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Title: The Heavy Burden of a Bad Idea
Author: [personal profile] bunnymaccool
Rating: R- for language (heavy use of the f-bomb)
Warnings: Post season 7 AU, so assumptions made on the end of the season, and kind of ignoring the end of 7x10.
Spoilers: Up through 7x10 'Death's Door'
Word Count: 3121
Summary: It didn’t take very long at all to realize that he was no longer an angel. He was just a man. Powerless and frail. And burdened down with so many poor decisions. Dean had said that they had been family once. He had said that he loved him as a brother. He had begged him to reconsider and trust him. He had also looked upon him with wounded and devastated eyes that bespoke of unimagined betrayal. Would Dean even want to help him? Would he even want to see him?

Author notes: Written for the [profile] deancas_xmas Secret Santa challenge. Gift recipient was [profile] timey_wimey_kid, who gave an awesome prompt. I really enjoyed writing from this prompt, because this is very much how I would LOVE for season 7 to end. *crosses fingers* Also, holy-crap-last-minute-beta job done by ... my Mom. XD (Who thinks Misha Collins is hot potatoes.)


He was cold and wet. Or more precisely, it appeared that he was actually submerged in deep water that was frigidly icy. A burning pain was tearing at his chest. It took several moments of confusion for him to realize it was the need to breathe. With a burst of panicked strength he kicked with all his might until he finally broke the surface and gasped in a lungful of air.

Hacking and coughing made his throat burn. It was a new, unfamiliar sensation. Finally, he calmed his body enough to take in his surroundings. It was inky black all around, the sky just as dark as the water he floated in. Only a sliver of moon was hanging above him and it barely lit the tops of the trees he could make out in the distance.

Kicking legs weak with a stunning exhaustion, progress to the shore was slow. All along the way he had attempted to fly to the barely visible land ahead, but there was an uncomfortable lightness on his back where his wings usually weighed him down. It didn’t take very long at all to realize that he was no longer an angel.

He was just a man.

Powerless and frail.

And burdened down with so many poor decisions.


*~*~*


Dean tossed the knife across the room for the hundredth time that night just to hear the satisfying ‘thunk’ as it sunk deep into the scared wood of the shell that remained of Bobby’s house. Now that they didn’t have to hide anymore, it wasn’t really a surprise they had migrated back to Singer Salvage. It had been base camp and home to the three of them for so long, it just wasn’t conceivable that they wouldn’t rebuild.

Bobby was off visiting Sheriff Mills and working up a plan of attack on the demolition of the burnt remnants of the house. Sammy was tucked away with his computer in the broken down camper a friend of Bobby’s had lent them. It was cramped and smelled like old grease and beer farts, but they were here … and that’s all that mattered.

Pulling himself out of the old lawn chair he’d found, Dean trekked across the husk of Bobby’s living room to collect his throwing knives from the beam he’d been targeting. Plopping back down into the creaking plastic, he began the process all over again.

*Thunk*
*Thunk*
*Thunk*

“Son of a bitch!”

**THUNK**

The thing was … he was pissed off. He was really pissed off. After all they’d done, after all they’d sacrificed to save the world AGAIN from the fucking Leviathans… there was one thing he’d always held on to. To keep him going day after day. Fighting these ridiculous monsters that were older than men. One damn thing he’d tenaciously held onto hope for.

He always figured … when all was said and done… Dean had always assumed … that somehow they’d get Cas back.

*Thunk*

And they hadn’t.

*Thunk*

And it was still a raw fucking wound in his chest whenever he opened the trunk of the Impala and saw that damn trench coat folded carefully and waiting for its master to return.

*Thunk*


*~*~*


It seemed a silly thing to say that he missed his jacket. It was an object with no significance or attachment … but he felt ridiculously naked without it. Also, his new highly destructible body didn’t like the cold very much, and trundling around after midnight in nothing but a wet shirt and pants was very uncomfortable.

So he missed his trench coat … and wondered where it had gone.

He glanced down at his bare feet and found that curious, too. Well, it was all disarmingly out of balance. The last thing he remembered was trying to shove Dean and Bobby out the door as the monsters inside his vessel raged for freedom.

Not his vessel now, he supposed … his body. Poor James Novak was long gone. Hopefully before the other multitudes of vicious creatures had taken residence. Regardless, the body was his now, and he’d grown rather fond of it the last several years.

The only difference being that now, he could feel it in a way he never had before. There was no Grace to separate him from the humanity of James Novak anymore. It was all just flesh and blood and bones. He really rather liked it. Hadn’t thought he would, but it was a grounding experience. It was an open-mouthed taste of the Earth, where before he had only a filtered sense of it through the cover of Heaven.

His stomach gave a horrible clench and it faltered his steps. He was hungry. He knew it from a sense memory of all those cheeseburgers he’d digested however long ago that was. It felt like decades. This hunger was that of a human body in desperate need of sustenance, however, and vastly more annoying.

The cloudy memories of his last day as an angel cum godling provided the somewhat terrifying fact that he wasn’t really all that far from the home of Bobby Singer. Terrifying in the face of all that he had done to Singer and the Winchesters the last time he had seen them.

