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[fic] see (for balder12)

Title: see
Recipient: balder12
Genre: Gen
Pairing/Characters: Gen; Castiel, Dean, Sam, assorted angels
Rating: G
Word Count: 1475
Warnings: body horror, conceivably
Summary: Traveling with a seraphim opens all kinds of eyes.
Notes: For the spn_j2_xmas exchange! I didn't manage to hit any of the prompts, but you seemed to like true forms, and I LOVE true forms, so I gave it a quasi-experimental shot. No plot here, just consciousness. Hope you like it!

Is it bigger than a bread box?

Overhead the sky is curling, red, putrescent. Like peeled skin. Dean sits, looking up, watching the veiny nighttime clouds bulging, contracting.

“Bigger,” says Benny, from the opposite side of the tree they rest against. Dean can hear him paring his fingernails with his teeth in the pauses of his speech. It's a sick noise.

Dean breathes through his nose. “Bigger than the Empire State Building?”

“Never saw it.”


“Too far north, brother.”

“Even in postcards?”

“You're using up your questions.”

Unbidden, Dean thinks of Cas. Shifts his blade against his leg so its flat is across his thigh, bloody, still; sticky. Sucks and pulls at the denim of his jeans. He's been smelling all night for the river, hoping it smells like rivers back home—cold mud, rotting plants. If they keep going west they'll hit it; if they keep going west, he'll be there. There is a swathe of round empty space along the trunk of this tree, between himself and Benny, and Dean feels lopsided, out of balance. Every time he turns his head he half-expects to see Cas sitting there beside him.

“Animal, vegetable, or mineral.”

“Hm. Animal.”

Pressed up flat against the putrid sky the trees are like paper cut-outs. Dean looks west. That's where Purgatory's twin moons are hanging, white bloated things. They don't so much shine as ooze.

Far in the distance he watches something massive heave itself up from the ground, so tall it seems to graze the clouds, and he doesn't stir—it's so far away that even the human stink of him won't reach it. It moves like he imagines giants might. Slow, deliberate.

Just another resident of this place. Maybe something long-dead, prehistoric.

“Does it walk on two feet?”


Dean's fingers curl around the hilt of his blade, tight, until his knuckles are flush against his skin. The massive thing lingers in one spot—must be miles on miles away—it glows like a jellyfish, softly.

He watches it lower itself again, vanish into the trees. He hopes it'll be long gone by the time they head out that way.

“You still playin'?”

But Dean has forgotten his train of thought, the questions he's asked and not-asked. He stands up, knees aching; slings his blade over his shoulder and moves a little ways into the trees.

Benny doesn't seem to notice or to care.

Careful of reaching hungry branches Dean peers through the blackened trunks towards the place where the thing had been, curious, waiting for a glimmer of its light.

He doesn't notice it at first, following them, until a day or two after Cas has fallen into step with them. The movement of his coat and the crack of twigs beneath his feet is making Dean fidget. Cas is loud, and Dean's not sure how he survived this long, out here on his own.

He only sees it when they've circled back towards the river to wash up and drink. It's standing among the battered trees, very calmly, looking towards them—as tall as a mountain and just as solid, pulsing gently with blue light, and Dean's brain can't even formulate it—cascades of scale-like feathers, blinking eyes from every surface, blind-looking.

He gives a shout of warning and Cas and Benny startle, lifting up their heads in arcs of water, snapping to attention, and Dean expects them both to surge forward but instead they just freeze, looking dumbly into the trees.

“What?” says Benny, and dips his face back down towards the water.

Dean blinks, turns to them; only Cas is looking at him now, with small confusion on his face.

“You don't see that thing?” Dean says, thrusting a finger back towards the beast.

But neither of his companions answer. They even turn their backs on him, scrubbing mud and dirt and blood from their faces with handfuls of water.

His heart is in his throat when he turns back to it, but the thing hasn't moved—it's crouching, now, and behind the three sets of furling wings rippling around its body Dean can see fingers, long, spindly, like delicate spider legs, making washing motions against its face. Mimicking.

He hears Cas stand in the water, and at the same time the thing stands, too—and he sees the thread, like a gossamer cord, strumming gently in the air from the thing across the clearing, and over his head, and resting, delicately, on the water.

It disappears up the back of Cas' coat, and he understands.

“Dude,” he breathes, mostly to himself, “you're gigantic.

But Cas has already begun to move up the eastern bank, and Dean watches the giant step softly into the water, following after.

It stays, even after Purgatory, even after Dean's eyes have gotten used to blue skies again. It stands at a respectful distance everywhere Cas goes, now that he is back: constantly moving, limbs and wings and eyes shifting and rippling. Dean doesn't mention it, doesn't talk about it, tries not to hear the way its body sings when it moves, like soft snapped notes off a hallelujah chorus.

Sam doesn't see it. Benny doesn't see it. No one, it seems, can see it, except for him.

In Oklahoma City Cas sleeps, or pretends to sleep, and Dean goes out to meet it in the parking lot under cover of the night. It stands, higher than two lampposts stacked on end, all its milky eyes closed, sheathed away. It stands perfectly still, wrapped in its wings. Dean remembers reading about seraphim, their strangeness, their modesty—but hadn't thought they'd be so—

He doesn't get too close. The dark wind pushes gently at it and he hears the metallic ringing hymn-noise of feathers rustling in the breeze.

He stands there, for a while.

He starts to see the others.

Samandriel is so small and dies out so quickly that he hardly sees it at all. A glimmer of spinning wings and flashing eyes, like an imprint from staring at the sun too long; by the time Cas has vanished with the body it's like nothing was ever there at all. An emptiness.

Naomi is a black tower, and he isn't surprised. She's Kubrick's monolith, a blank shape punched out of the universe, impenetrable, unutterable. It looms over her, in that wet lot, Cas at his side; it looms heaving and resonating.

And Metatron is too big to see—a blankness, a white light so furious that Dean can hardly stomach it. It wipes out the sky in every direction, in every window for as far as Dean can see. It's a relief to turn back to the shivering silence of Cas, the pluck of the gossamer string, the jellyfish glow.

Gadreel is cold and massive and Dean tries not to look at the thread that disappears into the back of Sam's jacket. It's like a fishing line. He knows exactly what it is connected to—the scar on Sam's spine that never went away. It makes him feel chilly and sick.

Sam catches him staring, but takes it as concern. Doesn't know that the thing bending down over his head is twice the size of Cas, and vibrating with the effort of remaining compressed beneath the bunker's ceiling. Somehow, Dean knows, were Gadreel to unfurl the whole black smudge of himself in the open air, he'd be awful—awful in the old sense—hard to look at.

Gadreel doesn't glow. He oozes like a Purgatory moon. He leaves charcoal in the prints of Sam's boots.

When Cas is full-up and glowing with new grace Dean stops looking at the thing that follows at his heels. He doesn't recognise it anymore.

Is it bigger than a bread box?

They play this game sometimes when the road is long and dark and the moon is snuffed out. There are no angels in the back-seat. Not anymore. Sam is driving; Dean lets his head rest on the cool window, watching cars pass to his left. As they go he clamps his eyes shut, lets the lights freeze and stream across his eyelids.

“Bigger,” Dean says. He's picturing a silvery jellyfish glow, gentle white eyes, all swiveling, all focused on him. He can almost see them in the dots of light behind his lids. The image is blurry; it hasn't stood before him in years.

“Is it—bigger than the Empire State Building?”

Dean thinks for a moment.

Empire State: one thousand two hundred and fifty feet. Chrysler, like he'd said, forever ago: one thousand and forty six. Smaller.

But. Millions of feathers, and millions of eyes, and millions of pieces of song.

He misses it. It hits him, from the opposite direction, at sixty miles an hour.

“Bigger,” he says, because it is.

Bigger, bigger.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 5th, 2014 04:37 am (UTC)
Holy crap, that was amazing! You're right, I adore true forms, and these were gorgeous and haunting. I love that Naomi looks like the monolith, and that Gadreel is bound to Sam through the scar on his back.

And I love Cas's true form most of all: the way it first appears looming on the horizon like some strange dinosaur, and the way Dean misses it when it's gone, replaced by stolen grace.

This is a fantastic story! Thank you so much for writing it.
Dec. 5th, 2014 04:46 am (UTC)
aw yay!! i'm so glad you liked it! i'm sorry for not nailing any of your prompts, but i'm glad this did it for ya <33

(you have a STELLAR list of likes, by the way!)
Dec. 5th, 2014 10:20 am (UTC)
This is just beautiful.
Dec. 5th, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
thank you!
Dec. 5th, 2014 12:24 pm (UTC)
This was astounding. What an original concept and so gorgeously executed. This line was so amazing it made my jaw drop: "He leaves charcoal in the prints of Sam's boots."
Dec. 5th, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
thank you so much! <3
Dec. 9th, 2014 01:06 pm (UTC)
This is awesome - I love all the different shapes and forms, and oh God, Gadreel leading from Sam's back was heartbreaking. Really nicely put together.
Dec. 22nd, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
This is lovely! I love your imagery, and the utter inhumanness of the angels (Gadreel, so creepy...)

I also love that the stolen grace makes Cas's form unrecognizable to Dean.
Dec. 22nd, 2014 09:20 pm (UTC)
thank you so much for reading!
Jan. 19th, 2015 12:21 am (UTC)
Such stunning imagery! The loss of Cas's true form made me sad, and of course, Gadreel's tether to Sam's fatal wound...
Jan. 19th, 2015 04:30 pm (UTC)
thank you so much!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )



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