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The Art of Translation (1/2)

Title: The Art of Translation
Author: darkmagess
Rating: PG-13
Length: ~3200
Time: 6x20
Pairing/Characters: Balthazar, Castiel, Dean, Raphael, Sam
Summary: They can fix this, still save the world and everyone in it, if only Dean and Cas can figure out how to communicate.
Notes: It is a personal theory of mine that Castiel's tragic flaw is not pride, but an inability to express himself in a way Dean can understand.

-----

"Rise and shine, kids!"

Dean jolted awake from a dead sleep and grabbed the pistol under his pillow. He tossed off his sheets and raised his gun in one swift move, reacting before he could blink the sleep from his eyes. His pulse thundered in his head with the sharp thrill of panic. Who? What?

Balthazar tossed open the heavy curtains of the motel room, flooding the place with a painfully brilliant light. "We're going on a field trip," he announced.

Dean shielded his eyes from the glare of the morning sun with his free hand and tried to aim at the center of the angel's silhouette. The pounding of his blood slowed, and in place of panic, annoyance gouged a scowl across his face. He glanced at Sam, who lay flat on his bed like he was sleeping, except for the pistol raised in his right hand.

Balthazar sighed, his gaze intent on Dean. "Put that thing away. I like this shirt."

Sam slid himself off the side of the bed closest to his brother, keeping his gun raised. "What the hell, Balthazar," he growled.

Dean's eyes adjusted and he returned the angel's gaze for a second before he lowered his gun and set it on the side table, suddenly weary. Sam glanced at him once and then dropped from the ready stance he'd been in, letting the gun hang at his side.

"Cas send you?" Dean asked, dejection heavy in his tone. To his surprise, Balthazar rolled his eyes and looked offended.

"No. I find myself in your… charming hovel… because unlike you nitwits, I have a highly developed sense of self-preservation."

It was Dean's turn to roll his eyes.

"And anyway, he's in Heaven sobbing in his Cheerios, waiting for a sign from God."

Dean's eyebrows shot up. "And?"

Balthazar offered a deadpan look. "What do you think."

Dean’s bed bounced a little as Sam sat down, and Dean scrubbed a hand over his face. "So this is about Raphael?"

Balthazar quirked an eyebrow at him and paced around Sam's bed. "About Raphael?" he feigned a surprise that quickly slapped into anger. "Of course this is about Raphael. It's all about Raphael. Everything is about Raphael! The problem is that you two apes continue, surprisingly, shockingly, to fail to properly grasp the gravity of the situation. And this, by the way, is how television rots your brain. So... 'visual learners,' we're taking a trip."

"But--"

"You might want pants," Balthazar raked his gaze over them, keeping his expression hovering between annoyed and amused. Dean felt a sudden flash of heat across his face and shoved at Sam to get moving. He grabbed his jeans from the floor and struggled between putting them on and glaring angrily in the angel's direction. Balthazar crossed his arms impatiently, glaring at them both.

"Look, we get it, okay?" Sam was saying, doing up his fly. "Raphael bad."

"No!" Balthazar's anger flared, and he flapped himself instantly into Sam's space, nearly knocking him over as their noses almost touched. "No, you don't get it. This is life and death, children. For you. For me. For everyone. It's the end of everything. That's what's staring you in the face, while you whine about betrayal, and oh, my heart, it hurts," he mocked, and then swung around to advance on Dean. "You might just be the most self-involved human on this planet. But your feelings, God help us, are the difference between a future and annihilation."

Dean scowled and inched his way along the edge of the bed to get out from under the angel's stare. His feelings? Well then they were all doomed, because he hadn't felt anything but raw, wounded, and angry since Cas showed up to tell him that this whole mess was his fault somehow. It churned and ached in his chest. He lifted a glare to Balthazar's eyes. "My feelings about what?"

The angel's eyes narrowed. "You're stupid, I'll grant. But you're not that stupid."

