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Spn Fanfiction - DCBB2012 - Borrowed (Dean/Cas) [Chapter 4]
Bill Nails
hollybennett123

(((Masterpost-Prologue-1-2-3-4-5-Epilogue)))



Chapter 4

Castiel wakes early to a feeling of dread; where sometimes it will take a few moments to remember upon waking why that day will be good or bad, this time the knowledge of what he must do is bone deep, a steady hum of trepidation that even sleep could not shake. He turns onto his other side to face Dean, and the other man shifts onto his back as though he had been looking at the ceiling all along; as though he hadn’t been watching Castiel sleep.

“Morning,” Castiel says, because there is nothing good about it. Dean looks to him for a moment and moves to lie on his side again, scant inches separating them. He says nothing but slides one hand into Castiel’s hair and kisses him slowly.

“You taste like toothpaste,” Castiel says blearily.

“Yeah? You ain’t so minty fresh,” Dean laughs quietly, but it’s somewhat hollow and his smile fades quickly. “Couldn’t sleep,” he says with a sigh. “Got up for a bit. Thought I should probably be here when you woke up.”

“I’m tired,” Castiel tells him, closing his eyes and burying his face in the pillow. “Can we stay like this?”

“No can do, buddy. Up and at ‘em before sunrise, remember?” His voice cracks just a little and Castiel’s heart breaks right along with it.

Reluctantly, Castiel sits up, sheets pooling at his waist as Dean’s eyes track the movement.

“Wish we had another day though,” Dean mutters. “Just… a bit more time is all.”

Castiel forces him to meet his gaze. “When I get back,” he murmurs, fingers at Dean’s jaw and feeling the sandpaper-scratch of stubble there, “I’ll see to it that we have forever.”

~*~


While Castiel showers and gets ready, Dean paces and frets and pretends he isn’t doing so. Castiel deliberates over the appropriate clothing to wear despite the fact that it’s completely irrelevant, but somehow it feels right to dress at least somewhat smartly, and he decides upon black pants with a white, albeit crumpled, shirt.

He looks up in surprise when Dean hands him his old trenchcoat, neatly folded. It’s the first time he’s seen it in some time; he knew Dean had it, but they have never spoken about it in the years it has been folded in the Impala or one of Dean’s bags. It was just there.

“Just… seems right, I guess,” Dean says with a shrug. “I know you’re not going to be wearing it for long, and I mean that in the ‘freaky celestial wavelength’ kind of way not the ‘gonna rip that right off of you’ kind of way, but you were wearing it through most of the major stuff we’ve been through so I just thought…”

He trails off, looking uncertain, but Castiel holds his gaze as he unfolds it with careful hands. “No, you’re right,” he says, feeling the familiar texture of the material against his fingers, the bittersweetness of nostalgia threaded through every crease and fray. “I would like to wear it.” He shrugs it on over his shirt and slacks, and it’s startling how the glimpse of his reflection takes him back to years earlier. He looks at once like the angel he once was, the man he would become, and the combination he is now. He has been so many things, and Dean has treated him simply as Castiel throughout, whether human, angel or demi-god.

“Still the only dude in like, ever, who managed to make the nerdy tax-accountant get-up look hot,” Dean says, smoothing the coat over Castiel’s shoulders as the corners of his mouth tip up in a smile. “You’re missing something, though.” He walks away for a minute to rummage through a bag and comes back with a wrinkled black tie. “Not quite right, but it’ll do,” he says, looping it around Castiel’s neck under the coat and tucking it beneath his collar before tying it into a neat knot. “It’s my only one, but I’m sure I can find another if I’ve gotta play FBI anytime soon.”

“Thank you,” Castiel says and Dean doesn’t reply, just looks him up and down once and then loosens the tie slightly so that the knot is twisted and the strips of material hang untidily.

“Better,” Dean says as he steps back, and when he smiles there is something wistful in it. They stand for a moment, neither of them wanting to take another step towards the inevitable, but eventually Dean exhales shakily and says, “I’ll go get Sam.”

