Mark Petrie - Celestial
This is the theme music for a certain section of this chapter. Guess which. Lol.
"Trial By Fire"
"No luck," Dean said wearily as he and Sam walked into Missouri and Jesse's motel room. He and Sam had been scouring the town all day asking different store staff, shoppers and even vagrants if they had any idea of Missouri's whereabouts. They'd even checked the small hospital to see if any new patients matched her description. "See, this is why it pays to have GPS on your phone," Dean said in a `you should know better' tone. "I can't believe-"
Sam smacked him hard on the shoulder and Dean shut up. Jesse flipped his phone shut with an angry snap. After having tried using various locater spells all day (to no avail) he decided to try calling Missouri's phone once more as a last ditch effort. There was nothing else he could do and it felt better than doing nothing.
Bobby, Becky and Castiel had not yet returned from their canvassing of the town. Bobby and Becky were currently at the police station to file a missing person's report. It was Becky's idea. The more eyes and ears out there the better she had said. There were no new bodies in police custody that matched Missouri's, or so Bobby had rang and informed them. Castiel had taken the dogs out, having put them on the trail with scent from Missouri's blanket. He had not yet called back with news, good or bad.
Jesse seemed on the verge of panicking and was wearing tracks in the grungy motel carpet as he tried to think of what to do next. It was close to 6 p.m. and Missouri was still missing in action.
Sam walked over and steadied him in one place. "Dude, I think you should sit down and maybe have something to eat."
"How can you even think about food at a time like this?" Jesse asked with an incredulous look on his face.
"You'd be surprised," Dean said under his breath.
"Missouri could be -" Jesse continued.
"All the more reason to eat," Sam interrupted him, choosing to ignore Dean. "If shit's about the hit the fan we need to be energized and ready to roll at a moment's notice."
Jesse sighed but took a seat at the small table in the corner of the room and accepted the submarine sandwich Sam had thoughtfully brought along. Just as he was about to sink his teeth into it...
RING! RING! RING!
It was his phone. Upon flipping it open the caller ID revealed Missouri's number and picture flashing on the screen.
"It's her!" Jesse announced, which quickly drew Sam and Dean to his side. Jesse turned the speaker phone on for their benefit. "Hello, Missouri?" he said quickly, answering the phone. There was no immediate response. "Hello?"
After an awkward pause a suave male voice answered.
"She's a little indisposed at the moment," the man said. "Care to leave a message?"
"Who the hell are you?" Jesse demanded. "And what have you done to Missouri?"
The man laughed. "You're certainly not one for proper phone etiquette are you?"
The unsavory language Jesse spewed into his mouthpiece served only to drive the stranger's point home. Dean, appreciating the fact that Jesse was acting too emotionally, snatched the phone away. The boy protested but Sam silenced him with a look.
"Alright, Chachi, I've watched enough low budget TV movies to know how this works. So let's cut the bull-crapping around the bush," Dean said tightly, all the while trying to control his quip-ready tongue (owing to the stranger's annoying British accent). "Why don't you just tell us what you want and when and where the trade's going down."
The silence that resulted from this statement of Dean lasted a full thirty (disturbing) seconds before the man responded in an obviously restrained (and somewhat less refined) voice.
"Speak to your little blond friend," he said. "She has some items that belong to me. Specifically, some documents which I expect delivered at the fountain in the town square. In two hours. And I expect all copies of the same. And if she tries to hide any...believe me. I'll know."
There was a beep as the mysterious stranger cut the connection.
Dean's visage darkened. "Becky..."
"I swear I don't know anything about any...whoever!" Becky insisted/whined. "And I don't think I was followed.
Dean scoffed. "It's obvious you were."
As soon as Missouri's kidnapper hung up, Bobby, Becky and Castiel were phoned and told to rendezvous back at the motel to formulate a course of action. Which they were currently in the middle of.
Sam interjected, hoping to forestall a full scale argument between Becky and his brother. "Becky, it might just be possible that not only is Chuck being watched...but you too. You are his number one fan and probably know his work better than anyone else out there."
