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24 August 2010 @ 10:10 am
faraway, so close - part II  
Dean gets to that set some two hours later; meanwhile, Castiel has relieved the burdens of a camera operator needing to extinguish a mortgage on his house, a director whose wife cheated on him and an extra whose boyfriend left for Afghanistan. Castiel has tried to get what is this show about, but he really has not, so he just stands near Dean as some assistant director explains him what’s going on and what does he need to do. Castiel can only hear Dean’s thoughts on the matter though.

… like he doesn’t know that I’ve worked here already, and yeah, our almighty hero is running from some crazy Russians wanting to kill him because he knows too much which is exactly like it was last time except that they were Arabian, and they’ll shoot from far and I need to duck fake bullets and do that jump from-a-sort-of-cliff that our almighty lead is too scared of doin’ because otherwise he’d risk too much and the insurance is a bitch and whatever. Will he just let me fucking go so that I can start on with this and get the money I earn for risking my ass?

Castiel’s hand lingers on Dean’s neck for a second then, and he feels him let out a shuddering breath. Then, he leaves him alone and takes a walk around the whole studio. He feels curious, for some reason, so he decides he will take a look around and get back to Dean’s set.

He doesn’t think he has ever been here (not that he hasn’t visited movie sets; he has, and quite some, but not in the last fifty human years or so) and he observes everything going on, realizing that things have indeed changed a lot in this business. Strange, that in what for him is a second, humans managed to get this far. But then again, what for him is a second is fifty years for them.

He carefully slips in the backseat of a car almost completely packed with cameras and filming equipment; the driver has the radio on and thinking about how great it will get tonight when he’ll being his wife Jenny out for their anniversary. Castiel doesn’t see it fit to interact with someone who’s obviously happy, and gets down of the car when it stops in the middle of a set depicting the outside of a cheap motel room. Outside, Castiel recognizes the actor who was in the plane. He’s wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, his beard is a bit longer and he looks a bit more ruffled. He’s talking to a kid who is apparently making an interview for his high school newspaper while a girl from the set snaps pictures all around.

“... so, as I told you, see, this movie might be about the supernatural, but seriously, it’s a detective story at heart. My character is always is searching for his wife’s killer, just like a detective. Or at least that’s what it is to me. And hey, honey, cut it with the pictures!”

He answers another couple of questions and Castiel can hear him thinking damn, I hate when people snap goddamn pictures at random, can’t they just ask? and then follows someone along the set. Castiel follows them out of curiosity until they stop in front of a mirror and a wardrobe assistant arrives with a clothes rack full of coats and jackets.

“Alright, the jacket, huh? I need one that fits the character.”

“How do you think he should look?” the assistant asks.

“Like a guy who doesn’t care about blending but wants to lay low. Not exactly anonymous, but not outstanding either.”

The girl hands him a trench coat much similar to Castiel’s.

“Aw, I look like Humphrey Bogart. No, no. Another one.”

He gets handed a black montgomery.

“Jesus Christ, that’s so not the character.”

He ditches another five saying that they’re ridiculous; the size doesn’t work, he looks like someone who’s getting married and not on a path of revenge, this one’s too elegant, while this one doesn’t suit him at all and this other one seems out of some Columbo episode. He settles on a brown leather jacket in the end, saying that this one is it, and gets back to the set where he’s supposed to stand in front of the motel door.

Well, why is that I’m feeling something strange? I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is but... I don’t know. I’m just thinking too much about this, and I should have another look at the script anyway...

The actor calls for someone to hand him the script and starts flipping through it. Then he asks how much time is still before they shoot and when he’s told ‘another twenty minutes’, he grabs a journal out of a bag that was on one chair and a pencil. He walks around the set a bit, actually stumbling onto a nearby set where they’re filming something for what Castiel figures is a war show. Or movie. There’s a line of extras sitting along a wall, chattering with each other. Presumably, they’re having a break, too. He crouches in front of a young, pretty blonde girl and asks her whether he could sketch her. She answers of course, and Castiel hears thoughts from the both of them, and it almost sounds like a conversation.

I wonder where she comes from. She doesn’t look much like she’s from California. The accent isn’t right either.

