Author's Notes: This started out as a short story for English class... but I've decided I can't just stop where it did. Please don't mind the long chapters, and comments are desired...? I hope you enjoy my story.

Lumen et Obscurum

It was all falling into disaster faster than she could pick up the pieces. The young-looking blonde stared in horror at the sight before her. Her emerald green eyes were glassy with shock. She had only left the Seraph-to-be for a moment. But when she returned, the sight of the ruins of the fallen building gave her an eerie greeting. For all guardian angels, policy was to inform a higher angel of the death of a charge, but this wasn't the first for Marie.

The bad luck started a little before the previous year. Three of her charges met an early fate while under her care. As a chance to redeem herself, Marie had been given an important paragon of good, James Young, as a charge. The first few months seemed to have been doing well for her, and she'd thought she was finally out of her rut. But now she found herself in the excruciating pain that guardian angels must endure as a warning that his or her charge was dying.

Debris was scattered over the sand, lying in a huge heap beside the other building. Even if she used her powers, there was no way that Marie could get to James in time to save him. As she watched, a cool autumn wind blew pieces of the wreckage across the beach. A despairing wail rose up in her throat, a miserable cry to convey her loss. The angel dropped to her knees and the sand and let the tears roll down.

Light flashed around her, and supernatural wind whipped the folds of her simple white gown around her body, the link to her charge being magically severed. The light storm soon died down, leaving Marie still kneeling helpless on the beach, staring desolately at the tragic wreckage before her. She didn't know what to do or where to turn.

Something moved in her peripheral vision, and she turned to see who was approaching. The dim silhouette of a man was hurrying towards her. She felt a sudden upsurge in dark energy, but was too disoriented to pay it proper attention. As the man came closer, Marie could discern features, like his wavy chestnut hair and his concerned russet eyes. He was clad in loose black clothing: a loose long-sleeved shirt and baggy black jeans, all of which hid his figure.

As the mystery man reached her, he knelt down beside he and put a pale hand on her shoulder. "Miss, are you okay?" he asked, his voice a light tenor.

"I'm going to be alright," Marie whispered in a high, shaky voice, trying to control her tremors. She got to her feet, hesitantly leaning on the man to steady herself. As she stood by herself, however, Marie seemed to instantly regain her composure. An odd calm seemed to wash over her and she looked to the sky. They knew. They were calling. But she would not come. It was too late for her. Marie was certain she'd lose her wings, her powers, and the freedom to roam the mortal realm. She could not bear that. Mentally shaking these disturbing thoughts from her mind, she turned to the man. "I'm sorry to have concerned you, sir," she apologized. "Thank you for your kindness. May I ask your name?"

The man blinked in surprise. 'Guardian angels,' he thought in amusement. 'Always so polite.' Out loud, he said, "Oh, it's alright. My name's Jason Cendrin. I haven't seen you around here before. What's your name, and where are you from?" Her emerald eyes became slightly wary as she looked up at him through light-colored lashes.

"My name's Marie Velancia," she replied, albeit reluctantly. "I'm from... Florida. I'm just visiting here for a while and it's to visit... my pen pal. We've been writing for 3 years now." Marie avoided Jason's eyes and looked at her sandaled feet instead. Jason imperceptibly raised an eyebrow.

'Guardian angels never were good at lying,' he thought, but didn't pursue the matter. "So, Marie," he said, continuing their conversation, "where are you headed?" But the angel remained silent. "Anyplace in particular?" Jason urged, but Marie just gave him a noncommittal shrug. 'I guess I'm not getting an answer,' he assumed, bemused. "Was this your place?" he attempted, motioning to the debris. Marie finally looked up at him, her expression thoughtful.

"I suppose you could say that," she conceded after a moment. Jason instantly assumed a sympathetic expression.

"Aw, that's terrible. If you want, you could crash at my place for a night or so." Marie's eyes widened at the offer, but Jason could see her instinct conflicting with her reason.

