[personal profile] alchemyalice
Title: On the Wings of War
Author: Alchemy Alice
Genre and/or Pairing: Action/Adventure/Horror, Dean/Castiel
Rating: R for violence
Warnings/Spoilers: Up to 5.14-ish.
Disclaimer: The characters and the sandbox in which they play does not belong to me. I am simply borrowing for a short time.
Summary: The Horsemen are not just people with fancy rings. They aren’t even demons with fancy rings. They are another species entirely, a force unto themselves, and Lucifer is kidding himself if he thinks that they are at his beck and call. They are separate. They are neutral. Dean Winchester is not built like them.

A/N: Holy shit, it's finally finished. And I am terrified that this last little bit is anticlimactic and weird. I tried? Ack. Thanks to everyone who stuck with it, and I hope this doesn't disappoint.

Prologue | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine | Chapter Ten | Chapter Eleven | Chapter Twelve | Chapter Thirteen | Chapter Fourteen | Chapter Fifteen | Chapter Sixteen | Chapter Seventeen | Chapter Eighteen | Chapter Nineteen | Chapter Twenty | Chapter Twenty-One | Chapter Twenty-Two | Chapter Twenty-Three | Chapter Twenty-Four | Chapter Twenty-Five | Chapter Twenty-Six| Chapter Twenty-Seven


When Sam came back down for breakfast, he didn’t say a thing. Just made toast and eggs and poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot Dean had made.

He allowed himself one glance at Cas sitting on the couch, bent forward, and Dean sitting on the floor, leaning against the angel’s legs and steadily inhaling his own mug of coffee, head tilted slightly back to rest against Cas’s.

He grinned.

Bobby didn’t even blink when he came down. Just growled, “So you’re back I see,” and went out to the garage.

Dean figured that was about as much of a blessing as he could get. He exhaled slowly, and leaned back when Castiel’s hand slid against the back of his neck.

It felt good, Sam thought, to have done something right all by himself again. He kept smiling into his mug, and pulled out a candy bar from the cupboard, leaving it on the kitchen table for Gabriel to pick up.

After a second thought, he put out a second one as well. It felt like a two-Twix day.


The morning passed quietly, for such a momentous one. Well, it felt momentous for Dean, at least.

Cas had tasted like ash, and then like Dean, and then, a bit later, like the black coffee Dean poured for them both as the sun came up.

He tasted like he was done with waiting. And Dean was down with that.

He looked out the window, feeling the coffee warm him. It felt like years had passed since he’d first slipped that ring on, years since his skin had gone cold and turned the color of ashes. It felt like years, and it felt like days, and it also felt like he was beginning to forget it, like his mind had come to the conclusion that it couldn’t actually cope with remembering, so it was going to put the war, the goddamn apocalypse, into a neatly sealed box and lock it away forever.

It wasn’t going to last. The heat of the hellscape still licked at his heels sometimes. This whole fiasco would be no different.

The faint echoes of his wings hadn’t faded, not the sandpaper feel of their presence at his back.

If he really took the effort to reflect, he would recognize that these past few months he’d been grieving for a life he would never have, a life that Michael had saved him from. There was irony somewhere in there that he wasn’t prepared to deal with.

Cas came back, though. He came back, and Jesus but that didn’t happen often to Dean.

And looking at Cas—who looked at him now with something he was still almost afraid to call devotion, who wore those wings gracefully no matter what he said—Dean thought he could live with the loss.

He could live.


Dean encountered a Horseman only once more in his lifetime, and it was six months after the Apocalypse-that-wasn’t. He went to sleep exhausted from exorcizing a poltergeist in Texas, collapsing into bed having only barely managed to get his boots off.

And then.

“Hello, Dean Winchester.”

“How’s it rolling, hot shot?” he said, his own voice sounding strange and hollow in that same old dreamed parking lot, damp with evening rain.

“It’s fine, Dean,” Michael answered. He had his hands in the pockets of his trousers. He’d reverted to Lucas Wynchestre’s eighteenth century wardrobe it seemed; the black morning coat and cravat made him look, appropriately, like a funeral director from a Dickens novel. He appeared thin and pale and fragile, even as his skin refracted with angelic light. The black of his wings made him, inescapably, an angel of Death. “It is…enough.”

