Fighting Chance – 1/2 – vamprav

Title: Fighting Chance
Author: vamprav
Fandom: Supernatural
Genre: Romance, Time Travel, Paranormal/Supernatural
Relationship(s): Sam Winchester/Jessica Moore, Sam Winchester/Gabriel, Dean Winchester/Castiel
Content Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Death-Major Character, Death-Minor Character, Explicit Sex, Violence-Canon Levels
Author Notes: Also a mild gore warning for Lucifer’s former vessel.
Beta: N/A
Word Count: 57,916
Summary: Dean dies in the days leading up to the finally showdown. Lucifer has almost worn completely through Nick’s body. Michael walks the Earth in the forgotten brother. Castiel blew his brains out all over Bobby’s living room. Flying by the seat of their pants has never been humanity’s strength but when the opportunity comes for Sam to fix it all he takes it, even if it makes him a little less than human.
Artist: darian


 

 


 

Chapter One – Funneral

It was an accident. A stupid fucking accident that came out of nowhere and blindsided everyone.

It was a drunk driver, some stupid college kid that had gotten a hold of a fake I.D. and went out with his friends in an attempt to get laid. He’d obviously failed in his quest and turned to alcohol to drown his woes. Then, he’d driven home with one of his friends passed out in the backseat and ran a four way stop at top speed.

He’d hit the Impala side on, flinging the sleek black car into a tree. Dean had gone through the windscreen and hit the tree head first, cracking his skull open like a raw egg. The two drunk idiots in the truck had rolled, the driver broke his neck on the steering wheel, the friend in the back had been crushed under the roof when they stopped rolling.

Sam had been in the truck behind the Impala and had stomped on the breaks so hard he might have broken something in his foot. He’d sat there in shock for a hand full of stunned seconds before he had tumbled out of the car and bolted over to the bloody mess that had been his brother. He’d struggled to get Dean’s body into the back of the borrowed truck and collected all of their hunting equipment from the Impala’s trunk. Dean would have killed him for leaving her behind but Sam had other things to worry about.

They were only half an hour away from Bobby’s and Sam felt every second of that time in the clench of his lungs and the heavy beat of his heart. He hadn’t called Castiel, not right then, not when there was still hope.

Ruby had once said that there was a time limit on how long a soul could stay away from its body before it didn’t recognize the vessel anymore. Sam had confirmed that with Cas, he’d been drunk when he’d asked and the falling angel had been struggling to manage tipsy. Crossroads demons had three days to snatch a soul from the holy gates before they were unable to retrieve it and Dean was earmarked for Heaven.

But the Crossroads had gone silent months ago. Hell was apparently on lockdown for the big event and was not accepting any new IOUs. So the only option was angels and Sam didn’t know if they were going to be any help.

He got to Bobby’s and carried Dean up the steps to a stunned Castiel and grim faced Bobby. Cas had cried, for the first time ever, and they weren’t pretty tears. He’d knelt next to Dean’s body for hours as great racking sobs shook his body. He’d passed out afterwards and that was when it really sunk in that Cas was mostly human now, with only the tiniest squib of grace left.

They waited a day, waited for Dean to wake up, waited for the angels to resurrect him. They didn’t and he stayed dead, stayed cold on the couch. They admitted defeat when rigor mortis visibly set in, if the angels were going to intervene the body would have remained perfectly preserved.

And why would the angels resurrect him, to be Michael’s vessel? Michael already walked the earth in the angel equivalent of a second best suit. They didn’t need Dean anymore so why would they bother with his life anymore than they would any other sack of rotting flesh.

Very few people came to the funeral.

Granted, Sam hadn’t really expected anyone to show up so the presence of what few people did was a shock in and of itself. Rufus and Sheriff Mills – who Bobby had to have read in on the whole situation by now – and a few hunters who had managed to get the full story rather than blindly following rumors.

Sam and Cas had spent the wee hours before dawn building the pyre, log by log, stick by stick. They’d drenched it in Holy oil after they were done and went inside to get Dean’s body.

The body was wrapped in cloth so white it nearly glowed where it wasn’t covered in the black scrawls of warding and the bloody enochian sigils that would in turn make it so that the corpse wasn’t able to be used by anything for anything. They’d carried it out, no mean feat but manageable with Sam’s strength and Cas’s fading grace.

They used a match to light the pyre ablaze instead of a lighter. And then they stood there while Dean’s body burned to ash. Cas sank to his knees after a the burial shroud caught and pulled back from Dean’s face.

One of Sam’s hands balled into a fist and the other came down to press against Cas’s shoulder. The body looked so peaceful, like it were asleep.

Sam could almost imagine his brother’s eyes opening as he sat up and yelled at them for being idiots for believing his ruse.  The massive hole in his skull where he’d hit the tree ruined the illusion.

Slowly, one at a time, the other’s left. Jody had to go to work, the hunters had jobs to get back to, and the phone in the kitchen had started ringing insistently. Sam and Cas stayed where they were until the pyre burned to ash and all that was left of Dean were a few scorched bones.

“He’s really gone,” Cas rasped past a bone dry throat, not taking his eyes off of what was left of the elder Winchester, “And I can’t – I would if – but-”

“Yeah,” Sam interrupted, blinking back tears, “I know, Cas, it’s fine.”

“No, it is not, it is not fine,” Cas said.

“There’s nothing you could have done, Cas, even if you were there. I just-” Sam stopped and swiping angrily at the tears that were running down his cheeks.

“What?” Cas asked and looked up at Sam with those big, tear filled eyes. They were no less intense than they had been when Cas still had all of his grace and they seemed to pierce through Sam’s chest, straight into his soul.

“I wish I’d been with him.”

Silence followed that statement. Cas’s eyes had gone vaguely wide and terrified at that statement. Sam stared down at him as the words hung in the air around them.

The sun was rising in the east, the dawn was painted blood red across the sky and clouds were gathering in the west. They boiled over the horizon and stalked across the sky towards the sun like a great cat stalking its prey. Lightning flashed in those clouds, too far off to hear but lighting up the silhouette of a pair of massive wings.

Sam gazed at them with narrowed eyes, “That’s Michael.”

“Yes,” Cas said, “I think we should go inside, this will get worse before it gets better.”

“I thought we had more time,” Sam said, “I thought that he’d wait until Lucifer had me.”

“Michael has the upper hand, he’s a tactician Sam. He’s not going to sacrifice his advantage when Lucifer is in such a decrepit vessel.”

“Oh, little brother, you wound me,” a breathy voice said from their left.

Cas was instantly on his feet, blade drawn as Sam went for blade he’d tucked into the back of his jeans.

Lucifer smiled at them from behind faintly glowing teeth, blood welling up between the cracks, a wound on his side leaked a mixture of blackened, burnt blood and blue tinged grace. He was leaning against one of the old junkers that framed the area where the pyre had been, like his legs weren’t quite strong enough to hold him. The burns on his face were worst, the blistering skin had peeled back to reveal muscle and bone was poking through in some places.

“Last chance, Sammy,” Lucifer said, “Last chance. This shell is almost burnt through, will you be my vessel?”

“Cas, go inside,” Sam said.

“Sam-”

“Go inside, Cas, warn Bobby. You two need to get out of here,” Sam told him.

Cas opened his mouth to say something else but the look on Sam’s face made him stop. He took in the grim set of Sam’s jaw and hard eyes and seemed to think better of it, to realize that Sam was not going to turn back from the path he saw layed out in front of him.

The former angel sighed and seemed to diminish. He didn’t slump, he had too much muscle control for that. It was something internal, something just behind the eyes that was there then gone so quickly that Sam doubted it ever existed in the first place.

Cas nodded and turned towards the house, never taking his eyes off of Lucifer as he went.

Lucifer watched him go with an expression of sorrow that sat oddly on his face, like the half remembered sketch of a mask. It wasn’t fake per say but it gave the impression that the Fallen didn’t really know how to feel sorrow. But Sam got that impression with every emotion Lucifer displayed, like he had spent so long with just his own mind and demons for company that he had forgotten what emotions looked like on normal people.

When Cas passed out of sight Lucifer’s eyes wandered back to Sam’s face. Desperation sat in those eyes, so close to the surface that it was unnerving. And then Lucifer crumpled until he sat on his ass in the grease soaked dirt of the salvage yard.

It struck Sam how tired he looked, like if he went on standing for just one more moment he would pass out and not wake up for the rest of the millenia. His shoulders drooped and his head lolled to the side to thunk against the car’s wheel well.

“I wish I could help. He’s my brother, even if he hates me,” Lucifer whispered, just loud enough for Sam to hear, “When we Fell, I was able to hold my bond to Heaven wide enough to-”

Lucifer coughed, a great racking thing that sounded like his body was trying to bring up a lung. Sam watched in alarm as Lucifer bent at the waist and struggled for breath he didn’t need. It lasted for a few minutes before it stopped and the Fallen spat blood soaked grace onto the ground.

“My garrison is dead,” Lucifer said, still bent in two, “Azazel was the last, Heaven killed the rest a long, long time ago. My brother is dead, Gabriel, Gabriel… Michael, I don’t recognize him. He’s … cold, like frozen hellfire. Raphael has twisted himself into a mockery of what he was. It would have been nice to have one last brother to stand by my side at the end.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Sam asked and almost winced at his own tone but at this point cutting to the chase was probably more important than tact.

Lucifer laughed, a violent rasping thing that shook Sam to his core, “Nick’s about to pop like an overfilled balloon. I’m spending most of my grace holding him together.”

“He’s still in there?” Sam asked in horror, imagining what it might be like to feel your body slowly burning up from the inside out. If he said yes, would the same thing happen to him.

“No,” Lucifer chuckled and drew in a wet, shaking breath, “no, I sent him off to Heaven when I took his body. His wife probably welcomed him with open arms, his son, his son was reborn two days ago. Last chance Sam. I’m going to burst in a few hours and then it’ll be two archangels fighting in True Forms rather than vessels. The world will burn.”

Sam stiffened and thought of the two rings in the lock box under Bobby’s couch. There was no time to run back to the house to grab them and they wouldn’t even work without Death or Pestilence’s rings. He was standing in the middle of the junk yard with an angel that was so close to burning through its vessel that he was coughing up blood with no way out.

His hand still rested on the hilt of the blade resting against his spine. Sam slowly let his hand fall off of the hilt to hang by his side. He took a careful step forward, towards where Lucifer was slumped over.

As Sam got closer Lucifer carefully straightened, one hand going to steady himself against the side of the car. The smell of his burning blood hit the younger Winchester as he drew closer.

It smelled like fire and power and the scent of ozone that lingered just after a lightning strike. The scent tickled in his nose and Sam fought the urge to sneeze. His mouth was watering and his throat felt dry. There was no sulphur undertone, no meaty overtone that all blood had, no iron tang. There also wasn’t the smell of burnt flesh and scorched blood that Sam was overly familiar with.

How powerful was that blood? Demon blood had a kick to it but Sam had quickly discovered that the effect it had on his powers was dramatic. It enhanced them for a time but once the high wore off they were gone. He’d never considered what angel blood might do and he found himself wondering if it would do something completely difference.

“Why can’t you two just fight it out in Heaven? Why does it have to be on earth? Why destroy the prize that you both want to claim?” Sam asked as he got closer and closer to the bleeding archangel.

Lucifer laughed again, long and loud and grating. Blood bubbled past his lips and ran down his chin to drip into the dust between his legs. Sam swallowed heavily and hesitated on his next step forward.

“Oh, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy,” Lucifer said haltingly, “Father cast me from Heaven, I can’t go back. And Michael would never debase himself by going to Hell, even to cleanse it. A whole garrison descended upon Hell and the highest ranking member was a middle management grunt and he didn’t descend past the outer defenses. Castiel may have been well respected but he was created during the Fall, he is one of the youngest of us.”

“Cas isn’t cannon fodder,” Sam gritted out through clenched teeth.

“I agree, but does he see it that way? Does Heaven see it that way? Look how quickly they tossed him aside,” Lucifer said.

Sam’s eyes narrowed in anger and he opened his mouth to rip the devil a new one.

A gunshot rang across the junkyard.

Sam’s eyes went wide in horror and Lucifer’s manic grin went sad and somber around the edges.

“And that,” Lucifer drawled, “would be my little brother blowing his brains out all over Singer’s living room.”

The Winchester turned around and bolted towards the house. Lucifer watched him go, sighed, and dragged himself to his feet so he that could stumble after his True Vessel.

Chapter Two: And So It Begins

Bobby was in the door to the living room when Sam skidded in through the kitchen. The expression on his face was grim, brows drawn down in a scowl and lips pursed together until they turned white with the pressure. Sam looked at him and he suddenly knew, he didn’t even have to see to know but he had to see, he wouldn’t believe it otherwise.

Sam paused as Bobby turned his face towards him and shook his head slowly. He moved forward and the older man held up one hand in caution.

“Boy, you don’t need to see this,” Bobby’s voice was sympathetic and Sam didn’t want that.

Sam gritted his teeth and strode forwards anyways. He regretted it almost instantly and the bottom dropped out of his stomach. At least Cas had been neat about his suicide.

The former angel’s body was sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the couch angel blade in one hand, a gun with Dean’s amulet wrapped around it in the other. He’d laid a semi-white sheet across the couch and along the floor to catch the blood and brain matter and slowly cooling grace. There was a hole in the exact center of Cas’s forehead, right above his eyes, his wide blue eyes.

But the worst part was the wings.

Unlike any other angel they had killed or seen dead Castiel’s wings weren’t burned across the sheet behind him. Rivulets of blood were running down his back to pool on the ground around him and under him. The holes in his back where his wings would be if they were physical gaped open, forming meaty red pits that would have drawn the eye if not for what lay on top of the coffee table in front of Castiel.

Two black as ink wings with blue and purple tinting the ends of the flight feathers and were run through with streaks of white  that looked like lightning. One very green patch rested on the upper curve of his left wing. Sam had a feeling that if he checked it against Dean’s hand there would be a perfect match.

“How?” Sam asked, fighting back the nausea climbing up his throat.

“I was on the phone with one of the local police departments, I didn’t even notice until he sat down,” Bobby said, “I’m sorry, boy, I would’ve-”

“No, I’m not blaming you. I meant how are his wings corporeal, how did he dig them out? Why would he… Why?” Sam stuttered out.

There was a coughing laugh from behind him and Sam turned to see Lucifer dragging himself through the doorway. The devil leaned against the doorway in what Sam thought was supposed to be a casual lean but just looked like he was trying to hold himself up as his legs began to give out on him. Bobby had his shotgun in his hands and pointed at Lucifer in a second flat.

“Angel feathers are used in quite a few protection spells,” Lucifer croaked and pushed off of the doorframe.

He made his way across the room slowly, painfully slowly until he could see Castiel. He paused right next to Sam and the tall human backed away from him, his body might be failing but he was still an archangel, still more powerful than Cas had ever been and had still been capable of killing his brother. He watched warily as Lucifer’s face fell and his eyes grew even sadder.

“Oh, baby brother,” Lucifer whispered, bareilly loud enough for Sam to hear, “look at what they’ve made of you. Scarred and imperfect but still marked with power. Following our Father’s final command until it killed you.”

Sam decided not to comment as Bobby wheeled himself backwards towards his counter and the angel blade he had in one of the drawers. The scent of the blood was beginning to get overwhelming, growing stronger and more concentration in the confined space of the house.

“Last chance, Sam,” Lucifer spoke louder and turned his head to look up at his Vessel through tired eyes with fire burning in the darkness behind them, “I’ll respect your decision but Michael’s going to be here in a few minutes. He won’t care about collateral and what more do you have to live for anymore? Dean is dead, his angel is dead, my Father isn’t coming, and your surrogate father is going to die of liver disease within the next month. Please, don’t let them win, don’t let me have to prove them right.”

Sam reached behind him and pulled the blade from the back of his jeans in one swift movement. He brought it to Lucifer’s throat and held it there, the tip barely digging into the flesh of his neck. The fallen angel just smiled and chuckled brokenly.

