When they touched down in heaven, Dean grinned and touched Castiel's face. The angel looked like himself again – skin as white as marble accented only by his dark hair. From the way Castiel looked at him, he knew the angel shared his feelings. Dean laughed. "Your eyes look the same." He looked around. "Where are we?"
For the first time since they'd been there, Castiel took in their surroundings. There were very few places in Heaven where he had not been, but this was one of them. He shrugged and caught himself, mentally chiding himself for the distinctly human gesture. He shot a small self deprecating smile at Dean and shook out his wings; they felt stiff, and a few of his feathers had fallen out of place. He carefully reached out to fix them. His hand was stilled quickly.
He looked down; Dean's tail was tightly wrapped around his wrist. Dean grinned. Castiel scowled. Dean reached behind him and moved as to fix the feathers; instead he messed up a few more.
Castiel growled, launching himself at Dean and flipping the demon on his back. Dean languidly wrapped his arms around Castiel's shoulders. They both stilled as a large hand wrapped around Castiel's neck and pulled the angel back hard enough to knock him up on his feet. Once the hand was gone, his momentum continued carrying him backwards. He stopped when he connected with a firm chest. He jumped instantly into defensive mode, his hands coming up to fight. Gabriel grinned. "You got back fast."
In an instant Castiel's arms were wrapped around Gabriel's neck.
Dean smiled at the pair, letting out a surprised grunt when he found himself with a lap filed with his brother. "Sammy." He breathed.
Sam nuzzled into his neck. "I missed you, Dean." Dean laughed. "Did you and Cas find each other down there?"
"Yeah." Dean said happily. He stilled for a moment. "What's been happening up here? Why did you guys cut us off so quickly?"
"We're meeting with the angels who are willing to stand up to Michael tonight. We thought you guys should be here."
Suddenly a thought struck; Dean jerked up, his head almost connecting with Sam's. "Gabriel!"
Gabriel lifted his head up from where it was nestled against Castiel's. "What, Dean-o?"
"Cas's grace. Is it… fixed?"
Castiel frowned down at his chest curiously as Gabriel lightly pressed a hand to his heart. The angel's head fell back with a light gasp as he began to glow, light emanating from his very core.
Gabriel released him with a smile and drew the small angel back into his arms, his head fitting back against his. "He's fixed."
Castiel all but purred, burrowing into his brother once more. Sam and Dean could only stare. Eventually Gabriel noticed thier attention. "…what?"
Sam and Dean instantly adopted innocent postures. "Nothing! Nothing." The brother's shared a guilty look that slowly morphed into something else. As one they rose, wrapping their arms around the angel's, joining the embrace.
Dean lost track of time as his arms burrowed into the warmth beneath Castiel's wings and he felt his brother's tail twine with his. Finally Gabriel broke them apart. "It's time for us to go."
Sam nodded, and put a little space between their bodies. He winked at his brother, and turned, walking with Gabriel to the door with a confident stride to his step.
Dean watched them for a moment and then wrapped his tail around Castiel tightly and he joined their hands. As they walked to the door, he contemplated Michael, and the destruction he might rein down upon them. He looked down and watched the way his hands joined with Castiel's, and silently vowed to protect his angel from any harm Michael might wish upon him.
The building was dark; the natural lights subdued to allow the soldiers the semblance of night. Their steps were light as they walked along a long corridor.
The walk was not unusual for Castiel, it was something he had done almost every day for the majority of his existence. For some reason, in this moment it seemed exceptionally long; the hallway reaching out in unheard of lengths. Dean rubbed lightly at his fingers, and he came back to himself, his steps regaining their confidence.
Outside the courtyard was dark, the mirrored pools giving off a soft light that penetrated the darkness surrounding them.
Gabriel stopped at the entrance to the gardens, observing the legions of angels standing at attention as they awaited his arrival. Each wore armor of gold and crimson, the metal forged to appear as the flesh beneath. Their gauntlets were silver and gleaming in the light, matched by silver accents along their calves. Every angel had a preferred weapon strapped within easy reach, and each had long swords strapped to their sides.
