Death sighed as he deposited Castiel on a street corner he had never seen before. It was sunny and he looked up. The sun glared through the fronds of a tall palm tree that towered above him. The grim older man that Death chose to take the form of stepped back as if to disappear when a voice behind him chimed, "Thank you, Azreal."Castiel turned to find an older black man with graying hair sitting outside what he believed to be called "a café" where humans often frequented to obtain caffeinated beverages. It looked to have been recently painted a bright orange. The man was smiling at Death from behind dark sunglass, obviously pleased as he sat alone at a silver chrome table for two. He had a cigarette between his fingers and he put it out in an ashtray on the table. Death nodded curtly and disappeared. "It has been a while, Castiel."
"Where are we?" Castiel asked. "Why did you have Death bring me here?"
"We're at the Paquale's Café, Los Angeles. I had Azreal bring you here so we could talk." Castiel frowned. The man removed his sunglasses and looked up at him amusement danced behind eerily blue eyes. "Death is his job, you never wondered if he had a real name? I name all my children."
Castiel's eyes widened.
"Have a seat, son."
Castiel immediately sat across from him, unable to do anything but obey- unable to conjure any of the anger he had held in his heart for so long. "God."
"You guessed right."
"You're-" Castiel looked him up and down.
"Morgan Freeman." Castiel tilted his head. "I know you, you don't get the reference. Trust me- it is amusing. I know you have a lot of questions and that's to be expected. But we don't have eternity to talk so I'll give you a second to prioritize them."
Castiel looked at him curiously. "You… You know what I want to ask."
"I do. But it is important that you ask them, not just me telling you the answers."
Castiel didn't understand at all. He sighed and thought on his questions. "Where have you been?"
He looked at Castiel, with deep blue eyes more ancient then anything Castiel knew. "I have been on Earth. I roam it, touching the lives of different people on a day to day basis without them knowing it. I watch the sunrise." It was like he was looking beyond the veil, into something Castiel couldn't begin to imagine. "I am also everywhere and in everything. I feel the pulse of every atom of the universe and every inch of the void. I am so old, my child. I look at you and see how much you've grown, it reminds me of how many countless years I've lived- and that was just after I invented time. I remember when I first wove you into existence, the path I saw for you."
Castiel was taken aback. "You meant for this to happen."
"I have limited how much I interfere with the lives of all things. There are still all those old bits of my Word floating around. I don't do much of the answering prayers thing but I check the messages- so to speak. You want to know why I limited myself?"
"Because you all were not happy when I just made you do as I said. Look what happened with Lucifer."
Castiel's eyes went wide. "But all the pain and all the misery-"
"Choices. The wills of so many free beings let loose upon the world. If I asserted all my will over them there would be perfect order. No wars, no fighting, all would fall in line and they would live like blissful drones. It would kill the best part of them along with the worst. I had to make a choice."
"But the apocalypse-"
"I have… intervened once or twice already. To assist those in need of it most- Joshua feels like I do not do enough- seems to think I don't care. But I had faith it would work out without me." God looked quite pleased. "Our boys handled it."
"Why did you bring me here?"
"I talk to all the angels that die. We had this talk last time too."
Castiel felt his head tilt to the side of its own accord. "I do not remember."
"You wouldn't. Most people brought back from the dead don't. It's a side effect."
"Why are you telling me this if I won't remember?"
God smiled. "A part of you remembers. Just as every part of humanity does."
Castiel decided that line of questioning would probably get him nowhere. "Why did you send me back?"
He grinned, shaking his head. "You asked."
Castiel frowned. "What?"
"Well, it wasn't just that. He needed you." There were suddenly glasses filled with liquid on the table. His was a strange pink color and the one in front of his Father was yellow. God picked up his drink. "I can see every road, every angle, and every choice anyone could ever possibly make. I am sorry that most of the big ones revolve around him. I know how much it hurts you. I know how much you want him to find peace. I cannot guarantee he ever will. It's really up to him now." God took a gulp from his glass and sighed. He set it back down and spun it a little, watching the ice cubes in it. "I promise you'll like the drink. Strawberry is your favorite."
