Butterflies and Hurricanes

Part 3: Conservation

Part 3
Ch4: Conservation

Jim groaned. His fingers, all of them, pulsed in time with his aching grace, the sharp claws ripped off from his slide through the universe to... He cracked open his eyes.

The dusty ceiling of a barn arched over head, metal panels peppered with cobwebs. He blinked again, and his eyes refocused on the foreground, where a mouth of grinning white teeth shone.

The nephilim attempted to flinch back, but his body weighed him down.

Above the smile, a pair of blue eyes interspersed with gold crinkled.

“You had quite a fall there, sonny Jim. I wouldn’t try to strain yourself just yet.”

“F-father?” the nephilim gasped. “No, you, you-re-”

The body of Jimmy Novak rocked back on his heels. “Yeah, I’m not entirely the angel Castiel anymore. You could probably tell from~.” He waved over his shoulder at the parasitic gold permeating his once blue wings.


The dark haired being patted his cheek. “Strong and clever, just like your parents! I knew you would figure it out eventually. Do your old man proud!”

Jim wrestled himself from the floor into a less than vertical position. “How?”

“I’m more Gabriel than I am Castiel,” the man grinned like a knife wound. “An archangel’s grace is real potent, and using a bit on the memories of a seraph, who had less of his own thoughts to fill a thimble... well, they say a starfish can grow back more than half of its body when all cut up!”

Jim tilted his head. “You are quite mad.”

“As a hatter!”

The nephilim slowly climbed to his feet, three arms clutching at the curtain of reality to keep his footing. “What do I call you?”

“Just call me Cab Calloway, kid.”

Jim’s brow furrowed. “I don’t understand that reference.”

‘Cab’ rolled his eyes. “And I’m sure your mother weeps from shame.”

The nephilim breathed, reordering the wavelengths of his grace, like shuffling a pack of cards. “You are what is keeping the void back.”

“Right in one!”

“Do you know what is happening?”

“It’s all thermodynamics. When an angel dies, their grace scatters to reinforce the firmament of creation. An archangel is a lot of energy, and when that much energy sidesteps out of dodge for too long, the universe tries to fill up the void.” Cab rolled his wings back in a languid stroke. “Then ta-da! You get fun little cracker-Jack prizes like me, trying their best to keep the world from imploding!”

“Do you know where Gabriel is?”

“Nope! Last I saw him, he was sweeping away with that pretty little winged girl who wasn’t from this dimension. Her grace very much resembled my own, which means she’s probably my daughter, and ~ oh! Bad thoughts, Bad thoughts!” he began beating his hand against his forehead.

“Hey, stop it!” Jim said, catching his flailing fists.

The dark haired man pulled free from the nephilim’s grip. “Right, business, yeah. No, I dunno where he is. Not anywhere in this plane, at least.”

A dark thought prodded the nephilim’s mind.

He thought on the strange folds in reality specifically tailored to avoid the notice of celestial beings, which his sister had insisted were a side project he shouldn’t concern himself with. He recalled her poorly hidden joy upon returning home, and the long hours she had vanished from everyone’s senses. He remembered her blushing when Deanna asked if she had a boyfriend.

Jim’s stomach dropped, and six of his hands began shaking. “I believe I know where this world’s Gabriel is.”

“He must return here.” Cab’s manic countenance extinguished under a looming blue cloud of duty. “I am too unstable to bare the duties of an archangel indefinitely.”

Blue met forced hazel. “I must return to my home universe.”

Cab hummed in a parody of thoughtfulness. “To send you home, I would have to divert the grace I’m using to keep the Darkness back. Things will get very, very messy over here.”

“Can’t another angel take me instead?”

Cab closed his eyes and raised a finger. “Hear that?”

Jim listened, but shook his head.

Gold eyes focused to a laser point. “That is the sound of Michael and Lucifer calling every angel, both fallen and not, to help brace the ceiling of creation. Even little Gadreel’s been given right to pass, my, my.”

Cab’s grin broke no humor. “So while an archangel would usually delegate universe hopping to one of the rabble, that option’s not available to us at the moment.”

“Couldn’t we contact one of them?”

“I would just love to see how that conversation would play out! ‘Hey Mike, my sister had the hots for your brother, and accidentally kidnapped him!’ I’m sure Lucy would be thrilled too.”

He cackled, and cut off suddenly grim. “No. If you tell the others, they will send a legion of lesser angels to fetch Gabriel. And if I know myself well, Gabriel will not respond well to being coerced. No, it has to be me and you.”

“I getting tired of hearing people tell me that,” Jim deadpanned.

Cab grinned toothily. “Get used to it kid.”

