Castiel walked slowly through the shadowy warehouse. His senses open as he tracked the creatures that circled him. He did not fear the monsters, but he was not there just to kill a pack of skin-walkers. He was there to find the leader of the pack.
ASH had tracked this pack over the past three weeks via newspaper reports and blog entries. In each town they hit, the pack killed a few humans, but they also took at least one person to be a new member. Usually the victim was a teenager, one of the outcasts of the local high-school. The quiet ones that were bullied and cowed to the point of near suicide. The pack would send one member to befriend their target and when the time was right, they would make the chosen one of the pack.
After a day or two of bringing the newbie into the fold, the pack leader would give the new skin-walker their first taste of human blood. Usually the blood of the biggest bully in the school. They would then leave the area, heading east for a few counties before finding a den to stay in while the new member adjusted. After a week or so, they would stake out a new school, and start the cycle all over again.
The biggest problem was that the pack was huge. Twenty members strong at the last count, making them far too dangerous and organized for a single hunter to try and take on alone. “Cas,” Dean's voice came through the little device that was snugly secured to his ear. “Everything is ready on this end.”
“The pack is aware of me.” Castiel replied. “They have made no move against me as of yet, but they are circling.” He heard a growl off to this left, and turned to track the noise.
“I'm coming in.” Dean replied.
“Understood,” Castiel reached into his jacket and pulled out a silver plated short-sword. It was longer than his angel sword by six inches. He twirled it in his grip, not that he needed to get used to the weight, but as a distraction as the back doors opened and Dean entered the building. “I know you can hear me,” he called out to the skin-walkers. “Did you think your actions would not be noticed?”
“Someone has to make the bullies pay.” A voice called out. “No one at school ever does anything to stop it.”
“So you murder?” Castiel asked. “So you turn innocent children into monsters? You have them slay their own families to prove themselves?” A skin-walker that looked like a Rottweiler charged him, teeth bared. It leaped in an attempt to knock him down. Castiel turned with the charge and grabbed the skin-walker by the throat with one hand. The creature struggled in his grasp, snapping its jaws only inches from his flesh. Calmly he thrust his blade between its ribs, into the heart. The skin-walker gave am pained whimper and died.
“I'm protecting them.” The voice replied. “Their birth parents do nothing to help them. I make them strong. With each new member, we become stronger.”
“You are not protecting them. You are damning their souls to the fires of Purgatory.” Castiel replied. Two more attacked from opposite sides of the room. He turned to the largest of the two, in the form of a Saint Bernard, and slashed the silver blade across its flank. A gunshot went off, and the second skin-walker fell the ground before it got into striking distance. Castiel's target tried to come in under his blade and he switched his grip and plunged the sword into the creatures back.
“Why can't you leave us alone!” The voice shouted.
“Because you're killing innocent people.” Dean shouted back as he came to stand with this back to his angel.
“No one is innocent.” The voice switched into a growling bark, and the entire remaining pack emerged from behind the boxes that littered the warehouse. They charged the two men as one unit, Dean fired several shots, before they closed in, then pulled out his own sword, slashing and stabbing to keep the, all at bay.
“Fire at will.” Dean shouted, into his own headset.
“You're right in the line of fire.” Steve Wandell protested.
“We'll move,” Dean shouted back. “Now open fire!” He slashed with his blade, managing to decapitate a skin-walker. At the sound of the first shot, Castiel grabbed his shoulder and they where immediately standing on the catwalk high above the floor of the warehouse. Around them, four hunters with high powered rifles fired into the pack with silver and Colt based bullets. Within ten minutes there was no longer any movement from the pack. “Okay people, we need a head count.”
“I don't know if we got the pack leader.” Steve said.
“Don't tell me that.” Dean growled and headed down the latter to check the bodies.
“It looks like we are short on the bodies.” Steve admitted. “I count eighteen here.”
Castiel tilted his head into a listening pose. “This way.” He headed toward the back of the warehouse where he could hear what sounded like crying. In the farthest corner in a nest of blankets, he found a young girl. She had greasy blonde hair and wore tattered jeans and an old ratty t-shirt. She appeared to be no older than fourteen. She looked up at his approach and tried to make herself as small as possible.
“Please don't hurt me,” she begged. “I never wanted to hurt anyone.”
“You killed your own parents.” Castiel said as he knelt down next to her.
“Pack leader said I had to,” she sniffed. “I was so hungry.”
“Where is he?” Castiel asked.
“He went down into the sewer tunnel.” She pointed to an open manhole cover that was only a few yards away. “He told me to come with him, but I couldn't. I can't handle this. I don't want to be a monster.”
Dean came into the room, Colt out and ready to fire. But lowered it when he saw there was no real danger. “What's your name?”
“Kelly.” She looked between the two men and straightened up on her knees. “Are you going to kill me?”
“Yes.” Castiel replied. “I can not cure you, not when your transformation is complete.”
“Will you make it quick?” she asked.
“Yes.” Castiel promised, and sliced his blade across, cutting off her head before anyone realized he had even moved. The girl's body crumpled to the ground in a bloody heap. “I am sorry that we could not help her.” He stood and moved away from the body.
“Yeah, well, there is no cure for a skin-walker bite.” Dean sighed. “At least not that anyone we know has ever heard of.”
“I could have stopped the progression, if we had found her before she had killed.” Castiel said looking down into the sewer tunnel. “I believe the pack leader fled as soon as we opened fire on the pack.”
“We'll have to track it down later.” Dean said. “We need to go, the police are on their way. Apparently someone was driving by and heard the gunshots.”
“That is inconvenient.” Castiel replied, cleaning his blade on the dirty blankets.
“Tell me about it.” Dean muttered. “We're going to have to torch the bodies the quick and dirty way. Steve is already pouring gas on the corpses.” They grabbed the girl's body and her head, and dragged it with the blankets over to the others. Wandell picked up a road flare from his pack, lit it and tossed it on the pile.
Castiel lifted a hand at spoke a few quick words in Enochian. The fire flared up higher and hotter. “The fire will not extinguish until the corpses are ash.”
“Time to go, guys.” Dean ordered. The hunters gather together closely and Castiel transported them all to where they had hidden their cars.
“Dean, I watched you die once, I'd rather not have to do that again,” Steve said, as they all dispersed to their vehicles. “Your angel may be indestructible, but you're not. Try to remember that.”
Dean met his eyes and nodded. “I'll try.”
They gathered in numbers, their dark hearts beating with glee as they were finally going to do something. Here in this quiet community in the mountains of California they would show the world that they were here. A hundred demons stood on the top of Oroville Dam, quietly concentrating. The leader of the Army of Hell, Azazel's demon prince Jake Talley stood with them. His concubine smiled with unholy glee as they followed the orders he had given them. This moment would be their first strike. The sleeping community down below the dam had no idea they would never wake up in the morning. The power of pure demonic will poured into the concrete like a laser. Cracks began to form and the structure shook from the weight of the water behind it. With one last push of combined power the dam shattered and the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water behind the dam were set free all at once. The demons that could teleport transported themselves to a vantage point to watch the destruction while lesser demons simply abandoned their hosts and let them drowned in the rushing water. They laughed with unholy glee as thousands of people died and an entire valley was wiped off the map.
Sam sat up in bed gasping for breath. He was shaking and was covered in sweat. His head hurt and his heart was beating like he had just run a marathon. He tried to shake the horrible dream, but it had been so real. He nearly reached for his phone to call his father. It had been a very long time since he'd had any kind of nightmare related to hunting. But this felt different, it wasn't a memory of a hunt. It was almost like it was a vision.
He looked down at Jessica, sleeping peacefully next to him. The last time he's had dreams like that was right before the last time he's seen Dean. But then the dreams had stopped abruptly. He wasn't sure if it was because of the hex bag or not, but it had been a great relief to him.
Sam carefully got out of bed and checked the doors and windows. He hadn't felt the need to put salt lines on anything for years, but that night, he grabbed the box of salt from the pantry and put a thin line on every possibly entry way. He made a mental note to find the business card of the voodoo priest that made the hex bag and have a few more made up. He may be rusty, but he wasn't stupid.
The next morning, Sam was sitting in the kitchen getting ready to go to school when the Oroville Dam's collapse was reported. He just made it to the sink before he threw up his breakfast.
Dean lay on his stomach in a thick patch of underbrush. He was gazing through the high powered binoculars that were slung around his neck at the compound nestled at the far end of the valley. He was dressed head to toe in full camouflage. The weight of one of the strongest hex bags he's ever seen resting against his hip.
Through the lenses he could see dozens of people going about different tasks in and around a main building as well as several smaller structures. Walking amongst the people was a tall African American man with his arm slung over the shoulders of a petite blonde woman. “So that's him?” he asked. “He looks different somehow.”
“Yep,” came the soft reply next to him. “That's Jake Talley.”
“Good job, Roy.” Dean said. “I was starting to think we'd never find him.”
“Well after what happened in California,” Roy said softly. “Everyone started hunting harder for him.”
“I'm sorry about your sister's family,” Dean said.
“Thanks, Dean,” Roy said. “We've been tracking him for months. But after Wade got sick, it was hard to stay on his trail. Then they broke that dam...”
“Don't sweat it,” Dean assured him. “We've all been busy.” He looked through the binoculars again. “Who is that woman he is hanging all over?”
