Title: Pencil Me In

Author: Calex

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Situations and characters belong to me.

Warnings: Fluff. Oh god, I'm so sorry, but so much stupid fluff.

Notes: OHAI, GOODBYE WRITING HIATUS. It's been over seven months (!!!) since I posted the last story which is just ridiculous and I thought I'd finally get off my ass about this and get it done. This was written for avalon13 and seems appropriate to post now. Sweetheart, I know it doesn't make things better, but I hope that it at least makes you smile. *hugs* I love you, Feefee. Title from John Mayer's Man On The Side.

Summary: Norbert, brother to Lucifer himself, is the most overworked demon in Hell, it seems. With a crush on Lucifer's right hand man and an ever increasing workload (not to mention an ever increasing list of ex assistants), it's a good thing Clive, Lucifer's head secretary is always available to give him a hand. But is work the only thing that Clive's interested in…?

Norbert looked distastefully at the pile of ash on his previously immaculate Aubusson carpet. That was his fifth assistant. This month. Damn it, he was going to need to replace the carpet again, and he hated doing that. Wall to wall Aubusson carpets were not cheap and younger brother of the Devil or not, he did not condone unnecessary expenditure. That was more Luce's department. One spendthrift brother was enough, thank you, and if it wasn't for Norbert's immaculate account keeping (and to be honest, his hiding of the majority of their building fortune), Luce would have caused them to go bankrupt long ago. Of course, they could always get more funds, it was easy, but that wasn't the point. It was the principle of it all.

Sighing, he prodded the tip of his perfectly polished hand stitched Italian leather loafers into the pile of ash before he rolled his eyes and walked back towards his desk, slipping onto his seat with barely a creak and pressing the intercom and dialling. After barely a moment, a low, dark, bored tone filled the vast expanse of his office. Not quite as big as Luce's but he wasn't quite as extravagant as his brother. Still, appearances had to be kept.

"Lucifer, Dark Lord of the Underworld's office, how may I help you?"

"Clive, could you come to my office?" Then as an after thought, he added: "And bring the carpet sample book."

"Again?" Clive asked, and his voice had warmed, amusement filling it. "Isn't that the fourth assistant this month?"

"Fifth," Norbert corrected, scowling at the mess soiling his once perfectly cream carpets. "And he's made a bit of a mess, so can you get someone to clean this up as well?"

"Already on it," Clive said promptly and Norbert once again railed at the unfairness of his layabout brother getting the only decent assistant in Hell, it seemed. Lucifer didn't even do any work, he was just sort of the figurehead, the object bringing terror to the residents of hell. No, it was always Norbert who did all the work and did that mean he got to have a decent assistant? No. They sent him idiots.

"Thank you. And could you get me – "

"Double shot of espresso, shot of whisky, twist of lemon, dash of baileys."

Norbert paused, then chuckled wryly. "Are you sure I can't tempt you away from my brother?"

"If you did, his records would be a level of Hell of its own," Clive pointed out, equally wry, and Norbert had to laugh at that. It was almost single handedly due to Clive's organizational skills that Lucifer looked like he was working at all, the most well known secret in the upper echelons of Hell's caretakers. Norbert knew that some of the demons joked that if they ever did manage to work together, they would be a true Unholy Alliance. Not that the idea didn't have any merit; he just didn't relish the thought of having to reassure his brother - again - that no, he absolutely didn't have any designs on Lucifer's position and yes, he's very sure about that. Lucifer can take all the fame; Norbert's actually quite content with his little slice of Hell. Although having Clive around to help him would make things much more palatable. His own workload was much, much, much heavier than Luce's.

"Are you okay?" Clive ventured, concerned, and Norbert realised with a jolt that he'd been silent for quite some time while he'd thought. Well, that was slightly embarrassing. He flushed, glad that Clive was not in his office with him and thus couldn't see his face, and cleared his throat slightly.

"Quite. Just a little bit annoyed that I'll have to look for another assistant. Again."

"You could try to keep them around a little longer," Clive replied, amusement lacing his tone once again. Norbert just rolled his eyes.

"It is completely through no fault of my own that all of them so far have been idiots."

"I didn't think Rafael was that bad."

"Rafael was an idiot," Norbert said, bluntly. "A pretty one, but an idiot nonetheless. He was almost as bad as Narcissus was, and I do not need another Narcissus."

"The first was bad enough," Clive agreed and though his tone was neutral, Norbert could hear the laughter in it as clear as day. "Lord Lucifer was most vexed when you ordered the mirrors to be taken away."

"I did not need reminders of Narcissus trying to molest his own reflection haunting me while I was working, thank you," Norbert shot back, primly, and Clive laughed, the sound warm and teasing.

"But to go so far as to have them removed from Lord Lucifer's private office and chambers?"

"It's not like he ever ventures into his office anyway," Norbert said, dismissively. "As for his chambers… well. He was the one who made me take on Narcissus in the first place. I've told him time and time again that giving one of his castoffs employment was not a good idea."

