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Rabbit Hole - Part 2

See warnings and notes in the Master Post.






Part 1

~*~*~

I’ve had leaps go worse than this one. Two that I can think of offhand, and if Anyone is out there listening, I would really, really like to have those memories disappear sooner rather than later. But as horrible as those leaps were, I don’t think I’d ever been as off balance as I’ve been from the moment I stepped into Dean Winchester’s life. After five weeks, I still don’t know why I’m here, and I’m starting to worry that I’ll be here for the remainder of my life, such as it is. .

Sam Winchester acts like I’ve pretty much stepped on his favorite toy but won’t apologize for it, and he looks at me like he thinks I’m the devil. When I told Singer that, shortly after Winchester and I arrived at his home, his expression turned sour, and he assured me that Winchester was very much aware that I’m not Lucifer. I’ve thought about asking Winchester if Singer is right, that he knows I’m not Satan, but I’m reluctant. The question seems oddly intimate, and I’m not entirely convinced it’s any of my business. There’s also a benefit, because if I don’t ask, I can probably avoid discussions that include references to the apocalypse as a recent event.

For his part, Bobby Singer seems quite sanguine over the fact that I’m not Dean Winchester, though he did make me drink water he claimed was holy and threatened to slice me with a sharp knife. I think he would have if Winchester hadn’t told him that Castiel is convinced I’m human. It took a few days before he finally started talking to me in addition to glaring at me. Since he’s also fond of glaring at Winchester, I’ve come to assume this is his normal state.

It was only ten o’clock in the morning, but temperatures were in the mid eighties, and Sam had heard a weather report earlier that said the day might hit triple digits. It wasn’t happy news. What money Singer had went toward maintaining the salvage yard or toward buying books or bidding for absolutely useless trinkets and hoaxes on eBay. He still couldn’t believe Singer spent almost three thousand dollars on what was purported to be the bones of a lesser saint and seemed to think it would be a bargain at twice the price.

For Sam, the real bargain would have been central air in the house. As it was, the only place inside that was relatively cool was the ironclad room in the basement, and that was where Sam had decided to hide for a while. With any luck, he’d —

“Sam? You down there?” Winchester came through the door, holding a sawed-off shotgun at his side. It was pointed downward, and Sam was grateful for small favors.

Still, he kept a wary eye on the gun and said, “What’s that for?”

“You ever use one of these before?”

Sam was about to tell In fact, the automatic denial was on the tip of his tongue, but the truth was, “I don’t know. Maybe. No way of knowing until I try to shoot it. Why?”

“Zombies, man.” Winchester seemed to be in a good mood. He looked almost cheerful enough to smile, which would be a welcome change from the glower he’d been sporting ever since Sam leapt into Dean’s life.

Granted, Sam couldn’t really blame him, especially since he had yet to figure out why he was there in the first place, but Winchester seemed to take Sam’s presence personally, as if the universe had put Sam there just to punish him, which was ridiculous. Despite his religious mania and fondness for weaponry, Winchester didn’t strike Sam as the kind of man who merited that kind of direct punishment from the universe. If anything, he seemed more like someone who had been taken advantage of more than a few times.

However, none of that had any bearing on — “Zombies?”

Winchester smiled broadly and said, “Yeah. Zombies.”

“As in —”

“Dead men walking. Zombies.” Winchester looked far too happy about it, like maybe he was pulling Sam’s leg.

Sam took a deep breath and said, “Look, I know you think —”

Singer yelled down the stairs, “Is there some reason you two princesses are sitting down there braiding each other’s hair instead of getting your asses into the truck?”

Winchester called out, “Sam’s having a little trouble with the idea of zombies.”

“They’re decaying flesh on bones, and it’s a warm day,” Singer shot back. “I’m having a little trouble with it myself. Now get up here already. I don’t want the sheriff getting pissed at me again.”

“Wait,” Sam said. “The sheriff? The sheriff knows about zombies?”

Winchester tugged on Sam’s arm and pulled him toward the stairs. “She got an education a couple of years ago, and she knows enough to know she doesn’t want them in her town. Now come on.”

Sam went up first, prodded by Winchester, and he said, “Yeah, but — okay, but — Zombies? I don’t know anything about how to kill zombies.”

That probably wasn’t the most absurd thing he’d ever said in his life, but it probably ranked right up there. And if Sam was panicking a little, he didn’t think anyone could really blame him. It was bad enough that there were apparently four men who shared the same delusion, but if the sheriff did, too, that meant there was a possibility that what Sam and Dean did was based in reality, not delusion, and Sam wasn’t entirely sure he was ready to accept that.

“Not a problem,” Winchester said, looking far too amused at Sam’s discomfort. “They’re already dead. We just need to put them back in the ground.”

“But —”

“Dude, zombies are easy. In fact, Dean’s gonna be pissed that he’s missing out on this. He loves taking down zombies.”

Sam tried again. “Seriously, I’m not going to be any use.”

Singer, who was on the porch by the time Winchester and Sam made it up the stairs, said, “Sam’s right. Zombies are easy. Got a flamethrower with your name on it. Just point and shoot at the rotting flesh, and you’ll be good to go.”

“Look, I don’t know what else I can say to convince you that this isn’t something —”

Singer glared at Sam, and it was enough to shut him up. “Son, zombies are everybody’s business, no matter what they think they can or can’t do, you got that? Day like today, all that rotting flesh leaches into the ground water, and the town’s got a health hazard to deal with. Now get in the damn truck, already.”

Chastened, Sam got into the truck and hoped against hope that “zombies” were actually a metaphor for something else. He wasn’t quite sure what it could be meant by “zombies,” but he hoped he was about to find out.

Instead, thirty minutes later, he found out that no, “zombies” wasn’t actually a metaphor for something else. It really did mean walking corpses with rotting flesh falling off in chunks and littering the ground where they milled. For a moment, an all-too brief moment, he thought he was looking at people in costumes, but then a light breeze kicked up, and Sam caught a whiff of the sickly-sweet smell of advanced decay. He wasn’t sure how he knew that smell so well, but there was no doubt that it meant death.

Along with Winchester and Singer, Sam stood next to the truck and watched as the sheriff and a couple of civilians put up temporary fencing to keep the zombies — five, all together — in one place. The fact that the fencing was chicken wire would have been surprising if the zombies had been determined to go somewhere. As it was, they seemed confused, more than anything else, and willing to stay put.

The sheriff came up to them, her mouth a grim line, and Singer said, “Jody, what the hell is going on here? How’d this happen?”

She shook her head and said, “It was Danny Hatcher. He remembered the last time and decided to try to get his mom back.”

“Aw, hell. That’s her, isn’t it? The one in the blue dress?”

“Yeah. Danny’s pretty broken up about it. He was sure she’d know who he was, but these — It isn’t like the last time. None of them can talk.”

“That’s because he isn’t Death,” Winchester said. “Damn.”

“Got that right,” she said. “Can you three take care of this? I’ll keep the curious bystanders out of your hair.”

“Yeah. Sure,” Winchester moved to the back of the truck and added, “Flame’s gonna work best. You might want to keep everyone as far upwind as you can.”

The sheriff agreed then looked at Sam and said, “What’s up with you, Dean? Cat got your tongue?”

Sam blinked. He’d been hearing his own name for the last month or so and had forgotten what it was like to answer to someone else’s name. “Um. Not much to say, really.”

“Uh, yeah,” Winchester chimed in quickly. “He’d normally be all over this, but, you know. They aren’t the usual kind of zombie. Plus, Dean feels bad for Danny.”

“Yes! I do! I feel bad for Danny,” Sam said, hoping like hell the sheriff didn’t know Dean well enough to realize that he’d totally blown it by behaving the wrong way.

The sheriff frowned then shook it off as one of the zombies let out a wail. “Take care of it quick, would you? I can’t have those things running around. It’s bad for the town.”

“Got it,” Singer said. “Give us a couple of hours, and we’ll get them planted again.”

“Oh boy,” Sam said, as Winchester handed him a flamethrower.

~*~*~

I don’t like napalm. I especially don’t like homemade napalm. And I really don’t like homemade napalm when I’m aiming it at people. Granted, they were walking corpses, and they didn’t feel any pain, judging by the lack of screams when I set them on fire, but still, the point is, I don’t like napalm. I also don’t like realizing that the Winchesters really do deal with the supernatural on a regular basis. And as long as I’m listing things I don’t like, I don’t like finding out that supernatural beings are real.

What I do like, however, is having enough time to stop and try to remember who I am without the pressure of trying to be someone I’m not. My memories are slow to return, but I get the feeling that they’re kind of building up in my head, even though I can’t access them at the moment. Every so often, I’ll have a breakthrough, where I’ll suddenly know something or remember a name, so I know the process is working. I just wish it could work faster.

“Sam!”

