Silence filled the barn, a contrast compared to what it had been like only moments before. Anna was gone, as was Alastair, but what had happened to him? Dean wasn’t exactly sure.
Risking lowering his arm, Dean automatically searched for Sam knowing the kid had been right next to him when Alastair had attacked. Sam looked stunned but alive and breathing and that was the important thing.
“Sammy?” he asked quietly, still needing that verbal assurance.
Sam looked around him in confusion for a moment before his eyes came to rest on Dean. He gave two quick nods before answering. “I’m okay.”
Relief swamped his system and he began to push himself to his feet, Sam following suit. Dean’s hand reached out as he rose, ghosting Sam’s arm in a concern that wouldn’t be broken no matter how old Sam got.
Dean followed Sam’s gaze straight ahead and felt more relief rush through him as Castiel walked past, seemingly unharmed by whatever it was that Alastair had been doing to him. It had been a shock to see Castiel in trouble. Dean knew Angels were capable of dying, Castiel had said so himself. They had already lost too many in the war against Lilith but for some reason Dean had always believed that the scruffy looking Angel had always seemed invincible. Dean had never thought that he would have to come to his aid.
Dean moved forward with Sam, standing in front of Castiel and Uriel when something caught his eye. He glanced to the floor. The knife – Ruby’s knife – was lying where Alastair had dropped it. Dean leant down and picked it up, his gaze roaming over the engravings along the special silver. He hadn't thought that they would get the knife back.
Looking back up, his gaze went to Castiel’s, then to Uriel and then back to Castiel before his anger and frustration with the situation came to the surface. They hadn't even considered other ways, hadn't considered helping Anna over killing her and they had gone as far as threatening Sam to get what they wanted out of him … and he had folded. Uriel was right. When it came to some things, Dean did break easily and he hated himself all over again for it.
When he spoke he addressed both angels before him. “What are you guys waiting for? Go get Anna … unless of course you’re too scared.” He directed his gaze at Uriel, lifting both eyebrows as he spoke.
The angel was all too happy to destroy cities of helpless unsuspecting human’s, kill an innocent girl, angel or not and Dean was fed up with him. He got it. Angels weren’t white and fluffy but Uriel enjoyed destruction way too much.
“This isn’t over.” Uriel moved forward, his face menacing and disturbed, only to be stopped by Castiel’s hand on his shoulder, the other angel still silent and Dean almost wasn’t sure what to make of Castiel right in that moment. Still a little in shock at seeing the calm angel in battle and in even more shock that he’d had to step in to help.
Dean stood tall, not even flinching under the accusing glare. Uriel was an angel and Dean was not at all oblivious to the power the being held but that didn’t mean he was going to cower in fear.
“Oh it looks over to me, junkless.” Dean met the angels glare head on with one of his own, Sam remaining a silent witness at his side.
Turning to look back at Castiel, the angel’s unwavering blue stare seemed to say so much all at once but for some reason always ended up leaving Dean with more questions. The biggest question that kept spinning through Dean’s mind now was why? What had been so damn bad that even Castiel, who had always had their back in a sense, could see no other alternative? Castiel was a loyal angel and followed orders but Dean of all people knew the angel had doubts. He had told Dean that himself and he had allowed Dean to work his own way … up until now. With Anna it had been different. Castiel had seemed sorry but determined to follow through with orders, giving and allowing no other alternative. Why? Because Anna had wanted to be something other than a mindless, unfeeling soldier? Because she’d had doubts and wanted to taste what it was like to be human?
Something in Castiel’s wide and unfaltering blue gaze told Dean that there was more to it than that. Castiel had spoken of his own doubts and Dean wouldn’t forget the look of empathy and sympathy on the angels face just after he had witnessed his mother’s deal. Dean had felt Castiel’s emotions right before he had been ripped back to the present, yet Anna had talked about angels as if they were emotionless robots. He wanted to ask what the truth was, why they had really wanted her dead, but before he could open his mouth to voice his questions they were gone, a wind blowing through the barn that made Dean gasp as his eyes caught up to the fact that they had vanished.