“A demon that goes by the name Ruby.” Roy said. “I'm not sure how powerful she is, but she plays a huge part in making the other demons tow the line. See that bonfire pit in the central area?”
“Yeah?” Dean replied, focusing on the circle of blackened bricks.
“Talley holds a kind of pep rally/royal court every week right there.”
“I've seen enough,” Dean said and they carefully pulled back into the safety of small clearing hidden by the thick brush before turning to follow a small trail. “How is Wade doing anyway?”
“Still weak, but getting better,” Roy sighed. “I can't believe he got sidelined from a damned tick bite. It's embarrassing.” They entered another clearing after walking over a mile, into the small camp that was Roy and Wade's base of operations. Wade was sitting in a small camping chair, in front of him was Castiel. Both men were dressed in camouflage, just like Dean and Roy. The change in wardrobe for his angel made Dean smile just a little. Castiel had his hands on Wade's head and his eyes were closed in deep concentration.
“I don't get it,” Dean said to Roy, his voice still low so as not to disturb Castiel's concentration. “What is the point of Talley playing Jim Jones to a bunch of demons.”
“I'm not sure, but I have to tell you, what ever Yellow Eyes' originally planned, Talley has got power in spades. I managed to get night vision footage of him ripping a demon clear out of its host's body with just his mind.”
Dean stared at him in disbelief. “You're serious?”
“As a heart attack.” Roy replied. “The demon smoke puddled on the ground and left a scorch mark where it had been. Poor bastard of a host was still alive and aware.”
“What happened to the host?”
“I thought they were just going to have the guy possessed by another demon, but they-” Roy looked sick. “Dean it was horrible. They killed him and then roasted the body on a spit like a pig. Then served him up like barbeque. Everyone in the compound had a share. Even the people that aren't possessed.”
“Jesus Christ.” Dean said in horror.
“Don't blaspheme, Dean,” Castiel said, as he pulled his hands away from Wade. “How does that feel?”
Wade blinked and lifted his arms out straight. “That is a lot better. I'm not shaking anymore.”
“Good.” Castiel walked over to Dean. “The nerve damage was extensive, but I was able to halt the progression and jump start the healing process.”
“That is fantastic.” Dean enthused. “We can't afford to loose anyone if we can help it.”
“Stupid Lymes Disease.” Wade sighed. “I had it once already when I was a teenager. I should have noticed the symptoms earlier, but we've been so busy.”
“Call Dean if you find you are having problems again.” Castiel said. “I will see if I can do more.”
“Thanks,” Wade replied, then turned to Dean. “You see Talley?”
“Yeah,” Dean replied. “No way to get to him in that place. Not that taking him out would solve our problems.”
“No, it would not.” Castiel agreed. “The number of demons let loose from the devil's gate were in the hundreds. There are perhaps a few dozen in that compound at the moment. Even if we were able to destroy every demon there, it would only reduce the threat by a small margin.”
“Too bad we can't stuff them all back into the gate.” Wade said. “Heard Singer was fixing Colt's trap. Maybe we build another one around this place, trap them all inside.”
Dean looked at Wade in surprise. “We would have to try and build it in secret. See if the ground is even suitable. One fault line or even a river through where it would have to be constructed would blow the whole idea.”
“Then all we'd need is the equivalent of a tactical nuke to drop on them.” Roy said with a laugh. “Know anyone with a anti-demon WMD?”
Castiel looked up into the sky. “Uriel could have done it,” he said quietly. “He destroyed Saddam and Gomorrah at our father's command. Though I doubt he would have been willing to help.”
“Somehow I think he was more into the destruction of humans than he was into following commands.” Dean suggested.
“He took great joy in destroying those two cities,” Castiel agreed. “I may be a warrior of God, but I never reveled in death.”
“That makes you a better angel.” Dean said. “A better person than he ever was.”
“Thank you, Dean.”
“Roy, Wade,” Dean turned to the two men. “You take care and don't get caught.”
“We'll be careful, Dean.” Wade said with a mock salute.
“I've heard that before.” Dean replied, but returned the salute with a smile before tossing the hex bag back to Roy. “We'll be in touch.” Then Castiel touched his shoulder and they were back at the cabin.
They had cleaned out most of the things they had collected over the last few months and taken it to Bobby's. All that was left was some food in the fridge and clothes that they were nearly finished packing up. The snow was nearly melted and Dean did not want to leave evidence of having been there long term. He walked over the to bar and poured himself a finger of scotch. He normally stuck with beer, but he needed something stronger today.
“You are troubled.”
“That attack in California,” Dean said. “It wasn't just some random act of destruction. Talley chose that dam for some reason.”
“I believe it was a test,” Castiel said. “To see if the demons would do his bidding. I am genuinely surprised that it has taken this long for them to strike.”
“They had goals in mind before, to break Seals.” Dean replied.
“But without the first Seal being broken all those plans were for naught.” Castiel agreed. “A good deal of time has passed since I rescued you, and they have only been able to find us once. Perhaps they are moving on from that plan and simply going for destruction for its own sake.”
“We're going to need more fire power then.” Dean admitted, looking at the Colt strapped to his hip. “The bullets we made for the Colt might work in other guns but only this baby can has the added kick to kill demons. Even if we could get just a couple of your brothers and sisters to work with us, it could turn the tide in this fight.”
“There might be a way to sway some to our side.” Castiel said. “But I have been very reluctant to bring it up as it could be very dangerous.”
“What is it?” Dean asked standing up straight.
Castiel closed his eyes and held out his hands. A moment later an ancient looking horn appeared, resting in his palms. It looked like it was carved from the horn of some kind of deer or antelope. With the same kind of chrome like metal that angelic blades were made from accenting the ends, creating a mouth piece and a trumpet flare.
Dean put down his drink and walked over to him. “What is that?”
“It is the Horn of Gabriel.” Castiel said. “It was a gift from Joshua.”
“Gabriel, the archangel?” Dean said with incredulity.
“Yes.” Castiel looked down at the horn. “No one has seen Gabriel in a long time.”
“What does it do?” Dean asked cautiously. He made no move to touch it.
“It can compel the truth from any within hearing.” Castiel said. “But it can also convey the truth of a subject to others over great distances.”
“So what is the catch?” Dean asked.
“First, it requires a significant amount of Grace to be used for it to work,” Castiel said. “And second every angel in all of creation will hear it. If we decide to use it, I might not be able to transport us to safety should enemies come rather than allies.”
“You said it could convey the truth,” Dean said. “Can you tell the host about Micheal's plan to jump start Judgment Day?”
“I think that is too complex a concept for the horn.” Castiel conceded.
“So keep it simple,” Dean suggested. “Just say that the Archangels are lying.”
A small smile Graced Castiel's lips. “That would certainly stir things up.”
“Do you want to try and use it now?” Dean asked.
Castiel looked at the horn with trepidation. “Perhaps not quite yet. I don't know if I'm ready to see any of my siblings yet.”
“Uriel really spooked you, didn't he?”
“If even one member of my garrison could be swayed by his arguments.” Castiel paused and shook his head. “He was trying to build an army of angels to fight with Lucifer. I do not think you can fully comprehend how disturbing it is to me that any of them would agree to it.”
“Maybe that is a symptom of a larger problem?” Dean suggested. “You disobeyed, Uriel was trying to do an end run around the Seals. Hell, even Michael is basically trying to pull a fast one on the entire Host. Of course, he is in charge of Heaven, who would question his motives? He sure as hell can't be happy with anyone thinking for themselves.”
“He would see any dissent as a threat to his plans.” Castiel nodded thoughtfully. “If my disobedience can be seen by Michael as being no better than Lucifer's. If Uriel's murder of my siblings is viewed in the same light, despite of my actions being sanctioned by God. The Archangels might believe that the entire garrison has somehow been tainted and decide to destroy them all.”
“Could he do that?” Dean asked, his gut clenched in dread at the thought of innocent angels being snuffed out because of their actions.
“It has never been done, but Archangels are fierce and more powerful than a dozen lower angels combined.” Castiel replied. “It would certainly be within his power to do so.”
“How many angels are in your garrison?” Dean asked, his eyes following the curved shape of the Horn.
“I can not say for sure, but no more than a hundred and fifty are left, between the Fallen, those murdered by Uriel, and the Lost.” Castiel said sadly.
“The Lost?” Dean looked back at Castiel and saw only sadness.
“It is similar to what happens when a Pagan God loses their power. An angel can, over time, drift away from the collective of the Host. If they are not brought back, either by their own force of will or by the intervention of another angel, they can fade away.” Castiel explained. “It is believed that is what happened to Gabriel.” He caressed the Horn absently.
“You sound like you're not so sure about that.” Dean tilted his head questioningly.
“After these past few months,” Castiel replied. “I'm not sure I believe anything I have been told since the time of the Romans. Which was the last time God became directly involved in the affairs of men and angels alike. I think that these doubts frighten me more than anything else.”
“Hey,” Dean stepped up to him. “If the remaining Archangels are all a bunch of self important douche bags, maybe it's time to let the rest of the Host know it.”
Castiel looked down at the horn again and nodded. “I suppose there is no better time than now.”
Dean cupped Castiel's chin in his hand and tilted his head up slightly for a soft kiss. “I'm with you, remember?”
