"Cover me," Dean whispers as he pulls out a wire kit from his motorcycle saddlebag and follows Cas through the hole. Repairing it now means they’ll have to scale the fence on the way back but that’s a small price to pay for knowing that his family is safe. Besides he’ll never forget his roots of scaling fences and stealing stuff. This gave him a little thrill to be back at it, even if he really intends to hold Cas to getting back to the family life when it’s all over.
It doesn’t take long for Dean to repair the fence, it’s something that he’s gotten good at in the past couple of months. He nods and turns the scythe in his hands when Cas motions down the road. That’s what he recalls too, even though they only brought the kids once, very shortly before the shit hit the fan.
Dean lets Cas move ahead, following a few steps behind him and turning every couple of steps to make sure that nothing is behind him. They cannot go on smell alone, the whole city reeks of sulfur and decaying flesh. The scythe feels warm in his hands, like it’s leaking power to him. Some of his hits were lucky and he fears it will take over him. He squashes that thought with the idea that he’s always run on a fair bit of luck.
The two croats they see are children, fucking children, and go down easily with a swipe across the chest. Dean wants to burn the bodies and light incense but there’s not time for formalities right now. He gives Cas a pitiful look as he starts walking again. They’ve only been walking ten minutes and he had to kill two kids. Life wasn’t fair.
The kids must have not been alone because there’s screaming and the smell gets worse. Dean runs up behind Cas and grabs him by the elbow telling him to haul ass as he really starts moving. He looks over his shoulder and tries to count quickly.
"Fifteen, maybe more," he yells and then points to a rickety truck. They need a higher vantage point so Cas can take them out with the crossbow. He scrambles up onto the hood then turns to haul Cas up and boost him onto the bed cover. "Fuck," he grunts as he hoists himself up.
Castiel almost hesitates in the decision to kill the child croats. He knows it’s necessary and yet he still looks away as Dean kills them.It must be harder for dean though, knowing how much he loves children and with the knowledge of the ball of Grace developing inside of his mate.
"It’s alright," he murmurs as they continue walking, only to freeze at the sound of more croats coming. He curses and scrambles onto the truck and helps Dean up too.
"Y’know, first they’ll call their friends and then their friends will call their friends. This’ll be endless," he gripes and stabs the one behind Dean in the face. "They’re damn rude. Can’t they tell you’re already taken?"
He makes the jokes and wisecracks to keep his morale up, but he just wants to make the most of a bad situation. Thankfully, no more croats show up for the frenzy and they town down the fifteen present in a few minutes. Castiel makes sure to stab the ones he got with his bolt in the brain, just in case they’re not actually dead. Never hurts to double tap.
Castiel starts leading the way to the museum again and they make it in good time with no more croat encounters for the time being. They can’t escape the smell of rotting flesh though and it makes him feel nauseous.He has no choice but to push forward though and make his way into the museum. It’s easy finding the gift shop at least and he immediately starts searching for sizeable pieces of fulgurite.
"There might still be some useful stuff around here. We can take a look after I get the fulgurite."
Dean deflates as his hair is messed up instead of the kiss he was expecting. He ducks into the bathroom to straighten it with a little product then heads out after Cas, grabbing Stark’s vest as he goes. The punishments should have ended by now but maybe Cas is just being playful. It’s hard to tell with Cas sometimes.
"There’s a patio," he supplies as they head out of the lobby into the pleasant fall air. "Oh and I took Stark out while you were in the shower so he’s all taken care of."
He’s not sure what else to say because he still feels like he’s treading on eggshells around Cas. Dean just directs him with a smile in the direction of the restaurant. “I think some of the people I worked with used to really like this place,” he says casually. “It’s open all hours of the day so when they worked late shifts they’d go on the way home. Never invited me though, now I see why.”
Most of them had betrayed him or like Ben Braeden just stopped talking to him after the helicarrier incident. Dean’s not sure why but he’s too shy to go around asking why. Not something people know about him since most refuse to see through the bravado and the suit. Cas does, Cas always has, which is why Dean loves him even if he doesn’t always understand him.
