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Dean waited.

And waited and waited and waited some more. He sat down, kicked his boots up onto the table, scuffing it. He got up and paced the length of the room. He knocked on parts of the wall, searching for a hidden doorway. He picked up the pieces of bric-a-brac, one by one, and looked underneath them, hoping to find a switch or a lever, something that would get him out. He made leering faces at the half-naked figures painted on the walls.

He stood in the middle of the room and shouted as loud as he could, waiting as the vibrations resonated and echoed and finally died out.

He was stuck. And screwed.

And all the while this prickle of unease, this fear that something else was going on here, something he didn’t know about that would kill him slowly if he knew it. Whatever it was, he prayed that at the very least Sam and Gabriel were working on it, and that it didn’t involve Cas.

Cas. Cas whom he’d loved and lost and found again and loved again only to push him away. Out of concern for his safety, sure, but Cas had done the same for him, and Dean had been mad as hell about it. How was this not hypocrisy?

He should have stayed by Cas’ side no matter what. Damn the consequences.

“Oh, look at you, Dean. Always torturing yourself. No different than when you were a boy.”

Dean whirled. A confident, easy smile; a tightly slicked mop of dark hair; eyes that were bright with compassion and drive.

“You’re--”

John Winchester, no older than twenty-five, grinned and raised his hand. “Hi, Dean.”

“But you can’t be. I’m hallucinating.”

“Guess again.”

Dean’s brain stopped moving. “Uh... I’ve gone back in time again.”

John stepped forward. “Let me make this a little clearer. Your father has some work he wants you to do. I think it’ll be easier for you to say yes to him, am I right? You’ve never been able to disobey your dad’s orders, have you, Dean?”

The walls seemed to bulge in and out. The room was going liquid beneath his perception. The faces on the frescoes were all staring at him. Dean reached for one of the small tables to hold himself upright; his fingers knocked a vase off, and it crashed into a million pieces on the ground.

“Michael.”

* * *

Sam hated to admit it but this was kind of fun. He and Gabriel had found a quiet corner of the library and were currently poring over books older than anything Sam had ever seen. In fact the librarian had glared at them sternly and handed them special gloves to wear before they could even handle the books.

He turned the page carefully, fearful that he was going to damage it with his giant hands.

Gabriel snorted, causing Sam to look up. “What?”

“You. Handling this book like it’s a delicate flower. It’s funny.”

“Why? They’re old. They need to be handled carefully.”

And then the familiar leer appeared on Gabriel’s face. “Because, idiot, I’m thousands of years older than this book and you don’t handle me carefully. In fact I’d prefer it if you didn’t. I like it a bit rough, if you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, unfortunately I do,” Sam sighed.

“You know what your problem is?” Gabriel asked suddenly, leaning forward with his elbows on the table. “You need to relax. Have some fun. You’re too uptight. Come on Sammy, give me a smile. I know you’ve got one in there.”

Sam’s lips twitched and then he frowned, pushing it away. “I don’t really have much to smile about right now. Or have you forgotten about the impending apocalypse?”

“Of course I haven’t forgotten, but I’m not sitting around brooding about it either. You’re alive, Sam, for now at least. That’s something to smile about if nothing else.”

He didn’t want to smile. Really, he didn’t, but now Gabriel was pulling the most ridiculous faces at him and he couldn’t help himself.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Gabriel asked when Sam started involuntarily chuckling.

Sam had to admit that it did.

He stretched his legs and they bumped against Gabriel’s under the table.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, Sam.”

When Gabriel’s legs started rubbing slowly against his Sam didn’t move away.

“You know, you’re not at all like I thought you were.”

“I’ll take that as a --”

Suddenly Gabriel’s whole body went rigid in his seat, a low keening moan sounding in the back of his throat.

Sam was out of his chair in an instant, moving around to Gabriel’s side and brushing a soothing hand up his arm.

“Gabriel? What’s wrong. Talk to me!”

Gabriel turned to face him and a single tear rolled down his cheek.

“Castiel. He’s in trouble.”

Sam’s body went cold.

“Where?”

* * *

“You guys have pulled a lot of shady crap trying to get us to this point,” Dean said, his eyes lowered, “but this has to be the lowest of the low.”

