Fic: Flames Of The Past 1/2
Title: Flames Of The Past. Author: Lopaka Tanu Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. Characters: Dean, Sam, Bobby, Ruby, Uriel, Castiel. Words: 18,683 For: gehvays/ashirbaad Prompt: A scenario whereby Castiel falls, lured by the dark side and Dean has to get to him and save him before Uriel does, who has been instructed to kill him. Fandom: Supernatural Timeline: Post: 4x12 - Chris Angel Is A Douche Bag. Pairing: Mentioned Sam/Ruby, others inplied. Rating: Adult Warnings: Language, Violence, Human Sacrifice, Demonic Slurs. Summary: It's starts with Denver disappearing in the middle of the night. Author's Note: Thanks to usmc75. Theme Music: "The Host of Seraphim" - Dead Can Dance ______________________________________ Enoch, the city, The First City, The City of Man And Angels. The Watchers of Humanity. This is their story, a warning. 200 they did number, but 1, whom did dissent their deeds. - Opening from 'The Book of Enoch'.
Dean traced his fingers down the fabric of the sheer curtain. It was the only thing standing between him and the room beyond. Through the red cloth he could see a room lit with oil lamps and a cook fire. The smell of burning incense tickled his nose.
Though he could hear voices, he saw no one beyond the veil. Something within bid him to push it aside and enter. It wanted him to see. Dean used a shaky hand to push at the curtain.
The heat beyond was intense, as were the flood of emotions that over took him. They flowed over him and through him, touching every part of his soul. It pained him, yet he wanted more.
The front of his lennon wrap suddenly grew tight. Warmth spread from his groin through out his body, making him hunch forward around the feeling. Closing his eyes, Dean felt sweat start to form on his brow as he panted. Never had he experienced such a feeling! He wanted to be lost in it forever.
Then, the curtain was snatched from his hand. He cried in pain as the beauty of it all was torn from his body. The sudden loss left him shuddering at the emptiness inside.
He twisted to face the one who would deprive him of such joy. The strands of his beaded hair spread fell around his face. When he laid eyes upon the man he felt only grief.
Blue eyes watched him calmly. "You are not meant to know what happens there."
"I do not care." The words had come from Dean's mouth. He knew he had spoken them, yet they were not his own. "I want to know."
The man stepped closer to Dean. His presence seemed to fill the small room they were standing in. Tilting his head, he stopped close enough that his breath ghosted over Dean's face. "You do not know what you wish. Take heed of that warning. Know that it is forbidden and ask no further."
Despite the man's presence scaring him half to death, a thrill of bravery surface within him. It felt alien in his heart. The emotion gave him the strength to reach up. He didn't know what he intended to do, but gently placing his hand against the man's cheek wasn't it.
Peace and contentment flooded through him the moment his palm made contact. In that moment, he yearned for nothing more. He was prepared to stand there staring in to the man's eyes forever, touching his cheek.
"Do not offer what you know to be forbidden."
Dean stirred. The ache forming behind his eyes made doing anything else too painful. He knew having that last shot was going to come back to kill him, but it wasn't everyday he celebrated being alive. Then again, being alive wasn't really worth it this morning.
A groan off to his left informed him that Sam was awake and in pain. It was good to know he hadn't been the only one to suffer for their stupidity.
Well, his stupidity. Sam had just come along for the ride. Then again, it had been the giant's choice to test his mettle against that of one as superior as Dean himself. In the end, it had been no real contest.
Still, he was doubting winning that drinking game had been worth it. Oh well, shit had happened and now the sun was shining. It was the start of a new day, which meant they had work to do.
Throwing an arm over his eyes, Dean rolled over in to his pillows.
To hell with the new day!
When next he became aware of the world around him, it was the damned cell that woke him. He tried cursing it to hell in Latin, hoping that would be the end of it. Unfortunately, this failed to silence the infernal device. Apparently the phone wasn't possessed, just really loud.
Next, he telepathically willed Sam to answer it. The boy was a psychic, he should have been able to pick up a little ESP communications. Right? Decidedly not because the snoring of the big dork hadn't changed since the phone began to chant in it's demonic tongue.
That meant he had to answer it. Great.
Whoever it was that bothered to roust him from his sleep was going to be very sorry. Reaching out blindly, he swung his arm from side to side in an attempt to locate the bedside table. There was nothing there.
Confused, Dean opened one eye just a crack. Then he opened both of them all the way. He stared at the space where the night stand should have been in confusion. All he saw was the open space between their beds. This confused Dean. Where had the night stand gone?
The phone gave another ring, this time seemingly more urgent. It drew Dean's attention to the foot of the bed. Dean frowned at that. Why was the night stand at the foot of the bed?
Then it hit him. He was at the foot of the bed, not the night stand. Groaning, he sat up in the twisted blankets. "That's the last time I drink tequila shooters with you, Sam."
His brother's only response was to hitch between snores.
"Figures." He put a hand to his forehead as the headache reasserted itself. He had forgotten about that part.
To add insult to this pain, the phone screamed at him again.
"All right!" He leaned over and snatched the offending phone off the night stand. Pulling it open, he clicked the phone on and pressed it to his ear. "This had better be important. If you're callin' to offer me a change in plans, I will seriously hunt you down and do bad things to your dog."
A high pitched feminine giggle cracked over the line. "You say the sweetest things."
"Who the hell is this?" He didn't recognize the little girl on the other end, but had a bad feeling about the call.
"Did you ever kiss your mother with that mouth, Dean?" Her voice took on a scolding tone.
Dean felt an ice cold claw clench his heart. "Lilith." Swallowing, he turned to look at his still sleeping brother. "What do you want?"
