I'll will straight up apologize for the wait. I know my self how much it sucks [to wait].... but I did finish.
I had it written by the end of Dec, but my computer ate it. I had to start over, which was difficult. And from then on, it was one distraction [important life thing] after another.
Everybody give a big hand to OTS for getting beta'ed copy chapter back to me! All remaining mistakes are the product of my idiocy...
Here it is, the grande finale, remember to leave a review. It feeds the muse.... and ego.......
Chapter the Last: The Colour of Trust is Death
Oblivion overwhelmed him, but he was free.
He lay on the edge of the deep black abyss. The dark swirling shadows wrapped around his core were loosening, relaxing, fading... away into nothing. Each chain that faded from space around him took a piece of his soul, damaged and torn. The diseased pieces of him washed away all of the negative and wholly evil taints that he could feel within himself. The faint wisps of damned power floated lazily around him, until they dissolved, stirred away by his own glory, now hovering above him.
The orb moved slowly, stretching out into his center, invading him. But then the power hit him.
His senses were unbounded: the bright ever-present light, soothing resonance, ambrosia sweetness, unparalleled ecstasy, ubiquitous heavenly scent encompassed his being. He was whole.
His Grace thrummed deeply in his soul. It's presence that wrapped his mind in the divine pleasure robbed him of his rationale. It felt new, vibrant and young. Untried, untested, untrained. His thoughts felt strange. The rapture that held him now... should not be so enticing.
He tried to follow through with his thoughts, but couldn't. He simply lay there on the high ledge, now hanging half off it. He felt part of him swing in the empty air, and was not afraid. The absence of sensation felt soothing. He contemplated jumping off, but waited.
What was the nature of that edge?
His mind and thoughts were entirely blank. He reached into himself, into his Grace, to pull out the strength he should have had. His foray came up with only a small piece of what he had intended, but it was enough to consider the conundrum before him.
He knew know his own nature. What it meant. Though he felt strangely distanced from everything. It felt as though he had the titles of every chapter of his being but no content, or context, to put himself in. The bottomless chasm felt vacant, and as he stared down into it, a new sensation began to race across his nerves.
His mind felt as if it was being drained away, every unit of time that he continued here stole more of his... he felt his Grace throbbing, pulsing rhythmically deep inside of him. Then it stopped.
He felt something flow through him, then that stopped and his Grace started to thrum again with life.
He felt that something bring clarity to him as he started to fade away again. And with that clarity came panic, urgency. Something was wrong. He should not be here. His mind was fading again, fast. He looked down with at the space below and wondered if he should go and fall.
The pulse stopped again.
Consciousness washed threw him. The stillness in his soul made him clench up in a new sensation – agony.
He could hear now too. But even as this new sound echoed around him it was already becoming faint. He had trouble putting names to them, the fading noises. A moan... the sound of air harshly being expelled from... and a word – short, desperate, and uncouth.
He faintly tuned in, trying to comprehend the noises that seemed so out of place from his perch on the end of oblivion. The jubilation and energy he felt in the instant he woke up here were gone, flashing with his Grace. But he could not discover why. There, and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone, there and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone, there, and gone...
But as time stretched, everything faded away again.
He could almost rhythmically predict it now. Stop. The twisting, confused, clenching, erratic feeling inside. The wave of clarity for that one terrifying instant where he could think but he was paralyzed with his Grace still inside him.
"Castiel!" Then his grace started winking in and out, and in and out...
Castiel... The word seemed to fit in him. The title of his book of memories. That was it. He was Castiel.
But the voice, that had not come from within his solitary ward. Had it come from the pit?
A faint noise drew his attention again, the last thing he heard before the Stop. "Come back to us..."
It was so quiet and empathic...
The next thing to invade him was taste. It seemed out of place. But the unsavoury taste in his mouth was unnatural. Why would he taste. One such as he could not taste anything. Two words came to his mind that fit the descriptions he conjured. The sweet, metallic flavour was blood. And the unappealing, almost flavourless tang was plastic.
It sharply bit him.
But he faded away again when it all stopped.
He hung in limbo for a moment or two too long. He felt almost as insubstantial as the chains that broke off of him.
