Thanks to my lovely beta and my long suffering bffl who assisted with the title. I got a lot of inspiration checking for different Castiel/Dean fanmixes and looking up the songs other people felt expressed their dynamic. I have to wholeheartedly agree with one song that had been recommended. Placebo's "Running Up That Hill" really worked. I played "Breath" by Breaking Benjamin, "Your Guardian Angel" by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and a lot of different songs by Muse.
And this is my first attempt at Dean/Castiel. Hollar!
Castiel stood leaning against the heavy wood frame of the cabin's entry door. His eyes swept the room; his chin nodding ever so slightly letting on that he'd even turned his head. He stood in silence, observing the brothers – the Winchesters – each in repose. They'd gotten a rented room and as per usual shared a room with two beds. At least, this is how Castiel had seen them more often than not. Sam sat on top of his sheets, legs bowed open, feet planted on the floor. He looked uncomfortable and somehow dwarfed the full size bed. He had been talking to Dean, staring intently at his older sibling. Dean had stretched out the length of the mattress, with his head propped on the bed's two pillows stacked. He hadn't even taken off his jacket or boots.
Castiel did not sense the presence of any other in the room. His brow wrinkled and he narrowed his eyes. He'd expected to see more than just the two. He'd anticipated and prepared for an awkward interruption if Sam had Ruby with him. He continued to stare at the men, still unaware of his entrance.
"Dean, I'm just asking," said Sam, his tone more than a hint defensive.
"And I still don't have an answer, Sammy," Dean replied in a weary voice.
Dean lifted his hands to his cheeks and rubbed his face, paying extra attention to the corners of his eyes.
"Maybe Castiel can shed some light on that. Whenever he decides to grace us with his presence, no pun intended, I'll ask him,"
Sam sighed in agreement and lifted his hands to his mouth, cupping them and nodding thoughtfully – still processing the question he had asked. He lifted his head, taking his eyes off Dean and that's when he caught sight of the angel, standing by the cabin door.
"SHIT!" Sam yelped, his body jerking back in response to the shock.
Sam stood up abruptly from his bed, the farthest from the door and his hazel eyes locked with the stern angel's blue eyes. Dean twisted his head in alarm, looking at the door even as his hand flew to the edge of the mattress, where he'd predictably already stowed his shotgun between the mattress and box spring in case they had unwelcome company.
"Castiel," said Sam in a tone that captured both observation and question.
"Seriously?" Dean asked the trench coat clad figure with an acerbic hiss to his voice.
Castiel stared at him, still expressionless, without even the notion of a smirk at the shock he'd just caused. Dean struggled up to sitting, putting his back against the solid wood headboard. He groaned as he rose, noting Castiel's lack of response and wondering if it were a calculated response in of itself.
"When are you going to get the hang of knocking on the door?" Dean asked, trying again to incur some form of expression – something more lighthearted than the unwavering stare.
"We need to talk," came the reply from Castiel in the normal voice of his vessel – a low rasp two-steps above a whisper, practically monotone.
Sam looked from Castiel to Dean. Dean eyed the angel and looked back to Sam. Castiel straightened his back and leaned forward away from the door frame.
"I know what happened between you and Anna, Dean."
If Castiel were capable of looking any more stern and solemn than usual, he probably would have. His tone left the air icy. Dean pursed his lips and swallowed, collecting his thoughts currently spinning in a trashy montage sequence behind his eyes – reliving the night in the Impala from the gentle words leaving Anna's lips all the way to the sleepy kisses he'd pressed against her skin as they nodded off together in the backseat. Castiel's eyes squinted and he peered at Dean. Sam crossed his arms and looked down at his brother, following Castiel's lead.
"Yeah, well…" Dean offered raising a hand as he shrugged, feigning apathy at the statement.
"More importantly," Castiel continued following his charge's response, "God knows as well,"
"Is he upstairs putting another mark on my report card of sin? Tell him not to put down the pencil. There's more where that came from," Dean retorted turning his head so he no longer stared at Castiel, but ahead at his feet or the wall, anywhere but at the probing blue eyes, locked on him.