It’s a nice walk and since Stark doesn’t have the vest on yet he’s stopping to sniff things and playfully catching up. When they get to the block of the restaurant Dean stoops to put the vest on the puppy then motions to an empty table on the patio. “Want to sit outside? It’s nice enough.”
"You probably wouldn’t have liked socializing with them anyways. The lot of them were bad. Not just HYDRA bad, but assholes," Cas speaks up as he walks alongside Dean. He looks up at him and bumps their shoulders playfully, smiling a little to let Dean know he’s not mad anymore. At least, not enough to skip out on a breakfast that would be much appreciated.
Looking back at Stark, Cas is glad at least one of them seems to be enjoying their walk. The puppy is curious and it’s cute. They pass by a few people who state as much at least.
"Yeah, patio seats sound good. Are you going to order for us? Or should I?" he asks as they grab a table and Stark walks under to lie down in the shade. "You think you hide it well, but your shyness is showing through. And you’re skittish."
Cas arches a brow, but smiles and pats Dean’s arm gently. ”Most of us think it’s cute. Don’t worry,” he reassures Dean while taking the water bottle and helping Stark get a quick drink.
They argue constantly about taking on the souls. Dean argues that if it ended so badly for Cas the first time then they shouldn’t risk it. All Cas has to do is say something about the new Grace and he drops it. At least for an hour or two until he brings up that he has the best chance with the connection he has to Michael.
Dean makes crossbow bolts for Cas and loads up on the ammunition they are not going to leave with Kevin. He wishes they had another crossbow or something else renewable like a bow. Arrows and bolts were made easily enough, even if he was going completely by trial and error.
"Don’t say that," Dean says sadly about Cas going insane. "Please don’t ever say that."
He still thinks he should, and will, be the one to do it. Ultimately Death will be the one to decide so he doesn’t say anything. Especially since he believes it will be him.
They run into Croats shortly after Linda’s compound and the protective barrier of the fence. Dean wonders if they can ditch the motorcycles and head down into the tunnels but he’s not sure where they start at this point. In the fray he doesn’t even go for his shotgun, jumping in immediately with Death’s scythe. It doesn’t matter if he cuts off their heads with it, all he has to do is graze the Croats with it and they disintegrate into ash.
Dean is feeling smug and satisfied as he helps get the crossbow bolts out of the heads of the still corporeal monsters and stab them with the scythe. “Man, I’m kinda hoping he’ll let me keep this thing.” He knows Death will not allow it, at least not without taking on all the responsibilities of carrying it.
Castiel huffs softly when he runs out of bolts, but he’s grateful that Dean’s helping him retrieve them. He gathers as many as he can and takes the rest from Dean, though he gives his mate a concerned look. ”Careful, Dean. That’s a powerful object. Don’t let it get to you,” he murmurs and slings the crossbow over his shoulder.
He pats himself down to make sure he still has his pistol and the angel blade before heading back to the motorcycle. At this point, it’s dangerous to use them, but it’s slow going to the city without them. He hops on and starts up the engine again. If they keep a wary eye on the road, they should be alright.
They make it to the city in good time, though they did have to stop to kill a small group of croats that had been lingering on the side of the road.
The city is abandoned, a fence surrounding it to keep the croats in. Not that it’s done much good with the hole torn into the chain link. They have to leave the motorcycle outside at this point and Castiel crawls through the hole.
There are no croats that he can immediately see, but he doesn’t allow himself to relax. ”If I remember right, museum should be that way,” he says, pointing down the road. ”We can make their in about half an hour if we don’t run into trouble.”
He flashes his mate a quick smile, but starts moving ahead, keeping his eyes and ears open with the stench of sulfur in the air.
While Cas is in the shower Dean gets dressed in his usual khakis and a button up then takes Stark down to relieve himself sniff around the grass. They’re back up as soon s Cas is coming out of the bathroom, naked and looking amazing as usual. Dean swallows and turns his attention to his phone so he’s not staring or getting horny.
