Disclaimer: None of it's mine.

It's not falling, exactly. Descending into a vessel does feel a bit like falling, at least Castiel would think it must, but it is not the same thing at all. He stands up slowly, frowning at the hole in his vessel's clothing which is all that remains of the man's fatal wound. His Grace repairs it even as he watches.

It is a little disturbing to realize that the man's life was seconds from ending due to a stab wound from the man Gabriel has taken as his vessel. But Castiel tries not to think of it as he focuses on getting used to the sensation of having his Grace compacted to fit into a physical shell. After spending his entire existence thus far as pure energy, it's a little uncomfortable.

Gabriel must feel it even more, since he has so much more Grace than Castiel, but his vessel is shorter. Castiel looks down at the archangel and finds himself faced with glaring brown eyes.

"Of course you get to be taller!" Gabriel says irritably, rolling his eyes.

"Is height relevant?" Castiel asks, the rasp of his vessel's voice surprising him as much as the very sensation of speech does. He can feel the vibrations in his throat and mouth, the air he needs to take in to make the sounds. It's... interesting. He hasn't decided yet if that's in a good way or a bad one, but it's something new, and he appreciates it for that.

"Although you would probably be more comfortable adjusting yourself to a larger body," he continues, "I do not see how it matters otherwise."

"It's the principle of the thing."

"That makes absolutely no sense."

Gabriel opens his mouth as though about to speak, and then closes it again, shaking his head. "Never mind. I'm not going to try explaining it to you."

Castiel tilts his head, trying to figure out if Gabriel's words are meant to be mocking, condescending, or merely frustrated. It's so difficult to read facial expressions and the sound of a voice when he is used to tracking wing movements and the flows of Grace to decipher the emotions of his brethren. But when Gabriel says nothing and simply starts walking, Castiel decides to stop trying to figure it out and just follow.

He can start work on learning how to read humans once he and Gabriel have decided what they're going to do next. The archangel was very honest with Castiel about not really having a plan, except to not get caught by any other members of the Host. Castiel agrees completely with that last part, and as for the rest...

There's something rather alluring about simply letting that develop naturally.

"Why is it that Anansi is upset with you, but I'm the one tangled in a giant web?"

Gabriel wonders how it is Castiel manages to sound both utterly deadpan and extremely long-suffering, but decides that question can wait until he gets his brother out. "Well, I'm faster than you, and Anansi must have figured that trapping you would be about as good as trapping me, for making his point at least."

Damn, he didn't do quite a good enough job of hiding his amusement. But really, seeing Cassie strung up in the middle of a giant spiderweb... He feels a little bad seeing as it's his fault, but really, Gabriel can't quite get over how ridiculous his little brother looks. The decidedly Not Amused expression he gets makes it clear that Castiel knows exactly what he's thinking and is not best pleased. Well, too bad, he should be used to Gabriel's sense of humor by now.

He snaps his fingers, and... Well. That wasn't supposed to happen. Instead of letting Castiel go, the web has wrapped him tighter, so that Castiel's lower body is now pretty much cocooned in spider silk. "Oh. Er, sorry?"


"What? I didn't realize he'd put anything special in it! You know, Cassie, it's really very hard to work with you giving me your best death glare."


"All right, all right." Gabriel rolls his eyes dramatically before approaching the web. Careful not to let any bit of it touch him, he leans forward to inspect it. Just for fun, he snaps up a pair of reading glasses, not that he actually needs them. But he thinks it makes him look more scholarly, and since he's currently studying the properties of something...

The irritated noise Castiel makes suggests that he does not see the appropriateness of the accessory. Pity, really. But Gabriel ignores him, and soon enough finds the extra tricks Anansi wove into his web. After that, it's just a matter of another snap, and this time Castiel's free.

If he hits the ground a bit harder than necessary, well, he really should have learned to appreciate his big brother's sense of humor.

