Song Remains the Same

Chapter 130 / Line of Fire

"To save all we must risk all."
Friedrich Schiller

Immediately after the puke fiasco, the twins exited the motel room together, keeping stride easily even though they were apart nearly a foot in height. An early morning chill lingered underneath the slowly-brightening sky. The world was mostly still asleep.

Dean waited for them by the Impala—alone with crossed arms—and when Alex's face silently asked a silent, slightly-worried 'where's Cas?' Dean nodded toward the side of the motel where there was a neatly trimmed flowerbed you were not supposed to disturb. Cas was there, doing exactly what he wasn't supposed to be: selecting and then plucking flowers carefully. Dean looked pretty done with life overall and threw a hand out briefly toward the angel as a curious Alex and Sam joined him at the car. Dean let out a vaguely pissed exhale from his nostrils. "So we got serious stuff to do and he's… that." While Dean crossed his arms again with a vaguely surly look across his sleep-deprived countenance, Sam and Alex watched Cas with similarly soft, amused expressions as the bent over angel in a trench coat chose several more blooms and then straightened.

He saw his audience and hesitated a moment, then with a look of determination, he approached the Winchesters with eyes only for Alex. Cas held out a bouquet of about five multi-colored flowers to her. "For you," he said, appearing hopeful and even a little apologetic.

Alex was looking at him with a quizzically confused expression on her face. He'd been in such a hurry thirty seconds ago to 'not keep Dean waiting' and now he was… picking flowers? Well, as nonsensical as it was, it was still hella cute in any universe and her smile spread despite her general feeling of sickness and fatigue. "Uh… thanks." She took them, looked at them a couple seconds and then, struck by a silly idea, plucked a pink one out as a trollish smile played on her face. She perched the flower behind Cas's ear and a grin broke at the confused face that looked back at her. "Pink is your color, Cas," she teased, barely able to keep from laughing at the sight of him standing there all serious with a pink flower dotting the side of his head. At the complimenting tone, Cas looked pleased, if still slightly confused.

While Sam was entertained, Dean looked absolutely appalled at what had just happened. "Good lord, Cas, don't let her do that to you!" he exclaimed, apparently offended in Cas's stead.

Cas looked at Dean with more growing confusion. "Why not?" He squinted his eyes and his voice lowered studiously. "I would let her do anything to me."

Sam snorted and coughed at that statement and politely tried to cover over laughter because Dean's face, oh, his face. "TMI," the oldest Winchester mumbled, glaring at the flower. And then, apparently he couldn't stand it anymore. "You look ridiculous," he declared, then snatched the flower off of his friend and tossed it away—he should have tossed it the other way, because Alex reacted like she was playing sports and made a side lunge, caught the flower deftly, and then made to put it in Dean's hair. All in the span of a second. Dean leaned back fast with his hands up in defense. "Hey! I draw the line at flowers!" he barked.

His sister had a devious sort of smile on her face. "Oh, do you?" she challenged coyly, letting the flower spin between her forefinger and thumb. A positively devious smile twitched on her mouth. "You don't remember summer of ninety-two…?"

Dean was rendered utterly aghast, then quickly irritated. "No." The way he said no with so much emphasis gave away the fact that he was full of shit.

Alex said nothing. Just stuck her nose in the flower but it couldn't hide her basically evil smile. Sam, never one to miss much that was written between the lines, was totally amused and it made him look years younger and healthier. "Oh I am gonna need to hear all about this," he said to his sister, mirth making his voice bright.

Face as flat as a cutting board, Dean shot his brother a look. "No, you're not, now who's ready to hit the road?" He hit the top of the car twice, closing the subject and trying to look tough. "Load up, gang."

Cas was quickly confused and then even mildly panicked when Alex made for the back door of the Impala. "Wait—you're going, too?" he asked, and the clearly panicked tone in his voice made all three Winchesters look at him oddly. Cas fumbled. "Don't you—maybe want to go back to the bunker because of how, um—how you're feeling?"

Alex pulled a pink bottle out of her jacket pocket and showed it to Cas. "Sam got me Pepto Bismol."

Cas stared at the bottle and then made slow, solid eye contact with Alex. He had the weirdest look on his face. "I… don't think that will help." He wet his lips, a nervous gesture he rarely ever used, and moved closer to her, touching a shoulder and appealing to her in concern with supremely worried eyes. "Alex, you need rest. Let me take you back there."

It was sweet, but she wasn't about to sit this one out. Alex felt herself smiling at Cas regretfully. "Cas, I never get rest. It goes with the territory when you're a Winchester."

