Beggars Can’t Be Choosers (3/3)

Time to finally see what Castiel thinks about those Winchesters messing with the little guy he swore to protect.

( 1 ) ( 2 ) ( DA Link )


Oscar looked up and sucked in a breath. Standing in the middle of the room where there had been no one before, was another human (or someone who merely looked like one). He wasn’t as giant as Sam, though he was tall on his own, especially compared to Oscar. He wore a tan trench coat over a rumpled dress shirt and slacks, and his tie was as unkempt and disheveled as his unruly black hair.

Sam and Dean both sat up straight as Castiel, Angel of the Lord, looked their way. Sam’s jaw clenched and Dean’s brow furrowed with pure bewilderment.

There was a long pause. Oscar breathed quickly and stared, hardly able to fathom that merely praying had made Castiel appear. Just as he’d appeared and then disappeared when Oscar first met him.

“Sam, Dean,” Castiel greeted, his brow set in cautious confusion.

“Cas, what’re you doing–” Dean didn’t have time to finish his question before the angel strode over to the table. He stopped right next to it, looming over Sam and Dean as much as Oscar.

Oscar tilted his head back to keep staring at Castiel’s face. He exuded that same otherworldliness that he did the last time. Oscar had almost forgotten what a strange feeling that was, but his thoughts were caught on one thing.

He knows them? They know him?!

“What’s going on here?” Castiel asked the three of them, his gravelly voice merely curious without a hint of accusation. Sam and Dean both stood, and Oscar finally ducked his head. He curled up once more with three giants crowded around the table.

“We could ask you the same,” Dean groused. “You said no angels would be able to track us, not even you, after you went and carved–”

“I am not here for you,” Castiel interrupted. There was a pause, and Oscar peeked up to find that all three of them were looking down at him again. His cheeks turned pink and he brushed at his eye with the heel of his hand.

The realization dawned over Sam first. “You’re the one he was praying to?”

Before an answer came, Castiel’s hand left his side. Oscar let out an ungainly squeal as it reached him, the fingers curling around his frightened huddle and gathering him up. As before, Castiel was careful but quick, barely giving Oscar time to register his plan before it was in action already.

The hand snatched Oscar up from the table, but with far less urgency and uncertainty than when Sam had grabbed him. Oscar curled up for safety until the motion stopped and he was sitting on Castiel’s flat palm near his face.

Castiel glanced over him with a familiar, squinting frown. He tilted his head, and Oscar tentatively waved at him.

Finally, Castiel looked to Sam and Dean each in turn. “Oscar prayed because he was in trouble. What did you do?”

Both humans raised their eyebrows in the same shocked, defensive expression. Dean managed to sputter out an answer first. “What did we do? He was sneaking around in our room!”

Castiel was unconvinced. “He lives here. Humans come and leave quickly, but Oscar does not,” he glanced to Oscar as if for confirmation of his words. When he got a weak nod, he looked back to Dean expectantly.

Dean didn’t deliver another excuse. “… What.”

Castiel sighed in a very put-upon way. Then, to both Oscar and Dean’s surprise, he moved his hand close to Dean’s face so that Oscar was only inches away from it. “Do you see how you frightened him? I thought you were supposed to help save people. Not terrorize them.”

Dean and Oscar balked at the same time. While the latter was trapped up in the air on a hand, the former had room. He stepped back, bumping the table in his haste. Oscar’s brief, surprised eye contact with the human didn’t last, but they’d mirrored their surprise. At least Dean’s glare wasn’t focused on Oscar anymore.

“Dude! Personal space!” Dean demanded. His gaze trailed back to Oscar. “You don’t gotta shove him in my face an’ I doubt he wants to be that close, either.”

Castiel drew his hand closer again. Oscar braced himself on the nearby thumb as he watched between the three of them. Castiel bore a disappointed frown, something that almost seemed protective. At the very least, his appearance had stopped Sam and Dean’s weird and terrifying checklist of tests.

Oscar wasn’t sure if it was much better to be grabbed and held up while the tension of an argument built in the air, but as humans said, beggars can’t be choosers.

“I advised him to pray if he had trouble with humans,” Castiel explained. His tone lacked the scolding his words conveyed. “I did not expect him to have trouble with you humans.”

“Cas, we were just trying to make sure he wasn’t a threat. We weren’t going to hurt him without knowing for sure,” Sam countered. He held his hands up placatingly, but then lowered them when he saw how Oscar shrank back from him.

Castiel squinted appraisingly, and then turned his piercing blue eyes on Oscar. Oscar’s shoulders bunched up in spite of himself. Intentionally or not, Castiel had trapped him with nowhere to hide from their scrutiny.

“Oscar is innocent,” Castiel told them. “He is unique in a world of humans, but innocent all the same.”

Oscar fidgeted.  A part of him, a very small part and the source of the only defiance he had, didn’t want to let them keep talking over him. His voice was small, but he had one. He deserved to be heard before they tried to make a decision for him.

