A/N: This story is set in Season 5 sometime after "99 Problems" but with the idea that Dean didn't go off to say yes to Michael at the end of that ep. So essentially, Cas has given up on his search for God and is now hunting with the Winchesters. There's also very very vaguely some events in this story that happen in "Point of No Return" making this technically AU I guess, but I was really just trying to find a place to fit it into the story line :P It's really more of a standalone. Anyway, hope you enjoy!


A Supernatural Fanfic

Chapter One

Arundel staggered through the woods. He was free! He couldn't believe he was actually free, but even in his injured state, he was able to overpower the man who had tried to dispose of him. He had no time, he needed to warn the others—Lauriel, she would be next, he needed to find some way to contact her without the others finding out…

"There you are!"

Arundel stopped short, panting, wishing he wasn't so weak, as he faced the man he thought he had escaped from.

"No, please," he tried, backing up, hands held out in front of him, all but defenseless, not even his grace in working order.

"You're done. Don't bother running anymore; it's just prolonging the inevitable," the man snarled, and something flashed in his hand.

Arundel staggered back against a tree, his wounds smarting, as he saw the angel blade. "No, don't!"

The man grabbed his throat and snarled. "Too late, brother." He slammed the blade into Arundel's chest and the angel screamed before his body slumped to the ground.

The man wiped his blade clean on the leaves, and reached down to unlock the collar from around the angel's neck.

Another traitor dead. One closer to his own redemption.

"You know, I really wish the fuglies could just take some time off while we have the Apocalypse to sort out. A little common courtesy wouldn't go amiss," Dean grumbled as they trudged through the graveyard with shovels and the equipment for a salt and burn.

"Kind of wishful thinking," Sam commented as he slung his bag down and looked at the gravestone. "Randall Evens."

"Yeah, that's the son of a bitch," Dean said with a sigh and turned to Castiel, handing him his shotgun. "Keep watch, Cas."

The angel took the shotgun, looking a little less wary and disdainful of it now that he had been hunting with them for a while. "It's only to be expected that the coming apocalypse would make the rest of the supernatural world more restless."

"Yeah, well, still," Dean grunted as he grabbed the shovel Sam tossed him.

The Winchester brothers started digging vigorously. This case had really put them through the wringer, there had been a rash of deaths at a local hotel, all creepy and unexplained. Each person had been found strangled with their sheets by the maid service, one every day for an entire week. Turned out the place was haunted by the ghost of a serial killer who was reaching the ten-year anniversary of his death—Randall Evens. According to reports, he fell out a window and died when one of his original victims had fought back. It turns out that he wasn't happy about having hunters on his trail either, because Sam had almost gotten ganked in his sleep, and it was only because of Dean's insomnia that he had been able to hack the bed sheets to ribbons and save his younger brother from the same fate. Of course not before Ted Casper Bundy had left Dean with a concussion and badly bruised shoulder. The bastard had gotten in through the air vents too so their salt lines had been useless.

Needless to say, Dean was really happy to be sending him to hell where he belonged.

"I'm not even going to tease you about your weird obsession with serial killers this time, Sammy, since it helped solve this case for once."

"Dude, it's not an obsession," Sam groaned as he flung a shovel full of dirt behind him. "True crime is an interesting topic, as is criminal psychology. In a way, it's not much different than what we do. Different types of serial killers follow certain patterns, just like werewolves or ghouls or whatever."

"Yeah, and yet you still watch Criminal Minds marathons whenever you get the chance," Dean snorted. He paused in the digging, his head and shoulder still aching dully.

"Dean, perhaps you should keep watch, it must be hard to dig with your injuries," Cas said, noticing him flagging.

"I'm good," he started to say when he caught sight of something flickering behind Sam and shouted. "Sam, down!"

Sam ducked and Cas spun to shoot the spirit in the chest with rock salt. Dean quickly traded the shovel for the shotgun and Cas got to work with Sam.

"Can't you just mojo it?" Dean asked the angel, as he glanced around the graveyard, waiting for Randall's ghost to reappear.