One of his eyes popped and the thick, viscous liquid ran down the Fallen’s cheek in a dribble of clear fluid, boiling as it went. Sam tried to hold back the retching that was trying to work it’s way up his throat.

“Give me one good reason not to kill you,” Sam growled, “You’re the reason we’re all in this mess to begin with.”

Lucifer looked at him with his single eye, smiling sadly, “Sammy-”

“Don’t call me that,” Sam snapped and let the blade dig into the angel’s flesh, blood and grace dribbled down his neck to pool in the dip of his collar bone.

“Sam,” Lucifer sighed, “I’m tired. This is the end, one way or another. You are the one thing my Father ever gave me. I may have been the favorite, I may have loved Him more than anything in existence but He made everything for Himself. My joy, my brothers’ joy, those were side benefits. A superfluous thing that added to the satisfaction of the creation. When I disobeyed he told me of the one soul in all of Creation that would be mine, mine to love, mine to care for, mine to protect. And then, when I still refused to love humanity more than I loved Him, an impossible feet that I would have never been able to accomplish, he cast me out. When Michael threw me in the Cage you were the thing I clung to to keep myself sane once the Fallen had warped too far for them to be able to touch Heaven and their links to me atrophied.”

“So what? I’m a consolation prize?” Sam asked.

“No, Sam, oh no, you’re far more than that,” Lucifer scrambled to say, “You’re a gift, the only gift my Father has ever given me and your world has forced you to deny me. Say yes, Sam. Say yes or let it die, watch it all burn under the fury of two waring archangels.”

Sam searched his eyes, the scent of blood and grace mixing and melding in the air, hitting Sam with another wave of desire. He swallowed the saliva pooling in the back of his mouth and searched Lucifer’s eyes for any hint of a lie.

There wasn’t one.

Dread pooled in the pit of his stomach the Fallen angel was telling the truth or at least what he thought the truth was. Sam took a deep, shaking breath and began to turn the problem of the apocalypse over and over in his brain.

Say yes, give in and destroy the world. Say no, refuse to bend to destiny and spend the next few day, weeks, however long running away, trying to escape, survive, help as many as he could as Michael and Lucifer duked it out in their True Forms. Or…

Or option three, kill the devil right here and now. Watch Lucifer burn out under Gabriel’s blade and take his chances with Heaven’s warriors.

Alright, go back to basics, Sam. Cause and effect.

If he killed Lucifer there would be an explosion of grace that would alert every single angel in existence that the devil was dead. There would be two archangel’s left, both on Heaven’s side, at least one of which was a nihilistic asshole who had exploded Cas. The other angels would follow them like tiny automatons, unaware of what they’re doing and what it actually meant to the humans on Earth.

There were two ways Michael could lean in the outcome of Lucifer’s death. He could return to Heaven to mourn his brother’s death and wait for God’s return.

Or, as above so below, Dean and Sam’s reactions to other people harming their brother was explosive and if they were in point of fact modeled after the two eldest angels then Sam didn’t want to imagine Michael’s reaction to Lucifer dying by a human’s hand.

What would he do? Would he kill Sam? Would he stop at Sam? Or would he go on to take his anger out on the rest of humanity?

Humanity had no heavy hitting allies left Gabriel was dead, Crowley was most likely dead, the pagan gods were dead. Or at least most of them were, Sam had done a bit of research after the stepford santa incident and had discovered a few things.

Gods lived off of belief for the most part with the occasional sacrifice from their followers to supplement their power. The eating of human flesh thing was a last resort option for gods fading from the world with no followers to keep them going anymore. Dying gods with no power, dying a creeping death they could decades in advance. Norse, Indian, Haitian Vodou at least those three were still worshiped, he knew that much. Odin, Baldur, and Ganesh would eventually reform themselves but would they do it in time to help? Could they help?

Lucifer had torn through them like they were nothing more than tissue paper. What would Michael do? What would the rest of the Host? Would they even help people who didn’t worship them?

So option three was out or at least so complicated that Sam didn’t think he would ever be able to deal with the fallout. Was there a fourth option because he didn’t like the other three?

Sam’s eyes fell to Lucifer’s throat and the trail of blood and grace flowing down his throat. It was so so tempting but he dragged his thoughts away from that. Blood was bad, he couldn’t go there again. The downward spiral might actually kill him this time. Demon blood was addictive and the withdrawal had been hell, he had no idea what angel blood would do but he imagined that the withdrawal would be ten times worst, at least.

So his options were bad, worst, and downright awful. How the fuck was he supposed to pick?

And option four was dangling in front of his face like the apple of Eden before Eve. And he realized he was casting himself as the woman in this scenario but he had passed the point of caring a day ago. His give a shit had broken with Deans skull and burned with his brother’s body.

“No,” Sam said with narrowed eyes.

Lucifer sighed, eyes closing and eyebrows furrowing in sorrow, “Alright then, goodbye, Sammy. I’ll see you in… I’ll see you.”

He stepped back, just far enough to pull his throat away from the blade and stumbled, right knee giving out from under him and cracking the kitchen tile under him. He started to glow faintly, the blue light of his grace shining through his skin as it fought to get out.

“Run,” Lucifer choked, “Sammy, run, I can’t-”

Sam felt something inside him die, something that had dinged with Jess, Broken with Dean’s first death, and shattered with the latest. The blankness spread and spread and Sam only remembered feeling like this on The Wednesday, that horrible, horrible day that had last six months. It was cold in his heart and his mind had spiraled into lines of logic that burned as they snaked out along his synapsis.

He felt himself think, ‘Fuck it, it’s the end of the world anyway,’ grabbed Lucifer by the hair and yanked his head up to expose his throat. The Fallen’s remaining eye went wide as Sam stared down at him and then he smiled as Sam drew Gabriel’s blade across his throat.

Blood and grace poured from the wound in the brief seconds before Sam’s mouth latched itself over the liquid.

It was cold, ice cold, burning as it flowed down his throat. It tasted like ash and hope and ice and fire and power and life, life, life. Life beginning, life unending, the source of it all wrapped up in the darkness of sin and shadow and… humanity. The taste was clear and true and Sam hummed in pleasure.

It was nothing like demon blood, nothing like the meat and smoke and hard liquor that had poured down his throat in an unending tide to drown him.

Sam swallowed and swallowed and swallowed until the body in his arms went still and the sound of wings sounded from behind him. There was the crack of a shotgun and then a scream abruptly silenced.

He dropped the body and turned to look as Michael, who was staring at him from beside Bobby’s corpse.

Chapter Three: Samuel

“Brother?” Michael asked, wings pulled back in shock and fluttering in distress behind him.

They were bigger than Cas’s and a steely grey they reminded Sam of the blade in his hand. They were almost completely blemish free except for one brilliant white line of feathers that ran along the underside of the left wing from the bottom of the middle primaries to the top of the outer most marginal coverts. It looked like someone had tried to cut his wing clean off.

For a second Sam wasn’t quite sure how he knew the white was scaring and then he remembered the grace. The grace that was currently sitting in his stomach and floating upwards to wrap around that spot just behind his heart where Sam thought the soul sat, like a ball of happy warmth. Knowledge and memories were starting to slowly worm their way into his brain, whispering here, presenting a fact there. He still felt like himself with a little power tucked in at the back of his brain, not like the demon blood which had rocketed him to a high that made his head spin.

He felt strong for the first time in months, years, since he died and Dean sold his soul. His brain didn’t hurt, his muscles didn’t ache, and the slow warmth of the grace was spreading through his bones. That was strange, grace burned cold didn’t it?

“Not quite,” Sam said and cocked his head to the right, examining Adam’s body and what he could suddenly see curled up inside Adam’s body. The shining, dazzling being that had to be Michael’s true form, dozens of eyes and three faces, six arms and a whipcord tail with his blade inbedded in the end.

Sam blinked and felt something flutter behind him, he looked up and back. There were two wings the color of spun sunshine stretched up over his head, two whispy white incorporeal wings were curled around his ribs under his arms, and the last two blazed with green fire where they stretched down towards the ground. Hellfire, he registered absentmindedly and looked back up at Michael.

The steel winged angel had backed away from him with a look of pure horror on his faces. The Lion bared its teeth and the Falcon cawed in distress. The humanish one that lay just under Adam’s had a lip that was trembling.

“Huh,” Sam said and turned his head to look at Cas’s body but all he could see was the body and the empty space where something should be, “this is the single most trippiest thing I have ever experienced.”

“What did you do?” Michael asked, the horror in his voice evident, a different voice layered itself over Adam’s, an older voice that Sam recognized on an instinctual level.

“I’m not quite sure,” Sam said and looked at Bobby’s body, the same emptiness was there in Bobby’s chest, just behind his heart, “Why do you only have two wings? Gabriel had six.”

Because Gabriel had had six wings spread in ash across the floor of Elysian Fields when Sam had insisted on going back to retrieve his body. Dean had argued with him the entire way there until they’d gotten into the dining room, they’d both fallen silent then. Dean had whistled at the three massive sets of ash wings and the blade sticking straight out of his chest. Sam had made a little sound in the back of his throat and moved forward to pull the blade out of Gabriel’s body.

He handed the blade to Dean and bent down to pick up Gabriel’s vessel. He’d cradled the archangel to his chest and walked out of the hotel in complete silence, Dean trailing after him, just as quiet.

They’d buried Gabriel instead of burning him, it just seemed like a better idea for some reason. They’d gone to a forest of oak and elm nearby and had gone trudging through until they’d found a clearing full of wildflowers. They’d took turns digging the grave, not deep, they didn’t have time for deep, just enough for the body to rest snuggly in the earth without anything sticking out.

Sam wondered vaguely wondered if the raw earth above his body had sprouted flowers yet. His wings twitched absently, the middle set that was trying to melt into his skin. And he suddenly knew that if he stretched them out he could go back there, visit Gabriel’s grave.

But, no, Michael was here, on Earth, in front of him and he’d have to deal with that archangel first.

“Gabriel was the Messenger. What are you?” Michael hissed, wings going up to mantel in a clear attempt at intimidation.

Sam cocked his head and hummed to himself, the tiny part of him that had been Lucifer whispering in the back of his mind, “Chimera.”

Michael took a step forward and snarled. Sam just looked at him, the treat was there, right in front of him but Sam didn’t feel frightened. He wasn’t quite sure why but it felt like he was staring at a tiger from behind an incredibly high, sturdy fence with barbed wire around the top.

“Abomination,” Michael hissed and his blade flicked from his tail to his hand with a swish that Sam had to follow with his eyes.

Sam snorted in mild irritation at Michael’s narrow minded exclamation because, “Wrong, oh so wrong. I’m exactly what Heaven made me. I might not be what God intended but free will has always been a tricky beast now hasn’t it?”

Michael froze in place for half a second as those words processed, Sam could see visible error messages popping up all over Michael’s multiple heads even if none of it passed across Adam’s face. It was mildly amusing to both sides of Sam, or rather all three sides because he was starting to realize that the creeping sadistic side that he did his best to ignore was a result of the tiny thread of demon blood still in his system. He was pretty sure it had weld itself to his soul at this point.

“Blasphemy,” Michael snarls and lunges.

The second set of wings move almost without Sam telling them to and scooped the air around him, moving him through space faster than any angel could follow. The expression of pure shocked fury on the older angel’s face was priceless in the fraction of the second before Sam vanished from Bobby’s kitchen.

The space between spaces was interesting, a strange blankness that wasn’t blank at all somehow. It was full and empty, light and dark, loud and silent all at once. It was almost too much for the part of him that was completely human to bare, his mind was trying to overload itself on the sensations but the grace and the blood wouldn’t let it, anchored it to the here and now.

He floated there for awhile, wings moving lazily in the faint current that he could feel flowing around what felt like feathers but weren’t. He was trying to get used to it, trying to desensitize his human body to the overwhelming feeling of the inbetween. But he could feel Michael searching through it, trying to find him, his rage distinct enough to resonate along the webwork of power that made up the inbetween.

Sam let his wings move again and slipped into reality once more facing the clearing where he’d buried Gabriel. It was sunny, bright and clear and the sun shone down on the tiny patch of golden wildflowers clumped over the scarred earth. They were an unfamiliar species and it made him pause in indecision as his eyes traced over them.

They were like a combination of lilies and carnations and lavender all at once. It was confusing and their silvery stalks were even more confusing because those flowers weren’t of this planet. Sam could see that and the memory of them somewhere else was vague but there and he couldn’t remember where Lucifer had seen them.

He thought about it for a minute, digging through centuries and millennia of memories until…

Eden.

The place where Lucifer had seen those flowers was Eden. Before Adam, before Eve, before humanity was even a thought in the back of God’s brain, when it was just the archangels and God.

They’d been Gabriel’s favorites until they’d been lost. Lucifer had never forgiven their Father for that, the expression on the youngest archangel’s face when he’d gone looking for the flowers and found them replaced by purple lavender, white lilies, and yellow carnations.

In hindsight that was when Lucifer’s doubt had begun to take root. After all how could their Father be so cruel as to take something away that Gabriel loved so much and not even notice his youngest son’s sorrow. It had made absolutely no sense to the Morning Star, not at the time anyways but it had been the beginning of a pattern that Lucifer had only really begun to notice After. After he snapped, After he rebelled, After he took that one last step and stood against his Father for the first time ever.

But now they were here. Why were they here?

They were a dead flower, a flower that no longer existed because their Father had willed it so and willed others into existence in its place. The sight made Sam twitch and his hands clenched around Gabriel’s blade.

Why here? Why now? Why would there Father do this? Why would He give Gabriel back his favorite flower when he wasn’t even alive to appreciate the sight of it?

“This wasn’t how it was supposed to go, Son,” a voice said from behind him and Sam’s spine went stiff as a board, “He wasn’t supposed to die, not here, not now. He was supposed to be useful a few years down the line but a fraction of a second makes all the distance but no loss. Then, I took my eye off of that little Crossroads Demon and he choked on his own treachery.”

“Useful,” Sam hissed under his breath, “Useful! Is that all he would have been to you, Father?! A useful tool! Is that all we are?!”

Sam whirled around, fury writ large across his face and froze as he took in God in all his glory. It was strange looking at the being that had created it all and see the thousands upon millions upon billions of wings stretching out behind God’s vessel. They were every color of the rainbow and constructed of every single building material known to man. But it was the vessel himself that shook Sam to the bone.

“Chuck?” Sam asked because that was definitely the Prophet dressed in long flowing white robes that looked incredibly jaring and out of place on him.

“Lucifer,” Chuck/God said and nodded as politely as possible, “I am very-”

“Sam,” Sam snapped at the most powerful being in existence, God blinked in confusion, “it’s Sam, Father. Lucifer’s grace might be in here but I am not him. He died twenty minutes ago under Gabriel’s blade.”

There is silence for a few seconds as God appears to bore into Sam with his gaze.

“Huh,” God said under his breath, “Lucifer’s grace should have burned you up from the inside out as soon as it passed your lips. The demon blood in your system should have ensured it. But… Azazel, he was Fallen, I see now. Angel is angel blood no matter how long it’s been tainted by time in the Pit, I did not expect that. I will have to start over.”

“What?” Sam snarled as God got a far off look in his eye that made Sam’s skin crawl.

“This does not appear to be the world where my Sister will emerge, I must move on to the next one,” God explained, waving a hand as if it was perfectly reasonable to abandon a world purely for the fact that his plans had gone slightly off track.

“So you’re just going to abandon this world? Leave it to rot. I thought you cared about humanity. Lucifer thought we were the only thing you loved.” Sam said and backed up a step.

The urge to stab God was almost overwhelming and stabbing the most powerful being in the universe was probably an incredibly bad idea. Suicidal even, and if Lucifer was still in full possession of his body and mind he would have tried it but Sam wasn’t him and if there was any chance of fixing what had gone wrong Sam needed to be on God’s good side. No matter how badly it grated on him, on all his sides.

“Of course not,” God said, “I’m leaving it to you.”

Sam laughed, he didn’t know why he laughed but it wasn’t a pretty sound. It was pretty terrifying actually. Loud and harsh and broken beyond belief. Sam had never really understood Lucifer’s whole deal but now he did, with angel’s memories in his head and his Father standing right in front of him in all his uncaring glory.

