Castiel gave a short cry of pain when Cephas' blade pierced his right shoulder. It bit deep into the meat and muscle, jarring against the bone with breathtaking agony. Castiel jerked himself backwards, stumbling and nearly falling, but managed to pull himself off of Cephas' blade. The wound leaked blood and white light. Castiel pressed the heel of his left hand against it, trying to stem both blood and Grace. His arm dangled limply, sword barely held in numbed fingers.

Cephas made no move to attack again. He really didn't have to. With Castiel unable to use his wings to retreat, he was completely vulnerable. Cephas tilted his head as he studied Castiel with dark eyes. "Do you know why you failed here today, brother?" he asked, his vessel's Welsh accent rolling the vowels. Castiel glared and didn't reply. "It's because you limit yourself," Cephas went on. "You are always telling yourself, 'this is wrong' and 'that is right.'" He spread his arms, flinging droplets of Castiel's blood from the edge of his sword. "We are angels, Castiel. We get to decide what is right and wrong. We have no limits. No rules. This world...it belongs to us. All of it." He shook his head. "You know you could have kept them safer if you had stayed with us."

"Safer...perhaps," Castiel growled. "But not free."

Cephas shrugged. "Then die free, my friend." He lifted his sword again.

There was a quiet click from behind him. "Hey, asshole."

Cephas turned to look. Dean was standing just inside the gaping hole in the wall, holding a makeshift aerosol can in one hand. The other hand held a lighter in front of the nozzle, a tiny yellow flame burning cheerfully in the gloom. Dean pulled the trigger.

Flaming holy oil gouted across the room, engulfing Cephas in a blazing yellow fireball. The angel screamed, his voice growing shriller until it broke into his true voice. He writhed in agony, but there was no escape. His wings were useless, unable to transport himself from the holy flame consuming him.

It was over within moments. Dean eyed the corpse in the middle of the now-singed room, flames still licking over blackened muscle and charred bone. He skirted it gingerly, heading to where Castiel was curled up in a corner, hunkered as much into his coat as possible. Dean offered him a hand up. "Dude, it worked," Dean said, sounding surprised.

Castiel carefully removed the fireman's jacket as best he could with his injured arm, dropping the black-lacquered material in a heap at his feet. "I am very glad it did," he said gravely. Dean's eyes widened at the sight of blood staining the front of Castiel's shirt.

"Dude, are you okay?" he demanded, stepping forward to examine the wound. There was no longer any Grace leaking from the injury. Castiel grimaced when Dean applied too much pressure.

"For the moment. We have to hurry."

"All right," Dean said, eying Cas up and down. "Lead the way."

XxxXxxX

Amitiel collided with Sam hard enough to change their trajectory and she wrapped her arms around his chest as tightly as she could. Her wings flared on instinct but they couldn't help her, not within the perimeter. She twisted sharply, turning them around so she was on the bottom, Sam above her. Maybe if he had something soft to land on...

The two falling figures landed in one of the dumpsters with a loud crunch, a cloud of dust exploding upon impact. For a long moment nothing happened. Then Sam groaned and stirred. He opened his eyes and blinked dazedly at his new surroundings. The dumpster seemed to be filled mostly with cardboard boxes and insulation. Already his exposed skin was starting to itch. Sam lay for a while trying to figure out how the hell he'd got there when his brain finally caught up with him. He rolled over, off the slender body underneath him, and got unsteadily to his knees.

Amitiel lay on her back, arms spread-eagle. She'd fallen on a couple of four-by-fours, the wood cracked beneath her. Blood trickled from her nose. Sam leaned over her, trying to check for injuries. "Ami?" he croaked breathlessly. "Ami? Can you hear me? Ami!"

Her eyes flew open, pale as the predawn sky. "Sam," she whispered hoarsely. "Sam?"

"Mal. Hey, are you okay?" Sam demanded, running his hands down her arms and legs, searching for any breaks.

"I...I don't know," Mal gasped. "Ow! Ow, ow, ow...hurts. Dammit!" She stopped trying to stir as tears pooled in her eyes.

"What hurts?" Sam hovered over her anxiously. "Where, Mal? Tell me where it hurts."

"My back," Mal groaned, hands clenching and opening.