Castiel nods and waits for Dean to return, and he does so a couple of minutes later with Sam in tow. Sam’s eyes widen when he sees Castiel.

“What is it?” Castiel asks him, but Sam shakes his head.

“Just been a long time since I’ve seen you dressed like that,” he says, smile soft and sad. “Like old times.”

“I’m going to miss you very much, Sam,” Castiel tells him, and hugs him as Dean hovers in the background looking uncomfortable at having to witness displays of affection. Castiel has so much he could say to Sam, but knows that he doesn’t have to voice any of it because Sam knows. He knows that Castiel needs him to take care of himself in his absence, and to keep a watchful eye over Dean. Sam’s hands are warm and broad against his back, a small comfort.

“I know, man. You too,” Sam murmurs into his hair.  “Wherever we are in three years, we’ll be ready and waiting for you to come find us again.”

“Goodbye, Sam,” Castiel says quietly, and reluctantly parts from him.

“Bye, Cas.”

He turns to Dean, whose expression is guarded and careful, but there’s misery spilling out around the edges and Castiel feels nauseated, devastated, at having to leave like this. He rests their foreheads together and Dean’s hands frame his face as they press their lips together. It’s barely even a kiss, closed-mouthed and still; just a transfer of touch that lingers until he feels the goddess’s presence, a whirling tug of insistent energy.

“She wants me to go with her,” Castiel murmurs against the corner of Dean’s mouth, pressing one final kiss there before he pulls away. “Remember that I will be able to hear you if you choose to let me do so, even if I can’t respond; speak to me as often as you are able. Both of you,” he says.

The energy is surrounding him now, buzzing under his skin, and he at last gives in to it, closing his eyes and letting it pull him up, until the world is abstract and out of reach.

~*~

 
The first thing Castiel will come to learn is this: there is an abundance of loneliness in glory.

It is not the only thing he learns, but it is perhaps the most important.

That particular lesson is ongoing.

~*~


He sees everything. More so, even, than when he was an angel and could traverse the globe in a fraction of a second. Of course there is an exception to his everything in the form of the two people he wants to see most; they are hidden from him, and he makes no attempt to seek them out. He gave the goddess his word and tries to learn what it is that is expected from him without distraction, giving himself over wholly.

She is a surprisingly patient tutor, helping him harness the power he didn’t even realize he possessed and guiding his every action until he is able to create humans, body and soul, with ease.

The creation of angels is few and far between, however, and it is some time before he is given the opportunity; having thought himself a poor example of one himself, the feeling upon creating an angel is a strange one. He also feels an odd sense of fear for them, birthed like a star from energy and nothingness and sent hurtling to a Heaven in disarray with no purpose or reason to fight for.

He has seen angels fall and angels die, some of them like his brother Janiel turned ugly and cruel by the end. While from what he can see the actions of angels continue to rarely impact upon humans, he dreads the possibility that they could skirmish once again with bloody, devastating consequences.

Any and all contact with humans is forbidden, and he would not try to break that promise. Nevertheless, Castiel has something of a history of being inclined to bend the rules a little where needed.

~*~

 
Shekinah starts when Castiel says her name; he feels slightly guilty at waking her up, but in all fairness it was difficult to tell whether or not she was asleep through the oversized sunglasses she’s currently sporting.  She looks quite different to the last time they had met, having swapped the smart business wear for a terrifyingly fluorescent green bikini. Her hair is tightly braided and tipped with decorative beads, and although Castiel cannot feel temperature in his current form he can tell from the palm trees and the heat haze that this beach is extremely hot.

“Cassie, you startled me,” she laughs out loud before realizing she can just as easily converse with him inside her head. “I’m on vacation, in case you couldn’t tell.”

“I had guessed from the alarming swimwear and the fact that you were inexplicably in Brazil,” Castiel replies. While he understands the concept of a vacation, it’s not something he’s ever really experienced. He supposes that to go away on some sort of retreat implies that you will eventually return to wherever you came from, and that isn’t something that really fits with their itinerant lifestyle.

“It’s seriously freaking hot here, right?” she asks him, sipping a drink from a tall glass that clinks with ice before pressing the condensation-covered outside of it to her forehead in an attempt to cool off her human form.

