Stop Signs
K Hanna Korossy

"That's why I'm asking you, Father. One last time. Am I doing the right thing?"

For all the ease with which he'd passed into Hell this second time, Castiel had barely been able to stand being there. And not just because of his companion.

"Cas, you love God, God loves you." A demon should have trembled at His name, but Crowley did not. "He brought you back. Did it occur to you that maybe he did this so you could be the new sheriff upstairs?"

Despite himself, Castiel had lingered, listened, unable to find fault with Hell's logic.

"You can save us, Castiel. God chose you to save us," the King of the Damned purported—supported—what he insisted was God's will.

Castiel tried not to think of a serpent in an apple tree.

"Am I on the right path? You have to tell me."

Dean had looked at him with such disbelief and hurt. Betrayal. The same way Castiel remembered Dean looking at his brother when Sam had chosen the abomination Ruby's side.

"Just because you can do what you want doesn't mean that you get to do whatever you want!"

It had seemed hypocritical, laughable, that this human who had helped avert the ages-old plan for mankind would lecture Castiel against doing what he thought right.

And yet…

The lines of Dean's face had softened. "Look, next to Sam, you and Bobby are the closest things that I have to family…you are like a brother to me. So if I'm asking you not to do something…you got to trust me, man."

Even his own brothers did not claim him as family anymore. The pull to give in, to listen to this human who'd been so loyal to him, was powerful. Yet he'd resisted, seen Dean's face fall, grow hard again.

"I'm sorry, too, then."

Angels did not have souls as humans did, but the rupture still pained him greatly.

"You have to give me…a sign."

Rachel had been one of Castiel's most loyal soldiers, yet she'd been willing to kill him to stop him. Had given her life for the same.

Atropos had never had loyalty to Castiel, but her argument had been strikingly similar to Rachel's.

"Give me a sign."

Death itself had spoken out against Castiel's intentions.

But it had been Balthazar—amoral, pragmatic old friend—whose opposition had caused Castiel the most doubt.

That, and the "two boys and old drunk" who'd once helped him save the world.

"Because if you don't…I'm gonna ju— I'm gonna do whatever I… Whatever I must."

He waited.

But there was no voice, no flood of peaceful certainty. No revelation. Even the wind had stilled.

Castiel's head dropped, his burden pressing down on him. Then he squared his shoulders and stood, rounding the bench and walking away, toward the destiny he'd chosen for himself.

Crushing the tropical flowers underfoot that lay beneath the July snow.

The End