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A Moment of Weakness (Chapter 3)


Dean didn’t realize how much he hated when Castiel didn’t answer his prayers until his prayers went unanswered for weeks. He couldn’t help but feel like the clingy girlfriend who needed to know where her boyfriend was every second of every day. He pushed the comparison from his thoughts.

He made a note to call one Castiel one more time at the next break he took.

When they stopped off at a diner in Idaho, Dean called for Castiel while Sam went to order their food. It irritated him when his call went unanswered again.

Dean ate half his burger and all his fries before they got back on the road. The fact that Castiel still hadn’t shown up agitated him enough to affect his appetite and driving.

An hour after they crossed into Montana, he heard his phone ringing. He tried to reach into the backseat to grab it, but his brother hit him to make him pay attention to road.

Sam reached back and grabbed Dean’s phone.

“Who is it?” Dean asked when he saw Sam stare at the phone screen while it continued to ring.

“It says it’s Cas.”

“What?” Castiel hadn’t used his cell phone in over two years. And Castiel should not have had that number. He snatched the phone from his brother’s hand and answered it. “Cas?”

“Dean, where are you?”

“Gabriel? I’m driving. Why?”

“You know what, never mind,” Gabriel said too quickly for Dean’s liking. “Meet us at Bobby’s.”

“Why?”

“Hold him together!” the archangel yelled into the phone.

“What?”

“Try to stop the bleeding,” he said, not hearing what Dean said into the phone.

“Who’s bleeding?” His answer was the sound of a phone dropping. He gripped the steering wheel tightly knowing exactly who Gabriel was talking about.

“Cas. Come on, bro. Keep talking to me, Cas.” Dean heard Gabriel mumbling in the background. “I don’t care how much it hurts. Balthazar, hold him. Michael, you have to start it now.” Gabriel picked the phone off the ground. “Dean, location.”

Dean didn’t remember spewing his location and ETA to Gabriel, but the next thing he knew, he was going ninety to Montana, not caring what traffic laws he was breaking.

He jumped out of the car before he even shut off the engine. He ran up the porch steps and barged into the house. “Bobby!” he yelled. “Cas!”

“What are you yelling about?”

“Is Cas here?”

“Why would he be?”

Dean scanned the house and saw that there was no sign of Castiel or the other angels. He ran his hand down his face. “Gabriel’s just fucking with me now,” he groaned.

He was pissed. He had sped all the way back to the cabin, the trip not doing anything good for the car. He wanted to punch someone. He was livid. And worse, he was worried. No matter the differences he had with the angels, they weren’t cruel enough to play a prank like that on him.

“You guys are supposed to be in Colorado,” Bobby said when Sam walked into the cabin.

“Call another hunter to deal with it,” Dean said.

Bobby stared at Dean, wondering what was so important in his cabin that they decided to go north instead of south. He kept himself from saying something when he saw how concerned Dean was. He knew it had something to do with Castiel. “Yeah, I can—”

“Help!” Gabriel yelled, appearing in the kitchen.

“What’s going on?” Bobby asked.

Gabriel walked over to the kitchen table and with a swipe of his hands, cleared it of all the books and papers on it. “Michael. Balthazar.”

The other two angels appeared, with Michael carrying a sliced up Castiel in his arms. “Cas?” Dean whispered.

“Set him on the table,” Gabriel said.

“Cas?” Dean repeated, frozen where he stood. He watched Castiel’s head loll off of Michael’s arm. Castiel looked dead. Michael and Balthazar gently set Castiel on the table and Castiel’s head rolled to face him.

“Bobby, we need Holy Water,” Michael said.

“Yeah, got it.” He ran to the sink and filled the biggest pot in the cabin with water.

“Sam, towels and blankets.”

“On it.”

“Dean. I need something to close these wounds,” Michael replied. He looked over at Dean and saw him just staring at Castiel. “Dean!” he yelled, and that was enough to get Dean moving toward the guest room.

“No,” Castiel coughed, blood spilling from his lips. “Don’t… don’t leave,” he whispered.

“Cassy, stop talking,” Balthazar said.

Dean stopped. Instead of walking to the guest room to get what they needed to sew Castiel up, Dean walked toward the kitchen table. He stood at the table and held Castiel’s hand in both of his. “Okay,” he said. “I won’t.”

“Dean, tell me where to get something for the wounds,” Michael pressed.

“Get the dental floss in the bathroom,” he said. “There’s a sewing kit in the guest room closet. The first aid kit should be in there too.” He kept his eyes on Castiel as a wings fluttered to signal the angels’ disappearance and reappearance. He didn’t even look up when Sam entered the kitchen with what seemed like every towel in the house or when Bobby finished the incantation to turn the pot of regular water Holy. “Cas?” he whispered, unsure if Castiel was able to hear him. Castiel looked up to answer him. “You’re gonna be fine, okay? You’re gonna be fine.”

“Sorry.”

“Cas, stop,” Dean said. He didn’t want Castiel to speak anymore, because every time he opened his mouth, blood spilled from it.

“I’m sorry.”

Dean could not believe Castiel was apologizing again. He didn’t want to accept an apology that Castiel had no business offering. But he knew that Castiel wanted his forgiveness, and he’d keep apologizing until Dean accepted it. “You can apologize to me later.”

“Okay.” Castiel’s head made a little motion that was as close to a nod as he could give.

“That means you have to stay alive,” Dean whispered. “Promise?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.” He felt the other angels crowd around him. “Now stop talking and let your brothers fix you up.” He tried to let go and give the brothers more space to work, but he felt Castiel’s grip tighten slightly on his hand. For a moment, he wasn’t sure if it was from the pain, but when he looked into Castiel’s eyes, he knew. He was asking Dean to stay. “Yeah, yeah. I’m not going anywhere.”

