A/N: So. The idea for this story first occurred to me at church a few months ago, which means it contains blatant religious themes. Don't like, don't read. The main ideas are what I personally believe, and aren't meant to offend anyone else. It was just easiest to work with what I already knew. As for the names, I tried to pull them from religious sources other than Christian ones, to keep a level playing field as it were. You can Google them for fun, because they give a little more meaning to the fic, but I don't think it's strictly necessary to understand the fic.


(He no longer remembered who had told him, but he assumed that the incredible commotion he heard had been his first warning that something was amiss. He only remembered that his first response was to descend into outright denial.)

"No," he whispers, shaking his head vehemently. "No, he wouldn't do something like that."

"But he has!" his companion cries. "Please, you've got to help me warn everyone."

(He almost hated that he couldn't remember who had told him. He was sure it wouldn't take too much effort to find the messenger and dispose of him.)

His next instinct is to go to Michael. "But I…I can't, I have to—"

"Please!" the other begs, grabbing him by the shoulders. "This cannot wait! You have to spread the word right away!" Forestalling another round of protests, his companion quickly reassures him, "Don't worry, Yofiel. Michael is already aware of the situation and is in a safe place."

He does as he is told then, putting away his worry for a moment to make sure that no one else is caught up in the chaos that surrounds them. Everyone he tells already seems to know about what has happened, and so he doesn't feel too guilty about abandoning his mission in order to find Michael. It surprises Yofiel to see that he is alone, walking leisurely toward some unknown destination. As he rushes up to him, Michael turns around and smiles at him.

Before Michael can say anything, Yofiel blurts out, "Please! Please tell me it isn't true!"

His friend's smile fades and he averts his eyes slowly, letting out a soft sigh. "You know I can't." (No, he couldn't lie, and damn it, he could never let it be forgotten either.) "It is true that our brother has rebelled, Yofiel."

"But how?" he asks. "I don't understand."

(And looking back, he thought that perhaps no one really understood why or how it happened, just that it had and that they'd all been forced to deal with the effects. A great part of him was glad for the rebellion, because if not for it, he would have never met a certain English earl. The other part of him—a less-than-minute part of him that he didn't generally acknowledge the existence of—almost wished that things would have turned out differently, almost missed his previous life.

Almost.)

Michael looks away for a moment and his eyes convey sadness and hurt and betrayal. "Azazeel has challenged the sovereignty of Almighty God. He has misled His creation, and therefore has proclaimed himself more fit to govern them than his Father."

(He wondered why he had worried about it so much back then. It had been so long ago now that he couldn't remember why it was so important. Either the traitors would be dealt with and He would start again, or He would acknowledge the indiscretion, punish Azazeel, and forgive the ungrateful humans. It was just that simple.)

Yofiel can only stare for a long moment. His breath seems to stop in his throat, and his heart is pounding. "What will happen now?" he asks when he finally retrieves his voice.

Michael looks away again, and he knows it can't be good. "The Man and Woman have sinned. They will pass on their sinfulness to their children. They will eventually die."

(Death had been such a foreign concept to him, then. Now, he just laughed at his own naivety. Death had always been a possibility, even for him, no matter how incredibly impossible it had seemed at the time.)

He is fond of the humans, and the news distresses him more than he could have imagined. "And then?" he asks hesitantly.

The expression on Michael's face makes him nervous. "It will all be explained in due time, Yofiel. Do not worry. He causes to be whatever He needs to fulfill His purposes."

Michael turns to leave, but hesitates slightly before walking on. Yofiel notices, of course. "Is something wrong?" he asks.

"My beloved brother, please stay away from Azazeel," Michael says, and quickly disappears.

He stands there for a long time after Michael is gone. "Yes, My Lord."

(He has uttered those words far too many times since That Day, but never in the same tone. He wonders what his young master would say if he knew that he was the second person to be called by that title.)

Later, he is walking alone, pondering what exactly his conversation with Michael really meant, when he hears a familiar voice behind him. "Do you hate me now, Yofiel?"

He stops in his tracks. He doesn't really know what to say, if anything at all, but part of him wants so badly to know. "Why, Azazeel?"

"Someone like you could never understand," he replies.

"Please," Yofiel entreats, whirling around on his heels and nearly crashing into his brother. "Please, Azazeel. Explain it to me. Make this whole thing make sense to me."

Azazeel looks him up and down cautiously. "Do my reasons matter now? What's done is done. What you should be concerned about is what the so-called Almighty God is planning to do about the situation."

