A/N: Do I have an excuse? Yes, but one way or the another this has been finished and I can stop feeling guilty about it!
"I'm going to get those sigils back up, who knows who else might show up." Bobby says.
No sooner have the words left his mouth does he turn around and come face to face with Heaven's most sadistic Angel.
Bobby and Sam whip around, the latter with Leochoir's sword raised. Dean twists as far as he can, hunching protectively over Castiel in the process.
Zachariah stands not ten feet away, hands in his pockets with his perfect suit, smug look quite intact despite their last skirmish on the road. He quirks a small, very unpleasant smile at them.
"Looks like the jig is up, boys. Now, you know I don't like to repeat myself, so I'm giving you-"
He gives a meaningless glance at his watch.
"Ten seconds to figure out what I want and say 'Yes' to it."
Zachariah doesn't bother to threaten this time, he gets the ball rolling with a snap of his fingers. Sam drops like a rock, releasing the sword as his eyes roll back and his body starts to convulse with seizure like intensity. Bobby is two steps in his direction before another snap of Zachariah's fingers has him on his hands and knees coughing up blood by the bucket.
"Dean," Zachariah chides, as if to a petulant child.
Dean is frozen in place, doing the only thing he can do as he frantically backs up, dragging Castiel with him.
"There's only so much you can take before you break. But, I've learned a rather valuable lesson in my time with you. Even worse than hurting you, is hurting the ones you love.
Another snap of those hateful fingers and Castiel violently jerks back into consciousness. He tears himself from Dean's grasp and onto all fours, heaving up a fountain of blood, jarring his whole body in the process.
Zachariah strolls forward, each step he takes forcing Dean back one until he's standing pompously over Castiel's crumpled and weak body, still coughing blood and gasping for air that has suddenly become very important. He reaches down and grabs the lapels of his coat and hauls him up. Castiel tries to compose himself, blood running down from his eyes and over his lips as he struggles to subdue his rioting stomach. He doesn't need his vessel's eyes to be able to feel Zachariah's gaze like a hot poke against an open wound. Zachariah looks at Castiel much like a bird would look at a plump earthworm.
"And now, Castiel, anything you'd like to say before I smite you?"
Zachariah has a half second to raise his eyebrows before Castiel spits in his face. He backhands Castiel so quickly and with so much force he's flung to the ground face first with a thud. Dean's heart stops for a second as Zachariah raises his blade and lashes out.
Castiel twists in a vain effort to avoid the blade, but it's useless. There's a flash of movement followed by a blinding light and short burst of electrified sound. The blade never reaches Castiel as Zachariah suddenly screams, dropping his weapon in the bright white surrounding him. Castiel feels a presence between him and Zachariah and for a moment he does not need his vessel's vision to see it, a dark streak and too many eyes, but nothing else. It only lasts a mere moment before it disappears. Zachariah staggers backwards, Castiel losing his balance and falling back as well.
"Cas!" Dean shouts again, trying to step forward. His pinkie finger no more than brushes Zachariah's barrier before delivering an all mighty shock that steals his voice and knocks out his knees. He lays on the ground, feeling limper than a noodle as he gulps air.
Zachariah takes no notice of this, eyes blown wide as he looks around frantically, grasping his wrist with one hand as if it's been burnt. His sword has fallen to the ground, a faint steam rising off it.
Whispery words suddenly fill the air, just loud enough to be heard, but not understood. Castiel loses his tenuous grasp on consciousness at this point, letting himself pass into oblivion. Fear has crept into Zachariah's face, looking around fearfully, yet not fleeing. It is at this point that the cars in the lot start to shake, the fence rattles, and the gates swing closed with a thunderous crash that causes everyone, even Zachariah, to jump. A sound like a knife being sharpened splits the air, Zachariah's eyes snap sharply Heavenward. Movement catches his eye and he looks in time to see the Thrones by Sam and Bobby. Their hand only barely touches their shoulders, but it heals them, both of them gasping for breath, eyes wide. They move swiftly, faster than humanly possible, their feet not touching the ground as they size Zachariah up from a far, the pressure on with them pushing close. Their face is impassive save for a sheen of anger underlying their movement, the squint of their eyes as they turn to face Zachariah, the way they move threatening and wrathful.
Zachariah's eyes are wide, shocked and horrified at what he's seeing, at who he's seeing.
The Thrones stride forward easily, radiating the power of the world with each step.
"Zachariah." Their voices boom. "Stand down and be gone." A thick gossamer-like voice take center stage, rising above the rest yet only by a touch.
"On God's authority, stand down or face the consequences!" The voices rage louder than any earthly sound, yet do not shatter fragile human ear drums.
Zachariah looks pensive for a moment, like he's weighing his odds. His eyes flicker over to Dean knelt on the ground. The consequences come quick and fast.
The Thrones hand snaps out in a violent gesture, face contorting for one brief moment. "Grosb!" They snarl.