"I wouldn't want to intrude," she muttered hesitantly. Before she could say another word, Jason cut in.

"Oh, it won't be a problem. I have a spare room and it'll be nice to have some company for once." Marie stared wonderingly at him for a moment... and then finally agreed. Jason smiled, and Marie missed the evil gleam that had appeared in his eyes.

Everything was falling into place. Just a night ago, Mr. James Young had gotten a paragon of evil killed. To balance that out, Lucifer had sent Jason to the world of mortals to kill Mr. Young. And Lucifer never missed an opportunity. Because Jason's target was bound to have a guardian angel, Lucifer had instructed Jason to seek her out and follow her to heaven after her charge's death. From there, he was to await further instructions. So far, all was going well. He'd found the guardian, killed the charge, and was currently guaranteeing himself a free trip to heaven. However, he did not know of the angel's reluctance to return.

Jason happily put his arm around the blonde and began walking her to his home. He felt tension ripple through her body at the physical contact, but she seemed to make herself relax. He remained unaware of the angel's growing suspicion of him.

"So," Marie began quietly, "your name is Jason? How long have you been here in Long Island?" The question caught him off-guard, but he recovered smoothly and pretended to think for a moment.

"I dunno. Maybe about 12 years? My parents died 4 years ago, when I was 15. Car accident." He mentally scolded himself. Car accident? That was almost too cliché. He glanced at her to see if she noticed. He was rather baffled, however, to see her pure gaze locked on his face, studying him thoughtfully. Admittedly, he was good-looking, but a guardian angel developing an attraction to him just wasn't good.

Marie, however, was not checking him out, although she was slightly amused by the discomfort her analysis gave him. "I'm sorry for your loss," she said sympathetically, but felt no pity. His aura, his appearance... this one was definitely not mortal. The confidence he exuded, the image he retained, and the ice hidden deep in his eyes made her almost certain that this Jason Cendrin was an evil fallen angel, serving under Lucifer, the legendary Fallen. She just wondered why he acted concerned, or even bothered to be nice. A guardian angel was weakest in the hour its charge dies. It would've been easy just to kill her. And she was certain he knew what she was... Strange.

Well, there was only one way to prove he was a fallen angel. The only problem was getting the materials to do it.

The two angels arrived at a tall apartment building about 15 minutes later. "Third floor's my place," Jason told her as they began to ascend the stairs. "Not much, but it's home I suppose." He took a key from his pocket and opened the door. Marie walked inside curiously. As Jason closed the door behind him, she twirled around and smiled angelically at him. His throat instantly tightened and he felt his face flush.

"May I have a tour?" she inquired sweetly, inwardly chuckling at the effect she always seemed to have on guys. Jason nodded mutely, and then coughed and tried to regain his composure.

"Okay, so this is the living room. TV with cable, couch, sofa, window facing west. Through there is the kitchen. Down that hall is first the bathroom, then my room, then the spare room, which you can use. Feel free to look around if you like." Marie nodded happily and then began to explore. She worked from the bedrooms to the kitchen. Jason didn't notice Marie slip something up her loose, billowing sleeve. "What'd you think?" he asked brightly when she returned.

"It was alright," Marie replied cheerfully. Impulsively, she seized him in a hug. "Thank you for letting me stay here, and I apologize for the inconvenience," she said quietly in his ear. He awkwardly returned your embrace.

"No problem at all... Hey, what are you doing?!" He shoved her away, but it was too late. The knife she held was already caught in the back of his shirt. Pushing her away consequently pulled the blade all the way down to the bottom of the material. The sliced shirt fell down to reveal his pale skin...

and two black wings folded tightly against his back. Jason looked down incredulously as a thin line of red appeared from his shoulder diagonally down his chest. The knife in Marie's hand clattered to the ground and she stepped backwards with a dark expression.

