Supernatural. Sam, Cas, Dean, brief Lisa. PG13. Spoilers for the finale and S6 spoilers, I guess.
Post-5x22. "The first time Cas pops up in the passenger seat, Sam curses and the car jerks left."
The first time Cas pops up in the passenger seat, Sam curses and the car jerks left. His hand twitches for his knife.
"Hello, Sam," says Cas, and Sam thinks this must've been how Dean felt.
Sam's been thinking that a lot. Destroying a nest of ghouls, knowing it would've been easier with two people around – must've been what Dean thought. Nights when Sam couldn't sleep, days when he slept too long, all the times he just stares at Dean's number on his phone and does nothing. Dean's number was the first number Sam programmed in. Must've been what Dean did. At a diner, just outside of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Sam ordered a bacon cheeseburger for the hell of it, and wondered.
"Jesus, Cas," says Sam, righting the car. And there's something about him, something about Cas. Hell hasn't completely left Sam's system, and there's something about Cas that hurts his eyes. Sam automatically wants to flinch away. "Are you... No, you're not glowing," because that isn't the word he's looking for.
To Sam's surprise, Cas chuckles. Then the angel proceeds to explain almost everything.
This must've been how Dean felt, Sam thinks, squatting in a foreclosed house and working his way through a six-pack. Did Dean ever split a six-pack with Cas? Cas didn't seem like the drinking type back then. Now, though.
"Johael has been suggesting we ally with the nephilim, but many of us are hesitant," Cas is saying, and Sam nods and listens.
Castiel has been a walking contradiction to begin with, and now he is twice that, all mojoed up, plus upgrade. He's more powerful and ostensibly more angelic than ever before, except for the way he is draped loose in the armchair, leaning. It's like he lets himself blur now, lets himself veer. Lets himself develop a taste for Johnny Walker Red; Cas takes a flask of it from his coat pocket and offers some to Sam. The year Castiel spent falling into humanity will never leave him. His unmaking can never be undone, but Cas has embraced it with a frankness that transforms the unmaking into remaking, and Sam envies him for it.
"Pass me another one," Cas says.
"When in Rome, huh?" Sam grins, passing him a bottle.
Cas opens it with bare hands and it isn't even a twist-off. "Which period?"
He gets used to Cas popping up in the passenger seat, or wherever. In his motel room. In a CVS aisle when he's restocking the first aid. On the side of a country road, overlooking green hills on a late afternoon, having pulled up for no other reason than that he wanted to.
"How's the revolution?" Sam asks. He's sitting on the trunk of his car, and Cas leans his back against the side of it.
"Difficult," Cas admits. "Violent. Johael thinks we haven't seen anything like it since Lucifer fell."
“Oh. Well, how's the, uh... the nephilim thing going?"
"Slow. Gazardiel is a terrible diplomat." And then Cas turns his gaze on Sam, directly on him. "How are you, Sam?"
"I'm good," Sam replies, and he doesn't think he's lying. The stare makes him uncomfortable, though. He doesn't know if Cas is waiting for more, or looking inside his head, or what. Between two brothers, Dean's always been the champion of angelic staring contests.
Sam drops his gaze to the ground.
"There's a disturbance," says Cas.
"In the Force?" Sam asks.
Cas considers this, then guesses, "You just made a Star Trek reference."
"You should be careful," he continues. "The power that binds the gateways to Heaven and Hell are... fucking up."
Sam raises his eyebrows.
Cas says, "There's been a lot of activity in the veil between the worlds."
“Guess I'll just have to avoid these veils, then."
"You can't. You're one of them."
Sam says, "Oh."
Cas says, "Be vigilant."
"Yeah, I'll put that on my to-do list."
The sound of wings, and Sam's alone again. He stays on the roadside for a few more minutes, but the peace has been sucked out of the day. If the hills are alive, it's alive with portents and quiet colors. The gold is beginning to leech the blue from the sky, and Sam scuffs a shoe in the dirt and thinks about how it totally makes sense that Cas favors Trek over Wars, the goofy bastard.
Once again, Cas shows up out of nowhere, jerking through space-time in the passenger seat with less aplomb than usual. It doesn't take long for Sam to see that something is wrong. Cas is holding himself stiffly and at angles that are slightly off. The miasma of divine light that usually makes Sam cringe is dimmed. "Hey, man, you okay?"
