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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
KagekoFR15652,5951133,7447 Oct 1219 Nov 12No

Chapter One: Commands of God

Title: Heaven's Descent: Commands of God

Rating: Teen or so?

Characters/Pairing(s): Cas, Jimmy (SPN), Jack, Daniel (SG1), Jesse, Cordelia (BtVS)

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.

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.

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

Author's Note: Everyone else seems to have a so-and-so got sent to the past somehow and changes things, often for the better, or weirder. I don't know where I'm going with this, only I'm getting tired of seeing Cas getting stabbed in the butt with the short straw.

Chapter 01: Commands of God

~@~

In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.

As His voice echoed throughout the gray, so very young universe, with his first command, "LET THERE BE LIGHT", the first angels were born, in batches, in pairs, and sometimes singly in spots of bright luminescence. Each angel knew its name and its purpose immediately, and sang with joy at existing. The angels drew together, over time, and carried out their first order...

The cosmos, devoid of anything but chaos at that point, shuddered. The First War had begun.

~@~

The new angel sang. It sang with joy, at first, tremulous strands of song leaking out into the empty gray surrounding its being. Greatly distant, other lights also sang, but the lone angel didn't hear them; it was lost in its own song.

The angel's voice was sweet and gentle, and for a short span of time (the fluttering of a heartbeat, or perhaps several years) just singing was enough to allow it to remain happy. Soon, however, it realized that it was completely alone. It couldn't serve its purpose alone, could it? Its song took on a note of fear.

~@~

The angel's voice was sweet and rough. It still sang, voice having gone hoarse with time (no mere heartbeats, more like centuries, millennia). It still knew joy at its existence. It also knew the terrible pain of loneliness. Its song ripped through the gray of the cosmos, the raw desperation in its voice kept away the miasmas of chaos, and its own personal light never faltered, only grew brighter the longer it was alone.

Castiel, like all of the other angels, knew that part of his purpose was to bring light and order to the cosmos. Even alone, he would do his best to fulfill that purpose, until He spoke again, giving Castiel further purpose.


~@~

Castiel contemplated the past, his own creation, even as he contemplated the concept of Free Will… and his current orders. He had actually begun to grow used to having to figure things out on his own. After his disobedience, and his destruction and mysterious resurrection, he had rather begun to think he was truly falling, becoming human.

Even now, it wasn't just his superiors who recognized a huge change in him. Uriel asked him if he was going to make like Haniel and tear out his Grace, and Fall, just like her.

Castiel didn't want to Fall. And he certainly didn't want to give Lucifer the satisfaction of seeing him falter... He would just have to accept this "gift" as a test of faith. There had been something Divine affecting the curse, Castiel was certain, because, even as he had been flicked fifteen years into the past, Castiel had received Revelation for the first time since he had been cut off from the Host.

He had been given orders. It had been only one word, but it had felt so much like his very first order... One word, it had been "CHOOSE."

~@~

Sam had said yes, and Lucifer was now at his most powerful. He couldn't give Dean his brother back, but he could interrupt them, Lucifer and Michael. He could interrupt them, and give Dean a chance to do something to change how horribly wrong things were going. So he threw his Molotov Cocktail, watched Michael disappear with a shriek of pain.

He knew exactly what Lucifer was going to do to him for it, too. Lucifer's face (Sam's face) twisted and he snapped his fingers. For the second time, Castiel's body came apart beneath the Will of an archangel.

~@~

"
CHOOSE." A great voice thundered through Castiel's pain. His minute remaining Grace was bundled up with care, and he wasn't aware again, even as time rewound itself, until...

Castiel was unable to stop until he rocketed right into his own body. His own golden wings, and the blessed innocence that he had been, blasted into pieces around him. His original self had been completely destroyed. Blackened wings, charred by hellfire, lifted to either side of him, in shock. Uriel, his most constant companion, backed away, unable to comprehend what had just happened.

All of Heaven shuddered, unable to comprehend the significance of what had just happened.

Days later, Castiel received Revelation again. In the collective voice of his highest superiors, he again heard the order. "Castiel, choose."

He asked then, "What am I supposed to choose?" He hadn't really expected a response.

"You are granted Free Will."

He was to receive no more orders.


~@~

Mocking laughter echoed in Castiel's mind, sounding like Sam at his worst, and he raised his hands to his head to try and block it out, and was startled when a nearby presence made its own shock known. "Holy shit! It moved!" The sound of guns coming up accompanied the surprised voice, and Castiel raised his head to eye the interrupting party. Several automatic rifles were already aimed in his direction, but Castiel was more interested in the humans wielding them than the weapons themselves. To think that man's weapons would harm him now... It wasn't enough to make him laugh.

They were from Earth. Castiel wasn't currently on Earth. He cocked his head at them thoughtfully. He had left Earth to think, after his initial attempt to talk to Dean. It had felt like being banished, only worse, in some ways. Mere banishment was rarely so painful, and although Castiel had learned to accept pain along with his waning Grace, he had never felt it at such a level.

If the man forefront of the others hadn't strongly resembled Dean (far older, and more responsible, probably), he likely wouldn't have followed them back to whence they came. However, it almost felt necessary that he do so.

