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24 September 2011 @ 03:07 pm
the fifth element - part I  
Prologue


Sunrise, Wyoming, 1860


“Samuel, you didn’t suspect anything? The barn is yours, after all. Are you losing your touch or what?”

“I bought the entire farm along with the barn, and it was in piss poor conditions when I got it. Did I have to worry ‘bout some drawings on the sides? They mean nothin’ to me,” Samuel Colt answers while trying to come up with the quickest way to shoot the man he’s talking to.

Damn hunters. There’s a reason why Samuel quit the job a long time ago, which has nothing to do with his current occupation. And Sam Campbell here isn’t anyone that you can convince about the angels’s essential good nature; he’ll never accept the truth.

Worse, he might destroy what’s inside the barn’s small cupboard. It’s located in the right corner and it’s so old and battered that you wouldn’t look at it twice. If Campbell finds out what’s in it, then Samuel will have to kill him, which will end up being a darned mess because considering how huge is the other’s family, at least ten people know where he is right now.

“Those are angelic sigils. I can’t believe that you’re so rusty not to have realized it.”

“I tried not to meddle with things I never knew how to kill even when I was one o’ yours. Who cares? As long as they don’t fly around in my barn, angels can go do whatever the hell it is that they do in their free time.”

Campbell shakes his head, looking again at the sheets. “Right, so you don’t know that there’s a plan to destroy the world written right on these here walls.”

The fool, Samuel thinks. He understood nothing. “How exactly?”

“I guess I should think ‘bout it some more. All this talk about elements is goddarn confusing, but with just a bit more work –”

Campbell never finishes that sentence.

Before he does, a droplet of blood falls from his nose. Samuel moves two steps behind before Campbell falls into the dirt, face down.

He breathes in relief when he sees who’s behind him.

“Sam, Sam, that was too close.”

“Loki. Or should I call you by your true name?”

The man (or better, the angel) in front of him gives him a smirk and shakes his head. “No need. Someone could hear, y’know. Taking chances doesn’t sound like a good idea right now.”

“I was going to do it,” Samuel says. “You know I’d never risk someone finding out.”

“I do, I do. And it’d have been appreciated – we all appreciate your work here, my friend. I can make the body disappear, and I’m sure that it would be much more convenient for you. Besides, from now on your position won’t be… as delicate, I could say.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that we decided that what’s in your cupboard is going back to Heaven with me. It’s safer.”

“But – in two hundred years, we’ll be defenseless!”

“No, you won’t. We’ll bring it back to you when the moment comes. After all, you’re all our Father’s favorite creatures – no one among us wants your planet gone. You have my word.”

“Your word would be binding, Gabriel,” Samuel whispers, and Gabriel gives him a nod and shakes his hand. Then he heads for the cupboard, opening it and taking a small jar out of it.

It glows blue; the light it contains pulses gently as Samuel hands it to Gabriel.

“We’ll be back. Meanwhile, guard this place. Find someone else to do it after you. Tell them the truth – not more than two or three people at once at most, though. Hells, you can found a religion to cover your traces for all I care – the only thing is, keep this place safe. I took care to get the other stones while you two were arguing, and while they’ll be useless without my small, precious burden… they’re still safer with us.”

“I understand. I will do it.”

“Good. Then… I guess I won’t see you again, but who knows.”

Gabriel snaps his fingers and Campbell’s body vanishes; then he’s gone as well.

With the fifth element and presumably the stones.

Samuel locks the barn and goes back inside the farm.

He needs to think this through.





New York, 2060



When running for President, the last thing Victor Henriksen had thought he’d have to deal with was demons and angels.

The existence of both races has been known for years by now. No one is bothered as a general rule, since demons walking on the Earth aren’t worse than your typical finance shark and angels don’t come on Earth that often. And Victor had liked the status quo – it’s hard enough being the United States president without having to deal with nonhuman creatures either.

And then this morning some angels had asked permission to come to Earth to talk to him about a matter of major importance, and they never arrived there, because apparently they had been ambushed by demons just outside the White House. (Which is both angel-proofed and demon-proofed, for extra security.)

Why would it happen, and how is he supposed to –

“Mr. President?”

“Chief Singer. Are there any news?”

Bobby Singer, his chief staff for the military, looks even less cheerful than usual.

“Some bad and some good. The bad is that the demons used some blades that can kill angels and stole a suitcase that one of said angels had with him. Or well, they killed the angels and the poor sods they were temporarily possessing – we’re searching for the families right now.”

“And the good?”

“The good is that some guards were outside and tried to help. It was over before they could do much, but one got to one angel that had managed to kill a couple demons and move away from the carnage. It was too badly wounded though, and died a minute later. But he gave the guard some kind of body part and told ‘im to give it to our best scientist.”

“What is it?”

“Looks like it’s… somethin’ like concentrated DNA? I understood nothin’ of that, but they’re workin’ on that in New York. Shurley said he’d have figured it out in an hour and we sent him to New York because that’s where the safest place to work on such a thing is, and I’m goin’. I thought you probably should come, too.”

“Fine,” Victor says. He’ll need the Air Force One for this.

When they get to the government-owned skyscraper designed for that kind of research that is better to keep secret, the Shurley scientist is waiting for them already. The guy is barely forty and he’s apparently the best head that the government currently employs, so Victor tries not to notice that he hasn’t shaved anytime in the last three days and that he looks way too jittery.

“What is that thing?” he asks as Shurley leads them to what’s apparently the main lab in the entire structure.

“It’s… in very, uh, simple terms, empowered DNA. Meaning, uhm, us humans, we have forty DNA memo groums. In that thing, there were – there were two hundred and thousand. In just one cell. Forty are more than enough for a species to reproduce, so I figured that, if that matter had that much, then we could try to – uhm. Make it reproduce itself.”

“How would you do that?”

“We have a machine – it can do it with the necessary instruction. It’s kind of an experimental model, but it should work. It’s… it’d do the same things an incubator would, but a lot faster. And, uh. A bit differently. Here we are.”

Victor finds himself in front of what he can only describe, indeed, as the hugest incubator he’s ever seen. It’s shaped more like a capsule, though, and it’s entirely covered in glass. Shurley assures him that it’s unbreakable as he moves towards the console outside the body of the capsule. He presses a button and the cover raises itself; a second later, some colleague of Shurley’s places what looks like a severed hand inside the capsule, and the glass comes back down.

“That’s what the angels had wanted to give us? A hand?” Victor asks, skeptical.

“It’s the one thing that’s survived. I guess that originally, it was human-shaped. That doesn’t surprise me too much, though – angels do look like us, don’t they?”

“Maybe. So, what is your plan?”

“Since it’s already supposed to be a human shape, I’ll only have to give it the basic commands and see what happens,” Shurley says, and then presses another button.

The severed hand suddenly starts glowing, some kind of blue light that engulfs it completely. The monitor outside the capsule starts beeping quickly, and then the hand – it changes. It isn’t even a hand anymore – the light shapes itself into something else. First it stretches vertically, then horizontally; but then it divides itself. Soon, Victor sees the shape of a body taking form; arms and legs appear, and then a crude head. The light turns from blue to white, and for a second it’s so blinding that Victor has to close his eyes; but when he opens them…

There’s a man inside the capsule, lying down as if sleeping. He looks in his early thirties, his skin pale, a body that isn’t overly muscled but lithe and compact at the same time. He’s tall enough, with dark brown hair, regular features and full, pink lips. He’s – oddly – wearing only a pair of jeans, which Victor wouldn’t have pegged for something angels would wear.

The beeping dies down, and then the man opens his eyes. They’re quite big, and such a pure shade of blue that for a second Victor thinks of the color of the sea the moment after the sun has risen; and there’s no other way to put it – he’s scared out of his mind. He jerks up in a sitting position, his hands pressed against the glass, looking around himself the way a caged animal would; it’s enough to jolt the entire room out of their fascinated staring.

“Are you sure that he can’t get out?” Bobby Singer asks, and Chuck gives him a distracted nod.

“That glass has been tested with diamonds – it can’t break.”

The man says something, but it’s a language Victor has never heard, and when one of the doctors comes closer and tries to speak to him in English, he shakes his head frantically.

Before closing his hand in a fist and punching the glass.

It breaks as if it had been fine porcelain.

--

Castiel runs.

This isn’t where he was supposed to be. This isn’t even how he was supposed to be – why a human body? It wasn’t – he shouldn’t even exist. His name is the name of the fifth element – it was never supposed to belong to a
person. And the stones – he doesn’t have the stones.

His thoughts are mostly juggled and he can’t make sense of any of them; the only thing he’s sure of is that he needs to find a Sam Winchester. And that he shouldn’t have found himself in a glass cage.

He keeps on running, and then he reaches another panel of glass. There’s some kind of lock – it breaks without resistance, and it’s good because he can hear people running after him. He can’t afford to lose time – he can feel time running out already. It’s merely forty-eight Earth hours until destruction, and he’s sure that the people who turned him into a man wouldn’t be inclined to do things his way.

And he can’t afford that.

He wonders where the others are – he was supposed to be brought here by five other angels, why is he alone?

He walks out of the passage he opened, and he finds himself outside a roof, walking on a ledge. There are a good two hundred feet of free falling below him and the sky is full of human means of transportation – cars or machines or something close to that term. And there are people behind him still, coming closer, shouting things he doesn’t understand.

Castiel doesn’t have time to think his actions through.

He only needs to find Sam Winchester.

So he thrusts out his arms, as if they were wings, closes his eyes, hopes that his instincts are suggesting him the right thing, and leaps.


--

When the alarm clock informs Dean Winchester that it’s eight AM and he needs to get up, his shift starts at eight thirty, and why isn’t he up already, Dean thinks for a second that he should crush it.

Then he thinks better of it and gets out of his bunk, albeit without any desire to. The sheets straighten themselves out before the bunk disappears inside the wall – advantages of studio apartments, Dean figures. If only he could avoid littering the floor with things during the day.

He sighs as he puts on the coffeemaker and glances at the picture of Sam’s high school graduation looking at him from the only table in the small kitchen. He presses a button and the wall on his right slides away – his fridge is lowered down in the empty space. Dean opens it and takes out a bar of chocolate. He has no time for anything more refined.

There’s a rustle at his right and he smiles, knowing who it is.

“You were late this morning, too?” he asks as he pours some milk into a bowl and places it on the ground. A pale red cat with clear green eyes comes into the kitchen and starts lapping at it. Dean scratches her behind the ears and she purrs – he found her starving on a street a couple of years ago and named her Mary after his mother. She’s also better company than his last three girlfriends, and if Dean’s dad keeps on telling him that it’s ridiculous how the cat sees his face more than him, Dean isn’t about to change that anytime soon.

Especially considering that his dad is out in Kansas and Dean has no means to get there anytime soon.

Then the phone rings. Dean hopes that it isn’t his boss, but considering that he’s the only one who calls other than his dad, and it’s too early in the morning for it to be his dad…

“Yeah?”

“Dean, it’s Gordon. You have to bring that damn car in for the revision today. It’s the last chance you have, you know that?”

Clearly it’s Dean’s boss.

“Uh, yeah, sure. ‘m gonna do it after the shift’s over, I –”

“I hope you aren’t pushing it as much as you can because it means you’d get your license checked, too.”

Damn it, Dean thinks. “I’ve got fifty points on it still. Why should I worry?”

“Someone tells me you’re lying, but that’s no problem of mine. This evening, all right?”

“All right,” Dean agrees before closing the call. He drinks all the coffee in one go – he isn’t even in the mood to savor it. He needs to find a way to hide how many points he has left on his license before this evening, that’s what he should do, but he also has to go to work, and fast.

He leaves a bowl of dried meat for the cat in a small compartment that will open itself when it’s the right time, changes into a pair of jeans and a black shirt, the most professional attire he can come up with, and then gets out of his apartment and down to his garage, where he keeps what once used to be his own car.

It’s still his own car, but a beauty like her shouldn’t be turned into a goddamn taxi.

Sometimes Dean misses the army. But he never thinks about that, because then he’d think about the reason why he joined it, and how useless it ended up being, and he settles on pushing his license into the slot.

The car’s lights turn on.

“Welcome on board, Mr. Winchester,” the radio says in a pleasant feminine voice. Dean has hated it since the second he had to install it. The second he’s done with this job, hopefully sooner rather than later, he’s taking it away.

“You have five points left on your license. Have a great day,” the voice informs him cheerfully before informing him that there’s someone wanting to be picked up on Broadway.

Dean tries to drive slower than usual – he doesn’t need to lose his remaining five points. He’s sure that Sam could have hacked his way into the system and solved his little problem, but Sam hasn’t been an option for years.

The day they see each other again, Dean is going to show Sam exactly what his actions meant, but it’s not that day, he figures.

Right now, he has no idea of how wrong he is.


He’s driving under that skyscraper belonging to some government scientists when someone crashes into his car.

And they were lucky, since they crashed inside it landing exactly on the backseat. Though how the hell can someone break his roof like it was butter?

He stops the car mid-air and turns around, ready to rage, because you don’t throw yourself off buildings, and by the way his baby’s roof will take ages to be repaired, but when he looks at his passenger in the face, the words don’t come.

Said passenger is a guy wearing a pair of jeans, no shoes and no shirt, who looks like some model just out of a shoot, the traits on his face regular, two full pink lips, huge blue eyes and unkempt hair. And did Dean mention the part where he looks scared out of his mind?

It doesn’t help when he starts talking at the speed of light in some language Dean doesn’t understand in the slightest.

“Hey, wait, wait,” Dean interrupts him, raising one hand. The man stops, so at least he’s following him. “Dude, stop. I only speak English and occasionally bad English, I don’t get it. But man, jumping off buildings ain’t a good idea. You could’ve killed yourself.”

The man doesn’t look as skittish anymore – Dean thinks that it’s his tone of voice. He’s trying not to sound anywhere near threatening. Dean wonders where the hell he comes from – maybe he’s someone sold for organs traffic? That’d explain the scared out of his mind bit and the not understanding English bit, but it still isn’t convincing. There’s something about the way the man moves – as if he doesn’t get how to use his own body, which is puzzling at least, and then –

“You in that taxi, the person with you escaped from a government building. Come closer to us.”

Dean turns and sees a police car hovering at his left, and they’re coming closer as well. And whoever’s driving isn’t a common policeman – from the uniform, Dean would bet they’re from the military.

“What the hell did you get yourself into?” he asks without expecting an answer. The man shivers, shaking his head desperately, but there’s nothing Dean can do about this. Getting arrested isn’t anything he can afford, not even for such a pair of baby blues, or for a trembling bottom lip. He moves closer to the police car slowly, trying not to feel like someone bringing a bunch of baby lambs to slaughter.

“I’m sorry,” Dean says, stopping the car, waiting for the government people to hook their own vehicle to his. “I can’t.”

Then the man looks at the back of the passenger seat – the one where Dean keeps some charity flyers. There’s one for children in central Africa, if he doesn’t remember wrong.

And then the man looks up at him again, his eyes wider than before.

He speaks a single world.

“Help,” he says, as if saying it had felt painful, and he’s this close to crying.

“I –” Dean starts, trying to find an excuse. Then he sees a ladder about to hook to the backdoor.

There’s something about Dean Winchester that has never changed since he was old enough to take his own decisions.

He has never been able not to trust his gut instincts.

He had figured it’d be his ruin, someday, but he hadn’t thought it’d be like this.

“Shucks. I guess there goes my license,” he says, and before the police car can hook itself to Dean’s, he speeds away into the traffic and the voice informs him happily that he has no points left on his license anymore.

Considering that he’s just hit eighty miles inside city limits, he isn’t anywhere near surprised.

“Hold on back there!” he shouts, hoping that Blue Eyes gets it; he does get it, hanging on to the car seat so hard that Dean figures he’s this close to rip the leather. Good enough – because the government car is right behind them and Dean can’t afford to get caught.

He pushes to eighty-five miles and flies further down. On one side it’s trickier, because the lower you go the more cars you find (and Dean, who’s been afraid of using planes and spaceships for inter-planet traveling since forever, gets people who want to be close to the ground well enough; his car is the only exception to his flying fear because he drives it), but at the same time it’s harder to find you. He starts honking and people are smart enough to let him through. The police car alerts not to let him, but Dean figures that if the choice was letting him go or ruining your car and possibly dying, not many people are willing to play heroes.

He needs to get back home, but he can’t use the direct route – he flies through the hugest crossing of this entire area of the city, breaking a couple of windowsills along the way. He turns the car vertically in order to pass through a narrow back road, hoping that the police car following them is too big to follow their example; when he sees that he was right, he’s quick to drive through another three or four back alleys before turning back on his tail and flying back to his garage and his apartment. He cuts through a couple of neighborhoods where no one is surprised when people push on ninety miles, surpasses the government skyscraper area taking a much longer route and then he’s finally back home. He flies the car inside the garage, realizing that it isn’t likely that he’ll drive again her anytime soon, and when he’s parked he lets out the hugest breath he has ever let out in his life.

He turns back towards his passenger and his ruined roof. The other man looks as if he has just gone on fifty rollercoaster rides one after the other.

Maybe it isn’t that wrong of an analogy. He also looks relieved, though.

“Okay. Okay. We’re fine. For now.”

The other man nods, and then snatches the flyer out of the pocket on Dean’s seat. He reads it once, then again, then again. He looks up at Dean, breathes in.

“I,” he starts, his voice lower than before, as if his vocal chords were never used before.

“Okay,” Dean nods again, figuring that he needs to tell the other that he’s doing fine. Even if he has no idea of how he learned that in a second.

“Need… find,” the man manages, looking pained all over again.

“Fine. Good. You need to find something.” The man shakes his head. “Someone?” Dean tries, and he gets a nod.

“Right. Someone.”

“Help,” the man says again.

All right, he figures. In for a penny, in for a pound.

“Sure. ‘Course I’ll help you. After now, I’d be an idiot if I didn’t, right? You probably don’t understand me anyway. Okay. I need a name. This someone’s name.”

“Sam,” the man supplies, but then probably realizes that you can’t find someone on the basis of a first name only. “Sam Winchester,” he breathes out, and then he closes his eyes and faints.

“I’ll be damned,” Dean whispers, because what would this guy have to do with his brother? Unless…

Unless it’s related to the fact that Sam quit college in his last year to become a damned priest, pun intended.

Well then, Dean thinks, there’s only one thing to do. And it isn’t driving to Sam’s church, or what passes for a church in that order, mostly because his car is in no shape to go around. And even if it was, someone would recognize them easily enough.

He lifts the guy in his arms, realizing that he doesn’t even know his name, and he’s mildly surprised when he realizes that he’s lighter than someone his age and size should. Then he brings him home, finds the number on the net (at least it’s a church where you can call at the parsonage if you need it) and deals the number.

“Colt’s, how can I help you?”

“Andy? It’s Dean.”

“Why are you even calling? You know that –”

“Andy. I need to speak to my brother now. It’s related to his goddamn job. If he doesn’t want to speak to me lie to him and get him on this line, because that’s something he needs to know. I think it’s related to that prophecy of yours,” he adds, because from what he remembers from the only time he researched Sam’s new world, it might add up.

“Fine. Don’t get your hopes up too much though,” Andy says, and Dean figures that at least, if it’s a church made of probably twenty people on the entire planet, at least his brother ended up with an okay guy. Who probably smokes too much pot, but if nothing in his vows says he can’t, good for him.

“Dean,” Sam says into the phone as soon as he picks up the receiver, “if this is about –”

“Sam, shut the fuck up. This is serious. Today I’m driving my car and while I’m under that government skyscraper with the labs a guy falls into it.”

“What –”

“Guy doesn’t speak English whatsoever, but manages to ask me to help him when the military gets near us to get him back. Since he jumped from the government building and everything. So I do the not-so-smart thing and rush home, and by the way he owes me my license. Then we do get here, even with a half-destroyed car, which I guess he owes me as well. He manages to pick up enough words from a flyer or something and tells me he needs to find someone. Guess what. That someone is you.”

“Me?”

“Sam, just don’t. I don’t think there are other people named Sam Winchester that could be in a position to help him, whoever the hell he is. Now, my car is out of commission and there’s no way I’m getting to your quarters, so I’d advise you to get a taxi and pay me a visit.”

Nothing else comes from the other side – only Sam’s labored breathing.

“Sam? What –”

“Sorry. I– shit. Of everyone – I guess you’re better than anyone else. Listen, can you describe him to me?”

“… all right. Slightly shorter than me, dark brown hair, pretty damn nice blue eyes, pale all over, he was wearing only a couple of jeans. He’s also, uh, lighter than someone his size should be.”

“Did he speak in his own language?”

“Yeah, but it’s not as if I know it.”

“Wait. Did it sound like this?”

Dean doesn’t understand shit out of what Sam says next, but he’s sure enough. “Yeah. I think it did.”

“Did he have something with him?”

“Something as if?”

“Stones. Four stones.”

“Nope. Just him. Sam, what the heck –”

“Stay there. Don’t move. Don’t let him go. We’re coming right now. If anyone else comes by, hide him.”

And then the call is over.

He’ll be damned.

--

Dean decides that he needs something to eat, and clearly his dad has to call while he’s fixing himself a cheeseburger.

First he gets questioned about why he isn’t at work (caught a cold, Dad, I took a day off), then about why he doesn’t sound like someone with a cold, whether Sam has come back to his senses (nope, he hasn’t), then he gets through a tirade about Sam having grown up all wrong, and then he’s accused of talking more to his cat than his own father (you know it ain’t true), and whether Dean has found himself someone (no, Dad, I’d have told you otherwise).

When the call is done, he’s exhausted and he has fixed two hamburgers. Dean has practiced multitasking while talking to his dad, or otherwise he’d never get anything done whenever John Winchester calls.

He gets back to his bed, which he has pulled out in order to let his new acquaintance rest, and sees that his cat has curled up near the man’s chest.

Fine, Dean figures, if Mary likes him he can offer the guy some food, right? He eats his own burger, then sits next to the bed and tries to shake the guy awake.

It doesn’t work.

Dean moves closer, realizing that the guy has some pretty long eyelashes, all things considered.

Then he wonders where it came from.

Then he realizes that his face is inches from the other man’s, and a second later a hand connects with his face, slapping him hard enough that Dean jumps a couple of steps back.

“What – sorry!” he manages, noticing that the man is awake enough, and not at all comfortable with his surroundings. “I didn’t mean anything! Geez, show a man some gratitude.”

The man’s eyes land on his, and he lets out a small breath, shaking his head and looking as if he has just realized who he has hit. He moves a hand to his mouth and stands up, moving in front of Dean. He’s a couple inches shorter than him, Dean guessed right. He raises his hand and runs his knuckles on the bruise already forming on Dean’s cheek, shaking his head as if he’s extremely sorry about it.

“That’s fine,” Dean manages, not moving an inch – for some reason, he kind of likes the proximity. “I shouldn’t have been so near you anyway. Listen, uh, I was wondering, you got a name?”

“Name?” the man repeats, as if concentrating hard on it.

“Yeah. Like, uh, you were searching for a Sam.” Dean speaks slowly, hoping that he isn’t being completely not intelligible. “I’m Dean.” He points to himself, figuring that saying his surname would only bring complications.

“Dean?” The guy repeats. Dean points to himself again. “Yeah. You?”

It doesn’t work, and so he points at the guy. He widens his eyes, obviously getting it, but he actually thinks about it.

“Cas…” he starts, obviously not done, but the more he thinks about it the more it’s plain that he has problems saying it. Maybe it’s the kind of thing that’s said in one way in his language but would sound different in others.

“All right,” Dean says, figuring it’s enough to go by. “Cas, I got it. For now, anyway. You want something to eat?” he asks, handing over the second burger. The burger is looked over as if eating is a foreign concept, but as soon as Cas (or what’s his true name) gets it, it’s gone in a matter of minutes.

“Woah,” Dean whistles, “that was good, huh?”

The only answer he gets is a smile which might be small but is enough to light up half of Cas’s face, and then there’s frantic knocking on Dean’s door.

“Who’s there?” he asks, eyeing the gun he keeps handy just in case.

“It’s Sam.”

Well, Dean thinks, time for him and his brother to see each other after four years.

He opens the door and instead of saying hi, Sam looks directly behind him and starts speaking in that language he had spoken on the phone before. Cas’s eyes light up in relief and he starts talking so fast that Dean doesn’t know how they can even understand each other.

And then he notices that Andy has come, too.

“Hi Dean,” Andy says, sounding as if nothing’s wrong within the world. Dean envies him that attitude.

“Hi there. Just humor me, what language is that?”

“Enochian, but they’re talking too fast for me to get half of it.”

“Enochian? Isn’t that the language of angels?” Dean replies, and all of a sudden he’s starting to suspect who’s exactly in his one room.

“Yep. But he isn’t an angel… exactly. Don’t worry, Sam’s going to explain you what’s going on.”

“Why would he?”

“I made him swear that he would while we were getting here,” Andy replies. Dean is thankful that his brother didn’t end up in service with some kind of jerk all over again.

Then he notices Sam handing Cas some kind of tablet, one thing that Dean is sure works like a computer or something, and Dean can’t help noticing how quickly Cas is going over something in there.

“Let him work with that for a bit,” Sam says, “it should help, uh, communication. And I guess I owe you an explanation.”

“That’d be awesome,” Dean replies, pressing a button so that four chairs appear from under the ground. When they’re all seated, he looks at Sam again. He’s dressed in brown linen only and he looks frankly ridiculous.

“So. Start.”

“Dean, I know what you think about my, er, chosen path, but you don’t need to be that –”

Dean is at the end of his patience already. He raises up his shirt, showing the both of them the still raw scar that covers most of his chest, which he got while in the army when a bomb exploded bare feet from him. It was a miracle that it didn’t get to his face.

“The reason I got that is that I enlisted to pay for your first chosen path, and if you really wanted to get into the smallest Church on earth, you could’ve done me the favor to at least graduate before taking your vows. So yes, I need to be like that, because then you disappeared and you never once assumed that I wanted to talk to you just to talk and not because I wanted to lash at you. Don’t go preaching at me, Sam, and get the fuck on with it.”

“I deserved that,” Sam admits, and when he looks up at Dean he doesn’t seem as bitchy as he was ten seconds ago.

If Dean had known, he’d have searched him out a long time ago.

“All right. This is a story that goes way back, but… it’s a family thing.”

“A family what?”

“Dean, you know that Samuel Colt was among Dad’s relatives? The famous one.”

“Yeah, and so what?”

“So, one day I’m at Stanford and this priest shows up and tells me a story. Because I was apparently the only reachable person of age in the entire line. Of Samuel Colt, I mean. And – he founded our church.”

“Samuel Colt? That one? I was sure it was someone else with the same name.”

“Yes. He mostly put the money and instructed his nephew who was the first priest, but it had a purpose. It was working to stop the end of the world.”

Dean tries not to look too skeptic.

“Go ahead.”

“Did you read the newspapers?”

“You mean, that talk about an asteroid passing near the planet?”

“That’s… not really correct. It isn’t an asteroid. It’s more like… okay, picture the Death Star.”

“The one from Star Wars?”

“Yeah. Only, shaped like a planet and made of… everything that is pure evil in the universe. And it’s not going to pass near the planet, it’s going to hit it in… forty eight hours? Maybe thirty six, even.”

“And you two are supposed to prevent it?”

“The head priest is supposed to. And only someone related to Samuel Colt can have that job. The previous one sought me out when he found out he had terminal cancer. I couldn’t say no.”

“And you couldn’t have told us.”

“Because Dad would have believed it,” Sam answers, rather sarcastically, and Dean has to give him that.

“About that. The only way to stop it is to go to Colt’s house in Wyoming. There’s a barn there, where he used to keep four stones. They stand for the four elements. And then he had this other… thing. I can’t explain that to you, it was supposed to be made of pure matter opposite to our Death Star’s – it was something that angels gave him to protect.”

“Angels?”

“They knew that this planet was doomed. And apparently the last order God gave before disappearing was keeping Earth safe. So they had left the four stones and this fifth… element, there’s no other way to call it, in his custody. At the right time, someone was supposed to place them in certain positions inside that barn, and it’d have stopped everything else. Then – someone found out about him. And the angels had to take everything back – stones and fifth element. They said they’d bring them back when it was time.”

“Isn’t it time now?”

“Have you read the news?”

Dean tries to remember what has happened lately, but there’s a blank. “I haven’t managed. I was too busy saving his ass,” he says nodding in Cas’s direction.

“Some angels have asked permission to land on Earth. And it was granted, but as soon as they appeared, some demons attacked them and killed almost all of them. One guard got to the only one left, and something survived. It was living matter, though I’m sure it wasn’t supposed to be – they shaped it that way when they realized what was happening. At that government lab, they put it into some kind of incubator. And the result is behind you.”

Dean looks at Cas, then at Sam again. Andy nods at everything Sam says while checking all of Dean’s bookshelves before picking a fairly large volume from there. Dean can’t bother with it.

“You mean that he’s the fifth element?”

“Yeah, but he obviously doesn’t have the stones. And without them –”

“Without them I’m worth nothing,” Cas says from behind him, and Dean almost gasps at the change. His voice is still low and rough, still sounding as if his vocal chords are new, but he’s obviously somewhat learned English in ten minutes.

“Woah,” Dean says, “you sound better like this.”

Cas sends him half a smile again, obviously relieved at having found a mean of communication. “Considering that I have just memorized an English dictionary, I don’t doubt it. And thank you – I don’t want to imagine what would have happened without your help.”

“Uh, obligated.”

“Also, my full name is Castiel, but you’re welcome to keep on.. calling me like you did before. That said, about the stones,” Cas starts, and Dean can’t help noticing the change in attitude, too; but then again, not being cut from the world maybe has its effects. “The angels who arrived here didn’t have them at all. They were merely pretending to bring a case with them, but maybe it’s a good thing that they don’t trust humans too much.”

“So, where are they?” Sam asks.

“They’re with… someone trusted. He’s… an actor, I think. Quite successful. He’s on… what I think you would call an intergalactic tour. However, I think he’s supposed to play on Titan a day from now.”

“Wait, is your contact Balthazar?” Andy almost shrieks. Cas nods, and Andy’s eyes suddenly widen. “Quite successful? He’s the most appreciated Shakespearian actor around! That show you’re referring to, it’s been sold out for months!”

“Did you actually want to go?” Sam asks. Andy shrugs.

“At some point he’ll perform on Earth. It’s not as if you keep me from going to the theater, right?”

“So,” Dean says, “the point is finding those stones and then get to Colt’s place before two days? In theory I guess that’d be doable – Titan is some six hours away, ten if you take a regular flight that goes slower – but it’s not as if any of us has a spaceship.”

“Any of us?” Sam says.

“Woah, sorry if I thought I’d be in,” Dean replies, not trying to hide that he was a bit hurt. “I destroyed my baby to help him, and I’m also without a license. And without a job, or I’ll be as soon as my boss finds out what happened since wait, I also crossed the military. Then I find out that you are involved, out of everyone, and you want to pack and leave for Titan hiding in some spaceship’s baggage holder, while you leave me here to sort out the mess?”

Sam has the grace to look ashamed at that. Maybe he’s realizing that he should have talked to Dean at some point in the last four years.

“He’s right,” Cas says. “He has risked too much when he didn’t even know who I was – you can’t ask him to pretend it didn’t happen.”

Dean decides that he likes the way Cas thinks. At least someone is on his side here.

“Well,” Andy says as he closes Dean’s book – it’s the complete works of David Hume, volume one, aka the only philosophy book Dean owns – “this is all lovely, but I think there’s something huge we’re overlooking.”

“Like?” Dean asks.

“Castiel here wasn’t even supposed to… have a body. And no angel was supposed to die in the process. Someone was after those stones and sent demons to get them – obviously they want the world to end.” Dean envies the way Andy sounds almost cheerful as he says that. “So, point is – who stole the fake stones, and will they search for the real ones? Because if it’s someone who’d kill angels to get them… I’m not looking forward to have a talk with them. If you get what I mean.”

Dean gets it, totally.

From the look on everyone else’s face, he knows that they get it, too.

And then someone else knocks on his door.

--

“I think this is not what we had agreed on.”

“It is. You paid us to kill those angels and bring you what they had with them. This is what they had with them. I don’t give a damn if there’s nothing inside this case. We did what you asked, and now you’ll pay us. The content’s not my business.”

Bugger these idiots, Crowley thinks. You can never trust a demon to do a job right, and he should know that, since he’s the exception to the rule. He curses under his breath, deciding that it’s a good thing that he had a plan B. Thankfully Brady never was the sharpest knife of the demon lot.

Crowley tells him fine, they’ll get their weapons as agreed, and please follow him to the armory; meanwhile, he tries to come up with a way of solving this bloody mess.

First thing, he’s back at square one. These idiots not only have brought him an empty case, but they didn’t even deliver the fifth element, and there was enough talk on the news today about some crazy guy jumping off that government building to figure out where that went. But the fifth element is useless without the stones, so the point is finding them first. And it has to be done soon, since you can rise up the human social ladder and be one of the ten richest people in the world (using unorthodox methods, sure, but Crowley never was an idiot and never gave a shit about fair play), but you’re still a demon and there will always be someone more powerful than you.

To be entirely honest, Crowley isn’t looking forward to the Earth’s destruction, but after all if his superiors down in Hell plan to clash with angels after the universe as God created it is annihilated, he can see to try and take their place while they fight between themselves. Wouldn’t that be sweet? And definitely worth the sacrifice of some pesky galaxies; after all, Heaven and Hell can’t be destroyed that way. So he’ll go and destroy the bloody stones, also because his superiors would probably kill him if he didn’t try; meanwhile, he needs plan B to be put into action already.

He’s also very thankful that he’s extremely rich; if there’s one way to assure that another demon won’t backstab you, it’s paying them enough.

He brings Brady to the room where he had stored the weapons that would have been payment for his and his small army of demon mercenaries, and lets them look around. He doesn’t tell anyone not to press a red button which is on the lower side of almost all of the firearms.

As everyone inside the room blows up (the door is bomb-proof), Crowley quickly walks away and then takes his cell phone from his pocket, then he presses number four on speed dial.

“Yes?”

“Meg? Don’t tell me you changed host again.”

“That other one had become a bit too recognizable. What do you want now?”

Crowley would like to burn her out of her host, one day, but Meg is sadly one of the few smart demons he knows, and while she hates him, she never hated his money. And she’s damn good at finding information.

“I suppose you heard the news.”

“The bit where someone took four angels or so and clipped all of their wings? I might have.”

“Those angels were supposed to bring something on this planet. Namely, some stones. But they had an empty case. I need to know where they are. Before the next six hours.”

“Now, now, this is going to cost you –”

“Meg, you can name the bloody price and I won’t discuss it. Just tell me where they are.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” she replies. Crowley can feel her licking her lips as she speaks.

Then the call is over.

He hopes this isn’t the one time she doesn’t get a job done, and then he turns to the other huge problem. The fifth element.

He needs to track it down, whatever it is now. A man, apparently. Who didn’t obviously spill his brains on a streetwalk, since it apparently landed inside a car that sped away.

Crowley smirks and picks up the phone. When you’re a successful businessman that always backs up the presidential candidate more likely to win, there will always be someone in the government staff likely to spill information, and he needs to know that car’s plates.

--

“Who’s there?” Dean calls out.

“Dean, open the damn door,” comes from the other side, and Dean would have felt relieved if it wasn’t the first time in his life that voice meant trouble.

“Shit,” he says, “that’s my former superior in the army. I have no idea what he wants, but… Cas, you need to hide.”

“What –”

“I can explain Sam’s presence, but he works for the government. Here – Bobby, a second!” he shouts as he presses a button and a wall suddenly moves over to the left revealing a large enough shower cubicle. “Inside. If it starts pouring water on you, press the green button. Don’t touch anything else, okay?”

Cas nods and runs into the cubicle; Dean presses the button again and the wall slides back into its place.

Then he opens the door and lets Bobby in, noticing the uniform.

“Shit, you got up the ladder, didn’t you?” Dean asks, and Bobby scowls at him, but it’s well-meaning.

“Huh,” he says, “that your brother?”

“And his priest-in-training. Figured it was time to bury the axe.”

Dean can read Sam’s face – how does this guy know? – but he’s smart enough not to say anything.

“Can I trust him not to talk?”

“I think that if they swear not to ever talk about what you’re saying to me we should be clear. Are we?”

Sam looks downright murderous, but Andy puts a hand on his shoulder quite amiably and shoots them a friendly smile. “Sure. We’ll be as silent as graves, won’t we?”

Sam nods and Bobby seems a bit reassured.

“All right, son. Point is, I need you to come back into the business.”

“What? Bobby, you know that –”

“Dean, the only reason you’re not being arrested right now is that I guaranteed that it wasn’t your car bringing away the person who jumped out of the building today. I have no idea where he is and I don’t even wanna know by now – I know what they do,” he says, nodding towards Sam and Andy, “so I guess that if you don’t wanna tell me where he is, I can work with it. But we need you to go somewhere.”

“… where?”

Bobby is about to answer when the telephone rings. Dean picks it up.

“Dad? What – what the hell – slow down! I’ve never – no, I swear I have no idea!”

It takes him another ten minutes to convince his father that he isn’t being disrespectful; as soon as he’s done, he turns on the radio on and…

And we’ll now announce the winner of the annual Lucky Charms contest! Congratulations to Dean Winchester, and we hope your two days on Titan will be great!

“What the fuck does that even mean? I hate Lucky Charms!”

“It was a bit of honest rigging,” Bobby says. “After that mess with the angels, which I’m sure you know about, another angel contacted us and said that someone has to go on Titan and talk to this Balthazar actor because he knows where some four stones are. I trust you know what I mean. And the president ordered me to send someone I deemed suit.”

“And why would you rig a contest to make me go to Titan?”

“Because we can’t send anyone from the military – you forgot that Titan is under that agreement that forbids soldiers to go there? And because the guy’s show was sold-out, the two places that contest was offering were the last ones left. And it has to be you because the president asked me if I knew someone I could trust with such a mission and who was capable to come back alive, and you’re the one person I’ve ever been to war with that I could trust with it.”

“Bobby –”

“Son, shut up. I’ve trained you and I’ve seen you in action and I’d feel safer knowing you’d be the one there rather than some idjit chosen by someone else. I can give you papers and hold back whoever thinks you should be rotting in jail, and if they want to go I can get them tickets for the spaceship. But if your dad wants to go on Titan with you, please don’t bring ‘im. I don’t think it’s the kind of back-up you need.”

Dean thinks about it one second – he doesn’t like the idea of doing anything for the government again, not when he almost died while at war and he was discharged at a military hospital without much thanks, but if he says yes now they solve all of their problems with barely any effort. The second person could be Cas, he figures, and if Bobby gets Sam and Andy tickets at least for the ship ride…

“Done,” he says, “as long as there aren’t questions about how I choose to do things. And they get the tickets.”

“Sure. Be ready to leave in… four hours? I’ll send you a car. Gimme a safe word so that you know you can trust them when they knock.”

“License,” Dean says, not really thinking about it. But it’s not so obvious, right?

“Fine. I’ll hear from you.”

Bobby nods at Sam and Andy before leaving and Dean lets out a breath of relief before pressing the shower button again and let Cas out. His clothes are damp, and his hair is, too. Dean tries not to stare.

“Well, that went better than I thought,” Dean says. “At least we have a ticket for Titan. How much time did you say we have left?”

“One day and a half?” Andy answers.

“Nearly not enough, but we’ll make do. Okay then. You and Sam get the spaceship tickets and we’ll find some way to get you inside… the venue, I guess. Cas, you’re coming with me and let’s just hope that Dad never finds out.”

Cas gives him a curt nod, but then bites his lip and looks at Sam. “Don’t I need some identification in order to get on the plane?”

Dean curses under his breath – shit, how is he supposed to find Cas any kind of paper?

“Yeah, good point,” Sam says. “Thankfully, before Andy decided to devote his life to the cause, he earned his living in… not so legal ways. You think you can come up with a social security number and an ID for him before they come get us? If you can’t, at least a multi-pass.”

Andy thinks about it for a second. “Yes, but I need to be back at the base to do it. I have nothing to do it with here. Dean, do you have a camera?”

“Yeah, sure.” Dean takes it out of the drawer he usually keeps it in; Andy grabs it and takes a picture of ten of Castiel’s face at ten different angles before putting it away in his ugly robe.

“We’ll be back in four hours with everything. I’m borrowing the camera for now.”

Sam stands up and follows him to the door, but before leaving he turns and shoots a look at Dean. “Dean, listen –”

“We can talk about our feelings when this whole story is done with. Go print those damn papers, Sammy.”

Sam scowls at the nickname, but doesn’t object and closes the door without slamming it.

Considering the status of their relationship in the last years, Dean counts it as a win.

“I’m sorry,” Cas says then, and when Dean turns to face him, his eyes are downcast a way that is way too human for someone who doesn’t belong to the club. The cat picks that moment to climb up over Cas’s legs and Dean can’t help smiling when Cas starts to pet it. Cas doesn’t really look like the alien that he’s supposed to be; hell, Dean can’t help thinking that it’s a pretty adorable sight, even if he isn’t saying that out loud.

“For what?”

“When I asked you to help me, I didn’t mean to put you in trouble. But I felt as if I could trust you.”

“Don’t brood over it – at least I sort of patched things up with Sam, right? Consider it as… me paying you back or something.”

“I would still owe you. Your part was done when you didn’t let them catch me.”

Castiel is staring at him now while still petting the cat, intently, and Dean doesn’t know how he has managed to met the stare until now. He feels scrutinized, but not in the bad way.

“Don’t break your head ‘bout it. Maybe I want to live more than thirty-six hours, too. Also, if my cat likes you, then you’re probably worth helping.”

Cas’s smile is a barely there thing, but it’s enough for Dean to feel like he’s doing this right.


part II over here
 
 
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