Fall from Grace Chapter 14: Everything I Do, I Do It For You

Gabriel watched the contestants with pride. These angels had proven to be the best in their generation. Each would make a fine general. But he had his eyes directed on one angel in particular.

Azrael noticed his father's searching gaze and sent him a sloppy wave. He wished he knew where Micael was, but he remembered the rules they had set. They had to pretend they were still following the Elders' orders, which meant they weren't to associate with each other while in public eye, unless it was for an assignment. Azrael hated the idea, but he hated not having Micael at all even more. He continued to enact Micael's plan.

"Azrael!" Rafael sung out, revealing himself from the crowd of angels.

No longer a scrawny child, the angel had the build of a 19-year-old and always wore his vibrant blond hair back in a elegant ponytail. His fraility had improved a bit as well. Rafael had mastered all angelic magic aside from healing and was a worthy opponent for any of the younger angels. He had also gained a power over emotions.

His touch could soothe or hurt, depending on what emotion he decided to force into another. Rafael usually avoided the painful side of his powers. He regretted not being able to heal and saw his new skill as way to make up for that ability. Micael had told Azrael the many times that Rafael had used it on him while they had been separated. He'd said it had never abated all the yearning, but it had pushed it away for a while.

If Rafael was here, that meant he planned on participating in the match. Rafael was trying for the spot!

"Rafael. Never thought I'd see you here," Azrael called back to him, as Rafael squeezed his way through.

He took Azrael's hands. "I don't plan to win, Azrael. There are other rankings depending on how quickly you get disqualified. I just hope to be close to the general. I always wanted to be an adviser. You know, as Jophiel is to Michael and Gabriel."

"Heh. If Micael or me win, you'll have your work cut out for you."

"Exactly," Rafael quipped. His sky blue eyes seemed to haze over for a moment. "I know how much Micael wants this, Azrael, but...We both know who's stronger."

The other angel read Rafael's eyes and tried to smile. "Nobody knows what the future will bring."

"You'd make a grand general, Azrael. You'd know how to rule justly because you know what it's like to be oppressed. You're also more open to new things than any of the other angels. You'd make things exciting, if not a bit scary. And you'd have your moment to show the Elders that you were more than they thought."

"What about your brother?"

Silence hung about the pair. Rafael rubbed at his arm. Azrael couldn't determine what was making the angel act like this. He was acting like he was worried about something. Rafael worried a lot, but why should he worry about his older brother becoming general?

"Micael wants to be greater than Father," Rafael said in a dragging voice. "Father's power has only come due to adversity. Micael could become what he wishes to be, but..." He let the statement end there, breaking off and looking away.

"But what?" Azrael urged.

"Don't worry about it," Rafael placated, patting his friend's arm. "I'm just getting all worked up over nothing again. We should go get ready."

Azrael delayed. He desperately wanted to have his vengeance against the Elders... But would would that mean for Micael's dreams? The ones he'd spoken of since they met all those years ago. Obviously, he couldn't have both, and right now he couldn't decide which he wanted more. Then Rafael had to go and mess him up with all that creepy talk about something happening to Micael if he became general. Azrael knew Micael. Micael would be just as fine a general as him. He wasn't like the other angels. Micael had ideals and high morals. The angel would never let power corrupt him.

He believed in Micael.


"You'll probably be fighting against your partner, Micael," Michael told his son as Micael sat by him, straining to see Azrael amongst the masses. "We'll finally get to see who is the best." Michael grinned. "I've been wanting to know that for a while."

"It will be a hard match, Father," Micael replied, wanting so much for the contest to begin. He would live out his greatest dream today. Michael would finally know he had raised a champion.

"Azrael is still bitter that you wouldn't allow him to lead you to sin. He may use that rage against you."

Micael fought not to smirk at his father's ignorance. "Azrael knows how to channel his anger, Father. He never would have lived this long if he didn't... with what he's been put through."