Gabriel closed his eyes. When they opened he was wrapped in armor similar to the soldiers. It glinted in silver and onyx with a crimson cape draped elegantly over one shoulder.
He flexed his graze quickly, sending it out in all directions as it searched for Michael's. He found it in the palace, in the large monastery where angels often visited when they wished to speak with God. He strode through the center of the assembled angels towards the large beautiful structure that may not have been the center of heaven, but was certainly its heart.
As he passed them the angels turned and followed.
They moved quickly down the street, the angels filling it up as more and more added to the crowd following until the streets were packed and the ringing of footsteps filled the air.
Gabriel felt a nervous tension filling his grace, and he struggled to keep his footsteps confident and his chin held high. Sam walked behind him, his tail and his hand wrapped tightly around his brother's, as his eyes flashed in the night. Dean walked just as confidently, a vicious smile spread across his face as his free hand kept track of Castiel. Castiel's wing's held tightly to his back as his hand danced over his sword in anticipation. He kept his eyes carefully forward, feeling shy under the protective gazes of his brothers and sisters.
Soon they reached the wide doors shutting the building off from the rest of heaven. Gabriel gave a wide gesture and the doors opened. The angels flooded in, filling the hallways of the monastery close to bursting as every angel in heaven joined Gabriel's stand.
Gabriel found Michael standing near the main alter in the back of the building. He was flanked on all sides by the beautiful hues of colored glass. He did not turn at their approach, and did not glance up as the room filled with soldiers.
"Michael." Gabriel spoke softly. All of the angels around him stilled.
"Brother." Michael answered, finally turning to face him. His eyes quickly took in the crowd gathered around them. "I see you've brought company." His eyes came to rest on Dean and Castiel. "Is this why you have come, Gabriel?"
Castiel's eyes narrowed as he was flooded with the memory of the pain when Michael had attempted to kill him. He saw Gabriel flinch and knew the archangel felt it too. "What you did was unspeakable, Michael." His voice boomed in the silence of the room.
Around him Castiel felt as other angels sent their grace to caress his, reassuring themselves of his presence. Castiel did his best to keep his grace calm under the onslaught.
"Unspeakable? I was fully justified. You are the one who disobeyed by interfering. Bringing him back, brother? How long did you think you could keep it from me?"
"You went too far." Gabriel spat. "No angel deserves that pain; that anguish! You've lost your way, Michael."
Michael laughed. "Listen to yourself, Gabriel. Talking about what the soldiers deserve. They don't deserve anything." His eyes quickly darted across the assembled angels who'd managed to fill the room and then out into the hall beyond where the rest stood. "You've gotten them all dressed up as if they're going off to war, but who among them would ever be willing to stand up? What do you think you'll accomplish? Are you hoping to take over, Gabriel? Is that what this is all about?"
A deep frown flickered over Gabriel's face, but before he could speak, Castiel moved forward. "I will stand." Gabriel's hand flashed out instantaneously, dragging him back.
"No." He growled. "You will not." His eyes fell heavily upon all those standing with him. "None of you will."
Gabriel's eyes met Michael's as he spoke, his hands gently coaxing Castiel to stand behind him. "You've been hurt enough little one." He whispered. Castiel's eyes dropped as he obediently stepped back. Gabriel ran a hand down his face soothingly and a smile twitched at his mouth as Sam and Dean wrapped themselves around Castiel protectively, and a few of the angels standing around him wrapped their hands into his robes, fingers ducking between the breaks of his armor to press against his skin. Gabriel nodded to them thankfully. When he turned back to his brother, Michael was standing so close they were almost touching. "You know, there's a reason I'm top dog here."
His fists flew before Gabriel could react, grabbing onto the top of his breastplate and all but throwing him over his shoulder.
Gabriel's wings snapped out and he landed gracefully, his feet barely touching the floor before he was launching himself back at Michael.
As they fought, Gabriel did his best to stop himself from colliding with any walls where he knew the soldiers stood watching. Occasionally he allowed himself to be hit by a worse blow to avoid falling into their audience.
