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24 August 2010 @ 10:00 am
faraway, so close - part I  
It’s so peaceful here, Castiel thinks as he sits on the top of the Hancock building in Boston. He looks down, where the world is a black and white blur made of small, tiny moving points. He likes this vantage point, it’s probably his favorite overall in this city. While from here people look barely bigger than a grain of sand, he can still distinguish each single one.

Being an angel does have its advantages; true, it’s too far to hear their thoughts, but once in a while Castiel doesn’t mind the silence. Just for a short time, though; after all, his job is watching over as many of them as he can in order to preserve and remember what they think, and he likes hearing human thoughts. He likes helping them, when he can, if he can, which is usually the case. They can’t see him, true, unless they’re children, and even then they usually forget just as soon as he leaves.

If a human was sitting next to him and could see Castiel right now, he’d see a man in his early thirties, a bit above the average height, with unruly dark brown hair and huge, blue eyes. He’d be wearing a dark blue suit and tie and a tan trenchcoat a bit larger than it should be. One of his knees would be flexed against his chest and a pair of dark gray wings would spread from his shoulders. This would only be if a human could see him, though. If it was another angel, he’d just see Castiel in black, white and shades of gray.

Of course, no one can see him, so it really isn’t the point. The point is that he should observe humans, not that humans should observe him. Even if he has to admit that lately he’s been wondering how it would feel to be on the other side. There’s just one kind of interaction he has, and it’s the one he can have with his own kind. He won’t feel anything if his hand touches any surface, even though from centuries of observation he has known that there are things such as sensations: hot, cold, rough, soft, sweet, bitter. He knows that humans don’t even see things as he does, even if he can’t really get what color means as a concept. He sees them eating and wonders what tasting is like; he sees them sleeping and wonders what it’s like to dream; he sees their hands getting dirty when they read a newspaper and ink stains their fingers, and he wonders how it feels like when your hands aren’t clean.

He knows he shouldn’t think about this, even if there really isn’t anything forbidding it; still, he does. Centuries of observing will do that to you. He stretches and flaps his wings a couple of times before letting them disappear, and then he sees a plane in the distance, heading to land at Logan International. He closes his eyes and then he’s inside. As soon as he appears, a flight assistant passes right through him and for a fraction of a second she smiles before reaching the first class. He’s sure she can’t see him, but it’s good to know that she felt his presence.

… this is the last one for this week and then it’s over. Finally. Christ, I can’t wait for those two free days. This week was crap, and oh, I hope that David bought the groceries, I can’t deal with buying groceries too, that would just be the cherry on top of the cake, wouldn’t it? If he didn’t he will just make up some excuse, and I’m sure that he didn’t even try to cook something for himself, I’m sure he didn’t even throw the take-out boxes away, how I’m sure that…

Castiel’s hand rests for ten seconds on the shoulder of a woman dressed in a smart skirt and matching jacket. She’s typing frantically on a laptop when he does, and then her flow of thoughts slows down and she smiles just slightly, taking a breath and thinking damn, Jane, you really should take a vacation one of these days, you’re so stressed…

Castiel moves on; just a couple of rows, trying to sort out someone else to turn his attention to. He hears everyone’s thoughts, and while he is adjusted to it, it still takes a minute to sort between two hundred people. He waves and smiles at a small blonde baby girl, she can’t be older than three; she raises her arms in his direction, clearly seeing him; he ruffles her hair slowly, so that no one can’t realize that there’s someone doing it at all, then he moves on.

This looks like a darn interesting movie, I’m glad I accepted that role. I really wish I knew more about the part though, but I guess it’s going to come out during the shooting. No point in forcing it. Now, what about you, John? What is that you’ve got to tell me before I decide how should I actually play you? You’re a meanson of a bitch, though, aren’t you? And you did lose a great deal. Maybe…

Castiel turns towards a man sitting near the window; an actor reading a script, he knows (he just knows who people are by looking at them), who’s probably here to shoot a movie. He’s taking notes in a small notebook next to the script. He’s quite tall, with dark hair and eyes and a beard, and when he looks at Castiel for a second Castiel thinks he’s actually seeing him; then he gets back on the script and Castiel gathers that it’s about this man whose wife gets killed by a supernatural entity and spends his life from then on searching for the demon culpable. Castiel shrugs and moves forward.

