After things had settled down to a dull roar half a year post-Deluge, in what Sam had taken to calling Postilla, a Latin term for afterwards, he spent a lot of time researching the world’s flood myths. Luckily there was a lot on record in their own library. Pyrrha and Deucalion were the only two people to survive Zeus’ flood, and they had to do that on an ark. At least he and Dean had some company in this surviving the apocalypse thing, and weren’t stuck on an ark together. Sam tried and failed picturing Dean tolerating that for more than two hours maximum. He could however, picture spending however much longer they had alive alone together. That would be just fine with him. He’d waited so many years, and now that they were really together, Sam couldn’t imagine ever getting his fill of Dean.
The more he read and studied, Sam began to wonder whether The Deluge had been solely a man-made climate change disaster. It seemed like it could be that but also something more in their wheelhouse. It had never made much sense to him that the water level could possibly rise like that, and not ever recede. Something had to have made a huge and permanent change in the volume of water versus land. If the same amount of water existed in the world, then the amount of land had to have changed somehow. Like another continent’s worth displacing it all. He knew a little about the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift, but those things took a lot of time to really change the world’s surface.
A few weeks into his flood-myth research, Sam started having dreams about the real cause of the Deluge. He could see two impossibly enormous titans fighting and causing all the resulting death and destruction. It was terrifying to witness, even just in his dreams; all that rage and power unleashed without regard to what results might follow. It was night after night of chaos and fear, and he usually woke up gasping with panic about what would come next. Thankfully Dean had turned into a much heavier sleeper in the Postilla and he didn’t wake up and quiz Sam about his nightmares.
According to Sam’s dreams, it seemed likely that the disaster wasn’t *just* flooding from climate change. Sam saw scenes showing him something being released, that had been contained in the prison of the ancient ice sheets. It was one of the titans of old, that had been long forgotten, and its release was what caused the sudden cataclysmic flood that wiped out the entire Eastern seaboard, and flooded the Great Lakes. The release of this one titan, had
awoken the other that was in the volcanic planes beneath the Pacific (it sort of reminded Sam of that movie, Pacific Rim). These weren’t just unseeing unfeeling gigantic monsters; no, they were all that and they were demi-gods too. Angry ones. Insane ones, that hated each other. They only wanted to kill whatever was in their path to get to each other so that they could tear the other one apart.
The dreams continued for weeks, getting more and more detailed about why these titans were fighting each other. To Sam, the progression of the dreams seemed a bit like seeing a prequel to a movie you’d already watched. He had one dream in particular that was the clearest yet, and then he knew these dreams weren’t just his subconscious trying to solve the problems he had been researching. They really were a message of truth that he had been receiving…somehow..from someone.
Once he figured out that he was receiving messages, Sam’s first instinct was to tell Dean about the dreams. When he tried he couldn’t get it across well enough to his brother. It was frustrating because he couldn’t express the existential dread he felt as he saw their planet be thrashed by these remorseless monsters. Dean teased him that he was dreaming about monsters now since he didn’t get to hunt them any more, and that was the last time Sam said anything to him about it. Instead he turned to spending all of his spare time researching. It was easy enough to camouflage from Dean, who didn’t examine the books and papers spread out on the library tables too closely. He told him he was researching whether there was a way to replicate the bunker’s heated water and electricity spells on their fellow Lebanon residents’ homes. Dean loved that idea, because he still prickled at having to share their home with the others trooping through for showers and laundry.
Sam eventually came across a few references to these titans he kept dreaming about in one of the resources in the Men of Letters library. In the first one, it was stated that though the titan battle was inevitable and long-prophesied, there was only one way the titans could be stopped which was…there wasn’t a way spelled out exactly or clearly, but there was a legendary being mentioned in a few places in that text.
