"Both of you are birds of self-same feather."
~ William Shakespeare
Castiel pushed the button exactly a week after Gabriel left.
Within a heartbeat, he found himself on a much thinner, simpler bed, and he could hear sounds outside his room, sounds that, for the first time in weeks, were made by humans. He discovered that he was not as used to hearing them again as he had before entering the warehouse in Van Nuys. The perception was… disorienting, to say the least.
By his side, Castiel saw the blue box Gabriel had given to him. Gabriel told him to open it once he was here, so he did.
Inside were a handful of useful items that made him realize just how much effort his brother had placed into staying true to his word and taking care of him. However, what truly caught his attention was the writing scribbled underneath the lid in bold orange:
'Michael's not in him, I checked. Thought I'd oughta let you know.'
Castiel felt a sudden flutter of hope where his Grace should have been, and if his wings were still present to his senses, he assumed they would have twitched, anticipating the moment when he had to go and fly to Dean. Michael was still without his vessel; the world had a real chance of surviving.
His rebellion had not been in vain after all.
His thoughts immediately returned to Dean, and all the things he had said and done to him came back in a wave of repentance and guilt. Castiel could almost hear Gabriel's words echoing in his head, telling him that the Winchesters needed him, angel powers or no.
He made up his mind. Castiel was about to reach back into the box for the cell phone when he saw a nurse glance at his room. He recalled the fact that he was no longer in Gabriel's pocket dimension, which meant that he was now fully exposed to the sight of humans. For a moment, Castiel hoped that the nurse would merely keep walking and be on her way; he sincerely did not want to interact with anybody else so soon.
Unfortunately, she yelled for some more doctors as she practically charged into his room.
Within seconds, Castiel finally understood why Dean insisted on maintaining personal space from him so often. Questions were fired off – "How do you feel?" "How long have you been conscious, sir?" "Can you tell us your name?" "Do you remember what happened to you?" "Are you in discomfort?" "So how's our brain-dead patient doing?" "Do you have any family members we can contact?" "Can you hear me, sir? Do you understand what I'm saying?" – and they made his head pound.
Amidst the noise and chaos, Castiel remembered that the box Gabriel had given him was still on the bed, and no doubt the doctors would confiscate them. Castiel opened his eyes, which he had not realized he had shut tight, only to find that the box had vanished, as if into thin air.
His focus was then directed to his forehead, where one of the doctors had slapped his cold palm on. He was checking his temperature, Castiel realized, in the same method Gabriel had used. But the gesture lacked genuine concern; it was quick and systematic and not at all reassuring. Castiel suddenly missed the presence of his older brother.
Somewhere in the babbling, he heard a doctor saying that his condition was more or less well enough to be admitted out in a matter of a few days. Castiel was relieved to hear that, but he preferred to depart now.
As if to contradict his desire, another doctor produced a needle and inserted some kind of liquid into his arm. Half of the doctors began filing out of the room, while the other half either talked amongst themselves or consulted the charts at his bed or the machines beside him. Castiel figured that this was as good a chance for him to flee.
All of a sudden, he started to feel dizzy and lightheaded. His limbs were becoming less responsive to his commands and his head was somehow growing heavier. Castiel caught himself before his chin so much as brushed against his chest, although now his thoughts were coming in slower and his vision was blurring. He felt tired, and when he tried to shake off the feeling by shaking his head, there was a momentary headache before he felt his mind being wrapped around in and numbed by what was similar to warm cotton.
His eyelids flickered and he discovered that keeping them up was becoming harder to carry out. The doctors were watching him, giving him their best smiles like nothing wrong was happening. Castiel was getting unnerved by everything that was going on, but he was so sleepy that he could not bring himself to care about the gravity of the situation. The doctors could be demons, for all he knew; and the liquid presently going through him could possibly be poison.
He unconsciously searched the smiling faces for that of his older brother's, and it was either his eyes were failing him faster than what he had predicted or Gabriel was not there because Castiel could not find him.
"Brother," he called out. Castiel was vaguely aware of his mouth working, but he did not know if any sound came out.
He was becoming fearful. What had these people done to him? Gabriel would never do this to him. Where was Gabriel? He had to get away from these people; he needed to find Gabriel, Dean, Sam, anybody.
But he was so sleepy – so very sleepy – and the world was getting dark…
Castiel woke up feeling stiff, yet otherwise unharmed. After a couple of more minutes of adjustment, he noticed that sunlight was coming out of the windows. If he had to guess, he had been asleep for a long time; he almost expected Gabriel to hover over him and offer him something sweet, but he was alone in the room and only an empty glass was on his bedside table.
His throat felt dry and his brain was throbbing in several areas, the latter being worse than the time when he had went off on his own when he learned that his Father was not going to do anything about the Apocalypse, though definitely not as bad as when Gabriel had extended his mortal mind's capacity.
He felt an odd sensation niggling at his right arm, and when he tried to move it, it brushed against his gown and he figured that this could be what was called an itch. Castiel tried to move his other arm to scratch it, merely to discover that moving brought him a tremendous explosion of pain. He waited a bit before he could get himself to move, and although this time the pain was less, it was by far not ignorable.