"So you are a fallen angel," Marie accused. "Fallen angels don't have the ability to hide their wings. I guess that's just one con to being under the enslavement of a manipulative demon."

"Enslavement? Demon?" Jason spat back at her. "Don't talk about things you don't understand, angel." He snapped his fingers and his appearance instantly changed. Bloody streaks appeared in his hair, and the pupils in his now blood-colored eyes turned into slits. His clothing changed to a close-fitting black leather vest over a thin black shirt. His pants were loose black jeans and he wore black combat boots and black leather fingerless gloves. His wings unfurled, magically going through the shirt. A powerful fallen angel stood before her, looking ready to fight.

Guardian angels were peaceful by nature. They had limited offensive power which could only be well-used when their charge was threatened. However, it was certainly more useful to transform herself rather than continuing in her mortal form. The simple white dress became a tight white t-shirt and a short gold skirt over white shorts. Her boots were white and covered her legs all the way up to her thighs, gold buckles holding them together. She wore a gold bangle on her left upper-arm and her wings were pure white. A golden halo materialized over her head, completing the angelic attire.

Jason looked good and ready to tear Marie to pieces, but seemed to suddenly change his mind. "You know, I don't have time for this. Seriously, a guardian angel is not worth my time. Go back to heaven and send someone worthwhile to fight me." He folded his wings and leaned casually against the wall. Marie knew this was good luck at its most obvious... if she'd go back to heaven. But Marie had a pretty good idea of what awaited her there. She wouldn't take that chance.

"I won't go back," Marie declared, balling her hands into fists and adopting a fighting stance. "It's either fight me or walk away. I don't intend on going back to heaven. I don't plan on joining you either," she added hastily, "so don't even try." Jason stared at her.

"What are you rambling about? Go!"

"I won't!" she replied adamantly.

"Yes, you will."

"You can't make me."

Jason punched the wall, leaving a deep fissure. "I feel like I'm arguing with a little kid!" he snarled. Marie remained quiet, seemingly shocked into silence by the damage Jason inflicted on the wall. "Just get over yourself and go back! Did my remark wound your pride that much?"


"Bull. You guardian angels should really learn how to lie. I mean, that was pathetic," Jason said, exasperated. Marie scowled and looked at the ground. Guardian angels didn't often lie directly to people. It was no wonder they weren't all that good at it. If a guardian angel could lie well, there was most likely something wrong.

"Why do you want me to go back so much? Is there something you plan to do while I'm gone?" Jason shook his head innocently. Marie decided to try a trick one of her charges had once shown her. Using her powers, she teleported directly in front of him and then used her wings to propel herself at him, pinning him to the wall with her arm crushing his windpipe. Apparently, this sudden violent move had taken him by surprise. "What are you planning? What are you here for? Tell me NOW."

"Lucifer..." Jason choked out, "told me... kill James Young... follow guardian... back to heaven..." He grabbed at her arm, trying futilely to remove the crushing weight on his windpipe. Marie's eyes narrowed as she processed the information.

"Why does Lucifer want you to go to heaven?" she asked finally.

"Don't know... I swear!" he gasped as Marie applied more pressure. "I'll... I'll ask..." Suddenly, his eyes glowed demonic red - the sign that a fallen was communicating with Lucifer. After a minute or two, the glow dissipated and he was once more conscious of the lack of oxygen. "Said... He said... PLEASE LET ME BREATHE!"

Marie grudgingly backed off. Jason collapsed onto his knees, his chest heaving as he took deep, gasping breaths. He unsteadily stood up, bending over with his hands on his legs and the dark tips of his wings drooping to the ground.

"Okay," he began, once he caught his breath. "Here's how it goes. Mind you, you'd better appreciate this, since I risked my position to question the Fallen for you. Anyway, you already know about Lucifer, once the most brilliant angel, conjured some rebellion and got sealed away in hell. Well, apparently, when I get to heaven, I'm supposed to steal some powerful stone, kill some angel, and that'll free Luc." Marie stared at him in mixed shock and horror.

