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.
Disclaimer: Nope, still not Kripke. Wrong gender for the first part.
Dean could imagine India being the birthplace of color. Having lived all of his life knee deep in the gloomiest strangleholds the States had to offer, he knew every shade of grey that existed there. Blue-greys. Green-greys. Brown-greys. And his favorite; grey-greys.
But in India, here the world was saturated with hues. He had never seen the sky so blue. He felt like if he tried to touch it, the sky would dye his hand that color. The men and women around him, especially, the women, wrapped in their brilliant saris, looked like living, breathing creatures from an impressionist painting. As if they had strolled off a Van Gogh. Even the Dakshineswar Kali Temple with its warm cream colored walls and its terra cotta red roofs, was a drastic change to the faded brick and chipped paint buildings that Dean was used to.
Dean had to close his eyes because he could swear if he stared any longer his head would explode with over stimulation. He felt a tap on his shoulder. He opened his right eye to see Castiel uncomfortably up close and staring at him with mild curiosity.
Dean leaned back. Damn, even Cas' eyes are bluer here.
"What are you doing?" asked the Angel.
"This place is messing with my head, Cas. Not use to the technocolor lifestyle. You get me?"
Castiel narrowed his eyes and shook his head slowly. "No. I do not 'get you'."
"You two," Sariel snapped, "Quit your knitting circle and help me search here."
Dean leaned into Castiel's ear, "Your sister's a peach."
"I heard that."
The man smiled tightly. "I hoped you did." Dean rubbed his eyes and scanned the area around him. There was a flood of people coming and going as fast and as strong as any current. "Sar, how are we going to find Kali in this Human swarm? How do you know she is even here?"
Sariel craned her neck. "She's here because her worshippers are here. The bigger the crowd the more likely she is in the middle of it basking in the attention." She shot a dirty glance at Dean. "And don't call me 'Sar.'"
Dean pointed at Castiel and shrugged like it was nothing big to get upset over. "I call him 'Cas.'"
"Yeah, and that rhymes with 'ass.'"
Castiel blinked as the truth dawned on him. He had never realized it before. "It does rhyme with 'ass'. Dean."
"Don't start with me." Dean turned away from the Angel and went back to picking apart the crowd person by person. He swore by the number of women alone he would be at this for a month. "C'mon, there has to be a better way to find a god in a hoard of Humans other than just standing around and gawking at-wait." His eyes lit up. He could not believe it. His hand struck out in front of him, pointing. "There she is."
Castiel and Sariel turned to where Dean was gesturing to. There in the middle of a swirling crowd stood a woman in a navy blue three piece suit. In a mass of people wearing either traditional Indian clothing or loud and tacky tourist gear, she was the only one dressed in a tailored to the teeth business outfit with sensible pumps. She looked like a CEO from a Fortune 500 company. Especially since she had a metal clipboard and was writing numbers down on it.
"That's Kali?" asked Castiel.
Dean nodded. He could never forget her face or the headache she had given him in the Hotel and on the road. "That's her alright. Worst back seat driver ever."
"What is she doing?"
Sariel snorted. "Counting her worshippers, no doubt." She started towards the god. "Dean stay behind me. Castiel cover Dean's back. Kali gets pissy whenever someone interrupts her favorite past time."
Castiel grabbed Dean's right arm from the back and place his other hand on his shoulder. Dean hated being man handled but he knew when dealing with a god, any god, it was better to be safe than sorry. He had seen Kali's powers and while there were no match for Lucifer, Dean was sure that they could roast him Cajun style in a flash. He thought of Lisa and Ben for a second and realized that for the first time in he could not remember, he did not want to die. He wanted to live to see them again. The concept left him uneasy.
The two followed Sariel. The crowd parted for her without seemingly noticing her. Not one person looked her in the eye or acted startled as she in her Southern truck stop waitress outfit marched past them.
Is she putting a spell on them? thought Dean as he walked in her wake. Dean would have thought that at least a couple of men would glance to see her parading around in her tiny shorts. But no one did.
