Not my characters.
"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape."
- DEATH of Discworld, as recorded by The Prophet Terry
The demons had the Winchesters and their increasingly frayed angel cornered.
"Can you pop us out of here?" Dean hissed as they pressed their backs against the wall, the leering and snarling horde ready for blood.
"That would utterly drain the last of my Grace," Castiel rasped. "Jimmy would die from internal bleeding, and I would have nowhere to go now that Heaven is barred to me."
Sam said nothing, but decided that if he needed to fall off the wagon again for it, he was prepared to drain as many demons as it took to keep the only people who still stood by him safe.
Then everything dissolved into white light.
"I think they're going to be more prone to shooting first and asking questions later, and I do not want to be sent back to Hell and have to explain myself, angel. Again. It's bad enough that I was demoted after that incident back in 1987..."
"Hush, dear, they're waking up."
Dean had been whisked away to a variety of fun and wacky places against his will. Heaven. Hell. An airplane. A suspiciously nice hotel. But this was the most unexpected.
He and Sam - Sam who was still unconscious - were flopped on a hideous plaid couch in a warmly lit room with a crackling fireplace and books lining the walls. Across from him on a little table was a tea tray set with five cups and saucers, along with a variety of dainty sandwiches and cookies.
He recognized the being sitting across from him, even though he (it) was wearing sunglasses for some reason, and promptly sat up to growl. "Crowley."
"I emptied your gun while you were out of it," Crowley said quickly. "Aziraphale, come do the exposition, would you? I'm not in the mood for posturing."
"What have you done to us? Where's Cas?"
A huge sigh followed from a voice out of sight. "Get the kettle from me, dear, I won't be able to carry it and untangle my poor brother from me at the same time."
Crowley rolled his eyes and made the 'whiplash' gesture and sound effect, but walked to the kitchen anyway.
"Your guardian is fine, Dean," this "Aziraphale" said, still out of sight. "He's just a little...er, overcome, at the moment."
Sam woke with a jerk. "What's happening? Where are we?"
"Stay calm," Dean admonished.
Crowley returned with the teakettle and Aziraphale shuffled after. He had to shuffle, because he was required to drag Castiel, who was wrapped around his left leg like a traumatized toddler. "England. London, to be precise. Oh, do stop it, little one." The man, who was probably an angel in a vessel judging by the name, looked about Crowley's age but with blonde hair, blue-gray eyes, soft white hands, leather moccasin shoes, and a tartan sweater vest. Sort of a Cosmic Librarian.
"You have traces of His Essence," Castiel whispered, his facial expression the same as it almost always was, but his eyes glistening the tiniest bit with tears.
"I'll get to that. Have some tea."
"I do not require tea."
"I find it makes everything feel better. Humans are delightful in their inventions." He touched Cas' forehead lightly, and Castiel let out a long breath.
"Thank you, Lord."
"I am not your Lord. Just another of your brothers."
Sam groaned. "More angels?"
"Aziraphale isn't your typical angel," Crowley said, spreading cream on a scone. "For one thing, he is bloody fantastic in bed."
Dean had a sudden coughing fit and Aziraphale's ears turned pink.
Castiel shook himself, then let go of the other angel and sat on the couch. "I do not understand."
"Who is this? Do you know each other?" Sam asked.
"Not personally. Only by reputation. He is not...as I expected."
"Oh, the muffins are burning!" Aziraphale cried, skittering back to the kitchen.
Crowley snickered. "Such a princess, that one. I'll fill you in, since you all seem to be a bit shell-shocked. I'm not actually a demon, first off. I'm a fallen angel. Sort of. I like to think of myself as having sauntered vaguely downwards."
"I do not see the humor," Castiel muttered.
"Oh, be quiet, Thursday. I'm one of the last of the original Host. Except the last time I helped avert the Apocalypse with Goody-Two-Wings over there I incurred Lucifer's wrath and was crammed into the body of a common demon after they thought I'd cried 'Uncle' enough times. Forced to work the crossroads, the petty bargains. Me! The original Serpent!"
"What, you were the Serpent?" Sam asked.
Dean frowned. "As in, 'Apple yummy, om nom nom'?"