"Heh. Definitely not going back now," she murmured, running a hand through her hair. "Okay, thank you. That was all I wanted to know," Marie told Jason, and began to walk off, folding her wings and adopting her former appearance.

"Hey, hang on, is that it? Just an 'okay, thanks?'" Jason exclaimed, storming after her. "Did you not hear me when I said I risked my position to get that info? You owe me, angel, and if you won't go to heaven, you damn well better find some other way to pay me back." Marie paused and turned around to look at the upset fallen.

"Um, okay. I owe you. But I will decide where and when and how I fill that obligation. Understood?" Jason nodded his agreement. Neither of them realized it, but it was a unique moment in history when a guardian angel and a fallen angel came to an agreement. Neither of them realized that the alley cat perched outside realized it either.

'Perfect,' it thought, golden eyes flashing. It leapt off the windowsill and followed the blonde down the street. However, it wasn't long before its sharp ears picked up another set of footsteps beginning to take pursuit of Marie. Before the unknown pursuer could see it, the cat underwent a major transformation. Orange fur became black feathers, legs became wings, and a muzzle became a beak. Within seconds, the cat was a crow. It launched itself into the air and began aerial pursuit.

It discovered that the second set of footsteps belonged to Jason. He had on a form-concealing black trench coat over a black t-shirt and baggy black jeans. His hair and his eyes had returned to normal, but his expression was undoubtedly malicious. The crow screeched in panic when it saw a black dagger materialize in Jason's hand.

'What kind of fallen angel lets a guardian angel walk away unscathed?' he thought. 'Guardian angels are too trusting.' With all the strength he could muster, Jason threw the dagger, his aim sending it hurtling perfectly between her shoulder blades.

Cawing loudly in alarm, the crow dove down and caught the dagger inches from Marie's back. The guardian angel whirled around in alarm, her frightened gaze following the crow's descent to solid ground. There was a quiet clink as the dagger hit the pavement. The crow turned a beady black eye onto her, and then to Jason when he caught up. Marie's expression instantly turned angry.

"What was that?" she snapped. "My God, why do all fallen angels have such a freaky obsession with killing? You couldn't even wait 5 minutes!" Jason just shrugged indifferently.

"It's in my nature, I suppose," he stated blandly. "But I would like to know how you got that thing to save you. My aim was dead on."

Marie looked at the crow again. "I didn't have anything to do with this bird," she said stoutly, kneeling down. "Where do you come from, friend?" she asked the crow quietly. To her surprise, its form shifted, grew taller, and became human... But not human. The being was androgynous, with auburn hair cut at the chin, and clad in dark blue loose clothes. No facial hair was visible, but neither were discernable curves. But before either angel had a chance to speak, the shapeshifter introduced itself in a voice just as androgynous as its appearance.

"Hey. I'm Lontel, and obviously, I'm a shapeshifter," it said bluntly. Jason rolled his eyes. The shapeshifter continued. "I was just wondering if you'd listen to what I have to say." It had a salesman-like tone to its voice... Marie scowled and Jason folded his arms in annoyance. Before they could respond, Lontel continued. "How long has this battle gone on, between good and evil?"

"Eternity," Marie and Jason responded in unison. Lontel nodded, a smug smile beginning to form.

"Exactly. And how many innocent people have died because of it?"

"Does it matter?" Jason shot back.

Lontel rolled his eyes. "You only say that because you're evil. But how many on your side have died, too? It matters how many lives are lost in this needless war. It keeps going on, and people keep dying. It will never stop until this constant battle stops. And when will it stop?" Its grey eyes flashed silver with the intensity of its words.

"Never," responded Marie solemnly. "But that is just how it is. The battle is necessary, and never-ending. It will continue raging until time itself ends. Neither side will ever truly conquer, but we keep fighting for those moments when we can live in peace."