Dean looked back when he felt something press against the back of his legs. He saw a chair Sam had pushed behind him and sat down.

“What can I do?” Sam asked after he set down the towels. He couldn’t stand around while everyone else was busy doing something.

“We’re going to need a lot of Holy Water.”

“Yeah. Okay.” He walked over to the sink and filled up another pot.

“Do… do you need me for anything?” Dean asked. He could feel all the eyes in the room on him.

“No,” Gabriel said. “You’re doing what you need to do.”

Dean nodded. He kept his eyes on Castiel’s face and watched every reaction to the pain he felt. It was better than the alternative of looking down at what the angels were trying to do to save his life. He looked down at Castiel’s body once and couldn’t do it again without feeling sick.

Not when the wounds looked similar, if not worse, to Jo’s. He remembered how that ended.

Castiel sucked in a breath when a wave of pain crashed into him. He closed his eyes and squeezed Dean’s hand until the pain stopped. He whimpered and a tear escaped from his eye.

“He’s in pain. Knock him out,” Dean said.

“We tried,” Michael said. “Vetis did something to him.”

“Damnit,” Dean replied. He knew if the angel’s healing powers were blocked, Castiel would be in a lot more pain before the night ended.

“He’s strong enough. He’ll be fine.”

Dean bit his lip to keep from chewing Michael out. He didn’t want to see Castiel in pain, but the brothers had tried. Keeping Castiel calm and alive was more important than fighting with the angels. “Yeah, you’ll be fine, Cas,” he said. Dean wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince Castiel or himself.

“We’re ready,” Michael said.

Dean finally stopped looking at Castiel’s face and looked up. He saw Michael standing on the opposite side of the table and holding a mixing bowl. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do now. He didn’t want to get in the way. “Do you—”

“You’re fine where you are,” Michael said. He pulled out a chair and set the bowl on it. He reached down and ran his hand through Castiel’s hair. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to Castiel’s temple. “We’re starting, youngest.”

Castiel turned to look at his brother. He blinked slowly, finding himself tired. “You should have left me,” he whispered.

You’re foolish if you think I would leave you.”

Castiel blinked once and a single tear fell from the corner of his eye. “I feel like I don’t know you anymore, Michael.”

I’m here now.” Michael stepped back and blinked away the tears that were forming. As much as he wanted to reconnect with his brother, he knew he had to save him first. “Castiel, this is going to hurt.”

Castiel shook his head. He didn’t want to feel any more pain. “No, Michael. Please. I can’t…” He began to cry freely.

You can, youngest. It has to be done.”

Michael, I can’t,” he whispered.

It’s all right, youngest,” Balthazar said, stepping next to Dean. “Dean is here.” He looked up and waited for Dean to look at him. “He won’t leave you.”

“Okay,” Gabriel said with a clap of his hands. “Those without angelic abilities should step out of the room for their safety.”

Bobby and Sam set down everything the angels needed and headed out of the kitchen. Sam bent down and grabbed the scattered books and papers off the floor, not wanting them to get damaged by whatever was about to happen. Sam looked back when he saw that Dean hadn’t moved from his position at Castiel’s side. “Dean.”

“I’m okay.”

“You can come back when it’s safe,” Michael said.

“Go,” Gabriel added.

Dean looked up and glared at the archangels. “I’ll be fine. Just do whatever you guys need to do.” They couldn’t make him promise to not leave Castiel and then force him to leave the kitchen in the span of a few minutes.

Michael sighed. He knew Dean would be stubborn about this, though he was glad that he was going to stay with Castiel. “You close your eyes when we say. And do not open your eyes until we tell you to.”

“Okay.”

“I’m serious, Dean,” Michael said.

Dean couldn’t help notice the way Michael said those words. It sounded so much like the way Castiel had said them to him once. “I know. I can tell. Just do it.” Dean felt the grip on his hand loosen and he looked down to see Castiel staring at him. “What?”

“Dean, go,” Castiel whispered. He wanted Dean to stay, but not if there was a risk he could be hurt.

“Nah,” Dean replied. He tightened his grip on Castiel’s hand. “I’m comfortable where I am.”

“Gabriel. Balthazar.” Michael was ready to begin.

Dean watched as Balthazar went to the end of the table where Castiel’s feet were while Gabriel went to the opposite end. And Dean didn’t say anything, but he was nervous and scared. He had no idea what was about to happen, but the intensity and tension that was in the kitchen told him it wasn’t anything good.

When Balthazar put his hands on Castiel’s ankles and Gabriel put his hands on Castiel’s shoulders, Dean’s suspicions were proven true.

“You’ll be fine, Cas,” Gabriel whispered. He tried to diffuse the tension in the room. It didn’t work. “Just a little Holy Water, and you’ll be right as rain.”

“Yeah,” Dean agreed. “Though I’d rather we get this over with.”

“All right,” Michael replied. He picked up the bowl with the Holy Water and whispered a few words over them that Dean knew he wouldn’t ever be able to understand.

Michael sent one look in Dean’s direction that Dean didn’t notice since the human’s eyes were glued to the youngest angel. Then he began to pour the water over the wounds that covered Castiel’s body.

As soon as the first drop hit the wound, Castiel’s entire body jerked. He bit his lip to keep himself from crying out. He held back from squeezing Dean’s hand.

