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A Moment of Weakness (Chapter 5)



Dean woke up to find himself in Castiel’s room by himself. He looked around and found a pillow under his head and a blanket on him. He thought that was considerate of Castiel. Then he saw that the door was unlocked which meant that Castiel had actually stepped out of his room. He would’ve been glad, but his body protested sleeping on the floor all night and he was agitated Castiel didn’t wake him up before he left so he could take his turn on the bed.

When he finally got off the floor, he opened the door and stepped into the living room to find Bobby, Sam, and Michael in the kitchen. “Where’s Cas?” he asked after searching the living room and not seeing him.

“I thought he was in his room,” Michael replied. He looked surprised to see Dean exiting it.

“You lost Cas?” Sam asked. He was torn between being concerned and laughing.

“I didn’t lose him,” Dean growled. “Mike, can you sense him?”

“He’s still in the house. Upstairs?”

Dean knew exactly where he’d find Castiel. He ran up the stairs and pounded on his bedroom door when he found it locked. “Cas, open the door.”

“No,” Castiel yelled from inside the room.

“I thought we were passed locking people out of rooms, Cas.” They were making progress last night. Dean wanted to know why they had taken such a huge step back.

“Go away.”

And Dean had enough. He stepped back, took in a deep breath, and, as he exhaled, kicked the door in. He could have easily done it to Castiel’s room, but that was a breach of privacy. It was different when it was his room.

He stalked in the room, shutting the door behind him. It didn’t close all the way, but that wasn’t the priority. He’d fix it later, if anything. He stood in front of the door with his arms crossed over his chest. “Damnit, Cas, just talk to me.”

Castiel jumped off the bed and moved to stand in front of Dean. “You can’t keep me here,” he growled.

“You’re the one who keeps locking yourself in rooms,” he argued. “You can leave any time you want.

“Where would I go?”

“Wherever you can go without your powers. Though I’d rather not imagine what would happen if your brothers found out you left while you were still healing.”

“I’m fine,” Castiel growled, taking a step closer to Dean.

“Physically, barely. Mentally, we’re not going to talk about that.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

“You’re acting like a child.”

“Resorting to the name-calling already?” He turned around to walk back to the bed. Being that close to Dean made him want to physically react, but he didn’t know what to do. He knew it wouldn’t have done much to punch Dean, and he knew he could never raise a hand against him.

Dean reached out and grabbed Castiel by his wrist. He spun Castiel around. He didn’t want to talk to the back of Castiel’s head. “I’m just calling them like I see them, Cas.” He squeezed Castiel’s wrist. “Why won’t you just accept that you need help and let me help you?”

Castiel wrenched his arm out of Dean’s hold. “Because you shouldn’t have to.”

“Why not?”

“I’m an angel of the Lord. I shouldn’t need help from a human.” Castiel’s voice shook. What he was saying was supposed to be hurtful on purpose, but he was having trouble forcing the words out. “Why would I need your help?” He began to back-pedal, to put some distance between him and Dean.

Dean easily saw through Castiel’s façade, even if the words stung. “I know what you’re trying to do.” Dean walked forward, matching Castiel’s steps until Castiel was backed into a wall. “No matter what you say, you aren’t pushing me away. It won’t be that easy.”

“It was much easier last year.”

Dean tried not to take offense that Castiel was hitting below the belt. He deserved it. But as cheap of a shot as it was, it still struck a chord in him. “Fuck you, Cas.”

He tried to push Dean away, the invasion of personal space too much, but Dean wouldn’t let him. He wanted to scream when Dean grabbed his wrists and pinned them to the wall behind him. “If I left, you wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore, Dean. You don’t want me here. I don’t want to be here. Letting me leave is a simple enough solution,” Castiel said, trying to get out of Dean’s hold.

“I never said I didn’t want you here.”

“You said you didn’t want to help me.”

“I never said that either,” Dean replied. He struggled to keep Castiel pinned to the wall.

Castiel relaxed when he realized he was going to be pinned to the wall until Dean deemed it the right time to set him free. “Just remember everything I’ve done. I let Sam out of the panic room. I couldn’t heal Bobby’s legs. I left Sam’s soul in Hell.” He listed his most severe mistakes hoping that Dean would see how futile it would be to help him. “I worked with a demon. I broke Sam’s wall. I let the Leviathans loose on this planet.”

