The Girl Without a Name
a/n: Wow, ok. I swore I wouldn't write any Supernatural fic. Not because I don't love Supernatural. I obviously love Supernatural. I just didn't want to open that can o' worms, ya know? But here I am. And this is random, y'all. Way, way random. But here it is.
I had this dream about two people taking a road trip in the snow. They were strangers. From that this fic was born. So here ya go. It's my first in this fandom, so...huzzah and whatnot. Reviews and constructive criticism always appreciated. :)
Disclaimers: I don't own a damn thing, except the girl without a name. Don't sue me, because I have no money and there'd be no point.
Chapter 1: Atonement
It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that's exactly how this grace thing works.
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive with the restart.
-Mumford and Sons, "Roll Away Your Stone"
He couldn't recall his creation.
To a human that wasn't anything odd, but to an angel it was an anomaly. Most of his kind could remember their first breath. The first thing their eyes beheld. The first sound they heard.
Castiel wasn't that sort of angel.
He didn't know why. Perhaps he'd spent too long among the humans. His brethren had often said he seemed more human than angelic, even in the days before his rebellion. The days before…
He had rebelled. He had made a deal with the Lord of Hell. He had killed his kin. He had suffered mightily for it, perhaps less suffering than he deserved considering his crimes. And now…? Now he was out of Purgatory and free to wander the earth, but barred from Heaven. For a time he'd thought he'd become a Hunter like Sam and Dean, but he'd overlooked a key component to Hunting.
It involved a damn lot of killing, and even though he was over his bee-watching phase, he still didn't relish bloodshed. Purgatory had been like a cleansing flame, purging the last of Lucifer's madness from him and leaving him honed to a keen edge. He felt new, renewed, but not…bloodthirsty. He wanted to be an angel again. Not a mindless automaton who followed orders without question, but rather a creature of great power and great compassion. An angel of the Lord.
So. Out of Purgatory, punishment complete? Still so much to atone for.
Castiel couldn't recall his creation, it was true. He had no memory of his first breath, or even his second. But he knew the name of every human whose death he had caused. He remembered every crime against humanity he had committed. He couldn't undo the things he had done. He couldn't bring the dead back to life.
He could stop a downward spiral his actions had started. He could set a once-promising life back on its old path. He thought maybe if he helped this woman…this one woman whose life had once seemed so charmed, but who now ran as far and as fast as she could from demons both literal and figurative, then maybe he could make the first true steps toward atonement. He was the reason for her life's dark twists, and he wanted to do what he could to make it right.
Dean had—what was the expression?—laughed his ass off when Cas told him.
"You're gonna try to pass as human so you can meet some girl and, what…save her? From herself?" he said, wiping tears from his eyes as he pulled a beer from the cooler at his feet and popped the top.
Castiel gritted his teeth in frustration. Sometimes Dean's flippant attitude was trying, especially when he used it as a cover for something else. "Yes, Dean. From herself. From the choices she's made. From some of the enemies those choices have earned her."
"There are some people out there who don't wanna be saved. You know that, right?"
Unbeknownst to him, Cas' dark eyes had taken on that far away look they got when he was "being all angel-y" (as Dean put it) and Dean knew there'd be no talking him out of it. "I don't believe that's the case this time," he said. "And I believe I owe it to her to try."
Dean drank his beer and considered. "Let me get this straight. You destroyed the church her family was in while you were on your God bender, right?"
"Yes," he said. His eyes flicked briefly to Dean's and away again.
"Before that this girl was Little Miss Sunshine. After that, not so much. You think it's your fault."
"There is every indication that her life would have continued on its destined course if her family hadn't been killed. If I hadn't killed them. Yes."
"Destined course?" He snorted. "Come on, Cas. You know how I feel about that destiny bullshit. Maybe this girl was on the verge of a major crash and burn anyway, and it was just bad timing."
He hesitated. "That is possible, but I don't think so. And besides, isn't part of what you do helping people? She needs help. I'm prepared to offer it."
Dean shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He couldn't really think of a good argument against Cas' plan, except that he just didn't think it would work. What woman in her right mind would give a cross-country ride to a random stranger? Especially a stranger as strange as Cas? He let out a sigh. "You're gonna need some clothes. And a bag. No one travels with one suit and no bag."
He looked down, perplexed. "What's wrong with my clothes?"
"Nothing, Cas, if you're a traveling salesman or a serial killer. You need clothes. Different clothes every day, and something warmer than that coat, because it's cold as balls out here and you're dressed for a springtime nerd convention in Vermont. Come on. We've got a lot of work to do if you're gonna pull this off."
And that was how the angel Castiel (dressed in a dark blue sweater and jeans, thank you) found himself in a seedy truck stop on a cold November morning pretending to drink coffee from a chipped mug when a tall, dark haired young woman breezed through the door and approached his table with a smile that hid a thousand secrets.
Later she couldn't have said why she sat down across that table from him. She'd never done anything like it before, and she couldn't imagine she ever would again. The restaurant was crowded, true, and like she told him at the time, the guys at the bar were pretty skeevy looking…but still.
There were other restaurants. Other stops along the road. She could have gotten her food to go and eaten in the car. She'd done it often enough. What on earth had possessed her to sit down with a complete stranger and start babbling away like an idiot? She wasn't that type of person. Never had been.
She felt like she was watching herself on a projection screen as she crossed the tiny, greasy space and smiled down at him. He looked up at her with a befuddled expression in midnight blue eyes.
"Weird, right?" she said as she slid into the booth opposite. "I mean, who does this? But it's super busy in here. The only empty seats are over there at the bar, and those guys are giving me the creeper eye. You know the look." She demonstrated, but he only looked back at her, nonplussed. She shrugged. "Did you already eat? That's cool. If you need to go or whatever, feel free. No need to hang out on my account."
"No," he said, speaking for the first time, "I haven't eaten." She thought he might say more, but he hesitated, frowned, and went quiet.
"Oh. Well, you should. Breakfast's the most important meal of the day, you know." The waitress arrived and she ordered a ham and cheese omelette with toast and hashbrowns and a glass of orange juice. He, looking more confused than ever, said he'd have the same.
She flashed him a smile and pulled a paperback from the bag at her side. He didn't seem inclined to chitchat, and now that her initial rush of madness had passed, she was mortified that she'd sat down at all. She hid behind her book and tried to peek at him from behind its pages without being too obvious about it.
He was cute for sure. Not in a flashy way, but subtly so, and she didn't think it was his looks that had prompted her rash behavior. His deep blue eyes were hooded, his hair coal black and slightly wild. He hadn't shaved in a few days and it suited him. He was average build, probably in his mid-thirties…and judging by the giant duffle shoved in beside him, someone on the move.
He hadn't asked her name. He hadn't asked anything at all. She liked that. Her presence—and her silence—didn't seem to make him uncomfortable, something else she liked. He sipped his coffee and watched the people with quiet fascination until she realized his eyes had flicked to her and she'd been caught staring. She flushed. He didn't notice.
"What are you reading?" he said.
His voice was deep, deeper than she would have expected, and it had a roughness to it. He looked a little like a hippy, but he didn't sound like one. "Dante," she said.
His mouth twitched.
"Nothing. It's just…ironic."
"Have you read it?"
He looked away, but before he did she caught something in his eyes, something…old? And weary. "You could say that," he said in a tired voice.
She opened her mouth to reply, but the waitress arrived with their food and she was distracted for a while. He watched her eat while he barely picked at his food. She washed down a bite of egg and ham with a sip of juice and grinned at him. "Not hungry after all?"
"I don't usually eat breakfast."
"Stick with me, kid," she said with a wink, "and we'll fix that lickity split."
His brow creased, but he said nothing. It almost seemed, she thought, as though English weren't his first language, and he was struggling with her colloquialisms. But he didn't have any sort of accent, so surely that wasn't it.
She drank the last of her juice and crunched through the final bites of toast. Slid the marker into her book and tucked it back in her bag. "Well. It's been…enlightening…but I should get back on the road."
She slid from the booth and grabbed both checks off the table. He reached for her hand, but she jerked it back before he could touch her. "To say thanks. For the company. For putting up with me." She shrugged, feeling awkward. "Don't make it weird. It's just breakfast." Her smile was tremulous. "And you hardly ate anything anyway. Seems silly you should pay for food you didn't even eat."
He stared up at her and she felt a sudden swoop of vertigo. His face was young, but his eyes…! Her fingers trembled as she brushed strands of long brown hair away from her face. "I should…I should go," she said. Her voice was so quiet she was surprised he could hear it at all, but he nodded.
"If you're going east, I could use a ride. If it wouldn't be too much trouble."
She almost laughed aloud. Was he nuts? It was one thing to sit down and have breakfast with him, but to offer him a ride? A complete stranger? Yeah, he was cute, but so was Ted Bundy back in the day…before everyone knew about the whole murderer-rapist-necrophiliac thing. This guy could have anything in that giant bag. A baseball bat. A rape kit. A body. Plenty of empty space so he could stash her body.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I don't think that's a great idea. But, hey, good luck with your trip." She smiled again, turned, and disappeared into the bustle of the still-crowded restaurant.
He sat back and waited. He was much older than his face, and all those years had taught him patience. He had chosen this cafe because he'd known she would come here, and he knew this was the place. He knew she would say yes. He smiled a little. Lifted his bag and stood. He dropped a few dollars onto the table (money, he'd found, was surprisingly easy to come by) and strolled from the cafe.
The angel Castiel was on a mission, the girl-without-a-name was integral to it, and failure was not an option.
"Dammit! Come on, sweetheart, don't do this to me now!"
She had the hood up on a gray Honda Civic and she was talking to it like a sentient being. He smiled, because she reminded him of Dean with the Impala, but also because the universe had a twisted sense of humor. He cleared his throat and she turned around with a distracted frown that cleared when she recognized him.
"Oh, it's you. You aren't responsible for this, are you? Some sort of plot to keep me here? Didn't Ted Bundy do something similar to lure his victims?"
"Never mind. Do you know anything about cars?"
"A little. I have a friend who—"
"Perfect. Get over here. I think it's the thingie, but the doohickey won't whatchamacallit. Don't look at me like that. Just because I don't know what stuff's called doesn't mean I don't know anything. Just undo that. It's stuck and I can't get it."
She pointed and he did as she directed and after several minutes the car was purring like a kitten. She crowed in triumph and petted the hood like it was a kitten. "Good boy! That's a good boy. I used to watch my brother work on cars all the time. He'd never explain what he was doing, so I never got the names of anything, but, ya know…I followed along." She shrugged and tossed him a rag for his hands. "I guess I owe you that ride now."
"Not if it makes you uncomfortable," he said.
"Ah, Mr. Chivalry. Rescues the damsel and makes no demands in return. That makes me feel shitty."
"That wasn't my intention."
"No," she said. "It wouldn't be."
She leaned back against the car and shivered. The temperature had dropped while they worked and a bitter wind had sprung up from nowhere. It was cold and getting colder, and she had a funny sense that he didn't really have anywhere else to go. Not that he was homeless, exactly…just that she, somehow, was his destination. Nuts.
She zipped her coat and reached in the open window to turn the heat up. "Let's make a decision quick. I'm freezing my ass off out here."
He stepped closer, and she lifted her chin to look up at him. His face was serious, and she wondered what happened to it when he smiled. "You have good instincts about people," he said.
She looked away with a frown. "I used to," she said. Shook her head like she was shaking off a bad memory. "Yeah," she said, squaring her jaw. "I guess so."
"What do your instincts say about me?"
"You're more than what you seem."
His brows flicked upward, barely surprised. "Am I dangerous?"
He paused, taken aback. "To you?"
"No," she said after a moment. "I don't think so."
"Well, then," he said.
She studied him through dark, narrowed eyes. Finally she leaned forward and sniffed. "There's no smoking allowed in my car, zero exceptions, but it doesn't seem like that'll be a problem."
"I…no. I don't smoke."
"Good. You can probably find a place for your bag in the trunk. Driver is the DJ, but passenger gets veto power. If you've gotta pee, do it now. We're outta here in ten minutes."
"I have no biological needs at this time," he said, and she laughed before she could stop herself.
"Well, I guess that covers it. Stow your stuff and let's hit it."
He managed to wedge his duffle in among her things in the trunk, and as he came around to the car's passenger side, he found her still standing at the driver's door, watching him. "You haven't asked my name or where I'm going," he said across the roof.
"You haven't asked my name or where I'm going," she echoed.
"Are you going east?"
"That's all I need to know."
"Good," she said. "Get in."
Waugh, waugh, Cas on a road trip! I'm not sure he's a passenger I'd take on, as much as I love him. Stay tuned to see what happens, and reviews are always welcomed. :)