“Oh little brother,” Lucifer says with slow, deliberate carefulness- measuring his words like dollops of acid and watching as each of them makes Raphael flinch, take a step back, “you’ve never learned to leave it alone, have you?”
“You,” Raphael spits out, defiant even in the face of the danger that their older brother so clearly represents, “you abomination
.” He glares at Lucifer and his dagger slips into his palm, smooth and efficient, like a ray of sunshine sluicing through the water.
Lucifer cocks his head and smiles at the knife in Raphael’s hand, “What are you going to do with that?”
“What I should have done a long time ago,” snarls Raphael and rushes forward in a blur of speed.
It’s almost poetic, the way Lucifer simply sidesteps him and Dawn can barely blink- before she realizes that the dagger is out of Raphael’s hands, and he knows that too, the terror in his eyes is evident and clear to see and yet he can’t stop himself, he’s going too fast and Lucifer looks grim as he simply steps back into Raphael’s space and slides the dagger between his ribs.
For a moment, everything is still and Dawn can only see both her brothers standing close to each other- beautifully close, Raphael with his dark head bowed, almost on Lucifer’s shoulder, as if he’s listening to him again, waiting for his orders. For a moment frozen in time, it looks like they’re hugging and then Lucifer twists
the dagger in his hands and light starts spilling out Raphael’s eyes, his wound, through his fingers, through his skin.
For a moment, frozen in time- Raphael looks like one of the older depiction of angels, bathed in ethereal white, with his eyes wide open and the air still around him.
And then the world explodes into a bright flash of light, a rolling heatwave of Raphael’s Grace- painfully hot, almost excruciating to behold and just draining
The lump in her throat makes it difficult for Dawn to breathe and when she blinks away the sheen of tears in her eyes, because Raphael was still her brother
and once upon a time- he taught her the joy of books, before he tried to strangle her to death, well- when she opens her eyes, he’s gone and all that’s left of him is the broken shape of his vessel lying crumpled on his side, hand still clutching at his ribs and the outline of Raphael’s beautiful wings burned into the ground.
She gasps as Lucifer turns back to her and the front of his olive green t-shirt, made from cheap cotton- most probably bought at Walmart during his vessel’s life, is splattered with Raphael’s blood.
Dawn can’t help it, she tries valiantly to resist but in the end- it’s all she can do, what with the shock and the concussion warring for dominance in her system, she barely has time to turn away and lean over before she’s throwing up the two cups of coffee she had for breakfast that morning.
It’s a horrible feeling, this sick symbiosis of grief about her brother’s death and real, unadulterated fear that Lucifer
is here, in all his terrible glory, ice cold and unnaturally endless- the look in his eyes like the history of all their sins laid bare for the whole world to see.
She’s so confused and mixed up, trembling as the nausea crashes against her in thick waves and tears burn her eyes. No matter what, he’s still the devil- he still turned away from them first, he still slaughtered over half of their brothers but he’s here. He’s here
, real and solid and reassuringly calm.
Dawn hears him crouch beside Azrael, feels the warm flush of Lucifer’s Grace flow through her, like a thousand shivering suns and when she feels the air move again, hears the rustle of denim on leather- she isn’t really surprised.
“Open your eyes little one,” Lucifer tells her gently and a millennia later, Dawn still obeys him.
He still smells a little like her older brother, like roses and ozone, like lightning and paradise- but now, there’s a tinge of brimstone underlying the overall scent- like a subtle reminder that he’s changed.
“Ophriel,” Lucifer calls and tilts her chin up with two of his fingers, like he’s examining her newly human face, her newly human body, “open your eyes for me, I will not hurt you.”
“Who was he?” Dawn asks quietly, looking over him with hungry eyes.
The man her brother is inhabiting looks like nobody special, maybe a mechanic, maybe a truck driver- someone that would have talked with a twang and worked with his hands, nobody important, nobody exciting. He has blue eyes that have probably never been described as extraordinary, but Lucifer’s Grace fuels them with all the fires of Heaven and Hell- makes them burn steady and true, like otherworldly beacons calling Dawn home.
But home’s gone, she thinks and the thought pangs in her chest, makes her gasp as the concussion returns with a vengeance and she’s pretty damn grateful that she’s thrown up before when Lucifer just strokes her cheek and sighs- “oh little tree, you shouldn’t have been here on your own…”
He glares at something over Dawn’s head as he says this, and she instinctively follows the soothing tember of his voice- presses her cheek into his hand, like a sunflower towards the sun.
It’s weird, but in that moment- she doesn’t care that her blood’s stopped flowing or that she feels whole again- in that moment in time, all she cares about is the fact that she feels safe.
