I hate coming here, I really do. I've been in places like this more than I can count, and it was always bad news. You'd think I'd gotten used to it by now, but I didn't. Even with the life I live. Even if I've come here every three days for a year. I'm walking down the corridor, checking the room numbers as I go. Which is dumb actually, it's not like I need to check anymore. I know where his room is. I don't know, maybe that's my way of blocking out the inevitable. Like maybe if I focus on just the room numbers I won't really have to reach his room at all.
Only I do, and finally I'm staring at the big white door. As usual I brace myself before entering. As soon as I'm in the room a pair of curious blue eyes look up at me, and I can feel my heart skip a beat when he tilts his head to the left a little. If there's anything else I'm not getting used to, it's looking for any sign of recognition in his eyes and finding none. I swallow hard and fake a smile. I'm good at that.
"Hey buddy, how's it going?" I ask as cheerfully as I can manage. He slightly narrows his eyes, as if trying to decipher something written in an ancient language or something. I'm not actually expecting an answer, to tell you the truth. I know better.
"Where's Balthazar?" he asks, just like he always does, and I find myself trying to remember when I started hating the way he sounds like a child. I guess it used to make me laugh because it only happened when he was trying to understand the basics of being human. But now it's like he's nothing but a lost, frightened kid asking for his big brother.
I only realize I haven't answered him because he's starting to look worried. So I tell him what I tell him everytime I come. "He'll probably swing by later." He nods. It's a freaking lie of course. I have no idea where angels go when they die but wherever that is, I'm pretty sure Balthazar's not coming back. Thing is after a while I realized telling him the truth only made things worse for the both of us, and he'd still ask for his brother the next day anyway.
We never did find out what happened to Balthazar. When we got to Cas' hideout we found his vessel's body on the floor, with big wing-shaped burns on the floor under him. I guess Raphael finally managed to get the jump on him. I've gotta say, I didn't expect his death to affect me that much though. Sure the guy was a dick, but somewhere along the lines he'd managed to become my friend. Though I still wonder why Cas keeps asking for him. I know he was his brother but come on, Cas had thousands of siblings, why ask for Balthazar in particular?
I grab a chair, drag it next to his bed and take a seat on it, putting my feet on the edge of his bed. He looks at me disapprovingly. I swear to God I'll put my feet down if he tells me to, but he just looks away. I've been doing this for a while now, being annoying just to get a reaction. But most of the time he doesn't say anything.
We sit in silence like this for a while. You know when it's so quiet you start fantasying about screaming at the top of your lungs and breaking every single object in the room? That's pretty much how I'm feeling right now. Who'm I kidding? It's how I feel everytime I come here. This is all just so... wrong I can't stand it. Sometimes I just want to grab Cas by his shoulders and shake him, and yell at him to come back. He's an angel, damnit! Or at least he used to be. This is not supposed to happen to him. He used to be so strong, so powerful. And even when he'd become mostly human, it was still better than this. Anything is better than this.
I can't believe it's been a year since it happened. Even now we still have no idea what it was. After becoming, and I quote, a 'new God, a better one', he disappeared for a while and we spent the next weeks trying to keep Sam from falling apart and looking for a way to save Cas because no matter what happened he was still family, and we don't let our family down. And then one day Sam woke up with a brand new wall in his head and we heard people talk about an explosion of pure white light in Wisconsin. We got there and found Cas lying unconscious in a mostly broken church. We managed to wake him up, but we couldn't get anything out of him, not a word. The only thing we knew for sure is that not only he'd been defused, but he'd also become human. So after a while we finally decided to bring him to the hospital. Then the hospital decided to send him to the asylum. We managed to find one close to Bobby's house and here I am, talking to an amnesic ex-God ex-angel.
My name is whispered so softly I almost miss it. I look up at him, waiting for more. "Yeah, Cas?" I ask with a shaky voice I'm not too proud of. He looks back at me, his face contorted in obvious pain. It's gonna be one of these days then. It's funny how no matter how much you try not to get your own hopes up, you're still gonna be disappointed anyway.
"I'm sorry." he says, and I'm reminded once again that seeing somebody close to you cry is the saddest thing you'll ever witness. "I'm so sorry." he says again, "I never wanted this."
"I know, buddy, I know." I say, resisting the urge to get up and get the hell out of here. "It's alright." I add, knowing full well that it's the biggest lie I've ever told. It doesn't matter. Nothing ever does anymore.
Days like this are very rare. Usually me or Sam or Bobby sit there by his bed and just talk to him. Aside from his daily 'Where's Balthazar' he barely ever talks, and it's rarely more than 'Yes' or 'No' here and there. But every once in a while his eyes lose their glassy quality and he seems to remember. I'm not sure which is better: talking to him knowing he doesn't even know who I am, or sitting here helplessly and watch him cry.
"I killed him." he whispers between broken sobs.
Now that's new. Is he talking about Raphael? And if he is, why does he sound so upset by it? It's not like he had much of a choice. Actually Raphael's death is probably the only positive thing about Cas' whole plan. "You... killed him?" I ask, partly because I really wanna know what he means, but mostly because the pattern is finally cracked a little. I'm not exactly willing to let go of what little connection we managed to make.
"Yes," he just says, "I killed him."
I can barely hear myself asking him 'You wanna elaborate?', when was it, three years ago? But this time I have to be very, very careful about the way I'm talking to him. According to his doctors it might even be the very difference between life and death. I always though doctors were drama queens, but I don't wanna take the risk. "Killed who?" I ask, barely over a whisper, "Who did you kill?"
He looks down at his hands, and keeps crying silently. For a moment I think he's gone back to his usual, barely there state, but he finally swallows and says, "Balthazar."
I know I'm gaping at him, but I can't stop no matter how much I try. I know it only makes things worse but come on, he killed Balthazar? My mind just refuses to believe it. I distinctly remember him telling me once that Balthazar and him shared 'a bond very much like what you and Sam have'. How could he ever kill him? "No Cas," tell him, wondering which one of us I'm trying to convince more, "He was already dead when we came in that room, and you got there after we did. Raphael killed him, not you."
He shakes his head then looks me dead in the eyes, just like he used to. "You just assumed that. You're wrong. I stabbed him. Stabbed him in the back." he's getting agitated now, speaking faster and faster, "Both figuratively and literally. I killed him. I killed him, I killed him, I killed him..."
"Stop it!" I bark at him, and I mentally kick myself for it when I see him cringe. His hands are clenched so tight around his blanket his knuckles are white, and he's concentrating on breathing evenly. I remember when he didn't even have to bother with breathing at all.
"That's why I'm here." he says when he's a little calmer, "That's why this happened to me. Father punished me. He could have killed me. He should have killed me. But he didn't. He wanted me to suffer. This is worse than death. I deserve it. I deserve all of it. I'm so sorry..." His voice trails off and soon he buries his face in his hands and starts crying again.
As I sit there I dully think about what his doctors said when he was admitted here. They said if he ever started to talk, he was most likely to talk fast, make small sentences and repeat himself. They said it was a sign of madness. Well good for them, their theory's just been proved. Meanwhile I'm left with a shadow of what my friend used to be. And you know what kills me in this? It's that I can't fix it. Possession, spell, I can deal with. But this? I have no idea how to respond to that. If Cas is right, and God is the one that did this to him, then it's one more reason for me to hate the guy. I mean come on, Cas has made mistakes, we know that. But after everything he's done for us, for God, he deserves another chance. If we could forgive him, so can He.
Something wet hits my hand and I wonder when I started crying, before remembering that I don't care. This isn't about me, it's about Cas. Cas who's sitting there, crying his heart out, broken beyond repair. And suddenly I decide I can't keep sitting on this chair anymore. I get up, sit on the edge on his bed, and wrap my arms around him, whispering soothing words to him. My body his shaken by the force of his sobs and in my back I can feel him cling to my shirt as if his life depended on it, and so help me I'm crying too. I screw my eyes shut as tears roll down my cheeks, and I'm silently willing it all to be a nightmare, wishing I'll wake up in yet another crappy motel room and find Cas standing there. Not the Cas that went behind our backs and lied to our faces, not the one that claimed to be our God, not the one that's currently crying in my arms. I want the Cas that gripped me tight and saved me from perdition, the one that didn't understand sarcasm or pop culture references, the one that was scared to death by strippers, the one that was so wise and yet so clueless. My best friend. The big brother I never had. My guardian angel.
I'm so wrapped up in my own misery, it takes me a while to notice he stopped crying. His fingers have slackened, he's not holding onto me anymore, his whole body feels tense against me. No. Not yet, please. Please, just a little while longer. I finally found him, don't take him away just yet.
"What are you doing?" he asks dully.
I choke back a sob and reluctantly let go. His face is blank, his eyes glazed. I lost him again. "Nothing." I choke out, wiping away my tears. I have to leave, now. I'll go crazy if I stay here a minute more. "I've gotta go." I say as I get up. "Sam will come tomorrow, and then Bobby the day after, and then me, and then Sam, and then... well, you know the drill." No he doesn't. And even if he did he'll forget about it in a minute. Right now he's just staring at me as if he didn't even know what I was. I give him a short nod and head for the door. My hand is still on the handle when I hear his voice.
"Goodbye." he says flatly, and my desperate mind imagines he added my name.
I turn back to him and flash him the biggest (fake) smile I'm capable of. "Bye, Cas." I say, then I leave before I have time to dwell on how glassy his eyes are.
I don't even remember the walk back to the car. It's like one minute I'm in his room, and the next I'm sitting in the Impala. Don't get me wrong, it's never easy to come visit but today was... I don't know. I would say it's the last time I came but frankly, I wouldn't be fooling anyone. I've said it more than any smoker has ever said they'd stop smoking, and yet here I am. I can't give up on him, I just can't. He's given so much for me, this is the least I can do. Especially since it's my fault he's here.
Yeah, you heard me. It's my fault. Sam and Bobby tried to convince me otherwise but the truth is, if I'd treated him a little less like he was just a weapon in our arsenal and little more like a friend, then maybe he wouldn't have thought I might not want to help him, and maybe we could have worked something out to defeat Raphael. I don't know, maybe it's just wishful thinking but the point is, in that whole year I've spent with Ben and Lisa, I never called him, not once. I could have asked him to come, even just to talk. But no, I didn't need him so I why bother? No wonder he decided to team up with Crowley. Say what you want, but I know I pushed him to this.
I told him that once. I looked him in the eye and apologized for letting him down. Had he been in his right mind, I know he would have told me it wasn't my fault, that I should stop destroying myself with self-loathing. And for a moment I might even have believed him. But he just stared at me, not a glimmer of understanding in his eyes. I honestly don't know how much more of this I can take. I run a hand over my face, and I'm not surprised when it comes away wet with tears. I sniff and start up the engine.
I'll come back in three days.
Okay, I kinda depressed myself with this.
Reviews are more than welcome, as per usual.