“I know.” Castiel replied and then turned and walked outside to stand on the large deck. Dean stood inside his personal space, breathing slowly he allowed the energy between them to flow freely. They were both still unsure of this energy exchange, as they felt it most keenly when they were having sex.
“Ready,” Dean said and placed his hand on Castiel's shoulder. Castiel opened his wings and let the slight breeze ruffle his feathers.
Castiel nodded and took in a breath, placed the mouth piece to his lips and blew. The tone it produced was sweet and sad, but it wasn't heard in the ears. It was felt in the heart and soul. It resonated with truth and need and desperation. It called for help, it called for justice. He focused his thoughts on that moment in Perdition when he realized that Zachariah was not calling for more help. That instead of forcing their way farther and deeper into Hell to find Dean, the angels were holding a line and making no progress at all. The revelation of Joshua's words and that Castiel's saving of Dean was evidence of Father's Will, far more than Michael's plan's to start the Apocalypse were.
Distantly Castiel could hear Dean calling his name and he realized he had closed his eyes. Slowly he lowered the horn and set it on the ground. He was weak and trembling with fatigue. Dean was holding him tightly, his arms wrapped around his shoulders and it was that moment that he saw they were both on their knees feeling utterly exhausted.
“Didn't anyone ever tell you not to play with other people's toys.” A voice said from behind them.
Dean turned and his eyes widened with fear. His hauled Castiel to his feet and backed away from the angel that had spoken. “I think it's time to go, Cas.”
Castiel followed his gaze and stared in disbelief. The vessel was rather unremarkable, not very tall, with a slightly beaked nose and a pointed chin, longish brown hair a glint in his eyes gave him an impish look, but beneath the vessel was an archangel. One that had no been scene in a long time. “Gabriel,” he said softly.
Dean pulled on him harder and they were now facing the Archangel. Though Dean was still trying to get Castiel to retreat by dragging him backwards, they both stumbled in their mutual weakness.
“Hey, take it easy,” Gabriel said. “I'm not hear to hurt you.”
“You'll forgive me if I find that really hard to believe.” Dean growled. “We haven't exactly had the best relationship with angels.”
Gabriel was watching the two of them closely as Castiel finally found enough strength to pull himself to his full height. “I thought you were gone,” he said. “Michael said you were gone, lost.”
“Well big brother has been known to twist things around to suit his way of thinking.” Gabriel replied. “I have to say, I'm surprised at you Castiel, taking the initiative like you have.”
“I only did what was right.” Castiel replied, his eyes narrowed and looked his older brother over. “You have been away from the Host for thousands of years and yet your powers have not diminished. Where have you been?”
“Hiding as a Pagan God.” Gabriel blurted, then cursed in disgust. “Fucking horn!”
“Nice to see that hunk of tin and bone actually works.” Dean said with a smirk.
“A Pagan God?” Castiel looked scandalized. “Why?”
“Think of it as my own version of witness protection.” Gabriel replied. “I was so sick of listening to our family tear into one another. I just wanted some peace and quiet. Going Pagan gave me a power base I could tap into without having to use my Grace.”
“So you ran away.” Dean surmised. “How is that going for you?”
“It was going fine until my big brothers decided to start getting nasty.” Gabriel looked at Dean with narrowed eyes. “But as the Righteous Man, you would know all about that.” He reached out with his hand as though to touch him.
Suddenly Castiel was in between them, right up in Gabriel's face, his eyes blazing with anger. He gripped Gabriel's wrist tightly and energy crackled around them. “You will not touch my mate.”
“Bro, calm down, I wasn't going to hurt him.” Gabriel's eyes widened and he took several steps backward, to get some distance between himself and the pair.
“I do not trust any of my brethren when it comes to Dean.” Castiel replied. “Though we have been able to stay hidden for a long time, I know they are still hunting for us.”
“I don't think either of you will have to worry about that for much longer.” Gabriel said. “I mean Dean here isn't exactly fit to be the Micheal Sword anymore.”
“What do you mean?” Castiel demanded.
“You really don't know?” Gabriel stared at him. “Dean Winchester, son of John Winchester and Mary Campbell. First born son of the last of the line of Abel. This is pure prophecy, Castiel. Dean is supposed to be the Micheal's true vessel.”
“Wait,” Dean said, incredulous. “I'm a vessel?”
“Well, you were.” Gabriel tilted his head and smiled. “But someone upstairs made sure that things didn't go Micheal's way.”
“Father...” Castiel closed his eyes for a moment sending up a prayer of thanks.
“Probably,” Gabriel agreed. “He's also probably the one that tweaked the two of you into what you are now. And let me just say, whatever that is, it's interesting.”
“Explain this, Gabriel,” Castiel demanded, becoming impatient.
Gabriel's eye widened in disbelief. “Seriously? You don't know?”
“How could they know?” A soft voice said from the other end of the deck. “It's not like they've had anyone with them that could tell.” The three turned to see a petite red haired woman, she looked to be in her early 20s.
“Anael?” Castiel's voice was barely a whisper. “How are you here? You Fell.”
“Hello to you too, Castiel,” She gave Gabriel a wary look. “Gabriel.”
“Anael,” Gabriel nodded to her. “I see you have your Grace again.”
“I found it, after I remembered who I was.” Anael shrugged.
“How did you remember?” Gabriel said. “That doesn't normally happen to the Fallen.”
“I heard Castiel when he let the Host know that Dean was saved,” she explained. “I thought I was going crazy, so I went to a psychic for a reading and she helped me regain my memories. After that I started hunting for my Grace.”
“So, what now, you're another rebel angel?” Dean asked.
“Believe me, I would have been happier to stay mortal and die naturally,” Anael replied. “But after what Uriel tried to do, I knew I couldn't stay on the sidelines.”
Dean nodded thoughtfully, his eyes narrowed. “And who's side are you actually on?”
“I would think that was obvious.” Anael replied.
Dean snorted. “Lady, not so much.”
“Wait.” Gabriel lifted a hand. “What the hell did Uriel do?”
“Come on inside and we'll explain.” Dean said leading the way back into the cabin. “But first I need a drink.”
“I think I need several.” Castiel said, heading for the bar and opened a bottle of Jack Daniels. He grabbed a glass and poured some for Dean who sipped gratefully. He drank several long swallows straight from the bottle.
“Wow, Castiel,” Gabriel said watching him. “You think you might want to lay off the hard stuff?”
“No,” Castiel said solemnly taking another drink. “I can't imagine what Joshua was thinking giving me the Horn. If this is the help we are to receive.”
“Hey! How about a little respect,” Gabriel said, affronted. “I'm an Archangel.”
“Yeah, but are you actually going to help?” Dean demanded. “Or are you just here to whine about us using one of your toys?”
“The Horn isn't a toy.” Gabriel said haughtily.
“We did not use it on a whim,” Castiel countered. “The demons released from the Devil's Gate have made their first real move and we were wholly unprepared for it.”
“The collapse of the Oroville Dam?” Anael asked. “You were hoping to find help.”
“Yeah.” Dean confirmed. “We don't have the firepower to handle that many demons at once. Even if we had the entire ASH network together, there are only a handful of weapons that can take out a demon. It would be a slaughter.”
“You know, I think I'd slap our father if it were possible.” Gabriel said with annoyance.
“Father has nothing to do with this!” Castiel's tempter flared, his wings spread wide and energy crackled through the room. “Micheal, Raphael, and Zachariah are responsible. They are, knowingly or not, in collusion with Lucifer and the forces of Hell.” Outside the cabin, the sky darkened and lightning flashed. “You ran off, Anael Fell, Metatron has not been seen since Solomon's time, and Uriel tried to convert the garrison into following Lucifer.” Gabriel's look of astonishment only increased his anger, causing part of his true voice to emerge. “My mate is in constant danger from both sides of this conflict and I have been cut off from the song of the Host because I dared to do the right thing.” The light fixtures started spark and pop from all the excess power pouring off of him in his rage. “And the one thing I had that might help, brings me two beings that are least likely to stick their necks out to help anyone.”
“Now hang on a moment.” Anael protested, eyes widening with fear. “I came here to help.”
The sudden crash of thunder made Dean duck in reflex. He reached out and took his lover's hand in his. “Cas, I think you need to calm down a little.”
“Wha-?” Castiel looked around and saw what his anger hand wrought. “Oh!” A moment later the sky brightened and the wind died down. He touched Dean's cheek with his free hand and his lover leaned into the caress.
Gabriel gave them both a long speculative look. “So how long have the two of you been merging your essence?”
“Dude, that is a seriously personal question and none of your damn business.” Dean replied with a glare, reluctantly pulling away from Castiel's touch.
“Not so much, considering the immense display of raw power I just witnessed.” Gabriel waved his hands towards the windows. “You said it yourself, bro. You've been cut off from the Host, there is no way you should have access to that much power, much less be unaware of it.”
Dean and Castiel shared a look, they had not ever wanted to examine why the link between them worked. They had just been grateful that it had. Castiel turned to Gabriel and Anael and explained what had happened since he had rescued Dean from Hell.
** ** **
John drove west on route 70 through Colorado, normally he liked to avoid the major highways, especially the toll roads, as he believed the government could track his movements that way. However he needed to get across the states quickly this time. He had a hunt that sounded like a major problem in southern Idaho, and at the moment he was the closest hunter in the ASH network. He had been trying to keep contact with the few hunters he knew that were not part of the group yet, but a lot of them were either leery of John's connection to ASH.
John's cell phone rang as he drove up a steep incline, the truck's powerful engine having no problem with the change. He grabbed the phone and answered without looking at the caller. “This is John.”
“Dad!” Sam's voice was a shock after so long without contact. “What is going on with Dean?”
“Sam?” John blinked and looked around him. There was a rest area about a mile up the road, he could pull in there and talk without being distracted. “What's wrong?”
“What's wrong?” Sam parroted back. “I'll tell you what's wrong. I got a visit from the FBI last week. I mean the real FBI. They said Dean is wanted for murder.”
“Christ.” John cursed. “Hang on a minute, I need to pull over to have this conversation.”
“Fine,” Sam gritted out. “I'll call you back in five minutes.”
John managed to find a relatively isolated parking area, as he figured this would be a long conversation, before Sam called back. When the phone rang again he found himself reluctant to answer, but he knew that ditching Sam's call would only make things worse. “Sam.”
“What the fuck is going on?” Sam demanded again.
“Things are serious, Sam,” John admitted. “The murder charge is crap. A shape-shifter took Dean's form and tried to murder someone. Unfortunately by the time Dean took out the creature, the police had him as their prime suspect.”
“That isn't the only thing they told me.” Sam said. “They said he's some kind of insane serial killer or something and that he has a partner, some nut that thinks he is an angel.”
“I can't tell you everything.” John said.
“What? Why not?”
“One, there is stuff I refuse to say over an unsecured line. And two, Dean made me swear to leave you out of this.” John replied.
“Since when does Dean call the shots?”
“Sam,” John said with a warning in his tone. “Look, things have gotten bad, really bad. And your brother is smack dab in the middle of most of it.”
“Bad how?” Sam's tone was less angry and more curious.
“Are you sitting down?” John asked, a part of him could not believe that it had taken this long to finally tell his youngest son about this.
“We found the thing that killed your mother.” John said. There was a long silence on the other end, so long that John checked to make sure the call hadn't dropped. “Sam? Did you hear me.”
“I-I heard you.” Sam sounded wrecked. “How? When?”
“About a year ago.” John admitted. “It was a demon. A very powerful one.”
“A real demon? Not just something pretending to be one?” Sam asked.
“No, it was a true demon.” John said. “Dean organized a bunch of other hunters and they tracked it down. It had a human helping it try to open a Devil's Gate in Wyoming. Dean had a weapon, a special gun that can kill almost anything.” He still remembered that shot, the sound of the Colt going off resonated in the ear differently than any other firearm. He remembered seeing Azazel's eyes wide with shock and the flashes of power that lit the demon from within. He remembered the way the demon fell, with the bullet hole still smoking. The sense of triumph and completion that ran through him, the feeling that finally, finally, it was over. “The demon is dead. Dean killed it.”
“And you're just telling me this now?” Sam sounded stunned, and not a little hurt.
“Sam, you have to understand,” John explained. “It didn't end with the demon. He managed to get that devil's gate opened. Hundreds of demons were let loose on the earth. Most of the hunters I know have barely had a week go by when something nasty hasn't happened. But it's starting to get worse. You're in California, so you have had to have heard about the collapse of the Oroville Dam.”
“That was demons?” Sam asked shakily.
“Yes. I need you to promise me you will keep the fetish and the hex bags close.” John said. “And get one for your bride to be. There are things you don't know about. Things I won't talk about over this line. But you need to keep yourselves safe. Chances are that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.”
“You said Dean was in the middle of it.” Sam said. “Can you at least tell me about that?”
“I'm sorry Sam, I can't.” John replied. “Maybe before the wedding, I'd like to come by and visit, so that we have time to talk face to face.”
“Is he alright at least?” Sam asked. “I haven't talked to him in a long time.”
John shuddered at the question, his mind going back to the moment the hellhounds had torn his eldest son to pieces right in front of him. Missouri's words came back to him. “He destroyed himself for you.” Then seeing him again months later alive and restored. His hand clenched the phone as the image of Dean and the angel together, touching hands, staring into each others eyes. “He was fine the last time I saw him.”
“Dad,” Sam began and then stopped. “Alright, you'll come by before the wedding?”
“I will.” John promised. “It's still two months away. I'll come by in a week or so.”
“I guess I'll see to you then,” Sam replied.
“I'll talk to you then, son.” John ended the call and lowered his head to the steering wheel, taking in slow breaths as he forced the painful memories back to where he could look at them dispassionately. If he didn't he wouldn't be able to drive for the rest of the day.
** ** **
Gabriel finished his bottle of Jack Daniels in a few quick swallows. When he lowered the bottle he didn't look at all drunk. “Okay, seriously, this shit isn't cutting it.” He scanned around the bar for something stronger.
“You can't have mine.” Anael said, clutching a bottle of Everclear to her chest, she wasn't drunk either but looked like she desperately wanted to be.
Dean rolled his eyes at them. “I know I'm the ignorant mortal of the group,” he said to Castiel, ignoring the snort from the Archangel. “But could you please explain why these two suddenly want to go on a bender?”
“Because,” Castiel said with a sigh. “What has happened between us, should not be possible.”
“But you said, Joshua told you how to do it.” Dean replied.
“Which means Dad had a hand in this.” Gabriel interrupted them. “Only he has the Will to pull it off.”
“So?” Dean threw up is hands in frustration. “Explain it to me.”
“You aren't fully human anymore,” Anael said. “Assuming you ever really were.”
“Oh, that is an interesting thought.” Gabriel said, coming to stand entirely too close to Dean for his comfort. “As Micheal's true vessel, you'd have to be extraordinary. My vessel, was amazingly strong in mind and body. If I hadn't gotten him to say 'Yes', he could have gone on to be one of the greatest leaders of his clan, but for all of that, there is no way he could have withstood being a conduit for the level of energy that the two of you are sharing. Have you been able to do something humans shouldn't?”
“Uriel.” Dean replied. “I killed Uriel with his own sword.”
“Um, wow.” Gabriel actually transported himself to the other side of the room. “You can kill an angel? That is some serious shit.” He paced the room for a few minutes looking thoughtful.
“But I got stabbed in prison.” Dean protested. “I nearly died.”
“But that was before we really tried to connect that way.” Castiel realized. “I have been growing stronger ever since.”
“And neither of you considered what the side effects might have been?” Gabriel asked with incredulity.
“Well excuse us, if we were a little distracted by hiding from the entire planet.” Dean shot back. “Because not only have we been hunted by the forces of Heaven and Hell, but the fucking FBI has been on our trail for months.”
“The fact that we have successfully hidden for so long most likely kept the army of Hell from actually attempting anything like the Oroville Dam, until now.” Castiel said.
“The Azazel's Boy-king had to make a show of power or lose control to one of the greater demons that now roam the Earth.” Anael said. “And in this time, you both have grown in strength and power, but since you haven't actually been in combat, no one knows how strong you are. Not even yourselves.”
“We've been sparring together.” Dean admitted. “But it's hard to tell. I might be physically stronger than I should be.”
“And faster?” Gabriel asked.
“Possibly.” Castiel replied. “He doesn't bruise like he used to, but I thought I was just better at gauging my blows.”
“You know, hiding like you have been, probably gave your bodies the time they needed to adjust.” Gabriel said.
“But adjust to what?” Dean felt like he was missing the point. “I don't feel any different from when Cas brought me back to life.” It had been thirty long terrible years in Hell, so he really couldn't remember what his body had felt like before he died.
“Adjust to whatever it is you are becoming.” Gabriel sighed. “You're not human, not a normal one anyway. Castiel isn't a normal angel, not anymore. Neither of you are Gods, in the Pagan way.”
“But you are becoming something.” Anael agreed, her expression speculative.
Dean tensed, losing his humanity was a fear he's always had when it came to hunting. He thrust the thought aside and focused on the more important issue. “How does this help us fight the army of Hell?”
“Well for one, I'm pretty sure you can stop hiding from all but the strongest demons.” Gabriel said with a cocky grin. “And angels? If you could take out Uriel. I'd bet even money that Castiel could take on anyone short of Lucifer or Michael himself and come out on top.”
“Surely you jest.” Castiel said, looking shocked. “Dominations can not take on Archangels.”
“Hey, I've been playing the role of a trickster god for a long time. I jest all the time,” Gabriel admitted. “But I would never kid about something like this. There is a lot more to you now, little brother. The fact that you used the Horn and were powerful enough to effect the weather less than an hour later is a testament to that.”
“Speaking of the Horn,” Dean said. “I'm kind of disappointed that no one else has shown up.”
“Don't be,” Anael said. “Most of the other garrisons would have to find vessels to come here, and that takes time. I doubt they will bother, as the real question becomes, having learned the truth, will they risk themselves to openly question Zachariah?”
“What exactly did the Horn say?” Dean asked. “Cas was trying to make it as simple a message as possible.”
“Oh you know, just that it's Michael and Lucifer that want to start the apocalypse, not God.” Gabriel grinned. “You didn't need to say anything else because as blindly obedient as angels may be, they aren't stupid. Right now, there are whispers within the song. You did good, bro.”
