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Feathers & Gunpowder

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Dean failed to stop the seal from breaking. Lilith broke the ‘Rising of the Witnesses’ as she pulled back people Sam, Dean and Bobby couldn’t save. Meg Masters, Ronald Reznick, Victor Henriksen, the twin sisters. The guilt of not being able to save them came back, almost worse than before as they were used as pawns in the chess game that was the Apocalypse.

Then, Dean took a trip to 1973 and after seeing Mary make the deal with Azazel, Dean hadn’t been in the mood for any research on the Apocalypse, even though Castiel had given them Dean’s old Enochian books. Instead, Dean pulled Sam along on hunts.

But before he could, he watched Sam use his psychic powers to exorcise a demon, having been lead to the warehouse by Castiel who had been keeping an eye on where Sam goes everytime he leaves. Dean’s blood had frozen and his breath had gotten stuck in his throat. ‘The powers were supposed to disappear after Azazel’s death’ Dean thought in horror.

When Sam was about to open the door to the warehouse with the formerly possessed man leaning against him, when Dean yanked it open. He glared at Sam, a furious glimt in his eyes. “Anything you wanna tell me, Sam?” Dean asked in a growling voice.

Sam had the nerve to look innocent as Dean took strong steps towards him, aware of the presence of the demon, Ruby, who glared at him. If her eyes were lasers, Dean would have a hole straight through his head.

“Dean, hold on okay? Just let me-” Sam started, almost frantically, but Dean cut him off.

Dean huffed loudly. “You gonna say, ‘let me explain’? You're gonna explain this ? How about this? Why don't you start with why you’re hanging out with a demon, with Ruby , of all demons?” Dean asked with his arms firmly crossed over his chest.

Sam’s nervous and innocent look changed into something more questioning. “I never said it was Ruby…” Sam trailed off, becoming suspicious of how Dean could know without Sam telling him.

Dean smirked, but it never quite reached his eyes. “One of the benefits of being best friends with an angel who pulled you out of Hell; is that the angel can borrow out some powers to you and the angelic vision allowing them to see the true forms of demons and angels.” Dean shrugged nonchalantly, as if he hadn’t almost revealed the very fact he was trying to hide. Anger can be a vicious motivator, possible even reveal a hidden relationship.

Sam’s eyes widened and Ruby looked slightly scared. It was almost humorous seeing Sam’s face so shocked, but all Dean could feel was betrayal. “Angel whore…” Ruby said under her breath, but Dean still heard it. He glared at her before looking back to Sam.

“Were you even going to tell me about your powers? About how you can exorcise demons with your mind? Or were you planning on keeping me in the dark, going behind my back and replacing me with that black-eyed, hellhound bitch?” Dean asked and gestured to Ruby.

All through the argument, Ruby had stood quietly and watched the brothers talking back and forth, but when Dean called her ‘hellhound bitch’, her eyes flicked to black and threw out her arm to pin Dean to the wall with her demonic powers. She growled loudly in response to Dean’s successful attempt at egging her on.

As Ruby moved to stand in front of Dean, powers pressing him into the wall hard enough for the wall to groan at the weight, Dean grinned at Ruby. “Come on, do it.” Dean taunted as Ruby took her place in front of him. “Do it, kill me. Send me back downstairs and let Alastair finish what he started.” Ruby pressed him harder against the wall, but Dean laughed instead of screaming. “ COME ON! ” Dean yelled at Ruby.

Sam, who had been staring at them with a look of horror, immediately surged forward at Dean’s call, laying the formerly possessed man on the floor before he rushed to Ruby and pulled her back by the shoulder. Ruby’s concentration broke and Dean dropped to the floor on his knees where he chuckled madly.

“Go.” Sam whispered to Ruby with a nod to the unconscious man on the floor, knowing her presence would make the situation worse.

When Ruby disappeared after one final glare at Dean, Sam looked at Dean with wide and worried eyes. Dean looked back up at him and Sam watched as the madness in them faded into exhaustion and sorrow. “At least tell me you aren’t drinking demon blood.” Dean begged and Sam was caught off guard by the cheer look of being done in Dean’s eyes, almost begging for being done with everything, life as well.

