Chapter 1: Chapter One
Dean stormed out of the heavily warded school gates and straight onto the streets of Lebanon, Kansas, where he turned away from the town to break into a jog away from the other ‘Gifted’ people. The bullies had gone too far this time, getting him banned from the library for graffiti he didn’t do. It wasn’t fair. Dean spent a lot of his time in the library while the others had their practical lessons, learning about strategy and endurance, as well as history and warfare. Dean even knew things that were forbidden knowledge to students, such as several new torture methods, or about the thirteenth designation. Dean couldn’t take part in the practicals, because even though he was a designated Gifted, he was still unable to manifest his wings.
All Gifted children at the age of thirteen were taken to the school, where they would remain for the four years it took to learn the skills needed for protecting the world from Groundlings, the bottom feeders who lived off the souls of humans and dwelled beneath the ground, away from the Gifted. Most would develop wings within their first year or early in the second, but Dean was in the forth and had no signs of his wings being ready. Every time the others has a lesson on flight, he would go and learn more about everything and had already got 100% on all of the written exams he was supposed to take just before graduation, but instead took in his second year. With all the time he had to himself, he would read during the day and run and train during the night.
Even though he was at his physical peek and his intellectual prowess and strategic planning were at their all-time high, the bullies would still taunt him in the halls as the wingless wonder and many were starting to doubt his selection as a Gifted. That being said, unlike Dean and a few of his friends, they probably had no idea why they were chosen or that it wasn’t genetic. Still, getting him banned from the library for three weeks was a new low and he had no idea how he would survive, even if Charlie had offered to fetch him books whenever he asked and Castiel was setting up a games console for the guys back in their dorms.
Slowing down, he finally got down to a walk and found himself at the edge of town, with few houses and the first of the fields cropping up around him. Suddenly aware of the time he turned to head back to the school and instantly ran into an old lady, causing her to spill her basket of wrapped goods all over the ground near where she fell. Immediately he bent over to help her back to her feet before gathering all of her belongings and putting them back into the basket, apologising profusely. As he handed back the basket, she smiled, bidding him farewell as she went on her way and Dean himself turned to leave. After less than five steps a pained shout caught his attention and he turned back to see someone stamp hard on the old lady's leg, breaking it.
Dean ran back and pushed the attacker away, picking the lady up and carrying her to a nearby house. He banged on the door until it opened and he pushed the lady into the man's arms before slamming the door shut and turning to face the pursuing attacker. He looked at her and she smiled, sending a chill up his spine when he saw her pitch black eyes and he went to draw his blade into this plane (a skill he shouldn’t have yet but taught himself) but before he could focus a sharp crack echoed out and a bright light exploded behind his eyes to co-inside with the distant cackling of several voices just as the ground rushed to meet him.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Dean wakes up in an unfamiliar place with the enemy
This chapter is rather short so I might post another today or tomorrow
Dean felt the ringing in his ears as he woke up in stages as he had learnt. First analysing what he could hear, then his range of movement, before noting his general health and finally opening his eyes. His first tests were not very promising, finding himself in a room silent save a fan, and being completely restrained and lying on his stomach. His health was much better as save the concussion, he felt fine, so Dean slowly opened his eyes to look around the place he was held in. What he saw made his heart leap into his throat and he let his head fall back to the table.
A table. The first thing he noticed was that he was on his stomach on a cool metal table entirely bound and unable to move any of his limbs more than a few inches in any direction. Then he lifted his head and almost fainted in shock – the muddy walls stretched up and up and up as far as he could see and even below him, as the platform he rested on appeared to float, leaving him in the centre of a large and surprisingly empty room with no other people, however several pieces of large equipment next to other manacles attached to the walls, ceiling and ground made Dean pale.
“How do you like your new accommodations?” asked a voice from the ground beneath him, “I call it the bird cage.”
The sound of climbing stairs had Dean trying to see behind him but a second later a breath of stale air brushed across his back, just as he realise it was bare.
“My name is Alistair, young bird, and I can’t wait to eat you all up soon. In fact, I’m just going to skip the remaining pleasantries and get straight to the good part.”
