Fandom: Star Ocean: The Second Story
Rating: R for m/m interaction
Summary: "He would like to say that he has hated Gabriel since the first moment he laid eyes on him, and that his feelings have not changed since then."
Pairing: Lucifer x Gabriel [heavily implied]
Spoiler Warning: ...for general implications of the Ten Wisemen and their purpose. If you have not yet reached the second disk or even the end of the first, I don't recommend reading any further.
Disclaimer: Star Ocean: The Second Story and all of its related characters and locations are copyrighted to the companies that have helped piece together such an amazing game. In other words, not me.
Author's Note: Just a bit of musing by everyone's favorite backstabbing Wiseman, Lucifer (or Cyril, whichever you prefer). This fic turned out a bit darker than I had intended, but it's all right considering it IS from Lucifer's point of view. As a side note, many elements, such as the timeline and character history, may be AU given the lack of information available at the time. That being said, I had to try and piece together some of the personalities based on in-game conversations and information taken from the Nede library files (as well as my own personal theories), so I sincerely hope I've captured the characters more or less the way they should be. If not, please forgive my fangirly oversights. ;)
Additional Notes: Originally written and published in 2003, now with minor grammar/presentation fixes.
He is beautiful.
With hair spun of bloodied silk and eyes the color of crystallized emeralds, it is impossible for any other to compare to his magnificence, to the perfection that he is. His skin is softened porcelain, his figure is all sinews and valleys of curves; the sunshine rejoices in the deep brilliance of his hair, while the moonlight contemplates the soft luminescence of his figure.
He is perfection, evanescence, with a will of steel and murder in the depths of his eyes.
And so Lucifer watches him, from between the shadows and beneath the pale moonlight, much as he has since last he counted their lifetimes together.
It is difficult to imagine that Nedian hands, with their imperfections and their natural clumsiness, could create an angel from a man, piecing together something so ethereal, so otherworldly. It astounds him even more that Gabriel does not acknowledge this, does not embrace his own perfection and instead turns to the beauty around him.
That he would forsake such thoughts and lower himself from the pedestal which he was made to stand upon makes the image of perfection that much more brilliant, and the sting of Lucifer's own inferiority that much more tangible.
He would like to say that he has hated Gabriel for this, since the first moment he laid eyes on him. He had been naked, then, vulnerable, surrounded by liquid within the glass tube that sustained him in between genetic alterations.
He would like to believe that he was not awed by this divine creature, that he did not press his palms to the warm glass just to see if the radiance from within would burn him to ashes.
He would like to be able to say that, some time later, when the liquid was drained and the body released, he did not lurk in the shadows of that laboratory, watching. He will not admit that the first glimpse of hair as scarlet as a bloodied sunset nearly undid him, nor that the first moment in which deep emerald eyes opened was the moment in which a part of him died and another came alive.
He will not admit that in that moment he ceased to exist and was born again, so drastically changed that even he could no longer recognize himself, or his position in this world.
Lucifer had once considered himself powerful, beautiful, superior even to those who had broken down his Nedian weakness and enhanced it to make him near perfect. Once, others had looked to him in wonder and terror, awed by the strength of his presence and equally intimidated by the power bestowed to him.
Those were the days before Gabriel, the days of both certainty and hollowness, the days when he was rivaled by none and desired by all. Those days held no threat to his position, to his superiority, and yet they were infinitely meaningless because there was nothing to solidly confirm his existence.
Those were the days of emptiness. Then came the "birth" of Gabriel.
Though still fairly incomplete, Gabriel far surpassed all who came before him, and all who would come after. Never once did he make light of the fact that perhaps he knew this, that he, too, realized how unfathomable his power was, or how blinding his beauty was, and for that reason alone he was already the most qualified to lead.
No one disputed this; Zafkiel and Jophiel, both more interested in strengthening themselves than in arguing against the appointment of a leader, were content simply to melt into the shadows and leave the limelight to Gabriel, who seemed to have been born to stand in it.
Rachael and Camael, programmed for purposes of espionage and information collection, did not dare to interfere with the decisions of their "creator"; if the professor had made Gabriel fit to stand in the forefront, then they too would acquiesce to this, as did Metatron.