But he had no one else.

Dean had said that they had been family once. He had said that he loved him as a brother. He had begged him to reconsider and trust him. He had also looked upon him with wounded and devastated eyes that bespoke of unimagined betrayal.

Would Dean even want to help him? Would he even want to see him?

And Sam? Sam had stabbed him in the back wielding an angel’s blade with a ruthlessness that illustrated perfectly what the younger Winchester had thought of his betrayal. Sam may consider finishing the job. Or Bobby. He had brought about the death of that female friend of Singer’s after all. There was no guarantee that either of his friends wouldn’t delight in his new human status and torture him to death.

So lost in his own thoughts, he hadn’t even noticed the lights of a building drawing nearer until he actually walked into the vacant parking lot of a store of convenience. Startled by the change, he found himself staring at the discolored metal of a ancient looking pay phone on the marred brick wall of the building.

He knew the number, of course.

He knew the number by heart.

The question was … would he have the courage to dial it?


*~*~*


*Thunk*

Dean paused to take a deep swallow of the tepid beer he’d been nursing the last hour. The need to drink just wasn’t there right now, and wasn’t that just the kicker? First time in ages he wasn’t consumed with the desire to knock back half of a liquor store.

‘I found a liquor store. I drank it.’

*Thunk*

He snorted under his breath. Damn, Cas … when had everything changed? When did it seem like the better idea to go to Crowley of all people, rather than Dean? Or Bobby? Or any-damn-body else? He took another long pull of beer and considered where it had all gone wrong. Maybe it was that fucking year that Dean had thought Sam was down in the hole getting flayed alive by Lucifer.

Maybe he should have reached out to Castiel and checked in on him. Brought him around for drinks and cheeseburgers. Something. Fuck. Maybe he should have listened when Cas asked Dean to trust in him. Maybe he should have fought harder to get his friend to give up all those souls. Maybe he should have just given the little fucker a hug one of those times he looked like he really needed one.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Dean was sick to shit of fucking maybes.

He just kept thinking about Bobby telling him that he’d lost one of the best friends he’d ever had. He kept thinking about how true that statement actually was, and how he hadn’t even realized it until Castiel was already gone. He thought about Cas hanging out in the back of the Impala sometimes while Dean and Sam would drive and bicker for hours. He thought about the botched attempt to relieve Cas of his virginity and shared laughter in the parking lot after they’d escaped the brothel. He thought about Cas slamming him up against a wall and telling Dean how everything he had done, he had done for Dean.

*Thunk*

Dammit. He just wanted the bastard back.

Dean stilled his hand and looked down at the knife held in his palm. Right before the end, Castiel had promised that he would find a way to redeem himself to Dean. He had been fervently hoping that his friend would have that chance.

Across the scorched floor of the house his cell phone buzzed. He let it go and downed the rest of his beer.

*Thunk*

There was a moment of silent expectation, and then his phone buzzed again.

“Dammit.”

Pulling himself out of the creaking lawn chair, Dean trotted over to where his jacket lay on a partially clean area of destruction and fumbled around the pockets for his phone. Unknown number … but then … not many people left on this planet knew Dean’s digits. He flipped it open in curiosity.

“Hello?”

There was a scratchy distortion of noise from the other end. Whoever was calling, they had a terrible connection. He thought he heard a small gasp of surprise, but nothing followed it.

“Whatever, man. Didn’t want to talk to you eith-”

“Dean?”

His insides froze. He would know that voice anywhere.

“Cas?!?”


*~*~*


When no one had picked up on the first attempt, he’d had a horrible thought of them all being dead. Maybe the Leviathans had won. Maybe that’s how he was to be punished for his actions. Being brought back to Earth with no powers and no family to guide him.

The call disconnected and he stared at the receiver with a sudden fear. Scrabbling around in his pockets found more coins, and who would have known that after all these years of inhabiting this vessel, he’d never realized James Novak’s penchant for loose change.

He dialed again and held his breath.

It connected.

“Hello?”

Sweet Father in Heaven … he knew that voice. A blossom of warmth erupted in his hungry belly and for a moment he couldn’t speak. What if Dean rejected him? What would he do? Where would he go?

“Whatever, man. Didn’t want to talk to you eith-”

“Dean?”

He had a brief second to panic before there was a sharp exhale of surprise in his ear.

“Cas?!?”

Licking his lips, he nodded once, and then remembered he was on the phone.

“Y-yes … Dean … I-”

“GODDAMN!!”

He grimaced at the interruption. Fear clenched tight in his gut.

“Dean-”

“I’LL BE GODDAMNED!!! Where are you? Are you okay?”

A bark of familiar laughter echoed over the phone line, and Castiel nearly wept in relief. Dean didn’t sound angry. Sounded pleased to hear from him. Sounded relieved.

“I am … I am not sure. I was in a lake, and then I was walking towards Bobby’s residence and found this store of convenience… it only says ‘Food Mart’ on the sign … I-”

“I know where you are! Holy shit! Holy shit! CAS! I’ll be right there! Don’t move! Don’t go anywhere!”

The line disconnected again and he simply stared at the silent receiver. His voice was soft and whispered when he spoke into the quiet night air.

“I … don’t have any place else to go.”


*~*~*


Dean whooped and hollered as he took off for the Impala. He had to turn back around to go grab his jacket and the keys, but that was okay. He banged excitedly on the door of the camper as he ran by and it only took a second for Sam to jump out.

“What’s going on?”

Dean laughed and even to himself the sound of it was more carefree than it had been in years. He pumped his fists into the air as he walked backwards toward the car, still facing Sammy and the camper.

Guess who just called me!?”

Sam shrugged his shoulders and eyed his brother like he’d finally gone round the bend. For an answer, Dean strutted around to the trunk of the Impala and opened her up. Grabbing the carefully folded trench coat from the corner, he lifted it up and presented it to Sam.

“Time to return this to its rightful owner.”

His grin was damn near splitting his face in two, and it was quickly mirrored by his brother’s. Sam bubbled out a startled laugh and immediately took off towards the passenger side of the car.

“NO WAY! REALLY?”

Dean cackled and slid into his baby with an excitement he couldn’t remember having in ages. It was about fucking time something went right for them. It was about fucking time they got something they had lost back, instead of it being taken away again and again and again.

He was tired of burying family.

“You bet your ass, Sammy! Let’s go get our wayward angel and bring him home!”


*~*~*


Castiel had moved over near the brightly lit fueling area of the lot and was seated on the raised curb. Besides it’s mutinous growling, his stomach was fluttering with nerves.

Dean was on his way.

Dean was on his way … and that could mean anything.

It could mean that his friend showed up with a weapon to destroy him. It could mean Dean might grab him and lock him away in the safe room. It could mean Dean might step out of his car and grin in his ridiculously arrogant way and be pleased to see Castiel.

He was sincerely hoping for the last one.

Twenty minutes after the phone line had gone dead, he could hear the roar of the Impala closing in on his location. Cautiously, he stood and backed away into the shadows of the store awning. If Dean was here to kill him, it wouldn’t do to give him such an easy target.

The massive black car squealed to a stop on the edge of the road and Castiel swallowed convulsively. Sam was here, too. Sam had tried to kill him not too long ago. He could make out the younger man’s shadow even before the doors of the car flung wide open and the Winchesters stepped out into the evening air.

The hunters were scanning the parking lot with determined gazes, but there didn’t appear to be any weaponry within their grasp. Dean barked out in his most determined voice.

“CAS!?”

Sending up a quick prayer to a Father he was pretty sure wasn’t listening, Castiel cleared his throat and took a single step out of the darkness.

“Here … Dean.”

The Winchesters’ eyes immediately whipped to his hiding place. Everything was so still for a moment, he had no idea what he should do … and then Dean started to stride purposely towards him.

And Castiel’s mouth just started going without his consent.

“I am sorry for calling you so late in the evening. I just did not know where I was, and I was cold and my jacket is missing, and my stomach is growling. Which is a very strange sensation. And I woke up in a lake that I don’t recall going into. And apparently I am being punished for my actions, because I am human now. All my Grace is gone. And I thought you might help me, even though I do not deserve it. But then I thought you may kill me too, but I had no one else to call and so-”

Dean reached him and Castiel began to flinch back from the punch he expected, but was stunned silent when instead he was enveloped in the other man’s arms. Dean wrapped his arms around him and held tight, as if he was afraid Castiel would float away, and Castiel blinked at Sam who was standing a few feet behind.

Sam Winchester’s face had broken into a huge, beautiful smile and Dean was … hugging him.

A strange sensation shuddered through him, and Castiel belatedly realized that he was shaking. His hands trembled as he slowly crept them up Dean’s back to awkwardly return the hug. Without warning, or even a true understanding of the emotions flooding his human body, the dam broke wide open.

Castiel suddenly clenched Dean’s jacket until his knuckles burned white and carelessly jammed his face into the curve of Dean’s shoulder. Violent shivers wracked his entire body as wrecked, weeping sobs burst out of his throat.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

He chanted his request for forgiveness into the warm skin of Dean’s neck. The arms around him only clenched that much tighter and steady hands rubbed soothing circles across his back. Dry lips kissed the side of his head affectionately and he closed his eyes at the absolution freely given therein.

“It’s okay, Cas. It’s okay.”

Castiel felt himself being physically turned and assisted back towards the large car purring into the silent night. Sam’s large hands helped support his movements, while also wiping away his fears of lingering distrust. When he was at last seating wearily in the back of the Impala, he was shocked and pleased to find his jacket waiting for him there. Lifting it to his lap gingerly, he smiled down at its tawny color before raising his eyes to meet Dean’s gaze in the rearview mirror.

His friend cocked a grin at him and clucked his tongue.

“Let’s get you home, Cas.”

And just like that, Castiel knew that no matter what the future may bring, everything was going to be alright. He would have to learn to live with this new body, with this punishment for his actions. But as long as he had the support of his family returned to him … he could do anything. He could make the most of this life.

“Now … who wants some pie?”

And it would never be boring.


*~*~*
The End
*~*~*
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