My novel 'Me and Mine' is now available on amazon, the link is on my profile page. As always I'm grateful for the interest, and I'm sorry for the wait for this story.
Dean doesn't even hear the angel before it strikes.
One moment he's raising his head like a dog, scenting and sensing the destruction in Hell, trying to tell if Sam is amongst the chattering, screeching wounded – then there's a sensation like ice and lightning, fire and salt as the angel sword swipes close to his skin, slashing a long, thin wound on his back like a whip stroke.
Dean turns, mouth almost unhinging, shadow stretching and writhing at the touch of the blade as he rasps out a dangerous cry. The sight that greets him is enough to take the sulphur laden air from his lungs.
The angel, a pillar of silver fire with wings of ivory plate, it's helm a peak of jet – raises it's silver dart of a sword again, rage boiling off of it like mercury.
"You will release the grace you stole." The angel booms, and the voice rings through Dean like a church bell or a rumble of thunder. "You will release my brother."
Dean shrinks back, his whole form unable to tolerate the light of the angel, pouring backwards like sentient shadows. He hisses, but he knows he is going to die a true death, that this is the end, finally. Then, the grace within him, the tattered fragment of Castiel that remains, rallies. It rises like a flag on a war ship, growing brighter and brighter until Dean is nothing but a thin shell of shadow filled with a light that does not burn, but warms – like Castiel's wings had warmed him in his cage so long ago.
An eye searing pillar of light blooms out of the shadow beside the ivory angel. White light tinged electric blue, topped by wings of pitch, armour hanging in trails of gold plate from the plumage. But Dean's eye is caught by the core of the second angel, the clawing swirl of darkness, running up against the light like furious ink. Dean's own essence.
"Castiel." The other angel breathes, awed and horrified in equal measure. "You were to remain in Heaven."
"Stand down Tamriel." Castiel's voice, his true voice, is nothing like the painful bell-like heave of angel speech – it has a low note, a beautiful sibilant hiss to Dean's ears – though the other angel shudders as if hearing nails on a chalk board.
"The demon has to die Castiel." Tamriel insists. "He has earned this fate."
And then the sword is coming towards him, and Dean cannot move fast enough to escape the light bearing down on him, the silver weapon heading straight for his heart.
Castiel's blade is with him before he even thinks of it. The familiar silver is gone, an obsidian black sword, with a keen blade and the jagged edge of a hunting knife appears instead – and Castiel knows it as his instantly. This is the weapon placed into his hand by the Dean in him. And now it will save the demon in question.
Castiel doesn't falter as he thrusts the black blade into the centre of Tamriel's seething brilliance.
The effect is electric. Tamriel screams like a thousand empty caves ploughed by the wind. The light of him dissolves, drips down and turns to blood before it hits the gory ground.
Dean is on him even before his brother has run into the cracked rocks of Hell. Demon smoke wraps around his grace, thick limbs and skin slick with blood rubbing against his light like an eager cat - and God help him it's the best thing he has ever felt, no physical pleasure was ever so complete.
"Cas." Dean breathes, and the grace in the demon leaves him with the word and makes its home once more in Castiel.
"Dean...I found you." The smoke curls with the words and flows into Dean.
The angels scattered throughout Hell let out their threnody as one, a boiling, screeching moan of anguish at the death of one brother at the hands of another. The abomination that laid a pure angel low. Castiel shivers in its wake. Angel on angel violence in the middle of a war on Hell – Heaven itself must be trembling.
"Dean!" Sam appears at his side just as Uriel, an enormous copper flame with a gold helm and deep blue wings, snaps into existence beside Castiel.
"Release the demon, brother." Uriel orders.
In that moment Dean could swear he hears the very core of Hell hold its ghastly breath.
Urial's brightness intensifies until neither Dean nor Sam can look at him.
"You killed Tamriel."
"He attacked my grace." Castiel's voice may have lost its edge of demonic hiss, but it is no less beautiful to Dean, even as Sam winces at his side. "He attacked my mate."
Uriel roars, a round of shattering rock and screaming men trapped as the water rises over them.
"He was your brother." Uriel shouts.
"He was my enemy." Castiel's voice rises above Uriel's rumbling, he flattens his jet wings to the ground and his light blazes threateningly. Dean senses the need in the angel, crouches under the shelter of that warm, living wing, nuzzling close to the light that would burn any other demon to nothing. Castiel's grace rumbles like a separate animal.
"You...are a repugnant sight." Uriel denounces Castiel darkly.
"And you are far from home." Castiel says, unwaveringly.
"May Father damn you." Uriel spits, vanishing on the tail of his words. The other angels disappear from Hell just as suddenly, both the demons and Castiel feel them go.
"I'm sure he will." Castiel muses, even as his wing nudges Dean's body closer to him. "But he shall have to return first."
Castiel looks at Sam, the King of Hell, with his featureless face if light. He bows low to the ground and Sam, decked in his red lacquer armour acknowledges the gesture of fealty with a graceful bow in return.
"I would ask your permission to take Dean back to the surface...I cannot sustain myself here."
Sam looks at his brother's shadow, curled small and humming at Castiel's side, almost invisible against the black wings.
"I will have you protected." Sam promises. "Go with him." To Castiel he says, "I trust you with his life."
"Thank you." Castiel lifts Dean, bundling him in the flowing light of his body. "You know where I am going?"
Castiel sweeps his dark wings upwards and departs from Hell, heading home, to the cave that had sheltered them from earth, heaven and hell.
Dean wakes wrapped in feathers, and that is how he knows that everything is well with him. Castiel's scent is the same vague, feathery odour it always was, mixed with a burnt sugar smell and a trace of blood. Just like home.
"You still have your wings." He murmurs, kissing the feathers, feeling the silk slips pass between his lips, tangling the horn like spines with his tongue.
"I am the last angel on earth...my grace is weak again." Castiel mutters.
"Have ceded earth to me...in my father's absence they care little for humanity...I think they see it now as my prison." His fingers stroke Dean's back, following the line down to his tail. "This I believe is Sam's doing – he wants you to remember where you came from."
"I'll always remember him." Dean says softly. "but aren't you...do you feel bad, that the angels are gone?"
"Humanity has my father...they do not deserve my brothers too." Castiel tells him.
Dean looks down at his fingers, dirty and ringed with black at the nails, but familiar. His old meat suit. He can feel the threads of grace in it, Castiel had used the last of his power to bring his body back, make him whole again.
"I will try, to deserve you." Dean says, ruffling his fingers into the soft dark down at the crux of the angel's wings.
"You've won me already." Castiel assures him. "Now...I'm yours."
On an earth almost devoid of angel's and demons, Castiel has come to believe that perhaps the hole left by his father can be filled. The humans have filled it with violence and greed, he intends to fill it with a different kind of faith. A faith in Dean, and in the love he feels for the demon. His feelings for his father had made him a slave, a soldiersubjugated by humans – Dean's love had set him free.