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Right,” she grins, pushing her sunglasses back up her nose with one finger when they slip down. “It’s weird talking to you and not being able to see you. Also weird hearing your angel-Cas voice again rather than your person-Cas voice; you make Enochian sound really badass, you know. But anyway… how is life as an all-powerful god of creation?”

He pauses. “Difficult. Enjoyable. Lonely. Unfathomable.”

“That’s quite the combination of answers,” she replies. “I’m guessing you’re here to pick my brain about something rather than for a social visit?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Castiel says. “Sister, I am worried. From what I can see, Heaven is still in a state of confusion and it is only a matter of time before matters escalate.”

“I keep an eye on things, when I can. I haven’t seen much evidence so far of things going too badly,” she says calmly. “Yes, what Janiel did was regrettable and we’re inevitably gonna have a few of our guys going rogue, but we can only do so much.”

“That may be so, but –”

Shekinah cuts in and interrupts him before he can continue, and when she speaks her voice is gentle and clear. “Castiel. Listen to me. What, exactly, do you think you can do to resolve this?”

“There is nothing I can do,” Castiel tells her, exasperated. “Nothing I can do will –”

“Then you do nothing more than you are doing now,” she says. Castiel falls silent. “Acceptance, Castiel. You can’t do anything about it; maybe there will be battles to be fought in the future, maybe there won’t. As important as it is to accept your responsibilities, you also have to accept when you can’t do anything more. Let it go.”

It is so simple and yet it’s like some pivotal thing has shifted upon its axis. He cannot control what happens in Heaven and he can only resolve problems once they have come into existence rather than trying to fight against possibilities and unfounded fears. It is not his burden to bear.

“Feel better?” she asks him. He really does.

“Yes,” he says. “Thank you.”

“You do realize you can come and talk me at some point when you don’t need my great and powerful wisdom, right?” she tells him with a smile. “We can hang out like friends do; you are allowed to have friends, you know. It’s one of the cool parts of being human.”

“Yes,” Castiel says in agreement. “Once I have returned to Dean and Sam you can come and… ‘hang out’ with us.”

“Cool,” she says. “Tell your boo and your BFF you’re expecting company and I’ll get in touch sometime.”

He isn’t entirely sure what all of the words in that sentence were, but when he tells her as much she simply laughs fondly and tells him that he should take care before bidding him farewell.

He leaves her on the beach with a mingled sense of relief, happiness and general positivity and feels better than he has done in a long time.

~*~

 
His work is demanding, but there are times when he is able to flit from place to place and explore the universe from edge to edge.

This, of course, means that not only can he explore anywhere on Earth (with the exception of wherever Sam and Dean are at that given moment) but he can move through Heaven as easily as he once could.

He stumbles upon John Winchester’s heaven somewhat by accident and cannot help his curiosity. It feel a little like intruding, to Dean and Sam even more so than John, but he aches to see the Winchesters in any way he can, even if it is simply a memory playing out while he remains invisible.

In this particular memory, John looks calm and rested in a way that Castiel imagines he must rarely have done at that age. He appears to have taken a break from hunting, whether self-imposed or through sheer luck that cases were few and far between for a short while, and from what Castiel knows of him he would guess it to be the latter; for a hunter there are always monsters to be found if you look hard enough, but sometimes their silence allows them to be treated as though they were not there at all.

Before him, Sam and Dean sit at a table, and they are so young. Castiel has little experience with human children, but he would place Sam at perhaps three or four years old, which would make Dean around eight. Dean is affixing stickers bearing the image of cars into a sticker book while John looks on fondly, half watching his boys and otherwise focusing his attention on a pan he is stirring on the stove.

“De-eeean,” Sam whines, evidently unhappy at something his older brother is doing. “You’re s’posed to stick them inside the lines.” There are car-shaped outlines clearly marked out on the page in front of Dean, but he’s just haphazardly sticking them anywhere he likes with a cheerful smile.

