Monthly Archives: December 2014

TCOL : What We Are : Fathers & Husbands Pt.4

“How long do you plan on avoiding me?” Lucifer sat under a tree in the middle of nowhere and looked up at Gabriel. “This childishness is below you.”

Gabriel barely gave him a glance as he scanned the landscape. He saw no point in dignifying insults with answers and he was irritated with Lucifer’s choice to bring them here. It had not changed. Not a single blade of grass out of place, not a single leaf had fallen. This small grove was held in a state of perpetual springtime, a secret garden nestled within steep ice-covered mountains and harsh winds, hidden from view by Lucifer’s magic. A getaway for the pair of them years ago.

“How can you abandon me now, Gabby?” Lucifer rested his head on his knee and started to laugh.

“I don’t see it as abandonment.” Gabriel crossed his arms in front of him and started to pace. “I’ve just wasted enough time on a lie.”

“Yes, truth.” Lucifer grinned. “You all want truth. When I give you truth you complain about that. As many secrets as you have kept I would think you would know the difference between lying and not sharing. You have a lot of nerve making accusations, Gabby.”

“I’m not going to argue over this.” Gabriel closed his eyes and sighed. “I have tolerated so much from you. Even setting the secrets aside, your meddling has caused me and the one I love so much pain and humiliation. You have given strength even to my daughter without explanation or consent, causing us even more reason to distrust you. I won’t even begin to point out the many things you’ve done to aggravate me with this damn Council of yours. I am just tired of it.”

“Do you want me to apologize?” Lucifer laughed. “For giving you all power and favor? For trusting you with the world?”

“I just want you to leave me alone.” Gabriel hung his head. “All you manage to do is make me miserable. This is no longer friendship. It is barely tolerable.”

“What can I do to fix this?” Lucifer whispered.

•••

“Amazing, isn’t it?” Gabriel wiped his face and smiled at Lucifer. “All the good we’ve done together and we still manage to fight amongst ourselves.

 “Some of us manage to get along.” Lucifer put his arm around Gabriel’s shoulders and laughed away his own tears as he squeezed his friend close. “They will come around eventually. The Wyrms are just overly ambitious.”

 “I wish that I could give them what they want.” Gabriel frowned. “If that would give them some happiness and stop this quarreling.”

 “It wouldn’t.” Lucifer tussled Gabriel’s hair. “And you know they wouldn’t be satisfied unless you loved them. Now stop sobbing like a woman, Gabby.”

 “Gabby?” Gabriel pouted. “If you insist on calling me that I will be the one going into hiding.”

 “Ha!” Lucifer jumped to his feet. “I think it suits you.”

 “You realize you were shedding tears as well.” Gabriel smiled as he stood. “Lucy.”

 “I like it.” Lucifer shrugged. “Of course if anyone else dares to call me that I will have to turn them inside out…”

••• 

“I don’t know that all of the damage you have done can be fixed.” Gabriel turned to see Lucifer with his head rested back against the bark of the tree. Tears had run down his face and with his eyes closed his expression was one of defeat, but his fingers were clawed deeply into the earth beside him. “Lucifer…”

“Just go.” Lucifer nearly choked on the words. “If you are that determined to hate me, there is no point in making Maefyl wait.”

“I don’t hate you.” Gabriel scowled at him. “And my determination is not intended to further any such emotion. I am trying to stop the both of us from hurting each other any further. From hurting Maefyl. He is starting to accept you. He is adapting to what you’ve done. He should not have to add keeping peace between us to the burdens he already has. You force enough on him too quickly.”

“Then forgive me.” Lucifer smirked. “Stop over reacting to my gifts.”

“You blame me for this?” Gabriel laughed. “Why bother asking me here? I don’t have time for more of your games. If it’s forgiveness you want for all the misery you’ve caused, you can have it. It is easier than carrying the weight of holding it against you.”

“I want my friend, Gabby.” Lucifer pushed himself to his feet and stepped toward Gabriel. “Of course I want to know you can forgive any pain I’ve caused you, but what good is it to have your forgiveness if it doesn’t come with your smile? If I can’t come to you when I’m troubled you might as well despise me.”

“Then you will have to hate me.” Gabriel took Lucifer’s hands. “At least until I can find it in myself to trust you again. I’m sorry, but I can’t be what you need me to be right now. You have left me too badly broken and I need time.”

“I will leave far more than you broken.” Lucifer held tight to Gabriel’s fingers and pleaded for understanding. “After everything… Why don’t you understand how much I need you?”

“How am I supposed to be a guiding light for you?” Gabriel sighed. “Your own light blinds us all. You have never needed me. You have the love and comfort of your bride, and now Kage as well.”

“Intimate love does not replace friendship.” Lucifer leaned against Gabriel. “Or brotherhood.”

“We are no more brothers than Maefyl and Iesu.” Gabriel smirked. “You are a hypocrite.”

“Forgive me.” Lucifer grabbed Gabriel by his jacket and begged him to reconsider. “Embrace me again as friend and brother and I will help find the Forgotten Child. I’ll accept that damned soul as my own kin if it will satisfy Maefyl’s need to save him. Just give me the peace of knowing I haven’t lost my dearest friend.”

“Give me some space, Lucy.” Gabriel hugged Lucifer before he pulled his suit free of the Dark Lord’s grip. “And I will be holding you to the offer of aid. I would never expect you to name Iehovah’s bastard as kin, but Maefyl does consider him a brother. If you truly value that bond between us…”

“We’ll find the lost carpenter.” Lucifer grinned. “Though he should consider another profession. I recall him having a bit of trouble with a hammer and nails.”

Gabriel glared at him for the inappropriate comment but Lucifer was gone leaving only his laugh and there was not much point in scolding the empty grove.

“Nice to see he learned his lesson.” Gory sighed.

“He can’t help himself.” Gabriel left the solitude of the hideaway to join Maefyl and smiled at the sight he returned to. Maefyl had let the cubs tackle him to the floor and Asura had painted each of his nails a different shade of horrible and was now smearing his eyelids with various colors from a palette. “Couldn’t decide on a single color?”

“He wouldn’t use the one I brought first.” Azazel purred. “The ungrateful have to be punished.”

“They certainly do.” Gabriel winked at Maefyl and went to join Nikolai on the couch.

“Dane ke bali meka?” Maefyl asked as he laughed at his predicament.

“Deseka sesa wazet’tach se vasa.” Gabriel left the answer simple knowing they would discuss it later. He had given into Lucifer’s desperation just as much for Maefyl’s benefit. Leaving him agitated was only going to mean more trouble for them. As hurt as Gabriel was, it was more reasonable to do his healing while maintaining old friendships and ensuring more help and less meddling from Lucifer. “At least he did not force me to wear purple mascara.”

“I might.” Maefyl laughed.

“You could try.” Gabriel smiled.

“I think the purple looks nice.” Asura giggled and rubbed at the shimmery powder in her plastic case. “Especially with this yellow eye shadow.”

“Let’s get his toes, too!” Bezer giggled and pulled at the laces of Maefyl’s boots.

“I love these visits.” Sanguine walked on Maefyl’s forehead and smiled down at him. As he peeked out of one eye and smiled back it sent a shimmer across her skin and she went a deeper shade of red. She shook her head and giggled ignoring the screaming of her own heart. “You look so silly.”

“I’m being abused and you think it’s cute.” Maefyl stuck his tongue out at her.

“I’m glad the two of you come so often.” Nikolai wiped a tear from his face as he smiled. Seeing Azazel and Bezer enjoy their fun was a joy in itself, but it was Asura he was watching with a bittersweet taste in his throat. She adored her fathers. There were still times he felt like he had snatched her away from them too soon. He treasured every moment, but often wondered if she could love him so carelessly if it created distance between her and the family that raised her and gave her life. “It makes her happy and we all love seeing more of you.”

“Now that we have a hostage you two don’t stay away for twenty years at a time.” Azazel scolded them playfully.

“You can’t have her back though.” Bezer hugged Asura and giggled. “We get to keep her forever.”

“You still have to keep a room for me, though.” Asura poked Maefyl in the chest. “That way we have a room for sleepovers!”

“That room has rules, young lady.” Gabriel interrupted.

“I know.” Asura laughed. “No boys. I guess Nikolai and Azazel will have to sleep on the couch.”

“Sleep?” Azazel grinned wickedly. “Like I’m going to waste time alone with Master Nikolai doing that.”

“Ugh.” Maefyl tried to shake off Azazel’s vivid imagination and Bezer’s lurid thoughts. “Not on my couch.”

“Sorry.” Asura leaned down and hugged Maefyl. “I forget you can see everything we think.”

“I try to glaze over your gross.” Maefyl teased as he sat up and returned her hug. “Don’t worry about it.”

“It’s not gross.” Asura grinned.

“It’s super gross.” Maefyl laughed as he watched Bezer biting her tongue and concentrating on her task of decorating his toenails. She had managed to get his boots out of the way and had luckily not made a fuss over the black nails before she coated them all in a hideous color. Now she was using a tiny brush to paint faces on them. “So is that color. What the fuck Bezer?”

“It’s called gorgeous goldenrod.” Bezer purred over her completed smiley faces. “At least they all match. Quit bitching.”

“It should be called vile vomit.” Maefyl wiggled his toes and giggled at the faces. “Those are cute though. Is Nikolai up next?”

“Don’t even think about it, my pet.” Nikolai smiled.

“I’ll bet she thought about it.” Asura hugged Maefyl tighter before she got up and ran to the kitchen to make snacks for the fairies.

“You know what I thought about?” Maefyl made sure his ridiculous pedicure was dry before he crawled over to Gabriel and sat in front of him. “It’s a good thing I never liked chess.”

“You cheated even before you started brain raiding.” Asura laughed. “You moved my pieces while I was eating cookies.”

“Did not.” Maefyl grinned.

“Yes, you did.” Gabriel pulled Maefyl by his hair. “Are there any other social visits we need to make?”

“Let’s find out.” Maefyl reluctantly pulled out his phone and started sending a few messages. Before they even tried to spend any time alone or embark on any further searching he wanted to check on the status of the others. The extended ‘family’ had a way of becoming needy the second he tried to settle in with Gabriel and he figured it was easier to get everyone settled first. If nothing else he wanted to know Kage wasn’t going to go off in a rage over losing Nexus or having to raise the child she left before her death, and that Natasha was adjusting to her new life. He laid his head back in Gabriel’s lap and smiled at him. “De kosh sek.”

“We need a very long holiday.” Gabriel sighed. Even with the mess of color Maefyl was every bit as breathtaking. His smile radiant. Gabriel could understand Maefyl’s motivation to look after obligation before crawling home to rest, but the only obligation Gabriel wanted to see to presently was the one he had as Maefyl’s husband. “And you might want to clean up. Our daughter can turn any page into a masterpiece, but you have the cosmetic skill.”

Asura was about to defend her artistry but was too impressed by the moment they were lost in. She had seen it countless times in her life. Even when she was small and they were hiding their affection, they would just disappear somewhere in each other. Like the world dissolved around them and all they could see was each other. They were always so beautiful, but she always found them the most captivating when they were like this. She hoped that was how she looked in those tender moments when she felt like she did not even need air to breath, just the love she could feel in the arms that held her.

“Looks like you’ll need that touch up.” Sanguine pushed at the phone in Maefyl’s hand after a message blinked onto the screen. “Kage said to come to Tsumi.”

“I want more pictures of the little one.” Asura jumped onto the couch and let Nikolai pull her into his lap. “And tell Karla to call me.”

Maefyl pulled on his boots and started lacing them while his magic removed the imperfect makeup. It was a fun distraction, but he didn’t want Gabriel embarrassed by the mess. He barely finished tying the boots before Gabriel pulled him to his feet. After brief farewells they departed, but when Maefyl reached for Eidolon’s door Gabriel took his hand and pulled him close.

“Thank you.” Gabriel smiled at Maefyl and reached into his pockets. Maefyl gave him a puzzled look and Gabriel laughed softly at the redness in Maefyl’s face as he opened a stick of gloss. Maefyl had cleaned up the mess and left Golod with only his mismatched manicure. “But you could have put your own back on.”

“Are you okay?” Maefyl tried not to smile while Gabriel applied a thin layer across his lips but there was such focus in his expression that Maefyl could not help himself. He laughed and Gabriel pressed him to the wall and leaned against him. Maefyl just hugged him and waited for an answer.

“I am not looking forward to some of the work ahead of us.” Gabriel sighed. “I don’t like the time we’ve spent apart because of all of this and our schedule does not seem to be improving.”

“Let’s go say hello to Kage and his kid.” Maefyl smiled and reached back to knock on the door. “Then we’ll go home.”

“Please do not mention Nexus.” Kage gave Maefyl enough of his thoughts to explain as he stood at the door. “Kaneko is still upset over it.”

“So are you.” Maefyl whispered. Kage let more than words slip to Maefyl. He kept most of the final moments to himself, but he gave enough of his experience to express the pain he felt. Maefyl was not expecting Kage to let anyone know the details of Nexus’ end. That he had just shared another of his darkest moments brought tears to Maefyl’s eyes as he looked at the small girl Kage held. “She is beautiful.”

“Neka is kitty.” The girl wriggled about and swung her tail at Maefyl.

“Yes, you are.” Maefyl pulled the girl from Kage’s arms and walked off with her before Kage could react. “How did you end up with kittens, Kage?”

“How should I know, half-breed?” Kage sneered at Maefyl as he held Neka above him. “Be more careful with her.”

“The child is not made of glass.” Gabriel patted Kage’s back.

“She is made of cute.” Karla grinned.

“Kaneko is also made of cute.” Kaneko had been pouting about Kage taking Neka and monopolizing her but saw an opportunity to play with her again. She jumped over the desk and hugged around Maefyl’s waist. “Nyaa. Give her here, Maefyl! Kaneko wants to play with her.”

“I just got here.” Maefyl laughed.

“Neka is Kaneko’s sister.” Kaneko grinned.

“Last I heard, she was mine, too.” Maefyl stuck his tongue out at her and cuddled with Neka. “So you have to share.”

“You won’t have to be concerned over company.” Gabriel stood beside Kage and watched Maefyl playing with the girls as Karla cheered on both sides of the mock argument. “They already adore her.”

“I intend to raise her.” Kage watched sadly. He wanted her to have the affection, but the life he led didn’t allow for this sort of wasted time very often. “Outside of time spent in my office, she will not be in this realm often enough to enjoy this company.”

“Make time.” Gabriel smiled at him. “It will be worth it.”

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TCOL : What We Are : Fathers & Husbands Pt.3

“Don’t expect this to change my mind.” Gabriel sat beside Maefyl and waited for the inevitable arrival of Lucifer. “If he becomes a nuisance I will be leaving.”

“This is work, Gabriel.” Maefyl shrugged. “I’m not asking you to have a sleepover.”

“So I take it you and Uncle Lucifer are fighting again?” Asura sighed. “You guys never stop.”

“Nothing for you to worry about.” Maefyl smiled at her. “It will blow over eventually. It’s more of a cold war this time.”

“Excellent.” Nikolai said sarcastically as he stroked Bezer’s hair. She had purred herself to sleep in his lap and Azazel sat between him and Asura drinking Vodka between stints of cuddling against them. “Instead of all out fighting, your tension will make everyone else suffer. The mood in Council was noticeably dark.”

“In all fairness that is not all our fault.” Maefyl pulled his hair back before he pulled out a cigarette and lit it. “I think at this point there are ample reasons for a shitty mood and Lucifer is not exactly a ray of sunshine to begin with.”

“I have a perfectly cheerful demeanor.” Lucifer arrived and sat on the floor at the end of the coffee table. “There are however a number of things souring it at present. What is it you wanted to discuss?”

“Several issues.” Maefyl laid back on the carpet frustrated. “But Asura can pick your brain first. I don’t want to be the one to share your bad news.”

“You changed all of this stuff.” Asura pushed her computer towards him. “I know I’m not supposed to mention some of it, but what happened?”

“I am simply putting my family in order.” Lucifer smirked. “Association with me comes with a lot of burden and responsibility along with a lot of benefits and gifts. I am ensuring that all who share a place in my family are both capable and deserving. I’ve made it clear that my children, that is the children of my bride and husband, are to have the respect and protection my loyal would give me. That of course extends to their families and most definitely their children.”

“Okay. I’m flattered.” Asura shook her head. He had written Shiroi off and wanted nothing to do with her. Asura never cared for what Shiroi had put her family through so it was easy to overlook the loss, but there were other changes she found more upsetting. “But Nexus is listed as deceased.”

“The cost of being a failure and a pest.” Lucifer leaned back on his arms and looked at Gabriel hoping for any reaction at all that would lead to conversation, but he just kept his attention on Maefyl. Lucifer sighed and continued to explain. “Nexus was causing far more trouble than she was ever worth, I had Kage end her misery.”

“You made him do it?” Azazel grinned. “That’s fucking cold, Lord Lucifer.”

“It served to make another point clear.” Lucifer returned the wickedness in Azazel’s smile. “I don’t tolerate disobedience.”

“Quite the man of honor.” Maefyl sat up to join in Asura’s next query. He leaned over and poked back through the family tree until he found the second child listed to Lucifer’s husband Kage. “You want to explain this one? Did you have another one hidden away to threaten him?”

“I did not.” Lucifer laughed. “Nexus was with child and gave him Neka as a parting gift.”

“This kid is a baby?” Maefyl laughed. “Kage must be going out of his mind.”

“Kage is already very attached to the girl.” Lucifer answered matter of fact-ly. “He is in Tsumi with Eidolon, spending time with both of his daughters.”

“I guess that’s kind of sweet.” Asura sneered. “In a super gross ‘I just killed your mom, kids. Let’s go get ice cream and I’ll tell you all about it’ kind of way. Is the kid at least cute?”

“She is beautiful.” Lucifer slid her his phone, displaying a picture he had taken before he left.

“OML!” Asura was amazed by how much the baby resembled Kaneko but the distinctly demonic features were mostly reversed. She was also surprised by a rare moment caught in the photograph. “Kage is actually smiling.”

“He does that on occasion.” Lucifer let Asura hand his phone off to share the image. He felt a bit of a sting when Gabriel gave it hardly a glance while it was in Maefyl’s hand, but he let it go for the moment still hoping Maefyl’s inquiry would open the door. “Did you have other concerns? Or was this just to make sure we don’t need name tags at the family reunion?”

“There are plenty of concerns.” Nikolai interrupted before Maefyl could respond with what would have been a very justified insult. “For all of us. If they are all pieces of the same puzzle it may be wise to gather everyone. When Raziel and I faced Farren he was arrogant enough to mention that the dealings in Tsuriai were a distraction.”

“There is more to look into before there is any point in gathering Council.” Gabriel spoke for the first time since Lucifer’s arrival but made a point to direct his explanation toward Nikolai. “There has been trouble in Heaven, until we know more sitting at the Council table is a waste of time. As you say, some of the recent turmoil may be related, we need to know more. Asura can pass on necessary details without the need for quarreling over information we don’t even have.”

“Which is another reason I asked to see you.” Maefyl looked at his Father. “We need to do some poking around. I don’t want you getting offended that we are playing in your backyard.”

“Play as you would like.” Lucifer grinned. “Which yard specifically?”

“Potentially a lot of them.” Maefyl tapped on the table. “Starting with the Lost.”

“Then we might go Garden hopping!” Sanguine walked down Maefyl’s arm.

“What exactly did Heaven misplace?” Lucifer laughed.

“Iesu.” Gabriel sighed.

Maefyl just rested his head on the table as Lucifer laughed uncontrollably. He expected about as compassionate a reaction, but it didn’t make it any easier. Even knowing he was barely a brother to him. He had believed him to be for so long that it hardly mattered. After all, what was family but a bond created by those that love one another? Maefyl felt Gabriel’s hand on his back and smiled.

“Ease up, would ya?” Sanguine scolded Lucifer. “You know it bothers him.”

“Why does it bother him?” Asura reached across the table and grabbed Maefyl’s hand. “Who is Iesu?”

“My brother.” Maefyl gave his frustrated answer to the table.

“Hardly.” Lucifer snapped. “Barely even a half-brother. It’s insulting to even think of him as that much.”

“Look, I get it.” Maefyl turned his head to look at Lucifer. “You are my Father. I’m not arguing it; I’m not insulting you. But the kid has nobody else. Can you just let this go?”

“Just don’t expect my help with him.” Lucifer crossed his arms. “You can look for the Forgotten Child. I won’t get in the way.”

“Thank you.” Maefyl sat up.

“Now, I have a request.” Lucifer stood. “I’d like a word alone with you, Gabriel.”

“In regards to?” Gabriel looked up at him. “I’ve told you I have no interest…”

“I’ll narrow your search.” Lucifer offered. “The soul is not with the Lost. The lessers and guardians there monitor for oddities, I would have been informed if that divinity drenched waste found his way there.”

“Resorting to bribery already?” Gabriel chuckled. “Fine, Lucifer. We’ll talk.”

“I’ll have him back soon, Maefyl.” Lucifer took Gabriel’s arm and vanished with him.

“Do you think they’ll make up?” Sanguine pulled at Maefyl’s pinky finger. “Gabriel is really angry this time.”

“I hope so, Sany.” Maefyl understood Gabriel’s desire to be done with Lucifer’s games completely, but turning his back on the Dark Lord only made him more determined. Sometimes it was just easier to play along. They had also been friends for so long it was near heart breaking to see them this way. Even Asura was bothered by the silence.

“While they are gone, can we just talk about anything else?” Asura smiled sadly. “I don’t want to think about them fighting.”

“Sure.” Maefyl grabbed the tablet from the end of the table and forced magic into the stream of data. He had done it before on a much smaller scale, leaving numbers in phones and such, but he had never tried to manipulate the entire system the way Lucifer did. He smirked when he saw the magic start to work in more impressive ways than he had anticipated. He had unlocked not only an entry for Farren, but also more information than even he knew himself. He would have been satisfied with just the image Asura had wanted. He spun the screen and pushed it to her. “You wanted to know what the bastard looked like.”

“He is… different.” Bezer sneered at the image. “I don’t like his eyes. He looks shifty.”

“This guy can just make disease?” Asura read over the dossier a bit disgusted at the list of skills. “And has a thing for bugs?”

“Looks like a loser.” Azazel growled.

“Acts like a loser.” Maefyl laughed. “But he’s still managing to give most of us a headache.”

“Well maybe it’s about time we try and give him one.” Nikolai suggested. “Asura, my pet. See to it every Circle has this information. They’ve been made aware of our search, but if names have been escaping the minds his face might remind them.”

“Do me a favor and don’t draw too much attention, Nikolai.” Maefyl knew Nikolai had been improving himself, but without knowing how Farren would react to taunting he didn’t want Nikolai inadvertently putting Asura in danger. “Let Raziel handle things for a while.”

“Out of the question.” Nikolai smiled. Maefyl had seen the encounter in his mind and the mistakes he had made. “But I will be more careful with my words. I let my temper speak when I should not. I am doing my part, as we all are.”

“Most of us any way.” Maefyl shrugged. There was a definite lack of equality in the division of labor in the Council. “As I kind of doubt Farren is going to wait for you to make phone calls, I hope you all remember to call for us properly.”

“Like I need your help.” Azazel jumped onto the table in front of him swinging his tail and grinning. “You should just let me and Bezer start mopping this mess up. We can take care of the bug problem.”

“Take care of my problem instead.” Maefyl pulled Azazel’s tail and sighed at the state of his nails. “Go steal me some of Asura’s nail polish.”

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TCOL : What We Are : Fathers & Husbands Pt.2

“Do you want this Council to fail, Lucifer?” Eidolon leaned on his desk and Karla clutched his arm. “You set it up without proper guidance, set ridiculous deadlines to undo damage that you allowed to occur and are making no effort to aid with any of it. Now this? Why sow this unrest among us? I have long been your friend, long been loyal to you. Like every other time you have broken my heart I will find a way to forgive this. Do you think the Wyrms will be so forgiving when their bride begins to mourn this?”

“It is because I don’t want this Council to fail that I have given little aid to your current dilemma. I expect you to put bickering and nonsense aside and work together to solve the problem, but before you insult me further I have already started to restore my protection where I had removed it. All the twelve of you need to do is clean up the mess.” Lucifer created several tablet computers in his hand and slid them across the desk. Each was engraved on the back with the name of the intended recipient so there would be no more questions on the matter regarding his acceptance of Eidolon’s decision to let Natasha play secretary to the Third. He also included one for Kaneko and simplified versions without access to Circle or Council data for the entire pack. “As far as your accusation that I am sowing unrest, my recent orders are unrelated to the work the Council has been doing and quite frankly none of the Council’s business. If the Wyrms take issue with it, they are free to bring it to the table, but they will regret the intrusion into my personal affairs and I don’t care how their bride mourns. If her tears leave her a dried out husk she’ll make good kindling for their fireplace. I’ll say this only once, Eidolon. Do not mention her to me again.”

“Understood.” Eidolon had let himself say too much and was grateful the response to it was as benign as it was. He was barely scolded at all for his insult and Lucifer instead seemed to reward what self-control he had managed to use. Eidolon neatly gathered the computers into a stack and sat them aside. “And thank you.”

“How can you thank him?” Karla sniffled and wiped her face dry before she looked at Lucifer and pouted. “And how could you do this to Kaneko? You pretty much raised her, didn’t you? This is just mean.”

“Quiet, Karla.” Eidolon lifted her chin and pulled her to look up at him. “I know you mean well, but you also know better.”

“Okay, Master Eidolon.” Karla did know better. Yelling at Lucifer never ended well and he was trying to protect her from herself. As angry as she was over the situation, she had to be patient and hope for the best.

“You hate Snowflake now, too?” Kaneko sniffled and turned to look at Lucifer. “Do you hate Kaneko? Kaneko is always a good girl.”

“Yes, you are.” Lucifer pulled out his phone and he stood and shifted beside Kage. He pulled up his own little biography before he stooped to rub Kage’s back and show her. “You and your sister Neka are our beautiful girls. Your brother is a bit of a nuisance at times, but Kage, Lilith and myself love all three of you. We are a family, Kaneko. A proper one, like you always wanted.”

“But Kaneko is still sad.” Kaneko pouted. “Kaneko didn’t get very much time with her mother.”

“You have had plenty of time with my Lilith.” Lucifer brushed the tears from Kaneko’s face. “You always wished for this, don’t hate me for granting your wish. You know that granted wishes always come at a high cost.”

“But…” Kaneko couldn’t find a good way to protest. She had wished for it. She wanted to be his daughter more than anything when she was small. She was always jealous that Shiroi had been the lucky one. But Kaneko felt just as lucky when she came to Tsumi and met Eidolon. She had love and happiness. Spending her days with Eidolon and Karla brought her so much joy and she had made so many friends. She still missed running around Lucifer’s estate and napping with Lilith, she loved them both, but her time in Tsumi gave her something else that she adored. Kage. As much as she had been brought up to hate the things he had done, Lucifer still told her stories of how he had once been so great and when she met him that was all she could really see. Her great father. Unfriendly, antisocial, generally unlikeable and in her eyes: perfect. He was strong, feared and always smelled like magic.

“Shh.” Lucifer tussled her hair. “Set a good example for Neka. You have always made me proud, Kaneko. Accept that this was for the best.”

“Neka.” The baby grabbed a fistful of Kage’s hair and yanked it making him cringe.

“I hope this fascination of yours ends quickly, child.” Kage kissed her face and rubbed Kaneko’s back. “You have every right to be angry. I have something to give you before you run from me.”

“Kaneko doesn’t run from anything.” Kaneko sat in front of him and held out her hands. “You told Kaneko you would be a good Father if Kaneko could forgive you. Kaneko is going to try really hard so Kaneko can make you keep your promise.”

“I want you to have this.” Kage pulled one of the bracelets from his pocket and laid it in Kaneko’s hands. As her lip quivered he knew she recognized it and he closed her fingers over it and held them tight. “It split in two as she passed. I believe she wanted each of you to have one.”

“What about…” Kaneko started to wonder why even Nexus would exclude Shiroi but realized in her last moments she must have been thinking only of her life with Kage. The only children she wanted were the ones she had with the one she loved. “Was she happy? Were you nice?”

“I…” Kage was going to tread lightly to avoid the frustration it would cause Lucifer but decided Kaneko deserved the truth. “I took her life as she asked me to, Kaneko. Nexus died in my arms knowing she was loved.”

“No!” Malice cried as Neka grabbed her legs and shook her like a rattle. “I’m not a toy.”

“I told you not to get so close.” Kagemusha scolded her quietly. “You twit.”

“Neka, that’s bad.” Kaneko slid the bracelet onto her wrist and inched closer to help. She gently took the babies hand and opened her fingers to let Malice crawl onto her hand. “Be nice to fairies. Malice is a friend. Kaneko will show you. Put your hands like this.”

Kaneko sat her hands together like an open book and let Malice dance on her fingers. Neka smiled and started to wiggle around until Kage sat and let her rest in his lap and she mimed her sister’s actions. Neka kicked her feet excitedly as Malice bravely fluttered over to the infant’s hands. The blanket Kage had her wrapped in opened enough to expose her long white tail as it swayed.

“Good kitty.” Kaneko patted her sister’s head.

“Neka kitty.” The baby squealed and startled Malice. Neka was still just as happy with the shimmery dust the fairy left behind and her new friend. “Neka kitty.”

“Nyaa!” Kaneko smiled and grabbed her tail to show Neka. “Kaneko is a kitty, too.”

“She’s going to talk like Kaneko.” Kagemusha sat on Kage’s shoulder and leaned against his neck.

“What’s wrong with the way Kaneko talks?” Kaneko cocked her head to the side and twitched her tail along the floor.

“Nothing at all.” Kage smiled. “Would you like to hold her?”

“You haven’t even let me hold her.” Lucifer smirked. “You haven’t let go of her at all.”

“Naked Neka!” Kaneko lifted the baby and hugged her closed. “Can Kaneko make her not naked?”

“You would know better how to dress her.” Kage nodded.

“You worried for nothing.” Lucifer pulled Kage to his feet as he whispered to him. Kaneko was raised in Lucifer’s care, taught to respect his orders without question. He knew that she would accept the end of Nexus in time regardless of the pain it caused. The promise of a more perfect family and a younger sister to look after would help her move forward quickly and spare Kage the hatred he feared. “Your daughters will both adore you.”

“I’m glad she will grow fast.” Malice smiled at the baby as she sat on Kaneko’s head. “Babies are a little scary.”

“Neka is not scary.” Kaneko laughed as she stood and carried her sister over to Karla and Eidolon. Now dressed in a frilly white dress, black tights and shiny red boots, Neka giggled and pulled at the lacy frills. “Neka is so pretty. Look, Master Eidolon. Like a backwards Kaneko.”

“She is!” Karla tightened one of the tiny bows on Neka tiny boots before she pet her tail. “She’ll be a white kitty.”

“You will be raising her together?” Eidolon asked and let Kaneko rub her face dry on the jacket of his suit as she held her sister. “The two of you and Lilith?”

“Is it not fitting that I am Father to my husbands children?” Lucifer grinned. “Or is it that you find me unfit as a Father at all?”

“You raised Kaneko brilliantly, my Lord.” Eidolon smiled. “I don’t question the ability. Only the decency of it.”

“It was Nexus’ desire that both Lucifer and Lilith become family to her children.” Kage informed them. “She was humbled by the care they took with Kaneko, she would want no less for Neka.”

“It was always in tragedy that woman managed grace.” Lucifer muttered to himself. He realized Kage’s interruption was meant to help, but it only served to make Lucifer look villainous. Lucifer had no problem with a prolonged visit to fawn over the child, but he wanted an end to the sympathy for Nexus so he decided to force a change in topic. “How did you enjoy your trip through the realms of souls, Karla?”

“Some of it was a bit sad.” Karla let Neka grab her finger and chew on it as she continued. “But it was mostly amazing. The second place was better, they were happier. Why bother having two?”

“Most of them seem content where they are.” Lucifer explained. “Perhaps some of the older souls would accept a place with the Lost, but most the Blessed have a certain attachment to the idea of the ever after that keeps them clinging to the realm they found their way to.”

“You would make room for the ones that would go?” Karla asked. “I mean if someone were to make the offer?”

“I would.” Lucifer grinned. “Talk your husband into bringing it up when some of our larger concerns are dealt with. It would make an interesting project.”

“Would I be able to help?” Karla smirked. “Since it was kind of my idea?”

“I’m certain we can find a role for you.” Lucifer laughed. “But be patient and yield to your Master’s decision.”

“They always do.” Eidolon smiled proudly. “Neither of my brides give me trouble.”

“You want her back?” Kagemusha rubbed Kage’s neck gently and he gave a quick nod. She had noticed him tense as Kaneko carried the baby away and he had been watching quietly with no interest in the conversation. Kaneko and Karla were playing with the girl and she could see that there would be plenty of affection for Kage’s second child, but her Master was not ready to share Neka so soon after losing the one who had left her in his arms. “Just ask.”

“I think Neka might miss her Daddy.” Lucifer shifted behind the girls and put his hands around Neka. Kaneko and Karla pouted and hugged Eidolon as Lucifer walked away with the baby. “Don’t pout you two. You will see plenty of her.”

“It was fine.” Kage took Neka into his arms and cradled her lovingly. “Kaneko is entitled to time with her sister.”

“You are welcome.” Lucifer grinned as Kage smiled at the girl in his arms. He checked the message from Maefyl on his phone and chuckled. “I am going to leave you to spend some time with the girls. It seems my son wants my attention.”

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TCOL : What We Are : Fathers & Husbands Pt.1

“I expected you later in the week.” Eidolon looked up at Lucifer’s arrival and choked on his breath when he saw Kage beside him with an infant in his arms. “What is this?”

 “I need to speak with Kaneko.” Kage was barely able to look his friend in the eyes. After putting years of distance behind them, they set aside so many mistakes and cruel schemes and had come to enjoy their friendship again. Kage knew the confession he was about to make could bring an end to it. If Kaneko turned on him, Eidolon would no doubt keep Kage at arms length.

 “Kaneko is resting.” Eidolon stood and quietly demanded an answer. “Kage, the child?”

 “Is mine.” Kage looked at Neka sadly as she pulled at his tie and giggled. “Please, Eidolon. Don’t force me to make this confession twice.”

 “Kaneko will want to meet her sister, Falcon.” Lucifer smiled at the girl in Kage’s arms and rubbed her face with the back of his fingers. “Don’t make this difficult and I might approve this nonsense with Natasha helping Kryss.”

 “I don’t make things difficult.” Eidolon walked to the door near his desk and walked through it voicing his insults in a whisper as he went to wake his brides. “Everyone else seems to do a fine job of it.”

 “Is it morning already?” Karla smiled at Eidolon as he sat at the edge of the bed. When she started to stretch Kaneko squeezed her tight and mumbled before she started to lick her face. Karla laughed and pushed her elbow back to nudge her awake. “Wake up.”

 “Nyaa!” Kaneko curled around Karla like she was a life size doll and purred. “Kaneko wants to sleep here. Lord Lucifer can sleep somewhere else.”

 “Yikes.” Karla giggled and pinched Kaneko’s arm.

 “Kyaa!” Kaneko jumped to her feet on the bed and looked around startled until she saw Karla and Eidolon smiling at her. She jumped into Eidolon’s lap and hugged him as he stood. “Kaneko feels better. Are we going to finish playing with the fancy ball of string?”

“Unfortunately not. Coming, Karla?” Eidolon waited for her to jump off the bed and join them before he headed out of the room. He kissed Kaneko softly. “Your father wants to talk to you.”

 “Is that a baby?” Karla ran ahead excited and bounced on her toes as she stood in front of Kage and held the edge of his arm. “Hi baby! Who do you belong to?”

 “Kaneko thought you didn’t like kids, Pops. Who got you to babysit?” Kaneko hugged Eidolon before she hopped to her feet and ran over to join Karla. She took one look at the baby that smiled at her with eyes that matched her own and knew. She looked up at her father and her lip quivered. “Kaneko has a sister?”

 “Sister?” Karla looked at Kage in shock. “She’s yours?”

 “Neka.” Kage nodded.

 “Neka.” The baby giggled as she yanked Kage’s tie. “Neka.”

 “Speaking so quickly.” Lucifer put his arm around Kage’s waist and tapped Kaneko on the nose. “Just like this one.”

 “Kaneko, I have to scar this occasion with darker news.” Kage closed his eyes and let Neka pull herself up to his shoulder as he supported her in one arm. “A truth you should hear from me.”

 “Daddy?” Kaneko took Kage’s free hand and squeezed it. “Do you still like Kaneko?”

 “I love you.” Kage kneeled and rested his head against their hands. “Even if you hate me for this, that will not change.”

 “Why would Kaneko hate you?” She whimpered.

 “You shouldn’t.” Lucifer smirked and sat in one of the chairs in front of Eidolon’s desk. “I gave the order.”

 “The order for what?” Eidolon had been waiting patiently for answers, but Kage’s pain with what he had to say was becoming unbearable. Kaneko already had tears in her eyes and Karla had returned to his side to cling to him nervously.

 “An execution.” Lucifer grinned at Eidolon. “One I should have ordered a very long time ago. It would have saved all of us a lot of grief.”

 “Nexus…” Eternity answered without thinking.

 “Kaneko’s Mother?” Kaneko scratched Kage’s face and hissed at him. “You killed Kaneko’s Mom?!”

 “He had no choice.” Lucifer folded his hands in his lap.

 “But why?” Kaneko tried to pull away from Kage but he only held her tighter against him and shielded his younger daughter with his face. Kaneko gave up struggling and just hugged him and cried on his shoulder. “Kaneko doesn’t understand.”

 “I’m sorry.” Kage whispered.

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TCOL : What We Are : Becoming Stronger Pt.2

“Don’t waste time, seamstress.” Raziel sat and held Nikolai. “Teach him to convert the poison quickly or he will die.”

“Sweet Nikolai, give me your trust.” Raven held his face and swiftly delved into the frightened soul. Even in fear Nikolai gave her his trust and she easily found the paths of magic within him. So much he had learned since his first spell, and the magic in him now was stronger. With no difficulty at all she gave his soul and the magic in it the knowledge it needed to overcome the poison that was quickly eating away at him. Before she had even finished her work he was beginning his and she marveled at his control over the unfamiliar. She broke from her spiritual bond with him and smiled.

“Sorry for the trouble, Raven.” Nikolai took her thin bird like fingers and kissed them. With her aid he learned to change the decay in his blood to power he could utilize.

“Still such a gentleman.” Raven looked to Raziel. “He’s out of danger. Explain.”

“I had forgotten Farren was one of Michael’s early creations.” Raziel pulled Nikolai to his feet as he stood. “The horsemen served as wrath. They created dark followers to ride with them. Farren was once known as pestilence. Though he abandoned his Master quickly, he retained the power he was given.”

“I’m certain Maefyl will be thrilled to know we are fighting biblical myth.” Nikolai sighed. “Sadly I am not so well versed in it.”

“Nothing you would have learned as a man would have been helpful.” Raziel laid a hand on his back. “Most of what humans believed was a lie and the rest horribly inaccurate. I should take you back to Asura and your cubs.”

“I can make my way home from here, Raziel.” Nikolai embraced Raziel a moment and Raven sighed at the Keeper’s hesitation to accept it. “Thank you. I’m going to convince Raven to accept an invitation to join me.”

“I’ll inform the others of our work.” Raziel knew from Nikolai’s thoughts that he had intentions beyond the gratitude he meant to offer. He wanted to improve himself for the things to come and his friendship with Raven would likely help him with some of the simpler steps he needed to take. “Enjoy your evening.”

“He’s so manipulative.” Raven took Nikolai’s arm and rushed them to Golod. “And you are too trusting.”

“Raziel is earning my trust.” Nikolai told her. “He is manipulative, but we are establishing an understanding between each other. He brought me to you for more than help. He could have likely cured the damage on his own, but he wanted me to do it. And he wanted to involve you because he knew it would make me realize that I need your help.”

“If it is help I can give, Nikolai.” Raven smiled. “You know I don’t give access to strength I don’t believe someone is ready for.”

“I would never ask you to.” Nikolai laughed and showed her inside. “For now I just want to thank you.”

“Master Nikolai!” Azazel pounced into his arms purring and whispered in his ear. “I love you.”

“I love you, my pet.” Nikolai squeezed him in one arm and waved Asura and Bezer over to him to comfort them as well. “I love all of you.”

“Hi Raven!” Bezer grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her into their hug. “Is he okay?”

“I am fine.” Nikolai laughed and pulled Blondie out of her hiding place in his hair. “In fact, your little spy can impress you with my adventure.”

“Whoops.” Blondie giggled as she sat in his palm. “You were pretty amazing.”

“How amazing?” Azazel bit Nikolai’s ear.

“Maybe enough that Blondie should tell you about it after we entertain our guest for a while.” Nikolai tugged Azazel back by his hair and smiled at him. “Bring Raven some wine.”

“I’ll get vodka.” Bezer invited Raven to sit and let Asura hold Nikolai a moment longer. Of the three of them she had felt the pain the worst.

“Don’t cry, my pet.” Nikolai lifted her as she started to sob against his chest. He sat on the couch to hold her in his lap and caressed the collar at her throat and kissed her cheeks. “I was careless and caused all of you pain, forgive me.”

“I don’t care that it hurt.” Asura whimpered. “I was scared for you. I don’t want you to go with Raziel anymore if you are going to get hurt. I thought he was taking care of you.”

“We have both done our part.” Nikolai sighed and pulled her close. “I am hurt that you have so little faith in me.”

“It’s not that.” Asura wrapped her arms around him. “But you don’t fight. They have all done this before.”

“We all start somewhere.” Azazel handed Raven a glass and filled it for her before he sat the bottle beside her and crawled onto the couch with Nikolai. He rubbed Asura’s leg and tried to convince himself of what he was telling her. “Both of you have gotten stronger. You are both on Lucifer’s Council because he believes in you. So believe in each other.”

“Not just stronger.” Raven added. “The two of you are gifted. You don’t just use the magic within you. You’ve made it a living part of you; you embrace it and in return it gives itself to you unconditionally. Each of you has learned to draw on chaos beyond what anyone thought you would ever be capable of. Lucifer’s gifts to each of you have not gone to waste.”

“I just don’t want to lose you, Master Nikolai.” Asura rubbed her face on his shoulder.

“You will not.” Nikolai smiled. “Now smile for me or I won’t let Blondie tell you anything.”

“No fair!” Bezer jumped on the couch behind Asura and hooked her fingers into Asura’s mouth to pull her into an awkward grin that made Azazel laugh until tears ran down his face. “She’s smiling. Tell us.”

“I’m interested as well.” Raven sipped her wine as she gracefully crossed her legs and waited for the laughter to subside and the story telling to begin.

Blondie told the tale with the enthusiasm of a child. Darting here and there to mimic the adventure and leaving explosions of her dust as she excitedly told of burning mechanisms and newly freed pixies. Nikolai was trapped in the loving embraces of his pets as they listened intently and pawed at him affectionately. As Blondie told of humans massacred for their crimes, the cubs purred excitedly over the violence. A vibration that grew as the story pressed on and the pride in their Master grew to new heights.

Blondie quoted the chatter and imitated Raziel as if he were a zombie, breaking tension with laughter, but even Raven was hanging on every word as the fairy told the story she had snuck along to see. When she reached the entrance to the climax of her tale the questions started.

“What does this guy look like?” Asura asked. “I don’t think he’s in Uncle Lucifer’s database.”

“Have you bothered to look?” Bezer laughed.

“I was telling a story!” Blondie pouted. “And it was the good part. Play with the computer later.”

“I was listening.” Raven smiled. As impressed as ever with Nikolai’s ability to adapt. His endless curiosity kept him very perceptive and his levelheaded approach to things gave him an edge when others let their tempers take over. He deserved every bit of the respect and devotion he had smiling at him. Raven poured herself another glass of wine. “And I want to hear the rest, so please continue, Blondie.”

Nikolai smiled. Raven spoke so sweetly that her jab at their behavior met with no resistance. They just settled back onto the couch and curled up with him to hear Blondie finish her story. He was glad with Blondie’s very edited version of the end, making it more of a quick after thought in which there were mere seconds between the time he was bitten and Raven’s aid. It was not that he wanted to seem heroic; he just wanted to avoid giving Asura any more reason to panic. Raven knew the end well enough and Bezer and Azazel knew from the pain that what had happened was more grotesque than Blondie let on. But Asura let herself accept the short version and focused instead on what led to it. Nikolai had been amazing and each of them was proud to call him Master.

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TCOL : What We Are : Becoming Stronger Pt.1

“Impressive Halfling.” Raziel complimented Nikolai’s quick reactions and a prowess that seemed to surprise the Head of Golod as well. “You have been vastly underestimated by your peers.”

 “At the moment I am thankful for that.” Nikolai looked at the remains of the creature that attacked him. He could hear the slip in his accent and was quick to correct it before he continued. “I may have to consider joining Asura for her lessons after all.”

 “I think you did well enough on instinct alone.” Raziel shifted past him and ripped apart another of the Powers. “Practice will hone your skills. Stay close.”

 “After you.” Nikolai gestured for the next set of doors.

 “Your fangs are just as much of an asset against them.” Raziel protected them both with his magic as he kicked open the doors. “You might not bring death as you bleed an angel, but the blood will strengthen you and distract them. Use every thing you are.”

 “My pets would love this.” Nikolai thought of each of them lavishing their affection on him as he pushed off of Raziel’s shoulder and leapt past him. He kicked one angel to the floor and slid beneath the attack of another as he sliced the first in two and violently absorbed its strength.

 “You are enjoying it as well.” Raziel tore through several Principalities as he watched Nikolai heed his advice and take the throat of a Power before he dismembered it.

 “I don’t enjoy violence.” Nikolai started to freeze the room over in spikes of ice that pierced through the dying angels that remained and smiled at Raziel as he waited by the door. “I take pride in my accomplishments and I do what is necessary. My enjoyment in this comes from the reward I’ll be claiming when I return home.”

 “You can return now.” Raziel and Nikolai had seen to clearing most of the building, but the room beyond was going to be more of a test than Nikolai may be ready for. “Let me finish this.”

 “We came together.” Nikolai shook his head. “We will leave that way.”

 “The other two were quicker.” Farren leaned casually against the wall with fiercer guardians to either side of them. He yawned to mock Raziel and Nikolai as they approached. “I was getting bored.”

 “Send your playmates away and let us entertain you.” Raziel could not see into Farren. His mind was being protected by a powerful magic. The Powers and Thrones that stood to fight for him only made it more certain that the angel that he followed was a Watcher.

 “Not on the schedule I’m afraid.” Farren laughed. “Keeping Lucifer’s flies busy is a full time job.”

 “Meaning all of this has been nothing more than a distraction?” Nikolai glared at him. “Unforgiveable.”

 “You have no idea the things some find forgivable.” Farren returned the hatred in Nikolai’s stare and gestured for his guardians to surround their guests. “Sacrifices have to be made. The longer you live, the more you give to see righteousness restored. Considering your trouble with lower choirs, I think your final sacrifice will be made today.”

 “Righteousness?” Nikolai focused his rage through his arm and the dagger in his fist elongated, leaving a frost covered long sword that he rested on his shoulder. “I have no intention of being a sacrifice for the twisted idealism of a man too cowardly to even face me on his own.”

 “Am I supposed to be impressed by the frigid erection, pretty boy?” Farren laughed and glared at Raziel. “Are you going to brandish your phallic compensation as well, Keeper? Wretched sodomites the both of you. The Halfling spitting in the face of decency is bad enough, but as a Watcher… Have you no shame?”

 “I’ve heard enough.” Nikolai swung his sword and launched blades of ice and chaos at each of the guardians that awaited Farren’s order. He grinned as their heads rolled to the floor and he leveled his sword at Farren.

 “Observant as always, Nikolai.” Raziel crossed his arms and stepped closer to him. The angels’ attempts to defend themselves were halted by the cords of chaos Raziel had woven through the room and situated around each of them in a nearly invisible web. As Nikolai attacked Raziel tightened and thinned the web, slicing them to shreds. “We work well together.”

 “It must be our inclination toward sin that keeps us so well in tune with one another.” Nikolai smirked at Farren. “Who and where is Kava?”

 “What you should be asking…” Farren’s pupils narrowed to slits as he smiled and dissolved into the air around them. “Is ‘will I survive?’”

 Raziel snatched Nikolai from the floor and flew over the mass of large arachnids that had surrounded their feet. He shifted them above the building and unleashed a forceful blast that crushed it into the ground. Nikolai started to fall limp in his arm.

 “You were bitten?” Raziel lifted Nikolai’s face and watched him hide the pain with a smile. “Reclaim your blade and stay awake. I will take you to a friend who can help you.”

 “A fair fight does not seem to be an option with this Farren.” Nikolai had felt not one bite but several around his ankles as Raziel pulled him away. As pain ran up his legs he focused everything on keeping the pain for himself. He remembered sharing the pain of Svetlana’s death and he did not want his pets to suffer.

 “Your focus will help.” Raziel heard Nikolai’s thoughts turning dark as pain was followed by a cold tingling. Raziel kicked at the door of a dark glistening estate and lifted Nikolai into his arms. “But let it be on recovering, not her death.”

 “It was poison that took her from us.” Nikolai shivered and closed his eyes as his legs went entirely numb and the pain stung his back. He heard Raziel impatiently kicking at the door a second time before her heard a familiar voice.

 “Does patience no longer exist!?” Raven shouted as the door opened but saw Nikolai and panicked at the sight of him. “Nikolai! What has happened?”

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TCOL : What We Are : Merciful Masters Pt.2

“Can anything else go wrong?” Gory whimpered on Gabriel’s shoulder.

“I should be tearing the three of you apart for the way you damaged my Lancers.” Gabriel glared at the three horsemen that remained. “If any of you so much as touch either of them, or any of my creations again, I won’t hesitate. I will forgive what you have done because Myrt has done so. He wishes to live a simpler life and I applaud his ability to forgive the time you stole from him.”

“He will be left alone.” Michael kept his eyes on the ground in front of him.

“Let us make up for our mistakes, Lord Gabriel.” Raphael pleaded. “It was never our intent to offend you.”

“Quiet.” Gabriel sneered. “The three of you will search every inch of this realm for the soul of the forgotten child and for Farren and whatever rogue angel he is serving.”

“That may require searching more than this realm.” Uriel shook his head. “Farren has not been seen in Heaven for many ages. If he followed the Watchers that fled we will have to search all the gardens.”

“Of the ones that fled, are you familiar with a Kava?” Gabriel asked and noticed Maefyl paying close attention suddenly.

“No, My Lord.” Michael answered but with uncertainty in his voice and even the nods of the others seemed to be shaking off a haze.

“Search this realm” Gabriel ordered. “The gardens will require more delicacy than I can trust any of you with at the moment.”

As the horsemen departed and the Seraphim saw the Cherabim off to their duties Maefyl approached the Seraph that had been uncommonly honest for a creature spawned for the purpose of serving Heaven.

“You have a name?” Maefyl put his arm around the Seraph’s shoulders.

“Seraphim are without name, young Lord.” The Seraph looked almost frightened by the odd show of affection. “We have no need of them. We serve as we are required.”

“But you aren’t an ass like the others.” Sanguine slid down a section of Maefyl’s hair and swung from it. “You seem nice.”

“I told you my Seraphim would not be a problem, Maefyl.” Gabriel retracted his wings as he walked around them and faced the nervous Seraph. “Let him return to his work.”

“I like this one.” Maefyl smiled and called on a magic he wasn’t even sure he could control. He let it spill through his fingers and into the angel that panicked a moment until Maefyl rested another hand on his chest.

“What are you doing?” Gabriel watched the Seraph lay his hand on top of Maefyl’s and his expression started to change in ways it never should. The choirs were not without feeling, but their emotions were limited to increase their loyalty. As Maefyl touched this one a genuine fear and then gratitude and as Maefyl finished working his spell a nervous smile shook on the soldiers face. “Maefyl?”

“What have you done to me?” The Seraph started to weep as he smiled.