“I wish I could hear it.” said Castiel with a sigh. “We will have to leave soon. I doubt Zachariah will wait much longer to attack us, now that he knows where we are.”
“It's too bad. This place is nice.” Anael said looking around.
“Yeah.” Dean looked around wistfully. “We've been squatting for the last five months. But the snow is just about melted. No sense in risking getting caught.”
“Where will you go?” Anael asked.
“For now, back to Singer Salvage.” Castiel replied. “The house and property are well warded.”
“Oh! Tell Bobby I said 'Hi'.” Gabriel said with a grin.
“You know Bobby?” Dean asked, surprised.
“Yeah,” he smirked. “Spent two weeks making him and his old hunting partner Rufus completely nuts back in the 80's. Ask him about the hunt he did at Princeton University. He might just turn purple on you.”
Dean blinked at that. “You know, I'm not sure I want to know.”
Both Gabriel and Anael lifted their heads to look upward. “Time for you two to go.” Anael said.
“Yeah,” Gabriel agreed. “Old Zach is coming down with a posse to take you out. We'll run interference.”
“Cas?” Dean said, as he ran and grabbed their bags of clothes from the bedroom. “I'm not leaving her here.”
“We'll get her.” Castiel promised. He grabbed Dean's hand and a moment later they were in the garage, sitting in the front seat of the Impala. A high pitched whine filled the air and Dean looked out the windshield to see a glowing figure begin to materialize in front of them. “Hold on.” Castiel said and then they were on the side of the road, the Impala bounced once on its shocks.
“Holy crap.” Dean gasped. “Was that Zachariah?” It took a moment to realize they were about an hour's drive way from Bobby's house.
“Yes,” Castiel said. “He was coming down without a vessel. He must have been desperate to capture us.” He was looking Dean over, checking for damage.
“That noise, his voice,” Dean said. “It didn't hurt.”
“That is good,” Castiel said with a sigh of relief. “At least we know you are not vulnerable in that way.”
“Or I'm seriously a lot less human than I was.” Dean muttered, his hands white knuckling the steering wheel.
Castiel gently touched his shoulder. “Dean.” His voice was laced with sorrow. “You are angry.”
Dean turned and tried to smile. “Not at you.” he reassured. “It's just hunter's instinct that things that aren't human or fully human can't be trusted. I just need to get used to this.”
“There are special humans that can hear angelic voices without harm.” Castiel said. “My vessel was one of them. Seeing an angel without a vessel and not coming to harm is extraordinary. If not for your exceptionalism you could have been killed just now.”
Dean nodded trying to see the bright side of this. “Crap! We left the Horn behind.”
“It is of little import now,” Castiel assured him. “It did what we had hoped. Gabriel is a powerful ally and Anael while not nearly as powerful, could prove useful.”
“Can't Michael use it against us?” Dean asked.
“No,” Castiel said. “It can not force someone to believe something that is false. It can only convey truth. Besides, I doubt Gabriel would leave it for Zachariah to find.”
Dean put the keys into the ignition and turned over the engine. Despite all the weeks his baby had been sitting in that garage, the Impala roared to life without a protest. He pulled out onto the road and turned on the radio. It felt good to just drive along the open road with someone he loved at his side. “One thing I need to ask, and I didn't say anything earlier because it was a little off topic.”
“Anything, Dean.” Castiel looked at him for a moment and turned to watch the world roll by.
“Gabriel said I was supposed to be Michael's true vessel.” Dean said. “Jimmy is your vessel, but you made it sound like you had other options.”
Castiel looked down at his hands before speaking. “Vessels are rare. Most of them are descended from very specific family bloodlines. Dominion angels can be housed in any number of those lines. It is personal preference and location that usually determines which vessel an angel will approach. But for Archangels it is different. A vessel has to be very strong in order to contain their power.”
“If the Apocalypse had started,” Dean asked. “Would Michael have approached me?”
“I think approached is a very gentle description of what would happen to you.” Castiel admitted. “Most likely Zachariah would try to find some way to compel you to say 'yes' without giving you all the information you deserved.”
“And what happens to me?” Dean asked. “No offense but life as an angel condom doesn't sound like a hell of a lot of fun.”
“There would be no you.” Castiel said, his eyes downcast. “Michael's glory would probably overwhelm you. Between the terrors of the Pit and his own influence, even as strong as you are, I doubt you would be able to withstand the stress. If Michael were merciful enough to let you go afterward, most likely, you would be driven insane.”
“Holy crap.” Dean muttered with a shuddering breath.
Castiel looked at Dean, his expression one of pure determination. “I would never allow that to happen to you. Even if I were not cut off from the host, even if you were not my mate. You deserve more from this existence than that.”
Dean reached over and took Castiel's hand in his. “Thank you.”
Gabriel pulled Anael close to him and wrapped a cloak around them to hide their Grace. “Stay close to me.” He held himself still and quiet and gave her a warning look that he hoped she understood meant for her to do the same. Cloaking himself like this was second nature after all these centuries, he didn't even need to use much power to accomplish it.
Gabriel could see the half dozen angels surrounding the house. All of them seemed focused on their goal, each one had a vessel. He was shocked to realize that Zachariah was manifesting without a vessel. That was a serious breach of God's law as it could cause untold harm to any living creature in range. Only desperation could have caused this sort of action in the highly full of himself Seraphim.
He felt it the moment Castiel escaped from the garage and was impressed that his little brother had the ability to move the automobile with such ease. “Hey Zack,” Gabriel called out as a distraction, using just enough angelic voice to get his attention. “Enough with the light show. You aren't impressing anyone.”
“Who said that?” Zachariah demanded, moving through the walls of the house, causing small fires to break out as the electrical service became supercharged in his passing.
Gabriel smiled as the lesser angel came nearer. “Has it really been that long, that you don't recognize family?” He released the iron grip he had on his Grace and exploded from his vessel into his true form. The dozens of pairs of wings expanded outward until he encompassed the breadth of the building. All the windows shattered in a release of energy that sent several of the Dominations ducking for cover. He used several layers of wings to keep Anael hidden from view, not that any of the other angels would have noticed her at this moment. “How's it hanging, you sanctimonious toady?”
“Gabriel?!” Zachariah gasped in disbelief.
“Hi honey.” Gabriel's grin was all aggression. “I'm home.” He moved forward, forcing Zachariah to give way. “You've been a naughty little angel, Zach. You know that, right?”
“I am doing the Will of Heaven.” Zachariah replied, trying stand his ground and failing.
“Oh? So trying to force Dean Winchester back into Hell because he didn't break the Seal is God's Will?” Gabriel said with mock confusion. “Funny I got the impression that Dad wanted Dean out of Perdition as he was rescued in a timely fashion by one of our garrison's finest angels.”
“Michael has decreed that Castiel is a traitor to the Host.” Zachariah snarled. “He has been cut off from the Song and has no standing.”
“And yet, he still lives.” Gabriel circled him. “And is still strong enough evade you and your cronies. Did you ever consider that Father might have had a hand in that?”
“God has left the building.” Zachariah declared. “Michael is in charge of Heaven, his word is law.”
“Are you sure about that?” Gabriel asked. “Because I have to say, Castiel's success seems to point to divine intervention. Because a Domination does not have the juice to traverse Hell alone. Yet he rescued the Righteous Man and came out the other side pure and untainted.”
“The signs and portents point to the end of days.” Zachariah retorted. “Raphael made sure that the bloodlines would mingle so that the true vessels would be born in this time.”
“Thank you for confirming what I thought. Michael and Raphael,” He sighed. “So focused on the end game, they didn't realize that they are being played themselves.”
“We must obey our orders.” Zachariah insisted, his voice rising as though to remind those listening.
“Bullshit.” Gabriel replied. “Sending a rescued soul back to Hell on orders from Michael for the express purpose of trying to start the Apocalypse is a sure fire way to gain God's wrath.” He laughed at the looks of horror his words garnered from the angels around them. “Dad has given you and the rest of the Host just enough rope to hang yourselves with, and you're all clambering over each other to grab on to the noose.”
“You'll sing a different tune when we win and achieve Paradise.”
“Enough, Zachariah.” Gabriel said. “Leave Castiel and Dean in peace. Go back to Michael and tell him his Apocalypse will happen over my dead body.” With a flex of his power he sent Zachariah back to Heaven. He then turned his attention to the lesser angels around him. “As for the rest of you. There is an entire army of demons running loose and you've all done squat about it. For once in your lives, think for yourselves and do the right thing.” He grabbed Anael with a tendril of Grace and transported them both away from the now brightly burning luxury cabin. He felt a pang of regret at the loss, he had a feeling Castiel had liked the place.
** ** **
“I ought'a have my head examined.” Bobby said as he let the gathering of hunters into his house. He wasn't supposed to be having the bi-monthly meeting of ASH at his place. It was supposed to be at the Roadhouse bar. Unfortunately, Ellen had recently been visited by the FBI, asking questions about Dean. The chances were quite good that she and Jo were being watched right now. So having the meeting there was not a good idea. Having it at his house wasn't any better, because his house was not that big.
On the bright side, he had managed to sell some of his older wrecks to a recycling company, so there was enough space for the idjits to park within the warded fence. He heard the distinct sound of a diesel engine and looked out the door to see a familiar RV pull up to the side of the road.
