Title: Playing for Keeps Till the End of Time (SPN fusion set in
Highlander 'verse) - posted January 16, 2010
Author: Lacey McBain
Word Count: ~16,000 complete
Warnings: Minor character deaths.
"There can be only one!" ... Sam's been murdered, Dean's a mess, and a
Watcher named Jimmy Novak is far more than he appears to be. With
special appearances by Bobby, Chuck, and Uriel. Even if you don't know
Highlander at all, you should have no trouble following along at home.
Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Kripke and Co. Highlander
is owned Rysher Entertainment et Al. I'm merely playing.
Playing for Keeps Till the End of Time
swiftly, his blade arcing in perfect symmetry as he turned, its
newly-sharpened edge glazed with moonlight. The sword found its mark,
severed the other man’s neck as if lopping off the crown of a thistle,
the eyes staring in surprise even as the head detached and dropped to
the ground with a harsh thud.
Castiel dropped his eyes and said
a silent prayer. He didn’t know anymore if it was for himself or the
man he’d just killed, but it was an old habit and he wasn’t about to
stop. He steeled himself then and waited for the quickening to overtake
him, the familiar surge of anticipation, exhilaration, a shiver of
regret. The air snapped with electricity and Castiel felt the lightning
force rush through him as he remembered every battle fought, every head
won over a lifetime counted in centuries. He saw through his conquest’s
eyes: family, love, lust, disappointment, fear, the glory of battle. He
even saw himself, through the other’s eyes, saw himself fighting
alongside his brothers, embraced as kindred, and the pain of memory
tore through him as surely as the blade that had ended his friend’s
life. He slumped to his knees beside the body, reached out a hand and
closed the unseeing eyes.
“I’m sorry, Raphael,” he said to the man he’d called a brother for
hundreds of years. “It didn’t have to end this way.”
Except in his heart, he knew that it did.
There could be only one.
Bar was small and out of the way, something like a cross between an
old-fashioned pub and a roadhouse. The food was hot, the beer was cold,
and nobody took much interest in anyone else’s business. Ellen liked it
that way, and so did her regulars, including Castiel, better known as
“I think you’ve had enough, ” Castiel heard Ellen
say as she reached for the bottle of Jack Daniels, but the man at the
bar kept one hand wrapped around it, the other holding on to the
counter as if he might slide off his stool at any minute.
isn’t enough whiskey in the whole goddamn world, Ellen,” he said,
sounding surprisingly sober considering Castiel had been watching the
guy drink steadily for the last hour under the increasingly worried
eyes of Harvelle’s owner.
“Dean, I know it’s hard. Sam was a
good kid, but you drinking yourself stupid isn’t going to bring him
back. Does Bobby know you’re in town?”
Dean shook his head and
emptied the glass in front of him. “Don’t want to see Bobby. Don’t want
to see anyone. Just want to find the sons of bitches who did that to
Sammy.” Dean looked up from his drink and Castiel could just make out
the fierce reflection in the smoked glass behind the bar, startling
green eyes that were as focused and resolute as any Castiel had ever
seen. “I’m gonna find them, and I’m gonna kill them. Even if it’s the
last thing I do.”
Ellen reached across the bar and cupped Dean’s
face in both hands, shaking her head even as she did so. “You’re so
like your father, boy. He didn’t know when to quit either.”
quit when I’m dead,” he said, and it was clearly something Ellen had
heard a hundred times before. She let him go, her eyes blinking rapidly
before she turned away.
“Goddamn Winchesters,” she muttered
under her breath, as she grabbed up the bar rag and rubbed viciously at
some invisible spill at the far end of the counter. Dean poured himself
another double from the almost empty bottle, and Castiel turned over
the names in his mind. Dean. Sam. Winchesters. Bobby.
Castiel knew Bobby Singer. All the Watchers did. There weren’t that
many wheelchair-bound ancient language experts who also held an annual
chili cook-off and regularly drank the Classics department under the
table. He’d known Bobby a few years now, and although he wouldn’t
necessarily call them friends, Castiel had come to trust Bobby’s
assessment of most people. The first time they’d met, Bobby had
flat-out told Castiel he didn’t trust him, that he was hiding something
and someday he’d find out what it was. Castiel liked him even more
after that, and Bobby had grudgingly come around when he realized
Castiel knew exactly what he was talking about when it came to ancient
texts and world history. So though they weren’t exactly friends, there
was a sort of tenuous respect between them. If the man sitting at the
bar was someone close to both Bobby and Ellen, he was probably alright.
Especially if he was Sam Winchester’s brother, which from every
indication, he was. Smart mouth, an ego to match and the skills to back
it up, the hair a shade longer than standard military issue. Sam had
been so proud of his big brother, the Marine. If Castiel had to guess
he’d say a few months out of the Navy, give or take.
Castiel focused his attention back on the action, Dean had given up the
empty bottle, and Ellen had the phone in one hand. “Let me call Bobby,”
she was saying.
“Jo’s in town. I could call her, she’d come pick you up, take you to a—”
you’re not driving out of here, and I can’t close the goddamn bar just
to make sure you get home in one piece. Now what’s it going to be,
“I can drive your friend to a motel,” Castiel said, putting a twenty on
the bar for his own drinks.
“And who the hell are you?” Dean asked.
Novak.” Castiel held out a hand. Dean swung around on his stool, face
all business, and Castiel didn’t know what kind of metabolism the guy
had because he looked stone cold sober and suspicious as hell. He also
had the greenest eyes Castiel had ever seen.
Ellen picked up the
twenty, a grateful smile on her face as Castiel waved off the change.
He needed to do something with his hand—it was clear Dean wasn’t going
to shake it.
“Thanks, Jimmy,” Ellen said.
“You don’t look
like a Jimmy.” Dean’s eyes raked over him from top to bottom, clearly
taking in the dark suit and trench coat, the battered leather satchel
case, and categorizing him as a harmless academic. Castiel had seen
that look before.
“And you’re Dean Winchester.”
Dean raised an eyebrow. “What of it?”
knew Sam.” Castiel saw the wave of hurt return to Dean’s face, his
grief so evident it was like a punch to the gut, and Castiel would’ve
reached out a hand to Dean’s shoulder if he wasn’t absolutely certain
it would’ve been slapped away. “I was sorry to hear—”
Dean didn’t let him finish. “Yeah, everybody’s sorry, but nobody can
tell me a damn thing about what happened to him. Or why.”
know it must be difficult,” Castiel tried again, but he got no further
before he had an angry Dean Winchester right in front of him, so close
he could smell the whiskey on his breath, see the anger flash in the
“Dean,” Ellen interjected from across the bar, but Castiel waved her
was right in Castiel’s face, barely an inch between their bodies. Anger
rolled off of him in waves so strong Castiel could almost feel them.
“Somebody cut his head off with a freakin’ sword, man. He was a grad
student. In Classics, for God’s sake. He had sixty bucks on him and an
iPhone, and they didn’t even bother with it. They just—they just killed
him and left him. For no reason at all.”
The bar went silent,
all eyes turning towards them. Dean looked around uncomfortably, dug
into his pocket and threw a handful of crumpled bills on the bar. “I’m
sorry, Ellen,” he said, not looking at her or anyone. “I’ve gotta get
out of here.”
He turned and strode towards the exit; Castiel picked up his satchel.
“I’ve got him” Castiel held up the keys he’d slipped out of Dean’s
Ellen grinned. “Whatever you want, it’s on the house.”
“I’ll remember that,” he said as he pushed through the door and into
the cool night air.
couldn’t find his keys, and honestly, he wouldn’t have put it past
Ellen to lift them. There was no way in hell he was showing his face in
that bar again tonight, not after the way silence had settled on the
room, everyone looking at him when he’d blurted out the details of
Dean kicked at the dirt and dug through this
pockets again. Wallet, jackknife, book of matches, six quarters and a
TicTac. No keys. He leaned his head against the cool metal of the
Impala’s roof and wondered if his baby would forgive him for hotwiring
her. Maybe he should just sleep it off in the parking lot. It wouldn’t
be the first time he’d slept in the car.
“Looking for these?”
The voice was deep and held the slightest tone of amusement. Dean
picked his head up off the car to see his keys being dangled from Jimmy
“Ellen give them to you?”
The guy grinned a little and shook his head. “Nope, that was all me.
looked at him again. Rumpled trench coat, slightly askew tie.
Everything about him screamed single, slightly awkward professor of
something or other.
“You teach your students how to pick pockets, Professor?”
“I’m not a professor.”
Dean noticed that wasn’t really answering the question. “Well, I
figured it’s either that or a tax accountant.”
wrong again. You seem to be a little off your game tonight,” Jimmy
said, staying just far enough away that Dean knew he’d never be able to
make a grab for the keys and stay on his feet at the same time. Maybe
he wasn’t exactly drunk, but he was still a long way from sober.
snorted. Okay, the guy had a point, and Ellen seemed to like him. Plus
he said he knew Sam. Had known Sam. Fucking grammar kept screwing him
up, and he felt the loss of Sam’s presence in his life roll over him as
if it were a tidal wave. Then there were hands on him, guiding him to
the edge of the parking lot, and holding him as he threw up the burger
he’d forced himself to choke down so he could tell himself he wasn’t
drinking on an empty stomach.
Jimmy had a hand on Dean’s back
and a concerned look on his face, but he didn’t say anything as Dean
put himself back together. He took the bottle of water Jimmy pulled out
of his bag and drank slowly, forcing himself to find an even rhythm for
his breaths, even though his heart was trying to beat its way out of
Dean handed the bottle back. “Um, thanks.”
“Don’t mention it. Ellen’s a good woman. She’s helped me out more than
once. Least I can do is return the favour.”
well, you don’t have to baby-sit. I’ll just sleep in the car.” Jimmy
shook his head, and Dean sighed. “Look, man, I swear I won’t drive
anywhere. I’ve got no desire to end up a smear on the asphalt.”
steered him towards the passenger seat of the Impala and shut the door
behind him. Dean watched in shock as the guy hopped into the driver’s
seat and started the engine.
