This was written for Wincestial Big Bang 2013. You can find the art at stefy-coool's livejournal http://stefy-coool.livejournal.com/136499.html
I want to give a big thank you to my artist Stefy, first because of her great art! But also because I was super disorganized during this and she was very patient c: Now go look at the awesome art! (Art contains spoilers)
Castiel hasn't always made the best choices.
He loves his brothers and sisters, like any human would love theirs, and rebelling against heaven was the hardest decision he's ever made. Castiel doesn't regret it, though he regret every time he's forced to stab his blade through his brother's heart. Watching the blue of their grace flicker and die kills a little piece of Castiel as well. Still the fate of the world depends on the Winchesters and him being able to stop the inevitable battle between Lucifer and Michael and Castiel is determined not to fail.
Which is why he is less than pleased when he walks right into a trap and finds himself bound in a ring of holy fire.
Meg passes the time with her gloating, edging closer and closer to the angel until Castiel sends a pipe crashing down onto her back. She stumbles across the fire and knocks into Castiel, she's still confident and smug until she's laid over the flames and screaming as Castiel walks across her. He doesn't get far, of course, Castiel was not even five feet from the door when it slams shut and Castiel feels the icy chill that follows wherever his brother goes.
"Clever little angel," Lucifer chuckles behind him. Castiel turns, his angel blade slips out of his sleeve and into his hand.
"I suppose it would be unwise to ask you to simply let me go." Lucifer laughs again and steps towards his little brother which Castiel matches with a step back, unconsciously raising his blade up in defence.
"You know you can't win, right?"
Castiel nods and lets go of the angel blade, Lucifer smirks when it clanks against the stone. Lucifer steps towards Castiel, hand out as if offering a truce but as soon as he's close enough Castiel pounces. Lucifer's still infinitely stronger than Castiel, the element of surprise gave him little advantage and Lucifer barely stumbles against Castiel's sudden weight. Lucifer easily pushes him off and sends Castiel tumbling to the ground. Castiel hears the devil tsk behind him as he shakily raises himself onto his knees. "Castiel, I don't want to hurt you. We don't have to do this."
"If someone doesn't stop you, millions will die."
"Billions," Lucifer corrects, stepping closer and closer, Castiel can feel the way he seems to suck the heat out of the air. "Angels, demons, human. Anything that walks the earth when Michael and I finally start our little 'battle'."
Castiel looks up at his older brother, his tongue darts out to wet his lips and as much as he hates to admit it he starts to lose his nerve. "And you're fine with causing all those deaths?"
Lucifer kneels down next to Castiel, his eyes soften and gently he lays his hand on his brother's shoulder. "I know it's hard for you to understand."
Castiel knocks Lucifer's hand away and scowls. "I understand that you'll destroy a planet to settle a score with Michael."
Lucifer's whole body hardens at Castiel's accusation. "Michael is the one who-"
Castiel's hand darts out and grabs his sword again, he twists around and just barely nicks Lucifer's neck. Lucifer grabs Castiel's hand and squeezes until the angle grunts and drops his blade.
"Don't be stupid," Lucifer chastises and twists Castiel's hands. "Look you've already caused yourself more damage than you have me."
Lucifer runs his hand under the cut that is slashed across Castiel's palm; the wounds drips more blood then grace, a reminder of Castiel's fallen state. Lucifer almost looks concerned as Castiel pulls his injured hand out of his grasp and looks between the blood on his palm and the blue wound on the devil's neck. "Going against you, it's a suicide mission."
Lucifer nearly smiles, a brother that stands with him is one he doesn't have to take down, but when Castiel's eye darken the sinister meaning of Castiel's words becomes clear. Before the devil can react Castiel slaps his hand onto his neck, pressing their open, grace pouring, cuts together.
An angel's grace is strong, all-encompassing and capable both destroying and creating but when an angel falls it becomes something else. A fallen angel's grace is above all things unstable and like an unattended science laboratory it just takes one little mishap to send into an uncontainable explosion. Castiel and Lucifer are still both angels but cut off from The Host it leaves their grace aching for a connection to replace it. Yet with Castiel's grace as corroded as it is as soon as it touches Lucifer's it breaks apart. Shattering into an explosions unseeable to the human eye but Castiel can hear Lucifer screaming even as everything goes black.
