poorly hidden reluctance to return to Heaven. 

“Many people had lead difficult lives or suffered horrible deaths. Pearly gates don’t just make it disappear.” explained Svetlana kindly. “Then there are those who only manage to gain entrance to Heaven after going through the purgatory. And plenty of people would be perfectly content in Heaven, but they don’t have their loved ones here. How can anyone be happy knowing they are suffering in purgatory or worse, in Hell.”

The mention of the missing loved ones made Gabriel to think of his own loved one. He was still angry and confused. Did they trick him on Satan’s orders as he had claimed or was the truth more complicated like Aziraphale with Crowley claimed. if it was the former, why did they then  went to such risk to rescue him from Hell? If the latter why did they leave? To protect him? Or did they come to regret the decision? He wished that he could feel nothing in regards to Beelzebub. All the trouble he was now in stemmed from it. He tried to suppress his feelings, excise like a cancerous tumour, stomp on them in righteous fury, burn them away like his wings did. None of it worked. He still felt bad.

“Do you think I was wrong to love Beelzebub?” he asked Svetlana. That was another thing he liked about her. He felt he could tell her everything without fear of judgement. He could confess things he wouldn’t tell Michael or Raphael or others. They would try to be nice and understanding but he knew that under their mask they would all think him hopelessly foolish or misguided.

“I think it’s never wrong to love someone.” said Svetlana.

“Even a wrong person?”

“Not even then.”

“Even if it makes you unhappy? Even if they don’t love you back?”

“Gabriel, your love is the greatest gift you can chose to give someone. If they chose to misuse it’s not on you, it’s on them.”

His sessions with Svetlana didn’t exactly make him feel better but he felt less powerless and vulnerable. It usually lasted him for next few hours until the doubt reared its ugly head again. But her instruction how to calm himself from his panic attacks and ease his anxiety seemed to be proving actually helpful. He felt more in control of himself. Back in angel occupied part of the Silver City he felt like a lost child.

There was another reason why he was no longer comfortable and at home in Heaven. He never realized before but the oldest parts of the city, the ones he inhabited the most, were designed with winged inhabitants in mind. Without wings he couldn’t move around as freely as before and he had to constantly ask for assistance to get to places.

As a result he found himself actually spending more time in the human dominated quarters of Heaven and that almost always lead him to visit Mary’s garden. Thing he always did before if he was feeling down. Right now he was sitting on one of the benches littering the garden - everybody was welcomed to visit - and watch her tending to her flowers.

“Do you think it was a punishment?” 

“Punishment for what?”

“I don’t know. Arrogance. Pride. Vanity. Presuming to know better than Her. Trying to kill my fellow angel. Being too enthusiastic about the damned Armageddon.”

“Well, I admit you used to be a bit nicer when I met you. You got too busy lately - well last few centuries - for us little mortals. But I wouldn’t send you to Hell for that.” 

“Maybe it was for consorting with Beelzebub.”

“She doesn’t punish people for love.” Mary removed several dried blossoms. Gabriel frowned. Mary never met the God in the olden days, when she was much more capricious and less merciful. Samyaza could tell some stories. But then again Samyaza was a rapist. Gabriel couldn’t remember if he was one of the demons who touched him like that in Hell...his breath hitched and he quickly cut off that train of thought.

“I wish She just let me Fall if She was so unhappy with me. It’s not like I didn’t denounce her when...well, when they asked for it.” Falling would at least mean he would be in Hell, where Beelzebub resided. Funny that it hadn’t occurred to him when Lucifer was actually tempting him to Falling. But then again at that moment he couldn’t imagine a life without Heaven. No, he still didn’t want to Fall. But he would happily trade Heaven for seeing Beelzebub at least one more. He forgot he liked seeing under their surface, how they pretended to be indifferent to everything but once a while a feeling had gotten through and Gabriel was able to actually catch it. Almost daily he thought about their one and only kiss.

Mary joined him on the bench. “The God doesn’t make angels Fall for what they said under torture.”

Gabriel inhaled the scent of flowers. “I just wish she would speak to me. I guess you can’t help with that.”

“You don’t have to join the line of people who pray daily for me to intercede on their behalf. You are the archangel, have you even tried to speak to Her on your own?”

“I don’t think She will take my calls. She didn’t speak to any of us for a long time, even after the Armageddon. I prayed to Her, but I only felt more alone. I don't think I want to find out She really doesn't give enough damn about me to even damn me.”

