I Don't Believe We've Met
Castiel remembered his rush through Hell very clearly as he did the same through Heaven. The scenery wasn't the same but there were so many similar monsters that he could hardly tell the difference. He could feel the decay inside himself as he flew. Beneath him Heaven crumbled, angels were fighting strong but slowing down at increasing rates.
He watched as the wave of life passed him by and shot ahead. It climbed through the levels of the holy land and set off blasts of energy and fire in its path. Cas kept his eyes forward; he knew if he looked down he'd end up going to help. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing but it'd result in their imminent demise regardless. Angelic knowledge told him he needed to see the Father; he needed to talk to God. The human in him screamed in protest, how could he possibly see himself as worthy enough to speak with a God? He hadn't even really believed in it until more recently, it was astounding.
Dean had told him a long time ago that if he ever found proof of a God he should share it. Cas wasn't sure how far past sharing he was, Dean went through Hell with him, was that enough proof of a God or proof against it? If Cas weren't what he was and where he was at that moment, he might've said Hell's existence was obvious proof that God did not exist. And thoughts like that were what made him nervous as he soared over a long stretch of a broken battlefield.
He dodged different energy attacks as they sailed through the air, not even bothering to identify if it was demonic or a stray angel shot. God was somewhere up ahead, somewhere in the seventh Heaven and from what Cas understood he was just passing through the fifth.
Heaven was different than Hell and yet very much the same all at once. The dimensional space that each took up was far larger than what was originally seen. Parts of Heaven could overlap in the same spot; for example the human souls that resided within it could roam any part of Heaven that was open to them. Except there were only a few placed that overlapped with the portions angels occupied. And the angels that humanity would see were not the fighters; they were the peaceful, and the ones who'd sing in a choir. The soldiers and warriors were everywhere else.
Something above rumbled and at first he could only see the buildings, magnificently crafted and enormous buildings. Cas waited a second but nothing happened. His skin started to crawl, what could that have been?
Another crack of thunder echoed from on high, it was coming from the seventh. Castiel was getting closer but he still wasn't sure what was causing it. His stomach twisted.
An explosion above tore apart ancient walls, bridges and roadways made for the occupants. A tainted energy surged down with the rubble and debris. Castiel clenched his jaw.
Lucifer was awake.
Lightning and shots of grace followed the explosion, along with a wave of air, and power that burst past him. Cas' wings weren't anywhere close to giving in but he had to brace his arms in front of his face. A major fight had restarted up there, someone was duking it out with Lucifer. And as he tried to make out who it was, someone somehow familiar was hurdling toward him from the highest echelon of Heaven. Cas didn't know him, he couldn't have, and yet he found himself rushing forward. Whoever this was, they were his older sibling. Whoever it was, they were coming for him.
Whoever…? No, he knew him.
"Cas!" The angel shouted and full force collided with him. Castiel panicked for a second, his wings flapped awkwardly, but his mind caught up with him. He wasn't in any danger and the arms of his brother were tightly wrapped around him. "Look at you, all grown up!"
A soft blanket draped over his face blinded him but he knew someone was holding him. Castiel struggled to see them, an infant's mind unable to understand that the cloth wouldn't move for him without help. When it was finally out of his way he saw a new face.
"You are special," his brother smiled and wiggled a finger above him, Cas stared in surprised awe. At the time he had no way of knowing or understanding who or what he was, but he did know he liked Gabriel's face. It was different and new, no one had held him like that before and no one had a face like that.
Gabriel's finger tapped the tip of his nose and Cas scrunched up, another new thing. He would have focused on it longer but Gabe's face scrunched too, his brother's face could move! Castiel hadn't seen that before, he thought everyone looked the same all the time. It was amazing and it was so exciting. Gabriel was the first real interaction he had, the first real moment he felt loved.
And in turn Gabriel was the first one he loved, too.
Angelic memory was an astounding thing. Cas squinted a little and even scrunched his nose a bit; it couldn't be the same guy, could it? But then who else would it be?
His brother mimicked his expression before breaking into another grin, "Gabriel?" Cas asked hesitantly, hoping his instinct was right on that one. "You're Gabriel, right?"
"Even knows my name," Gabe leaned back and got a good look at him, "Baby bro I am so impressed with you! You made it!" He ruffled up Cas' hair, a gesture he was semi used to but it helped him understand Sam's hatred of it. "Been waitin' on you for a while, kiddo. What took you so long?"
"Aging," Cas smiled anxiously, "Gabriel, you were the one that put me on Earth, aren't you? Why didn't you leave anything for me that'd tell me what was going to happen? Or my parents at least? I've been completely lost."
Gabe's face shifted from complete excitement to serious in a split second. He gave Cas another hug, this time a little tighter. "To tell you the truth, when I put you down there I had no idea I wasn't gonna come back for you." He leaned back again and really looked at Cas' face, his eyes were so torn apart that Cas nearly regretted asking. "I got the low down from Dad after I got back; Lucifer was sprung from his cage and given a sample of everything in Heaven. They made a disease that'd kill us all off,"
"So that's what it is…"
"Yeah, Dad said you're the cure and then he froze Heaven and Hell to make sure you had enough time to develop." Gabriel smiled anxiously this time, "You know I would've come back for you if I could've, right?"
"Of course, Gabriel." Cas swallowed his fear and his pride, the pieces of him that wanted to scream at them for leaving him that way. "But… I don't know how I can help, I just learned all the angel stuff but I have no idea how to use it. Things are just coming to me…"
"You'll get used to it, but for right now let's go talk to Dad, he'll be able to tell you what to do." Gabriel hooked an arm around his and took flight again. Cas was surprised at Gabe's speed, autopilot had gotten him pretty far but Gabriel had total control over his wings. "I don't know much about all this, nobody tells me anything around here." Gabriel complained jokingly.
