Title: All Souls and Angels
Warning: Assumes knowledge through “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester.”
Word Count: 5000
Disclaimer: Kripke. Not me.
Summary: “Sure all you want is speaking, Castiel?”
Thank you to for beta and epigraph.
My first fic in this fandom. Meep.
God owns the heaven but he craves the earth. Anne Sexton.
*** *** ***
Castiel joined Dean in the hotel room. Dean did not jump or startle: he only glanced at him and nodded in greeting. Castiel nodded back and said, “I knew the body would need food and sleep, but I did not expect the other things.”
“What other things?” Dean was eating. It seemed to Castiel Dean was always eating. Today it was popcorn, and the scent of it made the body’s saliva run.
“Last night I wished to sit in a quiet room, alone. This morning I wanted nothing more than to speak to you.”
“Solitude,” Dean said. “And company. Everybody wants those sometimes. Sammy could probably explain it to you better than I could. Something about psychological needs or something.”
Castiel considered this and Dean ate, watching the inane program on the television. It was meant for children, Castiel thought, puppets teaching each other letters and values like sharing and apologizing, but Dean did not seem deterred by the simple subject matter.
“I have never craved solitude before,” Castiel said at last. “I have never been alone before now.”
Dean looked at him again, chewing. “I’ve noticed angels aren’t big on privacy.”
Castiel shrugged. “We are not.”
Dean smiled—it was the smile Castiel found puzzling, because it seemed to say something other than a smile usually did—shook his head and looked at the television again.
Castiel said, because it seemed Dean did not comprehend, “I always hear the voice of my Father, and the chorus of the other angels. We speak with the speed of thought. Vocal chords and tongues—I’m still unaccustomed to this.”
“And you never have the need to just sit in a quiet room, like you said.”
He considered this, too. The program with the puppets ended and Dean picked up the remote control, flipping aimlessly through the channels. He wiped his hand on the coverlet, getting salt and melted oil on it, glancing sometimes at Castiel.
“You know what I think it is,” Dean said finally. “I think you’re turning more human the more time you spend in that body.”
“I feed the body,” Castiel said. “I let it rest. I wash it and keep it warm. What more does it need?”
“It’s not just the body,” Dean said. “It’s the—the—” He sighed, frustrated. Dean Winchester was a simple man of simple needs and simple thoughts, and Castiel thought this was good. It was easier to understand than Sam’s many layers and hidden thoughts. But Dean was not a man of words, either, and that made comprehension difficult.
“It’s the soul,” Dean said. “Do angels have souls?”
“We are souls,” Castiel said.
“Okay . . . but the way humans are, sometimes we need to be alone but you guys are never alone and don’t notice it, and sometimes we need company and you guys never, like, realize you want it or you don’t, that’s something different in the wiring. Right?”
Castiel blinked at him.
“Okay,” Dean said, sitting up. He rearranged the pillows behind him. “Let me ask you something. That guy, the devout man who let you have his body. Where is he?”
“Here,” Castiel said.
“Sure, his body’s here. But him, his memories and feelings and shit, where are they? Is he no longer in the body? Or is he watching all of this?”
“He is . . . sleeping.” It was the simplest way to explain it. “I have access to his memories. He has not hidden them from me.”
“So you can see that sometimes he wanted things, right?”
“Yes. He had a wife, years ago. She died and he turned to God. He wanted solace and an end to his loneliness.”
Dean waved a hand. “I don’t need to know that. It’s his life. His business. But my point is, he wanted stuff when he was in control, and even though he’s not in control anymore his body probably wants the same stuff.”
“He has no addictions,” Castiel said.
“You can want stuff without being addicted to it. Like you said, sometimes you just want someone to talk to. Why don’t you just zip back to Heaven or whatever? Do that communicating with the speed of thought thing you were talking about.”
“I cannot go back,” Castiel said.
Dean’s face had a look of shock. “Not ever?”
Castiel shrugged. “Not as long as I control this body. The glory of Heaven would consume it.”
“So leave the body. Let him get some sleep while you have a quick trip home.”
“It is not possible. Were I to leave, I wouldn’t be able to return and would have to find another host.”
“Uriel found a host.”
“Uriel has had the same host for millennia.”
“Oh.” Dean frowned. Castiel imitated him, but didn’t like the way it made the face feel and let it go. “So you could stay in that body forever if you wanted to.”
“My energy would sustain the body, if need be.”
“And if need doesn’t be?”
“Then I will give up control. He will resume his life as it was.”
“And he won’t remember anything.”
“No,” Castiel said. “He will remember like a dream.”
“I know that feeling,” Dean muttered.
Castiel shrugged. “I healed you as best I could. What you remember and what you don’t—that is not up to me.”
“It’s okay, Castiel. Really. It’s like you said. It’s like a dream.” He swung his feet back and forth a moment. Dean, Castiel thought, when he was not eating he was moving—and if he was not eating and not moving he was sleeping, with the same hunger.
“Hunger,” Castiel murmured. That was the word. The body hungered for things it knew and Castiel did not know what they were nor what to do with them.
“What’s that?” said Dean. “Are you hungry? Did you want some of the popcorn? I could make another bag.”
“I have eaten,” Castiel said.
“Yeah, but what did you eat? ‘Cause popcorn’s not just about being hungry, you know? It’s about satisfying a craving.”
“A craving,” Castiel said. “Yes. I crave . . . something.”
Dean waited, his eyebrows raised.
Castiel tried to explain. “My host had a wife. As I said, she is dead. Yet he still desires her company. He . . . craves her.”
“Yeah,” Dean said quietly. “That happens a lot when people die. You miss ’em.”
“Not just missing,” Castiel said. “That is a strange word for it. As if the loved one has left an empty place behind, like a stolen artifact.”
“Death does leave an empty place behind,” Dead said and looked at the television again. “You said the guy was lonely.”
“Yes. And he wanted relief. I have tried to give him that, Dean.”
“I’m sure you have, but . . . okay.” He brushed a hand through his hair. Dean liked to prepare for statements he was not sure he should make. Castiel was not sure this was a human trait or merely a Dean trait. He suspected it was the latter. “The thing is, when you say he was missing his wife, it isn’t just about, like, wishing she’d be in the same room with him. People need . . . people. To talk to and touch and—and breathe with. You know?”
“No,” said Castiel.
Dean sighed and tried again. “He loved her. You know what that means, right?”
“But the way a husband loves a wife, that’s not the same way angels love God. At least, how I understand angels love God. It’s not all praise and hallelujahs.”
“We also do His will,” Castiel said. “As a wife submits to a husband.”
Again there was that strange half-smile. “I don’t know a single wife who submits to her husband, Castiel. Most wives I know, they’re the ones in charge.”
“A good husband should not ask too much from his wife,” Castiel said doubtfully.
“Nope, he shouldn’t. Don’t angels get married?”
“And you don’t—” He made a vague gesture in the air as if brushing away a fly. Castiel suspected he did not want to say the word ‘fuck’ in front of an angel.
He said, “We commune with each other sometimes on a deeper level. It is not like the physical act of copulation as you understand it.”
“I bet it isn’t.”
“Though I suspect the effect is the same. A richer bond with each other.” He pondered, watching the television. More puppets. Why did Dean like puppets so much?
“If your host misses his wife he probably misses the sex.” Castiel looked at him. Dean grinned and shrugged. “Think about it. He was married probably for a long time. You get used to having someone around, you know? Being with them, touching them . . . they say the more you have sex with someone the more you want to.”
“I would not have sex for the sake of merely ending the craving,” Castiel said.
Dean sighed. “You’d be terrible at picking up girls anyway. You’re so—” Another gesture, this one toward Castiel, as if he were writing an ellipses in the air.
“Am I unattractive?”
“Not what I’m saying at all. Just, you hold yourself weird. Look at people too long. I dunno. I can tell you’re not human, but I knew it already so I don’t think that counts.”
“I did not know I look at people too long.” He looked away from Dean deliberately. It was hard not to look at him, though. Even with his host’s human eyes, he could see the shining light that was Dean, the brightness and warmth that said ‘here is a good man.’
He wished he saw it when he looked at Sam. It made him fear for Sam, that he did not.
“You stare. I guess it’s because you’re just not used to blinking.”
Castiel blinked, and blinked again. “Sometimes I forget.” He added, after a moment’s thought, “Also, there is . . . so much to see. You are all so beautiful.”
Dean laughed. “Aw, thanks, man, but I wouldn’t say that to strangers on the street. They might misunderstand.”
“No, no,” Castiel said. “It is not because you are attractive.” Uriel did not see it, but Uriel had spent his many centuries seeing the worst of humanity. He was too well acquainted with their ugly sides. It made him forget what was beautiful about these fragile children, these amazing, strong, stubborn beasts. “It is . . . you are so bright. So many of you.”
“Oh,” said Dean, and his brows and forehead furrowed. Confusion. Castiel sighed.
“I will show you, if you like.”
“Um, okay. Sure.” Still confused and now also uncertain, but Dean trusted him, ultimately. Castiel knew this. It pleased him.
*** *** ***
He took Dean to the nearest public park, where several children were playing in the bright sunshine. Their parents watched from benches or pushed their children on swings, or sat on blankets on the grass.
“Every one of them,” Castiel said, pointing to the children, “are pure. They shine like stars on a dark night. Some of their parents are just as bright: they’re so full of love and hope they can’t help but shine.”
“And the ones who aren’t?”
Castiel shrugged. “Some worry. Some are sad. Some are . . .” He studied one man in particular. “Planning to leave.”
Dean frowned, looking at the man too. “Then you have to stop him.”
“Because—because—kids need their fathers. Or mothers. You can’t let a guy just abandon his family.”
“Why?” Castiel said again.
“Because it’s not right.”
“You don’t know that,” Castiel said.
“Okay,” Dean admitted, “but you do. Right? You know if the guy’s a good dad or not and how miserable his family would be without him if he just up and left.”
“Yes,” Castiel said. “I do know. You are assuming his family would be miserable. Sometimes it is better to leave a mistake rather than perpetuate it.”
“I can’t believe you’re saying that.”
“Why can’t you believe it?”
“I—” A frustrated sigh. Castiel waited. “Because angels should want people to do the right thing.”
“We do,” Castiel said. “Who is to say the right thing is always the obvious thing? Perhaps that man leaves his family today. Perhaps his wife finds a better husband, who cherishes the children and adores her. Perhaps this man finds something else he can put his heart into, something else he can value. Is that better than staying where everyone is unhappy?”
“Trick question,” said Dean.
“It is no trick,” said Castiel. “Humanity is complicated. This is easy to forget when you’re only watching. Easier to see when you’re in the thick of it.” He looked at the man’s daughter, who would, Castiel knew, be better off with another father, and said, “He does not crave his wife the way my host craves his. I suppose that is how I know what the right thing is.”
“Fuckin’ weird,” Dean muttered, then added, “Sorry.”
“I do not care if you curse or not,” Castiel said.
“Oh. Okay.” Dean watched the man for a moment more and then turned away. “We can’t save all the world in one fell swoop. I know that for certain.”
“That is true,” Castiel said.
“Is it worth it, doing it one person at a time? I can’t convince that guy to stay with his family or be a better husband and father, so what’s the point of me being here?”
“I did not bring you here to see him,” Castiel said. “I brought you here to see the others.” He pondered. “You know music.”
“Yeah, more or less.”
“One note on its own is only one note. Two notes together, that is beauty. So you see the brightness of the children and the darkness of that sad man, and perhaps you see how one makes the other stronger.” He pondered again. “You could not be happy if you had never been sad.”
“I’d rather never have been sad.”
“Really?” He studied Dean.
“Really.” He sat hunched, his elbows on his knees. “Pain’s . . . pain sucks, Castiel.”
Castiel shook his head. “Pain ends, Dean.”
“Until you go to Hell, and then it carries on forever.”
There was something of despair in his voice. Castiel didn’t like it. He hesitated and then put the hand on Dean’s back. “You are a good man,” he said and hoped it was comforting. “You are a very good man.”
Dean sat quietly for a moment or two. Castiel thought maybe he was too surprised to move. Then Dean straightened up and Castiel had to remove the hand. “I’m hungry. Are you hungry? We should get pancakes.”
“I could eat pancakes,” Castiel said.
They walked this time, away from the park to a small diner a few blocks away. It was crowded but cheerful: the waitress called them “darlin'” and “sugar” and was, Castiel could see, taken with Dean’s charm and friendliness.
Castiel let Dean order for them both. Pancakes turned out to be flat and doughy, smelling of butter and covered with fruit, and Dean poured on maple syrup that smelled like a warm fire after walking in the snow.
Castiel poured on the syrup thickly as well, and followed Dean’s example, too, of smearing sausage through it as well so he got the flavors of sweet and savory at once. “This is very good.”
“What have you been eating?” Dean said, his words a bit muffled with food.
“Very little. Bread and butter, apples.”
“Bread and butter,” Dean repeated. “Apples.” He shook his head. “You don’t know anything about enjoying the simple things.”
“I do not have time for enjoyment.”
“Are you enjoying yourself now?”
“Yes,” Castiel admitted. “I like pancakes.”
Dean smiled at this, one of the smiles Castiel liked, one that showed his teeth and wrinkled the corners of his eyes. He drank down his coffee and said, “I hoped you’d like pancakes. I think you need more stuff like this. I think you need to have actual fun sometimes. Your host probably craves that as much as anything else.”
“Then I will eat more pancakes.”
“Or see a movie,” Dean said. “Or eat candy. Or play pool.”
“You ate all the candy.”
Dean put down his knife and fork and stared at him. “Castiel! You made a joke!”
“Did I?” He smiled carefully. It felt strange on the lips, but good. Mouths are meant to smile, he knew. He supposed he would get used to it, if he remembered.
“You did. I’m proud of you. Anyway,” with his mouth full again of sausages and pancakes, “there’s a little candy left over unless Sammy took it with him.”
“Where is Sam?” Castiel said quietly.
Dean shrugged. “Said it was a research day so I dropped him off at the county library.”
“Do you believe he is still there?”
Dean stopped eating. The look he gave Castiel was very stern. “Yes.”
Castiel nodded and ate some more himself. He did not believe it, but he did not want to argue with Dean today.
*** *** ***
Dean did not seem to want to talk as they walked back to the hotel as the sun was going down. He walked with his head down and his hands in his back pockets. Castiel watched the houses they passed, the people who passed them, trying to remember not to look too long. Children smiled at him, and sometimes their parents did too. He thought he must be doing something right.
Dean unlocked the hotel room door and paused, looking at him. “So . . . did you want to see a movie?”
“I think I will be all right without that. Perhaps the next time I decide to indulge my host.”
“Cool. Okay.” He still hesitated, playing the keys in his fingers. “‘Cause I don’t know when Sammy will call me to come get him, and if you wanted to do anything more tonight—” He stopped talking and looked confused.
“I don’t think I could eat any more today,”
“I mean. Unless you want solitude.”
Castiel tilted the head.
“I mean, you could stay for a while. Unless you want solitude. Just when Sam comes back you probably won’t want to hang around.”
“I suppose I would not. I do not know what you think we would do if I should stay.”
Dean answered by pushing open the door and holding it open for Castiel to walk through. Castiel followed him and sat on the bed again as he had been sitting before, and watched Dean as he took off his denim jacket and pulled off his worn boots.
Dean lay on the bed again and sniffed the sheets. “Smells like popcorn.”
“We were not gone long enough for the staff to clean.”
“I know. As good as popcorn is when you’re eating it, the smell afterwards is kinda stale.” He folded his arms behind his head. “Tell me what else the body craves, Castiel.”
“I do not know,” Castiel said. “I feel . . . contented.” He leaned back against the wall behind the bed, the hands folded together.
“So all you needed was a walk and pancakes?”
“Perhaps. And speaking with you. But that is for me. The body doesn’t care, one way or the other.”
“Yeah.” Dean rolled onto his side and propped his head on his arm. By mortal standards, Castiel knew, Dean was reckoned a handsome man, but Castiel rarely thought of this except when they were close and he was exposed to the full force of Dean’s charisma. People wouldn’t trust them so easily, Castiel knew, if the Winchesters did not look so open and sweet.
He touched Dean’s hair. It was soft against the fingers.
He was not immune to Dean, himself.
“Sure all you want is speaking, Castiel?” Dean said softly.
Castiel withdrew the hand. “I am sorry. That was inappropriate.”
“Don’t do that,” said Dean. “Don’t back off. You want to stay, I want you to stay, so let’s do something about it. We both need the same thing.”
“I don’t need to eat,” said Castiel.
“Damn it, I’m not talking about that. Let me—” He sighed, frustrated. “Come here. Humans need touch, Castiel. That’s what your host is craving. He misses his wife, but she’s not here so you’ll just have to make do with me.”
“It is inappropriate,” Castiel said again, but when Dean curled against him, his head on the chest like a child frightened in the night, Castiel put the body’s arm around him and stroked his hair.
Dean was right: it was what the body was craving. Castiel could feel the body relax, turning inwardly to the source of warmth. Dean, Castiel thought, Dean, Dean . . . and thought there might have been the smallest answering brush against his mind.
“Tell me more about this communing,” Dean whispered.
“It is profound,” said Castiel. “It is as if the two of you exist in a single breath.”
“Like sex,” said Dean. “Like the best sex you’ve ever had.”
“I would not know,” said Castiel but his host had the memories, he could feel them, moments of profound connection and overwhelming love, and Castiel felt a prickle in the eyes before a hot tear or two escaped. He wiped them with the back of the hand.
“Castiel,” Dean said and moved up, moved closer, and Castiel had not thought men’s lips could be so soft. He pushed forward to meet the press of Dean’s lips, surprised at how the hunger in the body clamored for this, and when Dean held the face and kissed the mouth deeper Castiel did the same, pleased by the feel of Dean’s stubble under the fingertips, of his warm skin.
He helped Dean unbutton and remove the flannel shirt Dean wore and the cotton one belonging to his host, followed by tie and jacket and trousers. The response of the body to Dean’s hands fascinated Castiel: he wanted to savor how the heart beat so quick and how the skin flushed warm and pink. He supposed the eyes were also dark and wide like Dean’s, and that the lips were also soft and a little swollen like Dean’s.
The body knew what to do, which Castiel supposed was instinct, the mouth knew to open wider and the tongue knew to slowly stroke, and the hands knew to hold Dean’s face and slide slowly down his body, feeling heartbeat and perspiration and his quickening, deepening breaths. The fingertips traced the burn scars on Dean’s shoulder, his erect and pebbly nipples, his flat and trembling belly, the protective tattoo on his chest.
Dean knelt over him, straddling the body’s legs, holding the face and kissing the mouth, and his head dropped to rest on the body’s shoulder as Castiel touched him. Castiel caught a glimpse of them in the mirror opposite the bed: Dean’s back looked sleek as a stallion’s, glistening like rain in lamplight, and the host’s face was open with pleasure.
He closed the eyes as Dean kissed the throat. The body shivered as Dean kissed the chest and darted out his tongue to lick the nipples. “Fuckin’ hot for an angel,” Dean muttered, “want you so much,” and Castiel closed his eyes and savored the pleasure of Dean’s mouth on the skin as he felt laughter bubble up inside.
He liked kissing mouths best, he decided: it was so strange and intimate and simple to taste another’s mouth. Dean tasted sweeter than the maple syrup they’d had at the diner, and cool like water, and hot like coffee, and homey like fresh-baked bread.
He put a hand on Dean’s penis, more out of curiosity than desire, and decided what he actually liked best was the way Dean shivered and said, “Ah!” and held him tight with his arms around the body’s neck. The more Castiel stroked him the more Dean trembled, until finally he put his hand on top of Castiel’s and said, “Stop,” so Castiel stopped.
Dean leaned his head on the shoulder and Castiel stroked his back, breathing like he’d been running. Dean whispered, “I don’t know what to do, man, I wanna, I wanna—”
“You want to finish having sex.”
Dean chuckled. “Yeah. Not done it a lot with guys.”
“I’ve not done it at all.” He traced Dean’s hip, the smooth padded muscle that led down to his thigh.
Dean’s breath shuddered as he inhaled. “Should we stop?”
“Perhaps,” Castiel said but kissed Dean instead of letting him pull away.
If Dean needed assurance it was all right to continue, that must have been enough: he shoved both hands into the hair and kissed the mouth, kissed deep and hard and long, and it felt so good Castiel wanted to laugh again. He let it happen, let it spill out like water from a spring, and Dean pulled away to laugh too.
“Better’n being alone,” Dean said.
“So much better.”
They were clumsy with each other but forgiving of it, because it felt good to touch and laugh and kiss. Castiel liked that he could make Dean shudder with just a hand, that Dean could touch him likewise and that the host body would shimmer with lust.
“Are you sure this is okay?” Dean whispered at one point, and Castiel shook the head.
“If it is not, I do not care.”
Castiel tasted Dean’s skin, tasted his belly and thighs, his feet and legs. Tasted his penis as well, held it in the hand and guided it deep into the mouth, until Dean cried out with pleasure and Castiel tasted the very essence of him. When Dean did the same for him Castiel, who knew all words and was made from words and could create and destroy with a word, could find no words to describe the joy that surged through him. It was not only the body: even his angelic self felt the pleasure, the crescendo, the release.
He gasped against Dean’s chest and Dean kissed his face and stroked his cheek. “You’re gorgeous,” Dean whispered. “You are something else.”
“Is that good?”
“It’s so good, man. It’s so good.”
*** *** ***
They lay quietly on the bed for a while. Castiel did not want to stop touching Dean, even if it was just the fingertips rasping through Dean’s hair.
Dean said softly, “Can I ask you something?”
“Yes,” Castiel said. “You may ask me anything.”
Dean was quiet. “What’s it like? Being in Heaven, I mean. What’s it like?”
“It’s like,” Castiel began, but he did not really know what to say because there were no words for it in human language. There was no word beautiful enough or warm enough or sweet enough or bright enough. He put the hand on Dean’s head and said, “I can show you, if you’ll let me.”
Dean nodded, his eyes wide, so Castiel closed his eyes and went . . . in.
Dean’s memories made Castiel ache. So much guilt and pain and disappointment and fear. This was why Sam wanted to meet angels, Castiel thought, he wanted someone to take all this pain away.
He could not, of course, but he could find something to explain it, if he dug deep enough. There had been so much love in their family before it was torn apart by demons and death.
And there it was, deep in Dean’s memories, so far down Dean didn’t even remember it. Castiel brought the memory out carefully, feeling as if he cradled it in his hands, and presented it to Dean.
In this memory, Dean was two years old, and his mother was God and protector and playmate and best friend and best beloved. Oh, he loved his father, he trusted and adored his father, but Mary was the one there every time Dean opened his eyes. And he was warm every day and well-fed, and they played together and sang songs, and she cradled him in her arms and he lay his head on her shoulder and he didn’t know the meaning of fear.
Dean opened his eyes. They were bright with tears.
“That is what it is like,” Castiel said. “It is perfect.”
Dean’s lips turned down and he looked away. “She loved me.”
“I just—it’s easy to forget. You know. That she was a person. That she used to hold me and call me Deaney and that she wasn’t just someone who died. She lived, too.”
“Yes, she did,” Castiel said.
“Thank you for that,” Dean whispered and laid his head on the body’s shoulder.
Castiel felt the mouth smile. He softly kissed Dean’s hair. “Dean,” he said seriously, “this changes nothing. There’s still a war to be fought.”
“But,” Castiel said, “it is good for comrades to comfort each other.”
Dean gave a little laugh and said, “Yeah.” His cell phone began to ring, and they both looked at it. “That’ll be Sam.” Dean reached across Castiel to pluck the phone from his jacket, and he pressed the button to activate it. “Sammy! Are you done for the day?”
Castiel looked at him, and then slowly began to gather his clothes. The body felt good. The body felt relaxed and satisfied, the clamoring hunger silenced.
For now, he thought. It would likely start up again sometime in the future. Hopefully not for many weeks.
“‘Kay,” Dean was saying to Sam. “I’ll be there in about ten minutes. What have I been doing? I’ve been—” He glanced at Castiel, who was nearly done dressing. “I’ve been thinking about stuff. I’ve had a good day. I’ll see you soon, Sammy.” He turned off the phone. “Can I drop you off anywhere?”
“No,” Castiel said and he supposed he was amused. He said, “I will see you soon,” and left.