Michael caught on quickly and started deliberately throwing his shots to put the watchers in jeopardy, knowing Gabriel would allow himself to take the hit. If he went toe to toe with his brother Michael wasn't quite sure who would win. It was possible he would, especially given his brother's soft nature, but he didn't know for sure. Ensuring Gabriel would take a particularly hard blow helped guarantee his eventual victory.
He was expecting Gabriel to cave quickly, his brother had never been one for fighting, but Gabriel kept coming back, he kept rising and lashing out with a fierce determination. Eventually Michael began to feel himself slip, and he knew he needed to end this now.
His eye caught on Sam and he slowly started to grin. He positioned himself perfectly, and when Gabriel caught him under the chin he sailed back exactly as planned, and quickly struck, not back at his brother, but at the tall demon. He was lucky that he caught Sam unaware. He tore a small dagger out of the demon's grasp, and pressed it tightly to his jugular.
The room froze.
After a moment Gabriel spoke. "Your fight is with me."
"No it isn't Gabriel. You've made this fight between everyone."
"Fuck you." Sam growled, before he gasped sharply as the blade began to press in.
"Do not speak unless spoken to." Michael chided. "So what will it be, Gabriel? Are you ready to back down now?"
An expression crossed his brother's face; Michael had never seen it before. His face lost its edge and instead became blank as his eyes darkened.
There was no moment in between the seconds. One instant Gabriel watched him from across the room, the next his wrist was caught in his brother's grip, the knife frozen between them.
For a moment Michael felt his heart begin to rise, and then instinct kicked in. Gabriel's strength was bent to forcing the blade back and away from his demon's throat, so Michael allowed himself to follow it, the knife quickly leaving Sam's skin to bury itself within Gabriel's.
His brother's eyes widened in shock, and then softened in relief. Michael felt a twinge of anger at the expression, and twisted the knife painfully. Gabriel followed its path, falling to his knees, but his expression remained the same.
Michael jerked the knife back, staining his robes red as Gabriel fell to the floor. He had only seconds to contemplate his victory before Sam was on him. Michael growled in annoyance and threw him off; Sam hit the far wall, groaning as he collapsed on the floor.
Something slick moved up under his armor, sliding easily under his skin. Michael's hands quickly flew to the injury and caught the hand slowly twisting the blade within him. "I've been waiting a while to do that." Dean growled.
Michael swallowed his pain and dipped his shoulder to knock the demon off balance. He caught Dean's chest and trapped his arm, throwing him backwards.
Dean went all of three feet before his tail whipped out and caught Michael's neck, pulling himself back in. His hands moved quickly, cutting Michael's face and neck while his tail kept itself firmly wrapped around the archangel's wrist, keeping his hand down.
He got in a few good hits before Michael managed to tear away.
Dean looked around quickly and jumped to an onlookers side. The angel was a tall female with flowing crimson hair; she also happened to have two elegant silver blades strapped to her side.
Michael was so distracted by the demon in front of him for a moment all he could do was stare in confusion when a slick feeling coated his back. Sam grinned and ducked the blow Michael aimed at him, distracting him from Dean's next attack.
Sam and Dean worked together easily and fluidly, their movements complementing each other without effort. Dean's blows were aimed at his extremities, distracting his attention as Sam worked towards his core as he worked on removing the archangel's armor.
Michael worked hard to avoid them both, and he growled in frustration every time a blow landed. Soon a heavy clang indicated the heavy metal dropping from his chest, and his robes lost their pristine white shimmer, and instead took on a dark red tone as they lay across his arms and chest in ribbons.
Michael redoubled his efforts, though he struggled dividing his attention between the brothers. Every time he focused on the one attempting to deal him the heavier blow, the other took up the slack, and he received another injury. After a while, he began receiving more injuries than he could heal, and the cuts remained for longer periods of time.
Sam met Dean's eye met over Michael's shoulder, and they both nodded slightly in understanding. Dean purposely allowed himself to begin falling back under Michael's onslaught.
