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The Light of Lebanon

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John isn’t sure how he ends up getting the guest room. He also doesn’t know if he’s grateful for it or if the private space is just making him feel more guilty. Looking at the clock - almost 2 am now - he rubs his eyes and wonders if he will get any sleep at all.

 

For one thing, he can’t be expected to sleep - not after Jack’s announcement. He should feel happy, hopeful, more driven than ever. Mary’s alive. His Mary, at least. She’s alive and breathing and it sounds like she is playing Michael and devising a plan of some sort. He should be proud of her, excited to see her again.

 

Part of him is. Part of him doesn’t want to waste another second finding her.

 

And then there’s the other part that can’t stand the idea of things falling through. He can’t stand the idea of failing. That’s the part that’s terrified he might lose her all over again. Because even though the Mary he saw burst into flames and turn into dust hadn’t been his Mary, it had still been a version of Mary - a version close enough to his that they had confused her for the one they had been looking for and vice versa. So while he felt relief his Mary was alive, he can’t just automatically stop mourning the one who had lost her life.

 

And on top of that, on top of seeing Mary burst into flames over and over and over again, he couldn’t stop thinking about the words he said to Dean. Although that had been replaying in his mind since he said them. John’s never been someone who gives an apology easily and has always had a hard time admitting that he was wrong. But he wants to. He wants to go up to Dean and say how damn sorry he is that he said those things, sorry that he rubbed salt and shit into the gaping wound left from devastating grief.

 

He hadn’t meant what he said. John knows himself well enough to know why he said the things that he had. Pain, more often than not, makes him stupid. It makes him want to dish out a little of what he’s feeling and Dean had been the one talking so he faced the brunt of hit. If it had been Sam, he would have probably found something to say.

 

But just because he hadn’t meant it, hadn’t meant to hurt Dean – or Jack for that matter, even though he sure as hell isn’t about the son of Satan being under the same roof as his family – doesn’t mean he was excused from what he had said.

 

And going by the looks of things – barely even seeing Dean in the bunker, the silence on the way to Jody’s – he hasn’t been forgiven for it either.

 

While the four teens are piled in Alex’s room and Sam and Eileen have taken Claire’s, Dean decided to take the couch. It takes everything within John to go downstairs and stand in the living room. Dean is snoring away, almost looking peaceful, which is something his son rarely looks like nowadays.

 

It would be selfish to wake him up. Dean has never been an up and ready to go kind of guy, even when you take his light sleeping into account. Yet here he is, in a deep enough sleep to make him snore and part of John is wondering if his son drank to get to that point or if it is the first time Dean is getting some sleep since they found out about the vision Patience had about Claire’s death. Either way, clearly Dean needs the rest-

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

The mumble comes from Dean, right after a loud snort that takes John out of his thoughts. He winces at the sight of his bleary, agitated, but clearly awake son and realizes that he can’t put off the conversation anymore, that he needs to at least try to smooth things over with Dean, especially if they’ll be going on a mission together, especially when they are going to try to be a complete family again.

 

“I wanted...”John starts, trailing off before clearing his throat, “I wanted to apologize. For the way I acted after we thought your mom died. I...I should have never said those things to you. It wasn’t right and I didn’t mean what I said-”

 

“If you didn’t mean it, then why did you say it?” Dean mutters. Despite the darkness of the room, the only source of light coming from the streetlight outside, John can see the hurt glare, see that the weeks separating them from the incident didn’t lessen Dean’s pain.

 

“I don’t know,” John rasped out, shifting the weight to his other foot, “I...I don’t handle pain well. I might handle a broken leg or a stab to the gut alright but fuck, Dean. I couldn’t handle seeing your mom die again, especially like that and especially when I only had a few minutes with her after missing her for decades. I lost control and I was lashing out at the first person who tried help and that was you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I threw that hurt onto you. I never should have done it.”

 

John hears Dean swallow as he sits there, not quite meeting his eyes as he clears his throat.

 

“You know I haven’t been doing well. There are days where I don’t even want to wake up and you pretend to care but you don’t.”

 

“I do care,” John stresses, taking a step closer, his nails digging into the palms of his hands as he clenches his fists, “I’ve been worried sick about you since I woke up in that damn hospital courtyard and it’s just gotten worse since I found out how down and devastated you’ve been. I fucked up. Badly. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t accept my apology since I can’t even forgive myself for being such an asshole. But I want to offer it anyway. You deserve one.”

 

John lets out a breath and runs a hand down his face, “I just wanted to tell you that. Before we go and get your mom. I don’t expect things to be as good as new between us. I know it will take time and effort on my part. But I don’t want you thinking that I set out to hurt you like that out of some cruel need to break your heart. I...That’s the last thing I want to do to you. I told myself when I came back that I would be better. Drink less, put you boys first, take care of you. I failed. I failed, Dean, and I’m sor-”

 

“Jesus Christ, if I hear another apology come out of your mouth I’m gonna start throwing punches!” Dean growls, putting his head into his hands before looking back up, “Again.”

 

John nods, biting onto the inside of his cheek to keep his mouth shut. And hell, isn’t that harder than he’d thought it would be? Considering he’s never been a man of too many words, he figured he would have run out of steam by now. But he’s said his piece and then some. The ball is in Dean’s court. But still, John wishes he knew what to expect. Whether Dean plans on making a shot, throwing the ball back to him, or just dropping the ball and walking off the court-

 

“I’m going to need some time,” Dean says suddenly, pulling John back to attention, “I don’t know what to say to you. At all. You’ve...You’ve said a few messed up things to me in the past, usually when you were drunk off your ass. You’ve made me feel like I’m two feet tall. But you were sober that day. I get that you were in pain. I know what you were feeling, alright? I know.

 

John looks away at that point, can’t even meet his son’s eyes. Because John knows Dean knows. He’s witnessed it himself.

 

“I’m not,” Dean continues, before letting out a humorless laugh, “I’m not unlike you, you know. Sam may have had your temper and stubbornness for a long time, but I’m not some black sheep or whatever. I took out my pain on Jack. Blamed him for what happened, made him cry. I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to making it up to him. I don’t know how I’ll make it up to Sam for all that he’s done for me since Cas died. If I asked either of them what I could do, they would brush it off and tell me it’s okay.”

 

Dean takes a deep breath then, closes his eyes and shakes his head before staring back at John, “But I’m not them. I’ll have your back when we go to rescue Mom. I’ll take a bullet for you if it comes down to it. But it’s going to take more time than a one-sided heart to heart lasts for me to get over what you said. I’m the stubborn one now. I hold a mean grudge. I’m not the pushover I used to be. Sorry if you were hoping for somethin’ different.”

 

With that, it’s made clear that the conversation is over, as much as John doesn’t want it to be - out of the intense need to patch things up completely or his sudden need to feel even more beat down, he’s not sure. But Dean’s already lying back down, turned on his side to face the back of the couch and not John. There’s nowhere else this conversation can go. Not tonight.

 

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Sam lets out a breath as he drops his phone back onto the nightstand and puts his arms back around Eileen.

 

“What’s wrong?” she mumbles, eyes still closed. Sam’s not sure how he’s supposed to get his answer across that way, so he just gently pries one of her eyelids open until she’s agitated enough to give him a look.

 

You serious right now?” she signs. Sam can only give an innocent shrug in return before letting out a groan.

 

“My dad texted me,” he says to her, signing his words, “He went to apologize to Dean and Dean didn’t really forgive him. Holding a grudge, I guess.”