"He was attempting to be kind, I believe," Clive murmured, and Norbert just snorted.

"No, he just didn't want to get rid of the idiot himself. So I had to do the dirty work for him. Again. For the Lord of the Underworld, he's surprisingly squeamish about getting his hands dirty."

"It really isn't wise for you to speak so of him."

"He's my brother. I think that gives me licence to speak of him any way I damn well please, especially after all the things he puts me through. Least of all making me work here."

"Do you wish you could do something different?" Clive asked, tone suddenly quiet and serious. Norbert blinked at the sudden shift and he frowned. It occurred to him that it was probably inappropriate to be discussing such things with an employee, no matter how trusted Clive was. Norbert might not be the Lord of the Underworld, but he was his brother. Then he shrugged off the thought, because if he couldn't be candid with Clive, then who could he talk with? Clive had been working with them for centuries, outliving all of his predecessors. The position of Lucifer's personal assistant typically had as short a shelf life as his own did.

"Sometimes," Norbert admitted, after a long moment. "Sometimes I think about what else I could do, about what my life would be like but ultimately… well. There's no use thinking about it and it's not as though I am unhappy. I enjoy my work here, despite the frequent headaches it gives me. It's challenging and fulfilling and not many can say that."

Clive let out a soft sigh – almost relieved, though over what Norbert didn't know – and Norbert could hear the smile in his voice when he spoke.

"Well, I for one am glad that you think so." His tone turned teasing. "The concept of Lucifer running Hell on his own is a frightening one."

"Don't," Norbert said, shuddering. "You're going to give me nightmares." He smiled as he listened to Clive laugh. "We better get to work," Norbert added after a while, reluctant.

"I'll be in your office in a little bit," Clive said by way of agreement, and Norbert ended the call. Rolling his neck and hearing the cracks, he sighed. Back to work.

Norbert had a truly unfortunate crush on Abaddon, Lucifer's General and Second in Command. He couldn't quite explain why, but Lucifer would say that he had a… type. That type ran to big, buff men and Abaddon was certainly that. Still, type or not, his crush was completely inappropriate because as the person running Hell from behind the scenes and as Lucifer's younger brother, he had to see Abaddon quite often. And it was so very difficult to be authoritative and act like an employer when you were too busy drooling.

Clive – who was temporarily acting as his assistant while he looked for another – had taken to leaving a box of tissues on Norbert's desk with an indescribable look whenever Abaddon came by to deliver his weekly report.

Norbert had always been of the opinion that Clive was an impertinent ass.

That day, Abaddon was in his office yet again and so was the damnable box of tissues. Norbert very, very carefully didn't look at that, or the large amount of skin bared by the Demon. While Abaddon was delivering his report, Norbert discreetly lifted a hand to his mouth to make sure that he wasn't actually physically drooling. The last time that happened had been embarrassing enough, he was sure Abaddon thought that he was the biggest idiot around, by now.

Abaddon was saying something about headcount and banquets and virgin sacrifices when the intercom buzzed and Norbert shot the Demon an apologetic look as he activated the call.

"What is it? I'm in the middle of a meeting."

"Your three o'clock is here."

"My three o'clock?" Norbert asked, blankly. He wracked his brains; had he somehow forgotten another meeting? What with his increased workload after the first quarter, that was very much possible. So he sighed and nodded before he remembered that Clive wouldn't be able to see him.

"Send them in."

Shooting another apologetic smile to Abaddon as he stood, he offered the Demon his hand.

"I'm sorry, but we'll have to continue this at a later date."

"It's not important," Abaddon said, easily. "I was nearly finished. I can include it in my written report."

"Oh." Norbert had to fight not to let his face fall at that. As mind numbingly boring as the meetings inevitably were, he was glad of any time he could spend with Abaddon. Still, he was an adult, and a professional, so he squared his shoulders and shot the Demon what he hoped to be a charming smile. From the strange look Abaddon shot him, though, he'd probably fell a little short off the mark. "That would be wonderful, thank you. And thank you for the report."

"It is my duty and honour," Abaddon replied, pressing his fist to his chest and bowing slightly. His fur-lined caped fluttered over his almost completely bare body. Norbert was actually surprised that the Viking-influenced hat stayed in place; that must involve some clever bit of magic. Then he was gone with another flutter of the heavy cape, only his muscled calves visible in the leather wraparound sandals.

Barely a moment later, Clive bustled in with a mug of steaming coffee that he handed to Norbert wordlessly. Norbert accepted the mug with a thankful murmur, sipping as he looked at Clive expectantly.

"Who's my three o'clock? I confess I can't remember."

"No one," Clive said, with a shrug. "I just thought that maybe you needed extracting before I had to make excuses about leaked plumbing."

"Ha ha," Norbert said, sourly. His good mood abruptly plummeted and he went back to sit in his chair with a sulky look on his face. "I was actually working, thank you."

"You weren't hearing a word he was saying," Clive shot back. "The only reason he hasn't realised your feelings for him is because he's completely and utterly – "

"Clive!" Norbert snapped. "I don't see how this is your concern. You forget your place."

