A/N: This is my first fic without the Winchesters. 0_o But it's got Gabriel and Cas. And Lucifer. So hopefully you'll all like it just as well. Btw, thank you guests KAL, Paththatsclear, and just 'Guest' for reading and reviewing "Watch Over Me." :) And shoutout to 29piecesofme for beta reading and helping me brainstorm through some plot points.
Disclaimer: Alas, Supernatural is not mine. And lines for the first part of this chapter come directly from the episode, "Hammer of the Gods."
"Oh, brothers! I don't care for brothers. My elder brother won't die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else."
– Oscar Wilde
"Lucy, I'm home."
Lucifer rolled his shoulder, expression livid from having to pick himself up off the floor. With a deepening glower, he stormed back into the room.
Gabriel stepped forward, lifting his angel blade. "Not this time."
Lucifer hesitated, and Gabriel took the moment to glance back at Kali as he gripped her arm and hauled her up. She clung to him, maybe because she was weakened, maybe because she was grateful he'd come back. Not that it mattered, for Gabriel wasn't all that confident he'd see her again after tonight.
"Guys," he called.
The Winchesters scrambled out from behind the fallen table. Gabriel sidestepped to keep himself between them and Lucifer, reluctantly withdrawing his arm from around Kali's waist as he transferred her to the brothers' care. "Get her outta here."
Lucifer held his palms up in a fake nonthreatening gesture. "Over a girl," he sighed. "Gabriel, really?"
He only half paid attention until the Winchesters and Kali had exited the banquet room. She'd be safe, and while that may not have meant much in the grand scheme of things, it meant something to him.
"I mean, I knew you were slumming, but…" Lucifer's face crinkled, and he waggled his fingers in apparent disgust. Which was just ridiculous, coming from him, since one hand was slick with blood and his face was molting. "I hope you didn't catch anything."
Gabriel shook his head. "Lucifer, you're my brother and I love you."
The archangel relaxed his stance, yet Gabriel wasn't done.
"But you are a great big bag of dicks."
Lucifer's brow furrowed. "What did you just say to me?"
You heard me, Gabriel mentally smirked. Standing up to his brother had been a long time coming.
Lucifer started forward, and Gabriel raised his blade again in warning.
"Look at yourself. Boo hoo! Daddy was mean to me, so I'm gonna smash up all his toys."
"Watch your tone." Lucifer's voice was low, almost mild, but Gabriel heard the threat behind it. It wasn't that he was scared of Lucifer; hell, he wasn't even intimidated, not like some of the other angels were, not like Raphael was who covered it up with his own haughtiness over lower angels. But Gabriel had never challenged his older brother, partly out of deference, partly because he just didn't like conflict. And that meant Luci underestimated him.
"Play the victim all you want," he barreled on. "But you and me? We know the truth." He paused. "Dad loved you best." There, he'd said it. The big fat elephant in Heaven had now been spoken after millennia. It hurt to say it aloud. But, then, it'd always hurt.
"More than Michael, more than me," Gabriel continued sadly. "Then he brought the new baby home and you couldn't handle it. So this is all just one big temper tantrum."
Lucifer smirked disdainfully at first, but there was a flash of something dark in his eyes.
Gabriel pointed his blade at him. "Time to grow up."
"Gabriel, if you're doing this for Michael—"
"Screw him." In fact… "If he were standing here, I'd shiv his ass too."
Lucifer let out a sound of disbelief, and shook his finger at him. "You disloyal—"
"Oh, I'm loyal," Gabriel interrupted. And, seriously, he was gonna get a lecture on devotion from Lucifer? Hell, no. They began to circle each other. "To them."
"Who?" Lucifer asked. "These so-called 'gods'?" His tone dripped with disparagement, and yeah, these pagans weren't on the same playing field as angels, but Gabriel had grown fond of most of them. They were his homies. But no, that wasn't who he'd meant, much to his chagrined surprise.
"To people, Lucifer."
His brother shook his head, obviously unimpressed.
"People," he repeated, not just to emphasize it for Lucifer, but because the revelation seemed so simple and right after all of his resistance, that Gabriel couldn't help saying it again for himself.
"So you're willing to die, for a pile of cockroaches. Why?" Lucifer countered blithely, as though he doubted Gabriel's conviction. Heck, Gabriel hadn't been certain of his own conviction until this moment. Strange how clarity could come in the midst of facing one's own demise.
