LUCIFER--

Paris. It had taken some time, and even more concentration than he'd have liked to find the particular one he'd been looking for, yet...here he was, in this stinking crush of humanity. But, after the incident only days ago, he'd decided it was well past time to seek out his brother. Curiosity about what his brother had been doing in hiding since the whole incident with the Darkness drove him, as did a desire to simply see what Gabriel had to say about little Castiel's sudden...elevation.


He strode alongside the Seine for a bit, the dim stars overhead making dulled pinpoints of light shimmer in the water of the river. Eventually, his casual stroll took him away from the river's edge and toward a stone building dwarfing all around it. <i>Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.</i> He knew nothing of it, but his vessel apparently admired the artwork that was a part of it's construction, and helpfully provided the name. A...church. His lips twitched with amusement, mischief dancing in his pale eyes at finding his brother here, of all places. Surely he wasn't seeking their Father out. That would be just...ridiculous.


Lucifer stepped into the cathedral, still open for tourists and the faithful alike this early in the evening, making no effort to mask the presence of his grace to those who might be able to sense it – having no desire at all to hide from his brother. A flash of a grin touched his lips at the thought of the 'Devil' just walking right into the holy place, and at the panic the humans wandering about would feel if only they knew. But, he restrained the impulse to create that delightful chaos. That wasn't why he was here, and that wasn't really who he was now. Not...entirely, at least.


He moved to the center of the space within, and simply stood there quietly, pale eyes roving over the backlit stained-glass windows appreciatively. Hey, he might be the literal Devil, but he could – and very much did – appreciate beauty. He looked every inch the visiting businessman, finely tailored suit of a dove gray, dark silk tie, creamy shirt of fine silk. One thing he really did appreciate about his vessel, he mused, Tristan had excellent taste in clothing, and the money to back that up.


Gabriel was here, somewhere, mixed in with the humans, trying to be one of them. A chuckle escaped his lips at the ridiculousness of that. No matter how hard he might try, Gabriel was an archangel, a being of absolute power and meant for far greater things than hiding with the rats. Still, he couldn't quite tamp down completely on the rush of fondness for his younger brother.


It was that fondness, despite all that had happened, despite Gabriel having been instrumental in forcing him out of Castiel's vessel once the Darkness had been...taken care of, that made him wait patiently for Gabriel to come to him.


GABRIEL--

The people moved about, wrapped up in their own little worlds – or a combination of themselves and someone else near them. Something like amusement touched him while he watched them deep into their conversations, whether it was to another person, themselves, or through electronic devices. Only those oddly dressed were ones looking upward to all the beauty surrounding them – yet he knew they didn’t deeply admire them – not the way he was now.

He had been like them once; not human, but oblivious.

A shake of his head, he moved on from his little area, not sure where he was going to go. It was odd to have no destination, to pick a city and go. Then when he got there, he had no idea what to do, except walk, pick up food, listen to people and… just watch.

As he walked, there was something different. A hum in the air that was starting to take over, his body was absorbing that hum, it vibrated in him. From the top of his heads to his toes, his body vibrated.

Brother.

But which?

He stood, unsure for a moment, his head tilted upward as if he wanted to ask for help – but god forbid he ever turn the Angel Radio back on. The humming worsened as he stood there; he had to move, figure out the source, even if it…

Well, this time it would kill him.

He frowned a bit at his thoughts and moved towards the source of sound, stopping as he saw the building with the beautiful windows. When was the last time he went into a church – without trying to make it into some cosmic joke? He frowned a bit, the humming was intense, if he were mere human, he would have collapsed under the power.

Someone opened the doors, he held up a hand – the person held the door open for him. He nodded his thanks as he slipped past the door, his head ducked for a moment; he found some amusement in the fact that people had built such places in His name – but he envied them too. He envied the hell out of them for finding such faith and grabbing onto them so mightly.

His eyes scanned the people, he couldn’t figure out exactly the person holding his brother – but he knew he was here. The room was vibrating for him.


LUCIFER--

Ah, there it was. Gabriel had come into the grand cathedral. He could <i>feel</i> the nearness of an archangel, that vibration deep in his core that was the pleasure of the very presence of one of his closest siblings – or, once had been, at any rate. Pale eyes flicked around, but he didn't see the familiar vessel. Yet, he knew how attached his brother was to it; he wouldn't have finally abandoned it after all this time, even if he was trying to hide.


