Title: All in Angelic Perspective
Summary: Castiel endures his loneliness as the end of an era approaches. Companion piece to 'That Old Illusion of Free Will'.
Disclaimer: "Supernatural was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is intended.
Notes: I felt that Castiel needed a bit more closure than he had at the end of 'That Old Illusion…', but to add this as an epilogue to the actual piece didn't quite work. I decided to make it a companion piece instead.
There were many trials that were only human to bear.
Loneliness, however wasn't one of them. It was a thing that even the angels could feel as time marched on, especially if the angel in question remained slightly apart from his brothers and sisters.
Castiel knew loneliness that, at times, made him ache inside, yet he persevered; he endured with the knowledge that in the angelic scope of things, his trial of loneliness was not a long one. In terms of angelic perspective, forty to fifty years was a the barest flicker of an eyelid.
Still, he ached. He learned to take the moments he had with those he had come to love and treasure each one all the more for the earthly brevity of them.
That was not to say that he didn't have other friends, because he did. He had Gabriel at first, who slowly became more than a colleague, and while they weren't close friends, Cas knew he could call on Gabriel at any time. There were a few other angels he'd begun tentative ties with and, of course, he had Amelia.
Strange to have her as a friend when it was he who'd taken Jimmy from her. She'd forgiven him that, suddenly, one evening when he was telling her about Dean and Theresa and the dance those two did around each other.
"You don't have to keep coming to see me, Castiel," she said. "I forgive you for taking Jimmy from me."
"I didn't ask for forgiveness, Amelia."
"I give it anyway and I do realize that the circumstances were out of your control."
He looked away from her, feeling the tiniest bit lighter, as though her forgiveness had taken some weight from him. "I don't come to see you from guilt." Though perhaps there had been a fraction of that in his initial decision.
"Then why?" She shook her head, curiosity in her eyes.
"I think of you as a friend. Someone I can converse with when I don't have a body."
Amelia sat back, staring at him a long moment before asking, "You want a dead human as a friend?"
"I have live humans as friends. Why not a dead one as well? They'll all be here eventually, so they'll all one day be as dead as you. I see no problem with befriending you."
She smiled. "You have a point."
Amelia became a friend in full and his loneliness lessened a fraction.
Jo gave birth to a healthy girl they named Katherine Anne Novak. Castiel was even allowed to hold her, a new experience for him. His heart pounded and he was very afraid he'd drop her. Jo said it was normal and adjusted Katie in his arms. He looking down at Katie. She made a cooing noise and opened her eyes.
Right then, he knew that Katie would one day be the one to take the yoke of being his vessel from Jimmy. Cas kept that knowledge to himself. He'd come to wish that Jimmy was free. It tore Jimmy up to leave Jo and Katie for any length of time even though he knew Jo knew he'd be back. It still hurt him and Castiel didn't wish Jimmy to feel pain.
He'd come to love Jimmy the way he loved Dean. Maybe not exactly, but it was love. He wished no pain to befall either of them, especially pain caused by him.
He began to prepare for the day that Jimmy - and he - would be free. He'd be free himself to move about the earth as easily as he moved about heaven.
Another weight eased from him and he turned his attention to another pressing matter: As days turned into weeks, months, and years, his earthly friends were growing older and unfortunately, the human body grew frail as it aged. The time was coming for them to begin coming to heaven one by one. Castiel set about preparing for their arrival like a hostess eagerly planning and preparing for a party. He wanted everything to be right for each of them. As they'd taken care of him once, he wanted to take care of them.
He found those the first one coming cared about and gathered them, readying a welcome party and while there was a Reaper present at the death, so too was Cas present. So below, there also above.
Bobby Singer came first, startled because the heaven he saw wasn't the one Dean and Sam had told him about. "They got it wrong."
"No," Castiel replied, "they had it right, but when heaven fell apart for angels, it also fell apart for humans. While I can put heaven to order for angels, this I can't put back in place. I think only God can do that and he's not home yet."