“Nuh-uh, Sammy,” he tells him with an air of superiority. “Long as you get ‘em in there, that’s all that matters.” His small hands work deftly, his sights set on some clear image in his mind of what he wants to achieve and he isn’t going to let anyone else tell him he’s wrong.

It’s so very them, so absolutely what Dean and Sam are all about summed up in child’s play and naive smiles that Castiel doesn’t know whether he wants to laugh or cry and can of course do neither. It shouldn’t ache, he hasn’t anything to ache, and yet it does, the absence of them in his life tangible somehow.

He counts down each sunset as it comes and with each passing day the pain both lessens and increases as they become ever more distant and ever closer.

~*~


From the very beginning, there are times when he is able to hear Sam and Dean talking to him. The first few times they speak to him, alone or together, they sound uncertain of what to say and simply tell him they hope he’s doing okay and reassure him that they’re safe.

As the weeks pass, though, they often start up one-sided conversations with him, telling him what they’ve been up to. Sometimes, he’ll just hear a g’night, Cas, or his name on Dean’s breath gasped into the empty silence of a motel room. Their voices become a fairly frequent presence, until, one day, they stop. Nearly a week passes before he hears anything at all, his worry growing by the hour.


Hey, Cas, Dean says eventually, voice rough and more than a little shaky. Sorry we kinda went AWOL on you. Sam’s kinda – fuck, he’s in the hospital and it’s pretty bad, Cas. Doctors say it’s pneumonia or some shit, he’s getting better but he came down with it pretty hard. I’ll… let you know, I guess.

Castiel doesn’t know what to feel in response; relief that they are both alive is tinged with concern for Sam and an overwhelming sadness for Dean, trapped alone in that situation. He imagines him spending his days at Sam’s bedside, subsisting on alcohol and minimal sleep, and he wishes he was there even if only to serve as a distraction.

In the days that come after, Dean is much more positive and then, a week or so after that, Sam starts talking to him again too. Dean tells Castiel in an exaggerated whisper that Sam is a pansy-ass dork who looks fucking ridiculous in a hospital gown, and Sam cuts in to tell Castiel that no, he’s actually rocking this look, and Dean is just the worst. It’s the first time Castiel has heard Dean laugh in a long time.

He just wants to go back to wherever they are. He just wants to go home.

~*~

 

As much as he is able to learn the physical aspects of creation, his understanding of the reasons behind why they do things is shaky and he often struggles to understand it. He has many questions.

He wonders, for instance, to what extent his creation of a newborn soul will have on the person that the soul will one day become. What if he should make an error and in turn cause this new life to follow a wrong path at some point down the line, crossing the line between good and evil? Would it be his fault, or the influence of those around this creation? He thinks of fate and wonders how much of this person’s future he is carving out for them.

“We are all of us an old, new thing,” the goddess had said once, cryptically. Sometimes Castiel thinks he understands more than he has ever understood before. Sometimes he thinks that maybe he doesn’t understand at all.

~*~

 
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the goddess doesn’t understand Castiel either.

She cannot comprehend the choices he has made, nor why he cannot give himself over fully to the life of a Creator. Nevertheless, to his eternal gratitude, she is accepting.

He has spent weeks, months and eventually years counting down the days until he can return to what he considers to be his home and he knows that she has not missed it.

“Castiel,” she says when a single day is all that stands between him and everything he wants and needs. “You are welcome to stay, but I will make no attempt to coerce you into something you so clearly do not want. We will meet again, and you will eventually divide your time between Creation and Heaven as agreed. But, come tomorrow, you will be free to return to Earth. I hope you have made the right choice.”

There is no doubt in Castiel’s mind that this is what he wants, and for every stretch of time he will have to give up the glory of Creation, the beauty of angel’s song and the familiar feel of swirling air currents beneath the ethereal wavelengths of his unfurled wings, he will gain something far greater.

“Thank you,” is all he says, something like relief and excitement brimming inside of him.

“Your soul is yours to create, Castiel,” she tells him. “Make it pure, and strong, as I have taught you.”

And so, immersed in Creation and awaiting the goddess’s permission to return to his human form, that’s exactly what he does.

---




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