"Because Dad was right. They are better than us."
Lucifer leaned forward earnestly, his cavalier exterior finally breaking. "They are broken. Flawed. Abortions!"
"Damn right they're flawed," Gabriel replied, surprised at his own calmness. He'd lived among the mortals for centuries since fleeing Heaven, but had never really appreciated his Father's creations. Now he did. "But a lot of them try. To do better. To forgive." So much could be resolved if the four archangels could find it within themselves to do that.
Lucifer dropped his gaze. Perhaps Gabriel was getting through. Perhaps his brother was capable of seeing wisdom.
Of course, he couldn't quite keep his snark on a leash. "And you should see the Spearmint Rhino!"
Lucifer's eyes flicked up to his again, expression shrouded. Gabriel pressed on, knowing there was actually little chance of reasoning with his bumptious older brother, but he was only going to get one shot here, and had to time it right.
"I've been riding the pine a long time. But I'm in the game now, and I'm not on your side, or Michael's." Gabriel paused, and a flicker of a smile tugged at his mouth. This wasn't where he'd envisioned himself ending up, but it felt right. "I'm on theirs."
Lucifer didn't look at him, mind perhaps drawn inward in somber consideration. He gave a slight shake of his head. "Brother," he uttered. "Don't make me do this."
Gabriel responded with a sad head shrug. "No one makes us do anything." He was finally beginning to realize it. All this destiny crap was just that—a load of bullshit. And he didn't have to stand by and watch it happen.
Lucifer looked up, eyes uncharacteristically moist. "I know you think you're doing the right thing, Gabriel. But I know where your heart truly lies."
Gabriel's forehead creased. It was now or never.
Lucifer arched his brows and canted his head, as though he knew a secret.
Gabriel—the real Gabriel—inched closer from behind, angel blade arched back and prepared to strike. Just as he surged forward, Lucifer spun around, caught Gabriel's wrist, and drove the angel blade down and into Gabriel's own sternum. He gasped in surprise and crippling pain, pupils blowing wide in shock. His body swayed, and he latched a hand onto his brother's arm to hold himself up.
"Here," Lucifer whispered, holding the blade inches from Gabriel's heart. He cast a glance over his shoulder to where the mirage he'd been arguing with gave a helpless look before vanishing into vapor. Then he turned back and reached up to clasp the side of Gabriel's face as he choked. "Amateur hocus pocus. Don't forget, you learned all your tricks from me, little brother."
Gabriel's body shuddered, and he clutched desperately at Lucifer. He'd known in the back of his mind this was a strong possibility, and yet he still found himself terrified, his grace writhing in agony as the celestial blade lodged in his chest kept him on his wavering feet. He'd taken a stand for what he believed in, and gotten burned. This was why he'd avoided such lofty ideals.
His vision blurred. Lucifer gave the blade a sharp twist, and an explosion of blinding pain catapulted him into oblivion.
Gabriel knew there was no afterlife for angels. Though maybe a small part of him had hoped Dad had a secret place stashed away where the youngest archangel might find himself, or at the very least that the old man could be bothered to step between moments in time to say goodbye. After all, standing up to Lucifer had left Gabriel inspired to tell off a few more people before he bit the dust. So coming to, groggy and aching, was not at all what he'd been expecting.
He pushed himself up onto his elbows, grimacing as pain lanced through his chest. Glancing down, he found his shirt unbuttoned, torso swathed in bandages. That was…weird. If he wasn't dead—and he hadn't fully disregarded that possibility yet—where the hell was he?
Focusing on his surroundings, Gabriel found himself lying on a king size bed with opulent maroon coverlets and a brass headboard. To his left was a cherry wood nightstand, followed by an armoire in the corner. Thick velvet drapes hung over a wide window, and a writing desk of the same wood sat against the opposite wall. A few potted plants around the spacious room stuck out, mostly because they were all browning and wilted.
Gabriel carefully sat the rest of the way up, grunting as the movement pulled his wound. He reached a heavy hand over to press against his chest, and froze at the silver manacle latched around his wrist. A quick glance showed a second on his other arm, though they weren't connected by a chain. Didn't matter, though, because there were angel binding sigils carved into the metal. He quickly patted himself down for his angel blade; zilch, no surprise there.
"We-ll," he drawled out loud, if only to break the eerie silence of being alone. "This is not good."
