Elected Silence, Sing to Me
There is no time for regret.
Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine but I'd make Dean wear his boots all the time if they were.
Rating: T (Adult Themes)
Character(s): Castiel, Sam, Dean, OCs
Warnings/Spoilers: Everything up to 4.16 is fair game. Religious themes.
Beta(s): moonyinspades and quellefromage
In the Beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The command is given at the appointed place and at the appointed time, a revelation foreseen when the first Word was spoken, and the Seven answer – scattering their charges to those corners of the Earth where they will watch and they will listen, laying down their swords until they are summoned to the battle where the End of Days will begin.
The first stone hits Yeshua's temple, a piece of sharp-edged granite the size of a man's fist. Blood trickles down Yeshua's cheek and the dissonant roar of the crowd pierces through the harmonies of the Song before a hail of stones knocks Yeshua to his knees. The cursed one who cast the first stone smiles in challenge to the one who watches, his eyes flashing yellow in triumph when a woman's strident voice joins the chorus of Yeshua's accusers.
It is another lie filled with rancor, strong enough to drop a good man to the dusty ground as the gathered crowd drowns out his moans until he is lost in the rubble.
The last thing Yeshua hears is a child's cry.
His final breath is a prayer, a soft exhalation for the woman who stands silently with a boy child in her arms and tears in her eyes that she does not shed until she is safe within the walls of her father's house. She waits until her brothers have left her alone with the battered flesh that was once her husband, her tears leaving streaks in the blood as she kisses his forehead.
Candles flicker as black wings unfurl, a vigil kept while Hephzibah anoints what remains of her love with oil and prays, a soft hum that begs for justice in time to the steady whisper of the cloth that she wraps around his body – a wife's prayer for an innocent man who is but one casualty in the war that is coming, a death that brings with it Castiel's promise to a fatherless child.
The Seraphim add each name to the litany of martyrs.
They pull Rebecca Wilkins from her bed before the sun rises, beating her until the white nightgown she wears is soaked with crimson and the crack of her breaking bones is replaced by a tiny whimper from the cradle underneath the window. A woman snatches the child, wrapping her in a blanket woven by her mother's hands, following the mob that drags Rebecca into the woods.
It is no small blessing when Rebecca loses consciousness, her broken body heaved over a fallen log, and she cannot listen to those she once called friend sing gleefully about saving her soul – a hymn that mocks the Song that surrounds them all.
The pyre stands ready, dry wood that circles one upright log they lash Rebecca Wilkins' broken body to with rough rope that she can no longer feel, and the one who holds the torch raises his head to the sky. Yellow eyes flash as the hymn gets louder, a deceiver's smile meant for one alone as the wood catches fire.
The last thing Rebecca hears is her own scream.
But there is an unspoken prayer that fills the hollows of the Song as the onlookers start to gag from the stench, an unspoken prayer wrapped in the kiss placed upon a baby's brow. Elizabeth Wilkins scuttles through the trees using the smoke of her dying sister to hide her passage, her eyes full of tears that she does not shed until the child is safe, both of them wrapped in the shadow of black wings.
The wheels of the cart creak and Elizabeth hears another shriek on the wind while she prays, a silent wish that begs for justice as she snaps the reins – a sister's prayer for an innocent woman who will not be the last of those to die before the Seven lead the Brethren into Hell, a death that brings with it Castiel's promise to a motherless child.
The Principalities etch every face into the blades of swords.
A father's promise is broken with nothing more than a piece of chalk and a Latin incantation culled from hidden books with the symbol of a blasphemer scratched into their margins, the Sigil of one who stood at the right hand of Shemhezai when the Grigori fell.
John Winchester slides a knife across his palm, blood dripping into a bowl full of sand, and he does not notice the flames dim on the candles. He does not see the flash of yellow eyes behind him when the match strikes blood, the color identical to the blaze that flashes in the bowl and twin to the fire that sent a man with two motherless sons into the dark.
Azazel's smile is a taunt meant for the one who stands as witness; both of them hidden in the shadows, and only one of them will step into the light when the man who summons him rises to his feet. The demon tightens his hand on John Winchester's shoulder, his smile fading when the click from the Colt catches his attention the way that no other sound ever could.
But those who walk beneath Lucifer's wings can twist words into poisonous promises as easily as they slide through the underbelly of cities leaving corruption in their wake, a trail of deals and bargains sealed with kisses and blood – and there is no sacrifice a father would not make for a son.
