Title: Freedom comes naturally
Rating: T (only this chapter, rating will definitely change in later chapters)
Disclaimer: Not mine, don't make money, do it just for fun
Author's notes: Hey guys, I'm back and full of inspiration. This is the first chapter of the fic I promised to write, although it turns out less serious than I intended, but hey, maybe that's a good thing. The title comes from the song "Bliss" by Muse. Please note that it's unedited, all mistakes are mine.
…Angels are not endowed with cardiognosis (knowledge of the secrets of the heart) nor with
a certain knowledge of future acts of the free will; these being exclusively divine prerogatives.
- Pascal P. Parente
The aftermath of the Apocalypse is no less disastrous than the Apocalypse itself.
With Michael and Lucifer now trapped in the cage, both Heaven and Hell are left without command and the fewer angels who haven't abandoned their home now try to establish order in the smoking remnant of the world.
Evil has gone loose - monsters and demons no longer hide but ravage the earth in search for easy prey and people are losing their faith and hope for salvation.
There is so much to do, so many things to take care of but the forces of Heaven are limited as never before.
And even tough Castiel is now much more powerful than he was he's never felt so weak and helpless at the same time.
"Tell me what is bothering you." he hears Raphael's voice.
Raphael now commands the heavenly Host. So was decided because he is the only one of it's previous superiors who has survived.
Castiel is now one of the Host's superiors, too – he and Raphael have agreed to forget their controversies and the fact that Raphael once killed Castiel.
"We are losing our soldiers." he replies. "Our ranks are weakening, brother. Ramiel and Raziel have abandoned us today."
"It was only a matter of time." Raphael sounds unsurprised. "I felt it, and you felt it too, Castiel. It was in them."
"Still, it doesn't reduce the loss. My heart aches for them." he feels Raphael reaching out for his grace, trying to read him.
"There is something else, isn't it?"
"Of course there is. We have destroyed our Father's creation, Raphael, we have almost destroyed humanity. And it's beyond our power to restore it. We are helpless."
"Don't blame yourself too much, Castiel. Think about it. If Father let this happen, then he doesn't care about humans anymore."
"I don't think so." Castiel objects bitterly. "Maybe he wanted us to intervene."
"I'm sorry, brother." Raphael says and Castiel feels that he means it. "But all we can do now is restore the order. And we need you on this. After all, if it's Father who brought you back then he thinks you can do it. And you're doing great so far." he pauses, and Castiel once again feels that he's reaching out for his grace, searching for something. "But there is more, isn't it? There is something else that bothers you."
Castiel doesn't reply. Raphael already knows it. Castiel waits until he says it himself.
"It's Dean Winchester, isn't it?"
The sound of the name affects him more than he cares to admit.
"It is natural that I am concerned about him." Castiel replies evenly. "He is my charge."
He didn't realize he was so transparent. If Raphael sensed that easily, then probably all other angels did, too.
He worries about Dean. They haven't seen each other since their conversation in the Impala on the night Dean was heading to Braeden's. But Castiel still feels the need to check on him once in a while.
Whenever he manages to find time, he reaches out for Dean's consciousness, mostly at night, when the ex-hunter is sleeping. He doesn't know what exactly he's looking for, probably just a confirmation that Dean is alive and happy.
"He is not your charge anymore." Raphael says. "You should remember that."
"Father once charged me with him, and I still feel responsible. I feel there's something wrong with him and that bothers me."
"Is it something serious?"
Castiel shakes his head.
"I don't know, I'm not sure yet. It's vague."
"You've always been a devoted soldier, Castiel, maybe that's why Father has been so gracious to you. But now you have greater things to worry about." there is sense in Raphael's words, but Castiel is still unconvinced. "Send another angel if you need to. Let him check on Dean Winchester."
"I don't think there's a need…"
"Then forget it, Castiel. There is nothing you have to do, unless the human asks for it. Unless he prays for you, it is none of your concern."
"Yes. You are right." Castiel finally agrees, although deep inside he is still unsure.
Dean himself may not realize that something is wrong.
"Thank you, brother." he says nevertheless.
"We should go now. The Council needs to decide who will take places of Ramiel and Raziel."
"I will be with you shortly."
Raphael is right, Dean doesn't need him anymore. He is safe, he has family now and his brother is alive.
Castiel had to put great effort into bringing Sam back and restoring his damaged body. It is time Castiel returned to his main task – serving Heaven.
However, the very next night he reaches for Dean's sleeping consciousness once again.
When autumn comes to the small town of Cicero, Dean Winchester realizes it's been almost six moths since they trapped Lucifer and ended the Apocalypse.
It's been almost six months since Sam was returned from Hell by whoever it was – they still don't know - and it's been almost six months since he started living with the Braedens.
It's been eventful time. He finally settled down, got to know Lisa and Ben better. Lisa was very kind to accept him and didn't ask any questions, and Dean is still thankful for that. She's a smart and understanding woman and they've been doing well so far.
He found a job in a garage - fixing cars is the only thing except for hunting that he is good at. It's not much money and it's not the most glamorous work in the world, but he likes it. Fixing cars sets his mind at rest.
