WAY OUT WEST

Massive spoilers for 6.18 - Frontierland.

Written for Brightshadow-Chi who asked me very nicely if I would write a western based story ... so here it is, starting where Frontierland left off.

disclaimer: I don't own them, I just borrow them occasionally for fun and frolics!

xxxxx

What if Bobby's soul couldn't mend Castiel completely after the angel was attacked ...

What if it was going to take a long time for Castiel to regain his strength ...

What if he couldn't get the boys back ...

What if I stop rambling and just get on with the story ...

xxxxx

Chapter 1

Sunrise, Wyoming. 1861

Standing silently beside the smoking embers of the phoenix, the brothers stared at each other. Job done; they had found the colt and ganked the phoenix, gathering it's ashes as necessary, but the twenty four hours allocated to them by Castiel when he had sent them back one hundred and fifty years had ticked down some minutes ago and yet here they were, still standing amidst the dust and horse dung of 1861.

Dean squinted up into the cloudless sky; "c'mon Cas, shake your angel ass, we're all done here."

Sam watched his brother, a look of fear gradually creeping across his face.

"Dean, something's wrong."

Scraping a hand over his forehead, Dean fidgeted nervously as he spoke; "he's a freakin' angel, what the hell could possibly go wrong?" The look on his face, however, suggested that he didn't believe his own reassuring words any more than Sam did.

xxxxx

A pall of silence had settled over Bobby's house as the two occupants nursed their respective hurts. The pallid angel lay on the couch, nursing the stab wound in his stomach, blood still seeping thickly through the bandage that Bobby had applied after he had stumbled, bleeding profusely, through the door.

Bobby sat slumped limply across his desk. Allowing Castiel to touch his soul in order to heal himself had left the older man debilitated to the point that he was barely functioning.

He held his head in his hands, not wanting to hear the news that the angel had just imparted; "whad'ya mean you can't get them back?" he groaned.

"Your soul was not potent enough to fully heal me;" Castiel replied bluntly.

Looking up slowly, Bobby's heavy lidded eyes bored dangerously into the angel's melancholy face; "an' what's the matter with my damn soul?"

Castiel took a deep breath; "I am sorry, it is … um …"

The glare from the older hunter was making the angel squirm; "is … what?" he snarled.

Castiel shrunk into the couch as he responded in a small voice; "… old."

Bobby's glare darkened; "choose your next friggin' words carefully, otherwise this 'old' soul is gonna kick your holy damned ass all the way back to Heaven."

"It no longer has the spirit and energy that I require to heal me fully." Castiel looked down at his bandaged stomach. "I am very sorry."

Bobby tried and failed to stand up; "you mean you've been rootin' around in my damned innards for nothin'?" he roared.

"Not for nothing;" replied Castiel, "your soul has ensured that I will now survive and I will recover, but it will take time. I will heal at an almost human pace."

Shaking his head, Bobby grumbled quietly as he cleared his thoughts; "well, it looks like you an' me are both gonna be outta commission for a while; where does that leave the boys?"

The angel's piercing blue eyes took on a heartbreakingly solemn expression. "I will not be able to retrieve them until I am fully recovered."

"Well how long's it likely to take?" Bobby asked impatiently.

"Days, weeks? I do not know how long it would take a human to recover from a stab wound;" the angel replied with a sigh.

The older hunter's head slumped again.

"We can't leave them there to fend for themselves for that long;" snapped Bobby, not even trying to hide his irritation, "with Dean's smart mouth that boy could drop himself into a whole heap o' trouble in no time at all."

Castiel groaned, wincing as he tried to sit up; "but he does that all the time."

"Yeah, but unlike now, back then you could get yer neck stretched for sayin' the wrong damn thing!"

xxxxx

"Cas!" Dean stomped up and down the main street, waving his arms furiously, "Cas you sonofabitch …" he roared at the sky, "we're freakin' ready; get your freakin' feathery ass down here an' get us back."

Sam watched his agitated brother as he stormed and raged, gesticulating wildly at the sky, reflecting that Dean's love affair with the wild west seemed to have ended rather abruptly.

He placed a hand on his furious brother's shoulder.

"Dean, I think we need to work on the assumption that something's gone wrong." He hesitated for a moment, staring into Dean's penetrating green glare; "we might be stuck here."

"Oh, brilliant deduction Holmes," Dean snapped, rounding on Sam; "what the hell are we supposed to do, then?"

Sam shook his head, doing his best to remain calm as Dean began, by degrees, to implode; "don't know bro'; we'll just have to try to figure something out."

"And how do we do that, Einstein?" Dean aggressively jabbed Sam in the chest, "in case it's escaped your notice, there's no library, no internet, no sonofabitch cellphone signal … do I need to go on?"

Sam shrugged, "we'll just have to talk to folk round here."

