Dean moaned and rubbed his weary eyes. The light that teased through the holes in the wall made his head throb. For a horrible moment, he actually thought he was still alive. He thought he was on a hunt with Sammy, that they were camping out in some abandoned shithole. Then he remembered with painful clarity that he was dead, and lying in some crappy angel hideout. A hideout that was on Earth.
There were no angels around. He silently got up and poked his head out the door. There were only a few angels around, and they all were occupied with healing the wounded. No sign of Castiel. Dean made up his mind.
He crossed his fingers and placed his hands on the wall. Immediately, his hand phased through, followed by his arms and body. Face first, he slammed into the dirt. It was all worth it though. Dean got up, dusted off his jeans, and started to run for the nearest gas station.
“I’m coming, Sammy.” He promised.
It didn’t take long for Dean to track Sam down because he wasn’t using a fake name. Hope that Sam was alive and unharmed inspired Dean as he hitched-hiked his way to California. That wasn’t hard at all because no one could actually see Dean.
All worries of Sam’s well being evaporated when Dean saw the familiar sight of his impala. Sammy had taken good care of his baby. Gazing inside, he saw that Sam had kept the mixtapes of classic rock music. Dean knew that once he found Sam, they would be able to fix things and go back to the family business. He just had to find Sam.
That’s when he heard his brother’s laugh. A wave of emotion hit him that felt comforting yet simultaneously seemed to mock him because it represented all the good times he had once shared with his brother. He gathered his courage and turned around. It took him a second, but then he recognized his brother.
Sam had grown his hair out, and his face had matured a surprising amount from when Dean last saw him. He looked healthy, only a few scars from ancient monsters were left as clues to his past. What’s more, he had his arm around a girl. They both laughed at something, and Dean could tell from the way they looked at each other that they truly enjoyed each other’s company.
Dean had been determined to find Sam and he felt that together they’d be able to fix all the mistakes, and get back on the road. Now he wasn’t so sure. Seeing Sam so happy was a relief, yet Dean knew that if he were to reveal himself to Sam, he’d poison the life that Sam had always dreamt of.
The pair walked towards Dean, not seeing him. Dean could theoretically make himself visible any second, but he didn’t. Instead, he watched as Sam and the girl walked to the impala. He jumped when Sam walked right through his ghostly figure. Sam sat driver’s seat, revved up the engine, and a Kansas song came on.
As they drove off, Sam driving and the girl sitting shotgun, painful memories of the times Dean and Sam had in that car tore at Dean’s chest. That was over now. Dean was dead and would stay dead. And that was the best for Sammy.
All purpose had left Dean. He supposed he should go back to the Hell’s Angels, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead, he found himself where every cliche “I’m dead” story ends up eventually: his own grave.
It was pathetically small, he thought. The inscription pissed him off, There’ll be peace when you are done. What a load of bullcrap.
The worst part was it was next to his mother and father’s gravestones. The cruel irony that this was the way the Winchester’s would be reunited made him angry at God. If there even was a God. Dean spit on the grave.
Then he saw a shadow sneak behind a tree across the way. His experience instantly made him move to investigate. But then a hand rested on his shoulder. He turned his head suddenly.
“Castiel.” He said.
“Dean,” Castiel said. He wasn’t looking at Dean, but down at his gravestone.
“Ya know,” Dean began, also gazing at his gravestone. “I thought death would be the end of it. I thought there’d be white puffy clouds, and cherubs, and pies, and hot chicks. I didn’t think I’d be a ghost, or that Heaven would be even more screwed up than Earth.”
“Heaven is in turmoil. It’s run out of space for fresh souls. It’s been overcrowded. Dean, if we don’t do something there will be ghosts and lost souls trapped outside Heaven forever. Some will be forced to wander the Earth in the same form you’re in now. A ghost.” Castiel explained. “And eventually, they’ll be driven insane by the years of purposeless wandering.”
“Huh. So Heaven doesn’t have a vacancy,” Dean said. “So how exactly have you been fixing that?”
“We’ve been freeing souls from the Waiting Rooms, and giving them temporary spaces until a final solution can be found.” Castiel said.
“I don’t understand,” Dean said. “You’re angels. Can’t you just make more space?”
