Fairly cracktastic take on the events following the season 5 finale. Although this story is mostly gen, there are definite Dean/Castiel parts. Uh.

Hope you enjoy?

Negotiating with Terrorists

(and Other Post-Apocalyptic Adventures)

Heaven is just as much of a mess as Castiel had feared it would be. Angelic riots are burning their way through all of the 2nd century AD deaths, and there are millions of perplexed Romans whose memories of catacomb church services and heated bathhouses suddenly became filled with Enochian profanities.

The metaphysical arch-Forum goes up in flames and from thousands of different realities come the screams of terrified souls. "Nathaniel," Castiel says firmly, "please cease your ragings," and the angel of fire has the decency to look contrite.

Over in second-century Greece, Nuriel is whipping up a hailstorm against Zadkiel and Jophiel that threatens to obliterate Olympia. With Michael gone, Samael is trying to wheedle Selaphiel and Azrael into making a bid for supremacy. Metatron and Sandalphon are flying about in a panic, trying to quell the fires, and Raphael has taken to smiting anything that gets too close.

"ENOUGH," Castiel says, and for a moment is as stunned by the power of his voice as the rest of the Host, who all turn to look at him with wide metaphysical eyes. It's almost comical, Raphael frozen with one hand extended toward Leliel, Muriel clinging to Maion, and Ramiel twitching as the last echoes of her thunder ripple away across Macedonia and Asia Minor.

"PEACE, BROTHERS AND SISTERS," Castiel continues, really just making this up as he goes. He must give his thanks to Dean for that. "THE APOCALYPSE HAS ENDED. THIS IS NO TIME FOR FIGHTING."

"Wait," Raziel says, from somewhere near Britain. "Weren't you powerless, like, twelve earth hours ago?"

Castiel shrugs. "APPARENTLY—" he coughs. "Apparently our Father plays favorites." He lets that sink in for a moment, and hides a metaphysical smirk when Raphael's face goes brittle and angry. "I have come to be...the 'new sheriff,' as my comrade put it."

Raphael has had enough. "Comrade? You mean Dean Winchester, the human you abandoned Heaven to have carnal relations with all over 21st century America?"

In an instant Castiel is next to Raphael, and in the next Raphael has been flung, dazed, straight to 6th century BC Israel.

Castiel smiles serenely. "ANYBODY ELSE?"

The Host just shake their collective metaphysical heads, and that's that.

Dean stays with Lisa and Ben for about two weeks before Lisa corners him in the kitchen one day with a curt "you need to leave."

"Wha…?" Dean says, mouth full of Kix. The bus came for Ben about twenty minutes before, and Dean had just rolled out of bed, expecting Lisa to have already headed off for work.

Lisa leans against the counter, arms folded across her chest. "You're depressing, Dean. The whole broken-tough-guy thing can be hot when you're twenty and looking for an adventure, but I'm in my thirties now and I've got a kid to look after and frankly, you're not as quiet when you cry as you think you are."

Dean maybe chokes a bit on a piece of cereal.

"Also," Lisa adds, "it's insulting to my not-unimpressive skills in bed to hear you keep saying 'Cas' all the time."

This time he definitely chokes on a piece of cereal.

After a few minutes of Lisa thumping him on the back, he prepares to respond with a counter-argument. This is cut short when she hands him his duffle bag with everything inside freshly washed and neatly folded. He blinks at it, then blinks at her.

"I'll tell Ben you had important monster-slaying business you needed to get back to," she says as she leads him to the front door. "He'll understand."

This is how Dean finds himself on the front step of Lisa's house once more, but this time headed in the opposite direction. Lisa smiles, a bit sadly. "Bye, Dean," she says, and reaches up to kiss him softly on the forehead. "Come back some time, when you're better. Or don't. Either way." And then she shuts the door.

Well fuck, Dean thinks, as he slides into the driver's seat of the Impala.

"I cannot believe you blew that!" Sam groans, later.

(Much later, after they catch a glimpse of each other in a library in Minnesota, both hunting the same wendigo. They'd then been thrown out of said library for the explosion of "OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU HERE"s that had erupted. Sam was all, "I think God pulled me out of hell?" and Dean was all "...Lisa kicked me out" and Dean maybe kinda beat the shit out of Sam a little for letting him keep thinking he was eternally trapped in hell instead of free and walking the earth, because only little bitches don't tell their brother that they aren't devil-condoms anymore.)

Dean shrugs.

He's happier driving seven hundred miles in a day with Princess Sammy practicing his bitchfaces in the passenger seat than he ever was shacking up with Lisa and Ben, no matter how much he thought he'd grow to like it. Like hell he's telling that to Sam, though, and if he can't infer it from the super-awesome Cobb salad Dean went out of the way to buy him for dinner, that's his own problem.

Castiel looks up from the scroll of tidings he had been reading and frowns. "Jegudiel, did I not send you out to make peace in the 21st century realms?"

Jegudiel looks a little frazzled, and all the feathers in his wings have been knocked askew. "You did, brother. There is a, um, problem in the precinct of American Deaths, 2005-2010."

Castiel narrows his eyes.

Rehael also reappears looking worse for wear when Castiel sends him out there. Sofiel goes missing completely, and is only found later in 12th century Ireland. When the other angels bring her back to Castiel, she only whimpers "so many banishing sigils, so many banishing sigils..." over and over.

"Oh, shit," Castiel sighs, and the rest of the Host shoot each other slightly scandalized looks.

Sam is out grabbing pizza when Castiel materialized with that familiar rush of wind. It's been almost a month since the showdown with Lucifer and Michael, and Dean is almost embarrassed by how excited he is to see the angel.

"Cas, man, where have you been?" Dean asks, getting all up in his personal space. Just as he's about to pull Castiel in for...for something (look, saying "for a kiss" sounds so girly, okay?), the angel frowns. "There are problems in Heaven."

"Yeah, that's pretty normal, from what I gather," Dean grumbles, irked that this is a business trip and not some sort of angelic booty call.

"No, you misunderstand me. A man named Ash—I believe you are acquainted—has amassed a force of souls and is slowly carving pieces of Heaven out and marking them so that none of the Host can enter them. It is causing...great distress in the ranks."

Dean blinks, then laughs. "Oh, dude, that's awesome. Taking you guys out, are they?"

Castiel scowls. "It is more serious than think. We're on the edge of a revolt. Dean, I am going to kill you momentarily so that you may go and speak some sense into your deceased compatriots."

"Whoa, whoa, Cas, I think I've already died enou—" Dean sputters before Castiel lays a palm on his chest and he suffers a massive heart attack.

Dean wakes up with his eight-year-old brother wrapped around his waist, thanking him for the day at the carnival. Sammy's hands are sticky from caramel apples, and there is a joy in his eyes that hurts Dean somewhere deep in his belly.

"Hate to interrupt this touching scene," Ash drawls from behind him, "but we've got work to do."

Dean turns halfway around, and Ash's already opened a portal back to the Roadhouse. He gets bodily dragged through it, and wow, okay, no wonder Cas had a problem settling this part of Heaven.

Pamela's there, still, and she shoots him a wink from across the bar. Serving up drinks are Ellen and Jo, with a practiced efficiency that attested to their capabilities as hunters, and a guy Dean can only assume is Bill is cleaning glasses. But from there the faces become more and more surprising. Caleb salutes with two fingers from where he's playing pool with Pastor Jim. Isaac makes a rueful face at him from near the door, and Victor and Nancy are comparing notes on demons in a booth. Nancy smiles at Dean shyly, and Victor just nods. There's a woman he vaguely remembers as Olivia Lowry, except now she's not a corpse. Jess waggles her eyebrows at him in a "can you believe this?" gesture from her seat at the bar. Richie winks at him, and Dean grimaces an apology to a guy he's pretty sure is Steve Wandell, but since he only got a good look at him on the security tape of Sam killing him, he's not sure. There are over a dozen others lounging around, almost all of them with the sharp postures and raw self-restraint that screamed hunter, but they're unknown to Dean.

