Fandom/Genre: Supernatural, Futurefic, Epistolary fic
Characters: Sam Winchester, Castiel, mentions of others
Word Count: 3,245
Warnings: Some angst, spoilers through 5.22
Spoilers: Up through 5.22
Disclaimer: Written for fun, not profit; anything you recognize belongs to Kripke, Warner Bros., et al.
A/N 1: This is the sixth in a series of seven fics my post-5.22 ‘verse. Can be read as a stand-alone.
A/N 2: Many thanks to Carlos, calamitycrow, and sleepwalker1015 for the beta and feedback!
A/N 3: The title is from Coldplay; “Postcards from Far Away” is an instrumental piece on their album Prospekt’s March
Summary: An exchange of letters between Sam and Cas—turns out no matter how much their futures seem to diverge, being friends means there’s always something they can do to help each other out, to learn from each other.
Also available on: AO3
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“Postcards from Far Away”
How are things in heaven? It feels strange to ask that. I’m not even sure you’ll get this, but I’ve got a feeling you will. Just like I know you’ve gone up to heaven. I’m not quite sure how this will work, especially considering as far as I know, Dean’s still got those Enochian sigils on his ribs that make him impossible for angels to find… but I know where he is, and I’m hoping you can work with me to keep watch over him. I love him, and I’m worried. I think he can do this—no I know he can. He’s my brother, and I have faith in him. But Dean’s always had trouble having faith in himself, and I want to make sure he actually keeps it together long enough to give his new life a try. If I tell you where he is, can you look in on him from time to time? Maybe subtly exert some influence to help him stay on the right path?
~ Sam Winchester
It is good to hear from you, my friend. I was worried about the damage Lucifer’s cage would wreak on your mind, so it is good to hear from you, to know you are still Sam. Thank you, Sam, for having the strength to put an end to it. All of Earth and all of heaven and hell are indebted to you and most will never know what you have done for them. But know that those of us who do will always remember and be eternally grateful.
I would be honored to keep watch over Dean, although, and I believe you will agree with me, I wish to keep any interference with your brother to a minimum. We all fought for freedom. Freedom from destiny, the freedom to choose, the freedom to decide. I told Dean it was his reward, and I am loathe to take it from him. I have faith in your brother because he would do anything for you, including keep a promise. He will hold on until he begins to learn the joys of his new life. Have faith, Sam. Have faith.
P.S. I believe Dean has returned to Lisa and Ben. If you can confirm this is correct, I will personally check in on him.
It’s good to hear from you too. I’m doing okay. I’ve learned how to free my mind down here. Turns out hell doesn’t work too well if you’re at peace, so I’ve kinda lucked out. The one thing that could tip the scales is Dean—I worry about him still, and it matters more to me than anything that he gets to have a home. That’s what our dad told me he wanted for Dean. That’s what he wanted to give him. Have I done the right thing? I think I have, I believe it, but at times I’m close to doubt.
Michael and Lucifer remain… obsessed. I think they’re consumed by their differences and their constant struggle to prove who’s right and who’s wrong. They use their father as a weapon, their relationship to him. It reminds me so much of me and Dean fighting over Dad, or me and Dad fighting… I know the parallels are there for a reason, but I still can’t find a way through to them. I suppose there may not be one, maybe Michael and Lucifer won’t ever learn, but some part of me thinks it should be easier to make a couple of angels see how they’re tearing themselves apart, than it was for me and Dean to see the same thing. It’s a challenge, but I’ve got eternity, or close to it, to sort this out, if it can be sorted out. No reason to think I’ll solve all the problems over night.
To answer your question, yeah, Dean is with Lisa and Ben. I think he’s alright, for now, that’s the sense I get from him, but I can also feel that he’s… well a bit emotionally fragile. Please do check in on him. If you can see where Ben and Lisa are, you should be able to find Dean without any trouble.
So, I’ve talked about my warring angels. The rest of Hell seems to be chaotic, but functioning, or at least starting to. There’s a bit of a power vacuum down here thanks to all the demons that died (Alastair, Lilith, Astaroth, Ruby, to name a few), and the rest that are still topside, like Crowley, but things seem to be settling down. Apparently word had gotten out about Lucifer’s plans and how he was treating demons in the buildup to the apocalypse. At the time, I guess a lot of the demons thought it was an honor to die serving the one who made them, but after I dragged him and Michael back down here, people—demons, well they’re people too I guess—started to figure out it was all empty promises and fruitless illusions. There’re a lot of very angry, bitter demons now, but I’m starting to get a handle on it. Lucifer seems to have lost his gloss as a shiny, happy god to the demons.
In this cage, I can’t go far, but I can see and hear everything. I’m using letters like these to get some of the… saner?... demons to try to establish some order. It’s strange, and feels weird, a little wrong. I don’t want to help punish people, or wield that kind of power, but the thing… the thing about Hell that most people don’t understand is that you do your own punishment. It’s only there if you think you deserve to be punished, so until and unless I can change how everyone thinks, I can’t stop it from happening. Lucifer and Michael are my first project. The rest, well… I’ll be happy with if I can keep Hell from breaking out on Earth again.
