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Dean woke up feeling warm, confused, and comfortable. Warm because there was someone lying on him and covering half his body. Confused because he forgot where he was and had no idea who was on him. And comfortable because the second he remembered, he was content.

That was until he remembered what happened the night before. Seeing Satan. Torturing him. Kissing Castiel.

The last one didn’t bother him, but it led him to the bed he lay in. He was surprised he wasn’t freaking about the kiss at all. He kept himself from overanalyzing it. He told Castiel not to, and he didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Besides, it happened in the heat of the moment. If he needed to, he could blame his emotions.

He wondered if it had something to do with what he talked with Missouri about while Castiel slept on his lap. It seemed like it was so long ago.

He looked down and saw Castiel sleeping comfortably on his chest. As much as he wanted to just lie in bed and forget the world was going to shit around them, he couldn’t. He pulled Castiel to him and kissed him on the crown of his head. “I’ll be back,” he whispered. Then he slid out from under him.

He threw on a shirt and jeans before heading downstairs. He found everyone in the living room minus Lucifer and Satan.

“Dean,” Sam said.

“Hey,” he said, his voice still rough from sleep. “What’s up?”

“How’s Cas?”

“Sleeping. He was pissed that I was torturing, but he got over it. But besides that, I think he’s okay.” He looked at everyone and saw that everyone accepted the answer. “So, what’s for breakfast?”

“We got bacon and eggs,” Jody said.

“Awesome.” He walked into the kitchen and grabbed a plate. He was about to sit at the table but stopped. He, along with almost everyone in the house, had been avoiding using it to eat since the angels performed surgery on it. Even though the angels cleaned it up, he swore he could still see the blood on it.

He walked into he living room and sat down on the couch next to Gabriel.

“You look relaxed,” Gabriel said.

Dean couldn’t ignore the smirk on the archangel’s face. “Why wouldn’t I be? I just had a full night of sleep.”

“Uh huh,” Gabriel said.

Dean rolled his eyes and took a bite out of a strip of bacon. He knew better than to continue with the conversation Gabriel was leading him down. It would lead him nowhere good. It wouldn’t have surprised him if Gabriel had flown into the room to check on Castiel and saw them in bed together. “Where are Lucifer and Satan? Still in the basement?” He hoped someone would follow him with the subject change.

“No,” Michael replied. “We gave Satan to Joshua. He locked him in a cage in Hell.”

“What? Why? We could have used him,” Dean replied.

“He wasn’t going to talk.”

Dean spun around, almost dropping his food, at the new voice in the room. “And where were you?” he asked Lucifer.

“Trying to find a way to find Belial.”

“And how did that go?” Dean asked.

“You know how difficult it is to find an angel that knows how to stay hidden,” Lucifer said.

“So, your torture session got you nothing.”

“Not nothing, Dean,” Lucifer replied. “I was able to see the man who put my freedom in motion in action. I was impressed.”

“I wasn’t trying to put on a show,” Dean said through gritted teeth. He hated torturing, but Satan had crawled under his skin with what he said about Castiel. He had no idea how far he would have gone if Bobby hadn’t stopped him.

“I know,” Lucifer said. “But watching you carve into Satan hoping to get even the slightest bit of information… Your intentions were pure and righteous. It was so artistic.”

“Thanks,” Dean whispered, unsure of how he was supposed to take what Lucifer was saying. “But we’re back to square one.”

“At least you have one less Prince to worry about.”

“We weren’t actually worrying about him until you brought him up,” Bobby said.

“He hadn’t done anything,” Sam added. “He wasn’t even on our radar.”

“Well, trust us when we say that it’s better that he’s back in Hell,” Balthazar said. “He’s almost as strong as Lucifer.”

“He likes to think he is,” Lucifer corrected.

“But he is more unstable in the head,” Gabriel added.

“More unstable?” Lucifer asked.

“Lucky us,” Dean mumbled. They got rid of one crazy angel, but it didn’t help them at all. “But that still doesn’t get us closer to finding Belial. He didn’t mention a way to get rid of the Leviathans before you put him in his cage?”