As he'd hoped, the archangel took advantage of his weaker position, and worked hard to trap him against the wall. When Michael grinned and went in for the killing blow, Dean's eyes flicked black and he quickly gripped the archangel's wrist and spun their bodies, reversing their positions. Sam leapt forward, grabbing Michael's throat and pinning him to the wall as Dean restrained his hands.
The grin that spread over Dean's face was nothing less than murderous. For a moment he considered saying something, but nothing seemed fitting; he looked at his brother. Sam resembled the demon he'd once been down in the pit; he moved forward, and deliberately licked a wide stripe of blood off Michael's neck. "Guess this is good bye, angel boy."
Michael's lip twitched up in a snarl as he watched Sam toss the knife, easily catching it as he hefted it above his shoulder. He brought the knife down hard, and the room froze.
Michael blinked, confused that the blade had not completed its decent. Sam and Dean wore an identical expression. Together they looked at the knife, then Sam's hand and down to his wrist where another hand was firmly clamped down, preventing any movement. They followed it up an arm back to blue eyes. "Cas?" Dean asked quietly, his eyes returning to their normal green shade; after a quick glance at Sam, his eyes did the same.
"You can't." Castiel said, his eyes fixed firmly on Michael's. The archangel wore an unreadable expression.
"We can, Cas. Quite easily. Let go." Sam said soothingly.
"Cas." Dean began. He cast an eye over his hold on Michael, wondering if he could spare a hand to catch Castiel's with. After a moment he gave up, and his tail slowly wrapped around the angel's arm and wrist. He did not try to pull Castiel away, or hold him in place, he merely applied a gentle pressure. "We need to do this."
"No, Dean. Kiliing him solves nothing."
Dean scoffed. "He seemed to think it solved something when he did it to you."
"But I did not die."
Dean's eyes went black, but Sam cut off his brother before he could utter a word. "What's wrong, Cas?" He asked while slowly checking the angel's grip for weakness.
"He is my brother."
"….I hate to break this to you, Cas." Dean said slowly. "But your brother is a dick."
Castiel nodded. "But I still love him."
For just a moment, Sam and Dean's hold slackened in disbelief. Michael smirked and moved to seize his opening. Castiel was on him instantly, forcing him back so hard the wall cracked. Sam tried not to laugh. "I thought you said you loved him."
"Doesn't mean he trusts him." Dean said with a small smile tugging at his lips.
"So does that mean you changed your mind?" Sam asked hopefully.
"You will not kill him."
Sam frowned at Dean, the he's your angel lying unspoken between them. The moment was interrupted as another hand came between them, coming to rest on Michael's neck.
"Gabriel?" Sam asked, his eyes quickly searching for the knife wound. He was pleased to see despite the blood stained robes, the injury had healed.
Castiel turned a mistrustful eye on Gabriel and carefully moved to keep himself between the archangels.
Gabriel moved closer, pressing his hands firmly. Michael eyed him defiantly. Dean quietly tugged on Castiel's arm. Castiel shot him a quick glare, refusing to be moved. "Please, Cas." Dean whispered, removing himself from Michael entirely, and wrapping himself around his angel. He pressed his nose to Castiel's ear. "Gabriel will take care of this, come with me."
Castiel hesitated, his hands twitching against Michael as he debated wrapping his hands up in Dean's warmth.
Sam shot Gabriel a brief look and he slipped his hands underneath Castiel's, moving to restrain Michael the same way. Gabriel carefully removed his hands and wrapped Castiel in his arms. Castiel went with him slowly. Gabriel locked eyes with Dean and transferred the angel to his arms.
Dean nodded thankfully and walked Castiel out from in between the archangels. He stopped after a few feet, leaving them close enough to intervene if they needed to, and then petted his hands soothingly through Castiel's wings. Gabriel smiled tightly at him. Michael sneered. "So you'll let them fight your battles for you and then step in to deal the final blow?"
Gabriel's expression hardened. "The little one requested you not die, and I will honor that."
For a moment Michael looked uncertain.
"You have grown distant from the flock, Michael. You've stopped being a member of this family."