Cas...

Dean averted his eyes, and Balthazar seemed to take that as his cue.

"Good. Now--"

"Where are we going?" Sam cut in.

"Stand together," the angel said, ignoring him and herding him in Dean's direction. Sam scowled and looked at his brother uncertainly as he shuffled into line.

"Answer him," Dean said, voice rough.

Balthazar stared and then swaggered a little closer, a cool, amused glint in his eyes. "I’m sorry, what was that? Did you miss the memo? Because I’m a free bitch, baby. And you would have to ask me very nicely…"

Dean felt his gaze sink into him, sliding to his spine. He swallowed and looked away, breaking off the violation before it went further.

Balthazar smirked and stepped back, giving him space to breathe. "We're going to three weeks from now," the angel replied matter-of-factly, his manner shifting like lightning. "I'd take your further, but... after that I'm dead. It's the day that Raphael gets his wish. Hand inside the bus, kids, and I do hope you enjoy the show."

He reached out and touched their foreheads, and Dean felt everything shift.



***



They were--

"This is Bobby's," Dean said, as his body adjusted to the sudden displacement.

Balthazar turned a sharp look his way. "Shut up and watch."

Sam piped up. "But why are we--"

"I said Shut. Up. This is the end of the world. Show some respect." His voice was clipped and quiet as he went on. "In a moment, Raphael will open the pit, releasing Lucifer and Michael. And then... well..." He looked out at the horizon.

Dean followed his gaze, frowning. Seemed like a nice day to him. Middle of spring, blue sky, white clouds. The air smelled like iron from the rust and vegetation from the farmland coming into season. "How will we know when--"

Thunder cut him off. Except it kept rolling, growing, gathering like an ocean wave of sound.

The earth jolted, and Dean fell onto one knee as the ground heaved beneath him. Stacks of skeletal cars on either side of them groaned and shook, scraping metal on metal like screaming. Dean looked at his brother, crouched in the dust beside him. Sam's eyes were wide, and he surveyed the heaps of junk around them for danger. Dean stared up at Balthazar. The angel stood stock still, perfectly unmoved. "Earthquake?" Dean asked.

Balthazar turned his head and looked down at him. "For a start." And then he motioned to the horizon, which there was more of in South Dakota than almost anywhere else.

Dean grasped Sam's arm, and they rose together as the plate tectonics took a breather. He looked out at the horizon and stepped toward it, like a few feet could make the difference between whatever he was supposed to see and blindness. He felt Sam come to his elbow. "I don't--"

And then he did. Cold horror poured over his head, dripped down the backs of his legs. White blades of light pierced through the clouds, just fell down from the sky, and left mushrooms of red and black smoke in their wake. First just a few, one there at the edge of the sky. Then another. Dean's heart kicked up, so hard, so fast his fingertips throbbed with it. A dozen landed. A hundred. Silent and swift, they hit, hit, hit. "What is that?" he asked, barely speaking.

Balthazar came closer and looked over at him steadily, waiting until Dean turned his questioning gaze toward him. "That," he said, "is the Wrath of God. Raphael's will."

Sam spun in a circle, his breathing growing quicker as more bolts hit the ground, more dirt and fire filled the air. But no sound. No explosions, just a silent film of fire. "But he's destroying--"

"Everything," the angel finished for him, looking grim. He looked them both in the eyes for a moment and then glanced over as the door to Bobby's house opened and slapped closed. Dean three weeks hence came running out of the building, followed by Sam and Bobby.

Balthazar gripped both boys quickly on the arm. "You are here to watch. They cannot see you. You cannot stop it."

Dean shrugged off his grip and stared as Future Him paused to look at the destruction. Finally, finally, roars from the explosions started to carry across the lot. They came from all directions, blending together into a hum like heavy tires on the road. The air growled, shook, vibrated with the echo of power. The other them shouted over the impossible din, pointing, and Dean's eyes flicked to the front door of the house. A suited man stalked out of it. Followed by another. And another. Angels.

