Title: You're The Same As Me
Spoilers: Let's say 7x01
Warnings: angst, Eve!Dean, God!Castiel, character death, birthing scene (not graphic)
Word Count: ~8,500
Summary: The Gate was open. Hell had risen. "Time to fight," he said, standing, his Grace flaring as he summoned his blade to hand.
Notes:Unbeta'd. All mistakes are my own. I'm so sorry for the wait guys! The Smush Fic was going shitty so I thought I would push this one out while the inspiration was there. This resolution was WAY happier than I'd intended it to be . Hmm. Oh well. Hope you like it!
Gabriel perched on top of the werewolves' house, his face stoic, resigned, as he gazed upon the full expanse of creation, towards the Devil's Gate that was slowly, slowly, being pushed open. Soon, he would have no time to watch, to see what else was happening. All he had was a prayer, and a belief that his little brother would come through for them.
That was all he could rely on.
There was a small shift in the air beside him, and he looked over to Death, who was sitting, following his gaze, and sipping from a sixteen-ounce Slushie. Of course. "Here for the living or the dead?" he asked, shifting his weight, the heavy feeling of his wings behind him more welcome than he would care to admit. He was back. Well and truly back.
Death smiled. "I'm here for the show, of course."
Gabriel chuckled. "Of course." A pause. "Hey…" Death looked over at them. "If you take them today…go easy on them, will ya? Call it a favor to me."
The certainty blinked at him, cocking his head to one side as he sipped some more at the blue-colored drink. He hummed softly in thought, but gave no answer, and Gabriel knew he would have to be content with just that. The Gate was open. Hell had risen.
"Time to fight," he said, standing, his Grace flaring as he summoned his blade to hand. By the Father, it felt good to hold it again.
"Everything is going to be okay, Dean – Gabriel! We need your help!" The Archangel froze, hearing his name being called, and looked to Death for a moment. Death, naturally, gave no indication that he had heard anything. Quickly Gabriel winged away and to Sam and Dean's side.
"What's going on?"
"The baby -." Sam's answer was cut off when Dean gave a loud, pained cry, curling in on himself as he tried to stumble to the downstairs bathroom, where things had been set up for him to give birth. As Gabriel watched, the wolves ran into the bathroom and soon the sounds of running water was heard as they began to the fill the bath with water. There were blankets and towels in the bathroom already – all the preparation had been taken care of.
"Fuck," Dean snapped, his eyes bright with tears of pain as he grit his teeth, breathing through another contraction. His hands were flat against his distended belly, only moving when Sam pulled at his shirt, so the giant swell of his belly was exposed. The sight of the Winchester's stomach, skin stretched thin over rounded flesh, red stretch marks standing out starkly where his skin had no time to get used to being spread so thin, was enough to make Gabriel worry, realize that this…this was happening.
Shit. Now of all times?
He could feel the demon horde coming closer – his Grace bristled and stung with the need to destroy. "Sam," he said, kneeling on Dean's other side, meeting the younger brother's panicked gaze. "I need to go with Bobby and the wolves – the demons are coming and they're coming fast. Take care of Dean."
"But I…" Sam paused, swallowing when he heard Dean give another low grunt of pain, trying to silence his sounds as another contraction ripped through his body. He swallowed, pressing his lips together, and nodded. Gabriel smiled, squeezing Sam's shoulder, and stood, blade flashing as he prepared to fight, to defend Dean for as long as necessary until the baby was born.
"Wards in place?" Dean gasped out, breathing hard in the wake of another contraction, his body finely trembling under Sam's hands, and the younger Winchester laughed – a choked-off, desperate sound.
"Yeah, Dean, 'course. Did them myself," he replied, shifting his position so Dean could lay down on the pile of blankets that had been brought down. Sam doubted that they were manage to get him to the bath on time – the baby was coming and it was coming fast. "Just…just relax, Dean. We're gonna time your next contractions and when you're ready we'll start to push."
"Gonna have to interrupt you here, moose."
Sam froze, turning around, eyes wide as they fixed on – "Meg," he snarled, hatred flashing in his eyes when he looked at the smirking woman's face. "Thought you'd be kibble by now."
"S'funny you should mention kibble…" A low growl sounded from Meg's left, by her hip. Phantom claws left their mark on the wooden floor and Sam's eyes widened in fear. "Because that can easily be arranged for you. Now be a good boy and hand Dean over."
Sam paused, eyes narrowing as he looked her over. "No," he challenged. She frowned at him, her mouth twisting, and he smirked in triumph. "You can't get past the wards. No demon can. Nice try."
"Cocky isn't a good look on you, Sam," Meg replied, her tone biting. "Besides, what makes you think I'm not just a distraction?"
Sam's retort was cut off when Dean gave another low snarl of pain. His eyes were closed, head rolling from side to side, sweat coating his skin and he was trembling – if not for his obvious condition, Sam would have said he was in shock or had a high fever. He was burning up and Sam had no idea how to stop it. He yanked at Dean's jeans, hoping that exposing more of his skin would cool him off, and splashed some of the bath water onto a towel, pressing it to Dean's forehead.
"He doesn't look so good, does he?" Meg said with a small pout.
Suddenly, the house began to shake. Sam froze, bracing himself over Dean's body in case anything fell, looking around as the small bathroom window became blocked out by millions of demon souls. They rocked the house with force and Sam grimaced, ducking his head when plaster began to crack and fall.