Clive jerked like he had been slapped, and his face went stony and blank. Norbert still caught the flash of hurt in his eyes before the walls slammed into place, though, and immediately felt bad especially as the scent of coffee wafted up to him. Perfect coffee, exactly the way he preferred it. Like always. "Clive – "

"No, you're quite right," Clive said, tone clipped. "I was out of line. Forgive me for my mistake, Lord Norbert."

"Clive," Norbert said again, on a sigh. Clive knew he hated to be called that. "I'm sorry I was so harsh."

"No need for apologies," Clive said, stiffly. "Enjoy your coffee. Your next meeting is in half an hour. That will give you some time to finish looking over the documents I gave you this morning. If you need anything, I'll be at my desk." With a sharp nod, he turned on his heel and walked away, closing the door behind him with a soft click.

Norbert groaned, putting his mug aside before he let his head fall to the surface of his monstrous table. Then he banged it a few times for good measure.

"I'm a terrible, terrible person," he muttered, resigned. He knew that he'd effectively ended the air of easy camaraderie that had existed between them since Clive started working for him as well. And Clive had been doing him a favour! If he was anyone else, Norbert was sure Clive would have found someone else to replace him as temporary assistant, but Clive was too honourable for that. He would see it through the end, no matter how much he disliked it. His dedication was one of the things that made him such a wonderful assistant.

Norbert hesitated for a moment, before groaning and picking up his phone. He dialled quickly from memory, and waited until it rang. And rang. And rang. He hung up with a muttered oath before he hit redial and finally on the seventh ring, the call went through.

"I have an assistant," his brother's smoke and silk voice drifted through the handset. "But apparently I don't, because he's with you."

"Luce," Norbert sighed. "Not now. You can bitch to me about stealing your assistant after you help me out."

"Oh?" Norbert could practically see Lucifer's perfectly arched eyebrow go up. "You need my help with something? I wasn't aware that I had scheduled an apocalypse today. Then again," he added pointedly. "I wouldn't know since you've absconded with my assistant."

"Lucy," Norbert hissed, completely mortified. "I have not absconded with your assistant. Clive is doing me a favour while I look for another assistant."

"What was wrong with Dante?"

"Dante was two assistants ago," Norbert sighed. "Please do pay attention."

"With the rate you go through assistants, is it any wonder that I'm out of date? Well, no matter. Refrain from calling me that heavens damned nickname and tell me what you want my help with. Maybe I'll consider your request then."

"You'd help me out anyway," Norbert snorted, because it was true. Whatever his reputation as a selfish, egotistical bastard, Lucifer could never deny Norbert whenever he needed a favour because Norbert so rarely asked for his help. Norbert sighed again. "I might have made Clive angry at me."

"Angry?" Lucifer sounded genuinely shocked, that was the problem. He honestly didn't mean anything by it., so Norbert couldn't even have that as an excuse to hit him. "You made Clive angry? At you? I didn't think that was possible, he's practically erected a shrine to your name."


"You know he's got an undeniable soft spot for you, Nory," Lucifer said, sounding so completely soothing and reasonable that Norbert wanted to punch him even as he felt flushed enough that he was surprised that he wasn't emitting smoke. "He's always so nice to you."

"Hellfire," Norbert groaned. "He's only nice to me because I'm not a complete and utter ass like you are. And I'm polite. And I treat him like a person and not a servant."

Lucifer made a noncommittal sound and Norbert just knew he was giving a little Gallic shrug at that. He rolled his eyes even as he fanned his hand desperately in front of his face, hoping the action would cool his cheeks.

"Ignore it if you want," Lucifer said, comfortably. "It doesn't really make a difference. Though I have to say, Nory, you're missing out – "

"No!" Norbert yelped. "We have had this discussion before and I reiterate: I do not want to know any details about your conquests." Then he paused. "Since when did you sleep with Clive?"

"Oh no," Lucifer said, tone smug. "You don't want any details about my conquests, right? I can't possibly go against your wishes."

"You go against my wishes all the time!"

"Norbert," Lucifer tsked. "It's not very polite to ask about someone's sexual prowess when they're not even there to defend themselves."

"… so he's got something to defend?"

"Nice try," Lucifer said, condescendingly and Norbert could just see his smirk. "But I will say this: if he wasn't such a good assistant, I wouldn't have let him out of my bed."

Norbert whimpered.

Lucifer's bright idea was flowers.

Norbert had protested that, at first. It wasn't like he was trying to court Clive, he was just trying to apologise. He'd thought that Lucifer would merely recommend him some sort of present, not flowers. When he'd said that, Lucifer had just shot him a pitying look and gave him the number of a florist.

He sent Clive a dozen cheerful sunflowers.

When Clive arrived at his desk – for once later than Norbert – he'd halted mid-step when he caught sight of the simple vase with the profusion of sunflowers. Then he'd continued on much more slowly, a wary look on his face. He'd extracted the card and when he read what was written, he'd simply stared. Stared for so long with an unreadable look on his face that Norbert had started fidgeting where he'd stopped at the doorway to his office, having walked there when he'd noticed Clive's approach.

