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Stairway from Zion 3b/6 (SPN, R)

Title: Stairway From Zion
Rating: R
Warnings: Mentions of torture. Violence, war scenes, cursing, drug withdrawal, medical experimentation, species prejudice, sex.
Wordcount: 63k
Summary: Orwellian AU. During the same raid that had Castiel crashing through the windshield of Dean’s getaway car, Dean loses both Sam and Anna to the hands of the angels. Human and angel should hate each other as circumstances dictate, but life has a funny way of changing the preordained path.

When and if Dean finds Gabriel, he’s going to kill the son of a bitch.

Gabriel’s radio is still in his locker, which is annoying but not unexpected. An announcement put over the PA system reaps nothing. Nobody knows where the hell he’s gone, or if they do, they’re sure not spilling a word of it to Dean. To make matters worse, his shoulder and chest have gone past the throbbing stage and are now making themselves known with full-blown blazes of pain. Dean finds himself taking the painkillers two at a time, which definitely can’t be good.

He finally gives up around four in the afternoon. He makes his way to the cafeteria, drops heavily into a seat, and pulls out the packet of pills for the umpteeth time, crinkling the plastic in restless hands. There are only six left out of the original dozen, but fuck, it hurts to breathe. He pulls his shirt back to look at his throbbing shoulder and winces as he sees the bandage is stained through with blood.

Dean scrubs his face with his palms wearily. He wants to sleep like there’s no tomorrow. He wants to get seriously fucking drunk and pass out. He wants the events of the past few hours—days—weeks—to vanish as if they never existed. More than anything, he wants the hollowness in his chest to go away.

Unfortunately, life’s a bitch and he’s not going to get any of that, because he’s Dean fucking Winchester.

“Well, fuck you,” he mutters to himself.

“Thought I raised you better than that, boy,” a gruff voice says. Dean opens his eyes and forces out a tired smile as Bobby slides into the seat next to him. “Been looking for you all day. You look like shit.”

“Thanks a ton, Bobby.”

“It’s true. You should get some more sleep,” Bobby advises.

“I can’t,” Dean says wearily. “I’ve got to look for Gabriel. Ellen’s orders.”

“Gabriel’s a big boy. He can take care of himself,” Bobby says. “You wouldn’t push yourself this much if there weren’t some other reason behind it all. What’s really bothering you?”

Dean groans and drops his head into his hands. “Spare me the shrink talk, Bobby,” he says. “I’m fine. Just tired. I mean, I was only in a firefight and zeppelin crash yesterday, nothing major.”

“Don’t get sarcastic with me,” Bobby says. Dean feels something nudge the side of his face and looks up to see a roll held inches from his nose. “Eat something before you fall over. We can’t have you collapsing of starvation in the midst of plenty.”

“I’m fine, Bobby,” Dean says irritably. Actually, he hurts like fuck and feels kind of nauseous in the bargain, but hey, for the purposes of this conversation it’s one and the same. “What did you want me for, anyway?”

“Want you for? I don’t always need a reason to seek you out,” Bobby answers, setting the roll down on the table. He adjusts his cap slightly and looks sternly at Dean. Dean returns his stare flatly. “What?”

“Keep it up, Bobby,” Dean says tiredly, rubbing his forehead.

Bobby threads his fingers together and stares off into the distance for a long moment. “You did good work out there, Dean,” Bobby says finally, not looking at Dean.

“What happened to the kids? The old?” Dean asks. “Did they die in the crash or…”

Bobby hesitates before answering. “They’re…four of them are in the infirmary. Two others got rushed to emergency surgery yesterday afternoon. They should be doing okay.”

“How many dead?” Dean asks bleakly.

Bobby fidgets with the rim of his cap. “You managed to save the compound from a massacre, Dean,” he not-answers. “You did the best you could when it came to defending those people. Dean, it was the—”

“How many dead?”

“They ain’t your responsibility,” Bobby says firmly. “And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.”

Dean gives out a low hiss of frustration, but Bobby seems unmoved. “Fine,” Dean finally manages through clenched teeth. “Maybe the kids aren’t, maybe I did do the ‘best I could,’ whatever the fuck that means. But Gwen and Pamela and Victor were. Pamela might never see again, Victor and Gwen are dead. Sam’s—he’s— ” Dean flinches as pain, both mental and physical, streaks through his chest.

Bobby sighs. “Sam was like a son to me, you know that,” he says quietly. “I miss that boy more than you’ll ever know. But I can’t just let myself sit around, not when people are dying out there, Dean. We’ve still got work to do.”