Castiel wakes up to a garden, it's lush and green and dazzling. He pushes himself up to his knees, soft dewy grass brushes against his palm, and leans against the tree behind him. He looks around at the hordes of animals running around him, a tiny lamb darts in front of a lion who pays him little attention instead the beast just twists onto his back and lounges in the sun.
"This is a fine mess you've gotten us into." Castiel glances up to the branches hanging over his head where a shadow is obscured amongst the leaves. Castiel climbs to his feet and moves to the other side of the tree where he can better see the man, though he can make out little more than blond hair and a smug grin.
"Who are you?"
"I must say, I did not see that coming," the voice muses. He reaches up to another branch and yanks an apple off its stem. "It's not often I'm caught off guard."
The voice is pulls at Castiel's memory, he recognizes it as the one that tried to calm him in the church but he feels that it goes deeper than that. "Do I know you?"
"Intimately," he answers, though Castiel senses a mocking tone. "Here."
The apple is tossed down and Castiel barely catches it before it falls on his head. He holds it in his hands, carefully turning it over and examining the fruit, it's shiny and spotless and he takes a hesitant bite. A foul taste hits Castiel tongue and he spits out the apple, he looks down out the fruit in his hand and finds it soft and black. "It's rotten."
"Well, I didn't make you eat it."
Castiel's eye's snap open, hand fly up to his mouth where there is still a lingering slimy taste in his mouth. He looks around and finds himself alone, caked in dirt from the ditch he found himself in. He tries to push himself up but his hand slips and he crashes back into the puddle, his face striking the mud with a slick slip.
Spitting out a mouthful of dirt, he manages to twist out of the ditch and tries to wipe off as much of the mess as he could. Castiel looks left and right but all he can see is miles of empty road and after a moment of hesitation he turns left and makes his way to whatever may be down there. He isn't sure how long he walked for, the sun started off high in the sky and slowly descends behind the horizon. The mud dries uncomfortably on his skin, cracking and peeling every time he moved a muscle. Behind him, Castiel hears the crunch of gravel and a clunking engine before a dust cloud blows in next to him.
"You okay, honey?" A voice asks through the brown smoke.
Castiel blinks against the dry burn in his eyes, the dust starts to settle and he finds a woman looking at him from inside a beat-up red truck. "I don't know."
The woman raises an eyebrow and gives his dirty body a once over. "Well, do you need a ride into town?"
Castiel's gaze follows down the road to where she points, it still all seems so empty. "I will walk."
"It's another thirty minutes driving, sugar. You'll never make it before dark." Castiel answer is too just stare silently back at her, his mind is fuzzy and part of him says he doesn't want a ride and he doesn't need to walk but it stops short of giving him another alternative. The stranger gives him a sympathetic smile, reaches behind herself and opens the door. "Come on, it's no trouble."
Castiel nods and climbs in, she smiles at him in the rear view mirror and they begin to roll down the bumpy road. "My name Alice."
"Nice to meet you," Castiel replies as he watches the blurry dessert whiz by.
"And you?" Alice asks after a stretched out silence. "What's your name?"
"Oh, I don't know," he answers nonchalantly.
"You don't know your own name?"
"I don't think so." He racks his memory for a name but he can't even remember where he was this morning. The car grows silent, Alice was kind enough not to press the issue and he searched his mind for an answer. "I think it may be Castiel."
"Castiel, huh?" She says with a tiny laugh. "That's a unique name."
Alice shoots him a strange look in the rear-view mirror but she quickly changes the subject. "You know, I have a son around your age."
"Doubtful," he says to himself.
"I'll bring you around to The Good Sheppard, the church has a back room that we use as a shelter. Gets pretty full in the winter but it's empty now so you get it all to yourself." She smiles though Castiel isn't sure what the benefit of being all alone would be. "You can shower and get your clothes washed."
"That's very kind of you." Alice flicks the radio on and they spend the rest of the ride in silence with soft country filling the truck instead. Eventually the barren wasteland starts to give way to little patches of grass and then a small town comes into view. It's a simple place, rows of houses all built around a steeple in the centre. Alice stops at an old convenience store and comes back with some bottles of water and a wrapped sandwich.
"Here," she hands him the items as she climbs back into the truck. "You look hungry."
He isn't but he takes the water and food regardless, chewing on the tasteless sandwich and washing it down with warm water while they drive towards the church. "That store's food leaves something to be desired but one of the Sisters can whip you up something homemade tonight."
