It was a lazy day, on the planet below. Every wind was calm, in all the corners of the earth. It was such a rare sight that it was worthy of attention. One wind flowed easily into the next, and there was calm, where there was usually chaos. It was the sort of perfect weather over the entire globe that could easily be seen as 'peace on Earth,' at least from a celestial distance. Many thought that it was hard to not see God's hand at work, on such a rare, beautiful day. Some even voiced this, despite the aching void that haunted many of them, in missing their father.
An angel leaned against an out-facing wall, gazing down into the perfection of the weather, but it wasn't the stillness that had his focus. His folded arms provided a pedestal for his chin to rest, as he watched the humans, and one, in particular. The humans had long been a source of fascination for Castiel. Father's favourite children, they fit so much complication into such a short space of time. So much feeling. It was amazing to him, however strange that seemed to some of his brethren.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked up, giving a brief smile that lasted only as long as his gaze. "Hello, Zachariah."
"Hello, Brother," he answered. He had been watching Castiel for a short while, now. For a long, silent moment, they stood together in silence, Zachariah taking in the clarity of the Earth's unusually perfect weather.
"The whole world is calm. It has to have been over ten thousand years since we've seen a sky like this." It was a strange anomaly, but there was something both serene and majestic about it.
"Ten thousand, three hundred and twenty-four," Castiel answered, and Zachariah felt half of his mouth lift into a smile. 'Leave it to Castiel,' he thought.
"They've changed a lot, in that time, haven't they?" he asked, noticing that Castiel wasn't looking at the sky, but through it. He had to be watching the humans, again. They had changed, of course, but it was less of an observation than it was a catalyst to conversation. He was trying to figure out where the younger angel's head was, and although they didn't speak of it often, Castiel's fascination with the mud monkeys was known among a handful of those in Zachariah's circle. The elder angel didn't loathe them, like a few of his brethren, and he didn't exactly think on them with ambivalence. He knew their purpose, and he recognized that, respected it, even, for what it was. But he didn't favour them in the way that Castiel did. Zachariah believed it to be some child-like innocence. Something that most of the archangels, sullied from battle, had lost, over time.
"Tremendously," Castiel mused in reply, his eyes still set on the creatures below. "But not in any of the ways that matter."
Zachariah's curiosity was nearly piqued enough to ask what Castiel meant, but he decided against it, since he didn't really care all that much about God's precious apes.
"They're beautiful, aren't they?" Castiel asked. Zachariah narrowed his gaze, to see what it was that had his brother's focus. A human by the name of Dean Winchester was wiping a tear from his eye, giving a laugh in relief. A red streak marked the path the tear had taken, but Dean didn't seem to take any notice of this. One arm was wrapped tightly around his brother. His breathing brother. Dean looked as though he wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or scream at the skies, but he settled for what felt, to his brother, like the tightest hug in human history. Sam Winchester, the younger of the brothers, coughed, saying he couldn't breathe. They both sort of laughed, and Dean loosened his grip. A moment later, he shoved him a little, but they both had a look in their eyes that said they'd rather be embracing each other. Another battle won, another hell survived (figuratively), and they survived it, together.
"Yes, he is," Zachariah said astutely, his head between contemplating their purpose, and realizing the implications of that focused gaze. Castiel said nothing. He only almost smiled. It was barely there, and then it was gone. It wasn't an admission, or so Castiel believed, but it wasn't a denial of his fascination.
"We'll speak later. I have other matters to attend to."
Castiel nodded to Zachariah, and after his brother left, he returned his gaze to the Earth, below.
The small collection of faction heads which sought to resolve the apocalypse had gathered together in an unassuming room. Rooms, like many other things in Heaven, were both tangible and illusory. A strangeness that is common place to the angelic, but nearly incomprehensible to the mortal mind. Zachariah had called the meeting together, knowing that they would do whatever they thought it would take to bring their father home. His head was muddled with his conflict, searching for solutions. His concern brewed his gut until it became worry, agitation, and finally, nearly desperation.
