An Angel's Grace

Cas stared in shock as Lucifer was expelled from him by a very familiar face. Gabriel was alive.

And pissed.

"Little brother, what did you do? I mean, Lucifer? Really? I thought you knew better…"

Castiel shook his head and said, "It was the only way to save Dean…to save all of them."

Gabriel shook his head in response.

"Oh, who do you think you're fooling, bro?" He then flashed him a humorless grin and added, "There's a reason I'm here. I'm an archangel and I don't die that easy. You really thought I was dead? I'm flattered, but no. Besides, Dad got a hold of me and told me a few enlightening tidbits; like, how you're our only shot at defeating the Darkness."

Cas looked confused.

"Me? But…I'm not important. I'm…just a soldier."

Gabriel laughed.

"Oh, sure! Just a soldier. Which is why Dad decided to keep on bringing you back from the dead, over and over again, because you're 'just a soldier'. Hello-oo!" he sang, snapping his fingers in front of Cas's face. "You're the Chosen One of angels, Cassie. What do you think happens to an angel whochooses to fall, to side with humanity…for the right reasons?"

Cas stared at him blankly and Gabriel let out an exasperated sigh.

"Father, do I have to spell it out for you? You gain a soul!"

He paused for dramatic effect and then continued.

"Now, an angel with a soul, well…that's Darkness kryptonite, right there! You see, Cassie, angel grace on its' own is pretty damn powerful, but in the end it's not anchored to anything and can be taken away, just like that." He snapped his fingers again for emphasis and then knelt down to Cas's level, and looked him straight in the eye. "But if that grace were ever, oh, I don't know…anchored? Like, say, by a newly formed soul? Oh, little brother…"

He stood back up, looking and sounding like the archangel that he truly was.

"Not only is it dangerous to the Darkness, but when it's also been touched by our Father, it becomes something so pure that not even that bitch, Amara, can touch it."

Just as he finished his words, an all too familiar bearded face appeared next to Castiel and placed his hand on his shoulder.

"Hello, Castiel."

Cas's eyes snapped up.

"Chuck? But…but you're…" And then Gabriel saw clarity dawn on his brother's ruggedly handsome features and he smiled at the next word to leave Castiel's lips.

"…Father?"

"Yes, Castiel. Now, I know you have a lot of questions, but we don't have much time…"

And then, as if summoned by those words, Dean and Sam burst through the door of the warehouse. Dean yelled out, "Cas!" and tried to run towards him, but Gabriel held him back with a flick of his wrist.

"Dean, now's not the time to check up on your boyfriend. Cassie's just fine. It's just time for him to make a choice."

Dean and Sam both struggled against Gabe's power, but fruitlessly, both of them looking more than a bit confused at seeing the archangel alive and not a burnt husk of feathers on the pavement, as well as seeing Chuck. Gabriel looked at his Father, who just gave him a faint nod of approval, and then looked back at Cas.

"Castiel," he began, his voice soft and unassuming. "I know everything that you've gone through to retrieve your grace…but now you have to make a choice. If you can give up your grace, you can save not only everyone…but Dean, as well." Cas looked embarrassed at his Father's words, but Chuck only gave him a reassuring smile and grasped his shoulder once more, helping him to his feet as he said, "Don't be ashamed, Castiel. I am so proud of you. The fact that you have fallen in love with the Righteous Man only tells me that I chose the right angel to raise him from the Pit."

Castiel finally seemed to find his voice, and asked, "Why my grace, Father?"

Chuck gave him a half smile, that was tinged with regret.

"Because it has been touched not only by my hand…but also by Dean Winchester's hand." Castiel tilted his head, and his Father explained. "When you lifted Dean from Hell, he wasn't the only one who was marked, Castiel…you were, too." He pressed a hand to Castiel's chest. "Here."

Gabriel glanced over at Dean and Sam, who could hear every word of what was being said, and he saw the look on the older hunter's face, and that was when he knew. The love wasn't one sided. Hell, Dean was still fighting against Gabriel with every fiber of his being, and Gabe could feel the tugging at his strings just on the edge of his periphery. Dean was trying to get to his angel; he was trying to save him.

"That kind of mark," Chuck continued, "Is rare. A human soul should not be able to mark an angel's grace, but he did, and, because of that, because of the purity of these two marks, Amara can be bound. She can be put back where she belongs; away from the world. I need to know, Castiel…can you give up your grace to save the world?"

Dean yelled at him from where he was pinned against the wall, his voice hoarse, as he could do nothing else, saying, "Don't do it, Cas! We'll find another way. You don't have to die for this…!"

Castiel looked over at Dean, his eyes going soft for a moment…and then looked back at his Father.

"If…if I do this," he said, tentatively, "What will happen to me?"

Chuck gave him a soft look.

"Because you have a soul, you will be mortal. Human, Castiel. Now, I'll only ask you one more time, because I know you know your answer. Can you give up your grace to save the world I have created?"

Cas looked back at Dean and then back at Chuck.

"No."

Dean looked relieved, but then his eyes snapped back up when Cas then said, in a voice filled with such conviction that there was no doubt in anyone's mind that it was true, "I cannot give up my grace to save the world…but I can give it up to save Dean."

He then lifted his hand towards his Father and carefully slit his palm with the angel blade he kept up his sleeve, letting his grace trickle into a small vial that Chuck held in his hand.

Dean and Sam looked on in shock as Castiel gave up everything that made him an angel and handed it over to his Father, who then gave Gabriel a look and he let go of the brothers.

As soon as they were set free from their invisible bonds, Dean was the first to rush to Cas's side, who had collapsed on the ground from the effort it took to let go of his grace.

"Cas," Dean brokenly whispered as he pressed a hand to Castiel's face. "Why…why'd you do it? We, we could have found another way…"

Cas stared at him.

"I did it for you, Dean. All of it…it's always been for you. I thought you'd understand that by now…"

Sam said nothing, and everyone in the room could see the play of emotions that washed the older hunter's face…and they were all taken off guard when Dean suddenly leaned in and pressed a firm kiss to Castiel's lips.

"Dammit, Cas," he whispered. "I'm not worth it."

"Yes, you are, Dean. You always have been…"

Gabriel stared and then looked back at his Father, who was smiling at the scene before him, looking pleased at the outcome of events. He then looked at Gabriel and said, "I would like to have one of my sons by my side for this fight. Are you willing to go into battle one more time, Gabriel?"

The whiskey eye angel smiled, a smirk on the corner of his mouth.

"Bring the bitch on."


THE END