 

“Is that normal for Dean? Is he the type to hold grudges on the regular?” Eileen yawns, staring up at Sam.

 

Sam thinks about it for a moment, “Pre-Hell, no. Post-Hell, yeah. Sort of. He became a lot more jaded. I betrayed him in a lot of ways after he came back and I think it damaged him a lot. He was a mess and I should have been taking care of him. It’s been harder for him to let things go since then-”

 

“Wasn’t that almost a decade ago?” Eileen interrupts, propping herself up on Sam’s chest, “Dean’s had time to heal some, to work on the way he responds to things. Him holding a grudge over what your dad said to him isn’t on you. In fact, it really is within his right this time around to not immediately forgive and forget. It can take a long time to completely forgive someone, no matter how sorry they are.”

 

“I guess,” Sam mutters before Eileen presses a few kisses against his cheek.

 

“Like I said, this isn’t on you. Don’t let yourself become the middle man,” Eileen orders, running her fingers through his hair, “Be there for both of them. Listen. But don’t let them talk you into running messages back and forth between them.”

 

Sam lets out a huff and shakes his head, “It would make things even. Who knows how many times Dean did the same thing for me back when I was a teenager. I probably owe him one.”

 

Eileen gives him a look and taps his cheek, “You’ve done so much for him since Cas died. I’ve seen some of it myself. You’ve repaid him. Let them work it out. It’ll take time. I know it’s been strained, but it’s not on you to stress out over it.”

 

Sam glances down at her with a small, tender smile, cradles her face, and lifts it away from his chest to bring her in for a kiss. Eileen hums and returns it, her body flush against his before suddenly breaking it off.

 

Sam doesn’t whine about it. Not once.

 

“Claire told me that if we had sex in her bed, she would skin us alive and make a leather coat from our flesh,” Eileen tells him casually, as if a threat of that caliber is perfectly normal.

 

Sam grimaces in disgust, “Claire needs to start seeing a psychiatrist again if she feels like that’s a valid and well warranted threat.”

 

Eileen nods thoughtfully as the corner of her mouth quirks upward, “Yeah, well. Girl pact and all. Nothing can break that.”

 

Sam stares at her for a moment, then clears his throat, “Not even one for the road before I go off to a different dimension?”

 

Eileen’s eyes soften before she presses a kiss against Sam’s jaw, “Why need a goodbye fuck if I’m going with you?”

 

Eileen has a way of taking him by surprise. From her strength to her way with Jack, to the fact that she chose him out of all people, all the way to her shocking one liners.

 

That though? That has him scrambling out of bed and turning on the light.

 

“Eileen, no,” Sam objects, on his feet with his shoulders squared as he looks down at her, “You’re not coming. It’s too dangerous.”

 

Sam knows he’s pissing her off, he knows her tells well enough to figure out her pursed lips and clenched jaw are NOT good signs. But Eileen forces herself to smile at him, a smile almost patronizing in its demeanor before she sits on the side of the bed to fully face him, legs crossed.

 

“Sam, are you going to an alternate universe to save your mother?”

 

“You know I am. But-”

 

“And Jack, the boy who has been calling me mom for about a month now, is going too?”

 

“If I had it my way, he’d stay right here-”

 

“But he’s not, is he?” Eileen interrupts, holding up a hand, “The two of you are going, along with John, Dean, and that Kaia girl. And by the looks Claire has been giving her, I wouldn’t be surprised if she fights her way through the portal either.”

 

Sam shakes his head, almost frantically, as he begins to form his fingers into the words coming through his mouth, “That doesn’t mean you have to put your life on the line for us, for my family. You got hurt once because of me. I’m not letting it happen again.”

 

Sam’s voice cracks on the last word as he takes in a sharp breath to recover. Eileen stares at him patiently for a few moments, then stands up, walks over to him, and takes his hands.

 

“That wasn’t your fault either,” Eileen says softly, “That was on the British Men of Letters. That was on Dagon for evaporating off somewhere and making me look like a bad shot. My death was not because I cared about you.”

 

Sam can’t meet her eyes, not yet, but Eileen doesn’t give her much of a choice as she reaches up to grab his chin, forcing him to look down at her.

 

“I love you,” she says softly, “You and Jack are my family, your brother and father too. I never expected something like this, to feel safe and loved and to be welcomed into someone’s life like you and your family have done for me. Before you, I hadn’t wanted something like this for a long time. But you’re different, Sam. You’re worth the risk. And if I don’t take the risk, stick around here, and you guys don’t come back? I’ll be absolutely devastated. But even more so? I’ll be bored.”

 

Sam has to roll his eyes at that. The fear and panic is still clawing at his chest, yet a huge burst of affection is managing to seep in along with it. But despite never being the best actor, he tries to hide that and not back down.

 

“I can’t lose anyone else, Eileen,” Sam says to her, reaching to brush her hair out of her face, “I’ve lost too many people already. Friends. Family. Other women I cared about. You. I can’t go through losing you again, especially now that we’re more than we ever were before.”

 

Eileen gives him a look, hard and unyielding, “I think you’re underestimating me. Is it because I’m a woman?”

 

Sam takes a step back, offended, and shakes his head, “No. You know I’m not like that-”

 

“Is it because I’m deaf?”

 

“Eileen, no. Look, I won’t deny that the idea of you hunting without one of us as back up makes me nervous sometimes, but you hunted for years on your own. I know you’re capable.”

 

Eileen nods seriously, pursing her lips, “Then it’s because I’m short.”

 

Sam lets out a groan, “Don’t you know it’s because I love you too? Don’t you think that’s enough of a reason for you to stay here? So that I won’t be out of my mind with panic and worry over something happening to you?”

 

Eileen smiles at him softly, then pats his cheek, “No. But thanks for returning the I love you. I thought you were going to leave me hanging. Now get some rest. We’re traveling to another universe tomorrow.”

 

All Sam can do is stare at her as she turns on her heel and climbs back into bed.

 

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Eileen wakes up not only before Sam, but before the sun. Both cases are usually a rarity. Maybe it’s because part of her feels Sam and Jack may sneak off without her to discourage her. Maybe it’s because she’s still worried about the kids, especially if an angel tried to kill her son.

 

Son. Son. How can one word feel so foreign and natural to her all at once? Is it because Jack sort of just jumped into her life unexpectedly, basically making it so she became an adopted parent overnight? Is it because she thought she would never have kids? She hasn’t thought about being a mother for a long time, not after Brady, not after he found her, assaulted her, and caused her to miscarry. She never interacted with kids much before, not since she had been one herself. She never planned to be a mom before she got pregnant. But a decade ago, for just a few months, she had wanted it. She tries to forget about that, tries not to think about it.

 

But some days it’s hard. Occasionally she will have a day where it takes nothing for her to think about it. How she had stabbed Brady in the face to get him off of her. How she had run to her car, gritting her teeth with pain. How she thought the blood between her legs was somehow his and not hers…

 

She hadn’t been showing much but she had been nineteen weeks along. He had been Brady’s, the result of coercion and manhandling, filled with grunts and snarled insults on his end, her still, prone form the only indication that she technically consented. But the baby had saved her. Two pink lines had given her 22 year old self the courage to leave, to sneak out in the dead of night in order to lie low and start a new life for herself. She may have been alone then, something that had held her back before. But despite leaving the man who had once appeared to love her a year before, she felt more supported by the baby in her womb than she had by that baby’s father in months. That baby had strengthened her spirit and drive. It never tried to break it down.