Castiel wondered if this disadvantage was because of whatever liquid the doctors had injected into him, plus the fact that his human body was still adjusting to the sudden changes. Then again, before exiting the pocket dimension, he had hardly been plagued by the want to move since everything he needed was always well within his reach, and the most movement he had made then was to reach for food.
His mind was still wallowing in a thick haze but eventually he remembered that he still had to get to the Winchesters. Castiel looked around for the box, where the cell phone was; however, it was nowhere to be seen. The doctors must have taken it away then.
Grimacing, Castiel scanned the room until his eyes landed on an electrical phone. He almost did not want to reach out to it, knowing what amount of pain that would cause, but he knew he had to. He braced himself for the flare as he gradually extended his arm and punched in the numbers.
A sense of nervousness filled his core, and he doubted that that entirely had to do with him now being human. Would the Winchesters really want him back? Would Dean still consider him an ally after he had given him that brutal beating?
The fact that the other end of the line picked up at all sent him a great wave of relief.
Castiel discovered that his voice sounded relatively parched, but he would have to make do with it, despite that it made his throat hurt. He was certain that it was Dean – not Michael, or anybody else – who answered him when he heard his nickname. Castiel was surprised that Dean actually sounded concerned about him; he had expected him to be angry, or indifferent, or totally end the call but those were apparently not the case.
He answered Dean's questions as truthfully as he could, employing the information he had gathered from Gabriel and his brief encounter with the swarm of doctors. However, he decided to keep Gabriel's visitations classified, at least for now, since Dean would most likely get riled up and Castiel simply did not have the energy to presently handle that kind of reaction. That, and also because he suspected his brother would not look too highly on that being revealed either.
As the conversation went on, Castiel noted that the box was beside him and slightly under the pillows. He knew that he still had a headache but he could have sworn that that box was not there moments ago. At least now he would have something to wear other than the thin hospital gown once he was out, and he was certain that the bus schedules would come very much in handy.
Castiel put the phone down after a few minutes, feeling ready now more than ever to get back into the fight.
At the end of the war, when the planet was achieving its first semblance of a reprieve, Castiel figured it was his turn to pay Gabriel a visit; it was the least he could do.
Gabriel's dog was there to greet him, although it, too, had been scarred by the things that had happened. Castiel rubbed its head in greeting before he approached his older brother, who he could sense was watching his every move.
"Brother," Castiel began. "You were right in saying that I shouldn't give up. Even though there had been… casualties, in the end, everything mattered."
He paused. Gabriel remained silent, but attentive.
"As you have probably heard, Michael is in Hell with Lucifer." Castiel continued. "I am… considering getting our home back in order. I realize that this is not an easy task, and I believe that there are still some more experienced angels who are much more capable of carrying out the job than I, but…" Castiel stopped to consider his next words. "But it is as though I feel I should do this."
The wind blew and he could have sworn that the air had the faint scent of chocolate. It was definitely a sign of approval, and Gabriel's smile was just as evident.
Castiel looked down at his shoes. "Aside from God, I'm here hoping to have your guidance on that matter. I truly don't know how to start." he reluctantly sighed.
Gabriel's dog nuzzled against Castiel's leg in reassurance, and Castiel allowed a tiny smile.
"Do you suppose I am able to bring our family together again, Gabriel? Or at least, what remains of it," he asked, looking up.
Gabriel did not even need to speak since his positive words were just as loud in Castiel's mind. His older brother's encouragement resounded deep into his Grace and Castiel could almost feel both of their Graces mingling with each other.
"I humbly apologize for not putting my trust in you before, but I am glad to have had at least one brother with me when everyone else had abandoned me. You made me remember what family is meant to be like and I wish I could repay you more." said Castiel.
He took a few more steps forward until the two of them were separated by mere inches, and all the while Gabriel's dog was at Castiel's side.
With resolution set, Castiel reached out his hand and placed it on top of his older brother's gravestone in the middle of a field of lush grass and poppies, a field that had once been the site of Elysian Fields hotel.
"May you finally be at peace, Gabriel. You died doing what you do best: being a brother." Castiel whispered. He let his hand linger on the smooth stone for a moment, and he made sure to ward off the area as well to prevent it from being destroyed or weathered down.
After some time, Castiel straightened up. "Your name will forever be remembered." he said. "We will always be brothers, even through the eons. I promise, Gabriel, that I'm here for you."
IT. IS. DONE! Confetti, it's a parade!
Sorry I'm late in updating this; I was supposed to write and finish it last night but stuff happened.
For those who had been hoping for Gabriel to live, I'm sorry that he still had to die anyway, but it's more poetic/heroic like this, in a sense.
THANK YOU FOR EVERY ONE OF YOU WHO REVIEWED AND ALERTED! NOW REVIEW! :)
I'm thinking about doing a 'sort of' sequel. It won't be as long as this but you'll never know. What do you guys think? Should I?