“Neat.” Maefyl congratulated himself on a successful experiment. “It worked.”

“What worked?” Gabriel stepped closer and lifted the seraphs face to look at the emotions washing over him. The nameless soldier’s eyes alive with feeling and thought that should have been impossible. The choirs, much like lesser demons were created from a stream of broken souls and half-lives. They were loyal to those that called them because they had incomplete souls and served as an extension of their Master’s will. They were never meant to live out full lives of their own, but were thankful for the time they were given. Gabriel looked at the pride in Maefyl’s smile and laughed. “You have given him a soul?”

“Looks that way.” Maefyl lit a cigarette and poked Sanguine as she swung from the ends of his hair giggling. “Should probably give him a name.”

“Your ability to use what Lucifer gives you is at times frightening.” Gabriel smiled and turned back to the Seraph. “Maefyl has given you a gift that has never been given to one of your kind and with such a gift comes freedom. You no longer owe service to me.”

“Geoffrey!” Gory fluttered her wings excitedly. “We should call him Geoffrey!”

“Young Lord, what am I to do with such a gift?” Geoffrey had no experience with the feelings that grew inside him, but the warmth of them gave him a strange confidence. “Accepting a name is simple, but I have spent many years as a guardian of Heaven’s throne and a servant to my Lord Jakyl.”

“Take up knitting?” Maefyl laughed. “Look Geoff, the only thing I can give you in the way of advice is to take some time to figure out what you want to do.”

“Then let me be of help to you.” Geoff smiled and for the first time in his long existence he altered his appearance. He retracted his wings for the first time and exchanged his white robes for a white suit the mimicked the style of Gabriel’s. His blonde hair became a fiery red and his eyes a deep green. “I can be free and still give my aid to those I respect. I may no longer owe my service to you Lord Jakyl…”

“Gabriel.” Gabriel sighed. “I don’t need the title and you aren’t a servant.”

“Gabriel.” Geoff nodded before he continued. “I am however still in command of my skills as Seraphim and with both you and Dove occupied with other responsibilities, I offer to guide the higher choirs in your absence. I would consider it an honor to work with both of you.”

“Not quite what I had in mind.” Maefyl smirked and stood beside Gabriel. “But as long as Geoff here understands that he’s working with us and not for us, he has a point. Authority is spread a bit thin and I trust him more than the three musketeers.”

“I understand.” Geoff smiled. “Perhaps more importantly, for the first time I also feel a more complete respect for both of you. In time I hope I can prove to be more than an asset in your work.”

“Like a friend?” Sanguine asked and crawled up Maefyl’s shirt. “Aww, Maefyl. You made a big sweetie out of him.”

“The Seraphim will respect your guidance, but I can’t blindly give you command.” Gabriel sent word to Dove knowing she would see to it the rest of the realm was informed. He handed a phone to the angel and smiled. It was not expected, but a new ally in Heaven was welcome. The magic Maefyl used was bewildering and Gabriel wanted to watch the long-term growth of it, but the reason he found this unfounded miracle so easy to accept is that it came in the wake of Maefyl receiving news that should have sent him into a furious rage. Instead of focusing his anger into a destructive rage, Maefyl turned his misery into kindness and took his first steps toward creation. Gabriel was humbled by the act. He had spent so long keeping Maefyl from running headlong into trouble when his temper raged out of control and now when his own was starting to frustrate him, Maefyl reminded him to breathe and find a better way. “We will see how well you adapt.”

“You’ll figure it out.” Maefyl laughed at the confusion on Geoff’s face. “And keep your skills sharp or I’m changing your name to Devadander.”

“I’m rather fond of Geoffrey.” The angel shook his head and raised his arms, crossing them in front of himself as blades extended from the backs of his hands. He bowed deeply before he looked up and smiled warmly to convey all of his gratitude for the gift he’d been given. He stood retracted the blades as he turned and started to walk away. “I think I’ll keep it. Excuse me, Lords. I have a search to join.”

“Sweet and just a little bit snarky.” Sanguine giggled.

“I wasn’t trying to hide it from you.” Gabriel took Maefyl’s hand. “I just had no desire to hurt you with the truth.”

“I also never asked.” Maefyl sighed. “I don’t think I wanted to know. It was easier for me to believe he got his seat beside his father after he crawled to his death. I just blocked out the fact he wasn’t there when Lucy finally had enough.”

“Iesu was very much human.” Gabriel explained. “He was gifted with very little magic and his contact with those that could strengthen it was intentionally kept minimal to keep that from changing. He was meant to serve a purpose and he did. The promise of divinity like so many others Iehovah made was a lie. Once the child had won him the attention he wanted he was forgotten. Iesu lived and died as a human and his soul found its own way to the realm of the Blessed. It wasn’t Iehovah that ordered his protection. Angels took it upon themselves. They considered the boy heir to Heaven and in a misguided loyalty to their god looked after the soul they thought would one day be called to join his father.”

“They didn’t bother to think about the fact he didn’t seem to care and just left him to the eternal sing-a-long with the rest of the idiots?” Maefyl was furious with the depressing truth of it. He may have been cursed for not playing the part of the devoted son, but it was the loyal one who ended up with the short end of the stick. “How did they even justify taking the time to watch him?”

“I distanced myself from the boy before he was even born and my attention was elsewhere. I can’t tell you what made them care.” Gabriel had pondered the question before and never found a definitive answer that satisfied him. “Maybe somewhere deep in their minds they knew Iehovah was spiraling into failure and had hope the child would save them. They were so blind to his lies, they could have thought his indifference was a test of their own loyalty and kept the child safe out of fear. Maybe too many of them listened to the prayers of humans asking for a return of their savior and thought it was their duty to keep his soul safe for enlightenment and reincarnation. I don’t have an answer as to why. I only know that great lengths have always been taken since his death to keep his soul looked after.”

“Maybe that’s what happened.” Maefyl chuckled. “Jesus went to save the world.”

“I highly doubt that.” Gabriel sighed. “Enlightenment requires a peace of mind and heart that Iesu did not possess. After his death he found himself abandoned by the god he died for. His soul was mad.”

“I don’t think I can handle any more good news.” Maefyl checked his phone after it buzzed in his pocket. He smacked it on his forehead a few times before he showed Gabriel the message from Asura. “This kid needs to unplug for a few hours.”

 

Can you call me? Lucifer keeps changing all the Bio stuff and it’s freaking me out.”

 

“As do you.” Gabriel took the phone from Maefyl’s hand put it back into his pocket. “At the very least try and finish one conversation.”

“Lucifer is demanding executions, Gabriel.” Maefyl shifted them to Golod. “I just created a rogue angel when we’re supposed to be hunting them down and you just told me the crazy ghost of Jesus is missing. We still have humans killing the innocent for some arrogant shit that no one seems to know how to find and a Watcher that seems to have a talent for erasing itself. Humans getting high off of magic stolen from tortured pixies for fuck sake. We can talk all you want, just keep up.”

“This from the man who I can not get to sit at his desk and file a single form.” Gabriel grinned.

“I hate paperwork.” Maefyl shrugged and leaned on the door to Nikolai’s apartment. “But when it comes to this work. I’m a fucking genius.”

“Masterful multitasking.” Sanguine fluttered above Maefyl as he fell through the doorway past Azazel and Bezer. “We are one step closer to solving all the worlds problems.”

“You’ve got a PhD in stupid.” Bezer laughed as she stood over Maefyl laughing at their prank.

“Thanks, pussycats.” Maefyl groaned as he sat up and grabbed Gabriel’s hands to pull himself up. “You ruined my moment.”

“Sorry, Dad.” Asura giggled. “That’s what you get for not calling first.”

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