“It’s true then? A Gifted’s grace can feed you creatures as just well as a soul or maybe even better. I’m sorry to disappoint but you’ll get little out of me,” Dean’s chocolate brown eyes shone with a raw determination as the groundling was approaching him with two square pads which he placed on his back. Dean slowly started to understand and as it dawned on him he started his breathing exercises to keep himself from struggling against his bindings and hurting himself.
“I suppose we’re about to find out. Do you know what this is?” he asked, his hand stroking over the large dial on the machine next to him, slowly trailing over slightly raised marks Dean recognised from the Groundling language as numbers, counting from one to ten. A pit began to grow deep in his stomach as he looked upon the device that was soon to be the end of him. “So, this is what’s going to happen. You are going to answer all of my questions and reveal your shiny new wings and I am going to turn this dial up one each time you fail to do so. Any questions?”
“They wanted me the whole time, didn't they? How did you know when I left? And where is this?" “Well, I probably shouldn’t tell you this but seems you’re about to die anyway... to answer your third question, we are roughly twenty kilometres beneath Lawrence, and as for how we knew, we have a man on the inside.”
Dean’s blood ran cold as he realised he was far beneath the ground with no way of escape. Like any Gifted, he hated being closed in and underground was a thousand times more terrifying. To distract himself, he latched onto the other half of his soon to be torturer’s sentence. “It’s Meg, isn’t it? That evil skank always felt wrong.”
Alastair laughed at his response, “clever boy. She even took care of your departure, there’s a letter written to your boyfriend on your bed, and when young Castiel finds it he’ll think you broke up with him and ran.”
“No...” No. Not that, anything but that. Cas would think he left him behind, that he abandoned him. He should’ve told him how he felt so long ago and now he never could. He would never see him ever again. He would never see anyone ever again. Not his brother, another boy recently accepted to the school and who would join next year, just as Dean would leave. Not Bobby or Ellen, his surrogate parents ever since his mom was killed in combat years ago and his dad fell off the wagon. No one would ever know he was dead. Silent tears began to fall as he completely slumped on the table, all hope gone and prepared to meet his end.
Alistair watched with glee and moved his hand to rest on the dial. “That’s better, now we have come to accept our little situation, why don’t we get started?”
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
The torture begins whilst Dean contemplates what he is losing
Fair warning, this chapter is pretty much just one long torture scene mixed in with some destiel feels.
Dean rode out the first waves of electricity as they flowed into his back without any indication he even felt it, and in truth he probably didn’t. His mind was miles away, at home in his dorm playing video games, walking through the park, dinner in the restaurant by the sea, his memories with his boyfriend flashed through his mind, right up the day last week Dean had taken his mom’s engagement ring from the chain around his neck and sent it to be professionally cleaned and polished. Vaguely he felt the stinging as a more powerful current poured into his shoulder blades. He was planning to propose at graduation, now that was not going to happen. He had planned to say ‘I love you’, not ‘I need you’, for the first time. He had planned on graduating with Cas and his family around him as he moved to the next stage of his life. Another, stronger wave which he again rode out. He had hoped, one day, to be married to the love of his life, and this demon was trying to take that from him.
“No,” he growled out as Alastair asked the questions again, “you’re not taking that from me, no one is.”
Dean lay on the table and rode out four out of ten waves before he failed to conceal his reaction. As the fifth tore through his body, his teeth were gritted and he let out a hiss of pain, but still said nothing. At seven, the burning seared at his nerves and he let out his first involuntary groan, making Alistair smile as he asked the same questions again and ordered the Gifted to manifest his wings, pumping a stronger current into it when it shook its head. Another few would break it. Turning to look at the dial, he was shocked to see it was on its eighth setting already, and with barely a sound from his captive. The groundling knew better that anyone the statistics for this machine, so he was shocked the child before him was even still alive, not to mention hadn’t uttered a sound since his outburst save odd hisses and this last groan.
What if he survives? That had never happened before so the thought shocked him. He knew of the prophesy, had studied it when it became known he was to be a Groundling. Most broke on the sixth wave and all before the ninth, and this fledgling shouldn’t have made it past four, especially not having done it silently. Alistair was in awe of his endurance and determination to stand by his word. It must be love; he’s doing it for that boy. Shaking his head, he turned the dial to nine; sure the boy would break as he flipped the switch again. The intense pain seeped into every nook and hole in his body, his very bones saturated and nerves flooded. Dean cried out, he had no choice as his clenched muscles twitched and shook all over, wracked with a pain he had only read of. Still, he refused when the man above him he now called a demon asked the questions again.
He knew he had just one more to go and it would all be over one way or another. He retreated to his happiest memory, where Cas had kissed him at their families’ thanksgiving party over two years ago, effectively outing both of them in front of their entire families and as he returned the kiss, allowing them both to release their months of longing in one go. He was so deep in the memory he actually had a faint smile on his face, and when Alastair noted this, he sent word to fetch the Queen.
When a beautiful young lady walked into the room and up the stairs to his side, Dean barely noticed, too busy trying to immerse himself in his memories to fortify his mind from the coming assault. Lilith looked down on the slumped, but very much still alive, gifted and then to the machine next to him, still turned to nine.
“Only one left to go and he’s barely made a sound? That’s impossible, he’s only a child,” she scoffed.
“My Queen it is extraordinary. None before him have survived this long so I thought it best you were here to witness if he makes it or to feed from him yourself if he gives in. he must be very powerful even to last this long.”
“You did the right thing calling me, Alistair. Do it.”
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
The torture finally concludes, but will the groundlings get what they want?
Ugh, I just couldn't stop writing today! I've decided to scrap the schedule and post just whenever I finish writing a chapter.
Alastair and Lilith watched as the electricity flowed directly into the prone body beneath them and it writhed and flailed in the bonds holding it. The volume increased drastically when the fledgling failed to keep his first cries silent and more followed. The screams continued for over a minute until they chocked off, falling silent. Lilith gestured for it to be turned off.
Dean lost all control when the electricity reached his brain and after his initial whimper, screamed in earnest as an agony like no other vibrated through his very grace. His voice broke off and he fell quiet, dragging air into his lungs while flames danced beneath his skin, gasping as each watt rippled through him.
What he couldn't see however was the shocked look on each Groundling's face when they realised he was still breathing, and none of his essence had been forced out. He could only lie trembling as the edges of his vision faded to black and he went completely limp, blissfully unconscious.
"What do we do, my Queen? He-he survived. Nothing in my arsenal is stronger or more successful in forcing their hope to be lost. I cannot reach his grace for you."
Lilith considered the child on the table and an ingenious idea came to her, "get me a Gifted's blade and find some contacts the same colour his eyes were. If we cut open his back and put the contacts in, when they find him they'll believe we took his wings and left him for them to find."
"Yes...if they then make him leave he might decide to join us later on after enough time alone." Alistair scampered off to find what his Queen needed, leaving her alone with the boy to peel the pads from his back, depositing them on the ground. Then she unlocked the gift proof manacles from several places on his body and rolled him over, giving her access to his face. When her minion returned, she took the lenses and opened his eyes one by one, pausing to take in the vivid and luminous green colour the grace, pain and electricity created. Fitting the contacts in place, she allowed his head to fall back down.
Next, his back. After rolling Dean back over, she took the proffered blade and expertly carved two long gorges parallel to his shoulder blades. She then took the knife and dragged along all of the skin available to distract them from the real issue until enough people were there to see.
Satisfied with her handwork, she motioned for some more of her followers who approached them, and then to the unconscious form, "take him to the surface and leave him as close to the gates as possible. Position him on his side in his bloody rags so they have to get close to see those for maximum impact."
"Yes, my Queen," they murmured and rushed to obey her, taking Dean's completely pliant form with them as they left to leave him for discovery.
Dean felt fresh air on his face moments before he was dropped to the ground, distant talking reminding him to stay awake before he was kicked harshly in his back he rolled into foetal position on the side, facing the bushes. Laughing, the Groundlings left him there.
As a chill set in and his eyes began to slip closed in the dark, a startled shout alerted him to another presence, and when a second being let out a horrified gasp, and dropped to his knees, Dean knew he had been discovered.
"Dean...?" Came the whisper and Dean felt tears well up at hearing the voice he'd desperately wanted to come home to. "What happened to you?"
When his boyfriend tried to pick him up, he accidentally dragged his calloused fingers across open wounds and Dean hissed, causing Castiel to grip tighter even as he apologized.
"Charlie, we need a medic, now!" Cas cried, trying to hold back tears and holding Dean close to his chest as he ran alongside their best friend before she sprinted ahead, "what did they do to you baby...."
