Love is a weakness Michael cannot afford to feel. It so happens that he's never really had the choice. Implied yaoi.
Aspirat primo Fortuna labori
Me duce tutus eris
Vox populi vox Dei
Ad majorem Dei gloriam...
Ire. Irrational and freeing, because it's the only outlet for any sort of feeling from a heart he'd long ago banned from whatever other emotion chose to rise up in it. Treason had slammed the door to Heaven shut in front of his face, and for centuries he's hidden the overwhelming sensation that he remained on the wrong side of it.
Angel of Fire and ire is his fuel. Chief of the Powers, the great Michael-sama. Bloodthirsty general, feared throughout ranks of enemies and allies alike. Archangel with one of the highest titles available yet mocked and laughed at by his inferiors among his very ranks: an eternal child in face and attitude. He heard the whispers, saw the looks, he murdered dozens, thousands because of them.
The great Michael-sama, scourge of the demons. And what did it mean? Freedom for flight and license to kill, but no amount of demons slain could score the revenge his heart desired for. Nothing could assure him the debt was paid. His brother had, after all, left him to rot in the grand halls of God's magnificence while he leaped and was condemned to create a kingdom of his own. His brother had, after all, taken the only woman Michael had ever trusted down with him. She, for whom he'd once cared for, twisted what he thought was affection for himself into adoration for his brother.
His brother was, after all, Lucifer. Once Lucifiel, the light of the heavens. Once worshipped and beloved, and he threw it all away because greed was stronger than love and fraternity.
Love was a weakness Michael could not afford to feel.
His stalking steps through Heaven's halls made the servants quake. He paid them no mind, fingering the sword at his back and itching with the need to draw it and destroy, to burn this castle to the ground. He burned with the need to /rebel/. The labyrinth of stone passageways that led to his bedchambers was winding and twisting before his very eyes, clouded and blinded at times from the drops of sweat that slid from his hair. There were no tears. No tears.
Turning down a corner, his body slammed into another and he found himself staring at the terrified gaze of one his servants. A boy, lanky and shaking was trying to appease him, kneeling before him and crying, already seeing the fire that was rising up in Michael's eyes beyond his control. Beyond his control, and he couldn't stop the overwhelming hatred that rose at the sight of such weakness in the blue eyes of the boy at his feet.
Heaven was no place for weakness.
"N-no Michael-sama-" The stuttering plea went unanswered. Michael didn't stop it, couldn't stop it, should have stopped it, but his wavering feelings, his thoughts needed an outlet; presented with a target, trained soldiers stuck. No thought, no emotion. Michael was the head of Heaven's armies for a reason.
"NOOOOO!" The boy's agony lasted but a second. Flames rose up from Michael's body and consumed the body at his mercy, reducing flesh to ash in the blink of an eye, stopped the fear, the stuttering, the uncertainty forever. May God have mercy on his soul.
Michael almost laughed.
The boy's scream alerted the whole of the castle and the rest of the way to his bedchambers was made among the uttermost silence. Silence and tension and fear that lined the halls but had no faces, all of them hiding and fleeing from their master's ire. From his fire. From his apparent madness that was all too rational, too thought-over for someone who relied on instinct and action, for someone who despised rationalization.
It was the problem, with him it was always the problem. He was too aware of what he did, of what he felt of what he thought. The numbness had been ripped away and there was no stopping the flames that had hid behind it.
His room, when he reached it, was bathed in sunlight.
The archway windows had no curtains because Raphael detested him hiding in the gloom and the bastard kept stealing them. The bed was neatly made, the blood-red coverlets immaculate. His clothes were stored away, the furniture he'd destroyed not too long ago had been replaced and everything looked in place. The black of the fabrics he'd hung around the walls offered a manner of comfort, but none he could truly grasp.
