Title: Interlude: A Ruffling and Settling of Wings
Characters: Gabriel ♂, Castiel ♂
Rating: T" width="32px" /> (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Expletives, blasphemy, crackomatic crackfic of crack, we put the fun in dysfunctional
Notes: Gabriel tries to work out his differences with Castiel. Castiel distrusts his brother's intentions. But, in time, they come to a strange and uncertain agreement regarding the future of Heaven.
The fight Gabriel's talking about is a particular mission Castiel was sent to Babylon for. Details are in part 1.6. Also, Gabriel has a hundred and forty pairs of wings, used to minor comedic effect.
"Cas…" Gabriel leaned in the doorway of his brother's room, looking about as serious as he ever managed to be. "We gotta talk, little brother."
"Have we not been speaking all week?" Castiel looked drily underimpressed.
"No, not like that. Look, I know I just came back from the dead and invaded your new life like the drunk uncle who doesn't go home after Christmas. I'd apologise, but I'm not sorry. I'm having a great time. I'm just worried you're not." Gabriel shrugged, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "It's your party I'm crashing. Tell me what you need to be happy."
"I know you and Kafziel were close, once, and you and I have never been." Castiel stood from where he'd lain, reading, and his wings curled out of his back as he took a deep breath. "I need to know you're not going to start a fight, because I'll lose, and he won't be happy with either of us."
Gabriel blinked and didn't answer right away, studying the lay of his brother's blue-black feathers. "Four? That happen while I was doing porn?"
"That and many other things." Castiel's wings rustled. "Tell me the truth, Gabriel."
"The truth? I know him a lot better than I ever had a chance to know you, but I've got a chance, now. He likes you, and he's got good taste. They like you, and their taste sucks ass, but I'll forgive them an awful lot. And our family's not too thrilled with you, which brings you up a few notches. They're pretty pissed with me, too, but you know that." Slowly, deliberately stepping across the threshold, Gabriel manifested his own wings, hawklike, gold and brown, pair after pair rising out of his flesh. "I won't start a fight with you, unless you try to finish that fight with me," he promised.
"You have wings on your wings," Castiel pointed out, seized by the absurdity of the moment, instead of the sheer terror he should be feeling at the sight of all of an archangel's wings.
"I told him that looked ridiculous. Dad never listened to me. Never listened to any of us, really, and look where that got us." Disgust and disappointment flashed across Gabriel's face, before his eyes settled on Castiel's. "You going to finish that fight with me?"
"It's not my fight. Kafziel thinks I won't have to, because as far as anyone knows, I did finish that fight. He's dead and Hizkiel's missing." One pair of black wings stretched toward the ceiling, pressing and sliding against it.
"An interesting take. To hear him tell it he's missing and Hizkiel's dead. Of course, you know dad." Gabriel snorted derisively and ruffled his feathers until he was down to eight pairs of wings, not all attached near his shoulderblades. "Death… what a joke."
"Which is an excellent reason for us to take heaven, before he decides he misses Raphael," Castiel suggested.
"And you're the apolitical one of us."
"It's not politics any longer. It's survival."
"Welcome to my world." Gabriel snapped his fingers, and a strawberry sucker took form in his hand, accompanied by a disgruntled shout from another floor. "Sorry, Sammy-boy! I need it more than you do!"
Castiel's eyes seemed to drill into him.
"What? That is not starting a fight. He'd worry if I stopped doing shit like that, and you know it, and the last thing we need is a concerned Mount Kilimanjaro. He's fucking dangerous when he's worried."
"Mostly dangerous to himself," Castiel conceded. "About Kafziel… I feel as if I should apologise."
The sucker left Gabriel's mouth with a resonant pop. "For what? He's delicious. Enjoy him. It's not like I'm missing out.
"If you mean apologise to him, then I doubly don't know what you're talking about. He knew what he was getting into. He knows better than either of us." The laugh seemed to start in Gabriel's lesser wings, long before it actually exited his mouth. "You've been stuck in the machine and I just dragged myself out of a few thousand years of drunken frat party and promptly got slightly dead. He's been paying a lot more attention than either of us. If he's not aware that he's committed himself to sticking his dick in a disaster area, I've got some concerns about his mental health."
Castiel took a breath, but Gabriel cut him off.
"And I'm not sure which one of us I'm talking about, so let's assume I mean both of us. All of us. Is he doing the mountain yeti, yet? He should be. I want to watch."
"No, he has not taken that sort of interest in Sam."
"I'll work on that." Gabriel grinned. "So, there's no way to put this that isn't spectacularly awkward, so I'm just going to cut to the chase. I heard you met mom."
"We don't have a mother, Gabriel." Castiel looked confused.
"She who is the source of His wisdom, blah blah titles out the ass?" Gabriel's lesser wings folded away, leaving him with only the four pairs on his back. "Sound familiar?"
"Sophia?" Castiel looked even more confused as he sat down on the edge of his bed.