Minutes of running later and Dean noticed distantly from his position curled up against Cas's body that they had reached the school, and a small group already waited for them, including Charlie, Bobby, Ellen and several medics.
They were motioned towards sick bay but Cas shook his head, nodding towards the hospital and they raised their eyebrows aghast when they saw the amount of blood covering them and the shining in Cas's eyes. Everyone ran into the hospital and Cas sat on a bed, laying his boyfriend beside him with his head on his lap, and Cas's fingers carding through his hair.
Dean lying on his back, realised with a foggy mind that a lot more cuts had been made to him while unconscious as he was crisscrossed with wounds just starting to heal all over his body. As his clothes were cut from him, the extent of the damage was revealed and they began scrubbing him of blood and cleaning the slashes one by one, shocked as Dean watched silently, face betraying not a hint of pain no matter how hard they scrubbed the salt into his torn skin. Cas looked down on his boyfriend, and when he took in the pale features somehow relaxed despite the pain the saline was causing, the tears began to fall and he tried to pretend he didn't know his lover had endured so much worse in the last forty eight hours.
When they finished, his family came to stand by his side and the nurses went to leave, but when he whimpered, everyone looked back, startled and confused by the heart breaking sound. Only when he pushed Castiel away and rolled over jerkily did they understand what was so painful he made such a sound and the nurses rushed back in, once again terrified for Dean's life.
He had Cas's fingers in a death grip the whole time as the deep gauges in his back were cleaned. He knew of the pitying looks being thrown at his body as each reached the same conclusion as to what had transpired.
"Get me......Michael.....gotta.......tell him.....traitor..........." The rest of the sentence was lost in the sheets as his head fell and eyes slid, shut but silence fell at the words that slipped out and a runner was sent to wake the headmaster.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Dean gives his report to the headteacher
He was lying between his boyfriend's legs so his back was pressed to his front. The headmaster, Michael, stood in front of them as they squirmed to get him into a non-painful position. He watched them with eagle eyes as, strangely, Dean seemed different but he couldn't place it, so instead he focused on what he had to say.
"Meg has been working with the Groundlings for a long time; maybe even since before she took the teaching position. She told them when I left the area and planned to cover for my departure. Presently the leader is a woman called Lilith and her second is Alistair. I believe their base of operations is some distance beneath the school, almost twenty miles or so. They have confirmed that they can feed off grace as it is more powerful than a soul but in order to do so the gifted must manifest their wings thus concentrating it in a removable area." Michael was impressed that Dean's voice didn't tremble during the report but it was clear he was avoiding mentioning something.
"Is that all?"
"Um.......yes. The rest is kind of... personal."
Michael studied the fledgling before him, noting his uncomfortable and rigid posture and the way his hands clenched and unclenched each time the light buzzed or something crackled. Michael was very confused by this behaviour until he realised the common denominator - electricity. He saw the moment Dean noticed his change he visibly started to tremble and his eyes grew wide, as if afraid of Michael's reaction. But why would he be angry at the fledgling for being tortured for days in such a way, unless-oh. The nurses said he was covered in slices, including two long cuts on his back so they must've forced his wings to manifest for the first time and- and.......
"Your wings.........." Michael breathed as the blood rushed from his face and he stumbled forwards to enclose the terrified child in arms and wings alike. It took several long moments for Dean's tense muscles to relax as he was surrounded by six wings of a pristine white, broadcasting strength and comfort unique to this Archgifted unlike the other elders' six wings would. "I'm so sorry, little one. We should have sent people as soon as you left but we were sure we were safe in Lawrence so we knew nothing until Amitiel contacted us and now your grace is..."
"On fire," Dean finished, shuddering, "I can still feel it but it hurts so much...it burns beneath my skin. It gets worse, the...machine wasn't the only one, there were several others in a room where all the cuffs were warded...they called it 'The Birdcage'. I think they're planning on taking more Gifted and they told me I wasn't the first, by a lot."
"More were taken before you? How did I not know of this? Raphael!" he called for his second, "Get Meg under lock and key immediately! Tell Gabriel the warding must be tripled throughout the school now, and make sure Lu-........we are officially on lock down, Code One!"