Sam shook his head in response to Dean’s begging. “No, why would I do that?” Sam lied. It was a lie that tasted like acid when it slipped off his tongue. When Dean looked at him, he tried to look innocent, which he seemed to manage, judging by the fact that Dean let his head drop and his tense shoulders relaxed.

Sam released a silent breath of relief and picked Dean up by his armpits. He slung Dean’s arm around his shoulder and curled his own around Dean’s waist, before hoisting both himself and Dean up.

_______________________

“What the Hell was that Dean?!” Sam asked angrily once they had gotten back to the motel room and Dean had laid down on his bed. “What were you trying to get her to do? Kill you?”

Dean remained silent, staring at the ceiling and avoided looking at Sam. It was a wordless confirmation.

Sam released the breath he was holding, bringing his hands up to run through his hair. “Why?” Sam whispered as he looked at his older brother with sad eyes.

“Why not?” Dean responded emotionlessly. “I’ve wanted to die for a long time. On and off for years, decades. But I always stayed because there was always something keeping me here.”

Sam carefully sat down on the bed next to Dean’s, leaning forward to touch Dean’s arm in an attempt to comfort him, but Dean flinched away from his touch. Sam recoiled and instead adapted a soft voice. “What made you stay before?” ‘Maybe you could find it again’.

“You.” Dean whispered. “Dad. Bobby. Ellen and Jo. Now, I guess it’s Cas…” Dean continued, but dropped off at his fiancé’s name. With a sigh, he sent a prayer of longing to Castiel, hoping he would understand that Dean wanted him there at that moment.

Sam hunched over, resting his arms on his knees. “Cas, as in Castiel? The angel?” Sam questioned. Dean hummed in confirmation. “Earlier… you said you were borrowing his powers. Is that true?” Sam questioned tentatively.

Dean was quiet for a second before he nodded. “Yeah. But not all of it, enough to allow me angelic vision so I can see angels and demons and their true form.” A small smile tugged at Dean’s face. “It’s weird, feeling and being aware of how the nature acts. I can feel an oak tree in Europe losing it’s leaves, a snowstorm winding up in Antarktis. It feels like some weird drug trip.”

Sam couldn’t help the small smile at the description, he was almost glad he didn’t have angelic powers and instead was cursed with demon blood in his veins. He looked down at his hands which were shaking from the loss of the adrenaline he had gained from the confrontation with Dean, he had been so scared of Dean finding out about the demon blood, afraid of Dean’s judgement, of Dean calling him a monster, a freak.

“I know you’re drinking demon blood, Sam.” Dean whispered. Sam’s head shot up to look at his brother. Dean’s eyes had turned from playful to almost empty. “I know that’s how you managed to exorcise the demon.”

The drop of the mood in the room was nearly visible as it went from light-hearted to nervous and strained.

Sam’s breathing hitched; just as he thought he was able to get away, Dean caught him. “How?” Sam asked, feeling the fear come back.

“Your eyes are dilated as if you’re high, your breath stinks of sulphur and copper, the powers Azazel gave you are back with the improvement of exorcising, and you’re hanging with the manipulative bitch Ruby.” Dean said emotionlessly.

Sam felt a flash of anger in his chest. “Don’t call her that.” He warned. The anger should have terrified him, just as the fact he was protecting a demon. But for some reason he didn’t feel anything but anger.

Dean sat up on the bed and leaned back on his elbows, and glared at Sam. “ Not call her that? When it’s the truth?” Dean huffed an angry breath. “Sam, she’s not working against Lilith, she’s working for Lilith! She’s manipulating you!”

Silence spread in the motel room, Dean waiting for Sam’s reaction and Sam having been stopped short by Dean’s outrage.

“She-she wouldn't… she’s been helping me all this time…” Sam stuttered, the anger fading as he recounted all the times Ruby helped them. Or did she really help them?

Dean firmly shook his head. “She’s been corrupting you. That’s what demon blood does to you. It will change everything about you. You will go from Sam Winchester, the hunter, to… Sam Winchester, the damaged. The monster. The boy king of Hell.” Dean choked out.

“How do you know all of that?” Sam whispered in question.

Dean’s body tensed as thoughts of confession whirled around in his head. He opened his mouth and shut it a few times before he sighed. He couldn’t explain it in a good way without giving away the truth of his biology.