Michael, wearing John’s face, smiled at him with saccharine sweetness. “Dean. We could sit here and debate tactics, but there’s a war out there that needs to be fought, and I need you if I’m going to fight it. So what do you say? Just one little word.”

“Oh, I can think of a few little words,” Dean retorted. “How about go screw yourself, to start with?”

Michael raised his eyebrows. “Really? I thought you already agreed to come without a fight. Wasn’t that the deal you made with Zachariah? You’d say yes, as long as we kept that pretty little toy of yours alive?”

“Shut up.”

“Castiel is still our prisoner, you know.” Michael’s expression darkened. “We can change our mind about him anytime we want.”

“You know something?” Dean pointed a finger at him. His whole body was shaking with rage. “You may be the big deal up in heaven, but truth is, you’re nothing but a dick with an anger management problem and a rich daddy. You’re probably used to getting your way, and I’m guessing you don’t even know what to do when somebody stands up to you.”

“I know what to do,” Michael said, glowering. “I crush him.”

“Oh, but you can’t crush me, can you?” Dean smirked. “You need me. And you can’t go crying to Daddy, either, because he’s gone. You’re nothing but a dumb kid, and Castiel is ten times the angel you are. He learned to think for himself. And no matter what you do to him or me, he will always be better than you. Always.”

Michael was silent then, for a long time. Beneath the borrowed brow of John Winchester, there was a storm brewing in his eyes.

“I would not say such things if I were you,” he murmured.

“Oh I’ll say whatever the hell I want to. Starting with this, you gigantic piece of crap: No. No, and no some more. Kill me, raise me back up, a thousand times, I will still never say yes to you.”

“Then you will never see your beloved Castiel again,” Michael said, and flung his hand outward, twisting a clenched fist.

Somewhere far away, Castiel screamed as the life was ripped from his body.

* * *

Gabriel let out a huff of frustration and halted in his tracks, causing Sam to collide into the back of him.

“This is useless. I have no idea where he is. I don’t even know if he’s still in the city.”

They were standing in an alley, having already spent about an hour roaming around trying to find Castiel.

“I can’t even feel him anymore,” Gabriel said softly and Sam didn’t want to think about what that meant.

He laid a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll find him. I have faith.”

Gabriel whirled around to face him, eyes blazing and face dark with rage. “Is that supposed to be a joke?”

“What? No! I meant I have faith in you!”

Gabriel’s expression softened and melted into one of pity as he laughed dryly. “You need to find something else to believe in, Sam.”

“Maybe I don’t want to,” Sam replied. “I’ve seen you work, Gabriel. How determined you are. Come on, you killed Dean over a hundred times just to get a message through to me. I know you can can find Castiel. You just need to believe in yourself.”

For a moment Gabriel just stared at him, like Sam was some sort of strange alien creature. Then he closed the distance between them and kissed him softly.

“You’re a good kid, Sam. I don’t get how after everything that’s happened you can still see good in the world. Thank you.”

Sam smiled. “You’re welcome.”

“It’s not myself I need to believe in, though,” Gabriel added.

“What?”

Gabriel dropped to his knees, closed his eyes and bowed his head.

“Dad, it’s me. I wouldn’t even be asking if it was anyone else, but I know you have a soft spot for Castiel and he needs help. I know I don’t deserve any favors for bailing on you but do it for him. Please.”

Sam could only stand there and watched, awed while Gabriel prayed for the first time in centuries, and when he looked up they were in a room with Castiel.

Unfortunately he was already quite dead.

* * *

Dean paced the room, his skin prickling with anxiety as he waited. He needed to get out of here. He needed to find Cas. All he could see in his mind was the cruel sneer on Michael’s face when he informed Dean that Castiel was dead. He wouldn’t believe it. He couldn’t. Anyway, Cas had already proved that being killed didn’t really slow him down much. He’d be okay.

Dean hoped.

Michael would be back, apparently he was working on the misguided belief that some time alone would be all Dean needed to change his mind.

All it was doing was giving Dean time to come up with inventive ways to kill the son of a bitch.