His look of protest grew. "But Alex—"

"Come on, Cas," Dean complained impatiently. "She can hack it. Not the first time I've had a sick twin scraping by during a case." Cas gave the hunter such a look of reluctance and even slight sass across the top of the car that Dean hesitated and then became incredibly suspicious. "Something you're not telling us?" he asked.

Castiel's eyes darted from Winchester to Winchester until he uncomfortably mumbled, "I just want my wife to be cared for properly."

Dean made a psh sound like Cas was being preposterous. "She's got the three of us." He made a duh face, dismissing the angel's worries with a challenging, "You were saying?"

Disgruntled, Cas heaved a sigh of resignation. "Fine. Well…" he squared his shoulders and got his businesslike face on. "I can transport us, at least."

Alex looked surprised and then quickly confused. "Us?"

Cas was inexplicably upset and earnest, like it was the end of the world. "If you're going on a case, then I'm going too," he insisted, looking at her in a riled up, emotional way. Not for the first time, Alex noticed that he was acting strange. She attributed it to his trauma surrounding killing Jane and the stress of the trials, but a small smidgeon of doubt crept in. He had acted sort of like this when he'd been lying to her about the war in Heaven…

"But what about the trials?" Sam asked, raising a very good point. "Aren't you supposed to be doing them right now?"

Cas was still incredibly terse and distressed. "They can wait." He looked at Alex. His expression relaxed and he reached out for her hand and held it gently, calming visibly. "It can all wait," he said, softer that time. A silent question rested in Alex's eyes and promised to be asked later. Cas seemed to understand—and then looked around for a new conversation subject. "Now where exactly are we going, and why?"

Dean and Sam exchanged a dark glance and Sam was the one who spoke up in a grim tone. "Fun story."

Once he had the full details, Cas was incredibly resistant to the idea of going somewhere that Crowley was trying to lure them to. Before he even considered transporting the Winchesters, he insisted on checking the place for himself and then disappeared without giving a chance for them to protest. He came back a minute later with a grim look on his face and said what he'd found wasn't pleasant but it appeared safe enough—he then asked again if Alex really wanted to go—and then when she said yes, he transported them to the address Crowley had given.

On a dark street, an unremarkable house was sandwiched between a bunch of more unremarkable houses. It was a standard neighborhood and it was quiet, calm, ominously serene. This was where Crowley wanted them to go…? A generic neighborhood that Alex didn't recognize? Why? She opened her mouth to ask Cas which house was the one Crowley had sent them the address of. And then the question was answered before she could even ask.

"Jenny's house," Sam breathed, and he sounded vaguely horrified. Alex looked up at him questioningly. Who was Jenny, exactly? Disturbed and worried, Sam shook his head shallowly. "Someone we saved," he explained softly. He looked at the angel like he already knew the answer to his question. "Cas, is she…?"

The slow, reluctant look on the angel's face said it all. No. Sam was immediately visibly grieved. Dean was hard to read. Alex felt confusion and suspicion. If this was a trap, why wasn't Crowley springing it?

"James helped with this case," Dean murmured without warning. A soft, quiet statement uttered to no one in particular. He was looking at the house in the soft morning light, seeing things that only existed in his memories. When he heard himself say that aloud, he was startled and looked around as if to check and see if they'd heard him. They had, and he was the picture of heartbroken embarrassment when he realized that. It was a strange, sad way to see your oldest brother. He was supposed to be invincible. But it was so clear that he just wasn't anymore. He cleared his throat and pretended he was fine and led the way around the back of the house without another word. They broke in and were immediately confronted by a distinct, terrible smell. Like burned meat—but something was really wrong about it—it almost smelled like charred human flesh.

Alex immediately threw her arm up over her face, blocking her nose as the overpowering stench wafted out of the door Dean had just opened. "What is that smell?!" she complained with a confounded expression, hanging back from the doorway because she was suddenly not sure about going in at all.

Sam was the first to pinpoint the reason. Flashlight in hand, he moved forward and squinted into the smoky kitchen. He nearly gagged, his sleeve against his mouth and nose. "Jesus, it's Jenny," he managed through a tight voice as he grimaced against the odor.

Alex drifted closer to the scene of the crime, barely able to breathe. Her eyes stung, but she could start to make out shapes in the darkness under the illuminating sweeps of the flashlights. Cas was nearby, she could feel him standing closely to her. But all she could really pay attention to was what she'd spotted: the still-smoking corpse that was half-shoved into a gaping kitchen oven. It was charred and burned badly, but recognizable as being a female's body.

