Title: Even Comets Fade Away
Summary: AU: Wrapped inside the angel Castiel, Jimmy Novak had been praying for an end to his suffering as Castiel went mad. Finally, he could see that chance upon him.
Rating: T for the general theme
Disclaimer: 'Supernatural' was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is intended.
When he'd said those words 'chained to a comet', they'd been true. Being the vessel for an angel was bright light, white-hot heat, and pain both emotional and physical that didn't end.
The things he'd seen….
The things he'd heard….
The things that had ended up changing him in fundamental ways….
He'd been naïve once, so certain that angels were creatures of good and righteousness. How could an angel deceive? How could an angel hurt what Jimmy had thought they were to protect? How could they be everything the demons were? How did a man of faith reconcile what he thought he'd known with what came to light?
When Castiel had left him the first time, he'd been relieved, ready to return to his life and never look back. Life hadn't let him return. He'd witnessed his wife possessed, his daughter taken by that same angel he'd been a vessel for, and been manipulated into letting Castiel back in his body. He knew that now, had known it seconds after Castiel had returned to him. Castiel had manipulated Jimmy, using his feelings for Claire against him.
Claire had not given informed consent to be a vessel. Castiel had simply promised he'd help and she, like the child she was, had believed him because he was an angel and her father had always told her angels were good. He'd taken her over, used her, and slipped back into Jimmy, not bothering to hide his manipulation. He'd needed an adult vessel and he'd gotten Jimmy's consent to that end…again. Did it matter how he'd achieved that? It was for the greater good, surely Jimmy could see that? Castiel needed Jimmy to easily move about the human world and interact with people and Jimmy needed him in order to save his daughter from being the vessel…and not die himself.
He remembered being blown up. Twice. He'd thought he was free on both occasions, joy working through him as he'd flown upwards, released from the fleshly prison he'd been encased in. He'd felt the beginning of true peace, a gladness that his trial was done, and then agony once more as he was yanked back into his body, shoved inside with the angel he never should have said yes to.
He even remembered Castiel's final burst of power, the one that had depleted the angel battery and left Castiel unconscious until Jimmy's own essence had restored him to consciousness. He recalled lying in darkness, blind and unable to move his body, yet hearing the doctors talk about his brain-dead condition. Castiel's presence had still covered him over, masking Jimmy's own presence there, suppressing his bodily signs. All Jimmy could do was listen and fear that they'd pull the plug and he'd be buried alive in a grave somewhere for eternity. Alone in the dark with an unconscious angel. He'd tried crying, yelling, pleading, but the only one who heard him was Castiel when he did finally wake.
He was trapped.
Sole witness to the rationalizations of an angel slowly falling from grace. He watched Castiel maneuver, heard his rationalizations to himself and others, a captive audience for Castiel's self-deluding thoughts and growing obsession with being Dean Winchester's protector.
Jimmy watched Castiel raise Sam, understand that something was wrong with him, and let him go without any attempt to diagnose and fix the problem. He told Jimmy that Sam made a choice not to see Dean because he must have noticed Dean was happy and didn't want to disturb that. But Dean wasn't happy. Jimmy could see it through that window. Dean was merely existing and his heart went out to him and Sam both. He tried to help, to convince Castiel to look into the matter further, but there was no answer. Castiel wouldn't listen to him.
He never really had listened to Jimmy once he had that little word 'yes'.
He watched Castiel make a deal with a demon, begin to use souls and lie to those around him (and himself). He watched Castiel begin to show signs of paranoia, spying on those he'd called friends and allies, watching them for betrayal and eventually killing both Rachel and Balthazar.
Jimmy found himself wishing Rachel had won that fight.
Castiel used Sam and Dean as bait and did many other things as the weeks turned to months, insisting to himself and to Jimmy that he was doing it to win the war, that when the war was over, things could go back to normal. He promised they would.
But things wouldn't. Jimmy could see it already. He'd felt the thrill of greed in his body at the first soul Castiel siphoned power from; the lust when Castiel had kissed that demon; the ire towards Raphael and the envy for the power Raphael had. He saw the slippery slope Castiel was sliding down. How long before he'd entrenched himself in each deadly sin? It was cumulative. Each little bit fed into the angel's ego, adding on to the last part. Each dirty soul he took from Crowley contaminated the righteousness that had been there, tarnishing him and Jimmy both.
He watched Castiel lose his grip on sanity and it was worse seeing it happen to an angel than to a human. Angels weren't supposed to go mad.
Jimmy was crowded inside his own body, pinched by hundreds and thousands, millions, of souls from purgatory, souls that felt wrong against him. He writhed inside, trying to find a way to escape, to find relief from the touch of them upon him and found no space unoccupied. He screamed out his agony, begging Castiel to let them out and show some mercy on all of them and found no sound emerging.
Castiel had taken his voice away. He couldn't even scream to Castiel.
None of them could. They were all silent, seething inside, rolling together.
He suffered in silence far more complete than anything he'd ever known.
Please, he prayed. End this. Please. Someone help me….
Suddenly, pressure built, the pinching increasing until he couldn't stand it. He felt the familiar sensation of being ripped apart, not allowing himself to hope because his hopes had always been smashed.
As he experienced the backslide from freedom, one thing was suddenly clear to him.
It was possible to end this, but it had to be now.
He opened his eyes. He was on a floor, his body mending from having exploded, Sam and Dean Winchester and an older man standing over him. Bobby, he recalled. Dean, Sam, and Castiel had called him Bobby. His left leg twitched, his back itched, and there was a crawling sensation all along his right side.
"Castiel?" Dean's voice was harsh, angry, expression cautious.
Sam looked like a strong wind would blow him over. One eye twitched and he was slightly hunched over.
"No," he said. His throat was dry, voice raspy. "Jimmy…."
Their expressions shifted into surprise. Sam and Dean crouched down beside him.
He reached out his hand, grasping at Sam's shirt, managing to take the hem in his fingers. "Please kill me," he gasped.
Sam gently loosed his fingers. "It's okay, Jimmy. He's gone now."
They didn't understand. How could they? They weren't privy to the things he knew. "No, he's not."
"You're safe," Dean told him. "It's over. Frankly, I'm surprised you're still alive. We saw you and Cas blow up."
He wasn't surprised. He hadn't been saved from his pain of being a vessel before, why would it end now? "It'll never be over for me."
"We'll get you to your family," Sam promised. "It might take a few days to find them -"
"My family is dead," he spat out, the words like ashes in his mouth, and rolled onto his back. While the weight of his body was a wonderful thing, he knew it was temporary now. Castiel was no longer an angel and he'd return to the body he'd become comfortable with, the one left for him. Jimmy was tethered to him for eternity as long as he was alive.
Dean's glance raised to Sam, then to Bobby, and back down to Jimmy. His lips parted, but it was the older man who spoke.
"He was there when Crowley took them, there when he killed them. The virgin's blood in the ritual was Claire's." Tears stung his eyes as he recalled Claire's pleading gaze, her voice calling for her father to save her. Castiel had sat in that other room, listening to her screams, calmly waiting for the blood he needed. "He told me he'd protect them and he let Crowley kill them. They kept Claire alive for the ritual. He told me her sacrifice was for the greater good. How? How was that in any way good? He killed my baby, my child." He stared up at the ceiling. "Please kill me."
"You have to," he insisted, transferring his gaze to Dean, hand flailing towards him and missing touching him. He didn't quite have bodily control. After being so long without having control, he felt like he no longer fit well in his body. "You don't understand. There's no choice here."
"Make us understand."
"It's not over for me. I give him form. I can still feel his presence out there, coming together piece by piece. Slower than when Raphael and Lucifer blew us up, but it is happening. He's becoming whole again and when he does, he'll take me back like he did before. His familiar vessel. We're connected he and I. He marked me inside," he pounded a fist to his chest, the movement clumsy, "here somewhere. How do you think angels find their vessels again? We're all marked as used, a homing beacon to draw them back. I'm his vessel. With Claire dead, I'm his option. I know it. I can feel it. He's still limited that way. Juicing up didn't change that. He needs me to have form. Needs me."
They were reluctant, he could see that in their eyes, all hoping he could have a future alive and well, but it wasn't in his cards.
"I'm dying. Every minute of every day wears away at my self. You say it takes decades, centuries for hell to make a demon, but what does an angel make with the same wearing away? What would whatever he's become make me eventually? What sort of monster would I be down the road? I don't want to find out. Kill me. I'm begging you. End my pain. I've been hurt in every way imaginable, so I don't particularly care how you do it. Just please do it. You can end this for all of us right now."
The discussion didn't take long, Dean, Sam, and Bobby mulling over what would be best. In the end, they sat beside him. Dean on one side, Sam on the other, Bobby saying he'd be outside keeping watch. Dean fed Jimmy pills and Sam sips of water after each. It was the kinder option Dean said.
"These pills are good stuff," Dean assured him. "Enough of them and you'll just go to sleep."
"Sleep would be nice. Rest." He talked to them as the pills began to work, telling them everything he'd seen and heard, the pain he'd gone through. Someone somewhere should remember him. Someone should know what had happened to the man named Jimmy Novak.
Their expressions shifted according to what he was saying. At times it was Dean outraged, at others it was Sam. There was sadness, defeat, and pain in their eyes, yet underneath it all was a touch of steel. He wouldn't survive this, but they would. They'd go on and fight the good fight.
He felt numbness sliding along his body, the sensation of heaviness increasing, and a stirring in the air.
Castiel. He was almost whole again, gathering himself to dive back into Jimmy.
He's coming, he tried to say, to warn, but then he was standing beside his body, recognizing a reaper there with him. "I'm ready," he told her and as he faded, escaping life, he heard Castiel's voice a final time, crying out in frustration as a body, the one body he needed, was denied him. The cry was truncated, the creature the angel had become losing cohesion and returning to the dust from which everything had been formed.
Jimmy was finally free.
There was a bleak chill in the air.
Dean stared at the flames of the fire, hands balled into fists in his jacket pockets. Jimmy's body was burned and he felt more than a little numb at everything that had gone down over the past couple days. Cold, tired, and aching both physically and emotionally. If he thought about it, it was undoubtedly spiritual as well.
Too much hurt in too little time. BOHICA, he thought. Bend over, here it comes again. What next?
What was going to hit them and tumble them over? Had to be something. Always was.
It was nearly night. They'd found a car, then gathered Jimmy's body and taken him out to a field in the middle of nowhere, taking the time to send him off the way they did other hunters. Bobby said it was only right seeing as how Jimmy had given his life to keep Castiel from returning to his human vessel. They should honor that.
They lingered, watching the flames die down. A friend of Bobby's had picked him up earlier, leaving Sam and Dean alone in the field. Bobby was coming back with a tow truck to take the Impala back to his house. She was damaged, but salvageable. Dean was going to have a lot of work to do on her to restore her.
He turned his head, looking at Sam. "You think he's at peace?"
Beside him, in a similar pose, Sam sighed. Dean wondered if it'd be a different Sam emerging from the falling of the wall. Most likely. Time would tell and right now he was just glad to have Sam there and not a drooling mess confined to a bed. "After everything he went through? I hope so. I hope he's got his family with him and never remembers what happened here."
He nodded in agreement. "Amen to that."
The things Jimmy had told them as he'd lain dying…. Once, Dean wouldn't have believed Castiel capable of them. He wouldn't have accepted that the one angel that had seemed to be on their side had been on his own all along, lying, spying, and killing his allies.
Dean bowed his head a moment in silence for Balthazar, their own reluctant ally, who'd understood the danger and tried to help them.
He'd seen the proof of Castiel's duplicity himself. He'd heard the lies, found out about the spying and the willing deal with Crowley, and then there was the matter of his actions towards Sam. The wall. Castiel had torn down the wall in Sam's head and done it for a diversion.
No one hurt Sam like that if Dean had any say in the matter.
Could angels be sociopaths? Had Castiel been one? This end result made him reconsider every interaction they'd ever had. How much of what he'd thought Castiel was had been his own perceptions and idea of what Castiel should be?
A part of him felt stupid. He'd let himself get roped into an angel's shtick, just like Sam had with the demon Ruby. He'd trusted a supernatural being and he should know by now that the results were never good. He'd seen that the angels were much like the demons, yet he'd wanted to believe that he had one on his side. He'd needed to believe it, but he and Sam had both been burned, like Jimmy's body on the funeral pyre.
Another piece of him felt shame. Shame for forgetting there was a man trapped inside with Castiel, for not thinking that Castiel could be mistreating him like the rest of the angels did with their vessels, for assuming it was different from demon possession. He'd turned a blind eye….
It had been Sam's idea to burn the body, reasoning that it'd be harder for Castiel to bring him back from ashes, though if he really had metamorphosed into a god of sorts, maybe it wouldn't matter. Still…. Jimmy had talked like Castiel wouldn't be able to raise him if he was dead, like Castiel was formless on earth.
Maybe he was. Maybe he was stuck in his angelic true form now or had that changed as he had? He'd said he was no longer an angel. Did that mean his true form had changed? He was fallen as well. Undoubtedly. How could he not be with what he'd done? Surely that meant no resurrection and Jimmy was free?
Cas, were you always that way? Did I completely misunderstand everything? Were you like the rest all along?
He glanced upward into the air about him. He couldn't feel anything, but was Castiel still there, watching, unable to communicate? Had Jimmy dying destroyed him or would they some day find themselves up against a reborn Castiel? Dean had no answers to those questions.
"Pride goeth before the fall," he murmured and turned away. He helped Sam pack the trunk of their stolen car and slammed it. While he wanted to head straight for Bobby's and put the Impala to rights, the mass of creatures Castiel had loosed before he'd been parted from Jimmy were something of an urgency. It'd be best if they were close when reports started coming in. "Which way do you think?"
Sam peered at the sky. "Looked like they headed east. We could start there." He rubbed the fingers of one hand along his brow, wincing a little, a faraway turn to his gaze.
"You okay?" There would be repercussions for them from Castiel's tearing down of that wall. The trouble there was just beginning, but Dean wasn't going anywhere. He'd be at Sam's side and help him through whatever came their way from it. It wasn't going to be easy. Never was.
"I will be." He nodded, hand dropping. "Eventually." Sam went to the passenger side and opened the door.
He still looked like he needed a week of bed rest and in his gaze was the indication that his mind was running a million miles a minute. He was thinking about whatever had happened inside his head when that wall had gone down and it was something terrible. Dean recognized the expression. He'd seen it in his own eyes in about a tenth of the concentration that was in Sam's eyes.
Sam blinked. Either he couldn't pretend he wasn't awash in his horror of hell and his soulless self or didn't feel he had to in front of Dean, for the expression remained. "Let's head out. Best thing for me is work."
The sun fell fully below the horizon, marking the sky with ominous reds, oranges, purples, and blues as night encroached on the last remnants of day. It'd be very dark for awhile, but maybe, hopefully, they'd find their way through to the day waiting at the end.
And if not?
They'd go down swinging.