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03 February 2013 @ 08:41 pm
While Angels Watched: To Keep Thee In All Thy Ways (Chapter 5)  
Dean’s desperate struggles gained him no ground, and it soon became obvious that no amount of begging, bargaining, or grappling was going stop his corkscrew journey through the tunnel

A/N: I’m a broken record, but I’m unrepentant! Thank you to Numpty and NongPradu for their excellent beta! If you like sick!teen!Dean stories, you should read Nong’s “My Father’s Favourite”. It is absolutely one of my favorite fanfics ever. Thank you also to Beckydaspatz as ever for her wonderful commentary on this story. You’re the best, puddin’!

While Angels Watched

Chapter Five
To Keep Thee In All Thy Ways




**O**


Dean’s struggle gained him no ground, and it soon became obvious no amount of begging, bargaining, or grappling was going to stop his corkscrew journey through the tunnel; there was no way to break the gravitational pull it had on both his body and mind. It proved an irresistible force, and his panic and fear for himself and his family only deepened as he plummeted toward that shining globe.

The Light pervaded each of his senses, taste, touch, sight, sound—even his sense of smell. Dean discerned the vague essence of summer rain on warm asphalt, a scent that he didn’t even know he could distinguish let alone find to be something familiar and comforting. Yet he did. The rays of the Light burst forth as he approached, and despite the terror, his soul leapt at the beauty. And as he rocketed forward, it felt as though his very core was igniting like the coma of a sunward comet, and suddenly, all in an instant, his anxiety was displaced with joy and delight and he could remember every thought he’d ever had and experience every moment that he’d ever spent and feel every hurt he’d ever known and connect with everything that had ever held meaning and value for him—the gloss of the sun on the Impala, his dad’s rare but infectious laugh, Sammy’s dimpled smile, the smell of his mother’s clean, warm neck, Bobby’s kitchen in the morning—it was all right there in that brilliant, infinite radiance, and the shine of it, its rays now stretching as vast as the universe, filled his vision and his heart, and it drew him in and he felt no more fear and he no longer resisted—no, not even a little bit—and he flew straight at the Light with everything he was and with everything he ever would be and with everything he had to give, and he fell into it and it burst around him and through him and became him. And for one limitless, eternal, cosmic second in time, his consciousness bubbled and expanded far beyond the confines of Dean Winchester and the life he’d lived, and he knew everyone else’s life, too, and everything there ever was to know—past, present and future, right down to the number of sand-grains in the Sahara and he knew peace for the first and only time in his life—and then…

He was on his knees, nascent and fawn-like, his head bent to the floor, struggling to rise but unable to do so until the inclination left him entirely and he stopped fighting and he slept, or experienced something very close to sleep. And his mind slowly unfolded and settled, recovering from the overwhelming ecstasy it had suffered, and Dean felt the cool floor beneath his cheek. And it was enough. It was one small, solid something to lean against, to help him realize that he might also be solid and tangible. There was no way to know how long he’d lain prostrate and quivering like a tuning fork, no way to be sure if a thousand lifetimes had flown past him or none at all. He slowly returned to himself, his consciousness narrowing until it filled only the small space that he occupied. And as he lay there feeling like an overwatered cactus, his perceptions diminished and he could no longer remember what he’d known in that strange second, only that he had known all that there was to know, and even that understanding was now beginning to wither. He slipped onto his side and then rolled until he was on his back, looking up at nothing, spent and gulping in the white light, and it was better than any air he’d ever tasted. He felt exhausted, as though he’d been hurled around the sun and back. And he closed his eyes and he slept again.

He was still floating softly when he felt the tidal pull of awareness. Opening his eyes once more, he lifted his hands to his face just to see if they were still there, to gauge if he still existed or not. They were there, as crisp and sharply visible as those people he’d seen back in the operating room. That was a relief. He turned his hands over and studied the backs of them as well. He was mindlessly examining a small hangnail that he’d noticed for the first time, when he heard a small ruffle or flutter of movement off to his right.

“Dean Winchester,” a low, musical voice said. “You should not be here.”

Dean sat up and turned in the direction of the voice. He was not necessarily afraid at first, but it surprised him to find that he was not alone. Time stuttered and stretched as he beheld the being. The creature evoked the same type of response that Dean had experienced upon seeing the Light. The sight of the entity was too profound, too absolute, too infinite to process, and tears spilled from the boy’s eyes at the sheer majesty of it. His senses were overwrought and emotions that had long been ignored, bottled and subdued sprang forth until they could no longer be managed, and Dean held his hands up to his face and shielded his eyes from the creature, cowering and trembling. He remained that way until he perceived a shift, and the light and power diminished and the dread lifted enough so that Dean could tolerate being in its presence. He finally moved his hands and lifted his eyes again.