"I have explained the matter to you enough. I will not go into it again," Michael barked. "When you are a general, you will understand that certain things must be done for the good of all of us. Even things that other would consider wicked. Sacrifices, my son. If you can't force yourself to make them, you will be weak. Weakness endangers all."

"Again with the lecture," Micael mocked, plucking at a few of his feathers.

"There's a difference between ruling and leading, Micael. A leader makes choices according to his mind. A ruler makes choices according to his desires. Which will you be?"

"A leader."

Michael held his chin. "Show them whose blood runs through your veins."


Micael wiped some sweat from his brow. The other angels hadn't been the weaklings he had known from his childhood. They had made him fight for his victory. He was sore and knew he was bleeding in several places. The pain was making it hard for him to concentrate. He hoped his next opponent would give him a short battle. He called for his sword.

It was pushed back by another energy blade, as a hand was laid against his chest. The force nearly threw him backward as energy shot through him, racing down every muscle. As its essence started to fade, he noticed that the ache of his wounds had lessened. They had been reduced to easily dismissible pangs. He peered at his cuts. They were still there, bleeding onto the ground. Only his mind no longer recognized the pain. Baffled, he opened his eyes.

"Bring it on, big brother."

"Rafael!" Micael shrieked, seeing his sibling in front of him, holding his sword at a sharp angel by his face. Rafael had never told him he was going to enter! Was his brother crazy?

"If you're wondering why I healed you before we begun, I should say that I figured you'd want a fair fight," Rafael giggled, shaking his golden mane.

He had bruises on his cherub face and various injuries throughout the rest of his body. One of his wings had been badly broken and sagged on his back. Still, he smiled at him with the same smile that he had grown used to seeing on his little brother's face everyday. That bright and energetic beam. The one begging to be accepted.

Deeply against the idea of beating up on his brother, Micael turned to the Elders, finding Michael in the center. He gave his father a desparate look, begging him to call this off. Michael wouldn't let him hurt Rafael. Uriel would never allow it.

"He's not going to do anything, Micael. He never has," Rafael explained, backing up to start the fight.

"Mother. She'll...she'll kill me," Micael protested, shaking his head and pulling back.

"She knows. I told her. This is the only way I can be part of this." He cocked his head to to the side and grinned again. "Don't you see? I can be with you from now on. I won't be left out. No longer the baby of the family. I will be at your side, Micael. And for that chance, I would do anything."

"Rafael..." Micael gasped.

His brother jerked up his head and gave him a fierce glance. "But don't go easy on, Micael. I want to gain my place just like all the rest. No special treatment."

Micael nodded.


"I promise."

The other angel threw back his head and tightened his hold on his sword. "Well, better start fighting before the Elders decide to yank us both."


On command, Micael charged him, swiping his sword across his side and hurling Rafael to the ground. Rafael found his footing and flipped back, using his lithe body to kick Micael in the jaw. His brother stumbled, as Rafael sliced him along the stomach. Micael hissed and clutched the wound as he grabbed Rafael's broken wing and yanked at it. The other angel dropped to his knees from the pain.

Micael grasped his throat and brought him up, staring into Rafael's glassy eyes. He knew the rules. The only way to end the match was to stab an opponent through the chest. It wouldn't kill them since the energy swords couldn't kill an angel, only a demon. Still, the shock of the stab would be enough to send an angel into unconsciousness. This was how Micael had won his fights so far.

But this was his brother. He had been raised to protect him at all costs. How could he ever drive a blade through Rafael's chest?

"We're still fighting!" Rafael screamed, clamping his fingers around Micael's arm and making the pain return to the limb.

Howling, Micael released him and scrambled away, fighting to regain his head. Rafael tripped him and he slammed into the ground on his side. He felt the sword cut him again and rolled onto his back without thinking. Rafael met his eyes before raising the sword above his torso.

"Think, Micael!" he shouted as he drove the sword downward.

There was only thing that he could do. Micael jerked up his hands and caught the blade, twisting his fingers around the hissing energy. It tore at his palms and fingers but he couldn't let go. Clenching the blade, he pushed it back at his brother. The hilt struck Rafael in the throat and he collapsed to his knees once more, holding his throat as he struggled to breathe.

