"Michael's working."

Lucifer sighed and reached behind him. He caught a handful of thunder and feathers. Giving a sharp tug, he pulled his younger brother over his head and into his lap. Gabriel yelped, his voice ringing throughout heaven. Lucifer could feel Michael's disapproval from here. His younger brother stilled in contrition, but the Morningstar soothed Gabriel with a kiss to the younger archangel's brow.

Gabriel giggled and twisted in his brother's arms to rest his head against Lucifer's chest above the warmth of his grace. The Morningstar allowed it fondly, tousling feathers freely.

"Michael is always working," he huffed in exasperation. "I'm supposed to be working."

Gabriel glanced up, but with the Morningstar he is always unrepentant. Their Father had given Gabriel what seemed to be an excess of energy and a fondness for generating noise. It was balanced out by Raphael's endless calm and quiet demeanor. Raphael is patient, his hand steady and carefully deliberate in all he does, but he's quick to anger. Gabriel is wild, playful, and loves everything with the abandon of a being certain he is loved in return.

Lucifer buried his face in the tangle of thunder and feathers, holding his brother tightly in his embrace. How could anyone not love this little one?

"I suppose a few moments can be spared to inspect Michael and Raphael's progress," the Morningstar decided, rising with his brother still cradled in his arms. "Our Father should give you a job to occupy you as well, Little Brother," Lucifer scolded mildly. "You get into far too much mischief when left to your own devices."

Gabriel beamed. "Father says he has a very special job for me. It's not ready yet, but soon. He promised. Soon."

Lucifer shook his head softly. This wasn't the first that they had heard of Gabriel's special job, but their Father was being rather secretive about the whole thing. Whatever it was, it was taking longer than the 'very special' jobs already handed out amongst the other archangels. He hoped that Gabriel would be up to the task; the little archangels were so young and Gabriel in particular lacked the seriousness needed for responsibility.

Warm arms wrapped around his neck as his younger brother buried his face in the side of Lucifer's neck. "Love you," the littlest archangel whispered, squeezing tight. Then he squirmed to be put down and fly ahead.

Lucifer hoped that his younger brother would stay like this forever, regardless of 'very special' jobs and responsibility. Lucifer would help Gabriel with his work to make sure it got done—to make sure that there was always time for play and distractions. It was his responsibility as the older brother to teach and care for the younger.

He would teach Gabriel everything the Morningstar knew.

"That is enough," Michael proclaimed, snagging Gabriel by the back of his wings and suspending the younger archangel in midair. With a single rustle of his wings, Michael dried the flood waters and restored the storeroom to order.

Caught, Gabriel twisted helplessly, pouting at his oldest brother. "Put me down, Michael," he whined indignantly, going limp in his brother's hold.

"So you can run to the Morningstar for sympathy? I don't think so, little brother. You will stay right there until I have finished reading this Treatise."

Stuck in the angelic equivalent of time out, Gabriel crossed his arms and glared at the back of Michael's head with the intent to disturb Michael's studies through sheer stubborn silence.

He didn't last very long, before he was reaching out to steady himself against Michael's wings. "What are you reading, Michael?"

"Hush, Gabriel."

"Is it any good?"

"Hush, Gabriel."

"Can I read too?"

"Hush, Gabriel."

Gabriel frowned, and licked his lips in preparation to ask another question, but the action gave him an idea. Leaning forward carefully, he planted a sticky wet kiss on his older brother's cheek. Michael jumped up like he had been scalded, the scroll flying out of his hand.

Gabriel happily flew to freedom a few feet away, turning back to watch Michael rub the mess off of his face. "You've been in the Garden, Little Brother," Michael's eyes narrowed.

"The peaches are very good," Gabriel returned cheekily, licking some of the juice off of his own face. It was Michael's own fault for not paying any attention to Gabriel today. "So are the raspberries."

Michael glared at him and recovered the scroll. "You are not to interfere with the Gardener's work, Gabriel. You are not to interfere with any of Heaven's work. You have been quite obnoxious."

"Aww, Michael, you don't mean that," Gabriel face fell. "I was only playing. Michael, no!"

Gabriel failed to escape his older brother's grasp and was promptly carted out of the storeroom and into a fourth or fifth hall. Raphael was listening quietly there, and without comment, he fell in behind Michael in a caravan of archangels. Gabriel crossed his arms with a huff as he was paraded through heaven on their way to the Morningstar's favorite perch.

"Michael, what is this?" Lucifer dropped down to meet them. "Gabriel—"

"No, you will not take his side, Lucifer," Michael ordered grimly. "He was in the Garden helping himself to the fruit there."

Lucifer sighed. "Gabriel, that fruit is meant to go to Earth at the appropriate time. It is not for eating out of boredom . . ."

"This was evidently right before flooding the storerooms."

Lucifer's mouth dropped open in shock. "Gabriel!"

Raphael stared at Gabriel with surprise and disapproval. That was nothing new. Raphael was appallingly well-behaved, and would forgive as soon as he had his turn scolding Gabriel.

"Furthermore," Michael interrupted Lucifer's preparation for a lecture by planting Gabriel firmly in the Morningstar's arms, "Gabriel shows no respect for the tasks we have been given and continues to interrupt our work. He has become far too indulged, and we are all to blame for that."

"It is hard not to indulge him," Lucifer sighed. "Gabriel is a good and loving angel. He does not mean to be a nuisance and he is always sorry for his wrongs, Michael."

"But he is not sorry enough to avoid repeating them," Michael countered, staring hard at the youngest of them.

Gabriel squirmed away from Lucifer and dropped his gaze. "I am sorry, Michael. Truly. I will help Joshua plant more fruit, and I will stay out of the Storeroom while you're working."

Michael nodded levelly. "Yes, you will do both. However, in light of the repeated incidents, this time, I think there must be consequences. Michael turned his hard gaze on Lucifer and Raphael. "None of us will speak to Gabriel from this moment until sunset. Not one word either of you." Michael stared until the others nodded their agreement.

Gabriel was shocked silent for a moment. Raphael flinched, and the Morningstar looked on worriedly, but Michael simply stood there watching Gabriel carefully. That prompted the younger archangel to find his tongue more than anything.

"Michael, that's not fair," he tried. No response. "I said I was sorry, Michael!" Gabriel turned desperately to his next oldest brother. Lucifer always took his part. "Lucifer, please, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry." His brother shook his head sadly, and reached out to lay a compassionate hand on Gabriel's shoulder. Lucifer's eyes were filled with guilt and sorrow, but he did not speak. Gabriel pulled away and appealed to Raphael. "Please, Raphael?" he whispered. Lightning flashed when Raphael turned away, and thunder cracked in response as Gabriel's temper actually flared.

He shoved through the other archangels, stalking past, and then spun back abruptly. "Then I'm not speaking to any of you either!" With that, he flew off to find other angels to talk with, because Gabriel didn't have a prayer of staying silent for that long of a decree.

It was still long before sunset, when Gabriel found his oldest brother in the storeroom once again. "Michael, may I please come in?" he called, feeling downright wretched.

There was a long pause, and then the archangel nodded sharply. Gabriel flew across the room and flung his arms around Michael's waist, hiding his face against Michael's back and under his brother's fiery wings.

"I'm sorry, Michael," he whispered, sniffling miserably. "I'm sorry." He clung there, and waited for Michael to pick him up to throw him out again, but he did so quietly so that Michael would know how sorry he was.

He waited a long time, and eventually, Michael set aside his work carefully. Gabriel braced himself for dismissal, but when Michael tugged Gabriel around to stand before him rather than behind, he went a step further and pulled Gabriel into his arms.

Gabriel sighed and rested his chin on his older brother's shoulder as he hugged Michael back. Michael's grace was as even as the tides. When Michael pulled back, his eyes were stern. His fingers were swift and practical in wiping away the evidence of Gabriel's tears. His hands were gentle as he straightened the younger archangel's wings. His lips were warm against Gabriel's forehead, and his forgiveness was absolute.

Gabriel wearily submitted to these attentions—all the more precious than the Morningstar's perpetual cosseting for the rarity of such care from Michael. Absolved, he leaned back into his brother's shoulder with no intention of moving again anytime soon. Michael kissed the top of his head, and let him stay while the older archangel worked.

When Michael began to read aloud from his scrolls a short time later, it was certainly only because reading aloud would improve his understanding of the text and not at all for Gabriel's benefit. It certainly didn't count as speaking to the younger archangel.

Gabriel smiled blissfully into his brother's shoulder, because he was loved and indulged and knew it. Gabriel would even be careful in the future not to take too much advantage of it.