Title: The Man In The Long Black Coat
Rating: PG-13 for language and violence
Pairings: Brief Dean/Castiel, Crowley/Aziraphale
Total Word Count:
Warnings: Violence, some language, possibly blasphemous concepts,
Author's Note: A triple crossover between Supernatural, Good Omens, and the Lucifer comics by Mike Carey. Set during Supernatural's 5th season, and has elements of AU for all of it that's been shown so far, and will definitely be AU for the eventual ending. Set after the events of Good Omens and sometime between Lucifer #44 and #46.
Summary: For all their dealings with pagan gods and monsters from mythology, Sam and Dean ought to know by now that there are more powers in the world than Heaven and Hell.
This was meant to be a simple salt and burn. Just in and out, dig up the grave of the old guy who had been drowning young men like the one who had knocked up his daughter fifty years ago, and that would be that. As Dean wipes the last traces of dead flesh and goo he'd rather not think about from his face, making an exaggerated expression of disgust, he thinks he ought to have realised by now that nothing goes quite to plan any more. God, but he and Sam stink to high heaven right now, and there's no way he's going to get bits of zombie on the Impala's upholstery. Luckily they keep a tarp rolled up and stuffed in the back seat foot-well for times like this; it's a lesson they learned a long time ago.
"Do you think this is another sign of the Apocalypse?" Sam asks, inspecting his ruined shirt mournfully. It's no loss, Dean thinks, it was ugly anyway. "I mean, this is the second group in two weeks, though at least they weren't acting human this time around. More like the kind of zombies we're used to hunting. But I bet Death is behind this as well."
"Yeah," Dean says, not that he really gives a damn at this point in time. He's tired, okay, and he thinks he's got good reason to be. If this is Death's work, they can deal with it in the morning. Right now he just needs a shower, and its half an hour's drive back to the motel, and he can't deal with any of this apocalypse bullshit right now. "We'll think about it tomorrow, okay? I'll call Cas and see what he thinks." He wipes the blade of his shovel clean on the grass before shouldering it, sighing.
Sam nods, looking about as tired as Dean feels. He's practically swaying on his feet, so Dean guesses there's no question about who's going to be driving the Impala. He's just started to head down the path when he sees Sam isn't following him. Instead he's staring off across the cemetery at a point in the trees near the boundary wall, and tension is knotting his shoulders. Dean turns, his hand going to his gun instinctively before he remembers he ran out of ammo sometime in the past half-hour. He curses under his breath.
There is a man standing in the shadows of a laurel, leaning against the trunk and smoking casually, as if the whole cemetery hadn't been swarming with the legions of the undead ten minutes ago. Dean exchanges a look with his brother, a non-verbal question, you got ammo? Sam shakes his head slightly. Looks like they'll be bashing the guy over the head with the shovels if it comes to that. But so far he's done nothing, not even moved. He's just watching them, raising the cigarette to his lips in long, slow breaths.
"Fuck this," Dean says. "I'm going to see what he wants."
"Dean," Sam says, his tone cautious, but as he puts out an arm to block his movement forward the man looks up, smiles at them, and vanishes, quite literally, into thin air.
"Oh come on!" Dean says, throwing one hand up in a vicious gesture. "Fucking angels." As if their night wasn't bad enough already. They drag themselves home, and Dean tries not to think what it means that Heaven has managed to find them again.
Nine months ago.
Here is a lesson Heaven never learnt; angels gossip, if you leave them to their own devices, and you never know who might be listening in. Perhaps this pair think that they can walk into Lucifer's territory with impunity because he has a new creation to tend, not to mention the innumerable other plans he is spinning into his web at any one time, but they are wrong. Foolish of them to think they would not be overheard not a block from his stronghold, but they are Third Sphere, and their kind has never been known for their critical thinking.
"They say there are only a few more seals left before he is loose," one whispers to the other. They are squeezed into human vessels, wings constricted. Younglings who know no better. They were not around for the War or for the Fall, so how can they appreciate who he is? They only know of him from stories, as the Adversary, and then... as no-one. But ignorance is no excuse to the Morningstar.
"Lilith will not succeed," the second angel says firmly. "The power of Heaven is more than a match for her."
It is the mention of Lilith's name that stays his hand. It would take but a touch of his Grace to scare them off, but now Lucifer wants to hear what they have to say to each other. He knew Lilith, a long time ago. Without her, he suspects it would have taken him much further to find his own independence, but it has been half a billion years since he last saw her. It seems strange that she could come out of hiding without his hearing of it before, and if it is not her, then whoever the imposter is must be very brave or very stupid to take on her name. The Lilim would not take very kindly to it.
"I do not doubt our orders," the first says, "but this demon is wily, as you know."
"True, but we have the Righteous Man, and we have his brother, and you know the final seal cannot be broken so long as that abomination does not use its powers."
"I do not understand why we allow him to live," the angel says, sneering. "He cannot break anything if he's dead."
"The Righteous Man loves his brother," the other says patiently, "and he would not cooperate if we did that. Castiel has been given charge of them, and you should not question his decisions."
"Castiel is but a Principality, and he has been given the power of a Dominion! And Uriel himself I hear is as near as taking orders from him. I have never heard of such a thing, and why? Is he that virtuous a soldier? Are we not all virtuous in doing God's work?"
"Perhaps it is because he does not question our Father's wishes?" the other says sharply.
The Morningstar lets them go. He has heard enough, and this intrigues him. It is clear that the angels were referring to the sixty-six seals that once held him in Hell, before he took the metaphorical back door out. They are without purpose now, and he cannot imagine why anyone would go to the bother of breaking them. If they wanted to free a Duke, there are easier ways. But clearly someone is doing it, and this bothers him. There is always a reason, and usually one which does not take a great deal of effort to divine, but not this time. Something is off here, and he doesn't yet know what. He will have to make some enquiries.
Lucifer has had whole eras of the Earth to amass knowledge of every corner of creation, to have allies and contacts in every pocket dimension and planet with sentient life. With Yahweh gone, he has power besides to work with too. However it would be foolish to start asking around before exploring the most obvious option; the Lilim themselves. Though Mazikeen is not perhaps on the best of terms with him at the moment, their deal is square, and he is prepared to owe her a favour. Better than trying to ask angels, or lowering himself to admit ignorance to Michael. The demon in question is with her people in his own universe, as expected. Her brothers and sisters turn to watch him cautiously as he passes through their camp.
"Have you heard news of your mother recently?" he asks when he finds her, straight to the point. There has never been any need for idle pleasantries with Mazikeen, something he had enjoyed about her company.
