Hello, all! You should probably have realized by now that this story is being pulled out of my ass every step of the way. So, I have no idea how this chapter is going to go. I also would love a beta. Seriously. Volunteers? Please?

Disclaimer: I don't even work FOR the network. Why the hell would the network work for me?

Chapter 30: In Which Puberty Takes Its Toll: Part 1

Puberty. The gift that keeps on giving. Hair growing in places where it seems hair should not be allowed to grow, pimples popping up like an unwelcome houseguest and gradually turning into horrible, horrible acne. Bleeding occurs whe- you know what, let's skip that part. Male voices crack like sticks in a forest. Relationships are formed, hormones become supercharged and oh, look, teenage pregnancy. Ah, yes, the wonder of nature's version of absolute hell.

Another version of Hell is what Michael was currently in. He could remember a time just three hours ago when there was only one echo of Lucifer's little voice, sweet and distant like any good baby archangel. Now, there were ten. And he couldn't control it. Wincing at a slightly higher than normal squawk, he praised the Lord and all of the little humans that he could visibly see the changes in his brother's back muscles. Broader and thicker, they made up a good portion of his total size right now. It also made him look slightly ridiculous, since his chest hadn't quite followed through with the growth. Laughing only made him angry, though.

Gabriel was still quite young, but had gotten the hang of some simple words and phrases. Many of which included swears from various continents and cultures, something that both Michael and Raphael were resigned to. It was no use telling their siblings not to swear; there hadn't been any fledglings for centuries. They were all out of practice. So now, he had a grumbling demi-fledgling on the brink of puberty and a cling-on that not only refused to walk, but also refused to get off of Michael's back.

Gabriel had been clinging since the incident with the wooly mammoths, and Lucifer refused to be used as a climbing toy. Which was unfortunate, because he was Gabriel's favorite. He saved the extra special sloppy kisses for Lucifer, plucked weeds out of the garden and gave them to Lucifer and also braided Lucifer's hair with surprising skill. All this for Lucifer and he wouldn't even be used as a climbing toy.

Granted, said fledgling was currently eating an angel food cake, of all things, while on his shoulders, so Michael could understand why. Sighing, he brushed the crumbs away as best as he could and tuned in to Lucifer's rant on the cherubs and their state of dress. Or rather, undress. "You know, we really should introduce them to a toga. One that covers their legs. And all the other rather important bits. It's not that I mind having that shoved in my face, it's just that I really, really hate it when that happens. I keep expecting them to shout 'suck it' or something and it is slightly scarring. I am glad that angels do not reproduce, you know that? Patiri showed me this video…"


Michael's left eye gave a convulsive twitch and he silently vowed to ensure Patiri somehow ended up in one of those videos. Possibly with a horse. Yes, that would work. Somehow…

Gabriel, now finished with his snack, decided to hang upside-down. With Michael's hair as a handhold. Whimpering with as much dignity as he could, he caught the eye of the still slightly singed cherub, whose eyes widened as he mouthed 'no' in various dialects. Michael smiled because the movement caught Gabriel's eye and instead of hanging off of him, he decided to use his little wings to glide over and perch himself on top of the cherub's head. All the better to make fish faces with the poor bastard's cheeks.

Smiling in satisfaction, it promptly froze on his face when he caught sight of the beginning of the end. The apocalypse reborn. The worst disaster to ever hit Heaven since the realization that not even God could look directly into Gabriel's puppy dog eyes and say no. To anything.

Lucifer was rubbing at his back.

Michael resisted the urge to scream like a tiny prepubescent female and instead settled for widening his eyes and quietly dying on the inside. Such a tiny gesture, so many consequences. Privately, he envisioned hordes of angels running through the gates with as much speed as their wings could give them. The halls of healing overflowing with brothers and sister. Human souls cringing and writhing in agony as the cries ring through the sky.