“Beautiful car,” he said, as if
there wasn’t anything wrong with this picture, and Dean had to fight
the urge to push the guy out of the driver’s seat and onto the street.
Even Sam had never been that free with Dean’s car.
“Nobody drives my car.”
“That must make getting drunk difficult.”
“Not usually,” Dean admitted.
“Well, tonight you’ve got a chauffeur, so why don’t you sit back and
enjoy the ride.”
way are you—” Dean reached a hand across to the steering wheel, but he
never laid a hand on it before Jimmy slammed on the brakes, and turned
on him, one hand pushing back on Dean’s chest with a surprising amount
“Listen, Dean, I know I don’t know you from Adam, but
I knew Sam, and he was a good kid who didn’t deserve to die like that.
Everybody liked him. I also know he had an older brother he worshipped,
thought the guy walked on water, and if you’re half the man your little
brother thought you were, you’re going to shut up and let me drive you
somewhere so you can sleep this off.”
“I wish I could. Sleep it
off,” Dean said quietly, and Jimmy’s face softened, even as he let go
of Dean. “I wish it was that simple.”
“I know,” Jimmy replied, and there was something in his tone that said
maybe Jimmy did know.
pulled out onto the empty street, and Dean turned his head towards the
window. Sam was dead and nothing he could do was ever going to change
that. He felt the tears he’d been fighting since he’d hit town well up
again, and this time he didn’t have the strength to stop them from
sliding down his face. Jimmy didn’t say anything, just turned the radio
to an old rock station and steered the Impala through the darkness.
Dean had no idea where they were going, or even if Jimmy knew, but he
found that he really didn’t care. He closed his eyes and tried not to
Castiel stripped off his clothes and
climbed into bed after depositing Dean on the futon in the living room.
He didn’t know why he’d done it—brought a stranger home like this, and
not even a stranger he was planning to sleep with. Yet there’d been
something in those green eyes, a depth of sorrow he’d felt all the way
through him, and it rattled something that hadn’t moved him to action
“You’re getting soft in your old age, Castiel,” he murmured to himself.
Ellen had been good to him, but no more than any other bartender with a
paying customer who tipped well and stayed clear of the fights. He
didn’t owe her anything.
He didn’t owe Sam or Bobby anything
either. Bobby liked him because he knew the difference between Enochian
and Aramaic, and could translate ancient Egyptian without giving a
lecture on the ruling dynasties first. Bobby liked what he could do,
not who he was, because the bottomline was, none of them knew who he
was. Not really. He was Jimmy Novak, ancient languages and antiquities
specialist. Sometimes translator and appraiser. He could never be
anything more than that if he wanted to survive.
And Sam. He
remembered meeting Sam at Bobby’s office, the kid filling up half the
space of the crowded room. He’d shaken hands with a firm grip, called
him Mister Novak, and been eager as a puppy to get a look at the texts
Bobby had brought Castiel there to translate.
“You’ll have to excuse Sam here,” Bobby had said. “He’s just gotten his
Sam’s eyes darted between Castiel and Bobby. “You didn’t tell me Mr.
Novak was a Watcher too.”
“Call me Jimmy.”
“Who’s your Immortal?”
“Sam.” Bobby’s voice was disapproving. “It’s not a popularity contest.”
“Castiel,” he said softly, ignoring the low whistle from Sam.
“I thought he was just a myth. Oldest immortal and all that. You don’t
really think he’s still out there, do you?”
he’s out there,” Bobby said with certainty. “Every once in a blue moon
there’s a report, but he hasn’t stayed alive for 5000 years without
learning how to blend in and stay away from other Immortals.”
“So he doesn’t fight? Isn’t part of The Game? What is he, a coward?”
cowardice is the better part of valor,” Castiel said. “I think Castiel
wants to avoid The Game for as long as possible.”
“Have you ever actually seen him? Talked to him?”
glared. “You do understand the ‘watching’ part of being a Watcher,
don’t you, Sam? We chronicle, we don’t interfere, and we sure as hell
don’t tell ‘em we’re out here doing exactly that. That’s a good way to
And then six months later, Sam had been killed,
decapitated even though he was no Immortal, and the other Watchers had
retreated even further, more certain than ever that observing quietly
from a distance was the only way to stay safe.
sooner or later the whole system was going to fall apart, that there
were already cracks in the Watchers’ facade, trickles of information
leaking out, questions being asked in official circles, and even
unofficial ones. The Immortals were not entirely without resources.
suspected the man sleeping downstairs on his futon was just one more
nail in the coffin of secrecy, and maybe they owed Dean Winchester
something considering what he’d lost. There was no way to make up for
Sam’s life, but maybe he could give Dean some of the answers he was
For the first time in a very long time, Castiel
felt the weight of all his years. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever seriously
considered telling someone the absolute truth, and although Dean
Winchester seemed an unlikely choice, somehow it felt right.
clawed his way to wakefulness and found himself face-down on an
unfamiliar futon with a wool blanket draped over him. He rolled and
stretched, kicking off the blanket and reaching for the water glass and
aspirin someone had left within easy reach.
Jimmy, Dean’s still foggy brain provided.
had a somewhat hazy recollection of being tugged out of his car and
guided up an interminable number of stairs in the dark. Jimmy hadn’t
said anything about why he’d brought him home instead of dumping his
ass at the nearest Motel 6, but Dean hadn’t been in any shape to argue,
so he’d taken the offer of the futon and fallen into merciful,
Now, though, as the gray morning light reached
through the windows, Dean had a chance to see where he’d ended up. The
apartment was large and bright, with an open design and lots of
windows. There were bookshelves everywhere there weren’t windows, and
Dean didn’t think he’d ever seen so many books outside of a library.
Figured that Sam would be friends with a Brainiac like this. Dean
wandered along the shelves, realizing that he couldn’t read a lot of
the spines. The raised gold letters were ones he didn’t recognize, and
even the ones in regular ABCs were in languages he couldn’t identify,
let alone pronounce.
Dean didn’t know what kind of schedule
Jimmy kept, but he figured coffee probably wouldn’t be refused, so he
checked out the coffeemaker, threw some grounds into the filter and
turned it on. He found the bathroom easily, and felt slightly more
human after taking care of business, washing his face, rinsing his
mouth. The hallway with the bathroom was short and had two more doors
along it, one across from the bathroom, and one—a heavy wooden door
that looked like it belonged in a medieval church—at the end.
seen the staircase that led up to the loft where he’d assumed Jimmy’s
bedroom was. Hell, if he could afford a place like this, it’s where
he’d sleep. So Dean figured these rooms must be more offices or
something. He pushed open the less imposing door, taking in more
books—“What a surprise,” Dean muttered—a computer and some glass
display cases, packed with odds and ends. He peered in to survey the
assortment of knives, tools, pens, and a bunch of old-looking stuff he
couldn’t identify. On the desk top was an open journal in tight dark
script. Dean flipped it over and read the title embossed into the brown
“The Chronicles of Castiel. Guess Jimmy’s a writer as well as a wacky
set the book down and tried to back carefully out of the room without
disturbing anything else. His foot grazed the antique umbrella stand
near the door, and when he reached down to stop it from tumbling, he
realized there was something in amongst the wooden-handled umbrellas
and carved walking sticks. He pulled out a curved wicked-looking sword
and unsheathed it.
“You find what you were looking for?”
hastily shoved the blade back into its scabbard, and turned to Jimmy,
who was standing in the doorway in sweatpants and bare feet, a grey
t-shirt hanging loosely on his trim frame.
“I, uh, I was looking for the bathroom.”
“You passed it,” Jimmy said calmly, his blue eyes wary. “Also, you left
the seat up.”
Dean said, but he was looking at the sword in his hand and trying to
make sense of it. “This some kind of collectible?” he asked. The sword
made a ringing sound when he unsheathed it again. He’d been a Marine
for nine years. He knew a real blade, a well-used, well-cared for blade
when he saw one.
Jimmy stepped closer, one hand raised in a
placating gesture. “No, it’s not; it’s a twelfth century Japanese
katana. Very rare and very sharp.”
Katana. The word stuck
in Dean’s brain from the police report he’d bribed someone to see. Dean
caught a glimpse of a blue tattoo on Jimmy’s forearm as he reached for
the sword, and that was it. The sword, the tattoo, it was too much to
be a coincidence, and yet nobody would tell him what any of it meant.
He grabbed Jimmy’s outstretched arm and pulled him into the room,
backing him against the bookshelf, sword at his throat.
“Dean, what are you—”
“Tell me about the sword.”
“I’m a collector. I—”
Dean pushed the sword ever so slightly closer to Jimmy’s skin.
“Collectors don’t keep their swords in the freakin’ umbrella stand. Try
Jimmy glanced down, and Dean knew he was figuring out a
counter-strategy. He could see it in his eyes, and this was no longer a
harmless antiquities expert with a Good Samaritan complex; this was a
guy with a sharp sword and the same goddamn tattoo that Sam had on his
wrist. Dean could feel Jimmy tensing his muscles, readying himself for
“Did you kill him?”
Jimmy’s face went blank, then a look of horror swept over him. “No. No!
You think I killed Sam? I would never—”
police report said it was a katana. Until three days ago, I’d never
even heard of one of those, but you just happen to have one, so maybe
you could explain that to me. And while you’re at it, maybe you want to
tell me why you and my brother have matching tats?”
Jimmy glanced down at his bare arm, the blue tattoo, a stylized “w”
inside a circle, emblazoned on his skin. “Sam told you—”
it was in the goddamn autopsy report!” Dean pursed his lips, his eyes
flaring wide. “Look, I just want to know the truth. Was it some sort of
cult? Some ritual that went wrong?”
“Nothing like that.”
“But you know why he was killed.”
let out a breath. “I’ve got my suspicions, but I didn’t have anything
to do with it, Dean. I swear to you. I liked Sam; I would never have
Dean measured the words, listening for what wasn’t
being said. He’d been a soldier a long time and his instincts were
telling him the man in front of him wasn’t as harmless as he wanted
people to think. Even if he hadn’t hurt Sam, he was more than capable
of doing so. It was there in his eyes, blue and broken. Dean had spent
enough time in war zones to know someone who’d seen far too much of
“But you’ve hurt other people,” Dean said softly. “Killed other people.”
