I felt the need to write this because I think the SPN writers got Gadreel's scene wrong. So I fixed it for them.
He wonders where angels go when they cease to exist as he carves the sigils into his chest with a piece of rock. He has to keep quiet, he can't let Hannah know what he is doing. The sting of cutting open his vessel's flesh and the effort to keep quiet while he does it brings a sheen of sweat over him from head to toe. But he finishes the symbol, tries to convince Hannah and Castiel to remember why they are angels, why they need to stop Metatron.
Humanity. It was always about humanity. They were the caretakers of these precious creatures that had captured God's heart. He had failed but he knew enough of Castiel to know he would not. It's the only thought that brings him some semblance of comfort as he raises the stone fragment and plunges it into the center of the sigil on his chest.
There is so much unfinished business. There are too many things that he has left undone. Castiel had assured him he had earned his redemption but that was not the case. Far from it. He feels the explosion of grace around him and the last thing he sees before the blackness takes over is the open cell door.
There is nothing after that, not for a while at least. It starts off faintly but grows clearer the more he concentrates on it: a birdsong. Others soon join with it until it's so loud it drowns out the ringing explosion that still echoes through his head. Then feeling starts to return and it's the most glorious thing he has ever experienced. Sunlight warms his skin, the sting of the cuts are completely gone. It's pleasant and soothing and he doesn't want to move for fear of breaking this spell. Whatever this is, it truly is so wonderful he's afraid to open his eyes.
It's a voice he hasn't heard since the Garden and it's enough to rouse him from this pseudo-slumber. He's staring up into the familiar, gentle face of Eden's original caretaker and he can't help but smile.
The older angel smiles warmly. "Look at you. Hero of Heaven once more."
Gadreel's smile fades. "Am I?"
"Just because you make a mistake doesn't mean you stop being who you really are. You out of all the angels have proven that."
"I've made many mistakes, Joshua."
"And you've made up for them. Now," the angelic gardener motioned with his hands, "time for you to get up. We don't have much time."
Joshua laughs easily. "Always questioning. Stand up. Look around for yourself."
Gadreel does as he's told. The birdsong intensifies, he can now hear water spilling over rocks. The scent of flowers, trees, fruit and earth fills his nose. Everywhere he looks is green, living and breathing. "Eden."
"Welcome home, brother."
A noise escapes him but it's been over thousands of years since he's heard it from his own being that he doesn't recognize it until Joshua echoes it back. He's laughing. Tears course down his face as he tries to take it in all before it's taken from him once more.
"I never thought...I would see this place again."
Joshua claps his on the shoulder. "Come, walk with me like we used to. I want to make sure everything is as it should be."
Gadreel falls into step with the shorter angel as they start off into the Garden. He trails his hands over the leaves and blossoms. He can feel the grit of the pollen on his fingertips mixing with the dew on the vibrant green leaves.
"It is even more beautiful than I remember, Joshua."
"Only when you've seen real pain can you appreciate true beauty."
He stops by a small stream and peers into the water at the colored fish swimming among the smooth peebles. A drop of red falls into the water and Gadreel frowns, wondering where it came from. Looking down, he sees his chest is still flayed open and blood is seeping from the sigil mark.
Joshua tuts. "We don't have much time."
Gadreel presses his hand against the wound not wanting his blood to mar this pristine beauty of the Garden. "I don't understand. Much time for what?"
Joshua regards him with sad eyes. "This isn't your resting place. Not yet, at least. Think of this as a waiting room."
"You were right. You do have unfinished business to attend to out there. Castiel needs you. The Winchesters need you. You were created to help and protect humanity and as long as there are humans who need you, you will always go back to them."
"But I stabbed myself. My grace-"
Joshua raises his hand to interrupt. "You stabbed yourself with something other than an angel blade. The grace you released was enough to blow open the cells, nothing more." Joshua laughs. "You are one of the oldest angels still breathing. If you had used your entire grace for that spell you would have blown up the entire prison."
"That was my intention."
"But not your desire. You wanted to release Castiel and not bring harm to Hannah. So that is what your grace did. But now, it's rallying, healing."
