Title: The strength of an Angel
Rating: Um, like, PG. There's a swear word.
Characters: Castiel, Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, Zachariah. Mentions of John Winchester and Bobby Singer.
Spoilers: Everything up to the end of season four, especially 4.21 and 4.22
Summary: Castiel's thoughts during his scenes in 4.21 and 4.22.


I stood and listened to him yell for a long while, debating with myself if going to him was the right choice. Each decision I made these days was one of morals, it was becoming difficult to see which ones were right and which ones were wrong.

My superiors, my brothers, would have wanted me to appear before him right away. The slight tinge of desperation in his voice would've had them racing here, to the salvage yard, to hear if he was going to finally give in and serve us. I stood nearby and listened instead. I debated.

If I did not appear… If I stayed standing here invisible to all but my brothers, then he wouldn't have the chance to accept our mastery of his fate. He would not be able to swear himself over and he would not begin the chain of events that so many told me had to take place.

Castiel.

But of course they were watching me now.

Go to him. Now.

An order. Orders were what I was good at. All I was good at. The only thing worthwhile in my life was my ability to fallow and obey.

So I appeared. Standing underneath the light, looking at him, hands deep in the pockets of Jimmy's overcoat.

"Well it's about time. I've been screaming myself horse out here for about two and a half hours now." He looked distressed.

"What do you want?" I started towards him. I didn't really want to know, but I asked anyway. The gravel crunched underfoot and I marvelled at the strange sensations I always felt in this…Form. I wondered what Jimmy would say if he knew what I was doing.

"Well you could start with what the hell happened in Illinois." Dean. He just spent two hours calling for me and the first thing he asks about is Illinois. I toyed with the idea that he felt abandoned, but dismissed it. It was unlikely he cared enough about me to feel that way.

"What do you mean?" I knew exactly what he meant, but I couldn't say that out loud. I could barely think it in my own brain without fear.

"Oh cut the crap, you were going to tell me somethin'." I turned my gaze away. Meeting his eyes was not an option in that instant. I wondered if he noticed.

"No, nothing of import." I looked at him, studied his face. He looked tired. His voice carried a strange scratchy sound with it. He paused to look at me like I was an idiot.

"You got ass-reamed in heaven." I looked away again. If only he knew what had happened when I was pulled back, he wouldn't speak of it. "But it was 'not of import'?"

"Dean." I tried to use a warning tone, but it only came out fragile to my ears. When had I become so…emotional? "I can't." I kept my head angled away but managed to peer at him. It didn't last long. "I'm sorry." And I was. Truly and deeply sorry.

I walked away, trying to put distance between myself and the lies I would have to tell to this man who had become my… Friend. An angel with a friend, what a ridiculous notion. I was not a creature designed for friendship. I was a creature designed for war, for comrades and commanders. Not… Whatever this was.

"Get to the real reason you called me. It's about Sam, right?" He was quiet. I could tell that he wanted to press the issue and prayed he wouldn't.

"Can he do it?" I nearly laughed. Oh, could he ever. "Kill Lilith. Stop the apocalypse?"

I was glad my back was turned. "Possibly, yes." I forced my feet to move, I forced myself to turn towards him. "But as you know, he'd have to take certain steps." Even the way I spoke was becoming more human. 'He'd?' Since when did I—

"Crank up the hell-blood regimen." His brow was furrowed, his eyes narrow. I couldn't tell if it was anger or rebellion against the idea. I still had problems identifying facial expressions.

"Consuming the amount of blood it would take to kill Lilith would change your brother forever." Into what the angels wanted him to be. Which they still hadn't told me, but… It could be nothing good. Dean's face was all hard angles and tight lips.

"Most likely, he would become the next creature you would feel compelled to kill." My mind baulked at the thought. "There is no reason this would have to come to pass, Dean."

Here it was. Use the angel that Dean trusted, called upon for help, to manipulate him. I tried to hold back the anger bubbling in my mind, afraid they might sense it. They were watching all the time now. My re-education had been tedious for them and they… They were loath to repeat it. As was I, but that was the point, was it not?

"We believe it's you Dean, not your brother." We. How I hated that. I was once again in the host, once again felt the love and acceptance of my brothers. But our commanders regarded me with suspicion. With good reason. I stood before him again, this human that had awakened more doubt in me over one year then I had ever felt before. Not in all the thousands of years I had spent silently watching them go about their lives had I felt this much confusion.

"The only question for us is whether you're willing to accept it. Stand up and accept your role. You are the one who will stop it." Us. Zachariah would be so pleased.

He took a deep breath.

"If I do this. Sammy doesn't have to?"

Oh father. Forgive me for this. If this is your will, then I shall obey. I struggled to keep my gaze steady, something that had never troubled me before.

"If it gives you comfort to see it that way." Not the truth. But not exactly a lie.

"God you're a dick these days." I agreed. Whole-heartedly. I let a hint of emotion escape to my face when he turned. Something in my mind began to speak up.

Tell him. Tell him now, Castiel. Tell him before you can't. It wasn't orders. It was pleading.

"Fine I'm in."

Don't say that Dean. The same pleading voice. Take it back. Take it back, now.

I tried to stall. "You give yourself over, wholly, to the service of God and his angels?"

"Yeah. Exactly."

"Say it." A strange hope lingered inside me that he would refuse. Because if he refused I could go to them, those clever superiors of mine, and tell them he wasn't committed. That I tried my best.

He turned to look at me, and his expression gave me further hope. He looked incredulous.

"I give myself over wholly, to serve God, and you guys." My heart sank, but more occurred to me.

"You swear to fallow his will, and his word, as swiftly and obediently as you did your own father's?" If there were ever someone Dean would balk at comparing God to, it would be John Winchester.

"Yes. I swear."

The last of my futile hope broke.

"Now what?"

Take it back, Dean.

"Now you wait. And we call on you when it's time."

We stood staring at one another for a moment, and he broke eye contact first, flickering his eyes to the ground and shaking his head slightly.

I wished I were stronger.


Undoing the handcuffs was easy, physically. My power was there, my connection to the host strong. Mentally it was fairly simple as well. The door was where things became hard.

I knew by opening that door I was betraying Dean, Sam and Bobby. I knew that by fulfilling orders I was breaking off a piece of this strange, newfound sympathy I had for humans. I was obeying. I was…

I opened the door.

Sam's face was damp with sweat and confused. Confusion, the one thing all humans seemed to have. Not matter what their lives were like and no matter how much they enjoyed existence; they were all confused.

"Hello?" I didn't answer. Even if I had been allowed to, I wouldn't have.

"Someone here?" He was pushing the door open bit by bit.

Yes. I am. But I'm not, really.

I watched him walk up the stairs and shut the door after him, sliding the lock in place slowly, hesitantly.

What are you doing, Castiel?


"What did you do?" Anna stood there in the dark, staring at me.

I'm not sure I know anymore.

"You shouldn't have come, Anna." She was doomed, now. They watched and they waited and they commanded me. Call her. So I did.

"Why would you let out Sam Winchester?" She didn't know then. That I served them once again. Or maybe she hoped differently.

"Those were my orders." My only defence, now. I was just fallowing orders. Never mind the carnage that would fallow that one action, forget that they had selected me to do it as proof that I was theirs once more. Orders. I was a tool. But more then that, I was an example to my brothers of what happened when you considered disobedience.

"Orders? Cas, you saw him. He's drinking demon blood." Yes he was. The road to hell and all that, right? Though I was privately glad he had saved Jimmy's wife.

"It's so much worse then we thought." Worse then she had thought, perhaps. I knew differently now.

"Dean was trying to stop him." And I undid that. For heaven. For God. Maybe.

"You really shouldn't have come." I stared at the ground behind her. So human, not being able to face the consequences of your own actions. I was beginning to detest humanity.

I looked up just as they took her, the bright white light pushing into my primitive eyes. I watched it fade.

I looked to the sky but didn't speak. The railing was slick and cool against my palm when I leant my weight against it.

Thinking. I had to stop that pesky thinking.


"Hello Dean." His expression was one of confused panic, which is the one expression I recognized easily. Humans wore it often. "It's almost time."

He opened his mouth to say something, but Zachariah's call interrupted him. I left.


I was a silent witness to Zachariah's conversation with Dean, standing at attention behind my superior while they… talked. Dean's 'pissed and leaving' comment made me chuckle on the inside but I made sure none of my amusement escaped to my face. He probably wouldn't have liked it.

I was witness once again to Dean's phone call. Watching him pace around while trying to keep the break out of his voice hurt, but what hurt more was the next set of orders.

Change the message. Push them apart.

For the first time in a long time, I spoke up against them.

He is here. They are on their paths. Must I—

Change the message. The host commands it.

So I did. The words Dean spoke left his lips one way but twisted and turned in the speaker to something different. Something I knew would only push Sam further.

Fuck you. I thought. And it was a very satisfying thought. It changed nothing, however.

Weakling. An angel of God, and you are a pathetic, stupid weakling.


When he broke the statue I wondered whom he was thinking about, but chose not to ask. Maybe it was because I feared the answer.

"You asked to see me." More like demanded. Dean Winchester rarely asked for things and while it could sometimes be tiresome, this time I didn't really care. Guilt is a strange thing; it makes one overlook petty personality flaws.

He cleared his throat, and looked a little embarrassed.

"Yeah, listen, I ah… I need something." Probably women. It had to be.

"Anything you wish." I hoped they wouldn't make me stand guard while he… Eugh. It was one thing to know he'd done that with Anna, it was another to be forced to stand and invisibly watch.

"I need you to take me to see Sam."

What? No. They said this wouldn't be a problem. I felt panic. Until this point I had managed to avoid denying Dean what he wanted. Avoided outright lies. But this…

"Why?"

"There's something I gotta talk to him about."

"What's that?" I knew exactly what. I knew what would happen if he did. And I knew what would happen to me. I suddenly wondered if I was doing this because I knew the host was right, or if I was just trying to avoid further re-education. It was a sobering thought.

"The BM I took this morning, what's it to you? Just make it snappy." I wished with everything I had that it were that simple.

"I don't think that's wise." Which was the truth. But the look Dean gave me forced my eyes away. Yet again my actions were causing me shame. I tried to remember what it was like to believe everything my superiors said was true and just, and found that I couldn't. Further, the little I did recall felt less like blissful belonging and more like…. Irrational stupidity.

"Well I didn't you ask for your opinion." I suddenly wanted him to. It would make telling him very simple. I grabbed the first idea to appear in my brain and used it. I had to stop thinking about helping him. It was what got me into trouble in the first place.

"Have you forgotten what happened the last time you met?" Yes. Pushing old buttons, opening wounds that were fairly fresh. Perhaps this would convince him to drop the issue.

"No. That's whole the point." Or not.

"Listen, I'm going to do whatever you mooks want, okay? I just need to tie up this one thing. Five minutes, that's all I need." Five minutes would be more then enough time to undo all of their work. All the effort they put into looking like the seals mattered to them could be destroyed in about two.

"No."

"What do you mean no? Are you saying that I'm trapped here?" It wasn't exactly what I was saying, but it was pretty close.

"You can go wherever you want." With me floating over his shoulder keeping an eye on him, of course.

"Super, I wanna go see Sam."

"Except there." Denying him. He would know something was wrong.

"I wanna take a walk." Of course he did. I gave a mental sigh.

"Fine, I'll go with you." Maybe I could 'lose' him along the way, but there was no guarantee that other angels wouldn't fallow along.

"Alone." Insistent. That was always Dean. But again, I found myself overlooking the demanding quality his voice held.

"No."

"You know what? Screw this noise, I'm outta here" He turned away and I knew what had to happen. I regretted it the instant I realized.

"Through what door?" And just like that, I removed the door and cloaked myself. He started bashing the walls seconds later, and I forced myself to watch. Suddenly I felt I needed to.


"You can't reach him, Dean. You're outside your coverage zone." That was a joke, was it not? It was hard for me to tell, human humour still escaped me most of the time. Dean wasn't smiling but I could hardly blame him.

"What are you gonna do to Sam?" Sam. Everything came back to his brother with Dean. I wanted to tell him we would be doing something to him, but I felt like lying at this point would be redundant. I watched him carefully.

"Nothing. He's gonna do it to himself."

"What's that supposed to mean?" I hesitated. If I told—

"Oh, right, right. Got to toe the company line. Why are you here, Cas?" It was like he could read my mind. I'd been assured before that humans did not posses this ability… Well most humans, anyway. But with Dean it always seemed different. I could sense the colour of his emotions, could see conflicting feelings within his mind… The overwhelming feeling was betrayal. Was that because of me?

"We've been through much together, you and I. And I just wanted to say… I'm sorry it ended like this." It didn't cover a fraction of the truth, but it was all I could say.

"Sorry?" He glanced away for a brief moment, his body turning slightly. I saw the intent before he did and felt him launch his fist at my face. It connected solidly, and I made sure to move my head with the motion so he wouldn't be permanently damaged. Zachariah wouldn't like that.

As it was, I heard him make a choked noise while facing the other direction.

"It's Armageddon, Cas. You need a bigger word than "sorry."

"Try to understand - this is long foretold. This is your-" He cut me off.

"-Destiny? Don't give me that "holy" crap." I shut my mouth. I was beginning to sound like Zachariah.

"Destiny, God's plan... It's all a bunch of lies, you poor, stupid son of a bitch! It's just a way for your bosses to keep me and keep you in line!" He pointed at me. Accusing, angry. "You know what's real? People, families - that's real. And you're gonna watch them all burn?"

Yes. That was what I was going to do. Because rebellion wasn't an option. But my mouth opened before I could stop it, and words came spilling out.

"What is so worth saving? I see nothing but pain here. I see inside you. I see your guilt, your anger, confusion. In paradise, all is forgiven. You'll be at peace. Even with Sam." I was shocked by my own words. I didn't just sound like Zachariah now, I was him. I lowered my gaze to stare at the floor.

When did I become Zachariah?

Dean was quiet for a moment, then ducked his head into my line of sight. He was forcing me to meet his eyes, forcing me to look at what I was doing. A surge in my chest made me suddenly afraid. This was not good.

"You can take your peace... and shove it up your lily-white ass. 'Cause I'll take the pain and the guilt. I'll even take Sam as is. It's a lot better than being some Stepford bitch in paradise." I didn't know what he meant by 'Stepford bitch', but the rest seemed pretty plain. "This is simple, Cas!"

I turned away. He didn't want paradise? He didn't want peace? Only Dean Winchester would do this "No more crap about being a good soldier. There is a right and there is a wrong here, and you know it."

I did know it. Of course I did. But which right did I choose? Gods' right? Deans' right? Did I rebel against my family for one human, one speck of life on this planet?

"Look at me!" He grabbed my shoulder and spun me to face him, and my mind began to race. Part of me begged him to leave me be, to let me continue doing what they asked. The rest of me urged him to continue. "You know it! You were gonna help me once, weren't you? You were gonna warn me about all this, before they dragged you back to bible camp. Help me - now. Please."

I didn't say no. God help me, I didn't refuse him. I should have but I didn't. Instead I gazed at the wall behind him with my lips slightly parted and asked a question that should have never even crossed my mind.

"What would you have me do?"

"Get me to Sam! We can stop this before it's too late." It was too late. He didn't know that, of course, but it was almost, if not already, done.

"I do that, we will all be hunted. We'll all be killed." He didn't understand. Couldn't understand. They would be relentless and fall upon us like fire.

"If there is anything worth dying for... this is it." Perhaps he understood more then I thought. I tried to meet his gaze, but found myself staring at the floor. Again.

"You spineless... soulless son of a bitch. What do you care about dying? You're already dead. We're done."

"Dean –" I almost whispered. I wanted so badly to explain…

"We're done."

My own confusion overtook me. Suddenly I couldn't stand being there, standing with him, listening to my own thoughts and doubts be thrown at me from someone else. From him.

With a flutter, I left.


I hadn't made my decision until I watched Dean pick up the carefully wrapped burger, and even then it was a surprise to me.

I clutched his shoulder and hurled him against the wall, clamping one hand over his mouth. If he spoke it would only alert them sooner, and they had to know I was there already. I drew the abominations' knife from Jimmy's belt and showed it to him.

Dean nodded. He understood. Thank God for small miracles.

I released him and pulled the blade across my forearm. The pain was surprisingly sharp but I ignored it. I caught the blood on my fingers and began to work. The sigil was relatively simple.

"Castiel!" Zachariah's vessel had a bureaucratic tone to its' voice, and I glanced over. I didn't pause. Pausing was wasting time, time that we didn't have and couldn't afford to lose.

"Would you mind explaining just what the hell you're doing?"

I explained by slamming my bloody palm into the centre of the sigil, letting the blinding light wash over us as he was forced back to heaven.

"He won't be gone long. We have to find Sam, now."

"Where is he?"

"I don't know, but I know who does." I held out the knife to him and felt a sudden rightness in my heart, if I had one. This. This was the right thing to do. I knew it now. And yes, maybe it was too late, but it was all I could do.

"We have to stop him Dean. From killing Lilith."

"But Lilith's gonna break the final seal."

"Lilith is the final seal." Finally. Finally I could say it out loud, to someone who didn't know and who could maybe, just maybe, do something about it. The weight on my soul seemed to fade. "She dies, the end begins."

I had finally made a choice. And suddenly, I felt free. Maybe I would die. It was likely… But maybe I had done some good.

Maybe I had shown some strength.