[ Master Post ]
Title: Holy Water, Holy Earth
Characters: Gabriel ♅, Nico ♂, The Magdalenes ♀, Father Peter ♂, Lucian ♂
Rating: T" width="32px" /> (L2 N2 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Blasphemy, naked archangel, horrified priest, way too much pastry
Notes: Lucian gets his ass handed to him (but you should see the other guy). Gabriel is left to clean up the mess. Yes, I will eventually write what actually happened between Michael and Lucian, but that doesn’t really go here. Lucian’s trying not to get too specific.
[ Master Post ]
Gabriel kicked the door shut, hands full of boxes from the Italian pastry shop up the street, gracefully passing the stairs to step into Lucian’s living room.
"Lightbringer? I brought you a —" Gabi stopped, setting the pastry boxes on the table as it knelt beside the couch, where Lucian lay, looking like a sand sculpture of himself. "Luci? What did you do? You’d never have tried to change inside. And not here. We’re a hundred miles from the nearest— I know you’re still in here, Lovelight."
Up went the turquoise and gold-trimmed linen drape that hung before and behind Gabriel’s leather-clad legs, decorations clattering as the angel swept the cloth over one arm and leapt over the couch and Lucian on it. Gabriel went for the kitchen — juice and honey, a tall glass, a long spoon.
"Lucifer, you idiot. You know better. Better than all of us," Gabriel muttered, slipping spoons of honey and banana juice between Lucian’s strangely dusty-looking lips. The same gritty, dull brown had taken the surface of all his visible skin, but Gabriel kept moving, swiftly and precisely, one spoonful after another.
Lucian’s chest heaved, with a gasp, and the sand cracked, tiny bits sprinkling across the couch and into Gabriel’s lap.
"Don’t move!" The windows hummed and a empty bottle of Tequila Rose exploded on the end table.
One hand still spooning liquid into Lucian’s mouth, Gabriel grabbed Lucian’s phone off the table with the other. Didn’t open it, didn’t dial it, just spoke with the phone in its hand. A benefit to being a holy messenger — one’s messages tended to get where they were going. "Nicholas, bring holy water. Gallons. Bring a priest, if you must. Meet me at Lucian’s. The door is unlocked."
"Don’t move, Morning-star. Just swallow. Don’t tell me, yet. Tell me when Nico gets here. Tell me when you can breathe without breaking." The spoon wasn’t fast enough, now. Gabriel mixed another glass and slowly trickled it into Lucian’s mouth, watching his lips regain some resiliency, feeling the heat begin to build at the core of his chest, still too little for even Nico to notice, but Gabriel had been through this, before.
"We almost lost you, Luci. That’s not right, at all. That shouldn’t be possible, not with you."
They were halfway through the sixth glass, when Nico arrived, three Magdalenes and a priest in tow. "Gabi?"
"We’re in here, Nico." Gabriel’s voice remained strangely subdued.
Nico rushed into the room, hauling the priest along, and leaving the Magdalenes to guard against further intrusions. "Gabi, Father Peter. Father Peter, Gabriel. There was only one person I could think of who wouldn’t have me locked up if I said the archangel Gabriel called and asked me to bring several gallons of holy water. And you owe me a new phone, you dick."
"I’ll fix it later. Leave it on the table." Gabriel stopped pouring for the moment it took to smile at the priest. "Thank you for coming, F—father." It choked on the word. "Fill the sink, Nico. I need wet towels. And bring me the other jug of banana juice."
"May I ask about the issue? Nico was unclear on the details." Father Peter looked uncertain about the whole affair, as if he had never quite taken Nico’s stunts and blessings quite literally.
Gabriel looked up again, pinning the priest with its heterochromatic eyes. "You may ask me anything you like, once Lucian is well enough to answer." The voice swept through the room, perfectly clearly, despite the multitude of tones and languages, and the priest rocked back on his heels as if he’d been slapped.
Lucian’s tongue darted across his lower lip, briefly splashing the thin trickle of juice across his cheek.
"Stop moving, my light of truth," Gabriel purred as Nico returned with a ceramic jug.
"Sorry, Gabi. He’s out of banana. Mango?" Nico held up the jug.
Gabriel held out the glass. "I don’t think he’s in any condition to care. Open a bottle of that wine he likes, and put it on the table over there. I don’t want him kicking it, when he wakes up."
"Father, the sink?" Nico reminded him, pouring another glass of juice for Gabriel, and setting the jug next to the pastry boxes. "That’s a box of struffoli, isn’t it?"
"Of course it is. Would I bribe my way into Luci’s graces with anything less?"
"Gabi." The cork popped out of the wine. "You usually bribe your way into his graces by taking things off. Of him."
A non-committal hum accompanied the roll of Gabriel’s eyes. "Go get his big towels, and throw them in the sink. If he gets pissed about the couch, it means he’s well enough to comprehend what we’ve done to it."
Gabriel poured more of the sweet liquid into Lucian’s mouth. He seemed to actually be swallowing, now, rather than just letting it soak into the inside of his mouth. "Burn it up, Lovelight. Don’t make me wait for you to start from scratch, again."
"Is he actually—?" Nico hovered nervously on the other side of the couch, clutching a sodden bathtowel.
"No, but if we don’t get that holy water on him, he’s going to lose this body. It’ll be a week, at least, before he can get a new one at all, and it’ll be months before he manages one he likes." Gabriel snatched the towel and wrapped it gently around Lucian. "Bring another. This won’t last long."
A red-gold colour began to suffuse Lucian’s skin, where the water soaked into it, and the heat of his body approached a human temperature.
"Holy water, holy earth," Gabriel muttered, pouring another glass of juice.
Lucian coughed, and Gabriel snapped at him again, one hand gently tracing the curve of Lucian’s forehead. "Don’t move! You know what happens if you move, before we’re done!" The glass top of the coffee table vibrated and glass tinkled in the kitchen.
Gabriel peeled off the first towel, now nearly dry, as Nico brought another. "Start it over his face. He keeps trying to talk."
They swapped towels, and Gabriel set aside the juice for a moment. It was safe enough, for now. Lucian would be able to drink for himself, soon.
"He’s getting better?" Nico asked. "How did he do this? I’ve never seen this happen."
"He’s getting better. Or, at least, his body is coming back. You know the morning-star; it would take much more than this to harm him." Gabriel sighed and took a sip of the juice. "He burned out. Something happened, and he burned out the body. He’s stocked for it, so it shouldn’t have happened. It takes a lot to get him to give up a shell, though. Maybe he got in a fight he should have left the shell for — maybe he did leave it, and it burned out waiting for him. Maybe he raised a miracle that should’ve taken two of us. Whatever he did, he knew better. My brother, our light of truth, has been here longer than your entire ancestral line. This shouldn’t have happened. He knows better."
A blurry smear of sound that might’ve been Gabriel’s name emanated from under the towel.
"Juice?" Gabriel asked, as Nico took the dry towel back to the kitchen.
"Ehh. Ngorh." ‘Yes, more‘, Gabriel thought, folding the towel back from Lucian’s face.
"You’re an idiot, Lightbringer."
"As long as we’re in agreement." Gabriel poured more juice into Lucian’s mouth, watching as he swallowed it much more easily.
At the end of the glass, Lucian spoke again, more clearly. "Michael."
"Michael needs to mind his own, and keep out of your business and mine. I don’t suppose Dad had anything to say, not that you’d have heard. I’ll ask Izzy. Izzy’s still up there." The ringing of all the glass in the house seemed to indicate that Gabriel’s apparent fluster covered an extraordinary holy wrath.
Nico and the priest stepped back into the room, each carrying wet towels, and Gabriel waved them closer, wrapping the towels around Lucian. "Luci, this is Father Peter. You can thank him for your recovery."
The ringing did not abate.
"Thangk," Lucian slurred.
"Is it safe to undress you, yet?" Gabriel asked. "I want to be sure all of you is taking the water."
"Bud’ns," Lucian confirmed. "Juice?"
Gabriel poured him another glass, and this time, Lucian’s hand closed around it, bringing it to his own mouth. As he drank, Gabriel unbuttoned his shirt and nodded to Nico for another towel.
"You’re still a little gritty around the belt. Left side looks good. Right side looks sloppy. Don’t lay on your side, next time, Lovelight."
"Tell it to Michael," Lucian breathed, finally stringing words together almost properly.
"Nico? Get the bowl from the freezer and a metal spoon, while you’re in there."
A smile tugged at the corners of Lucian’s mouth. "You know me so well."
"Mecca. Hashish." Gabriel shrugged and gestured to a chair. "Father Peter, please sit down."
The priest took one of the leather armchairs. "Who is your friend, and why did you need holy water?"
"I expect you have accepted, by now, that I am, in fact, an angel." Gabriel poured another glass of juice for Lucian, and then stood, for the first time in the priest’s presence. "You should also know that I will deny it. I’m just another trashy celebutante, as far as anyone knows, and I work with Nico. However, I owe you a great favour, and you may pray to me to call that in."
"Show him, Gabi," came Lucian’s voice from behind Gabriel’s back. "Show me, so I know I have my head on."
Gabriel sighed and discomposed itself, streaks of blue and gold bleeding out of the spaces between things. The room resonated, the windows hummed, the walls shrieked. And just as quickly, there stood Gabriel, whole again, but for the two wing-shaped splashes of golden light bleeding from its back. A roll of the shoulders, and those were gone, as well, leaving an androgynous blond in outrageous attire.
"Feeling better, Light-bringer?"
"Almost." Lucian’s eyes lit on the box on the table. "Is that a box of struffoli?"
"Eat the sweet cream, first. You’ll thank me later." Gabriel didn’t even turn around, but it heard Nico pass the bowl and spoon to Lucian. "In answer to your actual question, Father, Lucian is my brother. Nico is, well, my half-brother."
"Ah-ah-ah!" Gabriel raised a finger. "We needed our father’s blessing and several gallons of water to recover the shell Lucian was using. The fastest way to get that was to drag you into it. There are other ways, but they would have taken more time, and under the circumstances, they would have been less pleasing for all of us."
"Shell?" The priest finally asked.
"We don’t possess people. We also don’t look like this, naturally. The flaming wheel with all the wings and eyes is … also wrong, but probably closer. So we make shells, for when we must walk among men."
It looked like Gabriel might have something more to say, but Lucian interrupted. "Look away! You were right about the cream, Gabi."
Gabriel’s eyes shot wide. "Close your eyes, if you want to keep them!"
Lucian dropped the bowl, discomposing in a flare of red-gold light that licked at the ceiling and the floor, probably temporarily blinding the neighbours, through the drapes. As he composed himself, now undressed, but fully functional, onto the sofa, he reached for the first box of pastry. "I’d invite you to come share these with me, Gabi, but you got my couch all wet."
"It’s Michael’s fault," Gabriel snapped, turning toward Lucian. "And you’re not wearing any pants. Nico, go get your brother a dry towel."
"Is it safe?"
"He’s done. You, Father, may wish to look away a little longer." Gabriel laughed and the liquor cabinet sang out.
"You are Gabriel," Father Peter began. "His name isn’t Lucian, is it?"
"His name is whatever he says it is, or whatever I feel like calling him. He’s easy. Answers to so many things." Gabriel had a habit of playing with the truth, far less bound to keeping it whole, than Lucian.
Lucian stood up, wrapping a towel around his waist, claimed the box of struffoli, and dropped into a dry chair, beside the priest. "You can stop protecting me, Gabi. I’m not the devil. It’s a typo." He offered the box to Father Peter. "Struffoli? They’re from the place up the street. Best I’ve had since the last time I was in Naples."
"He’s right. The Adversary is another of the — Our father’s… brother, let’s say. More power than either of us could wield." Gabriel’s fingers dipped into the box, snagging one of the sticky-sweet pastries. "Luci just had a nasty fight with Dad and got kicked out of the house, to put it in the most human of terms."
"He’s inconsistent," Lucian snarled, licking honey off his fingers. "And Michael’s a prick."
"Michael’s such a daddy’s boy. He really doesn’t know any better. Can’t imagine disagreeing with the all-father," Gabriel explained. "Did he really come down to start with you? Now? Here?"
"Now. Here. I discomposed his shell and sent him home with a big ‘kick me’ sticker on his ass." Lucian laughed. "He can’t win, down here. Not by himself."
"He still almost sent you to the river," Gabriel reminded him.
"I knew one of you would find me, if I stayed put. Couldn’t quite make it to the kitchen. Drank all the Tequila Rose, though. Sorry, Gabi. I’ll get you some more." Lucian pulled Gabriel down into his lap, and set the box on Gabriel’s thighs.
Gabriel swiped another pastry. "Oh, that’s not the only thing you’ll be getting me, Lovelight."
"What… would happen if the shell didn’t recover?" Father Peter asked.
"I would whine, spectacularly, for as long as it took me to make a new one. And then I would sulk along the Italian coastline for a few months, eating pastry, before I came back. Can’t leave Nico to his own devices. Not in this world. He got himself killed, the last time we left him alone." Lucian grinned and offered the box to the priest again. "Eat, Father, a bit of Italian pastry makes everything a little more bearable, even my brothers."
"I did not get myself killed," Nico grumbled, poking at the boxes that still sat on the table.
"No, I’m pretty sure you did. I was a little late, but I got there."
"Ok, but it was entirely on purpose. It was political. Is this sfogliatelle?"
"I can take him everywhere. I just can’t leave him anywhere." Lucian shrugged.
"Ooh, if that’s the sfogliatelle, then the other box is the rainbow cookies!" Gabriel stretched a hand toward Nico and batted its eyes.
"You brought rainbow cookies? I love you, Gabi." Nico snatched up the box and pulled over another chair, sitting on Lucian’s other side, and holding up a confection of marzipan, chocolate, and jam for Gabriel, who licked it from his fingers.
"Mmm, you love me anyway," Gabriel muttered around a mouthful.
Father Peter finally took a honey-ball from the box Lucian still held out to him. "I admit, I was expecting something a little more…"
"Grand? Commanding?" Nico asked. "Appropriately dressed?"
Gabriel’s eyes rolled like marbles in oil. "If I knew I was going to have to be an archangel, today, I’d have dressed for it. I thought I was just going to come over here and rearrange my brother’s innards for a while, while we ate cake."
"My innards, Gabriel? Are you so sure?" One of Lucian’s hands disappeared behind Gabriel, but Nico could still see it as he pressed his fingers in, just beside Gabriel’s spine. A wicked smile danced across his face.
"Lucian! Not in front of the priest!" Nico hissed, as Gabriel’s smile grew dangerous, tongue flicking across its teeth.
"Forgive us, Father. Luci’s social skills are a little damaged by his recent discomposure. It is simply a game, among angels. One that sits poorly upon mortal eyes. Think of it as enthusiastic wrestling that may not obey all the laws of physics." Gabriel’s relation to the truth was a bit flexible, but that wasn’t too far off point, even with Lucian’s fingers embedded in his back.
"Is that my wine?" Lucian finally noticed the open bottle. "Go get my wine, Gabi."
As soon as Gabriel was off his lap, Lucian stood, holding the towel with one hand and setting down the box of struffoli, with the other. "I think I’m well enough to do grand and commanding. Properly dressed is going to have to wait. Like Gabriel, if you speak of it, I’ll deny everything."
Father Peter looked frightened, his eyes lighting on Nico, who just smiled.
"Ladies?" Nico called in the direction of the hall. "Gabi’s got pastry and Luci’s got no pants. You want to come in here and protect the Father?"
Howls of laughter preceded the Magdalenes into the room. Nico nodded at the box of sfogliatelle, and one of them claimed it, as they arranged themselves on the floor, in front of the priest.
"Looking good, Lucian!" one of them offered, with a grin.
"I can almost see up your towel from here!"
Nico looked at Father Peter and shrugged. "Bodyguards."
Lucian took that as his cue, tying the towel a little tighter at his hip, before he threw his head back and spread his arms, stretched his back and recomposed it, a red-gold glow bleeding over his shoulders, as four enormous, dark wings spread out from behind him. Real wings, not just the smears of light Gabriel lazily tossed around, huge, feathered wings. They were a gleaming purplish-black along the tops, with the long feathers in red, gold, and charcoal. They occupied most of the room.
"Is this what you expected of me?" Lucian asked, quietly, his voice crawling through the wood of the floor and the furniture, through the bones of everyone in the room, his eyes an unearthly blue, as he brought his gaze back down to the priest. "Something a little more magnificent than a man half-turned to dust?"
Father Peter sputtered a few times, shrinking back against the chair.
"I am the first. There are no others quite like me."
"Ain’t nothing like you, Luci!" one of the Magdalenes cheered from the floor.
Gabriel caught the eye of one of the Magdalenes, and through some combination of nods and eyebrow raises, conveyed an idea to her. She grinned back, looked up at Lucian, grabbed the towel, and pulled.
Lucian, being Lucian, let it go. He looked down at the three women howling like jackals at his feet. "You know, you could’ve just asked."
"No, we couldn’t. You know we don’t ask for us. But, it’s not for us. It’s for Gabi." The one holding the towel pointed an accusatory finger to where Gabriel stood, drinking wine out of the bottle. "Gabriel asked. I didn’t think you’d mind."
"Father Peter minds, Karina," Nico pointed out.
"I think Father Peter is the only one who minds," Gabriel laughed, the glass in the room chiming along.
Karina offered up the towel, and Lucian accepted it, tying it back on.
"Maybe I should have been a stripper, this time," he joked. "You see, Father? An angel. Gabriel owes you, but I owe you as well. I think you will be less inclined to call mine in, so you let Nico know what you need."
Lucian held out his hand to Father Peter. "Will you stay for cake, if I go put my clothes back on?"
"Aww, don’t make him get dressed!" one of the Magdalenes complained.
"I believe the bodyguards may rebel, if I ask you to dress. Still, I may stay and partake, if I am welcome." Hesitantly, Father Peter took Lucian’s hand and shook it, looking somewhat relieved when he failed to combust.
"You saved me months of work. You’re welcome to sit around and eat pastry with us. I am still going to find some pants, Karina, but I’ll take them off for you, later, if you ask nicely."
Lucian swept out of the room, still trailing two enormous pairs of wings, about as graceful, powerful, and commanding as it was possible to be while wearing nothing but a towel.