Sam stumbled into the hall, clutching the silver sword close to his chest. His jaw went slack as his disbelieving eyes found his brother's.
Dean's expression was one of equal surprise and confusion.
"So, this is where they live?" asked Sam in hushed tones.
"This is the address Bobby gave us," Dean muttered. His eyes swept over the dimly lit hall once again, taking in the rich décor and tasteful architecture.
Voices, multiple, drifted in from down the corridor. Dean signaled to his younger brother to follow his lead. He had a flashlight in one of his hands, which he now switched off, and a gun in the other.
The voices became louder as they approached the room. The door was ajar. Dean pushed it open, Sam's fist curled around the silver knife, gripping it tightly till his knuckles were white and the two boys walked in.
Nothing could have prepared them for the sight that met their eyes.
"Anna, will you hold this stupid boy in place so I can fix him?"
Dean looked on, his eyes wide with horror, at Castiel, sitting on the kitchen stool, his trench coat at his right shoulder, drenched in blood from an obvious open wound. He was squirming under Anna's viselike death grip on his left shoulder while Gabriel was standing in front of him, healing him with some angel mojo and Enochian chants.
Smirking in a satisfied manner at a job well done, Gabriel turned around to face the two Winchester brothers. "About time boys, took you long enough."
"The two of you have been thundering around the living room for hours." said one of the occupants of the kitchen. She had long, curly blonde hair and even though he had never set eyes on her before, Dean knew at once what she was. The low voice, the piercing, blue eyes alight with fire of dancing flames, the curious head tilt with which she was surveying them. She had to be an angel.
She was standing next to another unfamiliar figure. Unlike her blonde counterpart in the white sundress, this one was Asian, and had dark, poker straight hair, cut short. She sported a goth get up, mostly dark pink and black, and her lips were pouted, her small, sharp nose upturned in an unfriendly manner.
"We weren't thundering." Dean snapped. He whipped around to face a familiar tall, dark man in a dark suit.
"What the hell are you doing here? And you two…" he said, looking from Uriel to Anna to Gabriel, "And who's this?" he said nodding his head to the two unfamiliar angels in female vessels.
"Patience, Dean. We'll save the introductions for later." said Gabriel lazily.
"Yes, but Castiel," Sam stammered, "What are you doing here? With them? How are they even alive? And how did you get hurt?"
"You ask many questions, Sam. Yes, Uriel and Anna and Gabriel are back. Yes, we live here now, the seven of us." said Castiel, his voice low and grating.
"Wait, the seven of you…" Sam went on.
"You didn't answer Sam Winchester's question, brother. How did you get hurt?" said the dark haired angel, cutting in. She raised an eyebrow towards Castiel.
"It is not of import, sister," Castiel replied, tilting his head, "Someone's here," he said motioning his head towards the corridor.
Moments later the door swung in and Balthazar appeared, all smiles. His hands were fixed on a pair of elbows. One, Sam noticed, belonged to a short, sandy haired man wearing a green jacket over a…good Lord…was that a sweater vest? The other belonged to a tall, thin, pale man in a black overcoat, with mysterious blue-green eyes, peering out from under his black curls, taking in the sight in the angels' kitchen with undisguised curiosity.
"Look who I found in New York City, Cas! Couldn't resist bringing 'em over." said Balthazar excitedly.
"What were you doing in New York City, Balthazar?" the blonde angel asked, sounding almost exasperated.
Balthazar smiled enigmatically, tilting his head to one side. The taller man strode over to the kitchen stool and raised one of his hands. He took off his gloves and proceeded to shake Castiel's hand, "It's good to see you, Castiel."
Castiel smiled, actually smiled back, "Good to see you too."
"Blimey, it's bloody hot in 'ere." said the shorter man.
"You can take off your jacket, Doctor." said Castiel, motioning towards the shorter man.
"Doctor?" said Uriel puzzled, "Doctor who?"
"John." Castiel clarified. He slid off the stool and shook John's hand.
"Good to see you Cas. It's been a long time, innit?" he said. He turned around, to face the others, his jacket folded awkwardly over the crook of his arm. Moments later, he piled it on one of the stools.
