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Heaven's Descent

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Summary: Castiel is killed again, and brought back, fifteen years earlier. Something's changed about our favorite angel, and even he doesn't know the whole of it. AU from Season 5 SPN.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > General
Stargate > General
KagekoFR15652,5951133,6277 Oct 1219 Nov 12No

Chapter Four: The Split

Title: Heaven's Descent: The Split

Rating: Teen or so?

Characters/Pairing(s): Castiel, Jimmy, Sam, Dean, Gabriel (SPN), Jesse, Cordelia, Buffy, Angel, Xander, Willow (BtVS), Sam (SG1), Crowley, Adam, Pepper (Good Omens)/one-sided Cordelia+Jimmy

Summary: Cas spends some time introspecting, and an antichrist does them an unasked-for favor. Jimmy finds out Interesting Things; meanwhile, Duckzilla rampages in Canada.

Disclaimer: All I own is the weird stuff from my brain, and even some of that is just borrowed. Anything SPN is Kripke, SG1 is MGM, BtVS is Joss, and whatever others got their fingers in the copyrights cookie jar.

Warnings: Spoilers up to the end of Season 5 of Supernatural.
Chapter 04: The Split

~@~

If anyone bothered to ask Castiel what he did when he wasn't talking to people, they might be surprised at his reply. Standing in a place where there was no actual footing, just outside of the atmosphere, looking down on the jewel of his Father's creation, Castiel thought. He listed various Fallen in his mind, partly for Jimmy's benefit, and tried to determine where he would find them. For his own amusement, he listed them alphabetically.

First, there was Azazel. Azazel was already off his list of possible angels to attempt communication with, but he still felt like he shouldn't leave him unremembered. The only thing he wanted with that Fallen was to kill him.

Next was Aziraphale (technically not Fallen, but he had been one of Earth's longest residents), who had been involved in one of Hell's previous attempts to free Lucifer.

'???' It wasn't an actual question, but Jimmy's interest had Castiel examining that thought.

'One of Hell's previous attempts..?'

'The question is,' Jimmy pointed out, 'was it just Hell, or is that what you were told?'

Frustration. Castiel was stuck doubting everything he had ever been told about anything Apocalypse related (except for what he had learned after the fact). He hated having to doubt his siblings, but had to admit, in the recesses of his own mind, that they were the ones who started this cycle. If it weren't for angels, apocalypses, that is, biblical apocalypses, wouldn't even be on the table. Unfortunately, Castiel had to know, and Aziraphale would be a good source of information.

He remembered the angel in the dumpy vessel from his search for his Father. Aziraphale had been sympathetic to his plight, but wholly unable to help. 'The bookshop in New York?' asked Jimmy. 'I remember this, a little. If we can't find him, who do we look for next?'

'I would rather not seek out Beijing,'
Castiel noted. Aziraphale, if he felt that he could help, would. Beijing was too focused. In response to Jimmy's quiet interest in the subject, Cas added, 'The city you know grew up around that one. He is focused, similarly to how I am focused, but our focuses are not the same as each other's. We are both soldiers, but Beijing is a guardian. We wouldn't understand each other well.' That was an understatement, but Castiel didn't need to tell Jimmy as much. His vessel had understood, in a limited, human sort of way.

'I see... Next?'

There were quite a few between one and the next, and Castiel jumped completely away from the alphabetical order thing to the next Fallen he might be willing to speak with. 'Zerachiel,' he noted. Zerachiel was nearly as focused on her duties as Beijing; she was so focused, in fact, that the Fall had done nothing to keep her from following her previously designated path. She may have supported Lucifer, but she still appeared regularly at the gates of both Heaven and Hell with her reapers. 'Samael,' he added. Samael was a special case. When Lucifer had cast aside his original name, Samael was created, and somehow, during all the fighting, the confused new angel had Fallen along with the previous bearer of his name. 'Or had he?' Castiel wondered.

'???'

'I don't see why he would have,'
Cas admitted. Although, there had been that thing with Sandalphon... No, he doubted that that had any bearings on Samael's Fall. Jimmy's curiosity was almost unbearable, and Castiel cast about to find something to distract them both. Far down below, New York looked like a blazing beacon. Yes, he would go speak with Aziraphale and find out what happened during the not-Apocalypse that he had been involved in.

~@~

"You're not going to explode, are you?" the demon asked the pregnant woman as she tried to settle back into a chair. The lump was barely visible yet, and the woman was growing irritated with him. It wasn't his fault that he didn't know what to do with her. The only times he had anything to do with pregnancy was being the cause of the pregnancy, by whispering in the right ear at the right time. After all, temptation was his game. Usually, after that, he didn't have anything to do with the kid until it was talking at least.

"I'm not going to explode, Crowley," she sighed, scowling when he tried to stuff a pillow behind her back. "I'm only three months along! I don't need to be coddled! Why is it that both you and Adam went crazy around the time I got pregnant?"

In echo of his previous thoughts, Crowley said, "It's not like I know what to do with a pregnant woman. Adam, either. Small family, you know."

She blew a lock of fiery red hair away from her nose. "Well, stop treating me like an invalid."

Crowley wrung his hands together. As far as Adam was concerned, Pepper was his queen, and if anything happened to her on Crowley's watch, the best thing that he could hope for was Adam throwing him to the wolves by removing his protection. He knew better than to mention this to Pepper, though; she'd only get exasperated with him and make him leave the room. "I could go visit Aziraphale?" he said, only it came out as a question. "He moved his shop here to New York, you know."

