0 Years-Old: Deliverance
It's the same deal for all living things, when something has gone right for too long there's bound to be something coming your way. Everyone gets that little niggling feeling in the base of their brain, something saying 'Be cautious.' But there's another part that tends to approach the surface faster, louder than the warning. It's that sense of invincibility; the idea that things are forever looking up, nothing can stop you. Most beings understand that the false sense of security is exactly that, false, fake, and self-created. The beings that know mortality know what's at the end for them, that moment they stop breathing marks the end of their string of good luck.
But the immortals? When their minds get that feeling that nothing could go wrong, it can be fatal. They become arrogant, sloppy, and ultimately open the door for something so much worse.
In Heaven everything was running as it should, the angels were committed to their work as they'd always been but something had changed. The number of angels was a constant thing, never growing and very rarely decreasing. So when a new one came to be all attention was paid the tiny, flightless seraph. A new angel was an omen, a warning from the fates that the winged warriors would need this one little thing in particular. Change was coming.
However the guardians saw nothing heading their way, invincibility blinded them and their assumed immortality became a plague on the Heavenly host. Change followed a new born, each angel believed it to be good news that would dawn on them any day from that moment forward.
Gabriel snuck through the halls of the highest of Heaven's hierarchy; the fledgling was nestled in the safest place until the change it brought was clearer. The archangel Michael was as arrogant as the rest but a cautious leader nonetheless. He had high hopes of the news the infant would bring but he didn't want to toss the poor thing into the ranks so soon. The tiny seraph had to be trained, after all.
Michael's playful brother, however, had no intention of letting things be. Gabriel managed to get into the infant's room and easily swept the bundled angel into his arms. He looked at the headboard that read 'Castiel' in fancy gold type. Gabe pursed his lips and nodded at the choice, he had no qualms with it. The blanket fidgeted in his arms and he looked down to gently move the fabric from Cas' face. The shade of blue that blinked up at him was surreal, almost matching the oddity that was the amber colour of his own eyes. "You are special," Gabe grinned as he wriggled a finger above his newest family, "you even get a gender, look at you."
The baby squinted for a few seconds as his big brother booped his nose softly, Gabriel couldn't help but mimic the boy's face. Cas' expression suddenly exploded with emotion at the movement of Gabe's facial muscles, he'd never seen anything other than neutral and evidently had no idea it was possible to do anything more than that. Immediately childish laughter bubbled out of him, high-pitched squeaks and gurgling to go with it.
"Shush," Gabriel felt his heart melting just at the sound. This was his baby brother, beautiful, new, and about to cause some kind of a scene. He looked around quickly and curled his lips in; no one was looking. No one knew he was in there. Gabriel smirked and looked down at the bright-eyed boy, "Wanna see something real cool?"
Soon the vast expanse of the earth rested below them, Gabriel stood holding the wrapped little one as secretly as he could. It was an outlook and the archangel was entirely certain that he wasn't supposed to be there, at least not with Cas. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" He asked softly as he held Castiel up to look at it.
Gabe couldn't get enough of the wide-eyed expression his littlest brother made, the tuft of dark hair on top of his head only made him all the cuter – not to mention brought out his eyes. They stood there for a while and Gabriel barely noticed the fluster of wind when someone landed nearby.
"You know I heard the newborn was abducted," the familiar voice of Michael made Gabriel's stomach twist. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, hm?" Gabe could hear the lightest hint of laughter in Michael's tone and knew that his luck hadn't completely run out just yet.
"Michael… hey…" He turned and smiled at his older brother sheepishly, "Uh, yeah, he's right here."
Michael folded his arms over his chest and strolled forward with an amused grin, "We're not supposed to move him, Father's orders."
"Oh come on, what's gonna happen?" Gabriel scoffed and lifted Cas up, letting the blanket drop a little, "Look at him, he's so freaking cute."
"I saw him before, in his bed." Michael stopped at Gabriel's side and watched his two brothers before letting his gaze drift to the earth, "You know, where he looks pretty much the same and where he's supposed to be right now."
"I'll put him back, I get it." Gabriel sighed and shoved Castiel into Michael's arms, "Just hold him,"
"Just once, okay?"
Michael was a little startled at the sudden child in his arms but he held Castiel against his chest all the same. His expression betrayed emotion he wasn't supposed to show and Gabriel could see the little worries in Michael's face, like he was doing it wrong somehow. Michael adjusted his hold gently and looked at the big eyes staring back at him, Castiel had such a happy little face. Cas had no trouble finding his way into his big brothers' hearts. "He's lovely."
"Right?" Gabriel grinned and reached over to take him back, "I got him."