"I might if I had more power," Cas grunted. "As it is I think my inhuman endurance would be more helpful."

"Well, keep at it then."

"Dean, behind you!" Sam shouted.

Dean spun but before he could get a shot off, Randall's ghost had grabbed his shotgun and flung Dean several feet. He landed with a thump, all his breath leaving him, and just barely missed a gravestone that would have given him more than just a concussion.

Randall's ghost came over to him, a sneer on his face, hands outstretched to grab Dean again, but there was a shotgun report and he disappeared revealing Cas behind him. The angel reached down to help Dean up and put the shotgun back into his hands.

"Perhaps I should keep watch, after all," the angel said with a surprising bit of dry humor.

"No, you go use your inhuman endurance, Cas, I got this," Dean huffed. Freaking ghost.

Sam and Cas managed to get to the coffin without any other mishaps. But Randall was getting angrier every time Dean blew him away and this time, when he reappeared, he had a length of rope with him, grabbing Dean from behind and forcing the rope around his neck.

"Guys!" Dean gasped out, staggering to his knees as black spots started to burst over his vision. He had never understood how ghosts could be so strong.

Cas smashed open the coffin and Sam hurriedly poured salt and gasoline over the bones. Dean clawed at the rope as Sam lit a book of matches and threw them into the grave.

A burst of flame and an angry scream and Dean was suddenly able to breathe again, slumping onto his hands and knees and gasping for breath.

Sam was at his side, hand on his shoulder. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Dean gasped out. "Peachy."

Sam helped him to his feet and the three of them watched Randall Evans' bones burn then filled the grave back in once they were satisfied they had done their job.

"Well, at least we'll be able to get a good night's sleep without worrying about being strangled in our beds," Dean muttered as he rubbed his throat ruefully, now with bruises matching Sam's.

"I could do with a good night's sleep," Sam said ruefully then turned to Cas. "You're getting to be a pretty good hunter, Cas."

The angel smiled a bit. "I have learned a lot from you two and Bobby. I will admit it is rather satisfying to 'get the bad guy' as you say."

Dean snorted but had to agree with Sam. Cas had been a definite asset on hunts of late. Even if he were still a little awkward when they had to question people and work with the authorities, he was always watching their backs once the fight started. It was nice to have another set of hands. Reminded Dean of when he and Sam used to hunt with their dad. Except Cas was a hell of a lot less temperamental and much easier to work with. The angel had been working with them ever since he had given up in his search for God. Cas had seemed to resign himself to sticking with the Winchesters through the whole thing. Team Free Will. Dean figured they were all going to die bloody anyway, so they might as well stick together.

They made it back to the hotel a little after midnight, their room still pretty trashed from the fight the night before, but they were too tired to care. The maids were not going to be happy with them. Dean groaned as he threw his bag onto the floor. "I call first shower."

Sam shot him a bitchface, but his phone rang, distracting him. Dean figured it was Bobby looking for an update, or checking to see if they were still alive, but Sam frowned, obviously not recognizing the number.


Dean grabbed his shower kit and clean clothes and was about to head into the bathroom when Sam ended the call and snapped his phone closed.

"Hold on, Dean, we don't get to rest quite yet," he said grimly.

Dean groaned. "Are you kidding me? What now? Please tell me that Randall Evans isn't back from the dead. Again."

"No, I don't think this is him. The sheriff called and said the forest ranger found a body out in the nature preserve on the edge of town. Sheriff told him not to move it in case it was part of our investigation."

"Body dumped in the woods? That's not Randall," Dean agreed ruefully. "Dude, this isn't our investigation, can't we let the locals deal with it?"

"Sheriff seemed to think it was weird," Sam said. "I think we should check it out. You never know, right?"

Dean threw his clothes back down and groaned. "Fine, let's just get this over with so I can sleep sometime this year." He turned to the angel who had been standing by listening with interest. "You coming, Cas?"

"Of course," the angel said and followed the Winchesters out the door.

