"What was that?" Deirdre asked, her voice starting to rise in hysterics. "Who was that? Was that a person? It looked like a person! It wasn't, was it? How could it have been a person?"
Amelia wrapped her arms around her sister and pulled her close. Her face was pale and set in terror or determination. Jimmy wanted to reassure her, wanted to embrace her the way she was embracing Deirdre, but he couldn't. He couldn't do a thing. Castiel had taken over and Jimmy had let him.
Castiel prowled the borders of the rec room at Grace Baptist Church, inscribing wards of protection on every wall, every window, every doorjamb, digging the blade of Jimmy's boot knife into the paint and wood with strength born of anxiety, dread, and the overwhelming need to protect. That person...it was there, and it was going to come back. They had to be ready.
Sammy knelt on the floor in the middle of the room, near where Amelia and Deirdre huddled. He counted out the amulets and charms the Winchesters had had in their pockets, laying them on the floor in Sammy's own system of tidy organization. There wasn't much. You weren't supposed to need this stuff on consecrated ground.
"It was a demon," the little boy said. He spoke with a calmness and clarity that Jimmy recognized must sound chilling and horrific to the two girls. "The eyes turned black, right? Demon."
"Okay, I got some!" Dean returned from a storage room somewhere, hauling an armful of water bottles. "Good thing those Baptists like to stock up. Will this be enough, Castiel?"
Castiel glanced up from his work long enough to nod.
"What...what did you call him?" Amelia asked.
Deirdre was still struggling. "But it can't...it can't be a demon! That's Mr. Baker, he's the one who told us Grace would lend us their equipment, he's the one who, who... He can't be a demon, he can't!"
"Sorry, sweetheart," Dean said, dumping his water bottles next to his little brother and the two girls. "He definitely is."
"But Mr. Baker is a Christian! The devil can't come in your heart when Jesus is in there!"
"Sorry," Sammy said, picking out two amulets from the small pile. "It doesn't always work like that. Here, put these on."
He gave one to each girl. They stared at them, silent in shock.
Castiel approached them, still holding the knife in his fist. He had a few more symbols to carve. "This man claimed to be a Christian, you say? I highly doubt that he's sincere."
Amelia stared up at him, her eyes round and blue. Jimmy ached for her, but there was nothing he could do to make it better. "Why do you say that?"
Castiel's lip curled in a righteous sneer, alien on his face, yet Jimmy knew that the angel felt true loathing for this man. "He is the same one who severely abused Jimmy Novak for more than half a year in 1983 and '84. And he was not possessed by a demon then."
This was not the way Jimmy would have chosen to tell Amelia that he had been abused as a child. Or that he was adopted and Winchester wasn't his real last name. Or that he had an angel inside him. But, well, a lot of Jimmy's choices seemed to get taken away from him.
"...Jimmy?" Amelia echoed. "You?"
Castiel nodded and put a hand to his chest. "Jimmy Novak, now Jimmy Winchester, is my vessel. I am Castiel, an angel of the Lord."
"No, no, no, no no no no," Deirdre said, quietly at first, then rising to a wail. "No, no, no, this can't be happening!" Her hands lifted to frame her face, fingernails digging into her temples. "This can't be real, this can't be... It's all stories, just stories!"
At this Amelia jerked in shock yet again, pulling back from her sister.
Jimmy sighed inwardly. Castiel, please let me talk to them.
Castiel was still weak enough that he could have wrenched back control on his own if he really wanted to, but the angel acquiesced graciously enough, bowing his head as he receded back into Jimmy's mind. Jimmy raised his head and knelt down beside the girls, carefully setting the knife aside. "Amelia, it's me."
She just sat there, frozen.
"Amelia, please look at me."
Amelia turned to face him, eyes and face blank, empty.
"Amelia." He lifted a hand and caressed her pale, smooth cheek, something he would have been terrified to do only an hour before. That didn't matter now, nothing mattered but this. "Amelia, you believe the Bible, don't you?"
She breathed, in and out, struggling for balance. "I do but... Jimmy, this is so insane..."
"Castiel is telling the truth. He's an angel. He's been inside me since I was ten years old."
"Jimmy, Jimmy, that's crazy..." She was shaking hard now, unable to believe.
He shook, too, as desperate to convince her as she was to have none of this be true. "You believe in God and Satan, don't you? Why not demons and angels?"
"But, you know..." She flapped a hand, the other still fisted in her sister's shirt. "I thought, invisible forces, powers and principalities. I didn't think...I didn't think they were so..."
"So what?" he asked, as gently as he knew.
"So real," she admitted, and the tears began to fall.
He brushed her cheek with his thumb, catching her tears. Then he leaned forward to kiss the other cheek and tasted them, too. "Amelia, I... Castiel says I love you. I'm pretty sure he's right. Will you trust me?"
She closed her eyes and drew a deep breath, steadying under his hand. "I...I will. I do."
"All right." He sat back, picked up the knife again. "I'm letting Castiel take control now so he can fight the demon. But I'm still in here, Amelia. I'm still Jimmy."
Amelia nodded. She put on the anti-possession charm Sammy had given her and helped Deirdre do the same.
One door to go. Castiel leaned on it, carving into the painted metal and scoring the marks as deep as he could. They just needed to buy a little more time, needed to figure out some way to get a Devil's Trap marked on the floor. They had no paint, no markers, no chalk, no salt, nowhere to get any of those items, and the knife was now dull and almost impossible to cut with. Castiel persevered, though, aware that the locks on this door would never hold against the strength of a demon. It had trapped them in one of the least defensible places Castiel could imagine, and they had never anticipated danger on holy ground.
Maybe a church's rec room didn't count as holy ground. Castiel would have to keep that in mind for later. He could hear Dean and Sammy behind him, chanting over the holy water.
Slam! Something heavy hit the door on the other side, jolting Castiel's slim teenage body, and a grinning face appeared at the window. Mr. Baker, the demon, both and one together. Castiel pushed back with all the strength in his young legs, grimly determined to finish this last warding mark. One more downslash, then the crossing line...
"Hello, little angel!" the deep voice boomed, barely muffled by the door at all.
The door burst inward, broken metal flying from the shattered locks, and Castiel was thrust backward into the room to land in an undignified sprawl. He leaped to his feet in one motion and crouched there, snarling. He held the knife in a defensive position in his hand, between himself and the demon. "Stay back, foul imp!"
Booming laughter, ugly and wrong, defiling this poor sanctuary. "Oh, how you amuse me, little angel! Did you really think I wouldn't find you? Did you really think you would be safe? And oh, the pure impudence of you, coming back here of all places! What else could you possibly have expected?"
It approached, moving sideways along the wall and toward Castiel, and Castiel circled, keeping himself between the demon and the children. "I expected you to know better than to meddle in the affairs of a servant of the High One, imp. You are far out of your depth. Leave now before I see reason to destroy you where you stand."
"Oh ho, pretty words, little angel." The demon grinned, two steps closer, gesturing as if to swipe at him. Castiel raised the knife, but the demon did not come near enough for him to slice at it. "What angel uses such puny mortal tools? If you were truly a servant of the High One, as you claim, you would need nothing but your hand and your righteousness to send me back to Hell."
Castiel looked into the black eyes and tightened his mouth into a thin line. "Come closer and say that again."
Jimmy trembled inside their shared body, buffeted nearly into unconsciousness by the terror of being faced with not only a demon, but the man who had torn him to pieces for months on end when he was too small and helpless to defend himself. Still, he had to crow a little at Castiel's words. Nice bluff, Castiel. Man, if I wasn't me, I would totally believe you.
But the demon only smiled, low and slow and feral. "You can't fool me, little Castiel. I know how much power you hold, and it is pitiful." And he thrust his hand into his jacket, the nice Sunday jacket worn by Mr. Baker that let him blend into the Sunday Baptist crowd and convince them that he was one of them. Castiel caught his breath at the glimmer of light thus revealed, and when the demon pulled his hand back out, he held a vial half-full of beautiful, shining grace.
"You see that, little angel? I have a part of you. Did you never wonder why your grace was so broken and useless? It was because I kept some of it all for myself, and oh, what a pretty thing it is."
Castiel gasped at Dean's young voice right in his ear, and the demon shouted, steaming from the entire bottle of holy water Dean had flung at him. "Dean, get back!"
Castiel thrust out his arm, pushing Dean behind him, and just in time. The demon leapt at them both and drove them to the floor. It yelled, writhing as Castiel buried the boot knife in the body's heart. It would not kill the demon, but Jimmy would never have to fear this man again, and Castiel was fiercely glad.
"Omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii..." Sammy called, continuing the exorcism, and over him Castiel could hear the two girls shakily reciting a psalm.
All of it helped. Not enough to defeat the demon, not nearly enough, but it helped. The foul thing found its feet again and reeled back, growling and wiping at its eyes, trying to get rid of the water. Castiel got to his feet and pulled Dean up, then pushed the boy back once again. "Stay with the others," he ordered breathlessly, though he knew better than to expect Dean to obey.
"No way, dude, I got more holy water." Dean stuck a bottle into Castiel's hand, still holding more for himself. It was a superior replacement for the knife, though it would not help Castiel finish that last warding symbol.
"Hey, you yellow-bellied freak!" Dean yelled at the demon. "Give Cas back his mojo! Why don't you pick on someone your own size instead of a bunch of little kids? Freakin' coward!"
It was the first time this Dean had shortened his name to the diminutive. Castiel was inexplicably warmed.
"Little idiot!" the demon snarled. "I'll kill you too!"
"Not today," said another voice, and a mighty punch drove the demon ten steps back, crashing into the wall.
John Winchester. He stood between the demon and his sons, one hand in a fist, the other reaching back toward Castiel and Dean.
"Dad!" Dean's voice was effervescent with shock and delight.
John turned his head far enough to give them a grin. "Thought I'd come drag you boys away so Jimmy could have ice cream just with Amelia. I know it's sneaky, but sometimes you gotta make that first date happen. Glad I thought of it. Give me that holy water."
Dean handed it over gladly, and John stalked toward the demon, shaking the bottle menacingly. "Give my boy back what you stole from him, and maybe I'll just send you back to Hell instead of killing you right here and now."
The demon leaned on the wall, one hand pressed over its jaw where John had punched it. "You can't kill me. You don't have the tools, don't even know what they are. You don't even have the sigils written to catch me!"
"Oh, you think so?" John tilted his head, smiling slow and mean. "I have an angel on my side. An angel from the future. An angel from the future who happens to know everything I need to know to defeat everything that comes after me. You really think we wouldn't have taken advantage of that? You really think we wouldn't have gathered all those tools by now? Seven years later? Oh, you are the dumbest, slimiest, stupidest little piss-ant ever to crawl out of Hell, aren't you?"
In a cruel mockery of the demon sliding its hand into its jacket and drawing out of the vial of Grace, John put his hand into his coat and pulled out the Colt. He pointed it at the demon, cocked it. And grinned. "Say hello to Azazel for me. Tell him I'm coming, and he can run, but he can't hide."
John's finger squeezed on the trigger, but before he could finish, the demon threw back the possessed man's head and roared out of the body in a pillar of smoke that gleamed white and red within. It snaked to the ceiling and out through the rafters before Castiel had time to take another breath. Baker's empty body thudded to the floor, a graceless pile of limbs, bloody and dead. Castiel slid down to sit, too, the last of his strength running out. He panted and shook, and Dean knelt beside him, rubbing his shoulder.
"You're not gonna pass out again, are ya, Cas?" the boy asked, forehead bent in anxiety. "'Cause I don't like it when you do that, dude. It freaks me out."
Castiel gave him a smile, shaky and uneven. "Not...not this time, I don't think. Thank you, Dean. You are far too brave for your own good."
John stood by the body, prodding it with one foot. He retrieved Jimmy's boot knife, then looked back to the boys. "Castiel? Dean said it took something from you. What was it?"
"A...a vial. It will look like a vial full of liquid light. That is a physical manifestation only, though."
John bent down to look through the dead man's pockets. He straightened with something in his hand, but Castiel saw no glimmer of light. John turned toward them, holding out the vial, but it was empty.
Castiel exhaled in disappointment. The demon had escaped with his grace. He was still broken. Still useless.
No, Castiel, Jimmy said. Never broken. Never useless. It has part of your power, but it doesn't have you. You're more than that.
"Sorry, buddy," John said. He knelt next to them and patted Castiel's shoulder, the one Dean wasn't rubbing. "We'll get it back for ya."
"Yeah," Dean said. "From now on we're painting Devil's Traps freakin' everywhere we go, man!"
After a while Dean wandered back over to check on Sammy and the girls. John knelt by his oldest boy, a hand on his shoulder. He felt the rigid strength of the angel in the teenage body, the way he held himself, strong and straight but still shivering, exhausted by the battle he had just fought.
Sammy and Dean's voices registered on the edges of John's senses, sweet and calm, reassuring the girls. They were good boys. A good team. Someday they would be good hunters. For now they were just children, though. They shouldn't have seen what they had seen today, and soon John would have to talk to them about it, make sure they understood, make sure they were okay. For now, though, he was more worried about the child sitting beside him.
He felt the sigh run through Jimmy's body, the slumping of the shoulder under his hand. His posture changed, became simultaneously looser, more childlike, and more tense and curled in on himself, and John knew that Castiel had receded and left Jimmy in charge again. John looked down at him, saw the boy's head buried in his hands, shoulders hunched and trembling.
"Jimmy?" he murmured, not expecting an answer.
He got one, of a sort. Jimmy flinched at the sound of his voice and pulled his elbows in tighter, shaking even more. Turtling up, trying to protect himself. It hadn't been this bad for years, not since the first few months after Jimmy and Castiel joined their broken little family.
John glanced behind him, saw Dean and Sammy sitting by the girls, comforting them as John was trying to comfort Jimmy. "Dean?" he called over his shoulder, just loud enough to cross the distance. "Something else happen here I don't know about?"
"That's the man that hurt Jimmy when he was ten," Dean called back, matter of fact, though his young voice was cold with rage.
Oh. John looked at the broken corpse that had carried the demon. That was the "Mr. Baker" who haunted Jimmy's nightmares, the drunken, heavy-handed fuck who had turned Jimmy into the mass of bruises and cuts who first showed up in that long-ago motel parking lot, slapping his scraped and shaking hand against the window of the Impala. That was the creature who made Jimmy cringe when John reached out to touch him, the stinking monster who abused an innocent child so severely that even seven years later, few of the scars had faded.
Castiel had killed him with the boot knife. John firmed his jaw to keep it from shaking and wished that he had been the one to do the deed.
He had to take a moment to breathe. He had to take care not to grip the boy's shoulder too tight. He had to soften his voice, make sure that none of his fury was showing. "Jimmy? He's dead."
Jimmy didn't respond.
John held his shoulder and shifted around to face him, gripped the other one so that he held the boy framed between his big hands. "Jimmy. He's dead. He'll never touch you again."
He kept his voice low, just between them, trusted Dean and Sammy to keep the girls distracted. They didn't need to see this. "Jimmy, stand up. Come look at him. He's dead."
The boy shook his head, still hidden in his hands.
"Jimmy." John firmed his voice, made it a command. "I want you to see. I want you to know. He'll never touch you again. Stand up and look at him."
Jimmy drew a shaky breath and lowered his hands just far enough to plead with his eyes. John stared back steadily and refused to rescind the order. Finally, the boy nodded. He pushed himself to his feet, and John rose with him, helping him up. Once standing, Jimmy's arms wrapped around his torso, instinctively hugging himself, and John put an arm around his shoulders and held him to his side. For once, Jimmy allowed it.
They shuffled over to the corpse and stared down at it. The slack face, the limbs askew, the blood soaking the white Sunday shirt and dark Sunday jacket. They stared for what felt like a very long time, frozen in a single moment of horror and understanding.
Jimmy blew out a sigh, breathless and faint. "He's dead," he whispered.
"Yeah," John said.
"He'll never hurt me again."
"No, he won't."
"Or anyone else."
"He's really dead. He's really gone."
Jimmy started to cry. He turned to John, hiding his face in his chest, wrapping his arms around his middle. John held him tight and let him cry. It was the first time Jimmy had let John hold him when he wasn't unconscious or nearly so.
If nothing else, the day had at least given them one good thing. At least it had given John the opportunity to hug his adopted son. If nothing else, he was grateful for that.
In the end, it was because of Mrs. Kriegel that they had to leave town.
John had never officially adopted Jimmy. That would have involved social workers and home visits and way too much contact with the government. Instead he just started calling the boy his son, and Jimmy called himself a Winchester. Bobby Singer provided the forged paperwork, once Castiel told John who the older hunter was and how to find him. It was a lot easier than going through channels and had never caused them a problem before.
Jimmy Novak was probably still listed as missing, presumed dead. Baker had even spent a few months in jail after the investigation into the foster boy's disappearance had turned up too much evidence of abuse for anyone to ignore. But Mrs. Kriegel was asking questions, and eventually someone might care enough to look for the answers.
"I wish you'd told me you came from Pontiac," John said at one point, exasperated but not really angry. He understood Jimmy's need to avoid all mentions of his past. "We could have, you know, not moved here and spent months in a place people might recognize you."
Jimmy just sighed. "Sorry, Dad."
"I swear, from now on, I'm doing a background check on every single person I meet. Including ten-year-old kids."
Dean and Sammy weren't exactly pleased about leaving their school and the friends they had made there (especially Deirdre Graves, in Dean's case). They understood, though, and didn't whine or complain too much. They had both been woken by Jimmy's nightmares for weeks after Baker was dead, both taken turns crawling into his bed and whispering him awake, then curling up with him until he calmed and sleeping there till morning. They eventually decided that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure and just started piling in with him at bedtime, ignoring Jimmy's protests and prevailing by dint of sheer Winchester stubbornness. Moving again sucked, but when it was for their big brother, Dean and Sammy put up with it.
Hardest was saying good-bye to Amelia. Jimmy didn't want to do it, so he kept putting it off, even skipped church their last Sunday in town. In the end, she found him. She looked at the small, pathetic pile of moving boxes stacked outside the garage, heard the younger boys arguing inside about what to leave behind and what to take. When Jimmy came to the door, she simply grabbed his hand and pulled him outside. Jimmy's shoulders hunched up, but he went with her.
They stood under the maple tree, now with only one blood-colored leaf clinging to a high branch, piles of red and rust drifting around their feet. Amelia took Jimmy's face in her hands and kissed him. Jimmy closed his eyes, falling into it, his blood rushing in his ears, his heart. His hands trembled, electric, and folded around her waist almost of their own volition. He knew what this was, now, and it hurt. It hurt because they were leaving, they had to leave, they always left. It wasn't right; it wasn't fair.
When she drew back, he opened his eyes and just stared.
"Do you really have to leave?"
Jimmy shuffled his foot in the leaves, looking away. His hands dropped reluctantly, buried themselves in his pockets. "Yeah. I wish I didn't."
"I don't want you to."
As was usual with them, talking wasn't really their strength.
"Will you come back?"
Jimmy shrugged. "I dunno. We...we go all over. It's not just demons that are real. So are ghosts. And lots of other stuff. We...kill them. It's just how it is for us."
"You're heroes. You're a hero, Jimmy Winchester."
Jimmy was startled into meeting her eyes. "No, it was Castiel who..."
"No." She put a hand on his chest. "You. Now that I know he's there...I can tell the difference. Castiel is amazing, but you are too."
Her other hand still rested on his right cheek. Jimmy leaned into it, lifted his hand to hold her cheek, too. "Amelia..."
"Will you write me? Or call me? Or anything?"
She pulled away, reached into her pocket. She kept her diary there, a pen on a ribbon. A quick rip, and she pulled out a page and began to write.
"Amelia... Please look at me."