Mary had no answer for that so she only asked for a permission to hug him. He granted it. It was the next best thing.

 

------------------------

 

He prayed his meetings with Michael were as conductive. She made it her new habit to come and see him at least once a day, sometimes alone sometimes in company of his other siblings, Michael tried, always forcefully cheerful which wasn’t very natural on her. It was obvious she didn’t want to bother Gabriel with her own troubles. She tried so hard even Gabriel could see that. But she wasn’t altogether sure what to do with him. She oscillated between treating him like glass and trying to cheer him up. Seeing her struggling so much to take care of him properly usually quashed any rising paranoia about her love for him. 

Michael had a lot to say about Beelzebub’s supposed love. She grew stiff the moment Gabriel finally got the courage to ask whether it was possible to locate Beelzebub and ask them some pressing questions.

“Gabriel, sweetie, you know it was just a pretend to get you into Hell’s clutches.” she said the last time he brought it up. 

“I don’t thinks that’s entirely true. I know there was something.”

“They are demon, Gabriel. They don’t love and if they could they would only misuse it for their twisted end. Their love wouldn’t be pure. And need I remind you that you are an archangel, you shouldn’t seek affection from a demon.” Michael crossed her arms. “Angels and demonsdon’t mix together.”

“Aziraphale and Crowley seemed to get along splendidly.” Gabriel knew he said the wrong thing even before the words stopped leaving his mouth. He cringed as Michael pursed her lips.

“And we all know where did it lead. And Crowley is insignificant as demons go anyway.” Gabriel felt a slight inexplicable offense on Crowley’s behalf. The demon was kinder to him than Gabriel would be if their roles were reversed. No, there was no beating around the bush. If Gabriel came across helpless tortured Crowley he would have ended him at the spot. It was probably testament how much his perspective had changed that he felt a pang of shame thinking about it. What claim for moral superiority he could have when the demon had proven to be a bigger better person. 

“Beelzebub is the Prince of Hell. A different creature entirely. I don’t know why you persist in worrying about them.” Michael took Gabriel’s hand in hers. “You should focus on your own recovery. Which you need because of them.” 

“They got me out of Hell though. They didn’t have to do that. Why would they do that if…” if they didn’t felt at least a slight affection for me.

“I don’t know. Maybe it was some misplaced attempt to unseat Lucifer, powerplay if you want. We can only guess.”

That wasn’t satisfactory answer.

“I would like to know.” muttered Gabriel.

“Why do you insist on seeing them? Don’t you see it’s dangerous?”

“I just want to know, alright. Not knowing is killing me. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Everybody keeps saying different things about Beelz...zebub. You, Crowley, Lucifer. I just want to go to the source, alright. If Beelzebub tricked me, if they don’t love me, fine, I will get over it. But I want to hear it from them.” Without Lucifer being present. Or Michael for that matter. Just the two of them, no-one else interfering and influencing their words.

“Gabriel, please, that demon is not worth so much anguish from you. They don’t deserve you even if they loved you. Which, I repeat is extremely unlikely. By going to them you are only going to hurt yourself further and I just don’t want to see it happen again. It were one of the two worst weeks of my life, I couldn’t stand to let you get hurt after I just got you back. You have so many angels here who love you. Please stay here with us. Just forget about Beelzebub.” Michael actually looked on a verge of tears. It surprised Gabriel so much that he dropped the whole matter and didn’t bring it up again within her hearing.

It ate at him though. By Michael's grudging admittance, Satan was angry at Beelzebub for what they have done and was hunting for them. Maybe just as he was sitting in Heaven they were horribly tortured. It made his heart clench. Deep down he knew he couldn’t move on like this. He had to find some way how to contact Beelzebub.

Michael didn’t forget through. Everytime Gabriel got too close to the Gates he was accosted but at least three overly concerned angels asking him if he needed anything, how could they help him and if he needed them to call one of the siblings. 

After Gabriel came back to Heaven bloody wingless ruin it was no longer possible to hide what happened. Whole Heaven knew to the lowest janitor. So these angels could act only from their own concern, but Gabriel suspected that Michael recruited the whole Heavenly Host to keep an eye on him. He drew pitying look wherever he went and it felt suffocating.

They wouldn’t let him go back to work so he would have something to distract his mind with. He was officially on an indefinite medical leave and Uriel assured him several times that they had his duties well in hand. He can take as much time as he needs. The Metatron didn’t bother to reply to any of his many messages.

