Off the Coast of Delacroix
"You want to elaborate?" Dean asked impatiently. An angel, his angel, his friend, had just called out of the blue. This came as a shock to everybody in the room, Sam, Dean, Bobby, who all thought the Fallen One was dead. Now, there he was, giving them a ring to tell them otherwise.
"Just woke up here," Cas said as he winced. He was attempting the impossible; he was trying to get comfortable in a hospital bed and used to the affects of being human. "The doctors were fairly surprised; they thought I was brain dead. Apparently after Van Nuys I suddenly appeared bloody and unconscious on a shrimping boat off Delacroix."
That's all Castiel knew and he only knew this because it's what he had been told. But there had been more. So much more that the sailors refused to mention to the Louisiana State Patrol lest they would be locked up in an insane asylum.
"Jim, get dem damn shrimping lines pulled in. I ain't wanting no snags on them new otter walls."
"Boss, you ain't never been afraid of no snags so why don't you just cool your jets," Jim yelled back to Mr. William Handlebolt, or, as the shipmates called him, Billy the Kid. He was hardly a child, though, and was well past his younger years. But it was a name given to him ages ago and it stuck. "Just because you got some new nets don't mean you need to get your panties in a wad," Jim mumbled under his breath. He went to the loading side of their modest little shrimping boat and prepared to bring in the otter wall. When hoisted up, an otter wall looked like a giant, tear drop shaped net that opens at the bottom, which would spill their catch all over their deck.
"Billy likes his nets, no?" asked Pierre, the last and newest member of the crew. He was originally from a small community just outside of Anduze, a town in the southern region of France known as Languedoc-Roussillon. He was hardly sophisticated like somebody from Paris might be. As a matter of fact, aside from the accent and the fact that he was from another country, he was just as dirty and gritty as the other two men on the ship. He had come to America several years earlier with the hopes of being successful in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The fact that he came over with barely two pennies to rub together, hardly, at the time, knew English, and the events of Hurricane Katrina changed all of that. A few years later he made his way down to Delacroix, Louisiana, and talked his way into being a shrimp fisher with Billy and Jim. He had been with them ever since.
"Of course he likes his nets, Pierre," Jim said. Only, when he said the French man's name, it came out more like 'Pee-ear'. Pierre didn't mind. He just laughed and pulled his cigarette out of his mouth. Sure, the men of this tiny little boat were gruff, crude, and had a knack for hocking loogies on the deck, but they were a family. Short tones and harsh language was how they showed each other they cared when sober. Laughter, insults to each other's man hood, and hard pats on the back are how they showed each other their brotherhood when drunk.
"Alright, get ready to bring in the money, boys," Billy yelled from the helm. He would have loved to be out there, with his men, catching the shrimp himself, but there were circumstances that prevented that from ever happening. Billy reached down and absent-mindedly rubbed his bum leg. As he rubbed the useless limb a lot more than money in the form of shrimp appeared on the deck.
A giant flash flooded the deck briefly and they wouldn't have been the only ones to see it had they not been alone this far out in the Gulf of Mexico ("This is where you get the big uns!" as Billy would say. Whether or not that was genuinely true nobody really knew) surrounded by nothing but water. Billy brought the boat to a full stop and looked out at his two men. "What the hell was that?"
"No idea, boss." Jim called back towards the helm. He asked Pierre if he was okay and the Frenchman nodded. The two then looked around the deck and were very quickly met with a not so pleasant surprise. "Boss!" Jim yelled as he went running past Pierre to the bow of the ship.
There, on the well weathered wood, was a man wearing a torn open, white, button up shirt, slacks, and a tan trench coat. Jim kneeled next to the crumpled mess and put a couple of fingers to his neck but couldn't feel anything. He looked over his shoulder to Pierre, "Go get the first aid kit!"
"Douce Mère de Dieua," Pierre whispered under his breath as he quickly traced a cross over his person.
"Damn it, Pierre, enough of your French mumbo jumbo. Get me that goddamn kit, ya idgit!"
Pierre turned and ran to the stern of the boat and under the deck into the sleeping and living quarters. It was then that Billy had come over, "Who the hell is that?" he asked as he rubbed his bum leg once more.
" 'Ell if I know. I jus' want to know how the bastard got here." Jim carefully peeled the man's shirt back and saw the horrible marks carved into his chest, "…the hell?"
Pierre came running back with the med kit and dropped to his knees. He flung it open and looked at Jim expectantly. So did Billy. Jim had the same look on his face only his was directed at the med kit like it may have the answer as to what to do next.
"Damn it, Jim, are you gonna do something or not?"
