Blank Pages: Web Of Lies
Sometimes, when he really has nothing better to do, Dean liked to think about alternate worlds. He knew they existed, he’d seen one. The one where they lost the fight for humanity and went down in a pathetic last stand sometime in the year 2014. It wasn’t pretty, and Dean hoped to God he’d never have to see it again.
But he liked to think about places like that, where things went just a little differently. Maybe there were worlds where his and Sam’s dad never died, where their mom never burned. Maybe there were worlds without the supernatural in them at all, and Dean and Sam went to college every day like good little boys, while Cass . . . Dean smirked, closing his eyes, Castiel is their counselor, maybe Gabe too. And Dean was too much of a chicken-shit to tell him he likes him.
Maybe there were a worlds where Gabriel came to their aide the first time around, instead of the last. Worlds where they not only won the War, but they did it stunningly with an archangel on their side. Worlds where Sammy didn’t have to die for everyone else to live. The thought made Dean swallow hard. There might even be hundreds of worlds like that.
There could be worlds where Adam was alive, where they hunted together, the three of them like it always should have been, instead of the youngest Winchester becoming that one they couldn’t save. Dean’s heart still clenched when he thought about it.
“Adam isn’t here anymore.”
Maybe there were worlds where he and Cass were married, the thought made him laugh, because he knew that in order for him to be married he must have been very, very hammered. And in Vegas. Maybe there were worlds where Sam never came back from Hell, and where Dean and Castiel moved on with their lives. He thought that while morbid, a world like that might, in time, be beautiful. There might be some really whacked world where Cass got cursed by witches to sang Brittany Spears songs all day and night for days on end. At this, Dean snorted back a guffaw and knew he’d been awake for way too long. There could be a world where the people of it were smart enough and pulled their heads out of their asses long enough that they realized not only did supernatural things exist, but Sam, Dean, and Cass had totally saved their lives. He had the sinking feeling that they were celebrities there, and he didn’t like that much at all.
Dean thought then that there might be worlds where he was a chick. Maybe some where Sam is a chick, or they’re both chicks. Maybe Cass is a chick in some world too. He rolled over on his stomach to look at the angel and decided that no matter how hot it would be, he liked the Castiel he had here and now best.
The angel was lying on his back, hands folded on his chest that rose in fell in the light breaths of sleep. Dean smirked to himself, because he finally had confirmation angels could sleep, and he planned to use that information to his evil advantage.
His mind going off a wild tangent, and he wondered if there were worlds where magic was the norm, like Harry Potter or something. Maybe there’s a world where Dean was a prince, and Castiel is his knight, and Sam is . . . A dragon? The image wormed it’s way into his head before he could stop it, and he had to hold back a giggle so as not to wake Cass up.
But Dean knew that no matter what, in all of them, all of them, Gabriel was a dick. No question about it. He looked at his watch, realizing it had been almost twenty-four hours since Sam and tiny Gabriel had vanished, and his unease still hadn’t gone away.
As if woken by the other’s anxiety, Castiel sat up suddenly, flexing his fingers against his knees and staring down at Dean, who simply blinked up in return. “They’ll be fine, you know,” he said softly, in that deep gravely voice that sounded so certain, even when Dean couldn’t see a way out.
The Hunter sighed, glancing away to look at the ceiling morosely, “So you’ve said.” He closed his eyes, unable to watch the vaguely hurt look cross the angel’s face, “It’s not that I don’t believe you, Cass, it’s . . .”
Castiel frowned, recalling Missouri’s words about Dean’s hesitations, “You don’t trust me,” he concluded. When Dean didn’t answer, he stiffened, “Is that really what it is? Dean, you know I-”
Dean bolted up, suddenly nose to nose with the other, “No, I knew. I don’t know anything anymore, Cass. For all the ranting you did back then, all the promises you made to stay by my side as long as I needed you, you left. You left, and just when I needed you the most.” He snarled and looked away, “So forgive me if I’m slow to place my faith in you anymore, Castiel.”
Castiel flinched, eyes narrowing as Dean spat out his name accompanied by the word faith. The word he’d first betrayed the Hunter with. It was a low blow. “You were the one who didn’t call me back!” he hissed in reply, “You were the one who went to that woman and her child as if you had a place there.”
“I did have a place there!” Dean fisted a hand around Castiel’s tie.
“You simply wished you did,” Castiel retorted sharply, “Because of a stupid promise to your brother.”
“I’ve lived off of stupid promises all my life!” Dean snapped, “A promise to kill the demon that slaughtered my mother. A promise to kill him when he killed my father. A promise to get my soul back from Lilith, apromise to stop the apocalypse before it started. A promise to save the world. And more than anything else, a promise to keep my fucking little brother safe!” He growled, baring his teeth, “And you made me promises too, except unlike me, you didn’t even try to keep them.”
“What was the point,” Castiel’s voice had lowered to a dangerous tone, “Of keeping a promise I was not given in return. I gave you everything, Dean. And I was given nothing. Not once did you promise me anything.”
Dean inhaled sharply, “I . . . I did so . . .”
