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Title: Absolute
Author/Artist: [livejournal.com profile] a_taller_tale
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] pyjamagurl
Characters/Pairings: Dean/Castiel, Sam, Amelia
Rating: PG
Word Count: ~4785
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for all S5, light speculation for S6
Notes/Prompt: Inspired by prompt: Cas is back in heaven and starts to realize what he is missing back on earth, but still feeling he has a sense of duty. He eventually returns to Dean years later, never ready to let him go.
Summary: Post S5. Castiel has time management issues, has some introspection, and sees Dean for the first time in 1000 years.



AN: Sorry this is super late! And sorry for the wait Pyjamagurl! I started with prompt #3 as a base, but then I got a different idea and ran with it. I hope you still like it. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] teurastaa for a last minute beta.

Absolute

The vast landscape around him was beautiful. Castiel was in his rightful place.

His rank had been of an ordinary soldier, he had four feathered wings that glistened like stars and a brilliant voice to sing the praises of God or roar a battle cry to the Fallen, but he had been touched directly by the hand of God and now his face shone like lightning from the sky. It was hard for even other angels to look at him directly.

Castiel’s robes shone the purest white. God resurrected him and the archangels were all either dead or missing. The hierarchy toppled and Castiel, a mere soldier, was given the right by God to rule over Heaven. He was the leader of the Angels.

It was his reward.

The angel had spent months delegating and reorganizing those of his brothers and sisters who were left. It had worked. Heaven was a well oiled machine again with little dissent. Everyone was happy with his rulings because they craved a ruler. He was no longer on Team Free Will, he was on Team Angel. If Castiel was truly capable of the emotion anymore he would be happy. As it was, he was content.

He dared not sit on a throne but he sat below the throne God had occupied before Castiel was created. No being in creation could look directly at the seat of God; it was a fitting place for him to take a rest after restructuring the host and becoming the leader of all angels. Two Seraphim, the Fiery ones that sing of the Glory, sat at his feet. Wings cover their feet, two shield their faces, and two adorn their backs to fly. The wings on their faces did nothing to muffle the music spilling from their mouths in praise.

His peace was interrupted as a mere soldier like the one he used to be approached the dais and Castiel was filled with something like human amusement. They all came to him for their orders now, after they had been trying to eliminate him for so long. His voice rumbled. “Speak.”

The new angel nodded in acknowledgement and began to speak. “Castiel, it has been 1000 years on Earth. It is customary to send two legion to the earthly plane to check on humanity’s progress.”

Castiel stared at him. He felt a distant jolt run through his grace at the number. At the time.

He had been in a human shell in human time on Earth for so long that he had forgotten how angels are beyond time except in times of chaos on Earth. How 100, 1000 years could pass in what might have been a few days to humans. Like water trickling through your hands.

It had felt like it might have been a few months, to one year’s time in Heaven, not even as long as he’d been on Earth in a human vessel. But on Earth it had been a millennia after the Apocalypse. All the humans he had known in his time there had gone back to the dust they were created from a long time ago. The Novak Family, Robert Singer, Sam, Dean…

Castiel shook his wings. No reaction showing on his beautiful terrible face. He felt nothing. He was only surprised.

He looked down at his moonbeam robes which denoted his high rank. He was still in the middle of sorting things. His wings stretched to the sky as he dismissed the nameless angel. “Go ahead. Only report back to me if they’ve managed to bring on another Apocalypse or destroy the world since we were last there.”

One of the angel’s wings twitched, the equivalent of a raised eyebrow. He tutted in an audible voice, ripe with disapproval. “Tch.”

Castiel looked up, finding that human voice familiar. This was-

“I’m very disappointed, Castiel. I think you need a lesson on true rewards and punishments.” The angel snapped his fingers and Castiel was gone.

-
He couldn’t see anything.
He couldn’t see.
He couldn’t.

He woke up.

Castiel was surrounded by walls of white. The smell of cleaning supplies and illness filled his nostrils. His whole body ached.

He had a body. A corporeal body on earth.

The angel knew three things instantly. He was in the body of Jimmy Novak, he was in a hospital, and he had a soul. Castiel’s Grace was gone, an absent black hole in his chest, like a gaping wound. He was completely human, as he had been at the end of what should have been the Apocalypse.

Castiel stared out with his blue human eyes and tried to feel out for Jimmy’s soul. He reached down inside himself and tried the familiar motion of moving his Grace out to touch the human. But there was nothing.

He was alone. This body should have atrophied. Though he was human his grace-turned-soul still ached with impressions. The soul of Jimmy Novak had left and the body had been living without it for several months. Whatever had done this to Castiel had transferred him back into his old vessel and made it healthy and whole. He could not tell much else. Already the celestial power was fading and being replaced with his human feelings and impressions.

This was all wrong. He thought Jimmy Novak had been restored to his family when Castiel ascended. God had touched this body and Castiel twice. Surely James Novak had been saved. He closed his eyes, regret streaking through him, as he remembered the aftermath.

Lucifer and Michael had been caged together (which was fitting, as they had been dangerously codependent since Creation), and by the Blessing of the Lord he had been given the power to resurrect Bobby. He had left Dean on his way to what was sure to be the ideal life for a human; a large house with a loving female and a son already waiting for him. It was what every human craved; it had certainly been what Sam wanted. By the end, it was what Dean Winchester wanted as well.

The one loose end had been Sam Winchester, whose body had been taken by Lucifer. Sam and his estranged brother Adam were trapped with the angels and there was no doubt that their fragile human souls would have suffered through eternity if left in Hell with them. His first act in Heaven had been to release Adam’s soul, since all the boy had wanted was to see his mother, who had already passed on. Sam was more… complicated, since Dean would have preferred him alive and Sam’s corporeal body was trapped in the cage as well.

Using every new resource Castiel had at his disposal and a few favors owed to him by some of the Lord’s more… unique creations, he had put in motion a long and complicated process to arrange for Sam to be released from Lucifer’s prison.

As his friend, Castiel was content to know that Sam Winchester should have been able to complete Dean’s new family and help ensure that they both lived a long and happy life. Unfortunately he hadn’t had the time to make sure they were successfully reunited. He should have visited but there was so much happening, and he was afraid of someone like Zachariah taking over if he stepped out of the fray for even a moment.

Of course, that could have been an excuse. The truth was that the respect and power that he got from his brothers and sisters was addictive. Maybe he didn’t want to go to Earth again because it would have reminded him of a time when he had been an outcast. Castiel closed his eyes against the sudden weight of human emotions. Guilt. Shame.

He had been gone so long, and he hadn’t thought of Dean at all. Maybe once or twice in the beginning, but in Heaven he had always been a soldier. He always followed orders. Although he grew close to some of his brethren it was quite different from human relationships. Kinship could last a long time without seeing one another. Still, it was a fresh agony when each of them died, like a part of his own Grace had been burned with their deaths.

After he had been resurrected the second time, things had been different. On Earth, in his vessel he had only felt the change in his powers, and the confidence that everything he was doing was good and to help Dean Winchester. Once he got back to the Host and started to count the dead and the Fallen, trying desperately to organize the chaos, he had been swept up in the work. He had enjoyed it, and respect for him had grown when he did not abuse the power he was given.

No, he was remembering it wrong. He didn’t abuse it immediately. Castiel could still feel that last scene playing in his head. He had been entertaining Pride. Hubris. Avarice.

Whoever had done this to him had the right. Castiel had lost everything that was important and become something close to what the Morningstar had been before he Fell. Castiel shuddered with sudden chills.

A screeching sound filled the air to his right. His head twisted in startlement as he noticed the monitors he was attached to. They had started sounding an alarm.
His first instinct was to teleport away, as he usually did when humans tried to ask too many questions about him, or he was trapped in a situation he didn’t have the social skills or information for, but of course that was no longer an option with his wings clipped again.

A young woman’s voice floated down the hall as the door opened. “It’s no big deal Celia, it was probably someone messing with the wires earlier.” A nurse came into the room, obviously not in a hurry. From her clothing style he could guess that he was in the same decade the Apocalypse had happened. He was in the past, although if you wanted to be technical, since Heaven and Earth were on different planes time was irrelevant. Castiel could almost imagine the eye roll on Dean Winchester’s face and he was suddenly seized with an intense longing to see his friend.

The nurse thankfully interrupted his train of thought. “You’re awake?”

Castiel blinked at her. “Yes.” His voice was hoarse, but it sounded as he remembered.

She blinked back. “I’m uh… gonna get a supervisor.”

Castiel tilted his head.

“I’ll be right back.” The young woman rushed off to get the attending physician leaving Castiel to speculate that they must have also known that Jimmy Novak’s soul had moved on based on her reaction to his awakening.

He briefly wondered why humans would keep a body alive that had no soul, something that was just inviting a demon possession, but it had been beneficial for him. The angel who sent him to this vessel could have entrapped him in a rotting corpse, and he gave a brief prayer of gratitude that he was encased only in flesh and not in a coffin.

He closed his eyes for a moment.

-

The next time he woke it was dark, and there were new machines hooked up to his arm and needles in his veins. Although he was functionally human for a short time, he still wasn’t use to the loss of consciousness that accompanied deep sleep. It was… disorienting.

He needed to call Dean. He needed to see him. “Dean.”

There was a sharp intake of breath to his left. Castiel turned his head to the sound.

There was a woman sitting in the dark at his bedside. Her eyes were red and swollen, but she had a familiar countenance that oddly made his body relax. It was Amelia Novak. Another human left wounded when she should have been rewarded for her sacrifices.

“You’re Castiel.” It wasn’t a question and he was surprised she knew who he was. He vaguely recalled that Jimmy had begun talking about Castiel to his family before the man gave himself into the Service of the Lord. He nodded.

“I could tell right away.” She sniffed up, rolling her shoulders back. Steeling herself for something that could be difficult. “Jimmy was a good man. He’s made it, right? Into Heaven?”

Castiel stared out in Jimmy Novak’s eyes and knew. “Yes. He is in the Fields of the Lord. He will wait for you and Claire. Heaven is no longer independent realms, you will see him at the end of your life.”

She looked slightly confused at his wording but nodded gratefully and wiped an eye with her sleeve. “It got really bad. I’m proud that Jimmy sacrificed himself to save us and I appreciate what you’ve done…” She looked like it had taken her a long time to get to that point and he admired her faith, which shone like a beacon even if he couldn’t see it.

Amelia took a deep breath, bringing his focus back to her face. “Dean asked me before… he said if you ever came back you might need permission to use Jimmy’s body again. I’m here to tell you, you’re free to use it. He’s been gone a long time.” Her fingers clenched. “I don’t think he’d mind after you protected us during… that time. The doctor examined you while you were sleeping. He was surprised you were so healthy after three months in a vegetative state. They want to do a lot of exams in the morning but you could probably get out of here before that to avoid the questions. I called Dean.”

It had been three months. “That was very generous, Amelia. Your family will be protected through the rest of your line.” He could sense her agitation about something else and it took him a moment to pinpoint what it was. “I promised Jimmy that your daughter would not be used as a Vessel. She is… off-limits.”

Amelia sagged in her chair. “Thank you. She’s doing well. It’s been hard, but she’s doing a lot better.” She smiled at the former angel wearing her husband’s face tremulously and stood up. “I know you’re here again for a reason, I hope you find whatever you’re looking for this time.” She walked to him slowly and touched his face, looking into his eyes, but Castiel knew she wasn’t looking for him. “Goodbye.”

She left. Castiel stared after her, knowing there was nothing he could do or say that would comfort her.

He wondered when Dean would come.

-

The former angel kept his face a blank mask as he pretended to read a People magazine in his hospital bed at 3 in the morning. It had been a long night.

Castiel spent a long time trying to get used to the weight and functions of this body again. He also spent a long time just thinking.

Who was he to have been given that kind of power? He was only one of multitudes, and he had not been created to serve above his rank. It was only a matter of time before seemingly defeating destiny got to his head. The relationships he had built while on Earth had been reduced to nothing. He had been corrupted. He deserved this, but worse. He didn’t even deserve to see Dean again, that would be a reward.

To get his mind off of dark thoughts he had tried to wander around the hospital and get a basic layout of the area in case he needed to make a quick escape, but he had been ushered back into his room quickly. All the people in the building already knew that he was the miracle coma patient. Amelia had left a list on his bed of the current president and Jimmy’s information in case he had to stay for a psych exam, but he had been planning to leave the hospital before that. The only thing stopping him was that without Dean he had nowhere to go.

“’Would you rather have Peace or Freedom?’ That was your goodbye for three months?”

Castiel’s head snapped up, his breath instinctively drawing inward as he caught sight of the man he had raised out of hell two years ago, or one thousand. Castiel could still see that soul in his hands, resilient and brilliant despite the ravages of Hell.

He had seen this man in triumph and devastation, the triumphs mostly small and the devastation catastrophic enough to make any lesser being go to their knees and scream. This human man who considered him a friend.

“Dean.” He said. Castiel wasn’t sure if the relief showed itself on Jimmy Novak’s face but that is what his Grace--- no, it was his soul now—was flooded with.

Dean looked good. He wore his father’s leather jacket and his tight jeans hugged his body. He looked younger than he had when Castiel had last seen him. Some of the stress lines around his eyes were lighter, and the dark circles from no rest and two much alcohol were gone. Lisa had been taking good care of Dean Winchester. He looked even younger than his age of 31 years without the weight of the entire world on his shoulders.

“Well, say something. You haven’t zapped in to scare the crap out of me while I’m brushing my teeth, so I’m assuming you can’t. Especially if you haven’t even left the hospital.”

Castiel swallowed as he stared at Dean, longing mixing with guilt. He hadn’t cared enough to seek the hunter out when he had the freedom to do so, not in the human’s entire lifespan times 12, and yet Dean had dropped everything in his life and immediately come to his aid from wherever he had been in this vast country. “I am powerless. Human, and I don’t know if I will ever be restored again.” This fact didn’t devastate him as much as he thought it would.

Castiel told Dean what had happened, omitting the aspect of time from the scenario, or the lack of feeling for anything that had occurred when he went back to the Host. That was the type of thing that would hurt Dean unforgivably.

“So you think you screwed it up and they kicked you out of the angel club?”

“I didn’t ‘screw it up’.” Castiel frowned at Dean. “I was the sheriff as you said. Everything started running smoothly. Human souls were reunited. The angels were working together to ensure the harmony of all God’s creations.”

“What went wrong?” Castiel looked away.

Dean narrowed his eyes, accurately guessing that Castiel was leaving something out, but he nodded in acceptance anyway, putting his hand on the ex-angel’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.” Dean’s hand was warm. Castiel stared at him.

“I don’t know why I’m being punished now.” Because of the sin of pride, his mind supplied.

“That’s where you’d be wrong, bucko.”

Castiel blinked in surprise. He’d been surprised a lot lately.

One of his multitude of brothers stood in front of him within the blink of his eyes. One of his dead brothers.

Gabriel.

The archangel was wearing the human form he usually favored, looking just as he had when he tied Castiel up and put duct tape over his mouth on the set of “Gilmore Girls”.

“Gabriel. You’re the one.” Castiel had privately thought all of the archangels were dead, and Gabriel especially, since he had been stabbed by his own sword by none other than the devil himself. But he had forgotten how …creative this particular brother of his was.

Dean stepped between them protectively, an extremely annoyed look on his handsome face. “Well, Chuckles? Explain. What the hell was he doing to deserve this? He helped save the humans you love to torment so much. Then he fixed what was wrong upstairs. What do you people want from him?!”

The Trickster Angel smoothly stepped out of Dean’s ‘in your face’ range. “I’ve given him the gift that he sought me out and begged me for.” His eyes bored into Castiel’s, who was unable to reconcile this version of events with what he remembered. “I just wanted to punish you for awhile for asking for it so late. I was almost unable to do anything.”

“I would have remembered.” Castiel said certainly. “When I met you in that television world of your making I memorized the feeling of your power. I would have known if that soldier was you.”

As if it was obvious, Gabriel rolled his eyes. “I changed your memories, Dufus, so that you could appreciate this chance. Call it your vacation, call it your reward.” Before either of them could move, Gabriel took three steps forward and touched Castiel’s temple with his finger. He could see Dean jerking forward to stop him, but Castiel was already somewhere else. He saw and remembered.

-

The vast landscape around him was beautiful but Castiel saw none of it. He was in his rightful place as a servant of Heaven.

It had taken months to reorganize the devastation and chaos in the wake of the war. Those of his brothers and sisters who were left were confused as to what direction to take. They needed a leader. Unfortunately, God was still on Earth and the archangels were missing or dead. His siblings looked to him, who had been touched by God twice and forgiven, to lead them.

Castiel sat under a large old tree in the Garden, making mental notes to the new tasks that would have to be performed, which garrisons had to be sent out on patrol, what rotation the choirs needed.

His peace was interrupted as a soldier approached. “What is it?” he asked absently, brushing his wings against the visitors.

The new angel nodded in acknowledgement. “Castiel, it has been 1000 years on Earth. It is customary to send two legions to the earthly plane to check on humanity’s progress.”

Castiel stared at him. He felt a jolt run through his grace at the number. It was a mistake. It could not have been so long. He had forgotten that time was like water trickling through your hands. Time travel was possible for him as an angel on the earthly plane, but time in heaven was absolute to an angel of his power. It was impossible for him to go back. All the humans he had known in his time there had gone back to the dust they were created from long ago. The Novak Family, Robert Singer, Sam, Dean…

Dean.

Castiel shook his wings and stood without any more thought. He was instantly on Earth. On a distant beach on the last continent that hadn’t fallen into the sea, he found the last creature in creation other than God that could help him.

-

Castiel came back to the present with something warm and wet on his face. Were those..?

He was just in time to see Dean tackle Gabriel off of Castiel. “What did you just do to him you bastard? You haven’t done enough?”

“Dean, let him go. I remember. I don’t want to waste any time.” Castiel turned to his older brother. “I wasn’t being punished for the corruption of my duties? Those feelings felt so natural.”

Gabriel pretended to brush himself off when he was reluctantly let up by a still fuming Dean. “You’re lucky, little bro. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but you never stopped thinking about those humans. It’s a little cliché but your connection to them kept you from going down the road I showed you. What I showed you was a warped mirror image of the way it could have been. You have to be delicate with power, you were doing great things up there, but it’s time for your reward.” He smiled with that impish face. “I’ve been relaxing long enough, I’ll take the next shift. You can check up on me after your human lifespan has ended.”

Castiel paused in thought, then nodded gratefully. Dean looked between them, confused as to what he was missing and irritated about being confused. Castiel would have to explain what he missed later. But first, he couldn’t waste another second of this short human life he had been gifted with. He stood from the hospital bed, nearly stumbling and walked up to Dean.

The hunter gave him a strange look. Castiel murmured, “Let me, once,” and pressed his lips to Dean’s. The man’s body stiffened against him in surprise at first, but then Castiel felt hands tighten in his hospital scrubs. His advance was far from rejected.

“That’s my cue to leave. No thanks necessary. I only gave you your happy ending.” Castiel could feel Gabriel smirk at them, but he didn’t much care. His human body was telling him to go further and he was inclined to agree. He had been chained to a desk in Heaven for a thousand years. He deserved this. The archangel left the room the human way before he left the realm, and Dean and Castiel were too close to give him even a parting glance.

They only had a few moments before there was another not wholly unwelcome interruption.

“Whoa, guys. I see you’re busy, I’ll wait in the car.” Castiel broke away, although Dean tried to keep him, to see Sam Winchester with a plastic bag of clothes for Castiel to change into and a chagrined expression on his face.

The younger Winchester looked just as Castiel remembered, if a little less sad. He was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. He carried a coffee and a plastic bag of clothes for Castiel to change into. There was a weight off of this man’s shoulders too. He looked happy. “It worked. You’re alive.”

“It did. I’m myself… more or less.” Sam smiled back, his hair in his eyes. “You guys ready to hit the road or do you need some more private time?”

Castiel looked at Dean, a horrifying thought curling through his chest suddenly. It had still been three months here. Was he too late? “The road? When I checked on you last you were with Lisa. You were going to make a life together.”

Dean scrubbed his face with one hand. “Lisa wasn’t really what I wanted. It didn’t last too long.” Castiel looked doubtful, so Dean grabbed him by the shoulders. “Cas, I dunno about you, but I have a life. I’ve always had one. And with you here now…”

Castiel was nearly overwhelmed by the feelings that grew inside him again but nodded. He was welcome with them again. Back on Team Free Will. That was what mattered. Castiel moved in to kiss him again.

Sam winced. “I’m cool with this and everything, since it was really obvious something was going on with you guys, but can you not do the PDA thing while I’m around? I’ll have to scoop my eyes out with a spork.”

Castiel scanned through what he remembered of his last time on Earth but could not find the meaning of the abbreviation. “What is PDA?”

Dean made a face at his brother and stuck Castiel’s hand in his back pocket. “This.”

“And sporks?”

“Sporks are awesome. Combo of a fork and a spoon. We’ll get to that.”

All three of them trudged out to the Impala mostly undetected and Sam offered to take a nap in the backseat so he wouldn’t have to hear any sappy reunion confessions. Dean punched him. Castiel remarked that he shouldn’t have gone through all the red tape to have Sam resurrected if Dean was going to threaten him with bodily harm.

The Impala purred and growled as it started in the parking lot of the hospital. Castiel looked around at the world through human eyes. This was not a punishment at all, it was a gift.

It was his reward.

End.

Date: 2010-08-18 06:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mulder200.livejournal.com
Ah! That was quite sweet! And I loved Gabriel's role in this.

I am glad that he helped Cas realize what was truly important.

Date: 2010-08-18 11:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] harper47.livejournal.com
Awwww. This was lovely. I wish it could have gone on and on and on though. But lovely little gem that explored an interesting aspect of Cas.

Date: 2010-08-21 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pyjamagurl.livejournal.com
First off, I am so sorry it took so long for me to read this, my life has been nommed by Big Bang Rough draft writing this week. Secondly, thank you so much for writing this for me! ^__^

Thirdly; awwww! I really, really like this, the ending is just perfect with the three of them being reunited and Dean and Cas finally getting together.

I am so glad that Gabriel knocked some sense into Cas :D

Fabulous. Thank you! <3

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