"You don't understand!" Zachariah shot into the group that had gathered. They weren't recognizing the severity of the situation, and he had to get through to them. "He feels love for the human. Actual love." The argument that he merely presided over the bloodlines, or 'kings,' as some had said, and that he is drawn to their pain seemed to appease too many, and Zachariah had to make them understand.
"We all feel love," Arariel pointed out defensively, as if his brethren were likened to stone. Zachariah suspected that his interjection had more to do with his own link to the humans than to the supposed attack on the character of the angels. Arariel took pity on some starving fishermen, and helped them catch a decent bounty. Perhaps he thought it would please God. But to this day, people still pray to Arariel to catch bigger fish.
"Not like that, you don't," Zachariah returned. "He loves him purely. Without compulsion, without reason. Without it being, for lack of a better term, hard-wired into his head. He loves like they do, I think." It was his perception of the situation, and he felt certain that it was correct. Zachariah didn't think much of the way that the humans loved, and it was clear in his tone. He found it messy. "You can see it in his eyes. It's dangerous."
"I hardly think love is dangerous," Jegudiel said. "Love is a beautiful thing. It heals. It brings mercy and kindness into being. I mean, loving a human is certainly perverse, but I hardly think it can be called dangerous."
Zachariah wore an expression that said that he didn't have time for Jegudiel's wishy-washy nonsense. He didn't even think that Jegudiel had any place in these meetings. He would rather the other angel keep after the archers, and stay out of actually important things, but he knew they needed Jegudiel with them, and if anyone in their collective was understood the idea of the love, it was him. He decided against telling his fellow angel that he was an idiot, but he couldn't let the discussion stand where it was. He opened his mouth to rebut, but Eremiel interjected.
"Look at the things we have done, in the name of love? Look at what we do to each other!" Eremiel's eyes were lit with the intensity of his concern, and Zachariah couldn't help but to to feel vindicated in his position, now that someone else saw it.
Zachariah picked up from Eremiel's statement, as he could see his brother's words sinking in, for some of them. "We serve, because we love. We serve Our Father, and we serve Heaven's will, because of our love. What do you think would happen, if Castiel ever loved them, or that one human man man as much as he loves Our Father? Or the rest of us?"
Hadraniel had very little affection for the mud monkeys. He only ever helped one, at the behest of God. And while he grew to like the one, somewhat, the rest were still unevolved vermin in his eyes. Some tried, but many didn't even manage that, and watching them squabble their short lives away grew tiresome. He hadn't paid much attention to the lot of them in ages. Not until now, when the prophecy was coming to a head. He stood, which was an impressive sight. He was the tallest of the angels there, by quite a lot. In fact, in all of heaven, he was second only to one other, but Sandalphon, said to be the fraternal twin of Metatron, was not in attendance, in this meeting. He had not been seen in an age, and was not a part of this council. "Do you really think such a thing is possible?" he asked, his voice as impressive as his stature. Even when expressing the most minor of thoughts, he had a deep, resounding, booming sort of voice. "They're unimpressive, at best."
"Not only is it possible, it has happened, in the past. Does no one remember Penenuel? The abomination that came of that? And Penenuel wasn't the only. You know that." Zachariah's eyes were set and serious. "Forget him loving that man as much. What if he comes to love his human more?"
Nearly all of them understood that Dean Winchester was going to die, by the time that Michael was finished with him. Any human would struggle to sustain his presence within them, and even a Winchester wouldn't fair that much better. And they knew that getting the Winchesters to fall in line was going to be difficult, anyway, because Dean was irreverent, and didn't care for the bigger picture. Especially not as much as he, himself, cared for one man. His brother was his whole world, and the ape was likely to fight tooth and nail, to keep Lucifer out of Sam. They had their work cut out for them, for sure. Castiel being in love with the human would only complicate things.
"If Castiel should come to love that human more than he does us, or God, who, then, do you think he will serve?!" he asked pointedly. Zachariah could see the realization breaking over their faces, one by one. He could see them understanding his concerns, and internalizing them. "We cannot use him. We cannot send Castiel."
Remiel, usually the first to give an opinion, finally spoke, at this. "But Joshua said-"
"I don't care what Joshua said!" Zachariah shot, cutting Remiel off mid-sentence. "If God wants to send Castiel, he can tell me, himself!"
This earned a few gasps, and more looks of shock. His irreverence bordered on blasphemy, and he knew it. "I apologize," he decided to add softly, but not because he really meant it. He just wanted to soothe things over. Most everyone got over it rather quickly, because while few would voice it like that, nearly all of them felt that way. They didn't understand why their father wouldn't just talk to them. Why he wouldn't just come back to heaven. They would do anything to see him return, and that was exactly what they were trying to do, then. Stop the fighting, and bring him home, at all costs. An apocalypse was a small price to pay.
"Remiel is right, though," Arariel interjected, and Eremiel nodded in agreement. "If it is God's will that he retrieve Dean, and we do not send him, Father will not forgive us. He won't come home." They all felt the gravity of those words.
"Then, what can we do?" asked Hadraniel, his voice strong even when he tried for humble and small.
Selaphiel stood, making a rather less impressive showing than Hadraniel, but every head turned. Selaphiel spoke so rarely that when he did, it tended to be of great importance. "I know what to do." Even though it was impressive in its own right, his voice was a gentle one. It was oddly soft, but full of purpose. Few would have questioned him, at all, but he explained his idea. When all of them were in agreement, he gave a silent, solemn nod, and he left, to seek Castiel.
The gentle breezes turned agitated. Aggressive. Cold winds crashed against warmer ones, and storms peppered the surface of the orb below. Hail crashed down in pebbles over South Dakota, but Castiel's human was safe and warm, inside. Untroubled by the weather, Dean Winchester stretched out on a sofa that was threadbare in a couple of spots, but somehow still remarkably comfortable. The man wrapped his lips around the mouth of a beer bottle. Castiel wasn't quite certain why, but he found the image of it beautiful. Not quite poetic, but something else. Something stirring, almost. The beer came away, and the man was smiling. Laughing, nearly. He exchanged aggressive, slanderous monikers with his little brother, but neither seemed upset. They wore laughter on their faces, as if they had said something worm and affectionate. The older man, the one who owned the home, shook his head at the pair of them, and muttered something under his breath, but there was still a glimmer of pride and mirth in his otherwise hardened eyes.
Castiel enjoyed watching their interactions. The way that they seemed to be saying one thing and meaning another often puzzled him, but he liked the warm and fuzzy feelings he derived from watching their tender moments. It was one of those things that had always charmed him about humans... he thought... But this human, and his immediate group, they just made him incredibly happy. He would have been content to watch them all evening. To watch night descend over the human, and to see exhaustion carry him off to sleep. The angel often imagined soothing his brow with a gentle touch, although the precise reason why he did so always eluded him.
Castiel?" a voice asked, tearing him from his reverie.
The angel lifted his head from his focus, and faced his elder. "Have we met?" he found himself asking. He wasn't sure if this brother was familiar, but he didn't think of himself as important enough to be known by everyone, or even only everyone in positions of leadership. It was a fair bet that any other archangel would know who he was, by valour and reputation, if not personally, but he didn't think that he merited much consideration from the other classes of angels.
A sadness crossed Selaphiel's face. "No, I suppose we haven't," the angel lied softly. "I am Selaphiel. I have a message for you."
Castiel was about to make with pleasantries, before the announcement of a message. Any good angel knew that it was always 'the mission' first, whatever the mission happened to be. It all served the greater purpose. And it all served God. Castiel believed this, and so he stood at attention, ready to receive word.
"We need to you go to Angelic Intelligence, and speak with Naomi," Selaphiel explained. "She is expecting you." He stood stiff, with all of the authority and importance of a heavenly mission in his stance, and Castiel nodded. As the archangel departed, Selaphiel gazed over the edge of heaven, pretending to be interested in God's favourite children, his heart heavy, as his mind turned over what he had just done to a brother.