He tipped his head back for a moment, taking a moment to collect himself. It was over for now and their plan had worked - Sam’s plan had worked. If someone had told him four years ago, when he had first collected Sam from Stanford that he would have been witness to a showdown between Angels and Demons he would have never believed it. Reality was overrated.
He looked down at the knife still in his hand and then off to the side, checking their immediate area before turning back at hearing his brother’s voice.
“Are you okay?”
Ruby approached slowly, holding herself carefully as if still in pain. She stopped in front of them and took a breath before her eyes raised and looked at Sam. “Not so much.”
The demon looked in bad shape but it was nothing that she wouldn’t recover from. It grated on Dean’s nerves every time he had reason to thank her. Working with her even now after all the help she had been - it still felt wrong. Maybe it was the fact that she was a little too helpful for a demon that was still rubbing him the wrong way. But if Angel’s could fall then did that mean that maybe demons could be redeemed? The thought went against everything he had been brought up to believe and everything he had experienced. What did that mean for him after his time in the pit? Dean didn’t want to think about it.
“What took you so long to get here?” Dean asked, true suspicion or keeping up the act of dislike? Dean wasn’t sure. He was still confused on the Ruby situation and even more so now that Sam had given him the full, unedited, uncensored version of events while he had been down under.
Ruby looked up from where she had been studying the ground, incredulous expression marring her features. “Sorry I’m late with the demon delivery. I was only being tortured.”
The breathless way in which she spoke made it obvious she had been worked over pretty well. Dean stared at her, eyes unchanging but he nodded slightly, acknowledging what she had been through to put their plan into action without coming out with the whole hallmark thank you. He had tried that already once and it had been painful and it wasn’t happening again.
“I gotta hand it to you, Sammy, bringing them all together, all at once?” Dean turned and gave Sam his attention now as Sam almost shrugged in reply. “Angels and demons?” He smiled a relieved and proud smile as he looked away and at their surroundings. “It’s a damn good plan.”
A deep laughter stopped short anything any of them were about to say. Ruby and Sam’s eyes widened just as Dean whipped around to look behind him. Uriel stood; arms at his side while a satisfied, almost triumphant, smile graced his black host’s features.
“What’re you laughing at and what the hell are you doing back here?” Dean asked, hairs on the back of his neck standing on end at the malicious look that wasn’t uncommon on the angels face, yet still unnerving.
Uriel shook his head, his laugh coming to a rumbling end in his chest before he looked up and met the three stares. “I did try to warn him. Dumb mud monkey’s can not be trusted.”
Dean bristled but changed his stance so that he was standing in front of Sam and Ruby. “You come all the way back here to insult us? I gotta say that’s kinda sad, dude.”
“Especially ones that choose to willingly work with such scum as that whore behind you.” Uriel remained standing stock still, making Dean nervous on what the hell the angel wanted.
“Castiel?” Uriel asked, eyebrows rising in mocking condensation. “You are as bad as your brother, Sam. Castiel is not here because he doesn’t have what it takes to do the right thing.”
“And just what do you consider the right thing? Because I gotta tell you that the line has been pretty fucking blurred with you guys lately.” Dean replied, taking a step forward, not having to look to see that Sam wasn’t at all comfortable with him doing so. “I mean what does it mean when I find myself choosing to work with a demon over angels?”
Uriel laughed again and the sound of it was really starting to piss Dean off.
“Choosing to work with demons is something you do quite easily, Dean. You and I both know that.” Uriel winked.
Dean froze. A pain stabbing guilt crushing him as his time in hell was thrown in his face, in front of Sam no less. “Fuck you!” Dean spat through gritted teeth, his hand flexing around the knife handle even though he knew the weapon would have no affect on the angel.
“Leave it, Sam.”
“You still haven’t asked him yet, Sam?” Uriel asked, pretend disappointment in his voice as he looked from Sam and then back to Dean, a sneer forming. “Or Dean’s still hiding all the juicy details.”
“Did you come back for a reason?” Dean asked, jaw working in anger, wondering what it was Anna had supposedly done to get a price on her head if God kept angels like Uriel around.
Uriel smiled, his gaze resting on Sam, then to Ruby and then finally on Dean again. Dean felt nervous as Uriel’s eyes changed from amused to serious but he didn’t have time to contemplate the meaning. He blinked and Uriel was no longer standing there and he was lifted off his feet and slammed into his brother as a gust of wind blew into them.