He gingerly peeled back the top of the bandages to examine his injuries. There was a partially healed stab wound between two ribs, the edges raw and inflamed, though not leaking grace. Gabriel frowned at the lack of healing. Wounds inflicted with an angel blade took longer to mend, but as he stared at the puncture, he realized it wasn't healing at all. Probably due to the shackles on his wrists tamping down his powers.
Odd, he thought, for the stab wound showed some signs of healing, as though whoever had captured him had waited for him to recover just enough before snapping the power binding cuffs on him. How considerate. And Gabriel had a good idea who his captor/nursemaid was. He just didn't know why.
Shuffling off the bed with a wince, Gabriel limped to the window and pulled the curtains back. The view looked out on vast grounds, tall hedges lining a perimeter around a garden with pompous Greek statues and clusters of rose bushes. Beyond that lay sprawling vineyards. His wings flexed, the instinct to fly difficult to ignore. But he was momentarily clipped. He lifted his arms to examine the cuffs, and yanked at one experimentally. It didn't give under his super strength, go figure.
The door on the other side of the room creaked opened, and Gabriel tensed. He was vulnerable in this state, and it made him edgy.
Lucifer strode in, having changed out of his blood stained clothes from earlier. Too bad he couldn't change his vessel, because the leper look was really not a good one.
"Good, you're awake," the archangel said casually, as though he hadn't just stabbed Gabriel the last time they'd spoken. "I was growing concerned."
Gabriel couldn't help the scoff that escaped past his lips. "Yeah, right. You tried to kill me."
"But I didn't."
"Yeeah, don't take this as an invitation, but why not?" Honestly, that was the only thing he'd expected to come out of that encounter, aside from the slim chance Gabriel managed to kill Lucifer first. This…he didn't know what to make of this turn of events.
Lucifer cocked a brow, as though it should have been obvious. "You're my brother." He took a step closer, dropping his voice an octave. "I grieved for you when Heaven thought you'd died."
Gabriel snorted. "I was at my own funeral; you weren't there."
Lucifer rolled his eyes in something akin to fond exasperation. Of course, it was easy to be smug when he had the upper hand. "Will you let me look at your wound?"
Gabriel stiffened. "No thanks."
"You look a bit unsteady, Gabriel. Let me work some more healing on it."
He wondered how long he'd been out to begin with. "Or I could do it myself." He lifted his shackled wrists and waggled his brows.
Lucifer pursed his mouth. "Sorry, but those are necessary."
"I prefer to be the dom if we're gonna play with bondage."
Lucifer just shook his head and began to pace the length of the room, admiring some of the fixtures. Gabriel's gaze slid to the door, but he didn't like his chances of running. The place was probably crawling with demons anyway. He'd need to find a way out of the cuffs first.
"Why couldn't you have just continued staying out of it like you always do?" Lucifer sighed.
Gabriel drew his shoulders back and glowered. "You were threatening my family." The pagan gods may not have been his brothers and sisters, but he'd grown to care for them, and didn't want to see them die.
Lucifer whirled to face him. "I'm your family."
"You ruined our family!" he retorted, unable to contain himself. What was the worst Lucifer could do, kill him a second time? "All your fighting with Michael, your rebellion. Nothing was the same after you were cast out!"
Lucifer threw his arms out to the side. "Come on, Gabriel, you never bowed to Michael, either. Not like that sniveling weasel, Raphael. And you had just as much disdain for Father's filthy, mongrel creations." He shook his head in disgust. "Even now, you're not truly loyal to them. It's just a whim for you, Gabriel, like everything else."
Gabriel's jaw tightened. Just because he'd waffled for centuries on where he stood didn't mean his convictions were less than anyone else's. "Not this time."
Lucifer snorted and turned away. "I honestly don't know what's gotten into you."
"You and me both," Gabriel muttered under his breath, roving his eyes around his lavish prison. It wasn't his brother's usual, garish taste, and he wondered if Lucifer had chosen the location to appease Gabriel. "So what now?"
Lucifer arched a brow. "You're expecting me to torture you."
He shrugged; it had crossed his mind, though Lucifer tending to his wound had thrown off his expectations somewhat.
"On the contrary," Lucifer continued. "I'm going to keep you safe."
Gabriel's brows shot up. "Excuse me?"
Lucifer closed the distance between them, and Gabriel wished that he could have his angel blade as a deterrent again. His brother nodded to the sigiled manacles. "You only need to stay out of the way until the battle is over."