"I don't think Shiva appreciated your attempt to court his wife."

One of the biggest downsides to Gabriel's cover identity as a pagan god is that the true pagans' powers are strong enough to affect an archangel. Not to kill them, though Castiel's not sure he'd be as lucky if it came to it, but even an archangel can't heal an attack from a pagan immediately. So with Gabriel having come out the worst in a fight with the Hindu god of death, Castiel wants to make sure his brother's all right.

For the most part, he seems to be, but then, almost by accident, Castiel's hand brushes Gabriel's back and his brother winces.

"Your wings?" Castiel asks, concerned. Their wings are not physical things and can't be, but there's a spot on their backs where the wings would attach, were they given solid form. That spot is sensitive, and an injury there can affect the actual wings.

"I'm fine, Castiel."

"I barely touched you and you winced," Castiel points out reasonably. Not that reason works with Gabriel, who continues to insist that he's fine. Finally, Castiel's had enough, and he pokes Gabriel in the back. Not too hard, but enough to have Gabriel yelp in shock and pain.

"What the... What was that for?"

"I thought you said you were fine."

Silence for a moment, and then a put-upon sigh. "Fine, Shiva got me in the wings, happy?" Gabriel asks, turning his head to glower at Castiel. "Look, I'll be fine, just – "

He's cut off as Castiel pushes him down so he's sprawled facedown on his bed. They're in the small house the two of them acquired in the mountains some time ago and turned into a safe house. The whole place is warded in every way possible and covered with sigils. In short, it's the only place where either of them can use their powers in full without fearing the attention of Heaven.

So Castiel pushes his brother down and tugs his shirt up to get a closer look at the injury. Whatever Shiva did, it left an angry red wound in the middle of Gabriel's back. It's not bleeding, but it still looks painful. Castiel shakes his head as he looks at it, wondering if he even can heal it. "What exactly did he do to you?"

"Tried to poke me with his trident," Gabriel explains, voice muffled by the bedcovers. "I managed to mostly dodge him, but he still got in a glancing blow. Why, does it look that bad?"

"It's unpleasant, though we've both seen far worse. Generally on humans. Are you having trouble flying?"

"Feels like I'm getting kicked repeatedly in the back when I do, but it hasn't slowed me down or hurt the function of anything. It just aches. A lot."

"Perhaps you should leave Kali alone," he suggests.

"Now, why would I want to do that? Shiva doesn't control her, and she's certainly interested in what I have to offer." Castiel doesn't need to be able to see Gabriel's face to picture his self-satisfied smirk and he shakes his head again, trying not to let himself smile. It's just typical, that even this isn't deterring Gabriel in the slightest. But Gabriel will know it if he shows the slightest bit of amusement or fondness, even if he can't see it. He always does. After centuries spent largely together, perhaps it's expected.

"You would want to do it in order to prevent this from happening again," he says instead, doing his level best to sound critical but coming out more resigned. He traces the edges of the wound with his finger, focusing on healing. It doesn't fade completely; the pagans' weapons are powerful and it shows. But he's able to turn it into nothing more than a wide pink line, the skin now looking merely irritated.

Gabriel sits up, rolling his shoulders. There's a flutter of wings and he's gone, but it's only to test them, because he's back in a moment. Or, perhaps it wasn't just to test them, as he's gotten two bowls of candied fruit from... somewhere. Perhaps he snapped them up mid-flight. He hands a bowl to Castiel, who knows that arguments of preferring things that are less sweet – or, even, the fact that they don't need to eat at all – will fall on deaf ears.

"Now, why would I worry about that when I've got you to fix me up again?" Gabriel asks with a wicked grin, and despite himself, Castiel offers a half-smile in return.

The centuries pass, and Gabriel and Castiel watch. The Trickster/Loki and the Guide, they travel the earth dispensing their different versions of what Kali once called karmic justice. If Gabriel does say so himself – and he does – his particular style has more flair. Which doesn't mean that Castiel's entirely hopeless; for his goal of making people feel bad about their wrongdoing and pushing them to reform their lives his methods work pretty well.