With a roar, he flung his sword from its scabbard and attacked. Attacked thin air and monsters that had no flesh, shadows that lived nowhere but in his head. Thrust, parry, step back, defence. Kill. Fabric and wood were no adversaries for his hatred. Nothing was. His brother had been, a corner of his thoughts wanted to whisper, but he wouldn't let it whisper above the screams that were torn from his throat. Heat rose from his skin in waves, fire that reached out and grabbed and burnt everything it grasped.
The flames should have arose and consumed, should have burnt the fortress to a crisp, but something was stopping it. There was a fucking stupid-
"Michael!! Control yourself! Michael- stop this madness now! NOW! MICHAEL!" And Raphael was there, in front of him, staring at him through normally indifferent eyes that now burnt with worry. The tableau was surrealistic. He breathed in and looked at his friend, felt waves of heat rising beneath his skin and it was an echo of centuries ago when his brother had fallen from Heaven and despair coursed through his veins and he couldn't possibly control-
Raphael had been the only one that dared to approach him. He was burnt and hurt because of it, but he approached and pulled him back from whatever abyss he'd been tumbling into. Saved a part of him, at least. Saved what hadn't already fallen.
Michael stopped screaming, stopped attacking, simply because the silence that echoed in the destroyed room seemed appropriate. Raphael, angel of Wind, took care of the fire, extinguished the flames without looking away from Michael's eyes.
The redhead had to wonder what he saw there.
"What did Rociel do to you?" Raphael asked at last, not looking away even when Michael smiled sardonically at him. "What did he do?"
"When has he EVER done ANYTHING?" Michael hissed between clenched teeth, tossing his sword aside and stalking past Raphael's frame towards the windows, which had remained untouched by his ire. Sunlight bathed him warmly, but the heat he felt had nothing to do with a fucking star. "Anything other than snivel and manipulate, other than lurking in the fucking shadows and wait for things to be done in his name?"
"What did he do Mika?" Raphael repeated slowly, calmly, and if he looked back Michael was sure he'd see the return of the faÃ§ade. Disinterest personified, the blonde would be standing there, smoking a cigarette, and looking as if nothing had happened. His control slipping, Michael very consciously didn't look.
"Speak." He barked lowly, staring blankly at his reflection in the window's glass. The paleness of his face, the tattoo that marred- tried to mar the distant resemblance- and yet... "And look at me."
"Did you know?" He interrupted quickly, tracing the outline of his features in the glass. "Had you noticed and not told me?"
Silence. For a moment, Michael was sure he had his answer in the lack of it, yet too soon a firm hand touched his shoulder, a gesture allowed to no other than Raphael. The heat beneath his clothes didn't affect the blond; Raphael didn't move his touch away, rather used it to make Michael face his sky blue eyes. He didn't look as indifferent as the redhead had feared; there was a wariness there that seemed somehow appropriate.
"Had I not told you what?" Raphael enunciated slowly, trying but failing to seem casual about the question. "Rociel is deceit in angelic form, Mika-chan. You should know not to take him seriously. You know not to."
Michael nodded, didn't answer for a moment, turning back to the window and his reflection, seeing every word in Rociel's tongue staring back at him. Seeing the truth he'd tried so very hard to deny to himself. His hands were shaking when he traced his reflected features one more time, and in some places, the glass seemed to be affected by the heat from his skin. It was melting. Raphael's hand didn't move away. It took a healer to be friends with destruction.
"My favorite coat doesn't fit anymore, you know." He commented at last, looking at nothing through the window. "I burnt it this morning."
The blond didn't answer immediately, taken aback from the seeming illogical turn the conversation had taken. Michael could see Raphael's reflection next to his, tall, blonde, with the bearings of a true angel, standing next to a redheaded child. He wondered for how long the illusion would hold.
Fear was a weakness no general could hold.
"Neither do my boots." He continued after a pause, moving his hand in the glass and tracing idle patterns that mimicked a battlefield. The allies and the enemies, the first line of attack, the dead carcasses in the way of the troops. Heaven's wars. But Raphael wouldn't know what the drawings were, and Mika didn't expect him to see it. "Centuries, millennia unchanged. But guess what, you big pervert?"
"Michael, you can't possibly tell me you believed-" Raphael started, aggravated now, trying to sound affronted, but Michael was trained for battle, trained to spot the enemy's weakness. Enemy. Raphael was never supposed to be in that category. Not to 'Mika-chan', not to Michael the great Chief of the Powers. He was a friend. A friend. Loyalty, Michael understood it, felt it, but the limits were blurring dangerously within his head.
"I didn't HAVE to believe him!" He exploded then, and his hand went through the window without his consent. Blood poured, and it was warmer than it should have been. Lava burning through his veins. "I see it. I hid it, tried to, but he saw it. Rociel saw it, and I couldn't FUCKING deny it!"
"You are nothing like that- that-!" Raphael exploded, at loss for words for too long a moment than in him could have been centuries. Raphael lost his composure, and Michael should be amused by it. He fucking should be. "That monster!"
"I am exactly like that monster." Michael answered curtly, watching his blood stain the glass, the glass stain his reflection. Watched as the blood obscured his tattoo, the dragon hiding in those drops of thick red, and it was right there, in every one of his features. "I am the monster's brother. TWIN brother. And for millennia my own body denied it, hid it. I remained a child, stopped growing altogether because a few more years on me and I'd be Lucifiel's reflection. The tattoo hid it. The red in my hair hides it. But it NEVER goes AWAY!"
"Mika-chan, it's not-"
"Mika-chan's growing the fuck up!" He growled then, whirled around to smash the remaining pieces of the window, watching the glass fly out. A few pieces cut into his face, but the pain was another release. Another outlet. "I've seen it. How my shoulders broaden, how I'm getting taller. You see my hair, you lunatic? Deny it all you like, but it's turning BLACK!"
"Physical appearance does not make character." Raphael stated blandly, stepping away from him. Michael could see his hand was burnt, but a wave of his other hand and the damage was gone. The damage he caused so easily- the power he held. "His name is Lucifer, Mika-chan, don't forget that. Fallen by none other than his own will. God's betrayer. You are the head of His armies, have been for centuries. You fought Lucifer and won. You're better than he ever could have been. He's tainted."
"He's my blood," Michael murmured, suddenly subdued. Burdened. The weight of another's sin only bringing his own into sharp relief. "What if I were to tell you God means nothing to me?"
Raphael's gaze was cold as ice when he turned to meet his eyes, but Michael didn't blink. He clutched a shred of glass in his hand, bloody fingers slipping on it- wasn't sure why he held it, but it felt important.
"I wouldn't believe you." Raphael stated at last. "He's all we have left."
"He abandoned us long ago." Was all he said, turning his back on his friend and facing the window. His wings, when they stretched out from his back, caught shreds of glass in its white feathers, but he felt no pain. "War is war- that is all I live for. Mayhem, destruction- I fucking thrive in it. Was made for it."
"Lucifer twisted you into it." Raphael contradicted him sharply, staking a step closer but going no further. His boots stepped on several shreds of the glass on the floor. "It's hatred and revenge you fight for, it's loathing for what your brother became. For what he did to you. It has nothing to do with-"
"It's become me!" Michael shouted for no reason in particular, staring up at the sun. It didn't burn his eyes, didn't blind him- neither did it made things clearer. "It's who I'll grow into! It's what he waits for!"
Silence. Long, painful silence that made Michael's fingers twitch. He didn't look at Raphael.
"What?" Raphael muttered behind him, slow, deliberate, as if his hearing could have possibly failed him. Michael did laugh then, long and hysterical, clutching the glass tighter in his hand and feeling liquid fire bleeding onto his hands.