It was a spirit of sorts—maybe of human origin—it definitely had human form: legs, arms, head, a vague sense of hair, eyes, nose and mouth. The face was at once familiar and alien. But Dean could not quite take in or capture its unique features by looking straight at it. All the details were in the periphery. The effect was not unlike looking at a star in the night sky. Dean had always found that the longer he stared at a star, the more undefined and vague it appeared. It was not until he would look away or just past it that the star could be seen clearly again. And so it was with the creature he now faced. Dean had to circle his vision around and to the sides to get a clean view of the being. The figure was masculine, Dean decided, not necessarily due to any outward appearance, but instead he based his assumption upon the rather virile quality that the creature exuded. It was comforting and nurturing, but the feeling was more like the worn seats of the Impala rather than anything overtly feminine or maternal. It was definitely male or was currently operating at that frequency.

The entity looked to be made of the same numinous radiance that Dean had experienced in the Light, but enough of its potency had been quelled so that the boy could still function. The creature seemed solid at first glance, but the longer Dean studied it the more aqueous the movements of the body became. The spirit was standing next to a window that opened like a vignette in the white room they occupied, and Dean could see a vista of sunshine on an endless meadow or a Kansas wheat-field perhaps. The rays of the sun shone overhead and surrounded the creature, giving the entity a gentle aureole of gold. The being was beautiful, but almost all of Dean’s attention was given to its wings.

The wings were golden, but suppler, more humble than the metal, and a soft, suffused light emanated from every quill. Their texture was much like the husk of a chrysalis—delicate and weightless. Every feather was an entity unto itself, independently motivated by an autonomous muscle structure. Yet, each individual shaft worked in tandem with the others, behaving like a flock of birds in flight when they stirred or switched direction. They seemed to be made out of spun glass, webbed and woven so intricately that it would take years to explore every quill, shaft, joint and muscle. And yet, every single movement, every twitch and slight ruffle, every subtle quiver demonstrated how magnificently strong each wing was. It was apparent, though, that their inherent power was veiled and deliberately subdued, just as it was within the creature itself, but Dean knew that if aroused, the beat of those wings would be more vast and terrible than the strongest hurricane. Dean shivered and looked away.

The entity spoke again. “You shouldn’t be here, Dean,” it said.

Dean sat, drawing his knees up and hugging them close for balance. He had nothing else to hold on to, no other anchor. After a time he slowly looked up. “Are you God?” he whispered.

The entity shifted a bit, the wings undulating with life of their own. Dean was spellbound by the beauty of the motion. The boy watched as the creature considered his question. It evinced a quiet thoughtfulness and then gave the teen a small, enigmatic smile.

“No. I am not God,” it said.

Dean put his head back down, resting it on his knees. He rocked slightly, dread and fear welling within him. If it wasn’t God, then he had to have been caught by some gaudy, bedazzled hellspawn, and it was now employing trickery, using beauty and comfort to bait him. And, just his luck, Dean didn’t have a single weapon to his name.

“Then what are you?” Dean asked without looking up. He could hear feathers ruffling again as the creature moved closer. Dean tried to back up, tried to scramble away, but he was rooted where he sat, stricken by fear or perhaps by a silent command from the creature. He had no power to flee from it. The boy stopped shivering and looked up, deciding to face the demon head on. The thing was looking at him with liquid, sympathetic eyes.

“What are you?” Dean demanded again. He was terrified, but he refused to cower any longer.

The thing paused before answering. “I’m an Angel of the Lord,” it said at last.

Dean looked up and did a little double-take. The teen waited for the smirk, waited for the bellowing laughter of the demon, waited for the façade to fall and the creature’s tentacles to emerge and drag him off to hell, but none of that came to pass. The damn thing was looking at him with no hint of humor or deceit. It continued to study him with big doe-eyes. The boy and creature stared at one another until Dean could take it no longer.

“Ha!” Dean hooted out loud. “No, seriously,” he said again. “What the hell are you?”

The gilded hellspawn tilted its head and blinked a few times. “I have told you, Dean Winchester. I am an Angel of the Lord.”

Their staring contest continued until the teen’s brows tented and he huffed out a snort of doubt. After another moment he began to realize that no punch-line was coming. Dean stole another glance at the wings that rippled with light and then looked back at the creature.

“Get the hell out, dude,” he said with a dry, indignant huff. “Everyone knows there’s no such thing.”