“U-um,” he said, flinching when it drew all attention back to him in an instant. His weak start was followed by a squeak as Castiel lifted him up higher again. They could all see and hear him without trouble now. Oscar felt like he was in a glaring spotlight.

“I-I-I. Um. I’m just … just Oscar,” he stammered, and as the situation caught up with him again, tears welled in his eyes and his cheeks turned pink. “I’m-I’m not dangerous, I didn’t mean to sneak around. But I was scared you would hurt me or lock me up.”

Sam’s expression shifted to sympathy. Despite being the most enormous person in the room, he had a kind face. It was like he knew how to switch all intimidation off. Understanding suddenly lit in his hazel eyes, and he sighed. It was a sharp contrast to his wary curiosity when he was trying to talk Oscar out from under the dresser.

Sam put his hand on his chest to indicate himself. “Oscar, I’m Sam, and that’s my brother, Dean,” he said. “We’re sorry for scaring you. We’re not gonna hurt you or lock you up, okay? We wouldn’t do that to an innocent person.” In the corner of Oscar’s eye, Castiel nodded once in apparent approval.

“Riddle me this, Oz,” Dean chimed in. He waited until he had Oscar’s attention before raising his eyebrows expectantly. Somehow, Oscar felt the pressure of that expression. “If you’re scared of us, what were you doing out in the room at all? It’s not a good risk. If it had been someone else, they might not have been as warm and welcoming as us.”

Oscar’s cheeks warmed. Somehow, Dean had gone from brandishing a silver knife at him to scolding him about how dangerous humans were.

“I-I know that!” Oscar protested. “I’ve been coming out to the rooms for food and supplies for years, I just didn’t think you’d see me!”

Dean’s frown only deepened, and Oscar shrank back. “You mean you gotta scavenge for garbage to get by?”

Oscar averted his gaze to stare at his cloth-wrapped feet where they settled on Castiel’s palm. Everything about him was drab and shabby, all made from secondhand material. Well-worn, he’d heard someone say before. He didn’t think all of his possessions were garbage.

The hand under him shifted. Oscar looked up to find Castiel’s fingers curling closer as the angel spoke up again. “It is not for us to judge how someone survives,” he mused. “I have seen many things in the search for my Father. Oscar’s way of life is not the strangest I have witnessed.”

“Alright,” Sam conceded with the tone of someone trying to stop an argument before it began. “That’s fine. It was all a misunderstanding. No big deal, right?”

Castiel tilted his head, and for a moment his strange aura returned. Oscar wondered if he understood the phrase. Castiel squinted thoughtfully, and then lifted his hand up abruptly. Oscar squeaked and clung to his thumb to stay upright.

“Is this correct? Are you no longer frightened now?” he asked.

On the spot, Oscar didn’t know how to respond. He glanced to Dean and Sam again. Both of them stared right back at him, though now they sported more confusion than wariness. A lot had happened in the course of several minutes to completely change how things had gone.

Castiel might have come to his rescue, but Oscar was still afraid. He shook his head. “W-well, I, um. It’s still scary,” he admitted.

“I can assure you, these are good men,” Castiel replied. His voice was as gravelly as ever, but Oscar could hear an attempt to speak gently for him. “Even if you had not prayed for help, I believe they would have let you go.”

“Y’know. Eventually,” Dean admitted. His apologetic smirk was met with a bitchface from Sam.

Oscar shot Dean one more wary look, but he didn’t see a lie there. Castiel might be keeping Oscar way off the ground on a hand, but his protective grab had done a lot to change Sam and Dean’s attitudes. Where before they were bristled and untrusting, now they showed some remorse, even if their curiosity remained.

That, at least, he couldn’t fault them for. Any human would be curious if they found him out.

“Should I set you down so you can return to the walls?” Castiel asked, his hand steady as ever as he watched Oscar for an answer.

“Wait,” Sam interrupted. Oscar flinched and any answer he would have supplied was startled back into him.

Sam scooped up Oscar’s bag from where he’d left it on the table. It was so tiny on his palm as he stared down at it, threadbare as ever. His huge thumb curled inward to nudge at it before he pinched it to hold it out to Oscar. “You’ll probably want this back,” he said. “We didn’t even get a chance to check out what’s in it, but I’m guessing your supplies are in there?”

Oscar scooted to the edge of Castiel’s hand so he could reach out and take the offered bag. His hands twitched and for a moment, he feared that Sam would lunge for him.

He didn’t. Oscar retrieved the bag and put the strap over his shoulder quickly. He was glad to have it back. It offered familiarity in a situation that had rapidly left “familiar” far behind.

“I, um. Yeah, I keep my stuff in here …” he answered. One hand settled over the flap hiding things from view within. It was heavier than usual, and Oscar finally remembered the reason he’d run into Sam and Dean’s room in the first place.

“I … didn’t come into this room lookin’ for food,” he admitted. His cheeks turned pink and he retreated to Castiel’s palm. In case they didn’t like what he had to say, he sought safety with the angel for a small while longer. “I was gonna try to, um. Get into your bag and leave when you left.”

There was a pause. Sam’s brow pinched thoughtfully, while Dean raised an eyebrow. However, it was Castiel that broke the silence first. “Oscar, you told me yourself that it is not safe for you to leave the motel. This seems like a very ill-advised plan.”

Oscar’s cheeks warmed up even more and his shoulders bunched up. “I-I know,” he said. “I thought they were just drifters. I see people like that all the time, so I thought they’d be my fastest way to get away because I have to leave, it’s not safe anymore, they’re already breaking the wall a few rooms over and I don’t want to get caught in a trap!”

His rambled outburst, earnest and as frantic as he’d been since they caught him, inspired some recognition in Sam and Dean’s eyes. They shared a glance, and then Dean nodded almost to himself. “That pest control van,” he surmised. “They must be doin’ something that scared him out here in the first place.”

“Pest control,” Castiel echoed the words almost hesitantly, as though the phrase was entirely new to him. Oscar had no idea how much the angel actually knew about human ways. Probably not even as much as Oscar, who only had a view from the vents in the walls, and only ever saw humans when they were on their way to somewhere else.

Now he needed to be just like them, finding a new destination. The overwhelming melancholy returned, and his shoulders sagged. Taking away the stress of his capture only revealed the stress of his situation underneath.

“Th-they’re gonna set traps and maybe even put poison in the walls,” he lamented. His voice wound up with emotion and the tears spilled over his cheeks again, silently this time. “My house … I can’t go back to my house. I lived here since forever and now I can’t and I don’t know where I’m gonna go.

“Oscar,” Castiel said, his rough voice quieted to a raspy whisper. Oscar looked up in time to see the other hand approaching with the first two fingers extended. Like when they’d first met, Castiel gently touched Oscar’s forehead.

A peaceful feeling washed over him like a sigh, more peace than Oscar had felt inside for a long time. His eyelids drooped, and he lost consciousness before he finished taking a breath.

~~~

Castiel frowned thoughtfully as the absolutely tiny person on his palm slumped to the side. Oscar’s little chest (too thin for even his miniscule height) moved in a slow rhythm of deep sleep. It was the only help Castiel could think to offer against the rising panic.

He nudged at Oscar’s shoulder to straighten out his back and settle him in a less awkward position where he slept. The little guy didn’t even mumble in his sleep to show he’d noticed.

When Castiel looked up, Sam and Dean were watching him with familiar expressions, like they were waiting for his next strange action. They were wary around him as always, but that was fairly common. People who knew when they were looking at an angel in a vessel and not a real human tended to be guarded.

“Well?” Dean asked. His lack of reverence used to be jarring, but Castiel was getting more used to it. That determination had inspired some of Castiel’s own actions in the fight to stop the end of days.

“He was panicking,” Castiel explained. “I did not rebel so I can abandon a soul in need.”

Dean’s eyebrows raised and he shrugged, exasperated.”That’s great, man. How are you gonna help him in the long run?”

Castiel didn’t respond, because he didn’t have an answer for that yet. He glanced back down at his palm before he used his free hand to open up the trench coat he wore. With care, he lowered Oscar into one of the empty inner pockets, where he could sleep hidden away. For now, he needed peace, not worry about things happening around him that he couldn’t control.

Castiel did not understand everything that a human thought or did, but he was trying. His purpose was to protect all of Creation. Oscar deserved his help just as much.

Sam perked up and reached out to lightly tap his brother’s arm. Human gestures like that, Castiel realized, had layers of meaning. Sam caught Dean’s attention, and at the same time galvanized them both to formulate a plan, all with one simple touch. “We have our suits. We could be any higher-up we need to be to get the pest control to leave, then Oscar can stay in his home.”

Inexplicably, Dean understood immediately. It was a mystery that Castiel could always count on. “Might work,” Dean mused. “We might as well see what fake IDs we have lying around for it. I dunno … what Oscar is, but I guess we owe him one. And while we’re out, we can get him a damn cheeseburger.

With a decision made, the brothers broke their small gathering, Sam with an assuring nod and Dean with one last glance at where Castiel’s pocket concealed an entire person. There were no outward signs that Oscar was even in there. Castiel could barely feel his tiny weight in the pocket.

“I will wait here,” Castiel told them. The brothers, already determined to do what they could, barely nodded to him as they went about gathering their things.

Patience came easy for a being as old as he was. He hardly noticed the time coming and going as the brothers left. Whatever plan they enacted, he could always help alter someone’s memory if he needed to.

While they were gone, he stared at the window. The sky outside was already tinted yellow, and the day would soon turn to night. There were a lot of things out there that Castiel could be doing to fight, but aligning himself with the Winchesters had taught him something that he hadn’t even been fully aware of the first time he met Oscar. They fought small battles, one at a time, because sometimes it was all they could do.

This time, he could do something. As the tiny shape in his pocket shifted and curled up tighter in his sleep, Castiel knew it was the right thing.

2 thoughts on “Beggars Can’t Be Choosers (3/3)”

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