"You mean you don't already know?" She sounded disappointed. The pout was evident in her voice. "If you'd watch more news and less of those naughty shows, you would be more fun to taunt." She suddenly sounded every bit the old crone her legend portrayed her. "Turn on the television." With that, the line went dead.
Reaching up with shaky fingers, Dean closed the phone. He stared at it for a second before dropping it like the thing was possessed. Jumping off the bed, he spun and glared at the phone.
"How the hell could this have happened?" Dean didn't know if the nausea he currently felt was from the shaky camera movements on the screen or the idea of the sheer scale of destruction. He was still having trouble wrapping his head around it.
"I think that about sums it up." Bobby's voice sounded tinny from the cellphone's speaker. It was opened and set to loud so both men could hear him. "You said it yourself, Lilith called you to gloat."
"Yeah, but this?" He didn't want to say it. All three of them were thinking the same thing.
On the screen, a vast crater spread out where Denver had once been. Steam rose from several pockets where the snow drifts melted. Winds buffeted the hood of the reporter's jacket as she stood against the crater. "Surprisingly, there were no witnesses to last night's tragic event. Given the sheer scale of destruction, it may seem impossible, but it's true."
Reaching out, Dean muted the television. He knew this was bad, end of the world shit.
Through out most of the call, Sam had sat silent. His eyes never once left the screen.
Looking at his brother, Dean should have been worried about him. He would have except for the fact Sam looked ready to kill something. Glancing away, he picked up the phone. "How are we supposed to deal with this?"
"We don't." Bobby sounded resigned. It was the truth, only he had to be the one to say it. "What's happened has happened. All we can do is make sure those bastards pay for this."
"Two and a half million people, Bobby! That's a lotta damned people to just write off." It hurt to hear his own voice trying to be plaintiff, but Dean had to say something.
"They're dead, kid. What we've gotta do is find out how and why. I'll keep my ear to the ground, see what I can come up with." The strength in Bobby's voice started to wain. It was replaced by a settling grief. "I think you boys should stay out of Colorado for a while. It's gonna get mighty dangerous there real quick for anything that don't appear completely human."
"You're right," Sam interjected before Dean could protest. Far from the angry he looked, he sounded almost dazed. The pain in his eyes when he turned to his brother made Dean flinch. "There's nothing we can do for them now."
Something occurred to Dean. "How did we miss this?" It didn't make sense. An event this large should have been sending out warning signals before it happened. "There had to be a clue, something to indicate what that bitch was up to."
"Not a damned thing." If he had been there in person, Bobby would have shook his head. "We got the wool pulled over our eyes and the rug yanked out from under us in the same moment."
"That's a lot of dark magic. There should be repercussions, things we would notice." Sam rose from the bed and frowned at the screen. Unable to break himself away, his attention was focused solely on the disturbing images. "I'm not seeing anything out of the ordinary."
"Neither did anyone else." Bobby didn't have to say whom he was talking about, all three knew. "It's like they just vanished in to thin air."
Dean snorted. When Sam looked at him in surprise, he rolled his eyes. "Thin air, Denver." There was only a reproving stare from his brother. Throwing up his hands, he walked over to the television and shut off the set.
Still watching his brother, Sam spoke to Bobby. "What do you recommend we do? There's got to be a way we can help on this one."
This made Bobby sigh. "For the life of me, I can't come up with anything off the top of my head. This is by far worse than anything that I had anticipated this early in the..." His voice trailed off in to another sigh. "If you two can get a hold of them Angels that you're so fond of, may be they can give us something to go on."
So that was it, a wild goose chase. Dean knew there was no way he could get in contact with the Angels unless they wanted to talk to him. It had been months since he last spoken to either of them. Swallowing down his bitter disappointment, Dean took a painful breath. "Thanks, Bobby."
"I wish there was more you could do to help. I wish there was something all of us could do, but there isn't. Until we know what exactly happened, we're just running blind. You two stay out of trouble." The call disconnected with a beep from the speaker.
Flipping it shut, Dean stuffed it in his back pocket. For a minute, neither brother said a word. Dean glanced over to Sam. They shared a mutual look, then nodded.
Sam bent over and picked up his jacket off the bed. He was going to need it in Colorado.
He heard her giggling around the corner. Dean knew that voice but not the one that caused her to laugh. Whomever it belonged to, he was most definitely not her husband.
Keeping his eyes downcast, he carried the tray of sweets past the alcove the lovers were nestled in. They were of none of his concern. Even if they were breaking the covenant, it was not his place to say. Still, he couldn't help himself but to take a quick look.
The one brief moment nearly made him drop the tray. As it was, the breath was stolen from him. He felt a little faint. The only thing that kept him from falling was the knowledge that he was needed else where.
She cackled in way that had nothing to do with the man between her thighs. She must have seen him notice her.
This only spurred him on faster. If he did not deliver the treats soon, they would think he stole them and have him whipped.
The Impala hit a pot hole, jarring him against the back passenger window. Jerking awake, Dean sat up to see what was going on. The night outside the windows made it hard to see much further than the car. When he stared out the front windshield, he noticed why.
Snow blew about the road, drifting it and resettling it over and over again. It was so thick, he couldn't tell if it was still coming down. Apparently the mountain weather had already started up.
Putting his feet on the floorboard, Dean braced himself against the passenger seat. "Where are we?"
Sam caught sight of his brother in the rear-view mirror. What he saw made him smirk. "We're still three hours south of...where Denver used to be. I'm going to pull off at the first motel I find and rent us a room. I get the feeling the closer we get the less chance of getting one." He glanced down to check the speedometer and the fuel gage before returning his attention to the road.