Sammy knelt quietly and picked up something from the kitchen floor. It was a small, moleskin black diary. It must have slipped out from the green jacket. Sam turned it around in his hands. It had 'JW' embossed on the front cover and a personalized message on the back,
"So, John." Dean bit down on his tongue, "May I ask, who, or rather, what are you?"
"JW." said Sammy, his throat parched dry. "I'm sorry," he mumbled, holding out the diary, "It must've slipped out of your pocket."
"What? Oh, sorry! Thanks," said John, taking the diary from Sam and pocketing it, "I'm John Watson." he said. "I'm an army doctor, was an army doctor." he added unhelpfully.
The taller man, who Sam just noticed, had been prowling around the kitchen like a predatory panther, suddenly straightened up. He had kept his coat on, but he had taken off the blue scarf from around his throat. He strode in between Castiel and the boys. "You must be the Winchesters. Sam and Dean. I've heard a lot about you. Pleasure." he said extending a hand to Dean who was nearer.
"Can't say the same," growled Dean, a hand still curled around his gun, "What are you?"
The man rolled his eyes in impatience, "A Dalek," he said, a steely snap to his voice.
"Dude, what the hell is a Dalek?" said Dean with distaste.
"It's an evil, alien creature, from the popular BBC television show, Doctor Who." said Castiel patiently, 'It's famous in London, from where Sherlock comes from." he said nodding towards the tall man, "Sherlock is joking, of course. He is not a Dalek. He is...human." he said regarding him, that same enigmatic, half-smile playing on his pink lips, the one that made Dean's skin crawl, especially when Sherlock appeared to half-return it.
"Human, huh?" said Dean, tearing his eyes away from Castiel, "How do you know Cas?"
"I was hunting down a demon named Jim in London, some time back. He'd possessed a math professor, Moriarty." said Castiel.
"MathSSS." Sherlock hissed under his breath. John seemed to try and hide a smile.
Sam noticed that Sherlock had withdrawn his hand into the folds of his coat.
"Dude, you were in London?" said Dean, shooting Castiel a quizzical look.
Bigger picture, Dean! Sam thought, fighting the urge to roll his eyes.
"Much has happened since we last met, Dean." said Castiel. For the first time that evening, he turned to face Dean, his blue eyes finding Dean's pale, green ones, burning through them with the sheer intensity.
"Well, if you had bothered…" Dean began angrily.
"I see your drinking has escalated since Castiel's disappearance, as has your promiscuity and desire for female companionship even in the most unsavoury of places and circumstances. Coupled with lack of sleep, extreme exhaustion and the fact that you spent every waking hour simultaneously driving your car, to which you clearly have an unhealthy sentimental attachment and worrying about your younger brother's welfare or lack therefore, it appears that…"
Sherlock was cut off by a wolf-whistle from Gabriel's end. Balthazar was sitting on the counter, clutching a glass of scotch, swinging his legs following the conversation between the two men with a smug grin on his face.
"You sure seem to know a lot for someone who is not an angel,' said Uriel, shaking his head.
John shot a furtive smile at Sherlock, his eyes full of pride.
"Yes, well. Sherlock Holmes is on our side, and trust me, brother, we are better for it.' said Castiel, flashing that rare, soft smile again.
That's it. Dean wanted to punch someone's teeth in. Preferably that of the high maintenance, public-schooled British chippy in the coat with the upturned coat collar who kept looking at Castiel as if he were a blessing of the Lord who had just fallen from the heavens which he probably was but that was not the point.
"So. Human?" Dean repeated, finally taking a step towards the tall, thin man.
"As much as you are, Dean Winchester." said Sherlock, unsmiling.
"Well, I'm guessing you didn't have to die and then come back to life, did ya?" said Dean, his lips curling, stealing a brief look at Castiel, who was standing next to his brothers, and then back at Holmes.
Sam felt John's expression harden next to him.
"Actually, I did." said Sherlock softly, raising an eyebrow and returning Dean's glare.