Inspired by this tumblr headcanon: post/25887474718
There was something missing from his eyes.
She couldn't quite place it, but some piece of that blue puzzle staring back at her was gone. Love? No, it couldn't be that. Even at the age of nine, she could tell that this man had been loved at some point in his life. Whether that was years before she was even an inkling of a thought or just this morning as he walked out of his home, she couldn't tell, but love was hidden away in the depths of his heart. Perhaps the missing link was something that she hadn't learned about yet. Some emotion that saved itself only for grown-ups . Nonetheless, she was determined to find out more about him and his unusually bright eyes. So, she approached the tall man in the trench coat, despite her friends' warning calls about how weird he was.
He was no stranger to the area – that much she knew. He often frequented the outskirts of the small junkyard, where nearby, the children would run amongst each other and play, thankful to be released from what little responsibility they held in their lives. He wasn't someone's father, though. He never approached the children. As a matter of fact, the young girl couldn't even remember a time when he even acknowledged them. He never spoke to any person, really. His attention was given only to the rusted black car that had sat on a patch of dead grass for as long as she could remember.
Regardless of this, he always made parents uneasy. Even now, she heard the worried calls, beckoning her playmates back into the safety of their identical brick houses. There was no call for her. Her father was still at work and she was certain the babysitter had fallen asleep in front of the television. So, she told herself, now was as good a time as any to learn about this stranger.
"Hello," his voice was hesitant when he noticed her presence, a questioning tone swimming within the single word he spoke.
"Hello," she repeated back, though certainly saying it more confidently than he had. She tilted her head ever so slightly to the left, black curls bouncing as she did so. "Who are you?"
Rather than answering her question, he paused and then said, "You should go home before your parents start to worry."
"Daddy's at work still," she huffed out a breath. "And Cheyenne – that's my babysitter – doesn't pay attention. I want to know who you are."
A light flashed in the man's eyes and for a moment she thought that he was going to laugh at her. Before any indignation could swell, he replied with, "I don't think what my name is matters, really."
"Of course it does. How else am I gonna say hi if I see you somewhere else?"
"You won't see me anywhere else." The words were quiet, as if he were still deliberating on saying them even as they left his mouth. Rather than cause her to lose interest, the girl just became more and more curious, but part of her couldn't help but worry that her new acquaintance was as weird as everyone said.
"Do you live here?" There was a moment's hesitation before the question. She wasn't certain where she meant by "here". Perhaps the junkyard. But if that were true, wouldn't he spend equally as much time with the other cars piled yards back?
He shook his head, confirming her own doubts. She pressed on. "Is this your car?" She tried to hide the disgust in her voice, desperate not to offend the stranger. She couldn't help but feel relieved when he shook his head once again.
The car really was a piece of garbage. Rust crawled up the sides, the front, and the back. If it weren't for the scraps of paint that held on to the hood for dear life, she wouldn't have been able to tell that it had been black. The tires were long gone. It had tires once, a few years ago, but someone had taken off with them for who knows what. The headlights were cracked and the last remaining rearview mirror was likely to fall off during the next storm. Through a destroyed window, she could see ripped leather seats and an open glove compartment, likely ransacked by the same individuals who had removed the tires.
She had been in it once, on a dare. While exploring she found D.W., S.W. carved into one of the doors. No one could tell her what the initials stood for, but they had sent a chill through her body strong enough to make her leave the car and never enter it again.
"It belonged to my friends," he had said, jerking her out of her own observations about the car. She whipped her head back around to look at the man. He suddenly looked much sadder – lonelier, even. As she tried to gather her thoughts for another reply, his demeanor made her wonder if these friends were the only ones he ever had.
"Are your friends D.W. and S.W.?" she asked. Her face grew hot when he became wide-eyed and hopeful, almost desperate that someone else shared this connection with him. "I went into it one time," she quickly added. "Only once. I didn't touch anything. I just saw those letters on the door."
"Yes." His voice seemed strained. "Sam and Dean Winchester."
She barely stopped herself from grinning. She didn't have his name, but she now knew who owned the car, which was more than anyone else in her neighborhood could say. "Are they related to each other?"
"They were brothers, yes."
"Are you related to them?"
Another pause. "No. Not by blood."
"Why don't you go see them instead of the car?"
"Why not?" In her excitement, she paid no attention to just how far-reaching her questions were becoming. "Are they dead? How'd they die? Why'd they leave their car here?"
"You're very curious," he said, sharper than any of his responses before. She cast her eyes to the ground, realizing that she had overstepped some sort of boundary.
"I just wanna know," she muttered. "This car's been here forever and no one knows where it came from or why it's so far away from the junkyard." She looked back up at him. "Or why you visit it all the time."
He let out a sigh and leaned against the hood of the car. It let out a small creak and for a moment, she feared that it was too weak to withstand even the weight of just one man. "It has a lot of sentimental value," he explained. "Sam and Dean practically lived in this car. It was the one constant thing they had in life."
"They… They worked on the road."
A ghost of a smile appeared on the man's lips. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you," he said.
She scowled and crossed her arms, her chest swelling. No way would she let this meeting in there. "I bet you I would."
"They hunted monsters."
"There's no such thing!"
"I told you."
They stood there quietly, eyes locked with each other, the girl questioning whether or not this not yet friend but not quite stranger was telling the truth. He in turn seemed to wonder if that was the end of their encounter. Part of her mind was ready to walk away, but the memory of their initials carved into the fabric kept her there.
"What kind of monsters?" she finally asked.
"All sorts. That was their job. Their life. Their mother had been killed by a demon and so they became monster hunters to bring her justice."
So many questions sprang to her mind from the one explanation, but she forced herself to keep them back. The more they talked about these Winchester characters, the more the man in the trench coat seemed to open up. She chewed her lip in contemplation before her brilliant idea came to mind.
"Well, mister," she said slowly. "If you won't tell me how they died, will you tell me stuff about when they were alive?"
A full smile graced his lips and she wondered how long he had waited to tell a willing soul about his friends. "I suppose I can do that," he glanced at the sky, "but we will have to start some other time – tomorrow, maybe. It's getting dark and I'd imagine your father will be home soon."
She nodded, trying to draw up as much authority as a child could have. "Okay, tomorrow. But now you have to give me your name, so I can say goodbye."
A chuckle. "My name is Castiel."
"Castiel? That's a weird name."
"It seems perfectly normal to me."
True to his word, Castiel began telling her of the extraordinary and utterly doubtful lives of Sam and Dean Winchester. Then again, he may not have had any say in the matter, as it was more likely that the girl would refuse to leave him alone than it was for him to abandon that car (which she soon learned was called an Impala). He told of long nights in cheap motels, of werewolf hunts and demon slayings. He told her of their physical and emotional strife. Of all their deaths and rebirths, which she found to be the most unbelievable ("How can someone die and then come back?" she had exclaimed. Castiel just smiled).
However, Castiel still seemed reserved on certain parts of the story. He would come to a detail centering on him and his own actions and stop as if reluctant to let her too much into his own life. At first she had been bothered by this, but after many unsuccessful pushes, she gave up and resigned only to small scowls whenever he paused.
The stories continued for weeks on end, until the days became cooler and the leaves fell to the ground, red and finished with their work. She began coming later and for shorter periods due to the obligation that was school, but Castiel was there still and she was eager, despite her busy days. She had grown attached to the Winchester boys and almost felt as if she learned more about their lives than anyone other than Castiel himself. The one thing she knew her friend had kept from her was their deaths.
But, like any ending to a story, it would soon approach.
She remembered the day they reached the end vividly. Clouds had hung in the sky threatening an early fall snow. She left the bus and ran into the house, telling Cheyenne she would be playing with friends before swiftly making her way to the junkyard, book-bag still in tow. Castiel greeted her with the usual "hello" and she realized that he had never demanded to know her name. Before she could properly, finally, introduce herself, he had already move on.
"Should we start where we left off yesterday?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah." She set her book-bag on the ground, leaning it against the Impala's rusted out rims. "We stopped right after the brothers' big fight when Dean turned bad."
"Dean didn't turn bad," he corrected. "He just couldn't bear his suffering any longer." While she didn't understand, she didn't argue. If anything, she learned that Dean was not a subject you argued with Castiel about.
"Okay, okay," she said. "Let's just keep going." Castiel huffed out a breath before doing as she asked.
This part of the story was much different – much darker, if that was possible. Something told her that she would be reaching the end soon. She only hoped and prayed that Castiel wouldn't gloss over any details because she was too young and it was too scary. He may have been a friend, but he was still an adult.
True to her worries, he stopped at Sam and Dean's final confrontation. Dean, finished with what he had been set out to do, had approached his younger brother. For the first time in forever, they sat across from each other at that familiar bunker table and shared beers, burgers, and memories. They seemed as close to happy as anyone in their situation could possibly be. The night was reaching its end and Sam was preparing to retire when Dean asked him –
"Dean asked him what?" she blurted out when Castiel refused to finished, head bowing.
"The story is finished," he muttered.
"Cas, please! You can't just stop there!" she jumped up from the broken leather seat of the Impala. "What did Dean ask him?"
It was when she stepped closer to the man that she realized why he stopped. Two tears fell from his eyes and dripped down the tip of his nose. They froze her. Never once during the saga had Castiel started crying. It was then she knew they had reached the end.
They stood before one another, the only sounds breaking the silence being migrating geese flying ahead. She just realized what time it was before Castiel choked out, "Dean couldn't live with himself."
She stared at her feet, unsure of what to say. She knew of death, but not quite to this severity. She tried to grasp a brother killing his brother before asking, "Why Sam?"
"He was the only one who could do it."
"But he was his brother."
She fell silent again, still unable to comprehend all of this. Years later, she would recall the conversation and fully understand just what the weight of love brought, but at that moment she could only tuck it away, too worried for Castiel to push him any further. "Well, what happened to Sam after that?"
"He lived the rest of his life in the bunker," Castiel replied. She couldn't bear to look at him and see the loneliness in his eyes that was only a fraction of what his heart could show.
"Alone?" she gasped.
"Well, I stayed with him as long and as often as I could." A sigh. "But there was a void in his life that I couldn't fill."
"Because Dean was gone." Castiel nodded and she frowned. "Well, then why didn't Sam just say no?"
"He wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to. But he knew his brother had suffered long enough. It was the last act of kindness that Sam could commit towards his brother. It haunted him until the day he died."
She gently took his hand, unable to give him the comfort he wanted, but desperate to do something. "They're in Heaven now, together. That's all that matters."
Castiel smiled. She was unsure how, but the twist of his lips managed to break her heart into pieces. "If only it were that easy."
"Is… Is Dean in Heaven?"
"I tried. I tried so hard to save him again."
At this point, Castiel was shaking. Even she felt tears fall down her face. Why did this story have to end so badly? Had it been truly impossible to save both of the broken down, beaten up heroes? She bit her lip. It was so unfair. Glancing at the car, she gathered her strength to ask the final question of Castiel's tale.
"So why do you visit the car?"
"I-it's all I have left," Castiel stammered. "This site meant so much – it means so much. This Impala was with them every step of the journey, even when I couldn't be. They rode in it, they laughed in it, they sang in it. It was an important piece of who they were." He ran a hand across the rusted hood. "It will always be an important piece of me."
"So why is it here at a junkyard?"
"This is where Sam left it." Cas stared out towards her neighborhood, his eyes searching for something. "Dean died here. He wanted to. Their home is in this neighborhood – where their family lived and their mother died. Dean felt if he came here to die, he could say goodbye to Mary and John one last time. And more importantly, in his eyes, he could apologize.
"When Sam recited the verse and Dean hit the ground for the last time, he was at a loss. He wanted to give Dean a proper burial, but after all they had been through, he finally decided that a hunter's funeral is what his older brother would want. So, he burned Dean's body over the patch of dead grass the car now rests on. After he finished and the flames had died, he drove the Impala above Dean's resting place and left without looking back. He couldn't afford to look back. I went with him, but I ended up coming back here. I'll always end up back here."
She wrapped her arms around Castiel's waist, pulling him into as tight of an embrace as she could. She tried to stifle her sob – it wasn't her that deserved to cry. Castiel's body radiated a certain warmth: one of love and passion and sadness and something else she couldn't identify. She felt him place his hand on her back, too tall to give her a proper hug.
"That is the end of my story," Castiel murmured. "Thank you for listening."
"Thank you for telling me." She truly meant it. Even at nine, she knew she would carry this story with her for years to come. Looking up, she saw Castiel cloaked in a ray of sunlight and she knew she just had to ask. "Cas, are you an angel?"
Castiel smiled. "You should return home before your babysitter becomes worried, Isabelle."
She blinked and he was gone.
Isabelle looked at the Impala, knowing that she would return to this site but feeling as though this was a final goodbye. She gently traced her fingers along the hood, similar to what Castiel had done. She heard Cheyenne call out her name and she knew her day around the car had come to an end. She rested her forehead against the rusted steel, breathed out a "thank you", and dashed back to her home.