"Right," Michael reluctantly let go and gave Castiel over. The moment felt so quiet, normal, innocent and yet it was the same moment their invincibility evaporated into thin air.
A sweeping cry erupted from the Heavens; fear hit the angels' hearts like a warped two-by-four, rusted nails and all. It started from the very highest point, life drained away like a sickness, all colour disappeared and soon the very soul of the place went with it. It all happened so fast and in the blink of an eye. The base of Heaven's outlook to earth was one of the last places to see it happen, Michael and Gabriel watched in shock as Heaven drained away.
"Run," Michael managed to say and Gabriel barely understood the word.
"I said run," he snapped again and shoved Gabriel toward the edge of the outlook, "Get him out of here!"
"But- what am I supposed to-" Gabe stammered but Michael didn't wait to hear it. The force of his wings as he took off had Gabriel bracing himself and holding little Castiel tighter. "What am I supposed to do with you?" He asked helplessly as he searched the area. All he could think of was Earth, humanity. If there had ever been an angel that adored humanity it was Gabriel, he thought of no better place to stash the infant than with them.
But Heaven needed him, he didn't have time to stop and chat or explain why suddenly there was a baby present where it wasn't before. How long could this little disturbance take anyway? Sure, he could hear the frequencies of 'all hands on deck' so to speak. Demons and the monsters of hell in paradise and all that, but he didn't think it'd be that bad. So what was the harm in leaving Castiel on earth for a few hours?
That invincibility plague had gotten to the best of them.
Gabriel wrapped Castiel tighter and crafted a note tucked close to the infant's body, and that was how he took his little brother to the surface. The first thing that caught his eye as he'd landed was the glint of a classic car, black and in amazing condition. The windows were wide-open, good airflow – it was perfect. Gabe opened the door to the backseat and gently rested Castiel inside, "Hang tight little guy," he grinned at the babe before leaning out and closing the door.
"Hey!" A man shouted from across the parking lot at him, "What are you doing!? That's my car!"
Gabriel took flight.
Earlier that day…
"John, could you go and get some diapers? We're almost out," Mary asked from the doorway to the garage, her arms preoccupied with rocking a few months-old baby, a pale green blanket swaddled around his sleeping self.
John looked up from where he was crafting the newest form of a sandbox base, his hands were sore from sleepily knocking them around with a hammer one too many times. Construction and exhaustion didn't mix well. "Yeah, of course. Same kind as last time?" He wiped his brow and pushed himself up out of his chair.
"Please, they work pretty well." She smiled and looked down at their baby's face, peaceful and quiet. "He's so beautiful, John."
Her husband leaned in and kissed her cheek, "Who's fault is that?" He grinned and gently turned her head to catch her lips the next time, "Love you, be back soon." And with that he was out the door, dirty weekend clothes and all. He knew there were more things the house needed than just diapers, Mary's biggest concern was Dean so he didn't really care that he didn't have a list. More freedom in shopping that way, just the way he liked to do it. Neither of them were thinking clearly lately, either. What with the crying and keeping them up at night, John hadn't gotten a lot of sleep in the 3 months since Dean was born. Noisy little guy, that one.
John meandered through the grocery story, humming some Metallica to himself as he went. Life was good, despite his exhaustion he couldn't really complain. He had the love of his life, his son, his car, a nice house, and even all of his hair. John really couldn't believe his stroke of good luck.
And then he saw some stranger closing his car door. "Hey!" He shouted as he left the store, nearly dropping his bags. A little bit of yelling scared the guy off but John couldn't have seen what he thought he saw. Wings? Had that man flown away on massive wings? John ran to his car and looked around the outside, nothing was damaged so he looked inside and his heart stuttered.
A baby peered up at him, beautiful little face blinking and staring away at him. John stared back for a good while before he dared to put his groceries down and open the door. That stranger – with no wings, that was a sleep deprivation hallucination – left an infant in the back seat of his car.
John reached in and lifted the little bundle out of his car, looking around again with a hint of panic edging into his posture. "Whose baby is this?" He called out, the start of next hour and a half trying to find the person missing a blue-eyed child. No one had misplaced or lost their baby and that man – that did not fly away – didn't come back. John bit the inside of his cheek and called Mary, not knowing what else he could possibly do.
"John?" Mary answered a few moments of ringing later, he could hear the soft whining of his son in the background. "Where are you? You left forever ago."
"Mary, something happened and I don't know how to explain it…" he chose his words carefully, not sure how to describe the situation without his wife thinking he kidnapped someone's kid.