"He reached out to you before," Castiel reminded her. "To try and warn Sam and Dean. They would be foolish to just write you off. So to speak."
It took a moment for that to register upon Becky. "Me...me being watched?" Her eyes glazed over as it struck her that she might be of some importance in the whole Apocalypse drama after all.
"What if it's not an angel?" Becky asked. "Suppose it's a demon."
"It's probably an angel," Bobby said to that. "He did say it was his property."
Sam glanced at Becky and said commandingly, "Becky, get those papers."
"But, Sam..." she trailed off (surprising everyone when she didn't immediately do what Sam ordered).
Jesse shook his head. "But nothing. Get them now."
Becky made to do as she was told but was stopped by Bobby. "Whatever is in those papers must be damned important," Bobby said. "We should have a read through them quickly before we hand them over."
"He said if we made copies he'd know," Sam reminded Bobby. "It was part of the deal."
Bobby shook his hands dismissively. "We're not going to make any tangible copies. Besides, they must have figured we'd at least take a look see. Fetch `em, girl."
Becky nodded and the said papers were fetched and quickly spread out upon the table. Everyone's faces screwed up at the sight of Chuck's handwriting. No one present could make heads or tails of it. Chuck also seemed to have a habit of making sketches of the various sigils and seals he saw in his visions. There were quite a few annotated Enochian cloaking sigils (among others) drawn in the margins. It would explain why the angels had not been able to find the stolen papers themselves and needed to resort to extortion to retrieve them.
"What the hell?" Dean asked, turning a page upside down and side to side. "Is this thing even in English?"
Becky shrugged. "I can make out a few words here and there so it has to be. But nothing solid."
Sam looked at her and she shrunk under his cool gaze. "Do you mean to say you were blackmailing us with the promise of information when you didn't even -"
"I was in the process of deciphering his hieroglyphics!" Becky said defensively. "In time I'm sure I can figure it all out. Look, that's a `T' and this is a `Y'...actually, wait, that might be a `T' too..."
"No wonder you thought I was a `Josh'," Jesse said as he pored over the scribblings. "You couldn't even read this right. Far less interpret. None of us can."
Sam scratched his head. "I guess now we know why they still want `em back. Because they know we couldn't have made sense of these notes in the short time we had them. The secrets are still safe. Otherwise they wouldn't have bothered to ask for `em back and might have just tried to kill us. Or wipe our minds clean."
Becky frowned. "Such a damn shame after all the trouble I went through to get these."
"Enough, Becky. Gather them up," Jesse said and got to his feet. With a beckoning motion of his wrist the Sefer came flying across the room to his hands. "We'll give it back to them. But I'm not trusting those sons of bitches to just hand her over like good sports."
At that Jesse unclasped the bindings on the book and began turning pages furiously. Finally his fingers settled upon a richly illustrated and colored set of pages. They depicted an ornate longsword with a bejeweled hilt. As Jesse laid his fingers upon the image his fingertips took on an ethereal glow.
The surface of the page shimmered and rippled as if it were a pool of water disturbed by a strong breeze. With a sudden plunging motion Jesse slipped his arm into the book's pages and fished around inside as if it were a duffel bag. Everyone's eyes (except Castiel's) widened.
"Ugh," Jesse grunted as he finally withdrew his arm and brandished the sword. The page's coloring swiftly faded and the image was now merely an outline.
Castiel stepped forward and the scrutinized the blade and the ruby and sapphire encrusted hilt carefully. "This is Raziel's sword," he informed Bobby and the Winchesters. "When he was exiled from Heaven his weapon was locked away in the armory. It was subsequently stolen and has been long lost. Along with several other weapons."
"Consider it found. Raziel still has some friends in high places," was Jesse's reply. "This baby can put down any celestial being short of an archangel."
Castiel's curiosity got the better of him. "Why does he not carry his own sword?"
Jesse sighed. "I'm not sure how Heaven handles `top secret' information but... His true vessel was killed some decades ago. He's forced to move from host to host now whenever he has to get hands on. He leaves them before the physiological and mental strain damages them permanently. It's the main reason why he's not helping us fight more directly. And why he entrusted his sword to the Sefer." He waved his hand over the Sefer and it camouflaged itself once more, vanishing completely from sight. "Let's get a move on."
"You better sit this one out, Bobby," Sam said, and then realized how insensitive that must have sounded. "I...er...I mean..."
"It's...fine," Bobby said, keeping his voice even, and avoiding his eyes. "Someone has to stay and watch out for Becky in any case."
"G-good luck!" Becky said as optimistically as she could.
Not wasting any more time Sam, Dean, Castiel and Jesse headed out the door...
"Okay, this is weird," Sam said as they all exited the Impala.
At first they had thought it was a traffic jam. And so they waited for five minutes. The lineup of cars ahead of them remained stationary. Then it occurred to them that it was also the quietest traffic jam they had ever been in. There was not so much as a single honk. The biggest giveaway was the fact that the traffic lights turned green and no cars seemed ready to move anytime soon. So Dean pulled aside and parked the Impala and they began to walk the rest of the way to the town square.
"Everything is...frozen," Sam said as they rounded a corner and came upon the main street. "And everyone." Pedestrians and drivers stood or sat motionless, some in mid-step. Even a stray dog was caught mid-pee at a fire hydrant.
Jesse frowned. "Temporal stasis. Our guy is definitely in the big leagues."
Castiel's grim facial expression grew even more dire. "Only a Seraph or higher ranking angel could arrest temporal flow to such an extent."
The first thought that popped into Dean's mind was Zachariah. "I hope to God it ain't that mother," he said through gritted teeth. "It didn't sound like him. But then he could be in a new vessel. I know I wouldn't wanna be stuck in the meat suit he usually wears," Dean continued, distaste evident in his voice.
After a few minutes of brisk walking they arrived at their destination and stood across the street from the town square.
Sam turned to Castiel, a worried look on his face. "Maybe you should wait here," Sam suggested. "Might not be wise to let them see you unless it's absolutely necessary. With you being exiled and branded a traitor and all."
Castiel shook his head. "It could be some kind of trap. You could be grossly outnumbered."
"So stay here, keep a low profile and lend me your sword," Dean said, a glint coming to his eye.
The angel frowned. "Just as soon as you lend me the Impala." Dean merely looked away and said nothing. Castiel then turned his attention to Jesse. "By the same measure walking in there with a stolen weapon would not be wise."
Jesse's response was, "That sword of yours can kill a Seraphim. But can you be one hundred percent certain that your run of the mill angel blade can kill a higher ranking angel? Hashmallim, Erelim, Ophanim?"
Castiel shook his head in the negative.
"Thought so," Jesse went on. "If things go south then we need this sword and since I'm the only one here who can touch it..." He paused a moment and made a few passes in the air with his fingers. The sword faded from sight just as the Sefer did earlier. "Better?"
"I don't see why we don't just banish the SOB," Dean said. "And make a run for it. With the right sigils he won't be able to -"
"A - he probably will drag Missouri along if we do," Jesse answered. "B - he'll be back soon enough. And C - He probably might be pissed off and do something to hurt her."
Since neither Castiel nor Jesse agreed to wait behind they all crossed the road and entered the promenade that constituted the town center. In the distance they could make out the large fountain where they were to make the exchange. The place itself was completely devoid of people. Which was good from a casualty standpoint.
"Took you long enough," a male voice said as they approached the playing fountain. A male figure stepped into view from behind the cascading torrents of water. He was in his late twenties at the most and was attired in a smart, black, business suit. At his side was Missouri. She appeared unharmed.
"You okay, Missouri?" Jesse asked, not taking his eyes off her captor.
She nodded. "For the time being, yes."
"Recognize him?" Dean whispered to Cass.
Castiel nodded stiffly. "Yes. It's ppffffft."
Sam, Dean and Jesse turned and regarded him with more than a little surprise. This was not the time for insulting jokes. Especially when the enemy had one of their own in his mercy.
