Possible spoilers up to Season 6.22, "The Man Who Knew Too Much"
Personal Rating: PG.
"Love is not a victory march. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah." - Leonard Cohen.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
"The Substance Of"
Ellie meets him on a subway car. She's hungry and huddled in a corner of her seat. She sees his eyes, that they're tired and haunted. She speaks to him about anything, everything, because it hurts her doubly to see someone else feeling as lost as her.
"... and all I've got is my car, and I'm heading south soon. I don't like New York. It's so cold."
"It is cold here."
"Look me up," she requests. She tells him her name and her car's license plate number.
He hesitates, in their uncomfortable, joint silence. She can tell he wants to ask her something. His lips are already parted. "Are you hungry?"
Why had she hoped for more? "No, it's fine. You don't have to do that. Let's just keep it like this-two strangers on a subway."
"I want to help you."
"Guilty conscience?" She's not just teasing. He has that look about him.
He won't answer right then, but later, over a couple of burgers, he confesses everything.
She sits across from him, strangers ignoring them with curious glances, all around, but only she hears. It breaks her heart, and she doesn't try to hide her tears. But what he's done-
He deserves his friends hating him, deserting him. He brought it on himself. She tries to make him see sense. "You should give up the power. Before it destroys you. Look what it's already taken away."
Castiel scowls at her, and then he disappears. No one notices but her.
There are different colored roses. They mean different things, the colors. Castiel buys her a red rose. It's the second thing ever that he's bought for her. (That, and the hamburger.)
She claims that she hates him. She says it's the type of hate that almost makes it possible to love. She holds his hand, kisses the back of it, rubs away the warm dampness there on the skin. His heart thumps so hard his collar quivers. "Then why do you put up with me?"
"What else would I do? Life is too short to deny who I hate, or who I love."
"Not my life."
"What's the point of living so long if you never make any mistakes?"
"I'd rather not make mistakes." He gives her a perturbed, discomfited glance.
She pulls her hand away, her soft hand.
There's no point in staying angry with him, she tells herself. It wasn't his fault, after all.
Only, the consequences fell against each other like ivory dominoes, and clacked on the table, startling her back to reality. He never said he loved her; but from the moment she spoke to him, all by themselves on a subway, he followed her everywhere. He was always there, even when he wasn't. She could feel him-the breeze on her skin.
"I don't understand why he continues to rebel against me."
"What isn't there to rebel against? You're a dictator."
Castiel doesn't get angry. Why should he? He merely states, "God went wrong when he created free will."
"Because sometimes choices are hard to make?"
"Because sometimes there are no choices."
"I'm sorry you feel that way." She starts walking toward her car. He leaves the bench and follows her.
"Wait. Wait, Ellie, wait!"
She stops and turns to him. How can she refuse? "You should try and see this from Dean's perspective."
"I do. I have. I'm god now. I know everything."
She flushes with indignation. "There's only one God, Cas."
Castiel motions with his hand, a throwing away gesture. But she knows he still wants to believe. He's lied to himself so long now. When will he come to his senses? "Then where is he?"
"He's right here," she says, and touches her heart. She motions to the park. "He's all around."
She hears the beating of wings as she blinks. When her eyes reopen, he's gone.
Why won't he listen to me? I can't stand what he's doing. I hate him! She yells in silent frustration, as she stares up at the clear, blue sky. "Stop running away, Castiel! I know you can hear me!"
He's the breeze on her face. Her anger settles quickly. She whispers, "You make me so..." She lets him go. She has to.
On the day that Dean dies, Castiel flies across the Earth, around it, through it, searching for something, something that will keep him from destroying himself and everything else. I didn't create this world. I can't save him again. He'd just do the same thing. He's called my bluff.
He finds the amulet.
He picks it up, washes it in a brook in Massachusetts. He sits in New Mexico, under a dry sun, and stares at the heirloom of his memories. There shouldn't be tears in his eyes-he's above tears now-but there are.
It doesn't mean anything, and he let go a long time ago-to faith-but something kept him going beyond faith. Something that drove him to find the amulet, useless as it is, even after he'd managed to destroy everything else. Castiel picks himself up and lifts his wings toward home. There's still someone who won't hate him these days.
She looks up, and he sees that her eyes are dull, shadowed. She's covered with an old, ratty blanket. The street can not be the most comfortable place for her to sleep, either. He lifts her up from the ground. "Why are you out here? What happened to your car?"
"I'm sorry it doesn't suit your sensibilities."
"I... " He takes her to a motel. The scenery is familiar, homey even. It's as if Dean and Sam re-birthed him into their world, and this nest is where he comes now, from out of the cold of all his intents.
"What happened?" she asks.
He reaches for the amulet and stops. He doesn't want to tell her yet. He's failed, but she doesn't have to know that. She'll just say, "I told you so," won't she?
So instead, he sits beside her on the neat, ugly bed. Their arms brush, she leans her head on his shoulder. He feels her begin to shake.
"Are you crying?"
"You left me alone... for so long. I thought you'd never come back, Castiel."
She always says she hates him. Why is she behaving this way now? "I thought... you were angry with me."
"I don't really hate you, Cas. Don't you see that?" She sniffles, wipes her face with the back of her jacket sleeve. She peers up at him. "I love you. That's why it hurts so much, the things you do, the way you ignore me. I'm sorry I get so angry. I don't want you to push me away anymore."
He holds her, for a moment-an awkward, sideways hug-and she leans her head on his shoulder again. He's finally beginning to see himself, what he's done, through her eyes. He asks himself why, what was it all for, and he almost breaks down. "Ellie, I... Dean-" He reaches in his trench coat pocket, already saying, "It was my fault, I pushed him into i-agh!"
It falls to the floor.
Ellie questions, "What is that?"
Castiel stands. Ellie looks up at his face. What must she see there now? Shock, agony... awe?
"I'm so sorry," he says, "It's all my fault."
She reaches out and pulls him closer by his hands, laying her cheek against his belly. "No, no. Shh, it's okay, Cas. I forgive you. It's okay."
The amulet lays between them on the dingy carpet. It is cold enough to burn.
"Even if we are all broken, we are each a reflection of God..." - Cindy Morgan, "Beautiful Bird"
Thoughts & Notes: El is part of many of the names of God. I thought about actually making her name short for one of them, but I couldn't decide, and didn't know how to work it in. So Ellie is a play on El. :D
This song quote at the end is how I feel about the story, and I put it there because I didn't want to give the surprise away. Hope it worked. :3 Also... lotta quotes for such a tinie story, hunh? Dunno why I did that. Just trying it out. :D