Sariel stopped a distance from Kali. She raised her arms and swung them out. The crowd lowered their heads and backed away. The Archangel was indeed doing a spell. She was trying to make sure no Human was in the path of Kali's grasp. The last thing she needed was for Humans to be ripped apart and for their blood to spill on the ground. Kali could used that blood to cast spells. Spells that could destroy the very Earth under their feet which meant that Sariel would have more work to do. Bad enough that she was slacking off on checking on the other sub-pockets to look for Gabriel. At least she could argue with upper management that this was a worthy cause. But if she went around tearing up the lands and causing new problems, someone was not going to be happy. In Heaven, when someone high up was not happy, everyone felt the brunt. She waved her arms again, only harder. People began to flee. There faces were still slack like bored cattle. She walked slowly again towards the god. Her every boot step clicked against the clay street.
Kali noticed her people running. She held down her clipboard and looked around trying to figure out where they were all going to. Turning around, she saw a tall, blond woman with a farmer's tan making a bee line to her as the people around her moved in the opposite direction. The expression on the woman's face was cold and stern like an oncoming tempest. Kali dropped her clipboard and frowned. Westerners meant trouble. Always trouble.
Sariel stopped. "Kali, Destroyer of Worlds and the Redeemer of the Universe, I demand an audience."
Kali bared her teeth. "Who are you to demand from me?" She spotted Dean behind Kali. "You."
Dean hesitated on the next step. He caught his breath. Two seconds on meeting the god again and she was already pissed at him. Always the damn ladies' man, aren't you? He swallowed the spit in his mouth. It went down hard in his throat like a spiked stone.
Sariel stepped in front of Kali's line of sight. She bared her own teeth. "Do not ignore me, god. It is I who demand from you."
"And, again, who are you?"
"The Archangel, Sariel. Destroyer of Armies, Guardian of Earth, Bringer of Death and Healer of Life. That's who."
A flash of fear swept across Kali's face as the memory of Lucifer shot across her mind. Then a blistering anger took its place and remained. "How dare you come here and command me." Flames formed at her fingers tips and licked up her arms.
Sariel threw back her shoulders, taking a fighting stance. The hairs on Dean's arms raised not out of fear but because of the growing electricity in the air. Dean looked around him. The crowds had moved at a distance away from the two beings but not enough for his liking. Those two start fighting, someone was going to get hurt or worse. The man dropped to his knees, breaking free of Castiel's grasp. He bolted across the street and stopped between the two of them. Standing amongst them he realized then that what he was doing was going to make his top ten list of idiot moves of a lifetime. Screw it. I am already here. He held his arms out blocking the two from each other. His hands were trembling but he tried to hide his panic by scowling.
"Stop it. No one is fighting. Not here. Not now!"
Kali threw a blazing hand around and seized Dean's right arm. The fire leaped from her and attacked him. Flames devoured his flesh, eating their way up to his shoulder.
Castiel appeared behind him and wrapped his arms around Dean's chest. The two vanished to the other side of the street. Dean shoved himself off of Castiel and dropped to ground. The fire raced across his chest like a virus. He rolled around trying to kill it. The flames swallowed up even more of him. Pain was strangling every nerve and shrieking in his face. His hands raked at his flesh. If he could not rid himself of the fire then he would rip off his own skin to stop it from gorging. His nails turned black with burnt skin and then red with the blood underneath.
He never stopped screaming.
Through the flame, Castiel seized Dean's shoulder, holding him still. With his other hand he placed three fingers, the thumb, index and the middle one on the man's forehead. The flames disappeared. Dean was made whole once more without scar.
Dean swept his hands over himself, checking that everything was in order. His clothes had even been mended. His breathing still remained labored as he climbed to his feet. He nodded a 'thank you' at Castiel. The Angel nodded back.
"Is he okay?" yelled Sariel as she looked over.
"Yes," answered Castiel.
Sariel smirked as she returned her glare at Kali. "Well, now that is out of the way."
A shiver went up Kali's spine. The twinkle in the Archangel's eyes spoke of something dark. The god threw back her own shoulders ready for anything.