Is it good, his drawing? I recognize him actually, I wouldn’t have even thought he’d want to sketch me, and he said not to move, how could I?

I like her face. And her hair. And her bottom lip. I could almost say that it looks dramatic, and she’s an extra, extras are usually so patient...

I wonder if he’ll give it to me. If it’s coming along nicely.

It’s blond, her hair. Like sunflowers. Sunflowers, reminds me of Van Gogh. Van Gogh killed himself, though. Why am I even thinking about it? Really, I should get back to work, but I want to give this to her first, I think she’ll like it.

If he does give it to me, I hope he signs it, it would be so great!


And he does, give the drawing to her, asking her name and putting a legible ‘to Jo’ on the bottom before signing with an unreadable scrawl and handing it back to her. He smiles at her a second, then gets back on his own set and Castiel lets him. His work here is done, for now. He checks the time, then flies until he reaches the door of the studio. Dean is leaving right this moment and Castiel watches him go. He’s about to turn the other way even if he would rather follow Dean wherever he’s going when he feels a soft rustle behind him.

“Anna,” he says without even turning.

“Castiel,” she nods turning her head towards the direction where Dean disappeared.

Castiel doesn’t really think before talking; but for some reason he decides that he needs her to at least try to understand his situation a bit more.

“Would you come with me for a while? I wish to show you… someone.”

“Alright, lead the way.” She sounds calm and neutral, as her hair blazes in the chilly wind; her eyes are large and stare at him, young but ancient at the same time. Like his own must appear. He wonders whether it’s a good or bad thing, and it’s the first time that he thinks about it in terms of a problem and not in terms of a fact. Something tells him that it’s not exactly good. He feels like he has taken a step closer to the edge, and the most terrifying thing is that he doesn’t exactly mind.

--

Castiel is surprised to notice that as soon as they reach the garage where Dean is currently fixing an engine, three kids are blatantly staring at him from the side of the road. He figures that it has to be interesting for them someway. He and Anna stand behind them and one of the three glances at them before shrugging and turning towards Dean again. He’s quite close and it’s possible to see what he’s doing with the engine; he’s bent in two, his shirt has wet patches on the back and clings to his skin and his hands are smeared with grease as he works, and Castiel’s eyes can’t help staring at the way his shoulders move. He wishes he was alone for a second so he could reach out and touch them, but he stands still as Dean moves on the other side of the hood and his profile appears.

“That’s him?” Anna asks, her tone still neutral.

“Yes, it is.”

“You said you can really touch him?”

“I can,” Castiel answers earnestly, and meanwhile catches the thought of the young boy in front of him.

… so cool, dude, and what a car! That guy’s just awesome, I wish I had a car like that one day, but maybe it could be done, maybe if it was used…

Castiel sighs and doesn’t reach out. They’re all focused and excited; well, two of them at least, a third is looking at Dean with something akin to awe and Castiel hears him thinking that wow, the car is such a nice model and he really wishes he had one like that one day. His dad had one once but he had to sell it when he lost his job, and he’s so sad that Castiel is about to reach out to him. But just as he starts moving his hand, Dean turns and the other two kids suddenly duck and disappear down the boardwalk. Dean shakes his head, muttering something about stupid kids who can’t even work up the nerve to ask, and then he notices the third boy who’s still there, kind of petrified.

“Hey. You ain’t runnin’ for the hills like your pals?”

The boy shakes his head, even if he’s obviously uncomfortable; Dean shrugs again and shoots him a small smile.

“Tell you what, I shouldn’t really do this and if you say yes you ain’t gonna touch anything, but if you want me to show you what I’m doing, just come the hell over here.”

“But…” the kid starts.

“I know, I hate it when you all start ogling at me, but it’s obvious you like this beauty as much as I do. Telling you to scram and get the fuck off you would be a crime.”

The boy nods, a small smile forming on his lips, and Castiel retreats his hand.

“He’s a good person,” Anna says then, and Castiel nods.

“I doubt he thinks of himself thus,” he says then, and he thinks there’s something like sadness in his voice. Anna nods again and comes closer, her hand brushing against Dean’s elbow; Dean keeps on explaining the boy how that engine works and she comes back where Castiel is.

“It’s just the same as with everyone else for me. I think… I think it might be unique. In the sense, he’s not the kind of special person we all can touch like that. It’s just you, Castiel.”

For some reason, he feels glad. For a mere second. Then he just nods, business-like as she’s just stating a fact, and he wishes he could stay.

They both leave at the same time.

--

They reappear on a beach; it’s empty, maybe because of the grey clouds covering the entirety of the skyline. All Castiel sees in it is shades of that same color, and for a second he wishes he was able to look past it, but that’s all his eyes will allow him until they’re timeless, and he suddenly wonders how it would feel like if sand stuck to his shoes.

“You know,” Anna says softly then, “I don’t know if I understand you. As I said, I wondered how it’d feel like once, but I think you’re coming to a very different conclusion. I mean, why should we leave this? We were here before history; we were here to see how the earth was shaped into the form it is today. We witnessed it all. And they were made in our image, not the contrary. It was eons before the first human even appeared here, and you were there long before. How can you envy them? Isn’t what you have enough? They might have been made in our image, but we don’t cover grass with stones, stones with asphalt and asphalt with traces of tanks. Why would you want that? I just can’t see it, and I did think about it.”

“I… I don’t,” Castiel answers sincerely, because it’s not a question of envy. “Of course I remember how it was before. Of course I know they weren’t created for us, or us for them. But that’s not everything there is. And weren’t we made for war, at the beginning? Then we just were too few, and then they found war out on their own and so we weren’t needed for that anymore either, but it’s not the reason why I’m… wondering about how it is for them.”

“Then what’s the reason?” she asks softly, her fingers slowly grasping his wrist. “I just want to understand you.”

He turns his stare to the sea and shifts his feet just a little. He can’t feel any pressure from the sand and he thinks he’d like to know how it would feel if they were bare.

“We have always been here. We aren’t many. No one knows we are here, though. No one sees us. And it’s always been us, regardless of the time or the age or the conditions. They die, they have what seems like seconds for us, but they leave a trace. They’re remembered, they… they live what is given to them. We don’t.”

“So… is that what you want? You want a…”

“I want a story, yes,” he whispers, and it’s not hypothetical. As he speaks, he knows he wants one. He knows he wants to leave a sign of his existence. And he had always wondered about it, but he had never wanted it until the day he started wishing he was made of flesh and bone so that Dean could see him.

“We’re always here,” he keeps on, “but we don’t get it. We don’t know what it means… to taste, for example, if not in theory. We don’t even see the world the same way they do, for us nothing changes and for them everything is change. This is a world behind another world and there are good things in theirs. It’s not just war and traces of tanks.”

“It’s also made mostly of pain,” Anna argues back, and don’t they know it, since they spend their existence trying to soothe humans from that. “Isn’t that why you’re so interested in your special charge? He is quite the suffering one,” she adds, a small smile half quirking on her lips, and Castiel can just appreciate that she’s making an effort.

“And don’t you ever think that we might make more of a difference if we actually understood how it is for them?”

Anna nods like she’s considering it, and Castiel feels an urge to know how the fabric of his clothes would feel on his skin, just as he felt the urge to know how having bare feet could; it’s simple things, but they seem so beautiful, from what he has observed.

He turns to his left to see Anna gone; he takes a last glance at the pale sun behind those gray clouds and disappears with a soft, fluttering sound that no one else can hear.

--

It’s dusk when he appears in Dean’s room; he tries not to think too much about the fact that he hasn’t even wondered for a second if he should go anywhere else.

And apparently they do have a connection because there’s distress coming from the figure sitting on the bed, and it’s coming in waves. Castiel barely has time to move before the flood of thoughts hits him like a punch to the gut, or what he thinks would feel like it from what he has seen until now.

I’m so tired of this. Now it’s another six hours at that goddamn hole if I’m lucky and the idiots up for playing tonight don’t overdo it and get me some unpaid extra time. Fantastic, just fantastic, and if only I didn’t need the money, and tomorrow morning I have the early shift at Bobby’s and Christ I won’t ever get a break, will I? And what the fuck am I even doing being pathetic here, I have a job to do and I should just suck it up and do it, it’s not like if I can’t go anywhere it means that everyone else shouldn’t, right?

Castiel doesn’t think he has ever heard Dean sounding so down, and why, why can’t he just make himself seen? He curses wordlessly the spirit he’s made of and kneels on the bed behind Dean, letting his hands fit along the curve of Dean’s shoulders, more than the slight touch he usually reserves for everyone else, and he lets his right hand run along Dean’s spine slowly.

It’s not that it normally works, even if this time it does.

What astonishes Castiel is that Dean just stands perfectly still for a second, before getting up from the bed slowly. He definitely feels relieved, and then he half-turns towards where Castiel is and smiles just slightly, barely visible but there.

Uh, what was… he thinks soon after, that was weird. Just, why did I even… it was like someone was there? Jesus, I’m losing it, I should just go to work, I don’t feel that bad though… ah, it was a moment, probably. Seriously, since when I have moments?

Dean is out of the door three seconds later and Castiel stares at his hand. He can’t have possibly made himself visible, but if Dean can even vaguely feel him back…

He starts wondering how it would feel if Dean actually smiled at him for real and not for that single second and he thinks that maybe it’d be the sweetest sensation of them all.

He’s pretty sure that this is what Anna would call dangerous reasoning.

--

He decides he doesn’t care about what he’s supposed to do and spends the night unseen sitting at the bar Dean is serving at, while a cover band that Dean doesn’t hide hating (at least in his head) plays behind them. Once in a while he’ll reach out and touch Dean’s wrist, mostly when he thinks that he’d like to smash a glass in a client’s face. Since he feels guilty about neglecting his real job, Castiel at one point starts walking through the venue and lets his hand come in contact with the shoulders of at least half of the people in there (there’s so much pain and sadness, there is). He even walks on the stage and when he stops the singer from thinking about his break-up with his girlfriend that morning, he’s pretty sure that the singer stops being off key, as well. Dean confirms this when Castiel goes back to the bar, and at the same time he’s wondering why the night is way less awful than he had foreseen.

Castiel briefly touches his wrist again.

And then, even if he can feel a faint call from Anna because they should meet at fixed times, he ignores it and doesn’t stray too far from Dean’s side until he’s home and intending to catch a couple hours of possibly decent sleep before he has to go to the auto shop.

--

Anna doesn’t comment when they do meet and exchange information, but she still looks somewhat sad. Castiel wishes for a second that he could want to keep on staying where he is, but for some reason he can’t. At the same time he still hasn’t found the force of will to take that last step and he thinks he knows what’s stopping him.

And then he wonders if maybe he could actually cheat just a bit and be sure of it.

--

He follows Dean that night, too.

He goes to a concert; he apparently received tickets for it from his brother on his birthday months ago. Wolfmother, it says on the outside of the small venue, and to Castiel it doesn’t mean a thing; but Dean seems happy of having an evening off for once.

Once inside, Castiel stays behind at the beginning. He doesn’t understand the music, not really, it’s just sound and a voice following it, and it just doesn’t strike any chord. Still, he goes after Dean in a short while, finding him in the crowd without much trouble. The fact that there’s barely space to move doesn’t affect Castiel, not when he can just pass through people.

When he finds Dean, he stands close to him, leaning against the wall because Dean kept himself to the back of the venue. He sees him moving and mouthing words along with the singer, even if he isn’t singing outright. For a while he stands still, just observing the way Dean moves along to the rythm, not making a show but apparently enjoying himself. Then he raises an arm and lets his hands touch Dean’s shoulder as he sways along with the music, moving behind him even if still standing far. His fingers move, tracing ghost paths along Dean’s waist and arms and at times it feels like Dean is actually moving alongside with him. At other times, their hands cover each other in the same position even if Dean can’t know. Castiel barely moves, but he can’t help still feeling Dean’s soul as before, and he decides that he is going to cheat.

--

Dean has fun that night, for the first time in a long while. Castiel is glad to feel it, and he follows him home.

While he does, Dean actually smiles. And thinks.

