Castiel meets him in a dirty roadside bar in Utah. It had been nearly a month since Jack brought him back from the empty, freshly human and a little worse for wear, but still intact. When the Winchester brothers picked him up in the Impala on the side of a dirt road in Nowhere, Oklahoma, Cas knew the world had changed. Jack had told him so.
They had won and his sacrifice was not for nothing.
As he looked across the dark expanse of bar, the hanger-oners of the night chattering, drinking beer, and playing pool, he saw him. It was a moment out of place and time. The patrons faded to the background, unaware of the presence in their midst.
And his son is God.
And yet, he looked just as Cas had always known him: a lanky, nerdy teenager-to-twenty-something with puppy dog eyes and a smile to make the angels (or angel) cry. Cas assumed the fruity drink Jack was sipping at the bar was juice, since he didn’t think the kid could get away with ordering alcohol, God or not. But then again, maybe those things didn’t matter anymore. The bartender didn’t seem to notice Jack.
Maybe not God, but something new.
Jack waved furiously at the former angel standing at the door, sporting that blue-ribbon smile. Cas walked over and the crowd seemed to part like the red sea.
Not God, but still biblical.
Taking his seat on the barstool next to Jack, Cas ordered a black coffee from the bartender. He had just finished a long hunt with Sam and Eileen and was trying (and failing) to get accustomed to the human sensation of tiredness. His body ached now, but it was a good ache.
Jack faced forward. Power emanated from his very being, yet he was still the young man Castiel had raised.
“Hello, Cas.” Jack said, mirroring his father’s familiar catchphrase.
“Jack.” Cas smiled softly. “How are you?”
The young deity took a sip of his virgin shirley temple.
“Good.” He contemplated, looking around the bar, observing. “More than. When I was just a nephilim, I never truly understood this world. Loved it, yes- but I didn’t understand. Now I see- humanity, this world, the whole universe- it’s all connected. I’m in everything now, and yet I’m at peace. There’s a balance. It’s funny how you can find peace when you least expect it.” He let out a small chuckle. Wise beyond his three years.
Of course Cas knew. Because who could’ve guessed he would find his peace in a pair of gruff hunters, a doomsday bunker, and a set of lost wings. Certainly not him, just over a decade ago. Nor would he have guessed that he would fall in every way possible for one of those hunters, whose green eyes felt more like home than heaven ever did.
Peace. Castiel remembered the lyrics he had heard from the passenger seat of Dean’s car years ago, the windows down and the soft Autumn breeze in his hair. His beautiful Dean Winchester singing along unabashedly to the radio: there'll be peace when you are done.
Sometimes defying every rule lands you right where you’re supposed to be.
“And you?” Jack said, as if he had not just layed out the philosophical soliloquy of the decade. “Sam? Dean?”
“We’re good. Hunting still, but less. Sam and Eileen are really happy. And Dean and I...we’re happy, too. A lot to work through, but real happiness.”
Jack knew what he meant. The bittersweet happiness of moving on from all that you have lost. The guilt of letting yourself love when friends got left behind.
“I’m glad.” “You and Dean were always meant to be together.”
Cas smiled. “I guess some of Chuck’s scripts weren’t all that bad,” he replied.
“Not Chuck,” said the kid. “The universe. You and Dean find each other in every timeline, every world, every reality. It’s something bigger.”
Castiel nodded, understanding.
“Well,” the ex-angel held up his chipped coffee mug. “Here’s to letting fate decide.”
With a small smile, Jack clinked his drink glass against Cas’s mug. It was an obscure sight, two out-of-place men toasting coffee and juice at the counter of a dive bar. But what isn’t obscure about their lives?
The two talked about everything and nothing into the night: Jack had been undoing Chuck’s mistakes, fixing heaven and hell, remaining hands-off, yet benevolent. Cas told him about the hunts he and the Winchesters had taken recently. A vampire nest here, a tulpa there, an occasional restless spirit. There were less creatures in the night now, and they had a lot of help.
Cas suspects that Sam and Eileen will retire soon- settle down and have a family. But he doesn’t know if Dean will ever be able to fully give it up. That’s ok with Cas. He would follow him into the fire.
Jack has just finished telling Cas about reuniting with Kelly in heaven when Cas’s phone buzzes from inside his tan trench coat pocket. He reaches for it, checking the text message.
“It’s Dean. Werewolves in Albuquerque.” The ex-angel sighed. “You’ll come visit for Christmas, right? I’ve never had a real human Christmas, but Sam and Dean seem excited to show me.”
“Of course I’ll be there,” Jack beamed. “I was a Winchester first.”
Cas smiled, the lines on his face showing off his new-found age. Lines that reveal the history of a man who saw galaxies born and fought heaven and hell. Now, just a man.
“I’m glad. You’re always welcome.”
Both men stood up from their stools.
“I’ll see you soon, Jack.” Cas put his hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Take care.”
“I promise,” replied the younger man.
Castiel began to walk away from the bar where his son was standing. He suddenly stopped in his tracks, feeling a magnet-like pull.
Walking back with intention, the man enveloped Jack in a sudden, all-consuming hug. Jack buried his head into his father’ shoulder.
“I’m so proud of you,” Cas’s gravely voice cracked.
Cas knew that Jack would be with him. He would be in the very rain that falls from the sky. He knew that things would be better now, with Jack watching over. He knew that he and Sam and Dean and Claire and Jody and the rest of their family were now free to make their own decisions. He knew that it would be hard sometimes, but he knew they would be ok.
He knew that he would drive away from the run-down bar and meet the love of his life off a main road in New Mexico, sitting on the hood of an old ‘67 Chevy Impala and peering down at a picturesque lookout. What he didn’t know was that the man he loved would be carrying a delicate gold ring in the pocket of his green cargo jacket.
Castiel walked out of the bar into the new morning light, the door squeaking shut behind him. It started raining.