"'I couldn’t help being a little flattered; I still wasn’t used to being beautiful to everyone rather than just Edward-"
Lucifer howls in anguish, smashing his head against the table repeatedly until his skull splits open and his body slumps onto the ground.
Castiel flinches slightly at the sight; after suffering seven weeks with the devil, Castiel still sees Lucifer as a being both bright and terrible in his death. However temporary it will be.
"What's happening?" Garth asks, pausing in the middle of his reading. He looks hopeful as he starts to close the cover to Breaking Dawn.
"Lucifer is momentarily indisposed," Castiel informs him, turning away from the sight of his brother's brains sliding to the floor. He closes his eyes briefly, savoring the peace and distinct lack of fire around his bed. Sitting side-by-side in bed, he can feel Garth droop in relief. "You have my thanks."
"Glad it worked," Garth mutters, rubbing at this throat. "I just spent the past sixteen hours reading all the Twilight books, and I can't decide whether I want to sleep or just die."
"Sleep would be preferable," Castiel replies, shifting to give Garth more room to stretch out. "Lucifer is also taking a long reprieve from this 'novel.'"
Garth chuckles as he settles more comfortably under the covers. "He's probably sick of watching us cuddle, too. The goo-goo eyes you gave me during the wedding scene were a good touch. Were you actually tearing up, man?"
"I did no such thing," Castiel denies. "But the joining of two souls, despite doubts about their psychological stability, is a beautiful moment."
Garth sticks his hand under the pillow, pulling out Mr. Fizzles. "Even Mr. Fizzles hates Twilight."
"I prefer it to Lucifer's idea of entertainment." Castiel's eyes flicker over to the empty table. "Also, I am curious to see how domesticity treats Bella and Edward."
"Dean is gonna kill me," Garth groans, and Castiel laughs softly.
"Rest, Garth." His hand rests on the hunter's head gently. "Thank you."
FIVE WEEKS AGO
Garth doesn't usually take missing persons cases; murders are usually more clear-cut. He's been a hunter long enough to have developed a sense of which cases involve the freaky supernatural, and which ones are freaky, but human.
This latest case, though, is definitely monster-weird. He hears about some lady in Colorado who's looking for her husband, last seen several weeks ago. What's interesting is that the lady, Daphne, claims that her husband's a healer in the miraculous way, and he's strong enough to warrant demons sniffing around him. Daphne's sure that the demons have him; he was heading off to northern Indiana to see a patient, and should have been back within the week.
Northern Indiana is still a huge area to cover, and it takes Garth six days and three hauntings before he catches a short article in Plymouth's local paper, reporting on five hospital staff who have been admitted into Northern Indiana State Hospital's psychiatric ward.
They all claim to have been possessed by demons.
Garth knows that he's a far cry from being the strongest or most capable hunter. Before Bobby, it was his cousin Brandon who had to suffer through Garth's escapades.
Garth likes to remember his cousin as he was alive; as his most trusted partner who humored Garth's clumsiness because, as he always bragged to their parents, Garth is good at connecting the dots that others miss. It's just that his thought process is much like casting out a net, where he usually draws up random crap along with the occasional prize fish. This mental detritus then distracts Garth until someone -- his parents, Brandon, Bobby, basically anyone -- throws that particular thread of thought out and sets Garth back on track.
Without Brandon, Bobby, or even the Winchesters now, there's no one to point out to Garth that rigging an entire hospital system's PA speakers to play an exorcism at two in the morning is a very, very unsubtle plan. In retrospect, Garth thinks that he should have gone his usual route and interviewed the hospital staff. If he had, he probably would have noticed during his rounds how Nurse Masters smelt a bit like sulfur and always avoided the religious patients in the ward, who randomly took up screaming the Lord's prayer.
For future reference, Garth notes that the psych ward is the worst place to get lost in. All the halls look the same, and the bars on the windows are just plain creepy. He's just passing down what he hopes is a different hall, when he hears the soft click of one of the doors to a patient room opening. Garth quickly shuffles back, peering around the corner to see a nurse step out of the room, whispering into her cellphone.
"Comatose Clarence is still the same," she reports. "Just like I told you yesterday. And the day before, ad infinitum. He just lies there. It's getting tedious, watching him drool."
She rolls her eyes at whatever's being said on the other line. "Yeah, yeah, don't get your panties in a bunch. We're lucky he's put himself in a trance; I don't anyone here could survive his caroling."
There's a sharp string of words that follow her statement, and the nurse scowls. "Considering what I'm doing for you, I'm hurt. I shudder just saying these words in the same sentence, but Crowley's on my ass and Clarence is down for the count. Way down."
She snaps her cellphone shut, annoyed, and Garth is at the perfect position to see her eyes flicker black.
Garth hasn't survived this long not to have certain reactions ingrained in him. Fanged creature running towards you? Crazy-ass ghost rushing you with its collection of very heavy glass figurines? Ghoul deciding to jump your bones before gnawing your skin off of them? Chop first, shoot first, stab first; anything, and ask questions later.
And for a demon? If you don't have a devil's trap handy, you spray that mother with holy water until it leaves.
Garth always knew that carrying around a utility belt stocked with flasks of holy water would pay off. He watches the demon shoot out of the nurse's body, bending down to check her pulse.
He then moves to grab her cellphone, opening up the call history. The number looks vaguely familiar, and Garth only has to wait a few seconds before a gruff voice bites out: "What's wrong? He okay? Dammit, Meg!"
"I'm not Meg," Garth starts, before realizing that he's just heard that voice a week and a half ago. "Dean?"
"Who's this? What the hell've you done to Cas?"
"Nothing! It's me, Garth!"
There's a heavy pause, then a long exhale. "Jesus. Uh, Garth, not that it's not great to hear from you so soon, but where's Meg?"
"Meg? The nurse?" Garth glances quickly down at the body. "I'm really sorry, Dean, but she's dead. Possessed, but I guess the demon already got her before I garthed it."
"Garthed-wait, you ganked the demon?" For some reason, Dean sounds pissed.