"Ama...zing...strat...egy," Rafael choked, his eyes fogging from lack of air.

Micael rose to his feet, his sword dangling from bloody fingers. He titled the blade and aimed it at his brother's heaving chest. The sword shook. Rafael reached for his sword and Micael stepped down on it.

He glanced at his brother and spoke to him in a fragile tone. "You are a good fighter, Rafael. I'm proud of you." Rafael watched as Micael closed his eyes. "Sorry."

Rafael's back bowed as the sword sank into him. The pain lasted for just a second before the darkness took him in its soothing arms. He slumped over the blade. It was removed from him as Micael held his unconscious sibling against his chest.

His eyes rose and he sought out Michael. The archangel was clapping, his face free of any expression. Micael tried not to feel angry. He saw Raphael fly down to take the limp angel from his arms.

Across from him, he heard more boisterous yells. Whoever had been fighting in the other match had just won. That meant that he was down to the final round. Only one more angel to beat.

Feathers beat above him and his last opponent entered the ring. He didn't even have to turn to know who he would be facing. Someone appeared behind him and whispered in his ear with that beautiful husky tone.

"Hello, lover."

Micael chuckled and snatched his opponent's arm, dragging him out in front of him. Azrael had his share of cuts, including some ugly ones near the top of his chest. His hair was loose and it looked like one of the angels had sheared off a good portion of it so that it only clung to his shoulders, unraveling from its severed braid. He also had a large gash down his right arm. That had probably been caused breaking away from a sword-lock.

Azrael felt at his shortened locks. "Damn, Belial. Bitch tried to scalp me. Thought she could pin my down with my hair. Didn't think I'd risk losing it. Hell, I can grow it back in a year. I'd rather be general."

"Wow. You actually have priorities?" Micael gibed, lifting some of the ragged tresses with the tip of his blade. "Gonna make this a real fight then?"

"Wouldn't have it any other way," Azrael responded in an eager timbre.

"Then, I should apologize in advance for kicking your ass."

"Cool. I'm sorry for having to force those smartass words back down your throat. I know it's sore from the other night."


"Ah well, destiny calls, Micael."

"I'm ready to answer it."

He rushed Azrael, but the angel was ready for him and dove over his back, rolling to the ground and slashing at Micael's calf. Micael tottered but remained on his feet as Azrael took to the sky.

Micael flew up to meet him. Azrael was always faster. He whirled around and slammed himself into Micael, throwing the angel off balance. Micael tried to fly but Azrael drove his blade into the wings on his left, numbing them with its energy. He went to do the same to the other side.

Awash in agony, Micael smacked Azrael with the wings that were still functioning. Azrael tried to cut at them but the lower one hit his chest and threw him off. Micael sailed toward the ground.

Before he struck it, he felt something grip his hand. He groaned at the contact. Azrael wasn't playing by the rules. He was going to get them in trouble.

"We're not allowed to help each other, Azrael," he reminded his friend.

Azrael gave him a wry smile. "Who said I was helping?" He threw Micael into the wall and watched as the angel cried out and sank to the ground.

He twirled the sword around in his hand as he approached the dazed Micael. Micael crawled on his hands and knees, blinking in and out of reality. Azrael kicked him under his gut, flipping him over.

It didn't seem like his friend was concerned about hurting him. He wanted to win.

Well, so did Micael.

Micael snapped his legs around Azrael's and yanked them to the side, knocking the angel down. Once Azrael was on all fours, he smashed the hilt of his sword against his back. Azrael moaned and fell onto his chest, as Micael clasped the ends of his hair and tore back. The angel's back bent toward him and he kicked upward, tossing Azrael over him.

His friend was hurt badly now. He shook as he forced himself onto his front. Micael thought he had him, as he snapped back his sword. But Azrael's sword met his.

