Alright, first chapter! This is gonna get steadily more and more shameless Dean/Cas, for right now you get exposition and delightful team banter. I'm obsessively writing this as close to a monster of the week episode as I can get, which means we start off with some mook getting harassed. Feel free to skip the first few paragraphs if it escapes your interest, the boys show up right after, I swear.
There's a modest but respectable church nestled comfortably at the base of rolling foot hills that mark the outskirts of the tiny town. An enraged thunderstorm dominated the darkened sky, volleys of electricity tossed back and forth like battling banjos, the brawny bass of accompanying thunder demanding all of a person's attention. The steeple of the church reached mournfully upward, the flashing lightning dancing around its heavenly aspirations.
Inside the nearly abandoned building, Sister Ashley Christian stared in wonder up at the celestial light show. She was young enough and sheltered enough that fear was nothing but a buried, primitive emotion that she'd never really had to confront outside of walking past smoking teenagers in faux leather jackets outside the Gas n Go, so the biting wrath of nature right on her doorstep was met with nothing but contentedness at the pretty lights. She went about her rounds, cleaning up the mess left behind by the young mens choir and locking the doors behind her.
Turning off the light in the chapel, she crossed the neat grid of pews and headed for the wooden double doors . A soft sound stopped her in her tracks; she frowned, trying to process what she'd heard. There it was again. Like a dog scratching questioningly at a door, begging for entrance. She frowned and turned towards it. Sister Christian found herself staring at the empty, lonely looking confessionals tucked away in the back corner of the chapel.
She advanced on it curiously, images of cute little stray kittens tumbling over each other filling her mind, and as if encouraged by her own thoughts, a quiet mewl accompanied the scratching. As she reached out for the handle to the confessional, the noises stopped. Frowning, she opened the creaky door and peered inside. Seeing nothing immediately apparent, Sister Christian stepped inside curiously.
The door slammed shut behind her with a bang, causing her to gasp and whip around, pushing against the door. A low growling came from the window connecting the two booths, and as Sister Christian flailed uselessly against the door, the confessional next to hers began shaking violently. Her scream was drowned out by an impressive peal of thunder.
"My... chiiiiild." A grating voice called haltingly, seeming to come from every direction at once. "T-teeeeell me of your siiiiinssss." The confessional gave another angry shutter, and Sister Christian screamed in fright, tears streaming down her face.
She was gripping her rosary so tight that she could feel the beads push unpleasantly against the bones in her hand; she closed her eyes and began praying out loud, doing her best to ignore the mayhem around her.
At the phrase 'Heavenly father', a click issued from the door and Sister Christian fell backwards, having cowered against the door. She tumbled to the carpeted floor outside, her habit tangling up in her legs as she scrambled to her feet and bolted for the exit. Behind her, the confessional ceased shaking and burst open with a wild eruption of wind.
Her hair flew about her head as she pried open the door and sprinted down the hall, pictures falling from the walls behind her and doors flying open of their own accord. She could see the entrance, the double doors next to a wide bay window that showed the rain lashed parking lot outside. Just as she reached out for the handle and felt the triumphant tickling of successful escape, she felt herself propelled forward and turned to see the window growing in size as she was thrown against it.
Her face smashed against the glass and she collapsed to the ground, tasting and smelling the blood pouring freely from her nose and several wounds. Her vision swam, and she blinked furiously against the urge to succumb to sweet unconsciousness.
Sister Ashley Christian rubbed her eyes and stared in awe at the miracle above her.
On a nearly forgotten highway two states over and four days after the 'miracle' in Farmington, the sun beat down mercilessly on the desert surroundings and reflected dazzlingly bright off a pristine '67 Impala winding its way purposfully through the hot afternoon.
The upbeat chords of Styx's 'Too Much Time on my Hands' filled the interior of the car, Dean Winchester drumming on the steering wheel along with the song as he drove. Sam sat next to him, long legs stretched out as far as they could go, which was surprisingly not very far at all considering the luxurious amount of leg room. Sam filled the passenger seat, and most of the bench for that matter, with various notebooks, maps, and a few ancient, recently stolen grimoires; he sat with a hand in his hair frowning at the silver notebook computer open on his lap.
Dean glanced at the rearview mirror, catching the less than ecstatic expression on his brother's face. "What's the sitch, Kim Possible?"
"How do you even know that reference?" Sam asked, earning himself a sour glance.
"I don't have to explain myself to you."
"Thank god, right?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "Was there another miracle on 34th street or are you just really put out with a forum captcha?"
"Not all of us get as confounded by slanty letters as you do, Dean. They've updated their, er, facebook page-"
"Christ. Social networking can really make case investigation sound hella lame." He rolled his head in preparation for the news, reaching out to mute the radio.
"No kidding. Anyway, looks like during services today the organ, uh, 'grew hot with God's passion and released the notes of the angel's themselves'. Which is a really fun way to say it became so hot that the organist's fingers literally melted onto the keys and the pipes began dripping molten steel onto some of the altar boys before it made some sort of... Really loud blast, leaving no less than five of the audience members in the hospital with ruptered ear drums."
A disgusted grimace spread across Dean's face as he squinted against the bright sun they drove into. "Holy crap. What about that is miraculous?"
"Ah, well once the pipes stopped spazing out and cooled off, they'd melted into a perfect replica of, any guesses?"
"Virgin Mary. Slutty Mary. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, no, Sistine Chapel floor. Mel Gibson-"
"Okay, stop guessing," Sam cut him off, berating himself for encouraging him. "The Madonna and Child, perfectly captured in melted metal."
Dean whisteled softly.
"Yeah, between this, Jesus burned into the carpet by the candles uprighting themselves, and the Last Supper shattered into that window, that podunk church is turning into Arkansas' own Louvre."
"Yeah, whatever that means."
With a long suffering sigh, Sam turned to him with pursed lips, clearly intending to drop a knowledge bomb. Before he got around to learning Dean up about art, his eyes flicked towards the backseat and his face went deathly white. In a flurry of papers and gangly limbs, Sam dislodged everything on his lap and brought a gun around in a shaking hand.
The sudden movement and animal like grunts of surprise caused Dean to swerve dangerously close to the edge of the road, which was nothing that a few swear words and careful handling couldn't correct. "What the fuck are you- Heya, Cas." His grin filled the rear view mirror.
Sam blinked in confusion at the stock still figure in the backseat; a hard plastic, cartoonishly depicted clown mask covering its face. It slowly reached up and removed the mask, the elastic band snapping across already tousled, brown hair. Castiel met his gaze with a steady, bored expression.
"What the hell, Cas?!"
Cas turned bright blue, apathetic eyes to the driver. "Is that what you had in mind, Dean?"
Dean was chuckling quietly, banging the steering wheel gleefully. "You were supposed to do it at night, Cas."
He frowned and squinted his eyes as if in deep thought before replying. "No, Dean. I just revisited that exchange and you never mentioned anything about doing it at night. You just said to wear the mask the next time I needed to talk to both of you while you were on the road, preferably after sunset."
"After sunset didn't clue you in?"
"What the hell, you guys?!" Sam angrily shoved the gun back into the duffel bag at his feet. "That was just stupidly reckless! What if I'd tried to shoot him?"
Cas held out a closed fist to Sam, who questioningly held his own giant hand out. Merry tinkling bounced around the car as six unspent bullets exchanged possession. "These are yours, I emptied your clip to minimize the danger. Dean, after sunset is very ambiguous and I assure you I had no knowledge of this particular connotation."
"It seems pretty explicit to me." Dean said, still smiling to himself.
"At this particular moment, the sun has set precisely sixteen hundred, forty two billion nine-"
"Okay, rain man, ease off."
"Do you have anything to tell us, Cas, or are you just flying around being Dean's little prank monkey?" Sam asked as he glared moodily out at the monotonous scenery flashing past.
"I don't know what that means. The church in Arkansas is a problem."
"No shit." Sam grumbled. "We were just gonna ignore the little old ladies and nuns being horribly injured."
"Well I don't think that's the correct course of action. You should turn as much attention as possible onto those events."
The seriousness of the angel's deep voice caused Dean to flash another crooked grin at the mirror. He couldn't help it, every time Castiel took something predictably literally, he found himself smiling warmly. He'd taken to setting him up for it just for his own amusement. "Cas, your tie is on backwards again."
He looked away from the front seat, staring into the distance as if Dean had hit on a sensitive subject. "I am an angel of the lord, Dean. I do not have time to be concerned with my attire."
"Well then I guess we're lucky you pull off scruffy and disheveled so well."
"I'm here to assure you that nothing happening in Arkansas is in any way miraculous. You should do everything within your power to put a stop to it."
"That's great, Lassie. You got any other information for us? Maybe a hint as to what this thing is?" Dean reached over with his right hand, shuffling papers around on the bench until he uncovered the plastic gas station bag he was searching for. His question hung unanswered in the air. "Cas?"
"I don't think he knows." Sam said helpfully, earning a frown from the backseat.
"The things you know that I do not are imperceptible when viewed in comparison to the worlds upon worlds of knowledge that I hold."
"Yeah, he doesn't know. It's okay, Cas, even the best of us can struggle getting it up." Dean smiled at him in the mirror. "Well, I never have. But Sam here has got some stories."
"Shut up, Dean."
"Here, you want one of these, Cas?"
Cas' attention quickly shifted to the proffered item; a yellow pastry inside of a cellophane wrapper sat on Dean's outstretched hand. "I don't know what that is."
"What? It's a Twinkie, man."
"… Well I'm not going to say that word."
"You don't have to say it, just eat it."
He picked up the pastry, holding it awkwardly in one hand. "I can't enter the church with you unless it's absolutely necessary, so I'm depending on you two for this investigation."
Sam looked over his shoulder, wrinkles of confusion criss crossing his forehead. "What'd'ya mean you can't enter the church? Shouldn't you be all over houses of the holy?"
"Yes, usually I am quite at home in the house of the lord. That church, however, is special. It's foundation was laid by true believers who could, at times, see through the veil. It's location geographically increases the effect, the way a certain spot in a canyon receives all of the echoes around it. That building has been crafted over time into a perfect, psychic focal point. Right now, that church is full beyond capacity with near zealots praying day in and day out, the power that amalgamation of psychic energy and prayer creates is incredibly overwhelming."
"You're saying they're praying too much for you to be around?" Dean asked, laughing slightly in disbelief.
"And you don't think that's a little bit funny?"
"I don't see any humor in the situation, no."
"Said Castiel always. Are you gonna eat that or just hold it?"
The angel was sitting rigidly in the dead center of the bench, incomprehension covering his face as he studied the Twinkie in his hand. He looked up at his name, blinking at Dean. "I'll eat it later."
In a fluttering blink, he was gone.
"Damn it." Dean muttered, disappointed.
"What's wrong? Did you need to ask him something else?"
"What? No, I just… Never mind." He shook his head like someone dismissing something. "Will you hand me that Bad Company tape? We've gotta put a couple hundred miles behind us, you ready to round up some nuns?"
"Ready as I'll ever be, I guess."