* * *

Kripke’s Hollow was a nice, quiet place to lead a nice, quiet life, far away from the craziness of cities and apocalyptic madness. That’s why Chuck Shurley stayed holed up in his little house, surrounded by booze and typewriters, hiding behind his assumed name and opening his door only to let Becky in for the occasional bout of alcoholic-writers-need-love-too. It was comfortable, and avoided the urgencies of the world, and he rather liked it just the way it was.

So when the doorbell rang, Chuck, true to form, didn’t answer it.

Again and again the tone tolled, an annoying cuckoo clock, until he finally shoved on some pants, grumbled his way down the stairs, and opened the door to say, “I’m not buying,” before promptly shutting it again.

Another ring. And had he seen a dead body on the other side of that front door?

Chuck opened the door slowly, saw a bit of Sam Winchester’s face, and tried to close it again. No such luck; Sam wedged his foot in the door. “Chuck, don’t you dare shut us out. We need your help.”

“Sam! Uh. yeah. Uh, now’s not really a good time...”

“Cas is dead, Chuck.”

“Right. Uh... yeah, I know, I saw it, sorry about that.”

“Sorry about that?” Sam forced the door open. Gabriel waved a hello and shifted under the weight of his brother’s body. “That’s all you have to say? Look at him, Chuck!”

Chuck was looking, but not at Castiel’s body. “You’re the T-- you’re G-- you’re--”

“Hi, Chuckie.” Gabriel grinned, showing a frightening number of teeth. “Mind if we drop the stiff off and stay awhile?”

“Uh. . .”

“Awesome.”

They shoved their way past him and carefully deposited Castiel on the couch.

“So,” Gabriel said once they had arranged Castiel’s limbs into a vaguely comfortable position, “we need a miracle.”

“I still don’t get why we came here for one,” Sam muttered under his breath. “What can Chuck do?”

“Yeah, what can I do?” Chuck echoed with a nervous smile.

Gabriel flashed him a predatory smile. “I happen to know a lot about hiding on Earth, Chuck. You know anything about that?”

Sam looked from Gabriel to Chuck and back to Gabriel. Something was going on here, but he had no idea what. “Wait a second,” he said, his brow furrowing. “I thought we were coming here for a prediction. What’s this about a miracle? And does--”

He turned and gaped at Chuck. “No. No way. You can’t be...”

“An angel? No, he’s not.” Gabriel chuckled. “Look, Sam, the less you know here the better. But suffice it to say, this is the place we need to be right now.”

“Forget it,” Chuck said, backing away in the distinct direction of the liquor cabinet. “Whatever you want, just-- just forget it. I don’t want to be any part of this. I’m sorry about Cas, honestly I am, but--”

A shoe fell from above and hit him in the head.

Stomping unevenly on one heel, Becky Rosen came down the stairs huffing. “Don’t you dare, Chuck, I’m serious, don’t you start!” She stopped to lean over the railing far enough for Sam to see her cleavage, blowing him a kiss. “Hi, Sam,” she crooned musically, and then started right up again. “You are such a wuss sometimes, I swear! What are you so scared of, anyway? Afraid Zachariah will come kick your scrawny little butt?” She leaned over, took off the other stiletto, and clocked him with it. Chuck doubled over and moaned.

Barefoot now, Becky stood on her tiptoes and wandered, hips swaying, over to Sam. “You’re looking as mmm as ever. Growing your hair out?” She reached up and took a lock of it in her hand. Sam flinched. “It’s going to be so pretty, but you’ve got to tame those sideburns. Trust me. I know. By the way? I use Vidal Sassoon. Totally worth the price.”

“Uh, thanks?”

“For what? Sam, who is this?” Gabriel was glaring at Becky with open hostility.

Becky barely spared him a glance. “Anyway. You’ll have to excuse Chuck. He’s got his boxers in a bind about Zachariah these days.”

At the sound of the name, Chuck visibly flinched.

“Wimp,” she shot back, turning, and leaned over the couch to look at Castiel’s body. “Poor thing,” she said, stroking a hand through Castiel’s hair. “Chuck, you have to fix this. Dean will be heartbroken when he finds out that his boyfriend is dead.”

Sam cleared his throat. “You know about Dean and Cas?”

Becky turned back to face him. “Of course! Chuck lets me read his rough drafts and I wanted to get the Dean/Castiel website set up before the books got published. Besides, I can see now that you and Dean aren’t really. . . you know. Dean and Castiel though...”