"That won't be necessary," Castiel tells her, knowing that he didn't need or particularly want any more food.
"Nonsense, there isn't anything else for them to do," she laughs. Alice parks the car and hops out, opening the door for Castiel and leading him into the church. An uneasy feeling hits Castiel as soon as he crossed the threshold but he tries to ignore it as Alice ushers him to the basement and into a gymnasium. "The showers are just in here."
She flicks on the lights and crosses the gym, sneakers squeaking with each step, and swings the door open to a room full of shower stalls. Alice pulls over a laundry hamper and tsks when she finds the hangers empty of any towels. "The boys must have used all our towels after their basketball game. Well no matter, just hop in I'll have someone bring you some."
"Yes." Castiel reaches up and starts to unbutton his shirt but Alice raises her hands to cover her eyes and he pauses.
"Whoa there!" She laughs nervously. "Wait till the lady leaves the room."
"Apologies." Castiel's hand drop awkwardly to his sides and he's no longer quite sure what he's supposed to do.
"It's okay, just put your clothes in here and we'll clean them up for you." Alice points to the hamper then gives him a firm pat on the shoulder. "We're having a service later, if you're interested in coming."
"Of course." Alice beams at his answer before she turns to leave. Castiel waits till he can no longer hear her squeaky footsteps before he begins to undress again. He drops his coat and suit into the hamper, he struggles with the tie before he manages to yank it over his head and tosses it with the rest. It takes some fiddling to work the nobs on the shower, first it was scolding hot and then icy cold, but he's eager to get all the dust and mud off his skin. The water becomes a mucky brown as he scrubs his skin clean, leaving a mass of bubbles across his body.
When Castiel has washed off all the filth, he leans back against the porcelain tiles and lets everything settle in. A few hours ago he had woken up in a ditch, dazed and confused, and now he is in the middle of nowhere with little else beside a name and a heavy feeling.
"Um," a soft voice rings out across the empty room. Castiel pulls the curtain back and the intruder quickly spins around to avoid Castiel's naked form. "Oh uh, I was just dropping off these towels."
A young man stands by the door with towels in hand, dressed in black robes and most likely walked out of the seminary and straight into The Good Shepard. Castiel senses the man's uneasiness and pulls the curtain back into place, he sees the shadow of the man through the curtain as he approaches. A hand reaches into the shower and hangs a towel on a hook before quickly withdrawing. Castiel takes it and wraps it around his waist before exiting the shower and nodding toward the young priest. "Thank you."
"Your other clothes are being cleaned, I took some clothes from the donation bin for you to wear." He carefully lays out a pair of jeans then places a worn t-shirt and faded sweater on top. "You can keep them if you'd like."
"I have clothes."
"You'll certainly need more than one set of clothes," he laughs but Castiel's lips turn up in an almost sneer. This man's offered him clothing, a place to stay, and a kind attitude but Castiel doesn't like him. Something inside him calls him a fool and he wants to get as far away from him as possible.
"These will do for now."
"I'll just leave you to get dressed then." His face lights up with a kind smile before he turns and leaves. Castiel drops his towel to the ground and picks up the jeans, rubbing the worn fabric before he slips them on. When he reaches for the shirt he catches his reflection in the mirror and freezes with the steamy image looking back at him. The glass began to drip as the fog collected and cooled on it, it distorted the image of a confused man painted across it. The picture moved with Castiel and yet seemed so foreign and it didn't really feel like his body, more like the body of a stranger.
Castiel blinks and it breaks the spell that kept his eyes glued to his reflection. He finishes dressing and the finds the priest waiting for him outside the door. He leads him to the dining hall where Alice is laying out cutlery. "Well you look much better!"
"My clothes are being washed," Castiel explains, wanting to make sure everyone knew that he wanted his clothes back.
"Plenty of time to eat while you wait," She smiles. Castiel helps set the tables and people start to file in, mostly clergymen and people in the choir, they all raise a brow at the stranger and none of them come to talk to Castiel. Alice tries to chat with him while they eat but Castiel doesn't have much to say. He picks at the food in front of him, not hungry but wanting to please the woman next to him he tries to nibble on some of it.
"Where are you from?" Alice asks as people begin to finish their food and leave.
"I am not from anywhere."
"We all come from somewhere," She laughs. "Do you have anywhere you need to be?"
Castiel nods thoughtfully. "Yes, though I am not sure where."
Alice puts her hand on top of Castiel's and Castiel does his best not to pull away from the concerned touch. "I can bring you into the city after the service. You can come to it if you'd like."
"I have nothing else to do, I suppose."
"Great!" She rises to her feet and picks up their dishes, Castiel sits and waits for her to put their plates away before he follows her out of the room. She leads him back into the gym and the priest from before is waiting there with a handful of a clean blue suit and a wrinkly trench coat. Castiel takes his clothes and changes in the bathroom, leaving his borrowed vestments where ever they happen to fall.
When they walk into the sanctuary it's already nearly full, the young priest goes up to the pulpit with an older looking man in a white robe. Alice leads him to the front row and pats the soft cushion on the bench, Castiel sits down and takes out a hymn book because there is nothing else to today. The sit in content silence while they wait and then in a sudden boom the choir starts, a wave of sweet sound fills the room.
Castiel follows Alice; when she stands, he stands, when she nods thoughtfully during the sermon, he mimics her, when she sings, he hums along to words he doesn't know. The organ ends on a low, rumbling note and everyone bows their head in prayer, the priest speaks softly to them and they answer as a thunderous group. They begin to file out of the pews and Castiel thinks it's over but they form a line in the centre of the church.
"Are you catholic?" Alice asks as they step in line.
"Don't know, yes, I'm beginning to see a pattern." Her voice drops down to a hushed whisper. "Well if you ain't catholic, you're supposed to skip this. So you should decide what you are before you reach the front."
Castiel nods and Alice turns back around. The line shuffles, the man at the front kneels and the priest gives him a drink from the chalice in his hand. It seems like quite the wait just for a little sip of wine, Castiel doesn't understand what is so special about something he saw being sold in a corner store. Nonetheless when he reaches the front of the line he kneels down just as everyone else had.
Castiel stares blankly at the cup in the man's hand, before he kneels down on the step as he has seen the others do. The old man smiles and speaks soft words to him before he raises the cup up to Castiel's lips, the thick, cool liquid pours down his throat. There was a split second were it offered a soothing comfort before it turned to a burning pain. Castiel's hands dart out and slap the cup away, it clunks to the ground and the wine splatters on the priests white robes. The burning grows worse and worse till Castiel is clawing at his throat.
The other people in the church try to help him, try to lift him to his feet and someone brings him water. He downs it in one gulp but it does nothing to ease the pain and when the others see the smoke pour out from between his lips they all step back.
"What…" one woman trails off. The windows begin to shake and Castiel feels something warm move inside him, as if suddenly all he can see is blue. Lights flicker, candles blow out and people start to scream around him.
You should stop before you hurt someone. A voice rings through his mind. It doesn't take away from the panic racing through him, it is barely a whisper among the screeching crowd trying to rush out. The voice gently shushes him and Castiel tries to respond to it but all that comes out is a choked sob. Sharp pieces rain over him, he opens his eyes to see the stained glass windows shatter one by one and the tiny shards spray out and cover the church.
He is alone now, save for the voice that whispers too him, the pain slowly reseeds and he slumps to the ground. The pain of the hundreds slivers of glass slicing into his skin is nothing compared to the burning he had experiences seconds before. He can feel a wave of exhaustion roll over him but he fights off the pull of sleep, not wanting to return to the strange place he was before. It's a battle he looses
There's dust everywhere. It burns Castiel's eyes and blinds him, wind rushes past his ears till it's all he can hear. He curls in on himself in an attempt to protect his eyes from the sand storm that whips over him. A loud voice booms through the desert.
Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.
The storm slowly dies down and he hesitantly peaks over his arms, not unsurprisingly there isn't much but an ocean of sand around him. He pushes himself up onto his knees and tries to blink the tiny grains of sand away, but when he rubs his hand over his face he leaves a slick trail behind. He looks down at his hands and finds them covered in red, a colour that spreads up his arms and paints his chest. He sucks in a panicked breath and stumbles back, his hands lands on something soft and he turns over to stare at the body, his entire face covered in blood. Beneath the crimson paint is blond hair and blue eye, a pain pulses out in Castiel's mind as it tries to remember where he's seen that face before. The longer he thinks the more intense the pain becomes, as if a thousand tiny needles are pushed into his brain. He almost has it, he almost know, but the throbbing gets to be too much and his weak body crashes down against the corpse.
A sirens screams out and jerks Castiel awake, the sun is still shinning so he could not have been asleep long.
