Title: Holding On
Fandoms: Supernatural/Doctor Who
Spoilers: General for Doctor Who; Season 6 for Supernatural
Disclaimer: I don't own either of them. Written for fun, not profit!
A/N: Inspired by this
image on tumblr.
It is somehow not surprising when Castiel senses the Doctor behind him. He does not turn at first. So many emotions churn within it takes him a moment to separate them. Anger, disappointment, a hint of betrayal, but also relief. Overwhelmingly so.
"Come with me," the Doctor says.
At this, anger wins out and clips his answer.
"It will have to wait."
He has a war to win before he can run off with the Doctor again, no matter how much of a respite it would be.
The Doctor scoffs.
"I've got a time machine? Stopping the apocalypse again can wait a few hours. I've got something to show you."
Castiel finally turns to look at the Doctor. There is a dull ache in his chest. He doesn't quite know what it means, only that the few times he has felt it before have always been around the Winchesters, most often caused by Dean, sometimes Sam.
His voice is low and intense when he asks, "You know about Rapha-"
The Doctor interrupts him.
"Course I do," he smiles, "The circles I've been running around him..."
There is a mischevious glint to his eye that almost covers his sadness and Castiel knows there is more to the story. With the Doctor, there always is. He doesn't ask.
"Can you... "
He trails off, not quite knowing how to let go of the lessening anger and resentment to ask.
The questions he really wants to ask Where have you been? Why are you here
now? Where were you when I needed your help the most?
stick in his throat. They are not fair and he is not certain he wants to know the answer.
The Doctor goes quiet at the almost question, like he knows what Castiel was going to ask, what he wanted
to ask. He probably does. Castiel spares a thought to wonder how many others have asked the same. Asked for something the Doctor is unable, but not unwilling, to give. It does not help the bitterness that rises when the Doctor's face sets into certain lines Castiel knows mean refusal.
"No, not this time. Not that way."
Castiel doesn't answer. He can't or he knows he will say something he regrets.
"But I have something that will help," the Doctor continues softly, "trust me."
The Doctor smiles, his entire soul shining with the sincerity of it. A Time Lord's soul is a strange thing, the Doctor's even more so. It is comforting to see, that despite everything that has happened in the Doctor's life, all the darkness he went through and still does, it can still shine so brightly. Brighter than any sun Castiel has seen.
And because trust has not been an issue between them for many a long millenia, this time Castiel follows the Doctor into the TARDIS.
Her gentle song reaches his mind and something within him uncoils. He lets his emotions be soothed and rests a hand on one of her pillars in greeting. He pretends not to notice the Doctor's small smile and his own furtive pat on the console.
"Where are we headed?"
"Sydney, Australia, 2006!" the Doctor almost shouts, suddenly a whirl of energy and limbs as he pilots the TARDIS.
Castiel simply watches him, used to the display.
"What is so important about that time?"
A vague sense of disgruntlement creeps up on him. The Doctor better not be wasting his time. Though he doubts either of them would agree on what constitutes a waste of time. But he has a war to win.
"Oh, you'll find out right about - now!"
With a triumphant HAH! the Doctor kicks a lever into place and the TARDIS stops shuddering. Grinning widely at Castiel, the Doctor runs towards the door and flings it open.
Castiel follows him at a more sedate pace.
He exits the TARDIS, greeted by a whirlwind of humanity as they go about their daily lives, living them like only mortals could.
He turns a puzzled expression to the Doctor. The Doctor is looking away into the crowded shopping center, practically vibrating in excitement.
Castiel doesn't understand.
"Come on," the Doctor pulls him along to where a man is standing and holding a sign. The man is turned in such a way that Castiel cannot read it at first.
The Doctor lets go of him and bounds forward. He exchanges a few words with the man and laughs before the two hug.
Before they both let go, Castiel glimpses the sign the man is holding. Written in bold, dark letters on the sign is FREE HUGS
He is still puzzling out this strange new twist when the Doctor appears next to him and gives him a small shove at the man.
The stranger gives him a hug as well. Castiel stands there awkwardly for a moment, but hugs the man back. He closes his eyes, just feeling
. This man's soul is good, bright with happiness and a desire to help others. Not counting the Winchesters and those that fought with them, it is something he has felt precious little of since he had descended into Hell to fight for Dean's soul.
He steps back and stares into the man's eyes.
"Thank you," he says with utter sincerity. The man's eyes crinkle as he huffs a small laugh.
"No problem," he says, patting him on the arm and letting go.
Castiel stares after him as the man walks away to hug another person.
"Friend of mine - lovely girl, should take you to meet her one day - said a hug was like an emotional Heimlich," the Doctor says beside him, looking at him with a soft expression.
Castiel ponders the Doctor's statement, though it takes him a minute to recognize the reference. He knows he feels calmer than he has for a long time, all because of that simple moment of contact with another being.
"I agree," he says gravely and looks at the Doctor. "Are we done here?"
He appreciates the gesture, but part of him wonders if all that they had come here for was a hug...why did it have to come from a complete stranger?
The Doctor laughs again, a light sound. Castiel thinks that perhaps this visit from the Doctor was not soley for Castiel's benefit.
"If that was all, I'd have just hugged you myself," the Doctor grins and moves to the wall where the man who hugged him had been standing. Castiel notices more signs like the man had, all with the same words.
"Grab a sign," the Doctor tells him, eyes twinkling.
What follows is one of the strangest afternoons of Castiel's life.
The Doctor heckles him from time to time to smile or relax every time he passes where Castiel stands. The Doctor happily accepts and gives hugs to anyone who approaches and he roams across the shopping center in search of more, stopping by every now and then to tell Castiel to loosen up.
Castiel ignores him, but he finds that as more people approach him for a hug, the less stiff his shoulders are, the less awkward his movements. He does not smile, not quite, but he feels the muscles of his face relax. An expression close to serenity replaces the one of barely contained frustration he's had on for the past year.
There is a tug on his trenchcoat and he looks down into the sweet face of a small girl. Wordlessly, she raises her arms up.
Castiel kneels to her level and hugs her. Her small arms wrap around his neck and her face presses into his shoulder. When she lets go, her smile is almost as bright as her soul. She pecks him on the cheek and races back towards her mother, already chattering away. Smiling ruefully at him, the mother leads her away.
"Blimey, I think I've been all hugged out," the Doctor bounces towards him, the widest smile Castiel has ever seen stretching his face. His hair is messier than before, tie askew and jacket rumpled. He looks the happiest Castiel has ever seen him.
Finally, he feels a smile, a small one, stretch across his own face. It feels strange, but pleasant.
Without a word, Castiel sets his sign down. He has seen so many souls today, all of them a little brighter now. Strangely, he feels more accomplished for what he has done this afternoon than for any of the victories he has previously won.
After setting his own sign down, the Doctor drammatically slaps his forehead.
"D'oh! Almost forgot!"
He almost pounces on Castiel, engulfing him in a bear hug.
He exhales sharply in surprise before returning it. Clutching the Doctor, he releases another shaky breath against his shoulder. He closes his vessel's eyes, to better appreciate the sensation of the Doctor's arms around him and the close press of his body. It is calming and comforting and warm
and Castiel wonders at the power such a simple gesture has. So many emotions that can be conveyed through it, which might never be spoken of otherwise. For the hug here and now, it is friendship and reassurance and comfort and strength and above all love
"Thank you," he says quietly, voice gruff.
"Aww," the Doctor gushes just as quietly, pulling away to look into Castiel's eyes, "Don't mention it. And thank you
The Doctor pulls him back into a quick hug before letting go. He bounces on his feet, grinning.
"Feel up to getting back to saving the world again?"
His tone is carefree and cheerful, but his eyes are serious. Castiel stares at him for a long moment.
He nods. He finds he means it.
They do not speak again until the TARDIS lands them back in the proper time. The TARDIS' song is all around him and he listens as she says goodbye for now
to him in her own way.
He is just about to exit the TARDIS when the Doctor's voice stops him.
He freezes. For a few glorious minutes, he had almost forgotten the war, forgotten the deception he is engaged in. The knot of tension threatens to reemerge, but he swallows it down.
"It is too late for that," he says instead. He does not want to turn to look at the Doctor, to see what might be in his gaze. He is not sure if it would be hatred or understanding. He does not know which would be worse.
"Oh, it's never too late for a bit of honesty. But better it coming from you than from anyone else. And who knows - humans always come up with the most brilliant unexpected things."
Finally, he turns around and faces the Doctor. Tries to understand. But the Doctor's face is inscruitable for once and he can glean no glimpses of the future like he sometimes can. Well, unless he pries deeper. He doesn't.
Castiel nods. The Doctor smiles at him.
He steps out of the TARDIS and watches it disappear. As the sound of the universe fades around him, he leaves with a flutter of wings.