Her eyes glazed and she sighed happily for a moment before she moved her attention back to Chuck. “So, you have to fix it. Don’t break my new OTP, Chuck.”

“Becky, I don’t want to break your new whatever you just said but I can’t help.”

She sighed sadly. “It’s because of Zachariah, isn’t it? You’ve never been the same since he showed up and bullied you into writing when you wanted to stop.”

“Come on,” Chuck whined, “I told you that in private.”

“You can trust Sam!” Becky glowed. “He’s your main character!”

Gabriel tapped his foot. “As much as I appreciate the lovefest here, guys... we’ve got a world to keep from ending?”

“Look,” Sam said to Chuck. “I promise you we will kick Zachariah’s ass so hard he won’t even be able to think about bothering you again. Besides, Gabriel here is an archangel. He can keep you safe. Just, please, we need your help.”

Now Chuck looked interested and he eyed Gabriel for a moment before moving over to kneel beside Castiel. “Okay, I don’t know much, but what I do know is that Castiel is only mostly dead. There’s still a bit of his grace left. Just a tiny fraction.”

Becky bounced up and down and clapped her hands with glee. “Ooh! I wrote about this once. Is the bit of his grace in Dean from when Castiel pulled him out of Hell and restored his body?”

Chuck stared at her for a moment. “No.”

“Oh.”

“Okay,” Gabriel interrupted. “So Cas still has a tiny bit of juice left in him. How do we wake him up?”

“Maybe Dean needs to kiss him,” Becky suggested hopefully. “Like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.”

“In case you hadn’t noticed, Dean isn’t here.”

“It’s kind of like a fire,” Chuck said, putting a hand over Castiel’s heart. “There’s a little ember there still burning, but it can’t power up without something to help it grow.” He spoke almost reverently, as though he wasn’t aware of the back-and-forth going on behind him. His eyes were fixed on Castiel’s face. “He just needs a spark.”

“Like a jump-start for his grace?” Sam said, and Chuck nodded.

“Kind of like that. But it’d have to be a lot bigger than that.”

“I’ve got it,” Gabriel said immediately, and moved over to kneel down beside Chuck.

Sam watched him curiously. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to start the fire.”

Chuck turned to him. “You-- you can’t. It’d weaken you.”

“So what?”

“So, call me crazy, but you guys still have to save the world, remember?” Chuck’s eyes were wide with panic. “This is going to take a chunk out of your mojo, isn’t it? Even if you bring him back, the two of you together won’t be strong enough to stop Michael and Lucifer.”

Gabriel grinned. His eyes were strangely calm. “But it won’t be just the two of us.”

Chuck swallowed. “Huh?”

A glance upward, a nod at Sam. “We’ve got Sam. And Dean, too, once we find out where they’re keeping him.”

“They’re just humans--”

“Exactly. They’re humans. And if there’s anything I’ve learned hanging out down here, it’s that you don’t want to underestimate these guys. Don’t tell me you haven’t gotten the same message.”

Sam wanted to step forward, to ask what was going on, who Chuck was really, but he couldn’t bring the question to his throat. There was a lump keeping it down, one that formed when Gabriel looked up at him with that much faith burning in his eyes, and he tried unsuccessfully to swallow it as Gabriel glanced at him again, winked, and said, “Don’t read anything into this, Sam.”

He leaned over the couch and pressed his mouth to Castiel’s.

Becky made a squeaking noise in her throat and clapped her hands over her mouth. Sam blinked hard. Chuck just sat and watched. And then the room filled with golden-white light.

It faded out, leaving a tingling sense of radiance skating over Sam’s skin, and then his attention snapped to Castiel’s softly blinking eyes.

“Dean?” he said.

“Sadly, no.” Gabriel grinned at him. “But we need you to get him back. So, hello again. Sorry to wake you up, Sleeping Beauty.”

At this, Becky squealed even louder and beat her way upstairs murmuring something about a ship and something involving the letters A and U. A moment later, furious typing could be heard, along with the cackle of maniacal laughter.

“Don’t ask,” Chuck said with a sigh.

Sam shrugged. “Wasn’t going to.”

* * *

It didn’t take them long to fill Castiel in on what had happened while he was mostly dead, and as soon as he was up to speed he struggled to his feet and insisted they find Dean immediately.

