With These Broken Wings (Take Flight) 1/3
There is no pain.
After the flash, when he displaces himself to displace the others and to allow Dean and Sam their suicide mission to retrieve their brother, there is nothing.
He can feel none of his brethren around him, can feel nothing but empty space.
He waits for Michael to call for him, to punish him for attempting to stand between him and his chosen vessel; he waits for Lucifer to call for him to punish him for trying to stop Sam from saying yes.
He wonders if it is done yet. If his brothers have fought, have left he world in a bloody shambles.
No call comes and he waits, he is so very tired and while there is no pain he thinks that if he makes movements to go back there will be.
The first indication that he is not alone comes when something wraps him in warmth and love. It is the vaguest sort of familiarity.
He can feel the brush of wings against what would be his back, they tickle the side of his face and he curls in on himself and waits for reprimands and punishment.
He can not tell which of his brothers has been sent for him.
"You're a mess and a half," he hears murmured against the side of his neck and it startles him enough that he twists and turns.
He is allowed that and Gabriel smirks down at him before pressing fingers against his forehead.
The room he wakens to is filled with color and noise.
It takes long moments while he blinks away the forced sleep for him to become aware enough to gauge how injured he still is. When he is finally fully aware of his surroundings he can feel the rough sheets against his bare skin, can feel the pain of the sigil that he had voluntarily cut into his own chest.
Can hear Gabriel and Sam arguing in low tones.
There is no noise from Dean and Castiel is grateful that Sam, at least, is continuing to say no.
When he focuses on the direction the noise is coming from he sees Gabriel and Sam standing toe to toe and a short distance away…
It startles a noise out of him, because he is not expecting to see Dean Winchester sitting slumped in a chair, arms crossed over his chest, head leaned back, eyes closed.
The bruises and marks that Castiel had left on his skin in anger are still there.
Dean Winchester has not allowed Michael access.
Not yet anyway.
Gabriel has them spirited away, hidden from both Heaven and Hell and Castiel does not ask what he is hiding them in exchange for.
He has not asked for anything from him, and if he is asking anything of Dean and Sam it is something that they are giving willingly enough. It is not his place to question.
Dean does not say anything, he smirks and talks in quiet tones to Sam, he and Gabriel will exchange snarky one liners, and he will disappear outside to talk to Bobby or other Hunters; but to Castiel he has been largely silent.
He watches him but will not say anything.
Castiel wonders how they had escaped the Waiting Room; there is no sign of the half-Winchester brother so he wonders if the boy was returned to heaven or if the brothers had never made it into the room to free him. He doesn't ask, Dean is already teetering too close to the edge of saying yes to Michael; he does not want to push him any further.
Dean disappears most mornings, Castiel wakes and he always finds Sam and Gabriel arguing over coffee but Dean is never there.
He has checked the room that Dean has claimed as his own but though the covers are disturbed like someone had just been sleeping there moments before, Dean is never there.
He does not ask; even in his guise as Trickster, even though he has been far removed from Heaven's embrace for more years then Castiel can remember; Gabriel as Archangel still outranks him and if Gabriel is not concerned then Castiel need not be concerned.
Castiel is concerned; he thinks he hides it well.
He sits on the back porch; the sun is out and there is a patch of it that warms him.
"You're like a cat," Gabriel says, he sits down next to him and leans back, elbows propping him up. "What are we waiting for?"
"Dean Winchester has not returned," Castiel says.
He thinks he has been very patient, Dean was, of course, gone when Castiel finished resting; in days past he had returned by lunch, today is the first where he has not.
"Probably got a bit in town," Gabriel says. He still does not seem worried.
Dean does not return by dinner and the calls that Sam places to his phone are not answered. Sometime between the fifth and sixth call it is turned off, whether by Dean's hand or someone else's, and the calls go directly to his voice mail.
"Zachariah is gone," Sam says and Castiel looks at him in askance. "Who would have taken his place?"
"What do you mean, Zachariah is gone?" Gabriel asks with narrowed eyes, Castiel looks over at him and he seems as unknowing at what had transpired between the brothers Winchester and Zachariah as Castiel.