"Good idea." Yawning, Dean scratched at his hair. He frowned when he felt that it was sticking up in odd directions. Despite his best efforts, he could not tame the wild mane.
"Have to use the bathroom? According to that sign we just passed, there's a gas station ahead." Sam checked his speed a second time. They were about twenty miles under the speed limit, yet it still felt too fast.
Dean yawned again, letting his head rest against the back of his seat. "I could use a little leg stretching. Even if it is in the coldest part of hell." And wasn't that just ironic? He snorted at his choice of words.
"All right, I'll pull off when I see the sign." Watching the road, Sam frowned. "If I see the sign. Hey, may be they'll know of a good motel around here."
"One with Cinemax. There's a movie I've been wanting to see for a while coming on in a few hours." The smirk on Dean's face said what kind of movie it was.
It was just as Sam had said. The fillup station was there off the right hand side of the highway. Brilliant lights proclaimed it the best gas for miles around. That was all well and good, in Dean's opinion, but that wasn't the sign that drew his attention.
"They have pie." He was practically salivating as he told Sam. This was the god's honest truth. In this god forsaken wasteland, there was manna.
Pulling off the road in to the parking lot, Sam parked it along side a pump. The massive roof over the pumps offered no protection as the snow was blowing in from the sides. He sighed as he put the Impala in park and shut her off. "Are we eating or just getting gas?"
"I get a feeling if we do the first, we're going to get the latter." Dean couldn't possibly have sounded more enthusiastic about that if he tried. It really did look like the perfect place to stop for about a hour.
"Right." As Sam climbed out, despite the cold he found relief. His legs ached in several places and it made him grimace when he stretched them.
For his part, Dean was near crippled as he crawled out from the back of his car. In the face of good food with a chance for pie, this was nothing. So, he bared the pain of stretching his body in the cold air. By the time he had pretty much worked the kinks out, he was near frozen.
He stood with his arms folded over his chest. Teeth chattering he looked to his brother. "You pumping or am I?"
"What, it wasn't automatically decided?" Sam glanced to the warm, inviting diner. "Hey, if you want to do it, man, that's fine with me."
"What, are you crazy?" Shaking his head, Dean shuffled through the three inches of snow towards the diner. Like he would pass up the chance to get warm while Sam froze his ass off. There was a better chance of him frenching Bobby.
Left behind, Sam stared at him for a second. The shock quickly wore off as the winds blew snow down his collar.
Dean's pant legs refused to bend, so he looked like Frankenstein's Monster as he climbed the steps. How in the hell it got so cold he would never know. People who chose to live in this weather were right up there with demon lovers in his opinion.
Crossing the threshold in to the diner was like stepping in to another world. The smell and warmth were instantly attracting. Even the appearance of the diner was inviting. From the muted colors to the cotton backed chairs, it all had a homely flavor usually found in movies.
This was what heaven must have been like, Dean was certain. As he stood there shivering, he searched out a good place to sit. The only other patrons were a couple truckers at the counter sipping coffee and watching the news. He found an intimate booth that would allow him to watch the traffic and keep his conversation to him and Sam in the far corner.
He took the seat against the back wall. Let Sam keep his back to the crowd he was the one with the mind mojo and could detect coming demons. Just in case, Dean checked the piece at the small of his back to make sure it was still there. The knife in his boot felt reassuring.
Once he had settled in to the booth, he picked up one of the paper menus from between the napkins and ketchup bottle. Sam would be in soon, which meant Dean only had a short time to peruse the menu. Once his brother sat down, time would be up and the waitress would be breathing down their necks.
The steak and bacon platter looked promising. It came with steak fries and a side of cobbler. That wasn't exactly pie, but it was damn close. His mind made up, he put the menu back. When he looked up to check on his brother, he found someone else in his seat.
Sitting there scowling at Dean, Uriel watched him unblinking. "You're too late, Winchester."
The words sent a thrill of fear down Dean's spine. It was the first time he had seen the Angel since the barn with Anna. A cold night in the middle of no where wasn't his ideal place to get reacquainted. So, he put on false bravado. "You have no idea what I am doing here. I could be early for all you know."
Uriel seemed to swell up in his body without moving a single muscle. "Castiel has made his choice. He knew the penalty yet continued anyways. There is nothing you can do to save him now." The distaste of his words made Uriel grimace. "When I catch up to him I will have to carry out sentence."
Dean froze. His heart skipped several beats in his chest. All he could do was stare in surprise at the Angel. "What?"
"If you aide him, I will not be held responsible for what happens to you." He leaned a little towards Dean. "When he calls upon you, and he will, do not answer. What happened in Denver will be but a demonstration of what is to come if you do." The glass in the windows started to shake. "You have been warned, Dean Winchester."
When the Angel raised a hand, Dean flinched. The expected blow never came. Slowly, he opened his eyes to look.
In the booth across the table, Sam glanced over the menu. He checked it twice before setting it down. "I don't know what to have. Which sounds better; grilled chicken salad with dressing or the glazed ham with a side of fruit cocktail?" When he didn't get a response, Sam looked up. "Well?"
Dean sat there staring at his brother, unanswering. His mind refused to comprehend what had just happened.
"Dean?" Now concerned, Sam reached over to grab his brother's hand. "What is it? Are you okay?" He started to glance around the diner for possible suspects.
Swallowing, Dean licked his lips. There was only one answer that came to mind. "I have to call Bobby. If I'm right, I think I know what happened in Denver."
Putting the phone to his ear, Dean pushed in the last stall door. There was no one in the bathroom but him.
He made a quick dash to the bathroom door and leaned back against it. Since there was no lock on this side, it was the best he could get. That was okay, he only planned on being in there a short time.