When Dean saw what Castiel was doing, he reached up and ran his fingers through the angel’s hair. He leaned forward and brought his lips to Castiel’s ear. “Cas, don’t keep it in. It’s okay,” he whispered, knowing that he was doing it to keep himself from hurting Dean.

“No,” Castiel whimpered as the water washed over the wounds.

“It’s okay, Cas,” Dean repeated. “You won’t hurt me.”

Castiel bit down on his lip harder, drawing blood and painting his teeth pink. Michael poured more Holy Water onto him and he tried to roll out of his brothers’ hold. He wanted to get away from the water.

“Hold him down,” Michael yelled.

Dean’s eyes widened. It was the first time he’d ever seen Michael something other than cool and composed. When Michael poured out the last of what was in the bowl, Dean thought that it was over. He was almost relieved. It wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be.

Then the kitchen was filled with the sounds of something sizzling and the smells of burnt flesh and rotten eggs.

Dean looked down Castiel’s body and saw black tar oozing out of the cuts and onto the kitchen table. The wounds on Castiel had reopened. Dean didn’t think Castiel had enough blood to be bleeding as much as he did.

He saw Michael holding up another bowl and tip it.

When the water hit Castiel, he couldn’t keep himself from screaming. He screwed his eyes shut. He wanted to be anywhere but where he was at the moment. He lost himself and squeezed the bones of Dean’s hand together with strength he didn’t know he had left.

Dean bit his cheek to keep himself from groaning when he heard the bones in his hand crack. He tried to shield his ears, but he found he couldn’t without letting go of Castiel’s hand. He knew that his eardrums were about to shatter from the sounds of Castiel’s real voice. He felt a hand on the back of his head, and he felt the pain in his ears fade. The hand stayed there until the screaming stopped.

Dean grunted when he felt Castiel still crushing his hand. He quickly got over the pain when he realized that it was nothing compared to what Castiel was feeling. “It’s okay, Cas,” Dean whispered. He didn’t know if Castiel heard him or not, but he needed to make sure Castiel knew he wasn’t going anywhere. “Just let it out, Cas.”

Michael poured the rest of the water in the bowl.

Castiel gasped as he arched his back. Then his mouth and eyes flew opened.

“Dean, shut your eyes!” Michael yelled as he dropped the metal bowl.

Dean watched as Michael’s hands went to cover Castiel’s eyes and mouth. He saw a blue light coming from Castiel. Then Dean buried his face in the crook of his elbow. He felt his body warm and he knew that Castiel’s grace was trying to escape.

“Castiel, don’t you dare,” Michael yelled. “I know it hurts, but just let us finish and you’ll be fine.”

Dean felt Castiel fight to get his brothers to release him. Dean tightened his grip as much as he could on Castiel’s hand. “Cas,” Dean pleaded because he was scared. He didn’t want to hear and feel Castiel in pain anymore, but he didn’t want to see the angel give up.

“Gabriel, finish,” Michael replied.

Dean listened to the shuffling of feet and wasn’t prepared for the next bowl of water. It got his hair and back wet. More of it spilled onto his lap as it dripped off the edges of the table.

With the next bowl of water, Castiel stopped struggling. Dean didn’t want to think about what that meant. He wanted to look up and make sure Castiel was okay, but he remembered what Michael said. He couldn’t. Even though he was sure the angels wouldn’t let his eyes burn out, he didn’t want them to waste their powers on him when they had to focus on Castiel.

All he could was sit down with his head on the kitchen table as he listened to Gabriel chant something in Enochian over Castiel’s harsh pants through Michael’s hand.

Three more bowls of Holy Water were poured over Castiel before Dean was told he could open his eyes again. He lifted his head and blinked a couple of times to get his eyes to readjust.

He looked down at Castiel’s body and saw that only blood was flowing from the wounds. His eyes trailed up the body to Castiel’s face in time to see Michael lift his hands.

Castiel’s eyes and mouth were closed.

“Cas?” Dean whispered, unsure if he was going to get a response, because honestly, Castiel looked dead. “Cas, you still there?” He waited for what seemed like hours for a response. Then Castiel licked his lips, and that was all the confirmation he needed.

“I…”

“Don’t speak, dude,” he said. He didn’t want Castiel to waste energy Dean knew he didn’t have. “Just relax,” he said, trying to talk through a tightened throat. He swallowed before he spoke again. “Just needed to make sure you’re still with us.” His cheeks felt damp and not from the Holy Water, but he didn’t care. His emotions had just been through the ringer and he wasn’t ready to come down yet.

“Yes,” Castiel croaked out.

Dean looked up at Michael who was healing his burned hands. “Please tell me it’s all uphill from here,” he asked.

“That was the worst of it.” Michael opened and closed his hands, making sure Castiel’s grace didn’t do too much damage.

“Good,” Dean sighed.

“Bobby? Sam?” Michael called out.

Dean heard the two of them come down from the second story. They made their way to the other side of the table from Dean and stared at him. They didn’t mention his haggard appearance and for that Dean was thankful.

“What were you guys doing to him?” Bobby asked. His voice was gruff, angry, and protective of the injured angel. “It sounded like you idjits were killing him.”

“We were saving him,” Michael replied.

“So, he’s still alive?” He looked down at the angel. He looked horrible. Bobby honestly thought Castiel looked dead.

“Yes.”

“So, why do you need us?” Sam asked.

“We need guidance on how to stitch up a wound,” Michael replied.

Sam and Bobby looked at each other, then to the archangel. “We can do it,” Sam answered.

“We can’t ask you to do that.”

“You didn’t,” Bobby stated.

“We offered,” Sam added.