Dean started forward, but Balthazar grabbed his arm again. "Let me go!" he shouted, struggling like a caught fish. Balthazar held him, an immovable object, as angels poured from the house like copies from The Matrix, gushed from its maw like demon smoke. Future Dean turned and started to run for the garage, but a squad of black-suited thugs appeared from nothing. He stumbled to a halt and backed up, looking for another route.

With rising terror, Dean watched himself being surrounded. He was weaponless. They both were. This couldn't happen. He couldn't let this happen! He turned and glanced back at Balthazar, leaning all his weight against the angel's grip. Balthazar's face was stony, and his gaze was set on the tableau. Sam was watching his own future self scrawling something in the dirt. Dean's heart beat panic. So many suits, too many.

"Dean!"

He jerked, blinked, and Cas was standing in front of him, calling out to the man surrounded.

The angels all stopped and turned their heads in unison to stare at Castiel. Cas clenched and unclenched his hands at his sides. Dean could see him counting the odds, and for a second the wound in his chest swelled with pride, with hope. Balthazar's hold on Dean's arm relaxed, and he darted forward so he could see Cas's face. If he harbored fear, he didn't show it.

The door to Bobby's house swung open on its own, and that warm feeling in Dean's chest withered as Raphael stepped out. He looked at his troops, twenty angels to a man and slowly grinned. "Will you kneel, Castiel?" he bellowed from the porch, his voice carrying with the thrum of an angel's power.

"Cas, don't!" Dean's other self cried.

Dean watched Cas angle a long look toward that cry, something subtle, sad, and dear passing over his expression, and then square himself against his brother. "We will fight you," he rumbled.

And that was his Cas. "Yes!" Dean shouted, not sure if their future selves could hear him.

Raphael shook his head slowly.

With a great whumph of flapping wings, the number of angels at Bobby's lot doubled, and with seemingly no signal from either side, the fighting began.

If you could call it fighting.

Raphael appeared in front of Cas and knocked the angel blade from his hand with ease. Cas grabbed his wrist and stumbled back a step, while Dean's eyes widened in sudden, sure dread. "Cas!" He started to rush for him, and then found himself on his knees, unable to move. Rage blasted through his body. Angel tricks. "Balthazar! You son of a bitch!"

The angel in question knelt suddenly next to him, speaking into his ear. "I told you, no interfering, pet."

Dean seethed and struggled, trying to make his limbs move. "Let. Me. Go!" He bucked with each word and panted helplessly as Raphael forced Cas further back into the junkyard. Future Dean was somewhere over Dean's shoulder. You better be fighting, Dean thought. He couldn't look, couldn't have seen if he tried. He didn't try. He pushed against whatever force held him and strained in Castiel's direction, as Raphael toyed with him.

Cas took a swing with his uninjured hand. Raphael brushed it aside, and then beat him across the face with a fist that radiated white light. Dean's stomach lurched as Cas hit the ground, hard, blood gushing from his mouth and nose. He convulsed.

"Cas!" Dean bellowed and tried to lean forward, get closer. Not good. Not good. "Cas!" Dean scrambled for air, panting the more he struggled.

Raphael bent and grabbed Castiel by the hair, hauling him up to his knees. Cas gasped and glared up at him, managing to cough blood onto the archangel's clean suit. Raphael smiled down at him and then turned both their heads toward one of the masses of black suits, bubbling with violence. Bright flashes lit the sky as angels from both sides died. Dean couldn't see his future self in the fray, couldn't see how many he'd managed to take down with him. What he could see was Castiel's face. The sudden flash of his eyes when he saw his Dean among the combatants. "No," Cas mouthed, and started to struggle against the archangel's grip. He pushed, he kicked, hell, he clawed, sending shocks of grace at Raphael's hands. Impossibly wide eyes stayed locked just over Dean's shoulder. Cas panted as he wrung himself, trying to reach, to move. "Dean!" he heaved. "Dean!!!"