Sam twisted to look down at her. "Can you move your legs?" he asked frantically. Mal gasped, sobbed quietly, and obligingly twitched both her feet. "Thank God," Sam breathed, sagging in relief. "Come on. We got to get you out of here. Can you move?"

"I don't know," she said again. Sam slipped his arm under her shoulders and helped her sit up. She gave a low, strangled sob, the tears trickling down her cheeks. "Hurts..." she hissed. "God, Sam, it hurts."

"I'm sorry," he said, beginning to pull her towards the edge of the dumpster. He reached it first and hauled himself over, dropping to the ground. Every muscle in his body ached already. He was going to be sore as hell in the morning. If they survived until the morning.

Mal peeked over the edge down at him, tears dripping unheeded off her chin. "I can't..." she panted. Sam reached up towards her.

"We have to get out of here, Mal," Sam told her urgently. "Come on."

Slowly, far too slowly, Mal eased herself up and rolled over the edge into Sam's waiting arms. She was incredibly light, even completely limp in his grasp. She had never regained the weight she'd lost during those first two weeks she'd hosted Amitiel.

"Can you walk?" Sam asked, setting her on her feet. She kept hold of his arm, her fingers digging in painfully but he didn't complain.

"No..." She gritted her teeth. "Yes." Still clinging to Sam's arm, she managed a few steps away from the dumpster. Sam wasn't sure where they were going, just that they had to get away. He glanced over his shoulder as they limped toward the street, keeping an eye out for Haamiah. He heard footsteps crunching over gravel and grabbed Mallory, pulling her behind an empty pick-up with construction lights.

Dean rounded the line of dumpsters, Castiel close behind him. The angel's black trench coat was gone, leaving him in a blood-stained turtleneck and dirty jeans. Sam blew out a sigh of relief and emerged from cover. "Dean!" he called quietly. His brother's head snapped around towards him and his expression cleared.

"Hey," Dean said, jogging over towards them. "Sammy. You okay?"

"Little banged up," Sam replied. "Mal is..." he turned to look down at Mal. She was curled up on the ground, unconscious again. "Dammit."

"What happened?" Dean demanded, crouching next to the girl.

"We fell off the building," Sam replied with a grimace. Dean stared up at him.

"You what?"

"Dean, we don't have time for this," Castiel said sharply. "We have to leave the perimeter as soon as possible."

"Right," Dean agreed. He gathered Mallory up into his arms and staggered slightly as he stood. "Let's get out of here."

They'd taken four steps when a shriek of rage sent Sam and Dean to their knees. Sam clapped his hands over his ears, trying to block out the sound, but Dean, burdened with Mal, was unable to protect himself. The scream didn't stop, getting louder and shriller until it finally passed out of the human hearing range, but Sam could still feel it in his head and chest. Castiel grabbed Sam's arm and tried to haul the taller man to his feet with only partial success.

"Haamiah must have discovered Cephas' corpse," he explained, his eyes never leaving the building looming over them. "We need to go." He stiffened suddenly. "The perimeter is down." Whirling around, Castiel lifted his hands, reaching for Sam and Dean.

Haamiah hit Castiel like a freight train, driving both of them into the pick up. The truck crumpled like a tin can, the alarm wailing drunkenly for a few seconds before dying.

"Cas!" Dean yelled, shoving Mallory into Sam's arms and scrabbling at his duffel. He pulled out an aerosol can and shook it. "Dammit!"

Haamiah had Castiel pinned down in the wreckage of the car, her hands clamped around his neck. Castiel clawed at her wrists, digging bleeding furrows into her skin, but she didn't budge. Her face was twisted into a nearly-unrecognizable mask of rage.

Dean ran up behind Haamiah and swung the can with all his strength against her skull, denting the can and snapping her head to the side. She half-turned, freed one hand, and gestured sharply. Dean flew backwards off his feet and into a pile of broken concrete.

Amitiel came to life in Sam's arms, twisting neatly out of his grasp and onto her feet. She crossed the distance between Sam and her siblings in a few bounds and bodily tackled Haamiah off Castiel. Castiel pulled himself out of the crumpled remains of the truck, fell to his hands and knees, and staggered to his feet.

"Get your brother," he ordered Sam hoarsely. Sam hesitated, torn for a moment between Dean's still body and the sight of Ami engaged in an all-out brawl with Haamiah. He finally turned and hurried over to Dean. Blood matted the hair on the left side of Dean's head and his green eyes were crossed when he blinked up at Sam.

Castiel appeared above them and stooped, two fingers coming to touch each of their foreheads. The ground was yanked out from underneath them for a moment and then they were in Bobby's living room.

Sam lunged to his feet. "Dammit, Cas!" he yelled uselessly. "Dammit! Bobby?"

The older man rolled in from the kitchen. "Sam? You okay? What's going on?"

Sam knelt back down beside Dean, picking his brother's head up off the hard floor. "Cas sent us back here while he and Ami take care of the angel hit squad," he growled. "Dean hit his head pretty hard. I need the first aid kit."

"Sure thing," Bobby said with a nod, leaving to get it.

Sam ground his teeth together in frustration. He didn't even know where the fight was taking place. "Dammit," he muttered again.

XxxXxxX

Haamiah managed to throw Amitiel off of her the instant Castiel sent Sam and Dean to safety, and Amitiel let her do it. She rolled over the gravel and pushed to her feet, coming up next to Castiel. Together they faced Haamiah, injured but still standing. Castiel held his sword in his left hand. Amitiel's hands were empty, but she was not without weapons.

Haamiah screamed again and lunged forward. Castiel and Amitiel darted in opposite directions. Amitiel turned back to face Haamiah, her hands thrusting out towards the angel. An invisible force caught Haamiah broadside, white light flashing on impact. She was flung backwards and hit the side of the building with enough force to crack the cement.

Castiel raced forward and struck with his sword. Haamiah twisted at the last second, taking the blade in her hip rather than her stomach. She rolled further, trapping Castiel's sword between her body and the ground, and buried her own blade into his thigh. Castiel cried out and fell backwards, taking Haamiah's sword with him. Haamiah got to her feet, picked up Castiel's sword, and lifted it over her head for the killing strike.

The silver tip of an angel sword slid soundlessly through Haamiah's throat. She stood frozen there, her eyes wide in confusion as a trickle of blood flowed from the corner of her mouth. She slowly sank to her knees, the sword retracting from her neck, to reveal Kadmiel standing behind her. Haamiah listed sideways, laying gently down onto the gravel. White light exploded from her body, charring her wings to a sooty impression on the uneven ground.

Kadmiel considered the body of her sister for a moment, her eyes clouded and troubled. Amitiel and Castiel stared at her, unsure of what to do next. Kadmiel finally took a deep breath, stepped over Haamiah's body, and knelt beside Castiel, placing one hand on his thigh next to the sword still protruding from his muscle.

"This will hurt," she warned him, and took hold of the hilt. Castiel grunted when she pulled the blade free, blood and light trickling from the wound. Kadmiel pressed her hand to the injury, and the light shining from between her fingers gradually faded. Castiel looked from the injury to Kadmiel's face, his expression serious.

"What have you done?" he asked softly.

Kadmiel's eyes were still troubled when she met Castiel's gaze. "What I thought was right," she said softly. She got to her feet. Except for a bloody hole in his jeans, there was no sign of Castiel's injury. She retrieved the sword stained with Haamiah's blood and offered it to Amitiel. "This belongs to you."

Amitiel took it warily. "Why?" she demanded.

The other angel shook her head. "Now is not the time for that conversation. Please. Just go. I will tell Shoftiel you managed to escape."

Castiel got to his feet and walked over to join Amitiel, placing a hand on his sister's shoulder. He looked back at Kadmiel. "Thank you," he said simply. She nodded in reply. They left.

XxxXxxX

Dean sat on the old swing on Bobby's front porch enjoying the cool breeze and the beer he'd snuck from the refrigerator. His back was sore and his shoulder twinged whenever he moved it, but at least he was seeing only one of everything again.

"I don't think you are supposed to be drinking that."

Dean looked up to see Cas standing beside him, looking down at him with that bird-like tilt to his head. He was once more clad in his black trench coat, the shirt and jeans mended and cleaned. Dean saluted him with the bottle.

"Here's to ignoring doctor's orders," he said, and took a swig. Castiel exhaled through his nose and sat down next to Dean, gazing out over the scrapyard. Dean eyed him closely. "You okay?"