“I already know all of this, Cas!” Dean yelled. He forced himself to breathe slowly. It was difficult for him to hear this, but he knew he needed to. This was supposed to be cathartic for him as much as it was for Castiel.

“I don’t deserve your help!”

Dean faltered and almost let go. It wasn’t that Castiel didn’t want his help, it was that he thought he didn’t think he was worthy of it.

He stared into the angel’s eyes. He was brought back to the first time he’d ever seen the angel. That night in the barn when Castiel first stepped into his bubble and read him better than anyone he’d ever known.

You don’t think you deserve to be saved.

He wondered if how Castiel looked now was the same expression he had on his face all those years ago.

The difference was while Dean sometimes still questioned if the angels made a mistake pulling him out of Hell, Castiel deserved to be saved from whatever Hell he was in. Dean knew it was his job to convince Castiel that it was true.

“Damnit, Cas!” Dean yelled. “I turned my back on you once, I’m not doing it ever again. I don’t care what you fucking say to me, it’s not going to stop me from helping you. You fucking bastard.” Dean let out a shaky breath. He had to calm down or he was going to punch Castiel in the face. And since Castiel was mostly human now, it would actually hurt him and that would add more guilt to Dean’s conscious if he broke Castiel’s nose or bruised his jaw. “Just let me fucking help you and if you want to tell me to fuck off after then I will.”

If Castiel wanted to, he could have said the words that he knew would have severed the ties between him and Dean forever. He knew everything. His weaknesses, his insecurities. He could have easily used it all against the human, but he didn’t. He promised himself he’d never hurt Dean. Instead he broke down. “Why?” he whispered. “Why do you want to help me?”

Dean bowed his head, not caring that his hair was most likely in Castiel’s face. “Because I didn’t before.”

“When are you going to get it through your thick skull that I’m not worth it?” Castiel asked, his voice shaking.

Dean shook his head. “When are you going to get it through yours that you are?”

Then the room fell silent for what felt like hours.

“Dean,” Castiel said, more forceful and focused than before, but not as strong as it could be.

Dean looked up at Castiel and glared. “What?” he hissed, thinking that Castiel was ready to start fighting again.

“Can you let me go? Please?” he whispered. He turned his head to look at Dean’s hands on his wrists pinning him to the wall. He felt trapped and he was beginning to panic now that all his adrenaline from fighting was draining from his body.

Dean’s eyes followed Castiel’s and he quickly let go. He took a few steps back, putting a comfortable amount of space between them. “Shit. Cas, I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Without Dean’s hold on him, he sank to the floor.

“No, it’s not.” The last thing Dean wanted to do was trigger something and make Castiel think he was going to hurt him.

“Dean, it’s all right. I’ve been acting… impetuous. I’m so angry. And so tired. I don’t… I shouldn’t be.”

Dean walked over to his bed and sat at the foot of it. “Cas, it happens. You went through something traumatic.”

Castiel shook his head. “That doesn’t excuse my behavior.”

“Actually, it does.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Castiel argued. “I’m angry at the wrong people. You, Sam, Bobby, my brothers, you’re all trying to help me. I don’t understand why—”

“It’s hard to ask for help, Cas. I know this.” He stared at Castiel and saw how much he wanted to believe Dean, but just wasn’t ready to yet. He stood up and dusted himself off. “Get up.”

“What?” Castiel asked.

“Stand up.” Dean grabbed Castiel’s arm and helped him to his feet.

Castiel stumbled for a moment before he got his feet under him. “Where are we going?” he asked when he noticed Dean still hadn’t let go of him. He knew he was going to be led somewhere. He wasn’t led very far.

Dean held onto Castiel’s arm and pulled him to the bathroom door. He pushed it open with his free hand. “You’re going to take a bath.”

“Dean, I don’t need—”

“Yeah, well, we don’t need a lot of things. But a bath is one of the few things in the world that can make you feel better.” He let go of Castiel’s arm, hoping that he would stay with him. When Castiel didn’t move away, he smiled.

They both stepped into the bathroom.

Considering how rickety the house that they were holed up in was, the bathtub was one of the few nice things in it. That, and it was attached to the master bedroom that Dean had claimed when they first inhabited the house.

