There really wasn't much for me to say in my defense. I was nothing more than myself and these guys were either gonna have to believe me, or end up torturing an innocent man. None of this mattered as much as the fact that I was alone...Thrown back into this ludicrous existence...this time, literally with nothing. For some reason that gave me more courage than anticipated, at least by myself.
"Wait. Look. I told you before. I don't remember anything. You're just going to have to trust me."
The room came more into focus. It was small and dingy. The smells of oil and after-shave was thick in the air and everything looked like an old scene you'd expect to see in some "lumberjack" themed sports add. Plaid was everywhere. Fake wood paneling embraced the walls and at the circular particleboard table sat a tall man who's eyes were intent on locking with mine. I settled finally on his gaze.
It was Sam Winchester. I somehow knew his face well, though we had never met before. His eyes were confused and pleading yet kind. How long had he been staring at me as I sat there, unconscious and strapped tightly to a chair? He seemed sympathetic but something in me said not to trust him.
A slurred voice responded to my statement, but not from Sam.
"Oh well at least you're sayin' more than 'I don't know, I don't know, Just take my money.'"
And that was Dean and his unmistakable mocking tone as he imitated what I could only assume was supposed to be me. I had almost missed him in the dim emerged from his post adjacent to the door as he spoke, arms crossed, and pulled the empty chair by the table out so that the back wrest faced me. He proceeded to sit in it backwards, wresting his arms around the neck, staring intently all the while. His whole posture an attempt at threatening. That didn't surprise me. He seemed to always present himself that way. It also didn't prevent me from feeling threatened. The strong waft of alcohol that came from his breath of any assistance.
I hesitated again. My eyes darted from one man to the other. They were expecting something from me and I just couldn't deliver. I felt an expression of panic crawl up onto my face and I tried to smother it.
"I-look I-I-I just don't know where he is OK? I don't even know where I am!" I spoke rapidly, stumbling over my words. "I have no idea why he would just up and leave the way he did! This is just- this isn't fair! You're not listening to me either way!"
I knew then that whatever composure I had was gone. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and the desperation in my voice. I had leaned forward as much as possible as I spoke. My hands were tied uncomfortably behind my back and the circulation had long ago been cut off. How long had I been like this? My legs were tied down as well, and with all that was going on, my head was spinning. The panic was beginning to win me over when-
"Hey! Hey. It's OK Just calm down." It was Sam."It's alright. We believe you-"
"We do?" A quick gesture of his hand was thrown up to silence Dean.
"We believe you, and we need you to just stay calm. We're not going to hurt you. Why don't we just start with your name?" His voice was almost lyrical it was so comforting. I wanted to just melt into the carpet I felt so at peace for a moment. I realized this and quickly snapped myself to attention. Sinking into whatever he was doing to me was not an option...but he did ease all the tension in the room and my head was settled enough to be coherent.
"Jimmy," I slurred, as I realized my focus was intent on informing the carpet at my feet. I pulled my head up immediately. "Jim. Jim Novak."
"The comic book creator?" asked Dean before I could go on.
I turned my gaze to him. What fear I felt for him was dwindling a little, but that could have been because I began to be more delirious with each passing moment. "This is my vessel- my body. I was lending it to Castiel and-" I felt a shock run through my body "Why is he gone?"
A loud SMACK rang through the motel room. Dean retorted with a slap to his forehead. "What the hell do you think we've been tryin to ask you?" He shook his head and began mumbling to himself.
"Alright...Jim..." Said Sam, he seemed as though he hoped Dean would cease the interruptions. "So you don't remember anything at all from tonight? This is pretty important. Cas had needed to tell us something and-"
"PRETTY IMPORTANT?" Dean had risen from his chair and loomed over Sam. "Castiel was too Goddamned afraid to tell me what the matter was in a dream Sam!" His outright glare shifted to me. "Whatever you know, you better SPIT IT OUT!"
"DEAN!" Sam was now standing. Nearly a head taller than Dean, but there was not much to be spoken for in strength compared to the older man. "I'm sorry Jim." and to Dean, "I need to talk to you outside." Dean's posture dropped and his head tilted back in frustration as he staggered to the door. Sam would talk him down. They would return only when Dean as ready to listen. I knew this, but I wasn't entirely sure how...my mind took a pause...well obviously Castiel...
But what else could I recall?
When the door clicked the room was all too quiet. I was completely awake now and despiratly searched my mind for answers. Every time I dug deeper into what had happened to the angel a sick fear shot me back into the present. My body felt so incredibly weak and this dull pain was beginning to form in my stomach. I was staving beyond belief and there were all kinds of strange aches throughout my body. I tried to think back.
