You know, I'm a genius! I got this done so quickly that I can upload it the night before, edit it and post it before I go out, so even though I said Sunday, you get it today! Anyway, this brings this little jaunt to an end and it will be taken up in Land of Confusion. Thanks again to readers and reviewers, the bright points of my day, and I hope to see you at the next one.

Don't you know the war is far from over now
What a stumbling block we've fallen over now
As our brothers die defending no one
The war is far from over now

Sam thinks about the things that Castiel has just learnt as they finally arrive at Black's Bar. Somehow all of this is not all that surprising to the youngest Winchester. Unlike Dean, who wanted to trust the angels and believe them almost from the beginning, almost because he was just as sceptical at first and Sam really does not know when or why that changed, Sam could not bring himself to trust, could not bring himself to like them, even Castiel to begin with, because they were cold, distant and so unlike the angels that he had been raised to believe in. Even after incident with Father Gregory in Providence, Sam still wanted to believe and the way that the angels were ripped that from him.

As things with Ruby progressed, as his need for the demon blood grew, although this is a need that he knows will never really go away, something he will be tempted by for the rest of his life, Sam had begun to think that it was the blood he was ingesting that was causing him to dislike the angels so much and, by turn, them him. Turns out he was wrong and that is just like a kick in the teeth really, because maybe if he had listened to his instincts in the first place, maybe if he had not trusted Ruby so blindly, they would not be in this mess now.

So he blames himself a little, or a lot, and no matter what Dean and Castiel say, no matter how much of the blame they try to shoulder for themselves, Sam knows that at the end of it all it was his crappy choices and his blind need for revenge that tipped the balance, because he can tell himself as much as he likes that it was a combination of alcohol and grief that started it, anger that continued it and desperate need that brought it to the attention of his brother and his brother's angel, but at the end of it all, Sam knows that really it was his own weakness and his own blind stupidity and even the angels and Ruby cannot be blamed for that. Between them they knew exactly which buttons to push and they all did the job better than he thinks they ever could have dreamed.

Sure, he knows that not all of the fault is his and that he does not have to work himself into the ground to fix it, but there is little more that he can do other than research and try to find answers. The thing of it is, they only have two weapons that are guaranteed to kill an angel and Sam cannot hold either of them for a prolonged period of time. Castiel was surprisingly understanding when he told Sam that it was probably due to the demon blood that is still within him and will never leave. Sam almost does not want to believe that, except that he experiences the proof of it each time he reaches for the bow, the sword or even the little knives they attached angelic arrowheads to.

So he does what he can and when Cassidy greets him with a hug he knows that it is not because they are close, it is simply because she does not need to be strong around him, for the simple reason that they do not know each other and she has nothing to lose by showing him her grief, only really has something to gain from it. Dean and Castiel are not greeted in the same way, but strangely that does not bother his brother, who has that speculative look on his face that Sam as only rarely seen there before and never bodes overly well for the younger brother.

Dean and Castiel stick around for a few days and while they are there, Cas helps Sam with the research while Dean talks to other hunters and, sometimes, helps Cassidy behind the bar. During the day they discuss Cassidy's plan. Talk about the fact that they need to get as many hunters on their side as possible, they need weapons, they need allies, this is too much for three people, for four people, because it would seem that when Cassidy had said she wanted to help them on the phone, she actually meant that she would help them.

Under any other circumstances, Sam would find that suspicious, but the with death of the man who was all but her brother-in-law and the fact that she is concerned that it has pushed her brother off the deep end, she has told them that she is going all in so that she can protect what remains of her family and that, well, that Sam can get behind, because he has been there.

After a few days, however, Dean is beginning to get itchy feet, wants to be out there looking for answers and people willing to help them and while Sam is no less eager for the same, desperate to correct the mistakes he made that have lead to this, he also wants to stay because aside from Bobby, he has never known someone with the resources at her fingers that Cassidy has. Dean is reluctant to leave, he always is worried about leaving Sam on his own these days, what with the whole demon blood thing and then Lucifer and all. Cassidy persuades him that it is for the best, however, that if they are going to reach all the people that they need to, they will need to split up anyway and Sam still has more work to do here.

So Dean leaves, makes Sam promise that he will call if he finds anything, or if anything changes, and just glares at Cassidy, a glare that promises a world of hurt if anything should happen to his younger brother. It is not that Sam does not appreciate the fact that Dean wants to protect him, it is just that he is long past the point where he needs it, has made enough stupid mistakes and been on his own enough times that he does not want it anymore. Cassidy shrugs it all off, however, utterly unconcerned and Sam supposes that she sees this all the time anyway.

It is when they are both huddled together one morning, pouring over a pair of books and expanding their most basic of plans, while Dean is out hunting for allies, Sam is searching for answers. Even though they need help, they need allies, Sam does not think that just having more hunters to help them is going to cut it at all. They need more than hunters if they are going to win this, they need angels, even the fallen ones because these books have told them something that Sam knows Castiel dared not to. Given the contents of said books, Sam does not blame him.

Paradise cannot come to the Earth while it is as densely populated as it is, only ten thousand souls will make it, and unlike the beliefs of many, God and His angels are not about to descend from on high and select the most worthy, the angels are going to systematically destroy mankind until only those ten thousand remain and they do not care who they are.


Raphael allows the words that Castiel said on the side of the road to replay through his mind. This is dangerous, seeking out the one who has turned his back on his brethren, though the archangel does not understand how Michael can be angry about that, does not understand why Michael expected Castiel to be grateful that the offer was made, only knows that he was angered by the lower angel's refusal, although his leader would deny that he experienced such an emotion.

They have begun to increase their strikes, have moved to Britain now, a place where the hunters are far fewer and far more thinly spread than they are in America, of course there are places in the world where they are fewer still, but Michael has other parts of the Host dealing with those. The only reason they have come here is that he wishes to check up on the angel that he has left in charge of this, lost contact with him a few days before and rather than considering the possibility that a rogue demon or fallen angel may have slipped through their net and killed Katzfiel, Michael has given in to that paranoia that has gripped him since Castiel's true defection from their cause and assumed that the angelic swordsman has abandoned the cause.

When they find Katzfiel and the remainder of his garrison they are holed up in a barn on the middle of nowhere. All are in varying states ranging from mildly injured to dead. The injuries are not the normal sort caused by hunters, with their primitive weapons which lack the elements necessary to harm angels. Raphael has only seen injuries like this once before, in the first Great War, they were difficult to heal then and will be harder still now, when the angels have been left without the ability to touch their grace for several days, the poison which comes from the blood of the fallen flowing through their veins and the cuts, bruises and broken bones inflicted by weapons which were once heavenly and have now been turned to the requirements of Hell.

So Raphael has turned his attention to the injured garrison, finds that it stops the doubts and the questions that have haunted him for so long to be doing this, to dedicate himself the to preservation of life once more rather than the taking of it. Raphael has his own cohort of angels, other healers who help him with the injured angels in the barn. Were he capable of emotion, the healer archangel knows that he would be experiencing worry and fear at this point, but he does not experience such things, so he ignores the way that his soul roils in the vessel as an impossibility and continues to treat the sick and injured.

As time goes on the worst off die and he whispers a prayer for them as they pass from existence. There is no Heaven waiting for them, no Hell either, nothing, simply emptiness and nothingness, angels die and they cease to be. Of them all, those who do not or will not recover, Katzfiel holds on for the longest, clinging to existence until he can build up the strength to utter the name of the one who has done this, Astaroth. Raphael had known that she had managed to get out of Hell, managed to reach Lucifer's side, but had thought that she had been killed when Lucifer had. It is a horrible surprise to find that she was not.

It is Katzfiel's last act, the angel dies in Raphael's arms, and for the first time he cannot bring himself to mutter the prayer over the shell that once housed his brother, he merely stands, tells the others of his cohort to continue with the sick, that he has to speak with Michael, Michael who has turned his attention to a city of humans in the north.

When he gets there, many are already dead, all that remains is a small number of children and their adult guardians. Raphael knows better than to expect that Michael will leave the children alive, even if they are all innocent. It does not stop him from asking the archangel to spare them. Michael is impassive as he looks at him, asks if they will have this conversation every time they cull a town, if Raphael really believes that these children will be better off trying to fend from themselves in a world which will only grow more hostile the more towns that are exterminated and people who are killed.

He does not respond, simply watches as Michael orders the death of these young ones, tries to keep his face as blank as Michael's, tries not think of what is being done, of the innocence that is being lost. Focuses, instead, on the information he has received, begins to pass it on to his brother, when he is cut off by a voice that is both strange and far more familiar than it really should be.

"Well, and I thought I had reached new levels of depravity," it is Astaroth and even though she is held by two of his brethren, her eyes still have that red glow and her smile is satisfied. "I never thought I would see the day when an archangel would be ordering the slaughter of innocents. Our Father would be proud, Michael." A third angel approaches from behind them, a blade in his hand that, even at a distance, emits the twisted sense of grace that shows it was once a holy blade. Michael takes it, turns it around in his hands and just seeming to try and get a feel for it even though Raphael can sense the discomfort it causes him.

Astaroth laughs at that, laughs at the fact that it is clear that Michael intends to kill her with her own blade, then turns her eyes to the healer, asks him why he is there when war, battles, were never the place for him, when he is too gentle to desire the deaths of so many. He looks away, knows that some of his discomfort must show on the face of his vessel and not willing to let Michael see how close to his own doubts she has struck.

Fortunately, the fallen angel does not get the opportunity to say anything else, Michael gestures and she is forced to her knees before he delivers the killing blow. Raphael feels her death, as he has felt the death of every angel that has been killed since this war began, and though he knows that she would not have welcomed it, he offers a prayer to his Father for her passing.

The clatter of the blade hitting the ground startles the archangel and he hears Michael command the two who brought Astaroth forward to take the body away and destroy it, he no longer has a use for it. Blind eyes fall on the sword, a blade tainted by the death of hundreds of angels and the hands of a demon. He knows of one who would have a use for it, but to take it, to give it to that one, would be to betray Michael and all the Host. He hears the order for them to move on to the next place, for another to be appointed to finish the work that Katzriel started in Britain while Michael and the rest of his share of the Host return to America.

Raphael picks up the blade, because he wants Paradise for mankind, he really does, but he does not want it at the expense of blood on the hands of the Host, at the expense of the wrath of his Father should He ever return. There is one with a use for this blade, and one who will be able to make many others like it. Raphael will not watch as this continues any longer.

He has made up his mind, his allegiance now lies with Dean Winchester.

Give us a moment of peace in our lifetime
Give us a moment of peace right now

Don't you know the war is far from over now
What a stumbling block we've fallen over now
As our brothers die defending no one
The war is far from over now

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