“Forgive me, Father. For I have sinned,” Sam spat, letting Lucifer’s bitterness rise in his chest and pore out of his mouth, “I have killed angels and humans and demons. The grace tried to end the world and I set him free from his Cage. He gave Cain Darkness’s Mark and instigated the first murder. I am something the world has never seen before, I am something you never intended. I am what I and the world have made of me and you have already admitted that your plan has gone off the rails to the extreme. Why would you leave a world to an unknown factor that has proven himself to be untrustworthy?”

“Who better? You have the power of all three realms running through your body. The demonic blood of a Fallen, the grace of an angel, and the body and mind of a human. Who else could I leave?” God asked.

“Don’t you care. You cast down your own son for humanity’s sake. Why would you just walk away?” Sam asked, morbid curiosity welling up in his mind.

“My Sister, is lost. I locked Her away and I regret it still. Humans… they were made in our image, they were supposed to fill a void but as I watched I was just reminded of my Sister over and over again. I need her back and this timeline will not give her to me,” God sighed and Sam stared at him in shock.

“Alright then,” he said after a moment of consideration, brain moving at a mile a minute as possibilities spun out in front of him in an unending stream, “then I have permission to do whatever I want with the timeline, no interference, no paradoxes.”

“Of course, this world would be yours, to do with as you wish,” God said.

“And you would go to another timeline, try again there?” Sam asked, following the timeline back to where the world started to fuck itself over, when Sam started drinking demon blood.

“Yes. Yes, I would, there’s nothing for me here,” God remarked and his wings shook themselves out a bit more, expanding impossibly wider.

“Deal,” Sam decided and looked at God with expectant eyes.

God smiled and took a step forward. Sam tried to back up but found he couldn’t move. He couldn’t quite find it in himself to panic either which was a whole new level of confusing in and of itself. Because he really should be panicking, the most powerful being in the universe was walking towards him with a smile on his face after Sam had just agreed to replace him.

Sam was calm, deceptively calm as an apex predator moved towards him. His brain was fighting against whatever was holding it still, the grace in his body pinned under something far more powerful than it could have ever hoped to be. God’s hands framed Sam’s face and brought his head down to lay a kiss on the human’s forehead.

The brief brush of skin against skin was so utterly, freezingly cold that it burned like acid against Sam’s skin. He could feel the power in the kiss press past layers of skin and bone and brain matter until it touched something deeper, the animal thing in the deepest part of his psyche that screamed in fury at the intrusion. It made God chuckle against Sam’s skin and the sound vibrated through all the way to Sam’s bones.

God withdrew after a moment and stepped back but there was still a piece of his power sitting low in Sam’s mind, worming its way down until it touched his grace, whispered something into it that made it calm. And then it was gone between one breath and the next.

“Goodbye, Samuel, and good luck,” God said and vanished into thin air without even a flicker of wings.

Sam stood frozen for a few seconds before slowly sinking down to sit on the ground. That had been confusing, now what was he going to do? But that wasn’t really a question was it, Sam already knew what he had to do and what he was going to do. The only real question left was how.

With a deep breath he stood up, strode over to Gabriel’s grave and gently coaxed the flower out of the earth, being careful not to damage the roots. Once he had it in hand he materialized a flower pot and tucked it into the new soil with soft movements.

Then, pot in hand, he vanished to the sound of Michael’s frustrated screams.

Chapter Four: Between

The pocket dimension Sam created for himself was small, comparatively so when he took into account the fact that Gabriel had created an entire alternate United States during the Mystery Spot Incident. It was just a two story house with a backyard and a couple acres of forest.

Sam was sitting in the grass, gazing up at the clear blue sky above him. He had the flower in his lap and he was pondering how he could prevent everything from going so wrong.

Dean had to go to Hell, he knew that, he’d accepted it after a few hours of internal debate and he hated that fact but Dean needed Castiel and Castiel needed Dean. The connection those two had formed during the ascent from Hell was partially necessary to that end or at least it was the fastest way to form that sort of bond Sam could think of without him having to lock the two in a hotel room together with a bed covered in rose petals, two dozen candles, and slow romantic music playing in the background.

Sam’s brother might have been Cas’s mate but he had not been ready for the bisexual freak out when he was in high school and he definitely hadn’t been ready for the interspecies freak out when he realized he was in love with Cas. Dean’s reaction had been exactly the same both times, ignore it until it went away. It had worked neither of those times.

Sam highly doubted that a Dean who’d never even met Cas would be in any ways prepared for angel sex. Sam hadn’t been prepared of what Lucifer remembered of angel sex and he could have done without those images of Michael thank you very much. He knew that people you loved could hurt you like no one else but still.

Sam was getting off track, so Dean needed to go to Hell, even though he didn’t truly deserve it, the pain, the guilt, the festering fury. So Dean had to go to Hell but he couldn’t draw blood, if he drew blood they’d start this whole debacle all over again and that was what Sam was trying to avoid.

Wait a minute, when exactly had the siege of hell started? Cas had never said, none of the angels had mentioned it in fact which was suddenly incredibly suspicious on multiple levels. Sam didn’t blame Cas, the little guy was a soldier, created to obey the commands of his superiors and go to war to fight against the darker side of the world.

Alright, if Sam wanted the apocalypse how would he hide that from his subordinates. The very thought made his skin crawl, he didn’t want to think like Zachariah, if he started doing it on a regular basis he’d just take himself out. He never wanted to be that uncaring, that cold towards humanity.

Starting the siege too late would be suspicious, if they started it after Dean had broken and drawn blood then something would have definitely pinged on someone’s radar as weird. Granted angels tended towards oblivious as exemplified by the whole den of iniquity incident that Sam had laughed at Dean for but that was just so obvious that Sam feared for the fate of angel kind if no one had caught on to that level of overt planning.

So they had to have started the siege before the fourth month but if they started it too early then they ran the risk of one of the angels managing to break through the demon’s line and getting Dean out too soon. They would have either had to stall or start later than would have made sense from a strategic standpoint.

Sam was going to place his bet on a combination of the two. This would be so much easier if he could just look back along the timeline without fucking with anything but Sam knew himself too well. If he dove in without a solid plan he’d just end up doing things without thinking everything through and that would end incredibly poorly.

What he probably needed to do was stay in Hell from the moment Dean was dragged down. It would be torture to watch his brother being steadily and systematically broken into tiny Dean shaped pieces but he’d have to do it to ensure he caught Castiel the moment he entered Hell and could drag the angel to Dean’s wrack.

That was Dean sorted out, the first seal unbroken but more importantly Dean unbroken. But there was still Sam’s past self and Ruby and the demon blood that she’d poisoned him with.

It had tainted the Fallen blood that already coursed through his veins, turned it from a part of him into an addiction, a crutch. It made the power he held turn on him, rip itself to shreds and imbed those shards in his brain.

Ruby had showed up at one of his lowest points, swooped in and appeared to save him from himself. She’d wound him up over Lilith, higher and higher and higher until all Sam could see was the red of Lilith’s blood spilled over those ridiculous white dresses of hers. Then she’d handed what seemed like a perfectly reasonable solution to the angry dog that had taken over Sam’s mind, dosed him up, and watched him go.

The addiction would crack his past self’s relationship with Dean, it didn’t matter if Dean hadn’t broken under Alistair’s whip, Dean hated demons with a passion, not quite to the level of witches but it was up their. The break wouldn’t be as bad and if the first seal didn’t break and Sam couldn’t break the last without completely fucking up everyone’s plans but Sam was trying to improve everyone’s position and the demon blood addiction was completely unnecessary for Sam’s new, improved timeline plan.

How would hae stop the addiction if he was down in Hell, watching Dean? He needed help, he needed someone else on his side. But who would be willing to help.

Not Bobby. Bobby would help but Bobby had already tried to help in the other timeline and that hadn’t worked at all the last time. Bringing him in might actually make things worse than they already were, Sam’s rebellious streak hadn’t really died out in high school, like most teenagers’ did.

Gabriel? No, that wouldn’t end well for anyone involved. The last time Past Sam would have seen Gabriel would have been at the Mystery Spot on that fateful Wednesday and Sam hadn’t truly realized what Gabriel had been trying to do until TV Land. Sam would probably just try to stake him again.

Maybe if Sam sent a woman to his past self he’d react more positively.

Jo? No, Ellen would kill him or, worst, she wouldn’t kill him. Woman got creative when they were pissed off, there was a reason Lilith had been the first one Lucifer had twisted up into a demon.

Ellen wouldn’t be able to do jack shit. She had the bar to run and Past Sam probably wouldn’t be as receptive to a motherly boot to the ass as Sam would hope.

Who else was there? No one alive that he knew of but Sam was an angel now wasn’t he, or close enough to count. He could pull someone from Heaven.

But who, who was important enough to both him and his past self to be willing to help. The list was still tragically short: Andy, Dad, Jess…

Jess.

Jess. What if he could resurrect Jess? What if he could bring her back?

She probably wouldn’t be able to deal with the fact that he was a Chimera but she would probably be able to deal with Past Sam being a hunter. She’d been into mythology and she’d dealt with the knives and books and salt lines.

Jess had had wiccan friends and heathen friends, people who Sam knew knew about, at the very least, gods and magic. The one Frigga’s woman friend of hers had taken one look at him and gone vaguely pale before getting him alone and promising him her patron goddess wasn’t one of the ones that ate human flesh.

So it was very likely that telling her that the supernatural was real, followed by a brief demonstration wouldn’t result in screaming histarics. At least he hoped it wouldn’t and he could keep her in this pocket dimension to train and let her warm up to the idea of being alive and having to save her hunter boyfriend.

He’d have to get Ruby out of the equation though, if Past Sam had already latched onto Ruby as a companion then she would do everything in her power to get Jess out of the picture and her disappearance would cause him to react badly. So she’d have to be taken out before she could save Sam from those demons.

Jess would either have to take her place and save Sam instead of Ruby or show up earlier and, oh, oh that was the perfect opportunity. If he dropped Jess off right as Dean was being ripped apart from those demons she could sneak up behind Lilith and stab the bitch through the spine.

But, if that happened, would heaven even bother sending angels down to rescue Dean from Hell.

Sam groaned and flopped backwards onto the grass so that he could stare up at the single cloud working its way across the sky. Jess would just have to replace Ruby before the she bitch had a chance to sink her claws into Sam, that should be easy enough, he just needed to remember the location of one of the crossroads he had used and plop her down there to intercept Past Sam before he could bury the box. It would have to be one of the later ones but Sam could manage that.

Wait, Past Sam probably wasn’t going to react favorably to his very dead girlfriend suddenly appearing out of nowhere to interrupt his attempts to resurrect Dean. he’d probably shoot her on sight, thinking she was a shapeshifter or a demon or a trickster.

Damn it all. Why was this so difficult?

Okay, so Jess couldn’t outright reveal herself, at least not right away. She’d have to hide her identity, earn Sam’s trust before revealing who she really was, if she ever could. Could he do that to her?

Could Sam in good conscience pull Jess from Heaven, from what he assumed were happy memories, reveal a fact of life that no one truly wanted to find out, train her to fight all the darkness in the world, and then set her down on earth to save past him and not give her the opportunity to have the happy reunion she deserved? She would be distraught, she’d cry and scream and be miserable beyond belief.

He didn’t want to do that to her, not without her full, informed consent. But if he told her what he needed her to do, what she would be sacrificing, what she’d have right in front of her face without the opportunity to reveal that she was alive would she do it?

Would she sacrifice her own happiness to save the world? To save Sam?

Yes. The answer was most likely yes. Jess had always been wrapped up in Sam from the instant they met, an instant connection that had hit them both like a punch in the gut.

It wasn’t lust, Sam had experienced instant lust before and knew to be suspicious of it. Too many supernatural creatures used lust to tempt their prey into their clutches, sirens, mermaids, succubi, just to name a few. The connection was more mental, they clicked in that way some people just do.

Sam’s girlfriend at the time, the most wonder bread of all the church girls on campus, hadn’t taken too kindly to the mythology debate they had gotten into over copies of the Poetic Edda. She’d taken offense to Jess’s everything and proceeded to show the more nasty side of her personality that Sam hadn’t witnessed until that point.

Sam took a deep breath and sighed. He was about to regret everything he’d ever done to lead up to this point. He hated seeing Jessica unhappy, he’d never been able watch her cry without panicking and that one time she’d spent two hours just staring at the ceiling after she’d caught her boyfriend cheating had made him want to give her everything short of Dean’s soul to stop her from looking like a corpse.

If she said yes, that stopped the demon blood and Dean was out of Hell. Who was still on the board, still playing the game?

Ruby, depending on whether or not Jess took her out at the first opportunity. Lilith, who Sam was going to take out himself as soon as Cas had Dean’s soul in his grasp or maybe he’d tell Jess to go for it as soon as Heaven started their siege. They couldn’t stop once it had started after all. Alistair, as soon as Dean was safe Sam was going to rip that little shit to shreds, no one hurt Dean, no one.

That was Hell’s side of things. All those demons would be an easy kill, a quick thrust of a blade and all those power players would be gone in an instant. Dean would be safe from Hell’s machinations, his past self would be safe from Hell’s machinations. But Hell wasn’t really the problem here now was it?

Heaven was the real problem when it came down to it, they were the ones engineering the apocalypse after all and that list was a bit more complicated. He didn’t honestly want to kill Michael and while Sam would love to pull Raphael’s wings off like a kid with a spider he didn’t think he’d manage to do so.

At least Zachariah wouldn’t be all that big of a problem, that asshole wasn’t much more than a middle management today. Uriel would have to go too, even Lucifer hadn’t approved of the slaughter of the angel’s own garrison. But what to do about Annael, she was fine until she’d decided to try and kill Sam before he was born.

She’d also slept with Dean but Sam couldn’t allow that to happen because it would drive a wedge between Dean and Cas. Sam would not let that happen, those two needed to get their act together this time or both Sams might end up bursting a blood vessel. The sexual tension had been bad while the apocalypse was happening, he dreaded to think how thick it would be when those two had time to be around each other more.

The search for God wouldn’t be going on either, not if Sam had anything to say about it. God was actually gone this time, torturing Cas with that particular carrotless stick was just plain cruel.

The easiest way to fix that would be to kill Anna, but Sam had liked her before she’d tried to murder him and she’d been the one to deal with Uriel last time around. He could keep her grace away from her instead but she’d still end up going after Dean if that happened. He needed to keep her away from Dean all together, at least until Cas had made a move.

Sam rubbed at his forehead, if he wasn’t pumped full of grace at the moment he’d probably be getting a headache right about now. And he hadn’t even considered what he was going to do about the fact that his grace felt like it belonged to Lucifer.

Oh fuck, what was he going to do about Lucifer?

Sam groaned, he was considering just letting that lie until it became a problem but that was never a brilliant plan. Besides, Sam remembered the Cage now, remembered what it had been like for Lucifer.

He felt Michael’s betrayal like a scar running along Lucifer’s grace and the despair of his Father not even bothering to show up for his sentencing. The other angel’s wary, hateful gazes were still fresh in his mind, hearing their scathing words like they were still in front of him.

The monotony of the Cage was worst, the only voices he could hear were those of his Fallen who disappeared. They were either lost to humanity or killed until it was only Azazel left and Azazel had never been particularly stable to begin with. And then Lucifer had been alone in the silence, in his own head for hundreds of thousands of years with only the screams of the damned to keep him company. If all Sam saw of humanity was Hell he’d hate humans too.

Sam wondered if he’d have a connection to Lucifer when he traveled back in time. That would have to go on the back burner though, he was almost confident he could break the devil out of the freezer if he had to but he honestly didn’t know if Lucifer had actually wanted to start the apocalypse or if he’d just been backed into a corner.

He’d deal with Jess first, then worry about everything else.

Chapter Five: Jessica

Jessica was reading a book on early depictions of angels with her back against Sam’s chest and her legs kicked up on the arm of the couch when the knock on the door came. She blinked as the sharp rap on the door rang through the apartment and set down her cup of hot chocolate.