“No,” Michael said. “His loyalty to Leviathan is too strong.”

“So, why were you able to find Satan and not Belial?” Sam asked.

“Because Satan is an idiot. And that’s the reason why he will always be my lieutenant and nothing more.”

Lucifer let out a deep sigh, and Dean couldn’t help but feel like the next words out of his mouth weren’t going to be anything good. “What?” he asked, afraid of the answer.

“Satan’s disappearance from the plane does put us at a disadvantage.”

“How?”

“Belial is on alert now.”

“What? Why?” Dean asked in rapid succession.

“His opposite isn’t on Earth anymore. He could feel it the moment we gave him to Joshua. So, he might show his face soon,” Michael said.

Dean never thought he’d put so much optimism in the word ‘might’. “That’s good, right?”

“Or he might go into deeper hiding,” Balthazar said.

Dean ignored that option.

“You guys have a connection with your opposites.”

“Yes,” Lucifer answered his true vessel.

“Does that mean you know where the Leviathan is?” Sam asked.

“I know where all of them are.”

“And when were you going to share that information with us?” Dean asked, pissed.

“When it became relevant. Leviathan has nothing to do with helping Castiel.”

“Not yet.”

“They didn’t hurt him,” Lucifer stated. “They gave him over to Belial and Satan. They probably didn’t even know what the angels and demons were doing to Castiel.” As much as he didn’t want to defend those beasts, he had to give everyone his reasoning for leaving them alone.

“Well, if they gave them over to be watched, what will you do when they come after him again?” Dean asked. He needed to know whose side Lucifer was on.

“Well, something about bridges and crossing them.”

“Lucifer,” Michael replied. He wanted the answer as much as Dean did.

“If they were going to hurt Castiel, I would stop them, but they’ve kept their distance.”

“You know how to stop them?” Dean asked. He would have been angrier if he didn’t expect it. All the research in the world and Lucifer already knew how to get rid of the threat. But then again, he wondered what it would take. Maybe Lucifer’s way of getting rid of them was to just destroy the planet. Or maybe the way to defeat them took some methods that only Lucifer could perform. Or using things that only Lucifer had access to. He didn’t like having to put so much confidence in Lucifer.

“I have to be able to keep my opposite safe. But I have to also be able to show them their place.”

“Will you tell us how to kill them?” Sam asked.

“Maybe,” Lucifer said. “I’ll see how I feel about it at the end of all of this.”

“Would you let them hurt us?” Sam asked.

“If Castiel asked me to help you, I’d contemplate it.”

“Good to know,” Dean said. At least it gave him confirmation to not rely on the archangel too much when it came to the Leviathans. As skewed as Lucifer’s loyalty was, it was still loyalty.

“So, there’s no summoning spell for this?”

“You think we haven’t tried every summoning spell we have?”

“I think that you guys need to—Cas,” Dean said, when he saw Castiel coming down the stairs.

“Hey, Cas,” Sam and Gabriel greeted.

“Hello,” Castiel said, his voice still rough from sleep. “Where’s Sa—”

“He’s been taken care of,” Balthazar answered quickly. Everyone could sense the tension and anxiety Castiel still had.

“What does that mean?” He wasn’t sure if he was all right with them killing him.

“We gave him to Joshua,” Balthazar said.

“Joshua?” Castiel asked. He wondered why they would give Satan to him.

“He’s been put in charge of Heaven,” Michael answered the question in Castiel’s eyes.

“That’s probably for the best,” Castiel said for both statements. “Did you get any information from… him?” He hated that he wasn’t able to say the angel’s name.

“No. We weren’t able to.” The angels bowed their heads, feeling like they had let Castiel down.

“You hungry or something?” Dean asked, needing to break the tension and stop the self-loathing that polluted the living room.

Castiel shook his head. “Dean, I want to take a bath again.”

Dean could feel his cheeks burning up. He shook his head, as if it would erase the embarrassment from his face. “Yeah, okay.”