"Yes, I know," she responded, rolling her eyes. "Go, visit him, or something. Just get out of my hair."

It occurred to Crowley that the couple would be happier to spend their honeymoon without his lurking presence, anyway. "Alright," he said, nodding decisively. "I'm going now." Outside, the city smelled better than it had in over a century, and the weather was pleasantly warm. It was like walking out onto a movie set. It was interesting to see just how far an Antichrist's influence was able to spread once he reached adulthood.

~@~

Jimmy insisted that there was something odd going on in New York. Castiel honestly couldn't tell, but he heeded his vessel's insistence. He understood well enough that he didn't know the human world as well as a human.'Are you sure that this Aziraphale is in New York?'

'He was in 2009,' the angel agreed silently. As much as he didn't like the thought of having been lied to even more than he had known, Castiel had to admit that Jimmy was right. The Apocalypse of 2009 was probably not the first one. While he hadn't been involved, of course, he could clearly remember hearing something about the forces of Hell having made an attempt some ten years or so ago (some time in the eighties, if he had the timing right). It was far more likely to have been a mutual attempt, and Aziraphale had been the only angel on Earth at the time.

Castiel was at a loss as to how to find Aziraphale. When he had been a great distance above New York, he had been able to sense him, in the distance, but now that he was in here, it was like something had thrown a shroud across his senses. That shroud obscured his memory, even, of the location of the Aziraphale's book shop. Just as the angel was getting ready to buckle down and check every single book store in the city, something rocketed out the door of the nearby hotel and came crashing into him. He tumbled to the ground along with the perpetrator, who looked absolutely horrified to see Castiel.

"Oh, Manchester," the person (a demon? no, not a demon, perhaps a Fallen, but all Castiel could sense on him was the taint of Hell) gasped and started scooting away from the angel, on his butt, in obvious panic. "Please don't kill me, please don't kill me!"

Castiel blinked from his own position on the ground. Perhaps he should ignore the plea? Not that he wanted to kill the... He blinked again. The man was definitely another angel, not Fallen, yet still inundated with Hell-taint. "I intend you no harm," Castiel said with a puzzled frown. "I'm merely looking for someone. Who are you?"

The other angel was holding a hand to his chest (like he was human and could have a heart attack), but appeared to calm down some. "Crowley," he said. "I... ah... Is there a reason for an angel not to kill a demon on sight?"

"What?" he asked, tilting his head in mild confusion. "You are not a demon."

"Am so!" the other angel insisted indignantly.

"You are not," Castiel replied with a minute head shake.

"Am so," Crowley (and wasn't that a coincidence? One of the few demon's Cas was on speaking terms with carried the same name) insisted again, beginning to scowl.

"You are not." Castiel was growing slightly irritated, and Jimmy's amusement at their argument (which Castiel didn't think was all that funny) only exacerbated it.

"Am so."

"You are not."

"Am so!"

Castiel very nearly started to growl. "You are not."

This continued in the very same vein for several minutes before a man's amused voice cut in to the argument. "He thinks he is," the man (strangely charismatic, even to Castiel's blunted senses, and there was an odd glow to him that made Jimmy react like they were being threatened) said, smiling down at them. For some reason, neither of them had bothered to get up from where they had fallen (excepting Crowley's initial scooting away).

"What's that supposed to mean?" the wannabe demon asked, holding on to his indignation.

"Well, Sammy," the man began amusedly, white teeth glinting under the streetlights, and Castiel automatically dissected the name (Sammy, short for Samuel, a derivative of... Aaaahh...), "it doesn't take a demon to live in Hell; much like it doesn't take a human to live on Earth."

Crowley scowled up at the man. "I Fell," he said, more irritated with the discussion than angry, "for reasons irrelevant. That makes me a demon."

"If you say so," the man said, shrugging.

"So that's where you went," Castiel muttered, trying to ignore Jimmy's attempt to niggle more information from him. For some reason, the man was giving him a curious look, ignoring the not-demon Crowley's grouchy protests.

"Why are there two of you?" the man asked, a faint frown forming on his lips. "No, that's not right. Let me fix that."

Suddenly Castiel's world turned inside out, and much to his alarm, Jimmy sounded like he was miles away.

~@~

"I would swear," said the angel's double, from the back seat of Crowley's Bentley, less than half an hour later, "that Freddie Mercury never did anything with such... classical accompaniment. If I didn't know better, I would say that was Bach."

Crowley sighed sadly. "If anything stays in here for more than a fortnight, it turns into a Best of Queen album," he admitted. "It's a curse, and I'm not sure where I picked it up. Also, you, in the back?" The man? Crowley wasn't sure if he was a man, but he wasn't an angel, not really. Anyway, he sat up in the back to look Crowley in the eye via the rear-view mirror. "Don't you go believing this angel that I'm an angel, alright?"

"Alright. I don't need Castiel to tell me anything. There's nothing wrong with my senses." Once offending Crowley, he dropped back in his seat with a strange smile on his face. "My name is Jimmy, by the way, since you seem afraid to ask for my name."

"Jimmy isn't a name;" Crowley sniffed, "it's a horrible derivative that parents saddle their children with."

"James sounds pretentious," he shrugged.

"I'll call you James," Crowley began, but was interrupted.

"You call me James, I'll call you Sama..."