You haven’t told me about the angels! Don’t try to hide Cas. It’s okay if things are difficult. I’d fully expect them to be. Now come on and let me know how Dean’s doing and tell me what’s happening up there (well up where you are or on Earth, or both. I can see all kinds of stuff in Hell, but outside of that it’s mostly limited to Dean). If things are bad, maybe we can pool our resources and share ideas. Mostly, I hope you are okay. Thanks for everything you’ve done, Cas.
Sorry for the tardiness of my reply. Well… I suppose it is not so late in human terms. Not so much time has passed on Earth, but you and I both know that time above and below behaves quite differently. That is something I did not understand before I met you and Dean and became human. It is the sort of detail I struggle very hard to hold onto and impart in my fellow angels.
As you seem to have surmised, things are a bit… tense up here in heaven. Michael’s absence has created chaos in its wake, and my Father still has not returned. I am unsurprised, but the effects have been what you might call ‘earth shattering’ for a good number of the host. It also does not help that we lost so many among our ranks. Two archangels gone—even if Gabriel has not been around heaven much in years, his death has still unsettled things—and countless more dead, shaken. Of my garrison, I am the only angel who survived. The others, their faith has been shaken, shattered. I have taken it upon myself to study human history, and it seems the American Civil war is a good analogy for what has happened here. Brother pitted against brother, both fighting for different ideals… the ideas of what the war was about are so different that the different factions are talking past each other. And so many of them harbor such—hatred and resentment for humans.
I am trying to help them understand the value of humanity. Without humans, without the unique, insight the love and compassion and capacity for sacrifice and boundless generosity, the constant inventiveness and resilience in the face of impossible odds, we would all be destroyed. It is slow going, but I believe that I am making progress. After all, I have eternity to try to restore order. No that is not right. I have eternity to help my fellow angels build a new order, a new paradigm. Only I hope that the seeds of change take root sooner rather than later.
Dean is doing well, Sam. I—he is not without pain and grief, and he thinks of you often. Worries about you, fears you are in pain, and recalls how bad his torture in Hell was, imagines it must be worse for you. I… it is difficult to see him in that sort of pain, needlessly. I was tempted to intervene, bearing in mind that it might have, unwanted side-effects, destroy some of the progress he has made. But then his thoughts changed. He reached a—truth inside himself. He was finally able to reflect on the last time he saw you without the pain and regret obscuring his vision, and he saw the peace you had found there… Dean is slowly beginning to understand. He is no longer convinced you are suffering inconceivable torment. He is not confident in this belief yet, and perhaps he will never be, but his understanding is strengthening, and it is helping to give Dean some peace. Perhaps it is your kind and caring thoughts of him helping him to see the truth inside the chaos and turmoil of his soul.
You will be happy to hear that Dean has also started to realize that he can have his ‘normal apple-pie life,’ I believe you called it and enjoy it. At first he only went on because you wished it, but now he is starting to derive true pleasure from his interactions with Lisa and Ben and the others around him. I doubt very much that Dean will ever be a ‘social butterfly,’ and he is definitely more subdued a man than perhaps he once was. But that is really more a change wrought from his time in hell, and not your death. However, his value for family is as strong as ever, and he has come to accept that Lisa and Ben are his. Having familiar ties has helped him to adjust to a civilian, human life.
I have felt a quality of joy emanating from Dean I have seldom encountered among humans, and certainly never felt from Dean before. There is a purity in it that the heavenly host would do well to learn from. With your permission, I would like to instruct some of the less recalcitrant, more cooperative angels to observe him. Not interfere, but observe. See how Dean interacts, how he relates. I think it would be a good lesson for them on what human nature is really like, and how they might learn and grow from it.
How are my brothers faring?
Peace be with you, my friend.
You don’t know how relieved I am to hear that Dean’s starting to live for himself. Maybe he’ll actually develop some self-esteem? What do you think? He’s such a valuable, important person, but he’s never been able to see that. I’m very sorry for my contribution to that. So sorry… but I can only have hope and faith in Dean that he will recognize his own worth.
Your brothers, I am afraid, are not well. They seem stuck in the same litanies of who was to blame, of whose fault it is, who daddy loved more—they remind me so much of Dean and me at our worst… I think Lucifer is starting to tire of it. I think maybe… maybe he’s starting to get it. Given time, I think I’ll get through to him. It sounds crazy, but the devil is a lot more receptive to forgiveness and hope and understanding than is the leader of God’s army. There’s some irony for you.
Don’t take this the wrong way, I mean, please don’t see it as an insult against you or your family, it’s more of an observation… All that unquestioning following, the self-righteousness, the confidence and unwavering faith that what you’re doing is right… I’ve had that Cas. Even when I used to accuse Dean of being that way, I was really just turning a blind eye to what was going on inside me. The problem is, that kind of blind faith, it blocks you; it keeps you from having any self-awareness or self-criticism, or ability to consider if your actions are as pure or good as you believe (I’m using the collective ‘you’ here). I think Michael’s stuck. He really can’t see how he’s gone wrong, because if he does, it’ll shatter everything he believes in.
Lucifer on the other hand… well, I think a lot about his plan and the whole apocalypse wasn’t so much about winning—I’m not going to say his ideas about humanity are charitable all of the sudden, the guy’s still got a lot to learn about respecting humans, and demons, odd as that is to say—but really he was just trying to see his family again. He missed Michael. He wanted to be heard, and he definitely still believes he was mostly right, but mostly he was really tired of being lonely. He needed to reconnect. He’s very protective of Michael, and I think now he’s starting to understand that maybe there really are two sides to the story… he wasn’t all in the right, Michael (and God) weren’t all in the wrong, and now that he’s not alone, he’s starting to think, reflect more. Perhaps with more time, he’ll be ready for me to talk with him. He already seems to be ignoring the torments more and more. Which means he’s focusing a lot less on what’s made him angry, or how he deserves to be punished (how he wants to punish others)… maybe eventually the flames will stop licking at him all together because he won’t need the punishment anymore. When that happens, I’ll be waiting. Maybe once he starts to find peace, Michael’ll start to respond.
Oh, go ahead and let the angels observe Dean, just… please make sure they only observe. I’ve got legions of demons at my beck and call, and I’m not sure I’d be able to stop some of the more overeager ones from busting out and going after any angel who interfered with Dean. I didn’t mean for it to be this way, but Dean has come to symbolize a truce of sorts between Heaven and Hell. He is a no-man’s land. A no-fly zone. To the demons, Dean’s off limits. They won’t fight against Heaven as long as Heaven doesn’t interfere with him. It’s some kind of symbol of honor or gratitude to me for bringing their Father back to them… Did I mention I’m having a lot of trouble with the demons? Anyway, let the angels observe, tell me if it works, and I’ll see if I can try the same thing with the demons… from afar of course.
Oh, and Cas? How’s Adam? I know he’s not down here with me, and like I said, I think Michael sent him back to heaven before he took Adam’s body, but I can’t get an honest answer out of him, I mean Michael.
Your friend in peace,
I look forward to each letter I receive from you. I am impressed by your observations and the progress you have been making with Lucifer. Michael’s condition saddens me, but I can honestly say I am not surprised.
The angels are observing Dean and they have not interfered. Some of them are starting to learn, coming to me with questions, not all of which I am able to answer. I… sometimes I think I should go back to earth, spend more time as a human to gain better understanding. Perhaps at a future time when heaven is more stable, that will be possible. Dean is growing happier, and seems to be really enjoying being a father. Ben reminds him a lot of you and a lot of himself, but he’s started to see this as a great adventure an… opportunity… rather than a reminder of what he’s done wrong (or thinks he did wrong in the past). Oh, and you may already know this, but it bears repeating. You made Dean infinitely proud. Sometimes his joy at the man you became, at what you were able to accomplish in spite of the power of heaven and hell stacked against you is so great is shines like a beacon and the light of Dean’s joy is visible even from farthest reaches of heaven. You still make him proud, and he does not even know of your efforts in Hell.
Adam is starting to recover. The torment Zachariah and Michael put him through destroyed much of his faith, but he was able to rekindle his faith in you and Dean before he was called back. I met with your friend, Ash, and encouraged him to seek Adam out. They have since become friends, and Ash is taking Adam around to meet more of your and Dean’s friends and Adam is showing Ash parts of his memories… they have not broached the issue of parents yet, but… they are making great progress. I have been thinking that perhaps these aware souls, like Adam and Ash and Pamela (although… sometimes I think her attitudes about the status quo in heaven are a little too… rosy) or maybe Ellen and Jo, would be a good resource for the angels’ education. I could learn much from them, and it would go a long way for the angels to ask questions of human souls and interact with them on a more equal basis. What do you think?
I eagerly await your reply!
Thanks so much for the update. I’ve got demons watching Dean from down here now, just… observing him so they can see what humanity’s like. I think some of them, at least, seem to be remembering their human selves… it’s, well, it’s not without problems, but I think I will continue. They demons are changing, that’s for sure.
I’m thrilled to hear Adam’s doing okay! God… excuse my blasphemy. I mean I really hope he can heal. I… I’m so sad I never got to know him when we were both alive. Can you please send him my love; let him know I’m okay, that Dean’s okay too?
I think it’d be an awesome idea for you and your angels to start to learn about humans. It sounds like you’ve got a great plan. Keep me posted—I mean tell me what happens, updates, you know?
I’ve got to go talk with Lucifer. There are no flames today. I think now’s a good time to try to start getting through to him.
It’s hard to believe, but Cas, I think we’re starting to revolutionize Heaven and Hell for the better.
Looking forward to your next letter!
Your friend for eternity,