A/N: This takes place in the middle of "Two Minutes to Midnight" (5.21), right before Sam, Dean, Bobby, and Castiel head for Chicago. I noticed they change their clothes a couple times in between the Pestilence thing and the Death/"Domestic Act of Terrorism" thing, so I guess that it would make sense that Team Free Will has to wait at least a day or so for Death to actually show up in Chicago before they go frolicking off. So this fic is just a little scene of down-time that takes place before they go.
It also might be worth mentioning that this fic isn't slash. Hopefully y'all can tell that on your own, but I don't want to get a review asking me why Dean and Castiel didn't kiss at the end. They didn't kiss because in my fics Dean and Castiel are friends. K? K.
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural, and this fic isn't making me any money. I know, it's all very sad, but I'll be getting season 4 delivered soon and that should cheer me right up.
It's funny how the funniest things—including a picture of Bobby allegedly frenching a demon—can't even improve your mood during the apocalypse.
I'm mildly ticked-off about that, and also mildly aware that we don't have much reason to be in a good mood in the first place.
I'm also mildly drunk, which may or may not be a result of the bad mood thing. And the apocalypse thing. But it's probably more a result of the whiskey thing.
Bobby was with me about an hour ago, I think. No, I'm almost positive, he was. Somebody had to have left this bottle of whiskey in front of me. But I'm pretty sure that a few minutes into the drinking Bobby took his glass upstairs, muttering something I didn't really pay much attention to.
I keep slipping in and out of the realization that tonight could be my last night alive. Sam and I have survived too much already, and killing Death doesn't sound any less stupid after six shots of whatever-the-hell-I'm-drinking. But I try not to think about that, because last nights on Earth have lost their charm. There is no music. No pictures. No Ellen, and no Jo.
I think it's the realization that I'm alone that gets me up and moving. I take the bottle with me, just in case. In case of what? That's a valid question. I don't have an answer for you.
I enter the kitchen, because even if nobody's in there I can still forage for food. I've been hungry since breakfast, and haven't thought to do anything about it yet. But someone is in there. It's Cas. He's sitting in one of the chairs, hunched over the table.
And because Cas is not what I would deem as adequate drinking company, I head to the cupboards.
The only thing I really find worth eating is a lollypop that's probably been here the last time Sam and I trick-or-treated at Bobby's place. But it's watermelon, so I take off the wrapper and put the lollypop in my mouth.
And, hey, it still tastes like watermelon. Score.
I turn around, about to leave the kitchen, but then I catch a better look at Cas. He's ditched his coat and suit jacket, though the wrinkled dress shirt and loose tie are still in play. His face is twisted into some disgusted expression. I think I see him wince once, and then I notice that he's got his arm bent back while he tries to rub at a knot in his shoulders.
It does not look comfortable. Or angelic, for that matter.
For a second I have to stop and think of why an angel would be sore to begin with. Then I remember—oh. The beautiful room. The box-cutter. The shrimping boat. And then there was the humanized angel singlehandedly taking on Pestilence and a demon. Yeah, that'll just about do it.
I watch him for a second, and if he notices me he doesn't show it. I chalk this up as payback for all the times he's snuck up on me or horrifically invaded my personal space.
But then he cranes his neck to the side, trying to make room for his arm while he tries to reach a decidedly unreachable area below his shoulders, and I'm pretty sure I hear something crack.
I wince. "Hey, you're gonna—" I lift a hand, then drop it. Then I sigh and step forward, using my free hand to nudge his away from his back.
Cas whips around with hands in front of him like he's prepared to attack, and I think it's safe to assume that being drained of his angel mojo has probably made him a little jumpy. I raise my hands in surrender, noticing that the whiskey bottle is still clutched in one of them. Cas sags his shoulders and turns back around, but this time he just lays both his hands in his lap, abandoning his sore muscles.
I take a second to think on this, and then I reach past his shoulder to set the whiskey bottle down on the table. Cas's head tilts at the sound of glass hitting wood, and then he goes back to staring at his hands.
I put a hand on Cas's shoulder and use my other hand to run a thumb under his shoulder blade. Cas's back goes a little rigid, but otherwise he doesn't respond. "Where're you…" I start to ask. But then I feel it, a couple inches to the right of his spine.
This is something I've done for Sam I don't know how many times, so it doesn't really occur to me that Cas wouldn't be prepared for me to press into the knot, trying to knead it away. He sort of arches and hisses through his teeth, but at least he doesn't look like he's going to karate-chop my head off again.
A second later I feel Cas's muscles relax, and he lets out a long breath. "Okay?" I ask, but it doesn't really sound like an English word since I'm still talking around the candy in my mouth.
Cas seems to understand, though. He nods once, and the next time he exhales it seems less relieved and more uneasy. He seems to be all kinds of uneasy these days, and I figure that the inconvenience of sore muscles is kind of the last straw for Cas. He seems frustrated and a little appalled at the whole thing.
So because I feel a little bad, and also because I might be a little drunk, I put both hands back on his back, looking for more knots.
Thankfully Cas doesn't know enough about human interaction to feel awkward about this. I don't think he does, anyway. He just sits very still for a few seconds, and then he sighs and almost slouches.
Cas stays very quiet while I press the kinks out of his shoulders. I don't know whether that's weird or not. A normal person—well, a person—would make some sort of soothed sound. The only reaction Cas offers is a roll of his shoulders every now and then, and once he twitches when my thumb brushes the back of his neck. Like it tickles him.
That makes me notice a thin, white line that runs from Cas's collar to the back of his ear. I take the lollypop in my hand so that I can talk. "Was this you or Jimmy?" I ask, touching the scar with my finger so Cas will know what I'm talking about.
Cas takes a long time to answer, and I wonder if he's starting to nod off. But when he finally speaks his voice is strong and alert. "Jimmy's first bike ride, if I remember correctly," Cas says. He pauses. "Lack of my angelic abilities has made it difficult to… recall my vessel's memories."
He doesn't say it like it's a bad thing, but I wonder if it bothers him.
I'm about to go back to my lollypop, but I feel like there's something more that needs to be said. "Thanks, by the way," I blurt out before I really know what I'm trying to say. "For… the Pestilence thing. And the demon thing." Cas doesn't say anything, so I add, "It was super bad-ass." Because he needs to get this through his skull. That he's okay without the angel stuff.
I don't think Cas really gets my point though, because he replies, "It was… a necessary action."
There's a particularly knotted area of muscle over Cas's left shoulder blade, and Cas grunts when I drag my knuckles across it. "It was awesome," I insist. "Sam and I would have been toast if you hadn't showed up."
"Toast…" Cas repeats, carefully chewing on the word. I imagine him wrinkling his nose at the mental image.
"Uh… screwed." Then I want to slap my forehead, because, yeah, that's a lot better. "I mean we were… Eh, forget it." I put the lollypop back in my mouth, frustrated with that failed attempt at saying something halfway important.
Cas doesn't answer. He just sighs and folds his arms in front of him. Then he leans down to rest his head in the crevice of his elbow.
I freeze for a second, because it's such a freakishly human thing he's just done. But I shake off that feeling, that oh crap it's the apocalypse and I'm massaging angels and we're all gonna die feeling, and pick up where I left off working through Cas's strained muscles.
After a minute I hear footsteps, and look up just in time for Sam to appear in the kitchen's entryway. He freezes when he sees us, and I imagine that he's kind of earned the right to look so freaked out right then. Because, come on. Me, rubbing Cas's shoulders with a lollypop sticking out of my mouth. And angel in question sitting there with an almost-empty bottle of whiskey.
Yeah. Okay. It's weird.
But Sam stares for a few seconds past my patience limit, and I've noticed that Cas is also looking up at Sam with an embarrassed expression. So I slap a grin on my face and take the lollypop out of my mouth so I can say, "Hey, Sammy! Wanna jump aboard the platonic massage train?"
Sam snaps his mouth shut, about-faces, and leaves.
I drop my grin and roll my eyes, going back to kneading through Cas's back.
Cas must have dropped his head back in his arms again, because his voice is muffled when he says, "I had hoped that loss of my powers would at least come with a better understanding of your obscure references."
I blink. "Huh?"
Cas's shoulders rise and fall, and I think he might have sighed. "Mortality has offered no particular advantages so far."
I chew on that thought for a minute. "You'll get the hang of it," I say, and even I don't know what I mean by that, so I'm not surprised when Cas doesn't respond. But I think we're both a little relieved when that conversation comes to an abrupt end.
I'm working through the muscles behind Cas's lower ribs when Cas makes a choked noise and flinches away from my touch. I snap my hands back, startled. "What?" I ask.
Cas lets out a breath through his nose. "According to doctors," he says in a strained voice. "The fall into the dock gave me... cracked ribs."
I take the lollypop out of my mouth and toss it into the trashcan, and then I move to sit down in the empty chair closest to Cas. Cas doesn't look at me, but he keeps talking. "Minor damage," Cas says, and I got the feeling that Cas was just repeating the doctor's words again. Cas rests his chin on his arms, and adds, "Said that I was lucky."
We sit in silence for a minute, letting that last bitter word hover in our ears. I reach across Cas's arms to snag the bottle of whiskey and say, "Doctors are quacks."
Cas's eyes follow the bottle as I slide it back and forth between my hands. I realize he didn't understand what I just said, so I quit trying to talk and place the bottle right in front of Cas's nose.
Cas picks the bottle up, drains it in a few quiet gulps, and nestles his chin back into his arms. He sets the bottle down on his side and taps it with his index finger. The bottle rotates a couple inches before it wobbles to a stop.
We're both silent after that, the two of us wallowing in our own private miseries. And this would qualify as a pity party, I realize as I watch Cas stare into the empty whiskey bottle. I probably look equally as pathetic, slouched in my chair with my arms crossed over my stomach.
But Cas and I did go to Hell for all this, so maybe we both kind of deserve a pity party.
I'm not sure how long we sit there before I feel my eyelids get heavy. I nod off and wake up a few times when my head falls into my chest, and every time I do Cas is still in the same spot, staring at that bottle. I know he won't fall asleep, because apparently that is not a privilege granted to even the most human of angels.
So Cas stays there until my eyes shut for the last time, exhaustion trumping the uncomfortable position of my neck. Through a hazy almost-sleep I hear someone come in. It's Sam, I think, and he exchanges a few words with Cas. They're low and short, and then a chair scrapes backwards and Sam is tapping me on the shoulder. "Dean, head to bed," Sam says. Then he walks off.
I groan and crack my back, opening my eyes. Cas is gone, and his chair is pushed back under the table. It almost makes me think that the past hour was just a really weird dream, but then my eyes land on the empty glass bottle.
Not a dream, then. Just a really weird moment with an almost-human angel.
I give the bottle a final nod as I stand up and head out of the kitchen. "Nothing wrong with that," I mutter to myself as I go.
And maybe there is, but it's the apocalypse and I can't be bothered to care.