Crowley interrupted back. "Jimmy. What a fine name, that. Very earthy. It just positively screams 'No imagination!'"

Jimmy chuckled, "Thanks, I try." He sat up again, the beige trench coat that both he and Castiel now wore falling around his elbows. "When do you think Cas is coming back?"

"No idea." On that note, Crowley's fingers gripped the steering wheel more tightly. "Say, Jimmy... Do you have any idea what's going to happen to me? Not wanting to sound selfish, and all, but I think I'm justifiably worried about this. At least with Adam, I was sure of my... welcome, I suppose you could say. I'm not so sure of this Castiel fellow. Never met him, you know. Not that I met many angels, and even in Hell, most angels didn't survive long. Something ate a lot of us."

Jimmy's bright blue eyes met his in the rear-view mirror again. "What?"

"Well, you know, quite a few of us Fell that first time, right? There aren't too many angels left in Hell, though. I heard that Kushiel figured out the problem and contained it, somehow." Crowley didn't say that he had never actually found out what had been eating his Fallen brethren. It was obvious without his admitting it. "But I'm more wondering what Castiel is going to do with me, because it's not like I can go to Hell like this."

"He'll probably give you a few rules to follow then leave you to mind your own business," Jimmy said, shrugging.

Crowley digested that for a moment. "Right... He's an Independent, isn't he?" He could see Jimmy's frown, even though the man didn't actually look up at him this time. "His lot always did do better without someone looking over their shoulders all the time."

"Cas was thinking about that, once," Jimmy said. "I'm not sure I understand what it means." Crowley didn't have an answer, and it was just as well, as the angel in question returned to the car.

"There was a line," Castiel said, possibly in explanation of the time it took, or possibly as a mere statement of fact.

"There often are," Jimmy replied, confirming the second possibility. He held out his hand, and the angel handed him a small bundle of Slim Jims. "Ah, thank you, Cas. It's like you knew exactly what I wanted." The angel arched an eyebrow at Crowley and opened a fifth of Jim Bean. "Yeck, didn't you get enough of that last time?"

"After today, I thought I should try again," Castiel shrugged, tossing back virtually a third of the bottle in one long gulp.

Crowley started up the car, bemused at the juxtaposition he was witnessing. Shouldn't it have been the angel telling the human not to drink? He glanced back at Jimmy, and half of the Slim Jims (the small bundle had been more like a large handful, nearly a dozen packages) were already gone from their wrappers. These two sure could shame a demon of gluttony, he mused, as Jimmy made pleased noises around yet another stick and Castiel worked on polishing off the rest of the bottle.

~@~

Jimmy not being in Castiel's head with him had felt rather strange. His grace quivered around the pieces of Jimmy that seemed to have been left behind. If he looked too closely, he could see a significant portion of his grace still wrapped throughout his vessel's (not actually his vessel, anymore, now was he?) soul. To be fair, Jimmy looked as at a loss as Castiel felt. And Samael, or Crowley as he preferred to be called, wasn't helping things. Oh, he was trying, but it seemed to be one of those things that one couldn't expect him to be capable with.

There was also the problem of wrapping his mind around the reason that Crowley had been left in his care. Surely an antichrist, as Adam had turned out to be, was far more capable of keeping Crowley safe from the forces of Hell. An antichrist... It was no wonder that Jimmy had been so riled up at the man's presence; strange, yes, but no wonder.

"This one," Castiel said, and the Bentley whipped into the driveway of one of Sunnydale's many mansions. Jimmy made a noise of complaint in the backseat, muttering something about whiplash and how cars nearly a hundred years old shouldn't move like that. Paying only the slightest amount of attention to Jimmy's words, Castiel got out of the car and stared at the building. It was older than the car, but unlike the car, it actually looked its age. It had been abandoned for quite some time. "How do I own it?"

Crowley's distaste was obvious, but he replied quickly, "You buy it."

Castiel sighed, and Jimmy chuckled, pointing out, "We don't have viable identities, Crowley. It's a thing."

The look on the other angel's face turned thoughtful. "I have assets," he replied. "I can procure it for you, as well as identities. I'll want something in return, of course." Crowley seemed to enjoy pretending that he was a demon, so the attempt at a bargain made perfect sense.

"What do you want?" Castiel asked, genuinely curious.

"I want Aziraphale here," he stated flatly. He said it in a way that suggested that he didn't think Cas would do it; however...

It was just another problem for him to turn over in his mind. "As long as that antichrist is in New York, I can't contact him directly," he said, "but I do know where Aziraphale is, and can offer him a place here, should he desire it." Castiel had liked Aziraphale and the thought of him being constantly available to converse with was a pleasant one. "You are friends with Aziraphale?" he asked.

Crowley blinked at him, drawing attention to his strange, yellow, snake-like eyes, even hidden as they were behind dark sunglasses. Cautiously, the other angel said, "Yes..."

"I don't suppose you would know what happened with this last Apocalypse, would you?" Because he was watching, Castiel saw the way Crowley tensed up. The other angel knew something, certainly. "Were you there?" he asked, curiosity piqued again. While the other didn't answer, Jimmy watched the exchange interestedly. "Please, satisfy my curiosity."

"You're with Heaven," Crowley eventually replied, shaking his head, eyes guarded.

"I am not," Castiel said.

"Maybe later," he finally replied. "You want me to purchase this ugly place? It's a fixer-uper, just so you know."

