Title: Attempting Happily Ever After
Author: castiel-thepizzaman
Pairing: eventual Dean/Castiel
Rating: M overall, this chapter, PG.
Warning: None

A/N: Whoops, how long has gone by? I am so sorry, I hope you could forgive me. Here's a short chapter to get us all back in the groove. Let's just hope I remember all the small intricate plans I had for this story.

Enjoy reading! Feel free to comment on anything that's good, bad, or whatever in-between and especially if I need to change something.

Chapter Seventeen

"What. Is that?" Dean asked as Sam reached to take the thin piece of wood from Annabel and moved towards the lamp on the bedside table. The dim lightbulb reflected off the shiny surface as he twirled it around his fingers. Dean held his hand out and Sam willingly passed the object over to his brother. He then grabbed a tissue off the table and passed it to Annabel, letting her clean up the small blood that had stemmed from the wood. It was sturdy in Dean hands, but he felt as if it would break if he put too much pressure on the sides. He concluded it was much stronger than a porcupine quill, and it was definitely made out of wood. The tip was sharp and it was made out of a yellowed type of wood. "I don't know, Sam, this is nothing we've seen before."

"It's not a dead end, though." Sam reassured, running his hand though his hair, as he turned towards his bag and began to pull out some fresh clothes. "We should look at the other men in the hospital, see if they have something similar."

"I'll come with you!" Annabel volunteered, crumpling up the tissue in her hand and throwing it away in the trash. A small smile had spread across her lips and Dean noticed an excited glint in her eyes.

Before Sam could open his mouth Dean shook his head. "No."

"But-"

"Sam, no. Her father didn't want her to be a hunter. We shouldn't drag her along." The older Winchester shrugged his shoulder and turned, placed the wood on the table.

Soft footsteps fell across the carpet until Sam was standing right next to Dean, his shoulder hunched slightly so he could converse with his brother with some privacy. "She's with me and we're going to the hospital. We're not hunting anything, just researching."

Taking a step back, Dean faced his brother raising a hand to point at Annabel. "We have enough innocent blood on out hand. We are the family business for a reason. How man people need to die before you see that."

"Calm down, Dean. I think you're over reacting a bit, just let's find out what's wrong and deal with it ourselves." There was awkward silence in the room and the brothers turned to see Annabel gently patting Castiel's forehead with a cloth, humming a small tune under her breath as if she had not been the subject of an argument happening a few feet away from her. Something in the defiant stance of her shoulders made Dean realize that she was used to being argued about, especially when the subject of hunting came up.

A small sigh parted Dean's pursed lips and he moved to stand on the other side of the bed. "Go." Annabel glanced up at Dean, pausing in her ministrations. "Go, before I change my mind." He held his hand out for the wet cloth and Annabel paused before giving it to him, quickly glancing at same before she pressed the washcloth into his pal.

She stood up, almost stumbling over the bed spread in order to get to her bag. "I"ll change first!" She exclaimed, grabbing her green bag and rushing into the bathroom.

When the door closed behind her silence reigned between the brothers. "Thank you." Sam spoke first, pulling his shirt off over his head and tossing it on the ground before shrugging into a new one.

"Don't mention it." Dean replied, moving the washcloth down the side of Castiel's neck.

There was rustling behind his as Sam hopped around, trying to get his other foot into the clean pair of jeans he was putting on.

The bathroom door opened and Annabel exited the room with a small grimace on her face. "You can definitely tell that men we're living here."

Silence spread through the room before Dean cleared his throat, "we have to shave sometime..."

"But you know there's an exciting thing called cleaning up after yourself." She replied, a small smile playing on her pink lips before she hoisted the back over her shoulder and turned to look at Sam, raising her eyebrows. "Ready when you are."

Sam nodded his head and looked at Dean who had busied himself with running the washcloth behind Castiel's ear. "We'll be back soon, Dean. Castiel's going to be fine." As Dean grunted in reply, the two left, closing the motel door behind them.

As soon as the lock clicked into place Dean's hands stopped moving and the washcloth tumbled to the bed. The burdens on his shoulders just seemed to weigh him down and he looked older than he ever had. Rising from the bed, Dean tossed the washcloth into the basin of cold water and returned to the small table in the room, idly flipping through the closest book to him. After he closed the cover he slid the book in his lap and reached for the object that came from underneath Castiel's skin. No new information came from examining it a second time and Dean just twirled it around his fingers, tapping his foot against the floor as he watched the seconds tick-by. The clock made a mesmerizing noise as it counted each second, but he just wanted the time to speed up so that Sam and Annabel would return faster.

The light was so bright it blinded his eyes, his pupils dilating from the sudden brightness in the ever-lasting gloom. The figure was but a shadow in his mind, the name just a whisper on the air as he felt his body skyrocketing through the abyss. The pain that had consumed his body for years seemed to be fading, replaced by a warm glow that tingled his nerve endings, sending little shocks through his new body. Time had no meaning here, so different then the place he had been before where time was only factored in with pain and the renewal of his skin for more torture. Here, minutes, hours, days, were melded in one. His body seemed frozen, the only way he could tell something was changing with the light, a bright, vibrant blue was fading to a dim white that seemed to be floating away from him, leaving him in the darkness again. Then he was released, his lungs taking in their first deep breath, choking on the dirt that came with the oxygen. His senses told him to get out of this darkness, the uncomfortable feeling of moist dirt surrounding him. Using his hands he punched upwards, scratching and clawing the earth out of his way.

The light flooded back to him, not as strong as before, but blinding his eyes yet again, and his fist punched through the surface. The air felt sweet and fresh against his lips as he took a breath of air, this time unhindered by the dirt. There was something refreshing about emerging from his shallow grave, but as he rolled onto the ground, kicking his feet free he was serenaded with memories that had him curled in the fetal position, grabbing his head as everything washed over him. Victim after victim attacking his memory.

But there was something else there, something that he couldn't grasp, and every time he did it seemed to flutter away on wings, never letting him fully comprehend it. A soft brush against his lips, some warmth and care in the deep dark hole he had spent years in. A vivid image of bright blue eyes flashed across his memory and he had to squeeze his eyes shut at the intensity of it.

Pushing everything to the back of his memory, Dean stood on shaking legs and set out to find his brother.

The book slid of his lap and slammed to the floor causing Dean to jump, his body automatically tensing for an attack, snapping the thin piece of wood balanced between his fingers as he clenched his fist. "Fuck." Dean cursed, opening his hand to see the two pieces of wood broken in half, the tips of splinters embedded in his palm. Ignoring the small, stinging pain he picked up on end, letting the other half drop to the table as he looked at the break. There was something familiar in the way the jagged edges seemed to come together.

Clearing his throat, Dean tossed the other half onto the table and rubbed his palms together, clearing his skin of the splinters and depositing them on the faded carpet beneath him. A small wheeze left the lips of the other being in the room and Dean turned at the soft sound, watching Castiel's chest labour, rising up and down on soft swells.

Pulling Sam's laptop to him, Dean's fingers poised themselves over the keyboard, trying to reach for something in his memory. Finally he began searching, his fingers typing in 'cactus needles.' The ringing of a phone jolted the hunter out of his revere, the endless scrolling of the trees.

"It's a cactus needle." Dean said without hesitation as he answered his phone, not even caring to check who it could possible be.

"Okay, and they all have one, mainly along the arm, but some have it in different places. One guy had it under the skin of his scalp." Sam replied, and Dean could hear the echo of a hallway surrounding him.

"I know I've seem it before. Was the woman wearing something that had these needles on them?"

A small breath of air passed though Sam's lips. "Yes, a comb, in her hair. It looked old, and had the needles as the teeth." There was a slight pause and then Sam muttered, "Xtabay."

"What?"

"The Xtabay women. They're seductresses, but if the woman can't stay to induce the man into a coma like fever in their arms, they leave there dirty work for someone else." He explained, as dean leaned back in his seat, pushing the laptop away from him.

"Like me. Son of a bitch. How do we fix Cas and gank her?" Dean asked, standing up and kicking the seat back underneath the table. He grabbed the green duffel bag off the ground and dropped it on the bed, letting it rest next to Castiel's legs.

Sam spoke as he riffled through it. "Well lore says they reside near a kapok tree and that's where their spirit hides. So I would assume destroy the tree destroy the spirit."

"So you're saying torch it?" Dean asked as he picked up the blow torch and squeezed the trigger. He knew Sam would be able to hear the gas lighting the flame through the phone.

Sam let out an exasperated sigh, "In broad daylight? Dean, you know better."

"C'mon man, we don't know how much time Cas has left." He said, tossing the bag over his shoulder.

"Fine, we'll meet you at the tree, but we need to be careful."

"Yup, careful's my middle name," Dean retorted before he shoved the cellphone in his pocket, and headed out of the motel. There wasn't anything Sam could do to convince him not to burn the tree in broad daylight. With long strides, the hunter passed through the streets of Savannah, retracing the steps they had made on hours previously. After Dean turned a corner he saw his brother standing tall over a shorter figure who was leaning against the brick wall. "Sam. Annabel, how'd it go?"

"Pretty good." She replied, a small smile playing on her lips, the sunlight reflecting small sparks off her hair.

Dean reached into his bag and pulled out a small water bottle and opened it, sniffing the contents to make sure he had gotten the right liquid.

"Dean..." Sam warned, glancing up and down the street. The only people insight were a young couple sitting at a metal table located outside a small coffee shop at the corner of the street. "This isn't a good idea."

The hunter turned towards his brother and stared at him, "does it look like I care?" He asked, raising his hands slightly in an annoyed gesture.

"No, but...:" Then Sam fell silent as Dean turned away and moved towards the tree.

As Dean began to tip the bottle over the base of the Kopa tree a soft voice chimes out, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." The three of them turned together to see a woman standing behind them. She wore a black dress and her hair was held back on the left side with a mahogany comb with cactus needles as the teeth. "Winchester, right?"


A/N: Gosh, that was slightly rough. It will get better. Don't you worry.

Thanks to calcu22, dreameric, theconsultingtardisbananaangel, Morphine-Queen, FreshBleach, EllaMichelle, ILIKETHEWORDPIE, Bananaaaaa, rockstarqueen14, .wonderland23, Larkafree, S. , lionesspuma, NightAngel97, CrazyGirlMe, FireChildSlytherin5, Perry123, Mylia11 for commenting!

And for that you get some angel grace, careful, it's very rare now!

Love you aaaall.