No, he doesn't want to leave. He's home, finally home. "Joshua-"
"You were right, Gadreel. Nothing is more important that mission. Go, brother, and I will see you again. Here," Joshua smiles again, full of warm and pride, "in Eden once more."
Joshua places two fingers on Gadreel's forehead and the former guard feels his lungs spasm. He tries to draw in breath only to find himself choking on dust and grit. His chest is on fire and his ears are ringing. He uses a burst of strength and heaves himself up on to shaky legs. Everything shimmers and moves. He coughs with such force it causes him to stagger and he has to fight to stay upright.
When everything settles and his vision returns to normal, he finds himself standing in the remnants of his cell. The door is still hanging off its hinges, rubble is scattered across the floor and into the hallway. His breathing is still labored, his chest is still bleeding but he's standing. By God, he's standing.
"Hello? Who...who's there?"
Gadreel stumbles out of what's left of his cell and falls into the wall across from the line of cells. He peers into the third one down, one that was untouched by his blast, and finds Metatron staring out at him. The scribe's face pales when he sees him and all curiosity fades as he slinks back to the bench and sinks down onto it. The implication of this sudden dawns on him.
Castiel has won Heaven back from Metatron.
He uses the wall to support himself as he trips and sways down the hallway towards the prison exit. But when he reaches the door, it won't open for him. He tries the handle but it's locked from the other side. Of course it is. His panic starts to come back but he swallows it down. Making a fist, he draws it back and strikes the door three times until it miraculously opens and he falls onto his knees in relief. Looking up, he sees it's Hannah staring down at him with shock.
"Gadreel. But, I saw..." she shakes her head and leans down, placing her hand on his chest.
He feels her grace curl around what is left of his and bolsters it a bit. The sigil disappears from his chest and he can breath easier. "Thank you, Hannah."
She helps him to his feet, leads him out of the prison and shuts the door behind him. "You told me to run. Why?"
"Harm was not my intention."
She nods slowly. "Harm was never your intention, was it?"
"I was created and tasked to protect and aid."
"We can use someone like that now. Castiel-"
"Is not well. I know."
She looks at him with a bewildering mix of hope, gratefulness and joy. "Will you help him? Aid him?"
"Of course." He would have done it without her asking him. It had always been his intention to stand by Castiel's side until a solution was found for the grace burning out or until it faded completely. "Where is he?"
Hannah takes his arm since he is still unsteady on his feet and leads him down a couple hallways until they reach the familiar doors of the study. She opens them without knocking and leads him inside. Castiel is leaning on the desk, staring down at the broken remnants of the angel tablet. He looks worn to the bone, frayed and tired. Hannah nudges him since Castiel seems lost in his own little world and hasn't even noticed their presence.
His brow furrows before he even raises his head. But once his eyes rest on Gadreel the confusion disappears, instantly turning into relief. He steps over the broken angel tablet and throws his arms Gadreel. It's the first embrace he has encountered since Eden and he returns it with absolute joy. It doesn't take long before both of them are leaning on each other to remain standing and Castiel finally releases Gadreel. The former guard of Eden sinks into one of the leather arm chairs as Castiel takes the other one. Hannah leaves them alone.
"How?" It's the only word that Castiel can ask.
Gadreel shakes his head. "I went to Eden. I saw Joshua. He told me that I didn't use all of my grace for the explosion. That I still had things to do and I wouldn't return to Eden until I had accomplished them."
"What kind of things?"
"The mission, brother. Protecting humanity."
A small smile breaks out across Castiel's face. "If protecting humanity is something you're interested in, I have a situation where your help would be most welcome."
"Of course. But what of Heaven? We're in need of a leader."
Castiel shrugs. "A leader I'm not. A soldier, yes. But not a leader. We'll have to chose wisely though, who is asked to step up."
Gadreel tries not to smile as the use of "we" in Castiel's sentence. "This situation that you speak of?"
"Dean. It's Dean."
It was as Gadreel thought. "Forgive me if I need some time to heal. Hannah helped but-"
"Of course. I have a feeling you're going to need all of it to handle this issue."
Gadreel sinks back into the chair and closes his eyes. "While we're sitting here, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"What's on your mind?"
"What exactly is a wookie?"