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Parting Day

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Without a word Inias sits down next to his brother, the waves crashing into the cliff far below, as they both stare into the setting sun while she bathes the sea in her golden light and makes it shine in a deep, rich blue.

"It is the exact shade of his wings right now." Castiel says without looking at his brother, his eyes fixed on the game of colour and light before them. "It only lasts for a few minutes. That's why I come here, every night."

Inias doesn't know what to say so they sit in silence while the sun sinks deeper and starts to disappear into the darkening sea.

"How can you not hate me?" Castiel asks after a while, his voice raspy, and Inias thinks that it almost sounds like Castiel is begging. Whether it is for forgiveness or punishment, Inias cannot say.

"He was your brother too. They all were your brothers too," Castiel continues.

Inias turns his head to look at Castiel. In the evening light, even his vessel looks angelic and beautiful, almost as beatiful as the angel underneath who still shines despite the way he keeps torturing himself, dampening his own grace, and making the entire universe a little darker when it has lost too much light already. "Why are you sitting here with me? I deserve to die for what I've done. I don't deserve your forgiveness."

Inias wants to reach out to his brother, vessel and grace, but he doesn't dare, not yet. "I couldn't hate you." He states simply, and with a quick glance over to the remains of sunlight that keeps caressing the sea even while it is swallowed by it, he adds. "And neither could he."

For the first time Castiel looks at him, confusion and pain in his darkened eyes. "But why?"

Inias allows himself a soft smile. "Because there is so much love in you. Because you never stop trying. And because you are my brother, and my - friend." He feels the unfamiliar word on his vessel's tongue and knows the moment it leaves his mouth that it cannot express what he wants to say, that no human word can.

So he decides to use a language he is more familiar with. Shyly at first, his grace barely touches Castiel's until he can feel Castiel's permission to go deeper. He interwines his own grace with his brother's.

I love you, his grace starts simply when he smoothes out a tear that Castiel can only have inflicted upon himself. Castiel flinches, and afraid that he went to far Inias starts to pull back until Castiel grabs his arm and holds on so tight that his vessel's bones start protesting.

I don't deserve this, Castiel's eyes and grace tell him, and in the very same moment: Please don't leave.

Inias covers Castiel's hand with his.

I have always loved you, his grace continues, growing bolder. He looks at his brother, waiting for the first traces of acceptance. I'm here for you, he goes on. I'm here if you need me. He lowers his eyes for a second before he finds the courage to finish: I'm here if you want me.

He lets his grace linger with Castiel's for another moment before he retreats into his own vessel to give his brother space. The sun has disappeared by now, and the sea is black except for the small patches of midnight blue where it reflects the starlight.

When Castiel draws his hand away from his arm, Inias gives a small nod of understanding. He is about to unfold his wings, when Castiel's hand reappears in the base of his neck, and before Inias is entirely sure what's happening, the other angel leans forward and covers his lips with his own.

Castiel's lips are cold and salty from the sea air but soft, and after a surprised second, Inias tilts his head in the way his vessel has memorised and deepens the kiss. Inias raises his hand to cup Castiel's face and his thump ghosts over Castiel's cheek, drawing a soft whimper from his brother.

Inias wraps his other arm around Castiel, so when their lips separate their borrowed bodies stay close, their foreheads almost touching.

"What was that?" Inias asks, trying to calm his vessel's breath and the unexpected flutter in his grace.

"It is a sign of affection," Castiel explains, his own vessel's breath warm in Inias's neck. "Balthazar once showed me how much it could mean."

Hearing Castiel say their lost brother's name for the first time since he died, sends a wave of tender pride through Inias's entire being. Castiel's voice is still full of pain and regret that Inias doubts will ever truly disappear. But there is warmth in it too, and love, and the fondness of a pleasant memory.

"I tried it once more but I could never get it to carry that same meaning," Castiel continues, and after a short pause: "Until now."

Inias interwines their graces again, carefully caressing the traces of sundown golden-yellow that have long become an irreplacable part of Castiel, while highlighting them with hints of his own silver-blue.

"I like it," Inias admits, a little embarrased that a human gesture can leave this much of an impression.

Castiel raises his head to look at him, his eyes almost black in the moonless night but soft and alive, and Inias sends a silent prayer of gratitude to their father.

"Me too."

Inias thinks he can feel the hint of a hesitant smile when Castiel leans into him, and their lips touch once more.