"Cass?" Sam asked, clearly concerned.
The angel's face was set with determination. "It's ppppbbbbbt," he said, trying again and succeeding only in making the sound of a deflating whoopee cushion.
Missouri's captor smiled. "Excuse you."
"It would appear that the human vocal apparatus is not equipped to pronounce his name," Castiel quickly explained to his companions.
"You may address me by my vessel's name," the man said. "Aaron will suffice. Nice to see you too, Castiel. I must say that you do look somewhat worse for wear."
Castiel reached inside his torn and ruffled trench coat and pulled out his sword.
"Oh relax," Aaron said, waving his hand dismissively, a false smile pasted onto his handsome face. "I'm not going to kill you. Unless you get in my way of course."
"Why do I have a hard time believing that?" Dean interjected, unable to keep silent any longer.
"Do you ever wonder why we simply exiled you, Castiel?" Aaron asked Cass, ignoring Dean for the time being. "Why we simply didn't execute you for your treachery?"
"Because God himself resurrected me," Castiel said with firm conviction.
Aaron laughed, a bitter, painful sound that almost made them feel sorry for him. "God indeed."
"If not God, then who?" Sam asked earnestly.
"Archangels have the power to resurrect lower ranking celestials," Aaron answered. "Granted, Michael and Raphael would never have done it. Which leaves Gabriel, though he's long been missing in action, and...Lucifer. Take your pick. Have you switched sides, brother? You'd best be careful, boys. Or Castiel may stab you in the back just as he did to us."
Sam and Jesse glanced at Castiel and saw he was just as surprised at the revelation as they were. Castiel, however, said nothing in reply to Aaron's accusation. It was obviously a pitiful attempt to sow the seeds of mistrust.
Dean kept his eyes locked with Aaron's. "I choose to believe it was God," he said. "And even if it wasn't I'd rather take my chances with him than join you sorry sons of bitches."
"Faith, misplaced though it is...how touching." Aaron's face twisted into a mask of awe. "But I digress. The reason we didn't kill you outright, Castiel, was to give you the opportunity to suffer the same fate as humanity when Armageddon finally comes to pass. And it will come to pass. As it is written..." Aaron extended his hand. "The documents please."
Dean reached into his jacket and pulled out the stack of papers. "Missouri first."
Aaron shook his head. "I don't think you're in much of a position to be making demands." With a flick of his wrist an unseen force pulled the stack of papers out of Dean's hand and into his own. "Hmm, let's see..." Aaron trailed off as his eyes took on a fierce white glow. "Good. There aren't any additional copies. I've got to hand it to that girl. She managed to give us the slip." The papers promptly burst into flames and were no more.
Sam's eyes widened. "So you were following her!"
"Well of course," Aaron said in a deprecatingly nasty tone. "She knows the mental and creative workings of the prophet better than anyone else on this mud ball. She's special and deserves watching closely."
"I'm surprised you'd let a security risk like her go running around wherever she pleases like that," Jesse said with cocked eyebrow.
"What do you suggest we do? Kill her?" Aaron asked, then gasped melodramatically. "We're not the monsters you take us for. No. We placed a shroud upon her to keep demons...or anyone else from tracking her or stealing information from her thoughts and dreams and such. We kind of like the girl. At least she goes with the flow and doesn't seek to defy the prophecies. You could learn a thing or two from her. If you humans would just do as you're told everyone would be much better off."
"It figures you'd love a fanatic." Dean let out an angry breath. "It's called free will, buddy. If you got a problem with it then take it up with your daddy. Now, you've got what you wanted so give us Missouri."
Missouri took a tentative step forward. "Well I guess I'll just be taking my leave. Now that your business is all done."
"Not so fast," Aaron said warningly, stopping her in her tracks. His eyes flared even brighter. "I demand one further concession."
Dean shook his fist. "A deal's a deal! Even demons keep their word."
"Demons also force possession upon humans, which we don't." Aaron said, looking throughly offended at the comparison. "I said I'd release the woman into your custody when what belongs to me is returned." He turned towards Jesse. "You, boy. You're hiding something."
"Nuh, uh!" Jesse spluttered in surprise and tightened his grip on his invisible weapon.
Aaron frowned. "Ugh! I've had it up to here with you lying, cheating humans! Reveal!" He snapped his fingers and the invisibility spell masking Raziel's sword promptly dissolved. "That...that sword!" Aaron executed the same flick of his wrist as before. The sword remained firmly in Jesse's hand.
"I'm afraid that won't work this time," Jesse said with a shake of his head.
Aaron was positively fuming. He turned to Missouri, "And I'm afraid there's a slight change of plans, lady."
She swallowed a lump and said nothing, but merely wiped the beads of sweat from her brow.
"Return the sword to me this instant or face the full wrath of -" Aaron began, but was interrupted by Jesse.
"Okay, okay," Jesse said in a slightly shaky voice. "Just don't hurt Missouri." He whispered under his breath to the others, "Just go along with this and prepare yourselves for anything."
Aaron was smirking confidently. "Now there's a smart lad. Approach and no funny business."
Jesse slowly walked towards the angel making sure to keep the point of the blade facing downward to the ground.
"Ah, ah, ah. That's close enough," Aaron said, stopping him. "Drop it and kick it over to me."
Jesse did as he was told, dropping the sword with a clang. He made sure to hesitate before he kicked it in order to make the ruse that much more convincing. It slid across the concreted ground and stopped just short of Aaron's feet. He was positively salivating at the sight of the exquisite weapon.
"As I thought. It is Raziel's sword. Which can only mean you are one of his minions," he said, venom dripping off every word. "You lot are like rats. No matter how much we kill there's always more of you." He knelt to pick up the sword.
Jesse eyed Missouri meaningfully. She gave an almost imperceptible nod.
Aaron picked up the sword and said with glee, "I think I'm going to be up for a promotion once I get this back to the vault. After I deal with you of course. If you have any last words or wishes I advise you to- " The ruby and sapphires embedded in the hilt suddenly burst into crimson and azure flames. They crackled down the length of the blade and, more importantly, up the hilt and arm of the angel holding the sword. He screamed in pain as the coils of living fire seared his flesh. In an explosion of light he was flung backwards a good twenty feet and landed in a smoking pile.
Missouri seized her chance and made a run for it.
"Get her to safety," Dean ordered Sam. He nodded and exited the scene with Missouri, making a beeline for the Impala.
Jesse beckoned with his hand and the sword promptly flew back into his grasp. By this time Aaron had somewhat recovered and got back onto his feet.
"Raziel's sword," Aaron said, grimacing a little in pain. "You have profaned it with your impure human touch."
Castiel stepped forward, his own blade at the ready. "You may want to step back, Dean."
Dean held his ground and drew his gun. He knew full well it wouldn't do serious damage to Aaron. But Aaron appeared to be weakened considerably (as evidenced by the fact that the burns inflicted by the sword were not healing). Dean figured his distraction could prove useful to Castiel and Jesse as they maneuvered for a kill.
"You will be purified..." Aaron said raising his now flaming hands. "By fire." Shadowy tendrils materialized around him and quickly took the form of six wings. Without warning Aaron leapt into the air, fully extended his wings and hovered above their heads, beyond the reach of their swords. "Die, defiler!" Aaron thundered, launching a fearsome globe of red and orange fire at Jesse.
Jesse lunged out of the way and managed to dodge it. It flew past him to collide with one of the numerous trees that were planted along the promenade. The said tree exploded into burning fragments and ash which rained down upon Castiel and Dean. Aside from a few singed hairs and clothing, they escaped major harm. All three dove for cover behind a grotesque, but large, modern art sculpture of a pregnant woman.
"What a fucking coward," Dean grumbled. "Flying up over our heads like that."
Castiel had news for him. "In his weakened state he won't be able to sustain it for long. We need to wear him down. And once he tires and falls, we close in."
Castiel's words bore the ring of truth. After his first massive strike Aaron merely hovered and appeared to be suspended somewhat lower that he was previously. Indeed, judging by the arcane gestures he was making, it appeared he was trying to build energy for his next magical attack.