"That is the lady in question. And I can count the number of angels who have seen her on one hand, and I'm not one of them. Lucifer and Gadreel, though…" There's a contemplative pause, and Gabriel gestured with the forgotten sucker in his hand. "And I can't help but wonder. It's like a bad divorce. Most of us stayed with dad, some of us tried to go with mom, but she wasn't for us. We weren't designed to accept her. Those mud-monkeys out there were. He made us the best he knew how. Then she saw what he'd done, and she helped him make them. Or inspired him. Something. She parted from him, before us, and she came back to him after us, and we're the lesser for it."
"How can you say that? You're an archangel. You're the highest of the high. You're the holiest being on Earth or in heaven." A faint, irrational panic seized Castiel.
"I can say it because I'm an archangel, and I've lived on earth for a couple millennia. Look at us, Castiel. Don't you believe we're better for what we've become? Yet, there are so many more means of thought still open to them that aren't open to us. Not yet. We were once machines, Cas. We were made to serve a purpose, and our purpose has become obsolete, but nobody's turned us off." The tenseness in Gabriel's jaw slid back, tugging his mouth into a slightly unpleasant grin. "Actually, a whole lot of somebodies keep turning me on, again and again. Lucky me.
"Tell me about her?" he asked, wings stretching to hold him up as he leaned back into the doorway.
Castiel's face softened, as he tried to describe Sophia. "I saw her without seeing her. It was Babylon. She was a little, barefoot Babylonian girl. I took her for a shepherd's daughter. She sang to me, and it was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard, but I can't remember the words. There are words that aren't words. She knew why I was there, Gabriel."
"They say she knows everything. That her power is limited, but her knowledge is infinite." A rustle of feathers against the doorframe followed, as Gabriel settled himself. "Tell me why you were there? Kafziel told me, but I want to hear it from you. He said I needed to hear it from you, to understand."
Confusion tightened Castiel's face, for a moment. "I don't— oh." He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, a long string of Enochian pouring forth. "That is why I was in Babylon."
"Who gave the order?" Gabriel barked.
"I don't know."
"But, she stopped you?"
"She didn't stop me. She misdirected me. It's all so clear, now, but I believed it, then. All of it. And she was such a sweet child." Contemplation. Realisation. Acceptance. "Knowing what she did makes her even sweeter, but I do not believe it makes her trustworthy. I was still a pawn, even if I believe she was correct, in her play."
There was a smug pop, totally intentional, as Gabriel pulled the sucker out of his mouth again, to point at Castiel with it. "You got played by a little girl," he teased.
"I got played by a little girl that you call 'mom'." The angle of Castiel's eyebrows indicated he believed himself the winner of this round.
Gabriel was inclined to agree with that assessment, not that he would ever admit any such thing. The sucker went back into his mouth. "So, you think she's just as bad as Dad."
"She kept me from murdering your companions. Our father brought me back from the dead." Castiel's voice was sharp, but not angry. "Yes, she's just as bad as our father."
"Our father whose name you think I don't hear you curse, regularly?"
"I do not curse his name."
"He brings you back from the dead, and you call it punishment. Maybe he just likes where you're going with things." Gabriel shrugged and then re-settled his wings.
"Job," Castiel deadpanned.
"Yes, but he didn't bring Job back from the dead. Just made him wish he was dead." A crack sounded, and Gabriel was no longer leaning back against his wings, in the doorway, but standing almost on top of Castiel, wings stretched back. "Did you ever consider that he likes you best, because you surprise him? We're not supposed to be able to surprise him, but Lucifer was the first to do it. She touched Lucy. I'm sure of it. And he came back and brought jealousy and free thought into our perfect kingdom. Do you think Dad couldn't have fixed that? Do you really think he couldn't have reformatted the rebels? But he didn't. He gave his first children an opportunity to destroy his favourite creation and each other. And then he left. And as far as I can tell, the only thing he's touched, since, is you. And maybe that Chuck Shurley asshole."
"But, why? We destroyed everything, Gabriel. We ruined his plans." Castiel's wings angled tensely behind him.
"No, Cas. You saw through it. Even I didn't; not really. If I'd seen through it, I never would've gotten stabbed like that. Which hurt, thanks for not asking. But, he didn't have to bring me back. I planned ahead. Poorly, maybe, but I did. And if my planning had been poorer, I don't think I'd be standing here. You're the one that wouldn't take the word for an answer. You … you were always a little creative with your missions. You became what we couldn't be, what we didn't have the strength to be, and that's why he keeps bringing you back."
"Ok, look. He made us first, right? Then he made those mud-monkeys out there, and gave them free will. Then he pissed off Lucy by demanding we bow to his new children. What do they have that we're not supposed to? Free will. Yeah, so, maybe I got a little, too. I cut and ran. But, you stayed. You stayed and you showed that an angel with free will was not cursed to make bad decisions. You fought back, when our brothers — when my brother — turned against you and all things good and right. Sure you fucked up a few times, but you tried in ways none of us did. You're his proof of point. Or maybe you're hers."