“Zachariah did not keep his side of the bargain. We must find Dean before he says yes to Michael.”

“That was the plan,” Gabriel replied with a weary smile. “You ready to get out of here and find your boytoy?”

Sam moved over and helped Gabriel to his feet. “What about you? How are you feeling?”

“I’ve had worse,” Gabriel grinned. “So, does anyone know where we should be looking for Dean?”

Chuck shook his head. “I’ve seen it, but it’s the same place he was taken last time. I don’t know where it is though.

“I know,” Castiel said, staggering over to Sam and Gabriel with his hands outstretched.

“Whoa!” Sam exclaimed, stepping back and pulling Gabriel with him. “We can’t just charge in there without a plan.”

“The plan is we retrieve Dean, kill Zachariah and escape.”

“Oh, good,” Gabriel replied dryly. “Well, now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s go.”

Castiel stepped forward again but Gabriel took another step back. “Hold on there, little bro. You were mostly dead five minutes ago. How about you let me get us where we need to go.”

“The Green Room is in Van Nuys, California. Hidden in an old warehouse.”

Gabriel placed a hand on Sam and Castiel’s arms and blinked them out of Chuck’s living room.

* * *

They landed just outside the warehouse and Sam barely had the chance to catch his bearings before Gabriel’s legs buckled. Sam’s body moved before he was aware of it, and he was catching Gabriel in his arms, holding him upright as Castiel stood apart from the two of them, looking up at the ugly, shingled facade.

“You’re crazy,” he said, frowning down at Gabriel. “You heard what Chuck said.”

“And you were gonna have us drive the whole way?” Gabriel said weakly. “Gimme a break. I’ll recover. You better let me go before Cas gets the right impression.”

At this, Castiel looked over briefly but quickly lost interest. Sam let Gabriel go, amazed to discover he was doing so reluctantly.

“He’s in there,” Castiel said, frowning. “I can feel his presence. And Michael has been here too. But he’s gone.”

“So Dean said no,” Sam said with a relieved smile.

“For now. But we’ve seen the lengths Michael will go to. Our only hope is to get to Dean before Michael returns.”

“That place is gonna be guarded like crazy,” Gabriel said. “There’s gotta be a dozen angels in there. Too many for you to take on at once. Let me buy you some time.”

Sam caught his breath. “You just nearly killed yourself teleporting us, and now you want to fight a dozen angels?”

“Relax, kid.” But Gabriel sighed resolutely before going on. “Archangel, remember? I could eat them for breakfast. Not without butter, though.”

Sam glanced at Castiel. “Is he telling the truth?”

“Not entirely. He is weakened. But Sam-- he’s our best chance.” Urgency lit Castiel’s eyes.

“No.”

“Sam, we all must sacrifice if we are to avert the apocalypse.”

“Easy for you to say, it’s not you,” Sam snapped.

“He’s right.” Gabriel put a hand on the door. “I can mess with their minds long enough to give you an opening. But you have to get in there, get Dean, and get out no matter what happens to me.”

“Bull.”

Sam pulled him away from the door. “We’re in this together. We can give Cas a chance to get in there, together. Come on. There’s got to be some way I can help, some way I can protect you.”

“Sam?” Gabriel’s eyes were wide and round, as though he genuinely didn’t know what was going on.

Taking a deep breath, Sam steadied his hands on Gabriel’s shoulders. “I’m not letting you go in there alone,” he said. His hand cupped the back of Gabriel’s neck, and then he was pulling Gabriel up, leaning down, until their mouths met in a soft kiss. Gabriel gasped against his mouth once, then closed his eyes and wrapped his hands tight around Sam’s waist, his eyes closing. The kiss lingered, and then, with a soft sound of lips parting, ended.

Gabriel exhaled. “I... uh...”

Sam just smiled at him.

Castiel cleared his throat, shattering the mood into a thousand pieces. Sam and Gabriel looked around in unison.

“I may have an idea,” he said.

* * *

Gabriel strolled into the warehouse like it was a diner and he was getting ready to order breakfast. Well, he had joked to Sam that he ate angels for breakfast after all.

Castiel’s estimate had been correct and there were twelve angels standing guard outisde what looked to be a plain door.