Dean looked at him shrewdly. “That doesn’t really seem like a recipe for happiness to me, dude.”

“I will know happiness when I am in my Father’s light again,” and then, before Dean could object in outrage, “I’m afraid that is how I am programmed, you see.”

“That is fucking unfair,” Dean stated.

Michael snorted quietly. “I agree.”

They sat against the hood of the Impala, which sat placidly beneath the streetlamp, collecting dew. Dean let the seat of his jeans grow cold and damp.

“Can I do anything?” he offered, eventually. Michael had seemed content to sit in silence, like somehow Dean’s dreamscape was some sort of strange escape into solace.

“I think you’ve done quite enough,” Michael said gently, and it was both a comfort and a rebuke, which made Dean sort of hate himself for a brief second.

But then again, he reflected, they’d all made their choices.

“Okay,” he said in reply.

Michael pulled a pocket watch from the inside of Lucas Wynchestre’s pocket. “The night is nearly over for you,” he says. “I will leave you to your day.”

“Wait,” Dean grabbed his wrist. “When it’s my time, you’ll come and get me personally, right?” He shuffled in discomfort. “I mean, I like Tessa and all, and it’d be nice to see her again, but I don’t know if I’ll really accept it unless it’s you.”

Michael brushed his knuckles down the plane of Dean’s cheek. “I wouldn’t trust anyone else with your passing, I assure you. And should anyone try to interfere with you or your brother before your time…let us just say that I will not tolerate it.”

Dean quirked a grin. “You are one scary motherfucker. I knew I liked you for a reason.”

Michael still wore a dead man’s face, but his answering grin was full and toothy nonetheless. “Good bye, Dean. Until then.”


(Dean slept a few more minutes before waking, and by then Michael was back at Gabriel’s side.

Gabriel said, with a crooked smile, “No more prophecies? No more plans?”

Michael answered, “None.” He turned to regard his brother, and said, “You know, this wasn’t the Apocalypse at all. This was the Emancipation of Heaven and Earth. This was the second beginning of free will.”

And Gabriel breathed, “Alleluia.”)


Dean woke those few minutes later, the South Dakota sun a polar opposite to the damp chill of the autumnal parking lot, and he shifted in Castiel’s arms and leaned close. “Hey,” he said quietly, at the angel’s sleeping face, “So. I’m not afraid of death anymore.”

Castiel opened his eyes. “At this point,” he said, somewhat snidely, “I should think death would be the one afraid of you.”

Dean laughed, surprised and amazed, and felt lighter than he had in years.

They lay in bed together and breathed like ordinary men.

The wings of War blanketed them both.


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Date: 2011-07-18 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilfirin-estel.livejournal.com
I love this end! Don't know what you're worried about, I think it's perfect. <3 Especially the Michael-Gabriel part. Alleluia, indeed.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:29 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! It's just been so long since I started this whole thing that I had a hell of a time trying to wrap it up. So I'm very relieved that it worked for you :D

Date: 2011-07-18 06:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lady81bird.livejournal.com
Lovely. Wonderful ending for a wonderful fic.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:30 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you so much, especially for sticking with it all this time!

Date: 2011-07-18 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mulder200.livejournal.com
“Hey,” he said quietly, at the angel’s sleeping face, “So. I’m not afraid of death anymore.”

Castiel opened his eyes. “At this point,” he said, somewhat snidely, “I should think death would be the one afraid of you.”

LOL! SO true!

And considering everything they went through and sacrificed, I think it's a fitting ending for them all.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:30 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, I'm so glad you found it fitting :D

Date: 2011-07-18 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mclachlan.livejournal.com
Damn, girl. This was the perfect ending to one roller coaster ride of a story. I can't believe it's over.

Take a bow! You should be proud.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:31 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Whew, I'm glad it worked! I can't believe it either, this thing has been ridiculous.

Thank you so much for sticking with it all this time! :D

Date: 2011-07-19 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] siehn.livejournal.com
This was perfect.