"What do I look like, some sorta doctor?"
"You're the one who asked for the damn kit, Jim!"
Jim scowled at Billy and shoved a hand into the first aid kit. He dug around for a painfully long minute and eventually pulled out a small flash light. Turning it on he leaned over the man, pulled his eyelids opened, and shined the light in. He moved the pen light around rather hastily before sitting back on his heels. "What the hell does that tell you?" Billy asked.
"I dunno, I think his eyes are supposed to shrink when I do that?"
"His eyes shrink, Jim what are you on about?"
Jim stood up and turned to Billy, "Not his whole eye, just the little black part. The pupil. I think it's supposed to get smaller if he's alive."
"Well," Pierre spoke up. The two men turned around and looked at the third that had been silent up until this point. "Did they shrink, is he alive?"
Jim looked from Pierre, down to the man, and then at Billy, "No, the man ain't nothing but shark bait now."
Just then the man proved them wrong. He gasped and his back arched slightly before the man went limp again. Jim dropped back to his side and felt the man's neck once more. This time he could feel a heartbeat. "Pierre, help me get him inside."
Pierre grabbed the man by his knees and Jim lifted him from under the arms. The two of them together managed to wrangle the man down into the hull and onto the only bunk in the living quarters. It wasn't big under the deck, seeing how the ship was not built for extremely long fishing trips, but it was cosy enough to make three fisher men at home for the longer part of a day. Once they had him down Jim looked to the steps and saw Billy coming down, one slow step at a time, with the med kit. "Thought you might need this," he said as he handed it to Pierre. Pierre took the kit and placed it on the table next to the bunk.
"How far are we from Delacroix?" Pierre asked as he lit up a new cigarette with shaky hands.
"Three, maybe four hours. Not like this boat knows how to go fast. Not even if the flames of hell were licking its ass." Jim had opened the kit once more and was now cleaning the broken man's chest wounds as best as he could. Billy looked at them both and then went back up on the deck. Soon thereafter Pierre and Jim could feel the boat making its wide turn to head back to land.
Jim sighed and nodded at Pierre, "Make your French ass useful and get over here."
Jim sat in a rough wooden chair, next to the hurt man's bunk, with his hands covering his eyes. "We're about an hour and a half out," Billy said in reference to where exactly they were in the gulf, "How is he?"
Jim looked up and saw Billy standing in the cabin, leaning on the table, "Idjit still hasn't woken up, doubt he will."
"Dean..." the man then whispered.
Billy looked at Jim and then limped over, "Damn it, Jim, aren't you tired of being wrong?"
"Hell, boss, I ain't no doctor, how the hell am I supposed to know this shit?" he snapped as he leaned forward and began to lightly (well, lightly for a rough fisherman from Louisiana) slap the hurt man's cheeks, "Hey, wake up!"
"Jim, cool it!" Billy said placing a hand on his second in command's shoulder. "Go up on deck, get some air."
"I think I should..."
"I think you need to listen to my orders, boy. Now git!"
Jim scowled but did as he was told. Once he was gone Billy smirked and walked over to the sole cabinet in the kitchen area of the cabin. "Dean...no," the man whispered once more.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Billy pulled out an unmarked bottle half full of clear liquid. He put the cork in his teeth and pulled it out before spitting it onto the counter. A quick whiff of the contents made his throat burn and is eyes water. Nothing like good old, homemade, moonshine. "You and your Dean bullshit," he grumbled as he grabbed a small metal coffee cup and carefully filled it. He then walked over to the man's bedside and sat down. With one hand he tilted the man's head up and with the other he carefully poured the moonshine down.
For a moment nothing happened and then, in the next, the broken man began to cough and convulse. "Easy, boy," Billy said as he helped the man sit up and pat his back hard. When the man was done Billy helped lay him back down and then leaned in. "Now, boy, you're going to tell me everything starting with your name."
The man closed his eyes and turned his head to the side, "I'm much too weak."
"No yer not. Yer talking just fine. Now tell me who the hell you are and who this Dean feller is."
"He is of no importance to you. I am Castiel, I was once an angel of the Lord."
"Boy, I know I didn't give you that much moonshine so you better start talking some sense before I beat some into you." Billy said rather impatiently, "I don't mean to be rude to no guests or nothing, but you just showed up on my ship all cut up with dem witch symbols and expect me to be okay with it?"
"They are not witch symbols. It is an angel banishing sigil."
"Well now I've heard everything. So tell me, why do you have one of them sigils carved into your chest, Mr. Angel of the Lord?"
"It is of no matter."
"Like hell it ain't, did you do it to yourself?"
Castiel looked up at the wood beams of the deck above and paused in thought. He knew this moment of clarity, of consciousness, was fleeting and he couldn't waste what he thought were his last living moments trying to explain the apocalypse to a fisherman of Louisiana. "Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men," he mumbled to himself.
"Mark 1:17," Billy said softly, "You sure are a funny one, boy."
Castiel closed his eyes and searched for his powers. He knew they we fleeting but if there was a chance a little bit of them were still there then maybe he could do one last, good thing before he died. "William."
Billy looked at Castiel and leaned in, "What did you say?"
"William Handlebolt of Delacroix Louisiana, your leg, it is not well."
Billy looked down at his right leg and rubbed it, "Who the hell are you?" he whispered.
"Your leg was hurt in a fishing accident fourteen years ago and since then you have not been able to walk properly since," Castiel took a deep breath and fought the urge to let go of life as a wave of exhaustion swept over him. He took his left hand and placed it on Billy's right leg. The shrimping man stared at Castiel when he was suddenly hit with a wave of pain in his leg. He fell out of his chair and out of Castiel's grip.
"What the hell..."
"Because somebody must have faith, especially now that I have lost mine," Castiel said in reference to Dean, not that Billy would ever know. He then waited for death to come. He had just used the tiny amount of angel powers that he had left and now it would only be a matter of time before his now human body would give out. Castiel closed his eyes and slipped into a deep coma.
"Boss, what the hell is going on?" Jim yelled as he came running into the cabin followed by Pierre.
Billy didn't answer. Instead he ripped open his pant leg and examined the flesh of his calve. It was all there. The chunk of meat that had been torn out in that fishing accident all those years ago was back. It was like the whole incident had never happened.
Billy the Kid sat at a murky and dirty bar just off the harbor and nursed his beer. He wasn't one to let nice tall glass of ale go warm but, if the condensation on the glass and the small water that had gathered at the bottom was any indication, that did not seem to matter tonight. He played with the peanut shells that had gathered next to his glass when the bell on the door rang as another patron walked in. Billy did not even bother to look up and a moment later the stool next to him screeched lightly as it rubbed against the floor. "Hey, boss."
"Jim." they were silent for another ten minutes. "Jim…?"
"You did good today."
Then there was more silence. Once in a while a hiccough from the drunk man in the booth in the far reaches of the bar was heard, but that was all. The bar tender came over and gave Jim another pint of beer. Jim, unlike his boss, did not carefully sip the brew. Instead he took it in with full gulps and, when he stopped for a breath, he merely looked ahead in deep thought.
It wasn't long before the third showed up. Pierre held up two fingers as he sat down on the left side of Billy and pulled over the bowl of peanuts. The bar tender placed two shots in front of him and he took them both in succession. The bar tender didn't ask what was wrong with any of them, even though he had seen them plenty of times in his establishment and considered them some of his best patrons, he just let them be.
As Jim sipped his third pint he briefly asked if any of them had heard about their strange passenger. Pierre downed his third shot and leaned in on the bar as Billy spoke up, "Only that they don't expect him to wake up. Doctors say he's brain dead or something."
Jim shook his head, "Never thought I'd see the day…"
Pierre followed it up with, "Aux calendes grecques," and when he was met by confused and annoyed stares from his friends he shrugged his shoulders, "It means 'On the first day of the Greek calendar'," the expressions of Billy and Jim did not change. "As you would say, 'When pigs fly', maybe?"
Jim shook his head and took another drink as Billy sighed, "You and your crazy French talk…is that even a common phrase over there?"
"I wouldn't use it if it weren't." Billy grunted and took a sip of his ale. When he felt how warm it had got he wrinkled his nose, put the glass down, and pushed it away.
"So, boss, what happened?" Jim asked referring to what had become the humongous elephant in the room.
Billy looked down at his leg and shook his head, "I dunno. You think I'd be sitting here wasting a damn good beer if I did?"
Pierre held up three fingers and patted his boss in his back, "Where I come from we have a saying…"
"Jesus, Pierre, the last thing we need is another one of your crazy French phrases."
"No, this one you need," he said as the bar tender placed three shots of whisky in front of him. He slid one down to each of his friends and then picked up his own. The other two followed suit, "Don't question a miracle."
"Aw shit, Pierre, we have that here too. But hell, I'll drink to that." Jim and Pierre threw back their shots but Billy just stared at the small glass in his hands. Jim set his down on the counter and looked at Billy, "Boss?"
Billy set down the drink and got off his stool, "You know, boys, I think I drink too much," he said softly, "I'm going for a long walk."