Between one second and the next, Cas realised Sam had been right, that answering the summons from Bobby was a mistake, and that he was in trouble.
He kept what Dean would call his poker face, however, and even smiled when Bobby congratulated him, and Sam, on their achievements.
Even as Bobby spoke, Cas noted the subtle change in the people around them; they all no doubt thought their behaviour had gone unobserved, but nearly a third of them were now standing been Cas and the door, and Bobby was toying with a lighter he’d picked up from a nearby table.
Bobby didn’t smoke.
But there was intent in the way he handled it.
Had his senses not been so affected by his current condition, Cas suspected he would have noticed the heady smell of holy oil when he entered, even with the attempt at masking it beneath air freshener.
Given that none of the others were closer than ten feet, Cas figured he was sitting in the middle of a tight circle; Bobby’s posture and the movement of his cohorts told Cas he probably had seconds at best before his situation worsened.
“I just…”. Bobby sighed. “I’m just missing my boys, ya know?”
That had been the first honest thing Bobby had said since Cas sat down. The other lies he’d heard, he couldn’t fathom why Bobby was deceiving him.
Why the Winchesters’ father was suddenly on the opposite side of them.
Perhaps he’d have a chance to find out, but at that moment there was one priority and one only.
Getting out of there alive.
Sam paced the throne room, reaching down to pet the hellhound that also paced, whining, by his side.
They really were empathetic creatures, and Sam finally had not just one but several dogs.
Dean hated all of them, but Sam figured that was only natural; one (none of the ones currently in Hell) had ripped him apart, and grudges and night fears died hard.
But Dean knew none of Sam’s pets, or anything else in his brother’s kingdom, would dare hurt him, so he at least didn’t fear.
“I knew this was a bad idea,” he said, and glanced at Dean for support when his brother didn’t immediately respond.
“Which part?” Dean was leaning against the throne, watching him, and anyone would have thought he really had little interest in why Sam was wearing a track through Hell’s floor.
Sam wasn’t fooled. His brother was on edge, even if he’d wisely decided not to get in the middle of the argument.
The one Sam had regretted the minute it had begun, and was regretting even more now, as well as much of what he’d said.
Sam glared, then slumped his way to the throne and dropped, dejected, into it.
“We both wanted Bobby to be okay with this,” he told Dean. “We both wanted him to be...our Bobby.”
“Yep.” Dean wasn’t even looking at him now, or even at the hellhound that had followed Sam over and plopped itself down next to him, and was currently nuzzling his fingers supportively.
“Not like…”. He trailed off. They didn’t talk about mom, not just because of what had happened between them all, and it wasn’t what Sam was referring to, anyway.
When Mary came back, she was a stranger to Sam, so it was easier for him in a way.
She was not a stranger to Dean, or so they thought, but it took Dean time to realise that the Mary in his memories had never actually existed.
Bobby was different. They’d both known him, he’d been there for them growing up, he was their second dad.
But unlike with Mary, who had been in the same predicament as them he supposed just from the other side, Bobby had been with them through their darkest moments, and never flinched or shown any sign of backing away.
It was frightening and unnerving to think that might have changed, and Sam had railed initially against the idea, unwilling to even consider it, but now…
“I shouldn’t have let him go.
“Ahuh. You really think you could have stopped him?”
Sam twisted to look up at his brother, motioned to the throne he was sitting on.
He scowled when Dean laughed. “Yeah, okay. You’re whipped and we both know it, Sammy. And he wasn’t wrong; we don’t know for sure Bobby’s gotten all bent out of shape over this, but you said it yourself: there’s a way these things are done.”
Sam cursed himself, remembering saying those exact words when Bobby had first requested a ‘visit’. But ruling Hell wasn’t just about receiving damned souls, ensuring they stayed down there, and making sure his demons behaved.
Hell had factions, not all of them cowed by the Boy King, and it also had a surprising amount of politics.
Sam had no desire to end up plunging the pit into a civil war, not with his family at stake, not to mention the innocents above.
Apparently, it just wasn’t done for the King of Hell to go parlay with a human, especially the self styled leader of a new army of hunters.
Even if he’d once been their family.
It was pretty telling, Sam guessed, that he’d finally accepted that.
He glanced up at Dean, saw his brother had already come to that realisation, and was just waiting on Sam giving the word.
Because apparently now he was in charge, he was in charge of everything.
(Except his consort and, to be honest, he knew that even if he told Dean to stay - he’d never - Dean would go anyway).
“Bring you all home safe,” he said. He glanced at the hellhound lounging at his feet. “You want company?”
Dean muttered something under his breath, stepped over the hound, and headed for the door.
Bobby’s return was a gift from Heaven, an attempt to curry favour with the new king of Hell.
Given how the last one had turned out, Cas was ready for that to be a rough ride, especially when word reached them of Bobby gathering up the hunters he knew and arranging some new recruits.
Especially since his contacts with Sam and Dean became fewer and further between, and even those were guarded.
Sam and Dean, Cas had suspected, even wary because of the last time a dead relation had been returned to them, were still too close to the problem to see it for what it was.
And that had been part of what had caused the argument with Sam.
That, and Sam’s…. Controlling was too strong a word, but Cas couldn’t help but feel a little smothered in Hell, which it turned out had more archaic bureaucracy than even Heaven.
And it had caused some changes between them.
Not just that, though, Cas knew. It wasn’t simple.
Not at all.
He stepped over the last of the bodies, hating that fighting, killing had become necessary but when he realised the plans Bobby had for him…
He really had no choice.
The old hunter was slumped against the wall, breathing hard, one hand clamped against his dislocated shoulder, glaring up at Cas.
“You had to do this?” Cas stood over him.
Bobby looked around at what was left of his hunter militia. “Did you?”
Cas clenched his fists. “You ask me that? What was your plan? To keep me here until my time came? Then what? To separate me from her? Kill me and raise her as a human? A hunter? A weapon?”
Bobby groaned at the pain. “Didn’t want history repeating itself. Wasn’t gonna hurt you, Cas.”
No? In that case, just keep him prisoner here.
Cas shuddered at the thought of being forcibly separated from his family, imprisoned and surrounded by strangers for one of the most intimate moments of his life.
He could feel no sympathy then for Bobby, or his fallen hunters, but he did regret that he would have to tell the brothers his fears had been justified.
Bobby’s face said it all.
“I want one thing from you,” Cas said. “Don’t let them find you. I don’t want them to have to kill you.”
Dean pulled up behind Cas’s truck, and got out. He took a good look around, expecting to at least see a guard, or two, but either they were closet ninjas or Bobby had gotten real sloppy.
Neither was likely, and that put Dean on edge.
He drew his gun, and started towards the old farm that Bobby had set up as his shiny new hunter academy.
Less than half way there, a familiar figure stepped out of the door, and Dean felt relief near overwhelm him.
Until Cas staggered down the steps, and grabbed for the fence, used it to hold himself up.
Dean ran to him, slid one arm around the angel’s waist, helped him away from the building.
“What the fuck, Cas? Are you...are you okay?”
Cas slumped against him, groaning, but there wasn’t any blood, thank fuck, there was just…
The angel’s gaze was focused like a laser on the Impala. “We need to get back.”
“My waters broke. Dean, we need to get...we need to get home.”
Dean glanced to their vehicles. Did a quick calculation of just how long it’d take him to get them there.
“How far apart are your contractions?” Because Rowena had warned them, this being Cas’s first kid, and the first angel-demon offspring maybe ever....
Cas’s labour would be unpredictable, and maybe very, very fast.
“Too close,” he groaned, and then he nearly doubled over, would have gone down if Dean hadn’t been holding him up.
There was no chance they’d make it home.
But that also meant there was no safe place nearby for Cas to give birth. Doing it in the back of the Impala, on Bobby’s doorstep?
“We won’t get back in time,” he told Cas. “Can you hold off ‘til I at least get some miles between us and the academy?”
He tugged open the door, and Cas braced himself against it as another contraction tore through him.
Fuck, Dean hurt just looking at him.
“There’s no academy,” he panted. “Not any more.”
Dean felt a chill move through him. “Cas?”
“I didn’t kill Bobby,” the angel grated out.
Dean glanced back once more at the old farmhouse.
Then Cas was moaning his name, and Dean figured whatever had happened in there was a story for another time.
“Dean. Dean, I need to push.”
Dean was kneeling on the back seat of his car, positioned between Cas’s legs, and he looked up to shake his head.
“No, not yet, Cas. Just hold on, okay? Breathe with me.”
He reached out and grabbed Cas’s hands, taking one deep steady breath after another, and Cas followed, but the next contraction felt like he was being torn in two from the inside out and made continuing that even pace impossible.
“I don’t want to be here,” Cas said. This...This wasn’t how it was meant to go. The three of them...they’d chosen a room ‘downstairs’, set it up with everything Cas might need for the birth, and instead he was here and…
Dean reached forward, cupped Sam’s face, made the angel look at him.
“Cas. You’re gonna be okay. My niece is gonna be okay. And then I’ll get you both home, okay? I’ll keep you safe, angel. You know that, right?”
Cas nodded. Yes, he did. He knew it, and he trusted, and then Dean let go, and looked down, and Cas saw him tense up.
“Okay, Cas. Time to push.”
Sam lay in silence, stroking a hand through Cas’s hair as the exhausted angel slept against him.
His gaze seldom left the crib near the bed, or the dozing baby inside.
And that sent his thoughts someplace he didn’t want them to go…. To a different set up, one Bobby had in mind, Cas chained down and in labor only to have someone take their daughter from him as soon as she’d entered the world.
He cried silently, from relief and anger and...grief…
Bobby wasn’t dead, Cas had spared him, and yet he was in a sense.
He was not the man they knew, the one who would have forgiven them anything.
Except, it seemed, this. Taking up the mantle of King Of Hell, because there was no one else to do it, no one that wouldn’t unleash a torment on the world above, no one who wouldn’t start a war with Heaven that would have consequences for everybody.
He didn’t know how Bobby could have done that, decided to hurt Cas so badly, and them by extension, all the first part of some plan of attack against them.
A plan that had failed, for now, thanks to Cas.
He was glad that Dean was too focused on getting Cas and their kid home to have time to go back to the farmhouse.
What had to be done next wasn’t something he wanted to fall on Dean.
No. He wore the crown, now, and Bobby was going to learn just what Sam had become.
No one did what he’d done, and got away with it.