Then Clive had lifted his head, shot Norbert a long, hard look – and his mouth curved. Norbert realised, faintly, that Clive's eyes crinkled at the sides when he smiled genuinely, widely. They crinkled and were so warm and he looked at Norbert in a way that had Norbert's stomach twisting in knots and made it a little hard for him to breathe.

Norbert figured that he might be a little bit in trouble.

He also figured that he had to wrangle more information out of Lucifer as soon as he got his breath back.


Sorry I was an ass.


Things should have gone back to normal, or at least as normal as it ever got in Hell. And to a certain extent, it did. He still had far too much work, Lucifer still had far too much of his work sent to Norbert and Clive was still a smart ass.

Except he was a smart ass with a great smile that he kept shooting at Norbert, every time their eyes met.

Which happened surprisingly often.

Norbert wasn't quite sure how, but it did and it was a problem. Because his breath still caught when he saw Clive smiling at him like that, and especially when he'd noticed that Clive smiled only at him like that. It was a little disconcerting and a lot… a lot nice, actually.

Lucifer had laughed so hard over what he'd called Norbert's "retarded possessiveness over a smile" that he'd fallen off his plush leather chair.

Norbert didn't feel at all bad when he'd ground his heel onto Lucifer's hand. By mistake, of course.

"Nory, I need you to work with Abaddon tomorrow," Lucifer said, strolling casually into Norbert's office. Norbert looked up with a harried glare, his normally perfectly coiffed hair all over the place. There were papers strewn all over his desk, and he'd even seen fit to loosen his tie and take off his jacket. It was not a good moment for Lucifer to be springing something else work related to him -

Wait a second.

Norbert's head shot up once more and he stared at his brother, wide eyed. Lucifer smirked at him. Norbert had to shake his head to clear away the last dredges of work that clung to his mind in an attempt to understand what Lucifer was saying. Then he did it again.

"You never need me to work with Abaddon," Norbert said, blankly. Then he sat up straight and narrowed his eyes. "So help me, Lucy, if it's because of your half-assed scheme to annoy Michael went haywire again, I'll – "

"Oh ye of little faith," Lucifer said, sadly. "What did I tell you about doubting my plans? I haven't been the Prince of Hell this long for nothing, you know."

"No, it's been due to sheer dumb luck, Clive and me," Norbert said, bluntly.

"… My charisma and natural leadership abilities count for something too, you know."

"Lucifer," Norbert growled. Lucifer rolled his eyes, waving his hand dismissively.

"There was this… minor problem with a skirmish I tried to incite."

"How of minor?"

"Well," Lucifer hedged. "It sort of blew out of proportion a little. So there's suddenly going to be a war and we've kind of got our work cut out for us and Abaddon's a brilliant tactician but he's a little… he's got his head in the clouds, otherwise."

Norbert had just started to claw over the other side of the table when there was knock on his door and Clive popped his head in, looking amused.

"I have to ask you to delay strangling your brother for a while," Clive said, tone bland but Norbert could see his lips twitching. "He's got a meeting with the Demon Lords in half an hour."

"That's my cue," Lucifer said, standing up quickly and brushing off his clothes in an attempt at seeming casual. "And Nory, make sure you give Abaddon your… full cooperation." With a little finger wave to a glaring Norbert and a suddenly frozen-in-place Clive, Lucifer strolled out just as casually as he'd strolled in.

Norbert let himself flop back in his seat, groaning. "Why am I related to that? Minor problem, he says. An unplanned war is not a minor problem. Does he not realize how much time and effort and planning goes into executing a profitable war? And he drops this on us when we're already up to our eyeballs in his work?" Norbert lifted his head to share a commiserating look with Clive, but stopped when he saw that the usually bland faced assistant was scowling. "Clive? Are you alright?"

Clive started, then turned to shoot Norbert a smile and Norbert knew that all was not right with him. After three weeks of being subject to Clive's warm, open smiles, he could now pick up when Clive didn't have his heart in it with frightening ease. He hid it well, Norbert had to admit, but there were just some things that he couldn't hide. His mouth was pinched, and his jaw hard and underneath the usual air of polite professionalism tempered with careful friendliness, Clive was upset. That hardly ever happened. Clive wasn't a robot as some had suggested, but he was extremely hard to ruffle and trouble. The things that did was usually bad. Sure, Lucifer's current problem was bad, but it was more the annoying kind of bad as opposed to truly astronomically problematic.

Somehow, though, Norbert knew it wasn't that. He was perceptive enough to understand at least that, though what Clive's actual problem was, he didn't know.

Norbert frowned, pushing away from his desk to get to Clive. The man didn't even notice, he seemed somewhat preoccupied in his own thoughts, and when Norbert placed a hand on his shoulder, Clive nearly jumped out of his skin. Norbert snatched his hand back hurriedly, eyes wide.