Sariel struck out her hand in front of her. Kali's body jerked ram rod straight. The Archangel snapped her hand into a fist. The god's flames snuffed out. Without her fire she looked so ordinary in her no nonsense suit. Sariel threw her arm in the air. Up soared Kali as if she had been fired from a bow. She flew into the heavens until the sky around her was bloated and fat with clouds and the air was as thin as whispers. Sariel dropped to one knee and slammed her fist into the ground. The clay street cracked and collapsed under her touch. Kali came down right after, her skin lighting up with fire not from her will but from speed. She smashed into the street, creating a crater that rippled out, coming almost to Sariel's feet. The sound wave ran through the air and hit Dean square in the chest, knocking him back on his butt. He scrambled onto his feet as fast as he could wanting to see the damage that Sariel had did to Kali.
"Did she kill her?" Dean stood on his toes. "Did she kill Kali?"
Castiel shook his head. "No. Not hardly."
A column of blue fire erupted from the crater. It burned upwards for thirty feet before stopping. Four arms grew out of the flames. The bottom broke into two legs. The rest turned into the shape of a woman. The head took on Kali's form but had twisted into strange differences. Two tusks jutted up and out from her mouth. Her tongue lolled out. A third eye appeared in the center of her forehead right between her eyes. It sat sideways. Slowly, it opened and glared down at the Archangel. She let out a roar that made every piece of metal for blocks vibrate.
"Holy crap." Dean gasped as he stepped back behind Castiel. He looked around him and could not believe that no one else was seeing what he was seeing. But no one was. A couple, laughing, strolled past him. In any other moment, in any other place they were would have been mundane but here Dean found them maddening. He wanted to grab them, shake them and yell, "How can you not see this!"
Sariel tssked and rolled her eyes. Kali was always so damn dramatic. The Archangel held her head back taking in the entire god. "Oh, you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell you," she mocked in her best Palin.
Kali snorted in rage. She lifted her arms, ready to fight. Sariel snorted back. Her eyes became wide as her mouth gaped open. Light began to emit from the orifices.
Castiel grabbed Dean by the arm. "Turn your head and cover your ears. Now!"
Dean tried to push off the Angel but Castiel wrestled him to the ground. He shoved his hands over Dean's ears.
"What is it, Cas?" Dean struggled even harder. "What is she doing?"
"Sariel is about to leave her vessel and fight Kali in her Celestial form."
Another couple walked past Dean. They were pushing a carriage. If Sariel goes from Clark Kent to Superman, these people are going to get creamed. He shoved an elbow into Castiel's nose as hard as he could. Though there was no pain, the surprise of having an elbow smash into his nose made Castiel fall backward. Dean stumbled up to his feet and ran towards the supernatural beings. He had to stop the fight. He had to. Castiel appeared before him blocking his way.
"Not now." He threw a hard right going for Castiel's nose again.
The Angel caught his hand in mid-flight. "I can not let you be harmed. I promised them."
"I know, I know. I am under Heaven's Watch." He blinked realizing what Castiel had actually said. "Wait, 'them'? What do you mean by 'them'?"
Letting go, Castiel's eyes went wide with guilt. He was the kid whose hand was caught in the cookie jar. His mouth fell open but nothing came out.
As much as Dean wanted to give the Angel the third degree, he did not have time for it. He spun on his foot and bolted towards Kali and Sariel. Castiel appeared in front of him again but Dean was ready. He hunkered down low and blew his shoulder into the Angel's stomach, sending him flying sideways. Castiel was not prepared for such an attack. He hit the ground hard. Dean plowed on.
"Sariel," he screamed, "Don't do it . You can't. These people will die if you do."
The Archangel shut her eyes and mouth close. She opened her eyes again and blinked. They were normal. Dean ran up and grabbed her by the shoulders. He panted, gasping for air. It had been a while since he had ran that fast. It had been a while since he had any reason to.
"Please, don't." He swallowed the spit in his mouth and held his breath for a beat before speaking again. "They don't deserve it."
"These people are my worshippers," roared Kali behind him, "They deserve whatever I wish to give to them!"
Dean's fear snapped into anger. "Princess," he twisted around and pointed at the god, "Why don't you beautify the world and shut that trap of yours."
"How dare you!"
"Oh, I dare." Adrenaline flooded Dean's system. His heart knocked like a madman. "You see, the last time we crossed paths it was me saving your itty bitty butt. So, you owe me."
Kali snarled, "You only drove me to the airport. Gabriel was the one who save me."
"Then you owe him."