“Not once,” Castiel repeated, “Did you make a promise you had any intention to keep. You promised to side with the angels no matter what. We both broke that one, so I don’t hold it against you. After that, you promised to help me find my Father. You barely even tried. You promised never to say yes to Michael, but you did.”
“And I promised not to let you die a virgin,” Dean added.
Castiel rolled his eyes, “Unfulfilled.”
“Only because you’re a prude,” Dean whined. He paused, realizing he still had a hand around the angel’s tie and tightened his grip on it. The Hunter dragged Cass towards him slowly, “Missouri said all angels can show their wings.”
“We can,” Castiel confirmed.
“Why am I not allowed to see yours then?” Dean tilted his head to the side and moved a hand to touch between the angel’s shoulder blades, watching in wonder as Castiel took in a sharp breath. “Is it like some sort of angel private part?” He grinned at the thought, “Then fair’s fair, isn’t it? It’s not like you’ve never seen me shower before.”
Castiel blushed and Dean smirked at his embarrassment, “That was one time, when I miscalculated my landing. It was an accident.”
Dean laughed, “And I’m sure you’ll claim that till the day you die. And I’ve seen your wings before, right? The day we met? Just the shadows though. And back in April during the apocalypse.”
The angel’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, “In April? I didn’t-”
“-Have any wings then,” Dean finished, tone low, “I know. You don’t remember that night, do you. The night you lost them?” He waited a heartbeat, watching the expression on Cass’ face freeze, the angel growing utterly still, “Sam freaked out when you started screaming, bleeding from your shoulders. He said he could see your wings falling out. Why couldn’t I?”
“I don’t remember this,” Castiel breathed.
“You were kinda out of it. Bobby locked you in the Panic Room, and I stayed with you until you stopped bleeding. It was just a little over a day, and after that Sam said he couldn’t see your wings anymore.” He stopped, “Why could Sam see them?”
“Sam had faith,” Castiel answered instantly.
Dean snorted, “As always. That’s what makes him special.” He made a face, pressing the pads of his fingers against Castiel’s right shoulder blade and leaning back a bit to watch him shudder, “But what’s wrong with showing me? Telling me your secrets?”
“You never tell me yours,” Castiel said haughtily, too which Dean raised an eyebrow.
“You know every single itsy bitsy detail of my life, Cass. And I know nothing about you, and you know it.” Using his hand on Cass’ back he tumbled the angel onto the mattress, hovering over him on hands and knees, smirking as Castiel’s blue eyes widened. He hooked his forefinger into the other’s tie, loosening it, “I wanna see your wings.”
For a heartbeat Castiel stared up at him as he lay there unmoving, before he reached his hands up, sliding them across Dean’s shoulders with the Hunter’s eyes watching his every movement. He closed his eyes, digging his heals into the comforter as his back arched, light erupting from his upper spine, uncurling and spreading outwards until Dean was forced to look away for fear of going blind. When he looked again a pair of gossamer white wings were unfurling across the mattress underneath the angel. They stretched from wall to wall in their span, and Dean inhaled as ivory feathers drifted into the air from the motion, little tufts of down. Castiel’s eyes opened, his chest rising and falling with rapid breaths as he locked eyes with Dean, waiting for a reaction.
“Oh . . . Jesus . . .” Dean breathed, awed. He ran a finger across one of the nearest primaries on Castiel’s left wing, the angel following him with his eyes and shivering at his touch. The wings were almost the exact opposite of Gabriel’s. Where the archangel’s feathers had been shades of dark midnight blacks and grays, Castiel’s were pure white, and even shadows seemed to get lost in their glow. “They’re beautiful, Cass,” Dean whispered, leaning down to tuck his chin between the angel’s neck and shoulder. He ran his fingers through the feathers slowly, taking time to savor the tickle of power he felt race from the tips of his fingers throughout his whole body with every little touch.
Gabriel lay on his stomach, taking no notice of Sam inside the memory as the Hunter paced the length of the small room over and over again. If the Hunter thought about it, it really wasn’t often inside this world of the past that Gabriel paid attention to him, and Sam had to wonder if the times when he did were a coincidence, or simply times when he was strong enough to break away and not get wrapped up in the memories. This was not one of those times.
A young man pushed back a rice paper door as he sidled into the room, holding a needle in one hand and a bowl of simple black ink in another. This was the third day Sam had spent in this particular memory, the longest thus far aside from the night they’d stayed in Pompeii. Gabriel craned his head over his shoulder when the man entered, frowning at the bowl and needle, “You know, for something so simple it sure hurts a lot.”
The man laughed, the sound reaching Sam’s ears from the other side of the room and sounding more like a yip than a chuckle. “My friend, it is far from simple,” he gestured to his handiwork already etched across the archangel’s back, almost finished. Great sweeping lines and curves marked out the design of the each individual feather of the wing tattoos on Gabriel’s back, stretching from the base of his neck to just below the top of his hips. This wasn’t the first time Sam had seen them. “Each feather has the binding spell written out in Enochian, too small for the human eye to see,” the man went on, sounding immensely proud of himself.
“Hurts like a bitch though, Kiba-san,” Gabriel growled, gritting his teeth as the man brought the needle to his skin again.
“It wouldn’t be working if it didn’t,” Kiba huffed, his laugh once again sounding like the yip of a small dog to Sam, who kept his distance. Unlike a traditional Japanese man, Kiba had cloudy gray hair and bright, tinted autumn red in some places, gold eyes peering out from his bangs, Sam knew what he was in a heartbeat. “The ink must bind with your Grace in order for a spell this strong to hold,” he went on.
“It had better hold,” Gabriel warned.
“It will,” Kiba promised smoothly as he dipped the needle into the ink and brought it back to Gabriel’s skin again. “No one knows better about deceit and trickery than my people, Tenshi-sama. You came to the right place when you sought my help. It is simply too bad you choose not to stay among my kind.”
Gabriel shook his head, resting his chin on his folded arms across the edge of the table he lay on, “Your people are not gods, Kiba. I seek the power only a deity can offer.”
“My home has no true god,” Kiba murmured in understanding, “We believe in nature, and the people of it, like my family.”
“It’s better that way,” Gabriel assured softly. “What do you think, Kiba-san? I’m trying to decide between middle east and the lands up north.”
Kiba smirked, “I wouldn’t know what to decide, Tenshi-sama, I have never left this land.”
“I’m thinking north,” Gabriel went on lightheartedly. “As soon as I’m done here of course. Can’t have any of the higher god peoples seeing my wings. They seem to have this thing against angels and my Father in general.”
“They fear your power.”
“And yet the people fear theirs,” Gabriel muttered. “It’s a weird world we’re in, Kiba-san.”
The fox demon raised an eyebrow, lifting his needle with a smile, “Yes, it is.”
Sam had only faced a Kitsune once before, when he was younger. A minor Trickster, a thousand times less powerful than Gabriel or any pagan god, but a pain in the ass all the same. Sam didn’t like them, and as the Kitsune looked up their eyes met for a breath. The world tilted away.
When Sam blinked, he found himself standing on a plain of grass, wind whipping up around him fierce and fast and dark clouds roiling above. Gabriel was standing ahead of him a ways, arms spread as he stared up into the stormy sky, screaming something Sam couldn’t hear over the howl of the wind. Wrapping his arms around himself the Hunter pressed forward, struggling to Gabriel’s side.
“Hellooooooo!” Gabriel screamed into the wind, “I know you’re here, Farbauti! I’ve come to ask a favor! Remember that one time I kinda swooped in and saved your idiot son Byleistr from running over the edge of a cliff during your last war? Well time to pay up!” The angel lowered his arms, annoyed as the storm rage on above him, “Hello!?”
Sam nearly had a heart attack when a jag of lighting snaked down from the sky and struck the ground only inches from Gabriel’s foot. The archangel merely grinned, while Sam pounded a hand to his heart off to the side, unnoticed. “There we go,” he said, breathless in a way that made Sam think he was excited. “Farbauti! I’d like it if you could take me in, as a favor to an old friend. Tell the others I’m your son, and I will act it every day for the rest of my life, I swear upon my own Father. I will be yours in any war, loyal to your people as true as I am to my own. I simply ask to be granted that status and power.”
The ground shook beneath Sam’s feet and he jumped back as roots erupted from the soil, ensnaring Gabriel’s ankles. A tree began to sprout from the grass, twisting up the angel’s lower legs as it raised him towards the sky a good couple dozen feet. While Sam panicked below, Gabriel simply smiled, triumph echoing across every inch of his face. The clouds crackled and lightning streaked down, striking the new tree and Gabriel wrapped up in it. Sam gasped, hands to his mouth as the entire thing lit on fire, angel and all, the flames arcing up towards the sky until they disappeared a puff of smoke and ash, leaving a large ring of soot across the grass.
And at it’s center stood Gabriel, hands still raised, palms open towards the sky. Slowly, he closed fingers to his wrists, a long, low laugh starting to escape him. The sound made Sam shudder as it rose and fell, strong over the shrieking wind. And with every note sparks flew from the already burned out soot, dancing even as rain started to pelt the ground from the clouds above. And the angel laughed and laughed. No, Sam corrected, not the angel. The Trickster. Loki.
Loki the Wildfire.
A/N: Dean alludes to a bunch of my favorite SPN Fanfics in this chapter.
. Listed here in order of mention.
A Cold Academic Hell by Moorishflower
Every Team Free Love themed fic ever. Seriously. Why didn’t Gabe just jump onto Ship Team Free Will from day one?
The What Happens In Vegas Series by DauntPerplexity
Strike Me Down And I’ll Become More Powerful Than You could Possibly Imagine by ???? (Sorry, can’t find a name on my copy).
Party Like It’s 1999 by ??? (Again, blank where Author name would be. Might‘ve been from the Secret Angel Exchange at some point or another.)
I Wanna Be Famous (also from the SAE, and I am too lazy to track down the author.)
The Mirror by CloudyJenn
Epic by ??? (Another SAE. Sorry.)