"Gabriel says he plans to come home eventually. I suppose he'll take care of it when he returns." Or not. If it was supposed to be fixed, Castiel thought that God might have fixed that already, or made it so it never broke to begin with. He motioned at the people waiting. "You're home, Bobby, really home. You're family waits."
Bobby started forward, then looked back over his shoulder. "You comin'?"
"Not yet." He watched Bobby disappear into the crowd and made plans for the next one.
Ellen Harvelle got to have four grandchildren call her grandma before she died and stood beside Castiel in heaven. She looked down at herself and laughed. "I'm young again."
"You see yourself at the age you were most comfortable."
She looked at the crowd waiting. A man stepped forward.
She took a step back. "Cas, is that…."
"Your husband. It took awhile to find him, but he's here. Bobby, too. Your parents, your best friend from high school, and others."
"Is this a standard greeting?"
He shook his head. "No. I arranged this for you."
"Why?" She took his arm, turned him and looked up at him.
"You're my friend, Ellen. I do this for my friends."
Raising a hand, she touched his cheek, patted it. "You're a good angel, Castiel."
Ellen joined the crowd and was soon gone from sight.
For the moment, he could relax again, and wait, performing earthly duties and heavenly ones. He watched Jimmy and Jo's children grow up, forging friendships with Katie and her sisters, speaking to them like he did with Jimmy. He didn't focus on Katie in particular because he didn't want to influence the decision she would eventually make.
Castiel waited, not quite as lonely as he'd been in heaven. He had Bobby, Ellen, and Amelia now. Three friends above that he could speak with regularly, four still below that he couldn't.
Katie married and had children of her own, twin boys that were rambunctious and very much like their father, Matt. And then Katie experienced heartbreak. Her husband died in an accident. She'd begged Gabriel to bring him back, yet when Gabriel refused, she broke down and Castiel went to her.
From a young age, she'd been able to distinguish with a glance between Castiel and her father. Now was no different.
"Go away, Cas. Just go away."
He put his arms around her as he'd done with Jo when Ellen had died and held her as she poured out her pain.
"It's not fair!" She railed and screamed and became very quiet. He braced himself for her plea and wasn't disappointed. She drew back, the desperation on her features very much like what he'd seen on Dean's face and in his eyes in the past. "I'll do it. I'll be your vessel. Right now. Take me. I'll do it."
Castiel shook his head in refusal and pulled her back against him. Now wasn't the time. Her offer came from the emotional pain she felt. It wasn't genuine, merely an attempt to escape her pain. "You've two young children to raise, Katie. Raise them and if you still wish to accept me when they're grown, I'll take you as my vessel instead of Jimmy."
She held him in return. "I won't forget."
Every year she reminded him and every year she made more plans for her earthly belongings in preparation for that day. She was almost…eager for it. He had Jimmy sit down with her and again explain what it felt like to be a vessel, yet that didn't deter her one iota.
Her sisters had no wish to be vessels. Katie did. Strange. He wondered if future generations would be like this one. He wondered how vessel-angel relationships would change by necessity.
Castiel turned his attention to Sam and Dean.
As Bobby and Ellen had remained in Jo and Jimmy's lives until their deaths, so did Sam and Dean. They, too watched the girls grow and Dean's sons with Theresa Merrin played with them. Dean never married Theresa, but his definition of normal took a definite turn as he continued to observe Jimmy and Jo's relationship.
At long last, Dean Winchester had found happiness and a family of his own. He found the balance he'd been searching for between the life he led and the life he wanted. As Ellen once told him, "If something is important enough, you'll find a way to have it." She'd been talking about Bill Harvelle then, telling a story of their life together.
Dean had taken her point to heart and through him, Michael's vessel line lived on.
Castiel wondered what made up the genetic difference between regular grade vessel mates and archangel grade vessel mates. It wasn't a question he'd ever have an answer for, just something he thought on occasionally.
Sam didn't marry either, though Castiel knew Sam had children he wasn't aware of. He hadn't been as careful as he usually was. He'd made the decision not have children, not to let Lucifer's vessel line continue, yet the vessel line lived on despite him. As careful as he was, it didn't hinder what had to happen.
Castiel never told him.
Everyone had free will. Even the angels. He exercised his free will in the decision.
"Chicken," Gabriel said, sauntering in to the reality Castiel was preparing for Sam.
"You believe me wrong in my decision not to reveal that he has children?" He glanced at the one woman Sam had loved with all of himself. "Will this suffice for now, Jess?" She was helping him create the reality.
"It's perfect," she said with a smile that was absolutely lovely. Jess had been a beautiful woman in body and spirit. "Sam's going to love it."
Gabriel sighed. "The line has to go on. I do think you're chicken for not telling him, though. He has no idea which woman had the boys."
"Got that right."
"He'd go back through his contacts, trace his steps, and he'd find them. No. I choose not to tell him and, in the future, those children will make choices. Perhaps good, perhaps bad. The Winchester era is coming to an end, Gabriel. The children will go on, Sam and Dean will come here and not once will they think of the earth once they arrive."
"Not true. Ellen still thinks of Jo. Bobby of Sam and Dean. What makes you think they won't?"
"Because." He motioned to another woman who'd joined them. "Jess, this is Mary, Sam's mother. She'll aid you in finishing this." Cas went to Gabriel. "They won't think of the earth because they're ready for rest. It's been far too long for both of them."
By earthly standards, it was years still before Sam arrived. By angelic ones, it was merely a moment.
Sam didn't move towards those waiting. "Cas…."
He motioned towards them. "Go on."
"This isn't the heaven I remember."
"That's because it isn't that heaven. It's changed and those you love are waiting."
"Dean's alone down there, Cas. You and I both know he can't be alone."
"I'll be with him."
"Soon." He swallowed the lump in his throat and left Sam. He meant that word 'soon'. In a few days, Katie would be speaking to Jimmy and Jo and then, she'd become his vessel. He'd be free to go to Dean and stay with him in the end. The anticipation made him remain close to Katie throughout those days.
Castiel watched her speak to her boys, explaining to them what she was doing and why. They made an arrangement: once a year, on their birthday, she'd come to see them without Castiel. He saw no reason not to abide by that promise. It kept her in their lives.
Katie went to the new house Jimmy and Jo lived in. Once it had become apparent they weren't aging like other parents, Gabriel had moved them, but kept the original house for them. She let herself in. Castiel could hear her thinking how weird it was that she looked like her mother's older sister now and that she had a brother and sister younger than her own sons.
He was careful not to get too close.
They sat at the kitchen table, Katie beginning the conversation. "It's that day, dad, the day I told you about after Matt died. I'm accepting Castiel."
There were tears in Jimmy's eyes and Jo's lower lip began to quiver. "No, baby -"
"It's what I want. It's what I've wanted for fifteen years now."
"You've got a whole life ahead of you -"
"Dad, I've had a life and I know I'll never love any man but Matt. The boys are grown and on their own and I want to do this." She tucked her hair behind her ears. "Look, I know what happened back then, with Claire. You don't mention her much, but mom has. She told me the story once. You took Castiel back because you wanted Claire to have a life. You wanted to protect her. That's noble, but let me give you your life back. I'm going into this knowing exactly what I'm getting myself into."
He'd spoken with her many times over the years, telling her all of the things that weren't so pleasant for vessels. It wasn't that he'd tried to deter her. Far from it. Castiel had wanted her to have the facts, to make the informed decision Jimmy hadn't been able to make in the beginning.
"You've decided," Jo said.
"Yeah, I have."
"We can't stop you."
Katie nodded. "I know, but I want your blessing. I've done my bit to carry on the lines. Now I can do what I was born to do."
Jimmy sat back. Castiel could see the resignation and sadness on his face even from where he hovered above. He nodded. "I love you, Katie. You and Castiel take good care of each other."
She smiled. "It's not like I won't ever come around."
"I know." Getting up, he embraced her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head like he'd done when she was a child. "But when you do, it'll be very…different." He left the room and Katie was alone with Jo.
"Now I know how your grandma felt." She nodded. "I knew this was coming. He did, too, sweetie. We just…. You can't really prepare yourself for this." She tipped her head back, voice raising slightly. "Castiel, I know you're up there somewhere, so listen up. You'd better take good care of her."
He smiled to himself and waited until Katie had left the house before joining with her, making the process as swift as he could. Castiel took a moment to orient himself and fix the gender change in her mind, then went to be with Dean.
She found him at home. His family wasn't with him, Theresa out with one son running errands and the other son was at work and wouldn't be by until later. Dean's family would be devastated by his death at first. His eldest son would find him while Theresa was still coming in from the garage. He'd try to make her stay outside and be unable. It'd take both sons to pry Theresa from Dean so his body could be taken away.
"Cas?" Dean looked her over. "You're a girl now."
He sat up and Castiel was saddened to see the effort it took him. While strong for his age, Dean's body had still aged like all human bodies did. There was still a break-down and a hint of frailty that crept in. "How'd Jimmy and Jo take it?"
"They were upset. Understandably. Their firstborn chose that path."
"Yeah, well I kind of thought she would. Matt's death was bad for her, like a part of her got buried with him. I can relate to that kind of pain." He coughed, a hacking that shook his body and brought tears to his eyes. "Sorry. I'm supposedly recovering from a bout of pneumonia, but I can't seem to lick it. Anyway, she's not lonely anymore, is she? She's got you."
"That's one way to look at it." She sat on the couch beside him. There was a reason Dean wasn't recovering. He wasn't supposed to. Had he realized it yet? "Did she speak to you about it?"
"And Sam - before he died a few weeks ago. Talked to both of us several times. That girl knew exactly what she wanted. Always did. She's just like her mom. Headstrong and full of sass."
Castiel sat back. Their shoulders brushed. "She's peaceful in her decision in a way Jimmy never was."
Dean sighed. "Why're you here, Cas? You've been popping in now and then for years. Why the sudden need for buddy time?"
"I came to be with you."
His laugh was phlegm-y and sounded just as painful as his cough had. "What, we going to relive old times? Or is this a last moment on earth before I go?"
"Dean…." She had no words to say regarding the truth he'd spoken.
Dean's gaze turned to the framed pictures Theresa kept on one table. Her with Dean. Them with their boys. Them with Sam. Castiel saw sadness flicker in his eyes. "Hell, I know it's coming. The medicine's not working, my body's wearing out, and I'm more tired than I've ever been. Damn, Cas, I'm ready to go." He looked at Castiel. "You once told me heaven had changed."
"It has. You'll be surprised."
"As long as it's a good surprise."
"It is. They're waiting for you, Dean."
He leaned his head back against the couch cushion. "Didn't bring Tessa with you by any chance, did you?"
"Tessa?" She thought a moment. "Oh, the Reaper you know. No, we move in different circles, she and I."
"Too bad." He closed his eyes. "I think I would have liked seeing her one last time." Dean's hand reached out, blindly grasping at her. "You're staying?"
"To the end."
"I've missed you, Cas."
"And I you." She grasped Dean's hand in hers.
Dean Winchester took a final breath, and was gone, dying the peaceful death few hunters ever did.
Castiel met him above.
The end of the Winchester era had come. There were other hunters that would carry on the work they'd begun. Cas smiled, but hung back when Dean tried to pull her forward with him.
"Cas? Come on. Looks like quite a party going on."
"Two more Dean."
"Jimmy and Jo?"
Dean went on without her.
She watched Jimmy and Jo from above and below, free now to come and go as she pleased. She saw Gabriel protecting them and their children, saw their children's children begin the new era of angelic vessels. It wasn't easy, not with the opposition on the earth. There were still demons looking for empty vessels, still creatures that roamed. She had the bulk of her friends above, but in the day Jimmy and Jo arrived….
Castiel ceased to know loneliness altogether.
Her trial had ended and she was free.