"Yes." Castiel did want the mansion. One way or another, he was going to have it. He didn't actually need Crowley's help; it was preferable, but he didn't actually need it.

~@~

Later that night, Castiel heard a loud, human prayer for help, and wondered why he had heard it. 'Oh please god, please, help me, please!' The tear filled voice was familiar, in a way, and it took Castiel less than a second to realize who it was. It was that boy that had run into him on his first visit to Sunnydale, the boy with the bicycle. Deciding what to do about the plea, Castiel assessed the boy's situation.

Yes, he did need help, and Dean would have been pissed if Castiel had chosen to do anything but help the boy. That made it an easy choice.

All the demons in the dank cavern were already dust when he turned to check on the boy.

~@~

A block away, on the opposite side of the road from where she lived, Cordelia observed two very nice cars in a driveway. Considering the neighborhood in which she lived, that shouldn't have been such a surprise, except that the mansion they were parked in front of had been abandoned for as long as she could remember. One of the cars was a classic, wine red Jaguar coup, and Cordelia had no idea what year it was, but it was a beautiful car. The other car was much older looking, shiny black and to her eyes, resembled some of the nicer cars in silent films. She had no idea what it was, but was very aware that it would be an extremely expensive car today.

It was unlikely that even her dad would be able to afford a car like that.

The only reason that she approached the house was out of curiosity. In any case, the owners of the cars might become her neighbors, and they might have kids her age! At first, she almost didn't recognize Mr. Novak standing in between the two cars, talking to a man with slicked back black hair, wearing all black, but doing it right. He was a very good looking man, even standing next to Mr. Novak, who, now that he was wearing something other than that cheap suit, looked even better.

Next to the expensive black slacks, black silk shirt, fine silver tie and classy sunglasses, Mr. Novak was a veritable fount of color. Instead of the cheap, white cotton button-down he had worn before, he had a burgundy colored silk shirt, and instead of the cheap blue wool suit, he wore beige and white pinstriped slacks that would match his trench coat if he had been wearing it, a cream colored tie and waistcoat that matched the pants. He looked classy. Cordelia was impressed.

Disappointingly, the two men seemed to be engaged in a very serious conversation, so she wasn't sure if she wanted to interrupt. She had just come to the decision to walk away and try again at a later time when the man in black indicated her presence to Mr. Novak. He looked pleasantly surprised. "Miss Chase, it's good to see you again!"

Looking him up and down, Cordelia smiled and said, "It's good to see you wearing something else."

The other man laughed brightly at her words. "I had to rescue him from a Ross. Don't even start to think that he picked that himself! He rightly can't be trusted to dress himself." Mr. Novak looked offended at that. "It's nice to meet you, Miss Chase; I'm Anthony J. Crowley, the butler." If anything, Mr. Novak looked even more offended.

"You are not a butler," he said stiffly, and Cordelia stifled a giggle. "You are the least likely person I've ever met to butle anything, Sama..."

Mr. Crowley interrupted, "Ooh, look at the time! I had better get back inside and butle my butt off!" Mr. Crowley then hustled toward the house.

"It's a novel experience," Mr. Novak stated with an amused smirk, "having blackmail that doesn't lose its influence."

"If he's the one who picked your clothes, I'd forgive quite a few trespasses," Cordelia said, smiling. "It looks good."

He gave an uncomfortable cough, and leaned up against the wine colored car. "Yes well, you know, I've never really been a clothes horse. What brings you here, Miss Chase?"

"I saw cars, and wondered who my new neighbors were going to be." She pointed at her house, just down the street. "See? That's my house."

"It's a big house." He glanced back at the mansion behind him. "Interesting coincidence, isn't it? I don't really like the place, personally." He fidgeted for a moment, looking down at his hands. "Crowley thinks that it needs some work, but Cas went through and... took my suggestions." Here, Mr. Novak stopped and sighed, placing a hand on his forehead as though whatever Castiel had done pained him. "He's not very subtle about anything. I barely said a word, and things were done, and Crowley seems to want to add a personal touch to every little thing."

"It almost sounded like he wanted to play butler," Cordelia murmured. She figured, for Mr. Crowley, it would certainly be a game.

Mr. Novak chuckled and shook his head. "A place this big deserves a butler. I just think it's too big. Let Crowley play at being the butler if that's what he wants in his shriveled little heart. In the meantime, I'll try to figure out what to do with all the extra space."

"Actually, Mr. Novak... I was wondering, where is Castiel?" She, like Mr. Novak, seemed to have difficulty not fidgeting.

"In Colorado, I think," he replied. "Or something. To tell the truth, he could be anywhere. Ah, and before I forget: He can't possess me anymore."

That was a relief. "Oh, good. I thought... Are you going to stay in Sunnydale?" she asked, letting a frown cross her face. As much as she really didn't want to, there was someone that she thought she should introduce Mr. Novak to. He nodded in reply, giving her his full attention. "Okay. There's this girl at school, she's a... You know what? This sounds a little stupid, but, she's supposed to be this vampire slayer, and it's supposed to be a big deal, and I was wondering if it was legit."

"Vampire slayer?" he asked dubiously. "That's not a job description I've ever heard of... How would you apply for something like that?" Then he shook his head sharply. "No, that isn't important..!"

"You know," Cordelia replied, "I was wondering the same thing!" He just stared. "Anyway, should I think, if you haven't heard of it, that it isn't legit? Because, if it isn't, then she got super-strength from somewhere, like a radioactive spider or something..."