I will rec this forever. and ever.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:31 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you so much, I'm so glad you like it! :D

Date: 2011-07-19 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mstormi.livejournal.com
I don't know whether to cry because this is over or not! This is one of the best stories i have ever read. It's beautiful. <3 x bazillion

Date: 2011-07-19 01:31 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, that's so kind of you to say! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it, and thank you for reading :)

Date: 2011-07-19 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] libriscum.livejournal.com
Holy Shit!

Thats fantastic, I just read it all at once, and just wow.

Fantastic world building, weaving in the epicness of the mythology with the central messages about free will and change (seriously well done.)

Excellent bittersweet ending, thanks so much for sharing this.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:33 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, so much, those are wonderful things to hear! I'm glad the central themes worked for you in addition to the mythology, that was definitely the most interesting and difficult part of this project. Thank you for reading it all!

Date: 2011-07-19 06:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 0-0dbo-o.livejournal.com
Okay, how did you manage to line up the end of this fic right with my seeing the end of Harry Potter? It's like a solar eclipse of endings. I'm going to have to sleep to process that suddenly it's over.
And, uh, save the .pdf file. And read it again.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:34 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Haha yes, I guess it's just a season of finishing stuff! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, though, thank you so much for reading it! :D


Date: 2011-07-19 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sanur.livejournal.com
This is Dean/Castiel done right! Love the story line and peaceful ending, beautiful imagery. That's how I see love is, in the hands of someone you want to spend your life with. Thanks for sharing the story :)

Re: Beautiful!

Date: 2011-07-19 07:39 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm very glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for reading :)

Date: 2011-07-19 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellethill.livejournal.com
This was gorgeous, and definitely well worth the wait. I loved the calm and peaceful feeling it exuded, and it certainly wrapped things up in the best way. It was wonderful to read this story as it was being written, and I'm downloading the .pdf for future happy readings :)

One thing, though: He allowed himself one glance at Cas sitting on the couch, bent forward, and Dean sitting on the floor, leaning against the angel’s legs and steadily inhaling his own mug of coffee, head tilted slightly back to rest against Cas’s.
I'm just trying to get the scene straight in my head. Does this mean that Cas was leaning forward enough so that their heads were touching?

Date: 2011-07-20 11:23 am (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for sticking around for me to get my act together and finish!

Yes, you've got the scene right. I admit the syntax is awkward, but I couldn't figure out a better way to write it :)

Date: 2011-07-20 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jade-dragoness.livejournal.com
*sighs happily*

I can't tell you how utterly delighted this fic makes me. It's so epic! And not just in length (which is awesome) but in the sheer imagery and plot and characterization and and and everything! I adore it so.

I can tell you that I will be rereading this again and again, especially on those days where I want to curl up on the couch and just lose myself for hours into the world. *sighs happily*

Thank you. Thank you so much for not only writing this beauty of a fic but also for then letting us read it.

Date: 2011-07-22 12:33 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you've enjoyed the story enough to follow it even when its progress slowed so drastically. Your feedback has definitely kept me going, so thank you not only for reading it, but for being so generous with your comments all the time :)

Date: 2011-07-20 06:39 pm (UTC)
ext_1246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] dossier.livejournal.com
hah! incredible story, the ultimate --nay, epitome-- wingfic, the one to rule them all. The resolution was marvelous! thank you so much, I really enjoyed reading it, and shall do so again.

Date: 2011-07-22 12:34 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked how it all came together. Thank you for reading it :)

Date: 2011-07-20 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deancaslover32.livejournal.com
Jesus your story was EPIC I read it from start to finish and I was amazed I dont' even know what to say about it but OMG!!!! Wonderful story!!!! I enjoyed it so much.

Date: 2011-07-22 12:35 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it! :D

Date: 2011-07-20 10:50 pm (UTC)
ext_3277: I made this (Cas)
From: [identity profile] laura-trekkie.livejournal.com
I don't even know where to start with my feedback here! Do I start with the exciting plot, the great characterisation, the angst, the action, the near constant feeling of 'OMG, you did what to who now?', all the little details...?

The plot must have taken some planning, getting all the players in the right place at the right time, when things like who, exactly, made Dean put that ring on in the first place didn't get revealed until very late on in the story. I liked all the cause and effect of Dean's change and how it led to changes for so many others. The whole ragtag bunch of good guys went through some kind of change by the end and most of them were for the better.