“You gave him a bath?” Gabriel asked.

Dean wanted to smack the mocking tone out of the archangel’s voice. He spun and glared at him. “I didn’t give him one. I just sat there while he sat in the tub. There’s a difference.”

“Of course there is,” Bobby replied.

“We just talked,” Dean sighed. He knew it was pointless to defend himself. He had just given everyone enough material to tease him for a long time. But that didn’t mean he had to stand there and listen to it. “Come on, Cas.” He walked over to Castiel and grabbed him by the arm. He led him back up the stairs.

Castiel allowed Dean to pull him to the master bedroom. He could tell that Dean was agitated. “Was what I said wrong?” he asked as soon as the door shut behind them.

“No, they’re just being dicks.”

“Are you sure?”

Dean spun around so quickly that he surprised Castiel. He grabbed him by the shoulders. “Cas, don’t worry about it.” He squeezed Castiel to make sure he understood. “Don’t apologize. Don’t feel bad. Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about us. We’re good.”

“We’re good,” Castiel repeated. He followed Dean as he walked to the bathroom. He could tell that Dean thoughts were racing. “Dean?”

“You said you wanted to take a bath.”

“Oh.” He did. He didn’t press for Dean to tell him what he was thinking. Dean was always better at keeping things to himself than Castiel was. He knew no matter how much he pushed he wouldn’t be able to get Dean to talk like Dean was able to do to him.

Dean knelt down next to the tub, like the first time Castiel had taken a bath, and started the water. He could feel Castiel standing in the doorway. “Cas,” he said, resting his forehead against the side of the tub with one hand under the faucet.

“Yes, Dean?” Castiel asked, hopeful that Dean would open up to him.

Dean’s free hand gripped the side of the tub so strongly he was afraid he would break it. He couldn’t ask Castiel the question that had been bothering him for so long, but damn he wanted to. He could feel his entire body shaking. “Fuck,” he whispered.

“Dean,” he said, taking a few tentative steps into the bathroom. He wanted to reach out and comfort Dean. He settled for leaning against the sink counter. “It’s okay.” Castiel gave Dean the opening he needed.

“Cas…” He quickly shut off the water. If they were going to talk right now, he didn’t want the water to be cold when Castiel got in. Luckily the tub wasn’t that filled. He spun around and leaned against the side of the tub. He looked up at Castiel. “What does it mean when a demon touches an angel’s grace?” Dean wanted to take the words back as soon as they left his lips.

Castiel shivered. He knew that he’d have to answer the question eventually. Dean wasn’t the type of person to drop things if he wanted to know. “Why do you want to know?”

“Because you were acting like…” He really didn’t want to say those words out loud. He could pretend that all of it was not real as long as he didn’t say it out loud.

“Like what, Dean?” He knew exactly how he was acting, but he didn’t know if it was something like what humans did to deal with a similar situation.

Dean let out a shaky breath and dragged a hand down his face. It was now or never. “Cas, did the demons rape you?”

“No,” Castiel said quickly. He shook his head and took a deep breath to calm down. He knew Dean wouldn’t believe him if he kept answering that quickly. He let out his breath. “No,” he said slower and calmer. “They didn’t.” That was one thing the angels didn’t let the demons do to him. Every time they tried, Castiel would be covered with demon ashes and smoke.

“I’m sorry. That was a stupid thing to assume.”

“No. It wasn’t.” Castiel sank down to the floor. “I was violated. Just not in that way.”

“What happened to you?” Dean watched Castiel swallow hard to prepare himself to speak.

“Demons shouldn’t be able to touch an angel’s grace.” He looked up to the ceiling as if it would give him some guidance. “It’s too bright and pure for a demon to handle. Millions of demons have died trying.”

“Why?” Dean asked. “If it’s as impossible as you’re making it sound, why would they keep trying?”

Castiel shrugged. He would never attempt to try and understand the motivations of demons. “I don’t know. They probably thought they could utilize the power of an angel’s grace.”

