I'm Still Here
Something burst, sending me and everything around me out of Jimmy in a flood. I spun, twisted and flew everywhere and nowhere all at once, surrounded by those blackened things.
When the dust cleared I found myself suspended in water. But I didn't feel its wetness, or the lack of oxygen. I didn't feel cold or hot…I felt nothing. I swam (more or less) to the surface, wondering just where I was and where the Leviathan had gone.
When I reached the surface an unseen force jerked me to shore, leaving me to stand directly beside-
"Dean!" I exclaimed, fatigued and battered body relieved. Thankfully I've been given my clothes back, save the trench coat, which Dean held in his hands. Dean spoke as if I hadn't. "Dean?" He didn't move. Neither he, Sam nor Bobby even looked at me…They could not see me. I was a spirit, a shadow in their world.
My friend plucked my coat from the murky water, sadness in his eyes.
"Okay," he said, faking a smile, "so he's gone."
"No, Dean, I'm here!" I yelled, moving myself in front of him. "I'm right here!" My efforts were to no avail. He folded up the coat, on the precipice of breaking down. "Please, Dean!"
"Dumb son of a bitch," he spat, hurt. It hurt me too. He squeezed the jacket, so pained.
"Dean, please, can't you see me?" No reaction. My chest ached. I looked to Sam, rushing to him. "Sam! Sam, please, I know you're seeing things that are not real, but I am! Please, Sam, if you can see me, look at me!" No response. I sniffed, eyes wet. "Why?" I whispered, defeated. I watched them walk away from me, feeling so alone, so helpless. Maybe I could harness some energy, break something. Then they would know I was still here, they'd know. I'd just have to learn how to do it and then-
"I wouldn't waste my time with that." I spun around, ready to fight. "It would be such a squander of your valuable afterlife."
I stared at him, wondering just what he was going to do with me. He scoffed. "I'm not going to kill you. I already tried doing that. I will say though, this fate is one far worse than where I would have sent you."
"Am I… am I an apparition?" I breathed.
"Of sorts," he allowed, shrugging slightly. "Being a spirit would actually be a blessing to you. You might have hope of making contact with your friends."
"What am I?" My voice trembled.
"A sort of ghost's ghost," he ventured. I frowned, confused. "What I mean to say is, even ghosts can't see you, Castiel. The only being that can get to you on this plane is me." He leaned against his Cadillac, a greasy bag of food in his hand. He offered it to me. "Corn nugget?" I shook my head.
"So I…There is no way out of here?" He nodded. "Why won't you kill me?"
"I'm not sure how to do that," he said simply. "I've never had to take care of an angel with unfinished business before. The reapers I sent for you got lost on the way. It took me some time to locate you and I'm supposed to be Death. I would send you to Purgatory, if I could. Believe you me, I would."
I did have unfinished business. I had to restore Sam, I had to help Dean. Those were my primary goals. I owed Dean so much in apologies, so much to make up for to receive some mitigation from my guilt for what I'd done to him. I couldn't leave yet. Not now. They needed me. But…but I would be alone.
"I think I'll let you flutter around here for awhile until I figure something out," he explained.
"I will be alone," it wasn't a question, simply a statement seeking confirmation.
"Sadly, yes," he said.
"Will I be able to stay with Sam and Dean?" I asked, voice breaking. He nodded. "How?" It was getting worse.
"Just think about them." And he was gone.
I was alone, all alone… I closed my eyes, tears on my cheeks. "Dean…"
When I opened my eyes I was in Bobby's house, watching Dean give Sam a bottle of water, taking care of him as usual.
It carried on like this. Sam revealed his visions of Lucifer, which only pained my heart further.
That night, Dean and Bobby sat in the kitchen, Dean turning on the GPS in Sam's cell phone, protection if he decided to abscond.
"And you?" Bobby asked. "How're you doin'?"
"Seriously, Bobby, it ain't like he's hexed, ya know? I mean what if it's the kind of crazy you can't fix?" Dean snapped. "
"Yeah, I'm," Bobby said, allowing him that. "I'm worried too, but…Humor me for a second. How are you?" Dean stared at him, agitated.
"I do," I mumbled to nothing.
"Don't you think our mailbox is a little full right now? I'm fine," he said, shrugging the emotion off as usual.
"You're not fine, Dean, please stop lying," I whispered. What was the point?
"Right," Bobby said, cynical. "Weren't you just pissed at him when he said the same thing just a couple hours before he blew his marbles all over the floor?" Sometimes I wonder what the Winchesters would do without him.
"Yeah well," the younger man went for the coffee. I'm sure if it weren't for Bobby it would be something much harder. "I'm not Sam, 'kay? Keep my marbles in a lead friggin' box. I'm fine, really."
His eyes weren't fine. His body language wasn't fine. He was weary, afraid for his younger brother and so very tired. I wondered if he mourned me at all.
"Course," Bobby said, almost mocking him. "Just lost one of the best friends you ever had-"
"No, he didn't."
"…your brother's in the bell jar and…Purgatory's most wanted are surfin' the sewer lines. But yeah, I get it. Right. You're…you're fine." Now I know he was mocking him. Dean looked at him, ignoring the blatant sarcasm.
"Good." He went back to the laptop, trying to get away from Bobby and his concern.
"Stop it," I demanded. "Stop doing this to yourself."
He didn't. He never would.
In the year that followed, he never once spoke of me. My coat stayed at the bottom of his bag, never thought of, never touched. I watched him rebuild his car; I watched Sam's hallucinations plague him as I looked on, so helpless to his pain, wishing I could help him, or tell Dean of his distress so he could do something.
I grew weary, never having to sleep, never leaving them. Sam and Dean were still my charges, and I was ordered to watch over them all those years ago, years that seemed to be more of a lifetime away than I could have imagined.
Then Bobby sent him to Kansas to learn the reasoning behind a swim team becoming cannibalistic, mainly to understand if it was the Leviathan.
I went with him, deciding that Sam would be safe with Bobby. I wanted to keep an eye on Dean, even if there was nothing I could do to stop him. I had to know he was safe.
I sat in the Impala with him, not feeling the leather seats, or the rumble of the engine. I looked between my hands and his face, listening to the silence. No music, just his breathing and the loud, old car.
He glanced up.
"Cas," He said, startling me. I stared at him, hopeful.
"Cas, if you're up there…please come back. Or try to. Sam's…God, he's losin' it, Cas. And I…I don't know what else to do," he swallowed hard, silent for a moment. "C'mon, Cas, tell me you can here me. Tell me you're not gone."
"I'm here, Dean," I said softly. "I'm right here. You just…you just can't see me."
He sighed, discouraged, eyes bleary. "Damn it, Cas, you can't tell me you're really gone. You came back before…"
I felt tears in my eyes.
"I'm not gone, Dean, I'm right here!" I tried to touch his shoulder, only to watch my hand fall through him. I stared at him, knowing I could never lessen his pain. A tear fell to my cheek.
"I wish I could help you, Dean," I said truthfully. "I…I just wish things were back to normal."
That was all he said –save talking to a witness or two and a few police officers- for quite some time.
I allowed myself to pretend that I was helping him with the hunt, that when he thought aloud while doing research that he was talking to me. Was it pathetic? Incredibly so, but…but it was all I had.
On his final night there he sat on the bed, reaching into his bag to pull out a bottle of whiskey, taking a long swig.
"You shouldn't do that," I mumbled to nothing. "It's not good for you."
He dug in the bag again and this time…this time he took out my coat. He looked at it. He swallowed hard, tears welling in his eyes.
"Damn it," he spat. "Why? Why don't you ever do what you're told?" His voice was harsh. "Heaven tells you to do something, you do the opposite, we tell you to do something and you completely ignore us and get yourself killed."
A tear tapped onto the fabric.
"You were more than my friend, Cas. You were my brother, and losing you hurt like hell. There, I said it," he punched each word as he spoke, angry with himself and with me. "I fucking miss you, okay? And…" His voice choked off. "Damn it, Cas, get your ass back here!"
My lips trembled, hands shaking.
"I'M HERE, DEAN! I'M RIGHT HERE!"
He didn't hear me. He would never hear me.
And we were both left here with our tears.