A/N: Part 1 – Preparing the Way. I do hope you're prepared for lots of drama and hurt. Be kind! Review! Lots of love.


Dean Winchester stood outside of Bobby Singer's old house, his shirt long since shed and tossed aside with the heat of the day as he worked under the hood of his beloved Impala. Bobby had been busy, but work had been slow, tracking demonic omens across the entire country. Taking the extra time, the older Winchester had settled in for a long overdue tune-up on his baby. It was time for a spark plug and oil change, menial tasks he didn't trust to anyone else.

He straightened up, reaching for the beer that perched on his tool kit, taking a long drink as the slight breeze cooled his sweat soaked skin. Castiel's hand print was still seared on his shoulder, a constant reminder of his rescue from Hell, a reminder that, at one time, he had been destined to be Heaven's vessel. Those had been dark days for him and for his brother, and the days that followed had been even darker. Now that the Apocalypse had passed without the fated battle between Michael and Lucifer, anarchy ruled Heaven and Hell, rules no longer applying to the fight for souls. Castiel was left rallying the legions of Heaven's army while the Winchester's fought to keep the locals out of harms way. It was proving to be a tedious job.

"About finished?"

Dean glanced over at the doorway, just able to make out his brother's overly tall silhouette against the doorframe. "Yeah," he responded gruffly, draining the last of his beer. "Bobby find something?" He slammed the hood, retrieving his shirt from the grass and pulling it over his head.

"Sort of," Sam answered, stepping back to let Dean pass.

"What does 'sort of' mean?" he scoffed, plopping down in his customary seat near Bobby's desk.

"Means I got a phone call a few minutes ago," Bobby stated, "from a contact in D.C."

"Fed country?" the older brother retorted bitterly. "No thanks."

"May not be an option to say no." He leveled a solid gaze at the young man in front of him. "Did some checkin'. Those other omens are nothin' but distractions. Somethin' big is happenin'. Too big for the cut-rate hunters in the area."

"Any ideas?" Sam asked, finally finding his own chair.

"Nothin' we've seen before. Sure, there are the usual slew of demons and enough monsters to make a convincing monster movie of the century, but they're gatherin' for somethin'...and it's big."

They sat in silent contemplation for a long moment before they were interrupted by a sudden fluttering, the trench coat wearing, dark-haired angel appearing in their midst. His arrival came as something of a surprise as he'd been away for the better part of a month after his fight with Rachael.

"Good," Castiel stated, looking between the three of them, "you got the call."

"Shoulda guessed you'd be involved," the grizzled hunter sighed. "What are we walkin' into?"

"I...am not entirely sure," the angel confessed, "but there has already been much bloodshed."

"Sacrifices?" Sam queried.

"It appears so."

"Who is bein' sacrificed?" Dean dared, sitting forward.

"From what I can tell...the sacrifices are limited to...warriors."

"Warriors." The older Winchester sat forward. "Like..."

"Military," Sam finished quietly.

"Exactly," Castiel confirmed. "I cannot investigate. Even with my vessel, I would be easily compromised there, so I must ask for your help."

"Cas," Dean sighed, an eyebrow raised in question, "we walk in flashin' badges in our usual way, things are gonna go south real fast."

The angel turned to the man he considered his friend above all else. They regarded each other for a long moment.

"Do you trust me?" the angel finally asked, his eyes narrowed slightly and his head tilted.

"Most of the time," came the answer from a suddenly cautious hunter.

"There is...a team, a very capable team, that will assist you. They will be waiting for you in Washington."

"A team of what?" Dean demanded. "Hunters?"

"Naval Criminal Investigators."

"Feds?" Dean exploded. "You've officially lost your mind, Cas! They're gonna get one look at us and toss us behind bars...just like Henrickson!"

"I asked if you trusted me, Dean," Castiel countered firmly.

"If I say 'yes,' do I get a friggin' cookie?"

"The way will be prepared for you." He ignored the blatant sarcasm in the hunter's voice.

"Prepared?" Wearily, Dean rubbed the heal of his palm against his eye. Sometimes, Cas exhausted him. More and more lately, he had been almost expecting the brothers to follow him without question, frustrated when they seemed to be taking longer than he deemed necessary. He looked up as he heard the departed flutter, biting back an annoyed curse. "Gonna give me a damned stroke."

"So...what?" Sam ventured, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. "We goin'?"

"Don't look like a choice, son." Bobby sat back heavily in his chair, looking between the two brothers. "Cas says everything's in order. Might as well go in with our eyes open."

Dean shifted uncomfortably in his seat before finally pushing himself to his feet. He stalked out of the room and up the stairs, his demeanor daring anyone to follow him.

Sam watched his brother go, apprehensive at first. He understood the feeling, though. They were both exhausted, overused on cases that threatened the end of the world. They had just defeated Eve and were now facing another unknown. Every time something new and big arose, the lost good people. All they had left this time was each other and Bobby. Now, Castiel was looking to bring a civilian team into the mix, most likely with no supernatural experience at all.

