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Heaven's Descent

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Summary: Castiel is killed again, and brought back, fifteen years earlier. Something's changed about our favorite angel, and even he doesn't know the whole of it. AU from Season 5 SPN.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > General
Stargate > General
KagekoFR15652,5951133,8757 Oct 1219 Nov 12No

Chapter Three: Strange Bedfellows

Title: Heaven's Descent: Strange Bedfellows

Rating: Teen or so?

Characters/Pairing(s): Castiel, Jimmy, Anna (SPN), Kushiel, Kit (mine), White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland), Cordelia, Harmony, Aura, Aphrodesia (BtVS), Jack, Daniel, Sam, Teal'c (SG1)

Summary: Castiel returns in the nick of time, and seeks advice again. Meanwhile, Jimmy seems to have gained an admirer.

Disclaimer: All I own is the weird stuff from my brain, and even some of that is just borrowed. Anything SPN is Kripke, SG1 is MGM, BtVS is Joss, and whatever others got their fingers in the copyrights cookie jar. Alice in Wonderland isn't mine, but this version of the angel Kushiel is, as are most of the minor characters that appear in this segment.

Warnings: Spoilers up to the end of Season 5 of Supernatural.

Chapter 03: Strange Bedfellows

~@~

The Lord of the Garden, known to its denizens as Malik, watched the unconscious angel breathe, soft yet oddly sonorous, for ten minutes before realizing that Castiel was probably going to remain that way for quite some time. He still didn't move, just studied the other. It had been a very long time since he had seen another angel, and he was uncertain as to what this one wanted. There was a twinge within him, one that he couldn't deny having, at least not to himself, a longing; it had been so long since one of his own kind had just sit with him and talk. It left him unsettled.

Malik didn't care for the feeling. He was very unsettled. Allowing himself to feel that way was beneath his dignity; though it wasn't as though he had much choice in the matter. Feelings and choice didn't mesh well that he had noticed. His posture showed nothing of his internal discomfort, however, and soon his groundskeeper returned with more tea. Unlike most of the inhabitants of his garden, the rabbit didn't have to serve him. That was its choice. Malik was a big fan of "Freedom of Choice". It was practically his motto. After all, it was choices that got one sent to Hell, wasn't it?

A cool smile crossed his lips, even as his eyes continued to try and pierce the other angel's inscrutability. The rabbit's choice... now, Malik didn't really care to remember what it had been, only that it wasn't entirely that soul's fault. The poor creature was a genius, truly, and a mad one, besides, which is why Malik had it given it the job he had. Its punishment had been over long ago, and it remained in his care and service by choice... as did the cat, who was a different sort of creature entirely.

Malik watched it dissolve from its post on the roof of his home and knew that it had helped to lead the angel here. "Curious," he murmured to himself, just as curious as an angel looking itself in the eye (in Malik's Mirror of Truth, no less) and not even flinching. He could tell that his brother hadn't expected something about the image in the mirror, but whatever it was had merely saddened him. He didn't start screaming, which is really what Malik would expect of any of his brothers these days.

It was almost disappointing, hearing that calm sigh, and the words. "It was a good try..." Castiel's voice echoed back to him, and Malik gave serious contemplation toward the idea of chucking his tea cup at his unconscious brother's head and throwing a fit. His silly, naïve brother had called him "Kushiel", and that was enough, he thought, to earn the petty punishment. Malik didn't want to be called "Kushiel" anymore.

Malik sat back in a manner benefiting his name, and wished for something to do with his hands. Holding his tea cup would only keep him distracted momentarily. Studying Castiel, while keeping him occupied, was kind of starting to piss him off. Malik had been watching Heaven. One of Heaven's soldiers shouldn't have even been able to make it to the center of his Garden, much less see Truth without screaming their pretty little thoughtless heads off.

So, that meant that there was something special about Castiel. The problem with that was that Castiel definitely wanted something from him. What he wanted was a very good question. On a side note, Castiel's wings were rather... blackened, would be a kind way to put it. He would have had to have been in Hell for a long time for his wings to become such a shade; it would take decades, at least, Hell-side.

Malik's own wings were coal black, with just enough glimmer to them that one could tell that they had once shone vividly. Castiel's wings still shone. It was dull compared to what it once was, if the angel's story was true, but they were still lovely wings. Malik was sure that he would have known if an angel had been in Hell long enough for that to happen to their wings. Such hadn't happened in Earth-side millennia.

And he still didn't know what Castiel wanted. He was tempted to just wake him up and find out.

He resigned himself to wait.

~@~

When Castiel reawakened, Kushiel was no longer at the table with him. He looked up and around, and found the other angel seated on the front steps of the tiny house, apparently knitting. His brows knotted. Perhaps he had been wrong in his assessment of Kushiel's sanity? Even knitting, Kushiel still carried an odd air of menace, so Castiel decided to ignore the strangeness of the activity and get on with what he had come here for.

He stood carefully, and Kushiel's silvery eyes were immediately focused on him. "Awake, I see," the other angel hummed in a grave tone. "I have been wondering what exactly it is that you want. You didn't tell me earlier." He continued to knit in a manner that suggested long practice.

"I wanted to know the truth," Castiel sighed. He didn't step towards Kushiel, merely turned so that he was properly facing the other angel. "I've recently come to realize that I don't know enough, and I needed proof that not all who left Heaven were truly criminal, or insane." He stretched his wings, which had become cramped as he slept. "You were the first to leave Heaven; therefore you were first on my list." Not completely true, but Gabriel and Haniel didn't count, as he wasn't certain he could face either of them yet.

