Final part. I told everyone not to hate me! Anyway, there was going to be a fic after this, this chapter was going to focus on Dean's part of the battle and end differently as a set up for Darkness (Cover Me) but when I got to it, Darkness was superfluous to requirement and the main jist of it could be put into this fic leaving thing open if I ever decide to return to this verse. I don't think I will, I'm quite happy with it as it stands now.

Also, Punky, this is because you were so very persuasive.

We are the ones that will open your mind
Leave the weak and the haunted behind
We are the ones that will open your mind
Leave the weak and the haunted behind

Dean cannot deny that he is nervous, it is only natural to be worried when the might of Heaven is about to turn up and try, very seriously he might add, to kill them all. Dean Winchester may be many things, but he is not the sort to let his mistakes go uncorrected, not the major ones anyway.

So his focus the last few months has all been on finding a way to stop the angels from taking everything away from everyone and it is a task that he has thrown himself into, because, like Lucifer, it is a task that he can use to distract himself from the nightmares of Hell, from the memories that threaten to overwhelm him every time he has a moment to himself to think.

He does not think, tries not to, but is wondering what he will do when this is all over, if he even survives this fight, and there is a part of him that actually does not want to survive it all. He will though, he is determined that he will, if only because he knows now just how badly Sam will cope without him, added to that Sam cannot take care of Castiel properly, does not really understand what the angel has lost and cannot be expected to because he is not the one who asked Castiel to give up everything. That was Dean's fault and he has to be the one to help the angel.

This is bigger than he thought it would be, though, there are more of them and even though he has people behind him and beside him Dean feels alone, feels naked with just two glocks and a sword at his hip.

There is no exchange of words, at this point Dean figures it would be worthless anyway, he simply raises his guns, hears the safeties being let off others and waits until the angels are well and truly in front of them before he almost screams the order. The sounds of the first shots are deafening and he sees dozens of angels fall to well aimed bullets before he is out of ammo and replacing the clips. He does this three times before he starts counting bullets and aiming shots better. When he is down to ten bullets he drops one gun, holsters the other, and draws the sword.

Somewhere in all the chaos he has lost his brother, lost Cas, and he is facing angels on his own. Sometimes another will help him, but he has been up all night and even adrenaline cannot work miracles, Dean is tiring, leaving a path of dead and dying behind him and trying his best to block out the screams that they make as blades sink into them.

There is little gunfire now, their ammunition was not limitless, not like the arrows in Castiel's magic quiver, and many of the hunters have fallen back upon the knives they were given. They are losing, Dean can see it in the way there is a dozen angels to a hunter, the way that other angels are slowly being swamped by their own kind and he wonders how he let things get like this. He wonders why he did not just bury his head in the sand and enjoy his last years on Earth as much as he could. Except that it is not in his nature to do that, not in Sam's or Bobby's, not in Castiel's either.

The point is that he is exhausted, the muscles in his arms burn and he nearly drops the sword he is clinging to as he tries to block a heavy blow from an angel wearing the body of a man who is twice Dean's size and with the strength of an angel he is doubly dangerous. He uses a bullet on him, mourns the waste of it when he is saving it for taking out Michael, but does it all the same, needs to be alive to kill Michael after all and hopes that Sam sticks to his part of the plan, hopes that Sam can take out Gabriel in a similar manner.

The battle needs to end quickly, it is one of the few things that they have agreed upon since day one, the angels need to be taken out quickly and even though the charms that the hunters all wear allow them to hear angels true voices and see their true forms, they can do little against the strength of them when they are not drawn into the ground.

There is another after that, and another and another, he feels like he has been fighting for days even though he knows that this has probably only been happening for an hour. He barely even hears the sounds anymore, his focus is all forward, on the next enemy, on the search for Michael, on the hot metal in his hands and holstered at his side, focussed on the fight, see enemy angel, block strike, kill as soon as humanly possible.

Somewhere, somehow, he hears his name being called, turns to find it and catches a glimpse of Michael, draws his holstered weapon and shoots, once at the angel he is struggling with, once at the archangel, then looks to find the source of the call, turns in time to see Gabriel's sword go through Castiel's abdomen and his sword is forgotten, slips from his hand as he sees Cas fall in the dirt and the glock is raised, fires once, twice, three times, sees each one pierce the body of the woman Gabriel took as vessel.

He does not stop to see if any of them were kill shots, does not see the three flashes of grace as angel and archangel alike die, does not even notice the sounds of the battle beginning to halt as Raphael calls for the fighting to stop. All he sees is Castiel lying in the dirt, blood spreading across his shirt, spilling from between his hands as he frowns at it like he does not understand it. He breathes the angel's name, the name of the one who pulled him from Hell, the name of the first real friend he has had who has not been his dad's or Sam's or Bobby's first, the friend who is dying.

All because of him.

All because Dean could not leave well enough alone, because he could not accept Sam's death, could not hold on for ten years longer, because he had to kill Lucifer and then act out against the angels. Dean is tired of seeing his family, of seeing his friends, die. So he lies to him, to Castiel, presses his hands against the jagged wound, draws a startle cry of pain from the other man and tells him that everything is going to be alright, that Raphael will be here soon and that he will fix this.

When Raphael does arrive, Castiel is still, the only sign that he is still alive is the occasional flutter of his chest as he struggles for air and Dean knows that were it not for his grace, shattered or not, the former angel would have been dead long before now. There is sorrow on the face of the blind vessel, one hand used to smooth sweat soaked dark hair from Castiel's forehead as the other pushes against Dean's hands, glowing with a light that seems to leech through the skin of joined hands as Cas gasps and opens his eyes.

Dean wants to believe that Raphael has fixed this, that Cas is going to be alright, except that the way that the hand has not moved, the way that blood still seems to be seeping between his fingers, tells Dean that the only reason Castiel is alive and conscious at the moment is because Raphael is keeping him there.

"I can save you, Little One," the archangel's voice is grave, hypnotic, "but to do so I need to fix all that is broken, you would need to return to us." It takes a moment for Dean to process what has happened, what has been offered, but he turns to Castiel, expects to see an agreement there and is surprised when he sees the beginning of stubborn refusal. He does not give Cas the chance to answer, simply turns his eyes onto Raphael and tells him to do it, he will not let Castiel die, he promised himself that it would not happen and he intends for that to be so.

He already has too much blood on his hands, literally and metaphorically, he does not want Castiel's to be added to that list of names. He understands what it would mean, he understands what Cas would lose, that he would not be able to return to the world after, that Dean may never see him again even if he, by some miracle, gets into Heaven, that he would lose all of the emotions and all of the humanity that the damaged angel has fought hard to keep. Dean knows all of that and is relieved and grieved when his friend agrees.

Raphael tells him to release his hold, summons two of his loyal cohort to take Castiel, there is a flash and when it clears there is not even a body, nothing to bury, nothing to burn, just Castiel's dark wood bow and limitless quiver of arrows. Dean picks them up when he stands and looks out over the battle ground.

"You understand that this is merely a postponement of the inevitable," Raphael tells him, also watching as hunters help angels tend to the wounded and dying of both sides. "With Lucifer defeated, one way or the other Paradise will come. It is down to you and your kind to bring that peace to this world. I wish you luck." The archangel bows his head to the hunter, throws his head back and the hunters are all forced to cover their eyes as all around them angels vacate their vessels, leaving behind confused or unconscious civilians.

Dean decides that the clean up is going to be a bitch.

The first thing he does is look for Sam and Bobby, and it feels strange to be picking through the bodies on his own when he has spent so long with either Castiel or Sam as a shadow and he feels a pang of sorrow at the thought of the angel. He finds Bobby first, sporting a nasty gash on his cheek and a broken arm, it makes him feel bad for just being bruised, although now that the adrenaline is wearing off he's certain that his breathing is as laboured as it is because he has bruised some ribs. Sam is in better condition too, gently steering Cassidy away from a mutilated body that Dean is horrified to realise belongs to Peter.

He tells them about Cas as they make their way back to the bar, tells them what Raphael said and really he should be worrying about the fact that he is supposed to usher in an age of peace and plenty, but at the moment he wants to sleep for a week, a month, a year.

Given that only about half of Black's is still standing, Dean realises that is not going to happen anytime soon. Oddly, he does not mind that thought.

People can no longer cover their eyes
If this disturbs you then walk away
You will remember the night you were struck by the sight of
Ten Thousand fists in the air

Ten Thousand fists in the air
Ten Thousand fists in the air

Reviews are little Castiels that fly above our heads and mini Deans under the bed. A small Sam in hand and a tiny John by the chair, a review that can show how much you care.

Artemis