Shape without form, shade without colour
Paralysed force, gesture without motion.
Castiel has had years now to turn the words over in his mind, though he's never quite been able to escape the marginalia that attended them. Metatron's nasally insinuation: I've given you the world, Castiel. Every written word--the very soul of humanity! There are no secret between us, and yet so much difference. Because you don't understand it, do you. You can't, and never will.
But then, Castiel isn't certain most of humanity understands its own poetry. There's never time for it.
"It's ball," says Dean, without turning to face him. His hand hovers over a map, thumbing a tack. Castiel supposes Dean intends to be engrossed in important business, but the map is moot at this point--the vestige of an old plan that hadn't come to fruition and hadn't involved much planning. There hadn't been time, in its critical moment, to fill out the map, and so was effort wasted now. It's too late.
Dropped the ball.
Castiel wants to speak of things that matter, not balls nor pucks nor even Chuck. Things that exceed God's hand, unmistakably, because if God had ever known them he would not be the God he is. Things that, Castiel has found, exist only here on Earth. In those whose lives were sown here.
Dean walks out on him, exhibiting none of these things and believing in fewer.
Will you check on him? Castiel asks. Dean won't listen to him, never does; it has to be Sam, because--
Sam...barks, is essentially what that sound is. "Yeah, I'm not gonna do that," he says.
"Cas." Sam locks eyes with him earnestly, from under furrowed brow. "Let him be."
"He said he was angry. About ev--"
"He probably is!" Sam bites his tongue, takes a deep breath. "Look, Cas. We're all--tired, we're all trying to--"
Sam receives a succession of text messages, chimes tripping over each other to alert him. He scrolls through quickly. He looks back at Castiel. "I can't handle that right now," he says, and ducks toward his phone again. "And I'm not-- I'm not going to make Dean deal with that right now, either. It's not the time. He's doing what he needs to do. We have to save these fucking people, Cas."
Sam turns away and he doesn't meet Castiel's gaze again. Castiel sees color leap to Sam's wan face, his nape. He's ashamed of what he's said. "These fucking people."
They're belligerent and unruly and so deeply, incomprehensibly stupid. But of course they are, because what other response is there, to this thing no one has bothered to explain to them? To that which cannot be explained? It's all terrible and sad.
But Sam can't care about them. Not really. Castiel can tell from the way Sam squirms in his shirt, shrugs it back into position, and wipes his hair back: He hates that he doesn't care. Hates admitting it, perhaps as much. He is tired. He is trying to make it through.
"I trust him," Sam says, of Dean. Sam says it as though it is something very important to him, though Castiel is not entirely sure why. He's aware of this already. It is not surprising news.
Then Sam adds, "He'll be fine."
Trusting Dean with the world and Dean with himself are two very different things. Sam seems to think one comes less naturally than the other. One needs to be said.
Will you? Castiel does not ask. Will you be fine? There's no love behind Sam's words, no passionate conviction. It's pure exigency. They are both doing whatever it takes. It's an empty way to live.
Maybe Castiel is disappointed. It's not his right to be, but he is. He comes from a generation of angels who scorned humanity for their limitation--their easy surrender to emotion, to love and strange visceral belief. The ease with which their souls would twist in Hell. Pitiful creatures. He had not imagined that they might lose that.
To mourn and cherish Jack the way he has is something Castiel has learned on Earth, beyond the directives of Heaven. It feels wrong to be alone in this now. To feel as though the world is turning back on itself as he arrives.
He is losing them, isn't he.
We'll pick up the pieces later, Sam promises, and Castiel knows this to be true, in a sense. But they will come undone again. He tries to remember that he has felt this nothingness from them before, and he has been disappointed before, but maybe it's not sorrow or fury or pity he feels, but dread. Maybe it is different this time. It feels different.
"Of course you will," says Castiel. "If there's time."
Sam looks at him funny. But before he can follow up, another cascade of chimes erupts from his phone. He swears. Missed check-in.