"Dean killed him, in that room," Sam says, he looks down at the phone in his hand. It is silent and still.
"He can't have," Gabriel says.
"Only an angel can kill another angel," Castiel adds in a quiet voice. Gabriel nods in agreement and Sam looks between them, there is a look of dawning horror on his face.
"What happened? The key is in the details," Gabriel says. "So be explicit."
"He'd just said yes," Sam says, he is still looking between them and his phone and Castiel can see that his hand is trembling. "Zachariah had done some ritual thing. To call Michael and Dean said," Sam clears his throat.
"He winked at me and he told Zachariah that he had some conditions, that Michael had to kill him, Zachariah first and Zachariah, he, well he told Dean that Michael wouldn't do that and Dean said that he would and he," Sam looks at Castiel.
"He had that knife of yours and he stabbed him and… I closed my eyes, because, well I still wanted to have eyes when it was all said and done and when I opened them Dean was there and Zachariah wasn't. We got out of the room before Michael got there, but Adam… Michael probably took Adam in place of Dean."
"I had my knife," Castiel says, he is cold suddenly and unsure of what is going on. "I never gave it to Dean."
"And Michael wouldn't have needed to be called to take Dean," Gabriel says. "The moment that Dean said yes and meant it Michael would have been able to take him, there's no summoning involved."
He rubs a hand over his face and when he withdraws it he looking at the door.
"We're missing something," Gabriel says.
"He's been here, with us for the last week," Sam says. "Wouldn't we know if, you know, he was one of you?"
"Not necessarily," Gabriel says.
"He would at least have to know," Castiel states. "Especially if he were going to attempt to mask his presence here."
"You think Michael is already is already wearing him… don't you? Why would he…? He just made the decision and the angels didn't even know, they'd pulled the Adam card trying to lure him into it, he let Castiel beat the shit out of him… when would he…"
Gabriel shakes his head and Castiel tries to remember the last time that he felt Michael's presence, it has been a number of years, but Michael's Grace is hard to forget.
Gabriel was one of Michael's closest compatriots; he, at the very least, should be able to determine if Michael walks among them in Dean Winchester's skin and if he calls Michael should answer.
Dean returns at dusk, he does not look any worse for wear, does not look like he was in a fight that kept him from returning in time for lunch.
They all stare at him and Castiel can tell that Gabriel is pushing and pulling and searching for some sign that Michael resides within Dean.
"Got something on my face?" Dean asks, his lips quirk and he wipes at his chin as if to wipe away something.
"Where were you?" Sam asks finally to break the silence.
"You need me to explain the birds and the bees to you again, Sammy?" Dean asks, a familiar smirk settles on his face, though it does not settle the feeling that there is something amiss that has taken up residence in Castiel's stomach.
Sam insists on calling Chuck once they determine that Dean is gone again the next morning. Gabriel wants to try and track him; Castiel thinks that if Michael doesn't want to be found, he will not be found.
Sam insists that they can maybe glean much more information from Chuck then having Gabriel fail at finding Dean.
There is a phone in the living room that can be made to talk without the speaker and Gabriel paces the edges of the room while Sam leans over it.
"Chuck?" Sam asks and Castiel can hear the Prophet Chuck laugh, it sounds forced.
"Wow, déjà vu, I kind of just finished writing this conversation," he says, there is no more laughter in his voice, forced or otherwise, that Castiel can hear. "I don't know," he says. "I know what you guys want to know, but I just… I'm not getting Dean anymore and I looked back over the last couple of books and I've not been really getting him for a while."
"You are not seeing Dean Winchester in your prophecies any longer?" Castiel asks. He looks at Gabriel and Gabriel has his arms crossed over his chest and he will leave soon to attempt to track the angel masquerading as Dean Winchester.
If it is not Michael… it has to be Michael, Castiel decides. It has to be, because no other Angel would attempt to take Dean knowing that he is Michael's chosen host. He wonders why Michael has not unmasked himself, why he continues to hide his presence while within Gabriel's walls.