The next thing he knew, he was flat on his back with Azrael straddling his chest. He fought back and pushed the angel back over. They continued their wrestling match for a while, neither being able to pin the other long enough for a stab. Though, they were managing to cut each other up with their swords and their robes were tattered messes.

Finally, Azrael got Micael down and cracked his head on the ground. Micael gave a low sound as his eyes fluttered. Azrael panted and brought down his sword. It stopped just at Micael's skin. His friend was too disoriented to feel the prick of the blade. He moaned and lulled back his head.


Azrael choked on the hilt. This was it, his chance to claim the title that would grant him ultimate respect. The Elders would be forced to see him as their equal. He would be a legend.

He looked down at the groggy angel under his blade. Micael had lost fair and square. He wouldn't be bitter with him.

Then, he heard the anguished word rise from Micael's cries. "...no..." Micael clawed for his sword and raised it in his trembling arm. "...have to...win..."

All of Azrael's dreams left him in that second, overpowered by the strongest dream of them all.

Make Micael happy. Micael had saved him. He'd changed everything when he wandered into that maze. He had given Azrael the chance he'd never even chanced to believe. If he could give just a piece of that back to him, that would be worth his own redemption, wouldn't it? If he could ensure that dream... The angel saw the sword surge toward him. He had plenty of time to move. He didn't. He couldn't. Micael needed this more.

Energy tore through his shoulder, and he jerked back in pain. Awakened by his scream, Micael flipped Azrael's sword from his chest, turning it on the angel and stabbing it halfway into his chest.

Their eyes met, and Micael held the glance as he pushed the blade the rest of the way in. Using all his strength to push it, Micael collapsed against Azrael, hand still stuck to the hilt.

Azrael took a shaky gasp and wrapped an arm around Micael. He could get away with it. The Elders would think it had been instinct. He pulled Micael into him as he fell back.

Shock was taking over his body with increasing speed, and he knew that he wouldn't be able to resist its power much longer. He turned Micael's head toward him.

"You...win..." he coughed, blood pooling at the edge of his mouth. His eyes shut. "Seize...your...dream."

Micael's head started to clear, as Azrael grew limp underneath him. Feeling his breath turn erratic, he pulled the sword from Azrael with a wet noise. He held it up and looked back at the Elders. Azrael's blood swirled down the blade, mixing with the others who had fallen before Micael.

"We have the new general of the Second Legion," Michael announced. Micael gasped at the expression on his face. Michael was smiling. Really smiling at him.

Bursting with joy, he undid the clasp that held his cross on his neck. He kneeled on the ground and brought Azrael against his shoulder. Showing the cross to the Elders, he brought it around the angel's bruised throat. He raised it so it rested in the hollow and faced the Elders once more.

"General Micael chooses the angel Azrael as his lieutenant," he said as loud as he could while fastening the chain. The Elders nodded their understanding. Micael smiled and lifted Azrael from the ground as he lowered his face to his dirty hair. "You're the only one I ever want beside me, Azrael. You know that, don't you?"

Michael looked at his son before flying down beside him. He moved toward Micael. "The new lieutenant should be woken before the rest. He and the general are supposed to stand together at the ceremony. Gabriel needs to give his blessing."

Micael's mouth dropped as he handed his friend to Michael.

"The other top contestants, Rafael and Belial will be recovered soon afterward." He gave his son a look that spoke of gentle reproaching. "Don't you think you should clean yourself up beforehand, Micael?"

Jophiel arrived to take Micael. The archangel remained holding the prone Azrael. He set his on the side of Azrael's face.

"I saw what you did, Azrael. You gave my son his wish. But are you so sure that this will make Micael happy?" He sighed in regret. "All these years and you still know nothing. You really are the strangest angel I have ever met. Even stranger than your brother. You have granted Micael his destiny. Now, we'll wait and see where such a destiny will take you."

He caressed Azrael's skin tenderly. Then he moved his hand down to Azrael's throat and fingered the cross that Azrael had given to him. Their family heirloom. He saw Gabriel coming over to him, looking anxious about the burden Michael held. Michael let the cross fall from his fingers again and walked out of the ring.