Raphael looked shocked for a moment before he hid his expression and took to the air, amazed by his brother's lack of control. He hadn't mentioned Lucifer since his death years ago, and there hadn't been a Code One incident since before then. Now they would have to perform the roles of four with only three Archgifted, a feat never accomplished before.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
Dean is finally reborn as the beautiful swan we all know he is, and the prophesy is revealed.
Please slap the kudos button if you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Castiel squeezed Dean's hand and looked on as Michael shook himself and took to the sky with only a concerned look sent towards them. Suddenly, Dean gasped in his arms and pitched forwards, lying with his forehead on the mattress as his body arched upwards, as if his grace was trying to escape his back. Oh. His wings were coming? But the cuts...surely they were already lost to them? Either way his back arched again and Dean let out a shuddering lungful of air. Castiel had to leave; only family members could be present when a fledgling grew their wings, but he couldn't bring himself to leave him alone as he had been left for his rebirth. Dean hissed out another breath and jumped from the table still clinging to his boyfriend, so dragged him with him, the doorway and out into the corridor. Barely even flinching as his muscles spasmed and skin began to split, Dean led them to a room far larger than any usually used for the rebirths and sank to his hands and knees, again pulling Castiel with him.
"Dean? Why are we here?"
"Need space. Lots of space. They're all so big..."
"All? Don't you mean both, sweetheart?" he asked, kneeling before him to grip both Dean's hands in his as his back arched up again.
"No, all. I feel them. Not two, definitely more. Maybe six?"
Cas peeled the gauze from Dean's back in time to watch the cuts reopen completely as his toned back spasmed again.
"Close your eyes, Cas. Argh. We don't know how bright they could be."
Dutifully Cas closed his eyes and cast his head down just as Dean groaned and his hands squeezed so hard Cas felt his bones begin to break, but fortunately he let go just in time to prevent it. Then, suddenly, they tightened again and the first knuckle broke, quickly followed by his second finger on his right hand and three bones in his left. Another, even stronger grip and every remaining joint and bone in both hands tore and broke, and he barely contained his cries as fragments grated together.
Dean released Cas when the pain faded and looked to his back where six huge wings erupted largest at the top. His wings. The most noticeable thing, however, was the shade they were. Neither black nor white light surrounded the feathers, but gold. My wings are gold.
"The thirteenth wing designation....."
"Dean, there are only twelve. Can I look?"
"If I say yes you have to swear not to tell another soul. Not even Charlie, Cas, or Bobby and Ellen. I'll have to tell them all together and show them or they won't believe me."
"Of course, Dean. I would never betray your trust."
Dean stood and Cas stood with him, opening his eyes and looking upon his boyfriend, who stood with his wings lifted behind him, spread out for inspection.
"Gold.......can I touch them?"
Dean shakily nodded and Cas stretched an arm towards the brilliant, glimmering plumage, crying out as his mangled hand made contact.
"Cas? Oh no. Did I do that? I'm so sorry!" Dean cried and reached for them, barely even touching them when a vast warmth seeped through them, instantly setting the bones and painlessly healing him.
Cas looked down at his hands and flexed them, shocked when there was no pain. "What......"
"Um...perks of being an Archgifted?" he replied, looking between their hands and his eyes.
"The thirteenth wing designation?" Cas asked, eyes still downcast.
"Well one is black and twelve is white for regular Gifted. Thirteen is gold. And the fact I'm an Arch to boot? That makes me the most rare Gifted ever because not only am I an Archgifted like the elders, I'm the first in hundreds of years born to gold......that's why no one knows what it is."
Cas finally looked up, eyes again flicking to his wings before settling on his eyes and widening. "Dean!"
"What? Cas, what's wrong?"
Cas didn't even answer, just looked around on the floor, eyes narrowing as he saw what he was looking for. Picking it up, he held the chocolate brown contact lens on his palm where Dean could see it.
"What? I don't wear contacts. Why would... Oh my God. They got to nine but I didn't think I'd survive through them all...my eyes are..."
"Green. They're bright green."
Dean looked around them and when he didn't see a mirror, closed his eyes, focusing on his wings. With a deep breathe they disappeared and Cas stared as dean completed a feat in minutes that took him hours. Dean turned and ran to the bathroom, finding a mirror and looking between his mismatched eyes, one his usual brown, the other a vivid green. Gingerly reaching up, he touched his forefinger to his open eye and removed a second contact just as Cas caught up.
"I can't believe it. I survived. I must've passed out during ten and... I actually woke up."
"The prophesy, Dean," Cas whispered, "it's you. You're the only being to have ever survived, you told me yourself about it and said it was impossible, and your wings... It has to be you..."
"In darkest times a fledgling shall rise,
our world and souls from evil to prise,
and raise us from perdition on wings of flames,
and to shield the people, endure the greatest of pains."
Dean mindlessly recited the ancient -and almost forgotten - prophecy, given to them by God himself millennia ago, as he stared into his own luminous eyes, proof of his pain. "Amitiel..."
"The old lady I saved when I was captured, the women I SHIELDED from the Groundlings."
"Oh my God. What do we do? Should you tell them? No one would know about the prophesy except the elders and if your eyes were masked they wouldn't know until graduation..."
Smiling faintly, Dean looked back at Castiel, "thank you for trying, but I won't hide these. They're a part of me now, and I won't hide myself...except maybe my wings for now. It's not as if the regular instructors would be much help. I'll have to train them myself at night, and organize it so I can take my final flying exam alone..."
Cas wrapped his arms around his waist and spoke into his ear, "no, not alone, I'll be there. And Bobby and Ellen too if you want to tell them. You know I'm always here."
Dean smiled and twisted in his arms, leaning down to press his lips to the other boy's.
Does anyone else read through their story a dozen times before posting or is it just me? It always seems to un-capitalize 'Dean' so I hope I'm always catching it before I post.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
Now Dean has finally been reborn it's time for him to find his Gift.
Dean was discharged from hospital the next morning as his entire body had miraculously healed, and though the doctors were stumped, six other patients had also been cured of their life threatening ailments, one even having had advanced stage four breast cancer less than twelve hours ago and was now fine.
As Dean left the hospital holding hands with Cas, he smiled, amazed he had been able to cure some of the dying patients and thankful for his gift. Apparently healing was to be his specialty, rather that strength, speed or any particular element like some winged, Cas and his special affinity to water for example. He was however stumped at how strong he was, as the elder Raphael had the same talent, but declared those on the ICU ward he just saved, incurable. I’ll go back and cure the others soon.
Dean was welcomed back to his dorm by all of his friends and family who stayed for a big lunch, although Dean knew they just wanted to see he was really fine, before leaving late in the afternoon. The two boys then went for a walk around the grounds before coming to a stop at the lake near sunset.
No one said anything about my eyes, did they not notice or just not understand? The thoughts swirled as he looked over the lake, before he remembered another time they spent here.
The lake was where Cas felt most at home - it being the largest water source nearby - so they went there often on dates where Cas would play with the water. He once even showed Dean while he was trying to find his own gift before realising he needed his wings first.
Lazily, they sat down, and Dean made the lazy push and pull motions again to show Cas he remembered that date they went on last year. Cas smiled and looked at the lake where ripples had formed, confused because there was no breeze. Then he looked back at Dean who hadn't noticed any change. Shrugging, Cas lifted a ball of water and placed it over Dean's head, laughing when he lifted his arms as if to catch it.
With a flick of his wrist it fell quickly towards Dean who shut his eyes and waited, confused when it never touched him. Opening his eyes, he saw Cas, mouth open in shock, and, looking up, the ball of water an inch from his palm. Gingerly he moved his palms and the ball followed, never wavering until he held it out for his boyfriend to take.
"Oh my God. Did I just...control it? But I thought I was a healer?"
Cas had no reply for Dean, who had obviously just managed to catch the water without touching it, so suggested he tried making a wave like he had shown him. Standing, Dean pushed and pulled the lake water until he could make a small wave he then pushed away from himself to slide across the water surface.
"I have two gifts. That only happened with Michael before as far as I know..."
"Wait, Michael has two gifts? What are they?"
Dean looked back over the lake as he replied, "fire, and strength."
Cas and Dean sat in silence until Cas said something unthinkable, "what if you're more powerful than Michael? You might have strength as well, I mean you did crush both my hands by accident...what can you do on purpose?"