I find it a little unsettling that you dream of killing me.
"Who," Castiel breaks into a coughing fit and staggers onto his knees. "Who are you?"
You've forgotten me so soon, little brother?
"Brother?" Castiel coughs and uses one of the pews to help pull himself to his feet. "I don't have a brother, I don't have anything."
You've caused quite a commotion. The voice ignores Castiel and chuckles at the destruction around them. Castiel looks around the church; shattered glass shines brightly across the floor, many of the pews have been utterly destroyed and their remnants are splintered alongside the blown out stained glass windows.
"What is all this?" Castiel voice is hoarse and he's hit with the memory of screaming and clawing at his throat.
This is why I generally avoid such places. Castiel's fingers curl against his scalp, harshly tugging at his hair as if he might be able to pull that voice out. It speaks so casually while Castiel struggles to comprehend how he could have caused such destruction. It seems you have an audience.
Castiel stumbles to the door, leaving behind the once magnificent chapel that now barely stands. He can hear noises on the other side and even though the doors look large and heavy me manages to open it with one quick pull. Squinting against the bright light he takes an unsteady step outside the church. A crowd has gathered in front of the building which is fenced off behind a barricade of police cars and yellow tape. Alice and the priest are talking to two officers who try to take notes as quickly as the panicked statement is blurted out.
"Look!" Someone in the crowd shouts, a lone finger pointing out among the huddled mass. A hush follows as everyone's head snaps towards Castiel. Everything seems to freeze for a moment before one of the police officers slowly raises his gun and then the other quickly follow. The people he recognizes from the church service all shrink back and Alice has disappeared into the crowd.
"Sir, put your hands on your head and slowly walk towards the police car," A gruff voice sounds to his left.
My, my, they do not seem pleased to see you.
"What did I do?"
"Sir, this is the last time I ask you." Castiel's eyes dart between all the officers that are aiming their guns at him. "We have been authorized to bring you in through whatever means necessary.
Please, he must think you an idiot.
"Just be quiet," Castiel demands of the voice.
"No, you need to listen," the officer raises his voice, thinking Castiel had been talking to him.
Close your eyes, little one.
"One," the officer begins.
Close your eyes and picture another place. Anywhere but here.
"How will that help?"
Just do it, trust me. Castiel does not trust this voice that suddenly appeared but he also no he has no other choice at this point. He closes his eyes and the image of green grass and pink flowers suddenly comes to mind. It's fuzzy and ill-defined but he recognizes it and knows it's a safe place.
Perfect. Now, just imagine yourself there.
Castiel's mouth twitches slightly at the absurd request but obliges regardless.
A thunderous bang sounds and Castiel quickly ducks down to avoid the impact but his hands land on soft, wet grass. Opening his eyes he finds the church and crowd replaced with laughing children and worn benches.
"You okay, mister?" A soft voice asks behind him. Castiel flips over and stares at the tiny little girl standing behind him, looking at him with both curiosity and apprehension.
"Cynthia!" Shouts another child from the group collected by the pond. "Don't talk to strangers!"
Cynthia steps towards Castiel, hands tugging nervously at her purple Dora shirt. Her foot nudges at Castiel's leg trying to push an answer out of him. "Should I go get a grown up?"
"I'm fine," Castiel manages to gruff out, mind still numb from the shock of his sudden change in scenery.
The young girl's nose crinkles in doubt. "You sure? My baby sitter knows CPR."
They're so cute at that age. The voice laughs softly.
"Don't speak to me."
"I was only gonna help you," Cynthia frowns. She huffs out a breath before she spins on her heels and hurries back to her group, her long curls bouncing with eat step.
"Not you," Castiel says but the child is already out of hearing range.
I help you escape those awful people and you tell be to quiet. Clearly heaven never taught you any manners.
"How…How did this happen?" Castiel rises to his feet and spins around, awed at the peaceful park he found himself in when he was close to death moments ago. "What's wrong with me?"
Why would you think anything is wrong with you?
"I must have been-" a strange look from a passerby makes Castiel lower his voice, "hallucinating."
Hm, your head must be more rattled than I thought.
"And I hear voices," Castiel mumbled to himself.
I was referring more to your apparent amnesia.
"I do not have amnesia."
You don't remember who I am and you certainly don't know who you are.
"I know who I am," Castiel scoffed. "I am Castiel."
Well, that's a start at least.