They were gone for now, the forest still and quiet once more, watching once again. They were gone. Castiel let his sword drop to his side, let himself slump back against the huge, supine form of his companion. His brother-at-arms, save that Fenrir was now helpless. Save that the angels, renegades, Castiel's own brothers and Gabriel's, had bound him.
He crumpled to the ground, sliding hands and battered face through the godwolf's bloodied fur, feeling his hands slip almost instinctively to the cold, there-and-gone-again ribbons that bound Fenrir. Trying, by sheer habit, to pry the links apart, to tear down what dwarves had forged and angels reforged. But it had taken an archangel the last time to shatter Gleipnir, and its remains were as strong or stronger now than ever.
"They will come again," the wolf commented softly. Blood bubbling in his voice. They had wounded him, after the binding. Where Castiel had not been fast enough, where his blade had not caged theirs. They had torn Fenrir as he lay bound, and Castiel had not been fast enough. "If you stay, they will kill you eventually, little brother."
Castiel shook his head, pressed his cheek to the godwolf's shoulder. "If I leave, they will kill you," he answered back, as quietly. A simple statement of fact. That was why they had done what they did. That was why angels had found and forged the remnants of a god's binding, because Fenrir walked with Castiel, because his wounds would bind Castiel to his side. Where they could kill him. Where they could wear him down, as slowly as they pleased, and Castiel helpless to stop them. He could not leave Fenrir. He could not leave his brother's son to die.
Fenrir laughed, soft and ragged, rage gleaming in his eyes. "They can try," he snarled, helpless around the whine of his wounds, but defiant. Oh, defiant. No son of Loki's would fall softly, or without the blood of those who slew him. No son of Loki's would die alone.
"They will still kill you," Castiel said softly. "I will not leave you. I cannot." For Gabriel's sake. For Fenrir's own. For Castiel's, who had seen too many brothers fall, and so many to his own blade. "I will not leave you," he promised, bloodied hand tangled in bloodied fur, and Fenrir, of all gods, could not miss the significance of bloods mingled and oaths sworn. For a moment, for a stunned moment, the godwolf breathed beside him, and there was awe in his eyes.
Then his ears flicked forwards, a low growl building in his throat, and Castiel tilted his head as they approached once more, as he caught the hum of grace and clatter of blades as angels came once more to the kill.
He closed his eyes, gave himself one moment to draw what was left of himself for the coming fight, and staggered to his feet. Beside him, around him, Fenrir heaved savagely, yanking against his constraints, trying to bring those massive jaws to bear not just in his own defense, but in Castiel's. For the effort, for the attempt, the angel smiled, and rested one hand softly against the godwolf's side.
"They may come," Fenrir panted, low and quiet, stilling at his touch. "Once before, Gabriel came. My father. They freed me once before. If we can hold that long ..."
Castiel smiled darkly. "We will do our best," he promised, more in hope than in faith, more in grim determination than in hope. He was not well-used to rescue, though the Winchesters had done their best. He was not well-used to hope.
But he could fight and die, yes. He could stand at a brother's side and fight until they felled him. That, Castiel knew how to do. That, he had always known. That, he knew again. As they came, no more than ten, but so many, too many, for an angel alone, tied to a wounded friend. Castiel smiled grimly, as his own words echoed in his ears, response to Dean's so hopeful "You're fast." They were faster. Not alone, not against his power, but as a group and targeting Fenrir's bound form ...
He killed one, two. Heard the scream as one ventured too close to Fenrir's snapping jaws and was torn limb from grace by the furious godwolf. Smiled, even as a blade caught his side, almost caught his chest. Fought, even they lured him out, pulled him further and further from his guard in Fenrir's defense. Snarled, even as they closed.
Stared, as three suddenly ... disappeared. As three blades stopped flashing, three forms were flung away, and three voices suddenly cried out ... and were silenced. Stared, breath heaving, as the world grew still.
In the trailing silence, as the remaining four turned and turned again, suddenly as wary and out-positioned as Castiel, two figures moved silently from the shadows, one slipping salmon-smooth through the darkness between the trees, the other hovering in furious stillness at his shoulder, a painted shadow full of wings and rage.
Castiel's eyes widened, his hand growing tight around his blade as he straightened, but it was Fenrir's voice that broke the stillness, in rich, savage satisfaction.
"Father," the godwolf said, and from the darkness god and archangel fell upon their foes.