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Fall From Grace by Matthew Munson – Chapter Excerpt

Fall From Grace … Chapter One
The Celestial Observatory

He stood at one of the large, arched windows, his shoulders tense with frustration. His eyes were staring blankly out over the star-flecked darkness of the cosmos and his mind, usually absorbed by the awe-inspiring sight of entire galactic discs, was elsewhere; he was distracted by the almighty row he had just had with his Father.

The ever-changing view of the galaxies swirling slowly past usually helped calm him after one of their arguments – but it failed today. This row had been more intense, and the bubbling, underlying resentment between them had seemed far closer to the surface. The stars weren’t doing anything to disperse the bubbling anger he felt inside. His ire was too great; the argument with his Father was still fresh in his mind, scattering any other thoughts.

“Brother?”

He looked round and saw Gabriel walking towards him, a look of concern on his youthful features.

“Gabriel,” he said softly – more softly than he had spoken with his Father. After all, it wasn’t Gabriel’s fault that his older brother and Father couldn’t last more than five minutes without arguing. “You shouldn’t be here. Return to the Chamber. They’ll think you’re allying yourself with me.”

He couldn’t keep the cynicism out of his voice, and immediately regretted not trying harder. He’d always suspected that their parents preferred Gabriel over him; he had learnt to accept it a long time ago, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t occasionally find it irritating.

Gabriel had always been the peacemaker between his older brother and their Father, trying to stop their arguments before they started – or at least soften the edges when they did, inevitably, erupt. It didn’t usually work, but to his credit, he always tried anyway.

“I don’t care if they think that,” Gabriel retorted. “You’re my brother. Why should I not stand with you? I agree with everything you said.”

His elder brother blinked in surprise at the passion in Gabriel’s voice – a passion that he didn’t often hear coming from his mild-mannered sibling. Gabriel usually kept his own counsel, because the last thing his family needed was someone else shouting in the Ruling Chamber. He knew, however, that Gabriel was old enough to make his own choices now.

Wasn’t that what my Father and I were just arguing about? he thought. Choice?

“Just … be careful,” he cautioned. “I’m the thorn in our Father’s side; there’s no reason for you to be tarred with the same brush. You know what Father and I are like. We argue. It will pass, as it always does.”

Gabriel nodded. “I won’t disagree with you on the first point,” he conceded, and gave a wan smile. “Your arguments seem to be getting more frequent, though. They’re always about the same thing, that tiny planet. Is there anything you two can find common ground over?”

His brother hesitated. It was true, there had always been a lot of heat between him and his Father, and their arguments had been increasing. He knew why, as well; he was no longer afraid to stand up to his Father, as he once had been. In his darker moments, he wondered if this was always a good thing, or whether he was picking a fight simply because he could.

He also wondered if he cared about the answer; he knew he liked to argue just for the sake of it. Shaking his head, he smiled back at Gabriel.

“Not much.” He sighed. “I … I dislike Father being so obsessive.”

Gabriel interrupted with a nod of his head, and neither needed to say any more on the subject – they understood each other. He nodded back, and sighed again. He’d had the argument; he didn’t want to go over it again with his brother. Gabriel was purely here as peacemaker – as he always was.

“I wish there was something I could do,” Gabriel said. “Metatron is fuming, as you can imagine. Michael is taking the brunt of it so you don’t have to, I suspect.”

His brother laughed. “Metatron is always fuming. I think the heavens would fold in on themselves if she ever found peace. As for Michael …” He hesitated. “I admire how he stands up to her. I think he’s the only one that ever does. I can see why my Father made him commander of his armies; if he’s not afraid of Metatron, there’s not much he can be afraid of.” He raised an eyebrow. “I wonder how much trouble she’d give me if it wasn’t for Michael”

Gabriel laughed in agreement. He and his older brother fell into companionable silence, staring out of the window and watching the heavens float by.

“I need to fly,” he said after a while. “I … I need to centre myself, and I can’t do it here.”

Gabriel nodded, and watched his older brother go. Just as he was about to leave, a thought occurred to him and he called out his brother’s name.

“Lucifer!”

His brother turned.

“You’re my brother, and I love you,” Gabriel said. “But sometimes I wonder if you argue with Father because you enjoy it or because you’re convinced you’re right.”

Lucifer stared at Gabriel for a moment, then turned and silently left the Observatory. He didn’t reply because he wasn’t sure which statement he agreed with more.

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