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As soon as Dean told the angels exactly where Castiel was, they flew. The angels tried to talk Dean out of coming with them, but they stopped when they saw how tormented and guilty he felt. Dean needed to see this through as much as they did.

The five of them landed on the sidewalk in front of the house Dean called home for four years. Dean stared at the front yard and saw how unkempt it was. The house had to have been empty for months. “This could be a trap,” Dean said as he scanned each window looking for a silhouette.

“But for whom?” Michael asked. He felt a feeling of foreboding.

Dean looked at the archangel. “It doesn’t matter.” Whether it was a trap for the angels or for Dean, Belial was still using Castiel to get to them.

“No, it doesn’t,” Michael agreed.

“We should head inside,” Balthazar said.

“Is there anything keeping you guys out?”

“No,” Lucifer answered. “Belial wants us here.”

“So, this trap is for you guys?”

“I think this is a trap for all of us,” Michael said.

“That being said, we should head inside,” Balthazar repeated. He was anxious. He wanted to get Castiel to safety as soon as possible and then they could deal with Belial.

“What’s the plan?” Gabriel asked. He didn’t want to go in there without one.

“Find Cas, kill Belial, go home,” Dean replied. It didn’t need to be complicated.

“Good plan,” Balthazar said.

“Michael and Balthazar take the top floor. Gabriel, take the basement. I’ll take the human and check the first floor. Everyone meet on the first floor if you can’t find anything.”

The three angels nodded and disappeared.

“Why aren’t we in there?” Dean said when he found himself standing next to Lucifer still outside of his childhood home.

“Castiel is in the living room.”

“Why aren’t we in there?” Dean repeated, this time more urgent.

“It’s too easy,” Lucifer replied. “Belial’s planned something.”

“And you didn’t think it was important to tell that to your brothers?” He may not have liked the angels, but he didn’t want them walking into a trap and dying.

“Belial won’t kill them,” Lucifer said as if he had read Dean’s mind. “I’m trying to figure out how he’s going to raise the stakes.” He stared into the house. “We should go inside.” He put a hand on Dean’s shoulder and they flew into the living room.

“Cas?” Dean said as soon as his eyes fell upon Castiel.

The living room was empty except for Castiel and the chair that he was bound to. Dean took a step forward. He winced when he heard the sounds of the floorboard creaking. He looked around when he heard wings flapping around him. Michael, Gabriel, and Balthazar had made it to the first floor.

“Castiel,” Michael said, moving to untie his brother. He could feel that something wasn’t right with him.

Then a familiar smell wafted to Dean’s nostrils. “No!” he yelled, trying to warn him, but it was too late.

Michael, Gabriel, and Balthazar watched as the Rings of Fire closed around them.

Dean froze, unsure of what to do. He wasn’t sure how to stop what was happening. He was ready to step toward one of the angels, but he felt himself pulled through space. An angel was moving him. He felt the way he was supposed to; cold and like he was free-falling.

When he landed, Dean looked around and saw that he wasn’t in the house anymore. He stood on the other side of the front door with Lucifer’s grip on his arm. “What are you doing?” he said, trying to yank his arm out of Lucifer’s hold. He was angry, but at least he was glad he wasn’t sent back to Montana.

“I needed to make sure all the fires were lit before we go back in there.”

“Are… are they trapped?”

“Yes,” Lucifer replied. He furrowed his brow as he thought about what just happened. There was something devious in the house. Something felt weird ad wrong about Castiel. He couldn’t quite place it. Lucifer could tell that Castiel was injured, but he hoped the injuries weren’t too severe. “I had to get out of there before I became trapped too.”

“So, why did you take me with you?” The rings wouldn’t have done anything to him.

“Because keeping you safe is important to Castiel. I’m here to help Castiel.”

“Well, Cas is in there.”

“If Belial caught me in that ring, we’d all be dead.”

“Well, you aren’t now,” Dean hissed. He tried to stay angry with Lucifer, but Dean knew that it was a good thing that the archangel wasn’t trapped. They still had a chance. “So, we need to get back in there and save everyone.”

“Fine,” Lucifer said. He grabbed the front of Dean’s shirt and pulled him close. “Do not get in the way. The second I think you’re going to be detrimental to this mission, I’m sending you back to Montana.”

“Whatever,” Dean said, pushing Lucifer away. He stepped back and kicked the front door open.