He is hurt by Azazeel's words and he nearly walks away then and there, but he has always been a curious thing. "What do you mean?"

Azazeel looks surprised. "Has He not told you? I, and anyone who chooses to follow me, will soon be exiled to the Earth, forced to literally live with the consequences of my actions. But not before Michael cleans up my mess."

Yofiel says nothing, only stares at his brother the traitor. He knows he must not believe a word Azazeel says, no matter how much they have all always been able to trust each other. He also knows that he should run before he hears anymore, but something keeps him glued to the spot.

"They really didn't tell you, did they? Your Father," Azazeel spits the word out, and his tone cuts deeper than anything else could have done, "has sentenced Michael to death for my mistake. Your wondrous and infinitely loving Father can think of no better solution than to save his worthless earthly creation by sacrificing his most precious Son."

"Sacrificing?" he whispers.

"Yes, sacrificing. Michael will be born of a human woman, raised among humans, and will eventually be killed by humans. All so your God can save face and protect that filthy, disgusting, pitiful creation of His. Instead of dealing with me directly, he's sending Michael to die in my place."

(And even now, he wondered how the hell Michael's death fixed anything. Being degraded from his rightful station as the Firstborn and sent to live among humans, being ridiculed and derided by those same imperfect creatures, and being accused, sentenced, and murdered for crimes he had never committed—how did any of that solve the problem? Why did Michael pay the ultimate price for his brother's crimes?

Not that he cared. But after nearly six-thousand years of pondering, it should have made at least a modicum of sense to him. It didn't. He doubted it ever would.)

"No..."

"Yes," Azazeel repeats. After a long silence, he extends his hand. "Come with me, Yofiel. We can right the wrongs being done here. I know I made a terrible mistake, but I just want to prevent any other tragedies from happening because of my ignorance. There's no reason for what He is planning to do. We have to make Him see, Yofiel. Make Him understand."

Yofiel is still hesitant. "But I—"

Azazeel knows. "It will all be worth it in the end. Trust me."

"Why should I trust you now?" he bites off, still angry about everything—the rebellion, the humans, Michael, everything.

Azazeel smiles warmly and closes the distance between them by another small step. "I would never dream of lying to you, Yofiel."

(Azazeel was a manipulative bastard.)

"Think carefully. Should you reject the faith, even this once, the gates of Paradise will forever be out of your reach."

(And wouldn't he know all about rejecting the faith, as well as being expelled from Paradise? Of course, Paradise is only a paradise if one desires to be there. He has only one desire at the moment, and the hunger almost-pains he can feel deep in his bones assure him it isn't a longing for Paradise. There was no room for such a longing anymore, not when the yearning for souls consumed his every thought.)

"Do you think that one who was among the faithful would ever go so far as to summon someone like you?"

(One would be surprised at how deliciously hypocritical human beings can be, at how far they are willing to delude themselves.)

"I'll ask but once more: do you wish to form a Contract with me?"

('Do you wish to leave behind everything you've ever known? Do you wish to be transformed into something you will undoubtedly hate? Do you wish to be subjected to pain and suffering beyond your wildest imagination? Do you wish to play the slave to the utterly unworthy and never truly be satisfied? Do you wish to have your humanity sucked away from you little by little until you are nothing more than an empty shell dependant on lies and deception and hate and bloody-gory-death to survive? Do you wish—?')

"I do!"

It was nearly mid-morning when Sebastian heard the bell from the young master's bedroom ring. Ciel had left him very specific instructions the night before not to come upstairs in the morning until he was called for. The young master's portion of the beautifully cooked breakfast Sebastian had prepared had gone to waste, fed to the stray animals Finny had an unnatural affection for. It irked him that the boy could sleep through the better part of the day, and he silently hoped that he was awake before Lady Elizabeth arrived to visit him at twelve o'clock.

At a quarter to eleven, the bell rang. Twenty minutes later, when he was mostly dressed and looked almost presentable, the young master barked out an order for sweets and tea. By half past eleven, the two of them were in the dining room. Ciel was alternately devouring his German Marblekuchen and looking thoughtfully into his Earl Grey. When the cake was gone, Sebastian heard his young master take in a deep breath and speak.

"Is there a God, Sebastian?" Ciel asked him. "And I order you to tell the complete truth about the matter."

He smiled. "I would never dream of lying to you, my lord."