"Uh, duh? Hunter 101, man."
"Meg was the demon," Dean growls. "We had her there looking after Cas. Castiel." Garth would have been impressed by how Dean's tone can shift from worried to enraged to strangled nonchalance in two minutes, if he wasn't so angry.
"Dude, you asked a demon to look after something? You can't trust demons. Ever!"
"You think I don't know that?" Dean snaps back. "It's not like I've got any other options!"
Garth tries pushing for answers as to who Cas really is and why Dean can't take care of the guy himself. Dean clams up, though, and just says that he and Sam are busy tracking something.
"Look," Dean orders, "just put Meg's body out back and let her come back in."
Garth gapes. "No way. I'll take care of Castiel 'til you get here. I hope you've got better sense than teaming up with a demon, Dean, but if you do see Meg, tell her I'm going to kill her if I see her again."
Dean starts to say something, but Garth ends the call. His hand shakes, either from pushing the end button too hard, or because he finally understands why no other hunter is that keen to work with the Winchesters.
They may be the strongest and most capable, but they make some really shitty choices.
After moving Meg's body to the morgue, Garth settles into the chair next to Castiel's bed, looking over the guy's health chart. Castiel Doe has apparently been in a coma since his admittance, with no other evident injuries.
Garth spends the rest of the night thinking up a plausible story.
Thankfully, it doesn't take much to explain the new situation to the doctor. Garth thinks that the guy's a lot like Dr. Spivey in how mindlessly accepting he is. Garth just stands up straight, waves edited copies of his dad's certificates in medicine and psychiatry, and explains that he's here for Castiel as a request from former colleague Nurse Masters.
"She's chilling right now," he grins, pleased by his own joke.
"Poor dear," the doctor tuts. "Worked too hard, I suppose."
Garth used to visit his parents' workplaces when he was a kid. He loved seeing his dad use the sock puppets that Garth had glued the googly eyes onto, and he'd listened to his mom give the same speech to families of comatose patients over and over: it is possible for your loved one to hear what you say.
It's these memories that he has when he sits back down next to Castiel. The IV tubing that was missing last night is reattached to Castiel, and Garth thinks that death by lack of IV tubing is the lamest way that he's seen a demon try to kill someone.
"Hey, Castiel," he starts. "I don't know what exactly you can hear from me, but I hope you're listening as hard as you can." He pauses, trying to figure out what to say.
"I gotta admit, I don't know who you are. But Dean sounded pretty worried about you last night, and I'm fond of the guy, so..."
Garth shifts in his chair, slouching down to get more comfortable. He's seen a lot of coma patients before, but Castiel's got this weird presence that makes everything less weird. Garth huffs at his thoughts. "Man, it's been years since I've had a good chat. I'm just gonna start talking now, and I hope for your sake you wake up when you get sick of it."
Castiel is drowning in guilt. Lucifer sits on his left, conjuring on Castiel's right the many of his brethren that he has wronged, one-by-one. As he speaks with the other, Lucifer leans forward to look past Castiel, and Castiel feels the burning shame as the other two speak of his sins as if he was not there. Lucifer purrs with amusement as he listens to Uriel's disdainful recounts of Castiel's obvious fawning for the Righteous Man, and brushes away the tears of the seraphim even younger than Castiel, who served Raphael and died by his sword.
All the while, Lucifer's hell flames ring the bed, licking at Castiel's vessel. Each pass of the flame alternates between sharp pain and debilitating pleasure, and Castiel is kept in a dizzying state of frustration, with a sense of not enough. Of what, he isn't sure.
Every once in a while, Lucifer stops the fire and the judgement, and just sits there, talking to Castiel.
"Come on, brother," he wheedles. "Talk to me. No one's coming back for you, not with me around. I think we should be friends." He grins toothily.
Despair is an emotion as cloying and deep as Castiel remembers from the year that Lucifer walked the Earth. As long as Lucifer is in his mind, Sam and Dean will leave him here for everyone's collective safety. And Lucifer will always be in his mind, because the alternative must never come to pass. Lucifer knows this, and Castiel realized it as soon as he saw the devil sitting in bed, right where Sam should have been.
Castiel berates himself for not considering this possibility. For believing that his conviction was stronger than Lucifer's creativity in times of desperation. Castiel thinks that this seed of Lucifer's grace has been within Sam's physical body since the man said yes, small enough to escape his detection but enough.
Lucifer is real, and Castiel must keep him here.
One day, Lucifer is holding a handstand on the chair next to Castiel while he describes his favorite corners of Hell.
"Ice as far as the mortal eye can see," Lucifer reminisces with a dreamy sigh. "Of course, they can't see much, because it's so bright that you go blind after three seconds. There's also the Hellhound play-crater, where we send the animal breed purists. I love watching their eyes in that moment when a hellbeast mounts them and --
--slaps me with her bra, and that buckle bit hurts, let me tell you, especially when it hooks into your nostril and she just yanks, man. Major ouch."
"Did she also have father who ran away from his job at the post office?" Castiel can't help but think of Dean's laugh, and his lips quirk.
Castiel hears twin cries, and he turns to look at Lucifer. He sees, instead, Lucifer glaring at a thin, tired-looking man who is now occupying his chair.
"You're awake!" The man grins, surprised but genuinely pleased. "I was kinda hoping you wouldn't hear about the Bra Beating of '98, but that's my luck I guess."
"Who are you?" Castiel asks.
"I'm Garth," the man replies. "I'm looking after you for now, but I should probably tell Dean that you woke up!" He puts his cellphone to his ear, and Castiel hears the distorted ringing until a gruff, familiar, and safe voice says: "Hello?"
"Hey, Dean, it's Garth! Listen, I got great news for you, Castiel's--"
Garth stops, eyes widening, before they move down to see the pen sticking out of his neck.
"Oops," Lucifer drawls.
Garth makes aborted choking noises, the cellphone slipping out of his hand and clattering to the ground. Castiel can hear Dean's increasingly loud calls for Garth and Castiel, and he can feel his grace trembling out of fear and frustration. It's difficult to suppress, but Castiel manages to block out Garth's dying gurgles and Lucifer's giggles, forcing himself back into his trance before his grace erupts.
