[personal profile] xaara
I posted here a while back—a looong while back—saying I was abandoning this journal for a lot of reasons. At the time, it was true. I fully intended to leave and not to return.

However: I may have lied. I blame this on Supernatural, which has grown into such a beautiful, complex, and honest show that I am once again compelled to write back to it, to find my way into its world and its mythology. (Also, Castiel has run far, far away with my heart.) I thought about starting a new journal, but I didn't want to become a new fic-person or go through the trouble of rediscovering all my old fic-people, so I decided to stay me here. How's that for convoluted use of pronouns?

Having said that: it's been a very long time since I've written anything but poetry. Even longer since I've written fic. (Like, three years). It may be a bit until I regain my sealegs, so I'm starting somewhere small, with a little coda to the latest episode. A morning. Some words. A blooming.

--

Title: that it was good
Author: [livejournal.com profile] xaara
Rating: G
Timeline: post 5.14 (spoilers if you squint)
Characters: Dean, Castiel (gen)
Summary: A sunrise, a cup of coffee, and a conversation.

With the morning, silence. Sam's shouts stilled by sleep or exhaustion, the crepuscular hum of the desert hushed. The sun staggers over the horizon veiled pink and orange, and Dean rises with it, untangling himself from his sheets, dressing, feeling his way to the kitchen. He runs the water in the sink until the rust clears and uses it to wash his face and then to fill the coffeepot. Grinds twelve cups worth of beans, wincing at the whine of the grinder against the pressure at his temples. The promise of coffee wakes him while he brushes the grounds into the filter, closes the lid, flips the switch. A mild gurgle as the first slow drops fight their way through tubes crusted and calcified by years of hard water.

When a cup gathers, Dean pours it into a mug that looks clean enough and sets the pot back to finish brewing. He tops his mug with a shot of whiskey to stave off the hangover collecting behind his eyes, and steps out into the early morning cool. Careful in his bare feet over the planks, he crosses the porch to a broken recliner Bobby's set up overlooking the yard. The chair receives him with dignity, permanently upright as it may be, and Dean sinks into it with a sigh.

The first sip of coffee, harsh and welcome. The slow afterburn of the whiskey, from throat to stomach to the finest capillaries, spreading counterfeit warmth. As he raises the cup to his lips a second time, Castiel appears beside him.

He thinks he should be surprised but can't muster the energy. So he sits and drinks and Castiel stands and stares out over the field of broken glass and twisted metal and together they watch the morning blossom. Maybe they should be counting these: the mornings. Maybe one of these will be the last morning. They will not know until afterwards; they won't have known to bear witness.

"And the evening and the morning were the first day," says Castiel.

Dean's breath bursts from him in a short, ugly rasp. "Figures he got it backwards."

Castiel frowns, looking at him for the first time. "The passage doesn't refer to the chronological passing of one day. God pulled the light from the darkness, when earth was without form."

Dean downs the rest of his coffee. "Too early for theology," he says. He can feel Castiel's eyes on him, his unblinking stare. He straightens his back and watches the yard. The sun has crested the horizon, full and bright through the lingering haze. He tries to imagine something that could separate the sun from the universe. Something that took the time to gather and stitch together molecules of hydrogen and helium, and to set a little sphere of rock to warm beneath its light, and to set even tinier smudges of life on the rock to live and die and love and hate and multiply. He tries to imagine it like this instead of the other way: a playroom with molecules smashed into fusion, a stray set of toys abandoned at the fringes of warmth, fighting for attention.

"How do you know?" Dean asks suddenly. "How do you know whether he's listening?"

Castiel turns away. He inhales. Dean hears a thousand sermons, a thousand platitudes, passages, assurances. The breath leaves without these, with a soft, "You don't."

"But you think he is."

Quiet chasms between them. At last: "I hold hope."

Dean nods. His stomach complains at the presence of acid and alcohol without the buffer of food, but he ignores the grumble and pulls his feet up until he's sitting cross-legged, curled over himself. "And if he's not?"

"I have wondered," Castiel begins, then hesitates. He starts again, "I don't ask that He listen to me as you imagine. I know when I offer prayer, He is present in the air I draw to speak and the sounds that form my words and the ground beneath my feet." Castiel seems to shrink, left foot scuffling back as he rests his weight on the right. Dean thinks of the warrior who introduced himself with shadow-wings and a voice like gravel and thunder. This man is impossibly frail in comparison, like he has molted from falcon to sparrow. A soldier fighting a war of smoke and mirrors.

"Not a real helpful guy, then."

"It's useless to conceive of Him in earthly terms," says Castiel. "He is both the creator and product of faith." Dean thinks he hears a hint of a smile when Castiel continues, "Unlike His angels, He can't be reached by cell phone."

"Too much to hope he ever dials in to angel radio?"

"Dean."

"Just asking."

They lapse into silence once more. Finally, Castiel says, "You wonder whether you lack faith."

"No," says Dean. "I've lacked faith for about two decades now."

"You have great faith. It isn't a mark of faithlessness to wonder."

"Oh, I wonder plenty. I wonder how I'm going to keep Sam safe. I wonder how long this apocalypse is going to take to wipe us out. I wonder whether I'm going to die fighting, or stabbed by something in my sleep, or in a goddamn car accident. Sorry if I don't devote much time to wondering about your boss upstairs." He rocks forward and sets his feet back on the porch, ending the conversation.

But Castiel won't let it go. "You wonder whether that is why Famine did not affect you." He comes closer, shadowing Dean. "You wonder whether you...whether you returned whole."

"What I wonder," Dean says, meeting Castiel's eyes, anger gathering high in his chest, "is whether angels are some mutant form of badger with wings."

"We are unrelated to any quadrupedal furred mammal," says Castiel with the tilt to his head and furrow between his eyebrows that means he has spectacularly missed the point.

And Dean throws his head back and laughs, startling himself and also, apparently, Castiel, who takes a step back. Dean tries to explain, "No, a badger, as in, you know, badgering," but the furrow of confusion deepens and he concedes with a smile and a "Never mind." He stretches, feels the creak of joints worn by age and abuse. His stomach growls again as the coffee works to wake him. "I'm gonna head in, grab some breakfast."

Castiel nods approval. "Coffee and whiskey provide insufficient energy for the upcoming day."

"I take it," says Dean, rising, "you're over hamburgers?"

A grimace, a careful, "Yes."

They walk to the door together, man and angel, and Dean turns to go in when he feels the touch of fingertips at his elbow. He pauses, a question in the angle of his shoulders.

"There are others to ask, Dean," says Castiel, so close that his breath ghosts along Dean's jaw. "In the evening, and in the morning, there are others."

When Dean turns, mouth half-formed around a response, Castiel has disappeared.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-16 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carrole.livejournal.com
Oh, this is good. You nailed them. What a good coda for the episode! I am reccing to my spn friends. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-17 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you think so. I've been mulling this over and over ever since the episode aired, because they're such a delicate pair. Or if not delicate, delicately balanced.

Also, I heart me some angel.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-17 05:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carrole.livejournal.com
Oh, definitely. Cas is made of epic win.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-16 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quellefromage.livejournal.com
YAY!! You're back!! and with awesomely lovely fic.

I was just thinking how much what Michael said to Dean was like that story you wrote, what? First season?

Anyway, this made my day. Welcome home, sister.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-17 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
Hehe, I couldn't stay away. I tried, honest!

And actually, now that you mention it, that was a strangely prescient story. I love watching the Big Guys duke it out onscreen, with our favorite boys caught in the Web o' Destiny. It's gotten so epic. (I mean, that's a word that's tossed around quite a bit, but here it really applies.)

Thanks. :) I'm sorting through a few ideas with less fluff and greater substance, so hopefully I will be able to work on more soon!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-17 08:31 am (UTC)
ext_13391: (SPN: ai piedi della croce [Dean])
From: [identity profile] smilla02.livejournal.com
This is a lovely piece. I love the queit feel of this; the warm glow of the sunrise makes it hopeful at a time when hope is in such short supply.

[And I saw you friended me so I came to investigate. Then realized that you've written some of my fav fics back in the days and that made me squee a lot.]

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-18 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
Thank you. I thought that episode screamed (rather literally, if we want to take it down the Road of Pun) for a coda. And I've been flirting with the idea of working my way back into fandom for a while now, so there you go.

Also: thank you! :) I've been out of the loop for so long, but I've been trying to track down some of the people whose work and recs I trust to get a little headstart back in. Is there anything/anyone I simply must read? The longer the better, as I'm only working part-time these days and have lots of luxurious free time.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-19 11:37 am (UTC)
ext_13391: (SPN: angel of the lord)
From: [identity profile] smilla02.livejournal.com
The episode needs as much coda as people can write, there was so much going on with everybody! I'm still struggling with my own; luckyli we have the hiatus. Anyways, it's good to have back a good writer like you. :)

Recs. I'm going to rec you a comm, [livejournal.com profile] sawedoff_recs which has a tons of beautiful stories recc'ed in any genre and divided by theme and pairing. I'm mostly a gen girl, so my own recs over there focus on that. My rec tag at my LJ has also many recs if you want more, or my delicious. If you like Dean/Castiel (in a shippy sense) I can't rec enough everything [livejournal.com profile] aesc and [livejournal.com profile] trinityofone have written. Aesc writes sweet gorgeous stories that capitalize on the friendship between them, and trinityofone has a feel for storytelling that's simply amazing. Also, [livejournal.com profile] oselle has recently written a trilogy. I haven't read the last story yet, but I trust her enough to say for sure it's going to be gorgeous.
Hope it helps.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-19 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
So I answered this comment with my other journal and then thought I copied the answer so I could post it under this journal instead, but apparently didn't, and yeah. *fails at internet*

The gist of it (in case you don't get these all emailed to you, in which case it's a moot point), was thank you times a million for recommendations. I've just started reading "The Land of Unlikeness," which is one of the best things I've come across in a while. So beautifully balanced and measured and harsh. It's going to be loads of fun to comb back through your recs for all that stuff I've missed.

And thank you for the nod at your community, since I've been pulling some stuff from there, too, and it's all been top-notch so far. Off to read!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-17 04:18 pm (UTC)
onthehill: yuri plisetsky gives a thumbs down (scissors)
From: [personal profile] onthehill
HI!
I don't think I've ever seen anything by you before.... but this? SOOOO good! I want to wrap it up and keep it. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-18 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
Thanks! We probably haven't encountered each other. I was writing back in the day, mostly during the beginning of season two, a.k.a the Paleolithic. It's nice to have you stop on by. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-18 06:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erinrua.livejournal.com
Absolutely gorgeous. Thoughtful, poetic, painfully serene. Thank you for sharing this.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-18 06:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
Thanks for reading. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-21 09:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jacyevans.livejournal.com
This is absolutely breathtaking. The entire piece is so quiet and serene, while still holding onto that same undercurrent of the pain that Dean is feeling right now. Just gorgeous.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-22 05:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
Thank you very much. It's fun to write these little moments in time, mostly because the show doesn't have the luxury of taking hours to discuss every quiet conversation its characters have. (That's why they have us! :P)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-27 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lassiterfics.livejournal.com
What a lovely coda! And you have a real way with words. I like especially these turns of phrase:

spreading counterfeit warmth.
they watch the morning blossom.
he has molted from falcon to sparrow.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-02 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
Sorry it's taken me so long to reply to this. It's because I haven't yet commented on your two Cas-as-words metafiction things. I've been trying to find the words to reply to yours, and they aren't coming. In the interests of full disclosure, I understand how silly it is not to reply to this comment because I haven't made a comment of my own, but the brain, she works like that.

Anyway. Thank you. I'm working through a lot of prose-writing issues right now (namely, writing prose), so it's wonderful to hear nice things. :P

And now back to figuring out how to comment on your fics, and also to writing a short piece that seems to be resolving itself into iambic prose. *is failure at not being nerd*

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-03 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] soydolcelatte.livejournal.com
I don't know you and pretty sure I've never read anything of yours but this is amazing. Its perfect characterization and the poetic quality of your writing completely captures the serene moment amidst the pervasive chaos. Thank you for writing this and keep it up! :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-04 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xaara.livejournal.com
It's been a really really long time since I've written anything fandom-related. It's awesome to be back in the game, though.

Thank you so much for the comment--I feel like the show (mostly because it has to fit itself into 46-odd minutes a week) doesn't get a lot of opportunity to explore quiet moments. It's always gratifying to give the boys a break.

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May 2010

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