Finding a hint like that sent Sam off on another research tangent. Luckily they’d catalogued most of the information about legendary beings when they’d been researching Jack and his stolen grace situation. The only thing Sam could find that was much help was a reference to a being that sounded a whole lot like a super-powered nephilim. The description reminded him of what Jack was like right after he’d leveled up with consuming Michael’s grace. He’d been completely out of control, but juiced up and much too powerful for his own good. But their Jack was dead and gone as far as they knew. And there wasn’t a way to make another being like Jack without an archangel around.
The first night after he read about this legendary being, Sam’s dreams got much worse. Well, no, not exactly worse, but they got much more detailed, and horrifyingly so. He watched, helpless, night after night as the two titans battled their way across Asia and over into Russia. There had been people, lots of them that had survived the initial Deluge, but they were all being slaughtered as a result of the cataclysmic battling raging between the titans. To the titans, humans must seem as ants do to us; why should they care what happens to us? All they knew was rage and revenge and combat; after eons of being caged up, they battled with joyous abandon across the face of the Earth. And Sam had to watch it every time he closed his eyes. It all felt so real, like he was seeing it as it was happening, as if it was being transmitted to him somehow.
Sam again tried sharing the details of some of the titan battles, but Dean still didn’t believe his dreams were about anything that was real, so he stopped bothering to tell him.
After a few sleepless nights in a row, Sam got desperate for some real answers; about the dreams of the titans and how to find the super-powered nephilim legendary creature that could possibly stop them. In a last ditch effort he decided to contact an angel to ask for help. The usual prayers haven’t worked for them, and neither had the usual summoning spell. Sam dumped the container of angel feathers onto the table, running his fingers over all of them. They were almost dusty feeling to the touch, but he could still feel the thrum of power without quite touching them. He wished he had his powers back, they were useful in situations like this one. The memory of his lost powers brought a message in Ruby’s voice, clearly playing as a reminder of something he hadn’t thought of in a very long time. “You never needed the feather to fly, Dumbo. You had the power all along.”
He shrugged it off. Hearing her voice unbidden like that was all kinds of creepy, but it reminded him that he’d known what she meant the moment she’d said it. But then it had all gotten lost and jumbled-up when Dean was stabbing her and Lucifer was arriving. The bunker was empty and quiet at the moment, and he was tired of not getting much in the way of restful sleep. He hadn’t had a single night in weeks without having the horrible dreams.
Sitting at the worktable in the library, Sam went into a meditative state, still touching the angel feathers. He let himself remember what the powers had felt like all those years ago, how the ones he’d gained at twenty-one were add-ons to the powers he’d always had, but never named, not even to himself. The dreaming and seeing other layers of reality had always happened, and he’d never wanted to share it with his family, not after he’d learned that they hunted people who could do that sort of thing. He’d never practiced or intentionally developed his powers, instead he’d left them alone, had let them stay hidden, even from himself.
The latest dream of the titans reaching the climax of their battle replayed in his mind, and he called up the dread he’d felt upon awakening; the feeling of having to do something to prevent it from happening here again. This felt like it was a last chance. He needed everything, every tool at his disposal to make anything change.
He slowly drew his own powers out, the ones he kept hidden from himself and tried his best to use them, tried to connect on what they’d always called angel radio as he touched each feather. He kept his eyes closed, concentrating on the feeling of each individual feather and the residual angel grace that was contained in the soft barbs and smooth shafts. He asked the question over and over again in his mind, picturing it going out as an SOS to anyone listening. “Is there anyone out there that could help? Anyone at all, please? If you hear this can you please answer me?”
He felt the physical changes that came with concentrated prayer, and reluctantly accepted the roiling dread in his belly at using his powers after so long. It would be worth it, it had to be. This wasn’t the same as using the demon blood. Dean wouldn’t like it, but he wouldn’t hate him…hopefully.
With an achingly familiar whoosh of musty ancient air, an angel came to answer Sam’s prayers and pleas. She wasn’t looking composed and perfectly business-suited as the angels had usually appeared to them. She was scattered looking; her piercing green eyes were unfocused and tired, her chestnut-brown curls in a messy cloud about her face, her clothing in full disarray. One lapel on her suit was torn-off and missing and her white blouse was mis-buttoned and untucked.