Jim stumbled into the bunker’s kitchen. The hollow ache of grace being leached from the core of his being greeted him. He was home.

“Mary?” he called. The bunker echoed hollowly, empty.

His brows drew together in frustration. Breathing slowly, the nephilim stretched his senses as far as he could.

Below, Deanna slumped beside her husband’s bed, clutching his cold hand in hers. The seraph’s being flickered in an attempt at comfort, but not longer had the strength to open its vessel’s eyes. The woman’s soul wept in solitude.

Above in the fields outside, a collection of less than human appearing transgenics basked in the sunlight, trying to stifle their worry over their leader’s dying family. Some harbored tiny curls of grace within their bodies, and whispered to their angelic guests optimistic words of gratitude and promises of protection.

There, down the hall near the storage locker, a wrinkle in space.

Jim ran, skidding to a stop beside the anomaly. His claws, still ripped from falling from heaven, dug into the wrinkle. It shuddered amidst his assaulting grace, but held tight.

“Gabriel.” His lips pulled back as he snarled. “I know that you are here, that you have left your own universe for this one. Speak to me, or I shall scream, and all of heaven will heed my call.”

The wrinkle shuddered and pulled back like a curtain.

“It’s not like this heaven is up to doing much, what with it’s batteries drained,” the golden eyed archangel snarked, holding open a door which had not been there a moment before. He stood in what appeared to be an entryway to a five star hotel, complete with chocolate fountain and jacuzzi. A bed, lumpy with feather blankets and pillows, took up most of the far corner.

“They would still be enough to hinder your attempts at living unmolested here,” the young man snarked, shouldering his way into the twisted pocket of space.

“I’m not going back,” Gabriel said, amber eyes cool as he shut the door behind him.

Jim set his jaw, rounding on the celestial being. “Your absence has left a vacuum of power, which your universe is trying to fill.”

“I never asked to be a pillar of creation!” The archangel snarled. “What does it matter anyway? Michael and Lucifer are going to flambé that place.”

“There is a difference between destroying a planet, and crumbling a plateau of existence. Also, the battle between the eldest angels is not assured.”

“Yeah, because it worked out so well for me here!” He flung out his arms. “I died in this universe! I can feel the charred remains of parallel-me’s grace seeping back into the fabric of the world, because even when there’s nothing let of Gabriel, I’m still not allowed to take a break! No, it’s ‘Gabriel why hasn’t Dad spoken to you in so long?’, ‘Gabriel pick a side and kill half of your family!’, ‘Gabriel stop babying the younger garrisons!’, ‘Gabriel, hold the weight of the world on your shoulders!’ Well I’m sick of it!”

He rounded on the stoic nephilim. “I’m happy here! No one’s fighting, and the only one who wants anything from me I would do anything to give! But, oh wait, if I do I’ll burn her existence to a crisp, because that’s how the big man upstairs made me!” The archangel snarled at the ceiling. “Thanks for that one Dad!”

“You don’t sound completely happy,” Jim commented.

“Well at least I have something!” Gabriel threw himself back onto the couch. “So, no, I’m not going back there. They can rot for all I care!”

“From what I understand, what will actually happen to them will be much worse.”

“Well, bully for them!” Power shifted along the archangel’s wings, arching high and threatening. “Why does it even matter to you? That place? It’s not your home. So why can’t you just leave me alone here? I’m not hurting anyone.”

“No.” Realization broke through the buzzing cloud of the half mortal’s mind. “No, you can’t be here either. You’re killing all of us too. You’re killing Mary.”

“You shut your cake hole!”

Jim took a step forward into the archangel’s space. “This universe is also shifting from your presence, Gabriel. In one realm you have left a vacuum, and here you have caused a plague! You are the reason why our grace cannot be replenished, because the universe is trying to compensate for the excess grace added here by your presence! If you do not leave, then every angel here will fall.”

A groan sounded from inside the bed’s nest of pillows.

“Jim?” A muzzy voice sounded from inside the room.

Gabriel turned, golden eyes wide. “Mary, you should be resting.”

The woman rolled her eyes, emphasizing the dark circles beneath. “I’m fine.” She attempted to get out of the bed, but settled for propping herself up against the headboard.

“Sister?” Jim craned his neck.

“Hey bro,” she breathed. “Back from parts unknown?”

“Only temporarily. It is of utmost importance that I return with Gabriel.”

Her eyes closed. “...yeah, I heard. Guess I screwed up bringing home souviners without going through customs first.” She laughed weakly. “So, when are we leaving?”

“Mary.” Gabriel slid to her side, hands hovering over her shoulders, as if they were spun from glass. “You can’t leave here.”

“It’s ok,” Mary soothed, leaning close to the archangel. “You won’t be alone. I won’t leave you, I promise.”

