Disclaimer: Author does not own the characters and is making no profit off this fan-made story .
A/N: I actually kind of started this as a stream-of-consciousness loosely going through one of many options of what may be to come in the rest of S6. I'm not sure where I'm going with it, any feedback anyone has to improve/continue would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
"Be still, and know that I am God." –Psalm 46:10
There is a thick, heavy gray mist spilling veiling the pre-dawn glow that would signal the sun rising over Eastport any other morning. The mist washes out the vivid green-blue of the water, hides the shade of blue that resembles a robin's egg before the sunlight brightens it to a brighter hue later in the day. This might be a poor version of the Father's wondrous creations; it may pale in comparison to the magnificent mountain ranges of the Andes, capped in white and covered in the golden light of day. It may indeed be a poor example of his Father's glory when judged against the monastery carefully hidden in wrappings of lush forestry in Nepal, where he shared a morning of silent contemplation with a sun spirit cloaked in the guise of a traveler seeking solace and revelation of a sort that could not be received in prayer or from Heaven. It certainly doesn't stand up to gold-flecked hazel-green eyes that reflect a beautiful soul made up of more light than he'd ever seen—though, he reluctantly admits, he may be biased.
Still, Castiel has chosen this place, a familiar bench on an unfamiliar dock, to rest—and despite the Winchester-toned voice in the back of his mind making disdainful comments, he finds that he can still sense an ethereal beauty about the dull, mist-veiled seaport. He had once told Dean that humans were his Father's works of art—that still holds true, and he finds that he can still enjoy the pleasant warmth of human emotions and thoughts despite the contrasting darkness of their less-desirable qualities.
His focus is currently on the soprano-soft hum of an expectant mother singing to her unborn child as she moves through her morning routine. The new soul is still flushed with golden light, fresh from Heaven. Its presence is refreshing, and sends a warm glow through his Grace as it reaches automatically for him. The golden light also brightens the mother's soul and her soft honey-colored eyes that he cannot physically see from where he sits. The mother's name is Mary. She will call the girl-child Faith.
Mary is not the only one of the humans who has started her day, but her soul calls to him. As she does every morning, she prays while she sings to her unborn daughter. Lord, thank you for another beautiful morning. Please watch over the Bentleys while they travel. Please bless Gina's new little one, and help her find a name for the poor kid before they call him something terrible like Apple. A warm, sunny laugh. Oh, and tell Grams hi for me. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
It is a thoughtful prayer, and it unexpectedly warms him just as the new soul did. He knows he could lose himself easily in this warmth, for a time. The concept is pleasant just as it is troubling. Angels do not measure time. It is a thing that is outside the realms of Heaven and Hell, altered to suit otherworldly intent. Humans measure it by breaths and heartbeats, hours and days and years. If angels ever judged the passing of time by anything, Castiel knows they would choose to measure the fluctuations in the human souls they observe. He knows that the golden soul of Mary's little daughter will dim with age and experience, then will brighten with other vivid colors that reflect her personality. As the soul nears the end of its time on Earth, it will develop into a thing of multihued silvery beauty, and it will return to rest in the Fields. This will all happen in an indefinable span to an angel; angels are not affected by time.
Castiel has fallen into a place where he is, most definitely, being affected by time.
He frowns at the realization. Though he had appreciated the feeling of peace that Eastport had provided, he realizes that he is digressing, getting carried away with his thoughts. It is not opportune, and it is certainly not convenient. But he has had so little time to think of late. At least, too little time to think of anything that is not related to the war he is waging against his brothers—his brothers of whom he is ashamed, his brothers whose blood stains his hands—and he regrets that, now. Perhaps he would have held onto the shreds of humanity he had gleaned from his time on Earth if he had had the chance to ruminate on more than the duties of a soldier and a general.
The battle is at an impasse, for now. Since the gathering of the weapons, Raphael has grown still. Castiel knows as a skilled tactician that this would be the best time to strike his elder brother down—but Raphael's units have been organizing a frenzied campaign of attacks against Castiel's following, obviously meaning to strike at and deplete their waning masses before Raphael makes his next big move. In the last several days, however, the attacks have petered out, and Castiel's lieutenants are gathering what information they can in order to preempt Raphael. The lapse in battle has given him this moment to recuperate depleted strength and put his mind to simpler things, and he is grateful for it.
He finds that he desperately needs this moment of respite, to gather together his memory and to process through all the pieces that seem to have fragmented, leaving his justifications and his reasoning blurry. He finds it increasingly difficult to remember why he is fighting this war, a problem he had encountered before, during the Apocalypse. It is a problem that he would have easily solved then by reminding himself of his faith in a green-eyed human, full of heat and fury and righteousness. He has grown since then, and simultaneously has become more and…less. Less than he was when he spent time with Dean and Sam, certainly.
