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[personal profile] noli_me_tangere
Title: Pila Jectus
Author: Shane
Pairing: Dean/Cas
Summary: Dean and Sam find a strange object that seems to have something to do with angels.
Notes: I wrote this fluff myself. Yes I did, and it is dorky and unbeta'ed. This is for [ profile] half_vulcan, who needs some happiness and fluff in her life. In fact, you should write her some, too.

They found it in the old man’s massive collection of stuff, hidden under piles of ruined treasure. The vengeful spirit that had offed him had also made a nearly complete wreck of the house, slinging the odds and ends of a lifetime’s worth of strange treasures from one end of the ramshackle Victorian to the other.

“This is what happens when you become a crazy hoarder!” Dean griped, crashing through an ankle-high pile of rusty pots and pans in the kitchen. Each and every one of them was unique, and completely trashed--Sam didn’t know how the old guy had ever managed to cook for himself when apparently the only kitchenware he owned was all stuff from the 1850’s or earlier.

“He was a University professor, Dean,” Sam chided distractedly from the living room. “He’s allowed his eccentricities, and it’s not his fault the house came with a pissed-off ghost.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Dean snorted dismissively, code for the fact that he was starting to feel depressed, too, at the shambles of a life they couldn’t save. “Let’s get out of here,” he continued, in his time-to-hit-the-bars-like-the-emotionally-repressed-asshole-I-am voice.

“Yeah. Good idea,” Sam muttered, but suddenly, turning to leave, he saw a glimpse of brightness under the tattered sofa cushions on the floor. It was like something reflecting sunlight, only there wasn’t any--it was almost midnight. Sam frowned, leaned over, and picked up a smooth, slightly ovoid, metallic object. “What the heck is this?”

Dean kicked his way through a closetful of clothes strewn between the kitchen and dining room, squinting at the thing Sam held. It fit neatly in Sam’s hand and was a warm, bright yellow metal color, like brass, only it weighed half as much as something made of metal should. Sam couldn’t see any seam at all, but there were faint markings across the surface--inscriptions in some ancient language. Dean frowned at it.

“I dunno. Some kind of weird decoration. Ancient Sumerian what-the-fuck-ever. You’re the college kid, you should know this stuff.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Of course. Well, I’m taking it with us. Maybe Bobby will have something.”

“And maybe he won’t care.” Dean was obviously done with the whole affair. Sam followed him out of the ruined house, breathing in the familiar relief of taking his last steps away from a finished case, no matter how tragic it had been. The strange little object seemed almost to glow, and it felt warm in his hand.


As it turned out, Bobby had no idea what the hell it was either, and since it didn’t do anything at all except sit there looking pretty, fairly soon it was forgotten and became another oddity on another shelf, except for the times that Dean would lob it at Sam’s head or use it to smash bugs. In fact, for some reason, it became more Dean’s object than Sam’s; Sam admitted to a certain curiosity about it, but as time went on and he had better things to do--like try to prevent the Apocalypse from happening again--he sort of forgot about it and let his infinitely more fidgety brother do what he wanted with it.

Which, at the moment, was toss it from hand to hand incessantly while Sam and Bobby pored over various volumes of medieval grimoires.

“This is ridiculous,” Bobby was saying. “All of these associate the black dog with the Devil, with Lucifer!”

“I’m just saying, maybe there’s another meaning of Devil that we’re not seeing here.” Sam rubbed his temples irritably. “Some other kind of entity that we haven’t encountered before.”

“Meanwhile,” Dean chimed in, almost cheerily, “We’ve had what, two more sightings? No deaths yet, but I bet it’s not going to wait for you two to decide which meaning of the word ‘devil’ it’s freaking using!”

“Hey, you’re being useless,” Bobby realized snidely. “Why don’t you call down your know-it-all angel boyfriend and we can figure this out a lot quicker!”

As Sam suspected it would, that comment got Dean to sit up and take notice, his eyes narrowing pissily. “Ha ha, very funny, Bobby. Number one, just because Cas is an angel doesn’t mean we have to call him for every fucking thing, and two, it’s him with the personal space problem, not me!”

“Oh, so you’re saying you don’t mind it when he--”

Sam jumped a little as the air did that shift-swoosh thing and between one blink and the next, Castiel appeared right beside Dean.