"Six wings. A Seraphim," Jesse said, glancing at Castiel. "Your sword can kill him. A Seraphim's attack of choice is with celestial fire. We need to mitigate his damage potential or we'll never get close enough to kill him."
Dean peeked out from behind the sculpture and fired a hail of shots. All hit their mark and Aaron visibly staggered in midair. Several seconds later a concentrated stream of high intensity flames exploded against the metal sculpture (which thankfully bore the brunt of the attacks well).
"You got any ideas?" Dean asked, as he patted out some stray sparks that landed on his jeans.
Jesse nodded. "As a matter of fact, yes. Castiel, head off that way and draw his attention," Jesse said, indicating the far left of the square.
Castiel nodded and rushed off. Aaron's fiery assault was immediate. Castiel dodged bolt after bolt of fire until he was finally hit in the back and fell.
"Cass!" Dean shouted, then left the cover of the statue. He fired continuously at Aaron as he closed distance with Castiel's prone form. He succeeded in stunning the Seraph temporarily and quickly dragged Castiel into the cover of some shrubbery, stripping the charred and smoking trench coat off him as he did so. "Shit!" he swore when he saw the burned, raw flesh on Castiel's back.
Castiel's face was a contorted mask of pain. "I'm...I'm okay," he said in as brave a tone as Dean had ever heard.
"Atta boy," Dean responded encouragingly, then peered through the bushes.
Aaron hovered even lower now and a was within a sword's reach if the wielder could manage a decent jump. Cass was out of commission so it was up to Dean and Jesse. Where did he go? Dean wondered.
Dean turned to Castiel. "Gimme your sword."
"I dropped it," was the angel's reply.
Dean swore under his breath. Just then everyone's attention was commandeered by Jesse.
"Hey, over here you big flamer!" Jesse's voice could be heard shouting from across the square.
Aaron turned his attention back to his primary target. Jesse was currently standing in the large pool into which the fountain's water ran. He was thoroughly drenched and, therefore, well protected from Aaron's flames. He appeared to have dropped Raziel's sword and instead had both his hands extended with the little fingers touching his thumbs and the middle three fingers held up straight. The gems on his pendant and bracelets were by then gleaming.
"Your base magics will not avail you, sorcerer," Aaron said threateningly, the white glow returning to his eyes. The flames around his fists intensified.
Jesse stood firm in the face of the Seraph's advance. "Varunastra!" Jesse shouted, invoking the Vedic god of water. He swiftly raised his arms to the sky. The waters in the pool churned violently and launched themselves in a column at Aaron, knocking/washing him clear across the square.
While Aaron was incapacitated Jesse gestured wildly, directing torrent after torrent of water around the length and breadth of the square, soaking the area in order to decrease the damage the Seraph's flames could inflict. Another gesture of Jesse's resulted in several fire hydrants exploding, releasing geysers of water into the air and bringing about the effect of rain in the immediate area. In the meantime Dean took the opportunity to rush out of the bushes and look for Castiel's fallen blade.
Aaron was soon back on his feet but his angelic wings had faded into nothingness and he was again earthbound. "Clever," Aaron admitted, now realizing his flames were all but useless. "Won't make a lick of difference though." Aaron raised both arms and the concrete beneath him began to shake and crack. Three stone benches promptly tore themselves out of the ground and hurled themselves at Jesse.
Jesse waved his left arm in a dismissive manner and a wall of water rose up from the pool and deflected the incoming missiles. "Not feeling so hot now are you?" he asked with a sneer. "I've eaten vegetable curry that burned hotter and longer than you did."
Aaron gritted his teeth and summoned the entirety of what strength remained to him. Several large boulders from the nearby rock garden levitated, followed by heavy stone tables, garbage bins, lamp posts and even the decorative bricks that formed the pattern on the ground.
It was only when two cars parked across the street started shaking that Jesse realized he was in trouble. His eyes widened and he braced himself for the impending assault. It never came. Before Aaron could launch his final devastating strike, a zinging sound could be heard vibrating in the air followed by a dull crunch.