A sadness sparked in Kali's eyes before dying out an instant later. She clenched her teeth. "Gabriel is dead."
"That's up for debate."
The fire god vanished as if someone had doused the flame, leaving Kali's regular body standing alone in the crater. She looked minuscule in the massive hole. Her eyes became big and soft. "What?"
Dean gave a half weak smile. "Gabriel might be alive."
"He is alive," corrected Sariel with a growl. She glared at the god, "That's why we are here. To ask you about him."
Kali climbed out of the crater. Dean offered a hand to her in help. She took it. "I thought Lucifer killed Gabriel. Are you saying it was all a trick? Gabriel tricked me again?"
"No, he was dead," Dean turned to Sariel to see Castiel standing next to her. The man hid his start. Angels popping up was always going to wig him out. "Lucifer murdered his little brother without a doubt. But, again, he may be back."
"How do you even know that then?" Disbelief painted Kali. She was still weary of the Angel and the Archangel but somehow her doubt was less with Dean. Perhaps because he was Human and offered less of a threat to her.
"Lucifer went god ganking at the hotel, right? Like he made Odin buy the farm?"
"Yeah, well, Odin's back." Dean scratched the back of his neck, "Missy Archangel, here, found his drunk ass, eating apples."
"In Asgard," added Sariel. "And the rest of the gods' bodies as well as Gabriel's vessel are missing."
"Which means they could be back too."
"They were resurrected?" Kali stared at the ground as her mind whirled. She thought about all the gods in the hotel. The blood and gore on the wall and carpeting from their destroyed bodies. All of that had the possibility to be gone? And what about Loki? No, she corrected herself. Gabriel. He was always Gabriel. She hated Angels as much as she could possibly do so. But he was different. She gave his life for her. She snapped her head up. "Ganesha!"
Spinning around on her heel, She leaped over the crater. She landed on the other side as soft as a cat. Towards the temple, she sprinted. Her worshippers stood aside for her not understanding why they were doing so but simply did.
"Where is she going?" asked Dean.
Sariel grabbed his shoulder. "Move!"
Dean ran after Kali not sure why but with Sariel running ahead of him and Castiel at his rear, he knew that he could not pause to question. Kali stopped at the wall of her temple. She stepped back, eyeing it up and down until she found the spot that she needed. She slapped an open palm against the plaster. Blue fire erupted from the outline of her hand and scurried across the wall. The flames formed a rectangle and stayed steady. Kali jumped into the flame and disappeared.
"She opened a sub-pocket door?" asked Castiel.
"And we are going into that door!" Sariel leaped and soared into the fire. The door swallowed her whole.
Dean halted in his tracks. "Oh, hell no!" He turned around and laid a flat palm against Castiel's chest, giving him a distance. "I just got over being burned a few minutes ago. If you think I am going in-"
Castiel shoved Dean into the door, knocking both of them in. Dean landed hard on the ground but the thick carpet of grass cushioned the blow. Castiel fell on top of him. He rolled off the man and climbed to his feet. He held out his hand to Dean. Dean glared at the Angel and then at his hand. He took it. Pulled to his feet, he pushed a finger into Castiel's face, "Not cool."
"You were taking too long. I helped you out."
"Still not cool." Dean looked at the fire door behind Castiel. It was the only thing he recognized for the temple walls, the clay and stone streets, the constantly walking people, India, herself was gone. Instead, Dean found himself standing in a field surrounded by mountains that stretched up, yawning to the sky. An enormous lake snaked around their feet, separating each of them. Their colors were even brighter than their Indian counterparts. The sky seemed to scream its blue. The grass dared with its green. Even the mountains were bold in their snow capped gold. The aromas were even stronger. Dean smelled mint, ginger, garlic, cummin and other spices that no other Human had smelled before. His stomach growled. He slapped a hand over it, trying to shush it.
Then he noticed something odd. For all of the sensory overload, the place was quiet. Like the cold quiet that comes with a funeral.
"Where are we?" he asked.
"Meru." Sariel scanned the world around her, "A most holy of holy lands."
"And this," Kali added, "Is Ganesha's library."