"No, no I see him just fine; I just, I don't get his motivations anymore. I see everything he's doing I just don't know why he's doing it," Chuck sounds disturbed by the fact.
"He killed Zachariah," Chuck says. "I don't know where the knife came from because as far as I can tell he didn't have it when he went into the waiting room and when he killed him," Chuck goes quiet, clears his throat finally.
"He looked right at him," Chuck says. "He stared at him and, 'he watches as Zachariah's Grace explodes from within the hosts body, the white light reflecting in his eyes, he doesn't flinch, he doesn't look away. Not until the last bit of the Grace is gone'," he says. Castiel knows that Chuck is reading from whatever last bit he'd gotten down, whether it be from paper or from memory.
It doesn't matter, the impact is the same.
Castiel looks at where Sam has his head in his hands, looks at where Gabriel is staring at a wall. Michael and Gabriel were as close as brothers and the rumor mill which Castiel tried to ignore had insinuated for centuries that prior to Gabriel's leaving that had been even closer then that.
"He shouldn't have been able to do any of those things," Chuck says finally.
It is a vast understatement.
Dean returns that night, right after the evening meal has been eaten. Sam has saved a plate for him and he pokes and prods at the food but does not eat.
"Not hungry?" Gabriel queries, he is watching closely, Castiel knows that he is looking for any signs of Michael (or any other angel) within the skin of Dean's body.
"I ate in town, was nice of you to save me a plate though," Dean says. Sam makes a noise from where he has his back to them. Castiel watches Dean stretch, watches as he links his fingers together and cracks his knuckles.
"Gonna go watch some TV," he stands and leaves the plate sitting mostly untouched in the middle of the table.
Castiel looks to Gabriel and he is watching Dean depart with narrowed eyes.
Castiel is in the shadows, he does not think that Dean (or whatever is within Dean's skin) knows that he is there. Though maybe he is aware and just does not care.
Gabriel comes out the front door and he stands there, illuminated by the lights from within the house.
"Something you want to say?" Dean asks. He is leaning against one of the poles on either side of the steps up onto the porch. He does not turn to face Gabriel, in fact he sounds bored.
"Where are you going during the day?" he asks. It is not the question that Castiel thought that he would ask first. Though he has more rights to the answer then even Sam does.
"I think that's kind of private, dude."
Gabriel's lips thin and Castiel wonders if he should make his presence known.
"I think I have more rights to the answer then anyone else," Gabriel says, there is a hint of anger in his voice. Castiel has heard him angry when talking to the Winchesters before, this is a different tone of anger; this one has almost a ring of betrayal to it.
Dean turns at that and he looks bored, though his eyes are dark. "What rights do you think you can possibly have over where I spend my time?"
"I think I have bond rights," Gabriel says, he reaches out as if to touch Dean and Dean slaps his hand away. "That's what I thought."
He grabs a fist of Dean's t-shirt and yanks him forward. The kiss is hard and brutal; when Dean pushes him away finally Castiel can see blood on Gabriel's lips and anger flashing in Dean's eyes.
Castiel can see the truth of it, even with Dean storming into the house as if the hounds of hell are nipping at his heels.
Dean had kissed Gabriel back, and just for the barest of seconds while they had been kissing Castiel had seen the flash of Grace from within Dean. Quickly hidden, quickly smothered, but completely unmistakable even from just that brief glimpse.
He comes out of the shadows and Gabriel has fingers pressed to his mouth. He looks…
"He shouldn't be able to do that," Gabriel says. "Unless that body is completely and utterly his, he shouldn't be able to hide his presence like that."
Castiel nods and puzzle pieces begin to slot into place.
He does not think he has them all yet but he has a feeling that whoever Zachariah had been getting his orders from, whoever he had been trying to get into Dean's body, it had not been Michael.
Because Michael had already been there, maybe not awake, not fully, not then.
But he is now.
"He doesn't trust us," Gabriel says. He sounds almost hurt by that fact.