Codes: Castiel, Uriel, Dean
Spoilers: 4.10 Heaven and Hell, all of season four
Summary: Bodies are no more a mystery to him than to Uriel, these fragile cases that clothe human souls, but to Castiel, there's never less than wonder in being permitted to share in this, wrapped in the work of God's own hands.
Author Notes: To svmadelyn, who read while I wrote, serrico, who totally gets the joy of Castiel, and amireal for herself.
Uriel's impatient with the constraints of flesh; he's restless even in stillness, fighting the confines of skin and bone that tie him to the earth. It's not unfamiliarity; Uriel's breathed the air of a thousand vessels, walked with their legs and spoke with their voices. There can be no mysteries left for him wearing the bodies of men.
But his restlessness continues, unconcealed longing to abandon the husk and return to the skies he was created for emanating from him like the light hidden beneath his skin.
"You wished for her release," Uriel says finally, eyes meeting Castiel's in the mirror as he straightens the fall of his coat with sharp flickers of long fingers. Castiel leans back against the footboard of the narrow bed, wondering anew at the way this body moves, the smooth stretch of muscle, the automatic shifts of balance. Bodies are no more a mystery to him than to Uriel, these fragile cases that clothe human souls, but to Castiel, there's never less than wonder in being permitted to share in this, wrapped in the work of God's own hands.
Uriel snorts something too low to hear, for which Castiel gives thanks to God, that in this form, without effort, they live in the limits of human hearing.
"She broke the law," Uriel says, turning on him abruptly.
Castiel balances his hands on the footboard, smooth wood sliding like satin against his palms, fighting the urge to straighten, loosen the tight hold on the temper he's never before needed to leash. Every day they live here they feel their brothers die in a war they are forbidden to fight, bound to a son of man and his otherborn brother. There are a thousand words hovering on the tip of his tongue, reminders of pride and hatred, obedience and purpose, but perhaps he's been in flesh too long, because he says none of those things.
"I don't dispute the will of God," he answers softly, unable to control the edge in his voice and perhaps not caring to try. "Anna is beyond our judgment."
Uriel stares at him with neither patience nor understanding; he's old in ways that have nothing to do with how humans measure time, brought into creation as Lucifer asked his first question and made his first demand. Castiel remembers the war fought over the length of heaven and earth, the shedding of shared blood they all carry like an unhealed wound, Uriel surrounded with the dying host as he wept for every brother that fell beneath his blade.
The will of God is the will of his Messengers; Uriel will fight for the children of men even as he hates them, the creatures that will make him raise his sword again, begin the second and last war for the souls he would leave to eternal darkness if he could. A trade, perhaps, for all of those he killed in their name.
"You are too comfortable with them," Uriel says abruptly, turning away in a swirl of wool and banked energy; Castiel can't imagine how humans can see him and not see him as an unsheathed blade, poised above their necks. "Bear in mind what you are and the work before you."
"I serve," he answers as Uriel opens the door. After he passes outside, Castiel straightens, watching the expanse of black cotton over broad shoulders, the flicker of dark wings brushing the walls in shadow. "I do not require the reminder."
"See that you do not."
Dean reminds him of Uriel in some ways, which Castiel supposes neither would appreciate nor understand. The restlessness that hides beneath his skin is the frantic speed of a mind like none Castiel has ever touched; Dean is impossible to ignore.
He shifts just beyond the edges of Dean's perception, but Dean inherited the senses of his mother's line in full, the reflexes and instincts passed down more generations than humans can count from the first of them who chose to protect the earth. The restlessness decreases, mind shifting unconsciously to follow the changes in his body, uncoiling muscle by muscle as he lifts his head, looking around without knowing why he wants to, fingers sliding the length of the knife strapped to the small of his back as he scratches idly at a non-existent itch and tastes adrenaline on the back of his tongue.
Mary had been the same; the children of hunters have long forgotten what they were born. Humans are given choice, and Mary had walked away from her birthright, but that never changed what she *was* and what she passed down so completely to her sons.
He--isn't being careful. He's not sure he was trying to be.