“No, I-” his voice cracked. Gabriel pressed his face into her hair. “You’ll die if you stay in my dimension. You don’t have enough grace to sustain yourself forever away from your universe.”

“I’ll still die if you stay, and I’ll wish I had if you leave. That’s what being mortal is about; picking how you want to spend your limited days.”

“But you are not mortal.”

Mary hummed. “People in my family have a habit of falling for love.”

The archangel pulled away from her, and pressed his face into his palms. The woman reached for him, but he curled in on himself, shrinking from her touch.

“Gabriel?” She tried to lift herself out of the bed again, but the archangel pressed two fingers to her forehead.

“I’m sorry,” he said. Mary’s eyes fluttered, and she fell asleep.

Golden eyes turned to Jim, who hadn’t moved from his spot by the door.

“Fine, you win.” The archangel spread his wings. Just before he leapt into the ether between space, Jim caught the edges of his grace and held fast, letting himself be dragged along for the ride.

They landed back in the barn.

Dazed, Jim took a few steps back from the angel, and leaned against the wall while he caught his breath. The power he had exerted trying to break into Gabriel’s pocket dimension had been extensive, and he was not yet recovered.

Two pairs of more or less gold eyes locked in an electric stare.

The blonde whistled. “Woah, it’s like looking into a tiny fun house mirror.”

Cab stared at the archangel, eyes brimming with sorrowful disappointment. “I’m sure such a mirror would make you appear much less twisted.”

“Ouch, right here, mini-me.” He patted his chest over the heart.

“I am only what I’ve been forced to become.”

Gold met gold. “Yeah, about that, thanks for holding down the fort.”

“Someone had to. I have not abandoned this creation, nor my duty to it.”

The shorter figure flashed his teeth, humorously. “Then you won’t mind if I dump a bit more on you then.”

A silver sword flashed between the archangel’s fingers. Before Jim or Cab could react, it stabbed down.

Gabriel screamed, as he carved out his grace. Arms pulled, prying, tearing at the pillar of light in his chest. His faces screamed as he broke them off by their necks, arms pulled themselves from their joints with crackling bloody tugs. The forests of his wings were burned, and the remaining roots ripped from the firmament of his being, dragging great clumps of grace with them to the earth.

The fragments conglomerated like mercury, writhing, screaming, searching. Like steel filings to a magnet, the discarded archangel’s essence flowed, stuttering, to the next best recipient.

Cab gasped as faces sewed themselves into his flesh, and metaphorical bones dislocated to allow for new limbs to sprout. Blue wisps snuffed out under waves of gold, forced to bend in compliance to the stronger force or be extinguished.

Jim felt disgust crawl along his being, and he gagged at the terrible sight taking place before him. An angel’s grace was their power, true, but it was also their very being. To see it wielded by another angel was the human equivalent of wearing another’s skin.

Gabriel collapsed onto the floor, vessel empty, save for enough grace to fire the neurons and work the muscles at a mortal capacity. He gasped, lungs working out of desperation instead of pleasure.

Harsh hacking sounds, which might have been the jagged remains of broken laughter, cut themselves from the man’s throat. “I couldn’t even just kill myself and throw the plug back in the corner. Nope, I had to try and save the thing that’s Gabriel.”

Cab looked down at the two more-or-less humans, his spiritual frame now towering towards the crest of heaven. Golden wings shifted ponderously, testing the control of new metaphorical muscles and limbs.

The conglomeration of archangel grace lifted one of its hands, fingers poised in a practiced motion it had never personally performed. It snapped, and the hysteric blonde vanished.

“Where did you send him?” Jim asked, unable to look directly at the thing which once resembled his father.

“He was the part of me that loved in all the ways an angel shouldn’t.” Cab’s growling voice shook the windows. He cleared his throat and spoke again, with less declaration. “I sent him where he wanted most to be.”

“To Mary.”

“Yes.” Eyes, with the faintest hint of muddy green nearly drowned by the gold, peered at him. “Would you like for me to send you home as well?”

The nephilim took a breath to calm his grace, and managed to look at the terrifying thing head on. “No. I will see through the task I set for myself. Sam and Dean might still need me.”

“Your resolution inspires much appreciation.”

“I am informed I take after my parents in that regard.”

A complicated wiggle of emotion shuddered down the newly assimilated archangel’s wings, causing his feathers to rattle a half shade closer to blue. “I am pleased that something of what I was remains.”

Something slipped down Jim’s cheek, and he pressed a hand to his face in time to catch the drop of moisture before it fell. He glanced at his fingers uncomprehendingly, and wiped them dry on his shirt.

He looked back at the angel. “As am I.”

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