 

To be somewhat fair to Brady, she never told him she was pregnant. She couldn’t help but hold that secret in even as he found her and attacked her. Because as much as she wanted to keep the baby safe, she knew she wouldn’t be able to if Brady found out and forced himself into their lives.

 

So he never found out. Not after she stabbed him and not after she drove herself to the hospital in the next town over, where she had to deliver her dead son. She had him cremated, his ashes put in a necklace, one shaped like the Tree of Life with Eamon engraved on the back. Protector. That’s what the name meant. She had decided on it early on, found it at the library in some book simply titled Irish Names. She had decided on Saoirse for a girl, which meant freedom and liberty.

 

She hadn’t known either way what the baby was until she had been induced and held her child in her arms. Despite picking out names for either outcome and how her son, despite not being fully developed, looked like an Eamon, both of the names she had loved now had a meaning of death and loss.

 

But she still wants the necklace back, despite that. For all she knows, it’s in some evidence locker somewhere in South Carolina - if they didn’t just toss it out. There wouldn’t be a reason not to. With the exception of Sam and Dean and a couple of friends who still think she’s dead, she left behind no one with enough pull in her life to take control of the arrangements. Writing out a will when the most expensive thing you own is a used car seemed pointless before she died. But now she wishes she had left the necklace to someone, had made a point of telling anyone that it had been important to her. Left it to Sam, even if she never had and possibly never will tell him about who is inside of it.

 

She turns onto her side to stare at Sam, to try to get her mind off of the intrusive thoughts. He’s sleeping soundly. Most people wouldn’t, but most people haven’t faced the horror that Sam Winchester has. With his mother being alive after all, he might be more at ease and optimistic. Eileen gently plays with a stray strand of hair in his face, pushes it back, and leans over to press a kiss against his temple before carefully getting out of bed to brush her teeth and shower. If they were going to be gone for the full three days, then who knows when she would get a chance to do those things again?

 

Once she’s downstairs, she can’t help but be surprised that she isn’t the only one up this early. But with Dean and Jody as panicked and frustrated as they had been and Claire being as defiant, she shouldn’t be all that shocked that the power struggle is continuing.

 

She can make out some words from where she’s standing, just enough to come to the conclusion that she’s on the mark - that Claire refuses to be left behind if they are taking Kaia. There’s something going on there, some sort of history. But Dean and Jody don’t seem to be very focused on that, on finding out why this is so important to Claire. Jody at least seems sympathetic over Claire’s fears, standing there against the counter with her back pressed against it, her body language hopeful and what Eileen can only describe as motherly. But Dean’s fears over Patience’s vision seem to block any compassion and understanding from coming out of him as he sits at the kitchen table across from Claire like an interrogator. But despite his focus on being stern and not backing down from Claire’s demands, he’s the one who spots Eileen first.

 

“Good morning,” he signs as soon as he spots her, only giving her a glance, “Maybe you can talk to her. Tell her she’s being stupid for wanting to put herself at risk.”

 

Wow. Okay. Eileen’s impressed. She can’t help but wonder if all that time Dean spent in his room after his fight with John did him some good. It’s not perfect ASL, but it’s pretty good SEE. Even Sam is still using the latter for longer sentences.

 

“Why do you think she’s stupid?” she signs as she walks over to the pot of coffee to pour herself a mug, opting to use her voice to continue, “She’s not a child. Kaia is apparently someone she cares very deeply for. Kaia doesn’t know any of us. She’s probably quite afraid. Claire wants to keep her safe.”

 

“Thank you!” Claire says as she signs once Eileen turns around, “See? Eileen gets it. I want to keep Kaia safe. I told her I would protect her. I’m not backing down from my promise.”

 

“And who is going to protect you, Claire?” Dean says as Eileen follows his lips closely, “There are things there that even Sam and I are going to have a hard time going up against. I wish I didn’t have to bring Kaia, I really do. But the only people who need to go are me, Sam, Dad, Jack, and your friend. No one else, and especially not you. Not with Patience’s vision.”

 

Before Claire can open her mouth to argue, Eileen holds up a hand, “Actually, I’m going too.”

 

Dean gives her a look, “No, you’re not. Sam would be so against it. He’s not going to risk losing you again. Look, this...this doesn’t have to do with either of you. Just stay here.”

 

“I already won the argument with him last night, Winchester,” Eileen shrugs, bringing the mug up to her mouth, “If you’re taking Sam and Jack, then it is my business.”

 

Dean leans down and puts his head in his hands before sitting back up, “Jody, talk some sense into them.”

 

Eileen turns her head and watches Jody let out a breath, “I don’t think there is much else to say. Eileen’s her own person. She’s become Sam’s partner and Jack’s mother. I wouldn’t stay back if I were her either. As for Claire…”

 

Jody takes a long look at the girl as she shakes her head, “I don’t know the whole reason of why you’re so adamant, but I do know the difference of someone who just wants to prove they’re capable and someone who truly cares. I know this isn’t just to prove you can hunt, to challenge yourself. And Eileen’s right. You’re not a kid. As much as I want to keep you here and keep you safe, I know that I can’t always do that. But if you have to do this, if you need to stay by this girl’s side...then I’m going with you.”

 

Claire stands up to quickly walk over to Jody, throwing her arms around her. Eileen’s too busy watching the scene that she doesn’t even catch whether Dean has anything to say or not before he storms out of the kitchen.

 

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Jack hates tension. He really hates it. There’s been tension between him and Grandpa for weeks, even though Jack doesn’t blame Grandpa for saying the things that he did, not really. He knows Grandpa feels bad, especially over the stuff he said to Dean. Jack forgives him, but he doesn’t know if Grandpa wants that. He knows that Grandpa does want Dean’s forgiveness though. From the looks of things - from the feel of things - Jack can tell that Dean is still mad at him, not ready to forget about the words that caused so much pain. But Dean’s not only mad about that now. He seems to be mad at everyone. Claire, Jody, Mom. He even seems a little agitated with Dad.

 

Jack sort of understands why. He would like to keep Claire and Jody safe. He especially wants to keep his mom and dad safe. But the way he sees it, he feels like he can protect them if they’re with him. If they stayed here and something bad happened, Jack wouldn’t be able to bring them back until he returned. If he could bring them back. It’s never a definite with him. He doesn’t really care about his powers otherwise. Creating things out of thin air and traveling around the world is useful. It’s fun. At times, Jack does it to show off or annoy Claire. But he can lose all of that if it came down to it. The only powers that he needs to keep for as long as he’s alive are the ones that keep his family alive.

 

He can’t fail like he did last time. He can’t.

 

So he’s neutral about them coming. There may be more dangers in the other world, but at least he will be there if one of them gets shot or stabbed or their neck broken.

 

The only person who everyone wants to come but is not is Patience. One word out of Grandpa has Missouri looking like she wants to push him through the portal by himself and close it back up before anyone else has a chance to get through. She doesn’t do that, but she does put her foot down. She makes a good point by saying that something like this shouldn’t be Patience’s first venture into hunting.

 

Jack can understand that. Even though Patience’s focus on the other universe would come in handy, that advantage isn’t worth risking her life. She could stay back with Missouri; with Donna and Alex. The four of them can protect each other while he’s gone.

 

He can’t worry about them now. Not when he’s gripping onto Kaia’s head as she screams, not when he has to get her to focus on where they need to go. From what he sees in her mind - from vast waterfalls to dinosaurs to the place that Kaia fears the most - there’s a risk here. A risk they’ll end up in the wrong place. A risk that they’ll land in the middle of danger.

 

So when the portal appears and it’s time to step through, Jack holds onto his mother’s hand tightly as he leads the way, hoping they’ve gotten the right place. The first step he takes is onto dry, cracked dirt that goes on for miles. This world looks the same as the last one they were in, although Jack knows that it’s supposed to. But once Dean, Claire, Jody, and John step through and they’ve all gathered their bearings, Jack realizes that the place they’ve been let out this time and the place they were let out last time are different. There’s not much around, but there are some dead trees sprouting from the ground in various places, they’re facing east and not west. And as they walk together, on guard and alert, they find grass.

 

“This way,” Jack says, gesturing over with the gun that still feels foreign in his hands as he begins to walk forward. At first, it’s nothing impressive. A few blades shooting up from the dirt here and there, the occasional weed or dandelion popping through the cracks. But then it gets thicker. A few grows into a patch and a patch grows into an area. And once they reach the hill, they come across lush, thick, tall grass covering the mound. Once they climb to the top, logs and branches that are stacked perfectly against each other to create a fortress smack dab in the middle of various flowers, vegetables, and fruits come into view.

 

“Who do you think is in there?” Jack asks, turning around, “Mary?”

 

The other seven look at him with confusion before looking at each other. Dad clears his throat and squints past Jack, “Buddy, what exactly are you seeing?”

 

Jack gives his dad a confused look before turning back around to stare at the structure.

 

“I’m going in,” Jack decides, walking forward, “Someone we know is in there. There has to be. Stay here. I’ll be back and figure out how to get you inside once it’s safe.”

 

“Jack, wait!-”

 

Jack’s never been the greatest at following orders. He tries, but if he thinks he can fix things or if he can get ahead? He goes ahead and does it. He doesn’t do it out of disrespect, but he can withstand a lot more than they can. He can take the risk and face the consequences. There’s no reason for him to be afraid.

 

But once he ducks under the branches and finds himself face to face with a stone faced and armed Jody Mills? He starts to rethink his approach.

 

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Ever since Crowley became human in this hellhole of an Earth, he tries to find solace in his necessities.

 

Despite living with people who possibly clash worse than the demons under his reign ever had, he loves his home. Besides Hell itself, it’s warmer than what he’s ever been used to. Although in some ways, in the ways that it counts, the bunker is warmer than Hell ever had been.

 

Even though there are times when he wants to bash his mother’s head in, stab Gabriel with an archangel blade, or behead the ever moralic Benny, he knows he considers them family. He knows that he loves them too. Although he’d rather choke than say it.

 

And then there’s Garth.

 

From the wife he had back when he was alive the first time around, to a long line of trysts he had with a series of men, a handful of women, and the occasional few who fell somewhere in between, he’s never felt love. Not until he met Garth. Crowley would have never expected to care for him the way that he has, even if Garth hadn’t been the one to capture him, purify him, and piss him off in the process. But he had been. Garth purified his soul and blocked the angels and demons from completely annihilating the planet. And while Crowley just rolls his eyes whenever Garth says that this huge act of heroism hadn’t been the most important thing, that teaching Crowley ‘how to love’ had been, the claim remains true. Garth had been the one who taught him how to love.

 

If he hadn’t been, Crowley wouldn’t be feeling the ache in his chest as he watches Garth sleep.

 

As if his partner senses his gaze, Garth shifts onto his side with a hum, cracks open an eye, “What time is it?”

 

Crowley glances at the ever ignored alarm clock on the table by Garth’s side of the bed, “Just a little past 7. Get another hour or two of sleep. You deserve it after last night.”

 

Garth laughs a little at that, then leans in to nuzzle Crowley’s beard, “You weren’t so bad yourself. If anyone should be rewarded with a late morning, it’s you. You took my mind off things. Got me to chill out. You’re the only one who can do that, you know. Weed and pills have nothing on you.”

 

Crowley lets out a sigh as he runs his fingers through Garth’s hair, “If getting your cock inside of me keeps you from having to be high the majority of your life, then I might as well go legs up right now.”

 

Garth gives him an amused look before leaning in to kiss him, chaste and sweet.

 

“Maybe later. Seems to me like you were too preoccupied watching my beautiful self snooze away. What was it that drew you in? The slight shadow of stubble lining my face? The way the sun touched my hair and made it shine?”

 

“We’re underground, darling,” Crowley yawns as he takes Garth’s hand, pressing it against his lips before lying down on his back, their interlaced fingers flush against his chest, “Get some rest.”

 

Garth stays silent. No ‘I love you’ or sarcastic jab or move to curl into Crowley’s side. Crowley has only been open about his relationship with Garth for a few months, but they quit beating around the bush a year ago. He knows the man’s tells, he knows when something is bothering him. While he’s seen Garth high out of his mind due to the hopelessness or crying from witnessing another tragedy and it makes his heart break, he knows what to do then. He never knows where Garth’s head is at when he’s silent.

 

“What are you thinking about?” Crowley murmurs, staring down at their linked hands as he brushes Garth’s knuckles with his thumb.

 

Garth lets out a breath, then detangles his hand from Crowley’s. He turns onto his side before scooting over until his head rests just beneath Crowley’s chin. Crowley inhales Garth’s scent as he wraps his arms around his lover.

 

“Do you think Mary and Nora are okay?” Garth asks, his tone laced with worry, “We haven’t heard from them since they took off.”

 

Crowley lets out a sigh, “I don’t know, love. I want to say yes. That they’re hiding and have found the angel. But I don’t have the connections to know that for sure anymore.”

 

Garth is silent for a moment before he says his next words, “...Do you feel...Do you miss it? Those connections? That power? What I took away from you?”

 

Crowley doesn’t know how to answer that. On the one hand, he has always hated most demons, even when he was one. He had been pushed into the role of King once Lucifer died, and he had only taken it because he feared how bad things might get if someone more bloodthirsty claimed the throne. And although that eventually did happen once Crowley became human, the new king’s rule was and still is extremely limited. No new demons can be made. Hell is locked up tightly so the ones still in Hell are there for good. Their only hope for the continuation of their race are the cambions they are trying to make. And Crowley is glad he isn’t a part of that mess. He’s relieved that he isn’t causing the deaths of innocent girls and women to try to create these hybrids. The thought brings his humanity outrage, heartbreak, and shame.

 

He doesn’t miss the terror, but he sometimes misses not feeling the pain that comes with humanity. Demons aren’t completely heartless. They can bring themselves to care for others, to devote themselves to a higher power, even if that love and devotion is usually self-serving. Those who feel love, glee, and excitement can feel the opposite emotions as well. It’s just that all of them are so muted.

 

Sometimes he misses that. The static that covers the worst of it. Because experiencing sadness, fear, and grief as a human can be debilitating.

 

Love can be debilitating.

 

While his love for Garth still remains a driving force for him, a force that gets him out of bed every morning so that they can spend each day together, the thought of Garth getting hurt - getting killed - makes him feel like he can’t breathe.

 

That had happened before, the former. Garth had been touch and go seven months ago. Rowena, Gabriel, and Kali had been off becoming one with nature and had been unreachable, so whether or not Garth would heal came down to his sheer force of will and mortal first aid. Crowley had been in a panic, couldn’t leave Garth’s side even if he tried. He’s pretty sure that’s when the rest of their family started to suspect what their relationship was really about. Garth had woken up after two days. He had moaned and groaned as he pulled himself into consciousness. But once he had, Garth had looked at each and every single one of them before meeting Crowley’s eyes, tilting his head, and saying, “Damn. You all look like hell. What did I miss?”