Jimmy swallowed and didn’t look away. “I’m not the only one, Sergeant.”
nodded, acknowledging the truth of it, and stepped back, sliding the
katana into its sheath. Jimmy noticeably relaxed his stance, although
he didn’t make any attempt to move. “I need to know the truth, whatever
it is. Can you give me that?”
Jimmy closed his eyes for a moment and seemed to gather himself. When
he look at Dean it was with acceptance in his blue eyes.
“So, Sam was one of these Watchers.”
“And you like to watch too?” Dean said around his coffee mug.
Castiel grinned and raised his eyebrows. “Bobby too.”
think I’m going to need to scrub my brain.” Dean rubbed a hand over his
face, and poured himself more coffee. “And you spend your time keeping
track of these Immortals who use their years of knowledge mostly to run
around and try to cut off one another’s heads with ancient swords.”
“That’s about right.” Castiel slid the milk jug across the table
“But why? If they can live forever, do anything they want, why all the
can be only one,” Castiel said. It was the foundation of The Game. All
the Immortals knew it and accepted it as their guiding principle.
“What do you mean why?”
Dean looked at him as he poured milk into his coffee. “I mean, why?
Why can’t there be two? Or ten—that’s a nice round number.”
“There can be only one,” Castiel repeated, not clearly understanding
dude, try to think of this like someone who hasn’t been studying it for
years. What’s the point of being the Last Immortal Standing? What do
you get out of it?”
“The one who wins will gain The Prize.”
“And what’s the prize?”
“Nobody knows,” Castiel had to admit.
shook his head. “Man, that is so fucking lame. Seriously, all of this
for a prize that may or may not exist, and may or may not even be
something you want? What if the prize sucks? What if I’d rather have
what’s behind Door Number Three?”
“I don’t know. It’s just
always been that way.” Castiel warmed up his own coffee, wondering how
exactly he’d ended up turning a favor to drop off a drunk friend of a
friend into a conversation about things he’d never talked about with
someone who wasn’t either Immortal or a Watcher.
“You know, I
thought you guys with all your books and degrees were supposed to be
the smart ones. Maybe it’s time for a new rulebook.”
only two rules,” Castiel pointed out. “No battles are to be fought on
holy ground, and once a fight has begun, there can be no interference.”
“You think that’s what happened to Sam?”
Castiel nodded. “Sometimes it’s hard to sit back and do nothing.”
that wouldn’t have suited Sam real well. And he could take care of
himself. For a geek. I made sure of that.” Dean’s face darkened, and
Castiel could see the wheels turning, trying to measure if he’d be in
any way responsible for Sam’s death. Castiel reached across the table
and tapped Dean’s arm.
“Hey. Whatever happened, it’s not your fault.”
“I should’ve been here.”
“How do you figure?”
wasn’t doing anything, just bumming around, shooting pool. Sammy wanted
me to visit, and I blew him off. I figured I’d be bored out of my mind
hanging around with Sam. Libraries, research, all that shit he loved.”
Dean’s face looked pained, and Castiel could hear the regret in every
syllable. He got up and grabbed their empty cups, wiped the counter.
Anything he could think of to give Dean a little space.
“Look, why don’t you take a shower,” Castiel said. “I can lend you a
shirt if you need.”
“My bag’s in the Impala. I really haven’t been in town long enough to
have settled on a place to stay.”
“I thought you’d been here three days.”
Dean looked sheepish. “I haven’t been sleeping a lot since—well, since
“Take a shower. I’ll grab your stuff.”
“Jimmy, you don’t have to—”
“Look, it’s the least I can do. And there are still things I should
let out a breath and nodded. Castiel knew that look—weariness,
resignation. Right now Dean felt like he’d lost his whole world, and he
wasn’t sure how much more he could take. Castiel didn’t want to be the
“Yeah, a shower sounds good.”
disappeared towards the hallway, and Castiel leaned back against the
counter. So far he’d broken just about every rule he’d ever
followed—don’t tell people the truth, don’t let people close to you,
and he was pretty damn sure that bringing home a green-eyed messed-up
ex-Marine was a mistake he was going to regret sooner or later. For the
moment, though, he couldn’t help but feel sympathy for what Dean was
going through, everything he’d lost. Castiel couldn’t bring Sam back,
but maybe he could help Dean find some peace along with the answers.
stood under the hot water until the bathroom was full of steam, and his
skin was pink and wrinkled. He wrapped a towel around his waist and
practically tripped over the duffel bag Jimmy had set down just outside
the door. Dean dragged it inside, pulled out clean clothes, and dressed
quickly. He could hear Jimmy rattling around in the kitchen, the smell
and sizzle of bacon making Dean’s stomach growl. He stepped into the
kitchen and saw Jimmy had changed into jeans and a dark blue Henley.
The clothes fit him well. If he’d caught Dean looking, he gave no
“BLTs okay?” Jimmy said, deftly moving the bacon around on a griddle.
“Yeah, perfect.” Dean reached for the orange juice sitting on the
counter and poured two glasses. “Anything I can do?”
“I don’t know,” Jimmy said, starting toast with his left hand, while
managing the bacon with the other. “Anything you can do?”
Dean rolled his eyes. “You got anything other than swords around here,
I can cut up the tomatoes.”
laughed, and pointed at a knife block tucked under the cabinets. “Cuts
through a tin can, yet stays sharp enough to slice a tomato.” He
ignored Dean’s amused smirk. “I watch a lot of late night television.”
I gathered. But, seriously, why the sword?” Dean slid a carving knife
from the block and went to work on the tomatoes. “Why keep one of those
things around? Isn’t that sort of inviting trouble?”
“Not if you know how to use it,” Jimmy said quietly.
finished up making the sandwiches in relative silence. It gave Dean a
chance to realize how surreal his life had become in the last week,
first with the news of Sam’s death, and now Jimmy’s revelations. But
there were things that still didn’t make sense.
“The Watchers are just regular guys, right?” Dean said, carrying his
plate to the table.
“Sometimes they’re even women,” Jimmy added with a serious look.
“Fine, I’m sexist, but they’re regular men and women. Not
Jimmy swallowed his orange juice and nodded, his brow furrowing as he
tried to follow Dean’s line of reasoning.
why—why cut the head off?” Dean asked, trying to keep his tone neutral.
It was hard, but he’d done it enough times in the service to know how
it worked. You saw a buddy die, you had to keep fighting. You couldn’t
shut down, crap out, let everyone down. You had to push it aside and
keep going. Somehow this was harder than any of those times in combat
had ever been. “Sammy wasn’t immortal.”
“It’s impossible to tell
who’s going to be an Immortal until they’ve survived their first death.
Immortals tend not to take any chances. They only know one method of
killing. It’s the only way to be sure.”
Dean shook his head.
“You do realize that normal people don’t talk about shit like this over
breakfast?” He popped a fallen piece of bacon into his mouth. “So
what’s your guy like? The one you watch.”
Jimmy started at the question. “Castiel? He’s an asshole.”
swallowed the bacon and stared. Jimmy might not be exactly what he
appeared, but he seemed like a pretty mild-mannered guy, and Dean knew
from Sam that research geeks tended to be head-over-heels practically
in love with their subjects. He’d been kind of surprised when Sam
starting dating girls considering how gung-ho he was for guys in short
tunics and long wars. Of course, it had given him entertaining fantasy
material when he’d been overseas and Sam could go on for pages about
Alexander and Hephaestion, or some other guys who’d loved each other,
fought together, died for one another. Dean always figured it was Sam’s
way of telling him he was alright with Dean being Dean.
Dean looked at Jimmy’s frown, his eyes a million miles away, and said,
“Hey, don’t hold back on my account.”
seemed to shake himself back from wherever his thoughts had taken him.
“Sorry, it’s just I feel like I’ve been living with Castiel, his life,
for so long—”
“Must feel like it takes over sometimes.”
wiped his mouth and pushed his plate away. It was clear Jimmy wasn’t
going to share anything more about his Immortal, and Dean figured that
was the guy’s right. Shit, he’d probably already told Dean more than he
should’ve, broken some secret Watchers’ code, and there were bound to
“I appreciate you being honest with me.”
“Well, it’s not as if you held a knife to my throat or anything.”
flushed, but Jimmy had a half-smile on his face that said he was
teasing. “Sorry about that. I saw the sword and the tattoo, and
“Yeah. Are you going to be in trouble for telling me all this? You’re
sworn to secrecy or something, aren’t you?”
“It’s not necessary for anyone to know I’ve told you.”
Dean searched Jimmy’s face. “So does that mean you’d be in trouble if
shrugged, which wasn’t an answer at all, and Dean reached across and
grabbed his wrist just below the tattoo. “I get that you’re trusting me
with something huge, and maybe neither of us knows why exactly you’re
doing this, but you gotta know I appreciate it. I need to find who
killed Sam, but I’m not going to drag you down with me. You’ve done
enough, and hell, it’s more than I expected from anyone.”
Jimmy frowned at that. “You’re not used to anyone helping you, are you?”
“Been on my own a long time. It’s just who I am.” Dean stood up and
brushed the crumbs off his jeans. “I should get going.”
I guess. Talk to Bobby first. Then, Sam’s place.” Dean wasn’t looking
forward to that. Too many memories, and too many things that were going
to make it impossible to forget Sam was dead and gone.
Jimmy was looking at him thoughtfully. “I could go with you. If you
“You don’t have to do that. You gave me a place to crash, you gave me
somewhere to start—”
“Maybe I should’ve said I should go with you. Bobby’s not
exactly going to be happy.”
“I can handle Bobby.”
“No doubt, but he’s going to know that you know the truth.”
blinked at him; he was probably right, but Dean didn’t see the point of
assuming Bobby had some kind of built-in bullshit meter.