Fuck, that was a show. For once, I need to thank Sam again for the tickets, even if he really shouldn’t have. And at least in two days there’s Nick Cave and I’m even getting there for free, first good thing that ever happened to me since I started working in that crappy place. Now I really want to know how the hell they managed to get an act that doesn’t suck and which is also freaking famous, but whatever, who cares. At least it’s twice in a week and more than you got in a year, so just shut up and be happy for it.

Castiel doesn’t get half of what Dean means, but he can only figure that if he gets some free time it can’t be a bad thing.

--

Dean goes straight to bed as soon as he’s home and falls asleep on top of the covers, still clothed but having discarded his shoes. From his tense expression, Castiel figures that he isn’t sleeping well even if he did have a good time before, or at least not as well as he could. For a second he wonders if he should actually do this at all. In theory, it’s not forbidden; it’s just that it isn’t common practice and he doesn’t even know if in the end it could backfire.

Still, he needs to know. Because if it turns out that he’s right then he doesn’t have anything holding him back, and the idea of losing his wings at this point isn’t even frightening. Not really.

Castiel sits on the side of the bed, reaches out with a hand and closes it around Dean’s shoulder, and then his eyelids fall shut.

--

The first thing that Dean thinks, is that this has to be the most stupid dream he has ever had. Why would he have a flash of wings flapping? He usually either never remembers what he’s dreaming about or if he does, it’s the fire that killed his mother and he’d rather not remember that, which is why wings are just odd.

And then he has that flash again, except that it isn’t a flash anymore.

He’s standing, wearing just a pair of jeans, in a strange, gray place that he can’t recognize. Or better, it’s not gray. He’s just… dreaming in black and white, he realizes, and then he hears that fluttering sound again.

And oh,
Christ, this does just not compute. Suddenly, this dream doesn’t seem so stupid anymore.

He doesn’t see just a wing now. He sees a pair of wings, a span large enough to make him feel humbled. They’re made of white, pure light, but he thinks he can see shapes in that, like… like light-feathers or something close to it; he can’t really put it into coherent words. Then his eyes point to what’s in between the wings. Or better,
who is in between the wings. It, no, he positively looks like a man even if men don’t have fucking wings. He’s a bit shorter than Dean himself, looking some indefinite age around thirty, with dark hair (even if guessing what color would it be considering that Dean is dreaming in black and white is impossible) that looks mussed and disheveled, but without being ridiculous at the same time. He’s wearing, oh Christ, he’s wearing goddamn fucking armor like those angels you see in paintings; or well, in reproductions of paintings that are somewhere in Europe and Dean will likely never get to see in his life. He has a lean, compact body, all pale skin and lithe muscles. The armor just covers his chest and the first half of his legs (it’s definitely a before-Middle-Ages kind, he thinks incongruously) and then his dream companion raises his head and Dean’s throat tightens for a second. He has clear eyes, way too huge for it to be legal, and oh Christ the second they stare right up into his Dean feels laid bare. He doesn’t know how he holds that stare, maybe because whoever this is, he doesn’t look dangerous or like he means Dean any harm. All the contrary, actually.

“Who… what are you?” he manages to choke out at some point, and the other’s full, slightly cracked lips turn up in a small, almost imperceptible smile that seems to light up his whole face.

“What would you think?” he answers in a voice that sends shivers down Dean’s spine. It’s low and with a dark edge, but the tone is kind and Dean doesn’t move when it, he takes a step further.

“… some kind of angel?” Dean blurts then.

“Not
some kind, Dean. I aman angel.”

“I’m… I’m making this up in my head, right?” Dean asks, and it’s totally a stupid question, because how the fuck can a dream say it’s just a dream?

“Oh, you are not. I exist, even if you cannot see me as I am right now. This is just me intruding in your dreams because I wished to talk to you, but you aren’t… making me up,” the angel answers carefully, slowly, like he’s weighing every word.

“Why? Why would you?” Dean asks then, just not getting it. “Why me?”

“Why not?” the angel asks, tilting his head just a small bit.

“It’s… I’m not… I’m not anything special, why would an
angel give a damn about me or want to talk to me?”

