As wars go, this one is a bit of a snooze fest. There's a lot of snarling going on, each side making plans that don't quite pan out and lead to more planning, lather, rinse and repeat. The biggest letdown, perhaps, is that Lucifer's really not much of a general. He relies on fate and God's Plan, and believes that if he just sits there, waiting, all that's supposed to be his will come to him without active involvement.
Most of the time, Meg's bored out of her skull. The most important lesson her father – Azazel, not this lousy excuse for a devil – ever taught her was to be on guard, be prepared and proactive. The one who puts up the playing field and makes the first move.
He certainly didn't learn that from Lucifer.
Ever since Carthage, all Lucifer does is sit around and map out the things that he's going to do once he's won. The thought that he might not, in fact, win doesn't seem to penetrate his mind. He goes on and on about destiny and how it's all going to happen and soon and how he'll make this world his, and... Yeah. No. She needs a break from that. And it's not like she risks missing out on any of the action if she flies out every now and then to amuse herself a bit. Get drunk. Raise some hell. Do what she's goddamned supposed to, being a powerful, ancient demon and all.
Turns out, that night, she's not the only ancient being out to drown the disappointment over father figures who don't live up to their legend in alcohol. Wayward angels wherever she goes, maybe this really is the apocalypse.
The dirty trenchcoat is unmistakable, would be a beacon in the ratty dive on the outskirts of Detroit even without the grace that stains it. Castiel's busy lining up shot glasses, doesn't notice her until she sinks down on the bar stool next to him. When he does, he looks at her like she's a blowfly that landed in the pool of cheap whiskey he left all over the counter. It makes anger boil up in her; as if he's got any right to act superior. He's the one siding with humanity, messing up the best laid plans of the holy Father he claims to love so much.
“What do you want,” he snarls, although it doesn't sound much like a question. She doubts he cares, at this point, and ah. Judging from the mood he's in it seems like the other side's not really on a winning spree.
If she thinks on that, it's possible he might not actually be that; the other side, the opposing party. In the grand scheme of things, Castiel and the Winchesters have been more help than serious trouble so far, keeping the real enemy occupied with the logistics of envesselment while Lucifer can, well. Wait in peace.
It's a travesty, really.
But, point is, Castiel isn't, technically, the enemy. He just happens to sit in between, shooting arrows every which way without really harming anyone, and so she decides it's not treachery if she sticks around. Misery loves company, after all.
She ignores his not-question, counters it with a few of her own. “Bad day in Camp Winchester? Where's your unwilling holy vessel?”
Castiel looks up at her, a look on his face that's caught somewhere between bafflement and disgust. “Why would you care, hell spawn?”
His words are slurred, and if she had any to spare, she'd feel pity for him. “I don't care, dumbo. It's called small talk. Friendly conversation.”
He huffs, glares at her some more, but apparently decides it doesn't matter much whether she's interested in what he has to say. It all pours out of him in a stumbling mess of words she can barely decipher: how he's been looking everywhere for God, only to be told second-hand that his Father doesn't give a damn. How he's not sure what to do next, if it even matters what he does when he knows that he's on his own in this. How hard it is to believe when even the person you believe in has turned their back. Bit of a pity party, all in all, but somehow, Meg can relate. She's got no sympathy to offer him, but what she does have is a free schedule for the night.
“Lets got out of here,” she says and hops off her stool.
Castiel flags the barman for his fifth refill since she got here and frowns. “You mean... together?”
“Yeah. Why not? We're not on the same side, but we're not really direct opponents right now either, are we?”
He seems to contemplate that, little booze-addled bird brain on full gear behind a furrowed forehead. “But you're a demon.”
“So? My kind makes for fine drinking buddies, I can promise you that much. At the very least, I'll be able to keep up with you.” All Castiel does in response to that is shrug, and Meg chooses to interpret that as an invitation. Or consent to hers. Whatever. “Okay. First, we need to get out of this dump.”
“And go where?” Castiel asks, with the indifference of someone who has stopped caring about where he drinks and only ever gives a damn about the fact that he's in supply of some kind of alcohol.
“Somewhere nicer,” she says, puts a hand on his shoulder, and the next time she blinks they're in the middle of –
– a bookstore. Okay, maybe she's more intoxicated than she thought, because last time she checked this was the best damn bar in Barcelona, if not all of Spain. She turns this way and that, but all she sees is more books. Castiel looks completely perplexed next to her, and a bit like he's about to hurl. Can angels even get sick? She grabs him by the shoulder and hightails it out of the busy store – she didn't account for the difference in timezones either, it's the middle of the day here – in case someone saw them materialize. She'd counted on having no other witnesses than drunken patrons, but people who buy books at noon tend to be sober, and the last thing she's in the mood for is a ruckus about the both of them appearing out of the blue.
Once outside, Castiel peers at her curiously. “You didn't purchase any books.”
“What?” Meg looks around, trying to recognize her surroundings. “I was aiming for a bar. Real nice, Roman décor, stucco and everything. You would've liked it. Either I missed my aim, or they converted it into a bookstore.”
“It's ephemeral,” Castiel remarks. “Everything in life is fleeting, especially alcohol.”
Yeah, getting smashed with an angel. Best idea she's had in ages. But they're here now – first time she's been to Spain in a good century, if she thinks on it, no wonder the bar's gone – and she's going to make the best of it. Meg's nothing if not adaptable. “Alright, feather-butt. Where do you want to go?”
A faraway look settles in his eyes, and Meg starts to suspect that she choose the wrong question even before he opens his mouth. “I miss Heaven, but they don't serve Whiskey there. Or Tequila. They don't serve Tequila either.”
Even if they would, that destination would be off the list, but if the angel wants Tequila, hey, she's got a solution to that. Another blink, and they're in Mexico, some place where she helped with a massacre and that she remembers fondly. It doesn't take them long to find another bar, but their Tequila isn't made for the long haul. After the third shot, it starts to taste like tap-water, not even the burn of the alcohol able to disguise that, and Meg decides to relocate them once again.
“You were right,” Castiel tells her as they chug the local beer in Manila. “Everything you said, you were right.”
Meg's very tempted to gloat, rub it into his face that yes, true, she told him so, but there's a haunted gleam in his eyes that she's more intimately familiar with than she'd ever admit out loud. Besides, if she'd do that, he might take offense, blink out and be gone, and she was just starting to have fun.
She leans forward, pats his cheek, pretends not to notice when he leans into the touch. “I know, baby. I know.”
More bars follow, all over the world, some familiar to her, some new to both of them. Sometimes he falls into another tirade, tells here that he looked for God not far from here, or a few miles from there. He looked for him everywhere. When that happens she zaps them someplace else to get him out of the rut, dives with whores dancing on a stage, dingy places that are all but godless anyway.
In Zurich he remembers that they're mortal enemies, points his finger at her over a glass of brandy and tells her he'll smite her just as soon as the bottle that sits on the table between them is empty. “One last drink,” he tells her. “Everyone deserves that.”
He never does. There's another bottle of brandy, and a bottle of schnapps in Leipzig after that, and maybe he forgets, or maybe he just doesn't want to be alone. There are always more last drinks. They follow the night around the globe, stretch it out and make it two. Twenty-four hours become forty-eight, and by the time they settle in a small corner bar in Paris, not far from the Notre Dame, they're both well and truly sauced.
He gets pissed sometimes, angelic wrath and grace bleeding through the cracks, but there's no real damage. The sight of the old church in the distance makes him angry, and a burp on the tail end of a rather unangelic Enochian curse causes a street light to explode and sends Meg into a giggle fit.
Castiel glares at her then, enough of his old self shining through that she wants to grip him by the shoulders and shake him until he shapes up and remembers who he is. As amusing as the drunken angel might be, she's embarrassed for him, too. Creatures like the two of them are supposed to be better than this, either graceful and righteous or dark and cruel and horrible. They shouldn't cower over empty bottles, on a bender like a salesman whose wife ran out with the postman and the family silver.
The thought distracts her enough that she doesn't notice him leaning over the tiny, narrow table until he presses his lips to hers. It's clumsy, messy, getting spit all over both their chins and clicking their teeth together painfully on the first try, but she finds she doesn't mind. He's not bad at it, per se, just inexperienced, and with a little direction she manages to lead the kiss into something better, slow and deep and the good kind of filthy. His grace singes through her like an electric current, makes the hairs on her arms stand on end, but it's a good pain and it fades quickly.
When they part, she's got to catch her breath before she can speak. “Making out with a demon? I'm sure your God wouldn't approve of that.”
Castiel cuts his eyes away, then glances back up with renewed fire in his eyes. “God isn't here. He's gone. And, as someone told me recently, iniquity is one of the perks.”
Meg has a theory on who might have coined that phrase, but she's not going to argue with it. They find a small hotel near the Eiffel tower, book a room neither of them ever intends to pay for. It's quite charming, all made for lovers, with little bouquets on every surface and a single, long-stemmed rose on each pillow. Meg cuts her finger on one of them, sucks on it to get the blood off while she heals it, thinks Castiel doesn't notice while he's busy peeling himself out of his suit.
Once their clothes are off, he looks down, embarrassed and a little sheepish with the rumpled tie still around his neck. “I've never done this before,” he admits.
She throws her head back and laughs, kisses him quick when he glares at her. “Of course you didn't, sweetie. I've got this, lean back and enjoy the ride.”
Meg makes him lie down and straddles him, keeping him close with the tie wrapped around her hand. He lets her take what she wants, and she gives him what he didn’t know he could have.
The first time Castiel sees her after he voluntarily spilled all his marbles so Sam Winchester could keep his, he starts screaming and doesn't stop for twenty minutes. Meg almost looses her newly-acquired job on the spot and is about this close to running out. Screw the Winchesters and their alliance due to mutual enemies. Screw Castiel. There's a point she won't sink below, and this very nearly it. The only thing that keeps her in place while the director of the asylum chews her out is to imagine all the ways in which Dean could have the skin ripped off his body, right there on the desk, to distract herself. Not as much fun as it used to be, that mental image, but she does leave the office with a smile on her face.
After that bumpy reunion of sorts, Castiel tolerates her. He doesn't say a thing, kneels in a corner or sits on the bed as he stares at her, but it'll do for now. They don't need to chat in order for her to prove that she can handle him. It's not her job to heal him, make him better, offer therapy. She's here to watch over him, and that's what she's going to do. Nothing less, nothing more.
When he does find his words, she soon wishes he wouldn't have. Castiel babbles about everything, a fair share of it in Enochian. Ancient battles, missions he's been sent on, and what she suspects is five or more centuries worth of heavenly gossip. Sometimes he looks at her like he's waiting for an answer, but when she attempts one, he glares at her and changes the topic.
It's a thankless job, babysitting an angel.
Things get somewhat more complicated when he rediscovers his angelic abilities. She has no idea how he stumbled across them, if he lost them and they're coming back to him bit by bit or if he's just forgotten, but it makes her life that much harder. Castiel develops childish glee at making things explode. Little stuff, granted, but after a while even those can make for a pattern that has people wondering. A few weeks in, he starts zapping himself places. She walks into his room with his breakfast on a tray one morning, and finds him gone without a trace.
She can sense him, but even so her borrowed heart beats faster as she rushes through the hallways – not because she's worried, it's just that she doesn't like failing her mission, even if it's such a bullshit one – until she finds him in the janitor's closet. He holds a light bulb up at her, and for the first time since they got stuck here, maybe for the first time ever, he smiles at her.
“Come on, halo patrol,” she says and lays a hand on his shoulder. “Lets go back before anyone sees you.”
Another day, another round of follow-the-feathers. It's easy enough; even as a broken angel, he's still an angel, and a demon always knows.
Meg follows the buzzing crackle of his presence to the garden, where he's squatting in front of the rosebushes with his face in the flowers. She's about to step onto the grass when she hears the familiarly stern, "Nurse Masters."
That fucking – "Nurse Stanton."
"You shouldn't let your charge go gallivanting off on his own."
"Too true," Meg says through her deal-with-Nurse-Stanton rictus. "I'll just go and gallivant off after him. That okay with you?"
Nurse Stanton says, "Hmph," and Meg goes.
When she gets close enough to him to see, she curses. "Clarence, for fuck's sake."
"Yes, many things indeed," Castiel mutters as Meg squats beside him and grabs his hands, bloody from the thorns, “have been done for the sake of a fuck.”
She doesn't pay attention to the pun, if it is one. There are more pressing concerns. "You can heal these, right?"
"Humans," Castiel sighs, "and their fucking. Take bees for example."
"We will not,” Meg says. “Castiel, heal the cuts."
He pointedly ignores her, plucks a rose from the bush with his still-bloody hands and contemplates it intensely. “You bled too.”
Not like he's wrong, but before she has a chance to ask him to elaborate he gets up, holds his hands out in front of himself as if for inspection while he heals the cuts and makes the blood disappear. When he's done, she rewards him with an approving nod and herds him back inside.
Halfway there, Castiel stops and looks back at the rosebushes.
“I remember Paris,” he blurts out and then turns around to stare at her, eyebrows raised, like the ball's in her court now and she's supposed to be the one who knows how to go from there.
“So do I. It's a good memory, isn't it?”
He inclines his head, like he needs to think about that before he answers, and she barely refrains from pointing out how impolite that is. A girl might get offended. Not her, of course. Someone with less confidence in their talents between the sheets. Eventually, he says, “Yes. It was pleasant.”
Nurse Stanton glares at them from the window in the hallway, and Meg doesn't want to give her any more fodder to nag about her to the director. She tugs at Castiel to get him to follow her inside, away from prying eyes. With another glance at the roses, he yields, lets himself be guided into the direction she wants. Back in his room, he gets distracted by a moth trapped under the shade of his bedside lamp and how it changes the shadows it throws when he turns it on and off, and doesn't seem to be interested in picking the topic back up. Neither of them mentions Paris again.
Well. At least not until over a year later, when he got his marbles back, she's out of Crowley's claws, and they both decide it's time for another bender.