Heaven and Hell

Chapter Two: The Fall

Gabriel was lying across the bed in the hotel room. His pajamas lay in a pile to the side. His eyes were open. He was perfectly still. He focused on his body, feeling a bright heat swell in his chest. Slowly, he pushed it upwards, breaking the nerves and tendons that contained it, penetrating the shell of his body. As it burst free, it ascended with impossible speed, through the atmosphere and beyond the ever-expanding walls of Creation. He took his heavenly form and looked around. His vision was decidedly better.

"Back early, Gabriel?" Michael was standing beside him, his wings curled around his beautiful – but nonetheless genderless -- form.

"Lucifer was harassing me again."

"Raphael told me. It happens to all of us. I hear he's been bothering even some of the lesser angels."

"Well, it's a bit more complex than that," Gabriel huffed, "Come with me and I'll tell you."

Michael began to protest "But –"

"No. Not here. Father will already have heard something."

They crossed the thin membrane between Heaven and Creation, still close enough to retain angelic form.

"His ears are less sharp out here in all this…" Gabriel gesticulated in the general direction of the centre of the universe, indicating the countless billions of energy exchanges, rotations, mutations, explosions and chemical processes occurring every second, "but I still don't quite feel comfortable discussing –"

"Just say it, Gabriel. After all, if you've done nothing wrong, why should Father mind? You…haven't…?"

"No…I've done nothing. But Lucifer's been active lately."

Michael laughed, "Lucifer has always been and will always be active. That's nothing new."

"He killed a man himself. A false priest."

Michael looked troubled. He said nothing for a long while.

"That's…not all," Gabriel admitted. "He wants me to join him…to be with him again. He's still jealous that I chose Father over him."

"Lucifer has always been jealous of Father." Michael said slowly.

"Michael, things do not always say the same. You speak as if nothing in Heaven or Creation has ever changed. We are on the verge of a major shift, and even we do not know exactly what Father has planned. What if Lucifer really has repented? What if…What if he comes back?"

Michael's brows knit together and he bit his lower lip. "If…Father welcomes Lucifer back…then…we must welcome him as well. As a brother."

"Michael! Perhaps you really don't understand, but I have felt desire! I have felt temptation as none of us were ever meant to! It is difficult to resist Lucifer when I see him in human form, his angelic properties subdued, his light contained and suppressed, when I can simply tell myself that he is evil, that he has denied Father's power, that he is something to be avoided. But to see him as he was before – here -- all his beauty restored…to know that he has been forgiven and to endure countless millennia seeing his light, and yearning for it, and resisting…all the while having no idea why I cannot simply yield as I once did and be with Him and be happy…It would destroy me."

"He is already destroying you," Michael said softly. "You deified him."

"I did not," Gabriel scoffed.

"You did."

"When?"

"Now. You said Him…you were not referring to Father."

"Don't be silly Michael. I did nothing of the sort."

Michael wore a distinct look of betrayal. "Have you already fallen so far? You're lying. And you deified Lucifer. You…lust after him."

"Michael, you're being ridiculous. You were mistaken. I spoke passionately because I love Father, and I am afraid of betraying him as I surely will if I allow Lucifer to tempt me further. He has grown powerful since he fell. He has learned to tempt beings such as you and me. How much longer before he can fool Father?"

"I hope that such a time never comes, but your very words prove to me that one cast out is never fully healed. One who turns from Father once will turn again. Go back to Earth, Gabriel. Go to Hell if that is your wish, but you are no longer welcome in Heaven."

"You do not have the authority to deny me access to Heaven."

"But Father does…and if you had any of His Light left in you, you would know that he heard every word you just said to me, and you would know that he has closed the Gates to you."

Gabriel pushed past Michael, storming towards the membrane. Within seconds he found himself facing the center of the universe.

"I am sorry, Gabriel," Michael whispered, his voice choked with emotion, "I wish I could help you."

With that, Michael took a step backwards, and disappeared through the membrane. Gabriel could no longer see it.

"Now," a low voice said from behind Gabriel, "Now you just try to tell me how fair and just and good our father is. Tell me that that was justified."

Gabriel flung himself into Lucifer's arms, sobbing against his chest. He felt the familiar featherless wings wrapping protectively around him.

"It wasn't fair…" he cried, "It wasn't fair because I've done nothing wrong. I haven't fallen! I love father! I love his work! I want to do his work!"

"Do you love me?"

Gabriel looked up into Lucifer's eyes.

"I…I do love You."

A/N - Thanks again to everyone who reviewed. I apologize for the long, LONG, wait between chapters, but school and my family ate my soul for a little while. But I'm back again, and you can expect me to be corrupting the minds of innocent men, women, and children for the rest of eternity. Please keep reading and reviewing, as your support and criticism is all that keeps my hands on this keyboard. Those of you who also write on here know how just the sight of that review-alert message can inspire new chapters.