"Of what point?" Castiel snapped, glaring at Gabriel. "That even we can do horrible things in his name? I think Raphael proved that better than I did."
"No, you intentionally-oblique, wingΓ©d maroon. That immortal beings of profound power can handle making their own decisions." Gabriel smacked his brother between the eyes with the sucker, and they both stared awkwardly at each other for a moment.
"That's disgusting, Gabriel."
"You've had a tongue in your ass, and this is disgusting?" Gabriel squinted and cocked his head. "No, you're right. That's pretty gross. I think your hair's stuck to it, now."
He snapped his fingers and the sucker vanished, immediately followed by an exceedingly-frustrated, "Goddamn it, Gabriel!" from elsewhere in the bunker.
Castiel's glare did not abate.
"What? I took it from Sam, and to Sam it did return!" Gabriel huffed and levelled the only bitchface he possessed at his brother.
"Fine," he grumbled, and licked the sticky spot off Castiel's forehead, with much more tongue and spit than strictly necessary. "Better?"
The glare may have intensified. "I am supposed to take your word for grand metaphysical postulates, while you continue to have the interactional style of a distracted human child?"
"I'm supposed to believe you're Dad's favourite, when you show up naked and covered in bees on the righteous mud-monkey's car?"
"Bees are extremely important, Gabriel. And very friendly."
"The chosen one and his harem of bees. Great. That's going to go over fantastically, upstairs."
"I am unconcerned with what heaven may think of my choices. I have little intention of returning. You're the archangel. I will help you, but I will not lead. I have led. It has never ended in a pleasing manner."
"You know that's probably why he gave you the extra wings, right? Sort of an incentive to take up the torch."
"Under your banner, Gabriel. In your name. I cannot lead." Castiel smiled in sudden realisation. "If he raised me to a seraph, to better do as he intends, then if he meant me to lead, I would stand as your equal, Gabriel. He would have made me an archangel."
"You sneaky little shit." Gabriel laughed. "Fine. With your advice. Come be my right hand, since mine is missing."
"Missing or dead?"
"One way to find out, right?" Gabriel shrugged.
"And if he lives, what then?"
"Then he's my right hand, and you get a step up. Neither of them are seraphim, you know. I did most of the heavy lifting, myself." With a tense look, Gabriel reached out and tucked a finger under Castiel's chin. "Be the voice behind my throne, little brother. Be my voice of wisdom."
"I released the Leviathan. I thought I was the new almighty. I can't even keep the Winchesters out of trouble, and you want me whispering wisdom in your ear?" The words were caustic, intended to burn the awareness of what a terrible idea this was into Gabriel's lunatic awareness.
"Yeah, Cas. I do. Because if it's that damned stupid, one of us is going to notice. But, if it's good, and you don't say it, I may never figure it out on my own. Let's be real, I'm brilliant beyond belief and like six times more powerful than you're ever going to be, but I'm still not Dad. I'm not omniscient, and I don't think that's in my future. You think weird, Cas. You and your bees are the voice of the new world." Gabriel's face was strangely serious. "I'm never going to stop giving you shit, just so we're clear. That's what brothers are for. But, that doesn't mean I don't value your bizarro insight."
"You're insane, Gabriel."
"No, I just play it on TV." Gabriel grinned and finally took his hand off Castiel's face. "Are you in? Are we doing this?"
Castiel took a deep breath. "I'm in. But, we can't do this here."
"Of course not. I wonder if Michael trashed my room, when I left. Ok, 'room' might be understating it a little. We were condensed awesome, to each point of the compass. We had our own suites. Wings of the holy enclave unto ourselves. I don't know what happened to any of that after I left, but I'm betting it's still there. I don't see Raphael giving up his offices." The grin widened. "So, we go home. We do this right. But, I don't think we stay up there, because that's just asking for trouble. We commute. Nobody knows where we live."
"Do you think that's going to work? Our siblings function poorly without nearly-constant guidance."
"Then we teach them to dream. We teach them to live." Gabriel shrugged. "Besides, it's not like taking month-long holidays has hurt Crowley's popularity. Why should taking nights and weekends screw us? Especially if everybody else gets the same offer."
"Because they don't understand what to do with that offer."
"We're the benevolent older siblings, now, Cas. We teach them what to do with that. We introduce them to ice cream and trips to the zoo."
"As long as you don't introduce them to your sense of retributive humour, perhaps this will not be a terrible idea."
"Oh, come on, that's my schtick! Why would I give that to somebody else?"
"I'd prefer you didn't lay it on anyone else, either."
"Your 'left hand' says otherwise." Castiel smirked.
Gabriel choked on his tongue. "Maybe he's right about you. Come on, let's go find him, and lay out the plan."