He looked at Michael, Gabriel, and Balthazar trapped in separate circles, along with a few empty lit rings around the living room. At the edge of the room, Dean saw Castiel still tied to a chair, with a man standing over him. Dean had to stop himself from running to Castiel’s side.

“Nice of you to join us, Lucifer,” Belial greeted. He rested his hand on Castiel’s shoulder and smiled. He scanned the room. He looked at the eldest archangel. “Michael.”

“Belial, let us out,” Michael commanded.

Belial grinned. “Michael, still with that stick up your ass.”

“Belial, still with your multiple personalities,” Balthazar countered.

Belial held his arms out to Michael and walked toward him. “Don’t I get a hug?” he said with a pout.

“Why don’t you step into this circle and we can have some good old family time,” Gabriel said.

Belial walked back to Castiel. “It’s nice to see you too, Gabriel,” he replied. He clapped his hands a couple of times. “This is a better reunion than I had hoped for. I have Michael and Gabriel. Balthazar. Lucifer. Little Castiel here.” He snapped his fingers and the bonds that held Castiel to the chair fell to the ground. He grabbed Castiel by his throat and lifted him up. His other hand wrapped around Castiel’s waist, holding him close to his body. He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of the youngest angel. “I even have a Winchester.”

When Belial walked toward them, Dean saw some blood on Castiel’s clothes. “Cas,” he said.

“I’m all right,” he replied, his voice a little rougher than usual. Belial had only hit him a few times, no permanent damage. He kept his eyes on Dean. “Lucifer, send Dean away.” He did not want Dean to get hurt.

“Don’t you fucking dare,” Dean growled before Lucifer could even think about putting to fingers to his forehead.

“He needs to be here, Castiel,” Lucifer replied. “But remember what I said, Dean.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Belial grinned as he watched the exchange between everyone not trapped in a ring. He leaned over Castiel’s shoulder and licked the outside of his ear. “I can sense your bond with him, Castiel,” he said in a sing-song voice. “It’s disgusting how much of you he has.”

“Why does it bother you so much?” Dean asked. He had to let out a breath through his nose. He could not stand to watch Belial touch Castiel knowing he couldn’t do anything to stop him.

“Because you are a disgusting creature,” he said, looking into Dean’s eyes. He kept his eyes on him as he bent his head down and sank his teeth into Castiel’s shoulder. He tightened his hold as Castiel tried to squirm away. “Calm down, Castiel,” Belial whispered, placing a kiss on the bite mark. “There are no demons right now. Except for the ones in your head.”

Dean shook where he stood. He knew he wouldn’t be able to take much more of this. “And yet,” he started, wanting to forget the last few statements Belial said to Castiel. “You still need a permission slip to walk on Earth.”

Belial looked up and glared at the human. “I could destroy you with a snap of my fingers.”

“You won’t be able to,” Dean said, glad that Lucifer wasn’t trapped. He would not have been that ballsy if he were on his own.

“Belial, let Castiel go,” Lucifer said. “He has nothing to do with this anymore.”

Belial’s eyes shot up and bore into Lucifer. “The Leviathans may still need him.”

“Well, they can’t have him.”

“Try and stop me, Lucifer.”

“I don’t have to try, Belial.” He knew he was stronger than Belial, but there was too much at risk right now. Belial still hadn’t shown his hand, so he had to be careful. “Let him go, and you get to live.”

Belial laughed. “That’s a lie.”

“It sounded appealing, didn’t it?”

“I know I’m dead as soon as I lose my leverage. So, we’re going to have some fun.”

“Belial,” Michael said, turning the fallen angel’s attention to him. He waited for Belial to turn to him before he continued to speak. “You have our attention. We’re more valuable to you than Castiel.”

“Oh, don’t downplay our youngest’s importance. I mean, it was him who let the Leviathans free. He started all of this. Damn, his intentions were so pure. Where did it go so wrong?” He wrapped his arms tighter around Castiel.

“Belial,” Michael and Lucifer yelled.

“Okay,” Belial sighed. He could only take so much of his brothers yelling at and scolding him. Besides, it was about time to get the game started. He loosened his hold on the youngest angel. “I’ll let him go. Only if Dean wants me to let him go.”

“Of course I do,” Dean yelled.

“But here’s the catch.” He snapped his fingers and another person appeared in the room, landing in the chair that Castiel was sitting in.

“Sam,” Dean yelled when he realized who it was. He tried to go to him, but Lucifer grabbed him to stop him. “Let me go.”

“I also have Sam. And only one of them goes free.”

“What?” Dean and Sam said at the same time.

“Make the choice, Dean,” Belial said.

Dean stared at his brother who looked confused as to how he got where he was. “I choose myself,” he answered automatically. He would rather sacrifice himself than have to give up either of them.

“Dean, don’t,” Castiel said.

“Of course you do, Dean,” Belial said. He expected the hunter to react that way. “But that isn’t one of your options.”

“Make it one,” Dean growled.

“The rules have already been made, Dean.”

“You can’t ask me to make a choice like that.” He wanted to say Sam. He was supposed to say Sam. It was automatic. But when he looked at Castiel in Belial’s grasp, bleeding, he couldn’t make the words fall from his lips. The choice wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

“Dean, I am,” Belial said with a smile. “How about a little incentive? You make a choice, regardless of who it is, and the Leviathans leave you alone.”

“Bullshit,” he hissed. He knew Belial could not promise him that.

“I bring the Leviathan one of these bodies, the Leviathans won’t actively pursue you anymore. They will just defend themselves if you come after them.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Then I don’t have anything at stake.” They wouldn’t stop trying to find ways to kill the Leviathan. And he was sure the Leviathans would still come after them thinking they were a threat.

“Then how about this. You tell me which one I get to keep, or I take both of them.”

“Damnit,” Dean hissed. He wished he didn’t see that coming.

“Come on, Dean. It’s always been about saving Sammy, right?”

“Fuck you,” Dean yelled. He thought about the things he wanted to do to make Belial suffer if he had the chance.

“I can hear you threatening me in your thoughts, Dean.” The fallen angel smirked. “Come on, righteous man. Show me what you did to start the apocalypse.”

“Don’t tempt him, Belial,” Lucifer warned. He saw what Dean did to Satan. He knew how much further Dean would go to avenge Castiel.

“This doesn’t concern you, Lucifer.”

“It does, actually. Because you are holding my vessel.” Lucifer said. He looked to Castiel in Belial’s arms. “And my brother.”

Belial ignored Lucifer and shook his head. “Show me what Alastair taught you,” he said to Dean.

“Why don’t you climb onto a rack or into one of your little Rings of Fire and I can show you everything I learned from him.”

Belial’s smirk grew into a smile. “That almost sent a shiver down my spine.” He almost wanted to give Dean a chance to show what he was taught in Hell. “I’ll give you a couple of minutes to make your decision. It must be a difficult one. I can see how much you love both of them.”

Dean found himself pushed into a chair that wasn’t behind him a second ago. He fought to keep his arms from being tied behind his back, but it was no good. “The fuck,” he growled, trying to get out of his bonds.

“Sit, youngest.” He eased Castiel into a new chair that Belial brought into the room. “You look tired.” He snapped his fingers and Castiel was bound to the chair again. Then he looked to the former ruler of Hell. “You, Lucifer, look like you have a lot to say to me.”

“I do.”

“Well, where to begin?”

Lucifer knew exactly where he wanted to start. “So, Belial.”

“Yes?”

“Why have you thrown your lot in with the beasts?”

Belial shrugged. “Why not?”

“They’re below us,” Lucifer answered. All this time, he thought that Belial had shared the same views as he did when it came to the Leviathans. He wanted to know when and why the opinion changed.

“But they don’t need permission.”

“What?”

“They can take over the things of this planet without having to ask. Unlike us. We’re still bound to the laws of our Father even though we have nothing to do with Him anymore.”

Lucifer could hear the disgust Belial felt. “There is a balance that Father felt needed to be kept in the world.”

“And the Leviathans are tipping the scales,” Belial said with a smile big enough to nearly cut his face in half. “You’re playing for the wrong side, Lucifer. The losing side. There is not order in Heaven anymore. Father’s been missing for eons and you know it’s true because if He were around, this would not have been allowed to happen.”

Lucifer shook his head. He could not believe his brother was so stupid. He would let Belial continue to think that their Father was missing. There was no reason for him to know the truth of why and how he was brought back.

“Tell me something, Belial,” Michael said.

“What?”

The eldest archangel turned to look at Castiel sitting quietly on the chair. “If the mission is just to wreak havoc on this plane, why torture the youngest?”

“Leviathan told us to.”

“No, Leviathan told you to watch him,” Lucifer corrected. He saw the memories. He knew the truth. “That means, you leave him in a ring of fire, and that’s it. Why torture him?”

“We got bored,” Belial said with a shrug.

“So, in your boredom, you let demons touch his grace?” Balthazar yelled. Everyone knew that if he weren’t trapped in the ring then Belial would have been sporting some kind of injury, at least.

“I didn’t let them do anything,” he said defensively. He turned to the angel who would understand the most. “You know how demons are, Lucifer. They like having fun.”

“You could have stopped them,” Gabriel said.

“They were bored too. I made sure they didn’t do any permanent damage to our youngest.”

The angels and Dean were seething. The damage was not only physical. They knew everything Castiel had gone through over the past few months.

“Belial, you idiot,” Lucifer spat. “What makes you think the demons won’t use that technique against us?”

“They won’t,” Belial said, adamant and sure.

“You don’t know that.”

“The only demons that knew how much blood was needed are dead. We are safe.”

“How could you do that to your own kind?” Lucifer asked. What Belial allowed to happen to Castiel was despicable. He would never wish that on any angel.

“They are completely different from us, Lucifer. You know that.”

“Castiel wasn’t a part of our war.”

“But his wings weren’t singed like ours, Light Bringer. That means he wasn’t on our side.” He looked down at Castiel sitting obediently on the chair. He put a hand on Castiel’s shoulder and squeezed, using a bit of his angelic strength. It earned him a groan, which was more of a response than he expected. He didn’t want to hurt Castiel, he just wanted to see everyone’s reactions. “You seem attached.”

Lucifer’s poker face was put back on. He was disappointed that his façade slipped for that moment. “Father cares about him.” He couldn’t risk showing how much he may or may not have cared about Castiel.

“Father?” Belial said. “Our Father? Who discarded us from Heaven? You’re still listening to Him?” Belial could not believe it. Lucifer, out of all angels, should have been most upset with Him.

“Yes, I am.”

“You’re growing soft, Lucifer. Teaming up with big brother.” Belial sent a glare to Michael that he would not have been brave enough to send if the archangel weren’t trapped.

“Seemed like the better option than teaming up with the beasts. You may as well be working for dirt.”

“Do you see the chaos they’re creating on this planet? What’s beautiful is that these pathetic inhabitants don’t even realize what is going on.”

“None of it is your doing,” Lucifer growled. Belial did not deserve the pride he held for the planet falling apart. “How long do you think before they come after you? They were strong enough to take out an angel.” His eyes went to Castiel who sat silently on the chair. “Do you actually think you’re stronger than them?”

“I know I’m stronger than Castiel. He was weak and that’s the only reason why the Leviathans were able to take him. Castiel wasn’t prepared. I am.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Hurtful, Lucifer. But look at the statistics. Who has been locked up in the cage this past year?” He pointed to Lucifer. “Who has been on Earth while it’s been falling to pieces?” Belial pointed to himself and smiled.

“With chaos,” Lucifer argued. “At least when I tried to end the world, I made it an art form.”

“I understand what you’re trying to say, Lucifer,” Belial replied. “But we focused our art on something else. I mean, what we did to Castiel. Everything. It was beautiful.”

Lucifer shook his head. “Not the same thing.”

Belial ignored Lucifer. “It was amazing, though. After everything we did to him, our angel still had hope.”

Dean took a break from trying to get out of his bonds. All the while his wrists were being torn up as he tried to pull his hands free, he did not stop listening to the conversation. “You couldn’t break him,” he said, proud of Castiel.

“But we were so close. I mean, he was tortured so badly that now, I can’t even sense his grace in him.”

Dean shook his head, he was glad that Belial didn’t know about the angels removing most of Castiel’s grace and tucking the rest of it away. “Close isn’t good enough.” He learned that in Hell. It was either the person or soul or whatever completely broke, or the torturer failed.

“Quiet one, this one.” He ran his hand gently down the side of Castiel’s face. “Never wanting anyone to know how much pain he was actually in. But I can guarantee you that a few more days with us, he would have been renouncing our Father’s name.”

“I would never—” Castiel tried to continue to speak, but his lips were stuck together.

“Sh… Youngest. The older siblings are taking.” Belial’s eyes scanned across the room to Dean who was squirming in his chair. “Dean, I could destroy you with the snap of a finger. You aren’t as sneaky as you think.”

“Fuck,” Dean swore. He wasn’t even close to getting out of the chair. But at least the attention was off Castiel for a minute.

“Have you made your decision?”

Dean hadn’t even thought about it. He was more concerned with trying to get out of the chair than having to choose who lived and who died. He looked to the only angel on their side that wasn’t trapped in a Ring of Fire. “Lucifer, do something, please.”

“I can’t do anything without risking your brother or mine.” Lucifer hated how trapped he was even though he wasn’t surrounded by fire.

“How about if I phrase the question differently?” Belial said. He burned the ropes off of Castiel pulled him up from his seat. He held him flush against his chest with a hand on Castiel’s neck. Belial pulled out one of his feathers and waited for it to transform into a sword. He held the tip of it just under Castiel’s collarbone. He didn’t want the death to be quick. “Who can you live without, Dean?”

That made the choice much harder for Dean. He couldn’t live without either of them. He looked at Lucifer and saw that he was going to kill Belial regardless of the choice he made. “Tell me what to do,” he said to his brother and Castiel. Dean didn’t want any of the pressure of making this decision.

“Dean, it’s all right,” Castiel said.

“No,” Dean replied. Because it wasn’t. Especially since he knew what Castiel was telling him to choose.

“You’ll make the right decision,” Castiel said.

“The faith you have in him is astounding,” Belial said. He knew what the choice would be in the end. He pressed the tip of the sword deeper into Castiel’s chest. He spun the sword and it acted like a screw burrowing itself slowly into Castiel’s skin. “Do you really think he’d make the right decision?”

“He already made the right decision when he chose himself,” Castiel argued.

“Quiet,” Belial yelled, pushing the sword in just a fraction of a centimeter. “As righteous as that was, it’s not one of the choices.”

“Dean,” Castiel said, staring into his eyes. “Choose.”

Dean blinked. A single tear rolled down his cheek. He shook his head. He wouldn’t choose between them. He would not choose who he could not live without.

“Dean,” Belial sang. “Time is running out.” He pushed the sword deeper into Castiel. He already knew Dean’s choice. He wanted to get a head start.

“Dean,” Castiel said. “It’s all right.”

“Fuck,” Dean whispered with a crack in his voice. “Cas, this isn’t how it’s supposed to go.”

Castiel nodded slowly. “I know, Dean.”

“You two are breaking my heart,” Belial said. He stopped moving the knife and relaxed his grip. He’d give them their moment to say goodbye.

Castiel looked into Dean’s eyes and saw the pain and frustration in them. He wanted nothing more than to take it away. This wasn’t supposed to be a difficult decision. Dean was supposed to choose his brother. Castiel sent a smile Dean’s way to reassure him that everything would turn out the way it was supposed to.

Time passed slowly around him. He could hear the wings of every angel flapping. He could hear Dean and Sam’s heartbeats racing. He could see the angels trying to figure out what to do to save him. He could feel Belial’s heart beating against his spine.

He looked down at the sword and saw how weak Belial’s grip was on it.

It was his chance.

Both of his hands shot up and wrapped around Belial’s and the handle of the sword. Without a second thought, Castiel pulled the sword into the body. He felt every inch of the sword cut into him, but he fought through the shock and the pain and continued to pull the sword into him.

At least until he felt the sword pierce through Belial’s chest.

“Cas!”

“Castiel!”

“Youngest!”

“Cas!”

“Cassy!”

“Belial.”

While everyone yelled, Lucifer flew. He flew behind Belial and grabbed the back of his head by his hair. His other hand went to Castiel’s shoulder and he pushed the youngest angel forward, separating he angels. He used his powers to ease Castiel to his knees.

“Lucifer,” Belial gasped, his hand going to the wound on his chest. “Help me,” he whispered as blood and grace seeped through his fingertips.

“No,” Lucifer said, tightening his grip on Belial’s hair.

“Lucifer,” Belial pleaded. “Please.”

“You never raise a hand to someone who wasn’t a part of our war. You had no reason to go after Castiel.”

“So because of that, you’ll let me die?” Belial asked.

“No,” Lucifer said. He let go of Belial’s hair. “Because of that, I’m going to be the one to kill you.” Lucifer reached up and a pulled a feather from his wings. As soon as it into a sword, he thrust it into the base of Belial’s skull.

He held onto Belial as the grace exploded from him. Once Belial died, he threw him to the side of the room as if he weighed nothing. Ashes fell around Belial, forming the outline of his wings.

