[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.
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xaara

May 2010

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