His shoulders roll as he heaves a heavy sigh. His fingers interlace before his lips, and his eyes narrow as they stare blankly ahead over the water. Rebel, guardian, comrade, friend… All mantles that he has held at one time. Now sheriff. Now general. Now soldier, yet again. He no longer has the privilege of time in order to take up the roles he had, though he has tried his best to be there when he could. Still, there is a distance, now, between him and his charges. It is in Sam's reluctant glance. It is in Dean's furious tirades and his blazing eyes. He regrets it. He truly does.
Now that his mind has turned to this darkening place, he becomes more certain of why he chose to take his rest here in Eastport. He might have returned to Dean and Sam, might have again tried to mend his way across the rift that separates him from the brothers now. Here in the darkened seaport, he can easily watch them from afar to satisfy his protective urge to keep them safe. He can put off the next meeting that will inevitably end in his inability to make the brothers understand what he is doing, and why he cannot share the details they crave so desperately just yet. It just isn't the time. He feels raw, scraped bare, and he isn't strong enough—not even with the weapons. It isn't so much a question of the strength of his Grace, but…his Grace is a part of the problem.
He feels it as a niggling thing, something swirling in the deepest part of his Grace. He somehow knows instinctually that there is something wrong—that there has been, perhaps since even before Balthazar relinquished the weapons to him. The light and the warmth that he feels, that bring him comfort and power, seems to be flickering slowly. The sensation is different from before, when he was slowly falling. That had been like a slow burn, a transformation not wholly unlike the taking of a vessel: his Grace sliding like liquid to compress and conform to Jimmy Novak's body, eddying about Jimmy's soul like a protective veil. His Descent had felt much the same, a hot liquid sensation as his Grace turned, shifting from other to human.
It had been different. This time, this feeling…
It feels like his Grace is choking, drowning—diminishing, like a flickering flame ravaged by a wild storm. It hurts, in the distant way that he feels and comprehends pain. And along with the feeling of his Grace struggling to contain itself within him, he also understands that he is slowly losing himself and his emotions—all that has come to make him Cas, the angel that rebelled against Heaven and ultimately had his shattered faith in his Father restored when he realized that perhaps free will had been what God had intended to prevail all along.
He keeps the knowledge to himself. Who would he tell? Balthazar would only worry needlessly and try to force him to step back from the war—an option he does not have. He cannot allow Raphael to resume the Apocalypse—Dean and Sam have already suffered enough. They will suffer as long as the Apocalypse remains a viable means to bring Paradise to Earth. And he doesn't know if he can trust his brothers to continue to fight against Raphael's might without succumbing to his will.
Bringing him to another point about sharing his concern over his Grace. Aside from Balthazar, Castiel is uncertain that he can trust his brothers and sisters with this.
And the only other beings that he trusts are the humans he has come to consider a strange sort of family—Dean, Sam, and Bobby. He knows better than to burden them with this. He knows better than to presume that, after long months of anger and bitterness, he can just share such troubling news with them only to have to disappear back to the fray again immediately after. He does not want them to worry. They have other problems to focus on. And if he is being honest with himself, Castiel can't truly say that he doesn't expect Dean would be angry with him if he told him about this—he will be angry at Castiel either way. Castiel feels too weary, too burdened to add another reason for Dean to lash out at him—fuel to the fire.
And he isn't even sure what the matter is—he only knows that his Grace feels…wrong, somehow. Needless to worry his human family over something when he has yet to identify what it means.
He is aware, even without a memory of Dean's voice in his mind, that he is making bullshit excuses. He is aware that he needs to drop a pair, and man up, and spit it the fuck out, already. And he is aware that Dean wants him to just tell us what the hell's going on, Cas! And…
And this is the very reason that he had chosen not to return to Dean. He huffs a breath of frustration. It just so happens that Dean can manage to distract him and make him doubt himself even if he isn't with his hunter. He heaves another sigh, and returns his focus to the stillness of the morning. He lets it fill him with a false sense of calm, emulates this calm as only a master can.
He wonders how long Dean will resent him for lying, even if it is by omission.
Mary's humming ceases as Faith kicks, and the expecting mother releases a startled laugh. The sunrise begins to peek through the thick veil of fog, the heat cutting through the tendrils of mist as it begins to dissipate.
There is a sound of rustling feathers as Castiel shifts through the undercurrent of space and flees his temporary haven.