Castiel was silent for a minute. "Yes," he said at length. Dean wondered if he should press the issue and decided against it.

"So," he said instead. "Do we go back to our regularly scheduled Apocalypse?" Cas turned to look at him, a frown creasing his forehead. "Are we done with the angel hit squads?" Dean clarified. Cas looked away again.

"Shoftiel's squad was among the best. I doubt they will send another."

"Good." Dean took another drink of beer.

The front door opened and Bobby rolled through. Dean hastily hid his beer and tried to look innocent as the older man joined them. Bobby gave Dean a look that said he knew exactly what was up and offered Castiel a bottle. The angel hesitated only a second before accepting. Bobby opened his own beer.

"Where are the other two?" Bobby asked.

Dean hooked a thumb over his shoulder towards the back lot. "Talking," he replied.

Bobby arched an eyebrow. "'Bout what?"

"Amitiel is explaining the process of Marking," Castiel said expressionlessly, taking his first sip of his beer. He'd tried to explain that he needed no sustenance, but it was easier to simply accept than to continue arguing.

Bobby grunted. "That's gonna be fun."

"Yup," Dean agreed.

The three men lapsed into silence, drinking their beers and drawing comfort from each other's presence.

Sam and Amitiel were also silent. They were by the little pond Amitiel like so much, Sam seated on the flat stone by the pond's edge and Amitiel standing in front of him. Sam stared at his hands. "So," he said at length, then cleared his throat. "This...Mark. What does it mean, exactly?"

"It allows us to monitor you, where you are, if you are in danger," Amitiel began, but Sam cut her off by shaking his head.

"You said all that already. I meant...why? Why do it? And why me?"

Amitiel hunched her shoulders slightly and the air stirred against Sam's face, accompanied by the sound of rustling feathers. "To protect you." Sam opened his mouth but Amitiel held up a hand. "You protected me, Sam, when I was injured and in need. This is how best I can protect you now."

Sam clenched his hands. "But you...you messed around with my soul, Ami. You can't...you can't just do that without permission. You didn't even tell me."

She blinked, pursed her lips, blinked again, and furrowed her brow. "Mallory tells me I should apologize," she admitted. "I did not consider this would be an issue. I am sorry, Sam."

He sighed and went back to staring at his hands. "You know what Haamiah said? She said... a human with demon's blood and angel's grace. She wanted to know what sort of monster you'd created."

"Sam." Amitiel's voice cracked sharply, jerking his head up to meet her gaze. "I knew exactly what I was doing when I Marked you," she said, her voice softening slightly. "I did it because you are my friend, and I will do whatever it takes to keep you from harm. Do you understand?"

Sam swallowed. "Yeah," he said quietly. Amitiel suddenly looked uncertain.

"Is there...is there anything I can do?" she asked.

He shook his head. "I just need some time, Ami," he replied tiredly. She nodded, clearly unhappy.

"Very well." She turned to leave and stopped suddenly.

"Sam?" He looked up to see Mallory studying him closely, her brows drawn together. She turned back and took a step toward him, twisting her hands together. "Please don't be mad at Ami," she said earnestly. "She was worried about you. She's just trying to keep you safe."

"I know, Mal," Sam said. "I just..." he trailed off. He chuckled humorlessly. "I don't know. I honestly don't know what to think anymore."

Mal's knuckles whitened as she clutched her hands tighter together. "Sam," she said, struggling over her words. "I don't know...if Ami cares about you...because I do, or if I care...because she does...but...we do. A lot. And..." she stopped talking, eyes fixed on the ground. Then she gathered up her courage and, before she could talk herself out of it, closed the distance between them and kissed him.

She pulled away before Sam even realized she'd done it, cheeks aflame, and hurried away. Sam stared after her, too surprised to react or call her back. After she'd disappeared around the corner of the house, he reached up thoughtfully and placed a finger across his lips.

He hadn't seen that coming.

XXXXX

A/N: Yes! I am done with my second Supernatural story! *does victory dance* I apologize for the starts and stops on this one but real life has the annoying habit of interfering with my writing. I fully plan on continuing this story with another installation. Because how could I just end it like this? *evil grin*