He paced, his current phone – only one in a long line of cheap 'burner' phones because he learned how to deal with such things from the Winchesters – in his hand, a look of gently confused anxiety tightening the skin around his eyes. He was just staring at it, at one particular name on the contacts list, a list that had gotten longer of late, no longer only having two names on it – Sam and Dean – but several. It was something that still surprised him, but he was grateful for it.
Meg was inside, where they'd spent the night in a spare room of Jacob's. Yet another thing to add to the list of ways his life got flipped upside down within the past day. He'd showed his wings, fully manifested and physical, to a human for the first time in around two millennia. And mantled her. While drunk. In a bar a demon owned. That he'd made a deal with, and willingly owed favours to.
And Meg. Meg had inexplicably, impossibly walked back into his life. The demon he'd been fascinated with, the demon he'd become fond of during his madness, the demon who held some of his most treasured memories in the palm of her hand. The demon that he'd only come to realize after he'd thought she'd died that me might even feel more for than merely fondness. The demon with the flashing eyes and the honey-sweetness wrapped within her oily-black-smoke essence.
And now, he needed something he'd never thought he would, not so long as he retained his grace. He needed a place of his own, a place to keep her safe, a space to figure out what had happened to her...and to figure out just exactly what he felt for her, and she for him.
Sighing, he tapped the name on the contact list he'd been staring at this entire time as he paced and thought. The only one he felt could help him in this particular situation.
Raising the phone to his ear as it dialed, he sighed again. And then... “Hello, Claire. I need your help.”
had snuck off into the room she had claimed for her stay this time,
she made a little note about maybe asking for a cabin so she wouldn’t
have to be so close to the… everything. It was hard to adjust
back to the life when she was used to being out for so long. She was
sprawled on the bed looking through a lore book on the tablet she
kept with her.
It had been something Alex and Claire had put their heads together to do, so they could have at least some of the information that the Winchester brothers had.
Her phone buzzed next to her, she tapped the bookmark on the tablet before shifting to pick up her phone, she saw the name and quirked her eyebrows. He was usually not one for talking on phones, so this should be interesting, she clicked the phone icon and put it to her ear. “Novak.”
“Hello, Claire. I need your help,” he said, frustrated with his utter uselessness with this one simple fact of human life. “I.. I need a place. A.. I don't know. An apartment? A house?” He wasn't even sure what he needed, other than somewhere he could make safe for Meg until things could be figured out. Thanks to Sam's genius with computers and a lucky find at the bunker of old Men of Letters accounting records, he actually had some money of his own in a bank account, and a card – a legitimate one, not one of the scammed cards the Winchesters had subsisted on for so long – tied to that bank account that he was free to use as he pleased. Not that he used it much.
“I...encountered...an old friend last night. I need somewhere that we can stay.” He hesitated, then sighed softly. “I can't take her back to the cabin, and I can't take her back to the bunker. I need to keep this from Sam and Dean, for now. I...can you help me, Claire?” A pause. “Please?”
shifted off the bed when she heard the request, she could hear the
frustration in his voice. It was usually the other way around: her
frustrated and him guiding her through it. “Hold on,” and
as he waited, she threw on a sweater, grabbed her boots and slipped
out the window of her room, she knew she’d catch hell for it
later from Jody – but whatever. Jody understood.
She hopped as she tried to put her boots on over wet socks, “fucking hell,” she hissed under her breath, forgetting her phone was still next to her. “Sorry,” she answered as she finally got her boots on and walked away from the cabin. “Needed to get away from the ears.”
Instead of walking into the woods, she walked around to the front so she could walk the driveway and not worry about losing reception. “A house?” She blinked, nodding as she listened to him continue. “Is she really bad?” She paused, “you know what? I don’t need to know. Less I know, the less trouble it is between us.” She smiled at the air. “How soon?”
Some of his frustration turned to amusement as he heard her struggles and and cursing distantly over the phone. Despite himself, his lips quirked while he waited patiently. There was never a time he wasn't grateful for her forgiveness of all he'd done to her, even if inadvertently, but at this moment, that gratitude flared up, a warmth in his chest that helped to keep away the cold of the morning air.
“It's alright. I appreciate that.” He was ready to answer her honestly, but chuckled as she said she didn't even want to know. Still, he felt she deserved some sort of answer. “She's not..well...<i>evil</i>, not really. She just doesn't remember that right now.” The irony of saying such a thing of a demon didn't escape him, and his lips quirked again.
“A house would work. I... I just need something that can be warded. And I think...private. As soon as possible. She's got nowhere to go.” He hesitated, sighing heavily as he started to pace again. “Claire, she doesn't have anyone else. And I..owe her.” In truth, his words didn't even touch on the depth of his need to help her, but he decided it was true even if not complete.
“I just... I didn't know how to go about acquiring it.” Despite his worry, he chuckled. “Not exactly something you find in the Winchester Guide to Passing as Human.”
stopped walking and looked up to the skies, mentally counting to five
before responding, “are you sure you know what you’re
doing?” Her voice was soft, “You can’t save the
world every time, Cas.” She paused, “I…” She
trailed off, unsure how to keep going, she was afraid he would get
mad or shut down; it had been such a hard road between them.
“Forget what I said, we do need a place for her,” she kept her voice soft as she began walking again. She laughed at his comment, “no, they forget to include little things like… Get a house.” She grinned as she glanced through the woods on her right. “You know how to use the computer right? Or do you need me to set it up so you can just look through places on your own?”
Oh, there was a painful reminder, but one he admitted to himself that he probably needed. “I'll settle with saving this one single...person, for today.” The hesitation before he'd said person was more obvious than he'd intended, and he winced.
His answering grin could have been a match for hers, if anyone had seen them together. “It's not their fault. They were born human. I...well, you know.”
He nodded, then caught himself, laughing softly “Sam has shown me a little. Netflix is especially nice. And he showed me how to use...'Google' on my phone.” He paused again, stopping in his tracks. “Oh. I could use that to find a house.” He tilted his head unconsciously. “Is it like acquiring a motel room?”
heard that hesitation, wanted to ask him about it, but decided not
to. It would be too complicated, too fast for her. She was tired of
everything being so complicated. Her lips twisted as she held an
internal debate about if she should ask. A shake of her head, she
dropped the subject mentally, “okay, then we save her.”
An amused little look, she almost wished they could be speaking face-to-face for this. “Castiel…” She laughed, “no.” A shake of her head, “when you’re done talking to me, look up craigslist.org, there’s often people looking for sublets and such.” She paused, “or…” She had to think about where else he could find places, but meh, this was a small town.
“I’d do Craigslist, this place is small, it’s anonymous. Just… make sure it’s not the town gossip,” she grinned.
Gratitude welled up again at her ready acceptance of his need without pushing for more explanations that he couldn't really give right now. And something warmer, deeper. <i>Love</i>, he thought. He really did love this young woman, in spite of their history. Or...perhaps because of it. They'd had as much in common as they had differences. And...it just worked. Despite everything, they worked as a little family all their own.
“I... Alright. I can do that.” He reached up, rubbing at the back of his neck absently, a sure sign of his frustration and worry. “I can. I got this.”
There was a long pause, his thoughts drifting to Meg, before he spoke again. “Thank you, Claire. Sometimes, I don't know what I'd do without you. This means...so much to me.”
you need help, tell me,” she smiled, “it can be a little
bit complicated. With a town like this, I’d look into rent to
own places, just so you don’t blow your money all at once. They
do have some cabins tucked away into woods, or even small cottages. I
saw one that’s still been up for sale after a year, I bet
they’d sell for cheap – or even make a deal.”
She chuckled softly as she stood there, rubbing at her forehead. “Just don’t get in too deep if it gets complicated fast, Cas.”
“I think I know the one you're talking about.” He knew, because he'd once been there, sitting in the back of the Impala while Sam went in to take care of some things for a friend of theirs, fellow hunter who had recently lost his wife. It might be a risk, but as he'd never met the owner, maybe there wouldn't be any questions. And...maybe it wouldn't get back to the brothers.
His head tilted up to look at the clear blue sky overhead, a soft smile playing on his lips. “I'll be careful, Claire. And I'll call and let you know how it goes...when I can. Soon. I...promise,” he added awkwardly, hearing worry in her tone that she couldn't hide from him.
“Sounds good,” she smiled. “Talk to you soon, Castiel.” She paused, ready to say something else, then cleared her throat. “Just be careful,” and with that, she ended the phone call. Claire stared at the phone for a moment before tucking it away, turning to her right, she decided to prowl through the woods. Sure, she wasn’t quite dressed for it, but right now, she had to get her worry out somehow.