It’s the end of the world, and Dean is running through the streets of New York holding a shotgun, with his brother beside him with an axe, and a crazed angel with a sword is in front of them both, trench-coat flashing as he leads the charge.
Oh yeah, and the place is overrun with seven-foot long miniature dragons, while a massive seven-headed version taller than the Chrysler Building destroys the city with fire and sheer size.
It’s like a goddamn comic book or a cult apocalypse movie, and they’re the Big Damn
Heroes who happen to be the only ones with any idea what’s going on. Sam’s the calm researcher dude, Dean’s the cocksure, vaguely dickish guy, and Cas is totally the oddball inventive character and the knowing mentor rolled into one.
Except that this isn’t actually a movie, and while Cas is seriously kick-ass, if he keeps attacking every dragon they see he’s going to get himself killed, angel or not.
“Dammit Cas!” Dean roars, as he and Sam surge forward to help.
Right before The Beast That Is Called Dragon, Destroyer of Worlds had shown up Cas had suddenly pitched forward, white-faced, gasping something about sigils; the moment the Dragon showed up he’d gone into a kind of berserker rage that he still hasn’t come out of.
Cas kills his latest dragon with no trouble.
He’s a pleasure to watch, all graceful, swift movement – Dean tends to forget that angels are soldiers and weapons, but it’s pretty hard to forget right now – but they seriously don’t have time for this.
“Cas!” Dean bellows again, and grabs hold of the back of the trench-coat just as the angel stalks off in the direction of the next dragon.
He’s dragged five feet and thinks fuck this and sort of tackles the angel from behind, which has absolutely no effect and ends up kind of looking like Dean’s getting a piggy-back ride from a dude slightly shorter than him.
If this is a movie, then clearly it’s a weird-ass screwball comedy.
“Sam! Help me out here!” Dean calls, and then brings his mouth to Cas’ ear.
“Cas! We need to leave! Cas!”
Cas stops short for an instant and his back flexes, somehow, and Dean is tumbled back onto the tarmac.
Cas marches on.
“Was that – did he use his wings?” Sam splutters somewhere behind Dean.
Dean just grits his teeth and gets to his feet and runs after his stubborn bastard of an angel.
He grabs him by the shoulder, and this time Cas swings around.
“Dean,” he snarls, and Dean takes a half-step back without meaning to, because Cas’ eyes are wild and savage and lost, and the air around the two of them is suddenly energised and crackling like an impending lightning strike.
“Cas, we need to get out of here,” Dean says, a bit desperately, because he has no idea what’s going on in his friend’s head, but it looks kind of like he’s lost it.
“Dude, there’s no way you can kill all of them,” Dean adds hastily, “and me and Sam aren’t safe here.”
Cas pauses this time, a momentary hesitation as protective instinct wars with fury, and Dean takes advantage of it.
“It’s not exactly safe for you either, and who knows what the sigils’ve done to you. Come on, man, we need to leave.”
For a long moment Cas stands irresolute, and Dean meets his gaze steadily, without blinking or shifting.
Cas huffs an angry breath.
“Fine.” His sword arm drops, and Dean feels a swell of relief. “Let’s obtain an appropriate vehicle and leave this place.”
They end up driving a frigging minivan, because there’s no justice in this world.
The Impala’s still safe and sound back at the motel where they were staying before Cas bamfed them out to New York to try and stop this new apocalypse threat, but since Cas apparently can’t fly anywhere right now it’s going to be a while before Dean sees his baby again.
Cas is sitting at the back of the van sulking, with the sword across his lap.
It’s a genuine Angel Sword, apparently, and because the sigils activated while Cas was holding it he can’t send it back to wherever it came from.
Which is just as well, considering all the freaking dragons.
“The sigils have partially bound my Grace,” Cas growls as they drive, practically vibrating with frustration. “They have also rendered my …more basic instincts… hypersensitive.”
“That’s why you’re so touchy, huh?” Dean comments, and yeah, it’s kind of like poking a bear, but they’re so helpless right now and it’s driving Dean insane and he just really wants to take it out on someone.
Cas sends Dean a glare that could strip paint, and his eyes actually glow for half a second.
Dean decides that maybe he should rethink his ‘annoy Cas’ plan.
“So,” Sam says hastily, before Cas can smite him, or something, “you’re… what, finding it difficult to control those instincts?”