“Sam,” Gabriel said, stepping forward. The angels wanted to be the ones to help their brother.

“It’ll take more time if we have to talk you through it.”

“Sam, you sure?” Dean asked.

“He’s family, Dean,” Sam replied. He walked over to the kitchen counter and picked up the supplies Michael gathered.

Bobby looked at Castiel’s face and saw the angel staring at the ceiling. “Dean is he going into shock?”

Dean’s free hand went to the pulse point on Castiel’s neck. The pulse was strong, but he knew that it could change in an instant. He put the back of his hand to Castiel’s cheek and although it felt clammy, it wasn’t as bad as he expected it to be. He looked down at Castiel and saw his eyes following him. Dean took it as a good sign because it meant that he was alert. “No. He’s good.”

“You let us know,” Bobby replied.

“Yeah.”

“We need to get him out of those pants, though,” Bobby said. “Get him into something dry. And warm him up.”

Without prompting, the angels got to work. Balthazar and Gabriel grabbed some of the towels and carefully wiped Castiel dry. Michael disappeared and reappeared with an old pair of Dean’s sweats in hand. Once they dried the table, Michael snapped his fingers and changed the pants Castiel was wearing.

“Cas, you okay?” Sam asked as he placed a blanket over the lower half of Castiel’s body.

“Tired,” Castiel whispered.

“Understandable,” Sam said with a smile. “Just let us sew you up, then you can sleep as long as you want, okay?”

“Thank you.”

When the angels stepped back, the humans stepped forward and began sewing up the wounds.

Dean’s hand never left Castiel’s. Dean knew the moments Castiel was in pain whenever the grip on his hand increased just slightly. Dean could tell he was exhausted when he saw that Castiel didn’t even have the energy to whimper or sigh whenever he felt pain.

He reached up and rubbed Castiel’s forehead with his thumb when he saw his eyes shut. He didn’t know what else he could do to comfort him. Before he realized what he was doing, he started telling the story of the first time he ever got stitches.

“I was six,” he began. “We were at school and a girl had some balloons tied to her backpack because it was her birthday. Her dad got her a turtle balloon because turtles were her favorite animal.”

Castiel turned his head and opened his eyes to look at him, and Dean stopped his story for a moment. When Castiel squeezed his hand, he knew it was all right for him to continue. “So, school was over and we were waiting outside for our parents. But you know, since we were boys, we’d play tag and all that. Then I saw her crying. And I walked over to her and asked her what was wrong because it was her birthday, and you’re not supposed to cry on your birthday.

“She pointed up and I had no idea what she was looking at. Then one of her stupid balloons hit me in the face. And I hit it away, but then I saw that the turtle was missing. So I looked up at the tree again and I could see the bottom of the balloon.

“I started to climb. Thinking about it now, the tree probably wasn’t that big, but when I was six, it was huge. So I got to it, wrapped the string around my hand, and climbed back down.

“I was on the lowest branch and it was safe enough that I could have just jumped down and been okay. But I slipped, and my arm got caught on one of the branches. And then I fell. And I had no idea what happened. But I gave the girl back her balloon and she hugged me. When she pulled away, I saw that I got blood all over her dress. She didn’t care. Neither did I. But dad saw me fall out of the tree.”

“And he was pissed,” Sam replied. He didn’t remember what happened being only two years old. He only heard the story a couple of times. But he could imagine how angry his dad was after spending two years trying to protect his sons from monsters and what gets Dean sent to the hospital is a tree.

“Twenty-two stitches from my elbow to my wrist,” Dean answered with a smile on his face. He pointed to where the scar would have been if Castiel hadn’t healed his body. “Right here.”

“Sorry,” Castiel whispered. He hadn’t even thought about the meaning of the scars when he healed Dean’s body after rescuing him from Hell.

“It’s okay, Cas,” Dean replied. He shook his head then continued on with his story. “So, all the boys in class were jealous because the stitches looked cool and all the girls wanted to touch it. But they freaked out when they did. I was the talk of the class.

“But the best part was on Valentine’s Day, everyone usually gave each other these cards with like a candy bar or something. The girl gave me this huge box of chocolate and they were in the shape of turtles. It was awesome.”

Dean looked down and saw a small smile on Castiel’s face. He smiled back when he saw how relaxed Castiel was. The next story he told him was about the first fight he ever got into. He was sure that Castiel knew the story, along with every story he could possibly tell, but it didn’t stop him.

Three hours and a dozen stories later, Sam and Bobby finished stitching Castiel up. It was perfect timing because Castiel was having trouble staying awake for the last half hour of it. Bobby, Sam, and the angels left Castiel and Dean alone in the kitchen.

Castiel’s eyes were closed, but Dean wasn’t sure if he was sleeping or not. When he tried to pull his hand out of Castiel’s he felt a squeeze and stopped moving. “Cas, who did this to you?” he whispered. He knew it wouldn’t have mattered if the angels wanted to hear their conversation, but he wanted this to be private.

Castiel licked his lips and swallowed. “Demon,” he rasped out.

“Cas, you’re stronger than a demon.” Over the last few weeks, Dean had seen the damage Castiel could do. The only demon he’d ever seen give him trouble was Alastair. “Was there someone else? Something else?” Castiel bit his lip and Dean took the action to mean yes. He saw Castiel struggle to open his eyes. “Hey, keep your eyes closed. You don’t need to see me to answer.”

“Fallen,” he whispered.

“Cas?” Dean asked, not really sure what Castiel was trying to say. Did he fall? Did a fallen attack him? There were too many ways he could interpret the word.