“Fuck!” Dean swore, closing his eyes and not even bothering to jump in alarm any more. Castiel tilted his head, looking almost as surprised as Dean, Bobby, and Sam were.

“I--” he began, then shook his head slightly, more of a twitch. “Did you need something?”

Bobby blew a breath out between puffed cheeks, shooting Sam a significant glance. “Just...working on a case. Maybe you could help.”

With a brief look to Dean, Castiel moved forward and quickly scanned the page Bobby had open. “I see. You are researching the black dog phenomenon?”

“Yeah,” Sam started. “But this one is different than those we’ve run into before. Do you know anything from your end about...any potential connection to Lucifer?”

Castiel’s brow furrowed and he straightened up. Dean was petulantly tossing the object from hand to hand again.

“It seems unlikely--” Castiel began, seeming distracted momentarily by the motion. “That Lucifer would have any,” he cocked his head again at the passing of the shiny object through the air. “Um, influence from within the--” he broke off completely, raptly staring at Dean’s movements. “Dean, where...did you get that?”

“This?” Dean tossed it in the air, catching it two-handed. Castiel’s eyes followed the motion and Sam thought he even saw the angel’s fingers twitch. “Dunno. We found it in some guy’s house. On a case. Why?” He started juggling it from hand to hand again. Castiel’s eyes shifted back and forth with it until he seemed to catch himself and his expression returned to its customary glare.

“What is it?” Sam interjected, suddenly piqued again.

“It...” Castiel tore his gaze away. “It is not important.” He turned back to Bobby’s book, but now Dean had the scent of his favorite thing--being annoying. He shifted into Castiel’s peripheral vision and tossed the object again. Higher, this time.

Castiel’s shoulders hunched, and he concentrated on the grimoire, despite it being, Sam figured, pretty boring fare for an angel. Dean was grinning.

“Come on, Cas...what is it? Some kinda...angel dildo or something?”

The peeved stare Dean got in response to that was pretty priceless, Sam had to admit. He could almost see feathers ruffling.

“It is nothing of the sort.”

“Then what is it?” Bobby, this time. Castiel’s glare shifted to him, then to Sam, who sat back against the desk with arms folded. The angel let out a snort of breath.
“Please say this isn’t why you called me here,” he said with an edge of darkness to his voice.

“No,” Sam replied slowly. “We were gonna ask you about Lucifer, really, but...well, now that you’re here, and you clearly know what it is...”

Castiel sighed, eyes looking momentarily heavenward. After a silence, he growled out, “it’s a...I suppose it would be called a pila jectus.

“A what the who now?” Dean tossed it again, teasing Castiel’s attention once more.


The angel sighed heavily, clearly burdened by human stupidity. “It is a tool. An angelic tool.”

Predictably, Dean snickered.

“For what?” Bobby sounded disgusted, and Castiel shot him a narrow-eyed look.

“It’s for...honing reflexes. Exercising speed and agility.”

Dean stopped tossing the object, and leaned in. “Wait...are you serious?”

“When it’s thrown, it can go anywhere in time or space, and the exercise is to follow and catch it before it finishes its trajectory.”

Dean’s grin broadened. “Oh my God...” he said slowly. “It’s an angel chuck ball.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Castiel’s shoulders hunched in again.

“It is! It’s totally an angel chuck ball!”

Anyone could see where this was going. Dean whistled, and threw the object. “Go get it, boy!”
The ball landed in the middle of the room with a dull ‘thud.’ Castiel gave Dean the most unimpressed look Sam had ever seen anyone receive, ever.

“You have to throw it with intent, Dean.”

Dean had already bounded over and picked it up. “Like this?” He lobbed it at Sam’s face. It did not disappear into time and space.

“Ow! Fuck, Dean!” Sam cupped his forehead and glared. He scooped up the ball and drew back. Dean cringed a little, but Sam took a breath and hurled the thing with as much intent as he could muster. It vanished.

Dean stared, then looked expectantly at Castiel. Castiel’s brows were furrowed and he actually twitched. Then, in a rush of wings, he too disappeared.

“Well, that was--” Bobby put his hands flat on the table, about to stand, when Castiel returned, holding the ball up between slender fingers. He looked a little more windblown than usual.

“It was in medieval Bruges.” He sounded, for a split second, almost proud of himself. Then the glare fell over his expression again.

Dean stared, then laughed. “This. Is. Awesome!