Dean landed half sprawled on Sam and half on the ground his head connected with a broken tractor wheel making him see stars, momentarily stunning him. His body jumped instinctively as he heard a woman’s cry and his brother’s shout. Sam hastily moved out from under him as Dean was still getting his bearings.
“No!” Sam’s scream tore at him enough to sit up, his hand going to his head as he pushed himself up into a kneeling position. Bloody rivulets poured from a cut on his hairline, making Dean dizzy. He looked up just in time to see a bright light emanate from Ruby’s eyes and mouth as she silently screamed in Uriel’s grip.
Sam rushed Uriel, crashing into the angel just as the light faded and Ruby’s stolen body became lifeless. The momentum of Sam’s collision pushed the angel to the ground, his grip on the corpse he now had in his hands was lost and Ruby fell to the ground motionless, no longer drawing breath.
Sam got in one punch as Dean got to his feet, swaying dangerously, before Uriel blocked his next attempt and returned Sam’s blow with his own, snapping the boy’s head to the side with the sickening snap of flesh against flesh. Dean picked up the knife and stumbled unsteadily to the pair, just in time to witness up-close another hit from Uriel’s meaty fist as it connected with his brother’s jaw. Sam fell to the side, puddling in a heap and Dean felt anger, the same fiery deep seated anger that always took over him when his brother was injured or threatened. This bastard had already threatened Sam once and Dean was not going to stand for it again, angel or not. If this was what angels were all about then they could go fuck themselves.
Dean flew at Uriel just as the big black man rose to a sitting position and plunged the knife into his chest and twisted. When nothing happened, just like when he had first stabbed Castiel with it, Dean stood back and followed his attack up with a round house kick that would have knocked any normal man unconscious. All it did to Uriel was to incense him more.
The angel was up in a flash and Dean took another step back as Uriel advanced.
“You Winchesters,” Uriel growled; a satisfied smirk on his face. “You should have been dealt with a long time ago. What you did in hell? You don’t deserve redemption Dean. You’ve always been a sinner and hell didn’t do you favours.” Uriel took a step closer, wind whipped around them at the same time that thunder clapped in the sky above from out of nowhere. Dean blinked and stared in awe as he got a quick glimpse at the angel’s large black wings. “And don’t even get me started on your brother.”
“Leave Sammy out of this, you son of a bitch,” Dean responded loudly, blood running into his eyes. He brought a hand up and wiped it away. Damn head wounds. They always bled like a fucking fountain.
“Poor innocent little Sammy Winchester?” Uriel laughed and it made Dean want to attack but he stayed on his feet, standing still, breathing heavily as the enormity of the situation started to hit him. He was facing off with an angel. If an angel killed him would that mean an automatic ticket back downstairs? The thought lit a fear in Dean’s gut. “The boy with the demon blood? The boy whose been literally sleeping with the enemy? Who continues to use demonic powers despite our orders? Despite God’s orders?”
“And is this part of God’s orders?” Dean asked, turning to keep his eye on Uriel who had began to circle him. “If this is the kind of work God does? Then you can have him. I want nothing to do with the gutless bastard.” Anna’s story of what it was like working for the big man ran through his head, combining with Uriel’s sudden attack. From where Dean was standing right now? Dean wasn’t sure what he believed anymore.
Uriel’s eyes flashed with anger at Dean’s words before the look of satisfaction and enjoyment returned with a vengeance. “It’s your lack of faith that gets you in trouble, Dean.”
“Alastair was right about one thing. You are a sanctimonious fanatical prick.”
Dean had barely registered the move when a gust of wind came straight for him; a hard fist slamming into his midsection doubled him over. He gasped in pain as he felt something break, two ribs snapping just like that. Dean tried to breathe but the ability was taken from him suddenly as thick fingers wrapped around his throat and lifted. Dean brought his hands up to pull against the angel’s wrist as his feet left the ground. The pain in his ribs was now accompanied by the restricted feeling of having his airway blocked. His legs kicked out, his survival instincts setting in as no oxygen could pass. Dean gasped, his lungs fighting for air that wasn’t getting through.
