Character(s)/Pairing(s): Kali, Castiel, Gabriel (deceased), background Kali/Gabriel
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any related characters. Those all belong to Kripke and the CW. The art is by the lovely viviantanner.
Summary: The good-bye came late for both of them, neither one realizing what this Apocalypse could end up costing them. Freedom comes at a high price.
Author's Notes: Written for spn-reversebang, with art by the lovely viviantanner. I really hope this story is up to par with the lovely piece that inspired it! Title of this fic is taken from the title of the art. And much thanks to Kimmi, my beta. What would I do without her? Please visit my livejournal to see the art at (remove spaces) patriciatepes. livejournal. com
The Late Goodbye
He didn't arrive in a flutter of wings, as most of his kind usually did. Not that Kali had a lot of experience with angels. The dead one lying on the floor beneath the balcony on which she stood, his wings burned like ash into shadows around him, was the only angel Kali had really ever known. And, for the longest, she believed him a god, like herself.
And now this new angel was here. Or, rather, she thought he had been an angel at one point. He was mortal now. There was nothing to him… nothing, extra, like the one she had known had had. She could always sense that about Loki—Gabriel, she amended to herself. She could always sense his… aura? Grace? His something. But it was barely a shadow on this new arrival. Nothing more than a hint left on his overcoat-covered shoulders now. He paused just over the dead angel's body, his head turned downwards and cocked slightly to the right. Kali leaned forward, resting her hands on the rail before her. They curled seemingly instinctually, her black-painted fingernails scraping the lacquered wood just a little. Her dark eyes bright with interest, she summoned her inner goddess to listen in on what the new arrival was saying.
"Brother," he whispered, bending down.
It escaped his lips like a sigh, and his hands traced the burned wings around him. Kali wished she could see his face. There was a deep sadness in his voice. In fact, it almost dripped from his words. Her brow furrowed as she listened as intently as her preternatural ears could, waiting for the new arrival to say something else. There was silence for a long moment. Finally, the angel sighed once more, hanging his head low.
"You were loved, Gabriel. You were loved, and you ran—from all of it. From Father, from us, from the Apocalypse. You were afraid, and you ran," he murmured, as if his deceased brother could actually hear him.
It sounded very closely to berating, like this new arrival was angry for have loved and lost Gabriel. Kali huffed, keeping it so quiet that she wasn't even sure the noise had been aloud. She wasn't so sure if this angel was wrong in berating Gabriel for abusing the love of others, for having taken it and leaving so soon.
Had she loved him? Kali pursed her lips, finding this new question odd and distasteful. Yes. She believed that she had, at one time, truly loved the man she had called Loki. He had lied to her, betrayed her, lived as if he was something he was not. In his own faith, he had blasphemed, taking on a pagan identity. But when they had been together, when she had truly believed him to be Loki, the Trickster God… they had been good.
Love was an odd emotion for her. Yes, the later followers of her faith painted her to be more benevolent than she had been in the past, but she credited that to her less active course as of late. No, she was Kali, consort (former) to Shiva. She was a goddess of time and death and blackness. In her faith, she was the one whom people saw as they breathed their last breaths—and it pained her, just a little, that Gabriel had seen someone else before his final moments instead. But Gabriel was gone. Lost to this Biblical Apocalypse—which, incidentally, was the whole reason the gods who had not gathered in more than millennia had gathered her in the first place. This damned Apocalypse had cost the gods greatly—all of them, from all cultures. If those bloody angels had their way, the whole world would come crashing down, and then it wouldn't matter who she had loved or not. It would all be lost.
