He doesn’t talk about it—what would he say?
“Morning, Cas, how are you?” “Oh, y’know, my metaphysical being is pressing several hundred tons worth of weight down on my shoulders and my wings are calcifying and I’m going out of my mind with pain, the usual.”
Even fantasizing it, he can see the other person’s eyes glaze over as they heave an impatient sigh. No one wants to hear him complain about how his worm-eaten marble heart is too heavy for him to carry without his Grace, how his mortal vessel’s body wasn’t meant to bear it without those big beautiful powerful wings and that mighty steel ribcage. They’re gone now, of course, wings becoming brittle and shattering to pieces at the slightest touch; the bars of his chest snapped, popped clean off, one by one, clattering in the trail of debris his decaying angelic body left behind him, until all that was left was that horrible stone monolith.
Well. That’s not entirely true. He still has one pair of wings left, the ones he had shown to Dean through thunder and the flash of lightning, but they’re too occupied holding up that big, terrible, cracked, crumbling heart of his. The hollow flightless bones are petrified, another set of fossils imprinted into the hunk of marble. His mobility is shot. Now he’s just waiting around for the nerves to finally die so he can ignore the fact he ever had wings at all.
But nobody wants to hear about that. They’d rather he talk about the universal unconscious, about connecting the spiritual and the carnal in lavish orgies. The “fun parts” version of being a fallen angel.
He’s tempted to take a buzz saw to between his shoulders.
The wind snarls her blonde hair miles above the Arizona desert and she figures there’s no real point of contention here: Rachel was an angel, not just a voice, this was really happening.
“Okay, you make a good argument,” she says, “but I still don’t understand what you want me for. I’m just a clerk, I never even finished my degree—”
<You are not ‘just’ anything,> Rachel replies, and xyr voice is weathered leather and the deep boom of cannonfire and it leaves the taste of burnt sugar in the back of her mouth. <You are meant for greater things.>
“Yeah, sure,” she snorts, “and I’m the Chosen One, destined to bring balance to the Force, right?”
<No,> the answer startles her. <I am no longer bound by destiny, and neither are you. But you do have a choice: you can go home to your little apartment, or you can come with me to Heaven and see things no other mortal eye has seen while we change the course of history.>
She’s silent for a moment.
“Yeah, alright, what the hell,” she says, “Let’s do it.”
dean drives all night and wonders if his eyes are playing tricks on him when a mcdonald’s advertisement tells him they have work for him.
an ad for a dating website says it was the one who gripped him tight and raised him from perdition.
a strip club demands dean show some respect.
Crawling your way through six feet of dirt just shouldn’t be possible. Then again, he’s not entirely sure they buried him quite that deep. I sure as hell feels that way, suffocating and hot and sticky and dirty, and he scrapes himself on his own coffin dragging himself upwards. There comes a point when his exhausted body fails him, and he falls aside and thinks any moment now he’s going to run out of air, buried alive and suffocated straight back into hell.
He doesn’t. His body breathes for him, letting him rest enough to find the strength to climb out, whole and alive.
Everything feels new. It looks the same, mostly—the handprint on his arm definitely wasn’t there before, but he still looks like himself. He feels more like himself than he has for a long, long time, but there’s an ache in his ribs that doesn’t leave for a day or two, and somehow the very air he breathes feels more real than he remembers. For a while, he thinks it’s just getting used to living, again.
He doesn’t catch on for a long, long time. He gets suspicious when Bobby runs every test he’s got twice and he comes up clean, and even more suspicious when they track down a gang of demons and they all go for Sam first. It’s not until they stop for gas in the middle of nowhere at 3 in the morning, and when Sam goes inside to get them coffee, Dean sits down in the driver’s seat and realizes he doesn’t hear one person breathing, but two.
He hurls himself out of the car and checks every space he can find, making sure the devil’s trap on the trunk is still intact and tossing salt in every direction until he finally looks back into the back window, breath fogging up the glass. There are symbols on the window.
It takes another minute to figure out the window wasn’t written on, originally, although it becomes a little more obvious when the words change from that strange, ancient script to English.
Don’t be afraid.
Yeah, that helps.
“Who the hell are you?” The words on the glass change before he’s even finished speaking.
I’m the one who gripped you tight
and raised you from perdition.
My name is Castiel.
I am an angel of the LORD.
The word ‘Castiel’ is a sort of sigil before the word becomes legible. Dean leans against his car and takes a second to get his heart rate back to kind-of-normal, and the words stop, quickly frosted over with white.
“What, you’ve got nothing else to say?”
No. It takes a great deal
of energy to do this.
I cannot move very far.
“What do you mean, you can’t move? You’re not possessing me, or anything, are you?” He’s pretty sure he’d know if he was being possessed by an angel, but then again, he was pretty sure angels didn’t exist up until now.
No. I am the breath in your lungs.
I have kept you alive since you
dug yourself out of the earth.
“…any reason you’re still there?” Oh, god. “I’m not gonna die if you leave, am I?”
A long pause, just long enough for Dean to panic.
It is possible.
Great. Just great.
“…well then, don’t leave, okay? I’ve still got work to do.”
i am salt and new life, the cry of gulls as they pass over my tide, kisses of wave against a slope of sand, a force of nature both chaotic and serene, a wading open of cerulean and sea foam pressed deep into the lungs of all those unwilling.
i am a chill of worry up the spines of new sailors, a terror that falls from the mouths of mothers to children in the form of fables and warnings. carbon and plankton, gills and feathers drifting along with my current, bubbles of oxygen rising to the surface only to become swallowed by the rush of my waves.
i am not a saviour.
when humanity was new, they feared my calling. their five toed footprints would be gulped whole by my reaching tongue as i raced after them, perhaps hoping to swallow them down, instead. they are brave, cautious is all the wrong ways and filled with such pride that they allowed themselves to believe that i would not hurt that, that i would carry them on my back and welcome them into my cells and never bite their soft flesh or snap their fragile necks or hold them under while they trashed and called out to others for salvation.
i am salt coated prays of mercy rushing down the backs of their throats, wisps of darkened hair as i held them under, a siren’s call under a new moon as i heaved in my absence of life.
i am salt and new life, but i am always a death, as well.
The thing flays him open from throat to groin, a thick red line of torn flesh opening up down his midsection. Dean stares down the curve of his own body, sees the raw crimson hole that’s suddenly been torn across his person, and as black blood, the sort that only spills when something vital is wounded, wells up out of his mouth, he finds himself staring up at a pair of eyes wholly different from his own. Dark yellow, with slits for pupils and an almond shape, the eyes practically glow. A rough tongue drags along the cut, pulls down the injury from just below Dean’s jaw to right above his hips. It feels like sandpaper being applied to fatal damage, like an added abrasion on top of the pain he’s already feeling, and as he feebly attempts to push his insides back in, a weight settles across his legs.