No one had knocked on the door before, not since… Jess didn’t know, her brain fogged up when she thought of anything past what had happened ten minutes ago but she was almost sure no one had knocked on the door in a very long time and she wasn’t expecting anyone. Brady was off getting laid and Carol was doing a weird Samhain ritual involving warding off negative spirits, none of their other friends were in town.

Or, at least, Jess didn’t think any of their other friends were in town.

Jessica sighed and pulled herself to her feet, Sam grumbled for a second before going back to his nap. Jess smiled and tucked her blanket in around him to keep him warm. Normally he’d have woken up before whoever it was was anywhere near their door but he was exhausted from the all nighter he’d pulled yesterday.

With a quick glance back at Sam Jess tiptoed to the door and opened it as silently as possible, the hinges had a tendency to squeak if she wasn’t careful. Sam stayed asleep and Jessica sighed in relief as she opened the door all the way.

“Hello, can I hel-” Jessica stopped as she finally registered who was standing in her doorway.

It was Sam. Or rather a version of Sam, older than the Sam on the couch with longer hair and tired eyes that seemed to look into her very soul. He looked tired and sad and just that tiny bit broken.

And he had wings, six of them. Golden and white and blazingly green, curled around him like they were trying to shield him from something.

“What?” Jessica asked as she stared at him in amazement and then she was struggling to breath.

Brady had come to the apartment. He was supposed to be on a date with his newest conquest “this could be the one,” he’d said. He’d acted upset, she’d assumed he’d been stood up.

She’d let him in, dear gods she’d let him in, his eyes had gone black, like endless pools of darkness.

And then pain.

Jessica fell to her knees, struggling to breath past the pain she could feel in her chest, the pain that shouldn’t be there but she could feel anyway because Brady had stabbed her right through the gut and laughed while she’d struggled to breath past the pain.

And she’d been pinned to the ceiling like a bug on a wall and then Sam, oh gods Sam’s face as he’d stared up at her, as the fire had begun to consume her.

Her hands came up to cover her mouth, to hold back the scream building in her throat, clawing its way up her throat as the despair hit her all at once. She was dead. She was dead and Brady or whoever, whatever the fuck he was had killed her and Sam had watched her burn. Just like his mother had.

“I’m sorry about that, but I thought it was best to just rip it off like a bandaid,” Sam’s voice said from above her but that couldn’t be Sam and what dared to steal his face.

Her head snapped up and her blue eyes blazing in fury at the being looking down at her with Sam’s sad eyes. It was strange looking at an expression she’d almost never seen on his face paired with the faint silver glow that shone just behind those hazel eyes.

“Don’t, you dare,” Jessica growled as she rose to her feet, “Don’t you dare come to me wearing his face like it belongs to you. Who are you?”

Sam’s face smiled at her, a full toothed smile that revealed two rows of perfectly pointed, perfectly white teeth. It made her shiver, not in fear, not in anger, up with an unease that came with knowing this wasn’t Sam looking at her. He just looked so sad, it was disturbing.

“Hmm, Chimera would work I suppose,” the thing wearing Sam’s face mused, “And I can’t really wear any other face, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.”

“Then, stow the teeth, asshole,” Jessica snapped and the thing laughed.

“I forgot how much fire you had in you,” Chimera mused as his teeth changed shaped, smoothing out into a more human appearance, “I need your help, Jessica Moore.”

“How could you want my help? I’m dead,” Jessica pointed out, the irritation in her voice coming through loud and clear.

“Five years ago you died and Sam went off with his brother because he didn’t have anything left here. He went with his brother and died two years later, blade through the spine,” Jessica took a step away from his words, “Dean made a devil’s bargain, his soul for Sam’s life. He was torn apart by hellhounds a year later and dragged to Hell, four months after that he came back.”

“How?!” Jessica asked because Hell sounded pretty permanent from what she’d read of it.

“The angels lay siege to Hell for as he breaks so shall it break and once the righteous man sheds blood in Hell the apocalypse begins,” the creature in front of her said calmly.

“Excuse me,” Jessica gasped past her shock, “I could have sworn you just implied that the apocalypse was already under way. How am I supposed to help with that?”

“Not anymore but it will be if I can’t fix it. I need you to keep Sam sane while I deal with the angels,” he said.

“What?” she asked, blinking rapidly at that comment.

“There’s a demon named Ruby who promised Sam strength, power, the ability to kill the demon in charge of Dean’s contract. And she did so, by feeding him demon blood.”

“That… doesn’t sound healthy.”

“No, it’s not. It’s an addictive substance actually. Tell me, do you know who Azazel is?” Chimera asked and cocked his head to the side.

“Azazel?” Jessica asked, the name sounded vaguely familiar, “Isn’t he one of the Fallen? His name means god strengthens.”

“Yes, it does and when Sam was six months old Azazel fed him a few drops of his blood. That’s the only reason Sam survived the first few doses of demon blood. But angel blood is angel blood no matter how badly it’s tainted and the demon blood warped that, twisted it until poor Sammy played right into Ruby’s hands and popped open the last lock to Lucifer’s Cage.”

“And the devil walked free,” Jessica whispered as her brain began to shake itself further out of the happy fog it had been sitting in.

Sam must have been so guilty about that, he must have beat himself up over it every single day. And this Ruby bitch had caused that, made Sam feel worthless and helpless and so alone that he’d turn to a demon for help. Jessica could not, would not allow that to happen.

“How do I help? You said he went down that path because Dean was dead, how long does it take for the angels to resurrect him?”

“Always so smart,” Chimera’s voice sounded almost wistful, “Four months, I’m hoping to cut it down to less than three. Time moves differently in Hell, every month was ten years and Dean broke in the thirtieth year.”

“Why not pull him out yourself?” Jessica asked.

“Ah, well, there a little angel who needs that connection and I would not dream of taking that chance from him,” Chimera hummed.

“So you’re playing matchmaker. How do I help with Sam?” Jessica asked.

“There is the difficult question. You’ll need to earn his trust, keep him away from Ruby, keep him anchored but Sam’s a hunter you see, if you just show up out of the blue he’ll think your a trick,” Chimera said.

“I can’t tell him who I am,” Jessica breathed.

Could she do that? Could she walk up to Sam and know him and not have him know her? Protect him and keep him sane and be so close but so far from him? Could she be with him but not with him all at once?

Jessica turned to gaze back at the couch where the illusion of Sam flickered against the cushions. He looked so peaceful, so happy, so relaxed but he wasn’t real. Sam was alive and she wasn’t and he was about to go through one of the worst days of his life. She had no doubt that Sam had been right next to Dean while he’d been torn up, that was just how Sam was.

So the question wasn’t really could she do this? It was could she afford not to? Could she live, exist with herself if she didn’t?

No. The answer was no. No, she wouldn’t do that and no she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t exist with herself knowing that she had let Sam do that to himself, that she had let Ruby do that to him.

She loved Sam, more than anything and she would do anything for him, even this, even though it was going to hurt like nothing else.

“Fine,” Jessica said, making up her mind and turning back to Chimera, “How do I come back? How do I keep Sam from Ruby?”

“Training, I’m going to train you to hunt, to kill, to survive in Sam’s world,” Chimera said, “I’m going to turn you into a Winchester, a boogey man of the supernatural world. Take that fire and hold it close, teach you to bend natural magic to your will. And then I’m going to let you go to Sam and let you hunt with him. Kill Ruby if you can but don’t ever leave her alone with Sam.”

“And I’ll have to hide my face,” Jessica noted, “my mask had better be a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship. And I’ve always wanted red hair, Sam’s only ever seen me as a blonde, that should throw him off the scent.”

Chimera blinked, a look of not quite shock passing across his face and leaving in a bare second of emotion. Like he wasn’t surprised but he was surprised that he wasn’t surprised.

“All in then?” he asked with a sad smile on his face.

“All in,” Jessica said, spine straightening until she can feel the muscles in her back unclench for the first time in a while.

Chimera’s mouth twitched up at the corner and then his head snapped around to look at something over his shoulder, “Good because we need to leave now.”

And Jess could suddenly feel it, something angry off in the distance. Something frustrated and powerful and oppressively sure of itself. She frowned in mild confusion as Chimera reached out towards her with one hand, one claw tipped hand.

Jessica’s eyebrow went up making the being in front of her chuckle before his claws melted back into normal human fingernails. Fingernails that were jet black for some reason, which made her roll her eyes as she placed her palm in his.

“You’re doing that on purpose,” Jessica said as she examined his hand.

“Oh?” Chimera asked, sounding incredibly amused.

Jessica narrowed her eyes at him as the world bent around them. It was nauseating but Jessica was a medical student, if she hadn’t had a strong stomach she wouldn’t have made it as far as she had. She stayed upright while her body tried to turn itself inside out, eyes never wavering from Chimera’s own eyes. She heard what sounded like a frustrated scream and then they were suddenly in a sunny backyard, standing next to a low porch.

“You’re trying to spook me,” she said, deliberately enunciating every single word in an attempt to keep herself from wavering, “Why?”

“Not everything is as it seems, Jessica Moore, I’m just trying to get you used to the supernatural,” he told her and her eyes narrowed even further.

There was a lie in there somewhere, or at least not the full truth. She opened her mouth but before she could voice her immediate reaction of “bull shit” the brunette being in front of her turned and trotted up the porch steps. She watched him walk across the oak planks to a low table with a pot sat in the center. There were three golden flowers in the pot with silver stems and he touched them with such reverence that it made Jess feel vaguely like a voyeur.

“So, am I alive again or am I standing here all incorporeal like a ghost?” Jess asked after Chimera had drawn his hand away from the flowers.

“Oh no, you have a body now, the same face, different hair though. You said you wanted red after all and this is more efficient than dye,” the being said eyes turning cat gold and pupils slitting like a snakes.

He moved towards the house and opened the sliding door without even touching it before moving inside. Jessica followed him inside, legs trembling slightly, weak as a newborn colts but she fought through the muscle strain. It was annoying but better than the weird floaty feeling that had occupied her limbs while she was in Heaven. Idly she reached up to pull forward a lock of hair, still drawn into a low ponytail at the base of her skull.

It was red, not copper or strawberry blonde but blood red, like spilled wine on white sheets. It surprised her for a second and then she grinned in simple, sweet happiness. Because Chimera had done nothing but try to push her away from him and protect her from himself, drive her to anger and rage, try to get her to hurt him.

But he’d still given her red hair, the exact shade of red that she’d always wanted, that she could never get from a bottle. Her hair had never been able to hold dye and she felt something click into place, she wasn’t quite sure what but it felt vaguely like a puzzle piece slipping into an incomplete picture.

Jess hummed and tossed the lock back over her shoulder. She followed Chimera into the homely kitchen that lay behind the sliding glass door. He was cooking something that smelled utterly delicious, all savory meaty goodness and sharp salty tang.

Seeing Sam, or at least something that looked like Sam, cooking made her smile, Sam didn’t cook often. He’d said he’d never really learned to do more than boil water and microwave leftovers because Dean was the one who did all the cooking while they were kids but what he did now how to make was amazing.

From the look of the pan she was going to guess bacon and sausage and there was a bowl of pancake batter on the table rich with pomegranate seeds. He’s making breakfast and she knew he shouldn’t know that she liked pomegranate seed pancakes. Another piece clicked into place but Chimera was a powerful supernatural creature, he could have just plucked the information out of her head like he’d plucked her out of heaven.

Jessica decided to ignore the picture slowly forming in her mind for the moment because she was hungry and someone who looked like Sam was cooking and it really didn’t matter. Actually it did but she didn’t particularly like the implications of the picture her mind was putting together.

And as she shoves it away she can feel more and more pieces clicking into place until the picture was just out of sight.

Chapter Six: Training

Jessica has exactly one day to get used to being alive again, to get used to weaker muscles and new bones, to sleep and eat and make her body strong again. She sleeps a bit, more than she normally would and explored the house. There was a library on the second floor she had lost herself in for a few hours before her bladder abruptly informed her that it was awake and wanted her attention.

As soon as she left the bathroom Chimera had been there wearing a set of jogging clothes and another set in hand. Jessica would bet that they were in her size and a feeling of dread began to pool in the pit of her stomach.

“Oh, please God no,” Jessica moaned, she’d never been much of an exercise freak, not like Sam had been for freshman year and the first half of sophomore year and her muscles still hurt when she walked too far.

“Wrong celestial being,” Chimera said with a small secretive smile that pisses Jess off, not only because of the smugness but also because of the two fangs protruding from where his canines should be.

Her eyes narrowed and she snatched the clothes out of Chimera’s hands. She stomped back into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. The clothes fit her perfectly, damn him for that.

And then she noticed the tramp stamp in the mirror and tried not to scream in furry.

“Why do we have to do this so soon?” Jessica asked as she left the bathroom for the second time in the white shorts and black tank top, “And what the everloving hell is with the body art?!”

“Anti-possession tattoo,” Chimera drawled and herded her down the hall towards an open door where Jessica could see the silvery sheen of mirrors, “and you know the answer to that first question.”

“I’m going to hate you, aren’t I?” Jessica asked as she passed through the door and took in what looked like a combination dance studio and fighting gym.

There was a punching bag and mats on one side of the room and a ballet bar running along the wall on the other side of the room. The floor was a smooth black hardwood that was polished so well that it was like a mirror, Jess could almost see her face in the finish.

Chimera had an incredibly sad look on his face as he smiled at her through the mirrors’ glass, “Yeah, you probably will, won’t you?”

Click.

Well, shit. Jessica narrowed her eyes at Chimera in the mirror, at Sam. Her beautiful, intelligent, caring Sam that was trying so hard to make her hate him. Or at the very least dislike him. What had happened to him? What had turned him into this?

Desperation, it had to be. She’d never really seen Sam truly desperate but she’d seen glimpses of it that one time a former girlfriend had been assaulted on campus. It was scary, he got cold and hard and vicious in a way that most people would never even guess he was capable of. There was a predator under all that floppy puppy hair and a behind those big hazel eyes.

A monster that once awakened would not rest until the threat to its family was dealt with. She’d seen it stir before and it had made her feel safe when she’d seen it. The girlfriend, a sweet, spunky art major who painted scenes that tended towards dark on her good days, couldn’t deal with the beast that lay under Sam’s skin. They’d stayed friends though and she ended up marrying a nice theater student who made Sam squint for a few minutes before he’d gotten a seal of approval.

Jess was slightly unnerved by the fully realized image of Sam’s feral side but the fact that this was Sam and not just something wearing his face made her relax almost instantly. Not visibly, she wasn’t an idiot. Sam obviously didn’t want her to know who he was or he would have mentioned it by now and he was setting her up to go rescue his past self.

That meant that the Sam she was going to rescue still loved her and this one didn’t or this Sam didn’t think she’d be able to cope with his new nature. And then there were the flowers. Who were those for? Who had given them to him or who was he giving them to?

The look on Sam’s face had been far too intimate for that person to be less than family or a lover. The only two people left in Sam’s family were Dean and his father and you didn’t get flowers, living flowers for men you were related to, especially those two men. They had to be hunters too and normal hunters were such shining examples of healthy masculinity.

So, this Sam was in love with someone else but past Sam might not be. Jessica wanted to sigh in irritation but just as she was about to open her mouth Sam’s, no Chimera’s teeth shifted again, back to the freaky shark teeth, and she felt her eyebrow twitch.

She was going to have to shift her mind away from thinking of Chimera as Sam or she was going to end up fucking up the name. Because this wasn’t her Sam anymore and she had a feeling he never would be again. He still loved her, that much was obvious but she had a feeling he wasn’t in love with her anymore and there was another version of Sam waiting for her in the past. That Sam was the one that was important, the one she’d need to focus on if she was going to survive this.

Chimera had someone else waiting for him in the past and she could deal with that, it was enough to know that he was alive and relatively healthy. But why the wings? Why all the strange power that Jessica was sure he hadn’t had before?

