rageprufrock: beach (Default)
[personal profile] rageprufrock
Title: Wayfinding, pt 5/?
Rating: R, for face-stabbing
Summary:

She sleeps better than she has in years, maybe ever, tumbling easy into bed and waking up with the sun inching across the foot of the mattress, green leaves vibrant outside her bedroom window. She feels good, all over, from the tips of her fingers down deep in her belly. It's alien, and a little too perfect already, and then a fucking bird drops onto the branch outside her window and starts serenading her, and Deanna rolls over onto her belly and settles her chin on her folded arms, watches it until it finishes chirping an extemporaneous symphony, drops into a fussy curtsy, and leaves with a shockingly familiar flash of wings, a flash of scarab-beetle blue in the leaves.

"Okay, Castiel," she laughs, feeling stupid and blushing, "now you're overdoing it."

When she gets downstairs, Dad and Sam are staring silently at the News & Observer, spread out between the two of them, each gripping coffee cups. Deanna would normally feel a spike of worry that they're fighting, or that they've just finished fighting, or that they're about to fight, but it's Sunday morning, her Dad's probably not going back to hell, and she could give a fuck about Sam and Dad and their will-they-won't-they-kill-each-other angst this beautiful morning.

"Morning," she says, and wanders around looking for coffee and sugar and the funny pages, distracted as she says, "I talked with Castiel last night."

"What," Sam and Dad say at once.

She blows across the surface of her coffee. "He didn't say anything about what work he has for you, though," she adds. "Sorry."

"When the hell did you talk to him?" Sam asks, the same time Dad yells, "God damn it, Deanna, you have to be careful with this shit!"

She makes them work for the details, not because they're particularly juicy or that she isn't editing — a lot, a lot a lot — about last night, but because she feels good, and she feels happy, and if Castiel was evil, they'd all be dead by now already. So maybe he is an angel, maybe he's the real deal, and even though Deanna will call bullshit on the idea of a benevolent God forever and ever amen, maybe there are good angels. She doesn't care what he says about not perching, he'd fixed her wine glasses, he'd pulled Dad out of hell, he'd probably sent a God damn bird this morning like a giant fucking creeper. She likes him. Being predisposed to liking people who pull family members out of hell is justified.

"Everybody's seen his wings," Sam complains, "everybody except for me. That's totally unfair."

"It's a hard fucking life, Sam," Deanna sympathizes, "but someone has to live it."
He pulls his patented bitchface at her.

"Hey, maybe you should hang around rinsing out recycling at three in the morning, who knows," she tells him brightly, "maybe you'll get lucky!"

She puts on a sundress, because it's summer, God damn it, and she loves the way the wind feels on her knees. She curls up in a hammock with her copy of Slaughterhouse Five for the rest of the day, letting its slow creak rock her to sleep in the dappled shade underneath a tree. When she wakes up, it's late afternoon, past four, and Dad and Sam are staring intensely at their barbecue, holding bags of charcoal and lighter fluid and crunched up bits of the metro section.

"You guys need help?" she calls over at them, because man, do they need help.

"I can light a damn barbecue, Deanna," Dad snaps back at her.

"Seriously," Sam follows. "Go back to sleeping. Or whatever."

She snorts, and does, which lasts about another half hour until she hears Dad saying, "Hell, you ask her, you quitter," and Sam muttering, "But I'm starving," and like a good daughter, a good sister, she takes mercy on her idiot family.

"Dad," she tells him, grave, holding the platter and watching Sam nearly drooling off to the side, "you know these steaks?"

Dad gives her a considering look, one eyebrow cocked like he can just tell she's being a sumbitch right now, but he says, "All right, I'll bite," grinning crookedly. He's holding a two-pronged grilling fork and he looks ridiculous.

"They weren't grass fed," she reports, woeful. "So you know, Sam can't have one."

Dad barks a laugh, and Sam says, "Oh, fuck you, Deanna!"

"That's a shame, son," Dad says, sympathizing. "But I understand."

"You two are hilarious," Sam mutters, reaching for the platter, and Deanna holds it away from him, snatching it just out of his reach.

It's warm and breezy and the air smells like smoke and green like grass, and next door, there's the familiar snik-snik-snik of sprinklers going off and Deanna can't remember the last time she felt this happy, the last time everything was so good, the last time everyone she loved was in one place.

