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The Third Man: Chapter 3 "Quid Pro Quo"

Balthazar shirtless
Title: The Third Man
Author: Luna (aka Luna_del_Cielo on lj)
Fandom: Supernatural/Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Pairings: Balthazar/Buffy
Summary: "They’re called ‘servants of heaven’ like it’s something honorable. Like there’s something good about being someone’s slave, someone’s lapdog."
Spoilers: BTVS: Season 5, SPN: Season 6 “The Third Man” and eventually the entire season
Rating: T
Warnings: none yet

Chapter 1
Chapter 2


Balthazar looked up in alarm at the new voice, curious yet apprehensive by the cheer in the man’s tone. That is, if he was a man at all. Releasing Kali, he took a step back and peered critically at the newcomer. He didn’t appear particularly impressive with his highlighted brown hair slicked back and his average looks. Even his clothes were unimpressive, just simple jeans and a tan jacket. He was like an ‘everyman’ that could blend into any crowd.

And yet…there was something about him. Power radiated slightly from the man – not as impressive as Kali’s aura but still significant. His amber eyes glowed and his lips were curled into a secretive smile.

“I’m always happy to get along with others, particularly in bed,” Balthazar joked with a leer in Kali’s direction. If there was one thing he had learned from watching the slayer was the advantage one had if your enemies underestimated you. Flirtatious and meaningless conversation was always helpful in that regard.

The man smirked and began walking down the stairs while Kali glared daggers at Balthazar. He descended slowly, as if he was weak, and immediately wrapped his arm around Kali. Balthazar was quick to notice the subtle way that Kali supported the man in standing.

“A goddess with an angel?” the man said lightly with a sly smile. “Now wouldn’t that be amusing.”

Kali gave the man a sidelong look of annoyance. “Hilarious,” she commented dryly.

Balthazar laughed because it was a moment that he thought he was supposed to but he wasn’t quite sure why. “So, just what are you, mate?” he asked. “Pagan? Demon?” He felt like a pagan but Balthazar couldn’t be entirely sure.

A single brow rose. “And that is the million dollar question, now isn’t it?” he stated drolly. He waved a hand. “Come on, let’s have a seat.”

Kali and the man departed the foyer through the right-hand doorway and into an exquisitely designed –and immense – room featuring blood-red walls and gold-colored furniture. Several couches and armchairs were upholstered in gold fabric and the scattered tables appeared to be made of solid gold. A long rug extended over most of the uncovered floor and was a deep black, dark as space, spotted with miniscule golden dots that numbered in the millions, if not billions.

Such a peculiar rug…as Balthazar stared into it a sense of disorientation flew through him. The golden dots appeared to glow and suddenly his vision narrowed in on just one golden circle, magnifying it in his eyes. It shimmered a moment before it showed an image of someone…the slayer herself.

She was in a dark, dank looking room filled with metal shelving, numerous boxes and jars, and a myriad of random human things (knick-knacks, they called them?). Balthazar’s breath caught in his throat as he realized this was the first time he had seen her since her fall from Heaven. Her golden hair was swept back and—wait, had she…why, she had cut it! It was above her shoulders now and his wings involuntarily twitched at the sight – he found it quite adorable. Watching her, he saw her begin to grapple with a gnarled mummy hand, finally succeeding when she stabbed it with an iron dagger.

He smirked at the conquering image before it faded and the golden dot shrunk as his vision returned to normal. Losing his balance, his hand braced against the wall and he looked up to find he had two observers.

“Bloody hell, I should probably give up my liquor,” he remarked lightly as he regained his footing.

Snorting in disagreement, the man fell back into an overstuffed love seat. Likewise, Kali took a seat next to the man and motioned for Balthazar to sit across from them in a plush easy chair. “Liquor? Thought good little angels weren’t allowed to drink,” the man commented.

Balthazar said nothing. Let them think what they will. All he needed was information and he was gone. To her.

“What did you see, angel?” Kali inquired curiously as her eyes searched his expression.

“A very decadent Liberace-style decorating scheme.” Balthazar grinned. “Very nice, I must say.”

She frowned. “This rug was once my swaddling clothes and is tied inextricably to the souls of living humans. Only those connected to a human can use it to see someone.” Her head cocked to the side and the man gave Balthazar a sharper look. “So I ask again, what – or rather who – did you see, angel?”

Stiffening, he gave the two of them a heavy look. He had never experienced pagan magic before and he found it interesting – although confusing – that a mere pagan could have such a powerful artifact. Research had informed him that Kali was the ‘Goddess of Eternal Energy’ or some rubbish like that. He could understand why she would own such an artifact but had no idea how she would have obtained such a thing.

