-Let the rain fall
Let the flowers die
All you can't do
Is let me ask why-

…I remember waking up.

It was dark this time. It was dark and I was hot and I could feel the sticky warmth of a pool of blood congealing underneath me. I also remember there were voices, speaking low so as not to wake me.

"Oh, look," said the first voice. "The little angel's awake."

"I told you she wouldn't stay down long." I remember this second voice was almost melancholy—it was Chaos.

"Over here, little angel. We're over here."

And I struggled to sit up, pushing myself up with trembling arms. As my eyes got used to the flickering darkness, I found the two figures. Chaos was sitting there, looking different than I'd last seen him. He was wearing a green tee shirt, and his black hair and beard were both dark brown now. Standing beside him, leaning against the wall, was a smiling man. He had blonde hair and several days' worth of stubble. He was wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans.

He also had little horns poking out of his hair and a gently swishing tail.

Jesus on a stick.

Lucifer was wearing blue jeans.

I remember distinctly that I was in the middle of groan when my arms slipped and I fell back, hitting my head on whatever I was lying down on. Stone, I think. Maybe dirt. For the record, I'll just say stony dirt. And I screamed as my broken wings were crushed underneath me again. Lucifer stood there, laughing. I could hear him taunting me, laughing at me, asking me if I knew why I'd fallen, but it was distant. What was closest to me was my own screaming as fragile bone snapped and crumbled.

But if I remember nothing else—if I ever find oblivion—I will remember his laughing. He was laughing because I had fallen, laughing because I had no choice, laughing because he'd put me there.

I remember that Lucifer walked away after a while, holding his stomach and still laughing to himself. Chaos lingered there, his eyes huge and sad. I knew he was sorry for me and I hated him for it; I hated him, I hated Lucifer for laughing, I hated this place, I hated myself for falling. But after a while, I couldn't see Chaos' big, sad eyes anymore. I couldn't hear my own screams because I'd screamed myself hoarse. I writhed in agony, unable to move enough to shift my weight from my bloodied, broken wings. I finally passed out.

When I woke up, Chaos was gone and I was alone. I remember that as I felt the blood still pooled beneath me, I knew this was real. I was in Hell.

-I fell before history
And was erased from time
My body and my pride
Are all that's left that's mine-

…I remember that the next time I woke up it was to arguing. I recognized Lucifer's voice from the last time I'd been awake, but the other voice was new to me. It was a woman with a soothing, firm voice that was almost melodious. I never really heard what they were arguing about. Their conversation stopped when I unconsciously whimpered.

A moment later, the woman was leaning over me, inspecting me as though I were a new car. You never know with those demon types. Her hair was very long and pulled back away from her face, but it flopped forward over her shoulder and brushed my arm. She had delicate, porcelain features; long, pointed ears; and horns jutting from the top of her head. Unlike Lucifer's, the points of hers were coated in what I think was blood. What startled me into sucking in my breath were her eyes. Almond shaped and long-lashed, her irises and pupils, instead of being round, were two slashes across her eyes. I remember her eyes bothering me.

I guess she was surprised by my being alive. She drew up suddenly, looking vaguely amused. She looked from me, to Lucifer, and back to me again. I remember her finally saying, "New pet, Lucifer?" I protested while Lucifer laughed. He walked over and I know that's when I decided I didn't like his eyes, either.

The touch of his fingers along my shoulder was cold. "Angels are so easy to manipulate," he said. "They practically gave her to me." And now I was colder. I watched him murmur something into her ear and her laughing as he walked away.

So we were left alone, this demon woman and me. She was still looking at me, a small smile hovering on her face. I was shivering now, shaking so hard that I felt my bones rattle. "What?" I spat.

She smiled serenely back at me. "What's your name, pet?"

I remember wanting very badly not to tell her, but her voice was so honey-smooth. Maybe if I told her, she'd want Redemption and let me go. "The Redem—my name is Redemption."

She laughed.

So maybe not.