 

And that had made Crowley sob. Uncontrollably. Demon Crowley hadn’t sobbed. King of Hell Crowley certainly hadn’t either. And although it has been centuries since he was officially Fergus Macleod, he’s pretty sure he barely shed a tear back then as well.

 

He misses the emotional control. He misses not having the fear of mortality gripping Garth and taking him away.

 

But those are the only two things.

 

“I miss it a lot less than I thought I would,” Crowley whispers, “If given a choice between becoming a demon again and staying with you, you win every time.”

 

Garth lets out a touched, surprised sound as he picks his head up, “I would choose you every time too, dude.”

 

Crowley feels a crooked smile form on his lips. It has to look ridiculous on him. Foreign. Garth has always had a tendency to bring out new sides of him that Crowley never knew existed.

 

“You better choose me,” Crowley warns him, bringing Garth’s face a little closer, “You would make a terrible demon.”

 

Despite the size of the bunker, living with several people can often mean a lack of privacy. Crowley really should be used to the occasional barging in by now. But when Jody Mills comes dashing in looking confused, cautious, and slightly frantic, Crowley wants to throw a fit until the woman opens her mouth.

 

“We have company,” Jody says, averting her eyes as Garth rolls off of him, “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not.”

---------------------------------------------------

Rowena likes dates. They’re hard to come by, especially ones that aren’t in war torn areas of the world or in places where they’ll attract too much attention. She can’t blame people for staring, three beautiful and immortal beings with fabulous romantic and sexual chemistry. Although these places are hidden gems not easily accessible to your average Joe, she’s lucky enough to have a partner who can travel around the world at the blink of an eye and take his two lovers with him. She’s lucky enough that the three of them don’t get jealous of each other, that she’s free to have a night of whirlwind romance with Gabriel or a fiery and passionate encounter with Kali. But most of all, Rowena likes it when they’re all together, enjoying each other’s company. It’s best to look at the bright side of things nowadays, especially if it is only a matter of time that Michael finds them and kills them all. Until then, she wants to spend the remainder of her days indulging in her carnal desires.

 

So honestly, she really does not like it when she’s interrupted from her orgy planning, especially when she’s interrupted by her son. She regrets creating that connection. Letting the guilt of her son’s partner almost dying get to her had been out of character. But she’s never done well with tears. They annoy her. Due to the life they live, she wouldn’t be surprised if Garth had a close call again in the future. She does not want to be wiping her son’s snot from his face in the event that Garth would pass over before they got to him. She had abandoned her son for a reason. Emotional support has never been her strong suit. It’s best to be available in order to avoid that.

 

But that does not mean he should be calling her just to talk.

 

“What do you want?” she asks, frustration saturating her voice as soon as she opens the compact mirror to speak to her son, “Don’t you know that I’m on vacation?”

 

“I’m sorry,” Fergus says, not sounding very sorry at all, “I was under the impression that you were trying to find weapons that could defeat Michael. I thought you were trying to find Mary and help her.”

 

Rowena lets out a groan, “I can multitask. It’s important to have a work-life balance, ya know! As for Mary, I doubt she’s gone too far. I may have made her and hopefully that baby untraceable but it’s not like either of them can fly. Now if you’re finished judging, I have plans-”

 

“The nephilim’s here,” Fergus interrupts her, “And he brought along clones of Jody Mills and Eileen Leahy, two teenage girls, and Mary Winchester’s sons and husband. Strange. I was under the impression that John was dead, the way she spoke about him.”

 

Rowena freezes at the words, her muscles tensing up as she takes a wheezing breath in, “Lucifer’s son is in the bunker?”

 

“Seems to be that way,” Fergus sighs, “He’s surprisingly not very threatening. He’s just...bigger than what I imagined. When we prepared ourselves for him to make his way over here to find his father, I always thought it would be an infant crawling around and leaving destruction in his wake. Not someone who looks like he could be graduating from high school tomorrow.”

 

Rowena glares down at her invitations with frustration and dismay, “Damn it. I’ll go fetch Gabriel and Kali and be there soon. Just...don’t turn your back on him. Keep your guard up.”

 

“See you soon, Mother,” Fergus says, then walks away from his respective mirror. After Rowena closes her compact and puts it back in her pocket, she pushes the invitations off of the desk and into the trash.

------------------------------------------------

Sometimes karma can be so sweet.

 

It’s not that Lucifer wants to hear whispers that his brother is distraught over Mary’s disappearance, it’s that he wants to see it in person. He wants to see the betrayal, worry, upset, anger, and pain, before rubbing it in Michael’s face that he lost his only friend as he tortures him. He would finish off the torture by finding Mary and disemboweling her in front of Michael. Because as upset as his brother seems to be with Mary, Lucifer wouldn’t feel the hurt radiating off of him all the way in his cell.

 

Lucifer could watch the confusion, grief, and outrage fill Michael’s eyes before they started to bulge from Mary’s intestines being wrapped around his neck.

 

It’s funny, because he hadn’t planned on killing Mary - at least not immediately. But she left him to rot in this cell. Unless she comes back with an army to break him out, then she would be dead to him. If he and Michael were on better terms, he might suggest some brotherly bonding, an opportunity where they could torture her together. Because in some ways, he and Michael are in the same boat. Michael’s crushed because he had trusted her to stay loyal - to be his confidante and friend. And while that kind of relationship had never and will never happen between Mary Winchester and himself, he thought they had an understanding. She smuggled in what he needed in order to to contact his son, put her life and status with Michael at risk.

Not that he had given her much of a choice, but still. It had been a sign of forced solidarity. He could be courteous like that.

 

Although, there is one good thing about her disappearance. Michael hasn’t been around at all. He’s too busy trying to find her and the cambion. Lucifer has to wonder if this alternate version of his brother will kill her on sight, or if he’s been softened enough by her to be manipulated once more. Frankly, Lucifer doesn’t care. While Michael and several other high ranking angels not being there works in his favor, Michael running off after a human bitch who infuriates him all because of some little crush does wonders.

 

It makes him angry.

 

And while he’s not at full power – while he has so much more healing to do – he has just enough to break through the warding, kill the three angels in his way, and make it into the outside world.

 

And as soon as he does that? As soon as he has time to breathe? He senses his son. It’s only for a mere moment, so short that Lucifer can’t give a guess on where he’s at, but it’s long enough to know that his boy isn’t too far.

 

“Son.”

-------------------------------------------------------

As soon as Dean meets this world’s version of Jody Mills, one similarity is clear: Both of them can be terrifying.

 

“Sit down” is the first thing that comes out of her mouth once she gets them inside, but the feel of a shotgun pressing into his back is what really gets him to listen. The fact that she can get all eight of them to listen surprises him, even though it shouldn’t. Their Jody has a similar way about her.

 

But while complying with getting tied to chairs in warded interrogation rooms is frustrating – Dean really does have to wonder if their Garth is as good at tying people up as this one is - it is needed if they are going to get any answers, if they are going to get this group to trust them.

 

“I suppose nothin’s gonna work on you, huh?” Garth says to Jack, giving him a once over, “Being an alleged nephilim and all.”

 

“I believe…” Jack starts, seeming cautious, “I believe there are one or two things to debilitate me slightly-”

 

Sam stomps his foot loudly and clears his throat, “But Jack doesn’t know what those things are. Do you, buddy?”