"That's one seal," Meg whispered, taking a caution step forward. The Hound growled by her side. "Little more…yes!" The beam above the door cracked and split, and Sam yelled out for Gabriel or Bobby when he was thrown back against the wall. Meg laughed in triumph, stepping forward, and grabbed Dean's arm. They both disappeared and Sam was left alone in the shaking house, the snarling Hellhound still guarding the door.
He felt around the edge of the room where he had been thrown, finding no weapons of salt or iron he could use. He was trapped and he could see the Hellhound advancing, claws scraping into the floor and ruffling the blankets. The line of the Hound slowly came into view – Sam could just make out its blurry outline as it focused its sights on him, ready to kill.
It was grotesque – two heads, snarling, dripping acidic saliva behind rotting and metallic-looking teeth, alternating between jagged bone and mean-looking blade-like canines. Its eyes were the color of sulfur and ash, mixed together into a too-familiar shade. Flesh hung off its body loosely, skin flapping and tears in its flesh filled with maggots and other insects. It had leeches in its mouth and they wriggled and writhed on its tongue.
Sam drew in a breath, prepared to be torn apart by this thing, when suddenly it howled, sounding in unbearable pain – loud and piercing enough that Sam had to cover his ears. It began to turn in on itself, like it was breaking down at a base level, collapsing like a burned-out star, and collapsed, dead, in a pile of gently steaming black blood.
He looked up.
Gabriel stood there, his blade embedded in the Hound's flesh. He was breathing hard, blood lining the side of his face from a blow, and he yanked his blade free, stepping forward and hauling Sam to his feet.
Sam swallowed, shaking his head, and took a breath. "They have him. Meg took him." He made a rough, hateful sound. "I didn't even…I'm so sorry, Gabriel – I don't know -."
"Shh, it's okay." The Archangel forced a smile to his face, handing Sam Ruby's hunting knife and a loaded shot gun. "Let's go kill something, and then if we can, we will find your brother. There are too many to go right now. We just have to wait and pray."
"Pray." Sam snorted bitterly. "Right."
Crowley paused, a perturbed expression on his face when he saw Dean Winchester after he had said 'Yes'. There was no ritualistic flash of light, no surge of power into him – not even a flicker told Crowley that the souls were listening.
No. Instead, Dean's soul became incredibly bright, the light that was centered at the base of his spine spreading out, flaring out…wings – stretching high and glorious behind him. His eyes flashed white.
The surge of Angelic brilliance burst out of Dean – the Hunter cried out in pain as he felt himself consumed by what felt like a sun, had the blasting heat of a dying star. He wanted to fall to the ground, to curl up in pain, to black out – anything – but instead of was terrifyingly aware. Aware of the brush of his skin against his shirt, his clothes – the ache of his thighs and in his head where there seemed to be this high-pitched ringing. He was aware of two dark, incredibly dark, auras – he wanted to destroy them. He didn't like them – didn't want their darkness tainting his presence.
Angel Grace flowed through Dean, terrifying and beautiful, and swept through the room. Crowley and Meg both vanished with a scream, consumed by the power of the Angel inside of Dean – the demons holding what once had been Castiel in place also shriveled and died when confronted with the Angel's power. The souls of Purgatory, with their native home calling and no other host to go into, flared inside of what once had been Castiel's body, and the fire branched out towards him, wrapping him tight and he screamed, before the door abruptly shut, the souls gone, and the empty meat suit slumped to the floor.
Dean tried to yell out again, confused, afraid of what was happening to him. It felt like he was hugging a meteor. But in a glorious kind of way. The kind of heat that came from the California sun in the middle of July and the power in a thunderstorm felt like it was raging inside of him. He cried out again.
But he didn't. His body made no sound – was motionless. Dean came to realize this when he realized he couldn't hear a single thing.
Just dead silence.
That was his voice. His voice saying his name but it wasn't his voice at the same time – it was something else. Something other. Familiar and comforting and agonizing all at once.
He felt his own body slump with relief, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth as he raised his hands to his face – or rather, something did it for him – and wiped them over his tired eyes. "Dean. Thank the Father you're okay."
Cas? The moniker slipped easily and Dean chose to ignore the stab of emotion that he wasn't sure was his own. What happened? Is the baby okay? Jacob? What's -?
"You gave me your consent," Castiel whispered in Dean's voice, awed, his eyes wide as he looked around the room; the dirty, bare place with only a desk, piles of books, and the sigil painted on the wall. His old meat suit lay next to his abandoned blade, empty and dead, a few feet away from them, eyes open and unblinkingly focused on the wall. "You said 'Yes' to me."
Dean didn't answer.
"I could hear you. Every time you called my name, whether it was for me or…that thing that I became. And I wanted to reach for you. So badly. Every time."
Why didn't you? Dean demanded – remembered the long hours he had spent praying, hoping, just wishing that Castiel would reappear, be his Cas again and not the twisted, evil thing that was wearing his face. You just had to wait until the very last minute, didn't you?
"Dean." Castiel smiled with Dean's face, shaking his head as he gently shifted his weight, laying back down on his side. "You would have never consented to me until you were desperate. We both know that."
Guess it doesn't mean the same unless I'm kneeling, huh?
