"Thought I might find you here."
"You always were a good guesser."
"Well, yeah," Gabriel says, picking his way carefully up the last few feet of the slope before he flumps down gracelessly next to his brother on the ground. "All that Voice of God stuff. You can't have that much All-Knowing-ness flowing through you without picking up a few party tricks."
They sit in silence as the sun rises slowly behind them. They're at the highest point of the highest peak in this stretch of the Alps and the green hills and valleys roll out before them, still shaded darkly purple in the lingering dawn, but with a band of gold widening as the sunlight creeps down the western slopes. The air is clear and crisp and so clean Gabriel's lungs feel like they hardly know what to do with it.
"What do you see, Gabriel?"
Gabriel knows when he can be the playful baby of the group, and when his brothers want a real answer. And he usually knows what that answer is. "Untouched land," he sighs. "Purity. Beauty. I know that's what you believe is the best for this earth, brother, but why won't you give the humans a chance?"
Lucifer snorts and shakes his head. "They've had millennia of chances, and they've only gotten worse with every moment that's passed. This land here is untouched and pure. But how little of the earth have they not managed to get their hands on and spoil yet?"
There's another silence. Gabriel pulls up his legs to rest his arms on his knees and his chin on his arms. "It's not purity," he admits. "They don't worship the gifts He gave them here or protect the beauty of His creations. But they have other things," he insists, and there's a note of desperation in his voice that only his brothers have ever heard, because only his brothers can give him things he can't already get for himself. "And they can learn. You were the best of us all, brother. If you taught them, they could learn!"
"It's too late for that," Lucifer says gently. For all the infinite angels and cherubs in Heaven, he'd been an icon; he'd demonstrated and been admired, while Michael lead and Gabriel spoke. To his three closest brothers, though, he'd been a brother, and this hurt. He didn't want to fight Michael. He didn't want to disappoint Gabriel or to make him choose between them. But the Apocalypse was their Father's plan, not his, and Lucifer is as wise as Michael- he knows when he's just a pawn in a game, and he knows that with their Father as the player, nothing he does will change the outcome that their Father wants.
He looks over at his brother. There's a pinched, weary look on Gabriel's face that shouldn't ever be there. Lucifer strokes the curve of his back where his wings would be if he brought them out and Gabriel tilts sideways to lean against him. If he's bothered by the cold radiating from Lucifer's body, the chill present ever since their Father decided to be all-merciful to every being in the universe except him, he doesn't show it.
"The Winchesters are too much like you and Michael," Gabriel mutters. "Devoted to each other to an almost icky level, torn apart by doing something they never wanted in the first place and only did because they thought it would make things better for the other one. 'S kinda creepy."
Lucifer smiles. "I wish I could hear you tell Michael you think we're icky."
Gabriel snorts, then sniggers, then he laughs, and then they're both laughing, remembering the face Michael always wore when Gabriel said something off-color and he was torn between amusement, prudish reprehension, and remaining dignified. Lucifer throws an arm around Gabriel's shoulders. He strokes the honey blond hair a few times and Gabriel purrs, nuzzling into his shoulder. On the next pass Lucifer moves his hand down and places it flat over Gabriel's forehead. Gabriel freezes, then slumps into him, no longer aware.
"Tomorrow you'll go to the Winchesters," he murmurs into Gabriel's ear, his words echoed in his angelic voice. "You won't remember meeting me here. You'll talk to them, and you'll join their side, and you'll do whatever you feel you have to do." He clutches his brother to his side for a moment. "You'll do whatever you have to do to stay alive, Gabriel. You'll live." Then he lets go, and disappears.