"Uh," says Dean, "what?"
The man shrugs his shoulders. "Think about it, dude. Guy appears in park, wants nothing more than to cheer your pathetic ass up, definitely isn't some Samantha Who wannabe, what else could it be?"
"Have you been stalking me or something?!"
"Chill out, Deano," says the man, instantly getting Dean's hackles up. If there's one thing he hates more than that nickname, it's talking to anyone who acts like a knowing dick. "I'm just trying to help you out here! Consider it a favour."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Okay, okay," says the guy, holding his hands out in mock surrender. "You got me! I felt kinda bad for wrapping you up in my joke, so I figured, why not exposition it out for you?"
Dean is about ready to throttle the guy. "Right now, you are doing a really shitty job of that! Who the hell are you, and what the hell are you-- actually, just 'what the hell'?!"
"Just call me..." drawls the man, pausing to pop bubblegum in his mouth, "Scarlip."
"I'm not calling you that," says Dean.
"Your loss," says the probably not really named Scarlip. He chews on the gum in a way that has got to be that loud on purpose. "Anyways, what was I saying? Men growing on trees. Or, things that look like men, anyway! D'you seriously think a guy like your Cas is human?"
"So what, he's an alien?"
"No, no, nothing as exotic as that. Just your average home-grown angel."
It's really only the loud smack noise the dude makes that informs Dean he may have just slammed him up against the wall, but, given all that's happened, he doesn't feel particularly bad for the hair-trigger reaction. "I have had a very stressful day," he tells not-Scarlip, "And I am really not in the mood to be jerked around by jackasses who don't know when to quit. Am I clear?"
"Crystal," says the man, sitting, legs casually crossed, in the bucket chair across the room. He blows a bubble as Dean splutters in confusion, popping it loudly for effect. "You gonna listen now?"
Does he really have a choice?
As he slowly sits down, the guy smiles. "Thaaat's more like it! So, as I was sayin', your new beau is a good ol'-fashioned seraph. Good kid, kinda straight laced, spent all his time mooning over you lot since the last big battle. And, ya know, a couple thousand years just starin' at people tends to get one a little stir crazy, so when he sees your sorry ass pining away of a winter's night, he says, 'Oh golly gee, Scarface, I just gotta help that poor rube down there, could ya help a fella out?'"
"I thought it was Scarlip?"
"Scarface sounds cooler. So I says, 'sure little buddy, down ya go!' and there he goes, propositioning you in a public park. I gotta give him points for style on that, man."
Dean sighs loudly, because this story is about as bonkers as it gets, and he's annoyed at the tiny part of him that wants to believe what the guy is saying. To believe what his mom used to tell him at night is true. "I thought angels were all diapers and harps," he says, because a tiny speck of hope isn't enough to completely override his sarcasmotron. "Why'd he look like an 80s detective?"
"Now this," says Scardick, "is where I actually come in. Y'see, upstairs it's all diapers and harps and Hallmark cards and fundamental particles. Angel's are like Schrödinger's cat without the box, so, they need a box to come visit. A vessel. Usually some poor schmoe like the guy whose wife you just freaked out. Only, there's a no-dicking-around-on-Earth rule in force right now, so to come cheer you up, Cas would've had to break waaaaaaaay more rules than a stickler like him can stomach, so, there I am, like the charitable guy I am, and make a golem for him to fit himself into, and, voila! You get a shoulder-angel without the rule breaking or brainscorching usually involved."
Scarwhatever looks at him expectantly, like he's supposed to say 'thank you' or something. "I don't know how you didn't notice this, since you were doing it, but he just got dragged away by his doctor! Now maybe he isn't this Jimmy guy, but--"
"Oh, that guy?" says Scar. No, even just thinking that is too cool-sounding for this absolute dickweasel. "Yeah, he wasn't a doctor, he was Cas' boss, and man, he has gotta be pissed! One of his best and brightest showing him up?"
"So, what, they beamed him back up? To Heaven?"
"Pretty much! If you bothered to go round the staff after this chat, they'd tell you there's no Dr Adler on record, and no Novak either. To be honest," he says, leaning forward and speaking much quieter, "I'm only really here because you took the step of calling the vessel's wife. If you'd left it at that, I woulda left you none the wiser, but I do feel kinda bad involving you in this whole joke. Almost. You woulda spent way too much time tryin' to get to the bottom of this mystery without me to explain that it's just aliens!"
"Angels," Dean says.
"Now you're getting it!"
"So if he was just, like, bending a rule or two hanging around me, why drag him off?"
The guy laughs. "Right! I'm not totally done with the story. See, what they don't know is it's a golem! So as far as they're concerned, one of their best soldiers, the most meticulously rule-stickey guy around, the one they're all tipping for bigger and brighter things in a few millennia, has basically gone rogue. You might've noticed, but angels are pretty singular in their purpose, so it's no wonder they caught up to him so quickly. I'm honestly surprised they didn't just straight-up zap him away when your back was turned."
"Wait," Dean says, suspending every part of him that's not on-board with this probably-complete-and-utter-bullshit story, his blood running cold, "Is he in trouble?"
"Yeah, I guess? They'll probably court marshal him, y'know, lock him up or give him a really shitty job to do for a few centuries before they work out he didn't actually do anything wrong. It's kinda the best part of the prank, y'know? Like those brick jokes-"
"You think this is a joke?" says Dean, rather louder than he intended. He did, however, need to be heard over the sound of the chair he just smashed into the wall.
"Yeah," says the man, not even bothering to shrug. "What of it?"
"Bring him back," says Dean, not entirely surprised at the hint of desperation in his voice. "Or- or just explain to them they've got it all wrong, or I swear to god I'll--"
"You'll what?" he says, snidely, suddenly right up in Dean's space, towering over him in a way that has nothing to do with his stature. "I made a body for an angel with the same amount of effort it takes you to toast a poptart. What exactly are you going to do?"
"I don't know yet," says Dean, refusing to allow any part of him to retreat. If he hadn't believed the whole angel storyline before, the threat written all over this man would have been the kicker. "But," he continues, holding the man's stare, "like angels, I'm pretty singular when it gets down to it."
They stare each other down a few beats longer, Dean starting to sweat and wonder when was an acceptable time to maybe back down - 'never' seemed good right now - when the man rolls his eyes and sighs loudly. "Fiiiiiine," he says, "you've completely sucked the fun outta this for me."
Dean blinks. Did he seriously just win a stare down with a-- with whatever the hell Scardouche is?
"Wait right here," he continues, "and let's just call what I do next a Christmas miracle or something, right? Jeez, some people just can't take a joke!"
And with that, he's gone.
* * *
"It's not a vessel," repeats Castiel.
"What?" repeats the courtroom.
Castiel looks first to Zachariah, and then to Naomi, in utter confusion. "Is that what this is about?"
"What did you think it was about?"
"Um," says Castiel, "fraternising with a human?"
A very noisy silence ensures, as all three parties can think, momentarily, of nothing to say.
Zachariah is, as ever, the first to stick his head above the pulpit. "That's a good try at a get-out clause, kid, but we all know there'd be no fraternising without a vessel, and there's no one in this room nearly powerful enough to get around that."
"Ahem," says a voice.
"Gesundheit," says Castiel.
"No, I mean, 'ahem, I am offended by that supposition'," says the voice. The voice Castiel recognises, no less, as being the one to get him into this mess. Before anyone can stop him, he's striding to the front desk, and giving Naomi a mock bow. "Yeronner," he says, "I accept full and total responsibility for this incident. I led poor, guileless Castiel astray, and forgot to report it to the proper authorities. So, y'know, don't be too hard on him."
"What?" says Zachariah, as Naomi says, simply, "I see."
"See, we can get this all resolved fairly simply - Cassie dear, if you'd remove your shirt?"
"No," says Castiel, and "You said this was all approved."
"Eh, I lied," says the man, and clicks his fingers. "Get with the stripping! It's evidence, I promise!"
Grumbling, and not entirely sure he should trust that which got him very nearly... well, hopefully he'll never find out what very nearly would have become of him, Castiel removes first the overcoat, then the jacket, then the shirt, at pains to take his time in doing so.
"There," says the man, as soon as his back is bear and the marks across it apparent, "those, dear audience, are the Lichtenberg figures you get when you shove an angeload of light into a clay model. Pretty cool, amirite?"
Castiel shucks his shirt back on, ignoring the loud chatter of the gathered audience, and pretending not to enjoy the look of confusion-marred disappointment marking Zachariah's face. Once the chatter has died down, Naomi says simply, "I see."
She looks at him consideringly a moment, and then to the faux desk she sits in front of. "In accord with the evidence just presented, your sentence for your actions will be changed accordingly. I believe a temporary secondment to Earth will do well to teach you the error of your judgement," she says, with a smile more well-humoured than Castiel had known her capable of. "This will last for eighty years, give or take," she adds, with something bordering on a wink.
Before anyone has a chance to react, he asks, "Starting immediately?"
"Immediately," she agrees, and he is once more in front of the most beautiful face of all.
* * *
"Hey," says Dean.
"Hello," says Castiel.
They both look at each other for an overly long while, waiting for the other to move, and it's Castiel who eventually steps forward and pulls Dean into an elbow-y, awkward hug. "Yeah, yeah," says Dean, patting him on the back, "you were only gone for what, ten minutes?"
"Give or take," says Castiel. "And I don't believe I'll be going again."
"Believe it or not," Dean says, "I actually get your whole crazy story now. You really did just wanna make me happy, huh?"
"It's in my nature to be fixated on a task," says Castiel, shrugging his shoulders slightly, but not willing to let go just yet.
"Do you still want to do that?"
Castiel pauses, and then takes a minute step back, enough to really look Dean in the eye. "I was thinking," he says, with a smile that promises many, many things, "we could work on making us both happy."
"Amen to that," says Dean, and starts the experiment in joint happiness by trying to kiss the living daylights out of him.
(It doesn't quite work, but it was worth a shot.)