“…Nael,” he whispered. His lips kept moving, but no words came out. He couldn’t stay awake any longer.

“Cas?” Dean’s breath caught in his throat when Castiel’s body relaxed. He had to look at Castiel’s chest to make sure he was still breathing. The slight rise and fall was enough for Dean to feel like it was okay to breathe himself. “Yeah,” Dean whispered. He ran his free hand through Castiel’s sweat drenched hair like he used to do for Sam when he went into a fitful sleep. “It’s okay, bud. Just close your eyes and sleep.”

“Dean?” Sam asked, reentering the kitchen.

“Yeah,” Dean whispered. He put a hand to Castiel’s neck and felt for his pulse again. It was still strong. He leaned over and heard Castiel taking as even breaths as he could. Those were both good signs. “He’s sleeping.”

“Good,” Bobby said, appearing with a thicker blanket. He threw it over Castiel. “He needs it.”

He pulled his hand out of Castiel’s and hissed when he felt the bones shift in ways it wasn’t supposed to. He lifted it up and saw how badly it was damaged. “He broke my hand.” Michael appeared in front of him and grabbed his wrist. Dean felt a pulse of warmth and the pain was gone. His hand was as good as new. “Thanks.” He looked back at Castiel one last time before he walked into the living room.

“You,” Balthazar yelled. He locked his eyes on Dean and charged toward him. He grabbed Dean by the front of his shirt and pushed him up into the nearest wall, holding him up with his forearm. “This is all your fault,” he growled.

“What?” Dean yelled. Yes, he did feel guilty and like he was to blame for this, but he didn’t think the angels knew about what happened between him and Castiel the last time he saw the angel.

Balthazar pushed his arm more forcefully into Dean’s chest. He didn’t care if he broke any bones. “You were supposed to watch him.”

“Balthazar, let him go,” Gabriel said.

Balthazar released his hold on Dean. He watched as Dean crashed to his knees, rubbing his chest. He smirked when he knew there would be a bruise there in a couple of hours. “You—”

“When did that become my responsibility?” Dean yelled back. He stood up and stalked toward Balthazar, knowing it wasn’t the best thing to do. The angel was stronger than him, but he wasn’t going to just let Balthazar get away with ambushing him like that.

“We gave him to you.”

“No,” Dean yelled. “No, you dropped him off and spoke your little angelic speak keeping everyone, except you dicks, out of the loop. How was I supposed to know what was wrong with Cas?”

“We thought he would’ve told you,” Gabriel said.

Dean whipped his head around and glared at him. “Yeah, well, he didn’t,” he hissed.

“Obviously.”

“Don’t start with me,” Dean yelled at Gabriel. He was pissed at the angels for putting so much pressure on him to help their brother. It was hard enough to do it without them acting like it was the end of the world if he didn’t. “You guys are the ones who are supposed to be helping him, but you guys couldn’t even keep tabs on him. If you guys had kept a better eye on him—”

“This is not our fault,” Gabriel said.

“It’s not mine either.” Dean took in a deep breath, but not to calm him down. He had a lot more to say to the angels. “If God is back, tell Him to get His ass down here and fix all of this. Cas. The Leviathans—”

“This isn’t His mess to clean up,” Michael, Gabriel, and Balthazar said.

“So, Cas is just supposed to fix everything by himself?” Dean asked. Of course, he’d be there to help Castiel, but there was only so much he could do as a human.

“He’s not by himself,” Balthazar yelled.

“You sure about that, because all I see is an injured Cas who—”

“Enough!” Michael yelled. “None of this is helping.”

Dean was ready to go after the angels again, but he stopped himself. That was twice he’d seen Michael lose his cool in a day, he didn’t want the third time to be in his direction. “Okay,” Dean said, conceding. As easy as it was to stay angry, in the end, nothing would have been solved and everyone would have ended up exhausted.

“Truce,” Balthazar said.

There was no handshake between the two of them. Their word was enough. They could put their anger aside long enough to make sure Castiel was all right.

The air in the room was stagnant as if everyone was afraid to move. They were all trying to say something that wouldn’t get anyone pissed off. “Okay, so someone want to tell me what happened to him?” Bobby finally asked.

“Hellhounds,” Gabriel answered. “A pack of them.”

“What was he doing near hellhounds?” Sam asked. They didn’t seem important enough for Castiel to go after them.

Gabriel looked to his brothers, wondering if either of them was going to answer. They left the responsibility to him. “He killed Vetis.”

“Who?”

“A demon.”

“Is he just a regular demon?” Bobby asked. He wanted to know if he was a lower level, or something like Azazel or Alastair. He thought it was the later if he or she was able to do that kind of damage to an angel.

“No,” Balthazar replied. “He was one of the demons who tortured Cassy.”

At the mention of the words ‘demon’ and ‘tortured’, Dean was ready to yell at the angels again. He was pissed because it meant that the angels knew that demons were involved while he was left to figure it out. Instead of starting another scream-fest, he let out a sigh. It would have been pointless for him to get angry about it now.

Dean took the information as validation of what Castiel told him before he fell asleep. “Cas killed him?” Dean asked. He knew the answer. He also knew that if Castiel didn’t kill him, then one of the other angels would have. Something inside wanted the demon to be alive so he could show him what happened when he messed with someone he considered family.

“Yeah,” Balthazar said. “I don’t know why Vetis gave him trouble, though. Cassy should have destroyed him with a snap of his finger.”

“Could there have been something else helping him?” Sam asked.

Dean remembered what Castiel said before he passed out. He was ready to answer, but kept his mouth shut. He wanted to know what the angels knew.