But of course, before he could answer with some bullshit lie, fluttering wings echoed in the room as Castiel appeared. He must have felt the tension between the two brothers because he paused the second he entered.

“Pardon me.” Castiel apologized. “Dean prayed to me and I believed my presence was wanted. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“It’s fine.” Sam quickly answered and sat up straighter in the bed. “It’s nothing we can’t talk about later.”

Dean glared angrily at Sam and sat up completely in the motel bed. “Actually, Castiel. Why don’t you explain the effects of drinking demon blood.” Dean suggested, never taking his eyes off Sam.

Castiel nervously looked between them, eyebrows furrowed. “The effects demon blood can have on a person will alter every part of their being. The body, soul, everything . If used long enough, the soul itself will be burnt away, leaving a human with no moral compass to tell them what’s right and wrong. Ultimately, it could lead to a type of mix between a human and a demon, but not a cambion. Instead, an unstable, dark force that should be killed long before it’s created.”

Dean remained silent, but threw a glance at Sam, looking away as he saw the horrified look on his face. “Can you promise me you’ll stop? If not for yourself, then for me?” Dean asked softly as he looked down at his hands as he wrung them together.

Sam nodded numbly, partly in shock from the revelation. “I promise.” He whispered.

Dean smiled weakly and clapped Sam on the shoulder. “Thank you.” He said with a smile before looking to Castiel. “And thanks to you too, you idiot.” Dean slapped his hands down on his thighs and stood, smiling between Sam and Castiel, though it was strained, forced. “Now, how about we hunt down some evil sons of bitches?”

_______________________

Sam wanted to stop. He really did. After finding out what the demon blood did to you, he tried to quit, but as soon as the effects of withdrawal set in, he gave in. He called Ruby on a burner phone, away from the motel they were staying at in the pretence of interviewing a witness.

What was worse than the fact he was destroying his soul with the demon blood, was the fact that he was lying to Dean. Dean, selfless, kind and brave Dean, who had just gone through 40 years of Hell. Lying and hiding from Dean was almost as bad as finding out he had demon blood coursing through his veins. But he tried not to think about it, and instead focused on hunts, on saving as many people as he could.

Which brought Sam and Dean to Halloween. A man choked to death on razor blades, turned out to be two witches trying to make the demon Samhain rise for the first time in 600 years. 3 sacrifices over 3 nights, the fourth being the rising itself. Then Castiel and Uriel appeared in Sam and Dean’s motel room, telling them the rising of Samhain is one of the 66 seals.

“This is Uriel, he’s what you might call a… specialist.” Castiel introduced the other angel to Sam and Dean. Or mostly Sam.

Dean felt the breath leave him as he realized why they were there. He knew exactly what Uriel specialized in.

Sam, on the other hand, became more curious. “What kind of specialist? What are you gonna do?” He asked, verging on worried and panicked.

Castiel looked between Sam and Dean to Uriel, sending a quick apologetic look to Dean. “You, uh, both of you, you need to leave this town immediately.” He commanded nervously.

“Why?” Sam asked, blissfully unaware of the situation at hand.

Castiel looked gultily at Dean and then Sam. “Because we’re about to destroy it.” Castiel finished and released a heavy breath.

Dean felt Sam look at him with a worried glance, but Dean couldn’t tear his eyes away from the two angels.

“So you’re gonna smite the whole friggin’ town?” Sam asked once he saw that Dean wasn’t going to answer.

Castiel sadly shook his head. “We’re out of time. This witch has to die, the seal must be saved.”

Sam felt rage in his chest at the confession. “There are a thousand people here. You’re gonna kill them all just to get the witch?” He questioned.

Uriel butted into the conversation. “One thousand, two hundred and fourteen.” He added.

“And you’re willing to kill them all?” Dean asked quietly, glaring at Uriel who stared back at him with a mix of boredom and hate.

Uriel took a step forward. “This isn’t the first time I’ve…” Uriel paused to find an appropriate wording. “… Purified a city.” He settled on.

Castiel lightly pushed Uriel out of the way. “Look, I understand that this is regrettable.” The blue-eyed angel said.

“Regrettable?” Dean questioned his fiancé with a raised eyebrow

Castiel threw Dean a quick glare before his face went back to his neutral squinting face. “We have to hold the line. Too many seals have been broken already.”

“What about our plan, then? ‘Find the last seal and protect it’?” He questioned.

Uriel stepped forward angrily and Dean took a step backwards in response as the angel got too close for his comfort. “It’s the worst plan I’ve ever heard. If you’re plan fails and the last seal breaks before we can stop it, then Lucifer will rise and Hell along with him. Do you really want Hell to be unleashed?” Uriel angrily questioned.

Dean clenched his jaw, refusing to let anyone else on Earth to be tortured like he had been. He swallowed past the lump and his throat and straightened his back. “But it’s only one seal, there’s still a lot more out there to break.” He spoke, trying to stop himself from growling.

Castiel look at him with understanding eyes, while Uriel glared. “It’s the life of one thousand against the lives of six billion. There’s a bigger picture here.

Dean let out a snort of laughter at Uriel’s response. “Right. Cause you’re bigger picture kind of guys.” Dean muttered. He firmly shook his head and stepped closer to Uriel and Castiel, Sam reaching out a hand to stop him. “We’ll stop this witch before she summons anyone. Your seal won’t be broken and no one has to die.”

Uriel looked to Castiel with a bored expression. “We’re wasting time with these mud monkeys.” He muttered to the other angel.

Castiel glared at him before looked to the two hunters. “Look, we have our orders-” Castiel started, but Sam cut him off.

“No. You can’t do this, you’re angels, I mean aren’t you supposed to -- aren’t you supposed to show mercy?” He questioned. This wasn’t how he imagined angels like, they were supposed to be kind, gentle, not believing in the needs of the many outweighs the need of a few.

Uriel looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Says who?” He questioned.

Castiel stepped in before either Sam or Uriel started swinging. “We have no choice.” He apologized.

Dean shook his head, despite knowing about the orders of angels. “Of course you have a choice. I mean, come on, what? You never questioned a crap order, huh? What are you both, just a couple of hammers?” Dean asked, echoing an argument, the first and only, between Dean and Castiel from several years ago, in the 1660s.

“I don’t understand how you can be a soldier, Castiel! Following orders blindly? Killing everyone your superiors tell you to? The need of the many outweigh the few? It’s brutal! Stupid! Simple-minded!” Dean had yelled at the younger angel after the angels had wiped out a fourth of London’s population with the Plague.

By the look in Castiel’s eyes, he remembered the argument as well. Castiel let out a soft sigh as he shook his head lightly. “Look, even if you can’t understand it, have faith. The plan is just.” He insisted, sending an apologetic look Dean’s way, letting Dean know that he didn’t chose to say any of it.

Sam frowned. “How can you even say that?” He snapped. “How is this a just plan?”

“Because it comes from Heaven, that makes it just.” Uriel replied, voice growing more annoyed for each minute.

Dean chuckled at the answer. “Oh, it must be nice, to be so sure of yourselves.” He smirked. Soldier angels; not a single ounce of free will in them. Or Castiel had some free will, but still not as much as humans.

Uriel glared at him with a dark look. “Tell me something, Dean, when your father gave you an order, did you obey?” Uriel asked, a smile tugging at his lips.

Dean felt anger course through his body at Uriel’s comment, the description ‘Daddy’s good little soldier’ echoing in his head. He clenched his jaw and saw Castiel sending him an apologetic from the corner of his eye. “Well sorry boys, looks like the plans have changed.” He growled.

The african american angel raised his eyebrow at Dean’s growl. “You think you can stop us?” He questioned, something aking smugness in his voice.

Dean shook his head and took another step towards the angels. “No, but if you’re gonna smite this whole town, then you’re gonna have to smite us with it, because we’re not leaving. See, you went to the trouble of busting me out of Hell. I figure I’m worth something to the man upstairs. So you wanna waste me, go ahead, see how he digs that.” ‘Too bad God bailed a long time ago’

“I will drag you outta here myself.” Uriel threatened in a low voice, an angry frown covering his face.

“Yeah, but you’ll have to kill me, then we’re back to the same problem. I mean, come on, you’re gonna wipe out a whole town for one little witch. Sounds to me like you’re compensating for something.” Dean joked and caught Castiel breaking a smile from the corner of his eye while Sam scoffed at Dean’s joke. Dean quickly sobered up and became serious again. “We can do this. We will find that witch and we will stop the summoning.” Dean promised.

Uriel turned to look at the blue-eyed angel with exasperation. “Castiel! I will not let these peop-” He complained, but Castiel silenced him by holding up a hand.

“Enough!” Castiel growled like the commander he was and Uriel obeyed. He looked at the two hunters with a stern look. “I suggest you move quickly.” He ordered.

And with the last command, the two angels disappeared with the sound of fluttering wings.

Dean stared at the spot where the angels had been staring for a second before he turned his face to look at Sam. “Well, you heard him.” He spoke. “Lets hunt ourself a witch.”

_______________________

“Our orders were not to stop the summoning of Samhain, they were to do whatever you told us to do.” Castiel explained as he brushed his fingers through Dean’s hair as they laid in a hotel bed back in Sioux Falls once the hunt was over.

It had turned out there was two witches, Tracy Davis and Don Harding, but Sam and Dean had failed to stop Samhain from rising, thus breaking the seal. But Sam had stopped the demon from causing more harm. Unfortunately, he had used the powers from the demon blood. Fortunately, however, it was the last powers he got from his latest dose. At least that’s what Sam told him.

Dean chuckled against the bare flesh of the angel’s chest. “Your orders were to follow my orders?” He asked with a smile.

Castiel nodded and smiled. “It was a test, to see how you would perform under… battlefield conditions, you might say. You know, so you can be Michael’s vessel.” He shrugged, trying not to jostle Dean’s head on his chest.

“But I failed the test, didn’t I?” Dean questioned. “I get it. But I know that if it weren’t for me and Sam, everyone in that city would be dead. The children, trees, all of it, just gone. If it wasn’t for us.”

The blue-eyed angel stopped his motion of brushing his fingers through his hair, in favor of using his arm to pull Dean’s body tighter against his own. “I was hoping you and Sam were going to save the town. I was praying for it, actually.” Castiel admitted and kissed the top of Dean’s head as the change in positions had placed Dean’s head straight under his chin.

“To who? Dad?” Dean asked with a chuckle. He had a hate for his father that he never talked about, though Castiel seemed to know anyways.

Castiel nodded. “You might not have faith in our father, but I know you have faith in humanity. And everything that would have been destroyed in that city, they were all our father’s creations. Works of art. And yet, even though Sam stopped Samhain, the seal was broken and we are one step closer to Hell on Earth, for all of creation. And you know just as well as me that it’s no expression, it’s literal.” He reported.

Dean winced at the thought of hellfire and torture. “I’d rather let Hell stay right where it belongs; in Hell.” Dean answered, tiredly.

Castiel hummed in agreement before he nuzzled his nose into Dean’s light brown hair. “Can I tell you something if you promise not to tell another soul? Or grace?” He asked and waited until Dean nodded. “I’m not as good of a soldier as I once was. I have questions, I have doubts. I don’t know what is right and what is wrong anymore, whether I’ve passed or failed here.” Castiel admitted.

Dean raised his head and looked into Castiel’s blue eyes. “How long have you felt like this?” He asked, his normally playful tone serious and concerned.

Castiel smiled as he brushed his knuckles along Dean’s cheek. “Ever since I first met you.” He admitted, watching Dean’s eyes widen. “Meeting you, becoming your friend, it was the first time I ever disobeyed an order. ‘Never interact with an archangel without permission’. After that, I broke rules, I had thoughts of my own. I had-”

“-Free will.” Dean finished for him. Castiel nodded in affirmative. Dean cracked a smile at the answer. “Well then, Cas, I think that’s going to be helpful in the long run. Makes you seem more human.” Dean answered with a yawn and tugged the covers higher to cover their chests. “And part of being human, is the need to sleep. And I’m exhausted.”

Dean laid his head back down on Castiel’s chest, feeling the angel resume brushing his fingers though the short light brown strands. “Well, it’s been a long week. Lots of emotions. Lots of action.” Castiel commented as he felt Dean slip closer and closer to the sleep he was fighting. “Go to sleep, my light, I’ll be here when you wake up. I’ll watch over you.” Castiel reassured, smiling when Dean’s eyes finally slipped shut.

Castiel was more than content to stay in the bed the whole night, watching his fiancé sleep and protecting him from whatever dangers could appear. Even if the worst danger is mostly nightmares; not real.