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[personal profile] daymarket
Title: Stairway From Zion
Rating: R
Warnings: Mentions of torture. Violence, war scenes, cursing, drug withdrawal, medical experimentation, species prejudice, sex.
Wordcount: 63k
Summary: Orwellian AU. During the same raid that had Castiel crashing through the windshield of Dean’s getaway car, Dean loses both Sam and Anna to the hands of the angels. Human and angel should hate each other as circumstances dictate, but life has a funny way of changing the preordained path.


The next twenty-four hours are a blur. The others, naturally, are skeptical as to the veracity of the information Castiel provides. There’s always that probability that Castiel’s lying to them or at the very least, badly mistaken. But Dean knows that he’s not the only one to lose loved ones to the Nest of Love, and eventually, Dean manages to wrangle a small, six-men crew to help him break in. It sounds like a ridiculously small number, but it makes sense after some thought—they don’t have a prayer of freeing the prisoners there by sheer force, so stealth is their only option. Dean will take what he can get.
 It’s not that simple, of course. Very little ever is.
“Did you know all this time?” Dean asks Castiel when he finally has a spare moment. Castiel’s sitting on their bed, and the only reaction to Dean’s question is a sharper-than-usual inhalation, not enough to be called a gasp.
“I knew,” Castiel says. His voice is inflectionless and perfectly calm. “The Nest of Love is nothing if not rigid in its structure.”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
A long silence. Finally, Castiel says, “Did I have reason to?”
“Yes,” Dean says, exasperated. “All this time, Cas! You know how important Sam is to me. Didn’t you think I’d jump at any chance to save him?”
“Yes,” Castiel says. His eyes flick up to look briefly at Dean’s before looking away. “To the exclusion of all else.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Dean snaps. “He’s my brother. Do you expect me to just forget him?”
“I notice that you’ve stopped petitioning on Joe and Ryan’s behalf, now that you have news of Sam,” Castiel says blandly. “One wonders what other things you’ve dropped for your brother.”
“For your information, I told Ellen about what Dr. Robert’s doing, too,” Dean says. He sits down heavily on the bed next to Castiel, studying the angel’s impassive face. “As soon as I get back, I’m going to bust that guy’s sorry ass. And I’ll have you know that I put in a good word for Gabriel with Ellen, too. So I haven’t forgotten about them.”
“Obviously not.” Castiel’s voice is as cool as if he were talking about the weather.
“Cas,” Dean says tiredly.
Castiel’s hands twitch slightly, and Dean’s eyes are drawn to the movement. Impulsively, Dean reaches out and stills the movement with his hand over Castiel’s, interlacing their fingers together in a tight grasp. “What’re you afraid of?” Dean asks quietly.
Castiel turns his face away. “You should concern yourself with Sam.”
“I am,” Dean says. “I have. I always will. Doesn’t mean I can’t spare a minute here or there to wonder about you.”
“Angels as a rule are remarkably one-dimensional,” Castiel says flatly.
Dean snorts. “I’m sick of that tired argument, Cas.”
“It’s what I am.”
“It’s what you hide behind when you’re scared. It’s what I accuse you of when I’m pissed. That’s unfair, and I’m sorry.” The words are surprisingly easy to get out, and he presses on, needing Castiel to hear every word. “But it’s not true, and we both know it.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Castiel murmurs.
Dean shakes his head, surprised by the sudden vehemence rising in him. “You’re not an angel,” he says sharply, needing to hear the confirmation. “I sure as hell wouldn’t be doing this if you were,” he adds before leaning in and demanding a possessive kiss from Castiel’s lips. Castiel holds out for a few seconds, but as Dean reaches up to pull on that mussy black hair, he gives out a small sigh and yields to Dean’s hold. They fight for dominance for a moment before the kiss gentles almost as if by mutual decree, drawing a soft, breathless moan from Castiel. Dean savors the taste of Castiel, pressing in greedily before he finally has to pull away for air.
Castiel turns his face away as Dean leans in again. “It’s not just about that,” he says. His pupils are dilated and his lips are red, but he still manages to speak calmly.
“Then what is it about?” Dean presses.
Dean tilts Castiel’s chin up, refusing to let him look away. Castiel hesitates for a moment before his gaze flicks to up meet Dean’s. Castiel still has that angel Look that scrutinizes Dean from head to toe, but Dean’s capable of standing up to it now, or maybe because he’s got nothing to hide. “I am…redundant,” Castiel says at last, very quietly. “I had information of value. Now you know what I do, and there’s no point in this anymore.”
“Fuck,” Dean says feelingly. “I wasn’t keeping you around to weasel intel out of you, Cas! That was never the point. Why should anything change now that I know?”
“Not two minutes ago you were demanding to know why I didn’t tell you sooner,” Castiel says softly. “Sam comes first in your life. I understand that, Dean.”
Dean shakes his head. “Cas—what the hell do you think we’ve had all this time? You think I’m just going to throw that away?”
“You were missing a piece, as was I. Circumstances made the arrangement expedient.”
“You’re not a fucking substitute for Sam,” Dean says, exasperated. “Why is this an either-or situation, Cas?”
“Isn’t it?”
The intensity of the question takes Dean by surprise. He leans back for a moment, thinking how best to order the chaotic swirl of thoughts in his head. Castiel watches him, blue eyes steady and unwavering. Finally, Dean says, “Come with us, Cas.”
Castiel tenses—almost imperceptible, but Dean can feel the change in tension. “To the Nest of Love.”
“If you want to, I mean.” He takes a deep breath. “I wouldn’t feel right without you to back me up.” He reaches out, twines his fingers through Castiel’s. “I want you with me. Sam’s a part of me, yeah, but it wouldn’t feel right without you there.”
“You’ve survived without me this long.” Castiel’s voice is closed off, indicating nothing one way or another. “I doubt your companions would be happy to have an angel along. My own brethren will not be pleased, either. I’ve betrayed the Host in more ways than one.”
Dean sighs. “Do you trust me, Cas?”
There’s a brief moment of hesitation, and then Castiel says softly, “Insofar as an angel can trust a human, yes.”
It’s not exactly a declaration of undying love, but Dean accepts it. “Then we’ll stand together,” he says, quietly but firmly. “Whatever problems crop up, we’ll deal with them as they come, but without this stupid angel-human shit clogging up between us.”
“The ‘stupid angel-human shit,’” Castiel says slowly, and Dean smiles a little at hearing him swear, “is what makes us who we are. The rules that create order.”
“And the prejudices, the discrimination, the morons trying to punch your lights out because of what you are,” Dean says, shaking his head. “Sticking by something because it’s the way that things have always been done makes no sense.”
“And you see us as the revolutionaries who bring about a new world order?” Castiel asks, and there’s a definite dry note to his voice now. “We’re certainly the ones to do it, then.”
“Well, if a stick-in-the-mud angel can master sarcasm, I’d say anything is possible,” Dean says, grinning slightly. “And by the way, yes. Someone’s got to do it. And who better than an emotionally constipated human and a fallen angel?”
Castiel’s silent for a long moment. Dean wraps his arms around Castiel and holds him tight as Castiel begins to shake, hardly noticeable at first, but growing with an intensity born of fear, uncertainty, but ultimately, relief. When Castiel’s gained back some of his control, Dean reaches out, gently easing the trenchcoat from his shoulders. “Dean—” Castiel breathes softly as he presses a kiss into Dean’s palm.
“Cas,” Dean says quietly in reply.
Tomorrow, they’ll save Sam. Tonight, their names tied together seem to linger in the air, enough that nothing else needs to be said. 

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