“I saw nothing but tacky decorating,” he replied in a cutting tone. He’d be damned if he ever led a pagan know about Buffy. The girl constantly found trouble as it was, he certainly didn’t need to help her out in that department.

Twin tiger snarls echoed through the temple in warning as Kali’s black eyes bore into his.

“Now, now,” the man said with a toothy grin and a wag of his finger. “You are a guest, Balthazar. Be a good little boy and maybe we can all play nice.”

Eyes narrowing, Balthazar judged the man again. “Just how do you know my name?” After all, he had a new vessel. No outsider should be able to recognize him.

The man snickered in amusement and leaned back against the couch. “Uh, let’s see…A few months ago an angel ‘died’ in Sunnydale, the most active Hellmouth of the western world – the same day the slayer Buffy Anne Summers was resurrected and Sam Winchester jumped back into the hole – locking Lucifer and Michael into the Cage with him.”

Balthazar breathed in a sharp intake of air. Yes, the Apocalypse hadn’t gone as planned. He had heard his brethren communicating about it while he watched Buffy in her heaven and attempted to prevent her kidnapping. Yet, he had not put two and two together. These events were connected somehow, clearly.

“Peculiar, isn’t it? And now there’s an angel asking about the one once known as Gabriel, who everyone knows is dead. Gabriel, who had faked his death and adopted a new identity. I suppose you’re doing the same, right?” the man asked.

Sitting across from couple, Balthazar searched the man’s eyes. Using his full angelic senses he felt out the man but couldn’t quite place him. Less powerful than Kali, more powerful than an average supernatural creature, and carrying just a hint of familiarity…just who was he? “Yes, I am,” he replied briskly.

Kali laughed. “No pagan god in this day and age is as desperate as Loki was long ago. You will find no one to help you.”

“Gabriel had pagan help?” Balthazar’s nose crinkled in slight disgust. It was hard enough to him to ask for meager help from the creatures he once used to battle long ago, back when they began stealing his Father’s worshippers. But Gabriel? One more powerful and more deadly than so many of the angels? He couldn’t believe it.

“Of course,” the man answered, his lips twitching. “Don’t you know your Norse bedtime stories? Loki was poisoned and dying. Of course, unlike what the Eddas tell you, Gabriel approached Loki and made a deal – he would release the ancient one’s spirit in exchange for his supernatural body. They blended their magics, pagan and heavenly, and Gabriel merged into Loki, and the true Trickster’s spirit ascended.” He paused and cocked his head. “Or is it descended?” He shrugged. “Wherever Purgatory is.”

“So in order to hide from my brethren I must merge with a pagan?” Balthazar surmised. Then he winked at Kali. “Does this involve any ritualistic sex?”

Alright, while sometimes he used inappropriate statements just to make others underestimate him, he was being almost honest about his desire. All the things once forbidden to him were finally his for the taking! Including sex. A beautiful and holy act…something he would experience for himself, if he was lucky…

“No,” Kali and the man snapped in unison. The man wrapped an arm protectively around his lover. “So why do you want to hide, anyways?” he asked.

“It is personal.”

The man smiled. “Hey, you’re the one wanting our help. So entertain us with some gossip, angel.”

“The Apocalypse has thrown Heaven into chaos. I thought I would get out while the getting was good,” he answered simply.

The man gave him a knowing look but then shrugged. “Whatever you say,” he trailed off significantly. “Although I know for Gabriel it was a bit more complicated. Guy couldn’t stand anymore of that dickish behavior upstairs with his Dad and brothers fighting. Instead of dealing with it, he took off so he didn’t have to witness anymore deaths.” The man’s voice wavered slightly towards the end and Balthazar looked up in interest as he continued talking. “Of course, he realized towards the end what really mattered. Humanity. Kali.”

Surprisingly, the intimidating goddess blushed slightly.

“So he stopped being a coward and faced Lucifer. Only thing is, he wasn’t a match for big bro and he bit the big one.” The man’s amber eyes averted, but beforehand Balthazar glimpsed a melancholy look.

Balthazar couldn’t figure out the conflicting man before him. The one who was not human, not angel, yet not quite pagan either; the one who explained Gabriel’s story so sincerely and with so much emotion. There was only one possible answer, but that answer was moot. Gabriel was dead.

Wasn’t he?

“Gabriel?” Balthazar answered softly.

The man gave him an impish grin, snapped his fingers, and suddenly colorful balloons fell from the ceiling, almost filling the room to capacity. “Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!” he boomed out in an announcer’s voice.