“Seriously, Dean, how many times in your life have you successfully
lied to Bobby?”
point taken. He’s going to know.” Dean nevertheless felt he had to talk
to him. He had things to say to Bobby. He’d trusted him to keep an eye
on Sam, to look out for the kid, and that hadn’t turned out so well. It
wasn’t that he blamed Bobby exactly, but he figured Bobby owed him
something, even if he didn’t know what. “So if Bobby figures out you
told me, what does that mean for you?”
“I don’t know,” Jimmy
said honestly, “but what’s done is done.” He stepped around the table
and put a hand on Dean’s arm. “I’ve been where you’ve been, Dean. Maybe
not exactly, but I know what it’s like to lose someone. A brother. I’d
like to help if I can.”
Jimmy was earnest blue eyes and serious
conviction. Dean didn’t know what to do in the face of that kind of
offer. He’d learned not to get too attached to people, not to rely on
them too much. People you put on pedestals inevitably came crashing
down, usually bringing the whole world right along with them. And Jimmy
was a whole lot of mysteries rolled into one seemingly ordinary guy.
His gut was telling Dean he should just leave it alone, but the part of
him that was his truest self—the part that neither his dad nor the
military had been able to stamp out—was telling him it was good to
trust somebody. He didn’t have to do it all alone. He just hoped it
wasn’t going to be a mistake.
“Okay, let’s do this,” Dean said.
He felt like he was standing on the edge of a cliff about to step off.
The smile Jimmy beamed at him as he got up, prepared to follow Dean on
his quest for Sam’s murderer, did nothing to stop that sensation. Even
worse, it made him feel something warm and foreign in the pit of his
stomach, something he hadn’t felt in a long time, something he didn’t
want to examine too closely.
He grabbed his jacket, caught the
keys Jimmy tossed to him, and headed out the door, determined to do
what he’d come here to do—find Sam’s killer—and nothing more.
Castiel waited in the hallway outside Bobby’s office and tried to
ignore the yelling coming from beyond the heavy door. On the way over,
Dean had filled him in on Bobby’s connection to his family. How Bobby
and John Winchester had been in Vietnam together—one a draftee, the
other a volunteer—and how when everything had gone down in Saigon,
Bobby’s spine nicked by a piece of shrapnel from an explosion, it had
been John who’d carried him to the choppers, fighting all the way,
bloody and exhausted. They’d made it out, less whole than going in, but
alive, and John had stayed close to Bobby all through his recovery and
after, the rare pair who kept those promises to meet up again
stateside. They’d been in and out of each other’s lives since
then—through marriages and kids, through the grief of two wives dying,
Bobby finishing up his doctorate and John opening the shop—and it made
perfect sense to Castiel that these men, so very different from one
another by Dean’s recollection, could still have forged a lasting
He understood Dean’s anger at Bobby keeping secrets,
and whether he had a right to the truth or not, Castiel felt for him.
It didn’t matter that it had always been this way or would always be
this way—that Immortals and Watchers had been circling one another in a
kind of wary symbiosis for centuries. Dean had lost a brother, and his
grief was the only thing he could grab onto and make sense of at the
Castiel looked up as a man rounded the corner, muttering
to himself as he headed straight for Bobby’s door without even a glance
around. It was Raphael’s watcher, and Castiel could feel his own
long-held secrets slipping away from him with every passing second. He
moved to block the man’s path.
glanced up, a truncated shriek falling from his lips, and turned to
run. But Castiel gripped him firmly by the arm, steering him into a
storage room at the end of the corridor. The musty smell of plaster and
rust filled his senses.
“Look, Castiel,” Chuck said, eyes wide,
and that alone was enough for Castiel to know his life here was over.
“Jimmy, I mean Jimmy! I won’t—I won’t say anything, I swear, but—”
closed his eyes and took a steadying breath. It wasn’t the first time
he’d been found out, but it was the first in this identity, and he was
tired of having to reinvent himself every time a Watcher stumbled too
“No, no, I get it, I do. Everyone knows
you hate The Game, and it was just coincidence that I was there,
watching Raphael. It’s what we do, right, we watch? But, Jesus, it’s
not like I was friends with the guy or anything. I was his Watcher,
that’s all. Raphael was a prick and he started the challenge, I saw it,
everything, and, oh God, you’re going to kill me, aren’t you?”
closed his eyes and flailed his hands weakly against Castiel’s chest,
forcing Castiel to grab him and hold him still. He didn’t want to hurt
Chuck; he’d always rather liked the nervous, paranoid scholar whose
academic articles consistently got rejected for putting forward
theories that no one else believed. There was something about him that
Castiel had always admired, and he knew that at least some of Chuck’s
crazy notions were not that far from the truth.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.
no, you’re just going to kill me. I’ve seen you with that sword, man,
and you’re wicked awesome. I’m sure I won’t even feel a thing, and oh,
Jesus, I totally get the trench coat thing now. I just thought you were
rocking the practical, blend in with the background look, but it’s to
hide the damn sword, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Oh, God, all this time I
should’ve been cultivating a fear of men in long coats instead of
worrying about whether my cell phone was giving me a tumor.”
“Chuck, I’m not going to kill you.”
Chuck stopped shifting from side to side, and looked up at Castiel.
“Why not?” Chuck stood up straighter. “I mean, I’m pleased about that,
of course, grateful even, but it begs the question.”
Castiel sighed and relinquished his hold on Chuck. “I prefer to avoid
killing anyone if possible.”
Chuck nodded with understanding. “Yeah, okay, I get that. Castiel, 5000
year old Immortal, been everywhere, done everything, seen
freakin’ everything. You’re on everybody’s hit list, man. But I know
your secret. That’s gotta mean something, doesn’t it?”
“Only if you’re planning to tell someone about it.”
Chuck’s eyes shifted nervously. “Nah, of course not.”
weren’t planning on sharing this with Bobby?” Castiel leaned forward
slightly, a menacing gesture only because Chuck was short and skittish,
and Castiel had to work to keep a self-satisfied grin off his face.
“Okay, I was, planning to tell him, but I won’t! I promise! Not now.
Not—you’re really not going to kill me?”
That’s very cool, man. Castiel. Jimmy,” Chuck said, and stepped around
Castiel as if he were some sort of poisonous snake. He headed down the
hallway, glancing back to say, “I won’t tell anyone, I swear,” just as
Dean slammed out of Bobby’s office.
Chuck squeaked and
double-timed it out of the department, leaving Dean glancing back and
forth between Castiel, lingering in the entrance to the storage room,
and the door swinging shut behind Chuck.
“Were you just in the storage room with that strange little man?” Dean
said, curiosity pushing his words.
Dean laughed. “Okay, I guess you don’t have to give up all your secrets
in one day.”
walked closer to the office where he could hear Bobby throwing papers
around. “He knows that you know? And that I told you?”
“Yeah, apparently his bullshit-o-meter is working just fine.”
not stupid,” Bobby shouted from inside. “I knew it was trouble soon as
Ellen told me Jimmy’d given you a lift. Any fool could figure out who
decided that honesty was suddenly the best policy. It’s not, by the
way, but I don’t expect either of you two idjits to understand that.”
poked his head in the doorway, trying to look remorseful, although
being honest with Dean had lifted some of the weight he carried. “I’m
“Little late for apologies, Jimmy. Best leave me
to figure out how to keep a lid on this and keep it from being a
disaster.” Bobby took off his poor boy cap, swiped at the grey hairs
dotting his forehead, then replaced the cap. “Rogue immortals killing
watchers, and the goddamn Game going into overdrive in this city.
Raphael dead last week, and Azazel this week. What’s next? Armageddon?”
“Azazel’s dead?” Castiel asked, stepping right to the edge of Bobby’s
paper-covered desk, any desire to leave forgotten.
know, if one of you would open your goddamn email instead of an ancient
scroll, my job would be a lot easier!” Bobby fumed. “Yes, Azazel’s
dead. Head turned up in the harbor. Haven’t found the rest of him yet.
It takes considerable skill with a blade to take down these old guys,
but somebody’s doing it, and they’re not wasting much time, either.”
Bobby looked Castiel up and down carefully. “You seen anything of
Castiel recently? Heard anything?”
“Well, if he’s
not the one doing it, then he’ll be a target for sure. Keep your head
on straight, your eyes sharp.” Bobby reached up across the desk, and
pulled at the lapel on Castiel’s trench coat so that he was forced to
lean in closer. “Dean’s like kin to me, Jimmy, and he’s hurtin’ bad
right now. I’d hate to see anybody do something they’d regret.”
Castiel could do was nod, embarrassed, and step back. Dean was certain
to have heard Bobby’s warning, and Castiel wasn’t sure what Dean would
make of it. He liked Dean—a lot, considering he’d only just met him.
But there was something about the man that made Castiel want to be
honest with him. It was more than just an attraction, although he
couldn’t deny the green eyes and the rough good looks were exactly his
type on this end of the gender spectrum. He also knew what he felt for
Dean wasn’t pity no matter how Dean might interpret it.
understood Dean on some deep-down basic level. He’d looked into Dean’s
eyes and seen something complex and dark, layer built upon layer to
keep the world out, to keep himself in. Castiel knew the need to keep
something terrible leashed inside, to feel regret so strong it
permeated every cell of your body. He’d seen it in far too many
Immortals over the years, playing the game until they no longer cared
about anything else. He could see that in Dean, too—that strength and
conviction, that all-or-nothing mentality that would have made him a
perfect weapon in the Marines--but it didn’t scare Castiel because
there was also loyalty and humanity and a kind of eager hope that even
war hadn’t been able to knock out of Dean. It made Castiel think there
was hope for him too.
Bobby glanced up. “Well, go on with you. Stop cluttering up my office.
And for God’s sake, stay out of trouble.”
tugged Castiel’s arm, and he allowed himself to be moved towards the
door, noting the watchful eyes that followed them. For better or worse,
Dean Winchester was someone Castiel wanted to help, and he’d do
whatever it took to find the answers that would give him peace. Even if
that meant revealing himself, something he hadn’t done voluntarily in
“You’re sure you don’t mind waiting,” Dean
asked again, leaning on the Impala’s open passenger window, but Jimmy
waved him off and pulled out a book from somewhere. Typical.
be fine. Just do what you need to do,” he said, concern evident in his
eyes. “Take as much time as you need. And, Dean, if you want—”
knew what he was going to say and as much as he appreciated it, he
couldn’t deal with the offer. “It’s something I need to do alone.”
“I’ll be here when you’re ready.”
nodded, and patted the side of the car for luck before heading up the
backstairs to the apartment Sam had lived in for the last year or so.
Dean looked at the thin wooden door as he fitted the key into the lock.
One good kick would’ve brought the thing down, and probably the walls
on either side of it. He supposed it was probably a little late to be
worrying about security now.
The door opened into a sparse
bachelor suite that reminded Dean of some of the hotel rooms he’d
stayed in on leave. The bed was a single, pushed against one wall, an
old patch quilt that had been their mother’s laid haphazardly over
lumpy sheets. Yeah, one thing they’d never been able to train into
Sammy was how to properly make a bed. As rebellious streaks went, it
was pretty minor.
Most of the place had been cleaned up and put
away already. Sam and Jess had been over for a few months he gathered,
but she’d still been leaking small tears when they’d stopped by her
office at the university to grab Sam’s extra key. She was a pretty
girl—blonde and sweet-faced, kind of innocent-looking with so much of
life clearly ahead of her that Dean had almost lost it right there in
the basement of the library where the grad students had their cubicle
farm. He would’ve if it hadn’t been for Jimmy’s reassuring hand at his
back, and the way he took the key even when Dean couldn’t, thanked Jess
for her help and told her how sorry he was, how sorry they both were.
She’d nodded, mascara heavy around her rapidly blinking eyes, and Dean
had been stupidly grateful not to have to say anything else.
he was in Sam’s space, breathing in his absence like it was a living
thing, and he was glad Jess had done the hard work for him. She’d gone
through his things, sorted them into boxes, and on Bobby’s instruction,
given away everything that wasn’t personal. Dean wasn’t going to have
to deal with trips to the Food Bank and the Salvation Army to get rid
of all the leftover parts of Sam’s life, the parts that screamed he
hadn’t been planning on checking out quite this soon.
popped the lid off the nearest box, then wished he hadn’t. There were
pictures in dusty frames, trails on the glass where a fingertip had
traced the edges of Sam’s face in fond remembrance. Dean felt like he
was intruding on Jess’s grief. He put the picture back and closed the
He stayed away from the small pile of boxes then, walking
the perimeter of the room like a tourist of some kind. This was where
Sam had eaten his meals. This was where he’d slept. Dean couldn’t quite
imagine him here. Sam seemed bigger than the place, more than it could
contain in these four walls and half dozen boxes. It wasn’t much to
show for a life that meant more to Dean than his own.
down on the edge of the bed and pulled the quilt into his arms. He
remembered sleeping with it when his mother had died, and when he’d
pressed his face into it as a boy, he could almost remember the way she
smelled. Now, it was Sam that clung to the fabric, and Dean swore at
the unfairness of it all, the goddamn fucking unfairness of
Sam’s life cut short, and it was no surprise when he looked up from the
folds of the quilt, that it was wet. He was completely and utterly
alone with his grief, and for the first and probably the last time, he
let himself mourn for Sam.
Castiel couldn’t concentrate
on the book he’d found in the folds of his trench coat. He couldn’t
even remember where he’d picked it up or why, but the story wasn’t
enough to hold his attention, knowing Dean was upstairs in Sam’s
apartment confronted by his brother’s death.
After a time, he
got out of the Impala and stretched his legs, adjusted the carrying
sword sewn in to the trench coat’s lining. He’d gotten extremely good
at concealment, at sitting exactly the right way so as to not injure
either himself or the car. He’d punctured a few too many taxi seats
before he’d figured out how to line the coat with lightweight kevlar.
Now it was second nature. The sword was simply always there, part of
his wardrobe, and it made it so much easier than trying to explain to
occasional companions why he had to grab a sword before he went out.
hairs on the back of his neck prickled with awareness, and Castiel felt
the presence of another Immortal nearby. He moved around the car to get
a better view of the building, unhooking his sword as he went. Castiel
reached out with his senses, tried to see if he could detect the
direction the Immortal was moving from, and without thinking, he
started towards the staircase that led to Sam’s apartment. Dean could
“Well, well, well. This is a surprise,” a deep, booming voice chuckled
from the alleyway behind the car.
Castiel turned to confront the other man. “Uriel.”
large black man stepped into the fading afternoon light and smiled, his
teeth gleaming like a half-moon. “I’d heard you were back, but I
couldn’t quite believe it. Some even said you’d gone and joined the
Castiel didn’t glance down at his wrist, refused to
give anything away. He kept his hand on his sword, prepared to draw.
“People say a lot of things about me.”
“Yes, they do,” Uriel
acknowledged, still grinning. “But I know you, brother. I’ve known you
from the beginning of time, and there isn’t anything you can hide from
me.” Uriel’s eyes drifted towards the first floor apartment where a
light had switched on. in Sam’s apartment.
“What do you want?”
come now, don’t be like that, Castiel.” Uriel moved languidly, every
step a graceful intimidation. Castiel held his ground. “I’m only
interested in The Game, you know that.”
“And I’m not.”
you keep saying, yet here you are, still playing after all these
millenia.” Uriel rubbed a hand along his chin. Castiel couldn’t see his
other hand, but he knew with absolute certainty it would hold a short
curved blade, the type favored by the Saracens.
“Unlike you, I’ve never been fond of killing.”
right. Poor Castiel, forced into a life of bloodshed to survive. Such a
tragedy.” Uriel laughed, and Castiel felt the ugly truth of it shake
through him. “Except we both know there was a time when it was second
nature to you, brother. Maybe even more than it was for the rest of us.”
were so damn beautiful, eyes like the sky, and your hair used to be
gold. Do you remember? They thought you were an angel sent down to
punish the wicked, and oh, did you punish them.” Uriel clucked with
satisfaction, and Castiel felt something inside him stirring. An angry,
bloodthirsty lust he thought had died in him eons ago. “The wicked and
the just alike. You killed them all, Castiel. No quarter, no mercy. And
the rest of us rode after you, just to be near that kind of power.
“It was a long time ago, Uriel. I’m not that person. I haven’t been—”
but you are, brother. I’ve seen it in you.” Uriel was standing on the
same side of the car with Castiel now, sword hanging noticeably at his
side. “That raw, misshapen thing inside you that wants to get out, that
hungers to survive at all costs. I saw it when you took our brother’s
head. When you killed Raphael.”
Castiel cast his eyes down for a
moment, wondering who else had been in the darkened park that midnight.
Chuck, Uriel. He’d gotten sloppy, careless, and if Uriel had found him,
others would too.
He looked up as Uriel raised the sword. “Come
on, brother. Show me how much you’ve changed. Show me your forgiveness
and mercy, you hypocrite.”
With that, Uriel struck, Cas almost
going to his knees to bring his sword fully out in time to block the
blow. Metal rang against metal, and Castiel used all of the strength of
his legs to push Uriel backwards, putting enough space between them
that his longer katana would have the advantage.
“I don’t wish to fight you, Uriel.”
course, you don’t.” Their swords met again, Castiel trying to move them
off the street, toward the alley. He saw a flutter of curtain at the
first-floor window and prayed Dean had the sense to stay put. It
occurred to him that was very unlikely to happen, even as Uriel
switched from sweeping blows to a stabbing thrust. Less effective with
the type of sword, but the damage was still real when the blade pierced
the flesh of Castiel’s stomach where the trench coat hung open. Blood
pooled to the surface even as his body started to repair itself.
Nothing but decapitation would end him. He knew that from long
Heavy footsteps could be heard on the creaking
wooden staircase, and Uriel didn’t even bother to turn as Dean hurtled
into view. Castiel couldn’t afford to shift his eyes to reassure Dean
he was fine.
“What the hell? Jimmy!”
“Dean, get out of here!”
shifted out of Castiel’s peripheral vision, probably back towards the
car, and Castiel hoped that meant Dean was getting as far away from him
and this mess as he possibly could.
Uriel laughed again, deep
and genuine, as he met Castiel’s eyes. “Right. Jimmy. I’d forgotten how
much you like to play dress-up. Pretend you’re normal. Bet that one
doesn’t even know you’re exactly like the freak who killed his brother.”
Castiel’s blade stopped in mid-air. “How do you know about that?”
told me. Told me the kid tried to interfere, and you know Azazel.
Strict adherence to the policy of non-interference. The boy was messin’
where he shouldn’t be.”
“Really?” The word was drawn out, Uriel’s voice steady, without a hint
killed him.” It was still all about The Game, Castiel knew. Sam had
interfered in one of Azazel’s kills and paid the ultimate price. Uriel
had won the next round, taking Azazel’s head.
“Everybody’s gotta go sometime, brother. Even Immortals.”
Dean rushed back around the corner at that moment, a tire iron gripped
solidly in one hand, a shiny silver sword in the other.
Uriel glanced at him as he stepped away from Castiel, raising his sword
in a salute.
“I like this one. He’s got spirit. It takes a certain kind of man to
bring a toy to a sword fight.”
Castiel shifted, sword ready, keeping himself between Dean and Uriel.
Uriel grinned and backed away, his voice mocking. “I know when I’m
beaten. Be seein’ you.”
He slipped into the shadows. Castiel stayed rooted to the spot,
breathing hard as Dean stepped to his side.
“Jimmy? Who the hell was that?”
punched him in the shoulder, hard enough to make Castiel turn halfway
towards him. “Seriously? You’re gonna try that bullshit on me? He’s one
of those Immortals, isn’t he? Isn’t he?” Suddenly, Dean dropped the
tire iron and grabbed a fistful of Castiel’s shirt. “Shit, you’re
bleeding. Jimmy, you’re bleeding!”
Dean’s sword scattered to the
pavement, forgotten, as he pulled Castiel’s Henley out of his jeans and
tugged it up, exposing a flawless stomach. Castiel pushed the shirt
back down, re-securing his sword, and picking up Dean’s.
“We’ve got to go. We’ve already attracted too much attention.”
Dean was staring, even as Castiel gave him a shove back towards the car
to get him moving, away from the alley.
“Was the other guy’s.”
grabbed the tire iron, stumbling into the driver’s seat, tossing the
tool on the back seat. Castiel slid in beside him, Dean’s Marine
ceremonial sword a light weight in his hand. He touched the blade with
the pad of his thumb.
“This isn’t sharp, you realize,” Castiel said, quietly. “It’s not a
didn’t realize I would need a weapon when I came to pick up my dead
brother’s stuff,” Dean said, hands gripping the wheel. “Are you
planning to tell me what’s going on?”
Castiel looked out the
side window as the engine started effortlessly. He could hear Dean’s
rough breathing, the adrenaline probably coursing through his system
just as it was through Castiel’s.
“That guy would’ve happily skewered you,” Dean said conversationally as
they moved through traffic. “I thought he had.”
“He isn’t anyone you should worry about.” Castiel ignored Dean’s
“Well, I don’t think much of his way of saying ‘hello’.”
“And he called you ‘brother.’ Interesting family history you’ve got
there, Jimmy. You’re passing really well.”
it’s fine.” Dean cruised through an amber light. “Don’t tell me. Hey,
who am I? Just some dumb nobody who doesn’t know about swords and
Immortals and Watchers and all that shit.”
“It’s not that simple.”
do you want me to drop you?” Dean sped up and burned through another
light, Castiel grimacing as horns honked behind them. He figured right
now Dean’s preferred options for somewhere to drop him probably started
with the nearest bridge and ended with the roof of a very tall building.
“I know you’re mad, but there’s no reason to—”
what?” Dean took a corner fast enough that Castiel dropped the sword
and grabbed for the door handle. “Risk our lives? Seriously? ‘Cause
what was that back there, Jimmy? I come out of Sam’s to find you
throwing down with swords in an alley with a black dude twice your
size, and you tell me it’s nothing? You’ve got blood on your
shirt and it doesn’t matter because it’s the other guy’s? So
all that honesty from this morning was crap, huh?”
“That’s not fair.”
“Yeah, well, life sucks.” Dean pulled the car to a stop in front of
Castiel’s building. “Get out.”
didn’t bother arguing, just got out and closed the door gently. He
turned around and dropped a key onto the seat. “If you want to talk,
you know where I am. And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
ain’t worth much, man,” Dean said, not looking at him. As soon as
Castiel stepped away, Dean was gone, the smell of rubber and exhaust
filling the air.
Dean didn’t know how long he drove,
but by the time the tank was screaming for more gas, traffic had
emptied from the streets. He pulled into an all night station and
fueled up. Gas for the Impala, a crappy burger and bottle of Coke for
himself. It didn’t help his mood any, and he finally picked up the key
Jimmy had left in the passenger seat. His first instinct was to toss
it, but he knew the only person who could give him answers was Jimmy.
pissed Dean off, though. He’d never liked relying on someone, and here,
twenty-four hours after meeting the guy, he already felt he needed him
too much. Jimmy had given him much more than a place to crash for the
night—he’d opened Dean’s eyes to a whole other world going on within
the one he already knew, a world his brother had been part of and which
had probably gotten him killed.
“Jesus Christ, Sammy, why’d do you have to get mixed up with this? Why
couldn’t you just be a regular geek?”
stars didn’t answer him, and the gas station attendant was looking at
him nervously from behind his bulletproof glass and metal bars. Dean
flipped him the bird and climbed back into his baby. Jimmy’s key was
burning a hole in his pocket. He sighed, hating himself for wanting to
make things right with the guy.
Jimmy had been honest with
him—or at least a hell of a lot more honest than anyone else, including
Bobby, which still ate at Dean’s gut. So maybe there were a few things
Jimmy was holding back, but he’d only known Dean a day. Maybe he should
cut Jimmy some slack.
Dean rolled down the windows and let the
night air wash over him along with the soothing sounds of Zeppelin. He
turned the car onto the highway, back towards the university and
Castiel couldn’t sleep, and after
catching himself pacing back and forth between the windows, hoping to
catch a glimpse of a black Impala, he decided he needed something else
to think about besides Dean Winchester. He was probably already at
Harvelle’s with a bottle and a lap full of company. Castiel tried to
push the thought out of his mind, unsettled by how hard it was to let
go of the hope that Dean might come back. Might be willing to listen to
what he had to say.
Castiel hadn’t always found peace in sword
practice, but these days he did. He grabbed one of the swords from the
wall of his training studio, and began gliding through the series of
movements that were as automatic as breathing. The forms were so
natural now, it left him with entirely too much time to think, and as
much as he tried to avoid it his mind kept returning to Dean.
would he have thought if he’d pushed through the heavy wooden door at
the end of the hallway and found this: the neighboring apartment gutted
and redesigned with breathtaking floor to ceiling windows turned
towards the water, opaque from the outside. At this time of night, the
windows reflected back the ambient light from outside, giving Castiel
more than enough to see by as he moved silently through the shifting
shadows. The bamboo floor was laid on cork, perfect combination of
solidity and give for training in the martial arts, and the back wall
held an assortment of weapons that most museums couldn’t match. Every
single one of them was real.
Castiel’s katana slid gracefully
through the air, moving like an extension of his body. He increased his
pace, no longer satisfied by the slow, meditative steps, wanting to
feel his heart pumping, pulse thudding in his neck, sweat gathering in
the hollow of his throat. He pushed himself harder, imagined an
opponent—Uriel worked nicely—who was bigger, stronger, and determined
to kill him. He dodged, countered, parried, thrusted. His sword carved
great arcs in the air at neck level, until finally, spent, he let the
sword fall silent at his side, demons banished for one more night.
wiped the sweat from his face with the edge of the blue Henley before
realizing it still bore the mark of Uriel’s blade and his own blood. He
turned, disgusted with himself, towards the door just in time to see
Dean walk through it, letting out a low whistle.
“No wonder Sam wanted to be a professor if this is how you live.”
stood in the centre of the room, watching Dean circle him warily,
taking in the dimensions of the studio, the silhouettes of weapons on
the wall. The sword in Castiel’s hand.
“I told you, I’m not a—”
“Yeah, not a prof. I got the memo.” Dean waved a hand to shush him.
“But you’re a hell of a lot more than you’re saying.”
stood his ground as Dean approached. “You’ve known me a day and you
already know more about me than most people ever will. Doesn’t that
count for something?”
“Yeah, it does.”
“Just not enough,
I guess.” Castiel walked over to the wall and wiped the sword blade
carefully before sliding it back into its setting. “Did it ever occur
to you that maybe I wasn’t doing it to piss you off? That maybe I had a
reason for not telling you absolutely everything about my life and how
screwed up it is?”
Dean came up behind him, placing a warm hand
on Castiel’s shoulder. He could feel the heat radiating right through
the shirt, and the shiver that raced across his skin had nothing to do
with the temperature in the room.
“Dean,” Castiel said, not turning around.
know you were trying to protect me.” Dean laughed harshly. “Do you get
how fucked up that is? I’m a goddamn Marine, tours in Iraq and
Afghanistan, top marks in sharp-shooting and hand-to-hand combat, and
you’re trying to protect me?”
Castiel bristled at that. As much
as being underestimated, blending in, was part of his plan for
self-preservation, he didn’t like to be treated like the damsel in
distress. He hadn’t needed Dean to ride to his rescue with Uriel, and
if he had, Castiel was pretty sure Dean would’ve been cut to ribbons in
front of him, and there was no way he was going to let that happen.
underestimate me.” He turned around. Dean was barely a foot away, his
outstretched hand slipping to Castiel’s arm as they moved.
“And maybe you underestimate me if you believe for a minute I was going
to leave you in that damn alley and not look back.”
“There wasn’t anything you could’ve done, Dean,” Castiel said softly,
the truth of it underlining every careful word.
“This isn’t a war.”
it is,” Castiel said, and he’d never wanted so desperately to prove
that to someone before. He reached for Dean’s face, pulled him in and
kissed him, their noses mashing together until Castiel felt Dean’s
hands grab for his hips, yank him close and position him just so,
Dean’s knee sliding neatly between his legs even as he pushed them the
few feet back towards a clear space of wall. Dean was hard, his
erection firm against Castiel’s leg, and he knew Dean was feeling him,
too, just as hard, their mouths pushing at one another, hot and brutal
in the darkness.
Castiel tugged at Dean’s shirt, pulled it up
and over with Dean’s help, who only backed off a second before slamming
Castiel back into the wall and kissing him again, wet and needy, all
pushy tongue and teeth. Greedy hands fumbled at his shirt, and Dean’s
hand slipped through the sword cut, hesitated against the dried blood
before pulling back a fraction to look Castiel in the eye.
did cut you, didn’t he?” Dean asked and when Castiel didn’t answer, he
felt the Henley tearing under Dean’s hands as he forced his fingers
through the cut to the skin beneath, finding nothing but perfection and
softly curling hair. Castiel arched under the touch as if electricity
had burned him.
“You son of a bitch,” Dean whispered against his
mouth, dropping the torn shirt to the floor, hands running over
Castiel’s chest, looking for what, Castiel didn’t know, evidence
maybe—that he wasn’t human, wasn’t a man coming apart under Dean’s
Dean’s touch was punishing, mouth kissing with a bruising
force. Castiel breathed rough and frantic around Dean’s tongue,
desperate for him not to stop, not to pull away, and he wanted so
desperately to tell him everything at that moment. Everything of who
and what he was, all the bare truths and memories that made up his
life, his lifetimes. He would give it all to Dean to keep that mouth on
his, those hands kneading his skin, that leg pressed hard against his
crotch, each deliberate shift a delicate kind of agony.
time their pants were sliding off, half-kicked, half-dragged by
reckless hands, Castiel could feel the blood rising to the surface
where Dean’s mouth was sucking at his neck. Dean was shaking when he
let go, one hand reaching for Castiel’s cock, the other gripping the
back of his neck, holding him in place while Dean fucked his mouth with
his tongue, and Castiel took it, every thrust, every obscene challenge,
and wanted more.