"It's hardly a joke," the angel remarked, now fully utilizing his solemn stoic tone to its fullest extent.
"Neither is hell. I get it. I don't expect the creator of an army of junkless birds to understand,"
"And here you are walking the fine line of respect and colorful commentary,"
Dean's breath hitched. Sam looked wildly from brother to angel. Castiel took a step forward from the doorway. Sam gulped and cleared his throat to camouflage his growing discomfort with the situation of a clearly edgy Castiel and a cocky rebellious sharp tongued Dean.
"What is this God guy's problem anyway? He knew who he was pulling out of the pit."
Castiel continued to walk toward the bed where Dean laid stretched out, avoiding turning his head in either Sam or Castiel's direction. His eyes could have bored holes into the reclined and seemingly relaxed man with the distressed spiky light brown hair, comical wise ass grin, and sparkling green eyes.
"I don't question the Lord. He knows you inside and out. I question your judgment in light of all that you now know."
"Judgment," Dean laughed haughtily, "Nice choice of words. You guys are really big on judgment – pointing fingers – and all the do-not's."
"Forgiveness, Dean," Castiel interrupted, now at Dean's bedside, towering over him, much like Sam, feet planted so he wavered between both beds, unsure of whether to leave or stay.
"Huh?" Dean snorted, with another arrogant chuckle, disbelieving that he had anything coming to him from Castiel other than chastising.
"I said forgiveness," Castiel repeated taking his statement quite literally, "The Lord forgives and the Lord knows your steps before you take them. He still chose to have you resurrected. Even still He gave me my orders."
"Great, so he knows about me and Anna, but he forgives. Wonderful. Tell him thanks. I appreciate him not holding my sex life against me,"
Sam turned his gaze from Dean, to the wall, taking in the decorations made to the cabin walls by the owners. He nearly began to whistle to diffuse the tension in the air, but instead pressed his lips together and tried to remain as quiet and fly on the wall like as possible.
Castiel focused in on Dean for a moment and his expression relaxed to the unaffected gentle expression that he generally wore.
"You still don't understand,"
Dean rolled his eyes. "Well, dancing around what you're trying to say and being cryptic is kind of lost on me."
"Redundancy," Castiel said quietly. "And, there are things you must know."
"And you're going to tell me," Dean said with another roll of his eyes, before crossing his arms and his feet, again forcing the idea of him being completely comfortable, "And we're all going to be completely shocked and maybe we'll bond. Sam might cry. I'll probably throw around some pretty heavy langua-"
Castiel put two fingers to Dean's forehead and Dean immediately toppled over. Castiel sighed and took a seat on the bed beside the unconscious man, putting his back to both Dean and Sam. He folded his hands, interlacing his fingers, looking down at his lap. Sam stood still and looked down at Dean with concern. His brow furrowed in concern and his eyes widened.
"You knocked him out?"
"He's sleeping," Castiel answered, unsure of Sam's exact meaning, and wanting at all times to be honest and specific.
"He'll be okay?" Sam pressed, "Why'd you…"
"He will be fine," Castiel said, turning his head to look over his shoulder, "And I think Dean required what you refer to as a 'time out'."
Sam smirked, his lips breaking apart to reveal a toothy grin, and his face allowing for laugh lines to appear from the corners of his mouth to the bridge of his nose. He began to laugh and took a step from the side of the bed.
"Oh, it's been a long time since I've seen anyone put Dean in time out."
He walked around to the foot of Dean's bed and smugly looked down at Dean's sleeping form.
"I don't want to be here when he wakes up. Time out is going to send him through the roof."
Sam shook his head slightly at Dean and straightened as he lifted his eyes up and caught Castiel staring back at him. Sam continued on his path, walking away from the beds and toward the cabin door.
"Good luck with that. If I come back and find a trail of blood and feathers, I know how that one turned out for you,"
Castiel did not respond. He watched Sam, twist the door knob and step outside, into the chilly weather. He heard the door shut and the crunch of Sam's footsteps on the earth beneath his feet. With Sam a safe distance from the cabin, Castiel turned back to look at Dean and adjusted his body so that he knelt on the bed beside Dean. Castiel shut his eyes - the beautiful blue depths of his vessel, the kind eyes of a saint and one of two ways he perceived Dean. Eyes closed he had none of the distractions that the gift of sight also caused.
Dean's eyes opened and he gulped a breath. He'd woken with a start and found instead of walking toward him, Castiel sat beside him on the bed's mattress. He blinked and focused his sight, noting Castiel had shut his eyes.
"Nice." Dean remarked sarcastically, "You start to lose the argument and you knock me out. Where I come from that's avoidance AND being a sore loser,"
"Where I come from its called letting God's messenger speak,"
"Well, that would make you the postal worker for a myth. So, speak now or forever, and I want you to know that I mean forever, hold your peace,"
Castiel raised his eyelids, revealing his eyes turned upwards, avoiding looking directly at Dean.
"What? You need a cheat sheet from above?" Dean prodded, the few minutes of a nap and pseudo time out having done nothing to curb his sardonic sense of humor turned style of verbal warfare.
"I need to tell you the truth and it is not a truth easy to tell," Castiel answered with finality, now lowering his gaze from ceiling to the wall just beyond Sam's bed.
Dean's smile faded and in its place a frown, followed by a furrowed brow signaling confusion and interest.
"Anna told me everything." Dean remarked, "She got her grace back. I bet that's a slap in the face after the doom and gloom 'she must be destroyed' trip you and Junkless went on, but really – you Angels are really sore losers,"
"The history," Castiel explained, ignoring all of Dean's comments, "between Anna and I. That is something I am sure she did not tell you,"
Dean remained silent the tip of tongue pinched between the bottom and top rows of his teeth. He held it there to prevent any more words from slipping out. He really could barely trust himself to respectfully object to the being who had twice threatened to throw him back into hell. This subject and the implied judgment for his actions really got under his skin.
"You know by now that I served beneath her." Castiel said, pausing and again raising his eyes to the ceiling of the cabin, "She chose to remove her grace. She fell. She became human. She lived as one of you,"
"All things I know," Dean responded.
"She left in the midst of battle," Castiel added.
"What kind of battle,"
"A battle that began in heaven and moved on to the earth,"
"Demons," said Dean. "She left in the middle of a battle with demons,"
"Alistair, and a whole host," Castiel confirmed, his eyes never leaving from Dean, "I lost many of my brother's in that battle,"
Dean sucked in a breath, a heavy breath, and for more than just precious oxygen sake.
"And she did what?"
"She did as she must have explained to you. She removed her grace and cast it to earth and fell to be born as a mortal,"
"I don't understand. The big reveal is that she left in the middle of a battle,"
Castiel stared back at Dean. Dean grew uncomfortable under the scrutinizing pair of eyes. He stared back, willing Castiel to concede first and speak.
"I need more of an explanation that that," Dean conceded impatient for the conversation to be over with and impatient to be left alone without further questioning about his actions and motives.
"I can show you," Castiel said raising his right hand, the hand closest to Dean.
Dean pulled back from Castiel.
"I'd prefer if you didn't. Use some adjectives like the rest of us and explain it,"
And the glassy blue eyed stare dropped interrogating the bedspread rather than Dean.
"I cannot fully make you understand the gravity of the situation. You have been in fights. You've battled demons before. You cannot imagine the sight of angels and demons in battle. It is akin to your famous Civil War."
"Brother against brother," Dean summarized, before a snide smile crossed his lips unchecked, "Hey, didn't the demons used to be you guys?"
Castiel lifted his chin and flashed Dean a cold stare – an actual expression, and not the most pleasant sight of course.
"The disobedient and the prideful had been cast out after waging war on God and Heaven. They used to be angels, yes. The stories are true; Lucifer led the rebellion in an attempt to take the Lord's throne, the angels who he had swayed to his side were beaten in a battle and they along with Lucifer were cast out of Heaven."
Castiel shut his eyes, pausing in his tale. Dean watched him and remained silent.
"Originally they fell to Earth."
"Great," Dean complained in a low voice, cutting his eyes from Castiel as he huffed.
"Lucifer and the entire legion, but it did not last. And what I said about time's ability to bend,"
"Lucifer fell to Earth and chaos erupted. I and other angels believed that without grace an angel would become mortal – completely. We believe we had reduced the army that rose against heaven to ineffectual mortals only capable of destruction on Earth or redemption, and we prayed for the latter. Instead, as happened with Anna, even a fallen angel will retain some sort of powers without their grace. Lucifer and his host became what we now know as demons. "
"What does this have to do with time?"
"Hell on earth began and we battled. It was during this battle that Anna abandoned her post and her company. In this battle, we were again victorious. When we bent time, Michael the Archangel, cleft the fabric of time – the result being hell,"
"Whoa," Dean protested, letting out a laugh, "That makes zero sense. Hell is a place, but you're telling me it's a time rift.
"A time rift that exists covered in literally every kind of lock imaginable."
"The seals," Dean sighed.
"And if the seals are opened and Lucifer walks free,"
"The fissure in time is torn,"
"And there is hell on earth, quite literally,"
Dean sat in silence, his breath picking up as he processed the words. Castiel sat patiently, fixing his eyes on Dean's green orbs. He watched the rise and fall of Dean's chest. He could hear the thub-glub-thub of Dean's heart muscle pumping in the useless red fluid and pumping out oxygenated life's milk. He felt all this within his vessel body, but in a sense it sounded better the way he heard it happening through Dean. He watched the face of his charge, the gravity provoking his set jaw to clench tight. Dean's lip twitched and he tore his eyes from Castiel, looking away at the bed, the wall, the ceiling, anywhere but the angel who had, yet again, torn the rug of what he thought he knew from under his feet.
"And the point of the history lesson and what happened between Anna and I, is?"
"We don't know what she became, before she cut out her grace and was reborn as a human."
"4 months here became 40 years in hell, Dean."
"Well, that makes sense now that you've explained I was caught in time's biggest pothole,"
"The disparity is in time between the battle and rebirth."
"You're saying she is a demon,"
"We don't know. We never knew for sure."
"She wasn't a demon. She could enter Bobby's panic room,"
"She isn't an angel, whatever she became,"
"Human is what she became and newsflash, I'm no angel either,"
"Where is she?" Dean asked.
"I suppose where those of us with our grace can go,"
"You don't know?"
"I am not omniscient. That is for God and God alone,"
"And you don't even have a guess. You guys don't have Angel CNN?"
"I am telling you that we do not know –"
"She saved all our asses!" Dean shouted, "Have you forgotten about that!"
"I watched with my own eyes,"
"Those aren't yours, showoff,"
Castiel squinted and the slight hint of the curve of a smile flashed before his eyes relaxed to their usual state.
"Whatever," Dean deflected.
"You are jealous," the angel affirmed, "that is something I did not anticipate,"
"Well, you said it before. I'm not a 'special person'. "Dean remarked.
"I meant that you didn't have the gift to hear or see my heavenly visage. It wasn't a statement of your worth or valor,"
"Yeah, I got that. Either way, Anna isn't a demon so don't worry, all your heavenly secrets above are safe if she's even in Heaven,"
"God's laws have been broken. Disobedience is a punishable offense,"
"So let them rip out her grace and throw her back down here,"
"Time has changed since she abandoned us, Dean. She won't be coming back here,"
Dean's eyes went wide. Castiel faintly heard Dean's heart seize. Before he could inquire about the misfire of the cardiac muscle's constriction and release, Dean snapped at him angrily.
"You'd throw her into hell for finding a loophole and cheating the system!"
"The decision is not mine to make."
"I obey. That is my task. A good soldier obeys, Dean."
