Castiel picked himself off the ground after a he spent a few minutes readjusting to his surroundings. He stumbled around, feeling sore from his crash landing, hoping to find somewhere warm and soft to rest for a while.
Being human was disorienting. His stomach hurt in a way he wasn’t used to. His arms ached, and there was something wrong with his right knee. His head felt strange also, almost fuzzy. It made his eyelids want to close. He forced himself to carry on, hopping slightly to compensate for the pain in his knee, and looked for something that would satisfy his needs.
He became aware of a lump in his pocket after half a block. He reached in, and found a folded leather wallet, not unlike Dean’s own one. He stood under a street lamp to flick through it. There was a few bills nestled into the pocket, and a couple of cards stashed into the slots. He withdrew one, and held it up to the light. Jimmy Novak’s credit card. Could he use it to get a hotel room? Why hadn’t he noticed it before?
He slid the card back in, and nestled the wallet back in his pocket, searching his pockets again, hoping that he would find the cellphone that Sam had given him once. He knew it was best not to call Dean, though that was all he wanted. He flicked through his meagre contacts. Sam, Dean, Bobby - he hadn’t removed the contact despite Bobby’s death - and Meg. He wasn’t calling Meg, not when she had complicated everything. Maybe he could call Sam, but he knew how the conversation would go. Sam would stick up for Dean, he would take his brother’s side, and it wouldn’t matter what Castiel had to say, a Winchester’s priority was his brother.
He turned the phone off, sliding it into his pocket containing his wallet, and pushing forward, fighting his heavy eyelids and a knee that was almost stinging in pain. And there, finally, was the lurid pink-and-yellow glow of a motel. Castiel staggered as quickly as he could inside, leaning up against the counter.
‘Room for one, please.’ He gasped. The man behind the counter barely looked up from his handheld computer game.
‘Forty-nine, ninety-five. Pay up front.’
‘I have a card?’ Castiel said it so tentatively he couldn’t help phrasing it as a question. The guy took one hand off the console and held it out for Castiel’s - Jimmy’s - card, his other hand still managing the controls. Castiel pulled the card out and laid it flat on his palm, watching as he ran it through a machine and handed it back, slightly to the left of Castiel.
‘Thank you. Um, you couldn’t tell me where I am, could you?’
The guy finally looked up.
‘You’re kidding, right?’
‘No. I had a fight with my boyfriend and ended up here. I just didn’t see where here is.’
The guy had blanched at the word “boyfriend”.
‘You’re in Georgetown, Texas. Do yourself a favour, dude, and keep the boyfriend thing on the down-low.’
Castiel wasn’t sure what this man was trying to communicate, except that it was something to do with having a boyfriend.
‘Oh … okay. Thank you.’ Castiel nodded, as the guy threw a key his way.
‘Room one-ten. Do me a favour, keep your boyfriend out.’
‘I don’t think he is my boyfriend anymore,’ Castiel admitted. The guy rolled his eyes, and Castiel took that as his dismissal. He walked with the key to the door marked one-hundred-and-ten, and entered.
It was decorated in a similar fashion to the rooms that Dean and Sam rented, though there was only one bed and no partition wall that he’d been used to. There was a small en-suite bathroom, which was a relief. But all Castiel cared about at that moment was crawling into the bed. He stripped off until he was completely naked, and climbed into what he supposed was his side of the bed. At least, it was the side he always ended up laying on while Dean slept, because Dean had preferred the other side. He curled up under the covers, trying to picture Dean there, to pretend there was still his warm body underneath, instead of the cool sheets. Sleep washed over him before he could truly picture Dean there, or feel regret that he wasn’t.
When Castiel woke up, the sun had already risen, and it took him several minutes to adjust to the notion that he’d been asleep for most of the night. And then the memories of the day before came back to him, and he groaned as he buried his face into the pillow. But the memories seemed different to the day before, as though Castiel’s optimism about their relationship ever being repaired were fading with his new reality.
Because the reality was that there had been problems. Problems like Vibeke and Meg, making things more difficult by constantly talking about their opinions on the relationship. Problems like Dean refused to say he loved Castiel.
Or the way everything had to be physical with Dean. Yes, Castiel had enjoyed the sex - although now he was human, there was a strange ache in his backside - but sometimes he would have preferred to just cuddle and talk. Maybe that was where things had gone wrong, he didn’t assert what he wanted enough. He was so glad to get the chance to be with Dean that he just went along with whatever made the hunter happy. He wasn’t blaming Dean for this, he knew it was his own fault, but that was how it was. The relationship was all about what Dean wanted.
If he had the chance right then to talk to Dean, he would apologise, over and over. He would explain about why he started wiping Dean’s memories, and what made him stop, and Dean might yell, but they’d get to a good place eventually, wouldn’t they?
He forced himself out of bed and into the tiny bathroom, where he realised he had to work out how to use a toilet. He knew he needed it, his lower abdomen was hurting and his penis was tingling, and he knew that if he could just work it out he’d be relieved of the strange tension. His body reacted before he had fully understood the mechanics of it all, and he found himself grabbing the appendage as it spurted, trying to get the stream into the pan. He was not enjoying all the aspects of being human.
He climbed in the shower as soon as he finished, turning the water on and waiting under the tepid stream for it to warm up. After a few minutes he realised that tepid was the best he was going to get, and tried to wash himself down as best as he could with the supplied shower gel and shampoo. It wasn’t the same as sharing a shower with Dean, where he could caress every beloved inch of the hunter. Instead it was hurried and practical, not erotic in any way.
He walked back into the dingy main room, drying himself off with the towels provided, before putting his clothes back on. He was slow, and his fingers fumbled frequently, unused to performing such tasks as pulling a zipper closed and slotting buttons into button holes. He missed his powers if only for the moment he could imagine his clothes on him, fresh and clean, and there they were. But if the choice was getting his powers back, or getting Dean back … there was no contest.
Castiel was surprised at how easy it had been to check out of the motel. The guy from the night before had been replaced by a woman who was overly happy, and she had waved Castiel off after he handed over his room key, as though there were nothing more to it. But there was so much more to it. How was Castiel going to get back to Becky’s house, to talk to Dean? He could barely remember where her house was, he’d merely tuned himself in to Dean. And now he had no idea how to do that, or how to travel there, even if he knew where there was. He felt … small. Too small for his vessel, and overwhelmed by the sheer capacity of the United States, let alone the world, let alone the size of the planes of Heaven. Was this what it was like to be human?
He wandered out of the motel, putting his hands in the pockets of his trench coat as he walked down the road, still puzzling over how to get to Dean. He had to win the hunter back over in person, he at least knew that much. It wasn’t going to be easy, but he supposed that being human rarely was. And maybe the fact that Castiel was now human would work in his favour. It might mean that Dean could trust him, and then they could hammer out the problems in their relationship and get everything back on track. Castiel could almost picture it happening. He just needed to get over the biggest hurdle, which was finding Dean in the first place.
He saw a building in the distance that made his heart leap into his throat. It had a sign on the front saying ‘bus station’ - he knew he could take a bus to the nearest town to Becky’s house, and then it would just be a matter of walking up to her front door and begging Dean for a second chance, but this time on a more even footing. He practically ran inside, and pulled to a stop in front of a giant map of the States. Now all he had to do was locate where he was, and where he needed to be. Maybe this human thing wasn’t so difficult, after all?