As he listened, the phone rang for the third time. If Bobby didn't pick up soon, Dean would just have to leave a message for him.
An itch had started in the back of his mind once he had gotten over the shock. He couldn't say why, but he felt getting back on the road was important. The need to get moving was making him nervous. His gut only acted like this when danger was near.
After so many years, he wasn't about to stop trusting it now.
The line was picked up halfway through a fifth ring. "What did I tell you boys about laying low?"
"Luckily for us, I don't listen very well." Reaching up, Dean ran a hand over his hair. It was then he remembered that it was sticking up all over the place from having slept in the back seat. "I had a visit from everyone's favorite smite-happy Vulture."
"Damn, Dean, are you still in one piece?" The concern was evident in the older man's voice even while he was near to yelling.
"Yeah, Bobby, I'm fine." Dean lowered his chin to his chest. "Sam is too."
There was a short pause in the line as Bobby cleared his throat. "Well, what did he have to say?"
Now that the question had been asked, Dean felt his mouth dry up. The thought of saying it aloud made his heart flutter. "Castiel's fallen." He had to swallow after he said it.
"Denver," was Bobby's awed whisper.
"Yeah." All of a sudden, Dean felt like he was going to be sick. The pressure in his head made his vision swim, forcing him to close his eyes. "According to Uriel, it was his choice."
Bobby coughed. "Good god, son, I want both of you boys here now."
"Not yet, I have to know for sure." Dean rubbed at his forehead to relieve some of the pressure. "Once I know for sure, we'll point the Impala north and floor it."
"Don't do anything stupid, Dean." From the sound of his voice, Bobby didn't believe his advice would be taken. He knew it wouldn't if there were something to do. "I'll have the place ready for when you get here."
"Thanks, I really appreciate this." And he did. Dean closed his phone as he heard the line disconnect.
The pain in his head still throbbed in time with his blood as pushed off from the door. Dean stuffed the phone in his pocket. Stumbling to the sink, he turned on the cold water. As it ran, he splashed some on his face to cool himself off.
What in the hell had happened to the world making sense?
Hands clenching the wheel, Dean glared at the road ahead. If it was possible, the snow appeared to be worse than when Sam was driving. This did nothing for his nerves. Hell, even the apple pie felt like lead shot in his stomach.
In the passenger seat, Sam watched the road ahead of them. Every couple of minutes he would glance over at his brother. He looked like he wanted to ask questions, but Dean's hands would grip the wheel tighter and he'd look away again.
It wasn't that Dean didn't want to answer them. In fact, he was afraid to. If he was right, then the shit had really hit the fan.
After passing another mile marker, Sam's resolve broke. Licking his chapped lips, he shifted in his seat. "Dean."
"Sam." Dean checked his rear-view mirror so he wouldn't have to see that look on his brother's face. If he even glanced over that way once, he would have folded like a cheap card table.
Seeing that Dean wasn't going to give in, Sam turned his attention fully upon his brother. "What happened back there, man? What's got you so spooked that you had to go to the bathroom to talk to Bobby?"
This caused Dean's breath to hitch. It was really happening, he was going to tell Sam and that would make it real. "Just wait. Please, we'll be there in another twenty minutes." Then again, may be not. "If I'm right, you'll know instantly and I won't..." he finished with a shaky hand gesture.
"Dean." This time the name was filled with so much annoyance, even Sam rolled his eyes. "Is it really that bad?"
"Worse." Frowning, Dean could swear there was something bad in the back of his throat. He swallowed it down and wished he had bought a soda back at the diner before they high-tailed it out of there.
As he climbed yet another hill, Dean watched the road signs. The green one gave the distance to Denver at fifteen miles. He knew that if he kept going, he would hit the metropolitan area a lot sooner. Not that he wanted to go there, even if he could.
His destination was on the next sign in blue, 'Denver Overlook'. He nodded at it for Sam to know that was it. Half a mile further up the road, he came to a turn off and took it. There was no need to signal as there was no one about.
The road was dark and the snow hid most of the features. Dean slowed his speed to twenty miles an hour, making it feel like they were crawling. As they rounded a bend, a sign came in to view but was covered in snow. It was official enough to make him slow further.
He was rewarded a second later as the trees and rocks gave way in to a large open area lined with parking barriers. As he slowly pulled in to the parking lot, the headlights reflected off cars already there. Halfway across the lot, he stopped the car. The view hit him like a punch in the gut.
The sun would be coming up soon, but he didn't need it to see. There were enough lights from spectators, national guard, and emergency activity to give the area to the south of them an eerie glow. A large snow drift blocked the edge of the parking lot, yet it did not hamper the view. From the look out they could see a vast expanse where the city of Denver had been.
There was nothing there.
Winds swept clouds of snow from the sky and the plains over the massive pit. The people swarming over the ground were covered and uncovered just as quickly in turn. Above the melee, a flock of helicopters searched the grounds. Emergency vehicles and flood lights provided most of the illumination.
Sam saw all this. He was enraptured with it in by a sick and horrible fascination. Beside him, Dean only had eyes for what lay directly ahead of them.
Putting the Impala in to park, Dean unbuckled himself. Staring numbly out the front windshield, his hand groped for the door handle. It took him four tries for his weak fingers to grip it. Once he had the door handle, he tugged on it and pushed on the door to open it.
The noise and sudden change in temperature jerked Sam out his stupor. He turned to look at his brother and found him slowly climbing out of the car. Sam frowned at Dean's pale skin and stunned expression. "Dean? What are you doing? It's freezing out there."