“I’m sending you back under, Dean.” Uriel tightened his hold on Dean’s throat, shaking him a little causing Dean’s body to flop around like a rag doll. “And this time your brother is joining you down there … right where he belongs.”
Dean couldn’t have responded if he had wanted to. His lungs were burning with need and suddenly his world was consumed with trying to get that next breath. Chest heaving, Dean panicked as dark spots started to crowd his vision, the fight leaving his body as Uriel’s hand tightened further, attempting to crush his throat. His mind didn’t register the new gust of wind; it didn’t register Uriel spinning around, while still holding him in the air. His only thoughts were of the much needed oxygen … and Sam.
“What are you doing, Uriel?”
Sam opened his eyes, blinking a few times to bring them into focus. He waited for his head to stop spinning before spitting dirt and blood out of his mouth, the taste mixing together was something he was a little too familiar with. Fire ran up his jaw and into his cheek bone as he attempted to move it, feeling a little like he had been hit by a truck … at full speed.
“What you should have done a long time ago, Castiel. You’re too soft.”
Cas? Sam blinked again and then shook his head. Pain sliced through his brain and Sam winced, clenching his jaw and then regretting that action almost as immediately as he did the shaking of his head. Castiel was here? Where the hell was Dean?
Sam’s head rose, his vision doubled, images sliding in and out of each other until they formed one whole picture in his mind. The barn doors. No Dean … and no angels. Sam turned carefully, every part of his body sore, and came into view of Ruby’s pale lifeless body, slumped on the ground against one of the support beams. A pang of loss shot through him at the sight. She hadn't been exorcised … Uriel had killed her.
“Let Dean go …Now!”
The tone in Castiel’s voice brokered no argument and had Sam finally looking in the right direction and his heart almost jumped into his throat at the sight he was greeted with. Dean hung in the air, his neck tightly clutched in one of Uriel’s big hands. His body was twitching, his hands clinging and pulling desperately to Uriel’s wrist.
Sam pushed his blinding headache to the side and got to his hands and knees, his eyes on the latest showdown in front of him, Dean’s life literally in the balance.
“This is not our orders.”
“No … but they should be. Dean Winchester can be replaced and Sam? He should have been taken out a long time ago. I am doing what is right.” Uriel shook Dean for emphasis
“That is not for you to decide, Uriel!” Castiel thundered, almost making Sam stumble as he made it to his feet. He had never heard the angel raise his voice before. Even when he had approached Alastair he had spoken softly yet strongly. Castiel had never seemed to need to raise his voice to show his power and strength. It emanated from him as did his compassion. It was what kept Sam’s faith in angels.
Dean’s hands dropped and Sam’s stomach dropped with them. His brother’s body going limp in the large angels grasp was enough to spur Sam on and he lunged, rushing Uriel much like he had before, only this time without making a sound. He collided with Uriel’s back, catching the angel off guard and sent the three of them crashing to the ground. Sam was stunned in pain, eyes clenched tightly shut for a moment as the fall caused his head to be pound out a horribly loud beat that kept echoing and in his skull.
An enraged roar erupted and a hand latched onto Sam’s jacket before it suddenly disappeared. Sam opened his eyes wearily to catch the tail end of Uriel being hauled up and off him by Castiel.
Sam watched in wonder as the two angels squared off against each other. It was almost an even more unbelievable sight than organising an angel and demon shootout. There was one thing was missing.
Sam turned around frantically from his spot on the floor looking for his brother who had been eerily silent. He found him a few feet away, still lying where he had dropped. With one more glance at the two angels, Sam scrambled over to Dean’s side and got his first good look at him. Blood covered the right side of his face from a nasty cut and his throat was an ugly red colour and swollen. Sam leant forward, placing his ear to Dean’s slightly ajar mouth and waited with baited breath for Dean to take his own. There was nothing. Sam jumped back and looked into his brother’s face, a mantra of No, no, no playing in his head like a broken record.
Sam took his shaking hands and lifted Dean’s head back, trying to clear Dean’s airway as much as he could and then pinched his nose and lowered his mouth to Dean’s giving two quick blows and trying to ignore the white hot pain lancing up his jaw as he did so. He stopped and listened for what he wanted to hear. He couldn’t lose Dean now … not after everything. He gently felt Dean’s rapidly bruising neck, hoping that he wouldn’t find it crushed.