The bitter edge of the Hunter's voice pained Castiel, sent a deep shot of violet-yellow sorrow right into the center of his Grace. "Dean," he said.
I wouldn't have even believed I could be your meat suit.
"The strongest vessel for the strongest Archangel ever to exist." Castiel sighed, his voice still low and full of awe. Dean felt the weight of wings on his back – strange, heavy things, curling up high behind him. But they felt natural, too, like just another thing that was a part of him. "You feel glorious."
What are you doing? Dean asked, feeling around inside of his own head, the walls of Castiel's presence. He felt like he was being enveloped in a hot water bottle covered in fur – thick, soft, almost rubbery as it could stretch and give at Dean's command.
Castiel chuckled – his voice sounded raw, ragged, like he had been gargling gravel and then strangled. "The child is coming. You are not feeling the pain because I am present."
I don't want you staying inside me, Cas, Dean warned, already feeling uncomfortable, knowing that, really, Castiel could just take control of his meat suit and Dean wouldn't be able to fight back, would be stuck with Castiel until God knew when. The idea was frightening and made him want to fight.
"Dean." Castiel sighed, brow furrowing as he closed his eyes. Dean panicked as it went dark, until he felt the warm blanket of Castiel's feathers soothing over him, his wings very real to the Angelic senses. "I would never."
Dean fell silent, and Castiel either didn't hear, or chose to ignore the silent, accusing 'You have'.
They were worn out and exhausted. Death strolled among them, unseen except by the few powerful enough to see him, touching the faces of the fallen as he passed. There were hundreds – wolves and demons alike. Sam, Bobby and Gabriel fought on, the Hunters sending out mass amounts of salt rounds and grenades packed around with salt and iron nails – Jo and Ellen's deaths echoed in their minds, haunting, too familiar.
Gabriel fought like the warrior he used to be, his wings and blade shining with Grace as he lay demons to waste around him. They came at him in a throng, teeth gnashing, hissing, spitting at him and he fought, grimacing, as they drove him back. He was an Archangel, it was true, but even he could not handle the sheer mass of numbers. There was a reason Angels worked in teams when they were sent to fight.
They fell back to the house, the wolves still fighting bravely on – they had an army. Enough to give a good stand against the demons. Their claws seemed to be made of iron, salt lining their mouths, as they somehow could tear through demons as easily as human flesh. Without working meat suits the demons were forced to retreat, off to reclaim another. It gave them a brief delay.
Gabriel gasped, falling to one knee when he felt the surge of power. The demons felt it too – they paused, trembling, tense, at the feeling of their King, their leader, being wiped from the world. Though the demons did not have the same base link that Angels shared, they knew enough of power to sense when it was gone.
The souls. They were not on this Earth anymore.
And neither was Crowley.
Of course, the mortals could not sense it, but Gabriel looked to Aaron in question.
The werewolf nodded his great head grimly – his muzzle was slick with blood, a nasty gash on his side bleeding profusely also, leaking down his hindleg. He is alive. The Alpha lives.
"Well," Gabriel murmured, twisting his blade. "At least there's that."
They fought for another half hour, by the setting of the sun, until it was pitch black and Sam and Bobby were forced back into the house because they could not see the demons coming for them very well in the darkness.
It was then that Castiel appeared.
He lit the entire mountain with brilliance, shining more brightly than Gabriel had seen any Angel short of Lucifer shine – demons screamed and wailed when he appeared, more wings than he should have spreading out behind him and sweeping them back, like the floods used to wipe out the armies of Pharaoh. His fury was all-powerful, his strength absolute, and it took Gabriel a moment to realize why.
He was inside the Michael Sword.
"Dean." Sam recognized him at the same time Gabriel did, his eyes wide and disbelieving. Surely it was only the familiarity of his brother's soul that kept his eyes from being burnt out, because Bobby could not look upon Castiel without shielding his eyes. The Angel snarled, Dean's face contorted into a mask of rage, and the Angel – Archangel? God? – swung again, driving back the horde as the demons tried to converge on them.
"Get back!" he yelled, voice ringing with power. "Your King is dead. There is no victory for you here. Get back!"
The demon yowled and wailed again, screaming as they were either burned by Angelic fire, or fled their meat suits and flew away. Gabriel ran out of the house to join his brother, to help him, his own eyes flashing with white Grace as he wiped out the demon stain. The wolves flanked the two Angels until the last demon fled, their black smoke no longer tingeing the air. They could see the tiny sliver of the moon, as it was finishing its eclipse. More and more of it was being revealed as the eclipse ended. Gabriel felt the entire Earth tremble and sigh with relief.
The Archangel turned at the sound of his name, spoken in Dean's voice but not Dean's mind behind it. He could see the flare of his little brother inside of the Hunter, smiled despite himself, tears welling up in his eyes.
"You stupid son of a -."
"I must go," Castiel said, reaching forward and lightly stroking his hand down Gabriel's cheek. The Archangel could feel Castiel's Grace reach for him, fingers trembling on his outstretched hand, and he took Castiel's – Dean's – arm, pulling him in and resting their foreheads together.
"I'll take care of things," he whispered, and Castiel smiled, a relieved curve of his lips, flashing white teeth. Dark green eyes flared with Heavenly light and, for a split second, all seemed well. "Go, Castiel."