Oh, dear Lord. Lucifer has to grow his secondary and tertiary wings…

A little whine escaped him as he watched his brother frown and scratch at his back. Turning to him, Lucifer opened his mouth to ask but was quickly cut off by Gabriel's sudden appearance. Sitting snuggly in the space between Lucifer's shoulders and away from those…Hell makers. It also had the added effect of stopping Lucifer from scratching, even if a bundle of freshly cleaned feathers was currently disappearing into the maw of a fledgling. Feather sucking. Gabriel never got over it. Lucifer whimpered in disgust but slumped over in defeat. Nothing short of the Jaws of Life were going to remove Gabriel from his prize.

Michael whispered a soft, unnoticed prayer for the divine intervention of a fledgling that didn't even come up to his knees. His brother had just saved his sanity. He was one up from the millions of times he had nearly made Michael lose it completely. He reached over to stroke the downy wings, smiling happily when a squeaky "Mik'ail" flowed off of his brother's tongue. They would be alright.

And three days later, he took it back. Do you hear me, Atropos? I take it back, dammit! They would not, repeat NOT be alright. Lucifer's wing activity seems to have calmed down almost completely, but Gabriel's interest in the Winchesters and, God help them, Crowley, had skyrocketed. He regularly glided his way to Hell to snuggle with the Hell pups under the frantic, disbelieving watch of the Fallen. Not that they could really do anything; Gabriel and dogs of any kind seemed to go hand in hand with the damned.

Except for Chihuahuas. Especially not Chihuahuas.

Michael froze in shock the first time when Gabriel had come back carefully cradling a mangy Hell pup in his tiny arms. By the fifth, he was annoyed. By the time he reached fifty and he realized that they were all the same puppy and that a few members of the garrison looked guilty as fuck, he realized there was absolutely nothing he could do and awaited eternal damnation.

There was a piece of Hell in Heaven, for God's sakes!

But no, it gets worse. Raphael found the puppy and, after a lengthy lecture on how it couldn't stay and a massive cleanup for the river of tears that followed, Gabriel had decided that he could not, in fact, keep it. And so, he suckered some poor tart into bringing him to the Winchesters with a baby hellhound. Which is quite clearly a hellhound. As in, just like the ones that had ripped Dean into itty bitty bitsies and dragged him to Hell. That went over about as well as one would think. And then, after an unfortunate bullet hit and managed to kill the damned dog, there was a general influx of angelic activity as the grieving cries of a fledgling threatened to tear apart the United States of America.

Which brings us to where Michael is, still listening to his baby brother wailing his little heart out over a pet that was never a pet and should also never be kept as a pet. He wasn't allowed to put him down and the tears in every other living thing's eyes were streaming like water down a waterfall. His wings were sodden and dripping from the continued crying and Lucifer was glaring at him and oh, God, he was going to start crying too. A tear managed to escape before being slapped away by an angry Ariella, who had taken one look at the mess and promptly blamed it all on Michael. Which, not his fault, but he would take the Hell pup over Ariella any day…

Sighing and rubbing his cheek, he croaked, "What is it you want from me, exactly?"

She glared harder and snapped, "I want my fucking brother back! At first, I thought he was cute as a button, and he is! I thought he was as sweet as angel food cake and guess what, he is! But that is not my Gabriel! Where are the bad puns? The candy stash? The endless, maddening chatter that drove me halfway to a murder/suicide? What happened to that?"

Michael didn't have the heart to tell her that what she wanted had never been there to begin with. Gabriel's innocence had left him long ago, the wounds hidden behind humor and terrible, terrible junk food. He remained quiet, staring up at her steadily from his position sitting down in the cushy nest. She faltered, then let out a harsh whisper of, "Life isn't fair."

"If life were fair, then it would never come to an end. We would never experience happiness or the joy of seeing something new. Yes, we may never have to say goodbye to a loved one but what would existence be if everything were fair? Fair is a myth, Sister, told by humans to describe pretty little princesses too beautiful and stubborn for their own good. Fair is what happens in a courtroom when a man falsely accused of murder is put to death in front of his wife and child. Fair is…not made for life, Ariella."

She bowed her head in acknowledgment. Michael watched her wearily. She was young; much younger than he, but Michael had been the first. The first to babble his father's true name in love and harmony. The first to love, to lose and to get back up after falling. She had been loved-was still loved-for her entire life. As was he, and many others.

All except for Gabriel, and Lucifer.