"Sorry, sorry, I just wanted to make sure you were alright."

"I'm fine, I'm sorry," Clive rushed in, looking surprised and still a little startled but more than that, he looked embarrassed. His cheeks were even starting to colour and Norbert had to remind himself very, very sternly not to stare. "You just startled me, that's all. I wasn't paying attention."

"Are you alright?" Norbert repeated and this time his voice was serious, brows drawn in concern. When Clive made as though to brush it off again, Norbert cut his hand through the air in a dismissive gesture. "No, honestly now. I know something's bothering you and I'd like you to tell me what that is. We… we are friends, aren't we?"

"Friends," Clive repeated, and his eyes flashed with something that had Norbert's stomach twisting. His voice was just so… it was soft, and a little flat, filled with some kind of emotion that Norbert couldn't name. Couldn't quite put his finger on. Clive's eyes were direct, heavy on his, unmoving. Norbert swallowed, before his head dipped in a nod.

Clive's lips curled, but it wasn't a nice smile. Norbert didn't think it could even be considered a smile at all, just so self-deprecating, a little bitter and angry and… and things he couldn't name. He wanted to touch Clive's shoulder, wanted to ask him what those looks meant, even if it was stupid, but before he could do anything more than take a step closer to Clive, the other man let out a breath and this time his smile was pleasant, kind, but there was this distance there that hadn't existed in a while. It made him feel a strange sort of tug in his gut, an ache.

"Well," Clive said, lightly. "Friend, I suppose we must get ready. Prepare a plan of attack and draw up a list of things to go over with Abaddon."

"Yes." Norbert watched Clive carefully as he straightened and pulled out a small leather bound notebook from his pocket and scribbled something in it. "Thank you."

"Not at all, it's what… friends are for."

There was something wrong. Norbert didn't know what it was, didn't know what the cause of it was. All he knew was that suddenly, Clive wouldn't meet his eyes anymore and for some reason, that bothered him. A lot. Not to say that he was failing his job, hardly that. Clive still performed his duties flawlessly, and he was always professional, polite, friendly even. But whenever they managed to catch each other's eyes – somehow so much more difficult than it had been just a while ago – Clive would immediately look away, or claim that he had something to do. Or gave Norbert something else to do. And they never spoke of anything but work.

It was driving him to distraction. He couldn't stop thinking about it, trying to figure it out. And while Clive's work remained perfect, his was suffering. He was obviously frazzled and his mind was always on Clive that he was not thinking about work. Which wasn't good, considering what Lucifer had dropped in their laps.

It got to the point that Abaddon had called a halt in the middle of their fourth strategy meeting, expression a mixture of impatience, curiousity and concern. By that point, he was undoubtedly used to Norbert's eccentricities (the ones that strangely only appeared when he was present, though he had never noticed that peculiarity) but even then, Norbert's behaviour was unusual. While he had occasionally seemed dazed and his head appearing to be in the clouds, whenever Abaddon had said something designed to see whether his attention was on the matter at hand, Norbert's answer had always been flawless. He'd always been on the mark. But now? Abaddon had had to call his names several times, upon occasion, before Norbert would take notice.

And brother of the Prince of Hell or not, Abaddon had work to do. He was Lord Lucifer's right hand man, and it was his duty to make sure that this war went as perfectly as the rest. After all, look at what happened when his predecessor had messed up: they'd ended up losing the Heavenly Wars and were kicked out of Heaven. Abaddon liked to believe that he wasn't as incompetent as the last twit.

So yes, it was of some concern to him when Lord Lucifer's normally calm, unflappable brother seemed so… disturbed.

"Are you alright, Lord Norbert," Abaddon asked finally, after finally snapping Norbert's attention away from his apparently troubling thoughts. Norbert's face went through a strange change: flushing, then going ashen and he looked truly ill with guilt.

"Forgive me," he murmured, finally, letting out a rare sigh as his shoulders slumped. His usually impeccable hair was ruffled and unbound, shirt unbuttoned halfway and tie discarded. Abaddon never realised that he had such fine, pale skin before. And his chest was absolutely smooth. The short white gold chain he wore drew attention to his slender neck, and the dark red elaborate, spiralling tattoo that disappeared into his hairline behind his ear. "I do apologise. I realise that my attention hasn't been where it needs to be these past few weeks."

"We have been working hard," Abaddon said, generously, and watched the pale, full lips curve into a wry smile.

"This is quite an inopportune time for a war," Norbert noted, and Abaddon merely shrugged. Such things couldn't be planned, sometimes. He stood, approaching the desk, watching as Norbert raised his brows at Abaddon's actions. "What are you doing?"

"If you would let me?" Abaddon offered, then slid behind Norbert's desk and placed his hands on Norbert's shoulders, pressing his thumbs into the nape of Norbert's neck. There was solid knot of tension there, and he ignored Norbert's jerk of surprise in favour of working it out. Norbert let out a startled sound, then his head dropped down and he made a deeper sound, close to a moan. The sound went straight to Abaddon's cock and he found himself involuntarily licking his lips as he pressed closer to the back of Norbert's chair.