“Showtime,” Gabriel grinned.

The angels all turned towards him, swords appearing in their hands as Gabriel drew his own. Then, from behind him, another version of Gabriel appeared followed by another and another until there was one for every angel in the room.

“Your tricks won’t stop us,” one of the angels said.

“Yeah?” All the Gabriels asked at once. “But how do you know which one is the real me?”

“We’ll kill them all until we get to you.”

And with that the angels attacked.

Sam took a moment to watch. He hadn’t intended to but he couldn’t help himself. The copies of Gabriel were so realisic, all of them fighting in whichever way suited the battle, that he could barely believe they were creations.

“Sam?” Castiel prompted. “Our plan?”

He moved, charging into the fray armed with an angel sword of his own and attacking wherever the opportunity allowed. He was amazed when the first angel fell under his blows. He’d been convinced that the demon blood inside him would stop him from being able to wield a holy weapon. Around him angels fell and some of the Gabriel copies disappeared as they were ‘killed’ but twelve archangels, even if they were fake, plus himself were able to overcome them easily.

When the battle was over the remaining copies flickered and disappeared from sight. A moment later Gabriel staggered into the warehouse.

“Told you they were too stupid to realise none of them were actually me,” he panted.

Sam smiled and move towards him but he was too late. Before he was even halfway across the room Gabriel’s eyes rolled back and he crumpled to the floor having used up the last of his energy.

It was up to Castiel now.

* * *

As per the plan Castiel used the distraction of the angels to sneak into the room where Dean was being held.

Dean was pacing the room like a caged animal and he froze mid-stride when he saw Castiel enter the room.

“Cas?”

“Dean.”

One word, his name, simple and level. No emotion, or emotion barely held in check. Dean didn’t know, and he sure didn’t give a damn.

“You’re dead,” he breathed.

“I was. Mostly.”

“This is a trick. You’re Michael, back to jump my bones.”

Castiel shook his head.

“Cas--” And Dean turned on him, strode toward him, seized his upper arms with strong hands and yanked him close. Castiel gave a shuddering breath and lost his balance, slumping into Dean’s arms, grabbing his shirt to keep from falling. “Cas, what-- what’s wrong?”

“I already told you. I was mostly dead.”

“Oh, who the hell cares?” Dean couldn’t keep back his grin. “You’re alive. Thank God, Cas. Thank God. Or whoever.” The throwaway was all the humor Dean could muster before he lost the strength to do anything but hold Castiel close and sigh with relief into his skin.

Castiel’s voice rasped hot into his ear. “We need to leave. Now. Before--”

“Before what?” said a familiar, snide voice from behind them.

“Before we return?” The next voice from the other side of the room.

Dean and Castiel broke from their embrace, but remained close to each other as they turned to face Zachariah. A glance over Castiel’s shoulder revealed Michael to be in the room with them too.

They were so screwed.

The two angels closed in, cutting off any means of escape that might have been open to Dean and Castiel. A quick look at Cas told Dean that teleporting out was off the cards. Cas looked exhausted and was still holding onto Dean to keep himself upright.

“You know, I really must make more of an effort to kill you properly this time,” Michael said as he closed in on them.

Castiel pulled out of Dean’s grasp and straightened even though his breathing was still coming in labored gasps. “You can try.”

Michael chuckled. “Oh, Castiel. You speak as though wiping you from existence would take more than a minimal amount of effort. I don’t need to ‘try’ to obliterate you. I’m just hoping Dean will see sense and say yes before it comes to that.”

“Not happening,” Dean growled. “I learned my lesson the first time. You’re gonna kill us, kill us.”

“Oh, please.” Michael rolled his eyes. “I wouldn’t waste the breath it takes to wipe either of you miserable meat suits off the map. Look at Castiel. He can barely stand up, much less go up against me. No, I think I’ll let Zachariah take care of him. At least there’s almost a challenge there.”

Zachariah smirked and drew his blade. “You know, it almost seems cruel to go against someone without the strength to fight back. Only almost, though.”

“Yeah? How about I even the odds.”

Dean had never been more relieved to see Gabriel in his life. The archangel was leaning casually against the doorframe, trademark smirk in place while Sam hovered anxiously behind him.