But then again, life wasn't fair. Was it.

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Lucifer thought about them, the words of his brother.

Idly scratching at his back, drawing blood from a few well-worn welts, he pondered about the meaning of fair and wondered why they hurt his brother so. Had someone mistreated him? Hurt him irredeemably so? Broke his Grace? Whoever it was would be punished to the full extent of his abilities. He was interrupted in his thoughts by the shining eyes of his fledgling brother peering at his from inside the cage of Michael's strong wings. It was strange; he couldn't remember a brother with eyes as golden as honey, yet there he was. A spike of pain flared behind his eyes and, hissing, he gave up.

Instead, he went back to scratching his back. It was itching and burning terribly, but he only scratched in private; because it was both embarrassing and it gave Michael a look like he had just killed his favorite horse. Sad, horrified and somewhat pitiful, if the commander of all of Heaven could be called pitiful. Wincing when he hit a particularly raw part, his fingers brushed up against something moving under his skin. He froze for a second and absently wondered if he had contracted some kind of horrible parasite that burrows under the skin to lay eggs.

Then he just screamed. "MICHAEL!"

Michael jolted upright from his position in front of Ariella, swiveling his head in an excellent owl impression. Another cry sounded that was more a sob than a scream, begging for his big brother to come and save him. Michael's lips thinned. That day had come at last. Steeling himself, he flew steadily to his wailing brother and gingerly held him to his chest as he sobbed. Humming softly under his breath and waiting patiently for him to breath, Michael stroked the dark head of hair currently burrowed in his chest. This went on for a while, with Michael making soft, unheard shushing sounds while Lucifer's bawling completely overpowered them.

Far away in the distance, God winced in pity and wondered if he could get Death to lift that whole anti-power trip precaution. He then discarded the thought when he remembered how much his counterpart hated Lucifer. Then he just went back to wincing.

Not-as-far-away-as-before, the earth was in turmoil. Large animals decided to take up residence in, well, human residences and no amount of tranquilizer could put them down. A few were shot, but when they healed right in front of the citizen's eyes it was promptly called a miracle. Three deer and a few hundred dogs are going to live the good life for the rest of their years.

It wasn't really a miracle, though. Raphael shut the gates of Heaven so that everyone else would have to suffer with him.

Back to earth. The animals weren't the only things acting crazy. Numerous demons were seen actually attempting to send themselves back to Hell, though the exorcisms became a little strange to see when the one doing it had spasms and seizures on the word 'Christo'. It made them a damn site easier to kill, though, so that was one point in the Winchester's favor. It was like one second they were going to die and the next, the demons were dropping like a dog who'd heard a whistle.

Dean actually whistled in astonishment when a high level demon allowed itself to be ganked, then damn near choked on his own spit when others dropped to their knees and started to beg. Turning in slow circles to take in the pleading demons, he finally shouted, "What the hell is going on?"

"That would be Lucifer growing his wings, Bullwinkle. It's the day every living and nonliving thing has been dreading since the moment we heard of his…accident. The screaming is quite unbearable, unless you've had a few million years of learning to block out that annoying whine," drawled Crowley calmly. He was wearing a pair of noise cancelling headphones and carrying a cup of chamomile tea. Which soon shattered on the floor when a small Gabriel swung himself crying into Crowley's arms. "Oi, that was some good tea, you little menace!"

Gabriel sniffled and whined, "Luci!"

Crowley snorted in exasperation. "Little bugger didn't like seeing my former employer in pain, apparently. I, for one, would love to see it, if I were certain I would have both my eyes and the ability to hear afterwards. Which I unfortunately am not." He sighed. "I pity the poor bastards that didn't flee when they had the chance. I would imagine that someone has closed the gates after absconding in terror."

"I don't get it," complained Sam. "If he's perfectly safe and all, why should growing his wings change anything? It's not like they'll cause him to become a homicidal maniac again, right?"