“No, God made Heaven and only God can renovate Heaven.” Castiel explained
“Why would he design it that way?” Dean asked. Castiel paused before answering.
“Because he intends to come back.” Castiel said. Dean didn’t respond. He didn’t even believe in God, let alone that he would come back to fix the current mess that was Heaven.
“What about the Waiting Room?” Dean asked. “It goes on forever.”
“Yes, those were designed to expand forever.” Castiel said. “Heaven plans to let it continue to expand as more souls enter, and not bother with expanding Heaven.”
“Staying in the Waiting Room forever? Sounds a lot more like Hell than Heaven to me.” Dean said. Castiel nodded solemnly.
“That’s why my angels and I have split away. We refuse to let innocent souls that deserve to enter Heaven be abandoned on the outskirts.” Castiel said. “Dean, you showed bravery and intelligence when you saved my squadron. You would be a valuable asset to us, especially with your experience.”
“How are you planning to save Heaven?” Dean asked, ignoring Castiel’s offer. He failed to see what further use he could be as a ghost.
“We need to find God.” Castiel said. Dean raised his eyebrow skeptically. Apparently that wasn’t the reaction Castiel was hoping for.
“Do you have a backup plan?” Dean asked. Castiel pursed his lips and didn’t answer. They were both silent for a few moments. A single leaf slowly fell onto Dean’s grave.
“Seeing as I’ve no plans for the next few eternities,” Dean said. “I’ll help you.”
Castiel smiled softly. He took Dean’s hand.
“I know you think everything is hopeless,” Castiel said. “But you have not been abandoned.”
When they returned to the base, Castiel announced a meeting with all his generals. Dean refused to admit it, but he was a little nervous. The majority of angels he’d met were douches, and just because they were aligned with Castiel didn’t mean they were any different.
“Don’t be apprehensive.” Castiel said to Dean. “I have hand-picked the finest angels, and they all have my full trust.”
“It’s not their capability I’m concerned about.” Dean said.
He leaned back in the rusted metal chair. He and Castiel were awaiting the generals in one of the back rooms of the base. The only thing that distinguished this room from the rest of the building was the lack of windows. This seemed to be the only room that was somewhat protected from infiltration.
Then the door creaked open. Dean looked at Castiel for a moment, then at the door. An skinny teenager walked through, and Dean raised his eyebrow in confusion.
“Castiel.” The angel said, and then looked at Dean.
“Samandriel.” Castiel said in return. He motioned towards Dean. “This is Dean Winchester, the human from our most recent removal from the Waiting Room.”
Samandriel examined Dean closely, which made him feel very uncomfortable.
“What?” Dean asked. “Something on my face?”
“No, no.” Samandriel said quickly. “Forgive me. I don’t have many interactions with mortals.”
The door opened again, and two angels walked into the room. The woman had brunette hair and the man had an eternal frown on his face. They nodded at Castiel and Samandriel, then looked at Dean with the same intensity that Samandriel had.
“Dean Winchester.” Dean said, introducing himself (mainly just to stop the staring).
“Hannah and Gadreel, thank you for coming.” Castiel said. “Now we only need one more.”
“Who? Me?” A voice asked from the corner. Dean turned to see a man with blonde hair lounging in a chair in the corner.
“Hello, Balthazar.” Castiel said. The angel waved.
“Now that we’re all here, we can begin.” Castiel said. “Hannah, how is our safe house holding up?”
“Hold on a moment.” Balthazar said.
“Balthazar, can we please have one meeting where you don’t constantly interrupt?” Gadreel asked.
“I’d simply like to know why there’s a human here who’s not in the safehouse,” Balthazar explained.
“Why are there angels not in Heaven?” Dean asked. “I think we’re all a bit out of place.”
“Oh, feisty.” Balthazar said.
“May we focus, please?” Castiel asked. “I have seen Dean’s skills personally, and having a mortal provides certain advantages to us. Now Hannah, what is the state of the safehouse?”
Dean wanted to know what “advantages” Castiel was talking about, but Hannah answered before he had a chance.
“The safehouse is even worse. We were already pressed for space, and now we’ve had to accommodate for a new mass of souls from the Waiting Room. On top of that, Heaven’s forces are getting closer to finding us. We need to relocate soon.” She said. Castiel scrunched his eyebrows together.