“So, if demons aren’t supposed to be able to touch your grace, what happened to you when they did?”

“The torture didn’t do anything. I could handle the knives and the burns and the whips. But once they started feeding me demon blood and showering me with Unholy Water, my grace retreated. I… It couldn’t take it. My grace weakened, trying to figure out what was happening to me and what needed healing. All of that, along with the sulfur was so disorienting. I spent most days in a haze.”

Castiel closed his eyes and shook his head. His thoughts were trying to bring him back to those months where he was trapped. “After months of being filled and covered with all of it, my grace had no more defenses. Abbadon cut open my chest and cracked open my ribs.”

“Cas.”

Castiel laid his hand over his stomach with his thumb rubbing against the bottom of his sternum. He looked down and watched as his thumb swished back and forth. “The central location of an angel’s grace is under the apex of a human heart. It’s everywhere in the body, but it mostly resides there. It flows wherever it’s needed.”

“Like white blood cells.”

There wasn’t an easy way to explain how grace worked, but he tried. “To an extent,” Castiel sighed. “Abaddon was able to reach into my chest and hold my grace in his hand. My grace was ready to rebel. I felt sick. And my defenses just crumbled.” Castiel felt nauseous and drowsy as he remembered what he had gone through the first time Abbadon touched his grace. He took in a few deep breaths to calm his stomach. He opened his eyes and stared at Dean who looked ready to make a move if something happened. He smiled. He was relieved to have Dean there. “To have to suffer through that for all that time. It felt like I was in there for years. It was only a few months.”

“Cas.” Dean wished he had more to say than that.

“A demon touching an angel’s grace is tantamount to—”

“I got it, Cas,” Dean whispered. He didn’t need Castiel to say it. “If I knew that you were still alive—”

“I know, Dean. I know.” There was no reason for him to feel guilty about something he had no control over. “It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry you had to suffer through that.”

“I don’t know why you’re apologizing, Dean.”

“Well, you know me,” Dean sighed. “I—”

“I know, Dean,” Castiel replied. He swallowed then let out a breath. He brought a hand up to his chest. “My grace… whatever my brothers let me keep, it doesn’t feel right. It hasn’t for some time.”

“Do you think it will ever again?”

Castiel shrugged. “I don’t know. I hope so.”

“Me too.” Then Dean felt as if the moment had become too intimate. He stood up and turned the water back on. He adjusted the temperature to compensate for the water cooling off while they talked. After a couple of minutes, Dean shut the water off. “So, um… Tub. Don’t stay in the water too long.” He walked passed Castiel to leave the bathroom.

“You aren’t staying?”

“Not today, Cas. I have to finish working on something downstairs.” He hoped that his excuse didn’t sound too flimsy.

“Okay.”

“You need anything, just yell.”

“I don’t think anything will happen that would require me yelling for you.”

Dean nodded and left Castiel as he began to strip.

He walked downstairs and saw everyone in basically the same place they were when he’d left them. He picked up the first book that he found and sat down.

“How’s Cas?” Gabriel asked.

“You know, it would have been easier to just ask him when he was down here.”

“He won’t talk to us,” Michael replied.

“And he lies,” Balthazar added.

“He’s bad at it,” Dean countered.

“But he still does.”

“And so do I.” Dean sighed. He knew it was getting them nowhere with him avoiding the question. He couldn’t blame the angels for caring about their brother. He knew they felt guilty for everything that had happened to him over the last four years. “He’s taking a bath. I know that doesn’t answer your question, but deal with it.”

The angels accepted Dean’s answer. They couldn’t sense any distress from Castiel, so they had no reason to worry. “So, what are your intentions toward my brother, Dean?” Gabriel asked.

Dean felt his heart pound in his chest. He wondered what the angels knew. It couldn’t have been much because if Gabriel knew, he would be giving him a lot more crap than he was at the moment. “You can shut your face,” he said, defenses up faster than he was prepared to throw them.

“You’re taking away my brother’s innocence,” Gabriel said.

“Shut up.”

Lucifer laughed. It was intriguing to see how much the human cared about his youngest brother. “I wonder sometimes, how little Castiel would have turned out if I helped raise him,” he asked.

“You think he would have fallen with you?” Michael asked.

“It’s a possibility.” Lucifer began to think of all the ways he could have convinced Castiel to join him. He smiled at the challenge.

“That’s ridiculous,” Balthazar said with a laugh. The thought of Castiel taking Lucifer’s side instead of their Father’s was the most absurd thing he’d ever heard. Even though Castiel had never seen their Father’s face, he was loyal.

“Why?” Lucifer asked. The angels who stayed in Heaven obviously knew something he didn’t.

“Father created him so close to creating humanity, that it has basically been ingrained in him to choose them,” he answered.

Lucifer crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow. “And yet you all still turned your backs on him knowing that.”

Michael’s eyes widened, shocked. What Lucifer said had shaken him to his core. “You… you would have too,” he whispered.

Lucifer smiled at his ability to affect his brother. “But I would have gone against everything that had to do with humanity. I would have gone against him only because he would have been fighting on your side.”

“So, why did you save him?” Dean asked.

“What?” Lucifer spun to look at Dean.

“Why did you save Cas?” He shut the book in his lap. He hadn’t turned a page since he opened it. “And don’t give me that crap about how you had your orders because you’re known for going against them.” He stood up and walked towards the angels.

Lucifer was impressed with Dean. Every day he spent with the human he would see things that showed how much he was Michael’s true vessel. “Because I don’t know him,” he answered simply.

“What do you mean you don’t know him?”

Lucifer pointed to a chair to tell Dean that it was going to be a long story. He watched as Dean glared at the chair, or maybe it was the table. He followed the human as he walked back into the living room and sat back down on the couch. “How much do you know about your little angel?”

“He’s not my—”

“He’s the youngest of us,” Lucifer interrupted. He didn’t have time for Dean’s denial. “Of all of us.”

“He’s the baby of the family?” Dean asked. Then he thought about how much it would suck to be the youngest angel out of millions. Or was it billions? He knew how much Sam hated every time he played the older brother card, and he was just one. To have millions? He felt sorry for Castiel.

“Correct. He was the only angel created after I fell. I’d never met him. Until I held him captive. And then when I killed him.” Lucifer turned to Sam and smiled. “Remember that, Sam?”

Sam grimaced at the memory. “I’d rather forget.”

“It wasn’t permanent. He came back. Father’s a fan of his. That is enough reason for me to help him. Not many angels get a second chance.”

“Every angel here has,” Bobby countered.

Lucifer looked around at all of his brothers in the room. The elder hunter had a point. “Okay. Percentage wise, it’s very small. But rarely does one get a third chance. And by rarely, I mean never.” Lucifer had to wonder why Castiel was so special in their Father’s eyes.

“Okay. Tell me about Cas,” Dean said.

“What do you mean?”

“What was he like before I messed him up? I know he was a soldier. A freaking obedient soldier. What else?” Dean watched the angels pass looks to each other. He was about to say something, paranoid that they were passing secrets to each other telepathically. He wanted the whole story, but the looks they were giving each other told him he was going to get the abridged version.

Michael was the first to speak up. “Since Father created Castiel after the war, he never had to think about it. He heard stories, but that’s all they were to him. He used those stories to learn battlefield strategies. He knew the angels who fell by name and that was all. He was probably the angel who was the most untroubled.”

“Then why is he so uptight?”

“He took after us. We were never good at hiding our anxieties,” Michael replied. “Those who still followed our Father all raised him at some point in our lives. All of us.”

Dean couldn’t tell if Michael was joking or not. “But you…” He couldn’t believe that all of the angels had raised Castiel, but they all turned on him when it came down to it. He stared at Michael and could not believe that the angel who raised Castiel was the same angel who wanted to destroy the Earth. They couldn’t have been any more different. Then it made sense what Castiel had said about not knowing Gabriel if the archangel left after the war.

