The problem was he fascinated me.
I was older than Castiel, but he intrigued me because we knew him.
Heaven knew him even before Dad disappeared.
He doesn't remember it all.
And maybe that intrigued me too.
I'm starting at the end. This isn't where I should start.
There was a new angel. Father made them all the time, but this one. Oh this one. He took an interest in. Every fledgling was appointed a teacher and this new angel was given to Gabriel.
Fledgling were never taught by archangels. Heaven noticed him before he knew his name because Gabriel stood as his defender and teacher.
And there were his wings.
Angel wings are pale, white and cream and gold, sometimes tinted through with color.
Gabe had six pair the color of honey and amber and sunlight.
The Morningstar was shades of cream shot through with hints of crimson.
Michael and Raphael were white, so pure it was almost blinding.
Mine? Mine were a dusty gold with subtle hints of blue at the base, where they grew soft and dark.
But this new angel.
His were massive and black.
As black as the dark spaces between planets that we sometimes floated.
So black they seemed to absorb light when they flared open, but if you got close--no one got close--but if you did. They weren't just inky darkness. There were starlit galaxies, exploding stars and constellations, streaks of green fire.
Castiel carried the universe, all of Father's creation, on his shoulders, reflected in his blue bright eyes.
It's very little wonder that he was so different.
I think Father made him broken, so he wouldn't be like the rest of us.
The rebellion changed him. It changed all of us. Before, it was watching. Watching the world turn, and the stars spin. Watching Dad and the archangels play their games. Watching the mindless animals, and the little gray fish.
Watching him, curious and quiet at Gabriel’s side.
The whole host watched him.
Even Lucifer and Michael and Raphael.
He was a favorite, not just Gabriel’s favorite, but of the seraphs and the other archangels. Even Michael came off his fucking high horse to care about and teach him. Like a distant, not quite friendly uncle, teaching the new angel how to wield an angel blade.
Lucifer, gliding into the empty spaces between planets while Gabriel raced Castiel through the moons, teaching the fledgling to fly.
Raphael, sitting on the tips of the mountains, watching humanity with those blank dispassionate ideas while Castiel perched next to him, curiosity in his blue eyes and black wings twitching.
But then Lucifer fell.
And the war began.
I didn’t see Castiel after that, not for centuries.
Not until after Michael threw Lucifer in the pit. After Gabriel was killed and God vanished, and we were all left wondering what the hell we were supposed to do next.
By then, though.
He didn’t remember.
God fucked Castiel. He gave him an archangel and made him a favorite, and then he left him. Alone.
He left us all, but we weren't all the fucking favorites of heaven.
And in the wake of the fall--with Lucifer gone, and Michael sulking while he waited for the end of days--there was a power vacuum.
Upper management--the fucking seraphs--stepped in. Took over. Installed order, with Raphael’s blessing.
They gave Castiel to Naomi.
Because no fledgling would rule Heaven, and he could.
She ripped him apart, ripped away everything he knew. Ripped out his memories of Gabriel, of God, of the archangels.
She ripped up everything that made him Castiel and put him back together, a blank little foot soldier.
Upper management put him in a garrison. The black winged angel who was taught to fight by the fiercest angels in heaven and taught to love by God and Gabriel….was now an ordinary killer.
You see? This is why.
Why I could never resist Castiel.
They couldn’t rip out his love.
I lost track, over the eons, of how many times Castiel asked why and I don’t understand.
He was the angel who stood in defense of Sodom and Gomorrah. The one who kept the lions from tearing apart Daniel. He opened the sea for Moses, and wandered, weeping through Egypt while the reapers stole the first born.
Why. Why. Why.
Angels don’t question.
We don’t ask why.
We don’t care.
Castiel did, and no matter how often he was yanked back to heaven, how often he went under Naomi’s knife, no matter how many times they wiped the slate clean.
They couldn’t rip out his love.
Gabriel was an ass. A big winged bastard high on his status as the favorite. Michael and Lucifer loved him, Dad loved him, Raphel--well, he was always the odd one out and no one paid too much attention to him.
He was an ass, but he taught Castiel, and that saved him. I’ve thought about it, over the eons. It wasn’t God, or his wings, or his fucking stubbornness.
It was Gabriel.