"As you elegantly put it, yes. Aziraphale, now, he belongs to the tier just below the main Four and just above Castiel; the Principalities. More specifically, he was the Angel of the Eastern Gate."
Sam's eyes widened. "Him. Tea and cookies guy."
"They're called biscuits, child," Aziraphale replied, wiping his hands. "I'm afraid the muffins are lost. We'll have to content ourselves without them."
"Care to fill me in on what that means?" Dean asked.
"When Adam and Eve fell, there was an angel assigned to guard the gate with a flaming sword so they could never return to Paradise," Castiel said, staring at Aziraphale's feet. "That is the end of my knowledge concerning you, brother."
"There was no one to act as a vessel, so Father made a new body for me." Aziraphale put a sugar cube in a cup of tea and stirred it thoughtfully. "They looked so cold and scared, Castiel. Eve had a child on the way, they were naked, winter was coming. I couldn't bear to watch them."
"So the sentimental fellow just handed the sword over to Adam," Crowley said. "Have some tea, Castiel. Aziraphale makes the best cuppa in the solar system."
Castiel sipped his tea like he expected it to turn into holy fire at any moment but didn't want to be rude by declining. "You disobeyed."
"He was angry at first. Demanded to know why I did it, saying that I too would Fall. And then..." A tiny, private smile tugged at Aziraphale's lip. "I asked him what good it would do for angels to Fall if the apes could not Rise."
"You didn't tell me about that bit," Crowley said, putting a hand on Aziraphale's knee.
"No occasion to, my dear. In any case, the answer seemed to pleasantly surprise Him, and he gave me a gentler sentence. He strengthened my ties to corporeality, gave me my own Grace independent of Heaven though still answerable to it, and said that if I loved the humans so much, then my triumph and tragedy would be to live among them, ministering to them, until the End."
"Lucifer assigned me to keep tabs on this strange angel," Crowley continued, nudging the sandwiches towards Dean. "Sandwich yummy. Om nom nom. We fought and negotiated for millennia. Then, well..."
"We realized we had more in common with each other than anyone in Heaven or Hell," Aziraphale finished.
Dean gingerly chewed on the tiny finger sandwich. Watercress. It tasted okay. "How are you still, um, well, I mean, Cas is losing the angel mojo just for helping some humans, so how are you still alive after boning a devil?"
"Is that how you had to put it?" Sam asked, taking a gingersnap. "I gotta say, though, I knew you weren't a common demon from the start, Crowley. You didn't smell like it."
"He tastes more sort of like an angel that's been simmered and flambed," Aziraphale murmured.
When Cas sounded like he was having a minor implosion, Dean instinctively thumped him on the back. "Geez, Cas, you okay?"
"I have not had hot tea up my vessel's nose before. It discomforts me."
Crowley handed him a napkin. "Thing is, Castiel's power is filtered through layers and layers of Heavenly bureaucracy...like a...like a power line that has lots of other lines coming off. Aziraphale has his own little nuclear reactor. It took me a while to get used to it."
"It took me a long time to find you, since Castiel took the precaution of the wards on your ribs," Aziraphale said, tentatively ruffling Castiel's hair. Castiel looked confused but did not move away. "I finally felt a desperate plea from Castiel himself."
"Do you know where our Father is?" Castiel asked, even lower than usual.
"No. But I have reason to believe He is neither dead nor indifferent. That is what I wished to tell you. Your despair is so very heart-wrenching."
"What and where, then, if not dead or indifferent?"
"The Antichrist you have dealt with is not the first. In 1987 there was a different attempt to start the Apocalypse. We were saved when that Antichrist chose not to follow his destiny. A disobedient son ended up having a disobedient son. Much of his power is gone now, but he still can...sense...goings-on Below. He told me that Lucifer has managed to seal this Universe where we live into a bubble. For this is not the only Universe in Creation. There are worlds without number, and angels for them all. Somehow, Lucifer managed to cut this one off from the rest. Father cannot influence us until Lucifer is caged again."
"Wait, wait, wait," Sam said. "If God is gone, and Lucifer doesn't want Cas working for him, how is Cas alive?"
Aziraphale smiled. "It wasn't easy, but I called in some favors."
"You...were the one who raised me?"
"Yes. And now that I know how, I will do it again and again as many times as need be, until we can finish this."