Dean and his boyfriend walked hand in hand to the metal tree on the far side of campus behind the school where strength was tested for. Dozens of handprints were left where people had pushed against the metal and any who left marks were considered to have the gift. Michael's handprints were by far the deepest at over three inches deep in the middle of the tree, but Dean moved to place his hands in the same place he tried the first time around. Dean checked for passers-by, and finding none, got ready.
"As hard as I can, right?"
When Cas nodded, Dean shut his eyes, channelled every morsel of strength into his arms, and pushed and pushed until his arms gave out. Backing away from the tree, Dean almost fainted when he saw the impressions of his hands and in the dark they looked just like every other set.
I have strength as well.
"Well, that's three out of seven. Do you want to test for more?" It was obvious his boyfriend was joking, but Dean nodded anyway, wanting to check.
"Actually there are ten. One for fire, air, water, earth, speed, strength, healing, persuasion, mind reading, and honesty."
As they walked to the earth test, a loud bell elsewhere alerted them to it being nine o'clock already, so everyone else was already at home. The empty field made it easier to carry out most of the remaining tests quietly, and without being seen.
The earth and speed tests were easy, as Dean transported a large rock from one end of the field to the other in under fifteen seconds, without touching it. The air challenge was to make a turbine turn without laying a hand on it, and even if Dean had no idea how, he turned it on a completely still night.
Fire was much more difficult, and much harder. It was not supposed to be tried unless another, competent user was present, but Dean only knew of a few and didn't want any finding out his secret. The basic principal was to hold a flame in one's hand for a few minutes without being burnt, and Cas didn't want dean to attempt it.
"Dean, we should wait, it isn't safe."
"Why don't you stand by with some water just in case? It's probably a better idea than telling someone, and that way when the time is up you can put me out."
I don't want you to try it- "Liar," Dean said so fast he almost cut the thought off, before slapping his hands over his mouth.
"Yeah, you’re right. Well that's honesty and mind reading, you caught me out on a lie before I finished thinking it."
Sighing, Cas went to find water and was ready and waiting when Dean lit a match and held the flame in his palms for a little over a minute without feeling any sort of heat. He then separated his hands and watched as the fire split between them. Just as a test he started to juggle with the small balls and when he caught them all one final time, he gently blew, putting it out.
Turning to Cas, where he was stood with a torch, he grinned, "I make that nine out of ten, and I would never try and make you do something you were against, ..."
Cas shook his head amazed and he moved to Dean, giving him a chaste kiss, just happy he was fine. Walking back to the dorms, they had no idea they may not have been as subtle as they thought...
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
The next day, they stayed clutched in each other's arms until well into the afternoon, when they finally emerged from their dorm and walked into the North common room. Amazingly, not one student was home, even though it was a Saturday and there were no classes, so they thought something must've happened and decided to go find out what.
Walking out, hand in hand, they saw no one anywhere near any building, and it wasn't until they walked behind the school they saw hundreds of people, including the other three Archgifteds standing around the metal tree. As they approached with their bed hair and wearing each other's shirts, Charlie ran out to meet them, babbling to the point of being incoherent.
"Charlie," Dean said as he grabbed her arms to stop her hitting someone, "calm down, okay. Deep breaths, in and out. Now tell us what's going on, slowly."
Charlie immediately calmed and began to tell them in a slow and steady voice what was going on, causing Dean to push through to the front with her words ringing in his ears...
"........new handprints, deeper than Michael's were, and no one has claimed them....."
...and what he found was amazing. His handprints, which looked no deeper than a half inch in the dark, were a staggering five and a half by the light of day, pushing him to the top of the leader board and the strongest person in the entire school. He looked at Michael, who surprising didn't look in the least bit resentful, just as he made his speech.
"Whomever these prints belong to have three weeks to claim and prove they are theirs, or they will no longer count and will be removed from the leader board and disqualified. That is all."
No one moved as they waited for someone who already proved themselves to step forward and claim them, but they never did. After a minute of silence, people started to wander off, and Dean turned to leave, catching sight of Michael watching him as he did so. Pushing back through the crowd, he found Charlie and Cas near the back and looked at them wide eyed, making Cas worried and Charlie confused. He then walked further away from the tree, making a beeline for the teacher's accommodations to find Bobby and Ellen, knowing the rest of his family was behind him.