As stars twinkled brightly against the night sky, like millions of diamonds scattered over a velvet blue drape; as galaxies swirled and powder pink clouds drifted lazily overhead; as warm breezes perfumed in the sweetness of morning dew, Heaven's littlest angel stood on a soaring cliff top, gazing out over the endless expanse of sky. The tall, damp grasses of Heaven's cliff tickled over his legs and toes, bare and chubby, and his too-loose robe that was seemingly woven out of gold, flapped wildly in the rushing winds.
Castiel peered out across the vast realm of clouds and stars before him, his bright storm blue eyes wide and unblinking in awe and wonder. Below, a flock of white birds soared amongst the floating pink puffs, weaving and diving, the freedom of their flight clear in their joyous calls to each other. Castiel studied them closely, unaware that the tiny wings sprouting out from his own back were mimicking the movement of the birds.
The baby angel scurried closer to the cliff's edge, falling to his hands and knees so he could get a better look at the birds. His little fingers curled into the grasses, gripping tightly as he peered down at the immense drop into blackness. The birds swooped and flapped with such grace and speed.
Oh, how he wished he could fly like that.
Castiel huffed, sitting back and plopping flat on his behind. He pouted and wiped his sniffly nose with the long sleeve of his robe, cheeks reddened from the wind, and dark hair sticking up in every direction.
It wasn't fair. He was the /only/ angel in the Garrison who still couldn't fly. His big brother Michael had told him it was because he was still much too young, and his wings were still… un-underdeb… underdeveloped.
Castiel wasn't some baby! He was smart! He liked watching animals and bugs, he liked hearing stories about Earth from his older siblings; and he was good at remembering big words! He had a good memory, he did!
He didn't like it when his siblings treated him like he wasn't as important as they were. He was supposed to grow up to be a soldier. He was supposed to be big and brave, and serve in his Father's army. Soldier's were very respected in Heaven, they were, they were! But, just because Castiel was tiny, everyone ignored him as they went around doing grown-up things. He had no friends; no one to talk to but the birds that always lingered around Heaven's cliff.
The birds always listened to him. He liked to tell them stories, and tell them all the things he saw his big brothers do, how he wished he could do those things, too. They never flew away when he spoke. They were good friends.
Castiel hated being little. He hated being looked over like he wasn't good enough.
Maybe if he could fly… maybe that would get him some respect. Maybe then, his family wouldn't see him as just some baby anymore.
Wrinkling his reddened button nose, Castiel stood with determination, legs wobbly from the sheer force of the winds on the cliff. Glancing over his shoulder, he looked at his wings. They were /so/ tiny as they stuck out from between his shoulder blades. The feathers were small and pale white, glistening in the golden light that seemingly came from everywhere up here. His wings weren't as well-groomed as the ones his big brother's had. The feathers stuck up a lot in places, curling at weird angles, making it uncomfortable to move. Castiel wished he could groom them, but his arms were too short to reach!
The little angel huffed, brows furrowed as he smoothed down the wrinkles at the front of his robe. Gingerly, he tiptoed closer and closer to the cliff's edge, the astounding height making him sway a little. His toes curled into the grass, and he gulped hard.
Castiel spread his wings, letting the wind flow through his feathers.
"I can do this," he whispered to himself, determination in his little voice. "I can do this."
He opened his arms, took a deep breath until his chest swelled, and leapt with all his might right off the cliff's edge. The rush of wind that greeted him sucked the breath right from his lungs, and Castiel laughed with delight. He pumped his little wings, faster, faster, faster, until they were nothing but a blur, and his body actually managed to stay air born.
Yes, he could do this! He was flying! He was flying! He was… falling.
Castiel gave a sharp squeak as the world began to tilt, and he was no longer soaring, but plummeting. His wings were tired, so very tired, and no matter how hard he flapped, they just wouldn't hold him up. His heart jumped into his throat, and he released a loud cry, when a strong hand suddenly caught him by his ankle, ceasing his descent into the clouds.
"Whoa there, little fella!" came a familiar voice. "What do you think you're doing?"
Castiel whimpered, his robe having fallen over his face while he dangled there upside down. His heart was racing so hard, it hurt. He was breathing fast. His eyes were watering with tears from fear. With one gentle motion, he was swooped into a pair of strong arms and pressed into a body that smelled sweeter than even the grasses on the cliff. His robe fell from his head, and he looked up, gazing into a pair of bright amber eyes.
"Big brother Gabriel," Castiel rubbed at his nose again, feeling incredibly shy all of a sudden. "Uh… I was flying."
"Looked more like falling to me."
The Archangel was smiling softly down at Castiel, and the littlest angel couldn't help but admire the six wings that sprouted from his back. They were big. /Really/ big, with long golden brown feathers that were lush and vibrant in the light. They flapped lazily behind him as he lifted them both back to the safety of the cliff top.
Gabriel, the Messenger, was the youngest of the four Archangel's, and the nicest, as far as Castiel knew. Lucifer and Raphael were always so grumpy, and even though Michael sometimes spoke to Castiel and the other angels in The Host of Heaven, he was hardly ever around much. Being the oldest brother meant lots of responsibilities.
Once settled on the cliffs, Gabriel sat himself down amongst the tall grasses, settling Castiel in his lap. His hair, as sleek and soft and golden as every other part of him, billowed in the breeze. There was a magnificent sword at his hip, which Castiel couldn't help but ogle.