“Alright,” Chimera said as they got to the middle of the dance side of the room, “We’re going to start with stretches, move into muscular fitness, go for a jog, then work on your flexibility. After lunch we’re going to move onto the more mental stuff. Signs to look for when hunting, strengths and weaknesses, stuff like that. In a few weeks we’ll be moving onto tracking, fighting, and stealth.”

“I’m going to regret my entire life in a bit aren’t I?” Jessica asked.

Chimera grinned at her with those shark’s teeth and she felt her heart sink.

A full hour of push-ups, crunches, squats, burpees, planks, leg lifts, v-sits, pyramid push ups, and vertical sit-ups – which Jess hadn’t even known were thing DEAR GOD WHY? – Chimera nodded in approval and let her do her cool down stretches. Then, he gave her water and let her sprawl on the ground for a few minutes while he checked something on the clipboard he had with him.

“You did better than I thought you would,” he said, sounding vaguely pleased with himself.

Jessica couldn’t even muster the energy to glare at him, her neck just flopped to the side so that she could look at him, “I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or not. I think you fucked with my body, I couldn’t do most of that when I was a on the track team.”

“Just enough to wake up your muscles and keep them going,” Chimera said with a shrug, “that’ll be easing off as you start to get stronger so don’t use it as a crutch. Knowing your body’s limits is part of being a hunter.”

“But not part of being a Winchester?” Jess puffed out.

Chimera grinned at him, “No, part of being a Winchester is exceeding them, and coming back from the dead but you’ve already got that covered.”

“I hate you.”

“So soon? Now get up, we’ve got a jog to go on,” Chimera said.

The jog was at least bearable, Chimera didn’t push her past her limit and while it took Jess a bit to find that steady rhythm she’d managed to work her body into in high school she did find it and it felt a bit like coming home. It cleared her head of the last of the happy bliss of heaven and the beginnings of the tension buzz from the muscle routine.

The flexibility work out was not as peaceful. Chimera almost went as far as twisting her up into a pretzel, making her do things that she’d only seen some of the dance majors on campus even attempt much less pull off. It hurt, it was stressful, and it made Jessica want to scream in fury when she couldn’t make a certain stretch. The disappointed look on Chimera’s stupid face was awful, she felt like she was kicking a puppy the entire time.

“That could have gone better,” he commented when they were done, “We’re just going to have to work on it more than I thought.”

Jessica really did have the energy to glare at him this time and she did so. She didn’t think it could be all that impressive given the chuckle it caused but it made her feel better.

“What? No, magical stretchy help for my ligaments?” Jessica snapped at him.

“No,” Chimera said, “that would screw with your body too much. Your ligaments are too tight for me to do anything without it accidentally dislocating something. You were dead a day and a half ago if you’ll recall.”

“Can we just have lunch then?” Jessica asked with a huff, her stomach growling in emphasis.

Lunch was big, which was good because Jess was ravenous. She devoured what was on her plate and went back for seconds, not particularly caring that the meal held perhaps a bit too much meat for her normal tastes. It was all fantastic but that could just be her stomach talking. Then again it was Sam doing the cooking, the food would have been awesome even if she wasn’t gorging due to her stomach trying to eat itself.

Chimera watched her with soft eyes while he thought when wasn’t looking. Gone were the golden eyes and the hazel was back, the glow behind them stronger than before. He looked happy, or at least the very least content and that soothed something in Jessica’s mind.

“Done?” Chimera asked once Jessica had sprawled herself over the tabletop, feeling vaguely nauseous.

“Mmmm, food comma,” she said, sleepy warmth creeping up her limbs to coil around her brain.

“I think we can work an hour long nap into the schedule,” Chimera told her and waved her towards the couch.

The couch was awesome, soft and cushy and it smelled like Sam. She dropped off to sleep almost right away and fell into a darkness that she couldn’t have drag herself out of even if she’d tried.

She woke up warm with a blanket thrown over her shoulders and a velvety throw pillow under her head. She’s comfortable for all of ten seconds before her body decides now was the time to remind her that she’d just spent all morning doing more exercise than she was accustomed to.

Jessica whined and then sat up to look around. Chimera was sitting on the floor nearby with a notebook in his lap and a few books sprawled out around him in a fan pattern. His eyes moved rapidly over the pages as his hand made careful notes across the page of his notebook.

“Have a nice nap?” he asked and turned one of the pages in front of him, “You’ve only been asleep half an hour, in case you were curious.”

“Yeah, everything hurts but I feel better than I did this morning,” Jess said and it was true.

She’d woken up that morning feeling like death warmed over, which she was. It was probably a side effect of being alive again. Her entire being starting to really kick start itself in the night, sleep seeming to have reset her biorhythm. It had sucked and she’d ended up camping out in the bathroom, worshiping the porcelain throne for a good half hour.

“What’s our first lesson?” she asked after a second, cocked her head to one side and looked Chimera over with curious eyes.

“Women in white,” Chimera said and set his notebook down, “they’re a type of ghost.”

The lesson lasted about an hour and a half before Jessica had a somewhat basic grasp on the women in white concept and ghosts in general. Granted most of that time was Jessica asking questions that made Chimera twitch in irritation or fumble for answers that weren’t just ‘because that’s how it works’.

Finally, Chimera sighed and just picked up a book from his pile, it was smaller than the others, the size of a drug store paperback rather than an ancient tome of infinite wisdom. It had two very pretty men on the cover, one of whom was shirtless. Jessica squinted at it in dubious interest.

“Did you just hand me porn?” She asked and sat back to watch Chimera splutter in utter indignation.

It was hilarious, he made almost the exact same face when she’d asked him if he was a satanist. Granted she wouldn’t put either past him but at the time she’d been genuinely curious and right now she was just being a bitch. He could deal with a little embarrassment, she was dealing with stiff muscles that screamed at her about being overworked.

“No,” Chimera said after he’d composed himself, “that is a book written by a prophet, it’s about actual events that took place about four and a half years ago. It’s a series and the first one’s about a woman in white.”

Jessica shrugged and cracked the book open. Chimera went back to his reading and silence filled the room for a few minutes.

‘“Dad’s on a hunting trip and he hasn’t been home in a couple of days,” Dean said.’

“Oh, fuck me,” Jessica said as those words sank in.

Chimera looked up at her with sad eyes as she slowly shook apart on the couch. The book fell from her hands to hit the floor with a soft thump. Tears began to well up in her eyes, there was someone out there writing about Sam’s life and selling it for profit. People were reading about Sam’s pain, his life, her death for entertainment.

She felt her fists bunch in the blanket she had moved to her lap. She was furious, not mad, not angry but nail spitting, fire breathing furious in a way she had never been before. The first thing she was going to do when she met this Carver Edlund was deck him because prophet or no prophet no one got to do that to her or Sam.

“How many?” She hissed through clenched teeth.

“I don’t know, at least twenty, he was quite prolific,” Chimera commented.

Jessica took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “Give them to me.”

Chimera did.

~*****~

Two days later the flexibility training turned into dance lessons that were a lot like fighting. It came surprisingly naturally after the first few minutes and Jessica suspected more celestial interference.

“No, really, I don’t want to hurt you,” Jess bounced back and forth on the balls of her feet.

“You’re not going to be able to.”

Three days after that the morning workout turned into a more equal balance of cardio and aerobics that suited Jessica far more naturally than the beginning set up. And the afternoons got an extra class in magic training.

“This is boring.”

“Well, we could always do it the easy way.”

“Fuck off. I’m doing this right or not at all.”

They continued like that for a while, mornings full of exercise and afternoons with magic and books and knowledge Jessica had never known she needed. Days blurred together and Jessica was almost certain that they were living on something similar to a sixteen hour day rather than a twenty-four hour day. Every seventh day was a rest day, which Jess needed desperately and resulted in her reading the entirety of the Supernatural series, which went all the way up to Dean’s trip to hell and then stopped.

She was still indignant over Route 666 and Heart, those books were full frontal and it wasn’t even good full frontal at that. While she was glad Sam had found someone that liked him and wanted him she was guiltily glad the woman had turned out to be a werewolf. She didn’t didn’t think she would have been able to hold herself back from punching the other woman in the face.

“Seriously, has the man never heard of privacy.”

“He thought they were fake, Jess.”

Four or five cycles in, Jess had lost count at some point Chimera had pressed two silvery knives into her hands. Celestial Steel he’d called it, rare and capable of killing almost anything. A day after that he’d given her a gun and taught her how to shoot.

Crossbow, flamethrower, sword, gun, knives. She learned them all to perfection, Chimera not satisfied until she could use them all as well as any master.

Jessica built muscle, not body building weight but the lean muscle, dancer’s muscles. She could twist her body into a pretzel and contort herself to fit through spaces she’d have never thought of getting through before. Her mind was sharper too, a combination of the new knowledge she’d gained and the meditation that was necessary for learning magic the hard way.

One day after the twentieth, or was it twenty-fifth cycle, Chimera had called a halt to their spar while Jessica was recovering from a particularly inspired attack against Sam’s defenses and took her on a hunt.

It was a nest of vampires who had taken to capturing young girls and selling them off to the highest bidder, sans mortality. And when they were done and Jessica stood in the burning building surrounded by decapitated corpses Chimera had nodded.

“I think we’re almost ready.”

“Almost ready! Almost ready, fuck almost ready! That was the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on.”

“I… didn’t need to know that.”

Jess just grinned at him through bared teeth, eyes bright with barely contained glee.

Ghost, wendigo, god, siren. She killed them all in that next cycles, quick and efficient and clean, never sticking around long enough for the other angels to find them. Chimera had explained that last cycle, about the angels wanting the apocalypse and Michael’s grudge because of Lucifer’s death.

He hadn’t told Jess how Lucifer had died but the guilty glance at his wings meant she could guess. He’d learnt to hide them at that point but still left them out when they were at home.

After those hunts were done and Chimera was satisfied by her training they’d sat down in the middle of the living room and began to unbraid time, winding it back further and further until Jessica found herself standing on at an abandoned crossroad.

Chapter Seven: Sam

Sam was drunk, he knew that. His mind was foggy and his limbs were clumsy and it was hard to concentrate enough to dig up the hole. The moon was high in the sky but clouds had crept to cover it a few minutes ago. He could barely see past his hands but he didn’t care.

All he could hear was Dean’s screams, his only thought his brother’s name. Dean, Dean, Dean, the desperation climbing up his throat like frost on a window. He needed him back, he needed him here, he needed him alive. He didn’t care if Dean hated him for it, he’d at least be alive.

“You are aware that won’t work, right?” a smooth female voice asked from behind him and he turned, pulling the colt from the back of his jeans.

He stumbled and the cloud cover passed just enough for him to see the woman leaning against the impala. She was slim and on the tall side for a woman, almost six feet. Her hair was dark but Sam couldn’t make out the exact shade. She’s wearing jeans, combat boots, and a leather jacket tossed over a tight t-shirt.

“Cristo,” Sam slurred, trying to aim past the drunken haze, “get off Dean’s car.”

The woman sighed and housted herself away from the car before striding confidently over to him. And then he noticed the mask, it glowed in the moonlight, shining metal surface decorated with complex etched designs. A red gem sat heavy on one cheek, just below one eye and three feathers sprouted from the top, right over where her third eye would sit. It was a beautiful work of craftsmanship and it was now pressed against the barrel of the colt.

“You weren’t close enough to see my eyes change, Sam Winchester,” she drawled, blue eyes boring into him from behind the mask.

Sam could feel himself trembling under her gaze, “What, what are you?”

“A friend,” she said in a calm voice, calmer than Sam would be with a gun pressed to his forehead, “Now, I have a feeling you’ve been at this for a while. How many deals have you tried to strike? How many demons have told you no?”

“How?” Sam asked past the lump in his throat.

“You’re drunk, I could smell the booze from over there and it’s not hard to see the desperation in your eyes. Do you really think that your brother would want you to do this to yourself? Sell your soul for his? Even if the demons would let you deal for it, which they won’t, do you really think he would be happy knowing that his baby brother, the only person who has ever truly been his, was going to Hell for him?” the woman asked, eyes never wavering, never leaving him.

“What do you mean? Who are you?” Sam asked, wavering back and forth on the balls of his feet.

“My name is Horae and I mean Hell won’t deal a soul they already have in their grasp for one they returned for it, especially not one as powerful as your brother. If you dealt for something else, someone else they might take it but your more use to them up here. It’s been what, one week? Two?”

“Three,” Sam slurred and then repeated, “Cristo.”

The woman smiled at him but her eyes didn’t change and she didn’t flinch back from him like a demon would. He relaxed, if only slightly as Horae reached up to slowly push the gun away from her head. Sam let her do it and she kept her distance as the gun fell from his hand, numb fingers too weak to hold on to the grip any longer.

“Three weeks. Three days that’s how long it took Hell to go into lock down. No one gets in, not a soul gets out. You see, they’re preparing for siege, they have a Righteous Man in Hell and that will not be born,” Jessica murmured.

Sam opened his mouth to ask her something but stopped as he felt his stomach begin to rebel and bile began to climb up his throat. He turned and fell to his knees next to the hole he’d dug, retching in great, awful spasms that hurt as they wracked his body.

Horae sighed above him as he emptied the contents of his stomach into the hole, a mixture of rest stop food and alcohol. She crouched and lay a warm, small hand on his back. She rubbed slow circles into Sam’s spine and it helped, not much but it made him feel less alone. Her other arm went around his chest to support him seconds before he passed out.

When Sam awoke he had a splitting headache that felt like someone was trying to crush his brain between two great big metal slabs and he was lying on his side on a crappy motel mattress. Granted it was a better mattress than he was used to but it was still a motel mattress. He groaned and tried to open his eyes, the room he was in was dark except for one dim flashlight on the other bed, illuminating a small paperback and the red haired woman holding it.

“There’s water on the side table if you want it,” Horae commented softly, barely above a whisper, “I’d suggest drinking it, you’re incredibly dehydrated. And malnourished but we can deal with that later.”

Sam turned his head slightly, just that tiny movement forcing a sharp spike of pain to burrow up his brainstem. There was a cool glass of water on the nightstand next to him, his hand trembled as he reached for it. His mouth was dry, his throat was sticking to itself and his tongue was a heavy lump against his teeth.

He somehow managed to get himself up on one elbow and the glass to his lips, it banged against his teeth but he was careful to take small sips until the glass was empty. The water was blessedly cool against his parched throat. He carefully set the glass down on the table and toppled over onto the bed.

Horae let him stay like that for a few minutes, flipping pages every few minutes until she got to the end of the chapter she was reading. Then she carefully marked her spot and set the book aside.

“I suppose you have questions for me,” she said and flicked her flashlight off.

“You aren’t human, are you?” Sam asked.

“Not quite but I’m as human as anyone can get when they have a supernatural patron,” Horae told him, “but that’s not what you really want to know is it?”

“You said, last night you said Hell was preparing for a siege. What did you mean?”

“Your brother is a righteous man, the Righteous Man, actually. And Hell should have him, his soul is one of the most powerful in existence. Hell turning him into a demon would be like handing them a nuclear bomb, granted they’d realize they bit off more than they could chew a decades after they pulled him off the wrack but by then it would be too late. He’d be back up topside in under a year our time and given how attached he is to you, he’d probably be trying to turn you into the Boyking that Azazel tried to make you into,” Horae murmured and then shifted on the bed with a whisper of  fabric against the bed sheets.

“He’ll be back,” Sam breathed, as a demon but Sam didn’t care at this point all that mattered would be that Dean was back.

“Yes, but Heaven isn’t going to let Hell keep him,” the mysterious said.

“Heaven?” Sam asked and sat up, a horrible mistake.

Horae laughed to herself as Sam moaned under his breath and flopped back onto his bed, “Sat up too fast now did we?”

A moan was her only response as Sam curled further in on himself.

“And, yes, Heaven,” Horae confirmed, “the Righteous Man belongs to Heaven, he is the defender of humanity. Granted, most hunters would fit that description but most of them have blackened their soul one way or another. You and your brother are both pure and that kind of purity has power, especially since you two are the convergence of the lines of Cain and Abel. So Heaven, once they realize what is happening, will be laying siege to Hell to try and get him back.”