He spends his free time with Lisa and Ben and meets with Sam almost every week to have a beer or two.
Sam is still hunting and he stays most of his time at Bobby's. The older hunter, after getting the ability to walk again, is happy to hunt, they often do it together. And although Dean would like his brother to give up hunting, he cannot deny that there's still much work for them to do.
In fact, there are now even more evil occurrences than before or during the Apocalypse, thus both Sam and Bobby are pretty busy.
Still, they find time to gather at Bobby's once in a while, although at some point Dean notices that both his brother and the older hunter avoid talking about hunts with him. It is as if they try to protect Dean from it, which is a little offensive.
"It's none of your concern, Dean. Now you have other things to worry about." Sam says every time Dean attempts to complain. "You've got a family who needs you."
"You are my family, too, Sam. You and Bobby. I want to help you."
"We're fine, Dean."
That's how it always goes.
It feels weird to have a normal life, feels weird to finally get what he always wanted, but maybe that's how happiness feels.
These days his biggest concerns are Ben's school grades and the strange sound the Impala's engine makes, which feels great at first.
But soon he realizes he doesn't know what to do with all the free time he has. Lisa spends most of her time either working or managing the household, Sam is constantly away hunting.
Dean spends his time with Ben, taking him to baseball and camping, trying to be as close to a father as it is possible. But he also feels the need for an adult company, the need for a friend. Years of traveling and hunting, however, did not allow much time for bonding with others. The only friends he has are Sam and Bobby. And Cas.
Thinking of which, Dean realizes it's been also six months since he last spoke to the guy. He remembers being angry at him, angry for his sudden leave and lack of proper goodbyes. After all, they have been through much together and Dean expected to get more than just a cliché as a farewell. 'Peace or freedom.' What does that even mean?
He wonders whether he'll ever see Cas again. And what's it like in Heaven right now? Is Cas a big boss there, do all other angels obey him, do they treat him as their superior? Knowing Castiel, they probably do.
Dean smiles involuntarily, imagining how Cas commands the Host.
Then he remembers the almost human Cas and how they drank tequila with Ellen, how he once barged into a liquor store and 'drank it' and how they went to a brothel and were kicked out after Cas told one of the girls the truth about her father. That was good times.
He sits in the backyard of Lisa's house – he still doesn't think of it as of 'their house'- sips on his beer and feels the pleasant warmth spreading over his insides. It might be the booze but it also might be nostalgia. If so, he's probably getting older.
He suddenly wishes Cas were here, he kind of misses the guy. Surely things get awkward around him sometimes, especially when it comes to issues of personal space and his social skills leave much to be desired, but Dean wishes he had the chance to talk to him once in a while.
And maybe his subconscious agrees with that because lately Dean dreams of feathers and flutter of wings, which is confusing.
"I wanna go hunting again." he says next time he meets his brother.
Sam sounds tired when he replies. "We've been through this Dean. You're not going."
"Come on, Sammy, it's just once. It's not like I'm gonna travel around the country again."
Sam shakes his head. "You're not going."
"Look, Ben is staying at his friend's this weekend and Lisa has that book club going on and then a friend of hers comes over. I'll be bored!"
"Find something else to do. Go to a bar, make new friends."
"You know I can't bang other chicks now, don't you? It kinda goes with the whole 'I have a family' thing. I'm not gonna cheat on Lisa, not after what she's done for me."
"Dude, making friends doesn't necessarily mean banging chicks. You could, I dunno, play pool, maybe?"
"Play pool while you guys have all the real fun? No dice!"
"It's not like you have a choice here."
So he spends Saturday morning in the garage keeping himself busy. It is around lunchtime when he realizes he's finished all work and got nothing else to do.
Lisa's friend Angela has come by, and Dean wants to give them time for chick flick talk.
So he grabs a beer and sits outside on the hood of the Impala, humming the 'Nothing else matters' to himself quietly.
He feels a little sad and misplaced, as if he doesn't belong in here.
He sighs and tries to distract himself from these thoughts. Once again he wonders what Cas is doing up there. Suddenly he looks up at the sky and says, surprising even himself:
"Hey, Cas! How are you there, buddy?"
There is no reply. He stares up for a while but nothing happens. He feels stupid.
Seriously, why would Cas bother to even listen, let alone reply? He's pretty busy upstairs and won't waste his time on Dean.
He sighs and takes a large swig of beer.
They are in the middle of the Council when Castiel hears the familiar voice. It sounds clearly in his head, as if Dean were standing right next to him. He hears the human say his name. Dean is calling for him.
Castiel tries not to show up his sudden emotion, but his brothers have probably felt it, because the next moment all of their attention is drawn at him.
"What is it, Castiel?" Raphael asks, although Castiel is sure he knows everything.
"It's my charge." he replies. "Dean Winchester." he hears angels starting to whisper.
"What does he want?"
"I don't know yet. But he is calling for me. I need to go." he makes an attempt to leave, but Raphael stops him before he does.
"We need you here, Castiel. You cannot leave now."
"I have to." Castiel states firmly, and Raphael probably senses his determination, realizes that it is useless to argue.
He nods reluctantly and Castiel hurries down to earth before Raphael changes his mind.
Dean hears the flutter of wings behind his back. The sound is familiar, but it startles him nevertheless, makes him jump and turn around.
Castiel is standing in front of him – hair mussed up even more than he remembers it be, crumpled trench coat hanging loosely from the slender shoulders.
"Cas!" it's rather a yelp than a greeting.
"Hello, Dean." Castiel is staring at him examiningly, just like he always does, and the stare gives rise to a wave of memories in Dean's head.
He wants to make a step forward, wants to give Cas a hug. But instead, they just stand awkwardly staring at each other.
"You called me." Cas finally says.
"Um, yeah." Dean gives him a sheepish smile. "I guess I did."
"Has something happened?" there is now concern in the angel's eyes.
Dean frowns. "No. Why?"
"Something has troubled you for a while now. I thought that's the reason why you called."
"How did you…" Dean starts, but then realization strikes. "Oh no. Tell me you didn't get into my head!"
Castiel looks somewhere past Dean.
"I might have." he says carefully.
"Dude! I asked you not to do that! It's unfair!"
"It wasn't intentional, Dean." that is only half true. "Sometimes I just hear your voice in my head." Cas says, looking back at him.
"Any why would that be?"
"I believe it's because we are still connected." Castiel glances briefly at Dean's left shoulder, then returns his gaze to the man's face.
"Connected, right." More staring follows and Dean notices that Cas looks tired. It's nothing tangible, but there's something missing in his eyes, a glowing that once was there. "Anyway, don't do that. It's creepy. And I'm good, dude, seriously, I am."
The angel studies him for a while. "Alright then." He makes a step back but Dean is fast enough to grab his shoulder.
"Whoa, whoa, wait!"
Castiel shifts his eyebrows in an unspoken question.
"You can't just zap off on me like that!" Because seriously? That's just rude.
"I have work to do, Dean. My time is very limited." He could already imagine Raphael's irritation upon his return. "Unless your life is in danger, I should not be here."
"Well, you could at least grab a beer with an old friend." Dean says and reaches for the six-pack he brought for himself, taking out two bottles.
Castiel stares at the offered beer, hesitating, but then accepts it.
Dean grins. "That's right." He leans against the hood of the Impala and gestures for Cas to join him. "You know, it wasn't very nice when you disappeared last time. You could at least say 'goodbye."
"I'm sorry." Cas says as he also leans against the hood of the car. "I didn't realize it's so important to you."
"Whatever, man." Dean sips on his beer and stares in front of him, feeling Castiel's trench coat clad shoulder brushing against his. "So, how's Wonderland? Found the white rabbit yet?"
"Heaven is in disarray." Castiel replies. It seems that he finally got used to Dean's obscure references and gave up trying to understand them. "And so is Hell."
"You tell me, Sam and Bobby are swamped with work." he suddenly wonders whether Cas knows about Sam's return. "You know that Sam's back, right?"
Castiel nods. "It wasn't that easy to drag him out. It took much effort to restore his body either."
Dean stares at the angel in sheer surprise. "So that was you!" words hardly come out of his mouth. "Cas, you…Thanks." Once again, he feels an urge to hug the guy, because that's the greatest thing somebody has ever done for him.
And Dean is probably looking very stupid right now, because there is an amused smile playing at the corners of Castiel's mouth.
"You are welcome, Dean." he says solemnly.
It takes few minutes to process the new piece of information, and then Dean asks:
"So what, Sam's your charge now, too?"
Castiel shakes his head. "Nobody commanded me to drag Sam out. Nobody charged me with him."
There is a thought that nobody dares to voice.
Castiel did it for Dean.
"Thanks, Cas." Dean says once again and smiles. Castiel smiles back.
They drink the rest of their beers in silence that hangs comfortably between them. There are many questions to be asked, many things to be told, but somehow they seem unimportant right now.
They sit like that for a while but finally Castiel downs the rest of his beer and stands up.
"I have to go. The Host demands my presence."
Dean nods. "Hey, you can drop in anytime. Whenever you can."
"Thank you. Although I doubt I will have a chance any time soon." Castiel steps away, preparing to leave, but this time he locks his eyes with Dean's and says: "Goodbye, Dean."
Dean can't help but smile. It would be hard to get used to Cas' goodbyes now.
At dinner, Lisa asks him who was the guy Dean drank beer with and Dean says it's an old friend who is passing through the town and decided to come by.
"He seems like a nice guy. And good looking, too. Angela wondered whether he is single." Lisa says. "Is he?"
"I… guess." Dean says carefully.
Lisa smiles contentedly. "Great! Maybe we could go on a double date then?"
Dean gapes at her. A double date?
Lisa notices his confusion. "Oh, no. He is not gay, is he?"
"No! No, he's not." Dean hurries to assure her. "He's just… a very busy person."
"Oh, I'm sure he could find some time! He will like Angela, I promise. Besides, double dates are fun!."
Dean thinks that 'fun' isn't the right word for it.