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Castiel manages to convince Raphael that if he must die, it should not be for a war but for the peace. Inspired by the song Brave by Sara Bareilles.

"Have you forgotten how to heal, Raphael, or are you afraid that without God, you cannot? That you are nothing without him? Why not prove yourself worthy of your name?"

Raphael looks up, and the fire dances along his skin, and pours into his words, flickering along them as matches thrown upon the earth, hungry and ready to burn.

"What did you say?", soft fury.

But Castiel will not be intimidated. He holds the Archangel's wrathful glare evenly.

"Why not be brave?"

LUCIFER

You can be amazing

You can turn a phrase in

to a weapon or a drug

You can be the outcast

Or be the backlash

of somebody's lack of love

Or you can

start speaking up

Raphael remembered the morningstar, the brightness and the love and the joy that had he had sent out like pollen on the wind, catching all around him in a glow of happiness that reached far beyond his wings.

He remembered losing that light, too, and the destruction that seared itself onto their Graces, the horror and the agony and the ache, a brand that burns even now.

He looks upon the Angel that asks him to question, just as Lucifer once did, but beyond that cannot find any reason Lucifer would have anything in common with him, even as he plants that seed of doubt in the Angel's thoughts as to who returned him. But the Angel is too sure of God's will, too caught up in the strings of fate to listen, and perhaps it is better for that, since Lucifer really would have had no reason to bring him back. But the alternative breeds a despair that is black and tar-like within him, that Father would keep so silent for so long, only to expend his energies upon a seraphim like Castiel.

Of course, maybe it was a point to Castiel's cause, the only angel in Heaven or Hell to take it up.

GABRIEL

Nothing's gonna hurt you

the way that words do

When they settle 'neath your skin

Kept on the inside

and no sunlight

Sometimes the shadows win

But I wonder what would happen if you

Was Gabriel truly alive, as Castiel said? Raphael wanted to deny the possibility, wanted to smite the angel where he stood, demanding so much of Raphael, pulling up emotions long buried away to keep from tearing his Grace apart.

Raphael had mourned worse than most. He had found himself a failure to his name and the duty he bore to God, to Gabriel, the healer unable to reach his brother's side when he was in need. Alone.

Raphael had spent many years thinking of how alone Gabriel must have felt as he died. Now, as he let the anger and rage flush through his vessel, he admits to himself that he must not have been far off. That Gabriel must have dreaded it, been torn between staying and leaving.

Gabriel and he had always been afraid of being alone. While Gabriel had found himself choosing that over the loss of his brethren, Raphael reacted to Gabriel's death in the exact reverse way. Finding himself without Lucifer and Gabriel had made him hold even tighter to Michael, to retreat to his side and stay ever closer.

MICHAEL

Say what you wanna say

And let the words fall out

Honestly

I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say

And let the words fall out

Honestly

I wanna see you be brave

And Michael. What could be said about that? He dreaded not only opposing but simply confronting Michael. He had learned to ignore his brother's faults and love him wholly and completely. The love he would have otherwise spent on his younger siblings he instead lavished upon Michael, hoping that he might bring his brother back from the wayward place his Grace had found itself in, lost to the past, only coming back to the future when one thing was mentioned.

The Apocalypse.

Was it any surprise that Raphael had gladly joined his brother's campaign? In his fear of loneliness he had entrapped himself in Michael's existence. But he'd learned to fear the pain that came with love, and so disassociated himself, withdrew from all those he did not already know, refused to meet all his countless younger siblings and love and lose them, too.

He had found himself wanting for the Apocalypse, for an end.

For if Michael killed Lucifer, there was no doubt in Raphael's mind that he would not hesitate to turn the blade upon himself after the deed was done. And then Raphael would be alone.

And Raphael knew it would only be a matter of time before he ended his life, too. For so long he had teetered on the edge, in between a will to live and a want for death. He had seen death, had pulled it away from so many, but had watched the peace of it wash over those few in his care that it did claim.

But until then Michael needed him.

I just want to see you

I just wanna see you

I just wanna see you

I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you

I just wanna see you

I just wanna see you

I wanna see you be brave

"Will you?"

"Let me out." No. He would be faithful to Michael, would not force Michael to do what he had had to do to Lucifer.

