[ Master Post ]
Title: Mystery and Revelation
Characters: Lucian ♂, Gabriel ♅, Serakel/Sherry ♀
Rating: T" width="32px" /> (L2 N2 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Blasphemy, mentions of past sex acts, heaps of angst that no one’s taking too seriously, gender-bending, non-explicit naked lady
Notes: Wow. This… didn’t go where I was trying to go with it. Uh… Introducing Serakel, one of the angels of fruit and fruit trees. And the process of hurrying the creation of a shell. And at least some of the truth about Lucian’s sister.
[ Master Post ]
Lucian lay sprawled across his couch, a book in one hand and an enormous bowl of grapes, by the other. A lazy Sunday, like any other. At least until the swirling column of blue and gold light touched down in the middle of the room, speaking in seventy languages and the voice of a thousand birds.
"We are going to the river," it declared.
Lucian sighed, misunderstanding. "Gabi, now?"
"Not for me. Serakel has come." Squeals of distortion laced themselves through the spaces between things.
That was weird enough to get Lucian’s entire attention, and he sat up, tossing the book onto the table. "Why?"
"I did not ask. Perhaps you should, when you get here." A golden tendril lashed out, followed by a sound of annoyance.
"You can’t eat without a shell, Gabi. Yes, I’ll bring grapes. What else didn’t you bring with you?" Stretching, Lucian got up and started to throw things into a knapsack.
"Bring more honey. I never bring enough." The sullen sound rang dangerously through the windows.
"You forget how much it took to get you started, this time, don’t you?" Lucian shook his head. "How does Dad expect us to do this on our own?"
"You did it. I did it."
A glass sang, dangerously, and Lucian closed his hand around it to dampen the vibrations.
"I’m coming, Gabi. I’ll be there in an hour. This isn’t coming out of my reserves."
Gabriel took the hint and vanished, a soundless implosion that tugged at the edges of everything near it.
A flare of red-gold light sparked a few metres from where Gabriel watched a bubbling pool of mud on the bank of the river. In less than a second, The spark was blotted out, first by Lucian’s shell, then his clothes, and finally a knapsack and tall, paper sack.
"You miss me?" Lucian asked, leaning over Gabriel’s shoulder and knocking the side of his head against Gabriel’s.
"Always. Even when you’re with me," Gabriel teased, reaching back to tug on one of Lucian’s dreds.
Lucian examined the lump rising from the mud. "That’s going to take weeks, isn’t it."
"That’s why I called you." Gabriel gestured to a few large jugs of honey. "I brought a se’ah of honey, but I doubt that’s enough to make this swift enough."
"I couldn’t get enough honey." Lucian set down the bags and unpacked them, handing a bag of grapes to Gabriel. "The brewers’ shop isn’t open on Sunday or Monday, so I brought some of my reserve. About another se’ah." Out came the jugs. "And white sugar. It’s not as good as honey, but it’ll work. Serakel will forgive us, once they’re able to attend themselves."
"Where did you acquire such a large bag of sugar?" Gabriel gazed on the sack in bemused amusement.
"I live in that part of town. Sugar, flour, rice, and lard come in unreasonable sizes, for those unreasonable family weekends." Lucian looked wryly up at Gabriel, who stifled a snicker.
"Start with the honey?" Gabriel asked, reaching for one of the jugs.
"Half a se’ah," Lucian confirmed, studying the thickness of the mud, as it bubbled and struggled to rise. "Then we’ll try some sugar. It should be less traumatic if we switch back and forth. Set a kav of honey aside for when it rises—"
"Mixed with the river-water," Gabriel finished, pouring honey into the bubbling mud. "Of course. I think Serakel will be easier than some."
"I have no doubt that once the shell rises, they will be able to attend themselves far better than you or I." Flicking open his pocket-knife, Lucian clipped off the knot on the end of the sugar sack’s seal and pulled it open. "Why did neither of us think to bring this one with us?"
"You were in a rush," Gabriel pointed out. "I never do anything the easy way."