Perhaps... perhaps Castiel could gain allies.

~@~

Ping! Jack sighed with relief as they finally lost the creepily competent traveling salesman. Because, you know, if he got to another planet, he was definitely good at his job. Too good at his job. Suspiciously good at his job. Creepy, really. Behind him, an unfamiliar voice muttered in a dead language something about Pandora (the only word Jack recognized, and he kind of thought that the language might be Greek). Jack turned to see that, no, they hadn't actually lost the traveling salesman. Jack scowled at the stranger. "Uh, Daniel... Be a good boy and tell me what the hell our tagalong just said. I think I heard something about Pandora's Box?"

Beside him, Daniel grimaced. "Ancient Greek, I think." Then he turned around to confront the man, on whom the entire SGC guard contingent had sighted in their rifles. Slowly, before gaining confidence, Daniel began to speak, his face scrunched up in concentration.

And Jack didn't understand a word, but apparently the man standing before the gate had. Louder, and more clearly, he repeated the same words from before. Again, the only thing Jack actually understood was "Pandora". This seemed to signal the start of a complex dialogue between Daniel and the strange man.

Jack glanced at his watch before studying the man again. Mobile, he didn't look much different than he had when they'd found him sitting like the "thinking man" statue. Bright blue eyes, an unnerving stare and a jaw that looked like it had been in need of a razor for days. The eyes had been shadowed before, as though he'd been looking so far inward that there was no more light in them. Now, they just about glowed with interest in what was at hand. It made Jack uncomfortable. "So, Daniel... What is he saying?"

Daniel shushed him animatedly. "I think I'm getting to the good part..." Then he said something that sounded like a question, and the man tipped his head slightly to the side, with the same unperturbed expression that he'd had throughout the entire ordeal. Then he answered, in several short words, and returned his gaze to the gate. Daniel frowned for a moment, as though the response hadn't been what he had been hoping for, and then sighed. "Okay... To answer your first question, Jack, he was... saying that it never ceases to amaze him how Pandora's curse has become so... thoroughly entrenched in humanity."

"I take it that there was more to it?" Jack pursed his lips, glaring at the intruder. He made no threatening motions, just continued to study the gate's locking mechanism as though it held all the answers to the most important questions in life. Jack knew that the locking mechanism held no such answers. He had scrutinized it often enough himself that he knew better than to think it did.

"Uhm..." Daniel shrugged and pushed his glasses back up his nose. "Well, he implied that we have a lot more curses than that, on us... and... I think he thinks that Self Determination is a curse."

"Only during hockey season," Jack replied before he could help himself. The strange man turned and gave him this intense and inscrutable look. It only made the man creepier in Jack's mind. It felt like his head was being opened up and scrutinized. He shrugged and continued without thinking about what he was saying, "Right. Anyway... So, could you," he waved Daniel's attention back toward the man who still stood just before the gate's locking mechanism, "ask him just what the hell he is? Maybe get a name?" Yeah, so that Jack could stop thinking of him as the "creepy traveling salesman".

Only a few words were out of Daniel's mouth before the man interrupted with, "Castiel."

"Was that a name, or a what?" Jack prodded.

Daniel let out a frustrated sigh. "That was, as far as I can tell, a name. He's getting less than forthcoming."

Jack frowned thoughtfully at the places that Sam and Teal'c were supposed to be. It was a bit of a wonder that he hadn't noticed their departure. "Well, uhm... I guess you should... continue with your questioning. Get these guys to dump him in a cell or something. Call General Hammond. I'm sure he'll know what to do about this." He shrugged as he walked down the ramp, away from creepy Castiel, and away from Daniel, who didn't look too happy about Jack's decision to make like a tree.

If asked, later, Jack would tell Hammond quite adamantly that it was not his fault. After all, he had warned them, over the radio, to close the iris once all of SG-1 was through the gate... And they had. It wasn't his fault that traveling salesmen don't know when to quit.

~@~

Castiel stared thoughtfully through the mirrored glass wall. He suspected that the humans on the other side didn't realize that he could see them, just like they didn't seem to realize that he spoke English better than any of them. Of course, that was just him being cautious. Dean would be surprised that Castiel took what he said so seriously, but Dean hadn't realized that he had become the one and only other person that Castiel could truly respect. Even if he lost a bit of that toward the end...

Of course, he took Dean's words seriously. When you get thrown into a weird situation, especially with official looking people, play dumb. Pretend not to know English, or something. You'd be surprised what people will say around someone that they think doesn't understand them.

These humans were under the impression that Castiel would calmly remain where he was, indefinitely. They were right that he would remain calm. However, staying put was not on his to-do list. These "NID" persons were abominably arrogant. To think that they could hold an angel...

Not that he had told them what he was. Perhaps, if Dr. Jackson asked again, he would tell him, but as it was, Castiel felt like being mulish about it. And there was another piece of wisdom that he had picked up from Dean.

Don't tell people more than you have to about yourself, Cas, learn to be stingy. It's not like you can take it back once you say it. And not everyone needs to know that you're a damn "Angel of the Lord!"

The plain interrogation chamber that they thought would hold him was growing rapidly more boring (this didn't use to be a problem for Castiel. He could out wait glaciers, if necessary). He flattened a hand out on the table that they had sat him at, and was surprised at the energy he felt from the table. Castiel eyed the plain white plastic top warily. It was heavy with the energies of others, being held and interrogated, like they obviously intended to do with him. His eyes focused on the nearest human on the other side of the mirrored glass and his lips turned minutely downward.

Interesting. Castiel felt through the auras attached to the tabletop, his frown growing as he went along.

There were feelings of terror mixed with a pervasive sense of mismanaged justice, and images of meetings, many many meetings, and interrogations... His gaze intensified on the human, even as he drew his finger across the same three inches of plastic for the fifteenth time. The human was sweating profusely.

The young man fingered his collar and shifted uncomfortably. Then he turned to the man sitting in the chair next to him. Castiel watched his lips move as he told the other man, "Seriously, he's creeping me out. I'm just going to move... over here." He watched as the young man moved to the other side of his colleague.

When he again turned to face Castiel, it was to lock gazes with him. It was interesting, again, to watch the color completely drain from the young man's face. Castiel's lips quirked into a very slight smile. "I'm done here," he murmured, sticking to the Greek that he'd used when speaking with Dr. Jackson.

Then he took his leave.

~@~

Daniel thought he could just die. He hated inhaling coffee, and having their strange visitor from earlier reappear at his elbow after NID had made off with him... And by "reappear", Daniel really meant "appear out of thin air". So, yeah, he was inhaling coffee, choking, and nearly dieing. "Damnit," he sputtered, and tried to get a decent amount of air into his lungs. Castiel merely quirked an eyebrow and patiently waited out the fit. Daniel wondered how many times the... being had done that to people. "What brings you back?" he asked, wincing when he accidentally used a slightly different dialect of Ancient Greek than when he had last spoken with the... being; whatever he was.

"I grew bored," Castiel replied, not batting an eyelash. "There is more of interest over here," he continued, eying Daniel sidelong. "You speak another dialect. "

So, he had noticed. Daniel chuckled. "I had assumed, earlier, that that was the only one you would know. Do you know any others?"

"Many. I once heard a joke about assumptions." Castiel turned to gaze about the mess hall. The many heads turned their way didn't seem to faze him in the slightest. Maybe he was used to receiving so many weird looks.

Daniel waited a moment for him to continue, and once it was apparent that he wasn't going to, he prodded. "What was the joke?"

"Not funny," Castiel replied with a shrug. "It doesn't suit this language, anyway."

It was quite possible, Daniel realized, that he had found Jack's complete opposite. If Jack had a joke, it would be out before it could be censored. In fact, it might be out before Jack even knew he had it. That Castiel would mention a joke, and then not tell it, almost made Daniel's Inner-Jack-Voice squeal with rage. Daniel also wondered what other languages Castiel knew. If he knew Ancient Greek... perhaps he knew Ancient Egyptian. Without warning Castiel, he switched over to Ancient Egyptian. "What language does it suit?"

Again, Castiel didn't skip a beat, and he replied in kind. "Certainly not this one. You are aware that you've stained yourself?"

"Coffee?" Daniel looked down, and sure enough, there was coffee on his shirt from his spit-take. He switched to modern Russian. "I'll change out of it, soon enough. It's the end of my day, you know. What were you doing there, anyway, when we found you?" He absently patted at it with a paper napkin.

"Thinking about things long unremembered. You are a linguist?" Castiel's enunciation was as perfect in Russian as in Greek and Egyptian. It was far better than Daniel's, even.

Daniel figured that he was just going to have to try harder. After all, there's always room for improvement. "It's one of the things I do," Daniel replied in Latin. "I've always enjoyed languages. How do you know so many?"

"I'm untouched by most of the curses of humans, and have been around for a very long time ," Castiel murmured, Latin perfect as well.

"And you haven't offered our guest something to drink, Daniel?" Jack's voice called from nearby, a bare second before he was seated across from them, eying Castiel suspiciously. "I'd love to know how he got back here so quick. After all, NID had their claws in him."

Daniel pushed his glasses back, thoughtfully. "You know, I have no idea. I didn't exactly ask. How did you get back here?" He honestly wasn't expecting an answer when he used English.

"It would be difficult to explain," the being's gaze was sharp, and focused on Jack. "Although, I believe it would be more polite to speak directly to me, when asking questions."

To his credit, Jack didn't jump. Daniel did, a little, but Jack remained poised, in spite of the discomfort that Daniel could see. "What the Hell," Jack proclaimed, a scowl firmly set in place. "I thought you didn't speak English!"

As though intentionally mocking Jack, Castiel turned to Daniel. "It was in this language that I heard the joke about assumptions." His tone was almost absurdly grave, as was the expression in his eyes.

Daniel barely had to think about it, and the timing was just perfect. ASS-U-ME. He almost toppled out of his chair sideways with a loud whoop. Instead he ended up collapsed ungracefully against the table.

He could barely hear Castiel talking to Jack. "Is it really that funny?"

"Only when it's true," Jack replied drolly. "Unfortunately, in this case, it's true." Then Jack sighed. "I don't suppose you realize how much trouble you could be stirring up just by being here, huh?"

A sudden chill stopped Daniel's laughing fit in its tracks. He sat back up, and watched Castiel's face as the... man..? entity..? seemed to think about what he was going to say. Eventually, Castiel frowned across the table at Jack. "I am causing you discomfort?" It sounded like a revelation.

Daniel tried not to wince when Jack replied. "A lot of it. Obviously NID can't keep you, and you know I wasn't sure if they could from the start, what with you getting past the iris on the gate... How did you do that, anyhow?"

"With some discomfort," Castiel answered dryly.

"You actually hit it, didn't you?" Jack looked a little more disconcerted. "That's what I thought when I heard that noise, and then you were there talking about Pandora... I thought it might have been my imagination."

"One inch of titanium," Castiel murmured. "It would be enough to keep most corporeal creatures from entering this place against your will."

"Most," Daniel stared. "You said 'most corporeal creatures'. What about incorporeal creatures?"

Jack stared as well. "Christ! You aren't saying you're a ghost, are you?"

With a sharp look at Jack, and Daniel was sure somehow that it was in response to the initial exclamation, Castiel replied. "I am not a ghost." And he seemed amused by the fact.

"Then what are you?" Daniel cut off Jack before he could say anything else.

This time the sharp look was turned on Daniel. "My name is enough." Something in the gruff tone indicated displeasure with the question.

Daniel blinked and Castiel was gone. Opposite him, Jack groaned. "I don't like it when anything disappears that easily."

"Yeah, well... At least you weren't here when he first appeared."

Jack agreed vehemently.

~@~

It was a while before they saw Castiel again. Jack was relieved. After Daniel told him about how the guy had just appeared at his elbow in the mess hall, Jack had been worried that Castiel might pull the same stunt on him. He'd been worried about it for about a week before he gave up and put that worry on other, more deserving things.

It wasn't that Jack had forgotten the incident. In fact, he was under orders to report if he came into contact with the entity again. But after a month or so, it had become rather unimportant. There always were weird goings on at the SGC, so the thing with Castiel had gone onto a back burner in his mind.

Now, Jack had a little time off, a few days in town, and the weather was lovely, too nice not to take advantage of. So he went to the park. He'd start off with a little jogging, and then he'd go back and have himself a little PB and J, maybe a beer or two, and take a nap in the sun. The park was mostly empty, and Jack preferred it that way as he jogged along one of several winding paths that went into the cool shade under the trees.

He nearly tripped over his own feet when he saw Castiel sitting on a bench along his current path.

Warily, he trotted over to the bench, and when Castiel didn't react to his presence Jack was surprised to recognize the pose as the same one he had initially seen the... entity in. He decided to break the ice with "You do know you're creepy, right?" He wasn't surprised that Castiel didn't so much as flicker an eyelash in reply. "If you stay here long enough, you're going to really freak out some kids, maybe a policeman. If you're lucky, it'll be a gangster."

He sighed and paced around the bench, wondering if he should wait around to see if Castiel was going to come down from wherever he was. It was more fun to attempt to harass the silent statue when the others were there with him.

Jack eventually chose to sit next to Castiel and wait. He wasn't about to wait silently, nor was he going to wait all that long, but he really did want to talk to him again. Creepy as it was, talking with Castiel had been interesting, and somewhat entertaining. And it wasn't like Jack had anything else to do today.

Ten minutes later, in the middle of Stupid Story #10, a silly thing about a hydrophobic dog and a cat chasing it into the surf, Castiel raised his bright eyes to meet Jack's, and once the words stopped flowing, in slowing spurts, from Jack's mouth, he spoke. "When did you realize that you had become an adult?"

Jack wasn't used to people catching him off guard so easily. He stared, he blinked, he worked his jaw, but no words came out. Castiel waited patiently, with an odd birdlike tilt to his head, his eyes as earnest as those of a child. It was kind of like when Charlie... Jack shook his head. He wasn't going to let his thoughts go there. "You. Are. Strange. Is there a reason for this question, or are you just screwing with me?"

"It is a legitimate question. From what I understand, and I've come to realize that I don't understand as much as I thought I did, humans aren't considered adult until they are capable of taking responsibility for their own actions." Castiel's gaze remained intent, but the brief resemblance to Charlie had disintegrated with his words. "I realize that there is a specific age at which they are assumed to be so, but that it isn't always the case." The speech was weighted in a way that Jack wasn't sure he understood.

"I had it on a trial period," Jack said, deadpan. "When I joined the military, it was confiscated, just like my bunkmate's magazines."

Castiel surprised him by pulling a face. "You are just like that man," he sighed, shaking his head. "A serious question is not meant to be answered directly, by his philosophy." Castiel moved forward on the bench to lean forward and stare at the ground.

Jack shrugged his shoulders. "I may not be willing to answer, but I'm willing to listen." He studied Castiel's bowed head, with its messy dark brown hair. He couldn't see the entity's eyes at the moment, but remembered them as being blue; a bright, crystalline blue. "There had to be a reason for you to ask the question, even if I didn't answer it well enough for you."

"I have recently realized such for myself." The tone was as gruff and flat as before, but somehow, the words sounded pained. "The consequences of my actions truly are mine to face. Responsibility is mine to take. And there are some things that still cannot be changed." Now Jack could swear that he heard anger. Castiel frowned up at him, though his crystal blue eyes remained inscrutable. It was character trait that was really starting to bother Jack. "This is not your burden to bear." Then he turned his eyes to look out at the park, and away from Jack again.

"Maybe not, but there's always the chance that I may be able to help," Jack offered. People who refused help when they needed it also bothered him. "Not sure how, but... What actions?" Because really, how could one figure out consequences and how to deal with them if one doesn't know what caused them?

But Castiel shook his head again. "There is little you would be able to do. And the information you ask for..." Castiel sighed. "I am under a geis, and there are things I cannot speak of, though I would. What I can say is this: I have been given a gift and curse of foresight. While I have knowledge of what is to come to pass, I can only interfere in things that will not affect one specific aspect of the future. It is unfortunate that this aspect is what I most wish to interfere with."

Jack was silent for a long moment. "That's heavy." Of course, it had to be heavy, if it was wearing down this non-human entity. "On a side note: is there a reason you wouldn't tell me and Daniel what you are?"

"It would not change things, for better or worse," Castiel allowed. "There is little point in saying it." His eyes closed and a slight frown crossed his face. "No," a headshake, "there is a point. I just don't want to say it."

"Ooh kay," Jack muttered. "Is there anything you actually want to say?" Somehow, he kind of doubted it. In fact, his doubt was proven right when he blinked, because when he opened his eyes, Castiel was gone. He frowned at the empty space that the entity had left behind, thoughtful. "Oh, right," he grumbled, "I have to report this, don't I?"

~@~

Castiel kind of knew what he needed to do. He needed to find a way to prevent the apocalypse. Or, in lieu of that, find a way for the apocalypse to go well. Unlikely, true, but he thought that that was what he was being given the chance to do. Unfortunately, he'd discovered some of his limits while trying to plan.

He couldn't see Dean. Well, this wasn't actually technically true. He could see Dean. He could watch Dean. He could watch Dean, terribly young, and surprisingly naïve, talk a girl he barely knew out of her pants with her parents only a single room away. He couldn't talk to Dean. He couldn't interfere with Dean. Or Sam, for that matter. Or Bobby.

Sam, of course, was all teenaged awkwardness and legs, and quite shorter than he had been when Castiel had last seen him. And his soul... his soul was so much lighter. In a way, he was just like Dean, sweet, naïve, innocent...

It hurt Castiel to watch them, knowing he couldn't interfere. Knowing that, by not interfering, he may as well be condemning them to growing just as bitter as he knew they were when he met them; condemning them to a future in which Dean wanted to die. Dean had been so tired, as long as Castiel had known him.

There were others, Castiel found, that he couldn't interfere in the lives of. There were so many people that affected Sam and Dean in their paths, and Castiel often didn't know who they were until the geis constricted around him, tightening his throat and not even allowing him to speak. Even when he had tried to speak to Jack, he had felt the chains tightening painfully in his Grace. The only thing he could think of as to why it had occurred was that Jack, upon gaining Castiel's knowledge, would have attempted interference as well.

Of course, that just presented him with more difficulties. Perhaps he should seek advice again. Talking to Jack had been a lot like talking to Dean. He had enjoyed their previous conversation, until his thoughts boiled up to a point where leaving was the better alternative to returning to the state in which Jack had found him.

~@~

Jack O'Neil had been seated at a desk, in a dull little room, reluctantly pursuing copious amounts of paperwork when Castiel found him. He was also deep within the belly of the earth, under a mountain commonly referred to, by humans, as Cheyenne Mountain. The inhabitants thought of the place as the SGC, or Star Gate Command. Not that Castiel hadn't already been in this facility before. He just hadn't been in this part of the facility.

The office wasn't spacious. It was narrow and cramped, and barely seemed to have enough room for the desk and the papers strewn across it, much less the man behind it. Castiel supposed that Dean would have been just as disgruntled in that position as Jack was. He considered whether or not to interrupt the man.

After thirteen minutes of internal deliberation, he concluded that Jack would probably be grateful for an interruption of almost any sort. Not that Castiel would be interrupting anything. Jack was mostly just staring at the paper in front of him, bopping the end of his pen against it, eyes unfocused. He hadn't even looked up once in the time that Castiel had been in the room.

Castiel cocked his head slightly, just before opening his mouth to speak. "I have another question for you," he said, voice soft. He had been hoping to avoid startling the man, but had failed rather spectacularly. Jack flailed for a moment, eyes wide and darting, before dramatically holding his hands to his chest as though having a heart attack.

-"Knocking, Cas, ever hear of it?"-

"Damnit, don't do that!" Jack's tone would have matched Dean's in any number of similar situations.

Castiel frowned. "I should have knocked?" He hadn't meant for that to be a question, but it seemed appropriate once stated as such. He nodded thoughtfully. Corporeal beings tended to listen for corporeal signs that they were not alone. Knocking in the future would perhaps be wise.

"Well, duh, yeah." Jack scowled. Again, it was something that Castiel would have expected of Dean. Jack directed his scowl at the paper that he had not been looking at and dropped his pen with a sigh. He then folded his hands together and looked expectantly at Castiel. "Well? Fire away."

