Word Count: 1,000
Summary: You can't go home again.
When it had been happening, Castiel had accepted his inevitable slide away from grace and into mortality because there had been nothing else to do. Even so, he could not help disliking every slow, stinking inch of the journey. The frailness of his flesh, the shrinking limits of his perception. The endless yearning for home.
Once he had regained Heaven, that final grasping moment of being human seemed unreal: so briefly felt, so quickly outweighed by what came after. If his grace had not been marked by it -- a visible taint like a new, roping scar -- he would almost think it a figment. A false memory gifted to him by Gabriel, perhaps. But he needed only to spread his wings and let his tainted grace flare for that scar of humanity to be reflected back to him in the startled faces of his brothers and sisters.
Dean had once said: "You can't go home again." It had puzzled him at the time, but Castiel understood it now.
"Hi honey, I am home," he had said once to Sariel, after returning to Heaven from a brief, incorporeal visit to check up on Dean. The sarcasm had rolled out of him without thought.
She had stared at him, as she always did when he used human vernacular, and then replied, very carefully, "You must be very thankful for our Father's forgiveness."
Looking at her earnest face, Castiel had wanted very much to return to Earth, kidnap Dean, and drink a liquor store or two. Instead he replied, just as carefully, "There is much to be thankful for," and thought of Michael locked up in the cage, one less opponent to worry about.
There was rarely time for Castiel to make such trips to Earth (to Dean), but there was another way, and he took it, shamelessly, more often than he should; seeking a moment or two of respite from duty, and from what the Host had become.
Dean was dreaming of home.
(With a single thought, Sam was happy and alive and far, far away, and there was no guilt in wishing him so, not in this dream.)
Castiel didn't knock. He appeared in the kitchen, and Lisa smiled at him, offered him her cheek to kiss, and told him that Dean was in the garage. Her cheek was smooth and warm, and he breathed in the scent of her hair and murmured, "I missed you," to earn another smile. Before he went outside, Castiel opened a stubborn lid on a jar of homemade preserves, so that Lisa could use them as the filling for the pie she was making.
In the garage, Castiel found two sets of legs poking out from beneath the Impala, Dean telling Ben, "Tighten it just a bit more. That's it."
When Ben spotted Castiel, he slithered out from beneath the car with a gleeful shout of "Uncle Cas!" and knocked into him with an easy hug, one hand sliding into the pocket of his trenchcoat looking for sweets. Castiel ruffled his hair and let him steal a Milky Way, and then Dean was there, standing too close and staring at Castiel's mouth. Dean's hands were covered in grease and clenched into fists so he wouldn't reach out and make a mess.
Ben looked up at them staring at each other intently. "Yuck," he announced, with all the knowing disdain of a ten-year old. "Kissing alert! Bwaaaarp! Bwaaaarp!" He dashed off out of the garage, obnoxious and loud, despite all their warnings about not shocking the neighbours.
"You're late." Dean edged a little closer, nosing at Castiel's hair. "You promised you'd be home to tuck me and Lisa into bed two nights ago."
"Raphael," Castiel sighed, snagging his fingers into Dean's skin-warmed t-shirt, making sure he couldn't escape.
"I'm officially voting him off the island." Dean had made no secret of the fact that he lived in hope that God would smite Raphael one day, kind of like Castiel's resurrection in reverse.
Castiel would have agreed, but found himself being kissed instead, Dean's mouth warm and familiar (I gripped you tight; I know all of you) and so achingly human. "Mmmm," Castiel hummed, pleased with this turn of events, kissing Dean back, wet and alive and hungry.
When they were both hard and panting, Dean pulled away just far enough that he could look into Castiel's eyes, his grease-covered thumb touching down on Castiel's bottom lip. He was about to speak, Castiel could see the words shining inside him: something rare and sweet.
Dean's face glitched. "Dammit, no!" he said, and the dream shattered apart, Dean's alarm clock shrieking out the opening chords of Back in Black.
Castiel returned to Heaven and the distant sound of trumpets, the dream already sinking away into nothingness. Sariel moved to stand beside him, sword clasped tightly in her hand, ready for use; the sound of battle was far off, but rapidly drawing near.
Three battles ago, Sariel had asked, "Do you think our Father still loves us?" She had looked at him, as so many of the Host did now, as though he would actually know.
Castiel had wished he could offer her something more than, "Have faith, Sariel. We are all His works of art." He had not known how to explain to her that free will meant she could choose to love or not, believe in it or not, for her own reasons.
This time, she gazed out at the approaching force -- all the familiar faces of their brothers and sisters -- and her question was almost too soft for him to hear. "Why did you leave them?"
Castiel wondered how much of the dream she had seen.
"A little," she said. "The Righteous Man kissed you."
"He tends to do that in dreams."
She nodded: Dean Winchester's reputation was well known, even in Heaven. "You kissed him back."
Raphael's force was very close now. Castiel lifted his sword; he could feel the brightly-coloured scar of humanity twisting through his grace: a flaw of his own design. "I returned because I had to choose."
"Between God or Man," Sariel said, knowingly.
"No," Castiel said. "Between peace or freedom."
This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/360641.html.