Angels From the Realms of Glory
aka Castiel's Christmas Song
Who disclaims all ownership of Supernatural and the characters therein, lays no claim to either Heaven or Hell, or to any forces angelic or cinematic. Please don't smite or sue.
This may someday be an outtake from the 'Hermon' universe - but by the time I get there it will be summer - so I'm posting it (briefly) as a separate story. While Hermon involves both adult topics and harsh language, this Christmas story is - as befits the holiday - suitable for the fluffiest little lamb. Or at least any stray sheep old enough to use a computer.
Those requiring warnings as to religious themes probably shouldn't be hanging around angel-ville anyway.
All FB deeply appreciated.
"There - that's the last of it." Dean Winchester clambered down the tall ladder that stretched from the newly sanded floor to the tip top of the bright stained glass window that capped the double doors leading into the now-restored Church of Our Lady of the Angels. Luckily for Father Josepha the insurance company had believed the official story of a broken glass line, and (even more luckily) Lucifer's stash of tribute hadn't been one of the things to go up in the fireball. That cash flow combined with the sudden supply of drafted labor (seeing how most of the hunters were also in need of repairs, and willing to do honest work until something more exciting came along) had allowed the priest to rebuild without waiting for the bishop to dig up funding.
"Just in time for Christmas Eve Mass." The priest gazed approvingly over the trim interior. "Which I hope you boys will stay for, given how much work you put in so that we could hold it here. And I don't just mean by saving the earth from perdition."
"Wouldn't miss it."
That was Sam, being both suck-up and sincere. The second part made Dean hold his snark, even though the first made him want to butt-kick his baby brother.
Dean had been wonderfully patient while Sam had cursed though the months of first recovery and then rehabilitation, but even a brother's love could stretch only so far. Dean figured Midnight Mass was about the breaking point. Not that he had a chance of getting out of it - what with both Sam and Castiel having already agreed to stay. They still had only one car, and the driver was outvoted two to one.
Dean made a valiant last stand for his rebel image. "You're not going to make us sing any of that modern crap. Right?"
Father J laughed at that.
"Just We Three Kings and … I was thinking of Away in the Manger. If 1885 isn't too modern for you."
The priest smiled as he spoke, but it was in a way a question. Hunter's were notoriously conservative - although over punch and cookies several had confessed a secret fondness for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Possibly because of the hunters propensity for red beer noses during the winter lull. Evil didn't stop in December - not exactly - but a wind chill of forty below did a lot to convince even the furriest werewolf to stay curled up in their lair.
"Plus? I think Adeste Fideles for the processional." In Latin, he decided suddenly. He was feeling nostalgic, and this year he wouldn't have to project the words like some bar-side karaoke night. All hunters - even the one's who could barely write out their name - spoke Latin better than the Pope. With more reason. After all, the pontiff wasn't going to get eaten by a striga if he got a declension wrong.
"Can we do Silent Night?" Sam asked suddenly.
"Don't see why not." No congregation ever objected to another Christmas carol. Plus, Father Josepha could see where the idea of calm and quiet would appeal to this particular crowd. No one valued peace more than those who didn't have it.
"OH! And the Gloria! I love that one!" Dean warbled his way though the sixteen middle phrases, gasping a bit on the final 'rea'.
Father Josepha shrugged. They had the sheet music for Angels We Have Heard on High, even if the sixty year old widow who served as church organist hadn't practiced that one recently. The long high passages were beyond the range of the aging choir. He didn't expect that a crew of hunters would hold the tune any better, cold air and smokers' lungs being a rough combination when it came to holding a fifteen-second glissade, but… what the heck. It wasn't like there would be any critics in the audience. Unless?
"Castiel?" The priest swiveled his chair, addressing himself to the far rear of the sanctuary where the angel worked industriously, moving in the last of the walnut pews. "Do you have any favorite songs?"
"That humans can sing, dude." Dean added quickly. "Because I just got these windows in and blowing them out again would be so not cool."
"Yeah." Sam pushed down the center aisle. "What exactly do angels sing for Christmas anyway? Are there Enochian carols?"
He had his face set in that 'I'm going to memorize every word and there had better be a test later' expression that made Dean's palm itch to deliver a brotherly bitch-slap.
Castiel turned slowly. "I do not… sing."
Sam's face dropped. "What? You're telling me all that "Angels We Have Heard On High is just… what?...PR?"
Even Father Josepha was looking a touch worried at that.
"Seripiphim sing before the Throne." Castiel answered in the paced tone a teacher would use to explain finger counting to a particularly slow kindergartener. "In the Garrison… I told you, Dean, we are God's warriors."
"So like… what? You didn't even get to have an office Christmas party? Man, that sucks." Dean was honestly shocked. Even unsociable hunters took Christmas as an excuse to drop by the Roadhouse and toss back a friendly 'nog.
Sam saw Dean about to repeat his usual 'Dicks with Wings' line. He didn't, though. Dean had finally caught a clue that dissing the in-laws is no way to win kisses. (Even though, privately, Sam knows that Castiel knows that the angels are - in fact - dicks with wings. But Sam also knows that all of his relatives - Dean included - tend to be dicks even without the wings, so he doesn't see where Dean has any grounds for complaint.)