He snorted. "And if you lose?"
Lucifer's lips curved upward. "I won't."
"Riight. So I'm supposed to what, lounge around here watching TV?"
"If you prefer. But there is something I could use your help with."
Gabriel crossed his arms and replied snidely, "Remember I said I'm not on your side here?"
Lucifer smirked. "I remember. No, this has nothing to do with the Apocalypse. But if you're sincere in your love for our family, I'd think you would show some interest in this."
He frowned. "In what?"
"Follow me." Lucifer turned and headed out the door. Gabriel hesitated only a moment before deciding what the hell, and set off after him. He might as well get a layout of the place if he was going to plan an escape.
They didn't pass anyone in the halls, though Gabriel detected a whiff of sulfur on the air. There seemed to be a staircase at the other end of the corridor, but unfortunately, he wasn't going to get much of a look around, for Lucifer stopped at a room two doors down and opened it. He stood expectantly, waiting for Gabriel to go first. It rankled him to be treated subserviently, though it wasn't like he could do anything about it.
The room they entered was much the same as the one he'd woken in, save the color scheme was navy blue and there were two large bookcases instead of dying plants. Gabriel drew to an abrupt stop at the figure lying unconscious on the bed. Castiel.
He whipped his head around to give Lucifer a sharp look. What the hell was this?
Lucifer was watching him with a piercing gaze, scrutinizing, evaluating. "You probably know Castiel already. You always did associate with the lower angels back in Heaven."
"What did you do to him?" he snarled. Castiel was shirtless, his entire chest wrapped in a lot more bandages than Gabriel's was, and there were red stains seeping through in multiple places. He was sickly pale, as well, with a pallor that no angel should ever have.
Lucifer rolled his eyes indignantly. "I saved him, thank you very much. If I hadn't found him, he would've ended up dinner for some wolves. Or worse, if it'd been any other angel." He walked over to stand next to the bed, looking down at the unconscious form. "As for what happened to him, little Castiel has more pluck than I gave him credit for. He apparently carved an angel banishing sigil into his own chest and used it against Zachariah's minions." The corner of Lucifer's mouth curled up in what looked like admiration. "It made quite a bang that caught my attention."
Gabriel just stared in shock. Castiel did what? Was that his brilliant idea, or the idiot duo's? Gabriel suddenly regretted letting those two numbskulls escape the Elysian Fields hotel.
"And you brought him here…" he began dubiously.
Lucifer canted his head. "I'm not heartless, Gabriel. It's true, Castiel has stood against me, stood between me and Sam Winchester. But like you, he's merely misguided. I have hope that he'll come to see the light."
Gabriel gritted his teeth, knowing he was being grouped in there as well. "And if he doesn't?"
Lucifer quirked his mouth. "Then at least he can stay safely out of the way. Anyway, I have a lot of work to do, and Castiel's injuries are severe. I was hoping you would help look after him."
Gabriel's eyes widened; he honestly hadn't seen that coming. He didn't know what Lucifer's game was, and frankly, his time would be better spent trying to secure his own escape. But a glance down at his unconscious brother pulled at something in Gabriel's heart. Castiel had chosen humanity long before Gabriel had, and Gabriel might have given his younger brother a hard time in TV land, but they were on the same side now.
Besides, what else was he going to do?
"What, he doesn't get any accessories?" Gabriel asked glibly, jangling a manacled wrist; Castiel wasn't bound in such a fashion.
Lucifer shrugged one shoulder, and reached out his hand to hover over Castiel's chest. "Castiel's grace is all but nonexistent. Even if he manages to wake, he's hardly an angel anymore." Lucifer paused. "Unless he decides to join me, that is."
Gabriel swallowed, not liking the sound of either of those things. Unable to help himself, he inched closer to the bed and also held a hand over the lesser angel. Sure enough, Castiel's grace was barely a spark, and a sputtering one at that. Gabriel couldn't even be sure he'd survive these injuries.
Lucifer straightened. "I'll be back to check on you later." He cast a cursory glance around the room. "I think you have everything you need for standard comforts. Additional first aid is in the bathroom." With a nod toward an adjoining door in the back corner, Lucifer then turned and left.
Gabriel looked down at his younger brother. Given their circumstances, it seemed they had both dived headlong into something they thought would end with their deaths. Oops, better luck next time.
"Well," he sighed. "We are in quite the pickle."