Gabriel who kept him from hurting that damn fish on that beach a million years ago. Gabriel who smiled as Castiel spun between the planets and sat next to him watching humanity and answered all of the million questions.
Castiel used to ask so many questions, Heaven would tremble with them.
Gabriel taught him to love, taught him to think.
Not even Naomi’s knife could carve that out.
The other angels are resting.
Waiting, still as stone. Orders came from Heaven.
He paces, furious energy pouring off him, his black wings flaring with every spin of his blade. It catches and scatters hell-light, flowing like water in his grasp.
I’ve never seen an angel fight like Castiel. Like the blade is more than just a weapon, but an extension of his arm, a part of him.
If I knew him a little less, I would be worried. But Castiel has never shown a hint of animosity toward his other angels.
“Why are we waiting?” he growls, in that low, furious voice that never fails to string a smile against my lips.
“Orders, Cassie. You know we don’t answer to ourselves.”
He growls. Furious and frustrated.
“The orders are wrong.”
I whistle, and his eyes flash to mine, too angry to be repentant.
“Will you do this one thing for me?”
Because yes. The answer is yes.
I will do anything for Castiel. He doesn’t need to know that, but it’s the simple truth of my life that I’ve long since accepted.
He spins that blade again, liquid fire and deadly grace, his eyes shining with the weight of the world, and his wings spread, star spun galaxies in the bowels of Hell. “Cover for me,” he orders, and then he’s gone.
I think, for a small eternity, that he will die.
One angel, even one such as Castiel, pitted against the legions of hell, is suicide.
The garrison asks. Where is he?
I dodge, because I can’t lie and I won’t tell the truth.
It won’t matter, if he dies.
And if he doesn’t….
I feel it, when it happens. We all feel it.
Some things shake the host to it’s foundation.
Dad leaving. Luci falling. The war--those shook us all.
Some things shake Heaven and Hell.
When Castiel yanks Dean Winchester from the pit…
It shakes the cosmos.
Castiel has always fascinated me.
It’s those eyes, that show the sky, that smile that says, I don’t know why you’re laughing. His wings, so fucking beautiful it hurts, and his stubbornness. His refusal, even subconsciously, to bend to Heaven’s will because it’s not the will of God.
I loved him.
In my way.
I always will.
But Heaven lost Castiel, when he laid hand on the Righteous Man.
When he pulled Dean Winchester from the pit and branded him and Dean in turn claimed Castiel’s soul.
I watch. From a distance. He thinks I’m dead. He thinks I was killed while he slipped away and stole Dean under the cover of black wings spangled with galaxies.
I let him.
But I watch. I see him reunite with Gabriel, even though he doesn’t know what the Trickster means to him.
I see him defy Heaven for the Winchester.
I see when Heaven pulls him home, and Naomi goes to work.
But it’s too late. Castiel is no longer Heaven’s, and even as she resets him to the pliant little solider, it doesn't’ take. Not the way she wants it to.
His loyalty isn’t to heaven.
It’s to Dean Winchester.
I watch him fall.
I see him search for our Father.
I see him and two broken boys, one drunk old man with the help of a devil, short circuit the apocalypse.
That’s when I leave. When I dart into Heaven and raid the liquor bar while no one is watching.
I think, as I slip into a vessel and into a human life, with the weapons of Heaven hidden away, that Castiel would be proud of me.
God made him broken.
Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe we are the broken ones, the perfection too much to stand the ages. Maybe this is why God loved the humans most.
Castiel. He’s the best Heaven has, and when he comes to me, his eyes bright and shining with a plan to take it from Raphael.
I should say no.
I should hide my weapons and myself and stay out of it.
Nothing good ever comes from angels fighting angels.
Free will, Balthazar. We all deserve that.
Some things. They’re toxic. Even if you know that, you can’t stay away. They’re galaxies spun into wings, and bright blue eyes that beg to have the eternal question--why--answered.
And they’re my weakness.
I’ll regret it. I know that, even as I fall in behind him. Return to heaven to fight with him.
But he smiles at me, the smile I haven’t seen since before we were sent to retrieve the Righteous Man, before Heaven--I--lost Castiel to Dean Winchester.
And toxic or not, I’ll damn myself and heaven for that smile.