for Iva’s word prompt challenge
my word was “music”
Castiel knew sound before he knew light.
In the beginning, there was only chaos.
A blurry luminescence of nascent existence, it writhed and exalted across the void, spreading out and bursting matter into being. Whispering out into space it breathed the first star, and then a million more.
And so it was out of chaos that God was born.
Out of stars He emerged as an infant, blinking galaxies and dust. And He laughed out a glow from deep within His chaotic heart, and so the first sound was smiled into existence.
He named it Angel.
And the songs of angels reverberated throughout the heavens, names and wavelengths, brothers and sisters in celestial chorus.
Castiel’s name was first sung on a Thursday.
And as his first note rung out, his overtones drifted far, spanning wide and forming wings, vast expansive forms in flux. He came to know symphonies in seas and orchestras in open skies as he fought and flew across the heart of the host. He learned the pitches of the universe, attuned to every particle as it vibrated apart and back.
Dean Winchester vibrates and shines violently like the fire that defines him. Born twice from its depths, the flames lick him and burn in flagrant display. His passion rings in reds and oranges, swirling with the autumn warm timbre of his voice. He rumbles and echoes with love and anger and loss, in minor scales and major chords, and crescendos in chiaroscuro.
He is strange and foreign and dissonant in ways that Castiel’s grace doesn’t know how to deal with. He is an alien melody, built on intervals unknown. But yet, he is beautiful.
From the moment Castiel first heard him, screaming, descending deep into the pits of perdition, he knew it for the sound of salvation. The melody hovered like a beacon, coursing through the air like a signal, and Castiel battled beasts and chased demons until it was recovered. Promixity brought with it a new humanity, and Castiel, who had possessed the ability to hear all his life, finally learned how to feel.
He felt mission and mercy, love and loyalty; rancor and rebellion. He felt the blood of brothers as it seeped through the tattered coat of his vessel and he heard them as their voices were extinguished forever.
And where once he could hear everything, soon it came that he could hear nothing at all. Grace trapped between two human ear drums, and the sounds of angels faded and faded.
It was absence. And abjection. And the ruthless surging feeling of failure, I failed, I failed him.
Until all of a sudden, he was everything at once. Power and presence; glory and god. A continuous cacophony roaring in his head. He was the perfection in the perfect fifth.
Except like all epics, it came to an end.
Entreated by silence, Castiel died and descended for the final time.
Human again, and more painfully then he had ever been before, he fell to earth to a family he thought lost. He fell to a house of anger and accusations, but relief and revelation, too. Still, gone were the company of many, and never before had he felt so alone.
“Dean,” he says.
But he means please. He means trust me.
This is what he means to say, and more. But yet—human language is insufficient. Human capacity it’s—it’s confusing. There’s a uniqueness to the sensation of skin, of fingers and lines that form muscle, but still, there remains an absence that aches deep in Castiel’s chest. The sounds that once enveloped and reverberated through his grace are gone, replaced by muted echoes. Their memory is an ever more distant whispering, and Castiel mourns for it.
I could hear you once, I knew you once. I could hear the frayed threads of your life curled around your bones and the frantic fluttering of your spirit in the dark. I could hear psalms in your breathing and vespers in your stare. I could hear your life as a shining star that screamed agony and love. I could hear you—all of you. But I am forgetting.
I want to relearn you, I want to relearn your notes and your rhythms. I want to sing into your skin like a hymn.
Five weeks after Castiel’s final fall, he finds it.
He finds it the smallest things, but it’s there nonetheless.
He finds it in the baseline hum of the Impala’s engine, and the soft solo tap of Dean’s fingertips at the wheel. He finds it in the flutter of pages as Sam sits and reads, and in the buoyant chime of beer bottles after a long night.
He finds it in the rare calm of crackling flames as they sit around a fire in the dark.
Later he stands still, an audience of one for the choral cricket chirps alit by the setting sun.
He finds it in the break in Dean’s voice, as he barrels towards a resolution years in the making. In the hitch of their breaths as they meet, in the itch of Dean’s jaw at his throat.
He finds a new music.
He finds sound as a human hears them, and these subtle symphonies become a wonder on their own. It’s not what he once had, but—it’s something. He had only ever known change as an agent of destruction: faith destroyed by doubt, friendship destroyed by fear. But, maybe now it could be a good thing.
A change in key, that only builds. A rhythm of creation.
Gilded by the morning light, Dean Winchester sleeps as Castiel watches. So rare are these moments of peace, and Castiel covets and cherishes them for all that they’re worth. They are worth the world. His breath is even and slow, draped in dream and a soothing accompanying beat to Castiel’s own lungs as they swell. His heart swells too.
Like this, Dean looks younger somehow, lines smoothed out to a soft glow, threaded with gold and flecked in the flochetage of a master brushstroke.
His body is a well worn violin, cut and scarred with age and use but the sound all the richer for it. Like any instrument, it takes practice to learn.
Castiel is deft in his application.
Always, though, there is the memory.
But it’s softer now; less sharp, less cohesive and tangible. It’s the memory of absence not the feeling of it, and as much as it should feel like an ache, it’s muted to an ever duller throb, like the melancholic twinge in the bones the night before it rains.
He hums to himself sometimes, in elegy. But it’s rememberance, never regret.
Befores and afters had always seemed like a trivial way to measure time, Castiel thought. Small, linear. Finite. And Castiel, who had only ever known endless distances through the width and breadth and heights of time, did not understand.
Except, maybe now he does.
There was before, and after the apocalypse that wasn’t. There was before doubt, and after the fall.
Before and after death.
Before and after Dean.