Newbury, Massachusetts 1647
He couldn't breathe. The flames were coming nearer by the second as the sweat ran from his forehead down into his eyes. The smoke made his eyes water and he blinked the tears away as he frantically pushed and pulled at the restraints that tied him to the pole on the pyre. The rough material of the rope cut painfully into his wrists but at this point it didn't matter anymore. If he couldn't free himself from his bonds, he would die in a few minutes.
Ironically killed by the humans, who were gawking and cheering around the stake, that he had been trying to save from an evil demon earlier that day – if he hadn't been in this dire situation he would have laughed about that. He guessed the demon was standing somewhere in the background of the crowd having a good laugh at the idiotic demon hunter that had gotten himself caught while using magic.
It was an embarrassing rookie mistake, and he knew he should burn for this – but not literally for crying out loud!
And the day had started so well ... He had seen an angel in the woods. A beautiful woman with black wings like a raven, disheveled long, dark hair and ocean blue eyes. They hadn't spoken with each other, she just had just watched him as he had his first run in with the demon.
He had nearly caught the evil bastard at that point but the appearance of the angel had distracted him and the demon had gotten away. He had tried to track him with a spell then, and had been promptly spotted by some hysteric washerwomen which is what had gotten him into this blazing situation.
And now he was going to die. An appropriate end for the black sheep in the Winchester's family line of the Men of Letters. He could have been a scholar like his father and his grandfather but he had chosen to be a hunter, an adventurer – a man fighting in the dirt.
And now all his dreams of glory and saving the world from the evil corruption went up in flames so to speak. The only thing left was to pray. Maybe to that beautiful angel, that had probably been an angel of death – an omen of his oncoming destiny.
So Jack Winchester prayed as he closed his eyes and thought about the angel. He prayed for a quick death, for salvation, for the souls of the people around him – until he registered the sudden quietness. The unbearable heat around him was gone and he could breathe again. He could breathe in the cold, humid air of a winter's day. He could feel the cold wind and frozen snowflakes falling on his face. Slowly he opened his eyes, blinking against a bright, gray sky. He stood atop a mountain surrounded by other snow capped mountains and no sign of any civilization.
He knew he must have looked like a complete and utter fool with his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide as he turned around and gazed at the beautiful eyes of the angel that he had prayed to. “Um…”
Jack would have rolled his eyes at his nonexistent eloquence but the sight of that angel paralyzed every thought in his head. She tilted her head, her confusion obvious in the tilt of her eyebrow as if she was contemplating just leaving him here in the middle of nowhere without a word.
“Don’t go…,” he finally got out as he noticed her spreading her wings as if she was going to fly away again. She squinted at him curiously but then her eyes widened in shock: “You can see my wings.” Her voice was deeper than he had expected, sounding as if she wasn’t used to speaking with it.
“Yes, they’re gorgeous by the way,” Great, best way to get a seat in Hell, Jack. Having sinful thoughts about an angel. This time he did roll his eyes at the unhelpful comment his own mind supplied him with again. “What I meant to say was, I can’t thank you enough for saving my life. My name is Jack, Jack Winchester. I’m a demon hunter, former Men of Letters.”
“I know who you are,” the angel answered flatly, staring at him with an unblinking and curious gaze. Jack cleared his throat: “Of course you do. So are you telling me your name?”
She tilted her head again: “Castiel.”
Jack nodded: “Beautiful name… Um... not that I want to sound ungrateful but… um… why did you save me?” He looked around. “And where are we?”
Castiel smiled at him, only answering his last question: “The Himalaya.”
…. :::: :::: ….
There was only blind rage and darkness. Kill, kill, kill. Voices screaming in his head, so loud, so painful. Red. Black. Red. Copper smell of blood in his nose and on his tongue. His organs burned just like when his grace had finally filled his vessel again, burning away the last traces of the other angel’s borrowed grace. But back then he had known this would be over soon. He didn’t know now. This felt like being eaten alive, like burning in Hell’s fire, cold and hot at the same time. Consuming, wanting, always wanting more, never content… never. An unknown urge and pull screamed through his body like pulses from a deep and empty abyss in himself, wanting to destroy, to tear him apart, to take everything down and consume, consume like hell fire, unrelenting, unforgiving, unstoppable. Cold. Hot. Red. Black.
And suddenly there’s green.
Warm hands touching him, his face. A concerned voice. And this green. Familiar. Warm. Safety. A name tried to push itself through the forefront of his mind.
Castiel felt his vision slowly clearing, strong hands holding him at his shoulders, supporting him so he wouldn’t fall over. Why did he feel so weak? He tried to focus on the soothing voice and the green eyes in front of him. Dean? No…
Cas squinted his eyes at the man who was holding him. He had the same eyes as Dean, the same freckles covered his nose and cheeks. The rest looked different though. Dark stubble framed his mouth and chin, he had short, dark hair and his all over appearance reminded him a lot of John Winchester. “You’re not Dean…,” Cas winced in pain as the effort of speaking hurt his throat. He tried to focus his grace on healing himself but he couldn’t get a connection, he felt dizzy and weak and would have collapsed on the floor if the other man hadn’t been holding him up.
“Easy there… Do you want to sit down?” The man asked with a deep, soothing voice.
Cas nodded and the man helped him sit down on the cold concrete floor. Cas looked around trying to understand what had been happening to him. He remembered Rowena… she was completing the spell to free Dean from the Mark of Cain and then… nothing…
“What happened?” Cas asked in confusion. “Where is Crowley?”
The man pointed at the dead body of Oscar on the floor. “You mean this poor fellow?”
“No, I mean the King of Hell. Who are you?” Cas had only just noticed the old fashioned clothes the man who was kneeling in front of him wore. He had a crossbow strapped across his back and daggers at the sides of his dark leather coat.
The man gave him a sad smile: “My name is Jack Winchester… Castiel. What happened to you? What happened to your wings?”
Cas’s eyes went wide with surprise. How did the man know his name and… : “You can see my wings?”
“I always could. From the moment I met you,” Jack’s voice was barely above a whisper. Cas felt the sadness that emanated from the man’s soul as he slowly felt the connection to his grace come back. “I can’t remember you…” He said as he squinted his eyes at the man, now that he was able to feel Jack's soul he could tell the man was telling the truth about his name. That must have been the reason why he looked like John and like Dean Winchester. He was an ancestor of theirs. But he couldn't remember ever having met him before.
“I know you can’t remember me. An angel named Naomi caught you and made you forget about me.”
Cas growled as he heard that name. He remembered that Naomi had told him that she had gone into his head repeatedly, trying to fix him, and he always suspected that she had deleted a lot of his memories. He had noticed huge dark gaps of nothingness when he tried to recall his past. His eyes darted back to Jack Winchester, he felt an overwhelming sadness and longing coming from him. A feeling of emptiness in a silent prayer. Something he was used to feeling from Dean: “I apologize for not remembering you…”
“It’s not your fault.” Jack got up to his feet and held his hand out for Cas to grab it. Cas took it gratefully, not that he would have needed the support to stand up anymore but as a way of delivering human contact he felt the other man needed at the moment.
“Can you tell me what happened?” Cas asked, still trying to puzzle everything that happened together in his mind. Jack glanced around looking lost: “I can’t tell you much. I was in the woods running from a demon. I used a time portal to come here and landed right in this building at your feet. You got hit by a powerful curse from a witch. You were lucky I got to you in time to lift it from you.”
“You saved me?” Cas asked, astonished by the powers this human possessed.
“Yes, my training as a Men of Letters sometimes comes in handy, even if I try not to think about it. So what happen to you, Castiel?”
“It’s a long story. I’ll explain on the way if you would accompany me. I have to find Dean.”
“You mentioned this name before. Who is he?” Jack asked with a raised eyebrow.
Castiel smiled warmly at him: “Dean Winchester. I think you are one of his ancestors.”