"They were hunting me," Cas rasps. "Raphael..."
"Holy shit." Then, even though Sam feels bad for saying it, "Tell me you didn't lead them here."
"No. No, you don't need to worry about that."
"Yes," Cas snaps, irritated.
Sam asks, "You hurt? You need anything?"
"This is fine." Cas leans his head back against the seat. "I'm fine, here. Just..." And Cas closes his eyes, a gesture that strikes Sam as startlingly human. Angels have no need to blink, nor reason to sleep. "This is... respite enough."
“Jesus, Cas. Lemme guess: I should've seen the other guys?”
"You should not. Your eyes would burn out of your head.”
Sam says okay, and continues driving.
He doesn't play the radio these days because there's always static on the line. When Cas is riding shotgun, it gets worse to the point where even CDs fuzz up. The silence yawns between them, taunting Sam. Remember that time Dean talked non-stop from Connecticut to Pennsylvania? Dean gesticulates like a crazy person; Sam had to keep on saying, "Dude, eyes on the road, hands on the wheel." Remember the time Dean made them listen to 'Appetite For Destruction' for six hours straight?
Tonight, they are driving to Cicero in silence, and Sam knows all the shortcuts.
Sam recognizes the streets, knows that there's a hard-to-see stop sign on Loudon Lane, and a house with garish blue shutters over on Florence. Take a left. At the corner of Downing and Charlotte, the house has a mailbox that proclaims 'The Davidsons' in elaborate stenciled cursive. Cheesy decals of flowers and birds. The house he's looking for is the one after that, and Sam slows the car.
Cas's eyes are still closed when they pull up, but Sam knows he isn't asleep. Sam leaves him alone. Across the street, the Braedens' house is dark except for the kitchen through the living room window, the TV flickering. In the kitchen, someone is moving in and out of the light, and Sam thinks, Please. A shadow on the floor stretches and shifts close, and Sam thinks, Oh god, please.
Like an exhaled breath, Dean appears in the doorway.
He's filled out since the last time Sam saw him. Softer around the edges, maybe a little stockier. He looks relatively well, and Sam's heart sinks, and this is all he wants for his brother, really. Dean looks a little weather-beaten, his hair longer, scruffier. He's holding a bottle of something as he makes his way to the couch, and when he stretches out on it, Sam can only see his legs, and the pale dots of Dean's socked feet.
Sam wonders what Dean is watching on TV.
When Sam resurfaces, he turns to check on Cas, and isn't surprised to see the angel's eyes already open and watching Dean. Blue eyes heavy-lidded and recording, expression as inscrutable as ever. Sam looks back at Dean and thinks yeah, this isn't weird or creepy at all.
Whenever Dean takes a drink from the bottle, Sam can see the outline of his arm. He counts the number of times Dean drinks, and doesn't like it at all. Is it something Lisa talks to him about? Does Dean keep the drinking on the down low? At some point, Dean sits up and Sam sees that his brother hasn't just been vegging out. There's a book on his lap, something large and heavy-looking, and Dean rubs his face with one hand and stares at the pages like they're written in a foreign language.
An upstairs light turns on, and a few seconds later, Dean looks up at the stairs, simultaneously shoving the book under a cushion and the bottle behind the couch. A sleep-mussed Lisa pads into the living room in little more than an oversized shirt, and exchanges a few words with Dean before she shuffles into the kitchen.
“He looks tired,” says Cas.
“We're all tired,” says Sam.
Dean stares out the window, looking drawn and pinched, and Sam doesn't move until Dean looks away again.
“Did you know I used to pray to you guys?”
He and Cas are in a diner somewhere outside of Nashua, Sam with his waffles, and Cas with a cup of coffee growing cold.
“Yes,” says Cas. “We heard your prayers.”
“Didn't think to answer them?”
“Your prayers weren't my responsibility.”
“Whatever, man,” Sam says around a mouthful of waffles. “You guys have made an atheist out of me.”
Cas raises an eyebrow. “Even after meeting us?”
“Are you kidding? Especially after meeting you.”
The angel doesn't seem moved either way. He picks up his coffee, runs his thumb over the rim of the mug. “We're not the caretakers of your faith, Sam.”
“I guess not,” Sam says. “Good thing you're not as big of a dick as I thought you were either.”
Cas takes a sip of his coffee, and replies, “Likewise.”
Sam wakes up from dreams that he thinks are about Dean. He never remembers the details, but he always wakes up with his heart gasping his brother's name. For a few seconds, he is blown away by the impossibility of Dean's absence: it can't be, it just can't be.
Muscle memory gives way to reality.
Sometimes Cas is there, two fingers to Sam's forehead. He would be reminded of two years ago, waking up in the middle of the night to see a trenchcoated silhouette by his brother's bed, too strange to be real. Upon blinking, the silhouette would be gone, and Sam would dismiss it as a dream. They weren't dreams, and he knows this now. There is no one in the next bed over to witness an angel smoothing out the jagged edges in Sam's hell-wrecked mind, but hey, just because you've never seen a million dollars, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
These days, Sam sleeps in starts and stops on top of the covers, not even bothering to undress. Makes it easy to just get up and push past Cas and get in the car, but there Cas is in the passenger seat and Sam doesn't end up driving anywhere after all. He just sits there with his angel pal like two kids at Makeout Point, wondering who'll make the first move.
Hell still outlines Sam's borders, still lingers inside him, dormant but present. Sam did promise to tell Cas if he feels it 'changing', whatever that means, but it's just the same old darkness, same old pain. Lucifer's voice saying, You weren't running from them. You were running towards me. Dean's voice saying, I'm not gonna leave you. Sam's been dealing with it for some months now. It's cool. He can deal with it some more. He's used to fucked up dreams.
He has these questions, though. Like now, suddenly Sam has all these things he wants to ask, like is this what it was like when you pulled my brother out of Hell? (Neither of them knows who pulled Sam out of Hell.) Is this what it was like for Dean? The inability to separate memories from dreams? When an angel shows up to take the demons from your head and relay to you your shitty destiny, what are you supposed to do? Fucking destiny. What happened to Team Free Will?
Sam needs a drink.
As if reading his mind, Cas takes out his flask and offers it to him without a word, and Sam takes it likewise. Tentative partners in post-apocalyptic damage control and burgeoning alcoholism. Cheers to that.
When Sam was little, like really little, he wanted to do everything Dean did, and Dean would delight in making this as difficult for Sam as possible. It's two decades later, and it's like Sam has inherited his brother's destiny. Talk about walking a mile in someone else's shoes. Try driving a thousand miles with their dust in your eyes. Track a thousand more through their bloodstains and hard-earned scars. Somewhere in the universe, the Norns are cackling in delight. He wonders if Dean ever went to Palo Alto and sat at the back of a lecture hall, staring at the back of Sam's head. Went to some frat party, maybe, and spied on Sam drunkenly making out with Jess against the wall.
Would it be weird to ask Cas if he misses Dean, too? That would be weird, right?
“I wonder if Dean still has dreams about the pit,” Sam says instead.
“Yes,” Cas replies. “He does.”
For any number of reasons, Sam chooses not to ask how Cas knows this and if he does anything about it. Sam asks him about his war instead. How 'bout them Yankees? How 'bout that Heavenly revolution? Cas regales him with tales of angelic espionage, his brothers going undercover in the Sixth Heaven, and the skirmishes on the fields of the Third. The nephilim are beginning to yield now that Nahuriel has replaced Gazardiel on diplomatic detail. Cas and a seraph named Yofiel are masterminding some sort of infiltration of Raphael's cabal, and it ain't your mama's Sunday school, that's for damn sure.
“Epic, man,” says Sam. “You should take that shit to Hollywood.”
Cas frowns. “I don't think the CGI would do it justice.”
Sam says yeah, probably not.
They sit there for a while, passing the whiskey back and forth. The apocalypse is over and Hell is still in his dreams, but the night is gentle and his brother is tucked away safe in some warm suburban dream. All is well, and Sam's heart aches.
He says, “Hey, Cas. Thanks, for... Thanks.”
Cas says, “You're welcome.”
They take a few more slugs each from the flask (Cas never seems to run out) and say good night. The motel room is too spacious when Sam goes back in. He tosses the keys back on the nightstand, collapses on the bed, and does something he hasn't done in years: pray. Hey, if you got time between organizing guerrilla forces, please take care of my brother, thanks.
And then he makes himself close his eyes. He hopes he doesn't dream this time.
[originally posted at http://whynot.dreamwidth.org/31011.h