"Oh, that's good," Norbert said, breathlessly. He let out another rough moan as Abaddon got another knot out, neck arching slightly, fingers digging into the polished mahogany of his desk. Really, the sounds he let out were delightfully enticing, and Abaddon thought that if there was someone who could resist, he probably had no working sexual organs. So it was really no fault of his own that he pulled away, spun Norbert's chair and dragged him to place him on the slightly more elevated surface of his desk. Norbert's eyes were wide, but before he could say anything, Abaddon had crushed their mouths together, fingers threading into his silky hair. Norbert made a gorgeously startled sound into Abaddon's mouth before he melted, one hand going up to clutch at Abaddon's shoulder.

Abaddon was quite pleased with it, feeding a satisfied growl into Norbert's mouth as the other man's nails dug in, pain just the right side of pleasure. He'd managed to get Norbert's shirt and trousers unbuttoned when Clive went in, face buried in his ever present notebook, not taking note of what was going on inside the office.

"Norbert, there's a slight change in your schedule. Your two o'clock had to be moved up half an hour, so you've only got – "

Clive froze as Norbert let out a startled sound, hand clenching on his book before he slowly raised his head. When he saw the scene, Norbert's clothes dishevelled and the two practically wrapped around each other, his face went completely and utterly white. His mouth pressed into a tight, thin line and for the first time in weeks, the expression on his face was completely easy to read. The hurt flashed, bright and sharp and startling, Clive's body actually shaking before the man took a deep breath and it was like watching him physically drag all his emotions inside and locking it behind a steel enforced wall. His face slowly and carefully became a perfectly blank mask and his voice, when he spoke, was calm and unreadable.

"I apologise for the interruption. The meeting is in an hour. If you need me, I'll be at my desk. Excuse me."

With a bow, he withdrew, shutting the door quietly behind him even as Norbert finally moved, shoving Abaddon away from him hard enough that the demon stumbled.

"Clive!" Norbert shouted, quickly doing up his buttons. "Wait, dammit, Clive!"

He yanked the door open, but it was too late by then. The reception to his office was completely empty, and the desk which Clive had occupied until then was absolutely, immaculately clean. Like Clive had never been there at all. Norbert's knees felt weak and he let himself sink down to the ground. He lifted a trembling hand to his mouth, feeling sick to his stomach. Abaddon approached him after a long minute, steps hesitant.

"I… apologise," he said, carefully. "If I'd known you two were like that, I wouldn't have – "

"It's not your fault," Norbert said, and he just sounded tired. "How could you know when even I didn't?"

"Oh?" Abaddon said, and his tone couldn't have relayed his confusion more. For some reason, it just made Norbert laugh. And laugh. He couldn't quite remember when the laughter turned into tears.

Well, he was thoroughly ashamed of that breakdown. In hindsight, he supposed the whole situation was rather hilarious, albeit tragically so. To have the person you had been in love with for centuries finally notice you and make a move, only to have someone walk in on you… and for you to realise that not only was the man you were making out with someone you were already completely over, but that you were in love with the person who had done the walking in? And that the person who'd walked in loved you right back? Only because of your stupid actions, he'd pretty much disappeared without a trace? Oh yes, tragically funny. If Norbert wasn't still strung tighter than a bow, he'd laugh. As it was, he was afraid that if did, he'd only do something like cry again.

And seeing his luck, Abaddon would walk in right in the middle of it and would have to console him. Again. Looking uncomfortable the whole while. Well, if nothing else, his relationship with Abaddon had improved. Abaddon might, as Lucifer had put it, have his heads in the clouds, but he'd proved that he could be a good friend, and those were rare and difficult to find in Hell. Still, Norbert liked to think that he was someone who learnt from his mistakes, so he was going to set things right with Clive, even if it was the last thing he did.

Now, if only he could find the man.

He had never known it was so easy for the Prince of Hell's head secretary to completely disappear. Oh, Clive did his work. Every morning, he found his paperwork waiting for him on his desk. If he called about work, a cheerful and competent person would always help him on his way. After the first three days, he even managed to get a new secretary, one who was actually capable of doing the work set out for him. And after the fifth time that Norbert found himself trying to deliberately set the new secretary tasks designed to have him fail, only for him to prove his ability time and time again, Norbert had to admit defeat. Clive had found the perfect assistant. Just not the right assistant. Just not Clive.

Norbert had even asked Lucifer, but his brother had been unusually reticent this time. When Norbert had demanded the help, Lucifer had finally looked irritated and snapped that if Norbert had actually worried about Clive this way before, he wouldn't be in this mess. And that he was to leave Clive alone because really, hadn't he already caused enough damage? Norbert had left his room feeling even more dejected because hate though he was to admit it, Lucifer was right. Now that he realised what those looks of Clive's meant, Norbert knew that he had hurt him. Badly. But Norbert wasn't about to just give up like that. He might be an idiot about some things, but Norbert believed that unlike some people, he could learn from his mistakes. And he wanted to right this wrong, because he had a feeling that to live with Clive's love might just be… phenomenal.