"Aaargh!" the Seraph screamed and looked down to discover an angelic blade protruding through his chest. He turned around only to see Dean's arm still partially extended from throwing Castiel's sword.
Dean was scowling. "That'll teach you to shoot someone in the back you wuss."
The suspended objects fell to the ground with a deafening crash and white light began to bleed from Aaron's mouth and eyes as he slumped to the ground lifeless. The scene around them was one of utter devastation. Dean stood motionless for several moments as the sheer magnitude of what he'd just done washed over him. He'd killed an angel. A Seraph no less.
"Dean!" Jesse shouted, snapping him out of his awestruck state. "We have to get out of here now! The temporal stasis. With him dead it's no doubt worn off," he warned.
"Right," Dean said, snapping to attention. He pulled the blade out of Aaron's back and ran to the bushes. "Gimme a hand with Cass."
"We have to get him to a hospital," Bobby said adamantly after he had a preliminary look at Castiel's back.
Castiel shook his head violently and tried to get off the bed. "No! No, I'll be fine."
"Take it easy," Dean said, steadying him. "Cass, your body is just as vulnerable as ours now. You need medical attention. This isn't going to heal overnight like it used to."
Becky had by then finished securing cling film to the angel's back with sticky tape. They were taking no chances with infection. "This is at least a second degree burn," she informed them. "It's going to leak fluid and electrolytes. He should be on IV fluid supplementation." Everyone looked at her oddly. She blushed. "Okay, so I watch a lot of Dr. Sexy M.D. I do have a life outside of Supernatural you know."
Dean adjusted the surprised (and not altogether unpleasant) expression on his face and turned to Jesse. "And there's nothing you can do?"
The boy sighed. "As I explained to Bobby when he asked last night...the ability to heal, no strings attached, is extremely rare. Only higher beings and those they bless possess it. The closest I can do is transfer the damage onto someone else and that...would count as some pretty dark ritual work. Bobby, I'm sure, knows this or he'd have done it himself by now. It would effectively be the same as cursing someone. And I don't think any of us can afford bad karma now of all times."
"Then we get him to a hospital straight away," Missouri said, taking command. "Sam, find out which hospital is nearest and if they have a decent burn unit."
Sam nodded and went to fetch his laptop.
"Dean, see if you can find a loose shirt or such for Castiel to wear," she continued. "Try going through Sam's things. Yours might be a tad too small."
"Hey!" Dean protested, but was swiftly silenced with a glare.
Jesse smiled a little teasingly. "Well, Dean. You have to admit. None of us guessed Cass was packing that kinda bod underneath that big old trench coat of his."
Dean's eyes raked over Castiel's well muscled form. Jesse was oh so correct. Cass was right on par with Sam's well chiseled body. Dean, however, said nothing but, "I'll go have a look see," and quickly left to go dig through Sam's clothing in the Impala.
Becky raised her hand as a schoolgirl would. "Is there anything else I can do to help?"
"Sure," Bobby said, looking in her direction. "We need to see about cloaking you from the angels. I'm thinking a tattoo might be best for the time being since Cass can't carve it into your ribs at present. I saw a body art place in town as we drove through. It's still early. They probably are still open."
"Good idea," Missouri said. "Probably smart not to wait until morning. Jesse?"
"I want you to come with us to the hospital," Missouri told him. "We can't exactly go about laying salt and drawing sigils and then leave them in plain sight for everyone to see. We'll need you to hide them."
"Sure thing," Jesse replied. "I'll just go change into some dry clothes," he continued, as he headed off to his own room.
"And your relationship to the patient is..." the attending nurse asked Dean (who was busy trying to get Cass to stop fidgeting with his hospital gown).
"He's my brother," Dean promptly answered, then slapped Castiel's wandering hand.
The nurse, who had a motherly air about her, asked, "Just for our records, Mr. Lennon, do you know precisely what form of mental impediment your brother's got?"
Dean's jaw dropped. "You think Ca-Cayce's...er...challenged?"
