ellerkay: (Supernatural)
[personal profile] ellerkay
Title: Vessel
Category: Gen…ish
Characters: Castiel, Zachariah, Jimmy & Claire Novak
Rating: PG
Wordcount: ~1800
Disclaimer: All for fun, none for profit.
Spoilers: Through the end of S4
Summary: The story of how Castiel took a vessel. Some scenes and dialogue from ‘The Rapture’ incorporated.
Warnings: Manipulative!Cas, a tad dark but not intensely so


”And what visage are you in now, huh? What, holy tax accountant?”
“This? This is…a vessel.”
“You’re possessing some poor bastard?”
“He’s a devout man. He actually prayed for this.”
- Dean and Castiel, ‘Lazarus Rising’

Admittedly, that had been something of an exaggeration.

Not a falsehood. Jimmy Novak was devout, and he had prayed to serve the Lord. There were few better ways to serve the Father than to act as vessel to one of His angels, Castiel thought.

But there had been vessels available who were more passionately religious. Who would have jumped at the chance to give themselves over completely in that way. Who didn’t have families.

But Jimmy Novak was who Castiel wanted.

He would never forgot the first time he saw his future vessel. Zachariah had ordered Castiel to meet with him, privately.

“You’ve always been a good soldier, Castiel,” he said. “A good son to our Father.” Zachariah had already taken a vessel, and he chose to speak out loud, in American English instead of Enochian.

“We have a very important task for you.” He leaned forward in his vessel, looking at Castiel closely. His expression was serious, except for the slight hint of a smirk about his lips. “Do you think you’re ready to accept the charge?” Zachariah had always been rather pompous and condescending, really. The more commendations he received, the worse he got. But Castiel squashed the disloyal thought quickly.

Instead, he assented. He felt ready. Eager, even. He had spent millennia watching humanity. He wanted to be of real use to the Lord.

In the ensuing conversation, Castiel was briefed on the Winchesters. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard the name. There had been rumors flying around Heaven about them for years. But Castiel tried not to listen to gossip, and it didn’t seem like most angels knew much for sure. Those who did were less than forthcoming.

“And, you’ll need to choose a vessel, of course,” Zachariah said casually, once Castiel understood his mission.

For Hell?

“No, no,” Zachariah laughed. “Of course not. For after. You might want to start courting him or her early, though. It can take time to build a relationship.” He sighed. “It used to be easier, but they have a narrower definition of religion these days. Oh, well.” He smiled. “Let’s take you body shopping, Castiel.”

Castiel had never been granted permission to take a vessel before. It was so long since any angel had. He had thought on it occasionally. Watching humanity, it was impossible not to be curious what it would be like.

Now, Zachariah showed him vision after vision of the available Chosen. Castiel watched, interested but uninvested. He didn’t care what he looked like, not really. He didn’t even care if the body was male or female. Pronouns were a convention of language, as far as most angels were concerned. Castiel politely looked at them all, but thought that when they got to the end, he would tell Zachariah he would take whomever most wanted to be his host.

Until he saw Jimmy Novak.

If Castiel had had a heart, it might have skipped a beat. If he’d had a head, it might have swum. If he’d had legs, he might have needed to sit down. But he didn’t have any of those things. Not yet.

He wondered if this was what humans felt when they fell in love. He had always considered love a fact of biology. It had a spiritual component, yes, or the angels could not love their Father, could not love the other angels. But the desperation, the desire…how could you feel that without a body?

Perhaps it was because he had found his body.

Zachariah was talking about Jimmy Novak’s life; his goodness, his devotion to his wife and daughter, as well as to God. Castiel was barely listening. What was it about this man? His bright blue eyes were compelling, certainly, especially contrasted with his dark hair. And Castiel was fairly certain Jimmy Novak was handsome, at least by modern American standards. But none of that came close to explaining the longing which was an ache in Castiel’s being.

Zachariah noticed Castiel’s reaction, and he let the vision play on, instead of moving to the next potential vessel.

“I see we’ve got a match,” he murmured.

Is it always like this? Was it like this for you?

Zachariah looked down at his vessel’s hands. “I chose this vessel partly because I knew it would be easy to convince him,” he admitted. “But one does develop a fondness, over time.”

Castiel stared into the vision. Jimmy Novak was stepping into the shower. He sighed with pleasure as the hot water hit his skin.

This is who I will be.

“If you can get him to say yes,” Zachariah reminded him.

But Castiel had no doubt that he would.

***

Castiel wooed his vessel with care. There was reluctance; much from Jimmy’s wife, a little from Jimmy himself. He seemed like he would acquiesce, but Castiel was afraid to ask the question, afraid Jimmy would say no, that he wasn’t ready. Zachariah began to pressure Castiel to choose another vessel, an easier one, whom he could ask without fear. His mission to retrieve Dean Winchester had been successful. They wanted him to make contact.

Castiel tried to speak to Dean directly, hoping to buy himself some time. When it didn’t work, Zachariah told him to take another vessel.

Let me try once more, Castiel begged. He is still too close to Hell. Perhaps once the soot of it has been washed clean from him, he will be able to hear me.

“You have three days,” Zachariah said sternly. “I know you’re attached to this vessel, but we need you to initiate contact with Dean.”

Castiel tried again, but Dean’s ear was obviously not meant for angelic voices. Despairing, Castiel decided he must go to Zachariah and ask to be shown the other vessels again. No one would be Jimmy Novak, but perhaps he would feel something…

And then, miraculously, he heard Jimmy’s voice, praying to him.

“So, I want to help you. I’m about to lose my family here if you don’t tell me how…Please, Castiel, just talk to me. What do you want from me?”

And, seconds later, Castiel was inside his vessel, filling every cell. Feeling every cell. The body was so heavy, so constrictive…and yet, Castiel had never felt more alive, had never understood better the divinity of these human creatures, the rightness of God’s plan. He looked down at Jimmy Novak’s hand – at his hand – and he slowly curled and uncurled his fingers. It was the most wonderful thing he’d ever experienced.

“Daddy?”

The voice came from behind him and his body turned automatically to the source of the noise, but it took a moment for Castiel to orient himself to the change in his field of vision. How strange, to see only one thing at a time!

He cocked his head to the side as he looked at the girl. She was familiar…ah, yes. Jimmy’s daughter, Claire. In their mind, Jimmy was upset suddenly, restless and worried about his daughter.

Castiel turned away from Claire and comforted Jimmy silently, soothing him and putting him gently to sleep. There was no reason for him to feel this distress.

He almost flew away then, but he remembered the girl. She was of the bloodline, too. She was confused, pained. Castiel knew he must explain matters to her.

Speaking with a human voice for the first time, Castiel told Claire the truth.

“I am not your father.”

And he walked away.

***

It hurt to be separated from his vessel. It wasn’t just his consternation and confusion over the discovery he’d made, or how conflicted he was about informing the Winchesters of what was going on, or even that the angels sent to retrieve him made sure it hurt when they tore him out of Jimmy’s body.

It was the fact that he had ceased to think of it as Jimmy’s body at all. Or as a vessel. It was his body. It was him. They were one.

Castiel understood now why lovers parted would mope and write so very, very many songs about the pain of their separation. Why sometimes even the devout – who believed with unshakable faith that they would have their rewards in Heaven – would rail against death.

Castiel pined for his vessel, but when Jimmy was shot before he could return to him, he tried to accept the inevitable. He felt ashamed of his selfishness, and he tried not to hold out for the slim hope that they would be together again.

He took Claire out of necessity, Castiel told himself. With her family’s dire situation, he knew she would say yes. And children were easier to inhabit; less formed and rigid than their elders, an angel could slip into one in an instant, without even the telltale burst of grace.

But these were not his only reasons.

After he smote the demons, Castiel went to Jimmy’s side. He tried to tell him to rest, to be at peace. He knew that Jimmy deserved Heaven.

But then Jimmy said, “Claire?”

Castiel could have said that his possession of Claire was likely temporary. A child alone was likely to attract attention. There were ways around this, but it complicated matters. Simpler just to use an adult body.

Instead, he said, “She’s with me now.”

Jimmy begged to be taken again.

“I want to make sure you understand,” Castiel said carefully. “You won’t die or age. If this last year was painful for you, picture a hundred, a thousand more like it.”

Castiel did want his vessel to understand. The choice had to be free. He tried to pretend to himself that this was the only reason he said these things.

But he had learned enough about humans this past year to know what Jimmy would think when he heard those words fall from his daughter’s lips.

“It doesn’t matter,” Jimmy groaned. “You take me. Just take me.”

“As you wish,” Castiel replied. He touched his face, and flowed into his true vessel once more.

Castiel knew that his methods for regaining his vessel were suspect, at best. But the relief he felt at being Jimmy Novak again – at being himself again – was so overwhelming, he couldn’t find it in him to care. He had learned in Heaven that it was not for him to serve humanity, that it was dangerous to feel too much sympathy for them.

And, after all, this was his vessel. This was love.
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