“What is it that you think we can accomplish?” Dean demands, and damn it, now he’s shouting, the normal hubbub of the cafeteria quieting to hear his outburst. “What’re we doing here, Bobby, if it’s a war we can never win and an enemy that can never feel? We aren’t doing anything to the angels except maybe annoying them, and hell of a lot good that’s going to do!”

“What’s gotten into you, boy? It ain’t like you to be a quitter,” Bobby says, eyes narrowed.

“Yeah, well, I’m not a lot of things, Bobby. I’m not a hero, and I’m sick of seeing people die. You know what, Bobby? I’m done, all right? I’m done.”

It comes in a rush—all of a sudden, Dean is acutely aware of the eyes on him, the tense silence that’s fallen over the cafeteria, the people and their hopes and their expectations. He’s a Winchester, a member of the council, a commanding officer in this ragtag little organization. And in the end, though, what can he actually do? Can he save people from getting shot down by the angels? Can he save the people he loves? Can he save Sam?


He’s so tired.

He stalks out of the cafeteria and into the corridors at a relentless pace, heedless of the growing pain in his chest and shoulder. It feels deserved, like penance for a growing list of sins. He’s been in dozens of fights over the years, and the list of casualties grows as the memories unfurl in his mind. Logically, he knows that he’s not responsible for most of them—hell, maybe all of them—but his brain presents a much more convincing case when it tells logic to go and fuck itself.

The halls grow more crowded as he moves through the halls, and it takes him a few minutes to realize that his steps have been leading him towards the infirmary. Pamela, he thinks with a pang. He hasn’t seen her all day, and she might never see him again.

He picks his way carefully through the waiting lines of the injured before easing open the door to infirmary two. He looks for the bed she was lying on yesterday, but there’s someone else on it instead—a stocky bald guy with two broken limbs. “Damn it,” Dean mutters under his breath, dread filling him. That means one of two things—she’s been moved to another room, or she’s dead.

He backs out of the room and heads for the medical office. The normally pristine office is cluttered; several of the desks have been shoved together to make room for four pallets on the ground. Jo sits crouched on one of the chairs, typing furiously on a grubby old-fashioned keyboard. He perches gingerly on the table next to her, mindful of the growing throb in his shoulder. “Hey.”

“What do you want, Dean?” Jo asks, not looking up.

Something to knock me out until all this shit is over, Dean thinks, but he doesn’t say it out loud. “Have you seen Pamela?” he asks instead.

Jo glances at him. “I think she’s been moved to infirmary four,” she says. “We’re trying to triage everyone, and the worst cases should be there.” She frowns. “Are you okay, Dean? You look kind of flushed.”

“I’m fine,” Dean manages. “Thanks, Jo.”

“No problem,” Jo says, but she gives him one last troubled glance before turning away. Dean heads out of the office and for infirmary four, bracing himself before he opens the door. The stink of blood intensifies even before he’s got the door fully open, and it gets worse once he steps inside.

There are normally four beds into this infirmary, but the furniture has been rearranged to double the occupancy. He looks around hoping to find Pamela, but they’re all bandaged to the gills and it’s hard to tell who’s who. “Missouri,” he calls, spotting her talking to another person. “Do you know where—”

He stops as Missouri stops talking and her companion turns to look inquiringly at Dean. “What the hell are you doing here?” Dean demands, surprised by the roughness of his voice. “Missouri, why’d you let him in?”

Castiel glances at him briefly before turning back to the epad in his hands. The angel seems be just as off-balance as Dean, as he fumbles the epad for a moment before setting it down. “He wanted to help,” Missouri says with a frown, looking between the two of them. “Is that a problem, Dean?”

“Help? What the hell?” Dean snaps. “Can’t you have the decency to leave them alone, you son of a bitch?” he demands, taking a step towards Castiel.

“Language, Dean!” Missouri chides, crossing her arms.

“I don’t often walk amongst the dead and dying,” Castiel says, meeting Dean’s glare. “It’s—” he takes a deep breath. “Strange.”

“So now they’re your own personal freakshow, is that it?” Dean snaps.

Castiel tilts his head as if he doesn’t quite understand, but there’s no time to figure it out as Missouri grabs him firmly by the shoulder. Dean stifles a yelp as her hand grips just above the soaked bandage and pulls him out the door. “Dean, what’s going on?” she asks as the door closes behind them. “What’s really bothering you?”