Damn, I wish I said no, I don’t even care for that damn wedding, what am I doing on this plane, what…

Thank
God this is almost over, I hate flying, I hatehatehate flying, why did I ever decide to get on a plane? Come on, just twenty minutes and this is going to land and I’ll be on the ground and I’ll never set foot on a plane again…

No, he can’t have ended like
that, three years I wait for this book to be published and then this is the end? Why the hell did I ever start the series at all? Fuck this, I wasted some good ten bucks, kudos to me…

He touches all of their shoulders. He moves forward until he’s at the end of the plane. And then he disappears with a flutter of wings that no one hears.

--

He loves those moments in between leaving places and reaching other locations. With airplanes, like now, he finds himself out in the sky and then he flutters down gently, taking in the view of the city stretched almost without an end in front of him, the people turning from mere, small points into real shapes and actual persons. He hears signals from radios, all at once, but he distinguishes them all and it’s a sound in which he drowns with pleasure. He’ll land on the ground or in some apartment or he’ll reach a bus station; he never really goes somewhere with a plan. He doesn’t need to.

--

“Hello, Anna,” he greets as soon as his long-time companion joins him, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, even if he had known she would be there. They’re sitting in a neither of them owns, parked near Atlantic Avenue.

Anna is the same age as he is (timeless, he can’t even remember when they were born exactly); she has been his sort of partner since they existed. They always were a pair, stationed here before there was any kind of city. A young boy passing them by waves at her and Castiel knows that he sees a young woman in her early thirties, with long hair, pale skin, huge and kind eyes and a pretty smile. He wishes he could see her as the boy sees her for a second, then he tries not to think about it. Her clothing is way less formal than Castiel’s, just plain jeans and a cotton black jacket on a white t-shirt, and when she turns to look at him she nods.

“Castiel,” she nods as he relaxes against the leather of the seat.

“Anna. Well?” he asks, and she takes a small notebook out of her pocket. She opens it and reads, her voice just slightly warmed.

“Sunrise at 7:22 A.M. Sunset at 6.28, P.M. Moonrise at 7:04 P.M. Moonset at 5:52. Seventeen years ago...”

“... the Deer Island prison closed.”

“Right. One hundred and seven years ago, the Boston Red Sox were founded. One hundred and thirty-six years ago, the Boston Globe began publication and there was the Great Fire. One hundred and forty-eight years ago, Edward VII visited the city. And today...”

Castiel gives her a look as he turns to their left; there’s a young couple standing in the street and they’re kissing, holding each other affectionately, smiling without a care in the world.

“... a man,” Anna keeps on, “was walking down Commonwealth Avenue, stopped, turned and looked over his shoulder into space. At the post office over there at the corner, a man wanting to end it all today mailed his farewell letters. Each had a rare stamp. All different. Somewhere near Merchants Row, this old man read The Odyssey to a child and his listener stopped blinking his eyes.”

“Nice,” Castiel remarks, still observing the couple as they walk away.

“And what do you have to say?” she asks closing her notebook. She always was neater than him on this aspect. She takes notes of everything. Castiel doesn’t, he’d rather just remember.

“A man on the street folded his umbrella while it rained and let himself get drenched,” he starts. “A blind woman groped for her watch and I think she felt my presence. And... Anna, it’s great to live only by the spirit and to testify day by day, for eternity, only to the spiritual side of people. But... I wonder how it is to actually live,” he muses.

“What do you mean?”

“Sometimes... this spiritual existence does not seem enough anymore. I wonder how it is for them.” He raises his hand and waves it around, almost as he was trying to encompass everyone walking in front of them right in that moment. “Instead of forever hovering above... I wonder how it would feel if there was some weight to me. How it would be to be binded to earth. Saying now instad of since always and forever.” He looks at Anna, realizing that she’s trying to understand him but that she really isn’t getting what he’s aiming at. “How it is to sit at a table and be greeted, if only by a nod. How it would be to really participate, because no matter what, what we do now it’s... a pretense. How it is to sleep and see colors and taste coffee first thing in the morning as you read a newspaper that leaves your fingers smeared in ink. Just what this means for them. To be excited not only by something in our mind but by something else. Maybe to lie.”

