"Are you sure?" John looked around. Some great ruddy field at the edge of some bluffs in Ireland was not what he had pictured for this great showdown.
"Course I am." Sherlock looked around, his eyes darting over everything. "It has to be. No other explanation for it."
"Do you trust me?" Sherlock rounded on John, staring at him. John was silent for a beat too long, and Sherlock stepped forward, gripping his shoulders tightly. "Do you trust me, John?" He stared at his companion intently, breathing slightly ragged. John smiled slowly, his right hand crossing his chest to grip Sherlock's hand tightly.
"You know I do."
"Completely?" Sherlock looked almost out of his mind with the need for confirmation.
John nodded. "One hundred percent, remember?" Sherlock took a deep breath and nodded to himself, stepping back and letting go of John's shoulders.
"Good." He turned away and continued looking around as John pulled out his handgun and checked it again.
"Oh, god , I'm gonna be sick." Dean bent over the nearest solid object – a large rock – heaving.
"I am sorry, Dean. You know I do not enjoy causing you discomfort."
"I know, Cas, uuugh…" Dean kept his face turned away. "That'll teach me to eat right before we travel."
"Here." Dean looked up to see a water bottle being handed to him.
"Thanks, Sammy." Dean pushed himself back and sat on the ground. He cracked open the bottle and took a small, timid sip. It burned his throat a little but it was definitely helping his stomach. "So where are we?"
"The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland." Cas was squinting at everything. Dean watched him for a moment.
"And that means what?"
"It means nothing." Cas looked over at Dean. "What is important is the location."
"Right." Dean frowned and looked at Sam. "You wanna try?"
Sam grinned. "I think Dean meant, why are we here?"
"I told you." Cas looks between them, confused. "This is the end of all things to come. And here we will learn how to stop it."
"How?" Sam crossed his arms over his chest, looking pleadingly at Cas. "With everything else that's happened, this…" He looked around, pausing suddenly. "Uh, guys?"
"Yeah?" Dean stood up carefully. "What is it?"
"Who's that?" Sam pointed to two figures walking alongside each other. Dean reached behind his back, hand going for his gun.
"They're here to help." Dean looked back at Cas.
Cas smiled. "Two more of our pieces of eight."
"Who are they?" Sherlock shook his head but did not answer. John pressed on. "Agents of Moriarty?"
"Impossible. I…" Sherlock looked over at John, and only John could see it, only John could see the sadness at the memory of three years gone and too many dead in his wake. John nodded.
"It could be possible that… they were agents of agents… if that makes–"
"Bad idea to theorize–"
"–without more data, yes, I know."
Sherlock grinned. "Have you got your–" RACK-RACK. "–ah, good."
Dean heard the telltale sound of a round being chambered into a handgun – he knew that sound so well that instinct took over. He pulled his own gun out, keeping it pointed at the ground but steady in both hands, ready to use.
"You will have no need of that, Dean."
"I'm not taking any chances, Cas." Dean looked over at him. "I've lost the both of you before. I'm sure as hell not gonna loose either of you again. Not without a damn good fight first."
Cas tilted his head, watching Dean for just a moment. "I understand."
Dean nodded. "Good. Sammy?"
"I got it." Sam pulled their trusted sawed-off shotgun from his backpack.
"Stop there!" Dean's arms came up, gun pointed at the two strangers. He saw a gun pointing back at him from about thirty feet.
"I'd put that down if I were you." The gun-wielding stranger smiled at Dean. He was not particularly tall. He had sandy blond hair that was going grey and he looked, if Dean were being completely honest, rather unimpressive. The man he'd stepped in front of protectively, though, looked simply too impressive to exist.
"Like hell." Dean stepped forward just a bit, taking point. "Drop it, or my brother and I will drop you."
The tall man behind the blond stiffened. "John."
"John?" Dean smirked. The man nodded once.
"And who are you then? Since we're getting acquainted."
"Well, Dean. We seem to be at a stalemate."
"I'd say you're outnumbered and outgunned."
John grinned. "Never stopped me before."
Cas stepped up next to Dean, watching the two men in front of them. "Lower your weapons."
"Dean." The word held so much meaning.
Dean growled and looked back to John. "Count of three?"
"Both of you."
