They follow the lead to the church, though it’s only after Sam says their names that their target is coaxed out of his hiding place. His eyes are wide with amazement as he stares at them, which isn’t right, just as his breathless, “It’s really you” isn’t right.
“You know us?” Dean asks.
The man nods quickly. He looks at them both, one after another, smile growing brighter and brighter until it seems that his face cannot contain it. Then he shuts his eyes and exhales.
It sounds like that exhale has been waiting a lifetime to be released.
“They keep talking about you,” Christopher Milton says. “I can hear them in my head. All the time now, but it started with four words: Dean Winchester is saved. Dean Winchester. That’s you, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Dean says. This guy’s important, he just knows it, and not only because he might be able to shed some light on what Anael and her buddy Uriel are up to. “Come on, angel radio, we’re getting you out of here.”
Christopher nods, bright eyes never leaving Dean’s face.
The lights have at least stopped flickering. Pamela draws back as Chris slowly sits up.
“I know what I am,” he says. There’s something wrong with his voice. It’s older, deeper, close to scraping gravel with each syllable. He looks at Dean and there’s a shadow over his eyes that wasn’t there before. “I’m an angel. My name was Castiel.”
Sam chokes. Ruby presses back against the wall. Dean stares at Chris and tries to imagine him being all snooty and diviner-than-thou, but his brain draws up a blank.
Chris smiles faintly, but there is nothing joyful about it. “They will come for me soon.”
“Angels can’t feel,” Chris – Castiel – says. They’re leaning against the Impala, Dean studying the line of Castiel’s throat as he leans back to study the sky. “It’s blind obedience our entire existence. Free will was given to you, yet my former brothers think themselves better than mankind. I knew that wasn’t true. God shaped you in his image, and I selfishly wanted to learn what else he had given you.”
“That sucks,” Dean says, sipping some of his beer. “Not being able to feel. No wonder the other angels are so tight-assed all the time.”
Castiel snorts softly, the smirk of his mouth alluring in its very-human mischief. He tilts his head slowly to one side, and all of sudden Dean just knows they’re on the same page. “They really have no idea what they’re missing out on.”
No, they’re not, Dean thinks, before he dips his head and takes Castiel’s mouth.
They’re already half-undressed by the time they make it into the backseat of the Impala.
Anael’s eyes look sad in a great imitation of the feelings angels don’t have. “I wish it didn’t have to come to this. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t know what sorry is,” Castiel snaps, making Anael flinch. He takes a deep breath, looking far too calm for a man faced with imminent death.
Dean waits for the cavalry, trying not to look too restless. They should be here at any moment.
Castiel nods. “I'm ready.”
Perhaps it’s just blind stupidity that possesses Dean to swing the crowbar at Alastair, because heaven knows he owes Anael nothing, and the bitch tried to kill Cas so she deserves whatever she gets. But he swings it anyway, and there is a flash of shocked gratitude on Anael’s face before he has to turn his full attention on a smug, taunting Alastair.
It doesn’t go all bad. Cas gets his grace back and angel-plodes, Alastair is kicked away in shockwave, and then Anael and her best bud Uriel skedaddle out of the place like their asses are on fire.
But it isn’t over, not by long shot.