"No lord," she says, "not for a long time. You wish to find her?" She frowns a little, visible only on the side not hidden by her mask. It is as he expected, but it would be asinine not to ask and thereby miss a simple and obvious answer.
"Not as such," he replies. "There is a being using her name, breaking the sixty-six seals. You may wish to look into it."
Mazikeen inclines her head. "Yes," she says, with no small venom. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention lord. The imposter shall be found, and we shall take great care in dealing with it." Her smile is cruel, and he likes it.
It will take a little while for her to make any progress, and in the meantime the Morningstar has many other things which require his attention. He will leave this with Mazikeen for now. It is not urgent, and it will wait.
A week passes without news from Mazikeen, and in the meantime Lucifer has tuned his awareness back in to the seals for the first time in several decades. It both worries and surprises him that only eleven remain before that magic number is reached. This is proceeding far faster than he had expected, which makes him suspect there is more to this than the overheard conversation led him to believe. It is not as if the seals are unprotected, though it is possible the chain of command in Heaven is somewhat uncertain these days. There was chaos enough the last time he visited. In any case, he needs more information, and since the Lilim have found nothing, he must turn to other sources. The rumour mills of Heaven and Hell are fertile gardens for gossip, and if anyone knows what is going on, the word will filter out from them. He needs only to tap into it.
The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley occupy interesting positions in their respective hierarchies. After the last aborted Apocalypse both Beelzebub and Metatron were well aware that the pair had something to do with stopping it, but as the actual act itself had been all the work of the Antichrist, it was impossible to find something that they had exactly done wrong. As massive bureaucracies are wont, neither side wanted to upset the status quo, and the whole business was quietly swept under the rug. Not forgotten, however, which meant they were left to their own devices for the most part, in the hope of providing enough rope for them to hang themselves. The most important factor, from Lucifer's point of view, is that no-one lower than the Seraphim or the Dukes actually knows any of this. Crowley and Aziraphale are free to walk their respective homes and talk to whoever they want. Just what he needs.
The Morningstar does not anticipate having to work hard to convince them to play along. He may not rule Hell anymore, but he had been at that time, playing his role in the end of the world, and he had seen the potential for something... unusual. An angel and a demon standing side by side against the storm, working together. A rare sight indeed. He has kept an eye on them, even after his retirement, and there have been some interesting developments since then. The sort of thing that wouldn't be overlooked, not when both sides were just itching to take them down for something. You expect pettiness from Hell, from Heaven it just proves a sanctimonious point.
Lucifer does not announce his arrival, but he has the taste not to simply materialise right next to them. It would be bad manners, not to mention – depending on what they were doing at the time – arouse a not inconsiderable amount of embarrassment and anger. While he may want them off guard, that would be counter-productive. Instead, he walks through the front door of Aziraphale's dusty bookshop in downtown Soho, London, ignoring both the lock and the 'Closed' sign, letting the bell jingle into the muted silence that all such stores seem to carry around them. Angels, he finds, tend to have a fondness for books, although Aziraphale's interest in prophecy is at least more useful than Meleos' collection, though he disapproves of any method of predestination on principle. Still, threatening the books will probably not be necessary in this case.
"I'm afraid we're closed for the evening, there was a sign..." Aziraphale's voice trails off as he comes out of the back room and sees who is waiting for him by the counter. "Oh. Oh dear."
Lucifer smiles, taking note of the angel's ruffled hair, open collar and flushed face. "I do hope I'm not interrupting anything," he says, looking expectantly back the way Aziraphale came. The angel blushes even harder and turns his head.
"Crowley," he calls, "I think you'll want to be out here for this."
The demon is in an even worse state of undress, which has the interesting effect of highlighting just how pale he turns on seeing the Morningstar. He manages to miracle his shirt back on after the second try, and stammers out a respectful greeting.
"I'm assuming you're here for a reason Morningstar," Aziraphale says coldly, drawing himself up to his full, if rather unimpressive, height and folding his arms, positively crackling with angelic energy. Lucifer has never made the mistake of underestimating him despite his less than fearsome appearance. He does not forget the angel was once a Seraph, and no matter how diminished his rank may be now, that is not power that ever truly fades, though it may lie dormant. Aziraphale may have forgotten what the taste of his full Grace really feels like, but given sufficient stimulus, Lucifer has no doubt he would be able to find it again. Even though the angel would be no real challenge, he has never taken by force what he could get through words instead.
"I am here for information," Lucifer says crisply. "Or more precisely, rumours."
Crowley visibly relaxes at this. He has always been understandably nervous around the once-ruler of Hell, and the Morningstar doubts that will ever change. Sometimes he thinks Crowley something of a coward, but he always manages to do something to surprise him. It is probably due to all the time spent on Earth, but the distorting nature of Hell has had less effect on him than most other demons he could name. "We can do that," the demon says thankfully. "I like to think I'm still well up in the water-cooler gossip, especially with the ex-humans."
"Age has its advantages there I'm sure," Lucifer replies smoothly. "I want to know about a being calling itself Lilith. Not the genuine article." His gaze flickers over to Aziraphale. "And a Principality turned Dominion named Castiel."
The angel nods firmly, still in his wary stance. Perhaps he heard about what happened to Meleos. Angels are so touchy about their belongings. "I'll ask around," he says. "The name sounds a bit familiar, though I'm sure he's not in my garrison."
"I'll be back in a week," Lucifer says, and leaves, slipping through the space of infinity into one of the doors only he can see, back to his own Creation.
"Shit," Crowley gasps after the Morningstar has left. "A week. That's not exactly a lot of time, is it?"
"Calm down dear," Aziraphale says, with a distracted air. "I have to wonder why he came to us. We're not the most well connected beings in Heaven and Hell, now are we?"
"Angel, do I look like I give a fuck? I just want him to leave satisfied, and with us in one piece."
"I don't think he still cares about the Apocalypse you know," Aziraphale says conversationally. "He didn't seem angry to you, did he?"
"It's Lucifer, Aziraphale; he doesn't go around advertising it like some of your lot. It isn't his style. You just push too far and bam," He snaps his fingers violently. "You go up in a ball of flame. No sodding thank you."
Aziraphale sighs. "There's no need to be so melodramatic my dear, I take your point quite clearly. We'll just do as he asks and everything will be fine. I doubt he can be bothered to waste any energy on the likes of us. And we can rely on his discretion as well, if only because he likes to have something to hang over people's heads."
"Well I'm not about to take any chances until the week is over," Crowley says, waving his hand vaguely to return himself to snappily-dressed normal, suit and tie perfectly crisp as though he hadn't dumped them on the floor ten minutes ago. "I'm going to stock up on holy water and holy oil. You should too, you know."
"Crowley," Aziraphale says in a conciliatory manner, but it's too late. The fallen angel has already spread his wings and is gone.
Crowley rather enjoys working alone, not counting Aziraphale of course, but luck favours the well-connected, and so he likes to keep an ear to the ground when he can. The lesser demons come in very useful here, since as cannon-fodder they have a healthy – or not so healthy as the case may be – turnaround time between Earth and Hell, and considering the only real way to get ahead in Hell is through a mixture of age, the ability to kick those weaker and smaller than you in the tender areas, and good old-fashioned arse-licking, the favour of the Fallen is always in high demand. But age is the most important of these. Stay alive long enough and you'll move towards the top through sheer attrition. Age has always conferred power in Hell.
The whole concept of corrupting certain of the souls in Hell into new demons had been mostly an accident, but it remains one of the most effective innovations in Hell's history. As Crowley often mentions in his reports – and honestly, he never thought anyone actually read those things, or he would never have said anything – humans are far, far better at the business of evil than your average fallen angel. They have imagination. Angelic stock, even with the influence of Hell itself clawing into their Grace for a billion years, can't come up with anything even close to their dizzying heights of nastiness. Or good, for that matter, but it seemed Heaven hasn't caught on to that idea as a recruitment policy yet.
Crowley's main contact within these lesser demons, those who used to be human once, before Hell dug its claws into them, is not quite your everyday rank and file grunt. They've known each other for a very long time, nearly as long as he has known Aziraphale, and they are friends, as much as two demons can be. He was one of the first generation, back in the old days of Ur, of Sodom and Gomorrah, when humans had only just developed far enough to be capable of choice. Back when Adam and Eve had only recently been chucked out of Eden, and he and his angel were still at each others' throats most of the time. Back then, everyone had to have a go at the torture business, just so the Dukes could find those with a real talent for it. Crowley hadn't exactly enjoyed it, but back then he was... colder. Angrier. Anyway, the man he broke became his protégé of sorts for a time, before he struck out on his own, and there's always been a sort of twisted affection between them.
James has gone through a lot of names, but he's been using Crowley's as his surname for several hundred years now. It comes in useful; there are advantages to being able to be in two places at once, including a healthy boost to his reputation, and as James works over in America in Sales there's no harm in the borrowing. He's rather used to it now, and it is after all something of a compliment.
Crowley hasn't talked to James since the Second World War, when Crowley was hanging around Germany making sure no-one had figured out how to use the Spear of Destiny, and racking up commendations downstairs for things he had absolutely no part in, and which in all honesty made him slightly ill, and which he tried very hard not to think about. James, predictably, loved every minute of it. He hasn't exactly been entirely truthful with the other demon, but then no-one ever is in Hell. Trust isn't a word his side are familiar with. Friendship only goes so far. Still, he doubts most demons are covering up fraternisation with an angel.
Anyway, James doesn't know any of this. He doesn't know Crowley tried to stop the Apocalypse, or about the Arrangement. He actually looks up to Crowley, believes everything that's written down on all those commendations he's received for things he was only ever in close proximity too. The Holocaust. The Spanish Inquisition. It's... unpleasant, but James is far nastier than he would ever want to be. Ex-human, remember. But whatever's going on here, he'll know about it. Sales gets all the gossip.
It has been some time since Aziraphale has been back to the Silver City; not since his last discorporation indeed, and that was centuries ago. He is expecting to be held up at the gates for some time while they check his papers, so to speak, but he is pleasantly surprised when the Seraph on desk duty waves him in, barely looking up. Once inside, he allows himself to shake out his wings and unfurl his Grace, sunning himself in the warmth of his first home. But there is something not quite right, some strange feeling or aura that should not be here. He frowns as he tries to work out what exactly he's sensing, but it is too vague to pin down. In any case he has a job to do; there's little time to waste. It is probably nothing significant.
It is not too difficult to track down Castiel's location. He goes to visit his garrison first of all, and finds no-one has been told about his role in the Apocalypse, which is rather cheering. Of course, all his friends are Second and Third Sphere, so perhaps the Firsts are keeping it to themselves for now. He spends some time chatting with Malakai and Tienel, a pair of Powers he had become quite friendly with after his demotion, and after the usual gossip and catching up, he gets them round to the topic at hand.
"Castiel," Malakai says thoughtfully. "I think I know that name. Yes, I recognise it from one of the reports. He's up to something important, so I hear. One of... Her garrison." He looks half-disgusted, half-pitiful. Aziraphale is immediately concerned.
"Her?" he asks. "What are you talking about?"
"Anael," Malakai says. "She chose to Fall some time ago. Of course you wouldn't know, you haven't exactly been keeping in touch." He gives Aziraphale a reproachful look, not that he notices it. There's a kind of white noise filling his head. Shock, he thinks dully. Anael... she is – was – one of the Seven, the Archangels who were Firstborn, who sit at the foot of their Father's throne. It is practically inconceivable that she should Fall.
"What?" he says aloud. "But... how?"
"No-one knows," Tienel says. "She wanted to become a human they say, though how true that is..."
There must be more to the story than that, Aziraphale thinks, pulling himself together. He has a task to do here, and he shouldn't let any news, no matter how bad, put him off from it. And perhaps Castiel will know more, if he was under her command. He can ask.
"You say Castiel was in her garrison?"
Malakai nods. "They put Zachariah in charge in the meantime. They've been given some sort of important task to do, down on Earth. I don't suppose you've heard anything? I mean you're down there all the time..."
"No, I'm sorry," Aziraphale replies, smiling tightly. "But if I hear anything, I promise I'll pass the word along."
"Thank you brother," Tienel says, stepping forward to hug him, their wings touching softly. "I hope you find what you're looking for."
"Do pop in from time to time," Malakai tells him. Aziraphale waves goodbye to them as he stretches his wings and takes to the air. They have a point. He does have friends in Heaven, for all that they would probably shun him or worse if they knew everything he was up to on Earth, and he shouldn't neglect them.
Anael's garrison is not far away from Raphael's, but Aziraphale is becoming very aware of the amount of time he spends in the Silver City. It does not pass at the same speed as on Earth, though unlike Hell, it is faster, not slower. He has only been here for a short while, but it must have been several days on Earth at least, and Lucifer only gave him a week. He enters the tall building, his footsteps echoing on the marbled floor of the atrium. There aren't many angels about, and the board behind the reception desk has about half the flags flipped down to show the relevant names are on Earth. He pauses when he sees the blank spaces where some names have been removed altogether. Whatever is going on, his brothers are dying for it.
"Hello," he says to the Power behind the desk, trying for jolly but falling flat. "I'm looking for Castiel."
"Earth," the angel says, not looking up from his paperwork.
"Um, yes," Aziraphale says, "but I was hoping to be a bit more specific than that."
The Power looks up, sighs, and slides a form towards him. "If you've been requisitioned for Seal duty you need to speak to Uriel. Fill this out please."
"Oh, no, no," he stammers, shaking his head. "No, I just needed to talk to him."
The Power regards him suspiciously. "Okay," he says slowly. "He's in South Dakota, America. Sioux Falls. But he's very busy, so if he doesn't want to speak to you, don't come complaining to me."
"Ah. No. Thank you." Aziraphale backs away and leaves quickly. Uriel? He thought Zachariah was in charge of their garrison now? This is all very strange, but then he supposes that if Lucifer had wanted to know about it, there must be something going on. But what? Ah well, he has Castiel's location now, and perhaps then things will become a little clearer.
Castiel, when he finds him, is keeping watch over a house in the middle of a scrap-yard. It's in one of the quieter suburbs of the town, and there is nothing particularly unusual about it. Castiel doesn't react in the slightest when Aziraphale alights beside him. He holds himself very stiffly in his human vessel, as though he isn't quite used to how it feels yet. He is surprisingly young; from the way the Power had spoken, Aziraphale had been expecting someone his age. Castiel is nearly a fledgling. He clears his throat, and Castiel's head turns, independent of the rest of his body.
"Hello brother," Aziraphale says brightly. "I don't suppose I could have a word? If you're not too busy that is."
Castiel turns to face him properly, gaze bright and scanning him closely. Aziraphale can feel the itch as it presses on his Grace. "I do not believe I know you, brother," the Principality says, narrowing his eyes.
"My name is Aziraphale, one of Raphael's garrison," he replies, a little taken aback by the other angel's almost-hostility. His stare rather reminds him of Crowley's; there is a certain lack of blinking going on. "I was told you were here, and I just wanted to speak with you for a moment. It won't take long." He smiles, trying to look friendly.
"What are your orders?" There's not a hint of emotion. It's unnatural, even for one of Heaven's front-line soldiers, which Castiel clearly is.
"Well, I don't have any, specifically. I mean," he says quickly, "it is quite important I talk to you, but it's not quite official, if you see what I mean."
It's as if a switch was flipped; Castiel turns his back without a word and returns to watching the house. Aziraphale feels rather put out. It really is terribly rude to start ignoring one's visitors right in the middle of a conversation. He had expected the other angel to have better manners. He frowns, and is about to try and get his attention again when he sees the scars. They aren't obvious, or he would have noticed them before, but they are harsh and ugly, marring the delicate flesh of his wings. Punishment scars. He is well aware that Heaven's punishments for disobedience have been growing worse – indeed he's lucky not to have suffered it himself, he knows that – but he's never actually seen the results before. It isn't pleasant.
"Castiel," he says softly. "How did you disobey?"
The angel tenses almost imperceptibly, and pulls his wings in to his body as tight as they will go. "It is immaterial," he replies coldly. "I was foolish. I should not have questioned Father's will, or the rightness of what we are doing here."
Aziraphale would give anything to be able to help him, but these scars, both mental and physical, will not fade. That's rather the point. The scars are a mark of shame for the rest of the Host to see. It's no wonder Castiel is acting like this, with the things that have been done to him in the name of... what? What is going on here?
He doesn't want to make Castiel talk when his wounds must still be so fresh, but knowing what Heaven is doing is important. He can see that now, there is something very wrong undercutting all this, it's no wonder Lucifer was interested. He sidesteps the topic for now.
"I heard Uriel was on Earth as well," he begins cautiously.
"He was." Past tense, the words drop like stones into the silent night. Castiel still doesn't look at him. "He is dead."
"What?" He can't quite process it, at first. Death is almost a foreign concept to angels; discorporation doesn't count, and it's not easy to kill them. But an Archangel, one of the Seven, God's favoured children... This sort of thing just doesn't happen. Not since the war... Not ever, for one of Heaven's Generals. And on top of what he was told about Anael... "But... how?"
"He disobeyed. Anna- Anael's blade made the stroke, but it was our Father's will."
Aziraphale rather feels like he needs to sit down. A cup of tea, that's what he needs. Some biscuits. Something to take his mind off... this. It's unbelievable, it's so very, very wrong, he can't... Did Lucifer know this, when he sent him off on this mission? Is this some barbed punishment of his, to have him find out these things in this way? He sinks down onto the hood of one of the rusting cars packed into the scrap-yard, burying his face in his hands. It's not even as if he ever had any particular fondness for Uriel, but he was still one of his brothers, one of the brightest, one of the firstborn. And yet Castiel seems not to care. Unless that's just the re-education working on him
"But, wait," he says, realising something. "You said Anael? I thought she had Fallen?"
"She had. She regained her Grace."
Aziraphale runs one hand through his hair, trying to get his whirling thoughts under some measure of control. He needs to talk to Crowley. He needs to work out the bigger picture here. "I'm sorry," he says, "I'm sorry, I have to go."
As he takes flight, he's not even sure if Castiel notices him leave.
Crowley has been lounging around James' rather nice home for three days now, and he still hasn't managed to get the details on the big plan out of him. This is not to say he hasn't found out a lot – as it turns out, James is working for the being passing itself off as Lilith, although of course he isn't aware that she is an imposter. He's acting undeniably smug with the power of knowledge and being in someone's inner circle for once, even though Crowley hasn't let on exactly how much he doesn't know. At least James wears his smugness well. Crowley taught him well, back in the day. They are quite similar, in many ways. It's just that that particular emotion is not very helpful right now.
So far he has managed to discover the following, all without admitting he didn't know in the first place of course; that Azazel, fallen angel of Nephilim fame had been going around feeding his blood to children from seriously heavy-duty vessel bloodlines, and is now permanently out of commission due to a head-shot from the infamous – and Crowley had thought up till now, mythical – Colt; that one of those kids had been the brother of the Righteous Man; that the fake-Lilith is working on breaking the 66 seals, though he's not entirely clear on what those are; and that the last of these is due to be broken in four days, the day after Lucifer's deadline runs due. The problem now is getting any more out of him without being too obvious about it. Idle gossip is one thing, but this stuff is the big-time. Crowley can't say he didn't know about it and keep any kind of credibility.
In the mean time, he has to put up with a steady diet of scotch, which he has never been very keen on, a distinct lack of decent food, and an inexorable loop of Nazi rallies, genocide, and snuff porn on a TV which is half a bloody inch bigger than the one in his own apartment. It's all very tiresome and not at all to his taste. He sometimes wishes the damn camera hadn't been invented. Still, without it, he would never have come up with reality TV. He's very proud of reality TV.
"Tell me some more about this Righteous Man," he says, looking over his shoulder to make sure James isn't watching too closely when he transforms the whiskey into a rather nice white wine. "I still can't quite believe he lasted thirty years at Alistair's hands."
"It is an extraordinary achievement," James smirks, turning the music down. "But after he broke, now, that was glorious. He has a talent for it, a certain... imagination. Normally they're so squeamish about the first couple, they have to be reminded why they got off the rack in the first place, but not Winchester. Alistair started him off on some real bastards, I must admit, but even so, he just dug right in." He makes a rather illustrative gesture. "The 'Best Of' Tapes were a real hit downstairs. I'd let you borrow my set, but I think I lent them to Ishtar."
"So much for the righteousness of the Righteous Man." Crowley smirks, fanning himself with the edge of one wing. James likes to keep his house hot – as Hell, if you'll pardon the cliché – not to mention his protégé has always been fascinated by his wings. It's a popular kink in ex-humans. But of course, they are demons, so the appeal is more in the delicious possibilities for violence that can be inflicted on their more tender parts. His friend is watching them right now with a kind of awe and hunger; obviously he's thinking about it. Crowley might worry if he thought the lesser demon was actually capable of taking him in a fight, sexual or otherwise, but they've proved in the past that's not so. He stretches out the pinions so the butter-gold feathers gleam in the light of the fire.
"Satan knows, the angels don't seem to mind what he did down there," James says, sounding mildly distracted.
"Castiel and Uriel. They're pulling out all the stops up there if they're sending down one of the Seven."
"A dead Archangel now," James says, with a small laugh, sipping his scotch. Crowley can't prevent surprise and shock showing on his face for a moment before he manages to suppress it. But clearly he can't ask for more details, this is obviously one of those things he should have known. He needs to talk to Aziraphale about this. That kind of casualty... it can't have gone unnoticed in the Silver City.
"Is Lilith letting you help with the final seal?" he asks instead. His protégé shakes his head.
"Ruby's with Sam Winchester, more's the pity." He sighs. "I would have loved to be the one feeding him my blood, though I doubt he'd be so keen on the violent sex from me." His lips quirk in a wry smile. "No, I'm just sitting here on the sidelines, guarding the Colt."
"Oh, so you're the one who has it," Crowley says, raising an eyebrow, though his thoughts are whirling behind his otherwise calm facade. He hadn't mentioned blood before, or not in the present tense, and that... well, that's just dangerous. It might not be as potent as Azazel's blood, not being of angelic origin, but it's still edging dangerously close to Nephelim territory. What are these guys playing at?
James meanwhile is smug with pride. And he's probably justified, considering Crowley had thought the gun wasn't real not too long ago. "Yes, I have it," he says. "Would you like to take a look?"
Crowley waves him off. "Perhaps later." He gives his friend a long look, yellow eyes glinting. "Anyway James, it's crass to boast," he says, poking fun lightly. James is about to reply when they both feel a presence touch against the angel-proof wards that mark the edges of the demon's property, and it's one which he knows. Aziraphale. Handy, since he does need to talk to him, but he's not sure why his angel came looking for him. They're going to meet up in a few days anyway.
James is just starting to get up. "Won't be a moment Anthony," he says cheerfully. "I've got a nice, agonising set of Enochian curses I've been saving up for an opportunity like this." His smile is cheerful and not a little bloodthirsty. Crowley is not pleased.
"No, no, I'll deal with it," he says hastily, springing to his feet. "Wouldn't want you to waste your resources when I can deal with the problem for you. I could do with the taste of angel on my tongue anyway. It's been a while." He grins, enjoying the innuendo. He knows his friend will take it to mean blood, not other, more pleasant, substances.
James looks disappointed, but he's not about to protest. "Guests first," he says graciously. "I'll watch."
Crowley tuts mock-anxiously. "You're possessing that body, James, and I would hate for you to lose the meat-suit if things get out of hand. You've had it for long enough that it must hold some sentimental value, at least."
James sits back down and gestures to the door languidly. "Oh, go ahead then."
Crowley smiles at him. "Don't worry, I'll let you get your chance next time."
Lucifer has been keeping a careful eye on Creation since Yahweh left, and without the Name to anchor reality, the instability is continuing to get worse. He has not yet decided what, if anything, he is going to do about it. The collapse of this Creation will not affect his own realm, and he does not owe anything to it or the beings that inhabit it. He may yet open his doors and let the refugees flee to him, but it is a possibility that will wait for him to consider. His generosity is not endless, and the disadvantages of doing so may outweigh the meagre benefits. If they wish to blame anyone, blame his Father.
In the meantime, he only intends to prevent any other beings from taking Yahweh's throne and assuming the vacuum of power that has been left behind. The only two who have the right to sit upon it are Michael and himself, and as his brother refuses it, and he could only take it with a fight he judges not worth the cost, it must remain empty. If they cannot have it, certainly no-one else will.
But for now he has the current problem to deal with. The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley are due to report back to him soon, after which he is sure that any real threat can be taken care of swiftly by himself or with Michael's aid, if it is serious. Not that he is overconfident – he has learnt after the confrontation with the Titans that this would be a mistake – but he knows the limits of his own abilities, and the same trick never works twice.
The wards on Aziraphale's bookshop have been strengthened since his last visit, as he expected, but he is not so easily kept out. He makes himself at home in the back room, reclining on a frankly hideous tartan couch, and settles down to wait. Patience comes easily to immortals as ancient as he; indeed, for most of them, it is being required to act quickly in the face of a threat that poses a problem. In contrast, fledglings and the like have no patience at all.
The Morningstar spends several hours in silence and peaceful contemplation, watching the metaphysical fabric of the surrounding area of the city carelessly unravelling without the Name to hold it together. It is not yet at a stage where there is cause to worry, but he wouldn't give it more than five years, and that at a stretch. It is helped a little by the slight stabilising effect of Aziraphale's own presence, which has worked its way into the warp and weft of reality after so many centuries. Angels still possess something of the divine Essence about them.
When Aziraphale eventually returns, he brings Crowley with him, and he has a general aura of worry and disturbance about him that does not seem to be solely due to Lucifer's presence. The pair notice him as soon as they arrive, fluttering through space-time on silent wings, and are immediately wary. Aziraphale bustles about making tea, which the Morningstar suspects is an anti-stress mechanism, while Crowley leans against the doorframe and keeps a careful eye on him. Their fear and distrust amuses him slightly. While he would think them fools if they actually trusted him, he holds no particular malice towards them. He would not have them come to harm while they are still useful to him.
Aziraphale puts a tray down on the table and sits down on the equally fashion-challenged, equally tartan sofa opposite him. There are three cups on the tray, a bowl of sugar cubes and a packet of chocolate chip cookies from Mark's & Spencer's. The angel has become painfully native, Lucifer notes, with a sort of internal sigh. There is something crass about stooping to such a human level. Blending in is all very well if one intends to make a permanent habitation on Earth, but there are lines one really ought not cross. Or at the very least, try to keep some sense of style. Crowley seems to manage.
"What did you discover?" he asks, ignoring the cup of tea Aziraphale leaves by his elbow, balancing miraculously in a precarious position on the arm of the couch.
Aziraphale sighs. "Uriel is dead," he says quietly, looking at the floor and clutching his teacup. "and Anael has Fallen, or something like it. Apparently he disobeyed somehow, and so she killed him. But the whole thing is being hushed up." He glances up with unmistakable anger. "No-one I spoke to even knew one of the Seven was dead. Only Castiel, and only because he was working with him!"
Lucifer has to confess he's surprised at this news. He would have thought Michael would have informed him of something so severe, no matter how bad the enmity is between them. After all, these are his brothers in rank, the firstborn. Family, even if he holds no particular love for them. Coming as it does so close to the Seals breaking, it seems very unlikely the two occurrences are not related, and whatever the link, this business becomes more worrying the further he looks into it.
"And what of Castiel?" he asks.
"Watching over the Righteous Man and his brother." The angel looks uneasy. "I know there's a prophecy about those humans, but I really can't think what it is, and I'm afraid I've not had the chance to look it up yet."
"Prophecies are poisonous things in any case," Lucifer says, "but I am aware of this one, as it used to pertain to me. Before I left Hell, there were six hundred Seals keeping me in. In one of the possible paths that can be taken to the Apocalypse, sixty-six of them must be broken to free me and set events in action. The Righteous Man breaks the first Seal by himself being broken in Hell, and his brother must break the last by surrendering to his birthright, and doing evil though meaning good."
"So someone's trying to kick-start the Apocalypse again?" Crowley asks. "Well that's just great." He's taken a cup of tea in an attempt to look nonchalant, with limited success, judging by the way the china is starting to crack in his grip.
"Without my presence in Hell, it would no longer work," Lucifer says. "And I doubt Remiel and Dumas will allow the gates of Hell to open, Seals or no Seals."
Crowley shrugs and gulps his tea. "I know a guy who's working for this fake-Lilith. He said they've got a demon – ex-human – feeding the younger brother her blood, something about Azazel and the fact he's a heavy-duty vessel. I'm guessing that has something to do with his birthright?"
"Yes; corruption through blood. It isn't necessary for him to be a vessel, but it would make it easier for his body to accept the changes." It makes things a little clearer, but only to show there must be angelic influence somewhere in all this. As if whatever is going on in Heaven didn't prove that.
"He wouldn't tell me what their endgame was, and I couldn't ask without showing I didn't know what he was on about," Crowley says. "But they're planning on breaking the final Seal tomorrow night at St Mary's Convent, in Ilchester, Maryland, if you're planning on stopping them from finishing the job."
"It would be wise to do so," the Morningstar says. He doesn't like the picture which is beginning to emerge in his mind, but without knowing who Lilith really is, or what exactly she is trying to achieve, he can't be sure of anything. Turning back to Aziraphale he asks, "What did Castiel tell you of Heaven's plans to stop the last Seal breaking?"
"He refused to speak to me without orders," Aziraphale says, fidgeting. "I think... he said he had disobeyed recently, and he had punishment scars on his wings..." He gestures vaguely. "I doubt he'll do anything but follow the absolute letter of the law from now on."
Pain being about the only thing that would still a Third Sphere's tongue, Lucifer thinks irritably. Inconvenient. He has to wonder what orders the angel had thought so abhorrent that it would risk punishment. "It would be inadvisable to allow the final Seal to break," he says, after some thought. "And we cannot rely on Heaven to prevent it without knowing precisely what they mean to do, if anything. It is clear I will have to take action myself." He doesn't anticipate running into any difficulties there.
"We're coming with you," Aziraphale says firmly, putting his cup down and fixing his gaze on Lucifer. Crowley makes an aborted little movement forwards in surprise before he collects himself.
"What?" he says, low and angry. "Angel!"
"I want to know what's going on," Aziraphale tells him, turning to the demon, his tone steely. "Uriel is dead, and I want to know why. I want to know why it's being kept secret. I want to know what's so important."
Lucifer watches with a certain amusement as Aziraphale and Crowley have a silent contest of wills, enacted solely through glaring at each other. As long as they don't get in his way, he couldn't care less what they choose to do. As expected, the angel wins the argument, though Crowley doesn't look happy about it.
"I suppose there's no harm in it," he says finally, in as magnanimous a fashion as he can manage.
"Very well," Lucifer says, standing. "We should leave at once. I would prefer to be there in plenty of time." He spreads his wings and fixes the Name of the location in his mind, and with a flick of power and Grace, reality bends around them and they take flight.
He should have known better than to assume this was over, Crowley thinks miserably. It had been quite late in London, but here the sun is still shining, and it glints brilliantly from Lucifer's feathers before he folds them away. It is both beautiful and fearsome, and it makes him want to shiver. He should have stayed away, but he couldn't let Aziraphale come alone. The angel's sense of self-preservation can be a bit dodgy at times, and it's not as if the Morningstar will give a damn one way or another if he finds his way into trouble. No, Crowley had no choice but to come and keep an eye on him.
Lucifer looks at the convent, calm and assessing. It's not that old a building, and it looks in every way completely dull and normal, but there is... something.
"Blood," the Morningstar says, the word rolling off his tongue thick and heavy. "Old blood. Virgin sacrifices. This is the place."
"I don't sense anything off about it," Aziraphale says sceptically, and adds under his breath, "but I suppose you'd know better than I." Um, yes, Crowley would like very much to hiss at him, because he's the bloody devil. What the bloody Hell are you playing at angel? Don't be sarcastic at him you idiot! He settles for glaring at him and hoping Lucifer won't take any offence. He's not stupid enough to think he didn't overhear it.
The Morningstar ignores him, thankfully, and stalks over to the entrance, running his hands over the varnished wooden door. Crowley fidgets. The door swings open soundlessly, and he has to hurry forwards to follow Lucifer inside, Aziraphale right behind him. The essential holiness of the convent tingles on his skin, but the devil was right, there is a darker taint underneath it all, and getting stronger the further in they go. Something bloody. Something demonic.
Aziraphale looks about uneasily, and puts a hand out to touch Crowley's shoulder and pull them back a bit, away from Lucifer. "I can't feel it," he says quietly. "What is it?"
"You wouldn't," Crowley whispers back. "Your lot aren't very in tune to blood magic. It's like... a feeling of darkness underneath the consecrated earth. Lucifer was right, someone's been playing around with some very powerful, very nasty black magic in here. Some years ago, but it hasn't faded all that much. So... just take my word for it that the devil knows what he's talking about, okay angel. Because you keep bloody provoking him, could you just be nice so he doesn't decide to kill you."
The angel has the grace to look a little ashamed of himself as he damn well ought to, Crowley thinks a little viciously. "I'm sorry Crowley," he says quietly, "I don't really mean to you know, it's just... it's getting to me, all this... Uriel and Anael... and I just can't help but wonder if he didn't know already. It's hard to believe he wouldn't, and..." Aziraphale trails off. Crowley can sympathise. He's not going to suddenly start caring about the lot Up There just because a silly Archangel went and got himself killed, but once, a long time ago, they meant something to him. To all the Host. It's no surprise that Aziraphale isn't taking it well.
"I know," he says. "But you can't go lashing out at him, it's too risky. I don't want to see you get... for anything to happen," he finishes lamely. They have fallen behind a bit now, and Lucifer has gone on through another pair of doors at the end of the corridor. The room beyond, the chapel, is where the feeling of darkness is concentrated. Innocent blood was spilt there. Crowley is personally quite content to wait for him to get back from out here. He sneers at a saccharine statue of an angel standing nearby. "I'll be pleased when we can get out of this place. Most of it is still annoyingly holy."
It's about five or ten minutes before the Morningstar reappears. Crowley honestly can't tell whether he is pleased with what he found or not. Lucifer is very good at not giving anything away, and he doesn't exactly tend to keep people informed about his plans. It's very much on a need to know basis.
"Perhaps it is for the best that you came with me," Lucifer says. "It seems the best chance we have of stopping this is to locate the Righteous Man's brother, and prevent him from coming here at all. Crowley, I trust you will be able to find him?"
"Of course," the demon replies with a weak grin.
"As for you Aziraphale, since you have spoken with Castiel once already, you should be able to find him again. If he is still assigned to protect the Righteous Man, you may be able talk to the human and find out how much Heaven has told him."
Aziraphale looks at him with suspicion. "And you? What will you be doing?"
"Taking care of the imposter when she arrives." Lucifer holds up his hand to stop them as they turn to leave. "But first, I need to know everything you discovered this past week. Every detail. Leave nothing out."
Lucifer lets them leave once he's satisfied with their stories. Crowley is glad to be able to get out of there, or rather, get away from him. It makes him nervous and twitchy, and he just hopes they can get everything sorted out tonight so he and Aziraphale can go home and go back to the normal routine. Dinner at the Ritz and fucking in Crowley's appropriately decadent bed. First things first though, he has a human to find.
Normally demons don't have too much call for locating specific humans. If there's a deal going down, the human usually finds them. However, as with most relatively simple objects, for beings lacking the knowledge or the power to hide themselves all that is needed is their true Name. In this case, Samuel Winchester. Not to mention this human has a significant amount of demon blood in him, which ought to make him light up like a star going supernova in the fabric of reality. He hovers in mid-air some miles above the convent and spreads his sense out, searching. The human must be close, if Ruby is intending to bring him here tonight for the breaking of the final Seal.
And yet... there is nothing. No more than the usual background hum of humans going about their daily lives, the thin threads of good deeds and evil ones running like those sped up videos of traffic at night, clustered around the nearby town. No demons, anywhere.
It doesn't make sense. He ought to be able to see the human somewhere. The only thing he can think of is that someone is working to conceal Winchester from supernatural sight, someone who knows what they're doing. Ruby, he thinks angrily. It must be her, that's the only possibility. James had mentioned she was once a witch. Perhaps he should have expected it; the angels may very well be looking for the human too. But what now? Lucifer is not going to be happy if he fails.
He circles the area, gliding on silent wings, but eventually he has to admit defeat. He'll have to resort to more prosaic methods than this. There are only so many roads leading to St Mary's, and now he knows to look for an absence of power, instead of an accumulation of it. When they go past, he'll be waiting.
Aziraphale is trying to keep calm. It's not easy. He's tense and fretful after the day's events, though he thinks it's understandable, and while he is trying to keep his emotions in check until a more appropriate time, a certain amount is leaking through. If it wasn't, he would never have been so snappish at Lucifer. Crowley is right, he needs to keep his mind on what they are trying to achieve here. He can mourn later.
Having found Castiel once already, Aziraphale is familiar with him, with the way his presence stretches the world as all angels do, like stars wrapping time and space around themselves, creating the illusion of gravity. Locating him is not a task which most younger angels would find possible, but he is old and fairly powerful. He tracks the other angel to a warehouse in Van Nuys. The Righteous Man, Dean Winchester, is not with him.
Inside the warehouse is a small room, a pocket of reality larger inside than out, done up to look like a stately home, though it is made of thin, malleable stuff. It clearly isn't meant to serve any permanent function, though he can't for the life of him imagine what they are going to use it for.
"Castiel," he says, greeting his brother as he lands inside. "Nice to see you again."
"Brother," Castiel says flatly, looking less than impressed, "why are you here? Do you have orders regarding the final Seal?"
It would be easy to lie, Aziraphale thinks. After everything that's been done to him, Castiel will have been conditioned to accept the word of his brothers as Gospel, to avoid questions, to avoid doubt. If he said he had orders to talk to Dean Winchester, Castiel would take him to the man. But... it would be taking advantage. He feels a little dirty for even thinking of it. He shakes his head.
"No," he says. "I just wanted to know how things are progressing."
"I don't know why you persist in doing this brother," Castiel says, cocking his head to one side in mild confusion. "Why do you continue to come to me without orders to do so? Do you not have tasks of your own?"
"I'm just...curious," Aziraphale says. "This is no small matter, and I..."
"Angels are not meant to be curious." There is a harder edge in Castiel's tone now. "We are agents of Fate and our Father's Will. To be curious is too close to questioning."
Aziraphale sighs. "Never mind Castiel," he says. "I'm sorry. I won't bother you again."
He leaves quickly. It pains him to see what's been done to one of his brothers, and anyway, there's nothing for him there. Lucifer wants information, he always wants information, so he'll have to keep searching for this Righteous Man. Lucifer can go bugger himself, he thinks, with a certain degree of righteous anger.
The first few of the imposter's servants arrive early, around eight in the evening. They come alone, one by one, lesser demons all, once-human. They are excited and tense with anticipation, obvious even from Lucifer's distant vantage point on the outskirts of the convent's grounds. There is no sign of the supposed woman herself however, so for now he is content to watch. Let them do as they will; compared to him they are no more than flies to be swatted.
The gate that the Seals holds closed is stretched thin by now, barely tethered by the final, the sixty-sixth. It is very specific in its requirements, much more so than any other, and apart from the younger Winchester brother, it requires the willing sacrifice of an immortal, one with a certain level of age and power. He wonders if who or whatever this Lilith really is will use herself, or whether she has another in mind. If so, there is no sign of them yet. It doesn't matter though. He has no intention of letting the proceedings even get to that point.
With only a few hours to go before midnight, she finally arrives. If he had any doubts before, they are immediately swept aside; she is nothing like the real Lilith. There is nothing even faintly human about her, as Lilith once was. No, this is something that feels somewhat familiar, if a rather less Hell-tainted than he is used to – fallen angel. It makes sense; Crowley had mentioned Azazel's involvement, and this is another of his kind. It appears this plan is the work of the Grigori.
In some ways, this is a good thing. He is perfectly capable of dealing with one angel, fallen or no, but equally, he still does not know what they plan to achieve with this whole enterprise. The Grigori are notoriously sly, and whatever they intend will not be anything simple. Still, he will get his answers soon enough.
Lucifer enters the building through a side door, his footsteps making no sound at all on the hard stone floor. The lesser demons are all clustered in the corridor leading to the chapel, and the Grigori is with them, no doubt making preparations for the arrival of Samuel Winchester and his demon companion. If Crowley has done his job, they are due to be disappointed. He heads in the general direction of the chapel, intending to confront the fallen angel. In this case, the proper application of force seems most appropriate. He doesn't see the trap until he has stepped into it.
In hindsight, he should have anticipated something of the sort as soon as he knew he had run up against one of the Grigori. It seems they certainly expected his own presence. In fairness, this is a very old, very rare, Enochian warding circle, written on the stone with a demon's fresh blood and the angel's tainted Grace, but the Watchers have always been well read and well prepared ever since Gabriel caught them unawares and slaughtered their children.
Unwilling to compromise his own dignity and pride, Lucifer stands straight and waits impassively for the fallen angel to come and gloat at him. He sincerely doubts she will pass up that opportunity. It is not every day one can claim they caught the Morningstar off guard. Nor can she risk leaving him here unattended for too long; the trap will not keep him for long. He can work his way out of it eventually. Still, he may learn something from her if she can be tricked into monologuing.
As he is expecting, she is smiling widely when she appears, alone, tattered Grace squeezed into a vessel as her followers are forced to do, delight dancing over her face. Now he can see her more closely, he believes he can put a name to her.
"Sariel," he says calmly, watching her prance around the borders of the circle.
"Oh, poor Lucifer," she coos mockingly. "Not so smart now, Lightbringer. Did you think we hadn't planned on having you discover us here? No, you are very important to the mission. The key, you might say."
"Well I'd hate to miss the occasion," he replies smoothly, keeping his eyes on her while he tests the edges of the trap with his Grace. "Although I hardly think you can say you had any hand in bringing me here."
"No?" she says, stopping in front of him, her vessel's pose languid and what would be sensual in a human. "You don't think those little nobodies were wandering around your territory by accident do you? Zachariah wants this as much as we do; we've been working towards the same ends all along."
Now this is surprising, and he finds it particularly galling to think he has been outwitted in any way by the kind of weak-minded and unimaginative creature the youngest of the Seven always was. It makes sense though. If they can channel his presence here so close to the breaking of the final Seal, it is possible that they could set off the path to the Apocalypse. Novel, but possible. He can't help but be irritated with himself for not seeing this sooner, not that he's going to show that to the Grigori of course. Sariel winks at him.
"But now you're here," she says. "We can get on with it. We're all here for a very special occasion you know; your glorious ascension from the Pit, and the beginning of the end of the world."
"What do you hope to achieve?" he asks quietly. "I have no intentions of going along with your Apocalypse. Do not think you can keep me here any longer than this night. Even if your ritual sets those events in motion, you will never take the throne of Heaven."
"Oh don't worry." She laughs. "We're not foolish. But Lucifer will rise, one way or another. We've been planning on this ever since we heard the cancerous stain that called itself God abandoned his children and this world." She draws a bloodied scrap of linen from the breast of her white dress and drapes it over the cardinal sigil holding the circle which encloses him. Next is a phial of blood, pungent with malignant power. Sariel manifests her wings and selects a single dusky slate-grey feather, pulling it without a wince. Lucifer takes half a step forward in alarm. He has an unpleasant idea of where this is going, and it only becomes more concrete as she dips the quill in the blood and starts to write more Enochian on and around the cloth. He is still trapped though, and he can do nothing to stop her. She has his blood, dabbed onto the handkerchief months ago in Effrul to trick the Throne Amenadiel, the culmination of the last time someone had him at such a disadvantage. It seems this has always been their plan; everything was leading up to this. She is going to steal his Name.
Lucifer does not give her the satisfaction of his rage. This is not the first time someone has drained his Grace, and woe to the one who believes his teeth drawn by it. He took back his power before, and he will do so again. He has one advantage that he did not have before – he knows what she is doing, and what she must therefore be intending to do in the future, and he can work with that. Before, when Izanami trapped his Grace inside two poisoned pinions and stole them while his enemies had him burn, he was caught unawares. Not this time.
He focuses his mind on his Grace, fierce and massive, and forces it down inside him, into the feathers of his wings to lock as much of it away as he can before the ritual can take hold of it and leech it out of him. It pleases him to use something which hurt him before to his advantage now. He can feel the first tugs of the old magic starting already. It is an itch that quickly grows into pain, ripping and tearing at him like an animal devouring flesh. He feels the unfamiliar taste of his own blood in his mouth, sharp and alien. His vision blurs, and he locks gazes with the Grigori. He refuses to cry out. She would enjoy that, he knows.
Then, with a final pull so fierce it sends him to his knees, what Grace he did not manage to hide is torn from him, to be given with his Name to whatever avatar they wish to become him. It is finished. For now.