Dean nodded. "One."
John took a deep breath. "Two."
Three guns lowered, though no one took their hands off of them.
Sherlock was staring at the dark-haired man that had been called Cas. He looked… strange. Almost as though he didn't fit in this world. "Who are you?"
Cas looked up at him. "I am an angel of the Lord, Sherlock Holmes."
Sherlock's hand reached out and gripped John's shoulder tightly. "How do you know my name?"
Cas smiled. "Come forward."
An arm shot out, stopping Sherlock where he was. He looked and saw John, silently pleading with him not to do it. "It's alright, John."
"I promise you, John Watson." Cas stepped carefully towards them. "He shall come to no harm."
"You're calling yourself an angel, and your two boys there had guns trained on us a minute ago, forgive me if I'm a bit concerned."
"Of course you are forgiven." Cas held out both hands, showing them to be empty. "I have no earthly weapons."
"What?" John gripped Sherlock's coat, trying to push him back. Sherlock watched everything with an open fascination.
"It is… difficult to explain." Cas looked to Sherlock. "Come forward, Sherlock Holmes. Open your eyes and see."
Sherlock gave John's arm a quick squeeze, then pried John's hand off his coat. He stepped forward.
"What will I see?" He felt a thrill at the idea of seeing more, knowing more, learning more.
Cas smiled. "You will see the truth."
Cas lifted a hand and pressed two fingers to Sherlock's forehead.
Sherlock had a moment of perfect clarity before dropping to the ground.
Sam wasn't sure how this John had gotten to Cas so easily, nor how he'd fought both him and Dean off so well. Best guess was former military. Worst case was some sort of demonic influence, whatever the flavor, but surely Cas would have zapped him if that had been the case. Sam was nursing a swollen eye and possibly a cracked rib. Dean's nose was certainly broken – John had pistol-whipped him, and the sickening noise of cartilage crunching under the impact still rang in Sam's ears. Only Cas had kept them all from shooting each other – Dean would have called it some sort of Angelic Mojo.
"What did you do to him?" John was crumpled next to the man Cas had called Sherlock, cradling his body. Blood from John's split eyebrow was running his left cheek, a few drops falling onto the dark coat that Sherlock wore. He looked up at Cas, tears and blood and agony all over his face. "I just got him back, damn you!"
"I told you, John." Cas stands in-between the Winchesters and the newcomers. "He has come to no harm." John is shaking as he pulls Sherlock a bit closer.
"Wake up, Sherlock." John bows his head over Sherlock's. "Please wake up. Please." Sam looks away, feeling sick. Beside him Dean snorts.
"He's fine, John." The glare John directs at Dean makes Sam shrink back. Dean only shrugs. "He'll be awake in a few moments."
Right on cue, Sherlock gasps and bucks his shoulders a bit, one hand coming up to grip at John's arm. "John." His voice sounds reverent. "John, this… this is incredible."
"Sherlock." The relief in John's voice makes Sam close his eyes. John buries his face against Sherlock's neck, sobbing quietly and cursing loudly.
Cas moves over and places his fingers against Dean's forehead. In moments Dean looks healthy again, as though he'd never been hurt. Cas moves to Sam. "Thanks." It's the best Sam can do right then. Cas nods once, and presses two fingers to his forehead.
"So what is this, then?" John's once again standing in front of Sherlock, though right now they're facing each other.
Sherlock grins. "It's something I never imagined being possible. This is real, John. The angel - he's real."
"How is… what? That's… how is it possible." Sherlock smirked. John sighed. "Once you have eliminated the impossible, I know. But that doesn't tell me anything. Not this time."
Sherlock regarded Cas before turning back to John. "If I told you that I saw things – not with my eyes, but with my mind and my heart and my very being. What would you say?"
John looked over at Cas, letting his eyes slant towards Dean for a moment. Dean was watching him intently. John turned back to Sherlock. "I don't know. But… one-hundred percent, OK?"
Sherlock nodded. "Come on. There are still a few things I don't understand."
John nodded and turned towards Cas. "We have a few questions."
"Of course." Cas steps up but Dean's hand on his arm keeps him from going any closer. "I will answer anything I am able to."