But the breath, the feeling of air flowed through him. And with it came a myriad of new feeling. More than what he thought the sense of touch was. Compared to what he now felt, everything before this was a baseless shadow of reality.
Crippling, cracking pain shot Castiel's chest in time with the beat of Grace. The pain sharpened his mind. Everything else came in clearer. "Four, and Ten, and One, and Two, and Three, and Four, and Fifteen." Then the pain receded, but he felt now his Grace and his Heart clench together.
Some was forced down on his face tightly. Pain flickered through half of his face. It was duller than the feeling in his chest. More manageable. A breeze brushed into his face, and he felt his chest rise, broken ribs shifted in while the rest of his chest inflated.
He opened his eyes and tried to look around all that was left. He was still lying on the edge.
"Can we even call 911? I don't think angel's have health insurance, do they?" The sounds rushed up to him. The voice sounded young and nervous.
"I don't know Sam, check the book of Policies 3:14." A different voice, the one who said his name responded. Castiel leaned out to it. The sounded rumbled through him, struck a cord.
Another set. He was inching closer to the edge, but the closer he was, the stronger the rush of sensation became.
"Come on you heartless bastard. Don't give up!" The familiar voice yelled again.
"Dean, maybe we should just..." A woman this time but it echoed strangely.
"No, just keep with it! Trust me!" The voice sounded ragged to Castiel. Exhausted. Empathic.
Castiel leaned forward. He could smell blood and sweat. He leaned as far off the edge he could without falling. Everything became more real, more clear.
And he jumped.
Dean arms felt like rubber as he pushed into chest of the man who pulled him from Hell. Up and down, and up and. His head felt so light. He gasped in a breath trying to keep it clear. Up and down. And up.
Sam grabbed his shoulders. "It's been ten minutes, Dean. He was in such rough shape. He might already have been-"
Dean looked up into his brother's face twisted with grief and anguish. "Sam, don't say it."
Dean leaned over the angel's face, tilted his head back again, used his thumbs to press the plastic seal of the face mask over the angel's mouth and nose and gave him another two slow breaths.
Then he jerked back away, surprise and disgust etched into his features. The angel coughed again, and his entire body rattled. Sam reached forward and ripped the twitching man onto his side. The angel continued to cough and choke. Blood sprayed in a fine mist out of his mouth.
"Cas?" Dean asked hesitantly. His own breath was coming a little ragged, from both mental and physical exertion. He sat back against the carpet to ease the strain on his legs, his still aching hip, ready to spring back into action.
Dean looked at his brother as Sam confidently and gently held the broken man on his side, as he continued to wheeze and expel fluid from his throat. Sam rolled Castiel to his back again and set the limp man's head easily on the ground.
Dean could feel Ruby waiting in the corner of the room. She paced back and forth watching them, not quite sure of what she had done. He ignored her for now.
Blue eyes fluttered stared unfocused at the carpet below both of them.
Then the entire room started to glow, softly. Dean clenched his eyes closed, expectantly. The light did not greatly increase in intensity before it faded back.
"Dean?" Castiel whispered, nearly inaudible. Every muscle in the angel's body contracted. The back of the angel's head pressed into the floor, the only point of contact all the way to the angel's bare feet. Both Dean and Sam grabbed him, lifting up his upper body. The angel sagged in their arms.
"It's okay Dean, we got him. He's back." Sam said gently.
Dean nodded then glanced at Castiel again. He watched Castiel's chest rise and fall, heard the shallow, fast breaths. Dean knew that it was a horrible improvement over what he heard, or rather, could not hear, when Ruby pulled the collar off.
The body of the angel that lay on the floor before them looked like he was a victim of a runaway truck and a slasher movie. That said, it was an improvement.
The skin that was not covered by smears of clotting blood, was still too pale, but the exposed cuts were reduced to only thin silvery scars. The deep bruising on the angel's abdominal was faded. The overall ferocity and freshness of the attacks and torture were muted, slowly fading away.
Dean breath a deep sigh and let a small grin cover his features. He nodded towards Sam. "Look, angel power." Then he scrunched up his mouth. "Man, did I just sound gay?"
A quiet feminine voice breathed a response. "Yeah."
Sam let out a chortle. "Not bad, all things considered. But he's still pretty messed up."
The angel's cerulean blue eyes opened as his neck arched upwards, and locked on something on the other side of the bed.
A deep low voice sounded from the door. "Lieutenant?"
Uriel stood there, visibly appalled. The angel's jaw opened and closed. And opened again. He took three deliberate strides to stand over Dean and Sam's shoulders and eyed the angel lying on the floor.
Castiel opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was coarse grunt. He closed his eyes and put his head back on the floor. Dean warily reached around Uriel's knees to grab a water bottle off the cheap bedside table and cracked the lid off. Having the angel standing behind him when he was defenseless rubbed his nerves the wrong way.
"Here." Dean waved it in front of the angel's face. "It will help with your throat. You sound worse than Kermit." A hand that shook worse than someone with Parkinson's lifted slowly up to reach it. Dark, welted, silvery scars peaked around the bloody gauze that was wrapped around Castiel's wrist. Dean gave him the bottle, but used his hand to clamp the bottle in place. If he let go, Castiel would have dropped it in a second, and soaked himself... and Dean.
The angel's face tensed more. Now not just in pain, but frustration. Dean slipped his other hand behind the angel's neck and lifted his head off the ground. The angel drank, deeply at first. But, then he seized up and started to cough. Dean flinched, and slid a knee under the Castiel's back, forcing him to sit up higher off the ground. Sam grabbed the bottle out of their hands.
The angel quit choking, and Dean lowered him down again.
Uriel huffed in disapproval. "Lieutenant. I will take you up for the remainder of your convalescence." He reached to grip Castiel's host's shoulders.
Dean was about to open his mouth to say something, but he could not decide what. Dean knew that Castiel was probably in better hands up "there", but for some reason, he could not yet bear to see the wounded figure that had haunted his dreams, pleading for aid, leave his sight. At least leave not being able to leave, under his own power. The angel should have had enough of taking orders, being dragged around without his consent.
Castiel beat him too it.
"Uriel, enough." The thin voice held an edge. The angel's eyes scrunched, and he fisted the carpet, grounding himself. "I will stay here a little longer."
"You are in no condition to make that decision. And I have orders to bring you to report." Uriel started a honest-to-God, staring contest with his superior. To say that Dean thought it impressive that Castiel could stare anyone down, even from the flat off his back on a green and gold carpet, would be a understatement.
The darker angel went red in the face. But Castiel spoke again. "I will come soon. Patience, brother." The angel swallowed painfully. "I have business here yet."
Castiel looked Uriel in the eye again. The other angel winked out of sight.
Dean heard Ruby suck in a lungful of relief.
"The water please, Dean." The voice of the angel rasped. Dean wordlessly gave it to him, and again kept the man from sloshing it all over himself.
The angel pushed himself up into a sitting position and took a small sip. "You did well in helping to avert the destruction of the Seal."
"I did what?" Dean said stupefied. "I… we saved your ass!"
"My ass in particular?" The angel cocked his head in confusion.
Dean realized he was beginning to get angry at a man who looked like he'd been chewed up by wolves and thrown over a cliff. And he was starting not to care. "Lilith," the angel flinched, "would have ended up killing you. In fact, you almost broke it. WE saved your life. That's what stopped the breaking of the Seal." Dean took in a deep cleansing breath, and stood up. His hip twinged painfully. He started limping towards the first aid kit and its drugs.
"Yes. We cannot afford another loss to... Lil–" Castiel tripped over his words. "Lucifer."
Dean did not hear the difference in tone in the angel's voice. From the firm, commanding tone to displaced fear.
"You are a thankless bastard, you know that?" Dean snarled. Sam stood up and gave his brother a warning look. But Dean saw the subtle agreement in his brother's betrayed eyes. "I finally start being able to trust you, and the second you get your mojo back, you turn into a dick!"
Castiel's face went pale with shock. He pinched the bridge of his nose. He visibly dimmed and receded back.
"No angel has ever been indebted to a mortal. I have never needed to thank anyone. Not for saving my life." He swallowed. "When you forced Alistair to end his own exorcism, and when I allowed myself to be overcome by Lilith."
Dean calmed himself as he listened. The angel had only once before been this open with him, admitting to doubt and weakness. Dean saw it as it was. Castiel need to talk, to confess, like he had after the Halloween fiasco. The angel was trying to justify himself, to reason out his problems. Castiel was not obligated to explain anything to Dean. But, suddenly knew why he did. He wanted, desperately, for Dean to trust him. Dean could feel his compassion building up in sympathetic resonance. Castiel had just spent a week with some of the kind of treatment that Dean spent forty years enduring.
"Seems like everything worked out then for you." Dean remarked, only somewhat coolly. For a second emotion flickered through Castiel's pain squinted eyes. Hurt. Disappointment. Dean shift away and stood up. A crack bit through the air as Dean put weight on his hip. "Ow." He swallowed and looked down to the body of an angel stretched out on the green and gold carpet, and offered him a hand up.
Castiel stood in the corner of the room, leaning heavily against the wall. The injuries that had been so violently inflicted on him were slow to heal. Normally damage inflicted to his mortal shell sealed up as soon as the angel could find a quiet place meditate and pray. His grace would flow through the body, as blood pumped through its veins, whisking away damage and deformity. But either Castiel could not find that quiet place in his soul, or else his Grace was still recovering itself, still wounded and dimmed. It was not an enlightening thought.
Something ran though his mind, something that a year ago, would have never emerged nor would have been warranted. Something sharper than Lillith's knives, more forceful than that bat she used, and more damaging than the reckless abandon with which she tried to destroy his mind.
He had come so near to damning the earth. So near. He could still feel the racing, evanescent desire to die. To give up. To commit the sin of suicide.
He tried to convince himself it was a though planted by Lilith's invasive foray into his consciousness. That it was not a thing that could have come from one such as him.
But how could his Father not have seen that the order he sent Castiel, an 'instrument in fate', was exactly what could have fulfilled the demon's mission? The order served him up on silver platter, as Dean would have put it. Was that God's will?
He reconciled that by putting the blame for the entire mission gone awry squarely where it lay.
Castiel blamed himself.
He had failed. And earth could have been, almost was, one step closer to Hell.
Dean Winchester, the arrogant, faithless, cocky man, had been the perfect device to repair all of his own transgressions. A mortal had done what he could not. Perhaps he could take comfort in that. If Dean could be groomed to be a righteous man, he could save them all.
A movement in the opposite corner caught his eye. He then noticed that his vacant gaze had been locked on the demon witch that had been consorting with the younger Winchester, driving him further down a dark path to damnation.
The same demon witch who had saved the Seal, by, grudgingly the angel admitted to himself, saving his own soul. Strange, that she could muster up the moral fortitude to save an enemy's soul, when she herself had thoughtlessly squandered her own.
She locked eyes with him, and swallowed in fear. The now black irises darted towards the door, which to get to, she would have to pass by him. She glanced down at Sam, dozing lightly on a bed. Dean was awake, barely, flipping through a newspaper. He claimed that he wasn't tired, but Castiel suspected strongly that Dean was nervous, worried for his health. Castiel did not try to reassure him. He simply said he needed to get off his back for a while. That his Grace would restore him. At the time, Castiel had not lied to Dean, or himself. But now...
The sound of a foot brushing against the carpet jerked his head back up to the demon, Ruby. His reaction was that of a human's to unexpected noise. A reflex beat into him by Lilith's hoard. Not the calm assuredness of an angel, who could perceive all pieces of his Lord's Earth as he pleased, not bounded by a human's limited senses.
So instead of pulling his face back away from hers in shame, he spoke in his deep and even tone. "Why do you cower in the corner? I respect our bargain."
She shivered and began to walk towards the door. It was the wary walk of someone who thought their existence depended on the ability to dodge at a moment's notice. Either that, or it was the shimmering, bouncy swagger of an fiend who knew that their crimes could face no further prosecution.
