Miah watched with a very pleased smile
on his face as Lina and the girls chased each other around the cabin.
He knew Castiel would be by at some point to get the girls, he wished
they would stay longer, but knew this is what was best for them. Even
Lina had become more herself with the girls around, chasing and
giggling with them. Mairead was laughing as she tore through the
living room of their small cabin, Mariah on her heels, silent but
smiling widely. Lina came out and he reached out and grabbed her
around the waist, grinning as she squealed and pretended to push him
off, dissolving into giggles. He laughed deeply and pressed a kiss to
her temple. "Run girls, she's going to overpower me!"
Mairead squealed and took off into the other room, Mariah right
Lina turned and smiled at Miah and they shared a soft chaste kiss before he put her down. "Better catch them, love." She giggled and ran off after the girls, more giggling was coming from their bedroom as Lina caught the girs and began tickling them. Miah chuckled and went about fixing them all some food. He had to admit ti was good to have laughter in the house with the little ones here. Try as they might, Mariah still wouldn't speak. She could hear and from what they could tell, was capable of speech, just that she hadn't ever spoken according to Mairead. Lina had spent some time showing Mariah some sign language in the short time they had been there. So she could ask for things if she wanted them. Mairead was also a quick study and would understand what her sister wanted as well instead of just assuming, though she wasn't often wrong about her sister's wishes. he idly wondered if they could speak mind to mind.
He smiled hearing more giggles in the other room and a squeal from Mairead as Mariah came out from the room, alone. She watched Miah as she peeled some apples and sliced them for the girls. He looked down at her, a bit surprised to see her alone and offered her a piece of the apple. She smiled shyly, took it, and scampered off into the bedroom.
Castiel approached the seemingly run down and abandoned cabin, following along the mostly iced over creek. Though the sound would be inaudible to anyone not attuned to the spells masking the cabin's true appearance, his sensitive hearing caught the laughter of children drifting from the small home. It made him hesitate in his trek, the weight of guilt and the need for atonement overriding the simple joy of basking in the crisp air of the clear day he'd had in the brief trek from the borrowed Land Rover to the cabin. The angel rolled his shoulders and lowered his head, accepting that weight and the duty it pressed on him willingly, if not eagerly.
As he came into the clearing that housed the small cabin, he felt the bright sense of grace – Nehemiah and Madalina, those two would be – and the much fainter sense of the nephilim twins. Childish joy sang out to him, tipping the corners of his lips into a smile almost without his awareness of it. He found himself pausing again, considering whether the academy was the right place for the two girls. Nephilim brought with them an inherent danger, both in the form of their own magnified power as it would eventually emerge with time and age, and in the form of those who would seek them out for their power or the blasphemous nature of their existence...or even simply because of their rarity.
No, he decided. The academy may well be the safest place for them in the entire world, outside of the bunker itself. And that...he was unwilling to offer, even if Sam and Dean would ever consent to having children underfoot there. The bunker, while safe, was no place for children to grow up. And, if he were honest with himself, Cas wasn't sure that was a wound of old betrayal he was willing to bring into the light again, not when he was finally finding some peace once again.
Though he knew Nehemiah and Madalina already knew he was here, he observed the human niceties, and knocked on the cabin door.
Nehemiah was laughing at the girls,
Mairead, Mariah and Madalina rolling and tickling each other and
laughing on the floor in front of the fire. He sensed Castiel was
near the cabin and turned to look at the door, still smiling. Mariah
was even beginning to laugh a little, a soft broken laugh, but it was
there none the less. As if thinking about her brought her attention
to him, Mariah turned to look at him and ran to Miah trying to tickle
him grinning him. He swooped down and picked her up, throwing her in
the air and catching her. She grinned more and her put her under his
arm while she laughed softly as he headed to the door. Opening it,
Mariah was nearly upside down under his arm. "Greetings
Castiel." He smiled, and the girl squirmed, he set her down and
she ran back to where Mairead was and they both went silent watching
Castiel. Lina moved over to them and whispered soft words to them to
calm them down. Telling them he was a friend.
