Sun streams down, heating the man's dark hair and pale skin. He knows he'll burn if he stays outside for too long, but he can't bring himself to care.
The air is dry and hot, and he stretches his arms out to either side until he feels muscles pull in resistance across his chest.
When he tunes out from the world and focuses on the light burn across his collarbone and tightness beneath his ribs he can almost remember what it was like to unfurl his wings. If he kept pulling at the limits of his frail body, could he someday find that kind of lightness again?
Maybe if he stretched and tugged in just the right way he would unfurl a bit of grace, hidden inside a joint or tucked between where muscle meets nerve; a secret piece of himself, cradled where it could burn out slowly in the dark.
Castiel shoved Dean, slumping over and trying in vain to back away from him and Bobby. “You need to run, now! I can't hold them back!”
“Hold who back?”
“They held on, inside me!”
“Dean! They're so strong,”
“I can't fight them, run...!”
Suddenly Castiel collapsed with a groan and all was still.
Dean's heart skipped a beat and he tried not to think about worst case scenarios- what the hell had just happened? Had Cas just come back from insanity only to be lost again, trying to win some internal war?
Just as Dean started sinking into despair and guilt at the idea of losing yet another friend, Cas started coughing. Dean let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding- coughing was a good sign, it meant Cas was alive.
Before he could make it over to help his friend to his feet (yet again), Castiel was standing and looking around.
“Cas?” Dean was cautious, hoping against hope that the worst was over. It looked like Cas had just fought off whatever had been trying to posess him- leviathans, he'd said?
Dean closed his eyes, turned his head away and willed himself not to snap this thing's neck- guess he'd been wrong. Maybe he'd luck out and whatever it was, it wouldn't try to kill him?
He cleared his throat and hoped for the best.
“'Castiel is' what, exactly? And who, or what the hell are you?”
Whatever was in front of Dean looked around the warehouse in confusion before settling his gaze back on him and shrugging.
“It's me- it's Jimmy.”
Dean stared as Jimmy looked at him in wonder.
“You're- what? How? What happened to whatever Cas was dealing with, what-”
“I don't know, Castiel must've-”
“No, no I know that son of a bitch did something alright,” Dean scrubbed a hand over his face in exasperation. “Just how-” he gestured at Jimmy, avoiding eye contact. “How are you even here, man? How were you still kickin around in Cas' meatsuit?”
Jimmy just shrugged.
Dean couldn't believe what he was seeing. Of all the things that could've- okay so he didn't really know what had even happened to Cas but Jimmy, really?
“I mean- Cas was blown to bits, right,? He doesn't even know how he came back from that, so how the hell did you manage to hitch a ride?”
“Not that we're complaining” Bobby cut in. “We're not angry to see you, boy, just...confused.” He glanced at Dean, expression unreadable. “Gotta say, you're a much nicer sight than those leviathans would've been, that's for sure.”
Dean shook his head. “Yeah, okay but...what the hell happened in there? Where is Cas, anyway?”
Jimmy sighed, rubbing a hand through his hair and glancing between the two other men and hesitating a bit before he spoke.
“Look, if it's all the same to you two, would you mind having this conversation in a more...” he gestured to the blood, gore and grime surrounding them, “...pleasant environment? I'm not exactly running on full either, you know.”
The three met up with Sam to make their way to Bobby's, and the younger Winchester tried to diffuse the awkward tension in the Impala by getting information out of Jimmy.
Dean just focused on driving. Sam wasn't really getting anywhere, anyway.
“So he's just...gone? Cas left the building?”
Jimmy scratched the back of his neck and shrugged. “Look, I don't know what to tell you guys- I can't really tell right now. It's not as if it's all me in here, anymore, hell, I don't know how I even survived whatever Cas pulled back there.” He closed his eyes and slumped back in the seat.
“I feel like- you know when you have an itch you really can't scratch? Like a really dull sort of deep itch, way below your skin, and no matter what you do, it won't go away?”
He turned to Sam. “That's kinda what I'm feeling right now. I mean, it's probably Cas, but who knows? What if it's just some leftover souls?”
Sam frowned. “Wait, wouldn't you know, though? I thought Cas always talked to you, communicated with you somehow?”
Jimmy made a face and shook his head. “We didn't really have conversations Sam, it was more like...” he waved a hand in exasperation. “A feeling, sort of? No, that's not right, it's...it's hard to explain.”
He ran a hand through his hair and shrugged. “No offense, but I don't think you'd really get it so let's just move on? Point is, he's probably still around if I am, I just don't know why he's not taking control like usual. Last time I was in charge he was MIA, so what's the deal?”
The car grew silent again as Jimmy slumped back in his seat and closed his eyes.
“I'm kinda exhausted though and it doesn't seem like Cas is going anywhere, so if you wouldn't mind...?”
Sam nodded vigorously. “No, you're right, get some sleep and we'll figure this whole thing out later. Everything seems to be ok for now, right Dean?”
Dean was sitting stiffly as he drove, resolutely not looking into the backseat. It was really, really weird to see Cas- no, Jimmy talking and acting so casual; Dean hadn't spoken to Cas on good terms in what felt like ages.
Even before he'd gone on his crazy power trip, their relationship had been...strained to say the least. How long had it been since they'd burned what Cas had told them were Crowley's bones? Dean didn't think he'd ever forget the flicker of holy fire flashing over Cas' face, the way he'd sounded when he told Dean to run, the last hurried glance they'd shared before he followed Bobby and Sam, leaving Cas behind to deal with the consequences of trying to ally with both demons and humans.
Dean gripped the wheel and swallowed, trying not to think about the secrets Cas had kept from him; the little pieces of his grand plan that he'd kept in the dark for so long. He couldn't remember the last time he'd even had a real conversation with Cas- in retrospect he probably should've know something was going on. Things had been tense and Cas hadn't been hanging around as much, probably too busy sneaking around with Crowley to spend time with the Winchesters. Dean tried not to analyze when Cas had first started getting distant, but it was hard not to. So much for thinking of him as family.
It was like Sam with the demon blood all over again- how long would the people he cared about lie to his face?
And now this whole mess with Jimmy- granted, it was better than some big nasty trying to claw everybody's faces off, but it still meant that Castiel was off who knows where. How long before he'd be able to talk to Cas again, face to face- would he ever?
The next few hours rolled by as Bobby slept in the passenger's seat and Sam fiddled with his laptop. Jimmy just sat, silently looking out the window and taking in the setting sun, and Dean tried not to glance back at him. The next few days weren't going to be easy, he could already tell- it was too weird having Jimmy around, a quiet presence in the background, so similar to but so different from Castiel.
Every time he saw how the dim light reflected off the other man's face, Dean felt a little pinch deep in his chest and had to look away. It was hard to keep from wondering if Castiel had ever watched the day end, with nothing on his mind but where the road was taking him.
Dean swallowed thickly and snapped his eyes back to the road. No, probably not. Who was he kidding- Cas had been too busy making deals with demons and pretending he was being honest with the Winchesters. Who could have time for shit like sunsets when they were busy keeping their lies straight?
He gripped the wheel tighter and drove on.