But a month in, and the problematic war business over and done with, and Norbert still hadn't seen hide nor hair of Clive and he was starting to panic. What if Clive chose to hide himself away from Norbert forever? That would certainly throw a wrench in his plans. But Clive didn't have any family around, at least not that he knew of, and no friends which he had introduced to Norbert, so Norbert didn't know of anyone to ask about Clive's whereabouts. After another week of this, he finally snapped and marched over to Lucifer's apartments, determined to get actual answers this time. Surely Lucifer could agree that he'd suffered enough by now.

Except maybe he shouldn't have gone. Because oh, there were some things he didn't want to see, and at the top of that list was his brother in bed with a man whom he was very sure he was in love with. Naked.

To his credit, he didn't do anything like tear up and whirl around in a dramatic flutter of his cloak and run away with his tail tucked between his legs. No, what he did instead shocked pretty much everyone present. Norbert had frozen as he'd taken in the scene, then he'd gone up to his brother and, very calmly and very deliberately, punched him in the face. And broke his nose. While Lucifer howled and Clive shouted in alarm, Norbert shook out his sore hand and thought wryly that perhaps he needed more practice with this punching people business, because he hadn't been prepared by how much it hurt. When Lucifer finally composed himself enough to glare heatedly at Norbert, Norbert smiled complacently at him before taking a seat on the edge of the bed, crossing his legs elegantly.

"What the hell?" Lucifer demanded, fingers delicately touching the bridge of his newly set nose as Clive wrapped up his spell. "What the hell, you punched me."

"And if you're really sleeping with him, I'll break something more important to you than your nose."

Lucifer tried, he really did. But he couldn't quite hide the twitch his lips made in amusement. Noting it, Norbert raised an eyebrow and Lucifer just gave up, throwing his head back and laughing. Clive looked vaguely embarrassed, put out, and uncomfortable all at once. Lucifer's raucous laughter calmed to amused chortles as he slid a hand to cup the back of Clive's neck fondly.

"If you were going to be a thick headed idiot for another three days, I would've stolen him from you anyway."

"Glad we've got that settled." Norbert said, primly and Lucifer chuckled as he shook his head.

"Sort this out between the two of you. As soon as possible, if you please. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go find my entertainment… elsewhere." With that, he swung himself out of the bed, unashamed in his nakedly. Spelling casual clothes to his body, he ruffled Norbert's hair and pressed a warm, friendly kiss to Clive's mouth (much to Norbert's consternation) before disappearing.

Norbert and Clive sat on the bed, awkward silence growing between them. Not only was the whole situation deuced uncomfortable, but Norbert was starting to be far too aware that Clive sat within touching distance with nothing covering the miles and miles of bare, toned skin except for the thousand count Egyptian cotton sheets. And those sheets did wonderful things to Clive's skin and eyes and oh god, he hated his brother because he was sure that Lucifer had done that on purpose.

Clive was also refusing to look at him. Right now, his face was turned towards said sheets while his hand clenched and unclenched, creating ripples of wrinkles on apple green. Apple green. That was another indication of Lucifer choosing the colours deliberately to showcase Clive's pale tan and pale green eyes, because he knew his brother and Lucy wouldn't be caught dead with apple green sheets. He had a reputation to uphold, after all, and the devil slept only on blood red or darkest black, no matter what the occasion.

"So," he said, finally, the awkward silence getting to him. His voice was like a shot in the silence, sudden and startling and Clive actually jerked a little at the unexpectedness of the sound. "Whose bright idea was it? Though I'm inclined to think it was Lucy. Feel free to correct me, though, before I lay all the blame at his feet."

"You're not… entirely wrong," Clive admitted, voice so quiet that Norbert had to shift a little closer. But that small movement made Clive's body tense up, so much so that Norbert froze before he forced himself to relax, sighing.

"Clive, come on. Don't. It doesn't have to be like this with us."

"Like what?" Clive asked, mouth twisting with self-deprecation, tone holding just the barest of bitter edges. "Strange? Awkward? If you haven't noticed, that seems to be our modus operandi as of late."

"It wasn't always," Norbert pointed out, softly. "There was a time, as I recall, that we were comfortable together. That we were friends."

"Friends." Clive let out a short bark of laughter at that, and oh how that bitterness built. "We were never friends, my lord."

"Don't call me that," Norbert snapped and he gripped Clive's chin, hard enough that it must hurt, hand enough that his fingers left the skin turning white with pressure. "There are no "my lords" between us. Yes, friends. I considered you a friend, a confidant. A trusted companion."

"Well I never thought that of you!" Clive burst out, and his tone was sharp and anguished. Norbert wanted to recoil, but he forced himself to still. "Damnation, Norbert, I never once looked at you and thought of you as a friend, not even when we first met."

"Then what?" Norbert asked, tone soft once more, gentle. "If it wasn't that, what did you think of me?"