Sam heard Singer’s bellow and ignored it, assuming he was calling for Winchester. Besides, Sam was busy chasing the echo of a memory down, something to do with a car and a brother, and he couldn’t quite sort out if the memory was his or Dean’s. Initially, he’d thought it was Dean’s memory, because Winchester was fond of making fun of his brother’s obsession with the family Impala. But the longer Sam concentrated on that echo, the more convinced he was that it was an echo from his own life, not Dean’s. The real problem was that it was too generic — one brother teaching another how to change the oil in a car — but Sam’s view of the process seemed to put him below the unknown brother, which meant he was shorter, and —

“Damn it, boy, where the hell are you?”

He rubbed his temples as he leaned against one of the rusted heaps in the junkyard then turned his face to the morning sun, letting its warmth relax him as much as possible so he could get another hint of that memory. Sam wasn’t sure why it was so important, but a gut-level feeling told him it was, so he worked on teasing it out so he could discern more details. The car was — it was —

“Is there some reason you can’t answer when I’m talking to you?” Singer was right there and startled Sam out of his memory.

He shook his head at the poor timing and said, “I thought you were calling for Winchester, not me.”

“Too damn many Sams around, that’s for sure.” Singer wiped his forehead with a bandana and added, “Not that I don’t appreciate your help around here — and for the record, you’re a damn sight more pleasant about it than Dean’s ever been — but I’ll be glad when we get him back.”

There wasn’t a response that that Singer hadn’t heard in one form or another, so Sam asked, “What did you want, Mr. Singer?”

“For you to call me Bobby, but I figure that ain’t happening anytime soon.”

Sam opened his mouth, but Singer talked over him. “It don’t matter. Castiel’s up to the house, and he’s injured pretty bad. Needs to talk to you about something.”

“He’s injured?” And for a moment, Sam stood still, because there, in full and glorious Technicolor memory, was every last class he’d taken for medical school as well as all the rotations he’d completed to earn his M.D. He couldn’t remember where he’d gone to school or any of his professors and classmates, but he knew he could suture a wound if he had to, and he had a perfect memory of the structure of a stomach cancer cell. It wasn’t the first memory breakthrough he’d had — someone named Ziggy had that honor, though Sam still couldn’t figure out who Ziggy was — but it was certainly the most comprehensive, and it nearly brought Sam to his knees.

After a moment, the memories settled down, and Sam said, “I’m a doctor.”

“So?”

“I’m a doctor,” Sam said on a laugh. “I can help Castiel!”

“Idiot,” Singer said, grabbing hold of Sam’s arm before he took off to go to the house. “Cas is an angel. He can fix himself up just fine as long as he has enough free time and that dickless wonder Raphael isn’t chasing him.”

“But —“

“He’s down in the safe room, working on his arm.”

“His arm?”

“That bastard Raphael tore it clean off, and Cas is trying to grow a new one.”

“He’s — What?”

“Never mind. Just get down there. He wants to talk to you.”

Singer shoved Sam toward the house, and Sam went, trying very hard to believe that the comment about Castiel’s arm was so much hyperbole. Granted, since Sam’s arrival, Castiel had shown that he was capable of remarkable things (Miracles, Sam. Plain and simple miracles, suggested a vaguely familiar voice), and Winchester and Singer both spoke of other things Castiel had done, but Sam still wasn’t willing to believe that Castiel was an angel, and Sam wasn’t sure he ever would be.

Regardless, Castiel was evidently injured, and supposed angelic ability to heal or not, this was a concrete problem Sam could handle, so he jogged back to the house and headed to the basement.

Sam heard the tail end of Winchester’s comment, “—pens if your vessel is destroyed?”

“I would have to find a new one, the way Raphael did, and it will take time I don’t have. Besides —” there was a long pause, and Sam waited near the bottom of the stairs until he heard Castiel finish with, “Dean is comfortable with me when I’m in this vessel. I would prefer not to change my appearance if I don’t have to.”

That made even less sense than zombies and a recent apocalypse, but Sam wasn’t about to try and sort it out. Instead, he continued down the stairs and called, “Castiel?”

“In here, Sam,” said Winchester.

“I heard there was —”

Sam stopped short in the doorway. Winchester looked as if he was ready to vomit, and really, Sam couldn’t blame him. Castiel was, as Singer had said, trying to grow a new arm — the right arm, to be specific — though as he watched, Sam realized that “trying” probably wasn’t the best word to describe what he was seeing, since the new arm looked as if it was about halfway done.

“You —”

Castiel looked up. “I apologize. Raphael’s blade did more damage to my Grace than I realized, so I’m unable to heal my vessel as quickly as I would otherwise. However, I was able to determine that he had nothing to do with your arrival here, so I’ll count that as a blessing.”

Sam said nothing; he just waved goodbye to the last bit of denial he had about what Castiel was while watching an arm reformed itself in slow motion. From a clinical standpoint, it was a fascinating process. From a human standpoint, Sam was feeling just as queasy as Winchester seemed to be.

After watching for another minute or so, Sam finally said, “Mr. Singer told me you wanted to see me.”

“I’m certain, now, of how to find Dean.”

At that, Winchester looked up. “Really? Where is he?”

“I said I know how to find him, not that I had,” Castiel said with asperity.

“That’s good news,” Sam said, moving closer to Castiel. The fingers were unfurling as the stump grew longer, and no matter what Sam thought of the idea of someone growing a new arm within an hour, it wasn’t a sight he could turn away from.

“Perhaps. But I will require your permission to proceed.”

“You’ve got it,” said Winchester.

Sam looked at him, annoyed, and said, “I think he wants my permission.”

“And he has it, right?”

Before Sam could answer, Castiel said, “I’ll need direct access to your soul again.”

At that, Sam started backing away toward the door. “No. You said the last time I wasn’t in good enough shape.”

“That was then. You’ve had time to solidify your identity and fortify your ego. It will be painful, but there’s no reason to believe you’ll disintegrate under the pressure. Not now.”

Sam turned to leave the room, but Winchester was right there, blocking the doorway. To be fair, Sam could understand his anxiety. If it were Tom, he was pretty sure —

For a moment, Sam experienced a doubling of memory. He was standing at a graveside with Tom’s flag-draped casket ready for burial, an honor guard off to the side and ready to fire a twenty-one-gun salute, but overlaying that was a headline that Tom Beckett had returned home safe from war and would be spending time with his family before returning to San Diego for redeployment.

Beckett. He was Sam Beckett, and Tom was his brother. Tom was dead, but he wasn’t. Clearly, he wasn’t, and Sam couldn’t quite make the connection to understand how that could be, because he was too stuck on knowing he had a brother and that he had a last name.

“Tom.”

Winchester looked confused. “Tom?”

“His brother,” Castiel said. “Yet another sign that both memory and cohesion are returning. You’ll be able to tolerate this.”

Sam pulled away from memory and turned back to Castiel. The thought of the pain wasn’t sharp enough to cause panic, but he did remember feeling as if he was about to fly apart, and that wasn’t something he wanted to experience again. Ever.

He backed up against Winchester and started shaking his head. “No. Please, Castiel, no.”

It was too late, though. Castiel, his arm fully formed again, was already reaching for Sam’s forehead, and he had a moment to be grateful for that kindness before he blacked out.

~*~*~

I don’t remember Castiel poking around in me the second time, though Mr. Singer tells me he could hear the screams out in the yard and complains that I managed to scare his dogs. That’s not really a surprise. As much as he likes to talk about them being mean junkyard animals with attitude fit to put an angel to shame, the fact of the matter is that his dogs get spooked when the wind whips up dust devils.

The sun was low to the ground, and the moon was already rising by the time Sam made his slow way out of the house and to the car he’d been perched on earlier. The dogs followed, even though they seemed to be uneasy about the night, and Sam was glad of their company. It was certainly easier to deal with than —

“Sam expects me to go back to 2002 to retrieve Dean,” Castiel said.

He was exhausted enough that he didn’t jump, but Sam did give Castiel a dirty look. “Is there any chance at all of tying a bell around you so there’s some warning when you show up?”

“That’s something Dean would say.”

Before Castiel could start lecturing Sam on host bleed-through, he held up a hand and said, “It’s something anyone would say. You need to give some warning the next time.”

Apparently that was enough to satisfy him, because Castiel returned to his original comment. “I’ve already told him that it isn’t possible, that Dean must return by the same route he left.”

“Good.” At least with Castiel on his side, Sam wouldn’t have to have the same argument with Winchester. He hoped, anyway. The way Winchester hammered at a point, Sam thought he’d missed his true calling as a lawyer.

“He wants to know what it will take to get you to move on.” Sam was under the distinct impression that Castiel wanted to know the answer to that more than Winchester did, and possibly even more than Sam himself did, but it probably wasn’t the time to point that out.

“I have no idea,” Sam said, discouraged at the thought of it. He didn’t think he’d ever been in one place for this long, and — “Do you know if Dean is okay?”

“He is,” Castiel said without hesitation. “He is being cared for, though he is extremely frustrated at being there instead of here.”

“Did you —” and Sam couldn’t believe he was about to ask this, but he continued, “— did you go back in time to talk to him?”

“There was no need. I was able to sense him through his connection to your soul.” Sam didn’t know Castiel all that well, but he thought he detected some irritation in Castiel’s voice when he mentioned Dean’s connection to Sam’s soul. Sam was curious about it but not enough to ask about it.

Instead, he asked, “How were you able to sense him? Is it something all angels can do?”

After a pause, Castiel said, “Dean and I share a bond that is — powerful. It transcends time and space.”

At that, Sam blinked, though maybe he shouldn’t have. Castiel was an angel, so it would take something fairly significant for him to be willing to spend so much time working with the Winchesters to the exclusion of almost everything else. A powerful bond, one allowed Castiel to follow a thread left by Dean Winchester, was probably far more significant than Castiel would, or perhaps even could acknowledge. Given what little Sam recalled of biblical lore, including the apocrypha, Castiel’s behavior started to make a great deal more sense.

“Oh. You’re in love with him,” Sam said, though the moment he spoke, he thought he should have kept his mouth shut. Of all the possible responses to that statement, Sam truly didn’t expect to see a deer-in-the-headlights expression on Castiel’s face.

Nor did he expect a stammering, “No. You don’t — I pulled Dean out of Hell. That’s why — not — no.”

Sam looked at Castiel for a long moment before deciding that neither of them was especially ready for a conversation about the nature of Castiel’s concern for Dean. It spoke volumes about the last few weeks of his life to realize that the far safer response was, “Oh. You pulled Dean out of Hell?”

Castiel seemed grateful for the change of subject, and considering how much of a poker face he usually had, Sam figured he must have hit a target Castiel didn’t even know existed, and that — yeah. There it was. There was the feeling he usually got when he was onto the reason for any given leap. Clearly, Castiel felt something for Dean (Hah! Greatest treasure in Creation, Sammy, remember that?), and it was up to Sam to get him to acknowledge it and to be willing to act on it. He would have told Castiel this, but Castiel had sudden and pressing business elsewhere.

Fine.

It didn’t matter. At least Sam knew he was finally on the right track to leap out of Dean Winchester’s life, and that was more important to him than anything else at the moment. He’d figure out what to do next after getting a good night’s sleep.

~*~*~

Finding out that Castiel was in love with Dean was one thing. Accepting it was something else entirely. Since I first leapt into Dean’s life, I’d come to a gradual and inescapable conclusion that the guy was kind of a jerk. Based on Winchester’s comments and Singer’s, too, it seemed clear that Dean was insensitive and selfish, and he wasn’t all that concerned about things like credit card fraud and creating false identities to maintain his lifestyle. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d like him if I ever had the chance to meet him, but all that changed after I realized Castiel loved Dean.

Obviously, I don’t know with any certainty, but I suspect that for an angel to fall in love with a human being, the human in question would have to be more than the petty thief everyone saw. He would, in fact, have to be “the greatest treasure in Creation,” whatever that might mean. If I knew how, I’d apologize to Dean for judging him; as it is, the best I can do is sort things out for him and Castiel.

Before I can do that, though, I need to find out what Winchester knows about Dean’s relationship with Castiel, which could be a problem. I’ve leapt into a lot of emotionally fraught situations, but some of the worst involve homosexuality. I’m not sure what it is about same-sex couples that sets off such deep-rooted fear and anger, but I know enough to know that I need to approach Winchester with caution. After all, our first meeting involved “Dean” bragging about women and Winchester accepting the comment as read.

Maybe if I frame it as a way to bring Dean back, I can —or maybe I should — but ¬— It’s no use. I still have no idea how Winchester will react. I can only hope for the best.

The next morning, Sam found Winchester in the back forty, ostensibly rebuilding a carburetor, but really, looking more like he was just tossing parts around out of frustration. He cleared his throat, and Winchester looked up.

“Yeah?”

“I, um, I think I know what it will take to get Dean back here,” Sam said.

Winchester went still at that and then, “You couldn’t have said something before now?”

“I didn’t have any ideas until last night.”

“What happened last night?” Winchester flushed when Sam glared at him, and he at least had the grace to look guilty as he remembered what happened. “Oh, right. Uh, sorry, by the way, for, um, you know. Making sure Cas did that soul touch thing on you. I know it hurts like a bitch, but at least he knocked you out, so that was okay, right?”

As much as he might have wanted to make Winchester squirm a little more for that, Sam waved him off. They had more important things to discuss, which is what he told him.

“So, Dean? How do we get him back?”

“Before I answer that, I need to know something,” Sam said, positioning himself carefully, to ensure the shell of an old Ford Escort was between him and Winchester.

“Sure. Anything. Ask away.”

“Is Dean in love with Castiel?”

For a long moment, all Sam could hear was a starling and the low buzz of cicadas coming from the brush that lined the property. The warmth of the morning sun and the smell of dust and machine oil hanging in the air set off an unexpected longing for home.