Haniel and Michael seemed to know their place and did not object to the unofficial appointment of Gabriel as their leader, while Zadkiel – the youngest in terms of both Nedian years and experience – was utterly awed by his superior. It was not unlike him to simply stare for long periods of time at the scarlet-haired Nedian, and then to shuffle off to his duties hastily once caught in the act.
It would have been simple for Lucifer, then, to simply dispose of his eight counterparts; after all, they would only be hindrances towards claiming the universe for himself in the long run. Still, at the time, his wonder for Gabriel had far outshined that bitter bite of envy, and Dr. Lantis's words were still freshly imprinted in his memory:
"See him now, Lucifer. Watch him as he sleeps. He is no mere Nedian, dark one."
There had been a hint of madness in Lantis's voice during this brief exchange, as there had often been since the death of young Filia; it had become as much a part of the doctor's disposition as the fervency with which he worked to complete his sleeping masterpiece.
"He is a god trapped within the body of a mortal. Have you ever felt such power, seen such beauty? Yet the compassion that his body remembers will not be lost to him during his waking hour. For that reason… for that reason, dark one, you must watch over him, protect him. You once asked me what your purpose was, did you not…?"
Indeed he had; once, during the particularly difficult period of time after he had awoken from his own genetic modifications, he had aimlessly wandered the endless pale corridors of the laboratory. He had been confused, then, as to what his own awakening had meant; what was his preordained function? The only answer Lantis would give him in that time was that his purpose was forthcoming, and that he need only wait to receive it.
"You asked me once what your purpose was… and I tell you now, Lucifer, that he is your purpose. To you I give the immense task of watching over him, of making sure that he does not stray from his own purpose. Keep him strong, dark one, and shield him from those that would break him, for this world does not need me, nor does it need you or any of the others. This world yearns for cleansing, for purification, and needs only its rightful ruler. Keep him safe."
It had been difficult to give name to the complexity of emotions that this duty produced in him. While honored at having been chosen for perhaps the most crucial responsibility of all the Wisemen, having to keep so close to the blood-haired angel was much like keeping the sun constant company: though the radiance and the beauty dazzled him, there came a time when it was almost impossible to ignore the fact that Gabriel far outshined him, and so the brilliant glow came to burn into him a deep resentment born of twisted admiration.
The first time that Lucifer had lain with him had been purely out of spite, of this much he is certain. Long periods of closeness to the Nedian marvel had carved an even deeper resentment into the core of Lucifer's being; after a time he almost came to hate the startling redness of Gabriel's hair that contrasted so starkly with his own silver-white locks, the eerie brightness of emerald eyes that made his own crimson orbs pale in comparison.
He does not remember when he was first seized by the uncharacteristic madness, when the thought first entered his head that it would be so perfect to ravish the untouched beauty of this radiant seraph. He does not remember how long he held in such angered passion, how greatly his resentment for the other grew for making him feel so strongly even when he was not aware of how deep those uncharted emotions ran.
What he does remember is the soft glow of the candlelight in the library that night, illuminating the deep red radiance of Gabriel's hair softly as it pooled across his shoulders and onto the yellowed pages of a nameless manuscript.
He remembers the gentle crinkle of ancient pages against the pads of Gabriel's fingers, the intent look of concentration on his face as he soaked in the information word by word, phrase by phrase.
He remembers how that same brilliant candlelight that warmed Gabriel's features threw shadows in his direction, encased him in a sharp contrast of dark coldness and made him ever more aware of his own inferiority. He remembers gritting his teeth and clenching his fists as Gabriel rose fluidly from the research table and disappeared into the darkness between two bookshelves to choose another volume. He does not remember the moment in which he followed.
The rest is engraved in his memory, in his senses, so deeply that he has carried those beautiful invisible wounds with him ever since. He cannot forget the dull clatter of thick, dusty volumes as he threw Gabriel against that rickety bookcase, only realizing now that with the difference in their strength, Gabriel could have done away with him in that moment if he had wanted to.