**O**


John and Sam sat staring at nothing, each locked deep within his own thoughts. John had never felt more drained in his life, but he hadn’t been doing anything other than sitting. And that was part of the problem. He shifted in his seat, trying to ease the tightness in his back. It did no good. Most of the tension wasn’t physical, anyway. He looked at his watch, both craving and dreading news of his son’s condition. The longer the wait dragged out, the more tense he became, and yet, every single moment that passed without word meant that his son was still alive or at least not irrevocably lost. He looked at his watch again, not having actually noticed the time when he’d first checked. This time he concentrated on the numbers. It was 10:20am. They’d been in Phoenix for more than two hours. The operation must be well underway by now. He wondered if his son was lying cold with no heartbeat or vital signs at this very minute. His stomach lurched at the thought. He shifted again, fighting an overwhelming impulse to run off and find the operating room and stop this insanity from happening to his child. He felt a flashflood of adrenaline surge through him, and he needed to do something. More than that, though, he needed to hurt something, to punch it, brutalize it—to kill whatever was causing his son pain. He needed to waste it, gun it down, stick a knife in it, put a silver-tipped bow through its heart, salt and burn it. He needed to protect his son, and he couldn’t. There was no creature to blame, no spirit he could hold responsible, no poltergeist that he could lay to rest. There was nothing he could do. Nothing. This was John Winchester’s worst nightmare; it was Mary in flames on the ceiling all over again.

His eyes were hot and smoky from the burn of unshed tears and worry, and Christ he was tired—freighted and bent with a bone-deep exhaustion. He looked at Sam to see if he was faring any better, but the child was just a statue, staring blankly ahead. John roused, stirring in his seat.

“Sam,” he said. “You want some water or juice or something? I think I saw a vending machine down the hall.” Sam didn’t appear to have heard his father. He was sitting there, his lips moving ever so slightly as if speaking to himself, or…shit…maybe he was praying. “Sam?” John tapped him, causing the boy to startle and look up blearily.

“What?” Sam responded lifelessly.

“You’re off your game there, buddy-boy,” John said, ruffling his son’s hair lightly. “You want something to drink?”

Sam stared at him some more, taking twice as long to process the question. “No. I’m good,” he said after a moment.

“Mm hmm,” John said. He got up and stretched. “Well, I’m getting some coffee. Wait with the stuff,” he said, moving the duffels with his foot so that they were closer to Sam. He’d eventually have to think about finding some place for them to stay while they were in Phoenix, but he’d cross that bridge when he came to it. It wasn’t likely they’d be leaving the hospital anytime soon. He turned to walk down the hall, and he stopped suddenly, having forgotten what it was that he’d gotten up for. Right. Drinks. He reached into his pocket and grabbed some change.

He wandered down the hall and tossed coins into the machine, grabbing a coffee, a Gatorade and two small bags of chips. He headed back to Sam and handed him his drink and one of the bags of chips.

“I said I didn’t want anything,” Sam complained.

“True, but you need fluids and calories, dude. Man up and feed your body even when you don’t want to.” Sam sighed and twisted off the cap.

“Whatever.” He took a long drink, putting away most of the bottle in one go.

John watched him and chuckled a little. “Not thirsty, eh?” he tried to tease. Sam looked at him vaguely and shrugged. The boy didn’t open the chips, though. He just fingered the edge of the bag mindlessly.

“Dad? How long is this gonna take? It’s been longer than a half hour—way longer,” he said as he tried to stretch his back and neck.

“I know, Sam, but they have to do a lot of things before they can remove the aneurysm. That may take only half an hour, but getting him to that point takes a lot longer. And then they’ll have to take care of him afterwards. We probably won’t be able to see him until late in the afternoon sometime. That’s my guess.”

“Do you think he knows what’s happening to him? Do you think he’s scared?” the boy wanted to know.

“No, kiddo,” John said. “They have him well asleep. Dean’s doing fine. This is your big brother, right? He’s not scared of anything.”

Sam wasn’t so sure about that. Dean always acted like he wasn’t scared, but Sam could see it sometimes—hidden deep in his brother’s pale eyes. Sam wasn’t three years old any longer, and even though he felt safer with Dean than with any other human, he knew his brother got scared more than he ever let on.

Sam came out of his thoughts. “We should pray, Dad. We should pray for him.” John twitched at that. He uncrossed his legs and took his jacket off. Picking up one of the duffels, he set it between them and patted it.

“Come here, Sam,” he said. “Lie down and put your head right here.” Sam looked at him questioningly. “Come on,” he said patting the duffel again. Sam scooched in, resting his head on the duffel and curling his legs up tight. John put the jacket over him. “Now close your eyes and you pray for the both of us, OK?”

“’K” Sam said as his eyes slipped shut. John could see the kid’s mouth moving again. About five minutes later his movements decreased until they stopped all together, and John could tell that the exhausted child was out.

It was now 10:40am. John rested a palm on Sam’s shoulder and held it there. He closed his eyes briefly. “You better not be real. Because if you are and you take my son from me now, I will hunt you down and kill you myself,” he warned whatever might be listening.




**O**


“Get out of town,” Dean said with a grunt of incredulity. The creature tilted its head again, perplexed.