Finally, Lucifer turned, and a gentle smile curved his lips. Gabriel stood no more than a few yards away, searching the drifting humanity in the room. All Lucifer had to do was step forward a bit, or Gabriel to come the slightest bit closer, and he knew his brother would be able to pick out his grace from amongst the rats. After all, he hadn't gained the names Morningstar and Lightbringer amongst the humans for nothing. Once, he'd been the brightest, the most beautiful, the most beloved of his Father's creations. Once. Until....the apes rose from the mud and God had commanded his children to love and obey them, to watch over them.


His eyes narrowed with his thoughts, and he shook them off with only the slightest difficulty. That was the ancient past. He'd paid for his sins, he'd earned his right to walk the Earth again. Father was no longer around to pass judgment, and he'd damn well earned his place in the light again. His expression softened. He had Gabriel to thank for that, in part. And Castiel. But, one thing at a time. For now, it was Gabriel that had his attention.


He stepped forward, slow and casual, his head tilted up to admire the round windows filled with artificial light to highlight the colours trapped within the glass. It was, he had to admit, a beauty that could almost rival that of the natural world of his Father's creation. He could feel the moment Gabriel saw him, truly <i>saw</i> him within the vessel, and knew who he was. His head lowered, and he came to a stop around two yards away, stuffing his hands onto his pants' pockets. He grinned then, an expression filled not with mocking or restrained anger, but simply with the pleasure of Gabriel's presence.


So,” he said without preamble. “Castiel. I assume you felt it, too.” It was very much a statement, not a question. He knew Gabriel had to have felt it. The sheer power of the event had been nearly enough to bring <i>him</i> to his knees. There was no question Gabriel had felt it at least as powerfully.


GABRIEL--

Once the man moved, he truly saw him – it wasn’t just a man, but a man bearing his brother. He still held the brightness that once labeled him, before the fall. Gabriel squinted ever so slightly, almost to ward off the glare, even if it was a bit dimmer in here. A slight chuckle as he tried to decide what to do next. Lucifer was…

What he was.

Gabriel was the same. They both were lost and seeking. Which was odd, they used to be so secure in their place in the world, the universe; and now, here they were, among His creations. He knew Lucifer wasn’t loving it – he had never loved the Humans the way Castiel did, or Tamiel, or many others that had started their descent. His lips twisted in thought.

Finally, he made the step forward, not sure about the grin that was present on the vessel’s face; it was pure Lucifer, that joy of his. Then he stopped moving, allowing Lucifer to close the gap, the vibrations settled as they got closer. Any other person would have bowed under this; but not them. He tilted his head curiously. “Who though?” He studied Lucifer, “is it wise?”

Silence, “you know how it almost killed us.” He added, a little look on his face as he let himself drift away into the past.


LUCIFER--

Lucifer shrugged, not really concerned with whether it had been a wise thing to happen or not. It was done, and, short of killing Castiel, there was nothing they could do to reverse it. “Who knows? On either count, who knows. There aren't many powerful enough to make a thing like that happen.” He paused, rocking back on his heels slightly, head canting to the side as he considered it seriously for a moment. “As much as Father seems to like the little seraph...excuse me, <i>former</i> seraph,” a grin flashed again, “I doubt he stepped in quite that directly.”


He grew serious again, letting his eyes rove over his brother, seeing the faintest taint of uncertainty and loss weighing down on his grace, tainting his very being. Hmm. Gabriel was broken, as broken as Castiel, as broken as Lucifer himself, perhaps...each in their own ways. “Our..Aunt couldn't have stirred up that much power, not where she is. And...it's far too calculated a move for her. She wouldn't do something to right the balance. If anything, she'd try to push things further out of balance.”


His brows rose, surprise flooding his expression. “Death? If the new ultimate reaper has gotten that powerful already, he might have found a way to do it. Perhaps...”


He shook his head, dismissing it from his mind. It simply didn't matter to him how it had happened. It happened. “The question, really, is what do we do about it? If anything. Castiel...he's so <i>good</i>.” Lucifer managed to not quite sneer as he said it. He didn't even really mean the venom that laced his tone anymore. But, habits sometimes died all the harder when you were as ancient as he was. “Somehow, I doubt he'll abuse the power. But...I'm not sure if we should leave him to flounder with it on his own, or...help him.”


