[Narration by Mr. Sherlock Holmes, Esquire]
I suppose that, for a man over eighty years old (a great age for those times) I should have been more prepared. But when I woke in the small hours of that terrible morning and found the man that I loved more than life itself lying cold beside me, I broke. I knew that John was two and half years older than me and logically I supposed that I had expected him to go first, but now what? How was I supposed to carry on without him? I could not, I just could not!
I pulled on a dressing-gown and went outside uncaring of the cold September air. War with Herr Hitler's Germany had finally broken out and next week would be my eighty-fifth birthday – but what did I have to live for now that the man I loved was gone? I stared sightlessly eastwards; the promise of dawn loomed over the downs and I silently dreaded the day ahead.
We had been so happy these last few weeks, especially when our namesakes and John's great-grandsons had come over with their father and grandfather (unfortunately unannounced but we had made ourselves decent quite quickly, I thought). Sherlock Watson – what a wonderful sound that made - was quiet and studious and it had been good to see four generations of Watsons in the same room – John, Benjamin Senior, Benjamin Junior and young Sherlock and John.
John's grandson had been worried that a fellow worker down at the garage had been sacked after having been thrown out of his house when his wife had decided to leave him for someone else, and I had promised to arrange for a new house for the victim, a Mr. Lawrence Lamb, which I had duly done. It was good to spread a little happiness around; what else was money for?
I did not know why but I made my way to the barn that lay a few hundred yards along our ridge. It was well-hidden from us by a small copse; John had not even noticed it the first time he had come here but ever since that encounter in Mr. Virbius Henriksen's art studio with that painting of the angel whose middle name I bore, barns had had a certain special meaning for us.
Except now there was no 'us'. I felt the tears welling up as I walked on alone.
It all happened so quickly. The ground started shaking, and even though it had been a perfectly calm night when I had entered the building there was a sudden strong wind causing it too to shake. Strange lights were flashing through the cracks of the place and I stood in the centre of it all, dumbfounded. Then the door swung open and in walked....
It was not so much that he was here – I had come to expect the unexpected where my twin was concerned – but that he was... well, still Jimmy. When we had last seen him back in 1903 I had wondered at how he had been almost unaltered from our first terrible meeting in that Nottinghamshire wood, over a decade earlier. Some people change more than others over the years but he had not seemed to have aged at all. And now when I had thought him to be many thousands of miles away in the United States, he was not only here but also... still the same as he had been over fifty years ago. What was going on?
He smiled welcomingly at me.
The voice was not his either, but my own deeper tone. I should have been alarmed but strangely I remained calm. There was surely no danger to me, and with John gone what did I care anyway? He took two steps towards me, his eyes glowing strangely in the dark.
“I am afraid that I told you something of an untruth when I came into your life”, he said gravely. “The character of Jimmy Collins was taken by our Father – and Mother - so that we could watch over you, given your tendency to occasionally achieve sub-optimal outcomes as She so quaintly puts it. I am sorry that your discovery of the character's existence led to the first break with the man that you love but we had to find a way that the demons could not take advantage of to break out of their evil domain. I have been watching over you ever since.”
I could make neither head nor tail of what he was saying. He was close now, but I could not have moved to save my life. He smiled at me then seemed to concentrate momentarily. The next moment two huge brown-black shadows sprung from his back and seemed to fill the room. And in that instant I knew – or thought I knew – who he was.
“You are Castiel!” I exclaimed, remembering the painting in that London studio all those years ago. “The Angel of Thursday!”
He smiled and shook his head, took a final step forward and placed his hand lightly on my shoulder.
“Not quite”, he said. “I am Sachiel, the other Angel of Thursday. You, brother, are Castiel!”
For a terrible moment I felt that my body was going to explode with all the raw power – no, the grace – that was pouring into it. The whole room was filled with the sort of intense blue light that had I viewed it with human eyes would surely have blinded me. As my body came back to itself – a body restored by my grace to when my vessel had been so much younger - I finally understood.
[Narration by Castiel, Angel of Thursday]
“Brother”, I said trying to pull myself together. “Thank you.” I hesitated before adding, “um, the Righteous Man?”
My brother-angel smiled.
“Your little 'mishap' in rescuing Dean Winchester from Hell has finally been remedied, even if you both had to live your full lives here as a result”, he said. “All has happened to ensure that when your great-nephew Dane and his friend Costentyn go to the United States next month, they will take his cousin, John Watson's grandson Henry with them. Henry's grandson will be the second Dean Winchester and hence the timeline shall be restored.”
I tried not to frown at that.
“But not before you and Dean have had some time in Heaven first”, he smiled.
He glanced at the barn door behind me and I turned to look. Dean was coming through that door – a Dean as young as that fateful first day when Sherlock and John had met in Stamford's room at Oxford over six decades ago, a Dean whose soul shone as brightly as when I had – would have - rescued him from Hell, far into a future that we could now rewrite. A future in which when I knew that I would always be his.
Now of course he just looked gloriously confused. And those wonderful bowed legs.....
“Sherlock”, he yawned as he scratched his head, “why are you up so early? And what are you doing out.....?”
My brother had with exquisite timing made himself scarce; I so owed him for that. I smiled at my love and waited for him to realize the truth. He squinted at me, looked down at himself, then back at me again. A slow smile creased his gloriously handsome features and he waggled his eyebrows at me in a way that was only going to lead to one thing.
“Well, while we're here....”
Apparently Heaven was going to have to wait.
Some time later we returned to our room to arrange our former bodies and I smiled across at my love. He crossed to the panty draw, opened it and waggled his eyebrows again.
Apparently Heaven was going to have to wait some more!
Finally the two of us went out into the approaching dawn. It was a glorious late summer's day and Casdene lay quiet and undisturbed far below, under cerulean skies. I looked at my love and smiled at him as we said goodbye to our home for the past thirty-five years, and moved towards our future. Together, forever and always, Dean and Cas.
Dean stared in surprise.
“Y'all really do have pearly gates up here?” he asked. Castiel nodded.
“We never did”, he said, “but so many people came to expect them that my Father felt that he had to have them installed. Narrative causality.”
“Reality conforming to the pressure of expectations”, the angel explained. “This is the angel entrance; we have a second for most people and a third with a special trap-door for those we want to make suffer by showing them what they could have got had they been a better person before they take the long drop to the nether regions. Hello, Pete.”
That at least was different, Dean thought wryly. The pedestal which he had half-expected St. Peter to be standing behind was instead a desk covered in papers (it even had one of those weird coloured tubes with the different weight-things that floated up and down, something Dean had always thought totally pointless). Behind it sat an elderly white-haired fellow in a Wacky Races T-shirt – Peter Perfect of course! He stared at Dean curiously then pulled a large book out of thin air and began thumbing through it.
“Peter!” Castiel said warningly.
“You're no fun”, the saint sighed. “Okay, you boys are good to go in despite the, ahem, delay!.
People did still blush in Heaven, and that included angels. St. Peter smiled.
“Your carriage awaits.”
He pulled a lever at the side of his desk and there was a mechanical sound from nearby – odd, Dean thought considering that they were floating on clouds. Then a familiar solid black figure rose majestically out of the clouds and... come on, all that moisture was bound to make someone's eyes start watering.
The angel and the saint looked at him knowingly as he prowled round the Impala. The gates had opened and the two of them got into the car as the gates creaked open before them.
“Ready for eternity?” Dean grinned.
Castiel smiled and reached across to take his lover by the hand.
“Hey! Bad angel!”
Alright, maybe a little lower than the hand. St. Peter allowed himself a smirk.
“Let's hit the road!” Castiel said. “Our cottage – and our bed – awaits.”
The Impala rolled forward smoothly and just moments later was parked outside a very familiar cottage. The two kissed before getting out then went inside. Dean and Cas, together in Heaven.
Moments later and several dimensions away, God looked up as The Thing With The Swinging Balls started to shake and the lights in the wife's lava lamps flickered ominously. Since She was away shopping in London he treated himself to a long overdue eye-roll. Kids these days!