"Well, no, but it may just drive Michael to murder," Crowley stated. He sighed at the confusion on their faces. "Alright, Moose, time for archangel 101. A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived a very powerful man and his brood of over-attentive nincompoops that had no idea how to do…anything. At all. So he began creating again and made another little angel, which was Michael. Now, Michael was a feisty little thing and also, spoiled six ways to Sunday. As in, the sun shone out of his ass and he ate butterflies and shat rainbows-God, I don't know! The gist of it is, Michael was a brat. God made Lucifer to teach him responsibility. He raised him like Dean raised you. Lucifer was also a brat. Raphael came along, he was raised by the overbearing ass known as Michael. Death said that they have to earn their power and damned us all to seven days and seven nights of horrendous wailing and tears until the middle child's other sets of wings came in. Gabriel had the same. Long story even shorter, Lucifer never learned responsibility until Gabriel came along, which was several million years after that. Meaning, he never had to go through the whole 'wings breaking through muscle, skin and bone to pop out like an orca at Sea World' deal. Long story summarized into a sentence, Lucifer has never felt pain like this that he can remember and he is the most spoiled little brat you can imagine from years of having Michael at his beck and call. We, meaning the demons and I, equate this to the apocalypse come sevenfold."

There was a long, incredulous pause. Crowley grinned and shoved an attentive Gabriel at Dean. "And that is why every living and nonliving thing on any plane of existence should live underground for the next little while. Ciao!"

Dean sputtered in disbelief and looked around at the puppy eyes of the demons, inching towards them with pleading gestures. Sighing, he patted one on the head none-to-gently and stated, "I'll kill you if you do it to me, first."

Meanwhile in Hel- Heaven. I meant Heaven.

Michael was going to cry.

Lucifer was already soaking his shoulder with sweat, tears and a plethora of unmentionable substances that will not be mentioned because of reasons. Like sanity. Sanity is a good reason. Michael nodded to himself and resolved not to think about it for the sake of his sanity. Not that it was doing so well to begin with, what with his fully grown brothers coming back in miniature to haunt him, the mammoth ordeal and, well, this. He patted his brother's back gently and murmured comforting words under his breath. Meanwhile, there was a cherub behind him attempting to do the same thing to him while petting his wings and offering hugs. Michael was oddly touched by the gesture. If any living thing was willing to brave Lucifer like this, they needed a promotion ASAP. Of course, it wasn't Lucifer he was comforting…

So there they sat, an archangel, his prepubescent archangel brother and a cherub that should have been miles underground by now. And that was when Lucifer finally regained his voice and asked hoarsely, "A-am I pregnant, Michael?"

Nobody cried harder than Michael that day. Except for Death, but for an entirely different reason. If he had to breathe, let's just say he wouldn't be.

The cherub froze, then slowly stood up and flew away, muttering about hugging Patiri to death. Which was definitely something that Michael could get behind entirely. Minus the hugging, perhaps.

Back to the Winchesters

Dean was currently involved in a game of patty-cake that, to Sam, was more like Russian roulette. For him, anyways. Every time Dean didn't move fast enough he was smacked in the face with a wing, now about the length of an eagle's. It also happened at random with various other body parts capable of inflicting bruises; Gabriel seemed to like the color of them. He was frankly quite surprised that Dean was still playing at all. Lips twitching, he fought off a grin when a small hand snaked out to hammer his brother in the arm with a cheerful, "F'ck!"

He could only imagine where he had learned that before. Dean had been taught out of swearing around children years ago and he rarely took part in it. His lips twitched again and he finally let himself grin. Heh, angels swearing. It was so far away from everything he had ever been told about angels that it…fit in with the rest of it, actually. It really shouldn't surprise him anymore.

Castiel finally saved Dean from the slap-happy baby with the promise of chocolate. Copious, ridiculous amounts of chocolate. Which apparently wasn't to his taste whatsoever as, in the spirit of healthy childhoods, Castiel had bought bitter dark chocolate for the sweet toothed angel babe. Yeah, it was a no go. The cries nearly drowned out the sound of demons begging for death.

"Sh't," agreed Gabriel with a happy chirp. Sam sighed in resigned agreement. They were in deep shit, alright.

I'm going to end it here for now and post this, so you know I'm alive. I haven't had much time to write with last semester's classes, but good news! This semester is a cakewalk. Life! How I have missed you!