(Note: This is a follow up to my previous piece "Four Men in a Car (To Say Nothing of the Devil)". It's 25,385 words in total - though I'm posting bit by bit, it's not a WIP ;-) Poetry by Emily Dickinson)
When Angels Deserve to Die
Chapter 1 – There's Something Quieter Than Sleep
While simple hearted neighbors
Chat of the "Early dead"
We - prone to periphrasis
Remark that Birds have fled!
Dean pulled in at a motel; it was the first lurid bright sign declaring vacancies they had seen in a while. The place looked like a run-down dump, but the Winchesters had seen and slept in worse. Sam got out of the car and turned to open Castiel's door. The angel was still tightly bound. Sam hated seeing him this way. "Hey can I take off—"
"No." Dean abruptly cut across him. Then his voice softened. "Not yet anyway… now go get us a room, I'll grab Cas."
Sam huffed and went to the office while Dean opened the door and knelt in front of Castiel. He tried to catch the angel's attention, but Castiel was staring straight ahead... he wasn't playing ball. Hesitating with his hand hovering in midair Dean finally reached out and gently placed his hand on Castiel's arm. He startled and looked up at Dean as if a jolt of electricity had gone through him.
"Hey Cas, we're stopping here for a few hours sleep. Lets get you out of there and into a nice soft bed… well it'll probably be a lumpy hard bed, but it's better than the car. Come on."
He tugged on the arm and Castiel eventually made a move, shuffling his feet to the door. The angel winced as his injured foot hit the ground.
"You okay walking? We really gotta find you some boots or something…" Castiel's hospital issue slippers didn't survive his attempt at jumping out of the car. They hadn't had a chance to get him anything better since fleeing the hospital. It had been a rather hasty departure… some might say it was sort of a kidnapping.
As Dean pulled Castiel to his feet, Sam appeared with a key. The two half-carried half-frog marched the angel to their room. Bobby zapped into a chair as they got through the door, causing Dean to jump slightly. "You're getting as bad as Cas doing that you know," he chided.
"Yeah, well your angel ain't got a monopoly on appearing out of thin air," Bobby snarked back at him. "It's a privilege of the deceased too. Being dead has to have some perks."
They seated Castiel on one of the motel beds; Dean crouched to look at his foot, and frowned. "He's not healing… think he's losing his mojo?"
Sam sat down heavily on the other bed and sighed. "Well with everything happening at the hospital he must have some power left. Maybe it's just on the fritz."
"Yeah, maybe… Cas? Can you heal this?" Dean spoke clearly and deliberately, hoping to get through to the angel.
"No! I can't! You can't make me!" Castiel spat angrily, although he aimed it past Dean, as though he were speaking to somebody else.
"Oookay… never mind then, we'll just do this the old fashioned way." Dean set about cleaning and bandaging the gash on Castiel's foot. He released the angel's bonds before doing so- there hadn't been a peep out of Cas in a while. That last outburst made Dean wonder, but he was willing to give the angel a chance now they had stopped for the night… and he could feel Sam's disapproving eyes burning a hole in the back of his head. If things went south Dean could always tie him up again, and give Sam an 'I told you so' to boot.
Since the earlier incident on the road, Castiel had succeeded in ignoring the devil. Of course Lucifer followed when they left the car, and he swept into the motel room with them. All the while talking, prodding, poking. But Castiel did not respond.
Lucifer took a seat next to Sam and lazily draped an arm around Sam's shoulders, as if he was lounging with a lover. At this, Castiel bristled and glared at the devil. He could withstand being the object of Lucifer's attention, but he would not see that attention turned upon the Winchesters.
"So Dean wants to see your powers. Tell him 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours.' I'm sure you'll be happy with the result." Lucifer leered at his little brother, "I know you've got your mojo somewhere. Stop hiding your grace and give him a little show! I know you can, you little tease…"
"No! I can't! You can't make me!" Castiel bit back angrily.
"Oh, I can't? Really Castiel, you know you shouldn't tempt me like that." Lucifer got to his feet, and the room seemed to darken, the atmosphere turning chilly as he stalked towards his prey.
The devil faced Castiel, standing right beside Dean, who was nonchalantly packing away the first aid kit. Lucifer placed a hand on Dean's head, lazily twisting his fingers through Dean's hair. Dean remained oblivious to the danger he was in.
"Leave him alone…" Castiel managed to whisper defiantly.
"Why? You want your forgiveness? I can make him say anything you like given enough time." Lucifer's fingers slipped down the side of Dean's face to caress his cheek. The devil knelt beside him then, their faces only inches apart. Castiel hardly dared to breathe. One wrong move… one wrong word and Lucifer could break Dean's neck.
Dean looked up at Castiel with searching eyes, only curious at what Castiel was saying to thin air. But just because he didn't see Lucifer, it didn't mean Lucifer couldn't hurt him. The pain Lucifer inflicted on Castiel was real enough. He had to get Lucifer away from Dean. He would have to be fast…
Suddenly Castiel surged forwards, intent on knocking the devil down. But Lucifer gracefully stepped away, and Dean stepped up to catch Castiel, pushing him back onto the bed and pinning his arms.
"Take it easy, Cas. There's nobody there, you're fighting nothing. Now calm down." Dean's voice was steady and insistent, but he couldn't see Lucifer sitting on Castiel's other side. The angel's wide, fearful eyes were fixed on him.
"You have to let me go, Dean!" Castiel fought against Dean's grip, but it remained firm. "He's right there! You have to believe me! If you don't release me—"
"Cas, I'll release you when you calm the fuck down and tell me there's only you, me, Sam and Bobby here." A hint of desperation crept into Dean's voice.
Castiel slowly shook his head, face set in terror. He was trapped, and Dean was unwittingly holding him down for Lucifer. The devil's innocent accomplice shook him hard. "Cas, you son of a bitch, look at me, not him! I'm right here!"
But Castiel didn't respond. His attention was fully on the devil, who sat watching with a half-smile on his face. "That wasn't very nice Castiel, attacking me like that," Lucifer hissed. "You need to show more respect for your elders… Well, I was going to offer you the easy way or the hard way, but clearly the easy way isn't going to work here."
Lucifer thrust a claw-like hand at Castiel's chest. As his fingers dug in, the helpless angel screamed. Castiel's back arched off the bed, his eyes rolled back, and the angel lapsed into convulsions as Dean struggled to hold him down.
Sam rushed forward to help Dean hold the shaking angel. Eventually the tremors subsided and Castiel lay still, his chest heaving with each breath. As he settled, Sam placed a comforting hand on his forehead, brushing away the angel's hair.
"We need to do something," Sam said quietly. "He can't carry on like this."
"What the hell are we supposed to do? We can't deal with this. This is so far off the map it's…" Dean sighed and wiped a hand over his face, not even bothering to finish his sentence.
Bobby had watched quietly thus far. There wasn't much he could do, after all. But he decided to put in a suggestion, even if he knew the boys wouldn't like it. "Why not call down an angel? We're not qualified to play holy doctors and nurses, but one of them will be."
Dean cut a hand through the air as he shook his head. "No way. After what Cas did, they're just going to want him dead. That's if there are any angels left up there; Cas mentioned a death toll in Heaven, he could have cleaned house…"
"I'm not seeing what other option we have. You got a rolodex full of angel head doctors? No? Then dial Heaven's 911, or we carry on hauling his crazy ass from state to state watching him get worse. It's your choice." Bobby wasn't one for coddling in life, nor death it seemed.
Castiel started coming around a little, coughing and gasping as if struggling for breath. Sam rolled him onto his side as he thoughtfully put forward a name. "Balthazar. He's the only angel we know who might want to help Cas. He's our best bet."
"I wouldn't trust him as far I could throw him… but I guess he is the lesser evil. For the record: I don't like this one bit." Dean resigned himself to calling Balthazar and put his hands together in mocking prayer. "Oh Balthazar who art in Heaven – or what's left of it– pain in the ass be thy name. Come down here and fix your buddy. We need you."
They paused a moment with bated breath, waiting. Nothing happened; nobody came.
The silence was broken by a huff of laughter from Castiel. "I killed him." Three stunned faces turned to look at the angel, not sure whether to believe him or not. "He won't come. I put my sword through his heart…" Then, as if he was suddenly realising what he was saying, Castiel's voice broke into anguished cries. "Father forgive me! I killed him! My brother… father forgive me, father forgive me…" He said the words softly but intensely, as if they would wash away his sins with each repetition.
Dean stood abruptly and walked away from the bed, not saying a word. Sam remained at Castiel's side and put a comforting hand on his arm. Guilt weighed heavily on Sam, he sympathised with Castiel, thinking of each demon he drained with a person screaming within… and the screams of the nurse he sometimes still heard.
Dean had his back to them, but Sam could practically feel the frustration and disgust coming off him in waves. Dean had his own demons; he was disgusted by them as much as Cas, but his way of dealing was to get space. Push it all deep down and drown it with alcohol.
Sam dared to break the tension in the room with a quiet suggestion. "Dean, go shower, let's just get some sleep. We can deal with all this in the morning." He didn't really expect anything to get dealt with in the morning. He just hoped that having the rest of the night to think things over and get some shut eye would cool Dean off.
When Dean emerged from the shower he already seemed to have melted a little. Of course he didn't say anything about Cas's revelation – his feelings on that were probably already stored away to explode at some later point – but at least he was talking. "If Cas is taking that bed, you can have the other one, Sam. I'll take the chair. You've got a lot of sleep to catch up on after all."
A weak voice came from the prone figure on the bed. "I don't sleep… I don't need to sleep. I'm okay."
"Forget it Cas," Dean shot back. "Whether you need to sleep or not, you look like you could do with it."
The angel struggled to get up, and Sam helped him sit. He stared at Dean with a glassy, haunted look in his eyes. "I'm not sleeping. I can't–"
"Yeah, I know – I can't make you," Dean said, in a humourless, deadpan fashion.
Sam skirted over the sniping and set about getting Castiel settled. "Okay, we'll sit you down at the table with Bobby. If you feel like having a lie down, just let me know."
Carefully Sam helped Castiel over to a chair. He seemed so weak and drained, looked almost like a strong gust of wind could blow him away. It was hard to believe a warrior of God was in their midst. It was even harder to believe he used to wield the power of a God not so long ago, even if that power ultimately proved to be false.
Bobby waited until Sam and Dean were getting into bed before muttering, "Night boys, don't mind me. I'll just sit here and… stare at the angel."
"Night, Bobby." Dean replied, and then he had a thought. "Wait… all this time you've been around and we couldn't see you, what did you do? Watch us sleep?"
"Well what else could I do? I can't exactly go off to Disneyland while you've got my flask so close to your heart, idjit."
"Well that's not at all creepy…" Dean snarked as his head hit the pillow.
"Right then, Feathers, it's just you and me," Bobby sighed, and he watched as Castiel rubbed at his chest.
A muffled voice came from Dean's bed. "Can you stare at the angel a bit more quietly?"
"Go to sleep before I make you sleep." Bobby huffed and turned his attention back to Castiel. The angel kept rubbing at his chest, gazing eerily at Bobby with a half-smile.
"You want something to read? Nights get awfully long when you've nothing to do but listen to these two snore." Still he got no response from the angel. Bobby was a little creeped out, but then he remembered he was the ghost and it was his job to do the creeping out.
Looking away from Castiel's strange stare, Bobby did his best to ignore the angel and went back to the reading material laid out on the table. It sure was going to be a long night.
As the boys lay in bed, Bobby, Castiel and Lucifer sat at the table – the sleeping and the sleepless. Lucifer clapped and rubbed his hands together. "So boys, what do we say to a game of poker? If you don't fancy cards I can provide the red hot kind…" And he looked to Castiel with a predatory grin.