Michael frowned at Gabriel's words, and his eyes darted to the angel's silently filling the room. All of their eyes were hard. He locked gazes with two. "You." He barked. "Restrain him."
Gabriel's eyes never left his, and the angel's never moved. "So you've turned them against me." Michael growled.
"You turned them against yourself." Gabriel answered, his voice just as hard. "Sam." He said, nodding at his hands. Sam instantly took his place, pushing Michael back. Gabriel's hands slipped in opposite directions, one coming up to Michael's throat, the other dropping to his waist. "I want you to know, the little one you hurt is the only reason I'm sparing your life. You need to learn what it is to love and what it is to hold someone above yourself."
"Really." Michael drawled. He tried to keep his tone disinterested, but a spark of fear in his eyes gave him away. "And how do you intend to do that?"
"I love you Michael. And I look forward to seeing you when you come back."
Michael's brow furrowed.
Gabriel pushed and a bright light that bordered on crimson filled the room. When the light faded, Gabriel caught Michael's body as he fell. He ran a hand through his hair carefully. "I'll see you soon, brother."
The air in the room seemed to lighten instantly, a happy murmur spreading out to the hall where others could not see. Gabriel smiled at Sam as his tail caught at his wrist. Dean pulled Castiel into a fierce kiss. "What happens now?" Sam asked, pride dancing in his eyes.
"He will live on Earth."
"For how long?"
"Until I come for him. The humans will teach him to love again."
"No." Gabriel said, a soft smile touching his face. "They will."
"What happens here?" Dean asked, resting his forehead against Castiel's, sighing happily when long flight feathers danced up his legs.
Gabriel smiled. "Here? Things will get better."
From an outside perspective nothing in Heaven changed. But inside… the air was almost lighter. For once a solider was not forced to love only his garrison, but was able to love all of his brothers.
The angel's still spent a large part of their time flying drills, but pressure of being forced had been lifted. Now drills became more in sync as the angel's flew competitively against other garrisons, as each tried to out do the other. Gabriel also gave them more time to watch Earth through their pools of light, doing what they could to help the humans through their daily struggle. The archangel kept a careful eye on Michael as he lived his life on Earth.
Every angel would agree that life was better.
Gabriel spent more time doing the administrative work that came with being an archangel now that Michael was gone, but his brothers visited him often, and he still spent as much time as he could flying with them as he taught Sam how to fight in the air. Occasionally Gabriel visited Michael's rooms, and watched over the still body the archangel's grace once filled. He made sure the body was positioned comfortably, and was ready for when his brother returned.
When Castiel finished his duties for the day he took Dean to the gardens. Dean lead him through the pools and through all of the other angels, until the reached a secluded area. Dean looked around carefully to make sure they were alone, and pushed Castiel back against a tree.
The angel laughed and spread his wings out to catch the sun as the demon curled up in his arms. Dean all but purred as Castiel ran a hand threw his hair. In retaliation he ran his hands through his angel's wings, biting his throat as Castiel arched languidly under his hands. "Mm. Dean?"
They both looked up as a shadow passed over them. "Get a room, you two." Sam groaned.
Dean grinned, unabashed, and moved across Castiel's body to curl into his side. The angel smiled and reached out, taking Sam's hand and pulling him down. Sam rolled his eyes, smiling good naturedly, and rested his head on Castiel's shoulder, wrapping his tail around his brother. Dean looked around. "Where's Gabriel?"
Sam smiled and closed his eyes, settling into Castiel's feathers. "He'll be back soon."
Dean frowned. "He's gone? And you didn't go with him?"
"He said Michael needed a friend. I didn't want him to think he had competition."
Castiel brushed a kiss to Sam's forehead. "That's very kind of you."
Sam scrubbed at the mark, making a face as his brother laughed. Dean finally shoved his Sam's arm. "The angel's are rubbing off on you."
"Oh shut up." Sam grumbled, settling back down.
Michael heard his mother calling for him, but he turned his eyes back to the lake, pretending that he couldn't hear her. The sun was setting over the water, and he wanted to wait for the fireflies to come out.
The voice was getting louder. Michael bit his lip, resisting the urge to call back.