Michael’s eyes narrowed. He gave Gabriel a once-over, then smirked. “Why, Gabriel. You look like you’ve had a little juice drained from you. I guess that explains how this one’s still standing.” He nodded at Castiel, who was still glaring at him, lips drawn tight into a pouting frown. “You don’t honestly think you can take me on right now, do you?”

“I was never a match for you, that’s no surprise.” Gabriel pulled out a silver blade and twirled it. “But Zach over here? Him I can take.”

Zachariah gave a scornful little puff of breath, but he looked slightly nervous, backing away a few steps.

“Hello,” Gabriel said with a cheerful wave. “My name is Gabriel. You fucked with my boyfriend. Prepare to die.”

“Your what?” said Dean and Sam in complete unison. Sam turned red. Dean glanced at him and gaped.

Gabriel grinned briefly at Dean. “Long story.” And then he advanced on Zachariah and within a moment had plunged his blade deep into Zachariah’s chest.

His cry of triumph was cut short when Zachariah wrested the blade away . Not a single drop of blood fell, and with a series of clinks, the sword skidded across the floor and came to a stop beneath the table, where it lay uselessly.

“My goodness,” Zachariah said with a short laugh. “Is that really you? The great Gabriel? I knew you’d been rolling around in the mud for a while, but you’ve really lost your mojo. I’m under Michael’s protection in this room, you moron. You really think you can hurt me with that sword?”

“With that sword? No.” Gabriel shrugged. “But with the binding sigil I just scratched on the surface of your heart?”

He grinned. Zachariah looked down, confusion on his face.

“Trapped in your human vessel,” Gabriel pointed out helpfully. “Which means that if he dies...”

“You die,” Dean said, plunging the real blade between Zachariah’s ribs.

Zachariah started down at the blade in his chest with something akin to horror with a mixture of fascination.

“You. . .”

The rattled word was all he was able to get out before he slumped to the floor, blood soaking the front of his shirt as his wide eyes stared into nothingness.

Michael stared at Zachariah’s body for a moment before turning his attention back to the group that had brought about his demise.

“I hope you don’t think this changes anything. Zachariah was simply a tool. He meant nothing to me. No, you are going to say yes to me Dean if I have to pick off your friends here one at a time. I can tell you now that I won’t make it quick. All of them will suffer. In fact I may make you watch.”

“I’ve told you before,” Dean growled in a voice that belied the anxiety he was actually feeling, “it’s not going to happen. Ever. And if you kill any of them, or hurt them in any way so help me I will hunt you down and end you.”

Michael raised an eyebrow, an amused. “Dean, you are still under the misguided notion that you are more than an insignificant little speck. If my vessel didn’t run through your bloodline I wouldn’t even register your existence.”

Dean shrugged. “I’m a resourceful guy. I’ll find a away. I already owe you for trying to kill Cas in the first place.”

“Yes, I still don’t understand how you managed to make that death temporary, Castiel but it’s not a mistake I intend to repeat.”

Castiel stepped forward, face stern and the trembling of his body gone. He looked every bit the powerful being that Dean had first met back in the barn a year ago.

“I am here, Michael, because I had assistance. The same assistance that brought me back after Raphael annihilated me. Do you really want to question His purpose for me after all this?”

For the first time Michael looked nervous. “It’s not possible.”

“Really?” Castiel questioned. “Do you know of anyone else who could restore an angel whose grace has been scattered? Twice?”

Dean stepped forward so that he was side by side with Castiel, head tilted up in defiance. “Sounds like Daddy has picked a side. You really want to be around when He finds out you’ve been ignoring him and trying to kill the son he clearly wants around.”

This time Michael visibly paled.

“You should return to Heaven,” Castiel instructed. “And if you attempt to come near either of the Winchester boys again know that we will be waiting for you, and know that our Father will certainly hear of it.”

For a moment Michael hesitated and Dean tightened his grip on the sword in case Michael decided to go for Cas anyway. But then, a moment later, he nodded and disappeared from the room. As soon as he was gone Castiel let out a shaky breath and his knees buckled.

“Whoa! You okay?” Dean caught Castiel’s arm and pulled him close.

Castiel nodded. “Yes. I’m just very tired.”

