If you were faced with Him in all His glory

What would you ask if you had just one question?

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[with] who stand before the throne
In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. A few epochs later the hairless apes pranced onto the scene to the tune of a painfully slow evolutionary two-step, and one-two-three the first angel tripped and fell face-first into an alternate realm of his own design. They said the physical fall itself was over a year long, and that his landing opened holes in the earth that swallowed entire villages.

Such were the days of yore, when sacrifices paid with blood and there was a God in Heaven. Today the halls of the seven Heavens shone a little brighter, the radiance of Creation and Grace burning just a little hotter; the Heavenly equivalent of a sunny day. Somewhere higher than the stars, in the lofty reaches of the Seventh Heaven where only the three Seraphim and their Lord walked, the door to the throne room was shut tight. Nobody entered the seventh heaven much anymore. Once it had been the sometimes playground of the archangels, where even the lesser angels dared to peek on occasion, but three Graces didn't fill the vast halls quite well enough, and it lay empty more often than not. They crowded the other six, leaving the throne room's beautiful antechamber deserted.

A presence stirred in its deeps, blinding light pouring from behind the golden door, and something too enormous for words and too perfect to look at moved through the impossible halls. The light flared out like trumpets and transubstantiation; after long moments the arcing beams started to fall inwards, coalescing in what looked like the figure of a man. It was action like He hadn't taken in a very long time.

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The sensation of God's passing wouldn't weigh at all on the lesser angels, as they had never seen the Father with their own eyes, so naturally as Gabriel lurked in solitude as he so often did since the days of Lucifer's Fall, he was the only angel in the area that felt like something had been taken from them. The golden streets were lined with his younger siblings, all passing by to continue their daily activities, while Gabriel had to squeeze his immense Grace in a too-small crevice between two of the glittering citadels. He'd curled up in a ball for several moments, begging that it not be true. Not again.

When he finally pulled himself together, he fled to the Garden first, rather than the sanctum that had so long ago been his playground. Joshua had no answers for him. Talk to your brothers, he'd said. Gabriel's wings had mantled. He'd done his duty as the Father said- his orders had come from Joshua directly, however, so God, Himself, had not spoken to him since Lucifer's untimely fall. He wanted to shout, to back Joshua against the trees he so dearly loved and demanded to know why God was giving him the same wide berth that the other angels did. Because he didn't fight? Because he never picked a side.

He didn't, however. He just turned and fled to the Seventh Heaven, only to find Michael already there. His wings pulled in tight in respect, the lower two twitching with apprehension. The feeling was stronger here. Were he human, he'd probably be retching at the sense of pervasive wrongness.

The last time he'd spoken to Michael, they had fought. To call it a fight would be an exaggeration, however, after what had transpired previously. Gabriel had demanded to know if Michael truly believed that Lucifer deserved his fate and Michael had struck him down. Gabriel had retreated to his own devices, the only angel who seemed to mourn Lucifer's Fall.

Now he stood behind Michael, mourning a different presence. "Joshua wouldn't tell me," he said, voice low and dangerous- he wouldn't threaten Michael, but the idea that God would leave them made him tense and agitated. "Is it true?"

It was preposterous to think otherwise- he could feel it. Stupid questions beget stupid answers, but he wanted to hear it from his eldest brother's- the Firstborn, the Lion- lips.

"It is," came a tense voice from behind them. Raphael was hot on his heels, a flutter of wings announcing her before she landed. She'd felt the absence immediately, wings convulsing violently as she stared into nothingness, just feeling. There was no going fetal, no begging, just stoicism and finally gathering herself enough to take flight, leaving Anael and Sandalphon confused in the lower rings.

In her haste she had skipped the Garden altogether, certain that she wouldn't have been able to tolerate Joshua's insolence without getting violent. Going to the throne room uninvited was forbidden - the closest Raphael had ever come to breaking a rule - but the door was hanging on its hinges and easily opened. When she came to her brothers now her eyes were hollow, dully horrified at finding the throne empty and highest Heaven abandoned. Her very Grace was hissing, pulling into the sucking vacuum left by His absence.

"The Merkabah is empty." She glanced at Gabriel once, meeting his eyes soulfully, before turning to their elder. She didn't need to ask. The question was written on her face. Raphael trusted that Michael would be honest with her- since the Fall, she'd been the only one to attempt understanding, as limited as the lesser angels were and as wounded as Gabriel still was. She needed his honesty now.

It was, really, too much to hope for. That his siblings wouldn't have known. Of course they would have noticed. He was nearly sick with the sheer emptiness his Father's absence created. Gabriel's appearance stung- the painful reminder that he'd only just recently done the deed that surely sent their Father away. How dare Gabriel ask whether Lucifer deserved it. Hadn't he seen him? Heard him? Michael loved Lucifer exponentially, but this.. His twisted fate had made it almost unbearable to even look at him anymore. And Gabriel had questioned it.

Even with Raphael's swift, angry arrival he didn't turn to them. They already knew; there was no point in avoiding the truth. The Throne Room was empty, and that was that.

"He'll return when he sees fit." Now he turned to them, his own wings still as ever, even if the core of himself quivered beneath it's growing stone cover.

Gabriel wouldn't- couldn't- accept that. With a rustle of wings, he entered the chamber himself, uncaring of the lack of courtesy, of the fact that Michael would likely be offended by his audacity, but audacity was what he was good at. He stood in the middle, staring up at the endlessness of it all. Like most things in Heaven, it could be whatever was most comfortable, but it was without its God, so it was cold, empty, like a tomb.

"Father!" Gabriel shouted, repeating the word over and over again, at first tearfully desperate like a child and then furious. "If you won't talk to anyone else, talk to me. What messages am I supposed to send to our family? What will we do?"

Michael's words weren't good enough. He hadn't gotten answers from God in a long time, so only answers from the Old Man, himself, would suffice.

my icons are failing me ;_;

Raphael was a fundamentally introverted creature. Deprived of the close bonds enjoyed by the three other archangels, she learned first to suppress emotion and second to enforce brutal order in her younger siblings by either discipline or bullying. She didn't know how to express feeling as freely as did Lucifer or Gabriel, and although she envied them their liberty it was necessary to maintain control to avoid the Morningstar's reprehensible fate.

For the first time in all her long and lofty existence, Raphael's strong jaw trembled. The enormity of the Loss swept over her at once and in a rush hot tears welled in her eyes. Raphael was numb to Gabriel's flight, staring at her big brother's tensely pained face- expecting something to change. Please, please, tell me it's not true. Tell me what to do. But Michael was lost in his own pain. Any other creature wouldn't have noticed, but Raphael knew her brother well enough to spot the thread of tension and weight of despair dragging him down. It stood out enough that she backed off a step, tearfully frightened, her normally impassive face contorting into desperate pain. "No. He's not coming back, brother. God doesn't go back on His decisions."

The throne room. Raphael stumbled uncharacteristically, almost falling to her knees. When had she come here? Had she even spread her wings, slowly taking flight? Had she taken leave of their brother? She couldn't remember. But Gabriel was there, was shouting at the golden throne (already tarnishing to bronze in its emptiness) like something from her worst nightmare.

"Gabriel," she said too harshly, seizing her little brother by the shoulders. The pain on his face and tears in his eyes drove something sharp and white-hot into a part of her too vulnerable to accept. Their family was falling apart in her icy hands. Once he was facing her, caught in her iron grip, she faltered. A hundred cruel reproaches died on her lips as she met his stricken gaze. They had lost so much. "...Brother."

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