Title: Keep Me Hangin' On (Chapter Two)
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.
Rating: What is Supernatural rating, show-wise? Teen? M? PG-13. Well, whatever it is, that's it.
Word Count: 5,109
Disclaimer: Nope, I am not Kripke. Nope, these guys aren't mine. But I love them anyway.
"Gabriel is dead," said Castiel.
Sariel narrowed her eyes. "No."
"It's true," said Dean softly. He could see the pain in the Archangel's eyes. He knew that look like it was his own reflection. "We were at a hotel, The Elysian Fields. Your brother went up against Lucifer. And, well, I didn't see it because Sam and I were running but...Gabriel never came out."
The overhead light started to tap out messages again.
"So," Dean began, "dead is dead."
"That's rich coming from you." The light popped and went out. Sariel pointed at Dean. "Just how many times have you died only to have been brought back soon after. Huh? Do you even have a number?"
Dean stared at his feet without saying a word.
"There you go." The Archangel leaned towards the man barely keeping out of his comfort zone. Her eyes locked with his. "I know that Gabriel died. Castiel can tell you. It's a huge deal when an Archangel bites it."
Dean glanced at Castiel. The Angel nodded. "When you and Sam told me about Gabriel's death at the hotel and then you showed me the DVD, I told a few Angels that were still on speaking terms with me. From there, they spread the word. There was a great despair. All of Heaven wept."
"They even kept the hotel erected as a tomb," said Sariel, "It would be invisible to non-Angels but for us, it would always stand-"
"-as a monument of when the Prodigal Son returned and picked up his sword for the side of the Just," finished Castiel.
Dean's heart ached for the two. The idea of a garish hotel as a tomb was somewhat fitting for the Trickster Archangel. However; any tomb was a reminder of who was lost. A thought pricked his mind, "There were gods in that place. Dead gods. What happened to them?"
Shrugging her shoulders, Sariel leaned back and slouched against the counter. "Their bodies were shoved into the hotel's meat locker."
"Yep, and serves them right. They shouldn't have tried to go after Lucifer."
The man's mouth fell open but he could not think of anything to say.
"Don't be so horrified. They weren't missed."
"How could they have not been missed?" Dean said almost shouting, "They were gods."
Sariel exchanged tired looks with Castiel. She waved a hand off as if inviting the Angel to answer this one.
"Pagan gods are different from Angels," Castiel explained in a flat voice like he was reading from a manual. "Most of them, at least. Angels are always joyous to have more Angels around. The creation of an Angel is a celebration. It is very much like the birth of a Human child. Only with less handing out of cigars." He paused waiting for Dean to laugh at his attempt at a joke. When Dean did not so much as smile, Castiel cleared his throat and continued. "Pagan gods, on the hand, see other gods as competition. They are constantly fighting amongst themselves over land, goods, magic and worshippers."
"So," stepped in Sariel, "when a god kicks the bucket everyone pops their champagne corks. One less adversary in the game." Her face became serious once more. "No one came for them, Dean. No one asked for them. No one cared." She scrunched up her face. "Or at least I thought no one did."
"What do you mean, sister?" asked Castiel as he cocked his head.
Dean drew closer. He wanted to know too.
The Archangel began to pace between the kitchen and the dining room. She scratched behind her ear looking as if she was trying to figure out the right words to say. "The instant Michael and Lucifer fell into that pit and the Earth shut closed, clean-up began. The six other Archangels of the Earth and myself made sure the floods, plagues, and hurricanes that came about due to Lucifer's road trips were taken care of. I was the one who was regulated to check the Earth's sub-pockets."
"'Sub-pockets?'" asked Dean.
"They're realms within realms. They share the same sun and sky but not entirely. Places like Olympus. The actually one. Not the mountain. My job was to make sure that those lands were okay as well. Because if they weren't, the gods, demi-gods and what not that lived there would be ticked. And if they are ticked they create havoc nature-wise. Which makes my job as an Earth guardian so much more difficult."
"Sariel," said the man, "with all due respect-" He made circles with his hand indicating that the Archangel should cut the fat and get to the meat of the story.