He got his hands on Dean, too, feeling out the
solid bulk of his back, the hard peaks of his nipples that twisted
easily under Castiel’s fingers.
“Jesus,” Dean breathed out, and
let his head fall back, Castiel’s hands sliding around Dean’s waist to
keep him close, his mouth working a path from throat to nipple and back
again while Dean palmed his cock in heavy-handed strokes.
tell me one thing,” Dean managed between ragged breaths, his voice low
and wrecked as he worked Castiel’s cock, fast and rough.
“Was it him?”
could barely concentrate on Dean’s words, his head tipped forward now,
whispering into Castiel’s ear, and Castiel’s head was pressed against
Dean’s shoulder, watching as Dean worked him, unable to tear his eyes
from the repeated action, hand sliding up and down his flesh, and it
was like his brain had short-circuited because he couldn’t make sense
of what Dean was asking.
“What?” he asked again, and Dean bit
his earlobe, sucked it hard and followed it with his tongue, hand still
pumping in the slick leaking from Castiel’s tip, and he could feel the
tight anticipation coiling in his back, the base of his spine, as Dean
stroked him harder, faster.
“Was it him? The guy that killed
Sam?” And Castiel almost pushed him away then, angry and confused, but
Dean’s mouth was gentler now, softer, and the hand that wasn’t stroking
him closer to the edge, was rubbing soft circles into his back, and for
all that Castiel had seen of Dean’s temper, he couldn’t believe this
was only to ask that question, to find an answer. He put his mouth
against Dean’s cheek, reached down and stilled the hand working his
cock, and let out a breath that was more willpower than he thought he
“Dean,” he said. There was surprise in the green eyes, and
disappointment and maybe even a little bit of fear, until Castiel
cupped his face carefully and told him in a voice whose honesty
couldn’t be doubted, “If he’d killed Sam, there’s no way I would’ve let
him walk away.”
Dean nodded, the breath he’d been holding
stuttering against Castiel’s shoulder, and Castiel took advantage of
the stolen moment to kiss Dean’s face all over, pressing his lips
against eyelids and cheek, nose, ears, the solid roundness of his chin,
before returning to Dean’s mouth and shaping his name against his lips,
repeating it with every deepening kiss until they were sprawled naked
among their scattered clothes.
Castiel found Dean’s ear and
murmured, “You should fuck me now,” to which Dean made an
unintelligible sound and dragged Castiel closer than either of them had
thought possible, and in a very few moments he’d worked Castiel’s cock
back to the edge of an orgasm that tore through him like fire, every
nerve ending hot and sensitive.
When he was spent and shaking in
Dean’s arms, Dean used the semen to slick himself and Castiel too,
pushing fingers in, not slowly enough, but not fast enough either, and
Castiel said, “no, let me” and pushed Dean back onto his heels, cock
standing erect between his solid thighs, giving Castiel something to
push down on, a slow aching goodness that split him apart as Dean’s
kisses wove him back together. He settled on Dean’s lap, cock heavy
inside him, his own spent, half-hard against Dean’s ribs, and they
clung to one another, slowly rocking, a steady shift of up and down,
until Dean was keening into Castiel’s shoulder, “Fuck, fuck, oh, Jimmy,
Castiel kissed him silent and felt Dean tensing,
muscles tightening, hands leaving bruises on Castiel’s back, and he
wanted it so badly, to share this one thing, the only constant through
all his life, so he leaned in and whispered, “Call me Cas—Castiel.”
Dean didn’t break his rhythm or even blink, just changed the pulse of
his words to “Fuck, yes, yes, Castiel, oh, Castiel, fuck, Cas,” until
in the final thrust Dean flowed into him, all energy and strength and
something that felt like the beginning of things. They sat like that,
wrapped together until Dean complained his legs were asleep, and
Castiel honestly couldn’t feel his ass except for a tingling burn, and
they tumbled apart on their wrecked clothes, rolling back together
sated and warm.
They didn’t mean to fall asleep, but their
breathing grew deeper, more even, and eventually they drifted, wrapped
naked together on the floor below the swords.
Dean opened his eyes slowly, aware that he was cold and sore, the
muscles in his back aching from a couple of hours on a practice room
floor. There was something digging into his thigh, and when he shifted,
he understood that while rivets on blue jeans were fine in theory, they
sucked when forming part of your mattress. He probably had Levi’s
stamped on his ass at this point.
Jimmy still slept, one arm
folded to his chest like a wing, and his face was serene in the pale
light. Dean eased himself onto his side and catalogued the body next to
him: tousled hair that wasn’t any more of a mess than usual, dark
stubble, solid muscles all down the lean line of Jimmy’s frame. The
skin he’d thought unmarred was far from it, and Dean had to stop
himself from leaning closer, from putting a fingertip out to trace the
raised ruin that ran down one thigh almost to the knee, the scar that
split one bicep, white and thin like a tree’s age lines. There were
smaller marks too. A healed bullet hole. Dean recognized the starburst
shape, had seen too many of them in combat, although most of the marks
on Jimmy’s flesh were long and straight. Sword cuts. Along with what
had happened the previous night with the black guy in the alley and
Jimmy’s sudden need for Dean to call him something that wasn’t supposed
to be his name, everything fell together like the pieces of a puzzle,
and Dean realized he wasn’t surprised. Life suddenly made an entirely
different kind of sense.
Jimmy stirred slightly, resettling
closer to Dean. Slowly his eyes fluttered open and Dean returned his
look with a sheepish smile for having been caught looking.
“I’m too old for sleeping on floors,” Jimmy murmured, shutting his eyes
again and wincing as he rolled onto his back.
“And exactly how old would that be?” Dean asked. The expression in
eyes was that of something caught, and Dean laid a hand against his
cheek and kissed him once, hoping that was enough to tell him it would
be okay. “You know, I like a little role-playing as much as the next
guy, but something tells me that wasn’t what we were doing last night.”
“No, it wasn’t.” Castiel pursed his lips. “I wanted to tell you.”
pretty much did.” Dean grinned at him. “Castiel.” The name felt right
on his tongue, puzzle pieces notching into place, and he said it again,
trailing his fingers through Castiel’s hair. “Cas. I knew you didn’t
look like a Jimmy.”
“It’s not funny, Dean. I’ve put you in terrible danger. Uriel isn’t
someone to take lightly.”
thought we covered that last night. I don’t need you to protect me,
anymore than you need me to protect you, apparently.” Dean traced a
knuckle deliberately down the scar at Castiel’s throat, and Castiel
stilled his hand.
“There are things you don’t know—”
“Which is so not a surprise at this point.” Dean eased over, letting
one leg settle across Castiel’s.
something called a Quickening. When an Immortal takes another
Immortal’s head, we also take their energy, some residue of their
psychic imprint. It’s like being hit by lightning made up of all that
person’s best and worst memories, and it adds to who we are, gives us
strength and skills to carry into battle.”
“So every Immortal you kill is like a power-up?”
“Something like that. Uriel’s taken Azazel, who was strong and old,
Dean, very old.”
“As old as you?”
“Only Uriel comes close to that, but the others—Azazel, Raphael—were
old by any other standard. Ancient.”
“Where’s this Raphael?”
“I killed him.” Castiel looked away. “The man you saw me with at
Bobby’s office yesterday was Raphael’s Watcher. Chuck.”
“Does he know who you are? Who you really are?”
Castiel nodded. “It’s apparently been a bad week for keeping secrets.”
snorted and buried his face against the warm curve of Castiel’s neck.
“Let’s get a shower, something to eat. I think better on a full
stomach.” He pressed a promise to Castiel’s mouth, then got to his
feet, wincing at the pop of his knees. He stretched out a hand and
pulled Castiel to him.
“I have to say I’ve always liked older guys, but this …” He trailed
off. “How old are you really?”
“Five millenia, give or take.”
nodded, although he really didn’t know how to process that information.
The man in front of him, slim and good-looking, had been
thirty-something for 5000 years. He’d seen and done more than anyone
could even imagine, and Dean was torn between feeling awed and freaked
Castiel tilted his head and looked at
Dean, blue eyes achingly bright. “I don’t know, but I’m not sorry it’s
you.” He slid his arms around Dean. “I’m not sorry at all.”
shower wasn’t that far away, but it seemed to take them forever to get
there, stopping to kiss lazily, hands sliding slow and soft, exploring,
taking time they hadn’t wanted last night. By the time hot water met
their skin, they were both beyond hard, cocks bumping eagerly in the
damp heat, tile slick against Dean’s back as Castiel pressed him into
the wall, thrust up against him, aggressive and sure until they were
both panting. It took very little to bring them both off, Dean’s teeth
leaving a faint impression on Castiel’s shoulder, a bruise blossoming
like a broken petal on the soft skin of Dean’s throat. They washed,
spattered soap and shampoo on the walls and each other, and for the
first time since he’d come to this city, Dean didn’t feel Sam’s death
like a weight around his neck. He kissed Castiel, spurred by the
revelation, and smiled as Castiel matched him in strength and
enthusiasm. It felt so right to have this.
Dean towelled off,
wrapping the blue bathsheet around his waist, and headed into the hall.
“I’m just going to grab some clothes.”
Castiel made a sound of
acknowledgement from beneath the showerhead where he was rinsing for
the last time, but Dean didn’t hear him. The sword flat against his
throat and the huge black hand covering his mouth held him fast and
“Not a word,” Uriel whispered. “Not a word, or I kill you both.”
felt a relief that he hadn’t known in centuries. Dean knew the truth,
and seemed to be taking it in stride. More than that, he wasn’t running
in the opposite direction or brandishing a sword to claim Castiel’s
head. It was a refreshing change from so much of his past love life.
Even after 5000 years, the word made him uncomfortable. He understood
it, in theory, or at least the resulting actions. Loyalty, sacrifice,
sorrow. But more often than not, what he’d seen done in the name of
love was brutal and grotesque, and he’d always thought the pulsing
human heart, blood red and beating, was the perfect symbol, although
not for the reasons most people thought.
Castiel wandered back
to the practice room, couldn’t suppress a smile at the pile of clothes
where they’d fucked and slept. He grabbed a pair of loose sweats from
the cupboard where he kept his practice clothes, tugged on a grey
university t-shirt. There was no sound from the rest of the apartment,
and Castiel wondered if Dean had crawled back onto the futon and fallen
asleep. It was still early and they’d only had a few hours of sleep.
Castiel felt the hair on his arms stand up, familiar prickling of
intensity that signalled another Immortal, and he only stopped long
enough to grab the katana from the stand before he padded silently
towards the living room.
taking in the scene with an uncharacteristic dread. Dean was on his
knees, hands clenched in the knotted towel around his waist. Uriel’s
sword tip rested on his sternum, a rivulet of blood trickling ever so
slowly down the skin of Dean’s chest as Uriel applied slight but
“Let him go, Uriel. He’s got no part in this. It’s me you want.”
Castiel moved closer, blade raised and ready.
why settle for one, when you can have both?” Uriel asked, palming the
hilt of the sword just before he gripped it tight and shoved it with
all his force through Dean’s chest.
“No!” Castiel cried out,
watching Dean’s face go white with pain and shock, his eyes looking
from the sword piercing his chest to Castiel’s face.
Dean said, dropping backwards onto his heels, as Uriel gripped him by
the shoulder and pulled the blade out again, twisting as he tugged.
Dean’s scream echoed in the loft.
Castiel flung himself at
Uriel, sword clashing with Uriel’s bloody blade, and for seconds there
was nothing but the ring of steel against steel and Dean’s harsh gasps
for breath, bloody bubbles forming on his lips.
“Hang on, Dean,”
Castiel shouted, pushing every advantage he knew, but Uriel was almost
as old and had probably killed far more men than Castiel, at least
recently, so his strikes were full of fresh vigor and technique gleaned
from a thousand battles.
Uriel laughed at Castiel’s determined
onslaught, laughed even as Dean was bleeding out on the floor, and
Castiel stopped worrying about the kill-stroke, and let his anger wash
over him. He sliced open Uriel’s sword arm in a fake to the left, spun
and slashed his cheek, Uriel’s eye welling with blood.
“This is what makes you angry? After all these years? This mortal’s
death? Oh, Castiel, how far you’ve fallen.”
parried the brutal smashes, Uriel’s technique growing sloppy with the
pain, and Castiel drove the katana’s point through his voicebox,
tearing the vocal chords. Uriel stopped laughing, and it was an
unearthly horror to watch the man attempt to scream, no sound coming
from his mouth, only blood and saliva. Uriel stumbled then, a feint
that caught a glancing blow on Castiel’s side, but it was enough for
Castiel to see how this would end. A smash to the back of Uriel’s neck,
the big man falling to his knees, and Castiel had all the time in the
world to sweep the katana across his neck, severing head from body,
Uriel’s eyes still open as the head spun to a stop at Castiel’s feet.
He ignored the urge to kick it across the room, and ran to Dean’s side,
dropping the katana to the floor even as the Quickening ripped through
Uriel’s life was long and hard, told in brutal battles and
manipulation. The pain of all that, the pleasure of killing, tore into
Castiel like a fresh wound, and he fought against it, rebelled. He
didn’t want to be part of this game any longer. He was tired of death
in all its forms.
When the sensation stopped, he ripped off his
own shirt, tried valiantly to stop the bleeding, but he’d seen enough
death to know it was too late. He sat there, Dean’s cooling body across
his lap, forehead pressed to Dean’s, and hated himself and all of his
five thousand years. Perhaps it would’ve been better if Uriel had
killed him too.
Castiel sat with Dean in his arms until he could
no longer stand it, then forced himself to start the task of cleaning
up. He brought down old sheets and covered Dean’s body lightly,
ignoring the way the blood made Rorschach patterns on the cloth. He
slid Uriel’s head back beside the body, covered him with sheets too,
and imagined how he would explain this to Bobby and to Ellen when he
couldn’t even explain it to himself.
He sorted through the
cabinet, gathered up rags and garbage bags, cleaning supplies. They had
people who could do this for them, for The Watchers who followed behind
and cleaned up the Immortals’ messes, but Castiel felt this lay on his
shoulders. He owed that much to Dean.
Suddenly, there was a
sensation that tickled Castiel’s instincts to readiness, like the
feeling of an Immortal nearby, but it was so faint, so elusive that
Castiel almost believed he’d imagined it. No one would come to avenge
Uriel—of that, Castiel was certain.
Still, the feeling niggled
at the back of his brain as he wiped blood spatters off the floor. The
awareness was stronger now, almost like a beacon, and Castiel stopped
and waited, cocked his head as if he could hear where the pulse
originated from, like divining water in a desert. He ran to Dean’s
body, tugged back the sheet, and searched for any sign of life. No
pulse, no heartbeat, no breath against Castiel’s hand, yet the
certainty that Dean was trying to come back to him nurtured a seed of
hope in him. He lifted Dean carefully and moved him to the futon where
he’d spent the first night—was it only two days ago?—when Castiel was
still Jimmy, and assumed he always would be.
Afraid to jinx
things, Castiel kept working, the rhythmic scrubbing to remove blood
from hardwood somehow soothing as the minutes ticked by and became
hours, shadows moving across the floor and folding into corners. He
dealt with Uriel’s bulk as best as he could, then called Chuck, who
talked too much and was accidentally brilliant, but also knew the best
people to get rid of a body and was terrified enough of Castiel he
probably wouldn’t tell Bobby until it was absolutely necessary.
Chuck said, surveying the mess as his two friends, bulky and silent,
worked at shoving Uriel into a body bag and hauling him away. “What
happened?” Chuck looked at Dean lying lifeless on the futon, and shook
his head. “You’re like Ground Zero man. Everyone who gets close to you,
gets dead.” The realization of that seemed to hit him, and he backed
away, eyeing the exit with longing.
“There’s something wrong with Dean.”
face did a freakish dance of musculature before settling into a frown
of incredulity. “He’s dead, Castiel. That’s what’s wrong with him. Did
you get hit in the head?”
Castiel ignored the question. “I’m
sensing an Immortal presence nearby. A faint presence, but it’s there,
and there’s no one else here.”
“Are you sure?” Chuck glanced towards the loft. “I mean, have you
“No, but I would—”
when the guys come back up, they’re totally checking this place over
because I’m not taking any chances that there’s a sword-wielding
Immortal hiding in your closet just waiting to shout, ‘there can be
only one!’” Chuck fell into a leather club chair and pulled his knees
up to his chest. “They so didn’t tell me it was going to be like this
in Watcher school. I should’ve been a librarian. Books don’t try to
Chuck’s body-haulers came back then, and he ordered
them upstairs with instructions to “look in all the places an angry,
sneaky dude with a sword could be hiding” and they did it dutifully
because Chuck was a crappy poker player, but a decent friend, and
occasionally had drunken parties where everyone got laid and generally
had a good time.
“Nothing here, Chuck,” the taller one said.
Castiel had never learned their names, and figured maybe that was best.
The other one pointed at Dean on the couch. “You want us to take him
“Yeah,” Chuck said, at the same time Castiel barked out, “No,” and
moved to stand beside Dean’s body.
then,” the guys said, backing towards the exit and nodding as if
everything made perfect sense. “We’ll let you work it out. Chuck, see
“Count on it,” Chuck said, and waved them away as he stood to confront
“Dean’s not dead.”
a 5000 year old guy, you’re a slow learner. No pulse, no heartbeat, no
breathing, not to mention the fact that about half his blood seeped out
onto that sheet over there.” Chuck leaned over and put a hand on Dean’s
chest. “See, there’s—there’s—” He stopped and knelt down beside Dean’s
body. “Holy shit, I think his heart’s beating.”
Chuck out of the way and leaned his cheek against Dean’s chest. The
rhythm was weak , but it was there, and Castiel turned his face into
Dean’s chest and laughed, relief clear in his voice. “Dean’s an
“Man, good-looking and he gets to live forever,” Chuck griped. “How is
that even remotely fair?”
gasped then, and the prickling sensation Castiel had been feeling,
became full-blown static electricity snapping the air around them as
Dean’s eyes flashed open, his hands reaching for Castiel blindly,
Castiel reaching right back.
“I was—I was—and then I wasn’t,”
Dean said, and Castiel nodded because he understood perfectly. He
pulled Dean into a sitting position, wrapped his arms around him and
held tightly, revelling in the newly-beating heart, the uneven breaths,
the barely warm skin.
“You’re one of us,” Castiel murmured, and
he heard the click of the door as Chuck let himself out more discreetly
than Castiel had thought possible.
“How? I mean, how did this happen?”
“No one really knows,” Castiel said, easing back to look at Dean’s
face, still pale, but very much alive.
“So Sam could’ve—”
doesn’t work like that. It’s not genetics or anything
understandable—the Watchers have been trying to figure it out for
thousands of years, and we still don’t know why some are called to The
Game and others aren’t.”
“The Game.” Dean shook his head. “I’ve
only been around this weirdness for two days, and I’m already tired of
it. Uriel killed me!”
“I know. And I killed him.”
Dean looked relieved. “I kind of figured since you’re still here and
he’s not. And Chuck?”
Dean muttered. “Things I’m going to have to get used to, I guess.” He
leaned back tugging the towel a little tighter around his hips. “I’m
glad you didn’t bury me, at least. That would’ve been embarrassing,
having to claw my way out of a wooden box.”
“It’s not very
pleasant,” Castiel agreed, and Dean glanced at him with sympathy.
“Dude, you have so many stories you owe me. Lifetimes.”
I’ll tell you every one you want to hear,” Castiel replied, leaning in
and kissing Dean, warmth and sweetness flooding his senses with a new
appreciation of everything Dean had to offer.
“But seriously, we’re going to have to rethink this ‘There can be only
Castiel laughed and folded Dean into his arms. “I think you’re
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