Castiel hesitated. "I..." Now he wasn't even sure what it was he wanted to ask. "You seem well grounded," he stated. His eyebrows furrowed.

"What me are you looking at?" was the sardonic reply. Jack shuffled the papers on the desk restlessly. "That didn't really sound like a question, though." He raised an eyebrow in query. "You do have one, right?"

"Saying a 'question' was possibly misleading," Castiel allowed, with one short nod. "It is more that I come seeking advice."

After a long moment of silence, Jack began shuffling his papers again, possibly in an attempt to hide his confusion. "Well? Out with it."

"I have rarely had the... opportunity to be alone." This was not quite the truth. Castiel had only ever been truly alone recently (not counting when he had originally come into being). He paused for a moment, his gaze even with that of the human. "It is something that seems to remain a constant for humans, however." The man shifted uncomfortably in his seat and waited for Castiel to continue. "My kind are not meant for this condition, I fear." And he did; fear it, that is. While he did feel immeasurably better than he had been getting before, he still felt rather hollow. Before, it had felt like slowly dying in excruciating pain. By comparison, his current condition was... healthy.

The tip of Jack's pen bobbed in the air for a moment, before coming to rest against the man's lips. "How typical are you of your kind, Cas?"

Both the question and the truncated version of his name caught Castiel off guard. "Rather not," he replied in what he hoped was a dry tone, meant to disguise the fact that Jack had unsettled him greatly. "That is as should be."

"Are there others similar to you?"

And that also was unsettling to think about. "Technically," he acknowledged. He wasn't even sure if he was Fallen, anymore. He certainly had his Grace, and he wasn't cast out, but Heaven hadn't felt right anymore.

"Well, if you can't stand being alone, and you can't talk to most of your kind," Jack shrugged, "then shouldn't you at least try to talk to the ones closest to you?" While Castiel soaked up that thought, Jack's eyes rose toward the camera embedded in the ceiling, and he mused, "I wonder if I can write this off as Divine Intervention?"

"If you wish," Castiel replied absently. Fallen or not, the Fallen were probably the closest Castiel would be able to find to himself. Seeing things as he had, Castiel certainly had more of an understanding of what the Fallen were. After all, hadn't he been Falling? It was possible that many of the Fallen would be similar to him. It was also more than likely that they were cast out for far greater crimes than Castiel's own.

Jack's eyes were narrowed on him when he looked back up. "That's some pretty heavy consideration, there. What's to think about? You either go or don't go, right?" He shrugged eloquently. "There's no need to agonize over it. This is coming from someone who knows. Besides, if it's important, you kind of have to, right?"

Jack O'Neil had a very good point. If nothing else, this was very important, to Castiel, at least, if not the whole world.

~@~

If I was one of the Fallen of Old, where would I hide? Castiel was so high above the earth, looking down, that the horizon curled in on itself, spherically. From his viewpoint, it was not quite a full sphere, not unless he turned in place, but it was still quite spectacular. Unfortunately, even viewing almost the entirety of North America didn't solve his dilemma.

Gabriel, he rather thought, would be one of the easiest to talk to. Somehow, the idea of speaking to Gabriel, even in light of his brother's sacrifice (perhaps especially in light of), wasn't appealing. Haniel was out of the question, no matter how close they had been in the past. She was human now, and a small child, at that. They were the only two Fallen (Gabriel was only on a technicality) that he had personally known, and he couldn't bring himself to try to go and see either of them.

Another Fallen that could be easily struck from his list was Azazel. Not that he particularly knew what the demon was up to around this time, anyway. Of course, the only thing he wanted with Azazel was to smite him. Although, judging by his previous lack of success in speaking to Dean, he doubted his own ability to do that.

But the first to Fall... that had always been Kushiel, hadn't it? Castiel didn't particularly wish to see the Punisher, either. Actually, the thought made him psychosomatically queasy. Even before the War Kushiel had been a rather frightening presence to the angels, Castiel included. It had been universally agreed that he had been tainted by the miasmas, and that that was the reason behind his apparent insanity.

Castiel could barely recall the few meetings he had had with Kushiel. At the time, he had been running errands, too new to the more organized garrisons for them to make much better use of his presence. He had been noted, and summarily dismissed from mind as the news he brought had been far more important than him. Castiel highly doubted that Kushiel would even remember him as being anything other than an errand runner.

One large reason, aside from Kushiel's apparent insanity, that Castiel would rather not see Kushiel was the fact that Kushiel resided just inside the gates of Hell, and had since before the War and the Great Fall. Castiel had already been in Hell once. He certainly didn't look forward to going there again. Just like seeing Kushiel, the thought of returning to Hell made Castiel queasy.

On the other hand, even getting into Hell, for an angel, is a big thing. The easiest entrance was, oddly enough, in Heaven itself. There was no way Castiel wanted Heaven to know what he was doing or even that he was doing anything. That meant that going to Heaven to get to Hell wasn't going to happen.

There were other routes, of course, but the further from Heaven they lay, the more difficult the passage. From Earth... Earth was a halfway point. There were several routes from Earth to Hell that Castiel knew of. Knowing of them, however, didn't mean that he knew where each one lay.

Castiel scanned the planet beneath him, north to south, and again, looking for inconsistencies in Earth's energies. On the North American continent, further north than the northernmost part of the Gulf of Mexico, lying very close to the Pacific Ocean, was a likely looking place. From so high, it barely looked like anything, but there was a human town there. He decided to take a look from a closer perspective.

~@~

Jesse had gotten pretty far ahead of Xander and Willow. They called out for him to slow down, but he took a perverse glee in pedaling harder. Even if he stopped now, it would take them a minute or two to catch up. He laughed breathlessly as he sped around a corner and took in the straight stretch just across the street from the High School. He tucked his chin down to his chest as he focused on pouring his energy into his legs.

Perhaps this is why he didn't see the man standing in the middle of the sidewalk.

His wheels jerked to a stop as he collided with the bystander and he vaulted head first into the beige trench coat the man was wearing. It was as though he'd hit a brick wall. Then he tumbled down to the pavement, a bit worse for wear. He was still shaking the stars from his eyes when he felt a pair of large, adult hands checking his head for injury. A gruff voice was apologizing from somewhere above him, with something like "I should have seen you", and Jesse wanted to tell the voice to "shut up", because he doubted it was the man's fault.

When he looked up, he saw earnest blue eyes and a worried frown on a fairly pleasant face. Just beyond the face, there was a weird glow.

Jesse shook his head again. "Uhn, sorry. Wasn't lookin' where I was going." When he looked back up at the man, the glow was still there. His brow furrowed. "What? Why are you glo...?" He cut himself off. You don't ask questions like that in Sunnydale. "Sorry," he continued, trying to sound appropriately sincere. "I don't see no glow."

~@~

Somewhere, in another part of Sunnydale, Mayor Wilkins was in a panicked frenzy over the fact that all of the wards he had set over the town were shredded, and in some cases, causing small house fires. Something had ripped through the wards like a jet plane through a spider web, and the mayor was very very worried as to what that might signify.

Also, very like the spider, Mayor Wilkins was angry about all of that hard work wasted, by what he could only classify as an Act of God. And he dearly hoped that that wasn't the case.

~@~

The child had moved on, his slightly damaged bicycle making it easier for his friends to keep up with him. Castiel stood in the same place he had been when the bicycle had hit him. He really should have been paying more attention to the place he was going to appear in. If he had been, the child would have had a near miss instead of a collision. The fact that the child could tell what he was, even to such a vague extent as Castiel's "glow", indicated that he was a vessel.

Castiel wondered if he should keep an eye on Jesse.

Not that this was an immediate concern. Castiel's immediate concern was about five hundred feet forward and almost as much distance down, directly underneath a school. Sometimes he wondered where the justice in this world was. The Hellmouth certainly couldn't have a good influence on the children of Sunnydale.

Going to Hell, non-physically of course, would require him to put his body somewhere. If he wanted to come back to a whole vessel, he had better leave it somewhere safe. A church, he decided. There were a lot of churches in Sunnydale, he noted. Almost as many churches as there were graveyards. Somehow, that seemed ominous.

~@~

After all that, Jimmy Novak was pretty sure that he shouldn't still be existing. Thinking back, he and his poor body had really gone through a lot. There was the stabbing, being shot, having the blood pumping out of his chest as an angel in his daughter's body spoke to him... Jimmy shuddered. At that point, Castiel was all too willing to let him die. Death would have been nice, even, but not at the price of his daughter going through the same pain as himself; the pain of being an angel's vessel.

He understood Castiel's motives a lot better now than he had then. In fact, he understood them just as well as Castiel did. Added to that, he understood them so well he may as well be Castiel; although after some thought, both he and Castiel had come to the conclusion that, in spite of everything that had happened, he was still Jimmy. Actually, Jimmy still kind of doubted that.

Twiddling his thumbs in a small church in Bumf**k California was not really his idea of a good time. It really sucked having to wait in one spot for himself to come back.

Erh.

Of course, going through Armageddon as the Vessel of a dying angel was really something. Although, Jimmy still wasn't sure that he was the Vessel so much by that point. He felt as though he stopped being the Vessel when Raphael exploded him all over Chuck's living room. He couldn't remember having a single independent thought after that. He did remember everything that had happened though. He just thought that he was Castiel through it, is all.

Jimmy wondered if it was blasphemous to pity an angel.

He fidgeted in the pew, and wondered if it would be okay to go outside and get himself a spot of fresh air. This church that Castiel had found was obviously abandoned and had a bit of major dust build up. The entirety of the small stone chamber rang with the grating sound of the front door opening. The loud sound was followed by a small, very human sounding tap-tap of someone stepping inside.

Jimmy-not-Castiel looked up as the door grated shut behind a young girl in a bright blue dress. It was already dark outside, though still quite warm. The heat actually made him rather uncomfortable. Without "angel-air-conditioning" (as Dean liked to call these things), his winter clothes were a little too much for Southern California.

Erh.

The young girl, not quite prepubescent, probably about fourteen or fifteen years old, stared at him in confusion. "There's never anyone here," she said. She almost sounded offended.

Jimmy gave her what he thought was a charming smile and shrugged. "Sorry, I'm just waiting for someone."

She sat down next to him and eyed him sidelong. "How long've you been waiting?"

"About an hour, so far." He kept his smile, even though he was worried about Cas. One hour was Hell equivalent of what? Five days? He bit his lip and chewed at it. "It shouldn't be too much longer, surely." Although, now that he thought about it, a young girl in an abandoned church after dark struck some alarm bells in his head. "Why are you out so late, miss?"

The girl smiled shyly and pushed her hair over one shoulder. "It's not safe to walk alone after dark. I thought this would be a safer place."

Sunnydale sure did have an awful lot of cemeteries. He could see where her conclusion stemmed from. "Abandoned churches aren't much better at night, miss." No matter if an angel was supposed to be coming back soon.

"I'm Cordelia Chase." She fidgeted in the pew for a moment. "What's your name?"

He thought for a moment, forcing down the first thing that wanted to come out, instead replying with "Jimmy Novak."

"That's a cool name," she said thoughtfully. She brightened up considerably. "So, what do you do for a living?"

Jimmy didn't think that selling radio space was an interesting topic of conversation for a young girl, but she's the one that started talking stock market on him. Stock market was a topic Jimmy could talk with gusto, and it had usually bored both Amelia and Claire to death. No matter how interesting he and Cordelia found the topic, however, Jimmy would still occasionally glance at his watch. The time that passed grated his nerves increasingly. At two hours, he rather thought that it must have been over a week where Cas was. On the third hour, he knew that it had been two.

Three and a half hours had passed before a noise other than their voices was heard. It was the front door of the church again. When it clanged shut, there was a dark figure standing beneath the door's arches. As the figure looked up at them, Jimmy felt an annoying sinking feeling in his chest. It wasn't human.

Miss Chase sunk down in the pew against him, her brows knotted in worry. Jimmy wasn't sure if she knew what the creature was, but she seemed to have a child's instincts for what is safe and what isn't. The thing in the door was obviously not safe. Jimmy sighed and tried to think of an action plan. It wasn't really his area of ability, or knowledge, really. Demons and monsters and such were not part of the Novak family lifestyle, not like it was with the Winchesters. Anything Jimmy knew and was capable of was peripheral. It came as a result of possibly semi-merging with Castiel.

At least, that's what he was telling himself. It didn't mean that he wasn't capable of some things. He was pretty sure he knew how to deal with demons. He was also sure of his Latin, which he hadn't really known pre-Cas. But handling a demon without proper supplies? He wasn't so sure about that.

The creature at the door seemed to sense that it was being sized up, and cheerfully bared an impressive set of very sharp teeth. It eyed Miss Chase up and down, still grinning, and then focused on Jimmy. "Pedophilia, in a church no less," it remarked. "Classy."

Jimmy felt his face heat up with a disgusted sort of anger, but Miss Chase leapt out of her seat, immediately yelling. "How dare you!?" she howled. "How dare you?" She indicated her chest pointedly. "My bust is too impressive for a Lolita! And I do know what I'm talking about!"

His hands covered his expression, and Jimmy groaned. "Don't help, Miss Chase, please. You've only made it sound worse." A grimace crossed his face and he stood behind her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Now, please, you may as well tell me what you are." This was directed at the not-human presence.

"Oh?" It raised a brow in response. Then it laughed. "Well, aren't you perceptive for a pervert?"

Jimmy fought to straighten his face out of the contortion it was working itself into. It was like the demon, whatever it was, wanted to be smote. Too bad he couldn't provide. He had to settle for using a firm, controlled, tone when he spoke again, barely refraining from clenching his teeth tightly enough to crack them. "Again I ask, what are you?" Whatever it was, it was probably a danger to both Miss Chase and himself.

"You can't tell?" And it moved away from the doors, slowly walking down the main aisle before reaching their pew. "Vampire," it said and still grinned. Jimmy's heart sunk a little deeper. He didn't remember dealing with any vampires with Castiel, but he kind of remembered them to be pretty damned invincible.

Miss Chase was in front of him, he realized. That... well, it wasn't a good thing. She should be behind him, because that would give her a chance to hopefully beat feet while he tried to... commit creative suicide. Jimmy sighed. Life really, really liked throwing him a shit-storm. Seriously, he really should be dead by now. "Miss," he murmured, nudging her in the shoulder. "Perhaps you should get behind me. Run or something, while I try to do something?"

Miss Chase looked offended again, but when she was about to speak, she actually looked him in the eye. She was still for a thoughtful moment, while the vampire watched, and finally nodded. "Okay," she agreed.

Jimmy happily switched places with her, and sent a silent prayer for Castiel to hurry the hell up, because he wasn't sure at all of his being able to take care of this. He would try, though.

He would try.



Author's Extra: Yeah, the best thing I can do down here is beg for reviews. :) Seriously. I have about two and a half chapters of this one written, and I would just love to see enough interest to convince me to keep writing it. Initially, I was just going to post the part with Jimmy, as a short story, but well... you see how that went.

Next time: The Road Less Traveled (aka: Castiel in Wonderland) In which our intrepid hero seeks out his longest fallen brother, and things get metaphysically messy.
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