Dean didn't need to be told this. His skin tightened and he began to shiver the moment he climbed out of the car. Ice and wind stung at his eyes, making it hard to see. Yet, he didn't care. His entire attention was focused on the snow drift ahead of them. Leaving the door open behind him, he shuffled towards the pile, afraid of what he would find.
Not to be left behind, Sam quickly unbuckled and threw open his door. His shoe slipped a little on the ice that covered the parking lot before he got his bearings enough to climb out. Unlike Dean, he closed the door to keep the snow and cold wind out of his seat.
By the time he heard his brother's door close, Dean had reached the snow drift. Unlike the rest of the parking lot, this was the only place where the snow had built up to a significant level. The reason became clear to his stinging eyes.
Putting a hand up to protect his face, Sam tried to see what Dean was looking at. All he could make out from a distance was that it was a pile of snow. "What is it, Dean?" He had to shout to be heard over the dull roar of the wind.
He wanted to yell, to tell Sam to stay back to spare him. Dean needed to make his body move. The urge to turn around and run back to the car was strong. There was only one problem, he couldn't move. Whether it was from horror or the weather, it didn't matter.
Soon enough, Sam was only a half step away from his brother. Hunched in to his jacket, he stuffed his hands in the pockets for protection. Terrible wind and cold stung at his exposed face, bringing with it the smell of the sea. Sam winced as he tried to make out what had his brother so dazed.
Reflecting the light from the Impala's headlamps, the snow drift sparkled. Among the top of the pile were several large clumps of what appeared to be ice.
Sam frowned. "That doesn't make sense. Ice shouldn't form at the top of a snow drift."
"That's because it's not ice." Dean was shocked to find the words had come from his mouth. He wasn't even certain he had the control to move his lips, let alone form the words to speak.
"What is it?" A shiver ran down Sam's spine that had nothing to do with the cold. When there was no response, he trembled. "Dean, what is it?"
"Salt. Pillars of sal..." he couldn't finish. Tears caused by the wind stung at Dean's eyes. "There were witnesses."
The silence between them was more from disbelief than by mutual agreement. Even with all the facts, Dean wasn't certain he could wrap his mind around what had happened. Reading a story in a book about it was a lot different than actually seeing it first hand. It was just best not to think about it, period.
As he crossed the border in to Nebraska, he thought about getting a room. Despite the nap the night before, his eyes were burning. A quick glance to his brother confirmed that his brother was blinking more than usual too. That settled it, they were going to stop before they crashed.
He had to call Bobby anyways, might as well inform him of the stop when they did. That way they could talk about what they found in detail. It would give Bobby time to think and plan. Hopefully, he would have something for them by the time they arrived.
As the saying went, one could always hope. Since he was never the optimist, Dean decided to trust Bobby's extensive knowledge. He had faith the man would know something the didn't and could help. With what, he wasn't certain. Dean just felt lost, any problem to solve at this point would be welcome.
Another problem that he faced that he wasn't looking forward to dealing with was telling Sam about what Uriel had said. He could just see that going down well. His brother was going to have a conniption fit.
Oh well, that was his problem.
Checking the road ahead of them, Dean searched for a sign or building that might look like a motel. Since the snow storm had let up an hour after they had left the Denver area, he had been slowly winding down. By now, he was running on fumes.
"Who was it, Dean?" Sam's voice sounded tiny and far away.
A quick look over revealed that his brother wasn't watching him but the flat landscape as it went by. Dean considered how best to answer the question. When he knew the truth, all of it, a lie now might cause him a bigger headache then. "Uriel."
Sam's breath caught in his throat, halfway between a gasp and a sob. "Why?"
Blinking, Dean readjusted his grip on the wheel. This was the part he hated to think about. Of course Sam would focus on it.
"Why, Dean?" The question hung in the air, almost an accusation. Sam sounded nothing so much as a hurt child. "What was so bad that he had to do that? Why didn't Castiel stop him? I mean, he did it in the past, right? We stopped him, them."
Panic set Dean's heart to fluttering. He couldn't do this. Trying to control his reaction, he took a deep breath. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't close his eyes and concentrate while driving.
"Just tell me." The petulance was gone, replaced by anger. Actively glaring at his brother, Sam shifted so that his back was to the door. "Why didn't Castiel stop him? Why did God order Denver destroyed?"
"Because Castiel fell," Dean grit out between clenched teeth. "The son of a bitch chose to quit and God ordered him exterminated. Okay, Sammy? Are you satisfied?" The steering wheel groaned under his grip, which only pissed Dean off more.
Sam was so stunned he didn't even blink for an entire minute.
Seeing a sign that said motel ahead, Dean floored the accelerator. If he didn't get out of this damned car fast, he was going to kill someone.
This time they used Sam's phone to call Bobby.
Dean was still so pissed he couldn't see straight. If he had made one mistake, his phone would have suffered the consequences. That's why it was best to just let the big jerk use his. "The salt's real, Bobby, we could taste it in the air."
"I had a feeling that's what you'd find." Bobby's voice rang out from the phone in Sam's hand. "There's not much in the books about this. Last time something like this happened, God was casting judgment upon the wicked in the Twin Cities."
"Yeah, well God's worked his Biblical Mojo all over Denver's ass." Checking the chamber on his pistol, Dean cocked his head to the side. There was nothing gunking the inside, so he released the slide. "Funny thing is, in spite of Uriel's Angelic Whammy, Castiel still got away."
Sam scrunched his face in confusion. "Wait a minute, that doesn't make sense."
"None of this makes sense!" Dean shoved the loaded clip in to his gun. "Castiel's supposed to be one of the good guys. He's the hardass who lectured me about duty and wanting things you can't have!" After checking the safety, Dean set the gun aside and picked up the next one. "There were no warnings, no sign of wavering on his part to even indicate..."