Cas’ blistering glare in the rear-view mirror sends Dean a clear message.
“Duly noted,” Dean drawls.
He doesn’t needle Cas any further.
An hour in, Cas suddenly says that he would like music.
“Good idea,” Sam agrees; the atmosphere in the van has been heavy with tension and a deep sense of general gloom, and Sam clearly hopes some music will lift the mood.
So Dean turns the radio on.
The first thing they hear is a familiar voice saying,
“Uh, I really don’t think I’m the person to talk to –” in seriously uncomfortable tones.
Dean damn near crashes.
“Son of a bitch!” he swears.
“What the hell is Chuck doing on the radio?” Sam asks incredulously, leaning forward to listen.
“Hush,” Cas orders absently.
“Mr Shurley, according to all reports you were aware of the Dragon the moment it first appeared,” says a female voice. “In the video currently circulating online, you exclaimed, and I quote directly, ‘holy shit!’ while clutching your head, before telling eyewitnesses that ‘something has just happened’ and attempting to organise those around you in preparation for the Dragon’s attacks.”
“Fuck,” Dean says grimly. He glances back in the mirror. “Cas?”
“It makes sense that Chuck Shurley would be made aware of the Dragon’s rise, considering his status as a prophet,” Cas said thoughtfully.
He seems to have dialled back a bit on the crazy, which frankly is a relief. They’ve got enough to deal with without Cas going all Terminator on their asses.
Dean looks back at Sam, to see the giant forehead wrinkle in worry in what Dean can’t help but feel is a distinctly ominous way.
“What?” Dean asks.
“Well, it’s the apocalypse…” Sam begins, slowly, like he really doesn’t want to go there but his enormous brain is ticking over anyway. Dean can almost see the cogs and gears turning. “Do you think that there’s any chance that… Michael and…”
“Oh hell no, that is all we need,” Dean snaps. “I fucking hope not, Sam. We didn’t go to all the trouble to stick those two asshats back in the Cage just so they can pop out again like a pair of jack-in-the-boxes.”
“Lucifer and Michael are securely contained, Dean,” Cas reassured him gravely. “For what good that does us.”
Clearly, Cas has forgotten all the keeping-the-pessimism-to-yourself lessons, again.
“Well, at least that’s something,” Sam says.
There doesn’t seem to be anything else to say to that.
A few days later they’re camped out at a little gas station for the night, subsisting on packets of peanuts and jerky and bottles of water.
They’re not alone. There’s a small group in there with them, a couple of teenage kids and an old lady, travelling around in a battered old SUV that Peter – a preppy, earnest little dude with ‘nerd’ written all over him – admits they stole during all the chaos back in New York.
“I mean, it was crazy,” Peter says seriously. “I had to get MJ and Aunt May out of there.”
MJ smiles a little. She’s too young for Dean, but pretty hot all the same. Hey, he can look, alright?
“Thank you, Peter,” she says, sort of wry but appreciative, and Peter smiles back with big moony eyes and Christ, it’s a teenage romance movie.
Peter’s aunt May smiles dotingly at them both, like the fondest wish of her heart is for the two of them to get together and pop out a bunch of babies and live happily ever after so that she can feed them all like, scones and cake and whatever and tell the kids mildly embarrassing stories about their parents.
“I’m going to turn on the radio,” Sam announces. The gas station had been selling a couple of little transistor radios, and Sam has spent the last few minutes getting one out of the packaging and putting in a set of batteries.
Somehow in the past couple of days Chuck has gone from a sad, nerdy little writer no one’s heard of, to some kind of national apocalypse guru. Turn on the radio, on any station, and Chuck’s reedy little voice comes mumbling out of the speakers talking about dragons and pissed angels and the end of the world.
So when Sam turns the thing on, and Chuck’s rambling on again, Dean just sits back and listens.
Peter, MJ, and May, though, react with varying expressions of shock and surprise, so clearly, they haven’t been listening to the radio since the Dragon rose.
“Is this real?” MJ asks after a moment, in a soft, worried voice. “I mean, I saw the Dragon, but angels…”
She trails off, sounding uncertain.
When Dean thinks about it, it’s kind of sad that even when there’s a frigging dragon stomping around like Godzilla, the average person still finds it hard to believe that there might be angels out there.
Cas’ grumpy voice drifts back from the darkest corner of the store, where he’s been sitting slumped back against the wall brooding and valiantly trying to get drunk on only a couple of bottles of whisky.
He’d eyed the painkillers behind the counter speculatively, but Dean had caught the look and told him point-blank that if he saw Cas taking any he’d get them all and flush them down the toilet or something.
Castiel had shot him a look, but didn’t touch the medication.
May and MJ’s heads swivel in Cas’ direction at the sound of his voice like they’d totally forgotten the intense-eyed scowling dude in the trench-coat, but Peter just lets his eyes drift over like he’d been totally aware of the angel the entire time.
Dean files that away.
“How do you know?” MJ asks. “It could all just be a hoax, or something.”
She doesn’t sound like she’s even convincing herself.
There’s a rustle of coat, and possibly wings, and Cas appears out from behind a stand of Cheetos, bottle in hand, looking more-than-usually dishevelled. The blue eyes are as sharp as ever, though.
“It can’t be true,” May says, looking distressed. “Surely, angels –”
“Angels do not have fluffy wings or halos, or play harps,” Cas interrupts. “They are warriors of God. Only he’s left the building, and the ones in charge took offence that he likes you best.”
The two women look daunted. Dean feels for them. Angels are dicks.
“You said ‘you,’” Peter says, thoughtfully.
MJ looks around at him.
“He didn’t say they don’t like ‘us’,” Peter explained, watching Cas sort of curiously. “He said they don’t like ‘you.’”
It takes MJ a moment to get it, although May is already breathing “oh, my,” in tones of awed realisation.
“Um, yeah,” says Sam awkwardly. “Cas is a nickname. Guys, meet Castiel, angel of the Lord.”
MJ and May stare at Castiel.
“Archangel,” Dean adds informatively, because hey, there’s a big space in the hierarchy between angel and archangel. Cas is a serious BAMF.
“John Constantine here is an angel,” MJ says skeptically.
The look that crawls across Castiel’s face is familiar to Dean; exasperated and frowning and at the end of his tether, so Dean just waits to see what Cas does next.
The light inside the gas station suddenly changes, and behind Castiel two enormous, shadowy wings unfurl and spread – and sure, Dean’s seen it before, but damn if the sight isn’t equally impressive every time.
Electric blue eyes bore through the staring humans, like Cas is gazing into their souls.
The light changes back, and Castiel is suddenly just a guy in a trench-coat again.
“Yes,” Cas says redundantly, voice dry as dust. Then he turns and vanishes back into the back corner again.
MJ and May look shaken and kind of shattered, but Peter – Peter looks fascinated.
“Sorry.” Sam looks apologetic. “Cas is, uh...”
“Sulking,” Dean supplies.
On the radio, Chuck stammers about omens and portents and get the hell out of Las Vegas now, guys.
Dean wakes early the next morning.
He isn’t sure what has woken him. Looking around, Sam is curled up in a blanket, ridiculous limbs sticking out everywhere, snoring gently, while MJ and May are both still asleep as well.
Peter is missing.
Dean looks around for Cas; sitting up, he leans right back to peer into the corner and yeah, the angel is there, wide-awake and glowering.
“Hey,” Dean says.
The only response is a stony silence and an unblinking stare. Right. Still grumpy.
“Have you seen Peter?”
Castiel gives Dean an unfathomable stare, which is kind of his speciality by now, but Dean’s still too groggy to break out the angel de-encryption codebook.
If Cas wants to be all angelic and mysterious and shit, let him.
“I believe he went outside,” Cas offers, after a moment.
He’d love to just let the kid wander around, but given the fact that it’s the apocalypse, it’s probably safer if Peter stays with the rest of the group. Skinny guy like him would probably be an easy meal.
“I’m gonna go look for him,” Dean sighs, getting to his feet, and grabbing his gun.
Cas doesn’t respond.
Dean walks outside.
It’s mostly quiet – the gas station’s kinda in the middle of nowhere – but there’s a sort of thwap-thwap sound that instantly makes Dean curious and wary.
Gun in hand, he edges around to the back of the gas station where the toilets are, and glances carefully around the corner.
There’s a – well, he guesses it’s a dog, snarling hairy sonuvabitch though it is, and it’s wrapped up like a mummy in layers of rope-like white stuff.
As Dean watches, Peter twitches his wrists and there’s another thwap-thwap and white stuff is suddenly holding the feral-dog-thing’s muzzle shut.
Peter sighs, and relaxes, letting his hands fall to his sides.
Dean steps forward, and Peter whips around, eyes big and startled and apprehensive, but Dean already has his gun aimed and ready.
“What the hell are you?” Dean demands ferociously, training his gun on the kid.
Peter stands very still, never taking his eyes from Dean’s.
“Dean, it’s okay,” he says in a careful, soothing voice. “I’m not going to hurt anybody. Just… lower the gun, and I’ll explain.”
“How about you try explaining now,” Dean says, his tone making it clear that this is not a suggestion.
“Okay.” Peter is watching Dean a little like a he's a gun about to go off, almost ignoring the actual weapon in Dean's hands. “I’m Spiderman.”
“You’re what now?” That makes absolutely no sense at all to Dean.
Peter’s eyes widen, like he totally didn’t expect that answer.
“You haven’t seen any of the stuff in the papers?” he asks in surprise. “I mean…”
He trails off as Dean’s glare doubles in strength.
“Okay.” Peter chuckles a bit. “I wasn’t expecting you never to even have heard of me before. Um, basically… I’m, sort of, New York’s… resident superhero.”
“You’re a superhero,” Dean repeats flatly.
Of all the shit he’s heard…
Peter just sort of smiles.
“Yeah, I know it sounds nuts,” he agrees, all self-deprecating. “But I was on this school trip to a genetics lab, when I was bitten by a genetically-altered spider that had gotten loose. I started displaying characteristics of arachnid physiology, like the ability to shoot webs, greater proportional strength, that sort of thing.”
“So you decided to become a superhero?”
Dean does his best to sound incredulous, but he has to admit, if he woke up with superpowers one day, then yeah, the call of spandex would be tempting. And Peter – sure, he seems like a nice enough guy so far, but man, he’s definitely a nerd.
Peter’s expression turns completely serious.
“These powers are a responsibility,” he says slowly. “I can do… amazing things, but what that means is that anything I do, there’s going to be consequences, and if I’m not careful, they’ll be negative ones.” For a second, Peter’s eyes are full of remembered pain. “I’ve been given a chance to help people and to make things better for everybody, to actually make a difference in a world where there’s too much pain and unhappiness. So if I can do that, well…” Peter shrugs. “It’s worth it.”
Dean finds himself revising his opinion of the kid. For a moment there Peter looked older than he should’ve, and Dean gets the strong impression that life as a superhero hasn’t exactly been easy for him.
But then, look at Batman, or Superman, or practically any of the others. Being a superhero usually just means you get into deeper shit than most people.
Which, damn it, makes it sound like Dean believes him.
Dean gives Peter once last, skeptical once-over. He sighs, and lowers the gun.
There’s a sudden rush of warmth and slightly awed gratitude in Peter’s eyes, that reminds Dean weirdly of Castiel – all the times when Dean tried to make sure his friend knew he believed in him and was there for him.
It’s an almost baffled look, like Peter isn’t used to people seeing him for who he is, and choosing him anyway. Or either one of those things, period.
“Your family in there know you wear tights for a living?” Dean asks, pretty sure what the answer’s going to be.
Peter gives a snort.
“God, no.” He looks pained again. “It’s much safer if no one has any idea who I am, believe me.”
Yeah, Dean’s seen that argument before.
“Sooner or later someone’s gonna figure it out,” Dean tells Peter, “and then anyone you care for is just a sitting duck. Look,” he adds, as Peter opens his mouth, “Me and Sam… our Mom was killed when he was just a baby, and it was just us and Dad. He used to go away on – business trips all the time and I guess he got lonely, because he found himself a girlfriend.”
“We only found out about our half-brother after Dad’s enemies had found the kid and his mother and killed them both, because he’d never warned them about the kind of shit he had following him around. It wasn’t pretty, but if our Dad had told them a little about the stuff he got into, they might still be alive today.”
Peter opens his mouth to reply, but there’s a sudden, familiar flap of wings, and Cas is standing with them.
“Dean.” Cas still doesn’t look like sunshine and daisies, or anything, but the coiled, tense aggravation is gone. “The sigils have failed.”
“Great,” Dean says. “So you can get us out of here?”
Castiel waits, while Dean sends Peter a sideways, assessing glance.
“What do you think, Cas?” Dean asks eventually. “Think you can carry five?”