"Is that so?" Kushiel asked, as though aware of the omission. "Are you disappointed?"

Castiel cocked his head thoughtfully, and eyed Kushiel. "I think not. My suspicions are being proven. That frees me from some of my doubts."

"And Gabriel?" Kushiel's hands stilled as he gave Castiel his full attention.

Perhaps, Castiel contemplated, he ought to quit drinking with strangers. While Kushiel technically wasn't a stranger, he may as well have been. "I'm not sure if I want to speak of that yet," he replied, this time completely honest. "That wound is still a bit raw." His wings flicked down, raising a small amount of dust and startling the rabbit out of wherever he'd been hiding. "Actually, since speaking with you, my plans may have changed somewhat," Castiel admitted. His plans had been practically non-existent up until that point. Now, however... they were more than a little vague as of yet, but should they come into fruition...

Kushiel interrupted the thought. "How so?"

"I thought that I might be well advised to seek allies." Castiel was still a simple soldier, underneath it all, and he was aware that as long as he was working alone, he wouldn't be nearly effective enough to stop both Lucifer and Michael. With the help of someone like Kushiel however, things might change. After all, he was just a soldier, and he had his ways of doing things, mostly very straightforward ways of doing things, while Kushiel... was something entirely different.

Apparently, their thought processes were too dissimilar, because Kushiel, a bare fraction of a second later was invading Castiel's personal space, his almost human features twisted into an angry grimace. Castiel's jaw was gripped and his gaze was forced upwards to meet Kushiel's."And what makes you think that I would ally myself, Castiel?" He leaned down to meet Castiel's eyes, and the position forced the smaller angel to realize why personal space was such an issue with humans.

If he could, Castiel would have moved. But Kushiel was an archangel, and by nature, he was far stronger than Castiel. "Because I am alone in this," he replied harshly, feeling an obstinate scowl settle on his face. "Since I am alone, Heaven isn't behind me, and I don't wish for it to be. I don't know what your reason for leaving Heaven was, and I doubt it's the same as mine, but I will never know unless I ask you..!"

Huge black wings lifted behind Kushiel and the tips of his pinions came to rest on the backs of Castiel's wings. The tickle of their presence was almost gentle, but it would take the space of a thought for them to come down crushingly. "I can't trust anything that you say," Kushiel snarled. "I met you once, twice, so long ago that I know nothing of you, and I certainly don't trust those pansies upstairs. The only way I would trust you is if you commune with me."

The thought was even more uncomfortable than his current position. Communion wasn't a bad thing, per se, but it was uncomfortably intimate. It was probably the highest level of intimacy two angels were capable of, but if it gave him a chance to have someone, another angel especially, that he could trust... Castiel didn't see as he had much choice. No matter how discomfiting it was, he would do it. He took a breath, and Kushiel's fingers relaxed on his jaw, "Alright."

~@~

The intruder stood silently, almost invisible beneath the expanse of the Master of the Garden's great black wings. The rabbit wasn't really sure what to think of this. It was interesting, good even, that his Master was being willing to be so close to another of his kind, but he was sure that there was more to it than that.

When they stepped away from each other, both faces were solemn, though Castiel, the intruder's, expression spoke more toward intense discomfort than to anything else. He spoke first, the gravelly pitch of his voice sending a weird thrill down the rabbit's spine. "I'm being called." He took another step back from the Master, head turned, staring into a distance that the rabbit couldn't see. "Do what you wish with that information. I must go now."

One hand lifted, reaching for the intruder, possibly to catch him, and hold him there, and the Master's mouth was open, as though about to speak, when the other just disappeared. It reminded the rabbit of the cat, only it was a lot faster. It was also completely gone. The Master's hand dropped, and he huffed out a sigh then returned to his previous seating and the knitting that he had left there.

The rabbit wondered if it should go and get tea. Perhaps that was just the thing the Master needed...

~@~

The small church looked like a miniature disaster area. Pews were over-turned and the floors were strewn with copious amounts of dead demon husk, disintegrated into a fine dust. From the looks of things, Jimmy had been in actual trouble. 'Thank you, yes, I would have called you if I needed a pizza or something, but this came up first.'

Being able to hear Jimmy's sarcastic complaint was enough of a surprise that it had Castiel blinking as he glanced around at the damage he had done. Returning to his vessel had lit the tiny church with holy light, and he had accidentally busted some of its windows. The weak demons hadn't stood a chance against his light. They were far too entrenched in darkness; therefore they had been unusually susceptible.

There was a girl screaming behind him, and Jimmy's kindly pointed out that she had been there for several hours already. 'Miss Cordelia Chase,' Jimmy's voice supplied Castiel with the girl's name. Jimmy also added a bit more information on what had happened while Castiel was gone. The demons had claimed to be vampires. Castiel was fairly certain that they were not and Jimmy agreed. A true vampire wouldn't have fallen apart into dust at Castiel's mere presence. Also, it seemed that Jimmy had managed to destroy several of them while Castiel was rushing to return. The first one to try to touch his vessel had fallen to dust when it had touched Jimmy, but there had been far too many for him to fight, especially after one realized that as long as they didn't touch him, he couldn't hurt them.

The girl was still screaming.

Castiel frowned and turned to her. "Hush. They are gone." She stopped screaming, but she stared at him with fear.

Her lower lip wobbled. "Wh-who... What are you?! And what did you do to Mr. Novak?!" There were tears building up in her eyes. She also seemed like she might begin screaming again at any given moment.

'Smart girl,' Jimmy murmured to Castiel, even before the angel had a chance to respond. "Jimmy is fine," he replied, with his usual amount of gruffness. "He had been waiting for me to return."

She glared at him. "You didn't tell me what you are." Her teeth were bared at him, and Castiel wouldn't have been surprised if she chose to attack. "You aren't Mr. Novak, so you must not be human. Light isn't always good, right?" She looked unsure of that.

He had to agree. "This is true," he conceded. "As to what I am, I am an angel. Jimmy is my vessel." Jimmy seemed vaguely disgruntled at that. 'She needs to go home,' he finally said. 'If we're going to be leaving, she'll be here, alone. I don't think that we should do that to her.' Castiel frowned thoughtfully at Jimmy's suggestion. "He seems of the opinion that you must return home," he concluded distractedly.

His coat was missing, too, he noted, and Jimmy thoughtfully told him where he had left it. Castiel put it on, and the girl, Cordelia, continued to stare worriedly at him. Her eyes grew wide when he approached her. Before she could blink, she was at the front door of her own home, and Castiel was gone, leaving her with nothing but a sense of vertigo.

~@~

There was a strange sound, kind of feathery, a bit like rustling paper and a faint smell like brimstone and... Jack sniffed. He was sure that it was something herby and faintly familiar that Daniel would be able to identify, and if not him, then Sam could. The only thing he could think was that he wasn't alone, it was really freaking dark, and Daniel would know that smell. He really hoped that it was one of their guys that stood in the dark with him. "Hello?" he asked, all hope and ears.

"You heard me this time," a gravelly voice noted, and Jack sighed with relief. He didn't really know Castiel, but he was pretty sure that he wasn't a bad guy. "I was going to thank you for your advice," Castiel continued, "but you seem to be rather busy?" It came out sounding like a question.

Jack snorted. "Busy isn't the word I'd use." He'd rather say that he felt as though he was knee deep in shit city, but he wasn't sure if Castiel would understand the expression. Not that that was an actual expression. It wasn't; at least not so far as Jack knew. "I can't see you, you know," he added conversationally. "And I don't know where the others are, so if you aren't going to help, you'll just be distracting me."

He wasn't prepared for Castiel to volunteer his assistance. "What do you need?"

He also wasn't going to push his luck as far as Castiel's assistance went. "Well, finding my team would be nice. So would a little light." Jack's tone was wry, and he couldn't quite stifle a gasp when the lights came on. "Lights", of course, wasn't exactly the right word for it, however. It was more like, "vague glow that came from everywhere at once". "Uh... Thanks." The light lent the chamber an odd quality, and Jack was actually able to see how precisely the stones beneath his feet came together. Such precision usually came with technology, he thought. "Now, we find Sam, Daniel and Teal'c," he mused, staring discontentedly down at the fitted stones.

When he looked up, Castiel was nowhere in sight.

"Right-o..."

~@~

He still hadn't managed to finish exploring his camp de confinement when he heard Teal'c's deep voice murmuring something indistinct sounding outside his visual range. Sam's voice was clearer with its reply. "He said to go this way, and it's not like we were doing any better on our own!" Her voice was quiet, but it carried an aggressively argumentative quality.

There was a squeak and a thudding sound, and Jack heard Daniel cursing suddenly and creatively. "I'm sure he's just around the corner, guys."

Then Daniel ran into Jack face first. Daniel started cursing again, and Jack checked himself for a split lip. "Well, it's nice to know you were looking for me," he grunted, and frowned at the metallic taste in his mouth. "Looking so hard that you didn't notice me standing right here." He checked the suspected split with his tongue, noting to himself that it was bleeding pretty good. Had that been Daniel's chin? "I suggest next time to look where you're going," Jack concluded sincerely.

Sam was looking at the walls with an intent expression. "Colonel? Where's the light coming from?"

"I don't know," he replied and then shrugged. "It's special Cas-light." As soon as he said it, the chamber was again plunged into darkness. "Well, I guess that means he left."

~@~

The teenage girl wound the phone cord around her hand, trying to decide if she was going to tell her friends about last night's encounter or not. Sunday morning had dawned crisp and clear, and Cordelia had been lying awake for over an hour before the light came in full from her bedroom window. The cord was making her hand red, and she was still having a hard time coming to a decision.

Cordelia didn't believe in angels.

That man had been possessed by something beautiful and bright and terrible, and she didn't know what it was. She barely knew Mr. Novak, but after the few hours they had spent talking, she wanted to think of him as a friend (only a friend, but if given the chance, if he was as nice as he seemed, she might like him more than that). As a friend, Cordelia was worried about him.

If she did talk to her friends about this, she'd have to leave the whole possession thing out. Cordelia pursed her lips in annoyance. Well, if she couldn't tell them about the "angel", what could she tell them about? She could tell them about the really hot older guy (Mr. Novak) that she had met at the church. A little smile played upon her lips as she remembered their animated discussion. He was perhaps the only adult she knew that hadn't treated her like a kid at all. They talked about the stock market of all things. How much more adult can you get?

Decision made, and the possession thing pushed from her mind, she lifted the phone back off of the cradle to dial Aura. From there, she could make it into a three-way call with Harmony, too.

If she was lucky, she would get to see Mr. Novak again.

~@~

On his own, Castiel had come to the conclusion that avoiding Haniel, human child that she may be, wasn't necessarily the best of ideas. With him on Earth, it was possible, even likely, that she was already hearing angel voices. No one had come down to search for him yet, but he could hear them well enough. It was mostly just a murmur at the moment, highs and lows as various things titillated the collective of the Heavenly Host, but when he had dropped himself down from Heaven, a horrified shout had rung out. "CASTIEL HAS LEFT," they cried, and it was as though he had torn out their hearts by coming to Earth.

He knew that he wasn't considered to be Fallen. He hadn't been cast out, and he hadn't truly cast himself out. Jimmy muttered thoughtfully in the background of his thoughts at that, pointing out that it would be rather silly for them to even think to cast him out, because, technically, no matter what he did, he would be following his last order.

Castiel wasn't sure why, but that bothered him. It bothered him a lot. Jimmy offered an apology for pointing it out, then added that it wasn't like he was particularly happy with the situation either. Seeing Haniel - 'Anna,' Jimmy corrected, and he was right - would probably be good for them anyway.

The situation with Jimmy was bothering him too. He and Jimmy had been sure that Jimmy was gone, and him being kind of separate again was strange. It also made him wonder a bit about the past months. When he had been mindlessly craving bloody meat, was that really him..?

Jimmy gave the impression of shrugging and told him that it didn't really matter either way. As far as he was concerned everything that had happened between Raphael exploding them and the separation in Sunnydale was both of them. It was close enough to his own thoughts that Castiel had to agree. Of course, he wasn't really sure of the degree of separation they had now, either. Before his first death, Jimmy had been distant enough that his thoughts never encroached upon Castiel's, and after that, until very very recently...

'You really shouldn't worry about it so much,' Jimmy muttered. 'It's not like it's going to matter. I kinda think that we've been in the process of merging. While you were gone, I kept thinking I was you. It was disconcerting.' There was the mental impression of an emphatically nodding head. 'What's going to happen is going to happen regardless. Worrying about it is pointless.'

Again, Jimmy had a good point. Unfortunately, Castiel was going to worry anyway. He wished he had a way of knowing just how much Jimmy had affected his decisions these past months. Jimmy seemed to doubt much, because Castiel's thought process had been too alien for him to really influence. It still was, or so he stated. He pointed out that Castiel's nature was essentially unchanged. It was Jimmy who had a hard time remembering who he really was.

'Anna,' Jimmy reminded him. And again Castiel had to agree. That had, after all, been the intention of his current digression. He wondered if Anna would remember him.

~@~

Her parents had taken her to the park, and the small girl child had thought that it was one her Father's best creations. Everything was wonderfully green and sweet smelling, and she wasn't really paying attention to how her momma and papa were getting further and further away. She wasn't paying attention to that until she saw the angel.

If she screamed, he would notice her, and his burnt gold wings would maybe encircle her and she would never see her momma and papa again. She gritted her teeth together and fought the tears that were already streaming down her face. She didn't say it anymore, but she just knew her Father had to be angry with her. He had to be so, so very angry with her. A strangled sob escaped her, and the angel looked at her.

She couldn't help it. Her voice broke out into a painful wail, even as he strode towards her. Papa was a good man, but he wasn't always right, and little Anna knew that angels were not always merciful; especially not with her. They couldn't be merciful to her; because she was a bad, bad, oh so very bad girl.

The angel knelt before her, and she continued to cry, even harder. His face was familiar, and little Anna knew that she should know this angel. And suddenly she did. This was Castiel. This was the one who had left. Her tears slowed, though she still sobbed breathlessly, and she shook her head. "I don't wanna go," she cried softly. "I don't wanna go!"

"It's okay, Anna," the angel said. "I won't make you go. I just needed to check on you." His eyes were deep and there was nothing cruel about him that she could see.

"Castiel?" she asked, and snuffled her running nose. "You shouldn't be here. You shouldn't. Why are you here?"

A gentle smile, something she wouldn't have expected from any angel toward her, crossed his face. "I wanted to make sure that my being here didn't endanger you." He held out a tiny golden feather hanging from a silver chain. "Take it please, to protect yourself and your family. And Anna," he sighed, the smile slipping away, followed by soulful eyes staring right into hers, "don't speak of angels, Anna. Don't repeat anything you hear them say. It may endanger you and yours. So please don't tell anyone about them."

She continued to snuffle and allowed Castiel to place the chain about her neck. The feather was his, she knew. No, no angel should be showing her any kindness. "But... b-but, Castiel," she said, and the tears started flowing afresh. "What about Father? What about Father, Castiel? Won't he be mad at you?"

The angel's expression fell. "Anna..." He shook his head. "I have been given a sort of freedom. Father is not angry with you, Anna. I want you to be aware of that." There was obviously more that Castiel did not say, but something made him keep whatever it was inside. "Thank you for listening. Now you should return to your parents."

~@~

Jack nearly spat out coffee upon entering his office. It had been a week since the mission where he had seen (rather, "heard") Castiel, and he wasn't expecting to see him again so soon. He certainly hadn't expected to see the entity sitting at his desk, playing with his Gameboy; his dead Gameboy; his dead Gameboy that had been buried somewhere deep within his desk. Its innards had been melted, the last Jack had checked. Yet, there it was, beeping and dinging as though there was nothing wrong with it.

"Did you fix it?" he asked curiously. From the sounds, Castiel was playing Tetris. If he remembered right, Sam had melted that cartridge, along with the rest of the toy's inner workings when she set it too close to unstable alien devices and some drunken experiment of her own. He had been rather fond of that game.

Castiel looked up from the game, though his hands continued moving on it. "Fix what?"

Jack wasn't sure how to respond to that. "Uhm. So. Uhm. How are things going for you?"

Castiel did that weird bird head tilt thing. "I have spoken to... two others. I am attempting to take your advice." He looked down at the game, paused it and sighed, placing it on Jack's desk. "I think I could use a drink, but I don't think I can afford to pay back an entire liquor store again." As though making a joke, he tugged on his pockets. "I don't believe I have any money." He sounded amused.

It was strange sounding enough that Jack still wasn't sure what to say. "So... Get some? Take a day off?" Then, with gusto, "Get a little R&R, it'll probably be good for you." He set his armload on the desk, and curiously picked up the Gameboy. The scoreboard was maxed out. As usual, when he looked up, Castiel was gone. "...the Hell?"

Castiel had to be a god, or something. He beat Tetris. How is that even possible? He was totally going to go show the rest of his team, and maybe everyone else in Cheyenne Mountain.

Then he'd report that Castiel had shown up again.

~@~

The vixen grinned around her drink. Piña Coladas weren't really her thing, but the little umbrella helped to hide the fact that she wasn't really as pretty as say, the girl on the other end of the counter. She was only a vixen on a technicality anyway; the technicality being that she was a fox. More accurately, she was a kitsune.

She was also a Trickster, with a capital "T", just not a very good one. She was far too lazy. She wasn't even very high in her admittedly low clan. Not all foxes were Tricksters, however, and her clan was as stick in the mud as her kind came... Therefore, she was the black sheep of the family, and with only two tails at that.

She would be the first to admit that she had no class (didn't want any, for that matter), but at least she was more subtle than a two-by-four, unlike the sweet little thing sitting a few spaces away, fingers lighting up a rune at the bottom of his glass just before he tipped it bottoms up. He radiated power, pure and straightforward, and somehow seemed like he wasn't even properly settled into his body.

He drank with the kind of single-mindedness that the vixen would have expected of a hardcore soldier determinedly trying to forget that his daughter's husband was, obviously, sleeping with his daughter. Of course, he didn't look old enough to have a daughter of the legal age, nor did he really look like someone who had been to war; not physically, anyway. His perfectly blank intensity was a bit much for the bartender, but the man came back and poured another drink for his patron anyway.

This bar probably regularly saw worse from its other patrons, anyway. The clean cut man in the trench coat didn't seem like a trouble maker. He just had the kind of power rolling off of him that gave a minor kitsune the Heebie-Jeebies. Of course, giving him a second, closer look, she realized that maybe "clean cut" wasn't really the right phrase to describe him. It just didn't mesh with the four o'clock shadow, or the mussy, just out of bed, hair.

He looked like, the vixen recognized, a good man that was at the end of his rope, not broken, just very, very drained. She found herself feeling kinda bad for him, and edged toward him, trying to think of something that might amuse him. Bringing down the high and mighty was a truly noble occupation, but bringing the down back up, well, that was something she could get behind.

She sidled up to him with a grin. "Whall, howdy, stranger," she sang in as bad of an accent as she could muster. She was rewarded by his raising his head to look her in the eye. It was fascinating to watch the single eyebrow that lifted with eloquent sarcasm. She tried not to snort, because, well, two could play at that game, and she wasn't in the mood for sarcasm. She wanted something better, fresher, more cheerful; maybe something slapstick. "My name's Kit, wouldshaaaaa... aaaaah!"

With perfect timing, the vixen slipped off of the bar stool, making sure to "whack" her face on the man's knee on the way down. "Blood" dripped from her mouth as she sat on the floor, moaning in faked shock. There was a tooth on the floor, with a little smear of "blood" on it. It was hers. She opened up her mouth, and poked at the place that the tooth belonged.

The stranger stared down at her with detached interest as she began to wail. The actual words meant little. All she needed was to make sure that the word "sue" ended up somewhere in her teary rant. Of course, that's what set the bartender off. He honestly thought that she might sue him, so he was careful to make sure that everything he did, from helping her up from the floor, to handing her back her tooth was both gracious and unassuming.

Then the stranger made her apologies for her, telling the bartender that she would be just fine, she was just a bit drunk, that's all, and she probably wouldn't even miss the tooth. Much to Kit's joy, this only seemed to make the bartender more nervous. She made sure to sob theatrically as she was led out the door.

Once they were alone, the first thing the man said was, "Where did the tooth come from?" She thought that the question was just an inanity until she saw that he was looking at her curiously. "The blood wasn't real, but the tooth is. Where did it come from?"

Kit stuffed her finger into the gap next to her incisors. From the incisor to her fang, there was nothing but gum. With her finger still jammed in her mouth, she replied, "Right here."

"I thought keeping lost body parts was considered a disgusting practice?" There was no condemnation in his tone, just mild confusion. He sniffed lightly before continuing on. "I still don't understand what Tricksters get from their practice."