"You have your principles, you have to stand by them," she tells him seriously. "Dad and I can just share yours."

"That's not funny," Sam says, urgent, stomach growling. "Guys! That's not funny!"

It's hilarious, and it stays funny after Deanna finally takes pity on Sam and gives him his steak and he eats it sullenly like she's going to try and steal it off his plate. Dad starts telling a story they've both heard a hundred million times, about the week Sam decided to be a vegetarian in the seventh grade, and how he'd ended up walking to a fucking Hardees on day seven, conviction wavering, and ordering a double whopper at two in the afternoon, ravenous. After the steak and baked potatoes are gone, Deanna unearths a lemon ice box pie she couldn't make Bobby take with him, and she eats two slices and watches Sam eat the balance, having never actually grown out of that hollow leg phase of his development. Dad sticks to beer, and smiling at them too fondly, and when the last orange slice of sun vanishes under the lip of the horizon, he slaps Sam on the shoulder and says, "Come on, dish duty, son."

They leave Deanna on the porch swing, to her fireflies and her Kurt Vonnegut in the yellow and buzzing light on the porch, pushing back and forth with one foot in the curls of summer wind that eddy around her ankles — and a gust that swishes the hem of her dress, the sudden weight of something bigger.

"Deanna," Castiel says, standing next to the swing and studying it.

She swallows back her surprise. "I'm getting you a bell."

He frowns at her. "Angels do not need bells."

"I disagree, a lot," she says, fierce, and tips her chin at the kitchen. "Dad's inside."

Castiel glances over one shoulder, to where Dad and Sam are talking, rinsing dishes and sticking them into the dishwasher, and Deanna's sure that in the next five minutes, if she keeps looking through the window, Sam will make his horrified face that Dad's going to put a big-ass bowl on the bottom, where it will keep the water from reaching any of the glasses on top. It will be a human fucking tragedy, according to Sam Winchester.

"I do not actually need to speak with him," Castiel says, turning back to her. He's still wearing his trenchcoat, his dark suit, his blue tie, still wearing his otherworldliness like a second skin. "My orders are to monitor and secure — not necessarily to interact."

Deanna cocks an eyebrow. People trying to communicate with her father through the filter of her and Sam is nothing new, particularly, but she'd thought better of angels. "Yeah? You seem okay talking to me."

"You, unlike your father, don't seem inclined to stab me every time we meet," Castiel tells her, and tilts his head at the swing. "May I sit?"

The blush, when it hits, is full-body, and Deanna hasn't felt this stupid and young since she was actually pretty stupid and young. She shuffles over on the porch swing, leaving room, and waves at it, nervous, says, "Go ahead."

He does, and the swing creaks under his weight, tipping forward dangerously for a second until Deanna steadies them with three toes, an expert at this sort of thing. For a moment, she holds them still, and then the swing moves on its own — or at least she thinks it does, until she slants a look over at Castiel to see his eyes flicking, up and down the boards of the porch in front of them and the swing moves in concert. Deanna smirks, lifts her toes, lets the swing rock.

"To be fair, you gave Dad a bad shock," she says, leaning back against the swingseat and watching Castiel, studying him, the line of his nose, the wrinkled collar of his white shirt. She wonders why he looks like this, if all angels are as effortlessly and unassumingly human-looking, if at the same time, they charge the air around them. "He doesn't usually just shoot everybody who walks in through the door."

"I was more referring to last night," Castiel tells her, turning to catch her gaze from the corner of his eyes.

She frowns. "Last night?"

"I dreamwalked," he explains, like that's as normal as picking up milk at the door or filling up a tank of gas. "He was resting, and I wanted to speak with him."

"Creepy," Deanna pronounces. She raises her eyebrows. "What did he do?"

Castiel looks back at the kitchen windows, where Sam is holding up the detergent and obviously talking about it earnestly. Dad looks despairing.

"He said he was going to stab me in the face if I didn't go away," Castiel relays, flat.

"That's my Dad," Deanna laughs. "What happened?"

"He stabbed me in the face," Castiel tells her, frowning like she's slow.

"Of course he did," Deanna says, because it's her father — why wouldn't he stab a guy in the face when he was (a) an angel and (b) the one who gripped him tight and raised him from perdition?

Castiel doesn't seem to mind, really, when she stares at him, and so she keeps doing it, looking at how he's framed in the orange light from the kitchen window and the dots of yellow of floating fireflies in the green-blue dark of night. Deanna thinks that Castiel is really very beautiful, that he is very much a surprise, that of all the constructions of angels, of heaven, she's ever been told or taught or wondered about, she never would have expected Castiel, of all people, to appear like a lightning storm.

She thinks, thank you, again, unbidden, because she can't help it.

Castiel's eyes flicker, from the ethereal dark blues of unexplored oceans to something closer to home, and he says, "You don't need to keep thanking me, Deanna."

"Ugh," she says, mortified, cheeks warm. "You don't need to keep reading my mind."

He's making that face again, like he would smile if he knew how. "I'm not," he assures her. "But your gratitude is brilliant and hardly well-concealed."

"Jesus Christ," Deanna mutters, squirming and embarrassed. She feels in awe of him, too curious, like when she'd been seven and Miss Forrester had worn polka-dot black dresses and kitten heels and bright red lipstick, been the most beautiful, interesting woman in the world. "You gotta work on those creeper tendencies."

Castiel looks curious. "Creeper," he repeats.

"You stare a lot," she explains. She would tell him how it's not like when other people stare, that leering is mostly revolting and calculation is worse, but that there is something about the way Castiel looks at people that makes her wish she'd washed up, first, makes her want to check under her nails, go to confession. "Plus, the bird."

"But you enjoyed the bird," Castiel argues. "And his song."

"What's this work for Dad, anyway?" Deanna asks, changing the subject, because she refuses to have an angel sitting on her back porch swing next to her only to argue with him about if he's being a creeper or not. Even though the answer is yes.

At this, Cas turns back to the kitchen window, shoulders tense.

"Your father's work remains a mystery to me as well," he confides, his voice a scrape stone over gravel. "I sought revelation last night after we spoke. There was none to be had."

She worries. "Then — "

"Humans are not tools, Deanna," Castiel interrupts, and he keeps staring at her father, looking intent. "Our Father created you to make your own choices. Your father will not be remanded to hell simply because he does not serve a cosmic purpose."

"But he does, doesn't he?" she asks, nervous anyway. He looks at her, like he's disappointed his reasoning isn't enough; she wants to believe him, but she's still mostly faithless, and life has mostly proven that's the right way to approach it. "I mean — you told him you guys had work for him, and now, you're still hanging around. There has to be a reason, right?"

Castiel gives her a look that Deanna is starting to read as "vexed."

"I had been told he did." He pauses and looks down at his hands, folded together, and looks surprised that they are. "But those orders have been rescinded — I'm now ordered to watch, and ensure his and his family's safety."

"I hate to break it to you, Cas," Deanna says, "that's sort of what a guardian angel does."

"Cas," he repeats, trying it out in his mouth.

"Castiel?" Deanna corrects, hating the way her voice tilts up in a question at the end.

Once, when she'd been waiting in line at the pharmacy, she'd read some bullshit article about how women tend to phrase things as questions, not because they were actually uncertain, but because it was how they were indoctrinated to put forth ideas. Deanna had thought it was total horseshit at the time, but of course, she was also in line at the God damn 24-hour Woolworth's at the asscrack of dawn for a Plan B pill so obviously her judgement was questionable at best.

Castiel only says, "No one's ever called me that before."

"I mean, I could stop," Deanna offers, except Castiel — Cas looks oddly disheartened by her offer, and before she can drill down into the layers upon layers of weird inherent in that, the back door opens.

"You want any coffee?" Dad asks, leaning out.

Deanna freezes, waiting for the boom. Only after ten seconds, after twenty seconds, after thirty seconds of Dad staring at her like he's starting to suspect Girl Troubles — he'd always said it with capital letters evident, like the province of her bustline and menstrual cycle was a nation state of shit he just didn't even want to know about — before Deanna slants a look to her side to find Castiel gone, just empty space on the swing next to her.

"Fucker," Deanna says, mostly to herself.

"Excuse me?" Dad asks, because even though he has the moral high ground of a coal miner to talk to her about language and behavior, he's also got enough of an old school chauvinist in him to wonder wish Deanna wouldn't act like such a boy.

"I would love coffee," Deanna tells him, and pushes off the porch swing, looping an arm into her Dad's as she follows him, barefoot, back into the kitchen, where Sam is doling out big mugs of joe in the warm orange light of the house.