"What is going on here?" Dean asked. He sounded genuinely staggered and out of answers. Not angry and frustrated—not fiery. Defeated, almost. He had his flashlight up high, trained on Jenny's corpse, and he just stared and stared, obviously at a loss. "What's Crowley doing?"

A soft ringing sound sounded just then, muffled within Sam's jacket pocket. Sam dug his phone out quickly and checked the screen. Darkening and tensing, Sam glanced at his brother. "Hey. It's him." The word 'him' was enough to send chills down Alex's spine: Crowley.

Immediately, Dean regained his commanding air and looked at Cas and Alex significantly. "Not a word," he ordered hard and low. "Either of you. We don't want him to know you're here."

Cas had already shifted closer to Alex, one of his hands slipping up to hold her by the upper arm protectively. Alex got the feeling that at the slightest sign of any kind of immediate danger, Cas would whisk her away… and honestly, she was fine with that and as a testament to her very real fear of the King of Hell, her opposite hand unconsciously slid up to clench onto Cas's.

Sam answered his phone and put it on speaker, immediately hostile. "What the hell are you doing, Crowley?" he demanded. His gaze was alert and he was glancing around into every dark corner for any sign of attack.

The King of Hell was as smug and arrogant as ever; his voice completely unmistakable. "Oh, Moosie, isn't it obvious?" he purred. His voice was the stuff of nightmares. Alex's nightmares. "I'm killing everyone you've ever saved—the damsels in distress, the innocent whippersnappers, the would-be vampire chow—all of them."

All three of the Winchesters were baffled, horrified. Dean looked particularly aghast. "How do you even know—?" he started.

There was a dark chuckle. "How do I even know?" Crowley repeated in an amused tone. "Well, I have many means, of course, but also might have something to do with sister's brain, y'know—had full access to it while she was down under with me. Her memories are my fodder for destruction." Face gone white, blood gone cold, Alex was the picture of absolutely stricken. "Take that pill and swallow it down, why don't you, Mouse." Crowley paused and his wicked smile was audible. "Know you're there," he murmured silkily, making Alex shrink into Cas even further. "Miss you loads. Can't wait to see you again." He chuckled leisurely and Cas's hand tightened around Alex's arm. He said nothing, but he didn't need to. The way his fingers dug into her said it all: he wasn't going to let go. He was going to protect her. And he was very, very angry. Practically bristling. "Anyhoo," Crowley sighed, "When you lot hit a town, you tend to leave a mess. Now, you're probably wondering why my droogs aren't in there giving you the bum's rush, so let's brass these tacks, shall we? I'm gonna gut one person every twelve hours until you bring me the demon tablet and stop this whole trials nonsense. You flannel-wearing boyband rejects will not be closing my shop now or ever, are we clear?" He paused and his dangerous tone took on a more smug quality. "Oh, and while we're on demands, I've thought about it and you can keep Papa Winchester, he's a total bore. But the cute one? You'll need to return her to me, her rightful owner. Now, are we clear?"

It was hard to say which male in the room was more absolutely enraged at the demand for Alex—Cas physically swelled (or it seemed that way) and Alex held a hand against his chest as a silent don't. Dean was the one who fired back a reply the fastest. "Yeah how about we keep them both and you shove it up your ass, Crowley?" he snapped.

The King of Hell's voice was dark. "I dislike your tone, Deano."

Dean raised his eyebrows, talking into the phone that Sam still held. "Look, I get that I'm small beans to you, but you really wanna mess with the angel's girl?" He scoffed, glancing over at Cas, whose expression was basically murderous. "I mean, no offense, but you're kinda asking for the smackdown of a lifetime."

Crowley just made a long, slow sound like mmm. "Thrill of the risk, buddy. And come on, she's the best leverage I've ever had the pleasure of…" there was a low, throaty chuckle that dripped with suggestion. "well, I don't like to kiss and tell, gents."

Cas looked like he was about to lunge at the phone, but Dean smacked a hand to the angel's chest and made a hard, fast calm down motion with his other hand.

Sam tried to change the subject. "Look, we don't have the tablet. Kevin took it and—"

"And I took Kevin," Crowley said thinly—his more jaunty air was dissolving fast and giving way to real anger. "Then someone took him back. Word from the cloud is that it wasn't Heaven. So either the cutest little Prophet in the world is with my least favorite family, or you better find him tout-bloody-suite because time, she is a-wasting." The demon paused and then spoke again, a bit calmer. "About now, you're thinking of ways to stop me. You won't be able to, but you'll try because that's what you do. You—you try. So, time for an object lesson. Indianapolis, the Ivy Motel, room one-sixteen. You have fifty-seven minutes. Pip pip, cheerio." The line went dead as Crowley hung up.

