Title: Keep Me Hangin' On (Chapter Three)
Summary: Six months after "Swan Song" Dean has tried to settle into an Average Joe life as best as he can. But thanks to an unwelcome Archangel with a request for him, Dean is finding himself being thrown back into the supernatural fold again against his will.
Word Count: 4030
Disclaimer: Still not Kripke.
"This has gone on long enough, Sam. You have to tell him!"
Sam dug into his pocket and took out his phone. He flipped the keyboard open.
Bobby went to the kitchen and picked up the book he had thrown. "The deal was that we wouldn't tell Dean about you and Adam coming back as long as I kept in touch with him on the phone and you spied on him on occasion. That way Dean could have a nice, normal life."
"I know that," said Sam.
"Well, he's not having a nice, normal life, is he?" The man's voice turned into a roar. "The Angels are dragging him on some wild goose chase. And your idjit brother is allowing it in some half-assed hope that he can bring you and Adam back. But that's not going to work now is it? Because you guys are not in Hell, are you?"
Sam did not say anything. His thumbs were flying across the keyboard.
In frustration, Bobby slammed the book down on the table next to Sam. The young man did not even flinch.
"What are you doing?" Bobby growled.
Sam hit "send" and closed the phone. He stood up. "I'm texting Cas."
Bobby was taken back. "Cas knows how to text?"
"Yeah. And it only took me a week to teach him."
"How long is it going to take him to get ba-"
There was a rush of air in the den like a windstorm had broken out only to die instantly later. Castiel was standing in the middle of the room holding his phone. "I received your message. You needed to see me?"
Sam stuffed his phone in his pocket. "You better believe I needed to see you. Why are you dragging Dean around looking for Gabriel?"
Castiel looked shocked and confused as Sam had seemed to pull that information out of no where. First Sariel with Odin and now Sam with Dean. The Angel was beginning to feel like he was two steps behind everyone. "How do you know that?"
Sitting back behind his desk, Bobby tapped on his phone, "Dean just called asking for a background check on Sariel. He said she was hanging out in his kitchen. Castiel, what is going on? I thought Gabriel was dead but Dean doesn't think so."
"Dean may be right. One of the gods that Lucifer murdered at the Elysian Fields Hotel has been resurrected. There may be more because every last body that was in the hotel is gone. Including my brother's."
"And what does this have to do with Dean?" asked Sam.
"Sariel believes that he has a connection to Gabriel and that she could use Dean to find him."
"Why does she believe that?"
"Because he was Michael's vessel. Michael was one of the four Archangels to see the face of God as was Gabriel. There is a connection between the brothers because of this."
Sam shrugged his shoulders. "Lucifer saw God's face too and I was his vessel. Use me instead of Dean. Leave him alone and I'll go where ever you want."
Castiel frowned. He shook his head as he refused to look Sam in the eye. "You can't."
"Because for the very reason that you were Lucifer's vessel. We can not run the risk that diving into your psyche may open a portal for him to return."
A knot grew in Sam's gut. He knew he still had ties to Lucifer be had not realized they were so raw. The thought that Lucifer could climb back into him as easily as a person slipping into a suit terrified him. Lucifer had already worn him once. Had shoved Sam so far back in his skin that the man thought he was on the other side of universe. And even then Lucifer, the real Fallen Angel, with his many wings of fire that burned like dying suns and his multiple faces that took on the snarl of his pride, could be seen as brilliant as day. For Lucifer was everywhere Sam looked. Sam could not hide from him.
Sam dropped to his chair. His skin had grown ghost white and he wanted to throw up. But he still thought of his brother, "You can't, Castiel. You can't take Dean. We promised that we would keep him out of hunting for the rest of his life."
"No," said the Angel. There was an edge to his voice. "You promised that. I agreed because Dean does deserve peace."
"Cas, goddamit," yelled Bobby. "What has gotten into you? It's Dean!"
"And it's Gabriel!" he snapped back.
Bobby and Sam were stunned by Castiel's outburst. The Angel stood there with his eyes narrowed and staring at the space between them. His face was a stern mask of stone. "Do you know how many sisters and brothers I have lost since I have raised Dean from hell? I even killed some of them, myself. Initially, I was not a part of this. However; if there is a sliver of a chance that one of them may be alive out there somewhere, I am willing to take it."
"But it's Gabriel," said Sam. "Last time you saw him he tossed you around and bruised you up. Not to mention that he has been estranged for God knows how long. You must barely know him. How can you care so much for someone who is practically a stranger?"
Castiel's shoulders dropped back as his head slowly turned to meet Sam's eyes. His entire body tensed up seemingly ready to fight. Sam could feel the hairs on his arms raise at attention. Every last primal instinct told him to flee. He clenched his teeth and buried the fear in his bones.