Castiel and Dean turned around to see Kali gesturing in front of her. There, before her in a valley was a white marble open roofed building that Dean could not see the other side of. It stretched off into the vanishing horizon. Columns stood tall and proud around the building. Each wrapped in streaks of gold that shone like starlight in the sun. Between them grew a tree. Their branches were heavy and pregnant with fruit. Their trunks were thick and as solid as battlements. Dean doubted that the most powerful of hurricanes could even move a single branch. From the top looking down, he could see that inside the building held rows and rows of shelves. Each one spilling over with scrolls, papers and books. Every book that had ever been written, every poem that had ever been composed, every song lyric that had been created was held within those columns. A collection of knowledge worthy of the god of wisdom and literature.
Sam would wet himself over this place, thought Dean with a smirk.
Kali glanced over her shoulder back at the fire door. "Shiva had closed this section of Meru to everyone when Ganesha died. It was only to be open by Ganesha, himself, or his reincarnation." She smiled. Tears formed at the edges of her eyes. "He's back."
"But where in here?" Dean tried to see if he could spot an elephant down below like he had seen back at the hotel months before. He did not. "That's alot of ground to cover."
Not answering, Kali leaped up and flew towards the library.
Dean was aghast. "She can fly?"
Sariel narrowed her eyes in disgust. "Here, she can. And she is not leaving us behind."
She vanished and appeared a hundred yards down the field. Looking up at the sky, she tracked the god's trail and disappeared again only to reappear several hundred yards later right on Kali's tail.
Dean made a motion to run after Sariel only to have Castiel pull him back. The man spun around facing the Angel. "C'mon, they're ditching us!"
Castiel shook his head. "You need protection first."
"Protection? From who? Kali is going bye-bye and Ganesha is God knows where."
"You need protection from the Dakini." He held Dean still with one hand and bit into the thumb of his free hand.
Dean tried to wiggle loose from the Angel's grip as Castiel held up a bloody thumb. "Whoa, stop. What are you going to do with that? And what the hell is the Dakini?"
Castiel sighed. His face took on a tired mask of frustration. "Really, Dean, you should read more books. The Dakini are Kali's servants in this realm. They take on the appearance of beautiful women."
"And I need protection from that?"
"They eat Humans."
Dean heard chattering. His heart began to sink to his feet. He did not have to look to know what was there but he did anyway. Two women were walking across the field. Their bodies jerked and twitched as if Dean was watching them through a strobe light. Save for the gold jewerly that dripped from their necks, wrists, hips and ankles, they were naked. Normally, Dean loved a curvy, nude woman but these had their teeth bared. They were jagged as broken bottles and just as sharp. The women were clicking them and making noises that sounded like song birds. They were talking to each other. By the way they stared at him with wide unblinking eyes, by the way saliva was filling their mouths and spilling over their lips, they were talking about him.
Castiel grabbed Dean by the jaw and made the man face him. He smeared his thumb across Dean's forehead, writing a sigil. Then he laid his hands on the man, sealing the marking. A cold wave swam through Dean's veins. He heard a voice ring in his ears. Though he could not make out the words, he knew it was Castiel's voice.
Dean locked eyes with Castiel, "Did it work?"
The Angel placed a finger to his own lips.
A warm breath tickled Dean's right ear. The man wanted to jerk away but he kept his stare with Castiel. The look on the Angel's face read, Don't move.
One of the Dakini pressed her nose into Dean's hair and sniffed. She pulled back with a jerk and growled deeply like a dog. The other Dakini snaked up to Dean's cheek. She ran her tongue across his skin, tasting him. A second later she fell back, spitting on the ground. Her teeth began to chatter again. The other Dakini roared like lion. Dean bit his lip, trying to calm his nerves.
Dean's eyes drifted left and right, followed by his head. The Dakini were gone. He looked back at Castiel, "What did you do?"
The Angel raised his eyebrows. "The marking on your forehead masks your scent and taste with my own."
"Are you saying-?"
"You taste and smell like an Angel." He leaned in like he was sharing a secret with Dean. "We are not very appealing to the Dakini."
"Great," Dean rolled his eyes. "I am wearing Eu De Cas." He paused realizing what he had just said. How do I even know that phrase? Lisa was rubbing off on him more than he knew.
Castiel and Dean turned to see Sariel standing before them with her arms planted on her hips and her mouth twisted in a frown.
"Why are you standing arou-" She sniffed the air like she smelled something rotten and dying. Grabbing Dean by his jacket, she tugged his sleeve to her nose. "Why do you smell like Castiel?" She spotted the marking on Dean's forehead and raised an eyebrow.
"The Dakini," started Dean but Sariel waved him off.
She took Castiel's hand. "Bro, you need to wash that trench more than once in never."
The three vanished from the field and arrived in the middle of a congregation of aisles. Every millimeter of shelf space was crammed with books. For most of the books, Dean could not read the titles because they were not in English. But a few were. He reached for a copy of Good Omens when Sariel grabbed his hand.
"Don't mess with Ganesha's order."
Dean scanned the shelves. The place was chaos as books were shoved in each and every way. Some of the smaller novellas had actually been slipped in between the pages of larger novels. Dean shoved his hands into his pockets. This is order?
"Where's Kali?" asked Castiel.
Sariel scanned around her. "She was here a moment ago. I just popped out to get you, two." She cupped her hands around her mouth. "Kali!"
"I am here," a voice yelled back.
The Archangel followed the trail of the voice. Dean and Castiel stayed at her feet. They went through row after row of shelves, feeling like mice in a maze as they did so. Up ahead they saw the last stack of shelves. It gave way to a small field. The library's marble floors formed an open circle. Blades of grass grew over and rested on the tiles. Two trees with winding branches stood in the middle of the field. A massive wooden desk with ivory inlay rested in the crook between them. All around laid fruit and vegetables. A feast large enough to feed an empire. Every last piece was untouched. On the desk rested dozens of rolled scrolls. On either side of the desk, piled up high were their siblings. Too numerous to count.
Behind the desk, sitting on a small mountain of cushions sat Ganesha writing. Only he did not look the same as Dean had remembered. Gone was his rotund belly and soft, fleshy cheeks. He had lost almost all of his fat making his elbows and wrist bones knobby. His robe hung open allowing his chest to peek out. Dean could count the ribs leaning against his skin. Despite everyone gawking at him, Ganesha did not look up from his work. His quill scratched along the parchment, going back and forth like a perpetual typewriter.
"What happened to him?" asked Dean.
Kali hit the desk with her palm. "Ganesha."
The god did not stir. He lifted the quill and dipped it into the ink well. He resumed writing.
Again, Kali hit the desk only with her fist. "GANESHA!"
Ganesha remained tuned to his duty.
Spinning around, Kali grabbed Sariel by her throat and lifted the Archangel off the ground, "What have your kind done to him?"
"Let the Archangel go, Kalika."
Kali dropped Sariel and turned to the god at the desk. Ganesha was still writing. Only his eyes had lifted up from his works and caught his fellow god's eyes. "They have not harmed me. I sit here, merely doing what I was called back for. To write down my witnessing and I must finish it."
Leaning over the desk, Kali rested her head against Ganesha's hollowed cheek. She wanted to cry. Whether out of joy of having Ganesha back after seeing his butchered body in the hotel's hallway or out of sadness that he sat behind the desk weak and emanciated, she did not know. Such feelings were alien to her. Usually, anger, pride and lust filled her days. She stood up and took a scroll. She unrolled it. "And what have you witnessed?"
"A miracle. The resurrection of the gods."
Ganesha gestured towards Castiel and Sariel, "By their father."
Shocked, Sariel snatched up one of the scrolls from the ground. She unrolled it. The words were written in Tagalog but she could read them. She could read anything. Her eyes scanned the parchment for a moment. Her shoulders went slack with awe. "And lo! I heard the voice of God whisper upon my person," she began to translate, "and it did spake, "Rise up, for I have returned you from the darkness so that you may behold what I shall do. Take your quill and your ink and record all that gives birth here for that it may be known throughout the land and time."
The Archangel held the scroll against her chest. Her head was a storm of crashing thoughts. She turned to her brother who had the same confused and bewildered expression slapped across his face. "Castiel, do you know what this means?"
"Yes. I do."
Dean held his hand up, "I don't. In fact, I don't have a freakin' clue to what is going on at all."
"Ganesha," said Castiel, "is an Apostle."
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