Sam could have easily slipped into a nice long brood, but Winchester burst out laughing.

“Dean? Are you serious? The man never met a woman he didn’t think about taking to bed. And he does that with every woman above the age of consent. Hell, if Ellen hadn’t scared the crap out of him, he probably would have —” Winchester shook his head. “Never mind. The point is, Dean likes women. A lot.”

“Yeah, okay. But is he in love with Castiel?”

“Seriously, he can’t get enough of women. They’re all he talks about when we’re not on a case. He goes on and on about —” He stopped speaking and looked thoughtful. After a moment, he said, “Huh. The bragging only got worse after Cas showed up.”

Sam waited, because clearly, a light bulb had gone on over Winchester’s head, and it was only a matter of time before he came to the conclusion Sam thought he might.

Winchester shook his head and huffed out a breath as he looked off into the distance. “I can’t believe I missed that.”

“It happens.”

“Okay, so to answer your question, yeah, probably he is.”

“Good.”

“Good? If you leaving depends on Dean admitting that, you’ll have a long wait, and you might as well plan on taking care of Bobby’s bookkeeping for the rest of your life.”

“My leaving doesn’t depend on Dean admitting it. It depends on Castiel admitting that he loves Dean.”

“Again, I’d like to point out that you might as well plan on taking care of Bobby’s bookkeeping for the rest of your life.”

“Not going to happen,” Sam said, and it wasn’t. He’d been roped into that duty shortly after they’d arrived, when he’d admitted he was good with numbers. Numbers were all very fine and well, but Bobby’s method of filing receipts and the fact that he maintained tax records for no less than nineteen false identities meant that Sam could only deal with the paperwork for so long before he had to escape the house for fresh air.

“You’ve met Cas, right?”

“I have,” Sam said. And then he told Sam about their conversation the night before.

“Great. So there’s interest, but Cas is hiding from it.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Raphael, maybe,” Winchester said. “If he had confirmation that Castiel loves Dean, it would be the same thing as painting a big target on Dean’s back. Every angel that supports Raphael would be gunning for Dean.”

“Castiel said something about sigils on your ribs. Didn’t he take care of Dean, too?”

“Yeah, he did, but a couple of years ago, when Zachariah was trying to find Dean, he convinced a bunch of religious people to keep watch for him. Raphael would probably set up the same kind of deal.”

“Wait — Zachariah? Who’s Zachariah?”

“One of Raphael’s buddies. Dean killed him, and with good reason.”

“Damn it.” Sam sighed. He was hoping to avoid having to hear about this, but clearly, he needed context if he was to have any hope of moving on. “Tell me about Raphael and the rest of it.”

“Thought you didn’t want to know, man,” Winchester said, with a smirk on his face and a challenge in his voice.

“I don’t. Seriously, I don’t, because the idea of angels is — okay, maybe it’s not so weird, considering the way I’ve been living — but the idea that this is so commonplace for you that you barely notice kind of bothers me.”

“Bothers you?”

“Fine. It scares the daylights out of me.”

Winchester nodded, and then he wiped his hands off on a rag and stepped around the shell of the Escort and put his arm around Sam’s shoulders. “How fast can you read?”

“Pretty fast. Why?”

“Because Bobby has the complete set of Supernatural, including Chuck’s unpublished manuscripts, and it will be easier to tell you the rest of it, if you have that background first.”

~*~*~

When Winchester told me about the books, I thought he meant — actually, I’m not sure what I thought, but I know I didn’t think the books would literally be about the life and times and multiple deaths of Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester. Singer called the books the Winchester Gospel, which explained some of Sam’s earliest comments that suggested Dean was at least as important as Christ, and he added that Castiel had assured them all that even with the averted apocalypse, the books would one day take their place next to the books of the Bible.

As uncomfortable as I was with the idea of angels and demons, I’d already made the decision to accept them as real, so I sat down with the books and started to read with an open mind. The more I read, the better I began to understand Sam Winchester and his animosity toward me for sending his brother elsewhere. Considering all the pair had been through, it was no wonder they clung to each other, even to the point of a willingness to go to Hell to save each other. A psychiatrist would have a field day with the issues the two of them had, but I was inclined to be more forgiving. I still didn’t know how Tom got home alive from Vietnam when he should have been dead, but I suspected I had gone to similar lengths to save him.

In any event, I was grateful to Winchester for giving me the books, because I could see why Castiel was attracted to Dean. The series also explained why Castiel had had to pull Dean out of Hell, and why Castiel had described his connection to Dean as a powerful bond. If I had time, I planned ask Castiel about that trip to Hell and back, but before that could happen, I needed to get Castiel here so I could talk to him about Dean.

Winchester was under the Impala, changing the oil, when Sam found him the next afternoon.

“So, I read the books.”

Winchester pulled himself out from under the car to stare at Sam. “You started what — twenty-four hours ago?”

“Thirty-two, actually,” Sam said. “I told you, I’m a fast reader.”

“Yeah, but —” Winchester reconsidered then said, “You ready for the rest of it?”

“I’ll admit to being curious about how you got out of Hell.”

“I had a different kind of help,” Winchester said. He spent the next few hours bringing Sam up to date on what had happened over the last year and a half, and he talked about what Castiel was dealing with when he wasn’t shoving his fist into Sam’s chest. Singer came out midway through Winchester’s narrative, and he had a plate of sandwiches in one hand and a couple of six-packs of Pabst in the other hand.

When Winchester finished talking and started devouring his first sandwich, Singer said, “Sam here told me what you said about Cas and Dean. Makes sense, now I’ve had time to think about it.”

Winchester very carefully didn’t look up, so Sam said, “Will you be okay with that? With the two of them being in a relationship?”

“They’re already in a relationship.”

“You know what I mean,” Sam said quietly.

“Yeah, all right. I know what you mean. But before you get any fool notions about me being uncomfortable with Dean being gay, that ain’t it.”

“Then what is it?” Winchester asked quietly.

“You’re joking, right?”

“Not really,” Winchester said, looking at Singer for the first time.

“It’s — Cas is an angel, you idiot. How the hell is that supposed to work?”

Winchester shrugged. “I don’t know, but it must. Gabriel didn’t seem to have any problem with sex, and Cas told us his friend Balthazar is into orgies.”

“Yeah, but — damn it. He’s a different species.”

Sam and Winchester both looked at Singer, and Sam finally said, “That’s your objection? That they aren’t the same species?”

“That and the fact that Cas could snap Dean in half if he wanted.”

“Cas wouldn’t do that,” Winchester said firmly.

“You forgetting the way he whaled on Dean back when he was ready to say yes to Michael?”

“He didn’t do anything I wasn’t ready to do to Dean myself.” Winchester finished his sandwich and washed it down with the rest of his beer before standing up. “It’s a done deal, Bobby. You going to be okay with it?”

Singer didn’t say anything for a long moment, but then he nodded reluctantly and stood up as well. “As long as I don’t have to walk Dean down the aisle, I can live with it. I seem to recall a summoning spell that might drag Cas’s ass back here, whether he likes it or not.” He looked at Sam and said, “Seems to me a man who can read as fast as you might be a help in finding it.”

Sam said, “Point me at your books.”

~*~*~

Bobby Singer has an impossibly large collection of supernatural lore tucked away in his house, and I have a feeling there are any number of people, including the Vatican, who would love to get their hands on it, if only they knew it was here. They were unlikely to find out, though, because Singer hides his collection in plain sight. For example, a volume of lore about werewolves is tucked between second edition copies of Jane Eyre and Little Women. Winchester doesn’t even twitch at the incongruity, so I assume he’s known Singer long enough that such quirks of reading habits are old news to him.

With the three of us searching that night and the next morning, it didn’t take long to find what Singer remembered.

Singer finished the incantation, and immediately, there was a flash of brilliant light. Sam caught sight of a pair of wings that stretched up to and through the ceiling before the light died down, and when it did, he saw Castiel standing inside the complicated pattern they’d drawn on the floor using a mixture of blood from the three of them along with a witch’s brew of other ingredients. As disgusting as it was, it was certainly effective, because Castiel wasn’t moving from where he’d appeared.

Castiel wasn’t very happy, either. In fact, Sam was willing to go with wrathful as a good way to describe the look on his face.

“You dare? You dare use that obscene filth of a forbidden summoning spell on me? I have given up everything to protect this world, to protect Sam and Dean Winchester, to protect humanity. God Himself has resurrected me not once, but twice. I have killed countless angels and risked being called anathema and being sent to Hell as punishment for my rebellion. I have faced down the wrath of Raphael and Lucifer, and I have willingly suffered indignity upon —”

“Yeah, whatever, angel-boy,” Singer said, sounding bored. “One thing you ain’t done is admit how you feel about Dean.”

The change in Castiel’s posture was immediate and remarkable. He seemed to shrink in on himself a little, and then he said, “I have to get back. Raphael is —”

“Not going to find you here,” Winchester said. “The house is unremarkable, thanks to the sigils you taught us, so we have time to talk.”

“There’s nothing to discuss, unless you’ve suddenly discovered how to defeat Raphael for once and for all.” After a beat, Castiel said, “No? Then release me.”

“Don’t think so.” Winchester sat in one of the armchairs and stretched his legs out to get comfortable for the long haul. The provocation was deliberate and obvious, and Sam was impressed by the fact that Castiel didn’t fall for it.

“Sam —”

“Just want to know what your intentions are toward my brother,” Winchester said.

Castiel looked at him for a moment before saying, “I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you? Maybe you don’t.” Winchester’s tone softened, and he sat forward in the chair. “Do you love Dean?”

“I — Dean and I share a —”

“— profound bond,” Winchester said in unison. “Yeah, I heard. That doesn’t answer the question. Do you love Dean?”

“I — Dean is — I —” Castiel looked helpless, and Sam felt for him.

“You care for him, right, Castiel?” At Castiel’s reluctant nod, Sam continued, “So it’s not much of a stretch to say you love him, is it?”

“I — there are rules.”

Singer snorted, his amusement bright in his eyes. “Right. Like you’ve paid all that much attention to rules over the last few years.”

Castiel turned to him. “I don’t see the relevance of this discussion. Raphael may yet find the weapons Balthazar stole, and I —”

“— don’t really have to go anywhere,” said an Englishman who appeared behind Bobby. Sam was fairly certain he would never get used to that, and the way Winchester and Singer reacted, he was pretty sure they weren’t all that happy about it either.

Winchester pushed out of his chair and started toward the man — Angel, Sam reminded himself — stopping when he realized he couldn’t actually threaten him. “Who are you?”

“How tiresome. You don’t remember me. Pity. I certainly remember you.” His tone was suggestive enough to raise even Sam’s hackles, and the tension might have ratcheted up further if not for Castiel.

“Balthazar.”

“Cassie,” he said with a broad smile. “I wondered where you’d gotten to, and here you are.”

Winchester asked, “How did you find him?”

“Castiel and I have known each other for a very long time,” Balthazar said. “I’ve taken to keeping track of him, and when he disappeared so abruptly, I wondered who might be audacious enough to take him. Naturally I thought of you and your brother first, though I don’t see our very pretty Righteous Man. Where is the dear boy?”

“How’d you find this place,” Singer asked. The club he held close to his leg turned into a rotting mackerel, and Singer dropped it on the floor in disgust.

“Why, Sam invited me not so long ago, and I thought this was the most likely place to start looking for my dear, dear Cassie.”

“What? I didn’t —” A dull red flush rose on Winchester’s face, and he looked away.

“Release me from this trap, Balthazar.”

“I don’t think so, my dear. The conversation I overheard was rather fascinating, and I’m looking forward to hearing the end of it.” Balthazar made a grand gesture of sitting down and crossing one leg over the other, and Sam developed a first-hand understanding of why the Winchesters and Singer classified angels as dicks.

Castiel tried again with, “Please, Balthazar. Raphael —”

“— won’t get his hands on the weapons. Trust me when I say they’re very well hidden.” Sam thought that kind of pride tended to go before a fall, but he didn’t see any reason to point it out. Not when Castiel had yet to acknowledge the real reason he’d been summoned.

“But —”

“No buts. I think it’s time you answered the question. Inquiring minds want to know, and all that.”

“I can’t — it isn’t right.”

Balthazar cocked his head, and Sam got the feeling an entire conversation was going on between him and Castiel. As he thought about it, he realized a conversation probably was taking place, because Castiel finally looked away and said, “Fine. I love Dean. My feelings, however, are irrelevant when compared to the fact that Raphael is still searching for Heaven’s weapons.”

A familiar tingling started at the tips of Sam’s toes and fingers, and he said, “You’re wrong, Castiel. Your love for Dean isn’t the slightest bit irrelevant. In fact, I’d say it’s the most relevant thing in recent history.”

Castiel gave Sam a startled look. “Why would you say that?”

“You said it yourself,” Winchester said. “You rebelled. You said it was for me and Dean, but I think we all know it was mostly for Dean. Even when you lost faith in God, you still had faith in Dean. Mostly.”

“Sam —”

Sam wasn’t sure if Castiel was pleading to him or to Winchester, but it really didn’t matter. The energy was gathering strength, and he didn’t have much time left.

Castiel looked at Sam just then and frowned. “You’re leaving.”

“Yeah. And when Dean gets back, talk to him. If you don’t, his brother will. But I’m sure he’d rather hear it from you.”

“Sam —” he paused, then said, “Go in peace, Sam Beckett. Know that the blessing of Heaven is on you.”


~*~*~

Part 1 | Part 2 | Epilogue | Master Post

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