“Heaven is almost gone, and you are looking for help from us? Is this some sort of a joke?” She asked, arms crossed over her chest as she aimlessly looked around the library.
So she was a very snarky one, she reminded Sam of how Cas had been when they’d first met. Maybe if he could get past the snark she’d be able to help him somehow.
“Was it titans being unleashed? Was that what caused our planet to be nearly destroyed?” Sam asked.
“Yes, it was, but how could you know that?” The angel asked, her eyes flashing even greener and more inhuman. “And how did you even contact me, it should not be possible for a human!”
“It’s a long story. Let’s just say a whole lot of research and meditation. What I’m asking for right now is your help in finding a being, one that I’ve read about that can defeat the unleashed titans that have torn our planet apart. A nehphilim, one that was made by an archangel. We knew one before, Lucifer’s child, his name was Jack. We raised him for several years, we thought of him as our son. But he was in Chicago when the flood came, with our friend Castiel.”
The angel snorted at the mention of Castiel’s name.
“Yes of course you would be a friend of the angel who brought about Heaven’s destruction. Why should I do anything to help the likes of you, Samuel Winchester? And no, I will not be telling you my name, as I do not want you summoning me like you did with Castiel.”
“Yes, we were friends with him, we loved him and in his way he loved us. He helped us raise Jack the right way, he sacrificed everything for us, and we owe him to at least try. So…I’m hoping there’s another nephilim out there somewhere that you could find.”
The angel sighed and pursed her lips like she was holding back from saying something. She closed her eyes and faded a little bit from view. Sam could see the bookcase behind her barely shimmering form. She opened her eyes that blazed angel white for a moment, then she solidified again.
“I can find no nephilim remaining on this planet. But there was something that I can see, that might help. There was an enormous blast of power that went off in Chicago, on the day of the flood. When I look back at it, it feels like…how do I explain this to a human? It was like a thousand angels had sneezed all at once.”
Sam laughed out loud at the description. The angel made a displeased face that was momentarily terrifying. She couldn’t leave him, he desperately needed her help to save everyone that was left. “Sorry, I’m so sorry that I laughed, that’s just a funny image. But I get what you’re trying to say, go on, please.”
She raised one eyebrow and then scowled. “Well, it was lucky the flood had already wiped out Chicago because the energy from that blast would have leveled it. It may have been something to do with this Jack if he was there.”
“Was that energy blast what happened when Jack died?” Sam asked, at first excited at the new information and then gutted at the reminder of losing Jack all over again. His voice was more subdued when he asked the angel, “Or was it maybe something else?” Sam tried to remember what Jack had looked like the last time he’d seen him, leaving with Cas a week before the Deluge. Waving goodbye and smiling from the staircase in that goofy way he still had after everything. Sam missed him all over again with an ache that seemed to make his heart struggle to keep beating.
“I do not know what that energy blast was from, or if the one you call Jack has died, but what I can tell you is that your friend, Castiel is gone.”
“By saying Cas is gone, do you mean dead, like permanently dead?” Sam asked, because the word ‘gone’ didn’t seem at all permanent, not that death had ever been all that permanent in their lives.
She shook her head, sending her brown curls flying about her face. “No, not dead, he is gone, what is that human saying? He is off the grid, or off the playing field? One of those, I do not know, nor do I care. But hey, good luck figuring it out, huh?” The angel turned around slowly, eyeing the room like she was about to leave without answering anything else.
“Wait, can you somehow look in the Empty in case he’s stuck there?” Sam asked, hoping one last question would get answered.
The angel interrupted her turn and spun back around to face Sam abruptly, her face aglow with interest and surprise. “You know about that place, I mean that thing? The place is the thing, the thing is the place. Who am I kidding, of course, you know, you’re a Winchester,” the angel sighed and closed her eyes, going almost transparent again as she concentrated or searched or whatever it was they did.