“What the—nothing’s bothering me, Missouri,” Dean says, fumbling under her steady gaze. “I’m just—look, he’s not like Anna, okay? Anna was one of us, and she would’ve died—did die for us. Castiel…he’s an angel. You can’t just let him wander around like that.”

Missouri raises an eyebrow. “He’s not wandering around. We need all the hands we can get, Dean. You know that perfectly well.”

“It’s just—an angel—” Dean sputters, feeling hot under the collar of his shirt. “I didn’t—Missouri, that’s not fair.”

The last sentence comes out far more desperate that he intends to be. Fuck. He never meant to whine about this shit, but now he’s complaining about it to everyone who comes his way—Castiel. Bobby. And now, Missouri. Next thing you know, he’s going to have a public breakdown in the middle of the cafeteria and start—no, wait, he already did that. Shit.

Missouri sighs. Dean hastily holds up a hand to forestall her reaction. “Look, Missouri, I know, okay? We’re doing our best to get Sam, there’s a job to do, so on and so forth. I get it. I’ll get it done. I—I just wish that the angels would go away to wherever they came from. Life’s a whole less complicated without them.”

Wishes? Wishes don’t count for anything, soldier. Stop daydreaming and keep your focus on the goal.

Yes, sir. Right away, sir.

“Sometimes I think we’re as bad as the Republic,” Missouri says. Her voice is soft, almost drowned by the buzzing in Dean’s ears. “Angel, demon, human—we all come from the same stock, Dean. Every one of us should have a chance to choose who we want to be, even Castiel.”

“We can’t choose who we are,” Dean manages through gritted teeth.

“We can’t control the circumstances that chance throws to us. What we can do is to choose what we want to do with them,” Missouri corrects gently. She studies him for a moment, her eyes softening. Dean turns away from her, unable to stand the look in her eyes. “Dean, you’re not a bad person.”

A good man would’ve been able to resist Hell. A good man would’ve been able to save Sam, Victor, Gwen, Anna, the countless others who’ve died at the hands of the angels. A good man would’ve returned Castiel to the Republic—no, wait. He would’ve—tortured him? ignored him? let the strangers beat him up? pumped him full of Croat to get through detox?

There’s no easy ending to that sentence.


Slowly, Dean forces himself to look at her. “Missouri—” he begins before trailing off into miserable silence. “I’m just tired,” he says finally. “I’ll…I’ll work it out. Tomorrow.” He gives a tired laugh. “I might even apologize to Castiel, but only if I’m in a really good mood.”

Missouri frowns. “You look more than tired, Dean.” She brushes a hand against his forehead, and her frown deepens. “You’re burning up!”

“No, I’m not,” Dean protests, but it goes unheard.

Missouri pulls him back into infirmary four. Castiel looks up from changing a bandage as they enter, and she gestures at him impatiently. “Get me a thermometer,” she orders. Castiel retrieves one and hands it to her, a crease appearing between his eyebrows. “Open,” Missouri says to Dean, and as he obeys, she pops the thermometer into his mouth. It beeps a second later, and she studies the reading for a moment before giving Dean an exasperated look. “101 degrees,” she announces. “You definitely have a fever.”

“His shoulder is injured,” Castiel says from behind her, and Dean gives him an indignant glare. Traitor. Not that he expected anything else from an angel. “The bandage needs changing.”

“Didn’t stop you from slamming me into the wall,” Dean mutters as Missouri peels back the sleeve of his shirt. “Son of a—ow!” he hisses as his shirt snags on part of the bandage. Missouri’s eyes widen as she regards the red stains soaking through the previously white fabric. She looks up at him accusingly, and he winces. “Missouri—”

“Don’t you ‘Missouri’ me!” she snaps with surprising energy. “You’re on bedrest for the next few days, you understand? If you’re running a fever, that means that—I knew it,” she says as she peels away the bandage. “Hang on, I’ll get you some antibiotics.”

“Missouri,” he tries again, but she ignores him, moving off to pull something out of a cabinet on the wall. Dean’s acutely aware of Castiel’s eyes lingering on the oozing slice in his shoulder, and of the tentative hand Castiel raises to touch it. “What?” he demands as Castiel’s fingers hover lightly over the wound, inches away from the bare skin. “Your dick buddies did this, you know.”

“A wing cut,” Castiel murmurs. “The serrated edge has a distinct pattern.”

“No shit, Sherlock,” Dean says. Castiel looks up at him, a small frown crossing his face. “What?”

“Gabriel…” Castiel says, sounding distant. “Does he still have his wings, or were they confiscated like mine?”

Dean frowns. “He’s still got them. Keeps them in his room, I think. Why do you ask?”

Castiel opens his mouth as if he’s going to speak, but as Missouri walks over holding a needle full of yellow gunk, he closes his mouth again. “This might sting a bit,” she says, and that’s all the warning Dean gets before she stabs the needle into the crease of his elbow. “It’ll help with the infection, but you’re still confined to bed, you hear?” She unrolls a length of bandage and briskly begins to dress the wound.

“Wait. What do you know about Gabriel?” Dean persist, batting Missouri aside to get to Castiel. “What’s his wings got to do with it?”

Castiel looks back at him. His eyes flicker away for the briefest of moments, and then he says, “You need to rest.”

“I’ll rest later!” Dean shouts. “Damn it, Castiel, what aren’t you telling me?”

The other patients stir at the sound, and Missouri shoots him an irritated look. Castiel places a hand on her shoulder, and she turns to look at him. “Perhaps he would rest better in his own room,” Castiel says. “It’s quieter there.”

Missouri frowns. “He needs to sleep. A proper sleep, without running around.”

“I’ll ensure it,” Castiel says.

“What the—no!” Dean protests. “I can take care of myself, Missouri, I’m not eight!”

“When it comes to staying still, Dean, you might as well be. Fine. He’s your responsibility now,” Missouri says to Castiel. “Sit on him if you have to, as long as he stays in bed. He needs to have that shoulder redressed tomorrow, and if the infection’s bad enough he’ll need another injection—”

“I’ll take care of it,” Castiel says, looking steadily back at Dean’s accusing stare. “I owe him.”

Missouri pauses. “Okay then. I’ll take that at face value and not as a vaguely ominous sign. Dean, try not to kill yourself.” Her hand falls on his uninjured shoulder and squeezes lightly. “You don’t have to carry all the world’s burdens on your shoulders, you know.”


Dean waits until they get to his room. He even sits down onto the bed like a good little patient, waiting for Castiel to close the door and draw nearer. As the angel comes close, Dean uses every iota of his strength and slams Castiel back into the wall, their faces inches apart. “Tell me what you know,” Dean breathes. “Why are the wings so important?” He shakes Castiel. “Tell me!”

Castiel could easily throw him off if the morning’s fight is any indication, but he doesn’t. He stays still under Dean’s hold, not even blinking as he meets Dean’s glare with clear blue eyes. “You’re not—”

“If you say that I’m not rational, so help me, busted shoulder or not I will kick your ass!” Dean growls. “Damn it, Cas, what aren’t you telling me?”

The tension draws out for a long, slow moment. “If his wings are gone, then Gabriel is gone as well,” Castiel says quietly.

“What?” Dean asks. “What do you mean?” There’s a roaring in his ears that’s slowly growing louder.

“We don’t leave our wings behind,” Castiel says simply.

“You don’t know that. The bastard’s been Fallen for years,” Dean says, fighting to keep his breathing steady. “He might’ve just put his wings elsewhere. Or maybe he chucked them out years ago because they got rusty—”

“Wingsteel doesn’t rust.”

“Or maybe he’s out for a joyride. Or maybe he melted them down and sold them for candy. You don’t know that. You don’t know where he is, you son of a bitch, you’re lying—”

“Why would I lie?” Castiel asks, and now he’s pushing back, slowly but firmly backing Dean towards the bed. “I have no reason to defend Gabriel.”

“He’s your brother,” Dean says, and damn it, he’s all but hyperventilating, something clawing at his chest in a desperate attempt to break free. “I’d do anything for my brother—lie for him, die for him—” go to Hell for him— “and you’re an angel, you’d do anything for your stupid fucking Father—”

“He’s gone, Dean.”

The words are like a knife stabbing into his chest. “Shut up,” Dean manages through clenched teeth. “Damn you, stop talking, shut your fucking mouth, you don’t know what you’re saying—fucking angel, go to hell—”

He’d tear the world apart for Sam, starting with this angel.