"How is Adam, by the way?" Castiel said drawing out each and every word and dipping it in ice. "Are you still sending him money? Were you able to use your college connections to get him that scholarship you were talking about?"
Sam bared his teeth. "That's not the same, Cas, and you know it."
"SHUT UP!" yelled Bobby straining his voice, "THE BOTH OF YOU!"
Castiel and Sam obeyed.
Bobby rose from his chair. Closing his eyes, he took off his ball cap and scratched his scalp. His mind was racing with a million thoughts. All of which came to the same conclusion. He hated that conclusion. He put his hat back on and sighed. "Castiel, can you promise me that Dean will be absolutely safe with you and Sariel?"
"What?" Sam jumped to his feet. He was dumbfounded. He thought Bobby had his back. "You can't really mean-"
"Dean already said 'yes'," explained Bobby. "If Castiel and Sariel just up and disappear on him after asking for his help, he's going to get suspicious. Hell, the boy already is suspicious. He thinks that Cas is hiding something. Which he is. You. We have to let this play out or else Dean is going to start sniffing around. And once he does that, he will find you and Adam, Sam. And you know he will."
Sam sunk back in his chair. "Bobby..."
"Look, I don't like it any more than you do. But the faster Dean goes on this fool's errand, the faster he can return to his Mayberry life," He turned back to Castiel who was standing there as still as a shadow. "So, can you promise me?"
"I will die before he does."
"Then go, you son of a bitch."
Castiel nodded and vanished.
Dean came bounding down the stairs. He had grabbed his old Colt 1911 from its hiding spot between the mattress and the boxspring in his room. Lisa did not even know of the gun. Dean liked it that way. The gun was his security blanket and one of the few things he could not let go from his old life. Having it around allowed him to sleep better at night knowing that he could grab it if anyone broke into the house. Though with the track record of the past few months, the most Dean had to worry about was shooting a stray raccoon that had wandered into the crawlspace above the attic.
He stuffed it in the back of his jeans waistband and fixed his shirt on top of it. "I called in all of my sick days at work," he shouted as he shoved his feet into his boots and tied the laces. He grabbed his jacket and tossed it on. "I am cleared until next Saturday." He wandered into the kitchen, "If this little recon takes more than a week, well, you're going to have to take it up with my boss."
Sariel was leaning against the counter. With her head thrown back, she was staring at the overhead light which had relit itself despite having been blown out. She was alone.
She pointed upwards. "Said he had to do some paperwork to clear this job."
"Paperwork?" Dean raised a doubtful eyebrow. "In Heaven?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "Bureaucracy is universal." She lolled her head to the side, smiling in his direction, "Don't worry. He'll be back in a jiffy."
Dean smiled back despite himself. He had a soft spot for anyone who used the word, "jiffy". He caught himself forgetting for a moment that the woman in his kitchen could possibly sink half of California in the ocean if she wished to. But then he saw that the once dead overhead light was back on. She's an Archangel. She's an Archangel. She's an Archangel. His mind thumped the thought in his skull trying to make the marking permanent. He gave the woman a glance as he pulled a bottle of water from the fridge. Okay, she's an Archangel in short shorts. Dammit, Dean. Focus. He opened the bottle and took a sip. "I have to ask. You said the Bobby didn't 'fess to where I was. How did you find me?"
Sariel reached into her back pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. "I remembered the Winchester Gospels and I paid a visit to the Prophet Charles Shurley to see if he had written anything about you lately."
Dean groaned at the mention of the Winchester Gospels. Even now Dean had a hard time believing that one day those cheesy novels would be considered holy scripture. He thought of Chuck as a nice enough guy but still could not help but think, Man, those books were badly written. "How is Chuck, by the way?"
"I don't know. " Sariel unfolded the piece of paper. "The Holy Prophet wasn't there when I had dropped by." She handed it to Dean. "Anyway, I found a story he had been working on. I wrote some of it down here."
Putting the bottle of water on the counter, Dean took the paper and began to read. The passage Sariel had written down spoke of Dean's search to find Lisa again right after he had made up his mind to say "yes" to Michael. Every last detail was there. Which states he had gone through. What streets he had search. What the color of Lisa's house was. Even the smell of the lilac incense that had wafted out when Lisa opened the door to him. It was all there as if he had written the passage himself from memory.
A cold chill raced down Dean's spine. Always a bug under glass. He crumpled up the paper and tossed it in the trash. He looked back at Sariel as if daring her to say something. She stared back for a second only to return her gaze to the ceiling.
Castiel appeared in the dining room.
Sariel clasped her hands in excitement. "Are we good to go?"
"Yes," he said.
"No, we're aren't. Not yet." Dean went to a kitchen drawer and opened it. He took out a pad of paper and a pen. He scribbled down;
"Went out. Will be back soon. Basement works fine.