"Okay, Mexican open for breakfast," he says and unplugs his phone from the charger. Cas is ranting and Dean just assumes this is his fault too. He makes a little triumphant noise and gets up to show Cas his phone, smiling widely.
"How about this, Chupacabra’s, whatever that is, they have good ratings and breakfast burritos." He’s trying to make Cas happy, so so hard. Including not making a face when Cas calls him Cap, which is probably punishment for the phenomenal ways he’s fucked up in the past twenty-four hours.
"Uh, the restaurant," Dean reiterates and makes a little movement with his phone but then thinks maybe Cas is talking about his clothes. "Maybe a shirt? Those jeans are great."
Mostly because they leave nothing to the imagination and Cas is fit. He gives his boyfriend a crooked smile and sits on the bed, waiting for him to decide what shirt to put on. “Chupacabra’s is close then we can walk or take the metro to the museum. What do you think?”
Cas raises an eyebrow as Dean shows him the phone, but he hums softly, intrigued by the suggestion. ”Sounds good,” he voices and drops the towel to the ground as he looks for a shirt. Something plain. Well, everything is plain. He doesn’t really like the logos and designs printed on a lot of the shirts these days.
He just throws on a white t-shirt and a cardigan over that. He looks a little more civilized today, less rebel, more fashionable. That’s what Charlie would say at least.
Dressed and knowing that he’s already impressed Dean, Cas moves over to the bed and looks down at Dean. He tucks a finger under his boyfriend’s chin and tilts his head back slowly. ”We can walks to the museum after breakfast. Stark would probably like the fresh air anyways. Just remember to bring a water bottle for him.”
Cas leans in close to Dean as if he were going to kiss him, but he steps back and messes up his hair, acting as if nothing had happened.
"Come on, let’s go before our stomachs declare war." Cas takes Stark’s leash and gives his puppy and affectionate scratch behind the ears before he straightens and heads out of the room. He makes it down to the lobby and out the front door before he looks to Dean for directions.
Even though Kevin is practically grown Dean’s mood brightens considerably with another kid in the house. And the way Ike and Robbie have taken to Kevin is just icing on the cake. They’ll make great older brothers one day, hopefully to the little Grace he’s harboring now. He’s trying not to be too optimistic in case none of this works out but if it does Cas and him are filling this house with children.
The garden flourishes and he sets up a little sniping tent on the roof by the plants so he can wait for a pig to come across the path. It only happens once more in those weeks since Kevin came to stay with them but they have a feast of kale and bacon and he even breaks out one of the bottles of wine they have stashed in storage.
Dean has taken the boys out on the boat for fishing and swimming, and is carrying them up for a nap when he hears the crash and Kevin mumbling something. He hurries to put the boys down in their beds and then rushes to Kevin’s room. The prophet is laying on his back in the upturned chair, mumbling and shaking.
"CAS!" He’s not sure what Cas can do but being an older and, in Dean’s opinion, better, angel, Dean figures he’s the one to consult about prophet convulsions. Before Cas can even get up to the room though Kevin has stopped and is motioning for Dean to help him get him upright. As soon as he’s in the chair and at the desk Kevin picks up the pen and starts scrawling furiously.
The message is short. They have less than a week to get Death to rally his reapers and coral the souls. Which either Dean or Cas have to absorb to get them into Heaven and replace with their Grace. It doesn’t say how to open Heaven for the rest of the angels or how easy it’s going to be to get their Grace back.
"Wow, so that is not at all helpful," Dean says as he looks at the piece of paper on Kevin’s desk. He looks over at Cas for guidance. "So we need that lightening glass stuff, right? To call Death? Or do you think he’ll show up, since I’m his favorite?"
Castiel is tuning up the truck, making sure it’s in peak shape in case they need it for anymore supply runs. But he stops at the sound of Dean calling his name and gets back into the house as quickly as he can. He pinpoints Dean’s location to Kevin’s room and slows down as he sees that they’re ok.
"New vision?" he asks as he approaches carefully and watches Kevin writing so furiously. It’s a sight to see, but the message communicated is vague at best.
After reading the message over again, he frowns but he thinks he has an idea of what to do. ”I can take the souls. I’ve done it before. At least human souls will be easier to choke down than monsters.” Castiel wings ruffle a little, but he otherwise looks calm. ”And if there are as many souls as I think there are, forcing open the pearly gates shouldn’t be too much of a problem, even for a de-juiced angel.”
He looks to his mate and nods. ”Fulgurite will be necessary for the summoning. As much as Death likes you, even your bond won’t be able to call him from his realm,” he says with a little smirk and then frowns.
"Museums would probably have it. Tourists love to buy local rocks and crystals from the gift shops," he mumbles and walks out of the room, trying to remember where the closest museum is. Of course, it’s in the city and it’ll be dangerous. Croats will be everywhere and who knows if they’ll even make it?
They need to though. For their boys and for Linda and Kevin and the orphans. For everyone. If they don’t succeed, who else could even stand a chance as succeeding?
"I’ll probably go insane. That power rush. It’d be too much for even the most disciplined."
Of course, they go anyways. Packed up and ready to go, he and Dean stop by Linda’s place, telling her their plan and asking her to grab the boys and Kevin if they don’t check in with her after two days. And if she has to take them, she should feel free to their supplies.
"Nothing coffee won’t fix," Dean says noncommittally and presses up off the bed, giving Cas a kiss on the way. He heads over to the coffee service on the minibar and drops the pod in the coffee maker. A normal person would need a lot more than this to make up for it, but his body will make up for the lack of sleep eventually. Maybe. Dean finds that when he’s emotionally exhausted, like now, neither serum nor caffeine do much to help.
While the coffee is brewing he gets Stark a scoop of his food and puts down a bowl with water for him to drink out of. “Spoiled little guy sleeps on fine pillows and ate a national hero’s steak,” he teases though now he’s paying for his lack of real food last night with a tired body and a growling stomach.
He takes the mug from the coffee maker and goes to take a shower, thinking it’s better to give Cas his space right now. Not only did Dean piss him off last night, there is no telling how he was going to react to what he saw in the museum today.
After he’s done with the three Ss he heads back into the main room to get dressed. “I’m going to need to grab something to eat on the way there,” he requests, though it’s not really optional unless Cas wants to deal with a tired and cranky significant other all day. “Unless you’re into cranky guys,” he adds, trying to be funny.
The smell of coffee makes him wake up a little more, but he knows it’s for Dean and is willing to make his own. As long as he’s not stuck with decaf.
He flops back onto the bed with a sigh, listening to the sound of Stark eating his food and just staring up at the ceiling. Of course Dean would be the guy to put as much distance between himself and his annoyed boyfriend who more or less asked to be the little spoon last night.
Cas is annoyed again and not really in the mood for coffee anymore. But he does move closer to the edge of the bed and let his arm hang over the side so that he can pet Stark. Petting the fuzzy ball of love always makes him feel better, though never completely.
"Fine by me. I need some breakfast too," he answers as he gets out of bed and heads straight to the bathroom for his morning routine.
Cas makes nothing fancy of it, just makes sure he’s clean and presentable by the time he’s coming out with a towel over his shoulders. And if he’s exposing himself to his boyfriend and dog alike while he looks for clothes to wear, well, he doesn’t mind. The blinds are closed anyways, right?
"I was thinking we should spoil ourselves while on vacation. A breakfast burrito sounds pretty good right about now. Or maybe an all America breakfast. Bacon, eggs, the works. Just food in general would be good," he rants a little and is aware of it while he pulls up his boxers and pulls on the skinny jeans Charlie had suggested he bring. It hugs his ass, but they’re otherwise comfortable.
"Got any suggestions, Cap?" he asks, but doesn’t indicate whether he’s asking about breakfast or his clothes.
There’s a guest bedroom on the main second floor that no one has used in a long time that Dean shows Kevin to while Cas is getting lunch together. It’s next to the kids playroom but he can keep them occupied elsewhere while Kevin is trying to work. Most importantly, it’s the furthest distance from the master bedroom so they won’t scar him further.
For a while they dust the sparse furniture and get the bed made up with sheets. He finds some old printer paper shoved in one drawer for Kevin to use for notes and brings in the few texts he has from his book buying spree after he pissed Cas off that one time. It’s not the extensive library they had back in the states but it’s something.
The boys come up to spy, peeking their heads around the door jamb. With the bedroom being on the corner there are two windows so there is a good breeze coming in. Dean feels suddenly silly for not opening up this room before. Then he sees the boys and thinks he had shut it down because it was supposed to be another room for children. The house was huge and they had intended to fill it.
They pile downstairs when they can smell lunch and make conversation with Cas as he cooks. It’s a pleasant way to spend the afternoon despite being told of the tasks they have at hand. After lunch Kevin heads upstairs and the boys busy themselves with a puzzle on the floor. Dean takes Cas by the hand and pulls him to the couch so they can lay down and enjoy some quiet time together. They’ll need to go tend to the garden later but they can do that when the sun isn’t so high in the sky.
"I’m at peace with this," Dean says sleepily. "I’m not optimistic but I’m okay with whatever happens. At least we tried."
Lunch is a simple affair with servings of vegetables and pork as well as the fish they caught the other day. He’s grateful for the conversation though, wanting to at least put their earlier conversation out of mind for now. Killing Michael and Lucifer and expecting to get out of it without harm or dire consequences just sounds too good to be true.
Even weeks later, he’s still thankful for the pork to break up the monotony. Ike and Robbie seems to be too because they wolf down the pork with more vigor, but almost reluctantly eat the fish. They know better than to waste food when they’ve been on hard times for a while now.
After lunch, Castiel allows himself to be dragged to the couch, though he’s surprised by what Dean has to say. ”Not to rain on your parade, but from my own experience, I know this won’t end well. No matter how much we want it to, fairy tale endings just don’t exist.”
Castiel pets his fingers through Dean’s feathers and rights a crooked feather gently. ”You know I’ll support you regardless, but I’m afraid. For all we know, we could both die on this suicide mission and leave our boys orphans.” He sighs softly and holds Dean close. ”Or Michael could take over and I could lose you and our little ball of Grace.”
He gets his wings free from under him and curls them around Dean. ”Suppose we won’t know til we try though.”
Castiel presses a kiss to Dean’s hair and then lets his head fall back with a sigh. ”Let’s take a nap and we;l head tot he garden after we wake up.”
Like he said he would, Castiel falls asleep with his mate, wings falling relaxed to the floor, open and welcoming the breeze running across his feathers. But he wakes up to the sound of laughter and the annoyed groan of a teen.
Before his eyes are even opened, he’s smiling, imagining that the fledglings are attempting to play with Kevin. The sight his eyes see upon opening doesn’t disappoint him. Kevin’s on the ground with a pair of little angels sitting on top of him giggling.
"Don’t say that, Cas," Dean bleats out before Cas can even place the caveat on the statement that he’s not suicidal. He makes no effort to stop Cas from taking the rest of the wine, just drinks his glass quietly then stacks all their dirty dishes on the minibar for the maid service to get to. The statement that Cas just doesn’t want to be cold tonight isn’t missed and when Cas has flopped in the bed he goes to sit next to him.
"I crashed that jet because I didn’t want to live without you," he whispers as he strokes Cas’ hair, sitting sideways on the bed. "I went into every mission after I lost you hoping it was a suicide mission, completely ready to die because you were not here."
Dean leans over and kisses Cas’ forehead then gets up and gets out of his clothes. He hangs up or folds everything, including what Cas has shed around the room. When everything is tidied up he climbs in bed behind Cas and wraps himself around him, one more protection against the cold that is really only in Cas’ head. The room is being maintained at seventy-two degrees.
He doesn’t sleep that well. It’s hard when he knows that despite their efforts Cas and he are still struggling. They probably need to be seeing a PTSD therapist but neither wanted to even talk about it.
The alarm on his phone sounds much too early but he nudges Cas and kisses the back of his neck, finding that they’re still in the same position they went to sleep in. “Hey, sunshine,” he ways gently, “time to get up.”
He wants to be angry at Dean’s confessions. That he had purposely tried to get himself killed. But he can’t. Because he knows if he were in Dean’s shoes, he would have done the same.
Cas misses the hand in his hair, but he doesn’t voice his complaints and stays under the blanket. He does allow Dean to pull up the blanket so that he can get in though, but he pulls it around himself soon after. He also makes sure that Dean has enough blanket if he wants them. It’s his own way of apologizing without saying the words.
He curls back against Dean, still not entirely used to being the little spoon, but it’s comforting. Cas could probably get used to it, but he still prefers being the big spoon despite his lover’s enhanced size. But this doesn’t stop him from falling asleep so easily with Dean wrapped around him.
Tired eyes blink open slowly and Cas hums softly and he rolls over onto his back to look up at Dean. ”Hey yourself,” he greets and then turns his head away to yawn.
"Didn’t get much sleep?" he asks, seeing the bags under his eyes. He feels guilty, knowing that this was probably his fault, but what Dean had said last night hurt him even if he didn’t mean any harm. It’s just that he was disturbed by the thought of hunting down Dean. And he’d never forgive himself if he ever found out that subconsciously, he was doing just that and never even realized it.
He rolls out of bed and smiles at the sight of Stark curled up on top of a pillow. Apparently he had tossed him his spare sometime during the night, but it just makes him feel bad for not bringing Stark his own bed.
Dean squints a little and pulls perturbed face. “Babe, we’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. We could wind up dead any day of the week That we’ve survived this long is pretty much dumb luck.” He drops the look when Cas rests their foreheads together, hands still over the Grace beating against his skin.
"You’ll get it back. If Kevin knows what he’s talking about you’ll get it back."
"Don’t put that on me," Kevin states as he gets up, gathering his things. "I’m just the messenger. If they’re giving me bad info it’s not my fault."
The idea makes Dean still because this was true, anyone could be sending them Kevin the messages. They can only follow through and hope for the best. It can’t be any worse than their current situation. Dean pulls away to look over the sheets of paper again. He’s clueless as to what any of if could mean. “What do you want from us.”
"Nothing, I’ll probably hang out here though if that’s okay, just so I don’t have to trek across the jungle to tell you what’s going on." He looks over at his mom who is puffing up to give an argument that never comes. She’s protective of her son but she’s also smart.
"Fine," she agrees. "I’ll be back in a couple of days to check on him." Mrs. Tran steps up in between Cas and Dean and waves a finger in their faces. "Any harm comes to him and I’ll pluck both of you bare." To prove her point she plucks a feather off of Dean’s wing then goes over to kiss her son goodbye.
"Getting eaten by a croat and getting stabbed by Michael’s sword are two different things. At least with croats I can potentially retrieve your soul if Kevin’s plan goes alright. If Michael gets you." Castiel shakes his head and stops speaking, both of them knowing the consequence of being stabbed with an angel blade.
While Kevin’s words do make him worry, he knew it was always a possibility. That they could have activated him just to lure them out of hiding. But Castiel wants to hope that this is the real deal and that they can make the world a better place for their boys.
He drapes a wing around Dean’s shoulders, but smiles when his mate pulls away to look over the papers again. It’s a futile effort for any angel to try and read that. Except for maybe Metatron, but he’s supposed to be dead.
"Don’t worry, Linda. We’ll take good care of Kevin. Besides, we’ve got plenty of dried pork we can give to you to take back to the orphans. Let me grab it." Castiel runs into the kitchen and grabs the a carefully wrapped packet. It’s roughly half of their supply, but he can always go out and track down another pig.
He gives Linda the package and gives her a quick hug, though he jumps back when she plucks a feather from him too. A quick reminder that she’ll hold them to their word before she leaves the house.
"Alright. Well, uh, how about I get started on making us lunch? I bet Ike and Robbie are starving. You too," he addresses Kevin and heads back into the kitchen.