Michael shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Something didn’t feel right about where we rescued him from. There could have been something, but we were so preoccupied with Castiel that we could have easily missed it.”

“We should go back and check,” Gabriel said.

“You guys should wait until Cas is better before you guys leave,” Bobby said before the angels could fly off. The three hunters could have easily taken care of Castiel, but Bobby needed to remind the angels that they were back on Earth to make sure their brother was all right.

Michael nodded. “Of course.” He wasn’t planning on leaving the house until Castiel was settled. He knew his brothers felt the same way.

Since everyone had calmed down, they all made their way back into the kitchen. If Castiel had heard the little spat between Dean and Balthazar, he didn’t show it. He was in the same position Dean left him in.

“Should we move him?” Dean asked.

“I don’t know if it’s safe to move him yet,” Gabriel answered. “And we don’t really know if his body can handle angel transport.”

“He’s not regaining consciousness any time soon,” Bobby answered. Not after all the blood loss and his ability to stay awake and alert through what everyone had to do to save his life.

“He doesn’t look good,” Dean said, looking down at Castiel.

“Dean,” Sam scoffed. He could not believe what his brother was saying stuff about Castiel’s appearance. He thought his brother had more tact than that.

“I mean, he looks pale. Too pale.” Now that all the blood and other fluids were cleaned off of him, he took the time to look at every injury that littered Castiel’s body. It looked unnatural for Castiel’s body to be so bruised and bloodied.

What was worse was he saw the scars of a certain sigil he carved into him years ago. He wondered if Castiel wasn’t able to or would never be able to heal those scars.

Sam’s eyes followed Dean’s and it took him a second before he realized what his brother’s eyes were glued to. “Dean,” he repeated, this time softer and more comforting. He wanted to find a way to tell his brother that this was not his fault. He could feel the blame seeping through his pores.

“He lost a lot of blood,” Gabriel said, not realizing what was happening between the two brothers.

Dean looked up to Bobby who immediately knew what he was thinking. “I’ll get the kit,” Bobby said and walked out of the kitchen.

“What are you going to do?” Michael asked. He watched as Dean sat down in the chair he was planted in for the last few hours and rolled up the sleeve of his shirt.

“He needs blood,” Sam answered.

“He doesn’t—”

“He may not, but his vessel does,” Sam said.

“And Dean’s a match?”

“O neg,” Dean answered. “Universal donor.” He wondered if this moment was luck or coincidence.

“Of course you are,” Gabriel replied.

“Sam, go buy me cookies,” Dean replied, ignoring Gabriel’s quip.

“Yeah. Sure thing.”

Bobby came back to the kitchen and Sam stepped out to buy Dean some cookies. The angels watched as Dean tied the tourniquet around his own arm and Bobby cleaned the inside of his elbow.

It didn’t take long after the needle was inserted before the bag started to fill with blood. When Dean had given enough, Bobby took the needle out and started working to get the blood into Castiel.

Dean bandaged himself up and walked to the living room. He lay out on the couch and hoped Sam would return soon with some cookies. He sighed and closed his eyes. He was tired, but he knew he wasn’t about to fall asleep. He opened his eyes when he felt someone in his bubble. It was Balthazar. He groaned, not wanting to get into another argument with him.

“Watch him this time,” the angel said.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Dean replied. But he knew that as many times as he said it something inside knew some, if not most, of it was his fault.

“He was under your watch.”

“Well, what makes you think he isn’t just going to fly out of here just like he did last time?”

“Because he can’t,” Gabriel replied.

“Care to share?”

Gabriel looked to Michael who had stood next to him. “The hounds reinjured his wings.”

“What?” Dean asked. He didn’t think it was possible. But more importantly, he knew that the angels were keeping something from him.

The angels could tell that they were caught, but they weren’t going to tell Dean the truth. Not yet. “If you don’t want to be the one to help him, just tell us and we’ll take him to the healers in Heaven,” Balthazar replied.

“No,” Dean said, adamant. “You think you dicks can take better care of him?”

“They’re our brothers.”

“Your brothers are the ones who did this to him.”

“Now they have their orders and they won’t hurt him,” Michael replied. Joshua had most likely told them what their orders were from their Father. They would be on Castiel’s side.

Dean recoiled. He knew that he and the angels weren’t on the same page. The angels in front of him were talking about the angels in Heaven that turned their backs on Castiel while he was talking about whatever fallen angel Castiel mentioned to him before he fell asleep. He kept what he knew secret. “Whatever, I still don’t trust them.”

“So, you’ll keep an eye on him,” Michael stated.

“Yeah. I’ll watch him. But you guys have to help us find a way to get rid of these Leviathans.” He could not focus his energy on those bastards if he wanted to give his full attention to Castiel.

“Of course,” Michael replied.

The angels looked like they were about to fly away, but Michael motioned over to Balthazar and they remained grounded. Balthazar rolled his eyes, irritated. “By the way, hold onto this.” He pulled something out of his coat pocket and tossed it to Dean.

Dean caught it, knowing that it wouldn’t have been a good thing if whatever he caught broke. When he opened his hand, he almost dropped the vial. “Holy shit. Is this his grace?”

“Quite observant of you, Dean,” Balthazar snapped.

“When did you take this from him?” He was there the entire time in the kitchen. He would have noticed the angels removing Castiel’s grace from his body. He remembered seeing it try to leave his vessel.

“Before we came here,” Balthazar answered.

“It took a lot longer to do it than we expected,” Gabriel added. “It’s why we were delayed.”

“Why would you take it? It could help him heal.” He needed to make sense of why the angels removed Castiel’s grace when all this time it could have been helping him.