The Angel nodded, and Dean disappeared as Castiel winged away. Sam and Bobby came running out, panting, Sam's face holding a question that Gabriel didn't give him time to voice;
"He will return," the Archangel said with certainty, elation running through him – they'd survived. They'd…well, perhaps not won, but there had been a victory on this day. And Dean seemed…alright. There were a lot of questions that needed answering. But first; "Let us bury our dead. It is only right. Things will look clearer in the morning, I'm sure."
Bobby grunted, turning around and beginning to walk back to the house. Sam walked beside Gabriel. "Our prayers were answered, Sammy," he said, voice low and full of awe.
Sam smiled bitterly, wiping his forearm across his eyes, and said nothing in reply.
"He is here." Castiel knelt down, closing his eyes as he worked to repair another rift in Dean's body – the birth had not been easy on the Hunter. If he had been himself, fully able to experience the pain, it would have torn him apart. Castiel would not have been able to forgive himself for that, was glad that he could shield Dean, at least in that respect.
Strong, gentle hands reached down, picking up the small wriggling babe, and he held it close to his chest, affection and adoration curling around his Grace like red smoke. The baby blinked up at him, bright blue eyes gazing into his face. Dean could see, through Castiel's senses, the silver-grey curl of the werewolf soul inside of the body.
He's…Dean trailed off, unable to find the words he wanted to say to express the swell of emotion inside of him. Castiel, too, felt the wave of affection and love pouring between them, although it seemed reluctant on Dean's part.
"He will be a glorious child," Castiel whispered.
He's a monster, Cas, Dean replied, sounding like he was close to tears. What if he's evil? What if he…hurts someone?
"He won't if he is raised right," Castiel said, cradling the baby close when it started to wriggle, soft burbling sounds coming out around its – his – fist when he stuck it in his mouth and began to suck softly, feet kicking. Castiel found himself smiling and knew it was because Dean was smiling. His vision was blurring a little. "Dean…" He sighed, petting over his son's cheek as the baby's lashes fluttered, closing as he began to drift into sleep. "I don't regret this child, you know. I just…"
You know, Dean said, before Castiel could continue, and the Angel fell silent, I had a lot of time to think about what happened. I get that you just wanted to stop Raphael. And I…I don't wanna think about what would've happened if he'd gotten his hands on the souls. Castiel nodded, pressing his lips together. But you did some shit, man…you killed Angels.
"So have you," Castiel replied. "My brethren. And I have been responsible for many of their deaths long before I ingested the souls." A pause, and Castiel closed his eyes, sighing softly. "I raped you," he murmured.
The Hunter paused, before he said, very slowly and deliberately; We don't need to get into that. I wanted it.
Castiel closed his eyes, curling his fingers more tightly around his son. Never before had Castiel felt the urge to cry this strongly – Dean's words hurt more than his outright rejection and anger would have. "No, you didn't," he replied, shaking his head. He stood up again, setting his son back down in the makeshift bed he had managed to pile together out of old clothes and blankets and a pillow or two. It would suffice until Castiel returned to Sam, Bobby and Gabriel and the wolves. "I made you. I twisted and tortured you until you gave in. I…I did what I swore I would never do to you – never try and use my Grace to sway your mind but I did."
Cas. Dean's voice was low, pained. That was them. Not you. You…could never do that to me.
Castiel snarled. "I could. I have." He paused in his pacing, looking down at himself. Dean's body had returned to the physical state it had been in before Castiel had impregnated him – his stomach was toned and flat now, his arms and legs still muscled and strong. He held his hands in front of him, rubbing his hands together slowly and letting himself feel the slide of gun calluses and rough palms against each other. "Before this, I had never really known pleasures of the flesh, Dean. Never knew how it felt to want – carnally. Viscerally. Never knew the first slide into another body, how it felt to be inside of someone in a way that was not a vessel. Dean." He turned around, as though expecting Dean to be behind him, forgetting that he was inside of Dean. "I have wanted, and known now, and even when they are gone – when I no longer have them gnawing and eating at me, begging and pleading for you – I still want."
Dean paused again, and Castiel could feel the soul trembling in fear. He hated that – hated that Dean was afraid of him, possibly hated and loathed him. He ached with the urge to wrap his Grace and wings around the soul, to shelter it and keep it innocent as he once had, pulling Dean from the darkest Pit of Hell.
That doesn't matter, Dean finally said, and Castiel closed his eyes, swallowing. You got…you got a whole bunch of other shit to deal with right now, Cas. I mean…there's Heaven and the demons have no leader now and…
Finally, the Angel broke. He made a choked-off sound, pressing his hand against his mouth and clenched his eyes tightly shut, falling down to his knees and dropping his shoulders, kneeling like a broken man on the ground.
"Now…" Castiel whispers, trembling, his voice cracking. "Now you worry about Heaven. Now you worry about me."
I never stopped worrying about you, Dean snapped defensively, earning another short, bitter laugh. And what could I have possibly done to help with Heaven? Unless you count dyin'.
Castiel swallowed – the ache was building up in his chest, lodging in his throat. It was such a strange sensation, to fight hard not to cry.
Cas, I'm so sorry. But I think I understand now.