"You really don’t, do you?" Lucian watched as the mud curled in on itself, with an intent sucking sound.
"Where’s the fun in that?" Gabriel demanded, nudging the mud with the toe of one sandal. "Sugar, or another kav of honey?"
Lucian stared into the mud, contemplatively. "Hmm. Sugar, but you should follow that with a jug of river water. Sugar’s dry, and we can’t risk it firming up too soon."
As Lucian hefted the sack, carefully pouring a few kabayim of sugar into the mud, Gabriel filled the empty honey jug from the river. The mud churned as Gabriel slowly poured the water over the sugar, waiting for it to soak in and trying not to wash away the crystals.
The bubbling mud began to exude heat, as the sugar-water soaked in and burned off, leaving a whiff of caramel in the air. Gabriel switched back to honey, as the lump in the centre of the pool grew larger, not yet taking on a shape, but gaining volume and mass.
"Which way do you think they’ll go?" Lucian asked, waiting for the mud to cool down a bit.
"I don’t know. I haven’t seen Serakel in a shell, before. I haven’t seen Serakel since the Garden." Gabriel shrugged, warming its fingers over the mud. "We don’t cross paths, much. I’m not sure why I’m here, although it is known that I am walking, and my name is safer than yours."
"And calling your name will bring me, if I’m needed. But, how many know that?" Lucian looked unnerved as he poured more sugar into the mud. "That can’t be safe for you, Gabi."
"Please, my light of truth, what’s Dad going to do, kick me out? Again? How long does that ever last? He has tried to replace me, and hasn’t succeeded, yet." Laughing, Gabriel splashed water over the sugar, chasing it toward where the mud gaped for it.
"One of these days, even your delightful personality isn’t going to be enough."
"It’s my effectiveness, not my charm, Lovelight. Did you hear what Dobiel tried to do, in my absence? Worse than me, all around." Gabriel scoffed, resting its head on Lucian’s shoulder. "Delightful? That’s a lot coming from you."
"It is what it is." Lucian tipped his head back, pressing his lips to Gabriel’s forehead. "Besides, you still call me by my sister’s name."
"Nonsense. You know I can’t speak it, any more than you can." A sly smile curled Gabriel’s lips. "But, I remember the two of you when you were still one."
"You’re not that old, Gabi." Lucian elbowed Gabriel, who tilted the honey jug again.
"Oh, there were two of you, but you were of a mind. Might as well have been just one of you, in two places, before he put you out." The honey smacked into the mud, making strange, thick sounds. "She went mad without you, you know."
"They tell me I went mad, too." The lump of mud was nearly the size of a man, and as it pitted and rolled, pulling in the honey, Lucian watched it begin to change shape.
"And that is why I call you as I would have called her, if she hadn’t been taken from us." Gabriel splashed a bit of water over the struggling mud. "Someone needs to remember your other half. And as a part of you."
"He took her name," Lucian snarled, grabbing the bag of sugar, again, and knocking Gabriel to the side.
"He took her name from us, my mourning star."
Lucian could hear the subtle difference, and it drove a bitter breath out of him, a sad smile following it, as he coated the writhing mud in sugar.
"He punished you. Cast you out, still subject to his law. You still serve him, even as the legacy of that moment poisons the heavenward against you." Gabriel refilled the water jug and chased the sugar. "She escaped from him, like nothing else ever has. Not you, not me, and not Sammy. She turned his name against him, like a sword, and fled. And he brought to bear a great geas, in exchange for her freedom. The three he sent against her kept bringing her back, but as long as she held the name, he couldn’t keep her.
"He cast you out, Lovelight, because you challenged him. He poisoned and maimed her, because she threatened him."
"He loved us." Lucian sat down on the half-sack of sugar, watching the mud take on a roughly human form. "We were his first. We were his favourites. And this is what we get."
"The Lords are fickle. You know that. Ours moreso than many, since she left him. He should never have divided, if you ask me, but he never did." Gabriel crouched, hiking up its utili-kilt.
"You weren’t alive at the time, Gabi."
"No, but you were. I bet he didn’t listen to you, either."
"Never did. The all-knowing had no use for truth. Had no use for wisdom, in the end, either, though I hear they’re still speaking, at least."
"How do you know?" Gabriel asked, leaning forward with the honey.
"She comes to see me, sometimes." Lucian looked up, eyes a blue that didn’t exist in nature. "You tell no one, Gabriel. If Michael finds out…"
"He’ll be able to track you, by following her. Greater Lords leave a broad trail, and we’re related to her, so if we’re looking, we’ll find her. And if he finds her, he’ll find you."
"He’s not interested in her, yet. For anything, which is both a blessing and a curse." Lucian huffed and rubbed his face.
"You think he’d get a clue, with her help? He’s pretty dense, Morning-star. I’m not sure even wisdom can penetrate the impenetrable." The mud-body began to separate itself from the pool beneath it, and Gabriel gestured for Lucian to get up.
"Impenetrable." Lucian laughed as he stood, lifting the bag of sugar, again. "You know, he’d probably take that as a compliment."
"Maybe you’ll get through him, one of these centuries," Gabriel suggested. "You have, after all, eff’d the ineffable. Repeatedly and at length."
Lucian sputtered and guffawed, dumping a heap of sugar inadvertently. "Angel of Mysteries, my ass. One of these days, Gabi, you’re going to make me laugh at the wrong time. Really wrong. More wrong. Get some water before this goes bad."
"Also the Angel of Revelation and Proclamation." Gabriel rinsed the sugar into a more useful configuration, and the mud-body quickly claimed it. "I know all the unusual things, and I like talking about them. And your ass is hardly a mystery, Luci. Half of London knows your ass very intimately."
"And a quarter of Naples, a third of Pasadena. What can I say? He made me to be beautiful. I can’t help being successful at what I was designed for." Lucian grinned.
"Using that beauty is what Hannah was designed for, not you," Gabriel pointed out.
"Dad kicked me out. I’ll do whatever I want with that beauty. It’s mine, now."
"And that’s why he’s never letting you back in."
Lucian made an obscene noise. "That and a hundred other reasons. My ass and I like it better down here, anyway. We were made for the Garden, in the first place."
"I have no idea how you’re still an angel, o light of my eternal life." More honey, more waiting. Gabriel watched as the body began to take on features, the nuances of the human form taking shape.
"What else would I be?"
"Oh, no. That would require a level of foolishness I will never achieve. Incompatible with the very core of me." Lucian watched the body, waiting with the last of the sugar. "Even she didn’t manage that."
"He meant her to." Gabriel was strangely quiet.
"No, he wanted her to. He meant her for something else, entirely. It’s my fault she ended up in that position."
The temperature shifted more quickly as the fine work progressed, the caramel scent saturating the air as the honey and sugar burned away. Lucian poured on the last of the sugar, and Gabriel followed it with water.
"It’s his fault for being inconsistent, and not designing you to handle that. And then not being able to handle finding the fault in his own design." Gabriel watched the body progress. "Female."
"I’m sorry." Lucian wrapped an arm around Gabriel’s waist.
"They choose because it’s the done thing. No one wants to end up like me." Gabriel rested its head on Lucian’s shoulder. "Everyone’s heard about what happened to me."
"Everyone’s heard about what happened to me. Doesn’t stop them choosing male," Lucian pointed out, as the body began to take colour.
"You are male, Lovelight. That’s the difference." Gabriel kissed Lucian’s cheek and picked up the last jug of honey, pouring some in with the water and mixing until it thinned.
"But, not like this. I’m a male angel. It’s different. The substance of it is different. The physicality is non-existent."
Serakel sat up, and Gabriel knelt, holding the jug of honey-water to her lips. As she drank, it spoke. "Archangel. And the only male angel of any kind ever created."
"Prototype angel. Mistake."
"I’ve always thrived on his mistakes," Gabriel admitted. "Did you bring her something to wear?"
"What? No!" Lucian looked up in horror. "You got here, first! I thought you brought something! You didn’t tell me to bring anything!"
Gabriel grinned as Serakel’s eyes opened. "Of course I brought something. I know how literal you get. It’s in the bag over there."
Serakel clutched at Gabriel’s shoulder, groaning.
"She’s pretty hung over, Morning-star. I think it’s the sugar."
"I know it’s the sugar. Give her the rest of the honey to drink." Lucian dug through the empty honey jugs, to the bag, underneath, and pulled out a heavy cream-coloured robe with gold embroidery. "I’ve seen you in this."
"Of course you have. I look amazing in it. I also have five of them, just in case." Gabriel held the jug of undiluted honey to Serakel’s lips, watching carefully as she drank.
"Only you, Gabriel."
"I am his messenger, which seems to be incompatible with maintaining a stain-free wardrobe," Gabriel complained.
"It’s your choice of fabrics."
"I don’t like synthetics!"
"Is so hot. I have no idea how you wear so much of it."
"You eat a lot more pastry than I do, don’t you?" Lucian realised.
"Of course I do. Messenger of our dad. Lots of travel, and — oh." Gabriel’s eyes rolled, as it tossed the empty jug aside. "Right."
Serakel still looked dizzy, still holding on to Gabriel with both hands. "Gabi? This is wrong. Why is it wrong?"
"We cheated. Had to give you straight sugar. I’m so sorry, Plum-blossom." Gabriel looked over Serakel, at Lucian, and nodded to the river. "Sit still. Let’s get you rinsed off, and make sure the shell’s not missing any pieces."
Lucian returned with a jug of water, slowly pouring it over Serakel’s new body, as he and Gabriel checked the stability and structure of it.
"It looks like it should hold," Lucian affirmed. "We couldn’t get enough honey on such short notice. You’ll be fine. It’s just going to be ugly for a little while. I’ve done this, before. I know it’s bad."
"Why didn’t you just wait?" Serakel asked, plaintively.
"You picked the river. Most of the holy places aren’t safe, any more. We had to get you out, before the locals noticed." Lucian stroked her wet hair. "Let’s get you washed up and dressed, and we’ll take you back to my house, so you can rest."
Serakel studied Gabriel’s face, squinting for clarity, looking for some clue how to answer that.
"Lucian is the very best at this," Gabriel reassured her. "And I’m going with you. Come on, hold on to me. We’re going to stand up."
"Oh, no." Serakel made a sick sound as Gabriel raised her to her feet, arms wrapping firmly around her.
"You’ll feel better, soon. Into the river, now." Gabriel backed into the water, holding Serakel against its chest. "Get everything you don’t need off of you. Once you’re clean, it’ll be a little easier."
She held on, loosely, panting and occasionally gagging, as Gabriel washed the last of the mud off her body and out of her hair.
"Lucian’s going to dress you, while I hold you up, and then we’ll get going. The hardest thing you have to do is put your arms in the sleeves, and they’re big sleeves." Gabriel carried Serakel back out of the water, and this time, she walked with it, standing on its toes.
Lucian gathered the robe and slid it over Serakel’s head, draping it around her neck. "Left arm first. I’ll hold it for you."
It took a few tries, but the three of them got her dressed, eventually. As Lucian gathered up the remains of their intervention, Gabriel asked a question.
"What do we call you, sister?"
"Sherry. I like the sound of it." Serakel swooned again, and Gabriel caught her.
"And you move like you’ve had too much of it. It’s an excellent choice."
"Gabi, I’m giving you so much hell, the next time you swap," Lucian warned.
"Maybe next time, I should be a lady," Gabriel speculated, the water in the sand under their feet vibrating for the first time.
"It wouldn’t be you, Gabi. You know that." Lucian slung the knapsack over one shoulder, picked up the sugar-sack of rubbish, and wrapped his other arm around Gabriel and Sherry. "O thou Angel of Mysteries."
In a strange dance of transpositions and flickering lights, Lucian moved them all, leaving the river bank much as it had been, before they arrived, minus about fifty kilograms of dirt.