"Fun?" she said, shrugging. "The knowledge of a job well done that warms us when there's nothing else to think on, or maybe just... You know what, I don't know. It's different for everyone, yes?" She chased the weird coppery sweet taste from the fake blood around her mouth with her tongue. "I don't really care enough to do it right, it just gets me away from home."

"I see," he said, blinking once. Kit wasn't sure if he meant it, or if he was just saying it to have a response.

"No you don't," she shrugged. "But that's alright. What's got you down, stranger? I was hopin' to get a little bit of a laugh. No one appreciates my art anymore." She snuffled for a moment then pinched the bridge of her nose. "Is my face swelling? I think I might be allergic to my props?" Not that Kit would let something like an allergy slow her down. It might be better to use a different brand of fake blood next time, though. Just in case.

~@~

Several hours later, the kitsune was wondering just why she had asked the bright stranger what was wrong. Every time he skirted the edge of certain topics, she could sense the chains tearing through his energy, choking off the words before they could fully form. Kit shuddered to think what could have cursed such a powerful creature with a geis like that, and Why? Castiel seemed like a pleasant enough bloke. He was a bit odd, she supposed, dour, perhaps, but he seemed like a truly good fellow.

Shit, but that hurt her to feel those chains tightening on him.Damn you, Inari, she swore internally. Why'd you make me such a caring person, anyway?

Oblivious to Kit's internal distress, Castiel swirled the bright blue liquid in his glass. They were told that it was flavored with orange essence. Kit kind of doubted it, no matter what it smelled like. Give her sake any day. At least that was recognizable in most of its forms. "Strange," he murmured. "Why is it blue, anyway?" It was like he had read her mind (quite possible, actually). He was starting to get that faint flush that said that he may have had a little too much to drink.

"For a higher being, you sure are a lightweight," Kit muttered, amused.

He chuckled mutely. "Oh no. I'm enchanting it." He tilted the glass so that she could see the rune that had been etched on the bottom.

Kit was horrified, even as, in her mind she was thinking, So that's what that was for. "Why would you do that?"

"So that I don't have to have a whole liquor store," he replied. "I learned something on a recent jaunt." Faintly, under his breath, Kit could hear him mutter, "Fake physical bullshit."

That was... odd. The physical affected everyone who wasn't dead, and even then, sometimes, as far as Kit knew, and she was a minor goddess (technically, extremely minor), so she knew quite a bit compared to the average being. Being a leech gave her an added edge on her knowledge garnering skills, as well. "How was it fake?" she asked dubiously.

"Hell isn't physical," he shrugged. "Therefore, anything there that seems physical must be fake. However, being there taught me a way to become just as... affected, by certain things as, say, a human."

"Oh," she replied, feeling slightly stupid. Then, after mentally reviewing what he said, "Wait! What were you doing in Hell?"

"Looking for someone," he said, sipping at his blue colored liquor.

Kit grimaced enthusiastically. "Yeah, you know, I know it's usually considered kinda rude to ask, but you know, I'm not the most polite critter on this side of the Meridian..." She took a deep breath, and before she could lose her nerve, asked, "What are you?"

He tilted his head thoughtfully, in an inhumane gesture reminiscent of a bird, and asked, "What do I seem like?"

"Not fair," Kit whined, "asking a question in response to a question isn't fair! All I know is you're big and bright and shiny, and you're not a pagan god, are you? You don't seem like... unless you're Apollo or one of his like, but he was supposed to be a different kind of shiny."

"I am not a pagan god," Castiel confirmed, but didn't clarify further.

Kit sighed. It was going to be a long day.

~@~

"And then he said, and then he said, what was it, something about his escutcheon. I don't know, but I just about died, it was so funny." Kit giggled hysterically. Castiel got a lot funner once he was drunk... or maybe she was just a lot easier to amuse when she was. He was smiling faintly now, like he finally got the joke she was telling. "Anyway, I was thinking, I was thinking, you'd like the rock."

"It's evil," he commented dryly, with that same faint smile.

"Seemed like the kind of thing a fellow like you would like." She nodded enthusiastically, arranging her fingers around the stone in question as though to showcase it. "Evil, but can't really do anything but radiate its being, or something. I think it's possessed by a demon, but it can't get out?"

Castiel appeared to give this due consideration and the smile grew slightly. "It is," he agreed. "But what do you do with it?"

"Can't think of a good reason to exorcise it," she said, grinning. She continued with a shrug, "So I was thinking about leaving it in the men's bathroom at the Saints' Stadium. What do you think?"

"Seems like it belongs in a Garden," he replied. Something about the way the word came out implied that it was with a capital "G".

"You think?" Kit asked. She poked the stone with her index finger and giggled at the aggravation that arose from it. Her and Castiel's three day (so far) bender was slowing down if they were getting off track because of a single rock. Then again, she figured that the shiny fellow had needed the break if he let himself be distracted for that long. "What kind of Garden?" She tried to give the word the same inflection that he had.

"My brother's Garden," was his somewhat ambiguous response.

"Useless." Kit grunted and stood. It looked as though Castiel was well and distracted. "You don't want to play no more?" She pouted at him.

He wobbled slightly on his feet and frowned. "I think that I still have things to do," he said reluctantly.

It heartened Kit to know that he was enjoying himself. "Whaaaall, if you want my opinion," she offered, "you're the kinda guy who needs to schedule yourself fer breaks."

He seemed to frown a lot more easily than he smiled. Ever since mentioning his brother, Castiel had been frowning thoughtfully. "Yes, perhaps you're right." Then, with a tiny smile, he said, "Thank you for your time, Inari's child."

It would be several weeks before Kit ran into him again, and Castiel would tell her of the wisdom shown at human parties, where the host would take the guests' car keys. Apparently, drinking and teleporting (if that was, indeed, what Castiel did) was equivalent to humans drinking and driving.

~@~

Jimmy wasn't all that certain that he liked Sunnydale. For all that the town was located on a Hellmouth, it wasn't like they had great access to fast food. There seemed to be two burger joints in the whole town, and one of them was called the Happy Burger, of all things. The other one sounded just as questionable, which was why Jimmy felt weird even being in it. Doublemeat Palace sounded a little... fishy, but Jimmy was hungry enough that he didn't really care what was in the Doublemeat Medley.

Cas never did eat, anyway, not after... Not after that run in with Famine. Instead, he drank. Copiously. Thankfully, he took the inebriation and the scent of alcohol with him, wherever he was going.

There was another problem for Jimmy, though. The only currency in his pockets was newer than the year 2000, and it was only 1995.

He gave the cash in his wallet a wounded look and hoped desperately for the money to suddenly and randomly change back to older style currency before his eyes. He just about dropped to the floor (an unwise action in a busy restaurant) in shock when it actually did. Suspiciously, he pulled a twenty out and pinched it between his fingers. Not that he knew enough about the security features on money to know how to tell for sure that it was real, but it looked real.

Frowning, he held it up to the light, looking for the security strip. He wasn't sure if he was relieved or uncomfortable when he saw it. When his stomach gurgled silently, he decided to settle on relieved.

He had barely begun to turn around when a hand settled on his shoulder. Even as his back stiffened, he told himself not to worry so much. A young female voice greeted him with a quiet, "Is that you, Mr. Novak?" when he turned the rest of the way. It was Miss Cordelia Chase. A relieved smile crossed her face when she looked up at him and, presumably, saw that it wasn't Cas looking down at her. Castiel wasn't the most subtle of creatures at the best of times, so there was no way anyone would mistake either of them for the other.

"Miss Chase," he greeted her, smiling back. "I'm sorry Castiel scared you, the other day. I feel I should have warned you a little better."

"I wasn't scared," she told him, puffing up with mild indignation. She deflated rather quickly, and admitted, "I was a bit freaked out, though."

"Of course," Jimmy agreed. Making a gesture toward the counter, he added, "I was just about to..."

"Right. Me too." She fidgeted for a moment. "Actually, if you want, if you're here alone, you could eat with us?" He tried not to grimace at that. A man his age, eating lunch with a bunch of teenage girls? That wouldn't look very good. "I wanted them to meet you," she continued. "I gave them a really edited account of the other night, and when I thought I saw you here, I said so, so..."

"Uhm," he replied.

"Great! Pick a table that'll fit five!" Then she turned and walked back to her gaggle of friends.

His mouth snapped closed, and the hand that he had lifted to stop her with dropped back to his side as he sighed. "Right..."

~@~

Hanging out with a bunch of teenage girls was possibly one of the most socially traumatizing things Jimmy had ever done. He rather wished that he had been able to formulate some kind of excuse to get away. Instead, he got to hear more about shoes than he thought a man his age ever needed to. It was easy to forget that he'd been a teenager in the nineties, but Cordelia's friends were nothing like the girls he had known.

Jimmy had grown up in the Midwest, in a small town. Sunnydale might be a small town, but it was a Californian town, not too far from Los Angeles. These girls were a lot worldlier than those he had grown up with. The young, very young, Miss Chase had implied that she would love to see him again soon.

He was grateful for the implication, really he was, but... Even though it was nice, in an "it made him feel human again" sort of way, he couldn't help but remember the look on her face when looking at Cas. Whether or not she would admit it, Castiel had terrified her, and Jimmy was glad that she had left well before Castiel had come back this time.

Although, on that note, he began wondering what exactly was taking Cas so long.

Perhaps he would take a walk while waiting.

~@~

Cordelia pretended an arrogant lack of nerves quite well. Underneath a show of not caring, she was anxious to know what her girlfriends thought of Mr. Novak. It took a while, but eventually, Aura became the first to say something. "What is a blarney stone?" she asked, with a worried frown. It wasn't the question that Cordelia was expecting, but she had to admit, it was a good one.

"Something to do with talking," she dismissed haughtily.

"He was quiet," Harmony said, also frowning. "And was that a cell phone? It was tiny!"

Aphrodesia sighed gently. "If that was a cell phone, it must have been expensive. Think about all the shoes someone with things like that could buy." The other three sighed dreamily, almost in echo of Aphrodesia. "And he was really hot, too, not that I doubted you at all, Cordelia."

"A bit strange," Harmony pointed out. "He moved strange."

Cordelia had to admit to herself that Harmony's observation was accurate. As much as she liked Mr. Novak, he did have some strange mannerisms. She thought that she could blame the curious tilt of his head on spending a lot of time possessed, which wasn't something she could tell her friends about. "He obviously has money, though. And he's hot enough to make up for some eccentricity." Again she dismissed her friends' potential concerns, worried instead about other possible road blocks; much, much bigger possible road blocks.

"He seemed uncomfortable," said Aura, still looking worried.

"We were crowding him," Cordelia shrugged. She didn't feel guilty about crowding Mr. Novak. While she wasn't the most observant person in the world, she remembered from the last time they had talked that he seemed a little... Well, he was off, but not in the way that Harmony was trying to say. Cordelia was pretty sure that he was starved for human interaction. She didn't think that Castiel, whatever he really was, counted for human interaction, because he wasn't human at all.

"Why were we crowding him?" Aura asked.

Harmony laughed. "Isn't it obvious? Because he was hot." Harmony's reasoning was a bit off, but Cordelia decided to go along with it. When she saw Cordelia's approving nod, she continued, "And rich, maybe?"

In spite of the weird cell phone, Cordelia wasn't so certain that Mr. Novak was rich. He seemed to have had plenty of money in his wallet (which she had only noticed by accident, thank you), but she would have sworn that he was wearing the exact same clothes that he had been wearing the last time she saw him. The trench coat was fashionable, but the suit he wore with it wasn't at all. The material looked cheap, even, at least to Cordelia's keen eyes. "I'll talk to him again," she stated, more to herself than to the other girls. She was looking forward to it.

~@~

Jack shuffled across his bedroom at an alarmingly slow pace, yawning. If anyone at the SGC had seen him, they would think he was a zombie, or possessed, or something, because, as far as any of them knew, when Jack woke up, Jack woke up. Daniel was the possible exception to the rule, however, as the linguist had spent many nights on Jack's couch. Jack usually was moving a little quicker by the time he reached the couch, though.

He paused in his bedroom doorway to yawn again, scratched himself in an indecent manner, and continued to shuffle. Instead of heading for the couch, he made a half turn and went toward the bathroom, thinking First things first...

By the time he stepped out of the bathroom, he was almost fully awake. He even felt confident enough to approach breakfast.

Imagine his surprise when there was already someone at his breakfast table. Jack shrieked (something he wouldn't be proud of, later) at the intruder. "What are you doing here?!"

Castiel cast an irritated look in his direction, pressing a glass against his forehead that looked like it had a couple of raw eggs in it, amongst other things. "Must you be so loud?"

Taking note of the color of the other ingredients in the glass, Jack asked, "Is that what I think it is?"

"I don't know. Too much effort to check," Castiel replied. "Jimmy said it would help, but I don't know if I believe him."

"You have a hangover," Jack stated, not sure if he should be amused, or horrified. "I haven't seen you in a week. Were you drinking all that time?"

"No? I was for a fairly large portion of it, however." Castiel frowned at the glass. "Jimmy doesn't drink. Is a... 'prairie oyster' actually helpful?"

"Far as I've noticed." Jack shrugged. "But if you don't drink it, it won't help."

Castiel grimaced at that information then knocked back the nasty concoction like a pro. "How quickly should it help?"

"Depends on the person." He shook his head and walked over to the table to stare at the... well, the SGC still wasn't sure what Castiel was. His name was in the occasional book, but how likely was it that they had an actual angel visit them? Daniel, even, had found the idea absurd. "Cas, may I ask, just what are you doing here?" The question bore repeating, especially as Castiel hadn't answered the first time.

"I thought to tell you that I took your advice again." On the bright side of things, Castiel's complexion, which had been remarkably pasty when Jack had entered the kitchen, was returning to a healthy shade. "Jimmy is laughing."

"I feel like I've asked this before, but... Who is Jimmy?" Jack shuffled over to his fridge to pull out some eggs for himself while keeping an eye on Castiel in case the... being... decided to answer more cryptically than usual. It turned out to be a good call. Castiel just made a rough gesture in response, indicating his entire body, if Jack read it right. "Okay. That tells me a whole lot of nothing." There were six eggs left in the carton. More than enough for two. "Want some?" he asked, lifting the carton.

A sharply arched eyebrow was the only response. "I suspect that I'm going to bother you for more advice," Castiel said, ignoring the eggs.

"Really?" he asked. "What in this time?"

"Humans seem to prefer having a centralized location from which to plan their endeavors," Castiel said, cryptically. Or maybe it wasn't cryptic at all, and Castiel was just asking for his opinion on that.

"You mean a house or something?" Jack asked, half expecting to go without clarification.

"If you would," Castiel confirmed.

"Got a location in mind?"

"Jimmy seems to like Sunnydale. I'm there often enough that it seems sensible." Jack frowned. Where the hell was Sunnydale? Before he could ask, Castiel said, "California."

"So what are you going to do, buy a house?"

"Buy..?" Castiel blinked innocently. "Oh, yes. Buy. I suppose I need money for that."

"Get a place where you would be comfortable," Jack told him after starting his eggs. "Once you've got the money, of course."

He half expected Castiel to leave after that, but the... not-an-angel sat at his table for nearly twenty minutes longer, before stating enigmatically that he was "being careful", and that Hell is not a place one wants to visit while inebriated. Then he was gone, and Jack worked up in his head what his report was going to consist of this time.

Jack mostly wondered if "Hell" was literal or not. "And that," he said to the empty kitchen, "says everything about my life these days."



Author's Extra: Sorry it took so long to get this out. Heh heh. I feel like this chapter's a bit disjointed, but I've had a not so good week, so... yeah. Anyway, as always, reviews encourage faster (and sometimes better) writing. :)

Next Time: Uhm... O.o Oh god. Are you looking at me??? *has dropped the bloody cue*
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