Reaching out, Castiel touches the warm metal of the newly washed car, watching Dean's mouth curve into a frown, but his body relaxes into wary acceptance in the way he deliberately turns his back, picking up the cloth again and continuing to carefully dry the rearview mirror.
Castiel lets the silence stretch; for this moment, it's enough to feel the sun warm his shoulders and back, the nip of pre-winter cold against his cheeks, breathe the world of his Father and stand in the presence of one of His most beloved creations.
Tilting his head, Castiel looks at the car, thinking of the smooth lines of chariots and litters, workmen with their chisels and their saws and their brushes, shaping wood to human use, carving scenes of battle for human memory, the men who rode them filled with a joy that Castiel echoes every time he flies.
Of course, the internal combustion engine is a vast improvement over both horses and mules, and while the carving of heroic deeds may no longer decorate the sides of their conveyances, there's much to be said for the purity of color as the only adornment.
"Are you here for something?"
Castiel pulls his hand reluctantly from the sun-heated hood. "Anna."
Dean stiffens, cloth clenched between slim fingers, knuckles white. Regret-hurt-anger-desire-fear-love flicker through Dean in less than a single breath before he turns around, dropping the cloth.
"Sorry you didn't get to kill her before she got away?"
"No." He could elaborate, but Dean's anger simmers too close to the surface of his skin, needing an outlet that's not the brother he loves more than life and fears more than death, not the demon wrapped in the shape of a girl he hates and needs, not the God he doesn't want to believe in.
I serve, Castiel thinks, tilting his head as Dean's mouth thins, words bubbling to the surface of his thoughts, hurtful if Castiel had been born in this flesh. They might hurt anyway; Anna had been right and wrong in her assessment, but only because she never lived in human skin before she Fell.
There's a short, bitter struggle before Dean closes his eyes. "Where is she?"
"I don't know."
Anna fought the first battle with wings torn and red with blood, bright like the beginning of creation, protecting the humans that were her charges and her purpose, the descendants of Adam and Eve that she loved and served with all she was and would ever be. Then, he hadn't understood, hadn't walked in human skin, guided a human mind, protected a human life. Now he does, and perhaps that she Fell was never in question; the only question might be why she waited so long before she did.
"She went to the earth when Eve felt her first pains," Castiel says. Dean's eyes jerk up, fixing in startled attention. "She sat at Eve's side and watched her body become both her punishment and her greatest joy. With God's help, she created a son."
There had been joy so strong Anna had thrummed with it, pressing her lips in ecstasy to the damp forehead of the mother of all mankind who had found Eden again as she held her son, kneeling in awe before these children who were given this gift.
Dean shifted uncomfortably. "What does that have to do with--"
"We were not given the gift of creation," Castiel says slowly, thinking of Anna and the thousands and thousands of years she watched and loved, protected and served, the longing that grew in her that was nothing like envy, no matter how Uriel defined her choice. "Even had we carried out the law, she regretted nothing. She still doesn't."
"You said you didn't know where she was."
"I don't need to." There's so little comfort he can give; flesh lives so briefly even as it burns brighter than the greatest of the stars, sees so little even as it sees so much. "She won't forget you, or the life she lived in flesh."
Dean's shoulders hunch, snorting softly as he looks at his car to hide his hope. "With all of--that?" He motions vaguely toward the sky--and in the wrong direction at that--but the edges of pain are blunted, easing the fierce pain into something that will heal, sweeten in memory. Anna never wished to bring him pain. "Don't think so."
Picking up the cloth, he goes back to drying, which is fair enough; Castiel's not sure words can frame all the ways that Dean is not something that even an archangel can forget.
Dean turns abruptly, tossing him the cloth. "Could you get the other side? Don't want spots."
Castiel catches it, cloth smooth and soft between his fingers as he nods, crossing to the other side of the car, accepting the gift as it was given. Drawing it over the smooth metal, wiping away the remainder of water, he feels himself begin to smile.
He doesn't require the reminder of who and what he is. Anna wasn't the only one that knelt in awe of Eve's first son that day.