Title: In Latter Days
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] smallcaps
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Castiel/Lucifer, Jimmy/Nick, Anael/Uriel
Summary: Sequel to Seek: Even the fallen seek their Father and even the fallen know how to find their brothers.


The Heavenly Host have no need to sleep or to eat. Castiel knows that he can be the ever vigilant watch dog he once believed his Father Created him to be. He can walk through flame and not be burned. He can endure the waters and not be drowned.

However, Lucifer chooses a different way. He feeds his vessel, choosing full meals, and gives his vessel a bed in which to sleep. He speaks of his vessel, Nick, as a man and, sometimes, he will say things that startle the others. Castiel never heard any of the Host speak in this manner, not even in the early days when they learned to take vessels and walk among men.

Lucifer would say, "Nick's wife loved pizza," as though it were normal. He would say, "Nick greatly enjoys reading murder mysteries," as they sat in the great libraries of Rome, seeking knowledge. Once when they walked through Versailles (the one in Kentucky, not in France), Lucifer paused in a little shop, cradling a blue baby bonnet in his large hands, and said, in his gravelly voice, "Nick had a son, once."

Castiel, in the beginning, was frightened by Lucifer's habits. He had lived with his garrison since Creation, he had known no other, and none had ever treated their vessel as equals. They were vessels, Created and waiting to be filled by their Greater Purpose. Lucifer knew Nick and would speak to him. He would entertain him and give him his pleasures and his needs.

Lucifer taught Castiel to do the same, to treat Jimmy as his equal. Jimmy was not a clay pot, waiting to by filled and taken by his member of the Host. Castiel found that Jimmy would not be absent from his conscious when he would feed him his favorite foods and give him fine blankets in which to repose. Jimmy would sigh with happiness when Castiel and Lucifer visited a diner and Castiel gave him onion rings and steak sauce. Castiel did not understand it, but Jimmy's very soul would sing when Castiel would rest his body between sheets next to Nick's body after sunset.

They sought their Father. In the blazing desert with Lucifer at his side, Castiel learned that they were not alone in their quest. When he had rescued the Winchesters from the clutches of Zachariah and the remains of his own garrison, Castiel had felt so alone. He had known the darkness of death, separate from his Father for all of eternity, and faced certain damnation, the eternal separation from his Brothers as well. He had never known what it was like to be alone. He had always, since the time before time, been with his Brothers. Lucifer gave him that again, gave him the Love he needed. In the desert, under the unforgiving eye of the sun, he had met Anael and Uriel, raised by Lucifer's hand and also seeking their Father.

Anael stood before them, shoulder to shoulder with Uriel, the blazing red hair of his own body like fire in the sun. Despite having his own body, with its curves and soft features, and not a vessel Created by their Father solely for him, Anael was restored to his ancient glory and carried their Father's gift, the sword he had been given when he watched over the Father's mother as He became the Son. Uriel stood by his side as grave and serious as he had been when Lucifer led the Great Rebellion. They had sought their Father and sought the pious in their former garrison and among others.

Castiel travelled by Lucifer's side, seeking understanding and love with his brother. He found simple joy in waking, his brother's vessel warm against the skin of his own vessel. He found, one morning, as they walked along a cliff's edge, seeking Revelation from the Divinity present in all Creation, that Jimmy enjoyed Nick's presence, even though he did not know him. Jimmy had missed human companionship, had missed the gentle warmth of human touch.

He mentioned that, when they rested next, in a small home outside Lourdes, mentioning it to Azza, Nelchial, and Zephon, who remained as a spy among the Host. Lucifer agreed with him, saying Nick was happier and more willing when he had rested against Jimmy. The other angels had learned from them and agreed that their vessels, the people who had so willingly given them their bodies for the greater good of Creation, deserved the comforts and pleasure the angels could give them.