Once he was confident that his brother’s throat wasn’t caving in on him, only badly bruised, Sam repeated his earlier life saving efforts. His heart was beating wildly in his chest as again nothing happened. Just as he was about to try for a third time, Dean’s body arched and he coughed; followed by a raspy shaky breath. Sam sagged in relief, resting his head on Dean’s chest as the angels conversation filtered through now that Dean was breathing.
“You’re coming back with me, Uriel. You must pay for what you have done here.”
“Why? Why should I have to pay for you being weak?”
Sam turned quickly to glance at the angels, glad that their focus was on each other. Castiel’s shoulders were sagged as if a great weight had been placed upon them. He looked sad. He looked like he had been slapped in the face, betrayed.
Sam sat back, moving along the ground until his back hit one of the strong wooden beams, dragging Dean with him until his back was against his chest. He cradled his brother in his arms as Dean fought to get every breath past his damaged throat. Dean groaned and Sam held on tighter, needing him to know that he was there and that he was going to be alright as he watched the angel confrontation happening before them.
“You went against our father’s orders, Uriel. You have been in the field too long.” Castiel told him, standing there like he always did, strangely calm despite the underlying pain at what he had caught his brother doing. “You enjoy this too much.”
“And you allow these pathetic vermin to sway you, Castiel. It was time to get the job done properly.” Uriel held his arms out and then swung around pointing a finger in Sam and Dean’s direction. “And now I’m going to finish what I started.”
He started towards them and Sam tensed up, holding Dean closer to him and tried to back up instinctually only to be stopped by the beam behind him.
“Don’t …” Sam warned uselessly.
“Or what, boy?” Uriel asked as he strode forward, damage intended in every step.
The hand on Uriel’s shoulder caused the angel’s eyebrows to rise in surprise just before he was yanked back and spun around. Castiel’s eyes were hard now, determination radiating from him.
“You will not touch them.”
Uriel didn’t bother answering with words. He struck out with his hosts fist, catching Castiel in the temple, the blow knocking him back but not even really stunning him. Castiel caught Uriel’s next fist and finally retaliated, hauling back and slamming his open palm up and into Uriel’s nose.
The next few moments Sam looked on in awe as the angels attacked each other, Uriel aiming to beat and hurt and Castiel defending himself and them. The power behind both attacks was astounding. It was quick and precise, battle weary soldiers beating on each other hard and fast to defend what they believed was right.
Uriel’s attack was vicious, surging forward with a strength that Sam had only had partial contact with and even it had left him with an aching jaw and a concussion … yes definitely a concussion.
Castiel blocked and attacked, his fast movements almost a blur to Sam’s already skewed vision and he jumped when one of the bigger angels blows hit its mark, sending Castiel, hurtling backwards into another one of the lofts beams, the force of the hit cracking under the strain. Uriel didn’t waste the moment, grabbing Castiel by the lapels of his trench coat and slamming him back into the pole once more.
Loud cracking overhead made Sam flinch and look up at the loft. The wooden platform was straining as another one of its support beams was broken down. They needed to move or it wouldn’t matter who won this battle.
Sam gripped Dean by his shoulders and pushed him forward, hating the low moan it caused but at the same time Sam was relieved to hear it because Dean had been way too silent. Dean never did silent if he was okay.
“Sorry … I’m sorry, man. I’ve got you.” Sam moved out from under his brother and then wrapped his arms under Dean’s arms, joining his fingers together against the older hunter’s chest. Blood thundered in his head to the beat of his pounding heart.
Sam manoeuvred backwards, almost tripping over his own feet in his haste, Dean’s legs leaving drag marks on the dirt floor. Sam breathed heavily in exertion as he settled Dean against a stack of hay, hidden behind more farming equipment.
A loud ominous creaking sound had Sam moving forward, looking around their shield of equipment to where the angels were brawling on the other side of the barn. They crashed into the wall as the loft groaned dangerously above them in warning before the beams snapped and the second level of the barn came crashing down. It all seemed to happen in slow motion or maybe it was just his mind taking too long to catch up to what it was seeing.