He cannot forget how it felt to twist his fingers in those infuriatingly silken locks, to pull almost painfully on those beautiful strands until Gabriel's head jerked back against the shelf behind him. He can still recall the shadows thrown into Gabriel's face then, the steady, unwavering expression in eyes that glimmered deep emerald even in the darkness, unfazed and unresisting.
It was a moment of beautiful madness, feeling the bloodied silk of his hair twisted between his fingers and staring into pools of brightness that seemed to see through him, into him. It was not enough, and yet it was far too much; he could not allow Gabriel to surpass him even in this, to stare calmly back at him without the slightest hint of fear in his eyes.
He had wanted Gabriel, then, wanted him writhing and bleeding and screaming, wanted to break that impassive mask and desecrate the temple that was his body, wanted to mark him and scar him and to utterly destroy him.
It was that same madness that drove him to crush his mouth against Gabriel's, pulling even harder on those perfect strands of hair as he transferred the strength of that passionate fury into one unholy kiss. It had to have been madness that made him press even harder against petal-soft lips until they parted, keeping Gabriel immobile against that bookshelf with his own body as he bled his mouth with angry kisses.
He had not been prepared to feel the strength of the other's response, however, so occupied with drawing the blood from Gabriel's mouth that he had barely even noticed the gradual slide of hands up to his neck, slender arms locked around his shoulders in a desperate hold. The moment of realization had fueled both his anger and his passion; with a deep growl he had pulled his mouth from Gabriel's, momentarily delighted by the thin strand of bright red connecting their lips.
Then his fingers had twisted more tightly in those strands that seemed impossible to break even with their softness, and with blind anger he had thrown Gabriel to the dusty floor in between those two forgotten shelves, sliding against that beautiful body, meeting him kiss for kiss, touch for touch.
Lucifer can still remember what it felt like to take Gabriel on that dusty floor, encased by darkness and surrounded by forgotten manuscripts written by their ancestors. He can still recall the contrast of Gabriel's scent – rose fragrance and sweat – to the musty smell of those old volumes, the fluid trickle of Gabriel's tresses against his own skin, the sharp clench of slender fingers against his back.
He remembers the moment in which he first moved into Gabriel, driven by an instinct so feral and so wild that he had been blinded by it. He can still recall the sharp clarity of that moment, where the universe and all of its infinite possibilities had been reduced to the writhing figure beneath him, to the feel of his tight heat and the taste of his slicked skin.
It was not meant to be that way.
Gabriel was supposed to have struggled and clawed against him, tried to push him away and resist his bruising kisses. Gabriel was supposed to have looked at him through eyes bright with apprehension, turning into fear after the first real brush of skin. Gabriel was supposed to have fought him with every ounce of his strength, screaming in pained agony after the first unexpected thrust. Gabriel was supposed to have been broken in that moment.
Instead, when the stars in front of his eyes had faded and his vision returned to him, Lucifer was the one who felt as though a part of him had splintered and shattered. He was almost ashamed of himself afterwards, realizing how horribly wrong his intentions had been, and yet his first glimpse of the other made the dull ache of shame subside and melt into quiet wonder.
Gabriel had never seemed lovelier than he had in that moment. His skin had glimmered faintly in the shadowy darkness, still damp with sweat, lips stained with dark redness. His hair had come free of its clasp at some unidentifiable point, and had spread out in a crimson wave behind his head, bearing no evidence of Lucifer's insistent pulling and twisting. There was wonder in his eyes then, a softness that made the silver-haired man's throat clench painfully; even violated Gabriel was utterly beautiful.
He had sworn then that he would never again touch Gabriel in such a way, that he would never again let himself be driven to such insanity by his envy and his resentment. He would hate Gabriel in the quiet depths of his mind, he had decided then, and would not let that spite interfere with his duty to protect the other.
The second time that Lucifer had lain with him had been purely out of his control. He had not meant to pass the opened doors of the library that evening, and had certainly not meant to glimpse the two figures inside. Lucifer had not planned to catch sight of an overly recognizable head of scarlet hair, nor to identify the Nedian seated beside him as Zadkiel.