“You and me both,” Gabriel answered, curled into Sam’s arms in much the same way Castiel was in Dean’s. “I vote we take a vacation.”

It certainly wasn’t the worst idea Dean had ever heard.

“How are we going to get out of here? You two are both wiped and my car is. . . actually, shit, I have no idea where my baby is!”

“Parked outside,” Castiel replied with a weary smile. “I took the liberty of assuming you would need your vehicle when we escaped from here.”

Dean kissed him. “Cas, man, you are awesome.”

“So where are we going to go?” Sam asked as the four of them stumbled out of the warehouse and into the daylight.

“Anywhere but here, Sammy. Anywhere but here.”

The End

Date: 2011-10-07 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] monica ramsey (from livejournal.com)
“Exactly. They’re humans. And if there’s anything I’ve learned hanging out down here, it’s that you don’t want to underestimate these guys. Don’t tell me you haven’t gotten the same message.” About time Chuck got involved! Great story from my two favorite authors!!! I love how you found a way to incorporate this into one of my favorite movies and still keep everyone so near normal! Thank You for this!!! I <3 you both!

Date: 2011-10-07 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fandomcorner.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! <333

Date: 2011-10-07 03:04 pm (UTC)
ext_36413: JB AND JACKBEAR (I LIKE)
From: [identity profile] absdax.livejournal.com
YEA!!!!!
loved it!
i was waiting for teh "you killed my father prepare to die" but Gabes line so much better!

awesome!!!

Date: 2011-10-07 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hils.livejournal.com
Thanks!

Date: 2011-10-07 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] verucasalt123.livejournal.com
This was fantastic:

Don’t break my new OTP, Chuck.


I super puffy hart Becky.

Date: 2011-10-07 08:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fandomcorner.livejournal.com
Hee! Thanks! So glad you liked it

Date: 2011-10-07 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zagethe.livejournal.com
Thank Chuck for the happy ending... perfect.

Date: 2011-10-13 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hils.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

Date: 2011-10-07 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] takadainmate.livejournal.com
Mentioned it on Twitter, but I'm going to say it here too. I really enjoyed this. It was a great, happy fic to read. A lot of fun with some nice humour, gorgeous references to The Princess Bride, and some lovely characterisation. I glory in more than 140 characters. Thank you for writing this. :D

Date: 2011-10-13 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hils.livejournal.com
WHEE! Thank you so much bb! So glad you enjoyed it!

Date: 2011-10-08 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cousinmary.livejournal.com
This was great. I think Becky was my favorite :)

Date: 2011-10-13 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hils.livejournal.com
YAY! So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you :)

Date: 2011-10-09 11:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] akadougal.livejournal.com
Awwwww! "I was only mostly dead." I can perfectly imagine that in Cas' voice.

Date: 2011-10-13 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hils.livejournal.com
Hehe! Thanks!

Date: 2011-10-13 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rivercritter.livejournal.com
Oh yay!! Such a cute read! I have always loved this movie and I think you did a great job of paying homage to it while remaining true to the SPN universe.

Date: 2011-10-13 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fandomcorner.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! :) So glad you liked it!

Date: 2011-10-14 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] littlehollyleaf.livejournal.com
Firstly, your killing of Zachariah was SUBLIME ♥

Secondly, this was adorable. I want to wrap this fic up in candyfloss and eat it all up :) I especially LOVE the 'as you wish' parts at the beginning - OMG it is SO TRUE! Why did Dean not have the 'he means I love you!' revelation in Let it Bleed when Cas was all 'I always come when you call' huh??

And yay for happy endings. I like that, having slaved over my angst, I can now sit back and indulge in the happy :)

Date: 2011-10-14 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fandomcorner.livejournal.com
Aww! Thank you so much! You are the total counterbalance to my need for fluffy schmoop :-D

Date: 2011-10-14 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tiptoe39.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you liked the way Zachariah went. Badass!Gabriel is always awesome. :)

Thank you so much, we're so happy you enjoyed~!! It's nice to have a fairy tale ending once in a while, really it is :)

Date: 2011-10-16 11:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rumi-nyo.livejournal.com
That was such a fun read! I loved Becky *o* and Gabriel! //>_<// And of course a happy ending for both the couples. ^_^ I really enjoyed it.

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