And then with a tremendous sound and no warning whatsoever, all the glass in the room exploded—the lightbulbs, the microwave door, the glass kitchen table, the china displayed on the shelf above the sink, a vase, a tea kettle. Everything. Alex yelped and covered her head while half crouching, Sam and Dean both threw hands up in front of their faces as they flinched. As the millions of pieces of glass settled on the floor, everyone looked at Cas, who had a gaunt, severe look on his face. His fists were white at his sides, his breathing was agitated, and he looked ready to kill. "I'm sorry for that," he said darkly, tremblingly. "But I am very angry."

Sometimes, you forgot how powerful he was and how much you did not want to get on his bad side. "Yeah, no—uh—got it." Sam said weakly, obviously surprised and a little awed.

"What'd lightbulbs ever do to you?" Dean joked faintly.

The question was ignored. "Mark my words, he'll pay." Castiel looked at Alex in a dreadful severity—the sick, scared look on her face wasn't something she could hide, and everyone saw it, but Cas spoke to it and told her point blank: "And furthermore, he'll never touch you again. I will be dead before that happens to you." Unable to find her voice, Alex just nodded, although in the back of her mind, she was scared to death of the King of Hell.

"Yeah but—what do we do?" Dean asked in mild panic as he gestured back toward the oven where Jenny was dead and how. "He's gunning down innocent people!"

Cas clenched his jaw and set his gaze on Jenny. "First what we do is this." He went over and pulled her out of the oven and crouching, put a hand to what was her forehead. With a touch, a glow of light, and a hum of sound, she resembled herself again—a young and pretty blonde woman who appeared to be asleep. The charring and burning was gone. She was completely restored.

All three Winchesters regarded Castiel with complete and utter awe.

"Did you just…?" Alex breathed.

Sam hurried into action and helped settle a sleeping Jenny against the cabinets next to her still-smoking oven. Cas nodded vaguely at Alex—but he did not look relieved or growingly overjoyed like everyone else in the room. "She'll rest," the angel intoned deeply. "Someone should probably call the authorities; she'll be quite upset when she wakes up." He looked around the room with a strange, weighted gaze. "What a terrible world we live in."

Dean watched as Cas stood up. "So, you can still… raise people from the dead," he said quietly, then cracked a nervous grin. "Sure your name isn't Christ-iel?" At the look he got for that one, he pinched his expression once again. "Nevermind." He jerked his head toward the back door. "We gotta get over to the Ivy Motel, now." He'd meant that they needed to go get the car and then squeal tires that way—but without a moment's notice, the scenery changed after a brief dizzy feeling and suddenly they were inside the Ivy Motel—a long hallway with numbered doors. A little disconcerted, Dean looked at Cas, who was the culprit behind the instant transfer. Blinking once, Dean fished for a reaction. "Well that was… anti climactic."

Genuinely confused, Cas studied Dean briefly. "You said we had to get here 'now.'" Cas said, using air quotes around the word now and looking at the hunter questioningly. "Isn't now, um… now?"

Surprising everyone, Dean gave his sister an unamused look. "You married a dork." And without giving anyone a chance to comment or reflect on the fact that Dean had just acknowledged and affirmed something he'd fought against in the past, he looked at the door in front of them: hotel room number 116. "Wonder who's in there," he muttered.

Sam shook his head grimly and stepped forward. "Only one way to find out." He knocked on the door firmly and they waited. The door opened a few seconds later to reveal a familiar face: a beautiful young woman with hair like mahogany and bright, intelligent eyes. Sam was the most surprised to see her, though. "Sarah…!" he exclaimed softly, his jaw dropping open.

Sarah Blake recognized him, too, then Dean and Alex. They hadn't seen this girl in years—she'd been along with them for a job back when Sam had just rejoined the family. She and Sam had shared quite the little romance, too. And Sarah, being a very smart and keen young woman, saw the three of them and a stern stranger in a trench coat and immediately, she got worried. "Sam? W-what's going on?" Her eyes flickered back over the other two Winchesters briefly and then rested on Cas for a couple beats more before she looked at Sam.

"Uh…" Sam managed, obviously overwhelmed.

