Title: While I Break
Genre: AU - canon, angst, H/C, pre-slash.
Characters, Pairing(s): Sam/Cas, Dean.
Word Count: 1883
Warnings: some violence, probable spoilers.
A/N: I'd like to thank my betas - rock_chick_333, nicole_sill, verucasalt123 & kimberlelly. This is one of the darker stories.
Summary: It took five months for Castiel to allow himself to be human.
Castiel refuses to believe he’s human.
There are things the Winchesters do with ease that Castiel can’t even pretend to do correctly. Even small children seem more capable with their hands than Castiel is. So what is he if not an angel? He still can’t even tie his shoe laces properly after the first week.
That aside, though, the clumsiness takes a bit more time to get used to.
Castiel trips over his laces, uneven sidewalks, rocks, other people’s feet, and sometimes small animals. It usually results in him scraping his elbows, his knees – or his face when he lands head first on the pavement. (That was worse than his usual injuries since he was convinced he could still fly.)
Every time Castiel follows the Winchesters outside for some fresh air, he collects a new, irritating injury to go with his shattered pride. There’s no duty involved in these marks, no reward, no honour in carrying them. They’re just there to spite him, to rub the truth in his face.
And, every time Sam sees a new puncture, a cut, more raw skin, he carefully covers it up with a bandage so Castiel can pretend it isn’t there. Castiel didn’t like the Sesame Street ones at all – too obnoxious and obvious – so Sam starts buying Castiel the see-through ones instead. Then no-one but Castiel can know how many times he’s hurt himself that week. It’s easy enough for Castiel to forget the bandages are stuck to his skin, too.
There’s only, possibly, one good thing about this useless body, and it’s Dean’s favourite pastime.
Dean helps Castiel cope with his ‘uncooperative vessel’ by drinking with him. Castiel thinks he’s still able to consume as much as he used to – even manages to convince Dean of that fact – but he turns out being wrong. Castiel has even less tolerance for alcohol than Sam does, now that he’s fallen.
Castiel ends up vomiting in garbage pails, on his beloved sidewalks while tripping over them, in women’s bathrooms – when the men’s is too far to get to – and on most of Dean’s best shoes. Not only that, but the following morning is always hell for all of them. An angel having to deal with a serious hangover means that everyone in close proximity should suffer.
Sam finds a solution for that, too, in acetaminophen with codeine. And, unfortunately, Castiel feels well enough to resume drinking that same night with Dean.
Dean thinks it’s awesome having a willing drinking partner – unlike Sam – until they have to rush Castiel to a hospital when he almost dies of alcohol poisoning one night. Sam doesn’t let Dean bring Castiel drinking unattended again after that.
The first thing Castiel breaks is mostly an accident: his cellphone.
The irritating woman was telling him he ran out of minutes again, and Castiel didn’t want to be reminded of how far he’d fallen to need such an idiotic device in the first place.
It shatters when he throws it against the nearest wall, the battery falling out – still intact. Castiel walks over to it, without hesitation or fear of the consequences, and steps on it, crushes it under his shoes until there’s nothing left of that as well.
It feels good. It feels great actually. Castiel hasn’t felt better.
The second time is planned.
The cluttered way of the room Bobby has set up for him has Castiel feeling claustrophobic. There are dressers everywhere, clothes and furniture and electronics lining every wall, boxing Castiel in, making him wish his wings would reappear just so he could stretch them out, and knock everything to the floor at once.
It takes a lot longer with his bare hands, but he succeeds.
The lamp’s bulb breaks, crashes with a satisfying sizzle when the current of electricity is cut so suddenly. Castiel smashes all of the pieces of it, rips through the shade until there’s nothing left but shreds of fabric in his palms.
It feels almost as good as the first time. It still feels good enough that Castiel feels no guilt about destroying his charge’s property. His friend’s property. He’s too weak now to protect them as he once was able to.
The final thing Castiel breaks, the last thing he can spare, can replace easily, is his mirror. And it’s the most pre-meditated action he’s done.
Castiel spends ten minutes taking out the screws, and then scratching away the glue. He yanks it off the wall, quick and merciless, letting it fall at his feet on the floor of the bathroom. The white and black tiles are covered in the pointy shards, but the pieces are still too large.
He can still see who he is, what form he’s stuck in. He can still see that Jimmy Novak will be how he looks forever now. That he will never be Castiel, the angel, ever again.
It’s stupid, he thinks, expecting to crack a broken mirror with bare feet, but the pain only urges him on, forces him to be rougher, press down harder, and smother the blue eyes and dark hair that don’t belong to him. Never will.
The mirror is like ash between his toes, powder, remnants of what it used to be, just dust that will be easy to sweep away and never think about again. But Sam’s reaction makes Castiel rethink that.
Sam is angry, pushing Castiel to sit on the bathtub while he wipes up all the blood on Castiel’s feet. He swears under his breath nonstop, wincing when he has to pull pieces from between Castiel’s toes, but Castiel feels nothing. At least, nothing like pain. He feels relief.
Castiel explains why he did it when Sam asks, and Sam stops swearing. He cleans Castiel in silence after that. Castiel doesn’t know what he’s thinking, and that only further reminds him of how useless he’s now become. He can’t even listen in on Sam’s thoughts anymore.
Castiel is still covered in cuts – and consequently bandages – but he’s not smashing his few human possessions anymore.
He takes care of his new lamp, even tries to fix the old one a few times (until he’s sick of cutting his fingers open). He goes to a shop and picks out a new cellphone with Sam, something cheaper to save them money.
He also tries to get used to walking around without falling, but it’s just not his thing. So he concentrates on his hands. He starts making his own clothes, reads recipes and tries them out, even combs his hair. Shaving he’s too afraid to try, though.
When that’s not enough, he tries interacting with people at stores and in the street, offering them directions even though he’s lost himself, and smiles at anyone who glances his way.
Generally, he’s being more positive. At least, it looks that way to people who don’t know Castiel. Dean and Sam are in no way convinced.
Every time Sam enters Castiel’s room, he’s mumbling things in Enochian, his hands clutched together and his eyes closed. Sometimes he says things in English, too. Pleading, begging, promising he won’t use his powers for anything but good if only he can have them back soon.
And then Castiel assumes that if he doesn’t exert his leftover powers, tries not to use them as much – not that they work, really – that they’ll return to him.
Sam is usually the one who tells him it won’t work. Dean just tells Castiel to knock himself out.
When Castiel buys a goldfish, trying to appreciate another type of life form, he names it after his fallen brother, Gabriel. It dies, accidentally.
Castiel had tripped while carrying the bowl, and when it landed on the carpet, his body crushed it. Castiel prays that night that he would use his powers to resuscitate it. To give all creatures help and a second chance at life, if only he could have them back.
But even Castiel knows it’s just an excuse.
Castiel stops breaking things, doesn’t argue, doesn’t fight, and doesn’t even bother speaking to Him. He just sits around with a blank stare on his face, watches TV, and does nothing else all day.
Eating isn’t a concern of Castiel’s at this point. He buys snacks and drinks from the local convenience store, and lives on those empty calories as long as he needs to. When Castiel gets ill from his poor diet, only then does he allow Sam to share his salad or fruits with him.
Castiel’s hygiene suffers as well. He doesn’t shower until Dean complains about a smell (like rotting garbage or mildew), or until Sam nudges Castiel to take one. Otherwise, he’s neutral to the odours, the pains, the sun setting and rising. All of it.
Castiel has given up; not interested in anything even remotely human-related or what Earth has to offer. He’s reached resignation in its purest form, and he can’t give a damn about not giving a damn.
Sam can tell Castiel’s hit rock-bottom because he won’t even bother speaking to them, and they’ve always been the ones he’s made an effort to understand and live amicably with. They’re supposed to be his family, not just his charges – especially not his charges since he’s fallen so far – but his closest friends, the ones he can ask for help from when he needs support.
It hurts Sam to see Castiel this way, but offering a hand will mean nothing if Castiel doesn’t want it. Dean, obviously in permanent denial, says Castiel will find a way out of this slump when he wants to.
And if Castiel doesn’t want to, what happens then?
The fifth month is different.
It’s different because Sam stops trying. He gives up on Castiel, and starts going down the same, depressing road that Castiel has. Seeing someone so strong, so positive, suddenly give up and become deathly silent in a matter of weeks utterly shatters Castiel’s world.
So Castiel tries. He tries harder – for Sam to know his efforts weren’t wasted.
Castiel finally allows the truth in, and begins to embrace his humanity. He takes care of himself, sleeps well, and eats well - listening to all of Sam’s earlier advice. Castiel watches Dean’s TV shows with him, and argues about movies and pies, but doesn’t let this pastime take up more than part of his day. He doesn’t stay home once Dean and Sam leave for supplies or food; he follows.
Sam sees this, notices right away that Castiel is making an effort, and it makes his own broody behaviour retreat. He’s proud of Castiel, so he treats him to human things he wouldn’t know about; the things Castiel was ignoring before. He teaches Castiel about other methods of transportation, varieties of food, music that isn’t 80s rock, and other sweets that don’t have crust.
And Castiel realizes there’s still a lot he can do with this body. There’s so much more to the world than just suffering and waiting. There’s all of humanity, fighting for good, caring. Castiel cares again, and that includes caring about the body which is completely his now.
And all the ways he can use it to make life for Sam just a bit easier.
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