Castiel stared at the tub, wary of what Dean thought a bath would be able to do for him. “Dean, I—”

“Strip,” Dean said before Castiel could begin to talk his way out of it. It took Dean a second before he realized what he had just said. His heart dropped to his stomach. He quickly spun around and stared at Castiel who leaned against the sink. “Cas, sorry,” he apologized. He couldn’t believe he just told Castiel to take off his clothes after everything he’d been through. “I… I can leave while you.”

“It’s all right.” He started to unbutton his shirt.

Dean was shocked. Castiel was unreasonably calm about it. “Okay,” he said, slowly. He turned around and knelt down next to the tub. “Well, I’ll just… get the water running while you…”

Dean fiddled with the knobs on the tub, trying to find the perfect temperature. It took a couple of minutes before the tub was filled enough. Dean shut off the water and spun around. He saw a naked Castiel standing near the sink. He looked away and blushed.

“Dean?” Castiel asked.

“Okay, now get in and sit down.” Dean watched Castiel approach the water like a cat. Castiel looked nervous, but he stepped over the side of the tub and into the water. Dean grabbed Castiel’s arm and helped lower him down.

“Then what?”

“Relax.”

“And how is this supposed to help?” he asked with a head-tilt.

“Sh… no talking. Just sitting and relaxing. Ruminate.”

“Ruminate?”

“Shut up, Cas. Just…”

“Okay.”

Dean didn’t know what to do at that point. He wasn’t sure if it was best for him to leave Castiel alone, or stay with him. He walked over to the sink and leaned against it. He looked over and watched as Castiel drew circles in the water.

Castiel sank down in the tub until only his head and knees were above the water. “You don’t have to do this, you know.”

“I do.”

“To quell your guilt?”

“For starters.”

“Dean.” He looked over at Dean who was looking at him. “I’m—”

“You keep apologizing,” Dean interrupted, knowing he was going to do it one more time. Every time Castiel apologized, Dean felt more and more like an ass. Especially since Castiel would apologize about things that weren’t his fault. “And I haven’t done it once.”

“You don’t—”

“Stop,” Dean said with a wave of his hand. He sat down on the toilet seat and slapped his hand on his thigh. “Don’t make excuses for me.”

“I’m not.” But he knew he was.

“First, I’m going to apologize for being the biggest hypocrite in the world.”

“That is a big claim.”

It may have been, but Dean felt like it was the understatement of the century. “Cas, I’m sorry,” Dean said. And it felt like it was the first time he had ever said that to the angel. In the four years that he’d known him, he’d asked so much of the angel and he rarely thanked him or apologized when Castiel came out worse for the wear. This was the first apology of what would be a mountain of apologies. “I’m sorry that we fucking crucified you when we found out you were working with Crowley.”

“It’s understandable.” Castiel expected the reaction after what happened with Sam. That’s why he tried so hard to keep it a secret.

“No, it’s not. We’ve all done it. Multiple times. We even did it again when you were playing God. With Crowley.”

“Dean.”

“I should have helped you.”

“There was nothing that you could have done at that point.”

“Well, I didn’t even try. I went straight to summoning Death and having you killed.” Looking back, Dean could not believe he had done that. It was impulsive and petty. He didn’t want to think about what would have happened to him if Death had actually killed Castiel. “It’s just that I was so…”

“Hurt?”

“Yeah. Because it was you. The one person in my life who never lied to me. Who didn’t judge me. You were there when Sam wasn’t. And you were an angel. You were supposed to be better than working with a demon.” He thought that Castiel would have learned after the Ruby fiasco.

“It was the only way to keep you safe.”

“I know. That’s why I couldn’t stay mad at you. I understood. I wasn’t happy about it, but I got it.”

“I still need to redeem myself to you.”

“I know.” It wasn’t necessary because Dean forgave Castiel the second he returned the souls back to Purgatory, but he knew Castiel would need to do something so he could forgive himself. “So much for ruminating, huh,” he said with a short laugh.

“Am I taking a bath wrong?”

“No. Not at all. We needed this.”

“I agree.”

Then the two of them fell silent. As much as Dean hated silence, he found that he was not uncomfortable when it fell between him and Castiel. He was surprised that he found nothing about the situation he was in uncomfortable. He should have at least balked at sitting in the bathroom while Castiel sat in a bathtub.

