Raphael is used to being overlooked. He is used to his role as an interpreter, as a storyteller. So let him do his job and give him your attention and hear how the Apocalypse really got its start. Not with demon blood and torture, but with love and jealousy and a very loud horn.
The whole Apocalypse, end-of-the-human-world thing was actually Gabriel's fault.
Trust me, I was there. I remember it like it was yesterday. And when you can look into the past and future, when you can bend spacetime to experience every moment simultaneously, it may as well have been yesterday.
Before I explain how my little brother ended the world, I need to tell you a bit about us. As a family. As angels.
When you paint us, you make us human or demon depending on what side we fought for during what you like to the war. I call it "that disagreement that ruined Sunday dinner."
But our bodies are not subject to humanity's whims, no matter how important you think you are.
We were created first. Modelled on our Father and remarkably like you. But while we were all - all of Creation - made of starstuff, our bodies are made from the energy and matter you are only just starting to discover, that which you can measure only by its effect on your plane.
So, yes, we look almost exactly like you. Taller, lighter, wings like you wouldn't believe, but essentially the same. You don't mess with a good design. We reproduce, we form family-like flocks, and above all we love our Father.
Well, most of us.
See, you may think that the four of us archangels, Michael, Lucifer, Gabriel, and myself, you may think that we would be even further removed from human emotion than our younger brethren. But you would be wrong.
The vast, vast majority of the Host was created to serve. Obedience and worship, that is their lifeblood. But us? We were meant to rule the others, keep order in the cosmos. And to do that? We needed to have free will, to be able to make decisions without checking with Father.
So there we are, the four of us alone in all the Host and able to actually think for ourselves. And it turns out that when you can expend energies on things other than bowing and scraping, you start to develop personality quirks.
We stood apart from our brothers and sisters both by our power and our habits. To say that it was lonely would be understating it. The lower choirs wanted to be near us, to bask in our Grace, but they did not want to speak to us, to make eye contact. It was horrible and I think that perhaps that was why Father created us at all, closer to Him than the rest. Because maybe He was lonely, too.
But anyway, Michael and Lucifer.
What can I say about those two? We four were already set apart, but then they were even further removed. Where Gabriel and I interacted with the Host in our duties, made efforts to form bonds with them, Michael and Lucifer did not seem to care about anyone else.
Michael was created first. But Lucifer, ah, Lucifer, he was always Father's favourite. He was, as he would tease our eldest brother, "an improvement on the original model."
That's not to say that Michael wasn't glorious because of course he was. Is.
Michael commanded the armies of the Host, wielded power and respect enough to make you jealous. But if he shone with blazing Grace? If the lower choirs could barely make themselves look away from him? It was only because Lucifer bathed him in his own light.
And Lucifer's light...
Ha, look at me. Tearing up over it still. Like it hasn't been eons and eons.
Lucifer was the brightest of us all, no doubt. His Grace radiated God's favour, His love. And Lucifer's own endless capacity for love. He and our Father were close. I still suspect that Father confided in Lucifer, as much as He felt He could. Lucifer was made His viceroy, given so much responsibility that I would have staggered under the weight of it. But my brother shouldered it easily.
Sometimes, in my darker moods (and that's a flaw I have in spades, black moods), I wonder if Father maybe felt guilty for what would happen to us all. If He lavished attention and praise on Lucifer because He knew the Morningstar would go so long without it.
But enough of that. We were talking about better times.
Or rather, I was talking. Stop me if I start falling into morose tangents, again.
So, yes. When he was not secreted away with our Father, Lucifer's Grace was always bent completely toward Michael. And it was good for Michael, really. Tempered the edge of his wrath.
And so many angels wanted that light for themselves. I won't lie and say I didn't rejoice in my brother's company. Lucifer carried the love of God wherever he went and everything just seemed better when he was there. Yes, the entire Host wanted to be in Lucifer's presence (why do you think he took a third of Heaven with him, when he left? Mostly, I think they could not imagine a Heaven without the Morningstar), but Lucifer only wanted to be near Michael.
But you're still waiting to hear how this all ended, aren't you? Still dying to know how Gabriel could possibly have had a role in starting the Apocalypse.
Well, it's not as simple as all that.
You know Gabriel. He figures prominently in your mythology. He's the one with the horn, look him up if you're confused. Me? I get to be a storyteller. A healer, sometimes, but more often than not I carry the stories of God to His angels, the stories of angels to humanity. It's what you're here for, after all, is it not? To hear my story?
Not that I'm jealous. Of course not. Michael with his sword, Gabriel with the horn, even Lucifer is depicted with a goddamn trident these days. Guess what I have, in your works? No, really, go ahead and guess. Stumped? That's okay, I don't blame you. I'm very rarely taken seriously by your kind. It's a fish, by the way. I'm usually represented by a figure of an angel with a twice-blasted fish.
I warned you to stop me if I lapsed into complaints.
Anyway, Michael and Lucifer were each others world. Before the creation of the Earth, they roamed the chaos of the early cosmos together, out flying Gabriel and I, seeking privacy in the new storms of mass and gravity.
It really annoyed Gabriel.
There our brothers were, discovering things like lust, and physical pleasure, and how their bodies could interlock, and Gabriel was completely left out. So was I, but that didn't seem to matter to Gabriel. The point was that he was being excluded and he couldn't stand it.