“How long will that take?” Sam asked as he stared at where he thought her face was, hope welling up in his chest.

“Hell’s time moves faster than ours, a decade for every month and Heaven hasn’t been paying all that much attention to Earth in the past couple of years,” she said delicately, picking her words with care, “It has been seven and a half years for your brother while it’s been three weeks for us. I do not know when Heaven will intervene but I know it will be soon but don’t worry if Heaven drops the ball my patron has promised to pull your brother out before the third decade is up.”

“Your patron? He’s a god? That’s the only thing I can think of that’s powerful enough to pull a soul from Hell,” Sam said.

“Hmm, that would be the closest being but Chimera isn’t anything like you’ve ever seen before. He’s… a bit of a frankenstein’s monster as it were. He has several aspects, some are tied to Hell, some to Earth. It’s all very confusing,” she said.

Silence rained for a few moments as Horae’s words sunk in to Sam’s mind. Chimera, a creature they’d never encountered before with ties to Hell but not a demon, operating like a pagan but wasn’t one. He was too hungover for this and his stomach took that moment to make itself known.

Horae laughed, a low pitched barking sound that made Sam relax involuntarily. He hadn’t heard anyone laugh like that in a while, most women were too focused on making themselves sound sweet and delicate to really laugh.

“Hungry? Do you feel up to going somewhere to eat?” She asked.

“I think so,” Sam told her as he sat up, much slower this time as his headache started to fade away.

“Alright then,” Horae said and ten minutes later they’re sitting in a tiny dinner with early morning sunshine beginning to shine in through the window.

Horae had produced a pair of sunglasses from somewhere and Sam had decided not to ask. He’d just shoved them onto his face with a grumble before climbing into the impala. This was the first time he’d gotten a real look at the masked woman’s hair, it wasn’t the brownish auburn he’d thought it was while in the motel room. Instead it was a deep blood red that Sam knew wasn’t natural.

He had splurged and ordered a frankly daunting amount of meat and Horae had ordered pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. They sat in silence until the food came and Sam watches in amazement as she moans around her first bite of pancake.

She gives him a nasty look from behind her mask, “Shut up, it’s been weeks since I’ve had pancakes.”

“Weeks?” Sam asked and shover a piece of sausage into his mouth.

“Chimera did the cooking and he was on a health food kick, mostly because I just went through hunter bootcamp, or his version of it anyway,” she told him.

Sam opened his mouth to ask about that but there was a beeping sound from under the table and Horae made a noise that seemed to want him to wait. He stayed quiet as she pulled out a slim black smart phone and turned it on.

“So, the reason I am here is to keep you alive and healthy until your brother gets pulled out of the hot box, be that by Heaven or Chimera. I honestly hope it’s Heaven that does it, Chimera’s never been Heaven’s biggest fan and if they fail he isn’t going to be happy about it,” She said as she read the text and slipped the phone back into her pocket.

Sam took another bit of his breakfast, chewing consideringly. He was trying to figure out what to do with that statement, questions spinning out in its wake. He picks what he thinks might be the easiest one.

“Why would you have to be here to keep me alive and healthy?” he asked and continues eating.

“Well, for one when I got to you you were pretty determined to drink yourself to death,” Horae scolded, “and for another there’s a demon circling you like you’re a prime piece of steak. Granted, I’m not all that surprised, it wouldn’t take much to turn you into their Boyking at this point, a few drops of blood in your coffee and a promise of the ability to save Dean… yeah, I think we can both figure out how well that would have turned out.”

Sam winced slightly because, yeah he could, it would have ended with him tearing apart Hell and building it back up. He would have pulled Dean off the wrack, turned himself and his brother into the de facto rulers of Hell to keep him safe. He would have gone on a rampage, killed every single demon who’d ever even touched his brother until the only one left was Lilith.

“Why doesn’t Chimera like Heaven?” he asked, trying to change the subject.

Horae set down her fork and chewed thoughtfully before swallowing, “Well, it has to do with the demons and how they’re handling the souls up in Heaven. Also fate’s wrapped up in that somehow, he never really explained that. But suffice it to say, he’s quite pissed that they let the Apocalypse get this close to occuring.”

“The Apocalypse?” Sam hissed across the table.

“And as he breaks so shall it break,” Horae said, “the Righteous Man must shed blood in Hell to break the first seal, which kickstarts the Apocalypse. It also starts the process of opening Lucifer’s Cage and Chimera’s pretty sure he’s at least mildly insane by now.”

“The Devil? We’re talking about the Devil now aren’t we?” he asked.

“Yes, though he’s an angel, not a demon. First of the Fallen, last too, they’re all dead now. Which is probably part of the reason that Lucifer is insane,” she muzzed, “I wonder if Chimera has a backup plan for that.”

“Back up plan,” Sam says dubiously.

“Mmm, I don’t think anyone will be happy if someone figures out how to pop the Cage open without breaking the seals. Demons especially,” Horae pursed her lips at him and dug into the rest of her breakfast.

Once they were done Horae waved a waitress down and paid the check to Sam’s protests. She just looked at him from behind her mask, a deadpan stare that quelled his protests almost instantly. He didn’t have money on him, she knew he didn’t have money on him, he’d been planning on hustling pool tonight to get the money he needed for his next hop to a different crossroads. But Horae just pulled out a slim black credit card that gleamed in the early morning light.

Horae’s phone beeped again as they climbed back into the impala. She pulled it out, “There’s a hunt a few towns over, looks like ghouls, if you’re interesting and, oh! That was fast.”

“What?” Sam asked, back going abruptly rigid as a grin spread across Horae’s face.

“Looks like Heaven finally decided to get involved,” she told him, “Chimera says it’ll take a couple of days but this hunt should kill some time.”

“What?” Sam breathed again, disbelief clear in his voice as he stared at the phone in her hand.

Horae turned her head to look at him with those piercing blue eyes, “Samuel Winchester, your brother is about to be raised from Hell by the forces of Heaven. The Righteous Man will be saved, even if Chimera has to drag an angel down to his wrack to get him free.”

Sam felt his lips quiver and a sob punched its way out of his chest as tears of shear relief began to trail their way down his face.

Chapter Eight: Hell

Chimera had decided that Hell was a lost cause about ten minutes after he’d arrived, following the Hounds down with great beats of his hellfire wings. He’d bunched the other two sets up, pulled them in until they sat curled tightly around his soul like a shield. He’d worn a half mask, completely blank and made of pure black porcelain.

He’d been careful to stay out of the way for the first few weeks to get a firm grasp on Hell’s political climate. Shocker, there wasn’t one really, it was just a nest  of chaos and violence and sin.

Demons were dumb, incredibly dumb, a fact exemplified by the fact that none of them had really noticed when the Hounds had started bringing souls to Chimera first, before going to the wracks. He’d panicked the first few times before he realized that they were bringing him souls to judge their worth. It was weird, really fucking weird but he dealt with it.

Crowley was the only one that had noticed and had immediately proved himself the smartest of the lot by taking one look at Chimera before turning around to leave. He’d then left the perceived Fallen alone for a day before returning with a gift basket and a promise to not notify the rest of hell of his presence.

The next day Chimera had decided that it would probably be easier to reveal himself instead of attempting to hid himself from the entirety of Hell. It had worked so far but he was going to have a difficult time once other demons started investigated the Hell Hound situation. Crowley may have been smart but Chimera had a feeling that the other demons might either try to kill him or start worshipping him.

So, he decided that if he was going to be staying in Hell for the foreseeable future he might as well make the most of it. He was going to make the demons’ lives so difficult, except for Crowley who had immediately bowed out of the situation with extreme prejudice.

It was glorious, he’d burst out of his hiding place with hellfire trailing around him and flew to the highest point of Hell. He’d shot up like a bolt and then spread them side as he hit the apex of his flight. There was an explosion of power that rocked the very foundations of the realm and Chimera had screamed.

Everything had stopped as the cry of a Fallen Angel rang across the burning plains, the first true Fallen in over several millennia. Most demons thought that the Fallen were a myth, a children’s story meant to keep them on the chaotic straight and narrow but here was proof that they existed. The souls on the wrack had no clue what was going on but they all breathed a collective sigh of relief as they got a brief reprieve.

Then, Chimera let himself fall backwards, looping in air until his head was pointing towards the ground and dove, wings folded neatly against his spine.

The rest of that year was a bit of a blur, demons who came to curry favor torn to shreds, the blackest souls of humanity dropped from on high, innocent souls plucked up and clutched close to his grace until he could find a reaper to hand them off to. Hell learned to fear the blank mask of the Final Fallen, all except for the crossroads demons and the Hounds.

Crowley had bargained for the lives of his people, offering secrets Chimera had never even known he had. Chimera would have left most of them alone anyways, rarely did an innocent make a devil’s bargain and the Apocalypse had put several things into perspective. But Chimera couldn’t get the story of Bela Talbot out of his head, so young when she made her deal.

The deal had turned out well all things considered, no children, no true innocents. Hunters were fair game, Chimera had thought about asking for a taboo against them as well but after seeing the state of the hunter souls that were already in Hell he’d thought better of it.

When the first year was done the angels weren’t there yet so Chimera laughed and dove down, down, down until he reached his brother’s rack. He appeared like a thunderstorm, scattering demons left and right as they all tried to get out of his path.

Dean was alone in a large amphitheatre with Alistair at the center. The head torturer took one look at Chimera and his hellfire wings and fled. He was one of the few still old enough to remember the former Fallen in all their glory, before they all died or fell into humanity.

Chimera climbed onto Dean’s wrack and sat next to him, hand trailing up and over the soul’s wounds, very carefully knitting him back together and fortifying his will. Chimera grinned at him, revealing rows upon rows of needle like teeth.

“Hello, Righteous Man,” he purred.

“Go to Hell,” Dean spat at him and Chimera laughed down at him.

“We’re already here, didn’t you know?”

“Yeah, I kind of guessed that, what with the hellfire and torture and the fact that I was dragged down by Hellhounds!”

“Oh, you are adorable, aren’t you?” Chimera asked and rolled over onto Dean’s chest.

A claw slid out of the tip of his finger and he began gently carving protective sigils into Dean’s chest. To anyone else they’d look like random squiggles, anyone but an angel that was and the angels weren’t here yet. These sigils were older than time itself and hadn’t been used in almost as long.

“Now, I’m going to tell you a few things that you’re probably not going to like,” Chimera said as Dean gritted his teeth through the incredibly minor pain.

“What? That I’m worthless? That I deserve this shit? That Sammy hates me? That-”

“No,” Chimera said, carefully watching as Dean’s soul dimmed slightly, “none of that now, it’s only been a couple of days topside and your Sammy loves you desperately. They’re going to try to break you, your father lasted a hundred years before he broke out, I doubt you’ll last so long but you don’t have to. All you need to do is say no. Say no when he asks you to step off the rack.”

“What? Don’t you want me to break?” Dean asked, face relaxing as the sigils on his chest began to ease his pain.

“No, I don’t. I like Earth, I like humanity and the pleasures it brings. So many things to play with, so many things to do. If they all die all there’ll be is demons and angels. Angels are boring and demons are dull,” Chimera whined.

“What are you talking about?” Dean snapped, a gradual realization appearing in his eyes.

Dean had always been far more intelligent than he let people see. Mechanics and puzzles, he was good at both. But where he really shone was when he had to come up with solutions to problems that didn’t even glance at the box to begin with.

“Click, click, click. It’s all falling into place,” Chimera whispered into his ear, “Don’t shed blood or the apocalypse begins.”

“What?” Dean breathed in horror.

“I’m going to do something and I need you to scream for me, as loudly as you do for Alistair,” Chimera murmured and plunged claws into Dean’s soul.

Or, rather made it look like he had. The scream Dean let out was very believable, vivid and so full of pain that it almost made Chimera cringe. Instead he let out a joy filled laugh as he let warmth pool in his hand and dragged it down Dean’s sternum, healing the marks his claws had left.

If any demon was watching it would look like the Fallen had just torn Dean’s chest wide open. Illusions were easy once you figured out how to make them and demons were expecting him to do something similar.

Chimera sighed and lay back down. Crossing his arms on Dean’s chest and laying his head along them. Seeing Dean again after so long was good, even if they were in Hell and Dean was technically dead was something Chimera could enjoy.

“Why are you helping me?’ Dean asked.

“I told you, I don’t want you breaking because as you break so shall it break and I can’t let that happen now can I?” Chimera answered, carefully rubbing his hand across the scar that was now writ large across Dean’s soul. “And don’t worry about Sammy, I have a friend up topside making sure he’ll be healthy when you get broken out. I need you to scream again.”

“Broken out?’ Dean exclaimed and then let out another blood curdling scream.

“Yes, Heaven can’t let its Righteous Man rot in Hell now can it. Your soul would become one of the most powerful demons this world has ever seen,” Chimera said.

It went on like that for seven years, Chimera playing avenging Fallen and judge of souls in the upper layers of Hell, slowly working his way down. Once every year he went to Dean’s wrack to renew the sigils on his chest and tell him of some of the events happening topside. He never mentioned how Sam’s health was failing, better Dean think Sam was struggling forward but still moving forward.

Then one the eighth year, while Chimera was telling Dean about the breakfast Sam and Jess – Horae, that was the name she picked, he needed to remember that – had had together the angels came. It was sudden and startling, a burst of grace shook Hell and light poured from a split in the dark storm clouds in the sky.

“Ah,” Chimera said, “there they are.”

“What are they?” Dean asked.

“Angels,” Chimera told him and slowly pulled himself away from Dean, “I’m going to be back. I’m going to go fuck with them.”

“Alright, see you in a year,” Dean said, he’d warmed up to Chimera after year three once he realized Chimera being there meant no torture and learning new things about Sammy for a day.

“I’m going to pull one down here to get you,” Chimera told him, “it might take a bit.”

“How long is a bit?” Dean asked.

“A few years, I need to find the right one. Just don’t draw blood, don’t break under the knife,” Chimera said.

“Got it, Fallen,” Dean said, he’d never learned Chimera’s name, never asked and Chimera had never told him. He’d just started calling him what he’d heard the demons call him.

“See you in a few years,” Chimera nodded and flapped his wings.

He took a back route towards the front line, sneaking into the cliffs around the top of the bowl that was Hell. He watched the angels for a while, watched their movements, watched how they fought. He watched the more powerful hold back, faces twisted in disgust, watched the lower ranking angels fight against wave after wave of demons. They weren’t dying, demons couldn’t kill angels but they were getting injured. They were getting tired.

One wave of angels would come and fight and then pull back as they got tired, to recoup. Chimera couldn’t recognize most of them, which meant they were young, so young that Lucifer had already be locked in the Cage when they were created. That part of him, the grace that had integrated so well with his soul that he couldn’t even tell the difference any more, had climbed into the back of his brain and was screaming in fury.

Fledglings, they were sending fledglings into Hell. Fledglings that had never experienced something like this before, who were experiencing war for the first time. Or, fledglings who were built for war, like Cas, the ones Heaven considered cannon fodder.

Chimera took a deep breathe and fought past the blinding fury that he had gotten a lot better at looking past since he’d resurrected Jessica. She’d put a lot into perspective when she’d come back from the dead. He looks past the fledglings desperately throwing themselves against the demons boiling up from the depths of Hell at the higher ranking angels.

They weren’t all that high ranking actually, all middle management types of Zachariah’s rank at the highest. He scanned them carefully, searching, searching until he found who he was looking for.

Zachariah, the douchebag was hanging around near the very back of the angels’ lines, near the rift in Hell’s sky. It was a time for a little intervention, Chimera was not going to tolerate Zachariah letting fledglings fight while he held back and sneered at their efforts.

Chimera snuck up the cliff further and further until he was behind the angels’ front line. It was surprisingly easy, the angels weren’t really paying attention to the cliffs, more focused on the fighting with the demons than their flanks. It helped that he kept his grace banked low, his Hellfire dim as he crawled along the cliff.

Once he was past the front line he flare his grace up, brought his Hellfire to full strength, and launched himself at Zachariah.

Fallen,” one of the angels gasped in shock and silence reigned for a handful of seconds.