"Way to out yourself as a nerd," he said, smiling slightly.

What did she... "Shit." She sighed and shook her head. "I don't think it matters. It's not like you talk much when cornered by a bunch of girls."

"I found that whole ordeal to be incredibly awkward," he told her.

Cordelia shook her head again, amused. "I know." He gaped slightly, hiding the response almost as soon as he had done it. "You're cute when you're awkward," she informed him. Returning back to her initial problem, she continued, "I was wondering if you would be able to tell me what was up with her, you know, if you met her."

He shook his head slightly. "Not much with the ESP thing. I don't doubt that I would be able to tell that there was something going on; I just doubt that I would be able to tell you what. I have the senses, due to the whole angelic possession thing; I just don't know how to read them."

"Oh." Cordelia pursed her lips. "If it's too confusing, would you be able to ask Castiel?"

His expression cleared, and the faint smile that had been fading came back. "Yes, I would. When would be a good time?"

"I'm sure they'll be at the Bronze tonight," she said, deviously telling herself that she could easily make this look like a date. "You're a little over-dressed for the Bronze though... I'm not sure if anyone would notice."

He looked amused. "It isn't one of those tee-shirts-and-torn-jeans clubs, is it?"

Cordelia grimaced. "Close enough, actually, but it's the only club we have. What you're wearing is too close to white. If anyone spills something, you'll never be able to wear it again. I suggest darker colors."

"Alright," he said, still amused. "Since you and Crowley seem to be in agreement about my lack of taste, could you be more specific?"

"Tell him," she suggested. "He seems to have good taste. Just tell him that it's a casual club, and he should get the picture." Cordelia eyed the car that he still leaned against. "Is it yours?" He nodded, smiling, so she said, "I'll just come back in an hour, and I can give you directions then."

~@~

Cordelia had barely met Crowley (after finding out that the man was British, she struck the Mr. from his name, deeming it unimportant), but she seriously wanted to kiss him. He never did say what it was Mr. Novak (she needed to call him Jimmy, because this was going to look awkward if she kept referring to him by Mr. anything) was trying to buy from Ross, but she could imagine: cheap jeans and packaged tee-shirts. He seemed like the sort, especially after what he had said before about not being a clothes horse.

Crowley had impeccable taste. He might tease Jimmy (and Jimmy gave back as good as he got), as she had found from the short interaction that she had actually observed, but he could definitely pick the right clothes for the man. Dark grey slacks and a sapphire blue silk shirt; there was no tie this time, but he had his trench coat with him, thrown casually over one arm. She almost felt bad for him, but, as she had told him before, he was cute when he was awkward. He shifted uncomfortably, casting nervous looks toward the doors. "This has never really been my kind of place."

"They have food," she told him, and pointed him toward the bar. "I'll go find them. Meanwhile, try not to accidentally touch any vampires where people can see you." She left him then, to seek out Buffy and her Slayerettes. It shouldn't have been a surprise when the easiest to spot was Xander Harris, dressed in a truly hideous Hawaiian shirt. Grimacing at the very idea of talking to him, she forced herself to approach. "Is Buffy here?" She yelled, hoping that she wouldn't have to repeat herself.

He stilled and looked at her. "What?" he called back.

Rolling her eyes, Cordelia yelled again, louder, "Is Buffy here?"

Xander made a face then waved his hand near his ear. "What!?"

Letting the frustration show on her face, she reached out, snagged his shirt and pulled him down to yell directly into his ear, "Is Buffy here?!" He jerked away with a pained sound that she could barely hear over the noise of the crowd. "Well?!" She stomped her foot.

"Holy Jesus," he snapped, rubbing his ear. "Yes, she is, alright, I'll take you to her. Hold your freaking horses!" He went less than five feet, and Buffy was there, sitting with Willow, Jesse and... Angel. Angel was a bit of a surprise: He had seemed too cool to be hanging with these bozos, but to each his own, Cordelia supposed.

She followed him, unsure of what else to do. Ignoring everyone else, including Angel (whose name she felt to be slightly ironic), she focused on Buffy. "I brought someone here who knows things, and I wanted you to meet him," she said, perfectly serious.

"Who 'knows' things?" Buffy asked, frowning at her. "That's a phrase that inspires confidence. Why do you want me to meet him?"

"Because when I met him, he turned several vampires to ash just by touching them," Cordelia replied. She didn't miss the apprehension on Angel's face at her words; those words were the second reason that she wanted the two to meet; Angel's reaction, on the other hand, was a surprise. The first reason was exactly what she had said to Jimmy. "He's a good guy, and I think, if he knew a little more about the situation here, he would want to help."

"Just by... Really?" Buffy's eyes were wide, and it was totally obvious that she missed the thing with Angel. The only other person that seemed to have noticed was Xander, and Cordelia just wasn't touching that.

"Yeah, I sent him over to the bar, so come on." When they got to him, Jimmy was prodding a half-melted pastry on a paper plate across the counter with a plastic spork. "What is that?" Cordelia asked because she honestly couldn't tell. The spork was only touching the pastry, but it was the plate that was moving. Also, Jimmy was dressed too nicely to be so much as touching a spork. Where was the justice in the universe?