I loved all the characterisations- the voices were spot on. But, being a Dean/Cas girl, it was those characterisations I loved the most. Dean had a lot to adapt to, but Cas was always beside him with his unwavering belief in Dean's ability to cope, to triumph, and doing everything he could, sacrificing himself once more to give Dean the chance. And it went both ways, with Dean fighting just as hard to save Cas when he needed it.

I'm glad you didn't make Dean giving Cas his wings into a big old reset button. Dean no longer has wings, but his life hasn't returned to normal. Yes, he can go out in public, can fit into the Impala again and get through doorways without having to hunch over, but he's still got that bit of War in him, he's still got the phantom feeling of wings and the discoloured skin and, most importantly of all, the memories. And Castiel is healed, he has wings again, but they aren't angelic and it's changed him into something different, something a little darker perhaps, but still essentially Cas. I'm glad they finally got to where they could deal with their feelings for each other, talking about it in their own awkward way.

I could really go on and on with my praise and my favourite bits of plot or character; which snarky bits made me grin, which close calls made me worried or sad, which stubborn mules made me want to bash some heads together, but I'd be here for hours and it's already nearly midnight.

Suffice it to say that I've read all of this in one go, stopping only for work, sleep and food... and I was late for work and late to bed. :D


Date: 2011-07-22 12:59 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Oh my goodness, thank you for such effusive and wonderful feedback!

I have to admit that planning was not my forte on this one, but I'm gratified that it came across as such. It was a lot of fun to try and figure out who the hell was doing what along the way, in fact! And I'm very glad the characterizations seemed true to you, that's always what I hope to get right the most.

In any case, thank you for such generous praise, and thank you so much for reading! :)

Date: 2011-07-22 11:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] websandwhiskers.livejournal.com
I have really enjoyed this story - well told, and far more complex and satisfying than what we got in canon. You carried all your themes through, even if you did leaves some things open-ended (as they often are in life). Very nice work.

Date: 2011-07-25 12:31 am (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you very much, those are really great comments to hear! Thank you for reading :)

Date: 2011-07-26 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] julorean.livejournal.com
Oh. ohhhhhhh, that was fantastic. So damn good. The action and Dean/Cas and Sam and Gabe and everything! What an amazing story. And that last line is so perfect.

Date: 2011-07-27 12:05 am (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm glad you found it enjoyable, and thank you for reading it!

Date: 2011-07-30 01:30 pm (UTC)
silverusagi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverusagi

I knew I wanted to wait until this was done to read it, because I had such fun doing a marathon reading of Dies Irae when I discovered it. I love fics where Dean and Sam get a bunch of random beings all joining their cause and it ending in a truly apocalyptic battle. Also, the title On the Wings of War makes so much more sense now that I've read it. :)

Date: 2011-07-30 09:41 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for all of your comments, it was awesome to get your play-by-play :D

Date: 2011-08-15 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caedesdeo.livejournal.com
....how in every hell there is did I manage to miss this?!

Short, sweet, and a perfect ending to an amazing, brilliant, captivating story. I have adored reading every single bit of it. :D


Date: 2011-08-16 12:02 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm glad it wrapped up well for you. Thank you for sticking with it all this time!

Date: 2011-08-16 01:22 am (UTC)
ext_120093: (SPN Dean fear no evil by exp0se)
From: [identity profile] morganoconner.livejournal.com
Oh my god.


Oh my god.

Date: 2011-08-16 12:03 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-08-19 03:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heathyr-iltp.livejournal.com
This was completely beautiful. I let out a kind of sigh when I finished it here. This one will stay on my mind for days to come.

Date: 2011-08-19 01:45 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Date: 2011-09-04 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tygerc.livejournal.com
Wow. I don't think there are words to describe how awesome this is.

Date: 2011-09-05 05:44 am (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, I'm really glad you liked it! :)

Date: 2011-09-14 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cedelede.livejournal.com
It's rare that I stumble on a fic that is so mind-blowingly epic that my mind kind of goes blank with awe. But I'm definitely there.