After ten minutes of silence, Dean reached into the bathtub and grabbed Castiel’s hand. He pulled it above the water. “The water’s cold. And your fingers look like raisins,” he mumbled.

“Is that bad?” Castiel asked.

Dean let go of Castiel’s hand. He pulled the chain that was attached to the tub stopper. He turned the water on again, grabbed the removable showerhead, and handed it to Castiel. “No, it just means it’s time for you to rinse and get out. You need a towel. I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” Castiel said, staring at the water coming from the contraption in his hand. He brought it up and over his head and let the water spray. He sighed as the warm water trickled down his body.

Dean left the bathroom and grabbed a towel from the closet. He stepped back into the bathroom and saw Castiel standing in the tub and turning off the water. He wondered why he wasn’t bothered by the other man’s nakedness. It probably had to do with how many times he’d seen Castiel naked over the last few weeks. At least this time he wasn’t bleeding. “You should dry off,” he said, walking toward the tub. He threw the towel over Castiel’s shoulder. “I’ll find something for you to wear.”

Dean went back into the bedroom and grabbed a shirt, sweats, and a pair of boxers from the new pack he had bought. He set them on the bathroom sink and left. Then he sat down at the foot of the bed and waited.

A couple of minutes later, Castiel stepped out. “Thank you,” he said.

“No problem, Cas,” Dean replied.

Castiel took a seat next to Dean. “I can see you’re thinking about something,” he said.

Dean couldn’t ever hide his thoughts or emotions from Castiel. Not with how well the angel knew him. He thought about lying because he wasn’t sure if it was something Castiel wanted to talk about, but he couldn’t do it. “You still have the sigil scars on your chest.”

“I do,” Castiel replied as he slowly smoothed the front of his shirt.

“Can you not heal them?” He figured maybe it was one of those things that since it had to do with Enochian, it was permanent.

“I can. Not at the moment, but I could have many times before.”

“So, why didn’t you?” Dean asked.

“Dean, I know it’s difficult to look at them.” He couldn’t help but still feel exposed even though he was wearing a shirt. He felt like Dean could see through the fabric and stare right at the pale scars on his chest.

“Damn right it is,” Dean said, jumping to his feet. He stood right in front of Castiel. “Especially since I’m the one who carved it into you.”

“I told you I could have done it.”

Dean was brought back to the day at Van Nuys where. After much arguing, he made Castiel give him the boxer cutter and sit while he carved the sigil into his chest. But that wasn’t the point Dean was trying to make. He never liked looking at his ‘artwork’ as Alastair would call it. “Still haven’t answered my question, Cas,” he said, steering the conversation back to where they started.

Castiel looked to the floor at a point between Dean’s and his own feet. “It’s a reminder.”

“Of what?” Dean asked, even though he was pretty sure he knew the answer.

“Of how weak I can be,” Castiel replied. “It reminds me of the lowest I’ve been.” He let out a shaky breath as he remembered everything from that point in his existence. “I was falling. And I lost hope in everything. In my Father. In you.”

“Cas,” Dean whispered. He never expected Castiel to delve that deeply into his feelings. But that was what this moment was for. To get Castiel to talk. Dean just didn’t think it would be about that.

“I couldn’t watch you fail, Dean. Because if you did, I had nothing.”

“Cas, I’m sorry.” He didn’t realize how much faith Castiel had in him. It made it so much worse that he let Castiel down.

“You don’t have to apologize, even though I know you will.”

Dean sat back down on the bed. “I need to, Cas.” Because damn if he didn’t have a boatload of shit to apologize for. Today was just the start of the apologies to come.

“I know,” Castiel said. He smiled. “As much as we say we forgive each other, we’ll still be apologizing until our own guilt is resolved.”

“Do you think you’ll ever heal those scars?”

“When I’m strong enough.”

“Strong enough?” Dean raised his eyebrows, confused as to what the angel was talking about. “Cas, you’ll get your grace back when you’re healed.” Or whenever he felt like Castiel was ready to get his grace back.

Castiel shook his head. “I still have a lot to atone for.”