Then, he stopped. Froze.

Dean blinked at him and could not tear his eyes away. He knew. Part of him knew just then what had happened and shoved the away.

Castiel's eyes fell shut, and he sagged, his whole body sinking in lifeless surrender. The only thing holding him from the dirt was Raphael's hand fisted in his hair. It lasted a second of forever, Dean barely breathing, his blood rushing so loud in his ears, Cas sprawled limp in the dust, blood falling drop by drop from his chin. When Cas opened his eyes again to look at his brother, tears slid down each cheek.

Dean's ribs hurt, his face hurt. Panic rushed over his skin, a sharp chill and then a burn. Cas wasn't fighting. Why wasn't he fighting? "Cas!" His cry came out choked.

Raphael slid an angel blade out of his sleeve and held it up to Castiel's chin. Cas blinked back at him dumbly. "Nothing to say to me, Castiel?" Cas turned his head just enough to see out onto the killing field. Where his gaze landed, it stayed, as though Raphael did not stand over him. Did not hold a blade to his throat. As though there were nothing else in the universe to divide his attention.

The archangel snorted. "Pathetic."

Dean felt a shriek rising. This couldn't-- This wasn't-- "Castiel! Cas, no! Cas!!"

Raphael thrust the blade home, through Cas's neck and out the back, with no resistance. White light flashed within Cas's vessel for a second, and as Raphael let the body drop onto the ground, the shadow of wings burned across the dirt.

It took Dean a second to realize the howling sound was coming from him. He pushed against whatever spell Balthazar had over him until his bones would break. Heat and horror and loss made the world spin as he struggled. And then suddenly he was free, falling face first onto the ground. Dean scrambled to Cas's side, his face hot and wet with tears. Cas. Cas. He put a trembling hand on his chest, just to touch him, and shook his head. He couldn't-- How could he just-- Dean heaved a breath and looked up in the direction Cas had been staring.

Future Him lay in the dust, a silver blade jutting from his throat, pinning him to the earth.

Dean swallowed and touched his own throat. Then jerked his gaze away to the rest of the field gone quiet. Suited bodies littered the ground. Shaking, Dean pushed himself to his feet but couldn't make himself take a step closer. The angels had pinned Sam to the earth through the chest. Where he was sure Bobby had once been, there was a wide spray of gore. Raphael's angels stood watching their leader as he mounted the stairs to Bobby's porch.

"We'd better go." Dean jumped at the sudden sound of Balthazar's voice in his ear.

"What?"

The angel pointed skyward as Raphael spread his arms wide. "Wrath of God," he said simply.

Dean looked down at Castiel's body, his blue eyes open and dull with death. He nodded.



***



It was a good thing Balthazar brought them right back where they started. Dean's knees wobbled, and he dropped onto the bed heavily. Cas... Sam... Bobby...

He heard Sam drop onto the edge of his own bed and sigh.

Dean looked up to see Balthazar studying him intently. "He gave up," he said, voice thick and hoarse from screaming. Because of me, he didn't add. But that was clear enough. He saw it in Cas's eyes the moment his future self died.

Balthazar's eyes narrowed. "Yes, I suppose he did."

The air was difficult to breathe, and Dean tried to calculate just what that meant. Cas had said it twice now. "I did it, all of it, for you."

Sam leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. Dean heard him take an unsteady and clear his throat. "Is that really what happens?" Sam asked, and Dean lifted his head enough to focus on his brother.

Balthazar crossed his arms and looked down at him. "It's one possible future, yes."

Possible? Anger flared in Dean's chest. "So you just made that up, then. Chose the worst one to show us." So like an angel.

Balthazar glared at him. "It is a possible future. One in which we lose to Raphael, which did seem, if you'll pardon me, the most pertinent. And unless you imbiciles change something, that's about how it will go. Maybe not at Bobby Singer's Junkyard. Maybe you'll be at the beach. Or in bed. Does it matter?"

Dean wasn't sure it did. And a look at Sam confirmed that he didn't think it did either.

Balthazar gazed at them both. "Excellent. Now, as amusing as this has been, there's a whorehouse in Italy with my name on it. Tick-tock, boys."

And he was gone. Dean stared for a second at the empty space where the world's dirtiest angel had stood and then shifted his gaze to his brother. Sam wore the Face of Perpetual Worry. "It could be a trick," he offered, not sounding convinced.

Dean sighed. "Yeah. Could be. Doubt it, though." Castiel screaming his name echoed in his memory. His skin ached. He rubbed his hands together for a while, studying the floor and feeling Sam's eyes on him. Everything. Everybody. Always on him. Dean jerked to his feet. "I'm heading out," he said, not looking at Sam.

"O-kay... where?" Sam replied, not moving to follow.

Dean grabbed his jacket from the chair and started packing his things into his duffel bag. "You should have Bobby come get you."

"I what? Dean. Where are you going?"

He heard Sam stand and come closer and glanced over his shoulder. "Bainbridge, Ohio."

"That's... Isn't that the town where Samhain--"

"Yeah." Dean cut him off, zipped up the bag, and hefted it to his shoulder. He turned to confront Sam's confused face.

"Why there?"

Dean thought for a second about explaining. But there were some things... some things that were okay to keep personal. "Cause. Just, look, call Bobby, all right?"

"Dean."

He turned and headed for the door. "I'll be fine, Sammy."

"Dean!"

He shut the door on his brother's exasperated sigh and headed for the car. There were a lot of miles to cover, and apparently not a lot of time.

Continue to Scene 2

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Comments

This is great and really intriguing! I can't wait to see more.
I hope you like Scene 2!
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. :)
OmG! Yes! This is just the kind of fix-it fic I have been looking for.

And even though I hate Balthazar, I love how you used him to show the boys the bigger picture. Finally!

Even if you don't like him, he's a nice plot device. ;) I'm glad I made him palatable. =)
I love your Balthazar. He's pitch perfect in my eyes. Cas crying into his Cheerios and being a free bitch, love!

But oh god, this ached. Cas watching Dean die and there was nothing he could do broke my heart and giving up right then.

Dean's going to Bainbridge? That is like super awesome. Him and Cas really bonded there.

Can't wait for more.
Haha! You know Baltie is a Gaga fan. ;)

It really is the key moment, watching Castiel surrender. I hope it breaks Dean's heart like it does mine.
I really think that they don't. So I really hope that gets addressed soon. :-/
Wow, haunting but great story so far. It's so sad Cas gave up, but I know it would happen, after all it really was all for Dead; too bad it took seeing Cas die to get the message through.

I just wish something like this could really happen in the show so the boys could see the reason Cas is sacrificing so much for them. It really ticked me off that they did not get the gravity of what would happen if Cas lost the war. I'm glad you are making Dean get the point here.

I can't wait to see this updated! Great work!!!!!!
Thanks! And it's not that I don't think they could grasp what they're up against, but that Castiel just doesn't know how or when to say the right things. We know so much more about what's going on and why than they do, and it's frustrating to watch him not tell them.
Me wants more!
Scene 2 is up! :)
It is a personal theory of mine that Castiel's tragic flaw is not pride, but an inability to express himself in a way Dean can understand.

This is exactly the problem. So glad to see someone addressing it.

But did you have to do it in such a gut wrenching way?! :p I'm almost certain now that whatever happens in the finale, I'm going to have no heart left to break with fics like this!

Can't wait for part 2 :)
Unfortunately, heartbreak IS Dean's language. Visceral responses are all he understands. He's essentially a hedonist, who interacts with the world through food, sex, alcohol, physical violence, and emotion.

I don't want to know what the finale will do to us all... :(

August 2013

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