"Destiny, God's Plan ... it's all just a bunch of lies, you sick, stupid son of a bitch!"
The Room Dean had been sent to was conceived to suit his mortal eyes. What lay beyond the door-that-was-no-more was incomprehensible in human terms, but it was here that Castiel stood, silent. Troubled.
Dean could not, of course, understand. He could not see the grand design, the lines of fate stretched out towards an end to the very things that drove so many to question their faith: suffering, death, violence and violation. Dean's vision was limited to that which stood before him, but even knowing that, Castiel could not understand. Dean knew more of human and demonic cruelty than most - no, possibly all of God's creatures, what with his time in Hell; he would take that over safety? Peace?
And yet his conviction of their wrongness was somehow catching, shining through him with a will Castiel had seen in none but the most zealous of his brethren. Castiel closed his eyes, breathing out through his vessel's nose. What did the opinion of one mortal matter to him? But it was the opinion of the most important mortal: to the angels, and to himself.
It all troubled him deeply, but if this was truly God's will, he would not stand in the way.
The difficulty was he was no longer sure of God's will.
Zachariah had ceased to bother with Dean and the Room for some time, now; his concern lay elsewhere - likely with the extermination of Lilith and the beginning of the End of Days, Sam's self-destruction. He was confident, arrogant, even, and so when Castiel came to him he turned away from his business with something close to a sneer. "I hope you left someone at the door," he said, referring to Castiel's guardplace.
"There is no longer a door to guard," Castiel reminded his superior quietly.
"Right, right! I'll bet Dean loved that," Zachariah laughed, as if Castiel had played a fantastic prank. "Well, good, maybe he'll sit tight for a minute. You'd think he'd be happy in there, he's got all his favorite things. Well, except maybe a woman."
Zachariah's complete misunderstanding of Dean Winchester astounded Castiel, even now. Certainly Dean was a materialistic man, but it was not alcohol and sustenance he craved. Did Zachariah think so little of the righteous man God had appointed to this awesome task?
Unless this was not God's will, but something else.
"So what brings you here? Did he ask for a woman?" Zachariah asked. "Changed his mind about Ginger?"
His crassness left a sour taste in Castiel's mouth. "No," he replied. But he hesitated, now. "He only wants to understand why we have hidden him here."
Zachariah lifted an eyebrow and one side of his mouth in a smirk. "My goodness, he still has questions? After our little chat?"
Castiel had not been present for Zachariah's second visit to the Room, but he could guess some of the content of the conversation. "I believe Dean wants to know why we are allowing the Apocalypse to begin," Castiel clarified. I want to know why we are allowing the Apocalypse to begin.
Zachariah nodded, his gaze dropping away thoughtfully. "Can't just let things go, can he?" he sighed. "It's beyond his comprehension. I thought I addressed that with him." He looked up and clapped Castiel on the shoulder, all smiles once again. "He just needs some time to cool his heels. Get his head wrapped around things. You're not worried about him agreeing to everything, are you?" Zachariah met Castiel's eyes. "He swore his allegiance; he'll get it eventually."
Zachariah's gaze bore deep, searching Castiel; it was a struggle to hold the other angel's gaze, impossible to not associate it with another time not long ago when Castiel had been held in question. He held his doubt in check and held his vessel perfectly still. At length Zachariah dropped his hand, and Castiel struggled to not visibly show his relief. "I only think that Dean would be more agreeable if we were more forthcoming," he said. Dean provided a convenient excuse; the doubts pouring from the human's lips merely pried deeply into the doubts of Castiel.
Zachariah laughed, startling Castiel. "Wow. Do you really think Dean's ready to hear the whole plan? No--" Zachariah shook his head. "I don't think so."
Castiel realized, abruptly, that he too had been left in the dark about something. He drew himself up. "I realize there are things not fit for human ears, but ..." he hesitated, aware he was about to overstep his bounds, but only for a moment. "Will you continue to lie to your brother?"
For a moment the senior angel did not reply, visibly amazed by Castiel's audacity. "Well, look at you all ready to take charge of your garrison again," Zachariah said with a half-open mouth. "Shame it's so wasted, what with dissension in the ranks and all." He smirked.