 

As Jack gives Sam, Dean, and Eileen a strange look, Dean shakes his head silently before turning to Garth, “Sorry, man. Can’t take any chances here. Jack’s the most protection we’ve got and I don’t know whose side you’re on, not for sure. If you’re one of the good guys and can help us get our mom back, then great. But any extra info on Jack needs to be on a need to know basis, capiche?”

 

The apology doesn’t seem to go splendidly over with Garth. Throughout the years of knowing their own version of this guy, Dean has never once felt intimidated by him. Even as a werewolf, Garth gives off some puppy vibes. And while this Garth’s stature, body type, face - pretty much everything - all remain the same, he is more hardened than the Garth Dean knows. From the hint of a scar on his forehead to the way his eyes are dimmed, Dean can immediately tell this Garth has seen some shit, shit that someone as optimistic and friendly as Garth can’t completely move past.

 

So Dean can’t help but lean back a little as Garth gets closer.

 

“If you haven’t yet, you should probably realize that we just let you and your friends into our home,” Garth says in a quiet voice, one that demands attention and respect, “You don’t look stupid, so I figure you have. This place is carefully warded. We did try to ward it to hide a nephilim, especially this room, in case Mary was right and you all came looking for her-”

 

“So you do know her,” Sam interrupted, pulling lightly on the restraints, “You know where she is.”

 

Garth doesn’t say anything as he looks at Sam, opting to just turn back to Dean, “The other half of your friends are safe. They’re in a room just like this one. My partner and Jody are tending to them. When Bobby gets back, I’ll have him look at you. If you definitely are who you say you are, then he’s met you before. If it all checks out, I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to let you go so we can have a better conversation on more equal footing.”

 

Dean watches Garth turn around to leave and can’t help but shake his head, “Damn. The Garth I know is a lot more fun than you. You’re so damn serious.”

 

“Dean, shut up,” Sam mutters, turning his head just enough to give him a dirty look.

 

Garth turns around and gives Dean an incredulous look and scoffs, “You cockblocked me, dude. If you guys hadn’t come all up into our space, then Jody wouldn’t have had to come and get me and I would be balls deep in the love of my life right now-”

 

“And that’s the definition of an overshare,” Dean interrupts, shuddering at the words, “Maybe you are more like Garth than I thought.”

 

Garth shrugs and holds out his arms, “Well if I wasn’t Garth Fitzgerald IV, then I wouldn’t be me. Bobby should be here soon. Until then? Peace.”

 

Garth gives them the peace sign with both hands before turning on his heel and walking out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

 

“So what are we going to do now?” Jack asks, pacing around the room, “Should I free you, should I sneak away to check on the others-”

 

“We’ll wait,” Sam tells him, “Eileen, Dean, and I are okay right now. I don’t think they’re going to hurt us. We need to prove to them we can be trusted. We’ll need the allies and we’ll need them if we’re going to find our Mom. We’re just going to have to hang around until they understand we’re not here to hurt them.”

 

Jack lets out a sigh, then plops down on the ground, “Okay. I guess I can wait. But I don’t like it. Waiting is boring.”

 

Despite Jack’s dislike and lack of patience, it takes about two hours before Bobby comes in to see them. He still has gear on, as if he’s coming back from some kind of hunt. Or he’s coming in prepared. Either way, this Bobby is not harmless. Their Bobby hadn’t been either, but this Bobby doesn’t love them like theirs did. Dean knows they are not going to be protected by him if he decides they’re not worth it.

 

“Why didn’t Garth tie you up?” Bobby grunts, looking at Jack suspiciously as the kid sits cross legged on the floor between his parents.

 

Jack thinks on it carefully before looking up at Bobby, “I think he probably knew I could get out of ropes and cuffs without issue. He probably didn’t want to waste your resources. I also wanted to show you that you could trust us, as I could have easily freed my family but chose not to unless you became a threat. I want us to be able to trust each other.”

 

Bobby just scowls at that response, grumbling indecipherable words under his breath before running tests on them, tests that Garth had already run and then some. Dean understands it, but it doesn’t mean he’s losing his patience. Feeling nervous over running out of time, because although reopening the rift to go back to their world is possible, it isn’t something he necessarily wants to do unless they have to. He heard Kaia’s screams, he saw how Jack struggled with getting her to focus on this universe. If they run into trouble and things aren’t safe for them, it might not be feasible to do the spellwork needed to create another rift. But it sure as hell isn’t feasible for them to just sit here while they prove time and time again they are who they say they are-

 

“Alright,” Bobby shrugs, “You pass.”

 

“You think?” Dean counters, letting out a sigh of relief as Bobby unties his hands, “Now where’s our mom?”

 

Bobby takes his time to answer as he unties Sam and Eileen before answering Dean gruffly, “Not sure. Michael was starting to get suspicious of her. She didn’t want him to find out who she was associated with so she took the baby and ran. If you ask me, I think it was a little bit of the mama bear coming out of her too. She didn’t want to risk the demons or the angels getting a hold of that kid.”

 

“Woah, woah,” Dean backtracks, standing up to take a few steps towards Bobby, “Why is my mother on the run with a kid?”

 

Bobby gives him an insufferable look, “You boys have missed out on a lot. You’re lucky we need the allies. Might have had to kick you idjits out. I’m not one for talkin’. Now, come on. Team Meeting. We’ll go over everything there.”

------------------------------------------------------

As soon as she arrives to Wichita, Mary wants to weep. Due to the sheer relief or the fact that the city is a broken down shadow of its former self, she’s not sure. But she’s here. After days upon days of walking, after fighting for her life and breaking into boarded up grocery stores, one after another before finally finding more formula; after a night of pure terror as demons began to surround her shelter…

 

They’re here.

 

Part of Mary doubts it. Doubts that they made it, wonders if her body is just an empty shell lying around 50 miles back and if her spirit is cursed to walk these lands for all of eternity since there’s nowhere else for her to go.

 

But the sound of Nora gurgling in her arms - the sight of her wiggling in the cloth sling wrapped around Mary’s body - tells her otherwise.

 

“Shhh…” Mary comforts, holding her closer, “We’re almost there, sweetheart. We’re almost there. Are you cold? I’m cold too. We’ll find a place to lie down if I can’t summon him by tonight, I promise.”

 

Mary takes a spare shirt from her bag, leads it into the sling, and wraps it around Nora’s torso and legs - a poor source of extra warmth, but she hopes that it’s enough until Mary finds a space safe enough to build a fire. That isn’t here though, not on the outskirts of the city. Not when they’re so close to finding the only other rogue angel anyone actually knows about other than Gabriel. Not when she can hopefully get some answers to change things for the better once and for all.

 

She wants a space to be able to do the summoning spell. Looking at the city from afar, she originally feels that this can be a reasonable desire. But as it gets darker and they get closer to the city, she realizes she may not be the only one searching for a space of their own.

 

People line the streets - hundreds of men, but a few women and children as well - as they pile into the city, pushing against each other roughly as they try to get ahead of one another. Mary takes a more protective stance around Nora and makes sure her head is completely covered, her right hand resting against the gun in her holster. Her knowledge of the city in this world is minimal. She had never made supply trips here with Garth, Crowley, and Rowena, nor had she with Jody, Donna, and Benny. Most of the stories she has heard about it has been from Bobby. The shelter he organized, the closest place the remaining population would be able to get to solace unless things really changed. She could never go there, not with Nora, not with Michael most likely trying to find her. She would not be responsible for the deaths of strangers, just like she refuses to be responsible for the family she has been welcomed into here.

 

She wouldn’t be all that surprised if Bobby had looked for her at the shelter though. She needs to be careful. When she comes back to the bunker, she wants to come back with a win. She may have been losing grip on her status with Michael, but outcasting herself gives her one advantage: She has nothing to lose.

 

But the emotion that comes from thinking of the people she left behind lets her know that still isn’t true. She misses all of them. She misses Rowena, Gabriel, and Kali regularly bickering, only to loudly proclaim their love for each other late at night. She misses the unwavering support Jody and Benny had for each other and the rest of their family. She misses the pure and tender love Garth and Crowley have for each other, a couple so unlikely that there is no other outcome than for it to be a perfect match. She misses Charlie and Donna radiating kindness and positivity. She misses the peacefulness of the evenings she got to spend with Mildred and Bobby, sitting there as they both took turns telling stories from their lives before, to the moment they met each other.

 

Sometimes so much love under one roof made her miss John terribly. But whenever Kevin caught onto that, he joked that they could be single together. She misses him too.

 

And if she weren’t so afraid of praying - if she weren’t so afraid that someone would hear her - then she would pray that Kevin disassociated himself from her in Michael’s eyes. That he condemned her for leaving. That he’s lying low. She thought about leaving the baby with him. She even thought about taking a risk by leaving Nora at the bunker, a place she had taken her several times before on what Michael thought were supply runs. But she couldn’t risk it. Because while Michael might kill her when he finds her, there is a chance that he won’t. But with the potential exceptions of Kevin and Gabriel, he probably wouldn’t even blink, despite her efforts to make him more empathetic.

 

It had never been an option. Although taking a baby on a 250 mile journey on foot probably should have never been an option either.

 

But the good thing about bringing Nora here is that they can hide, hide in a sea of people who more or less look the same. And hopefully that will mean word will never get out, that no one will know who she is.

 

The good thing about the shelter being hidden right in the city means that it is the popular destination point. Once there are buildings surrounding them, she feels comfortable enough to go one way as the crowd goes the other. With caution, she scouts for a good place to squat for the night, hopefully a place with an abandoned blanket or two that isn’t completely filthy.

 

While the blanket in the place she does find isn’t what she had in mind, there aren’t any bugs in it, which she counts as a win. Keeping Nora in the sling, she gently lays her down on top of it before going across the room to create a small circle of holy oil. Maybe it has been due to her tumultuous journey, but she really doesn’t expect for it to work. She expects for something to go wrong, for this angel to have precautions in place. He is known as the rogue angel. He has to have certain protections in order to have lasted this long-”

 

“Mary Winchester. I didn’t think you’d make it this far, with all of the people who are looking for you.”

 

A man appears in the center of the circle, studying her with a scrutinizing gaze through his uncovered eye as Mary holds her head high, despite her exhaustion.

 

“Hello, Castiel.”

----------------------------------------------------

“What do you mean she left?” John growls, “Why would you let her take off on her own?”

 

John tries not to flinch as Kali turns her head sharply to stare at him, “She wanted Nora out from under Michael’s protection. If she ended up getting stuck here - and considering it took you long enough to find her, it was a real possibility - she didn’t want to watch that child grow up to become the angels’ pawn. And once we heard about a potential lead on someone who might be able to open up a rift hiding somewhere in Wichita? We were only left to guess that she jumped on it and went there. Whether it was to take the baby back to you all for safekeeping or to just jump back through with her and never look back, I’m not sure.”

 

“It wasn’t either of those things,” Garth interrupts harshly, standing up quickly, “You know Mary as well as I do. She’s gotten us pretty far in the last several months. She saved Nora, the authoritarian rule from the angels has gone down a shit ton since she got Michael to trust her. If she’s in Wichita looking for someone who can open the rift, then she’s not leaving without us. That was the plan back when it was just a thought. Go through the rift, strategize in her universe, and come back with more manpower-”

 

“Oh, please. Gabriel asked Castiel himself four days ago,” Rowena chimes in, “That angel knows as much as we do. Why would Mary need to go out and find the information herself?”

 

“Maybe it’s because she’s human, mother,” Crowley tells her, gently urging Garth to sit back down, “Several of us aren’t going to live for centuries, at least not anymore. When we need answers now, we tend to not take our dear sweet time doing so. Besides, it’s not like we could always trust Castiel. His alliance with us is shaky at best. Loose canon, that one.”

 

John lets himself tune out of the sound of bickering for a moment in order to glance at Dean. He thinks his son might be getting better, that he’s learned to handle Castiel’s appearances in the various worlds without getting as attached as he had before. But he can still see that the mention of the name causes his son pain, sees how he looks down at the table to focus on it rather than anyone else - and that’s honestly saying something, considering Dean’s focus on Charlie once he saw her again.

 

He wants to go over and sit next to him, make sure he knows that good will come out of this battle. That they didn’t come here for Dean to have his heart broken over and over again. They came here to save Mary, to bring her home. That is what they need to keep their focus on.

 

“So you’ve just let her go?” John asks quietly, “You’re just letting her fight your battle on her own?”

 

Rowena scoffs, seemingly offended, “I’ll have you know that Kevin, Benny, and Donna have been searching for days now. Her abrupt departure put Kevin at too high of a risk and now he’s in the same boat she’s in! Now we have no in with Michael, when we previously had two. And i’ve been searching high and low for her, trying to break the protection spells I placed upon her and that child just enough to get a peek! Gabriel can’t track them down due to the sigils he put on their ribs. Believe it or not, we want to find them too! So don’t you come in here and tell me-”

 

“Rowena, give him a break,” Jody interrupts, shaking her head, “He’s her husband.”

 

Rowena sputters, “Well, some husband he is! She thinks he’s dead!”

 

“I was dead!” John snaps, slamming his hand on the table hard enough to make her jump, “Come on, Jack. We’re going to Wichita.”

 

Jack stares at him, almost in shock over the fact John might consider talking to him. But once the boy snaps out of it, he jumps to his feet and comes over to John.

 

“Yeah, okay,” Jack agrees, reaching up to touch his forehead and-

 

“Alright, hold up,” Sam interrupts as he comes around the table to bring Jack’s hand back down, “We don’t know what we’re even walking into here.”

 

John blinks and looks at Sam with annoyance, “When do we ever know what we’re walking into? Don’t be dense, son.”

 

Sam’s expression morphs into what Dean always called a bitch face, all while Claire laughs in the corner next to Kaia. Silently, Eileen comes over to stand next to Sam and looks at John with some understanding.

 

“Not that I can read either of your lips while your standing like that, but I do think Sam’s right to feel nervous. For one, if Michael is looking for Mary and can’t find her, who’s to say we’ll be able to either? And if we’re all looking for her at the same time and he senses what Jack is? We might not be ready for the outcome of that, even with how strong Jack is becoming.”

 

John glares at Eileen and opts to sign to Eileen, rather than speak.

 

“She’s my wife. The mother of my children. I need to do this. What if it were my son that was out there on his own? Would you take a different stance on this then?”

 

Eileen’s expression morphs into something a little more compassionate as she begins to sign, “We didn’t come here to lose more people. Not preparing for the worst can ensure the worst will happen. Let’s plan this with someone who knows the area. Someone who can come with us and know the potential dangers we may be up against.”

 

Before John can answer, Garth steps next to him with a smile on his face, “I know what we’re up against. I also know how sign so I know everything you were saying about me, like how cute I am.”

 

“Sweetheart, now’s not the time for jokes,” Crowley tsks, seeming slightly annoyed.