He skimmed it over and added;
"P.S. I owe you a radio."
He slapped the paper down on the open space counter that faced the front entrance. Grabbing the two empty bottles from the sink, he placed them on the edge of the paper. There. Just in case if I am not back in time. With Lisa's hatred of messes, the bottles would grab her attention and she would see the note.
"Okay, now we can go."
Sariel grabbed Dean by the shoulder and Castiel by his hand.
"Where are we going fir-" before Castiel could finish he found himself standing in front of the Elysian Fields Hotel.
"What are we doing in the middle of an empty field?" asked Dean as he gazed out on the flat plain that was littered with wiltering dandelions.
Sariel smacked the man on the back of his head.
He let out a yelp. Rubbing the sore spot, he growled, "What the hell was that fo-?" His eyes stared at the front of a building that was not there a moment ago. He scanned up and up taking every inch of it in.
"Your sight needed adjusting." Sariel stepped up to the entrance. There was a sigil painted in her blood on the front door. Enochian lettering encircled her name. She slipped a Swiss Army knife from her pocket and pulled out the blade. She sliced open her palm. Blood beaded and then pooled in the cup of her hand. She muttered something under her breath and slapped her hand against the sigil. She pulled away. The lettering began to burn and turn to flame. Smoke and ash drifted into the air leaving the glass behind it clean. She balled up her injured hand and reopened it. The blood and the cut was gone. Grabbing the doorknob, she turned it and opened the door.
All three walked in. The perfume of flowers greeted them. Dean scanned the room. Lilies of the Valley grew along the wall. Their stems and leaves stretched from floor to ceiling. Roots dug deep into the carpet holding the plants in place. This was not the smell Dean had expected from a place that had been turned into a slaughterhouse. Still, there was something eerily death-like about it. He sniffed the air trying to smell the blood that had once soaked the carpets and the walls. The memory of that metallic stench never leaves anyone who has ever smelled it. But there was no blood reek there. Only flowers.
"Did you guys do this?" he asked pointing to the plants.
"A tomb needs flowers," Sariel answered as she headed to the hallway. She motioned for Castiel and Dean to follow.
The three went into the Grand Ballroom. Dean had not been there since he had last fled. He had forgotten how gaudy it was. The red plush velvet chairs, the gold lamé tablecloths, the hip glass chandeliers, the 70's swinger wall decor, it was all there in its Barry White glory. There were only two things that were different. Where there was once an empty space in the horseshoe shaped table, a large block of white marble took up residence. Enochian writing was etched on one side. Hebrew on another. And Latin on another still. Dean guessed that on the side he could not see had Arabic on it. Though he could not read the Hebrew or the Enochian inscriptions, Dean could understood the Latin one and knew that what the other languages said had to be the same.
"Gabrielus," he read. He stared at the blue shroud that was draped over the block. "This was where Gabriel was rested?"
"Yes," said Sariel.
Dean wandered over to the other thing that was different in the room. Two massive scorched outlines of wings stretched across the wooden floor onto one of the tables. "And this was where he died?"
Sariel closed her eyes feeling her heart sink. "Yes."
Dean squatted down to examine the markings. He thought about what Gabriel's last moments must have been like. The younger Archangel standing up to his brother in order to save Sam, Kali and his skin. Gabriel knew that he would be killed. He had to. But still the Archangel stood his ground because Dean had talked him into it. Gabriel, you were a major pain in my ass but you didn't deserve this. He rose to his feet and stepped away from the outlines. I'm sorry.
He turned to Sariel, "Why are we here?"
"To look for clues. I was hoping that somehow, someway with you being Michael's vessel you could tap into something here that I can't."
"Do you feel anything, Dean?" asked Castiel who was eyeing him like he was about to sprout antlers.
"What? No." He looked at Castiel. The Angel was slowly frowning. Only it was not in anger but in soul crushing disappointment. Dean felt like he had just told a child that his puppy was lost and there was nothing he could do about it. He rolled his eyes. This is stupid. He closed them anyway. Breathing slowly, he tried to feel out the room with his mind. He had no idea what to expect. A sharp pain. A bolt of shock. A tickle. Anything. Anything with an answer.
Nothing came to him.
Some waste of vessel he was turning out to be.
He opened his eyes. There had to be another way to search for Gabriel if he was actually alive. "You said the meat locker was empty and that Odin was back. Maybe we should talk to the gods that were here to see if they know anything. At least the ones that Gabriel was known to hang around with."
"Gabriel hid as Loki," Castiel said as a light appeared in his eyes. A slight smile of hope grew across his face. "Perhaps we should to talk to Odin again."
Sariel laughed bitterly. "That guy was three sheets to the wind. The most we will get out of him are some old football stories of him going on village raids. He's useless."
Dean held up his hand getting the two's attention. "What about Kali?"
"What about her?" asked Sariel. "She wasn't amongst the dead."
"No, but she was here." Dean started for the door. "Don't move." He ran down the hallway to the front desk. He hoped that the Angels had not messed with the area. They had not. Scattered paperwork littered the work place. The electronic register was still waiting to be used. Pens rested in a cup. Dean found what he wanted on the counter. The guest sign in book. Making his way back to the Ballroom, he flipped through the first few pages. The names read like a who's whom of Olympian mythology. Each god signed their name twice, once for their Greek name and once for their Roman name. Dean ran his fingers down the list. Apparently, Eros was a frequent guest. He flipped towards the back until the familiar Latin and Greek letters stopped and other alphabet characters appeared. Here were the non-Olympian gods. Dean stopped in the middle of the hallway, surprised at what he came across. While the Olympians signed their names using a single uniformed line each, the other gods went all out in their signatures. Some had used fat markers that bled through the paper. Others had signed using huge characters and flourishes that sometimes over took another god's name. A few had actually burned their names into the paper. How they did not manage to burn the whole book was a mystery to Dean.
It's a pissing contest with signatures. He found the whole thing ridiculous. Are they gods or are they thirteen year old boys? He remembered what Sariel and Castiel had said about the gods. How they were always fighting amongst themselves. Here was proof positive of that truth.
He found Kali's signature. It was not hard to spot. She had taken up two entire pages with it. She had written her name out in Sanskrit and in Bengali. Then below that she wrote out in English in parenthesis, "Kali: Destroyer of Worlds and Redeemer of the Universe."
I wonder how her business card looks like, thought Dean with a smirk.
He walked back into the Ballroom holding the book out to Sariel. "See, here's the guestbook. She signed her name."
Sariel took the book and read Kali's signature. She still did not understand the fuss over the fact that Kali had been at the hotel. "Why should that matter?"
Dean was taken back. He thought it should have been obvious. Then he realized that he had never told anyone every detail of that night when Lucifer had come to the hotel. Only the bare facts of the gods trying to bribe their way out of harm's path, Lucifer showing up and Gabriel fighting him. Dean had forgotten to tell one important fact.
"It matters," he said taking back the book and turning through the pages once more, "because Gabriel, under the disguise of Loki, had a thing with Kali for a while." He stopped at Loki's signature. The strange thing with his name was it had been written like an Olympian name; neatly on a single line. The only thing that separated the two styles was that Gabriel had drawn a smiley face with its tongue sticking out as the dot in the "i". He handed the book back to Sariel pointing out Loki's name. "If there is one thing I know from my years of working cases is that old girlfriends always seem to have the dirt on their exes."
Sariel and Castiel crowded around the book and stared at Loki's name as if they kept on staring a connection would form between them and the ink that would lead them back to Gabriel. When nothing happened, Sariel ripped the page out and tossed the book on one of the red velvet chairs. She ripped the page again, tearing Baldr's name away from her brother's alias. Crumpling up Baldr's signature, she tossed the trash over her shoulder and with great care, slipped Loki's signature into her front pocket.
Dean understood why she had done this. He still had an old post-it note that his mom had scribbled down a grocery list on. He kept the scrap paper in his wallet. Even Sam did not know about that.
He raised his eyebrows. "So, come on. Kali. What do you think?"
"I think you are right but," Sariel pinched the bridge of her nose and growned, "why does it have to be Kali? There are so many gods out there, Gabriel. Why did you pick her?"
Dean smirked, "I take it you've met Little Miss Charming."
Sariel gave the man a somber look that read, Don't ask stupid questions, boy.
"What is wrong with Kali?" asked Castiel, cocking his head. He had never come across the goddess and only knew of her by myths.
Sariel took him by the hand and grabbed Dean by his shoulder. "You'll find out." She pulled them along down the hallway, through the front lobby and back outside. She closed the door. Taking out her Swiss Army knife, she sliced open her hand again and rewrote the spell on the entrance. A crackle of electricity ran up the walls of the building. She healed her hand and slipped it back into Castiel's. She grabbed Dean's shoulder again.
"Now where are we going?" he asked.
"To see Kali." She closed her eyes and shook her head like a disappointed parent. "Honestly, Dean, it was you who suggested it."
Dean curled his lip at Sariel's rudeness. "I know that but where is she?"
"Most likely slumming it at her temple back east, surrounded by her worshippers."
"Hold on, are you saying we are going to India?"
Dean tried to wiggle free from Sariel's grasp. Leaving his home for some other place in the U.S. was one thing but popping into another country was something different altogether. He did not even own a passport. "No, wait!"
The three vanished.
RETURN TO CHAPTER TWO