Lontel quickly cut in. "But don't you see? The battle is NOT necessary! Why does it continue when both sides know it will never end? The efforts are futile, and you both know it. Why keep killing for no real reason?" Its words came quicker, its voice rushed and excited. "There is just no point for all this death and destruction. Stop fighting! Let the two sides coexist in peace. Learn to live together; eliminate this fruitless war."

"Yeah, that's all well and good for heaven," Jason interrupted. "But think about what you're asking of hell. Live in peace? That's completely against the principles of being evil. Why would we want to live in peace? Death and violence are part of what makes us up. You're lucky I haven't killed you yet." He glared at the shapeshifter with an analytical mahogany gaze. Lontel stared at him for a moment, as if pondering its answer.

Finally, it said, "Think about it this way... Good and evil will combine, forming a power greater than anything you've ever seen before. Evil won't exist, but neither will good." It smiled coyly. Both Jason and Marie still looked at it with open skepticism, but a little of the animosity had vanished from their expressions. Lontel saw victory just beyond the horizon. His plan would surely go off without a hitch. Yes, Lontel was always the optimist. "So," it prompted, "what do you think?" Its smile was rather amused at the blank look that both angels gave it. "Well, will you help me?" it prodded gently.

Marie decided to take the initiative. "We won't be biased against you. We'll let you explain this more fully..."

Jason interrupted. "But keep in mind, shapeshifter, we're not promising anything." Marie nodded her agreement. Lontel just continued smiling, a slightly eerie smile that sent a chill down Marie's spine. The first part of its strategy had already gone off without a hitch. Both guardian and fallen had agreed without hesitation. That was one step to bringing them together.

"Thank you," Lontel said gratefully. "And see? You've already started to prove me right. You've both agreed, twice, without any animosity."

Marie quirked an eyebrow. "Pardon me, but this is a special case. If you don't already know, Mr. Lontel, I am severing my ties with heaven. I am not truly a guardian angel in rank anymore." Lontel blinked, suddenly having to wonder how this new factor would come into play.

"Well, I don't think that matters. You, Miss Velancia, are still a manifestation of good, just as Mr. Cendrin is a manifestation of evil." Jason stared at the creature.

"Hey, hold up. First of all, how in hell do you know our names? Second, if you're looking for manifestations, why not try to get God and Lucifer to be best buds?"

Lontel sighed, as if it was talking to a small child. "I've done my research, sir. That's how I learned your names. And neither God nor Lucifer have actual souls that the Stone -"

"Mr. Lontel!" Marie interrupted angrily. "You never mentioned souls! What exactly do you need souls for? What is this stone? Mr. Lontel, when we let you explain the situation, we expected you to explain it fully. I am reconsidering my decision to remain unbiased." The shapeshifter fidgeted uneasily.

"I truly am sorry, Miss Velancia. Let me explain. There is an ancient prophecy. It states that when a paragon of each good and evil die unnaturally within the time of a full moon, a window opens when the battle of good and evil can cease, and when the two forces can peacefully combine. This window lasts from the deaths to the next solstice or equinox. That would be the autumn equinox, tomorrow. In order to accomplish this goal, two powerful souls, one of each good and evil, must be willingly sacrificed to the Stone of Damara. Once the sun rises the morning after the equinox, this chance will be gone forever. According to my research, God and Lucifer are both extremely powerful entities. God has no even remotely mortal soul, and Lucifer's soul is no longer recognizable. You two are both powerful enough to fulfill the prophecy. Think about it. There will never be another chance. It's now or never."

Since Lontel had launched into its explanation, Marie and Jason had just watched with silent, veiled expressions. The heat and emotion that the shapeshifter spoke with had successfully convinced them. The two angels shared a determined look. In unison, they said, "We'll do it." Lontel beamed at them.

