Summary: Michael has been sent to walk the earth. Castiel knows what this means.
Spoiler Warnings: Set post 4x10.
Disclaimer: Supernatural = not mine. Michael? Also not mine.
Notes: A fic which will be Kripked the moment the show comes off hiatus. *shrugs* Just attempting to capture a Michael which might fit into Kripke's world. So this is a little weird, I guess, not sure how well it works or even what I'm trying to say. Also it's a little angsty. Title from Alexander Pope. Further notes at the end.
Castiel is sitting on the roof of a motel. The motel is the current home of the Winchester brothers and Castiel has orders for them, orders and information. He is attempting to find the courage he needs to appear before them – knowing Dean's wrath will be strong and dangerous. He does not think he will be welcome but the brothers must know. The War is about to change.
Castiel had never needed courage in Heaven, nor had he needed it before Anna, but, to face Dean Winchester, almost two months since he had last seen the human, Castiel finds himself yearning for human courage. Perhaps it is a weakness his vessel has impressed upon him, perhaps it is because he knows Dean's true path, perhaps it is something within himself.
A faint fluttering of wings beside him announces the appearance of one of his brothers and the Presence is enough to take his breath away. Michael. Even amongst the highest of the Host there is room for admiration of Michael. He is a true Warrior of God, tirelessly fighting for his Father, never weakening, always strong. For this reason Castiel is honoured when Michael chooses to visit him mere hours after the Archangel has been sent to walk the earth.
Castiel looks up at Michael and sees his vessel standing easily on the very edge of the roof. Michael's vessel is graceful and strong, perhaps a little taller than Castiel's, and Castiel has spent enough time amongst the humans to know that the vessel is also handsome. Michael's true beauty enhances his vessel, seeping out into the air around him, and his Presence brings a great sense of calm.
“You approve of my vessel,” Michael says, a human smile coming easily to his lips. It is a statement and not a question.
“It suits you,” Castiel finds himself returning the smile with uncommon ease.
“It does feel as though it were made for me,” Michael admits, stretching his body this way and that. “He's an unusually strong and agile man.”
“Then Hell help those that come against you,” Castiel says, surprising himself with the humour. Michael laughs and pats him on the shoulder.
“You know what it means, little brother, my being here,” Michael says. It is another statement.
“Yes,” Castiel replies. It means the tide has turned against them and Heaven is worried, though they will not admit it.
“You were sent to tell the Winchesters about me,” Michael continues, looking down at Castiel. “I have a feeling that you haven't just yet.”
Castiel nods but he can't admit to the reason why. Telling an archangel that you worry you are beginning to feel, no, that you want to feel, is tantamount to admitting to Falling. Castiel is torn on the inside – the tantalising glimpses he has had of what it is like to be and feel human, from Dean's memory, from Anna's shared memories from her ascension, have been enough to tempt Castiel. He feels weak and worried.
“You're twisted on the inside,” Michael says, dropping down beside Castiel and staring into his eyes. “What has done this to you?” He places a hand over Castiel's heart, his vessel's heart, and Castiel can feel Michael looking through him.
“I don't know,” Castiel lies though he knows that Michael will see it for what it is.
“Uriel has voiced concerns about you,” Michael says. “That you are becoming too attached to the humans.”
“Uriel's always been able to maintain his distance. It's not so easy for me.”
“No. It wouldn't be. You were ever a compassionate one – I'm sure that is why our Father chose you to steal Dean Winchester away from Hell.”
“I worry for him,” Castiel says, looking at the roof beneath him as if it will reveal the Winchesters to him. “I cannot control it.”
“And that, in turn, worries you,” Michael says. He takes his hand away from Castiel's chest and links it with his other, allowing them to fall into his lap. It's so simply human a gesture that Castiel feels a smile pulling at his mouth.
“You're afraid,” Michael says, looking out across the motel carpark. “Of what Dean will say and do when you appear before him. And you are worried that being afraid is a prelude to something you cannot understand. Right?”
“Yes,” Castiel says with a tight nod. “I do not want to Fall.”
“Then you will not, Castiel,” Michael turns his head and smiles. “You won't Fall simply for feeling - we felt once before. Our world is changing to fit a new Plan and who are we to say whether this is not part of that Plan?”
“You're much better at reassuring than I am,” Castiel says, smiling at himself. “I have much to learn.”
“You've already learned more than many of us, little brother,” Michael says, gripping Castiel's shoulder for a moment. “We cannot ask more of you than what you are already doing.”
Castiel nods his gratitude and finds his courage restored from within, feeling it welling up inside of him, bountiful and strong. Michael takes his hand away and smiles at Castiel and there's something in it that reminds him of Dean.
“Now, brother,” Michael stands again, showing no care for his proximity to the edge of the roof. “Shall we surprise your Winchesters?”
Castiel takes the hand offered to him and stands, breathing deep of the crisp January air. He is ready.
Dean burns with his wrath. Castiel had known it would be difficult to face but even after months of watching Dean he isn't prepared for this. The wrath surrounds Dean like a cloak of ever-moving rage and it hurts Castiel to look at it.
“Eight weeks without so much as 'I'll throw you back into Hell',” Dean snarls. Sam watches but says nothing and Castiel knows, from the way he stands, that his disapproval is far less than Dean's. Castiel idly wonders if Sam has ever approved of his presence, beyond saving Dean from Hell, and even as he thinks it knows that it is a lie – Sam doesn't disapprove because Sam's expectations have been destroyed. It makes Castiel feel hollow inside.
“We hunted down and defended three seals, saved one by accident, exorcised a hell of a lot of demons and generally kicked ass and took names,” Dean's fury makes his eyes glow and it's all Castiel can do to stand his ground, unflinching. “Oh, yeah, and there were a couple of times when both of nearly did die. How would the Big Plan go then, huh?”