"It was purported to be a cinnamon bun," he replied, turning to them. The second his eyes landed on Angel, an unhealthy shade of green rose in his face, and he turned quickly away, squeaking slightly. "You're cursed," he said, refusing to look at him. "In a way that's oh, wow, nauseating."

While Cordelia blinked in surprise, and Buffy went forgotten, Angel murmured, "Yes?"

Still turned away, Jimmy stated, "You're like a metaphysical pretzel. Miss Chase, is this the vampire slayer you were mentioning?"

"Uhm, no. The vampire slayer would be the blonde girl. I'm sure I indicated 'female,' earlier," Cordelia pouted.

"I'm not looking close enough to tell," he said. In a move that made sure that Angel remained out of his sight, he turned to observe the rest of the party. Again skipping Buffy, he exclaimed in mild surprise, "Jesse, is that you?"

The boy jerked in response. "Who, no, how do you know me?"

Jimmy smiled at him in a friendly manner. "You met Castiel, right?"

Jesse paled. "How do you know Castiel?"

Cordelia didn't give Jimmy a chance to answer, instead repeating Jesse's question - at Jesse. "How do you know him?" she asked, placing her hands on her hips.

Jimmy waved her down (all the while making sure that his back was to Angel). "Cas rescued him," he said.

"When was that?" she asked archly.

"Within the past few days?" He shrugged. "Interesting group you dragged over here. The blonde is a vampire slayer?" Jimmy finally actually looked at Buffy, and seemed to find her more confusing than anything else. "There's something demonic there. I don't know. Cas would be able to say more. The rest of you... Well, we've got a vessel, and a... demi-goddess and a..." He looked at Xander and shook his head. "You, I hope I'm mistaking what I'm seeing, because if not... that's just not so good."

~@~

An hour later, Jimmy was still trying to tell the abomination not to talk, or move or do anything, because every time it did, it made him queasy. Like Cordelia, he found Angel's name to be ironic. Unlike Cordelia, he couldn't enjoy the irony, which he also found ironic. "I suspect Cas would be able to sort you out," he told the man-shaped-demonic-mess. "Fix that curse, somehow."

And that's how they ended up behind the Bronze, Jimmy dialing Castiel's cell phone (everything they had on them had been duplicated, somehow, when Adam had split them, and somehow, no, their phone numbers were different, and Jimmy had to blame that one on Adam as well) to ask if he wanted to try to fix Angel. "Allow me to look, first," Castiel said, only a foot away. If Jimmy hadn't been his vessel for so long, he might have succumbed to the same shock and horror that seemed to suffuse the rest of the group. "What an interesting group," the angel commented, in his quietly gruff manner. He stared momentarily at the boy in the ugly Hawaiian shirt then turned to the abomination, like that's what he had been planning all along.

"I thought you might not like to leave that alone," Jimmy said, stepping away. The other boy, Jesse, his eyes darted back and forth between Cas and Jimmy like he was only just recognizing the similarities in their appearance (more like, how they looked exactly the same, and at the same time, completely different; this one, Jimmy blamed on the way they carried themselves, and their attitudes).

Castiel just stood, preternaturally still, head tilted in that inhuman manner of his, as he studied Angel from only a foot away. The creature had been leery of Jimmy's idea, but unable to stand up to the combination of the others' "what can it hurt?" attitudes. "This is a tangled mess," Cas murmured, "and it shouldn't have happened to begin with. Be still," the words were an order, "and accept a second chance." With that short warning, the angel's palm was on the man-demon's forehead.

Unexpectedly, Angel didn't fall to dust at Castiel's touch. Instead, his eyes rolled back in his head, and it looked as though the only thing holding him up was Castiel's hand on his face. After a moment, Cas removed his hand, and Angel tumbled to the ground, and Jimmy was able to actually look at him. Angel was an attractive looking man (completely human, now, if Jimmy read it right); just looking at him, he might have been mistaken for an actor. "Huh," Jimmy muttered.

"Be in good health," Castiel said, like a benediction. At Jimmy's arched eyebrow (which Castiel rightly read as "Really? Channeling them again, are we?"), he added, mildly amused, "My apologies." His eyes (which seemed brighter than Jimmy's ever had in the mirror) trailed again to the boy in the Hawaiian shirt. "I must begin searching for Gabriel, I see."

There went Jimmy's hopes that the boy wasn't going to match up with his first impression. "Gabriel? I thought he was supposed to... you know..." kill all the nephilim, he finished silently. Surely the archangel wasn't going to be creating more after something like that, right?

The angel shrugged. "That was a long time ago," he acknowledged. "We'll talk later." And then Cas was gone.

As though Castiel's exit was her cue, the blonde girl started freaking out. "What did he do to Angel?!"

"I don't know. I think he's human now, if that makes you feel any better." All of a sudden, Jimmy wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and sleep, and hide for days. There was a vague suspicion that even if he went home immediately, he wouldn't get his way.

"What do you mean, now?" asked the blonde. Jesse and the other girl, the demi-goddess, looked worried, whereas the nephilim looked vindicated. Cordelia, for some reason, chose to display the same maturity that had had them talking for hours when they had met, and remained silent but watchful.

"He wasn't before, is what I mean," he sighed. "Now he is. Look, I've had a... complicated day, and I think it's high time I go home and bury myself under a rock and hope it isn't alive." Jimmy didn't mean that to be funny, but the nephilim and Jesse both snickered, and shortly, the demi-goddess joined them. "Hmm. Funny. I hope you remember being so cruel when you're my age and someone else is doing it to you. On the bright side, he" and Jimmy indicated Angel "is no longer making me sick."

