Castiel sat in a plane beyond this one, watching the destruction of a universe he had helped create. Of the millions of stars his Father had breathed into existence only a handful remained. The rest; scattered to dust and swallowed by an infinite that was slowly running out. The Guardians among his brothers had been called back to heaven. All their mortal charges finally laid to rest. The Arch-Angels had been drawn from the dead and returned to their Father's side. To the discomfort of many of them.
Castiel sighed, his feathers ruffling against his back. It had been a long time since Castiel himself was called from heaven. Called down to planets that had been reduced to empty space, by people that were no longer skeletons. Such fleeting encounters. For an angel. The passing of an era could be akind to the ending of a week. He'd seen the toppling of empires, the duration of wars, birth, death and all their intricacies, he'd sat through so many of what humans called a life time... and yet, so little of it remained with him.
He remembered growing up in heaven, being taught by his brothers and taken on his Father's knee to hear the story of creation. He remembered standing beside Gabriel as The Fish crawled from the ocean, wet sand squishing between his toes, his Father bent to look at it, smiling, already raving about the wondrous things it would do. He even, vaguely, recalled the falling of Lucifer, though he was very young and had been kept from some of his older brothers. So strange then, that he stood now at the passing of all things and thought a time so long ago it had almost gone from the history books. And people so long dead there names would have faded into the whispers of legend. Such small, unimportant beings really. In the grand scheme of a thousand million years, how much do thirty years truly matter? And yet to Castiel they were the most important years of his long existence. How strange now to think that all remnants of them would be gone.
Cas bowed his head, studying his palm. Strong, flat, smooth... Castiel had always thought he had nice hands. Though an angel will suffer no vanity, he saw no harm in a little pride. They were honest, solid, working hands... the sort that mortal men had built the world with. He stretched the fingers, peering through the gaps they made. Thin, narrow gaps, compared to most things, certainly compared to a man. So how had he done it? How had he let them slip through his fingers?
"I need a beer."
"Well, I haven't got any of that, but I have just put the kettle on."
Castiel didn't have to look behind him. He was an angel of the Lord, capable of searching the whole earth in a nano second, and at the moment the earth was very small. So he didn't have to turn his head. But he did so, with respect.
The manic man grinned at him, tucking his thumbs into his lapels, and leaning back against his large/small, blue box.
"Castiel. Nice to see you, of course, rubbish timing. But that is usually how these things go isn't it?"
"It would seem." Castiel agreed. The Doctor offered him a weary grin and came to sit beside him on the edge of existence. He gazed out over the scatterings of dust and crumbling stars and gave a forlorn sigh.
"Never figured I'd get this far." He swung his legs absently, staring down into the void between his knees. "I mean... I died years back. And I suppose technically I have been to the end of the universe before." He nodded. "Not the real end. Obviously. But the end of humanity, which to some people means the same thing...mostly humans...some dogs." His mouth was a grim line and though his eyes still shone with enthusiasm, it was a fake light, and in the darkness that surrounded them it lit upon very little.
Castiel said nothing, still rifling through his old thoughts. And for a while there was silence. A silence that had never been heard before by mortal ears. The silence of the end, so usually filled with cascading music, like the credits rolling on reality without a symphony to carry it out. And the two men sat and listened. Each filled with the grief of a thousand lives, the laughter of dead generations and the music of forgotten ages; that even in the silence they imagined the noise, even at the end they dared to hope... far flung, impossible hopes too late to exist but just as strong in doing so.
"What now?" The Doctor asked the angel with a cunning gleam in his eyes. "No little mortals to shelter under your wings, Dad back home, brothers all tucked up in bed...what happens to you Cas?"
"I don't know." The angel answered honestly, never moving his eyes from an invisible horizon.
"Well, if you ask me. Now is the time to set it all straight." He gave a derisive nod and Castiel turned to blink at him.
"Set what straight?"
"Everything! All the little things that never made sense, all the chances you didn't take, all the dreams you left behind because reality was too big! Everything you've ever wanted to do but never had the time..." The Doctor's grin was mischivious, the Tardis' answering thrum doubly so.
"Time is irrelevant Doctor-"
"I've always thought so."
"It ceased to exist the moment humanity stopped counting."
"Well then! Perfect time for it! And you're in luck, all my brilliantly sealed cracks have sprung leaks! This dimension is collapsing, which means its breaking, which means know one will mind if we break it a little more and you know what that means?!"
"You're about to find out! Lets go!" Leaping to his feet, the Doctor seized him by the collar of the trenchcoat he never removed. Not exactly keen on being dragged across an imagined plane of existence Castiel twisted to his feet and fell into step with the excited Time Lord.
"Where are we going?"
"Exactly! Where you want to be."
As a being of faith Cas was always faithful and he did not doubt now as the Doctor careened around the console of the time-less time ship, pushing levers and pulling buttons and generally managing all sorts of improbable things.
"Gonna need a bit of extra juice for this bit if you don't mind!" The Doctor called his attention to a keyboard, gesturing expressively.
"How?" Castiel moved to stand beside him.
"Oh I don't know! Faith, trust and pixie dust! Usually works. Just- put a little thought into it, eh?" He grinned and clapped Cas on the back, shaking feathers from his wings.
Castiel stared down at the brightly colored buttons, he had never really grasped technology, not like Sam, with his computer, or Dean with his car, he was certainly more of a magic man. His heart warmed as he thought of the Winchesters and he reached a lazy hand to stoke the keys, fingering one that had a symbol that seemed vaguely familiar, though he couldn't place where he'd seen it. Castiel felt the will of the Tardis gather around his finger, asking, nudging... he wasn't sure what she was looking for but he allowed her to take it and the next thing he knew they were moving.
Other occupants of the Tardis had been bruised and swayed by the voyages of the beloved time ship, but Castiel stood firm, feeling in the movements around him what know one else could, even the Time Lord. He felt the universe move around them, twisting to accommodate the demands of the Time Lord's magnificent vessel. He felt it as they breached the dimension walls, felt the time zones shift as the Tardis oriented herself to a new calender, new history, new reality. All the while the Doctor stood beside him laughing, the laughter of a crying man. The Tardis shuttered to a stop and with her stopped the Doctor's 'mirth', leaving him with nothing but a broken smile to hide his scars. Clearing the path he gestured to the door, leaning back against the console. Castiel studied him, and then the door, but he could find no deception, so he went forward and out onto the street the Doctor offered him.
He stared up at the large white house, golden light dripping from a room on the upper story to gleam across the hood of the sleek black car parked at the curb. Castiel stepped forward to run a hand across the familiar hood, feeling the car's youth tingle against his palm. Barely aware of his actions the angel glided through the front door. The static murmur of a television drew his eyes, and he could make out the silhouette of John Winchester passed out in a chair. He felt the quickening of his own heart and cleared the stairs with a flutter of his wings.
Mary Winchester flicked off the nursery light as she stepped into the hallway, golden hair spilling across her shoulders, she tip-toed across the carpet, stopping to poke her head into a door off the side. Cas could make out a sign by her elbow 'Dean's Room' written across it in a child's scrawl.
"Good night Dean." Mary murmured, and Cas' heart leaped. Was this the night? Had the Doctor truly brought him here? A place he'd been to a thousand times in his nightmares? The one moment in fate, in his Father's plan, that Castiel would have given anything to change? Why? Nothing could be done. He knew that. After millenniums he had even started to accept it. So why? What was the point?
He didn't have the answers. Nobody did. The Doctor shouldn't have brought him here. He should return to the Tardis. Return to his Father like a good son, and forget the Winchesters...
But Castiel would never forget. And if he was going to remember, why not add a few more memories? So Castiel crossed the hall as Mary entered her room. He passed through the door. Crossed to the window and stared at the boy tuck soundly in his bed. Dean Winchester lay beneath a blanket adorn in a colorful pattern of superheroes, Batman squashed beneath his head, and though his breathing was shallow and easy he was not asleep. He was staring at his closet door, which yawned open to spill the blood of nightmares across his rug. Castiel acted without thought, his only desire to save the little boy he would know from one more night of fear. The closet slammed shut, Dean jumped and Castiel stepped from the darkness.
Dean's eyes were wide and innocent as he stared at the angel, an expression Castiel had never seen on the older Winchester.
"Who are you?" his voice was a whisper, but his eyes drifted to the door.
"My name is Castiel, and I am an angel of the Lord."
A guilty look flushed across his face and he dropped his head bashfully. This certainly wasn't something Castiel was used to seeing from the grizzled hunter.
"Yournothereaboutthecookiesareyou?" Dean mumbled so quickly and quietly anything but an angel wouldn't have heard.
"Uh...no." Castiel frowned at him.
Dean didn't notice, it seemed with the issue of his guilt aside natural curiosity took over.
"Oh. What are you here for then? Is it Dad? He didn't mean too, honest, he was drunk, I mean- not bad drunk just- ya know, he just drinks sometimes when he gets upset and-"
"I'm not here about your father." Castiel cut the boy off, his chest tightening and divine rage piling up against his ribs.
"Your not here to take mom away are you? Please don't! I can go instead! I mean- I'm not as good like she is. But Sammy just got her! And I promised dad I'd take care of 'um and-"
"I'm not here about your mother either Dean. I'm here about you."
For an instant fear welled up in the young boys face, but just as quickly it was gone and he regarded Castiel with determination.
"Okay." He slid from the bed, standing like a soldier at attention, then he seemed to crumple. "If your here does that mean I get to go to heaven? Cause I know I haven't been as good as some people else, but I been tryin' real hard!"
"I am not going to take you anywhere. Your staying here."
"Oh...well then...what'd ya want?" He ran a hand across his nose, perching up on his bed.
"I..." What did he want? He couldn't change anything. Couldn't warn anyone. Why was he here? "I came to check on you." He forced himself not to try and elaborate, he was already a dreadful liar.
"Are you my guardian angel?" Dean peered at him from beneath a curtain of bangs.
"I- no. Not-exactly." he fidgeted uncomfortably.
"Are you Sammy's guardian angel?"
"I- it's complicated." Castiel sighed. "I just wanted to make sure you were alright." As close to the truth as he could get.
"I'm okay." Dean watched him expectantly. Castiel stared back, before nodding stiffly and glancing around awkwardly.
"I-good. That's-" He took a step for the door. "I should go."
Unthinkingly, unwaveringly, he turned back.
"You gotta help me go back to sleep."
"Oh-a-kay." Castiel grimaced, edging hesitantly back into the room. Dean waited un-moving. "How do I-" He gestured, grimacing harder.
"My mom sings to me."
Castiel's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"But my dad reads me a book." He dug into the space between his bed and the wall, coming up with a thin hard cover book. Castiel took it hesitantly.
"Er-okay." he flicked it open.
"You gotta sit down so I can see." He gestured to a chair beside his bed. Castiel stared. It was a very small chair, obviously meant for a person of Dean's current size. Castiel looked between the hunter's expectant face and the small chair. Sighing, he relinquished what little dignity he had, and sat.
"Horton Hears A Who." Castiel read the title and turned to Dean. Dean had tucked himself back beneath his blanket and was already blinking sleepily. Castiel cast one last glance at the door, every warning in his body going off, and read the kid a bedtime story.
By the last page Dean was snoring, and Castiel's nerves were shot like a beer can. He knew it was tonight. His instinct was never wrong. Anytime not the nursery would go up in flames. And Dean would be left to wonder why the angel didn't save his mother. Never mind that he couldn't. All that would matter was that he hadn't. Easing himself from the confines of the tiny chair Cas gave a last look at Dean's slumbering form and darted to the hallway.
The clock against the wall seemed to tick ominously and Castiel glanced at it with a heavy heart. If he was right about the date, and he knew he was, even without consulting the calender in Dean's room, then in only moments Mary would be screaming from the ceiling, John would be rushing up the stairs, and Dean's whole world would burn down.
Forgetting in his panic that he was a creature of divinity capable immediate teleportation, Castiel froze, panic flooding through him. The clock ticked loudly in his ears, history flashed before his eyes and- nothing happened. The time passed with him rooted to the spot. He stood there for hours, until John blundered up the steps and fell into bed beside his wife, until in the nursery Sam started to cry, until Dean poked his head out of his bedroom and looked straight through him. Only then did the angel find his limbs. He moved in slow motion down the steps, stopping to stare at the empty room where John Winchester had rested the night before on what should have been the worst night of his life. He descended the porch, watched the cars filter through the street, started at the birds singing in the trees and finally he picked the paper from the sidewalk and stared at the date.
It was last night. It was definitely last night. So why... A creak drew his gaze. The Doctor regarded him across the street, leaning in the doorway of his police box, smirking and looking entirely too pleased.
Castiel crossed to him slowly, allowing cars to drive through his mid-section.
"I don't understand." Castiel admitted at last, when the Doctor stood just in front of him. The Doctor grinned at his confusion, throwing back his head to let out a baffling, and loud, heartfelt laugh.
"Alternate Universe!" He threw his hands up in celebration, grinning and twirling on the spot. "The same universe we just came from, but with one small change! Can you guess what it is?" He beamed, rocking on his soles.
"No yellow eyed demon."
"No yellow eyed demon! Not in this universe!"
"But then- Sam, Dean-"
"Will have perfectly, normal, ordinary lives. Kinda boring, Both get married. Have kids. Sam gets a quartet of boys. Dean a lovely pair of girls. John cleans up, hits some AM classes, Mary lives to a ripe old age and teaches her granddaughters the secret to perfect apple pie."
"Never happened. Not here. No yellow eyed demon, no Lucifer, no Micheal, no cage!"
Castiel sat in silence, absorbing this. No demons, no apocalypse, no death...
The Doctor's face soured.
"Ah.. yes. No angels. That is...true..."
"I can't stay."
"What? Course you can! You've finished up over there!" He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "Did your duty, no one's gonna mind if you kip off to another reality for a century or two. Won't even notice you're gone." He beamed.
"This isn't where I was meant to be."
The smile on the Doctor's face fractured and he sighed.
"No it isn't." Turning from the angel he began inputting coordinates into the Tardis, running a loving hand across her console as he worked.
"Why did you do this for me?"
For a moment there was no answer, and then the Doctor smiled softly.
"Because... Because I figured between the pair of us we'd done enough for the universe to earn some kind of reward. Because I wanted someone to have a happily ever after." He turned to Castiel and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Because you deserve it mate. If there's anyone who does, it's you."
Castiel contemplated the Time Lord's hand on his shoulder before turning to the man himself.
"Humans think of time as too linear. You think of death as too final. Just because you were parted in this life, does not mean you will be parted in the next. Have faith. You will get your happily ever after. It might just come...after."
The two men shared a smile as the Tardis re-entered her original universe, and Castiel disappeared with a flutter of wings, returning to heaven, while the Time Lord returned to the past, both disappearing like the universe.
Castiel blinked in the sunlight, turning his head to study the field laid out before him. The dark shape of a car marred the horizon line, while a group of shadows moved toward him. And at the for front, running like the hounds of hell were at his heels...
In the next instant he was enveloped in bodies. Bobby, Ellen, Joe, Sam, Dean... they all piled on top of him, laughing and hooting and pawing at his hair.
"I don't understand. What's going on?"
Dean grinned and through an arm around his shoulders.
"What'd ya mean? Dude! You're in heaven!"
Okay...phew. Wrote this at 2 am. Sorry for any typos, my tired brain caught none but, meh.
I do not own SPN or any of the Characters, nor do I own Doctor Who or any of anything, I own nothing. Really.
As usual any feed back would be appreciated muchly, thank you, hope you enjoy!