Three hours later, at exactly 1:00 pm, both angels had transformed and were preparing to sneak into heaven. Lontel had even shapeshifted into an androgynous archangel, serving as their escort. Of course, Marie was the only one out of the three with the ability to peacefully open the gate into heaven, so she flew ahead, at the front.

It wasn't long at all before they reached the golden gates. Lontel had to work to hide the awe on its face, but Jason openly displayed his sickened expression at all the purity and light. The other two had bound him loosely in chains as if he was a prisoner sentenced to trail before the Council of Seraphim.

Marie approached the gate and placed her hand on the latch. Her hand glowed with a warm, white light, and the gate swung open. The group entered and went their separate ways. Marie took Jason towards the Judging Level of heaven. She took her time since Lontel was ascending to the level above that one, the upper-most level of heaven - the Level of Secrets. The plan was for Jason to provide a distraction, a full-blown attack on the Seraphim. Guard would be relaxed on the top level, allowing Lontel to get by. Normally, any unauthorized angel discovered on that level was killed on sight - no questions asked.

Marie and Jason ascended quietly to the Level of Judging. To seem truthful, Jason hissed and lunged at a few of the passing angels as they ascended. After seeing the (feigned) fury and hatred in his blood-colored eyes, most avoided the couple. But the real action came when they finally arrived before the Seraphim. The six-winged angels were bathed in fire and too bright to look directly at. Marie respectfully gazed at the ground.

"I would like to state that this fallen angel killed my charge and attempted to kill me, too. I assume he is an important angel to Lucifer and I got away on sheer luck. An archangel captured him to bring before you." She looked at Jason and gave him a slight shove. "Anything you wish to say, fallen?" Jason looked up at her with reproachful red eyes.

"Yeah, I do have something to say." Summoning up his strength, Jason unfurled his wings and lashed out his arms. The chains snapped like string and the links scattered. Marie jumped back in earnest surprise. She thought he would just drop the loose chains. He caught her off-guard by breaking them. Metal clinked violently on the floor and Jason, praying that he could handle this, quickly manifested a sword and jabbed it straight through the nearest Seraph's wing. The sword instantly melted and Jason's hand was scalded, but he paid the physical pain no heed. There was torture worse.

With a shout, he aimed a punch right at Marie's chest. She took the shot and pretended to pass out. Jason grabbed her by the waist, spread his dark wings wide, and flew off. In an instant, all of heaven was in an uproar, archangels winging their way to the Judging Level, healer angels flying among them to mend the Seraph's wing.

Meanwhile, Lontel stood in awe before the Stone of Damara. The stone appeared to be a neutral grey, but flashed brilliant colors whenever Lontel's perspective changed. The shapeshifter walked up to it, reached out its hand to touch it...

and was rewarded by a sharp sword slicing its hand clean off of the wrist. Crimson blood pooled on the ground. Angrily, Lontel whirled on the guardian archangel and snapped his neck. The dead angel collapsed onto the crystalline floor. As the shapeshifter reformed its hand, it didn't notice the stone flash suddenly pitch-black, making its surroundings seem to glow. But by the time Lontel turned around, the stone had returned to its neutral color.

At the deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, a black fissure split the ocean floor. Unholy flames spewed out of the crack, and suddenly the water turned black.

Lontel hurriedly grabbed the stone and pocketed it, quickly shifting into the form of an eagle. It spiraled down past the many levels of heaven, slowing only when it caught sight of the dark blur that was Jason, fleeing from the archangels. Lontel let out a loud screech, drawing the fallen angel's attention. He quickly joined hands with Marie and both angels vanished in a flash of white light. Feeling ecstatically triumphant, Lontel flew down, out of heaven, and to the pre-arranged destination - a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean.

Emerging from the clouds, Lontel was shocked to see that it was already dark. Neither angel had mentioned anything about time differences. But the shapeshifter decided not to worry about it. After all, they must have assumed Lontel would've guessed it.