"I've heard of you!" she said. "You took over when Metatron couldn't take it. They say you're not someone to piss off." I remember how she suppressed laughter. "They said, anyway." She looked me over again. "Can you move?"

I gave her the silent treatment. I thought since it worked on Sidya it would work on this demoness, but it only made her laugh again. "Poor little angel!" she cooed. "It must hurt." She casually plucked a feather from my wings, eliciting what I'm thinking was a much-desired shriek. "You can't move and your wings are broken." She brushed the feather from her fingers. "And your wings seem to be shedding."

Pulling back from me, she spread her own wings. I remember being unable to pull my eyes away. They were bat-like, but not like Aida's were bat-like. Hers were more like something Batman might have. The bone-supported places were black, and the leathery cartilage was a deep blood red. She unfolded them easily, comfortable in the way they dwarfed her. Her words after that haunted me for a long time.

"Let the feathers fall, pet. You're going to have enough of a time trying to keep your pride without trying to keep those pretty wings."

I hissed at her. This time she didn't laugh. She drew very close to my face, speaking carefully. "Trust me on this one, pet. When you've fallen from the graces of God, pride is all you have left." She drew back again and regarded me, serious this time. "But maybe…maybe…" Her voice had grown quiet and her eyes swept down the length of me. Her strange slanted eyes were sad now. "Maybe you should keep your wings, pet. Pride walks hand in hand with sanity, and that's one thing you'll lose quickly when Lucifer starts working on you. Maybe you should just descend into his bloody embrace in glory, in feathered beauty." She folded her arms and shifted her weight. She was silent for a while, letting me process what she'd said. It took me a while. My brain started hurting.

After a while, the demoness made a disgusted sound. "Your God is a fool," she snapped, but I don't think she was really talking to me. "He doesn't care who He hurts. He was willing to cast down you and your friends—" Here I got interested again. "So that Lucifer would try and ensure your roles are minimized." She laughed bitterly and without humor. "Because Lucifer is ever so good about keeping his promises." She sighed and turned from me.

My curiosity knew no limits at that point. I wanted to know everything she knew about the others, everything about her. "Did He hurt you, too?" I asked after her.

She didn't turn to look at me, but I already knew the answer. "Your God," she said quietly, "Is a God who believes in Redemption—or He used to. But He never believed in me. He never gave me another chance. He never so much as cared." She curled her wings in front of her like a shield, like a blanket. How many times had I seen Aida do that, so that we wouldn't see her cry?

As the demoness stalked off, I lay in pain and thought about things. She'd pretty much promised me that Lucifer had some nasty plans for me, an angel with the power to kill, and that no matter what I did, I wouldn't come out all right. But I remember, lying there in the dim light, that I was more awed by the demoness herself.

The demoness was Lilith, the Demon Queen.

-No time to scream
Insanity here
Left alone to dream
Left alone to fear-

…I remember losing every sense of time. Days may have passed, but I'd been lost to infinity. I remember counting minutes that stretched eons. I was left alone during that timeless time. The time most conducive to thinking, when one is left in solitude and quiet, is most definitely the worst time. I know what I thought then. I thought strange things, dark things, but most of all, I thought of my wings.

I remember dwelling on the fissures in the bones, slowly shifting my weight to rest on each joint so I would learn where I'd been broken. I would turn my back to the stale air, letting the dry breaths of air blow through my feathers, and I would discover which feathers had fallen out, or had been plucked out by a demoness. I would lie on my stomach and slowly move my wings through the pain, never daring to flap them outright. My bones and muscles would scream in agony but I would force them anyway. I can never remember which poet I'm ripping off, but I refused to go gently into that good night.

And during all the time that I can't account for, I remember realizing one thing above all else.

My wings were changing.

I could feel it in the way the feathers fell from flesh that was no longer there. I felt the flesh at the bottom of my wings peel away in dry strips until all that was left was bone. The harder, shorter feathers at the tops of my wings soon drifted down to my shoulders. The skin up there coated muscle and bone and did not fall away. I remember that my wings stopped feeling cold—the bone merely was, and the leathery skin that was left had become numb.

I had demon's wings.

And I remember that sometime after in that time without time, Lucifer came for me.

When Lucifer came for me, I remember time starting abruptly again. And by abruptly, I do mean abruptly. One minute I was alone; the next, Lucifer was wrenching me up by my wrist and dragging me through badly lit caverns that smelled faintly of blood. I dimly recall protesting. I think that at the time I thought that it would help.

Lucifer pushed me ahead of him and I stumbled forward, squinting in ridiculously bright light. As my eyes adjusted, I realized that I was in an arena, or a training ring, or something to that effect. It looked disturbingly like a gym. It was probably the craggy stone walls and the lack of perky, petite blondes who looked infinitely better than me that assured me I was still in Hell. That or the devil sitting on my shoulder. I am, of course, speaking figuratively.

"If you're going to be of any use to me, you're going to learn to fly again." He… sounded bored.

"But my wings are broken, Lucifer you—"

I felt his fist connect with my jaw and I fell heavily to the ground. "You will not call me by my name," he said to me. "Call me master. I'll settle for sir. And besides—you can fly with broken wings." I dragged my eyes from his face to his wings. It looked like they'd never really healed after his fall. They bent at an awkward angle, and most of the joints looked fused together, as if by some immense heat.

He kicked me in the side. I remember how afraid I was as I shakily stood up. I was terrified of his wings, terrified that mine would be that way too. Lucifer's wings were broken, the joints all fused, and he couldn't even fold them back. But what I remember most was that I was scared he was going to hit me again, that I would break and he would just keep hitting me. I felt…fragile.

Under the bored glare of Lucifer, I learned to flap my wings. If I gave any sign of pain or slowing down, Lucifer's foot or fist would fly out at me, knocking me down again.

We stopped, and I was led back to my dark prison. He came and got me regularly, and the routine, at least like I remember, was always the same. I would slowly work feeling and strength back into part of my body while Lucifer stood ready to beat me.

As time passed, Lucifer stopped coming, and a demon I did not know replaced him. The demon changed regularly. I knew no one's name and no one seemed to care for mine. Old bruises were relished and open wounds never got the chance to heal. And once—once—Chaos was there to build me, to torment me. I don't remember if I even knew his name; the demons all began to blend together.

Oh, I recognized him. But this time, when he picked up from the ground, there was no pity in his eyes. He seemed almost disgusted. I remember I looked at him the way I looked at anything I saw: with a mixture of fear and hatred.

I remember that he watched more than he hit. And I remember thinking that maybe it was all right to trust Chaos. But when my strength gave out and I fell back to the ground, shaking, he was no different that the others. As he stepped towards me, looking at me like I was nothing, I tried to scramble away. That was different, I know. I'd always either been caught by surprise or taken the abuse. What did it matter anyway?

But this mattered. He wasn't supposed to hit me! He'd had such sad eyes. I remember those eyes! Black or brown, they were always so full of pity. Why didn't he pity me now? I don't even remember if he punched me or kicked me, or where he even hit me. But I remember looking up at him, my eyes so full of fear that he took a step back.

I had lost all my dignity, all my pride. Lilith's words nagged at me, but I could no longer remember.

-Not pure
Not innocent at all
For my sickness, no cure
No wings to soften my fall-

…I remember that just after Chaos stripped away the last of my dignity, Lucifer came back. I remember how I was sitting: I was cowering, actually, on the ground by the stone bier where I'd first woken up and found myself in Hell. And Lucifer came, towering over me, a picture of dark majesty.

He wrenched me up and dragged me close, smiling evilly at me. "You're done training," he informed me. "Time to get started."

I don't think I replied in anything resembling a sentence. A whimper, maybe. A sentence, no. He snickered. "You're still in all black," he observed. "Can you change to red?"