It had been purely a coincidence, a trick of fate, and therefore Lucifer was not to be blamed for feeling an unfamiliar flare of … something … welling up inside him at how unnecessarily close the younger Nedian was seated to Gabriel. He could not possibly be held responsible for hating the expression of shy admiration on Zadkiel's face, nor for cringing at the simplicity of their shoulders touching while Gabriel poured over his latest manuscript.
Therefore, later that night, when he melted against the shadows of Gabriel's chamber walls and silently watched the other man dress in his evening robes, he could hardly be blamed for feeling that now-familiar urge to make sure that Gabriel's skin was imprinted only with his invisible touches. If he had been thinking clearly he would not have moved away from the safety of the shadows, would not have moved toward the other Nedian and grasped his hips from behind, feeling heat rise from the point of contact.
Had he remembered his silent vow in that moment he would not have allowed Gabriel to pivot his head ever so slowly, and certainly would not have accepted the obvious invitation to kiss that mouth, still faintly bruised and tasting of honey and infinity.
The second time was not as feral as the first had been, for Lucifer's motives were different than they had been those few short weeks before. It did not make the fact that he was in Gabriel's bed any less wrong, and certainly did not erase the reality that this should not have happened, but it was inevitable just the same; the pull of Gabriel's skin was almost magical.
That night Lucifer's mouth traced the planes and valleys that his hands had uncovered the first time, using his lips and tongue to assure himself that no other contact had befallen the translucent skin since he had first marked it with his own touch. He worked to imprint himself onto Gabriel the second time, to permanently etch his scent onto his skin so that Zadkiel, or any other living being for that matter, would not dare to come within dangerous range of him.
Afterwards, while Gabriel dozed against satin sheets seemingly content with the world, Lucifer became even more disturbed than he had been after the first time. The anger and the spite that he had fueled him that night in the library had been missing on this night, replaced instead by a possessive urge that intermingled with the complexity of his emotions toward the scarlet-haired Nedian and made him doubt exactly what it was that he felt.
He fled from Gabriel's bed that night, and swore to himself that he would never again indulge in the simple pleasure of feeling silken skin against his, would never again fall victim to the urge to thread his fingers through crimson tresses and taste the other's mouth against his own.
The third time that Lucifer had lain with him had been the most distinctive, because it was Gabriel who came to him, all soft curves and entrancing murmurs. It should not have happened, and Lucifer knows this, yet in the stillness of his own chambers, illuminated by the dull spill of moonlight, he cannot imagine having had the strength to resist; the power of Gabriel's kisses stretches as far as to completely erase the anger, the resentment, the jealousy, and to replace it all instead with an emotion that he will not give name to because it should not exist.
Still, the memory of that night haunts him not only because it should not have happened, but because he should not have felt the things he felt afterwards, arms loosely enfolding Gabriel's slender form, feeling the soft tickle of soft red hair against his cheek and warm breath against his throat.
He would like to say that he has hated Gabriel since the first moment he laid eyes on him, and that his feelings have not changed since then. He would like to be able to say that when the day comes for him to betray his purpose for living, he will not feel the sharp sting of guilt, nor a gaping emptiness at the loss. Lucifer wishes that he could say that this has all been a part of his intricately devised plan, to gain Gabriel's fragile trust so intimately only to make the moment of betrayal that much sweeter.
He would like to say all of these things, and yet he cannot, because they are not true. He loves Gabriel as he hates him, admires his perfection as much as he resents it, and will bask in triumph the day he overpowers him, as surely as he will mourn the loss. For the time being, however, he will be able to pretend that he lives only to protect this crimson-haired angel, and will not think of the day when he will be the cause of his ruin.
Gabriel is beautiful. He is perfection, evanescence, with a will of steel and murder in the depths of his eyes.
And while Lucifer knows this, he can do little more but hide behind a mask of eternal ambivalence.
End Notes: Since I decided to use the Japanese names for Indalecio and Cyril [Gabriel and Lucifer, respectively], I also decided to leave the other Wisemen's names in their original forms. In case you're not sure as to who is who, here's a brief conversion: