Excluding all the RPS, this is my first SPN fic! Enjoy!
No one notices the quiet, burdened man in the tan trench coat at first.
They don't recognize him from a brief moment three years ago, when he and another young man, wearing an expression that spoke of a lifetime of sacrifices and of hurt and pain, sat together in the town's only playground, observing quietly while children played.
No one pays him any mind when he sits on that same park bench as he had so many years ago, a time before the Apocalypse, before his own rebellion, before Lucifer's ill-gotten freedom, before the war he had created with his brother standing against him.
He huffs a sigh, the expelling of excess carbon dioxide an action he'd seen Dean perform many times when frustrated or tired or annoyed. Castiel feels the action to be appropriate; he feels all of these emotions and more. It's an odd feeling for certain—experiencing emotions at all. He'd gotten used to it the year he was falling, when Heaven had banished him and the only comfort he held was with that of the Winchesters. Still, to exist a millennia with his purpose absolute, as a soldier with no further motive than to serve the will of God, and have his entire universe displaced to this—this uncomfortable, confusing, new reality with emotions and ethics and choice…
These past years had been the most troublesome in all of Castiel's existence.
But they had also been the finest.
Dean had shown him free will, choice, and the consequence that came of it. He had shown him loyalty and love and every reason humanity was as beautiful as his father had intended. He had shown him friendship, and for that Castiel would forever be grateful.
And, he reasons, that is what brings him to this seat in this town they had visited long ago. Dean no longer wished to see him, wanted nothing to do with the explanations to his deceptive actions of late, and would never forgive him for what he had done. But perhaps though, if Castiel waited long enough, he may begin to.
Perhaps one day, someday soon, Dean would wake from sleep and find himself wondering where he may be. Wondering what Castiel was doing at that moment, if he were in Heaven, or thinking of the other as well. And then, maybe then, he would want to see Castiel as much as he wished to see Dean.
That moment between them at the park, after the slaughter of the witch and the exorcism of Samhain, was one Castiel treasured dearly; the moment the clarity of right and wrong and his doubts really came to fruition, much as he had failed to recognize it at the time. The moment was everything that made Castiel what he was to this day; this town one crucial to him. Maybe it would be to Dean as well, and he'd see Castiel waiting patiently on this bench.
When Castiel had visited Dean some time ago, he had wanted one last time to explain. To make Dean see his motivations for joining the King of Hell when everything in him screamed to do otherwise. He had been telling the truth when he had said he was only doing it for Dean. Were it not for him, were it not for Raphael's threats against the Winchesters, Castiel certainly wouldn't have fearlessly faced his own demise at the hands of his older brother. It had everything to do with Dean, as much of his actions did as of late.
Dean had been stubborn in his refusal, harsh with his words; he had no interest in hearing Castiel's reasoning. Castiel couldn't understand why his will had been so strong. Working with vermin may not have been what was expected of him, but why had Dean pleaded, nearly begged to abandon his mission?
After returning to heaven and seeking help from his father, after his prayers had gone unanswered and his questions unheard, Castiel's thoughts went back to the only being that had been willing to help, even at the start: you'll call right? If you get into real trouble?
It was then, sitting in heaven during that eternal Tuesday, that he made a choice.
Crowley had been furious when Castiel had decided to listen to Dean's urgings and abandon their union. He knew he would be unable to open the door to the void without him, needing an angel's unyielding power to supply their mission. He yelled and cursed and threatened the Winchesters, but Castiel held firm, sending the angel back to hell with the power of his borrowed souls.
He had no idea how he was to overcome Raphael now, without the power Purgatory could supply, but he knew in his grace, in the center of his being that it was the right decision to be made.
He would return to Dean, hoping that the offering of help was still available to him.
It seemed, however, if the corrected sigils lining the walls of Bobby Singer's home was any inclination, that Dean's offer was no longer on the table. He had been too late, and his friend had given up hope on him.
So he waits. Waits for Dean to see the mistakes he'd tried to set right, and hope that his friend would return to him.
Time continues to be fluid, no matter how long it is stretched on. The first few nights, Castiel takes no notice of those around him beginning to question his placement in the park. Only focused on the prospect of Dean returning to him whenever he deemed enough time had passed, of the memory of his voice and his laugh, as rare as it may have been; he paid no attention to the humans around him and their confused, questioning gazes.
At some point as he waits vigilantly, Castiel returns his observations to those around him. For some reason he cannot understand, they are watching him as well. Staring at him as though he were an oddity worth examining. Some stop to question him, asking why it is he continues to sit rigidly still in the same seat for multiple days.
He ignores them, turning instead to look at the sky, the trees, the birds flying as he does to the heavens.
It's in this time he waits that Castiel's mind wanders to all that has happened to him in his infinite being. He remembers his brothers' teachings when he had been a fledgling, of his excitement and wonder when he had first observed all things his father had created—the strong, expansive waters of the sea; the birds of prey, powerful wings flapping as they descended to the trees; the little grey fish as it crawled on its belly to the shores just out of reach.
He remembers the meeting between himself and Zachariah when he told Castiel of Lilith's plan, of the breaking of the righteous man, of the seeds being sewn towards the end of all. Of his disgust as he traveled to the pit, of the abominations skittering and screaming past him like the filth they were.
He remembers a pure and luminescent soul, as bright and as beautiful as any he'd ever seen. He remembers his awe at such a sight, remembers the unending feeling of wrong at this soul being in this place full of despair, of suffering. Castiel knew without doubt that Dean's soul belonged in paradise once he passed on. This place was for the evil, the wicked. Not Dean. Never Dean.
He remembers bursting through an old barn's entrance, showing Dean of the power he wielded, showing the silhouette of his wings, as close to his true form as he'd be able to bear.
He remembers his rebellion, his brothers' wrath as he struck him down, and his disappointment as he discovered his father had abandoned him long ago.
He remembers a wide smile, freckled skin, eyes so green the fields and grasslands of his father's creation could not compare.
He remembers Dean. All of his memories overwhelmed with the feeling of a hand on his shoulder, of a reference he didn't understand. Of the mistakes he'd never be able to take back. Never be able to correct.
Castiel's chest thrums with the feeling of loss, the pain as sharp as his blade.
When what Castiel deems as at one week has passed, Castiel begins to grow weary. It isn't that his body needs nourishment or rest—he is still an angel after all. His spirit is that which heaves a sigh of restlessness, his grace.
He begins to wonder if this mission is a fruitless one—if Dean ever will ever remember this place where Castiel revealed his doubts, his fears, proclaimed to be far from the hammer Dean had thought him. If he will even choose to seek out this place even if he does.
Not that he should, Castiel thinks forlornly. His union with Crowley was an abhorrent one; Dean had been right about that. But looking back, seeing his friend raking leaves, no longer another human's protector, no longer a hunter, it was the only choice he seemed to have.
He would rather have been slain by his brother for the second time than intervene in Dean's new-found content.
He had chosen the only other option readily available to him; the best at the time, despite knowing it was not the right one.
It's that thought that wills Castiel on; he must repay his actions to Dean, must show his remorse for the actions he felt necessary at the time. He must make him see his regret, of the sorrow he feels no longer being in Dean's company, for no longer being his friend.
And so he waits.
"Son," Castiel turns his head towards the voice directed to him, "you can't stay here. You need to move it along."
He turns his head away from the older man, his posture stiff and uncomfortable as he grips his side-arm; he's a human authority figure, a police officer. "I am waiting for someone, and am causing no trouble. Perhaps you would be better suited dealing with those who are actually breaking the law."
The man's lips move into a tight line, his jaw clenching tightly. "That may be. But as of now, you're my top priority. You're loitering, and from what I understand, have been for at least a week."
"Time is no matter to me," Castiel says, eyes moving to the groups of parents gathering their children in their arms, carrying them away from the park, their eyes quickly glancing to and away from Castiel as though he were some sort of threat. "I will wait as long as I need to—several weeks more, if it is to be that way."
The policeman sighs, moving to sit on the bench next to him, "And who exactly are you waiting for, son?"
Castiel turns his head, eyebrows furrowing with his own confusion. Shouldn't his answer be an obvious one?
The man's expression is surprised, as if he expected Castiel to say the name of another. "Well, that's…uhh, nice. I guess. Is he your…?"
He takes pity as the man fumbles with his words, his face reddened. "Dean and I are not romantically involved, no."
The man seems to drown in his relief. He claps a hand to Castiel's shoulder, slightly shaking his head. "Well then, why the sit-in? Couldn't you just phone this guy? Visit him?"
Castiel weighs his response carefully. He doubts this human would be interested in hearing about the measures Dean has taken to avoid seeing him again; the runes, the banishing sigils prepared. "He no longer wishes to see me. I am hoping he will come to his senses and forgive me of my trespasses. That is why I must stay here; this spot is very important to me and maybe him as well. If he changes his mind, this is the first place he will go."
"That sure is dedication." Castiel's eyes move to the man questioningly. "Well, it's not every day you find someone so dead-set on his motives that he refuses to even move. I know people in love who wouldn't even go that far."
The man's face turns warm, cracked and aged skin forming a smile. "Good luck to you son." He shakes Castiel's hand, the grip strong and reassuring. "I hope you get what you're waiting for."
Castiel watches the man leave, stopping to talk to a fellow law enforcement officer as he does. He pulls the other man away, whispering in his ear urgently. Together they walk away, the older man nodding his head to Castiel.
He turns away, borrowed blue eyes trained to the sky.
More time passes when Castiel feels a pull, a tight grasp in his grace that brings him from his musings.
Dammit, Cas. Why are you making me do this?
I'm praying. You know I fuckin' hate doin' this, but here I am. Think you can spare a minute to listen?
Castiel hesitates. Should he appear to Dean? Is that even what he wants?
Can't believe I'm sitting here talking to myself, but. But I know you're listening. Least I hope you are.
He closes his eyes, willing every intent and emotion through the bond he and Dean shares, wanting nothing more than to communicate his affirmation.
Sam's been on my case for weeks about calling you back, about talking to you again. We, uhh. We summoned Crowley a while ago. Little bastard wouldn't say much, but he did mention that you poofed yourself off the map. He said you scrapped the plan to open up monster land. I gotta' tell you, man. You have no idea how happy I was when he said that. But he uhh…he said he and his henchmen can't find you, that no one can. Guess you used some kind of nerdy angel repellant to hide from everyone, huh?
But it isn't just with the demons. We can't find you either. We've summoned you, Sam's been praying, but he thinks you just don't want to listen. So, I thought…I don't know. Profound bond and all that, I thought you might lend an ear for me.
Castiel leans back in his seat, and does as Dean asks.
I gotta' be honest here, Cas. I don't even know where to begin. What you did was really shitty, but I shouldn't have—I shouldn't have reacted how I did. You needed help and I just…pushed you out of the picture. You made some stupid decisions, but I'm not saying that I didn't too.
I…fuck, this is stupid. I miss you, man. I meant it when I said you were like a brother to me. Might be more than that, if I'm not lying to myself. I just, I don't want this to be an end. I don't want…Just please. Let me know how you're doing. A smoke signal, something. Just to know you're not Raphael's bitch somewhere in heaven.
Castiel thinks of one image. He searches deep into his grace, to the thread connecting himself to the soul he raised from perdition, and thinks of one image.
An angel and a righteous man, sitting on twin park benches, eyes fixed straight ahead.
Dean's voice goes silent, no longer directed to him.
All he can do is hope. Hope Dean got his message. Hope that he remembers.
Dean's hand grips the side of Bobby's desk, chest heaving and palms sweating. He feels like he does when all those big baddies finally show their faces: scared and excited and elated all passing through him at once.
And an image, clear in his head as if he was watching it himself. It's him and Castiel, sitting together on dirty benches in a small nameless town as little kids yelled in the background. It's from an outsider's view, so he catches as the picture changes, progressing like a little movie. He can see himself as he turns to Castiel, as he listens to him describe his doubt in God, in the rest of the angels. As he speaks with a reverence of all the people milling around the park. As he talks about their impending doom with Lucifer.
He remembers it like it was yesterday; it was when he stopped seeing Castiel as the warrior on a mission, of a self-righteous crusader who was more than willing to throw Dean back into hell so he'd never deal with him again. It was when he saw him as just Cas—his friend. Not the cold, marble statue, but of a man (albeit a really fucking powerful one) who had as many questions about his place in the world as Dean did.
Dean knows where to find his friend—might have known this whole time.
"Hey Sammy?" Dean hollers into the kitchen where Sam had been pouring over ancient texts with Bobby. "You remember that hunt we did on Halloween a few years back?"
Dean's eyes are trained on the asphalt as his baby roars down the highway. Sam's sitting annoyed in the passenger's seat. He'd tried explaining how he knew where to find Cas, tried to put the shared feelings moving through him as best he could, but his little brother seemed less than impressed.
The radio was off for once, Dean more focused on remembering the drive down than whichever AC/DC song happened to be playing on the local classic rock channel.
Sam sighed, eyes firmly fixed out the side window and not at Dean.
"What Sammy? For fuck's sake, what is it?"
"It's just…how do you know this is where Cas' been hiding? On a park bench in the middle of town we worked a case in three years ago?"
Dean pinches the bridge of his nose, the beginnings of a headache coming on. "I don't know how I know, Sam. I can't explain it. I just do. Now, can you just trust me? If he isn't there, fine. Then we've wasted a road trip. We'll get back to trying to stop Crowley from opening Purgatory later. Just let me do this, okay?"
Sam nods, leaning back in his seat. "Alright. Fine. Can we at least listen to the radio? Being in this car with just the sound of you breathing is freaking me out."
Dean smirks, reaching forward to crank the knob of the impala, switching the radio on.
A town nearby has shared a story with us that we think our listeners may find interesting, Karen. A man has been sitting in the small town's playground, on a bench, for the last forty-three days!
Dean and Sam share a look, eyebrows arching in question.
I can't even fathom the kind of will that must take! No one has managed to get his name or why he's there, but the locals have seen fit to give him a title of his own: The Man Who Can't Be Moved.
Dean's eyes move to the road as Sam changes the station, Toy Caldwell's smooth, southern voice crooning through his speakers as he sings about riding a southbound to Georgia.
This is right where he belongs—driving his baby on a two-lane highway, his brother riding shotgun.
All that's missing is Cas.
He can feel it the second Dean's within range. It's like a fire alarm goes off inside him, an insistent thrumming in his grace that tells him Dean is near.
His eyes move from the spot of grass he'd been staring at the last two hours, ignoring the humans around him and their superfluous questioning, passed the crowd and into endlessly deep emerald eyes.
Dean rushes to him, Sam not far behind, pushing through the people swarming him, shouting to them all to break it up, you fucking vultures!
The crowd parts and disperses, not willing to tempt Dean's ever-present wrath.
He reaches him, face flushed and panting, eyes traveling over Castiel's rumpled form.
He offers an exhausted chuckle, his face tired and weary. "Dammit, Cas. Where have you been?"
Castiel shrugs a shoulder—yet another mannerism he'd picked up from Dean—and looks up at him. "Sitting."
Dean laughs, setting a hand to his shoulder as he sits at the bench opposite him, exactly where he had so long ago. "I see that, man. But forty-three days? Couldn't you have left a note or something, I mean, c'mon."
Castiel looks down, face hesitant. "You no longer wished to see me. I thought maybe…"
"You'd what? Wait it out?"
Castiel nods slightly, wary of Dean's reaction.
"God, Cas. I'm…" Dean scrubs a hand across his face. "I'm sorry, about…fuck, everything.I was such a fucking dick." Dean's eyes shine, wide and pleading, begging forgiveness for something he shouldn't have to. "If I had just listened, maybe then…"
Dean looks up, green eyes meeting blue. The Stare was as potent as ever, and Dean can't help but feel almost embarrassed that anyone should be so focused on him.
"Do not apologize for what you said to me. I should ask forgiveness of you. Working with Crowley…I'm sorry that it took me so long to realize the mistake."
Dean offered a small smile, rising to his feet. "Why don't we just say we both fucked up and move on, huh? I mean, Crowley can't open the door without an angel right? It's what he said when we had him in the devil's trap earlier."
Castiel nods, rising to his feet as well.
"Well then, problem solved, right?"
Dean nods his head towards the parking lot where the impala and Sam are waiting. "Now, come on. We've got a lot of setting-right to do. Starting with your asshole of an older brother and his mission to put the Apocalypse back on the rails." He walks ahead, leaving Castiel alone by the bench.
He smiles, hands trailing across the rough wood of the bench he'd sat vigil, waiting for Dean to reach to him, as Castiel should've done from the start.
"Cas? You coming?"
He nods, smiling, as he glances once more around the park, each of his father's creations singing with life and vibrancy. Dean's voice rings in his head, as it had those years ago.
…All of it is still here 'cause of my brother and me…