There was a reason Lucifer wanted me in his fold. Or as his minion. I've never really been clear which I was at that point. Before I fell, I had multiple personalities to carry out my different jobs as the Redemption Angel. Redemption, all in black, saved people; Downfall, the red one, did the killing; Catalyst carried messages from Heaven, Earth, and Hell; while Angel mostly…was a prissy snot.

And at that point, I realized. Lucifer wanted Downfall. Lucifer wanted me to kill.

I tried moving away, but his grip tightened on my wrist and he began twisting my arm. Before I knew what I was doing, I'd become Downfall. The killing angel.

No, that's not right. Downfall. The killing fallen.

Does that even make sense?

Still clenching my wrist with one hand, he called a sword to his other. It was very, very big. And suspiciously demonic looking. It was longer than any normal sword, with two hilts on the damn thing. In case I had four arms. Lucifer thrust it into my hand and let go of my wrist as the sword's twin came to my free hand.

"Cocytus," he said, gesturing to the sword in my right hand. "And Phlegethon."

Even then, I remember I did not like the sound of that. Two rivers of ancient Hades…Cocytus, River of Lamentation; Phlegethon, River of Fire. And I held them in my hands. Great.

He grabbed my wrist again, briefly, and then moved towards the exit. "We're going to see just how strong you are. Come!"

Lucifer led me through winding tunnels and dark caverns, muttering absently to himself when we occasionally came upon doors that led to nowhere. He didn't tell me where we were going, or to what, but I didn't ask. When we stepped out of a cavern and into the middle of a suburban neighborhood, I didn't ask—nor did I flinch in the sunlight.

Time passed. That was about all that happened while we waited. I saw a squirrel and Lucifer made a face at it, but otherwise, time just passed. We stood in the middle of the street, and for some reason that wasn't strange. The houses all seemed empty and no cars came past.

Maybe an hour or so after the squirrel incident, a woman turned the corner and came walking down the street toward us. I watched her as she came towards us, and my heart froze. I remember everything about her. Not what she wore, or the color of her hair, but about her.

Mary Paulette Camden. Thirty-two years old.

Married mother of two young children.

Molecular biologist. In less than a decade would develop an effective vaccine for the HIV virus.

As an angel, I would have seen her, known all of this, and analyzed what the threat to her—and her discovery—was. As a fallen angel, I knew the threat.

It was me.

Where was I to save her? Standing opposite her, dressed in scarlet and blood, holding Cocytus and Phlegethon.

I remember knowing—with a stab of jealousy—that she did have someone from Heaven watching her. The street was quiet, the houses empty, all for her. Her guardian angel was working feverishly to bring out the hunter. Why would she have some Redeeming her if I'd fallen for being Redemption?

I heard Lucifer shift behind me. "Kill her."

I remember those words, so hauntingly quiet, like he had carved them into my brain. Not because I was killing, not because I was a fallen angel—

Because I listened.

I held Cocytus and Phlegethon and strode over to Mary Paulette Camden, making sure she would know damn well just what killed her. Before I got there, her guardian showed himself. Some angel I didn't know with big, fluffy, white wings. I knocked him aside before he knew who I was.

I remember Mary Paulette Camden tried to beat me back with a neat kick.

I remember Mary Paulette Camden made no noise as two swords exploded through her back. I remember the blood glistening in the sunlight. The street was still and quiet.

I remember sliding my swords out of Mary Paulette Camden, wiping the blood from their twisted blades on the neatly trimmed suburban grass, turning and walking back to Lucifer. I had killed her. A woman I should have saved. Her children were very young and her blood glistened on the asphalt and the grass.

And for all that, I was just glad that Lucifer did not hit me again as we traveled back to Hell.

-I know that grey is the color of the world,
But I keep my vision of black and white—
The rules are broken, the sides are crossed,
And though I pretend, I cannot make this right-

…I think it was somewhere between my first kill and the second when I next encountered Lilith. After I killed that woman, Lucifer allowed me a little freedom. I couldn't leave Hell—I didn't know the way—but I could wander around a bit, and nobody wrenched me around the place by my wrist.