"Please, Raphael, for Father." Castiel is not so much urging him as begging him. But there is a lack of desperation there, and Raphael knows desperation, has felt the reek of it

through his grace on the battlefield when so many are dying around him.

He has almost always been able to remedy it.

"You never met Father." will never meet, no matter resurrected him.

"I do not know why he brought me back unless to finish what I started."

"Why come to me?"

"I could feel it as you killed me. I felt it in your Grace, Raphael, do not believe me to be ignorant."

Raphael laughed, then, at that, self depreciating beneath his loathing for Castiel.

If it did not hurt so much, it would be cute.

None could hope to understand him, especially a falling rebel. Ignorant?

He thought it was so much more. No one knew. It was not ignorance.

It was conspiracy, and lies, and fear.

"Little brother, you trust your memories of death too well."

"There was a desperation there, Raphael. A ferocity when you struck me. As though you were trying to convince yourself that if you could destroy me, you could destroy your own doubts."

Castiel stepped forward, his expression a challenge, squinting at Raphael, just a tiny bit of arrogance, but well gained, because he knew, just as Raphael knew.

"Did you convince yourself?" Castiel says, fire flickering across the planes of his face.

no

But there was only silence.

For what was to be said?

GABRIEL

Everybody's been there,

Everybody's been stared

down by the enemy

Fallen for the fear

And done some disappearing,

Bowed down to the mighty

But don't run,

just stop holding your tongue

He started with Gabriel because he was the easiest for Raphael to test his newly acquired free will with. And because Raphael was still hurt, still angry.

"You left me." It comes out less cold then it should, it should be silver and cold and sharp as a blade, but somewhere it turned into thorns, wrapping around him instead, flushed with life and pain and emotion.

"I couldn't stay and watch anyone die anymore, Raph, c'mon." And Gabriel is breaking, too.

"You had a duty."

"I couldn't do my freakin' duty! I was supposed to go out there and judge all of our little brothers who had been swayed by Luce and it wasn't their fault, they didn't know better! I was supposed to kill them! I couldn't, Raph, and Michael wasn't going to let that go."

"You had a duty as my brother."

Grace tears, pooling in the air, falling off Gabriel's feathers like snowflakes, make the room too bright. Gabriel at last turns away, "I couldn't do that, either." He whispers, wiping his eyes with a sleeve.

"Come back."

Angry, afraid, "Were you listening? I can't! Not then, not now, not ever!"

"Help me put an end to it. Stop this."

Shock, "What, are you serious? You know those two, you couldn't stop them short of Dad putting them in time out." Disbelief is suspended, like dust caught in shafts of sunlight, even as Gabriel dismisses him, there is an edge of wonder as he realizes that Raphael speaks truthfully. That maybe even Raphael can change.

"Gabriel, I can't do this alone."

Gabriel sags, "I…I can't. I can't get between our family, like, ever again. I can't bring myself to hurt you, or let you get hurt. I can't do anything about it, but I can't stay and watch."

But really, all Raphael ever had to say was, "Then why can't we be a family again?"

Soft, the quiet that overtakes Gabriel.

"No." He whispers, "We're too broken."

Raphael whispers, hope liquid smoke in the air, "Be brave with me."

LUCIFER

Maybe there's a way out of the cage

where you live

Maybe one of these days

you can let the light in

Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say

And let the words fall out

Honestly

I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say

And let the words fall out

Honestly

I wanna see you be brave

He went to Lucifer second because he still wanted to put off seeing Michael as long as he could. And because he wanted to know if Satan was a different being than the brother he remembered.

"Raphael…this is…a surprise." Lucifer is not wary, but he does send all the demons out with a flick of his wrist. His ashen, scabbed wrist. All along his vessel are cracks and sores. The healer within Raphael cries out against it.

Suddenly, besides him appears Gabriel, and though Gabriel is terrified to be here, to let this happen, he would not let Raphael die like this. For he does believe Raphael will die. But without thought, he refuses to let it be alone. Gratitude remembers itself in Raphael's Grace, for he had missed Gabriel and the simple lightness he brought with him, imbued the environment around him with.

"Gabriel." Lucifer says softly. Raphael wonders if he heard of Gabriel's death. Then he wonders if Satan is no more than a name to hide Lucifer under, from everyone, including himself. If it was to convince even Lucifer that he was capable of being the monster that had been foretold to be.

But there is a gentleness, an sweetness in the look he rests upon their youngest archangel, a thought of days so old they had seen the world reborn a thousand fold since then.

Lucifer waits for whatever news they bear, and Raphael is suddenly feeling nostalgic, then nauseated, of appearing before Lucifer and telling him that their Father had summoned him, remembers telling the grim ArchAngel that Michael had refused to accompany them.

"Don't do it." Gabriel blurts before he can figure what to say.

Lucifer tilts his head, unwilling to decipher that.

"The Apocalypse. Make up with Mike. Decide not to destroy everything. Come back." Gabriel says in a rush.

And Raphael cringes in his Grace, because . Because Lucifer has given up too much to simply drop it, to simply let all the pain go.

Instead Lucifer freezes and says, "Did Michael…?" as if he is waiting for the answer before he decides anything.

"No. But please, Luce, please come back to us."

Lucifer's expression clears, and he says with a forced smile, "I'm sorry, Gabriel, but you know I must. I would never be welcome home, either. Michael would never accept any apologies, would never care."

Gabriel deflates beside him. But Raphael feels woozy, his Grace is spinning circles of surprise within.

"And if Michael could?" He says.

Lucifer looks up at him sharply, "He wouldn't." He says. Not that it didn't matter, or would make no difference.

But that makes it all the more simple.

MICHAEL

And since your history of silence

Won't do you any good,

Did you think it would?

Let your words be anything but empty

Why don't you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say

And let the words fall out

Honestly

I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say

And let the words fall out

Honestly

I wanna see you be brave

"Raphael."

"Michael."

Short, sudden silence, surprise and alarm and for a moment there stands Michael, not the General of Heaven lost in his grief.

"Gabriel?"

And Gabriel, standing beside him, just as apprehensive, suddenly gives a small, warm grin. "Hey, bro."

"You're alive."

"So um, actually have something to kind of run by you-"

Raphael is not sure who expects Michael to hug Gabriel less.

"I thought you were lost, like Lucifer." He says to Gabriel's shoulder. Gabriel looks both panicked and relieved.

Raphael clears his throat. Gabriel straightens and Michael draws away.

"Actually, we wanted to talk about that."

Michael looks at Raphael, curious. There is the brother, beyond the soldier or the general, or even the ArchAngel.

"Lucifer is not lost. Not forever, at least, Mike." Gabriel cuts in.

Michael turns to look at him, caught between confusion and wariness, "Gabriel?"

"We can guide him home. Bring him back. He would drop this all if you would, you know that right?"

Michael slowly shakes his head, stopping halfway through and then resuming it as if he'd forgotten to tell his neck to continue doing that as he tries to understand. "No, Lucifer wouldn't... he-" He stops, takes a step back from Gabriel, as if they have swung at him, and perhaps it must seem as if they have.

And Raphael expects him to smite them, or at least return to his wrath, his rage and pain and emptiness.

"Michael, be brave." He whispers, "please."

Michael is caught by that, because Raphael would never speak to him so, has never once asked anything of him, except silently praying of an absent Father that they keep each other.

"Raphael." He says mournfully.

"Michael, could you? Could you just...I don't know, call a truce?"

Michael's face twists, the air is almost humming, deadly to passing humans or animals alike, so charged with Grace made unstable by emotion, bleeding out into the earth and windless night.

"He would never -" He forces out almost brokenly, "I...he would not want a truce." It is a painful way he says it, unable to hope for fear that hope will break him.

And there, softly, from the shadows, quietly steps the Dragon, the Roaring Lion, the Tempter, the Adversary and Accuser.

"I would for you."

always

Michael stills, then turns to regard Satan, and he has not seen him, never since so long ago, only heard of his return. Only felt his Grace cry out when the Devil was freed. The joy and the fear and the pain. For he must have remembered that it was Satan, not Lucifer, who now returned to the Earth. Lucifer stands before him, humble, at least, waiting. Satan would be able to trick him, the Deceiver and Wicked One, and of this Michael is most afraid, to love and lose again.

I just want to see you

see you be brave