The first thing I could clearly recall was opening my eyes and seeing the clear night's sky through a hole in the roof of a warehouse. It was strangely peaceful and crisp. The sound of leaking pipes and stream in the distance almost appeared tranquil; like I had finally made it to one of those hot springs in Japan I always saw on TV at 3AM. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again two strange men were standing over me and my body felt like it had just gone on tumble-dry for about 6 hours. They kept saying things to me but none of it was clear. When they began to move me I thought that they were just going to finish whatever job they had carried out while I was unconscious. I was in such strong belief that I had been mugged and was about to be murdered that I violently began to struggle...that is until a sharp pain to my abdomen made everything go black...ah. It was Sam and Dean searching for Castiel. Now of course is the time I realize this.
I turned around to try to get my barrings straight. I was in a double twin-bed room of a motel with about 3ft of room behind me and a tall stand-up lamp directly over my head. It was blinding. I guess they were attempting an interrogation. My mind was transfixed on Castiel. I attempted to recall and was snapped back over and over until finally I just gave up. Whatever had caused him to leave had hidden their tracks well...angels. Only they would do such a thing. My mind began to wonder how such "Divine, all powerful beings" could allow themselves to be so oblivious to the fact that they hid themselves in ways that were just too unbearably obvious. When did I start thinking of angels with so little respect? My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of keys in the door. A moment later the head of a pistol pocked through, followed by Sam, and then Dean.
At the sight of my still being tied Sam put the safety back in his gun and put it back into his Jacket.
"How the hell can you be so trusting of him?" Questioned Dean, who still had his pistol pointed at my face.
"I just don't feel like he has any ill intentions. He just doesn't feel...evil." Responded Sam, who looked at me and smiled. I wished I could have felt the same about him.
"Heh, you're not getting off that easy with me." Dean's voice had become more sober. His guard was way up and his gun far too close to my head. I didn't even breathe as he approached me and glanced at my hands to check the rope. He placed the cold barrel of the gun to my temple and leaned to grip the rope with his right hand. Secure. He slowly rose and locked his gun back, but keeping it in his hand as casually as a cigarette. I released a huge sigh, not caring about my outward appearance anymore. Before they could speak, I resumed the "interrogation."
"Angels seemed to have taken Castiel. They've left no trace but a manipulation of my mind. I know it's them, but that's all I know. If he was going to tell you something, it's gone. Can you untie me now? I can't feel my limbs."
"Angels?" Dean said as he and Sam exchanged looks of confusion and concern. A tilt of a head from Dean, a raise of an eyebrow from Sam, and the two began to untie me. My hands lay limp at my sides momentarily as I attempted to recover circulation. It was all I could do not to cry out. I had never been in so much pain. My body was at it's limit, and as the blood began to return to my arms and ankles, the black emptiness began to return to my eyes. I felt myself topping over sideways and becoming entangled with something.
"Whoa whoa! Hey guy you're taking out the lamp!" An hand with the force of a baseball bat slammed down and retrieved me by my right forearm. It lifted my dead weight onto the bed like I was a rag doll. That was uncomfortable. Dean's strength was not something I ever wanted to experience.
"Water!" I said, my voice almost unrecognizable to me it was so weak. "Water, Please! I promise I won't run away-"
"Yeah no kidding."
"Dean!" Sam snapped, but then, everything became dark and Quiet...
"Here Jim. It's water." The voice had the mellow tones only Sam could posses. "Here...sh...just drink it slowly..." My mouth would not open as much as I commanded it to, and I could only manage a sliver of an opening between my cracked lips. I was propped up with my back against Sam's chest and his arm around me, bracing me from slipping away. He took his hand and propped open my mouth with it, while using his left hand to pour the water in. My body just felt like a solid empty mass. Slowly, everything came back into focus and the lukewarm water was a shock to my system. It sent a surge through my body, and after swallowing a few times, I had begun to cough and shake.
"It's OK...sh...you were starving, your sugar was way down and you were dehydrated. It's alright. I've been bringing it all back up...there. Take it easy."
I started to swallow the water more fully and lifted my hand to take to cup from his hand. It was too heavy to lift and bring to my mouth.
"Dean went out to get you food when you looked like you were waking up." I glanced at the direction of the door. The curtains were shut, but the sun was still recognizable through the cracks.
"It's midday. You've been mostly sleeping for a day and a half...I think this will be it though. Once we get some food in your system you should be just fine." He took the cup from my hand and reached over to the bedside table to drop it off. He then picked up another cup, this one had a slight brown color to it.
"Brown sugar and honey. Trust me. It's been keeping you alive all this time. Drink some." I readily abided. Almost too readily. The warning in my heart grew once again. There was just something so strongly disastrous in the way his requests became fulfilled. He himself seemed completely filled with the best intentions, yet something about him was menacing. A sharp throbbing drew me away from these thoughts. My head had never been in such terrible shape...had it? A strange thought of hospital gowns and large blinking machines came to mind. There were people surrounding me...nurses and surgeons...no...perhaps not my head...
The clicking of the door was met with a nervous anticipation. All I could think about was the food that had arrived. Dean entered with two packages of McDonalds food.
"Huh. Wow, you're finally awake. Ok, well I got you pancakes and sausage. If you don't like it, tough. Your gonna eat it. I know Cas can't stand when they put it with the pancakes but you're not exactly in a position to complain." He unloaded one of the bags as he spoke and started putting little containers of butter onto the pancakes.
"You also got 2 eggmcmuffins, no make that 3, 5 hashbrowns, a rootbeer, like 20 chicken nuggets, some fries and 3 cheeseburgers. But start with this." He brought the syrup and butter covered pancakes over to me, the sausage not spared the syrupy goodness.
"Dean...It's almost 5:00 in the evening." Sam said inquisitively. "How did you get all this breakfast food?"
"No worries about that Sammy. Lovely ladies will do all kinds of things with the right persuasion." A smug smile began to trace his lips, but my eyes didn't remain on his face for another moment. I was consumed by the taste of the food. So much so that I almost mised the next comment.
"All the girls in the place are about 16." Sam spoke plainly, his arm loosing his grip on my shoulder.
I looked up in time to witness a moment of pause on Dean's face. His eyebrows raised and his head turned ever so slightly to the side.
"Yeah." Was all he could come back with, though he was clearly disturbed. He continued after a moment: "Besides, you know Cas prefer breakfast foods."
"This is Jimmy not Cas."
"Yeah well same taste buds!" The last comment seemed unnecessarily harsh. I cared very little, as it began to be difficult to control my manners with how much my body was shaking and how desperate I was to eat. I wouldn't have cared if all he fed me was syrup covered sausage. Anything would be the best damned thing I had ever eaten at that point. I just picked up the burger-shaped mean that I assumed Dean had meant by the 'sausage' and ate it, with my other hand I reached over to grab the cup of water. In moments the food was gone.
"Huh, well, you do have some fight left in you after all." Dean remarked as he half unwrapped a Mcmuffin and handed it to me. He seemed so pleased I would have expected him to have been feeding a baby rabbit. I suppose Sam must have noticed my expression of bewilderment as we watched each other so he spoke: "My name is Sam Winchester and this is my brother Dean."
"Ire-Nogh-" I said, my mouth so full it was barely comprehensible, but I couldn't have cared less. "Ire nogh your rames becarz of Carztierl-" I chewed.
"You know our names because of Castiel?" Sam tried to clarify quickly before Dean became threatening again. He moved to a different part of the bed so that he could look at me in the eyes. "I thought you said you didn't remember any-" Dean began before Sam quickly interjected.
"So you can remember some things from when you were possessed, what else can you tell me? Just anything is helpful."
A sudden need to pour my heart out to Sam became apparent to me. "I've heard the angels speaking with each other...Castiel is often silent...I've seen the other vessels, they're-" I took another bite "harbourin...Ire dunno murch more..." I resumed eating. It had recently become far more relevant than any conversation I could be having. I took a glance at Dean. He had taken on a much different air about himself. Not something fierce so much as melancholy. He seemed to blend into the wood panelling he leaned on as the orange rays of the sunlight his his skin. A look of worry and something akin to depression was all his face could be. I felt like I was really looking at him for the first time then. He seemed much smaller than I had first thought. His neck was thinner, and without a jacket, his shoulders less broad. He was entirely vulnerable at that moment. His arms crossed lightly over his chest and his mind was off in thought. He was just a vulnerable young guy...standing thee with that look. Right then he let his "Tough guy" persona slip and I managed to catch a peak. I was glad. His attempts at intimidation were working, but for all the wrong reasons.
"We'd really appreciate it if you could stay here for a while and be a help to us." Sam said softly, gently breaking the silence.
"Yeah...sure..." I nodded. It felt surprisingly easy to just agree on a whim. I, for the first time, had no responsibilities to anyone, and nothing to tie me down. There was nothing left for me to go back to, and though these guys didn't seem like the best crowd, I knew better than to disappear alone. At least with them I stood a chance. The lord only knows what would happen if I left.
"And take a bath for Christ's sake." Dean seemed to have snapped himself out of his thoughts.
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't use the Lord's name in such a way." I said, receiving the most astonished look sweep Dean's face.
"Oh God not you too!" He said, throwing up his arms and making for the door. Sam and I watched him exit. He waited for Dean to be completely out of earshot before looking at me.
"Sorry about him...he's taking Cas' disappearance pretty hard...and...well," an endearing smile danced upon his lips "he's been complaining about how awkward it is to see your body with no Castiel in it."
I turned to him with an eyebrow raised. "Is that so?" 'Creep' was my first thought, but then I considered the possibility of Castiel and Dean being together and my heart fluttered. The fun part was, the feeling wasn't from me. The kinds of images I was getting were all a bit too homoerotic for me to not have my suspicions about just why Dean was finding my existence to be so awkward. I shook my head. It was all too exhausting and my vision seemed to be blanking out.
"I'll agree with him on the bathing though..." I said to Sam. I had not changed from my clothes in God knows how long.
"Ha well alright." He smiled at me and stood from the bed. "They might be a bit big for you but you can borrow my clothes." He brought a black dufflebag onto the bed and began to sort through it, removing a pair of grey-blue cargo-pants, a v-cut white shirt and a pair of grey socks.
"Here you go...can you stand? Are you sure you want to do this?" By this time I had plowed my way to my second eggMcmuffin and was ready for anything.
"Oh,I'm sure," I said with a nod, reaching for the clothes. Getting out of bed was a bit more of a challenge than I had expected, but I managed to make it there without any real problems.
I shut the door, locked it,and leaned my back on the chilled wood surface. I let out a sigh and shut my eyes. 'Wow...' I was finally coming together. 'I can't believe this' I thought to myself. It felt so strongly that these feelings weren't my own. My mind was filled with thoughts of Dean. I was swimming in perpetual bliss. It was like a rosy, gentle silk was laid over me. An almost nostalgic euphoria. I clenched my fists and forced my eyes to open. 'What is all of this? Perception from Castiel?' I thought, turning as I did so, hoping that my face was less sunken and hideous than the last time I lad really seen it. 'A little better.' With some difficulty, I unbuttoned my shirt. My trench coat...or what was left of it, was lying in a heap next to the TV in the other room. They must have taken my tie at some point as well.
'No matter...less to work through I suppose.' I removed my shirt and undershirt and reached for my belt buckle 'Welll...that's awkward.' They must have taken that too...for me to be more comfortable? I didn't want to get into it. I removed my pants and boxers, Then I took a closer look in the mirror. My face barely looked like mine anymore. There was so much dirt caked onto my face I swear I looked a shade darker. My eyes were sunken and sleepless and yet...my mouth was remarkably clean...more so than when I had last seen it. All of my cavities seemed to have been healed as well. Then I took a look at my hair. "Ulgh!" I yelled in shock.
"Everything ok?" Called Sam from the end of the door.
"Yes, fine. I'm just a little taken aback by my condition!" I said.
"Yeah...he left you in pretty bad shape!" Was his only reply. My hair was practically plastered to my head with grime and dandruff. I suddenly pitied the Winchesters for having to endure me in such a state. 'No more examinations' I told myself and drew the shower curtain. I entered to shower and glanced at the shampoo selection. 'If I didn't know any better I'd say this bathroom belonged to a heterosexual couple.' There was a choice between "Garnier Fructis" and some generic men's body wash, both in tiny bottles. There was also a ratty looking bar of mystery soap, and next to it was another bottle...of something light red. I unscrewed the cap and sniffed. Strawberries.
'Man, this kid is gayer than I am.' My eyebrows remained raised in an expression of bewilderment. I turned on the water. It hit me with the force of a waterfall and shattered my ears with every tap it made on the bath tub. I felt like my head was melting and running down the drain. I stretched out my arms and caught myself against the wall before I sunk my head straight down into it. I strained to open my eyes. They felt open wide as I touched them but all I could see was white. The everything began to sound like a long sharp ripping of paper and then shapes began to form. It was as if I was peering onto a scene of an overly-lit movie. Everything was close up, and then...It began to focus in more clearly...