Dean was, by now, hyperventilating slightly; "I don't think that would be such a good idea, Sam;" he muttered, glancing around shiftily, "whatever we do, I don't think we can stay in this town. "

Sam looked quizzically at his brother.

"Dude, I've just incinerated a man with a single bullet, and we're getting some very weird looks from the locals;" he took a deep breath which appeared to calm him slightly, and leaned into Sam, lowering his voice.

"These are god-fearing people, they're real twitchy about stuff that they view as witchcraft or black magic."

Now it was Sam's turn to look uneasy; he hadn't noticed it before but there were indeed a number of townsfolk timidly approaching the smoking ash pile and giving the Winchesters the kind of looks reserved for people with two heads.

"We stay here, an' if we're not careful, we'll wake up tomorrow mornin' friggin' murdered in our sleep," Dean snorted without taking his eyes off the milling townsfolk.

Sam blinked, "uh dude, we can't wake up if …"

"Shuddup."

"but … they wouldn't do anything, would they?" Sam whispered, "I mean, you're the sherriff."

"D'y think that matters to them, Sam?" Dean whispered frantically, "how do you think I got the job?"

"Ah!" Sam nodded.

Dean caught the eye of one old timer who was warily eyeing him, and rewarded him with his best shitfaced grin, seemingly unnerving the old man even further.

The brothers began to slowly back away from the encroaching townsfolk who were now actively poking at the ashes and pointing menacingly at them.

"Split?" whispered Sam.

"Split," nodded Dean.

The Winchesters cheerfully tipped their hats to the nervous population of Sunrise, Wyoming.

Then turned and hightailed it out of town.

xxxxx

"Well, I ain't gonna sit here with my thumb up my ass, waiting for weeks until your angel juice is back up an' runnin;" Bobby growled, "I've gotta try and do something for 'em."

He rose from his chair on shaking legs, and leaned heavily on the desk. "Jeez, what the hell d'you do? Feel like my insides have been scrambled."

"I am truly sorry," Castiel tried to sit up again, rubbing the unfamiliar rough fabric of the bandage around his middle through his open shirt; "I will offer any assistance I can give you."

Bobby rolled his eyes at the angel's pitiful attempts to rise; "never mind, ya dying swan; park y'ass an' rest up; need you to get better to get them boys back, 'case I can't find nothin'." Huffing and grumbling, he stumbled slowly toward his study. Castiel was sure he heard the words 'friggin' angels' as he watched the older man shuffle painfully on his way out of the room.

xxxxx

Puffing and panting, the brothers skidded to a halt as they passed the blacksmith's forge, spying two horses tethered outside. A knowing look passed between the two men.

The blacksmith, busy at his forge, didn't see the two hunched figures creep round beside the hitching rail to untie the horses, surreptitiously leading them away.

Nervously glancing behind him for fear of seeing pursuing townsfolk, Sam swung a leg over the back of the larger horse, a massive wall-eyed pinto, and swiftly settled into the saddle. He looked across at Dean, one foot planted in the stirrup, hopping around in increasingly irate circles as the second horse, a skittish appaloosa wheeled around, shying and fretting, dragging Dean along for the ride.

"Keep still ya friggin' brainless haybag ..."

"Uh Dean," Sam offered,

"shuddap," Dean grunted, fighting to still the snorting animal.

"But Dean ..."

"Sam, can it!" Dean tugged on the reins, finally managing to pull the agitated horse into angry submission and heaved himself inelegantly up into the saddle.

"Dean, you should …"

Sam cringed on hearing a startled squawk as the saddle suddenly sunk down to the horses belly heavily decanting it's unsettled rider into a heap on the floor.

"… tighten the girth"

Dean scrambled to his hands and knees as the appaloosa reared and took off, kicking a cloud of tawny dust into Dean's scowling face.

Watching the spectacle from his seat on the giant pinto's back, Sam hesitated.

"Y'ok dude?"

Dean coughed through the swirling dust and stumbled to his feet, brushing off his jeans; " jus' friggin' peachy," he grunted.

Sam reached out a hand, "c'mon Dean, we shouldn't hang around; we don't know who's following us."

Dean looked up at Sam and his shoulders slumped.

"C'mon," Sam encouraged, more urgently this time; "the blacksmith's gonna realise his customers are missing any time."

"Oh, man!" Dean sighed, and put a foot into the stirrup Sam had released to heave himself into the saddle behind his brother.

The horse snorted, tossing it's head at the extra burden which planted itself heavily behind it's rider.

"Hang on;" Sam instructed, waiting momentarily as Dean's arms reluctantly tightened around his waist.

He kicked the horse into a laboured, tottering canter at exactly the same time an outraged yell emanated from within the forge.

Neither brother looked back as Sunrise receded into the dust behind them.

Xxxxx

tbc