But Castiel’s stronger than he looks, pinning Dean to the bed despite his thrashing and fighting. Dean tries all his tricks in a desperate attempt to break free, but Castiel holds him firmly, unmoved by his struggles. “Fuck you!” Dean hisses, ignoring the stabs of pain as he kicks out wildly at Castiel. “Let me go, you asshole, or I’ll fucking rip your guts out—”

But the threat doesn’t work any better than it did this morning. Castiel’s breathing remains calm and steady, his eyes refusing to give an inch of leeway. “Dean,” he says as Dean finally runs out of breath to curse him with and is frantically sucking in gulps of air despite the pain. Dean wearily drags his eyes up to look at him, the stupid infuriating angel who’s a hell of a lot stronger than he seems. “Stop this,” Castiel says softly, and Dean finds himself unconsciously obeying the order as his muscles fall limp against his will.

Castiel’s hand moves up to curl around Dean’s, interlacing their fingers together. Dean grips back tightly, taking the offered anchor with a terrible urgency. Fucking angels, Castiel has no right to do this, why can’t he just go to hell and leave Dean alone, damn it—

“Because I owe you,” Castiel says into his ear, and the sentence takes on a whole new meaning. “You’ll self-destruct if you keep this up, Dean. Don’t try to deny it.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Dean wheezes. “You have to right to dictate my life to me—”

Something nudges at the corner of Castiel’s mouth, the tiniest hint of a smile. “I’m an angel of the Lord,” Castiel says, straight-faced. “And we are generally the dictating kind.”

It’s enough to give Dean pause as he stares in confusion. “Since when did you get a sense of humor?” he demands when he’s got enough breath to demand. “You know, I think I liked you better when you were a comatose vegetable.”

“I didn’t think you liked me at all,” Castiel says. “Not that we function to be liked. Popularity is hardly part of an angel’s duties.”

“Good thing, because I hate your guts,” Dean retorts.

For just a second, something flashes across Castiel’s face, something eerily close to pain. It’s gone in the next instant as Castiel says calmly, “Then I’ll just have to live with it.”

“Don’t hold your breath,” Dean mutters.

There’s silence for a moment. Castiel shifts his weight slightly so that he’s not pressing on Dean’s injured chest, but otherwise he makes no move to get up. His face is inches from Dean’s, and the stare is even more unnerving up close. Dean forces himself to glare back, determined not to lose to the angel. Even if he already has.

“Tell me about Sam,” Castiel says finally. His voice is a bare whisper, but this close, Dean catches it clear as day. “What sort of brother was he?”

“One that you’ve got no right talking about,” Dean snaps, but there’s no real force to it. His chest and shoulder hurt, he’s pinned down to the bed by a fucking angel-of-the-Lord, he’s exhausted, and hell if he’s got energy left to fight.

“My brothers will have abandoned me already,” Castiel says quietly, not looking away. “We do not mourn in the Host. When Anael Fell, I took her place, Uriel took mine, and Arel was added to complete the quartet. Rachel probably commands in my place now.” He takes a breath, so close that it almost seems as if he and Dean are sharing the same air. “Above all, we are loyal to the Host, not to each other.”

“Not my problem,” Dean says, hating the way something twists inside him in reaction to Castiel’s words. Honestly, it does sound like a pretty shitty life—being one gear in the machine, easily replaced if you fall out. “You’re an angel, and that’s your shit, not mine.”

“We don’t have a choice in who we are,” Castiel says, and damn if that isn’t déjà vu of Dean’s argument with Missouri. “When Anael left us, I thought…I thought she betrayed us. Her name was struck from the rolls, and she was condemned to the Nest of Love. I thought she was as bad as a demon.”

Dean weighs this. There’s an unspoken question in Castiel’s voice, one that Dean grudgingly chooses to answer. “She wasn’t,” he says at last. “As bad as a demon, I mean. She was…she was great. Smart, brave, didn’t stand for the demons’ shit. They hated her, but they hate everyone, so that’s okay. You could trust her in a fight, trust her to keep your back safe and blow the hell out of the bastards in the sky.” Castiel doesn’t seem offended, but Dean winces anyway. “You know what I mean.”

“No one can kill an angel except another angel,” Castiel murmurs. “Uriel used to say that.”

Dean snorts. “Well, your buddy Uriel is a big fat liar. I’ve killed a few in my time.” He tenses, remembering who he’s talking to. “Doesn’t that bother you?” he asks when Castiel doesn’t react. “Or do you just write it off?”

“We don’t…write it off,” Castiel says, speaking the words slowly as if he’s never heard them before. “We adjust accordingly. Weaknesses should be corrected to prevent further incidents.”

“And how does that line of angelspeak work out in real life?” Dean asks.

Castiel hesitates, and Dean can see uncertainly cross his face. “We do what we must,” he says at last. It’s not an answer of any kind, but Castiel doesn’t seem willing to provide another one. It actually sounds kind of ominous when Dean thinks about it some more. Dean studies Castiel’s eyes and gets the feeling that even though Castiel’s looking straight at him, he’s not actually seeing him.

“Hey,” Dean says, more to get Castiel’s attention than anything else. Castiel’s eyes focus at the words, and Dean winces at the renewed intensity. “Anna, she, uh. She did good work, okay? She…I don’t know if you give a shit about this stuff, but she was a good person.”

“Is that valid, coming from a human?” Castiel asks dryly.

“A compliment about an angel coming from a human? Well, yeah. I could go on and on about how angels suck, but there are only a few that I think are okay.”

Castiel huffs softly. “A few?”

Dean pauses and reviews his words. Shit, messed that one up. “One. One angel that I think is okay.” He twists in Castiel’s grip. “Don’t get any ideas.”

“We’re not trained for creativity,” Castiel says. It sounds outwardly calm, but Castiel’s eyes give him away. They flicker away from Dean’s face, studying their clasped hands. Lightly, Castiel draws his thumb over Dean’s palm, and Dean fights to ignore the frisson of heat from the light touch.

“What’re you doing?” he says, trying to keep his voice calm.

“Tell me about Sam,” Castiel says softly. What is it like to have a brother?”

“Don’t you have a ton of them?” Dean says distractedly, watching Castiel’s hand. “Why do you care so much about Sam, anyway?” He sucks in a deep breath, heedless of the pain in his chest as Castiel’s fingers press gently on the needle mark in the crease of his elbow. “Damn it, Cas—”

“I spent my whole life in the Host,” Castiel says. “The Father—”

“—who may or may not exist—” Dean interjects.

“I have to believe He’s real,” Castiel says bleakly. “Because if He’s not, I’ve spent my whole life serving a lie. I have nothing else.”

Dean’s eyes snap back to Castiel’s face. Despite the clear pain in Castiel’s voice, his face is filled with a studied intensity that doesn’t match his voice as all. “Well, at least you realized it sooner rather than later?” Dean tries. “You’re an angel, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a dick your whole life.”

Castiel looks back at him, his fingers stilling. “We don’t have connections, Dean. No relationships. We have masters to serve—the Father, the Host. That’s all.”

“That’s what you had. You’ve already told the Host to go fuck itself by Falling. Stop whining and find yourself something new,” Dean says, and damn, that’s kind of ironic coming from him considering just how much whining he’s done today, but what the hell. Castiel’s hand spreads out over the bandage on his shoulder, and Dean finds himself breathing in short, rapid breaths, trying to decide whether to twist away or to stay still. “So you’re an angel, boo hoo. That doesn’t mean that you’re stuck kissing the Father’s ass for the rest of your life.”

“I would think that you almost care,” Castiel says quietly.

“I don’t,” Dean insists, “but you’re lying on top of me and it’s kind of hard to ignore you.”

“My task is to make sure that you rest.”

“I’m sure as hell not resting now,” Dean mumbles, distracted from any real ire by the fact that Castiel’s hand has moved up to cup his cheek, and Castiel’s running his thumb over Dean’s day-old stubble. “I’ll kick your ass the second I get up.”

Castiel raises an eyebrow. “That does not motivate me to let you up.”

“Fuck your logic,” Dean grumbles half-heartedly. Involuntarily, his eyes flutter shut to the soft movements of Castiel’s hand. “Stupid fucking angel—”

His curse is muffled as Castiel leans forward and very gently presses his lips to Dean’s. Dean’s brain short-circuits for a moment, and he’s unable to do more than blink helplessly and yes, kiss back. By the time he’s got his bearings Castiel has already pulled back, his eyes wary.

“What the…” Dean manages weakly. “What the hell?”

“Did I do it wrong?”

“Do it wrong?” Dean sputters. “Do it—do it—Cas, what the fuck was that? You’re not supposed to do it at all!”

“I once saw two humans fight to do this one last time,” Castiel says. “Does it have some great significance?”

“Significance,” Dean says, and now he’s laughing, aching chest be damned, because it’s either laugh or cry at this point. “You just kissed me, you stupid idiot. People don’t—they don’t kiss each other—I mean, you don’t kiss me, because that’s just—that’s just—”

“Just what?”