"What's that got to do with us?" asked the nephilim.

"Me, not being sick on you," Jimmy replied, perfectly serious. He had been on the verge of throwing up since meeting Angel, and now that the nausea was gone, felt ten times better than he had. It didn't take away the urge to crawl into a hole to hide for the rest of his life, though.

"What was with the weird look, anyway?" asked the nephilim, and Jimmy shrugged, turning to walk away.

Cordelia was walking right next to him well before he reached his car. "So, that was unexpected, right?"

"Mmhmm," he agreed. "I think, if I had Cas' angel teleporting powers, I would be using them right now... except, I think it would be rude to leave you behind, and I don't want to ditch my car."

She snorted in response. "I still don't know what to think of him."

"No?" Jimmy, being the polite gentleman that he was, held open the passenger side door for her before going to the driver's side to get in. "You know, that awful burger place is probably still open?"

That got an actual laugh.

~@~

Gabriel weighed heavily on Castiel's mind as he borrowed the SGC's computers. Dean would have been shocked that he even knew how to use them, and Sam would have been just as surprised, just quieter about it. They didn't seem to realize that he learned all this from them. After all, what did an angel need with human technology? But finding Gabriel wasn't something that was going to be easy with his angelic senses, and he wasn't going to let himself dwell on how Gabriel had suddenly become a priority.

Sam's search algorithms for hunting down the so-called Trickster weren't that difficult to figure out. While he hadn't been there during the initial search, Sam had never guarded his computer against Cas; he guarded it against Dean, because of Dean's love of harmful things, and the fact that this tended to leave the computer not working properly, or in some cases, literally melting down. Castiel smiled, allowing the memory of that time to replay in his mind's eye.

"Dean!" Sam roared, bursting into the hotel room, clutching the computer in his hand. Castiel eyed the smoke lifting from it, wondered if it was actually melting, because he couldn't sense it like that anymore. "I swear to God, I know you did this!!"

Dean's eyes, that same earthy green that they had been, even in Hell, lit up, and Castiel could tell that he was trying not to grin. "I didn't do it, Irene did." A tiny smirk, completely unintended, which was rare for Dean these days, twisted his lips. "And she loved it, Sammy. You have no idea."

"You downloaded the Irene Demova virus?" Sam asked with award-winning patience.

"No, I looked at pictures of Irene Demova, that's all. Then the computer started smoking, so I shut the lid."

Sam, Castiel noted, did a good impression of a man going into cardiac arrest. Good enough that he was worried about it for all of two seconds, until Sam got enough air in his lungs to begin shrieking at Dean again.


Still smiling, Castiel noted that Dean was the perfect example of what not to do with a computer. His search results narrowed in to Ottawa, Canada, before he was interrupted at his self-appointed task. It was Sam, but not the Sam of his memories. Jack called her Major Carter, but she thought of herself as Sam. She just sat down next to him, fully aware that she wasn't going to be able to stop his computer usage by force.

"I hope you realize that this is bad for us, that we can't keep our computers secure from you," she said, quietly chiding him.

"Is this one of those, 'ask first' situations?" he asked, allowing the smile that had still been present to slip away into an attentive frown.

"Yes," she replied. "It really doesn't look good on us, that you're already in here, using them, and have been for..."

"Twenty-five minutes," he supplied. "If it would make you feel better, I could go and use NID's computers. They should have similar access."

"Why do you need to use them, anyway?" she asked, her eyes, blue like Jimmy's, darting to the screen. "And what's in Ottawa?"

"Possibly, my brother," Castiel replied. "This looks like his work." He indicated a grainy photograph of a wooden baby that looked strangely alive. "Jimmy saw a movie about this once." He could only remember sporadic details about Evil Dead, but it was enough to say that the tree could have impregnated the woman in the movie; movies are unrealistic that way.

Sam looked as though she had bitten into a lemon and found it not to her taste. "Okay. Why would your brother do that?" She indicated the picture.

Castiel tipped his head back, thinking. "I have no idea," he admitted. "But he does do it, so I must assume he has a reason, mustn't I?" They sat in silence for a long moment before either of them spoke again.

"Is he anything like you?" she asked dryly. "Because, I can tell you, we can't figure you out at all."

"I'm relatively simple," Castiel replied. "My brother, unlike me, actually has a sense of humor, I'm told."

She frowned at the picture. "That... Is that funny?"

"D..." Dean's name was choked off before it could fully come out. "Someone would have found it amusing. What humor I have... I don't get it. Perhaps Jack would be amused at the idea of karmatic punishment that should be in Weekly World News."

"The punishment fits the crime?" she asked rhetorically. "What kind of punishment is this?" She tapped the screen.

"I have no idea," Castiel repeated. "Next time, I will use NID's computers. My apologies for inconveniencing the SGC... after all, I rather like you." With a single flap of his wings, he was off to Ottawa, Canada.

~@~

More often than not, Gabriel thought of himself as Loki. It seemed to help suppress his true nature. Suppressing his true nature was possibly the only way he could ever keep hiding from his true family. So he suppressed his nature and folded it until it looked like that of a pagan god. Lately, no one had used his name, either of his names, actually, when addressing him. It almost made him sad, except for where it didn't.