"I…" Clive stopped, shaking his head, expression shamed. "I can't – I don't want to destroy what we have."

"As though your running away from me this past month hasn't done that already?" Norbert pointed out. The words weren't spoken meanly, but Clive still flinched, anyway. He gentled his tone. "Clive, please. I've told you once before that I am the biggest idiot around. If you don't tell me what you think, what you feel, I'll never know and we will forever be as we are now – at an impasse."

"I would have thought it was obvious," Clive said, laughing and the sound wasn't a nice one. "Everyone seems to, all but you."

"Again, I reiterate – idiot," Norbert said, dryly and smiled when that startled a laugh from Clive. He took the chance, moving closer even as his thumb swept to caress the sharp line of Clive's jaw, rough and scratchy with stubble that was pale gold as opposed to the near white of Clive's hair. The feel of that stubble against his callused thumb made him shiver a little. His last lover had not grown any facial hair, skin always smooth to the touch and the feel of it now, on Clive, was almost electrifying. Addictive.

His hand shifted, and now his fingers stroked up and down Clive's cheek, catching, like the rub of a kitten's tongue and he let out a soft puff of laughter at that thought, more like a breath. Clive caught his wrist in a hand, and Norbert felt breath leaving him for a whole new reason at the way the pale green of Clive's eyes darkened and his tongue darted out to wet dry lips, and he felt his breath catch as Clive's eyes latched onto that move, staring hungrily at his mouth.

"Clive," he murmured, and the man's eyes flicked back to meet his. They were so close now, body heat against body heat, nearly side by side, shoulders almost brushing, but close enough that Norbert could feel its presence, a bare hairsbreadth away. "Clive, the words, please."

"I want you," Clive said, and the admission came in a whisper that was shaky with need, control cracked and shattering and barely held together. "I think I need you."

"Hellfire, yes," he breathed and then suddenly they were there, together, fingers threading into hair, digging into shoulders, lips smashed together in a kiss that was rough and needy and had no room for finesse in the face of their passions. There would be time for tenderness and care and skill… later. Now, it was just need meeting need, fire fuelling fire. Teeth clashed, caught at tender skin, the harsh kisses bruising lips as tongues duelled – but they were so hungry, so desperate after so long.

"I love you," Norbert confessed, voice broken on a moan. "Oh Brimstone and Hades, I realised I loved you only after I thought you were lost to me forever."

"You didn't see," Clive accused. "I tried so hard to show you but you were too busy staring after someone else and you wouldn't see."

"I'm sorry." Norbert pulled back to brush Clive's hair out of his face, leaning down to kiss him feverishly again and again, groaning and whispering apologies and Cive's name against his skin like the desperate prayers of a dying man. "Clive, I'm so sorry."

"I tried to forget you, I was so close to giving up when Lucifer brought me home with him. I wanted to forget you, wanted to learn to hate you but I couldn't no matter how hard I tried, because damn it, I've loved you for nearly a century."

"I'll make it up to you," Norbert promised, kissing him again, couldn't get enough of his mouth, of his taste now that he'd had him. Even Abaddon didn't compare, couldn't compare to this, this strange sweetness that he'd tasted nowhere else. "I promise, I'll make it up to you. I'll spend our whole lives making it up to you."

"Oh, gag," a voice suddenly cut into their golden bubble and the two of them jerked away, whirling around to see Lucifer and Abaddon's images floating nearby. Both of them had unbearably smug smirks on their ridiculously punchable faces. Astral projection, of-fucking-course, so Norbert couldn't even kill his brother. "I think I threw up in my mouth a little."

"Oh go away," Norbert snapped, and Lucifer just smiled, feral. Abaddon just looked amused. "I'm in no mood to deal with you right now. Can't you see I'm busy? Go bother one of your underlings if you're in such a mood. I've got more important things to do, like Clive."

"I'm glad to see you've sorted out your problems, brother dearest," Lucifer said, with a dark chuckle. He tapped his lips. "Isn't he sweet? I did tell you."

Norbert snarled and threw a pillow at them, but they disappeared before it even went through their projected images. But Lucifer's voice lingered in the air a moment.

"I know you've a cause for celebration, but do remember you have your own room, yes?"

"And use protection!" was Abaddon's advice, and they heard Lucifer berating Abaddon on giving useless advice since no, neither of them would be bearing children and no, they wouldn't be able to get any strange diseases and Abaddon trying to justify his words by saying this was Hell after all, and really, anything could happen.

"Rat bastards," Norbert muttered. Then he turned to Clive, a decidedly wicked and Lucifer-like smirk on his face, and really, it was moments like these that Clive thought they seemed especially like siblings. "Now, what say we do said celebrating right here? Leave a thank you present to Lucifer, so to speak."

"Well," Clive murmured with his own smirk, sliding his arms around Norbert's neck. "There is a bed oh-so-conveniently here." Norbert laughed, and lowered him down and proceeded to show the other man his appreciation rather thoroughly on Lucifer's too-expensive sheets.