Obligatory Nephilim fic. When it became canon on Supernatural, I had the geek out of the century and immediately started writing. You have no idea how long I'd been waiting for it. This was intended to be a one shot, but as usual, it's turned into something much larger and I'm not sure where I'm going to take htis. Don't worry, Castiel is only a whiny teenager in the first few chapters, then the Winchesters and some angels appear and I throw them all into the middle of the apocalypse. Definitely an AU, but a lot of homage is paid to canon. Title is taken from an AFI song, appropriately titled "The Nephilim." Enjoy! :)
Castiel has always known he was different.
He looked and felt different. Strange occurrences constantly happened in his presence. Since he was a little child, he suspected that there was something cold inside of him. Something that never felt completely human.
When he was in kindergarten, he fell and skinned his knee on the playground. A teacher's aide rushed over and helped him up. When she asked to see the wound, it healed in front of her eyes. The aide thought that it was a trick of the light. A week later, Castiel fell off the slide and scraped his elbow. He was barely six at the time and he was screaming bloody murder. His elbow wasn't cut very deeply, but it hurt worse than his knee. The same aide rushed to his side, seeing blood and dirt, actually relieved at the sight of it, because it proved she wasn't insane. Despite this relief, the wound once again healed before her eyes, albeit a little more sluggishly this time. The aide quit her job later that day and Castiel knew, even then, that it was because of him. The look of horror that crossed her face upon when she saw the wound heal is still one of his most vivid memories.
Around the age of nine, Castiel developed a temper. It was a normal temper for a boy his age, but unlike other boys his age, if he got too upset, any glass around him would shatter. At first, he didn't make the connection. After all, who would? When his mother grounded him for the first time, making him so angry that he could kill her, the lights in the kitchen exploded. When a boy at school cheated off him on a math test and Castiel noticed but did nothing to stop it, the window on the other side of the room shattered, causing minor injuries to the students sitting near it. That day, he was reminded of the kitchen, but he still didn't think it was possible He finally admitted that it might be him, somehow, some way, when he found out his stepbrother was going to college halfway across the country and he got so upset that every window in the house, on both floors, shattered simultaneously. By the time he was 12, he'd learn to bottle his emotions.
Castiel's freak status was confirmed when he was 13 and inadvertently realized he could read minds. He cut himself deeply after this happened, crazed with grief because he knew his normal life was now completely over. He didn't want to die, but he wanted proof that he could at least bleed human blood. The wound was so deep that he almost fainted. It healed in ten seconds. At this point, he wrote himself off as a nutcase with no grip on reality whatsoever or as some kind of monster.
He hoped he was crazy, he really did. He remembered the teacher's aide, the exploding lights, and the disappointment and realization that covered his mother's face every time something weird happened in his presence and he knew he wasn't. He was a freak, a mutant, a monster, pure and simple. Being crazy would be too easy.
Castiel gave up on trying to be normal at that point and started reading X-Men and hoping for the best.
2001- Age 14, Pontiac, Illinois
Castiel maintained his optimism into his early adolescence. He assured himself that there were others like him. There were other people who weren't completely normal. There were conjoined twins, people with tumors the size of basketballs, geniuses who could compose symphonies at the age of three, and others with abilities unmatched by the rest of humanity. Something made them different, just like he was. He knew about a man who got a brain injury and woke up knowing Portuguese. That was almost as bizarre as mind reading. By the time Castiel was 14, he was convinced it was his brain, not something otherworldly, that made him the way was. He spent hours in the library, poring over books about the human brain. This seemed like a strange thing for someone who was barely into adolescence to do, but Castiel became convinced that his strange abilities, his "psychic phenomena," and even the instantaneous healing were related to his brain. Clearly he just used far more of his brain that normal people did. He was simply more evolved. The more he read about the brain and the amazing things it was capable of doing, the better he felt about himself.
When he was 14, he decided to tell someone about what he could do. By now, his list of freakish traits was quite large, seemingly growing as he aged, and it was getting difficult to hide them. He decided to tell his sister. The rest of the family looked at him like he was a science experiment, but Anna accepted him. After all, it was Anna who told him about the man who woke up speaking Portuguese. She seemed so fascinated by it that Castiel knew she might believe it and eventually accept it. He said it as casually as he could one day when they were home alone, watching a movie. He simply stated "I can read minds." This trick was the easiest to explain, mostly because he could show her. She reacted exactly how he expected her to react.
Anna burst out laughing. "Oh, Cassy! I love you! Such imagination!"
Castiel's heart twitched in a warm, happy way every time she said that. Anna was his stepsister, but they were so close in age that she was his best friend and his only ally in the Milton household. He knew telling her first was the best route.