Gabriel just thinks things should be a little more fun.

The twentieth century gives him fodder like nothing else. He swears people might actually be getting nastier to each other, or at least braver about it. Which is ironic, since it's also in this century that lots of humans are standing up and basically telling the people in power to fuck off. But there's radio shows and comic books and television, all these things adding to the already-wild human imagination. It means there are so many more ways he can mess with people's heads.

Of course, maybe he shouldn't have practiced Comic Book World on Castiel, though he has to admit the John Constantine look kind of works for his little brother.

Aside from that, the new ways of communicating are just... interesting. Gabriel's been interested in human communication since the beginnings of it, a side effect of being the Messenger. Letters and carrier pigeons and town criers, not bad. Kind of slow, but not bad. It could be fun sometimes – he finds this out when he decides to play town crier once or twice, just because he can. But this new stuff? Radio, telephones, and especially television. Gabriel loves it. The little humans are finally catching up, and it's an entertaining sight. Especially when they start up with the movie theaters and the television shows.

Castiel, meanwhile, has a similar obsession with modes of travel. In the early days, he'd developed a fascination with riding horses, and it never really went away. It wasn't as good as flying, but it was the closest a human could come; that or standing at the prow of a ship in full sail. He plays sailor once or twice, just to see what it's like, and Gabriel's always willing to join him in a horse-race, so he gets plenty of chances to indulge in both methods.

He doesn't really get any more tools out of the changes in this century – he mostly uses dreams and hallucinations to make his point, and there's not much else one can add to that. But the way people travel... He watches them build the Transcontinental Railroad, and slips into the automobile factories to watch them come together. He regrets not being there for the first flight, but he's flown alongside nearly every model of plane that humans come up with. It's nice to see the humans he's still fond of be able to take to the sky, even if it's not quite the same way he and Gabriel can.

It's been quite the ride, this past millennium or so. Of course there's times when Gabriel regrets leaving Heaven – or rather, he regrets that he had to. Because he never changes his mind on that. He'd have gone as crazy as Raph if he'd stayed. And Cassie? Well, he'd probably have ended up as one of Zachariah's drones, and there's no way Gabriel can regret preventing that.

They're the angels of Earth, unofficially, and it's nice. The only official angel of earth has his little bookshop in London, and he keeps quiet about them in exchange for them not telling anyone about his little Arrangement with one of the Fallen. It's a nice working solution, a happy little balance.

And now something's upsetting that.

Gabriel hasn't forgotten that Castiel was originally trained as a Guardian. Guardian angels don't really exist anymore; if he had to guess Gabriel would say that Zachariah probably phased them out because he didn't think that humans deserved the 'honor'. Never mind that those who actually had Guardians were born with them, and there was a bond between human and angel that was just there, whatever anyone tried to do about it.

Cassie would have probably lost his Guardian instincts by now if he'd stayed in Heaven, but he didn't and he hasn't, so when he realizes he has another charge... It's not the first time, and normally
Gabriel wouldn't care that much, since Heaven's not usually paying attention. He actually finds Castiel in Guardian-mode entertaining. Little guy gets so damn protective. And, it also means he's distracted enough not to lecture Gabriel on his "irresponsible behavior" half as often.

But the new one? Dean Winchester? Fine, the human's not even two yet. That doesn't change the fact that he's going to grow up to be Michael's vessel, that Heaven is going to be watching and Castiel, usually so sensible, won't even let risk to himself get in the way of his responsibility to a charge. And he won't worry about Gabriel because he knows Zachariah's goons aren't good enough to beat an archangel. Which means Gabriel's going to have to find a way to save his little brother from himself. And then figure out how to get them both off the hook when the Apocalypse comes, whichever side wins.

Yeah. This is going to be a problem.