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10 April 2011 @ 05:45 pm
the earth died screaming, 3/4  
He expects his house to be dust.

It’s actually the only one standing in the entire road. And there’s a light on in the lower floor.

Jimmy falls on his knees outside the path taking right up to his porch. The garden hasn’t obviously been cared for, but the path is still there and there are all kinds of such pretty flowers where Amelia’s roses used to be.

The brave new world isn’t that bad, on the vegetation side, but still.

Jimmy can’t stand up, he can’t do anything. That’s his house, it’s still up and someone has to be inside it and maybe that’s what Castiel meant, but he isn’t sure he can go in. Maybe it’s another vessel. Maybe it’s an angel. And if it is the only other human person on Earth, what could Jimmy say to them?

At least, he thinks he gets what Castiel meant when he said he had taken precautions. There has to be a reason why the house is not fallen down and why the garden looks so nice.

Still, who could the person inside be, anyway? No one survives for one hundred years. Jimmy knows he’s alive just because Castiel kept his body thirty-two for a century, but in the year he has lived in that tree, he has aged like one guy who lives in a tree would have aged in one year. He still isn’t exactly sure of the dynamics but there’s just no fucking way that there’s someone he knows inside.

“Jimmy,” Castiel says, and he sounds almost pleading, “I am… I’m not… please, go inside.”

He sounds wrecked, like someone who is coughing blood as he speaks, and that’s when it hits Jimmy full force.

Castiel told him before. He’s dying. He’s currently just a tiny speck of grace in Jimmy’s body and he’s going to die soon, and he has cheated Heaven this long but he can’t anymore. And while Jimmy has all the reasons to hate him, he’s still using his possibly last energies to give Jimmy something, which would still be a damn whole lot better than the nothing he has now. He’s trying to keep what’s left to keep of that promise he made a long time ago and Jimmy might be tired and pissed and he’d have rather died than known all of this, but he’ll be damned before he rejects the effort.

“All right,” he whispers, and stands up. He grabs his bundle with one hand and walks the steps up to his porch and opens the door.

He knows the open light is in the kitchen, so he moves there, on automatic. He opens the door and he almost screams when he sees someone sitting at his table.

This someone has light brown hair verging on dirty blonde and is wearing a leather jacket.

Then that someone turns.

And it’s Dean Winchester.

--

Dean Winchester, Jimmy’s head supplies. Not an angel. It takes just one look in his eyes to see that he’s human and that he isn’t a vessel. Especially that. Vessels have his eyes, but the eyes staring into Jimmy’s aren’t like that. There’s emotion flashing inside them, actually a whole heap of emotions (shock, fear, happiness, curiosity, but why not recognition?), and that automatically rules out the angel option, too.

“… Dean?” Jimmy whispers, and Dean stares at him and licks his lips.

“Are you a fucking real person? And… do you know me?” he asks back, and suddenly Jimmy’s body shivers with chills.

He has been in Dean’s space for the entirety of one single day one life ago, but he would recognize the voice everywhere. And he has the same mannerism. He holds himself the same way, even if his hands shake just a bit, and Jimmy has never seen him so bewildered.

But that question.

And Dean looks at Jimmy like he doesn’t know who he is. At all.

Which doesn’t make sense, because he damn well should, unless…

Oh, fuck.

“Don’t… don’t you remember me?” Jimmy asks, keeping his tone neutral.

“To be honest I don’t even know who I am either. I just. I woke up in here a while ago and… I don’t know. I had my clothes on and that was it. I didn’t even know my name until you told me ten seconds ago, unless you’re mistaking me for someone else.”

Jimmy feels a chill rising from inside his bones.

“You don’t… you don’t remember anything?” Jimmy asks, still careful, still neutral.

“Well. Something. Light. And… I said yes to someone. For some reason. But… nothin’ more. I… I dunno how much time I’ve been in here. But the few times I went out I met… strange people with eyes like mine who ask me who I’m waitin’ for and… they just creep me out and I don’t know what to say, so I figured I’d stay here. There was enough food. But I just don’t… do you know anything? About that?”

Dean almost looks hopeful now, like Jimmy could give him answers he has hoped to get for ages.

And Jimmy…

(It will be as it should.

We’ll build Earth in our image.

Michael will.

We have no right.
)

Jimmy thinks that if he had eaten something past this morning, he’d be throwing up. He remembers that dream well enough.

He thinks instead of speaking. He’s sure it’d work either way.

He said yes to Michael because your former family probably found him a good reason to do it, Michael possessed him, then when angels were done wiping the human race out they re-made us as vessels and they used Dean for… for some kind of model zero and then Michael left and he wiped his memories, and since he was there he killed you before going back home? Jimmy thinks at Castiel, hoping against hope that he’s wrong.

“Yes,” Castiel says inside his head, and he sounds so sad that Jimmy can’t help feeling sorry for him.

“Hey, you said you know something?” Dean interrupts, and Jimmy focuses on him again. “Can you… can you give me some answers? Did we know each other?”

“Yes,” Jimmy answers, moving slowly so that he sits at the table, too. Dean sits back and he lets out a breath of relief.

“Christ, you don’t know how good is it to see someone… like me around, I guess. Those… those other ones, they’re just… they’re freaky, y’know?”

“I do,” Jimmy answers, and then Dean raises his head and looks at him again.

“So? Can you… I dunno, tell me something more?”

“Yes. Your… your name is Dean Winchester. Does it… say anything to you?”

Dean shrugs. “It feels right, I guess. I didn’t have an idea.”

“Okay. I am Jimmy. Jimmy Novak. This… this used to be my house. Does it remind you of anything?”

“Nope. Sorry, man, it’s all…”

“It’s okay. You… well, you had a brother. His name was Sam. But by this point I think that I can safely say that he’s dead.”

“He is,” Castiel supplies, but Jimmy doesn’t report it.

“I… I don’t remember him. At all. Or my father. Or my mother. Or anyone,” Dean asks, sounding merely resigned. “And… what’s this? I mean, it’s… I know it’s wrong. I know it wasn’t like this at some point before, even if I don’t remember how it was. Who are they? What…”

“Dean. I have the answers. But… they might sound crazy. Will you… will you try to believe me?”

“Hey, seems like you’re better off than I am. Shoot. I had a feeling they might be crazy, anyway.”

“Things used to be different, yes. But… well, the apocalypse happened. These are the results. It was… it was angels who did it. And one of them was possessing you.”

Dean’s hand shakes and he becomes paler by the second, but he holds Jimmy’s stare while biting his lip.

“How does an angel possess you?” he whispers, and Jimmy looks at his own hands.

“They ask you and you say yes.”

“Why would I have done that? And how do you know?”

“Because I said yes, too, but the one inside me tried to stop it. And I figured the one inside you must have given you good enough reasons to do it.”

“That’s why I remember saying yes to someone?”

Jimmy nods and for a long while they don’t say anything.

“It was one hundred years ago,” Jimmy says then, breaking the silence. “You and me are left because… well, the angels in us… the one in me got killed and yours just left you and went back home I guess.”

“And he took my memories with him?” Dean supplies, and at least he sounds like himself.

“Yes, but I think that before he sort of used you… for some kind of template. For them. That’s why they have your eyes.”

“Who the fuck was possessing me, the boss of them all?” Dean almost shouts, and Jimmy can’t help chuckling. It stops when he hears Castiel half-chuckling, too. At least Dean hasn’t changed that much, memories missing or not.

“You could say that,” Jimmy says, and then he shakes his head. “You don’t know how much I missed a normal conversation.”

“But what the fuck are they anyway?”

“They? Oh, they’re like us, just new and improved. They don’t need much food, they don’t need clothes, they don’t need anything at all actually, and if the angel they’re made for needs to possess them, he doesn’t even need to ask permission because that’s all they think they exist for. Neat, right?”

“… what the fuck,” Dean comments.

“Amen,” Jimmy replies, and then he decides he needs to ask the one thing he’s terrified of asking.

“Dean, can I… if I say Castiel, does that remind you of anyone?”

Dean stares at him for a handful of seconds, his face concentrated, like he’s trying hard to remember it, but then he shakes his head in defeat.

“Nope. Zero. Should it?”

It sounds horrible, but Jimmy thinks that Castiel, right there, or what’s left of Castiel now, is crying.

I’m sorry, he thinks, hard, because he is. After all, Castiel… Castiel did it all for Dean and now he’s dying inside Jimmy and…

And Dean doesn’t even remember him.

“I knew,” Castiel’s voice replies, and it’s so tiny and so impossibly sad that Jimmy thinks that if Castiel asked him to say yes again now so that he could at least say goodbye to Dean in person, he probably would agree. “I have known all along. It’s… it’s better like this.”

“Are you crazy?” Jimmy thinks at him. “He doesn’t even remember you!”

“Do you think he would have been able to live with himself if he had his memories?” Castiel replies, sounding even more sad. And well, Jimmy has hosted Castiel enough to know that Dean would have probably killed himself on the spot.

“No, but it’s still not right,” Jimmy objects.

“Jimmy, none of this was right. And for it, I am sincerely sorry.”

“Stop apologizing!”

Screaming inside your head isn’t a nice experience, but Jimmy can’t start talking to himself with Dean in front of him.

“It wasn’t your fault. You tried to stop it, at least.”

“I still ruined your life,” Castiel answers, tired, and Jimmy knows that there’s not much time left.

“I… it’s still better than just dying without even knowing why, right? Listen, if… it’s useless by now, but if it’s any good for you, I forgive you.”

Suddenly Jimmy feels warm.

There’s heat coming from somewhere in the left side of his breast, almost pulsing, almost like a second heart. Dean is staring at him like he’s behaving strangely.

If only he knew.

“Thank you,” Castiel says, and Jimmy feels almost flooded, like Castiel was about to possess him again and –

“No, I am not. I couldn’t even if I wanted to,” Castiel answers, sounding just a tiny bit amused, “but… could I ask one last favor of you?”

“Well, let’s hear it.” Jimmy couldn’t have said anything else, right?

“Keep… keep an eye on him. But I think you would have done it anyway, wouldn’t you?”

“Hey, not only the second last man on Earth but one I used to know? That’s good enough for me.” He paused. “You didn’t want to ask me that.”

“No, you’re right. That wasn’t what I wanted to ask you. If… if you ever feel inclined to tell him who I was, one day… I would appreciate it,” Castiel says, and the heat is fading away and Jimmy wishes he could just stop it.

He can’t.

“Okay,” Jimmy says, and if he could see Castiel right now, he thinks he’d see him smile.

“Thank you,” Castiel answers, and then Jimmy feels suddenly cold and empty and…

And.

And Castiel is gone. Forever.


“Hey, man, are you… what’s going on? You look freaked out,” Dean says, coming to Jimmy’s side, one hand on his wrist, and Jimmy just shakes his head and takes a breath.

“It’s okay. I just, I had a moment. You know, I have been living in a tree for a year and you’re the first real person I’ve talked to since I woke up a year ago. I’m… overwhelmed?” he says, and Dean just shakes his head and drags the seat close.

“Well, I’d have more than a moment if I were you. I think I need a fucking moment myself, if only to process the whole thing.”

“I can believe that,” Jimmy whispers.

And then it just… it comes crashing down on him.

He’s sitting in his kitchen in his house, Dean Winchester is in front of him and while he doesn’t remember his brother or Jimmy or Castiel he’s in one piece and he’s human, and Castiel was real and now he’s gone and Jimmy had thought he wasn’t real for one year, and Amelia is gone and Claire is gone and…

In his previous life, Jimmy Novak never acted much on impulse, but his previous life is over forever and he doesn’t know he’s hugging Dean to death until he has done it already.

He almost gasps when Dean hugs him back but he just…

He never knew how he missed human contact until just now, and Dean probably didn’t either or they wouldn’t be clutching at each other even if Dean doesn’t remember him and Jimmy knew him for two days and those were the two worst days of his previous life. But it feels good, it feels real, it feels more perfect than heaven on earth does, and well, things might be fucked, but at least it’s two of them and just for that it beats what Jimmy has been doing until now.

They stay like that for a long time and then they move away a bit, arms still touching, and Dean half smiles up at him.

“Are you crying because you’re really that happy to see me or what? Were we best friends or somethin’?” he asks, almost joking, and Jimmy wishes he could say no, but you and the angel inside me probably were. He hadn’t even realized he was crying, but you’ll forgive him. He’s had a tough day.

“You and me, not exactly, but I knew someone with whom you kind of were. And… sorry. I’m not sure I’m really dealing well with this.” What can he say?”

“Man, believe me, I’m not either. But… you think we could stick together now? I just… I’m not sure I can take staying alone much longer. It’d be kind of awful if you kicked me out, right?”

“It would. And I think us… us real people should stick together, too. We could… maybe stay here for a while and then figure it out. I’m not ready to go back to sleep in a tree,” Jimmy says, and Dean nods in sympathy.

“Yeah, good point. And maybe… well, I guess you could tell me stuff? I just… I don’t remember anything but seems like you know stuff and… I’d like to know that. Even if I can’t remember living it,” he adds, quietly, and Jimmy can’t keep himself from nodding at that. They’re still half-hugging, but he isn’t sure he’ll move anytime soon.

“Sure. I think I have enough to keep you entertained.”

“Yeah, and who’s my supposed best friend anyway?” Dean asks, and Jimmy was the closest to happy he could get until one second ago. But as soon as Dean asks that, he has to breathe to gather himself.

“I asked you if Castiel reminded you of someone,” Jimmy asks, sitting down again. Dean does, too, and he leans with an elbow on the kitchen table.

“You did. And… nada. What, that was his name?”

“Yes,” Jimmy answers, mirroring the position.

“Well, you look like you need a burger and there was some dried meat around. Want me to make you one while you tell me about him? For some reason electricity works in here,” Dean says, and his eyes are warm and Jimmy regrets that he hasn’t thanked Castiel for the precautions he took.

“Sounds like a good offer to me. All right, I’ll have that burger.”

“Good. So, who was this Castiel guy?”

Jimmy smiles in spite of himself. “He wasn’t a guy. He was an angel. And you called him Cas.”

He starts talking and tells all of the story he knows, not omitting anything.

And even if the world is still fucked up, if they’re the only two other human beings alive on this planet and if Jimmy is sure that while he hasn’t gone insane for a miracle some part of him will always be fucked up, and if everything is far from all right, it still… for the first time in a year, thinking about what happens next doesn’t make him want to throw up.

He also highly doubts that things will get better or that they will find other people or that Heaven on Earth is ever going to become just Earth again, but at least he has a reason to keep on being around. It’s a whole lot more than he’d have hoped for a month ago.

epilogue
 
 
feeling: okayokay
on rotation: dirt in the ground - tom waits