Anna snorts at that, and Castiel shakes his head as he goes on. “Saying anything else instead of yes and amen. Or to feel how it’s like to take your shoes off under the table and stretch your feet.”

“And would you give up eternity for that?” she asks, her voice kind, her eyes focused on him, otherwordly as he knows his own are. “It’s… like being savages. We can only be as savage as we are absolutely serious. We observe, we collect, we testify, we preserve. We’re spirit.”

“Well, I haven’t given up anything yet, have I now?”

“You are right about that. So you’re just there, wondering?”

Castiel shrugs again, just a bare motion of his shoulders.

“It intrigues me, but it’s not enough,” he whispers, standing up and getting out of the car. There’s an entrance to a park in front of it. The park itself is all white and delicate hues of gray, the sun casting a soft white light all around them. Children run in front of them and they’re dark gray shapes on light gray grass and even if this is the way Castiel has seen for endless ages, he knows there’s something lacking.

He can’t quite pinpoint what.

“Castiel?” Anna asks, suddenly appearing at his side.

“Yes?”

“You know this is not for us, don’t you?”

“I do,” he answers as she smiles at him, touches his shoulder lightly and disappears.

“I wish it was, though,” he whispers to no one before sighing and disappearing, too. He has a job, here. He should not even think about such a thing, curiosity or not.

--

It’s evening and the world is either black or dark gray when Castiel is walking outside a bar. From the poster attached outside, he figures that this is a place that holds concerts and ten seconds later two persons reaching a van parked outside the door confirm his deductions.

Damn, one day we’ll be famous enough and there’ll be someone else hauling all the gear. Maybe the day isn’t too far, we just need a bit of luck, maybe next time someone from a label will be in the audience, why not? If only…

He gives the man dragging the amplifiers across the road a light squeeze on his shoulder before going on his way; or better, he was going to be on his way when a thought suddenly pierces through his head. It doesn’t happen often; Castiel just hears everything, whether they want it or not, but this particular stream of thought just forces itself through his mind, silencing every other one (and there are at least seven people around), and there’s a certain sadness lingering around it, even if Castiel doesn’t hear resentment.

… Jesus fucking Christ, thankfully it’s over, that group sucks ass, and why can’t they pay a bit more for someone who actually knows the fucking lyrics to Rock n’ Roll? Whatever, not like I had to pay to see them, and that’s just my goddamn luck, and clearly it’s late, Sam’ll be sleeping already and I’ve barely seen his face in four days, and whatever, I’m outta here and I’m just glad I won’t have to come back for two days. Seriously, that’s when I think I should’ve listened to Bobby, but just, fuck, what an evening…

For some reason, this is all Castiel can hear. Before he can see who is that these thoughts belong to, he realizes that this isn’t usual. This is a connection he has never experienced; no human ever managed to force any other thought he might hear out of his head, and this man doesn’t even think like anyone else he has ever met. No human thought is ever clear or controlled, but there’s just something different about the sensations that leak out of that string of sentences hastily put together. Castiel feels that sadness again, like it’s rooted inside this man and can’t ever be erased, and even if he complains Castiel feels a certain acceptation, too. Like he knows that this isn’t the life he wants but that he doesn’t have much choice in the matter and he’ll take what he gets. And Castiel hasn’t even seen him. If just a thought had such power over him…

The door of the bar opens and if Castiel needed to breathe, he’s sure he’d have forgotten to. There’s no doubt that the man who got out just now is him, if only because he’s still thinking and Castiel can hear every single word. From all that he has learned observing humans, Castiel thinks that he is probably what would be considered extremely good looking. He’s pretty tall, with a good build, short hair which is a slightly clear gray to Castiel, skin which in human terms would be maybe slightly tanned (though for Castiel it’s an expression that doesn’t make sense, he just knows it from experience), two full lips and huge eyes, freckles scattered all over his cheeks. And even if he’s strikingly beautiful, he has a certain hardness to him that doesn’t make him fair or just a pretty face. But that’s not really what Castiel notices at first.