Dean wanted to shake Castiel. He never pegged the angel to be so overly critical of himself. Then again, it was the Winchester thing to do. “Not as much as you think.”

“I haven’t even asked how Sam is doing,” Castiel said, shaking his head. “How… is he?”

“Better,” Dean replied. “He’s still hallucinating about the cage. At first he was really touch and go. Still get a little angry when I think about it.”

“I should have healed him. I’m sorry, Dean. I know I should be apologizing to him too, and I will. I need to—”

“Cas, stop with the self-flagellation. It will only drive you insane at the end,” he replied. Dean knew. He made it into an art form. “Sam already forgave you a long time ago.”

“And you?”

“Yeah, me too. It’s hard to stay mad at you when Sammy isn’t.” Sam was better at the forgiving thing than he was, but Dean was getting better at it.

“I will make it up to him. Somehow.”

“I know you will, Cas.”

Dean waited for Castiel to say something more. When he didn’t, he figured their conversation was over and Castiel wanted to be left alone. He stood up and Castiel crawled on the bed to lie down. Dean was ready to take a step toward the door when Castiel spoke up.

“Dean?”

“Yeah, Cas?”

“Can you stay?”

“I… Yeah. I can stay.” Dean sat down on the floor. “If I fall asleep, when I wake up, you’ll still be in this room, right?”

Castiel smiled. “Yes.” He was done running away. These few hours talking to Dean were leavening.

“Good.”

“If you decide to sleep here, you don’t have to sleep on the floor, you know.”

“I wasn’t sure if you wanted people in your personal space.”

“What?”

“I wasn’t sure how you’d react to people touching you.”

“Why would that matter?”

“Cas, what the…” He didn’t want to say anything to trigger something in Castiel. He didn’t know if Castiel was one of those people who blocked out extremely traumatic events. “Never mind. I just thought—”

“You haven’t exactly been adhering to that rule yourself.”

“Hey, I tried. It counts.”

Castiel rolled onto his side to face where Dean sat. “It does. Goodnight, Dean,” Castiel said, even though the sun was still out.

“‘Night, Cas.” Dean watched Castiel’s eyes close and his breathing even out. He stayed seated for an hour, ready to chase away any nightmares.

When the hour was through, Dean walked downstairs to find Bobby and Jody cooking up something for dinner. He listened as they talked about the new information they gathered on possible ways to defeat the Leviathan.

The angels even showed up with some new information that Bobby said they couldn’t relay until after dinner was through. They each went upstairs to check on Castiel. Michael even mentioned how much more at ease Castiel seemed.

Dean shrugged and said that not much had changed. It wasn’t their business how he was helping Castiel. All that matter was that he was. He thought the angels would be happy and leave him alone.

At the end of the night, Dean found himself trudging up the stairs and to the master bedroom. In the few hours that he was downstairs, Castiel had rolled over onto his stomach, but still faced toward the door.

Dean was relieved to find no trace of a nightmare on Castiel’s face.

He closed the door behind him and stripped down to his boxers and shirt and crawled into bed. He didn’t know why he did it. The downstairs room was empty for him to use. But he needed to be close to Castiel. He was ready if something were to happen.

He could have easily slept on the floor with a pillow and blanket, but he knew the guilt Castiel would feel if he did that. Getting into bed with Castiel was the best option.

He tried not to think about how weird that sounded. He fell asleep, unsuccessful.

--------------

When Dean woke up, the first thing he did was check that Castiel was still in the room. The angel lay on his side, facing him.

He looked peaceful and unbothered by nightmares. It was probably the best sleep Castiel had in months. He got out of bed slowly, not wanting to wake Castiel up. He wasn’t as sneaky as he thought.

“Dean?”

“Hey, go back to sleep. Sorry I woke you.” Dean had to pause at how domestic that sounded.

“Where are you going?”

“I’ll just be downstairs. Unless you need me.”

“I think I’ll be okay.” He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling.

“Okay. Call if you need me?”

Castiel nodded his head. He waited for Dean to leave him alone. When he didn’t hear Dean move, he took it as a chance to speak. “I was looking for Leliel and Bernael.”

“What?” Dean asked. He was surprised that Castiel was talking about it now. He thought that it would have been a few days before Castiel was ready.

“They were fallen angels.”