To be honest, I found her cave by accident. I was doing my best to avoid the bigger caves. Those were usually somebody's home…or nest…and I did not come across a single demon that was happy to see me in their home. After a long time of fruitless wandering, I was ready to turn around and wander in the other direction until I came to what I was thinking of as my cave. But her cave seemed very big, and besides that, it smelled good. A typical demon's cave smells of blood, meat, and smoke, and sometimes liquor and urine. This one smelled of fresh air, lilacs and rain. I remember wondering distantly if it was the way outside.

I entered the cave and announced myself to anyone who was there, hoping I wasn't calling to empty air. That would be embarrassing. Lilith's appearing from the depths of the cave may have been worse.

"Pet!" I remember how astonished she sounded. "You're alive! And upright."

"One of the two," I said softly. For reasons that escaped me then, she didn't seem surprised by that answer.

"Come with me," she said, taking my hand lightly. "I have cookies."

We went down into Lilith's cave, and the scent of rain and lilacs changed into something heavy and smelling of cinnamon. We passed through several rooms. I won't describe them; they're Lilith's, not mine. But we came to what served as her living room and she sat down, gesturing for me to do so as well. It was all made of stone, but she had a single bouquet of white flowers on a table. The bouquet actually brightened the place up. I was very surprised. Sitting next to the white flowers was a plate of warm cookies. Lilith offered me one. Um. They were very good, and I was very confused.

"What has Lucifer been doing to you?" she asked, looking contemplatively at a cookie in her hands. I told her and she listened, nibbling at her cookie. "He gave you Cocytus and Phlegethon? Ick. I never liked those. Very big. Kind of Freudian, too."

"Lilith," I said softly, trying to take the conversation away from me. "Why are you here?" She looked at me and said nothing. Confused, I guess. "You're…so…you're so different from Lucifer. You're not hitting me."

She looked evenly at me for a moment, then nodded. "Man and woman He created them," she said, looking off past me. "That's what we're told, at first, in the Bible. But later, man is around for a while before woman is ever created. But it says—man and woman He created them. Not, man He created him, then woman He created her—but them." She smiled nastily. "As one and yet separate, He created us—Adam and me. And long after Adam called me his wife, God made Eve."

"But what—" I began.

Her gaze snapped back to me, and her smile turned soft. "I'm getting there, pet. The difference between Lucifer and I is our crimes." She stopped for a moment, and I saw her fingers tighten around her cookie as she looked away from me again. "God had no plan for Adam, but He sure as Hell had one for me. 'Listen to Adam, Lilith, He will know best what to do.' Help Adam, soothe Adam, lose everything you can't name within you to Adam!" The cookie snapped. She looked back at me. "But I couldn't, do you see, pet? He'd made me as whole as Adam but expected me to only be half of myself. He'd never have asked that of Adam—it would have been impossible! But He wanted it of me. So I fled, and found a cave east of Eden. Nothing grew outside the garden." She paused, trying to decided how to tell her story. I'd become so wrapped up in it by then that I'd forgotten my question. "There are different kinds of demons. Shades would be the general name for demons that do not look like humans; devils are the demons under Lucifer, who look human; and the lilin are my children, the winged human-demons. My children came from my union with the demon Asmodeus. I went from human wife to demon salmon." I recall it taking me a few minutes to understand the joke. Then she made a sound like 'piffle.'

"Pet—what happened next sounds like a joke. God sent three angels named Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangeloff to retrieve me. They came to my cave yelling and I was yelling right back, telling them that I'd be willing to compromise. I couldn't hear them over themselves, over me. It was thundering. God is a drama queen. When I stopped screaming, I heard Sansenoy: '…we will kill one hundred of your children!' What could I do, pet? They were foul, winged things, but still my children. I tried to send the angels away, but…they did it. They killed one hundred of my children right there. And Semangeloff said, I remember what he said: 'If you had only come back to Eden, they would not have had to die!' And pet, I stared at them. I didn't believe them at first. But it was then that I sent them off and told God I would not speak to Him again."