Dean sucks in a breath. “It’s weird,” he manages. “You’re an angel. I’m human. And I don’t even like you, and you can only kiss people that you like.” He closes his eyes as an image of Alistair rises behind his eyelids, and he forces himself to push the memories of Hell away. “I mean, you should.”

“Was it that unpleasant?”

Dean laughs again, hard enough that this time, he can’t ignore the sharp jabs of pain from his chest. “Ow,” he wheezes, clutching at his chest ineffectually. “Damn it, that hurts—”

Castiel rolls off of Dean in an abrupt movement, landing neatly on the other side of the bed. Dean pushes himself onto his elbows, wincing as his body protests. “Wait, Cas,” he says.

Castiel holds up a hand to forestall his protests. “You’re injured,” he says, pushing Dean down firmly. “You need to rest. I shouldn’t have pushed you so far.”

“Wimp,” Dean mutters, but it’s true that fatigue is starting to set in now that the adrenaline’s wearing off. “You can’t just kiss a guy and then run away.”

“I’m not running,” Castiel says, stupid logical angel that he is. “I was tasked to ensure that you rest, and I will fulfill that order.”

Dean raises an eyebrow. “I never knew you were so conscientious.”

“You don’t know a lot about angels at all,” Castiel says, which is true enough that it shuts Dean up. “And if you wish to have the energy to inquire further, you need to recover first.”

Which is angelspeak for shut up and go to sleep, obviously.

“We need to talk about this in the morning,” Dean says as Castiel settles into the hard-backed chair next to the bed. “We’re not done.”

“I know,” Castiel says simply.

Dean turns his back on Castiel, concentrating on taking slow, steady breaths. Castiel’s quiet enough behind him that for a moment or two Dean wonders if he’s somehow evaporated. The air feels thick, and damn it, it’s too quiet. You wouldn’t know that two people (well, one person and one angel) were in the room.

“That chair’s got to be fucking uncomfortable,” Dean mutters into his pillow. “Tell me—are angels masochists?”

There’s a calculating pause. “When required. Yes.”

“Stop acting like a martyr, you idiot. I’m already masochistic enough for the both of us.”

There’s an even longer pause, and then Dean jumps at the light touch on his back. He moves to make way for Castiel, determinedly not thinking about what he’s doing. He doesn’t know if he likes Castiel or loathes him, or whether he wants to kill him or kiss him. All Dean knows is that sleeping in a chair is a recipe for backache and take it from him, backaches suck.

“Snore and I’ll strangle you in your sleep,” Dean announces in concession to the last of the doubts. “Kick me, ditto.”

Castiel’s hand shifts slightly to rest around his shoulder, cupping the wound gently. “Sleep,” he says, and it sounds like an order.

Dean doesn’t take orders from angels. He does what he wants to, and that’s why he closes his eyes, letting Castiel’s soft breathing against his neck carry him away to sleep.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2011 08:13 am (UTC)

His curse is muffled as Castiel leans forward and very gently presses his lips to Dean’s. Dean’s brain short-circuits for a moment, and he’s unable to do more than blink helplessly and yes, kiss back. By the time he’s got his bearings Castiel has already pulled back, his eyes wary.

“What the…” Dean manages weakly. “What the hell?”

Well....I certainly wasn't expecting THAT. Nice to see Cas putting his new knowledge to practice.

Poor Dean! He's just such a mess but then again so is Castiel.
Jul. 10th, 2011 05:21 am (UTC)
Next chapter brings it up a little bit more. XD My idea is that being raised in the angel world here is that you get very little experience with the sexual realm, so to speak, even small platonic things like kissing. So Cas does have a bit to learn. XD
Jul. 9th, 2011 09:44 am (UTC)
I'm totally enjoying the world you building up and the love the dynamic between Dean and Castiel. Loving this so far and I can't wait to see the rest of it.
Jul. 10th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it! Nice icon, by the way, I've always wondered if they really published an SPN script or something into book form, or whether they just swapped the covers. (I'd love to get my paws on that book if it's the former.) Next chapter's up!
Jul. 9th, 2011 09:54 am (UTC)
Heee, only after re-reading the chapter I realized Dean started to call Castiel Cas :3
It's a torture, though. I know I should leave some chapters for later so that there's more, but I can't help reading everything there is as fast as possible. The world you created here is just genious. I wonder what's up with Gabriel though.

