Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down

Castiel didn't take on that liquor store alone. Set during Ep05.17 '99 Problems'. One shot.

I wanted to do a humorous missing scene with Cas running afoul of the law for burglarizing a liquor store, but I thought it would be kind of misplaced. While watching a wasted Castiel was kind of funny, it hit me that it was actually quite bleak, mostly stemming from the despair of a son realizing that his father was not the person (deity?) he thought he was. So instead I churned out this dark little one shot. And, seeing as nobody should drink alone, I threw in Gabriel as a (less than) supportive big brother.

The title is taken from the Merle Haggard song of the same name (country songs are great for tales of woe). I also have a habit of inserting comments into my stories, and they end up appearing as endnotes.

I own nothing recognizable – that belongs to Kripke and Co. Rated T for some language.

If Gabriel was expecting anything when he flew into that open liquor store in the dead of night, it wasn't this. The image of Castiel standing in the middle of the room surrounded by opened boxes and empty bottles reminded him vaguely of when the angel of death had stood at the heart of Constantinople watching as the dead piled up due to the Justinian Plague. It was doubt.

Only Castiel had crossed that threshold already. He had moved on to despair. Gabriel watched as he lifted the whiskey bottle in hand to his lips, realized that it was empty, and threw it away in disgust. "What do you want, Gabriel?" he asked, not looking at the archangel.

"Well some Eiswein would be nice, but you've clearly gone through all of that," Gabriel said, picking up cracked bottle of the expensive stuff from the floor. "Didn't realize you had such refined taste, little brother."

Castiel's response was to let out a belch totally unbecoming of him. Gabriel couldn't help give an amused laugh in return. Castiel finally turned an angry glare at him. "What're you laughing at?" he said, putting a little more effort into pronouncing words than he normally did. "Our Father has abandoned us. This is no time for revelry."

"Don't you think you're being a little melodramatic, Cas?"

"Well you're being too unde… undemons… undem… fuck it, I can no longer use big words," Castiel said, swaying a bit as he reached out to grab another box off the shelf. He missed, it fell, and he let out another curse, this time in Enochian, before grabbing the next box, ripping it open and popping the top of the bottle in a surprisingly coordinated manner. "You are too calm," he finally said, before downing it all in one go, not taking a breath. He didn't stop until it was all gone, and then he dropped the empty bottle, slumped to the floor, back to a wall, eyes closed.

While this was all kind of funny to Gabriel, who had never seen his brother break out of military rank file, let alone drinking himself stupid, he knew he probably should at least make an effort to stop Castiel before he consumed enough alcohol to water a rainforest (should that particular rainforest have a death wish). First he figured he would reason with him. "Okay, Cas, tell me what's going on."

"I'm drinking," he replied, although he didn't move from his position.

"I can see that," Gabriel said, still a little amused. "And I'd really wish you'd stop, because while hi-freakin-larious, it's a little disconcerting seeing that it's you. But for the moment I'll settle for asking why you're drinking."

He opened his eyes and looked at him. "Because our Father has forsaken everything," he said again, slowly, as he was the one talking to a wasted idiot.

"And you're sure about that?"

"He speaks to Joshua, and He told him so. Bastard," he said, his tone a mix of fury and desolation. "And to think I believed." He reached over, took another box of wine from the shelves, opened and proceeded to drink it all up.

Gabriel decided he needed to physically interject this time and so he grabbed the bottle out of his hand. Castiel blinked, and then he turned furious blue eyes on him. "What are you doing?"

"Relieving you of any more liquor before you kill thousands more of your vessel's brain cells."

"Jim is already dead without me."

"Now, now, that's no excuse to desecrate his body. Isn't it supposed to be a temple?"

"The last thing I need is to have scripture thrown in my face," he said darkly.

"Hey, remember who you're talking to here, little brother," Gabriel snapped, pointing a finger at himself. "I'm the Strength of God—"

"A dubious title."