Miah turned to look at the girls, concern on his face and then back to Castiel. "Come on in." He stepped back and shut the door behind him. Lina looked up from the girls to Castiel. "Greetings Castiel." She said softly, holding the girls to her gently, murmering softly to them in Enochian as it seemed to calm them down as it did fledglings.
His expression somber, Castiel stepped inside the cabin. He was appreciative of the warmth, both the physical warmth of the fire and the less tangible warmth of greetings from his fellow angels. They knew the particular pain he felt in the presence of the children, and what they represented to him – both the shame of betrayal and the hope of redemption – and yet neither Nehemiah nor his companion Madalina had seen fit to judge him, though he felt they had every right.
“Hello, Nehemiah. Hello, Madalina,” he said, nodding to each. Though, even as he did so, his eyes were drawn to the twins. Two pairs of shockingly blue eyes – lighter and more vivid than even those of his vessel – stared at him solemnly from under soft blonde hair. He returned their stare with curiosity, doing his best to mask the discomfort their presence caused him. After all, they weren't at fault for his past sins, nor should they get any sense of unease because of him.
Slowly, as one might approach a wounded
and frightened animal, he stepped toward the girls. When he was still
a few feet away, he stopped and crouched down, putting himself more
in level with them. He was aware that – when not being
overshadowed by the excessive height of the Winchester brothers –
his own height could sometimes be intimidating, and he sensed it
might be even more so for children.
“Hello, Mairead. Hello, Mariah,” he rumbled, his rough voice softened and barely above a whisper. Castiel's eyes shifted back and forth between the two girls, his innate curiosity drowning out – at least for now – the shame and pain he'd felt. “My name is Castiel. My friends sometimes call me Cas.” He hesitated, unsure of what proper protocols were for human children, as his own experiences with them were extremely limited. Granted, these children weren't fully human, but he had decided that it might be best to treat them as such for their own sake as well as the sake of those around them. “I'd like it if we could be friends,” he finally added, deeming it a safe enough thing to say.
MARIAH & MAIREAD--
girls watched Castiel and calmed down considerably at Madalina's
words. It was not a language they were familiar with, but calmed them
nonetheless. They tilted their heads slightly as he crouched down in
front of them. Curious as to this new person, but he also felt safe,
like Lina and Miah did.
"Hi Cas." Mairead said softly, shyly. Mariah just watched quietly and looking up at Castiel herself. She made gestures with her forefingers, crooking them and touching them together, a sign that Lina had taught them. Mairead nodded at her sister. "Yes, friend." She said softly to her. "Like Lina and Miah." Mariah smiled a bit to her and then to Castiel.
Mairead walked forward a bit and held her arms out to Castiel to hug him. Mariah just walked forward and threw her little arms around his neck to hug him regardless of being polite. She felt safe for the first time in a long time here. Ever since they had gotten away from the other people who kept them in a cage. Mairead smiled at her sister and hugged Castiel as well finally, thinking if Mariah could trust them, why couldn't she?
Lina continued to sit behind the girls, staying there for their support, so they didn't feel abandoned. Although she felt they would be all right. She smiled and looked up at Nehemiah and then back to the girls.
Nehemiah smiled warmly watching the girls hug Castiel and caught Lina's eye. He nodded a bit at her expression, feeling her joy at this along their bond of grace.
Cas smiled encouragingly to both girls, both surprised and amused to see one of them using American Sign Language. His eyes flicked up to Madalina, then quickly back to Nehemiah, showing his gratitude. When he turned his attention back to the girls, he was surprised to find one of the two girls – Mariah, he thought, the one who didn't speak – ready to throw her arms around him in a hug. He wrapped an arm around her, and then around Mairead when she came close enough. For a moment, he just let himself take in the trust he could feel from the two fragile little forms his arms were wrapped around, letting go – for now – of the past.
He released the girls when they started to fidget, having completely ignored Dean's rules of how long a hug should last. Even he realized that children were often exempted from many of the cultural rules that adults were expected to adhere to. And...he was becoming more and more aware that some of Dean's 'rules' weren't as inflexible as the hunter would have a hapless angel otherwise believe.
“Mariah, Mairead... I know you like it here,” Cas began, unsure how to explain the coming change to the children. “But I have some very nice friends who would like it if you would come to live with them.” He hesitated, considering his words. “With us, I suppose. It's...my home, too.” A faint smile touched his lips as he let his thoughts drift for a moment, enjoying once again that expanded feeling of family he'd only recently come to accept. “Would you girls like that?”
MARIAH & MAIREAD--
girls sat down on the floor as one when Cas released them from the
hug. Lina smiled at them, amused at the things these two did in sync
with each other. But both stilled at the question of going somewhere
else to live. Mairead looked to Lina and back to Miah. "Can we
come back and visit?"
"You both are always welcome here." Lina said softly to them. Miah moved over and knelt next to Lina, ruffling Mariah's hair gently. "I promised to teach you to fish, yeah?" The girls both nodded. "And teach you I shall, then. We're not that far from where you're going. You'll learn to read and write. Make friends." And hopefully protect yourselves from what had happened to them before, he thought silently.
Mairead nodded and looked back to Mariah who nodded her agreement with her. Then quickly remembered, put her hand in a fist and bobbed it up and down. Nehemiah smiled and took her hand, gently correcting it so she bent the wrist, and nodded like her head did. Mariah smiled brightly and looked back to Castiel and repeated the gesture. "Yes. Are they nice people too, there?" Both girls fastened their blue gaze on Castiel. Mariead was hopeful, and Mariah was too. So far they had only been met with kindness here, unlike before.
He watched the exchange between his fellow angels and the nephilim twins with interest and in silence, seeking to learn something from the ease with which both Madalina and Nehemiah dealt with the children. If pressed, he would even have admitted to feeling the tiniest bit of envy at the way they handled the girls.
When both girls turned their attention back to him, Cas easily repeated the sign back to them as he answered verbally. “I promise they are very nice people and they are looking forward to meeting the both of you. They like to help people who have had to run away from bad things. It will be very safe for you both there.” He laid a gentle hand on the top of each girl's head briefly. “And I promise you can come back to visit...Miah and...Lina as often as you like.”
He looked up to meet Nehemiah's gaze and nodded a silent thanks, then did the same to Madalina. Cas rose to his feet, scooping the girls up and cuddling them to his chest. “Mairead, Mariah, do you have anything you'd like to bring along right now?” He knew they'd arrived with essentially nothing, but he was unsure what, if any, material things they may have acquired in their short time with his brethren. So he decided that if they did, he would collect it...and if they didn't, he would simply bring them to their new home and let Donna and Jody help him figure out what else they may need to get them settled in. Although, he suspected that helping him would very likely turn into both women taking charge while he merely nodded and agreed with whatever they would decree.
While he'd purchased clothing for the girls and other supplies he'd guessed they might need, he'd decided to leave everything back with Jody and Donna, for fear that changing too much too fast might frighten the girls needlessly. It wasn't a far walk to the borrowed Land Rover from here, and he had enough grace to warm the children with it along the short hike.
MARIAH & MAIREAD--
both smiled when Cas said they could come back to visit anytime. Lina
and Miah hugged the girls, kissing their heads softly as well. They
made no protest when he picked them up and Mariah reached for the
dolls that Lina had made them from kitchen towels. Lina picked the
two dolls up, with knots in the arms and legs, they looked like
angels. She handed each one to the girls and they hugged them to
their chests, smiling. Lina then picked up the blanket to tuck around
the girls so they wouldn't get cold on the walk. Lina would miss them
but knew this was for the best.
"Would you want some company on the way, Castiel?" Nehemiah asked softly, sliding his arm around Lina as she stood next to him. He knew the truck wasn't far off, but he had to admit to himself, he was going to miss them as well even after such a short time. They almost felt like they were home again.
Castiel adjusted the girls in his arms to accommodate the blanket and secure it in place, offering Madalina a gentle smile as he did so. “If you'd like, Nehemiah, I would not mind the company,” he answered. “But I understand if you would rather stay with Madalina,” he continued in a murmur, his gaze hovering on Madalina still.
Cas waited for his fellow angel to get the door, his hand being full of surprisingly – at least to him, as he'd had the impression young children were generally very active – docile children. He stepped out into the cold and hesitated to wrap his grace around the twins, ensuring that they wouldn't feel any chill at all, though he was grateful for the blanket as extra insurance. He pulled them closer, not so much because he was afraid of dropping them – he easily had sufficient strength to support their tiny bodies – but in hopes of making them feel more secure.
He started around the cabin and down the path toward the rough road he'd left the Land Rover on. Tilting his head to peer at Nehemiah, he considered the angel quietly for a few moments. “How is Madalina doing, Nehemiah? Really?” He spoke softly, his voice a gentle rumble filled with genuine concern.
kissed Madalina's forehead softly. "I will be right back."
He said softly to her. Madalina smiled and nodded. She smiled at
Castiel and her eyes slid back to the girls.
He went to the door and opened for Castiel, following closely behind him as he closed the door. They walked for a few minutes, he too was surprised the girls were quiet, in a way but from what Mariead had said, they had to remain quiet most of the time where they were being held. He couldn't help the smile that crossed his face as the girls snuggled into Castiel as he held them closer.
The question about Madalina didn't really surprise him. "She has gotten better, I think. Having these two there, I think, helped quite a bit. She was traumatized in The Fall, though. As were we all." He had noticed it seemed to affect her more than himself. Heaven was scary with Metatron and Gadreel running things, she had been frightened before though. "I have not heard her laugh like she did today in..so long, Castiel." He added softly.
Despite his decision that today he would try to avoid feeling so much guilt for all the mistakes he'd made in his past, at least for this one day, a rush of guilt hit him at the mention of the Fall. Yes, many angels were traumatized, and many more were dead. And amongst those who had survived, many had caused more harm to the humans they were supposed to be protecting and watching over than had actually done good. And all of that, every bit of that suffering was on his head, even so many years later.
“Yes,” Castiel said absently, “there was much suffering as a result of the Fall.” He clutched the children closer, though still careful to watch his strength and not hurt them. “It's good to hear that she is recovering.” He fell silent, then, starting up the hill that lead to the road – if it could even be called that – where the Land Rover waited.
nodded slightly at Castiel's words, a faint smile on his face. He
watched the girls as they looked around themselves at all the snow
and the open places. The river and tress, their eyes wide as the snow
fell around them. To have been kept in captive and never seeing the
outside for years had to be hard for the girls. Children did recover
fast though, perhaps there was enough in them to let them recover.
Mariah was most fascinated with the snow as it fell, as was Mairead. Neither one knew what it was called and they both looked to Nehemiah at the same time. Mairead spoke though. "What is this, Miah?" She asked curiously. Mariah pointed and signed "What?"
Miah chuckled softly. "It's called, snow, loves. Snow." This time when he said snow, he made the sign for both girls, his fingers wiggling slightly, imitating the snow as it fell from the sky. Mairead and Mariah both copied him. "Good girls." He signed that too as well as spoke it, smiling at them.
"Castiel, we would love to teach the girls, Madalina especially, more sign language. Since Mariah doesn't speak, she will need to learn how to communicate this way."
Castiel observed the easy interaction between the girls and Nehemiah, head tilted slightly, as though he were trying to understand it, maybe even learn to imitate it. “Yes. It would be a good thing for Madalina, I think. You're right.”