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring it up if the topic makes you uncomfortable." Father Josepha hadn't dealt that much with angels - per se - but you didn't spend forty years in the priesthood without calming down a parish-load of families with diverse traditions. Christmas brought out the best in people, maybe, but it reliably brought out the worst in in-laws.
"But it's not like you can't sing, right? I mean, if you want to." Dean looked a little worried, but more for Castiel than about him. Like he was wondering if his angel had been shortchanged in the throat department. "I know you've got that weird angel-voice thing but when you're just being Jimmy-shaped…?"
"This voice is… adequate." Castiel had not considered the matter before - beyond assuring that his vessel would be physically functional - but now a lingering bit of Jimmy's memory insisted that yes, Jimmy Novak actually had sung, and even sung well. The linking electrons produced images of high school bands and church choirs, and the knowledge that the voice - now Castiel's voice - was sweet if not angelically strong.
"So. Maybe that can be one of the up sides of planet Earth?" Sam was still feeling guilty about the way Cas had ended up down dirtside. He tried not to think about it, because then Castiel would feel it, and then the angel would have to reassure Dean that … no.. he didn't miss perfect bliss a bit. Which was lying. Lying was a sin. Sin was probably bad for angels. All in all, Sam tried not to go there.
"Just think about it, dude. OK?"
That was Dean, Sam thought. Just a Lifetime special of empathy and love. Finishing the day's paperwork, Sam stacked the invoice files under the lectern. They'd be safe there until Father J could find time to sign the checks.
Father Joseph must have read something from the pause. "Whatever you are comfortable with, Castiel."
"It grows late." Castiel focused on Dean, his face unreadable. "Did you not volunteer to pick up Mrs. Norbeck?"
"Oh. Right." The heavy Impala was well suited for the local snow, and Dean's pride in it and his own driving skills had left him volunteering to chauffeur the organist to and from services. "But there's time…"
"Not if you want a shower first." Father Josepha scribbled out the last lines of his sermon notes. "I'd appreciate it if you kept in shouting distance of the speed limits. Mrs. Norbeck has a weak heart, and I don't think she needs that much excitement."
Dean looked at his watch. "Do I have time to get back to the hotel?"
"You can clean up in the rectory."
"Good enough." He grabbed his leather jacket. Not warm, but enough for the ten feet of sidewalk between the priests house and the church proper. "Cas? You riding along?"
Mrs. Norbeck loved Castiel. All the old ladies loved Castiel. Old ladies, children, and fluffy dogs. Plus all the cookie-baking moms who kept pushing casseroles on the newest Winchester. No wonder, Dean thought, chick TV ran so many specials about angels.
"I will remain here. There are many valuable construction materials. They should not be left unguarded." Unspoken was that Castiel had an eternity of experience watching and guarding, and would be better suited for that duty than… the other suggestions that had been made.
"You're right about that." Father Josepha reached for the ring of church keys.
Even on Christmas Eve it was not wise to leave the building supplies unguarded. That was a sad commentary on the fallen nature of man, and the priest made a mental note towards future sermons, but… not tonight. Not this year. This Christmas, more than any before, his congregation would need to hear a message of gentleness and ease.
Passing the keys to Castiel, he asked "You're not uncomfortable when we…"
"Not at all." Castiel reassured the man. "I will enjoy observing your celebration."
Sam eased around the two, following after Dean. "Just don't sit on top of the tree, and it's all good."
"Yeh." Dean shouted back. "We're saving the space for Zach - because then we'd know what stick he had up his ass."
The priest hurried out after the pair. He didn't say anything. He didn't have to.
When the building was empty Cas walked slowly up to the sanctuary steps.
He picked up the nearest missalette.
The dark maroon cover was paler in the middle, a souvenir of countless hands curving back the thin leather to follow the service readings. The gold finish which had brightened the margins was faded to a dark bronze, worn off at the bottom corner where damp fingers would have clutched. He flipped though the age-soft pages. Scriptural fragments marched in paired columns at the front, each under the day and intention. The back pages held songs, rows of notes in black and red, and below those the words stretched out in dashes and clumps to guide the unfamiliar singer.
The verses seemed strange under his eyes, even though he had heard many of them over his few years on earth. Beyond the churches, the radio and television broadcast incessantly over the last weeks of December. He had even enjoyed them, in a disconnected way. It was the wrong date and so often wrong in detail, but any reverence from those distracted creatures his sword-mates referred to as 'hairless apes' was a rarity to be cherished. Still, he had never considered that he might be part of the celebration. That this peculiar form of praise might ever be connected to him.
"It is not forbidden." Castiel spoke to the air, as if hearing the words echo off insensate wood and stone would somehow grant it the weight of a response.
Of course no angel of the Garrison had to be forbidden to do the duties of a Seraphim, any more than a pet parakeet needed to be admonished not to soar with eagles. It simply was… not done.
But he was no longer of the Garrison, was he? Not a Cherubim, or a Seraphim, nor of a Host or a Throne or a Dominion. He was only… himself.
Giving the Father praise in song was not his task, but it could not be displeasing to9 the Lord. Could it?
He looked up to the roof beam over the nave, where a hunter with woodcraft skills had carved the verse from Exodus.
THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH AND MY SONG
Glancing down at the random page, he began….
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining.
The words echoed against the bare wooded walls, coming back as if sung by unseen choirs. He reached the third verse:
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
And Castiel wept.
From Exodus 15:
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Yep - Exodus. There is a theme going on here. *grin*