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Family Matters

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To: Import contacts list=“Miltons”
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: Family matters

Dad hasn’t called in eight days. He’s missing. Rectify this matter immediately, please. I’d advise you both to be discreet: do not contact the police; all private investigators should have their backgrounds scrutinised; keep this within the nuclear family only – Dad has always expressly forbidden contact with the cousins in these situations.

I have (rather understandably, I feel) neglected to inform Luce. The first person to do so will find themselves in an uncomfortable position. Between a rock and a hard place, so to speak.

Your loving brother,

Mike

P.S. The rock is a lawsuit. The hard place is literal.

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: R.Milton@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: Re: Family matters

You have reached the office of Senator Milton. Please, do not be hesitant to air your views in a sensible and constructive manner over the phone: call 929 1024 333 to speak with Senator Milton’s personal secretary. Should you wish to speak to the Senator in person, he would be happy to arrange a meeting with you – please phone his secretary between the hours of 12:00 and 14:00 (Sundays excluded) to be provided with an extensive list of available time slots within the next sixteen to thirty two months.

Thank you for contacting us. We are always interested in ordinary matters for ordinary people. Remember, Raph Milton works for you.

---

To: Import contacts list=”Entitled Asspollocks”
CC: “Asspollock Garrison”; “Virgil”
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Sup, bro?

Mikey,

Don’t Shoot’s going fine – thanks for asking. Tickets are sold out at venues across the nation; prices on Ebay are skyrocketing. Last I heard, someone was offering their grandmother’s antique whale thighbone in exchange for a spot in the gardens next to a theatre in Vancouver. They won’t get anywhere near a window (a surprisingly charming, regrettably unresponsive Canadian security guard assured me of that), but they’re going to hold a wine glass to the lawn rim-down and see if they can pick up a few oneliners solely through the vibrations.

I love my fan sites.

That aside, your reservations about Luce are egotism and snobbery at their finest. I’m ashamed, Mikey, truly ashamed. Surely, a ‘loving’ brother such as yourself would be aware of the honesty, trust, unconditional devotion bordering on incestuous fixation, etc., that dear old Lucifer reserves solely for you. So, I took the liberty of forwarding this message to him - and, by extension every Milton I'm aware of with half a brain and internet access. And Virgil.

BTW, are you sure Daddy didn’t just stop off at Mistress Magda’s for the night? He’s a big boy, now. Don’t wait up. No need to go around assuming he got lost, or something.

Yours with an idiosyncratic, flail-inducing, sexual-orientation-befuddling half-grin*,

Gabe

P.S. Raph’s secretary is one smoking redhead (you can always tell; it’s the way she rolls those ‘r’s) but ultimately kinda unhelpful in terms of getting ahold of the bastard. I’m planning on calling him up live, and it’s going to be something of a flop if he doesn’t turn on his freaking cell.

P.P.S. I know that I’m gonna have to say this in advance, the matter being the prime specimen on our growing list of elephantine subjects in the metaphorical family sitting room – I don’t want to hear about your jobs. Or your children. Or your picket fences. Go find Daddy, kids. Then feign ignorance at any mention of this email address’ existence.

*I quote iwantgabeshorn42 of the official Don’t Shoot forums. Let me assure anyone whose orientation I have befuddled – it’s entirely unintentional.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: I cannot believe you

Hello Gabriel. This is Castiel. As you might have guessed.

I’m not going to ask which star-struck intern you shanghaied into tracking down my new, private email address. I won’t bring up our previous estrangement, or take the time to wonder why you chose to break it. I’ll curb my incredulity. I’m just going to sit here, accept that bad things do happen, and perhaps even neglect to press charges. We’ll cut straight to the chase.

You cannot do this. I hate you so very much right now.

So apparently, being heavily, obnoxiously famous is synonymous with being unable to find your way around the ‘bcc’ option. Thank you for alerting the entire extended family to my current whereabouts, Gabriel. I appreciate the forethought. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go relocate to Antarctica. Admittedly, my first choice was Andorra, but considering that any connection to Raphael is enough to get me deported from anywhere with a human population, icy wilderness is my best and only option.

My best and only option besides collective lobotomisation, I suppose. Which, regrettably, isn’t remotely cost-effective. Don’t think I haven’t given it serious thought regardless.

I’ll ask once, nicely. Please don’t drag me back into this mire. Not for something so trivial as an impromptu holiday on your Dad’s part. You of all people should respect my right to barricade all doors against the coming hordes of family obtrusion. I can ask nastily too, if that makes any difference. I can even plead.

I hope you’re joking about this. You sound like you’re joking. But then, you always sound like you’re joking. Please be joking regardless.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: !!!

Castiel is staying at a place called Winchesters Diner??

Just did a quick spot of google-fu on the address. Turns out it’s some kind of weird establishment a couple of states away; family business sort of deal? Oh my freakin’ god. Gabe. Why was I unaware of this. Moreover, since when did you get the privilege of being aware of this? We’ve had nothing but a vast dollop of radio silence these past few weeks. I blame the old man. Kid grew up neurotic. But that doesn’t explain the unprecedented mountain of trust he’s done gone dropped on you.

Speaking of the ol’ paterfamilias, specifically his absence – what’s with Mikey? Guy sounded genuinely freaked. Tell me it’s just a drill. I don’t think I can take much more drama. Particularly after Cas’ big, dramatic exit stage nowhere. Do you know, I tried to call him at work, and got told he left in a blaze of self-righteousness, after spray-painting ‘YOU CAN’T FIRE ME, I QUIT’ all over the boss’ office windows? For real. In bright, indelible red. I’ll give him points for guts, if not originality. Secretary seemed to find it hilarious, at any rate – and, to be honest, I’m with her. You realise this confirms what we suspected all along: little bro might actually possess a sense of humour.

… Gabe. You don’t think Mike’s stressing for a reason, do you? Yeah, I know, ridiculous question. Still. I can’t believe he was going to try and keep all this quiet from the rest of us. Dick.

Am on the edge of my seat here. Nails bitten to the quick. Keep me posted.

Anna

P.S. Anyone heard from Luce recently?

Chapter Text

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: our family

Castiel,

I trust that you understand your duty. I had hoped that it wouldn’t come to this, but then, since when have the Fates not conspired against us? You see, Dad loves you like he never loved Raphael, and, as I’m flying out to a developing micronation in South-east Asia in approximately fifty two minutes, I’m afraid that you are now the Milton in charge of finding our father. During the interminable analyses of deep sea geological cores and the tedious meetings with the locals regarding their petty concerns about drilling techniques’ effects on the flowers (or somesuch; I rarely listen), it’s you that I’ll be thinking of, impossible as it may be for me to offer direct aid.

Godspeed, cousin.

Yours,

Mike

P.S. Do not forward this email to Raphael.

P.P.S. As I’ve always regarded you as a third brother (Luce barely qualifies as such), I have avoided mentioning your current plight in the main body of this email. However, as you always were a talented child, and I hate seeing talent go to waste, I have sent a “team” of “specialists” to stage a rescue from the Winchesters diner. Google proved highly informative as to its general location, and continual and rigorous surveillance of the building has led us all to conclude that your immediate retrieval is the most sensible option, under the circumstances. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

---
To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: Z-Milton195@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: long time no see

Hey, Cas. It seems that we now know where you live. Not that most of us can remember your birthday anyway, so don’t expect anything to come of it.

Raphael gave me his phone number, by the way. I’ve attached it in a text document – in pig latin, just to be safe. He didn’t want to email you himself in case the press hacked his account, or his secretary glanced over his shoulder and recognised the name of the mudhut where you’re working (I Google Image’d it: very quaint, probably needs paint job – otherwise, I’m impressed; I had always assumed you were going the ol’cardboard box route).

Don’t be a stranger!

Your favourite uncle,

Zachariah

---

To: import contacts list=“Scoobies” [Cas@winchestersdiner.net; borntorun@roadside.org]
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Re: blah freaking blah blah blah

Attached: “Read my lips.gif”

Sorry, I couldn’t hear any of you over the sound of the rabid crowds of admirers all screaming for my love. Did you know that yesterday, a Don’t Shoot fan was hospitalised? He threw himself over a safety rail two floors up in an attempt to land in a mangled heap at my feet, but missed me by a couple yards and instead ended up skewering himself on my humorously-shaped model of the Tower of Babel. It made the six o’clock news, fuelling yet another discussion about the potential dangers of irreverent Biblical comedy. I think I’m going to be banned in at least three more countries, and it’s still a good six months till Christmas. Can you say ‘PUB-LI-CIT-Y’?

Oh, wait, you were typing words about your lives again, weren’t you.

Read my lips, chuckleheads. I even attached a gif for you.

I

Don’t

Care.

This family’s too small for the eleventy billion of us. Which is why we’re not in contact anymore! And, baffling as you may find this revelation, I don’t actually care about the pedicure you like totally had done last night, or the cute guy you – omigod – hit it off with whilst discussing your cousin’s incredible fame, or the misdemeanours you’ve been committing in the name of free will and whale-saving. If I were any less interested, I would get a PA to be uninterested for me.

Now, go bother Mikey. I’m sure he’s just waiting for the opportunity to wax sanctimonious about career paths, and, the two of you? Everything he’s never dreamed of.

I’m just here to keep all of you in touch. Like I did for Cas. That’s charity, right there.

Bear in mind that, should Dad actually be lost, and actually in need of finding, and actually allow himself to be found (each of these occurrences is more phenomenally unlikely than the next, but I’m not taking any chances – the guy’s getting older), it sure as hell ain’t gonna be me that he’ll come running home to. For one thing, we despise each other. Whereas, the two of you and him are like three sickeningly adorable peas in a pod.

I gave you the heads up. Now, go save our lovingly oppressive patriarch.

Gabe

P.S. Last year, Luce called me five days after my birthday in order to wish me a happy Easter and play me a demo of his new song. He described it as a mixture of indie pop and death metal using only two chords, with influence from Larson. I started recording about halfway through, and uploaded it to Youtube under the pretence of genuinely having tried to put a cat, a can of coke and a packet of Mentos in a blender. My intern informs me that it currently has five hundred and seventy seven likes, and it’s not even on my official account.

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Hi!

Cas, how could you? I was sure that you were dead, or unemployed, or something. You haven’t updated your Facebook status in six weeks, and in all that time you haven’t called me once – a cardinal sin!

I never thought I’d be thanking Gabriel for anything, but I wouldn’t have found you without him. Google informs me that you’re living in a small town a few hours down the interstate. Population just over nine hundred, apparently. The place looks nice. Sort of, quaint, I suppose? But, you’ll be leaving there soon, I gather (Michael phoned), so that’s fine.

With Michael’s advice, I took the liberty of booking you a plane ticket to Chicago airport; reaching Raphael from there should be easy. Just enter the usual details on Easyjet to download it.

See you next week!

Rachel

P.S. Why is everyone so worried about our uncle? He’s probably out playing skee ball – he’s not so old that he’s completely dependent upon us.

--

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: Castiel, etc.

Gabriel! Many thanks for making dear Cassy’s contact details available to all and sundry; never would have caught up with him otherwise. After messaging him at length, I received a rather tetchy, two-line response that seemed to imply he had joined some kind of monkish retreat. It was that or a sanatorium, from the way he phrased it. Always was devout, I suppose, but if any light of a secular variety could be shed on the matter, I’d appreciate it.

Love to stay and chat, but you see there’s this minor problem of my always having disliked you. So I’ll be signing off now.

Balthazar

---

To: [import contacts list = “Ignore”] M.Milton@chonaeoil.org, Z-Milton195@americanstorageandrental.net, RMilton@onestep.gov
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: No Subject

This has to stop.

I know that all of you, bar Uncle Zachariah, mean relatively well, but nothing you say will affect my decision.

Michael, I forwarded Raphael your email. I expect he’ll be marginally livid by now.

Zachariah, I sent that text document (decoded) to the editing offices of five separate far-left periodicals. It would have been more, but revolutionists in Kansas are few and far between. Still, I trust it will be adequate to prove a point.

Rachel: I gave the ticket details to Mr. Delaney next door. He says he has always wanted to visit Chicago. If it’s any consolation, I know he’ll enjoy the trip. I’m sorry for not contacting you sooner. I sent you a message on Twitter just now.

If any ‘specialists’ arrive at my door, I will not attempt to resist. However, allow me to inform you that Dean owns a shotgun. Several shotguns, actually. A rather worrying amount of shotguns, all toll.

Don’t let this dissuade you from visiting.

- from Castiel

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: oh you are not escaping that easily

Gabriel, neither Cas nor I are exactly in a position to ‘hit it off’ with any ‘cute guy’ anywhere. I’m married, remember? To a girl. I appreciate that you can scarcely remember Jo’s name on a good day, much less your own cousin’s marital status, but you could at least try to hit a little closer to home with the off-colour humour. It is supposed to be your ‘job’, after all.

(I just put ‘job’ in inverted commas, and felt an immense surge of vindictive satisfaction.)

I tried to be reasonable, dearest cousin o’ mine. Tried to be responsible and mature and all those other things people outside my immediate social circle assure me are conducive to fruitful, adult discussion. I probably should have known better. Fuck’s sake, I have a lipring and like twelve tattoos, only six and a half of which are in places I can actually mention; this was never going to end in productive debate. Still, remember when we used to actually talk? Like, civilly? About topics other than your irritating and inexplicable ascent up the perilous acclivity of godawful showbiz?

No, really, that happened once.

Look, the old man and I haven’t spoken in years – you can forgive me for being concerned. Gabe, you’re my barometer for panic here. If you think Uncle’s bunked off for a long weekend at Mistress M’s, I believe you. But if you think something’s legitimately wrong… I need you to tell me. Same with Luce. If you reckon he’s still screwing his way round half the city being his old, lightly intoxicated, batshit bonkers self, I’ll stop worrying. Alternatively, if he’s lying in some backstreet alley, throat slit, steadily decomposing…

… God, our family sucks.

Anytime you feel the urge to be helpful, feel free to shoot something brutal and condescending my way. Over my perfectly proportioned dead body am I sending so much as a sentence to Mike. Cast your mind back to the dark, murky days of your public anonymity, and you might recall a certain protest incident making that course of action supremely unviable. (For the record, I swear the paint bucket was supposed to hit the CEO. But we’re talking about a guy who thinks sustainable development is a kind of fabric cleaner.) As for Cas... I’m ambivalent about contacting him. I know this phase, Gabe. The ditch-everything-and-work-on-minimum-wage-in-glorious-FREEDOM phase. In fact, I suspect he copied me. Which is why I know he’ll never forgive me if I ruin it for him. You are the only person I can talk to right now, and what’s more, you know it.

Anna

PS Wait, Luce is gunning for Larson now? Huh. Seven months ago, it was Maya Angelou meets Sting. Guess art is a thing of development.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re:Re: blah freaking blah blah blah

To say I don’t understand you would be understatement. You ruin my life with a flick of the wrist, and then you tell me you’re bored. What made you think that it would ever be entertaining? You know, Gabriel, one of my earliest memories is of a pet goldfish I once owned. I fed and raised it all myself. When you came to visit, you told me that I ought to put soap flakes in the tank in the interests of ‘aquatic hygiene’. I refused. You grabbed the fish out of the water and trod on it.

I suspect there was a moral to be found in that story. But then, I think the only thing I ever learned from you was how to have better reflexes. That, and to stick to earthworms as pets.

Regardless, I’m not moving. You realise I’m happy here? The world could crash and burn tomorrow for all I care; I’d still be able to say: at least I’m not a tax accountant anymore. Freedom isn’t abstract, Gabe. It’s there every time I lean against the tabletop and open up a can of beer, or help Dean wash the car each week, or stay behind with Sam to watch the game. I don’t even know the rules of baseball. I’m not too sure it’s baseball that he watches, that’s how little I know the rules. The point is, this is mine, not yours to crush.

I will not bother Michael. I would, however, appreciate it if he would stop bothering me. He doesn’t seem capable of processing this fact independently. I don’t suppose you could pass on the message? Seeing as you’re so good at that.

As for your Dad, he stopped caring years ago - about us or, really, anything. Clearly this current situation is the logical extension of said apathy. I’m sure you know this just as well as I do.

- from Castiel

Chapter Text

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: Re: No Subject

So, you don’t want to return from your self-imposed exile. I understand that. I’d call you the Milton family problem child, but the position’s already taken, and Gabriel doesn’t show any signs of wanting to give it up. Would you believe that he phoned me last night? He was exceedingly drunk, and proceeded to prattle on about the potential of a TV adaptation of Don’t Shoot, whilst attempting to subtly drop hints about a trio of spare tickets to the picket of his appearance in Dallas. The main performance being sold out, I suppose.

I swear, he genuinely thought that I would take pity, rally our brothers and make a beeline for Texas. It’s all these emails. They must be making him nostalgic.

The thing is, Castiel, Gabriel isn’t the happy type of nostalgic, and he certainly isn’t the happy type of drunk. He’s dull. Increasingly, perpetually, intolerably dull. The sooner we resolve this minor crisis, the sooner he’ll stop remembering to try and care about us. God knows, it’s worked before. The poor boy’s just not cut out for emotional competency; he has to get by with repression.

In light of this, I have forwarded you an email from Raphael. Think of it as the first breadcrumb on one long, uninterrupted trail that will take you from that derelict shack in Kansas, back into the loving arms of our family. Follow that trail, Dorothy. Hopefully, it will lead you to Dad.

Mike

P.S. My team are on standby, just in case.

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: Fwd: Re: Fwd: our family

“Today Uncle Joshua sent me a message. It arrived via pigeon at my office window, which somewhat surprised my secretary. It read (deciphered from pig latin):

“Hey, boys! Your Dad says you’re worried about him, and he just wanted to tell all of you to quit it and leave him alone. Enjoy your collective summer!”

I assume that this means that Dad intends to return in the fall? That he despises all of us, save Luce? That he loves us, but is saddened by our continual dependence on his orders, and wishes to create a new regime of freedom and spontaneous road-trips?

It’s all a little ambiguous. Feel free to shed some light on this, but do so before my next interview, and for God’s sake don’t let the press, dearest Castiel or – Heaven forbid– Luce find out.

For the record, Dad never loved you, either: Luce was always the favoured child. Isn’t it nice to find out that we have something in common after all these years of awkward dinner parties?

I remain (regrettably), your brother,

Raphael”

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: a polite warning

This is not being sent from my own account, Castiel. That would be incriminating.

I know where you live. I have identified everyone mentioned in your previous email. And, should you ever force me to buy a new phone again, I will end you.

This one’s pay as you go, Castiel. Can you imagine how irritating that is? Gabriel does not seem to be able to. He snickers down the line whenever I call. As I do not wish to continue calling him, especially at a flat rate of twenty cents, I suggest that you kick your sorry ass into gear and find my father.

---

To:menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: cas wants to be a producer

Sup, Balthie? Killed any puppies lately? I’ve heard that’s, like, a thing you guys do in your line of work. It being a dark and sinister line of work, for which you must procure the tears of toddlers and dispatch of all those spanners in the works of your clients’ evil masterplans, the likes of which shall destroy the world.

That aside, I’m touched by your open display of familial affection. That, cous, is what life’s about. No, seriously: I cried a little, I was so moved. I really feel like we’re connecting.

Cas, for the record, is past all hope. Even as Anna blithely persists in informing me of his spiritual enlightenment, he dredges up past feuds, insults my brothers and insists that Dad doesn’t love us anymore. Which is pretty obviously bull, because Dad’s always loved the three of you, if no one else. He practically raised you! And, sure, I used to get a little miffed when that meant that he neglected to raise me, but that’s all just water under the metaphorical bridge. Point is, Cas is full of shit, Anna’s oblivious, and is it just me or is Dad still freaking missing?

Frankly, I’m too jaded to contact anyone else. I need a drink, a rerun of Doctor Sexy's season twelve finale, and a bag of chocolate-coated marshmallows. Instead, I’ve got you. Show me a little sanity, Balth, you’re good for that.

Gabe

P.S. Which one was Jo, again? Apparently, Anna went and married her. When was this? Why wasn’t I invited to the wedding?

P.P.S. Oh, wait, was she the bicurious one with the piercing and the knives?

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: very very very unhappy

Yes, Gabriel, you did catch me at a rather inopportune moment; I was busy slaughtering an entire herd of puppies with a meat cleaver when my iPad went off. Assuming those things even come in herds. Flocks? I did rather baulk at clubbing the littlest one with the brown spots and the gammy eye to death, but apparently company policy won’t stand for squeamishness, so.

You really have no idea what an Advanced Futures Managing Investor really does, do you?

(Incidentally, you did dismember and incinerate that package I asked you to dispose of, yes? Good. I probably shouldn’t have admitted knowledge of that in writing, blast it all. Ah well. At least they don’t know which package. I don’t suppose you could encrypt your response, maybe? I’ve heard pig latin works a charm.)

In answer to the bulk of your email - Uncle loved us to the point of incompetency, Gabriel, and his way of showing it involved sporadic neglect, intermittent bouts of authoritarianism, and other enigmatic demonstrations of affection. You could say that Anna had a better claim to raising us than he did. It’s no wonder we all turned out psychopaths and hippies. I always did wonder which side Cas would end up plummeting into once he’d finished straddling the fence, and you only have yourself to blame that he swung to the left rather than the right. (Anna gave me the upshot of what’s been happening; I Googled the rest.) Nevertheless, I find it almost inspiring. Castiel isn’t like the rest of us, you know. He always had a certain je ne sais quoi that we all lacked. More soul, perhaps? Anna and Luce possess it to a point, but Cassy isn’t of their mould. I knew he’d surprise us.

Please don’t be such a bore as to reply. I’m rather tied up with work at the minute.

Balthazar

PS She did send you an invite. She even sent Raphael one, though that was admittedly prompted more by spite and an impulse to alienate his electorate than out of fondness. But she was going to ask you to give her away. This despite the fact that the one time you met her fiancée you spent half the time making quips about your latest stage gimmick, and the other half transparently ogling her breasts. You never responded. Castiel ended up doing it instead. It was, hands down, the most awkward ceremonial shuffle known to man, or, indeed, woman. I’d like to say I’m surprised you don’t recall, but it actually isn’t even uncharacteristic.

PPS Although I really cannot believe you don’t remember what she did with that cheese knife. Still haunts my nightmares, to be frank.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: hey douchelord

i shouldn’t be tying this.d DEan says I cant hold my drink and Dean says I’ll regret thiss in themorning but I am holding my drink right now asnd it’s omnly sploshing over the keyboard a little which I argue counts for something. Also Dean is an assbutt. Also you’re an assbutt but your’e the only assbutt I can talk to right now apart from all lthe others. They will be supportive and slightly sickening and in Balthazar’s case also unsettling. Even if ytalking to you is like talking to an infuriating, enigmatic, overly sarcastic, extremely saddemning brick wall sometimes. Allthe time. All the time or some of the time? You used to be a smaller dick. LESS of a dick, I mean. I think. I can ‘t remember much right now.

I’m not drunk,,, right now.

I did itall for him, Gabriel. Gabe. Gaaabe, I did it because he didn’t want all this. He did’nt want our family to attempt dcorporate hegemony. he wanted us to be true to ourselves. Raphael got it wrongh e thought he would impress him. Or maybe he and Micheal didn’t care. So i sat there in that squalid little office and i thought: why can’t they just fix the thermostat? But then I realised it’s not the thermostsat. It’s not the obects or the building. It’s the structure, Gabriel. IT’s all the system. Rotted to the core. And Dad wasn;t a part of that. He didn’t want to be. Peple did it for hjim. Does he kmind if I call hinm Dad? I always though of him as Dad.

He’s left us Gabe. He doesn’t care that Raphaerl got it wrong or that I got it right. He didn’t care when Anna left. I realised that a while ago but then it was confirmed and I. I can’t.

But tjen I came here and that was something of its own. It wasn;;t for him anymore. Do you know the siugn outside say’s Winchesters? Winchesters without the apostrophe. At first it felt like something to be scorned but now it holds an elusive kind ofo freedom. These people dont’ lived boxed up like us,. Like you. They’re free and they’re beautiful and all of this is beautiful but I just. Can’t. i cried so much ovoer that fish, you know. That fish was my achievement, Gabe. I fed and raised it all myself. And this is like the fish, you kniow?? someone’s going to step on it. Dad’s not even HERE to step on it. I wish hed just come back and just stpe on the fish and get it over with. I wish hed jusrtscsnfcseionjho\z;ihdqie fFihfnoiiifffffffffffffffffffff

(Yo, this is Dean. Just grabbing the keyboard for a second here to say that, whilst all drinking buddy etiquette says I shouldn’t let Cas send this, I’m gonna say screw it and do it anyway. Mostly because it’s freaking hilarious, but also because, from what he’s told me, you deserve all kinds of crap for what you’ve done. Plus, it was this or let him snort salt which, I kid you not, he was literally just trying to do. Tonight’s just been endless rounds of bad decision bingo and gegerigjnokay got to go the son of a bitch has got me in a headlock jesus okay im putting down the keyboard cas

---

To: [import contacts list = “egregiuous dickss”] E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov, M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: hey other douchelards

i founjd something which might bee of interest to dads’ disappearance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

I thinkm you should clik this link.

from CAsdtiel

PS Micheal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRUfDevzfkw

PPS Hey, Dean here. Just so you know, Cas is officially banned from using the Internet. Like, ever. I’m gonna leave now and pretend I’m not pissing myself laughing. Wait, shit, I think he just collapsed. Got to go!

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Gabe??

Come on. This isn’t fair. I was expecting at least a lengthy tirade, detailing all the reasons why I suck and you’re famous. Or at least some kind of curt dismissal, or an obnoxious gif. But no! Total blackout! Don’t make me worry about you too; I’ve got more than enough on my plate. Just – drop me a line so that at least I know you haven’t gone Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance on us? Please? Two absentee family members are more than enough.

Anna

PS Luce called. He told me he’s working on a new project, which is apparently a fusion of traditional Japanese Noh theatre, 90s reality TV, and Alexander Pope. I didn’t ask. I didn’t tell him about Uncle, either. Gabe, do you reckon he knows something’s up? When should we really start to worry?

Chapter Text

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: running outta references - I never actually saw that movie

Stop speaking Spanish. Ich bu shuo.

…but seriously, I don’t know what to say to you, Balthie. You’ve sucked my comedic genius as dry as the wasted artery of a blood bank employee’s first victim (not gonna lie – that totally happened to me in junior high). I’m honestly just responding ‘cause you told me not to.

For once in my life, I got nothing.

Gabe

P.S. Being as this kind of comes across as a wasted opportunity, I’m having one of my guys attach a little something to this email that will permanently redirect you to dontshootstageshow.com every time you try and load your homepage. Thank me later.

P.P.S. The show’s really taken off (thanks for asking). I have ‘guys’ now. Like, as in, a team of guys, here solely to, like, bubble the lights or lambast the sets or whatever else the people in the biz like forget to stop blathering about.

---

To: “Scoobies”
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: and the moral is…

… Cas is freaking awesome when drunk. Seriously, Anna, you should have seen it. It was a glorious sight to behold–textually, of course.

BTW, sometimes I want to take time off emailing my incredibly screwed up family in order to, you know, have a life. Be ridiculously famous. Scout out the local ice cream parlours. Watch the caterpillars. Have sex with various interns. All of the above, possibly not concurrently.

Also, now’s a pretty bad time. I happen to be exceptionally busy discussing the contract for my prospective TV adaption of Don’t Shoot. I’m thinking Blow Gabriel Blow is less than subtle, but the crew seem invested – maybe Horn of Truth would work better, or is that passé? Whatever. There are already over five hundred and thirty two Tumblr accounts devoted solely to gifs of me crinkling my eyebrows, so I figure the details are academic.

But, I’m so focused on me –what about the two of you? Let me go reread those messages of yours.

Cas: douchelord is amazing; mind if I use that one on my show? I’ll page Mikey about the thermostat and he can send his team over. Don’t worry about Dean, either – I’m sure he’ll accept your feelings eventually. Maybe you should leave this one to your sister, though. I mean, she’s seemingly been infected by the same obnoxious disease as the rest of the planet – what’s with this whole pandemic of wanting relationships that last more than a night and don’t end with a signed, three-page reference for future employers (letterhead of choice totally included)? At any rate, I was sure that you weren’t immunised, so you’re gonna catch the damned “commitment”bug eventually. In which case, Annie’s a safer bet than I am for the inevitable relationship counselling.

Anna: who are you, my mom? Oh, wait, she walked out years before you ever thought to.

Anyhoo, kids, Luce doesn’t seem to have gotten my initial email, so I think it’s a safe bet to say that he hasn’t coughed up for this month’s WiFi. That, or he cannibalised his router for a new violin amp – you can never tell, with him.

Catch you some time in the far, far future!

Gabe

P.S. Oh, sorry, with all the excitement, I’d completely forgotten about Dad. I’ve decided that the bastard can go eat quicksand. See, I figure he’s going all Temptation of Christ on our asses – sans Lucifer, plus an arcload more marijuana. The guy ain’t coming back any time soon.

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: so, we’re douchelards now

Yes, I find this highly amusing. And so will the press. Please restrain our cousin.

Yours,

Raphael

---

To: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: so we are

Physical restraints are something of an impossibility – Castiel is surprisingly well-guarded in his current location. I Googled this ‘Dean’ man; the results were not encouraging. Less dramatic intervention would generally be my speciality, but there is a meeting at which my presence is urgently required. It will keep me busy for at least the next seventy two hours, so, naturally, my filial duties fall to my next of kin. Lucifer and Gabriel were written out of my will years ago; my mantle is yours. I’m sure you’ll find discourse with Castiel as bracing as I have.

Cheers,

Mike

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: bastard

I forwarded him a video on responsible drinking. I think it should suffice.

Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8ekz_CSBVg&ob=av3e

I concede that you are somewhat subtler than I am, but I think I get the point across.

My regards,

Raphael

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: if you don’t fix my computer within the next 24 hours I swear to God I am pressing charges

Incidentally, your website design could use drastic improvement. Was it really necessary to match aquamarine with bright cranberry? I realise your average fan possesses all the subtlety of Castiel’s current sexuality crisis, but one does not require one’s eyes to be charred to a crisp in order to be alerted to the fact that one is visiting a web page.

Regardless. Not the point. The point is that I, unlike you, lack the leisure time in which to exchange passive-aggressive missives with my least favourite cousin. For no good reason, at any rate. And yet, the fact remains that you have information I want. Anna tells me you’ve been speaking to Cas. Forward me the emails, would you? I’d like to know how he’s been doing and, counter-intuitively enough, pestering you is quicker and more effective than prying news from the man himself. Don’t think I don’t resent being locked out of the loop like this. And please don’t waste time in pointing this out. I may not have mentioned this before but I am, in fact, rather busy.

Balthazar

PS I really was asking about the package, Gabe. Don’t tell me you screwed this one up.

PPS By the by, do you know any sure-fire methods for erasing fingerprints? Curiosity prompts me to ask.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: monogamy, amongst other things

Gabe, please. As if you’re not jaded, lonely, and wildly jealous of my relationship with my wife. Or, for that matter, every relationship I’ve ever had. I know this because you’ve tried to steal every girlfriend I’ve taken the opportunity to bring home. And every boyfriend, for that matter. And succeeded, for which I hate you utterly. Not the point. Point is, the commitment bug bites in mysterious ways, and if Cas, why not you? In principle, that is. I assure you, Tumblr would go apeshit over the intrigue.

On the topic of Cas – you’re telling me someone finally taught little bro the true meaning of alcohol? Literally called the shots? I’m amazed. Amazed, and also a little perturbed. But then, who knows? Maybe someday these Winchester people will teach him that the old suit-n’-tie combo isn’t a statuary requirement, too. I reckon it’s doing him good to socialise with people who weren’t bred on a diet of Biblical psalms and Bach. That said, I wish he’d call. Or email. He’s been uncharacteristically silent on Twitter. It’s not that I can’t sympathise with the urge to slice away at the familial shackles, but – well, sue me; I worry. I worry because, despite what you seem to think, my brothers matter to me. I stuck around till I couldn’t stand it, and then some. You know that, Gabe. It seems half the time you’re snapping at me and Cas for sending the odd email your way, and the other half you’re throwing guilt over years-old abandonment issues. What are you actually mad about here?

Whatever. I’ve given up on stressing over Luce. Last time we spoke, he was well stocked in eyeliner and atmospheric whale music CDs, so you know what? I wash my hands of the whole issue. And furthermore? I’m sick of worrying about Uncle. You’re right. If he’s disappeared, it’s intentional. And you know what else? Good riddance. Maybe we can all just live our lives now! Without worrying about whether this or that stray family member has inexplicably dropped off the map.