Dean smacked his brother on the arm. "Hey—you catch her up on what's happening. Be right back." He looked at the angel. "Cas, can we go get my car? Need some gear. Now."

Cas nodded. "Of course."

They were ported without warning—Dean, Alex, and Cas—to the Impala, where it was still outside of their motel room.

"We'll need to demon-be-gone that entire place," Dean said to his sister—he was in the zone, focused and no-nonsense. "Get the stuff outta the back, will you?" He popped the trunk from the driver's seat for her and then began to rummage under his seat. In a familiar drill as old as they were, Alex began to gather stuff from the trunk.

Cas stood back and watched either Winchester in turn. "I take it you know this girl Sarah," he said after a moment.

"Yeah and Sam knows her real well," Dean said.

At the other man's deliberate tone, Cas hesitated as he tried to deduce the meaning. "You mean… sexually," he ventured.

Dean snorted and stood straight then clapped the angel on the shoulder. "I love how subtle you are, buddy," he said wryly. He frowned when he saw Alex standing at the trunk doing nothing with a weird look on her face. "You okay back there?"

She glanced his way and tried to knock the look off her face. "Still feeling crappy," she said, then got back to plucking items out of the trunk.

Cas looked particularly strained and worried. He approached Alex and tried appealing to her again. "Let me take you back to the bunker," he asked, his tone approaching a begging quality. "Please. Where you can rest and, um—we can—" he lowered his voice, seemingly trying to convey some important sentiment, "be alone together." Alex's eyebrows moved in toward each other faintly in a silent question. Cas silently prompted her with an earnest look. Alex grew a little perturbed because she was confused and tired of being confused.

With mild disgust, Dean let out a short huff of air as he mistook the exchange for something else. "My god, you two are something else."

Cas withered. "I didn't mean—" he started, then must have decided it was a waste of time trying to convince Dean otherwise. He shot the hunter a look of brief annoyance before he turned his attention back to the youngest Winchester. His face became pinched and pulled in concern. "Alex, you're not feeling well," he reasoned. "Shouldn't you, uh… 'sit this one out'?" He looked like he wanted to beg her to do exactly that.

She shook her head firmly even though she appeared queasy. Her irritation was growing. With everything ever. "No, I'm fine. I just wanna get over this thing." She'd managed her life mind-over-matter so good so far. A little virus or whatever wasn't gonna stand in her way. She rummaged around in the trunk, ignoring her general feeling of illness as she looked for the spray paint. When she didn't find it, she straightened and looked to Dean, who was currently getting stuff out of the back seat of the car. She was incredibly grumpy. "You got the spray paint up there or is it—" he turned and deftly chucked a can at her out of nowhere, catching her off guard completely and prompting her to yelp, "Hey!" as she barely managed to catch it. "Well don't throw it at me!" she snapped.

Dean gave her one of those superior, jaunty looks. "Why? You know how to catch." His expression turned lecturing. "But you're getting outta practice. I was doing you a favor."

Annoyed, Alex rolled her eyes and glowered at her brother. Cas looked from her to Dean and decided to speak up for her. "Please don't throw things at my wife," he said, then at the challenging look he got, Cas sighed briefly. "Your sister." He got a look from Alex for that one and Cas tried the most neutral noun. "At her."

With a face on like he was setting the record straight, Dean pointed at Cas. "I get to throw things," he said authoritatively. "Because she was my sister way before she was your—" he stopped and discomfort came across his face. Apparently he couldn't make himself say the word. "You know."

Alex was pretty much done at that point. "So good with words, Dean, woooow."

"He started it," Dean accused.

There was some hesitation on the angel's part and a deep squint. "…I'm fairly certain I did no such thing." Dean gave the angel a look that said otherwise. Cas was grave. "And I still really don't want you to throw things at her."

Alex sighed and put a hand to her forehead as her annoyance gave way to fatigue. "My head hurts."

"They make pills for that," Dean retorted, then picked up the bag of stuff Alex had thrown together in the back then swung it over his shoulder. "Okay, Cas. Think we're ready."

"Nope," Alex said, then nodded at their hotel room and started that way. "I need to use the bathroom." She threw this next word back without looking: "Alone."

Cas stopped in his tracks, mildly wounded at being left behind.

"Make it snappy," Dean said, impatient and tense. He shook his head, leaned against the car, and let his duffel bag drop to the ground. "Spent half my life waiting for that kid or the other one," he muttered, crossing his arms and looking around. The sun was rising now, casting a pleasant, dim glow over the parking lot. Cas stood there for a moment, watching Alex disappear into the motel room, then he joined Dean in leaning against the car. Cas's studious gaze didn't leave the motel. For a minute, the men were quiet. Then Dean huffed and looked at his friend sidelong. "How you doin', Cas?" he asked, but it wasn't gentle or thoughtful. It was nearly demanding.

The angel looked positively startled and even alarmed—like the question was something he didn't know how to answer. "I'm…" he blinked a couple times and his eyes skirted Dean's. "I'm good. But, um, anxious. About… uh, everything." He cleared his throat and then set his friend with a stern, interested frown. "And you? How are you faring?"

There was a short, humorless laughing sound. "I don't know. I never know." Dean stared off into the parking lot sightlessly with a hard look on his face for a long moment before he really answered. "I'm tired, I know that much." He paused and his mask of a face softened with worry. "And I don't like what these trials are doing to Sam." His face continued to grow more open and emotional. His eyes glanced tellingly toward the motel room. "I worry about her," he said, voice soft and incredibly vulnerable all of the sudden. "The Hell stuff, you know?" The men shared a similarly weighted gaze and Dean shook his head, his voice tightened. "I mean, I know what they did to me. What would they do to a woman?" He let out a tense breath and shook his head yet again, looking down at the ground with a certain kind of wretched expression. "Can't do a damn thing about it now. Kills me." His expression twisted. "And I got another one down there right now." Jamie. Cas nodded somberly as Dean's face wrenched. "And I can't get to her. How am I supposed to be okay with that?" He looked at Cas finally. "Ever? We were… we were gonna have a kid." He said that and his voice bore witness to how incredibly invested he'd been in that idea. With another soft, cynical little laugh Dean looked up at the sky and searched it with pained, exhausted eyes. "My dad's in a coma, Crowley's breathing down my neck, my brother and sister are both sick as dogs, I haven't slept good in, uh, ever—" he plastered a thin, sarcastic smile across his face. "So yeah I'm good, Cas. I'm freakin' great."

Cas was quiet for a long moment, then he gingerly offered a promise. "Well, whatever things you face… good and bad…" Dean looked at Cas at that point and then angel was incredibly earnest and grim. "I'm here with you."

If someone else had been there, Dean might have made some comment about how sappy or gay that declaration was. But without someone who he had to prove his toughness to, Dean just nodded and took a minute. "Same, man." A look passed between them that remembered Purgatory, brotherhood, and fighting side by side. "Glad you're along for this one honestly," Dean admitted, then cast his distracted, tense gaze off into the distance. "Like old times, huh?"

In the land of monsters when they'd had each other's back. "Like old times," was the angel's somber reply.

Another short silence and Dean whipped his head to look at Cas suddenly. "She talk to you? She okay? I don't think she tells me everything anymore. Or if she tells anyone everything anymore."

Cas's expression softened a little. "We tell each other everything," he said, and a strange, hopeful, fond look passed across his face and Cas drew in a deep breath and looked at Dean with all certainty. "She's going to make it through this, Dean. Through everything. I'm going to make sure of it. Things will… they'll change."

Dean contemplated his friend's words—something about them caught his attention. "Change how?" he asked.

Cas looked vaguely caught and wet his lips slowly, hesitant to reply. Then the motel room door opened and Alex emerged and rejoined the guys at the Impala. Dean gave Cas one more glance then decided it was nothing. "Alex," she announced as she reached them, then was surprised when Dean straightened from the car and hugged her with one arm and rubbed her back briefly. She gave him a suspicious, weird look, like she was waiting for the punchline. "What was that for?"

Dean made a face. "What, I gotta have a reason to hug my sister?" he asked. "Lame." He pointed at Cas and then jerked a thumb over his shoulder, indicating that it was go time. "All right, Cas. Vamanos."

Author's Notes: so the line Alex said to Cas about pink being his color is a reference to what I said to Osric when I first met him + Mama Tran at my very first 2 second photo op in Vegaslol literally, my first words to him were a super joking "omg, pink is your color Osric" because of his hot pink outfit for cosplay. His reply? A kinda cheeky, "Yeahit really is, isn't it." #instantbestfriends

So, a word about chapter length and how often I post now. I appreciate everyone hanging in there. I've only gotten a few complaining reviews (my preference would be NO complaining reviews but can't please everyone I guess) but for those of you who understand that I don't have the same amount of time anymore to write SRS yet still choose to write itthank you for your kindness and empathy :) hope you enjoyed the chapter! Byeeee~