Okay guys, last chapter here. :(
It's been two weeks since Seraphiel…passed. Castiel keeps reminding Sam and Dean that he didn't die, God just took him back.
It's all the same to Dean. Dead or not, the angel won't be coming back.
After God left no one spoke for a long time. Nothing could be said. Yes, God did finally show up, but that meant He'd been aware of what was going on and He didn't do anything about it. If anything was worse than an absent father, it's knowing for certain that the absent father doesn't care enough to stop his sons from killing each other. Before it was speculated that He was dead and couldn't help. Now there was no excuse. He just...didn't care. There were mixed feelings from everyone at His appearance and with what happened to Seraphiel. There was no trace of the angel or Charlie in the body when everything settled down. Seraphiel always kept Charlie's soul safe inside of him, tucked away in his grace, even while he was suffering from the effects of Lucifer's dagger. Castiel said that the empty vessel left behind meant God led Charlie's soul to Heaven.
Castiel doesn't know where Seraphiel went.
Sam asked Gabriel what he wanted to do with the body since he was the closest to Seraphiel. The archangel's gaze flitted over to the corpse on the cot and then he glared at Sam with cold and stony eyes, his features iced over like a glacier.
"That's not my brother," he spat, and for a second the shadow of arched wings flickered along the walls and a current of electricity rippled through the air. No one could blame him for being angry.
He vanished after that. They haven't heard from him since.
They asked Castiel the same question. He looked at the Winchesters blankly before he disappeared in a quiet rush of air. The next day Sam and Dean went out to the woods behind Bobby's house and they burned Charlie's body. As they watched the smoke curl and stretch to the sky like wandering fingers, they both knew it was the right thing to do.
"You have a pretty craptastic dad, Cas."
The angel is rigid and motionless in the passenger seat, smooth and cold like marble. His penetrative stare never leaves the windshield. Outside the stars sparkle faintly in the dark expanse of sky, and Dean idly notes that if he were in the city they would be impossible to see. But he and Cas are nowhere near a city. They're driving along an empty road in Iowa at two in the morning because Dean was restless and couldn't sleep. So he left Sam snoring like a fog horn at the motel and took off in the Impala. Cas followed him out of the door and wouldn't leave him alone and so here they are in the middle of nowhere.
There's an emptiness in the angel's voice that causes something to twist within Dean. Castiel shouldn't feel empty. He should feel angry. He's been busting his ass trying to preserve the world that his Father created and this is what he gets for it?
Well, that's okay, that's just fine. Dean has enough anger for the both of them.
"Yeah, a little too fucking late."
"He restored my hand and gave Charlie the peace he deserved."
Dean makes an unimpressed noise in the back of his throat and grips the steering wheel tighter. Why is he defending Him?
"Because he's my Father, Dean! You would have done the same for yours."
"Yeah? And what about Seph? Where the hell is he? Oh that's right, you don't know."
Dean doesn't notice the way Castiel coils and tenses even further, his jaw tight as he stares out at the lonely stretch of road ahead. Wasn't Seraphiel lonely?
Aren't they all lonely?
"And what about your grace? What did He do about that? Nothing. He left you out to dry."
"He told me not to stray from my path, Dean. That I am on it for a reason," Cas grits out, cutting steely blue eyes at the hunter.
"Yeah, well, fuck that. He hasn't helped us at all as far as I'm concerned. Lucifer is out, we don't know where the fuck Seraphiel is, or if he even exists anymore, and your grace is going to fizzle out. Again. Everything is peachy, fucking peachy."
Dean turns his head and finds himself alone.
"Fuck," he mutters.
Dean keeps on driving down that lonely road.
"Sam, I have breakfast."
Dean tosses a bag full of donuts on the table and sets down two cups of coffee. Sam rushes out of the bathroom and descends on the food, devouring two glazed donuts and starting on a third before Dean can sit down and take off his boots.
"Really good, Dean," Sam says between bites.
Dean rolls his eyes and sips at his coffee, focusing his bleary gaze on the vomit colored wall in front of him. Sam swallows the last of his donut and stares at his brother, noting the dark circles under his eyes and his drooping shoulders.
"You okay, man?" Sam ventures.
"Yeah." Dean doesn't look at him.
"Yes, Sam," Dean snaps.
Sam gives up. He drums his fingers against the warm side of his coffee cup. Then he gets an idea and he yawns loudly, mouth open wide as he stretches his arms over his head. A few seconds later Dean is yawning too, and Sam smiles discretely to himself.
"It's too bright in here," Sam says and he moves to draw in the curtains, yawning again for good measure. Dean is watching him with narrowed eyes, but he doesn't say anything. "I'm going to get a shower, okay?"
The sound of running water always puts Dean to sleep. Sure enough, when Sam steps out of the shower Dean is strewn across his bed, dead to the world. Sam nudges Dean's arm back onto the bed from where it was hanging over the side. He leaves a note for when his brother wakes up and then he heads out the door, shutting it softly behind him.
There is a park that Sam ends up walking to. It's a beautiful day outside and for a second Sam feels like one of ordinary people strolling through the grass who worry about normal things, like paying bills and what to wear on first dates. Not Lucifer roaming free or demons or the fact that in a few months this park might not be here anymore. Sam desperately belives that it won't come to that. Yes, Lucifer is free and God doesn't care, but there's still hope. There has to be. Sam takes a seat on a bench in front of a playground. The kids are loud and energetic, as they should be. Sam wasn't allowed to act like that when he was little. It caused too much attention. A frown spreads across Sam's face as he remembers what barely constitutes for a childhood. He supposes it could have been worse. Much worse.
"Hey, look out!"
Sam snaps out of his thoughts and catches a red frisbee before it sails over his head.
"Whoa, nice catch!" A boy with messy dark hair grins at Sam. Sam smiles back and hands over the toy, ruffling the kid's hair.
"Be careful, okay kid?"
The boy nods and says, "You too."
They stare at each other and Sam feels a distinct tingle race across his spine. But then the moment is gone and the boy is running back towards his friends, waving his hand in the air. Sam stares after him, confused.
When Sam lets himself back in the motel room Dean is still sleeping and Castiel is sitting on the bed next to him, one hand on his forehead. The angel looks at Sam briefly before turning back to Dean.
"He was having a nightmare."
Sam nods and shrugs out of his jacket, setting on the back of a chair.
Castiel continues to stare at Dean as he wards away the images that plague the hunter's mind. For some reason that the angel can't fathom he can never stay mad at Dean for long. Castiel removes his hand turns to face Sam. The younger Winchester has come a long way since the demon blood. Castiel can still see the yearning in his gaze sometimes, but Castiel is pleased that Sam does not act on it. Castiel doesn't think Sam or Dean can handle another relapse.
"How have you been, Cas?" Sam sits down on the chair and stretches his legs out.
"I am fine," the angel says evenly, subconsciously straightening as Sam gives him the I-know-you're-bullshitting-me look. Castiel sighs, quickly figuring out that Sam is just as stubborn as Dean. "I am somewhat weary from recent events," he admits. Sam nods.
"I know, man. Me too." He shifts, folding his arms across his chest. "Hey. Uh…sorry about…y'know, not being there. Maybe –"
"Do not blame yourself for any of this, Sam. You have fought your own battle and won. That is…more than I can say for myself."
Sam knows that bitter tone from being around Dean his whole life. Of all Dean's traits that could have rubbed off on Castiel, why does it have to be the self loathing? Obviously the angel needs a pep talk, and since Dean is knocked out Sam supposes it's up to him.
"Hey, don't do that, Cas. You've helped us a lot, and we do appreciate it, despite what Dean may say sometimes. You know he can be a major dick."
"Yes, I have noticed. Typical Dean-like behavior," he murmurs as an afterthought.
"What was that?"
Castiel shakes his head. "Nothing. Thank you for this...talking. I feel a little better now. I do not understand why Dean detests it so much."
Sam laughs. "That's just how he is. But, uh, you sure you're okay?"
"Okay. So…the whole…God…thing. What do you think we should do?"
"We continue on our path. Lucifer must be stopped. He is in a weakened state right now and he won't be able to cause any more problems for a while. We must use this time wisely." Castiel turns to Dean as he mumbles something in his sleep. The angel tilts his head. "Watch over your brother," he says before he blinks out of Sam's sight.
Sam wishes he could say the same to Castiel. Instead he grabs a book and waits for Dean to get up.
Dean awakes with a snort hours later, jerking himself upright and looking around the room in confusion. Where the hell is he? All the rooms look the same to him...
He turns to see Sam is sitting on his bed with back propped against the headboard, focused on his laptop. He looks over at Dean and then back at the screen.
"I never thought you'd wake up, sleepyhead."
Dean grunts and rubs at his eyes.
"Cas gave me the magic finger, didn't he? Always feel like this when he gives me the finger." He's mumbling about fog and mud as he shuffles towards the bathroom.
"Cas says Lucifer is weakened and that we should use our time wisely," Sam calls. He hears Dean flush the toilet and the sound of running water. Seconds later Dean emerges from the bathroom and plops himself down on his bed again, on his back as he stares up at the ceiling.
"Can't believe Seph didn't ice that son of a bitch," Dean mutters to himself. Sam is silent. He closes his laptop and picks at the stiff sheets of his bed.
"Do you think…do you think Seph really went back to Heaven?"
Sam's face is hopeful as he gazes at Dean, and suddenly he's five and Dean is nine and they're thrust back into a life that seemed like it happened eons ago, where nights were spent huddled under the blankets together and where Dean was the coolest person ever because he was Sam's big brother and he could do anything.
But this Dean is different now. He can't do everything and he knows next to nothing. This Dean turns away from Sam and shrugs, staring at the ceiling but not really seeing past his own inner struggles.
"I don't know, Sam."
Dean takes a bite of his snickers and pays the cashier for gas. When he exits the store he notices a kid sitting alone on one of the benches next to the door. He pauses, the snickers bar sticking out of mouth as he glances towards his car. Sam is asleep against the door of the Impala. Chewing slowly, Dean makes up his mind and sits next to the kid, offering him a bag of M&Ms. The boy, no more than ten, looks up at him with honey colored eyes. He accepts the candy and flashes a gap toothed grin at Dean.
Dean nods and finishes the rest of his own candy.
"So…what are you doing out here? Alone. At ten' o clock at night."
The boy pops some of the M&Ms in his mouth and then stops abrubtly, a sound of pleasant surprise spilling out of his mouth as he begins to devour the candy.
"I'm waiting on my dad. He'll be back soon," he says after he swallows another handful of the candy.
Dean scans the empty lot of the gas station.
"Shouldn't you be somewhere safer?"
The kid shakes his head, still chewing obnoxiously.
"My dad keeps me safe. He'll be here soon and then we're going home."
Dean sighs and sets the bag full of snacks on the ground in front of him.
"I'll wait with you."
The boy smiles at Dean, looking up at him through messy black bangs.
"Okay." The two wait in silence before the kid speaks again. "You look tired." Dean huffs out a laugh.
"Yeah. You could say that." Dean eyes the kid and leans back against the bench. "What's your name anyway?"
Dean quirks an eyebrow. "Okay…I'm Dean."
"I know." Amadeus empties the bag in his mouth, shaking it when no more of the candy falls out. Disappointed, he looks at Dean, who is staring suspiciously back at him.
"Who or what the hell are you?"
Amadeus smiles and turns back to staring at the gas pumps.
"Hey! Answer me!"
The boy tips his head back and kicks his feet. "It doesn't matter who I am. All that should matter are the people close to you. Do they matter to you, Dean?"
This conversation has officially gotten weird for Dean. He inches away from the kid and reaches for his bag.
"If they do matter then you'll stop pushing them away when they need you the most. They can't do this without you. It has to be you."
Dean's head swivels towards the not-boy and their eyes lock. Amadeus' gaze is intense and focused solely on Dean. That's...really creepy. And completely familiar.
"This is a war, Dean Winchester. You are a general."
Dean is gaping at Amadeus and everything is moving so goddamn fast-
"There's my father! Bye, Dean!"
Father? That means…
Dean's head whips around and his eyes dart around the empty gas station. There's nothing but the Impala. He turns back towards the kid and finds the space next to him empty. Dean stands and exhales a shaky laugh.
"You made it, you sneaky son of a bitch."
After speaking with Sam, Castiel decides to visit the same monastary that Seraphiel took him to. It is oddly comforting in a way. Castiel finds himself spending more and more time with the Winchesters, so being by himself is rare and...different. He has abandoned his search for God and he doesn't know what to do with himself, so he makes himself useful to the Winchesters whenever he can. The brothers seem to be doing alright as they stumble and trip through the seemingly inevitable ending of the world. One is always there to catch the other, and Castiel is grateful that they were able to repair their relationship, even if it will never be as strong as it once was. They are trying, and so Castiel will too.
He blinks and his surroundings change. He is now at an empty gas station. Castiel turns around and is met with the eyes of his brother.
"Hello, Castiel." Michael's voice is smooth as he studies his younger brother. "I have come to tell you that Seraphiel has returned to Heaven. He wished for me to let you know."
Relief that Castiel didn't know he needed floods through him and looks gratefully at Michael.
"Thank you, brother. Does that mean…"
"No. Father is not with us."
The two angels stare at each other. Castiel readies himself to return to the Winchesters, but at Michael's voice he halts.
"I know Father has told you to continue on your path, Castiel. But I will not stray from mine either. Dean and Sam will say yes and I will destroy Lucifer, because that is what is destined to happen."
Castiel takes in the resolute features of Michael and then vanishes.
He appears next to Dean, who happens to be in the bathroom shaving. At the angel's startling appearance Dean nicks himself with the blade.
"Ow! Damn it, Cas!"
"I apologize, Dean."
Castiel touches the cut on Dean's cheek and the wound heals itself.
"It feels funny when you do that." Castiel simply stares at him. Dean sets down the razor and sighs. "Cas."
Castiel steps back and clears his throat.
"I was just visited by Michael. Seraphiel has returned to Heaven."
"I know." Dean steps around Castiel and moves to sit on his bed. The angel cants his head to the side and trails behind the hunter. Sam looks up from a book and waves at him.
"Hey, Cas. Did you know Seph made it home?"
Castiel frowns. "Yes. I wasn't aware that you were...also aware."
"Dean spoke with him."
At Castiel's questioning look Dean smiles sheepishly.
"I meant to tell you, but you were…wherever you go when you're not with us. He was a little kid, dude. Said he was waiting on God."
"Did he tell you anything else?"
Dean laces up his boots and zips his duffel bag.
"Nah. Now come on, let's get out of here."
Sam grabs his things and snags Dean's coffee as he heads out the door. Dean shoulders his bag and looks back at Castiel.
"Hey, uh, sorry about...you know, earlier. I was...uh..."
"Being a dick," Castiel finishes, smiling without really smiling at Dean. The hunter chuckles and claps Castiel on the back.
"Exactly. Now, you coming or what?"
Dean follows Castiel out the door and into the warm light of a new day. There may be a war going on, but as long they stick together, Dean believes that eventually, the right will outweigh the wrong.
The end! For real this time.
I never thought this story would ever be this long, or that I'd add a totally new angel in it. This has been a great first multichaptered fic for me and I thank all of you for your continued support. It really wouldn't have been as fun without all of you.
So...until next time! :)