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[personal profile] dauntperplexity
One moment of weakness does not define one’s character.
-Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard; NCIS (8x9 – Enemies Domestic)


He had been in the darkness for too long. Wherever he was now, the light was so bright that even though his eyes were closed, they hurt. Something was not right. He squinted his eyes shut, letting them adjust to the light through the lids. He resisted the urge to open them when he heard the sound of water near him.

Finally, after who knows how long, he opened his eyes. He saw the Sun shining through the coconut trees that surrounded him. He sat up, and found himself on a beach. He made his way to his feet and brushed the nature off of his body. “What is going on?” he mumbled to himself.

He reached out, wondering if whatever was in front of him was an illusion. When the scene didn’t fall back, or a hole wasn’t punched through it, he stepped forward. He kept moving forward until he could bury his toes in the sand. He felt the water roll in up to his knees.

He looked down into the water and saw his reflection. He was in the same visage that he died in. “I’m alive?” Gabriel asked. He looked up, feeling the warmth of the sun on his face. “How?”

“I was wondering the same thing about myself.”

Gabriel looked over his shoulder for the source of the voice. He saw his brother standing behind him. “Balthazar?”

“I haven’t seen your smug face in awhile,” Balthazar said. He walked forward to stand next to his brother. He was also in the vessel that he died in. “How have you been?”

“I was dead.”

Balthazar shrugged. “So was I.” He looked around and saw nothing but shoreline stretched out on either side of him. “Are we still dead?” he asked. He didn’t know if this was where angels went when they died.

“I don’t know.” Gabriel tried to think of another place to fly to. He stayed put. “I don’t think so,” he replied.

“So what happened?”

“Trying to figure it out,” Gabriel replied.

Balthazar sighed as he waited for Gabriel to think of the reasons why they were brought back from the dead. And more importantly, who brought them back. He looked out into the ocean. “This is nice,” he said. He walked further into the water. He couldn’t remember ever feeling that much at peace.

“It better be,” said a voice behind them. “I created it.”

The two angels turned around at the same time. They saw who the owner of the voice was and immediately dropped their gazes and fell down to their knees. “Father,” they whispered.

“Get up. You’re getting your clothes wet,” their Father replied.

The two of them stood up, their bottom halves drenched with seawater. They kept their eyes to the sand. “Father, where have you been?” Gabriel asked.

“Keeping your eyes downcast is hurting my feelings.”

The two angels looked up. Balthazar gasped. It was his first time ever seeing their Father’s face. He wanted to lower his gaze again. He didn’t feel like he was worthy of looking upon his Father’s face considering his last acts while he was alive. But he stopped himself from breaking eye contact. He didn’t want to upset Him. “Why now?” he asked. He wanted to know how bad everything was that he and Gabriel were brought back to life and their Father actually revealed Himself.

“I’ll explain everything soon.” He was waiting for something.

He looked out into the ocean. The angels did the same thing, wondering if they were supposed to be searching for something. Then after some time, something broke out of the water. Their Father snapped his fingers and the source of the splash appeared in front of them.

“Michael?” Gabriel and Balthazar said.

Michael looked at his brothers and instantly recognized their graces. “Gabriel? Balthazar?” he whispered, incredulous. He looked down at his body and saw that he was wearing the youngest Winchester brothers’ body. “Why am I not in Lucifer’s cage?”

“Michael.”

Michael dropped down to one knee without turning to see the owner of the voice. He already knew. “Father.”

Gabriel and Balthazar each grabbed an arm and hauled him up. “We already did that,” Gabriel said. He spun his older brother around to face their Father. “Okay, unless we’re waiting for some other angel to spring out of the ocean, why are we here?”

“Your brother needs your help.”

“Which one?” Gabriel asked, but something in him already knew the answer. It had to be their same brother who had been getting into the most trouble these last few years.

“Castiel.”

All of the angels tensed, but for different reasons. “Cassy?” Balthazar asked, shaking out of his shock before his archangel brothers. “What happened?”

“He’s being held captive.”

Balthazar frowned. “If Castiel has been held captive all this time, who has been in charge of Heaven?” He knew how easily the other angels would fall to pieces without someone to guide them in the right directions.

“Joshua.”

“Joshua?” Michael asked. “He’s in charge of the angels?” Michael could not believe the keeper of the garden was in charge of Heaven. Joshua was more of a babysitter than a leader. He wasn’t even an archangel.

“It makes sense,” Gabriel replied after giving it some thought. Joshua knew enough about all of the angels. And if their Father put him in charge, it meant that it was a good choice.

Now that the question was answered, Michael thought about what their Father had said about their brother. He was the reason why they were gathered on the beach. “For how long?” he asked, bringing the conversation back to Castiel. He was concerned.

“Does it matter?” Time meant nothing to Him.

“Do you know what’s being done to him?” Balthazar asked. If they were on a rescue mission, he wanted to know the state their brother was going to be in once they found him. He had to prepare himself for the worst.

“I can’t tell.”

The brothers weren’t sure if their Father meant He wasn’t able to see what was happening to Castiel or He didn’t want to tell them. Either way, the answer wasn’t what they wanted to hear. “Why does Castiel need our help?” Michael asked. The last he knew of his brother was he was with the Winchester. He was working to stop the Apocalypse and save the Earth. They had to have succeeded if Michael was in the cage with Lucifer after all this time. He wanted to know what he had done to need their Father’s intervention.

“The Leviathans are running loose on Earth.”

“The Leviathans?” the oldest archangel asked. “I thought they were locked away in Purgatory. You locked them away.”

Balthazar put everything together. “Cassy let them out,” he said before their Father could answer.

“Why would he do something so stupid?” Michael was angry and disappointed. He thought he had taught his brother better than that.

“He had his reasons.”

“Like what? What reason could he possibly have for unleashing beasts that You locked away?” He didn’t want to sound like he was challenging his Father, but he was frustrated with Castiel. Every angel knew the story of the Leviathans and every angel knew better than to let them out of Purgatory.

“Michael,” Gabriel scolded.

“He was trying to save the Earth while Raphael was trying to destroy it.”

“But at what cost?”

“You’ll find out when you help him.”

“And why should I help him?” Balthazar scoffed. “He killed me.” His hand went to where the angel sword had pierced him through his chest.

“Can you blame him?” their Father asked. “After everything that happened to him?”

“What happened?” Gabriel asked. It had to be something devastating for Castiel to even contemplate letting Leviathan on the Earth to destroy it.

“He lost Dean,” Balthazar answered, sad. As much as he hated Dean, he knew what the human meant to his brother. He knew that Castiel would fall apart without Dean to keep him rational.

“Will you help him?”

Balthazar sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. “What are the consequences if we don’t?”

“Are you actually contemplating it?” Gabriel asked.

“No,” Balthazar said with a groan. “Of course not.” He could not turn his back on his brother again. Especially knowing that the one time he did, all of this happened. He couldn’t help but feel guilty.

“So, we save him from the Leviathans, and that’s it?” Gabriel asked. He knew the mission couldn’t be that easy. Their Father didn’t need all three of them for that. Michael would have been enough.

“You help him.”

“How?”

“Whatever decisions he makes, you follow them.”

“Father,” Michael said, stepping forward causing the water to splash around him. He could not contemplate taking orders from a younger angel. “You can’t expect—”

“I do.”

The angels had nothing more to say. This was the first order they’d have to take from their Father in many millennia. “Where is he?” Gabriel sighed, knowing that they were all agreeing to help save their brother.

“They are keeping him somewhere. I will send you all there when we’re through speaking.” He raised His hand, preparing to snap.

“Father, wait,” Michael said. “Is… how bad is he?” He knew how dangerous the Leviathan was. He heard the stories of their destruction and terror. He was probably strong enough to take them on, but he was an Archangel. Castiel was not.

Their Father sighed. “He needs his brothers.”

Michael could tell that their Father was keeping the worst from them. He did not want to imagine what horrors his brother was going through. “Well, we’re here,” he replied. He looked down into the water and saw the face of Adam Milligan staring back at him. “But Father, this vessel. I think that Adam deserves to go to Heaven and be with his mother.”

“I agree. You will find a vessel waiting for you when you get to Earth.”

“Thank you,” Michael replied with a bow. He looked to Balthazar and Gabriel. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yup,” Gabriel answered.

“Let’s see the trouble that Cassy got himself in now,” Balthazar added. He let out his wings and his brothers did the same.

Their Father raised His hand again, then snapped. His sons disappeared from the beach. He sighed as He looked down the shoreline. He let out a short laugh at the sight of someone approaching. “You’ve made it.”

“Father.”

“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” He replied.

“I wish could tell you how long, but I stopped counting either around the time of the dinosaurs, or the Exodus.”

His Father shrugged. “Understandable.”

“So, why did you bring me here?”

“You are needed.”

He looked over and saw his Father staring at the sky. “So why didn’t you let me go with them?” he asked knowing what his mission would entail.

“Because you aren’t needed now. You’ll know when you are.”

“So, I’m supposed to wait.”

“Yes,” his Father said, simply. “Enjoy the weather.”

He watched as his Father walked back onto the shore. He continued walking, disappearing past the tree line. He sighed and sat in the sand. He brought his knees up to his chest and watched the Sun he knew wouldn’t ever set.

--------------

Their Father gave them no warning for what they found in the basement of the abandoned hotel. But then again, nothing He could have said to them would have prepared them for the state they found Castiel in.

The moment they found him, they could taste the copper in the air. The air that their vessels had to breathe tasted stale and recycled. They felt dirty down to their grace. But all of that was ignored when they felt how distressed their brother’s grace was.

They found him in the darkest corner of the last room they searched. He was pushed back, as far and deep into the corner as he could go, with his knees brought up and tucked to his chest. Castiel shook where he sat. Michael didn’t know if it was because he was scared or because he was cold since he wasn’t wearing any clothes.

Michael dropped the weapons coated in demon blood that he held. He cringed when the clang of the metal caused the man in the corner to flinch. “Castiel?” he whispered.

After the failed Apocalypse, looking at Castiel, all he could see was the angel he raised. His grace ached and he found himself frozen in his spot.

“Go to him, Michael,” Balthazar said. He could sense the guilt his brother felt.

Michael took a step forward, looking around the room for any traps. When he saw none, he rushed forward to his brother’s side. “Castiel?” he whispered, reaching out, but not touching the frightened angel when he received no reaction. He waited for a moment, wanting to give Castiel some time to process that he was being rescued. “Castiel,” he repeated.

“No,” he whispered. He shook his head. “Not again, please. I… I can’t.”

“Look at me, brother,” he said in a soothing tone. It was the same tone he used to help Castiel rest and calm as a fledgling. The response he received was Castiel tucking his face into the crook of his elbow. “Youngest, it’s me, Michael.”

“You’ve already tried this, Nybbas,” Castiel replied. He kept his face hidden.

Michael sighed. He knew what he would have to do to shake Castiel out of his stupor, but he didn’t want to scare him. “Youngest, look at me!” he yelled, his voice shaking the building.

Castiel’s shoulders tensed, but as if on an impulse, he looked up; the obedient soldier still in him. His eyes widened as much as they could through the swelling and bleeding on his face. “Michael?” he whispered, his voice reaching out because he physically could not. “Are you real?”

“Yes.”

“You said that last time. You were lying. I can’t believe anything anymore,” he said with a whimper.

“Castiel, we killed Abbadon. And Nybbas. And Jezebeth.” The three demons stood outside the door of the room when they landed. The angels listened to what they were going to do to Castiel without supervision. It didn’t take long for the three angels to dispose of them.

“Liar,” Castiel whimpered.

Michael wanted to put a hand on his Castiel’s shoulder to prove to him that he was real. He knew that if he could touch Castiel, then he would know, but he knew that he couldn’t. Not yet. His brother was still too scared and untrusting. “You’re safe now.”

“I don’t feel safe.”

“Let us take you from this place, youngest.” Michael stepped forward, toward his brother, but Castiel tried to sink deeper into the corner of the room with every inch he moved closer. When he saw his brother’s reaction, he stopped moving. “Castiel.”

His entire body trembled with fear of being hurt. “Don’t. Please.” He didn’t want anyone touching him because every time someone did, it was always followed by pain. He could barely stand for someone else to be in the same room as him.

Michael surged forward, unwilling to let Castiel back further away from him. He grabbed his youngest brother’s wrists and shook him once. “Youngest, listen to me. No one can hurt you anymore. I promise.”

Castiel let out a shaky breath. Once contact was made, he knew that it wasn’t another one of Nybbas’s visions. “Michael,” he said with a sigh. He took a moment to just stare at the archangel.

“Yes,” he replied. The Archangel was torn between letting go of Castiel’s wrists and squeezing them tighter. “Look at me, youngest. I know you recognize my grace.”

Castiel nodded. Tears sat on the brim of his eyes and threatened to fall with a blink, but Castiel continued to stare. “Don’t let them hurt me,” he whispered. His legs unfolded and straightened.

He let go of Castiel’s wrists and brushed his sweat-drenched hair out of his face. “Never again, youngest.” He had to bite his lip to keep him from saying anything about the injuries that covered Castiel’s body. He was covered with cuts, burns, stab wounds, and bruises. There were so many that he kept his eyes locked on Castiel’s and nowhere else.

Castiel let out a deep sigh and fell forward onto the archangel’s chest. He grabbed onto the shirt Michael’s vessel was wearing and cried into it. “I’m so tired, Michael.” If this was real, and he was convincing himself that it was, then he had no more strength to keep up his defenses.

Michael wrapped his arms around his brother’s shivering body and held him close. He ran his hands up and down his brother’s back. “Then rest, Castiel. Let me take you back to Heaven.” Michael was relieved. They had accomplished what their Father wanted them to do. They saved Castiel.

Castiel lifted his head off of his brother’s chest. “No,” he said quickly. “I can’t.”

“Castiel,” Michael sighed. He wanted to help his brother, but he didn’t know how he was going to do that with all of the anxiety that Castiel carried. “Where do you feel safe?”

“Dean,” he whispered. His body shook harder. “Needs me. He’s been calling for me.”

Michael let go of his brother and pushed him away gently. “You are in no condition to help him.”

Castiel looked up, his eyes hesitantly meeting his eldest brother’s. “Michael, I have to go to him,” he pleaded.

“Youngest.” He felt that Castiel being near the human would more likely do harm than good.

“Please,” Castiel whispered.

Michael shook his head and sighed. “Okay,” he conceded. He never could deny Castiel. Especially now since their Father said to do everything their youngest had said. “Now rest.” Before Castiel could protest, Michael put two fingers to Castiel’s forehead and put him into a deep sleep. He held onto Castiel as he slumped against his chest.

“Was that really necessary?” Balthazar asked. He and Gabriel finally moved to Michael and Castiel’s sides.

“At least he’s not in pain anymore.”

“Are you really taking him to those boneheads?” Gabriel asked. He didn’t like the idea of Castiel being near the Winchesters as weak as he was. The three of them could do a better job taking care of their brother than Dean and Sam ever could.

“I don’t want to.”

“But…”

“But it doesn’t matter what I want, right now. You remember Father’s orders. He said we’re supposed to help him.”

“Taking him to Heaven would be helping him,” Balthazar countered.

“And what happens when he wakes up? He’ll want to go straight to Dean. He’ll fly down here before he’s strong enough.” It would be worse in the long run.

“You’re strong enough to dim his powers. You can even start the healing process right now.”

“Raphael was the healer,” Michael replied. All angels knew how to heal, but Raphael was the archangel known for the ability.

“Yeah, well, Raphael did more damage than healing to Cassy,” Balthazar spat. He wasn’t going to hide how much he disliked the other Archangel.

“Well, then deserved what he got,” Gabriel asked. “I hope it made him feel good to go after him.”

“The power tends to go to your head when you’re the strongest angel in Heaven.”

“But Castiel? He isn’t even a threat to us.”

“Apparently, the little angel who could, did,” Gabriel said. He looked down at Michael who cradled Castiel to his chest. It was hard for him to not remember the tiny ball of grace that Michael took care of before he left Heaven. “So, are you going to heal him?”

“Yes. I can heal him,” Michael said. He moved Castiel around to lay him flat on the dirty, cold floor.

Michael put a hand on Castiel’s chest and forehead. He closed his eyes and concentrated on healing all of the injuries that littered his brother’s body. He focused on the larger injuries first: the large, deep cut down the middle of his body that ran from Castiel’s collar bones to his belly button.

He pushed his grace into Castiel to heal him. He began working to knit the wounded flesh back together. Something felt wrong.

“Michael, stop,” Balthazar said.

Michael opened his eyes and saw Castiel’s eyes and mouth opened, with his grace leaking out of him. The archangel retracted his hands and stood up.

“What did you do?” Gabriel asked, his eyes wide, shocked. He didn’t know if he should move to try and stop it, but he didn’t know what he could do. He grabbed onto his older brother’s shirt and shook him once. “Michael, what did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.”

Castiel arched his back and let out a scream that cracked every wall in the room, if not the building. His body collapsed back onto the ground and convulsed.

Balthazar stepped forward, wanting to keep him from doing more damage to his body, but Michael grabbed him to stop him. “No, Balthazar,” he said. “You can’t touch him.”

“But he’s in pain,” Balthazar said, but he knew he couldn’t do anything. He sighed, resigned. He pulled his arm out of Michael’s grasp.

All the three of them could do was wait until Castiel stopped convulsing. After what felt like hours, he stopped. Castiel turned on his side and curled in on himself, whimpering. He coughed, dry heaving and gasping, before his body collapsed.

“What just happened?” Gabriel asked.

“I tried to heal him. That’s it.”

“So, we can’t heal him,” Gabriel said. He had never seen another angel react that way to being healed. That threw a wrench in their plans. “Now what?”

Michael sighed, dejected. “We take him to Dean.”

“Was afraid you’d say that.”

Balthazar ignored his brothers and knelt down next to Castiel. He slid his hands under Castiel’s back and knees and cradled him to his chest. “Let’s go,” he said.

Michael stepped toward them and put two fingers to Castiel’s forehead to send him into a deeper unconsciousness. He didn’t want him to wake up until he was healed. “I will talk to them first. Listen for me,” he said, then disappeared from the room.

[Masterpost] [Chapter 1]

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August 2012

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