The first tears fell, then, as Castiel bent his head and wept. It was the only sound in the otherwise silent room, the Angel choking on his tears as they stung at his eyes, ached in his chest – felt like they were being ripped from his very Grace as he cried, icy trails of tears falling down his face and to the ground. He could feel Dean, the Hunter crawling closer and wrapping his soul around him tightly, holding on like he had seen Dean do for Sam. He cried for a very long time, he knew not how long, but by the end he was sore, his throat hurt and rasped when he tried to speak and swallow. With a wave of his hand it was like he had never lapsed, but the feeling was still there, inside of him, resting next to his heart.
Finally, when it was done, he wrapped his Grace tight around Dean and rose to his feet. "You are an infuriating creature, Dean Winchester," he whispered. "I will leave your body now, Dean. As you said, I have many things to do in Heaven."
Sure, Cas, anything you need.
Castiel paused, licking his lips, and then crossed the room to where his empty meat suit lay. He shoved the body over, looking down at the open mouth and blank, staring eyes. "Dean," he whispered.
"If I come back, will you let me in?"
He could hear Dean shrug. Might stab and shoot at you a few times. But what's that to an Angel?
Castiel laughed, shaking his head, and leaning down to press his mouth to his old vessel's. He felt an odd sense of loss as he uncurled from Dean's soul and poured back into the familiar, empty meat suit.
Just like old times, huh?
The Angel smiled, closed his eyes, and immersed himself inside of Jimmy's body. There was more room without the soul, but nothing would compare to being inside of the Michael Sword – he knew that now, knew it as sure as anything else. He blinked open eyes the color of the ocean, found Dean looking down at him, their faces inches apart as the Hunter became used to being in control of his own body again. Dean blinked and Castiel held his breath, slowly reaching up to touch his fingertips to Dean's face. He waited for the Hunter to flinch, expecting it as surely as the sunrise, and Dean tensed a little, eyes dropping from his gaze.
Castiel sighed and sat up, getting to his feet. "I will be back," he said. "Sam and Bobby and Gabriel are waiting for you." Before Dean could say anything, Castiel pressed two fingers to his forehead, whisking Dean and Jacob back to the wolves. He then flew to Heaven – the sooner he did what needed to be done, the better.
Dean appeared with his son in his hands on the front porch of the house. There were bodies lined up in front, both of wolf and man – demon vessels, he assumed – on top of a large pyre. Dean saw Sam going up and down the rows, spreading salt along the bodies and pouring gasoline on them.
Bobby spotted him first. "Thank God," he said, before he dropped his can of lighter fluid and ran up towards Dean, embracing him tightly. Dean jolted, wincing – he felt like he had a burn on the inside of his mouth and he couldn't speak. Instead, his arms curled protectively around the small child he was carrying, and he ducked his head to rest his forehead against Bobby's shoulder.
"Dean!" Soon Sam was in on the hug as well and Dean breathed in the scent of home that lingered on Sam's clothes. He wriggled an arm free to grasp Sam and Bobby tightly, his shoulders shaking – the shock of what was happening had been held at bay by Castiel's presence, but with it gone his body felt like it was shutting down. He was trembling.
"Shit. Let's get him inside."
"No!" Dean growled, pushing himself away. His throat felt like it was on fire and, despite his vehemence, there was no volume to his voice. "No…I need to…" He turned around, stumbling down the steps and towards where he spotted Leah, standing at one end of the wolf line. She looked up when he approached, tears staining her cheeks. "Is Aaron…?"
She shook her head, gesturing down to where the bodies ended. "He succumbed," she whispered, wiping her eyes with her hands. "His blood loss was too great. But his end was peaceful. He felt the Alpha being born and died with a smile."
Dean nodded, reaching a hand out to rest on her shoulder. It seemed strange, now, without the compulsion to protect her as though she was his own child. He squeezed gently and she smiled a little, her eyes wandering down to the small child cradled in Dean's arms. "Is this the Alpha?" she asked, and reached her arms out to hold him. Dean smiled and handed Jacob over, the baby kicking out, his closed fists flailing around before he settled in her arms. "He's a beautiful child," she cooed, bouncing him gently until he settled further, eyes closing again – a peaceful sleeper.
"Dean." The Hunter turned around, found Sam and Bobby watching him. "What happened?"
"I…" He laughed, running a hand through his hair as he shook his head. "Well, Crowley and Meg're zapped. Souls gone. Cas is…Well, he's back. Kind of."
"We saw you," Bobby said, voice tense. "He possessed ya."
"You gave him permission?" Sam asked, incredulous.
"It was that or die," Dean replied, shrugging one shoulder. "You should'a heard him, Sammy. And I believed him. I was just…" He took a deep breath, swallowing. "It was the only choice and, I mean. So far so good, right?"
Sam nodded. "A lot of people died today," he whispered.
Dean closed his eyes – he knew. The wolves' death would weigh on him for a very long time – even if they were 'monsters', they had only treated him with kindness and love. They were not evil in themselves, just…instinctual. He couldn't blame them for that.
"It's over now, hopefully," Bobby said, cutting through the silence. "And at least we're still kickin'. Now help me light the fire, boys – they ain't gonna burn themselves and we got enough to be seen from space."
"Yeah," Dean replied. "Leah, can you…?"
"I'll take care of him," the she-wolf replied, smiling slightly, and took Jacob into the house.