Lontel landed in front of the two grinning angels on the dark beach and quickly resumed its archangel appearance. It dug around in its pocket and pulled out the now shimmering Stone of Damara. Colors swirled within it, giving it the appearance that some giant storm raged within its shell. Lontel placed it down on the ground and stood back. The final step was for the sacrifices to chant a spell under cover of darkness. Marie began.

"Of the side of good, I offer my power, heart, and my soul. I -"

She didn't make it to the second line. Her throat tightened and her eyes widened. Jason stared at her, and then followed her horrified gaze. Then he too choked out a gasp.

Gleaming red blood dripped off of a shining black sword, held in a pale hand. The hilt was black as midnight, with two decorative grey rings wrapped around it and an onyx was pressed into the bottom. A blood red inverted pentacle shone near the blade. The silver bladeseemed to be wrapped in dark flames at its base, and the sharp edges gleamed dangerously. The angel it belonged to was crowned in pitch-black hair that reached his shoulders,the tight-fitting black clothes, andthe breath-taking set of 6 obsidian wings gave even the black sky and dark ocean a pale glow. His eyes glowed a demonic red and his expression was cold. At his feet lay Lontel in a pool of blood, cut up beyond recognition.

Finally, Marie and Jason saw the Fallen Seraph Lucifer in his entire glory.

Marie took a frightened step backwards, her glowing white wings poised for flight. The only thing keeping her from fleeing was the stone, and its incomplete ritual.

Jason collapsed onto one knee, head bowed in reverence, his red bangs covering his eyes. Even if Jason and Marie's combined power could eliminate both Lucifer and God, that required completing the ritual. In the time that took, both angels would share Lontel's tragic fate for attempting it.

Lucifer walked slowly to Jason, his gait graceful and purposeful, his eyes flashing like a predator's. "Get up, servant," Lucifer commanded. The mere sound of his voice chilled both angels to the core, sending tremors of fright coursing through their bodies. Jason quickly got to his feet and stepped back, beside Marie. The Fallen idly flicked blood off his blade, crimson droplets spattering the ground. "What do you two think you're doing?"

Neither angel responded. Although no anger was in his voice, Lucifer's timbre resonated with an eerie frigidness that frightened any coherent thoughts out of their minds. The ocean was silent, as were the birds and animals around them. Lucifer's mere presence commanded fear. Jason realized that communicating telepathically and beholding him sealed weren't even worthy of being called shadows of the real thing.

Marie found the feeling to be the polar opposite of standing before the Council of Seraphim for the first time. Instead of being bathed in holy warmth, he brought an onslaught of icy fear.

The realization of the fear he instilled brought a cold smile of amusement to his face. It had been too long since he had walked among others.

Lucifer took a step towards them, and felt the fear escalate. "Let me ask again... What do you think you're doing? Answer me." The demand was crisp and blunt. Although the fear of speaking was intense, the fear of refusing was greater.

"We were fulfilling the prophecy of Damara by giving up our souls to its Stone," Marie whispered. "Mr. Lontel told us that it would eliminate the battle between good and evil... so no more lives would be lost." She expected the words to flow easier as she spoke, but each syllable was just as difficult as the first. In fact, as she finished her explanation, his mere presence frightened her back into silence.

"It told us," added Jason, sounding a lot calmer than he felt, "that our souls combined would create a greater power, where good and evil would cease to exist." He waited for Lucifer to comment, but the Fallen just continued staring coolly at them.

There was a frigid silence in which Marie and Jason tried in vain to get themselves composed. After the tension in the air seemed to become too much to take, Lucifer finally spoke, in the same calm yet icy tone.

"So you two took it upon yourselves to try to change the future of this universe on a whim." Marie and Jason both instinctively tensed, as if preparing to take a physical blow. Lucifer, however, didn't move. The words kept coming. "At the advice of a shapeshifter you had just met minutes previous, you both decided it was the best course of action to cause some magical merge with consequences neither of you thought of." His gaze, if possible, became even colder. The angels cowered before his sudden anger, but his words had just reminded them of what they still had to do. Marie resumed her spell, but in the silent tongue of upper-ranked angels. Lucifer didn't seem to notice. He continued speaking, his tone growing angrier by the sentence.