He grabbed the object out of Cas’ hand, and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.

“Dean--” Castiel started, and Dean hurled the ball. It winked out of existence, leaving Castiel staring at Dean with flat annoyance. “Dean, I--”

“Go on! Go get it!”

Sam was pretty sure that Castiel actually growled just before he vanished again.

Bobby buried his face in his hands.

After a few moments, Castiel reappeared, holding the ball a bit more tightly. “The Helix Nebula, in the constellation of Aquarius. Impressive throw, for a human.”

“Yeah, that’s because I’m awesome. Duh.” Without warning, Dean snatched the ball away from Castiel, and scrunching up his face in a comical display of concentrating, he leaned back like a football quarterback and lobbed it into thin air again. Castiel stared at him, lips parted, with a look of such frustrated affront on his face that Sam found it hard not to laugh. If Cas had visible wings, Sam just knew that every feather would be standing on end. Nonetheless, with a soft utterance of breath that was almost a squeak, Castiel narrowed his eyes to truly deadly slits and disappeared.

This time, Bobby just looked back and forth between Dean and Sam as though actively considering phoning the loony bin.

When Castiel reappeared moments later, he was clutching the ball in both hands, and was noticeably wet. Dean grinned widely.

“Where’d I get it to this time?”

Almost to the Challenger Deep, southern end of the Marianas Trench.” Castiel’s annoyed tone had a subtle hint of satisfaction to it. “Dean -”

Dean stuck out his hand. “Damn I’m good. C’mon, buddy, drop it!”

Castiel hesitated, fingers tightening on the ball. “If I give it to you, you will only throw it again.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “That’s the point, Cas. You know you want to. C’mon!”

“Dean, we have other things to attend to.”

Sam thought Cas sounded oddly reluctant.

Bobby looked up from between his interlaced fingers. “Are you two knuckleheads done playing fetch? Can we, I dunno, work on this case?”

Sam sighed. “Yeah. Come on, Dean. Quit teasing the angel.”

With a petulant look, Dean flopped back in his chair. “Fine. Party poopers.”

Castiel inched forward again to look at Bobby’s book. His fingers caressed the ball distractedly. Sam turned back to the material on Bobby’s desk, as well.

“So, connection to Lucifer, then?”

“The Cage was designed so that nothing, not even thought, could escape it.”

“Well that’s a damn relief,” Bobby grunted. Castiel straightened. Sam watched him fidget with the pila jectus out of the corner of his eye.

“Unfortunately,” the angel continued, “we know that there is a flaw in the design. A chink in the Cage’s structure.” His laser blue eyes fixed themselves on Sam’s face and Sam felt a little twinge of resentment.

“Well I haven’t been having any dreams.” He said, trying not to sound sullen. “No important ones, anyway.”

Castiel nodded thoughtfully, and clutched the ball just a little tighter, unconsciously. Sam saw the fleet chase of subtle emotions over his features.

“I am sorry, Sam.” His voice was softer, the growl lower and dulled at the edges in what Sam knew to be true regret. Sam shrugged.

“It’s okay, Cas. I mean, I went to Hell. I can’t expect to get out of jail completely free and clear.”

Castiel simply nodded. Over his shoulder, Sam could see Dean pointedly staring at a stain on the wallpaper, his jaw clenching rhythmically. Bobby blew out a loud, obvious breath.

“Well if it’s not Lucifer, then we just go after it with all the usual fanfare. Stakes, salt, boys know the drill. My bet is on shifter, then, maybe even a pack of ‘em.” He closed the dusty book he’d been using with a snap, and pulled another, newer one off the self behind him.

“I suppose you have no more need for me at the moment?” Castiel sounded a bit unsure, and he looked down at the smooth bright object in his hand. If Sam didn’t know better, he’d think the angel was fishing around for an invitation. Sam looked over at Dean, but Dean didn’t meet his eyes.

“Er, thanks, Cas.” Sam smiled.

“Yeah, have fun with your new angel toy. Don’t say we never gave you anything.”

Castiel’s shoulders heaved in a little sigh, and he stretched out his hand to Dean. “You should...hold onto it.”

“Why?” Dean’s voice sounded hesitant, and Sam caught sight of a strange expression on his brother’s face, oddly open, for just a second.

“I--” Cas seemed uncomfortable. “I can’t really...throw it for myself, Dean.”