Town? I do not underst…” it began, but Dean cut it off with another hoot.

“Dude, I may be young, but I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. Me and my family have been hunting sick sonsabitches like you for years. So what are you really? A revenant with a big ego? An albino Mothman? Liberace gone vengeful? What?”

The being remained still; even the air and energy surrounding it became hushed and tense, waiting. Dean swallowed thickly.

“I am as I have stated,” it contended. Without warning the wings unfurled, arching up and expanding outward in an awe-striking display. The golden light turned a burnished, tawny color and the wing-tips splayed out like fingers. Dean could see jagged coils of lightning stretch away from them, and the room darkened. The energy surging from the being became too much to withstand.

Dean’s head bent to the ground again under the weight of such terrible power. He was shaking. “Alright, alright! Jesus!” Dean shouted and then gasped at what had just come out of his mouth. “Sorry! I mean…oh fuck, I didn’t mean to swear!” he said, quickly realizing that he’d just done it again. “Shit! Don’t smite me! Please!” the flustered teen cried out in fear and dread. He cringed, waiting for the worst, expecting to be vaporized at any second, but the energy in the room suddenly subsided. He recovered enough to look at the creature…the thing…the…shit…the angel.

“I’m not going to harm you, Dean Winchester,” the angel said.

Dean hesitated for a moment, taking it all in, trying to digest this new information and what it might possibly mean for him. “So, I’m dead? Is that it?”

“No,” the angel assured him. “You aren’t dead. But you should not be here.”

“Where’s here?” Dean asked.

“Your soul and consciousness have left your body, though death has not yet released you. You are between worlds. It happens sometimes when the soul and body suffer too much distress. It’s more dangerous than you know, however. It is well that I was watching. A soul displaced from a living body leaves both vulnerable. Don’t leave my sight and I will keep you safe.”

Dean looked confused. “So what’s the deal? If I’m not dead, what was that Light I saw? Was it you? God? What’s happening to me?”

“The Light was not my Father, nor was it me,” the angel stated “Although, the source of the Light does come from Him.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It was the light of your own soul that you experienced,” the angel explained. Dean looked at him blankly.

“Huh?” he said, stupefied.

The angel went on. “Upon separation from the physical body, the mind and soul go through a transformation into an astral form. It is this quantum transformation that can appear to momentarily twist one’s perceptions of spatial reality, creating the sensation of traveling through a tunnel toward a light. You were, in fact, not traveling at all, and the illusion of fission was just that—an illusion. You are the light and the light is you. It was beautiful, yes?” The angel’s eyes were shining as he spoke. “The process is really quite fascinating; I could go into more depth if you like.”

Dean lifted his eyebrows and quirked his cheek, snorting. “Uh, yeah. I don’t know what the hell you just said, but I’m good with the thumbnail outline, thanks though.” He could have sworn that the angel actually deflated a little. “I don’t understand, though. If it’s all just me…what was with the freaky head-trip? I mean,” Dean started to hesitate, finding it difficult to put his thoughts into words. “It was like…I dunno. It was like I knew everything for a moment. That’s not me.”

The angel shook his head. “But it is you. You have a limitless capacity for universal understanding. You simply ignore it. But upon joining with the astral form, there is often a brief moment of revelation. Alas, it never lasts long, because most humans won’t allow it.” The angel’s face softened, and he looked rather wistful and sad. “Most don’t want it.”

“Right, I am the walrus,” Dean laughed. “Yeah, OK, I get it.” The angel, however, didn’t appear to understand. Dean cocked an eyebrow at him and then shrugged, barreling on. “So if I’m just a soul,” he flapped his hands in front of him. “How come I have a body, Einstein?” He lightly slapped his cheeks in demonstration.

“You don’t have a physical body in this realm, but it pleases you to create one out of thought. It’s easier for you, perhaps, to see it that way.”

“Huh.” Dean took another look at his hands, then he looked at the angel. “So what about you? You look like a human to me, a little heavy on the fairy-dust and glitter, sure…but human nonetheless.”

“The process is much the same. You view my Grace and create a corresponding form that is comprehensible to you.”

“Freaky.” Dean thought for a moment. “So angels exist? Really exist? And God exists?”

The angel nodded. “Most assuredly so.”

Dean said nothing for a long time after that. He sat, and his face slowly became a tapestry of emotion and churning thought. Looking away from the angel, Dean’s humor evaporated and his eyes smoldered with anger. He got up and looked out of the window and put his hand up to shield his eyes from the sunlight. His back tensed and twitched. Finally he spun around.

“That’s so screwed up,” he said angrily. He looked the angel in the eyes. “That’s too jacked for words. What the hell is wrong with you people?”

The angel stood calm but appeared somewhat baffled by the boy’s spite. “I don’t understand what has caused your anger, Dean Winchester.”