Lucifer chuckled ruefully. “Not that he'd be likely to take any help from me. We didn't exactly part as friends. I suspect he still harbours...a bit of enmity toward me.”


GABRIEL--

Father wouldn’t,” he grimaced a bit, “or else there’d be a lot of… alterations.” He lifted his eyebrows at Lucifer, knowing his brother would understand without further explanation. A shake of his head as he refocused, pulling his attention away from the past, the so, so, so many years that yawned from beginning of creation until today. He chuckled a bit at Lucifer, “former seraph.” It was amazing that he could call another brother one of them.

“You do know his new declaration, right?” He looked at Lucifer, “no more renewals. Dead is dead. Do you think Castiel could handle another Winchester death?” An amused little look before letting it fade, he wished he could have been like Castiel, sympathetic enough to pull some out of that area, just letting them live again. But he knew what was Dead is dead; he was about upsetting the universe – but not the balance. He dropped the subject of Death as well, following his brother’s lead.

“We should help him,” he paused, studying Lucifer. “I guess it’s me then,” he lifted his eyebrows, a mirthless chuckle spilled from his lips.

“When did we start helping each other again?”


LUCIFER--

He inclined his head in agreement. Their Father never could seem to quite keep himself from meddling once he started. It might be a blasphemous thought, but...Lucifer really didn't care. He had...what was that term the humans used of late? Ah, he had zero fucks to give where his Father was concerned. Lucifer had been punished for loving Him too much. He felt he owed his Father nothing anymore. Faith in his Creator was a thing long dead in the archangel's heart.


Yes, that had reached me. Honestly, it's about time. Though, I suspect there will be some deaths corrected before that comes into full force. If he's as serious about correcting the imbalances that have happened since, ah, the apocalypse, as he seems to be.” He paused, brows raising as he truly considered what Castiel's reaction to the death of a Winchester might be, especially given his newly changed state.


The question was...should it actually even be his concern? Trying to find his place in this new world, where he fit into it, it was perplexing at times. Sometimes, he wanted to smite every little ape-rat he encountered. At other times...he almost felt sorry for them. It might not be the love of them Castiel had, or the admiration he'd seen in Gabriel back in that hotel when the apocalypse was still on the table, but...it was something that felt strange for him, nonetheless.


That could be...problematic,” he finally admitted. “He would do nearly anything for those Winchesters.” He said this with the tone of someone intimately aware of the depth of Castiel's feelings on the subject at hand. Then again, he'd spent quite some time snuggled up, of sorts, with the little seraph. While Castiel had been willing to sacrifice his very being to save the world, he had been <i>quite</i> vocal about anything he felt was a betrayal or violation of the Winchesters in any way. Honestly, it had gotten rather tiresome by the forced end of their little arrangement.


Unaware of just how much of his thoughts and feelings he gave away on his vessel's face as he'd ruminated over the hypothetical situation, he forced his focus back to Gabriel. He hummed noncommittally. “It's up to you, if you feel we should get involved. And only if you're willing.” His lips twisted into a faint smile, though one that had tinges of regret about the edges. “After all, no one makes us do anything.” The words, of course, echoed back to that hotel, and he, at least in this moment, didn't mind letting his brother see his regret for what happened then.


A casual shrug masked Lucifer's surprise at Gabriel's question, though his brows lifted slightly with the emotion. He pulled a hand out of his pocket to run the fingers over his vessel's short hair before letting the hand drop to his side. Something about Gabriel's question stirred his vessel's attention, the cooperative – even helpful – human seeming to feel there was something important about that question that Lucifer himself was missing. With a touch of a scowl, he silenced the whisper of Tristan's awareness.


I suppose when the the thing we were created to combat slipped her prison,” he finally replied after the silence had stretched out a bit. “In the end, it seems like sometimes we still follow Father's plans for us.” He hesitated, pale eyes growing distant, actually nibbling at his lower lip as he thought about what he wanted to say, and whether he even should say it.


Then, finally, “I've found myself thinking, sometimes, lately... Wondering if it wasn't meant by Him. Somehow.” His focus returned, trained full force onto Gabriel, and with it an honesty and openness he rarely showed, even when he was, in fact, being honest. “All of it, I mean.” He gestured vaguely, not even entirely sure himself what he meant by 'all' even as he said it. “Isn't it strange that it brought us all together, when nothing else on Earth or in Heaven would ever have been likely to? And now, with Castiel one of <i>us</i>...” He shrugged, stuffing his hand back into his pocket, his eyes hooded once again as the strange moment passed and his mood shifted.