“What’s the matter?” the angel answers, coming even closer and dangerously about to get into Dean’s personal space. “You don’t… you don’t think you deserve it?” he whispers, talking like he’s finding out the greatest truth of the universe right while he’s figuring Dean out so easily that it’s almost shameful.

“Dude, life isn’t just that way. Not for me, at least. You don’t get angels in your dreams each day.”

“You’re correct, it isn’t common practice,” the angel agrees, and then he stares at Dean again. Dean can’t find anything to say because that stare still kills his capability of thought or speech.

“But why shouldn’t you believe that good things do happen? They do, and if you don’t think that they shouldn’t happen to you because you haven’t earned it, then you are quite mistaken,” he adds softly, and Dean almost wants to cry because that calm, understanding tone is undoing him all over again.

“If it isn’t common practice why the hell are you here?”

“You might want to start to revaluate yourself. If I did this even if it’s not common practice, then you can’t be… nothing special,” the angel says, and then holds out a hand.

Dean doesn’t stop thinking about how crazy is this whole thing before he slowly takes it, and then long, warm and slender fingers are wrapped softly around his palm and it feels so right that he lets out a small gasp. He looks at the angel again, wings that are all light and beauty spreading from his back, and the armor and his face and everything else, and he thinks, what did I do to deserve this?

“But why me?” he insists, unable to bring himself to believe it.

“I heard you,” comes the reply.

“You heard me? I don’t even pray, how could…”

“Oh, I didn’t hear you praying. I heard you being distressed over a group playing in your job location, I think.”

“And
that was enough?”

“It was a start,” the angel answers softly before reaching his other hand up to Dean’s cheek and damn, Dean knows this is a delusion, it has to be, but then if it was why is he feeling warm and like there’s light coming from the smooth palm against his not-so-smooth cheek, and why is he finally feeling like someone other than Sam gives a damn, and in a way Sam couldn’t?

“You can’t be serious,” Dean breathes out, but the angel’s thumb keeps on rubbing slow circles on his cheekbone and his face is intent and concentrated; he looks like he thinks this is very much serious.

“Good things can happen, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t happen to you.”

“You really think that?”

And then the angel moves just slightly forward and brushes his lips against Dean’s cheek and fuck, fuck, there’s electricity makes each of his nerves shake and it was barely a touch.

“I do. Now I am asking you, what do you want?”

“What… what do you mean?”

“I mean, you must want something for
yourself. And I want to know. Maybe I can do something for you.”

Dean thinks. And it’s hard to come up with something that isn’t related to Sam, or to the scholarship, or to his job. He doesn’t know if anything job-related would suffice for an answer. He needs to think, and well, this is a dream. It’ll probably never mean anything, so why not going along and be delusional for once? After all, it’s quite the delusion thinking that an angel would care about you of everyone, and Dean didn’t even believe that angels existed until ten minutes ago.

Which brings him to the point that the only thing he knows he wants is not to be left behind. He wants someone to come back to in the evenings, he wants someone who won’t see his fuck ups when looking at him (more or less like the angel is looking at him right this moment), and he’s goddamn tired of doing everything on his own.

He should have just answered, ‘someone’.

Instead, he asks, “Stay?”, and before he can be horrified at what he just said because he can’t just have asked something like
that, the hand on his cheek leaves after its fingers trail along its length, and damn, their hands are still entwined on the other side.

“Do you mean that?” the angel asks, and Dean nods because yeah, he does. It’s a presence like this that he longs for. Something steady. Something beautiful. Something that apparently loves him even if they can’t even talk to each other unless it’s a dream.

“Then I think you should… keep your eyes open, as you would say.”

And then the hand holding his is gone and Dean sees wings starting to move and flutter and shake the air, and he stares for a second, feeling overwhelmed. Then, when the angel turns his back at him, Dean startles out of his reverie.

“Wait! Just, what’s… what’s your name?” he half-shouts, and the angel stops, his profile slowly coming into vision as he turns back towards Dean.

“Castiel,” he answers, and then he’s gone with a fluttering sound and a flash of light. For some reason Dean feels slightly relaxed instead of worried, and he lets darkness win him over.


part III
 
 
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