Kali let out a sufferable sigh and rolled her eyes. “I am retreating to my chambers. I find this one to be tiresome.” Her eyes roved over the two of them and a muscle twitched in her cheek. “Perhaps it is a family trait,” she remarked blandly as she exited the room, gracefully pushing dozens of balloons out of her way.

“Gabriel?” Balthazar repeated in bewilderment.

He spread his arms out. “In the flesh!”

“But…you…where is your grace?” Balthazar asked in an appalled voice.

A troubled expression flitted over his features before he smoothed them out. “All gone,” Gabriel answered in a controlled voice. “Luci killed me, just like I said.”

“But how…why…?”

Gabriel clucked his tongue. “Kali. That night she bound my blood to her. Turns out being blood bound to a woman of her stature carried a much better severance package than Dad’s.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning she resurrected me using my vessel’s body, Loki’s body with Loki’s powers. But, she couldn’t bring back my grace. Kali doesn’t have access to that level of power.” His jaw tightened. “And now, neither do I.”

By examining Gabriel’s face it was clear the angel – former angel? – was distraught. An angel’s grace was their entire being, what blood was to a human and so much more. To be without? Balthazar could not imagine the phantom pain of missing what one once had.

Gabriel raised one eyebrow. “So trust me when I say you should really think this through, Balthazar. I remember you from the days before I left Heaven, back when you were a good little soldier.” He squinted at his brother. “Weren’t you in the same garrison as Uriel? And—” Gabriel cut off his words in mid-sentence as realization dawned upon him. “And Castiel,” he added almost smugly, proud of his critical thinking skills. “So that’s where you got the idea, huh?”

Laughing softly under his breath, Gabriel shook his head. “Can’t say I’m surprised that Castiel became somewhat of a trend setter. Of course, if he had wanted to maintain his powers he would have faked his death, like I had. That way no one knew I was gone and no spell was performed to cut off my supply from Heaven.” He gave Balthazar an approving nod. “You were very smart to do so.”

Balthazar remained silent. Gabriel wasn’t too far off the mark but he certainly wasn’t going to tell the complete story. They may be brothers but Balthazar had not seen him in two thousand years. The truth was a benefit Gabriel had not yet earned.

Gabriel shrugged. “Listen bro, I’m still recovering from, ya know, the whole death thing. Thankfully Kali realized, better later than never, that she is in love with me” –he grinned – “and I’m staying here until I adjust accordingly to my new limitations. I don’t know how much help I can be. After all, it’s not like we have access to any dying gods, now do we?”

Balthazar nodded, but then Gabriel’s eyes glinted with knowledge as an idea came to him. “Actually, I take that back. Maybe I can help you.”

Hope swelled within Balthazar. “Truly?”

Gabriel gave him a sly smile. “Certainly…with a bit of quid pro quo, anyways.”


A/N:
Except some SunnyD action next!

References:
*In Hinduism Kali plays dual roles of both the Divine Mother and the Goddess of Destruction. Her role, as I see it, is partly to see the ‘big picture’ of the world and the fates of humans. More of my thoughts of Kali and her personality can also be found in my other fic, ‘Living as Lenore’! ;)

* Bal’s vision of Buffy is real-time and takes place in Season 6 “Life Serial” where the geeks play pranks on her and at this moment she’s struggling to sell a mummy hand.

A very decadent Liberace-style decorating scheme.” Balthazar grinned. “Very nice, I must say.” – Season 6 of spn featured Bal living in a house that the Winchesters referred to as a Liberace-esque pad.

*In Norse Mythology Loki was punished for killing Baldur and sentenced to be tied to a rock and have a venomous snake essentially drip venom on him for eternity, while his wife Sigyn struggled to catch as much venom as possible in the bowl. Many ‘fanon’ accounts of Gabriel choose this moment as to when the two beings merged/Gabe took Loki as a vessel.

*Gabriel was killed in Hammer of the Gods, season 5. Beforehand Kali swiped droplets of his blood and bound him to her so that way he couldn’t escape and she could reveal to the other pagans that angels could be killed. In my head, this is the perfect reason why Gabe could be brought back!! *wishes the spn writers would think of the same thing*

*Castiel said that he and Balthazar were friends and had served in war together. Uriel and Cas were in the same garrison thus I presume Bal was as well.

Comments

( Those Who Hollered — Holler! )
auntmo9
Jun. 19th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
Enjoying this so far, especially with a bit of Gabriel
( Those Who Hollered — Holler! )

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