This fic combines some of the things I love best about Supernatural. The way the angels are like lost children that have been hurt and don't understand why or what they've done wrong. The conflict within themselves over their deep love for their brothers and the need they have to be loyal to a God that they don't understand. I was heart-broken at Lucifer's last words and found the last conversation between Gabriel and Michael beautiful. Everything about the situation with the angels and God being gone in the show has felt like maybe God is trying to teach the angels about free will so the Emancipation of Heaven and Earth seemed very fitting.

Coupled with that is the way Dean and Cas go to whatever lengths necessary to save each other over and over again. The way you've hodgepodged this group of unlikely allies together and they worked. They really worked. You never lost sight of any of the characters, they were all true to form, and the combination of bristle and snark and humor was always perfect.

I also kind of loved that while the end got averted, things weren't all wrapped in a nice little bow in the end. The aforementioned last words of Lucifer along with having to put him back in the Cage will haunt Gabriel and Michael forever. Because, in the end, he was still their brother. And Michael became Death and is still lost and unhappy. Gabriel's in heaven doing a job he doesn't care for but feels he has no other choice about it. (And yet I love that Sam and Gabriel went from pretty much hatred in the beginning to begrudging respect to leaving and accepting candies from each other in the end.) Crowley actually came away rather unscathed but the rest have so much mental shit to sort through, the least of which not being that Cas and Dean will most likely have to live with the fact that they'll probably be hunted themselves in the future.

Aaaaaaand I'm officially leaving the most long-winded comment in the history of ever now but I didn't stop to comment on any of the previous chapters so I feel I'm allowed. ;)

But, yes, I LOVED this. You are amazing. Take a bow.

Date: 2011-09-20 04:17 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Oh my goodness, thank you so much for such wonderful and effusive comments! Sorry it took so long for me to reply, but I was out of town. This was seriously the best thing to come home to, though!

I find the SPN interpretation of angels as one of the most compelling aspects of the show, so I'm really glad you found my treatment of them effective. They're so epic and alien, and yet so human at the same time, so I had a great time exploring that balance.

I'm also really glad you liked the balance of the ending--I really struggled trying to pull all the threads back together towards the end, so I'm relieved that it worked for you.

So basically, in conclusion I'm just incredibly chuffed to be on the receiving end of your comment, so thank you so much for reading, and for taking the time to leave feedback :)

Date: 2011-11-13 02:58 pm (UTC)
ext_383825: (Default)
From: [identity profile] tanoshi-ame.livejournal.com
I'm glad to have chosen to stick with this story, between 20-something unread tabs of SPN fics that have been sitting on my browser for days.

Being new to the fandom, I have yet to read a lot, and, On the Wings of War is the first story that feels truly satisfying as I read to the very last line. Satisfied, but also heavy. This is a war story, no jokes. No one man show, as players worked in relays to show us their respective intervention and sacrifices in the game. And the best part of it? Each gave all they had, and in the end none walked away unscathed. And the damages might very well be permanent, which makes it all heavier. With all lost, directionless, regret - feelings aftermath, it's no wonder if they question if it was all worth it. The consolation for everyone here, if it could be called that, might be that at least they don't have to bear this damage alone.

With that all said, thank you for writing and sharing this with us. It was an immensely enjoyable read, negative feelings on behalf of the characters and the shit they've been put through aside. XD

Date: 2011-11-13 10:06 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you, I'm so pleased you stuck with it as well! Your comments are really wonderful to hear; when I first started writing this I really wanted it to be messy and dark and difficult without also being unsatisfying, and so I'm very glad it managed to be those things for you. Thank you for reading and for leaving such kind feedback!

Date: 2011-12-09 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katherine diemert (from livejournal.com)
…Just so, so good. I loved absolutely everything, especially the kind of bittersweet yet nonetheless happy ending. Awesome work!

Date: 2011-12-10 04:04 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I'm very glad you enjoyed it :)

Date: 2011-12-18 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elfgirljen.livejournal.com
That was an awesome fic!

Date: 2011-12-18 03:13 pm (UTC)
ext_443402: (Default)
From: [identity profile] alchemyalice.livejournal.com
Thanks very much!
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