“Come little one,” Lucifer sighs and nods at Azrael who steps forward and props Dawn up, taking her arm around his shoulders, scooping her closer. He holds her up and Dawn closes her eyes, feeling the familiar sense of displacement and a twist in her stomach.
When she opens her eyes, its to the sight of the Singer Salvage Yard in the distance and the still too near closeness of Lucifer in front of her.
“How do you feel?” he asks her gently and Azrael tightens his grip on her shoulders, wrapping his arm around her.
For a second, Dawn wants nothing more than just to stay with her older brothers- have Azrael comfort her with his offbeat attempts at humor and gentleness, have Lucifer there- even in all his dark glory and violence, a steady presence that she can breathe easy with.
It’s a cowardly thought, but she’s tired- their plans have been in place for thousands of years, and having their eyes opened by Gabriel has just accelerated them from turtle slow into super sonic. They’ve been running on about three hours of sleep at night, what with the research, training and re-establishing of old contacts and while Buffy and Faith might have been fine with that pace- Dawn was about ready to collapse.
“Go,” Lucifer says to her and gently nudges Azrael forward, smiling that same other smile, the one with the small quirk of his lips that somehow manages to convey just the gentlest sliver of Lucifer’s former glory without fully showing the spectrum of his awe.
The sun is beginning to rise in Sioux Falls, still a bright orange apparition in the sky despite everything going on around them. She can hear birds chirping somewhere in the distance and Dawn feels absurdly grateful for this semblance of normality.
She was almost killed by someone who had taught her about the joy of books not ten minutes ago, someone who had stood by her time and again- holding her hand through the knowledge of Heaven’s libraries being poured into her consciousness, bit by painful bit.
So, it’s maybe a little more understandable when you put in context, the fact that Dawn takes a step towards Lucifer who looks genuinely surprised at her action, courtesy of yet another weird attribute that made it impossible for any angel to read their minds. Dawn takes a deep breath before moving in for the last step, pauses in her actions and then just thinks ‘to hell with it’, almost giggling hysterically before she steps into her second oldest brother’s personal space and wraps her arms around his very stiff body.
“Thank you,” she whispers into Lucifer’s ear and squeezes him tighter and grins, huge and happy as she feels his arms tentatively rising up to wrap around her own body, like a pair of extra appendages that he’s not quite sure how to deal with.
“Thank you so much,” Dawn breathes again and lays a soft kiss on the devil’s cheek before stepping away lest he explodes of feelings
or something or tries to kill a goat to prove the fact that he’s still the most badass of all the mofos out there.
“You should go,” Lucifer says and Dawn doesn’t grin and doesn’t laugh because the tips of his ears are a bright pink and he can still probably kill her with a thought but still
- it’s her brother.
“Come on now,” Azrael urges her under her elbow and Dawn grins at him instead, because Azrael gets it, gets how funny it is seeing Lucifer get even remotely flustered, “before he gets all shy
and has to go disembowel something so that he can feel like himself again.” He tugs at her arm, urging her towards the salvage yard in the distance.
“Watch yourself,” Lucifer says quietly, somehow managing to convey so much menace and horror in his tone without raising his voice, “you’re beginning to sound impertinent.”
“Yes,” Azrael says seriously and bows his head, “and we wouldn’t want anyone knowing that hell is where the bad angels go when they’ve been particularly impertinent
.” He almost rolls his eyes, almost
, but not quite because snarky Azrael might be- but he’s not suicidal.
‘Not like-‘ Dawn thinks darkly and then cuts off that train of thought, snorting as Lucifer glowers narrowly in Azrael’s direction, probably wishing for some good hellfire at that very moment and leaves without even saying goodbye.
“I think you pissed him off,” Dawn laments mildly and begins walking back to the junk yard.
Azrael hums to himself and squints at the space that Lucifer had been occupying before hurrying after Dawn, “You think?”
“Yeah man,” Dawn nods half seriously, “I’d watch your back if I was you. Don’t want the big boss angry with you.”
Azrael takes a second to make a face at her, walking backwards without stumbling once, the supernaturally graceful asshole- “You’re very funny,” he says with a glint in his eye.
“Thanks,” Dawn leers cheerfully, “I try.”
Azrael’s huff of amusement is the last thing she hears, like a musical note in the wind, playing long after he’s gone off to do whatever it is he does when he’s not lieutenanting for the King of Hell or being a pain in their ass.
That evening, when Buffy asks her about the mission- Dawn tells her that it was a success.
It’s the truth, after all.