I watched her. Her face was calm, but her cookie had been reduced to cookie dust all over her lap. "I would have gone back," she whispered. "My crime was that I made a single mistake. It was not my leaving that so offended God, or even my refusal to come back. I so much believed that He hated me for fleeing His perfect garden, for not doing His will, that I would not even give those horrible angels a chance. I did not know an ever-loving God, as the world came to know. I was the first being to ever go against His will. Why shouldn't I have been afraid? And because I was afraid of Him, He lost me."

She buried her face in her hands. When she looked up again, she said, "That was my sin. My sin was being what He created me to be, and being afraid. I fell from Eden forever because I was the first. If any other being had ever committed my crimes, He would have welcomed them back, gone to them immediately to console them. Not me. But Lucifer—Lucifer tried to defeat God. He tried to become God. He would have, too, except that God is all-powerful. That's the definition of God."

She sighed and spoke in a tired, quiet voice. "Pet…I became the Queen of Hell because that was all I had to turn to. There was either goodness, Adam and his goodness, or evil, which I became. But Lucifer—Lucifer probably could have made himself into a king of man. But he chose to rebel and fall. He chose to be evil despite his myriad of choices. That is why he is…he, and I am me."

We were quiet for a while as Lilith brushed the cookie crumbs from her lap. I was shaken by what she'd said. She was evil without being evil.

"Lonely, pet?"

I looked up from my cookie, very startled. "Um?"

"I can see it," she informed me, standing up suddenly and settling back down next to me. "I can see it as we speak. You're losing everything to Lucifer—your pride, your wings, your compassion. You're losing it all and it won't be long until you don't even know your own name. You're suffering all of Hell alone."

"What should I do?" I snapped back, suddenly very unhappy with my cookie. And the conversation. More the conversation than the cookie, to be honest. The cookies were quite good.

"Why should you suffer as Lucifer strips you down to the bare bones?" she snapped back at me. "You—and every other bloody fallen angel before you—act like you're Atlas! Is the world really on your shoulders, pet? Are you the last martyr in Heaven?"

She stood up again and moved towards the door we came in from. She looked me in the eye when she spoke next. "You're not the first to fall, pet."

I remember suddenly being unable to finish my cookie. "I think I should go," I said. She just looked at me before saying, "Don't let him destroy you, pet."

That was about when Lucifer showed up. Lilith sighed. "Yours is always the first face I want to see after I eat cookies."

He scowled at her, but turned to talk to me. "Hurry up. I have more for you to do." He was striding out of Lilith's cave before I could react.

Lilith looked at me but said nothing. I opened my mouth to speak, but I didn't say anything. I ran to followed Lucifer.

I killed again that day. And I killed again. Soon, their faces melted away in my brain and their screams were faded even as they died, impaled on rivers of lament and fire.

And though Lilith had warned against it, I let Lucifer destroy me.

I became a demon.

-smile down upon the ashes
of my pathetic remains
the poor fallen angel
satan could not train -

…With time, the killing stopped mattering. Lucifer would order me and within the day I would have blood on Cocytus and Phlegethon. I don't remember anything about those killings; all I know is that they were mine. I remember one, and only because of the look in the kid's eye as he died.

YOU BETRAYED ME!

Sure, kid. If I saved him once, I didn't know it.

But even though I was killing like a demon—even though I was a demon!—I was still pretty low as far as Hell goes. I was fair game for any demons I came across. Top-side, I was the wielder of the swords of tragedy and infernal fire, a saint-killer; down below, I was scrambling away from fights I didn't start and cowering in my cave. I couldn't be everything, and so I settled for nothing.

I don't remember much of the details then. I do remember going constantly from riding the high of a kill to running like all hell when in hell. And I also remember when Hell started to change. While Hell had always been crawling with demons, it suddenly seemed a lot fuller, I remember. Higher-level demons—children of Lilith—were returning home suddenly.

And they treated me a lot better than the other demons.