Talk to you later, Gabe. I’m out of sorts tonight. I need to get some sleep.

Anna

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.org

Subject: …

You probably think I’m about to apologise. I’m not. That was the most worthwhile email I’ve ever sent and I don’t regret an inch of those drunken ramblings. I’m not sure why I don’t regret it – but there it is. I don’t. Youtube wars notwithstanding.

You know what I love the most about this life? Confusion. I used to be so certain, Gabriel. Life was a railroad track, a planned bus route. Every stop along the way was scheduled. It practically killed me. Now I see I was an idiot. Life is like a road trip – you drive without a map. It’s terrifying. Why did I never see how terrifying it was? There are so many paths I ignored, so much I overlooked. And, most of all, so many quandaries with no answer.

Am I the first person to have thought of this?

I’ve decided, Gabriel. I’m going to write a novel. I’m going to create something that isn’t a product of Uncle, or Michael and Raphael, or even Anna and Balthazar. Uncle’s left for good – believe me. It’s time we all escaped what he planned for us, good or bad. If he had any plans at all, I guess.

He didn’t, I suppose.

Who cares. I’m done. I’m here with Dean, and Sam, and Bobby - you should understand. You have your fame; I have my new life. You’re only mocking me because you know they’re both the same, when it comes down to it.

- from Castiel

---

To: “egregiuous dickss”
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.org

Subject: No Subject

Find your Dad alone. I no longer care.

Also, you’re both dicks.

- from Castiel

Chapter Text

To:menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: no can do, bro

Relax, the Feds have the package. I figured, hey, it’s way too important to let fall into the wrong hands!

Yeah, I’m just messing with ya. But, seriously? I know your scummy little secrets, Balthie. Don’t underestimate me. As a child, I knelt at the feet of Lucifer himself to learn the art of familial legerdemain, and boy did it ever pay off.

Speaking of, I don’t see why I should send you anything. I’ve been feeling all gooey and charitable recently, what with the brotherly love that’s been doing the rounds like a particularly pervasive STD. So, I think we should prolong this cute little exchange of mediocre witticisms. For the record, you were always my least favourite cousin, too, sweetcheeks. Not counting Uriel, that is – but then, I never do!

I still remember the day I realised how much I hated you. Which, coincidentally, was the day Cas was born. See, you weren’t even orphans, back then – you couldn’t even play the pity card – so we all just found you damned annoying. That particular day, we were stood outside a hospital room. You were sobbing about not being allowed inside, Uncle ‘Tron was busy trying to stop Anna colouring in Michael’s copy of The Once and Future King (Michael was attempting to bash her over the head with it), and suddenly you just threw yourself against the door to that room like you’re peanut butter and it’s Oreos and an overenthusiastic tween had just been given a taste of the magic. Being the responsible young man that I was, I grabbed you under the arms, flung you across the room and thus saved you from premature death by concussion.

You know what you did next, you ungrateful little shit? You went limp and moaned something along the lines of “Da-ddy, Gabe hurt me and now I can’t feel my neck!”

I’ve never asked if you remembered, but now I’m curious: were you always a conniving, self-serving little brat, or did I somehow induce that in you? I’ve always felt mildly responsible, but that could just be vanity speaking.

As for the fingerprints, can’t you just feed them to pigs, or something? I’m sure I heard that somewhere.

Gabe

P.S. Don’t think I haven’t been on the horror that is fluffyclouds.net. Something about glass houses?

---

To:borntorun@roadside.org
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: screw you

I don’t remember ever having asked your opinion on my ‘abandonment issues’. Hell, it’s adorable that you think that you care about me to the extent that you’re willing to throw around that phrase, even if the only conclusion that it leads me to draw is that the level of hypocrisy in this family is truly startling.

What’s this about, Anna? Do you seriously still think that it’s us, the outsiders, against the big bad extended Milton family? The hippies versus the psychos, as Balthie so eloquently put it?

Newsflash, sweetheart: you’re deluded!

Frankly, I barely see us as related. It’s not like we ever took the time to get to know each other before scurrying merrily away to the opposite sides of the country, as fast as our dear little legs could carry us. Besides, I’d happily quit talking to all of you if it proved more amusing than listening to you guys flail about in search of my father and/or your respective purposes in life.

There, I’ve said it. Is that what you wanted to hear? Aren’t I just heartless.

Regards,

Gabe

---

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.org
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Re:…

Kiddo, I love you. I really do. Today is just not the best day to be messaging me about this stuff.

It’s nice that you’ve found nirvana, or whatever. Ideas for your autobiography: stand on the Great Pyramid; fund a giant scavenger hunt; start a political movement! Make out with your sister’s wife!

Do whatever. Just don’t tell me about it.

---

To:M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: [No Subject]

I haven’t heard from Gabriel in several days. Lucifer’s email keeps on sending me an autorespond message that consists solely of lyrics from various Pink Floyd songs. I’m beginning to think that we may have to outsource to our cousins. Or – Heaven forbid – Zachariah.

---

To:E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: Re: [No Subject]

Do you ever feel like we’re the only ones attempting to resolve this situation?

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: For the record, when I said fingerprints, this didn’t automatically make it corpse-related

You know, I can’t actually pinpoint when I realised I disliked you. It wasn’t really monumental. More of a creeping sense of comprehension; a subtle paradigmatic shift from mild apathy to vague irritation. I do, however, recall how most of your attention-grabbing pranks began to gradually centre on me. It was always my Maths homework that had to be shredded in order to make confetti for the play parade, wasn’t it? My bout of ‘flu used as an alibi for when you took a day trip to the city. My dignity sacrificed when you introduced your darling little brother, dying of terminal chlamydia to your girlfriend of the week, in order to satisfy some elaborate ruse. To say nothing of all the laughter at my expense when you finally got round to researching what chlamydia actually was. It’s no wonder most of us emerged from childhood despising you.

Regardless. You can’t seriously hope to scare me by simply mentioning the authorities. I know you, Gabriel. You hate the police even more than you hate your family. Now, unless you’re particularly fond of concrete-based footwear as an aesthetic choice, I think it would be best if you forwarded Castiel’s emails to me post-haste.

For the record? We’re all self-serving. Of course, I mean this as a hereditary, rather than universal, observation. But then, whilst some Miltons make a cursory attempt to veil it with the occasional spate of tree-hugging and ill-fated political activism, others accept the world as it is, and try to profit from the current state of affairs as best they can. Like it or not, my dear, you’re quite solidly in the latter group.

Balthazar

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Hey Gabe?

Fuck you.

Anna

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Also

No, seriously, fuck you, Gabriel. I never asked for anything. I never made that gross assumption that family automatically means fealty. I certainly never sculpted some kind of exclusive outcasts’ club from mutual inclination to get the hell out of a completely toxic home environment. Believe it or not? I just wanted to talk. I thought I’d found an ally with this Castiel thing. I’ve always looked out for the kid! Always, you asshole. And, un-fucking-fathomably, you’re in the know, whereas I’m left high, dry and bereft of news on the Great Escape of 2012. Maybe I thought we could pool information! Or maybe I thought, after all those olive branches I handed you all these years, you’d finally deigned to accept one.

Stupid idea. You’re too selfish to care.

Anna

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: And another thing

I mean, you didn’t even RSVP my wedding. Any standard, garden variety douchebag would have made an excuse: fabricated a prior engagement; feigned triple tuberculosis – whatever. From you? No response whatsoever. All this time, I thought it was your Dad you were escaping, but I should have looked further; you were running from all of us. Especially those amongst us who actually gave a solitary shit about you.

Even at school, it was always an endless one-man smugness show. I was fourteen – gawky, and scared and in love with the occult - and I practically wanted to be you, Gabe. You made me walk six paces behind you in hallways for fear that someone might guess we were related. In a family where the perceived summit of achievement was located roughly atop the edge of the corporate tower, I needed direction so badly. Direction from someone who didn’t buy into all that. I wanted someone to tell me it was okay to want to dye my hair magenta and browse webpages on faerie lore rather than squeeze myself into a little pink sheathe dress for the Homecoming dance. Instead, I got a cousin who felt no compunctions about making out with my best friend in the laundry closet at my fifteenth birthday party. You couldn’t understand why I was so upset! Why would you? You were locked in your own little narcissistic cycle, as always.

Well, stay there. I honestly don’t give a damn.

Anna

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.org

Subject: proving a point

Yesterday I scratched the screen of my iPhone, playing soccer (it was probably soccer?) with Sam and Dean outside in a nectarine orchard. It was not the amicable sport I was led to believe, although Dean assured me that full-body tackles culminating in a Jui-Jitsu chokehold are well within the rules of the game and do not constitute a foul. Apparently these games are more nuanced than I thought. Anyway, I asked if I could borrow one of their spares for the time being, and Gabriel, you wouldn’t believe it. None of their phones have WiFi connection. Moreover, they don’t have spares. Not even in case of emergencies. I thought it was mandatory to own at least two Apple products per household. In fact, I’m sure of it.

Sam says I was misinformed. Sam also says that it isn’t “normal” or “even particularly feasible” to update one’s Facebook page every ten minutes or fewer. I’m fairly certain it’s customary, but he seemed adamant. As it is, the Winchesters have challenged me to spend three days without any Internet connection whatsoever – which, in the modern age, seems oddly paradoxical and largely counter-intuitive. But I don’t think they believe I can do it, which is ridiculous. So I’m doing it. I’ll be out of touch for a while, so I’m emailing to tell you not to worry, in case you have decided to become the sort of person who worries.

Good luck with the search for Dad. If that’s still happening.

- from Castiel

Chapter Text

To: exegesis@flyingwiccanpress.com
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
Subject: this isn’t spam

Hey, Dad. I don’t even know why I’m sending this. Previously, I was working under the assumption that you were in Vegas. Maybe Vancouver. Not sure why Vancouver; guess it just seemed a nice enough place. It’s where they’re going to film my TV show, you know, but I guess you don’t care about that. “Gabriel,” you always said, “the written word is superior to all other forms of human communication. Never forget that.”

Come to think of it, Dad, you’re kind of a douchebag. But then, we all know that, you most of all. I mean, I get it, we all screwed up. I just get the feeling that you screwed up more, you know? Way, way more. You basically made it clear from the start that you could give a crap about anyone who wasn’t Luce. Like that wasn’t predictable – the naming was something of a giveaway. Now, recite it with me: Mike starts trying to outperform Luce just to win your attention, and boy does he ever succeed. Not that it matters. You never notice. So, he takes it out on Raph, as if that could ever help. Raph was the youngest; Mike took care of him. Mike hates that. Raph ends up pretty screwy – understandable, from a child who was raised on the principle that he was an unloved fuck up of an unloved fuck up of a first rate asshole.

You know, he went into politics because he thought that the world would be better if it was under his thumb. I wonder who gave him that attitude?

Now, see, I know what you’re thinking. You’re gonna be saying to yourself right about now “Gabe, my boy, what about you? Don’t prize yourself above the others – what’s your dysfunction?”

I would have thought that would have been obvious by now, but you’re kind of dense, in addition to having shitty parenting skills.

Have you guessed yet?

No?

Well, I’ll tell you. It was watching all of you. You know what I wondered, every single day? I wondered what kind of fucked up bastard of a father would be so wholly, irredeemably cruel as to tell his sons at every chance he got that he didn’t love them. It was the small things, Dad. Those days you didn’t bother coming home at night. When you went to your publishing house instead of watching Michael’s performance as Pontius Pilate in our school’s nativity. That time you sat on the end of my bed one morning– waking me up, I might add – and said, very thoughtfully, “Lucifer’s not talking to me, Gabe.”

Come home, Dad. This is a shouting match that deserves a little screen time. After all, none of us know how to keep it together without you – we’re kind of hopeless like that. If you go to Raph’s house, I can guarantee you that we’ll all follow, no questions asked. Hell, I’ll put my first meeting with my producer on hold, and that’s saying something.

Yours,

Gabriel

---

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: do you actually know what a ‘subject’ is

Why does everyone seem to think that I’m in denial of my self-servingness?

Lemme rephrase that. I am a selfish bastard. You are a selfish bastard. Cas doesn’t want to talk to either of us. You do realise that he’s ditched us for some tame ordinary people, right? Your little brother’s living the apple pie life, Balthazar – I hope you’re proud!

I just emailed Dad, and I don’t actually expect a response, but if it has a snowball’s chance of bringing him back, then that’s my bit done. After some fairly intense mental debate, I’ve decided that I’m washing my hands of all of this and going to Vancouver. There are some final adjustments needed on the set of Blow Gabriel Blow.

For the record, the show will be aired live, and shooting starts in less than a month. I suggest you tune in then, if you still want some form of contact with me.

Gabe

---

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.org
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: mild irritation

Gabriel forwarded all your messages to me with the subject “kid cracks me up but I am bored and I am offloading him onto you”. Apparently his email client doesn’t restrict him with such petty limitations as a word count.

I’m not particularly pleased by this, but then, I am on a meditation course in Nepal. I can’t be expected to intervene in these family matters; it simply isn’t my duty. It interferes with the positive energy flow that I have been maintaining, interrupting the delicate balance of perception that I have mastered.

To be honest, the only person I can stand to talk to right now is Luce. I’ve been sending him whale music CDs, given he currently lacks the funding to purchase them himself. But then, I suppose that you’re an exception. We’ve been friends a long time now, Cas, so I’ll give you some advice, even if it means having to smuggle my smartphone into my throat-singing classes.

Looking back on your and Gabriel's conversation, I’m rather worried by your behaviour. I know that Uncle has been so irresponsible as to go missing during your crisis of faith, but really – staying at a diner, Cas? A diner staffed by the kind of people who can’t even use an apostrophe to show the possessive? You’re heading down a dark path, and you don’t even realise it. You’re slowly being forced to give up on all that makes you individual, all the neuroses and eccentricities that make you a Milton.

What you are doing is the opposite of seeking enlightenment. Cas, you are having your intricate and precious sense of self trampled into the ground like half a ham sandwich at a family picnic.

I say all this out of the purest concern. Please, I beg of you – as your friend, if nothing more – log onto Easyjet at 16:00. I have a scheduled break from my extreme breathing exercise class, so I’ll purchase a single to Chicago in your name. Enter the standard details.

Yours,

Uriel
---
To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: RMilton@onestep.gov
Subject: Cas?

You haven’t tweeted at all in the past four hours, and your Facebook status is far too cryptic for any concerned cousin’s tastes. Out of interest, why does your profile now state that you are married to a ‘Sam Winchester’? Did I miss the ceremony? It’s so late now, the best thing that I think I can send you is a fruit basket.

I have to say, Castiel, I’m worried about you. There was a time when I thought that you would take after me and Raphael and enter the world of politics, and now, not a few years later, you’re uploading blurred pictures of yourself to Flickr with grass stains on your knees and leering ‘friends’ making peace signs behind your head. What happened to the quiet, studious child who earnestly insisted that he wanted to be a clergyman? I don’t mean to question your judgement – it simply seems, not to put too fine a point on it, odd.

Michael’s ‘team’ keeps on phoning me, by the way, because apparently the man himself is unreachable and Raphael refused to take their calls. What should I tell them? I’ve booked dinner at six on Saturday for all of you: early bird at the local Mongolian. Take it or leave it, but I’ve heard that their stir-fried goat’s cheese caviar is spectacular.

Yours,

Rachel

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Hi Gabriel. This isn’t Anna. This is her partner, Jo. We made out in the pantry at that champagne reception of Michael’s a few years back, remember? Before you got bored and started raiding the shelves for raw cookie dough mix.

Anna is currently unable to answer her emails, due to being holed up in our room with a mug of camomile tea and a packet of Triscuits, watching reruns of Charmed in her dressing gown. Seeing as the camomile’s spiked with vodka, and I just shoved a cabinet in front of the door (fairly sure she was too lost in Rose McGowan’s pretty pretty face to notice), this is basically the perfect crime, so don’t worry.

This isn’t a violation of privacy, by the way. This is a tactical intervention. Just so we’re clear.

First of all, let it be known that my wife is crazy. Not crazy because she just sent you a slew of tearful emails in quick succession – that I get, believe me - but crazy because she still cares. And she won’t stop wringing her hands over you and Castiel. And, frankly, it’s getting a little grating.

Here’s the big secret: when she left the family, she didn’t actually want to leave the family. I think the only person she really wanted to abandon was your Dad, although, lo and behold, she’s still cut up over the dude’s disappearance, so. Thing is, Castiel’s stopped updating Twitter, Facebook, LJ and even his newly minted blog – and, from what I can tell, all he was doing there was making cryptic allusions to the dangers of materialism, and going on vague, protracted rants about various trees he didn’t know the names of. But Anna’s been checking it all, periodically, and let me tell you, he has done one hell of a vanishing act. She’s even been tracking his winchestersdiner.org account for when he signs in, and he hasn’t been online in two days. But she’s bizarrely opposed to contacting him. Seems to think it’d upset the delicate chemical balance of his mental stability if she so much as called. Without any help from the rest of us, these two are going to spend eternity giving each other space.

So could you please, like, text her or something? Just let her know she hasn’t screwed things up for good with you? Between you, Cas and my absentee Uncle-in-law, she’s been half woman, half zombie, and I’m sick of watching her obsess over three people who, as far as I can tell, couldn’t give a crap about anything but themselves.

So. Do I have to threaten physical violence? What exactly does it take to get you and the girl who is practically your sister to talk? A government subpoena? Alien abduction? Help me out here, Gabe.

- Jo

---

- Castiel is currently offline! -

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: a final note

Only you could call a homoerotic summer romp with an Apollonian youth in the halcyon fields of rural Kansas apple pie life, Gabriel. (I imagine this ‘Dean’ fellow must be young, soulful and half-wild – a veritable Dorian Gray. It’s almost enough to make one envious.)

Say what you will; Castiel was always destined for far greater things than you or I. Even as a child, he was curiously observant - oddly attuned to life in its various shapes, in ways that we were not. And whilst the rest of us succumb to mundanity, he will still be there, viewing the world with a rapture we cannot access, slightly vacant stare and irritating detachment belying the complexity of the depths beneath.

In other words, he’s an artist. You and I are both businessmen. How could we ever understand? Better not even to try. Let him enjoy his pastoral comedy. And stop mailing me flyers for your show. I don’t even know how you found this address.

Balthazar

---

To: theboss@businesspeopledoingbusinessthings.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: Requesting “shore leave”

I-ay am-ay orry-say o-tay inform-ay ou-yay at-thay -

Christ, this is a bastard to type. We should definitely think about getting a more accessible “code”. Anyhow. Sorry to say that I’m going to have to back out of our “social meeting” tomorrow evening, as there is pressing family business to which I must attend that requires my immediate presence in Lawrence, Kansas. Still, I’m sure you could ask Q. to “fill in” for me. Just remind him that the “sports bag” should be “delivered” to the “gym” in time for “opening hours”. That way there ought to be time to “renew our membership card” and possibly “take out a book on cardio-vascular exercises” from the “small, family-owned library on High Street” before “buying a packet of whole-wheat tagliatelle” from the “covered market”. Also, remember not to let “Alice’s grandmother” eat any of the “chocolate-covered cashew nuts” as she is “allergic”. Or was that last part literal?

Well, godspeed, regardless. If you need me, I’ve given you my phone number, with each digit as a separate, encrypted attachment in random order.

Balthazar

Chapter Text

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Honestly

I do try to be polite, Castiel, but just think about those poor men. They lugged all their heavy-duty equipment to that restaurant, just to protect you, and you didn’t even show. Would you believe, someone saw the rifles on them and called the police? They were promptly assumed to be terrorists and were thrown into holding cells for three days with nothing but a rusty sink, a latrine and an endless supply of ice cream sandwiches. They didn’t even have WiFi, Cas.

Unfortunately, complaining about this egregious violation of human rights would imply my involvement, and I can’t afford to have any skeletons dragged out of my closet right now. Opinion polls show that interest in Raphael has begun to decline, potentially due to the recession, and also because the Daily Portent discovered his secret love of buddy cop movies. I think that I’m set to run in this election with a fighting chance.

I digress. My point is, you should have phoned to cancel the meal. Or, for that matter, logged onto Skype. I know that I’m nagging, but you haven’t even responded to my comments on your blog.

Regards,

Rachel

---

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.org
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: common sense

Cas, leave those brainless mundanities and join me in Nepal. I’ve had my mind’s eye opened, as Luce and I discussed via fax. Although, he did seem to feel that spiritual progress is inextricably tied to listening to looped Beatles songs layered over Vaughan Williams’ Sancta Civitas, a notion towards which I am ambivalent.

You are still occluded, but there’s another path.

Yours,

Uriel

---

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: Z-Milton195@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: “cashew nuts”

Oh, Balthazar. Balthazar, Balthazar, Balthazar. You were never my least favourite. In the expansive menagerie that is the youngest generation of Miltons, you are like the capybara. An interesting curiosity, not unpleasant to the eye, with a name that’s impossible for my secretary to spell on Christmas cards and the kind of bite that leaves your victims with pus-encrusted sores for the next twelve years of their miserable lives.

The thing is, Balthazar, sometimes capybaras get sick. Sometimes they get rabies. And rabid animals must be put down.

I’ve been dipping into Gabriel’s emails for years, and I’d never expected anything to come of it. I usually just take a peek when I’m having a bad day. It cheers me up to have a good old chuckle at the expense of whatever deteriorating relationship he’s incompetently trying to pretend to refuse to salvage. Recently, though, things have been a little more- shall we say, “lively”?

You should have taken your boss’ advice and stuck to the pig latin, Balthie. (You don’t mind if I call you that, do you? It’s better for you if you don’t mind.)

We know what was in the box. We intend to retrieve it. Unfortunately for us, Gabriel had the foresight/inane good fortune to think of mailing it to Castiel, who appears to be well-guarded.

But, you’re going to be in Lawrence soon, aren’t you, Balthie? Castiel trusts you.

You know what you have to do.

Before you attempt to bargain, recall that we have other methods. But this way, no one gets hurt. This way, you are not the capybara. Don’t be the capybara, Balthazar. No one likes a capybara.

Your favourite uncle,

Zachariah

---

To: Import contacts list=”Entitled Asspollocks”
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Hey

Raph, Mikey, for creative purposes, I just need to know something. I haven’t asked you anything like this since that time when we were kids and I found Dad’s printed drafts of his newest Doctor Sexy fanfiction on the kitchen table. So, bear with.

Here goes. It’s stupid, I get that. But I gotta know. Kinda stumped, here.

How exactly do you go about apologising to someone?

Yours,

Gabe

---

To: Import contacts list=”Entitled Asspollocks”
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: ignore that last one
Attached: eel.gif

I worked it out. I just sent her a piece of modern art made by one of my fans. I even forked out for next-day delivery! It’s a sculpture of the Grand Canyon made entirely of photocopies of the leaked casting sides for my TV show. Did I tell you how well that's going? I haven't written any of the scripts yet, because my team assure me that I'm at my best when I improvise.

Attached is a picture of my face as I await her reply.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
CC: “egregiuous dickss”, menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net, borntorun@roadside.org, U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net, RMilton@onestep.gov , iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Enlightenment

Strictly speaking, this is only the second day of my Internet hiatus, but I had to get online in order to tell everyone what forty eight hours of intense cultural deprivation have inspired me to do. Gabriel responded to the news that I intended to write a novel with characteristic insouciance. I expect, had I told the rest of you, the reaction would have been similar, only with greater instances of last-minute invitations to restaurants where a spray of foam alongside a teaspoon of lemon reduction is considered to be dessert. And also fewer suggestions that I sexually harass married women. Generally I would just continue automatically diverting your emails to the spam folder, but I want you to know I’m not playing here. I am completely serious about what I want to be. It’s the only certainty I seem to possess these days, in a world where each day is filled with indecision; where all established meaning is void, and it turns out Starbucks don’t actually deliver outside of a two-mile radius.

Have any of you ever taken a walk through a meadow, with no destination in mind? Deliberately set aside time in which to do absolutely nothing? It was almost alarming, to lie down in the tall grass, trace the edges of the sky, and realise I’d dropped my wristwatch a mile back and I didn’t even care. I haven’t bought a new one yet, and it’s been practically four and a half hours. There are so many details of life that I missed. Did you know avocados actually grow on trees? And here was everybody thinking they were synthetic. We’re all trapped in our own inhibitions, scarcely aware of our own free will. All of us realise, but none of us care. Uriel even pays people to let him pretend that he cares, and Gabriel has an audience of millions to help him pretend that he doesn’t.

This is reality. This is something I would die to preserve. I told Dean I would die for him the other day. He spat out a mouthful of coffee, and said: “whoa, Cas, at least take a guy out to dinner first.” And smiled. It was one of those moments in which you realise you are exactly where you want to be, rather than where you should be, and I wanted to capture it down to the last fibre of colour.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve already drawn up a plot outline – a practical quandary, seeing as I ran out of wall space and Magic Markers about halfway through Chapter Twenty Three – and I will email you the first section presently. Uncle was nothing more than a formulaic hack. I am going to make the Milton name famous. Paradise Lost notwithstanding.

- from Castiel

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: You arrogant, short-sighted, irresponsible buffoon.

Words cannot do justice to the extent of my current fury, Gabriel. I am literally incandescent with rage. How anyone can sustain such a consistent, nigh-stratospheric level of idiocy and survive without perpetual injury is thoroughly beyond me – and yet, you manage it. Oh, how you manage it. You are pure poison, Gabriel. Everything you touch curls in on itself and disintegrates. And yet, like some hideous, warp-faced catalyst, you always manage to evade the results of your incompetency. Other, less disgustingly famous people take the fall instead, don’t they?

You sent the package to Castiel?!

What was it about being trusted with a quadruple-sealed, highly incriminating, searingly illegal briefcase that possibly made you see fit to entrust it to dear little David Thoreau in his savage-spattered wilderness?

Where did he hide it, Gabriel? Tell me immediately. Else, I hope you’re happy with having ruined me.

Balthazar

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: My infinite appreciation

Many thanks for such a wonderful, personal gift, Gabe. Thoughtfully tailored to the event, eh? Nothing says sorry for years of rampant douchebaggery and wilful neglect quite like tacky fan memorabilia, after all. I’m touched, Gabriel. Positively charmed. Particularly gracious was the fact that you neglected to burden me with a letter, or even an identifying line. Can’t have tangible communication eclipsing all this friendliness and understanding now, can we?

I struggled for a while over how best to express my gratitude, and I think I hit on the perfect idea. Coming your way as we speak, first class delivery, is a ten-inch photo album and scrapbook, detailing all the milestones of my life you were fortunate enough to miss. Especially prominent are my high school graduation, my trip to Rome with Cas and Balth, cast photos from that off-off Broadway production of Repo! the Genetic Opera I directed, newspaper clippings of interviews about my blog – and, of course, mementos from my wedding. All those events you were too busy to attend! I’ve even drawn a stocky little stick figure in every photo, with wiggly eyebrows and misshapen hair. It’s almost as if you were actually there!

In case you have difficulty remembering: I’m the one with the long red hair. But I went to the trouble of circling myself in every picture, along with at least three arrows pointing towards my face, for ease of reference.

No need to thank me. Your love and affection is enough.

Anna

Chapter Text

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
CC:borntorun@roadside.org, RMilton@onestep.gov, canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: Re:Enlightenment

What do you think he meant by that? He said I “even pay people to let [me] pretend that [I] care”. I don’t understand how the damned child can say these things when I know for a fact that he carries around five separate phones on a bad day, all with 3G capabilities, one for every major social networking website he frequents.

Also, not to sound petty, but I gave him that wristwatch. It’s worth more than Anna earns in a decade. Not that that means a great deal, but you all take my point.

Has anyone heard from Michael and Raphael, lately?

Yours,

Uriel

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
CC: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net, borntorun@roadside.org, U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Re:Enlightenment

I’m as loyal to Cas as the rest of you, but I really think we should consider an intervention. He’s gone a step too far.

(Michael’s team, demoralised as they were by their recent arrest, are now living in a motel near Winchesters, imbibing copious amounts of alcohol and – or so they inform me – wearing Hawaiian shirts in various shades of saturated orange in order to avoid detection for the second time.)

---

To: “Asspollock Garrison”
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Enlightenment

No time to email you all separately – sorry, guys, girls and miscellaneous, but production starts in just a couple of weeks, and I’ve gotta get myself good and under-rehearsed in time for opening night. Or, for whatever the TV equivalent of opening night is.

Anyhoo, can’t talk now, I have a party to attend. We’re holding it to celebrate the arrival of our shiny new director. Who, IMDB reliably informs me, likes strawberry liqueur, pseudepigrapha and stocky little men with “wiggly eyebrows and misshapen hair”. If you catch my gist.

Bon jian, amigos!

Gabe

P.S. Chillax, Balthie – he said something about sending it to American Storage and Rental (Lawrence branch, I assume) for safekeeping. That, or he hid it in his spare trench.

P.P.S. Right, Cas?

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.org
From: iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com

Subject: [This is an automated message – please do not reply]

Ice is forming on the tips of my wings. Tired of lying in the sunshine. Staying home to watch the rain.

Listen son, said the man with the gun. The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death. You race towards an early grave.

The lunatic is in my head. You raise the blade, you make the change. The tolling of the iron bell calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spells. There's room for you inside.
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane. Don't be afraid to care. Leave but don't leave me.

The old man died.

-Lucy =D

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: for the record, I still despise you

But, on the plus side, you’re a convenient brick wall upon which to bounce the tennis ball of my exquisite despair. American storage and rental? Really? Is the universe so vehemently opposed to the idea of my dying safe, happy and rich in bed?

I’d yell at you for having discussed these delicate matters before your entire contacts list, but actually it’s irrelevant; your inbox might as well be Zachariah’s personal gossip column. In fact – you’re reading this right now, you slimy little plutocrat, aren’t you?! Well, read away; it doesn’t make a lick of difference! The Milton family does not capitulate to blackmail. Even when being blackmailed by other Miltons. I’ll be the capybara if I damn well want to be, because you know something, Uncle Zach? I like the capybara. Anna likes the capybara. Anna would probably campaign for its rights to dignity and wealth if she could remember how to spell its name correctly for the placards. Cas likes the capybara – rather more than the capybara probably deserves. You know the only person who has a problem with the capybara, Zachariah? It’s you. You’re the problem.

I’m having the most miserable time possible, Gabriel. Oh, but of course; you didn’t know. Yesterday, I took an atrociously turbulent plane trip to Lawrence, Kansas, in lieu of a sort of pilgrimage, I suppose. I came here and it’s awful – I have no idea how Castiel stands it. This house possesses only one bathroom, and the shower drain is blocked, for chrissakes. Moreover, the food here is awful, and about seventy kinds of fried. To be fair, I expect the whole experience could have more of a chance to be idyllic if I wasn’t spending hours on end sifting through Castiel’s extensive collection of tailored trench coats for the one object that could spell my salvation, but the chances of anything on this trip agreeing with me – from the company, to the breaded burritos - are slim to none.

Oh, and as for the incomparable Dean we’ve all speculated so much about? Well, we’ve all had our doubts as to Castiel’s sexual preferences, but who would have guessed that his type was muscle-bound, pig-ignorant, and positively dreary with machismo? Apollonian he is most certainly not. More vulgarly Dionysian, by my reckoning. Oh, he has nice enough eyes, I’ll own, but the boy is unbearable; just this morning, he won half my on-hand cash in a disastrous game of forty-two card pickup. And you know I like to carry at least a handful of hundreds in case of emergencies. (A habit which I might have to curtail soon, considering A CERTAIN PERSON’S efforts to enslave me.)

Castiel himself is, ah, glowing. I mean this to a level almost literal. He seemed happy enough to see me – thus scuppering your flattering little theory that he’s too caught up in normalcy to remember to care – and offered me a sleeping bag on the floor of his room. A thin, flannely sort of sleeping bag that smelled disconcertingly of gasoline, but, well. Regardless. Against all odds, he’s inexplicably happy in this ruin of a house, with the hideous, extraverted, outdoorsy sort of people who fabricate the soccer rules as they see fit, and whose extracurriculars seem to include gambolling through meadows, and listening to Cas ramble about trees, and – from what I can gather – burning things for fun.

Well. Apparently I have to go help Cassy sweep the floor and brew some coffee. I haven’t the slightest idea how to brew coffee, Gabriel. I always assumed it to be a specialist process. This is what secretaries exist to procure. Gabriel, I would beg you to rescue me, but I have to stick it out for at least a few more days – and, knowing you, you’d be inclined to leave me stranded here anyway. Did I mention how much I hate you?