The teen snorted. “Don’t understand? Do you have any idea…any idea at all what’s been going on down here? Any idea what we’ve been going through?” Dean stopped short and hissed out a breath. “Did you know about my mom? Did you?”

“I did,” the angel said quietly, his mien still placid.

“And you just let it happen?” Dean paced around, becoming more agitated. He looked at the angel with disgust. “She believed in you! She prayed to you all the time. She never hurt anyone, never did anything to deserve that. Why didn’t you help her?”

The angel remained absolutely poised. “It was not our task to interfere, as it is not my task now to do so. It was not I who was sent specifically to watch over your mother; although, at times several of my brothers and sisters were present.”

“Are you kidding me? You just fly around watching people go through hell? And you do nothing?” Dean began looking around, searching for a way out. He wanted to get away from the angel as fast as he could.

“We don’t observe the lives of every human, only those whom our Father instructs us to,” the angel clarified. “We are at times called upon to witness certain significant events,” he explained.

“Significant, huh? Then what the hell are you doing here?” Dean continued to test the boundaries of the white room. It seemed to expand the further he walked.

The angel looked a little uncomfortable. “I have been tasked with observing your…condition,” he said.

The boy stopped his wanderings and circled back toward the angel. “Are you going to fix me?”

“That’s not my errand. I have been instructed to watch only.”

“I might have guessed.” Dean said bitterly. “So, you gettin’ an eyeful, pal?”

“You are very ill,” the angel conceded.

“No shit. So why me? What’s so special about some random kid with a broken head?”

“You are…” the angel seemed to hesitate. “You are needed.”

Dean laughed, sharp and jagged. “Well apparently not needed too much—not enough to bother to help, anyway. Whatever, Liberace. You keep up the good work,” he said archly, with a sarcastic curl of his lip. “I’m gonna be on my way.” The boy turned and began walking away. He did not get very far before he felt a surge of vertigo, and the white room tilted oddly. He stumbled to his knees.

“Whoa,” he said, pressing a shaky palm to his head as he tried to clear his vision. He attempted to stand, but he ended up back on the floor. “Son of a bitch!” he gasped. His eyelids sagged and he wobbled as he tried to lever himself up onto all fours. The angel was at his side immediately.

“Dean Winchester, do not try to rise,” the angel said gently.

“Dad?” Dean called out dreamily.

“No,” the angel told him. “Please, stay where you are. You are very ill.”

Dean was disoriented and could not understand why the room was tilting and lurching about, making him feel like a stringless kite, wind-battered and spinning earthward. “Very ill?” he asked, confused. He looked down at his body. “I don’ even have a real body.” He flapped his hands around drunkenly. “It’s jus’ thought. How can I be sick?”

The angel pointed ahead of him and Dean swung his eyes that way. The operating room was right there and so were the doctors and nurses. The doctor with the mole was sticking an instrument deep into the folds of Dean’s brain. “You are still connected to your body. It is under much stress, and so your soul is also affected,” the angel explained. His voice was soothing and kind, but that only served to touch off Dean’s anger all the more.

“Git y’han’s off me.” Dean tried to push away the angel, but his brief attempt at escape ended with him right back in the angel’s grasp. “Don’ need no stinkin’ angel’s help. Take that to the bank and smoke it, pal,” he slurred. He felt himself being lifted. “Somethin’s wrong. Don’ feel good,” he said as his head rested against the angel’s chest. “Pu’ me down. Lemme walk,” he whimpered dully.

“You require assistance,” the angel said, looking down at the boy with pity.

“Nuh uh,” Dean whispered. He opened his eyes a moment and watched the activity in the operating room. The more he concentrated on the doctors and nurses, the more everything else faded until he and the angel were hovering right behind the surgeon. He saw the doctor look up at the others, concerned.

“We’ve got a bit of a problem, here,” the physician said as beads of sweat began to form on his forehead. “Damn,” he blew out a frustrated breath, shaking his head. “This does not look good,” he said through tight lips.

“M’I dyin’?” Dean asked, as the angel gripped him. The wings folded in, hiding the room from the boy’s view. “Don’ lemme die, ‘k? Don’ care ‘bout me, but I godda be there f’Sammy. Please, s’important.”

“Rest Dean. I will watch over you,” the angel assured him. Dean felt a surge of light pass through him and his consciousness fled far away.




**O**


John continued to stroke Sam’s shoulder as the boy slept. The kid had been through hell and the hunter knew Sam would need the rest if he was going to make it through the remainder of the day. Technically, he was asleep, but Sam seemed ill at ease, his hands balled into fists, eyelashes fluttering, his lips pursing and muttering in his dreams. The hunter hoped that even this fitful sleep would serve to have some kind of palliative effect on the child. It was shitty sleep, sure, but it was sleep.