He chuckled, some of the old darkness lingering in the sound. “I'm not even sure what I'm saying.”


GABRIEL--

Gabriel gave a slow nod, “the Winchesters – they’re his humans,” he screwed up his face for a moment, again, just that brief burst of jealousy. “It’s interesting,” he manages to allow some of that slip, “how people,” he pauses, considering, “and angels have something to believe in.” A slight quirk of his lips, “we’re the ones that’ve been here forever, yet, we can’t seem to believe.” He glanced over at the people in the room, then to his brother, “why is that?”

He fell quiet, giving a slow nod as he listened to Lucifer talk. “No one makes us do anything, yet… they design our…” He squinted, glancing down at his hands, studying the lines that marked his palms. “Our fates,” he scoffed a bit at the word, it was not the right word – but Lucifer would understand, so Gabriel believed. A beat, then he studied his brother, his vessel; even if it was a vessel, he could see Lucifer plainly. He quirked his lips,

“That would be so like Him to do that.” His eyes meeting Lucifer’s stare, unblinkingly.

“It took a little seraph to reunite us,” he squinted a bit, then rolled his shoulders, not sure how he liked that. It was different when they had reunited to fight a force that threatened everything in creation – but now…?

A shake of his head, he chuckled at his brother, “that’s the thing. We’re not so sure anymore, remember when we used to be kings?” He flashed his brother a melancholy smile.


LUCIFER--

Because, brother mine, we've seen things they never have and never will.” A casual shrug and a quick, easy smirk. “And we've learned that faith, belief in something outside ourselves... Well, it's more likely to bring disappointment than anything else.” His eyes narrowed, studying Gabriel. “It's not worth being jealous of them. The Winchesters will pass in a blink of an eye, and Castiel will be left with the pain of that for the rest of his life.” He paused, a rather unkind chuckle falling from his lips. “Which, now, may actually be longer than I'd originally given him.”


He did understand. That was the thing. He understood this particular younger brother out of all his countless siblings, probably better than he'd ever understood <i>any</i> of his siblings. After all, he was suddenly reminded, Gabriel ran away once because he couldn't choose between his brothers, despite Michael's standing in Heaven. Somehow, that seemed to count for more than the confrontation that had finally pitted him against Lucifer. Even then, he still hadn't chosen Michael's side, but humanity's.


Shaking his head slightly, he drove the thoughts of the past, of that particular part of their past, away. He didn't want to dwell on that pain and regret now, not when Gabriel stood here before him, the broken taint on his grace somehow only accentuating all the things he loved about his brother. And he did still love him, even after everything. Perhaps because of it.


Destiny,” he finally said softly, trying the word out. His lips twisted with dissatisfaction; that word wasn't quite right, either. Still, he had to agree, that agreement plain in the flash of a twisted grin, gone as fast as it had appeared. “If He's going to be absent, I wish he'd stop meddling.”


A thought struck him. “I certainly hope he didn't manage to influence Death – if it really was Death that found a way to make a new archangel. Father has seemed unreasonably fond of Castiel recently.” His jaw clenched, a wave of jealousy washing over him. Castiel shouldn't even have been on their Father's radar, not by comparison of His first children. And yet God had left him to rot in Hell, had left Gabriel to flounder alone, had left all of Heaven in the control of Michael and his crusade, had left Raphael – who, if he'd ever been asked, Lucifer would have cheerfully admitted to wanting to kill himself for such a very long time – to his own devices. But...their Father had favoured Castiel repeatedly with his blessings.


Pushing aside the bitter jealousy, he laughed. “We used to be, yes. Kings among mankind. Very nearly gods ourselves.” His head tilted, studying Gabriel intently before speaking again, his tone carefully neutral. “We could be again. It wouldn't be hard. They're still so...naive, so like sheep.”


GABRIEL--

Gabriel looked at Lucifer, a soft chuckle, “careful now, one might accuse of you of still being hateful toward them.” He looked over at the humans for emphasis before looking back at his brother with a lift of his eyebrows, a very faint shadow of the trickster he had been at one point. His lips skewed, a shake of his head as he rubbed at his lips. “A brief moment in eternity. I hope he doesn’t destroy himself for them,” he spoke so softly, it was almost imperceptible.