Fallen!” the demons roared in joy, pushing the angels back towards the rift in a sudden surge that caught the Host off guard.

Fallen, Fallen, Fallen.” The word rang through the ranks of angels as Chimera blew past them, careful to stun but not injure. He could hear the panic in their voices, the pure terror that shook them to the core.

Most of them had never even seen a Fallen before and all of them had thought that they were all dead. Which would have been true if Chimera wasn’t time traveling. Chimera almost felt sorry for them.

One angel flew at him, black wings spread wide, blue and purple tinting the ends of his feathers, and blade swiping at the Fallen’s face. Chimera reached up and grabbed Castiel’s wrist, stopping the blade inches from his face. He spun and pushed Cas away from him carefully, trying not to hurt the angel. Dean would be so pissed off at him if he ended up hurting his mate.

Cas spun out and crashed into a knot of other angels. Chimera spun and redoubled his efforts to get to Zachariah. He got close enough to watch the angel’s six eyes go wide with horror before he even thought to turn to flee.

Chimera caught his drab brown wings in clawed hands and Zachariah screamed as he was ripped from the sky. The Fallen pulled him down, dragged him past the angels and the demons, down, down, down until Chimera spun and kicked Zachariah into the ground.

The angel crashed like a bag of bricks, a trembling, sniveling bag of bricks. Chimera scoffed as he landed with his foot planted in the center of Zachariah’s chest.

“Tsk, tsk,” Chimera said, shaking his head, “you’re supposed to be an angel. Where’s all that rage? All that power? All that fight? Maybe I should have grabbed one of the young ones? That black winged little one had some fire in him.”

Zachariah nodded vigorously, “Yes, yes, take him! Take him instead!

Chimera scoffed in disgust, “No, honor among angels I see.”

“No kidding,” Dean said from his wrack, “please tell me this isn’t the asshole that’s here to drag me out.”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t let this worm touch you even if he begged,” Chimera said, reached down, and tore Zachariah’s chest open, “How long has it been? I haven’t been keeping track.”

“Year and a half,” Dean drawled, “I was beginning to think you’d forgotten about me.”

“I’d never do that, I’ve got your savior all picked out and everything,” Chimera drawled as he reached into Zachariah’s grace and began to burn it out.

Zachariah didn’t stop screaming for a long, long time.

When the Fallen was done there was nothing left of Zachariah except for a few singed feathers. Dean stared at where the angel had been looking both horrified and vaguely impressed, granted he’d probably seen anyone but himself in that much pain before but oh well, Chimera had planned to play villain for this tablo anyway.

“Be back in a bit,” he said and took off again, shooting back up towards the angels as fast as possible.

Cas was on the front line this time, the Fallen could see him and he angled himself towards him. The black winged angel saw him almost instantly and cut down one of the demons trying to get past him.

“Rematch!” Chimera called out, flipping his wings at the angel playfully.

Cas roared in rage and dove for him. The demons parted before him like the sea, Chimera waving aside the few that tried to intercept him. The blade in Cas’s hand flashed, cutting down the few who didn’t get out of the way fast enough.

Chimera dodged that flashing blade, the tip barely skirting past his right wing on purpose. Cas looked murderous as he lunged for Chimera again, who dodged again, pulling back further before turning and diving.

Cas followed him, the rage blinding him to the fact that every dodge, every swirve, every dive drew him further and further into Hell. Deeper and deeper they went, slower than Chimera’s fall with Zachariah had been. Cas was an excellent flyer, there was an artistry and strength to it that most of the younger angels lacked. Either someone had taken the time to actually teach him how to fly or he’d figured out how to do it himself.

When Chimera finally landed it was on where Zachariah’s corpse had been, Alistair fleeing down further into Hell like the coward he was. The Fallen sighed in irritation as he watched the demon flee, he would probably have to go hunting the torturer after this was done.

“You good?” he asked Dean as he watched Cas dive towards him.

“Well my intestines are all over the floor and I watched you burn out an angel six months ago but other than that I’m good,” Dean said, voice dripping with sarcasm.

Chimera lept back and over Dean as Cas came down on the spot where he’d been standing seconds before. The Fallen watched as the angel stood from the crouch he’d landed in and do a double take when his eyes landed on Dean.

What?” he asked in disbelief.

“Gorgeous isn’t he, Heaven’s Righteous Man,” Chimera said and traced over one of the sigils embedded in Dean’s soul, “I couldn’t let them ruin him. So bright, so close to a taste of heaven after so long. Of course I couldn’t figure out how change him. He’s close enough to an angel I think but when I tried to transplant that unworthy angel’s grace he burned up.”

Cas’s faces contorted in disgust as he held his blade out in front of him defensively. Chimera almost laughed as Dean writhed under his hand, innards slowly pulling themselves back into his abdomen and skin knitting itself back together.

You will not corrupt the Righteous Man, I will not let you,” Cas pronounced with a finality that forced a laugh out of the Fallen.

“Oh, you won’t now will you,” Chimera said with a smirk, “you’ve got fire in you, little one, far more than that bit of filth I grabbed before. I should have used you from the start.”

And then he lunged, slowing his movements as he saw Cas’s blade come up, just enough, just barely enough. He screamed when Cas’s blade struck his side, cutting through him like a hot knife through ice.

It was agony, pure pain that he hadn’t felt for almost a decade, not since Horae had landed her first few hits on him. And he did what any sensible Fallen would have done when they were severely injured, he fled.

Down, down, down, deeper and deeper into Hell, further than he’d ever gone before. He really hoped Cas didn’t follow him, Dean needed out of Hell and fast. He might not have broken but Dean was pissed off enough to take a swipe at Alistair by now.

When he stopped he was next to an iron structure with carefully etched Enochian sigils covering every inch. It felt familiar, friendly, home.

Chimera drew closer almost involuntarily and put a hand on the structure, eyes going wide as he realized what it was, why it felt so familiar. He could sense loneliness and grief and confusion.

Hello?” Lucifer breathed from the interior of the Cage and Chimera let out a long, shaking breath.

“Hello,” he said, “Archangel Lucifer… Brother.”

Chapter Nine: Lazarus Rising

Dean’s head broke the surface of the dirt with a great heave and he breathed in fresh air for the first time in over a decade. He was hot, thirst, hungry, and horribly, irrationally exhausted. He pulled himself out of his own grave and lay in the grass for a few brief moments.

Sam had buried him instead of burning him and he didn’t know whether to be pissed off or greatful. Fallen had mentioned something about it taking longer if his body wasn’t intact during the fourth time he’d visited.

Dean stumbled to his feet and gazed around, there was a ring of flattened trees around his grave, probably marking where the angel had touched down. Dean hadn’t caught his name during the escape from Hell but he remembered the feeling of being enveloped in something warm and safe and loving. It was slightly disconcerting, Fallen was safe, Fallen talked about Sammy and stole the pain away, let him sleep but Fallen burned hot, almost too hot to touch.

The angel hadn’t burned hot, just bright, almost blinding in his glory. Beautiful and precious and Dean shook that off like it was made of Hellfire. No, he would not think of an angel like that, it would end badly for all involved.

Dean looked around and found a road. It looked deserted so he started walking down it, legs weak but getting stronger with every step. He could see a tiny convenience story a little ways down the road and he made for it like it was an oasis in the desert.

It was closed, thank God because he didn’t want to have to explain the grave dirt covering him from head to toe. He got in easily enough and made a beeline for the fridge and the bottled water lined up inside it. He downed one in huge, desperate gulps.

The water slid down his throat, soothing the parched skin and wetting his tongue. He stomach growled in fury and tried to rebel against the water, it didn’t want water, it wanted food.

Dean screwed the cap back on the water and turned to start raiding the power bars. Those would at least be easier on his stomach than the array of sweets and he didn’t think he had enough jaw strength right now to try to eat the jerky by the cash register.

There was the sound of an engine coming down the road and Dean froze for a few seconds. It took a moment before he recognized the sound of the engine and his shoulder twinged.

He frowned and walked over to a mirror and pulled his shirt up to look at his stomach. Nothing but smooth skin which was good, he’d expected some damage, maybe scars but Sam didn’t need the reminder of his death. But there was something else, something higher up.

The car’s engine cut off and one of the doors opened as Dean pulled his shirt up higher. He recognized Fallen’s marks instantly.

He wasn’t all that surprised no matter what Alistair had done to him they’d stayed branded into his skin, into his soul. Dean doubted the angel would have been able to do anything about it or know to do anything about it, it’d never seen his soul before Chimera had dragged it down to Dean’s wrack.

“Sam, you want anything?” a woman’s voice called as someone walked up the steps.

Dean pulled his left sleeve up and stared at the bright red handprint on his shoulder. What the fuck? The angel had marked him. What the everloving Hell?!

“Get me a granola bar if they have those peanut butter ones,” Sam’s voice called and Dean froze.

Sam. Sam was here, Sam was alive.

He whipped around to see a masked woman step into the store and scan the shelves before her grey blue eyes landed on him. Her hair was blood red and her mask was made of some silvery metal Dean didn’t recognize the look off. She smiled at him for a second, a small satisfied grin that made her eyes light up.

“Oh, Sammy, I think you should get in here, I’ve got a surprise for you,” she called over her shoulder and stepped inside, “It’s good to see you alive, your brother is a self sacrificing idiot.”

That startled a laugh out of Dean and he rolled his sleeve down, “I take it you’re the associate Fallen mentioned.”

“His name’s Chimera,” the woman said and bowed low, “Horae at your service, Righteous Man.”

“Dean!” Sam exclaimed from where he’d just appeared in the doorway.

Joy spread across his face before apprehension replaced it and he glanced at Horae. She rolled her eyes and nodded. Sam’s face split into that wide dopey smile Dean hadn’t seen for years now and he bounded forward like a giant puppy to catch Dean up in a bear hug.

It was desperate and firm and warm and human. Dean felt a sob clambering up his throat and he buried his face in Sam’s shoulder. He was too dehydrated to cry but his body was putting up a valiant effort to try. He had his baby brother in his arms again, Sam was alive and he hadn’t sold his soul.

“Sammy, Sammy, Sammy,” Dean whispered into Sam’s shirt in an attempt to muffle himself.

“Dean. Dean, you’re alive I can’t believe,” Sam stopped and sniffed, “Did Chimera pull you out or-”

“Angel,” Horae commented from a few feet away, “left his signature and everything. We’ll be able to summon him if you can get a psychic to figure out his name.”

“We need to get to Bobby’s. He shou-”

DEAN WINCHESTER IS SAVED!” A voice boomed and all three humans shouted in alarm as the windows burst from the sheer volume of the pronouncement.

“I CAN HEAR YOU GOD DAMN IT! TURN IT DOWN!” Dean roared.

“WHO IS THAT?!” Sam asked.

“GET A VESSEL BEFORE YOU TRY TO TALK TO HUMANS FOR GOD’S SAKE!” Horae screamed at the top of her lungs, hands clapped over her ears.

The voice abruptly stopped and all three breathed a sigh of relief. They looked at eachother, Sam still clinging to Dean, unwilling to let him go yet. Then a realization past across Dean’s face and horror overtook shock.

“Baby!” he cried and scrambled out of Sam’s hold to run out the front door so he could get a good look at the impala.

Thankfully her windows were still intact and Dean breathed a sigh of relief as he made his way down the steps to her. She was sleek and shiny and gleamed in the sun. she looked good and Dean popped her hood to get a good look at her engine. It looked better than ever and there was a tiny sigil carved into the top of the engine block.

“That’s a protection sigil, keeps her from getting damaged by anything supernatural. There’s one on the inside of the gas cover, to keep the tank filled up,” Horae said from where she was leaning against the doorway of the store, “we haven’t had to stop for gas since I put it there.”

“What was that?” Dena asked and shut the impala’s hood, stroking along the shiny black paint. He honestly didn’t know wether to feel thankful or indignant on behalf of his car so was just going to ignore the sigils for now, “It sounded like a bomb going off.”

“Angel,” Horae said, “their true voices can be a bit overwhelming. Sammy’s raiding the store for food and water. Could you here what he was saying?”

“‘Dean Winchester is saved’, I’m guessing he’s the schmuck that pulled me out,” Dean said and walked around to the drivers side.

He slid into the seat and it felt like coming home. Something in his chest loosened at that and he breathed in the scent of leather and gun oil that he associated with the impala. Dean let his eyes fall shut and just absorbed the calm of his baby.

There was the sound of the back door creaking open and Dean cracked one eye open to watch Horae slide into the back seat. She was a gorgeous woman all curves and muscle clearly visibly under her skin tight black tank. Her boobs were awesome and Dean hadn’t gotten laid in a while, he was also pretty sure that being resurrected meant he was a virgin again.

“Don’t even think about it, Dean, I’ve got my eye on a different Winchester,” Horae drawled with a tiny quirk to her lips.

“What, so I can’t look?” Dean asked, there was something familiar about her figure and voice.

Horae snorted and her head jerked, red hair waving slightly at the moment, “I never said that, now did I. It’s not like I’m only wearing a bra or something. Besides you’ve been in Hell for forty years, I’d worry there was something wrong with you if you didn’t stare at the first set of tits that got waved in front of your face.”

Dean grinned and shut his eyes as Sam climbed into the passenger side.

~*****~

The drive to Bobby’s was somewhat uneventful and Dean decided that he liked Horae immensely after she started playing and singing incredibly bawdy tavern songs in the back seat to make Sam blush.

“Horae, stop!” he whined during the third rendition of a song about princesses and what happened after ever after.

“Nope,” Horae chirped, “loves first kiss is not an indication that the prince in your bed will meet all your expectations. So listen miss if the stable boy is better, choice the man who’ll make your ending happily ever after. Are you a prince or a stable boy Sammy? Because if your a prince we’re gonna have to fix that.”

Dean couldn’t hold it anymore, he burst out laughing. She’d been doing this for an hour straight as Sam got redder and redder. The songs got baudier and baudier, it was beautiful.

They pulled up to Bobby’s to the tune of a song she called The Old Monk and Horae doubled down on the thing as she jumped out of the car and started dancing around the impala as she sang. Dean was dying in the front seat as Sam jumped out of the passenger side to chase after her. She just kept singing as she ran around the car, dodging Samm’s gigantor limbs.

Dean climbed out of the car so he could get a better look at the chase that was taking place. There was the sound of a shotgun cocking and everything stopped abruptly as all eyes were drawn to Bobby.

“What the hell is going’ on here?” the older hunter asked.

“It’s him, Mister Singer, I would be able to tell if it wasn’t,” Horae said, voice going abruptly courteous and incredibly polite.

Dean blinked at her, it was a bit strange watching her mood do an abrupt one eighty. She’d been all playfulness and joy before now, angry at the angel when he’d spoken in his true voice. But he’d never seen her sollum and coy.

“You sure, girl,” Bobby asked, lowering his shotgun slowly.

“Yes, sir, we came to ask if you knew any psychics who might be able to find whoever did it,” she said.

“Can’t you do it?” Bobby asked with narrowed eyes and Horae shook her head, “And stop calling’ me sir, you’re making me feel old.”

“No, si- Mister Singer,” Horae stuttered out, “I’ve told you before, my powers are based mostly in protection spells and offensive magic. I have very limited sight, just enough to See the true faces of most creatures. I’ve not been trained for a long range scry.”

“Right then,” Bobby said with a dubious eyebrow, “y’all want lunch?”

Dean’s stomach growled noisily, the food from the store had been a good snack but it was no substitute for an actual meal. He was starving, still hungry from the energy it must have taken for the angel to reverse the rot that must have occurred during the month… yeah, month, Chimera had said a decade in Hell was equal to a month topside, while Dean was dead.

Dean must have eaten twice his weight in sandwiches by the time lunch was over with and Horae started looking like she wanted to pull out a set of palm palms to start cheering. She ate a good amount too, which was reassuring, she wouldn’t be fainting on them midcase if she ate like that all the time.

They climbed back into the car and headed off to Bobby’s friend Pamela Barnes, who he’d called during Dean’s attempt to completely demolish the contents on Bobby’s fridge. Horae was more subdued in the backseat, reading something on her phone, snorting at something once or twice.

At one point she went deathly still and then shot off a text to someone, muttering about idiot prophets and voyeuristic assholes. Dean didn’t ask, Sam didn’t ask, Horae just kept muttering to herself before going quiet a few minutes later.

Pamela turned out to be a hot brunette that took one look at Horae and broke down laughing, “Oh my, this is perfect, it explains so much.”

“Shut up,” Horae hissed at her.

“I won’t, don’t worry about that hot stuff but you just through a wrench in every single plan anyone had from here to Judgement day,” Pamela purred and snaked an arm around the other woman’s waist to tug her inside.

“That was the point, it’s why Chimera picked me,” Horae told her and Dean’s eyes fell to the two woman’s curves where they pressed together.

“Dean,” Sam hissed at him.

“What? She said I could look,” Dean told him with an indignant expression.

Sam just glared at him while Pamela and Horae had a low whispered conversation in front of them. It looked like Horae’s quest to get into his brother’s pants wasn’t a lost cause at all. Sam didn’t normally get this territorial about people and he’d only know her for a week at most.

“So, I’ve wegied my way through every spirit I know and none of them have anything even approaching useful information on this angel that pulled you out of the hot box. Next up is a seance, I’m gonna get you a name and then you can summon it on your own time,” Pamela said.

“We’re not summoning it here?” Bobby asked.

“Few people can look at an angel’s true form without burning their eyeballs out and I highly doubt he’s got a vessel yet,” Horae answered before turning to Pamela, “which reminds me. Can I piggyback on your spell? Chimera set up a vessel for him so he doesn’t have to go claim the man he’s been circling as a vessel. I need to tell him where it is.”

“Sure, sweat thing,” Pamela purred and pecked Horae on the lips.

“Wait, angels possess people?!” Dean asked, Sam looked slightly dumbstruck.

“Hmm,” Horae hummed, “yes, they need consent to do it though. My advice, if you have any weird dreams about people asking you to use your body just say no. It’s like drugs that way.”

“Oh, he probably won’t need to worry about that, given what your Patron scrawled all over his chest,” Pamela laughed.

“He wasn’t kidding about that?” Horae asked.

“Yeah, it’s a pretty in depth possession ward from what I can tell,” the brunette told her.

Horae hummed and gestured towards the table Pamela had set up, “Let’s get on with it then.”

Chapter Ten: Castiel

Castiel was confused. When he’d pulled The Righteous Man from the Pits of Hell the soul had buried it’s hand in one of his wings. It had been… pleasurable, a sensation he had never known. Better than when his brothers groomed his wings, what few brothers bothered anyway.

Dean had not gone quietly into the arms of the Heavenly Host, which was strange in and of itself. He was distrustful of all save Castiel and that had confused everyone until the higher ranking angels had theorized that Dean only trusted him because he was the one to pull the man from the wrack.

Everyone had accepted the theory as fact after a few spars seconds but Castiel was still looked at it with dubious eyes. He was young, he knew he was young, made in the middle of the Fall when heaven had needed soldiers most. He was more willful than most, if an angel could be willful and most of his original garrison had either Fallen, ripped out their own grace, or died in that long ago war.

But the Fallen were dead now. Castiel had helped ensure it, being one of the few that volunteered to hunt down those few Fallen who climbed out of Hell to cause chaos on Earth. Azazel had been the last, to their knowledge and he had died over a year ago by Earth’s time, by the Righteous Man’s hand no less.

So why, oh why was there a Fallen in Hell? Why had he been so intent on Dean? What did he mean by Zachariah having been unworthy? And why didn’t Castiel recognize him?

Castiel had memorized the faces and corrupt grace of every single Fallen that had been in the war and all who he remembered were gone. This Fallen didn’t feel like any of them, the green sheen of his hellfire almost pure, untainted by the Fall even though he was Fallen.

None of Castiel’s siblings had Fallen, truly Fallen, not just retreated into humanity, since the war and those that had ripped out their grace felt nothing like this Fallen. It confused him, tied his mind up in knots and made his brain spiral into deeper and deeper logic loops that made absolutely no sense.

He’d shaken the thoughts off and pulled Dean out of Hell, into the Earthly plane. The resurrection hadn’t taken much, just a few touches of grace to reverse the decay and heal any wounds present on Dean’s body. Fishing the Righteous Man out from where he’d buried himself in Castiel’s wings on the other hand took far far longer.

That had confused him even more. Why would the soul cling to him so desperately?

After a few hours Castiel had admitted defeat and broke off a tiny sliver of grace to send into Dean’s body along with his soul. The ploy worked and Castiel was able to retreat to Heaven where he could watch the Righteous Man without fear of injuring him. His true form would be overwhelming but perhaps Dean would be able to perceive Castiel’s voice.

He waited and watched, bided his time as Dean made his way to the tiny store near where Sam Winchester had buried his brother. His form was beautiful, not to the extent of his soul but as beautiful as a physical form could be to an angel’s eyes and Castiel enjoyed watching him move.

There was another soul coming closer and Castiel instantly recognized Dean’s brother, Sam Winchester. It was brighter than he’d thought it would be but it really shouldn’t have been a surprise, he was the Light Bringer’s Vessel after all. And Castiel felt a twinge in his grace at that thought because he had never ever thought of Lucifer like that.

His grace and mind had always been in agreement over the topic of Lucifer. He was a traitor, he had twisted humanity into a mockery of itself, and launched a war on Heaven that had taken the lives of hundreds of angels. He had never known the other angel, never even seen him, never heard his voice for which Castiel had thought himself blessed. But in Hell he had felt his presence, felt the chill of the other angel’s grace, sense the loneliness rising up from the depths of the Pit.

And now he was looking down at the Earthbound embodiment of Lucifer and for the first time in a while that niggling doubt that had lived in his grace, born with the death of the first of his garrison to Fall, came to the forefront of his mind. He shook it off, tamped it down but there was lingering confusion as the younger Winchester brother rushed up the stairs of the store.

There was someone else there, someone Castiel couldn’t see from Heaven, couldn’t even sense even though he could tell they were there. It was uncomfortable and strange, he was not used to not being able to see things. There were a few tricksters that could, he knew that but they couldn’t do it for long and even then he would have been able to taste the pagan magic flavoring the air around the masked presence.

There was none of that there, there was just nothing. More confusion and then he tried to speak to them.

Dean heard him but he said he was too loud, Sam had heard him too and he couldn’t hold quite hold in the bubbling joy that flowed through his grace. They were blessed and Castiel could not see the taint of demon blood that heaven said had to be there in Sam’s blood, on Sam’s soul. Instead he could see tiny threads of grace pressed to his soul and every had forgot that Azazel was an angel but Castiel couldn’t, he’d seen him on the battlefield with fiery wings spread wide as his blade met those of so many others.

Castiel had been on the front lines and survived so many conflicts that they all blurred together but that image would stay with him forever.

And then another voice had spoken up, a female voice. It was crisp and clear and held no trace of demonic taint or Hell, quite the opposite actually. Underneath what humans could hear was the jeweled tinged tones of a soul that had been taken from Heaven.

“GET A VESSEL BEFORE YOU TRY TO TALK TO HUMANS FOR GOD’S SAKE!”

And Castiel pulled back from the mortal plane, reeling from shock. How had a soul managed to escape Heaven? How had she achieved a physical form? How had she known about Vessels and what he was?

The confusion continued with the seance that the two brothers used in an attempt to contact him. The experience had been jarring, the feeling of a purely human magic hooking into his grace and not letting go, tugging him closer and closer to the mortal plane. The voice that called to him was unfamiliar but powerful in the way most psychics were said to be.

But there were two distinct magical signatures behind the power of the seance, the human one dominant but under it was something else. Something that was far more mixed, human but not at the same time.

He told the psychic what she wanted to know, gave her his name as he continued his idle search for a vessel. And then she tried to get a look at him, yanking on his grace with a strength that he didn’t know a human was capable of.

Stop, I will burn you,” he warned as he tried to pull the seance’s hook out of his grace. He didn’t want to hurt her but if she saw him he would.

“I invoke-” the psychic began.

“PAMELA! STOP!” the other being behind the seance cried and the second power surged forward, yanking the psychic’s magic back.

Castiel froze as he recognized the tinge of grace in her power and the voice of the woman who had told him to get a vessel before he spoke to the Winchesters again. How did she have grace? Had one of his siblings been reincarnated and found their grace? But no, she felt human too, her power burning bright with a very human fire. Was she a descendant of one of the Blessed?

“Castiel, I can’t hold her back for long. Go to this cabin,” an image flashed before his eyes, “my Patron had crafted a vessel for you. He objects to the practice of taking humans as vessels. Hurry, the Winchesters will be summoning you within the day.”

And then the seance power was gone, pulled out of his grace like a human would pull a splinter.

Castiel had paused for meer fractions of a second to consider her words before he went in search of the cabin she had spoken of. It was secluded, high up in a mountain range, almost completely unreachable by land.

The vessel was inside, lying on a pallet on the ground, draped in a down comforter with an intricate pattern of red and purple thread. It looked a lot like James Novak but there were small differences, enough so that they would look like especially close siblings rather than twins. The hair was blacker, the nose slightly smaller, and it was a bit younger in appearance, mid twenties rather than early thirties. It was satisfactory and empty of any soul.

He examined it for a few moments and then folded himself down into the vessel. It fit perfectly, like a second skin. He didn’t notice the sigils tattooed across his ribs until it was too late. He was already in the vessel, his new body and he was stuck there.

Castiel sat up and pulled the comforter back to stare at the Enochian on his skin. It wasn’t the Enochian he was used to, all circles and logical, utilitarian patterns. It was older, more powerful, more creative. The interpretation was slow but he finally puzzled it out after a few moments.

Castiel, Angel of Thursday, be welcome and claim your mortal form,” Castiel murmured in Enochian, he could feel his grace merging with the vessel, no the body.

He could feel it becoming a part of him like his grace was, like his wings were. Who had done this? Who was the woman’s Patron? He would need to ask her if he saw her.

The body was naked but some hunting around turned up a pair of black slacks, white button up, and tan trenchcoat. He watched them for a few seconds before he nodded to himself and let the cloths melt onto him. They fit perfectly and felt softer than they should against his skin.

Castiel could sense more Enochian warding on the cloths, most likely either stitched or drawn along the hems. Protection from attack and wards against wear. He pondered it for a few moments before he felt the telltale creep of human magic against his grace.

He ignored it for a second and then his new eyes had widened when he realized that there was an Enochian base to the summoning spell. This was no gentle prod, like most spells, this was a downright demand, a yank on his grace that was getting more and more insistent by the second.

Castiel, Angel of Thursday,” Dean’s voice murmured across his grace and he felt it shiver, warmth shooting its way across his being, sinking in deep, “we summon you to us, please answer our call.”

And Castiel couldn’t resist, wouldn’t have resisted even if the spell hadn’t just locked itself around him and pulled him across miles upon miles of space until he stood in the center of a devil’s trap in an old barn made of iron.

Dean snapped a leather bound notebook shut and grinned at him. Something coiled deep in Castiel’s grace causing his first true breath in a human body to quiver as it was drawn into unused lungs. He was was even more beautiful in person those deep green eyes even more striking up close as they bored into his own.

“Hello, Dean,” he said, voice gravelly and deeper than he intended as those eyes trailed over his body.

The Righteous Man’s eyes fixed on a point just behind Castiel’s left shoulder and the grin broadened into a full on smirk, “We match.”

Castiel blinked and glanced up at his left wing. There was a green patch of feathers on the upper curve, the exact shade of green that resided in Dean’s eyes. He hadn’t noticed that before, then again he hadn’t had time to groom recently.

“It appears so,” Castiel drawled and stepped out of the devil’s trap, “Dean, I need to speak with you.”

“Yeah, Chimera said you might want to tell me more about this apocalypse deal,” the human said.

“Chimera?” Castiel asked, pausing mid step, “Who is Chimera? I know of no being by that name.”

“The Fallen,” Dean told him, waving that revelation aside like it was nothing at all.

Castiel felt his wings arch up in a clear show of aggression at the mention of the Hell winged thing he’d faced off against in the Pit. It made Dean chuckle for some reason.

“Yeah, Horae thought you might have that reaction,” Dean drawled and stepped closer.

He was within a foot of Castiel now, close enough that the angel could smell him. Gun oil and sandalwood, cordite and steel. Castiel’s grace pulsed and he felt it shift under his skin, wings fluttering into a completely different configuration. One far more friendly than he wished for Dean to see.

Castiel tamped down on the temptation to reach out and touch that shining soul in it’s lovely packaging. He cleared his throat and looked deep into Dean’s eyes, almost falling into them.

“Why did you pull me out of the hot box, Cas?” Dean asked and licked his lips.

Castiel tracked the movement, unable to stop himself from staring, “Because God commanded it, because He has work for you.”

“God wanted me out, huh?” Dean asked and stepped back, Castiel barely restraining the desire to follow.

The human prowled around him like a jaguar around its prey. Castiel tracked him with his grace when he wandered out of eyesight. Dean trailed a finger just a hair’s breadth from Castiel’s wing, right over the green patch and they quivered under the almost touch.

“Did the big man give you the order Himself?” Dean asked, the cynicism in his tone clearly evident.

Castiel’s eyes narrowed as Dean rounded him to stand in front of the angel, “You don’t believe you deserved to be saved. Good things do happen, Dean.”

Dean smiled at him, “I’m starting to see that. Why were you the one Chimera dragged down? He never even pretended that he was going to let the other one drag me up.”

“I… you are implying that the Fallen wanted you out of Hell. Wanted you Saved,” Castiel said, confused for the umpteenth time in the last few days.

Dean snorted in amusement and stepped even further away from Castiel but didn’t answer him. He just looked as Castiel and waited, patiently for the angel to answer his question.

Castiel floundered for a few seconds before he managed to find his voice, “I… believe that his interest might have arisen from the fact that I was the only one of my brothers to attempt to stop him from breaching our lines when he went after Zachariah.”

“He knew you were a fighter,” Dean said, nodding in absentminded agreement, “he knew you could get me out. Makes sense, couldn’t risk me drawing blood.”

“What? What do you mean?” Castiel asked, dread gripping his grace and he couldn’t figure out why it was there.

Dean snorted, “Chimera doesn’t want the world to end. He doesn’t like demons or angels but he likes Earth, called it a party once.”

“He’s been on Earth?” Castiel asked.

Dean snorted, “Cas, he was only in Hell for as long as I was when you stabbed him, no one could have missed that coming out party.”

“I, I need to report this to my superiors,” Castiel stuttered out.

“Cas, wait-” Dean’s words were cut off by the rush of space as Castiel flew back to Heaven as fast as his wings would carry him.

The next few months were a mass of even more confusion as Castiel watched Sam and Dean hunt, growing even closer than they had before, rotating around a central point. That central point being the woman none of the angels could sense and who always seemed to conveniently absent when Castiel dropped in to personally visit Dean.

He couldn’t keep himself away, that ever strong soul was just too tempting. Castiel was spiralling and he knew it was a bad idea for him to feed into the want he felt for the Righteous Man. It was a delicate balance as it was, teetering just on the edge of too much.

Castiel wanted him, more than he’d wanted anything ever before. Dean was precious and strong and beautiful and Castiel’s grace ached with it. But there were too many questions and too much to do. Angels were dying and no one knew why and he felt every death like it was his Garrison all over again.

But no one had seen Chimera, for all Castiel knew he was still in Hell but why he would stay there if he could get to Earth Castiel did not know. And then his superiors sent him down with Uriel to test the Righteous Man and everything got ten times more confusing.

 


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vamprav

My name is vamprav, also known as Margaret Couplet, a pantser with a mild... okay it's not mild, stop laughing, with fix its and time travel. I also have an issue with finishing works because I have, what i refer to as, "Ooooh shiny!" and tend to upload incomplete works because I get bored. Some of my older stuff needs to get rewriten because I started writting fan fic at 14? 15? I honestly can't remember.

2 Comments:

  1. Damn. Thank you. I love this.

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