"Really gonna have to set some ground rules with Cas," Bobby sighed, moving unsteaily toward the kitchen. "Got us runnin' all over God's green Earth."

Sam couldn't help but smirk, listening to the older man grumble as he began rummaging through the kitchen drawers. HE found his own way to the stairs, his feet following the same path his brother had taken.

Dean was furiously packing their duffel in one of the guest rooms, the clothes haphazardly mixed in with the weapons. Sam leaned against the door frame, his arms loosely crossed, watching the tense hunter pace.

"The hell is he thinkin', Sammy?" came the eventual question as Dean paused, his hands on his hips. "These people...innocent people...We're gonna be leandin' them into slaughter. When is enough...enough?"

"These people are cops, Dean," he argued. "At least they're, ya know, sort of trained. We've teamed with worse."

Unbidden memories of the Ghostfacers popped into his mind and he grimaced, "Gee, thanks, Sammy."

"I'm just sayin',...things could be worse."

Reluctantly, the older brother agreed, leaving them both only to wonder what they could possibly be in for this time. The mission so far was more cryptic than they liked and now they were blindly following Castiel rather than he, them.

"I don't wanna see anyone else killed," Dean finally admitted, more sedately completing the packing, "that's all."

"I know." He nodded, dropping his hands to his sides. "I know."


"C'mon, McGoo," the brown-haired federal agent taunted, grinning roguishly at the man behind the desk beside him. He tossed a paper wad into the further trashcan, kicking back in his seat.

The blond-haired agent tossed a look of annoyance from the corner of his eye, making himself busy at his computer. He ignored the chuckle sounding from the raven-haired Israeli woman across from him. "What makes you think I've had time to work on anything else, Tony?" he shot back, his fingers hitting harder against the keyboard.

"You're...always working, probie," Tony replied, his eye twitching slightly with the thought.

"This is true, McGee," she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, a smile tuging at the sensual corners of her mouth. "At least...when you are not playing Elflord."

"Taking a break, Ziva," he sighed, sitting back, staring blankly at the code that flashed across his screen. "Yes, I've been writing, and no, Tony, no sneak peeks." He looked over at his partner. "Don't know if I can finish this one."

"You have writer's stop, McGee?"

"Block, Ziva. Writer's block," Tony corrected, narrowing his eyes as he regarded the younger man. Despite his continual picking, Tony was actually starting to worry for him. He couldn't help but notice how pale and tired Timothy McGee seemed, the dark circles under his eyes more pronounced than they'd ever been. Even in the last case, McGee had been slower and distracted, drawing barked reprimands from their team leader. Briefly, he wondered if the change was linked to the rapid weight loss of the now eerily-thin agent.

"Whatever," she said dismissively, reaching for the knife on the corner of her desk.

"Yeah, something like that," McGee mumbled.

Tony shook his head, choosing to drop the subject, instead settling in to watch the agent. Work had been slow over the past few days, leaving the team with little to do. Easily bored, Tony had resorted to his favorite past-time of pestered the probationary agent beside him. McGee, however, now just seemed exhausted, even more pale than he'd been at the start of the day.

"You don't look so good, McProbie," he eventually ventured, taken slightly aback by the noncommittal grunt he received in response. He cast a quick glance at Ziva, noting that she'd noticed as well.

"Not enough work to do?"

The brisk bark sent Tony and Ziva scrambling to sit up and look busy as the graying team leader, former Gunny Leroy Jethro Gibbs, strode into the bullpen.

"No, boss...I mean, yes, boss," Tony answered, his eyes following the older man's trek across the floor.

Gibbs paused, looking down at McGee, who seemed to be staring at nothing. "McGee?" he asked.

"He's been kinda out of it, boss."

Gibbs grunted, receiving no reply from the young agent. "McGee!" he repeated a bit louder, kneeling beside him. He pressed his fingertips to McGee's neck, feeling the feeble pulse. "Hey, DiNozzo, help me get him up and movin'."

Together, they walked the young agent around the bullpen, attempting to get his heart rate up.

"Boss?" McGee managed thickly, coming to himself a bit. "Don't...don't feel so good, boss."

"Call Ducky, Ziver," Gibbs ordered, feeling McGee's head roll limply over against his shoulder.

With the sickly agent supported firmly between them, they kept him moving until the medical examiner, Dr. Donald Mallard, emerged from the elevator, ambling quickly over. Carefully, they lowered him back into his chair so the doctor could work.

"Pupils fixed and unresponsive," the doctor stated, his English timbre heavy with worry. "Sluggish respiration." He shook his head, reaching for a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. There was a long moment where the only sound was the hissing of the cuff on McGee's arm.

"Gibbs!" the call broke through the tension, Director Leon Vance leaning against the railing above to observe the scene below. "Mind tellin' me what's goin' on?" He jogged down the steps, occasionally ordering a stray, gawking agent back to work. "Everything okay with McGee, Dr. Mallard?"

The Englishman looked up at the dark-skinned, well kept director, sliding the cuff from the agent's arm. "Not at all, director. He needs tests that I cannot preform here." He pushed himself unsteadily to his feet, attempting to rouse the young man sitting in front of him. "I believe an immediate visit to the hospital is in order for young Timothy."