He started to wander around the Heaven aimlessly, until somebody mentioned that he looked like some haunting shadow and disturbs the souls of the righteous. Michael scolded the guilty party but the damage was done. After that Gabriel chose to close himself in his quarters. Strange funk overcome him. He felt useless and lost. He was only burden on others. Uriel took over his jobs and seemed to do better at it than him. He couldn’t get there without someone lifting him on their wings anyway. 

He ignored Michael’s attempts to get him out, there was nothing for him to see or do anyway and others’ well-meaning visits just tired him. They even dragged Svetlana up there to talk to him. She declared him depressed. Gabriel ignored her attempts to help him.

It was several weeks later that something actually peaked Gabriel’s interest. The Metatron came to see him.

“You don’t take my calls.” he complained irritably.

“You didn’t take my calls either.”

“Well, I have an actual important business to discuss.” Unlike you who are only a bother, was implied. Gabriel scowled.

“What important business?”

“An assignment.”

“An assignment?”

“Are you going to repeat everything I say?” huffed the Metatron. “It’s a job from the Almighty.”

Gabriel straightened at that. His heart sang. He convinced himself that the Almighty forgot that he even existed. “What kind of job?”

“You are to deliver a message.”

“Message?”

The Metatron frowned. “You are still the Messenger, are you not?”

“Yes, but...I don’t have any wings. I am useless. I can’t…”

“You don’t need wings for delivering messages on Earth.” the Metatron cut him off. “Well? Get ready!”

“But…” Gabriel’s mind was still at the point of the conversation when the Almighty paid him any attention at all.

“Gabriel, you aren’t novice at this. Get ready to receive the message. Or you want it get dumped to your head without any warning?”

Gabriel nodded and tried to clear his mind as best as he could. It wasn’t his best effort. There was what felt like a slight pressure and a tickling sensation inside his brain. Then there was suddenly something extra in his head, a sealed package to be unloaded once he gets to his destination. And the destination was…

Gabriel’s heart skipped a beat. The message was addressed to Beelzebub, the Prince, former denizen of Hell.

Chapter Text

It turned out that evading Hell was easy if one decided to truly commit to it. The first step was to hide among the mass of humanity. The large mass of humans generated enough sin that any demonic aura simply faded into the background. Other demons would have to step within ten meter radius of them to locate Beelzebub. The second step was a bit more difficult. It involved completely and absolutely giving up any miracles, so Hell couldn’t track them by their automatically filled miracle reports. It made Beelzebub wonder about some of their field agents who disappeared over the centuries and were presumed lost.

Hence lay the most difficult part. Doing the mundane tasks the human way proved challenging for a being who relied on miracles for their whole existence. In the beginning Beelzebub struggled with completing banal acts like crossing the road without being honked at, operating an elevator or fixing the faulty faucet. Blending in with the humans was harder too if you just couldn’t miracle away any inconveniences, make humans not to notice any irregularities and make them forget their suspicions. The police has already stopped several times because their new neighbours called them and they certainly didn’t settle in any uppity neighbourhood. They smelled bad, they wore weird goth clothing, they must be dealing drugs and be generally up to no good. And they didn’t pay their rent. Yes, figuring how to pay for stuff when they couldn’t simply miracle up the correct amount of the currency or make people forget that money was owed was a bit of a bother. Beelzebub as a demon required very little. They didn’t need sleep or food to survive and they couldn’t get any of these pesky human diseases and exposure was no threat to them. Still they liked to have a roof over their head, some food and place to indulge in sleep. 

So the Prince found a job in another kind of hell. This time the retail hell. And then another. And another. Their shortest stint at a job was one hour and twenty six minutes. For thousands of years they were practically a ruler of Hell. It was hard to let themselves be commanded by irate store managers and get shouted at by entitled customers and coworkers who made fun of their speech impediment. Sometimes it ended with threats and on one memorable occasion bodily harm.

They had their current job for eighteen days and they were quite bored of it already. They no longer wondered why so many mortals fell into sin and filled Hell. What they would give for some distraction. But instead their life had become a routine. Work, the sort where they couldn’t torment anyone, more work, sleep and spending time in their small dingy apartment where walls were covered in mold, one broken window and never running hot water. Mostly they stared at walls and stuffed their face with greasy junk food. 