“Balls,” Bobby muttered as Ezekiel Kubrick climbed out of his camper. He thought Zeek was a good hunter, excellent in fact, but he was way too much of a “man of God” for Bobby's comfort. Things had not gone well the last time they had been in the same room together.
“Alright, which one of you Bozos invited Kubrick?” Bobby demanded of the assembled group.
“I did,” Rufus said, his head in a defiant tilt. “Just because he's a Jesus Freak, doesn't disqualify him from joining our club house.”
“Fine.” Bobby sniped. “But if he causes trouble in my house, I reserve the right to toss him out on his ass.”
“Fair enough.” Rufus replied. “Shall we start?” Bobby waved a 'go ahead' at him and Rufus sighed. “Fine I'll get things moving.” He turned to the group of a dozen hunters and researchers, and paused as Kubrick was let in the door. “Ladies and gentlemen, I'm Rufus Turner. Most of you know me and some of you don't. Before we get into anything, those of you that have been to one of these meetings know the drill.” Several of them grumbled and pulled open shirts or rolled up sleeves to expose the anti-possession tattoo. One man pulled out a medallion of the same design. “Good, now everyone that doesn't have the tattoo or medallion, belly up to the table here and drink.”
“What's with the water?” Kubrick asked after he took a drink.
“That's holy water you just swallowed.” Bobby told him. “No demon has gotten past the protections on this house yet, but we aren't taking any chances.”
“I heard you were organizing hunters.” Kubrick said. “I had no idea you were this thorough.”
“Standard procedure for the network. If we get sloppy, even once, we could all be dead.”
“Okay, so what is the deal?” Kubrick asked, as he settled back against the wall where he had been standing.
“The quick and dirty 411,” Bobby began. “A demon opened a Devils Gate out in Wyoming, let out a couple hundred of his nearest and dearest. We've been tracking them as best we can, taking out a few at a time when they can be found alone or in small manageable groups.”
“Hundreds?” Kubrick went white. “I'd heard about a gate being opened, but I had no idea.”
“Yep.” Bobby eyed him. “Fortunately a bunch of us were on hand to shut the gate just after it was opened, otherwise it would have been more.” He explained about the kids with psychic abilities and how they were all dead except for Talley. He also explained how the demons were an army and were supposed to kick start the Apocalypse.
“So we really are facing the Apocalypse?” Kubrick asked, his eyes wide with wonder.
“Not yet we ain't.” Bobby said hotly. “The first Seal ain't broken and the demons can't do anything until it does.”
“So what is the first Seal?” Kubrick asked.
“That isn't important.” Bobby said.
“It seem to be a really important detail to me.” Kubrick said with narrowed eyes.
“Well, seeing as you ain't part of our little club yet,” Bobby retorted. “You don't get the secret decoder ring. If you decide to join up, you'll get more information.”
“We can tell you that the Seal is protected.” Rufus said, his eyes locking with Bobby's. “And the chances of the demons getting it to break now are about a million to one.”
The meeting continued for over an hour, going through events of the last month. A list of monsters killed, ghosts taken care of and demons exorcized was made. There were reports of demonic omens all over the country, but nothing that showed signs of another big strike like the one in California. Bobby was surprised when he heard the distinct sound of a muscle car pulling into his driveway. He looked out the window and was shocked to see Dean and Castiel climb out of the Impala. They were both wearing deep woods camouflage and Dean had the Colt in a gun belt at his hip.
“Dean?” he called from the porch. “What are you doing here?”
“We were in the neighborhood,” Dean said with a shrug. “Thought we'd drop by. I didn't know you were having a meeting here.”
“Ellen had some unwanted visitors last week, we figured we'd move the meeting here instead.”
“We've got some news to share.” Dean's expression was grim.
“Well, come on in.” Bobby said impatiently. “Don't leave us in suspense.”
Dean greeted the hunters with nods and tight smiles. Castiel followed him closely, his manners still stiff and not quite normal, but he no longer carried himself with in a way that immediately marked him as inhuman. Bobby offers them each a drink, which they both accept.
“We were just about to wrap things up and get to social hour.” Rufus said, sounding peevish.
“Social will have to wait a bit,” Dean said and told the about what Wade and Roy had discovered.
“So what is it that is giving Talley all that mojo?” Bobby asked.
“I don't know.” Dean sighed. “But I'm thinking it has something to do with that skanky bitch that he has hanging all over him.”
“At least we know where he is.” Rufus replied.
“We have some other good news.” Dean said, he glanced at Castiel, who nodded. “As some of you know, Cas here isn't from these parts, and hasn't been in touch with his family for a while. Because of the crap we've learned recently, we decided to take a risk and made a call for help.”
“You what?” Bobby stared at him. “What'd you do a dumb-ass move like that for?”
“Hey,” Dean glared at his friend. “You didn't see that compound. We've got a snowballs chance of dealing with that many demons without some major assistance.”
“Fine.” Bobby huffed. “So what happened?”
“My brother, Gabriel, has agreed to help.” Castiel said. “Though how much help he will give us, I am uncertain. But he does not wish for the Apocalypse to occur any more than I. Also my sister Anael is willing to help, but she is as estranged from our family as I am, so she must be careful.”
“Gabriel,” Rufus stared at Castiel. “As in the Gabriel.”
“Yes,” Castiel nodded once. “He said to tell you and Bobby 'Hi'.”
“Hi?” Bobby started and glanced at Rufus. “I think I would remember if I'd met him.”
“He said he was playing a Trickster God at the time.” Castiel replied. “In Princeton.”
Bobby could feel his face turning beet red. That job had been one of the reasons he and Rufus didn't work together anymore. It was less animosity and more uncomfortable embarrassment. Just thinking about what the trickster god had put them through was enough to make him squirm.
“Wow,” Dean stared at the two men as they went through several shades of red. “He said you might turn purple.”
“That can't be, we killed that thing.” Rufus stated firmly.
Castiel snorted trying to hide a small smile. “More like he let you to think you killed him.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Kubrick demanded. He looked like he was about five seconds from pulling a gun or maybe tossing holy water on the entire room.
“Who is this guy?” Dean asked, giving him an assessing look.
“Ezekiel Kubrick.” Castiel said. “A devout man, but also a man dedicated to the hunt.”
Kubrick looked more than a little freaked out. “And who are you?”
“I know that name.” Kubrick said taking a step back. “You're... you're an... ”
Dean rolled his eyes. “Yes, Cas is an angel. Stop freaking out.”
“But...” Kubrick stammered. “If the angels are here on earth, then isn't it the end times?”
“No,” Castiel said fiercely. “And so long as I have the will, it shall not come to pass.” Kubrick swallowed hard, his eyes wide with fear and wonder.
“Anyway,” Dean interrupted, worried that the man was about to fall to his knees. “We have two issues to deal with. The first is that the demons have stepped up their game. So now we have to look forward to situations with mass casualties. We have to get more eyes looking for signs and omens.” The hunters in the room nodded. “The second is that Talley's compound is big enough and there are enough demons there that a surgical strike against him, is nearly impossible.”
“So what are the options?” Rufus asked. “Seeing as you have the divine club house membership.”
“How are the repairs going on the Colt trap?” Dean asked Bobby, ignoring Rufus for the moment.
“The last pieces of track were repaired last month.” Bobby replied. “I called that friend of yours Father Reynolds. He called the Vatican and they sent a passel of priests over to sanctify the ground and the tracks themselves. Demons won't be able to get back in there for a long time, if ever.”
“Fantastic.” Dean said with a smile. “We don't need another influx of demons into this fight. What is already on the ground is bad enough.”
“Gabriel could reduce that compound to ash,” Castiel said thoughtfully. “Unfortunately the energy required, takes time to build up. The moment the demons realize what he is there to do, the ones that can, will flee.”
“So we need to keep them there.” Dean said. He pulled out a small hand drawn map and stared down at it. “We need a topographical map for the area around the compound.”
“You want to build a Devil's Trap around a bunch of demons without them noticing?” Rufus asked.
“It's a thought.” Dean said. “But we are looking at a massive amount of work.”
“Dean,” Bobby shook his head. “That is crazy, do you know how much iron you would need for that?”
“Actually no,” Dean admitted. “Because, one Wade suggested it only this morning, and two, I haven't had more than a few hours to even think about it.”
Rufus sighed and looked around the room at the other hunters that were quietly listening in on the exchange. “Okay people, looks like we have our homework assignments. Start looking into a quick and dirty way to make a Devil's Trap big enough to hold a town, without getting caught.”
“As the demons have decided to attack infrastructure to cause massive damage,” Castiel added. “See if it is possible to ward the major structures that you know of.”
“Without getting arrested for trespassing.” Dean amended.
“Beer is in the cooler and sandwiches are in the fridge.” Bobby told the assembled group. “And take it outside, it isn't cold today. I'm not letting you all get food on my books.”
Dean smirked at the grumbling hunters as they all went outside to be social. “Kubrick damn near had an aneurism.”
“He is a man of faith.” Castiel said. “A rare thing amongst hunters.” He followed the movements of the man in question as he went from one hunter to the other asking questions.
“He is also nutty as a fruitcake half the time.” Bobby retorted.
“He can't be crazier than Gordon Walker.” Dean replied. “By the way, is his car still here? I promised him that we'd take care of it until he got back.”
Bobby rolled his eyes. “Yes, it's here. In the parts garage, right where it's been all this time.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Rufus demanded.
“If you happen to run in to Walker, tell him his car is here.” Dean said with what he tried to pass off as an innocent expression.
“You stole Walker's car?” Rufus was horrified. “Are you nuts?”
“No,” Castiel said. “We did not, in fact, steal his car. We simply put it where it would not get stolen.”
“Technically,” Dean said, with a slight smile. “We kidnapped him and stuck him on a tropical island. I figure he'll manage to get home soon, unless he gets arrested for traveling without a passport.”
“You what?” Rufus managed to say after a moment of stunned silence.
Bobby looked at Rufus and just shook his head. There was no point in arguing with Dean when he did this kind of thing. He was, at heart, a good kid, but he had a mischievous streak that could put a Trickster God to shame. Angelic assisted mischief only meant the scale of the prank could be much larger.
“He was in serious need of a vacation.” Dean shrugged. “It was that or kill him.”
Ezekiel pulled up along side an abandoned house, ten miles south of Bobby Singer's place. He felt had had his entire world view turned on its head. Gordon had told him that Dean Winchester was in league was unnatural forces, had nearly convince him that the young man was an agent of evil. He had been ready to take out Winchester at the first sign of demonic influence. Now he had to tell Walker that he had it wrong and he wasn't looking forward to that at all.
He pulled some sandwiches and beer from the fridge and brought them into the house where Gordon was waiting. “Gordon, I brought you some lunch.”
“I'm not hungry.” Walker said. He was sitting on a window seat facing the main entrance, a borrowed pistol in his hand.
“Too bad,” Ezekiel said handing him the one of he wrapped sandwiches. “Eat or I won't tell you what I found out.”
Gordon gave him a glare, but slowly started to eat. “Happy now?”
“Fine, now talk.” Gordon demanded.
“It isn't quite what we thought.”
“How do you mean?” He asked sitting up straighter.
“Winchester was a Singer's place.” Ezekiel said.“It's not demons, it's angels.”
“What?” Gordon put down his sandwich.
“I saw it.” he replied. “The creature that dropped you on that island, Castiel. It wasn't a demon, it was an angel.”
“There ain't no such thing as angels.” Gordon said with a viscous glare.
“I looked up his name, the first time you called me,” he replied. “It took me a week and calling in a favor at the Vatican archives, but the name matches a very obscure but known angel. He's here to stop the Apocalypse.”
“I don't believe it.”
“Gordon,” Ezekiel glared back. “You listen to me. We've got a lot of history and I respect your instincts when it comes to vampires. But this here, you've got it wrong. If the Lord has seen fit to send his messengers down and work with Dean Winchester, then we need to listen to the message he is sending.”
“No,” Gordon started pacing. “No way.”
“Come on man, calm down.”
“They let a vamp nest go!” Gordon growled. “You don't ever let one vamp go, let alone a whole nest.”
“I checked that town,” Ezekiel said. “I know what you said, but there hasn't been anything pointing to vampires or anything else in the area. They are just like every other struggling mill town up and down the state. They are working to keep food on the table and survive until tourist season starts again in the national parks. If there is a nest, they aren't hunting. I can't hunt something that I can't find evidence of.”
“Dammit.” Gordon slumped down on the window seat again.
There was a long silence in which neither of them spoke, that was interrupted by Kubrick's cell phone ringing. He huffed and pulled the phone from his pocket. “Yeah?” He listened quietly for a minute. “Thanks Rufus. I'll let him know if I see him.” He sent up a small prayer of thanks as he ended the call.
“What was that about?”
“Rufus Turner, Bobby Singer's mentor.” Ezekiel said. “He knows I'm a friend of yours.”
“And he wanted me to tell you that your stuff is at Singer Salvage.”
“Your stuff,” Ezekiel repeated. “Weapons, clothes, ID, and that car. They are in storage, waiting for you to pick them up, once you get back from your 'vacation'.”
“Son of a bitch.” Gordon growled. “I should kill him just for messing with my stuff. Hunters need to respect each other.”
“Hey, I'm not gonna disagree with you there. The Winchesters have always been a different breed of hunter. But he could just as easily left your car to be impounded and sold at auction by the police.”
“So what? I should be grateful?” Gordon sneered, though he looked just worn out as well.
“No, but before you get it in your head to get some payback. Maybe you should remember that Dean's got a real life guardian angel at his side. One that literally dropped you into the middle of nowhere. He could just as easily dropped you on top of Mt. Everest or in the middle of the Sahara desert.” Kubrick let out a sigh of relief when he saw Gordon slump dejectedly against the window seat. He wasn't foolish enough to think that Walker wouldn't try something, but for now, it looked like the man would wait.
** ** **
The house was one of those McMansions, third from the left on the col-d-sac in a small. The exclusive street that only held five houses in total, with large yards and lots of expensive looking landscaping. The grass was cut, the sprinklers were going, and mail man made his daily rounds without fail. It looked like everything was normal.
Dean watched the old man walk to his mail box and look around the empty street with forlorn eyes. There was an air of desperation and fear to the way he carried himself. Like it was all he could do to not run screaming down the street. He didn't blame the guy, considering what he had probably witnessed in the last week.
“Is it just me or does the entire street smell like sulfur and death?” he asked quietly.
“It is not you. There are a dozen corpses in those buildings.” Castiel replied. “The only survivors are in the house the man came out of.” His expression stoney but the air fairly crackled with raw power. “There are another four demons patrolling the edges of the street, ready to kill anyone that gets too close.”
“You're seriously pissed off here, Cas,” Dean said. “What's the deal?”
“The demon here. Lilith.” Castiel said. “She is very powerful.”
“Can you take her?” Dean watched his lover carefully.
“I don't know, I will try.” Castiel looked like he was debating over saying something.
“Tell me.” Dean said softly.
“She and Azazel worked in concert to attain the Righteous Man's soul. She held your contract and it was her hellhound that killed you.”
Dean's gut clenched, he hadn't known that. “This isn't about pay back, this is about saving anyone that might be left alive in that house.”
“Yes.” Castiel agreed. “We should remove the lesser demons before taking on Lilith.”
Dean pointed at a possessed woman, that was coming toward their hiding place. It wouldn't take more than a shout to alert the other demons to their presence. She passed a hedge row and was just out of sight of the house when Dean moved. He reached out, grabbed her wrist, and yanked her toward him. His free hand came up and covered her mouth. Castiel helped him pull the demon to the ground and slammed his hand into her forehead. Her black eyes suddenly flashed with white light and she slumped to the ground.
Dean checked her for a pulse and nodded when he felt one. “One down.”
Castiel tilted his head, listening. “We need to move to the other side of the house.”
“Ready.” Dean only had a moment before they transitioned, and the next demon, an average looking guy in a tweed jacket, was right next to them. Again, Dean muzzled their target, though the take down took a little more effort. The demon struggled and kicked, trying to get free enough to shout. Castiel grabbed him and the light flared again, destroying the demon within.
Castiel was grabbed from behind, the demon wearing a teenager in Gothic make-up tried to snap his neck, only to find him immovable. Castiel turned to face her, his impassive expression more frightening than anger would be on his beautiful face. He grabbed her with both hands on either side of her head as he burned to demon out of the body.
The sound of running alerted them to the last demon on the move. Dean saw the last remaining demon heading for the house at speed. He reached into his jacket and pulled out the angel sword he now carried at all times, threw it at the demon's back. The blade's arch was higher than he intended, wanting center mass, but the blade hit through the neck. The demon in a soccer mom made a choked sound as the blade flared with power before the body fell to the ground.
Dean looked around for any more outside targets before retrieving the blade. “Holy crap.” he muttered softly as Castiel returned to his side. “I can't believe that worked.”
“We will have to experiment later.” Castiel replied. He turned to the house and saw a woman in her late 30's looking out the window at them. She wasn't possessed, but she looked worn thin and terrified. He placed a finger to his lips in hopes that she would not alert the rest of the occupants of the house. A moment later they were standing inside the house on either side of the woman. Dean covered her mouth to keep her from screaming. “Where is she?” Castiel asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
“I-in the living room with my husband.” Tears started to stream down her face. “That isn't my daughter, I don't know what it is.”
“We know.” Dean said, pulling out a small bag from his jacket. “Now we need you to go into the nearest closet and lock yourself in and pour this salt over the doorway.”
“But, my family?” She asked as she took the bag in shaking hands.
“We will save as many as we can.” Castiel assured her. “But you need to stay safe.”
As soon as the woman shut the closet door, Dean and Castiel moved forward. In the dining room, they saw two bodies, both elderly. One had been dead for a few days, the other was the man that they had seen retrieving the mail.
They could both feel the dark energy coming off Lilith in waves from farther down the hall and the laughter of a little girl. There was a puff of air near the doorway, leading into the living room, and a growl that came from no where. Dean felt his whole body freeze in fear. There was no mistaking that sound. “Cas, go, I've got this.”
“Dean,” Castiel protested.
“Go.” Dean commanded and pulled the Colt from its holster. He couldn't actually see it with his eyes, but he could feel it. He retreated down the hall, making himself the obvious target. The hellhound charged him and he aimed as best he could. The shot was startlingly loud after trying to be stealthy all night. Dean hadn't missed a target with a firearm since he was ten years old. His aim was true as the bullet hit, he saw an outline of a vaguely canine shape creature flare and flash. It yelped in pain, then collapsed to the ground. A black body that consisted of bones, scales, and razor sharp teeth and claws appeared on the floor then crumbled into a pile of ash.
Castiel entered the living room, his eyes landing on Lilith in the body of a six year old girl with golden blonde hair. She was sitting on the back of a man that was probably the girl's father. The man had a leather collar around his neck and metal bit in his mouth that was attached to a set of reigns. Lilith jerked the reigns back hard enough to cut into flesh as she road him around the room in a sick parody of playing horsey. “Faster, Daddy,” she ordered. “I want to go faster.” She was using a large metal spoon as a riding crop, beating the man with it when he slowed down.
On the far side of the room was a young man, not quite two decades old. He was hanging by his arms from a rope that was tied to a ceiling fan. He looked like he had been whipped repeatedly on his back and legs. His eyes were closed, but he was breathing.
Castiel tackled Lilith from behind, pulling her off the man, and throwing her across the room away from the humans. She screamed in surprise as she hit the far wall breaking furniture as she went. The man collapsed to the floor, sobbing, but Castiel had no time to check him as Lilith stood, her eyes white and burning with power.
“Who dares you interrupt my play time?” She said, enraged by the attack.
“A servant of the Lord.” Castiel declared, manifesting his sword.
“You are out of your league angel.” She said.
“That may have been the case at one time.” Castiel said, placing himself between Lilith and her human victims. “But I'm not playing by the old rules.” He raised his hand and pushed the small body she inhabited against the wall. She wasn't struggling or acting upset, just bored and annoyed.
The sound of a gun shot and the yelp of pain from the hellhound made her turn in surprise. “What-?”
“Release the child!” Castiel commanded. “And I will simply return you to Hell. If you force my hand I will destroy you.”
Lilith sneered at him. “I can't be banished by one lesser angel like you.”
“Maybe not,” Castiel conceded. “But then I'm not alone.” Dean entered the room, the Colt trained on Lilith.
“Winchester,” Lilith hissed, her posture changed as she looked from one to the other. “So you're the little angel that could? How is that Fall working for you?”
Castiel blinked slowly, and the lights in the room began to flicker. “What makes you think I have Fallen in any way?”
The burning whites replaced with bright blue baby eyes. “Please don't hurt me, I'm just a little girl.”
Dean shuddered at her pleas. “Nice try bitch, but I can see the real you under that little girl's skin.”
“And she is so sweet,” Lilith taunted, the little girl's beautiful face twisted into a sneer. “She cried when I killed her grandma. She screamed when I ripped her little dog to pieces with her own hands.”
“Leave that girl's body or I'll shoot.” Dean threatened. “I killed Azazel, I'm pretty sure I can take you out as well.
She laughed her eyes going white again. “You won't hurt this meat-suit, she is just an innocent.”
“No one is innocent after being ridden by a demon.” Dean replied. “She might prefer death after what you've done to her and her family.”
“Dean,” Castiel said as he raised his hands. “Together.”
Dean followed his lead and they closed the distance, as Castiel held her against the wall. Dean grabbed her and shoulders and pinned her physically, as Castiel grabbed her head in both hands.
“I am the first, I am the key.” Lilith spat. “I am the final Seal. Destroy me and Lucifer can't rise. Without him free, you will never have Paradise.”
“Who says we want it?” Dean replied, through gritted teeth, trying to hold on to her.
She stared at him in surprise. She struggled in their hold, then with a show of power neither of them expected she threw them both off of her. Dean was knocked several feet backward and fell over the back of the couch. Castiel lost his grip and was knocked into a side table. She opened her mouth an screamed out a black column of smoke that escaped out the fireplace.
“Dammit.” Dean cursed as he righted himself.
“She is gone.” Castiel said, he stepped close to the little girl. She was curled into a little ball, weeping uncontrollably. He touched her head and healed the superficial physical wounds he found. “You are free now.”
“Cas, these two need help.” Dean said, looked at the father and the boy. Castiel helped cut the boy down and untied him, then took care to unharness the father. The father's mouth was split at the corners, deep cuts that would make the Joker proud. What was worse was the blood wasn't just from his cheeks, the bit had split his tongue in half down the middle. “They're all in a bad way.”
“Oh my god.” The mother said from the doorway. “Rebecca.” She threw herself at her daughter and pulled her into a hug.
“She's free of Lilith.” Castiel said. “But the demon escaped.”
“Listen, I know this is hard, but who is this kid?” Dean asked. “Because he looks too old to be yours.”
“He's our baby-sitter,” She said with a sob. “His name is Adam. It wouldn't let us help him, except to give him water.”
“Cas, he needs a hospital.” Dean said. “They both do.” He looked down and saw a bloodied fireplace poker sitting on the floor near where Adam had been hanging and froze. “Demons can't touch iron.”
“It made us hurt him,” she admitted. “She said it was serendipity. She said something about not being allowed to touch him herself, but the deal never said anything about third parties getting involved. She killed my mother in law when we refused. She killed my father because he wanted cut him down.”
Dean stared at her in horror. “No, no no. No fucking way.” He muttered as he turned to look at the kid. Under the dirt and blood was a sandy blonde haired teenager that he just might be related to in some way. Dean grabbed the phone from the end table and checked for a dial-tone. “Okay, you need to listen to me. When the police get here, you can't tell them your daughter was possessed. They won't believe you.”
“But what do I tell them?” She asked.
“Tell them you don't remember what happened, tell them that people in masks broke in to the house and held you prisoner, tell them anything but the truth.” Dean said.
Castiel stood from having worked on the husband. “I have healed the worst of his injuries, but you all will need more healing than we can give you.” He reached into a pocket of his overcoat and pulled out a small business card. “When you are done talking with the authorities, call this number. Tell Father Reynolds that Castiel told you to call him. Tell him what really happened, he will help you.”
Dean reached into one of his other pockets and pulled out several small anti-possession charms. “Wear these. It'll keep you from being possessed.”
“Thank you.” she said gratefully. “Thank you for saving us.”
“There are a couple people outside that are alive as well.” Dean handed her the phone after dialing 911. “We have to go.” Castiel lifted Adam into his arms.
“Where are you taking him?” She asked empty air, as they were already gone.
Ezekiel Kubrick knelt in front of the bema of the local church, he was on his own again. His friendship with Gordon Walker had been seriously strained in the past week and he was not sorry to see the man go after they had retrieved his belongings from Bobby Singer. He had not yet come to terms with all the information that he had learned. Not just about the ASH network, but about the true existence of angels. He had always believed, always prayed, but seeing a real angel had shaken him badly. He needed guidance and he had always felt he made his best choices after praying.
“Now that is what I like to see,” said a voice only feet from him. Kubrick startled badly and he looked up to see a man in his late 50s standing within the sanctuary in a business suit. “No no, don't bother to get up. This is the way humans should act when confronted with a divine presence.”
“Who are you?” Kubrick asked, frightened by the fact that his legs would not move.
“I'm Zachariah.” he said. “Castiel's superior.”
“You're an angel.”
“Oh, you're quick.” Zachariah replied with snort. “And you are a hunter. One of the few that actually could be called a true believer. I can use a man like you.”
“How may I serve Heaven?” He asked humbly.
“The heavens have decreed that it is time to start the End of Days. When we win this struggle, Paradise will be attained and all shall be peaceful. No more death, no more monsters, no more pain.” Zachariah paced the short length of the bema. “But there has been a little hick-up.”
“Castiel said it wasn't. He said that the First Seal hasn't broken yet.” Kubrick said, his eyes wide with fear and awe.
“Did I say you could speak?” Zachariah flicked his wrist and the hunter's mouth fused shut. “You monkeys, you think you're so important. You're nothing but mud and crap, animated by a spark.” He leaned against the altar at the center of the bema, crossing his arms. “It is true though. That Seal is still intact because of him. Now I have had to answer to my bosses who are wondering how it is that I can't keep control of my own people. The other Seraphim were laughing at me before. But now? Oh no, it's not just my problem anymore.” He started pacing again, this time down the nave past the rows of pews. “Castiel had to go and use Gabriel's Horn and now the entire Host is up in arms. Half my remaining garrison, just, gone.” He made a flicking gesture with his hands. “Up and left. The Virtues have are apparently having a sit-in, in front of Michael's personal chamber and the Cherubim...” He let out a sharp laugh. “They have filed a compliant with upper management over how the vessel bloodlines have been managed over the last fifty years. It's utter chaos.”
Zachariah stopped pacing in front of the hunter, bent down, and roughly grabbed Kubrick by the chin. “When you see Castiel and Dean again, and I know you will, I want you to give them a gift from me. As a 'thank you' for all they have done.” The angel placed two fingers against Kubrick's forehead.
There was a blinding flash of light and Ezekiel would have cried out in pain if he had be able to open his mouth. When he opened his eyes again, he was alone in the church. He took stock of his body, his legs could move once more and he was able to speak again. He had a slight headache, right behind his eyes. He stood on unsteady legs and made his way back to his camper. With each step, the encounter faded from his mind until all he remembered was that he needed to join the ASH network. He had to talk with Castiel and Dean.
End Chapter 4