“It won’t do anything for him. If it could, it would have already.”

“But why take it?”

“It was already working against him,” Michael answered.

“And we didn’t take all of it. Without it, there is no way that his vessel would survive,” Balthazar added. “There was no sense in letting it get infected by the hellhound bite. We took just enough that he can’t fly off and get into something like this again.”

“So, he still has some of his grace in him?” Dean wasn’t sure Castiel would be able to handle regaining consciousness as a human.

“Yes,” Michael answered. “But he can’t access it.”

“Well, he can,” Gabriel corrected.

“What’s the ‘but’?”

“Extreme circumstances.”

“Okay,” Dean said slowly, wondering what they felt would be considered ‘extreme circumstances’. He could hear the angel’s wings flapping anxiously behind them. “And where the hell are you guys going?” he asked. It wasn’t like them to just abandon Castiel while he was still healing. He hadn’t even regained consciousness yet.

“To find a way for you guys to fight the Leviathans.”

It was probably for the best. They didn’t exactly have time to waste. “And if Cas needs you?”

“We’ll know,” Michael said. Then the number of people in the house was cut in half.

Dean got up from the couch, finding it a little difficult to find his legs after giving blood. He hoped Sam would return with cookies soon.

He looked at the grace in his hand. He had to keep it safe, and away from Castiel. He had to put it somewhere Castiel wouldn’t find it and re-angelify himself before he was ready. Or before they had a chance to talk.

Dean could only thing of one place to put it. He headed toward the front door.

“Where are you going?” Bobby asked.

He put Castiel’s grace in his pocket. He knew exactly where he was going to stash it, but the location was off getting him cookies. Dean sighed. “Nowhere,” he replied. He walked back to the couch and sat down.

Ten minutes later, Sam walked in and threw a bag of chocolate chip cookies at him. Dean opened the bag and ate one of the cookies as fast as he could. He stared at Sam who rolled his eyes as he handed a jug of milk to him. Dean took two gulps before he set it down on the living room table. He grabbed his bag of cookies and went outside.

Dean went straight to the car they decided to use that week and popped the trunk. He dug through his weapons until he found what he was looking for in the back corner. He pulled it out of the car. He shook out the trench coat.

In the first few months after Castiel’s ‘death’ he kept the coat in the trunk, hoping to forget about it. Then after Bobby’s near-death experience, when it became too much, he pulled Castiel’s trench coat out of the trunk and got into the driver’s seat of the car. If he was going to deal with the people he cared about dying, he was going to deal with it all at once.

He didn’t know how long he stared at the coat, but it was long enough for him to memorize every blood and Leviathan ink stain on it. It was long enough for him to turn out all the pockets, hoping to find something Castiel felt about strongly enough to keep.

The pockets were empty.

And that was when the tears fell. He cried into the coat for Castiel and for Bobby and for everything falling apart around him.

He cried long enough that when he was done, his body hurt. He wiped the tears from his face, rolled up the coat, and stuffed it so far back into the truck that there was no way for him to accidentally see it.

Then, slowly everything came back together.

He knew it was ridiculous to think, but he wondered if there was something special about the coat. And because of that, he knew that it would be the safest place to keep Castiel’s grace.

He slammed the trunk closed and laid the trench coat on it. He ran his hand down it. As soon as Castiel got his grace back, Dean knew that the stains would be gone.

He pulled the grace out of his pocket and looked at it. It was blue, like Anna’s was, but brighter. Like the color of Castiel’s eyes, not that he looked that deeply into them. But it was unavoidable with all of the staring contests that Castiel had with him.

He pulled himself out of those thoughts and stuck the vial in one of the pockets. He refolded it, careful of the new item in it. He patted it down once before he opened the trunk again. He stuck it somewhere in the trunk where he didn’t have to worry about the weapons hitting it because of the way he drove.

He sent one more glance to the coat before he gently shut the trunk. He went back inside the house, cookies in hand, and prepared himself to watch a lot of TV until Castiel regained consciousness.

----- - --------

Five hours, and three-fourths of a bag of cookies later, Dean was bored. There was only so much Dr. Sexy a person could watch before he or she realized that there was no way their hospital should have been functioning as well as it did with all of the constant drama.

Dean stood up and went to the kitchen to make himself a sandwich. He couldn’t ignore the unconscious man who lay on kitchen table, in the same position he was when he had passed out. He walked over to Castiel to check his pulse and if he was feverish. When he saw that nothing had changed since the last time he checked three hours ago, he went to the fridge.

He grabbed all the ingredients he needed to make a sandwich and a beer. Once he put the sandwich together, he pulled out a knife and used it to pop the cap off of his beer. When he got ready to cut the sandwich in half a chill went down his spine.

As soon as Dean realized there was an extra person in the room and who the person was, he put himself between the newcomer and Castiel. It was a far cry from what happened the last time the three of them were in a room together. He had no idea what he could do to stop Death from taking anyone, but he’d try. “Michael! Gabriel!” he yelled. They appeared a second later, ready for whatever threat was in the room with them.

“Michael.” Death nodded at the oldest archangel. “Gabriel and Balthazar. Nice to see you in the land of the living.”

“Pale horse.” Michael greeted him with a nod. “Why are you here?” He wasn’t suspicious, only curious.

“Just wanted to see why you were all here.”

“Father wants us to help Castiel,” Balthazar answered.

“Are you here for business?” Gabriel asked. If Death was there to take someone, Gabriel wondered who it would be.

“No, not at all. This is a pleasure visit.”

“Pleasure?”

