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18 April 2010 @ 10:10 pm
[fanfic] His Garden (SPN gen, Castiel-focused; PG)  
Title: His Garden
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: PG
Pairing: None; Castiel-centric
Summary: Set post-5x18. Castiel finds himself in an interesting place with strange company.



Castiel awoke to the sensation he had been bundled up in a bag and then dropped on a blanket of nails. His body ached. The brand on his chest was still smoking. Still, he was alive and in his body. This was the very first surprise.

The second was that he was nowhere.

He stood, muscles complaining, and saw nothing. No color, neither white nor black, just emptiness, the void stretching into forever. He was in a place that was no place. This was the second surprise.

The third was the voice behind him.

"So this is your garden."

Castiel turned. He saw a familiar, weathered face. "It's so empty, so sad," Joshua said. "I don't know quite what to say."

"I'm in the garden, then?"

"Indeed you are," Joshua said. "But what a desolate place your garden is. Have you no sight that you would want to see again in heaven? How... disappointing, I must say."

It made no sense to Castiel. He'd thought he was banished from heaven entirely; even when he was its inhabitant, he'd never been allowed in the garden. "How did I get here?"

Joshua shrugged. "Nobody has ever tried what you did before. It's led to an unusual result. Your body and soul, both blasted away, and here you end up."

"My body?"

Joshua looked at him with pity. "You don't think there's anyone left in there but you, do you?"

A moment of scarlet sadness passed through Castiel's soul at the thought that Jimmy was gone, that Castiel had not protected him from destruction. And there was loneliness, too --his anchor had been raised, and Castiel had been abruptly declared the captain of a vessel he'd inhabited and grown to love, but not dared to think he owned.

He turned his eyes to Joshua then. "Why am I here?" As he spoke, he noticed that the ground beneath him was solid and brown, a thick layer of dirt. Just as he glanced back down to confirm the color, metal was pressed into his hands.

"Dig," Joshua said.

The shovel weighed Castiel's hands down, "I am an angel," he said slowly. "I have no need for these crude physical metaphors."

Joshua pushed his own spade into the earth. "You underestimate the physical. Give it a try. Go on and dig. I think you'll find it feels good."

Reluctantly, Castiel shoved his spade into the ground. The earth was hard beneath him.

"Can you feel your muscles working? Your skin moving over your bones?" Joshua was digging vigorously, and he paused to draw breath after every few words. "Isn't that a precious sensation? You have an opportunity to feel that. Not many of us do. You see me doing it, but I'm not using a body the way you are. It doesn't feel the same. To tell you the truth, I'm quite disappointed with you. I'm so envious that you're able to wear a body. And look how willing you were to sacrifice it." He clucked his tongue. "That was your intention, though, wasn't it? To die for them."

"My intention was to do what was necessary." Castiel broke the ground with a grunt and a push, tossed the dirt aside.

Joshua was gentler with his digging. The soil gave beneath his spade, meeting him gratefully and turning of itself. "Oh? And was that so necessary?"

"It seemed so. At the time." Castiel dug in one more time, tried to think of a better plan than the one he'd employed. He couldn't. He wondered if he'd missed something.

At once the ground came loose so easily that he lost his balance and found himself stepping wholeheartedly forward into the divot he'd dug. He looked down at his stuck foot, at the earth around it. From horizon to horizon, the ground was dotted with shallow holes, as though his few pushes of spade had been captured in a world of mirrors. The soil was freshly dug and ready throughout the landscape, and a grim sun was shining on the colorless sky.

Joshua's hand grasped his, and a loose set of grains fell into his palm. "Plant these," he said.

Castiel grimaced at him. "This is another metaphor."

"Come on, now."

He resisted. "I don't understand what this was meant to accomplish."

"On your knees, Castiel."

The old man's expression had darkened. His voice was sharp. Castiel sucked in a breath and dropped to crouch among the holes.

The scowl faded as soon as it had come. "Oh, now that was interesting," Joshua said lightly. "You resist persuasion, but it's easy for you to comply with an order. I suppose that's how they raised you. Conditioned to obey."

Castiel's hands were already working on their own, placing the seeds carefully in the depressions of earth. "I disobeyed my orders. I thought this was well-known by now."

"You rebelled from your previous superiors, yes." Joshua watched him work, then took another handful of seeds from his pocket and began laying them out into the adjacent row of holes. "But are you thinking for yourself now? Or are you simply obeying another set of orders?"

Castiel went on planting. He had no answer at the ready.

Joshua smoothed the dirt over the planted seeds with his bare hands. "Tell me," he said, shaking off the dirt and getting to his feet. "Why are you doing this? What kind of world are you fighting for? Or are you fighting just because it is a fight, and that gives your life meaning?"

His jaw opened to answer, but Castiel could not summon the words. His eyes swept across the landscape again. Endless rows of holes were no longer holes. Instead, mounds of dirt stretched to the horizon.

"Castiel," Joshua said, stretching out a hand to help him up. "Do you want to be happy?"

Squinting at the outstretched palm, Castiel nodded. "I do. I think I do. I don't know if it's possible."

"A world in which you are happy?"

He took the offered hand. "Yes."

Joshua pulled him up as though he were a feather-light child, and Castiel found himself eye to eye with the man. His wrinkle-lined eyes were startling -- there were oceans of green reflected there, and blue skies, and white light.

"What would such a world look like?" Joshua asked.

Castiel turned slowly to look over the blank, repeating background of mounds upon mounds of bare dirt. The sun was still merciless in the sky, and there was still no color. "I don't know."

A small smile. "Don't you, now?"

Castiel let the question go unanswered. For a long time he stared at the sky. It was silent. A wisp of warm blue seemed to seep into the monochrome atmosphere for a second, but then it was gone again.

"Here." Joshua's voice cut the silence cleanly as a knife. A curve of greenish metal caught the sun's glare.

Castiel looked at the watering can in confusion. This metaphor he wasn't sure of. But Joshua was pleasant, and Castiel could feel something besides pain in his skin when the old gardener gazed at him. He tilted the can to begin.

"Tell me about Dean Winchester," Joshua said as the first sprinkle of water touched the bare dirt.

"What about him?"

"Why is it you like him so much?"

Like him seemed an odd term for it. "Why I follow him?"

"You heard what I said."

"He's..." Castiel held back a laugh. "He's frustrating."

"Yes." Joshua was smiling.

Castiel paced from mound to mound. The can was never lightened in his hand, and the shower of water never let up. "He doesn't listen. He's self-righteous."

"Indeed."

"And he never explains himself. his actions make no--" Castiel stopped. "You asked why I liked him, and I've done nothing but describe his flaws."

"You've answered admirably." A peek of green winked at Castiel's feet.

"How can you--"

"Is there some rule," Joshua said with a smirk, "that it has to be virtues that you like about someone? I didn't think so, but perhaps I'm wrong. In which case I worry that you may be a masochist."

Puzzled, Castiel moved to another plot of land to water the ridge of green shoots that had poked through the ground there.

"But my contention is," Joshua said beside him, "that just as rain opens flowers, flaws open you, too. If you wanted to follow someone virtuous, you could have stayed in heaven. But that's not what you wanted."

Castiel turned to face him. The question fell from his lips. "Then what do I want?"

"To be hurt. To be annoyed. Even, perhaps, to be killed." Red and violet buds were emerging as fast as the water fell, and the sun was a yellow bead upon the fast-blushing sky.

"Why?" Eyes that had been as colorless as the skies now opened to their wide ocean-blue.

"That," Joshua said, "is a question that only you can answer."

Castiel turned, sprinkling a flood of prisms across the landscape. Where the droplets clung to petals, they opened, turned to the sky.

"I want to be more human."

Trees towered over them, the wind blowing a dim rustle through their branches and touching Castiel's cheek with cool fingers. A river glimmered in the distance, just beyond the stretch of lazy gray highway. A yellow car drove by. The path that began at their feet ended in a tiny ranch house, with a porch and quaint windows, just short of the woods.

"Ah," said Joshua. "There is your garden."

Castiel stood rooted. His eyes could not go wide enough to take it all in. He'd never seen so perfect a place.

But Joshua strode to and fro, his face alight. He rubbed his hands together as he paced, and at last he turned to Castiel. "What a lovely little house," he said. "Is it yours?"

It was hard to choke the words from his throat. "I think so."

"I wonder who's waiting for you behind that door," Joshua said slyly. "Why don't you go find out?"

When Castiel raised his hand, it was to wipe a tear from his eye.

The garden faded behind him as he walked down the path, but the railing of the porch staircase was solid beneath his fingers. He climbed the porch stairs and opened the door.

The End
 
 
 
10% literal, 90% metaphor: can you hear me now? : Castielspeccygeekgrrl on April 19th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
♥ I liked Joshua, I'm glad you brought him around to lead Castiel through his metaphors. This was a lovely little story. I hope something this nice is happening for Cas...
Tiptoe39: Cas smilestiptoe39 on April 19th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Joshua and Utusu drink at the same bar, don'tchaknow. I hope so too....
Kevin Jonesmulder200 on April 19th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
What a great coda. And you were being too hard on yourself. I don't find this weird.

And I like the idea that Cas follows Dean because he is imperfect and human.
Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on April 19th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
Aww. Thank you. You're so nice to me <3
wickedvirtue on April 19th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
I liked this! Castiel is so stubborn and contrary and doesn't know it, but he learned it from the one he likes the best!

Tiptoe39: dean/castiptoe39 on April 19th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
He is, isn't he? They're two peas in the proverbial pod.
strangeandcharm on April 19th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful idea - Castiel having to create his own garden. And you wrote Joshua beautifully!
Tiptoe39: Cas smilestiptoe39 on April 19th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I do like that kind of character very much <3
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on April 20th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
This was lovely. I love the idea of Castiel learning how to create his own garden/heaven.
Tiptoe39: Cas smilestiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!!!
Weslyn: Me witchyweslyn on April 20th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
I adore this. Lovely descriptions. It's dreamlike. Really digs into Castiel's psyche. Also? Joshua and Usutu totally drink at the same bar. ^_^
Tiptoe39: Cas smilestiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
Inorite!?!?? :D :D :D So glad you enjoyed it!!
Once upon a time...: spn_supernaturalmickeym on April 20th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
Hey! Just popping in to let you know you've been recced here, on crack_impala :)
Tiptoe39: squeetiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
OMG you just totally made my night!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 Thank you sooo much!
once upon a kadiel krieger: CasThoughtfulkriari on April 20th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
Oh Castiel.

This is so beautifully wrought. I loved Joshua instantly and dearly and you've captured him.

LOVELY.

One of my favorite codas so far.
Tiptoe39: castieltiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! What a wonderful comment <3 <3 So glad you liked it. I'm grinning ear to ear. :)
Daisy Drostezoemathemata on April 20th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
you = AWESOME.

That was fantastic. i really loved it.
Tiptoe39: Sam suprisedtiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 11:09 am (UTC)
Awww! Thank you! you = awesomer!! :D :D
SPACE GANDALF: castree - awakencordytrinityofone on April 20th, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
Oh man, I'm all choked up. This is such a beautifully described, and gorgeously written, piece of insight into Castiel.
Tiptoe39: love - harley & Mr. Jtiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 11:10 am (UTC)
what a compliment! Thank you so, so much!!!
cheerful_earl: angels and demonscheerful_earl on April 20th, 2010 08:15 am (UTC)
I love the idea of Castiel having to build his own garden, and Joshua here was great. Lovely story.
Tiptoe39: girlytiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 11:10 am (UTC)
Thank you! I love your icon btw, that cracks me up. :D
alysen: Dean/Castiel b/wferuche on April 20th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
What a lovely piece. I love the insight into Cas's head, a revelation even to him. As another poster mentioned, it also has a great dream-like quality. Great coda!
Tiptoe39: Sam - Jaredtiptoe39 on April 20th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you so, so much. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it!
Kat Masters: If you can't crawlevil_kat on April 25th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
This was beautiful. Great dialogue and description.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on April 25th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you so very much!
Giulia: Spn_fuck youe0wyn on April 29th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this a lot. Great idea, awesome job ♥ Thank you!
Tiptoe39: tamakitiptoe39 on April 29th, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
thank you so much! I'm thrilled you enjoyed. <3
ladywilde80: <supernatural> castielladywilde80 on May 4th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
What a fantastic concept! I had this fic bookmarked for quite sometime, stupid bookmarks :) So I apologize for not getting here sooner. So glad I did though...

I love quieter, more introspective character pieces and this one was just perfect. You did a lovely job with this one.
Tiptoe39: glomp - Escaflownetiptoe39 on May 5th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
Thank you, sweetie! I enjoyed writing it and it was fun to write Joshua. :)