Castiel had never known such respect as he had when Lucifer stood by his side. Lucifer, their Father's own Light-Bearer, the brother their Father had named the brightest and most beautiful star of all of the heavens, the soldier who had been given the Gift of seeing the face of the Lord of Hosts, treated Castiel as his own equal. Lucifer loved Castiel as he had ever loved any member of the Host, sharing with him the glorious light that had been his special gift from their Father. The others of the Host who sought their Father, who sought understanding and love and Divinity throughout all of His Creation, recognised Lucifer's shining light in Castiel and afforded him the respect of an archangel.

They had returned from walking the holy paths of the Son and the fountains of His mother to gaze again upon America. Lucifer could see that it pained Castiel, watching the demons, the broken souls of men, wreak havoc and pain upon their Father's gift to mankind. Castiel had found them a small motel room, one that reminded him of easier times, of Sam and Dean Winchester, and Lucifer nearly carried him into it, gently taking care of his vessel because he knew he could do little to ease his brother's suffering heart. In the shallow darkness of the anonymous room, Castiel had pulled Lucifer close to him, allowing Jimmy his pleasure, feeling the scratch of the cheap cotton sheets against his vessel, enjoying the warm, soft flesh of Lucifer's vessel against his own. Afterward, Jimmy was exhausted, but nearly beatific and the angels allowed their vessels a long night's rest while they basked in each other's holy light.

Castiel felt Jimmy's sudden, startled fear, felt his vessel clutch to Nick's body. Before Castiel came fully back to his vessel, he could hear Jimmy's silent cries for him, asking where his angel was, where was his savior. He flooded himself back into Jimmy, putting his vessel's fears to rest, filling him with the glory of the Host. He opened Jimmy's eyes, seeing the world once again through the blessed eyes of man, only to find Jimmy facing down the wrong end of Dean Winchester's gun. He saw Sam stare at Lucifer's vessel, heard him as he whispered, in a strangled voice full of fear and pain, "He wants to possess me."

Castiel knew Jimmy's pain for Nick as soon as he heard the words, understood Nick's pain as his horror tore an anguished, "No," from his mouth before Lucifer was fully seated inside him.

"You will move your gun," Lucifer told Dean, Nick's voice suddenly even and calm. Castiel, though, could read tension in his lover, knowing that he was speaking to Michael's destined vessel. Ever since he had begun to treat Jimmy better, give him little treats and gifts, Castiel had despaired at the ways of the Host, at their treatment of their Created vessels. He had confessed to Lucifer once night, as he curled around his brother, Jimmy offering Nick warmth in the cold desert night while they watched Anael and Uriel at a distance, that he feared for Dean's spirit. Michael rode his vessels hard, filled them roughly, and left them broken, like fragile clay pots in a garbage heap. Castiel did not want that fate for the man he had rescued from the Lake of Fire.

Dean set his chin stubbornly, but obeyed the Lightbearer of the Lord, swinging his gun so that the barrel practically brushed Nick's nose. "You're Lucifer."

"I am." His vessel took shallow breaths, instinctively pulled himself further from the threatening gun. "Your brother has spoken to you about me."

"You fucked up -"

Castiel grabbed the barrel of Dean's gun and bent it. He knew his brother would be able to right anything that Dean did to Nick's body, even as he had raised the angels of his garrison from the edge of death itself, but Castiel did not want to see Nick in that kind of pain. Castiel had seen Nick's pain when Lucifer would hold a baby blanket a moment too long or when Nick would clutch tight to Jimmy, afraid to let him go in the dark of night. It hurt him to know that humans suffered so. It was too much.

"What the hell, Cas?" Dean exclaimed, staring at him in shock.

"You were going to shoot him," Castiel explained softly. "I did not want you to hurt Nick."

"Nick?" Sam mouthed, holding himself a respectable distance from Lucifer.

"My vessel," Lucifer told him, rising from the bed and doing nothing to hide Nick's nakedness. After the Fall, humans knew shame, but the angels tried to show their vessels that the Father had made them as they were, tried to help them understand the beauty of all of His Creation. "My vessel is named Nick. His wife and newborn son were killed shortly before I came to him. He has suffered enough; he does not need to know what a gunshot wound feels like."