Castiel allowed himself that thought. It was a demon he was referring to. A demon. Pain filled his breast. He could smell blood, his own. And taste it in his mouth. He opened to eye that he had scrunched closed and for a second, it looked like the knife that had been used to open him from throat to gut was in her hand. And her eyes were white. The overlay image winked out of existence.
Castiel sagged against the wall, sliding further down. The pain disappeared. But the fear stayed with him. Ruby took a long, hesitant step towards him, then gripped under his armpit, pushing him back to his feet. She looked shocked at her own action, and her hand fell back to her side.
Castiel spoke first. Intuition flooded him as he looked past her flesh facade into the eyes of her true self. And something different was there. A spark of something she did not know she could still have. "You do not know how far you have come on your way to redemption."
Her host's eyes widened and she fell backwards a step and put her hand reassuringly on the door knob. "I don't know what you're talking about. Bye Dean. Tell Sam I'll call him."
Dean looked thoughtfully at Castiel after Ruby had shut the door. "I think you just told her the demon version of 'Go to hell'. Hmm. GO TO HEAVEN." He sighed. "Just doesn't have that same ring to it."
Castiel's center of balance shifted. He stumbled sideways, and caught himself on the wall without falling. Better. When the world was no longer spinning, or at least spinning on a rather inappropriate axis with his host as its center, he looked back at Dean, who had moved a surprising distance, considering Castiel's eyes had only been closed for what seemed like a second.
Dean now stood were Ruby was. "You look like Hel– crap. Sit down before I have to wake up Sam to pick you up off the floor again." The words were said with some humour, and some worry.
Castiel narrowed his eyes. "My difficulty has passed. I am currently fine." And then he noticed his list sideways, in the opposite direction. Dean grabbed his shoulders and used the momentum to sit him the unoccupied bed.
"Whatever you say, Cas." Dean looked truly confused for a moment. "Why are you still here? You usually come for a quick 'the earth is ending and you have to fix it' speech, then you pop back out again."
Castiel considered what Dean had said, and silently agreed. His orders did not state that he had to overly socialize with the mortals. Besides, in the past, that had meant awing them with choirs of heavenly singing. And he would usually be excluded from those, with good reason.
He noticed Dean growing frustrated with his non response. Humans, he reflected, were driven to use speech. It was the one gift they had mastered better than the other entirety of his Father's creations.
"Hey! Really, don't you have to follow orders? Uriel said you had to go report." Dean looked quizzically at the angel.
"Uriel's orders were to bring me to report. They had said nothing about when." Castiel answered.
Dean smirked. "You might be in a lawyer suit, instead of an accountant."
"But, seriously. Why haven't you gone up? Wouldn't you heal faster," Dean nodded to the roof, "up there? You know, recharge the angel mojo."
"Staying down here, with all of my Father's world, is refreshing." Castiel paused and swallowed to wet his dry throat. "To feel warmth and goodness. To hear voices, and look out to see my Father's children play. To whole sense the world. And one other issue."
Dean sat down on the bed beside him. "Which is what? Or are you going to keep me in this suspense all night?"
"To find a way to... thank you. For what you did for me. I can only pick a handful of mortals over time that would be so willing to do what you did for me. Especially those that are atheists." Castiel swallowed again. He looked forward, to stare at the eye crossing pattern on the wall.
Dean choked out a laugh. "That was the most backhanded 'thank you' I have ever gotten." He chuckled.
Castiel considered the word 'backhanded', and did not understand. But he shrugged and said in his low, even tone –
The two men sat side by side, contentment lay thick in the air around them. It was the absence of fear, anger, pain, worry, malice. They both stared at the small window covered with thin blinds, watching as the colours of dusk began to shine through the window. The sound of Sam's even snores hummed in the back ground.
"When did you start being my guardian angel?"
"I always was."
"So, that last dream... when I was a little kid... Was that your memory, or mine?"
Dean looked to his left where the angel was sitting. And saw empty air.
There it was. Any comments are appreciated, Loved it/hated it. Any parts you'd liked and why. Anything that didn't quite work.
Thanks for all of the review and the support.
You guys are such a supporting fan base.
I may write again. In the summer.