"My Dream Team," Ash says with no small amount of pride while Dean is looking is looking around agape. "And you know who else I found? Your daddy, for one—although I tend to keep him out running missions, because he really pisses half these people off—and your ma. She was a bit harder to snag. Did you know Heaven's organized by date? Had no idea I had to find the '80s before finding Mary Winchester."

"Dude," Dean breathes. Every wall is covered with maps and diagrams and sigils and mathematical calculations. The Roadhouse is apparently base camp for Team We're Gonna Fuck Your Shit Up, Heaven.

Ash leads Dean over to the bar and sits him down. "Now Dean, don't take this too hard, but you're dead. But the fight? It ain't over. Heaven's as full of dickish sons of bitches as Hell, and it's on us to stop 'em from doing their part to bring about the end of the world."

Dean swats at him. "I know I'm dead! I'm here to talk to you guys!"

Everybody in the Roadhouse gets real quiet. "That so?" Bill asks, warily. "'bout what, son?"

Dean feels the sudden change in demeanor. If he weren't already dead, he'd be afraid he was about to get shanked. "You, uh, you gotta stop fighting, you're just causing trouble..." he says, hesitantly.

"Dean," Castiel says from the door. "Have you convinc—" He never gets a chance to finish this sentence because John Winchester suddenly appears behind him and slaps the banishing sigil painted on the door, and poof, there goes Cas.

"Damn angels," he grunts, stepping through the doorway, Mary following him. He double-takes at Dean, then lumbers over to give him a once-over. He does that particular sigh thing he always starts sentences with when he doesn't quite know what to say. "Good to see you, Dean," he mutters. "Considering the circumstances."

"Uh. Huh. I mean, uh-huh. Yeah, you too, Dad," Dean says, willing his posture not to lock to attention, willing himself not to think about the conflicting floods of adoration and resentment. Mary gives him a big hug, though, and that is not confusing at all. It's just warm and soft and everything he thinks deep down he's ever wanted, and for a second he's glad there aren't any angels around to read his mind.

Pastor Jim says, "Your boy's got some agenda, John. Trying to get us to give up the fight. Dare say that angel you just sent off was with him."

John turns suspicious eyes on Dean. "That so?" he asks.

"Well, the angel was definitely with him," somebody says from behind them, and Dean turns.

"Cas?" he asks, perplexed.

"Try again," Jimmy snorts, elbows propped up on the bar. To the rest of the Roadhouse, he added, "that was definitely Castiel, because he seems to still be wearing a me-suit. Next time, let me have a go with the banishing."

"My," Dean says, "aren't we vindictive."

"We," Jimmy retorts, "tried to live a devout life, believe in God, and have faith in the unknowable. Then we ended up ruining our family's life and getting exploded."

Dean grimaces.

"Don't mind him," Jess says, leaning across the bar towards Dean. "He's taking his loss of faith pretty hard. Knows some neat tricks for getting rid of angels, though!"

"Okay, well, I think Cas is going to be back pretty soon. Could we please not attack him this time until we've said our piece?" Dean says, and he can feel the disapproval radiating from everyone in the room.

"Look, Dean," Ash says. "These angels want the apocalypse to happen as much as old man Lucifer himself. Now, for whatever reason, they've fallen into some sort of helter-skelter each-for-himself fight, and we've gotta take initiative here. If we strike quick enough, we might even be able to take the Garden, use it as a bargaining chip."

Dean sighs. "Where were you guys last month, honestly?"

"Have you people put banishing traps and wards on every single heaven between 1999 and here?" Castiel says from the doorway, looking a little worse for the wear. "That would be quite impressive if it wasn't so very frustrating for me."

Several hunters snicker.

Castiel glares around, obviously debating whether or not the use of angelic powers would get him more respect or less. His gaze stops on Jimmy, however, then he's moving through the Roadhouse directly towards him.

"What are you doing here?" Castiel asks, looking mildly bewildered.

Jimmy rolls his eyes. "Well, someone got my body disintegrated by an archangel, so."

Cas frowns. "Oh. Hm. My apologies, I must've forgotten with everything else happening. Give my greetings to Claire. And thank you for the introduction to cheeseburgers, by the way."

Jimmy's face contorts from resentment to something approaching utter confusion. "What are you talking ab—" he manages, and then Castiel presses a hand to his head and Jimmy vanishes.

And, in the next moment, Castiel himself is blown away by a banishing sigil Caleb slaps a hand across, and Dean brings a palm to his forehead sharply. "He was sending him back to earth, guys!" he says, and Caleb takes a moment to think about that and then looks appropriately sheepish.

It takes several minutes for Castiel to make his way back through the sigil-minefield of the early aughts before he reappears in the Roadhouse, looking irritable. "Would you please stop doing that?" he growls at the room at large before straightening his coat.

"Here's the deal," Dean says, after checking Castiel over for injury. "The apocalypse is officially called off. Lucifer's sealed back up, and Michael with him. The Horsemen have...vanished, I guess. Demonic activity is falling, and Cas here is now in charge of keeping heaven in line."

John rumbles, "Just like that? It's over?"

"Yes, John Winchester," Castiel says, fixing him with that unnerving stare. "It is over. And I would appreciate cooperation—from each and every one of you—in restoring Heaven to its natural balance."

"This sucks!" Jo exclaims, pounding a fist down on the bar. "We were all prepared to overthrow this place!"

Castiel looks mildly alarmed. "Yes, I am aware. Please refrain from doing so. We only just repaired ancient Greece to a semblance of order, and Zadkiel has threatened to rebel if he has to pick up the pieces of Sparta again."

Nancy narrowed her eyes, "Wait, do you want to send us all back to our own heavens? Because I've already lived that once, and it's really not all that great. This is so much more exciting."

"That was the plan," Castiel admitted.

"Yeah, we're not going to go for that," Victor says. "How about we stop sending your altar boys to parts unknown and you give us free reign to move back and forth between each others' heavens? Seems fair."

Castiel seems to consider this, and turns to Dean. Dean shrugs at him. It seems good to him. "I suppose..." Cas says, "until I hear back with instructions from my Father, I do not see why I should have to break up your gatherings." Almost as an aside, he adds, "And I doubt they would stay broken up for long."

Mary claps him on the shoulder happily. "There you go! That's the mark of a good leader right there."

"Funny," Castiel responds dryly, "I thought negotiating with terrorists was considered a negative quality."

After a few minutes of treaty arrangements, both sides seem satisfied. "Just remember," Castiel says afterwards, "No inconveniencing the Heavenly Host or impairing them from their duty." He smirks lightly. "Without my express permission, of course."

At that, several Roadhouse denizens suddenly look uncomfortable, as though they'd just remembered an unpleasant secret.

"Does this mean we gotta let the captive go?" Steve Wandell asks, obviously speaking what everyone else had been thinking.

Castiel tilts his head. "...what captive? All of my forces are accounted for."

Ellen shrugs. "We were kinda holding on to him as a bit of leverage," she says as she walks to the storeroom and throws open the door. The orange glow of firelight spills out, and Dean and Castiel go over to peer inside.

Gabriel waves at them meekly from within the holy fire. "Hey boys," he says. "I, uh, kinda got ambushed on my way to talk some sense into these knuckleheads."

"I don't even want to know how you're alive," Dean says, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Apparently joining your little gang of freaks and geeks gets you a get-out-of-death-free card," Gabriel shrugs. "I am not looking this gift horse in the mouth. Death? Booooring."

Castiel looks contemplative, then turns to Ellen. "You can leave him in there."

"Hey!" Gabriel cries, as Cas goes to shut the door. Then, even so slowly, Castiel's mouth begins to quirk in what might actually be called a smile. "Ugh, I think I liked you better without a sense of humor."

So that's how Dean saves heaven from his own family and friends.

After a brief explanation that it wasn't actually Dean Winchester's time to die, Castiel teleports both of them out of the Roadhouse and...actually, into a motel room that Dean vaguely remembered from last fall.

"Uh," he says. "This isn't where I'm supposed to be if I'm alive."