The last thing John Winchester hears is the sound of his body hitting the floor.
The Song swells with prayer, overflowing from Sam Winchester as he screams for assistance that is already too late in its coming, touching his father's shoulder with a hand as innocent as his heart despite the stain of Azazel within his veins. An orderly pulls Sam Winchester from the room, his eyes full of tears that he allows himself to shed, and the presence of black wings is not enough to lessen the grief of two sons who watch their father die.
The click of sharp nails on linoleum and the growl of the Hounds drown out the Song as they mark John Winchester's passing, even when a second voice joins the first in a jagged prayer that begs for an unwarranted justice – the prayer of two sons for the father who raised them with hearts strong enough to be the world's undoing and left them alone in their anguish, a death that brings with it no promise that Castiel can give.
The Dominions announce that the pact is fulfilled.
The walls are covered in symbols meant to protect as well as to summon, painstakingly drawn on every surface of the warehouse. The two men who wait inside are burning with vengeance for the Seer, both of them willing to face the strongest of adversaries, their need for retribution fueled by the hearts of warriors who stand between the innocent and the darkness.
The Seer is a mistake that cannot be undone, another sorrow yet to be sung, but there is no time left for regret.
Castiel closes the host's right hand into a fist, feels the power coil inside flesh that is still too fragile to contain it, crackling up the host's severed spine as her memories flood every dying cell with the last prayer of one whose life is cut short – a mother's prayer of safety for the son turned into an orphan by a drug dealer's gun and a crooked partner, the final breath before Claudia becomes Castiel.
There is no time left.
The door flies open when she unclenches her fist, dark hair whipping around her face in its own wind. Dean Winchester and Bobby Singer are on their feet, watching her warily with the eyes of hunters before opening fire with their shotguns. The light bulbs overhead explode as she walks towards them, showering down sparks that flicker around them like fireflies, and she waits for Dean Winchester to speak.
"Who are you?"
It is a demand, as sharp as the edge on the knife that appears in his hand.
"I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition."
Dean Winchester's eyes fill with loathing, the clench of his jaw ignoring the way her voice purrs as it wraps around the words, and his body shifts to the balls of his feet.
"Yeah, thanks for that."
He plunges the knife into her chest, the blade glancing off her sternum, and waits for the thunder and the crackle to flow through her body as the demon inside howls at its annihilation. There is no time for lengthy explanations now that the First Seal has been broken. The only explanation Castiel can give is to pull the knife from her chest and let it tumble to the floor, seizing Bobby Singer's shotgun before he can ram the butt into the back of her head and touching his forehead with the tip of her index finger.
But there is time enough for penance and no comfort to be gained from the Song that fills the spaces between them when she finally meets Dean Winchester's eyes.
The trumpet was blown at the appointed place and at the appointed time, a battle foretold when the first Word was spoken, and the Six answered. The Brethren gathered at the Gates of Hell bearing swords inscribed with the faces of the innocent dead, charging through the enemy while the Song rang out with the names of martyrs, God's Wrath unleashed upon the Fallen in remembrance of all that the Brethren had witnessed.
But the Seal could not be saved.
And it is written that the First Seal shall be broken
when a Righteous Man sheds blood in Hell.
As he breaks, so shall it break.
The title of this piece is a line from the poem "The Habit of Perfection" by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The opening quote is the first verse of the Gospel According to John. I went with the King James' version.
I may have inadvertently mucked up angelic hierarchy.
So some information about the seven archangels turning into six. I based this on a list of the seven archangels that included Haniel. Haniel is also known as Anael, Hanael, or Aniel – and the name can be translated as "The Grace of God" from the original Hebrew. Given that the name "Anna" also means "Grace," I decided I could make a legitimate case that Anna was Haniel and, as a result of Haniel's fall, only six of the archangels would have been present in the battle to rescue Dean.
The idea of a female Castiel came out of a conversation with several friends online and I noted that Claudia Black would have made a kick-ass Castiel. Several IMs and a Livejournal post later (and with no disrespect meant to the equally kick-ass Misha Collins), I bit the bullet. Obviously, the name Claudia is an homage...
My apologies for not disclaiming about Castiel's gender in this story once Castiel took a host. As the story was Gen and I didn't want to give the twist away, I opted not to for the same reasons I chose not to include John and Azazel in the list of characters.