Sam’s eyes widened as the inevitable happened and the now unstable loft floor crashed down on top of the waring angels in a blast of wood, splinters and dust The beginning of a bright white light burning small, expanding out in blinding rays that had Sam’s heart flutter in panic and dive for cover behind the farm equipment, making sure to shield his brother with his own body.
The rumble tore through the barn, shaking through the ground and for a moment Sam hoped that the whole barn wasn’t going to come down on top of them. Despite covering his eyes against the light, Sam felt a surreal feeling come over him as a blast of light exploded with the last of the falling floorboards crashing to the ground, lighting up the space to the point that Sam could feel it against his eyelids … and as suddenly as it had happened there was deadly silence.
Sam dared to breathe but was almost afraid to open his eyes. Dust particles floated heavy around him in the air, causing Sam to cough, involuntarily opening his eyes. He cautiously looked around and saw what his hearing had told him – everything was now calm.
A stilted moan from underneath him grabbed Sam’s attention and his head whipped back down and he backed off Dean carefully, his whole body aching and sore, his cheek and jaw throbbing.
Dean’s eyes fluttered open for a few moments, blood sticking to the lashes of one eye making it more of a chore. Sam placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Easy, Dean.”
“ …appn’d” Dean croaked, his voice broken and strained. He clenched his eyes tightly shut when swallowing seemed to cause more harm than good.
Sam twisted in his crouched position to look in the direction of where he had seen the angels last. The second floor to the barn had broken apart and fallen in on top of them but what happened to Uriel and Castiel? There had been a bright light. That had to have meant that they had gotten out didn’t it? Sam found it hard to believe that anything simple as having a barn fall on them could kill an angel. He turned back to Dean with confusion flaring in his eyes. “I … I’m not really sure.” And he really wasn’t.
The beer slid down his still tender throat, a sensation he welcomed. It served as a distraction against the thoughts ravaging his mind. It was all out in the open now … the important bits anyway. Sam knew. Sam knew.
Dean took another swig from his beer; ignoring the slight tremble in his hand as he winced as more of the liquid seemed to scrape down his throat. He could almost still feel Uriel’s hand squeezing his throat closed every time he tried to fight back the tears. The large lump that seemed to have formed permanently burned every time he swallowed back the shame, guilt and grief he felt.
He couldn’t be around Sam right now. Sam had tried to absolve him of his guilt but his brother hadn't been there, he hadn't seen and felt what it was like and Dean didn’t want to hear Sam say ‘it wasn’t your fault’ because he was too afraid to look into his brothers eyes and see the truth. He was barely dealing with everyday on the outside but now that Sam knew what he had done, what he had chosen to do, Dean wouldn’t have been able to bear to see the disappointment in the kids eyes. It was what had brought him out by the local lake in the middle of the night.
His rear felt damp and almost numb from sitting on the cool grassy bank. Numb. Sure, his ass could feel numb but nothing Dean tried could numb his heart, nothing he tried could stop him from feeling.
Arms resting on his raised knees, Dean let the bottle hang from his two finger grip as he stared out at the moonlit water, shimmering in front of him. Wetness filled his green eyes, shadowed by dark lashes but his eyes remained fixed on the water instead, unmoving, unblinking for the longest time until the dry air caressing them became too much and he blinked out of reflex. A single tear escaped and travelled down his cheek.
It had been two days since the big show down, two days since he had broken and handed Anna over to the angels, two days since he had witnessed a battle between good and evil in the purest sense … or what people would have perceived as good and evil. Dean wasn’t so sure anymore. It had been two days since Ruby had been killed for good and Dean knew that Sam felt that loss, something of which Dean still didn’t know what to make of. He had spent a lot of timing hating the demon but even he had to admit that it was weird to think that she wasn’t going to find her way back to be a pain in his ass.
But that was exactly what made him so angry. There wasn’t supposed to be so much grey area when it came to this. There was supposed to be good and evil, Demons and Angels and God and The Devil. It was supposed to be clear cut. If anything was supposed to be black and white it should have been that. Anna’s speech had made him question the view he’d started to gain since Castiel had ripped him from Hell and Uriel’s show had been like burying the hatchet. Now Dean was just confused and torn … and felt like telling everyone to get fucked.