There had been a time when this would not have fazed her. Shiva, maybe, but not her. In fact, there had been a time when she had thought herself incapable of true love. But Loki—Gabriel—had taught her differently. Her eyes moved back to the new angel, and she really wished she could learn his name. Her mind searched itself, wondering if perhaps Gabriel had mentioned another angel before. After a moment, she realized that this was not the case. She shook her head, and watched as the coat-ed angel stood back, shoving his hands into his beige pockets. He turned his head, and she could finally make out some of the detail on his face. He was fair-skinned, only barely sun-kissed (and that was probably by accident). His black hair was mussed, and poorly kept. And his deep, ocean blue eyes… they were beautiful, and they seemed to be gleaming in the florescent lights of the hall. It took her a moment longer before she realized that they were tears. And her breath caught.
Someone was… crying over Loki's death. Over Gabriel. And this hollow feeling in her chest… suddenly she had a name for it. She was doing just as this angel was—she was grieving. Her ruby-painted lips stretched ever so slightly as images of the past played over her mind.
She had met Loki several, several hundreds of years ago. He had just finished destroying an entire council's worth of upstart politicians—in one form or another—leaving the destruction of that society all but assured. Of course, it had thrived on in other forms, but the old ways? The way it had used to be? That was gone. Thanks to Loki. Kali had been impressed, which was no easy feat. She stifled a laugh to think of it now, to think of how those people had cried "end of days!" over those events. Oh, if only they had survived to the here and now. If only they could see what the end of days truly looked like. Such a grand event… and most of the humans now barely even recognized it happening. So much more was set to be lost—more than the angel whose body splayed before her and his brother. And the grief of just this one life was aching Kali in ways that she would have never dreamed possible. She wondered if the Apocalypse would affect the world in this way. The thought, even being who she was, made her a little sick.
The new angel turned away, his eyes still cast downward. He seemed to be muttering to himself, and Kali released the rail to cross her arms about her chest. Was this the pain that the deaths she had caused in the past were like? Did the victims of her wrath—of the wrath of Shiva—feel in such a way? Her lips pursed. It was horrible to watch. She was usually gone the moment after she had exacted what it was she had come for, never staying to gloat—it wasn't in her nature. But she had always reveled in chaos, knowing that it gave her and her former consort much to do. Chaos creates life and order by its nature. That was what she had always believed. But she had never seen this side. This grief, this pain, this gnawing void of nothingness that Kali knew she was not the only one feeling. Humans were groveling, sniveling little bits of nothing, barely worth the air they breathed. But if the Apocalypse was going to bring this pain to all, this pain… even they didn't deserve it.
He had arrived by bus. It wasn't the usual method of travel that Castiel was used to, but ever since he had lost his grace—lost it to the last act he thought he would have to do to help the Winchesters (since Dean had seemed so keen on accepting Michael)—he had not even had the ability to fly. It felt… shaming, to have to travel as humans did. And he knew that this was pride—hubris—making him feel such. And thus, the shame was furthered. But he was a warrior, a true servant of God, and he had learned to adapt. So, head held high, he strode into the hall that still held the body of his brother.
Gabriel was splayed on the floor, his wings burned into the polished hardwood around him. He approached him slowly, curiously, as if he had never seen this before. Like he had never witnessed the deceased forms of his brothers and sisters. But the sad reality was, ever since the Apocalypse, he had seen this more often than not. His head cocked to the side, he stared down at Gabriel. His eyes drooped a little.
"Brother," he whispered.
He got to bended knee, intending to reach out, touch what was no longer there. His eyes closed fully now, he fought the urge to pray, as was custom. Usually, they prayed to announce the death of a fellow, but with him being hunted by all of Heaven and Hell, praying was no longer wise. A sad day, this. Now, he reopened his eyes, letting them fall upon his brother. He sighed, shaking his head.
Why did the death hurt so much? He had counted Gabriel among the lost long, long ago. After the first war with Lucifer, they had all thought Gabriel dead and gone, and Castiel had mourned then. His mourning should be done with, over. But instead, it seemed fresh… mixed with something else. His hands clenched into fists, and his breath quickened. Gazing down at Gabriel's face—peaceful, despite his rather painful death (death wasn't easy for an angel)—he resisted the urge to hiss at his departed brother. Instead, he allowed his grief to form words.
"You were loved, Gabriel," he said, the words coming out hard. "You were loved, and you ran—from all of it. From Father, from us, from the Apocalypse. You were afraid, and you ran."
He had looked up to Gabriel, one of many of his elder brothers. Gabriel had been a strong warrior, full of light and love for not only his fellow angel but for the humans that their Father raised above all others. He had respected Gabriel and had taken his death harder than most. And then, suddenly, Gabriel was alive again. Alive, and masquerading as the trickster god, Loki. A shameful, blasphemous thing… and he wanted nothing to do with the Apocalypse, save for wanting it over and done. He hated the way that his family had fought and squabbled. But who among the angels hadn't? Castiel had hated it as well, but he had stayed. They had all known the end was coming the moment that Sam and Dean Winchester had been born. And all Gabriel had wanted was an end. Hell, Heaven, he didn't care who won. He had just wanted the fighting to stop. And that's why he had hidden himself. Why he had faked his death.
Disappointment. That's why this second death hurt so much. He had found Gabriel again, only to lose him… but Castiel had lost so much more. He had lost his idol. The one angel he had thought of throughout this whole, apocalyptic mess as the one who would've stood up to the elder brothers behind the event, even before Castiel had.
But, even as that ebbed away in his mind, a new thought—a much more pleasing thought—replaced it. Hadn't that been what he had done? Had Castiel not had that right about him? True, it had taken the Winchesters to give Gabriel that final push. To talk him into doing the right thing. The only real family Castiel had had left had convinced Gabriel to take a stand against Lucifer, against the wrong that all the angels were participating in… and it had gotten him killed. He knew that should anger him, make him feel the heat of disappointment that he had first felt when he had arrived. But, instead, a sort of relief had washed over him. Gabriel had died doing the right thing. All that Castiel had known of his brother had been true after all.
He stood, putting his back to the body, and he felt warm tears fill his eyes. Gabriel's death had not been in vain. It had stood for something. And the Winchesters had informed him that he had been the one to give them the keystone to their plan to stop the end of the world. Had Gabriel not sacrificed himself, the world would've most certainly been lost. Now, it was back to being a maybe. Castiel had only lost his grace for the Winchesters—for the world… but Gabriel had lost his life. But Castiel was grateful.
A sniffle—not his own—drew his attention skyward. Eyes narrowed, he saw that a dark-skinned woman, her black hair making a curtain over her face and shoulders, watched him from above. In a blink, she disappeared, only to reappear directly across from him. He almost reached for his blade—better for killing angels, but useful in a pinch—but the woman smiled.
"My name is Kali," she said.
Castiel's body was still tensed, and he nodded. "I am Castiel."
"You were one of Loki's… forgive me, Gabriel's brothers?"
Castiel blinked, surprised that this pagan deity knew of his brother's true identity. But after a moment, he remembered the Winchesters' account of what had taken place here. Kali had been the only god to survive Lucifer's arrival, and that was due to Gabriel and the Winchesters as well. Dean had also made a point of mentioning that he thought that Gabriel and Kali had been an item once. Castiel had been unsure of what this terminology had meant, but Sam had taken him aside and explained that this meant that Kali and Gabriel had dated each other, possibly copulated together. The thought made Castiel shuffle his feet as he stood in front of the goddess, and she seemed to know what he was thinking about. She smiled, softly, at him, and gestured to Gabriel's body.
"I loved him. Most think me incapable, but I did love him," she said, stepping to Castiel's right.
He turned and the both of them gazed down at the body.
"Nowadays, the humans tied to your beliefs tend to think you more benevolent," he said by means of accepting her words.
She laughed, shaking her head. Castiel failed to see the humor in his statement. Suddenly, her face was solemn, and she knelt to touch the ashen wings. She jerked her fingers away just inches from the burned marks.
"I don't know if he knew that," she said.
"You tried to kill him, when you revealed him to the other gods," Castiel said, suddenly remembering the fuller story that Dean and Sam had fed him.
She stood, waving her hand dismissively. "I knew him of old. I knew that me, sitting on his lap, so openly, wouldn't kill him. He was a trickster, for gods' sakes!"
Castiel inclined his head, acknowledging the truth in that statement. Kali moved to stand beside the living angel once more, her arms crossed low about her torso. Without looking over, she gave a small huff.
"So, what happened to make you human?" she asked.
He wouldn't question how she knew this of him. Instead, he smiled sadly.
"I did the right thing," he said.
"Like Gabriel," she sighed.
"He didn't always do the right thing, you know. I think that it was that factor that attracted me to him in the first place," she said.
Castiel nodded. "Yes. Running from Heaven is typically considered a very bad thing. Granted, it seems to be what I'm doing now."
Kali chuckled a bit at that. Sighing, she said, "So, this right thing that you did… was it trying to stop this oncoming Apocalypse?"
"Yes. I was afraid that I had failed. That my rebellion had been for naught. But I was wrong. Dean made the right choice. It seems… very surprising to me."
"I know that feeling," Kali murmured. "Gabriel sacrificing himself to allow those Winchesters and myself escape… definitely not what I would have ever imagined him doing."
Castiel didn't respond to that. Instead, he continued to stare down at his brother's body, as if contemplating life, the universe, and everything. And for all Kali knew of angels, that just might have been what he was doing. Gabriel certainly had never done that. His thoughts had always more of the here and now type. Castiel, however, seemed what most were taught to believe angels were: kind, good, righteous.
"This Apocalypse has cost the world much. It has cost us much," Kali mused.
"Yes. And it'll cost a lot more before it's done."
"Your powers. Your brother. My fellow gods. The only being I had ever loved. All of it, gone, and it tastes like ash in my mouth. I never thought I would find such death distasteful."
Castiel smiled. It was a morbid joke, what the humans referred to as gallows humor, but he had understood.
"A goddess of death finding it distasteful. This could bode ill for you," he said, a deep, gravelly chuckle escaping.
Kali suddenly thought it very absurd that Castiel could find that funny. That he could find anything funny. He seemed the type that jokes didn't really… penetrate. But, the moment was gone, and suddenly Castiel was all solemn and gloom once more.
"It will cost us a lot more, the end of days. Possibly our lives as well."
Kali nodded. She couldn't argue with truth.
"I would offer my assistance, but I've already faced off with Lucifer. I believe he found me laughable. Not something to boost a woman's confidence, to be sure."
"Your offer is appreciated and understood. But I believe, sadly, that this will come down to the Winchesters and the Winchesters alone."
"The world may very well be doomed after all," she sighed.
Castiel was uncertain if this was sincerity or sarcasm or both. Instead, he shook his head.
"I believe they can do it."
"I think Gabriel believed that too, deep down. After all, he gave his life for those boys."
"But it made him a better man. A better angel," Castiel said.
Kali grinned. "Yes. He was made a better man, angel, and god for it. Hopefully, this sacrifice signals a turn for the better in these end times."
"I believe it does."
The two stood in silence once more. Finally, Castiel put his back to his brother's body, turning to stare at Kali.
"Will you give him a proper burial?" he asked. "I believe the Winchesters may yet need my assistance, grace or no."
Kali nodded. "Yes."
And with that, Castiel left the hall. Sighing, Kali turned and summoned the fire to her arms. She aimed and allowed the flames to crawl over Gabriel's body and consume him.
"May you find peace in the beyond," she whispered.
She stood there until nothing remained but his ashen body and wings. Then, eyes closes, she left, only one more prayer left on her lips. The prayer that Gabriel's loss would do nothing but benefit them all, as it had benefitted him.