The Archangel bit her lip and held up her hands. "Sorry, I am not used to talking about work. And I am definitely not used to the impatience of Humans."
Castiel rolled his eyes and nodded in agreement. "Tell me about it."
"Hey," snapped Dean, smacking the Angel in the arm as hard as he could knowing that it would barely tickle Castiel. "Can we get back to the sub-pockets, already?"
"Right," Sariel nodded. "The first place I went to was Asgard. Now do you know who I found there drunk off his ass and eating golden apples like there was no tomorrow? Odin."
Disbelief washed over Dean. "That can't be. Odin's dead. Lucifer smoked him."
"I know! I was the one who personally put that geezer in the freezer. But there he was in all of his glass eye glory."
Castiel began to pace after his sister, "I did not know this. How come I do not know this?"
Swinging around, she grabbed her brother by his shoulders, halting the both of them. "No one but me knows this. It just happened."
"How could it have just happened?" asked Dean. "It has been six months since your brothers went under."
"Time works differently in the sub-pockets. You go there for a day only to return here and find out that six months have passed."
Dean remembered reading about fairy circles that acted exactly like that in an entry in his father's journal. "Fine, then. Here's the sixty-four thousand dollar question, who brought him back?"
Letting go of her brother, Sariel shrugged as if she could not fathom the truth even though she was the one telling it. "That's the thing. The old man says he doesn't know. All he does know is that right before he opened his eyes again he heard a voice telling him that he had to wake up. That he had his own prophecy to full fill. And then bam! He was in Valhalla."
The room became quiet as everyone was lost in their minds. Even though they were not talking, the same thought screamed loud and bright as a supernova in each of them.
"Could it have been Father?"
Sariel stared off into nothingness with her mind beating hard with ideas. "Who else can bring a god back to life, renew his powers and send him on his merry little way?"
Dean searched his head for an answer but could not find one besides the person being God, Himself. He wished he was at Bobby's. At least then he could double check it against the books. However; deep down Dean knew that the truth had to be God. He looked over at Castiel. An expression flashed over the Angel's face that took Dean back. Was that disgust? Strong emotions were a rarity for Castiel. Outward expressions were even rarer. But Dean could not deny what he had seen. There was anger in those blue eyes. Dean wondered if Castiel was pissed off at his own Father for the same reason why he was pissed off at Him. All these people get a second life but not the ones either of us want.
"Could that Odin have been a doppelganger?" asked Castiel. He seemed to be begging for the Odin resurrection to be a lie. "A shapeshifter perhaps? Maybe his real body still lies in the meat locker."
Sariel shook her head. "No. That was him. I went back to the hotel immediately after I came across his living, breathing self. No one had touch the place since I had sealed it up with sigils. Except for a few stored away Human body parts, the meat locker was empty."
"What about Gabriel's vessel?"
"Gone as well. And his death shroud, the one I laid on his body after finding him? It had not been disturbed. It was as if Gabriel's vessel had vanished right from underneath the fabric. And that's why I don't think he's dead anymore. Because if Father can bring you and Dean back, as well as Odin then why couldn't He have brought Gabriel back? He had to." There was a crack in her voice. "He simply had to."
The room grew quiet again as everyone swam in their thoughts. Dean frowned knowing what he had to say next but did not know how to say it politely. After all, missing siblings and a schmuck for a father was a common road for him. He felt like he understood where the two siblings were coming from. In any other time, he would buy the two a beer and whine about the suckfest that was their immediate family. Still, the question had to be asked.
He tensed up knowing that there was a good chance there was going to be another electrical storm running through the house any second. "Sariel," he started off slowly, "Not to be a dick or anything but what does this got to do with me?"
The appliances stayed still but a disgusted frown came across Sariel. But the frown took on an exhausted feel. Dean could have sworn that he saw the Archangel's vessel reveal every second of her age. And Sariel looked ancient. "You're tied to my brother. At least more so than me."
"What do you mean?"
