The Second-Best Rank

Danielle Frances Ducrest

Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to the CW. Any copyright infringements were not intended. This story was written for entertainment and not for profit.

Spoilers and Timing: This takes place in the alternate universe revealed in the Supernatural ep. "The End," a few months before the events of that episode (then it goes AU). Spoilers are for that episode and more general spoilers are for other episodes.

Summary: Sequel to "Grace Abounding." Castiel leaves Camp Chitaqua and goes to what he hopes is a safe place to practice being an angel again. It isn't easy; he'd become too accustomed to humanity, and what had once been the only perspective he'd known has become alien to him now. Meanwhile, a storm that would be at home in a hurricane comes to the camp, and it's only a prelude to even worse trouble.

...

The scream shot up through the clouds themselves, making them vibrate and scatter to form new patterns. The scream spread across the surface of the Earth, torn from a throat that cried in agony but also, amazingly, pleasure. Despite its power, the scream could not be heard by any Earth bound creature. The voice cried in a pitch so high no one heard it...except for him.

He looked up. He'd heard a sound like it before, but never on Earth. One of the torturers in the Fifth Circle knew just what to do to a male soul's testicles to create a sound like that. But he was on Earth, where he couldn't hear the cries of the damned; this new scream did not come from Hell. Demons waited in other rooms of this abandoned mansion, but they had no humans to play with, at the moment.

This strange pleasure-scream reached him from far away, somewhere to the southwest. Only one being could have made such a scream, a being he'd heard only because of the connection between angels.

"Ah," he said, speaking softly. "Welcome back, Castiel. I'd wondered how long it would be before you returned."

He wasn't certain if Castiel heard him. No matter. They'd meet soon enough.

He stood from the chair and walked across a white rug to the mirror. The marble fireplace beneath it was empty, soot from the last fire left there for about five years. The heat of flames did little to combat the chill that constantly drifted from his vessel's body, so he rarely bothered with hearth fires.

He looked in the mirror. Sam Winchester's reflection stared back. He could see nothing of Sam's intensity in that gaze, just his own perpetual calm. "Your friend Cas is back to full strength, Sam."

He watched his vessel's lips move in time with the words, but Sam didn't answer. They hadn't exchanged a word in years. He was certain it was only a matter of time before Sam woke again and renewed the efforts to retake control of the body they shared, just as he was not surprised that Castiel had found his Grace.

Things were about to become interesting.