"Dean, you shouldn't strain yourself," Sam said as Dean took up a can of lighter fluid and a shovel, starting to dig a trench to bury the ashes in. Dean paused for a moment, before he straightened, looking Sam in the eye.
"Sam," he said, very slowly and in a measured tone. "Not that I don't appreciate where the sentiment is coming from or anything, 'cause I do, but for the past few days I have been able to do absolutely nothing but literally sit on my ass and wait to get fucked." Sam flinched, guilt flashing in his eyes, and Dean paused again, softening his tone. "I want to do something. So just…let me."
Sam swallowed, sighing and hanging his head. Sweat, dirt and blood matted his hair, making it stick together on the side of his face. "Did they get you?" Dean asked in concern, leaning closer to try and see if Sam had a wound anywhere.
"Not mine," he replied with a smile. "Go on. I'll help Bobby salt the rest of the bodies."
"Hey!" Dean called, and Sam turned around. "Where's Gabriel?"
Sam frowned, shrugging. "Haven't seen him since, well, since you showed up all Cas-ed up and wiped the place."
"Huh." Dean shrugged, and went back to digging his ditch.
"Castiel." The Angel turned in place, cool blue eyes regarding the group of Angels that had materialized at his presence. He folded his wings, kept them low in surrender, a gesture of peace. The Angels – Seraphs, mostly, those of his old rank – had their blades out, fear and determination shining in their Grace and eyes.
The leader stepped forward. "Castiel. You have done great evil to us. Sworn yourself by the Father's name. You must be punished for it."
"Brothers," Castiel replied, his feathers bristling a little in fear as he watched the light glint off their blades – he knew of Angel punishment, had felt it at his brothers' hands and did not wish for a repeat. But he would bear it if that was what was decided. "I have greatly wronged you. I come here to repent."
In a blink the Angels had him surrounded on all sides. A fine tremor of fear ran through Castiel's Grace. "Ah, young one," the lead Angel – Castiel did not know his name offhand – said, sighing and shaking his head. Something like true remorse shone in his Grace but was gone just as quickly as it had come. "You have greatly sinned. In ways only the Betrayer ever has."
"If you cast me out," Castiel whispered, shaking but forcing himself to appear calm, resigned, "then I will take that punishment gladly. I only ask that I be allowed to live on the Earth and not below it."
"Perhaps a greater punishment," one of the other Angels said, earning a flash of amusement from the group.
The lead Angel stepped forward, tilting Castiel's chin up with the tip of his blade. "I know why you ask this," he said, cocking his head to one side, meeting Castiel's eyes with a stoic brown-golden gaze. "It is a small mercy, but perhaps one that will bring you even more pain. What say you to that?"
"I am not fit for Heaven," Castiel replied, changing the subject and jerking his head away from the Angel's blade. He hissed his next words; "Do with me what you will."
The blow that had been aimed for Castiel's heart, to strike him down for Earth or worse, stopped a fraction of an inch from piercing the Angel's Grace. Castiel froze, knowing the voice, wide eyes turning to gaze upon the brother he had never seen in Heaven.
Gabriel stepped forward, shining with pure Grace unhindered by the visage of a human. He was glorious, his multitude of wings spreading out far, touching all the places on the Earth below, and higher up in the sky where the Seraphiel adorned their Father's possibly empty throne. His face, if he had such a thing as a face, was smiling, glowing with praise and might and the utter absolute that was God's power.
"Gabriel," Castiel gasped, falling to his knees in front of the Archangel – the last Archangel to stand in Heaven. The Archangel stepped closer, threads of Grace gleaming on the ground as he walked, and Castiel leaned against him, resting his cheek against his brother's 'hand'. "Gabriel. Forgive me."
"Archangel," the lead Seraph whispered, his voice low and awed, shining in a reflection of the powerful Archangel's Grace. "You have returned."
"Yes," Gabriel replied, voice low and solemn in a way that Castiel had never heard it before. "What were you doing here?"
"I have sinned," Castiel said, looking up into the eyes of his brother. "I deserve punishment."
Gabriel cocked his head to one side. "Sinned?" he asked, brushing his 'thumb' underneath Castiel's eyes. The burn of God's power made the Angel shiver, wings ducking low. "You have brought one of the greatest in Hell to nothing. You saved the world – again. You have managed to preserve the safety of the Righteous Man, his brother and his mentor, which was your original task, and you have eradicated the one who threatened our peace in Heaven." He smiled when Castiel's eyes flared open, disbelieving. "I do not call that a sin."
"The ends do not justify the means here, Gabriel," Castiel said, his voice almost a hiss.
"You have asked for forgiveness. Clearly you repent." Gabriel knelt down, taking Castiel's face in his hands, and placed a gentle kiss of benediction on the Angel's forehead. "I grant you that forgiveness, by our Father's command. It is yours to take. I could not punish you as much as you will punish yourself. Or Dean."
The mention of Dean's name brought a small, sardonic smile to Castiel's mouth. He looked at his older brother with adoration and relief. "Thank you."
Gabriel smiled, and then straightened. "Now, can we please get onto the good part?" he asked, his Grace compressing and morphing until he stood in human likeness, arms spread out in a gesture of welcome towards the Angels. "I'm pretty sure Cas will stay down on Earth more often than not, so I'm perfectly willing to fill in as the Boss-man until Dad gets home. Seems I'm the only one with a bit of sense around here."