He lowered his hand and Dean was freed from the ropes and the angels were freed from the rings.

“Cas!” Dean yelled when he saw the threat was gone and he was finally free. He looked at Sam who was being untied by Gabriel. Sam glared at him with eyes that threatened to murder him if he took a step toward him instead of Castiel.

“I’m fine,” he said. “Go!” he yelled when Dean didn’t move.

“Cas,” Dean said, then he slid to the floor where Castiel was still holding himself up by his arm. When the arm gave out, Dean stuck his hand out and caught Castiel’s head to keep it from hitting the floor. He eased him down, and put a hand on his shoulder while the other went to put pressure on the wound around the sword. He looked into Castiel’s eyes. “You stupid, idiotic bastard,” Dean hissed.

“I… I thought I did something right,” Castiel whispered through the pain. He tried to take his mind off of it by concentrating on his breathing. “Why are you calling me names?”

“Damnit, Cas, you didn’t have to do that,” Dean replied in the same volume.

“I would never have you make a choice between me and your brother, Dean,” Castiel replied.

“Youngest, that was quite foolish of you.”

“I’d kick your ass right now if you weren’t bleeding all over the floor,” Dean hissed. Tears sat on the brim of his eyes, ready to fall with a blink. He didn’t care if everyone would see.

Castiel reluctantly broke eye-contact with Dean and looked at his eldest brother. “Michael. Why is Dean angry with me?

Dean’s hands tightened on Castiel’s shoulder and chest. He had to add pressure to keep himself from shaking. “Cas, I swear, if you explode, I’ll never forgive you.”

He thinks you’re dying, youngest.”

Castiel nodded when he understood the reasoning behind Dean’s panic. He looked back at Dean, wanting to calm him down. “Dean,” he started. He didn’t want him to think he was in any danger when he wasn’t.

“Cas, shut up,” Dean snapped. “If you die… you can’t. Not after I… you just came back. Cas, you can’t.” He pushed his hand deeper into Castiel’s chest. “Cas, come on. If you need a soul or something to patch that up—”

“No,” Castiel said loudly. The answer shook his entire body. He coughed up some blood.

Dean’s eyes widened. He knew that coughing up blood was never a good sign. “Cas, now is not the time to be stubborn. If you need it, I’m giving it to you.”

Castiel shook his head as best he could while lying on the floor. He had nothing to be able to touch as soul. And even if he had enough of his grace, he would never use Dean’s soul to heal himself. Castiel shook as a wave of pain rolled through him. “Dean. I—”

“Cas, I swear. If I see light coming out of you and you die, I’ll kill you myself.”

“That makes no sense,” Castiel replied. He looked up to his oldest brother. “Michael, can you heal my wound now?

“Yes,” Michael replied. He reached down and pulled the sword out of Castiel’s chest.

“What are you doing?” Dean yelled. Blood ran out of the wound quicker now that the sword was removed. He tried to keep pressure on it.

Michael gently eased Dean out of the way. He couldn’t bear look at his true vessel and see the anguish in his eyes. “Close your eyes.” He put a hand on the wound and the other on Castiel’s forehead.

Dean closed his eyes even though he was sure Michael was speaking to Castiel. He felt the heat that came whenever an angel’s grace was exposed. He was terrified that the grace was coming from Castiel.

A scream that rang so loudly it threatened to shatter Dean’s eardrums was followed by a pulse wave so strong it sent him onto his back. He wanted to open his eyes and see what was going on, but he did not want his eyes to get burned out.

Then, in an instant, it all died down, and the air returned to the room. Dean opened his eyes and saw Sam tucked into a corner. Balthazar, Gabriel, and Lucifer stood as still as statues with their eyes on Castiel and Michael.

Dean stood up and dusted himself off. He slowly made his way back to Castiel’s side. He looked down and felt like he was about to throw up. He stared at Castiel lying unmoving on the floor. He didn’t want to look anywhere but the body, because if he saw an outline of wings on the floor, he would have broke down. He wanted to scream at Michael. He was supposed to help Castiel, but Castiel looked dead. He couldn’t take it. He felt like he couldn’t breathe. He didn’t care that tears were flowing freely down his face.

After what felt like an eternity, Castiel gasped and grabbed Michael’s hand on his chest.

“Cas?” Dean asked.

“Castiel,” Michael gasped at the same time.

Dean made his way back to Castiel’s side. “You okay?” He was getting tired of Castiel scaring him and coming back to life that way.

“Yes,” Castiel replied. He sat up with a groan. He let go of Michael’s hand. When Michael retracted his hand, he looked down at where he had stabbed himself. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been healed by a brother.”

“How are you okay?” Dean asked.

“I was healed.”

“I get that. But you’re an angel. You were stabbed with a sword. You should be dead.”

“I’m not an angel.”

Dean’s eyes widened enough that they should’ve fallen out of his skull. “What do you mean you’re not an angel?” he yelled. He looked to the other angels to fill him in.

Castiel grabbed Dean’s chin and turned it so their eyes met. For a moment, he stared into Dean’s eyes, not saying anything. He waited for Dean to be ready to accept whatever Castiel was about to tell him. “I don’t have my grace. When Belial stabbed me, I was human.”

“You don’t have most of your grace.”

“I gave the remainder of my grace to you when I sent you to Bobby’s.” His hand dropped down to Dean’s left shoulder. He put his hand over the handprint, feeling his grace humming under his fingertips.

Dean shook his head and made his way to his feet. He couldn’t process all the information coming at him. He was still stuck on the fact that Castiel was somehow still alive. “So, I’m spilling my soul out to you, and the entire time you’re fine?”

Castiel got up and stood toe to toe with Dean. “I tried to tell you. But you are irrational and unreasonable when you’re scared.”

Dean grabbed the front of Castiel’s shirt and shook him. “You didn’t get to fake your death so I start rambling.”

Castiel pushed Dean’s hands off of his shirt. “If you had let me explain, I would have told you I—”

“Oh, will you two just say you love each other and kiss already?” Balthazar said above their arguing. “After all this, you still can’t accept your feelings for each other and just be happy together.”

“I think they enjoy the sexual tension,” Gabriel said.

Dean and Castiel looked at everyone else in the room at the same time. They had forgotten that they weren’t alone. “You can all shut your mouths.” Dean grabbed Castiel’s wrist and pulled him in for a hug. “You have to stop dying,” he whispered in his ear.

Castiel couldn’t ignore for me that was left off at the end. “It’s not like I go in to something planning to die,” he whispered back.

“Multiple deaths and returns. That’s quite Winchester of you,” Balthazar said.

For the second time in a few minutes, Dean and Castiel forgot there were other people in the room with them. They finally separated.

Dean’s eyes wandered around the room. He needed to look anywhere but Castiel’s face. His gaze when to Belial’s discarded body in the corner of the room. “So, Belial’s dead?”

Castiel’s eyes followed Dean’s. He walked slowly over to Belial’s body and knelt in front of him. He stared into Belial’s eyes that had stayed open through his death. He reached over and gently shut them with his fingers.

He leaned over and placed a kiss on Belial’s vessel’s forehead. “Rest, brother,” Castiel whispered. He said a short prayer in Enochian.

He stood up and walked to be with everyone else in the room. They all had their eyes on him. He was nervous that he did something wrong.

“You look better,” Dean said, needing to break the tension in the room. It was difficult to ignore how much more at peace Castiel looked. Even without his grace, there was something ethereal about him.

“I feel safe,” Castiel replied.

Dean nodded once. “Good.”

The room fell quiet. The gravity of what Castiel had said took some time to settle in everyone. They were actually able to help Castiel heal. They saved him from dying. And they got through it in one piece.

That was a rarity.

“Gabriel, send those two back to Montana,” Sam said, breaking the short silence.

Dean tore his gaze away from Castiel and glared at his brother. “Where are you going?” Dean had no idea where that came from. Sam better not had expected him and Castiel to start research while they were off somewhere else.

“I haven’t seen Missouri in years.”

Dean nodded in agreement. When he left Missouri’s all those weeks ago, she told him to tell Sam to call. She would appreciate seeing him. “Yeah, I think she’ll be glad to see you.” Then his thoughts went back to the first thing Sam said. “So, while you’re there, what are we supposed to do in Montana?”

Sam sent a look to his brother that told him he did not want to answer that question out loud. “We’ll meet up tomorrow to debrief,” he said. He turned to Gabriel and nodded to him.

Before Dean and Castiel could say anything, Gabriel was in front of them. He was smiling his smile that meant he was up to something. “Have fun,” he said, then reached up and touched both of them on their foreheads.

[Chapter 13]   [Masterpost]   [Chapter 15]


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dauntperplexity

August 2012

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