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There’s no point in struggling, Dean knows that, but he tries anyway. So does Sam, yet the two angels holding onto them barely seem to notice.

And struggling’s all they can do, right then. They were both caught off guard, so neither of them is armed; even if they were, Dean doubts they’d be able to gank more than one or two of the cloud squad apiece before the rest turned them into bloody smears on the floor.

Then brought them back, of course, because after all…. They have a heavenly destiny.

Well, he does. Sam’s, as Zachariah explains, is more southbound.

“But neither of you will just...cooperate,” he says, as if, really, they’re just being unreasonable on purpose. “You persist in resisting, and, frankly, you’ve been the subject of many a strategy session in Heaven.”

Dean couldn’t give two fucks.

All of you.”

Oh.

He stays brazen, but there’s a panic starting inside him. He’s hoped that maybe Heaven had forgotten all about Cas, which meant that the angel could either a) sneak his ass in here and then get all their asses back out, or b) survive on past whatever shit Zachariah has planned for them, and keep fighting even if they can’t.

But Zachariah’s plans obviously include his little brother (it makes Dean’s head throb with temper to even acknowledge that Cas is related to these dicks), and maybe at that minute an angel squad is out there after him as well.

He tries to warn Cas, sending a fast prayer, one word, Poughkeepsie, but a stunningly sharp pain cuts through him, leaves him doubled over and panting, only the tight angel grip on his arm holding him up.

Sam’s yelling his name until he’s cut off with a strangled gasp. Dean forces himself to look, but Sam’s okay...just muted by Zachariah’s power, but otherwise okay.

“That’s not your line,” Zachariah says. “At least, not yet. Try to keep to the script, Dean. We do want Castiel to show up, but his entrance now would be premature.”

Dean manages to straighten, and glares at the twisted angel. “So what is the script?”

Zachariah parades in front of them, enjoying the captive audience.

“We were considering how defiant you both are, resourceful, but also plain lucky. The close calls you’ve escaped; thwarting your fates, not just the one we set out for you, but the number of times you should have been taken, or hurt beyond capacity to function, or even dead.

“And yet, you’re both still alive, and whole, and proving to be the most annoying little pricks...bar one...I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.”

None of this is news, and Dean rolls his eyes.

Zachariah grabs him by the throat and yanks him onto his tiptoes, not an easy feat given Dean’s got a few inches on the asshole of the Lord.

“You roll your eyes at me again, son, and I’ll pluck them out.”

“What happens to your celebrity death match then?” Dean croaks back at him.

Zachariah smiles. “Oh, when Michael takes possession of his sword, he can put them back. Until then, you’ll be crawling around like the blind worm you are.”

He lets go, and Dean stumbles back, again only held up by his angel captor.

“As I was saying. We’ve begun to wonder if your resilience isn’t being bolstered by the other little prick. Castiel does so love a cause, especially a beleaguered one, so it’s no surprise he’s thrown his lot in with you.

“He always was a rebel. But even he has a line he won’t cross, you see. He is, at heart, an angel.”

Dean figures he knows where this is going. There’s not a lot he’s certain of in their lives, but one thing he is sure of is that Cas has their backs.

He’s had a hundred chances to quit them, to go home, rejoin the Stepford ranks, and he’s still slugging it out by their sides.

“Maybe,” Dean says. “But he’s our angel.”

Zachariah chuckles at him. “Is he? Well, I guess we’ll see.”

++

Cas wonders when Zachariah became such an idiot, or when his former commander thought he did.

That suddenly cut off cry from help for Dean. And then, later, another just as desperate, but this time one that Cas could easily track and follow.

Except Cas shouldn’t be able to do that, since he carved those sigils into the Winchester brothers’ ribs.

Clearly, Zachariah hasn’t figured out, yet, how Cas is keeping both brothers hidden from all angels.

Or maybe he knows Cas will suspect a trap, will know that plea for help wasn’t from Dean, and doesn’t care.

Because Cas knows Zachariah has his charges, which means he will be coming for them.

Carefully circling the old farmhouse Cas tracked ‘Dean’s’ prayers from, Cas spots sigils and traps, well hidden, but not well hidden enough, and can sense the presence of three other angels.

One of them feels like Zachariah, but the other two Cas doesn’t know.

It’s not the numbers he’d expected Zachariah to have on hand to deal with him. Yes, he’s cut off from Heaven, but Father knows it’ll take more than that to keep him from Dean and Sam.

Especially when Zachariah will flee at the first sign of Cas winning.

So something else is going on, and with no other choice, Cas flies into the room, tucks his wings away, and prepares to fight.

++

Zachariah’s the most twisted fucker Dean’s even met, and that includes Lucifer which is saying something. But he has them over a barrel here, and all Dean can think is that he doesn’t want anybody else dying for him.

He certainly doesn’t want an entire town dying for him, which is what will happen if he and Sam don’t go along with this.

Whatever shitty game Zachariah’s playing here, Dean’s tried to talk him out of it, but nothing worked.

Turns out giving them both agonising, incurable diseases as a way to make them say yes to possession is now off the cards.

“Michael prefers you choose, rather than be compelled,” Zachariah sneers.

Dean remembers what the archangel said to him, that night in the past. But if they can’t get bullied into it…

It doesn’t take the archangel long to explain. Without Cas, the brothers are down one hefty weapon, a powerful resource. Maybe they’ll fight on, for a while, but eventually Heaven will overcome two humans, no matter how much of a pain in the ass they’ve been so far.

And this, they’re sure, will get Cas to abandon them.

Because he might be a rebel, but he’s still an angel, and there are rules.

Fucking your brother breaks a pretty big one.

Which wouldn’t be a problem because Dean never in his life has entertained any such thought, and he knows Sam hasn’t either, except with the fates of a few thousand people in their hands….

He and Sam are both naked, hands covering their privates like they’re complete strangers, and not two guys who grew up in each other’s pockets.

Zachariah’s watching them, impatient. “Missing your cue,” he says, and snaps his fingers.

Dean figures that means Cas is close, and that Zachariah wants Cas to find one of them balls deep in the other.

Apparently incest is the thing they think will finally break Cas away from them.

Whether Zachariah is right or not. Dean suspects that he’ll probably kill everybody in that town, anyway.

Still…. Can he take that chance?

“Quit stalling,” Zachariah says. “Do I need to provide some mood music?”

He glances to the angel on his right, probably just one of the ones lying in wait for Cas to show up.

Though Dean gets the plan is to coax Cas back, to him get to rejoin the ranks, and desert his humans.

Dean doesn’t think for a second it’ll work, but he knows that like if Cas was suddenly left alone, they would keep fighting too.

“What did they play at that zoo, when they wanted the pandas to mate?” Zachariah’s snapping his fingers, like he’s trying to prod loose the memory. “Salut d’Amour? Or maybe you’d prefer something a little raunchier.”

He waves his hand at them, and it’s like they both get an invisible shove, and next thing Sam’s arms are locked around him, and there’s parts of his body that are in contact with parts of Sam’s body that just shouldn’t be in contact.

Ever.

“Why don’t you-“ Dean starts, but his vocal cords knot up on him.

Zachariah circles them, grinning like a lecher. “Pull up a chair and watch while Sammy puts you on your back and deep-dicks you? Don’t mind if I do.”

A chair comes grating across the floor to him, and Zachariah turns around to arrange it just so.

It’s only then Dean notices that the other angel, the muscle….

Isn’t there any more.

By the time Zachariah’s got his ass settled, and turns around to watch his self-scripted porno, neither are Sam and Dean.

++

Cas takes the brothers immediately to Bobby, pushes them onto the sofa, grabs the blankets folded on the arm and wraps them both up tight.

“That town,” Dean protests, but his voice is shaking. “Sam!”

Sam coughs, roughly, and his eyes water, but he can speak. “I’m okay. Cas, he was going to kill all those people.”

Cas reaches out, searching for the place being held over the brothers as a threat, and finds…

Nothing.

Zachariah always was a poor, bitter, loser.

But there’s time to break that news to the brothers later. For now, they need to focus on recovering, and Cas tells Bobby to watch them before he takes once more to flight.

Zachariah’s returning to Heaven, what’s left of his guard grouped around him.

It’s risky, but speed was always one of Cas’s strengths, and he spears into the middle of the group, knocking Zachariah right out of the ether before any of the other angels have a chance to react.

Zachariah tumbles away from him when they hit the ground, and lies there, panting and bloody.

“I’ll kill you,” he promises. “I’ll kill you and I’ll hang your wings from the gates.”

“You’ll try,” Cas says. He can feel the angels coming; he has moments at best. “You’ll fail. You touch either of those boys again, and I’ll send your wings back to Heaven. With your head.”

Then he goes, seconds before one of his sisters appears and slashes her blade at the space he was standing.

++

Sam grimaces as he swallows down the whiskey Bobby passes him; his throat still hurts, but at least his voice is back.

At least Cas got them out of there in time so he and Dean didn’t have to…

He can’t even nudge his mind in that direction.

They’ve filled Bobby in, and they know now that Zachariah carried out his threat.

The news stations are calling it the worst gas explosion in history, with an entire town destroyed. No survivors.

And that’s on them.

Dean hasn’t said a word since they found out, and Bobby’s given up trying to tell them otherwise.

The flutter of wings has him twisting around to see Cas appear behind him.

“You talk some sense into these idjits,” he says, and then backs his chair up and rolls it out of the den.

Cas crouches in front of them. “You know, then.”

Dean looks away, and Sam can tell he’s pissed at Cas for not being honest with them.

But, really, was telling them a few hundred people died because of them, right after they were nearly forced to rape each other, such a great idea?

Sam doesn’t want to know it now; he isn’t sure what the news would have done to him the moment after Cas set them down on the couch.

“It isn’t your fault,” the angel says. “That town, those people… They were likely already dead from the moment Zachariah formulated this plan.”

And Sam knows that. Figures Dean does, too, but even so that’s a few hundred more people dead because of them, however you want to look at it.

Cas finds Sam’s hand beneath the blankets, and then Dean’s, and holds on.

“The only person to blame is Zachariah,” he says. “And in case you doubted it, there is nothing you can do that will make me turn away from you. Do you understand?”

Dean finally looks at Cas, and Sam can see the tears gleaming in his eyes.

“Yeah,” he says, at last, and then he slumps sideways so he can lean on Sam.

They sleep there, that night, and Cas is still there when they wake, sitting in Bobby’s old chair, one of Dean’s, uh, magazines, in his lap.

He seems completely confused, and Sam notices with a wince that he’s also not wearing gloves.

That’s probably something he needs to speak to Cas about, but like the angel said...

Nothing can push him away from them.

Which is good, because as far as they’re concerned, Cas is family, which means it’s with them he belongs.