Dean spoke with more than just words. He spoke with silences too. Those places where he stopped and stuttered, and went on with a grin about something else altogether - the places that he talked around as if he was carefully stepping the edges of a vast gaping hole in the ground without acknowledging that it was there - those were the most speaking of all.
Most of the silent spots were about his brother.
But then, almost everything he said was about his brother, sooner or later, tangentially or directly, with exasperation or pain or amusement or nostalgia. I was looking at this thing, and then Sammy came up and said this. Sam disagrees about that movie character, of course, because he’s a killjoy. After Sam and I ganked this monster; while Sam was off somewhere with Ruby; that flavour was - is, dammit - Sam’s favourite.
Sam, present or absent, was tangled up in Dean’s every experience of the world.
That was why the watcher had looked into Dean and thoughtremembered brother. Not brother to the watcher, not like the angel. But brother was the heart of who he was: brother to the angel, brother to Sam. It was wound into the fabric of his soul.
The watcher thought he understood that.
Dean’s bare heel scudded across the leaf litter, leaving a wet black scar of earth. His voice sounded strangled, frustrated; and the watcher turned his attention away from the vast depths of Purgatory-jungle that surrounded them, turned it full on the human.
Dean had moved himself. He was no longer beside the sleeping angel, but was lying some paces away on the other side of a thicket of tangled black vines, out of Castiel’s line of sight. His shirt lay in a grubby bundle beside him; his head was pressed back into the leaf litter, eyes clenched shut and mouth twisted into something stubborn; one hand lying on his bare stomach, tracing distracted little circles with the fingers, and the other in the V of his open jeans, sliding up and down the length of an unenthusiastic erection.
His right hand abruptly abandoned its task and slammed into the ground beside him as a fist.
The watcher wanted to touch him. Wanted it hungrily.
The faint cloud of interrupted sleep and bitter dreams hung over him, and it was flavoured with the idea of Sam. The beat of his heart was too fast, and the hormones it drove around his body had more to do with fear than with the feeble pangs of lust that sparked under his skin. But his skin was crying out to be touched: his flesh was lonely, aching to have someone beside him, someone known and deeply loved.
It was a bewildering combination, a confusion of sensations and thoughts and desires tangled up in the wake of sleep, and the watcher had no idea what to do with it.
The watcher gathered himself into solidity and slid in next to Dean on the earth, spreading one hand warm and solid over the skin of his belly, just below the human hand.
It worked in one sense. The snap of startlement chased the cloying sleepiness and its ghosts right out of Dean’s head. On the other hand, the sharp tensing of the muscles under the watcher’s hand, and the stifled yelp, and the glower Dean turned on him, probably meant that it wasn’t really appreciated.
“The hell?” Dean hissed; then, shoving at the watcher’s hand, “Your eyes are glowing, man. Personal space!”
Which made no sense, because Dean had wanted to be touched (still wanted it, because his skin still tingled with it), so the watcher ignored the shoving and left his hand where it was, under Dean growled and cuffed him around the head instead.
“What’s your problem, dude? You never jerked off to get rid of a bad dream before? Your bits don’t work now so you gotta get your jollies watching someone else?”
His breath was hitching in his throat, making the skin shiver under the faint shade of stubble, the way it did sometimes when he was angry or thinking of things he didn’t want to think about; and his voice barrelled straight through the hitches like a belligerent bull, as if he could make pain go away by sheer force of stubbornness.
But the fear was gone.
The watcher had no idea where to begin with understanding him. He only knew that Dean’s hand lay, flung loose and tired and beautiful across the sweat-slick dips and valleys where his ribcage ended and the skin slid down to his belly; and he ached unreasonably to lean in and touch, to learn it with his own skin and his own rich human senses.
The human lived, whole and vivid, through his senses; and he showed the watcher what they meant; and he was the ultimate feast for them.
And he was lonely. And in this thing, in the ways of the flesh and the body, he did not yearn for the angel, or for his brother.
The watcher lowered his head, letting sweet air rush into his lungs and fall out again warmer over the human’s cheek, and he moved his hand. He lifted it; curved it around the shape of the human’s shoulder; drew it in to mould the hollow between shoulder and collarbone and the muscles of the chest; then ran it carefully, gently, over the ribs, along the flank, down the slight curve of the waist, to wrap as softly as he could manage around the jut of his hip.