"Dean… He'll be alright… Won't he?" God met his eyes and looked a million miles away, as if he was calculating the odds. He shook his head and Castiel's stomach dropped. "But there must be some future that-" But the pointed look from God had him biting his tongue.
"And the boys think their family is screwed up. They should see ours."
"What happened with them?" Castiel took up the drink and sipped it. For a moment he had to think on whether he enjoyed it or not. He concluded that he did and drank more.
"Sam dragged Lucifer and Michael into the pit. They will be stuck there until the universe implodes… Or until they act like adults and stop fighting for two seconds. Then maybe I'll considered ending their sentence but until then no."
"Sam will be stuck there forever?"
A grim expression took over God's face and he sighs. "If all goes well he won't. Sam, the poor boy. As much as I hate what happens to the Winchester, I hate what happened to Sam the most. The one with all the faith in me and in angels is the one picked by Satan."
"Why did it have to be Dean?"
"Because Dean wouldn't be in it for the world. He would be in it for his brother. I put my money on Dean Winchester fighting for Sam any day." A slow smile started on his face. "Just as I would bet on you when it comes to Dean."
"I keep getting things wrong. I keep making a mess."
God only shook his head. "You are going to take it the wrong way. I know you will." But he sighed and leaned back in his chair. "You break the world- it happens. Sadly, you'll screw up even worse then you already have, and it will break you back. You'll die a third time and come back without memory of who you are. You'll take on Sam's pain and the sound of my word snaps you out of it. It will force you to figure out who you really are and what you really want. It will consist of things like bees and Twister and following Dean into almost certain death. He will not understand and call you crazy. You and Dean will on the outs for a bit, but you'll come back and be there when he really does need you the most. Demons will exploit that. They always do. That is what awaits you if you return to Earth."
"So it would be better if I just stayed dead."
"But then the odds of Dean finding peace will never be restored." Castiel's chest tightened. God looked into him with eyes older than time and space and dust and souls and Castiel couldn't breathe. "You and he are so alike. One person over the world- it makes you different, Cas. It makes you special. When I made you I saw your paths and I saw Dean and knew he would be good for you. It's why I nudged you in that direction in the first place. It had to be you to save him. You were the best chance."
"But I doubted you. I questioned you."
"There always comes a time in the life of a child where their father has to step back and let them live their life for themselves." He picked up his drink again and sipped it. When he put it back down he chuckled. "What was it like to touch his soul, Cas?" When Castiel just stared at him, God grinned. "Dean's. What was it like to hold it in your hand and drag it from Hell?
Something akin to panic began to boil but he gulped and the action helped keep it down for now. "Like… light and the tides and the Impala's engine roaring to life and… Pie." He rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. "I didn't even know what pie was. I only learned later it was pie. I still find that odd."
"You've touched human souls since then. What did you feel then?"
Castiel looked away. "Nothing. I- I don't know why it just-"
"You claimed it. You claimed a soul of the Lord's as your own. Do you even know what that means?" Castiel kept his eyes away. He didn't really but he hoped he wouldn't have to say it aloud. "My poor child." God leaned forward and turned Castiel's face back to him. Castiel's eyes went wide. God's touch was- it was God's and he felt a revival of all that he was and more. This… This was God's grace. Like fire and madness and heartbreak and glory all wrapped into five fingers and a palm. It felt like being remade. "Ask me."
"Why? Why would you? Knowing-"
God smiled. "Everyone thinks they are so unimportant. So miniscule compared to how big the universe is. It's one of the wonders of being in human form. Looking at you? I see a whole other world in your eyes." He shrugged again. "My sweet angel, stop delaying. Ask me."
"But what if I-"
"Your father loves you, Castiel- without conditions or restraint. He loves all of you, so much that he set you free. He does not expect perfection, in fact I do not expect much anymore. My only regret is that I cannot be there more. But I will not break the rules I have set for myself. Now ask of me what I know you want."
"Please, send me back. Please, will you send me back to Dean? I need to help him."
"I will always send you back. All you need to do is ask."
God removed his hand from Castiel's cheek and he felt the Grace still flowing through him. God took his two fingers and touched them to his forehead.