Dean figured that out from the way their names ended. He also noted how Castiel spoke of them in the past tense. “Cas,” he whispered. He was glad that Castiel was finally talking, but if he wasn’t ready, he was willing to give him a chance to wait until he was ready. They had made a lot of progress in the last twenty-four hours, but if talking about it now was going to be too much, he’d wait.

“Please, Dean,” Castiel replied. “If I don’t talk about it now, I don’t think I ever will.”

Dean walked over to the bed and sat down. “Okay,” he said. He shifted around, getting comfortable. He knew it was going to be a long story. And he knew Castiel was going to need him at the end of it.

Castiel kept his eyes glued to the ceiling. He didn’t know where to start the story. He let out a deep breath when he found the place to begin. “The… Leviathan. After he took all the information he could from me, abandoned me as a vessel. He gave me to the angels to make sure I was close and available to use if they needed me later.

“I thought it was going to be just them. The angels. Bernael, Leliel, Belial. They kept me trapped in a ring of fire. I thought that would be it and the worst I’d have to deal with would be boredom.” Castiel paused. He inhaled deeply then let out a shaky breath. “Then they showed up.”

“Who?”

“The demons. They wanted to play. Said it was an opportunity to be able to torture an angel since the ones in Hell were untouchable. They said they were preparing for when angels were pulled into Hell. They wanted to use me to perfect techniques. Leliel and Bernael subdued me. Then it started. And it never stopped.

So much pain.” Castiel had to stop for a second, his throat going dry. He swallowed. “And demon blood and Unholy Water. It made me so weak. And then Abbadon was able to touch my grace. Then Jezebeth, and Vetis, and Nybbas. Then I was able to feel everything. The burns, the cuts, the lashes. I thought I was going to die. I prayed to my Father to help me. And to keep you safe.”

Dean hated how Castiel’s admission made him feel. Even when Castiel was in the worst pain an angel could feel, his concern wasn’t only for his own safety. “Cas.”

“I should have been stronger,” Castiel whispered. “I’m an angel of the Lord and I was subdued by demons. I should have fought them. I should have held out. You did.”

“Cas, stop.” Dean reached over and put a hand on Castiel’s arm. He could feel the angel trembling in his grip. “If you keep blaming yourself, you aren’t going to get better.”

“I don’t even know if I’m dealing with this correctly.”

“There isn’t a handbook on how to deal with trauma. And if there were, I obviously haven’t read it.”

Castiel finally looked at Dean. “But you’ve survived.” He was proud. And sad. “There have been times when I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to.” Castiel swallowed slowly. His eyes began to water. “I didn’t feel any satisfaction when I killed them.” He blinked and tears fell from the corners of his eyes.

“Did you feel anything?”

“Pity. Remorse. I thought about how bad their existence must have been for them to do something so vile.”

“Cas.”

“I’m so tired, Dean,” Castiel said. He was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. It was becoming difficult for him to stay awake even though he had just woken up. His eyes lids began to droop.

“It’s okay, Cas.” Dean could see that Castiel was trying to stay awake. He ran his fingers through Castiel’s hair once. He used to do it all the time when Sam was just about to fall asleep when they were younger. He wanted to be able to do that for Castiel, but he stopped before things became too intimate. “Just go back to sleep.”

“Thank you,” he said with a sigh. He adjusted his position on the bed when Dean got up. He was glad that he was finally able to tell someone what he had gone through. He needed it. He didn’t realize how much better he’d feel after it. He almost regretted not doing it sooner. “And Dean?” Castiel asked before Dean could leave him alone.

“Yeah, Cas.”

Castiel opened his eyes for a second and saw Dean already at the door. He was happy when Dean walked back over to him. He didn’t think he was going to be loud enough for Dean to hear. “I think I understand why humans find baths so pleasant.”

Dean laughed. That was the last thing Dean expected Castiel to say to him, but it was comforting. It made him feel like he was doing something right. “Maybe you can take one later today if you want. One with less talking.”

“I think I would enjoy that,” Castiel replied.

“Yeah, sure thing. I’ll let you get back to sleep.” He waited for a response from Castiel, but when he looked back at the bed, he was already fast asleep.

Dean stayed in the room for a few minutes to make sure Castiel’s sleep stayed peaceful. Ten minutes passed before he left Castiel alone.