Dean arched an eyebrow, and Bobby made a muffled little snort. Castiel‘s eyes flickered up to Dean’s face, and his teeth caught briefly against his lower lip, but when he spoke again his voice was irritable and flat. “My own intuition will interfere. I am likely to be able to judge when and or where it will land, thus defeating the point of the exercise.”

They did not break eye contact for what Sam personally thought was an uncomfortably long time.


“Yes, Dean.”

There was no mistaking the amount of lingering of fingers when Castiel passed the ball to Dean. Nor the small, fleeting, but genuinely pleased smile on Dean’s lips just before he resumed his trademark obnoxious, shit-eating grin. Sam rolled his eyes; trust Dean to think he was being subtle. Or even worse, he was probably still in complete denial. It was probably why he was even harder on Cas than on everyone else he was close to, Sam pondered, and as Castiel disappeared with a last, parting look and a rush of wind, Sam thought that Dean was really a complete idiot sometimes.


In the end, the ball wound up in the bottom of Dean’s duffel bag, along with the battered, stained trench coat. Dean thought that no one knew they were there, but Sam had seen them, though he didn’t say anything.

There was really nothing to say.


So he was a bit surprised to see Dean sitting on the porch with a beer in one hand and the angel ball in the other. It was late summer, almost a year after Cas had swallowed Purgatory and been drowned in Leviathan. Three months after the archangel Gabriel had defeated the creature and locked it back beneath the sea. Sam had been less dumbfounded than he’d expected at Gabriel’s return; wherever God was and however He was involved, He seemed to have a fondness for feisty angels.

He’d tried to ask Gabriel about Cas, because he knew Dean never would, but Gabriel had been uncharacteristically close-mouthed, full of angelic fire. “I think...I might go back to Heaven for a bit,” was all he’d said. “Don’t be a stranger, though, y’hear?” And he’d winked at Sam, a strange amalgamation of ferocious heavenly warrior and sultry Trickster. Sam hadn’t known quite what to think.

He settled slowly on the porch beside his brother.


Dean didn’t look up, but lifted his head in acknowledgement.

“You remember this stupid thing?” He asked, tossing the ball once, twice, and catching it in his palm.

“Yeah,” Sam said cautiously.

“Fuck everything.” Dean threw the ball as hard as he could, and it disappeared.


It was Sam who was sleeping closest to the door, on the couch, so he heard the knock the next morning. Sun was just barely beginning to slant into the windows, and Bobby was already up making coffee. A warm breeze swirled in through the rickety door when Sam opened it, blinking into the early light.

“Dean!” Sam hollered over his shoulder. “It’s for you!”

He turned back and grinned.

“Waterville, Maine. September 2009.” Castiel, coatless, held up the bright golden ball cautiously in one hand, his eyes scanning Sam’s face as though remembering what a smile meant. “Hello, Sam.”

The angel’s slender frame all but creaked when Sam hugged him tight, but he showed no sign of physical discomfort other than a startled gust of breath. It was when his body tensed that Sam knew Dean was standing behind him in the doorway.

His brother was silent for a long time, during which Castiel’s eyes flickered once to the warped boards of the porch, then back to Dean’s face, fearless but heart-broken. His slim fingers tightened on the ball, cupped close to his body.

“You seriously found it.” Dean’s voice was cracked and rough with sleep and emotions Sam knew he didn’t want to admit to.

Castiel nodded silently.

Dean’s hand was hovering awkwardly in the air, fingers twitching as though fighting not to grab Cas by the shirt and haul him across the eternity of the porch boards between them. Sam thought he could see a gleam of wetness in Dean’s sleep-dazed eyes. It was confirmed a second later when Dean brought the aimless hand up to his face and scrubbed roughly. Castiel watched this with an intensity and an apology that radiated like neon signs.

Finally, Dean let out a choppy breath.

“Dude, you are good.

When the tiny, but somehow luminous smile curled the edge of Cas’ mouth, Sam couldn’t help but let out a laugh. Maybe his own eyes were a little damp, too, but he wasn’t gonna tell Dean.

“Come on,” he said, clapping Cas on the shoulder. “Bobby’s making coffee.”

As they went in, Sam saw Dean’s hand out of the corner of his eye, slipping around Cas’ arm, snaking the ball from his grasp.

“Maybe we can play a little fetch later?”

“Yes, Dean. We can.”


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