"Rociel heard it." Michael told him with a smile. Maniacal. His control was spiralling out, and it was that day all over again. His brother's beautiful face in front of his, serious, focused, determined. The day of the fall, heaven's greatest war- heaven's rebellion and his brother was leading it with the skill of a true General. His voice echoed in his thoughts, echoed in Rociel's leering insinuations. Lucifer's offer. His brother's voice among the screams of the dying and the fallen. Come with me. Come with me, he said and Michael had watched him fall without taking the leap after him. Had made him fall, fought him and won because he couldn't face his own need to follow Lucifiel anywhere. Anywhere at all. "His call. He's reawakened- and he's fucking waiting for me."
He couldn't hear it. Without warning his wings stretched to their full extent behind him, incrusted glass making them bleed and dyeing the feathers dark red. Almost black- almost dark enough. The day outside was beautiful and bright, and the sun was almost as hot as he was now, calling him like Lucifer did, and the beckoning was almost as powerful. Always fucking almost.
Come with me.
His scream echoed in the heavens, echoed like a call, like a beacon, like a fucking admission. Somewhere, Rociel smiled. Within Michael, fire lit up and danced, became real flames that engulfed him without burning him, without hurting him at all because he couldn't control it, but the power was /his/. His and not God's. His.
Lucifiel awaited. His brother. Love was a weakness Michael couldn't afford to feel. General of the Legions of Heaven, brother of the Lord of Hell. Somehow a title had always been above the other; it had always weighted more and he'd always known it. And Lucifiel was fucking calling for him.
But not even Raphael could reach him. Not now. Not when fire engulfed his wings, danced over them and made him a Phoenix of legend, made him powerful, unreachable, untouchable. He couldn't stop screaming and his brother was fucking calling for him.
"MICHAEL NO! FIGHT IT! MICHAEL! DON'T LISTEN TO HIM! MICHAEL HE'S TRICKING YOU!"
His wings felt different when he soared higher still. Heavier. The fire among them was burning his feathers, burning them as it never had before, but there was no pain. No feeling.
Feathers were turning black. And Raphael was screaming and flying towards him, stretching his arms out in an attempt to reach him, but the touch scalded him and Michael couldn't stop his own power, couldn't control it. The sun was so close, that if he only flew higher, if he only reached out now then he could almost-
Come with me.
And he was falling endless ways. Lucifiel was waiting for him, magnificent and beautiful, dark armour stark against the whiteness of his skin. Lucifiel was smiling and stretching his arms out to catch him. Heaven became a white spot in his vision, a memory that twisted and faded away; just a place that didn't belong to him. Arms closed around him in a vice hold, and he stopped falling. Stopped screaming.
Hell had never seemed so inviting. Looking up, Lucifer's eyes were there. Bright they were, and loving, as they should have always been. Almost perfect, almost because there was something in that face, something off and somewhere distant Raphael was still calling for him.
No. No, don't wake up, don't wake up, he's here, he was waiting for you, he's-
"Michael, he hates you."
He does, of course, Lucifer always has, darkness versus light, and Michael's never sure which role is he supposed to fit. Angel of Light - the title should be an honour, not a burden, and yet the words rise like a rift between them, wider than Heaven and Hell, wider than any land in-between. Wider than God.
Lucifiel was good, Michael remembered. He was good, once upon a time, and he had loved him. His brother. His twin. His...
He doesn't want to. But Lucifiel's image is already fading from his arms, and his own feathers are turning white again. When he opens his eyes Raphael is there, looking worried and tired, looking strange in his own skin. But Michael doesn't say anything. The room they stand in was destroyed by his sword, the window broken by his hand. He flew, he burnt, his feathers turning black and useless, wings becoming fire incarnated. But Raphael caught him. Saved him. Healed him.
Raphael always did.
"Rociel is playing with you," Raphael was murmuring gently. Too gently, but Michael's too tired to shout. "You're growing, Mika, you finally are, but you're not growing into him. You're better than him. And don't you fucking scare me like that again, you hear me?"
He doesn't. Lips touch his, but they taste of cigarette smoke and he doesn't reciprocate. Instead, he closes his eyes and dreams of Lucifiel's smile.