He rubbed at his face, “well, whatever the plan is, it’s working; so maybe there is something about… What is it they say?” He thought for a moment, staring at the backs of the humans, “oh, `He works in mysterious ways`.” He cracks a grin, “pretty mysterious, seeing how He’s been gone for this long.” A shake of his head, he shifted back onto the heels of his feet, “He’s never going to stop, you know that. They have free will, and we have…” He paused, “well, we had only orders.” His eyes met Lucifer’s, knowing full well that Lucifer knew what Gabriel was thinking about.

All those bodies.

A shake of his head, he had to mentally shake himself away from those memories. That was the downside of being so old, all those damn memories wouldn’t just fade away into the past. They just liked to pile up.

“No,” he shook his head at Lucifer, “I wouldn’t want to be a king again. Not with how much they believe now.” He gave a look of horror, “imagine the pressure.”


LUCIFER--

Lucifer shrugged, distaste flickering across his features, though he didn't deign to respond otherwise. He could admit that humans could be useful, sometimes. But admiration of them that Gabriel seemed to still hold to, well, that was something about his brother he couldn't understand. Even if Castiel had managed to shift his views on the rats somewhat, so that he no longer desired to see them all burn, something as crass as admiring them – let alone loving them – was something he had no desire to bother with.


More likely that we'll have to destroy him, at this point, than that he will destroy himself,” he said firmly. It was a thought that brought no qualms, no hesitation. If the newest archangel lost his mind to grief or rage or vengeance over the humans he so adored, Lucifer wouldn't hesitate to cage him away, or even put him down the way humans did a rabid pet. He might not adore humanity, but he refused to see the beauty of his Father's Creation destroyed.


He shifted slightly, letting his eyes move from Gabriel for the first time since catching sight of him, his gaze roaming around the room as he did, taking in the little rats wandering about in awe of their own creation. He had to resist the sudden urge to do something, anything, so show them they indeed did have a holy presence beneath this cathedral roof – two of them in fact – though not at all in any way they would have been likely to imagine.


He pulled his focus back to Gabriel, hearing the not-quite-masked pain his his voice, immediately understanding where his brother's thoughts led him. “Not anymore, brother. We're as free as <i>they</i> are now. We've earned that. There are no more orders, no more bloodbaths or wars or bowing to things lesser than us – unless we choose to. We get to choose our own paths now.” He paused, a momentary flicker of doubt showing in pale eyes. “For better or worse, we have to choose what to do now.” He rocked back on his heels, eyes growing distant. “Free will. True free will. Imagine that.”


A smirk at his brother's look of horror twisted his lips. Somehow, he was relieved that his brother hadn't grasped at his implied offer. He hadn't really meant it anyway. “Well, that's why I'm here instead of stepping on Crowley's throat in Hell. Far too tiresome being a king, anyway.”


GABRIEL--

Destroy him?” Gabriel looked over at Lucifer, a look of surprise then understanding. It would be an act of mercy, he understood that much; but it was sad thinking about having to do that. So much destruction needed over things that haven’t been around as long as them. “Destroy him,” he repeated himself, a slow nod as he gave Lucifer that look. “It’d be…” He lifted his eyebrows, “yeah.” He couldn’t continue the thought, it was already killing him thinking about it and it wouldn’t happen for years yet – not if Castiel had his way.

“Then what are we to do with ourselves? You’ve seen the mess up there with all the free will oozing out of our pores.” He chuckled softly, “it’s like we’ve forgotten how to be. We’re so used to being soldiers, guardians, healers, and guides that…” He spread his hands out, “we’re fucked, eh?” Sure, that wasn’t a perfectly poetic answer, but the phrase was perfect in description of how things were.

He shifted around to find something to lean on, crossing his arms as he studied Lucifer. “You would have liked it, some small part of you.” He chuckled, “but it’s too much work.” A shake of his head, “all that pressure, it’d be the same as before – making the decisions and hoping that we’re making the right ones. Not worth it.”

LUCIFER--

He nodded, satisfied that Gabriel understood the intentions behind his words. Then again, he always had, more often than not, understood Lucifer's intentions, even if he didn't agree with them. Castiel was...well, he was a peculiar little angel. But, Lucifer wasn't in a hurry to end his existence. He was, sometimes, despite his strange attachment to that pair of humans, often interesting. Even more so, now.