Within the trance, Castiel finds Lucifer sitting next to him again.
"Hello, Balthazar," the archangel greets. "I haven't seen you in such a long time."
"Woah, Castiel!" Garth yells, cellphone dropping from his hand as he rushes over to steady Casitel's trashing body. He's barely got a grip on it before he's suddenly thrown across the room, slamming into the wall.
Pain shoots down his back, and Garth is pretty sure that he blacks out for a few seconds, because when his vision clears, Castiel is lying, lax, on the bed. He can hear tinny yells coming from his cellphone, though, and he slowly staggers towards it.
"He's okay, Dean," Garth hisses, as he touches the bump on the back of his head. "False alarm, sorry. Where'd you find this guy, though? He just threw me across the room."
Garth is glad that he's sitting down, as Dean explains to him the situation with angel powers, angel hallucinations, douchebag angels, and the one exception. After he hangs up, Garth gapes at Castiel for a long time. An angel. Now, he really wants to talk to Castiel.
"All right, Mr. Fizzles." Garth reaches for his bag, sharing a determined look with his trusty companion. "We've got work to do."
Castiel has doubts that Garth is truly dead. His voice fades in and out during Lucifer's monologues, and even when Rachel is spitting out her disgust for following such a treacherous and sinful leader. Lucifer can feel his control slipping, and he tries speaking louder, the flames around Castiel roaring. Garth's voice is still there, though, his litany like a babbling brook, pooling around the fire.
Then, a third voice, high-pitched voice joins Castiel's Headspace of Our Perpetural Neediness.
"Mr. Fizzles loves angel wings! Mr. Fizzles bets that angel wings are made out of babies' tears and unicorn wishes! Do you angels sleep in a cocoon of your wings? Are they rainbow colored wings? They should probably be pastel colors, instead, because those are Easter colors! And Easter's an angel's favorite holiday, 'cause that's when Jesus came back as a zombieeeee."
Castiel feels nauseous. It takes him a few seconds to identify the foreign look on Lucifer's face. It reminds Castiel of the look that Sam used to get when he'd eaten a bean burrito with 'the works.'
"Easter colors are probably pastel colors because those were Jesus' favorite colors! Jesus probably had big ol' pastel angel wings, and that's how he rolled the stone away. Mr. Fizzles wants pastel angel wings for Christmas!"
"I am going to be sick," Lucifer mutters, and blinks out of Castiel's vision.
Instead, Castiel finds himself a scant three inches apart from a dirty sock, fraying at the seams, with big eyes and a very red, slightly obscene, pair of lips.
"Castiel!" The sock turns to face the speaker, and Castiel follows it to see Garth beaming at him. "It's great to see you with us, man! We've been worried ever since you freaked out on us a couple of days ago! Oh, and this is Mr. Fizzles!"
Castiel blinks as the sock bobs its head - and body, he supposes - in greeting. "Hi, Castiel!"
Castiel has absolutely no clue how to respond. "A couple of days?" he asks, fixing on the one phrase he does understand.
"Three whoooole days," Mr. Fizzles says. "We hope you'll stick around and talk with us, Castiel, 'cause Garth here can be pretty boring!"
"That's only because Mr. Fizzles and I practically live in each other's pants," Garth leans over to whisper in Castiel's ear. He pulls back, then, clapping Castiel on the shoulder. "Seriously, though, it's good to see you awake, man. We didn't know how long it would take to get through to you."
Up close, Castiel can see the dark smudges underneath Garth's eyes, and the way that his hands tremble, much like Sam and Dean's would after imbibing copious amounts of caffeine.
"Thank you," Castiel breathes, reaching up to clasp Garth's hand and Mr. Fizzles. "I do not deserve your efforts, but thank you. I am relieved that Lucifer does not appreciate Mr. Fizzles as I do."
Castiel can tell that he's said something very, very wrong. Garth's eyes widen, inhaling sharply in surprise. Dean had been vague with describing the hallucinations. "Lucifer?" His voice comes out strangled.
Lucifer suddenly blinks back into existence, smile curled ferociously. "Oh, yes. You should be very afraid," he purrs.
Garth notices when Castiel tenses, gaze flitting to the empty space on Garth's right before dropping down to the sheets. His eyes are glazing over, and Garth steels himself, because he's not letting this happen again, dammit.
Mr. Fizzles turns to face Lucifer, and Garth takes a quick breath, before Mr. Fizzles is slamming Lucifer with a long string of questions about devil's wings, if they're that ugly yellow-green color that nobody likes, and if they taste like mashmallow Peeps, which are the worst Easter candies ever.
Castiel watches Lucifer's expression turn belligerent but bewildered, flinching as Lucifer grabs Mr. Fizzles and sets him on fire. As he burns, Mr. Fizzles continues cooing over having edible wings that regrow with each bite. His voice stays steady, and he and Garth never disappear from view.
Lucifer fumes, Mr. Fizzles talks, and Castiel laughs.
Garth, Mr. Fizzles, and Castiel settle into a game that Garth dubs 'Satan's Sufferin' Succotash.' Castiel doesn't understand that reference, but Lucifer does, as evidenced by his sulking and turning Garth into a yellow bird, that he promptly stomps on. Amidst the bird's screams, though, Castiel hears Garth describing to him all of his favorite Looney Tunes shows, and Mr. Fizzles stating that those episodes all sucked.
Castiel is thankful for once that nothing Dean told him about human popular culture ever stuck. In contrast, Lucifer detests human invention, but his time in Hell, amongst the ever-influx of demons, has kept him up-to-date with everything. Garth quickly notices that Castiel has no opinion of music, movies, entertainment, technology, or food in the past few centuries. Lucifer, however, does have certain stances. That's how Castiel ends up mediating a debate between Lucifer and Garth about the best Star Wars film.
Mr. Fizzles plays devil's advocate, and says that his favorite was Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Lucifer snarls that that doesn't fucking count, and then stabs Mr. Fizzles with a red lightsaber, repeatedly.
Sometimes, when Lucifer has temporarily exhausted his arsenal of increasingly creative attacks on Mr. Fizzles, he retreats and Castiel and Garth spend their time discussing Garth's hunting stories and the history that Castiel has lived through and observed. During a tangent on the evolution of languages, Castiel comments to Garth that Lucifer sees this more as a de-evolution. Garth then spends the next two days teaching Castiel slang in English, and then they start making up ones for Latin.
When Garth discovers that Castiel hasn't heard rap before, he and Mr. Fizzles decide to sing Castiel through the rap songs of the '90s. Lucifer stays noticeably absent for the next two days. He reappears while Garth is giving Castiel examples of why today's rap sucks; he's singing about something called a shawty being smacked on the floor 'til she (he?) gets sore.
Castiel tenses when he sees Lucifer, and the devil raises an eyebrow as he settles himself at the foot of Castiel's bed.
"What? I like this song."
"Hey, Castiel," Garth grins, "Mr. Fizzles needs another back-up singer. I'm gonna teach you the fine art of the 'shoo-bee-doo-whop.'"
"I will cut out your tongue and feed it back to you," Lucifer threatens.
Castiel smiles slyly at Garth. "I would very much like to learn how to 'shoo-bee-doo-whop.'"
Garth finally crashes about four weeks in. He's been sleeping late and waking up early, in part because he's having the most fun in years, but also because he's terrified of losing everything that he and Castiel have been working towards. While it's true that Castiel hasn't slipped back into his trance since the first scare, Garth has noticed that Castiel isn't improving though.
The angel's eyes still lose their focus periodically, and his shoulders twitching and face twisting during long amounts of silence. Garth is proud, though, that Castiel can suffer through the hours that the hunter leaves to sleep. Castiel tells him that he either speaks with Lucifer in those hours, or listens to the grievances of his family. The guilt is ever-present, and ever-heavy, and Castiel confides that he doesn't believe that he can feel any more guilt than he already does.
Garth thinks that this is incredibly unhealthy, as is talking to his hallucination, but Castiel refuses to actually talk through these problems with him.
"This is my burden," Castiel states, reverting back to the aloof defense that he has whenever Garth approaches the subject.
Garth wants to shake Castiel and yell at him for being so stubborn. He wants to convince Castiel that guilt is a useless emotion, that he's so much better off channeling it into a motivating force. Penance isn't redemption. The problem is, Garth doesn't know how you even start telling an angel this.
He's going to have to figure out how very soon, though, because one day Castiel completely shuts down again.
There are no clocks in the patient rooms, but Castiel is older than the human concept of time. In the brief months that he was Emmanuel, Castiel remembers being in bed, staring out of the window each night and waiting for sunrise, and implicitly knowing the exact minute and second corresponding on the clock. Daphne had teased him, joking that he had probably been a boy scout. He had laughed with her, despite not knowing what a boy scout was.
Castiel is surprised - and that in itself is surprising - that emotions comes so readily to him now. Despite having his powers as Emmanuel, Castiel remembers living and feeling as a human. He marvels at the ease to which he had adapted to his life, despite his amnesia. It is an enormous contrast to his experiences while falling, and as a human during the year that Lucifer walked the Earth. Castiel realizes that perhaps he had begrudged the circumstances around which he became human rather than the physicality of being human.
Even now, Castiel can feel Emmanuel's contentment within him. His recently-recovered memories have poured around his experiences as Emmanuel, rather than wiping them away. His guilt has buried that peace deep within him, however, and Castiel feels frustration. Those memories of Emmanuel were meant to taunt him of a peace he does not deserve, he is sure.
Lucifer likes to prod at these memories when they are alone. He says the same terrible things, but that does not lessen the pain. Even worse, each morning, Lucifer sits with Castiel on the bed, facing the door.
"I wonder if he will come today," Lucifer smiles, as innocent as a newborn shark can be when it smells its first scent of blood. "Perhaps he is tired of us, Castiel."
Castiel responds, each day: "He has promised to return. Mr. Fizzles will not let him leave without saying goodbye properly." Castiel's stint as Emmanuel had also taught him the polite way of leaving someone. He regrets not having been able to show Daphne or Dean this.
On this particular day, however, Castiel just feels exhausted. Desperation, guilt, and defeat roil inside him, and cannot discern why he feels this way. Lucifer just stares at him from across the room, expression as closed as Castiel has ever seen it.
Castiel waits for the sunrise, and feels empty. What will he accomplish today? What comes from building nothing onto nothing? He turns away from the window, eyes slipping closed. He is tired.
Garth is frantic. He's been yelling at Castiel for the past few hours, and the angel hasn't even twitched an eyelid. There's no reaction when Mr. Fizzles cajoles Castiel, either. With this sort of regression, Garth knows that the same methods won't work.
You idiot, he thinks, harshly. He repeats it aloud, and feels vindictively pleased. He's got things to say, things that Castiel should hear and others that Garth has never found another opportunity to say. Garth slips Mr. Fizzles under Castiel's pillow and scoots his chair closer. He reaches out to clasp the angel's hands, and prays that Castiel will come back, preferably less guilt-ridden. Garth is hoping for a similar catharsis for himself.
"I used to hunt with my cousin," Garth starts. "My parents used to get the odd patient in therapy who claimed to've seen some monster or supernatural thing, but they never believed it. My aunt totally did, though. She had tons of hunters as patients, and Brandon and I would sit in the waiting room as kids, listening to them talk about the best way to dig a grave quickly and whether or not you needed more salt for larger ghosts, like some weird salt-to-ectoplasm ratio."
Garth rolls his eyes, stopping to take a quick drink. "Apparently, the hunters that actually go for therapy are nerd hunters. Anyway, Brandon got this idea in his head early on that he wanted to be a hunter too. I just followed him because nothing else really clicked. Plus, we made a pretty awesome team. He usually found the cases, and we'd go investigate. He used to say I was worth all the apologies to confused witnesses and unphotogenic appeal, because I could pull together a lot of tiny details and figure out the big picture from there. Brandon was just awesome. I tend to blurt out things, as I guess you've seen, but Brandon was smooth, and quick with a gun and shovel. Ghosts were easy; I just had to spend a little more time researching, and bam, we always had locations to the graves of at least three main suspects, as well as an item that they used to own."
"I know you can hear him," Lucifer comments mildly to Castiel, as Garth continues to speak. "Usually, you'd be threatening my masculinity with your laughter and climbing your way back up to him right about now."
Castiel shrugs, staring up at the ceiling. "There is no point in doing so."
Still, Castiel and Lucifer listen as Garth tells Castiel of a case in Michigan eight years ago. A real freak of a shapeshifter was preying on twins; it would kill one and hang around the other for a couple of days, pretending just for the fun of it. While cornering of the pairs of suspects at gunpoint, Garth had noticed how of the twins had glanced quickly at her sister, before starting to cry at the sight of the gun as well. He'd taken the shot.
At the local high school, Brandon hadn't been so lucky.
"Turns out there were two shifters," Garth explains. "I killed both of them, but not before one got Brandon.
I was pissed as hell for ages, but I told myself it wasn't my fault. Unexpected things happen. But telling yourself that is hard enough when it's just you. When Brandon's ghost showed up, I didn't know what to think anymore. He wouldn't leave me alone; he'd just follow me around everywhere, telling me it was my fault he was dead. The guy started filling in my crosswords with really hateful stuff, that's how far past crazytown he'd gone.
But I still believed him," Garth sighs. "And I started hating myself, and working riskier cases. I didn't think he'd noticed, until I was bleeding out in an old house where a skinwalker had set up camp. I'd even made peace with death, you know?
Then, and I don't even know how he'd known where I was, but I woke up the next day in a hospital. The nurses said that they'd gotten a call from my cellphone. Then I got back to the motel, and it was kind of obvious that Brandon had saved my ass. The entire motel and my car was on fire. Basically, anything that could have tied Brandon to me was gone."
Garth tightens his grip on Castiel's hands slightly. "God, even as a vengeful spirit he was bad-ass," he laughs. "I'm not saying we should all go out on kamikaze trips, but there's a reason why I still hunt alone. The blame never goes away; you just have to figure out what to do with what you have left.
I mean, Castiel, you can't just stay here forever. No one's judging you but you, and that's why you can't move on. If you really feel that guilty, go out and help people, and see if that makes you feel any better. Even if doesn't, at least you're helping them."
Garth isn't quite sure if this lack of a reaction is good or bad. On the plus side, he hasn't been punched out by an angel. On the down side, Castiel's still dead to the world.
"Look," Lucifer scowls, "the guy's just gone and bared his life's story to you. Just go stare at him before he keeps going on."
Castiel raises an eyebrow. "You would let me go that easily?"
"I'll still be here, brother," Lucifer says, trying for menacing. It doesn't seem to have the intended effect, however. Castiel just stares at him, searchingly, before nodding and slowly surfacing from his trance.
"Garth," Castiel says, quietly. The hunter exhales, shakily, swiping quickly at his eyes.
"Don't scare me like that," he mutters. "You catch any of what I said?"
"Yes," Castiel responds, reaching back for the hand that Garth has withdrawn. "I do not know how useful I can be with Lucifer still inside. But I will try," he amends, squeezing Garth's hands solemnly. "I have much to atone for."
Garth smiles widely at Castiel. "That's a good first step!" He looks down at his hands and Castiel's, then back at Castiel's quizzical expression. Garth sighs, inwardly. "This is usually when we hug, Castiel."
"Oh," Castiel says, surprised. "Are we having a moment?"
Garth chokes. "What?"
"Lucifer says that we're having a moment. A Lifetime moment that makes him want to blind himself, if it were possible for his wounds to not heal."
Garth laughs, and practically tackles Castiel into a hug. "Man, I'd hug him too for saying that."
Castiel's arms circle around him, patting Garth's back awkwardly. It is his first true hug with a friend, and Castiel likes how comfortable it is. His memories as Emmanuel become clearer.
It's then that Garth gets his genius idea. "Speaking of Lifetime moments, I was thinking we should read Twilight. I'll be Edward, and Mr. Fizzles can be Bella."
Castiel cocks his head slightly, as if listening to something that Garth can't hear.
"Lucifer is screaming."
Garth has been asleep for the past two hours, while Castiel watches Lucifer's brains swirl around on the floor, spelling out crass words and drawing anatomically-incorrect torture methods. It takes Castiel a few seconds to feel the uneasy prickle in the back of his mind, and in an instant, Lucifer's skull has sealed itself, and the archangel stares warily at the door.
"Demons," he hisses, and then Castiel feels their presence. They slide into the hospital, some prowling through the main areas of the building, while others begin possessing bodies, jumping from one to another, looking for information. Looking for Castiel.
"Garth, wake up!" Castiel shakes Garth, and the hunter snaps awake.
"Castiel? What's going on?"
"Demons," Castiel replies. "Many of them. We need to go." His grip around Garth tightens as Lucifer's gaze flicks to the hunter. The devil pulls a face when he sees Mr. Fizzles, secure on Garth's hand.
"We are not leaving them here," Castiel interrupts Lucifer, before he even speaks.
"Woah," Garth protests, as Castiel manhandles him out of the bed, and tosses Garth's bag to him. "Are you, you know, okay to leave? How many demons are we talking here?"
Lucifer hums, cocking his head to one side. "That high school wrestler makes 23, doesn't it, Castiel?"
"24," Castiel corrects, as he senses another demon barreling into the hospital, exactly two floors down.
"Damn," Garth mutters, rifling around in his bag for his shotgun and rock salt shells. "Any time to draw devil's traps?" He can tell by Castiel's set jaw, though, that none of his normal weapons are going to work against so many demons.
Lucifer snaps his attention from locating the demons back to Castiel. His smile stretches, eyes darkening. "There is something you can do, brother." His grace curls around Castiel's, probing but not piercing. "You would only need a tiny fraction of my power to wipe them all out."
Castiel frowns at Lucifer. "Why would you offer it to me?"
"It's mutually beneficial," Lucifer states, fixing an earnest gaze at Castiel. They stare at each other, Castiel warily, but both can feel the demons approaching. They hear Garth's yelp as he slams the door back shut. The demons have reached the psych ward.
"Stay behind me," Castiel orders, as he and Garth enter the hallway. The stench of sulfur preempts the demons, and Garth's hands tighten on his shotgun. He mentally curses himself for not pulling Mr. Fizzles off of his hand before he had the chance, as the first demon rounds the corner, and Garth fires.
Castiel starts reciting an exorcism, as Garth continues shooting and more demons pour into the hallway. Soon enough, the hallway is filled with demons, prowling closer and surrounding Castiel and Garth on both ends. Garth pushes himself back-to-back with Castiel, dropping his empty shotgun and reaching for his holy water. He throws it as a demon lunges towards him, and Castiel yells for Garth to shut his eyes.
Garth's eyes slam shut right before white light blazes around him. He uses Mr. Fizzles to cover his eyes, trying to block out the painful brightness searing across the back of his eyelids. He can barely hear the hisses and screams of the dying demons above the shrill, ringing sounds. The high-pitched whine builds, and Garth swears that he can hear two overlapping frequencies, before there's a final pulse of bright light and pulsing heat. It rushes through and around him, and then the noise cuts off.
Garth's ears are still ringing as moves Mr. Fizzles from his face, and squints his eyes open.
Mindless of the hallway littered with slumped bodies, Castiel stands in front of Garth, his gaze fixed on the hunter. "Garth?" He asks, gently.
"Uh, yeah," Garth breathes, taking in the scene. "That was amazing, Castiel!"
Castiel's shoulders slump in relief. "I am glad to see that you're well."
Garth grins, standing shakily. "Me too, buddy. What'd you do, exactly?"
"I unleashed my grace to burn out the demons," Castiel replies. He hesitates for a moment, before adding: "I was concerned for you, because I felt Lucifer's grace leave mine as I was doing so. I was afraid that he would try to take you as a vessel."
"Woah, hang on," Garth babbles. "Lucifer's real? Where's he now?" He reaches for his holy water, eyes darting around the hallway.
Castiel frowns, pressing his hand against his chest. "As he was leaving, I pushed him back in..." The angel trails off in a tone that Garth knows is never, ever good.
"He's not here." Castiel's eyes widen, frantically, and Garth can see a bright ring circling the angel's blue irises. "But I felt him," he says, voice shaking. "He couldn't have left, not completely --" Castiel punches the wall, and keeps his fist embedded in the cinderblock. "This is all my fault."
Garth frowns, reaching over to clasp Castiel's shoulder.
Castiel, Mr. Fizzles says.
Castiel growls. "Not now, Garth."
"Uh," Garth stutters, "I didn't say that."
Castiel turns his head to meet Garth's equally shocked gaze. They then look down at the sock puppet that Garth has clapped on Castiel's shoulder.
Fuck my life, Lucifer hisses, his voice a pitch-perfect match for Mr. Fizzles'.
Garth isn't quite sure how this is his life. He'd had the best of intentions, taking care of Castiel and trying to help him manage his hallucinations of Lucifer. Lucifer, who was apparently real, and stuck inside Castiel's body until he'd ridden out the shockwave of Castiel's grace during the exorcism. Except, he hadn't been able to move far, especially with all the humans in the near vicinity either dead or possessed. Which, apparently, left only one option.
Mr. Fizzles. Garth's awesome puppet, lovingly crafted from his lucky pair of socks (once he'd lost the other one). Mr. Fizzles, who wasn't actually sentient, and couldn't have said yes or no either way.
Mr. Fizzles, whom Castiel had promptly drawn Enochian binding sigils on with the angel's own blood. Mr. Fizzles, who was now Lucifer's vessel.
Lucifer is fuming silently, now, as Castiel zaps the three of them through a series of urban cities before deeming their trail cold enough to stop in a wheat field in Kansas.
Castiel refuses to let go of Mr. Fizzles, maintaining that the binding magic is stronger if his grace is in direct contact with Lucifer's. To Garth, it means that he's going to be holding Castiel's hand for the foreseeable future, unless they can get rid of Lucifer.
"Where are you?" Castiel prompts, as Garth dials Dean and hands his cellphone over to the angel.
The next second, Garth's in a dingy motel, right in front of Dean Winchester. Well, Castiel's right in front of Dean, which means that Garth gets a close-up view of the weirdest, most intense, and somewhat violating stare he's ever seen two people share.
"Cas," Dean breathes out, and Garth watches as his hands make an aborted movement towards Castiel before bunching at his sides.
"Uh, hey, Garth." Garth turns to see Sam sitting at the small table, looking both confused and sympathetic.
Dean's eyes flick over to Garth, as if just noticing him, and he quickly steps out of the personal bubble that he's just been sharing with Castiel. "Hey, Garth," he greets, "what're you guys doing here?"
The last word falls flat, when Dean's gaze lands on Mr. Fizzles. Lucifer. To be honest, Garth is a bit terrified to admit the latter. Garth is guessing it's more of the hand-holding than the puppet that Dean finds offensive, and he automatically tries to tug his hand out of Castiel's. The angel's grip tightens, though, and Dean's eyes narrow.
"You wanna tell me what's going on?"
Castiel and Garth share a look, which Garth is pretty sure makes Dean bristle a bit more.
"Um, this is Lucifer." Garth holds up his and Castiel's joined hands, to point at the sock puppet in between them. Dean's reaction isn't all that better with this news.
Hello, everyone, Lucifer growls, because apparently he won't let being a sock puppet deter him from acting as terrifying as he can. Hello, Sam.
Dean looks constipated, and Sam gapes at Mr. Fizzles, and then back to Garth. "Your mouth didn't move."
I've missed you so very much, Lucifer purrs, although it comes out as more of a squeak.
Sam drops his head to the table. Garth watches as his shoulders start shaking, and sees Dean glaring at him and Castiel before approaching his brother. "Sam?"
And then Sam bursts out laughing.
Once Dean decides that the only danger Sam is in is death by laughter, he orders celebratory pie and pizza. He's not exactly certain they should be celebrating the fact that Lucifer's alive and in the same room, but on the upside, he's got his brother, Castiel, and one pretty decent hunter in here too. Plus, any time is pie time.
Garth and Castiel have moved to sit on Dean's bed, Lucifer lying face-up in between them. Dean is leaning against the wall closest to the bed and Castiel's side, inhaling a fresh slice of apple pie and watching Castiel pick at the toppings on his pizza. Sam and Garth have split the rest of the pizza, and seem to having a contest to see who can take the biggest bite.
All the while, they listen to Lucifer as he rage-squeaks that this is all Death's fault. Dean is furious to learn that Death was the one who purposefully pulled Lucifer out of the Cage while retrieving Sam's soul. The bastard had probably known even then that Purgatory would be opened some way or another, and the Leviathan unleashed.
That's Death's endgame, as Lucifer tells them. God had promised Death the Leviathan eons ago, but gotten overly sentimental when the time came to destroy them. Death's let them marinade in Purgatory until now, and he's very hungry and eager to collect.
"So he's brought you back to kill them," Sam says, sounding hopeful.
All things in due time, Lucifer replies. It took the might of our Father and all his archangels to force those monsters in to Purgatory. As such, I wouldn't mind having some more power.
Castiel looks thoughtful, and Dean's stomach lurches.
"Hell no," he spits. "Power's what got us in this mess in the first place. No one in this room is sucking up any souls, ever again." He looks pointedly at Castiel, whose stare grows frosty.
"I am capable of learning from my mistakes, Dean," he snaps.
Oh, brother, Lucifer laughs. Not quite at the angry sex stage yet? All this unresolved sexual tension is worse than that cuddling.
Garth would like to emphasize how creepy this is, coming from Mr. Fizzles.
"Cuddling?" Dean demands.
Oh, yes, Lucifer taunts. The patient beds were pretty small, and you know what they say about lonely nights.
Caveman-Dean is frightening to see, and Garth looks at Castiel or Sam for help. Castiel is still staring at Lucifer as if hoping that the sheer force of his gaze will set the devil on fire, so Garth is thankful when Sam cuts in.
"Stop, guys. Lucifer, I know you're only telling us this because you want us to do something. What is it?"
Garth gapes at Sam. "The hell is it with you guys and demons?"
Sam's right, Lucifer sighs. I do need something from you, specifically. I need whatever Gabriel gave you that night at The Elysian Fields.
There's silence from everyone in the room, and Garth looks at Castiel, confused. Castiel shakes his head slightly, indicating his lack of understanding as well.
"Even if we had it," Sam hedges, "why do you need it?"
Because my brother is all-too-well versed in the art of escaping death. The thought hadn't occurred to me until I found myself in this disgusting excuse of a vessel. I believe that Gabriel stored the vital elements of his grace in an innocuous, inanimate object. Since you boys were the last to see him, I assume that you would know have an idea about what that is.
Dean, meanwhile, has been studying Sam. "Dude, you actually kept it?"
Sam scowls. "He died - well, pretended to - for us, Dean. He did a lot of crappy things to us, but he came through in the end. I thought the least we could do was honor his memory."
So do you have it, Lucifer says, proudly. That's my genius, Sammy.
Sam flips Lucifer off as he starts pulling undershirts out of his duffel. He pulls out a wad, unwrapping the shirts layer by layer, until he pulls out a DVD in the final one. Garth hears Lucifer inhale, sharply.
Sam hesitates, looking at Dean, then Castiel. "This isn't going to hurt you, right, Cas?"
"It won't," Castiel promises.
Castiel just needs to spark the process, Lucifer explains. Our own grace takes over from there.
Castiel reaches for the disc, turning it gently over in his available hand. "Close your eyes," he commands.
The light is as piercing as before, and Garth buries his face in the crook of his elbow. There are freaking klaxon sirens ringing in his ears, but the sound is slightly muted compared to the time in the hospital. Garth thanks Castiel silently for muffling the noise, and waits in apprehension for the lights to fade.
When he feels a touch to his shoulder, Garth looks up. A short figure, sitting on the tabletop, smirks at them. "Hey guys, what took you so long?"
It's actually very difficult, Garth discovers, to fill up bottles with Borax with only one hand. He's got a row of flasks lined up between his legs, his left arm hugging the jug of borax and pouring the cleaning solution in, while his right arm is raised so Lucifer can speak with Gabriel and Castiel at eye level. And by speak, Garth means, to have a silent, angel conversation, that's only interrupted every once in a while by the sound of Gabriel's moans as eats his way through the entire supply at the local candy store.
Garth seriously doesn't know how this is his life.
When everything's been loaded up, Gabriel turns to Garth, and waggles his fingers at him. "Time to tag-team out, bro."
Gabriel rolls his eyes. "You're gonna be smack-dab in the middle of this boss battle if you stay attached to my brothers."
But I like Garth, Lucifer protests. Garth has forcibly remind himself that this not a compliment, coming from the devil.
"No, it's okay," he says. "I guess I'd just get in the way, huh."
"You have already done much." Castiel smiles at Garth, patting the hunter's shoulder. "And Dean and Sam always attract more trouble than expected."
Garth laughs. "All right. Take care of Mr. Fizzles for me." Gabriel snaps his fingers, and Garth's right hand is now free. He looks at the two angels, hands clasped over a bloody sock, and grins.
In a blink, Gabriel has transported them all a few miles away from Leviathan HQ. "Ugh, they have no taste in design, I swear."
Dean claps his hand on Castiel's shoulder, glancing briefly at Mr. Fizzles and Gabriel before fixing Castiel with a hard stare. "No hero moves," he orders. "Kill Dick and come back."
"To me," Gabriel sing-songs, and Dean flips the archangel off.
Castiel smiles and inclines his head. "If you promise me the same."
"Yeah, 'course," Dean mutters, squeezing Castiel's shoulders once more, before stepping back.
Can we go now? I feel sick.
"Yeah, yeah," Dean grins. "Let's get Dick!"
Garth, Dean, and Sam hack their way through the first floor, looking for the location to the water system. Once they find it, Dean stands guard while Sam and Garth siphon out the water, and replace it with Borax. It's more of a back-up strategy, because no one want to get rained on by Borax, but Garth is glad that they agreed to this.
There doesn't seem to be any unusual activity from the Leviathan yet, which Garth hopes is an indication that either Dick's already dead, or he's still fighting the angels, and about to die.
Dean is vicious in his attacks, and Sam scarily precise, as they make their way up the floors. Eventually, some leviathan must have called downstairs without any response, and sounded the alarm, because once the hunters reach the 8th floor, they find themselves battling harder past more prepared leviathan.
On the 10th floor, the hunters have to retreat to the office kitchen. Garth dumps most of his Borax into the kitchen sink, and Sam lures the leviathan in, while Dean shoves them face-first into the cleaning solution before beheading them.
They've just about cleaned out this floor, when the angels appear and Castiel and Gabriel burn the last few out.
"Thanks," Sam grins, before pulling a face when he sees what's hanging between Castiel and Gabriel's joined hands. Garth and Dean move away from the sink to take a closer look, and Dean actually whoops when he sees Dick Roman's head dangling from Mr. Fizzles' mouth.
"Nice job, guys," Gabriel admires. "The building's clear."
They're nothing but pests, Lucifer hums.
"Wait," Dean says, just before Gabriel snaps them all out. He nods at Garth. "Might as well test it out, man."
Garth grins. "Aw yeah." He walks over to the fire alarm, and pulls. The angels cloak the hunters, as they stand in the middle of the floor, listening to the sizzle of leviathan bodies disintegrating.
"What's with the head?" Sam asks.
You'll see, Lucifer replies.
Gabriel leaves the hunters with a long list of all the leviathan in America. They may have destroyed Dick Roman and most of the leviathans in his upper echelon, but Castiel emphasizes the importance of striking them all quickly, before another succeeds Dick's position.
He and the archangels set off to eliminate the leviathan in the rest of the world, and Garth joins the Winchesters on a road trip across the U.S. to hunt down the leviathan. Their current modus operandi is to first set off their rigged sprinkler system, and then storm through and decapitate every who's been burned. They eventually regroup with the angels after dealing with a warehouse in Idaho.
"Is that it?" Dean asks, as soon as the angels appear.
Castiel nods, and Dean practically collapses into the chair. "Thank God," he mutters, and he and Garth share a fist-bump.
"I don't he's the one who should be thanked." Everyone snaps to attention, hands glowing with smiting power or guns cocked.
Death smiles wryly, and takes a bite of his elephant ear. He dabs at the powdered sugar around his mouth, before speaking. "That's a good look for you, Lucifer."
Hello, Death, Lucifer greets.
"I believe you have something for me?"
Dick Roman's head drops onto Death's fried dough. Garth gags a little, but Death looks pleased.
Garth hangs behind for most of the conversation, because, hello, no one in their right mind wants to get close to Death. As it turns out, Death is here to return Lucifer to the Cage, as per the devil's own request.
I was kicking Michael's ass, Lucifer brags.
Garth beams when Castiel hands Mr. Fizzles back, clean and unbloodied, and he counts it as a victory.
"Come on, guys," he grins, throwing his arms wide. "We just saved the world! Group hug!"
Death and Gabriel disappear, and Dean and Sam just look uncomfortable. Castiel is awesome, though, and Garth squeezes him tightly when the angel steps into his hug. Garth looks over Castiel's shoulder at Dean and Sam, quirking an eyebrow. Dean steps closer, placing a hand gently in the middle of Castiel' back. Garth scoots to give the Winchesters some space, and then he finds himself with Sam's heavy arm slung across his shoulders, and Castiel pressing against his other side.
They're crowded close, Garth and Sam laughing in relief, and Garth watches out of the corner of his eye as Castiel's other arm hooks around Dean's neck. Dean's arms tighten around Sam and Castiel, one hand fisted in Castiel's jacket, at the small of his back. Garth and Sam look away, at each other, when Dean bends slightly to press a kiss against Castiel's head.
Garth is investigating a haunting in Tennessee. The first two vics were killed within the same five-mile radius of the town cemetery, but the latest one was clear on the other side of town. He's got it narrowed down to two suspects, assuming that the ghost is tied down to the day of its death, rather than its location.
While Harriet Beason (d. 1943) and her bones are burning, Garth moves to start on Melanie Rowland's grave (d. 1968). He's just stuck his shovel in to break into the ground, though, when the dirt vanishes and an arm pulls Garth back from falling seven feet onto a coffin.
Garth spins around, shovel at the ready, and sees Castiel. "Castiel! Hey," he greets, before looking back down at the grave. "Thanks for that, man."
"My pleasure," Castiel replies. "I came to tell you that this is the correct grave."
"Aw, too bad I still had to dig one up." Garth drops into the grave, prying the coffin open. "So, how's it going? I thought you were hunting with Sam and Dean."
"They are resting." Castiel bends down to help pull Garth out of the grave.
Garth smirks at the angel, as he strikes the match and drops it in. "And you're not resting with Dean."
Castiel colors slightly, burying his hands in his trench coat pockets. Garth grins, and lets the subject drop. "Thanks for stopping by, though. It's good to see you."
Castiel stares at the flames, before shifting his gaze. "I would prefer for you not to hunt alone." The earnest tone of his voice warms Garth.
"Dude, you're welcome to garth stuff with the Garth anytime," he says, picking the shovel back up to bury Rowland's remains. Castiel waves his hand, and both graves are filled, neat grass growing on top.
"Neat," Garth says, slapping Castiel on the back. "I just got one rule, though; no angel magic on my car. I got some cool tunes to show you, anyway."
As they leave, Garth hears Castiel mutter something about boys and their cars, and he laughs, loud and genuine.