Title: Rain Falling Down Around My Ears
Author: Maychorian
Characters: It's a surprise
Category: Gen, AU, my usual
Rating: PG13
Warning: (At end, in case you'd rather go in not knowing. It's spoilery for the story.)
Spoilers: Through S4
Summary: Something was wrong about this body. This shell of flesh, it should have been bigger. Larger, stronger, taller. It had been bigger not that long ago. Hadn't it? It had, he knew it had...
Word Count: 4860
Disclaimer: Tragically, they continue to not belong to me. :(
Author's Note: This is going to be a 'verse. Probably a huge, sprawling, too-ambitious AU 'verse. But I'm going to try to do it in a series of completed one-shots, like this, instead of my usual serialized WIPs.

Rain Falling Down Around My Ears

Rain pattered down on the world outside, running hard over wood like drumming fingers, hitting the windows in the next room with the sharp clatter of something small and mischievous seeking entrance. He could a feel a coolness brought by the rain, a relief to the close, cramped heat of the small space he was in, small but there. He thanked God for the rain, for the brief comfort of it. It was more than he'd had for a long time.

He hurt and his throat was dry, body gummed with dried sweat and something else. Small hands opened and closed, trembling with the movement, unable to clench into fists. It was something, though, proof that he was still living. Swallowing brought with it an ache and a burn, tearing at already abused muscles, and he quickly gave it up.

Something was wrong. He knew it, but he couldn't...he couldn't remember. He couldn't remember anything. All before this room was a confused jumble, dark and chaotic. And everything in this room was dark, close, stuffy. Yet somehow he knew that there had to be light somewhere. He wished he could remember what it looked like, wished he could close his eyes and bathe in it, let it wash away his pain and weariness, the brokenness in this mind and body.

Something was wrong with this body. He could feel bones moving inside, bones that should be still, and there was a profusion of pains both sharp and dull. He lay where he was and could not rise, no matter how he wished to, able only to open and close his hands, to breathe in the dark and listen to the rain.

More than that, though...something was wrong about this body. This shell of flesh, it should have been bigger. Larger, stronger, taller. It had been bigger not that long ago. Hadn't it? It had, he knew it had, he'd been wearing it for over a year and it had never been this small, this fragile.

Castiel blinked in the dark. The chaotic jumble of memories slowly settled in his mind, patches of it clearing like fog lifting from a landscape ruined by earthquake, tumbled rocks and torn earth. Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.

It wasn't...he wasn't the one controlling this body. The quiet, careful breathing, the wide-eyed blinks, the rhythmic opening and closing of the battered hands, the fearful hammering of the heart. He wasn't doing it. It wasn't his choice.

He was trapped.

What happened? I must remember. I must fix this.

His heart started beating faster, and his mouth opened, a small, young voice shrill and terrified in the close darkness. "Who said that? Who's here?"


Jimmy Novak.

Castiel's mind went white.

The world ended bloody. Castiel saw it all, and he was there at the end when everything went up in flames.

Dean was dead on the ground, intestines hanging out of his mangled gut like broken rope. His brother stood over him, laughing with bloody teeth. His eyes were golden and Lucifer looked out of them. But Castiel could hear the boy inside, screaming. He'd only ever wanted to be safe, to be normal, to be good, and this was the ultimate perversion of his every desire.

Angels fell around them in tattered wings and golden fire, meteors brought to the ground and seized by shadow. Anna was defiant to the last, but she fell, bright hair black with blood. Zachariah died with a look of terrible surprise. He had thought it would all work out to his ends. This hubris was his downfall, and that would have been horrifying enough, for an angel of such high rank and station to miscalculate so badly and cause his own defeat. But he had brought the entire planet down with him, too, and that was unbearable.

There was no paradise. There was only fire. Fire, and death, and darkness, and evil triumphant.

Castiel was the last angel standing, mainly because he was aware of his own limitations and usually did his best to stay out of the direct line of fire. He was support, a ground trooper to his brothers' and sisters' air strike, always had been. He had lurked around the edges of the battlefield, doing what he could where he could, trying to keep an eye out for the Winchesters. He had failed, too. Just like everyone else in the whole entire world.

A demon grabbed Castiel from behind, enormous long arms wrapped around his torso, trapping his wings, crushing them, squeezing his borrowed lungs and wrenching a gasp from him. Castiel bucked and kicked himself backward into the solid chest behind him, twisted, struggled, couldn't get free. He couldn't get free. Sulfurous breath chuckled in his ear, low and eager, and claws dug into his arms and side, tearing bloody furrows in Jimmy Novak's flesh.

The world was dying around him and Castiel was at the end and there was nothing left, nothing. Dean was dead and Sam was possessed and it was all wrong, every last thing. Castiel thought then that if angels had tears in them, certainly his would be falling now. But his eyes were dry and his heart was ice. It was too late and there was no way to fix things, no way to fix anything.

Too late... The demon huffed in Castiel's ear, burning breath scorching his flesh, and Castiel winced and turned his face away. His death was coming and he knew it, but he could not welcome it, even now. It was too late, it was all too late, but he couldn't give up. Dean wouldn't give up. Dean never gave up.

It was too late, and that meant... The only way to fix things, to change this awful ending, was to start again. Go back to the beginning. Try once more. There was no time to ask permission. There was no one to ask. It was all on Castiel, it was his decision, and he knew now what he would do.

The demon holding Castiel thrust out a single claw, digging in between his ribs, a sharp nudge of pain barely noticeable against the pounding in his head. Castiel drew a breath, and then he threw himself backward.

Something went wrong. The journey should have been instaneous, a step from one time into the next, easy as passing from one planet into the other. The white fire of divine grace, edged with the golden glow of God's sight, God's approval. But this journey into the past was accompanied with fire, smoke, blinding pain.

The demon. The demon had latched onto Castiel, was riding with him. Castiel fought again, bucking, lashing out with grace and flesh and everything he had, but he still could not free himself. His heart was caught in his throat, choking him, and everything was drowning in furious sparks of red and white.

A rending crash, like hitting a wall, and the demon tore free with claws digging deep gashes in Castiel's spirit as the creature was forcibly removed from his essence. Castiel tumbled and rolled to a stop, crashing and rebounding. He could not see what he was hitting, but he felt every impact, jarring his bones and clattering his teeth together.

At last he fell still, and then he knew nothing for a long time.

The small hands were clenched as tight as they could be, and Castiel felt how swollen three of the fingers were, the jarred and bruised bones within, throbbing along a thin line of agony. Jimmy... His hand had been slammed in a door. Castiel saw a flash of the memory suddenly in the vessel's mind, a face looming over him twisted in rage, humanity made demonic, the adult's hand grabbing Jimmy harshly, pressing his hand against the jamb and slamming the door on it.

"Who are you?" the boy said again. And he was a boy, just a boy, young and small. Younger than his daughter Claire had been when Castiel had briefly filled her flesh to wreak havoc among the demons who had captured her.

Castiel had meant to travel back in time, to change everything. He hadn't meant to do...this.


The boy's breath hitched in his throat, his heart stuttering for a moment. "Who's there?"

He whispered it now, afraid of being heard.

Jimmy Novak. You believe in God, yes? I feel the faith in you.

The child nodded, short and sharp, just once.

Your mother told you about angels. You believe in them as well.

"She said angels were watching over me."

We are. I am.

Jimmy turned his head to the side, a tear trailing down his cheek, hot and bitter.

More flashes of memory, these from Jimmy's mind instead of Castiel's. A single night of terror and flame, black smoke tearing into their home, shaking the walls, the roof, and then fire, fire, fire. Jimmy screaming, his parents trapped, smoke and more smoke, burning his eyes and throat, tears pouring down his face in an endless deluge.

Castiel felt sick to his soul. The demon he had brought back with him, latched to his spirit, ripping at his grace and twisting his intentions... While Castiel was out of consciousness, unable to help, it had destroyed his young vessel's family.

He had wanted to make things better. He had only made them worse.

Jimmy, I am an angel of the Lord. My name is Castiel. I am here to help you.

This hadn't been his original mission, but it was now.

"I can't see you."

Castiel could feel the burn in the boy's throat, harsh and aching. He wondered when the last time was that Jimmy had been allowed to drink.

We walk by faith and not by sight.

Jimmy lay still, his heartbeat slowing, his breath turning restful, at peace. His hands finally stopped opening and closing, resting at his sides. The rain pattered on outside, cool and light and invisible, but there.

Jimmy, will you let me help you? This body is wounded. I can take it over for a small time and bring you relief.

He didn't nod and he didn't speak again—it hurt too much—but Castiel felt the surrender in him, even so. With that permission, Castiel, still shaken and weakened himself, was able to fill the hurt little body from toes to fingertips, light rushing in to banish the darkness.

Or at least, that was what he meant to do. He intended to cleanse away all of the hurt and pain with a single flood of light, to send Jimmy into a peaceful rest and get them out of this small room as soon as it could be done. But it was as if he hit a wall. Halfway to sitting, halfway to filling the vessel, Castiel doubled over, gasping and panting. His spirit felt cramped, twisted and still trapped, still imprisoned.


Jimmy's voice in his mind, worried, breath starting to speed up again.

"All is well," Castiel said. He felt the grating in his throat even more harshly now, and was only glad that he could shield Jimmy from the pain, even if just a part of it. He felt the wall at his back, cool and smooth, and leaned on it gratefully. He was shaking uncontrollably.

"Jimmy, I must attempt something. Please bear with me."


Castiel closed his eyes and slowed his breathing, one shaky breath at a time, in and out, in and out. Jimmy was still and quiet inside him, calm, trusting. He could feel the immensity of Castiel's experience and power, and he waited for the angel to take care of whatever needed done. Castiel regretted the action that he must try now, but vowed to return quickly.

He raised his eyes to Heaven and murmured a prayer, then breathed out, slow and steady, with deliberate intention. He needed to exit this boy, just for a time, so he could use his full power and free them from this room. Strangely enough, he couldn't wait to feel the rain.

But it didn't work. Castiel's spirit quivered, straining against the bonds that shackled it, then slumped back, defeated. He couldn't leave Jimmy's body.

He was truly trapped.

Castiel? The boy's voice quivered, too, suddenly not quite so certain of the angel's power.

He had felt that too. He knew their situation. More than just sharing Jimmy Novak's body, Castiel was now sharing everything with the little boy.

The poor child must be so terrified, he thought, and hoped that he hadn't heard that, too.

No. Confidence back in the small voice. No, I'm not scared. You're an angel. You came for me. I have faith in God and He heard my prayers.

Once again, Castiel was humbled by a human. Such faith. The boy was small, but he was mighty.

Thanks. Brightness now, Jimmy sharing his own light with Castiel. It built between them, stronger for the sharing. It's gonna be okay. You'll figure it out.

"Thank you, child."

Castiel tipped his head back against the wall and concentrated on breathing through aching lungs. His powers were constrained, shattered somehow by the demon's attack. He could neither leave nor take over this body fully, and he suspected that Jimmy would be able to wrest control back from him if he even half-wanted to. Worse, he couldn't heal these wounds, couldn't knit these cracked bones, these shallow gashes, couldn't soothe the bruised flesh and thirsty throat. He was certain that he wouldn't be able to transport, either, wouldn't be able to move objects without touching them, wouldn't be able to access any of his other tools.

Well, perhaps he could do something. He hadn't tried to heal, specifically. If he poured all his efforts into just this, perhaps...

Some of the pain gradually leaked away, and he heard Jimmy's small sigh of relief. Again, he couldn't do it fully, couldn't do anything fully, but he was able to heal enough that he could shield the boy from almost all of the remaining pain. Castiel raised a hand to his face to wipe away the sweat and found it sticky, something thick and warm running from his nose.