I remember trying to get in to see Lilith one day, but a swarm of vampires were already crowded around the entrance to her cave. I panicked seeing so many demons, but one saw me before I could run. "So you're Lucifer's newest prize!" he said, clapping a hand on my shoulder and eyeing my neck. Then my breasts, and then my neck again. I stood there, waiting for my beating, my degradation. It didn't come. Soon the vampire was gone, and I was ignored, but…

He'd treated me like I was worth time and some level of respect. I wasn't even annoyed at being called a prize. And I remember very clearly my heart swelling with pride, a feeling that I hadn't known since before the fall. Other demons were starting to accept me.

The next time I went to Lilith's cave was as much to see her as it was for one of children to see me and give me a fascinated grin. But when I got there, groups of demons stood outside the entrance, muttering agitatedly. I wasn't sure what was going on until Lilith and Lucifer came out of the cave. I remember they were both screaming and by the sound of it had been screaming for quite some time.

"What do I care?" Lilith yelled.

"You care because I care!" Lucifer was furious. "Whose domain do you live in? Whose?"

"And who was here first?"

"You will fight! And you will command your…your little toy soldiers. I want a massacre!"

"They're only mortals."

"But they're damn powerful!"

They must have continued on like that for a few more minutes. When they had nothing left to say, they just glared at each other. I saw Lilith flexing her wings and clenching her fists. Her eyes swept over all the crowd of demons…

…and locked on mine.

"Fine," she spat, still looking at me. "I'll fight for you, Ben-Shachar. I have no pride anyway—why not wage your battles for you?" She looked away from me. Lucifer must have said something to her, but I stopped hearing. What was she doing?

What had happened to me?

I stood there for a while longer. When the crowd started to thin, I turned and bolted for my cave. I was shaking and didn't know just what the hell was wrong with me. When I got back to my cave, wanting only to curl up in a corner and let the shaking pass, Lilith was already there.

What the hell. I believed I screamed.

She was leaning against the stone slab I'd been laid on after falling, and she looked furious. "We're fighting in the morning," she said snappily. "Lucifer made an order of holy demon hunters a little angry. Violated their church or something. I don't know. Be ready to fight." Her eyes went from me to my swords, and she walked over to pick up Cocytus. She swung it a few times, snorted, and dropped it. "You're disappointing."

"What?"

"I thought you were different. You're not. Disappointing." She gave me one last glare and left. When Lilith was gone, I realized that the shaking hadn't stopped. I curled up next to Cocytus and Phlegethon to wait for morning.

-Can Redemption be Redeemed
By the Mother demon's Heart?
Can Chaos be retrieved
From what's Chaos at the Start?-

…I'd always thought that grand-scale battles between the forces of good and evil didn't actually happen. I was proof that they typically happened between individuals. Well, I was wrong. Lucifer had organized a real battle, calling in his most powerful demons for the fight. All the fallen angels, myself and Chaos included, were gathered to Lucifer's side to lead the charge. Lilith stood right next to Lucifer, and they stood, waiting, the two leaders of all evil.

I remember that we were in an open field; for the life of me I couldn't think of where we were. But when the demon hunters arrived, it didn't matter. All that mattered was drenching my swords in blood, proving that I could kill like anyone else.

While we all waited, I remember Lucifer hurling taunts at the demon hunters, graphically explaining their downfall and subsequent descent into Purgatory. I remember what he said: "Fighting with me is signing your name in blood!"

The demon hunters laughed and somewhere there in the show of manliness, the fighting began. I moved forward with the other fallen angels, seeing nothing but my mortal targets. I don't remember much after that; the screaming and the glint of blood on my blades was nothing I wasn't used to.

But I remember when everything changed.

I rammed my swords into one demon hunter and he fell backwards with a grunt. I was about to utter some wonderfully triumphant piece of blasphemy to God when he looked up at. He was smiling as he gurgled and choked. "How art thou fallen from heaven, o day-star, daughter of the morning!"