"That better be the alcohol talking," Gabriel said. "And don't interrupt when I'm in the middle of a tirade. Where was I? Yeah, Strength of God – a title that's better than 'Angel of Thursday', you douche – and I've lived scripture. I WAS in scripture, for crying out loud."

Castiel rolled his eyes. "Yes, I know, 'And in the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the name of the virgin was Mary…(i)'"

"But I didn't touch her, I swear," Gabriel defended.

"I don't understand," Castiel said, giving him a confused look.

Gabriel sighed. "Of course you don't," he said, and then he looked at the bottle in his hand, shrugged and took a sip. He immediately made a face and tossed it away. "Ugh, Retsina… 2002 must've been a really shitty year. You ought to be thanking me for taking this away from you."

Castiel was quiet for a moment, but then he gave his brother an earnest look and asked, "Why are you not more upset about this? Our Father has deserted us. He does not care, especially now that we are in our time of need. It flies against all that we have been led to believe, to love. And yet you take it so calmly."

"Truth be told, Cas, we suspected it for some time," Gabriel said. "Mike, Raph, myself and the other archangels… hell, why did you think Metatron went and got an extended vacation? Why Azrael buried herself in her work(ii)? Or why I went into hiding? Of course downside to that is that Mike became completely in charge."

Castiel nodded and said in all seriousness, "Michael is a dick."

Gabriel stifled a laugh and said, "Yes, yes he is. I see being around the Winchesters is thankfully doing you some good."

Castiel put his head in his hands and groaned.

"… And doing damage in other areas, apparently," Gabriel noted dryly. "Still, my point, little brother, is that suspecting it made it easier to brace myself for the truth."

"Does it hurt less?"

He had him there. Gabriel considered that for a moment and replied, "No. It still fucking hurts pretty bad."

They were quiet again, two immensely powerful celestial beings that had seen the rise and fall of nations, yet both invariably feeling like they were currently tethered to a crumbling incline by a shaky rope. Their contemplation was interrupted when a beeping noise cut through the silence.

"Is that your phone?" Gabriel asked with some level of incredulity.

Castiel was patting down his numerous pockets, murmuring something about human gadgetry being an unholy pain. Gabriel snapped his fingers and the phone materialized in his hand. "You have a message," he said, and then played it.

Sam's voice came from the tiny speaker. "Cas, hey, uh, it's me. So we are in Blue Earth, Minnesota, and um, we could use a little help. There's something going on here; there's been a whole lot of demon activity and, well, it just doesn't add up. I…hope you get this," he finished, and then the message ended.

"Eloquent, isn't he?" Gabriel observed.

"Help," Castiel's voice was actually a little derisive. "They only call me when they need help."

"And yet you still hurry when they whistle, don't you?"

"That was back when I thought aiding them would be worth something. Now, however, the point seems to be moot. Give me a good reason why I should go."

"Well… it is Thursday(iii)."

Castiel glared at him. Gabriel grinned impishly back at him. Presently Castiel gave a groan as he got to his feet. Before he could leave, however, Gabriel stopped him.

"Hey little brother…"

"Yes, Gabriel?"

"Don't go spreading it around that we had this conversation, especially to your plaid-wearing jockeys, would you?" Gabriel said. "Barring the fact that I'm technically in hiding, I do still have a reputation to uphold."

"Your secret is safe with me, brother," Castiel said. He moved solemnly to go, but the effect was ruined a bit when he stumbled over an empty bottle and let out another low curse. And then he spread his wings and was gone.

Gabriel was left standing alone in the ruined liquor store, drastically depleted of its merchandise. He hoped for the owner's sake he had kickass insurance.

The archangel grabbed an untouched bottle from the counter and opened it. Before he put it to his lips, however, he turned his eyes heavenward and said, "I believed too, you know." And then he drank. Because where there is emptiness, something has to fill the void. It wasn't the first time, it wouldn't be the last.

It also never helped.


i Luke 1:26 – The Annunciation.

ii A reference to my other story, 'The Voice of Shawn'. I know, I know, cheap plug!

iii According to lore, Castiel will willingly help any person who asks for help on this day.