"That's not what I'm talking about!" Lowering the phone, Sam took a step towards Dean. He had been avoiding looking directly at his brother since the blow up in the car. That was over now. "Why destroy Denver, Dean? If Castiel fell, he would be a fetus at best. That's years before he became useful to Lilith."
"That's just what happened to Anna, we have no way of knowing if that is standard." For the first time, Dean dared to glance up at Sam. The other man towered over him where he sat. "And speaking of her, after what we did, I'm not surprised God overreacted this time." He swallowed to keep from saying more.
"Dean." Sam took another hesitant step towards Dean. When the other's face became guarded, he stopped. Sighing, Sam shook his head and looked away. "We didn't know this would happen, Dean."
"Yeah, well, we should have! This is God we're dealing with here." His own words made Dean shiver. It wasn't a tremble, he did not tremble or quake in fear. "There are consequences, Sammy. Others have suffered cruel and unrelenting punishment for crossing him."
After that, Sam didn't feel like arguing any more. He turned to stare at his brother, his face half twisted in sorrow.
"Are you boys through passing around the guilt?"
Raising the phone, Sam stared at it guiltily. "Sorry about that, Bobby."
"Don't worry about it." Bobby snorted in to the phone. "I want you two to get here as soon as possible. This only confirms my feeling that whatever's started in Denver's only the beginning and we need to start our planning."
"Don't worry, Bobby, we'll be there some time tomorrow morning at the lastest, promise." After he finished checking the second pistol, Dean turned it over and wiped off the grip. He put them both in the bag at the foot of his bed. "We'll call you again before we take off tonight."
"All right. Good luck, both of you."
"Bye, Bobby." Sam closed the phone when the signal ended. Slipping it in his jacket pocket, he sat down on his bed. He looked a little lost, almost as if he wanted to say something but couldn't find the words.
Dean understood more than he wanted to. It was shock, pure and simple, he knew. They were going to be feeling like this for a while, he also knew. Castiel's loss was one hell of a blow to them. What it meant, he could only fear.
On his knees, Dean kept his head bowed. The smell of burning incense tickled his nose, yet he would not sneeze. Years of self practice had taught him that measure of control.
Upon the altar, that morning's sacrifice had begun to draw flies. It would be burned at sunset as was custom. In the mean while, incense was used to block out the smell.
A small breeze tugged at his beaded hair. Disturbed from his ritual, Dean raised his head and opened his eyes. He could see a shadow over him and the altar as light filtered in from the doorway behind him. Turning to the side, he took a quick breath. "How may I help you, my lord?"
"Do you believe he answers the requests of those who pray to him?" It was the same harsh voice he had come to know.
"It is not mine to question. His will is as it is." Lowering his face again, Dean closed his eyes. "God is the Divine Father. Like any father, he provides only that which we cannot gather for ourselves."
"A father also showers love and praise upon his children. You have been given neither, yet you still pray." It was not a question this time. The speaker knew the answers. "Devotion is admired in servants."
"Aren't we all His servants?" When there was no response, Dean opened his eyes. A cold chill swept through the sanctuary. The shadow was gone.
The cries of birds woke Dean. They weren't real, he could tell from the tinny quality of their songs. It was almost as if their voices were recorded.
"This was the scene in New York City's Central Park moments before..." The volume was muted as someone sat down in the motel room's one chair.
Adrenalin flooded Dean's body, forcing his heart to pump blood quickly through his body. He reached under his pillow for the silver laced knife just in case. Rolling on to his side, he tried to make it seem like a casual gesture, and opened his eyes.
There was a familiar young woman sitting in front of the motel's TV. "This is really quite entertaining. You should come see it."
"Thanks, I think I'll pass." With a roll of his eyes, Dean laid back and stretched his body. He groaned as he finished. "I thought there was salt on the door and windows."
"There was." She sounded bored by the idea. Flipping the channels, Ruby cocked her head to the side. "There is so much death and destruction in the world. I understand the fascination, but this borders on obsession. These people are very sick."
Dean snorted. He wasn't going to touch that one with a ten foot pole. Glancing at the empty bed, he sighed. "Where's Sam?"
"Getting donuts." She raised the remote and pressed the volume control. It took several hard mashes before the television responded.
The mute off, the narrative filled the room once more. "Scientist from New York's Hudson University are puzzled by the bird's behavior and found little evidence to support rumored terrorist activity."
"Birds?" That sparked something in Dean's memory that had him sitting up. He rubbed at his eyes as the sunlight reflected through the window and nearly blinded him. "What's happened in New York?"
"Oh, nothing." She turned the channel for cartoons. "Just a few million birds killing each other and everyone within reach for no apparent reason. Well," she drew the world out, "no reason Human scientists can find."
"I take it you know what is going on." Of course. If something bad was happening in the world, a demon had to be behind it. Trust Ruby to show up when the truly messed up shit was going down. He had a feeling it was her version of a spectator sport. "Is this Lilith or has some other sick mother come up for a little vacation?"
"Neither, actually." Turning to look at him, Ruby's hair fell over her eyes. She looked nothing so much as a trouble young woman. Something that was apparently well practiced. "The forces of God have struck their first major blow. This is the world's reaction, a kind of fallout."
"I thought the war was already on. Why is this all of a sudden happening?" Putting his bare feet on the floor, Dean flexed his toes to keep them rooted. He could feel the cold of the floor through the threadbare carpet.
"The Rise of the Witnesses, Samhein, Anna; those were minor skirmishes." This time, real fear showed through her practiced reactions. Reaching up, Ruby pushed the hair from her face. "God has declared war on the forces of evil. Denver was only the first step, there will be more." She couldn't keep the tremble out of her voice.
Dean had an image momentarily pop in his head. It would have been absurd two months ago, hell, two days ago even. Yet, now, he knew it to be a very real possibility. "Are you here to warn us of something, or are you looking for protection?"
This made her scowl a moment. Facing the television once more, she turned the volume up to drown out any further conversation.
By the time Dean got out of the shower, the smell of fresh donuts had filled the motel bathroom. That meant Sam was back. Over the stink of ancient mildew, the sinfully sweet goodness tickled at his nose. He quickly donned his underwear and a shirt before deciding he was dressed enough.
Stepping out of the bathroom at that moment proved to be a mistake. The room beyond was so cold that his muscles tensed. All the fine work of the shower head had been undone by two seconds of motel air.
Walking over to the box on top of the bedside table, he raised the lid to inspect the contents. There were a half dozen donuts left, all of them glazed and plain. No chocolate. Dean turned to the bed where his brother was sprawled, watching the TV. "Dude!"
"It's late. That's all they had." The jelly and powdered sugar staining his lips exposed Sam's lie.
"You're a dick." Dean narrowed his eyes and slammed the box shut. As he walked back to the bathroom, he snatched up his jeans off the bed. The laughter started before he even had the door closed. Opening it back up, he leaned out to stare at his brother. He pointed at the big dork. "Just for that, you can call Bobby and explain why your blackeyed mattress warmer is hanging around again."
"Hey!" The enraged shout came from two directions.
Dean didn't care. Slamming the bathroom door shut, he locked it behind him just in case. That would teach Sammy to eat all the good donuts.
The car ride north was filled with a tense silence. Dean knew that a little of why they were not speaking to him was his fault. That was okay with him. Still, having a sulking demon in the backseat and a sulking brother in the passenger seat got old fast.
Why she was even in the car in the first place was a mystery to him. Times past, he wouldn't even have let her ride in the trunk. There must have been something seriously wrong with him.
At least Bobby hadn't been too pissed off with them. Still, Dean was glad it wasn't him that had called the man. Sam would be sulking about the choice words the older man had had for him for a few days. That was all Dean needed.
Checking his mirrors, Dean noticed that the road was clear enough for him to get over. It was strange, the further north they went, the more traffic they ran in to. His experience had always been the exact opposite. Life was weird that way.
Then again, from what the news was saying, strange was the word of the day. The savagery of the bird attacks had been on scale with that Hitchcock movie. Dean was seriously going to stop and get some birdshot when he crossed the border in to South Dakota.
After another ten minutes, the silence started to get to him. He used the mirror to check on the demon in the back seat.
Ruby still refused to meet his stare directly, but she was glaring at his back.
A quick look to his brother told him that Sam was still building up for this three day brood. Good, it gave the kid something good to do with his time. Got to have hobbies.
Leaning forward, Dean reached up to turn the radio on. This far out in the middle of no where, chances of finding a good station were improved from those of the city. They were at least fifty-fifty. The only place those odds increased was south of St. Louis.
A quick roll through the dial revealed mostly country and a few smatterings of pop. The next scan, much slower this time, revealed the same. He flipped it to the A.M. frequencies. Mostly talk and sports, neither of which he was in the mood for so he turned it to tape.
Sam's sigh made it clear what his brother thought of that.
So what, this was his baby. Dean pushed the tape in and turned up the volume. He sat back to enjoy the music, his fingers already drumming against the steering wheel.
Something wet smacked the windshield.
Sighing, Dean checked to make sure it was rain and not something else. Another mass landed directly in front of him. This time the splatter pattern was colored a bright red.
Definitely not rain!
Activating the wipers, he sprayed the windshield. The first swipe of the blades smeared the stain. He pressed the sprayer twice more to get more cleaner on the glass. After the second spray, two more some things splattered the windshield. The resulting mess covered most of the glass.
"Shit!" Slowing the Impala, Dean turned on his blinker and pulled off to the the shoulder. No sooner than he came to a stop, then the sky opened up and thousands of green dots came falling down.
"What the hell?" Sam jerked back from the passenger door as something landed on the window.
Dean bent down enough so that he could see the sky through the front windshield. Dozens of green spots landed on the windshield and hood. Each one landed, then bounced a couple times before they came to a stop.
Staring with raised eyebrows, Dean watched as the stunned grasshoppers slowly came out of their stupor. More and more of them began to land until all he could see were grasshoppers. They weren't tiny like the ones he was used to, these were large.
"Giant Grasshoppers." As he watched, a few of them fluttered a pair of wings between their hind legs. A grin appeared on Dean's face. "Correction, locusts." Why he thought it was funny, he wasn't certain.
"What?" Leaning up through the front seats, Ruby looked out the front windshield. What she saw made her frown. "They're green."
"Yeah, but that's only when they're nice." Watching as more came down to take the place of those that flew away, Dean continued to grin. "Some sorta chemical reaction makes them mean and change colors. Think the Incredible Hulk. Then they swarm and go on a feeding frenzy with no end. It's like millions of tiny Sammys."
"Dean." Sighing, Sam closed his eyes. Dropping his head back against the rest, he shook it. "I don't even want to know how you know all this."
"Uh, I think you're both overlooking the major implication of this." Ruby pointed out the window towards the road ahead.
Dozens of cars were pulled over much like theirs. As far as the eye could see, a sea of green locusts covered the Earth.
"She's right, Dean. This was one of the Biblical plagues." Alarm crept in to Sam's voice.
This made Dean sigh. So much for them not speaking to him.
It was near one in the morning by the time they rolled in to the junkyard. Dean couldn't help but feel a little dirty. After the rain of grasshoppers had come to a stop, he had gotten back on the road. Either the insects had been too stupid or too numerous to move. Now, his poor baby was covered in bug guts.
It would take hours to clean all of her, inside and out, top to bottom. Sam was definitely helping on this. After all, it was a two man job. Thinking of the jolly green giant made him look over.
His face pressed against the window, Sam snored softly. He had been that way since eleven.
Dean decided against waking him.
The demon in the backseat was also out.
Dean felt less charitable with her. Still, he decided against waking her up. If he did, she would wake up Sam, and then he'd have two headaches to deal with. Frankly, the one that was starting in the back of his head was bad enough.
Mind made up, he grasped the handle and carefully pushed the door open. It gave way with a soft whine that made him wince. A quick look back revealed the other two were still asleep. Relieved, he climbed out and pushed the door shut with his hip.
The front porch light was on, which gave him a clear view up the walk. He took the steps loud enough to signal he was coming to the front door. No need to try and sneak up with Bobby, even though he knew the other man was well aware he had arrived.
The door opened before he even reached it. Dean put on his best grin and tucked a thumb in his pocket. "Hi, Bobby."
The shotgun that came through the front door never wavered. A half second later, it was joined by a small cup.
Dean accepted the glass and swallowed down the contents with a gasp of pleasure. "Always liked that stuff."
Pushing the door back, Bobby lowered his gun. He glanced over the porch to the Impala and raised an eyebrow.
"Asleep, both of them. I figured it would be best for both of us if I left them to it." Smiling for the older man, Dean made as if to look past him. "Can I come in or are you going to leave me out here all night?"
"It's tempting." Bobby grinned at him. Stepping back, he gestured for Dean to enter. It wasn't until Dean crossed over the threshold completely that he seemed to fully relax.
Dean closed the door behind him. The moment it shut all humor evaporated. "All right, what ya got on this one, Bobby?"
Seeing the change, Bobby snorted. Apparently nothing changed with them. "Sam was right about one thing. This wasn't your typical smiting, if there is such a thing." Walking over to the table, he set the shotgun down next to it. "All my books say the same thing, God doesn't just wipe out an entire city without one hell of a reason."
"Fallen Angels aren't enough?" Dean tried for a joke, but it fell flat between them. The shock of what he had seen early this morning was still fresh in his mind. "I know it's not the city of sinners bull, 'cause I know a few other candidates that would come to mind way before Denver. DC for starters."
"That's the part I've been trying to solve." Sighing, Bobby gestured towards the mountain of books littering his table. Most of them were half open, but set aside in stacks. "There are few things that piss off the big man enough, but none that I could come up with. See, there would have been signs ahead of everything in the book..."
"And, there wasn't," Dean finished for him. "Yeah, I get that. So, what other options do we have that might not be mentioned?"
This made Bobby frown. He looked to the books as if for some relief. "There was one thing, but I have no proof." His voice took on a softer tone when he next spoke. "It has to do with a job you boys worked recently."
It only took a moment for Dean to realize what he was talking about. "You think there was a seal in Denver." As he said it, Dean frowned. "That doesn't make sense. If Cas was there to protect it, why would he choose to fall?"
"It would if he quit because he was tired of the bloodshed. Castiel might have fallen after the city was destroyed." Bobby sounded tired for good reason. After hours of research and worrying, he was about run down. "But I don't know if I care for that interpretation. The thought of things being that bad scares the hell out of me."
"Why, Bobby?" False chipper in his voice, Dean pasted on a manic grin. "You don't think an Angel with a conscious is a good idea?" He started to laugh but felt none of the joy. "Castiel said himself that he's a warrior of God. He does what God commands. If He says over two and a half million people must die to keep a seal from being broken, then who is Castiel to say no?"
"There was no seal in Denver."
The air in the room seemed to suddenly get sucked out. Spinning, both men looked to the door.
Standing with her hand just outside the now open doorway, Ruby studied the Devil's Trap on the ceiling. "Whatever happened there, it wasn't because of a seal."
"How do you know this?" Dean took a step towards her, but a shake of Bobby's head kept him from going any further.
"Because Lilith would have been broadcasting her success all over the ether, just to taunt the Angels." Finished, Ruby lowered her gaze to the men. When he eyes settled on them, they were solid black. A blink cleared them back to human normal. "There is nothing out there. It's all just static."
"Okay, give me a moment to be a little weirded out." Dean shivered as he quickly looked away. "Now, what do you know about what went down?"
"Only what they say. Last I heard, God's wrath destroyed a city." She winced as she said the invocation. "Also, while Castiel is no longer among the heavenly host, no one is searching for him. Which is strange considering how much fire power they sent after Anna."
A cold chill ran through Dean's blood. He knew he wasn't the only one to react when he saw Bobby visibly pale. "Can you tell if they have him?"
Her eyes flared black again. Cocking her head to the side, she seemed to be listening for something. "No."
Dean had to hand it to her. She actually sounded remorseful over that one. "Real big help that was, then." Snorting, he turned away from her. If Bobby had any beer, now would be a good time to partake.
"Actually, there is one more thing." She waited until he faced her before continuing. "While I can't tell what caused it, I do know this; Castiel fell before the destruction of Denver."
Closing his eyes, Dean held his posture. The confirmation was almost damning enough to crush his hope. Castiel had fallen, God had smote Denver, Uriel had told Dean he was too late to stop it.
There was only one conclusion, and it made him sick. Raising his head, he faced the stairs. "I'm gonna go lay down, okay, Bobby?"
Exhaling through his nose, Bobby watched Dean walk away. "Sure, son, you get some sleep."