Gabriel reached Heaven again but this time he saw more of a war than a home. Hell had burst into paradise and was taking over like the plague it was. His heart stuttered in his chest as he soared past the smaller battles near the garrisons and the lookouts, something in the back of his mind told him to find Michael. He tucked his wings close and dodged past a demon colliding with another of his brothers. Gabriel stayed tight to himself as he hurdled through skirmishes and avoided any real fighting of his own. He had to snap his wings open every now and then to get higher, dive-bombing through the battlegrounds and repeating with whatever momentum he'd managed to create for himself.
He managed to get past the first tiers of Heaven but when he entered the third all he could see was a wall of fighting immersed in a swirl of steam and fire. Gabriel's wings pounded the air hard as he swooped overhead. His limbs were tense, they curled in to keep his core protected as the fire licked at him but didn't get much of a taste.
Finally reaching the higher echelons of Heaven he went to where he knew God would be, and maybe Michael too. The grand doors were open, not very wide but enough to be able to tell that whoever had done it didn't care if they closed it off. Gabriel shoved his way inside only to come nose to nose with a familiar and unfriendly face.
"Lucifer," he breathed out the name as if it were poison in his lungs.
"Gabriel, you don't sound so happy to see me." Lucifer's voice was like silk but Gabe knew better than to consider listening more than he had to.
"How did you get up here?" He held whatever courage he could muster and clung to it like a child. "You're supposed to be locked out."
"Dad and I have been coming up with homecoming details," Lucifer shrugged innocently and Gabriel wanted it to be true, he wanted to believe it but he knew better that that too. He looked around the immediate area and couldn't help but note the dents in the walls, floor, ceiling, and blood splattered in all directions. He slowly stepped around the room, continuing to face Lucifer as he went. His older brother watched with a smile, his wings slowly lifting and becoming more intimidating the further Gabriel moved from the door.
"Sounds like a nice dream," he smirked and swallowed nervously, "but how did you really get here?"
"I flew." Lucifer raised his hand in a sort of waving motion, "All the way up, up, up out of the pit. And now here I am, paying you all a visit."
"Well it's been nice having you, hope your stay was pleasant. Guess you gotta get going though, huh?"
His big brother scoffed softly and shook his head, "Don't be silly, I've only seen two of my closest family so far."
Michael would have undoubtedly moved to find God; his first priority was to keep Him safe. So God was missing, blood all around, Gabriel assumed Michael had something to do with it. Was that blood his?
"Who else have you seen?" He dared ask, his chest thumping a little harder, "Was it… Michael?"
"Gabriel!" Speak of an archangel, Michael shouted at him from the doorway. "Get out of there!"
Lucifer sneered viciously at his brother, "There you are, Mikey. We were just talking about you and I've been playing with Raphael so long I thought you'd never show." His voice was pleasant at first but dropped in tone and patience as the seconds passed. "Now where is He?"
Michael smiled, a tormented little thing, "You were the one playing with him, how should I know?"
"You know who I'm talking about, Michael."
"I'm shocked Lucifer, you mean to tell me you planned this whole invasion and yet didn't plan for where God would be?"
Angry eyes narrowed as Lucifer arched his bloody wings, "He isn't here, where is He?"
Michael's wings stretched and Gabriel could hear the tension in the room, hell he could almost taste it. "Dad went on a little trip a few minutes ago, you missed him." His tone mocked Lucifer but Gabriel recognized it to be his fake high-and-mighty act.
Lucifer didn't buy it either, but instead of asking again he charged Michael full force. And in seconds the Heavens shook, the fight was terrifying and though Gabriel wanted to help Michael, he could barely move his legs. His heart pounded heavily in his ears, his mouth stiff and unable to speak, but Gabriel found he could move his wings. But the only direction he caught himself going was away from the fight each time it crept closer. The clash was thunderous and more than once Gabriel thought he'd be dragged into it, caught in crossfire. He managed to reach the door, legs barely strong enough to hold him. Gabriel couldn't explain it, the pain in seeing his brothers fight like that, the fear of losing even one. It was crippling.
"Gabriel," That voice.
"Dad!" Gabriel turned in a flurry like he'd just been created a moment before, "Dad stop them!" He froze when he saw the state of his Father, just as damaged as he felt and looking weaker by the second. It was then that something an old Horseman once said came to his mind;
'I will reap God one day.'
"What's going on?" Gabriel reverted to saying instead, his heart pounding in his chest like a jackhammer. He wasn't even aware that an angel could be that afraid but apparently it was possible.
His Father barely offered a comforting smile before he shook his tired head, "I managed to force the demons out, most of them are back in Hell where they should have been." The battle on the other side of the grand doors exploded into an indiscernible squall, shaking the very surface of Heaven. "Where's the baby?" His father said next, concern etched into his features. "Where is Castiel?"
"He's…" Gabriel bit the inside of his cheek as he recalled the muscle car and the little town he'd dropped into, "Earth. He's on Earth now, Kansas I think."