"What's going on?" John crosses his arms as he and Sherlock stop about ten feet from the others. "Sherlock's been deciphering codes and clues for the past five months. What brought us here. What brought you here?"
Dean's hand let go, as he looked at Cas. John considered this. Seems they weren't the only ones in the dark, then.
"There is an Enochian prophecy. Very old, and… forbidden. To speak of it is considered heresy."
"Then you've rebelled." Sherlock stares at Cas, who nods.
"I am a traitor. A sinner. I was cast out."
"Then how are you here?"
"We have a sort of… habit." John looks at the tallest of the group. He smiles. "I'm Sam. Nice to meet you."
"John." John tosses his head back. "Sherlock. Pleasure. Now, habit?"
"Death is kind of a revolving door in our lives." Sam shrugs. "It's hard to explain, but… all of us have died. And yet, here we are."
"Fascinating." Sherlock looks them all over. "And what is this prophecy?"
"The Seven Devils. Sometimes called The Pieces of Eight."
"Wait, Pieces of Eight?" John chuckles. "Like the old pirate idea?"
Cas smiles. "Where do you think they got the idea?" John stops laughing.
"But there are only five of us right now, Cas." Dean looks around. "Unless we're waiting another angel to bring us a few more members."
"Not an angel. But someone unlike anyone else you'll ever have met." Cas looks around. "He'll be here soon. He'll have two companions. They will be our final pieces." Cas took a deep breath. "And when there are seven devils all around you, seven sinners turned from righteousness, the onslaught shall be stopped and you shall the pieces of eight that form a whole. The world shall be saved, and you shall rejoice."
"So… what now?" John's frowning.
Cas looks them all over. "Now we do our best to keep each other alive. Because we will be the last defense against the coming destruction of the world."
As Cas said this, an odd noise sounded not-too-far away. They all looked over to see an old, blue Police Box materializing. When it seemed solid enough, the door opened. A man in a bowtie stepped out, a young woman with red hair and a young man that most would call non-descript behind him.
"Castiel!" The man in the bow-tie smiled. "Knew it would be you."
Cas smiled and nodded.
"Good to see you, Doctor."
There was silence for several moments before Dean and John both said, "Doctor? Doctor Who?"
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
John frowned. "I haven't even asked the question yet!"
"Irrelevant. You've been going on most of the day about how you needed a good stiff drink, I believe that's how you phrased it, and the answer is no, I am not interested in going to a pub."
John sighed. "Why do I even try?"
"You should probably go ask that… what was his name?" Sherlock looked away from the empty space he'd been staring at, hands steepled in front of him. John frowned again and Sherlock sighed. "The one you were pointing your gun at."
"Oh, uh, Dean. I think." John looked around, grabbing his wallet and the key to their hotel room. "Are you…" John paused, looking back at Sherlock.
Sherlock nodded. "I'll be right here when you return, John."
John stared at him for a few minutes before he turned and slipped out the door.
He looked around at the small, open faced motel and started walking towards what he was fairly certain was the room that Dean, Sam, and Castiel had taken. He stared at the door for a moment, raising his hand to knock. It opened before he could do anything else, revealing Dean. Dean looked at John, then at his raised hand.
"Help you with something?"
John nodded and lowered his hand. "I… I don't know about you, but I… Christ, I need a drink. And Sherlock's not willing to go grab one, so…" John shrugged. "I thought maybe, since we're not supposed to go anywhere alone right now…"
Dean smiled. "You're speakin' my language, John. Hang on." The door closed, but John could hear Dean telling his companions that he was going out. A rustling sound followed, and the door opened again as Dean stepped out, wearing a leather jacket now. "So. Where to?"
"Saw a pub not far from here. Maybe a ten minute walk." John smiled, hands going behind his back.
Dean nodded. "Long as there's whiskey, I'm good."
John laughed as they started walking. "We are in Ireland. You may never be able to drink whiskey anywhere else, after this."
Dean laughed with him, and they walked for several minutes in companionable silence.
"Say, uh." Dean shoved his hands in his pockets. John looked over at him. "About earlier. The whole…"
"Pulling a gun?" John smiled. Dean made a few choice facial expressions.
"Not like I was any better." John looked up at the sky. "And I'd do it all again. To keep Sherlock safe." He looked back at Dean for a moment. "Just so you know."
Dean nodded and grinned. "Same here."
John chuckled softly. "Good."
They arrived at the pub, each ordering a tumbler of whiskey. The place was small, not terribly crowded but full enough that they could talk without too much concern of being overheard as they sat in a small corner.
John twisted his glass around and around in his hands. "Is he really an angel?"
Dean looked at him over his own glass. "Yeah. A bonafide, hovering-over-your-shoulder, got-the-wings-to-prove-it, Angel of the Lord."
"Shit." John downed his drink and signaled for another. "Well I guess that means I better start going to church."
Dean laughed. "Eh, way I hear it that's still a waste of time."
John looked at him as his second drink arrived. He thanked the waitress or bartender or whatever she was, and cocked his head as he watched Dean. "You don't believe, then?"
Dean shrugged. "Actually, I do believe. I believe everything, because I've seen damn-near everything. That's the problem."
"Everything. Damn." John shakes his head. "I don't think there's a drink strong enough to help with this."
Dean laughed. "No there is not, my friend." He raised his glass. John picked his up and clinked them together.
"So, Castiel." John looked down at the table as he spoke. "He seems… very protective."
Dean shrugged. "Probably part of the whole angel-gig. It's… it's a long story but basically, he pulled me out of hell-"
"Wait, what?" John was staring at Dean, astonished. "He… literally? Out of hell?"
Dean smirked. "Another long story."
John threw his head back and laughed. "I have a feeling your life is a series of very long, very interesting stories."
"You have no idea." Dean sipped his drink. "So, he pulled me from hell, and sorta… became my protector, I guess? He needed to keep me alive. And then we became… friends."
John gave Dean a quizzical look. "Friends…"
Dean frowned. "What?"
John shrugged. "That's pretty much exactly what people call me and Sherlock." John gave Dean a pointed look.
Dean's eyes went wide. "Oh, oh. No. We're not… I mean… It's not like that." Dean sets his drink down, gesturing as he speaks. "It's… we're friends, there's… there's nothing more there."
John smiled and looked down at the table. "You know, if you were talking to probably anyone else in the world…" John looked up at him. "They'd believe you."
Dean sat back, a hand rubbing over his face. "Takes one to know one, huh?" John said nothing as he picked up his drink and sipped it. Dean nodded. "You and, uh…"
"Sherlock. And no."
John shook his head. "It's complicated."
Dean snorted. "Yeah. I get that."
They were silent for a moment. "He faked his death. Made me watch him jump off a building. Turns out he'd had it all planned, but…" John shrugged, looking into space. Dean watched him. "You see someone that you… care about. Do that." John closed his eyes. "Three years later I walk into our flat – well, my flat at that point – to see him sitting in his chair like he'd only been out for the afternoon."
Dean's eyes are wide. "What'd you do?"
John laughed. "I walked in, set the carry bags in the kitchen, and then I went over to him. He looked up at me, opened his mouth, and I punched him as hard as I could. I woke up about twenty minutes later with him bleeding all over me." John laughed again. "Stupid git wouldn't even take care of his nose until I came to."
Dean smiled. "Cas… he did some… well, he thought he was doing the right thing."
"Road to hell, eh?"
Dean toasted that and took a sip. "He walked into a river. The only thing that came back out was his coat. Months later, I'm looking for a miracle. And there he is."
John nods. "It's hard. You never…" He swallows, nearly gasping as he turns away for a moment. "You never think that… they won't be there. Until you're alone. And then you never believe they'll come back. You wish, and you pray, and you fucking want it so badly." John brings a hand up to swipe at his eyes. "But you never believe."
Dean blinks rapidly.
"I'm sorry, Dean." John looks up and gives him a miserable smile. "Here I thought we'd pop out for a quick drink, and I'm coming off like a bloody teenaged girl who just got dumped."
Dean waved his apology off. "No, don't worry about it." He raised his glass, holding it out towards John. "To coming back."
John smiled and nodded, clinking his glass against Dean's. "To coming back."
OYE. This would have been up sooner, but AO3's been slow and I kept getting error messages. So, enjoy now! Sorry for the delay!
There might be more later, not sure yet, still catching up on Doctor Who. :)