He can’t just hear humans’s thoughts; he can see right inside their soul and for that second in which his eyes meets the young man’s, Castiel feels a soul so bright that for a second he forgets how to even think. There’s such a stark difference between this man’s soul and his thoughts; no one so beautiful should be allowed such melancholy. Castiel shouldn’t hear thoughts saying well, at least I’m doin’ something at all and fuck the rest, and it wasn’t like I was gonna go far anyway, I never was the one meant to go far, but sometimes I just wish I could quit this place at least, maybe after Sam’s done with school, but then again there’ll probably be the debt and I ain’t going to leave him to take care of that alone, and shit, I’m so tired, I don’t think I’m eating dinner tonight anyway, I’ll just hit the bed. It strikes him as wrong and before he knows it he’s following the man. He could just touch his shoulder and relieve him of his burdens for a while, but for some reason he wants to know more. He wants to know who Sam is, he wants to find out this man’s name because for some reason while he feels connected with him on any possible single level he will not read his mind in order to obtain personal information. He wants to relieve him of his burdens not just for a while but for as long as he can, and it’s strange, it’s alien, it’s something he doesn’t know how to deal with, but he just can’t think about that for now.

He follows him for about five blocks before he stops in front of a pretty anonymous six-storey building. The man’s finger hovers for a second on a button on the intercom that says Winchester, Dean and Sam, but then he thinks better of it and starts searching for his keys in a backpack he’s wearing on his shoulder. Castiel reasons that if the surname is the same then Sam must be this man’s brother and his name must be Dean. While he’s thinking, Dean can’t seem to find the keys and swears under his breath.

Fantastic, Dean, just fantastic. It’s two in the night and you forgot your keys and like hell I’m gonna wake Sam, he needs to be up early tomorrow, but I can’t exactly throw someone else off their bed. Damn, maybe those two girls on the fourth floor who are always throwing rave parties might be up… though fuck, the lights are off, clearly this is the only night they wouldn’t… there’s the spare set of keys for the door under the doormat if I remember right, but there’s no way I’m gonna open this one…

Castiel appears on the other side of the entrance and softly presses the button opening the door.

Humans might not see angels, but angels can do this kind of thing.

Dean raises an eyebrow, but then pushes the door open.

Well, guess this is my lucky night. Maybe someone saw me outside the door and recognized me? Whatever, not gonna complain.

Castiel follows him on the elevator and on the fifth floor; Dean picks up a key from under a doormat and gets into apartment 20b.

The apartment has barely four rooms; Castiel sees two whose door is locked, a small living room, another one whose door is ajar and a kitchen. Dean is about to get into the one that isn’t locked, but then turns towards the kitchen. Castiel figures he might have smelled something; he doesn’t know, it’s not like he can feel any kind of odor. There’s a plastic plate covered with another one on the counter; Dean lifts the one on the top and Castiel sees that there’s some mac and cheese in the one on the bottom. There’s a note under the plate. Dean picks it up; Castiel reads it from behind his shoulder.

I know you skipped dinner, you always do when you do turns there. Do me a favor and eat this, okay? Sam

Dean sighs, a small smile tugging at his lips. “Yeah, what would I do without you?” he mutters under his breath before grabbing a fork from the kitchen sink and sitting down. He’s done in maybe five minutes and doesn’t really think about anything, though Castiel observes him still. When he’s done, he puts the plate away, spares a look for what Castiel figures is supposed to be the bathroom and then shakes his head and gets into the room with the open door. Castiel follows him. It’s quite small: there’s a bed, a desk and a huge quantity of… things stored in what Castiel thinks is utter disorder. As Dean changes into an oversized t-shirt, Castiel notices four piles of books (the spines say Vonnegut, Bradbury, King, Ellison, Heller, Orwell, Iliad; from what he knows, this man does have eclectic tastes, even if for Castiel this really does not mean much at all), a stack of comic books, a poster with the face of a pretty not trustworthy person reading Jack Nicholson in The Shining, file folders presumably full of bills. There’s a couple of photographs (one is Dean and another young man some five inches taller and one with two kids, one of which has to be Dean, next to a man who looks surprisingly similar to the actor in the plane), too, and clothes are scattered pretty much everywhere.

Dean shrugs, thinks damn, I really should start tidying this crap. Wish I knew when, maybe on Sunday… unless I get called for that job, that wouldn’t be so bad if it happened, good money is good money after all then changes into a pair of pajama pants. He debates for a second whether to brush his teeth or not, then settles on lifting the covers and crawling into the bed. He’s out two seconds after his head hits the pillow; as Castiel looks at him, he can only feel how tired the man is. It’s so strong that it drowns everything else and Castiel keeps on looking at him. There’s something wrong; Dean is obviously tensing in his sleep and there’s a frown over his features. Castiel then finally does something for the first time that night (and he might have done it a lot before if he hadn’t just been too enraptured observing) and touches Dean’s shoulder gently. He expects it to be like with everyone else; he’ll barely feel a surface and Dean will not feel nothing except for the calm Castiel is supposed to transmit with his touch. He’s wrong. He still channels what he’s supposed to channel and that works; Dean’s features relax after a couple of seconds, his breathing is more even and that should be it, but it’s not. Castiel feels like he isn’t just touching skin which he isn’t supposed to feel (and he doesn’t feel it anyway); rather, his hand is meeting warmth and he can’t help thinking that in truth he’s actually touching Dean’s soul, and he knows that in millennia it has happened to him maybe three or four times. Even then it wasn’t like this. For a second he feels connected to Dean, and there’s a wave of that tiredness that washes all over Castiel and is so strong that he removes the hand on impulse.

What is strange is that Dean moves slightly in his direction, almost like he had felt that hand and was searching for it again.

He can’t possibly have felt it, Castiel reasons.

But then again, if he did, it would be a first. He wonders if it was a mistake. Then he looks at Dean again, his features relaxed and peaceful, his breathing even and deep, and Castiel thinks that it really can’t be.

He should go; his work here is over.

He doesn’t; he stays and only decides to leave when dawn approaches.

When he does, he realizes that whatever happened had made him sort of aware of Dean. As he leaves, Castiel can just feel the man’s location, almost the same as he could with Anna.

This is definitely not usual, but Castiel can’t bring himself to care.

--

He leaves at dawn; as he appears out of Dean’s room, the other closed door opens.

He decides to stay for another short while.

Another young man, the one whom Castiel had seen in the picture in Dean’s room the day before, gets out of the room, wearing some worn out pajamas, long-ish hair all over his face and looking like he needs a lot of coffee. He goes straight to the kitchen and Castiel can see that he’s relieved when he sees that Dean left dirty dishes in the sink.

Usually people have an entire different reaction when it happens, and this makes Castiel curious.

The young man, whom Castiel figures has to be Sam, gives the dishes a wash and then puts on a coffeemaker, while he loads a second one without opening the gas under it. He grabs some oatmeal from a cupboard, drowns it in milk and when he’s done he washes it with the coffee that got ready meanwhile. Then he grabs a pen and a notebook from the counter, scribbles something and leaves it on the table. His thoughts are mostly a jumbled mess, but Castiel found out that it’s a pretty common thing for humans, especially early in the morning.

Castiel doesn’t wait for him to get out before taking a look at the note.

Just turn on the gas for the coffee. Sorry, there’s no bacon anymore, I’ll try to buy some when I get back home tonight. I have a late class, hope to catch you anyway.

He didn’t sign it this time. Ten minutes later Sam is dressed and getting out of the door, a heavy backpack presumably full of books slung on his shoulders.

Now he’s thinking much more clearly.

... least I won’t be late today, yesterday I shouldn’t have overslept, and now I also need to worry about that damn final and then there’s that other installment to pay and they raised it again, damn it, I know that Dean won’t really mind it but I’m not sure I can do this for another two years, he’s already doing too much, if he only let me find some job, but of course I shouldn’t be distracted, what a... Christ, and I barely saw his face in four days, at least if he got some decent hours, but clearly he doesn’t, and that essay that we were supposed to get back today, I hope the mark was decent at least, I can’t afford anything less right now...

Castiel softly grabs Sam’s arm, feeling the man’s frustration slipping from every inch of his mind; Sam relaxes at once, thinking maybe it will actually be good and that I can pass that final and if the grades are good enough the load could get lighter and he could ditch at least the second job... before he runs out of the door to catch a bus.