There was a small crash behind him. Michael whipped around. A small boy covered in mud and leaves grinned at him from the ground. His legs were tangled in a bush, and he was up to his elbows in discarded rocks. "Hi!" He said happily.
Michael's brows furrowed, and he pointedly looked back over the water. The boy behind him grunted and noisily detangled himself, the shifting of rocks signaling when he finally stood. The boy brushed at his stained shirt and pants, and then moved to sit down at Michael's side. He held out a dirty hand. "I'm Gabriel."
Michael stared at the hand. He was surprised when instead of taking the hint and leaving, Gabriel laughed and crossed his arms over his knees, bumping their shoulders companionably. "We could be friends you know."
Michael frowned and eyed him critically. "Why would you want to be friends with me?"
Gabriel's smile softened.
Michael quickly looked away. "Look." He said, pointing over the water. Gabriel dutifully followed his gaze. "The fireflies are coming out."
"Want to catch them?" Gabriel asked.
Michael tried to hide his smile, but Gabriel's clear laugh let him know he failed. Michael thrust a hand out. "I'm Michael."
"I know." Gabriel said, shaking his hand solemnly. "Come on!" He changed his grip and began tugging Michael along behind him. Michael struggled for a moment before giving in and following the crazy boy. Neither paid any mind to the clear voice calling their names into the night.
After they'd both claimed as many of the bright insects as they could, releasing them as soon as they were caught, Michael stopped to catch his breathe. His mother had stopped calling for him a while ago, but he was sure that she hadn't forgotten about him. Gabriel ran up beside him, panting.
"I should go home." Michael said.
"Okay." Gabriel replied, his eyes shining. "Want to play again tomorrow?"
Michael frowned, considering Gabriel thoughtfully. He still hadn't figured out why the boy was so insistent on being his friend. Finally he came to a decision and stuck out his hand. "Deal?"
Gabriel's teeth flashed in the light as he caught Michael's hand. "Deal."
"Bye!" Michael called as he turned and ran into the trees behind them, jumping over logs and carefully climbing over bushes, following the secret path he'd discovered long ago. When he burst through the final trees, he saw his house, the backyard illuminated by a bright light. He saw his mother's silhouette in the kitchen.
He ran up to the back door and stepped into the house, sighing as he fell into the embrace of the warm air and the delicious smells of whatever his mother had cooked for dinner. "Mom?" He called.
"Hello, dear." Cindy answered, walking into the room. "Take off your shoes, your father should be home soon, and dinner's almost ready."
He eyed her carefully. "You're not mad?"
She laughed, walking back into the kitchen. "I've known you all your life, darling, I know when to expect you to come home."
Michael grinned, shrugging off his jacket and hurrying to the table. As his mother set a plate down in front of him she paused and touched his face. "Why are you so happy, Michael?"
His smile spread as he thought of Gabriel. "I made a friend."
"Oh really?" Michael nodded happily. They both looked up as the door opened, and a large man stepped into the room, kissing his wife and brushing a hand through his son's hair before he hung up his coat and hat.
As they ate, Michael launched into a story about the strange boy, his arms dancing wildly as he described the way they'd met, and the fun they had catching fireflies. "He wants to play again tomorrow." He concluded, his head nodding seriously. "We shook on it."
"Well, good." Jacob said, his eyes jumping to his wife. "Maybe you should have him come over for dinner."
Michael froze, suddenly uncertain.
Cindy touched his arm. "You don't have to, Michael. But if you want to, we'd love to have him over."
Michael nodded slowly.
The topic moved on to other things, and afterwards Michael excused himself to his room. As he looked out the window watching the stars, he thought about Gabriel, and all the fun they could have tomorrow. It was strange. They'd just met, and already it felt like he'd found his brother. Like he wouldn't be alone any more. His heart felt light in his chest, and he couldn't stop the happiness building in his soul.
Thank you all for reading. I've never had a story give me almost 1.5k hits a day before; I am impressed. You know what's amazing? You've just read 138 pages. Congrats! I hope you've had as much fun as I have.
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