Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed. This is just an epilogue chapter…these are, with one (fairly obvious) exception, a couple of short-to-extremely-short snippets set after Children of Man would have taken place that I wrote while watching episodes and working on the original story. I've tried to indicate where in the season each falls. For the record, there are a couple spoilers.
* * (Some time after the manacles were removed, no particular episode) * *
Castiel shifted into the side office at St. Virgil's. Father Matthew was alone, digging around in the bottom drawer of a tall cabinet, and after a moment of consideration he fanned his wing's to get the priest's attention.
Father Matthew raised his head, swiveling in his chair to face Castiel, and then his jaw dropped slightly and the folder that he had pulled out of the cabinet fluttered to the floor, papers scattering around it. Castiel wondered idly if he should, at least in this instance, have heeded Dean's oft-repeated request that he knock.
Father Matthew continued to stare at him in silence, and after a few minutes Castiel frowned slightly. "Hello?"
"Oh, my holy God."
"No. Castiel." Surely this was not a difficult concept—even as stubborn as Dean had been about accepting what he was, he'd never had any particular problem with his name.
"I wasn't—I didn't mean—" Father Matthew shook his head. "I just…I've never had an angel standing in my office before." He paused for a moment. "You are an angel, aren't you? A real angel?"
"I am not aware of any other kind. You seem surprised." Surely a man of faith believed in angels.
"It's not…angels are supposed to show up on Earth for important things…for the birth of Christ, for the Rapture…." His eyes widened slightly. "You aren't here for the Rapture, right?"
"Then what are you here for? Are you a guardian angel? Sam's?"
"No." That would be a rather bizarre turn of events. "It is…complicated." It was his turn to pause for a moment before continuing. "I simply wished to be certain that you had recovered from your encounter with the redcaps." And whatever trauma that Dean seemed to think that he had inflicted.
Castiel frowned, unsure why anyone would think that he wished to hear a lie, but Father Matthew continued before he could ask.
"It doesn't even seem real, most of the time. I mean, I know what happened, but…." He trailed off, shaking his head. "The police have been saying that some sort of cult took over the building, complete with kidnappings, ritual sacrifice, that sort of thing. I think Andy's starting to believe it, although Rachel has been coming to see me after church on Sundays."
Castiel remembered the boy's frantic chattering. "He is young. Perhaps it is for the best."
"Maybe." There was silence for a moment, and then, "Somehow you aren't quite what I think of, when I think of angels." Father Matthew smiled slightly. "Or maybe it's just the lack of trumpets and a booming voice."
"I have been informed that I should 'turn the volume down' while on Earth."
"I…see." He looked slightly nonplussed.
"Here." Castiel held out the coat that the priest had given him. "I have restored my own garments, but thank you for its use."
Father Matthew took it carefully, draping it over his arm and running his fingers lightly across the material. "You're most welcome." Silence drew out for another minute before he broke it again. "Did you ever get your questions answered? I mean, about…." He used his free hand to gesture upwards slightly.
Castiel opened his mouth and then shut it again. "I am pleased that you are well. And know that your faith is appreciated." He shifted away, before Father Matthew could respond.
* * (Post 4.10/Hell's Angels) * *
Anna's grace was returned. Of all the things that might have occurred when he and Uriel had been sent to destroy her, that was not an outcome that he had ever considered. That anyone had ever considered, he suspected.
He shook his head, staring out at the mass of children playing in the grass, none of whom were paying him the least bit of attention. He remembered all-too-clearly the wave of shock that had rippled through the garrison when she had left them. It was not entirely unheard of for an angel to fall, but never would he have imagined Anna to be one who chose….
He shook his head again. His orders for her destruction had been superseded by more pressing issues since her grace had been restored—there were still standing orders for her death should anyone encounter her, of course, but now that she knew what she was, what she could do, he very much doubted that those orders would be fulfilled. At least not in the near future. He was almost…glad…of that, although Uriel most certainly was not.
He frowned slightly. It seemed oddly coincidental that he and Uriel had arrived to collect Anna at almost exactly the same time that Alastair and his minions had. If he and Uriel had been few minutes sooner, Anna would have been destroyed and the Winchester brothers would have been left to face the demons on their own. If they had been a few minutes later, Alastair would have taken Anna away, and…. He shook his head. He didn't care to contemplate the losses that the garrison would have taken then. That they would have had to take, just to stop the demons from using her.
One of the women watching the group of children caught his eye and glared, and he stood. Anna had not fallen to the demons. He had not been forced to destroy a sibling. He had damaged any trust that might have been growing between himself and Dean—he had tried to tell Uriel that threatening Sam was not the best way to gain the human's cooperation, but Uriel had insisted and their superiors had agreed. And Dean had still acted to protect him when Alastair would have destroyed him so perhaps the damage was not as great as he feared.
Perhaps there was hope for Sam as well…he had made no attempt to use his hellsent powers on Alastair or any of his minions while Castiel and Uriel had been fighting the demons in the barn. Of course, that may have been due to the immediate angelic presence, but it could also be that he was finally heeding the warnings that he had been given.
The woman glaring finally took her eyes off him for a moment to speak to another woman, and he shifted away. Enough contemplation; there was work to be done.
* * (Pre Dean and Cas' chat at the end of 4.16/On the Head of a Pin) * *
Sam would stand against angels for Dean. At the time, when Sam had sworn that he would do whatever he had to to protect his brother, Castiel had found the idea absurd. Now….
He sank into the last remaining unoccupied chair and studied the two boys. Dean was still hooked up to all manner of machines and monitors; Castiel would gladly have waved his hand and healed the damage that Alastair had inflicted if he had been capable of doing so. Sam was slumped in a chair against the far wall, apparently having lost a battle with sleep. His forehead was resting against one of the myriad of machines attached to Dean, and his breathing was even.
A part of Castiel recoiled as he considered the younger boy, remembering the feel of evil that had once again surrounded him when he'd used his powers. He had been wrong about Sam heeding the warnings, and his strength was growing at a rate Castiel had never expected. He had pulled information from Alastair with almost contemptuous ease and then ripped the demon apart as though it had been child's play, and while the demon's demise hadn't precisely been regrettable, Castiel could not have done that. Uriel could not have done that. Even Anna, in all likelihood, couldn't have.
Castiel turned his mind firmly from thoughts of both Uriel and Anna. One was dead because of disobedience; one was under a sentence of death for falling. And while Anna might have protected him from Uriel, she still wouldn't tell him what to do in this twisted new reality. He had never questioned his siblings' loyalty before, but now…now he didn't even know if he could trust the garrison. Anna said that he needed to think for himself, but…." He shook his head minutely.
Dean's eyelids fluttered, and Castiel reached out and nudged Sam further into sleep, glad that that much still worked on the demon-touched mortal. He wished to speak to Dean privately.
* * (Post Anna's capture in 4.21/When the Levee Breaks) * *
It was done. Sam was free to go to the demon. To go to Lilith. He had not…wished…to do it, but— Castiel shook his head sharply. His wishes, his desires, even his opinions, were irrelevant. It was not his place to question orders. That had been made clear, and he had seen what had happened to Anna, what would happen to all of those who disobeyed and were caught. It was not something that he could endure.
He shook his head again. He would not think of Anna, now. He would not think of Dean, or of Sam, or of what was coming. He had his orders.
But part of him, the part that his siblings could not see, couldn't help hoping that somehow—somehow—things would not turn out as he knew they must. Dean knew Sam better than anyone…maybe he could still find him before the Seal was broken. Maybe he could convince his brother not to do this.
* * (Immediately post Cas sending Dean to Sam in 4.22/Lucifer Rising) * *
He had disobeyed orders. He had told Dean—freed Dean, temporarily banishing Zachariah much like Anna had once banished he and Uriel in the process—and then he had allowed…. He closed his eyes and forced himself to cease thinking about the number of blatantly disobedient acts that he had committed this day. It didn't matter, now; what was done was done. Perhaps he had done too much, perhaps he had not done enough—or not done it soon enough, as he so strongly feared—but he could not have done anything else.
The sense of presence grew stronger, and the loose objects in the room began to rattle. An Archangel was near. He couldn't tell yet who it was, but whoever it was was orders of magnitude stronger than himself. He had not expected anything else.
He lifted his head and squared his shoulders, calling his power close and trying not to look at the quivering mortal beside him. Disobedient or not, he would stand by his actions. He would hope that he had accomplished enough. Whether he and Chuck survived or not was immaterial; Dean was the only one who had even a chance of stopping Sam. Or, if that failed, of stopping Lucifer himself.
The presence he'd sensed manifested, and he had no time to think anymore.