A sudden thump outside the door, and the small body tensed from head to toe, Jimmy instinctively reacting to the sound. Castiel wiped his hand on his shirt and turned his head to listen, trying to understand what was going on. A muffled male voice rumbled through the wall with malevolent power, angry and slurred, the words made nearly incomprehensible by drink. Jimmy's shoulders hunched up around his ears.

"Who is that?"

My foster dad. He...he really doesn't like me. I don't know why. The last time he locked me in this closet he left me here all weekend, until I had to go back to school. Now it's summer break and...and I don't know how long he's going to keep me in here.

"No longer," Castiel assured him, rising slowly to his feet. He wrapped his arms around his torso and held on tight, the only way that he could fold Jimmy into an embrace. "Everything is going to be all right, child. I'm here now and I wouldn't leave you even if I could."

I know. There was a palpable feeling of leaning, of Jimmy pressing his small, battered spirit up against the angel's. Kick his butt, Castiel.

"I fully intend to."


Bobby Singer lifted the whiskey bottle and tilted it to the side, considering. Rain poured down outside the window, soft and steady, washing all the old metal as if it could ever be clean. It was too early to be drinking, despite how dark and gray it felt with the storm wrapping around his home.

What the hell. He lived alone and he wasn't expecting any customers, not on a day like this. He poured a finger of whiskey and gulped it down, twisting his lips at the familiar burn.

A stack of newspapers waited on the table by the door, dailies from the local area, weekend editions from major cities in ten or fifteen states around, plus New York and California. Bobby took the stack to his desk and started methodically sorting through them, looking for the strange, the unusual, the suspicious. Every now and then he clipped a likely-looking article and added it to this file or that. A rash of mysterious deaths in Minnesota, an inexplicable fire in Nebraska, a deadly bridge collapse in Texas.

Halfway down the stack was the Peoria Journal Star, all the news from central Illinois that was fit to print. Or at least all the news that was interesting. Bobby never had reason to doubt a journalist's eye for the unusual. And central Illinois usually had plenty of the unusual going on.

He added another potential grave disturbance to the file he was making for the Pekin area, then paused with his finger on the police reports page: arrests, charges, warrants. Les Baker was being charged with multiple counts of domestic battery and child endangerment, but there on the same page was Les Baker trying to charge James Novak with battery against himself. And a little further down...missing: James Novak, ten years old.

Bobby flipped back through the paper, eyes roving restlessly back and forth. Surely there must be an article, however small, on such a bizzarre incident. And there it was, Les Baker found bruised and semi-conscious in his home, raving about how his ten-year-old foster son had beaten him, then run. "The kid was possessed," the man had raved. "His eyes were all wrong."

The police found blood in a small closet matching the boy's DNA, scratches on the wall from small fingernails, heard from neighbors about suspicious noises no one had bothered to report. Mrs. Baker had nothing to say.

Bobby leaned back in his chair, tracing a rectangle around the two-paragraph article with an absent finger. Demon possession was certainly a possibility. Demons had no respect for gender, for age, for anything. And a battered, abused child...yes, that would leave an opening in the mind for an evil spirit to enter. Bobby's stomach was sour, though. He didn't want to turn this hunt over to anyone else. If someone had to go after a ten-year-old kid, it might as well be him. He couldn't get any more damned than he already was.

A knock sounded on the door, slow, soft. It stopped almost immediately, before Bobby even had a chance to look up. He waited for a second, wondering if he'd imagined it. The knock didn't come again, but Bartholomew, curled on the rug by the cold fireplace in a vain hope that Bobby would light it up, lifted his muzzle and whined, looking to the door. Someone was there.

Bobby slowly crossed his living room, taking the time to snag one of his many flasks of holy water. A silver knife, too, tucked into the back of his belt. He opened the door, and had to adjust the angle of his vision when no one was there at eye-level.

It was a boy. Slight, soaked, shivering, arms wrapped around himself. Dark hair and blue eyes, dim and haunted. He was maybe nine or ten or eleven years old, something like that, and Bobby could see old bruises fading on his cheek, his neck, his forearms.

The man held still though, waiting. "Yup?"

"M-Mr. Singer? B-B-Bobby S-Singer?"

The boy was shaking hard, barely able to get the words out between blueish lips and chattering teeth. Bobby did not invite him inside.

"That's me. What's your name?"

He hesitated, wavering slightly on his feet. "I am c... My n-name... Jimmy. Please, my name is Jimmy."

"James Novak?"

The kid looked up, his eyes wide but unsurprised. He seemed almost...relieved. "You...you know me. I hoped you w-would."

"Kid, I don't know you from Adam. I know what you are, though."

The boy slumped, arms sliding down, head bowing. He swayed forward again, hard, would have fallen if Bobby hadn't caught his shoulder.

"Hey," he said sharply, pushing him upright. "Hey, Jimmy. I didn't say I trusted you. Just said I know what you are. I'm more interested in how you know who I am. Who sent you? How did you get here?"

Jimmy looked up, his eyes puzzled and weary, so weary. "But if you know what I am..." He shook his head gently, seemed afraid to do it too hard for fear it would fall off. "No one sent me. I sent myself. I brought myself. That's all. I have no one else. Only me. Only...Jimmy."

The boy sounded lost, defeated. Lonely. Bobby fought down the lump in his throat. He did not have time for this.

But he was beginning to doubt.

He let go of Jimmy's shoulder and unscrewed the flask. "Hey. Kid. You thirsty?"

Jimmy nodded, already starting to droop without Bobby's support, as unkind and standoffish as it had been. He took the flask in thin, shaking fingers and drank it down, almost at a gulp, then pressed the flask back into Bobby's hand and looked up at him again. "I need to find John Winchester."

Bobby shook his head. "I don't know anyone by that name."

"Oh." The boy let out a small, weary breath, then just sat down where he stood, right on Bobby's welcome mat. His arms hung limp at his sides and water trickled out of his sopping clothes, running along the wooden planks of the porch in sluggish rivulets.

Bobby stared down at the dark, bowed head, saw the evidence of healing cuts hidden in the tangled mop. He squinted out at the rain pouring down in the yard. Considered going back inside, shutting the door, returning to his stack of newspapers. Bartholomew whined behind him, low and anxious.

"Hey." Bobby sighed. Then he crouched down, took the boy's chin gently in his hand to tilt his face up and ignored the flinch. "Hey, you wanna come inside? I got stuff for grilled cheese sandwiches. Bet you're hungry."

Jimmy let out a long, soft sigh. He nodded. Bobby helped him up and got him into the house.


Jimmy sat at the kitchen table, wrapped in a quilt that Bobby hadn't used for a long, long time. He had stopped shivering, finally, though he slumped wearily in the chair with one hand holding a cheese sandwich and the other wrapped around a steaming mug of hot chocolate. He had eaten two sandwiches as fast as Bobby could make them, and now he held onto the third as if afraid to let it go. As if afraid that Bobby might take it from him.

Bobby finished fixing up his own sandwich—he liked oregano and tomatoes on his grilled cheese, thank you very much—and sat across from the boy with his mug of coffee. Now that he was fed and warm, Jimmy seemed barely able to keep his eyes open, though his gaze kept flickering back to Bobby, watching him. Making sure.

"Now, boy," he said firmly, determined to see this through no matter how badly he just wanted to tuck the child into a spare bed, maybe read him a bedtime story and kiss him on the forehead. "I want you to tell me how you knew who I was and how to find me. I don't remember meeting any Novaks, and I've been around some."

"I just... I know you, that's all." Jimmy shrugged, staring fixedly at his hot chocolate.

"There's no 'just' about it." Bobby huffed out a breath. "Either you have contacts somewhere that I want to know about, or something else is going on here."

"You thought I was a demon."

"I did think that, yes. I don't anymore. But I know something is going on."

Jimmy put his sandwich down on his plate and ripped off a piece of crust, squishing it between his fingers. "I... I can't say, Mr. Singer. I'm sorry."

"You can't or you won't? What kind of creature are you?"

Jimmy laughed at this, almost bitterly, but with an edge of tears. He pushed the plate away and looked up at Bobby, eyes too bright, too blue. "Just a boy, Mr. Singer. Just a little human boy. I...I know things. And I can do things, too."

Bobby stared at him, asking for a demonstration without saying a word. The boy gazed at him pleadingly for a moment, then slumped in defeat. He bit his lip and looked around, then nodded at the salt shaker on the other end of the table. "There."

"What?" Bobby asked, but he didn't have to wait long for an answer.

The boy lifted a hand, and he stared. His gaze was focused and intent and far, far too old. Blood started to trickle from his nose. And then the salt shaker flew off the table and smashed against the wall.

He fell back, gasping, and Bobby came around the table with a napkin and pressed it to his bleeding nose. "What the hell, boy?"

Jimmy mumbled something that sounded like "quite the opposite," but wouldn't elaborate when Bobby asked. He just lay limply against the back of the chair, pale and spent. It was clear that he just had nothing else to give.

Bobby held the back of his head with one hand, the other keeping the napkin where it was needed. "All right," he said. "You done convinced me. You say you need to talk to this John Winchester fella, I believe you. But I wasn't lying when I said I didn't know anyone by that name. You got any other ideas?"

The boy breathed in and out a few times. "The Roadhouse? Maybe if you left a message there..."

Bobby tilted his head. "That's a good idea. Any more?" He drew back the bloody napkin, saw that the boy's nose had quit gushing, and stood up again. Jimmy tilted his head back, staring wearily up at him.

"There's a psychic in Lawrence. Missouri. I can't remember her last name."

"I'll look into it." Bobby looked down at the boy, frowning. "What am I going to do with you?" he asked. Rhetorically, he was sure. "You got any folks? Besides that son of a bitch who was beating you, I mean."

Jimmy shook his head slowly from side to side, still letting it lean back against the chair. "My parents are dead and my home burned. I..." There was a slight shift in his eyes, like a sudden realization hitting. "And my brothers and sisters... I'm all alone, Mr. Singer." Tears welled up, swift, sudden, undeniable. "I can never go home. I can never go home, not ever."

His slender arms wrapped around his torso, holding tight, and then he was sobbing, torturous breaths hitching in his throat. It sounded like a hard one, a cry that had been coming for a long, long time and just wouldn't be pushed back anymore, weary and aching and full of grief. Bobby knew all about those kind of tears.

"Hey..." There wasn't any use in denying it anymore. Bobby was old and he was stubborn and he preferred his solitude, but there wasn't anything else he could do. He knelt on the floor by the chair and pulled the sobbing kid into his arms. "Hey, Jimmy. Hey. It's gonna be okay."

Jimmy cried for a long time, using up what little energy he'd had left. He ended up with his head limp on Bobby's shoulder, now soaked with snot and tears and saliva. It had been a hard cry, all right. One of the boy's arms was still tight around his stomach, but the other hand clutched Bobby's shirt in a hard little fist.

Bobby had rocked and soothed and murmured and done all he could, but he was glad it was over now. Poor kid was exhausted. It was time to see about that spare bed.

"Sorry, Mr. Singer." Jimmy sniffled quietly and pulled back, wiping his eyes and staring guiltily at Bobby's sodden shoulder.

"It's no big thing, boy. And why don't you just go ahead and call me Bobby, now."

He looked up, a faint spark of hope brightening those too-blue eyes. "Really?"

"I said so, didn't I? Now, we gotta see if any of my spare rooms are fit for company. You're gonna need a place to stay until we can get hold of this John Winchester of yours. That sound all right?"

"Yes sir." Jimmy nodded with as much energy as he could muster and stood up, then just about fell over before Bobby wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pulled him close to his side.

"Bobby," he corrected, leading them toward the door.

Jimmy leaned on him, damp dark head wetting what part of Bobby's shirt was still partially dry. "Uncle Bobby," he said, very softly.

This time, Bobby didn't correct him.

(End. For now.)

Warning: Child abuse. Dark themes. Violence, language.