"Here's everything I know about war: Somebody wins, somebody loses, and nothing is ever the same again."
Admiral Constanza Stark,
Andromeda | 1x04 D Minus Zero
It ends like this;
Smoke is in the air and fires are burning all around in the deserted buildings. The humans from this city fled long before the war landed here, and cars litter the streets where they were abandoned.
If any of the humans had remained, they would have likely found it ironic that the last showdown had been centered in the town square. Of course, the humans would not have survived long enough to consider anything ironic. The square had at one time been a modest park, with trees and gardens and on one side a small set of swings with cork laid out beneath. Now it’s simply one burnt out rectangular bit of land in the middle of downtown.
Castiel thinks that dying like this, slowly, is different from falling. He doesn’t know which he prefers.
In the middle of the square, there are a handful of corpses laid out; one might even mistake them for citizens who hadn’t made it out alive if it weren’t for the blue-black wings branded around them and the small flickers of ash floating in the air. Four of the angels have swords in their stomachs, dead before the real conflict even began. The fifth is further away, splayed out with another angel’s sword pushed through his sternum. He was the archangel, and the war is over.
“No, Cas. You get your lying ass out of my sight right now, or so help me, I will kill you with your own damn sword.”
Helpless, the angel looks from Bobby to Dean to Sam to Dean again. Sam has pity in his eyes, the lingering I warned you flickering behind the pity. Bobby is pissed.
Dean is furious.
Castiel opens his mouth but shuts it again when the man in front of him grabs him by his jacket and shoves, hard. For all that he can do, he can’t (didn’t want to) see that coming, and he stumbles backwards, hip bumping against one of Bobby’s precariously perched piles of research.
Papers flutter to the ground and Dean glares at him, then grinds out, “Get. Out. Now.”
If he were still human, he thinks he probably would have stayed, reckless and willing to die after all the things he’s done.
He disappears with a flutter of wings and a whoosh of air that upturns the rest of the papers.
Most will agree; Raphael was the expected winner. An archangel of heaven, against a mere foot solider? It was unthinkable that anyone would challenge one of God’s first children.
And yet, the small, single foot solider slammed an angelic blade into the archangel’s heart and didn’t close his eyes when his brother’s Grace flared and died.
Naturally, it’s never that simple. Three weeks later and the boys are as good as dead when a hand clamps down on each arm and suddenly they’re standing in the middle of a cornfield.
When Dean turns around, there’s no one there.
The entire town is decimated by the forces that the two angels commanded in their duel. One, with the powers given to him by his father, the other with power he cheated in and out of existence.
In actuality, the number of souls destroyed in their little showdown is not so small; not a huge portion of the world’s population, but enough to make some angels consider the sacrifice unthinkable.
Next to the dead archangel is one more angel. This one isn’t dead.
Falling was, in essence, coming to terms with himself and all he had lost and was going to lose. It was less physical pain and more the discovery of emotional pain. Of course, once he had fallen there was the pain from injuries, but it was because he was human. This was like leaking power, losing your Grace through a million different holes, a living sieve.
This was the end, and in the end, Castiel felt regret. He allowed himself to feel that regret. He should not have done what he did; Dean was right. Rachel had been right. Atropos had been right.
Grace flickers through the cuts in his (Jimmy’s) skin, blue light dulled by the blood slipping out around it. Dimly he wonders if it should be sizzling like that.
He’d felt like this once, when he’d taken the whole bottle of pills, forgetting he wasn’t an angel anymore. It felt like a disconnection, like whatever held his mind to this body had been severed. He closed his eyes, shutting out the blue sky overhead, too weak to move from the side of his dead brother.
Castiel wondered if they would come. He knew at some point they would track down the source and find the smoldering town, but he didn’t know if they would come because of his call, if Dean would let him die here.
He feels the insistent press of something against the gaping hole in his side. It takes him a moment to realize he can feel it, and then the pain is rushing over him and crashing in a wave that sweeps his feet out from under him and carries his limp body back to sea in the riptide.
A distinctive rumble rolls into town, the only living souls around for miles and miles.
Under the twinkling stars, that last angel opens his eyes.
It starts like this;
Rachel is gone, taking orders to the leaders at the front line, and Castiel is alone with Balthazar in their small hotel room on Earth. Balthazar thinks that Castiel choose it because of the irrational fondness he has for those human boys.
They both know the outcome of the war, though it is not yet finished. Even with the help of the weapons, they know which side they’re on.
Balthazar gazes steadily at the weary angel who still wears a trench coat when he fights in heaven. And he opens his mouth; says “There’s a way,” and the sad-looking angel stares at him with desperation and maybe a little bit of hope and the price to pay isn’t an issue anymore.
They’re going to win.