A laugh burst from him. “Yes, fucked is...a crude but surprisingly accurate way to describe our situation.” He shrugged, eyes hardening. “To continue being so crude, screw them. I really mean it. I'm done with the lot of them. I'm too busy figuring myself out,” he admitted abruptly in a rare moment of raw honesty.


He hesitated, a look of only partially mocking horror crossing his features. “If they get things together enough to realize we're still around, you know they're going to come after one or another of us to lead again. Maybe even me, despite my past...sins. Sometimes, they're worse little sheep than the rats are.”


He shook his head, a thoughtful frown creasing his forehead. “I won't have anything to do with that mess. Leading anything is too much trouble right now. That mess? Absolutely not. I don't imagine you would, either,” a searching look as he said this, though he didn't expect anything but agreement, not from Gabriel. “But Castiel...if they approach him, that could be a whole new mess of trouble. The little angel never can seem to resist when he's asked to lead for the supposed greater good.”


GABRIEL--

Gabriel gave a genuine grin as he heard Lucifer using a crude word, it was funny how his brother could be such a shining example, yet so… corrupt. A shake of his head, “never thought I’d hear you say that.” He ran his hands down the front of his thighs, chuckling at Lucifer, “it’s a mess up there.” He lifted his eyes heavenward, “worse than down here,” his eyes levelled back at Lucifer. “Is it a wonder I’d rather be here? Especially in Paris?” He grinned, “city of lights beat city of angels any day.”

The grin faded, he studied his brother, “I haven’t used my Angel radio in ages,” he blinked, amused at the use of words, then he shrugged it away. “I’m always moving, I’m surprised you’ve found me.” He chuckled under his breath, knowing why and how Lucifer found him. “But… yeah, it’s best to keep moving.”

He fell silent, crinkling his nose in distaste at the thought of leading Heaven. “At one time, I might have been tempted. Can you imagine? Booze, chicks, and tricks?” He joked, half-heartedly, “but naw.” A shake of his head, “it’s a mess and I won’t touch it.” He fell silent again, considering Lucifer’s words, a slow nod. “Then Castiel needs more help than he thinks.” A frown, “he’d go to the ends of earth if it meant saving everyone; but himself.”

He crinkled his nose, “that’s the difference between him and us, we’re still trying to figure out if we’re worth sharing, he’s trying to figure out if he’s worth saving.” Silence, “I guess I’ll go annoy him.”


LUCIFER--

He laughed, an easy and surprisingly gentle sound. “I may have been out of touch for a long time and lacking your worldly experience, but I'm picking it up...with a little help.” He tapped his temple, lips twisting into a rueful grin, knowing Gabriel wouldn't miss the reference to what could be actual cooperation between himself and his vessel. Quite the change for him, but...everything else had changed, perhaps it was time he did as well.


He grew serious, eyes flicking over Gabriel's face, and to his grace resting below the surface, studying him. “I hope, eventually, you don't feel you have to run anymore.” He sighed. “Don't hide from me anymore, little brother. I'd rather have you against my back, guarding should the need arise. Certainly rather than skulking in shadows. You're better than that. <i>We</i> are better than that.” Ugh, feelings. His time in the light was making him soft. Still, he meant what he said.


Lucifer's lips quirked into an amused smile. “You? No, I can't really imagine. But you seemed to fool all the others with your little guise.” The smile turned to a smirk. “I don't think you'd have fooled me, though. I know all your tricks. Taught you most of them.” His eyes grew distant as he thought back to that almost impossibly ancient time, the smirk shifting into a gentle, fond smile.


He snapped back to the present when Gabriel spoke again, and nodded his agreement. It was a fair assessment of the pair of them, really. Slowly, considering his words carefully lest he let any hint of the madness that had once consumed him take hold, he responded, “he doesn't believe he's worth saving. I'm sure, even now, he doesn't believe it.” His eyes narrowed. “As much as I am loathe to say it, he needs to have some belief. He has too much of the little rank-and-file soldier in him to be completely without belief. He needs, I think, to believe in himself, if nothing else.”


He shook his head, irritation flashing in his eyes. “I think I spent too much time riding him. I'm almost... <i>fond</i> of him, now that he's one of <i>us</i>. I'm getting soft, brother.” Despite the irritation, there was a bewildered amusement in his voice, as though he wasn't even sure how he was supposed to feel about things anymore. And that...wasn't far from the truth.