This had been going on for innumerable units of human time by the time the Earth had developed a stable rotation, had started to play host to a never-ending parade of creatures. Not surprisingly, the Earth became our favourite if only because He so adored it. Michael and Lucifer would chase one another across oceans and hide themselves away in the dense forests for days on end.
None of us could have known that that innocence would soon be obliterated.
But anyway, Gabriel had had enough. If he wasn't allowed to join our older brothers in their explorations and their joy, then he would see to it that they didn't get to indulge at all.
The first time, Lucifer had Michael in a redwood. They were easy to find, the brilliance of Lucifer's Grace was like a guiding star for us back then, so it wasn't like Gabriel had to track them down or anything.
Yes, so the story goes (dramatically reenacted for me by the Herald himself) that Lucifer had Michael in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G and all that. And just as they were getting to the interesting part, as Michael was spreading his legs for the Morningstar, Gabriel blew his horn.
No, not like that.
Human minds. Always in the gutter.
His musical horn. Just as our brothers were trying to twine themselves together, to become one, Gabriel sounded the loudest note he could right at the base of the tree.
And they fell out.
Now, this was before there were human beings as you would recognize them today. Before the need for vessels. And so when Michael tumbled out of the redwood and flared his wings to slow his fall, when the branches of the nearest trees tore into the skin above his knee, it scarred.
Honestly, it's just a tiny scar. I don't know why he complains so much about it. Maybe because it makes Lucifer kneel to kiss it better. Whatever that's about.
Made, it made Lucifer kneel. None of that happens anymore. My brothers are gone and I'm the only one left to tell the tale. But I try not to dwell. Truly, I try. Let us move on.
Understandably, they were livid. And I've seen Michael's temper many times, he is as hot blooded as angels come, but to see Lucifer lose his calm was a thing to remember. Lucifer's fury burns so cold that it feels like flames against your Grace and I'm not ashamed to admit that I threw Gabriel to the metaphorical wolves when push came to shove. Their little spat had nothing at all to do with me and I don't fancy facing the combined wrath of Michael and Lucifer, thank you very much.
But Gabriel is difficult to intimidate.
He seemed to think the whole thing was a great joke and soon he had devoted every spare moment he had (and that our older brothers had) to finding and interrupting them whenever they were becoming intimate.
Gabriel had a list of seemingly never-ending tasks, messages from the Host, anything to keep Michael and Lucifer apart.
Apart and frustrated.
This was still going on when our Father was finally pleased with the human form, with the gift of their immortal souls. It was still going on when my family was divided by His Hand. When Lucifer fell and Michael wept.
So as far as I know, they had never been together a single time after their failed attempt in that redwood tree.
Can you see where this is going?
Sure, Gabriel is not to blame for Lucifer's fall. He's not responsible for Michael throwing himself into his duty, punishing himself by becoming what Lucifer always hated. He's not at fault for the creation of demons or the breaking of the seals.
But, I have to wonder.
If my brothers were not so angry. If they had not been so frustrated. If they had parted with softness and lingering looks, would they clash so hard now that Lucifer is free?
I said it before, I won't lie. I wept with joy when Samuel Winchester broke that final seal. When my older brother walked the Earth. I flew to Michael with my Grace full of hope, because even in Father's absence, surely things would be better, now? Now that the light of the Morningstar might return?
But Michael has grown hard and obstinate. Every bit as stubborn as Lucifer. And now that they've let old wounds fester, now that they refuse to see that if they were betrayed, it was by our Father and not each other, I worry that the world really will end in fire and human screaming. When it could it have been better.
If they were pleased to see one another again, if they would trade the Earth for the other, if they weren't taking untold years of sexual frustration out on the world.
If, if, if.
It's all rather inconsequential now, anyway. Gabriel is gone. And though I could not face Lucifer, could not be in the presence of that much grief, sorrow, rage, and hate, I wept with him over our little brother's loss. Michael did not. He steeled himself even further, became convinced that he had to kill Lucifer, that it was the only way. No matter what I tried to explain to him.
It was a stroke of good luck (sorry, Divine Intervention) that saved the world.
I'm not saying the efforts of Sam and Dean Winchester were useless, of course not. If it weren't for them strong-arming my brothers, Michael and Lucifer would still be raining destruction down on mankind while they settle their little tiff.
But Father came back.
Maybe not forever, maybe only for moments. It's hard to judge human time on this plane. But He is back for the time being. He called for me and I went and we sealed Lucifer's old cage behind them as the humans forced them down into Hell.
I can't see down there. It is a place beyond God and I cannot hope to guess their activities. But Father did pull out the human souls before it was too late, before Michael and Lucifer could destroy them in their anger.
So my brothers are trapped together. And I am alone.
Father assures me that it is not forever. That they are merely on "time out."
That Michael and Lucifer will fly among us once again. When they are calm, when they are ready.
When they "smarten up and work out all that unresolved sexual tension."
Father's time on Earth has changed Him, I think. I don't dare call Him on it (one doesn't so much call God the Almighty on anything, after all), but He is different now.
I hope that my brothers will be different, too.
I hope that they will be what they once were. I am fine with being left behind if it means the Morninstar's light returns to Heaven, if it means Michael's glory will grace the Host again, if it means they will be happy.
Above all, I just want my brothers to be happy.
And I don't think that's too much to ask.