"Please..." he was hoarse from praying. The snow lay piled around him, mirroring his mood of cold isolation in a fit of exuberant pathetic fallacy. "Am I doing the right thing? Just... give me a sign..."
Castiel sighed, his voice weak from talking so much. He rested his head in his hands, letting the eerie silence of his surroundings envelope him.
Another prayer, another desperate call for help, and nothing.
He took a deep breath in an effort to regain the tattered remains of his composure, and stood. He was about to leave when, all of a sudden, a motorbike shot into view and screeched to a halt in front of him.
The motorbike shone and gleamed in the winter sunlight, seemingly impervious to the mud, snow or slush around it. The figure riding the motor bike was clad in denim and leather, seemingly also impervious to grime, his hair slicked back and his eyes glinting mischievously.
"Heey..." He drawled, pulling on his jacket lapels and giving a double thumbs up. He stood for a moment, as if expecting some sort of response from Castiel.
Castiel was too busy trying to remember how to blink and talk at the same time.
The motorbike rider sighed, his shoulders slumping, before shooting a glare at the stunned angel.
"I don't know why I bother. Pop culture really did just pass you by, didn't it, little brother?"
After another moment of blinking rapidly and opening and closing his mouth, Castiel managed to produce sound.
"What? You think you're the only son of God blessed with the power of recombobulation? I got back the same way you did, Dad said it would be so." He leant against the motorbike, his trademark smirk firmly in place. "He put me on hold for a little while, admittedly, but he knew to bring me back when the time was right. And if there's one thing I pride myself on, it's timing." He grinned as Castiel sat down heavily, still a little stunned.
"Well." Gabriel sat down next to him. "That and how generally awesome I am."
"So... God sent you here?"
"You wanted a sign, Castiel. What better sign than your formally deceased brother riding a Harley and dressed up as Arthur Fonzarelli?"
Castiel nodded, although Gabriel could tell a large amount of that statement was lost on him. He looked at his brother, and realised that the last few months must have been hard. He looked older than Gabriel remembered, and wearier. This grim, ragged expression spoke of stresses and strains that were beyond what a person should have to bear, and there was something in his eyes that was innately sad. He had lost that irritating naivety, and instead now had the unsure yet grim dedication of a child soldier; a child who knew he had to do something horrible, but didn't know quite why.
"What does He say?"
"He says it's kind of your own call. That's the price of free will; he can't tell you what to do any more. But if you feel like you shouldn't do it, maybe you shouldn't do it."
Castiel glared at him. Gabriel shrugged.
"Come on, he's never been one for specifics. You want to know what I think? Brother to brother?"
Castiel made no comment, resting his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands, glaring angrily at the ground. Gabriel chose to take this as a yes.
"Don't do it. Breaking into purgatory is not a good idea..." He reached into his jacket pocket, taking out a Hershey bar. "For you."
Castiel turned his glare on Gabriel, who sighed, not liking having to play the bad guy. He'd never really had anything against Castiel, or any of his siblings. Well, maybe Lucifer and Michael... actually, most of the other Archangels were kind of tools, but all of his younger siblings, the lower ranks, he had kind of liked in a big-brother sort of way. He broke off a piece of the chocolate bar and waggled it under Castiel's nose. When Cas didn't take the chocolate, he continued waggling it at him, being increasingly irritating until Castiel swiftly grabbed the chocolate and threw it into a nearby bush. Gabriel just raised an eyebrow and created some more.
"Eat the damn chocolate, or I will shove it up your nose."
Castiel glared for another moment, before grudgingly taking the proffered piece. Gabriel sat back, a little happier.
"Do you know where angels go when they die?"
Castiel said nothing, but Gabriel didn't really care, he was still talking.
"They can't go to Hell, and they can't go back to Heaven, because that would kind of defeat the purpose, now, wouldn't it? So where does that leave, Castiel?"
Castiel tensed for a moment, freezing in the act of biting into the chocolate bar. He chewed slowly and deliberately, before swallowing and turning mournful eyes to Gabriel.
"Yep. And believe me, there are a lot of people in there. Humans, animals, Angels, Demons, monsters, you name it. And a lot of them will not be happy to see you. A lot of them have already lost their souls. Heck, a lot of them enjoy being there. They won't hand over their souls to you, and you can't exactly battle in Purgatory."
"Why not? We could..."
"No, Cas, you're not listening. You physically can't battle in Purgatory. It doesn't work."
"It's a train station. An endless train station. Subway, above ground, people see it slightly differently depending on what you're used to. But it only exists for a space of ten minutes between when the trains actually arrive. Then those ten minutes just repeat themselves over and over. It's like Groundhog Day, except you pick up on it sooner and it's not as irritating."
"You didn't like Groundhog Day?" Castiel cocked his head to the side, brow furrowed.
Gabriel stared at him for a moment, before deciding not to ask how, when or why his brother saw the film, just in case he got a truthful answer.
"Anyway... you can't fight a battle somewhere people just relive the same ten minutes over and over again. There wouldn't be a winner. Plus..." Gabriel ate the last of his Hershey bar, before remounting his motorbike. "A lot of them are still kind of pissed that you killed them. Like Rachael, she stormed up and down that platform for seven cycles before jumping out onto the tracks."
"Don't worry, the trains never arrive, so she just lay on the tracks with a sprained ankle for a few minutes before everything reset and jumped back to the start."
Gabriel sat on his motorbike for a second, staring around at the heaven they were in. For a moment, he seemed sad, awkward and homesick, staring at the surroundings.
"If I can't open purgatory... what will I do?"
"You'll think of something. Between you and the Winchesters, one of you will somehow manage to save the day."
Castiel nodded, a new wave of depression washing over him. The Winchesters. That was a problem all on its' own.
"Don't worry about them." Gabriel laid a hand on his brother's shoulder, before starting the ignition and revving the bike. "They'll understand soon enough. Dad knows, you've been through worse."
"Where are you going?"
"I'm not sure." Gabriel grinned, his eyes once again shining with mischief. "I might go back to Norway for a bit. Or maybe set up a new life in the Bahamas, I haven't been there for a while."
He straightened his lapels again, shooting a wink over at his brother, who watched him with his standard "confused pigeon" expression. Gabriel rolled his eyes, and kicked up the kickstand.
"Trust me, Castiel. Things will get better. There are happy days ahead."
And with that, he drove off at break-neck speed, before quickly disappearing in a screech of tires. Castiel sat back down in his snowy corner of heaven, and wondered exactly what sick sense of humour his father really had.