(Also, just asking, do you plan to finish the 'I, Castiel' sequel in the future? Or is it finished and I just haven't realized? I'm just curious.)
Jul. 10th, 2011 05:28 am (UTC)
*hangs head in shame* I will finish Firsts. I swear to god (Cas) that I will finish Firsts if it kills me. I'm just going to finish posting this first, and then a birthday fic fairly soon, and then I'm going to finish Firsts. *nodnodnod* YES, I CAN.

But in the meantime, next chapter's up! :D
Jul. 9th, 2011 09:55 am (UTC)
I love when people do AUs and find interesting ways to use all of the characters and you have totally done that. I am loving Missouri here. Poor Dean being buried by his emotions and need to make everything right. And poor Cas having his entire world shaken; I just wanna give them both a hug!

I'm loving their slow slide towards each other however hehe. I was looking forward to this chapter all day tbh! :)
Jul. 10th, 2011 05:30 am (UTC)
Personally, I think that the whole of season six (and that ending, yeesh) could've been avoided if Dean had just given his angel a great big hug. *sighs* I'm praying that s7 will give them a proper resolution. AND A HUG! :D

Next chapter's up, bb!
Jul. 9th, 2011 10:25 am (UTC)
Another wonderful chapter. Oh man I hate when I come to the end as I'm loving this story so much.
Jul. 10th, 2011 05:31 am (UTC)
Well, I think that this fic does call for a sequel, only considering it took me nine months to bang this one out, that might take a while. :/ Eh. I'm a terribly slow writer; I don't know how people manage to type out reams and reams of fic. I get too easily distracted by TEH SHINY of whatever TV show I'm currently watching. *sweatdrop* Next chapter's up!
Jul. 9th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
You know, this is the second (at least) fic I've read in which Castiel is the representative of some kind of faceless jack-booted regime, who encounters Dean and proceeds to become indoctrinated into the complexities of human life--not counting the series itself, I mean. I was thinking today that the story structure itself, in its various repeated forms, is really kind of archetypal. More than that, despite all the arguments by those who disagree with the slash brigade, I'm starting to think that even without the romantic aspects, or any sort of slashiness whatsoever, the whole thing with Castiel and Dean is still a love story.

So anyway, obv. really enjoying this particular story, not least because the emotions are very strongly painted, not merely touched on but rendered in full 3-D technicolor glory, which is something that doesn't happen in a lot of fic--or even regular writing. I was especially struck by the intensity of the writing in the last section with the battle. I thought that was really well done, and very powerful. Plus, as usual, the characterization is spot-on and the interactions between characters is conveyed very clearly.

Naturally I'm hoping Alastair will turn up at some point...I know you said this is finished so if he's not already there, oh well...but it's me. I can't help but hope for an appearance--and maybe a little overprotective!Cas into the bargain. Mmm.

Eagerly awaiting more, but you knew that! ;) Thanks for an awesome story!
Jul. 10th, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)
Well, the theme of indoctrination into a different world is one that's been played a lot of times (Avatar, Dances with Wolves, etc.) so it's not one that's particularly original, I suppose, even if you exchange the heterosexual boy/girl for boy/boy. The story of catching, staying, and loving is a fairly common leitmotif throughout various genres, even though in the past it was more acceptable to write boy/boy in the light of 'brotherhood' instead of something more. Slash can be defined a number of different ways; there doesn't necessarily have to be a sexual bond, but as long as boy stays with boy there's still that emotional aspect to it. And it's terribly easy to read as being something more than just platonic. Especially if you've got slash goggles on. (Which I do; they're practically glued to my face.)

Sorry to disappoint, though, but Alastair won't be turning up. (Maybe in the sequel? ;D)

Next chapter's up!
Jul. 9th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)

I love this; the mixing of SPN canon and the imagery/plot from your influences - it also has a similar feel to The Matrix, but it's better!

I'm intrigued to see where Gabriel has gone and what he is up to....I think he may be proving himself trustworthy to the humans :)

I feel for Cas as he deals with suddenly being connected to all these crazy irrational emotions...and I love that he finds some calm with Dean...AND that he could still kick his ass if he needs to.

AH! Dean you are mildly infuriating with your mood swings XD But you know why you keep defending Cas ;)

The kiss was so sweet, and perfect: Dean's reaction!

Looking forward to the next part! - Hey, look appropriate-ish time to be leaving a review!

Jul. 10th, 2011 05:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, both Dean and Cas do have emotional problems, don't they? In the spirit of true dysfunctional SPN style, they were totally made for each other. ;) Next chapter's up!
Jul. 17th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
Totally adorable.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )