A/N: Okay, first of all, was that not an AMAZING episode? There was no way I could get to sleep before cranking out this plotbunny. This is going to be an introspective piece to "The Rapture", with several different points of view set to different scenes.
Disclaimer: Supernatural and all its affiliates belong to Eric Kripke.
Jimmy Novak was not a violent man.
Perhaps that was one of the things that Amelia McShane liked most about her husband. She herself was of a sweet temperament, always the last one to fly into a temper if she ever did at all, always patient and caring. Self-professed love gurus who supposedly calculated one's eternal soulmate always said that opposites attracted, but that simply wasn't the case here. The shy, soft-spoken, amiable English literature major had finished graduate school with honors and was about to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher- but then she met Jimmy.
He was a wonderful man; smart and handsome, charming and funny- all any girl ever wanted in a mate for life. By some stroke of bad luck, the economy dipped just as Amelia found out she was pregnant with Claire, Jimmy lost his place in the firm and their financial situation nosedived. She'd never seen a man so miserable, but throughout their difficult situation, he managed to keep his head.
And his faith. By God, this man was the quintessential Christian man, upstanding and loved by all simply because of his genuinely good nature. Amelia didn't think she ever heard one dirty comment from Jimmy's mouth; never a stern scolding when Claire happened to be watching T.V. before she finished her homework. No, whenever a difficult situation presented itself, her husband simply sat down, folded his hands and closed his eyes, sending up a prayer to Heaven.
He was always the calm one, the one who with his kind eyes and gentle smile would make everything alright in the world again, even if everything had gone to hell, even if the world was tumbling down around their ears, one look at those stunning sapphire eyes would put her heart at rest. He was self-sacrificing and loving, willing to do anything for her- he prepared dinner, for goodness sake, and most nights of the week too because Jimmy was one hell of a fine cook.
Naturally then, when she'd walked into the kitchen one afternoon and saw her husband standing there with his arm stuck in a vat of boiling water all the way up to the elbow, Amelia thought she'd gone insane. But the way he smiled reassuringly at her, and the words, what he'd said after she dropped the groceries and ran over to him would remain forever burned in her mind-
"It's alright. He told me to do it; to prove my faith."
Things got progressively worse over the next few months. At first, after the compulsory trip to the hospital during which the doctors examined his forearm and proclaimed not a single hair to be even singed and the man himself to be in fine mental health, she'd pleaded with him to go see a psychiatrist. Jimmy had simply taken her into his arms, kissing her on the forehead and said that everything was going to be alright, and to simply have faith.
He went anyway, and came back with a prescription for anti-psychotic medicine which Amelia immediately pounced upon and prodded her husband to take. Not that they did any good.
She would catch him looking out the window during the middle of a conversation, staring intently at nothing at all; he was always tilting his head to the side as if listening to a conversation only he could hear and with such a look of awe, of peace upon his features- it scared her. She begged him to talk to her; maybe if the shrink wasn't fixing her husband, she could. After all, they'd been married for nearly thirteen years and had known each other since their college days; surely she could right whatever was ailing her husband.
She was wrong.
The words left his mouth were excited and passionate; there was a fire in his cerulean eyes that she'd never seen before, and all Amelia could comprehend was that she didn't know this man. This wasn't the Jimmy that tucked Claire in at night and kissed her goodnight on the forehead, this wasn't the Jimmy that sold radio ads, this wasn't the Jimmy that went over to Roger's house on the weekends to kick back with a couple of beers while watching the game. This wasn't her husband.
She tried to reason with him, she tried to bring him back to his senses but there was nothing she could do to persuade him of the fact that angels were not talking to him, there wasn't some spirit named Castiel telling him to do things and to please, please, please take the pills the psychiatrist had prescribed. Soon, even she couldn't take it anymore. And as much as she knew that Jimmy loved Claire, she couldn't let her husband's mental illness affect their daughter too.
So she issued him an ultimatum in the calmest way she could, but in reality, it was all she could do not to rip her hair out and scream in frustration as the tears glided down her face, as Jimmy took the pill bottle from her and deliberately set it aside. When he told her to have faith.
Amelia never believed that he would really leave.
She was frantic. Claire was confused and sad, the neighbors were curious and worried but as the days passed into weeks, the weeks into months and then into nearly a year, she felt the urgency at finding her husband slowly melting away into a deep-rooted sorrow. Their anniversary came and went. Jimmy didn't show up. Claire's birthday passed- she was twelve now. Jimmy always cooked up a feast for her, complete with a sheet cake that could've fed a small army; it was always red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.
There was no birthday cake this year. There was no Jimmy.
But then he showed up again, out of the blue, with just the ring of the doorbell and there was her husband on the front stoop, still wearing that god-awful trench coat that made him look like a beige rectangular prism with legs and with such a doleful look in those eyes that pleaded for her forgiveness so fervently. She almost forgot the months of sleepless nights, crying into the pillow as she clutched his nightshirt to her chest because it still smelled like him and when she closed her eyes tightly she could still imagine and make-believe that he was still here.
She wanted to rail at him, to ask how dare he disappear like that, to hit him- God forgive her, she wanted to slap him so badly for what he'd done. But she couldn't and Amelia knew that she would never do such a thing. She loved her husband from the bottom of her heart, insane or of sound mind. He had never laid a harmful hand upon her because Jimmy Novak was not a violent man.
But as she stood there, horrified, watching her husband swinging the beer bottle at their neighbor and his longtime friend, screaming something at her- He's a demon!!- Amelia knew that when her husband had walked out the door eleven months ago, he'd left for good.
Jimmy wasn't coming back.
"Jimmy. My name's Jimmy."
"Where the hell is Castiel?"
Gone. As in not present here at the moment, or accounted for anywhere else. Missing. Departed. No longer available. It was strange, how such simple words could carry such heavy meaning, such grave implications. Although Dean would never admit it out loud, there'd been more than a flash of panic that had risen up within him upon seeing Castiel lying on a heap amongst the wreckage; it'd been instant alarm that sparked in his consciousness at the prospect of having to carry on, of having to fight this near-impossible battle without an angel on his side or on his shoulder.
This Jimmy Novak definitely wasn't Castiel, though. Sure they looked the same because Castiel had been possessing the man- well now wait, that wasn't entirely correct. The rumpled suit and knotted navy tie were the same as was the dark brown hair. But there was something missing in Jimmy's eyes that clearly set him apart from the angel.
Castiel's eyes were piercing sapphire, penetrating past facades and lies, past the mortal limitations of man and past the flesh to strike deep into the soul. The angel had a gaze that was unnerving to say the least and downright scary at other times; and a voice that resounded with authority to match. Jimmy though, his gaze was softer, his voice higher and clearer, his eyes a shade of faded cerulean. And his words…
"All I want to do is go home and see my daughter and my wife."
Dean shook his head. The guy deserved a break alright, there was no denying that. Being the vessel of an angel wasn't easy, dealing with demons and skeptical hunters who shot him with rock salt and tried to bury a demon-killing dagger into his heart. When he put forth this adamant statement, the elder Winchester had no qualms about letting him go because this wasn't Jimmy's place, chasing down demons and trying to prevent Lucifer from rising, stopping Lilith from breaking the seals. No, Jimmy had a family, a wife and a kid; he lived in a nice two-story home in the suburbs, probably with a nice little lawn and a front porch.
This was his life, his and Sam's. They had no home; their world was composed primarily of shoddy motel rooms and the interior of that '67 Chevy Impala that was somehow, by the grace of God, still running after all these years. Perfect for going on cross-country trips, for catching the attention of the ladies and for redheaded angels to pop up in the backseat out of thin air.
"He got sent back home."
Anna's words struck a chord deep within the hunter. Castiel hadn't gone back to that mythical somewhere over the rainbow willingly; he'd been dragged back. And it had been painful.
Angels weren't supposed to feel pain. They were soldiers of righteousness, Heaven's warriors, and they blew trumpets and poured out God's wrath upon the sinful peoples of the Earth or whatever the book of Revelations proclaimed. Castiel would've never fallen to a mere bullet. He would have never grunted in pain as he fell to his knees, clutching his abdomen as blood leaked out and seeped over the edges of shaking fingers.
But Jimmy did.
Standing there, arms twisted behind his back by the demons who'd managed to get the jump on both him and Sam (some plan, huh?), Dean flinched at the sound of the gunshot, he flinched and gaped as Castiel's vessel dropped to the dirty grey floor of the warehouse, gasping as his life literally leaked out from between his fingers.
"I've been shot, stabbed, and healed. My body's been dragged all over the Earth and I- I'm done."
There was no angel this time around to heal Jimmy because Castiel was gone.
But this was the way things had to be, wasn't it? War had its victims. Soldiers and innocents alike because the enemy didn't matter if you were young or old, they didn't matter if you were devout or a pagan; all the demons cared about what dragging your soul down into the depths of Hell, to bring them down into the depths of depravity for eternal torment.
When he was down in Hell, he could still dream and he told Alastair that he'd dreamed of ways to torture the white-eyed demon- but he'd also dreamed of the past. Of Kansas. Of home.
Dean was tired. Cas was gone. He was done.
He wasn't a medical student. He'd barely passed biology in high school, having gotten a D no matter how hard he studied because the material simply didn't stick. Jimmy liked to think of himself as a pacifist. Instead of becoming a martyr and making speeches about dreams he had or going on hunger strikes, he put his faith in God and let things simply run their course.
Love thy neighbor as yourself. Turn the other cheek.
He'd grown up in a shabbier area of town but had always managed to escape the trailer park kids with their stolen pocketknives and guns they'd stolen from their parents' safe. Being raised in such rough environments was probably what prompted him to adhere to the Lord's words of humility, gentleness, patience. Love. He'd never really familiarized himself with the concept of physical pain because he'd never really been a violent man. It wasn't in his nature.
Over the past few months though, Jimmy had become… very knowledgeable of the sensation. True, while he'd been used as a vessel, no actual harm came to him personally, but it didn't mean that he didn't feel everything that the angel was putting his body through. There was the rock salt that packed more than a punch, knives and fists that pummeled him and all he could wonder was why in the world he hadn't had the foresight to take self-defense lessons when he was a teenager. Maybe then, he wouldn't be getting beat down to the floor in half of these altercations.
But as the bullet tore through flesh to ricochet against his internal systems, ripping through the intestinal wall and fragmenting to scatter throughout his abdominal area and chest cavity, Jimmy could think of nothing but the blinding pain as it streaked white hot across his vision. He was vaguely aware of the fact that he was no longer standing, body suddenly to heavy for his shaky legs to support and he gritted his teeth as numbness spread through his limbs-
"Waste little orphan Annie." It was Amelia's voice but that was most certainly not his wife speaking and anger bubbled up in his chest as he raged silently against the angel that had used him, had taken him away from his family. You promised that my family would be safe, Castiel. You promised!! Now his daughter was about to die at the hands of a man who looked like a UFC reject and his wife was being possessed by a demon from Hell.
He could remember the first time he'd encountered the angel, the first time he'd heard Castiel's voice. The whispers were distinguishable from the white noise and the static if he was just willing to listen- and by Heaven, the voice of an angel was the most beautiful symphony he'd ever heard. Immediately afterwards, he'd stuck his entire arm in a vat of boiling water and nearly scared his wife to death afterwards. But Jimmy could remember being ecstatic at the prospect of being able to serve the Lord in such a way, being able to do something more.
Have faith, he had said to Amelia.
I am not your Father, Castiel had said to Claire.
Claire, oh merciful God, Claire. His daughter was bound helpless, tied up to whatever she was sitting on as death approached and here he was, lying on the grimy floor, unable to save his little girl, unable to even move-
He saw her then, moving past him with an air of extraordinary calm and with a cool demeanor that no twelve year old was capable of. Relief welled up but was quashed with an iron fist when his daughter turned and fixed him with a steady stare. Jimmy knew those eyes, he knew that expression and it did not belong to Claire.
"Castiel," he whispered.
His head fell back against something hard and he tried to breathe. A rattling sound filled his chest and the action caused another swipe of agony to fill his vision. If Castiel was inhabiting Claire now, then that meant- No. Dear Father in Heaven, no. It was logical, yes. After all, how much use would he be with a hole in his stomach? But he couldn't let them take her; she was just a little girl, she was his little girl and Jimmy wasn't about to let his daughter go through what he himself had agreed to, he couldn't.
Small hands were grasping either side of his face and he knew they belonged to Claire because he felt the slight scrape of rough fingernails against his cheek. She always bit her nails, a nervous habit that she'd picked up from somewhere and at the moment, Jimmy was struck with the absurd and nostalgic thought that at least something had remained the same after he'd left.
He looked up into his daughter's face but it wasn't his daughter he was staring at; behind the familiar features he saw the holy light of the angel's face and the majestic strength in the hands that calmly held his head steady, silently commanding his attention. "Castiel," he uttered again. Don't take my daughter you son of a bitch, don't take my little girl. She has no part in this, you said God chose me; Claire still has her whole life ahead of her and she doesn't have to deal with angels and demons- I'm her father, damn it, let me shoulder the burden!
The angel was speaking to him now, saying something about gratitude and about going home. Darkness closed around the edges of his vision and shapes were starting to get fuzzy, cold fingers wrapped around his form and beckoned to him, told him to let go- but Jimmy resisted. He didn't want to go to Heaven, not now. He couldn't. "Claire-"
"She's with me now. She has your blood…"
No! "No, don't take her, take me!" He could barely comprehend the words coming out of his mouth and his entire body was going cold even as the warm stickiness kept leaking out of the hole in his abdomen to stain his fingers a crimson red, all he knew was that he had to keep conscious; it was all he could do for Claire. For Amelia. To keep them safe.
Castiel was staring at him intently and he could almost hear the chorus of angels in Heaven, welcoming him home but goddamn it, he didn't want to go. "It doesn't matter," Jimmy gasped, a dying rasp. He would bear the brunt of a thousand stab wounds, a hundred thousand beatings and even dip down into Hell for the sake of his wife and child, because they were worth it, because he loved them. "Take me."
The angel blinked once. "As you wish."
Overwhelming brightness enveloped him, as it happened the first time and in the last moments of consciousness Jimmy could feel himself peeling away from his surroundings and becoming confined to some inner space within his body; he could no longer see or feel anything. Not the wounds on his body knitting themselves back together, not the pain, nothing as he gave himself completely to the Lord. His eyes were now Castiel's eyes, his hands the angel's hands, his voice and his body all at the celestial being's command. He would go wherever the angel decided to take him but Jimmy didn't care.
Eyes of sharp sapphire blue landed on the vessel's daughter and wife and Castiel turned away. Heaven had work for him.
A/N: Eh… not exactly the ending I had in mind, but I hope it worked out. What did you think? Reviews would be much appreciated!