After a few minutes, John rose. He needed the bathroom and another cup of coffee. He wandered down the hall and took care of the more pressing business first; then, he started to walk toward the bank of vending machines. There were a couple of frazzled looking interns or students plunking change into the coffee machine.

“It’s been underway for a while now. I had no idea you didn’t know,” the taller one said.

“Spent the night at the girlfriend’s house. I wasn’t home to get any calls. Standstill. Christ, I can’t believe I’m missing it,” the other replied.

“It’s still going on. C’mon, there’s a group of us gathered in Conference Room 1B watching on the monitors. Hurry up and get your shit and let’s go!”

The duo walked off at a rapid pace, and John swung in wordlessly behind them. He followed them down the hallway and up one flight of stairs until they came to the conference room, swiping their badges to unlock the door. John caught it with his foot before it closed, and he slipped in right after, making his way toward the back of the room as soundlessly as he could. No one was paying any attention to him, anyway. All eyes were on the monitors. The interns he’d followed were still near enough for him to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“How far in are they?” the shorter intern asked in a hushed whisper.

“Over twenty minutes,” his friend answered. “Not much time left. They haven’t even clipped it yet.”

“Right down to the wire, huh?”

John looked at the monitor that showed a bird’s-eye view of the operating room. He could see over a dozen scrub-covered bodies encircling a patient swathed in sheets. Nothing of Dean was visible except the small strip of brain that the doctor was working on, but the angle of the camera prevented John from even seeing that. Listening to the talk around him gave him no usable information; the discussion was too technical to grasp. Nevertheless, just looking at the TV made his heart pound in his ears, and he began to feel extremely lightheaded. This was his son on the table. This was Dean. The hunter looked around the room, watching the people regard his son with nothing more than pedantic indifference. There were several hushed discussions going on, a few doctors or students seemed to be involved in a lively debate concerning the cooling procedure. One student expressed surprise that the patient’s temperature had only been lowered to 15 degrees instead of 10, since the lower body temperature would have allowed the doctors to work for up to an hour before neurological damage began to set in. Other students were industriously taking notes, their eyes glued to the TV screen. A few others had their heads together discussing different aspects of the clipping procedure. John felt like he was going to crawl out of his skin. The sterile, academic atmosphere had nothing whatsoever to do with his son. They didn’t even seem aware that this was a living, breathing soul that was being operated upon. He was getting very close to losing what was left of his composure when the surgeon on the screen straightened up.

“We’ve got a bit of a problem,” John heard him say as the man bent down and took another look at what he’d been assessing. He prodded his instrument a little deeper. John noticed the doctor’s shoulders stoop slightly. “Damn. This does not look good.”

The blood drained from John’s head as he watched the doctor look up and shake his head in dismay.




**O**


When Dean came to, it felt as though he was in a cocoon of spun sunlight. His entire being was warmed through. It reminded the teen of a time, long, long ago, when his dad rented an old house in Michigan for the winter. Sam had only been about three years old at the time, and it was one of the coldest winters Dean could ever remember. The ancient heating system blew air through an old grate in the floor of their bedroom, and every night Dean would gather blankets and pillows, making a nest for the two of them right over the vent. Together they would fall asleep on that old hardwood floor, but under those blankets he’d be warmer and more comfortable than he’d ever been in any crappy motel bed. What he felt now was even better. He was buoyed by warm light. The only other time he’d felt so weightless and contented was when his mother was still alive. He had a vague memory of her warm arms enfolding him as she hummed old Beatles tunes in his ear, his head resting on her shoulder and his eyes drooping closed. He’d never felt so loved and so…safe. The warmth he felt now was a close second.

He opened his eyes, still a toddler in his mother’s arms. “Mommy?” he murmured. He floated a few more moments as the memory of his mother’s arms slowly dissipated and his senses returned. Clearing his throat, he looked about him. He was being cradled in a blanket of iridescent, golden light. He couldn’t help but reach out to feel the texture of the material, and as he brushed his fingertips along the sparkling veins, the blanket shimmered and rippled with a downy glow. He watched each feather become an individual under his touch before melding back into the solid membrane that was surrounding him. The contact caused his arm to tingle pleasantly. He looked up and beads of amber light were dripping from the wingtips, falling into his hair and eyes and mouth, delicious and refreshing—like sweat running down an icy bottle of water on a sweltering July day. As the radiance seeped into him, Dean uncoiled, allowing himself to be fed like a gape-beaked nestling. Dean felt sleepy yet incredibly rested at the same time. His clarity of thought became stronger the longer he stayed nestled under the angel’s wing.

But that’s also when it dawned on him that he was, in fact, nestled under the angel’s wing—in a complete, blissed-out stupor no less. The comfort and peace he felt was something he’d only ever experienced with members of his family, and if he was being honest, never quite this intensely. It was intimate, nurturing and loving, and, well…just too weird and wrong, wrong, wrong coming from the angel. Dean pushed against the wing and sprung away.