Go on then. Heaven and Hell know he wouldn't have anything to do with me trying to help.” His eyes lingered on Gabriel. “But I meant it. Don't hide, at least from me. I find...sometimes...I miss my little brother's company.”


GABRIEL--

Gabriel lifted his eyebrows in surprise that his brother was actually taking things from the vessel, it used to be that Lucifer would just ride them to the point of insanity then discard them. Maybe he was growing up. Such an odd thing to think about, all of them growing up – some apart and some more closer together. His lips quirked as he studied Lucifer. “Just don’t destroy that one,” he smiled a bit, “he’s a good looking vessel.”

Silence, he rubbed at his forehead, needing something to do with his hands. He wasn’t sure about being in one building for so long, especially with another archangel. It was like a blazing neon sign: `hey! Archangels you really, really want to destroy hiding out in here!` He fidgeted, a slight smile as he studied his brother, “just call.” He paused, “I’ll come running,” another pause, “within reason. You know what I would do for you,” which was true. They had been through a lot before Lucifer fell; even then, it had been odd to have him gone. There had been moments where he’d turn to find Lucifer, wanting to tell him something and… nothing there.

He cleared his throat, grinning at his brother, “I picked up a few more along the way.” He rolled his shoulders, that slight light glimmering in his eyes before they faded. “I’ll have to teach you something new,” he squinted, “if you can even learn new things.”

Finally, he pushed himself off of the prop, stretching as he rolled his neck. “Of course he doesn’t believe, we’ve spent too damn much time thinking we were expendable soldiers. Well, them more than us. We’re the first, the best.. Or we were.” He grinned somewhat before he gave Lucifer a light punch on his shoulder, “we’re all getting soft. It’s our old age,” he sighed, “ever feel your age?” He chuckled as he tucked his hands into his pockets, looking down at his shoes before glancing up at his brother out of the corner of his eyes.

“Miss you too,” he nodded somewhat, “you know how to call me.” He tugged a hand out of his pocket and tapped at his brother’s forehead before moving to turn. “Next time, let’s find a nice little café that serves amazing danishes or something.”


LUCIFER--

Lucifer smirked, trying very hard to avoid the thoughts that he knew had to have run through Gabriel's mind about so many of his former vessels, back before the Cage, and even Nick, afterward. Though, Nick...he'd actually felt for, the slightest bit. It hadn't been the man's fault he wasn't strong enough to contain an archangel, let alone Lucifer himself. He simply hadn't been of the right bloodline. Tristan, however...


I'm certain this one will last a good long while,” he said firmly, sure Gabriel would understand the sheer luck in finding Tristan Campbell Ross when he had.


His smirk widened into a grin, teeth showing. “Within reason. Of course.” He was pleased that Gabriel was exercising some caution, even if it caused a pang of faint pain he was careful to mask from his brother. Lucifer didn't yet completely trust himself, it was best that Gabriel not completely trust him yet, either. Still... “Just remember, Gabriel. I'd do the same for you. I...know there was a time neither of us could be sure of what I would do, “a flicker of that hidden pain crept into his eyes anyway, despite his efforts to keep it locked away, “but, now, all you have to do is call, and I will come.”


A fond chuckle, the flare of familiar grace almost like a caress against his own, bringing with it the warmth of companionship he'd not had in far too long..and, perhaps, even the hope of more to come. “I look forward to it, little brother.”


He sobered, though a faint smile appeared at the companionable punch to his shoulder, allowing himself to rock back with the contact. “I feel my age immensely, far too often.” The smile twisted into a smirk. “I'm <i>still</i> the best, and don't you forget it, brother mine.”


He nodded, slowly, reaching out to rest his had on his brother's shoulder briefly. “Just a prayer away” He tried to keep his tone light, but a bit of sadness crept into it anyway. This was it, then. Gabriel was going to flit off again, and Lucifer could only try to trust that he would keep to his word and not hide himself away from his older brother. “As long as there's good tea and something sweet, that sounds...good.” And it did, he realized. It really did.


Take care of yourself, Gabriel. Don't let little Castiel's pet humans catch you.” That, too, was meant to be light, a joke. But, he meant it, with an intensity that almost took the breath he didn't really need away.