"They are truly them? The Winchesters?" Inias inquires softly, stepping just an inch or two to one side until his shoulder is resting against Castiel's.
"Yes," Castiel replies with a strangely proud smile. "Not what you were expecting, are they."
"I -- no, not -- not exactly," he admits, head tilting about ten degrees to the right as he studies Dean and Sam who are currently caught up in a tight huddle with the young Asian boy, Kevin Tran. Heaven's new Keeper. "They both seem so much smaller."
"Right?" Cas said, eyes immediately flicking to his face and lighting up as he chuckles. "The gospels always made them sound as though they were the same height. Nobody ever mentioned that one of them was an ent."
Inias's eyes narrow, a confused furrow appearing between his eyebrows and Cas waves him off. "Sorry, it's a -- from the -- yeah, nevermind."
"No disrespect intended, Castiel, but I find it curious that this Dean Winchester is the same Righteous Man we would hear so much about in the barracks. The stories made him sound... larger than the world."
"No, it's true," Cas agrees softly, shaking his head, expression pinched with regret. "His soul is ... not as bright as it once was. I fear I bear far much more responsibility for that than I should."
"His heart is twisted about in his chest, facing away from everyone," he murmurs. "I don't understand. How could this be the same man who saved the world?"
"It is him, Inias," Cas replies. Reaching up, he taps at his temple with the tip of his finger. "I remember that much. And you and I and little Kevin over there are the only ones left alive that know just how much these two men have sacrificed. All for the world. Who will never even know they existed. Promise me you won't forget?"
"You have my word," he whispers, reaching up to give Cas's shoulder a squeeze. "At least let me tell the rest of the garrison that I've seen you. Let them know you're still down here."
"Ahhh, Inias. I wouldn't do that," Castiel sighs.
"No reason to remind them of the brother who flew over the cuckoo's nest," Cas says with a shrug, catching Inias's confused headtilt at the expression but he doesn't remark on it. "They're better off not knowing. Better off not being tempted, like I was. You, too. I see that gleam in your eyes. Don't even think about it."
"We've already lost so many. Too many. You said so yourself. You'll do more good up in Heaven than you'll ever do down here, believe me."
"That's not what you said when you ventured to the Pit with Uriel to rescue Dean Winchester."
"That was... another time. Another me," Cas replies quietly. "You're needed there. This new me? Is not."
"That's not true," Inias whispers even as he's shaking his head.
"How can you look at me that way?" Cas asks, his tone wondering, eyes keen with disbelief. "As though I didn't slaughter scores of our brothers. As though I didn't -- turn my back on everything our Father taught me, taught us. How can you even bear to look at me at all?"
"Because we all thought you dead," Inias says after a few moments of consideration, gazing square and steady into his eyes. "Please pardon me if I can't stop staring. Because my brother, my captain, is alive again... and my heart is glad."
"Inias." Castiel reaches up before he can stop himself, the palm of his hand settling against the side of Inias's face. The pale lids of Inais's eyes flutter and slide closed, shuttering away the pale blue there as he leans into the touch. Leaning in, Castiel lightly rests his forehead against Inais's, feeling nothing the way he knows he will. No warmth to speak of, just ... there-ness. Presence. "Did you know that the average domesticated honeybee worker creates just one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime?"
Inias breaks contact, lifting his head and pulling back an inch or two - just enough so he can look at Castiel's face. Another moment and Castiel's dark blue eyes are meeting his own, squinting just a fraction. Reaching up, Inias rests his hand on Castiel's where it still lays against his cheek. "I did not know that," he says carefully.
"Fascinating, isn't it? How so much work can wind up meaning so little in the big scheme of things?" Castiel murmurs, drawing the softness of his hand away, tucking both of his hands into the pockets of his trenchcoat.
Then the boy is ready to leave with Tariel and Irel and, regrettably, there is no more time left for talking. Though Inias is already quietly resolved to come back to check in on his brother again, whether Castiel thinks he's worth the risk or not.