Disclaimer for ALL chapters of the story: I do not own Supernatural or any of the characters in the universe. I'm borrowing them for fun, not profit. All kudos and copyrights remain with Kripke.

Spoilers: For the entire series, but especially for season 6's finale. I mean it—turn back now if you don't know what happened in season 6.

Full Summary: Post Season 6. It was God who finished him, God who cleaned up the mess, or at least that's what the Winchesters thought when Castiel was suddenly… gone. Four years later, though, a small boy grabs hold of Dean's hand and stares up at the hunter with bright blue eyes. Dean knows those eyes: "Cas?" What does it mean? And why is there a demon coming for them? A demon they've never met before, one who knows their names, one who wants them dead, one who is bent on revenge. . .

A/N: I realize this is going to be a "what if" story, AU, by the time season 7 starts in the Fall, unless I secretly have a psychic connection with the writers. The idea for this story grabbed me about twenty minutes after watching "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (the finale), and refused to let go. I'm sorry if it's been done before, but I hope you enjoy the ride. The title of the story is based on the Vast song "Touched"—give it a listen if you have time.

I know this is just a short prologue, but it might be a few days before you get chapter 1. Just thought I'd share what I'd already written.


Touched

By Slinky_and_the_BloodyWands

I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three. ~William Blake


THEN


This was never the way it was meant to be. This path was an untraveled one. Or so the rest of the world had been telling them. Warning them. For the Winchesters and one Bobby Singer, though, this was familiar territory.

Evil rises. Evil falls. They sweep away the aftermath, salt and burn the remains. Like good little hunters. Didn't matter if it was an impending apocalypse or a spook having a bad decade, jobs were meant to be finished.

Just another day, another season. Winter into Spring. And, somehow, they were still standing.

But there was a problem with this ending. They hadn't caused it. They hadn't finished the job. Not on their own. Maybe never on their own.

Dean ran a hand over the undercarriage of his baby, wincing when he thought of the sleek black paint of the roof against the scraping earth. The windows were blown, the body beat to shit, but he could fix her. He'd done so before, and he'd do so again. The Impala would stay alive so long as at least one Winchester still had breath in his body.

Breath. Breathing. Dean could hear Sam's. It was comforting, even if it was strained. Sam was beside him. In a split second choice, little brother followed big brother's movement, fingertips tracing the trail across the warm metal. Sam loved her as much as Dean, because of Dean.

Bobby's boots crunched the pavement. Words rolled around his lips, looking like chewed cud. Finally, he seemed to work up the strength to actually open his mouth.

"Guess you boys wouldn't listen if I told you there wasn't enough of her to salvage."

There was a faint smile in Dean's eyes. "He doesn't mean it, baby," he forced, staring at the upside-down frame.

Bobby snorted. "Didn't think so."

Sam stayed quiet. Dean figured his brother would be that way for a while. Stuck in his thoughts. Out of instinct, Dean moved his hand back off the car and onto Sam's elbow, leaving it there, as if it would keep the taller man balanced. Keep his body balanced, at the very least. His mind was another matter. Dean knew he should look up at him, make sure Sam really was as 'OK' as he'd said he was the last dozen times he'd been asked. But Dean didn't have the strength for it.

"Sam," Dean managed. Damn it if he wasn't going to ask just once more.

Breathing, more breathing. It turned into sighing. "Dean, just… there's other things we should be talking about. My memories can wait another minute."

Sam had a point. As if in acknowledgement of that fact, Bobby and Dean both turned their heads to look back. There should be a building there. A large one. There should be bodies. Blood. Splattered Raphael. There should be…

There was nothing, though.

Land barren, trees lain down. It looked as if a tornado had come through and taken everything, foundation included.

"What the hell happened back there?" Sam asked. Because he was the only one amongst them who'd dare to, not because any of them had an answer.

Dean wanted to snap at him, but one look into his cloudy gaze and he thought that maybe his brother's mind was too scrambled to really take it all in. That maybe Sam thought Bobby or Dean might actually have a real answer for him.

"God." Dean almost coughed on the name. He was surprised by his own reply. "I think it was God."

Bobby didn't refute it, but he did narrow his eyes and turn to face the eldest Winchester. Dean could practically hear his thoughts: "Which one?"

"The real one, I mean," Dean said.

Sam. Sam suffering. Sam screaming inside himself. Sam reliving punishment after punishment every time he closed his eyes to blink. Yeah, that Sam, managed to give Dean a look of pity. Dean shook his head when he noticed it. Some things didn't change.

Sam bit his lip, "Then Cas is…"

"Looks like Dad was pretty pissed." Dean tried to make it sound light, but he winced at his own choice of words.

Because no frickin part of this was fair, or loving, or divine.

God didn't show when they need him to. He stayed in the nosebleed section, watching the game from afar when the heavy hitters were about to go Apocalyptic. He didn't drop them a line when his favorite kids started killing themselves off, started making all the wrong moves, started getting chatty with demons. Dean knew he should have felt his anger for God increase tenfold. He should have been cussing the guy a bluestreak for letting it get this far, but all Dean felt was…thankful.

Because he didn't have to be the one to end it. He didn't have to find a way to make the world right again. He didn't have to kill his best friend.

When the other two stayed quiet, Dean raised a brow. "How else do you explain it?"

One minute, they'd been inside, hearing the words leave Castiel's mouth. The blasphemy, the insanity, fueled from the madness of the monster souls of Purgatory: Castiel calling himself God. Almighty. To be loved. To be worshiped.

The lord and savior of all.

Every word of it had stung their ears. Each man had told himself this was a nightmare. Wait it out. They'd awaken soon, they'd thought, and they'd find themselves perched over a book with all the answers inside. But it was real. And Castiel was gone to them.

Then, in the twinkling of an eye, he was gone to all.

Sam, Dean, and Bobby had found themselves lying on a grass carpet, their eyes still wide open, no time lost to them. But the building was gone, the angel gone, even as his words were ringing in their ears. The last thing they'd seen had been Castiel's eyes widening slightly, as if he'd suddenly sensed something foreign in his new realm. Those blue eyes, cocky with power, had been alit with fear in that split second.

"He's really…?" Sam stumbled over the words. He reached up, pitching the bridge of his nose. "How can we be sure? Who can we ask?"

Dean shrugged, exhaustion making his words heavier. He rolled his eyes to hide the wetness there. "It's over, Sam. Just let it go."

"Let it go?"

Dean felt his heart clenching. It was too familiar, the pain of loss. "Cas is dead, Sam." Then, because he felt he had to, "The end." Thank God.