“Gadreel, what about the soldiers?” Castiel asked. Gadreel breathed deeply.
“We didn’t lose as many troops as expected in our most recent raid. Fifteen were injured, but recovered, thirty-five are still in the infirmary, and twelve were lost.” Gadreel said, and squeezed the bridge of his nose. “Unfortunately, Heaven has a new strategy of stealing angel blades from injured and killed. We’ve lost over half of the blades we brought.”
“How many do we have?” Castiel asked.
“I haven’t taken a full count yet, but I’d doubt more than a hundred.”
Castiel considered this. Dean didn’t know what an angel blade was, but he assumed it must be a special angel killing blade. That must’ve been the strange blue light he saw when Anna was injured. Dean hoped she was one of the thirty-five still in the infirmary, and not the twelve who were lost.
“Samandriel, what is the report on the enemy’s movements?” Castiel asked. Dean could hear the pleading in his voice, begging for some good news.
“I lost contact with two of my spies in the past month. Another of my spies fears he is close to being discovered. I, myself, have been having more difficulties of late obtaining the more top secret plans. They definitely suspect there are moles. Security has been increasing on all levels.” Samandriel said, and looked at the floor as if the entire war was his fault.
“I have learned something though,” Samandriel said. Castiel looked hopeful, but Samandriel’s sober tone made Dean brace himself. “They’re planning something new. Something big.”
Samandriel quickly glanced at Dean, and then locked his eyes on Castiel.
“I think we need to increase our own security. And I think we should find a new base. Soon.” Samandriel said.
“I know you’re all concerned,” Castiel said, clearly sensing the uneasiness in the room. Dean had only just arrived on the scene, and he was very, very concerned. “We mustn’t let this negative news dishearten us. We made significant progress on the Waiting Room, and we’ve had many successful raids on Heaven. It is important that the troops also feel encouraged and don’t lose faith.”
“You forget those raids were on the outskirts of Heaven, the least guarded sections because they are unimportant.” Balthazar said. “Although, those were some of my finest battle plans, if I do say so myself.”
“Well, your ‘finest battle plans’ have been getting our soldiers slaughtered.” Gadreel said. “Perhaps if we had a different admiral, we’d be able to attack the more crucial areas and less angels would die.”
“I’m the best strategist on this forsaken planet!” Balthazar said.
“This is a waste of time.” Hannah said. “We need to be focusing more on finding new territory in Heaven for the souls to reside in. The safehouse is no longer suitable.”
“What territory, Hannah?” Samandriel asked. “All of Heaven is occupied! That’s the problem.”
“Do not talk down to me, Samandriel.” Hannah said, very coldly. “I know Heaven’s condition, but we were able to find the current safehouse, perhaps we’d be able to find another unoccupied area?”
“It’d be more practical to invade Hell than waste troops searching for an unused area that’s out of Heaven’s radar.” Balthazar said.
“Well, I don’t see you contributing anything positive.” Hannah said.
“If you’d all shut your traps for a moment…” Dean said. The angels fell silent, and turned to glare intensely at Dean.
“It seems the human has something to say?” Balthazar said. Dean scowled.
“Balthazar.” Castiel warned.
“Yes. The human thinks you could attack the weaker areas of Heaven, and instead of using the area for strategic bases, use it for humans or souls or ghosts or whatever you want to call us.” Dean said, and spit the last word.
The angels were all quiet, processing what Dean suggested. The lines of worry on Castiel’s forehead disappeared.
“That could work.” Castiel said. The other angels didn’t want to admit it, but they agreed. “The administrative areas aren’t used for souls, and have much extraneous space. Gadreel, organize the soldiers for an attack. Balthazar, start making up attack plans. Hannah, begin mobilizing a portion of the souls. Samandriel, find out which administrative area would be the most practical to capture.”
“Wait, Castiel.” Samandriel said. “The administrative areas aren’t built to house souls. Perhaps we could reshape them, but it would be complicated. I doubt this human knows of the complexities of Heaven.”
“And you’re in high school.” Dean said, pointing out Samandriel’s appearance. “I doubt you’re that qualified either.”
Samandriel looked at himself.
“You’re referring to my vessel’s age? It is rather young, but it was the only one I could find quickly after we were exiled. It is useful for my work however.” Samandriel explained.