"After the war in Heaven between Lucifer with his Angels and Michael with his, Gabriel was the one who locked Lucifer up."
"I thought it was Michael who threw Lucifer into the pit."
The Archangel shook her head. "It was Father who made the pit. It was Michael who threw Lucifer in the cage. And it was Gabriel who locked the cage and tossed the key."
Dean thought about Gabriel on the DVD. That's how he knew about the Horsemen's rings. He was the one who had the key in the first place.
"Locking up his brother killed him. Absolutely killed him. After that Gabriel disappeared. No one knew where he was except Father and He wasn't speaking. Personally, I thought Gabriel had gone off world and transformed into a star."
"You can do that?" Dean said trying to imagine the Trickster that he knew bursting into a huge ball of gas and light.
"Like I said," Sariel continued rolling her eyes, "I thought he had transformed into a star. And if that was the case the search was screwed because have you ever looked at the night sky? Not exactly an Easter egg hunt. Especially for me seeing how my station was on Earth. Leaving my post was and is verboten. But then something interesting happened. Angels were getting assigned to certain Humans because Gabriel had showed up delivering messages from God. But it was always after the fact. Father gave a memo to Gabriel. Gabriel passed the word to the subject. Then bro would disappear. Then an Angel would be assigned to that Human to watch over him or her. And this went on for millennia and up until a few hundred years ago."
"We've been thinking that as long as Gabriel delivered the word of our Father, Father would leave Gabriel alone," said Castiel. "How else was he able to hide away from Heaven's eyes for this long?"
Sariel nodded in agreement. "All of those years and not one Angel came across him? Not one caught a glimpse of him? Please. And this is where you come in. How many times have you bumped into my brother?"
Dean backtracked in his head. He remembered the Janitor, Sam's Groundhog Day bit, the Prime Time television gag and the hotel. "Around four times."
"Four times. In your short, brief candle of a life, you've run into my brother four times. Again, not one Angel has been able to catch wind of him for millennia. What does that tell you?"
"Oh, come on," Dean threw his hands in the air. "You can't seriously be suggesting this. I am not tied to your brother, Lady. I am just..."
"The old vessel for Michael," Sariel interrupted, "The same Archangel who was one of the four to see the face of God. A group which included Gabriel."
"No. No. No," Dean waved his hands over his head as if he could swipe off the very idea of what Sariel was saying. He stormed past the Archangel into the dining room. His headache was starting to turn into a migraine. All he wanted to do was to go up to his room and crash on his bed.
Sariel appeared in front of him.
Dean jumped back, tripping over his own feet. Down he went but felt two arms wrapping around his chest. He looked up to see Castiel holding him. The Angel set him back up. Dean jerked his shirt down, straightening his rumpled clothing. "Cas, tell your sister I don't want to hear any more of this bunk."
"I do not think it's bunk, Dean."
"Then you agree with her? You think I am tied to Gabriel?"
"You were once Michael's potential vessel."
Letting out a growl, Dean turned to continue his path towards his bedroom only to face Sariel. He held his hands up in peace as he walked around the Archangel. His face never leaving her stare. He swung around to go up stairs only to find Sariel standing in front of him again. Dean spun around towards the front door, deciding if she was going to follow him around the house he was going to go outside. But again, she was right there. He dodged around her leaving her in the dining room. Racing for the entrance, he grabbed the handle and yanked the door open. Sariel was standing on the porch looking in.
"Oh, come on!" he said again. He tossed his head back, "Cas, I thought you said I couldn't be harmed by any Angel."
"She is not harming you."
Dean jumped sideways again and away from Castiel who had popped up on his left side.
"Stop that!" Dean slammed the door shut in Sariel's face. He stomped back into the kitchen to see Sariel leaning against the counter with her arms crossed. She was smirking. Dean paused giving her a dirty look. He then went to the fridge and grabbed a beer. Uncapping, he took one long swig nearly emptying half the bottle. He gave Sariel another dirty look in case she did not understand the first one. Without checking his left side, he slapped his hand in the space. He felt the wrinkled fabric of a suit and tie. Castiel was back as Dean was assure he would be. Only a short while ago, Dean had been bemoaning about how everyone in his life eventually left him. Now he was stuck with two supernatural beings that he could not shake off. Somewhere Dean was convinced that God was laughing at the irony. He took another swig to stop himself from calling the being a bastard out loud.