Castiel blinked. "But you left Heaven for a reason."
"The reason I left Heaven," Gabriel said, looking back to Castiel, "is gone. Buried. You tried to start something new and, well, I'm gonna finish it. You are always welcome here, Castiel. But I know where you would rather be."
The Angel nodded, pressing his lips together – he could not deny it, and he did not want to. Being at the Winchesters' and Bobby Singer's side would make him happy, even with their annoying traits and incredibly stubborn ways. And with Heaven in the care of someone he trusted, Castiel felt a lot better about spending more time with them.
If he was welcome.
"I should go to him," the Angel said, and Gabriel nodded, smiling a little.
"Tell Sam I said 'Hey'."
"I shall," Castiel replied solemnly, dipping his head to the new leader of Heaven, before winging away.
The fire was climbing high, smoke joining with the night air and drifting away, marring the image of the moon and the stars. Dean, Sam, Bobby and Leah were inside the house, the rest of the wolves sleeping in the caves in the mountain.
Dean looked down at the slumbering child in his lap, a small smile on his face despite himself. The kid was the spitting image of a chubbier Castiel. Of course he was – hell, for a while he had been the guy. He sighed, running his fingers across the fine tuft of blond-ish hair on his head. Would probably darken like Dean's had to a brown.
The Hunter forced himself not to think of what kind of wolf he would grow up to be. What he would look like. If Dean would ever be around to see that.
There was a light flutter of wings and Dean looked up at the same time as the other occupants. Castiel was standing in the doorway, looking the same as ever. Infuriatingly the same, actually. "Hello, Dean," he said, and Dean pressed his lips together and nodded at him, and the Angel looked down, shifting uncomfortably. His eyes flashed to Sam.
"How are you?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.
Sam frowned. "Fine."
Castiel's expression cleared. "Good. The wall is holding," he said, nodding to himself like that was the final thing he had to check. Dean looked down, breathing out a huge sigh – he hadn't even thought about Sam's wall. God. His head was just so messed up.
"Leah," he said, looking up at the she-wolf. "I want you to take him."
She frowned at him. "Take who?"
No longer 'Alpha'. Figures. He coughed, clearing his throat, eyes flashing very quickly to Castiel before he gently bobbed his knee, where the child was resting in his arms. "I can't hunt and have a kid," he said before anyone could protest. "And I think he'd end up slightly less screwed up around, you know, people like him."
"Werewolves, Dean, you're allowed to say it," Bobby muttered dryly, shrugging when Dean shot him a death glare.
"Point is," he said, "I don't. And can't have him. So you should take him. He'd do better with you." He stood up, holding the child out to her and she swallowed, eyes flashing to Castiel for a moment. "Don't look at him, look at me." She did. "Just take him!"
Quietly she took Jacob from his arms and he blew out a breath, taking a step back.
He couldn't look at Castiel, or any of them – he left the room, and went upstairs to his own bedroom, shutting the door behind him although he knew it would do jack squat against –
There he was.
Dean turned around when he heard the tell-tale flutter of wings. Like soft, thick feathers now, and not the metallic 'sching' he had become so used to. "I'm not keeping it," he whispered, eyes flashing. "I can't. I don't want it."
Castiel's eyes were liquid and warm when he took a step closer, like his very soul – Grace – was being bared, and he reached for Dean, but the Hunter flinched away. "Don't touch me."
"Say something else!" Dean growled, whirling on Castiel. His vision was getting blurry and he wasn't sure why – he wiped at his eyes and found them wet. The sting of salt was heavy in the air. "Get angry, do something. Where did you go, huh? Where were you?"
"I was in Heaven," Castiel replied, pressing his lips together and looking down. "I had gone to repent in front of my brothers and to accept my punishment for my sins."
That pulled Dean up short. "You went to go let them just beat the crap outta you?" he asked incredulously, almost accusingly. Castiel nodded and Dean made a bitter, hateful sound. "Stupid son of a bitch. They could have killed you."
"Gabriel saved me. He has taken my position in Heaven." Castiel paused, taking a breath. "I imagine he will do the job a lot better than I did."
"So…what, you're not an Angel anymore?" Dean asked.
"Don't be absurd. I've always been an Angel."
"Right. Sorry. It's hard to tell when I'm standing straight."
"Dean." In a moment Castiel was across the room, standing too close to Dean like usual. One of his hands cupped the Hunter's cheek and Dean found himself unable to move – though whether that was because he couldn't or because he didn't want to was open to debate. The Angel's eyes were sincere, his voice heavy and pained; "You will never be able to understand how much I regret treating you like that, manipulating you and…forcing you. The only thing I do not regret about this whole ordeal is the return of my brother and the destruction of my enemy. And my child. But you do not want him."
"I can't raise a monster, Cas," Dean replied, voice raspy.
"And who would call him a monster?" Castiel demanded sharply, backing away. Feathers rustled in the air and the Angel growled in frustration. "You have called your brother a monster – you have called me a monster. I would think by the third time you would learn that 'creature' and 'evil' are not the same things!" He let out a short, sharp breath. "You are incredible, Dean Winchester, but sometimes I just want to smite you."
"I'm trying," Dean hissed, taking a step forward. "I'm trying to get it. I understood why you had to do it – really. I really do. Raphael would have been ten tones of bad mojo comin' down on us if you hadn't gotten the souls first. I get that.