Sam drove them to the location the sheriff had given them. It was quite a ways outside the town and deep in the forest off of the highway, even past most of the hiking trails. Dean wondered what the odds were of two supernatural crime sprees going on at the same time in the same place and decided that it was just their luck that they would happen to be there just at the right moment.

Of course, saving people and hunting things was their tag line, so he shouldn't complain too much. Truth be told, he would much rather be out there hunting down evil SOBs than trying to escape his destiny and the coming apocalypse.

Red and blue flashing lights heralded the approaching crime scene, and Sam pulled the Impala off the side of the dirt forest road and the three of them got out, glad that the darkness would hide their disheveled appearance.

The sheriff, a tall, fatherly sort of man with greying hair, was waiting for them and nodded grimly as they came up.

"Agents, thought you might like to see this one untouched in case it has any bearing on your serial murders."

"Thanks," Sam said, taking a flashlight out of his pocket and leading the way with the sheriff further into the trees and under the crime scene tape.

Dean saw the body instantly, and his first thought was that there wasn't enough gore for the kind of monster attack that usually went down in the forest. No claw marks or anything like that.

"It was the eyes that I thought were strange," the sheriff said. "Almost looks like they got burned out. Thought it could be some kind of signature."

Dean looked closer and cursed under his breath. He shared a look with Sam and the younger man turned to the sheriff. "Um, Sheriff, could you give us a minute?"

The man looked like he was going to protest, then set his jaw and stepped back toward the tape. "Alright," he said reluctantly.

"What do you think, Cas?" Sam asked the angel quietly. Cas was already crouching next to the body, performing a cursory examination. "Angel kill?"

"Close," Cas said grimly, pulling aside some dead leaves that had gotten stuck to the wound in the man's chest. Dean thought it was odd that the victim was shirtless, only wearing a pair of dark pants, and there was no sign of discarded clothing anywhere around.

Cas revealed a large, triangle shaped hole in the man's chest.

"Angel blade," Dean recognized instantly. "Crap."

"He was an angel," Cas said, searching around the area as if looking for something that wasn't there. "I knew him, Arundel, he was from my garrison."

"I'm sorry, Cas," Sam said quietly.

"Something's wrong," the angel said, standing up and taking the flashlight from Dean to cast light on the ground around the body.

"Cas, what are you looking for?" Dean asked, glancing over his shoulder to see the sheriff and ranger watching them curiously.

"When angels die their wings burn out, you've seen this, correct?" Cas asked.

"Yeah," Dean said cautiously.

"Well, he is certainly dead, where are they?"

Sam and Dean both looked at the ground around their feet. It was true; there were no wing marks or scorch marks of any kind anywhere.

"Maybe the body was moved," Sam said.

"No, not with this much blood," Cas said and crouched back down next to the body. He stared at the dead angel, then leaned closer, frowning.

"What?" Sam asked, crouching down across from him.

"His neck, something was around it," Cas pointed to some raw marks that circled the angel's neck as if something had been resting there for a while.

"What, like a collar?" Dean asked with a frown. "The hell was your friend into, Cas?"

Cas suddenly took the body by the shoulder and rolled it onto its side to reveal its back. Sam and Dean were on the other side of the body so all they saw was Cas' reaction.

"No," he gasped out, his face going white with horror.

"What is it?" Sam asked as he and Dean hurried around the body to see what Cas was seeing.

Dean wasn't sure what he was seeing at first. It just looked like two long wounds between the body's shoulder blades, scabbed over, with some leaves sticking to them. And then he looked closer and realized that the wounds were slightly raised and the leaves were actually feathers.

"Oh god," Sam whispered, swallowing hard.

"Is that…?" Dean didn't know what else to say.

"Someone cut off his wings," Cas whispered in a strangled voice. He looked green and Dean thought that if he were human he probably would have thrown up. Instead the angel shook himself and stood quickly. "We cannot let them see this." He looked over to the sheriff and ranger who seemed to be getting impatient.

"I'll handle it," Sam said and went over to them. "Sheriff, we're going to need to take jurisdiction with this one. Special circumstances."