Castiel wants to answer but he knows that Dean isn't really asking that question – Dean is asking: 'Why did you leave me?' 'Why did you endanger my brother?' And, most damning of all for Castiel, 'Why won't you help me?' It breaks his heart to see Dean so consumed by wrath.
“Where were you, Cas?” Dean demands, the shortened name cutting across Castiel like a knife. “Too busy hanging your tail between your legs before your Lord and Master because Anna set herself free?”
Sam flinches at this and Castiel knows that Sam thinks Dean has gone too far.
“Dean, that's enough,” Sam puts a hand on his brother's shoulder. For a moment Castiel worries that Dean will strike Sam and he realises that Sam almost expects it. Dean glares at Sam for a long moment and Castiel holds his host's breath. Dean's shoulders slump suddenly and he shrugs away from Sam's hand, falling backwards to sit on the bed behind him.
Now Castiel is free to speak and he steps forward to encourage both of the Winchesters to look at him. Dean cannot, he notes.
“Our War hasn't been going well,” Castiel says and he can still feel the blood of his brothers on his hands. “There has been no time to contact you. No time, Dean. But that does not mean you haven't been watched.”
Both Dean and Sam show surprise at this and it lessens Dean's wrath enough that Castiel can truly look at him. Dean has hardly been sleeping, the watchers have told Castiel that much, but now Castiel can see that the exhaustion hangs from Dean like a well-worn coat. Castiel aches to take Dean's nightmares away but the only person who can stop them is Dean.
“If you had truly been in danger you would have been saved,” Castiel says. “Take our invisibility as a sign of our faith in you, Dean.”
Dean holds Castiel's eyes for a long moment and Castiel can see that he is trying to find it within himself to believe what Castiel is saying. Castiel thinks he's never hoped so much for belief in his life. Dean turns his head away, finally, and Castiel thinks there might be just the tiniest flicker of something like hope in Dean's chest. It makes him smile, against all odds, it fills him with happiness.
“Uriel?” Dean asks. “He still pissed?”
“Uriel has been assigned elsewhere,” Castiel says. “He finds it difficult to control himself when you rile him.”
Dean grins at that and Castiel wants to smile back but keeps his human face straight, emotionless. Dean Winchester: the only human who could delight in angering an Archangel of Uriel's power.
“You said the War is going badly,” Sam says, his words turning up at the end as if he wants to ask a question. Castiel switches his focus to the younger Winchester and nods.
“Lilith is massing numbers that we cannot hope to defeat,” Castiel says. “She is attacking more and more places with multiple armies and we can never be certain which battles are the true battles and which are the decoys. Many of my brothers have been lost.”
“So what's the Big Man upstairs doing about it?” Dean asks, intent. “Surely he can't just let it slide when his kids are being killed, right?”
Castiel wrinkles his nose at Dean's phrasing.
“We're being reinforced,” Castiel admits. “More of my brethren are taking arms. Those above us are called to battle as well. And -”
Castiel pauses, wondering if Dean will be able to understand how important it is that Michael has come to earth. He has no doubts that Sam will understand, he knows Sam has always had the stronger faith in Heaven, but he is not certain if Dean will be the same.
“And what, dude?” Dean prompts, leaning forward.
“Michael has been commanded to join us,” Castiel says, watching Dean's face. Sam shifts and Castiel knows that Sam has recognised the importance of the moment. Dean tilts his head to one side as if he's trying to uncover something he used to know.
“Archangel, right? Flaming sword, holy fire and all that?” Dean asks and Castiel barely restrains a sigh of relief. Dean understands.
“Michael is here?” Sam asks and Castiel nods.
“He is,” Castiel says and then Michael is, as if summoned, here. Sam and Dean start, Sam's eyes widening in awe, Dean rolling his eyes at himself.
“Dean, Sam,” Michael says, nodding at one and then the other. Sam is stripped of certainty and Michael takes pity on him, moving forward to take Sam's hand and shake it firmly.
“Do you truly wish to walk the path you have chosen?” Michael asks Sam, his words ringing with formality.
“All I want to do is help people, save them,” Sam says, looking wide-eyed into Michael's eyes.
“The strength of your resolve is astounding,” Michael says, tipping his head to one side for a moment. “I believe you are a great ally to our cause, Sam Winchester, so long as you are with your brother.”
“Thank you,” Sam says and the air is thick with his gratitude. Michael truly is better at reassuring people than Castiel - though his final words are a warning that Sam takes with a nod.
“And Dean,” Michael turns to Dean, releasing Sam's hand, and Castiel finds himself holding his breath again. He wants Dean to be ready, he wants to be able to prove that he has done right, done well. Dean stands but lifts his head in defiance – as if daring Michael to challenge him. This time Castiel smiles.
“You don't need to prove yourself to me, Dean,” Michael says, shaking his head with a smile. “I can see your spirit, I can see your truth, when the time comes I know you will be ready.”
Castiel breathes out.
“Ready for what?” Dean asks and Michael's smile turns down.
“Ready for the beginning,” Michael says, touching a hand to Dean's forehead in a benediction that takes Castiel's breath away. “The beginning of the end.”
Given that Uriel has come in with the pissier version of badassery and Michael, though totally hardcore, is also associated with the sick - I've tried the more compassionate route for him. Michael is also a character in a book that I've worked on off and on over the years so I had to work quite hard to make sure that this Michael wasn't my Michael.
For those interested in who Michael chose as his vessel I direct your attention this way. In my ever so humble opinion - they'd be missing a trick if they didn't cast him in the part. Particularly given that one moment, which I've seen iconned a lot, where he and Misha look scarily alike.