Balthazar

---

To: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov, M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: blackmail, to be frank

Hello boys.

No pleasantries, now. Wouldn’t want to make this temporary stint of communication any more painful than it needs to be. I know, I know – it still hurts. But I’ll be brief, and I’ll keep the hippie cooties to a minimum, pinky swear. The upshot is, I need your help. I even typed that without gagging, which is all the proof you need to know that I’m serious.

So you guys might remember a time back when money was a finite source? Right? Think way, way back; I’ll be your perky, red-haired spirit animal as you coast down the murky streets of memory lane. Dad used to divvy out something called “pocket money”, if you recall? Relatively meager amounts that only reached triple digits? It had a tendency to run out. Sometimes you guys wouldn’t be able to afford things.

Aaaand cut. We’re back in the present. Now, for some people, this state of affairs – the one where sometimes money is limited – never came to an end. (This isn’t confusing you, is it? I tried to keep the keywords to a minimum.) These people occasionally need things like indefinite loans from affluent relatives in order to keep things running smoothly, financially speaking.

Okay, here’s the thing. I need to buy two open return tickets to Vancouver, where they’re filming Gabriel’s TV show: one for me, and one for Jo. What’s ruinous for me is a drop in the ocean for you two, so I’m thinking it’ll be no hardship. Frankly, this is something we all ought to have done months ago anyway, if we had even an ounce of feeling to spare. It was all he ever wanted from us! For someone, anyone from the family to just come and see his stupid goddamn show. Am I the only one with enough basic reading comprehension to recognise this? Or does he need to start downloading flyers for the event directly into your skulls??

I’m too late to catch any of the live performances. But maybe I can watch some of the filming? At any rate, I can be there for him, which isn’t too much for anyone to ask. Trouble is, Gabe would never ask outright.

Again, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. But in case you needed the extra incentive… well. There are so many ways I could do this. We grew up together; there about sixty mutually exclusive threats I could opt for. But we’ll keep it simple. Michael – you know I still have contacts in three or four different animal rights groups, yes? And you do remember all the embarrassment our last little stunt caused for you and your company? I’m sure there are a few unsavory policy details you wouldn’t want leaked to the press. But even if you guys are squeaky clean, there’s always something to protest, and god knows you wouldn’t want to end up coated in paint again, right? And Raphael: pretty sure there are more than a few left-wing organizations that’d just love to get hold of this email address. I have a contact – let’s call her Charlie, for ease of reference – who, with little more than the address, would be able to hack into your personal inbox before breakfast. Comprende, cousins?

Send me a check. Or, better yet, send me the tickets! I don’t actually care if you decide to send it all in individual dollar coins, so long as it’s all there. Do this, and I swear I won’t bother you again. At least not this year.

Hope to be hearing from you soon! Then we can go back to comfortably ignoring each other’s existence. Won’t that be lovely!

Anna

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
CC: “egregiuous dickss”, menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net, borntorun@roadside.org, U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net, RMilton@onestep.gov , iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: you could call this news

Seeing as we’ve all established a stable rapport, where I send out sporadic updates, and everyone else responds with varying shades of shock, concern or apathy, I figured I’d share something with the family as a whole. The family as a whole except for Uncle Zachariah, that is, because I think most of us find him unnerving.

And also except for Uncle. That might have bothered me once.

This almost feels like coming out of the closet, if it weren’t for the fact that indiscriminate bisexuality seems to be the Milton family norm, and I know for a fact that it only shocked Raphael the first time. This probably won’t shock Raphael either, actually. The more I think about it, the more inconsequential it seems, which is probably the point. The other, original point is this: I don’t believe in God anymore.

It didn’t happen quickly. It was more of a subtle movement of which I was scarcely aware. For years, I was terrified of losing faith. I clung onto the last fragments of routine with the tips of my fingernails, and forced myself to believe with so much strength it almost hurt. Hypocrisy is surprisingly easy to subsist on. These past few months, I’ve gradually let go. Before all this, I needed God. What else did I have? A dull and dreary dogma framed for a duller, drearier identity.

But now, I don’t need God because I’ve finally found life. It feels like all of this – reality – was hiding from me all along. I’ve finally caught up with everything everyone else ever had, and it’s enough; it’s more than enough to get by on. That’s the crux of it. For the first time, life itself is enough for me.

- from Castiel

PS Balthazar is here, by the way. I’m not sure why. Note to all: if this is about to become a trend, you’ll have to start bringing your own sleeping bags.

Chapter Text

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Well, knock me down with a feather

…Or a handwritten copy of Revelation, transliterated to iambic heptameter. Both are currently being manufactured in bulk by my props department. I’m not totally sure why, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my time in the business, it’s that the only questions you can afford to ask five days before opening night are variations on “Did it hurt when you dropped out of college?” and/or “Got tequila?”

Anyway, my point is, I didn’t realise that you genuinely worked for a covert criminal organisation! I honestly believed Raphael when he told me that you’ve been holed up in an asylum in Rockford, Illinois since ’83. You are holed up in an asylum in Rockford, Illinois, right? We are just playing along with your delusions? Because I’ve been sending flyers to that hellhole since June – I literally have no idea how you’re receiving them if you aren’t there, and I’m kind of pissed that I’ve been forking out for postage regardless.

To be fair, given the contents of that briefcase, I haven’t exactly been jumping to conclusions.

With regards to Cas: kid’s acting mildly deranged right now, but hey, whatever floats his arc. I’m even willing to concede that he might still give a crap about your welfare, which, whilst constituting the second most implausible thing I learned in your last email, isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility. Though, just to check: he does remember which one of us you are, right? He doesn’t, say, think you’re Anna? Or a professional actor, hired by Rachel to initiate a slightly skewed masterplan with the intention of dragging him back to Chicago?

Don’t knock those Winchester boys. They make a decent cup of coffee and have inspired the most devout member of our incongruously pious family to turn antitheist. Either of them want an internship? It pays better than forty two card pickup, and it’s CV golddust.

Speaking of which, if you’re reading this, Zach: remember that issue I had a couple weeks back with… Sarah, I think? The one who abused commas and had a Yahoo mail account? Seeing as you were apparently privy to the whole fiasco – I don’t suppose you have any advice? I know you have a job in management, and you’re kind of a douchebag, so I figure you’re qualified to help me deal.

Anyway, Balthie, do you actually know how to work a coffeemaker? I heard you need, like, a degree or a major or something. Don’t ask me; higher education’s basically just a sausage processing plant fed on the craniums of gullible young proto-douches. I’ve heard attending college can take down your official IMDB rating by at least ten points.

Yours,

Gabe

P.S. Is capybara code for ‘insufferable assmonkey’? Called it.

P.P.S. Your face is a brick wall.

---

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: intervention

We need to talk. I wish I could let this go on, but look at what you’re turning into! First you abandoned us all, refusing even to assuage our doubts and fears with a Facebook status update. And now, you spend your time with these ‘friends’ – people who force you to work against your will, brainwashing you into believing that what you are doing is taking the necessary steps towards a normal life. If you wanted a normal life, Cas, you could have called us all and asked. We would have funded you! You’ve lost your faith in Uncle, in God, in reality itself… it’s heartbreaking. It’s like Luce all over again.

We are not egregiuous dickss. We love you. Please, Castiel, I’m begging you. I’ve bought myself plane tickets, and Raphael has sworn to call off the personal attacks of his more radical supporters for exactly one week whilst I visit. I even had my favourite personal assistant help me to purchase a tent, as I felt it showed more commitment to the cause than a sleeping bag. I swear, all the products looked alike, but she directed me to a suitable one, and I have never felt more grateful to my campaign staff than during the nightmare of an hour I was forced to spend in that department store.

See, Castiel? For the first time in three years, I bought something from a store rather than online, and did so personally as opposed to via willing intern. And I did it all for you.

I will be seeing you in three days at 13:00 exactly. Please program it into your diary.

Rachel

---

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: Re: you could call this news

We’ve all suspected for a while, but this is, nonetheless, a momentous occasion. I truly feel that you are walking in Lucifer’s footsteps, and I respect that deeply.

Still, could you please stop CC’ing the man? His autoresponder has locked onto my address, and I’m up to my designer sunglasses in Vienna Teng album covers. No, I’m not sure why. But I made the mistake of opening Luce’s attachment, and these images have infested every desktop I possess. I don’t suppose you’ve had this problem, too? At any rate, it all seems something of an inconsistency in terms of genre. I suppose that multiplicity is the aromatic plant substance of life, or however the saying goes.

Yours,

Uriel

P.S. Today I am beginning a free course in observational skiing. I have enriched my life without spending a cent.

---

To:borntorun@roadside.org
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: Re: blackmail, to be frank

Anna,

Michael and I have been very busy, of late, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. However, we read and discussed your request. The delay was, I’m afraid, automated – both of us sweep mail from your address into our spam folders on principle, and it took my secretary a preposterous length of time to realize that, in this particular instance, the contents were of import. If it makes you feel any better, she’s now been assigned to the Wisconsin office, and will no longer be in charge of my affairs.

To cut to the chase, I was personally in favor of sending you a sharply worded note advising you against any future acts of attempted blackmail, or at least to devise better threats (I can give you the ISBN of a helpful guide on request). However, Michael advised me against it, claiming that you would be less likely to establish contact in the future if we allowed you your foibles now. Appeasement is the policy of the day, apparently –it’s rather reminiscent of that old notion of bread and circuses, don’t you think? Thus, I have purchased first class tickets for you and your partner (again, at Michael’s behest). I used the usual details.

If Gabriel attempts to speak to you, feel free to slap him in the face. Family policy dictates that this does not in fact constitute bad publicity. In private, you may wish to inform him that he owes me my collectors’ edition Hot Fuzz DVD.

Yours,

Raphael

---

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: oh ye of little faith

Attached: hells_yeah.app, so_freaking_awesome.app, who_actually_runs_window$.app,

Hey, Castiel. Just dropping you a line to ask if you have ever considered starting a celebrity cult? I hear chicks dig those indoctrinated worshipper types. Or, muscular petrolheads with a vocabulary comprised entirely of profanity and an affinity for greasy all-day breakfasts dig them, seeing as that’s what you’re into.

Tell me what you think of the show! My website has a countdown until the pilot airs, but the attachments contain a deluxe version of the same app compatible with your OS[s] of choice.

Yours,

Gabe

---

To:Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Hey there, little bro

No, relax. I’m not writing to add mine to the chorus of voices all clamouring for your swift return to conformity. Hell, for what it’s worth, I think it’s awesome, what you’re doing. But you already knew that, right? God, I hope so. I guess that actually telling you might have helped in that respect. But I kept out of contact, and I can’t even remember what I was trying to prove anymore, and the upshot is I screwed up, Cas – majorly - and, for that, I am so, so sorry.

A little while back, I was harping at Gabriel for never being there to give me guidance. You know, for not being an ideal, devoted mentor throughout the course of my flower child tweens. The cheek of the man! It occurs to me, a little too late, that I might have been a tad hypocritical. Gabe may have had an excuse – he was a kid, for crying out loud, and stacked high with enough dysfunction to level Manhattan – but not me. I should have been there for you, Castiel. Back when your job was stifling you, and all those doubts were just emerging; way before they stretched you so hard that you snapped. I should have provided – some form of perspective; something at least.

But, there it is. I let you down, and if you don’t resent me for it now, in a few years’ time you certainly will. So I’m taking the opportunity to apologise ahead of time, and maybe – maybe – you can opt to forgive me early, too. I keep thinking, if I can make things right here, and if I can try to patch things up with Gabriel, perhaps I can do this independence thing the right way, for once. I hope you never thought I ran out on you. I never meant to do that. But, regardless, I ran. And some great things came out of it – hello, beautiful spouse and love of my life, looking at you here – but it’s time to stop being so goddamn scared.

I love you, little brother. And boy am I glad you’re not crazy-religious anymore. Here’s one bit of advice, belated but pro bono: don’t be afraid to ditch everything that never worked for you. Change all you like, and never look back. I’ll be right here, ready to accept whatever you are, and whoever you want to become. No exceptions.

Anna

PS Be honest now. This Dean dude. Is he cute?

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: You are a bona fide lunatic

But, much to my infinite distaste, you are also the only person capable of understanding my plight. The others are too highly strung, chronically unavailable, currently cohabitating with me, or already reading this message via some esoteric form of online spyware. If you could stifle the sarcasm for all of a second, you might even be able to dredge up some sympathy.

They made me wait tables in the diner, Gabriel. I hardly think I need to elaborate here. Suffice to say it was torture. At the end of a parched, breathless seven hours spent careening from one end of the squalid little room to the next, delivering sodium-saturated gunge to a surly, vapid clientele – you can imagine my incredulity when one of the Winchester Neanderthals (an absolute yeti of a boy, built like, well, an entire building site) tossed me a mop and a bucket…! I consulted our darling prodigal as to the appropriate course of action, and do you know what he said? That I have to “earn my keep”. Earn it, Gabriel! By dint of forced manual labour!

It gets worse. Apparently I am not the sole Milton to have gate-crashed Cassy’s little enlightenment do. No, of all people, Rachel showed up out of seeminglynowhere, clutching a lurid striped pink tent that ostensibly houses twelve and required five solid hours of construction, chattering nineteen to the dozen about an intervention. She brought a thick pad of monogrammed executive notecards, from which she proceeded to recite a pre-prepared speech detailing all of Castiel’s current misdemeanours – alphabetised for ease of reference - begging him to reconsider his life! his choices! his religion! Some of it was rather good. Say what you will about our cousin; that girl can write. Castiel wouldn’t know, seeing as he left the room a quarter of the way in and locked himself in the one and only bathroom, leaving her a little downtrodden. She delivered the rest of the speech to me. Least I could do really, seeing as she did come all the way from Chicago.

It’s evening now, and Cas hasn’t emerged since noon. Frankly, we’re all beginning to worry. Wonderboy’s been hammering at the bathroom door for the best part of the afternoon, to no avail. I am honestly concerned that we may have crushed him.

Balthazar

---

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: don’t even read this

Hey Balthie? Anna here. Having exhausted my last reserves of big sis rationality on Cas, I can’t exactly turn around and invalidate it all by exploding into panic, so I’m unleashing the excess crazy on you instead. You’re welcome. I’m just going to babble in your general e-vicinity for a little while, and all you have to do is skim through the more coherent passages and offer the textual equivalent of a smile and a nod, kay?

… What am I doing here, B? Gabe and I were never capable of giving each other what we wanted. I wanted the older brother I never got to pester, and I guess he just wanted me to shut up and be someone he could ignore – and, ultimately, neither of us could supply that. This isn’t confined to our adolescence, either. I suppose I thought that, for once, I could be there for him instead of vice versa, but what if this is just me projecting what I want onto him for the eleventy billionth time since we were kids?

Oh god, I didn’t even call beforehand. I’m about to just show up on his doorstep, suitcase in hand, with nary a preceding hint. Who even does that?

The thing is, throughout this little spate of hysterics, I’ve finally realised something. I never needed him at all. All this time, I wanted some little shred of confirmation – for the big, bad black sheep of the family to extend a loving hoof of approval – someone to tell me I didn’t fuck up, that I was right, and the rest of them were wrong. Someone to tell me I was onto something – a path, not even necessarily the right one – rather than making me feel like the world’s most monumental disappointment when I dropped out of college to go work at a tattoo parlour in Washington. Actually, no. I liked the fact that I’d disappointed Uncle, and Raph, and Mikey. That felt good. That felt right. What got to me was that there was no-one to share it. No one to laugh with me at their expense.

Did I want it? Oh god, yes. Did I need there to be? No. It never stopped being difficult, finding my own way. But I managed regardless. Without Gabe. Without anyone. I started a blog; set up my own alternative fashion store. Met Jo, and learned how to live, rather than play-act at real life. All in all, that’s got to count for something.

So yeah. I am going to just drop in, suitcase in hand, and knock on his goddamn door. Assuming security even lets me get within five miles of his vicinity, I’m going to go in there and apologise. Apologise for both of us, if that’s what it takes.

Thanks for listening, Balthie. That is, if you haven’t already deleted this.

Wish me luck.

Anna

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org

Subject: Hey. Anna. Turn around, would you?

Flight’s leaving in three quarters of an hour. We gotta start making tracks. Now get your adorable, skinny little butt off the Internet, and come here already.

- your loving, extraordinarily patient wife

---

To: RMilton@onestep.gov
CC: [import contacts list = “egregiuous dickss”], canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com, menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net, borntorun@roadside.org, U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net, iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: qualified success

After days spent chasing inspiration in the woods, with no discernible results, I was close to abandoning my novel. Now it turns out atmosphere doesn’t actually translate to wordcount. It’s grimly appropriate that seven hours spent barricaded in a humid bathroom did more for me artistically than all the beautiful, yet largely uncommunicative vegetation Kansas had to offer. This isn’t what I pictured. Still, I have my chapters – which is all that matters. Twelve of them, all toll.

I’m frightened I won’t be able to replicate the success. Afterwards, once satisfied I hadn’t ‘brained myself on the edge of the sink’, Dean helped me investigate the optimum conditions for writing. We experimented to see whether hammering at the door would increase my productivity, and if sitting in the bathtub achieved greater clarity of prose than perching on the edge. It turns out the ideal position is balanced on the towel rack with my feet against the wall, accompanied by medium background clattering. Hence, I’ve commissioned Balthazar and Rachel to bounce basketballs against the doorframe for the rest of the night.

With sufficient strength of will, I think I can reduce this to a science.

- from Castiel

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons, all and sundry”]
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: DO NOT FILE TO SPAM! Oh god, seriously, please open this message right now

He’s not here. Far as I can tell, he’s not anywhere. I got off the plane about ten hours ago. I’ve spoken with his producer, with his director – with the vast, teeming myriads of interns and PAs – and nobody knows where he’s gone. Nobody wants to call the police, but then nobody knows what the hell else to do! Apparently he showed up to the lighting rehearsal a couple of days ago, and then basically dropped off the face of the earth. We’ve checked with all of the bars within a ten mile radius, and come up with a colossal, gaping void of absolute nada.

Guys, if ever there was a time to bite back the animosity and put our mismatched heads together, it’s now. We can’t just let him disappear, too! Please. Email me if you’ve heard literally anything from him.

Anna

Chapter Text

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: Z-Milton195@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: The heavier the capybara, the greater the fall

Hello, Balthie. It’s me, your uncle. I assume that you would like to pester dear young Gabriel for a good few years longer? Perhaps whilst he is still in possession of the usual number of fingers?

My condolences.

You see, this wasn’t my or my company’s doing. I can’t snap my fingers and make this telenovella reach its logical conclusion, violins, family reunions and all. Gabe’s vanished off the face of the earth, potentially of his own volition (the parallels with his father are giving me chills, frankly – it’s just so poetic!), and I’m going to take this timely opportunity to remind you that if you don’t want Castiel, Anna and even your remaining cousins to do the same, you’ll bring me that briefcase.

Find it, Balthie. Meet me in two days at the abandoned warehouse off fifth. Feel free to come armed, but with no degree of sincerity can I promise that it will help you. As for a time – how’s ten p.m.? That’s when Blow Gabriel Blow was set to air, right? I do so love irony. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy in the vicinity of my kidneys.

Yours,
Zachariah

---
To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: R.Milton@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: don’t use my work email

Anna,

Please, in the case of family crises, use one of my pseudonym emails. My new secretary will send you a directory if needed; he’s very conscientious like that.
Having decoded the incoherent hysterics of your last email, I have ascertained that Gabriel is missing. Whilst not unduly surprised, I am mildly irritated by his lack of priorities. I have a rally soon, and this will be the first thing I’ll be asked about in every interview that I am forced to attend. Do you know how painful it will be, trying to maintain my ‘generically concerned yet possessing a good deal of faith in the abilities of this nation’s police force’ expression in front of the cameras?

Frankly, the man’s exactly as considerate now as he was when we were teenagers – again, this is largely predictable, but it does exasperate me. Do you know how many Don’t Shoot flyers have been thrust in my face over the course of this campaign? Gabriel Milton is a liability, and if disappearing for the second time is enough to rectify that, I’m all for allowing him a few months of solitary contemplation.

Finally: if you wish to contact me again, I would be happy to arrange a meeting with you – please call my office between the hours of 12:00 and 14:00 (Sundays excluded) to be provided with an extensive list of available time slots within the next sixteen to thirty two months.

Yours,
Raphael

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: R.Milton@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: Gabriel

I understand that you’ve been busy. I also understand that your company is in possession of three separate observation satellites?

---

To: R.Milton@foryourfuture.gov
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: Re:Gabriel

Absolutely.

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: our AWOL cousin

Anna,

He’s probably in Vegas. I don’t suppose any of you have tried Vegas? I’ve just finished my night class in tantric pottery – very stimulating – so I can be there by tomorrow afternoon. If you think it can help, that’s where I’ll go. I’ll stand on the street corners waving open cake tins so that the vanilla fumes waft in all directions. He’s sure to come stumbling out of some novelty chocolate shop, reeking of gin and babbling about how he met a meter maid who would have made the best intern.
You’ll see. We’ll put aside our acute dislike of each other and find Gabriel.

Yours,

Uriel

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
CC: “Miltons”
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Calm down!

I’m sorry, Anna, I would have responded sooner, but I had to put away some basketballs before I could even think to check my mail, and then I spent two hours trying to find Balthazar so that he could help me set up my tent in the Winchesters back yard. Balthazar turned out to be in Castiel’s closet, and refused to be dragged from it, but the Winchesters were very helpful. Sam told me that he couldn’t bear seeing me struggle with “pitching” by myself, and did absolutely everything for me – apparently, watching me without intervening was physically painful. Really, they’re such sweet boys, I almost forget how they’re manipulating Castiel in his fragile state.

Dear me, I’d almost forgotten about Gabriel! Are you sure that he isn’t in Las Vegas? I’m afraid that I can’t go there now, as Bobby, a lovely gentleman and a friend of Sam and Dean’s, has just offered to teach me how to use a “sawn-off” and I really must take him up on it. I assume that this is something to do with the carpentry industry? It’s all so quaint! Yesterday, he showed me the joys of hanging out clothes on a line to dry – really, there are still people outside of developing nations who do these things – so I’m awaiting this new experience with some anticipation.

Do feel free to join us here, Anna. After you’ve found Gabriel, of course.

Regards,

Rachel

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons, all and sundry”]
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Thanks, guys. No, really.

Gotta love how astonishingly helpful you’ve all been with regards to this Gabriel issue. Uriel - against all odds, I actually mean this literally. Despite your inveterate dickishness, you’ve been weirdly brilliant – and yes, doing a quick sweep of Vegas would be an excellent idea. Godspeed, you arrogant little poser. Gah. Weird.

As for the rest of you – what is it going to take for you people to realise that this family is fraying apart at the edges? How many of us have to spontaneously up and vanish before anyone admits that we might possibly have a problem? Gabriel was freakin’ ecstatic about this show. He was throwing about flyers like cheap confetti; it was the only conversational topic he could sustain to any degree of consistency! Do any of you really think he’d voluntarily skip town on the eve of the greatest day of his life? Come on. Love him or hate him, we all at least know the guy.

Whatever. With or without your help, I’m going to tear Vancouver apart before I let him disappear for good. Drop me a line if you feel like being productive.

Anna

PS Raphael? Screw your pseudonym emails.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Gabe.

Answer me, you selfish bastard. Where the hell are you?

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re: hey there, little bro

Anna, let me tell you just how deeply I

[Message unsent. Draft saved at 02:17am.]

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re: hey there, little bro

How can I respond to that? How can I be worthy of support when most days all I want is another guiding hand upon my shoulder? I don’t need approval, Anna. But I crave it nonetheless. We all do. None of us are brave enough to search for something more. I remember being very certain there was something – life – outside the family if only I could find it, but

[Message unsent. Draft saved at 02:21am.]

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re: hey there, little bro

When are we going to admit that we’re all cowed by the same notion? That, when it comes down to it, we have a single choice between being Michael and being Lucifer?
This is nothing you don’t know already

[Message unsent. Draft saved at 02:35am.]

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re: hey there, little bro

Frankly, Dean is very cute

[Message unsent. Draft saved at 02:37am.]

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re: hey there, little bro

In the end I guess I’m not that strong at all

[Message unsent. Draft saved at 02:40am.]

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re: hey there, little bro

Anna –

Thank you so much. I love you too.

- from Castiel

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: Look, I tried very hard not to ask this

Because, unfathomably enough, you still seem to believe I’m actually a businessman. For a while, it was rather nice to maintain the illusion. Still. All innocence must reach its end, etc, etc. Listen, Cas. I need that suitcase. The one Gabriel sent you.

Why? For reasons. Reasons involving the ever-spiralling probability of my imminent dismemberment and slaughter, if you want the specifics. Zachariah has me pissing myself for fear, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Even if he’s most likely reading this email right now, along with virtually everything else everyone remotely related to him has ever written. I’m actually cowering in the pantry at the moment, that’s how much he terrifies me – mostly seeing as you insisted on evicting me from your closet. Do you know how dark it gets down here when the light bulb blows, Castiel? I can tell you firsthand: the answer is tremendously fucking dark. I would appreciate it if, at some point during my life, I was be able to get out of here. For which. I need. The suitcase.

As it is, your limpid-eyed, denim-wreathed darling could do with dusting the shelves. This place is nothing short of squalid. The floors are grained and sticky. I keep hearing rustling noises, which I have no choice but to conclude must be rats. Rats, Cassy. This is intolerable. What’s more, the rustling is getting louder; there must be an entire family of the fat little buggers crouched beneath the floorboards.

Unless it’s not rats.

Oh god, I’m dead, Cas. They’ve sent an assassin. There’s someone right here, right now, concealed in the dark, eating potato chips, poised to kill.

Well, I won’t give them the satisfaction of screaming. I’ll stand up and face them; wrest away that much dignity for myself, at least. I shan’t make a sound, Cas – I’ll fight them instead. Are you getting this, Zachariah? Do you hear me, you small-minded thug?! I’ll –

- Oh god, they’re getting closer, Cas. They’ll slice me apart. Cas. Cassy. I love you – you know that, yes? I tried so very hard to keep you uninvolved; I never intended to poison your happiness with this, but our best intentions make fools of us and

[Message unsent. Draft saved at 3:16am.]

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons: idiots and arseholes included”
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: Everyone, open this email now!

Look, I, ah. Think I just found Gabriel?

Balthazar

Chapter Text

To: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: Re:Gabriel

Raphael,

GPS and Balthazar have informed us all that Gabriel is in Lawrence, Kansas. Unfortunately, business requires me to remain in my present location – pulling those satellites back into orbit is apparently not the straightforward task that I had imagined it was. I hope that you understand what this means? In terms of brotherly duty, filial piety, the obligation to prevent Gabe from making more of an ass out of himself than he already does in front of millions on a regular basis, etc.?

Phone me from the plane when you touch down. I don’t suppose I even have to tell you which flight I’ve had booked for you.

Be punctual,

Mike

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: Las Vegas

Anna,

I had wandered the smog-laden roads of this city for at least two hours by the time Balthazar felt it necessary to contact us. Strings of candy necklaces garrotted my throat; great bags of designer MnMs weighed down my wrists. I shall have to spend at least a week detoxifying myself in the waterfalls of Nebraska, despite not a single sugar crystal having passed my lips (it’s the visual exposure, you see – my skiing instructor was very clear about this). However, it will all be worthwhile.

You see, whilst searching for my wayward cousin, I discovered something about myself. I have a passion for this city. From its dusty, cochroach-riddled streets, decked in neon and trimmed in the glittering shards of fractured beer bottles, to its velvet night skies, choked with light pollution and puce as a diseased kidney, every aspect of this place is one with which I am in love. I experienced but a glimpse of the wonders of a Vegas casino, and yet, in but a moment, I lost over ten thousand dollars and gained a platinum edition membership card.

Much as I hate to admit it, I have been changed. Believe me, I am exactly as surprised as you are.

No longer will I attempt to straggle after Lucifer, stumbling in his wake and lapping up every second of attention that he deigns to foist upon me. No more will I strive to follow orders from a shady and dubiously affiliated organisation, to which I only belong by way of my tenuous connections with Uncle Zachariah and certain other enigmatic, mildly incompetent informants.

In other words, screw it. I’m out. Sorry, Anna, but I’m staying here, in the longterm. I know that you’ll miss my nominally living on the same coast as you. Nevertheless, it was set
to happen eventually.

Of course, before I relocate to my new penthouse apartment (it has two storeys and a guest room, so perhaps you can visit one day?), I’ll be flying out to Lawrence to reunite with the rest of the family – specifically Castiel, the only person I know to be capable of understanding my epiphany. Apparently, there’s a tent, so I don’t see how this will constitute much of a strain on the place’s resources.

Yours,

Uriel

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: your presence

Gabriel,

I don’t suppose you realise how much you scared all of us? Or, most of us, at any rate – Bobby and I were of the opinion that you were simply off enjoying your last moments of freedom as a relatively minor celebrity, by skydiving off the Eiffel Tower, or visiting the second largest ball of twine in the continental US, or somesuch.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that you greatly upset Anna, at the very least, and maybe some other people as well. Do come ‘out back’ (as the boys call it) so that I can lecture you. I have to do so quickly, you see, before other family members start scheduling their own appointments. I’m playing Luce’s advocate when I say this, so please refrain from taking it to heart, but utilizing this rare opportunity to yell at your infuriatingly smug face will be immensely cathartic for the vast majority of Miltons.

If it helps, I’ve also taken the opportunity to spare you a little psycological damage – by providing brownies! Mike’s old team doesn’t have much to do now that Castiel’s decided to stay here, so they baked me something to thank me for covering their tab at Turner’s, a bar just down the street from Winchesters (and far more liberal in its use of punctuation). I’m on a carbon-free diet right now, so I figured you’d appreciate the peace offering.

I may only have learnt how to hit a tin can at twenty paces yesterday, Gabriel, but I am a politician. I can only hope that you know what you’re doing.

Regards,

Rachel

P.S. Sam asks if you can maybe clear the empty ice cream tubs out of the living room, seeing as you’re the one who left them there.
P.P.S. Also, Dean says that if Doctor Sexy’s season 12 finale is on again, he wants you to tape it.

---

To: borntorun@roadside.org
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: The Prestige

Even you gotta admit, I fooled you – right, Annie? Seriously, if Balth weren’t such a paranoid little shit, I’m reasonably sure I could have stayed in that cellar until the end times. Bet you want my half of that story. You sure? Fine, whatever, I guess that I’ll have to oblige you. Maybe in a couple weeks, when this whole thing’s over with.

Just kidding! You get to hear the whole, saddening tale right now, before it gets convoluted by my brothers’ deluded ramblings, or my ex-producer’s raging tirades against my character, or whatever the hell else looks set to besmirch the Milton name. I’ll just tell the bare facts; no embellishments. No mention of the showgirl in Detroit, or even that one dude with the nosering, who drove me twelve miles down the freeway before I realised that it wasn’t a small terrier making all that noise in the backseat. I’ll come clean, Annie. You sitting comfortably? Let’s get this show on the road.

Basically, I stopped being funny.

So, having worked that out, I got my current favourite intern to stage a distraction (good thing we kept all those feathers, huh?), ditched my show and hitchhiked down to Kansas like there's no mañana! From there, I geared up my laptop at a Starbucks in Wichita, making sure to keep my face hidden behind a grande strawberry cheesecake frappuchino (extra shots almond and vanilla syrup – I usually take a straight banana, but I had to spice it up for the whole ‘incognito’ act), just in case the odd raving lunatic of a fangirl/boy/misc. saw me and decided to go enlighten the press as to my whereabouts. Google maps showed me the way to a certain small town just off Lawrence, so I used my last ten dollars to purchase a pair of rollarblades, and made it there in time for nightfall. I gotta say, though, at that point I would’ve been lost, if not for the timely intervention of a certain aging barkeep, who knew exactly the diner to which I sought directions. Apparently, the sight of a guy attempting to balance on a pair of rollerblades whilst alternating between checking his laptop and iPhone for internet connection was more than enough proof that I was “one of them crazy cultist snobs of Bobby Singer’s”.

From there, I kinda chickened out of seeing Cassie face-to-face for the first time in a quarter decade, so I picked the lock on a window near ground level and spent the night attempting to sleep on a range of mouldering vegetables and a selection of tins of preserve. For some reason, there were a couple of trenchcoats down there, too, so it was actually pretty darned comfortable. Until I got woken up by Balthie squealing, of course. The guy sounded almost exactly like you did that one time I stuck a mixture of blue food colouring and baking soda in your hair dye. How’s that for a coincidence?

Seriously, though, Anna. If there’s one thing I learned from this, it’s that the more time I spend running, the easier it gets. I’m the ex-star of an irreverent freaking Biblical comedy; I know when it’s not cool to risk a backwards glance. Ten years ago, I stormed out the house and vowed never to come back until I had experience as a deeply successful standup comedian in LA. And you know what? Best decision I ever made. And no matter how many family members decide to saunter down to Winchesters to squint down their noses and pontificate at me, I reckon this one’s even better.

Yours,

Gabe

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Gabriel?

You have to get off the couch eventually. You realise that you’re running out of ice cream?

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: Re:Gabriel

Mike,

The plane touched down a few seconds ago. The flight attendants refused to let me use my phone until we had already landed – the very cheek of it! That’s what you get for booking me a seat on a public airline, I suppose. At any rate, it’s no matter: barring extenuating circumstances, I’ll be at Winchesters before you’ve finished negotiating the pending two week sick leave that I assume you’ll be taking.

Raphael

---

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: Z-Milton195@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: [No Subject]

Tick tock, Balthie.

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org

Subject: Hey Cas

Just a heads up – Anna and I are scheduled to be in Kansas within the next six and a half hours or so. Not half bad for the cheapest, quickest one-way flights we could rustle up at short notice, eh?

… Yeah, I know. I really wish I was joking, too. But Anna’s been on the warpath since this Gabe debacle took hold, and it was all I could do to prevent her from swimming to Lawrence. Lawrence isn’t even overseas! She’d make the effort regardless.

Whatever. I need a beer. Or, failing that, functional in-laws.

Jo

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Gabe, I’m headed over to Kansas

Assuming you haven’t catapulted yourself to Maine in a giant slingshot since your last check-in, or swam to Peru with only a packet of Twizzlers for sustenance and a pocket snorkel for when the sharks converge, or eloped to Vegas with Sam Winchester –which actually wouldn’t be so bad; we’ve got Vegas pretty much covered – I’ll see you in a few hours. The fact that these are all somewhat risky assumptions is an apt illustration of exactly how bad my week has been.

Tell Cas sorry in advance. In fact, better yet, just –don’t tell Cas. I’m a little chary of the reaction. Here’s to hoping the Winchesters are as liberal and laid back as everyone else who’s invaded their house and home seem to think. Actually, aren’t there like four of us there already? That is a truly preposterous number of Miltons.

Eh. They’ll deal. They’d better. You’re not going to be there too long anyway. You’re going back to Vancouver. I’m giving you two days of bed rest, snivelling self-absorption and limitless Hershey’s – then you’re going to scrounge up whatever shred of courage you’ve got left and go turn the fuck around. For once in your life, Gabe. You’re not a little kid; snap fame and a TV contract is worth at least a second glance. It might even be worth a little risk.

Think about it. Idiot.

Anna

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: Just so we’re clear, I still despise you

And yet, I find myself writing this email regardless. Not for want of an alternative, mind. Just due to lack of resolve. I tried to confess to Castiel, and I couldn’t see it through; inexplicably, he trusts me, Gabriel, and I simply couldn’t destroy that. Consider it testament to the deep, abiding love I hold for my little brother that I’m willing to admit to the fact that I need your help, you stupid, arrogant, self-aggrandising twit.

Here’s the thing, Gabriel. Here is the sordid, disastrous, deeply uncomfortable thing. I need you to go to American Storage and Rental in order to get the damn briefcase, okay?! I’ve tried broaching the subject in person, but you make communication a constant battle. Is there really any need to persist in singing Beach Boys songs at the top of your voice every time I attempt to speak with you? Everyone tries to be patient, Gabriel, but even Rachel was beginning to tire round about the fifteenth rendition of Surfin’ USA. Personally, it irritated me from the outset, but then, I never bothered being patient.

Hence this plea, in email format. I’d go fetch the infernal baggage myself, but quite frankly I’m terrified. God only knows who they’ve got stationed there. Zachariah is out for my blood, Gabriel – in addition to other less visceral, yet nonetheless crucial things, including my job (such as it is), my welfare (such as that is) and my sanity (well). In order to salvage all, I need you to do me this one, infinitesimal favour. I know you dislike me almost as much as I you, but I’m sure you don’t dislike me enough to want me to die. You don’t have the energy for that.

Save me from this fate worse than tax accountancy, Gabriel. I wouldn’t ask if it were frivolous. Do this, and I’ll never ask for anything besides family gossip and the occasional cash loan again.

Balthazar

---

To: [import contacts list: “egregious dicks – deluxe Milton edition”]
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: impromptu stopovers

So a lot of you seem to be booking flights to Kansas. Given the steadfast, even studied apathy you’ve shown before, I’m finding this incongruous. Whilst I honestly don’t know what you expect from me, I wouldn’t care if it weren’t for the fact that we’re running out of floor space. And also tent space. And also Dean says that, whilst one freeloader is acceptable, a freeloader’s entire entourage of pet freeloaders is pushing it. In fairness, one can see his point.

I’m happily surprised at this sudden welter of concern for mine and Gabriel’s wellbeing, but the fact remains that we are running out of patience, and the bathroom is – possibly with some degree of correlation –running out of shampoo. There must be somewhere else that you can stay. Dean suggests the local zoo. I’m disinclined to argue.

I realise the gradual undermining of any and all agency I’ve managed to collect for myself isn’t a pressing concern for most of you, but I figured I’d step in before the entire extended Milton family shows up at my doorstep. Anna, obviously you’re welcome to visit, we’re happy to have you here, but I draw the line at Zachariah. I think that most of you will agree this is a fair place to draw it.

On the off-chance that any of you skimmed past the first paragraph of this email: the novel’s going well. In fact, it’s finished. I honestly don’t understand why Uncle was so tortured over this – writing is easy. All you need are the requisite tools, basic literacy, and a strong disinclination to leave your room. That, and roughly seventy decibels of indeterminate background noise, intermittently applied over intervals of approximately eighty two seconds. Some of Dean’s old Metallica cassettes make for an appropriate substitute.

Anyway. I’m leaving to help make dinner for nine. (Gabriel doesn’t count because he is currently surviving on pop tarts and ice cream sandwiches. Not that actually he likes pop tarts, but we’ve run out of red vines, and so apparently sacrifices had to be made.)

- from Castiel

---

To: switchbladegirl@roadside.org
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: the living room door

… Is currently slammed shut. And has been so for the past twenty minutes. How is it that he manages to be about twice as elusive when we’re sleeping under the same roof, rather than quietly ignoring each other at opposite ends of the country?

Well, anyway. If you can shed any light on why the entrance to his makeshift grotto of woe is quite so insistently sealed, I’d be grateful.

Incidentally, nice to see you here. Hope the flight wasn’t too awful. We must get a drink together sometime.

Balthazar

---

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org
CC: [import contacts list = “less annoying Miltons”]

Subject: Yeah, about that

Okay, so here’s what happened.

Anna and I arrive about mid-afternoon. Soon as she gets through the door, she throws both our overnight bags at Raphael and makes a beeline for the living room, where Gabe is sprawled over the couch like it’s an antique chaise-longue. She walks sort of stiffly towards him, hesitates in the entrance, and says - exactly how she rehearsed for about an hour and a half at the airport - “Hey Gabriel. How’s things?” All gentle, blinking and Bambi-eyed.

He turns round. Looks a little ruffled, for all of about a second. Then he shrugs, smiles and says: “Oh hi there, Annie. Get me a glass of water, would you? Turns out singing all day is absolute murder on the throat.” And turns back towards the TV.

Anna doesn’t say a thing, but her face goes dark. She nods. Then she heads into the kitchen without a word. Few minutes later she’s back – and, lo and behold, she’s carrying a mug of water. She steps quietly over to him till she’s standing in front of the TV, and he looks a little put out, like she’s blocking his view. She gives this tight, thin-lipped smile.

Then she dashes the water straight in his face.

He – well. He doesn’t move for about five seconds. Then, slowly, he spits out some of the water, looking really, really unimpressed.

After that, all hell breaks loose.

Seriously. They just both started screaming at each other, all at once. I ran for it. Few minutes after I evacuated to the kitchen, I heard the door slam.

It’s been twenty minutes, Balth. I don’t think they’re coming out of there. Like – potentially ever.

… How about that drink? How about several?

Jo

Chapter Text

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.org
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: Join me

Cas,

I still have several bags full of MnMs, and I’m disinclined to lavish them on our cousin, given how difficult it’s been to refresh my dogmatic energy with a light nap when my designated sleeping area is opposite his couch. I had to get out, Cas, to commune with the sky. I’m on the roof. Care to join me? I can just see the neighbours’ cat and, in the absence of my newfound spiritual home, I don’t see why something’s life shouldn’t prove as joyless as my own, whilst simultaneously providing a much-needed alternative form of entertainment to the ridiculous chores foisted upon me, rifle practise and/or daytime television.

Uriel

P.S. I’m afraid that the showdown of the ages is still regrettably audible, even up here. Aren’t there laws against noise pollution in backwater rural communities? To keep the place scenic, or to prevent disturbing the public peace, or cattle, or some such?

P.P.S. What’s your favourite quote so far? Mine is ‘your face is changing the subject using theomatic puns!’ I think I may start a line of t-shirts.

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: RMilton@onestep.gov

Subject: the quality of mercy is not strained

Cas,

You won’t understand – how could you? – but we mustn’t leave. Please, if only for Gabriel. You have to realise, I’ve found more here than I ever could have dreamed, from a talent for playing the ukulele to the joys of drinking juice straight from the carton to the ability to fold clothes, and Castiel, how would you feel if I asked you to leave Winchesters now? If I told you to forsake your book, the only meaningful work you’ve ever experienced creating – or indeed, will create again? To abandon Sam and Dean, the first friends you’ve ever really had who share less than 25% of your genetic material? Not, of course, that they’re doing anything but manipulating you in your fragile state – I still stand by that judgement – but nonetheless, you take my point.

I’ve thought this through, and spoken to Bobby, and he would like me to stay at Winchesters for at least the rest of the week. He was less certain about the rest of our family, but it isn’t like we’re pushed for space – the only ones staying here just now are you, me, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Balthazar, Anna and Jo – so I “talked him round”, as he always says. And besides, I’ve been running my campaign remotely, via professional body double, for some time now, and the press don’t seem to have cottoned on just yet.
Thus, I’m asking, truly asking: would you restock the bathroom? We’re out of hair care products, and Balthazar’s becoming insufferable. He’s twitching, muttering – it all looks rather unhealthy, though he did snarl something decidedly more lucid than usual when Uriel offered to teach him to bring his core chakras into equilibrium. Personally, I plan on “soldiering on”, if only to prove to one Bobby Singer that I am capable!

Much obliged,

Rachel

P.S. We should really consider inviting my current doppelganger out to dinner some time. She’s coping admirably in my absence, and I know it’s hard on her. Moreover, she and I share a certain fondness for a charming little Italian place in New York, so I just know that we’ll get along, and I can always tell anyone who sees the two of us together that we’re identical twins. Did you know, she’s even friends with Raphael’s own double? The two of them are very sweet together – oh, Castiel! We should invite them both out at once and try our collective hands at amateur matchmaking. Just think of how sweet they’d look if I dressed them up in matching outfits in time for my next charity ball!

P.P.S. It’s something of a non sequiter, but- could it be that-… Cas, can you hear yelling? Me either. I think they’ve stopped!

P.P.P.S. My mistake. They’ve reached a sort of mutual, temporary ceasefire. Anna’s just come into the kitchen looking for throat lozenges, and she says Gabriel’s catching up with Raphael. Also to tell you that we’re out of toilet paper.

P.P.P.P.S. That woman is fierce. She just downed two-thirds of a pint of free range cranberry juice and five cherry Soothers in one gulp, before continuing to mutter angrily (and none too quietly) about abandonment complexes and ‘idiotic sticky up-y hair that looks just as pointedly smug and eminently punchable as his face’.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Oh, dear. That cranberry juice was meant to be diluted.
---
To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: the sun’ll come out!

Balthie,

Anna’s a doll, isn’t she? Beautiful, quick-witted, always willing to tie dye for the team – dang, if the girl wasn’t my cousin... Truly, I have no idea how I could possibly have ignored her like the plague, back in the day, or done that thing with the lard and her toothpaste and the hydrochloric acid, or told the friends she made on the first day attending the same school as me that she was given to our family as part of a social experiment regarding the ability of genetically engineered bonobos to replicate human behaviour (bonobos are the ones that continuously have sex, BTW).

You know, on reflection, it strikes me that anyone who fell for that was probably not worthy of our little Annabel’s attentions.

That aside, I’m telling ya, I’ve got no idea how I missed it. Evidently, I’ve been wrong all along. Anna’s not a sturgeon-faced, mouth breathing assclown any more than you are! Okay, poor example – than Cas is! Obviously, her views aren’t the steaming pile of bullcrap that they appear; her Platonic ideal of this family is totally legit; Dad’s a swell guy and would’ve given us all the love and attention we’d always whinged for, wrapped up in a shiny satin bow, if only we’d thought to ask! Gosh, I wonder why we never did? What an oversight on our parts!

Balthie, I’m the one who’s got things wrong. As ever, joke’s on me. Guess it’s time to clean up my act, hit the road, get my ass back to Vancouver and live life exactly the way I’m meant to want to. After all, I have a loving family at my back, always ready to look out for me, never liable to kick me out the one safe space I’ve been able to locate without the use of a world atlas.

Want some evidence? Mikey! I mean, his continued absence totally isn’t down to his complete inability to care about anything but himself and his immaculately tailored suits, just as Raphael’s little display of brotherly love was utterly genuine, and nothing at all to do with the nine other people in the house just waiting to rail at him about the dangers of apathy. Self-serving bastards with no concept of decency? You must be joking!

Getting back to, you know, reality, let’s have a little recap of the situation. I mean, of my motives. See, no one really gets this at all. First time I left home? I couldn’t stand the constant and interminable arguments between the two dickheads I call my older brothers. And, the family solution to a rerun of this situation is to initiate more constant and interminable arguments? That you people genuinely wonder why I never bothered to maintain contact with you shows frightening levels of obliviousness. You know, I actually considered ditching the Milton name for a very long time – well, a couple nights – but it just gelled so neatly with a lot of the themes my act had going. Seems such loyalty was pretty thoroughly misplaced.

But, I’d almost forgotten, you have problems, too. Isn’t that just sweet: you’re in on the family business, Balthazar! Being royally screwed up; fearing for your life every other Tuesday! What, you want us to hold a coming of age ceremony? Present you with a ritual edition of Busty Asian Beauties and do the ceremonial polka round an open campfire? I could give a crap – deal!

For now? I got approximately two seconds before a pissed off redhead is on my back again – not in the good way – and frankasdgfhjbkjh;gbgvfc kokytg,

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: R.Milton@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: your family’s incompetency

Brother, you are needed here. You read my earliest texts, correct? The coherent ones? They only tell half the story, Michael: the half involving awkward embraces and sibling affection, typed over Gabriel’s slumped shoulders, complete with undignified, unsolicited bouts of hand to hand combat when he realised that I was talking to you (he won, barely, and the results are what darkened your inbox between 10:15 and 10:22). The other half is ten separate sets of sheets to be washed, and not a single operational drycleaners at which to do so. See, these places won’t accept cheques, and you always told me never to use a card anywhere the carpets don’t match the curtains.

I don’t understand your excuses for continuing with your work. Frankly, they astound me. Haven’t you always put family first?

Well, you’re missing the most involved parts of family life. That is to say, those concerning our screaming brother, whose face is currently a shade of red that I’ve never witnessed outside chloropleth maps of my state's more recent elections. He’s gesticulating wildly with half a poptart, scattering crumbs in all directions, and it simply isn’t attractive. Apparently, our favourite cousin just threw his favourite iPhone out a window into what I assume to be the Winchesters favourite rhododendron.

Yours,
Raphael

P.S. A large, jam-drenched crumb just hit Anna on the nose. She’s one shade lighter than Gabriel in terms of incandescent fury, and just- well, Jo grabbed her wrist before she could slap him, but I suppose I should go help restrain the both of them.

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.org
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: Join me?

Cas,

Do hurry up. I’m almost out of MnMs, and the cat proved disappointingly elusive. I’m onto squirrels, but the damned things seem amazingly adept at dodging even the most precisely aimed candy shells, most likely due to experience avoiding rifle fire.

There was a truly amazing noise from the living room, just now. I don’t suppose you know the cause? To me, it sounded something like ‘Get the everloving fuck off my baby, you sanctimonious little-‘ followed by a small explosion and a high-pitched ‘ding’ of success.

I’ve no idea, either. But, now the shouting’s commenced once more, and the insults are growing increasingly convoluted. Isn’t it a joy to listen to? Does wonders for one’s chi. Perhaps I should record this soothing and melodious interaction and play it every night to ease myself to sleep? Honestly, Cas, I hope they stop soon. Even the Winchesters now bear distinctly pained expressions – I can see them from where they’re huddled in Rachel’s tent. She’s grinning at them to a rather alarming degree whilst offering them plates of what appear to be small brown bricks. The Dean boy has taken three; Sam looks a little green and has made the universal gesture for ‘but I just ate lunch; maybe later!’; Bobby appears to be concentrating on staring at his shoes too hard to refuse the offer and, despite Sam’s subtle suggestions that he ought to do otherwise, has taken a similar number to Dean.

Oh, and now he’s coughing. Just another layer of noise to add to the increasing din!

You’ll forgive me, Cas: I love our extended clan as well as you do; my patience simply wears a little thin from time to time. But I’ll do anything and everything that I can in order to help with the present predicament. I’m sure it’s just a matter of publishing your book, reconciling Gabriel and Anna, running Gabriel across the country within two days, yanking Michael’s head out of his ass long distance, and all staying coordinated long enough to find Uncle. Nothing is unattainable – if Vegas taught me anything, it’s that.

Uriel

P.S. Ah- Castiel? Not to bother you, but I think one of my MnMs just hit something shiny and plastic and half-hidden by a bush, so I’m just going to go down and investigate. I shouldn’t be long – I’ll meet you back up here.

---

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: espionage

Balthazar,

We don’t have long. I just wrestled this phone from one of their agents. Suffice it to say, I read the contents of Gabriel’s inbox out of curiosity, and I’m willing to help a man in need if it means derailing the best-laid plans of that odious little worm, Zachariah. Uriel is scowling at me from across the driveway, but I’m sure that he understands that I only want what is best for my brother’s health, which so happens to coincide with what is best for your health. And also, your kneecaps.
I believe that it is ‘time to pick a side’.

Yours,

Raphael

P.S. If you must know, I’m bored. My body double has proved all too efficient at running my own campaign. I may have to have him arrested for impersonation if he gets too attached to his role.

Chapter Text

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: rollingnakedinmoney@talbotpublishingagency.org

Subject: your “manuscript”

Dear Mr Milton,

As an agency, we are of course prepared to forgive minor typographical faux pas from our applicants. Font styles that are slightly less than kosher; miniscule fluctuations in margin alignment – anything similarly innocuous. However. The fact remains that your three hundred page submission - though, admittedly, quite conscientiously numbered and stapled - was written primarily in smudged charcoal pencil, scrawled over monogrammed notepaper headed ‘Rachel Milton: Change You Can Invest In’.

I’m not willing to read this, Castiel. I’m not sure if a crack forensics team would be willing to read this. In fact, seeing as I suspect that not only have you failed to read it since you composed the first draft, but that the manuscript we received was the sole existing copy, I’m posting it back to you.

Do feel free to contact us again once you have learned how to use a word processor.

Sincerely,

Bela Talbot
Talbot Publishing Agency

---

To: RMilton@onestep.gov
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Re: the quality of mercy

Do what you like. I don’t care. In the past, I put a lot of effort into preserving my right to not care in a location far away from all the people I’ve decided not to care about, but apparently this is impractical. That’s okay. I can deal with that. It’s probably more efficient that I can just sit here quietly in my room, not caring about things at a close, convenient range. I can even bring myself to not care about your midnight ukulele recitals, if it makes you happy.

Tell Sam and Dean I’ve decided to investigate the effects of isolation on the artistic temperament. Actually – tell them that I’m in a stage of advanced hibernation. Or, frankly, tell them anything. Be creative if you want. Don’t expect me down for dinner.

- from Castiel

PS I’m going to assume that the shrieking from downstairs is just Anna and Gabriel hashing out their unresolved issues, and not a group of burglars prone to loud monologue. Email me if I’m wrong.

PPS I’m also assuming the loud, cataclysmic crash of a few seconds ago has a similar provenance. Again, contact me if we’re actually experiencing a bomb scare.

---

To: RMilton@onestep.gov
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: That unbelievable cretin

So, kids, what have we learned from today? Abridged version: Gabriel can’t tell the difference between the real world and the stage! And also - his improvisation skills? Pretty overrated, to be frank.

So he’s busy weeping over the ‘assassination’ of his iPhone – and I swear, Rachel, that man’s affection for a cheap little box of circuitry is more than triple the amount he holds for his entire family. Which is pretty much what I tell him, paraphrased. For some reason he simply flips at that. As if the fact that he couldn’t give a crap about us was supposed to be some kind of state secret. Nice subterfuge, Gabe! Convincing! Urgh. But no. He actually dares to look affronted -! Then, in some kind of impotent gesture of thwarted theatricality, he slams his fist against the table. Which, among other things, results in – freaking surprise! – a sore fist. But then, that’s Gabe for you: a tactical savant if there ever was one. A bona fide forward thinker! I mean, let’s just look at where his previous little spates of inspiration have led him, hmm? Voluntarily unemployed? Crashing on his cousin’s boyfriend’s couch, filling his face with saturated crap till his blood sugar level is 70% ice cream? Fucking genius.

Anyway: fist slams; overhead bookshelf falls – apparently Balthie nailed it secure a couple days ago? – and all of a sudden it looks like Sam Winchester (who had just come through to poison us with a plate of those godawful home-baked brownies) might need medical attention. Because – well. Bookshelf to the brain. He seems okay, considering. I mean, Dean’s harried attempts at playing Dr. Sexy with an undersized Ace bandage aside.

Long story short, we elected to take a time out while Mooseman over here regains motor control. Gabriel had the barefaced cheek to wink at me, and say he’d be upstairs; he’d use Raph’s phone to text me in the event of a change of plans, seeing as I’m so hopelessly devoted to scoping out his location and soliciting him with unwanted career advice.

‘Hopelessly devoted’? Where the hell does he even get this stuff from? Is this about that time when I was seven, and I went around telling everyone I was going to marry my cousin Gabe once I was sixteen and grown up? Because – allow me to reiterate – I was freakin’ seven. And Balthazar said the same thing about Cas! Granted, Balthazar was fourteen at the time. Which, in retrospect, was a little disturbing. But that only serves to highlight the relative normalcy of my weird-ass childhood matrimonial delusions. I’m telling you, Rachel - the guy’s virtually incoherent right now. At this point, he’s just flinging unsubstantiated accusations about at random.

Which ought to come as a surprise to a grand total of no-one. Simply because, when it comes down to it, he’s pissed that we won’t let him self-destruct unimpeded.

Actually, you know what? Screw it. I’m going to head upstairs and tell him exactly that. Collateral damage be damned.

Anna

---

To: canyousayawesome@donshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: could we please try to keep the subject titles less blatantly incriminating??

I’m up to my crumpled Armani V-neck in compromising written evidence as is, you inconsiderate dolt. You realise that Zachariah is monitoring every email sent to and from this account, yes? Clearly not!

Whatever. Immaterial, actually. Were this address the triple-encrypted online equivalent of a military bunker, the substance of this message would be largely unaltered. The answer is go screw yourself, Raphael. The answer was always go screw yourself. I may be doomed to an eternity incognito, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sell my soul in addition to my physical safety. Furthermore, whilst Gabriel may be unable to distinguish between one covert criminal organisation and another, some of us have standards. Your little political cult has reached truly dizzying heights of illegality, and the fact that even I am unwilling to besmirch my name by association says all that needs to be said.

You can sacrifice my dignity on the gore-spattered altar of financial misery in order to appease the sadistic gods I could never, ever seem to satisfy. You can force me to wash dishes, and wait tables, and use a towel rack – as if anyone uses a towel twice - but do you know what you can never sacrifice? The fragile, desiccated husk of my integrity. Yes, that’s right, Raphael. You and your repugnant little dealings are too distasteful for even the family outlaw to risk entanglement in them. In the recent, anatomically dubious words of my darling sister: ‘you can take your oily, meretricious bluster and shove it up your ass so far that your own hypocrisy gives you acid reflux’. I’m picking a side, all right. And it’s the same as it’s always been: my own.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, etc. God, I’m tired.

Balthazar

PS No, she actually did say that. Wasn’t the worst of it, either. At this point, scatological invitations to plunder one’s own orifices are considered tame. I suppose it’s simply the logical conclusion of a lifetime’s worth of guilty neglect and shoddily-repressed sexual tension, no?

---

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: surroundedbyidiots@houndsofhell.org

Subject: Your application

Castiel,

Thanks a lot for sending us the first draft of your novel ‘On the Head of a Pin’. Not sure how to scrape together a summary that does it justice - but ‘trite, ponderous, shabbily written, and oddly fixated with plant life’ captures the gist. Yeah. Even considering the relative brainlessness of today’s reading public, it’s beyond me what kind of vacuous tool would call this entertainment. Personally, I’d call it closer to having my skull slowly ground into flakes by a faulty kitchen blender.

We can work with this.

The whole ‘rich white guy ditches the city; finds greater purpose in life lolling around meadows’ spiel played itself out sometime back in the Iron Age, assuming that whimsical schlock was ever appreciated. And sadly, the odd subtextual Biblical resonance isn’t enough to fool people into thinking it’s highbrow. Believe me, we’ve tried. Still, I like the gay romance plot, Cas. Breath of fresh air, that. Got to ask, though: these ‘Charles’ and ‘Dirk’ guys – what are they, celibate? It’s all meaningful looks and lingering bloody glances; you’ve got the style, mate, but no substance to back it up with. Do you seriously expect us to believe they’re doing nothing but stare at each other for hours on end? Look, you know the one thing that’s guaranteed to get people queuing up to digest this drivel? Smut. Throw in a few sex scenes in the golden barley fields, then we’ll talk marketing.

Editorial note mark two: can it with the anti-materialist tripe, would you? This isn’t The Ragged Trousered Fucking Philanthropists – no-one wants to read a book telling them to chuck away their iPad and embrace the splendour of the wilderness. Frankly, it’s just goddamn depressing. I’m not telling you to slice away at all those lovingly rendered tangents about birds and insects – just take all the feckless leftie garbage about abandoning possessions and tone it down a little, okay? Or, better yet, dispense with it. Word of advice, Castiel: no-one likes a dull, sanctimonious little shit.

So yeah. Couple of minor adjustments needed, then we can talk business.

We’ll be in touch.

Fergus Crowley
Hounds of Hell Publishing Agency

---

To: RMilton@onestep.gov
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: mercy, etc.

Rachel, I’m sorry. I realise now that sequestering myself from the rest of the household in a fit of pique wasn’t the rational or mature thing to do. I mean, overall, it was pretty rude. I’ll see you downstairs for dinner?

- from Castiel

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons: the all-inclusive edition”]
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org

Subject: Battle Royale 2012

Hey. Hey guys. Listen up a sec.

You hear that?

Silence.

I know, I know. It’s most likely nothing. We’ve had a few hit-and-miss moments over the past six and a half hours. Bathroom breaks, paracetamol stops… at one point, I thought they’d finally made amends, but when I peered round the door, they were just pausing to restock on Oreos and tweet furiously about the latest strand of the fight. But this time? Well, the silence seems decidedly non-fraught this time round. I haven’t heard a single passive-aggressive door slamming in at least an hour. Or, for that matter, a single instance of passive-aggressive biscuit crunching.

Guys, I’m heading in there to see what’s going on. This may be hazardous. Tell my mom I love her, and I’m really sorry about the thing with the katana and the Barry Manilow tapes in seventh grade. Wish me ‘godspeed’, or whatever it is you people are always saying.

Jo

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons: the all-inclusive edition”]
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org

Subject: reconnaissance

Hey people.

Okay, for starters, I’m not sorry; the katana thing was totally worth it. Secondly – guys. It’s over. They’re hugging it out. Gabriel is quite literally sobbing into Anna’s shoulder, getting copious amounts of snot all over her macramé poncho, and Anna’s not looking so stoic herself – in fact, I think she is legitimately sniffling; it is completely adorable. I’d be taking pictures right now, but I’m honestly scared of ruining the moment. Because this is most certainly A Moment.

I think the epic scrap of the century is finally finished. No casualties, either! Unless you count Sam. And Gabriel’s iPhone. Eh, that’s the price of war.

Who’s up for dinner?

Jo

---

To: [import contacts list = “boring, entitled little assmonkeys”]
From: iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com

Subject: Goooood morning, Lucy-groupies!

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering – how the hell did I get Internet back here? Oh Luce, you implore, in your shrill, childish falsettos: how did you, in the shadowed wilderness of New York City, manage to regain contact with the outside world? Well, little hypothetical children, it wasn’t easy. Still, I, Lucifer, have managed to borrow my good pal Nick’s wireless router for the time being, for the express purpose of talking to you. And by ‘good pal’ and ‘borrow’, I mean ‘acquaintance’ and ‘steal without permission, as such’. And by ‘acquaintance’ and ‘steal’, what I guess I actually mean is ‘virtual stranger I once chatted to in a bar about post-postdeconstructionist theory’, and ‘broke into his living room via the toilet window’. But yeah. Details.

No, seriously, don’t sweat it; guy’s batshit bonkers anyway. Though weirdly conscientious about window reinforcement. Seriously, I think I’ve still got shards of glass stuck behind my ear. Like, literally stuck there. Is that something you should get checked?

Whatever, so the upshot is that New York sucks now, and I’m bored. I’m ready to move onto bigger, better things. I want back home. Rachel, doll, thanks for sending the tickets to Kansas, Kansas being where all the cool kids hang now, apparently. Weird. Anyway, I owe you several. Next stop, dilapidated old shack in the middle of Lawrence! Wahoo!

Okay, gtg, hearing suspicious shifting noises from upstairs. Be seeing you soon, my little candy pumpkins! Masterpiece is going great, btw. Can’t wait to give you guys the full-blown performance! Everything is going to be spectacular.

Lucy =D

Chapter Text

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: recent events

Michael

When I last emailed you, Gabriel had wandered up into mine, Uriel and Sam’s room, and was raving about ‘the most inspiring HBO miniseries in the past two decades’, something that he always does when panicked or inebriated. I informed you that I suspected the former, but would not be entirely surprised by the latter, and settled down to wait.

As anticipated, Anna soon entered. She slammed the door open in a manner that was probably supposed to show her steadfast determination and mild outrage. She succeeded, which backfired somewhat. After all, you know the sort of jokes that Gabriel makes to diffuse tension. Suffice it to say that he made one, a pun too terrible for me to feel entirely comfortable typing it, even to you.

She frowned at him in a manner not entirely dissimilar to a very angry pitbull, came to stand directly in front of him by the bed, yanked him to his feet, and said, “I get it! I really, finally do!” She then fell silent for half a beat, during which Gabriel opened his mouth. Fortunately, she realised this, and intensified the frown. It had the desired effect. “You think that none of us could possibly understand you, because you’re so trapped in your personal little bubble of denial and self-loathing. But I know exactly what you’re doing. Abandoning the show; running away from all your achievements – you’re so scared of it all imploding later that you’re trying to self-destruct now, and you can’t handle the thought that we might try to stop you.”

I paraphrase, most likely. But I have the whole spiel down reasonably accurately, because I took notes on my wrist in shorthand. I may forward a copy to my speech writing team: there was a certain air of sincerity that I’d rather like to imitate.

As usual, Gabriel took it upon himself to ruin the moment.

“Wait, princess, hold on whilst I get caught up. So, the little game we’re playing now, we’re pretending that you care about my show? About my life?”