"I'm not kidding." He leaned in and grabbed the remote and paused the movie that was playing. "Anna, I can show you."
With that, Anna stopped laughing, turning to face him, her bright hazel eyes burning. She opened her mouth to say something, but stopped. She squinted at him, reading his face. She knew his face better than anyone. Slowly it dawned on her that he was being completely serious.
"You're serious." She said slowly. "Cas, come on."
"You know I'm different. I always have been."
The concern on her face grew. He decided that he'd picked the right trait to show her because right now, she was broadcasting her thoughts loudly and it'd be easy. He concentrated on her face, drawing her gaze into his. Castiel was thankful that he didn't persistently hear thoughts. If he did, he'd go insane. Sometimes if someone around him was really emotional, he'd pick up what was in his or her head without trying. This was rare. Usually he had to concentrate and will his way into their brains. Right now Anna was letting him, even though she clearly thought he was losing his mind.
"Oh dear, sweet baby Jesus. What is wrong with Cassy? Has my little bro gone completely insane?" He intoned, repeating the words that had just ran through her mind.
Anna's eyes widened.
"What the fuck? Jesus Christ, how is he doing this? Why is he staring at me? It's creepy. Sometimes I think about Bill Clinton when I masturbate." Castiel repeated. He grimaced a little bit when he said the last part.
Anna's mouth fell open.
"You certainly take the lord's name in vain a lot." Castiel said. He smirked at her. "Let me guess, you thought the last part on purpose to see if I was legitimate or not."
"Castiel." She breathed. "How long have you been able to do that?"
"About a year." He admitted. "There's other things too, but they're way weirder."
"Weirder than reading minds? Cas, doesn't that drive you nuts? Hearing what everyone thinks all of the time? Why can you do it?"
"I don't always hear things. I have to work at it and I have to concentrate really hard. It doesn't flow, which is obviously a relief. The only time I can hear thoughts without trying is if someone is very emotional. Their thoughts are loud and it's out in the open for me to hear. The answer to your second question, well, I don't know. I don't know why any of this is happening to me."
Castiel felt immense relief telling her this, even though these were small things. It felt so good to tell someone this, to not have to hide it anymore. He couldn't wait to show her what else he could do, share his entire self with her. He'd never been able to do that, not with anyone.
"What are you?" She asked, still in disbelief. "Humans can't do that. No one can. It's never been proven. What else can you do? Do I even want to know?"
Anna's eyes remained wide and she actually backed up a little bit, as if he were infectious. She didn't look disgusted, but shocked and a little bit terrified.
Castiel felt like he'd been slapped. He'd expected her to laugh and think he was crazy, at least before he showed her. He'd thought she'd think it was cool, that he was brave for hiding these parts of himself for so many years. He was so young and it'd been so difficult, especially before he understood that he was different and that he had to hide it.
"Anna, of course I'm human." He whispered. "What else would I be? An alien?"
"I don't know, Cas! I mean, you read my freakin' mind! It's scary!" She cried.
Castiel just sat there, not knowing what to say. He didn't know if he should be angry at his sister or himself. Maybe this was normal and her reaction really wasn't that bad. It wasn't as if there was a "coming out guide" for people like him. He squinted at her, caught her gaze again. He wondered what possibilities were floating through her head. Did she seriously think he was an alien? Was his sister, his best friend, scared of him? Did she want to get away from him?
"Anna, what could I be? Really? Do you think I'll hurt you?" He murmured, boring his blue eyes into her hazel ones. He chewed his lip and concentrated on her, plunging deep into her brain.
I know he's not my brother, not really, but he's family. I like him more than Benny. He's my best friend, I love him, I love him but what is he? What could he do? I'll never have a private thought again. I don't want him knowing everything. It's scary. He's scaring me. Why? What could he do? He looks like Cas, he sounds like Cas, but Cas never scared me. Never scared me.
She loved him and she was scared. Castiel sighed and broke the gaze. When he did that, Anna blinked, as if she'd been in some kind of trance.
"What happened?" She asked, sounding confused. "Did you say something? I kind of blanked there for a minute."
He sighed again. "Nothing, Anna. I promise, I won't hurt you. I don't want to know what's in your head. I know that stuff's private. I just wanted to tell someone. I guess I was wrong."
Anna softened. "Cas, I'm sorry. You've never told anyone?"
"No. Not seriously."
"I'm glad you told me then. It's just kind of scary, you know? One minute you're my snot-nosed little stepbrother, the one I'm going to have to drive everywhere when I get my license next month, the next you're telling me you can read my mind. It's just freaky, I guess."
"You'll still have to drive me everywhere." He said, smiling at her.
Anna just laughed, even though she was still tense. "So, out with it, I guess. The whole she-bang. Since you told me that, I'm assuming you want to tell me everything else."
Castiel's heart ached again, in a really good way, when she said that. He never thought he'd be able to tell anyone in his family. After all, he was already so much different than them. He wasn't big and strong like his stepbrother Benny, who was currently playing college football in Nebraska. He wasn't gorgeous and funny like Anna. He'd always been the odd one out, ever since his mother married Steve Milton six years ago. Even before that, he'd felt cold, as if he were on the outside looking in. His mother had never looked at him with tenderness in her eyes and Steve Milton treated him like an annoying pest on his worst days and with a distant fondness on his best days. Instead, he was just Castiel; twitchy and strange, with a large brain that thought too much and the social grace of an elephant. He'd be weird without his freakish traits. With them, he was a mutant. Anna didn't see him that way. His sister loved him and accepted him, no matter what he looked like or what he did. She always had, as soon as he and his mother had joined into the Milton household.
Castiel was grateful. He trusted her with these parts of himself and he knew innately, even though she was scared, that'd she still accept him and treat him like she always had. It didn't matter what he could or couldn't do. It didn't matter that he wasn't a normal human being. He trusted her with his life, so he told her everything.
Castiel hated riding the bus. He hated living out in the middle of nowhere and going to a school in town, a 25 minute drive from his home. Due to the distance, he was on the bus almost two hours a day. Today he was sitting in silence, surreptitiously listening to his Walkman, desperately hoping that the people around him would continue ignoring him. The school bus smelled like a mixture of erasers and cleaning solvent, the kind that was used to clean up vomit. Even worse than the smell were the kids around him, who spent their hour on the school bus screaming at each other, gossiping, and occasionally harassing nerds like him.
A spitball flew over his head and he sunk lower into his seat, trying to make himself as small as possible. The teasing and the bullying weren't merciless as it had been when he was younger. There were others who had it much worse than he did. Castiel felt guilty, but he was thankful for this. He kept to himself and he was the stepbrother of the legendary Benny Milton, and that made him less of a target. These days, they picked on him more for his small size than his love of comics and science. Occasionally they picked on him for his supposed homosexuality, even though Castiel wasn't interested in much of anyone, let alone someone of the same gender.
"Oh, Cassie!" A voice cried. "Watch out, little girl Cassie!"
A hulking 10th grader named Brian Cooper threw more spitballs at him. Brian was big and dumb and he reminded Castiel of a cow. He seemed like someone who would eat a lot of red meat. Every day for the last month, the guy had called him "Cassie" and thrown spitballs at him. He didn't think Brian had anything against him personally, picking on him more out of boredom and convenience since his assigned seat was across from Castiel's. As far as Cas was concerned, it was pretty unoriginal and unintelligent taunting. He hated it though because Anna called him "Cassy" and Brian's cruel taunts sullied the playfulness of the nickname.
Castiel groaned inwardly and tried desperately not to get angry. He was excellent at controlling his temper and hadn't made any glass shatter in six months now. He usually ignored Brian, but today it was wearing on him. He'd received a C on a physics test and a he had a bad headache that had been nagging at him for two days now.
Brian rustled through his backpack and wadded up a piece of paper. He threw it across the aisle and it hit Castiel in the side of the face. He groaned again.
"Brian, are you 12? Spitballs? Throwing things at me? Really? Are you that moronic and unoriginal?" He snapped, turning to face his tormentor.
The 10th grader looked surprised that Castiel had spoken up. Castiel glared at him, shooting daggers his way, almost willing Brian's head to explode. It hadn't happened yet, but hell, maybe it could.
"Cassie, are you developing a set of balls?" Brian asked, smirking.
"Just stop it, okay?" He said desperately. "Benny won't be happy." He added.
Benny was 21 now, possibly about to be drafted into the NFL. Everyone in their small Illinois town knew about it. Castiel rarely played this card, but sometimes it helped that your brother was 6'3" inches of bulk and muscle. Brian might be large, but Benny could flatten him in a second.
"Benny's not here, little Cassie. Are you going to get big sis to defend your precious honor next? If you get her to sit on my face, I'll stop." Brian taunted.
Castiel gritted his teeth. He hated it when people talked about Anna like that. He heard a crackling noise. He looked up and the dim bus lights above his head were flickering. He gulped and breathed in deeply.
Breathe, breathe, this moron isn't worth it.
"Little Cas likes to get it up the ass." Brian sang. "Hey, have you told Benny you're a faggot yet, Cassie?"
"Shut up." He groaned.
"Cas likes it up the ass, everyone!" He yelled out, hoping the three other people on the bus would think it was genius.
"Sit down and shut up!" The bus driver cried from the front.
"Hey Cassie, have you ever seen Anna's tits before? Mind taking a picture for me?" Brian asked. He put a piece of paper in his mouth and chewed it up and then spit it across the aisle.
The spit ball hit him on the side of the face and that made him lose it. He spun to face Brian, moving to the edge of the seat. The lights above him flickered rapidly.
"Shut the fuck up, you goddamn Neanderthal!" He hissed again, his voice low and angry. He locked eyes with the bully and squinted, seriously willing the guy's mouth closed.
Brian started to respond, but then his gaze caught Castiel's. Brian's eyes widened. "Your eyes…" he started, his voice shaking.
It didn't matter. Castiel was gone.
"Don't you ever fucking say anything about my sister again. Don't talk to me!"
The lights above Castiel's head exploded and the window next to Brian's seat shattered, sending tiny shards of glass flying at Castiel's tormentor, spraying his eyes and the bare skin on his face and neck. Castiel moved quickly, pulling himself into a tiny ball to avoid the glass. Brian screamed in agony as the glass cut into his skin.
The bus driver yelled something that Castiel couldn't understand and pulled the bus to a screeching halt. For a few minutes, it was chaos. People thought they heard gun shots and that Brian was dead. Castiel just sat there, numb, watching as the bus driver called 911. Brian was groaning and crying. The cuts didn't look too deep, but glass had flown into his eye and the effect was frightening. It looked like his bully was crying blood.
The bus driver hurried the remaining students off the bus and they were told to wait on the side of the road and wait for the police to show. The ambulance arrived first and Castiel watched in a detached way as they lifted Brian off the bus on a stretcher. He didn't think Brian needed a stretcher, but the 10th grader had been reduced to a crying, flailing mess. Castiel dug into his brain as he passed by, trying to get a sense of what the bully thought had happened to him. His head hurt, but he had to know what the boy thought, in case he'd do something crazy like try to "out" Castiel, even though no one would ever believe him.
My eyes, my eyes, I can't see! I can't fucking see right! It's all blurry! Did he blind me? Ouch ouch, I want my mom! My eyes! Oh God, it hurts. My eyes. What did he do to me? What was wrong with his eyes? I can't see! I want my mom. It hurts so bad! Oh God, I hurt. His fucking eyes, was that what did it? How did he do it? I want my mom.
Brian's thoughts were a tangle of pain and fear. He wanted his mother. Castiel suddenly felt very sorry for him. Brian was a moron, but he didn't deserve this. Now he was injured, possibly semi-blinded, just because Castiel couldn't control his temper.
Suddenly his stomach lurched and he walked up the side of the country road, needing to get away from Brian and all of the action around the bus. He was overwhelmed by nausea. He bent over and hurled onto the grass. His head was suddenly throbbing, temples pulsating with pain. It was the worst pain he'd ever felt and he sure he was having a brain aneurysm He heard a high pitching ringing noise in his left ear and his vision blurred. He blinked rapidly, trying to refocus and suddenly the sky was upside down, rising up to meet him, everything went grey, and he passed out.
He woke up in his own bed in a darkened room. Anna was sitting in a chair next to the bed, reading with a small flash light.
"Anna? What happened?" He groaned.
Anna gasped a little and set down the book on his bedside table. "There was… an accident on the bus and one of the kids got hurt. You saw the blood and passed out. That's what they told us anyway."
"Brian Cooper. The glass broke. Oh God, I hate this. My head, it's throbbing. It hurts. I can't believe I did that. How badly is he hurt, Anna?" He whispered, a few involuntary tears escaping his eyes.
"Did you hit your head?" She asked, sounding worried. "They saw you go down and said you didn't. The EMT checked you out and said it was fine, that you just fainted."
"It just hurts. I don't know. I get them all of the time now." He whimpered. "I did this. I hurt him and I'm being punished."
"You didn't do it on purpose." She murmured. She reached over and took his hand. "Cas, when you told me about what you could do all those months ago, I was scared. I didn't know people like you existed. I know you though and I know you didn't ask for this. You're also my best friend, my favorite brother and I know you'd never hurt anyone on purpose."
Castiel just nodded a little bit. Anna went into the kitchen and got him an ice pack. No one else came to see how he was doing, including his mother, who was acting like the entire incident was his fault.
Maybe it was he fault. Maybe he had done it on purpose.
Castiel thought about how he'd stared at Brian, taking in his gaze, directing all of his anger and his energy at the bully. No one else had seen it, but even though Castiel hadn't been trying to make the glass shatter, it had. Not only that, it had flown at Brian like it had a mind of its own. Castiel, even though it was just for a second, wanted to hurt the bully. He really had wanted to hurt him. In the darkest corner of his mind, he had to admit that he had liked it, just a little bit.