 

Garth grins over at Crowley, winks, then turns back to John and Eileen, “But yeah, I’ll come with you guys. Show you around, the best places to hide. The city can get pretty crazy. There will be the occasional party, but mainly you’ll see looting, any type of assault you can think of, murder, general mayhem. The angels actually like to leave it alone. They don’t know about the shelter, just the chaos that fills the rest of Wichita up. It’s a good place to hide if you aren’t afraid of humans. But in my experience, they can sometimes be the most monstrous of all.”

 

“Very profound,” John says, forcing out an acknowledgement, “Can you be ready in five minutes?”

 

Garth gives him a strange look, “Five minutes? I need at least an hour. Showers in the city are hard to come by and I’m not going to the shelter just to stand in a line for one.”

 

Jack clears his throat disapprovingly, “An hour of water usage in a war torn era seems a bit selfish. I can feel the magic flowing through your home, I understand it probably plays its part, but when there are so many people out there whose lives and homes have been destroyed-”

 

“Yo!” Garth exclaims, taking a step back, “Way to judge me before you even know me, kid. I’ll have you know that Crowley and I share the shower. Every single time. We are the most pro-water conservation couple you will ever meet!”

 

“Wait, hold up,” Dean stops them, until everyone’s attention is on him, “You and Crowley are together?”

 

Garth stares at Dean incredulously, then goes over to stand behind Crowley, putting his arms around the ex-demon’s shoulders, “Hell, yes. There’s no one else I’d rather be with. We bring out the best in each other.”

 

Crowley pats Garth’s hand a few times, then holds it there before looking at Dean, “You have a problem with that, Winchester?”

 

Dean holds up his hands, “Hey, I don’t care what you all do. I just didn’t see it, that’s all.”

 

Crowley raises an eyebrow and smirks, “Bad gaydar? Color me surprised.”

 

Dean flushes, then shakes his head, “No. I meant that I never saw you two as a couple, the versions I know of you guys, at least.”

 

“Is my son on the straight and narrow path in your world?” Rowena gasps playfully, “That’s even more embarrassing than him being a human.”

 

No one answers the question, causing an uncomfortable silence to fall over the room and Rowena’s smile to slip off her face. The cough that finally disrupts it comes from Bobby.

 

“Rowena, that body I found after I met the boys looked exactly like Crowley’s,” Bobby tells her quietly, “Thought it was him until I came back to the bunker and ran a few tests when I saw our Crowley. It took me a long while gettin’ back because I was tryin’ to prepare myself to break the news to you and Garth. I’m glad I didn’t have to.”

 

Rowena’s eyes narrow and John can swear he sees her chin wobble, “You didn’t tell me that you found a version of my son dead in a ditch somewhere?”

 

“Mother, your version is right here,” Crowley sighs, “It’s been three hundred years. Don’t get emotional over me now.”

 

Garth shakes his head as he lets go of Crowley, then walks over to sit down next to Rowena and put an arm around her, “No, Rowena’s right. We should have known. He may not have been the man I loved, but he was a version of him. He deserved a burial, a spot right here on the property-”

 

“I can’t stand either of you,” Crowley decides suddenly, standing up and pushing in his chair, “To tell it to you simply, Dean, I’m queer. I sway more towards men, but have had trysts all over the gender and orientation spectrum. Your Crowley might have been similar.”

 

“Oh, he was,” Dean agrees, “There’s no doubt in my mind about you. I just didn’t know about Garth.”

 

At the mention of his name, Garth stops comforting Rowena and holds out his arms, “Love is love, man. Especially in times like these. I never thought I would settle down until I fell for Crowley. But now that I have? He’s the only person I ever want to wake up to.”

 

“You’re with a werewolf in our world,” Dean tells him, “Married to her and everything.”

 

“Oh, yeah?” Garth perks up, sitting up straight, “What’s she like?”

 

“Garth!” Crowley barks, suddenly extremely unamused, “Do you want to get a shower or not?”

 

Garth rolls his eyes and smiles at Crowley with a dopey looking grin, “You know I’m just kidding, babe. Oh man, you’re too easy sometimes.”

 

Crowley mutters something under his breath before leaving the room alone and Garth quickly stands to his feet, “He’s so easy. He’ll get over it by the time he gets to the bathroom though. He’s too nuts about me to hold much of a grudge. I literally took his demonic nature away and now look at us. He’ll have his paws all over me by the time I’m in the shower. Balls deep, Dean. Balls deep. And like I said, John, give me an hour. That’s all I need and I will leave this place a happy man without any regrets.”

 

John cringes at the statement, along with the rest of the people in the room, as Garth begins to walk away.

 

“Garth, no one wants to hear that,” the other Jody calls out. If Garth hears her, he doesn’t seem to care.

 

Rowena lets out a sigh as she puts her head in her hands, “I miss when they were hiding everything from us.”

----------------------------------------------

This version of Castiel is unnerving.

 

He’s different from the one she knew and loved, the one who died by Lucifer’s hands and left Dean looking broken. He doesn’t speak much. His mouth seems to have a twitch. His left eye is dulled, and upon closer inspection, Mary realizes he is blind in that eye. It’s never occurred to her that angels could go blind. From everything she’s seen, it isn’t possible as long as they have enough grace to heal themselves.

 

This Castiel should, from the powers he’s displayed in the last few hours. He’s cleaned her clothes with a simple touch. He’s cleaned and mended the blanket for Nora upon request. The only thing he can’t do, despite appearing in the summoning circle out of thin air, is fly.

 

“It’s a pity you couldn’t have reached me by other means,” Castiel says, almost talking to her but in a tone that makes her feel like he’s talking to himself, “I don’t like being this far from my truck. It’s no good. No good at all. I need my truck.”

 

Yeah. This Castiel is strange. And he’s making her wonder if abandoning Michael, abandoning her friends, and making this trip to the city was even worth it.

 

“There are rumors about someone who knows how to travel in between worlds,” Mary says, for the third time now, “I want to know where they are. If I can open a rift, take my team and maybe even some civilians from the camps over to my world to gather more resources and supplies as we plan things out, we might have a stronger chance at figuring out how to win. How to get this world back in order again.”

 

Castiel tsks a several times, more times than necessary, then looks at Mary with a blank smile, “They’re hidden deep, Mary. Deep in their hiding space. She does not want to see me, not after what I did to her three years, two months, nine days, and sixteen hours ago. I used to study her. I studied her until a sliver of myself broke through and saved her. When I saved her, I ran. I haven’t flown for six years, five months, eight days, and fifty-three minutes. Now I have no wings. I have no team, Mary. I help the humans from afar. With the exception of one, I do not get close. And the one I do get close to is only close because she won’t leave me alone, especially since her son floated far, far away one year, seven months, four days, and twenty-two hours ago. He is alive, but he is gone. That is all I know.”

 

Mary stares at him with uneasiness and confusion, then watches him carefully as he strolls across the room.

 

“I know what I sound like, Mary Winchester. This is why I don’t talk unless I have to. Now, come. Gather the abomination so that we can depart. We can’t stay here. I sense that this section of the city will be in danger soon.”

 

And honestly, while staying in this rundown, abandoned house sounds more appealing than going with this jarring version Castiel, she doesn’t have much of a choice. Because he does know something. He knows someone who can open a rift, even if he refuses to bother them. She’ll persuade him that they need this person to gain an upper hand, that her plan to move people to safety until they can come back with the strongest army possible will work. Because just like her decision to go with Castiel isn’t really an option, his decision to say no to her really isn’t one either.