Dean blew out a shaky breath and then lifted the mostly empty bottle to his lips and skulled the rest in one gulp, his eyes watering this time due to the pain that flared in his throat. He coughed and wiped a hand over his mouth before palming it down his face.
He needed to head back to the motel eventually. It wasn’t fair to lump a bombshell like he had on Sam just that afternoon and then just disappear all night but he had needed to have space. He had needed a moment to breathe and try to shove everything back into the little corner of his mind that usually kept all the horrors locked away until he tried to sleep. But now that the lock had been broken Dean was finding it damn hard to fix it.
Dean jumped, his heart thudding wildly after its failed attempt to jump out of his chest. The sight of Castiel seated beside him, staring out into the lake was both a comfort and annoying … and again Dean was left with confusion.
Dean glared once before turning to his other side and taking another beer from the half drunken six-pack. “Thanks for that announcement, Mr. Wolf.” He twisted the lid off and shoved it in his jacket pocket. He swallowed and winced before speaking again. “What are you doin’ here anyway? Somehow I don’t think it’s for the beer and oh so scintillating conversation.”
“Sam is worried about you.”
Dean rolled his eyes and then looked sidelong at the angel. “Yeah well join the club, Mr. Obvious because he was worried about you too. Funny that, huh? The boy with the demon blood worried about an angel. Who’d have thunk it?”
“Dean.” Castiel sighed and slowly turned to let his blue gaze rest on Dean.
“What happened?” Dean asked before Castiel could get another word in. “Sam mentioned a full out angel slugfest … sorry I missed it. I was busy at the time being unconscious and all.”
“That was unfortunate.”
Dean did laugh at that because Castiel had sounded generally sorry despite his choice of words. “Unfortunate?” Dean raised an eyebrow and turned to look at the angel, keeping his eyes on him for more than a few fleeting seconds this time. “Tell me, Cas, where is this free will I keep hearing about? Or is that fabricated along with your fluffy white wings and halo?”
“My father gave us all free will, Dean.”
“Really?” Dean turned, lowering one knee to the ground so that his body was balanced and facing Castiel, right elbow still resting on his one bent knee. “Because from where I’m sitting it seems more like it’s his way or the highway. Is that it? Sam and I don’t do what we’re told to the letter and we’re taken out? Uriel made it pretty clear.”
Castiel looked down at his hands, his face looking impossibly sadder than it had before. Hadn't Anna said that angel’s couldn’t feel? When Castiel did speak it was softly and his eyes were back on Dean, burning straight through to him, captivating him. “Dean, let me ask you something.”
Dean remained silent and waited for Castiel to continue. He desperately wanted Castiel to give him the answers he wanted to hear. He had spent so much of his life hating the idea of God, wondering why if there was such a caring higher power then why had it allowed his family to be ripped to shreds. Castiel saving him from hell, proving to him that angels did exist had started to instil something in him, faith that maybe he could afford to believe in something good instead of the random evil that seemed to follow him everywhere. After everything he found that he didn’t want to loose that idea, he wanted to believe that someone was watching out for them … or at least on their side.
Castiel looked thoughtful, pursing his lips before his eyes rose once more, pinning Dean with the blue stare. “Since raising you from perdition have I not always allowed you to work in your own way?”
Dean opened his mouth to reply and then paused, snapping his mouth shut as his mind raced through all his dealings with the angel. Memories flashed through his mind. Castiel had been there after they had dealt with the witnesses, not to tell him what to do but to warn him of the seriousness of the situation. Castiel had sent him to the past and had warned him against changing his parents past but had not stopped him from trying, Castiel had come to him and warned him about Sam and had given Dean the chance to deal with it. Castiel had turned up during Halloween to warn them about the witch and despite Uriel’s desire to destroy the whole town; Castiel had allowed Sam and him to deal with it first. Of course that had been a test and Dean had unknowingly been in charge but the fact remained that every memory Dean had of the angel he had always been given a fair choice.
Dean sighed and lowered his head before leaning it back to look up at the stars glittering in the sky. “What’s your point?”