"Special circumstances?" the sheriff said. "What the hell does that mean?"

"I'm not at liberty to discuss that; it involves an active case," Sam replied with as much authority as he could muster.

As Sam worked to convince the men, Dean crouched down next to Cas.

"Cas, who could have done this?"

Cas shook his head. "It would not be easy. Only an angel would know how to get another to manifest their wings physically and they'd need an angel blade to…to cut them."

"Are you okay?" Dean asked quietly, seeing his friend's distress, sickened himself.

"Arundel was a friend," Cas told him. "This is…this is a terrible way to die, Dean. It's almost as bad as cutting out an angel's grace. Worse. If an angel loses their grace, then they turn human, like Anna did; that at least is something. But losing one's wings—that is like taking away an angel's essence of being. Like if someone were to carve your soul from your body. You would live, but it would only be half of an existence."

Dean swallowed hard. "But why would an angel do this to another?"

"I don't know," Cas whispered. "But heaven is a mess right now. At best, this could just be an angel gone rogue, at worst…"

"What?" Dean asked, urging him to continue.

Cas exhaled slowly. "At worst, it could be a new form of punishment heaven is doling out or…or it's possible Lucifer himself is behind this, looking for followers and doing…this…if they refuse." He turned to the elder Winchester. "Dean, you have to understand, whoever is doing this is not just doing it to kill angels. Not like Uriel was doing previously. This is purposeful cruelty, this is someone sending a message."

"Well, then we'll find the sick bastard who's responsible," Dean assured him, briefly squeezing the angel's shoulder. "And we'll take him down just like all the others."

Sam rejoined them. "I convinced them to let us handle the transportation of the body, but I don't know how long they'll keep their noses out of it. The sheriff might try to call our 'boss'."

"Well, Bobby's on the phones and he'll handle it," Dean said as he stood up and dusted off his knees. "We've got bigger problems."

Lauriel held her angel blade at the ready, getting more nervous by the second. She had been told to meet Arundel here, but the longer it took him to show, the more she thought that perhaps that hadn't been the case after all. She hadn't seen him in almost two weeks, and only got vague answers to any questions she asked about him of the others. She had figured he was simply on some mission for one of the higher-ups, but perhaps she had been right all along, and something was wrong. Ever since Castiel had been cast out, their whole garrison was under heavy scrutiny. They'd had to be careful, especially since most of them had been in agreement with Castiel and had been secretly hoping he would be able to find God and everything would be sorted out.

But with Lucifer out of the cage and angels turning on each other, their situation was looking bleaker by the day. Lauriel was beginning to think that perhaps she should just get out of there while she still could.

She startled as the sound of a breaking twig cracked behind her. She spun, blade held ready.

"Ah, Lauriel, it's been a while since we talked. Nice night, isn't is?"

She was confused, a man stood there, with no grace emanating from him, and yet, there was something familiar.

"Who are you?" she asked. And then it struck her. The vessel, she knew that vessel, but it was no longer occupied by the soul of the man who was supposed to be in it. "Tobias?"

He smirked and nodded, striding forward. "Correct."

"We thought you were dead," Lauriel said, feeling more uncomfortable the closer he got even though she could sense that she was, somehow, more powerful than he was. "But you're…human?"

He snarled, his face darkening. "Yes, unfortunately. But I'm working on it. Which is why I'm afraid I have to do this."

Lauriel didn't have a chance to react before he lunged toward her, inside the reach of her blade and clamped something around her throat. Lauriel dropped her blade in shock as the cold metal around her neck sent electric waves through her body and she fell to her knees, feeling her grace bound securely.

"Tobias, why are you doing this?" she demanded.

"Because I have to, dear sister," he said and reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a syringe and before she could stop him, he stuck it in her neck.

Lauriel gasped, staggering back to her feet and trying to escape, but she felt the world darkening around her. Her eyes rolled up into her head and she slumped to the ground. The last thing she was aware of was someone lifting her up and then all that was left was blackness.