Because, yeah, archangel, and did he actually need to have the insignificant mortals, running around on this little mud-ball like the rats they were, to venerate him to stoke his ego? No, he didn't, he was aware, perfectly aware of just what he was, and that was bigger than them.

It had been so long since someone had used his real name, so he almost missed it, in between one moment of Duckzilla's rampage and the next, because it was so damned quiet. "Gabriel." A small voice; gravelly like the speaker didn't know how to use it right; confident like it had already withstood Gabriel at his worst, and knew that it could weather anything he could throw at it.

His brother, for that was the nature of the being speaking to him, wore a human vessel, but he was alone in that body. On the human level, Gabriel would say that he looked unkempt, earnest and alien in a way that most humans would notice; alien in a way that Gabriel had long ago learned to hide.

"That duck is breathing fire," his brother commented idly.

"Most people would say something about it being a hundred feet tall before they even thought about the fire," Gabriel pointed out. "Who are you and what are you doing here?" The angel's jaw lifted, his head tipped to the side, a questioning look in his eyes. "I don't bother to remember peons. So you tell me, who are you?"

"Castiel," the angel replied, implacable, in that same gravelly tone. It was pleasant to the ear, Gabriel noted. "I've been looking for you."

"Yeah? You and all of Heaven," Gabriel snorted. "What do you want?"

"To talk." It was a short answer; straight to the point, yet Gabriel wasn't sure he believed it. Castiel's eyes, piercingly bright blue, were expectant.

Gabriel would have sighed, but didn't see the point. It wasn't like the sound would mean anything to most angels. "I don't want to talk. I'm kind of busy here, don't you see?"

"I see," Castiel noted. "It seems unimportant. I should tell you that I don't intend to try to convince you to return to Heaven, if that's what you're worried about. I'm merely seeking understanding."

An angel, seeking understanding? Gabriel laughed, sharply, harshly, right in the lesser angel's face. "Yeah, right. Material for manipulation, maybe."

"No," Castiel countered. "I have little to do with Heaven at the moment."

"How long?" he challenged. "How long have you had little to do with Heaven?"

"It depends on how you see time," Castiel murmured. "For me it has been longer than it has been for you, but that doesn't change anything. I just wished to speak with you. Every angel who has left had their own reasons, and I have some understanding of two. I would like to expand my understanding, because then I might be able to figure out why we've been lied to for so long." With the word "we", Castiel could only mean the rest of the lesser angels.

Gabriel knew that Castiel didn't mean that he'd been away from Heaven longer. It was more likely that he was speaking of some sort of time distortion that affected Castiel, and possibly no one else. Obnoxiously and hoping that the lesser angel would notice it, he leaned toward Castiel and said, "I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours." He waggled his eyebrows, just to be more irritating, fully expecting it to be lost on the lesser angel.

An arched eyebrow at his juvenile behavior was all he got for his trouble, but even that was a shocker. "I didn't think Heaven would like it if I were to seek Michael out and stab him in the throat," Castiel said mildly.

The archangel had not been expecting that one. "Wow. So you're with Lucy?" he asked, still absorbing.

"I fully expect, given the opportunity, I would do the same with him. Unfortunately," and here, Castiel's tone turned cynical and mocking, "I have my doubts against surviving such an encounter, thus have decided to wait."

"Wow. That's an astonishing amount of cynicism, little brother," Gabriel said, not even sure if he was making fun.

"2008 and 2009 were really rough years," Castiel replied, confirming Gabriel's time distortion theory.

"That bad, huh?" he asked, nonplussed.

"You died." Castiel was utterly serious about it, and even seemed like the incident had affected him strongly. "I died. Twice. It wasn't a good time."

"Twice, huh? How'd you manage that?" Gabriel had almost completely forgotten about Duckzilla, who still rampaged in the background.

"Pissed off archangels." Castiel shrugged. "Too close to a prophet at the wrong time, once, Lucifer the next."

"So, end of the world?"

"End of the world," Castiel confirmed.

"Anything interesting happen you know, since 2008?" Gabriel could only suspend his disbelief because he wasn't sure that this angel even knew how to lie. If he did, then he did it extraordinarily well.

Castiel seemed to think on it for a moment. "I found an evil rock; took up drinking; broke a soul out of Hell; ate hamburgers; gained a twin; spoke to Kushiel." He stopped and thought a little longer. Then he shrugged, "Nothing terribly interesting, to someone of your character."

Gabriel choked. "I think I need a drink. Nevermind, can't get drunk." Castiel offered him a flask and he took it anyway. The contents were sweet and hot, like cinnamon schnapps. "Hmm... Good stuff." It was too bad that it wouldn't do much to him.

"I like the cinnamon," Castiel said, urging him to sit down and offering him some cinnamon candies.

He sat and took them, and waved Duckzilla into nonexistence. At least Castiel planned to be good company while they didn't get drunk. What an unusual fellow...



Author's Extra: I have every excuse! Sorry I'm so late. I suppose a week isn't so bad. Also, sorry for the funky chapter. I think I got a little more of my starting vibe in this one, even with all the weird, which, by the way, I like. As always, suggestions welcome, even hoped for, and if I like it, I may use it. Happy Halloween everyone, just in case I don't post again until!

Next Time: Graceless Hangover (or In Which Archangels Prove to Be Inappropriate) Jimmy wonders why there's a hungover archangel on the couch, cuddling Crowley, the giant snake (whatever, food's more important). Some time afterwards, Cas pays a visit to his former abode.
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