“Dude,” he said to the surprised angel. “What the hell?” The teen backed away even though a part of him wanted to just dive right back in no matter how awkward it may seem. He already felt wobbly and cold, having weaned himself too abruptly. He wrapped his arms tightly around his middle as he shivered and grew flush with embarrassment. “Aren’t y’sposed t—t—to b—buy a dude dinner first?” he said, his teeth chattering. His legs felt like jelly and the angel reached out to steady him.

“I do not understand,” the angel said. “Why would you require food? You had weakened, and I was nourishing you. Your body is extremely damaged, and your soul is unable to operate as it should. It perceives the physical flaws and is weakened by them. Did you not take sustenance from my embrace?”

“Well yes,” Dean said and then he faltered. “I mean…no, dude. Shh…don’t say that so loud! God.” Dean looked around and dithered. “Look, it was just…it was weird. OK? It was p—personal. Just…personal space, OK?” he said, waving his hand back and forth between them, indicating the perceptible distance that Dean insisted separate them. “Personal space,” he reiterated.

“I still do not understand,” the angel said as he studied Dean curiously.

“Forget it, Tinkerbell. Just…look, thanks for helping me out. I feel better,” he said, and that was the truth. Despite the awkwardness of the wing-cuddling, Dean felt much, much better for it, but he sure as hell hoped he wouldn’t need it again.

“So what’s happening? How long was I out?”

“How long?” the angel asked, perplexed. He nodded toward the operating room that was still visible right before them. Again, the white room with the window on the meadow faded away…until only the angel was left standing by his side. Together they watched the doctor’s brow furrow with concern.

“This just does not look good at all,” the doctor said bending down for another look.

One of the other doctors stepped up, looking at the surgery site. “What’s wrong?” Apparently no time on earth had passed. Dean eyed the angel.

“Boy, you’re good,” Dean admitted. He gave his attention back to the doctors.

The surgeon sighed. “The bleeding was far more extensive than the scans showed.” He maneuvered in toward the aneurysm, his eyes deep in concentration. He shook his head. “There’s significant herniation,” he continued to examine the brain and sighed again. He looked up. The entire room was silent as they watched the doctor’s face. “The brain is coning,” he told them. The nurse with the pinky-print on her glasses let out a small gasp and her eyes went wide. Everyone else quietly digested the new information and stood silent and still.

Dean watched the hushed responses. “What’s that mean?” he asked. The angel’s face remained stoic and placid, and Dean didn’t know if that was a good thing or bad. “Hello?” the young hunter prodded.

The doctor interrupted his interrogation. “Come on people,” the surgeon said. “We still have a job to do and only a few minutes to get it done.”

The teen swallowed thickly. “Whatever it is it can’t be very good. Everyone looks like their puppy got run over. What’s he talking about. What’s wrong?”

“You are very ill,” the angel replied, quietly.

“No duh. I got that part. What does he mean about hibernation and coning?”

“Herniation,” the angel corrected.

“Whatever,” Dean waved it away. “What’s that mean?”

The angel’s glance hadn’t moved from the operating table, but suddenly he turned his mild eyes upon Dean. “It means you are in a moribund state.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Speak English, dude. What’s that mean?”

“It means you are very close to death,” the angel told him quietly.

Continue to Chapter 6



 
 
 
dearheartx0x0dearheartx0x0 on February 4th, 2013 03:32 am (UTC)
YOU ENDED IT THERE?!?!?!? *runs away to hide under blanket until Wednsday* Ok just being dramatic. ;P Yaaaay Cas!!!! Hmmm....I think I'm gonna go look up "coning of the brain" and see what it means...besides "near death". Poor poor Dean.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 4th, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I have this annoying little habit of stopping chapters cruelly. But hey...they gotta end sometime, right? ;) Thanks so much for the comment. You're so awesome!
gypsy_atavarigypsy_atavari on February 4th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
Dean!!!!!!!!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 4th, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC)
I know, right!!!!! ;)
Kalliel: wwddkalliel on February 4th, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
The sensory overload of the beginning of this chapter is just sublime. I love the way that juxtaposes/interacts with Dean's very, very Dean-like reactions to both the Angel of the Lord (!) and to his situation in general. And the scene between John and Sam in the middle was touching. <3 Great job!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 4th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I remember after I wrote the beginning part of this chapter, I had to write one of my betas and warn her. She has a pet peeve against having too many "and's" in one sentence...and I have a bad habit of constantly having several. She always keeps me in line that way. But I had to laugh when I wrote her and warned her that one sentence in this chapter had 19 instances of the word "and" in it...and that all of them were necessary. I thought her head might explode. LOL ;) She was good about it, though.

Thank you very much for the lovely comment. I really appreciate it!
tifachingtifaching on February 4th, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear. I loved the beginning and Dean's journey through the light. I could sense everything he was sensing through your words.

“Do you think he knows what’s happening to him? Do you think he’s scared?” the boy wanted to know." Oh, Sammy. How awful for you to be afraid of your brother being afraid. *heartbreak*

And Dean's interaction with the angel was fantastic. His disbelief and unwillingness to be comforted were just perfectly Dean.

And moribund. Yikes!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 4th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
The beginning part of the chapter was great fun to write. It was one of those opportunities to let myself go. I dunno, I like writing about trippy experiences, I guess. Heh. Inner space can be a great place to play.

Oh yeah...poor Dean. He's not in a good way, I'm afraid. Eep!

Thanks for the encouragement! You're the best!
jpgr: SPN Dean & Sam stargazingjpgr on February 4th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)
I forgot today was posting day!! It just made finding this extra special. Now, making the angel be Cas would be the obvious way to go but I also want to think of the possibility of it being Michael.

Very well-written and described. You make it so easy to "see" everything.
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 5th, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, we'll have to see. If Dean ever stops to ask his name, that is. LOL.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I do love describing things, so this particular chapter was fun to write. I really kind of let myself just go. I really love writing trippy!Dean. I think I need to write an acid-trip for him one of these days. LOL.

Thanks again...you're spectacu..lacular!
mdlawmdlaw on February 5th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
Arrrggggghhhhhh, angels are so not helpful. Not at all. m :O
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 5th, 2013 03:30 am (UTC)
They really just aren't, are they? Man! We'll have to see how this pans out. As with every other human he's ever met, I'm sure this angel will be putty in his hands in no time at all! ;) Who can resist THE Dean? Not me!
jenny: you're awsomejennygeee on February 18th, 2013 01:57 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting for this to be complete and yesterday finally had the time to start reading. I usually wait until the last chapter before commenting but I have to say you astound me, this is amazingly well written! The desriptions are so vivid! I love your writing so much, please don't ever stop writing SPN fic.

I really want the angel to be Castiel :))
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on February 18th, 2013 03:44 pm (UTC)
What a sweetheart you are! Thank you so much! I'm tickled that you are enjoying the story and the descriptions! LOL. I have to admit I have a description kink; sometimes I fear I am walking a fine line between delighting and boring-the-pants-off the readers. LOL. My betas are very good at reeling me in when I get too self-indulgent. :P

Don't worry. I have plans for more SPN fics, and am currently hip-deep in research for my next one. I'm a bit of a slow writer, though, so it will be a few months. I don't like to post until the story is complete.

Yes, it really would be very comforting to know that Castiel had Dean's back all this time, wouldn't it? We'll have to see how this pans out. ;)

Thanks again for your very generous comments. I appreciate it so much!
maguiemaguie on September 8th, 2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
I don't know if I could see the surgery of someone I care!

I think would be most nervous
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on September 8th, 2013 11:08 pm (UTC)
If it were me, I'd be on the floor passed out cold. :P I'm incredibly squeamish. I think John is definitely in panicked-parental mode. Poor guy is desperate for Dean to be all right.
dljensengirl88dljensengirl88 on October 23rd, 2013 03:37 am (UTC)
Amazing how this Dean is such the grown up Dean we all adore, instead of the flirty 16- year-old he was not that long ago - though with a tad more self-assurance then he has as an adult.

Man, it's late. It's a Supernatural Tuesday, which means I only had the energy to finish this one chapter after watching my beloved boys, but I don't know if I can go to bed without starting the next chapter! I know he'll pull through but how? HOW?! Oh the sweet angst!

By the way, you totally make me wanna go visit this angel - but you know, in a dream maybe. Not the hard way! :-)
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 23rd, 2013 05:24 am (UTC)
Oh my, yes...Dean is really in the soup, isn't he. Yes...he has to pull through because I need to rough his adult-self up in all of my other fics. But how he gets there is the real question.

Thanks so much for the comment! Get rest! Hehe.

Kat
JJ1564jj1564 on October 27th, 2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
I can't stop reading this! Dean's reaction to the angel (I hope it's Cas!) were so typically DEAN, it was funny and moving. And John's anguish is so real - 'He looked at his watch, both craving and dreading news of his son’s condition.' And now the poor thing is watching as his son's condition deteriorates even further - gah! Got to read more.....!
sharlot1926sharlot1926 on October 27th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
Aw! Thanks jj! Oh yeah...I actually never name the angel, but I was hoping I wouldn't have to. Tee! It's pretty evident who would be looking out for Dean ;)

John is in a very painful place...both he and Sam are. All the more poignant when we remember that these types of scenes play out for real every day.

Thanks again!

Kat