They embraced their own misery. They didn’t regret saving Gabriel from Hell. That was just fixing their own mistake. No their first mistake was going and falling in love in the first place. Experience should have long ago taught them that love wasn’t for a creature like them. They wouldn’t be in this predicament, they would still have their exalted position in Hell, picking up other useless demons weight and Gabriel would still be asshole in Heaven, his wings intact. And if they had to be stupid and fall in love they should...They should have kept Gabriel save. They should have chosen his well-being over their own self-indulgence. And they should have stayed with him.

Instead they lost everything. Their hard fought-for position in Hell. Gabriel probably rightfully hated them. They were stuck on Earth with no direction and purpose, waiting for a time Lucifer finds them and exacts his revenge. 

They were so wrapped in their self-hate that they noticed the approaching ethereal presence too late. Their windows faced an opposite building which was taller and too close and filtered too little of the sunlight. They didn’t notice when the grey overcast day suddenly became brighter and warmer.

Their infernal body reacted before their mind. The hairs on their arms rose, they shivered and sneezed. That was what tipped them off and they jumped out of their tattered couch, spilling the sugary drink all over themselves. There was a loud knock on the door.

Stupid. They couldn’t afford such a lapse in their alertness. There could be anyone on the other side of the door, but Beelzebub would bet it was Michael, here to finish them off.

The knock repeated itself, louder.

What now? Risk alerting Hell by miracling themselves away? But then again if the angel came with an intention to harm them surely they would have insured against such a obvious avenue of escape. And why would they knock?

Knock sounded again, three fast raps, impatient.

They had nowhere to run anyway. 

“Fine, come in.” 

The lock clicked and the door swung slowly open. On the other side stood Gabriel, looking unlike they ever saw him before. Instead of his usual light grey suit and a tie, he was dressed in light jeans and blue checkered t-shirt buttoned up to his neck.. In his hand he held a flower bouquet - white lilies - and he wore a nervous look on his face. His appearance threw Beelzebub so out of the loop they could only stare.

Gabriel coughed. “Can I come in?”

Beelzebub nodded mutely.

“Right.” Gabriel stepped over the threshold looking around himself with an obvious distaste. Beelzebub became self-conscious what state their residence was in; they didn’t bother to clean much and they knew Gabriel appreciated thing being orderly and clean.

Gabriel’s face shifted to the one of steely determination. He extended the hand holding the bouquet.

“What’s that for?” Beelzebub tried desperately to keep their cool. They wanted nothing more than to tackle Gabriel in a hug but the memory of his last reaction at seeing them kept them in check.

Gabriel’s face fell a little.

“Right. Well, they called it a peace offering...I asked around how to indicate that I have no bad intentions when I come to deliver  the message and this…” he waved his other arm around himself as it was a sufficient explanation.

Something soared inside Beelzebub. If Gabriel had no bad intention, could he....But too much hope could be destroyed easily.

“What message?” they asked instead only thing that made sense to them out of Gabriel’s ramblings.

“I was sent by the Almighty to deliver a message.” he said importantly. 

“To me?” so that was it. Gabriel didn’t come because he wanted to, but because the duty had forced him to. The get up, the flowers, it was probably jim misunderstanding human customs again.

“To you.”

“Deliver it then.”

“Alright, but before it, could we...could we talk?”

Beelzebub closed their eyes and sighed. “The mezzsage first.”

When they opened their eyes next Gabriel’s purple eyes were gone. In their places were two shining orbs glowing with ethereal light. He opened his mouth but it wasn’t his voice that come out, but a booming sound that reverberated across the universe, ancient and ineffable.

 

T̷̤͋̉̾ê̸̱̰̦̓̑̑l̷͖̲̱͒̐̈́̈́̅͒l̶̖̱̩͎̤̜͖̀ ̷͓͋̐̊̚͝͝͠ĥ̷̭͈̝͊̃̈́i̷̡͔̝̬̺̔͐͝m̵̼̊.̸̞͑̔̒̈͑

 

“What?”

 

T̷̤͋̉̾ê̸̱̰̦̓̑̑l̷͖̲̱͒̐̈́̈́̅͒l̶̖̱̩͎̤̜͖̀ ̷͓͋̐̊̚͝͝͠ĥ̷̭͈̝͊̃̈́i̷̡͔̝̬̺̔͐͝m̵̼̊.̸̞͑̔̒̈͑

 

“Alright, alright.” Beelzebub licked their lips. Light emitting from inside Gabriel dimmed but it was still present  behind his pupils. “Gabriel, I am zzorry. Zzo zzorry wordzz can’t exprezz it. You have every right to hate me for the pain I have cauzzed you. If you want to punishz me, you can do with me whatever you want.” to offer themselves so freely to an angel went against their every demonic instinct.

The light shone bright again.

 

T̷̤͋̉̾ê̸̱̰̦̓̑̑l̷͖̲̱͒̐̈́̈́̅͒l̶̖̱̩͎̤̜͖̀ ̷͓͋̐̊̚͝͝͠ĥ̷̭͈̝͊̃̈́i̷̡͔̝̬̺̔͐͝m̵̼̊.̸̞͑̔̒̈͑

 

“What. What should I tell him?”

 

T̷̤͋̉̾ê̸̱̰̦̓̑̑l̷͖̲̱͒̐̈́̈́̅͒l̶̖̱̩͎̤̜͖̀ ̷͓͋̐̊̚͝͝͠ĥ̷̭͈̝͊̃̈́i̷̡͔̝̬̺̔͐͝m̵̼̊.̸̞͑̔̒̈͑

 

“I don’t know what you want from me. What can I tell him that would do thizz better? I already zzaid I am zzzorry. I am sorry that I got him captured and tortured. I am zzorry that I was zzelfishz, that I loved him.”

The light faded to be replaced by another kind. The light of unrestrained joy on Gabriel’s face. “You love me? Really?” he took a step towards them. “Oh, Beelz, I was so scared...Wait, you said loved.” His face showed several emotions at once. Hope, fear, doubt…

“I love you. I ztill do. But...you mean you still love me? After all that?” They didn’t want to sound so insecure yet they did. Gabriel threw up his hand in what can you do gesture. Flowers in his hand rustled and one lost its blossom.

“But why did you leave then?” he deplored them desperately.

“I think we should have thizz converzzation zziting down.”

They indicated to the couch. Gabriel wrinkled his nose. “Why is it so messy? Can’t you clean it up?”

“I don’t do any miracles. Hell can’t track me that way.”

Gabriel nodded and snapped his own fingers.  The mess around the couch disappeared, the tears in the upholstery mended and Beelzebub swore they could now tell the colour of the carpet. He sat down and gave them an expectant look.

“I guezz you zztill don’t conzzume any earthly food.”

Gabriel dropped the lilies on the coffee table and folded his arms with a huff. “Beelz, you are acting weird. The Almighty clearly wants us to talk, so let’s talk.”

Reluctantly Beelzebub sat on the other side of a couch, as far from Gabriel as they could. It was so agonizing to have him so close but not to know if they could touch him.

“Alright. You want to know why I left? I left becauzze I didn’t want to hurt you anymore.”

Gabriel only looked confused. “But you leaving hurt me. I woke up with the trai...with Aziraphale and Crowley and they told me that you saved me and then left. I didn’t know what to think. Was what you told me in Hell true? Why rescue me then? And then disappear on me? Did I do something wrong? Was it Satan? Because I went along with his delusion  because I didn’t want to go back to…”

Beelzebub raised their hand to stop him. “Gabriel, lizzten to me. You did abzzolutly nothing wrong. It’zz all my fault. I lied back than in Zzatan’s chambers. Zzatan told me he will hurt you even more if I don’t. I had planzz to rezzcue you even then and I am zzorry I couldn’t do it zzooner, before….before Zzatan burned off your wingz.” Gabriel flinched at the mention of his wings. He paled and lifted one of his hands absently to his shoulder. Beelzebub knew they will need to speak carefully not to cause Gabriel too much distress. “I choozze to leave becauzze I knew that you will be zzafer with the traitorz than me. I did it to protect you azz I zshould have from the beginning.”

“That’s bullshit. I am stupid and even I can see that. I needed you. I needed to hear that you loved me. I needed you in my life.”

“You are too angel if you believe that pure love has some healing properties. I am a demon, my love is not pure. My love only hurtzz you. You are better off without it.”

“Love can’t hurt.” insisted Gabriel mulishly. Beelzebub almost groaned over his naivity. Hell was filled to the brim with people who hurt others for love.

“Gabriel, I knew that Zzatan waz after you weekzz before you were taken. Bezt thing for you would be to zztop zzeeing you, but I didn’t becauzze I didn’t want to give you up. Becauzze I waz falling for you and that made me feel good. How can’t you call that hurt?”

“Well, I forgive you. And you know why?” he nodded like he figured something important. “Because I love you. And people who love each other go with each other through good and bad times.”

“Can’t you zzee what I am trying to do? I am trying to be a bigger perzzon and give you up.”

“Well you picked a bad time to be a self-sacrificing idiot. Tell me honestly that you never want to see me again and I will leave. I will feel fucking horrible but I will go.”

“You know I can’t. But you will be in danger if you continue to be with me. Zzatan izz after both of uzz. You will be zzafer in Heaven.” when I can’t follow. 

“Just because something bad could happen is no reason to give up on happiness.” said Gabriel lightly, but his eyes revealed how afraid he still was.

“When did you have to become zzo bloody wizze?”

“Well, I have been speaking to some wise people lately.”

“You really don’t know when to zztop.You will change your mind once you get your witzz back.”

Gabriel cast his eyes down. “Beelz, I know things can’t go back they were before. I am not...fine. And sometimes I get angry and sometimes I get sad. But I know one thing and that’s I want to be with you. I want to at least try. We can start again. I want to work it out with you. Leaving the things between as like this, it’s making me miserable. Please at least give it a chance.”

“You don’t know what you are getting into. I am a demon. The rezt of Heaven won’t approve.”

Gabriel grinned. He was winning and he knew it. “I don’t know. The Almighty seems fine with it and that’s all that matters.”

“I don’t want anything bad happen to you.”

“And I don’t want anything bad happen to you. It seems we are on an equal footing.”

“You will come to regret it. I know you will.” warned Beelzebub.

“I got my wings cut off and I still don’t regret loving you.” 

They sat for few moment together on the sofa in a complete silence.

“Gabriel?”

“Yes?” 

Beelzebub reached their hand to him but did not touch him. They hovered inches from his. “Can I touch you?”

Gabriel took their hand in his. He smiled.

“Zzo, where do you want to zztart?”

Their fingers intertwined. He squeezed them slightly.

“What about right here?”

Chapter Text

On that particular day the first snow of the season fell.

The arrival of winter brought Gabriel unrestrained happiness. Winter inevitably meant coming of Christmas and if he loved Christmas when he was still in Heaven he definitely loved it now that he was resident on Earth. He loved the music, and the decorations, especially the ones depicting angels, he loved how it inspired people to be giving and kind to each other (Beelzebub would scoff that it also inspired rampant consumerism, but Gabriel didn’t let them ruin his enjoyment of the holiday). He also loved the freshly fallen snow and miraculously it had remained pristine and unspoiled in many places in the neighbourhood despite the best efforts of the car exhausts.

In fact if the long-term residents decided to pay closer attention they would discover that the things in their part of the city improved in many slight ways since the local archangel had moved in. It was now safe to jog on the streets any time of the day and in any weather, there were much more flowers - especially lilies for some reason - that seemingly appeared overnight and they bloomed for several weeks longer that was expected of them. Littering was fifty percent down and consumer spending was fifty percent up in the local stores. That it was good for the economy Gabriel read on the Internet.

On the other hand many things remained the same. Inconsiderate neighbours still blasted their music in the odd hours of the night when one had to get up early for work, no-one ever picked up after their dogs, walls were still being sprayed with graffiti - the one depicting the inferno on the corner of the street was particularly inspired - and as far as some of the older generation were concerned young people were spoiled and ruder and more callous day by day. There must always be a balance.

Gabriel and Beelzebub now cohabited an apartment that was perfectly average. Naturally they didn’t jump into the arrangement like this right away.

The first Gabriel had to deal with a fall out in Heaven. Michael nearly had an apoplexy when she found out about Gabriel’s visit to Beelzebub and in an epic act of foolhardy defiance that was whispered about for centuries to come she actually went to shout at God. No-one knew if she dealt only with the Metatron or if she was granted a real audience, but she returned unhappy and resigned.

Few days later decree appointing Gabriel new Heavenly representative on Earth arrived. And if he decided to set up residence in the same city as one former Prince of Hell and kept visiting them daily, well, he was just keeping eye on them. The rest just developed gradually, and it has been long journey. He still had good days and bad days and the bad days varied between being incredibly clingy and him not wanting to do anything and see anybody. But there were less bad days and more good days these days.