The nurse lowered her clipboard and said kindly in a soft voice, "It's kind of...obvious." She motioned with her pen. Castiel was playing with the pulse oximeter connected to his thumb, snapping it open and shut. He seemed mesmerized by the penetrating red glow shining through his fingernail.
"Cayce, stop that," Dean whispered and steadied the angel's offending hand yet again.
Castiel opened his mouth to protest but then remembered - Dean had told him that he would do all the talking. No doubt Castiel's muteness served to increase suspicion that he was mentally handicapped.
It occurred to Dean that perhaps an opportunity was presenting itself. It was only a matter of time before Castiel said or did something eccentric and maybe having the hospital staff assume he was `special' would be an effective cover. "To be honest," Dean said in his best Texas drawl imitation, "I ain't rightly sure. He's always been like this. Ever since..." here Dean paused for dramatic effect.
"Ever since what?"
"Ever since...the...the horse," Dean continued, artificially hitching his voice up in `distress'. "It was a stallion, Thunderbolt we called him...mating season..." Dean couldn't bear to go on. "We...we don't like to t-talk about it."
The nurse put down her clipboard and took Dean's hand. She squeezed it comfortingly. "Oh honey...I'm so sorry. We'll take extra special care of your brother."
Dean smiled. At least he could rest a little easier knowing that it would put a dampener on Cass' plans should he try to wander off and `escape'.
The nurse turned to Cass. His eyes were wide (in awe at Dean's powers of fabrication). "Poor thing looks traumatized," she whispered to Dean. "So sorry to make you discuss it in front of him." She directed her attention to Cass once more. "You're going to be just fine, okay?"
Cass nodded dumbly (while Dean winked behind the nurse's back).
"Aw, bless. He's so brave. Well, I have to see to the other patients," the nurse said, gathering her stationery and nurse's notes.
"Um, Nurse...Hagen," he began tentatively, "do you have any idea how long his stay might be? The A&E doc didn't say...or maybe he did and I missed it. I dunno..."
"Dr. Robinson will be along shortly," Nurse Hagen said. "But I've seen patients with similar burns stay for a couple weeks."
Dean sighed. "Thanks, Nurse Hagen."
"No problem. Bye, Cayce," she said, giving Castiel a cute little wave (which he returned in like manner). She giggled in amusement and then left the `brothers' alone.
As soon as she was out of sight, Castiel swung both legs over the side of the bed. "Dean, I cannot stay in here for two weeks. We don't know what Lucifer can accomplish in that time."
Dean hurriedly shut the door to prevent prying eyes and ears from eavesdropping. "Look, Cass, you don't have much choice. You need treatment. And if you try to leave, given your...mental condition...they will tie you to the bed. And trust me - not in the good way."
Castiel tilted his head in the manner he always did when confused. "There's a good way to be restrained in a bed?"
Dean chuckled nervously and looked away, unable to meet the angel's inquisitive eyes. It was always like that with Cass. Dirty jokes and innuendo he usually blurted out (after years of practice with Sam) usually left him feeling a little guilty when they slipped out unbidden when talking to Cass. He was an angel of the lord after all. "Look, it's not like we have any idea what Lucy's up to or where he is. And even if we did we don't have a way to stop him yet."
"What if a situation arises and -"
"Then Sam and I can take care of it," Dean interjected. "And Jesse can take care of your safety needs. Missouri and Bobby can stay to keep you company and watch out for ya too."
"I..." Castiel's voice faded as he realized Dean was right. He was not much good in his current state and would probably just put them in danger if he couldn't pull his weight. "Dean. My sword. I'm lending it to you so take good care of it. I hid it -"
"Under your mattress," Dean finished with a smirk. "Relax. I got this." He slapped Cass good-naturedly on the shoulder. "I'll be back in a bit. I need to check in with the billing department."
Castiel nodded and watched him go. "This sucks buttocks," he said with a pout.
To Be Continued...
Author's Notes: Once again, thanks for reading. Comments as usual can be emailed to me by clicking HERE!
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