"Good, he's all we'll have for a while." God smiled and rubbed at his eyes, a weak breath escaping him. Gabriel couldn't believe the shape He was in, he'd seen God exhausted before but this was different. He was drained and Gabriel would've bet anything Lucifer was behind that too. "I've done what I can to make his life down there more stable, good choice of family."
Gabriel ignored the last part, "What's the fledgling going to do? He's pretty much useless until his grace starts to form, and that won't be for years! Hell, his wings are still developing; they won't even come out of his back until he's like 16!" He panicked as he watched his Father take long, slow breaths to ease Himself.
"Have patience, Gabriel. Castiel will develop and he'll come back to us, and when he does we'll stand a chance." He motioned toward the first levels of Heaven and Gabriel's gaze followed. Everything was a mess, he'd seen it on his way through to the highest level but looking down on it from there was almost too much for him. The place was falling apart, slowly rotting and dissolving with many of the bodies that scattered the surface.
"What is all this?" Gabe could barely tear his eyes away but he did only to see his Father sink down against a wall and growing paler by the second. "Dad! What's happening!?" Not knowing was far more terrifying a thing than Gabriel ever knew possible.
"I'm sealing Heaven and Hell, no angel or demon can leave until Heaven is restored and that will only happen when an angel comes home." He closed His eyes and swallowed thickly, He was starting to slow down. Everything was starting to slow down around them, the first levels of Heaven had already frozen in time and the wave of the seal encroached where they stood.
Gabriel felt panic but he knew that he had to trust God; he had to believe that whatever reason He had it was right. But he couldn't. "Why?" He asked frantically as he grabbed onto his Father's shoulders, it was the first time he'd ever acted that way toward Him.
"Lucifer poisoned us all, Heaven and Hell are crumbling as we speak. He was set free and given the essence of all the beings in Heaven by a traitor among us. He accounted for everyone and nothing that existed at the time of the essence-gathering will be effective against this virus."
"So Castiel is our last chance? How's his grace or essence any different than ours?"
"He was made that way," God smiled at him quietly as they felt their bodies slow, "His grace is different than all of us and once it's fully realized he'll be our antidote."
Gabriel stopped fighting it though his heart raced. If his dad said it would happen he trusted it. Or he tried anyway. But he did manage a smile as he heard the fight between Lucifer and Michael stall. Imagining the two of them staring one another in the face for the next decade or so would be the humour that'd get him through the same time span.
All paperwork and legalities settled, John Winchester looked like a lunatic. Every legal document stated that the child Castiel had been birthed into their family and John was hollering that it wasn't his kid. He couldn't believe how stupid it all was, Mary only had one baby and he was pretty damn sure they'd both remember a second one happening. But according to the systems and all health documents, Castiel was theirs. To figure that out, John had to jump through at least a thousand hoops (he was estimating after the first day), all to prove that someone else had abandoned their baby. But as it turned out he was the father, somehow.
The whole process took a couple of weeks, in that time Mary had been handling two infant boys and while most would think that to be a death sentence when they were struggling with one – it wasn't. Castiel had a sort of calming effect and she couldn't figure out how. Not to mention the fact that whoever didn't want that child went to great lengths to make him legally appear theirs.
"Court finished the ruling," John called as he walked in the door; the exhaustion in his voice was obvious. "No one can figure it out but looks like he's ours." He laughed and shook his head, "Hell, after all the documentation they showed me I'm surprised that it even made it as far as a small court ruling."
Mary sat up from her relaxed position on the couch, one infant sleeping in her arms and the other in a rocking crib in front of her. "You know," She said with a gentle smile down at little Castiel in the crib, "I think he's a blessing."
John was about to argue when he noticed how well rested Mary seemed, "What, new kid's taking care of Dean for us?" He joked as he quietly sat bested his wife with a soft sigh.
"Kind of, yeah," Mary looked up with a little bit of surprise in her face, "He's so calm and easy to handle and, I don't know, he makes Dean that way too."
John figured it was probably just Dean enjoying other baby company but even those words sounded stupid before spoken. It didn't matter though; Mary could explain it any way she wanted to, he didn't feel like arguing about it. He'd spent the last few weeks fighting with legal issues and child custody; he didn't feel like anything really. "So our second son's name is Castiel, doesn't really fit with the current naming scheme-"
"We're leaving it that way. He's named after an angel and I think it's fitting." She protested quickly.
John smirked and shrugged, "If you have it your way you'll end up naming all of our kids."
"Well I'm putting in the birthing effort, I think I should be allowed."
"Fair enough." He kissed her cheek and looked down at the boys fondly, "I kinda like his name too."