I started screaming at him. "No! No! I'm not Lucifer! I'm not like him! I'm not!" I stabbed him again, but he was already dead. "I'm not like him!" I leapt backwards, suddenly terrified and aware. I was every bit like Lucifer. I wasn't when I fell, but I was now.

I felt my palms burning. I'm thinking Cocytus and Phlegethon didn't like the sudden change of heart. I threw them from my hands with a shriek. Suddenly I felt small and empty, like my heart and stomach were just…gone.

That was about when Lucifer came up to me. In the middle of a raging battle, no less. He was not happy.

"What are you doing?"

I whirled around to face him, but I had nothing to say. I didn't even know. "Disgusting," he said before running me straight through.

I remember falling to the ground. I remember seeing Lucifer above me, looking satisfied. I know I was on my side, I could see one of my wings. My blood had splattered over it, making a grim design across the hard white feathers.

White…

I remember knowing I was fading. If my wings were turning white, I had very little time left. By the time my black irises faded to grey, I'd be gone.

I remember sudden sharp sensations of pain, and I remember my screaming. I felt a few bloody feathers float down to my face before I looked up and tried to focus. I remember that Lucifer stood above me again, grinning widely.

He held my bloody wings in his hands.

He'd ripped out my wings, pulled the very bones from my back, leaving two bloody gashes down my shoulder blades.

I remember the agony, the distant sounds of battle. Waves of pain, coming straight from my shoulders, crashed over me and I could barely think. But I do remember when Lilith was suddenly looming over me, the way her wings blocked out the sun, the way she looked at me like a part of her was dying with me. "Pet," she whispered, and suddenly turned away. I saw her in the air, looking down at the battle below.

When she returned, I remember the sun going away again.

Chaos was with her.

"Chaos," she said. "Take her to Heaven."

He and I both made sounds of confusion.

She looked down at me, then at him again. "Put your wings to use," she hissed. "She never deserved to fall. She should not die down her. Carry her back to Heaven, Chaos!"

I heard the words coming from my lips, though I don't remember ever thinking them. "Li…Lilith…why?"

I remember seeing her eyes as my vision began to blur. "If God will not redeem Redemption," she whispered. "Then there is no hope for me." She turned to Chaos. "I'll distract Lucifer. You take her."

"They'll kill me if I get anywhere near Heaven's gates," Chaos said, but it didn't sound like he was arguing. Lilith flapped her wings and was gone. The big, sad eyes of Chaos met mine one more time and I felt his arms underneath me as I went to greet the darkness.

And then it was dark again.

-The rain is falling
And the flowers are dying
The Eternal is calling
For his lost child crying-

…I remember waking up.

I remember that for long minutes, I didn't know where I was. It was too cold for Hell, too sweet for the bloody world I remembered being in.

I remember when I realized I was in Heaven.

I looked around, but nothing made sense. Chaos was not there, and I was alone. I don't remember the feeling I had when I realized I had wings—I had my big, black, feathery wings again—but I remember that it was strong.

When the four archangels entered, I remember only watching them. Gabriel, Michael, Uriel, Raphael…they had helped me to fall. But here they came, innocent and angelic. It makes sense. I was just angry that they didn't feel guilty.

"Welcome back," Michael said.

"No," I snapped back. "Don't welcome me back. What happened?"

"God welcomed you back into His grace," Uriel said.

"Not that! I'm here, I'm back, I get it. Why did I fall at all? Why did it happen?"

The archangels exchanged glances. Those four angels were the ones that stood around the throne of God. They didn't seem all that glorious to me. "You…fell for sins not your own." Gabriel said after a while.

He struggled to say it. It was hard for him to have me back in Heaven.

They were the reason I'd fallen.

Those pompous bastards made me fall!

I made an angry noise but didn't pursue the subject. There was no way I'd be learning anything about my fall from them. "Where are the other dark angels?" I asked instead. "I have to see them. I have to talk to them. I have to know they're okay."

"Redemption," Raphael said. "Rest now. You've been through much."

They left.

They'd made me fall.

And they hadn't brought the others back.

What was Heaven without them?

…What was I without them?