Later that night, after Dad's drunk himself to sleep again, Sam goes to stand in her doorway and frowns at her until she asks, "Jesus, Sam, what?"

"You're not telling me everything," Sam informs her. "About talking to Castiel."

"I'll have you know I gave a full and robust report," Deanna protests, because she did, and because there's no reason Dad or Sam needed to know about the way Castiel's body had felt, trapping her against the kitchen counter, or how, exactly, he'd revealed his wings, how she'd wanted to touch them. Similarly, Deanna did not need to give her father any more excuses to stab his angel in the face.

Sam shakes his head. "No. You're keeping something from me."

"I've been meaning to tell you, Sam, but the world doesn't actually revolve around you," Deanna confides, because she might be joking right now, but sometimes, she actually fucking means that, and Sam actually fucking doesn't get it.

His frown transmutes into a glare. "Deanna."

"Samuel," she replies.

"Deanna," Sam repeats.

"Samuel," she sighs at him. "It was nothing, okay? I was putting something away in the kitchen, Cas had just come back from getting stabbed in the face in Dad's dream — "

"You didn't tell me this the first time," Sam cuts in, immediately, eyes gleaming, and Deanna knows she's fucking caught for sure now. Sam's pretty dumb, and worryingly gullible, but he's going to be a poisonously good lawyer one day.

Deanna shrugs and looks away, pulling her hair up into a ponytail and padding over toward her dresser. She can see Sam in the mirror, looking at her like she's a puzzle to be solved, and it would be disconcerting except that Sam's been doing that as long as she can remember. The irony is that what he sees is all she is; Deanna's never been anything more or less than just herself: 5'8", dark blonde, green eyes, likes pie, easy. She doesn't know what Sam's always been looking for, what he thinks he sees, but he's been staring, ever since he was just a baby and she was one, too.

She looks down at all the earrings she never wears, pairs them up with a finger, listens to them jangle. She says, "Okay, so fine, I left some salient details out. Big deal."

"How many other salient details did you leave out?" Sam demands, stomping into her room and crossing his massive arms over his massive chest, glowering down at her.

Deanna frowns at him. "Seriously, Sam, are you juicing?"

"Because Dad stabbing Castiel in the face doesn't seem like nothing to me," Sam just says, totally ignoring her question. He wrinkles his fivehead. "Have — have you been talking to him? I mean, have you talked with him? Since the kitchen?"

She shrugs. "Just a minute, tonight, on the back porch."

"I didn't see him," Sam says, suspicious as hell. "Neither did Dad."

"As Cas prefers not to be stabbed in the face, he decided to carry out his monitoring duties from a comfortable distance," she says, and the corner of her mouth tugs up, involuntary, at the memory of Castiel's face as he'd said it to her.

"Monitoring duties," Sam parrots.

"Apparently, whatever work heaven initially had for Dad has been canceled," Deanna tells him, and when Sam goes ashen and before he can ask, she puts a comforting hand on his arm and promises, "Cas says that nobody's taking him back. We get to keep him."

Sam stays frozen, looking punched in the gut for a beat before he finally manages a jerky nod, and Deanna just stands there, quiet and waiting for him to catch his breath again.

"I don't know what's happening either, Sam," she admits, "but I don't think Cas is the bad guy here — I think he's okay."

Instead of looking comforted or distrustful, Sam's face melts into glee.

"Oh my God," he cries. "You have a crush on him."

"Yeah, okay," Deanna decides, grabs him by one ear, and tosses him out of her room, Sam laughing, "Deanna and Cas sitting in a tree — K-I-S-S-I-N-G," the entire time.

*

The next two weeks are quiet. Too quiet, really, just Deanna and Sam and Dad, getting used to being in each other's spaces again. It's the longest uninterrupted stretch of time they've ever spent together with Dad getting a phone call and vanishing off onto a hunt, and the peace lasts maybe another four days before Dad and Sam are back at it again.

They fight over everything; they fight over nothing; sometimes, Deanna just sits and marvels, because one day she came home from work to find them screaming at each other about transmissions. Standing at the foot of the stairs, debating whether or not she cares enough to intervene, she realizes Dad's being an asshole in making an earnest fucking point about the superior driving experience of the stick and Sam's interpreting it as some sort of put-down of his decision to go to law school. She takes a bath instead, taking the iPod speakers Sam bought her for Christmas and cranking Back in Black to eleven, because she loves her brother and her father, but they can go fuck themselves.

They do a couple of local jobs: a poltergeist in Greensboro, a tiny troll in the basement at Allen & Son, for which they're paid like kings in barbecue, rousting a ghost from the eighth floor of Davis Library. She doesn't let Dad out of her sight, and she knows that he's starting to chafe at it, but he's been dead two years and back half a month, pardon the fuck out of her if she's a little paranoid.

"He can take care of himself, Dee," Sam tries.

"Yeah, he's so good at it he died," Deanna snaps.

"You can't keep keeping him locked down, dude," he insists. "You know how Dad gets — he's probably going to start building pipe bombs in the basement and writing a manifesto or something."

Deanna knows that's probably true, but still, the next three jobs that come calling are interstate, and she conveniently loses the number. The people who know John Winchester's back can be counted on one hand anyway — not even the Harvelles know, yet — and they all just accept it when Deanna says she and Sam can't get away.

"This is exactly the sort of shit Dad used to do when boys called looking for you," Sam warns. "You do not want to start acting like Dad, Dee."

She knows he's right, but she figures she'll see how much longer Dad manages to bite his tongue before he blows up at her. Every day she gets away with it is another one she doesn't have to worry he's getting jumped by a nest of vampires, choked to death by a ghoul, drowning after getting caught by a mermaid.

Anyway, there are more immediate problems than Dad's future occupation, because worse than Dad and Sam fighting is Dad and Sam getting along.

The only things they really share are (1) genetics, (2) uneven and violently protective instincts toward her, which is a fucking joke since she has better God damn aim than either of them on her worst day, (3) a love of obsessing over shit.

"Bobby says he might have found a lead in an old Sumerian myth," Sam says.

Dad just nods solemnly, like that means something, and makes a mark in his journal and says, "I also found something that might be useful in an old Coptic version of the Gospel of Mary."

It's day four of their decision to ferret out the truth of Dad's return. They've burned through the Judaic tradition, Islamic religious writings, most of the more conventional pagan doctrines, and taken a brief and fruitless detour into Hindu that had been hemorrhaged by the fact that not many reliable translations of occult documents existed. They're almost done driving Deanna insane talking about Zoroastrian tradition and Hoodoo and she thinks that if they circle back to Judeo-Christian myth trying to find clues to a mystery Deanna couldn't give two shits about solving, she's going to beat them both to death with a kitchen stool.

She doesn't know why they're so fucking desperate to decode it, to figure it out, to reason something that maybe just happened without any reason. Sam's always accused Deanna of having an incurious mind, but being incurious has its benefits and boons, and where Sam's always pushing, always prying, stepping on landmines left and right, Deanna's happy — or if not happy, she's content with — where she is, what she is, the way her life has shaken out in the end. She doesn't need to know why Dad's back, what his greater purpose is; if Dad's back, if the angels are going to just let it be, then why the fuck can't Sam and Dad?

"I am so fucking excited that you're going to New York in a week," she tells Sam feelingly that night. "I seriously cannot handle two of you going on like this much longer."

She means it, because that means one Winchester male will be out of her fucking hair and probably too busy killing himself doing his summer at Sullivan & Cromwell to encourage Dad's more self-destructive tendencies.

Instead of expressing regret for being a fucker, Sam looks at her with crazy eyes and says, "Hey, why don't you ask Castiel about it?"

"Aside from the fact that I haven't even seen that guy in like a week," Deanna says through gritted teeth, "what makes you think he's going to be any more chatty now than the other two times I asked him what the hell was going on?"

"Well," Sam says, perfectly stone faced, "absence does make the heart grow fonder."

"I fucking hate you," Deanna swears, and stomps upstairs, cheeks flaming.

For reasons Deanna doesn't want to examine in any depth, she ends up in the kitchen again that night, past two in the morning, staring at the silver dollar of the moon and the comforting, familiar shadows of tables and chairs. There's no thunder on the horizon and no lighting fringing the clouds hovering over the treeline, and she thinks, feeling horribly stupid, Cas? Castiel? And when she doesn't get an answer — which, obviously she doesn't get an answer — she feels her whole body get hot with embarrassment, and she tiptoes back up the house stairs, kicking herself so soundly she almost misses the shadow of a man standing over Dad's bed.




Happy reading!
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