"I know the feeling," Cas tried to keep up, silently grateful that Gabriel was holding onto him.
Gabe was quiet for a bit, something that Cas already knew was slightly uncharacteristic of him.
"I'm sorry," Castiel broke the silence between them, "You're sick and you went through a lot, you don't deserve the kind of blame I was putting on you." He smiled when the archangel looked back at him, "Thank you for saving my life, Gabriel."
He smiled wide in return, "Call me Gabe, kiddo."
"Gabe it is, then. Can I ask you a question?"
Cas liked how fast Gabe could rebound from feeling sad/guilty to upbeat in a matter of seconds. "I thought I'd run into more demons up here, what's going on? Where'd they all go?"
"Dad pushed most of 'em back through the gate in the third Heaven. I'm sure you noticed that a few broke back in."
He remembered how many he'd run into in Hell lurking outside that same gate, some insanely powerful and enough of a threat that Death had got in contact with him. Cas smiled sadly to himself, the Horseman that said he wouldn't hold Cas' hand still watched out for him, despite Cas' fuck ups. "It's kinda funny, if He hadn't pushed them through that gate I could've been here much faster."
Gabriel snorted, "Well how was He supposed to know you'd go through Hell first?"
"Uh… He's God? All knowing?"
With Gabriel in the lead Cas reached the upper echelons of Heaven faster than he'd anticipated. The air was thick and everything shook with the weight of an overpowered fight. Cas looked around and spotted his Father resting against a wall looking as tired as he felt.
"Castiel?" He looked up and a smile pulled at his lips, "I knew you'd be beautiful, I didn't expect this though."
"Cute, right?" Gabriel smirked and slapped Cas on the back, urging him forward.
Cas approached quietly and knelt down next to Him, "Uh… Father?" he wasn't entirely sure how to refer to God, the term 'dad' was still reserved for John Winchester. "Gabe said you think I'm the cure to this poison, but I don't know how to help."
"I made you to be the cure," He corrected but before he could continue the wall blew apart and two angels burst through.
Cas' wings immediately covered his Father and Gabriel's shielded Cas. The amount of grace and power being thrown around made Castiel's head burn. He looked up at the beauty that was the brawl between his two eldest brothers.
Michael swung a sword with amazing speed but never seemed to be able to hit Lucifer. Actually it was almost painful to watch, Michael's strokes were slowing down marginally each time he moved. His face was contorted in pain and Cas realized that the poison was coursing through him faster, even possibly made to be more potent for the archangel.
Castiel opened his eyes for the first time and saw nothing but light. He didn't know where he was or who was around him, but all the same he cried. He was lying on his back on some hard surface before the first touch of his life; his brother's hands supported him before wrapping him in a blanket.
Cas blinked as the brightness of the room dimmed and he could make out someone's face. It was the first face he'd ever seen and it showed the most neutral expression. "Welcome to the family, little one. You won't come to know this for some years but my name is Michael, I'm your eldest brother." He carried the newborn to a separate room; Cas was trying to see more of his brother's face. "Father has named you Castiel." Michael stated as he laid Cas down in a bed. He peered into the crib for a moment before departing with the news.
Lucifer wasn't so much fighting ferociously as he was waiting for Michael's strength to peeter out. It started off as a battle on equal ground but the longer it took the less there was left of Michael. Gabriel arched his wings and dove into the fray before Cas could even wrap his head around it.
"That's enough!" Gabriel shouted and tackled Lucifer and held him down, "This has gone on long enough."
Michael stepped down to the ground and stumbled, his legs starting to give out on him. "Gabriel, this isn't your fight." He was still able to hold up a strong voice, for whatever that was worth.
"Castiel," God reached up and touched Cas' face, turning his attention back. "Gabriel is buying you time, you must feed your grace into Heaven before Lucifer's poison finishes us all off."
"What happens when I do that?" He asked anxiously, "Will their strength return immediately?" He doubted it when he asked but his Father's hesitation answered it for him instantly. Castiel looked back toward Gabriel who was losing his battle with the poison nearly as quickly as Michael was. Lucifer would kill them.
Castiel didn't fully understand the concept behind the devil, who's fault it was that he was evil in the first place, or anything involving his origin story. However he did know that Lucifer would kill two of his brothers regardless if Cas could dissolve the poison in time.
When he'd been in Hell he hated the idea of it and why God would have created such a thing in the first place. He questioned the wisdom of something all-knowing, the strength of an all-powerful being, and the benevolence of the supposed embodiment of its definition. Castiel understood better now, nothing could ever be all three of those things at once. He didn't doubt that God could be all three, but He'd have to sacrifice one to be more of the other at a time. In his current situation, Cas knew that God wasn't as all-knowing as He could have been.
Castiel rose to his feet and turned to see Lucifer send Gabriel hurdling through the air and past the busted wall.
He'd been asked to leave the immediate area, take advantage of Gabriel's distraction and go to remove the poison. It meant leaving Gabriel and Michael to die, possibly even God Himself.
Castiel couldn't do it; it wasn't in him to be that kind of person. Abandoning family and friends for a greater purpose hadn't ever been part of his programming.
"Hey asshole!" He shouted just before launching a ball of energy and scarring Lucifer's ear, indefinitely getting the lord of darkness' attention. "I don't believe we've met, I'm Castiel Winchester."