“Whoa sorry, vessel?” Dean asked, suddenly very confused. The angels looked accusingly at Castiel.
“You didn’t explain vessels to him?” Hannah asked.
“I was going to…” Castiel said. He sighed and began, “When the angels first declared sides, in order to avoid being massacred we escaped to Earth. However, we needed human vessels.”
“You’re possessing humans?!” Dean asked.
“It’s not possessing as you know it, not like demons or ghosts.” Castiel said. “We require permission to use a vessel from the vessel itself.”
“You’re controlling someone else’s body? Putting them in danger? Taking them away from their families?” Dean asked. “I don’t know, sounds a lot like possession to me.”
“Ugh.” Balthazar complained. “Humans are always so dramatic. Get over yourselves. We’re borrowing a few human shells so we can save millions. And unlike demons, we take good care of our vessels.”
Dean rolled his eyes. These angels were just as bad as those in Heaven. Stubborn, cold, and heartless. He was ready to remind them about the angel he recently saw violently gutted, and how he wouldn’t call that taking good care of a vessel, but he caught sight of a small hole in the wall that he hadn’t noticed before. A ray of sun fell through it; the only natural light in the room. Abruptly, there was a soft patter and the light was cut off. Dean furrowed his brows.
“How close is Heaven from finding the location of this base?” Dean asked.
“Huh?” Samandriel asked. “Not for a while, but they have been making progress. Why?”
“I-”, Dean’s sentence was cut off when he was knocked backwards by a blast from the wall. The impact took his breath away, and the explosion made his ears ring. Something heavy sat on his chest. Dean was having a horrible Déjà vu.
With difficulty, he opened his eyes. He could see a blurry image of someone sitting over him, shielding him from the debris. As his vision focused, he could see it was Castiel.
Castiel said something to Dean that he couldn’t hear because his ears were still ringing. Then Castiel whipped his head around to look at his sword which had been left on the other side of the room. They were both defenseless. Suddenly he was torn away from Dean and thrown to the ground.
A figure towered over Dean. His hearing started to return to him and he was fuzzily able to understand what the figure was saying.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t my lucky day.” The figure said, and Dean realized with a shock that it was Uriel. Dean spit at his feet in disgust.
“Uriel.” He said, viciously.
“61911011034567.” Uriel answered.
More angels flooded into the room from the gaping hole in the wall. Dean could see Samandriel was unconscious and Hannah was trapped under some rubble. Gadreel and Balthazar were nowhere to be seen. Hannah had unsheathed her sword, but it was clear she was no match for all the angels by herself and with her leg trapped under rubble.
Uriel nodded to one of the angels who promptly grabbed Castiel by the hair and held a sword to his neck. Dean rushed towards Castiel, but Uriel grabbed him by the shoulder and punched him in the face. He fell to the ground and little spurts of blood from his nose splattered the floor with a painting of red droplets.Uriel then kicked him in the gut and laughed as he croaked for air like a fish stranded on land.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.” He said happily.
Dean turned to get up and Uriel shoved his foot into his chest, pinning him to the floor.
“You certainly are persistent. We’ll take care of that once we get you back to Heaven.” Uriel said. Dean struggled underneath his foot, but he just pressed down harder.
“Castiel, you have been sentenced by the Archangel and Ruler of Heaven, Michael, to death for your crimes of high treason against Heaven and illegal possession of souls. Do you have anything to say for yourself before I carry out this sentence?” Uriel asked. It was clear nothing Castiel could say would change his mind.
Dean and Castiel locked eyes. They stared intensely at each other. He had just lost his brother, and now he was going to lose his only friend. The one who saved him from Heaven.
Castiel returned his gaze with one of anguish and regret. Regret because it had all gone so wrong. Regret because he couldn’t save Heaven. Regret he couldn’t even save one human.
“Silence?” Uriel asked. “Typical Castiel. Arrogant right to the end. Don’t worry, I’ll tell all of Heaven how you begged for mercy, and screamed in fear.”
Uriel raised his sword, leering with satisfaction.
“No! Cas!” Dean yelled. He grabbed a piece of loose rubble and slammed it into Uriel’s shin. He heard a crack and Uriel screeched in agony. The sword clattered to the ground. Dean reached for it, when a body stepped in front of him. He looked up to see a familiar face.
“Sorry to break up the party, but it was getting boring.” Balthazar said. His hand was covered in blood. Dean was confused, until he caught sight of the strange symbol drawn on the wall in blood. It looked to be Enochian. Balthazar pressed his hand to the symbol.
A bright light exploded from the symbol. Everyone instinctively shielded their eyes. Dean reached out for Castiel, who reached back, but the light seemed to pull him away. It looked as though it was tearing the very fibers of his being away from Dean. Their fingers brushed momentarily before Castiel disappeared from the room.
“Cas!” Dean cried. He glanced around and realized that all the other angels had also disappeared.
“Don’t worry, Deanie.”
Except for Balthazar…
“Castiel will be fine.” Balthazar said. He cleaned the blood off his hand. “This is all according to plan. We have a meeting place in case something such as this were to occur.”
“You just blew them away?” Dean asked.
“Yep. Enochian is good for something.” Balthazar said, pointing to the symbol on the wall. “They’ve all been repelled momentarily. Who knows where they’ve ended up? But they’ll be back. And I can guarantee that we do not want to be here when that happens.”
“And all the angels in the infirmary?” Dean asked.
“They’ve also been expelled. We’ll work on finding them after we regroup.” Balthazar said. “I’m sure they’ll be fine. For the most part.”
“For the most part?!” Dean said. Balthazar dismissed him with his hand.
“Calm down.” He said. “Or I will leave you here.”
Dean couldn’t tell if he was joking or not, but he decided it’d be better to just suck it up and find Castiel. After that, they could regroup and then strike back at Heaven.
“You coming?” Balthazar asked, offering Dean his hand. Dean scowled and put his hand on Balthazar’s shoulder.
“What? We’re not far along enough in our relationship for hand-holding?” Balthazar asked. Dean ignored him.
“Where is the meetup spot?” Dean asked. Balthazar just laughed, and they were gone.
It took Dean a moment to understand where he was. That is, until he recognized the familiar logo on the walls.
“A McDonald’s?” He asked. Balthazar nodded and sat down at the nearest booth.
“Castiel’s idea. Something about strategic point, and hard for Heaven to pinpoint, blahblahblah. I honestly think he just likes the burgers.” Balthazar said.
While Dean usually found fastfood burgers cheap, dry, and overall disgusting, he hadn’t a burger for months and he wanted nothing more than to bite into a greasy bun. Especially after the day he’d been having. He walked towards the counter to order twelve of the biggest burgers, but the employee didn’t notice him. Even when he furiously waved his hand in front of his face and yelled, he got no reaction.
“You’re a ghost.” Balthazar explained from the booth with a yawn. “No one can see you. Not unless you make yourself visible, but you’re not capable of that.”
Dean sat down next to Balthazar, and stared in shock at the table. He’ll never have a burger again. And no more steaks. And no more pie. He gripped the table and vented his frustration. Balthazar was sitting lackadaisically across from him. He smiled sympathetically at him.
“The burgers here aren’t even that good.” He said. “Not that I actually eat human food.”
“Ha.” Dean said, loosening a bit. “You angels wouldn’t know good food if it was served to you on plates of gold from God himself.”
Balthazar laughed, but Dean sensed a tightness behind it. He couldn’t detect what was the cause of the sudden change in Balthazar’s mood.
Then he jumped in surprise when Hannah appeared next to him. She had a cut on her arm that she’d put a tourniquet on. The blood had already soaked her bandages. Balthazar went to heal her wounds. It wasn’t much, but it stopped the bleeding.
“One of Heaven’s angels landed with me.” Hannah explained.
“Castiel isn’t here yet?” She asked. Dean and Balthazar shook their heads. She looked away.
“That was too close.” She said.
“You’re lucky I was there.” Balthazar said. Hannah ignored him.
“How could they have found our base?” She asked. “We were well hidden, and Samandriel should have heard if they had knowledge of our whereabouts.”
“Samandriel did say that they’re getting more uptight.” Balthazar pointed out.
“More uptight than usual?” Dean said.
“Perhaps…” Hannah said. She was clearly thinking intensely about something. “But they knew what room to attack. How did they know what part of our base we’d be meeting in?”
“You think there’s a spy?” Dean asked. Hannah and Balthazar were both quiet as the idea hung over them. Hannah gave Dean an icy look.
“I think it’s a possibility.” Hannah said.
Then Gadreel stumbled into the fast food restaurant. He was unharmed, but very angry.
“Balthazar, that was not the plan!” He yelled.
Balthazar feigned offense.
“The plan?” He asked. “Forgive me, I thought the plan was to save ourselves from slow painful executions for treason by Heaven.”
“Your plan was reckless!” Gadreel said. “All those injured angels are now defenseless!”
“We couldn’t have protected them anyway.” Balthazar countered. “My plan saved Castiel from Uriel.”
“Castiel had everything under control.” Gadreel said, putting his face in Balthazar’s
“You may not have noticed, but he was about to lose his head.” Balthazar said, not backing down.
“Would you two shut it?!” Dean said, noticing the waitress kept glancing worriedly at them.
“Let’s just keep it together until Castiel shows up.” Dean said.
“If.” Balthazar corrected.
“If.” Dean said.
The silence hung heavy among them, until Hannah asked, “Has anyone had contact with Samandriel?”
Everyone just shook their heads.
“If Castiel didn’t...If he doesn’t come.” Hannah began.
“It’s only been a few minutes. Just give him time.” Dean said, but he was biting his lip.
They all looked up in anticipation when they heard the flap of wings. Dean didn’t want to get his hopes up, and they all braced themselves for the possibility that it was one of Heaven’s angels. Then Dean’s heart leapt with joy. Relief flowed through his hands and legs as he rushed to Castiel. He was struggling to hold Samandriel up, and was limping slightly.
“Hey, are you alright?” Dean asked with concern.
“Yes.” Castiel said between breaths. “Take Samandriel.”
Dean reached for Samandriel, but he couldn’t get a grip on him. Hannah and Gadreel took Samandriel while Balthazar helped Castiel to the table.
“As a ghost, you don’t have an earthly being to touch physical objects.” Castiel explained. “That’s completely different in Heaven though because you don’t need physical form there.”
“That’s just peachy.” Dean said. “So then why could Uriel touch me here on earth?”
“As angels, we have both a physical form (our vessel) and an ethereal form. If we want to have contact with you, we can. If not, you won’t be able to touch us.” Castiel said.
“And it just gets better.” Dean moaned. “Anything else?”
“No. That’s about it.” Castiel said.
“Castiel, what happened to you and Samandriel?” Hannah asked. “Is he alright?”
“We ran into obstacles. One of Heaven’s angels. But he should be fine.”
Dean noticed Castiel quickly glance down at the blood on his hands, then look away. Gadreel inspected Samandriel’s wounds. He placed his hands to his head and shut his eyes in concentration. A moment later, Samandriel’s eyes slowly opened.
It was then Dean noticed the waitress had gotten the manager. Dean poked Castiel and nodded his head towards them. Castiel slowly nodded back.
“Time to go.” He said. “Samandriel, can you walk?”
Samandriel nodded, and they all got up.
“But Castiel, where can we go?” Hannah asked.
“Base 16 should suffice.” Castiel said.
“Heaven might be following us though.” Samandriel said through gritted teeth. “Its not safe to go to one of our hideouts yet.”
“I know where we can go.” Dean said. The angels all looked apprehensively at Castiel, who just nodded at Dean.
“Wait, Castiel.” Hannah said. “I don’t know if we can trust this human.”
“This human is standing right here.” Dean said.
“We can trust Dean.” Castiel said. Hannah frowned, and glanced at Dean.
“I don’t know about that Castiel. The moment he showed up, Heaven attacked our base!” Hannah cried.
“You think I’m a spy for those douchebags with wings?!” Dean said.
“That attack was too precise to have been accomplished without inside knowledge.” Hannah said. “Castiel, did you forget that he’s-”
“Hannah.” Castiel said, warningly. “I trust Dean, so you can trust him too.”
Hannah set her jaw and looked away.
“Very well.” She said.
Castiel turned towards Dean.
“Where is this safe house?” Castiel asked.“It’s actually more of a garage.” Dean said. The angels all gave Castiel sideways glances.