"I'll take him, boss," DiNozzo offered, receiving an approving nod from his superiors. They helped him get McGee ready to move and he carried him toward the elevator.

"Keep me posted, Gibbs," Vance ordered, removing the slightly chewed toothpick from between his lips.

"When we know somethin', director," Gibbs answered, only a slight hint of distaste flavoring his words. He'd never truly gotten along with Vance.

Without another word, Gibbs turned and strode to the elevator himself, disappearing behind the closing doors. He punched the button to take him down to the labrotory, walking quietly out when the doors slid open. He was greeted by the typical heavy metal that Abigail Sciuto, his favorite forensic scientist, blared from the stereo in the lab while she worked. She and McGee had always been close. She would know if there was anything wrong with him.

He tugged on one of her black braided pigtails, smiling slightly at the skull barrette that secured it. Abby was truly unique, head-to-toe Goth.

"Hey, Gibbs!" she quipped, looking up from the microscope. "We got a case?"

"No, Abs," he answered, tweaking her chin.

She worried her lip, noting the tension that lined his eyes. "Then what is it, Gibbs? What happened? Did someone die? Someone died, didn't they?" Tell me, Gibbs!" Her eyes were wide and she shifted from foot to foot, wringing her hands. Ever excitable, she had jumped to the worst conclusion possible.

"What can you tell me about McGee, Abs?"

She blinked, confused. "What about Timmy, Gibbs?"

"How's he doin', Abby?"

"What's wrong? Timmy's not said anything." She leaned back against the counter, studying the older man. "Is this about the weight thing? He's on a diet, ya know."

"Tony's takin' him to the hospital."

"What?" she screeched, clutching Gibbs' forearms.

Reluctantly, he explained what had happened upstairs. Immediately, she switched off the music and moved to her office, shedding the labcoat.

"What are you doin', Abby?" he asked quietly.

"Going to McGee." She reached for her jacket, watching Gibbs from the corner of her eye. "Yes, we dated and yes, I care about Timmy. I can't just leave him alone!"

"He's with Tony."

"Not the point!" Despite her attempt to remain collected, her chin trembled in a slight pout. "Tony can't hug him like I can...and what if something is wrong? I need to be there!" She wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him tightly as he gently patted her back.

He only nodded, stepping away as she pushed past him to head out of the lab, only taking the time to pause and switch off her machinery. Slightly disappointed and worried that no one seemed to be in the know about what was going on with his agent, he followed moments later, returning to the bullpen.


McGee blinked blearily, trying to clear the cloudy cover from his eyes. He felt weak and drained, even the small effort of lifting his arm winding him. A groan escaped his lips and he looked up at the ceiling, his mind racing.

"Special Agent Timothy McGee."

Shock propelled him upward as he heard the deep, unfamiliar voice echo throughout his room. Instinctively, he reached to his side for his weapon, finding only a handful of hospital gown to greet him. Confused, he looked around, his eyes coming to rest on a dark-haired man standing by the window. The man appeared to be wearing a suit and trench coat, another agent, he guessed, maybe posted by his boss to keep watch.

"Did Gibbs send you?" he asked, a slight wheeze behind his words. "Who are you?"

The man paced closer to the bed, easing McGee back against the pillow. With a gesture, the bed whirred, adjusted itself to where the agent was sitting slightly upright. "Gibbs did not send me." He tilted his head slightly, seeming to stare through the man in front of him. "My name is Castiel, and I am an angel of the Lord."

McGee swallowed awkwardly. "An...an angel? Am I dying?"

"Yes," he answered simply.

Tears stung the agent's eyes, but he shook his head. "I'm dreaming. This is all a dream."

"It...is not a dream." An intensity seemed to settle over the angel, a clash of thunder echoing through the four corners of the room.

McGee cried out, shielding his eyes as the shadow of wings stretched across the far wall. Trembles coursed through him long after the shadow had faded. He lowered his hands, expecting to be along again in the room. Instead, he found the angel called Castiel still standing in the same position. He seemed to be waiting for something.

"What is it you want from me?" He licked his lips nervously, his wide eyes darting around the air as if expecting another shock. "What's wrong with me?"

"You have cancer," came the emotionless response, "leukemia. The bruising you have been ignoring, the fatigue, the weakness...The cancer is far progressed. I am sorry."

Leukemia, he thought, the news hitting him hard.

"Your job, however, is not finished here, Timothy. Heaven has need of you and your team. I need you to deliver a message to your boss, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs."

"What...what message?" he managed, trying to still his racing heart.

"Two men will be arriving here tomorrow," the angel stated carefully, "they are called hunters. Your team is to provide them shelter and protect them at all cost. When they have arrived, I will return. You will learn then what is to be done."

With those words, Castiel disappeared, leaving a very addled Timothy McGee laying against the hospital bed with a million thoughts coursing through his mind. He was sick, he was dying, and Heaven had a mission for him and his team.