 -------- ------

Dean walked downstairs and found Michael alone at the kitchen table with three books in front of him. He noticed how tired the archangel looked. He felt bad for him. He didn’t think it was possible for angels to ever feel exhaustion. “You look like you need a drink,” Dean said.

Michael looked up from the passage he was reading and raised his eyebrow. “My vessel doesn’t… sure,” he answered when he realized Dean was trying to be civil.

Dean grabbed two bottles of water out of the fridge. He opened them and handed one over to Michael. “Where are Balthazar and Gabe?” he asked, standing across from the archangel.

“They went back in time to speak with King David and then King Solomon.”

“Really?” Dean forgot how easy it was for archangels to go back in time. To have all that power and not have it hindered at all. He was glad they were on the same side for once.

Michael nodded. He took a sip of his water, not wanting Dean’s gratitude to seem wasted. “I heard Castiel was being quite testy yesterday.”

Dean smiled. Testy was the nicest way to put it. “I hope he wasn’t this bratty as a kid.”

“Quite the opposite, actually. He was… perfect.”

“Jealous?” Dean asked. He was trying to figure Michael’s tone and the reason for his hesitation.

“No, not at all,” Michael replied. “He…” His voice trailed off, not wanting to answer the question just yet. “Has he said anything?”

Dean sighed at the subject change. He should have known that he wasn’t going to get an answer. He figured since Castiel was allergic to straight answers, he had to learn it from someone. “He keeps mumbling a bunch of crap in Enochian and he keeps looking at me like I’m supposed to understand him.” Dean paused for a moment to figure out if telling Michael what Castiel had told him about his captivity would be the best. When he looked into Michael’s eyes and saw how sincere he was about helping Castiel, the answer was given to him.

“Dean?” Michael pressed when Dean had been quiet for a couple of minutes.

“He’s said a lot of things. Anything relevant to what you need to know, I don’t know.” Dean shrugged, sighed, and scratched the back of his neck. “He just spews randomly. Something about no light. How it was too quiet. How much he bled. And something about how Abbadon and Jezebel, or something, and some other names touched his grace. The pain he was in. How he prayed to your Father every night. He—”

“What did you say?” Michael politely interrupted.

“He prayed—”

“They… they touched his grace?” he whispered.

“Yeah, among the other things.” Dean didn’t know why Michael was so caught up on that detail. “Like they made him drink demon blood. And something about Unholy Water and sulfur.”

“Where is he?”

“He should be sleeping. I can—”

“I have to go somewhere. Don’t… don’t tell Balthazar or Gabriel what you just told me,” Michael said. He stood up and straightened the front of his clothes. He turned to leave the kitchen.

“Why not?” Dean asked, stopping the archangel in his tracks.

“Because I’m the oldest and I’m supposed to be watching my brothers, like you said. Let me do my job, Dean.”

Dean sighed, knowing the pressure of being an older sibling all too well. He took the few steps he needed to get to Michael’s side before he left. He grabbed him by the arm and pulled, forcing the angel to look at him. He almost jumped back when he saw the look in Michael’s eyes. He saw the vengeance brewing under the sadness. He wanted to know if he said something wrong. “Will… will Cas get hurt by this?”

“What?”

“I know that look. You’re thinking about doing something.” He squeezed Michael’s arm as if that was enough to stop an archangel. “If he gets hurt or put in danger by what you’re about to do, I won’t let you do it.”

“You think you can stop me?” He didn’t sound threatening, mostly intrigued.

“I can tell Gabriel and Balthazar.”

Michael freed himself from Dean’s grasp and took a step back. “They’ll understand what I did.”

“Then I’ll tell Castiel what I just told you. And I’ll tell him that you went off on some revenge kick.”

“No,” Michael said. He hissed at how he reacted. He knew that Dean found his weakness. He hoped Dean wouldn’t exploit it too often. “No,” he repeated, softer, calmer.

“No, what?” Dean asked, because he wanted to know exactly what question Michael was answering.

“No, he won’t get hurt. I would never put my brother in danger.”

Dean was surprised at the loyalty and protectiveness he was showing Castiel. He wasn’t sure if he could believe the angel who tried to use him as a meatsuit. He was still wary of the archangel, but when he looked into his eyes he could see how much he cared about his brother. “Okay.”