Dean stared at Lucifer and still held his gun as though it offered some kind of protection. Lucifer ignored it, knowing that Dean, until he welcomed Michael into himself and became a vessel to be broken at the hands of the Host, offered no real threat to him. Castiel rose from the bed and wrapped the sheet around Jimmy's waist in deference to the Winchesters. His brother did not know them; he knew only of their importance, not their souls or their fighting spirit. Castiel knew what lengths they would go for each other, for the greater good. He understood the depth of their love.

"We have found Ridwan," Anael told them, manifesting in the corner of their room, his long hair tangled from the rush of travel and battle. He froze, silent, when he saw the Winchesters standing for them.

Uriel stood behind him, his vessel's suit rumpled. He gazed at Sam and Dean without pity, but did not say anything.

"This is not possible," Dean stared at Anael and Uriel. "This is not possible." He turned to Castiel and said accusingly, "You said they were dead! You told me Anna killed him and you gave her up to the angels!"

"He was correct. But the Heavenly Host is not all-powerful," Lucifer told him, lounging against the wall easily, "nor all-knowing. Those are gifts reserved for our Father alone."

Sam and Dean stepped closer together and Castiel recognised their fear, their need to be together as a single unit. Sam snarled at Lucifer, as though his emotions could protect him, as though Sam needed protection from them and not from the Host or the broken souls that were burning Creation. "So, what? The angels made a mistake? They just thought they killed them?"

"He is the brightest star of all of the heavens," Anael told Dean, his feminine voice soft and low. "Even in captivity, he extended his hand saved us from the eternal darkness of separation from our Father."

"And you just switched sides like that? I mean, I knew the dick with wings over there was on Satan's side from day one, but you? Anna, come on. You talked to me, remember? You wouldn't want to side with Lucifer."

"They were mistaken," Uriel rumbled in his vessel's voice, as deep and melodic as rolling thunder. "I am sure you know what it is like to have made a mistake, Dean Winchester. And would you prefer that we remained with our garrison? That we would have aided Zachariah in forcing you to accept Michael into yourself?"

"Enough," Lucifer commanded when he saw the blood drain from Dean's face. "We remember the compassion and mercy once shown to us by God, even if the Host has forgotten."

Uriel subsided as Anael reported to them, "We have found Ridwan. He was not receptive to our questions, so we have sent Zephon in our place. If any of the Host know where to seek Him, Ridwan would."

Castiel nodded. He had not known Ridwan himself; he had always remained with his garrison. Foot soldiers did not leave to seek Revelation from their Father. However, he remembered when Anael and Uriel would return, when Israfel and Zophiel would come to lead them, and he would hear stories of the other garrisons and learn the words and desires of their Father. He realised now that he had, then, envied Ridwan, desiring for his Father to care as much for him, for their Father to give him a special place as Ridwan had been given at the gates of Heaven itself.

"Azza and Nelchial will watch over him," Lucifer told them agreeably. "You should rest, Anael. Your body is weary and you feel it more than we do. Uriel, Robert looks exhausted. We have this room for two days yet. You may take the bed and find your rest and needs in it. When you are done, we can meet and find epiphany and know the end of our quest. We can seek the end of false prophecy and pain for Creation."

"What the hell is this?" Dean asked, clearly angry and frightened.

"We seek our Father because He is our Father," Lucifer explained, as if to a child. "All things are possible to him who believes."

"Even understanding," Castiel added.

"Even forgiveness," Anael murmured, his eyes meeting Dean's.

Castiel felt something inside him break when he saw the moment Dean resolved to take Michael into himself. He was comforted only by the presence of his brothers, by the closeness of his lover, and the knowledge that their search for their Father would soon be at an end. He could only hope that when Michael divested himself of his vessel, abandoned him after breaking his bones and his spirit, Dean would know enough to come back to them, would know that they would protect him as they protected their own vessels.
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