Day Twenty, Solstice Eve~
On January 24, 1978, the 5,022,008th Marlowe Collection coat rolled off the line at the plant in Corpus Christi, Texas: A tan, double-breasted trench.
There weren’t any ceremonies or speeches. The lieutenant governor did not show up. And three days later, the plant was shut down, its production outsourced to Mexico. Nobody gave two craps about the coat. But they should have, because this simple, 42” trench would turn out to be the most important coat – no, the most important armor – in pretty much the whole of existence.
The trench made it into the plant’s final shipment to J.C. Penny, where it was purchased by one James Novak, an atheist with a Carl Sagan haircut and a brain tumor the size of his fist. On weekends, he’d take Junior out back to show him the stars and the planets, the “stuff you’re really made of”. Castiel knows about this, because he’s visited James’s Heaven. And he still does, from time to time.
After James died, the trench ended up in the back of his son’s closet, in a dusty box of forgotten things. Until one day the movers came, and young Jimmy saw the belt sticking clasp-end out of the flap, as if waving hello. On impulse, Jimmy shrugged on the old thing. His new wife rubbed her belly and said that he “looked like Bogie”. From that day on, Jimmy never took it off.
I guess that’s where this story ends.
And here’s where it begins.
The trench, of course, has all the things other coats have… and a few holes they don’t.
But none of that stuff’s important.
This is the stuff that’s important. The Barbie shoe in the left pocket: When Cas sits, it still sometimes jabs into his stomach. A faded, water-stained Kodak of two boys right on the cusp of manhood: All Cas has to do is stick his hand in the pocket and immediately, his fingers find their lopsided smiles. Even when Dean fished the trench out of the reservoir, he made sure all these little things stayed, because he knows better than anyone that it’s not just the cotton that makes a coat warm.
Raphael, Dick Roman, Crowley… they don’t know or care what’s in the trench’s pockets, or even that there’s a trench in the first place. All they know is that the flash of tan makes Cas easier to find.
In between apocalypses, Cas would sometimes take a day for himself, sometimes a week. Sometimes longer, if the Winchesters didn’t need him around. He’d pass the time seeing the world and its splendors, too numerous to describe. He’d doggie-paddle with puffins, trade dirty jokes with bonobos. Meditate with Tibetan monks. Buy sugar dates in Marrakesh. He’d pay his respects to the forgotten Incan queens, their mountain-top graves still undisturbed. He’d read poetry with Korean schoolchildren.
And when it was clear, sometimes he’d find a cornfield and look up at the night sky, his fists in his pockets, and watch the stars for hours, the corners of his mouth tugging upward of their own accord.
It never occurred to Cas that, sure, maybe he didn’t have his own body or a circulatory system, but he was never, in fact, heartless.
Smiles are hard. Any rookie wearing his first human prom dress can squeeze out a halfway decent frown, but true smiles? They’re impossible. You try to crook your lips at just the right angle, show just the right amount of teeth… but you never can. The humans can always tell. And since it’s a smile, it’s supposed to communicate something. It’s all supposed to add up to some greater punchline bigger than your words.
I’m telling you, smiles are a raging pain in the ass.
This is the last time Cas will put on the trench for a long time. And for the record, at this point next week, there will be a new apocalypse brewing, this time on the south-side of Shanghai.
Cas won’t be there.
Cas didn’t want Dean to save him. Every part of him, every fiber he’s got, wants to protect and to serve. But he’s not going to do that either. Because he made a promise. And now it’s time to keep it.
So what’s the secret to a good smile? It’s hard to say. But me, I’d say it’s in the lines around your mouth, the wrinkles around your eyes. Your dimples, like little pockets. And I think Cas does alright.
Up against good, evil, demons, angels, Leviathan, and destiny itself, Cas made his own choices. He wore his own trench. And, well, isn’t that kind of the point?
No doubt, smiles are hard. But hearts are harder, for a heart is a heavy burden.
But not as heavy as a coat.
This is fanart from Flutiebear’s fanfiction.
Other way around, actually. I wrote the nanoficlet as a response to ravenno’s adorable, adorable art. Her original comments:
Something sweet for my wall.
—also super thank you to both Euclase and Quickreaver for their awesome crit help with this.
Why not a giveaway from my Etsy shop! This necklace features Homage to Dean & Cas! It is 27 1/2 inches and dangles a bottle of Winchester soul along with elements of everyone’s favorite angel! One winner will be picked at random to receive this! (AND I ship international too!)
- You may reblog as many times as you wish! (likes count btw)
- Reblog ONLY with your main blog
- You don’t have to follow me (but that’ll be very sweet of you though!)
- Giveaway ends December 11th, 11 pm!
(p.s. #2 if ordering, make sure you read the announcements of the shop)