So delicate, the human’s body. So fragile under his hands, and there was so much of the watcher to contain, to keep behind barriers, so that the weight of his hand might not, in a moment of carelessness, crush the life out of him.
Dean’s breath puffed out in a series of shudders against the watcher’s mouth.
It felt good - the closeness of it, the reaction. The way he felt Dean’s body cry out under his touch, arch under it, the wakening of the hormones inside him that Dean hadn’t managed to provoke with the touch of his own hand. And under that, a hot steel thread of protectiveness; but that made no sense, because the watcher needed no protection.
Left over from dreams of Sam, then. The watcher could soothe that for him, easing his soul through his body as he could ease the angel through his mind. He could touch him and wake this mysterious pleasure in his body, which seemed to mean so much to the mess of human thought.
“Easy there, Lolita,” Dean breathed against his chin, and his voice was very different now. The fingers that curled around the watcher’s wrist were as careful now as they had been rough before, when they’d tried to push him away; but now they felt like they meant more. “C’mon. You don’t even have junk.”
The watcher made an interrogative noise, because he couldn’t think of any words that meant what he wanted them to mean, and chased the sensitive quivers of Dean’s skin down over his thigh to the bend of his knee.
“You’re just a - blob,” Dean added, which didn’t mean anything, or not nearly so much as the way his legs twitched and opened a little wider, and the awkward way he licked his lips, and the breathlessness of his voice.
So the watcher lowered his head and nosed into the shadows under the human’s chin, and let his hands wander. He explored the dips of bone under skin, the strong lines that muscles made, the faint prickle of hair against his fingertips. He pushed at the material of the jeans until more skin was revealed, and drew his fingertips over it to make it shiver in the warm, damp air. He discovered, with delighted curiosity, the difference between the warm, delicate skin inside the human’s knee, and the toughness of the skin that stretched over the patella. He lapped the sweat in the crevice behind Dean’s ear, felt the bob of his throat when he swallowed, placed a hand over his stomach to feel the drag of his breath, laid two fingers against his erection to feel it leap, rubbed over the place on his left shoulder that was always stiff and purred with the rumble of Dean’s groan.
The human made no objection. He moved with it: arched gracefully into the touches, tipped his head back to make way, kicked the tangled jeans off one foot, crooked up a leg when the watcher’s hand slid underneath it to trace the muscle at the back of his thigh. Only, he squirmed from time to time, and sometimes there was embarrassment in it; and the huffs of his breath wandered by a roundabout route from desire and surprise towards amusement. And the watcher couldn’t work out exactly which touches it was that were making him do that.
This time, when the human took his wrists and dragged them in towards his chest, the watcher let him do it.
“Dude, no,” Dean said, and there was a strange mix of laughter and awkwardness in it that the watcher didn’t know what to do with. “It’s like... getting off to a dog licking your balls or something. You don’t know what you’re doing, and it feels freaking weird to enjoy it, okay?”
That made no sense either.
He had hands and a mouth, just like a human. Using them on Dean’s body had made it respond, at first, with hormones of pleasure and excitement and gratification.
He reached out, trying to connect, because there was something about this that was important in a way he didn’t understand. Emotions and sensation jittered just below the surface of the human’s skin, and his blood was running hot.
What was the watcher failing to provide?
He had thought he was good at reaching them. Was what he had to offer not good enough?
He moved his hands away from the human’s body and sat up, folding his legs carefully under him. Dean sighed a bit, tugged his jeans back up without bothering to fasten them, and tucked his hands behind his head.
The sky was copper-dark, and empty as always.
The watcher wasn’t sure why he knew that was wrong. Another memory, probably, of something that was meant to be up there.
“Okay?” he asked after a while, when the human’s heartbeat was slow and steady in his chest.
The human was quiet for another minute; then he let out a rough breath, chasing his thoughts up to the blank sky.
“I’m tired, man.”
The watcher reached out a hand, to hover over the human’s forehead. “Sleep?” he offered.
“Not that kind of tired,” Dean mumbled; and then, in a voice something like the one he used for storytelling only with feet that dragged, “Guess I haven’t really told you much about these last couple of years. Three years, almost. Since - you died, and all that Apocalypse shit went down. Didn’t really seem important, since, you know. Not like I can jump-start memories for what you weren’t around to see.”
He took a breath, and the watcher watched it slide into his mouth and down his throat to nestle in his lungs.
“You remember Bobby?”
The watcher made a face at him, a face that meant impatience and “of course”. Bobby had wandered in and out of more than one story, since Dean had started talking more freely, enough to uncover the watcher’s own memories of his part in their first encounter, and what he meant to Dean and to Sam.
“Yeah, well. He’s gone now. Him, and - hell. Not a short list. Annie. My baby, for most of last year. Rufus. Our crazy family who just decided to wander into our lives and turn into bloody smears. A woman I... lived with for a while, and... her son. Another couple of friends of ours. Sam’s freaking laptop, our rock aliases. Everything - everything we work with, everyone we work with, every - and Cas, Cas keeps - dying, or vanishing, or turning into - hell. I don’t know. Even Sam...”
He bit his own words off, then grinned, weak and savage, at the finger-bone lattice of branches overhead. “It’s like, every time something starts to go right, what’s the catch, y’know? Bone Dick - bam, have a nice Purgatory.”
The watcher felt his own forehead crinkle - an involuntary response, which was interesting - and reached out to touch Dean’s elbow, where it lay near his knee.
At the touch, Dean’s eyes flicked over to him, wide, like he’d almost forgotten where he was. The watcher held the gaze for a minute, held it and did his best to read the dancing thoughts in the depths of it; but he wasn’t really an adept, and all he got was the flash of irony at the last minute before the corners of Dean’s eyes crinkled into a sharp grin.
“Just too easy to talk to, man. Something about that whole big-eyed believe-anything-you-say face you’re rocking. You’re like a freaking kitten. A giant flaming kitten. And the way you never say much back. And...”
He was silent for a minute; then the muscles in his shoulders and neck bunched back into their usual half-tension, and the face that he wore over his real one rebuilt itself.
“Screw it.” His grin was bright as broken glass. “Nothing sticks around. If I’ve learned anything these last few years, it’s that. Sam and me, we don’t get to keep anything. Anyone. Not even each other. Seems like as soon as you start to - get attached to something, it just... something breaks it. But in here...”
He hitched up a shoulder against the leaf litter, and laughed, a short harsh bark. “Hell. I don’t know. It’s almost a relief. It’s like... at least here everything’s meant to vanish, you know?”
The watcher - no. Because watching wasn’t all he did.
He had a name, but he didn’t understand it.
How could he think of himself if he didn’t have the right word?
He sucked in a breath and tasted it inside him, hot and foreign and full of the lives of dead things.
Very carefully, gratingly, with all the shame of the admission, he shaped it into the words: “Not - understand.”
There were things that Dean had said - so many things - that set bells ringing inside his head, old bells whose resonance shook their foundations and sent plaster crumbling down, set ears bleeding and skulls cracking, set -
Dean’s hand clapped against his knee, once, twice, then curled around it and lingered there.
“Don’t sweat it, Peter Pan. Guess that’s beyond your pay grade just now.”
Reaching out to touch - yes, he could do that, but he had nothing to give or share. What good was a messenger who had no message to deliver?
The watcher didn’t understand; but he needed to. He needed his memories - he needed himself back.
He was under no illusions of being important to Dean - not next to the painfully hot thump of love inside him for Sam, or the tangle of devotions between him and Castiel - but if he was to do anything to help Dean, to help Castiel, he needed all his knowledge.
These creatures belonged to him, and he would protect them. He needed to unvanish.
He had to think of himself as solid.
And it was a bitch of a thing, too. Now he wasn’t just walking - now he was toiling, and the dirt clung to his feet and worked its way into crevices of skin and under toenails, and made him feel grimy. Dragging his foot out of the mud over and over again strained at the threads he’d spun into his calves, in place of organic muscles and tendons. He shoved aside the frond of a tree, befurred with tiny teeth that broke off and burrowed into his skin: they irritated and prickled and made his wrist red. All the strange little quirks of a body, and all its stranger vulnerabilities.
The ground was harder, as if Purgatory was beginning to notice them, to impede them. Deep purple swamps that clung around their thighs, and great humming not-insects the size of his hand that gathered around their heads and tried to crawl into their mouths. A cliff that was almost perfectly vertical, dropping away into invisible depths below and climbing to endless heights above, and which seemed to be made of pale enamel. A soft endless thicket so tangled that they couldn’t see the earth below it, so that they had to clamber laboriously over its ups and downs like mites over the pile of a carpet.
He was falling for Purgatory’s illusion. He knew it, and he let himself fall, because Purgatory had no reality: it was a metaphor, and maybe you had to enter into the metaphor to figure it out.
And he knew, somehow, that he had to move - really move, really advance, even though they never moved and they never advanced. The human had had the right idea in the first place.
He took the lead now, even when the human’s instincts tugged in a different direction, because there was something he was looking for.
He had to be real.
Dean was talking about the T. V. land again, only this time it was quieter. Not pitched to reach the human ears of the angel trudging along behind them (although the watcher knew, and Dean probably knew, that the angel could hear anyway, if he wanted to). Barely loud enough for the watcher to pick up on with his own human ears, not that that mattered. Just... talking. Murmuring. Like he was going over a mess of old thoughts, and looking at them again, and sighing over them, and trying to put them away safe where they were meant to be.
The T. V. land, yes; but that was only a vehicle, a shape. What he was really talking about was the way he’d feared for Sam then, the way he hadn’t known how to talk to him all that year – still didn’t, really – and how the way they were meant to be had fallen away behind them long in the past until it was untouchable and the best they could hope for was tolerating each other, with no way to build a bridge between that and the fierce hot despairing core of love underneath. And how there wasn’t anything that stayed stable for long enough to build anything new on, and it kept changing, and the only safe and sure thing was to batten it down and pretend it wasn’t like that. That even through Sammy losing his mind to the illusions in his head, before Purgatory, Dean hadn’t known how to fix it, and the only sure truth he knew right now was that Sam was tearing heaven and hell and earth apart to get him back from Purgatory, and he’d be fucked if he wasn’t gonna fix it for him. When he got back.
“So many things I wish like hell I’d said to him while I had the chance, and... shit. But I guess you and Castiel, you two of all people, you gotta know what that’s like, yeah? You two and your family...”
Dean broke over, scrubbing one hand across his mouth, like the words he tasted in it were a bitter surprise. Like he’d bitten down into an unexpected cardamon pod: like he’d cracked something open he hadn’t known was there.
“Getting too used to talking now, man,” he gritted out, and stopped.
The watcher looked at him sideways, at the textured reality of him. It would be so easy to reach out and touch the shape where the side of his nose curved out into his cheekbone, discover the taste of that dampness gleaming just inside his panting lips, the flutter of his throat leaping as he breathed.
And - hell. Before the watcher had started to gather all these Pishe-damned memories he’d never had to feel like this. Trudging along, through black dust over hard barren black earth, acutely uncomfortable, acutely inadequate. Where was Castiel? Castiel and Dean were tied together, sustaining each other, and themselves in giving to each other, even when they didn’t know how to fix it. What was - the watcher, this unknown thing without a name, but some disembodied useless mess that used to be someone disappointing and forgot how to do even that?
And his brothers... his own brothers. Who were they? Why did that word carry such a terrible, beautiful resonance, and why did Dean’s words and Dean’s feelings ring so horribly true?
Fuck. Forget hands, forget faces and fake-outs of muscle and bone.
Those were old tricks. They weren’t enough.
He wasn’t enough. There was another shape, one that had spoken to Dean and laughed at and with him, one that Castiel had looked on and turned away from, one that he’d made his own for years and that had become him. One that could, at least, talk to them.
The featureless black moors shimmered underfoot.
In front of them, barely visible between the rise and fall of the fells, there was a gleam of white. A heap of white stone, cradled in the crevice of a hill.
“Huh,” Dean commented brightly, and, “Would you look at that. Something actually happened.”
The watcher thwacked him in the shoulder, and loped forward to look. This was important. This was his.
A tumbled pyramid of rocks, sharp like giant shards of flint, clouded white like quartz. Only, here and there, set deep into their flesh, a glint of gold, like foolsgold in the rock.
Behind him, Castiel said something distant and intrigued to the human, something about ancient Egyptians burying themselves with an entire royal household of furniture and servant figurines, just in case they’d need them later.
Something hooked deep in his belly and tugged, vicious and imperative and right the hell now.
“Mine,” he rumbled, and felt the ground quiver under him as he leaped for the cairn. His wings snapped out across the sky, and the edges of the stone cut red lines into his hands and forearms as he heaved them out of the way. Dig. Under.
“Whoa,” he heard, and ignored it, because he had to getingetdownuncover, and he had to heave the sharp rocks away with the strength of his back and his arms and his thighs, and he could barely throw them a yard, and it wasn’t long before every rock glanced off a rock he’d already thrown and slid back down to bruise his ankles. And his body ached, arms and shoulders and the small of his back, and something in his wrist was complaining and weak after something he’d done to it hurling the twelfth stone, and hell, how did humans do anything in these useless frames anyway?
Then there were hands there, two other sets, moving the rocks away from him, moving them far enough that they wouldn’t fall back in on him; and the watcher purred, viciousdeep, and kept digging.
Deeper, deeper. Wider. Closer. Until his hands and wrists and forearms were rawbruised and bloody and wrenched, and his feet and ankles scraped and half-crushed, and he could have dismissed their physicality with a thought and the pain along with it, but that would be giving up.
Until, under the blind grasp of his fingers, there was no longer cool rock, but soft, still, warm flesh.
He snatched his hand away, blinked sweat and exhaustion from his eyes, and stared at it.
Vessel, not human. Hair of... of just the right colour and length. Eyes, closed. Skin, unmarred by the weight of rock that had buried it. Clothes... his clothes, hands his own. Waiting.
His. Him. Him for years, centuries, long enough to count. Long enough to be his own version of him, the one he wanted. The one he’d chosen.
The watcher snarled, and reached out to sink his hands into the vessel’s heart.
Purgatory shook. Everything shifted.
Dust in his lungs. Great racking shudders, making way for the air that he wanted there instead. Shaking his whole body, taking it over.
“Hey, man, you in there? Come on, let go of the ground, dude, you aren’t about to fall off.”
Hands, prying at his fingers. Coaxing them loose from dry slatey soil. It was under his fingernails. He had fingernails. It was poking at the quick – not just a construction. Not just a vivid temporary. He was noticing the landscape. He was affected by it, and subject to it, unless he abstracted himself.
Castiel’s mind, wrapped around his, worried and tight and so very gentle.
The wat- the - this person - he had let Castiel down.
Yes. Him, and everyone else.
... Body. He was wearing his body. A real one. He’d slipped inside his body.
“Gabriel.” Castiel’s voice was abrupt in his ear. “Gabriel, your mouth is bleeding. Let go of your lip. Let Dean take care of you.”
Belated pain in the lip. Teeth clenched too hard. Cotton and leather over his shoulders and denim on his thighs. Clothes. Body. Vessel – no, not vessel. Reconstruction, memory of vessel, summoned into reality. Taken with him to Purgatory, in lieu of what had been left broken on the floor after -
Close enough. Enough to be real, if he wanted it to be real. Smattering of hair over the back of forearms, scratch of stubble against Dean’s hand where it pressed in against cheek and jaw to hold the head up. Bones moving under the skin. Organs, and the chafe of cloth against the endings of nerves.
He huffed – breath into lungs, out of lungs, cold and shocking inside his throat and no longer superfluous, not to this body, not now – and snarled out the only syllables he could find that meant something solid and real.
“Dean,” he snapped, and “Castiel.”
Hands tightened on him – one in his hair, one on his shoulder, one on his jaw, one on his upper arm. Safety. Not restraint.
“Hey, settle,” he heard, and “we got you. Take your time, okay?”
The hand in his hair shifted, caressed, comforting and soft, and its owner murmured, “Dean. His mind is as lost as it ever was. This is only his body.”
The torso in front of him shoved in to fill his vision, and the hands on his arm and face slotted into place, firm and determined, like they owned him.
“Shut it, Cas,” Dean growled, and settled himself down across the watcher’s knees, heat and weight and blood and intent. “It’s something. If he looks like him, it means he remembers being him.”
“It looks like his vessel,” Castiel corrected carefully, because he was an angel and had always been an angel and didn’t know what it meant to live for centuries in your flesh, and the w - person tried desperately to give him what he needed, the shape and the thought of it, to be shaped like himself in other ways than the body so that Castiel could recognise him, but everything inside his mind was slippery and formless.
There was air prickling against his skin, and Castiel curling protectively around the incorporeal parts of him even though Castiel was too small and too weak for that and this person should be protecting him, and the hot startling drag of skin on skin and sand between his toes (he had toes now!), and Dean’s voice against his cheek.
“Breathe, man, just breathe. We got you.”
He fell into it, let them hold him up, body and mind.
“Not that I’m complaining,” Dean commented after a minute, “but why’s he got clothes on?”
“Because he remembers them,” Castiel said absently; then more sharply, fingers careful on his back, “which is impossible.”
Then fingers were moving all over his body, long and inquisitive, pressing through the clothes and flicking open buttons, and Dean’s hands were going loose and pulling back and he was saying, “Uh, dude, I really wasn’t complaining about those.”
There was a moment of silence that felt like Castiel’s flat stare; then, hands pressing into him, into every pocket, not gentle but like they knew exactly what he was and would drag it out of him.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking for the key.”
“... Okay. Key for what, exactly?”
Castiel’s chest was hot and solid and wide against his back, and the hands on him were Castiel’s. He reached out blindly, grabbing, seeking the missing part, latching onto Dean’s clothes, arm, any part he could reach, to keep him there too.
“The rate at which Purgatory was pressing in on you, Dean, would have stripped you of your memory in months. How much longer has Gabriel been alive? To erase him - to erase him altogether – it should have taken centuries.”
“But it hasn’t erased him, Cas, he’s been remem-”
“And he has never been hungry for our memories, like any other creature of Purgatory would be once it began to lose itself. Which must mean that he still has them. If he’s locked it away, all of it, somewhere that neither he nor Purgatory can reach it - waiting for –”
The hand fumbling against his ribs, between shirt and jacket, pulled something out of an inner pocket.
Dean breathed out a curse, over Castiel’s brief silence. Then he snickered. “What you’re saying is, if there’s a lock, there must be a key?”
“... Obviously, Dean.”
The hand vanished, holding something out to Dean.
Castiel’s body felt good, warm, present; and the watcher - this - whateverthehell, screw it, he’d earned a break from existentialism, just for a minute - lolled his head back against Castiel’s shoulder and listened to the feel of his own breaths.
Dean’s incredulity wafted through the air, light blue and sort of crinkly. “Seriously, dude? You scratched the words ‘kiss me’ into a candy wrapper? That’s your key?”
“Why not?” Castiel’s voice was a rumble in the air waves, and in the flesh pressed against his spine, and a tingle of conscious thought in the back of his mind. “It means he can only be released by someone conscious enough to read that ticket, and whom he trusts enough even in this state to let them close enough to kiss. And, of course, someone with the persistence and power to coax him into resuming this material form in the first place.”
Another lull, with thoughts busily whirring in the background on both sides, which were easy to tune out in favour of the delicious texture of Dean’s jacket, smooth and rich and promising, and the brush of cotton-polyester lining when fingers curled around the edge.
“You’re telling me that Gabriel actually put himself in stasis until a handsome prince turns up to –”
“Dean.” Impatience, and fondness, and command.
The feel of Dean in front, hovering over his knees, pressing against his fingertips, went suddenly cagey, and indignant, and exasperated. “What? He’s your brother!”
“And if it doesn’t work, then I will kiss him,” Castiel returned, grave and level and stamping down the flicker of hope that danced across the back of his mind.
Silence; then, “We’re never talking about this again, you hear me?”, and Dean was there. Mouth hot and coaxing, mind anxious and gentle, hand curving around the angle of his jaw to tip their faces in together, and the tantalising sweep of his tongue. The tease of barely parted lips, and the promise of dark heat beyond.
This. This, the deliciousness of the flesh, and the pledge and the wonder of the soul behind it - this, he could remember.
He opened his mouth, and surged forward to meet Dean.
The world slammed into his mind.
Desertion. Love. Hatred. Betrayal. Dancing in the wind, and rolling in the grass, and the burn of the sun and the bite of the darkest depths of the ocean. The greatest heights of Olympus, while that clique had lasted, and the richest depths of twisted human souls. The delicate press of a needle between thumb and finger, the prickle of tiger skin under bare feet, the tilt of the head to accompany just that smile to cajole someone into sin, or repentance.
One woman, two thousand years ago and change, and her son; and their strength and will in the face of their divinely ordained destiny, changing his own destiny forever.
Centuries of reinventing himself according to custom, of ingenuity and adaptation, of observing humans and delighting in them and offering them the worst of paths to dance along, to see if they’d fall into the pit of their own devising.
Weariness, and stagnation, and inevitability, and -
Castiel’s face – Castiel, hell, he knew him – so many memories crowding in all at once – Castiel’s face, hovering over him, anxious and grave.
“Hey, little bro,” Gabriel managed, and passed out.