"I don't suppose either of you knew Lontel's past. Well, let's just say this. It was an angel once, back when I was the most glorious Seraph in heaven. It was a lowly angel, always looking up legends and myths. Well, apparently, it abandoned heaven to join my ranks when I rebelled. But Lontel found my cause not to its liking, so it left. It wanted to go back, but God, furious at being abandoned, refused Lontel entry. He cursed Lontel with immortality on earth, so it came back to me. Obviously, I wasn't going to let that sniveling little..." His words suddenly ceased, his eyes locked on Marie, glowing furiously.

The guardian angel instantly stopped her spell, stumbling backwards. Lucifer's wrathful gaze fell on the Stone, which was pulsating with a gentle white glow. Some of the angelic light within Marie seemed to have dimmed. Lucifer's expression turned bloodthirsty.

"I wouldn't do that if I was you, angel," he said, his voice cutting through the air like a sword of ice. "Have either of you been listening to a word I've said?!" For the first time, Lucifer raised his voice in fury. The ground itself seemed to tremble in fear. "Have you ever wondered why this war began?! It's all about balance! Balance! The fight is necessary. Lontel didn't give you all the information. He didn't tell you the whole prophecy. It was written as a warning. If the steps were carried out, everything would cease to exist. There would be nothing. The world will cease to thrive. Life will be mechanical and unmotivated. Are you both listening?!" he roared. "God and I are polar opposites, manifestations of each good and evil. When the stone unleashes its neutralizing power, both of us will be destroyed. Lontel was using you both to get revenge on us, to make itself a neutral power, one of the most powerful in the new world that would be created. And no one would be motivated to challenge him! Don't you see? There would be no peace, no freedom. There would be nothing!"

Marie and Jason stood in shock as the Fallen explained vehemently. As he spoke, the air around him seemed to distort with the intensity of his words. At the end of his tirade, the angels couldn't speak. They stared in disbelief. Lucifer ran a frustrated hand through his hair, letting his bangs swish over his forehead. Neither angel could truly believe that Lucifer told the truth about what the consequences would've been if they'd gone through with it, or why Lontel had wanted that kind of outcome. But why would Lucifer bother telling them if it wasn't true? And... why tell them at all?

"Lucifer," Jason began, his tone slightly confused. "It's not that I'm not grateful... but why did you explain all of this to us?" Why not just kill us? Or destroy the stone?" Lucifer considered the fallen angel for a quiet moment, thinking about his response. A sly smile flickered briefly on his lips.

"The stone is beyond anyone's present power to destroy. And you two... I still might have a use for you. Now, Jason, Marie, return this stone to heaven where it needs to stay." He looked at the two, but they didn't move. "Now!" Jumping in surprise, Jason and Marie both grabbed the stone and winged their way back up to heaven.

The Stone of Damara was carefully replaced in the Level of Secrets in heaven. When they returned to the deserted island, they looked at each other.

"You still owe me, y'know," Jason said after an awkward silence. Marie grinned and nodded.

"My time, my way," she replied. "I should get back to heaven... I think after all of that, heaven needs to know what happened." Jason nodded his agreement.

"I should get going, too. People to kill, lives to ruin, y'know." (Marie scowled.) "So, we're enemies again. Hope to fight you soon." He punched her lightly in the shoulder and grinned. A reluctant smile showed at the corners of her lips. They held each others' gazes for a long moment... Then, wordlessly, both angels flew off.

Meanwhile, a tall, black-haired, pale-skinned, copper-eyed man dressed in black looked down upon a pile of rubble from a collapsed building. With a smirk, he turned and walked away towards the heart of New York, his gait graceful and purposeful.