Now, I’m sure that you’ll agree that our brother’s egocentric fixation on dragging his show kicking and drooling into every conversation is nigh pathological. Nonetheless, we all know how tactless it is to openly acknowledge our indifference to it, and there’s been a tacit agreement in the Winchesters household never to do so. So, there was a long pause after Gabriel’s outburst, during which Anna was clearly trying to restrain herself from slapping him in the face (frankly, I don’t see why she bothered – I’ve told her before that it’s not considered bad publicity for the family, though her concern for our careers was charming). This was curtailed when Gabriel’s face crumpled. Quite honestly, there’s no better word to describe it. I assume that you remember forcing me through that abysmal educational video at our last family gathering? Two years ago, that is. You became exceedingly drunk, having realised fifteen minutes prior to the party’s start that I was the only guest who had RSVPed. At any rate, the footage showed your company’s humble roots quarrying for limestone, and half an hour in there was a clip of the land collapsing in on itself as the workers detonated minor explosives beneath it.

I don’t suppose that you need me to elaborate.

You see, contrary to all expectations, it turns out that Anna was never really lying when she blathered about her feelings every other email. It would all have been very sweet, if it wasn’t so misguided. She looked him straight in the watering eyeballs and said, “Gabe, I flew out to Vancouver to go see you film your show. You left a few hours before I arrived.” She then muttered, “which is probably a metaphor for our entire relationship”, but that seems far too uncharitable an observation with which to mar the family record.

The effect was remarkable. Gabriel’s jaw looked like it was about to drop off, which would have left a decidedly unappealing tangle of viscera and cartilage on the rug (this would have been no major loss); at any rate, it seems that the cliché holds true in reality, disturbingly enough. It all looked very painful, which may explain why he was oblivious to the trail of spittle hanging off his lower lip – rather fortunate, in hindsight. After some preamble, during which the sound of Sam Winchester’s pained groans were audible from the kitchen and the distant strums of duelling ukuleles provided a fine counterpoint to the impassioned – if silent – staring competition that occurred between our brother and our third least favourite cousin, the entire affair ended in a fine example of what Rachel would later deem a ‘Milton Family Moment’ over dinner. Gabriel enveloped Anna in his arms with every ounce of strength his diminutive frame possesses, and they spent the next half hour sobbing and recounting the most traumatic moments of their shared childhoods. The entire time, they were firmly latched onto each other – I suspect that a crowbar couldn’t have parted them.

I don’t suppose they remembered that I was in the room. Or, for that matter, that Gabriel was still holding my phone. From the noises it was making, he’d managed to accidentally speed dial my contacts in the Chinese pharmaceutical industry. Whoever invented touch screens should be summarily fired. Literally.

After the initial period of weeping (and the occasional bout of uncontrollable snickers – Gabriel, of course, having been responsible for the vast majority of Anna’s aforementioned traumatic memories) Rachel brought them both some more brownies. Gabriel seems to be the only one in the entire house save Bobby Singer who comes close to being capable of digesting the damned things, which is unfathomable to me, given the latter’s seemingly normative levels of sanity, and the former’s dedication to ‘genuine chocolate, from, y’know, trees, and stuff’. But, I digress. The point is, we acted like a family. Even Balthazar managed to donate a pair of trench coats to the cause (I’m not sure why) (I presume it was because, by then, we had run out of tissues).

You may be wondering why I chose to recount the course of events so faithfully. Surely, this particular escapade of Gabriel’s is unworthy of such diligent coverage? He’s done worse, after all, and I doubt you pay very much attention to the trifles experienced by members of the minor branches of the family.

But you see, Michael, I think that might be the point.

Because, the entirety of the Milton clan – by which I mean, the body of individuals who can, within reason, claim the right to be referred to as such, barring hopeless cases – are here. And, in the exceptionally unlikely event that it has slipped your notice, Dad isn’t. And neither are you.

Even Lucifer has come to Kansas – or at least, he will do so presently. I can’t pretend that I’m looking forward to it. In fact, I think that it is possibly the most cataclysmically dire occurrence that I have ever had the misfortune not to look forward to. Nonetheless, the brothers I love and care for are within my immediate vicinity, for the first time since I purchased that lovely Swiss chateau (the one with the fountains in the courtyard; not the walk-in fireplace). And I must say, whilst it’s not shaping up to be enjoyable, exactly, it hasn’t been at all unpleasant now that Rachel’s taken it upon herself to learn how to wash the sheets (that, and the art of carpentry, and – Dean informs me – arson). Moreover, it’s necessary. Perhaps we have drifted a little too far from each other. And now we are rectifying the matter.

Oddly, the process is running rather smoothly without you present.

Regards,

Raphael

---

To: T-800@foryourfuture.gov; resistanceisfutile@retromail.org; in-a-tree@retromail.org; hugsforall@teamfreelove.org
From: rmilton@onestep.gov
Subject: Hello, all!

I must thank every one of you individually when I can, but it has to be a group email for now (save for Uncle Zachariah; he’s rather delicate about these things, so I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings). You see, I’m terribly busy – I often feel I’m the only one in this house with any passion for daily chores! The past few days have been hard on all of us, but we must bear it, and even if you can’t be here, you’ve done an awful lot for us just by sending all your kind gifts.

The fruit basket was beautiful, Inias – Bobby’s never tried guavas, so we’re really looking forward to making Special Singer Salad Surprise with them tonight. And Hester, the lilies match the curtains in the kitchen perfectly – how did you know the exact shade of white to purchase? Oh, and before I forget, how are you doing in Australia? I’ve heard your grassroots political movement is faring very well, which is always nice to hear – I think it’s wonderful that one family can have so many connections in governments worldwide! Frankly, though, I’ve neglected to mention the perfect gift: I think that we can all agree that Cupid’s relationship therapy books were a stunning display of thoughtfulness. So topical! Not to sell any of the rest of us short, but really, from a couples councilor, would we expect anything less? I’m sure A Mutual Guide To Self Help is just the thing that Anna needs right now, so I’ve tucked it under her pillow as a surprise for tomorrow morning! I’ve kept When Codependence Kills for bedtime reading, and PDA Saves the Day is for Luce, when he gets here.

Speaking of which, don’t you think it will be so exciting to have him home after so long? He phoned me just twenty minutes ago, and apparently, he’s on a bus. He’s not sure which one. Having given him a sample, he was very complimentary about my ukulele skills, and put me on speakerphone so the nice old lady in the seat next to him could hear me. Together, they even approached the bus driver, but he was rather less enthusiastic about the entire thing and threatened to double their fare if I continued playing. I must admit that it was a touch demoralizing. That aside, apparently what Bobby and I really need is an accompanying barbershop quartet, so dear Lucifer has agreed to entreat his brothers to help us put on a show! Oh, I’ll never understand how he could have abandoned civilization so readily. Still, apparently Bohemia was calling to him in the most pitiable of ways, and he simply couldn’t leave it hanging.

Dear me, with all that excitement, I’d almost forgotten about Virgil’s gift. I’m not sure what we’ll do with those rifles, as they’re not a model I’m used to firing – but I’m ever so grateful for them, as is Dean. He told me that we’re going out in search of Bambi’s mother later tonight.

But I must go – I’m typing at the dinner table, and I think it’s about time to do the dishes. Sam’s challenged me to a game of rock-paper-scissors over who gets to dry, and everyone’s taking bets on the loser.

Yours in haste,

Rachel

P.S. If you were worried about Gabriel and Anna: they’re sat next to each other, and as per usual, Gabriel is making jokes at Anna’s expense – nigh-constantly, in fact. It’s all very cringe inducing. Every time he lodges his foot in his mouth, he looks positively terrified, and immediately falls silent, and Anna has to give him a little nudge to show that she forgives him before he carries on talking. I don’t suppose any of us are very good at apologizing to each other, but those two really “take the cake”.
P.P.S. I just won! Sam always picks rock – he’s very predictable. Balthazar probably shouldn’t have wagered so much on the off chance that I played scissors. I didn’t know that bank notes came in thousands.

---

To: Z-Milton195@americanstorageandrental.net
From: Rmilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Thank you!

Uncle Zach,

Thank you for the card! Even if it seemed mostly to be intended for Balthazar, judging by the montage on the front. Really, I’ve no idea where you dug up his old high school photos from – I’m in awe of the effort that must have taken! – but the black crosses through each image were rather perplexing. I certainly don’t remember them in the originals.

I can’t say I wasn’t mystified by the message, either. “Twenty six hours, thirteen minutes and fifty two seconds”? What on earth does that mean? Raphael seemed to understand it – he kept chuckling – but as to the rest of us, we couldn’t even venture a guess. Still, it was a lovely thought, because Balthazar’s been looking a little peaky lately. I don’t suppose it was a preemptive ‘get well soon’ card?

Well, I put it by his toothbrush next to the sink (there’s no room on the mantle, you understand, what with all the flowers and the fruit and Sam’s medical supplies), so I’m sure he’ll see it. Thanks again, Uncle.

Yours,

Rachel

---

To:iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: we need to talk

Luce,

In all likelihood, the moment you saw my name in your inbox, you deleted this message. Perhaps it will have been sent to your spam folder automatically, and already your autoresponder will be saturating my hard drive with indie pop references via highly inventive trojans that my antivirus has every intention of annihilating.

However, naïve as I may sound, I’m open to considering the possibility that you are reading this.

In which case, Luce, I really don’t know what to say. How can I? All those years ago, I drove you from our home, sought to disown you from the family and destroyed every piece of sheet music you left back in our shared bedroom. As I stared into the ashes of those blazing Hans Zimmer anthologies, I felt nothing at all. I had hardened my heart, intent on eradicating every aspect of my identity that I could not understand. I wanted to prune the Milton line, to make a convoluted and untidy family tree something simple and easily comprehended. I would be the dutiful older brother, Dad would love us all, Raphael would be suitably appreciative of my efforts in raising him, and Gabriel would become an unutterably successful entrepreneur in some generic industry or other – I forget which I had picked out for him.

Of course, as the full score of Sweeney Todd (complete with staging instructions and original cast photos) crumpled and died, I had the first inkling of the truth. I suppressed the thought; I would not even consider it. However, denial can rarely be anything but short-lived, and it is now that I have come to realize what I already knew: life, as it turns out, rarely takes the simplest path.

Funny how things turns out, because it seems that you are still the favored brother. Raphael’s allegiances have turned, and Gabriel’s are sure to follow. They love you, Luce. They always have. I’m fairly sure they always considered me a particularly persistent nanny.

The irony being that, if I had any choice in the matter, I would be with them in Kansas. I would follow them all in a heartbeat. I would even bring a fruit basket. Unfortunately, I cannot.

The reason being that Dad has contacted me.

It was via webcam, but he concealed all the details of his location by wearing a very floppy sombrero and only allowing a green screen to show behind him. I would say that that significantly narrowed down the list of potential locations, but the man could probably procure a green screen in Antarctica, if he asked a willing fan to provide one. He kept the conversation brief, but wanted me to set his affairs in order. Apparently, if I were to reveal the act of his contacting me to any of you, he would immediately dissolve our arrangement. And, if I were to return to the US – where I might, potentially, expose him to any one of you in person – the results would be much the same.

Thus, I am stuck in South-East Asia, and my family despise me. I believe Castiel would refer to this as a tragedy. I always did dislike theatre.

But, this is not why I am writing to you. The reason I am writing to you is that I – of all people – I-

My apologies. This is difficult to say.

Allow me to build up to it.

Lucifer, I know that we fought. I know that, as children, I never appreciated your efforts to seek out my attention, and instead buried my head in the sand (or, in books on the chemical composition of sand) and feigned a sort of blank disdain for your every action. As we grew, we grew closer, but even then I had reservations. Despite the talks we had, sitting for hours on end in the pitch black of our room and whispering over Gabe’s snores, I could not bare my soul to you. Even the one time you helped Raph with his music homework, and I told you that I thought that you would probably either doom society or enlighten it with your genius, I was largely joking. When we were struggling to raise three extra children after Uncle ‘Tron’s death, then I began to consider confiding in you.

But Dad pitted us against each other. That’s what he always does. So I never told you my doubts, and instead crushed them in the cold fist of willful ignorance.

I am a dutiful son. I try to be; I have to be. Who else can?

Nevertheless, I’m losing faith.

Regardless of Dad’s orders, I’m emailing you. Because, against all odds, I think that – and this is only a possibility, Luce, you must not, cannot hold me to this, brother – perhaps I don’t care anymore. Dad can cut off contact with me, as permanently as he wishes. Maybe it’s time to live without him constantly looking over my shoulder. Maybe it’s time to be there for my brothers, in more than name.

I’ll be damned if Gabriel doesn’t make it to that infernal show in time. My personal jet shall arrive in Kansas at six tomorrow morning.

Yours,

Michael :)

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org
From: iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com

Re: we need to talk

tl;dr! lol

Luce ^_^

Chapter Text

To: [import contacts list = “boring, entitled little assmonkeys”] [Excluding contact = M.Milton@chonaeoil.org]
From: iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com

Subject: Heya, kiddiewinkles!

Have to say, weird sort of reception you guys organised. First off, the door to the house was locked – bizarre, right? – but no problem; the walls were covered in this gnarled kind of clinging ivy, which made it pretty easy to scale the building. I flew up that thing like it was practically a stepladder. You know, after I fell and skinned my knee a couple of times, but hey – learning curve! Seriously. This place was a laughably easy break-in. I ended up dropping down into the attic – also, cleanest attic ever, you people are (say it with me now) weeeeird – and made a bit of a ruckus, I guess. Suddenly, in bursts this guy, brandishing – I kid you not – a freaking rifle! It was like, yeah. Sure, dude. You wave that peashooter. Now could someone please get me some goddamn food? Last thing I ate was the edge of the shiny little lyrics booklet in the cover of my Vampire Weekend CD, and lemme tell ya, people – nutritious, that ain’t. Incidentally, life lesson of the week: never ingest staples! Turns out they do some kind of obscure internal damage, or some shit. Who knew?

Whatever, so, the tall, doe-eyed dude keeps making antisocial noises about calling the police, and I’m sort of stunned into submission – like, I’m so hungry, things are actually starting to fuzz at the edges, and I’m being assaulted by a friggin’ Ken doll in blue jeans, and overall things aren’t looking so peachy for your old pal Luce. So I figured, you know what? To hell with it. I’ll fall back on the standard line of defence: seduce my way to safety. Oh yeah. So I muster up a knockout grin, and sort of sidle my way towards him – “how you doin’, Mr. Psychotic Rifle Man?” – and he sort of blinks, all gormless offence and overlong eyelashes – also he’s got a bandage type-thing taped to his scalp, which sort of compounds the general goofiness, and basically, I figure it ain’t gonna be too difficult to Houdini my way outta here. Can always just crack him over the skull, if pressed. And he barks out something to the tune of “what the hell are you trying to do?”, which seems ever so fractionally hypocritical, frankly – it’s not like I was expecting an armed militia upon arrival, my little Lucipadres! – and anyway, that’s when Balthazar falls out of the rafters and crashes into the floorboards.

Apparently he’d been sleeping up there? Yeah, I don’t even know.

So it turns out – ha! – the gun-wielding guy? Thought I was some kind of intruder. I know, right? Oh god, it just slays me even thinking about it. What a mix-up! But good old Balth-o set everything straight, after dusting himself down and fixing us with that squinty ruffled-pigeon look of his, and GI Joe over there started looking mucho uncomfortable after learning that I was the one, the only Luce Milton, and basically everything was pretty much hysterical. I’m typing out this message one-handed on one of Castiel’s spare iPhones – no seriously, they’re sort of all resting on random surfaces, dude’s got about fifteen of the things – whilst eating a bunch of saltwater taffy I found up in the attic cupboard. Dated 1896! I am literally chewing on antiques here, people. Kansas is so cool. Screw New York. New York is for losers and dickwads. Kansas is the shit.

Hey, so out of freakin’ interest, where the cartwheeling crap is everyone? Was seriously sort of expecting some kind of welcome parade, and all I’m hearing at the moment is this thin, tinkly music from outside, and what sounds like a low-level row going on upstairs. Otherwise: radio silence! I was expecting something grand, my little mini-muffins! Kansas being the shit, and all. And this being the first time I’ve been in the same state as any of you people since essentially FOREVER. C’mon, how long’s it even actually been? Like, a year or something. Two years. Three? No, definitely two. Eh, numbers.

Okay, signing off now – Balthie just burst in here screaming something about malicious bathroom espionage and ineffectual scare tactics, and – underhanded toothbrush molestation? And now he’s, like, smothering himself with a couch cushion? Don’t ask me; dude’s honestly jumpy as fuck atm. Should probably go and rescue him, though – he’s turning kinda blue.

Lucy =D

PS Btw, heads up, Michael’s flying in from Honolulu or Timbuktu or somewhere. That or he’s an amateur tragedian/covert operative now; wasn’t too distinct on the details, tbh. Don’t really care, either? Whole lotta bleh-di-bleh about blah, all toll. But yeah. That’s definitely happening.

---

To: impala67@winchestersdiner.net
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Please open the door

Dean, how long do you expect me to wait outside in the hallway until we can discuss this with some measure of restraint? I’m prepared to wait all night, but the situation seems a little unfairly weighted seeing as I do sleep here too. If nothing else, you’ll have to let Balthazar in eventually, assuming he hasn’t taken up permanent residence in the front wardrobe. Or the basement pantry. Or the attic rafters. I think we can at least both agree that it would be better if he chose the safety of his sleeping bag above the rafters, if only for the sake of the house’s structural integrity. Or, failing that, the sake of the family of owls I discovered up there in the antique cabinet last Tuesday. Think of it as an extra incentive to open this door. If not for me, then for Balthazar and the owls.

Dean, what are you even doing in there. Are you sleeping? That seems very cowardly, and also rhetorically unconvincing. You can’t just sleep through an argument and expect me to pay rapt attention to your snores. Would it kill you to allow me to explain? After you read that email, you wouldn’t let me say a word – you just squared your jaw and proselytized for a full thirty seven minutes, and that wasn’t convincing either. You’re insensate to your own prejudice, Dean. Why shouldn’t I publish where I get the chance?

I worked for this. I worked till it became my sole existence. I brought my book to life with all you taught me, and it isn’t just epiphany in a vacuum – I want to share this. I did it for you, for Sam, for Bobby – and, yes, of course for myself; of course for the Milton name. And now because my editor wants to edit, you’re saying I sold out. I know that Crowley doesn’t care about my principles, or, frankly, anything that won’t increase his sales – but that’s why I’m not giving him any more control than I can spare. I can handle this, Dean. I’m not naïve. I know what kind of reputation Hounds of Hell possesses. The fact remains that this is my only chance to see my book in print.

This is not your call to make. It’s mine. And I’m making it, regardless of whether or not you’ve decided to punish me for my success.

But please let me in so we can talk?

- from Castiel

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: You may want to take a look at this

So, uh, hey Gabe. Remember how yesterday, we were at each other’s respective throats, hurling polysyllabic obscenities every which way, dredging up ancient disputes at a rate of knots, etc. – basically, remember how that was a thing that happened? At great length, volume and intensity? I’m fairly sure everyone else remembers, so you might want to ask them to catch you up on the details if not. (See? I just made a joke about it. A fairly crappy joke, but still, this means we are legitimately okay.)

So anyway, given all that, I don’t think I can be fairly held accountable for this. You know, considering. In fact, I think you ought to find this at least a little hilarious. I mean, I do, but that’s probably another matter. Basically, I hold no responsibility for my actions; it’s all just a queasy blur of paracetamol, undiluted squash syrup and regret. Having said that, I do vaguely recall having dialled up a FluffyCloudsCorp during a particularly heated spate of blinding passive-aggression? Aggressive-aggression? I’m actually stuck as to how to categorise this one.

What I’m saying is, there’s now a giant hot air balloon floating over the sunny dales of Lawrence, with a long streamer attached - boldly emblazoned with the proud rubric: Gabe Milton is a dick. No, really. It’s funny, because I actually remember having given them a far longer message to relay – I spent at least seven minutes making sure they had it all down, and spoke to two separate employees on the subject of their obscenity policy – but I think they got the gist of it. It’s just sort of, well, circling now. To the bemusement of many a hapless local, one can only imagine.

I wouldn’t have mentioned it if it weren’t for the fact that tumblr’s gone spare. Everyone loves it! They think it’s some kind of pre-show stunt. You know, because they’re still somewhat erroneously assuming that there’s going to end up being a show. (Guess no-one thought to tell them otherwise?) I even ended up posting the pictures on my blog - because what the hell, cat’s already out of the disturbingly skyborn bag - and my readers love it too.

Okay, forget contrition, this is brilliant and you’ve got to see it. It’s been about ten minutes, and already there are gifs out there. So many gifs, Gabe! Jesus freakin’ Christ, you’re famous. And I just made you more so. You know, I’d be feeling pretty stupid right now if I were actually still mad at you. Get your ass down here and check it out; you’re missing all the fun.

Anna :P

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org

Subject: Hello there Gabriel

First off: no, this is not an invitation to a threesome.

I say this pre-emptively because you ask me the same thing literally every freaking time I contact you. The answer is still, surprisingly, that I prefer to keep my personal life monogamous and sleezeball-free. Though, as always, I’m both highly flattered and intensely disturbed by your persistence.

No, consider this to be more of a (pre-emptive) warning. Like, a friendly reminder, ahead of time, to say that although you and Anna might be happily giggling over a shared laptop screen, bonding over random Internet trivia right now, there are still… complications. To be dealt with. And although you’ve been nothing but a self-entitled prick and a blight on my marriage since day one, I still feel I owe it to you to be frank where no-one else will.

Here’s the thing, Gabriel. This little mass Milton family meltdown has been like… well, like Beauty and the Beast, I guess. No, work with me here. It all fits, I swear. You see, this entire household has been transformed by the actions of a single selfish douche: where once we might have had normal, functioning human beings, leading ordinary, productive lives – now, we’ve got slabs of walking furniture and squawking neurotics careening about the house at his beck and call. Because the selfish douche made a bad decision, and so now the rest of us are clustered round him like assorted animate tables, chairs and crockery. Furthermore, he’s managed to kidnap a beautiful maiden, and is currently forcing her to empathise with his whiny delusions. A beautiful maiden who, in fact, abandoned her quaint little rural hometown in Washington D.C. in order to help him – help which he summarily scorned by wasting time teaching her how to skate and distracting her with things like massive anthropomorphic banquets and the promise of personal libraries.

The selfish douche is you, in case you hadn’t gathered.

But you can lift the spell, Gabriel. You can decide to go back to Vancouver and – hey presto! – the candlesticks turn back to people. The gibbering maniacs stop cowering in piles of outdoor jackets and go back to doing unspecified business-type stuff on the sly. Belle returns to her ordinary life selling alternative clothing and being awesome on the Internet. Everybody wins. Even you! It’s pure Disney. There’ll be sparkles and flowers, and rainbows in the sky. The singing wardrobe will jump out of the window for sheer joy.

Which is one part of the film that always bugged me, actually. I mean, it made no goddamn sense whatsoever. She just tossed herself out the window, straight into a cheering crowd of furniture. Was it, like, some kind of extended dying performance? She finally helps hook up a village girl with the resident furry, so she seals that moment of triumph in a glorious gesture of spontaneous suicide? The fuck, Disney?!

Anyway. You’ve got – what, one day to change your mind? I’d hurry up and change it, if I were you.

Jo

---

To: canyousayawesome@donshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: To reiterate

I’d like to make it prodigiously clear – pellucid, if you will – that I still don’t need your help, Raphael. I mean, in case my previous refusal chimed dissonant with a single note of ambiguity, I’d like to state, formally and for the record, that the denial was total. Absolute. Unconditional and all-encompassing, without a scrap of discrepancy or regret. This is not an issue on which I am prepared to compromise. Understand?

Good. I’m glad we’ve hashed this out thoroughly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go incinerate the entire contents of my washbag and toothbrush kit.

Balthazar

PS And if you think I’m going to tell Castiel, you’re criminally dense. In case that was something that you thought. I would never sully him with anything so distasteful – I’d die first.

Chapter Text

To: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov
From: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org

Subject: Re:recent events

Raphael-

As you may have noticed, I am currently in the living room, having driven to Winchesters from my hotel in Lawrence. I didn’t bring a fruit basket, but I think the peace offering still stands. I’m here, regardless of what Dad wants. To be honest, I think his general desire for us all to remain on speaking terms with each other (and to be hugely successful) outweighs the short term problem of locating him. Don’t you agree?

Actually, I’ve made an effort to be rather loyal to my brothers. For one thing, I just expended the considerable amount of energy and sanity necessary to maintain a conversation with Gabriel. Or at least, I tried. When I arrived, he and Anna were – for want of a better term – snuggling on the couch with a laptop balanced precariously on their knees, laughing so hard that both were in tears. Needless to say, the moment they saw me, they stopped. It was almost amusing; you could hear the record needle scratch (that’s not intended as a metaphor: what exactly is going on in the back yard?). Anna got that tightlipped, serene expression on her face that belies untold rage. Gabe was facing in the wrong direction for me to see him, but when he turned around, he was grinning. It was not a pleasant grin – more than a little disconcerting, actually. He extricated himself from Anna, slammed the laptop shut (she made a strangled noise, so I suppose it wasn’t one of his) and leapt to his feet. He took two steps, bringing us nose to nose – or, nose to jaw, Gabriel being somewhat vertically challenged – and said, still grinning:

“Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you’re never coming round.”

I realized exactly what was going on. Numerous members of the family have reported this behavior.

So I said, “Would it hurt you to at least maintain the pretense of having a mentality fit for an adult, Gabriel?”

(At this point, Anna left. I’m sure she would have stayed under any other circumstances, but she looked to be preoccupied with examining the damage to her laptop screen. Also, there was yelling upstairs – understandable, given the proportion of Miltons to outsiders living up there – and evidently she deemed that confrontation more immediately pressing than our own.)

To which he replied, “Every now and then I get a little bit tired listening to the sound of my tears.”

And, as I attempted to formulate a response that would shut down this bizarre method of avoidance, whilst communicating my utter contempt for his immaturity, another voice chimed in:

“Turn around!”

I thought Gabe had hired a backing singer, for a moment. It was, in fact, far worse.

It was Luce.

Let me take a moment to thank you for informing me of this development, Raphael. Thank you for letting me know that Gabriel and Lucifer set aside their differences in favor of serenading each other. They proceeded to sing the entire power ballad, complete with harmonies during the verses and air guitar over the instrumental. It ended with the two of them stood back to back, arms dramatically raised to the Heavens, listening to the fading piano backing from Gabriel’s iTunes account. No, I’m not sure when he got his spare phone out. Possibly during the bridge.

Once silence had fallen, Gabriel turned back to me and said “You know, sometimes I really think I got the short end of the stick, given the kind of brothers I ended up with. Probably should have realized who was there for me from the start. And who wasn’t.” Then, he left. Presumably to go find Anna.

Luce looked rather miffed. I don’t blame him.

That left the two of us alone.

Which, of course, is not a situation I would wish on anyone. So I left, too. We didn’t say a single word to each other. Honestly, I have no idea why we’re allowing our failure of a disowned ex-brother in the house. Can someone call the local police? Or the ASPCA?

Yours,
Mike

P.S. Come to think of it, I see no reason not to inform you of all of this face to face. It’s not as though I could run into any more people I’ve sworn never to speak to again.
P.P.S. My mistake. I just passed Uriel on the stairs.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: you are going to die in the most gruesome manner in existence

I’m not in a good mood, Raphster. You may have noticed, being as I’m using a nickname for you that I swore off of fifteen years ago. I mean, last time I said it, you turned the air indigo with profanity, tackled me to the ground, got me in a headlock and ruffled my hair until I had to spend three hours and sixty dollars worth of product returning it to its unreasonably attractive natural state.

Seriously, I learned my lesson. I don’t call you ‘Raphster’ lightly.

I’m making an exception today, because I was just forced to deal with both of my older brothers. What exactly do they think gives them the right? Those patronizing assholes spent most of their childhoods ignoring and/or excluding and/or demeaning me and every decision I ever made; decided that their petty little marital spats were suitable grounds for tearing apart the goddamned family; and when I finally earned my freedom, finally got away from all the crazed religious fanaticism, and the pretension, and the entitlement? Guess what! I got disowned, all but legally! And now, due to another decision that was completely my own to make, they’ve arbitrarily decided between them to come back and do the whole ‘concerned siblings’ song and dance, all over again! Yeah, well, I memorized that particular routine years ago, and I can see where it’s going now. Which is, by the way, swirling down the U-bend. That’s all people ever do, you know? Make you think they care – hell, make themselves think it, too! – then screw you over. Again and again and a-freaking-gain, until you learn to arrest the whole repetitive process by running as far away as you know how. If you’re lucky, they take a couple decades to decide to follow.

Whoever came up with the notion of ‘nuclear family’ was one accomplished sadist. Cousins for the win. At least Anna isn’t trying to get me back to Vancouver. I’m cutting those ties. The hell was I thinking, trying my hand at a TV show? It’s all routine, the lot of it – I’m telling you, commitment is for suckers who haven’t yet accepted the inevitability of betrayal and humiliation. You think that fanbase wouldn’t get bored of me, eventually? That I wouldn’t get bored?

They’re all in love with someone who doesn’t give a crap about them, and frankly, it’s pretty damned amusing. It’s a metaphor for my life, pervading the internet like nuclear fallout over Jericho.

But, all that’s completely irrelevant. What is relevant, is that you have my phone. And access to my email. And you’ve been using it for mailing Balthie with what is pretty much just incomprehensibility on stilts. American Storage and Rental? Isn’t that the firm that Zach works for?

That aside, I’m sending you this off my spare phone, Raphster. It’s a 3.6. It’s practically ancient. Give me back my non-dodgy internet access and 45 megapixel camera, please. The thing you stole? It’s a prototype straight from Apple laboratories and is actually worth more than you are, not gonna lie. If I don’t key in a very specific code into a very specific application at exactly the right time each day, it explodes.

Now, be nice and compliant and get your ass into the kitchen so that I can rant at you in person.

Yours,
Gabe

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: This is all very enlightening, but go talk to Mike. You’re the reason he’s here, Gabriel.

My correspondence with Balthazar is none of your concern.

You do understand that you don’t exist in a vacuum? Your actions tend to affect people. You always were the most self-centered of all of us, but do take a moment to set that aside and try something inconceivable – say, communication. With our brothers, perhaps? You realize that you haven’t spoken to them in person in upwards of five years (singing and insult slinging notwithstanding), and yet you persist in believing that we abandoned you? Pettiness aside, make it quick; I have a campaign to return to. My body double just wrote me to tell me that he’s thinking of eloping with some mysterious blonde woman, so the sooner I can get back to my constituency, the better.

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Are you on their side, now?

I think I’m just going to ignore that second paragraph. Here’s me, being mature. Bet you’re proud.

Also, I wouldn’t be so sure about Balthie. See, I think I can help. I was scouring the mail – the meatspace variant – and I found something. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m still incognito. But we’re getting a metric ton of letters to various political campaigns, because everyone’s having them forwarded over here in their absence. It’s comedy gold, Raph. Seriously. Your supporters are nuts.

Anyways, I found something. I ignored it at the time, but I think it can help. And, I mean, if I can contribute to this whole subterfuge rival mafia showdown thing, why shouldn’t I? I’m trying to rekindle my relationships with the extended family – or at least, the bits of it that make amusing noises when I infuriate them. And also Zachariah is a bastard who can go die in a fire. You know what I found on my pillow? A vial of cyanide labeled “the gentleman’s way out”. I mean, seriously. How sexist is that? The guy’s a throwback, I gotta say. And how does he even get these things into the house? It’d be awesome if it weren’t so douchey.

So, the thing I found: a letter. Addressed to Cas, to be precise, so I kind of had to open it and see just who it was who would contact someone like him. I mean, no offense to the kid, but he’s kind of a shut in. Don’t worry; I steamed it properly, just the way Luce taught me, and sealed it back up real neat. I should be on, like, CSI, or something. When I first read it, I thought it was kind of anticlimactic – just a note from American Storage and Rental, telling Cas that they’d received his package and were holding it in box 508 – but in hindsight (and with access to my outbox), it makes sense. Zach doesn’t realize that they’re holding the uber-illegal briefcase at his company’s Lawrence branch. Crazy, right? I think I’ve seen at least one made-for-TV political drama exactly like this.

So, what are we waiting for? I’m gonna go tell Balthie, and then we’ll initiate Mission Implausible before it’s too late.

Yours,
Gabe

P.S. Have you seen Annie?

---

To: cas@winchestersdiner.org
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: exasperation

I don’t suppose the entire family will decide to live here with us? And, whilst they’re at it, steal my shampoo? (Come to think of it, I genuinely don’t suppose they will, given that would require Uncle’s presence.)

But that’s not what I’m emailing you about, Castiel. Actually, I wanted to tentatively ask whether you ever plan on leaving the bathroom.

I wouldn’t press, but I do have rather a vested interest. Not to be crude.

Adding to the discomfort is the yelling emanating from the bedroom across from me. Not mine – I’m sharing a single camping bed with Balthazar and Gabriel, currently set up in the pantry. No, I think it’s one of the Winchesters. Maybe Bobby’s? I’ll transcribe the argument I’m hearing, if it helps – I can almost make out the words; perhaps that will allow you to identify the speaker. I’d rather avoid any more unfortunate faux passes than are absolutely necessary: last night I called Dean ‘Sam’ (or was it Sam whom I called ‘Dean’?) and found myself on the receiving end an infuriated rant about the other brother’s many failings, including terrible breath, unreasonable hair and sexual inadequacy.

It all seemed rather Freudian.

That aside – I’ve missed some already – here’s the conversation:

“I told you! Not like this – not after everything I’ve had thrown at me!”

“You’d really give up like that? On life? On love?”

That second voice was female. This is all rather strange.

“No, Rachel, just because- I ain’t… How can I make any commitments to you, when I’m…”

“When you’re what? You’re a coward! You make promises with no intention of keeping them. Then you have the gall to feel guilty about the entirety of it and still pretend that you’re emotionally numb!”

I must say, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I don’t think I’ve heard Rachel so angry since she was twelve and we learned what ‘free market’ meant. I’m still not entirely sure why she reacted the way she did.

“Don’t say that- Rach-“

“Don’t you ‘Rach’ me! You’re a coward, Bobby Singer! You think that because of everything you’ve been through, you can give up now? That there’s a limit on how much you’ll struggle before it’s all just too much, and- and-“

“Rachel. Don’t cry. I don’t want-“

“No, Bobby. If all that matters to you is the past, th- then, I s- s- suppose that’s all you’ll get.” A valiant sniff from both parties. “I’ll go.”

“And why the hell would I want that?”

“You… mean to say?”

“You’re right, Rachel. I’ve been more oblivious than both my boys put together. You were always right there in front of me, and all I could do was look on back.”

“Oh, Bobby.”

I think. Castiel. I think

[Message unsent. Draft saved at 6:02 a.m.]

---

To: [Import contacts list = “Everyone!!”]
From: Rmilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Surprise!

Dearest Miltons et al,

So, it’s planned for June, right in time for Gabriel’s finale – if that will still be happening, of course. And, I’ll contact all our more obscure cousins long in advance, just so that they can attend. The color scheme is white and green, by the way, and we were thinking orange blossom for the decorations? The smell would be lovely.

I don’t suppose Gabriel would do the honor of walking me down the aisle? I would generally ask Castiel, only I wanted to be equal opportunities, and he did do it last time. And besides, this is all about second chances. My fiancé – fiancé! – was the one who mentioned that, when he gave me the ring. Isn’t that sweet?

As to presents, I don’t mean to offend, but we’ve already agreed to a no blenders policy.

Yours,
Rachel

P.S. Oh, I’m so sorry it slipped my mind: the subject of this email! Bobby and I are getting married!
P.P.S. I suppose I’ll change my name. I’d usually be against it, but, as is, the voters do get awfully confused. The ballot paper will look so much less repetitive this election!

Chapter Text

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com

Subject: Balthoooooooo

Balthasaur. Balth-o, my man! What are you, bed-ridden? Haven’t seen you in, like, a morning. You missed the most awkward celebratory family breakfast this side of the galaxy, though – I seriously think there were about three separate bitter feuds going on at once, which isn’t even a Milton record, but kinda sours the pancakes a little, ya know? Cas and that Dirk guy (Dan? Dean? Dumbo?) were staring at each other over the fried bread in very, very constipated longing – and then, Cas eventually sticks his courage to the screwing place and asks Dim to pass him the macerated quince like he’s announcing the heat death of the universe, or that The Clash just broke up. Whereupon Dirk-Dim-Dumbo growls, really intently, meeting his eyes like they’re magnetised: “Yeah, Cas. Okay. I’ll pass you the masticated quince.” Total silence across the table, as if everyone really is waiting for the heat death of the universe. And then he just. Passes him the quince. Never breaking eye contact.

Cas takes the quince.

Then Dim asks him to pass the maple syrup, with the same kind of ultra-nonsensical intensity, and then they both just look at each other again, and you know what? I’m getting sick of describing this, Balth. Suffice to say that Cas passed the syrup. And that they continued to ask each other to pass things for about a whole freaking hour. It was a goddamn war zone.

Meanwhile, blonde little Mrs Anna Milton over on the left kept giving Gabe the evilest of evil eyes I’ve ever seen from a girl who looks like Barbie Queen of Pixieland. It was like, suddenly she’d morphed into Professional Assassin Barbie instead, complete with a bunch of little plastic knives and garrotting wire. I’m serious, Balthabeep my little applepumpkin. She looked as if she actually wanted to garrotte him. Course, Gabe was too busy chuntering away to Anna to pay any attention to the eye-daggers Princess Psycho Fairy was shooting his way – not that little Annie seemed to be listening much, anyway. She had this weird sort of glazed look the whole time – like, totally riveted by the wall, eating her pancakes dry; I think at one point she started skewering forkfuls of her paper napkin instead - although with Rachel’s cooking, who the hell even knows the difference. I don’t think Gabe actually noticed. He just kept on talking, probably because practically every other member of the family was throwing him a museum’s worth of dirty looks ranging from the vaguely perturbed to the all-out homicidal. Your illustrious correspondent included! (Gabe’s a total dick who sucks monkey balls, ask anyone.) What else could he do but plough through it all with babble, eh?

Meanwhile, Rachel was actually, literally glowing. Like, not LITERALLY literally, but - literally – you know? As in, practically luminescent with hyper, wholesome happiness. She and Bob the Bearded spent most of breakfast feeding each other flakes of crystalized mango topping, and gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, and all that saccharine jazz. Gruesome, lemme tell ya. Occasionally she’d sort of glance away from her newly minted fiancé-of-the-rainbows in order to dart a poisonous look at Raph, but you could tell it was basically just perfunctory – and he didn’t seem to give a damn, he was too busy tapping away at his iPhone. Course, practically everyone had their phones out – I mean, it was breakfast - but the Raphster seemed particularly absorbed by his. Couldn’t say why. Always was a weird one, I guess. Too cold and calm by half. No-one that cold and calm can be trustworthy.

As for me? Well, I’m a laid back, lackadaisical sort of guy, Balthimabob. No sullen glances or awkward silences for this suave fellow, that’s for sure! Basically, I spent most of breakfast blowing kisses at Sammy the rifle fanatic, which is honestly so much fun it oughta be illegal – because the way that kid cringes? I swear to god, it’s like a bowl of puppies drowning in a lake of glitter, whipped cream and unicorn tears: a-freaking-dorable.

Oh, and then there was Michael, I guess, but who even cares about little ol’ Mikey? Pretty sure that would be a resounding nobody. I mean, it’s not as if he’s actually doing anything here – or that anyone actually wants him to be anywhere but squirreled away in his own little corporate closet. Remind me why everyone’s actually tolerating him again? There’s like, no logical incentive. Can we just maybe send him back? Back to his little cardboard box existence? He’d like that. Not that anyone here cares what he’d like, but you get the picture, Balthimus.

Gah, I’m bored. And also hungry. Really frickin’ hungry. Didn’t get to eat much of anything at breakfast, being too distracted by everyone’s bizarre passive-aggressive antics. Hey, do you reckon there’s anything edible on the roof? I’m gonna go check out the roof.

Lucy =D

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: This mortal coil, and my imminent departure from thereabouts

Raphael? Gabriel? Read closely, and I’ll never bother you again. Aside from a longstanding, deep-seated intuition that something about our mutual childhoods was horribly skewed, and the lingering suspicion that it was Lucifer who flayed Rachel’s Furbie doll that one Christmas Eve, I think there is only one thing that we all know for sure. To wit: I’m a wanted man. Even if Gabriel hadn’t just blithely forced our sole remaining trump card through an industrial strength wood-shredder by mentioning the briefcase’s location in email – thereby informing Zachariah – we had no hope from the outset. He’s won; the fact is, he won before this was ever a competition. I hope you all appreciate just how monumentally fucked I am. You bastards.

Well, in case you were harbouring any illusions – don’t. I’m halfway to the gallows already, and I’m not about to forfeit my pride by faltering as I mount the tumbril. No - instead I’m going to run as fast as I can, taking as much as I can carry, and pray that they let me live a little before I drown. Or sputter, I suppose, as they force me to swallow detergent, and brain me with my own ribcage. In light of this, you can probably see why, until the time comes, I’m planning on wallowing in wine, women and song – or, rather, choking myself on thirty year old Craig, willing participants of all genders, and my own agonised wailing.

Of all places, I find myself missing Oxford, where animosity was kept intelligent, quasi-perpetual inebriation was a pastime rather than a coping mechanism, and bitter professional feuds were at least localised. Perhaps I ought to have stayed there, with a modest Classics professorship and an entire Atlantic ocean barring me from the trivial wrangling of our over-teeming clan. Pity I never even stayed for a Masters. As is, I suppose that’s one place I can never go back to – they’ll only find me sooner. Not that I’m getting maudlin.

Goodbye, boys. It’s been truly horrific. Let’s never do this again.

Balthazar

---

To: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: Open this email right now, Raphael

- And then delete it immediately. Purge it from your records. I can’t risk letting any of this get back to the putrefied scrap of maggot shit we so euphemistically call uncle. My laughable little suicide broadcast ought to keep him pacified for now, but we have to be clever about this. I’d be hesitant to use email at all, but seeing as this house no longer possesses a square inch of space in which to enjoy a private conversation, we’re faced with few alternatives.

Earlier, I was making my way down the upstairs corridor when I stumbled into Castiel, who had emerged from the bathroom rather bleary-eyed and defeated. If I didn’t know better, I would have said he scarcely noticed me. He glanced somewhere in the vicinity of skywards, with that oddly solid, obdurate look of his, and said: “You can’t just toss away opportunity. To give up now would be an insult.” Then, brushing past, he slumped down to breakfast without another word, leaving me blinking and strangely punch-drunk.

You see, that abortive little monologue managed to clarify everything for me. I’m prepared to stop being a fool.

Short answer is: I’m in. Neither of us have the resources to tackle Zachariah individually – but together, we can crush the sententious little git to a howling pulp, and leave integrity to rot in the gutter. I’m sick of being tyrannised, Raphael, and if embroilment in your sordid little machinations is the only escape, then I’m perfectly ready to sully myself. The situation stinks to high heaven either way, and it’s always been a case of ducking out dirtied, but alive; I realise that now. Just say the word and I’ll follow, you smooth-faced, power-grabbing sleaze-monger. As of now, I’m yours.

Contact me soon. Thanks to Gabriel’s imbecilic slip, we have to act fast.

Balthazar

---

To: impala67@winchestersdiner.net
From: Cas@winchestersdiner.net

Subject: Dean, please be logical about this

When I said I would die for you, I meant it. What I refuse to do, however, is mangle my book for the sake of a few childish reservations. Ask me anything, Dean, but don’t ask me to keep my life’s work unpublished. I was lucky that even Crowley deigned to give it his attention. The style doesn’t exactly lend itself to popular consumption – or, so I’m told. I’m not being asked to make any edits that significantly alter the essence of the story. And even if I were, it’s no concern of yours. I’m not ungrateful for all that you’ve done for me, everything you’ve taught me - you must believe how much I value that. Believe it without asking for proof, Dean; the book is proof enough. After all this time, do you honestly need more?

He’s not the publisher I would have wished for, true, but the circumstances aren’t mine to dictate. Nor, it seems, is the content of the text, but I’ve reconciled myself to that, and if I can, so can you. What’s this really about, Dean? You’ve never put principles before practicality quite so doggedly before. In fact, these are my principles, not yours – they’re mine to compromise – so why the sudden outrage? If you’re scared that Hounds of Hell will change me, don’t be – I’m not so weak as that, you ass. Credit me with strength of character at least.

Dean, let me back in. Let’s talk, rather than lecture. I’m tired. The towel rack is digging into my spine, and Uriel keeps pounding on the door. All things considered, I’d really like to leave this bathroom. Please? Even with sporadic mealtime breaks, I can’t see this arrangement working indefinitely.

- from Castiel

---

To: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Okay, so

I think you ought to know exactly how much internal debate I had to wade through, bloodied, exhausted and sweating, before finally reaching the conclusion that I ought to send this email. All the mirrors I’ve stared into, searchingly. All the delicious pancakes I’ve left unconsumed. All the gravity-skewing mental turmoil I’ve had to endure, spiralling out of orbit into the cosmic depths of fathomless emotional-and-occasionally-ontological uncertainty – and look, it was a whole lot of freaking debate, okay? I don’t want to wreck this. I like things the way they are now. But ignoring the issues at hand would not be sensible, or adult, or even particularly feasible because frankly, Gabe, you’re driving everyone insane. You need to get out of here. You needed to get out of here yesterday, but you most definitely need to get out of here today because you have an indecently successful show to grace with your inestimably irritating presence. If only so that you’ll stop irritating the entire Winchester household instead. We can handle the endless Doctor Sexy marathons, but there are some things no decent person ought to be forced to endure, and late-night a capella renditions of Dolly Parton’s greatest hits don’t just make the list; they transcend that list. By 2am, I think even Rachel’s ears were starting to bleed.

Basically, I’m telling you to get your ass off the couch already. Not only that, but I’m telling you to cart your aforementioned ass all the way to Vancouver before it’s too late and you’ve torn irreparable chunks out of the life you spent close to a decade carving out for yourself. There are some things you just don’t throw away. There are things you can’t throw away. Would it really kill you to admit that this is one of them?

You’ve done this ever since we were toddlers, you know. The instant you’re handed something good, something you’ve wanted, you immediately refuse to believe it’s solid enough to last. Then you proceed to poke, prod and tear at it till it’s a useless, leaking carcass, and subsequently tell everyone that you knew it could never be permanent. Well guess what, Gabe? Perhaps if you could keep your freakishly stubby fingers to yourself, you could learn not to begrudge your own happiness!

Look, I know I can’t tell you what to do. Trust me. I know that. But I’m still allowed to ask you, as prettily as I possibly can, if you could perhaps not sabotage this one thing you’ve managed to build and keep? Because here’s the thing, you monumental moron: you need this show. Or rather, if not the show specifically, then something else – something outside of all this bottomless family drama. We both escaped from home when we were young. You were twenty-one; I was, what, seventeen? It was ridiculous. We left a pattern of easy, automatic living for absolutely nothing. No friends; no job; scant money – it was practically starting from scratch. But that was the point of it all – we had to build. We had to find something to pin our lives onto, and stick there. Me? I was lucky. First trip to the tattoo parlour, and I met Jo, who not only convinced me that I absolutely did not want k.d. lang forever etched permanently on my upper arm, but also taught me how to really, properly live - and how to rebel. Without her, I’d have stayed the same petulant little rich girl, who thought that patchy environmentalism and a lipring made her a political dissident. With her - well. It’s more or less the upshot of my story: I fell in love; started a blog – the k.d. lang obsession predictably faded, but my crush on the tattoo artist never did - and, all in all, there are lesser achievements than being an Internet celebrity. The point is, I found something outside of everything I’d been taught, and that was what kept me functioning.

It’s the same with you and your show. We live in a melting pot of chronic dysfunction. If we can’t find something else, something to live by, there’s nothing to stop us from burning up. So, fine. Do what you want. Mangle it all on a whim. But find something else – something besides all of this. Or, alternatively, try to salvage what you have. Because why the hell not? It isn’t broken, Gabe. So don’t destroy it just because you can.

Was this out of line? Honestly, I don’t care. You’ll forgive me eventually, I guess.

Anna

PS Is something going on outside? I keep hearing these weird, tortured screams. Is Uriel slaughtering a cat? Tell me Uriel isn’t slaughtering a cat.

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons: the all-inclusive edition”]
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org

Subject: This is your daily gossip column writer, Jo Harvelle-Milton, reporting for duty

You might be wondering: what’s the point of this email? Today’s events weren’t exactly subtle, and I know that most of you saw at least pieces of the performance. Still, as the only eyewitness besides the participants who managed to catch the entire incident, I figure I’m sort of obligated to write up a SparkNotes version for everyone else. So here it is – complete and unabridged! We of management are not to be held responsible for any trauma, mental or otherwise, resulting from what follows.

Mostly because I’ll be too busy trying to cope with my own.

So it’s been about an hour or so since breakfast, where everybody except Rachel and Bobby was too unnerved by how Luce and Mike had each other in endless, unbreakable eyelock to eat, and I guess most of us figured that that particular feud would be coming to a head sometime soon. Still, at the time, I hadn’t given it much thought. I was heading over to the tent in order to fetch Uriel one of those self-help books everyone’s been sort of furtively trading round (‘Dare to Dream – Use Self Esteem!’ for anyone who’s interested) when suddenly, a metallic, teeth-splintering shriek splits the sky, and I honestly wonder for at least thirty seconds whether this is what an aneurism feels like.

Thinking about it, I wonder whether an aneurism might have been less painful.

After regaining some motor control, I look up to check the source of the sound, and there it is: Luce, standing defiantly at the edge of the roof, electric guitar in hand, decked out in silver eyeshadow and a floor-length cape. No, really. Eyeshadow. And a cape. I don’t even know where he found a cape. Perhaps the basement? A little further back, with a ukulele and an enthusiastic grin, sits Rachel, perched against the chimney. Somehow they’d managed to lug up an amp the size of a small German Shepherd and balance it against the drainpipe – and whilst I honestly have no clue how they managed to find a power source, believe me, that thing was definitely working.

Luce steps precariously forward, teetering a little over the roof tiles in a way that might have been worrying if I hadn’t been distracted by a fuckton of colossally bizarre. With a jerky sort of flourish that threatens to send the guitar flying, he yells out to everyone in the general vicinity: “Hello, Kansas! Lemme tell ya, it is absolutely wonderful to be seeing such a great crowd here tonight!” (It was morning.)(The yard was all but empty.) “I’m Luce Milton, and this is my lovely co-artist, Rachel soon-to-be-Singer! Together we are Immaculate Conception of Sound!

(At this point, he paused, like he was waiting for applause. I gave a few claps in response. It seemed the diplomatic thing to do.)

“Are you ready to hear our first song of the night?” (Total silence.) (It was still morning.) “I said – ARE YOU READY TO HEAR OUR FIRST SONG OF THE NIGHT?!”

By then, I felt like an answer was expected of me. “Um, sure?”

“Fantastic! Okay, folks! This one goes out to my brother… Michael.” I don’t know how, but he somehow managed to make those last two syllables into the verbal equivalent of a particularly enthusiastic Viking blood eagle. As in, the one where they crack your ribs open and yank out your lungs. Except – blindfolded. With a rusted can opener. In a piranha pit. It was intense.

Then he began to play. I actually don’t think the words have been invented to describe the musical intro. The closest approximation I can find is this:

adweniwjfj0u7urj~Fjsfhiosdhfiowh8JNISHFOUH8HFINWP90SJHF0WEJFJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJKlasdk

Amplified. With distortion.

Over the clamour, Lucifer starts yelling out words in heavy monotone: “Shame. Defeat. Abandonment. Hate… Shame. Defeat. Abandonment. Hate.”

At which point, Rachel chips in, in cheery counterpoint, with: “Isolation! Alienation! Creation! Indignation! … Isolation! Alienation! Creation! Indignation!”

I can only assume it was stylistic.

About halfway through, out comes Uriel (walking oddly, with his legs firmly crossed), Bobby (staring up at Rachel with a baffled look of pride), Sam (staring up at Luce with a horrified look of horror) Castiel and Dean (talking really intently about something; probably the fact that we’re now out of shampoo) – and, of course, Mikey, the man of the hour. Just in time to catch the opening verse. Convenient, eh?

I’ve copied it down as accurately as I can. There can’t be many mistakes – the whole thing is pretty much indelibly seared into my long-term memory.

Whilst you espoused geology,
And I was music’s devotee,
The bond that tethered you to me
Was one transcending words.

Ohhhh (indecipherable wailing)

Shame. Defeat. Abandonment. Hate.

The world might judge and misconstrue,
But still I loved - you loved me too,
And fate would keep me tied to you
No matter what occurred.

Isolation! Alienation! Creation! Indignation!

Ohhhhh (more wailing, this time a little more vehement.)

I said: let’s run away together,
Come with me to New York, love,
But you would rather watch the weather,
Study rocks and business, think of
Money, father’s expectations,
Power struggles, corporate ties,
Our love could have shattered nations;
Why did you construct your web of lies?

(Heartfelt screaming.)

Shame, defeat and isolation!
You left me to leave alone,
Hate, defeat and indignation!
How to melt your heart of stone?

I won’t let you capture me,
I’m not yours, Mike – I am freeeee!

That was the gist of it, anyway. I get the impression that there were more verses – many more verses, judging by the sheer amount of sheet music Rachel was sifting through – but that’s as far as he managed to get. Throughout the whole song, Michael was gaping as though he’d forgotten every word he ever knew. Maybe he just couldn’t find any that might have been even marginally appropriate. I could sympathise. Still, as it was, he just sort of – stood there. Totally aghast. Meanwhile, Lucifer just keeps singing directly towards him, never breaking off eye contact, in a way that was basically the epitome of awkward. But then, halfway through the second bout of indecipherable wailing, all the hurt and confusion gradually drained away from Mike’s face, leaving this weirdly determined expression – as if all the badly-rhyming vitriol had been nothing but waves of water sliding over him, till all that was left of the sharp, painful edges from before was a shiny piece of sea glass: glittering and calm. When the heartfelt screaming began, he made his move.

Sprinting forwards, he seized handfuls of the clinging ivy at the side of the house, and began to hoist himself up the building.

(Only it wasn’t actually that easy. He couldn’t quite stretch to reach the lowest vine, so he kept leaping up and tumbling to the floor again, like some monomaniacal, man-shaped spider trying to scale a ledge. After a few false starts, Sam Winchester took pity and gave him a leg up.)

Lucifer actually dropped the guitar in shock. The shoulder strap snapped, and it fell straight off the rooftop, landing with a cacophonous crash that still managed to be vaguely more musical than the song itself. Rachel was still sort of idly strumming at the ukulele, but only Bobby was listening (raptly, in fact, raising an absolutely ancient camcorder aloft) – the rest of us were fixed upon Mike and Luce with a sense of morbid fascination so strong you could almost slice it. Michael was struggling a little in his impromptu ascent, but was still, well, ascending – whereas Luce was just flapping his arms about wildly, yelling nonsensical stuff like: “Don’t touch me! Don’t you dare touch me!” (He was nowhere near reaching distance.) “You – you aren’t worthy, you don’t deserve – don’t you dare look at me!”

 

Meanwhile, Michael was trying to pacify him with these desperately inane little platitudes. “It’s all right, Luce. Calm down.”

“Don’t talk!”

“I’m just trying to – Luce, you can’t just sing at me and then expect me to –”

“I despise you! Forever!”

“Lucifer, just let me up and we can talk –”

“Forever, I hate you, and I swear I’ll never –!”

But we didn’t get to hear exactly what it was Luce was about to swear he’d never do, because at that point, Michael fumbled and lost his grip on the tendril of ivy he was attempting to grab. For a moment, it seemed as if he were about to fall – and we were all completely mute with surprise, utterly useless on the ground. I mean, it was such a grand, dramatic gesture – I don’t think any one of us actually expected him to fall. But then Luce leapt forwards and seized Mike by the arms, and for a few seconds they just clung to each other, motionless with shock. Slowly, in what looked like sheer panic, Luce heaved upwards, and dragged Michael onto the roof. There was dead silence. And by that, we’re talking a complete absence of all sound – from the three on the roof, from the rest of us down below, and I swear, from the wildlife. Then:

“Lucifer,” choked out Michael.

“Michael,” replied Lucifer, still clutching him tightly by the arms.

They stood there, just – breathing in tandem. Then:

“Luce,” murmured Michael.

“Mike,” whispered Lucifer.

And then they started kissing. Like, a lot. There was most definitely a lot of kissing going on there. Particularly for two brothers. Or, actually, for any two people on top of someone else’s roof, in full view of a bemused audience. Neither of them seemed to care, though. They were too busy kissing to notice.

Rachel was beginning to look somewhat awkward, but not in an oh-my-god-what—why-are-my-cousins-are-kissing-each-other sort of way. More in an okay-how-do-I-get-off-this-rooftop-without-disturbing-them kind of way. In fact, none of the Milton family seemed unduly surprised by any of this?

Man, I do not envy those particular childhoods.

Anyway, that’s essentially the end of the story. They’re still up there, by the way. I’m not entirely sure whether they’ve even paused for breath. I – guess they really missed each other? Yeah, you guys are going to have to fill me in on the details with this one. I get the feeling it is totally beyond my purview.

Jo

Chapter Text

To: Cas@winchestersdiner.net
From: U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net

Subject: benediction

Castiel,

This morning, I realised that it’s been a long time since we’ve spoken face to face, possibly because you insist on spending the majority of your waking life on the toilet. I understand the need for solace, but there are things that I must tell you – that I must implore you to understand. Thus, this.

Do you remember our childhood, Cas? How we would make mud pies and sand barbicans together? We were so innocent. So anguished, when Balthazar tried to eat our mud pastry. Do you remember the resultant trip to the emergency room after it became clear that there was a sewage processing plant adjacent to the beach on which we had been playing, and the way you spent the entire journey earnestly informing Balthazar of the abstract nature of our confectionary? You told him that his food poisoning was only symbolic, and asked him how metaphor tasted.

Of course, your brother just carried on vomiting into an old ice cream tub we’d found in Uncle M’s back seat, and then kicked me in the shin when I asked him why he thought his digestive tract found analogies so repulsive. That isn’t the point. The point is, I think you have talent, Castiel. I think you possess the kind of gift that the rest of us could only waste our lives presuming to wish to dream about presuming to understand.

In other words, ignore the man at the bathroom door. I’m told he’s very attractive (I don’t see it, myself), but if that at all affects your decision, you aren’t half the artist I assumed you were. It’s all discussed in my latest copy of Actualization Monthly in the Figurative Friday section (which is rather good – I’ve clipped out the best paragraphs and stuck them to the fridge if you want a look; they’re the ones under the Zen Baking Studios fridge magnet).

I gather that you’re wondering how I know all this. You see, I hadn’t wanted to reveal it to you – I was always far too ashamed – but I’m well aware of your entire plight. Of those ridiculous publishing agencies. Of the inestimable Dean Winchester. It’s not as though I haven’t tried to ignore it. The problem is, this is a company phone, and it seems to want to forward yours, Gabriel’s, half the Icelandic parliament’s and – bizarrely – my own email into my ‘Marks’ folder. Which seems rather ill-informed, given none of you are actually called Mark. Worse: no matter how many times I try to click and drag the damned thing into my recycle bin, it won’t budge. So, every time I load my desktop, American Storage and Rental’s homepage pops up, cheerily informing me of the copious quantities of new mail that I’ve accumulated, complete with previews of every single inane little message.

Do you have any idea of the kind of things that I’ve been forced to read? Between Gabriel’s fling with the man in tech support, Gabriel’s short-lived committed relationship with the SFX woman who abuses commas, Gabriel’s mooning over the latest menial action of his director (most recently, she flicked her hair over her shoulder) (‘with icy, smoldering intensity’ – in his direction, no less) and Gabriel’s complaining about the rest of his cast (which, as far as I can tell, consists of exactly one other person, whose name no one can be bothered remember), you might start to get the picture. Your own affairs would be a breath of fresh air, but I’ve become far too inured to it all to allow them to affect me.

If you can forgive me for violating your privacy and your inbox to such a reprehensible degree, please heed my advice. Make your own decision. Also, stay in the bathroom a few more minutes, because Gabriel and Anna are currently blocking up the stairs. He’s staring intently at her as she monologues, which seems to be par for the course, nowadays.

Yours,

Uriel

P.S. Prospective authorship aside, we’ve grown apart, somewhat. Join me for lunch?

---

To: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: Rmilton@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: Re:Open this email right now, Raphael

You have no idea how grateful I am to see that you appreciate that refusing my help is tantamount to accepting the inevitability of your imminent and excruciating demise. Truly, Balthazar, as our family struggles through an increasingly turbulent period of its remarkably eventful history, it is only knowledge of your deference towards more senior Miltons – combined with a newfound appreciation for your unparalleled ability to latch, mollusc-like, onto the musty, metaphorical hull of whichever force seems likely to extend your own, increasingly improbable good fortune – which is able to reignite my dwindling faith in the innate hierarchy of this bleak and uncompromising world. Besides, Gabriel’s taken to you like an unaccountably rich puppy taking to a bad smell, and I indulge his whims, on occasion.

With that in mind, I could never ask you for money. It would be morally repugnant: like making a child cry, or shooting a particularly irritating executive board member. However, I would propose a simple exchange. No niggling details or fine print, I assure you.

Once we’re done, hand over the briefcase. I will do everything in my power to protect you from Zachariah’s brainwashed cronies. You shall never hear from American Storage and Rental again. In fact, you have my word that I won’t even attempt to open the damned thing; I’ll dispose of it thoroughly and without mercy.

Oh, and, Balthazar? Family or no, the offer isn’t negotiable.

Yours,
Raphael

P.S. Your older sister is making some very interesting noises. Most likely because she’s airsick: Gabriel just grabbed her under the arms and started spinning her in circles – whilst she was still talking, too, which seems awfully rude. Absurdly (and despite the airsickness), they’re both grinning, possibly because they’ve forgotten that they’re stood halfway up a flight of stairs. Do you think the situation necessitates a rescue attempt, or should I leave them to it?

---

To: Import contacts list=”Allies”
From: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov

Subject: a call to arms

Literally. I don’t suppose any of you are currently in possession of something that might feasibly constitute a weapon? If not, forget that I ever asked. If so, please assemble by the second tent peg to the right. And if you are otherwise engaged, for the sake of our collective sanity, I would request that you do not inform anyone via email. Tactful, pointed silence is always an adequate response.

(I would assume that this was basic common sense, but there have been incidents in the past that have made it abundantly clear that – not to put too fine a point on it – it isn’t.)

---

To: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov
From: primordial_clockwork@dont-shoot-tv.com

Subject: Are you helping Balthie escape an excruciating demise against his will? You know that’s unethical, right?

Raph,

Okay, so I have an idea. It’s kind of left field, but there’s not a hell of a lot of other, more conventional weaponry lying about the house.

So, here goes: if you’re seriously careful, I guess my phone could be effective as a very precisely-timed grenade? Apparently, according to my (hot) (nerdy) (flexible) anonymous source, the blast radius is three kilometers – whatever that means; I only do units in Imperial and/or Babylonian, as required. At any rate, the thing’s due to explode at three this afternoon, but you can rejig the settings using a cleverly disguised backdoor located in the code for the Amusing Hepaticological Fact For the Day app. Go to the third line down and make sure to use hexadecimal – I figured pig latin wasn’t complex enough.

Anyhoo, gotta dash. I’m sending this off my director’s email account so it doesn’t tingle Zach’s freaky technological spider senses. I’ll admit, I made one teeny tiny slip up last time I tried to help you, but I bet I can do the whole cryptic Mafioso legerdemain thing as well as Balthie, given half the chance.

Gabe

P.S. Was that bit about being otherwise engaged directed at me? Bad taste, bro. I mean, come on, it was on the forehead, which is about gazillion feet north of the lips and thus doesn’t actually count. It’s, like, one step below hand holding on the scale of completely platonic things that are none of your freaking business and also don’t violate any state’s anti-incest laws. (Laws which I had to research in order to blackmail Michael nine years ago, and for the show’s Noah and Pork Chop sketch once. Quit getting weird ideas.)

---

To: E.Montgomery@foryourfuture.gov
From: R.Milton@onestep.gov

Subject: Would you like chicken, fish or quorn for your main?

Raphael,

Gabriel tells me you’re planning to besiege the abandoned warehouse off fifth! It’s lovely to know that, as a married woman, I’ll still have plenty of opportunities to maintain my independence and personal interests. I had almost thought that wedding plans would eclipse target practice – I hadn’t expected reassurance that the exact opposite was true! Bobby says he’ll arrange the first draft of the seating plans whilst I borrow Dean’s colt and help take down Uncle Zach. I’m not entirely sure why we’re ‘taking down’ Uncle Zach – Gabriel was decidedly unclear about the entire business – but apparently it has something to do with Russian spies, an oil firm and a distressed damsel? It was enough to convince Dean that our cause was worthy of his favorite pistol, at any rate. Aren’t the Winchester boys just the sweetest foster-son-in-laws? They’re already like family. You know, when Sam hurt his head, I even made chicken noodle soup for him. Or, heated it up on at the camping stove, at any rate, with a little input from him on cooking times, but it felt appropriately maternal. And, I had The Talk with Dean this morning: he quietly took me aside to tell me that if I tried to replace his mother, Bobby’s dead wife, or hurt Bobby in any way, he would spin my hair into dental floss and remove the ‘L’ key on my laptops so that I could never again type the word ‘lovely’. I tried to tell the poor dear that I generally rely on touch screen technology, and that human hair is far better for stuffing cushions than flossing teeth. This seemed adequate reassurance, because he gave me a stoic pat on the shoulder and some tips on perfecting my use of a .45 caliber.

Dear me, I’m rambling. I must stop going off on all these tangents, but you know how difficult it is when there isn’t a teleprompter about! To be as brief as the English language will allow me: between the boys’ shed full of firearms, some nail bombs that Sam is vehemently insisting he had no part in making (they were found in his sock drawer) and dearest Virgil’s thoughtful gift, I think we could probably supply a small battalion.

Come to think of it, we have a small battalion to enlist. Would you believe, I don’t think Michael’s team ever went home? They’re still lounging about at Turner’s, sharing recipes for baked goods and sending photos of their Hawaiian shirts to prominent Kansas fashion blogs. Perhaps Michael can order them to help us? Let me just lean over and ask.

…I asked him. He said something to the effect of “yes, absolutely, whatever you just said, Anna!” I’d generally be offended, but it’s rather difficult for him to see who he’s speaking to, from his position. I’m having to contort my neck just to figure out where his face is. Not that I’m particularly keen on seeing his face at the moment, you understand, but I always try to maintain eye contact with the person with whom I am maintaining a conversation, no matter how flushed they are.

So, at any rate, you have yourself a very small, very specialized army, Raphael. I do hope that we can set aside our differences to lead it. I firmly believe that your first act as co-commander should be to make your way up to the attic and try to open the skylight from the inside, though, as the thing’s jammed, and these tiles are getting rather uncomfortable for all of us.

Yours,
Rachel

P.S. Are you going to congratulate your brothers on reconciling? I only ask because you and Gabriel seemed awfully upset the last time their relationship disintegrated, and I know a lady who makes the most beautiful personalized cards, for absolutely any occasion.
P.P.S. Are Gabriel and Anna leaving? They’re on the porch with Jo, shoulder to shoulder, excessive piles of luggage at their feet, all typing incessantly. It’s a level of domestic bliss I can only dream of.

---

To: M.Milton@chonaeoil.org; iamthewalrus@vivalavieboheme.com
CC: Rmilton@foryourfuture.gov
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Could you stop arguing long enough to read this? Sheesh.

Mike, Luce,

Hey. I just wanna say, all that stuff I accused you of after our rendition of Total Eclipse? Complete bullcrap. I mean, sure, you were never shining examples of fraternal love and devotion, but, to be fair, you tried. Plus, you had competition. I mean, Raphael, Castiel and the rest? It’s not like it’s even your fault – it’s probably just down to a recessive gene, or divine retribution for the sins of our paternal grandfather, or something – but those guys had you beat from the start, by virtue of being inherently less fucked up human beings. Case in point: all that stuff I learnt from reminiscing with Anna. You remember that one Christmas, Michael, when you convinced me to run double blinded trials on the existence of Santa? Then you left me unsupervised in order to go get a glass of water, but became distracted in the kitchen when you spotted the au pair allowing Raphael marzipan straight from the pack, and ended up so engrossed in lecturing her on the perils of early onset diabetes that you forgot to unblindfold me? Which all paled into mindless triviality when Dad came home, because he became incandescent with righteous fury towards all of us (mostly you) for perpetuating generations of twisted capitalist pseudo-Christian indoctrination by mentioning St Nick to begin with? You remember that? Right. Well, coincidentally, that exact night, Bal was spending his first Christmas with baby Castiel. Anna showed me photos. They’re on her blog, and believe me, they’re so saccharine you could stick ‘em in a piping bag and use them to ice cupcakes.

Oh, and I know what you’re thinking, Luce. Don’t. You’re not getting out of this. I’ll heave you kicking and whinging down memory lane, if I must. See, I have this pressing desire to share my recollections of a certain incident regarding my trumpet. Man, I loved that trumpet. Raph used to let me read his sheet music over his shoulder as he, like, softly strummed his cello (it’s a string instrument; what in the hell do you do to make one of those things produce noise, anyway?), and I’d pipe along behind him in beautiful counterpoint. We had this whole Von Trapp family duet thing going. Of course, that all came to an end the day you stole my trumpet. Sure, I got it back – hell, it even looked the same, but mark my words. It came back wrong.

Just saying.

Back to the point of this email: you are shitty brothers. But, I wouldn’t have either of you any other way. Who even wants to have functional siblings? People who aren’t me, that’s who. I’d much rather have my lithophilic, narcissistic , terminally pretentious dickmonkeys than any halfassed normal family. The two of you are as useless as half an uneaten fruitcake, and I’m simply the only one magnanimous enough to deal with you: we’re made for each other. I mean, today, Anna told me to put my faith in something that I didn’t plan on picking to pieces, and, you know what? Lucifer, Mikichu, I choose you. Just to hammer that point home, because it’s just as much for him as it is for you, I think I’m gonna forward this to Raphael, too. And by extension, somewhat involuntarily, Uncle Zachariah. We’ve got the power of love on our side, you smug asspollock, and we’re bringing the fight to you.

In other, more compelling news: fuck my show. Nothing with expectations that high is ever gonna have a snowball’s chance of meeting them. Fuck my fans. I’m sure they’ll love me until the next implausibly attractive, inestimably rich, lamentably unavailable celebrity comes along – hell, more power to them. Looking at pictures of hot people on the internet is one neat way to pass the time. And, though it’s taking all my limitless reserves of willpower to type this (I can barely get my fingers to the keys; Jo and Anna have sensed my plight and are offering me reinvigorating vegan ham sandwiches and Pepsi Max), it’s gotta be said, and you just know that I’m the only modern martyr implacable enough to do it: fuck the money.

Fuck all of it.

I’m going to Vancouver. Not because there’s gazillion people on an increasingly overpopulated, exceptionally poorly moderated social networking site who want me to. Not because it’s what you all think is best for my mental health. Not even because of the director who just emailed to tell me that she’s going to sauté my ass in walnut oil and serve me to the executive producer for lunch if I don’t check in with her for rehearsal (hey, babe). Because I want to. I want to make myself laugh. All the other stuff? That’s icing on the cake. It’s like PDA Saves the Day says (that one’s for you, Luce, not that it seems spectacularly well-chosen, being as I doubt you’ve had exposure to even the most basic forms of human contact in years): “Find in yourself, what you want from yourself. All else can be solved by glomping innocent bystanders.”

I’m not really sure that’s healthy advice (plus it only seems to apply to really stretchy people?) but the point is, since my epiphany went and happened – in the form of a bouncy redhead with a lip ring, a sexy yet intimidating wife and tattoos in unmentionable places – it’s made sense to me. All I’ve ever really wanted to do is mock and humiliate people, preferably in public. Now, I have the chance to do that professionally.

Sweetest. Gig. Ever. Right?

So, with that in mind, could the two of you meander your ponderous ways onto the front porch some time before the turn of the next millennia? Where the hell are you, anyway? I need to say goodbye before I go. And also get permission to borrow Mike’s jet.

Yours,
Gabe

P.S. Seriously, though? For all you knew, I could’ve been planning on braining myself with Rachel’s ukulele, or declaring my couch an independent nation at war with the surrounding US states, or hooking up with Sam, or something equally unwarranted. So, you two chuckleheads got down here just in time to – I don’t know – show some compassion. Towards your favorite younger brother, no less, who – need I remind you? – was going through a freaking sugar-fuelled mid-life crisis in your absence. Anyhoo, you finally pull your heads out your asses, and all it led to was fraught mutual staring competitions over the breaded breakfast waffles, followed by a spectacularly enigmatic disappearing act. Guys. Your attention spans: they need work.
P.P.S. Hey, does Mike’s plane have an in-flight drinks menu? Maybe one of those magazines with all the shiny overpriced eyelash curlers and placemats and whatever that they want you to buy from the airline? Alternatively, porn?

Chapter Text

To: [import contacts list = “Imbeciles innumerable: the full flock“] [Excluding contact = canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com]
From: menageadouze@fluffyclouds.net

Subject: A farewell of sorts

There is a poetic form from the Middle Ages known as the aubade, which I don’t expect any of you snivelling philistines to be familiar with – but bear with me and I’ll explain it for you, because it is integral to the point. The point being something which… well. Something which, to be grasped, entails at least standard grounding in medieval verse. Hence this explanation.

Traditionally, an aubade is a song composed by a lover who is to depart at dawn, which – in an even more orthodox sense – is to be addressed to a sleeping lady through her window. Sleeping, one imagines, heavily enough to stay unconscious throughout the incessant strumming of a lute and her boyfriend’s sub-par warbling. I guess it’s a form of abstract consolation to the writer. The agony of separation becomes crystallised into a stylised form of melancholy that can be expressed in lieu of what, in reality, would be a messy and painful split. It’s the emotional equivalent of dumping someone via Skype. The poet, having whistled a makeshift tune to his snoring mistress, can toddle off happily to war, or blithely skip his way in the direction of some esoteric theological quest, without having to worry about answering any of those awkward questions such as when will you be back? or before you leave, have you any idea what happened to my curling tongs?, or even but darling, of all places, why would a dragon be attacking the local brothel?

The point is not that this letter is an aubade. But it is similar.

Here I am, gazing miserably through the window at you indolent bastards, poised to face mortal peril from which I have a depressingly fractional chance of escaping with life and limb intact, and all I can bring myself do is continue to stand here stupidly gaping, unnoticed by any observer. Like Grendel at Hrothgar’s feast, or Gabriel when they cancelled Ally McBeal. Much as it pains me to admit it, I think a proper goodbye might destroy me.

And so there you have the founding impulse of this message.

For the benefit of those who have somehow managed to bypass the nigh-constant barrage of exposition regarding my financial woes – perhaps by segregating yourself from society at large, or temporarily being in a place without WiFi connection - I suppose I’d better set the record straight. The truth is, I’m not really an Advanced Futures Broker, or Comprehensive Entrepreneurial Dogsbody, or whatever our makeshift geocities homepage insists I am. In reality, I am simply a very loyal, very harried grunt worker in an ongoing battle that is not so much a convoluted match of chess as it is a particularly overwrought game of Parcheesi. Today, the time has come to eliminate the last few misshapen plastic counters that govern the board - and today, chance alone dictates whether I’ll be returning. It’s like a Renaissance tragedy, only with less of the dignity, and considerable chance of facing worse projectiles than the odd tomato. But there you have it.

In a few minutes, after a short detour to American Storage and Rental in order to recover a mission-critical package, I, Raphael, Rachel and a small team of specialists will leave to confront Zachariah and his pet thugs.

As far as preventative strikes go, it’s effective enough. As far as spirited last stands against the implacable forces of fate and/or sniper rifles go, it’s a little lacklustre.
Actually, it’s a little pathetic.

It occurs to me, as I struggle to extricate myself from the snarled azalea bed - after one last, abortive glance to where Uriel is practicing his anaerobic meditation routine, and Castiel scrutinises the cartoon on the back of the cornflakes packet as though it were a latter-day Bayeux Tapestry – that this has all been something of a poor show. The nagging, all-pervasive conviction that I could have somehow done better - perhaps been more decisive, more forceful - predominates. Could I have done it, after all? Maybe. I’ll admit, even this late in the game, it bothers me that the fight for my life and livelihood comes down to the mangled approximation of a family reunion.
Still. Better luck next time, eh?

Balthazar

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons: the all-inclusive edition”]
From: switchbladegirl@roadside.org

Subject: Greetings from 30,000 feet!

So, after asking around, only to be confronted by a whole host of blank looks from the extended Milton tribe, I’m starting to realise that I’m never going to get a straight answer on the whole Michael-and-Lucifer front. In fact, I’m beginning to get that this is one of those weird little family things that I’m most likely never going to understand. (I’ve found that ‘family things’, on a Milton level, tend to be something of a sticking point in the smooth run of absurdity that is being married to Anna. Being as they sporadically involve basic societal taboos, and invariably cause international disputes.) Partway through the pre-flight safety announcements that Michael’s anal retentive pilot insisted on delivering – despite the fact that avoiding these is presumably one of the perks of owning a private jet in the first place - I brought up the whole passionate brotherly rooftop makeout issue with Anna. You know – tentatively. Whereupon, my devoted, civil-married wife of two-and-a-half years turns to me with a perplexed look in her eye, and asks me, completely tonelessly: “Are you homophobic?”

At this point, I’m completely prepared to drop the whole issue.

Meanwhile, we’re busy taking advantage of the fact that we have found ourselves on what is essentially a floating five-star hotel - complete with tasteful candle arrangements, an adjoining jacuzzi, and complimentary chocolate liquors balanced on every seat – to care overmuch about questioning any of this. Although, at this point, it occurs to me that there are many things I will never understand about the rich and famous. Case in point: I don’t know how they even managed to get that much running water up here. I don’t know why there’s a flight attendant whose sole purpose seems to be replacing the chocolate every time somebody eats one. And more than anything else, I’m not too clear on how the Japanese koi pond is physically possible.

All I know is that Michael seems bizarrely proud of the entire setup. Like, he keeps darting little looks at Lucifer as though he expects him to be amazed by the opulence of the in-flight lunch menu. As if he’s trying to woo him with complimentary chocolate liquors. It’s sort of endearing.

Anyway, appreciation of Michael’s indecent amounts of money and resources has evolved into a systematic raid on the minibar – which, in turn, has solidified into the world’s most convoluted game of Strip Risk. So far, Michael and Lucifer have cornered North America and Asia respectively, and are busy engaging in a deadly (topless) border skirmish that’s absorbed more time, men and clothing than the rest of the game combined. All alcohol has been abandoned in the face of no-holds-barred confrontation. They… seem to be enjoying themselves? A little more than is necessarily comforting? On the other side of the board, Anna has crossed, double-crossed and triple-crossed her way into a burgeoning stronghold in Central Europe without losing so much as a tie-dyed shoelace, which is both a little disappointing, but also disturbingly sexy. I swear, she has never seemed so much of a Milton as when she’s manipulating fellow family members to their doom. Gabriel, conversely, is cowering in a tiny little corner of Australia: totally smashed, stripped down to his stegosaurus-print boxers, singing Whitney Houston’s I’m Your Baby Tonight off-key under his breath - except for some reason he keeps replacing half the lyrics with the chorus of the Pokémon theme tune. That is, when he’s not peering into the bottom of his beer bottle to look for ‘invisible gremlins’, trying to balance the little gold horse-counter on top of his nose, or laughing uproariously at every syllable the confused-looking flight attendant utters. The flight attendant who, having looked a little put out at not being included, has since joined and proceeded to corner Africa, whilst losing her sensible heels and button-down blouse in the process – which, really, is just as well, seeing as this would otherwise be the only drinking game in history where half of the participants are playing to win, and four out of five are related.
Such is now my life, apparently.

Anyway, got to go – it’s time to watch my wife attempt to obliterate her cousins off the face of the earth through sheer brute force and military determination. Here’s to hoping your heist works out in time! Cheers.

Jo

---

To: mengeadouze@fluffyclouds.net
From: canyousayawesome@dontshootstageshow.com

Subject: Im not actually drunk!!!

Balthie

So everyones playing this really TERRIBLE game of Risk because Michael found the DELUXE Editition (“ambiguously gendered plastic army figurines and an UPDATED world map for imperialism the whole FAMILLY can enjoy!!!”) stashed behind the in flight drinks bar and Annas owning his and Luces collective ass and Im just kind of not paying much atttention because this game SUCKS and I never liked it because I always end up CORNERED by Lucifer in the south of Australia and then I always die. Its depressing. I mean we make alliaiances but then he always BREAKS THEM and can you please forward this email to him so he can hear how much that irritates the HELL out of me? Bastard deserves everything Annas little plastic possibly-women are doing to ALL his troops in Kamchatka.

Woah, that was like at least three sentences or something. I go on, right Balth? RIGHT? Better not do that on screen! Being as were all filming LIVE and my directors a pissy highly attractive asshole who can shut down any argument with a look and makes interns squirm and has the prettiest smirk basically ever and stuff. I dont think she likes me though. Like on a basic fundermental human BEINGG sort of level. Do you think she likes me? I mean youve never met her but you always seem to KNOW these things.

The thing is Im actually PRETENDING to be drunk right now. Im not actually sure why, it seemed like a good idea at the time and now I’m like looped into this endless cycle of having to act more and more drunk and at this rate the flight attendant lady is going to have to hold my head over the airplane toilet bowl so I can pretend projectile vomit into it.

Hows the espionage going anyway?

Thats not really what I wanted to say though, ‘CAUSE what I wanted to say was actually that seriously Mike and Luce are like happy together and its completely ridiculous but I am actually getting all bleary eyed over this. I know youre grinniing, btw and you better stop right now. Blow me, Balth. (Not literally. I can do WAY better). Im their brother so Im allowed to be happy for them when they quit acting like entitled assclons.

Have you ever seen them this HAPPY? Ive never seen them this HAAPPY (not even back when they first started dating) (then again that was in the Dad-must-NEVER-EVER-know stage when they were still under the impression that he minded them dating people). Theyre staring at each other all pokerfaced and waiting for the other to crack and Mike justmade a witticism that I didnt actually hear or understand and is probably an injoke, because Lucifer just replied with, ‘Yeah well if its fault breccia youre into’ and theyre both doing the suave not-laughing thing like that was just the funniest exchange ever to have occurred but it wouldnt be suitably COMPOSED or SLICK to start giggling. I remember when they did this when we were kid’s, when they had so many little phrases’ and joke’s that never made any sense and I think you actually called them out on it once and said they were just making them up as they went along and then Lucifer ate your serving of gourmet carrot cake every afternoon tea for a week in retalliatiun.

You know what, IM gonna Instagram the CRAP out of this. Theres gonna be pictures of it all over my Twitter in about two minutes and the fans are gonna lap it up like its molten chocolate fudge cake or something. Two shirtless Miltons smirking sexily at each other as they rattle little plastic dice and make with the trash talk.

“Sixes,” Mike just said, as though daring Lucifer to even try and defend Ontario.

“Same,” Lucifer responded, with enough smugness to like fill a skyscraper full of smugness. And you know how the white defense dice sixes beat the red attack dice sixes, which is pretty much the least fair thing, like, EVER? That just happened. Now theyre smouldering at each other, even as Michael removes his tie (he lost the cufflinks first, then the shirt then the tie pin and I think that says volumes about his priorities).

Okay that just went on Twitter. Don’t worry I asked them first.

No, naïve little Gabriel fan number seventeen hundred, that ait’nt Photoshopped.

The last time I saw them together PROPERLY it was just silent. Like Id just got home from some random person whose name I forgets’ house, and Raphael was wandering up the drive coming back from cello lessons and there were Mike and Luce just stood on the veranda. Mike was stony-faced and Luce was actually genuinely crying. I think thats the only time Ive ever seen my big brother cry, actually ever. It was like getting stabbed, not like the cliché simile getting stabbed but like actually really you could feel the knife going into your chest and slicing up your diaphramm into tiny seering fragnments of pain getting stabbed and youre sort of staring all wide eyed like you cant even really believe someone would do that to you but their doing that and you can see the genuine real tears. They were like movie tears – didn’t even smudge his eyeliner, I noticed that at the time, they just kind of trickled neatly down from one eye and it hurt so much because Id never even thought that could happen. Lucifer doesn’t cry, you know?

And then he pushed past me and Raph and left. The cello case clattered to the ground. He didnt even stop walking when the rest of us flinched because we heard a string snap. That was when I noticed that for some reason there was a fire on the front lawn and my full score to the Lion King arranged for an a capella tenor and baritone pair was on the top of the blazing pile of sheet music. As I took two steps forward to try and salvage it Mike looked me dead in the eye and said with absolutely zero emotion, “We have no baritone, Gabriel. Not now, not ever.”

You know Castiel was just eleven back then, just a kid. And you and Anna and him came back five minutes later, all scurrying through the gates and up the driveway and basically crashing into me and Raph because we’d been frozen in place as soon as we realised what had happened. I think the cello broke another string. Castiel started sobbing his diminutive little eyes out, but none of the rest of us could. We just stood there, numb.

But now theyre playing RISK together and probably about to make out on their own personal jet if the rest of us VACATE to the pilots’’ lounge! So tha’ts totally AWESOME!!!

Think I should get them a personalised card so they know how HAPPY this makes me? I hear Rachel knows someone who designs them for ANYthing!!!

I remain,
not drunk,
Also Gabriel

---

To: Import contacts list=”Miltons”
From: rmilton@onestep.gov

Subject: Operation Hairtie

Apologies for the decidedly whimsical subject title. I consulted with my fellow conspirators over our reconnaissance operation’s name, and they simply refused to respond productively. Balthazar made, for want of a better term, an irritable chittering noise, whilst Raphael only snapped that a codename for our mission wouldn’t be of much use to us when the police were dredging the local reservoirs to find our corpses. I can only assume they’re nervous. The entire team was! We thought that retrieving that briefcase would take all our various wits and talents – though, strangely, that didn’t prove to be the case at all- but I must apologise: I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, I turned out my pockets and named our mission. Breaking into American Storage and Rental, Lawrence Branch, was to be Operation Hairtie. Operation Credit Card shall consist of our journey to and subsequent descent into all-out warfare at the abandoned warehouse off fifth. We assumed that stealth would be Hairtie’s deciding factor, so we left Michael’s team, still clad in idiosyncratic orange, in the Winchesters back yard. Bobby grudgingly supplied them with tall glasses of pink discount lemonade, which they sipped in blissful silence as we drove off in Raphael’s black rental van (it had to be a van – I’m told it’s customary?).

Oh, my dearest cousins, do you think I should invite the team to the wedding? Perhaps they could even cater!

Once more, my most heartfelt apologies. Balthazar says that I am becoming sidetracked. So, we made our way to American Storage and Rental. Raphael drove – he and Balthazar argued over who would take the wheel for at least fifteen minutes until I suggested that I drive. The colour drained from both their faces, and Raphael pushed Balthie out the way whilst he was still trying to contain his horror. Honestly! I consider myself a very safe driver. It’s a lack of practise, is all: the motorcade do most of the work.

Well, after half an hour of fiddling with the GPS and swearing loudly at Lawrence’s poorly signposted streets, we came to our destination. It was an inordinately large building, entirely composed of concrete and steel. I do believe we all three stopped a moment to suck in a disbelieving breath and peer up at that imposing façade. The moment was rather extended, as there were fourty floors. After three seconds, Balthazar paused to curse and rub his neck. Then, we continued, past a succession of rather lovely marble fountains. I don’t suppose Uncle Zach could provide the sculptor’s contact details?

But, landscape design aside, it was at this point that chaos descended. Balthazar and Raphael began to argue, violently and interminably, over which course of action our daring team should take. Again, I silenced them both, this time by suggesting we walk in the front door. (I’m not entirely sure why this seemed so novel to them: the others were covered by three cameras each, and razor wire, and the most formidable of quintuple locks.)

“You know,” said Raphael, “we could always take Gabriel’s phone, and cause a bomb scare. Intimidate them into taking us to the box!”

“Or,” said Balthazar, “we could attempt to preserve a modicum of our self-respect, and utilise that most underappreciated skill: subtlety.”

“We should phone Michael,” I declared. “He’ll know just the thing to do.”

I’m almost entirely certain that Balthazar was only arguing for the sake of it, because he immediately agreed with Raphael, once Michael was involved in the proceedings.

Thus, we charged in through the revolving door, yelling and brandishing an iPhone.

Only to find, to our intial dismay and growing delight, that the building was entirely empty. At first, we suspected an ambush, but the lifts were fully operational (though, Raphael agreed with Balthazar that we should take the stairs anyway) and the box door was open (Raphael insisted on putting on his sunglasses and kicking it in. I think he liked the way it made his trenchcoat swish).

So we left the building, Balthazar clutching his briefcase, our coats swirling magnificently in the light breeze. The entire mission was completed so quickly that we’ve since decided to have lunch, and are currently sat, reunited, with the rest of our team (save Castiel and Uriel, who are are taking high tea at a nearby Starbucks), eating cucumber sandwiches and pumpkin pie in the local park .

Tonight: Operation Credit Card!

Yours excitedly,
Rachel

P.S. These sandwiches are simply divine. We found them in the freezer. I do hope their creator doesn’t mind our having eaten them; we left an apologetic note.

---

To: [import contacts list = “Miltons, all and sundry”]
From: borntorun@roadside.org

Subject: Progress report!

So, it may be of interest to some of you that I now own the world. Well, the world aside from the south of Australia, that is. Gabriel was quite insistent about ownership of South Australia, even after I stormed in with sixty eight plastic red troops - and frankly, as Almighty Overlady of All Else, Including Mars For Some Reason, I’m in a position to be generous. But, to all intents and purposes, the globe belongs to me.

I say this only to preserve for the family record that I destroyed Mike and Luce at Strip Risk. It was brutal. Strategically, it was flawless. It took effort. It was about the first time I’ve managed to get one over them since that one time I convinced Lucifer that Anusol was a type of cupcake topping. (So, last October, I think?)
Consequentially, I was the only one left sober and fully clothed in a jet plane full of disillusioned ex-conquerors, with my wife dozing against my shoulder mumbling something about imperial standards (ours is to be red and gold and ringed with the scalps of the unrighteous, apparently), my two eldest cousins engaged in an enthusiastic post-bellum reconciliatory brotherly makeout (still shirtless – d’aww!), and Gabriel making retching noises from the aeroplane toilet whilst a tipsy flight assistant held back his hair (both also shirtless – gross). As such, I made the best of it and offered to go fetch everyone Bloody Marys from the plane’s abundant drinks cabinet, to which the response was heavily – and, I feel, unduly - acrimonious.

So, I stayed still and let Jo drool all over my shirtsleeve for the rest of the flight.

It was only after a remarkably queasy landing that we realised a Gabriel who has taken a turn for the totally ratarsed isn’t a Gabriel on top form to deliver the season premiere of his televised magnum opus. As a rule. The fact that by then he appeared to be speaking in monosyllabic bursts of Hebrew, in sentences largely without verbs, was something of an indication. So, in the name of Truth, Beauty and Stand-up Comedy, we grabbed him by the misshapen hair and dunked his head in the koi pond.

To no discernible effect.

Well, actually, to some. He switched back to English soon enough - though the result was equally garbled, if increasingly profane. But, overall, it turns out he was pretty damn wasted. Perhaps even more than he was pretending to be. Who’d have guessed?

Thing is, Gabriel gets predictably maudlin when smashed. As we disembarked, stumbling, from the vomit-scented confines of Mikey’s mobile air home into the cleaner atmosphere of Vancouver airport, he kept rattling on about how The Breakup (hushed, capitalised tones) had affected him… personally (both arms locked around Michael and Lucifer’s necks respectively, in what those who are in the know term The Battle-Grip of the Boozy) and what the knowledge that one heralds, to all intents and purposes, from a broken home can do to a man, like, spiritually and whatnot. (Based on the circumstantial evidence, I hazarded that all it does is make one more of a self-entitled prick, but Mike and Luce seemed annoyingly unimpressed with this leap of reasoning.) That the three of them managed to stumble their way down from the cockpit with luggage unbroken and limbs intact is something of a latitudinal enigma.

Anyway, to cut to the chase: we had a pantsless, dripping, overly loquacious TV-star-to-be on our hands, and only five hours in which to sober him up. We also had about three quarters of the Customs queue staring at us in utter perplexity, so discretion had already been ruled out of the equation. For my part, I unzipped my travel case, draped my spare bamboo fibre stole round his shoulders – and I have to say, the glaring purple knitwear made for a surprisingly attractive contrast with the unhealthy flush of his cheeks – then gamely elbowed Jo awake. For Michael and Lucifer’s part – well, at this point they were a little preoccupied with playing with each other’s hair and whispering sections of The Threepenny Opera to one another to notice their immediate surroundings, but I could scarcely find it in myself to blame them. We cleared the queue in record time, primarily because nobody seemed to have the stomach to look us in the eye - thus making the retina scans more than a little awkward – and skedaddled the crap out of there before anyone had the chance to notice that Lucifer had presented his Wheatgrass Smoothie Bar loyalty card in lieu of his passport.

Afterwards, we still had four and a half hours to kill, and approximately seven and a half units of alcohol to expel from Gabe’s much-abused system. (Dude’s an incorrigible lightweight – in every sense of the word – which really didn’t help matters.) We sat down in the main entrance. He spent a little while making pained sort of squeaks like he’d just been stabbed every time the tiniest ray of light fell on his face – in a manner which, overall, you couldn’t help but take pity on. We actually ended up going back through Customs and into the main gateway-type area because there were “Too many, ugh, windows and shit” [sic] in the outside waiting rooms… whereupon we were promptly confronted by a veritable plethora of wall-length windows. Gabriel couldn’t understand why I found this so hilarious; although it could be that he was too busy trying to hurl himself into the X-Ray machine for cover to care.

After that, Mike and Luce dragged him into the Men’s room to splash some water on his face. And, provisionally, to convince him to wear pants.

Having already washed our hands of that particular campaign, Jo and I shrugged our assent, and headed over to commandeer a couple of nearby DDR machines. A large group of rather depressed-looking tourists waiting for the delayed flight at Gateway Seven surveyed us miserably.

Fifteen dollars later, and twenty minutes into Lisa Scott-Lee’s fifth clarification as to exactly how and why her boot-scootin’ baby was drivin’ her crazy, I caught the tail-end of what sounded like an exceptionally long diatribe, overly enunciated in a particularly grating tenor swagger. Familiarly grating.

“…And that’s when the Archangel says: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For I have eyes as flame and wings that were as drifted snow… until I thought to use Head and Shoulders!””

“Five, six, seven, eight!”

I nearly fell off the dance machine.

Where previously, there had been a crowd of morose, sand-spattered sightseers, looking as though the toll of every hour announced the gradual diminishment of their will to live, and the concurrent strengthening of their urge to commit hari-kari with their plastic beach spades – now, there was a delighted looking audience, for whom the trauma of countless, astonishingly uninformative raids on the local Tourist Information centre was already beginning to recede into a distant dream. Nevermore would they be forced to ask that perennial question: “What the hell is there to do in Burnaby?” Instead, they faced the front, listened, rapt, and remembered what it was to laugh.
And before them, stood Gabriel, clad in his stegosaurus-print boxers, closing a triumphant grin around every rapid-fire witticism, with my purple stole tied jauntily around his hips. I hesitate to admit this, but to give my most infuriating cousin his due, it seems his improvisational skills are perilously close to being as impressive as advertised.
At this point, Jo turned around, and also nearly fell off the dance machine.

“How… the hell?” she managed.

“It’s obvious,” I replied. “He’s superhuman.”

Which is all very well for Gabriel. But as I sit here watching him charm an entire airport full of hitherto-disgruntled vacationers through sheer force of slightly off-kilter wit, I can’t help but feel an odd sense of… dissatisfaction? Which is ridiculous, because out of the two of us, it’s obvious who is the more stable and self-actualised. Isn’t it? I have a job I adore. A blog that puts me on par with notable micro-celebrities like LittleKuriboh, That Guy With the Glasses or that cat that flicks its tail along to the Macarena in terms of vague Internet renown. I’m happily in love, to the extent that I’m willing to forgive being soundly beaten at Dance Dance Revolution by my scarily flexible spouse – and, moreover, I’ve been reunited and reconciled with certain sides of the family I swore I would always despise. It’s everything I could have hoped for, and more.

And yet.

I suppose it’s just this strange conviction that everybody else has achieved some form of epiphany since Dad left. Rachel’s getting married. Mike and Luce got back together. Cas is getting his novel published, Gabe finally made it to Vancouver, Balthie admitted he needs serious professional help, and for the first time in his life, Raph extended a hand to help a fellow human being. So what do I get?

I get to be the audience. I get to watch it all happen. And for the umpteenth time since adolescence, I get to sit back, relax and let Gabriel steal the show.

Am I being petty? Probably. But, as great as it is to be speaking with everyone again, I can’t help but feel that it’s done nothing but put me firmly back in everyone’s shadow – and god, this is one of the reasons I left in the first place, you know? I need to do something new. Find something that’s all my own before everything else gets stale. Moreover, I need to stop typing right now before I say anything irredeemably pathetic.

So yeah. Signing off now. Check out Youtube if you’ve got the time; a few people at the airport have uploaded footage of Gabriel’s routine, and some of those John Donne sendups are pretty hilarious.

Anna

Chapter Text

To: import contacts list= "Miltons"; "Block List"
From: m.milton@chonaeoil.org
Subject: A Detailed and Objective Account of the Formation of the SRGTS (AABS)

My beloved relatives, of all personal philosophies, political affiliations and varying degrees of societal value,

I am writing to you from the newly formed Socialist Republic of Gateway Thirty Six (And Adjacent Bathroom Stalls). Its citizens have implored me to refer to it by name in this email, so as to spread the word. Magnanimously, I have agreed. I have not, however, attached a copy of their charter. I distributed your email addresses to the correct officials, who can do so on their own time.

No, seriously, check it out. I've heard you get, like, a complimentary tube of peanut butter lip balm if you sign their online petition. Wa-hey! Vancouver, eh?

For the record, in case it wasn't already abundantly obvious, that was Lucifer. Please, feel free to assume that any blatant non sequiters, flights of informality and/or gratuitous rearrangements of common adages are Lucifer's.

Nah, it's okay - I'll rearrange my gratuitous informality in italics! See? Presto! Instant recognisability.

How altruistic. I'm sure Anna would congratulate your commitment towards bettering the reading comprehension of Miltons worldwide. Speaking of which - and to return to the matter at hand - our cousin has been, to put it lightly-busy.

I'll say. She still hasn't jumped down from that chair. It's been, like, three hours. I honestly didn’t know that anyone could orate for that long without running out of words in the English language, or spontaneously combusting, or something. Should someone dial 911? Or whatever the freakish Canadian equivalent is?

I believe the freakish Canadian equivalent is 911.

Don't be a close-minded doofus, Mikey - everyone knows the Canadians always have bizarre, alien counterparts to perfectly ordinary everyday items. It's like, Loreena McKennitt? TOTALLY the creepy, lemur-eyed Canadian clone of Kate Bush, if Kate Bush weren't British. Am I right?

I have no idea who either of those people are.

You have got to be shitting me, dude. 'Heathcliff' is only OUR SONG. Callous dick.

You aren't referring to 'Wuthering Heights', are you

Michael, our life is Wuthering Heights.

-because I never read it.

Oh, right, shall we pick out a nice ROCK to summarise our relationship instead?

I always felt that biotite hornfelses were a reasonable representation.

... Okay, I just Google-imaged it on Castiel's iPhone, and are you freaking serious? That sucker has a face that only a mother could love. When you think of the two of us, do the words 'brittle' and 'gray' automatically spring to mind or something?

There are a variety of hornfelses. Feel free to pick out another.

Jesus Christ on a faulty ski lift, you're doing the rock nerd thing again. Do you think if I asked one of the protesters nicely, they'd let me slit my wrists with one of their badge pins?

It might improve the upholstery. What proportion of the airport's budget do you think they spend on these seats?

Probably about as much as they spend on security. I can't believe no-one's got around to arresting us yet.

Freedom of expression, Lucifer. Believe me. The family lawyer made it all very clear on his Twitter. I forwarded printscreens to management. Suffice it to say, we could probably open a dual abortion and assisted suicide clinic on the premises and no one would bat an eyelid. Or, for that matter, eyelid a bat.

Yeah, okay, I appreciate your attempt to relate to me on a vernacular level, but you realise the whole axiomatic mix-n'-match thing only works when it's funny, right. Someone did explain that to you once? Funny?

No one ever thought to explain the concept of 'tact' to you, did they, Lucifer? Except, come to think of it, I distinctly remember offering on numerous occasions throughout our childhood.

You mean that time you tried to enrol me in a finishing school in Alabama? I was eight, Mike. Never again would I cut my spaghetti with a spoon.

I thought it would look good on your CV. That, and I don't see what you were so worried about. They rejected your application on the grounds of sponsor ineligibility.

You were ten, Mike.

I was precocious, and I expected them to realise that. Shove over; you're hogging the keyboard.

Hey Ifsdjfn66wju6fnu

As I was saying, we're writing from the SRGTS (AABS). I'm not entirely sure why we're writing at all. Presumably to document living history. Lucifer?

Nope, I'm keeping shtum. Wouldn't want to hog the keyboard, after all.

Fair enough. Then I suppose I get full control of our iTunes account, too. Verdi it is. Don't protest - we have a political movement to immortalise.

I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start from the beginning.

The residents of Gateway Thirty Five were listening with rapt attention to Gabriel's attempts at stand up comedy (personally, I thought the one man Enoch II sketch was rather good), as Anna stared somewhat distractedly out the hallway's floor-to-ceiling windows. We had approximately four hours and twenty seven minutes to waste, and, as Lucifer and I were reasonably sure that even Gabriel would be in dire need of Soothers and caffeine by the end of the world's longest impromptu stage show, we established home base. Home base serves rather good chow mein, for the record: if anyone feels the pressing need to buy out an established purveyor of Canadian Chinese cuisine (with a four star health rating and three-for-two prawn crackers free with every purchase), I'll inform the owners of your decision.

Fuck yes, hostile-business-takeover the CRAP out of this place, people - it is legitimately the best shitty airport meal I have ever shared with a bored-looking Doberman puppy crouched under the adjacent table, whilst its owners were distracted by Gabe’s Moses on Masterchef sketch. (That said, I’m pretty sure the tricksy sonnuvabitch stole my chopsticks while I wasn't looking.) I mean, hell, stock up on enough local enterprise, and we might even set the venerable Milton institution of inept criminal dependency a-teetering, right?

Also, let me take the opportunity to state for the record - with the three squillion or so random family members we’re contacting for some reason acting as my witnesses - that Verdi fucking sucks, and screw you Michael for bringing him into this. ‘The Four Seasons’? More like ‘Four ways to make sheet music look like Jackson Pollock’s 101 Dalmatians, and brutalise public consciousness with the subsequent randomised screeching’. Ye gods.

But yeah, back to witnessing history in the making. (Which is difficult to do when you keep getting blindsided by TRULY AWFUL COMPOSERS.) So, Anna’s still quasi-comatose from introspection when suddenly, out of the blue – or, well, out of Starbucks – ambles a nonchalant-looking flight attendant, placidly stirring sugar into her Grande Frazzled Espressorino (Decaffeinated), or whatever. (It was green; I dunno.)

Luce, we're listening to Aida. That you can confuse a mezzo-soprano lamenting about her lover's doom with a series of violin concertos speaks volumes about your cultural education. There again, you've also managed to confuse Verdi with Vivaldi, of all people, so I should probably dismiss your cultural education as a lost cause. You never cease to amaze me, you know?

Love you too, you tone-deaf sack of shit. (But seriously, why would anyone remotely civilised or sane need to know anything about Verdi or Vivaldi besides the fact that they both start with V, and they’re both talentless hacks? Like, what else is there to learn? The answer is: even less than there is to distinguish, so suck it.)

But, about the staff member. Who was, for the record, drinking a green tea Frappuchino (you should probably know this, Lucifer) (seeing as it's my favourite drink). She was looking blissful and delighted (as one does, when confronted by a green tea Frappuchino) (not that you would know) when her manager approached. Now, we were mildly concerned - after all, we hadn't yet contacted our lawyer, and our younger brother had just wriggled past airport security in order to perform standup for half a dozen bemused frequent flyers - especially given the man had the kind of expression on his face generally reserved for pitbulls and school nurses.

Except, he wasn't interested in us. He didn't even smile when Gabriel told the one about fallen angels, ploughshares and guyliner. Single-mindedly, with grim determination, he headed towards the lady with the excellent taste in caffeinated beverages.

So, the flight attendant glances up over her mug of radioactive sludge, looking not even mildly appalled by its grossness, greenness or honest-to-god luminescence… and immediately begins to cower before the one-man cavalcade of impotent frustration and rage looming above her. Exercising the ol’ menacing-innocent-bystanders muscles with INTENT. Like, he’s glaring directly at her and her incandescent cup of cancer with the force of a thousand middle-management lackeys locked into mindless capitulation to The Man. At this moment, I was honestly scared for us all.

Then he curls back his lip into this heavy, super-mutilated snarl, and says to her: “WRAAARGH, I am the evil anthropomorphic personification of corporate tyranny, and I have come to ANNIHILATE your SOUL with my arbitrary dress code constraints!”

“Oh no!” she squeaks, in really squeaky terror. “Not my soul! Not my immaculate dress sense!”

Or rather, the mild-mannered, eminently reasonable manager - sniffling into his handkerchief and looking justifiably harried, even as he set his loudly buzzing phone to mute - asked the flight attendant whether she was aware that she wasn't wearing regulation uniform. Guiltily, she admitted that it was laundry day, and promised that she would wear a blouse in the correct shade of magnolia tomorrow.

He wasn't satisfied. Then again, I wouldn't be, either, regardless of the subtle good taste hinted at by the lady's Starbucks order. After all, uniform regulations are the foundation of authority, and flouting them sows the seeds of sedition within any business' ranks. Just last year, Chonae Oil's middle management threatened strike action over the company cracking down on fingerless gloves at staff briefings, and I'm reasonably sure that the whole fiasco had its roots in one secretary's insistence on the validity of Visual Kei as a mode of expression in the workplace.

That aside, the manager raised his voice, and the air hostess looked too close to tears for anyone's comfort, and, to be fair, pink isn't actually 'diametrically fucking opposed' to magnolia, necessarily.

So, the anthropomorphic personification of rampant corporate douchefuckery raves with nigh Shakespearian aplomb at the cowering, innocent, fashion-forward employee with the rotten taste in frappuccinos like there’s no tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Meanwhile, all this time, little Annie – our protagonist, ladies and gents! – is overhearing all this vitriol, expression edging into that steady, impenetrable corpseface she gets when she’s pissed beyond human comprehension.

Showtime.

The lights dim. The background noise stutters to a hush.

Anna gets up out of her seat, strides on over, and proceeds to flay the living verbal fuck out of Mr. Slavering Tool.

“How DARE you try to impinge upon this woman’s right to express her individuality through attractively-coloured, pastel-hued, work-appropriate clothing! How dare you attempt to smother the creative potential of a fellow human being in its cradle with your tawdry, propagandistic totalitarian bilge! How dare you slander the colour pink! You, sir, are the most wretched piece of putrefied crap the capitalist system ever deigned to excrete, and I PITY THE CANADIAN POPULACE FOR BEING SUBJECTED TO YOUR WORTHLESS REEK.”

The personification of commercial tyranny directs his attention towards this new challenger, with a sadistic glint to his (squinty) (jaundiced) (disproportioned) eye. “Is that right, puny proletarian scum? Well, I happen to ENJOY abusing my PITIFUL, WOEBEGONE, UNDERPAID workforce, and I shall PROCEED TO DO SO UNTIL PHYSICALLY COMPELLED TO DO OTHERWISE!”

Anna shoots him a look of loathing. “You truly are detestable,” she tells him, shaking her head in enraged disbelief, whilst simultaneously reaching behind her back for the steel katana she happened to have packed earlier. “In which case – I, ANNA HARVELLE-MILTON, CHALLENGE YOU TO A DUEL

So, I would like to take a moment to assure anyone still reading this email: the above is not actually what happened.

If you genuinely believe that the above is possible in the universe you're currently inhabiting, you have qualified for a grant from the family therapy fund. Well done. Contact Raphael.

Otherwise, read on.

See, although the SRGTS (AABS) has my full and continued (if not financial) support, I'm hesitant to condone its humble routes. For one thing, I don't see what possesses anyone to pair – to unironically pair - a pastel pink blouse and a maroon blazer jacket (with navy piping). For another, Lucifer didn't quite made it clear that there are uniform regulations at Vancouver Airport, and that this particular Frappuchino-swigging employee was disregarding them. She wasn't even telling the truth about it being laundry day - some people have the most obvious tells.

I'll concede that it was unprofessional of the manager to lecture her on colour coordination. Even so, Anna's reaction was somewhat disproportionate. I don't understand why she took it so personally, either - she could have filed a complaint with the man's superior, and it wasn't as though the flight attendant could justifiably claim to have suffered emotional trauma and/or discrimination on the grounds of colour-blindness.

All that, however, is irrelevant. Because something miraculous occurred. So miraculous, in fact, that I'll allow Lucifer to type, if he promises not to spill sweet and sour maple syrup on my keyboard.

Michael, you’re my brother, and I love you to a degree almost pathological, but I’ve gotta be honest here. You have no freaking clue how to spin a believable yarn, y’know? I mean, for someone who I’m convinced absolutely MUST wax his eyebrows –because let’s face it; nobody’s facial hair is that goddamn tidy au natural –you’ve got one hell of a psychological beef about waxing lyrical. Sometimes a story needs more than just some sparse contextual framework and the obligatory snippet of snark or five - and this story in particular deserves so much more. This isn’t just inane dinner table smalltalk-in-the-making: this is COLOSSAL. It’s more than a stick to poke Raphael with in the future; it’s practically ALLEGORY. Proof positive that the human spirit (as represented by Anna) can throw a stone of unstoppable rhetoric at the vast, hulking Goliath of economic privilege (as represented by Sir Jerkface of Jerkchester on his mighty steed, Jerkington) and watch as the entire edifice of ignorance crumbles.

Anna is no longer a person. She’s a living legend. She’s Joan of Arc, Helen of Troy, Jesus of Nazareth and Bruce Springsteen all rolled into one, diminutive red-haired package.

And because I know that otherwise these shitloads of symbolic nuance would fly straight over your head, I embellish. Friggin’ sue me.

Anyway, so Anna proceeds to give Officer Pukebreath the 411 on why he’s the douchiest douchelard ever to douche – but like, I guess, calmly, in actuality? She puts an arm around tearstained-but-stylish-employee-with-the-taste-for-neon-Starbucks-monstrosities– who has the grace to give a grateful sniff - and explains exactly why it’s out of line to lecture someone on their fashion preferences until they burst out crying. And Michael and I can’t help but notice that people are, well, noticing. Like, all around, there’s total hush, as everyone in Gateway Thirty Six tunes in to the one-woman wonder making a stand against aesthetic injustice. And then SHE starts to notice that people are noticing, too.

So she climbs up onto the nearest chair, and starts to address them.

“Denizens of Gateway Thirty-Six!” she begins, and yes, I swear to god Michael, that IS what she actually said so keep your hands off the keyboard already. “Allow me to present to you an example of classic workplace injustice! Yes, admittedly, one employee being lectured over her choice of clothing is, on the surface, seemingly trivial. But look deeper and the cracks of institutional despotism begin to show.” She pins them with a blazing look – and I, for one, cowered. “Do we really live in a society in which the colour of one’s button-down blouse is more fundamental to a person than the contents of one’s heart? Because I am amazed that we, as a nation, could have sunk so low.” (Presumably she meant Canada as a nation.) (I wasn’t about to argue the specifics.) “Ask yourselves. Is this really a culture of which I want to be a member? Is this really an airport of which I can be proud? The answer, Gateway Thirty-Sixers, is no! No, it is not! Because this idea is vapid, sexist, discriminatory and vile! But I look around here, right now, and I do not see people who are vapid, sexist, discriminatory and vile. No. I see people who are decent, talented, non-judgemental and bright! Now, answer me –WILL YOU STAND FOR THIS?”

There was a dim sort of silence. The air hostess sniffled bravely. Even Gabriel had stopped talking.

Somewhere, a toddler started to cry, but its voice was quickly stifled.

Eventually, a man wearing an 'I Went to Moldova and All I Got Me Was This Lousy Applique' shirt stood up. He was about the same age as the air hostess, and spoke in a thick Chinese accent. He said, "Yes, um, very good. I agree."

After a moment of contemplation, a teenage girl with five piercings in one ear and a neon pink sports bag stood up, too. And she said, "That was kind of out of line, dude. She has a point." Then, with rather more enthusiasm: "Hey, aren't you that famous blogger? The one who wrote that article on free trade beehive manufacture and its impact on the sustainable candle industry?"

It seemed, in that moment, that Anna might become side-tracked by the rare chance to autograph various fans' Milton paraphernalia, but, in what was a feat of extraordinary short-sightedness (did she not realise what an opportunity this was for publicity?) she remained resolute.

"One moment," was all she said. "I asked a question."

And, just like that, the entire gateway burst into murmured assent.

"She's right," said a pensioner. "My god - she's right."

A man with three children started to cry. "Someone finally understands," he said. "People are beautiful."

Once more, morality triumphed over common sense. Lucifer looked positively ecstatic. Temporarily forgotten, the manager didn't quite know what to do with himself. He shuffled from foot to foot, face turned grim.

Ecstatic? Try satisfied at the swift implementation of justice! I’m telling you, guys. ALLEGORY. Pure allegory, right there, plain as the fastidiously tended eyebrows on your face: straight up, my-life-is-awesome, everyone-else-go-home style allegory. Man, I’m telling you: CANADA. Seriously. And even better? Was that it didn’t stop at that. I mean, sure, it might have just fizzled out after a few spurts of quasi-unanimous muttering – but, as is, Anna stood her ground (chair) (whatever), still and silent as an arthritic mime, only with POISE, yknow? –and fixed them with a weird, needle-sharp sort of hyper-stare that managed to be both equal parts hopeful and demanding. Like, as if to show that she was really, really excited and humbled at how much grudging support she’d garnered– but also, if we just dropped it after that, she’d most likely kill us with her mind.

And hell, faced with a look like that, how could you just roll your eyes and hide behind the pages of Cactus Lovers Quarterly, or resume watching the season finale of Teen Giraffe on your iPhone?

You couldn’t. That’s how. Some flagrant attempts at emotional blackmail are just DESIGNED to be capitulated to. This one was individually tailored to it, after five separate fittings and an hour-long session in which a team of expert fashion consultants deliberated over the exact proportion of lace to Venetian glass buttons – and look, basically, what I’m saying here is that, despite her non-Machiavellian default, Anna has been inexplicably damn persuasive at sporadic intervals over her life, and this was one of them.

Clearly everyone else thought so too. Because round about the time that one dude dissolved into tears, all of Gateway Thirty Six was awash with reverent babble. Suddenly, Moldova Man and Sports Bag Girl weren’t the only ones standing. In fact, a whole bunch of people left their seats, totally disregarding their scattered luggage – and the correspondent hungry looks in the eyes of the surrounding security staff - in order to yell their support. Emboldened, a few people even clambered up onto some more chairs in the wake of the din. It was chaos, my little cherry clafoutis!

I'm not entirely sure where any of those metaphors were going - hurtling down the Highway of Lowbrow Absurdism towards the Overpriced Gas Station of Rampant Incomprehensibility, no doubt - but nonetheless, they're probably adequate to describe the anarchy into which Gateway Thirty Six descended. Gabriel came over to make mildly amusing remarks about the protestors, unwittingly dragging half of Gateway Thirty Seven into the fray. The Gateway Thirty Seveners were an enthusiastic sort of rabble, taking to tables far more readily than the native Thirty Sixans. Fortunately, once everyone was two feet off the ground, some semblance of order returned, mostly because nobody had to stand on tiptoes to see who they were meant to be shouting at. That was how the shouting metamorphosed into song.

The scarlet-eared, exceptionally bemused, significantly underpaid manager shook with what could have been fury, but was probably mortification, for about two verses of 'Build a Bonfire (Put the Prejudices of the Small but Overly Powerful Managerial Minority on the Top)'. Then, he began to speak.

"Well," he said, and stopped. A lone voice warbled 'put Vancouver Airport's deluded force of grope-happy security staff in the middle', but tailed off when its owner realised that no one was singing along.

"Well," said the manager, "I don't see what you can do. It- it's not like you own the place!"

Which puts a bit of a dampener on things, admittedly. There are a few muted ‘oh’s, and a general deflating of hitherto hitched-up angry shoulders. People begin to look down a little awkwardly, like they’re not sure whether they ought to still be on a table, and they’re starting to suspect not, except it would be awkward to move. Like, they’re not certain of the etiquette of dismounting, but it’s certainly far from not being on the cards. Anna looks like she’s about to cry.

“He’s right,” murmurs the disillusioned-looking Frenchwoman with the Perambulating Rocks rucksack: gray hair bound up in an elaborate chignon; eyes swimming in ill-disguised anguish. “We… we don’t.”

“But that’s not fair!” exclaims the middle-aged investment manager in the wheelchair, with the ‘Come Visit Pigeonland!’ hoodie.

“Yeah, but what can we do?” says the eleven-year-old girl with the crew cut, fatalistically.

At this point, Anna visibly regains resolve. Straightening on her chair so that she towers above the slumped table-dwellers, she flings her arms into the air and proceeds to put her mouth where her money isn’t. “What can we do?” she asks, disbelievingly. She gives a heavy, iconoclastic chuckle. There’s a scattering of shorter, less certain chuckles from the surrounding audience. She politely waits for these to recede, before continuing. “Residents of Gateway Thirty Six, and migrants from Gateway Thirty Seven! The question is: what CAN’T we do?”

This is greeted with noisy, enthusiastic cheers. Everyone stands up now, fervour rekindled – eyes alight with the white-hot vigour of IMPENDING REVOLUTION.

Then there’s this awkward pause, as they realise something. “Um,” says the Frenchwoman again. “What… SHOULD we do?”

But Anna’s ready for this one. With a heady, manic glint to her smile, she speaks so softly, yet so firmly that it’s audible to everyone in the vicinity – and unmistakeable. “We take over.”

Luc

Lu

Lucifer, let go of the laptop and let me tell this part, now. Don’t even try to resist. I've mailed a draft of this email to myself - crude, I know, but effective. At the press of a button I'll finish writing it on my spare iPad, with none of your input. Trying to out-write me is futile, for the record. I have a typing speed of 150 adjusted WPM. They gave me a certificate for it in seventh grade, remember?

But, to get to the point: this was the critical moment in the Gateway’s revolution. The notion of rebellion duly seeded in everyone’s sleep deprived, flight-addled brains, we organised. As one force, with nary a Pidgeonland memorabilia-clad straggler, the occupants – now citizens- of Gateway Thirty Six began to build. Soon, a crèche for young Thirty Sixians had been established, opposite the communal baggage area. Rations were pooled in the centre of the adamite-green carpet. Numerous tourists donned shirts in varying shades of garish yellow, in solidarity.

The crowd of innocent bystanders had metamorphosed into something unsustainable and mildly delusional. It like a very progressive reimagining of the Stanford Prison Experiment, or a meeting between two local branches of the Green party. At any rate, it was a sight to behold. (Albeit a somewhat impressive one: the improvised town hall blanket fort was certainly a feat of architecture.)

Ten minutes later, Gabriel joined us, an arm around the shoulders of the quavering manager. Wordlessly, they sat, both looking decidedly sober. Neither appeared particularly happy about that. They drowned their sorrows in poutine and bamboo shoot stir fry.

Meanwhile, as for our sweet little Annie-get-your-gun? We’re talking major elation here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so satisfied since that time when she was twelve, and managed to use Dad’s credit card to buy eighty seven crates of root beer in order to stage a postmodernist re-enactment of Noah and the Flood for her end-of-semester Art project. Which is not to say that she’s shirking her duties as chief stateswoman of the new Republic! No, see, I truly do reckon she could have cut it as a leader of a small nation, had she bit the ethical bullet and sauntered down one of the many electorally dubious family avenues available to her – and also, you know, actually lasted longer than a week at college. (You gotta wonder: what was so great about the seventh day of seminars? Like, what made her stay for that long? Eh, who the hell knows, maybe there was free popcorn or something.) As is? Well. Let’s just say she did every last little megalomaniacal, micromanagerial scrap of the family proud. Never let it be said that a Milton can’t supervise the construction of the world’s first non-commercial airport mini-theatre using only promotional travel leaflets and bubble gum. Because if anyone ever actually said that, I now have photographical evidence to the contrary. (On that note, check my latest Twitter posts, dear Lucifollowers! I’ve posted firshand footage of the revolution that will. Blow. Your. Mind.)

That said, none of this is actually the point. The point is what we are seeing right now - at this very moment, in fact. Like, as in, this mini-narration has finally caught you up to speed on current events and is now operating wholly and completely in the present instant. Disregarding the slight – but now increasing – lag between actual, real-life, present events transpiring, and me dutifully transposing them into text, that is.

Currently, Anna and Jo, along with a bunch of delegates from each individual row of seats (as well as a couple of floor-dweller representatives), elected via proportional representation and secret ballot, are drawing up a treaty with the Gateway Thirty Seven ambassadors, and drafting a firm anti-discrimination policy for our new, non-denominational nation-state. But that’s not actually the point either, O Miltons innumerable!

The point is, Manager Doucheface. Who… I guess is actually looking several kinds of sheepish? I am willing to accept that I might have possibly been a little hasty to judge, with regards to that guy. He – maybe isn’t the anthropomorphic personification of rampant capitalist hegemony after all? At least, not too much? I am also willing to concede the point on the Pukebreath front, inasmuch as his breath probably doesn’t really smell of puke. I guess. I mean, upon reflection, something just happened that made me suspect that under the vituperative façade - no doubt forged after year upon year of abrasive corporate dunderfuckery - he might actually be surprisingly decent?

Because he just approached Anna, tentative to the last syllable, and asked if he could maybe, possibly, perhaps provisionally or partially be granted Thirty-Sixian citizenship.

To which – after the obligatory pause of appraisal - Anna beamed, and graciously assented.

Life is beautiful, people.

I must say, I would have wiped away a tear, were I the sort of person to tear up at the personal struggles of airport management. Nonetheless, I’d like to think that I’m invested in his story, if nothing more. Perhaps not to the same degree as Lucifer, but then, I doubt that I experience much of anything to the same degree as Lucifer.

Whilst we’re on the subject of people with whom I’m on a first name basis, and for the few of you who still care, Gabriel is still taking his time approaching what might best be described as ‘coercive, unhappy sobriety’. He’s pinching the bridge of his nose and wincing in between taking measured sips of his Canada Dry and devouring the contents of Lucifer’s plate (he finished his own five minutes ago).

Meanwhile, the Thirty Sixth Library is bustling with avid readers and iPhone users; the Bureau of Thirty Sixian Health is dispensing travel sickness pills; and a few wayward Thirty Sixers have gotten a baseball game going on a small pitch cordoned off with duct tape.

Harmony has been established.

The air hostess has recovered admirably. She’s enthralling the Thirty Sixan children (and most of the adults) with an impromptu medley of Han folk music and U2’s greatest hits. No one could find her a guitar, so she’s currently singing a capella. She isn’t half bad, either. I suppose it’s possible that it really was laundry day at her house? Besides, objectively speaking, her shirt’s not entirely hideous. Not that that excuses her behaviour.

…Actually, it seems that the manager agrees. He just loaned her his iPhone. She’s using the virtual keyboard app in lieu of the guitar.

Dude. Dude! You’re not telling it right. In fact, in the grand scheme of telling things right, you are a blip on the expository horizon. The quintessential failbard. A stark-faced affront to the good name of narration, and Jesus poledancing Christ, man, how can you come over all reticent about the details NOW of all times?

Can’t you SEE what is happening in FRONT of us as we TYPE? No, clearly you can’t. Because you are a man who can’t fathom a metaphor.

Guys. Compadres. Miltons et al. What Michael refuses to tell you is that these two people – once enemies poised at opposite ends of the barricades; now fellow citizens of the new Republic; brought together by circumstance, shitty beverages and political sedition – are hitting it off like a heavyweight boxing champ hits one of those cylindrical punch bag thingies in order to compensate for his deep-seated intimacy issues. Hitting it off like a generic, lab-cloned boy band composed of four chords and implausibly spiky hair hits the charts at a run. Hitting it off like you would not believe.

I mean, just look at the way their thumbs brushed, briefly yet tenderly, as the iPhone was exchanged – and the sudden, bashful pause that followed, only to be cut short by the resumption of the audience-participatory chorus of ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’. Look at the way he keeps pointlessly shuffling his feet, as though he’s not even sure what they’re supposed to be there for – like he’s practically forgotten what feet are meant to be! Look at the way she’s nervously tucking her hair behind her ear every five seconds or so, even though her hair is scraped back into two immaculate pigtails. There’s no hair to be rearranged, Michael! And as if that weren’t enough to cement this encounter as real, bona fide love-at-second-sight – well, look at the looks they keep darting at each other. As if looking at her, or looking at him, is like staring straight into the sun, and all they can risk is a single, skittering glance!

In short, it seems that after all this time, you still can’t recognise true love when it comes cartwheeling in from the ceiling, naked save for strategically placed dollops of glitter glue, in order to grace you with a contortionistic stunt display performed to the soundtrack of a thousand operatic cupids singing ‘Eternal Flame’. For which I pity you, Mike. I really do. Not the least because you have succeeded in missing the significance of this entire episode.

Think about it for a fractional mite of a second, why don’t you? Allow a little critical assessment to percolate through the statuesque plane of that alabaster brow. (Not too hard, though – right now you look like you just swallowed a bug; don’t strain yourself.) What do you notice? I’ll tell you what: every way you look at it, it fits. Michael, these two people are us in microcosm! Two sides of a political schism: brought together! Two sides of the familial gulf: reunited! In every conceivable way, they are a metaphor for us.

Wait, whoamygod, look – is he -? He is! Mike, he’s ushering her discreetly away from the group. This is it. He’s asking her out! Oh god, I can’t watch – this is too much. Take the keyboard – I need to see this properly.

Well, this is all very enthralling. Also, voyeuristic, but let's not examine that too closely, shall we? I don't see why we're all so invested in these people. Even my statuesque alabaster brow plane is capable of working out that we're nothing alike. If you think I'm at all comparable to an airport manager, please take a look at my next paycheck. Count the zeros. Then, just in case that doesn't quite sink in, have a look at my wardrobe.

And, not for nothing, Lucifer, but I'm fairly sure pseudo-me just got turned down by pseudo-you. Well then.

See, that would be somewhat disappointing, if I had an obsessive fixation on the daily lives of Canadians with a reasonable taste in smart-casual blouses. Which is to say, it isn't actually disappointing at all.

Do you think he came on too strong?

Well, YEAH, Michael, I think he came on too strong. Guess being a dick to someone and then apologising doesn’t automatically get you dates, huh? Who knew? Holy salad, what an absolute tool. Like, does he have any sense of proportion, or decency, or style whatsoever? Maybe she has a boyfriend, dude. Maybe she has a girlfriend. Maybe she has both! Or maybe she has neither, but she’s just not that into you. Contemplate that, sucker!

Honestly, Mike, I know you were hyper invested in those two, but I really do question the long term feasibility of a relationship based on misplaced fashion critique and U2. Call me a cynic, and all.

It’s okay, though. Pseudo-me may have just rejected pseudo-you, but real-me will never abandon real-you! I mean, I know you really built this up in your mind, till it became almost a weird kind of projected relationship forecast for the two of us – but you just need to relax, yeah? I mean, for one thing, I love magnolia. I actually cannot believe you didn’t remember that about me.

Hey, Gabriel’s starting to look a little antsy. Is it time for a mass Milton exodus, d’you reckon?

To think, I'd actually forgotten why we were here in the first place. Then again, so have three other air hostesses, two pilots and a security official, so I suppose it's just a side effect of proximity to The Revolution. I doubt anyone will notice us leaving.

Tell Gabriel to grab Anna and Jo if he wants to bring them with us, Lucifer. We'll just have to hear the results of Thirty Six's second general election by text. It shouldn't take much longer: ten minutes ago, they held a referendum to decide on their first voting system, and ballots are to be passed out in the next hour. (I funded their campaign, so here's hoping the Commuters National Party win a majority in the national legislature).

Yes, Gabriel, I do have travel sickness pills.

No, they aren't the kind that make you drowsy.

...And no, I don't know why Lucifer is insisting that I type the answers to your questions as well as saying them out loud. 'Posterity', apparently.

We should probably get going, before I'm forced to tell the family the entire contents of my briefcase, and/or sign a petition against pulling the wings off houseflies in Thirty Sixish territory. This is getting ridiculous, much like every other family holiday I have ever been blackmailed into attending over the course of my entire life.

Yours, with what borders on nostalgia,

Michael :)

P.S. The populace are lighting a ceremony bonfire by the ticket scanner, and a small child just put a chain of roses around Anna's neck. I think it's fair to say they noticed us leaving.

P.P.S. Keep it classy, folks! Next stop: Blow Gabriel Blow. Kisses!

- Lucy =D