Amelia paused long enough to look up at him, her eyes wide and blue. "Amelia, someday... Someday we'll find that demon, and Castiel will get his mojo back. He'll be able to leave me then, or... Someday we'll finish this, someday I'll be able to have my own life. Maybe. I hope. Will you...?"
She smiled, sweetly, so sweetly. "I'll wait for you. I don't care how long it takes."
His heart clenched in his chest and his breath caught his throat. "Oh, Amelia, please..." He didn't mean to sound so pleading, but he couldn't help it. "You don't know, you can't know what will happen... Please, please, don't make a promise you can't keep."
"Jimmy." A push, a hand tight in his shirt, and she kissed him again. This was deeper, almost frantic. Jimmy couldn't breathe. He opened to her, pushed back into her mouth, and she took everything he had and gave it back to him, larger and more beautiful. He never wanted it to end.
When Amelia pulled away this time he was dizzy, breathless, watching her retreat through a haze and wanting nothing but her return. "Jimmy. I never do."
"I'll write you every chance I get."
She pressed the paper into his hand, and he glanced down, saw the phone number and address before he closed the paper in his fist and held it close like the precious thing it was.
"Don't forget me," she said.
It was all they had. It would have to be enough.
Jimmy returned to the house, stepped inside only to be greeted by utter silence. Dean and Sammy stood in the doorway to their room, watching him with wide eyes. Dad was in the kitchen, pretending not to watch him, but Jimmy could totally tell that he was.
"Are you okay?" Dean asked.
"Yeah," Jimmy said. "Yeah, I'm fine. Are you guys done packing?"
Sammy moved over to him and wrapped his arms around Jimmy's middle in a wordless hug. Jimmy breathed in deep and hugged him back.
And they went back to the business of being Winchesters.
Castiel watched the rain fall as they drove away from another town. Jimmy had retreated inside their shared mind, curled up and hurting. There was nothing Castiel could do for him. It made him ache.
The taste of Amelia still lingered on their lips. Castiel tried not to acknowledge it, knowing that it wasn't for him.
"You doing okay, Cas?" John asked.
Castiel turned to look at him, startled by the use of the diminutive. He'd never imagined it crossing John's lips, but the man seemed to take to it naturally, as easy with it as Dean had ever been. "I'm...coping."
"Yeah." John kept his eyes straight ahead, watching the road. Dean and Sammy were quiet in the backseat, watching the rain crawl backwards on their windows in branching streams. Creedence Clearwater Revival wailed on the radio, melancholy and deep.
Someone told me long ago, there's a calm before the storm. I know it's been coming for some time. When it's over, so they say, it'll rain a sunny day. I know, shinin' down like water.
"We'll get him," John said. "That demon that took your grace, hurt you, trapped you. We'll get him. We'll get it back."
Castiel nodded slowly. "I'm sure you will do everything you can."
"Yeah, but..." John looked away from the rainy road for a moment, all but forcing Castiel to meet his eyes. "I'm not just saying that we're gonna try, dude. I'm not just saying that if it comes up, we'll take care of it. I'm making you a promise. We will get this demon and give you back what he took from you. We're going to do it. We'll get 'im, Cas."
Till forever on it goes, through the circle fast and slow. I know it can't stop, I wonder.
Castiel blinked and looked ahead into the rain. The road stretched on, endless. Dean and John called him "Cas" now. He had a nickname now; he was family. Not just Jimmy—him. Castiel. Cas.
"Thank you," he said.
John shrugged. "No big deal. I know you're an ancient warrior angel with thousands of years of experience and knowledge and all... But you're also my kid. You dig?"
Castiel Winchester looked ahead at the endless road, saw a destination somewhere beyond. He watched the rain and knew that somewhere ahead the clouds broke and fled. Somewhere they vanished. Somewhere, rain didn't fall, and the sunlight was warm and golden and full of promise.
I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain? I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain? Coming down on a sunny day.
End of Book Two
Art: samibee dot livejournal dot com slash 19425 dot html
Fanmix: maychorian dot livejournal dot com slash 231324 dot html
Thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing! I hope you enjoyed the end. Well, the end for now-I have many more stories living in my head, both for this AU and the original Rain Falling Down 'verse.