He wasn’t completely cut off from Heaven like Aziraphale used to be. He still visited frequently, to turn in his reports, speak to his friends and siblings and to check in with Svetlana. And they visited him in turn. Michael checked on him almost weekly and glared at Beelzebub whenever the demon was in vicinity. They almost always were. Gabriel had a feeling they enjoyed riling Michael up and watching them stew in rage. But he saw that Michael was slowly warming up to Beelzebub. He estimated that her loathing stares contained thirteen percent less of intense hate than a year before. Maybe his sister and his significant other will one day hold a civil conversation.

Meanwhile Gabriel fully embraced his position on Earth, doing his assignments with extreme diligence and did his best to spread good deeds in the local community. He swore that he would be the best field agent Heaven ever had so the Almighty never has a reason to recall him back. He founded the local running club, so the humans would get healthier. He took part in fundraisers and if the passers-by were suddenly inspired to be more charitable, well, that wasn’t a misuse of miracles. He directed a youth theatre at the local community centre. Currently they were preparing Nativity play and he enjoyed himself immensely. He thought that young Ty truly mastered how Joseph’s eyes always twitched when something supernatural happened, young Jeanie was superb playing him and Inez was simply lovely in her role of Mary. Naturally he rewrote the play in the way that he remembered things happening, ignoring the traditions and between that and his poor organisation skills - kids were less obedient than angels and rode roughshod over him - Beelzebub expected it to be hilarious disaster and couldn’t wait to see it.

Late in the afternoon Gabriel returned from long unproductive meeting of Heavenly Reformation Committee, a body established to make sure that everybody from the newest righteous soul to the most exalted archangel. Gabriel made a modest contribution to the committee by founding it, convinced other archangels that it was needed and then persuaded Aziraphale to chair it. His fellow angel was adamant he was retired and wanted to be left alone. Gabriel found an unexpected ally in Crowley. He reminded Aziraphale that if he wanted thing to improve he better take the charge. Of course Aziraphale got his revenge on Gabriel by making him member of the committee. The thing generated more paperwork and reviews in a year than his previous job did in decades. It was lucky that angels didn’t need to sleep. It had always left him mentally exhausted, just like now.

Gabriel left himself into the cold and empty apartment. Beelzebub was still at work. Gabriel suggested they didn’t have to work like a human; he could miracle any money they needed, but they muttered something about not wanting to be dependent on his charity. That unfortunately meant they were not available to distract him. So he decided to do the next best thing and go for a run to clear his head.

If Gabriel liked running before, he loved in. It was one of the things that Lucifer didn’t manage to tarnish. He hadn’t infested it with doubtful thoughts or unpleasant memories.

He took his usual circuit around the local park. He was running his third round when a young woman of indeterminate race, dressed in a overcoat two sizes too big and fluffy hat stopped him.

“Have a fiver?”

Gabriel slowed down and dug his hand into his pocket. He had no money on him but there was no problem to just miracle some on the spot, even though he heard Beelzebub’s voice at the back of his head muttering something about inflation. He handed the bill to the woman.

Their hands brushed for a millisecond and Gabriel yelped when spark jumped between him. For a short moment it was as if the earth lurched beneath his legs and he was floating in an endless indescribable void. He looked into the woman’s eyes and he saw shining galaxies behind her pupil.

The woman smiled. “Hello, Gabriel.”

“...Lord.”

Gabriel quickly thought back if he did anything that would made the God angry with him that She would come down to Earth personally to chastise him.

The Almighty sighed. “Relax, Gabriel. I am not here to hurt you or Beelzebub. I came to see you. Come and walk with me.”

They walked together for a few moments in silence, snow crunching beneath their feet. Gabriel wasn’t entirely sure he wasn't dreaming. He wasn’t quite sure when was it last when he spoke with the God, only that it was a long time. He wondered what made the Almighty appear now instead during the Armageddon or when...when he needed her most.

“Why are you?” asked Gabriel when he finally couldn’t stand the anxiety making a mush of his brain.

“You still have questions and I am here to answer them. So aks away?”

Gabriel bit the inside of his cheek. For six thousand years he was taught that the questions for the Almighty were unwelcome and frankly Gabriel had never found it extremely hard not to question or wonder over God’s intention. Still, it was now hard to break the habit.

“I promise there will be no repercussions for anything you will say and do right now.”

Gabriel pondered it for a few moments.

“Why?” he didn’t have to elaborate. Why did you leave me? Why didn’t you save, or at least warn me? Why don’t you love me anymore?

“Oh Gabriel.” The Lord took his hand gently and dragged him to a nearby bench. He followed like an obedient child.

“I allowed this to happen because I didn’t want to lose you.”

Gabriel was taken aback. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“You have to understand, in the last thousand years you have become arrogant, selfish, uncaring. Most of Heaven had become like this.” the Almighty raised Her hand to stop his protests. “Maybe it was partly my fault.” She admitted. “I was distant and didn’t guide you as I should have.”

“And for that I got send to Hell to be tortured.” Gabriel felt a bit angry. So it was a punishment after all. Gabriel accepted that long time ago. He could admit he was all these things the God just named. But why only him and not others if the whole Heaven was as the Almighty described?

“Now don’t take that tone with me. I didn’t make you to go to meet Beelzebub, I didn’t make Lucifer to do anything he had done nor the demons. That was free will on all your parts.”

“Free will is for mortals.” protested Gabriel feebly.

“Free will is for everybody who takes it. And you did take it the moment you started dating a demon.”

“Is that why you didn’t do anything.”

“I looked into the future and if you would have continued on this path, you would have eventually turned into another Lucifer, believing that only you know what is best, trying to rule Heaven and Earth and crushing Hell under your fists. Eventually I would have to make Fall, just like Lucifer. And I didn’t want that. Never that. I have to do something to make you leave this path.”

“And this was the only way?”

“I think it turned out rather well, don’t you? Look at yourself, embracing humanity, trying to change Heaven, having a loving relationship with Beelzebub. None of it would have happened without this. I am only sorry that you have to suffer for it, I truly am.”

But I still have nightmare, and sometimes my own mind makes me doubt my own shadow and sometimes I can’t stand to be touched, he wanted to cried out. But he understood what the Almighty wasn’t saying. There were other ways to turn him from the path She had described. It was just that this one was the most efficient with the biggest gain. Gabriel couldn’t really blame Almighty for that. She was a Being who let her own Son be tortured and suffer on the cross so he could purchase humanity’s redemption. But he could be angry.

“You are angry, of course. You are allowed to be angry with me. But let me tell you something, Gabriel.” the Almighty touched his cheek with the lightest of touches. “You were strong. You made me very proud how you kept your faith in the most difficult situation and what you did with your life afterwards. And I know you need to hear this so listen carefully. I love you. so. much.”

Despite himself Gabriel found himself crying. He sniffled a little and tried to wipe his tears with his hand. It was futile as more kept coming.

“Oh, Gabriel, sweetie, let me hug you.”

So Gabriel let himself settle into the Almighty’s embrace. Strange peace overtook him, one he didn’t feel for a long time.

“Can I ask for something?” he asked once he calmed down.

“Of course.”

“Can I get a rainbow?”

“I don’t think this is the same situation.”

“Please.”

“Fine. But only if you promise not to turn into a giant asshole again.”

“But if I do you have to tell me first, not send me to Hell right away.”

“Deal.”

They stayed like that for a few minutes. Despite the cold weather, Gabriel felt warm and sleepy and he felt his eyes fluttering closed. The God’s voice woke him.

“Now, we should try to do one of these mother-son bonding things. What about visiting one of these famed Christmas markets in Germany. In the spirit of the season?”

………...

When Beelzebub got home late that evening, they found Gabriel in the living room sitting on the sofa and melancholically staring at various holiday themed knick-knacks on the coffee table. Most of them were kitsch candles, bells, snow-globes, angels statues and other decorations. They will need to talk him about overdoing it with the christmas stuff, but maybe not now, when he seemed to be in this strange mood.

“Hey, are you alright?”

Gabriel smiled at them dreamily. He took their hands and pulled them to him. Beelzebub snuggled to his chest, enjoying the moment. It was rare for Gabriel to be this physically affectionate.

“I am OK. Great in fact.” he kissed the top of their head. “And I love you.”

Weird mood indeed. “Love you too.”

Beelzebub looked out of the window. “Zzo, what’zz up with that giant glowing rainbow that’zz vizzible even in night?”

Gabriel only smiled enigmatically. Beelzebub decided to let it be for now. There was always time for talking. Gabriel was too warm and soft and too comfortable to lie on to press him with questions now. Right now was time for cuddling.