Emotions are nearly tangible to him. The swirl around in his head, manifest at his feet. They threaten to trip him, to make him fall. Horrible, screaming, conflicting, they wage battles inside of him. Full on wars that turn his celestial brain into slop.
They're confusing. Dwelling on them only brings about more pain. There is no logic behind them. They are messy. Sloppy. Flawed. Imperfect.
Like the humans.
They're all terrifying. (And yes, terror is one of them too.) But beneath the terror, some are better than others. A warmth. A comfort. A security. And glimmer of pleasure at having (temporarily) saved some of his Father's art.
And that trust he found. Trust to tell secrets that could get him killed.
The pleasure in being given a familiar.
But some of them are so much worse. That gnawing pain, spurred on by the hurt and pleading looks in twin pairs of green eyes. The guilt.
He had never experienced guilt before.
He wishes he hadn't.
It leaves him exhausted. All the inner turmoil. And Uriel, and Zachariah, and all the other angels. They still felt nothing.
Why him, Father?
He did nothing to deserve this. He'd done everything that He'd commanded. Listened to the words of his superiors and accepted them without question.
He'd done well.
He'd been the perfect solider.
She doesn't seem at all surprised the second time he seeks her out.
It's something he thinks he is beginning to grasp. Nostalgia.
It's why Dean has that necklace around his neck. Why he never takes it off.
It's why Sam keeps the fading photograph of the smiling blonde woman in his wallet.
It's why Castiel was able to find her when his brothers failed.
She has returned to the church. It is safe there, after all. She knows it so. She understands their lack of understanding as well as he.
He lands next to her on the first row of pews.
"Hi, Cass," she says in a soft voice. Soft. So soft. Too soft to be befitting of a general in the legions of Heaven. Just the right kind of soft to be befitting of Anna.
He doesn't look at her. Studies, instead, the stained glass windows. They'll look better when it was no longer four in the morning. Better with light streaming through. Bathe the alter in purples and greens and reds and blues and oranges and maybe a few other colours that weren't part of a child's favourite breakfast cereal.
"It is…" Difficult. Painful. Confusing. He has to search for the right word, but none of them fit.
He feels. He feels and he feels and he just can't stop feeling, but that doesn't mean he knows what it is he's feeling. Doesn't mean he can put names to faces.
He has to give up with labels after a long moment, which frustrates him. At least he knows the name for that emotion.
And Anna says, "Oh, Cass," warm like tea, sweet like honey, and spilling with gentle understanding. She pulls him to her breast.
He almost shakes her off again.
Understanding these things was difficult enough already. Physical contact, however.
It was something that angels just don't do. They don't. Physical contact can strengthen your connection with the other. Make it more profound.
And look at what happened to Michael.
They avoid it now. Had it beaten into them to do so. Written into the very fibres of their existence.
Don't become that broken thing their eldest brother has.
But still. He can't bring himself to pull away. She is soft and warm and comforting and powerful. She was still stronger than he. Even after her fall. It was how she was made.
She feels like things were when things were right.
And, for one fleeting, wonderful moment, he wonders if he couldn't stay like this. Wrapped up in her arms and wings and grace. Couldn't remain there, with her protecting him from all the guilt out there. Protecting him from the silent tears that slide down Dean Winchester's face. Or the sheer, angry power of Sam Winchester.
But as soon as the thoughts enter his head, the emotions follow them in. He isn't sure if he pulls his face or shifts his shoulders or which of the human tells he'd displayed, or if it had even been human at all, but Anna understood anyway. She squeezed his shoulder and murmurs things that were probably supposed to sound soothing.
They mostly just sound like nonsense.
How can everything work out when he keeps thinking of disobedience?
Castiel doesn't ask this. Asks, instead, "Why me?"
His sister pulls back. She cups his borrowed face in her hands, her fingers brushing against stubble that would never become a beard anymore than it would ever be shaven off. "This is a gift, Castiel. Our Father has given us a gift." She stares into his eyes with the quiet intensity only an angel could muster. "And best of all, He's given you the choice to reject it."
He pulls back from her touch then, her hand drops down to his shoulder. "But why me?"
Anna just shakes her head, red hair falling all around her shoulders. "I don't know."
They sit in silence and stare out at the stars through the broken window, her hand remains on his shoulder. After a time that seems long for her, and very short for him, she says, "By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion."
She knows, like him, of how things once were. Perfect. The armies of heaven an irresistible force.
But then God made a stone too heavy, and there was Dean and Sam and humans in their immovable stubbornness.
And she knows this too. Feels the attachment to the world and the humans and the Winchesters.
The starlight reflects in her eyes when he turns back to meet her gaze. She asks, "Do you want to go home, Castiel?"
And he doesn't know.