She came back to solidity more slowly this time, as if the Empty were harder or farther to reach. Her expression was one of complete surprise. “Castiel was there in the Empty on the day of what you call the Deluge, because of the deal he had made to save Jack when he was dying a few years ago.”
“I don’t understand, what deal? One that Cas made with the Empty?” Sam asked.
"The deal was Jack lived and when Castiel was truly happy enough, the Empty would claim him, to have him there in the Empty forever.”
“So when he was with Jack in Chicago studying, Cas was finally happy enough to be collected,” Sam said, briefly wondering why Cas had never told them about this deal and why it had taken that long for Cas to be happy.
“But somehow, and this should not have been at all possible, but as we all well know, when it comes to you and your brother and your pet angel, all the usual rules do not apply in the normal fashion. He came back from there, Castiel came back to Earth with the Empty inside of him. Wait—or maybe…I cannot see it quite clearly enough. Perhaps he had become the Empty or vice versa, I am not sure, it is all a mess, it is very mixed up.“
“That’s okay, that’s great, it’s great to know all this, it really helps. Okay, so the Empty came back to Earth either in Cas or as Cas. But it’s not supposed to be able to be here on this plane of existence, right? At least that’s what Cas told us.”
“True, it was not ever going to work. It was not a whit sustainable for even a moment. I can see what happened, since as you likely know, all angel memories are instantly uploaded and saved. Think of it like a video journal we can all access. Jack was there when Castiel and the Empty returned, and from what I can glean from Castiel’s memories, Jack wanted to save Castiel, and much more importantly he wanted to protect all the humans on Earth from the effects of the Empty being here where it did not belong.”
“That’s my boy,” Sam murmured proudly, under his breath.
“Yes, yes he is quite something. You all did a good job with him, Samuel.” The angel gave him a slight, begrudging nod and almost smiled.
“Thanks,” Sam said, quietly proud that their joint attempts at raising a nephilim had been successful. His heart ached with the loss and grief he still had not fully dealt with. He hoped he never would, he wouldn’t ever be ready to completely let go.
The angel stepped back as if hit with a push or even a punch. “You still feel so strongly even after—I will try another way.” She concentrated again, wavering in and out of view. She came back into focus with her head tilted to the side like she was trying to watch a pay cable scrambled channel on tv. “I can see that Jack attempted to consume the Empty. No, that is not quite correct, he attempted to take the Empty out of Castiel and absorb it into himself. He could not kill it outright; he was not able to because it was inside Castiel…no, it was Castiel, and Jack could not bring himself to do that.”
“Sounds exactly like him,” Sam said, not caring about the raw awe and pride that was evident in his voice. Of course their Jack had been able to handle something so impossible.
“The last thing I see from Castiel’s memory is that Jack had become something else. Something besides what he had been—something more. Jack had basically torn Castiel to pieces. He was taking the Empty out so he could consume it. And afterwards he reassembled your angel, piece by bloody piece—into whatever he is now.”
“I’m so confused, where is Cas then? You said he was gone, but then you just said Jack remade him. Why couldn’t you find Cas if Jack remade him?”
The angel grimaced in concentration as she considered how to answer. “I was searching for an angel, and as I said, he is something else now. Castiel is not only an angel, so he can no longer appear as he had to we angel. And he can no longer appear to you in the vessel formerly known as the human, Jimmy Novak. The only thing that can hold Castiel now on this plane of existence or any other, is something much closer to his true angel form, and let me tell you, that is a marginal thing as it is.”
“But he’s still Cas though, right?” Sam asked, a small flame of hope igniting in his woefully stubborn heart.
“Call him Castiel-plus, for he is more than even I as an angel can comprehend.”
“That would mean, if he was still here on Earth in his angel-plus form, humans would probably die or go blind if they saw him?”
“Yes, that is likely. As he does not register as an angel any longer, it is hard for me to quantify exactly. Your Jack reassembled him into something other than angel, and I have no way to explain that to you as it shouldn’t have been possible. That is all that I really know.”
She squinted and wavered in and out of view. Her face suddenly paled in terror, she must have seen or realized something else. “I wish you good luck with what is coming, Samuel.”
The terrified angel poofed-out in that instant here-then-gone move that had always made Sam’s stomach turn over, it was just wrong when you saw it happen with your own eyes.
There had to be some way to contact Cas—no he was Cas-Plus now. Whatever he was, whatever Jack had made him into, Sam knew he was still their friend. And now, more than ever, he needed to talk to him, even if it was a risk.
When Sam’s finger touched one of Castiel’s old feathers on the table, the message he received from Cas-plus almost blew Sam’s mind apart. The words came to him in all of his senses, all at once. He could smell Castiel’s musty overcoat; could taste his peanut butter and honey sandwiches; he could feel the arms around him in an awkwardly long hug; he could see the blue eyes twinkling with the promise of a solution. His mind overloaded, but his stupid heart was full of hope, that was the last thought he had as the message came through, overloading his hearing, much too loud and entirely clear:
~~~~~WE ARE COMING~~~~~~
Dean found Sam slumped over the library table, dark blood dribbling out of both ears, completely limp and unresponsive. He hoisted him up into a fireman’s carry and dragged him back to his own bed, barely noticing the small pile of angel feathers on the library table. He took Sam’s temperature and felt for his pulse, he seemed normal, except for the bloody ears and being passed-out. He washed the dried blood off with a warm washcloth and Sam didn’t even stir. Something had really knocked him out.
Dean wasn’t sure whether to worry, it reminded him of what it was like when Sam had the visions all those years ago, although it had been mostly nosebleeds and some headaches back then. He changed Sam into some pajamas so he’d sleep more comfortably. It felt strange to move his brother’s body around for him, but it just seemed like something that’d help.
He changed into pajamas himself and curled up around Sam; protecting his body with his own the only way he knew how. “You better come back to me, Sammy. Or else…”
Dean tried not to, but all the worst case scenarios scrolled through his mind. A brain aneurysm finally blowing up, after all of those head traumas wouldn’t be too surprising. He wished he still had the ability to google all the symptoms and get some reassurance, or at least know what things to worry about or check Sam over for. Knowing how to prioritize your fears when your loved one was knocked out cold and bleeding from his ears was something he dearly wished was still possible.
Loved one. Oh yes, yes Sam was. He had always thought of Sam that way, in the sappiest terms possible, but only ever in his mind. Never saying it out loud for some unknown reason, men weren’t supposed to, Sam didn’t want that or need it, who knows. But he said it now, just in case it helped.
“You have to be okay, there’s no other option, you just have to. It’s like I wrote down for you, in your stupid journal. You’re everything to me, Sammy. There’s no way I’m sticking around if you go. You know that right? I’ll be up there in our heaven so fast you won’t even have a chance to wonder where I am. It’s all I could think about, for years after we went there that time with Joshua, remember that?”
Dean felt it unfold in his chest, in the smallest, most hidden part of his heart, that precious memory, the one that had kept him going all these years.
“I’ve always thought about that, you know, that we have one heaven and that’s where we’re going to be for eternity. You and me together, like we’re supposed to be. At least we have that going for us, when one of us goes, we know where we’re ending up. But this isn’t your time, not yet, Sam, no way. Not after we’ve finally gotten to have this, it wouldn’t be fair. You had so much darkness, so much pain, and now you’re happy. At least as happy as someone can be in this post-deluge world we’re stuck in, right? What is it you call it..the Postilla, yeah, you and your damn fancy Latin. So, listen up, here’s what we’re gonna do, I’m going to fall asleep holding you, and you’re going to wake up in the morning. You’re going to be starving because you skipped dinner. I’m gonna make you whatever you want for breakfast and you’ll eat it and complain about how there’s no coffee like you always do. Night, Sammy, love you,” Dean said, trailing off on the last words, wishing and hoping and maybe even praying that Sam had heard at least heard some of that, enough to bring him back.******
To Part 3