Title: Lessons Lacking and Learned
Summary: AU. Castiel has to make a decision regarding his future, while a misunderstanding between Dean and Jo puts him in an awkward position.
Rating: T
Disclaimer: Supernatural was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is intended.
Notes: I had to do something slightly humorous after 'Abandon All Hope…'


Castiel sat on a bench in the small park across from the motel the Winchesters and Harvelles were staying at and waited. With Lucifer returned to hell and the earth settling from the pains that had been caused upon it, Cas knew someone would be coming for him. He was surprised they'd left him this long. He hadn't been trying to evade them since Lucifer's defeat.

Which of his brethren would come to collect him, he wondered? How painful would his punishment be for those things he'd done?

His stomach did nervous flips inside him and he wished Jimmy was with him. Jimmy had moved on, however, months earlier when Raphael had killed Castiel. Cas missed Jimmy's presence there in the body. He would have been some sort of comfort at this point.

"Hello, Castiel." Gabriel sat beside him.

Cas turned his attention to the motel parking lot. Jo Harvelle was taking bags from Ellen's truck, looking in each one. He squinted. She was just far enough away that he couldn't see her expression very well, only her actions. They'd yet to talk since meeting. She hadn't really seemed to notice him there at all, her attention on Dean. Jo had been so pleased to see Dean that she'd seemed to Cas like a ray of sunshine in human form, beautiful in the force of that emotion.

"You're here to take me away?"

Gabriel shrugged. "Are you ready to go?" When he made no reply, Gabriel turned on the bench to face him. "That silence is telling."

"Is it?" He'd come to like humans, even more so after spending time with them. Or maybe it was just that Dean and Sam were exceptional in many ways?

"We've a few things to discuss."

"What is there to discuss? I rebelled against heaven. I'm to be punished."

Gabriel laughed. "So black and white, Castiel You amuse me." He shook his head. "It's not so simple and you know it. Here's the deal…."

What he had to say interested Cas more than a little.

Jo glanced across the parking lot at the park across the street. That friend of Dean's was talking to a man. She paused in gathering the bags of food she and Ellen had bought for their rooms. Was he, too, reconnecting with old friends? Or was the guy someone he'd just met?

Probably an old friend, she decided, as he hadn't seemed the type to be comfortable with small talk.

Shouldering one bag, she grabbed the rest in her hands and shut the truck door with her hip and back. This reunion wasn't everything she'd hoped it would be so far. Maybe as the afternoon went on it would be?

Jo thought back to their last meeting in Colorado. Even after the job was completed and War stopped, there'd been no time for conversation and by the time there was, Dean and Sam had both already gone in separate vehicles, leaving Jo feeling like they were unfinished. There were things that should have been said that weren't. She heartily wished they'd all managed to meet up before now, but you couldn't have everything, right?

Right here, right now would have to be the clearing of the air between all of them and if things didn't go the way she hoped, she'd accept it and move on with her life.

He was going to tell her how he felt. That was the plan. It was time for it. The biggest of the big bad things was back in hell and Dean Winchester could finally tell Jo Harvelle that he wanted to see her on a regular basis. He wanted to see if they could have a future together and was ready to do that even if they all continued hunting. He was going to commit….

Maybe. Or not.

Dean fidgeted in the room he was sharing with Sam, sitting down, getting up, pacing, and generally unable to sit still until Sam shut his laptop and sat back.

"What's going on, Dean?"

"What?" He looked at Sam, shook his head. "Nothing. I'm just…thinking." Was he ready? He must be, for he had no trouble picturing that possible future in his head, yet the thought of conveying to Jo his seriousness to that end was nerve-wracking. What if she said 'no'?

He blinked. Weird. He hadn't worried about that little word in a long time.

"I can see that. What about?"

Dean picked up a magazine, glanced at it and put it back down. "You think Jo…. Never mind."

"You going to talk to her?"

"When the time's right."

Sam rolled his eyes. "You wait for then and you'll never do it. Just…go talk to her. She's got her own room right next door."

Dean stared at the wall, only half considering Sam's advice. "Sure Sammy. I'll talk to her…." He started pacing once more.

Was he really ready to do this?

Ellen hoped Jo wasn't going to be disappointed in this reunion.

She watched them through dinner -- Dean, Jo, Sam -- and thanked God her adopted family had survived. Bobby wasn't there, but he was alive too and as ornery as ever. Her glance turned to Castiel. Though a part of the group, he seemed apart from it, picking at the food on the plate Dean had plopped down in front of him as though he wasn't certain any of it was fit to eat. She didn't think he'd taken even one bite.

Ellen rested her chin on her hand, smiling a little as Dean returned from the buffet with another helping of fried chicken.

"I thought fried foods and cheeseburgers were going to be the death of you," Sam remarked. He'd been more virtuous in his food choices than the rest of them, the only one to actually visit the buffet tables in the order of a meal: salad, soup, main dish, sides, then dessert. Even his dessert was sensible. A small bowl of vanilla ice cream with sliced strawberries.

"I survived the Apocalypse, I'll survive this buffet," he replied. "What we went through, I deserve this treat."

Across from him, Jo pushed her own food around her plate.

Dean kept trying to get Jo to talk to Castiel, which was annoying her, quite understandably in Ellen's opinion. While it was clear to Ellen that Dean was avoiding Jo because of his emotions, she knew all Jo noticed was that he was hurting her feelings more and more. The expression on his face when Jo wasn't looking about broke Ellen's heart. He was messing things up and didn't even realize it yet.

She wondered if she and Sam should just lock the two in a room together and not let them out until they'd talked things through.

Returning her attention to Castiel, Ellen decided she liked him. He wasn't talkative or obnoxious and that slightly mussed appearance suited him. He was a step up from most hunters she'd ever run into. Dressed better. Much better. A man in a suit could be mighty fine, as he was certainly proving most ably.

Smiling, Ellen decided she was going to enjoy the next few days. They could all use downtime and Ellen was ready to relax.

Watching the five of them interact, Gabriel noted there was an interesting dynamic between them.

Maybe he'd stick around and have a little fun while he waited for Castiel's decision.