Castiel lets him go and for the first time in months actually searches for the name of this street and the number. He memorizes the both of them, knowing that he will want to check on them again, and then he leaves.

--

Castiel loves libraries.

He thinks that it’s because whenever he steps into one, he feels like he’s walking on holy ground even if it’s not a church (but Castiel never visits churches, really; his purpose is not worshipping, his purpose is observing), but it’s a different kind of holy. It’s a kind of holy where there holiness is made of infinite single books, all different from each other but the purpose still the same. The silence is comfortable, all the thoughts he hears are hushed and quiet, people of all ages are in here; it’s a liturgy for which no one needs to be initiated. They just need to read.

He passes in front of people studying and once he tries to lift a pen from a table, but it’s just a mere shadow of it that is held in his fingers; he nods at Anna (he actually came here to see her, but he resolves to talk to her later when she’s done), who is bent over a fourteen-year old girl with a huge book opened in front of her as she chews on her pencil. He moves around the library for a while, not sure of what he’s searching for. Maybe some calm, because people in here are usually always calm. He stands a minute in front of an old man who reads the Odyssey, and for a moment he wishes he could hold a book in his hand and turn the pages, feeling the paper beneath his fingers.

--

He leaves the library and walks until he reaches a subway stop, readjusting himself to the flood of random thoughts which aren’t quiet anymore.

How am I going to pay with such a small pension...

Here come the young girls making eyes at men...


Castiel doesn’t stop though; he sees a man sitting at the end of the wagon, one who looks remarkably like he thinks he would look himself if he was made of flesh and not of spirit.

... disowned by your parents, betrayed by your wife, your friend’s in another town and your daughter barely remembers your face, probably. Well, Jimmy Novak, you really scored this time, damn, I just feel like slapping myself if I look in the mirror, just...

Castiel sits next to him and wraps an arm around his shoulder; suddenly the man’s thoughts steer away from the route they were on. He realizes that there’s something going on, that something is happening, right as Castiel’s hand rubs a circle on his shoulder; I’m still here, he thinks, and if I only want it... I can get out of it again, he thinks as he nods at himself, and with that Castiel smiles at him and stands up.

--

He knows he isn’t too far from Dean and Sam’s house as he keeps on walking slowly. He arrives in front of a small playground where he can see three young children wrestling and another one looking at them wistfully, thinking I’m all alone and looking at Castiel knowing that he’s there. Castiel smiles at him, hoping to encourage him some way. He nods in the other children’s direction and starts walking away as he sees that the child is moving towards them.

And then it happens again.

... Christ, why can’t people take care of their cars? Fuck this shit, if only they’d learn to drive and to bring them for a check more often I wouldn’t have to fix this kinda stuff. Sorry, I know it isn’t your fault, it’s totally your owner’s. ‘S a pity though;, you really are beautiful. Or you would be, if they only knew how to take care of cars. Anyway, that should be... there. Yeah, I think I got it, now let’s see if it isn’t a fluke...

Dean, Castiel thinks, unable to resist turning to his left from where the thought comes from. There’s a small auto shop and Dean is hunched over checking the engine of this car (Castiel can’t say whether it’s beautiful or not, but he’ll trust Dean’s judgement). When he lifts his head, there’s a smile gracing his features that just shows how happy he is with the work he’s doing. Surely happier than last night anyway.

That is, until a man who has to be around fifty and wears a baseball cap taps his shoulder.

“Dean?”

“Bobby? Yeah, what’s goin’ on?”

“Nothin’ much. Just this and those other two are the last ones for today.”

Seriously? What the hell?”

“Dunno, but when I realized it Isaac and Daniel were already workin’ on them. I’d have turned ‘em over to you if I had known before, but... anyway, if you wanna go when you’re done, that’s it.”

“Oh. Right, don’t worry. It’s fine. That’s not good though, right?”

“Nope. Not a bit. But who knows, we ain’t in danger of closing anyway.”

Dean nods and gets back to the car; for a good five minutes he just thinks about the engine and what he needs to fix. Then he takes a rag, cleaning grease off his hands, grabs a bag and gets out of the shop, waving at Bobby.

Then he starts to think again and it drowns out everything else just as before.

Fuck this. I really could’ve used some more money, and I know that Bobby already gives me his tips, and they still didn’t call for that other crap and they probably won’t, and now I just have another six hours before I need to get back to that other hole, hoping that at least they chose a decent act today. Sam’s not home and he won’t be until later tonight and I’m sick of this. If business closes here then I’ll be thoroughly fucked and damn, did Dad really have to die back then? Maybe we’d be in two bringing money in, not that it matters. It’s okay, just... oh, crap, why the hell am I even thinkin’ about this, I’ll just get home and wash my hands and catch some sleep. Yeah, good plan, or so it feels like at least...

Castiel can hear some kind of silent request in this man’s thoughts, a longing for something that Castiel can’t quite pinpoint. Maybe Dean is just impossibly alone when his brother isn’t around and he wishes for someone. He has watched humans for so long; he knows their reactions and he knows their needs and Dean doesn’t seem like a fairly complicated person. But then, what does Castiel know?

He follows him home, waits for him to shower, wondering why he doesn’t just touch him and ease his burdens once again. Dean only wears a couple of pajama pants when he gets back into the room. He crouches next an old LP player, turns it on and puts on a record (the cover says Led Zeppelin III; to Castiel it means nothing), then goes to lay on the bed, closing his eyes in utter exhaustion. He probably hasn’t slept much last night, Castiel figures.

The song he chose is slow; a nice rhythm, saying that that’s the way things have to be. He turns, giving his naked back to Castiel, and he’s probably getting sleepy because his thoughts are becoming messier by the second. Castiel can distinguish something about Sam and something about wishing how there could be someone else, and about how Zeppelin always make everything sort of better, before he starts fumbling with a clock and puts it next to his pillow.

Castiel’s hand reaches a naked shoulder, and strokes his fingers softly along smooth skin. He doesn’t feel anything other than last night’s warmth, but Dean closes his eyes and lets out a breath, so Castiel does it again. And again. And then his hand reaches Dean’s hair, with a slowness that is excruciating to Castiel himself, and he smooths it once, twice, thrice and then Dean is asleep and Castiel watches him for a short while. He had figured he’d wait for Dean to get up and head to the bar, but then the door of the apartment opens and closes and Dean opens his eyes two seconds later.

A light sleeper, Castiel thinks as Dean stands up and gets out of the room; it’s Sam.

“Weren’t you at college all day?”

“Nope. The late class got canceled. And weren’t you supposed to be at the garage?”

“Shortage of work. Bobby gave me the rest of the day off and I figured I’d catch some sleep.”

“You’re on shift again tonight?”

“Yeah. Don’t make me think ‘bout it. Anyway, I...”

The phone attached to the kitchen’s wall rings and Sam stands in order to answer it.

“Yeah? Uh, he’s here. Dean, it’s for you.”

“Who could... yes? I’m Dean Winchester, yeah... oh. Good. That’s great to hear. Yeah. Yeah, of course. When you said that it was? Tomorrow from seven to six in the evening? Yeah. I can take the time off, sure. Thanks. I’ll be there.”

“Dean, what...”

“You remember that time I did stunts for that tv show about the FBI agent?”

“Yeah, so what?”

“So I was in contact with someone from the crew, he called me last week to say they needed stunts for the same actor and if I was available in case, I said yes and now I guess I’ll have to ask Bobby for a day off. He’ll get that.”

“Dean, are you sure...”

“Sammy, I know what I’m doin’. And it’s not really dangerous. Also, they pay twice the sum of what I get at the bar in a month. It’s good money and we both can use that. And hey, you heard that that actor who looks like Dad’s in town?”

“Yeah, I read it in a newspaper. Some movie about some guy whose wife gets killed by a demon and hunts the supernatural to avenge her? That sounds like crap, dude.”

“Probably it is. Still, if I meet him tomorrow I’ll ask for a signature.”

“Yeah, sure. Like you’d really do that.”

“I could sell it on Ebay. You know how much money that would make?”

Sam half-smiles, and Castiel can see how affectionate it is; Dean half-smiles back and then goes to call Bobby. Castiel feels like he shouldn’t be intruding, so he resolves to wait downstairs.

