[ Master Post ]
Title: A Little Excitement Before Lunch
Characters: Nico ♂, Gabriel ♅, Kamaria ♀, Moyra ♀, Lola ♀
Rating: M (L3 N0 S0 V2 D0)
Warnings: Shootings, bigotry, head-slapping, delusions of immortality, actual immortality, oddly American points of view, and a pissed-off archangel
Notes: No great leader, in the modern world, goes without a few assassination attempts. Few, however, have irate archangels looking after them. I expect you will be offended by this, in some way. If you find any of it offensive, I’m doing it right. If you’re wondering where Gabriel’s intensely acrimonious introduction comes from, it’s inspired by Luke 1, wherein Gabriel brings news of the impending birth of John the Baptist, and curses Zacharias to silence for doubting an angel of the lord.
Another weekend, another festival. Another festival, another fundraising speech. Nico was everywhere, in the summer: midnight beach raves, midday dance parties for middle-aged socialites, Saturday morning children’s events in the park. ‘What do you need?’ he asked, and ‘What do you offer?’ So many problems solved themselves, when he put the right people in touch with each other. Not all of them, but enough to make it worthwhile.
He spoke, for five or ten minutes, in the middle of every event — the middle, so people would be there to hear him. "This problem is not just for me. Not for me, not for you, not for him or for her, this is a problem for all of us, and together we can make this work. I see you looking at me, thinking ‘just another rich black kid from the city’, and I ask you: So what? So what if I am? I’m here, now, and I’m listening to you. You tell me what’s wrong, and we all fix it together. It’s not—"
Kamaria whistled, from somewhere in the crowd, and Nico’s eyes found her almost immediately. She waved toward a man doing something with his hands that was blocked by the people in front of him, but Nico knew. Lola and Moyra shoved through knots of confused spectators. They weren’t going to make it in time. Nico saw it all, concern flashing across his face, as he gestured for the crowd to part. No one needed to be in the way.
A crack of gunfire, a white flash. And then Gabriel was just there, bullethole in the chest of its long, linen coat. One hand pulled off its sunglasses, and its eyes lit with annoyance, glowing blue and gold.
"Nicholas?" The speakers shrieked with feedback.
"I’m fine, Gabi! Is everyone else ok?" Nico scanned the crowd, some of whom had moved away from Gabriel and the gunman, but none of whom had actually fled. No one seemed quite sure what had happened. "Kama, take care of it."
Kamaria raised a hand and within moments, the security team was checking the crowd for injuries. Gabriel remained where it stood, staring into the gunman’s eyes, as the crowd moved around them, avoiding them without even a glance, almost as if they weren’t there at all.
"What purpose does this serve?" Gabriel asked, and the air rolled like thunder, under a clear sky.
"He’s oppressing our rights, as free Christian men, making us pay for these do-nothings and bitches," the gunman began, building himself up into a righteous fury.
"You’re Christian?" Gabriel’s amusement splintered the lenses of its sunglasses, and it dropped the frames.
"Of course I am! I don’t guess you’d know anything about that, but Jesus raised up his chosen people, and it’s up to us to keep the law of his book!" The man’s chest puffed, and he glared at Gabriel in disgust.
Gabriel thought the guy might actually be serious, and it was certain this should be concerning, but mostly it was just amused. It jammed a finger down the barrel of the pistol. "Don’t fire again. You’ll just blow your hand off, and I’ll laugh."
Ignoring the man’s sputtered protests, Gabriel stepped around behind him, finger still lodged in the gun. It pointed past the man’s shoulder, with its other hand. "Look at that man on the stage, the one who claims to be here to bring equality and life to all mankind. Do you know who that man is?" The words came out calm and a little too sweet, and the air rang as the speakers hummed brightly.
"Some little ghetto-rat who thinks I should pay so his inbred family can have everything for free." The gunman spit on the ground, emphatically. "Look at him taking money from good, hard-working people and spending it on these scumbags. Acting like they deserve anything but a bullet."
"You call yourself a Christian, and you can’t recognise the face of Christ?" Gabriel’s voice was soft, but the air shrieked, and the sound techs tried desperately to find the fault. Nico, in the middle of a conversation with some city policemen assigned to the event, looked disapprovingly at Gabriel, who batted its eyes and tried to look a little less entertained than it was.
"He’s telling people he’s Jesus?" The gunman sounded horrifically offended at the idea.
"No, he’s telling people he’s Nico Darby of Joyful Noise Productions, a rave DJ and philanthropist. I’m telling you he’s the exact same third son of the Holy Father who threw down in the temple in Jerusalem on his twelfth birthday, a couple thousand years ago." Gabriel’s hand patted the gunman’s shoulder, heavily. "I would know. I was there."
"You’re all delusional, and you should be locked up!"
"I should be locked up? I’m not the one who brought a gun to a dance party. How many people would you have hurt, today?"
"As many of these whores and faggots as tried to get in my way. You can’t talk about them like they’re real people. They’re just here to rub our faces in how much they stole from good families."
"I expect you’re a literate man. I understand your society encourages reading at very young ages. Have you actually read the New Testament, at all? Perhaps the part about loving your neighbour? Or the part where you shouldn’t do things with the intent simply to offend someone? Maybe the part about mercy and charity? Or the part where the third son of the Holy Father spent a substantial part of his days in the company of prostitutes, and wished them no ill?"
The gunman spun to face Gabriel, and the angel removed its finger from the barrel of the gun, letting the man press the gun up under its chin.
"Are you so afraid that all the children of my father might be your brethren?" Let it never be said Gabriel didn’t know how to push buttons. "That every man, woman, and child here are just as much your family as those you have at home? That Nico and I are just as much your siblings as any others of your mother’s children?"
"I’d shoot you right in the head, you filthy faggot, if I didn’t think I’d get AIDS from your head exploding on me."
"Is this what my father taught you? To live in fear?" Gabriel’s grin was inhuman, and the treble cone tore in one of the speakers, as a wicked squeal gave way in a sudden pop. "Or did he teach you do do what is right, in his name?"
Nico looked in their direction again, sure that only he could see what was happening. He tried to explain to one of the police officers, who were mostly interviewing the crowd, that they thought the bullet had gone wild and nicked a wire somewhere in the sound system, which was causing all the horrendous, intermittent squealing. He heard the second shot, and no one else did.
"Lose something?" Gabriel asked, sticking out its tongue, with the misshapen bullet on the tip.
The gunman staggered back, as Gabriel discomposed in a few places. Enormous golden wings curled around the two of them, tracing the edges of the imperceptible bubble around them. Its eyes danced with rings of blue and gold fire, and a golden glow burned from behind it.
"You shot an angel of the lord, our father, twice. Twice. I am our father’s vengeance. I laid Jerusalem to waste. I rained fire down upon the Cities of the Plain. Tell me you are at least familiar with that bad acid trip that is Revelations, so that when I tell you I am the Angel of Revelation, you will know me."
The police radios screamed, and Nico tried to pass it off as feedback. They were standing in the middle of an outdoor dance club. This officer probably shouldn’t stand so close to the microphones, because they seem to still be on. Why don’t these guys, here, go down to that guy in the booth and talk to him. Tell him to turn off the equipment for half an hour, while we find that bullet, and then we’ll get this party started, again.
Gabriel leaned over the gunman, who had cringed before the sight of a towering angel that was rapidly running out of patience. "Lord of the West? Angel of the Moon? Angel of the Annunciation? The archangel who levelled five cities in one night because they were all solely inhabited by people like you? I know you know my name, unless they’re not even teaching you that any more."
"Michael?" The man guessed, naming the first angel he could think of.
Gabriel just stared, and everything fell silent. "Michael? Seriously?"
The gunman shrugged, nervously, scuffing his feet on the ground.
Gabriel took a deep breath and counted backward from five. It was not allowed to yell about Michael, right now. That was for later, when it went to recount this to Lucian.
"No, you jackass, I’m Gabriel. Gabriel the Holy Messenger, who has appeared with a message for you, yes you, write it down if you don’t think you’ll remember it." Gabriel snatched the gun, smacked the gunman upside the head with the butt of it, and dropped the weapon into its coat pocket. The Messenger began to proclaim, then, in seventy-two languages, spanning nine octaves. "I’m not going to command you to love your neighbours, because some of them would require holy patience to love, and I’m not sure you’d know love if it walked up and shot your arm off. But, you are commanded to be compassionate. To do no harm. To bring goodness and assistance, wherever you go. First, help yourself, as you can help none if you, yourself, are incapacitated. Then, help those closest to you. Then help anyone else you and yours can reach. You get this, it’s like the card about the air masks on commercial flights."
The man nodded so hard Gabriel half expected his brains to rattle, eyes wide and fixed on Gabriel’s glowing, constantly-shifting face.
"You will not discriminate based on occupation, gender, love life, religion, or any of that other crap your half of the family likes to get judgemental about. ‘Judgement is mine,’ sayeth the Lord, Our Father, and he still says it, and he still means it, and if you think pissing me off is a bad idea, just wait until you meet him." The last few words were distracted, as Gabriel dug into its shoulder and pulled out the first bullet. It spit the second one into the same hand. "There are no loopholes. There is no room for war. Those who sin against the Holy Father are his problem, not yours. Those who sin against your family are your problem, insofar as that you must decide whether to forgive or to bring them before the lawmakers of your settlement. Be good. Do not visit suffering upon others. I will check on you, so don’t think you can just nod and then go back to what you were doing."
"Y-yes, your holy… holiness?" The gunman shook, still cowering, wide eyes still struggling with the sight of the partially-discomposed angel, as his mind insisted one moment it had feathers, and then three heads, that it spoke with a lion’s mouth, and other wholly improbable things.
"My name is Gabriel. You may call me Gabi." Gabriel smiled, mercy in the gesture and vengeance in its eyes. "Tell me your name."
"Jim. I’m Jim Reston."
"And now, you are Paul." Gabriel clapped a hand on the man’s shoulder and offered him the two bullets.
"Read the book. It helps." Gabriel dumped the bullets into the man’s shirt pocket. "You will henceforth be known as Paul, and it will be a symbol of your new views on life."
"I, uh… Yes, Gabi?"
"There, see, that wasn’t so hard, Paul. Now, tell me where you’re going, and I’ll help you get there, unharmed. Consider it my investment in your future good acts."
"Just as far as Landry."
"Landry. You drove here." Gabriel looked substantially less pleased with the situation.
"Yes?" Paul seemed uncertain about his standing, more than the answer.
Again, Gabriel counted back from five. "Which car is yours?"
"The red one, over there."
"‘You transported a donkey,’ he says to me. ‘Why would you transport a donkey?’ Why, indeed, Lucian. Practice," Gabriel muttered. In two steps, the angel, the man, and the car were gone, leaving Nico to restart the party — one of those things that only Nico would do, at a time like this.
"Nothing like a little excitement before lunch, right? Let’s hear some thanks for my team down there, making sure all of you are still in one piece, and this city’s law enforcement professionals for making sure none of us got shot, today!" It wasn’t like Nico could give the credit where it was due. Very few people knew the company he kept. "We’re not dead! Nobody’s hurt! Let’s have a party!"