"Well, I was /trying/ to fly," Castiel grumbled. "My wings are too stubby!"
"That they are," Gabriel said with a crooked smirk. He tugged gently on one of Castiel's wings, pulling a squeak from the baby angel. "Cute, though."
"I am /not/ cute." Castiel pouted.
"What are you, then?"
"I'm, uh…" Castiel took a moment to ponder the question. His face lit up. "I'm Castiel!"
The Archangel laughed, the sound as melodious as music. "Well, /Castiel/, just what were you doing out here all alone?"
"I always come out here," Castiel nodded eagerly. "It's my special spot!"
"That so?" Gabriel cocked a brow. "And what does a little angel do in his 'special spot'?"
Castiel wiggled into a better position on his big brother's lap and began to play with his toes. "Dunno… I like watching the birds, and talking to them."
"Do they talk back?"
"Birds can't talk, silly!"
Gabriel chuckled, ruffling his hand through Castiel's hair. "Oh, /I'm/ the silly one? What about the baby angel that jumped off a cliff, hm? I think that's pretty silly."
"I'm not a baby!" Castiel frowned. "I'm just… I'm small!"
"Babies are small."
"/Not/ a baby."
"Okay, okay, not a baby," Gabriel said with defeat. He ran his fingers through the dishevelled little feathers on Castiel's wings. "But, you do know that these things aren't made to hold you up, right? Not yet, at least."
Castiel purred, enjoying the grooming, through that pout was still present on his lips. "Yeah, Michael already told me."
"And Michael is usually right about a lot of things," Gabriel gave him a look, and then shook a finger at him. "Or we just don't question it. He can get pretty cranky when he wants to be."
Castiel couldn't repress the giggle. "They're all so grumpy!"
"Try spending all day with them. You ain't seen grumpy like I have." Gabriel snorted, hoisting the tiny angel up and onto his shoulders. He stood, then, gazing out over the cliff's edge.
Castiel squealed with delight, his little arms and legs wrapping themselves around his big brother's head. He admired the wall of golden feathers surrounding him. "I wish my wings were as big as yours."
"They'll be someday."
"But, why not /now/?" Castiel nuzzled his nose into Gabriel's hair, smelling sweetness and spice and an almost electric warmth. "I don't like being little!"
Gabriel sighed softly, and extended one of his hands. As if by some strange magic, a little blue butterfly came fluttering out of nowhere to settle on his fingers. It beat its wings lazily, the blue colour as bright and lively as Castiel's eyes. The baby angel gaped in awe, like a kitten who had just spotted a swaying piece of string, his fingers curling themselves into the Archangel's tresses.
"You see this butterfly, kiddo?" Gabriel asked. "It didn't start off with wings, either."
Castiel blinked in surprise. "It didn't?"
"Nope. It had to grow up first." The Archangel flicked his finger, sending the butterfly fluttering toward Castiel. "It was just a little caterpillar when it was born. And it would eat and eat, and grow big and strong. When the time came, the caterpillar would wrap himself up, go to sleep, and when he woke up, he'd have those big blue wings to carry him around."
Castiel watched as the butterfly settled on his nose, his eyes crossing. He sniffled, the insects little feet tickling him. He thought of Gabriel's words, of the way he explained that even butterflies needed to grow up before they could spread their wings and fly. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his little wing right next to Gabriel's. It looked so tiny and flimsy in comparison, just the thought of ever getting as big as his brother seemed almost impossible.
"You think I'll ever be as big as you?" Castiel felt his eyes water as he attempted to repress a sneeze.
"Sure do. You just gotta wait a while." Gabriel grinned back at him. "Think you can be a trooper and stick it out, kiddo?"
"I… I c-ACHOO!" Castiel couldn't hold it in anymore. He sneezed three times, sending the little blue butterfly flapping away, to disappear into the gardens. He wiped his nose with the sleeve of his robe, sniffling. "I… I think so."
"Atta boy," Gabriel gave the little angel's bare feet a squeeze.
Castiel rested his chin on his brother's head, eyes hopeful as he looked out across the expanse of sky. "Big brother?"
"…You think you can take me flying?" He wiggled his toes against Gabriel's soft palms. "Please, please, pleeease?"
The Archangel tilted his head back, pressing his nose against Castiel's as their eyes locked. He chuckled, especially as the baby angel started batting his long dark lashes. "Oh, how could I say no to those big blues?"
Castiel squeaked and bounced in excitement when those glorious golden wings stretched and extended behind him, carrying the wind. When Gabriel instructed him to hold on tight, Castiel did. He held on with all his might! The stars and clouds and galaxies below were waiting for him, waiting for them both. He could almost hear the birds calling him down. His little heart pattered hard in his chest.
"Ready?" Gabriel asked as he stepped right to the cliff's edge.
"Ready!" The baby angel nodded with excitement.
All at once, the Archangel leapt clear off the cliff and plunged into the endless sky below. Castiel gave a squeal of utter and complete joy, closing his eyes as he felt the wind in his hair and his wings, felt the cool kiss of the misty clouds at his cheeks. He felt free! Gabriel was laughing as well, gliding and dipping and soaring with expert precision, all the while keeping Castiel safely on his shoulders. The baby angel knew that, had he not been as small as he was, his big brother wouldn't have been able to do this with him.
Maybe being little wasn't so bad after all.