Castiel refused to wither or respond to the emotional blow, although it was difficult; his garrison had been torn apart by Anael, Uriel, their betrayed brothers and sisters ... and by Castiel himself. "I remain Dean's liaison, yes? Then I am best equipped with full knowledge."
"Oh, I doubt that," Zachariah said, shaking his head and looking skyward as if for Revelation. "After last time? I don't think you're learning anything before we're ready for Dean to know." He met Castiel's eyes again, only this time the look was laced with warning.
Castiel clenched his vessel's jaw, but he backed down. He was only somewhat surprised to find his vessel's heart was racing, responding to his own wrath and fear. "If I may ask one question, then," he requested, lowering his gaze humbly.
"You absolutely may," Zachariah said. "Dunno if I'll answer, but shoot."
Castiel kept his eyes on Zachariah's shoes. The vessel had been meticulous with his appearance, so unlike Jimmy Novac, with gleaming toes on his dress-shoes and perfectly pressed slacks, which Zachariah preserved with the same diligence as his kin. Over it all Castiel could perceive Zachariah's self-satisfaction, his incomprehensible pride over his successful machinations. Why? Why are you so prideful? What have you accomplished, when all is our Father's will?
"You understand if I ask this, after my brother Uriel betrayed us under the guise of Revelation," Castiel prefaced his question. "But--"
Zachariah's hand rose, and Castiel halted his speech. He looked up to Zachariah's half-smiling mouth, but didn't dare to raise his gaze higher. "Really? You're gonna waste your question on God's will?" Zachariah's lips were twisted with scorn, as if he could not bring himself to smile properly. "Of course God wants this. It's peace on Earth."
Castiel's heart, his true heart, clenched with uncertainty and yearning: peace, something they had all struggled to obtain for so long. "Do you know this by direct Revelation?" he asked.
Zachariah sneered. Castiel knew if he looked up Zachariah's eyes would be filled with amusement. "Don't you worry about it," he said. "Just do your job."
"That isn't an answer," Castiel nearly gasped as the enormity of what he was not-hearing bore down on him.
"I told you I might not answer you." Zachariah straightened his suit, buttoned the jacket shut. "Now, I've got a demon killing to oversee."
"Good things do happen, Dean," Castiel had said, shocked by the lack of faith in the righteous man he had been sent into Hell for, and Dean gave him a look of utter disbelief.
A year ago - a single solar year previous - Castiel had told Dean that God had work for him. Now, he saw he had been lying.
Shaken, Castiel did not return to his post outside the Room with no door. He flew, fast and hard, to where they had snatched Dean from: the home of Bobby Singer. A plan began to take shape in his mind, foolish, almost certain to end them both, but he could not stand idly by.
The angels sought to begin the End of Days, kill countless of God's creations, and they did not even have the blessing of the Lord.
The arrogance struck Castiel like a physical blow. Sorrow followed close on its heels. Had God hidden his will from them? Had any of Castiel's orders been his Father's wishes? If he could not know the will of God, either by Revelation or by orders, than what was Castiel to do? But there was no time to seek for a divine answer to his questions.
It was a simple matter to locate the demon-killing knife in Dean's possession. The weapon could make a wound on Castiel's vessel without wounding Castiel himself, and that was enough. There was no small chance that Dean would need the weapon's protection as well.
Without thought, with time so short, Castiel found himself turning to Dean Winchester - a materialistic, hedonistic man, a man who blasphemed God and doubted even himself; a righteous man. A man who loved humanity as God loved them, despite their faults, their violence and their violations and destruction. A man who loved Sam Winchester, though he was destined to raise Lucifer.
It was almost too late. Castiel knew there was little he could give Dean other than time - a distraction for a few critical minutes. Dean could pull Sam back, stop him from breaking the final seal. The Prophet would know where Sam was.
Castiel alighted in the Room, facing Dean's back, terror and determination setting his vessel's jaw and making the blood pound in his ears. This would, doubtlessly, be his last moments. At least Jimmy Novac would be at peace.
Castiel did not know if this was what God wanted. But until he knew - if he would never know - he would put his faith in Dean.
I'm sorry, my brothers, he thought, and he reached out and gripped Dean's shoulder.