“I was the oldest. He was our youngest. After we had lost so many of our brothers to the fall, I became so protective of him. I never wanted him to come to Earth, but he was always drawn to it.

“I know that Castiel once told you that he was just the fastest angel and that is why he was the one who raised you from Perdition. That isn’t the entire truth.”

“What are you talking about?” He still could not remember anything about his rescue from Hell. For the angels to tell him something like that, he couldn’t help but be concerned.

Michael looked to his brothers for assistance in telling this part of the story.

Balthazar stepped forward, taking the reins from his brother for a bit. “Long ago, before our Father disappeared, He gave the order that when this happened, that Castiel needed to be the one to raise the righteous man. The moment he rescued you, we knew something changed in him.”

Dean felt a swell of emotion in him. He felt guilty that Castiel wasn’t as angelic as he used to be because of meeting him. The guilt soon faded and Dean was pissed because no matter what they did and no matter the choices they made, Castiel was supposed to go through all of this pain. “So, God’s been dicking around in Cas’s destiny too?”

“Dean,” Sam said needing to calm his brother down.

“He knew that Cas was going to go through all this. Falling. Dying. Doesn’t that bother you?”

“It should, shouldn’t it,” Michael said. He noticed how much it was actually bothering Dean.

“Hell yeah, it should!”

“Why?”

“Because, he’s your brother. And you are supposed to watch over him. Take care of him. Not let him walk into something that could destroy him.”

“And you think I wasn’t? That we weren’t?” Michael retorted.

Dean hated how Michael could say those things with a calm voice. “Yeah, I do.”

“I helped him fulfill his destiny.”

He shook his head, hating how much stock angels put in destiny. “But you knew all the crap his destiny was going to put him through.”

“You cannot change destiny, Dean.”

That was a bullshit excuse if Dean had ever heard one. “I did.” They couldn’t tell him that it wasn’t possible if he’d screwed his destiny over. “You can’t tell me your Father wanted Cas to suffer like this?” Their Father could not have been cruel enough to let His son’s grace be touched by a demon.

“What makes you think our Father didn’t want Castiel to go through this trial either?” Gabriel asked.

“Your Father is a dick. The apple definitely doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“Dean,” Sam said. He knew his brother was upset, but there had to be better ways of expressing it than chastising the people who were helping them.

“You aren’t supposed to sit back and just watch while your little brother gets dragged through the mud. You’re supposed to protect him. Make sure nothing happens to him.”

“It was our Father’s orders, Dean.”

Dean had difficulty finding a response for that. He knew what it was like to follow every order your father gave. But he also knew what it meant to be an older brother. He knew he would never be able to hurt Sam no matter what his orders were. “It doesn’t mean they were right.”

“It’s not easy to defy God, Dean,” Michael replied.

“And what will you do when God decides to fuck Cas over again?”

“He wouldn’t do that,” Michael said.

“If He does?” Dean pressed. He wanted to see how far the angels would go to follow their Father’s orders.

“He wouldn’t do that,” Michael repeated, more adamant.

Dean stared into the archangel’s eyes. He could see the struggle in his eyes. He could see that Michael never wanted to have to make that choice again. “You better hope he doesn’t,” Dean replied. Because if God decided to dick around in Castiel’s destiny again, he wouldn’t hesitate to put a knife through every angel’s heart and find a way to give God a piece of his mind.

Michael swallowed hard, actually taking Dean’s threat into account. “He won’t,” he whispered. He hoped.

Dean needed a drink. He didn’t care how early it was in the morning. He had too many heavy conversations in the last hour and he felt like he deserved it. He walked into the kitchen and grabbed a beer. He took a long gulp from it, swallowing down a third of the bottle.

When he walked back into the living room, he saw Castiel at the bottom of the stairs. It seemed he hadn’t lost his ability to move from place to place without alerting him.

“What have I missed?” Castiel asked. He stared directly at Dean through his damp hair that clung to his face.

Dean was ready to tell Castiel everything, but it felt like an elephant was sitting on his chest. He thought about everything that Castiel had gone through over the last few years. He thought about how Castiel’s destiny was just as screwed as his own. He thought about how their destinies were tied together.

The thoughts were overwhelming and he couldn’t find his way through most of them.

It hurt to be in the same room as Castiel. “Fill him in,” he whispered to Sam. “I need to go outside and think.” Or stop thinking. He took another drink of his beer and walked out the front door.

As soon as the front door closed behind him, he heard the sound of flapping around him. He rolled his eyes.

“Dean.”

“What do you want?” Dean asked. He had gone outside to be alone. Of all the angels he didn’t want bothering him, Lucifer was at the top of the list.

“You don’t trust me,” Lucifer said.

“Not at all,” he replied. But he had to push aside his own feelings to help Castiel. He never thought that he’d be working alongside Lucifer. Even though Lucifer was there to help them on God’s orders, and he did help them find Satan, Dean couldn’t help but feel weird putting so much trust in the devil.

“Because of what I did to your brother.”

“That,” Dean hissed. “And because you tried to destroy the entire planet.”

“I’m just misunderstood, Dean.”

“No therapist in all of creation would be able to understand you.”

Lucifer could not dispute that. “I’m not as cruel as everyone thinks I am, Dean,” he said. “People forget that I’m still an angel.”

Dean scoffed. “I don’t think anyone’s actually forgotten. The fact that you’re an angel makes the fact that you do all of this crap more terrifying.” He finished his beer.

Lucifer snapped his fingers and Dean’s bottle refilled. “Would you believe me if I told you that I never laid a hand on your brother?”

Dean stared at the full bottle in his hand. He shrugged. It was a creative way for an angel to use his powers. “Not at all.” He saw the aftermath of Sam’s Hell. There was no way that would have happened without Lucifer doing some messed up crap. Dean didn’t want to think about it. He took another sip of his beer to help him to forget.

“Well, I didn’t.”

Dean still didn’t believe the angel even though he was known for being brutally honest. “Then why is his brain a million piece jigsaw puzzle?”

“My tortures are intricate, Dean,” Lucifer said with a smile. “I know that whips and chains and hooks wouldn’t do anything to both of you.”

“So what did this one involve?”

“I let him in on my inner workings.”

“You what?”

“I never had to touch him. Only make him see what I’ve done in my existence. The pain. The torture. I let him go through everything I’ve gone through.”

“Why?”

“You’re brother is so pure, even with demon blood pumping through his veins. Imagine what it must have felt like for him to hold a knife while you were on a rack.”

“That’s all sorts of messed up.” And a little ingenious. But he would never tell that to Lucifer.

“Dean, you of all people know that the best torture is the kind where you don’t even have to touch your victim. Imagination breaks the laws of physical restriction,” Lucifer said. “I would never physically harm your brother. I still need him, Dean. He’s my vessel.”

Dean’s eyes widened at the prospect of being used as a vessel again. “I thought that crap is over between you and Michael.”

“It is,” Lucifer replied. Since speaking with his Father, he knew that he Apocalypse would never happen. But it didn’t mean he couldn’t use it to scare the human a little. “But if it so happens that there needs to be an Apocalypse some time down the road, your brother’s bloodline is needed.”

“That won’t happen,” Dean said. He’d protect his family from having to deal with that.

“You never know.”

“It won’t happen,” Dean replied.

Lucifer was about to carry on that conversation, but he stopped himself because of an incoming interruption. “Castiel wants to speak to you.” He disappeared before Dean could ask him any more questions.

Castiel walked out of the front door a few seconds later. He stood next to Dean and mirrored his position as he leaned against the railing on the porch. “How was your conversation with Lucifer?” he asked.

“Not important,” Dean said. “He said some stuff, I said some stuff. Learned a few things about him.” He looked over to Castiel as he nodded. “So, what did you want to talk about?”

“Nothing,” Castiel replied. “I just wanted to stand with you after your talk with Lucifer. I wasn’t sure how you would react after speaking with him.”

Dean smirked. It felt nice that Castiel was still looking after him. There was so much that was normal and comfortable about it. “You should have brought some beers.”

“I can go get them.”

Dean shook his head. Alcohol wasn’t necessary. He was content enough to not need it since Castiel was with him. “Nah. We’re good.” He looked over at Castiel and saw him staring out into the scenery. His eyes followed it and said nothing as he watched the sun set.

--------------

Hours after Dean had his conversation with Lucifer, Dean still thought about it. He had no idea if Lucifer was telling him the truth or not, and he wasn’t sure which reality was worse. It wasn’t like he was going to ask Sam what he remembered about Hell.

One thing was for sure though. Since Lucifer had shown up to help Castiel, Sam’s hallucinations had stopped.

Dean would take the victory, as messed up as it was. Real Lucifer should not have been the better option to hallucination Lucifer.

Dean continued to read through the book in his hand until his eyes hurt. He had no clue what he was supposed to be looking for. He was sure that Sam along with Michael or one of the other angels already read through it and found nothing. And Dean read the same information in another book two days ago.

Two more minutes of reading and Dean swore on anything that the words on the page had morphed into another language. He closed the book and pressed the palms of his hands to his eyes. If he had to read another sentence about how Belial was an angel of fifty Legions, he’d scream at the top of his lungs.

Everyone else in the cabin felt the same frustration as Dean. They wouldn’t be able to help Castiel until they got over that stumbling block.

“What are you thinking about, Bobby?”

Dean blinked his eyes a couple of times to get the blur out of them. Once his vision was clear, he turned to his brother and the elder hunter. He saw the thoughtful look on Bobby’s face that his brother had seen.

“You’re not gonna like it,” Bobby said.

“We’re running out of options,” Dean said. “Anything will be useful.”

Bobby sighed. Plan Z was never very good, but most people went along with it, unhappy. “Look, if you angels can’t find him, maybe you need to look on the other side of the spectrum for some help.”

“What do you mean?” Balthazar asked.

“Demons.”

“Do you have anyone in mind?” Michael asked.

“No,” Dean answered. He reminded himself to thank Jody for taking Castiel grocery shopping. He didn’t want to think of how Castiel would have reacted to this conversation.

“Dean,” Bobby and Sam said.

“No. No demons. Especially not him,” he said threw gritted teeth. He knew they wouldn’t call any demon. Even the thought of having to work with him was making him mad.

“Dean,” Sam repeated.

“We can’t.

“Why not?”

“Because I’m done being a hypocrite. Every time we work with demons, there’s this huge fallout and then I get pissed, and I’m done with that.”

“Dean, we’re running out of options.” Sam needed his brother to see that even though he hated working with demons, they weren’t getting anywhere, and weren’t going to get anywhere without outside help.

“Are there really no other options? Like taking us back in time and stopping Castiel from doing this?”

“That would take—”

“Yeah, I got that,” Dean said, interrupting Michael. “Too much power. Destiny. And all that crap. I was just throwing it out there.” He didn’t think it was a reasonable solution, he just didn’t want working with a demon to be their only choice. “It couldn’t hurt to keep it as like plan double Z or something.”

“But if this could give us answers, wouldn’t you want that? No matter the method?” Michael asked.

Damn angels and their utilitarianism. Dean didn’t know how to answer that without sounding like a jackass “I don’t want to work with Crowley. Not after all the shit that happened last year.”

“Dean, what if it’s the only way?” Sam asked.

“Then we’ll find another one.”

“Dean.”

Dean knew he had lost the argument. He was outnumbered and he couldn’t provide another realistic option. “Damnit.” Dean had to choose between his pride and hypocrisy. He hated both of those choices.

“Dean,” Sam said. He could see the turmoil in his brother’s eyes.

Dean shook his head. He couldn’t talk to Sam. Not right now. He wouldn’t understand. “I need to talk to Cas.”

[Chapter 8]   [Masterpost]   [Chapter 10]


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August 2012

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