It wasn't surprising how news of his death and resurrection had spread to become common knowledge within a day. The SGC's gossip mill was more efficient than any high school's. However, as evidence of how strange life in the SGC was, people barely batted an eyelid. Daniel seemed to have made an art of dying and then coming back to life, so much so that Dean's episode was only a small blip on the radar. Almost everyone seemed to think that it had to do with the Ancients and the Ascension process.
If only it was that simple.
"Oh, for cryin' out loud!"
The exclamation from Jack almost made Dean grin, but he resisted. Mostly.
"So what you're saying is that an angel pulled you out of hell? A real angel, with a freaking halo and wings, pulled you out of the actual, biblical hell?" The disbelief on the General's face was reflected in a lesser degree on Jon's face. His dad's features were inscrutable, while Sam and Daniel both looked endlessly fascinated.
"Well, I dunno about the halo, but there were definitely wings," Dean paused, then added, "and a sword, too. A flaming sword. It was awesome. Made me want one, too."
"A flaming sword – oh, for cryin' out loud!" Jack repeated for the second time in as many minutes. He glared at Dean, as if that would make him change his story. It wouldn't. Dean had evaded Janet's questions for several hours in the infirmary, claiming he didn't remember, until the woman had been forced to release him because there wasn't anything wrong with him. All of his wounds were gone and his tests had come back clean. Sam had dogged his every footstep, while Jon and his dad had hovered in the background. For once, Dean hadn't minded the mother-henning. Once clear of the infirmary, Jack had dragged him into the conference room for a briefing, with Daniel tagging along. And here he was, being looked at by the General as if he thought that Dean should go back to Janet for another round of scans.
"Well, that would explain the scar, wouldn't it?" Daniel said brightly, watching Dean with the expression he usually reserved for dusty books and ancient rocks. "And the complete disappearance of his other scars."
The mention made Dean rub his left shoulder self-consciously. That was another reason why the doc had been so reluctant to let him go. All of his old scars had vanished, as if he had never faced down the wendingo in Alabama, or the skinwalker in San Diego, or the axe-wielding natives on P3X-578. Instead, all that was left was a red, raised handprint on his left shoulder.
"So, what, you believe in the supernatural, but not angels?" Dean challenged.
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Dean, I've seen demons and other monsters. Watched 'em get exorcised, even did one myself during those damned hunting trips your father dragged me on. I know that thing which possessed you yesterday was a demon, and you've told me about the Colt. Monsters under the bed are one thing, but real, live angels? You telling me God exists?"
"Oh, believe me, I asked Castiel that. He seemed pretty convinced that God's real. But that's not the point. I'm not sold on the God idea, but angels sound pretty reasonable, from where I'm standing. The dude saved my life, General." Dean struggled to put into words what he knew on an instinctual level. He just couldn't say how, or why. "I don't think he was lying."
"Doesn't mean he's telling the truth, either," Jon pointed out. "He could be an Ancient."
"Yeah, but those guys have got a strict no-interference policy, don't they?" Sam said, leaning forward.
Daniel was nodding.
"In my own past experience – " the annoyance on Jack's face deepened, but Daniel resolutely ploughed on, pretending he hadn't seen it. "I actually Ascended, before I was kicked back into this plane by the Ancients. Dean was medically dead. We had his body with us; he didn't vanish in a flash of light or anything along those lines. Hence, he never Ascended. Which rules out the possibility of Ancient interference."
The argument went back and forth between Jack and Daniel for several minutes. Sammy had buried himself in the laptop he had gotten from somewhere, probably Carter. Dean would bet a hundred bucks that he was Googling "Castiel the angel" or "Mythology behind angels" or some crap like that.
Jon was slouched in his seat, fiddling absently with a pen. His eyes were fixed on a point on the metal conference table. Every now and then, his gaze lifted to sweep the room. Dean didn't miss the fact that every sweep always started with him and Sam, as if he was checking that they were still there. It was a habit that Dean didn't think Jon was fully aware of. Less often, Jon's eyes flicked to the General and Daniel, bickering like six-year-olds. The look in his eyes was a sad sort of wistfulness. Dean kind of wanted to hug Jon every time it happened, but he wouldn't do it, because hello? Dean Winchester here. Rule number one: no chick flick moments.
Dad was thinking hard, seated across from him, keeping all of them in his direct line of sight. He looked up at Dean occasionally, too, but the look was one that promised thorough questioning later when the family was alone together.
That was fine. Dean wanted to talk, possibly yell, at them for even considering making a deal.
"Fuck!" He was half a second from throwing the knife he had been sharpening at the intruder in his room before a sense of familiarity stayed his hand. Dean stared at the skinny blonde youth with glasses, who was watching the knife he was still clutching with detached interest. He didn't recognise him, but the low, gravelly voice was out of place coming from the kid, and tugged at the edges of his memory. When Dean didn't respond, only continued to stare, the kid blinked slowly at him, and tilted his head to the side like a bird. Which reminded him of wings. Which reminded him of…
"Castiel?" Dean asked incredulously.
The kid – who couldn't be more than eighteen – blinked in response, and said gravely, "Yes."
Dean struggled to find something to say. He had had a few weeks to come to terms with what had happened, and when nothing out of the ordinary had happened in those weeks, he had almost convinced himself he had been dreaming. Dreaming of souls and angels and hell. Except the handprint had still been on his shoulder, and the memory-scents of fire and brimstone were too vivid.
He settled for saying, "This isn't what I thought you would look like."
Castiel's face clouded in confusion. "I do not understand."
"I mean, you're an angel, right? Shouldn't you look more…angel-y? The geek look isn't exactly living up to expectations."
Castiel's face cleared. "This is only a vessel."
"Wait, so you're possessing some poor bastard?" Dean demanded.
"All vessels of angels must consent willingly to being taken over. This vessel, Kenneth, agreed to allow me use of his body temporarily."
Dean frowned, unconvinced. "So is Kenny still aware in there?"
"He is asleep."
"Won't his parents be missing him?" he asked persistently.
"Kenneth is on…I believe the term is, a road trip. He is not expected to contact his friends or family for another three days. I will relinquish my hold of this vessel by tonight, and he will not remember anything. You need not worry about his safety, Dean." Castiel added the last, seemingly catching on to the motivation behind his line of questioning.
"Hey, just checking." He shrugged, eyeing the angel as he drifted over to the wall, raising a hand to run over the section directly beneath the mirror. He resisted the urge to ask if Castiel could sense the line of protective sigils painted there in translucent holy oil. From the way deft fingers were pausing at intervals, it was obvious he could.
"This place has been compromised, Dean."
"Sam killed Azazel," he pointed out, sliding the knife back into its sheath.
"Azazel had children who he informed of his plans before he entered this place. It is no longer safe for you here," the angel repeated.
Over the sudden hammering of his heart, Dean managed to say, "So are you saying that we should run and hide again? That doesn't help anyone here at the base when the demons come looking for us!"
"That is not an issue. Michael has stationed several of my brothers in the Mountain to wipe out any evil which steps foot in here," Castiel shook his head, a perturbed expression crossing his face for the first time. "And it is not only the demons you are in danger from."
Dean made a 'go on' gesture impatiently.
"There has been dissent in our ranks recently," Castiel admitted. "Some of my brothers believe that the Apocalypse should be put back on track."
"You know, you keep using big words like that, but you never bother explaining the hows and whys and whats," Dean snapped.
"At a later time, perhaps," Castiel brushed off. "It is essential that you and your brother remain out of reach while things blow over."
In an eye-blink, the angel was suddenly across the room and in front of Dean, laying a hand across his brow.
'Angels do not usually extend their awareness beyond Earth. You and Sam have always had an interest in travelling to the City of the Ancients.'
"Hey!" He batted the hand away. "No more mind-reading, remember?"
Castiel backed away, head bowing apologetically.
Dean huffed. Atlantis was an alien city in another galaxy. How was that not cool?
"Alright, alright, I got it, Cas, I know what to do." He rolled his eyes. "So you're just stay gonna stay here and smite demons while we're gone?"
"I will be following you, of course." Castiel tilted his head, bemused. "You are my charge, after all."
"Awesome," Dean muttered to himself. "The Winchesters and an angel in Atlantis. Fun times."
Author's Note: I know the timeline for the two canons don't match up, especially for Stargate where mentioned events don't quite take place in sequence. Apologies also for the POV shifts and time jumps; I removed a few scenes taking place in-between because they felt too much like fillers to me. I hope this was an enjoyable read! And yes, I do have plans for more fics set in this 'verse, probably codas taking place during the years the boys were growing up, and a short sequel of their time in Atlantis.