An idea occurred to him. An idea that would surely enrage the Archangel. However, Dean knew he had to ask it. He took another swig for courage. "How powerful are you, Sariel?"
Another swig. "I mean, how strong of an Archangel are you? I met Raphael. He blacked out the entire Eastern Seaboard. Are you that powerful? What can you do?"
Sariel tilted her head at the question. She found it odd but still ran through her memories for an answer. Her mouth flattened out to a grim slit. "Remember that earthquake that happened in the Indian Ocean back in '04. The one that made those tsunamis? That was me."
Dean dropped his beer. Castiel caught the bottle before it hit the floor. He handed it back to the man. Dean took it and finished the rest of the bottle in one gulp. He tossed the beer in the sink, clinking it against its twin. "Then it may be possible."
"What may be possible?" asked Sariel.
"You want me to help you find your brother?" He stepped up face to face with the Archangel. In her boots and his socks, she was barely a couple of inches shorter than him. "Alright, but only on one condition, you yank Sam and Adam out of Hell."
Dean waited for the Archangel to growl at him and to make the electricity dance again. After all, even though he was Michael's vessel at some point, he was still a little guppy of a Human to her Great White. But instead of anger, confusion showed on her face followed by an expression that spoke, You poor bastard.
"What?" said the man.
"You don't know?"
Sariel caught Castiel narrowing his eyes and shaking his head. Her eyes went back to Dean who was standing there quickly turning pissed. Then back to Castiel who gave her a threatening glare. She knew that Castiel could do little to her. His rank gave him so much power against hers. But still, there was something in his eyes that said if she tried to speak, she would at least lose an ear.
Dean watched as she went from confused to taken back. Her whole body leaned back further on the counter as if to distance herself from him. Dean knew that was incorrect. She was not afraid of her she was afraid of Castiel. The man turned to the Angel behind him. Castiel's face was flat. Not even a grimace or a smirk. His blue eyes drifted from Sariel to the man's. Nothing was behind them. It was as if Castiel had tied up his emotions and expressions in a neat bow and shoved them into the deepest place within himself for safe keeping. Dean went back to Sariel who was still staring at Castiel with a stern expression.
What the hell is going on here? Dean thought. Castiel was hiding something. He was sure of it. But the Angel was not one to keep things from him. The opposite was often the truth. Castiel was quite childlike in that if he thought it, he spoke it. No information was too private or personal.
At least that was what Dean had believed. But now the Angel was definitely hiding something. Something so big that even an Archangel was afraid to speak it.
However; that did not stop Dean from asking again, "Know what?"
Sariel refused to look the man in the eye. She stared at the broken overhead light. "Know that it is forbidden by Father's law. What's done is done and Sam and Adam have to stay down there."
Liar! Dean bit deep into his tongue to help hide his simmering temper. He wanted to seize Castiel by the lapels and shake him, demanding to be told what he knew and why was the Angel hiding it from him. If you know something, you winged son of a bitch. Dean shut his eyes. He reminded himself that Castiel was a friend. More than a friend. The Angel literally went through hell and back for him. He was family. However; Dean had punched family before. Castiel would not be an exception. But Dean also knew that the moment he tried to manhandle the Angel, Castiel would either vanish or knock Dean out with a touch. Either way, he would be without answers. Dammit, Cas, what is it that you can't tell me?
No, Dean would have to use his wits instead of his fists. He did not know how sharp Sariel was yet but Castiel was all book and no street. If he tried, Dean could probably con the Angel into spilling his guts. Dean had done it a million times with other people. Say you are from whatever department. Flash a badge. Grin the pearly whites. Get the information. Easy-peasy. Doing something similar to Castiel should not be that different. At least not that hard. The down side to this was he was going to have to stick to Castiel where ever he went. And it seemed right now Castiel was going to stick to Sariel. Dean was going to have to say "yes" to that woman's stupid quest. Fan-frikkin-tastic.
"Dean," said Sariel, "please, come with me." She looked over to her brother. "Come with us."
Dean frowned. "You are coming along after all, Cas?"
"I am now." Castiel stared at Dean intensely. There was something heartbreaking in the Angel's eyes. Castiel turned away, blinking. Apparently, something he did not want to share with the man.
"Okay," Dean clenched his teeth, "but promise me this, Lady, Daddy's law or not, you help me find a loop hole to get my brothers back."
Sariel gave him another poor bastard look. "Kid, I don't think there is a loop hole. Not in this case."
"There's always a loop hole."
Sariel exchanged glances with Castiel again. The Angel nodded.
"Deal," she said. "We'll look for this mysterious loop hole after we're done."
"And I also need to be back by Monday or else."
"What's happening Monday?" she asked.
"The wiring in the basement is shot to hell. I've got an electrician coming in to look at it."
Sariel laughed. "You're kidding, right?"
"Lady, I work in construction. I never kid about wiring."
The Archangel smiled. Dean was becoming cute to her again. "Wait a tic." She vanished.
Dean was alone with Castiel in the kitchen. Dean's palms began to itch. He wanted to reach out and yank Castiel. The Angel was not even looking at him now. He was pretending to be interested in the fried radio. Instead of being casual, he was hamming it up. Playing with the knobs and hitting the top as if he really understood the inner workings of the machine.
A hot flush was turning Dean's ears pink. He was brewing harder and harder with each passing second. The urge to scream, "LOOK AT ME!" was starting to make his body tremble.
You know something, Cas. GOD DAMN IT! YOU KNOW SOMETHING!
Dean swung around to see Sariel standing at the kitchen entrance. "You were right. It was shot to hell. But it's honky dory David Bowie now. Let's hit the road."
"Wait," said Dean as he turned back to Castiel. The Angel was still refusing to look him in the eye. "There are a few things I need to get before we can go. Give me a second." He stormed out of the kitchen, grazing Sariel in the shoulder. He did not bother to apologize. Rounding out the living room corner, he stopped and crouched low. Leaning in, he spied into the kitchen hoping that now that Castiel and Sariel were alone, they would trip something up. Dean felt like he was four again and sneaking a peek at one of the many fights his parents had when they thought he was not around. Only Castiel and Sariel were not speaking. They were not even moving. Dean squinted his eyes. He could not tell with Sariel since her back was to him but for Castiel he could see his actions plainly. His chest was not moving. He was not breathing! Dean shut his eyes thinking that they were playing tricks on him. Castiel had to breathe. He could have sworn he heard the Angel gasp once in a fight.
Dean rose to his feet and leaned over again. The two beings were still flesh and blood statues. He was not going to learn a single thing from spying on them. He snorted a grunt in frustration. Going to the front entrance, he grabbed his jacket from the heap. Poking around in the pockets, he took out his phone and ran up stairs to his room. He slammed the door behind him.
Sariel's eyes climbed up to the ceiling. Dean was gone. Good. She could now speak. "Why haven't you told him his brothers are back on Earth?"
Castiel frowned. "Orders."
"Whose? I know all the orders that trickle down from the higher ups. I haven't heard of a memo."
"That is because there is no memo. The order doesn't come from Heaven."
"Then from whom does it come from?"
"It comes from Sam. Himself."
Dean clicked on the phone's menu. Going through his address book, he stopped at the second number on his list. He dialed. He began to pace around the room, kicking about the dirty clothes that littered the floor.
"Come on. Come on," he said biting into the nails of his free hand, "Be there and pick up. Please."
There was a click on the other end.
"Hello," said a gruff voice.
"Bobby, it's me, Dean."
"Dean? Good to hear from you, son. It has been about two weeks, hasn't it? How the hell are you?"
A twinge of guilt came over the Dean. It had been two weeks since he had last called Bobby. Ever since he had returned from hell to learn that Sam had practically abandon Bobby, leaving the man heartbroken and on a bender, Dean promised that if something like that happened and the roles were reversed, he would never forget Bobby. Bobby was blood without the blood. Especially when Dean had learned that the man who had saved Sam and his life time and time again, the man who Dean thought was one of the bravest and most loyal men that he had ever known was seen by the outside world as the town drunk. That truth ate Dean up. He wanted to go around and slug each and every person who ever dared to slur Bobby's name. So, Dean kept in touch hoping that Bobby would know that at least one person on the planet believed in him and was grateful that he was around.
"Sorry that I haven't called, Bobby. It's just-"
"You have a different life," said Bobby. Dean could hear the smile in the man's voice. "It's alright, boy. I understand. I am just happy you've called."
Dean smiled weakly. Good old Bobby. He snapped his fingers, "Bobby, what can you tell me about the Archangel, Sariel?"
There was a pause. Dean could hear books being opened and paper ruffling. "Here we go. Sariel. He's also known as Suriel. But depending on what book you are reading, they can be two separate Archangels."
"Tell me about both of them."
"Their stories are similar. Suriel is an Angel of healing. He's also an Angel of Death."
Dean stopped and pinched the bridge of his nose in disgust. "That's nice. What else?"
"Well, Sariel is listed as one of the seven Archangels in Enoch as well as one of the seven Archangels of Earth. We are talking a big bad mofo here. Think a Roman general watching over the planet. During Biblical times, soldiers used to write his name on their shields to invoke his protection as well as his power."
"Did it work?"
"Whole armies were wiped out by those guys. Like I said, this is one nasty Archangel. Why do you ask?"
"I ask 'cause Sariel, who is actually a girl, is in my kitchen right now hanging out with Cas."
Dean pulled the phone away from his head. Bobby's yell nearly busted his ear drum. He stuck his pinkie in his ear and wiggled the finger. He could still hear the ringing even after he had pulled his hand away but it was less harsh. He brought the phone back to his ear. Bobby was already going on a full blow out.
"-is wrong with you, boy? What have you gotten yourself into this time? You were supposed to lie low."
"I am lying low!" Dean began to pace again, "The Archangel came to me."
"Came to you. What does she possibly want from you?"
"To help her find Gabriel."
"Gabriel? I thought he was dead."
"It doesn't look like it any more."
"What do you mean by that? No, don't answer. It doesn't matter. Boy, you listen here and you listen good. You tell that Archangel to shove it. You are no longer in the hunting business."
Dean stopped and dropped the phone to his chest. He knew what he was about to say next was going to make Bobby madder than he already was. Dean winced. Bobby was going to chew him out even more than he already was now. The old man's tirades always made him feel like a snot nosed teenager again. On some days Dean actually liked them. It was nice to have someone who cared enough about him that they were willing to take the time to beat some sense into him. But today was not one of those days. Dean raised the phone again.
"I already said, "yes," Bobby. Look, Cas is acting weird. I think he's hiding something about Sam."
"Cas? Why would he be hiding anything from you?"
"That's what I want to know. If he knows something that can get Sam out-"
"Dean, no. Remember your promise to Sam."
A red flush burned in Dean's cheeks. There were way too many people today telling him what he could and could not do. "I don't care. That was a stupid promise anyway. Besides, I may have promised Sammy but I didn't promise Adam. So, say I am really doing this for Adam if that helps you sleep at night. And if Sam happens to return to Earth because of this action, bonus."
"Dean Winchester, you are not-"
Dean hung up. He slipped his phone in his jeans pocket. "I'm really sorry, Bobby," he said out loud. "But it's Sam."
Bobby slammed his phone down on his desk. "God dammit!" He grabbed a book and threw it across the room. It hit the kitchen stove and dropped to the floor. "Dean has gotten himself mixed up with some Angel crap now. And why? Because he thinks if he does what they want he can bring you back from Hell."
From across the desk, Sam closed the book he was reading. "That idiot."
RETURN TO CHAPTER ONE
GO TO CHAPTER THREE