"No," Castiel agrees. "But I thought we might take a little time to congratulate ourselves on a job well done." And with that Dean finds himself pressed against the paisley-print wallpaper, surprisingly aggressive angel attached to his face.

Dean grabs the lapels of Castiel's stupid coat, pulling him up and into him, grunting his approval. Since he's dead and all, Dean figures he shouldn't actually need to breath, but hey, old habits die hard. So eventually he has to disentangle himself from Castiel.

"You couldn't've, I dunno, just made me alive again to do this?"

Castiel huffs, long fingers shoving Dean's overshirt off his shoulders. "Hardly. You've been dead for over an hour. Sam is already back in the room, and I doubt he is much in the mood for being compromising, what with discovering your corpse recently." He pushes the neck of Dean's tee aside and tries to nibble there, but suddenly Dean's got him by the shoulders and is forcefully shoving him back.

"Wait. Wait," Dean says. "You didn't tell Sam that you were killing me to help quell a heavenly revolt?"

Castiel frowns. "No. Speed was of the essence, and I did not have the time to search through all of Portland for him."

"Send me back, send me back!" Dean flails. "Right now, Cas!"

Clinging closer and frown deepening, Castiel grouses, "Why? It has been so long since I have been able to spend any meaningful time with you."

Dean claps his hands on either side of Cas's face, shaking the angel slightly with each word to drive the message home. "Every stage of the apocalypse started with what? One Winchester dying and another freaking the fuck out!"

Castiel blanches and presses two fingers to Dean's forehead.

Within three seconds of being alive again, Dean's got all of Sammy's gigantic sasquatch limbs wrapped around him in the wettest, sloppiest hug ever, and oh, gross, he'd forgotten what a snotty crier Sam is.

This shirt is ruined.

"Finally," Castiel sighs, running his fingers up behind Dean's ears and into his hair. Dean grins ferally and nips at Cas's throat, happy he'd sent Sam out to go see Iron Man 2 and bought himself a couple of hours. "You have no idea how stressful it is, trying to hold Heaven together. It is little wonder Michael became such a..."

"Douchebag?" Dean supplies helpfully.

Castiel pulls away slightly, considering. Then he nods, apparently satisfied. "Douchebag," he repeats in confirmation.

"Well, luckily you got me to lend the human touch to things," Dean says, digging that human touch straight into the hollows of Cas's hips.

Cas growls in appreciation. "That I do."

"Hey," Dean says later, after leaving a trail of pink marks across Castiel's collarbones, "so is Heaven, like, cowed now? Who watches it if you're down here with me?"

Cas doesn't even bother to remove his mouth from Dean's neck, so his response of "I left your father in charge" is rather garbled.

Thus, Dean can be excused for replying with "what?", although the strangled tone of voice added that certain je ne sais quoi.

Castiel dislodged himself with a wet pop. "Your father, and the others. I left them in charge in my absence. I thought it was a rather clever use of resources myself."

Dean groans, and it's not the happy kind he'd been making just prior to this revelation. "Oh, man, is there, like, a purgatory I can go to instead when I die?"

Castiel just frowns in confusion.

"King of Heaven!" Ash shouts from the top of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Pastor Jim and Joshua have hit it off over theology, and Jo and Caleb are running around asking everyone what the Garden looks like to them. Ellen is busy tasting everything edible, looking for something to infuse into some vodka for new drink ideas. Bill is trying to refrain from Original Sin jokes every time she hands him a piece of fruit for his opinion. Nancy seems to have struck an unlikely friendship with Gabriel, with him thinking her quaint and not a little charming and her thinking him rude and delightfully refreshing for someone inured to orthodox teachings, and they're laughing up a storm near the spring for the Four Sacred Rivers.

John Winchester stands triumphant in the gate to the Garden, Mary snaking an arm around his waist and beaming. "You wanna go catch a Hendrix show after Dean's angel gets back?" she asks. "I had Ash scope it out. Apparently there's a guy with stageside memories not too far from here."

He turns to her and shakes his head with a grin. "Knew there was a reason I loved you, woman."

"Besides the Enochian carved on our hearts?"

"Besides that."