A/N: This is the chapter where the author decides that CANON DOESN'T EXIST BWAHAHAHA, so Chuck isn't God, God is a dick, and the tablets don't close Hell or Heaven (give me a break, I started writing this over hellatus). I feel guilty for liking Crowley's scenes more than anyone else's, because honestly the story was originally supposed to be mostly Dean and Castiel, but Sam went and got himself a badass storyline and well, things changed.
Lots of dialogue this chapter. It's short, and the quality is, well… but point is, I do plan on finishing it. Yay! (Boo)
"No, it doesn't! At all! Why the hell do you keep doing things like this?"
They stopped talking pretty quickly after that. They were too busy punching the living daylights out of each other, too busy stubbornly trying to establish dominance and prove that they were right, when they both knew there was nothing right about the situation at all. Nothing could ever make it right. And after a while, even the blows fell off, Castiel too worn and unwilling to fight back, Dean sobbing too hard to lift his shaking fist. It was always so much worse when the anger wore off, he thought. It was like being flayed alive.
"Goddamn it, Cas. Fuck. Fuck. Why." Dean collapsed onto his knees, hid his face in his hands.
"Shut up. You need to stop. You need to… god, you're bleeding all over the place. I'm so—fuck, fuck. I didn't want this. I didn't want any of it."
"Don't do that, don't you dare say that. God, Bobby, he's, he's gone for good, isn't he? No Heaven, even. "
Castiel didn't answer.
"Couldn't we have saved him?"
"I wish it were me, Cas. I can't take this. I keep thinking, next time it'll be easier, it won't hurt as much. But. Every goddamn time."
"Dean, if there were any way I could…" How could he say it? How could anything he had to say help when he'd never cared about Bobby the way Dean had? He would only make it worse.
"I know." Dean's voice was strained. "I just… let's sit for a minute, okay?"
So they sat together in silence, and Castiel didn't comment when Dean clutched his arm like a drowning man, didn't say a word when he noticed how badly the hunter's shoulders were shaking.
"Um," Chuck said, running a nervous hand through his hair. "I couldn't help but notice. That there are, um, t-there are a few more people here than usual."
God turned His powerful gaze unto the stuttering prophet, who blanched. "It is necessary that these things come to pass," He said, not unkindly. "You know this."
"S-see here, that's the thing, I've been trying to tell you. W-when I had that vision, I mean, I was reaaaaally drunk at the time, s-so I only remember bits and pieces. Um." He coughed, and scratched his arm. "One piece, really. So, um, seeing as you've abducted me from Earth and all, you could… tell me what's going on?"
"I shall yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of men," God said mysteriously, and disappeared.
Chuck sighed. "Well, that went well," he muttered. Worriedly, he squinted at the growing masses of souls gathering by the banks of the Lethe. "This can't be good. If only I knew how to get back… I'm sure Sam and Dean would know what to do."
"I don't know what to do," Sam groaned, pitching himself into the motel bed. Molly peered at him noncommittally over her cup of coffee. In spite of Sam's best efforts, she wouldn't get a room of her own, because she "couldn't afford it," and there was "a perfectly good bed right there."
"Hit the books again?" she shrugged and sipped some more of her coffee, looking irritatingly blissful. Sam glared.
"How on earth do you drink so many of those, anyway? And sleep?"
Molly tapped the side of the Styrofoam. "It's decaf. Win-win."
"Can't you use some Satanic spell to help look? That's how you found me, right?"
She shifted uncomfortably, unpleasant memories of Fairy Fest cropping up unbidden. "Well, not exactly. And I wouldn't. I'm here to watch you and report to the Boss Man, King Turdface. And then report back to you. Not get involved in whatever crazy dealings you're tangled up with. I want to stay alive, thank you very much."
"Helping locate a tablet isn't going to kill you, you know."
Sam sighed, massaging his forehead as if he could squish some ideas out of his brain if he just rubbed hard enough. "All I have is this one thing, this sacred mountain pattern. It's not even helpful because, at some point or other, every mountain's been considered sacred by at least one tribe or sect. I can't figure out which mountains to search. I can't find any other signs or omens to link them together. Crowley's entire demon army can't find a damn clue, or I'm assuming so, since he won't contact us. Sometimes… I've wondered lately whether or not it's all a wild goose chase. You know?"
Molly stared at him evenly. "Have you considered trying Candy Mountain?"
"Hilarious. Yep. C'mon, Charlie. Take a nap or something before you give yourself a hernia."
God congratulated Himself. He had created the world's greatest Easter Egg Hunt. Granted, there was only one participant, and there weren't really any goodies in the eggs that He hid, but it proved an excellent distraction for the new Prophet, a game that ate up all of his attention and brainpower, which might otherwise have turned towards more dangerous pursuits. Which might have noticed the strange things that had been happening worldwide over the past few months.
But there was a hiccup in the plan. The Prophet had found all of the easy eggs, and was getting discouraged. Before long, he might start asking questions, or use that infernal blood ritual he'd been given. That Dean Winchester needed to stay where he was, was an unfortunate necessity.
A personal appearance was imperative. But He needn't be too obvious. At least the demon was no longer a threat.
Crowley had lost control of his forces. It was galling, that it had happened so quickly. They were following his orders one day, albeit reluctantly. Then… they weren't. Poof, and suddenly Damien was pulling all of the strings. It pissed Crowley off royally; he was the wiliest demon in Hell, and this upstart, this novice (he forgot Damien was a good five centuries older than him) was causing problems when they all had a bloody huge pile of Godly shit on their plates. Why did demons have to be so brainless?
"You should have listened to me," Mantus said, voice too soft, when Crowley started packing his bags in preparation to flee.
"No, I shouldn't have, you dimwitted snail. Threats, really? I can't pretend to have an arsenal when I don't have an arsenal! They know perfectly well what's going on, where the souls have to be going. But the idiots think they can deal with it better themselves. Fine. I'll just remove myself until they're done slitting their throats."
"You don't mean that."
"I bloody well do." Crowley looked back at his follower, and grinned. "I hate demons. I often fantasize about putting them on the racks, because the humans? They're smarter. And you, my friend." He chuckled. "You. I've wanted to kill you since the day I met you."
Pulling out his acquired angel sword, Crowley stabbed him in the gut, making a pleased grunt when Mantus gurgled out his dying scream.
"Right," he said, straightening his coat. Hefting up his suitcase, he looked over his office wistfully, one last time. "I believe that's everything."
"Listen," Dean said, coughing uncomfortably. He couldn't believe himself; he'd gone from beating Castiel to a bloody pulp, to crying himself to sleep on the dude's shoulder. It was all kinds of messed up. He was all kinds of messed up. "You're, um. You didn't have to just sit there all night."
Castiel just gave him a faintly bemused look, so Dean decided to drop it. He stood up, stretched awkwardly. "We really need to get out of here. I don't think we've been stuck anywhere this long."
Something in his tone caught Dean's attention, and he turned to look at his friend more closely. His eyes widened. "You. You haven't healed yet."
Castiel touched the side of his face absently. It was heavily bruised. "It appears that way, yes."
Dean tried to swallow the lump in his throat, and almost choked. It was like trying to swallow an orange whole. "Were you planning on telling me about your angel battery dying?"
Once again, at the mention of his failing powers Castiel winced "Perhaps, if the occasion arose. We've been busy, Dean."
"You don't understand. If I'd known… I wouldn'tve… things like that are kind of important, Cas!"
"Wouldn't have what?" With some difficulty, Dean met his eyes again, finding to his horror some lingering fury behind them. "Dean."
"I need you to stop. Stop feeling guilty. I can't… handle any more guilt. There's too much."
Dean sat back down, a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach as his hand ghosted over Cas' bruised forearm. "I know. I get that, but Cas, you've got to understand that I've already forgiven you for—"
Castiel laughed bitterly, cutting him off. "You're missing the point, Dean. Again. It wasn't just betraying you, breaking Sam… that's already unforgivable. But I killed so many, on Earth, in Heaven—"
"You think I don't know that? I've heard this from you already, Cas. I heard it on the fucking news when you went psychotic. I heard it from that bitch of an angel who tried to stab you in the cabin. I get it, alright?!"
"Then how can you say—"
"Because you're you, Cas. You're not hopped-up on Purgatory souls anymore and, and you're good."
Castiel shook his head, sadly. "I think I would have done it anyway. I was so angry."
"Cas. Cas, look at me."
Castiel looked, and the steely glint in Dean's eye was the most terrifying thing he had ever seen.
"You're asking me to stop feeling guilty. So okay. What I can't wrap my head around is the fact that you expect me to do that and let you wallow in your own guilt party. That's just not happening."
"It's not the sa—"
"Bullshit. Bullshit. I, I beat you up last night, Cas, and I'm kind of wondering why you seem not to care—"
"You're forgetting that I 'beat you up' as well—"
"Shut up, Cas. I've done so much other crap to you too, and I've said things to Sam when I was angry that I, that I wish I never said, I've killed things that didn't deserve killing, and I—"
"When I went to Hell, I tortured souls. And I liked it. So don't you dare start spouting shit about your sins being unforgivable or whatever. Then what am I supposed to do with myself?"
Castiel stared at him, mouth agape. Was this something else he ruined? Dean's ability to forgive himself for something that had been imposed on him from without?
Dean had turned away, staring into the darkness that was the end of the cave. His shoulders were tense, frustrated.
"You know," he said quietly, only turning a fraction towards Castiel. He laughed, too loudly. "I bet if we just kept walking, we could walk right out of this place. Else we're just gonna rot here. Whaddaya say? Will you come with?"
Despite himself, and the fact that it kind of hurt to do so, Castiel allowed himself a small smile. "Of course. Let's go."
A while after they had totally immersed themselves in the darkness, a P vanished from Castiel's forehead. Neither of them noticed. They didn't remember walking so far to get to the dead end.
God came calling some time after Molly left on a coffee run. Sam did a spit-take.
"You have ceased in your search for the tablets. This is not acceptable."
Sam's eyes narrowed. "I haven't ceased. Maybe I would be quicker though, if I had any clue what I was doing."
"You know what this is for. It's a crucial task that has been set before you, Prophet, and there are dire consequences to not carrying it out."
"Yeah, see, I'm not so sure I know what this is for. Not really. I mean, you're big into laissez-faire, aren't you? So why the hell are you keeping me from doing my job? Why are you interfering with the demons? See, I heard about that."
"You cannot be distracted from your mission."
"No. Something's not right, and I intend to find out what it is." Sam looked directly into God's eyes, and He marveled at the human for his bravery.
The motel room door creaked open.
"Uh, are you talking to yourself again, Charlie, or am I interrupting… oh shit."
The full force of Kevin Tran's now golden eyes were focused completely on Molly. She dropped her coffee. "Who… who…"
"God." Sam said, snappish, and God's eyes lifted from the girl. She collapsed, falling backwards onto her rear.
"A Satanist," Go d said meditatively. Sam grunted. "Your search for the tablets will become easier once you realize that not all tablets are located in this world, or this time," God said, turning back to Sam.
Molly only stood up shakily after he disappeared, straightening her shirt like she hadn't just fallen to the floor terrified after meeting the most powerful Being… ever. It was no big deal. Really. She could get through this.
"Uh, was it just me or was he suggesting like, parallel universes and... time travel?"
"It's nothing I haven't done before."