“Please don’t tell them where I’ve gone, Dean. I should be back in a few hours.”

“And that’s it?”

Michael sighed, impatient. He wanted to start his search for whoever hurt Castiel. “What more do you need, Dean?”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to find all those involved.”

Dean didn’t know why he asked. In Michael’s position, he would have done the same thing. Hell, he had many times over. “I don’t think they’re alive anymore.” There was no sense in Michael wasting his time over a nonexistent threat.

“How would you know that?”

“Cas talked about them in the past tense. I think he got them.”

“It can’t hurt to check,” Michael said.

“No, it can’t,” Dean replied. He knew what was going to Michael’s head. The archangel had to make sure there wasn’t anything that could hurt Castiel anymore, but there was also the hope for some revenge if they were still alive. He almost wanted to ask Michael if he could tag along, but he knew he needed to be in the house when Castiel woke up.

“I’ll return soon.”

“So, what do I tell Gabriel and Balthazar if they get back before you?”

“Whatever you want to tell them.”

“Michael.” He hated keeping secrets, and he would not be able to keep them from angels.

“I know I still don’t have your trust, Dean, but believe me when I say I’m on Castiel’s side. If I weren’t, my Father wouldn’t allow me to be here.”

It made enough sense. “I’ll give you a few hours.”

“I don’t plan on being gone for long.”

Michael disappeared before Dean could say anything else.

--------------

Michael showed up a little more than an hour and a half after Gabriel and Balthazar returned from their adventures in the past. They had asked Dean where Michael was and he just shrugged. During that time, Dean had kept himself busy and away from the angels. That way, they had no clue that he knew where Michael had gone.

“Where were you?” Balthazar asked the second Michael landed in the living room.

Dean watched the angels interact from a distance. He thought Michael was going to answer them, but the eldest angel looked to him. Dean sighed. “I didn’t tell them anything,” he answered with hands raised. He did not want to be brought into their argument they were bound to have.

“It doesn’t matter,” Michael replied, answering his brothers, but keeping his eyes on Dean.

Dean shivered. He hated it whenever Castiel did that. He hated it more when Michael did it.

“Don’t give us that, Michael,” Gabriel said.

“It was a simple question.” Balthazar was irritated. He knew that Michael was keeping something important from him, and he didn’t like it. They were supposed to be working together.

“There isn’t a simple answer,” Michael sighed. The new information that Dean had given him changed everything.

“I don’t like the way that sounds,” Balthazar said. It didn’t help when he saw the distress in his brother’s eyes. It was unnerving to see his brother so affected by something.

“You aren’t supposed to.”

Gabriel turned to Dean. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get answers out of Michael. The human seemed like the best and easier option. “Do you know why he’s acting this way?”

“No,” Dean replied.

I’ll find out eventually,” Gabriel said, turning to his older brother.

“No, you won’t,” Michael answered.

It was Balthazar’s turn to glare at Dean. “You want to tell us why Michael is acting this way?”

Dean shrugged for two reasons. He didn’t want to tell them what he knew. And he didn’t know what Michael found. “I don’t know.”

“Dean,” Gabriel warned.

Dean sighed, tired and frustrated with the angels. “Look, considering how many times I’ve been in the middle of fights between you angels in the past few years, I actually don’t like doing it. Deal with it yourselves.” He could only hope the house would still be standing at the end of them dealing with it. He needed some fresh air.

“Dean,” Gabriel yelled after the human.

“Leave him, Gabriel,” Michael said.

“I’ll find out by the end of the day.”

“I doubt it,” Balthazar said, knowing that he was surrounded by the most stubborn creatures in all of creation.

[Chapter 4]   [Masterpost]   [Chapter 6 Pt. 1]

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
laura_trekkie
Feb. 26th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
I'm glad Dean and Cas have finally had that talk. It's cleared the air between them with those apologies and allowed Cas to finally talk to someone about some of what he went through instead of bottling it all up.

What did Michael find on his little jaunt? Had Cas left him anyone to take revenge on?

Laura.
dauntperplexity
Feb. 28th, 2012 04:29 am (UTC)
The talk was a long time coming. I think Dean knew that Castiel wouldn't do well keeping it all inside.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )