Second Place

There were endless skies in heaven, stretching in all directions, past and above the varied scenery down below. But despite the vast stretch of sky, there was seldom a direction that could be looked in without one angel or more flying around in the distance.

There were certain favourite spots, however, that the archangels liked to claim for themselves, with the younger fledglings willingly making space for their older counterparts. These were beautiful landscapes with vibrant grass and hills with sharp dips of streams of water cascading down the cliff edges to sparkling oceans below.

With the consistent light breeze the grass swayed in a slow dance, one that was rudely interrupted by a sudden gust that flattened the grass with an abrupt, over-powering ripple, accompanied by the echoing flap of several angels' wings.

Shielding his eyes half-heartedly with one arm against the harsh wind, Gabriel pouted as Lucifer and Michael sped off ahead into the distance.

"We'll never be as fast as them," Anna sulked a little behind him, a stream of red hair flying behind her.

"We could be," Gabriel insisted. "They're older. Their wings are bigger- that's why."

"They're still especially fast," Balthazar commented, dragging a baby Castiel by one hand along behind him. Balthazar was doing all the flying for the two of them, but the little fledgling was flapping his tiny wings nonetheless.

"I'm fast, too," Gabriel said adamantly, though he'd dropped back to fly alongside the others, having given us chasing after their two faster older brothers.

"But not the fastest," Balthazar teased.

"No," Anna said. "Luci is fastest."

Raphael frowned at that as they flew up over a path of trees, Lucifer and Michael still ahead in the distance. "Michael is just as fast. Faster properly."

"Nah, Luci's fastest," Balthazar added.

As they flew closer, they realised Michael and Lucifer had stopped and were hovering in the air waiting for them. Raphael had caught up just before, flapping just below the two eldest.

"Come on, guys!" Michael called. "Not tiring out yet, are you?"

"Shows off," Balthazar said, tucking Cas under one arm as he stopped just in front of them.

"I'll be fast, too," Gabriel continued, crossing his arms and coming to a stop also. "When I'm older and my wings are as big as yours." He hovered beside Lucifer, turning to look up at him. "You can teach me to go really, really fast, right?"

Lucifer chuckled. "Of course I will. But these things take time, little brother."

Gabriel pouted. "Fine." As always, his enthusiastic tone returned quickly, though. "I wanna learn from you, though. You're the fastest!"

Gabriel failed to notice Michael's expression darken at that.

"We were just discussing that, actually," Balthazar said. "Whether you or Michael are faster."

"Well," Michael said quickly. "I am oldest." The implication was obvious, without being able to be claimed as obvious showing-off.

"I'm just as fast as you," Lucifer said. His tone was playful, however, merely a cheery competitiveness.

"Race!" Baby Cas proclaimed from under Balthazar's arm, somehow managing to sound enthusiastic and totally uninterested at the same time, his eyes distractedly following a random butterfly floating near them.

"Yes," Anna agreed happily. "Race to see who's faster!"

The others soon joined in the cheers, bobbing enthusiastically in the air.

"Well, I like the idea," Lucifer said, turning to his older brother, pale blonde wings stretched behind him.

Michael glanced at him, then at their energetic younger siblings. A desire to prove himself set in. He turned back to Lucifer. "Okay then. First one to that big old tree down by the lake with the dragonflies wins."

Lucifer knew the place. He nodded, flexing his wings as they both faced forward.

"We'll follow as best we can," Anna said. "So we can see who wins."

"Who's counting us off?" Michael asked, leaning slightly forward so he could start off at the most aero-dynamic angle.

"I'd be glad to," Balthazar said, adjusting his hold on Cas before moving to float level with Michael and Lucifer. "Ready?"

Two nods were the answer.

"Three..."

Anna and Gabriel exchanged excited grins.

"Two..."

Raphael looked between the two of them with interest, noting the looks of determination of both his brothers' faces.

"One..."

Cas made a half-hearted grab at the butterfly.

"Go!"

With a loud flapping of wings, Michael and Lucifer took off, streaming through the air side-by-side. They both built up as much momentum as they could, before spreading their wings wide and soaring, sometimes dipping lower, or shooting higher to avoid the clumps of trees that stood with emerald-clustered branches stretching up to the sky.

The others were following as promised, but already lagging when Michael glanced back. Turning forward again, he realised he was lagging as well, Lucifer's span of pale, blondish wings stretched out just ahead of him.

Michael frowned and picked up the pace, pulling forward, but still dragging just behind Lucifer.

They passed over a glittering stream, the water reflecting the silhouettes of the two brothers briefly as they passed. They were near a cliff edge, the water taking a sharp turn down, before ending in a vast crystal ocean below.

The old tree that was their finish marker was already in sight and Michael was still trailing.

"Better speed up, big brother!" Lucifer called back with a laugh, eyes narrowing in determination as they dipped up and over the last area of trees that stood along the cliff edge.

Michael's head was only level with Lucifer's shoulder still. Michael looked toward the finish line, before looking sideways to Lucifer, the cool breeze ruffling through his own golden brown feathers. The wind was blowing from their left, towards the cliff edge and the trees.

There was a particularly tall branch near the edge of the clearing, by the cliff-side, poking out and upwards. Michael shifted abruptly right, a minute burst of energy proceeding him, knocking Lucifer slightly, just enough for his shoulder to snag the branch. The collar of his shirt caught, the branch snapping with Lucifer's momentum, but completely unbalancing him, forcing Lucifer to twist in the air and dip. Lucifer ended up hovering over the cliff-side, instinctively pulling his wings in to avoid collision. He dropped down the cliff edge slightly, scrapping the rocky side, before managing to push out and spread his wings again, pausing in midair to catch his breath.

Having noticed their brother's abrupt diversion, the other's instantly headed in Lucifer's direction, while Michael pointedly circled the old tree, before coming to join them.

"Are you okay, Luci?" Anna asked, fluttering to a stop in front of him.

Lucifer nodded, glancing at his arm and watching as a series of red scrapes began to heal themselves.

"Aw, unlucky," Michael commented, with what sounded more like an attempt at sympathy, than genuine emotion.

"What happened?" Gabriel asked, glancing briefly down at the waters below them.

Lucifer turned to face them, a look of contemplative doubt on his face, as if he were trying to work something out. "I-"

"He snagged a branch," Michael cut in. "I saw."

The others nodded, though there were some raised eyebrows. Lucifer understood why. That sounded so clumsy. But he wasn't a clumsy flier, quite the contrary. And he'd seen that branch, but he was sure it was much father to his right. It... It had actually felt like something caught him on the left... Actually, not caught, more...

He glanced at Michael. His older brother was hovering proudly, wings stretched to their full span as he smiled affectionately at baby Cas. No, Lucifer thought. He must have been mistaken.

"Yeah," he said eventually. "Stupid branch."

At a much more relaxed speed, they began to head back, drifting though the air, even letting baby Cas fly for himself for a bit. Lucifer distracted himself with that, hovering on Castiel's left, while Balthazar took the right, both of them ready to catch him should he falter.

"So who was winning?" Gabriel asked eventually, doing a lazy twist in midair.

Lucifer opened his mouth.

"Me," Michael said quickly.

Lucifer closed his mouth. He frowned, but said nothing. When Balthazar gathered up Cas again, he chose to fly beside Gabriel, rather than his usual spot up ahead with Michael.


A/N:

Possibly the start of something longer. I'm fascinated with the dynamics of the angel!family, though from what we see of Michael in the show I personally got the impression he was more interested in proving himself to their father than being a good sibling. I also have a ridiculous and probably inappropriate amount of sympathy for Lucifer...

On another note, I'm not entirely sure what the official canon age order is, or whether these particular angels would have been 'raised' in the same generation, so to speak. But for purposes of this story, I'm using my own interpretation of age order as: Michael, Lucifer, Raphael, Gabriel, Balthazar, Anna, Cas.

Anyway, thanks for reading! :)