01 – Heaven [sort of a sequel to this]
[music - Flightless Bird]
“Wait for me, okay?”
Those were the last words he heard from Dean Winchester as he embraced the darkness, letting it swallow him, peaceful at last. His life and death would mean something, the foul beasts put back in their place, his patchwork soul granting him eternity. He didn’t deserve any of it. But it was his.
It felt strange to walk into the Roadhouse. Castiel knew this place, though he’d never been. He’d felt it in the air around Ellen and Jo, thick in the car as they rode to their deaths in Carthage. It smelled faintly of burgers and ale, but mostly of dust and old wood. The floorboard squeaked under his shoe, his shoe, not his vessel’s.
“Well, I’ll be damned.”
Ellen peaked out from behind the bar, a half dry pint glass in her hand. At her words, Jo rounded the corner, her young eyes wide and sweet. At a table in the corner, Ash and Pamela sat with cans of beer around them. It all looked very real, very tangible.
Jo’s arms were around his neck, bowing his spine down to her height. “We heard what happened. Guess you’re one of us now, huh?”
It took Castiel’s mind a moment to catch up, distracted by the smile in her voice. “Yes,” he answered sadly. “I am… how did you know?”
“Word travels fast ‘round here,” Ellen’s voice came from his left, just before he was embraced again. “Missed you, Feathers.”
Cas leaned into her hair. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.” It was barely a whisper.
Ellen smiled, guiding him to the bar with a hand at his back. “We know you tried. Come on, have a drink. Tell us what you’ve been doin’ down on Earth.”
So Castiel did, but only after receiving a black eye from Pamela (“Payback,” she’d said, and he’d admitted deserving it, but she still helped him up afterwards and gave him a bag of ice). He told them stories of the apocalypse, of battles and losses. He spoke of drinking, of eating and feeling for the first time. He smiled and told stories of Sam and Dean, of dying, of saving them.
He had so many stories of Dean, so he told them. Dean helping him through being human, Dean teaching him about classic rock, Dean scolding him for not letting him sleep enough – or for watching him in his sleep. Castiel went on and on, not noticing the smile tugging at his cheeks every time he spoke his name. Jo and Ellen were exchanging looks as he rattled on, Pamela grinned behind her beer.
His throat felt dry when he stopped. It was a strange sensation.
“Well, Feathers,” Ellen began, amusement in her voice. “I just got one question ‘bout good old Dean.”
Castiel nodded, gulping down the last of his beer.
“At what point did you realize you were in love with him?”
His glass ‘thunked ‘ sharply on the bar. In love. Castiel’s head swam, he felt himself tip forward a bit. All the times he’d saved Dean. Stuck his neck out, gotten himself destroyed. Betrayed, rebelled, stolen, killed, fell.
It hadn’t crossed his mind once.
“Oh, honey,” Ellen said. Jo’s arm circled his shoulders and pulled.
Wait for me. Okay?
“I suppose I would say now,” he answered.