Zachariah screams, sudden and sharp. He all but doubles over, clutching at his face. Blood threaded with glowing blue strands quickly seeps between his fingers, rolling down his hand to soak into his suit or drip to the ground. Dean can't stop himself from moving, scuttling forward, half on his feet the other half on hands and knees to Cas, once more wrapping his arms around him and dragging him back from the battle. Zachariah doesn't notice at all, still hunched over as he looks with abject horror at the Thrones.
"You dare doubt us, Zachariah?! BEGONE!"
Their voices are thunder, sleet, blood curdling rage and swirling wrath, frozen plains and scorching deserts.
They seem to be everywhere, their power radiating far beyond their vessel, fragile human bone and flesh made stronger under the weight of the power radiating from the beings within. The earth shakes and anything not nailed down is rattling like it's about to take off flying.
Zachariah looks stunned, a ridiculous wide eyed and open mouthed expression glued on his face for a split second before a rush of wings fills the air and he's gone.
It's like the giant tension filled bubble they were trapped in has been punctured by a needle, draining out all the fear, adrenaline and emotion. Dean sags, feeling like he's going to pass out on the spot if he's not careful. His arms are loose around Castiel's chest, the limp and bloody body propped against him. He wants to check on him, do something, but he doesn't have one ounce of strength to do so with.
Bobby seems rooted to the spot, but numbly follows Sam when he stumbles over to Dean. Sam himself is feeling a little light headed at the waning levels of adrenaline in his system, his legs giving out a little too early, crashing him on his knees when he reaches Dean. He too feels plagued by the same dreaded weakness. For all the dangerous and terrifying situations they've been in they've never felt so tired afterward. Sam, still having some sense left, gropes at Castiel's neck for a pulse. It's so weak, and he's so clumsy he has to try several times to find it properly.
Dean looks at him expectantly, feeling weak all over again when he nods.
The Thrones have approached them now, the presence of unfathomable power evaporated from them and in its place a far more gentle emotion.
They crouch, placing both hands on either side of Castiel's bloody face, a deep mauve glow illuminating from beneath their fingers, seemingly drawn out of Castiel. The glow fades and they pull away, casting one hand lightly over his face and chest, making the blood disappear before they stand straight again. They cast overly bright eyes on Dean.
"He will need time to recover. You must watch after him." The single gossamer voice speaks loudest, the others only barest whispers in their inflection and barely heard.
"What about the other Angels? And Zachariah-" Sam starts wearily.
"He no longer knows of this place. As for the others-"
They turn, flicking one hand blithely as fire erupts all over the gates and on a few cars. Bobby jumps and Dean clenches his arms around Castiel tighter. The flames die down almost instantly, leaving in their wake charred Enochian sigils all across the fence in intricate patterns, far more detailed than anything they've ever seen.
"No Angels will ever able to find this place now. Not without God's Will."
They turn and for a moment the sun burns a ring of fire around them, ghostly lidless eyes staring at Dean with such intensity they burn. The apparition is gone as fast as it comes and they are moving away.
"Wait!" Dean shouts.
The Thrones stop and glance passively over their shoulder at him.
"Why did you do that? Why did you help us? God couldn't have ordered that. So what the hell?!"
The stress of the last few days has culminated and built up to the point where manners are just not there any more. Not that Dean ever cared what supernatural beings were insulted by him.
A strange gleam lights the Throne's eye.
"God ordered me to grant Castiel guidance. I did. It was not meant for Zachariah to find this place. I corrected my mistake.
"What mistake?" Bobby asks gruffly, starting to feel more like himself again as the chaos dies down.
"Your sigils were correct. I was unaware of the damage I caused to them on my previous visit. I corrected the path."
Dean opens his mouth again, but the Thrones turn to face him full on, short stature and all some how intimidating.
"God wants you to have faith in your decisions, Dean Winchester."
They say it so promptly and matter of fact Dean can't even formulate a response before that knife-sharpening screech echoes through the air a split second after they disappear, quickly fading into nothingness.
The moment the Thrones touch him Castiel can feel himself falling into a dark pit, unable to resist its pull for long. The heavy darkness and exhaustion slowly blots out his pale human senses, dulling and fading them till all he has is his Angelic senses left to view the world around him. He's vaguely aware of the powerful pulses of energy that are the Thrones, but what has him truly concerned are the souls closest to him. The souls beside him are buzzing, vibrating with terrified energy. One calls out to him, its silvery light emanating from it and hovering about his Grace. Two other souls are there as well, one a weathered and spotted gold, the other a creamy white mottled with blackness deeper than space's darkest voids. Weariness muddles everything as he struggle to figure out what has these souls so upset. They're very familiar yet their names escape him. The appearance of souls always held a special interest for Castiel. During his time on earth he'd learned it could be deceptive to judge a soul based merely on its appearance, as most Angels did on a regular basis. The colour does not matter per say, but the shape.
It's the shape that's important.
Castiel had seen souls so twisted, so evil by the atrocities they'd committed that they cease to be a soul anymore, instead existing as a withered black smoke, taking their rightful place in hell. Castiel knew of Dean's fears, fears of what he did in hell and how that haunted him. He also knows Sam is worried about his soul, if it would descend to the Pit when he dies. He knows Bobby is scarred by what has happened to him, by his childhood, from losing his wife, from Hunting in general, but it doesn't matter, that he's still fine despite it all. As he gazes and basks in the three very familiar souls surrounding him he wishes he could tell them that it's alright, that they're fine. But he's too tired, too tired to sooth their frantic buzzing with a touch of his Grace.
So, he let's go.
Castiel can feel himself drifting in the void. It feels like a long time, but that hardly seems to matter here in this blank and quiet nothingness. Occasionally, something will disrupt the void, a flash of stunning red accompanied by pain or bright whites that bring nothing, but peace and endless soothing. These lights never last long, but linger for a while, seemingly to keep him company as he can sense there's something more behind them. In those moments he can feel himself being dragged back, voices, images and other sensations scattering across his memory. He sees faces he should recognize, usually large in his mind, so close to him. More than once he feels hands on him, sometimes rough, forcing him down, other times it's a light touch to his throat or pressure on his hand. For an Angel, he knows its odd, but he enjoys those moments, the times when he can feel his vessel and someone near by. It's…not so lonely when he knows someone is there for him. He knows his time is not long in the void when the blackness begins to fade. He's happy to leave it behind, to leave this lonely gloom and return to where everyone is waiting…
When he opens his eyes it's to blazing sunlight in the window, pouring over Bobby Singer's familiar old study. It's not quiet per say, voices whispering harshly from the kitchen catch his attention.
"It's been three days!"
"Since he had a seizure. That's a good thing, Dean." Sam says
"What if its not?"
"How could that be a bad thing, son?" Bobby questions, trying to work through Dean's third fit on the matter.
Castiel tries to speak, but finds his voice is stoppered up like a blocked stream. He shuffles to his feet, not too surprised by his vessel's weakness and creakiness. He quietly proceeds to the kitchen.
"Those damn Thrones have put him into a coma and just left him like that!" Dean rages
"Dean, calm down-" Sam begins when Castiel suddenly enters the kitchen, looking more or less like the living dead, but in a shocking show of consciousness, standing.
"Cas!" He exclaims.
Dean whirls around so fast he nearly gives himself whiplash.
"Thank God, Cas!" He says, relief evident in every facet of that word, truly meaning it. "Come on, come on. Sit down."
He gingerly grabs Castiel's arm and pulls him over to the table, guiding him into a chair.
"How are you feeling?" Sam asks, hesitantly offering him a glass of water, unsure if it's needed.
Castiel takes it. He may not require it to live, but it's still a nice refreshment, especially after one has been in a coma for some time.
"We were starting to get worried. You've been asleep for over two weeks." Sam says.
"Good to have you back in the land of the living." Bobby adds in, feeling like he should say something after having the Angel lying unconscious on his couch for those two weeks.
"Zachariah?" He croaks, now that he's recovered his voice a little.
He doesn't remember much beyond Zachariah nearly murdering him, nor is he sure how he managed to escape such a fate and how Dean, Sam and Bobby are still alive.
"Its okay, that asshat won't ever come back. I'd rather he be dead, but that's the next best thing I suppose." Dean says.
"The Thrones showed up, they banished him. They said he'd never be able to find this place again." Sam clarifies.
Castiel listens to the rest of their story, only half listening to the words as he simply enjoys the feeling of being alive, or as Bobby put it 'in the land of the living.'
He still has a job to do, still has to find God. Zachariah and others like Leochoir are still out there, he'll have to be better prepared for them next time. He'll search for the Thrones, though he's not sure if he'll be able to find them, neither is he sure he'll be able to find God. But he can't give up, he can't let humanity fall. While his friends plunge headfirst into the apocalypse and this war, he'll be out there, ready to help, still trying desperately to help…
The sun has only just slipped behind the high blue peaks, casting a few last dying rays across the sky, allowing the night to lay claim upon the small town. He watches from His lofty perch as lights start to peek through the dim, sparkling in a chaotic grid below. He smiles, eyes twinkling as an evening breeze blows through His human hair and beard, refreshing as He has made it to be. His Court is with him on this fine eve as He has requested, silent and waiting amongst the air and earth, bothering neither. Only His Commander has materialized a body and waits in physical form. He spends a few minutes longer simply enjoying such a fine eve as this before addressing them.
"I would speak to the Commander alone for a bit." He says.
The air momentarily fills with a sharp screeching and odd rolling thunder as the Thrones and the rest of his Court depart before the Commander and He are left alone. The lone Throne keeps its head bowed respectfully, awaiting its next orders.
"You know, I do worry about that Castiel, he's got quite the wild streak in him. I trust you can handle that?" He asks, not looking to the Throne.
"Yes, my Lord."
"Good, good. After all, I am quite busy. I haven't finished writing my story yet."
"Do you plan to end it soon?" The Throne asks.
He smiles, eyes crinkling.
The Throne doesn't smile yet its human eyes shine in an odd way.
"Your Will be done."
Striking metal snaps the night air and then is gone, leaving Him alone to his musing as He watches the twilight lit town. His thoughts cannot be kept from the odd little Angel he has put so much personal time into and He smiles.
"Funny little Angel." He mutters.
…Or is it?