Alexiel has a talk with Hatter. Hatter is unexpectedly drawn in. Shameless wingfic. Drama, I-3

Character(s): Alexiel, Mad Hatter

There were times when Belial really rather envied the Evils their wings. Not
only did Kurai’s wings, for example, come out in lovely stained-glass colors, but they
were also smooth.

Belial’s wings, like the wings of any angel, were feathered.

And most of the time Belial quite liked hir feathers. Feathers made for expressive
wings, and loose feathers made an excellent remote vehicle of power. It
could not be denied, however, that feathers had some unavoidable drawbacks,
one of which was to clump sadly when wet.

Few things looked as utterly ridiculous as an angel, fallen or otherwise, in the process of washing
its wings.

It was for this reason that Belial liked to have a bathing room to hirself
when washing hir wings, and se took some trouble to ensure that se did, even in the current, unsettled spatial conditions that made it uncertain where any door would go or who might come through it. So
hir moment of frozen shock, when the door opened, someone having not only
seen it through the illusion Belial laid over the entry but also gotten past it,
was, perhaps, understandable.

Belial stood and dripped, having just dunked hir wings for the last time, and
stared at Alexiel’s smile. A dispassionate corner of hir mind noted that
Alexiel probably hadn’t even noticed the spells on the door.

"Hatter! I hadn’t realized anyone was in here."

Belial tried not to grind hir teeth. "One was just finishing," se
said, stepping up out of the water. "Don’t let one interrupt you."

"Not at all." Alexiel slid into the water with a pleased sigh. "It
can be nice to have company."

Belial made a noncommittal noise, wondering a bit grumpily how Alexiel had
retained Setsuna’s obliviousness. Se dried off briskly, and then had to
pause, caught in a dilemma. Hir wings were sodden. Se couldn’t close them,
like this, it would be extremely uncomfortable in that annoyingly disembodied
way of closed wings. They would take hours to dry, if se just left them
wet. But one of the only things that looked sillier than an angel with soaking
wet wings was an angel shaking its wings halfway dry. The hopping and shimmying
involved came close to embarrassing hir even when se was alone. Which se
was most definitely not, at the moment. Belial set hir jaw and made for
hir robe. Hours it was.

"You’re not going to just leave your wings like that, are you?" Alexiel
sounded startled, with, Belial had to admit, some justification.

"One is going out in the sun; they’ll dry nicely there," se answered

A snort came from behind hir. "Don’t be silly, you should at least brush
them out, or they’ll dry itchy." There was a splash. "Here. Sit
down, and I’ll help." Alexiel padded past hir, pushing Belial down
onto a pile of towels with a casual hand on hir shoulder. She rummaged
an oiled feather comb out of the bathing room shelves while Belial sat, nonplussed,
and came back to settle down behind hir.

"You… but…" Belial sputtered, taken completely aback by the
offer. No one touched hir wings, that was… Se started as Alexiel laid a steadying hand on the upper curve of
one wing, starting at the top. A shiver ran down exquisitely sensitive
skin at the touch. Se looked over hir shoulder, eyes a little wide. "What
are you doing?" se asked, softly.

Alexiel glanced up, and made a wry face. "I’m not trying to seduce you,
Hatter, calm down. I’m just helping you groom your wings. That’s all."
She turned her attention back to preening the feathers. "Haven’t you
had friends help comb your wings before?"

After a long moment, Belial murmured, "No."

Alexiel’s movements stilled, though she didn’t look up again. "For a long
time, neither did I," she said, at last. And then added, "Try to
relax enough to let your other wing down, at least. You’ll cramp up if you
hold it up wet the whole time."

Too flustered by the unaccustomed ripples of sensation under Alexiel’s fingers to come up with a good argument, Belial slowly lowered hir other wing.

Alexiel’s hands were gentle, careful fingers easing the wet feathers apart and brushing them dry. "One was not expecting you in one’s bath," Belial observed, just to fill the quiet around them.

Alexiel chuckled. "Well, I thought I was heading for my own, but this is where I wound up." She sighed, fingertips stroking damp feathers back into place. "The land has a mind of its own, no question."

Belial’s mouth quirked. "As does much of the Creator’s work. A pleasing irony one feels."

That came out rather more husky than se had intended.

Alexiel patted the wing she was combing and Belial could hear the smile in her voice. "There. I told you you could relax." Belial shuddered as Alexiel’s hands stroked over hir still-wet wing and Alexiel paused. "Or maybe not. Come on, now, Hatter, that won’t do." Her hands slipped up to Belial’s bare back, kneading gently around hir wings.

Belial bit back a gasp. Alexiel’s hands were so warm se was sure there was magic in them; it felt like her fingers were sliding into Belial’s back, under hir skin, stroking hir body into a different shape. "Alexiel…" Se made to draw away, alarmed at the idea of what the Organic Angel’s power could do, even to hir.

Alexiel’s hands slipped up over hir shoulders, holding her there effortlessly. "Shh, now. It’s all right, Hatter, I’ll be careful; promise. Wow you’re knotted up back here! You need to take better care of yourself, you know."

The casual, thoughtless caring that Setsuna’s life had left Alexiel with might amuse the erstwhile Lord of Hell, but Belial had yet to figure out just how to deal with it. So, once again, se dealt with it by doing nothing.

Of course, that left hir draped over a bathing room bench, increasingly limp and breathless, while Alexiel’s hands moved over hir wings, her power stroking over Belial’s slow and gentle and intimate.

Hir strategy could, perhaps, do with a little revision, at some point.

"I’m glad that you took care of him, you know," Alexiel murmured. "Lucifer," she added when Belial made an inquiring sound. Her rich voice trembled with amusement. "Even when it meant you were trying to bring my incarnation under your power."

"He is one’s lord," Belial whispered. And then more sarcastically, rallying a bit, "One is overcome with gratitude for your merciful forgiveness."

Alexiel laughed, breath ruffling Belial’s feathers, making hir shiver. "I didn’t say a word about forgiving you for it. I just said I’m glad."

Her honesty, the truth of her words, transfixed Belial and se made a soft, breathless sound as the thrill of that blunt truth twined around the sensation of Alexiel’s hands on hir wings.

"Ah. So that’s what it is with you, hm?" Alexiel stroked Belial’s wings open and smooth one last time and stood. "And you hide your taste for honesty behind a face of trickery."

Alexiel’s perception made Belial gasp and se didn’t resist when Alexiel bent over hir and lifted hir face in warm hands. "Perhaps I see why he calls you a foolish butterfly." Her lips pressed against Belial’s forehead. "I’ll remember." Her stern beauty slid into a wry smile and Belial blinked. "And I meant what I said. You should take better care of yourself."

Belial couldn’t find words to answer and Alexiel brushed gentle fingers through hir hair and left hir, breathless and undone on the floor of the bathing room.

Belial sprawled in an armchair, staring at the feather se played through hir fingers.

Normally, hir feathers were a very pleasing black. Se had never decided whether the fallen angels’ wings had turned black in an act of will and allegiance to Lucifer or whether it was simply the Creator’s taste for gratuitous symbolism, but se had always found it satisfying to match hir lord.

Now, though, the very tips of them glowed with vibrant light. As far as se could tell, it was a perfect match for the color of Alexiel’s wings.

Se looked like hir wings had been dipped in Alexiel’s color.

Belial held the feather up to the light. "I do not belong to her," se told it. "I belong only to my lord."

The white edge of the feather glinted like a smile.