Title: And I Feel Fine
Characters: Dean, Sam, Bobby, Castiel, Eli (OC), Crowley, and more.
Rating: T for the first few chapters, then M
Spoilers: Fourth book in a series. Spoilers for all of the prior books, and Supernatural thru season 6.
Summary: Castiel is stuck in the wrong reality. In between fighting a war in Heaven and trying to stay alive, he has to find the woman he loves, deal with a belligerent Dean and soulless Sam, and reunite the three mismatched hunters, whether they want to or not. It's going to be a long year. AU season 6, fourth in a series.
Note #1: Eli is pronounced Ee-lye. Feedback is welcomed.
Note #2: GUYS THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT. PLEASE READ. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST BOOK. This is the fourth book in my It's The End 'verse. If you haven't already, please read It's The End, Of The World, and As We Know It, which follow seasons 4, 5, and beyond, respectively, or a lot of stuff won't make sense. And I Feel Fine follows season 6, though less so than the first two books. About half the book is with the boys, the other half is in the strangest places imaginable.
Chapter 1: The Exile Of Angels
It wasn't just the sneeze itself that took him by surprise, but the sheer force of it. Angels never sneezed, especially not this hard, like a hurricane exploding out of him. He reeled backward, flying out of his vessel, his wings unfolding. Just as reality unwound itself he flickered out of the earthly plane, wrapped in grace, completely unaffected by the material world crumbling.
When he returned, his vessel was missing. Castiel, in his true bright and shining form, hovered above the field in a fruitless search for Jimmy's body. He stretched out his mind, finally locating it in what humans might call 'storage'—the transdimensional pocket that angels stored their hosts when they were not needed.
He pulled Jimmy's empty body from its pocket of space-time, and settled back into his vessel with confusion. He didn't understand what had happened. One minute everything was falling apart, all the atoms in the universe spooling out like thread. But everything looked normal: the field was the same, the barrier in front of him still rock-solid and unbreakable. The Archangels were gone. And Eli…
He stifled a gasp. He couldn't feel her. A dull ache radiated outward from his heart, like a chunk of grace had been ripped away, and he realized that their connection was gone, which was impossible. Nothing could wipe away the brand, not even death.
It was only then that he noticed the new power coursing through him, more powerful than it had been before he was cast out of Heaven by the Archangels. His connection to Heaven was newly strong and sure; in fact, he could hear the buzzing of angels in the back of his mind, asking where he was; worried, even.
Castiel blocked them out. He didn't know what to do, so he went to Bobby's, flying there as fast as he could. The hunter's house was empty, but he paced through it anyway, calling out Dean and Sam's names. Finally, frustrated and panicking, he pulled out his cell phone and pressed his speed dial.
"Dean," Castiel rasped, clutching the tiny phone and feeling a swell of relief in his chest. "Where are you?"
There was a pause on the other end. "…Cas?"
Castiel frowned at the tone of Dean's voice. "Yes, it's me. Where are you?"
"Where the fuck do you think I am?" Dean asked, belligerent. "I'm at Lisa's. And where the fuck have you been? You just vanish on me and then…"
Castiel appeared behind the aggravated hunter, just as Dean was snapping into the phone: "…call me after a fucking year and you…"
"Dean," Castiel said, and Dean spun around, nearly dropping the phone.
"Dude, you can't do that!" he hissed, shoving the phone back in his pocket and looking around nervously. "You're lucky Lisa and Ben aren't here, I wouldn't want to explain to them the man that just magically appeared in our living room."
Castiel narrowed his eyes and surveyed the spacious, neat room. "What are you doing here, Dean?" he finally asked. Dean raised an eyebrow.
"I live here."
"…since when?" Castiel asked suspiciously, his brow deeply furrowed. He paced the room, inspecting it with critical eyes. "I thought that you only visited Lisa about once a month. And how did you get from Bobby's to here so fast? And where is Sam?"
Dean was silent. Castiel turned to him with worry. "Dean, where is Sam?"
"What do you mean, where is Sam?" Dean stuttered, angry and flustered. "Exactly where he's been for the past year: In hell. What is with you, Cas?"
"Sam went to hell?" Castiel asked, approaching Dean swiftly and peering into his face, as usual standing too close. Dean stepped back.
"What is going on?" he asked warily. "I mean, I don't hear from you for a year, and then you just bust in here talking about Sam and asking all kinds of fucked-up questions…what's the problem, Cas?"
Castiel ran a hand through his hair, a very human gesture. "I don't know," he admitted. "One minute I was facing down the Archangels, and then something happened. I don't know what. Eli did…something, but I can't find her. It's like our bond has been scrubbed off, but I know of nothing on Heaven or earth that could do that. And now you say it's been a year since I last saw you, when I know for a fact that six hours ago all of us—you, Sam, me, Eli, Bobby—were at Bobby's house. You let me out of the holy fire."
Dean held up his hands. "You're not making any sense. Dude, I haven't seen you for a year. I haven't even seen Bobby for a year. I've been living with Lisa ever since Sam went into the pit. And what the hell do you mean you were facing down Archangels? And who the hell is Eli?"
Castiel looked at him with something akin to panic. "What do you mean, who is Eli?" he asked, leaning even closer into Dean's personal space, causing the confused ex-hunter to back up a bit. "This isn't funny, Dean."
"I'm not joking!" he exclaimed. "Cas, I swear, I have no idea what you're talking about. Who is Eli?"
"Eli is…" Castiel said, then faltered, searching for the words. "Eli is a hunter, a Nephilim. She is my mate."
Dean's eyebrows shot up. "Your what now?" he asked. "I thought you were a virgin."
"What gave you that impression?" Castiel rasped, glaring at him. Dean shrugged.
"Uh, you did. Remember? The night before we snagged Raphael in the holy fire?" Castiel merely gave him a blank look, so he continued. "I took you to a brothel…"
"That is not what…" Castiel began, then doubled over in pain. It was like someone was taking a sledgehammer to his brain, pounding images and memories into his head that weren't there a moment ago.
"I shouldn't be here, Dean. This is a den of iniquity."
"Dude, you full on rebelled against Heaven. Iniquity is one of the perks."
"Cas?" Dean's voice was asking anxiously next to his ear, and he realized that the ex-hunter was holding him up. "Cas, what is it?"
"Knife," Castiel ground out, scrunching his eyes in pain. "Do you have the Knife? Ruby's Knife?"
"Uh, no," Dean said. "Meg stole it during our last show-down. Why?"
Castiel groaned. "I need it."
"I get that, but..." Dean stopped as Castiel twisted his hand in the air and the Knife was suddenly in it. "...you got it yourself. Didn't know you could do that. Might've been useful, in the past. Cas?"
The angel didn't answer, just held it in his hand and did something that Dean had seen him do once before: rip open his shirt and put the knife-edge against his skin, right above his heart.
"What are you doing?" Dean asked, aghast, as Castiel began to carve sigils into his own skill. "Cas, Cas stop, seriously, this is fucked up man. Stop it!"
He tried to grab at the Knife but Castiel elbowed him away, digging the blade in resolutely. "I can't," he ground out, wincing as the magical blade pierced his usually unbreakable shields. "It's happening now and I have to stop it."
"What's happening?" Dean asked.
Castiel finished his sigil and threw the Knife to the ground, where it stained the crème carpet with red droplets. He put his hand over the bloody symbol and closed his eyes, mumbling in Enochian. A light flared and then died, and when he removed his hand from over his heart the sigil was seared into the flesh like a brand.
"It's done," Castiel said, slumping onto the couch in his unbuttoned shirt.
"What's done?" Dean snapped. "Come on, man, answer something."
Castiel looked at him wearily. "I know what is going on now," he said in a low voice. "This world, it's not my world. Or, I am not supposed to be here. Not like this."
Dean merely glared at him. Castiel knew he wasn't making any sense, so he tried again. "I think the reality that I remember is like a…parallel universe. Or, it's this universe, except things went differently. Because of Eli. And she did something, she somehow changed reality so that we never met her, but the moment she did it I…"
"You what?" Dean asked, sinking down on the couch, wishing he had a beer. Castiel sighed and began to rebutton his shirt.
Dean leaned his head out and tilted it, like he hadn't heard correctly. "You…sneezed?"
Castiel nodded. "It was quite powerful," he said seriously. "It must have come from an outside force, but I'm not sure what. Perhaps the Antichrist. But it blew me out of my vessel and…perhaps out of time the moment that reality changed, and somehow I am still…me."
"A sneeze blew you out of time?" Dean asked skeptically. He shook his head, resisting the urge to laugh. "That must have been one hell of a sneeze."
Dean paused. "Wait, did you just say the Antichrist?"
"Not the one you know," Castiel said dismissively. Dean nearly choked.
"It is not of import."
"Of course not," Dean said, shaking his head. "We were, uh, talking about your magical sneeze."
"Of course," Castiel said, and paused, trying to put his thoughts together. "In another reality, you and Sam were helped in your quest to stop the apocalypse by a half-angel named Elijah Grant. Because of her, Sam never went to hell, and the catastrophic events leading up to the apocalypse were wiped from the record."
"That sounds great," Dean said, trying to accept the insanity of what his angelic friend was saying. "So why did she change history?"
"There were…complications," Castiel said. "The world was in danger, again. She believed, perhaps rightly, that by changing history so that she was never awoken, so that she never met any of us, she could save the world." He looked at the ground, his voice shaking. "All of the good that she did—undone in an instant. And here we are."
"And you and she…" Dean said with as much delicacy as he could muster. Castiel looked at him with that intense gaze.
"We were lovers," he said flatly. "Bonded. You would call it soul-mates."
"Ah," Dean said, rubbing the back of his neck with awkward motions, still trying to decipher all of this. "I don't know, Cas, this is pretty weird. You've always been the nerd virgin angel, and now you have a soul-mate? What do you expect me to think?"
Castiel knelt and picked the bloody blade off the ground. "You don't have to," he said. "Lift your shirt up and turn around."
"Woah!" Dean said, standing and backing up as Castiel approached him with single-minded intent. "What…what are you gonna do with that?"
"Carve you a sigil," he said. "This reality, it was intruding on my memories, trying to wipe them and replace them with the memories of this world. I stopped it just in time. Turn around, Dean."
"But I don't have those memories!" he protested. "It won't do any good. Cas, put the Knife down. You're acting crazy!"
A soft voice interrupted the action. Dean groaned and turned to see Lisa and Ben standing in the doorway, their faces white. "Is, uh, is everything okay?"
Dean knew how it must look: Himself backing away from a strange man in a half-unbuttoned shirt with crazy eyes, who was brandishing a bloody knife.
"Fine!" Dean said, his voice a little higher than normal. "This is…an old friend. Cas. Cas, this is Lisa and Ben."
Castiel flickered his gaze to the interlopers. "Charmed," he said shortly.
"The Knife!" Dean hissed. Castiel looked at his hand as if surprised to find the Knife still in it. He hesitated, then put it behind his back as if that could hide its existence.
"If you could please excuse us…" Castiel muttered. "We have some things to discuss." Lisa and Ben just stared at him. "Privately," he added.
"It's okay," Dean said in a soothing voice, walking to them, ruffling Ben's hair and stroking Lisa's arm with clear affection. "It's fine. Can you give us a minute?"
"You sure?" she murmured, eyeing Castiel with suspicion. Dean nodded and said something too quiet to hear. She squeezed his hand and ushered Ben out of the room, her pretty face still pale and nervous.
When she was gone Dean turned around and groaned. He buried his hands in the pockets of his old tan jacket, his shoulders tense, looking strangely old and wearied, like some bright light inside of him had been dampened. "Why are you here, Cas?"
"I told you."
"Yeah, yeah, other reality, some chick, I get it. But what do you want me to do about it? Your little sigil thing won't work on me—I'm not from that, you know, timeline." His voice was hoarse, almost exhausted, despite the fact that outside of the paned windows the sun was just setting on the horizon.
"Think of it like a road," Castiel said, placing the Knife on the glass coffee table and sitting delicately at the edge of the couch. After a moment he began to reknot his blue tie, fumbling, his long fingers oddly graceless. "There is one road, and then it forks in to two: This reality, and the other. Unconnected. We were, uh, driving down that road, and then put the car in reverse, went back to the fork, and took the other instead."
"First of all, Cas, metaphors are really not your thing," Dean said, sitting next to him. "But I get it. It seems straightforward enough." He leaned in and took the tie, deftly finishing the knot. There was a half-smile on his face; the shadowed fear in his eyes was retreating now that he knew that Castiel wasn't there to drag him back in to some kind of war. It felt like a family reunion, helping the beleaguered angel with some simple tasks and feeling inordinately good about it afterward. It was the gentlest intrusion in his new life that he could think of.
"I remember," Castiel said simply, staring at his hands, folded neatly on his lap. His hair, longer than Dean remembered, was sticking up at crazed angles, ruffled and endearingly human. "I somehow crossed that barrier. And I am like…a path, that connects the two roads. While I am alive, that path is open. Information, memories, can now pass through. Because of me, a sigil on your body would open you up to receiving memories from the other reality. You need only accept it."
"I could remember a life I never lived?" Dean asked skeptically. "Not to rain on your parade, but why would I want that?"
"It was better," Castiel said simply. Dean shook his head.
"But it's not better now. I don't know, it just seems like I'd be torturing myself with thoughts of what could have been. I don't want that. I'm happy now. I don't need some other Dean's memories."
"You're not happy," Castiel stated flatly, his blue eyes meeting Dean's. Dean met his gaze with a kind of fierce desperation.
"Yes I am."
Castiel stared at him for a second longer, then dropped his head. "There is another reason you should accept the sigil."
"And what's that?" Dean asked, a bit nervously. He wasn't sure if he liked this new Castiel. Despite all of his power he was so much more human than when Dean had last seen him in the passenger seat of the Impala, right before he disappeared back to Heaven. Emotion was clear on his face, his movements were less stiff and precise, and his eyes had a softness to them that Dean had never seen before. He guessed it was true, that this wasn't really his Castiel, that all that other stuff did happen to him and it changed him, whittled away at his angelic façade to reveal a real person underneath. It was disconcerting, like looking in a mirror and not recognizing the reflection staring back.
"When Elijah returns, I would like you to remember her. It will be a waste of years of close friendship and almost familial love if you do not."
Dean decided to leave the familial love part for later; it seemed too preposterous to even consider. "When she returns?" he asked, resting his elbows on his knees and staring at the bowed head of a very tired angel. "How do you know she will?"
Castiel jerked his head to the side, as if surprised to hear the question. "Because I am going to go and get her."
"Won't that sort of defeat the purpose?" Dean asked. Castiel stared at him blankly. "You said that she changed history because if she met us the world would end or something. Won't going to get her screw up everything?"
Castiel was silent for a moment. Then he slowly and deliberately shook his head. "No. That won't happen."
"Are you sure about that?"
The angel met his gaze fiercely. "Even if I wasn't, I would still do it."
Dean just looked at him doubtfully. This was definitely not the Castiel he remembered. "Well, I'm sorry man, but no one is carving anything in to me."
Castiel stood, towering over him with an intensity that seemed extreme even for the angel. "You must."
Dean stood too, skirting around Castiel. He walked into the kitchen, not even looking behind him, knowing that Castiel would follow. "No must about it," he said, opening the refrigerator and searching for a beer. "I'm not doing it and that's final."
"Why not?" Castiel asked from directly behind him. Dean sighed, cracking open a slightly-dented can of ice-cold beer and drinking.
"I've had enough of some angel dicking around with my memories, thanks," he said roughly. Castiel frowned.
"I am not some angel."
"Yeah, that's why you vanished from the Impala without even a…"
"That wasn't me."
"It was!" Dean insisted in a choked voice. "You may have gotten laid, and you may have some different memories, but you're still you, and don't you dare deny it. And I am not dancing around like a puppet for you."
"Stay the fuck out of my head, Cas," Dean warned, resting his palms on the counter and tucking his chin to his chest. Behind him, he could hear Castiel shifting on his feet, could almost feel the angel tipping his head pensively.
Castiel was silent for a moment. "I suppose this means that you will not help me recover her?"
He gave a short, humorless laugh. "Girl changed history so that she never knew you. That sound like someone who wants to be recovered?"
Castiel let out a noise that sounded suspiciously like a growl. "Will you help me?"
Dean shook his head. "No. No, I won't. I'm outta that business. I have a life here, Cas. People I gotta protect. You want to run around after some chick? Fine, be my guest, but don't drag me into it."
He waited for a response, but all he heard was the rustling of wings. Castiel was gone. Dean closed his eyes, wondering why he suddenly felt like crying.
He didn't hear anything from the angel for nearly two months.