But why everything else? The children, the armies? Trapping us – forcing me and threatening Sam when I tried to fight back…You took away everything that I was. Made me something I never wanted to be and now, what? What am I supposed to do?"
For a long moment, there was silence, Dean and Castiel staring at each other across the few feet and the miles that seemed to separate them. Before – before all of this, before everything changed between them – Castiel would not have hesitated to reach for Dean and comfort him. But now. Everything was different. Everything had changed.
"Fuck," Dean whispered, deflating as he sat down on his bed, still wrinkled from where he had been laying down when the birth had started, "do you even care?"
In a blink of an eye Castiel was there, in front of Dean, and when the Hunter looked up to meet his eyes, Castiel slowly sank to his knees between Dean's legs, his hands resting gently on the Hunter's knees. The position was familiar, achingly so, and Dean closed his eyes, taking a deep breath when Castiel reached for him, gently touching the scar still lingering on Dean's neck from the vampire bite.
"Never doubt my devotion to you," Castiel whispered, ducking his head to look Dean in the eye when the Hunter's eyes reopened. "The souls lowered my inhibitions, perhaps, and made me more into a creature of instinct that I would have been otherwise, but the emotion behind it, the want – Dean, you – were always behind it. You still are."
"I know," Dean replied, shaking his head and forcing Castiel to release his hold on him. "That's what scares me, Cas. I mean…fuck, it hurt the first time. What happens if…?"
"You think I would betray you again? You think any of this would happen again? No." Castiel gripped Dean's face, forcing him to meet his gaze again. "Dean Winchester, I swear my love and fealty to you. I swear that you will never need to fear me like that again – that I will protect you, and Sam, and Bobby until you have all passed on and I can be with you in the Heavens."
"You shouldn't have to do that," Dean whispered, shaking his head. "Don't do that."
"I don't want you to swear anything to me!" he snapped, moving to rise but Castiel would not budge, so he sat back down. "No deals, no plots, no nothing. Just…" He paused, leaning forward, placing his hands on Castiel's shoulders. "Just you. And me. Sam, Bobby, Gabriel. Just…let's just kind of be for a while and see what happens."
It was selfish and Dean knew that – knew how Castiel felt about him now and still asking him to stick around with no real promise of 'It gets better'.
Castiel blinked at him, brow furrowing slightly as he tried to work out the puzzle that was Dean Winchester. "Do you love me, Dean?" he whispered after a very long moment.
The Hunter sighed, closing his eyes, and rested their foreheads together. His hands slid from Castiel's shoulders to his neck, thumbs brushing along his jaw. He opened his eyes again.
"Yeah, Cas. Pretty sure I do."
After all, no one who he didn't love would be able to get under his skin so easily.
They did still leave Jacob with Leah and the wolves – it was better for him, Dean was convinced, to be raised with his own kind. And Leah had said the wolves were going to start fresh – move further north, to the rainy country. There was a pack up there willing to take them in, it was said. And Dean was satisfied with that. He knew he would be able to visit the child any time and Castiel had promised to stick around and make sure Jacob was okay.
It was best for everyone involved. And if Dean had to take a few deep breaths before letting his son go, well, that was his business and everyone else could quietly shut up. He had the Impala rumbling underneath him, Sam in shotgun, and Castiel and Bobby in the back seat. He had a feeling that Gabriel might be perched on the roof for shits and giggles too, but he wasn't gonna stop the car and find out.
After a few hundred miles where Dean was driving pretty much anywhere, Sam turned to him. "How's Hell central up there?" Dean asked before he could say anything.
Sam sighed. "It's good," he replied. "Really good. I'm not getting flashbacks or anything and…yeah. It's good."
There was another long pause. "Dean, you know you're gonna have to face up to this…thing…eventually. Cas did some shit and -."
"I know," he replied, eyes flashing to the rear view mirror. Castiel appeared to be in a kind of 'lights on no one's home' kind of trance, but Dean wasn't sure he wasn't listening. Either way, it didn't really matter to him. "But I don't know, man. He did kind of save the world for us, too."
"…In that roundabout way…"
He looked to Castiel's reflection again and bit his lip, licking them again. Deserts were too damn dry. "Have faith in him, Sammy. He deserves it by now. He was gonna go to Heaven to get his ass whooped 'cause he was so guilty. And, I mean, I can relate to that kinda self-beatin'." He paused, tilting his head to one side. "You didn't feel 'im, Sammy. He was…" He closed his eyes for a brief moment, breathing deep. "Did Lucifer feel like that?"
Sam frowned, shaking his head. "Probably not."
"…Shame." Dean turned his face away, checking the rear view mirror before switching lanes, kicking his Baby up another gear. "Point is, he's not goin' anywhere and I don't want him to. We could always use an Angel on hunts – he's saved our ass more than once."
Sam smirked slightly, shaking his head and returned to staring out the window. "You got it bad, Dean."
"Nothin'. I'm happy for you." And Sam just continued to smile and shake his head despite Dean's demands that he explain. Eventually Dean subsided and, as payback, turned up Led Zeppelin to an almost deafening volume. Sam winced and turned over, pretending to go to sleep, and when Dean looked in the rear view mirror again, he could see Castiel smiling.