"Are you seriously telling me that Gabriel invented the platypus?" Tried to confirm Sam.
"Have you ever seen one? Of course he did. And you should have seen the ones that Father rejected."
At this point, Dean can't stop laughing, and if he doesn't calm down he's going to throw his pasta all over the floor, but he doesn't seem to care. No one could tell anymore if Sam was laughing at his brother or at our conversation, but it doesn't matter either. I laughed too, but not nearly as hard as them. Castiel's face is starting to worry me.
"Did you make anything?"
I turned to Crowley, as a shy smile lights my face up. His gentle laugh still ringed in my ears when I answered him, nodding, with my voice full of pride.
"I made dogs." His mouth takes the shape of a small 'o', but he remained silent, waiting for me to continue. "As a gift for Lucifer, believe it or not," I added, not so happy anymore. The name seemed to have a serious effect on everyone, because both laughs died suddenly. "Then the asshead gave one to Lilith and she made Hellhounds. Yay, " I said sarcastically, minimally raising the mood.
"So I owe Juliet to you, then." Said Crowley, kindly, and ignoring the looks we were getting from the Winchesters. Suddenly, Castiel wasn't so out of place. "Thanks."
"There's pie in the kitchen, if somebody feels like having dessert," offered Dean, starting to get up.
"Sounds great, yeah," replied Sam.
"Don't worry, I'll get it," I said, "Cas, would you mind helping me?"
He nodded, stood up and followed me, not even once changing his confused expression.
When we got to the kitchen, I spoke.
"What is it, Castiel?"
My brother frowned even more.
"I don't understand what are you referring to."
"You look like someone just ran over your puppy," I explained, maybe more aggressively than I intended.
"I don't... have a puppy."
"Well, you should get one, maybe it'll help with that mood of yours." The angel remained silent, and my frustration just got worse. "Listen, I know you don't like Crowley but this is getting ridiculous." I got the pie out of the fridge, and handed it over to Cas. "Could you at least try to have a good time, for me?"
Castiel's face enlightened with, what I assumed, was understanding.
"I am having a good time."
"Then why do you look so constipated?" I asked, equally annoyed and confused, as I grabbed more plates.
"I'm just... Worried, about the nature of your relationship with Crowley."
"...‘ My re--’ ? ‘ The nature of--’ ?" I blinked several times, shocked. Realizing that I was frozen in my place, I regained control over my vessel and I continued to reunite the items needed. I thought I was doing a good job keeping my emotions to myself. I thought wrong, obviously. "I have no relationship with Crowley for you to worry about, dear brother." My voice came out mechanical, like a planned speech. Maybe because those were the words I told myself every second of the day, mechanically, in repeat.
"You and the demon seem to be close."
Dad damnit, Castiel.
Silence -or even acceptance- was probably the best option in that case, but at the moment, I didn't realize it. Instead, I replied a "No idea what you're talking about," and left the kitchen, with my heart beating in my mouth.
"Are you okay?" Asked Crowley when I sat back on the table. "Your face is red."
"Really? How odd."
I cursed mentally; to my formality, to my brother, and to the king of hell, for being able to see the true me.
"And the pie?"
"It's here. Sorry for making you wait,” said Castiel, appearing through the door with the dessert in his hands.
I felt Crowley's eyes on the back of my head, but when I turned to see him, he was looking somewhere else.
Things got quieter, to the point we were all just eating in silence.
"Fine, forget rule number two. We can discuss the plan now if you want."
"Thank God!" Exclaimed Dean, rolling his eyes. "As soon as we get the shattered angel, we'll continue how we arranged. But for now, our main priority is to find them." He said, talking to Crowley.
"I see..." nodded the demon. He stole a glimpse in my direction and continued. "How are we planning to do that?"
" We ?" Repeated Sam.
"Well, Nyila is more of a problem to me than she is to you, obviously. The least I can do is help."
"Great!" I said, before the Winchesters could keep complaining, which didn't stop them from staring at me in disbelief. "The more the merrier. Especially when we have to research through the entire library."
"If you guys need help, we can help you,” said Dean.
"You are not going to sleep-deprive yourselves again," I said, in a voice tone that made clear that it was not up to discussion. "Cas and I can stay up all night perfectly, and having Crowley here only means we will be done faster."
"What exactly are we looking for?"
"A spell, maybe. Anything that can take us to a shattered angel, or, at least, that can help us find an angel's grace."
Sam's eyes met his brother's, full of concern and doubt. They did not trust Crowley. They did not . However, the archangel seemed to be able to see something in him that they were obviously missing. I mean, she was a freaking archangel. The freaking archangel. The first and most powerful creation of God. If he wasn't trustworthy, she should know, right? She saw lies being created, she must know how to recognize one. Right?
"And are we sure that there even is one out there?" Crowley asked. "Not trying to question you, dear. Just wanna be on the same page,” he clarified instantly.
"Yes, Castiel remembers an angel being shattered. It's our best shot," I replied, my eyes meeting my brother's.
"Bollocks!" Cursed Crowley as he shot up from the chair, with his shirt soaking in red wine. I instantly realized that I had spilled his drink when I turned around to see Castiel. It was my fault.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" I apologized, standing up too. I materialized a dry cloth and handed it to him, embarrassed, and fighting the urge to clean him myself. "I ruined your shirt, I'm sorry."
"Darling, it's alright,” he said, waving off my worries, "it's just clothes. Not much big of a deal."
" Just clothes ? Who are you and what have you done with Crowley?" Mocked Dean, making me feel worse.
"Oh, crap,” I whispered, "I'll get you a new one, I promise."
"Seraphiel," said Crowley, placing his hands in my upper arms to calm me down, "It's fine. I swear."
"Really? Okay," I breathed, almost voiceless, as I tried to smile. The anxiety I was feeling started to be replaced with something else, something I did not dare name.
Crowley took a step back, taking his hands off of me. My arms felt instantly too light, like a part of them had been ripped off.
The phantom touch of his hands was still on me when he spoke to everyone in the room. "I'm gonna go get myself cleaned up, and then we can start looking for that spell."
He nodded a gesture that could be understood as a "goodbye" and in a snap of his fingers, he was gone, and so was the only thing that kept me from thinking straight.
And, well, shit .
Not only did I thought he was actually flirting with me ( me! ), but I also had been an absolute mess. A literal walking disaster.
"Sera, are you okay?"
I looked up, just now noticing I had been staring at my feet, and I found Sam's concerned face looking at me. And way closer than I remembered.
"Oh! Yes, I'm fine. I'm fine," I repeated, more to myself than to him. He didn't seem to notice.
"You sure?" Interrupted Dean, not letting his brother accept my lie.
"Yeah, really. Don't worry about me."
Castiel, who was about to walk out of the room, stopped and turned around.
"You do seem a little strange. Is there anything bothering you?"
"Okay, what is this, an interrogation?" I snapped, more violently than I wanted. The three men stood there, not wanting to upset me. They were just trying to help. " Fuck . Sorry. I'm sorry. I shouldn't ha-.. "
"It's okay, we shouldn't have pushed it,” replied Dean, smiling warmly. Castiel nodded, agreeing silently with the hunter.
"No, you’re right. There is something bothering me, alright? But we have to find Madziel, and then perform the spell, and then take care of Nyila. It's not the moment to deal with my issues." After a deep breath, I added, “I really appreciate your concern, though.”
"I'm-... We, all of us, are always willing to listen, okay? Anytime. Whatever it is, we can try to help,” said Sam, and then continued, "I'm going to bed now, but call if anything happens."
When I tried to reply, I realized that their attention was focused on something behind me. I turned around and found Crowley, in a new suit, standing a few steps away from me.
He smiled, silently, and motioned me to continue.
"I'm going to check on you both in a while, and if you're not sleeping by 11 p.m. I'll kick your asses. Set your alarms for 10 a.m: If we find something before I'll wake you up at 8 or so. Okay?"
"Yeah. Goodnight," replied Sam, nodding.
The Winchesters waved a goodbye and walked away, hopefully to do as I told.
"Where do we start?" Asked Crowley, smiling.
I put together a task list in my head that looked a lot like this:
□ Clean the table.
□ Search in the archive all the books that might have something useful.
□ Find said books in the mess they call library.
□ Read said books.
□Don't embarrass myself more than strictly necessary.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? Something tells me that it won't be so simple.
Especially if Castiel doesn't stop looking at me like that.
"First of all, I'm going to take those to the kitchen. You guys can help me, if you want."
Their eyes met, in what I assumed was the offer of a truce.
"Of course, dear."
We took the dishes to the kitchen in a fairly comfortable silence.
As I put the dishwasher to work, I focused on deciding how was I going to act.
"Shall we head to the library?"
I decided poorly.
"We won't find anything in that disaster unless we know exactly what we're looking for, so we need to check the archives first."
Castiel and Crowley nodded, and followed me through the hallways of the bunker. We ended up in front of a door with an "Inventory" sign.
"Are you ready?" I tried to joke, lightening the mood. I opened the door, and we found ourselves in front of a table with six chairs, surrounded by three rows of file cabinets. I walked in, and started giving orders. "Anything biblical, in Enochian or about angels goes in the table. If something seems especially promising, it goes in pile A," I said pointing the right side of the table, "everything that might be useful goes in pile B, and pile C is for the stuff that's probably nothing but we can't leave out. Understood?"
The angel muttered a "yes", and started walking towards the cabinet in the corner. I noticed that the demon had remained silent. I turned around to see him, and found him staring at my back.
I realized just then that I had left my scar uncovered.
"Crap. Sorry," I mumbled as I put my hair down, strategically over the awful scar that crossed my back, like it usually was. I always kept it covered- it was upsetting for Castiel and the other angels, and disturbing for the rest of the world.
"Darling, I'm the King of Hell," he said, reassuring. "I've seen worse, you don't have to hide it."
"It's okay. I don't mind."
"Why do you keep it covered like that?"
I felt myself hitting a -metaphorical- wall. I wasn't trying to hide that detail, I was just trying to ignore it.
"Well, I just-..."
"We can start with these,” interrupted Castiel, a bunch of files in hand. He had probably taken everything in the first cabinet.
Crowley eyed me one last time before sitting down. He didn't say anything else.
Cas left the papers on the edge of the table. There were about thirty, if not more, yellow thin carpets, with a tiny label with the name and the author of the book they were about. Once you opened them, there was a more complete file, from the year they were written, their origin, their language, and their contents.
This is going to be a long night.