So, this wasn't supposed to end up... like this. It doesn't really fit with the series that I intended to start with this ("Wings", which features Destiel, Sabriel, Balcifer, and now Jo/Anna in various winged sexual encounters), so... yeah. Whatever. (On that note, I discovered that I have a superpower: I can pull anyone over to any ship I write.)

It wasn't supposed to be this angsty and then halfway through I had a headcanon brainwave that depressed the fuck out of me. Hopefully when I post the smutty prequel to this, it'll make us all feel better.

Balthazar's back popped as he stretched, waking from a light doze and righting himself. Both of these—the back popping and the napping—should have been cause for alarm or at least a brief moment of worry, but he'd given into his vessel's desire for sleep after…

Well, once he found out Lucifer was free from the Pit, he had a feeling the Fallen angel would pay him a visit at some point. Catching up on all that passed time and all that. It had been a long time, and he didn't realize until he'd looked into those blue eyes again just how much he'd missed him.

"Oh, good, you're awake," Lucifer said with a kind of playful snark that had only been honed in the Pit. Frankly, the fact that he wasn't smiting everything in sight was kind of mind-boggling to Balthazar, who probably would have gone completely mad down there. Still, Lucifer had been an archangel and was of slightly heartier stock than him. Maybe it made a strange sort of sense.

"I wasn't out for very long, was I?" Balthazar asked. He turned around, his bare legs still dangling over the side of the bed, surveying himself, the other angel, and the room. He noted that his vessel was completely naked, which certainly made sense considering their previous interaction. Lucifer had apparently willed a pair of sweatpants into existence sometime while Balthazar was unconscious and settled himself on an armchair. His vessel looked like it was starting to deteriorate a bit, with small splotches of red becoming visible where the skin was the thinnest.

As for the room, the first thing that really struck him about it was how bright it seemed with light streaming through the windows, even with the thin curtains pulled across them. The second thing was that every surface in the room—including the armchair on which Lucifer was currently perched, playing Cat's Cradle for some unfathomable reason—was seemingly covered in feathers. He cocked an eyebrow, wondering if a pillow had burst during their… activities or if they'd merely pulled every single feather out of each of their wings.

Lucifer looked at his wrist, as if checking his watch, and shrugged. "No, not really. Just since Tuesday."

"And today would be…?"


Balthazar groaned and pitched sideways, back onto the bed. Light doze, my arse.

"It's not so bad," Lucifer joked, unwinding the string from his fingers. "I think you needed the regenerative cycle. I may have been a bit… overzealous." Out of the corner of his eye, Balthazar saw Lucifer spread his hands, as if gesturing to the mess of feathers around him. "You may want to check your wings," the strawberry-blond angel added.

Balthazar let out another groan, sat back up, and gingerly unfurled his wings. Damn it all, but Lucifer was right about the feathers. And now he remembered—they'd freed their wings during the act (well, acts; it only made sense that the angel with the notorious libido and the newly-freed Fallen angel would have a lot of unresolved sexual tension, which also explained why he'd slept for five days) and Lucifer had always had a tinge of sadism about him, even before the Fall. Angels' wings were incredibly sensitive anyway and the very act of caressing them against another angel's wings was, of itself, fairly erotic. Just touching them was enough to get most angels going. All of that put together just meant that Lucifer had pulled out handfuls of his feathers in the throes of passion and the feathers in question had been scattered about the room. Balthazar hadn't stopped him—at that point, he was so far beyond caring, he was nearly incoherent. Also, one tended not to tell the Devil what to do. It was asking for—no, demanding—trouble.

"That's not so bad," Lucifer said silkily, suddenly right behind him. "The new ones are coming in nicely." He reached out and traced a fingertip over the bone in one wing, and they beat lightly in response, stretching to their full length without his conscious control. As wings went, his were actually a bit smaller than average when he was in a vessel. Most angels, when they chose to reveal their wings, had a wingspan of about fifteen feet. (Archangels were not included in this average. They could have wingspans of up to thirty feet, depending on how angry they were, and Balthazar knew for a fact that Michael's wings could stretch out to thirty-five when he was full of righteous fury.) Balthazar's were just shy of fourteen feet, which wasn't a noticeable difference to humans, but to angels, it meant a lot.

The blond angel made a face. "They don't look particularly flight-worthy." Okay, so Lucifer hadn't quite pulled out all the feathers—maybe a quarter of them—but most of them were close to his body, so it looked worse than it actually was. Lucifer apparently hadn't had any inclination to stray too far from his body, and even with his own fairly long reach—his vessel was six-foot-one, taller than Balthazar's by two inches—he simply couldn't be arsed. One could definitely tell where feathers had been yanked out by the downy-soft baby feathers that had sprouted in their place.

"Not yet," Lucifer admitted. He trailed his fingers from the bone down, combing them through the new feathers, sending a shudder through Balthazar's body and a spark of something that felt distinctly like his lover's Grace right into the roots of his feathers. The Fallen angel was using his Grace to speed the growth of his feathers, which was something Balthazar couldn't do. As a rule, angels couldn't accelerate the growth of their own new feathers. It was a built-in trait requiring another angel, a way of bonding, and Father, he had forgotten what it was like to feel another angel's Grace against his feathers. It was almost equal to doing what they'd done last night—sorry, Tuesday night. He felt his wings straining into Lucifer's touch and he rolled his body forward to allow the Morningstar better access. "But they will be. I'm sure someone is probably very worried about you."

"No," he murmured. "All the humans who know me are accustomed to seeing me erratically, and all the other angels think I'm dead. Speaking of which, how did you know I was alive?"

"Please, Balthazar. Give me a little credit." The strawberry-blond angel splayed his legs on either side of the lesser angel's body, trailing that forked tongue of his over the shell of his ear. "I could feel your Grace even in the Pit," he breathed, his hands never resting as they explored and caressed Balthazar's wings. Another pleasured shudder went down the blonde's spine and his eyes closed to give himself over to the sensations Lucifer evoked. "Even when I heard you were dead, I could feel you, very much alive." His lips pressed feather-light kisses to Balthazar's ear, the sides and back of his neck, all the way to the Atlas vertebra, where his neck met his shoulders. One of Lucifer's hands snaked around to Balthazar's front and pressed against his heart. "I didn't tell anyone, of course. And who would care? One extra little angel—no one would notice. But I knew, Balthazar. I knew exactly where you were."

Balthazar felt something against his wingtips, something silky and delicious. He knew without opening his eyes what that something was—only one thing felt like that against an angel's wings, and that was another angel's wings. Lucifer had unfurled his wings and pressed them against his. A low whine, most definitely against Balthazar's will, rose in his throat at the sensations of their feathers sliding together again and he wrenched his eyes open. He hadn't seen Lucifer's wings in millennia, not since before the Fall, and he felt a wave of sadness roll through him.

They were still impressive—both by human standards and angel standards—but they were a light gray, like the sky before a storm, instead of the pure white of a typical angel. He may not have even noticed the difference in hue if his own wings hadn't been right there as well, but the difference was undeniable. The Devil's wings still had all the bulk of an archangel's wings, too, bigger and more powerful than they needed to be, merely a power symbol at this point, but even with them wrapping around his own wings and almost meeting at the front, he knew the difference.

"What happened?" he asked softly even though he was pretty sure he knew.

"I was in a cage, Balthazar." The Morningstar's voice was low and heartbreaking, more depressed than he thought possible from him. "Cages are intended to keep the bird trapped within it from flying. And you know what else they do to birds in cages." He sighed into Balthazar's hair, still absently running his fingers through the snowy white feathers. "They clipped my wings. The moment I landed in the Pit, those nasty little beasts swarmed me." His hands finally paused, and then his arms wrapped around Balthazar's torso in a tight embrace, his cheek pressed to his back, right in between the junctions of his wings to his body. "It's been so long, Balthazar. So long since anyone showed me a scrap of affection. You were the last angel to give me anything. So I knew… You were the first person I had to see once I broke free."

Bollocks. Balthazar's thoughts strayed back to the present time with an unpleasant jolt. Yes, it was amazing to have Lucifer back with him, but he knew it was also a very bad thing in general. After all, since he was back, the Apocalypse was nigh, and it only spelled trouble for, well, everyone. Balthazar didn't like remembering that the being holding and rocking him was Satan—he still remembered him as Lucifer, Heaven's most beautiful angel. Remembering that Lucifer was Fallen and he was not… It was painful. They were supposed to be on different sides. Although, technically, he was supposed to be neutral—he had a particularly vested interest in saving his own skin—his loyalty still lay with Heaven when push came to shove. Father, it had hurt, it had ached when Lucifer tried to convince him to rebel. He was the first angel Lucifer came to, asking for this one thing.

He must have asked a hundred times, begging by the end—and that was the part that saddened Balthazar the most, because Lucifer never begged—and every time, no matter how shaky his resolve grew, he continued to say no. And he tried to talk Lucifer out of it, pleading with him ("It's not worth it, Lucifer, please. The humans aren't worth this kind of frustration"), but the day he and his followers Fell was the darkest day of Balthazar's life. He had to watch as his lover was cast out of Heaven, paralyzed by anguish and Father damn it, why couldn't you just listen to me, you stupid beautiful angel? And Castiel had stood by his side, watching, and said, "What you did was right, Balthazar. You said no to him. It was right," and though Balthazar knew that Castiel had intended to be comforting, that he was right, it just filled him with despair. Just because what he did was right, didn't mean it wouldn't hurt.

And now, here they were, back together again, and his heart was breaking because he knew Lucifer's was, too. "You know this doesn't change anything, Lucifer," he said softly. Satan's cheek was still pressed against his skin. His vessel's stubble tickled and poked his spine as he nuzzled against him. Grace was radiating off him and into Balthazar, making him regret what he was about to say even more. This was more intimate than he'd been with an angel in a long time, and he'd forgotten how much he missed it. "My answer is still no. You have to know that."

He felt Lucifer freeze behind him. If it had been any other angel that he'd slighted so entirely, he would have worried for his safety. At this point, though, if Lucifer killed him, he would welcome it. He didn't want to fight against him, and he couldn't fight alongside him. If the Morningstar killed him, so be it. But then Lucifer exhaled. "Yes. I know." His arms slackened slightly. "And you wouldn't be the same angel I left if you changed your mind now." Lucifer pulled back just enough to press his lips to Balthazar's spine, and then to both of his wing joints in turn. "I'm sorry, Balthazar. Part of me knew that it was just a silly hope. I knew I couldn't bring you back to me. Your moral compass was always stronger than mine," he remarked glibly, a joke that wasn't funny. He unwrapped his arms from around him completely and resumed threading his fingers through Balthazar's feathers, stretching out his arms as far as they could reach and idly twisting their feathers together. Balthazar let out a nearly pornographic moan at the slide of their plumage. But then he let go and leaned back, pulling his wings back into his body before they disappeared entirely. "I do love you, Balthazar. Please don't doubt that for one second. I never stopped loving you, and for the sake of that, I'm not going to smite you." He pressed another kiss to the back of Balthazar's neck, sending ripples of goose bumps over his vessel's skin. "But I promise you this. Remain neutral, and my forces will leave you in peace. Stand against me, and I vow, I will personally kill you where you stand. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Balthazar murmured. It shouldn't be any other way.

He heard and felt Lucifer heave another sigh behind him. "I am so sorry, Balthazar." A second later, the sweatpants covering Lucifer's legs transitioned smoothly to denim, and when he embraced him from behind again, he felt clothing between the skin of their vessels. "I have to leave now. I only pray that the next time we meet, it's not on the field of battle."

Balthazar couldn't trust himself to speak. His vessel's throat had tightened, an all-too-human response to grief, and his simply nodded.

Abruptly, the arms were gone. He looked over his shoulder, over his wings—feathers perfectly restored, thanks to Lucifer's Grace—and saw the room behind him empty. He pitched forward, burying his face in his hands.

He never saw his Morningstar again.