He snapped his fingers and a brown bag appeared in his hand. “I was hungry.” He reached in and took out a sandwich that was half eaten. He took a bite. He waited to swallow it down before he spoke. “I figured since I was in this state, I could come see my favorite angel.”

“Oh, Pale Horse, I’m flattered,” Gabriel joked, but everyone knew exactly who Death was talking about.

Death got rid of the paper bag in his hand. He walked over to the kitchen table and brushed his fingers through Castiel’s hair. “I wonder if I’ll ever have this angel,” he replied.

“Why?” Dean asked. He was nervous watching Death touch Castiel. He held himself back from wanting to cut Death’s hand off with the knife in his hand. He reluctantly set it down.

“He’s slipped through my fingertips so many times. I want to know how. And why.” He pulled his hand out of Castiel’s hair. He turned to look at the three conscious angels instead of the one unconscious one. “So, it’s just the three of you.”

“Yes. Why?”

“I thought…” his voice trailed off. He took a bite out of his sandwich. If they didn’t know, he wasn’t going to be the one to tell them.

“Thought what?” Gabriel asked.

“No, nothing important. You will find out soon enough.”

“I don’t like the way that sounds,” Gabriel replied.

“Take it as you wish. How is the young angel, anyway?”

“He’ll survive,” Dean answered.

“I have no doubt about that.”

“So, you aren’t here to take him.”

“Of course not. Like I said, this isn’t a business venture. Why take him when I’d only be able to cradle him for only a few moments before your Father brings him back? Why waste my energy?”

“Your energy is boundless,” Michael replied.

“True,” Death replied. “But it’s the principle of it.” Death took a seat at the kitchen table, not caring that an unconscious body was on it. “So, tell me. Do you know how to defeat the beasts running amok on this planet?”

“We haven’t found anything,” Gabriel replied. “You care to help us?” He knew Death was one of the few creatures who would have been able to help them find a way to defeat the Leviathans.

“Not really.” He took another bite of the burger. He snapped his fingers and a bag of chips and a soda appeared. He took a sip to help the burger down.

“Pale horse,” Michael replied. He was not above begging for a solution. Or at least a clue to where to start searching.

Death shook his head. He needed them to figure it out themselves. “I warned your Father about these beasts. I suggested He put them down, but you know your Father. He loves everything He creates. Even if it destroys. The worst hoarder in all of existence, if you ask me. He would rather His creations destroy each other.”

“If you knew how to defeat them, would you help us?” Dean asked.

“I’m supposed to be impartial, Dean. You know that.”

“Impartial. Right,” Dean scoffed.

Death stood up and glared at Dean. “Dean, you know that I like you, but don’t push it.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

Death looked down at Castiel again. He gently grabbed the angel’s chin to turn his head to face him. “He’s troubled.”

“Obviously.”

“It will be interesting to see how he recovers.”

“Does that mean you’ll be stopping by often?” Michael asked. He only wanted to know because if Death showed up again, they wouldn’t be surprised and worried about who was going to be taken.

“Who knows? I do quite enjoy this,” he said as he held up his sandwich and took another bite of it. He reached into the bag and grabbed a potato chip. “It surprised me. I want to see what else it has to offer.”

Dean could not help but think Death wasn’t talking about the sandwich. “That is a lot of pressure to put on a sandwich.”

“It can handle it,” Death replied. He wiped his hand on Dean’s shirt. He reached over the table and placed his hand on Castiel’s forehead. He frowned when he could sense how the angel’s thoughts raced. When he lifted his hand, Castiel vanished from the table.

“Cas?” Dean yelled. “Where is he?”

“Oh, Dean. Imagine what would have happened if you showed this concern for him just a few months sooner?” Death replied. “Instead of asking me to kill him.”

Dean wanted to say something back, but he couldn’t find anything smart to say. Not when Death was right. If had only reached out sooner, than maybe he could have prevented all of this from happening. Anger seemed like the best response for Dean. “You know what—”

Michael grabbed Dean’s arm to stop him from attacking the horseman. “Dean, calm down, he’s in the guest bedroom.”

“I needed more space to eat,” Death replied.

Dean yanked his arm out of Michael’s grip. He took a few steps back to separate himself from everyone gathered around the table. “So, you can’t do anything to help us?” he asked Death.

“Not right now,” he replied.

“Then when?” He didn’t wait for Death’s answer because he knew he wouldn’t get one. “Never mind. Doesn’t matter. You’ll just do whatever you want while we’re here cleaning up all this shit.”

Dean stormed out of the kitchen leaving everyone confused. He wanted to go upstairs to his room, but instead, he went to the guest bedroom. He opened the door slowly and saw Castiel sleeping on top of the covers.

When he stepped into the room, he looked around and saw an extra blanket laid out on one of the chairs that had made its way out of the kitchen. He grabbed it and shook it out to unfold it. Then he laid it over Castiel.

He stared at him for a minute before he turned around and left the room. He then headed upstairs, but not without hearing the murmurs of everyone still in the kitchen. He really hoped that Death wasn’t going to be there when he came back downstairs. Whenever that was.

[Chapter 2]   [Masterpost]   [Chapter 4]

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
laura_trekkie
Feb. 25th, 2012 09:58 am (UTC)
Oh Cas, what were you doing tangling with demons, hell hounds and a fallen angel on your own? I'm glad he's back with Dean and co, all bandaged and stitched and starting to heal. And his brothers sneakily took just enough of his grace to keep him from flitting off and getting into more trouble.

But what is Death up to? He clearly knows a lot of things that even the angels don't, but wil he deign to give them any clues?

Laura.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )