Tell everyone to tell everyone we’re dead,
"Amen, I’m checking out."
Dean grasps blindly onto Sam's jacket and yanks him away from the bright, all-encompassing light rising through the convent floor. The piercing sound from beyond surges higher and higher, until Dean’s ears ring painfully, and he fumbles for the doors, tripping while Sam resists Dean tugging him away from the danger.
Like he wants to be here when the end comes.
“Damn it, Sam, we have to go,” Dean grunts, yanking on his brother’s shoulders and shoving him towards the exit.
The doors slam, trapping them inside. Dean pounds against them using all of his weight, fingers scrabbling at the wood, lodging splinters under his fingernails. Sam turns and walks towards the center of the convent, easily pulling out of Dean’s grasp as he attempts to snag at Sam’s jacket.
Dean watches helplessly as the light surrounds Sam, seeping into every pore from the inside out. Sam glows, bright enough to make Dean flinch and close his eyes, and somehow, Dean knows, the same way he knew Sam was dead that night on the ground outside of Cold Oak before his knees ever hit the ground - that bone deep, resonant instinct, like breathing.
The person that turns to face Dean once the light fades from his eyes isn't Sam. He cocks his head to the side and takes a step forward, movements too fluid, too precise, reminding Dean more of Castiel than his brother.
He stares at Dean for a moment before saying, “Hello, Dean.”
Fruitlessly, Dean whispers, “Sammy.”
Lucifer slowly shakes his head once, with a gentle, pitying look in his eyes. “No, Dean. I’m sorry. Not anymore.”
"Why?" Dean can barely force the word out through the tightness in his throat. He resists the urge to scream, wrap his hands around Lucifer's neck and squeeze, because he can't see past the face he knows better than his own. "Why him?"
Lucifer stares at him again, looking through him, so a chill shudders up Dean’s spine. “You don’t know yet," he whispers, eyes darting across Dean's face.
Lucifer’s gaze falls to Dean's amulet. He smiles, grim and full of regret. “You will.”
The words fall from his lips before his brain has a chance to catch up with his vocal chords. “I’m going to kill you,” Dean whispers quietly. “I’m going to get my brother back, and then I am going to kill you.”
Lucifer pauses two steps from the door. He turns slowly towards Dean, eyebrows rising towards his hairline. Any stranger would swear he was calm, the picture of ease, but Dean knows better. The devil may be the one behind the wheel, but he’s driving Sam’s body. The meanings behind every gesture and slight muscle movement are crystal clear, a second language only Dean knows how to speak.
Lucifer’s face darkens, and then suddenly, he’s in front on Dean, pressing him back into the wall. His fingers curl dangerously close to Dean’s throat but never actually choke. Dean bites back a groan as the rough stone digs into his shoulder blades.
“Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep,” Lucifer hisses, holding Dean against the wall for a few more moments before releasing him.
Dean drops to the ground like a stone. He holds his hand lightly around his neck, while Lucifer stares down at him silently. He shakes his head as he turns towards the double doors, footsteps echoing down the halls of the empty convent. Dean lets him go.
Bobby opens his door with a shotgun aimed directly at Dean’s chest. He stops short at the sight of Dean leaning against the door frame, barely able to hold himself upright.
"Jesus," Bobby breathes, grasping Dean's arm and hauling him inside. "What the hell happened?" He gives Dean a quick once-over, searching for wounds, but he won't find any. The physical pain doesn’t matter, not when his entire world has come crashing down.
Dean shakes his head, pushing Bobby to the side. "'M fine, Bobby."
"Like hell you're fine. You look like death warmed over."
Dean groans, tipping his head back and closing his eyes. "Thanks, Bobby. I can always count on you for a compliment."
"I ain’t here to boost your ego," Bobby snaps, and Dean’s head starts to throb. "What happened? Where’s Sam?”
Dean doesn't respond. He clenches his hands around the edge of the kitchen table to stop them from shaking.
"Dean - where's your brother?"
Dean flinches, tensing under Bobby's silent scrutiny. "He’s gone,” Dean says gruffly. He collapses onto one of the kitchen chairs with his head in his hands.
"Gone, like..." Bobby trails off, as if he doesn't want to voice the word they both dread to even consider - dead.
"Gone like Lucifer's wearing him to prom," Dean says, unable to sit still. He stands again and paces back and forth, floorboards creaking beneath his feet with every step. He hears the cabinet behind his head opening and closing, the clank of glasses against the counter and a bottle opening, but he doesn’t look up until Bobby hands him a tumbler of whiskey.
“Explain. Now,” Bobby says, and Dean downs the entire glass in one swallow.
“Lilith was the last seal,” he says, turning to pour a second glass from the still-open bottle on the counter. “Kill Lilith, free Lucifer, and welcome the end of the world. The angels were never going to stop Sam. They wanted him to set Lucifer loose.”
Dean shrugs, finishing the whiskey in his glass and turning to pour another. “Had a change of heart, I guess. He dragged me to Chuck’s then sent me to the convent alone, stayed behind to hold off the archangel. He’s probably dead.”
He turns, ignoring Bobby's wide-eyed, disbelieving stare in favor of staring out at the clear, dark sky through the windows. The world is ending, damn it. He wants thunder and lightning and blood falling from the sky, anything to distract him the storm rising in his own body, seeping through every inch of skin until his hands shake. He wants to kill something, wants to twist a knife in the devil’s chest and watch him die slow and painful.
He wants his brother back.
The adrenaline fades, leaving him hollow, worn down and worn out as he leans back against the edge of the counter. “We have to get him back,” Dean says quietly.
Bobby grunts, “What?” and Dean finally meets his eyes.
“Sam - we have to get him back. He didn’t say yes.” Dean clings to this frail hope like a lifeline, the only thing keeping him from giving up completely.
Bobby shifts his weight from one foot to the other. “Kid, there was a lot going on in that convent. At any point -”
Dean slams his empty glass down on the counter. “Damn it, Bobby, I was watching him the entire time. As soon as the cage opened, he couldn’t look away. I practically carried him to the door.” He shakes his head. “Lucifer, I don’t know, tricked him or something. Maybe the devil is an exception to the angelic rule.”
Bobby twists his hat back and forth on his head, and Dean’s eyes narrow.
“Bobby, I’m telling you – he didn’t say yes.”
“Yeah, okay, Dean. I hear you. We’ll find a way.” The expression on his face tells Dean otherwise, and he turns his back to Bobby, facing the wall. He pours another full glass of whiskey, finishing the bottle.
Protecting Sam - it’s the only thing he knows how to do, burned into him down to his bones the night the fire burned his entire life to the ground. He gave up his soul for his brother, would do it again if there was more than a snowball’s chance in hell of making a difference.
A pile of old, musty books drops on the table behind Dean, making him jump. A cloud of dust rises to the ceiling as the books smack against the wood, and he sneezes.
Bobby rolls his eyes. "Don't give me crap about allergies. You dig up corpses for a living. A couple of old books won’t kill you." He grabs the glass from Dean’s hand and shoves a cup of coffee at Dean’s face.
“Start reading,” he says, and Dean takes the offered mug with a sigh. He sits down, chair legs creaking beneath him as he reaches for the book on the top of the pile.
"What are we looking for, exactly?" Dean glances at the spine and licks his lips. He raises his eyes incredulously. "Bobby, this is a Bible."
"Anything that will tell us how to stop the devil." Dean stares at him warily, already foreseeing the hours of reading ahead of him, and Bobby smirks. "The page is already marked. Start reading."
Several hours, another several rounds of coffee, and numerous carefully turned, yellowed pages later, Dean glares at Bobby across the room. He almost chucks the Bible at his head.
"You find anything?" Bobby asks, looking up from his own book, and Dean scowls, slamming the Bible shut.
"Yeah, bupkis. Nothing but a whole lot of biblical mumbo jumbo we already know. Plagues and fires and six billion walking dead." Dean tosses the book onto the table with a gratifying bang and rubs his hand over his eyes, itching for another bottle of whiskey or a couple of beers, anything to chase away the memories of Lucifer standing over him wearing his brother’s body like a well-tailored suit.
He stands, blindly reaching up to touch the amulet around his neck. He runs his hand through his hair instead, shoving his other hand in his pocket to hide the tremors.
A hand on his shoulder stills him, and Dean turns. "We'll figure out a way to save him, Dean," Bobby murmurs, squeezing his shoulder. His eyes flicker away from Dean’s face to the wall behind Dean’s shoulder, but he nods anyway.
Dean takes to research with renewed vigor, reading every passage mentioning the devil with a careful observation that would put even his father to shame. He flips through several books at a time, frowning down at the words, making a copious number of notes in John's journal resting at his elbow.
Sam would be proud, once the initial shock passed, anyway.
Bobby closes his book with a thump. The sound grabs Dean’s attention, and he catches Bobby clasping his hands on the opposite side of the table out of the corner of his eye.
Dean looks up, arching an eyebrow in question. “What?”
“Something’s been bothering me about your story. How exactly did you get out of that convent alive?”
Dean shrugs, still not quite sure himself. With both of the Winchesters out of commission, the world would have been Lucifer’s to burn. “No idea. I mean, I thought I was dead the minute Sam turned around and it wasn’t -” He takes a breath, fingers tightening around the edge of the book in his hands. “I threatened him -“
“Of course you did,” Bobby mutters, rolling his eyes.
“- and I was sure he was going to kill me right there. But he let me go.”
Bobby blinks, shock quickly giving way to suspicion. “He let you go.”
“Yeah, just up and left without looking back. Why?”
Bobby shrugs, re-opening his book with more care than absolutely necessary. “Seems sort of fishy, don’t it? The devil just letting you go.”
Dean sighs, grumbling as he returns to his reading. “Jesus, Bobby, it’s like you wanted him to kill me.”
The words are barely out of his mouth before Bobby leans across the table and slaps him in the back of the head, hard enough that Dean yelps. “Don’t you put words in my mouth, boy. All I’m sayin’ is it seems mighty odd that Lucifer could have killed you without batting an eye and instead he let you go without a scratch.”
“A fact which can be easily remedied," says a familiar voice from behind them, and both Dean and Bobby whip their heads around. Dean automatically reaches for the gun in his waistband, but the weapon would be useless against this particular intruder.
"Oh, fantastic, the angels are here," Dean mutters, revolver cocked and at the ready, and the familiar position eases some of his nerves.
Zachariah grins smugly, clasping his hands in front of him. "Your brother appears to have allowed Lucifer to escape from his cage. Job well done." He steps forward, smile quickly sliding into that annoying, all-knowing smirk Dean has grown to hate. "Now, it's time to do your part."
"You can take my part and stick it where the sun don’t shine."
"You want to watch that temper with me," Zachariah says, eyes flicking towards Bobby; Dean freezes, blood running cold, but when Bobby doesn't immediately fall over, he releases the breath he was holding.
Zachariah begins circling the room and Dean automatically moves, keeping him directly in his sights. "You know, you could defeat Lucifer rather easily. All you need is Michael's sword. "
"That's a pretty direct statement for one of the heavenly host," Bobby deadpans. "What's the catch?"
Zachariah claps his hands together at his mouth, then points them at Dean, expression growing serious. “You are his sword, Dean.”
Dean almost falls to his knees, screaming to the heavens and begging for an answer as to why – why him, why Sam, why his family? Yet a part of him could see this coming from a mile away, and that keeps him on his feet.
"Find someone else,” he growls. “I’ll pass.”
Zachariah steps so close, he's practically spitting in Dean's face. "You don't have a choice, boy. Get it through that thick, dimwitted skull. The world is coming to an end. Lucifer walks the earth. Do you really think you can stop him by yourself?"
Dean opens his mouth to respond and no doubt get a swift metaphysical kick in the balls for his trouble, but then Zachariah’s eyes widen, fists clenching at his side. Dean hasn’t ever seen the angel so off-balance, and he follows Zachariah’s gaze to the other side of the room, immediately going still.
As Lucifer walks forward, Dean swears the lights grow brighter after a round of crazed flickering.
Bobby's eyes widen, hands going slack around the edge of the desk. "Sam," he whispers, and Dean doesn’t correct his mistake. Lucifer still hasn’t changed out of Sam’s clothes - the jacket with a torn seam from where Dean yanked too hard, worn jeans and a plaid shirt Sam has worn no less than a hundred times - and the strange sight throws Dean for a loop.
Lucifer’s eyes flick to Bobby for barely a moment before he turns that piercing gaze to Zachariah. “I think you would be surprised by what Dean can do,” he says with a grin, all lips and cold confidence that sends a chill down Dean's spine. Where Sam had a habit of leaning in doorways, ducking his shoulders to make himself look smaller, Lucifer holds himself at full height, filling the room with his presence. He moves with an easy grace that Sam never possessed as he paces around Zachariah, who mirrors Dean's earlier movements, turning to keep Lucifer in his sight.
"Oh, Zachariah, you haven't changed a bit. Still the same back-stabbing, self-righteous bastard you always were." Lucifer sighs and shakes his head. "No better than the humans, really."
"You would know all about turning your back, wouldn't you, Lucifer?"
Bobby reaches for Dean’s arm and squeezes tightly, the signal clear - Keep your trap shut. For once, Dean heeds his advice.
"This isn't what He would want," Lucifer hisses, stalking towards the other angel. The lights in the room begin to flicker, the air stifling and full of raw, unbridled power. Dean takes a few shallow breaths and glances over to see Bobby doing the same.
Zachariah laughs, momentarily forgetting their audience, as if Lucifer's words provide him unending amusement. "How could you possibly have any insight into God's thoughts? You disobeyed."
"I loved our Father more than you could possibly begin to fathom," Lucifer whispers, barely a breath. "He turned His back on me." The words carry the weight of two thousand years of abandonment and resentment, and Dean shakes himself, because this is not Sam, isn’t anyone even close to his brother. He refuses to feel sympathy for the freakin' devil.
"God is gone, Lucifer," Zachariah says, with all the patience of a squabbling sibling. Dean almost laughs, because that's exactly what this is - a family reunion, in all of its glorious dysfunction. "He isn't coming back."
For a moment, Lucifer's eyes narrow, muscles clenching, and all of the air leeches out of the room with one furious knot of his fist. Then, he exhales, and Dean chokes on a much needed breath.
Lucifer cocks his head to the side. "You know what that feels like now, don't you Zachariah? You're no better than I am." His smile turns into an all-out grin.
"I am nothing like you," Zachariah spits out vehemently, stepping straight up to Lucifer, who raises an eyebrow.
His lips quirk in amusement with the entire situation. "No? Wiping out the entire human race so you can have your paradise. Manipulating and sabotaging at every given moment. That sounds exactly like me."
"Well, at least he's honest," Dean grumbles, and Bobby squeezes his hand even tighter against Dean's arm. Lucifer and Zachariah both turn to look at Dean, one with fond amusement the other with exasperated annoyance.
Zachariah glares and with a gesture of his hand, Dean actually feels his lungs collapsing. Bobby chokes beside him, and he can't breathe no matter how hard he tries to drag air in through his mouth.
"I will teach you respect, you brainless, arrogant son of a -"
Zachariah flies across the room, wood and plaster cracking as his back smashes against the wall, and Dean falls to his knees, dragging precious air through his lungs. He raises his head; through blurry eyes, he watches Lucifer approach Zachariah. He flicks his wrist, sending the other angel sprawling to the ground, mouth stained with blood.
"You will not touch him," Lucifer bites out, quiet and dangerous.
"You would save him," Zachariah says incredulously. "History repeats itself, Lucifer. He will be your demise."
Lucifer snaps his fingers and Zachariah's head snaps to the side, neck cracking, mouth opening wide as his eyes glow white. Dean shuts his eyes, but the light still burns bright behind his closed eyelids.
"Maybe," Lucifer whispers, and Dean pries his eyes open long enough to see him lean down with a wry smile to close Zachariah's eyes. "Probably."
Bobby rises at Dean's side with an arm across his heaving chest when Lucifer appears across the room, pressing two fingers to his forehead. Bobby's eyes roll back in his head and he falls back to the ground, knees hitting the floor heavily.
"Bobby!" Dean shouts, but Lucifer holds a hand to his chest, keeping him back. Dean flinches, biting back a scream as white hot agony flares through his chest, making it impossible to breathe, to think, to do anything but stand there and withstand the force of Lucifer's power beneath his skin.
Lucifer withdraws his hand and Dean drops to the floor, heaving a gasping breath. His ribs ache from the inside out. "What did you do?" Dean pants, pressing his hand to his chest.
"Enochian sigil - I inscribed it onto your ribs. Now, no angel can find you without your consent. Not even me." He follows Dean’s gaze and gestures to Bobby still lying on the floor. "He is merely unconscious. He will awaken when I wish him to."
Dean glares, hand still clasped around his shirt. "I'm supposed to believe that you would help me fly under your own angelic radar?"
Lucifer crouches down in front of Dean and shrugs, far too agile and smooth for such a human gesture. "Believe me or do not believe me - I do not lie, Dean. I have no reason to lie, especially not to you."
"Why?" Dean asks, fighting to hold on to his anger despite the the desperation that seeps into his voice. "Why help me? Shouldn't you be trying to kill me, or didn't you hear - I'm the one that's supposed to kill you."
Lucifer fights back a smirk, eyes wide with affectionate exasperation, and the expression is so familiar, so Sammy, that it knocks the air from Dean's lungs. "You will not kill me, Dean, not while I look so much like Sam." Lucifer sweeps himself to his feet, clasping his hands in front of him - Lucifer, not Sam, and Dean tries to breathe again. "These events, they are... unfortunate."
Dean should keep his mouth shut. With one easy burst of power, Lucifer could wipe him off the map - he knows, but he can't help himself. "Unfortunate that you had to possess my brother? That you have to destroy the world?"
"You still don’t understand, but you will, Dean. I'm still not sure whether or not I should look forward to that day." Lucifer sighs, wistful for a moment before he shakes his head, leaning down to tap a finger to Dean's forehead.
Dean winces, waiting for the inevitable agony to come with that touch, but the pain never comes. Instead, Bobby groans, and Dean's eyes fly open to an empty room. Lucifer has gone, leaving nothing but a dead angel and the shadow of powerful wings, his words echoing in Dean's ears, and his touch still burning beneath Dean's skin.
Bobby sits up slowly; with one hand pressed to his head, he pushes himself up until his back leans against the side of one of the table legs.
“You okay?” Dean asks, and Bobby takes a deep breath in, wincing and pressing a hand to his side.
“Oh, I’m just peachy.” He groans and leans his head back. “What in the hell happened?”
“Lucifer put the whammy on you.”
“And?” Bobby arches an eyebrow as he attempts to get to his feet, using the table for added support. Dean grabs his arm, helping him to a standing position.
“Inscribed some angelic brand on my ribs.”
“That says what, I’m the devil’s bitch?” He turns to Dean, eyes narrowed. “Let go of my damn arm, I ain’t your prom date.”
Dean breathes a sigh of relief. He doesn’t move far, though, as Bobby sways before he gets his feet firmly under him.
“He said it means the angels can’t find me,” Dean explains. “Not even him.”
“Lucifer seems awfully fond of you,” Bobby says, and the total lack of sarcasm in the other man’s voice gives Dean pause.
Bobby shrugs his shoulders, moving more surely now. “I’m just sayin’ that for someone who’s supposed to be the vessel of his mortal enemy, he’s sure gone out of his way to keep you alive.”
Dean doesn’t say anything. He rubs absently at his chest, though the pain has long since faded. For a brief moment, he wonders if maybe the devil has accessed Sam’s memories, if some part of Sam is still alive, conscious of what Lucifer does, and able to influence his actions to some degree.
He shudders, pushing the thought firmly from his mind. “What now?” he asks, focusing on the problem at hand.
Bobby pulls open the door that leads downstairs. “Now, we get some damn shut eye and regroup in the morning.”
The panic room isn’t a permanent solution. The angels could still find Bobby as easily as any other person on the planet, and this is the most obvious place Dean would choose to hide. Despite the extra sigils Dean draws along the walls in chalk and no small amount of blood, they wouldn’t stand a chance against an archangel, never mind the devil himself.
“We can’t hide forever,” Dean says, brushing the chalk off of his hands.
Bobby tears one of the sheets on the edge of the cot into strips, handing one to Dean to press against the cut on his arm. “No, but we won’t be any use burned out either. So lay down and shut up.”
Bobby shoves him down onto the cot, then tosses a bedroll out onto the hard, concrete floor. Dean falls asleep as soon as his back hits the mattress, before he can utter a word of protest.
He opens his eyes moments later - but could just as easily be hours - to the sensation of someone staring at him in the darkness. He squints, allowing his eyes adjust, and finds Castiel standing over him at the foot of the cot.
"Cas," Dean says, rubbing a hand over his face. “How did you get in here?”
Castiel barely blinks. “It is not of consequence.”
"Thought you were dead," Dean says and throws his arm over his eyes.
Castiel stays still and silent. Dean groans, shifting his arm up and away from his face. "Cas?"
"Lucifer," Castiel says randomly, "His name means light bringer."
Dean startles as Castiel answers the internal question he never dared voice, why the devil brought light instead of taking it away. He doesn't offer up why Dean knows, deep down to his skin and bones, that so long as Lucifer destroys the world, it will end in an explosion of light instead of darkness.
"Who are you?" Dean blurts out, because something has gone very wrong here.
Castiel continues staring and doesn't move except to speak. "I am you, Dean. This is all inside of your head."
"You mean this is a dream."
Castiel frowns. "Not exactly."
Dean rolls his eyes, grumbling, "You know, you make as much sense as Kurt Cobain on an acid trip when I'm awake. You make even less sense while I'm asleep."
"Say yes or do not say yes. The time will come when it will not matter."
Dean stiffens and sits up, staring Castiel in the eyes - still that same emotionless expression he's become so familiar with, and yet... "What are you telling me?" Dean asks, the soles of his feet cold against the concrete floor as he stands.
"You still don’t understand." Castiel smiles, and Dean inhales sharply as the grin morphs into Sam’s face - Lucifer’s face. "You will soon. I promise."
Dean wakes up shaking. He wipes away the sweat beading at his temples and whispers a quiet but fervent, "Fuck," into the silence of the room.
He doesn’t sleep well after that; he spends the rest of the night tossing and turning, snatching sleep for a few minutes at a time before snapping into wakefulness. Eventually, he gives up and tosses his legs over the side of the cot. Bobby sleeps on, snoring quietly, dead to the world.
“Lucky bastard,” Dean grumbles as he makes his way upstairs. He starts a pot of coffee, staring out at the sun only just beginning to rise.
He couldn’t say exactly why this particular dream has disturbed him. Lucifer’s mind games don’t hold a candle to his memories of hell, but something about the entire situation seems familiar, annoyingly so, like a song he can’t stop humming but only remembers the tune of, not the words.
Dean shakes his head, rubbing his hands over his eyes.
“You’re up early.”
Dean glares, silently flipping him off with the hand still wrapped around his mug.
Bobby snorts, reaching around him for the coffee pot. “Yeah, good morning to you too, sunshine.”
A sudden rush of air at his back makes Dean turn, putting him face to face with Castiel. Dean flinches at his close proximity and takes a step back. He places a hand on Castiel’s shoulders, pushing him to arm’s length.
“Dude, how many times do we have to go over this? Personal space.”
“I am sorry,” Castiel says in his usual monotone voice. Dean sighs and pours himself another cup of coffee. He pauses in the middle of a scalding gulp, because not only is Castiel still alive, but with Dean’s fancy new anti-angel tattoos, he couldn’t have known they would still be here, and it was out of character for the angel to guess.
Dean lowers the mug. “How did you know where we were?”
“I received a voice message from Bobby this morning. He said you require my assistance,” Castiel says, blinking. “I was not occupied and therefore saw no reason to further delay my return.”
Dean glances at Bobby, eyebrows raised. “You called him?”
Bobby grunts. “Thought we could use the help, should he still be alive - seeing as he has a direct line to the heavenly host and all.”
“I am still unsure of how much help I can be,” Castiel says, and his face pulls into a grimace. “The garrison is not talking, at least not where I may overhear them.”
“They’re keeping you out of the loop.” Dean narrows his eyes in suspicion. “Why?
Castiel shakes his head with the barest hint of a smile. “I disobeyed, Dean. For an angel, this is simply not done.”
“What, you ask too many questions, you get the shaft?”
“I do not understand that reference, but if you mean that I am cut off from heaven, then yes. There is precedent.”
Dean crosses his arms, uncomfortable with the obvious comparisons between Castiel and Lucifer, despite any attempts by his subconscious to remind him of the same. He scratches idly at his arm, glancing at Castiel with a frown.
"How'd you survive the archangel? When you beamed me to the convent, Chuck's house was falling down."
"I did not survive," Castiel says, and Dean blinks, confused. "God saved me. And I am going to find Him. But I need your help."
"My help. With finding God." Dean rubs a hand over his mouth, biting back a groan. He's both physically and mentally exhausted. His brother is gone, and there’s little hope of ever getting him back. He just witnessed the beginning of the end of the world, all he wants is some shut-eye, maybe a couple shots of whiskey - leave the bottle, thanks - and Castiel wants to drag him on a goddamn pilgrimage.
"Cas, no offense - I'm glad you're alive and all but... are you aware that you sound seven kinds of crazy?"
"I am not asking you to come with me, Dean. All I need is your amulet."
"Why?" Dean clutches his hand around his neck immediately, almost offended by the suggestion.
"The amulet will burn hot in God's presence. I need it if I am ever going to find my Father." Dean doesn't let go of the amulet, but he purses his lips, debating.
Then, Castiel's face falls, his normally icy facade fading into something earnest and desperate. "Dean, please."
Dean sighs and pulls the cord over his head. He stares at the amulet sitting in his palm before handing it over to Castiel, who holds it almost reverently in his hands. Dean waits for him to slip the cord over his head, almost dreads the moment. Instead, he very carefully slips the amulet into his pocket, as if it was made of glass instead of metal.
"Thank you," Castiel says quietly. He stands up straight and unflinching, the familar, ever-obediant soldier. “This is the first place the garrison will look for you. You should consider leaving as well.”
Dean sighs and gestures towards the door, but Castiel has already gone, disappearing in the time he takes to blink.
"Well, now I feel naked," Dean mutters, scratching idly at his breastbone, uncomfortably empty without the heavy weight of the amulet - his only remaining link to his brother - on his chest.
“You know, he has a point,” Bobby says, glancing at Dean worriedly from the corner of his eye. “We’re sitting ducks here.”
“You have any bright ideas, you’re welcome to share them.” Dean lifts his mug, taking another sip of his coffee.
Bobby grabs the cup out of Dean’s hands, tossing it into the sink. “I ain’t the only brains in this operation, kiddo. You got somethin’ in that giant boulder resting between your shoulders. Use it.”
Dean leans back against the counter, staring down at his shoes. They need to move somewhere protected, more enforced than even the panic room, if such a place even exists. Somewhere angels can’t penetrate.
Or maybe just somewhere they won’t.
Dean bites his lip. The location isn’t optimal, but could work at least for a while. “I know a place,” he says, and Bobby raises his eyebrows.
“You gonna tell me sometime today, or am I going to have to guess?”
Dean rolls his eyes. “Chuck - his place is as safe from angels and demons as we’re going to get.”
Bobby considers this for a moment, then he nods. “No one wants to risk getting deep fried by an archangel.”
“That and his visions could give us some clue as to where Lucifer is headed next.”
"Great." Bobby slaps Dean on the shoulder, settling his hand there for a moment before turning away. "Let’s go pay the prophet a visit.”
Dean argues over taking both cars, the Impala and Bobby’s truck, protesting that they’d be safer if they didn’t split up. What he means is, You’d be safer because the angels aren’t after you, but he doesn’t say that aloud, knowing how well Bobby would take the suggestion.
Bobby sees straight through him, of course. “The angels can still find me, even if you’re as invisible to them as you can get.”
“They know I’ll be with you,” Dean argues, and Bobby scoffs.
“Which is why it don’t matter if we split up. Stop trying to coddle me and get in the damn car. Idjit,” he mutters, and Dean grins despite himself.
The smile fades almost as soon as he gets behind the wheel. With nothing else to distract him, his thoughts automatically circle back to Sam and those last few moments in the convent. If Bobby turns out to be right, and Sam did say yes, then there was even less hope of ever getting him back.
Dean clenches his hands on the steering wheel, practically biting a hole through his cheek. He focuses on the pain, a distraction grounding him. Where Sam is concerned, Dean will always find a way.
He opens the windows, blasts the radio as high as it can go, and tries to temporarily drown out the rest of the world.