“I have given you no reason to doubt mine or my father’s motives, yet you immediately took Anna’s version to heart. Why?”
“I …” Dean paused, cocked his head to the side as he tried to come up with a satisfied answer. He levelled his gaze at Castiel who had apparently not looked away, the angel’s intense stare making him feel self conscious. “She was … is an angel.”
Castiel nodded. “One that had broken some of our most sacred laws.”
“What did she do that was so damn bad?” It had been bugging Dean since the whole mess started. If Castiel had been so damn adamant that she had to be killed then it had to be something more than just thinking for herself didn’t it? That was what the angel was trying to tell him.
“Dean, do you trust me?”
Dean was stunned into silence once more. He had not expected that question. Did he trust him? It was not a word that Dean threw around lightly. There were few people that Dean trusted explicitly; most of those people were now dead with the exception of Sam and Bobby. Dean frowned but found himself nodding, the answer suddenly seeming to come easy. “Yeah … I think I do.” Castiel had already pointed out that he had given no reason to be doubted and the answer was simple.
“Then trust me when I say our mission with Anna was just. That is all you need to know.”
A smile tugged at Dean’s lips and he shook his head as he chuckled.
Castiel’s eyes now held confusion, looking at Dean like he was still trying to work him out and for all Dean knew he probably was. Dean Winchester, the enigma … it had a nice ring to it. “What is it?” Castiel asked when Dean still looked amused.
Dean shook his head, waving the bottle in a never mind gesture. “Oh it’s nothin’ … I’m just used to the whole need to know crap.” It was actually kind of calming in a weird sort of way. He had grown up with his father’s need to know philosophy. His Dad had always been a hero; almost had a god like status in his eyes … apparently John Winchester and God followed the same rule book. He didn’t always like it but it right now – and maybe it was because of the beer and lack of sleep – Dean found it comforting … and a little amusing and a much better comparison than he had given Anna a few nights earlier. This comparison made him smile rather than ache because it was obvious that Castiel felt loved and deep down Dean knew that John had loved both him and Sam too.
Castiel went back to his former position, elbows on his bent knees and looking out to the lake. And Dean wasn’t sure but it felt like an understanding had crossed between them. They remained silent for a few long moments before Dean asked a question he needed to know. “What happened to Uriel?” He needed to know if the angel was still a threat to Sam because angel or not he wasn’t getting his hands on his little brother.
Castiel sighed and actually sounded tired and weary. “Uriel … Uriel has crossed a line that should never be crossed. He was treated accordingly.”
“What does that mean?”
“He is no longer a concern, Dean. I promise you that. If I had of known …”
“I trust you.” Dean interrupted. He didn’t know why but he did even if it had been shaken.
“Dean!” Sam’s voice had Dean jumping again, almost spilling precious beer on his jeans. He jerked around and to look behind him and found Sam approaching. “What the hell are you doing out here?” Sam asked, pure relief in his voice.
Dean turned back around to where Castiel had been sitting, finding that the angel was nowhere in sight. Typical, Dean thought. Forces me to think and have a heart to heart and then disappears. It must be nice to have that ability to zip in and out whenever you wanted.
He felt Sam’s approach without looking again and could tell the kid had slowed down now that he was closer. Sam was being cautious. “Hey Sammy.”
“Are … are you okay?”
Dean rolled his eyes. It was a stupid question but the sentiment behind it was appreciated. He wasn’t ready for absolution but with Sam coming out to look for him he felt that maybe not all was lost. Sam had still come looking even after what he had learnt earlier that afternoon.
Dean patted the grass beside him that was already flattened by its previous angelic occupant. He took a beer out of the six-pack box and handed it to Sam wordlessly. Sam took the offered Beveridge and sat down beside him. “Dean?”
Dean took a long drink from his beer and then glanced to his side giving Sam a tame version of his lopsided grin. Telling Sam hadn't fixed things and he knew it wouldn’t and his chat with Castiel hadn't fixed him either but it had given him focus. He didn’t know if he deserved the faith both Sam and Castiel had in him but he had faith in them and somehow he felt a little less alone … and that was better than nothing. “I think we’ll be okay, Sammy.” It was a start.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.