"Bullshit!" Dean shouted, shoving his body away from Castiel's, turning and swinging his legs off the bed.
Dean rose to standing and took a hard swing at the lamp between the two beds. It flew from the table and bounced against the pillows that he had just abandoned. Furious, he reached for the lamp and lifted it, flinging it ahead of him at the wall.
"No! She took back her grace for us, for all of us, and she's going to burn in hell for it. She knew that! And you're just going to sit there and whine about how she left a battle. Well you know what, you guys are all holy fuckheads and I probably would have left you, too!"
Castiel rose to standing.
"Flash your wings, knock me unconscious." He lifted his arm, pointing a finger from his fist at Castiel, "You know I am right about this. You know somewhere in that brainwashed head of yours that an eternity in hell is not what she deserves,"
Castiel took a step back from Dean and the bed.
"What?" Dean shouted, "Going to run home and tell dad!"
The angel stood still and blinked. He waited. Dean stalked around the foot of his bed, walking toward Castiel. He shuddered with rage as he moved and could barely talk with his breathing so erratic. Even the muscles in his face twitched out of control.
"She was not a demon. She was human. And as you remember, Ruby was also a witch – a human witch - before becoming a demon. I am trying to explain to you the concern that I share. A demon can be bound by containment charms, can be burned by holy water, is vulnerable to exorcism. A human cannot be affected by these things."
"Neither can an angel,"
"But an angel cannot bleed."
Dean could recall the cut wrists, the blood scrawled symbols reminiscent of rune or cuniform. Anna had written them in her blood. She looked at him with big round innocent eyes and in a shrill fearful voice told him she didn't know how she knew. Dean bit his bottom lip. Castiel reached out and covered Dean's shoulder with his hand. The contact that could have easily been brought down with enough force to cripple felt too gentle to be only human.
"We don't know where she went between the time she left us in battle to the time she fell to Earth to be reborn."
Dean swallowed and silently nodded his head to Castiel.
"We have little knowledge of fact to base our judgment. You call it blind ignorance to be so obedient to the law. It is merely an insurance of survival. The biting words that suggest I could not comprehend the emotion of sorrow – "
Castiel's voice dropped and he lowered his eyes to Dean's hands, hanging lax at his sides, his fists clenched. Castiel lifted only his eyes, questioning Dean with his expression.
"Castiel," Dean began, his voice nearly a whisper, low and throaty ridden with new found guilt.
Castiel spoke, again, before Dean could articulate the feelings behind his bold green eyes.
"I too have watched my brother die, struck down in battle,"
The words cold as ice came from Castiel's mouth and burned their way through Dean, straight to his chest. The thub-glub-thub quickened its pace. Castiel recognized the look in the intense jade spheres looking intently at him, for absolution rather than factual answers.
"Nervous?" he questioned, his voice dropping to just one step away from a whisper.
"Awkward," Dean answered.
"Hm," Castiel replied with a satisfied shrug and soft smile.
"Your emotions," Castiel explained, "They're so varied. One is not unlike the other and at the same time it seems some are just a shade apart. Then from one human to another, unique all the same,"
"Awkward because this whole heart-to-heart has made me nervous. Somewhere out there might be a loophole using double agent working both sides, and I slept with her, because I trusted her and I needed her,"
"You needed –" the angel stopped, uneasily changing his expression from confident to confused, "a confidant, an equal,"
Dean cocked his head slightly in question.
"You don't think?" Dean began unable to complete his question.
Castiel turned, putting his back to Dean.
"Answer me," Dean stammered, "Do you think she was in the pit before throwing out her grace?"
"Dean," Castiel said in a hushed tone, "I truly wish you had laid your burdens upon me. I could have helped."
Dean tossed his head back and groaned loudly. "It all comes back to that. Why again does it matter that I fucked her to feel better about everything I did or saw in hell!"
He gasped in frustration and looked back, but predictably he found himself alone in the cabin with only the distant sound of a flurry of something flapping in the sky to alert him to the fact he'd been deserted quite suddenly.