Unlike the other leviathans, who had the courtesy to go catatonic when they were beheaded, the bastards riding Cas would not stop talking. Sam finally duct taped its mouth shut in the belly of Bobby’s saferoom, and surrounded the head with every glyph and supernatural deterrent they could think of: salt, holy fire, even a ring of Borax (bless the Sheriff’s cleaning habits). It gurgled and bled and chewed at the tape but was otherwise blissfully incoherent, which was as close to peace and quiet as the boys could hope for.
Peace and quiet being, for Dean, most of a bottle of scotch, and his brother’s unsteady breathing next to him; Sam wasn’t sure whether he preferred the head’s chattering to the devil screaming showtunes in his ear.
“How long are we supposed to wait?” He asked, to pass the time.
“‘Till either the angels show up or the rest of the big mouths put two and two together and come to kill us all,” Dean grunted, shifting his grip on his shotgun. Or till you’re a drooling mess and I finally manage to drown myself in alcohol, he wanted to say, but it seemed a bit like stating the obvious, so he finished his glass instead. The booze kept his hands steady, which was a small blessing; Sam was jumpier than usual next to him, flinching at shadows.
“And we’re sure this will work?”
“No,” Dean snapped, “but when are we ever?”
The head suddenly fell completely still, not even pulling the peculiar whistle of air through its throat. It might have been the flickering of the holy fire reflecting off the black tar, but Dean could have sworn he saw red blood begin to ooze from the stump of its neck. The boys looked at each other, then back to the head.
“…I’m sure we don’t need it alive,” Sam said uncertainly.
“We should check on it anyway, though,” Dean replied, making no move to stand.
Sam made an affirming noise, but suddenly pushed himself back against the wall in a fearful jolt. “You’d better look,” He said tightly, averting his eyes. “Pretty sure I’m an unreliable witness right now.”
“Alright,” Dean passed him the bottle. “Take it easy.” He shouldered his shotgun, walking around the circle until he could look the thing in the face. “Hey, dickwads, you still in there?”
But what looked back was clear-eyed, blue, and solid, if very confused.
“Sonofabitch,” Dean almost dropped his shotgun stepping into the ring of burning holy oil. “Cas? Cas, is that you?” He knelt, careful not to break the circles, and ripped off the duct tape, cradling the head between his hands. “Don’t worry, buddy, I’ve got you. I’ve got you.” His thumbs stroked back the hair of his temples. “You’re out, you’re clear. They can’t reach you anymore. Come on, man, tell me you’re still in there somewhere.” Come on, you bastard, say something. ‘Hello, Dean,’ or ‘that was unpleasant,’ or some dirty joke in Enochian that nobody gets—-shatter the windows if you have to. Just let me know you’re in there. Let me know it’s you.
Castiel frowned up at him, searching his face with fearful trepidation, lips parted pale and trembling. His gaze finally settled on Dean’s collarbone, as if he didn’t trust himself to look anywhere else.
“Okay,” Dean conceded, “okay, so you’re short a pair of lungs. That’s okay. I can lipread, sort of. Tell me what you need. Uh, hemlock? Myrrh? Lamb’s blood?” He started to babble, and the tremble returned to his hands, dammit, not now. “Come on, Cas, you gotta tell us what to do here.”
The angel’s mouth set in a grim line. His eyes flickered up to his, focused on him, his expression intense and unreadable. There was something there—something important—but it was like he was looking up from the bottom of a well.
“Dean,” Sam cautioned.
“It’s okay,” He said, not looking up. Sam watched his brother’s shoulders slump as he settled onto the ground, holding Castiel’s head in his lap. “It’s okay. We can fix this, Cas. I promise.”
[continued in part 2.]