--

Anna is downstairs, too; she’s still, waiting on the sidewalk, and gives him one of those warm small smiles of hers.

“Anna,” he tells her nodding, and she nods back. “Did anything new happen?”

“A man was in an accident and his last thoughts were for some movie he is never going to see. Did anything new happen?”

“Another man was considering suicide on the subway.”

Anna nods at him again and Castiel forces himself not to turn in Dean’s direction as he feels him getting out of the building.

“I noticed that you’re here often, lately,” she remarks, even if there’s nothing reproachful in her tone.

“I am finding this area interesting.”

She nods and disappears without asking any questions; Castiel turns and starts walking in the direction of that bar. He catches Dean getting inside the door and then notices a young woman standing outside. She’s blonde, with long, thick hair; she has heavy make-up and only wears a couple of shorts, a tank top and a jeans jacket two sizes too large for her. She walks up and down the road, shaking her head.

… if only he wasn’t gone. If he wasn’t gone I wouldn’t be doing this, and I just, why did I even come here? It’ll be just a few bucks, and just, what was I thinking when I gave Chastity for a name, that’s just ridiculous and that guy last day said he would pass, how much is it taking him to arrive? Maybe if he would I could make it good and quick and it’d be enough to go home, but that’s not happening, I know it’s not happening, dammit, I miss him, why did he have to go? Anyway, if I make fifty each night until next week I might reach five hundred, and then I could take some bus and leave, not going back because it’s not like they’d take me anyway, and just, if someone who knows me passes by, whywhywhy did I choose this street? So much traffic, too much traffic...

Castiel stops outside the door; he can feel her presence, he can see what she’s thinking about, some memory of her and her father before he left home and it probably has something to do with the girl’s situation in this moment. Castiel comes closer to her, reaching a hand around her waist, his lips close to the shell of her ear. He doesn’t feel anything under his fingertips as usual, Dean has been the only exception, but he can perceive the way her body relaxes almost suddenly, how she starts breathing more steadily. She takes a couple of breaths and Castiel doesn’t move until she thinks about just leaving and stopping by some counseling place she had noticed on the way here. Only then does he let her waist go, his fingers not feeling the warm skin of her hips, left uncovered by the shirt.

When she’s gone, he wonders if he should get into the bar, but he realizes that maybe it’s too much. He feels like he’s getting too close, like he’s overstepping boundaries; and he knows that sooner or later he will want to see Dean again, and he shouldn’t encourage it. He shouldn’t. So he turns his back to the door and starts working slowly along the road.

--

“Something is worrying you,” Anna says the next time they meet, and he really doesn’t want to contradict her. So he doesn’t.

“Maybe someone.”

“Castiel, you know that we can’t. I know it’s tempting, believe me. I did consider it once.”

“You did?”

“It was a lot of time ago but yes, I did. It’s only natural that we’d be curious about them. After all, we can’t really understand them, can we?”

“And did you reach any conclusion?”

“That falling isn’t really worth it, in the end. Renouncing eternity is too much, and for something so… so brief. Also, Castiel, you know we watch them all and try to help them all. It isn’t the custom to concentrate on one person only.”

Her hand slowly reaches out and squeezes his for a second; and even if she isn’t agreeing with him (he never was too attached to eternity, to be entirely honest), it still feels comforting.

“I know. I know. But there is… something about this person. It’s… different than with all the others. It’s like I have we have some connection on a deeper level than it usually is, but I’m afraid I cannot explain it. I have never experienced it before.”

Anna looks at him, her eyes detached as he figures his own are, even if he can feel that she isn’t feeling detached at all; but it’s just their way of being, it could not be different.

“It has never happened to me either. Castiel, are you sure you know what you are doing? Whatever this is, it could cloud your judgment and you know that there is a line beyond which we can’t interfere.”

“I do not intend to cross it.”

Her eyebrow raises, she doesn’t seem much convinced, but she does nod at him and then she’s gone. Castiel turns in order to watch the sun rise, dawn just barely started. The gates of a cinema set are closed behind him.

part II
 
 
feeling: okayokay
 
 
 
allisonucancallmeal on July 21st, 2013 01:50 am (UTC)
This is a wonderful story. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for writing and sharing it with all of us!